13 Days of All Hallows’ Eve: “The Creature in the Wardrobe”
It was a particularly dark night for the summer. The Dursleys were entertaining Uncle Vernon’s potential client, Mr. Mason, over dinner. His booming laugh could be heard through every wall in the house, shaking the walls like thunder.
Harry was alone in his room, save for Hedwig. She was sleeping. Odd. Usually she is wide awake at night for hunting. What else do you do in a cage, though? Harry felt the same way, but sleep would not come to him.
Something else would.
As the dinner party downstairs went on, somehow the conversations grew quieter. Harry felt the queerness of the quiet and tiptoed down the steps to see if the conversation had taken a turn for the worse.
Their lips were moving; Aunt Petunia even laughed. Her high, shrill laugh that gave you goose pimples if taken by surprise. But Harry couldn’t hear it. Perhaps he had happened upon a new wizard talent. Completely drowning out the surrounding sounds of the Muggle world.
But he most certainly heard the long creak from his bedroom behind him.
Slowly, he returned to his bedroom, his heart beating faster than normal. Hadn’t he left the lamp on? Strange. He crossed in front of his wardrobe and then Hedwig, awake now, her yellow eyes alive with light and curiosity. As he turned around the bed to light the lamp, he saw them. Another set of eyes in his bedroom. A pair of giant, menacing eyes peering out at him from the wardrobe.
He quickly turned on the lamp, and the eyes were gone.
Imagining things, he thought to himself. I’ve spent so much time in an extraordinary world, I must be creating some kind of illusions in this dull dungeon.
He began drafting another letter to his friend Ron, though he didn’t quite know why. Neither Ron nor Hermione had written him all summer. His best friends, gone the moment they reached King’s Cross. Had he imagined them, too?
The lamp flickered and went out, the small buzz of its life lingering behind in Harry’s ears. He still couldn’t hear the Dursleys. Now he couldn’t see in front of his face. There mustn’t be a moon tonight. Or stars. Just a mass of black clouds draped over Surrey.
The wardrobe banged so hard against the wall that Harry’s heart jumped to his throat. He couldn’t help but let out a small cry. The floorboards creaked. Again. And again.
He felt the back of his chair begin to lean, as if it were trying to spill him from his seat. He grabbed the desk and shut his eyes.
When he opened them, Uncle Vernon was in the door frame, his face red with anger. He was using his rage-filled quiet voice so as not to disturb the guests; Harry could tell by the bulging veins in his neck. But still, he could not hear him. He nodded his consent to whatever Uncle Vernon spat at him, and then the door shut.
His light was back on, and his chair only held the weight of Harry himself. He was sweating. I must have nodded off, he thought, Yes, that’s it. A bad dream. Hedwig stood alert on her perch. She wouldn’t take her eyes off the wardrobe.
Harry decided he ought to go to bed. If he was going to fall asleep over his parchment; he must be exhausted. He changed into his nightclothes, turned off the light, and slid between the blankets.
As he placed his glasses on his bedside table, he caught sight of them again. Huge, glowing eyes in the wardrobe. They were smiling at him from the wardrobe. Not the kind of smile you get when riding a broom for the first time. No, more like a smile he’d seen on Draco Malfoy’s face. The menacing smile you give an enemy. Before you attack.
The eyes were gone. Harry snapped his eyelids shut to block out his bedroom. The eyes, the creaks, the crashes, the dead light bulbs, all of it. He was imagining things. Once he fell asleep, it would all be over.
Except that the body the eyes belonged to decided to join him on his bed. The quick-footed creature went from Harry’s feet to ears in swift steps to stand directly above his head. Harry didn’t dare open his eyes. But he felt the presence. He felt as the hand moved slowly in the dark. He felt it coming closer, closer. He felt the burning on his forehead as the fingers were an inch from his scar; then instincts took over. His arms came up before him and flung the creature to the floor.
Harry sat upright and put on his glasses in time for the eyes to be directly in front of his face once more. Staring. Blank this time. Staring into Harry’s. Reading his thoughts.
Then the door was open again, and his room filled with the light from the hallway. Aunt Petunia stood, pouting.
“Well, at least the Masons have left now. I’d have been absolutely mortified if they heard that raucous. But we are going to bed. So BE QUIET!”
She slammed the door, and the light was gone. But not entirely. He could see the thin line beneath the door.
Actually, the room had filled with the soft, pale light of the moon now. It was full, in fact. Harry glanced at Hedwig, still alert, but noticeably calmer. She gave him a soft hoot of reassurance.
The creature must be gone. But what was it?
Harry removed his glasses once more and slowly drifted to sleep.
Outside his window, Dobby the house-elf watched. Bright eyes hidden behind the leaves of an old oak tree. Perched and waiting for his next opportunity to scare the boy. To remove the wonder of magic from his mind. To keep him from returning to the wizarding world and Hogwarts.
To save him from He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
Today is Day 3 of our 13 Days of All Hallows’ Eve! Are you caught up on the post series?