The Sugar Quill
Author: Ozma (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Squib Caretaker  Chapter: Chapter Two: The Potter Effect
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Squib Caretaker

Squib Caretaker

a Harry Potter fan-fic

by Ozma

a sequel to Squib Puppet

Chapter Two of Eight: The Potter Effect

Everything really belongs to J.K. Rowling

 

 

The students at Hogwarts Castle often mutter resentfully that I can move through the corridors as swiftly and stealthily as any of the ghosts can do. Overhearing these comments makes me feel quite smug. Nearly all the children lack the slightest idea of how I am able to accomplish

this.

Now, staring down at Harry Potter, I felt a twinge of sympathy for the poor bewildered

brats. For years Potter has been roaming the corridors at night, seemingly at will. I know this is

true, although I rarely see him during his nocturnal wanderings. How does he manage this?

I haven’t the slightest idea!

Potter was standing beside the stone gargoyle, saying the password in a frantic voice.

"It’s ‘ice mice’, isn’t it?" he asked when he saw me. "Dumbledore hasn’t changed it, has he? He usually lets me know, in case..."

"Professor Dumbledore," I corrected him automatically. Fear made my voice harsh. There was a time, even a few months earlier, when I would have pounced gleefully, yelling threats and

assigning Potter detention before sending him back to his dormitory with a flea in his ear.

These days, sadder and wiser, I did none of those things. It was obvious that Potter didn’t want the Headmaster for some frivolous reason. The boy’s green eyes were huge and haunted, his face was pale and frightened. And he was rubbing his forehead as if his scar was hurting him.

I knew what that meant although I really, truly wished I didn’t. My heart turned to ice and dropped into my boots. Most of my evening had been spent in Minerva’s delightful company but even the pleasant feelings that lingered weren’t enough to stop the shudder that ran down my spine.

"You have the correct password," I said, croakily, my throat dry as dust. "Perhaps the door isn’t opening because the Headmaster isn’t in his rooms. He’s somewhere in the Castle or on the grounds..." I added hastily as Potter looked stricken. "He didn’t say anything about leaving

tonight."

"You can bring me to him," Potter said, urgently. "Please!"

He couldn’t mean what I thought he meant, could he...?

"Much faster than I can find him on my own," the boy continued.

Yes, he could. I swallowed hard.

"Please!" Potter repeated.

Mrs. Norris, who had been looking from one of us to the other, backed up this request with a plaintive mew. She’s warmed up to Potter considerably during this past year. (Since Potter was the one who figured out that I’d been Cursed weeks ago, helping to save my life and prevent the damage I’d nearly been forced to cause, she’s become downright fond of him.)

I shook my head silently.

"Voldemort," Potter said very deliberately, "has just murdered a man. I saw it happen. The Headmaster has to know."

Chilled and horrified, I forced myself to speak. My voice trembled. "No. I-I’m sorry, boy. You see things as they happen, not before they happen. This poor man is already dead, beyond your help and the Headmaster’s. There’s nothing that can be done for him now. Nothing to be gained by making yourself sick."

Potter was quite agitated, impatient with both himself and with me. "The man who died was being kept a prisoner, and he wasn’t the only one locked up! The room was dark and it was hard to see, but I think there were at least two other people chained up with him!

"The others still have a chance," Harry continued, desperately. "Maybe the Headmaster can find them while they’re still alive, before Voldemort..."

I shuddered again, not just at the sound of the unspeakable name. I knew what it meant to be held prisoner, chained helpless in the dark. It was a feeling that I’d never forget.

Potter looked even worse than I felt. I didn’t want to think about the terrible things he’d already seen in his short life, or the toll that these nightmare visions take on him.

"All right," I whispered harshly, summoning red-and-gold. "This won’t be pleasant for you. I’m sorry."

"Don’t worry. I’ll manage." The boy’s voice was wry.

Minerva’s right, I thought. I should keep little paper sacks handy. Putting my arm across the boy’s shoulders, I held on to him tightly. "Take us to the Headmaster, please. Wherever he is," I said as we stepped into Godric’s Door together.

*******

Alastor Moody has come up with some general rules and predictions concerning the Doors, based on our experiences with their protective spells.

1. A Squib hasn’t got enough magic to use a wand or cast a spell. The

Doors’ protective wards don’t recognize Squibs as a threat. Going

through a Door will not affect a Squib at all. (Moody calls this "the

Filch Effect.")

2. Animagi who go through a Door in animal form will emerge human and

unconscious. (Moody refers to this as "the Black Effect.")

3. Wizard children who are brought through a Door will be sick for a

short time. ("The Longbottom-Weasley Effect".)

4. Adult Wizards will be sick for a longer time. ("The Moody Effect.")

5. Anyone bearing a Dark Mark would be wise to put their affairs in

order first. ("The Snape Effect.")

Severus, who has not heard Moody’s thoughts on the Doors and who would utterly fail to be amused if he did, has often complained that Potter is an arrogant brat who thinks that rules apply to everyone except him.

Well, I doubt that arrogance is the answer, (Potter isn’t arrogant, no matter what Severus chooses to believe) but I have no explanation for what happened when I brought the boy through Godric’s Door. Or rather, for what didn’t happen.

We encountered some resistance, but it was hardly worth mentioning. Taking the boy through the red and gold place was like wading through water that was perhaps only ankle deep.

Potter did gasp audibly while we were inside the Door. When we emerged he was breathing hard and clutching his forehead with both hands. His face was dreadfully pale, even worse than before, but he did not get sick. Not even a little bit. When I asked him if he was all right, he nodded at me, distractedly.

"Number Six: ‘The Potter Effect’," I thought. "Another item for my imaginary file drawer labeled "How in Merlin’s Name Does He Do That?"

I wondered what Moody would make of this when I told him. The old Auror enjoyed puzzles.

Red-and-gold had brought us out to the lake shore. There are several small wooden docks located at various points around the lake. This one was on the side closest to the Castle, built off of a rock that slanted down to the water’s edge.

At the end of the dock a figure was sitting, long silver hair and beard pale in the starlight. His slippers were on the dock beside him and his robes were pulled to his knees so he could paddle his feet in the water.

Thanking me, the boy stepped onto the dock, moving quickly towards the Headmaster.

*******

Not wanting to stay, yet unwilling to leave, I listened to Harry’s account of the horror he’d seen. Mrs. Norris had come through the tapestry with Harry and me. I held her tightly, taking what comfort I could.

Somewhere the Dark Lord was keeping prisoners. Potter thought he had seen three chained figures. He’d watched one of them die, slain by the Dark Lord, with the Killing Curse.

Strangely, though the Evil One had been furious, his anger had not seemed to be directed at the man he’d killed.

"He said ‘this one is useless to me now’!" Potter said, voice shaking. "The man he killed had been screaming. He screamed right until the moment he died..."

The boy was sitting, cross-legged, on the dock beside the Headmaster. Dumbledore had asked him to sit, for fear that Harry’s pacing would land all of us in the water.

"It was as if Voldemort was putting the poor man out of his misery... he seemed to think that he was being merciful!" Potter cried, sounding angry, frightened and heartsick.

"Did you recognize any of the people that you saw, aside from Voldemort?" Dumbledore asked. "Or did you notice any clues that might lead us to where these two survivors are being kept?"

Miserably, Harry shook his head. "I thought, maybe, you could use some sort of spell to help me remember more, something useful! Or..." the boy’s voice shook, growing husky with fear, "maybe you could get some potion from Snape to make me remember things."

Dumbledore’s voice was gentle. "We won’t need to resort to drastic measures, Harry. Sit here with me quietly and try to think about what you saw. You may yet remember something that will help those people."

I spoke without meaning to. "It’s all happening again... deaths, disappearances..."

"Yes," Dumbledore said, heavily. "There have been disappearances, and those who have gone missing are being sought. We are doing what we can." The words were heavy with grief. Even in the dim light the Headmaster’s face looked weary. He didn’t say if this was the first such vision that the boy had recently, and I couldn’t bear to ask.

Together, Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter were the best hope that the wizarding world had of surviving the Evil One’s second rising. Seeing them as a frightened boy and a grieving old man scared me. I knew that I was being unfair and selfish, but I couldn’t help it.

"Argus," Dumbledore said quietly, meeting my stricken eyes, "Harry will be all right here with me. Thank you for bringing him to me so quickly."

It was a clear dismissal. I was relieved more than anything else. Still cradling Mrs. Norris, I turned and stepped back into red-and-gold, which had waited.

Godric’s Door brought me to my room. The tapestry’s odd behavior after we reached our destination made Mrs. Norris and me stare. The tapestry flitted from wall to wall, as if it was dancing with happiness.

"Enjoyed your busy night, did you?" I asked it as I sat on my bed and began pulling off my boots.

In answer the Door flitted off the wall and reappeared in mid-air. It brushed against me affectionately, the way that Mrs. Norris will sometimes do when I surprise her with some catnip, before it reappeared on the wall.

"Silly thing," I murmured, tired and distressed. "What’s got into you?"

END OF CHAPTER TWO

 

Author’s Notes:

Jestana: Thank you for reviewing! Blue and bronze? Oops, I guess copper does have more of a reddish-goldish tint to it. (One of my sons has a Ravenclaw banner over his bed and I identified the color wrong.) Thanks for the catch!

There’s a kiss coming up later in this story. Red-and-gold got to meet Harry in this chapter. (Godric’s Door was delighted to meet the Heir of Gryffindor. Filch doesn’t realize that Harry is a special case. The Heirs are not affected by their own Founder’s protective spells, but Filch doesn’t know that.)

Mr. Roberts III: Thank you for reviewing! There was a bit of torture and death in this chapter, but it happened offstage.

B. Nonymous: Thank you for reviewing! Yes, I think that Rowling’s definition of a Squib is a non-magical person born to two magical parents. After thinking about this for a while, I started wondering. In an all-magical family a Squib would stick out like a sore thumb. But, maybe there are Muggle-born Squibs who have no idea what they are. (I’m not sure if my ideas on this subject agree with Rowling’s or not, but my personal view of Squibs is that they are ‘handicapped’ wizards. And, theoretically, a Muggle couple can just as easily have a ‘handicapped’ magical child as a healthy one. So, yes, I think that there are Squibs living in the Muggle world in total ignorance of the magical one.)

Ara Kane: Thank you for reviewing! Argus and Minerva have a few more moments in this story. I’m delighted that you’re enjoying their relationship!

The Good Doctor Monaco: Thank you for reviewing! Ooooh! Please write Filch stories!!! The reason that I started writing them was because I couldn’t find any Filch-fics and I wanted to read some!!!

Acire: Thank you for reviewing! You were the first reviewer, and I found out about the release date announcement for Order of the Phoenix when I read your review! (The news made me shriek with joy and jump all around the room, thoroughly alarming my cat.) Thanks again!!!

 

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