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Seriously creepy chapter image by the talented Ande @ TDA

Disclaimer:
I claim no ownership of Rowling’s work or the Silent Hill universe.

Chapter Twelve The Flock

There are people here,
That would do you great harm
So please, just try to stay calm
And I’ll get you through this. [1] 


Draco sank slowly down onto a charred bench, his hands clenched into fists. The great iron stake swallowed his gaze like some unholy idol reigning supreme in a wicked little town with abhorrent secrets.

So this was it, then. It all made frightful sense now. The citizens of Silent Hill had been witch hunters, and Alessa Gillespie had had the terrible misfortunate to be born with magic.

Draco forced his eyes closed. Just how many had they burned? In the end, he supposed, it didn’t matter. No wonder why he had been drawn to this place. It was natural, an instinct. How could he not have felt this pain?

Reality descended swiftly on him when Cybil touched his shoulder.

“Hey, are you all right?” she asked in a soft, subtle voice.

Draco worked a muscle in his jaw, rolling his tongue over his teeth as he did so. “The fire started because they set it,” he said. “They must have been burning people for years. I guess it got out of hand that night.”

Cybil said nothing, but let the beam of her flashlight travel up along the naked post of the stake.

“It’s sick,” she muttered, and then, after a long pause, “Are you one of them, Draco? One of the people they hunted?”

Draco did not hesitate this time. “Yes.”

Cybil had no response for him. Her reaction was stolen away as the portrait hole behind them swung open with an eerie, drawn out creak.

“Hold up!” a muffled voice cried. “There’s people in here.”

Both Draco and Cybil whirled around, immediately taking up defensive stances. Gray light filtered into the decaying room as a trio of men shuffled through the portrait. They were each wearing old mining suits and heavy oxygen masks. Lead pipes and ancient-looking lanterns swung in their gloved fists.

“What in the hell?” the same voice barked in disbelief. “We’ve got two of ’em.”

Draco saw Cybil casual drop a hand onto her gun belt. “Who are you people?” she asked.

“Well, I might be inclined to ask the same thing, missy.” One of the men stripped off his mask, revealing a drawn, mottled face and thinning red hair. “Only the demon lets people into Silent Hill these days and not many at that.” He raised his lantern, squinting his ratty eyes. “You from Brahms?”

“Yeah,” Cybil replied shortly. “Do you live in Silent Hill? Do you know what’s going on here?”

The man set his lantern on the floor and looked at his companions, offering them a dry laugh. “That’s more questions than I can answer. Now I don’t rightly know how you two got here, but you better come along with us to the church quick like. It isn’t safe out here in the open.”

“Obviously,” Draco mumbled, his hackles raised.

The man glanced at him briefly, and then looked back at Cybil. “You’re a police officer?”

“I am.”

“And the boy?”

“Are there many more of you in town?”

The man did not prod her. “The flock stays at the church. Christabella keeps us safe.”

The flock.

Draco clenched his fists tighter, remembering Dahlia’s warning about the flock.

“You need to come and talk to her,” the man continued. “I expect she’ll want to meet you.”

Cybil jutted her chin out defiantly, and for that, Draco was glad. “We’d rather leave town without incident. Is there a way out?”

Again, the group of strange men laughed hoarsely.

“Sorry officer, there ain’t no way out of Silent Hill, not least we could figure after twenty years.”

Tension coiled in Draco’s chest like a vicious serpent. He thought of the Dark Mark he’d seen in the school and the wand he now pocketed. If Dahlia had sensed the magic in his blood, could these people as well?

Cybil seemed to take notice of his trepidation.

“We’re not going anywhere just yet,” she said, only to be cut off by the warning peals of the air raid siren.

Draco jumped and collided with Cybil. She caught him and helped him to steady himself. The men looked around wildly.

“Dammit!” the red haired miner cursed.

“I told you we came out too far, Christopher,” a second moaned.

Christopher didn’t respond, but quickly strapped his oxygen mask over his stubbly muzzle. “You folks need to come with us now,” he said over the shriek of the siren, “or else ya’ll are gonna die.”

A terrifyingly familiar sense of entrapment left Draco numb. He thought back to Midwich and the creature that attacked him in the courtyard.

Cybil seemed to read his thoughts. In a mere instant, she half-turned and offered him a mixed look of confusion and desperation.

Draco understood.

They had no choice.

“Come on!” The miners were already through the portrait hole.

Cybil pushed Draco ahead, and together they followed the men back out to the second floor corridor, down a groaning staircase and into the lobby of the Grand Hotel. Pushing his way through the old revolving doors, Draco was at once assaulted by the all too real terror flooding the streets of Silent Hill. Overhead the grey sky churned fitfully, and an earthquake-like rumble raised sections of pavement.

He tripped on a slab, only to be hauled up by Cybil.

“Where are we going?” he panted as she thrust him forward after the men.

“I don’t know.”

“Can we trust them?”

“I don’t know.”

Her uncertainty was out of character and made him all the more frightened. Coupled with the image of iron stake inside the hotel, he began to dread every step. But still, Draco pushed himself to follow the men, the comforting weight of his wand swinging against his thigh.

Halfway down the main avenue, the miners tore around a corner, ducked into an alley and led them into a tangled lot of old car parts.

“…not far!” Christopher called back to them, his voice cut off by the persistent wail of the siren.

Once they were out of the lot and back on the street, Draco caught sight of the church a few blocks ahead.

It was an ugly building. Tall, narrow, faded and markedly missing any emblem of religious significance. There was no Christian cross, no Moon and Crescent, no Star of David. The façade was unnervingly bare, boasting only one thin window made of stained glass.

He stopped in his tracks when he saw the picture portrayed in the colored shards of glass.

The Dark Mark and below, a crowd of robed men and women trampling on broken twigs. No, not twigs, he realized. Wands.

Bile coated his throat.

Cybil stopped running and went back for him just as the sky began to turn black.

“We need to go, Draco,” she insisted.

“They’re witch hunters.”

Her eyes widened with understanding. “I know.”

“They’ve killed my kind…they’ll kill me,” he sputtered.

Cybil gripped his wrist. “I won’t let them,” she said. “I’ll protect you. Do you believe me?”

For a fraction of a second, he stared at her. There was no lie in her eyes, he realized. She was being sincere. And, bloody hell, he trusted her.

“Yes,” he said and together, they fled into the church just as the world shifted.


 




Draco Malfoy was numb. Numb to the gasps of surprise. The whispered accusations. The prying of dozens of diluted eyes that condemned him as a stranger and therefore treacherous. The great doors of the church fell closed behind Cybil and he, locking them inside with a ragged group of lost souls.

The Flock.

Vaguely, he became aware of Christopher prodding him down a few wooden steps and into the church aisle. The pews on either side were crowded with people, necks strained, hands outstretched to snatch at him.

Cybil roughly shoved her way past the onlookers and stood between Draco and them.

“Where’s Christabella?” Christopher called up to the rafters where the flickering shadows of candlelight hinted of ghostly apparitions and deformed creatures.

And all the while, shrieks of nervous persecution and concern rang throughout the supposed sanctuary.

“Strangers! There are strangers!”

“The demon let them in!”

“Christabella? Where is Christabella?”

“She must see them.”

Draco tried not to focus on the shouts and instead directed his attention to unattractive features of the refuge. It was a roughly rectangular building, with the usual peaked roof and plain altar at the end of the main aisle. The walls were colored brown from low candle light, and the long, narrow windows had all been bordered up save for the stained glass above the front door. A paneled balcony wrapped around the church in a semi-circle, reached by two sets of stairs behind the first of the pews. Behind the altar was a small door which led, he guessed, to some sort of backrooms or living quarters.

Despite his desperation to block out the haranguing cries, Draco found himself falling victim to them once more.

The people in pews began to press into the aisle, and Cybil struggled to block Draco. Christopher yanked them both back, pulling them close to his body protectively.

“Christabella!” he called once more.

A woman emerged on the balcony above, raised on thin hand and muttered, “Silence.”

Her voice was soft, delicate almost, and Draco lifted his head in order to make out her form from amongst the shadows. He squinted, but only saw the top of her brown hair.

The church fell deathly quiet.

“What has happened?” Christabella asked, her voice louder this time, ringing with some dark authority that made Draco shiver.

“Strangers!” The question was answered by several cries from the crowd.

Christopher pushed them both forward. “We found them in the Grand Hotel,” he said. “They say they’re from Brahms.”

“But why would the demon let them in?” someone called.

Christabella raised her thin hand once more. “Bring them to me. I will speak with them.”

And as she had ordered, the people in the pews shrank back into the shadows, and Christopher shepherded Draco and Cybil up the aisle, dumb and deaf to the desperate grimness of the sanctuary.





Up close, Christabella was not nearly as impressive as she first had seemed. Draco had better opportunity to observe her as he was seated with Cybil at a table in the back room. They had been placed in what looked like an old kitchen, though the knives hanging from a rack in the corner looked too sinister to be common utensils.

Christabella joined them through a back door which seemed to led from the balcony and she greeted them with a tight, unnatural smile that made Draco draw back a little.

Christopher alone remained in the room with them, guarding the door back into the main church.

It was quite clear. They were trapped.

Christabella stood before them on the opposite side of the table, a small, slight woman in a plain blue dress and heavy, low-heeled shoes. She wore her collar high and buttoned tightly, and her graying brown hair was pulled back into a loose bun.

Perhaps she might have been considered an attractive woman in her youth, though her skin seemed to be stretched too tightly over her sharp cheekbones. There was an air of Puritanical simplicity about her, one that made Draco think of a strict school mistress.

Following Cybil’s example, he kept his hands folded on the table and watched the woman’s every move.

Christabella, in turn, observed them for several minutes before speaking.

“You must forgive the rather hostile reception,” she said at length, her voice quiet once more. “We are not accustomed to strangers in Silent Hill. Please, tell me your names.”

Cybil, thankfully, answered for them both.

“I’m Officer Cybil Bennett of the Brahms Police Department,” she said. “The boy is Draco Malfoy. I was escorting him back to the station when our vehicles crashed on the road outside town. We have no idea how we ended up here.”

Christabella’s small eyes narrowed. “Escorting him? Was he under arrest?”

“No.”

Draco was stunned by Cybil’s response, but grateful. With difficulty, he kept his expression neutral.

Cybil continued on, “Can you tell us what’s going on here? I’ve been to Silent Hill before in the course of my patrols, but…we don’t understand what’s happened here.”

Christabella nodded slowly, the glow from the single light bulb overhead making tiny wrinkles appear on her face. “Of course. The demon rarely reveals Silent Hill to strangers. I will explain things as best I can, but you have to promise to cooperate with me.”

Draco noticed Cybil’s eyebrows shoot upwards. “We do not mean you nor your fellow residents any harm,” she said. “We simply want to get back to Brahms.”

“That may be impossible,” Christabella replied, not bothering to soften the blow, “for as the demon does not allow people into Silent Hill, so does it keep us here. Myself and the congregation have been trapped for twenty years.”

“Since the fire?” Draco supplied, allowing himself to speak for the first time.

Christabella’s sharp gaze found him. “Yes,” she said. “The fire was, after all, the demon’s doing.”

Cybil opened her mouth to respond, but Christabella raised her hand.

“I will try to explain,” she said slowly. “You are from Brahms, Officer Bennett. I assume you know something of Silent Hill’s history.”

“Very little.”

“Then you know nothing of its true history,” Christabella continued. “This community was founded three hundred years ago by settlers from Europe, like most old towns along the East Coast of America. And like most early settlers, these people were fleeing persecution from abroad. You see, they were very special by nature, blessed enough to be born into families with parents possessing wicked powers, but untainted themselves. And because they were pure, because they had no…magic, they were scorned by their sires. Exiled from their homes, they came together in search of refuge and founded Silent Hill, where only the pure could deal.”


Squibs, Draco thought fervently, she’s talking about Squibs! This place must’ve been founded by them.

“For generations,” Christabella continued, “the flock was kept pure through the efforts of our ancestors. They saw to it that no wickedness would touch this place, that the town would remain untainted by the foulness of sorcery. We lived peacefully, happily and freely. But then the demon was spawned through wickedness, when a sorcerer came amongst the flock and poisoned it with one of our children. Dahlia, sadly, was tempted by his wiles and bore a whelp, a witch.”

Draco dared to glanced at Cybil, whose shoulders were set in a firm, tense line. She realized that they were in danger. He thought back to fire blackened forum in the Grand Hotel. His guess had been right. These people were witch hunters.

“Who was the demon?” Cybil asked, her voice dripping with hardened skepticism.

“We do not speak her name,” Christabella replied, her hands twitching convulsively as she sprawled them on the table before her. “We fought to control her for nine years, permitted her to live with us in harmony…but she was strong, and treacherous. By her malignant will, she set the town ablaze and trapped those of us she deemed enemies here with her. Thus it has been for twenty years. Only the demon opens and closes the door to Silent Hill. She must have let you in for a reason.”

Draco sensed a hidden accusation in Christabella’s words. He sunk down defensively in his chair, drawing his arms tightly across his chest to protect herself.

Cybil leaned forward to address the woman.

“I told you,” she said, coldly by calmly, “we came here by accident. Now can you help us find our way out or not?”

But Christabella had eyes only for Draco. She watched him closely with animalistic curiosity, her nostrils dilating as though she could smell the magic on him.

“We will offer you shelter,” she said at length, “but no more.”

 




Author’s Note: Well, I think we’ve finally gotten to the point in this fic where more questions will be answered as opposed to asked. ^_^ By my calculations, there are roughly six chapters left, I honestly can’t believe it!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read! You guys are awesome. And of course, where would this fic be without my phenomenal beta, Renfair? I certainly could not have gotten so far without her help. Chapter Thirteen is finished and should be posted by June 18th. Have a great week!

[1] Excerpt of “A Retinue of Moons/The Infidel is Me” from Oh Perilous World by Rasputina. Lyrics and music by Melora Creager, produced by Filthy Bonnet Co. (2007)
 

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