Ever wondered why Dumbledore lets Filch remain as Hogwarts’ Caretaker? Well, so do I! Anyway…

A fanfic by A. Leon using the works of J.K. Rowling.

Note: If you want to read from the beginning, it starts here.

This is my second story about Harry Potter but my first inside the actual Harry Potter universe.
The timeline would be after Harry’s third year but before his sixth.
I feel compelled to tell you not to expect Harry in this story, though.

Chapter Four: Noodle Soup

The roof of the Great Hall was charmed to reflect the weather outside, and on certain occasions it would show the particular mood most of its inhabitants were in.

That very night, it showed a cloudy sky with lots of fog.

The inspection had yielded no results and one undeniable realization: Hogwarts castle is really too darn huge. At some point, everyone just gave up and came back downstairs searching to eat something and go to bed.

Dobby had been the only elf keen to make dinner. That ment noodle soup, since Dobby couldn’t prepare anything else.

The tables at the Great Hall were four large ones for each house with one large one ment for teachers in the front, set up on a higher platform. Protocol was breached and everybody just took a seat wherever they wanted. Even as Dumbledore arrived, he too had the mind to renounce to his usual chair and joined McGonagall and Snape at the Slytherin table. He rubbed his hands together after summoning his hot plate of soup. He too had a tired appearance.

Dinner was silent, except for the slurping sounds and tinkle of the tin spoons against the china. Nobody had said a word. Either everyone already guessed nobody had found a darn thing or they were all just too tired to care either way.

The mood started to relax as the meal went by.

“Good soup” said Dumbledore, halfway through his plate.

Everyone agreed with a general murmur. Faces lifted from every plate and found each other. Nodding heads and tired smiles appeared on every table. Even Severus Snape seemed in a lighter mood.

Snape had chose to sit at the Slytherin table, which was the first found when you came in through the door from the Entrance Hall. He was sitting facing the wall, as he had preferred not to look at most of his fellow teachers. McGonagall had chose to do the very opposite and sat on the same table facing everyone. She was sitting beside Dumbledore, who faced Snape. She wanted to give her best impression of still being one of their fellow teacher and not an inquisitor looking for who to blame. She hoped she was getting her message accross, but knew she couldn’t force the issue.

The rest of the staff was sitting on the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables. Most had chose to face the door to the Entrance Hall, perhaps in an attempt to get an early warning should any particular danger decided to appear.

Filch was the exception. He was sitting alone at the Gryffindor table, his back to everyone. McGonagall almost felt sorry for him. As a squib, Filch couldn’t perform any magic of his own, nor use a wand. With his sentry cat, Mrs. Norris, he could navigate Hogwarts easily. Left without her, he relied only on his memory. The staircases and the rooms moved around but with the years Filch had been able to trace somewhat of a pattern, so he didn’t have to rely solely on his dear cat. During the summer, Filch and Mrs. Norris were the sole inhabitants of Hogwarts castle.

Irma Pince, the librarian, had finally calmed down enough to come downstairs. She was sitting at the Hufflepuff table, with Hooch and Pomfrey. McGonagall wished she would be sitting with them. Rolanda Hooch would be talking about the how the Quidditch teams would form for next year. Poppy Pomfrey would be talking her head off about her new boyfriend, a handsome owner of one of the stores at Hogsmeade. Irma Pince would talk obsessively about the new adquisitions for her library and how she planned on refusing anybody read them but her. But tonight they were all silent.

Dumbledore had summoned up a second plate of soup and some toasted bread, and almost everyone followed his example.

Of all people, it was Severus Snape who chose to speak first.

“I suppose you want us all to remain here.”

He had addressed Dumbledore. McGonagall expected Dumbledore to appologize but asked them to remain until the mystery was solved. She wasn’t expecting what Dumbledore said next.

“You’re free to go as you please, unless our Deputy Headmistress believes otherwise.”

McGonagall felt all eyes falling on her. It only took her a second to understand Dumbledore’s reasoning but it felt like a whole hour.

“I’m of the same mind as Albus” said McGonagall.

Snape looked almost annoyed.

“Excuse me but, did or didn’t you say” -he was looking at them both now- “that you were conducting an investigation?”

“Yes, Severus” replied Dumbledore. “We are both staying at Hogwarts for that purpose. The rest of the staff is not obliged to remain.”

He rose up from his seat.

“I bid you all good night, and a good summer. I hope to see you all next September. I’m sorry to leave you like this, but I have urgent business to attend to. Minerva, could I trouble you to pass by my office before turning in? We have things to discuss.”

“I will be there, Albus.”

Dumbledore bowed to the room, waved to all and left.

Snape was drumming his fingers on the table.

“Very clever.” he said to McGonagall. He was keeping his voice down so that only she would hear. “Nobody will want to leave now.”

McGonagall was hurrying down her soup.

“Is a house-elf really worth all this trouble? I mean, we have like a hundred of them, don’t we?” he said.

She didn’t look at him. She took a loaf of bread and dunked it.

“It is not about a house-elf any longer, is it? I wonder, was it ever?” said Snape.

McGonagall finished her plate and cleaned her mouth with a handkerchief.

“I will not stay here, Minerva. I didn’t do it, I don’t care what everyone thinks. I will go.”

McGonagall rose from the table and bid everyone a good night.

She was halfway across the Entrance Hall when Snape catched up with her.

“This is a large castle.”

“Good observation, Severus.”

“Whoever or whatever killed that elf was really nasty.”

“Again, another excellent observation. Too bad you’re not staying. I could use someone like you.”

McGonagall was enjoying keeping him baffled. She wondered if this is how Dumbledore felt all the time.

“I talked to Irma.” he said.

She started climbing the steps of the marble staircase that led to the first floor. This was too good.

“You do have good conversational skills when you apply yourself.”

“Could you please stop for a minute?”

They had almost reached the top of the staircase when McGonagall stopped.

“Severus, you can do one of two things. You can help me or you can stand aside and not interfere. Either of them will be most helpful.”

She walked the last steps until the first floor and proceeded towards the next flight of stairs. She heard Snape hurrying up to walk beside her.

“Irma didn’t see anything” he was saying as he approached her again. “She did, however, heard Peeves scream. She thought nothing of it, except that he was coming to mess her library again… Please do me the courtesy to wipe that smirk off your face.” said Snape raising a hand between him and her beaming smile.

McGonagall tried, but found out she couldn’t. Snape decided to ignore it and continued speaking.

“Before the scream she did heard someone talking outside her library. She thought it would be Peeves, and when she heard the scream she was sure.”

“But Peeves was in the fifth floor… The library is on the fourth.”

“He’s a ghost you know, well… a poltergeist, anyways. He can float through floors. He won’t help us willingly, but perhaps Dumbledore…”

“Severus, have you seen a ghost tonight, at all?”

He looked at her, half-closing his eyes.

“No… No, not after the staff meeting. Why?”

“I have a feeling something has scared them off.”

McGonagall shook his head. Something was very unclear. They had reached the second floor.

“Irma heard someone talking outside her library. Did she hear one, two or more people? Man, woman?”

“She couldn’t tell, I asked her.”

“Did she come out to see who it was?”

“No, she claims she has been inside her library the whole time. You were the last person she spoke to.”

Something was definitely wrong.

“Do you remember the staff meeting, when I was detailing our last year’s finances?”

“Yes. No. Barely.”

She made a face at him.

“Ok, I haven’t the foggiest clue, Minerva. I fell into a coma.”

“Three people left the room while I was talking, remember?”

“Yes. The thing, the squib and the squeak.”

“Rubeus Hagrid, Argus Filch and Poppy Pomfrey. Really, Severus…”

She had a thought. During the meeting, Pomfrey had left to check on Irma Pince, the librarian. She raised an eyebrow.

“Poppy said she didn’t find Irma. Irma says she never left the library.”

“So one of them is lying. Or both.”

They stopped at the gargoyle that guarded the entrance to Dumbledore’s office.

“Severus, consider yourself hired as my assistant. I suggest you get a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow we’ll have work to do.”

“How delightful. A summer job I never applied for and for which I won’t be payed.”

He gave her an almost military salute and left her.

McGonagall turned to the gargoyle.

“Honeyberry Slime”

The statue jumped aside and the tall witch took the swirling escalator to the Headmaster’s office.

Harry Potter(tm) and all associated materials are property of J.K. Rowling
My thanks go to the Harry Potter Lexicon at http://www.hp-lexicon.org

Note: If you want to read from the beginning, it starts here.