A Squib’s Proper Place
A Squib’s Proper Place
a Harry Potter fan-fic
a sequel to "To Save A Squib"
Chapter 2 of 6: New Arrivals
Everything in this story really belongs to J.K. Rowling
The large chestnut wardrobe in my bedroom usually contains only my brown coat, my shirts and breeches (also brown) and the bottle green tailcoat that I wear on special occasions. There’s plenty of room at the bottom of the wardrobe for a cardboard nesting box, with a mother cat and a litter of four kittens. And a fifth kitten, who would be joining us momentarily.
A few weeks earlier Hermione Granger had helped me cut the box so that the sides were high enough to keep curious kittens inside, but low enough to permit their mother to come and go as she pleased. The box was lined with many soft absorbent cloths. Birth is a messy business.
Poppy and Hermione had both seemed to know that tonight would be the night that Mrs. Norris would have her kittens. Poppy had reminded me to keep a close watch on my cat when I’d visited the hospital wing earlier this evening. And Hermione, who’d been keeping track of the days, had said in very serious tones, "it’s day sixty-three, Mr. Filch!" just before I’d dismissed the Gryffindors from tonight’s detention.
Mrs. Norris had approved of both the nesting box and its location. Tonight, she had chosen to sleep in the box instead of on the bed. Taking my pillow and a blanket, I had lain down on the floor beside the wardrobe so I could wait with her.
Her labor had begun in the middle of the night. The sky outside my window was beginning to lighten as kitten number five joined her brothers and sisters. Number six, who arrived about fifteen minutes after number five, seemed determined to enter the world the tail first. (Numbers two and three had also been breech births.) Fortunately this one emerged without too much additional difficulty.
Around twenty minutes later, a seventh kitten emerged. Poor Mrs. Norris had not yet settled down to nurse her babies. Finally, after another ten minutes had passed and number eight was born, she relaxed.
Upon arrival, each kitten had been duly weighed and measured. The resulting information was entered into the ledger that Hermione had given me. My writing was awkward and messy because of my aching right arm and hand, but still readable.
Mrs. Norris blinked her golden eyes at me, looking quite relieved. That part’s over! she was clearly thinking. Proudly, I stroked and praised her. She was my brave one, my beautiful one, such a wonderful mother!
While I was removing the soiled cloths and towels from the nesting box and replacing them with fresh, clean ones, I praised the kittens too. Newborn kittens resemble blind, deaf, floppy rats, but Mrs. Norris might have clawed my nose off if I had not said kind things about her darlings.
I’d remembered the fear and sorrow connected with Mrs. Norris’s previous litter of kittens. But I’d forgotten the joy, and how the sight of them could squeeze my heart. They were so small! Three tiny queens, all various shades of grey, and five tiny toms. Two of the toms were ginger-colored like Crookshanks, their father. One tom was grey, one was a patch-work of ginger and black and the last one was completely black.
While Mrs. Norris washed and nursed her brood, I made a note of each kitten’s gender and coloring in the ledger. My handwriting grew progressively messier but I wanted to write everything down for Hermione. I thought that it would be at least two weeks before I could allow anyone else to view the kittens, even briefly. Mrs. Norris had been very firm on that point the last time she’d had kittens. This time would probably be no different.
An exception would be Poppy, who would come in a few days to Charm the kittens against the illnesses that they would otherwise be vulnerable to.
Hermione had been disappointed about the expected two week wait, but she’d seemed to understand. I was determined to keep careful notes until she was allowed to see the kittens for herself.
The other children who’d asked for kittens would have to be patient too. I’d explained to each of them that it was Mrs. Norris that they needed to convince, not me. The best I could do was try to put in a good word for them.
Everyone knew that Ginny Weasley would be getting one of the kittens. Mrs. Norris and I were very fond of Ginny. Colin Creevey had wanted two kittens, one for himself and one for his brother, Dennis. Mrs. Norris had seemed receptive to both boys. I was glad, though the thought of Mrs. Norris’s kittens being ‘fixed’ the Muggle way did upset me.
(I hoped that Colin and Dennis could convince their parents that Charms were an effective method for preventing unplanned kittens. Strange as it may seem, Muggles seem to put more faith in their own methods, even when their children are wizards.)
Lilith and Gehenna Morgan, two small sisters from Slytherin, had also asked for a pair of kittens. Mrs. Norris had seemed inclined to grant their request. Hannah Abbott was the last among those that Mrs. Norris had clearly chosen to receive a kitten. That meant six kittens were spoken for and two still needed homes.
Other children had asked for kittens, so I wasn’t worried about the last two being unwanted.
The sun was completely up now and I was exhausted. Curling up on the floor again, I was lulled into a peaceful doze by the sound of contented maternal purring coming from the nesting box.
Suddenly, small strong hands were shaking my shoulders. Blearily, I opened my eyes to find myself face to face with a house-elf.
"Mr. Filch is not at breakfast!" Dobby said. "And Hermione Granger is wanting to know, is kittens born yet?" The elf grinned broadly.
"See for yourself," I yawned. "Please tell Hermione that she’s a gran now, eight times over."
Mrs. Norris was well supplied with food and water. What she and the kittens needed most now was peace and quiet. Delivering kittens and writing everything down had taken their toll on my right hand and arm. I’d ignored the pain for as long as I could, but now I decided to go and see Poppy.
Either Dobby or Hermione (probably both) had spread the news. The corridors were full of children on their way to classes. I was congratulated many times on my way to the hospital wing.
After adding her congratulations and listening to a detailed account of each delivery, Poppy checked my arm and hand. She reassured me that my injuries were mending nicely. Then she gave me a slightly stronger than usual pain-killing potion.
Sirius Black also appeared to be on the mend. The Animagus was now able to limp restlessly around the hospital wing in his human form, which he was currently wearing since Poppy and I were the only ones in the ward with him.
The Animagus had listened to me while I’d described the kittens’ arrival. He’d smiled and congratulated me though he was clearly preoccupied about something.
"It’s Snape," Black growled, when I asked him what was wrong. "You know what he did. He gave every single Gryffindor fifth year detention last night! The greasy GIT."
"He’s not a git," I said, automatically. "He was sore and cranky. It made him bad tempered."
The Animagus snorted.
"Even more bad tempered than usual," I amended.
"You always did take his side." Black folded his arms across his chest.
"Perhaps I’m defending Severus because he never once put dungbombs in my desk. Or used sticking-curses on my broom cupboard doorknobs. Or hexed my mops. Or turned my wash-water into Mrs. Skower’s flavored custard and set the pail up to fall on me. Or blew up my office toilet with fireworks," I replied, somewhat testily.
Black’s grin was rueful. The expression made his gaunt face look younger, a bit more like the incorrigible brat that I remembered.
"Please accept my sincere, if somewhat belated apologies," he said, earnestly. "Blowing up the toilet was really an accident. We were trying to flush away the evidence."
I sighed. "Did Potter tell you about the detention?"
"Yes, I got that much out of him. But Harry wasn’t the one who told me it was Snape’s detention."
"He’s wise beyond his years, that boy," I murmured. "How did you find out if Harry wouldn’t say?"
Poppy answered. "He overheard that bit of gossip from Callandra Moffit. She was in here with her parents this morning."
"Is Callandra all right?" I asked, anxiously.
Poppy nodded. "I only needed to examine her and ask the Moffitts for some information about any of her past health problems."
I sighed. Squibs usually have more health problems and more complicated medical records than most proper witches and wizards do.
"I needed the information for her school records," Poppy said.
"Her s-school records?" I asked. "She’s going to be a student at Hogwarts then?
Poppy smiled. "Albus finished making arrangements with her parents yesterday. Today Callandra is going to be tested by each Professor to see which subjects she’ll be able to manage best, and to which degree."
Merlin’s Beard, Potter had been right!! I knew that I was grinning like a fool, but I hardly cared.
Madam Pomfrey turned to the Animagus. "As for you, whatever you’re planning to do to Severus, don’t!" she said, sternly. "I was thinking of allowing you to take a bit of a walk today, but if I can’t trust you to behave yourself..."
Black gave her an innocent, decidedly puppy-eyed look. "Please let me out of here, I’ll behave, I swear!"
"I’ll take him for a walk and make sure of it," I promised Poppy. "We’ll go outside. He won’t be anywhere near Severus."
I thought that Black would object to me walking with him but the Animagus did not seem to mind. He must have been terribly bored.
Black was studying me, gravely. "Filch. I never thanked you for what you did. Blocking Vol..."
Both Poppy and I looked at him in alarm.
The young wizard sighed. "... the Dark Lord’s Curse. Before it could hit me."
I felt embarrassed. "Well, you’d already saved me. Stopped me from drowning. And I didn’t thank you for it either."
"That was after you’d got both of us away from the Death Eaters and out of the falling tower," the Animagus said.
"You stood between me and the Dark Lord!" I pointed out, gruffly. "I’m grateful, of course, though it was foolish of you. If you’d had any sense you would have taken Callandra and left me."
Black’s face looked haunted, his pale eyes full of shadows. "You would have been worse than dead, Filch. I couldn’t do that."
Harry had told me a great deal about Sirius Black. The Animagus was innocent of betraying James and Lily, but he still blamed himself for their deaths at the Dark Lord’s hands.
The expression on the young wizard’s thin battered face distressed me. Of course I didn’t miss the mischievous Marauding brat he’d been, but I didn’t want to see the poor lad looking like he was in the company of Dementors either.
"It’s all right," I muttered. "It’s not a Quidditch match, is it? No one’s keeping score."
Black studied me, as if he hadn’t heard. "Thank you for trusting me, Mr. Filch, even after you knew who I was," he said, very quietly. Then he took his dog form and we left the hospital wing together.
"Neville really thinks that he’s a Squib!" Callandra’s voice was astonished.
The child’s next test was to be in Care of Magical Creatures. Hagrid was still teaching a class at the moment.
So Callandra waited, sitting with Black and me in the grass near Hagrid’s hut. Her ebony hair was in a different pattern than it had been on the day I’d met her. She had many small braids wound carefully together in a twist at the nape of her neck. Both her new hairstyle and her grave expression made the girl look older than her fifteen years.
"Maybe you can convince him otherwise," I said. "Merlin knows, I’ve tried."
"Neville would believe us if he could only feel how much magic he has in him," Callandra said, wistfully. "I never knew that feeling magic is just, you know... a Squib thing. I thought everyone could do it."
"So did I," I told her.
"Neville’s great-Uncle actually pushed him off the end of Blackpool pier!" Callandra exclaimed indignantly. "Nearly drowned him! Can you imagine? Neville’s so brave about things like that. Mum wouldn’t stand for that sort of thing at our house. She always sent anyone who wanted to ‘cure’ me packing. I’m glad that my family didn’t treat me like Neville’s family treated him. Even though he says that they really did mean well."
Her voice got softer. "I’m sure if his Mum and Dad could be with Neville, they would never have let anyone hurt him."
Her fiercely protective tone made me smile.
Callandra stroked the Animagus, who blinked at her sleepily. The slow walk that we’d taken around the Castle grounds had really tired the huge dog out.
"I can’t believe that I’m really going to be allowed to come here," Callandra said. "I keep expecting that I’ll wake up and find out that it’s been a dream. A very pleasant dream, after a nightmare," she added, with a shiver.
I watched her deliberately push all thoughts of the Death Eaters away. "Mum and Dad say that I’ll be safe here," she murmured, half to herself. "The Headmaster says so too. I thought I’d be afraid of him, but he’s so friendly. He told me that the things I can do are really rare gifts."
She bit her lip. "I’m not scared of Professor Dumbledore, but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t afraid at all. I’ve always thought I had no magic. What if the Headmaster was just being kind to me, Mr. Filch?"
She took a deep breath. "The Potions Master tested me today. He’s every bit as frightening as Neville said he was! I think I did all right. At least I did everything that he told me to do, in the proper order, with all the right measurements. I think the potion came out the way it was supposed to. But he didn’t say anything when I’d finished."
"If he didn’t say anything, then you must have done well," I said. "Professor Snape certainly would have let you hear about your mistakes."
I wondered if Callandra would ever learn how Severus had risked his life to save her. I wished that I could tell her.
"Professor Snape is a frightening man, but he does smell rather nice," Callandra said, thoughtfully. "Like strawberries with a bit of orange or lemon peel added."
My eyes widened. The glamour! She’d described the scent of it, exactly. She did not seem to know what she was sensing though, and I couldn’t tell her about that either. I sighed.
"Mr. Filch?" Callandra said, a bit hesitantly. "I need to ask you something. It’s about the Castle. It looks normal to me now, but the first time I came through the gates with Mum and Dad for the party, I saw two images, one on top of the other. One was the Castle as it really is..."
"And the other image?" I murmured. "Was it the Castle in ruins, child? The way that Muggles are supposed to see Hogwarts?"
She nodded vigorously. "Yes! Oh, Mr. Filch, I was afraid to tell anyone! The first time you ever came here, did you see the Castle like that, too?"
"Yes," I said, quietly, remembering my own first look at the Castle so many years ago. I’d been sick with fright, thinking that it must mean that I was practically a Muggle.
"I’ve never told anyone what I saw. I was too afraid," I confessed. "I didn’t know then what I know now. Sometimes we Squibs can see spells that proper wizards can’t see."
"Or feel them!" she said. "Sometimes spells tickle me. Or make me feel cold, or warm..."
I nodded, gravely. "Does magic ever make you sneeze? Itch?" I asked.
Callandra nodded, brown eyes wide and serious. Then both of us grinned. How wonderful it felt not to be alone.
"I’m sure that there will be people here who will question your right to be a student," I said, gruffly. "Try to remember what the Headmaster told you. You do have magic gifts, Callandra. Not the same gifts as the other students. But your magic is real, nonetheless."
Caught up in our conversation, neither Callandra nor I had heard Hagrid approaching ‘til his huge shadow fell across us.
"I’m ready for yeh now," the half-giant said, cheerfully. His huge hand was outstretched to help the girl to her feet. "Don’t be afraid. Yeh’ll do alrig’."
Callandra might have been afraid. But she stood up, straight and proud, her hand in his.
"I’m ready," she said.
END OF CHAPTER TWO
Durayan: Thank you for reviewing! I like writing Neville-in-love. He’s such a cute kid. Filch believes that the caretaker job was his best option. His family was worried that he wouldn’t have a secure job and might end up as a beggar. He wants Callandra to have more choices than he had.
Yes, poor Snape isn’t going to let go of any of his children without a fight.
Murasaki99: Thank you for reviewing! I hope that you feel better soon! ‘Sirius and Severus, Madam Pomfrey’s Tag-Team of Joy!’ That made me laugh. Yes, Snape has to be very careful with how he encourages Draco towards the light. If he’s not subtle enough then Draco will catch on to what he’s doing. If Snape’s encouragement isn’t successful then Draco will tell Lucius what the Potions Master is doing. As Durayan said, it’s a dangerous tightrope walk.
B. Nonymous: Thank you for reviewing! I think Voldemort prefers his followers to come to him initially of their own free will. Then, thereafter, everything they do at his command is their own fault. He can remind them that they chose to take up with him.
Draco comes into the story a bit, but not too much. If there is any hope for Draco to choose the light, (and Snape wants to believe there is some hope for him) I think that one of the reasons could be because of concern and fear for his father.
Lilac: Thank you for reviewing! Yes, I love an honorable Snape who’s on the side of the light, and who fights to keep his children from falling to the dark. I haven’t written more than a few bits of H/G, mainly because so many excellent writers have focused on Harry and Ginny, and done a much better job than I think I could do.
Rebecca: Thank you for reviewing! I felt so bad for poor Filch when I started reading Harry Potter fan-fiction. The poor old grump was barely even mentioned. And he was hardly ever treated as a sympathetic character on the rare occasions when he was mentioned. I work in a school (cooking for and cleaning up after the students & staff), and I felt great sympathy for Filch. It’s easy to be bad-tempered when you’re doing a job that feels pretty thankless. Writing stories from Filch’s POV after a day at work is extremely cathartic.