The Filch Factor – Chapter Eleven: A Series of Unfortunate Eventualities

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.

Thanks for reading… I must admit I loved reposting this story knowing I had a couple of readers following it. And now… the conclusion.

Chapter Eleven: A Series of Unfortunate Eventualities

Kingsley Shacklepot was still staring at the spot where a group of Aurors riding broomsticks had departed for Askaban Prison, pulling a weakened dementor after them, safely binded by magical chains. He was wondering for how long can the Ministry remain blinded to the fact that dementors were becoming less trustable each passing day. He had opted to stay behind, and check the castle for safety. Cornelius Fudge had not approved of that, but had agreed. The Minister had taken off as soon as he could.

He almost ran to the second floor, and to the gargoyle that hid the entrance to the Headmaster’s Office. Minerva McGonagall had assured him she wouldn’t start without him, but his curiosity was getting the better of him.

Inside the office was Albus Dumbledore, sitting at his desk. He greeted him with a small bow. Sitting in a circle, were Minerva McGonagall, Severus Snape, Filius Flitwick and Pomona Sprout. He quickly took a seat, giving a brief version of the Minister’s apology for leaving so quickly.

Snape had been obviously narrating the battle to Flitwick and Sprout, or to be fair, to Flitwick alone. The two professors had been engrossed in a deep debate of spells, hexes and charms when Kingsley had came in. Madame Sprout had had to ask further details to McGonagall, giving out small sounds of excitement now and then. There was a cup of tea in every hand, but save for Dumbledore’s, they were all, unsurprisingly, untouched.

McGonagall set her cup aside, which remained floating in mid-air, and found everyone was looking at her in silence. She stood up in the center of the room.

She slowly paced towards the door, and then came back. She turned to Dumbledore.

“When Albus asked me to look at the murder of Tugglit the elf, I was a bit peeved that he wouldn’t share his theory with me. He, of course, had a strange wild theory about a dementor. I still say he could’ve told me.”

Dumbledore gave her an apologetic bow.

“I, in the other hand, knew only the same thing that you did. The night of the murder, we were all in the Staff Room. I say we, as in everyone who can still breathe of course. There we all remained, save but four of us.”

“Four?”

Everyone, including the paintings, made hushing sounds at Snape.

“Yes, my dear Severus, four. Rubeus Hagrid, Poppy Pomfrey, Argus Filch and… our dear Madame Irma Pince, remember?”

Snape frowned. He had forgotten to count the librarian.

“I will be very honest with all of you. My first instinct was to suspect Filch from the very start. However, since the very moment that Madame Pomfrey use exploratory charms on our poor victim, the verdict was ineludible. Magic was used to kill him. I myself confirmed this when Filch took me to the spot where the death ocurred. Magic was used to kill Tugglit. That seemed to rule out Filch at every turn.”

She paused very briefly, enjoying the fact that everyone was hanging on her every word. Why couldn’t she have classes like this?

“The first suspicion was, of course, the Killing Curse. All of us, except Albus, took that one for granted. How else could someone get killed and not have a single mark in their bodies? What I failed to register was that it was very cold. Very. And it’s summer. I realised this afterwards. The Dementor’s Kiss doesn’t leave a mark either. For a human, it’s very close to death – takes away all happiness and desire. For an elf, it means imminent death. Remember elves are highly more susceptible than us, they get drunk on ordinary butterbeer, for instance.”

She looked around the room.

“There was, at the same time, another mistery at Hogwarts. Someone had rampaged Madame Pince’s library. They had ripped books apart, and not any books, but books in the Restricted Section. Books that delt in Dark Arts. To top it off, there was one thing that was missing entirely: a student’s essay. An essay made by none other than who-that-must-not-be-named about the most peculiar subject of controlling dark creatures. Someone had read this essay and had found a way to capture and control a dementor.”

“So the destruction of other books was just a cover up?” asked Filius, visibly moved. Books were precious to him, as much as to Madame Pince, although not in the same obsessive way.

“Not quite. There was more than one time in which someone invaded the library and ripped appart those books. From the teacher’s notes, Snape and I found out that to build this device you needed stuff from certain dark volumes of magic.”

She started pacing again, with all eyes following her as she moved about the room.

“Irma had found a knife in the library once where she came back almost close to catching the perpetrator. The knife had the initials R. H. Initially, this would have had anyone thinking about Rubeus Hagrid, but his hands are too large to grasp this knife! The true owner of the knife was actually Rolanda Hooch, who was in the meeting the whole time. The knife had been stolen from Rolanda almost a year ago. She herself told me this, and I believe her.”

She walked to Dumbledore’s desk and leaned on it.

“After a conversation with Dobby, I found Tugglit had a dark secret. He had stolen things from his previous owner. Tugglit became a suspect then. And it was my suspicion that the library had not been vandalized by one individual, but by three.”

Nobody spoke.

“The first one was Peeves, the second one was the person who found Riddle’s essay and took it, and the third one was Tugglit who used Rolanda’s knife to take out pages from the ancient volumes mentioned in the essay.”

Snape couldn’t hold back.

“You mean, Tugglit was working for…?”

She nodded at him.

“So who was it? Pince would’ve never participated in a plot that involved her precious books. It has to be Hagrid or Pomfrey.”

“That’s what I thought, Severus. But it doesn’t add up. Remember what I said that the first intruder in the library was Peeves?”

Snape closed his eyes into slits. McGonagall knew he was very tempted to read her mind right now. She avoided his eye contact just in case.

“Whoever took the Riddle essay found it by accident. It is my belief that person was helping Irma Pince when the essay appeared.”

She was pacing again.

“Ask yourself this. Who would Madame Pince trust to enter the Restricted Section and help her out with her books?”

They were all looking at each other, trying to figure out if anybody knew the answer. Snape was quietly smoothing his beard, deep in thought.

“Who did the elves invited to Tugglit’s ceremony?”

Dumbledore cleared his throat and everyone looked at him. McGonagall sighed.

“Besides Albus…”

“Filch?”

“Yes, my friends. It all came back to Argus Filch. Dobby had told me Tugglit and him were friends. Of course, that’s what he thought. All he probably saw was that they talked a lot. The truth is Tugglit didn’t trust wizards, and probably shared Filch’s distaste for the students of Hogwarts.”

She took a deep breath.

“The fact that there was magic involved was once again took out Filch from my list of suspects. Filch can’t do magic, hence he couldn’t have done it. No matter how hard I wanted to count out Hagrid and Poppy, I couldn’t. Everything I could think about was magic. Filch is a squib, he can’t do magic. I couldn’t do anything against the Filch Factor.”

“The Filch Factor?”

McGonagall turned to Madame Sprout.

“Yes, that’s how I call it. Anything times Filch is zero. Any theory that involved magic rules out Mr. Filch.”

She turned to the entire room.

“It’s a very imposing barrier, isn’t it? He couldn’t have done it since he can’t do magic, can he?”

Madame Sprout looked at her with alarm.

“You don’t mean he can do magic?”

McGonagall smiled reassuringly.

“No, he can’t, Pomona. But he can be affected by it, can’t he? He can use a magic device if its operation doesn’t involve magic. A common muggle can touch a porthole key and still get transported the very same way a wizard does. So would a squib.”

“The device…”

“Yes, the device! That became the very center of the investigation. What was its nature? Remember what you said after you read the teacher’s notes, Severus?”

Snape looked at her. McGonagall didn’t wait for him to answer.

“You were bothered that the device was described as simple to craft, yet it required the most ancient volumes of dark arts to do so. Am I right?”

“Yes…the word ‘simple’ didn’t seem to belong in that sentence…”

“And didn’t you say that you could tell the teacher sounded smug about not telling us what it was since it was probably very obvious?”

Snape didn’t answer.

“There’s another word in that description that was out of place, Severus. Expensive. Why would it be expensive to make?”

“Because it required very ancient volumes that are not easily attainable.”

“Yes and no, Severus. They are expensive to own, but not to attain. Not with a library card. They’re available to the students of the higher years at the Restricted Section here at Hogwarts.”

Professor Flitwick raised his hand, in a gesture that reminded McGonagall very much of a certain favorite student of hers.

“You know how to craft this device? It probably requires a longer amount of time than the library would allow. Perhaps there is a requirement to own.”

“I have a very educated guess, Filius. It doesn’t take much time, remember the word ‘simple’? But, you’re correct in your last assessment there is a requirement to own.”

Snape interrumpted, sounding very impatient.

“But that once again puts you up against your ‘Filch Factor’. You have to count out Filch.”

He had stood up. He payed no heed to the hands waving at him to sit back down again.

“Remember the word ‘simple’? When would a wizard describe the crafting as ‘simple’, Severus?”

Snape frowned, deep in thought. Then his face lighted up.

“When… it takes no magic at all to do so…”

He slowly sat down.

“That is ridiculous,” said Madame Sprout, “how do you craft a magic device without magic?”

McGonagall made a soothing gesture at her.

“I’m sorry, Pomona. There is magic involved in the device, but the construction itself requires no magic.”

“Then where is the magic involved?”

“In the already magical parts,” said McGonagall in a matter-of-factly voice.

There was a brief silence. Then there was a gasp from Snape, his face lighting up.

“Yes, Severus, you guessed it. You require certain very ancient volumes of magic, but not for the information in their pages but FOR THE PAGES THEMSELVES. It is the magic that is contained in those very ancient pages which empowers the device. For example, the page number one thousand from Stringfellow’s Volume of Oblivion, the last page from Darkstrand’s Doomed Encyclopedia and so on.”

Flitwick got up from his seat, very excited.

“So the device must look like…!”

McGonagall took something out of her robe and placed it on Dumbledore’s desk. Flitwick became silent.

“Yes, Filius. The device is a book. Like this one.”

They all stared at the book on the desk. It was a copy of A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshott.

“This is the device?”

“No. But I’m quite sure the real device was initially a copy of this very book, since they are left scattered all over the place by the students. This particular one I found that very night. The stolen pages, which were carefully taken off with a knife to preserve their power, must be set between the book’s original pages in a particular order, generating the device. Simple indeed.”

“Wait a minute,” said Snape, “if such a device can be created why hasn’t the Dark Lord used it before? He envisioned it, after all.”

There was a tone of admiration in Snape’s voice that McGonagall didn’t approve of, but she ignored it for now.

“Because, my dear Severus, it has quite a number of flaws. It was obviously unreliable. I dare say that Who-That-Must-Not-Be-Named went on to craft deadlier and more effective weapons out of books than this one. Remember the diary?”

Everyone could still remember the ghastly results of the diary of Tom Riddle, which almost cost the lifes of several students and re-opened the Chamber of Secrets.

“How did you know it was crafted using a book like this one, Minerva?”

Albus Dumbledore’s soothing voice had pride in it. He really admired McGonagall’s detective work.

“When Snape and I were interviewing Mr. Filch, he suddenly became very frightened. On top of my desk, I had this very book which I had found that night prior to the Staff Meeting. It’s commonly forgotten by students, since Mr. Binns’ History of Magic class appears to be very boring to them. Filch saw this book, thinks it’s the one he used to create the book-device and thought he’d been found out. That’s why he was so nervous all of a sudden.”

“But then you told him he was not being accussed,” said Snape remembering the interview.

“Yes, so he figured I didn’t know what it was. However I had found this book before the incident. Filch must’ve lost his that very night, which is the reason why he wanted to clean the castle before anybody else. He wanted to find the book.”

“Wait!” said Shacklebolt standing up with alarm, “this means this book-device is still out there!”

“Don’t worry, the device is under lock and key as we speak.”

“Minerva…”

McGonagall turned as Dumbledore addressed her.

“Perhaps it’s time you tell us how it all happened.”

Everyone nodded their heads eagerly. McGonagall looked around the room and went back to her chair.

“Well, it all started with a cat, a greenhouse and a poltergeist.”

McGonagall sat down, ignoring the looks of confusion.

“It’s a couple of weeks before the end of the term. Mr. Filch’s cat, Mrs. Norris gets sick after eating something a student left behind, probably one of the Weasley twins’ inventions to get out of class. Also, at that time, Pomona Sprout sends Mr. Filch to check out the abandoned greenhouse that is the farthest away from the castle.”

Everyone looked at Madame Sprout, who couldn’t help turning red. She looked nervously at McGonagall, who smiled at her. When she finally relaxed, McGonagall continued.

“Inside Mr. Filch finds a dementor. It is probably very confused, and probably lost. It sees Filch. It finds him almost completely devoid of happiness, so it assumes it’s an ally and doesn’t attack him. Mr. Filch has seen these things terrify a student, namely Harry Potter, and knows it’s a threat. He feels compelled to give warning, but wait… this thing scares students and doesn’t seem to want to harm Mr. Filch, almost seems keen to obey him. His usual conscience, Mrs. Norris, is not there to push him to do the right thing. He decides to leave the dementor where it is. He even forces a discussion with Hagrid to make sure he doesn’t get close to the greenhouse, and uses it so that Pomona restricts him of getting anywhere close.”

“Around the same time, Peeves has vandalized the Restricted Section of the library. Mr. Filch offers to help Madame Pince and finds an essay on how to control dark creatures. What a treat, he could really scare the students away from the castle for good! This is not logical thinking, this is Filch reasoning the way he always does.”

She sighed heavily.

“That’s the way it could’ve happened, but since those events are so close in time, it is also very possible that Mr. Filch found the essay first and the dementor later. Either way, the opportunity arises and he convinces Tugglit, a confused elf who’s always following him around, in helping him get the parts to make the device. To get the pages cleanly out of the book, Tugglit uses a knife he has stolen from Rolanda Hooch almost a year ago. One night he is almost caught by Irma and leaves the knife behind.”

She had a very hard expression as she went on.

“Mr. Filch finishes the device, attaching the pages in the order the essay details. Probably he hides the essay amoung the stuff in his office, but he does not dare hide the book-device there. Mrs. Norris is sick, but getting better and maybe even suspicious of Filch. As his guide, she can force him to do the right thing, and Mr. Filch will surely give in. So he decides to feed her more of the candy that makes her sick himself, he’s confiscated plenty. One night he captures the dementor inside the finished book-device, and hides it in the secret passage behind the mirror on the fourth floor.”

“That passage is caved in…” started Snape.

“That means nobody that knows about it will use it, and it must have space for something small, like a book.”

Snape became silent, and McGonagall took that as a cue to continue.

“Mr. Filch continously checks up on his precious device, eagerly awaiting the summer, when he will be alone and free to test it out. But he starts noticing something. What is it? The device must be giving some sign of becoming weak, and Mr. Filch is now scared of the inhabitant that lies within it. He knows the dementor will not be nice to him after being imprisoned. His little plot will backfire. He must find a place to contain the dementor. He doesn’t dare open the book to use it now.”

Fawkes, Dumbledore’s pet phoenix, cackled. He was silenced immediately.

“The night of the Staff Meeting, after seeing all students away, I climbed up the stairs. Around the fourth floor, I took one look upon myself in the large mirror. The library entrance is close by. Almost within earshot.”

“In the Gryffindor boys’ room I found some articles that Mr. Filch has declared banned and left them in a box that I marked with the word FILCH, so that the elves would deliver it to his office. Sometime later, Dobby the elf will take that box to Mr. Filch’s office.”

“We start the meeting, without Mr. Binns, our ghost teacher. Are ghosts already start to sense the presence of the dementor at this point? That is not known, as Mr. Binns usually skips staff meetings. When he does, he appears near the end which he didn’t do. Ghosts do fear dementors, because the dementor’s kiss can still affect them. Their happiness and desire are all the things they have left! By the time the presence of a dementor is felt much later, they will all hide in the deepest dungeon. But I’m getting ahead of myself.”

She took a sip of tea, and continued.

“During the staff meeting, we lose sight of three people. Hagrid goes outside and checks on his pets. Filch goes after him, saying he thinks the doors has been left open. This is obviously a lie, the doors close by themselves but everyone assumes he just wants to get away from the meeting. He really goes up to the seventh floor. He ordinarily uses the Room of Requirement when he’s running low on cleaning supplies, but could the room also change to contain a dementor? It does, changing into what looks like a safe place to contain the dementor! Time to go get the book-device. As he comes out, he sees Madame Pomfrey. Poppy has left the meeting saying she will check up on Irma, but actually she goes up to the owlery to send a message to her boyfriend in Hogsmeade.”

Snape scowled loudly, and was hushed again.

“Filch waits until she goes back to the meeting, then he descends to the sixth floor where he runs into Tugglit.”

“What is on the sixth floor?” asked Madame Sprout, getting dirty looks from everyone for interrupting.

“Nothing of consideration, which is probably the reason why Mr. Filch and Tugglit meet there. Mr. Filch incorrectly guided me to the very spot when he was first going to show me where he had found Tugglit. I don’t know what they talk about there that very night, but it’s very possible Mr. Filch tells him he doesn’t need him anymore.”

McGonagall casted down her eyes.

“Filch takes out the book from the secret passage behind the mirror on the fourth floor. Tugglit must’ve rejoined him and they had some sort of discussion over what to do with the book. Irma Pince hears them outside her library. When I’m interviewing her later, she either can’t make out Filch’s voice or decides not to tell me, either way she can’t make what they’re saying and doesn’t come out… yet. I believe Filch sends Tugglit away again at this point and the elf obeys.”

She couldn’t hide her distaste at Filch’s actions, but kept on talking.

“On his way to the seventh floor, Filch climbs up to the fifth. He passes right in front of the statue of Boris the Bewildered. From behind the statue, Peeves appears and frightens him. Filch loses his grip on the book-device and the dementor comes out. This is the moment Peeves screams as he sees the dementor and runs away. Tugglit hears the screaming and immediately apparates to help whom he considers his master. The dementor sees the elf, and goes for him…”

She choked back a tear.

“As the dementor’s kiss kills Tugglit, I’d like to believe Filch tries to stop it. I really do.”

She cleared her throat.

“Filch has to act fast, but he’s lost the book-device. Whatever prank Peeves did, the book probably ended up being thrown down the open space of the stairs.  The dementor is satiated with the murder, and complies when Filch attempts to guide it upstairs. He calls him up to the Room of Requirement and leaves it there, closing the door which dissappears.”

“He runs downstairs, looking for the book but unable to find it. What is he going to do now? What is everyone going to think when they see a dead elf? Free from Mrs. Norris, he convinces himself this is not a big deal. He picks up a box of garbage he finds on his desk. He rans upstairs again, and drops the box of garbage right next to Tugglit’s body. That way everyone will think the elf was cleaning. Curiously enough, this is the box that Filch’s name on it. When I later examine the area, I will feel traces of Tugglit’s death on the very spot where the box is. Had I taken the box and examined separately, I would’ve found the box had nothing.”

She blamed herself inwardly for not performing that very test.

“Now he’s almost convinced himself that he’s got everything worked out. He goes into the Staff Room and tries to get Dumbledore to go upstairs and look at the scene but the Headmaster tells him to wait. Filch wants it all finished, so he gets a sack and with the utmost cold-blood he brings the dead elf right to the staff meeting, dumping him on the table.”

They almost felt like it was that very night all over again.

“Surprisingly for him, we all stay. He wants us out, he’s running out of Weasley candy to keep Mrs. Norris sick. He can’t find his beloved book-device. Odds are he never got to use the control feature. Then when he’s interviewed, he sees a book that looks exactly like the device on my desk! Has he been found out? No, I don’t suspect him. He becomes convinced that is the very book he’s searching for. While Severus and I are interviewing Pomona and Filius, he gets into my office and steals the book. I’m sure he has a copy of the keys to most rooms in this castle. The Room of Requirement is deeply connected to the magic foundation of the castle, and the essence of the dementor is leaking out. In his mind, Filch is going to save the castle.”

“But this is not the book… and he ends up trapped with a crazy dementor. He stays there until he gets rescued by Severus, Kingsley and I.”

“So you took us to check out your office,” said Snape, “and confirmed your suspicions when you didn’t find the book there.”

“Yes. Exactly.”

Shacklebolt shook his head.

“There’s just one thing I don’t understand.”

“One thing?” said Snape, Flitwick and Sprout at the same time.

“What happened to the book? The real book-device? You said it was safe.”

“It is. Somebody else took it,” said McGonagall

“Somebody else? There’s nobody else left!”

McGonagall couldn’t help laughing.

“You’re forgetting her again…”

They all looked at each other, their mouths opened.

“Irma Pince?”

“The librarian?”

McGonagall nodded.

“Who else? When Peeves scared Filch out of his wits and the dementor got out, they were by the statue of Boris which is on the fifth floor. The library is on the fourth floor. Irma did acknowledge she went outside after she heard Peeves screaming, but she came back inside again without investigating any further. Why?  What happened that made her change her mind and go back to her library all of a sudden? Because she found what she thought was a regular book carelessly lying on the stairs, where it must’ve fallen after Peeves scared Filch. It wasn’t hers but that didn’t matter to Irma, in her mind she was rescuing a poor little book from further damage.”

“That’s why you stopped by the library when you were leading us up to the seventh floor,” said Snape.

“Yes,” said McGonagall, “Had I known it earlier, we could’ve used the book itself. But by the time we evacuated everyone, Irma left the library closed up with spells and charms so nobody could get in.”

“So I’m guessing we’re going to destroy both the book and the essay,” said Snape.

Dumbledore nodded.

“Yes, that would be the best course of action.”

“What about Filch?”

“That,” said Shacklebolt, “is up to the Headmaster.”

McGonagall looked at Dumbledore, her teeth clenched.

“Albus, he is responsible for an elf’s death. He has to go to Askaban, or some other prison.”

But Albus shook his head.

“I would rather say he was irresponsable, and he’s to blame for the resulting accident. I agree Argus Filch has to face punishment, and he will Minerva. I see no reason to send him to Askaban or to turn him over to muggle authorities. It wouldn’t redeem him, just make him the best bitter.

“You’re concerned about him? What about Tugglit?”

“Tugglit is out of our hands. Argus Filch, on the other hand, is our concern and the proper way to teach him a lesson is not drive him away. I have Madame Pomfrey looking over Mrs. Norris. She will take charge of Argus Filch in no time.”

“But Albus,” said McGonagall insistingly, “he got an elf killed!”

“I have talked to the elves, they are in agreement.”

“You’re going to let him off?”

“No, Minerva. Mr. Filch is not in the clear. He’s a very tortured man, much of it from his own decision to isolate himself from those around him. He will be punished, but not by us but by the very castle itself.”

McGonagall was avoiding Albus’ gaze.

“Minerva, do you know why I let Argus Filch be our caretaker?”

“He keeps the students in line…” she said, a little mad at him, “you told me this the other day already.”

“As you can see, he can also confuse a dementor.”

She stared at him.

“So you chose him because… a dementor would have no effect on him?”

“Oh, I’m pretty sure it would have, but it would become confused initially. His bitterness would be a mask, but there is some joy, although probably very twisted, left in Argus Filch. This is just something I consider part of Mr. Filch’s ‘factor’, as you call it.”

“Why didn’t you ever foresee he might try to use that against the students he loathes so much?”

“My dear Minerva, I blame myself. I have had Mr. Filch under vigilance all the time, but he found a way to dodge her, albeit in an accidental fashion.”

“You mean his cat? Mrs. Norris?”

“Yes, she and I have a separate services contract.”

McGonagall insisted Filch be committed somewhere, but Dumbledore stood by his decision.

By the time the sun was starting to rise through the trees of the Forbidden Forest, the last remaints of ice and frost had melted away. A pleasant summer heat invaded Hogwarts castle. The ghosts, who had ran away down to the deepest corner of the dungeons, came out. There was a hustle throughout the paintings as each occupant tried to find his frame again. The intruder was gone.

Everybody else chose to come back from Hogsmeade. Kingsley Shacklebolt had Madame Pince open her library so he could confiscate the book. Mr. Filch was also ordered to hand over the essay. There was a last dinner in the Great Hall, which everyone stayed for before parting their ways for the rest of the summer. They all wanted to hear the story of how it all happened too. Shacklebolt and Dumbledore burned the essay and the book together, while Irma Pince cried her eyes out. The auror bid everyone farewell and left right after dinner.

Filch did not show up to the dinner. Mrs. Norris, fully recovered, guided him to the deepest and darkest corners of the castle and left him there. Filch did not manage to find his way back until morning. The elves didn’t save any food for him, but Dobby left a plate of noodle soup on his desk.

Filch asked for Mrs. Norris to forgive him, but the cat was not easily moved. She kept guiding him down the wrong corridors and making sure he didn’t get any meal on time. The rest of the inhabitants didn’t help his plight any better, and Filch had to endure Peeves’ pranks which were fully authorized by Dumbledore to continue all summer. The very castle itself seemed against him, and one could hear Filch saying ‘I’m sorry’ everytime he tripped down the stairs again. Mrs. Norris was the nastier, and Filch ended up keeping a lookout for her as she was keen to push large heavy objects down the stairs at him.

Within a couple of days, McGonagall decided it was time to pack and enjoy the rest of the summer. There was work to be done elsewhere. Death Eaters were possibly up to something somewhere, and Voldemort would probably be behind it.

She packed up her stuff in her trunk and used the locomotor charm on it. She left her office, her trunk floating behind her, headed down the stairs and crossed the Entrance Hall.

The great oak doors were opened, as the last of the Hogwarts staff were finally leaving for the summer. Outside, she saw Hagrid hugging Dumbledore. Then he left him on the ground and walked away, sprinting gleefully. She left her trunk on the doorway and approached the tall wizard.

“What’s with Hagrid this morning?”

Dumbledore was adjusting his robe. Hagrid had hugged him so tight that Dumbledore would have to check for broken ribs later.

“I gave him some good news. He’s going to have some dragons.”

“Albus! Dragons are restricted by Wizard Law… aren’t they?”

He smiled reassuringly.

“I just learned it from the Ministry. There’s a good chance Hogwarts will be hosting the Triwizard Tournament next year. Rubeus will get to take care of some dangerous varieties briefly.”

He saw McGonagall’s look of concern and added quickly, “Don’t worry. We will have expert dragon handlers as well. Of course, this information will be kept confidential until the beginning of the next term.”

There was a crash upstairs. Filch’s whimpering excuses were heard again, almost a wail in the distance by now.

Snape was walking out, his own charmed trunk floating behind him.

“I reckon Mr. Filch has somehow gotten himself locked up in an armor.”

McGonagall was amazed.

“Really! How did Mrs. Norris managed to do that?”

“Who said anything about Mrs. Norris?”

She smiled at him. He smirked back.

“I just thought he needed a reminder.”

“Glad you were there to help.”

“You know me, Minerva,” said Snape with his usual sarcasm, “Anytime the need arises, I’m there.”

“Be careful, Severus, if you start getting manners you could almost be social.”

“Minerva, please don’t start. It’s summer and I’m off.”

Dumbledore was staring out at the blue sky, looking at the last of the brooms that had taken off.

“Hogwarts can be a very lonely place without the students around.”

He had spoken out loud, not to anybody in particular, but McGonagall knew he was feeling nostalgic.

“They always come back. Every year, Albus.”

“And go away. Every year, Minerva.”

She looked at the old wizard sideways.

“You know you, you could try to be more sociable too, Albus.”

“Yes,” said Snape, almost happy to join in any mockery that was directed to someone other than himself, “you can start by being less cryptic about everything. Sometimes I swear you’ve got sphinx blood in your veins.”

McGonagall stared at Snape mockingly.

“You? You’re going to tell Albus how to be more sociable?”

If McGonagall was amused with Snape’s attempt to help, Dumbledore was completely delighted.

“She’s right, Severus. You’re way too strict with your students. You’re way too strict with your fellow teachers, for that matter! I hardly see you laugh or tell jokes.”

Snape attempted to look offended.

“You’re quite mistaken, both of you. I know jokes. As a matter of fact…”

He laughed, a little maniacally.

“…I heard a good one recently.”

McGonagall leaned closer to Snape. Snape knew jokes? This, she had to hear. Snape cleared his throat and began.

“A troll, a hag and a leprechaun go into a bar…”

The End

***

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.

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  1. #1 by Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz on May 13, 2010 - 7:41 pm

    BRAVO! I did not see anything coming until it was explained. Very well constructed story. I am very impressed!

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