The Sugar Quill
Author: Ozma (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Squib Apprentice  Chapter: Chapter Two: Hagrid
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Squib Apprentice

Squib Apprentice

a Harry Potter fan-fic

by Ozma

a story about Filch’s early days at Hogwarts

Chapter Two: Hagrid

Everything really belongs to J.K. Rowling

 

 

 

"Don’t try to shift all the cursed snow at once, Filch!" Pringle snapped. "You’ll be of no use to me with a broken back."

The old caretaker moved briskly as he flung a small shovel-full of snow off to the side of the path that we were digging. "Pace yourself, boy. This stuff’s the worst sort of snow, dense and wet. Lift only a bit at a time."

The sun hadn’t yet risen, but the Castle grounds seemed lit by a pale, ghostly light. It was the beginning of December, and nearly two feet of snow had fallen during the night.

The professors and the students were presumably still asleep in their beds. But the groundskeeper Ogg and his apprentice Hagrid, along with a contingent of house-elves, Mr. Pringle and I were all hard at work, digging out paths to the greenhouses and to the groundskeeper’s cottage. The students would not have to tramp through two feet of snow to reach their morning classes.

The old man was right, it was easier for me to lift less snow at a time. But then I felt more conscious than ever of being the slowest worker.

Mr. Pringle was using a small levitation spell to lighten the weight of his shovel. The fifteen house-elves who’d been recruited from the kitchens were working in a warm swirl of magic that made my nose itch. Their bright little shovels moved rapidly and tirelessly. Ogg, a short, burly wizard, had put a Heating Charm on his shovel.

Hagrid wasn’t using any magic, but he didn’t really need to, I thought enviously. The boy worked as rapidly as the house-elves, with no sign of growing tired.

When I’d first seen Hagrid at a distance, I had assumed that he was a grown wizard. It was only when I saw him close up that I realized how young he was. Surely, he couldn’t be any older than fourteen or fifteen. I’d wondered why he wasn’t at school with everyone else his age. He certainly wasn’t a Squib. The magic in him was obvious.

When I’d dared to ask Mr. Pringle about Hagrid, the caretaker hadn’t said very much.

"He’s a bad one, that boy," Mr. Pringle had muttered darkly. "Don’t associate with him, Filch. Not any more than you can avoid."

This was easier said than done. Hagrid and I often took our meals in the Castle’s kitchens at the same time. The huge boy was friendly and talkative. Thus far, he’d been undiscouraged by my monosyllabic answers to his attempts at conversation.

*******

Sweating underneath my layers of clothing, I gasped for breath as I tried to keep up with the others. I barely had enough energy to take offense at the sympathetic look I saw on Hagrid’s childishly-rounded face.

I scowled. I didn’t want anyone’s pity! Maybe I wasn’t huge and strong. Maybe I couldn’t do any magic, but I wasn’t useless...

Suddenly, my shovel seemed to weigh less. Wide-eyed, I turned to look at Mr. Pringle, who had his wand clutched in one gloved hand.

"Thank you, sir..." I panted.

To be honest, I was more worried than grateful. Slowly, as my weeks at Hogwarts became months, I was learning that the caretaker was not a very powerful wizard. He was adept at using what magic he had, but the flow of his powers tended to fluctuate widely. At the moment, keeping the Levitation spells on both our shovels was quite a strain for him. I could feel it.

Mr. Pringle was always saying that he wasn’t a well man, and that looking after me would be the death of him. Gradually, I’d realized that it was just something he liked to say. Poor old man. I didn’t want it to be true.

But the stern look on Ogg’s craggy face kept me from refusing Mr. Pringle’s help. The groundskeeper was perhaps the caretaker’s only friend. Ogg knew Mr. Pringle’s touchy pride, even better than I did.

*******

The last path that we completed was the one that led out to the groundskeeper’s cottage at the edge of the Forest. When we’d finally finished, the house-elves (clad in warm, fluffy Hogwarts bath towels, which fit them like winter cloaks,) vanished almost instantly. The whip-crack sound of their en masse departure sounded very loud in the crisp dawn air.

Mr. Pringle and I leaned on our shovels. Both of us sighed. Hagrid was still bright-eyed and energetic. Ogg was studying Pringle with understated concern.

"Care to come in for a wee drop?" the burly man asked the old caretaker in his gravelly voice. "We can have the lads put the shovels away, eh?"

Pringle allowed himself to be persuaded.

*******

Carrying Pringle’s shovel and my own, I stumbled after Hagrid as the huge boy strode easily along the path that we’d dug away from the tool shed. My arms, shoulders and back were aching.

"Alrigh’ there, Filch?" Hagrid asked, cheerfully.

"Fine!" I gasped. "Never better. It’s a pity that we were finished so soon. I was just getting started. Could have gone on shoveling for ages longer..."

"Glad ter hear it," Hagrid said. The hint of mischief in his voice really should have warned me. But the snowball he flung at me came as a complete surprise.

"Stop that!" I snapped, brushing snow off my coat.

Hagrid’s reply was to fling another snowball at me. The boy wasn’t throwing as hard as he obviously could. It was a clear invitation to play.

Foolishness, I thought, irritably. We had a busy day ahead and neither one of us had breakfasted yet. I didn’t know about him, but I was cold, wet and weary. I really didn’t have time for this childish nonsense.

Then his next missile smacked me in the face! I suddenly discovered new reserves of energy. Dropping the shovels, I leaned down and quickly gathered a handful of snow. The battle was joined.

Yelling like a pair of first year brats, we alternately chased and pelted each other with snowballs. It had been ages since I’d played like this. I’d forgotten how much fun it was.

"Yeh missed me!" Hagrid shouted, gleefully, as one of my snowballs sailed over his head. "How could yeh miss? Aren’t I a big enough target...ooof!"

My next throw had scored a direct hit.

Whooping, Hagrid picked me up and rubbed snow in my hair. Since he’d been kind enough to give me a lift, I was able to retaliate by shoving a handful of snow down his back. Shrieking, he released me.

We’d scrambled off the path, chasing each other along the edge of the Forest. Hagrid could move more easily through the deep drifts than I could, but I was still able to hit him plenty of times. The boy was right, he was a big target.

Stumbling backwards to dodge an attack, I tripped over something behind me and went sprawling on my back into the snow.

The ‘something’ that I’d fallen over was growling. I heard Hagrid bellow "NO, BOB!"

A creature that looked like a large, long-legged dog was leaping at me. Stumbling through the snow, Hagrid grabbed the beast before it could bite.

"Easy, Bob... it’s alrigh’... yeh saw us having fun an’ yeh jus’ wanted ter play with us, didn’ yeh?" He set the creature down, still holding it tightly.

"H-Hagrid...?" I said in a very tiny voice, staring at the beast’s sharp teeth before gazing into its intelligent yellow eyes. "That’s not really a wolf... is it?"

"‘Course not!" the boy said.

Thank you, Merlin! I thought.

"Bob here is a werewolf!" Hagrid told me, brightly.

*******

"Filch...? I took Bob back ter the Forest. It’s alrigh’. Now, say something, will yeh?"

Hagrid had collected the shovels and locked them in the tool shed. All the while, I hadn’t moved from my place in the snow.

"Talk ter me, Filch!" Hagrid said, crouching next to me.

"How...?" I whimpered. "How could that have been a werewolf? There’s no moon at all, let alone a full moon..."

"Bob’s not a human who got scratched or bitten. He’s one o’the four-legged werewolves. I’ve known him since he was cub. Playful, he is. Friendly too, at least if yeh don’t go tripping over him."

"Are you telling me that you PLAY with that... thing? One bite, or the tiniest little scratch, and y-you’d...!"

"Bob’s never bitten or scratched me," the boy said, earnestly. "An’ I know enough ter stay away from him during a full moon."

"Hagrid," I cried, my voice rising. "You go into the Forbidden Forest to play with werewolves?! Don’t you know how dangerous that is? You’re not even allowed in the Forest! Mr. Pringle..."

"The Forest is off-limits ter the students. I’m staff." The boy sounded as if that made everything all right. "Pringle don’ like it much, but he can’t punish me now."

"You’re howling MAD!!" I wailed. "Surely your Mum and Dad must’ve told you never to play with werewolves!!"

"As a matter o’ fact, they didn’," Hagrid answered, a bit sharply. "Are yeh alrigh’ now, Filch? Are yeh coming in ter breakfast?"

"NO!"

"Suit yerself, then. But, if yeh ask me, I’m not the one who’s howling mad! Wasn’t me who spent the past ten minutes jus’ sitting in the snow, was it?"

After the huge boy had stumped off along the path to the Castle, I finally picked myself up.

Trembling, I stumbled along the path to the groundskeeper’s cottage.

I didn’t want to tell on Hagrid. Nevertheless, someone had to, for his own good.

*******

Groundskeeper Ogg let me in when I banged on his door. Two big mugs were resting on his scrubbed wooden table. But Ogg was alone.

"Apollyon’s gone back to the Castle," Ogg said, in his gruff way.

"S-So has H-Hagrid." My teeth were chattering. Being in the cottage, which had a warm, cheerful fire going, made me realize how terribly cold I was.

Ogg helped me tug off my wet coat. He put it to dry over the back of a chair near the fireplace. Stepping around Ogg’s two huge dogs, Belle and Towser, I stood close to the fire, shivering. The hut was warm and tidy, everything in its place. Ogg’s bed was neatly made up, as was Hagrid’s huge cot.

"Is something wrong, lad?" Ogg asked.

******

The groundskeeper had rinsed out a mug for me. Sipping at something that burned its way down my throat, I told him about Hagrid and Bob-the-werewolf.

"Well?" I asked. "Mr. Ogg, what are you going to do to him? He could be torn to pieces wandering around in the Forest like he does! He really ought to be punished! Mr. Pringle would...!"

"Poor Apollyon," Ogg said. "He’s just as glad that trying to keep Hagrid out of the Forest isn’t his headache any longer. I’ll have a word with Hagrid myself. Tell him to make sure that his ...friends don’t follow him onto the Castle grounds, ever, even in the wee hours of the morning."

"That’s ALL you’re going to do?" I cried, appalled. I’d already suspected that Ogg was much too soft-hearted to punish his apprentice. "Talk to him? It doesn’t matter if he’s staff or not, Hagrid’s only a boy!"

Ogg looked as if he thought that the difference between Hagrid’s age and mine was negligible. This made me feel indignant.

"You could at least write to his parents!" I said.

"I can’t, lad. They’re ...gone. Professor Dumbledore, the Transfiguration Master, is the closest thing that Hagrid has to a guardian. I’ll speak to him."

I felt a flutter of fear in my stomach. Oh, no! I’d got Hagrid in trouble with a Professor! The Professors scared me even more than Mr. Pringle did.

Well, it was no more than Hagrid deserved, I told myself. Served him right, really. Someone certainly ought to take that boy firmly in hand. I had no reason to feel guilty about this. None whatsoever.

"Mr. Ogg?" I asked, apprehensively, as my conscience gave me a twinge anyhow. "The Transfiguration Master... he won’t have Hagrid d-dismissed, will he? His parents are dead, he’ll have nowhere to go!"

"Don’t fret, laddie," Ogg comforted me, gruffly. "There’s some here that’d want to see Hagrid sent away, but Professor Dumbledore isn’t one of them."

*******

Hagrid was pale and red-eyed the next morning at breakfast. He poked aimlessly at his porridge without eating it.

Presumably, Ogg had spoken to the Transfiguration Master and then the Professor had punished Hagrid. The poor boy looked as if he’d spent the entire night weeping his heart out. He was still sniffling. What had the Transfiguration Master done to him?

Hoping that I would never give Professor Dumbledore any reason to be so angry with me, I discovered that I didn’t have much of an appetite for breakfast either.

"It was for your own good," I told Hagrid, as firmly and virtuously as I could.

Listening to his desolate sniffling wasn’t easy for me, even though I knew he’d only got what he deserved. "Werewolves should stay in the Forest. And you should stay OUT of it," I went on.

"Professor Dumbledore already tol’ me everything that needed ter be said," Hagrid muttered, without looking at me. "The Professor is a great man, Filch, but yer a GIT. I’ve got nothing ter say ter yeh."

"Fine!" I snapped. "You’re an OAF. I’ve got nothing to say to you either."

With a show of unconcern, I ate my breakfast, even though I wasn’t hungry. Then I stormed out of the kitchen.

 

 

END OF CHAPTER TWO

 

 

 

Author’s Notes:

 

Four-legged werewolves: Rowling mentions werewolves living in the Forest several times, and Tom Riddle described Hagrid as "trying to raise werewolf cubs under his bed." To me, this suggested the existence of four-legged creatures in addition to the type of werewolf that Remus Lupin is. (Young Remus was clearly a boy, not a cub.) Presumably humans can become infected by Lycanthropy when bitten or scratched by either sort of werewolf.

Notes for the last chapter of "Squib Caretaker"

Kazza: Thank you for reviewing, and for saying what you liked! Yaaaay! Another B5 fan! Babylon 5 is one of my favorite shows. I’ve always liked that quote. (There was another B5 reference in that chapter... in the very last line, when Filch says that he "slept, for a while, in the light.")

PBS Jones: Thank you for reviewing! Here’s the next story. (Though this one is a flashback, rather than a continuation.)

Yes, Filch wouldn’t acknowledge, even to himself, that he had any sort of feelings for Professor McGonagall because he didn’t think that he was good enough for her. If Minerva hadn’t made the first move then he’d still be worshipping her wistfully from afar.

Durayan’s "Diabolical" illustration of Severus and Azoth is GREAT!!!

Thank you for mentioning stuff that you especially liked!

B. Nonymous: Thank you for reviewing, and congratulations on the twins’ arrival!! Voldie’s former identity was a secret, but now there are more people who know. I’ve decided to include Filch among their number. He could have found out from either Moody or Dumbledore.

Aurianna Parker: Thank you for reviewing! It was a lot of fun to think about the sorts of Secret Chambers that the other Founders would have had.

 

Notes for the first chapter of "Squib Apprentice"

Mr. RobertsIII: Thank you for reviewing! "Fair in his own way" is how Pringle views himself.

I have a theory about Filch and Peeves. If the poltergeist does feed off untapped psychic energy, then maybe Filch’s untapped, unreachable powers make him especially ‘delicious’ to Peeves. It’s a possible explanation for why the little pest takes particular delight in tormenting the caretaker.

Yes, I think that Dumbledore has enough power to create a secret room if he so desired.

Sabre: Thank you for reviewing! I’m glad that you like Browly, I like her too. The idea of bathrooms just for house-elves, with little bathtubs and little toilets, is delightful!

Maybe if Peeves is nice (hah!) the elves will let him take a bath there...

Others may see Pringle as irrationally nasty, but he doesn’t see himself that way. However, he does enjoy having a nasty and fearsome reputation among the students.

Grindelwald is still active and undefeated in this story’s timeline.

Lilac: Thank you for reviewing! ‘Ella’s Enchanted Everkleen’ came from the wonderful imaginations of Rabbit-and-Jinx. I borrowed it, with their permission. Yes, a charwoman is a cleaning woman.

Hoooraaaay!!! Another person who can relate to Filch!!!

Argus eventually became fond of Pringle. He learned to work hard enough to satisfy the old man’s high standards, he endured severe punishments, and eventually he earned Pringle’s respect. All these things were a source of pride for Filch. If anyone speaks ill of the old caretaker in his presence he will defend Pringle.

(I’ve seen this attitude in my father and uncles. By today’s standards, they grew up in an abusive home. I grew up hearing them happily trading ‘war stories’ about how often they were beaten. They would laugh about things that completely horrified me. But they wouldn’t let anyone say bad things about my grandparents.)

I agree that Peeves is a stinker. It made sense to me that he and Filch were at odds right from the the beginning.

Murasaki99: Thank you for reviewing! I’d imagine that Pringle came from a background where he was ‘taught’ by being beaten.

Yes, Filch is strong, willing and could have found work in the Muggle world. It’s a choice that a number of Squibs must make. But the idea frightened Filch. ("It would have meant leaving everything and everyone that I ever knew. It would have meant admitting to myself that I’d never be able to use magic like a normal person," he told Ginny and Neville, in "Squib Doors.")

This story would take place sometime in the thirties. Corporeal punishment is still a reality in a lot of places nowadays and was probably more prevalent then, at least in the Muggle world. In GoF Molly Weasley mentioned to Bill and Harry that Arthur had once been punished by Pringle "and still has the marks." This line leads me to believe that coporeal punishment was allowed at Hogwarts during Pringle’s tenure as caretaker. Like you, I cannot see Dumbledore approving of this sort of thing. Banning corporeal punishment was probably one of his first acts as Headmaster.

Eeeeek!!!! What’s going to happen in your next chapter????

Jestana: Thank you for reviewing! I feel a bit sorry for Pringle too. He’s more than a little offended by the notion that anyone thinks a Squib can be taught to do HIS job. Of course Pringle (who is not a powerful wizard) would have been much more intimidated by, and therefore much nastier to, any apprentice who had magic stronger than his own. This is why he’s been waiting so long for an apprentice. He tends to go through the candidates rather quickly.

I’m very glad that you’ve decided to write Filch! He doesn’t appear in nearly enough stories!

Portia: Thank you for reviewing! See my comments on coporeal punishment at Hogwarts to Murasaki99, above. I agree that Dumbledore would have put an end to corporeal punishment when he became Headmaster.

Shellebelle: Thank you for reviewing! I hope you enjoy the rest of the story too.

The Good Doctor Monaco and Whiskers: Oops... sorry about the barf-on-the-floor. Yes, Browly appeared in the epilogue of "Squib Puppet." She’s the elf who bullied Filch into taking a walk.

Hagrid appeared in this chapter. Next chapter we get glimpses of Minerva and Tom Riddle.

Ara Kane: Thank you for reviewing! I also see young Filch as gangly. He would be surprised and embarrassed to be called "cute," (but I think he is, too.) Minerva will put in an appearance next chapter.

Pringle was definitely Filch’s role model. The Everkleen was borrowed from Rabbit and Jinx. That stuff is great!

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