a Harry Potter fan-fic
sequel to "A Squibís Proper Place"
Chapter 1 of 5: Obliviated
Everything in this story really belongs to J.K. Rowling
The Forbidden Forest is a dreadful place. I rarely enter its borders, even during the day. It was sheer madness for me to go there in the middle of the night.
Following Draco Malfoy into the Forest on my own was worse than foolish. I should have awakened Severus before I left the Castle or fetched Hagrid before entering the Forest. But Draco had already slipped out of the Castle like a wraith. And the boy was moving at a run, swiftly going beyond the Castleís boundaries. I was afraid to hesitate even for a moment, for fear of losing him.
Over the past weeks I had seen Severusís fears for his favorite student steadily increase. Barely sleeping or eating, Draco was paler than ever. He had gotten thinner, his grey eyes held a perpetually haunted expression and had bruised-looking hollows underneath them.
As a first year, young Malfoy had shown a sensible amount of dread for the Forest and the perils within. But now he moved eagerly through the dark trees as if he feared nothing.
Clutching my lantern, I hurried along the narrow earth track that wound through the trees. The boyís glowing wand guided me towards him. At least he had slowed a bit, enough for me to catch up with him.
"Draco!" I shouted. "Stop, boy! Where do you think youíre going?"
"Mr. Filch?!" Dracoís voice was startled. He was so distracted that he had not known that he was being followed. "What are you doing here?"
"My job!" I snarled, fear making my voice even harsher than usual. "Youíre supposed to be in the Castle, in your dormitory, in your bed!"
"You shouldnít have followed me! You must leave here at once," Draco ordered me imperiously. "You have no idea how much danger youíre in!"
"Me?! What about you, you young fool?" I snapped.
"Iíll be fine," the boy said, haughtily. "Itís you who..."
Not giving him a chance to finish, I reached out and grabbed his arm. "Youíre coming back with me, straight-away! Weíll see what Professor Snape and the Headmaster have to say about..."
Around us, the Forest had grown very still. Abruptly I realized that the boy and I were not alone.
"Pendeo," a drawling voice hissed from behind me. I found myself lifted into the air by a powerful spell.
"Draco, you have brought me an unexpected gift! How delightful. Good evening, Squib. Have you no insolent words for me?" Lucius Malfoy asked. His voice was as elegant as ever, though there was a ragged quality marring its smoothness.
His power swirled around me, spinning me roughly around to face him.
The resemblance between father and son had never been more pronounced. Like Draco, Lucius looked as if heíd been ill. He was thin and paler than usual. His grey eyes were haunted by the memory of recent pain. The rage perceptible beneath his calm manner struck me like a physical blow.
Malfoy makes a dangerous enemy. If he should ever have you at his mercy again, he will make you beg for death. I had not forgotten Snapeís warning. Helpless at Malfoyís dubious mercy was the very last place on earth that I wanted to be. I knew that I was not supposed to remember most of the things Iíd done to enrage this Dark Wizard recently. I didnít expect that to save me. It didnít.
But Draco bought me a brief respite.
"Please, Father! Leave him alone. Speak to me," the boy pleaded. "Itís been weeks! I was so glad to get your message this morning! Iíve thought of nothing else all day. You still have not said what happened to you. Mother has told me nothing. Neither has Professor Snape!"
"Both Professor Snape and your Mother have been obeying my wishes. What happened to me is none of your concern."
"Iíve been worried..." Dracoís voice faltered now.
"Foolishness. Iím fine, as you can see. Ah, Draco, you are too old for such nonsense."
This last was said as the boy embraced his father. Lucius held Draco close to him, his protests fading into silence. Malfoy senior made no comment on Dracoís obvious pallor. But a flash of pain crossed his face. He held his son tightly for a moment, even after the boy had released him.
"There. Let your mind be at ease now, boy," Lucius said, quietly. "I am all right. What happened is over and done."
His silver-grey eyes studied me. "But not forgotten, oh no. At least, not by me."
"Father?" Draco said, confused. "I donít understand what Mr. Filch could possibly have to do with anything. Heís only a Squib."
Lucius smiled, bitterly. "Ah. Youíd be surprised how much of a nuisance Ďonlyí a Squib can be. Particularly that one."
I felt a wave of satisfaction. I did not dare allow it to show on my face. Instead I did my best to look frightened, which wasnít too difficult.
"Have you anything to say for yourself?" Lucius Malfoy asked me.
"No," I whispered. "Sir."
"Good. You seem to have acquired better manners since the last time we met. Or since the last time that you can recall meeting me, at any rate," Lucius drawled. "At least youíre a Squib who understands his proper place in the order of things. Unlike another I could name. The Moffitts arenít really to blame. That old fool, Albus Dumbledore, has put some very strange notions into their heads."
Unable to help myself, I dropped the facade of meekness and glared openly at Lucius Malfoy. I knew that heíd meant to provoke me, but it didnít matter. I was fond of the Moffitt family! And, though I am not anywhere near as threatening as Hagrid, I still did not intend to float calmly while a Death Eater insulted the Headmaster in my presence! I was doomed anyhow. There seemed no point in hiding my defiance. Maybe if I angered him enough he would kill me quickly.
Draco was giving me a look of pure exasperation. "Father," the boy said, placatingly, "Donít..."
"Petrificus Totalus!" Lucius Malfoy snarled at me. The body bind itself was not painful. But the thud when he let me fall to the ground jarred every bone in my paralyzed body. A cry of pain forced itself out through my clenched jaws. Lucius prodded my side with his boot. Then he turned me over onto my back.
"Father, if you hurt him, there will be questions," Draco cautioned Lucius. The boyís face was a calm mask. He sounded completely indifferent to my fate. But heíd moved between Lucius and me, blocking the path of any curses that the older wizard might want to throw in my direction.
"Donít concern yourself, Draco. Iím not going to injure him. At least not in any obvious way. The satisfaction would be all too fleeting. And it would be a foolish waste of an unexpected opportunity. No, I can think of a much better use for Dumbledoreís highly trusted pet Squib.
"Imperio!" Lucius hissed in my ear, his wand inches from my face.
A wonderful feeling filled me, as if a lifetime of cares had all been wiped away. I struggled hard, both against this vague unnatural happiness and even harder against the faithless act of betrayal that Lucius Malfoy was telling me to commit for him.
"Stubborn wretch, arenít you..." Lucius murmured. "Well. Weíll do this the hard way, then."
Harshly, he said, "Crucio!"
I tried to resist him. I tried. But the combination of two Unforgivable Curses was more than I could fight. Through tears of pain, I saw the pale glimmer of Dracoís frightened face as the boy crouched, shuddering, beside me.
"Iíve left no marks on the old man. There will be no unpleasant questions asked about what occurred tonight," Lucius reassured his son, quietly.
"Still, for your own sake, I think that it is best if you do not remember what you have seen and heard. It is necessary for your own protection. You are blameless. None of this shall touch you."
Luciusís voice softened. "I am sorry, Draco. Forgive me. Remember only that we saw each other, we talked, and you found me well."
Lucius Malfoyís voice was gentle, but the spell he cast on Draco was strong.
Lucius Malfoy turned to me. "Your turn, now," he said. "You will obey me, though you will forget who has given you your task. In a weekís time you will return to the Forest, bearing the thing that Iíve asked you to fetch for me. You will speak of this to no one. Is this understood?"
"Yes," I said, dully.
He paused. "There is one thing more. My son is not to be punished for leaving the Castle. You will not give him detention. Bring him back inside and consider the matter ended. You will remember this!"
"Yes," I murmured.
His wand glowed as it filled my field of vision.
"Obliviate," Lucius Malfoy said.
I woke up, gasping, from a nightmare that had left me shaken. Terrible dreams had plagued me for the past three nights. The details of the nightmares always faded within moments after I woke. The only thing that I could remember was someone speaking to me in a smooth, compelling voice.
My sudden movement had disturbed the nine cats who were sharing my bed. Rudely awakened, they stared at me reproachfully. Their golden eyes were bright in the moonlight that shone through my window.
Mrs. Norris purred. The soothing sound helped to calm my racing heart. Her eight kittens, nearly ready now to leave their mother, surrounded me inquisitively.
"No, Paladin, I donít want to play. Bastet, stop! That tickles! Ouch! Azoth, get away from my feet!"
Itís hard to remain afraid when one is surrounded by playful kittens. The indistinct images from my nightmare had already slipped from my mind.
Early the next morning, I was polishing a suit of armor near the portrait of the Fat Lady. A soft gasp behind me made me turn round.
"Mr. Filch? Are you all right?" Callandra Moffitt stood there, her brown eyes worried.
Puzzled, I frowned at her. "Of course I am."
"Are you sure?" the girl asked.
"Yes," I said, gruffly.
Iím very fond of Callandra but lack of sleep was making me particularly bad tempered. Her question exasperated me. Didnít the child think Iíd know if I was all right or not?
Neville Longbottom, who stood beside Callandra, looked from one of us to the other.
"He does seem a bit pale," Neville said to Callandra. "Do you see something more than that?"
My exasperation increased. I am also very fond of Neville, but the two of them were speaking about me as if I was something from their Care of Magical Creatures class!
Callandra nodded, frowning. "Thereís something around him. Something that ...hurts. Itís hard to explain."
The girl shivered. "Neville, canít you feel it?"
Neville shook his head. "It must be a Squib-thing," the boy said.
"It is not a Squib-thing," I snapped, glowering. "If it was, then I would be able to feel it too, wouldnít I?"
The two of them exchanged a meaningful glance, the sort of look that seems to contain an entire conversation, but they said nothing aloud.
"Hurry along, now. Youíll be late for breakfast. I have work to do and youíre keeping me from it!" I said, testily.
A bit later, Ginny Weasley also asked me if I was all right.
"Iím perfectly fine!" I growled. Then I bit my tongue. I can yell at almost anyone without regretting it, but snarling at Ginny always makes me feel dreadful.
"Merlinís Beard, child. Iím sorry. Iím just tired. Have you ever tried to sleep with nine cats using you for a Quidditch pitch?"
She laughed, which made me feel a bit better. Then she continued on to breakfast and I continued polishing.
That night I awakened, shuddering, from another bad dream. I managed to hold fast to some memories before they could slip from my mind. There had been tall trees around me and a powerful Dark wizard who had held me, helpless. The smooth, compelling voice had been his.
There had been a boy there, too. He had stood between me and the Dark one. A boy I considered one of the worst brats in the school. I had a vague recollection of pale eyes in a thin, haggard face. No, perhaps the boy had grey eyes?
I sighed. The rest of the dreamís details had faded.
At least Iíd managed not to disturb the kittens this time. The little furballs were piled up in a sleep-heap after a long day spent creating havoc. Mrs. Norris slept beside her offspring. As much as she would miss them, I knew that she was looking forward to seeing them settled, each one with the witch or wizard of their choice. I ran my hand gently along her back until I drifted back to sleep.
I woke again before morning, unable to remember if Iíd been dreaming or not. To my terror, I discovered that I was not in my bed, or even in my room! Red-and-gold was at my back. I had just stepped through the tapestry into the corridor in front of the stone gargoyle. The especially ugly one that guards the entrance to Dumbledoreís office.
Professor Flitwick had placed his Unreachable Charms in and around the Headmasterís rooms. Had the Door been trying to bring me to Dumbledore?
What was I doing here, in my nightshirt? I did not remember summoning red-and-gold. Was I looking for the Headmaster? Why?
Sleepwalking was something that I had never done before. The thought that I had apparently just gone sleepwalking through my Door made me tremble.
What was wrong with me?
Sending red-and-gold away, I stumbled away from the stone gargoyle and wandered the Castle corridors aimlessly.
I found myself roaming through the echoing Great Hall. The enchanted starry night sky looked down on empty chairs and empty tables. After Iíd circled the staff table several times, my restless journey took me out into the entrance hall.
Worn out but too afraid to sleep, I headed down into the dungeons. The smooth voice haunted me. At the base of the staircase thereís a small shadowy area between the edge of the stairs and the wall. Creeping in there, I curled up in the darkness.
Rocking back and forth in misery, I didnít realize that anyone else was near until a quiet voice asked, "Mr. Filch? Whatís wrong? Are you hurt?"
Startled, I looked up to see the softly flickering light from the torches on the stair-well reflecting off a pair of round glasses.
Harry Potter stood on the stairs, looking down at me. Where had he come from? I had seen no one. I frowned up at him and shook my head.
"Iím fine," I whispered, shivering. "Go away, go to bed."
The boyís worried look deepened.
"Arenít you going to yell at me and give me detention?" Potter asked. Then he frowned, ruefully, looking as if he wanted to kick himself.
"You will not give him detention," the smooth voice had ordered.
"No. The matter is ended," I murmured.
Relief flickered across the boyís face, only to be replaced by concern. "Ginny, Neville and Callandra are worried about you, Mr. Filch. They think that youíre ill."
"Iím just tired..." I murmured.
"You should be asleep, then," Potter said. "In your room," he added, with a touch of wry irony. He came down the stairs and reached towards me, giving me a hand up. Too distracted to scold him for his impudence, I simply allowed him to help me stand.
"Potter!" a voice snarled. It was a smooth voice, though the tone was furious. Trembling, I shrank back into the shadows.
"What do you think youíre doing? Out of bed at this hour?"
"Professor Snape!" Potter said. The boy remained between me and the approaching (Dark?) wizard.
No... Severus wasnít a Dark wizard. I had him confused with someone else.
Snape was now beside Potter, looming over the boy.
"What have you done to Filch?" the Potions Master demanded, as he caught sight of me.
"Nothing!" Potter protested. "I was just..."
"He didnít do anything, Professor," I said, struggling to sound normal. "I was just telling him to go to bed."
"And giving him detention, I trust?" Severus sneered.
"That matter has already been dealt with," I said nomcommitally, to the boyís relief.
"Off with you, then, Potter," Severus said, coldly. "Ten points from Gryffindor," he added as a parting shot. He glowered at Harry until the boy had gone up the dungeon stairs, out of sight.
Then he turned back to me, his pale face angry. "Itís bad enough that Potter has the habit of wandering around after hours! If heís played some miserable prank on you, I hope that youíre not going to allow him to simply get away with it!"
"He was only helping me up," I said.
"What were you doing on the floor in the first place?" Severus snarled.
"Nothing, Professor... I-I..."
I couldnít tell him that truth; that Iíd been trying to hide from the voice in my head. Instead I blurted out the first reasonable explanation that came to mind. "I must have missed a step. I fell."
The look of concern on his face made me uncomfortable. I plowed onwards, sticking to the complete truth now. "Iím very tired. Iíve been having nightmares. I thought perhaps a walk would help."
Severusís face had darkened at the mention of nightmares. I suspected that he was no stranger to such things himself.
"Professor, can you make me a Dreamless Sleep Potion? Something a little stronger than the stuff that you brew for Poppy?" The desperation in my voice made him sigh.
"I have a potion already made thatís a little stronger," Severus said. "I can give you a single dose. No more than that. It may become addicting."
"Thank you," I murmured.
"Come," Severus said. "You can bring the potion back to your room."
Summoning green-and-silver, I went directly from Snapeís rooms to my own.
Mrs. Norris and her kittens were still curled up together on the bed. I envied them their peaceful slumber.
Taking a glass tumbler from a shelf, I carefully poured the potion that Severus had given me into it. Then I put the tumbler down on my bedside table. I rinsed out the empty glass vial in my small bathroom, drying it thoroughly with a washcloth.
Then I reached into my pocket. Feeling like a puppet with strings inexorably pulled by an unseen, unrelenting master, I took out my handkerchief. Slowly unfolding it, I regarded what was inside.
Moonlight shone on a few very long, very bright silvery strands of hair. They were Dumbledoreís. Iíd found them caught on his chair in the Great Hall. Unable to stop myself, moving like a man in a dream, I had picked them up and taken them with me.
The glass potion vial was a perfect place for the strands of silvery hair. I replaced the stopper, went to my wardrobe and slipped the vial into my coat pocket.
Then, numbly, I drank the potion.
I lay down along the edge of the bed where I would not disturb any of the cats. As Severus had promised, my sleep was without dreams. I lay unmoving until long after dawn.
Even the kittens did not wake me.
END OF CHAPTER ONE
Authorís Notes for the last chapter of "A Squibís Proper Place"
Kazza: Thank you for reviewing! I havenít yet written a story where Argus gets Sorted, I like it that heís not a member of any one House. (Though I agree with Snape that the Hat would place him in Hufflepuff if he was to be Sorted.)
Lilac: Thank you for reviewing! Harry and Ginny will get to interact a little bit more in this story than in the previous ones.
Durayan: Thank you for reviewing! Sirius would say that his pranking skills are growing ever more refined with age...
Murasaki99: Thank you for reviewing! Poor Filch. Messes are only considered good if someone else has to clean them up.
Julie: Thank you for reviewing! Iím delighted to know how much you like these stories! Yes, there are several more coming.
Kellibus: Thank you for reviewing! From Azothís point of view, heís the one who gets Snape. The little black kitten chose Severus.
Anjerla: Thank you for reviewing! I really liked the image of Padfoot covered with kittens too. I could see him being very patient and long-suffering about it. Severus doesnít realize it, but heís now among the cat-owned.