At the Hogs Head Inn, a short wizard with bandy legs, long scraggly ginger hair, bloodshot baggy brown eyes with a perpetual 5 o'clock shadow and takes out a cig to smoke. Despite always perpetually smelling of tobacco and alcohol that never did much to stop Mundungus Fletcher from acting out on his vices.
"Why so nervous Mundungus?" Ventured to say the owner and barman of the Hog's Head.
Mundungus almost chokes on the cloud of smoke he was holding in. Loudly coughing he put out his cig as his already bloodshot eyes turn watery. "Jus' waiting for someone, Aberforth." Mundungus croaked as he wiped his face with his dirty coat sleeve.
Long, stringy, wiry grey hair and beard, but short enough to only reach his chest. Aberforth Dumbledore carefully studied Mundungus through the dirty lenses of his spectacles. Despite the dirt on the lenses, his eyes were a piercing, brilliant blue much like that of his elder brother. Eyes suddenly narrow before a loud snort escaped from him.
"You would do well to ignore the summons, Mundungus," Aberforth gruffly said. "Dumbledore never asks for no reason and often times, the price is found to be too high."
Mundungus seems to be visibly startled by the response. "But 'tis Dumbledore! And I owe him quite a lot, ya know. He did save me-."
"As I said before, Dumbledore tends to collect with added interest," Aberforth bitterly said, before turning his back on Mundungus to serve another customer. His barman's apron was a bit grimy, but nothing too bad that a cleaning charm couldn't fix. Which was all it had seen for some time in all honesty.
Mundungus didn't quite know what to make of the answer he'd just received. Quickly putting the conversation out of mind, he took a sip of the butterbeer for him. Lacking in a bit of a kick, but he knew better than to arrive slovenly drunk before Dumbledore. It was best to stick to the lower end of things for now.
The door of the bar one more opens to reveal the rare cloaked figure of Albus Dumbledore. "Mundungus," Dumbledore called out causing Mundungus to spill some of the butterbeer down his shirt. Quickly wiping his mouth with his sleeve, he reaches into his pocket and drops coins onto the bar, before hurriedly making his way past the other patrons of the pub.
"Ah, sorry," Mundungus apologized as he followed Dumbledore out of the door failing to notice that Dumbledore could not seem to meet the sharp gaze of Aberforth at the bar.
"No, it's perfectly alright," Albus Dumbledore said as the tip of his bright robes peeked out from underneath his cloak as they walked. "And how has your evening been, Mundungus?"
"Well, sir," Mundungus stammered, before hesitating to say, "Er, Dumbledore, are ye sure that ye wish to go to the Monarch? It's not a very nice place at all, unlike the Hogs Head Inn."
"I am given to understand that is the case," Dumbledore said quite cheerfully. "It was quite the eye-opening experience in all honesty."
"Er, yes, that being the case, are ye really sure you wish to meet Sanderson, Dumbledore?" Mundungus reluctantly asked again. "He's not someone ya ever want to meet under any sort of circ.u.mstances. Much less 'ave an amicable conversation with."
"I'm fairly certain, Mundungus," Dumbledore firmly said as Mundungus only further wilted under the bright gaze.
"Ah, yes, in that case, er-." Mundungus warily holds out a dirty coat arm for Dumbledore to take. Dumbledore must have a bit of reprehension by the entire situation as he only rather lightly clutched at the coat sleeve. "Right then, hold on," Mundungus said, before apparating away with a small pop.
The two of them appeared on the outskirts of London as Dumbledore was quick to remove his hand from Mundungus's sleeve. "Er, follow closely please," Mundungus muttered as he led them to the nearby pub in the distance by the name of Monarch.
Ill at ease, Mundungus pushed the door open and entered the smoke-filled pub with Dumbledore in tow. None of the patrons pay much attention as they laugh, shout, talk, and generally amuse themselves by various means. Out in the corner of one of the booths, one can even see a snake basket being brought out from underneath the table. A sleek, venomous cobra emerges as the wizards take turns poking the cobra in the head. The winner is whoever manages to poke the cobra the most without being bitten.
Trying not to cringe, Mundungus fakes his bl.u.s.ter as he leads Dumbledore all the way to the old back booth. Dumbledore must have been surprised as a faint gasp of astonishment escapes him at seeing the figure seating in the booth. An old weathered man with neat cut white hair and a knit wool jumper glances up from his romantic novella.
"Mundungus, what did I say about you ever appearing here ever again?" Sanderson firmly said as two burly wizards standing guard at the booth flex their muscles.
"I understand, Sanderson, sir!" Mundungus hastily said. "But I was asked to by Dumbledore, sir, to be his guide to this place."
Sanderson's wolfish yellow eyes flicked onto the figure behind as his eyes slightly widen in recognition. "In that case, welcome, Professor to this humble establishment of mine," Sanderson rather courtesy said. "Although, Mundungus if you would be so kind as to wait by the bar. I'm sure the Professor and I have some matters to discuss that we do not want to be overheard."
Mundungus didn't have a chance to protest as the two burly wizards easily grab him by the forearms over to the bar and roughly sit him down. The wizards in the bar instantly get the hint as a loud scramble is seen as they grab their coats and leave clinking coins as payment out on the tables. Those gambling with the cobra fearlessly stuffed the furious hissing snake back into its basket before leaving like the wind. In mere minutes the pub was a desolate as a desert.
"Please have a seat, Professor," Sanderson said as he gestured for Dumbledore to have a seat before him.
"Thank you, I'm very much obliged," Dumbledore said as he took the seat before the owner of the pub.
"A drink, Professor?"
"No, I'm fine. Thank you."
"Suit yourself," Sanderson said as he took a sip of his ale. "Now, let us be direct, Professor, I am not one for walking around in circles. Why has your esteemed self, lowered himself to come to see little old me?"
"First, it is the matter of offering my condolences on the strange and abrupt disappearance of your cousin, Professor Adric," Dumbledore sincerely replied.
"Thank you, Professor," Sanderson said. "But my cousin has not gone missing, he's very much dead."
"Oh?" Dumbledore blinked as his gaze turned a bit piercing. "And why do you say that, Sanderson?"
"My academic cousin would never have left his precious books behind, Professor. No, he'd rather have seen them burnt in the fireplace as kindle then have them taken away," Sanderson said as he made circles with his finger on the cover of his book. "No, I'm rather certain that he is very much dead. Why I do not know, but I am certain of that much."
"That brings us to the second matter," Dumbledore said as he withdrew a crumpled-up letter from his inner robes. "This was found among his belongings. I have not shared it with any of the other professors, but I must ask. What exactly where you and your cousin searching for at Hogwarts?"
Sanderson carefully took the held-out letter and reread it again. Sanderson is silent for a moment wondering how much he can say, before finally saying, "I was given a prophecy of sort. I was asked to follow the snakes to find that which I sought. And my cousin was aiding me in finding out who or what that was. He must have found something as he went missing and is surely very much dead."
"And what is that you seek, Sanderson?" Dumbledore asked as he leaned forward.
"An unknown enemy," Sanderson said with some satisfaction at seeing Dumbledore visibly startle at the response.
"Truly? Then why the urgency, why not go to the Auror's?" Dumbledore said with a bit of a frown.
Sanderson throws his head back and laughs for a good time. Gasping, he wipes the tears from his eyes and says, "Oh, Professor, that was a good one. I haven't laughed like that for some time."
Dumbledore clearly did not look amused as Sanderson more solemnly continued, "Those of us that live on the fringes keep to our own, Professor. Besides I'd no more trust an Auror to find my lost boot than for a thief to mend his ways." Sanderson's eyes lingered on Mundungus's figure at his last words.
"But in all honesty, Professor something is coming," Sanderson said as his wolfish eyes flickered back onto Dumbledore. "You can feel it too, Professor, or else you wouldn't be here."
Sanderson pauses to fiddle with his drink. "And though I rule in the darkness, I am a fair man in my own way. That which is coming is something, murderous that has no qualms about killing the innocent. I can tell it's a monster unlike any other I've ever seen nor felt."
Dumbledore nods and says, "Perhaps."
Rising to his feet, Dumbledore nods his head and says, "Thank you for speaking with me, Sanderson."
"Always a pleasure, Professor," Sanderson said as he watched the two men leave the pub, but most especially the relived Mundungus that flew out as though his arse was on fire.
"What do you make of that, Bertram?" Sanderson asked out loud.
The lean wizened bartender says, "The Professor seemed honest enough. I do believe that he suspects that there is something more than what he was told, but nonetheless, he is willing to let things lie and remain as they are."
"I found that to be true as well," Sanderson admitted. "But that did not stop him from trying to glimpse into my mind."
"Oh, so the rumors are true?" Bertram visibly startled.
"It would seem so," Sanderson mused as he took a sip of his ale.
"And did he get anything?" Bertram asked.
"Nothing beyond confirmation of my words," Sanderson dismissively said.
"And your Aunt?"
"Utterly distraught over my cousin's disappearance," Sanderson said with a growl as his wolfish eyes seemed to glow in the pub's dim lighting. "He will be avenged."
"Of course," Bertram declared matter-of-factly. "What will you have me do, sir?"
"We are getting close to seeing the snake's tail," Sanderson hissed. "Set out the bait."
"It might take some time, sir," Bertram replied as he began to polish the bar mugs again.
"I've waited long enough," Sanderson said as he opened his novella again. "But I can afford to wait a bit more." Bertram nods in silent agreement as he returns to toiling away as before. The cogs were beginning to move and soon they would start to churn.