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.
Author’s note: Thanks for reading, see you next time! No, just kidding, sorry. We’re not done yet. Okey, a couple of notes. Like I said when we started, this all happens after Harry’s third year but before his fifth. Now you know that it had to be after year three (Prisoner of Azkaban) because that was the year that dementors were allowed into Hogwarts’ grounds. Also, at this time, Cornelius Fudge is still the Minister of Magic and Rufus Scrimgeor is still Head of the Auror Department. I will reiterate my belief that Filius Flitwick doesn’t look like the movie version but he’s simply a short person – as Jo herself states- but since you’re the reader I will leave that up to your imagination. I will not insist on this again. Maybe.
Chapter Nine: Guess Who’s Not Coming To Dinner
Professor Filius Flitwick’s office looked very much like a section of the Hogwarts Library. The room was circular and two stories high. Every section of the wall was covered with bookshelves that had only spared the door, a tall window and a fireplace. In the center was a large desk that had at least a dozen books books on top, some on a neat pile, others sprawled one on top of the other. Besides Flitwick’s chair and two chairs for visitors (these ones were charmed to be comfortable) there was also a bookstand with one large book opened set on it, probably the index to Flitwick’s personal library. Attached to the bookshelves was a librarian’s staircase that could change magically change heights so Flitwick could reach any book he wanted. Irma Pince had one just like it, except Flitwick’s had some extra heights set in between for his small frame.
Minerva McGonagall sat down after putting Flitwick up to date for over two hours on everything she’d found out. At some point she had had a blackboard summoned to illustrate what she herself barely found comprehensive. Now she was done, and completely out of breath.
Filius Flitwick was a man of easy disposition and a smile always ready upon his lips. His short height and calm manners were traits that categorized him as weak and harmless in the minds of people who didn’t take the time to know him. McGonagall wasn’t of that opinion. Flitwick was a master of wands, and his hability as a caster matched that of Severus Snape. Snape was better in hexes, Flitwick in charms. During a practice duel amoung teachers, Snape had proven to be slightly faster than Flitwick in casting first. Flitwick, on the other hand, could re-cast in a shorter amount of time. They both had lost the moment that it was Dumbledore’s turn.
“The Dementor’s Kiss,” said Flitwick, “would not leave a mark. It leaves nothing but a broken shell of a man without any desire to live. A breathing corpse. On a house-elf it would mean inminent death for sure. I think you’re making the right deduction, Minerva. I would never have suspected a dementor. It also explains this.”
He took out his wand and pointed at the fireplace.
A flame rised up, shook slightly for a few seconds, then died back again.
“The entire castle is getting that cold effect that dementors have on their surroundings,” said Flitwick, “I’m going to venture a guess that this dementor escaped his previous confinement that very night.”
“What was his previous confinement, though?”
“I reckon it’s that device that has eluded you and Snape so far. It probably works as a trap to contain a dark entity, and after that a control to direct his moves. An all-in-one weapon indeed.”
McGonagall stared at the unlit fireplace. She could feel a chill now almost constantly.
“So, what is your strategy, Minerva?”
“Well… Severus is talking to Pomona Sprout. We figured that we should clue you in, as head of Ravenclaw house, and she also, as head of Hufflepuff’s. After that, and if we’re all in agreement, we should evacuate everybody else from the castle and send them to Hogsmeade.”
She stared once more at the fireplace.
“After that, I was going to say we four wait for Dumbledore, but with all the fireplaces out, we’re disconnected from the Floo Network. He’s not going to be able to come back inside directly. I think Severus and I will have to tackle this.”
“You mean you, Severus and me,” said Flitwick.
She smiled sadly at him.
“You have the mind of a Ravenclaw, Filius, but the heart of a Gryffindor.”
There was a knock at the door. The lights flickered at the same time. McGonagall was intrigued. Flitwick opened his arms widely.
“Sometimes, when I’m reading I don’t hear the door… so I have the lights charmed to flicker when someone knocks, that way I can tell someone’s there.”
McGonagall could not help snickering. Professor Flitwick and Madame Pince were both fans of books. But while Flitwick was a romantic who’d have everyone reading some intriguing volume, Pince would hide it obsessively from anyone’s touch.
Flitwick lowered his voice to a whisper and McGonagall had to lean over the desk to hear what he was saying.
“They also flicker if someone stays behind the door too long without knocking,” he said with a wink.
He motioned his wand at the door, which opened to reveal Severus Snape standing behind it.
McGonagall opened her mouth to greet him but Snape didn’t let her speak.
“Next time, you go talk to the crazy plant lady…”
“Hello, Severus,” said Flitwick, “do come in and make yourself comfortable.”
“What’s wrong with Pomona, Severus?”
“Sprout,” said Snape almost spitting the name at her, “started covering her plants as soon as she heard the word dementor. Then she decided it was better to unearth this one, re-plant the other one, and is still reorganizing her plants as if a tornado is going to come by. I’ve never heard of a dementor going after plants, but don’t try to get her to leave her greenhouses now.”
McGonagall put a finger to her nose.
“What is it, Minerva?”
“Nothing of importance at the moment… well, at least she’s outside Hogwarts castle.”
Snape looked at Flitwick defiantly, as if they were about to duel. Flitwick returned the look. Then they both smiled like old rivals.
“Which is it going to be?” said Snape to Flitwick.
McGonagall was sure she’d missed something. She questioned them both with a look.
Flitwick smiled back at Snape, then he looked back at McGonagall
“Unlike most wizards, I prefer not to use a singular wand for every use.”
He raised up and pointed his wand at the library staircase, which circled the room to meet him. Flitwick climbed the steps and moved the staircase through the bookshelves. At every certain point he would push a book, somehow driving it further into the bookshelf. After he did this with a few books, there was a loud CLUNK sound and several books flew out, revealing what looked like a display behind them. It had several wands made of black wood. They all looked positively ancient and upon close examination you would notice they had strange markings.
Battle wands, thought McGonagall. She’d heard of them, used in very ancient times for the sole purpose to do war, but didn’t know they still existed or that there was someone who could use them.
“I rarely see this section of your collection,” said Snape. “Very impressive.”
“Why, thank you, Severus,” said Flitwick, “but it’s not impressive at all compared to your skills. I have to use one of these to match you, although I believe your wand is truly superior than any of these.”
“Oh not at all, Filius! Despite my wand’s great craftmanship I believe…”
“Excuse me, boys,” interrupted McGonagall in the same tone she scolded her students when she was giving class, “there’s a dementor about, remember?”
They turned to her, more than a little hurt. She was sure they’d start measuring wands if she’d let this go any further!
“We’re sorry, Minerva,” said Filius, “we got caught up.”
Snape didn’t look very sorry, but McGonagall was not interested in lecturing them any further.
Flitwick chose a wand and stored his regular teaching wand in the case. He then murmured some words and the books that had been floating in mid-air floated back to their place, covering the wand display.
“Right. Let’s go.”
Without another word, they marched out of Flitwick’s office and down the stairs. They were walking in a straight line, as if they were marching onto a battlefield.
In reality, they were going downstairs to have dinner with the others.
McGonagall was still debating whether to make the dreadful announcement before or after dinner, when Snape spoke aloud for the very first time in a long while.
“We’re going to eat first, right?”
“Yes, please,” added Flitwick, “I don’t think we could be able to afterwards.”
McGonagall nodded silently.
The Great Hall was already filled with murmurs flying left and right. McGonagall imagined Sprout had mentioned something, although she was sure she hadn’t told the complete story. McGonagall entered, flanked by Snape and Flitwick. As soon as she did, everyone was calling to her.
“Minerva, a word with you please?”
“Is it true Dumbledore is gone?”
“What is going on with the castle? Fireplaces cannot be lit!”
She raised her hands in a soothing gesture, but she had a firm look on her face that meant business.
The voices quieted, and she had everyone’s eyes on her.
“Dumbledore will return soon. I want everyone to sit down and have a good meal. We will talk after we all have something in our bellies.”
She could feel her own stomach demanding nourishment.
Since the Headmaster was absent it was up to her to summon up dinner. They all ate in silence.
The food must have been good, but you’d be fresh out of luck if you’d ask anyone what they ate that very night. It was a very silent dinner, and McGonagall found herself eating without knowing what she’d pulled to her plate. Still, she could feel she would need all her strength for the task ahead and was determined to fill her stomach. A glance in Snape’s direction confirmed to her that he was of the same mind.
Although everybody ate through the main course, nobody had seconds. After everyone was done, McGonagall summoned up the dessert which she managed to recognize as spotted dick. At the very end, they were all enjoying a cup of tea with all the eyes occasionally sneaking glances at McGonagall.
She took her last sip and cleared her throat.
“Very well. Here’s what we’re doing now. I want everyone to pack.”
General uproar. Everyone got up and protested at the same time. Nobody wanted to leave.
It took several minutes before they all sat back down. Snape remained standing, alongside McGonagall. Flitwick was standing on the very table. Sprout had approached them and was standing beside Snape.
“There is danger here. Something was freed that night during our staff meeting. Whatever it is it seems it has been contained again, but not safely. It is affecting the castle and we cannot remain inside.”
A loud pounding was coming from the Entrance Hall. Someone had been knocking a long time but had not been heard.
“Now I must ask all of you… Severus, could you see to the door please?”
There was silence as Snape crossed the Great Hall and dissapeared through the open door that led to the Entrance Hall. They heard the great oak doors opening and a muffled conversation. Then there were the sounds of steps as Snape came back, along with another set of steps.
Kingsley Shacklebolt appeared on the doorway to the Great Hall. He worked as an Auror for the Ministry’s Auror Office headed by Rufus Scrimgeour.
“Good evening. I’m sorry to barge in at this late hour.”
“Evening, Kingsley,” said McGonagall, “you’re here on official business.”
It was not a question.
“Indeed, Minerva. I must respectfully request that everyone leave the premises. You may stay at Hogsmeade or you may pack for the summer but you may not remain here. Ministry’s orders.”
“…is in Hogsmeade,” said Shacklebolt, completing her phrase, “He will remain there at present. Fu- the Minister has asked him to remain there until we can confirm his allegations. The Minister is taking into account the Headmaster’s age.”
Severus Snape could not supress a chuckle. McGonagall contented herself with smirking. The Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, was probably suspicious of Dumbledore and had preferred sending Shacklebolt to confirm the allegations that a dementor had gone rogue. He was probably in Hogsmeade himself to prevent Dumbledore from coming back into Hogwarts, believing the Headmaster would cast some spell to make believe there was a dementor. The increasing tension in the relations between the Ministry of Magic and the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry had reached a boiling point as of late.
The suggestion that Dumbledore would go to such lengths to demonstrate how the Ministry was losing its grip on the dementors was a longshot. The idea that Dumbledore was fragile was so ridiculous that Shacklebolt himself must have had a hard time keeping a straight face just by repeating what was for sure Fudge’s words.
“Tonight, everyone. Please”
McGonagall chose her words carefully.
“You know very well the Headmaster would not allow the Ministry to undertake a search without him present, Kingsley.”
“He doesn’t have that option. Cornelius was very clear.”
“I believe he has. Shall we?”
Shacklebolt closed and opened his eyes again.
“The minister was very clear that Dumbledore may not take part in the search due to age. He hasn’t said anything about the Headmaster’s authority being undermined, has he?”
“No, Minerva, but I fail to see…”
“In Dumbledore’s absence I, as Deputy Headmistress, will represent the Headmaster’s office. I will allow you to accompany me.”
The Auror smiled at her. Kingsley Shacklebolt was obliged to obey the Ministry, but he was a friend to both she and Dumbledore and was almost happy to see she’d found a loophole in Fudge’s orders..
“True. Cornelius is not imposing his authority over Hogwarts. He’s even told Dumbledore the Ministry comes only to confirm his allegations and to assist if any action is to be taken. I’m at your orders.”
She smiled back and turned to face everybody else.
“Very well. Everyone, please pack for the summer and be downstairs within half an hour. Everyone.”
She was getting anxious looks from Snape, Filius and Sprout.
“Pack up too, but take your time. We’re staying behind of course.”
Thankfully, Shacklebolt had also neglected to mention the very nature of Dumbledore’s allegations. Everyone retired briefly to their quarters, packed and was ready to leave just as the sky was turning from orange to black.
The wind was picking up something fierce outside.
Those who preferred it, chose brooms to travel. Others took the carriages pulled by Thestrals. The rest would take Hagrid’s barge and travelled across the lake.
McGonagall looked at Hagrid as he helped Madame Pomfrey board. His huge hands took Pomfrey by the waist and set her inside the barge as if she was a child.
McGonagall took out the knife from her pocket and look at it. It was way too small for Hagrid’s hands.
As the last brooms were taking flight, McGonagall approached Madame Hooch.
“Rolanda Hooch. R. H.”
Hooch was confused.
“Yes… that’s my name, as you very well know, Minerva.”
“I believe this is yours.”
She handed her the knife. Hooch took the knife and looked at it.
“I thought I’d lost this for good…”
“What do you use it for?”
“Oh, it can’t cut anymore. I merely used it to straighten up the straws of the older brooms. It would’ve been no big deal to lose it, but thanks for finding it anyways. Where did you find it? I think it has been almost a year since I lost it.”
“I will tell you later. Have a safe flight, Rolanda.”
“Happy hunting, Minerva… and take care of yourself, please.”
She kicked the ground and took flight. The last group of broom riders went with her. McGonagall followed their path until they were out of sight. Snape was approaching her.
“Rolanda Hooch… I missed that.”
His voice was almost bitter, and very hard to hear as the wind was really picking up now. The last shades of yellow, red and orange were giving way to the dark sky.
“Has everyone left already, Severus?”
“Everyone but us four, and Kingsley… and our dear Mr. Filch.”
She turned to look at him.
“He wasn’t at dinner. I just came back from his office and he’s not there either. Apparently he’s been missing.”
Her eyes lighted up. She looked around the Entrance Hall. Shacklebolt, Snape, Flitwick and Sprout were all waiting for her.
“Very well, we have little time. Pomona.”
Madame Sprout straightened herself up.
“You will guard the doors from the outside.”
“Your talents are better when you have ground under your feet. Earth is your element. If this dementor…” she swallowed at the word, “escapes us, it will be your responsability to stop it. No debate please.”
McGonagall ment business. Madame Sprout stepped outside. The large oak doors closed themselves behind her. The wind was making a mournful sound as it hit the castle.
Professor Flitwick took a step towards her.
“You will guard the doors from the inside.”
He opened his mouth to protest.
“If we’re weakened by the battle, this thing will head towards the doors. We’ve already charmed all doors and windows not to open till dawn. This is the only way out, and I’m trusting you alone to make sure that if he gets by us, you will stop him in the Entrance Hall.”
Flitwick bowed his head, and accepted the task that McGonagall had assigned him.
She walked towards the marble staircase, followed closely by Snape and Shacklebolt.
They reached the first floor before any of them said a word.
“If you allow it, there is something I have to check first.”
“You lead on, Minerva.”
She took the hallway that led to her office and opened the door. She stepped in slowly, staring at her desk. She approached it and set both hands on it.
Shacklebolt shot Snape a questioning look. Snape ignored it and stepped inside the office, leaving Shacklebolt on the doorway.
“Minerva, what is it?”
She was mumbling something to herself.
“…must’ve thought it was the real thing…”
“What do you mean?”
McGonagall turned to them both. Her face was beaming. Shacklebolt looked at her, concerned.
“Minerva, are you feeling ok?”
Snape was dumbstruck. He stared at the desk himself.
“What did you expect to find, Minerva?”
“My dear Severus, it’s what I expected not to find.”
Snape gave her a questioning look. She walked out the door without answering him. Snape and Shacklebolt trailed her with difficulty.
“Minerva, could you please wait? Where are we going?”
She stopped right at the foot of the stairs leading up before she turned to them.
“We have little time. I’m afraid Mr. Filch is in danger.”
Shacklebolt’s look was one of complete amazement.
“The caretaker? Do you know where he is?”
“Yes, Kingsley. I know. I will take you there.”
She was getting looks from both of them as if she had become a seer.
“Well, why didn’t you tell us before?”
“Until a few minutes ago, I didn’t know. I just had a bunch of theories.”
Snape seemed to be almost angry at her.
“And now? Do you know what’s going on?”
She smiled at him, but her face became serious as she spoke.
“Yes, Severus. Now I know everything that happened that very night. But the explanations will have to come later. I believe we will have to rescue Mr. Filch first.”
She took out her wand. She could hear the wind as if it were a ghoul moaning through the corridors. It was very cold now, very cold.
“Gentlemen, wands at a ready!”
Taking one deep breath, she set her foot upon the first step of the staircase that led up.
Something wicked this way comes…!
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.