Of Grumblings and Grimaces
Loud explosions riddled the castle at unexpected moments, shaking all corners of a tiny office until dust fell from the ceiling. Stooping under a desk with his beloved clutched near, was a dishevelled man with long, unkempt grey hair. The castle shook again with another thunderous boom and the man grumbled to himself, occasionally taking a chance to peer out from under his old, but sturdy desk. The cat in his arms mewled with irritation and immediately he let her go. She stepped delicately through the office before glancing back at him. Almost as if he had shooed her out himself, the cat hurried through the door.
The man frowned. He told the Headmaster since the beginning of the school year that he wanted to retire. He didn’t belong here. He had absolutely not a drop of magic running through his veins. Not that he wanted the whole world to know that. Some people in particular would skin him alive. Snape, however was adamant. ‘No, Mister Filch,’ he had said with that silky voice of his, ‘I daresay you will be useful when the time comes.’ And in the background of that office, Dumbledore echoed his agreement.
“Belligerent ingrates,” he growled.
He shuffled back under his desk as he heard shouts from outside his room. He didn’t have much to protect himself against the spells of wizards. The very people he’d seen parade through the halls from the time he started working at the school, brandishing their wands ever so casually. Taking everything that’s been handed to them and wasting it away as if they just didn’t care. Not for the first time, he wondered what they were really fighting for out there. They certainly weren’t fighting for him. No one cares for the Squibs anyway. They have nothing to fight for, certainly not magic, they didn’t have any.
He sighed as another spray of dust fell from the wall and everything around him shook. If he ever got out of this mess alive, it would be a miracle. To his right, a lone purple coloured sheet floated down to the ground next to him, landing on his curled fist. He stared at it in horror. He didn’t need to read it to know what it was, the colour was enough. But still there it was. Another thorn in his side, hell bent on sending him to the grave.
The bright red stamp in the centre of the letter did nothing to ease him. Angrily, he crumpled the offensive note and threw it far away from him. Stupid Kwikspell. It was a farce, he was sure of it. Madam Nettles and Warlock Prod deserved to be hung up by their thumbs but as most things he wanted in this world, he most certainly would not get. He had failed.
The scraping of the door on the dusty floor startled him; he jerked involuntarily upwards and hit his head on the underside of his desk. Swearing loudly, he crawled out on his hands and knees, sporting a large red welt at the very top of his head.
Standing before him were two cats: his own beloved and a tabby cat, the latter of which gave him a bemused look. If he hadn’t hit his head, Mr Filch would be sure that it raised an eyebrow at him. Blinking rapidly, he staggered to his feet and looked down at the cats with his hands on his hips.
“Professor McGonagall?” he wheezed, addressing the tabby cat.
The cat nodded and disappeared, in its place, stood a stern-looking witch in emerald green robes. McGonagall glared at him over the top of her square-framed spectacles.
“Mr Filch,” she began, with her lips pursed, “we need your assistance.”
Beside Filch, Mrs. Norris, his beloved, leapt up on the desk and stared at them both. Absently, he reached over and stroked the cat’s head.
“I don’t see how I could be of much help, Professor,” he answered bitterly.
Frowning, the deputy headmistress crossed her arms over her chest. “Don’t be ridiculous, Mr Filch. I’m quite sure you can do what I am about to ask you.”
McGonagall raised an eyebrow but otherwise ignored the irritation laced in his tone. “I would like for you to help Madame Pomfrey in getting the students out of the school. You know the secret passages and pathways of the school better than anyone else.”
Filch resisted the urge to smile. Of course he knew the school better than anyone else. It was he who took care of it after the little monsters set off dungbombs in the corridors, it was he who was left to mop up the muck on the floor when they traipsed through the mud and it was he who in the slightest notion of trouble immediately appeared to put an end to it.
The fact of the matter was Argus Filch loved this school, perhaps not the students who attended it though. It was his dream to come to Hogwarts as a boy but was crushed when he never got a letter. His parents, he remembered didn’t have the heart to tell him he hadn’t shown signs of magic. They were too ashamed.
He raised his chin defiantly at the memory. Dumbledore was kind enough to let him work here thus allowing him to live at least part of his dream. As it turned out, the Headmaster was right, he had been called. As insignificant as the job would be to anyone else, Filch would proudly take up arms to preserve the thing he loved so much: the school and magic. They had given him a chance and now was his turn to do the same. It was better than staying in his office, cowering under his desk until he was found.
“Alright,” Filch nodded tersely, “I’ll help.”
Filch thought he saw a faint smile on the old woman’s face as he shuffled through the door which she held open for him. He chuckled a little to himself at his new found bravery, maybe he would’ve been sorted into Gryffindor. Leading her down the hallway, he frowned at the destruction he met.
“None of this would have happened if they’d just let me hang them by their thumbs!”
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