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 Seven: Dead Elves Tell No Tales
Professor Severus Snape’s office was, very appropiately, in the castle’s dungeons. It was filled with all sorts of vials, bottles and containers. Some held potions and concotions of all colors and tonalities. A lot were home to some of the most bizzare creatures ever seen. Some changed color, some changed shape, some moved around, and a few gave off a misterious glow.
Minerva McGonagall waited. She was sitting in one of the chairs in front of the desk which drawers Snape kept opening and closing.
She scowled impatiently. Snape closed a drawer for the third time, opened another drawer and then went back to the first.
“Severus, you’ve checked that one four times already by my account.”
Snape kept searching.
“This antique piece of furniture is charmed. When you open or close a drawer-”
He slammed another drawer shut, then reopened the drawer Minerva had pointed out for a fifth time.
“-you get a totally different storage space in the previous drawer, and henceforth, different contents.”
He took out a group of papers which weren’t on the drawer before.
“Each drawer has three or four combinations where you store things.”
“And what is it you’re looking for, again?”
“I’m sure that Tom Riddle’s teacher for Defense of the Dark Arts was a Slytherin. Odds are he used this very same desk.”
He pointed at the edge of the desk. McGonagall noticed it had curved and scaled snakes engravings. Snape went back to search among old files.
“Ah, here we go.”
He produced a very old folder, sat down and opened it.
“Defense of the Dark Arts. Sixth Year Essay Evaluation.”
McGonagall kept squirming in her chair.
“Severus, these chairs you have are awfully uncomfortable.”
Snape kept reading, when he answered her his voice was distant. His mind was elsewhere.
“They’re jinxed to be that way.”
“Why on earth do you jinx chairs to be uncomfortable?”
He was still searching through the old teacher folder. He turned the pages, answering her without really thinking.
“To get rid of visitors as fast as possible.”
McGonagall rolled his eyes at him and touched her forehead with her hand.
Snape was smirking as he read.
“Heh heh heh… Ghastly Gryffindor grades… Oh, that’s good…”
“I take it he didn’t like Gryffindors. Severus, could you skip to the part where it talks of you-know-who?”
“Sorry. Slytherin House, here we go…”
He turned a couple of pages.
McGonagall gave up her seat, rounded the desk and read over Snape’s shoulder.
“How To Control and Contain the Dark: Craft Once, Use Forever.”
“He gave him top marks. Here’s the commentary.”
Snape cleared his throat and read.
“Most imaginative and enterprising work I’ve ever run into. The crafting and its very nature are so simple you can’t see how the results would fail. Although it would break rules set by Wizarding Law from two centuries back, the description is so vivid this essay almost encourages the reader to try. Requires several of the most ancient volumes of the Dark Arts, which means it is also expensive to make.”
“To make what?”
Snape examined the page again, turning the following pages.
“Doesn’t say. There’s a final note here: Tom Riddle’s essay was deemed of unappropiate content by the Headmaster. He’s been asked to turn in a new one. If you ask me, that stupid old git didn’t have a clue what he had just read.”
“No, no! That’s what he wrote! Look.”
She read the text beside his finger.
“You sure you didn’t have any ancestors that taught at Hogwarts?”
Snape closed the folder, scowling at her.
McGonagall went back to the chair, looked at it and chose to stand.
“What have we learned so far?”
“Well, we got a knife with the initials R. H. As much as I dread to acknowledge it, the chances that the owner of those initials is guilty are very, very slim.”
“However, we now know from that teacher’s comments that whoever rampaged the library was getting information from the other volumes to make this device.”
Snape was unconvinced.
“There’s something very unclear there. How can it take information from ‘several of the most ancient’ dark books and yet describe the crafting as simple?”
“It may be an elististic appraisal. Simple for those who are experienced.”
“No, Minerva,” said Snape “there’s meaning behind this description which eludes me.”
“Well, of course there is! He doesn’t tell what the device ends up looking like!”
Snape’s face lighted up.
“It’s something that we would see and discard as a possibility easily.”
“How do you get to that conclusion?”
“No mind in Slytherin House would be ‘encouraged to try’ if it was so easy to discover. It is either small enough to conceal, or large but looks like an everyday object. Or both.”
McGonagall brought out the knife still wrapped in a handkerchief.
“Minerva, I sincerely doubt it would be that easy.”
“What worries me, Severus,” said McGonagall, “is that this may end up being a charm that can be used to turn anything into this particular weapon. Hence, we would be talking about something so concealable it is practically impossible to tell.”
Snape joined the fingertips of his index fingers.
“No, that doesn’t worry me. By the description alone, I can tell the end result is always the same. I’d even venture to say, the teacher sounds so smug about not telling us what is, that it must be something very obvious to us. Almost something in plain sight.”
“What if it’s nothing at all?”
“You lost me, Minerva. Nothing at all?”
“We may be assuming way too quickly that the end result has to be attached to a particular object. What about if it’s an empowerment of sorts? A power gained for the crafter that, after completed, can be used upon command? Would that sound in accordance to that description in your opinion?”
Snape opened his mouth to protest. Then he shook his face in defeat.
“Yes, that would fit too… Definitely Slytherin-like as well. Damn it…”
“And last, it could be a ruse. Intended to distract us from the very answer to this mistery.”
“Are you implying that the theft of this essay may not even be related? I think we may be carrying out theories a bit too far. I think it’s time we need to hear this wild theory that Dumbledore has, if not to follow it at least to see how it would fit with our finds. At least our dear Headmaster should know someone is using one of the Dark Lord’s inventions.”
McGonagall was so absort in her thoughts, she sat down on one of the chairs again. She seemed about to speak, but Snape interrupted her before she could.
“No. That’s completely out of the question.”
“Severus, you’re a master occlumens, but I doubt you knew what I was going to say so quickly. Bloody chair…”
She had just noticed she had taken sit on one of Snape’s jinxed chairs again. She got up hastily. Snape made an apologetic face.
“Occlumency was not required, Minerva. Your face told me. You were about to imply that the Dark Lord may be in this. A thousand times no.”
“You wouldn’t even consider it? He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has managed to play havoc in this castle without setting foot in it before. As a matter of fact, he was basicly here when he possessed Quirrell.”
“Let’s not get carried away by paranoia. If I considered every single theory that went through my head, I would be casting dark arts detection charms on the statue of Boris the Bewildered. Which now that I think about it, may not be such a bad idea.”
He threw the folder accross the desk.
“We’re back to square one. With more squares. I say we put pressure on Dumbledore to tell us his theory.”
“We haven’t talked to everyone yet. I still must talk to Dobby-”
There was a loud crack in the room. A perky house-elf appeared.
“Dobby is here to help, Mistress McGlonamagull!”
Snape seemed sickened.
“Arghhh! No! Get him out of my office! You! You were not summoned!”
“But Mistress McGlonarigull said…”
“She… was… thinking… out… loud!”
He slapped the desk, emphasizing each word. McGonagall smiled at Dobby.
“Well, since you’re here…”
“Oh no. Not here. Not in my office. No. No. NO.”
Snape shook his head repeateadly. McGonagall rolled her eyes at him.
“Very well. Dobby, come with me please. Professor Snape needs more head room.”
“Is something wrong with Master Snaip’s head?”
“No, Dobby, it just grows too big sometimes.”
“Dobby could bring him a plate of noodle soup!”
Snape gave Dobby a murderous look. He seemed to be a wishing a different house-elf would have ended up dead.
“That’s very thoughtful of you, Dobby. Perhaps later.”
Snape gave McGonagall a similar look. McGonagall decided to rush Dobby out of Snape’s office quickly.
They left the office and walked along the semi-lit corridors of the dungeons. Once they were climbing the stairs up to the Entrance Hall, she felt it was safe to talk again.
“My gravest of condolences on Tugglit’s passing” she told him.
“Thank you, Mistress McGolgona-”
She cut him off before hearing another murdering of her surname.
“I understand you invited the Headmaster to Tugglit’s funeral.”
“It was not a funeral. We think of it more as a farewell ceremony. Tugglit is finally with the master of all masters. It was nice of his last master to be there as well.”
McGonagall found that very profound.
“Dobby, why did you invite Argus Filch to the ceremony?”
“He was master as well. He tells us what to clean.”
“No other reason?”
Dobby hesitated. The Entrance Hall was deserted, but he kept looking around to see if anybody could hear them.
“Tugglit was very fond of Master Filch.”
“They talked a lot! They were very friendly.”
McGonagall doubted that. What would Filch talk about with a house-elf? How many intrigues she would have to dug up before she found what had happened that fateful night?
“Was Tugglit a good friend of yours, Dobby?”
Dobby was not keen to answer. He stared at his feet.
“Would you rather not answer that question?”
“Dobby must not speak wrong of those who have passed to serve above.”
“Was there something wrong about Tugglit?”
Dobby was covering his mouth with his fists, as if fighting between the urge to remain quiet and his duty to tell McGonagall.
“Master Dumbledore said to tell Mistress McGlonabagull everything. But Dobby knows not for sure, he has only heard about Tugglit’s past. Dobby is still a new elf to Hogwarts castle.”
Why does he get Albus’ name right but keeps murdering mine? thought McGonagall.
“Very well, tell me what you’ve heard and I will not take it as more than a rumour.”
“Other house-elves say Tugglit was not good servant to his previous master. He took things. He broke things. Previous master almost had Tugglit beheaded. But Dobby never heard of Tugglit doing anything but serve his masters at Hogwarts. He was a thief no more. He did everything that his new masters asked of him.”
Dobby’s eyes became watery.
“Dobby should’ve been friend to Tugglit. Dobby heard of him and kept his distance. As if Dobby didn’t do terrible things when he served the Malfoys. Dobby thought himself too good to be friends with poor Tugglit. Bad Dobby, bad, bad elf!”
McGonagall had to physically restrain the little house-elf from banging his head against an armor. The armor chuckled.
“Stop it, Dobby. Stop it!”
Dobby finally calmed down. McGonagall leaned down to whisper to him.
“Did you ever heard what Filch said to Tugglit?”
The elf shook his head negatively.
The tall witch straightened herself. Would Filch still have a part in all of this? They all took the caretaker’s squib status as a given. Filch couldn’t do magic, could he? Who was left?
“Dobby, do you know anything about Tugglit’s death?”
Dobby seemed to be assessing the nearby wall, judging if he could ran into it before McGonagall would stop him.
“Something came upon him… Out of nowhere it did.”
“Something like what?”
“Dobby can’t speak of it. It was big and dark and evil, it was.”
“You saw it?”
“No, us house-elves felt it. Something sinister. We all hid. Dobby was amoung the first to hide. Dobby was a coward and let Tugglit die.”
The armor was offering his mace at Dobby so he could finish himself off. McGonagall lowered Dobby’s hand as he reached for it and looked menacingly at the armor. It straightened up and resumed its usual posture quickly. She pulled Dobby away and started walking towards the marble staircase tugging him along.
“Where were you that night, Dobby?”
“Dobby and other house-elves, were cleaning Gryffindor Tower.”
He sounded very proud of his task.
“Was Tugglit there?”
“Dobby didn’t see him if he was.”
“Did you cleaned the boys’ dormitories too?”
“Yes. Dobby found a box for Master Filch and took it to his office.”
They were climbing the steps. McGonagall had to steady herself against the banister.
“A box marked for Filch?”
“Yes, it had his name so Dobby took it to his office. It had all sort of toys that Master Filch does not approve of.”
McGonagall could feel an alarm clock going off in her head.
“You left it in his office, right? Where in his office?”
“It had his name on it so Dobby left it on top of his desk. Dobby did something wrong?”
“No, not at all” said McGonagall quickly as she noticed the elf searching around for something to hit himself with. “As a matter of fact, you did very good. Was Filch or anyone else in the office when you left the box?”
Dobby shook his head.
“Thank you, Dobby. You’ve been a great help and done a great job.”
He beamed at her. She smiled back at him.
“Mistress McGlonarigull can call on Dobby anytime! Day or night! Dobby will not eat nor sleep until-”
“Don’t do that. Do as the other elves do, ok? Thanks again. Dismissed.”
With a loud crack, the elf was gone.
McGonagall kept walking. Her mind was racing. What was that box doing there if it had already been delivered to Filch? A trap to lure Tugglit, perhaps? Or perhaps it was a trap… for Filch himself?
Right then, she almost wished Sybill Trelawny could really converse with the dead. She could really use a word with a certain house-elf.
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.