In this dark and starless night, two boys were running across the back gardens of the manor, not even bothering to conceal their presence since most of the servants were in the underground ballroom.
With one hand dragging along the other boy, Casimir led the way to the stables, where all of Mr. Proulx's collection of creatures were kept.
"Shh... We're here." Casimir whispered quietly, a grin emerging from his face, as if he was genuinely anticipating what was about to come. "Need to stay quiet."
Just as Draco was about to say something, he suddenly found himself unable to speak; all that came out were muffled sounds. It turns out, Casimir had actually covered his mouth with his hand to stop him from talking. Draco glared at Casimir.
"Quiet." Casimir said in a serious way but, his brightly glistening, evergreen eyes showed mischievousness.
Taking a key from his pocket, he unlocked the door to the stables. "Come. It's here." Casimir motioned for Draco to follow.
"Why am I even doing this..?" Draco muttered under his breath but still followed behind Casimir since he was not familiar with the Proulx manor and might just get lost even if he decided to go back.
As they walked, soft green orbs started to come alive, as if they had sensed their arrival and were lighting the way for them through the dark interiors of the stable.
"Come and look!" Casimir waved Draco over, making the boy sigh to himself.
Arriving beside Casimir, Draco struggled to look through the dim light to see what Casimir was so excited to show him.
Gradually, his eyes started to get used to the dimness and he began to see an outline of what seems to be a part eagle, part horse creature. "What is it..?" Draco asked in wonder.
"It is a Hippogriff. Very gentle creature." Casimir said with a grin. His whole expression seeming to say 'I told you, you would like it', causing Draco to look at him with an annoyed face.
"That's not all! Over here!" Casimir then, began dragging Draco from stable to stable, showing him various kinds of magical creatures.
When Casimir was introducing the creatures to Draco, most of them just ignored the two. Of course, there were also a few curious creatures which approached them daringly. Most probably, they were just checking to see if the nighttime visitors brought any snacks with them.
Soon, Draco got to know many kinds of magical creatures, causing his previous annoyance to lessen significantly.
Ah... Dealing with children is so easy. Hopefully, he won't grow up to be a sour individual. Now, that would be a pity.
After walking for a while, Casimir led Draco to an isolated stable at the far end; away from all the other creatures.
Somehow, this set-up caused Draco to feel unsettled. Even the Chimaera's stable wasn't as isolated as this one. Draco thought to himself. Perhaps this creature is much more dangerous than the rest.
Draco took one step back but, he realized; since Casimir led him here, maybe things weren't quite as dangerous as he thought.
Suddenly, Casimir turned around to face Draco, his grin widening. "Now, I will introduce you to the last creature."
"This one is a Skaduwee. Very aggressive creature." Casimir introduced briefly and, just as he was about to continue speaking, a loud bang was heard coming from the inside of the stable, causing Draco to jump back in surprise.
As the creature emerged from the shadows of its stable, the dim glow of the wispy orbs cast an eerie light on it, making the creature look more terrifying than it was supposed to be.
It was gigantic!
The creature was around seven to eight feet tall. It had pitch black fur that seemed to be the embodiment of darkness itself and, various parts of its body were covered in shiny, natural armor.
It's like a walking nightmare! Draco shivered as he saw a golden pair of eyes amidst the dark fur.
"They don't like other creatures..." Suddenly, the creature ran towards the gate of its stable and poked its head out of the open space above it, its head dangerously close to Casimir's and...began licking the boy's cheek softly. "...most of the time."
.... Draco had no words to say.
So far, this night has been the weirdest night that he had ever experienced in his life.
The boy in front of him, Casimir, was also the weirdest person he had met in his life.
Perhaps, if he had chosen to accompany his mother to Milan as he was supposed to instead of going to the banquet on this night, he might have never met this weird boy who would soon change his future.
In the dark, starless sky above the stables where they were in, a single shooting star passed, signifying a change that will come to the future.
When they returned to the ballroom, things were much livelier than when they had left.
The guests were either dancing to the music of the sprites or were discussing with each other about various topics.
"You see? Nobody noticed." Casimir grinned at Draco and said confidently.
"Nobody noticed what?" Suddenly, Casimir heard a grim voice that made his face turn pale.
This time, it was Draco's turn to grin at him, looking like a villain who enjoyed watching the sufferings of others.
QAQ I thought we were friends!
"Ah~ Nice to see you there, father!" Casimir turned around and smiled stiffly to the man who was staring at him coldly.
Aiya! Why does it seem so cold here suddenly?