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March 1, 1889 — Darrow/Bilton Flat

Things had been a little off in their flat for weeks now. It had started innocuously, with hinges starting to squeak when they weren't old enough to merit it, or curtains moving from opened to closed over windows without anyone having moved them. Things graduated quickly enough to minor annoyances: windows finding their way open on frosty mornings; doors being stuck in their jams; the lock on their front door ceasing to function. Still, Alfred had been able to ignore everything that was happening. His standards for living arrangements were decidedly low, after living in the wilderness for years. If he had to apparate in and out of the bathroom because the door wouldn't open, well, he could deal with it. Dealing with a myriad of little annoyances was easier than having to put any effort into dealing with it, whatever it was that was causing things to go awry.

He was content to put it off indefinitely, but that afternoon he reached the limit of his patience. Alfred had apparated into the bathroom, done his business, and was just putting his pants back on when the door — which hadn't budged in days — decidedly to suddenly fall off of its hinges. He had to jump back to avoid being crushed by it. This left him wedged into the very small amount of floor space between the fallen door and the edge of the claw-foot tub, his trousers still unbuttoned, looking stunned. It took him a moment to process what had happened, and another moment to realize that his flatmate was staring at him from the hallway on the other side of the doorway.

Alfred hurriedly fastened his trousers. "We've got to do something about this," he said in exasperation.
The bathroom door had been a source of contention for the past few days. One never knew if the other was in it as it had remained stubbornly closed despite any matter of attempts they had made to open it. Asha, who was slowly learning to apparate (after being stuck in fog covered Hogsmeade by his lack of magical skill Asha had convinced a co-worker to help him and had begun to take classes) was wary of attempting such a feat into the bathroom. The worry of splicing on his mind. He’d rather taken to haunting the pub and the offices of the Daily Prophet rather than remain in the flat with the daunting prospect of having to apparate to use the loo.

It was therefore rather a surprise when he returned home from the offices for a meal to hear a bang from the bathroom door. Asha turned with a startled look and found Darrow wedged into the small space, the door now barring his way out instead of in, pants halfway up. But what made Asha laugh was the look on Darrow’s face of pure shock. The rumbling laughs were not because of Darrow’s ill fortune, it simply was that they could no longer ignore what was happening around the flat.

Q-quite right.” Asha tried to compose himself, chuckles still echoing through his words. “[b]Wouldn’t be quite right to have an obituary that includes ‘killed by malicious flat’.” Asha had rather hoped that the oddities the flat had developed would die out, now it was more likely that they were here to stay. Shame, didn’t seem he could have uneventful month. Maybe when spring came around.
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   J. Alfred Darrow

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At least Bilton was laughing it off. As much as Alfred didn't care to be laughed at, he recognized it would have been far more awkward if the other man had just stared or gotten flustered by the sight of Alfred half-dressed. He didn't join in the laughter, but shook his head to clear it. He didn't want to stay where he was, wedged between the fallen door and the bathtub, so he surveyed the bathroom floor and found a space he could pick his way across to the hallway. As unusable as the bathroom had been before, without a functioning door, it was going to be even worse now. Unless they hung up a curtain, or something, it was out of commission for good. The curtain wasn't really even a good solution to the problem, though, because it would still involve the flatmates being able to hear each other in the loo, which wasn't ideal.

"Any idea what started this?" Alfred asked as he reached the hallway, glancing back at the fallen door. "I don't even remember when things started acting up. This is certainly the first time the flat's gotten violent, though," he remarked, nudging the door with his toe. It could have left some serious bruises, had he not jumped back out of the way. What was next, flying flatware? Books hurled across the room? Or maybe just more windows being left open in the snow or freezing rain of London?
Alfred managed to find a way out of the bathroom, something that Asha was grateful for. He hadn’t exactly been looking forward to trying to unwedge the man from his predicament.

Asha was so familiar with odd things happening he honestly couldn’t say if he had realized it was the flat or just something that was around him. Whenever it had started though he certainly couldn’t say. Nor just what would have started it… except, perhaps, his own magnetic lack of luck. But that would change one of these days, he was sure of that.

Can’t say. Maybe it had something to do with the goblins moving out?” The goblins who had once taken up residence below them had packed up their belongings at the end of the year and moved on.

Though I’d be happy if it simply went back to mundane instead of violent.” Asha admitted. “Any ideas on what to do about it?” Asha wasn’t exactly a wealth of magical information after all. He’d only managed to get through three years at Hogwarts - something he considered lucky given how his life had turned out. At least it hadn’t been one year.
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   J. Alfred Darrow

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The goblins downstairs hadn't seemed like the type to curse a place when they left, Alfred didn't think. Particularly since their departure had seemed rather mundane. He hadn't been very close to any of them, but his understanding was that they'd simply found another place to live, not that they'd been evicted or hounded out, or anything that would imply they would leave bad energy behind. Maybe the place had always been cursed, and the goblins downstairs had owned some sort of good luck charm or protective artifact that had prevented these things from happening. That seemed more likely than one of them cursing the upstairs flat before they left — but like Bilton, Alfred could think of nothing else that could have sparked the string of bad luck.

"We're not likely to get any new tenants down there if that flat is having the same luck we are," he remarked. Not that it mattered much to him whether the downstairs half of the house was occupied or not. He had a slight preference towards having downstairs neighbors, since he was so often away from the house, and neighbors made it less likely that their flat would be robbed while he was gone. Bilton was here fairly consistently, though, and at least in theory would prevent any vagrants from trying to take up residency in Alfred's room while he was out to sea.

Regarding what to do about it... it occurred to Alfred that the Ministry sometimes got involved in unexplained magical mishaps. That was Zelda's department, actually, and she'd had to pay his shipyard a business-related call once before. How embarrassing would it be if they filed a complaint to the Ministry and Zelda had to come out and fix it for them! He was hardly a magical savant, particularly given how long he'd lived without a wand, but he didn't want her to see him as entirely helpless when it came to wandwork.

Still, they couldn't just carry on like this.

"I might know someone who could help," Alfred mumbled, hoping Bilton didn't ask him to elaborate on the nature of his relationship with that particular someone.
"No, I don't suppose we are." Asha agreed, although he was unsure if the rooms below them were suffering from the same ill tempered luck that they were. "That is if they are suffering the same fate as us." He put forth. "Perhaps we should ask the landlord?" Although Asha rather preferred they didn't. The landlord seemed an nice enough man, but in his experience the less one went to them the better of they were to be. Indeed, they should try to solve this on their own before bringing in the man who actually owned the place.

In the time that Asha had gotten to know his roommate he had learned that if there was anyone in the world who might share the same string of rotten luck that had shadowed his every move since birth, Alfred Darrow may just be the man to do so. He had also learned that neither of them were particularly apt at spells. Which apparently was to their determent now. But if Asha had heard him right Darrow may very well know someone. "May be time to call on them." He agreed with a cheerful grin. "I'd rather no wake up to snow on my only wool trousers again." He added cheerfully as if there really were nothing amiss with cold trousers to greet one's legs in the mornings.

[Image: vgWOme.jpg]
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Alfred shared Bilton's reluctance to get the landlord involved, though he didn't have any very good reason why. What was he afraid would happen? That the man would raise their rent for the inconvenience of having to have the place de-spooked? That he would declare it uninhabitable and evict them? That he would find the cause of the disturbances, realize it had something to do with one of the two remaining tenants, and file some sort of criminal report?

Actually, yes, all of those were reasonably likely outcomes, now that he thought about it. Alfred might very well have brought something back from somewhere or other that was cursed, even without knowing it. Bilton might have picked something up locally to the same end. And it was anyone's guess whether the landlord would even be able to fix the place. If he couldn't, they would either be back to square one, or worse off than they started, depending on how he reacted to the situation. No, best to leave him out of things unless it was absolutely necessary.

"Yeah," Alfred agreed. "We should do anything we can to fix it ourselves first. No telling what the landlord would even do about it. And if there are disturbances downstairs, it's not as though they're bothering anyone at the moment," he pointed out. "I'll send her an owl and see what she thinks."
"Great." Asha nodded, "And in the meantime I can try to think of a spell." Surely he could find something that might help, that wouldn't result in accidentally exploding something. "Do you think curses are scared of fire?" He mused, brow furrowing in consideration. After his experiences last summer he rather doubted it. "Well, perhaps not. Surely I can think of something else." As if this solved the problem Asha shrugged and went to grab the remains of a loaf of bread for his meal. That was until the bread flew three feet from Asha's hands out the window. "Oh come on! Not the food too." He stared mournfully after the stale loaf of bread. "Oh well, we'll figure something out soon. Perhaps your friend might have better luck."

[Image: vgWOme.jpg]
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"I'm sure she will," Alfred said emphatically. It wasn't hard to have better luck than his flatmate, and the comment about fire had worried him. The last thing anyone wanted was Bilton trying to start some sort of ritualistic fire in the middle of their flat. They were living upstairs — they'd probably fall straight through the floor if they weakened the floorboards. Assuming they didn't just burn to death first.

"Please don't catch anything on fire before she gets here," he said, slipping out of the hallway and back towards his bedroom.

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