13 Days of All Hallows’ Eve: “The Mad House-Elf”

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[box type=”info” align=”aligncenter”]WARNING: Contains violent content[/box]


Knock, knock, knock.

The dormitory glimmered softly in the lake’s murky starlight.

“Did you hear that?” whispered Tracey Davis loudly.

She heard Daphne turn over.

Silence, just the lapping of the lake at the dormitory walls.

Tracey was just drifting to sleep when…

Knock, knock, knock.


“Can you sleep?” whispered Tracey even more loudly.

There was no answer.

She concentrated on slowing her own heartbeat, counting until she began to drift…

Knock, knock, knock.


“Are you sleeping?” Tracey asked the room again.


“Not. Anymore. I. Can’t,” growled Pansy, each word punctuated by a very loud very angry sounding thud.

Pansy ripped open Tracey’s hangings, her pug-like face loomed over her. Tracey shrank back instinctively.

“Sorry, Pansy,” she whimpered.


Another set of curtains was pulled back. Tracey heard Daphne yawn.

“Did you hear something, Trace?” Daphne’s sweet-looking face came into view.

“I thought I heard something…” Tracey squeaked, cowering under Pansy’s glare.

Daphne shrugged. “It’s probably just that house-elf who went mad.”


“Ergh.” Pansy looked down at Tracey disdainfully. “What kind of Slytherin are you? Honestly…”

“It is Halloween.” Tracey tried and failed to defend herself. She wilted under Pansy’s withering gaze.

“Did you hear her knocking?”


“Is that what you heard? Someone in the walls knocking?”

“I-I don’t know…”


Pansy looked from Daphne to Tracey like a cat with a mouse in its paws.

“You don’t know the story of the mad house-elf?” sneered Daphne.

“N-n-no… I know you’re trying to scare me. I know it’s not true!”

Daphne smiled running her hands through her luxurious auburn hair.

“But it is true…”

“It happened in this very room…” grinned Pansy.


“I’m not listening!” cried Tracey turning over, clutching her pillow to her head.


“You’re the one who wanted to stay awake.” Daphne snapped, snatching Tracey’s pillow, roughly scratching Tracey’s arms with her long sharp fingernails in the process.

“So I’m going to tell you the story. It’s a true story, actually.”


Tracey tried her best not to listen, eyes shut tight. Pansy slapped her.

“Daphne’s going to tell you a bedtime story. Don’t be rude.”


Daphne smiled her angelic smile.

“Once there was a boy. A Slytherin just like you and me. He did his homework just like you. Slept in these dormitories just like you. Ate at the Halloween feast. Just like you.”


“I’m not going to be scared by that,” muttered Tracey. Daphne watched her with those predatory green eyes. Tracey didn’t say anything else.


“But this particular boy was the son of the Headmaster. And he was bored like so many of us are,” Daphne drawled.

“He complained about his homework, about the castle, about the food, and his teachers… his father ignored him. The usual poor little rich boy.


“But this one was different from the others. He decided to have some fun.


“He would torment the giant squid for hours, dangling morsels of ocean fish in front of its tentacles, forcing it to tie itself in knots.


“He would let Bludgers loose in the Great Hall.


“He would plant Permanent Sticking Charms on his dirty clothes to annoy the house-elves and charm the food on the tables to rot.


“One day the boy was taken ill. He was very sick. His whole body had gone scarlet; the pain in his hands and feet was unbearable. He constantly retched and moaned.


“The matron didn’t know what to do, and he was transferred to St Mungo’s. When he came back a few weeks later, most of his hair had fallen out. A few weeks after that, he was dead.


“But soon more and more students were taken ill. All with the same symptoms. Pain. Nausea. Vomiting. Diarrhea. Eventually their hair started falling out, too.


“While all this was going on above the ground, the house-elves in their cozy kitchens were completely unaware. All they knew was they no longer had to deal with the aftermath of whatever it is young wizards and witches did. There were no floors covered in lava or Engorgement Charms gone horribly wrong, no Permanent Sticking Charms, and no Bludgers.


“Thally, an old wizened house-elf, smiled to herself as she sipped her tea.

“She was a lovely house-elf – very dedicated to her cooking and always had time to help teach the elflings, whether it was how to make the best brandy butter or how to clean the highest shelf with a click of their fingers.



“It had been a long day, as Thally rocked herself back and forth in her chair, knitting an orange blanket for the newest elfling.

“’Thally!! Thally!! Thally!’ cried one of the younger house-elves, stumbling over his small feet. He was in tears as he knelt at her side.

“‘Migling, what’s wrong?’ She drew him up. He stood shuddering and gasping.

“‘M-M-M-Migling c-c-can’t d-d-do it!!’

“Thally frowned. Her memory was as sharp as a Kneazle’s, and she knew the entire week’s schedule like the back of her wrinkled hand.

“‘The Gryffindor dormitory?’

“Migling nodded.

”Fourth year? Boys? Initials TW?’

“Migling nodded again.

“Thally smiled and wiped away his tears. ‘Don’t you worry. It’ll be sorted in a jiffy.’


“After the other house-elves had gone to sleep, Thally took her special silver teapot and a yellow tea cup with a purple rose on it to the Gryffindor dormitory.


“She crept up the staircase, her eyes reflected the moonlight, as she poured TW his cup of tea.

“’Sleep well,’ she smiled, smoothing TW’s curly red hair. ‘Tomorrow you’ll be a little calmer.’



“The next night she went back to the Gryffindor dormitory. She poured her tea into TW’s empty teacup and smoothed his curly red hair. ‘Tomorrow you’ll be a little calmer.’


“And the next. And the next.


“Soon TW had moved away from the dormitory. Thally smiled to herself.



“A few weeks later, another house-elf came to Thally.

“’Please, Miss Thally, please, I’ve tried so hard. But I still can’t unstick a Permanent Sticking Charm!’

“Thally smiled.

“’Is this in the Slytherin dormitory?’

“’Yes Miss Thally!’



“’What are the student’s initials?’


“’Don’t you worry. It’ll be sorted in a jiffy.’


“Thally took her special teapot, and a small blue tea cup, and waited until everyone was asleep. She crept up the stairs and laid the cup at BH’s bedside.


“She smoothed BH’s long brown hair. ‘Tomorrow you’ll be a little calmer.’



“But the next night, when Thally went to refill the cup, it wasn’t empty.


“She stared at it. How could BH not have drunk it? She’d put a heating spell on it and everything.


“She frowned. Something needed to be done about that Permanent Sticking Charm. She glanced around, before her eyes landed on a Ballycastle Bats poster. Her eyes narrowed.


“She looked down at BH and stroked her hair. ‘Tomorrow,’ she promised.



“The next night Thally was disappointed but not surprised to find the tea cup full. She’d brought her tea pot, but she had also brought a chocolate éclair just in case. She laid it on BH’s nightstand.


“She smoothed BH’s long brown hair. ‘Tomorrow you’ll be a little calmer.’



“The next night the chocolate éclair was still there. And so was the tea.


“This was going against all of Thally’s plans. Hot anger welled up inside her. How dare this rebellious little witch refuse her medicine. She watched BH sleep, her eyelashes fluttering slightly.


“Thally frowned.


“The next night, Thally brought jam donuts. The next, treacle tart. But they remained at BH’s bedside untouched.


“Thally could barely breathe. BH had to go. She had to leave. Thally needed to get rid of her.



“The next night, Thally found herself choosing her favorite cleaver. If the Permanent Sticking Charm wouldn’t come off, she would make it come off.

“She crept into the room that she had been in so many times before. Her presents were stacked up in a pile next to BH’s bed. Some were even on the floor.


“Ungrateful, she thought.


“She levitated herself in front of the Ballycastle Bats poster, casting a Silencing Charm around the bed. The name Berenice Hardcastle was printed along the bottom of the poster. She looked at it for a second more, her cleaver poised, before thrashing at it. Once, twice, thrice, but it made no difference. The poster remained undamaged.


“Whirling in anger, Thally turned to the bed and brought the cleaver down as hard as she could.


“The brown hair surged upward. Thally panicked, slashing the cleaver this way and that. But hands had found her throat, and she gasped, eyes bulging. A face, blood spilling down one side. An eye half gouged out stared back.


“Thally gasped one last time and fell limp, the cleaver slipping from her grasp.



“Berenice Hardcastle could barely see through the blood. But she could see the limp house-elf in her hands.


“She didn’t know what to do with the house-elf. It seemed to stir in her arms. The bloodied cleaver lay on the floor.


“Berenice decided to conceal the body. She decided explaining what happened would be impossible, and completely unbelievable. After all, she could scarcely believe it herself.


“She wondered if she should cut the corpse into fragments and burn them. Or dig a grave for it in the grounds. Maybe she could pack it in a box like a present and send it away – the owls could drop it in the North Sea. Finally, she decided the best thing to do would be to wall the house-elf up.

“The Slytherin dormitory was perfect for this. Its walls were loosely constructed, and near her bed the wall jutted out slightly, where a fireplace might have existed but had since been filled in and made to look like the rest of the room. Berenice carefully opened it up with magic, before she lay the house-elf in the gap. She glimpsed the cleaver on the floor, before picking it up, and dropping it in, too. Then she walled it back up.


“But forever after Berenice could hear knock, knock, knock. She couldn’t sleep. She watched the place she had buried the elf every night.


Knock knock knock.


“’Eat them; they’re gifts.’ Berenice heard whispers in the walls. ‘Tomorrow you’ll be a little calmer.’



“That’s why you can hear that knocking, Tracey… you can still hear Thally in the walls.


Knock, knock, knock



Author’s note: I’ve based this partially on Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Black Cat and partially on the Thallium murders of 1950s Australia, hence Thally – I’m also assuming witches and wizards aren’t very good with Muggle poisons and/or weren’t expecting it, which is why Thally wasn’t caught – if you can make up a better reason I’m all ears.


For more, check out our All Hallows’ Eve story from Day 1.

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