Chapter 6 : The Year of the Broom Closet
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"Yes, Barty was always one of the most gifted students I ever had,” Flitwick remarked as he made his way up a moving staircase with The Grey Lady floating beside him.
“But weren’t there signs? Something that was odd at the time, rather than something you've figured out after years of pondering. Surely someone must have seen something that would cause alarm,” the Grey Lady responded as they waited for the staircase to stop moving.
Flitwick looked down with a small frown on his face. “Yes, my dear, there were signs.” He sighed heavily and wouldn’t make eye contact with her.
“Filius, you know you can trust me with anything.” The Grey Lady put a comforting hand through his shoulder. He shivered at the touch and looked into her transparent face.
“I saw the signs, but I was too… I don’t know, blind might be the right word. I wouldn't let myself believe what was happening.” He looked ashamed.
“Well, when did you first notice the signs?” the Grey Lady asked, and to her surprise, Flitwick smiled.
The year had started like most others, but with one exception. Everyone was ‘together’. Couples littered the halls of Hogwarts, and frankly, it was sickening. Flitwick didn’t ever recall having to give detentions for public displays of affection before this year.
Seventeen students were currently seated in the Charms classroom after hours. And all but were one writing lines along the line of “I will not snog in the corridors like a wild beast in heat while professors are present.” The exception to the aforementioned line was Patrick Esling, who was absentmindedly twirling his quill and looking at the back of June McMillian’s head.
“Mr Esling, unless Ms McMillian’s head is on fire, do not stare at it. It will perhaps go up in flames from the intensity of your lovesick gaze.” Flitwick smiled as Patrick straightened in his chair and started writing lines.
Flitwick walked amongst his students, occasionally having to break up whispers and mend broken quills. He walked past Patrick a few times to make sure he was indeed focused on his paper and not his other pursuits. However, Patrick didn’t stray from his paper again.
After another hour or so, Flitwick called an end to the detention. As the students were handing in their lines, Flitwick noticed that Patrick was chatting with June and writing something on a spare bit of parchment. She giggled and hurried off clutching the paper to her chest.
Flitwick watched as Patrick swaggered out of his classroom and heard the distinct scoff of Rabastan Lestrange waiting for his friend outside the classroom. Flitwick sighed and got up to tell the boys to move along. He stopped before the doorway and listened to the young boys’ idle chatter.
“… lines.” Patrick finished with a smirk.
Rabastan responded with a short laugh and said, “Bet the coot couldn’t handle anything other than that.” Patrick and another young boy laughed, and Flitwick heard them begin to walk away. He peeked his head out the door and could have sworn he saw the back of Barty Crouch’s head.
Two days later, Flitwick was sitting in his office grading papers on Cheering Charms, when he heard laughter from outside his window. He got up to reprimand the students for disturbing his peace, and stuck his head out the window to look below.
Sitting in an alcove below his window, he heard the distinct voices of Barty Crouch and a young female he was almost sure was Aurora Sinstra. A talented match if he ever saw one. Deciding to spare them an interruption, he stuck his head out a little farther in order to reach the clasps of the opened window. In the process, he clearly overheard the couple in the alcove below.
“Barty, don’t be silly,” Aurora was saying. Flitwick frowned at her tone of voice and secretly hoped that she wouldn’t break the young man's heart.
“Aurora, I can assure you that the correct spell for a patronus is Expecto Patronus.” Barty laughed heartily and stepped out of the alcove. “Watch, I will demonstrate.” And with that, the Charms professor saw his brightest student raise his wand, shout the wrong incantation, and fly backward from a rebounded spell.
Aurora squealed in fright and ran to Barty’s aid. “Barty! Oh my God! Barty, are you all right?” Flitwick breathed a heavy sigh and made to close the window and rush down, but shortly after he touched the clasp of the window and had pulled it halfway shut, he again heard laughter from below.
Barty was sprawled out on the grass laughing at the look on Aurora’s face. Flitwick smiled in relief and watched as Aurora offered a hand to help Barty up. He took her hand willingly and pulled her down next to him.
Flitwick heard her sweet laughter and smiled as the two lovebirds laughed on the grass and embraced. He sighed to himself and pulled the window closed to give his students a bit more privacy. He then went back to his desk and continued to grade papers, a permanent smile spread wide across his face.
Over the next few days, Flitwick smiled wherever he went and when asked why he was grinning, he replied with a shrug of his shoulders and that same smile. It was a bit creepy actually, but he didn’t care.
It was with this smile that he patrolled the corridors after hours. It was his turn to pull the late shift and help catch students out of bed. The two prefects assigned to help him had slipped off a while ago. There was no doubt in his mind what they were doing, but he didn’t much mind. He preferred to patrol by himself.
He was on the fifth floor meandering past dozing portraits when he heard a crash from a nearby broom closet. He rushed to the door and pulled it open. His jaw dropped. Inside the closet were none other than Aurora Sinistra and Barty Crouch, she on the floor next to an overturned box of cleaning supplies and he kneeling over her.
Flitwick automatically shut the door and quickly turned around and walked hastily away, trying ever so hard to not think about what he had just walked into. Not only that, but he should've admonished them and sent them off. However, in the unlikely turn of events he'd been unable to even look his favorite student in the eye and could not fathom going back. He heard a door opening behind him and the quickened pace of heavy footfalls. He turned to see Barty hustling to catch up to him.
When Barty had finally caught up he said, “Er, good evening, Professor.” Flitwick was dumbstruck and could only nod at him.
“Look Professor, we weren’t doing what you thought we were doing,” Barty said in a rush, a blush creeping onto his face. Barty looked at his feet and waited for his professor to respond.
“Er, how do you know that I know what you were or weren’t doing?” Flitwick asked, desperately hoping that the boy had a logical brain. Even after years of teaching, Flitwick was still terribly awkward about student romances and the embarrassing thought only caused him to blush further.
Er… well I think that I know that you think that we were doing something which we weren’t because you actually don’t know that we weren’t doing that thing that you thought we did,” Barty said, a small smile appearing on his face.
Flitwick could do nothing but laugh. “Boy, I didn’t follow a word you said. But here is what I’m going to do. I will walk down to the fourth floor to look for the prefects, and you and Ms Sinistra can go back to the common room and no one will have to know that we met up.”
Barty’s small smile turned into a large grin. “Thanks, Professor.” With that, Barty turned and met up with Aurora, who had been waiting by the door. He took her hand, and they made their way to the staircase, speaking in whispers about what had just happened.
Flitwick made his way down to find the prefects, and that same smile crossed his face as he thought of the easy escape he had just given to his brightest student.
Two weeks later, Flitwick was again covering night patrol, this time in place of Professor McGonagall. She had a bad cold and had been in the infirmary all week, so Flitwick had offered to cover her shift.
He sighed as he walked down corridor after corridor, occasionally meeting up with a ghost or a prefect. He was really bored and half wished that he would catch a student out of bounds. It was a mean thought, but he was tired and really needed some excitement to keep his eyes open.
He found himself on the fifth floor, and smiled as he remembered that night not too long ago. And like déjà vu, he again heard a crash from the same broom closet. He sighed and smiled, ready to yet again reprimand young Barty for being out of bounds.
He opened the door and said, “All right you two, that’s enough of this kissy kissy business―" Then he stopped short and actually saw who was in the broom closet. Rabastan Lestrange was on the floor, legs sprawled over the contents of the box of cleaning supplies. It looked like he had tripped. Barty was trying to help Rabastan to his feet. Both boys were frozen in position.
Flitwick frowned. “What are you two doing out of bed at this hour? Get back to your dormitories at once.” Filius marched the two young men out of the closet and made sure that they were on their way back to their respective common rooms.
Flitwick noted the way Barty looked at him, like Flitwick had interrupted something important. Filius didn’t like that look and had never seen Barty stare at anyone with so much hate in his eyes. It was unsettling to say the least.
Flitwick finished his story with a frown. “I never did find out what they had been talking about. But that look on his face has haunted my dreams many a night.”
The Grey Lady put a comforting hand through his shoulder again. “You didn’t know he would turn out like this. You couldn’t possibly have known. There was nothing you could have done.”
“Nothing?” Flitwick asked this question more to himself than to her. “There was plenty I could have done, but I was too stupid to see it. You don't need to comfort me, Helena, I know you have never believed in Barty.”
“Maybe not, but I believe wholeheartedly in you, Filius. You are one of the smartest people I know. If you couldn’t have seen it coming, no one could’ve.”
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