The Sugar Quill
Author: Ozma (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Squib Apprentice  Chapter: Chapter Three: A Riddle in the Dark
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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 Three: A Riddle In The Dark

(Apologies to JRR Tolkien)

Everything in this story belongs to J.K. Rowling

Except for Madam Valerian,

who has Alchemine’s permission to come over and play

 

 

 

"Hagrid, you OAF!" I said indignantly, from the kitchen floor. "Why’d you do that for?"

"It was jus’ a little nudge, yeh git. Didn’ mean ter knock yeh clean off yer chair. I jus’ wanted ter wake yeh. Yeh were fallin’ asleep with yer head in yer breakfast. Again."

"No, I wasn’t!" I retorted, grumpily. "I was only resting my eyes." Picking myself up, I got back in my chair, trying to stay awake enough to eat my porridge.

"Restin’ yer eyes. Tell me another," Hagrid snorted.

I was too busy yawning to reply.

Today was a Delivery day. Hagrid and I had to be up at dawn with the house-elves. Helping the little creatures put away the Castle’s kitchen supplies was one of our regular jobs.

"Filch," the huge boy said, his tone a bit uncomfortable now. "Yeh really look terrible. Yeh’re not sleepin’ much, are yeh?"

"None of your business," I mumbled around a mouthful of porridge.

"S’not good fer yeh, stayin’ up an’ working most a’ the night. Doesn’t Old Pringle..."

"That’s ‘Mr.’ Pringle to you!"

Hagrid scowled. "Mr. Pringle then. Doesn’t he want yeh in yer bed at night?"

"That’s where he wants the students to be," I snapped. "I’m staff!"

For a moment, Hagrid looked as if he wanted to knock me off my chair again. Intentionally this time. Then his expression gradually changed to one of sympathy. "Filch," he said, his young voice gruff, "it’s been over a week since it happened. They’ve forgotten all about it by now. The students, I mean. Yeh don’ have ter keep doing most a’ yer work at night, just ter avoid seeing ‘em. It wasn’t all the students who laughed at yeh, anyhow. It was jus’ a few."

I stared into my bowl, feeling the blood rush to my face. "It was nine days ago," I muttered. "And the story’s all over the Castle and no-one’s forgotten. You certainly haven’t."

The quiver in my voice shamed me. I wanted to be angry but even after nine days, humiliation was all I could feel.

*******

I’d been sweeping the floor along the Charms corridor. Students had been hurrying by, or lining up for their classes. I’d been doing my work and minding my own business. There had been a sudden surge of magic. A young voice had spoken a spell.

"Tarantallegra!"

The spell had been aimed at me, but I hadn’t realized it. Not until it was too late. My legs had begun moving of their own accord. I was suddenly dancing down the corridor, twirling my broom on my arm as if it was a pretty witch-lass. There had no way for me to break the spell, no way to defend myself. I was helpless, a jigging ape, clowning for the students’ amusement.

There’d been a roar of noise all around me. Shrieks of laughter. A confused impression of grinning faces and black robes. I had wanted to strike out at the laughing faces but, to my shame, all I could do was dance and dance and dance.

There was another rush of magic.

"Finite Incantem!"

More confused impressions. My rescuer. A tall girl with long black hair, tied back with a tartan ribbon. She had the face of an angel. I saw pity in her grey eyes when she looked at me. When she released me from the spell that had forced me to dance, I fled, awkwardly stumbling over my own feet in my haste to get away.

My dustpan, my broom, my work were abandoned. The laughing students and my rescuer were left behind.

But my shame stayed with me. I carried it still.

*******

Pringle found me in one of the broom cupboards. (Later, I wondered if he’d searched every broom cupboard in the Castle for me.) I was putting away supplies. My work in the Charms corridor had been left undone. I thought that he was going to beat me. For the first time I felt no fear at the prospect. I was too numb to feel anything.

The caretaker didn’t beat me. He didn’t scold me, though my work was slow and clumsy. Pringle simply picked up the things that I’d dropped. He helped me turn the bottles and jars around so that their labels faced outwards. Together we arranged the shelves neatly, everything in its proper place.

When we’d finished with the supplies, Pringle helped me to break up the crates that were too battered to be used again. They’d be burned later, on the rubbish-heap.

Later, when I asked him if I could be allowed to sweep and dust the corridors at night after all of the students were in bed, he told me, somewhat gruffly, that I could.

*******

"Filch," Hagrid sighed. "Yeh know there’s things worse than bein’ laughed at."

"Yes, I suppose there are," I mumbled, staring into my porridge bowl. It was still mostly full. I was very tired and not especially hungry.

"What happened ter yeh... well, it’s the sort o’ thing that we... I-I m-mean the students, do ter each other all the time. Fer a joke," Hagrid said, earnestly. "Sometimes, even the ones who’ve had the spell put on ‘em... they laugh too."

Lifting my head, I gave him a look filled with misery.

"Surely, yeh must’ve been laughed at before..."

"Of course I have. It doesn’t get any easier with practice."

"Look, Filch, yeh’ve got ter show yer face again sometime," Hagrid said. "Yeh can’t go on like this. Barely sleeping and doing yer work at night when no-one can see yeh! Yeh’ve still got work ter do in the morning, and yeh have ter be awake ter do it!"

"The house-elves manage to work both day and night easily enough," I yawned.

"Yer not a house-elf! They don’ need ter sleep as much."

I wanted to tell the young oaf to mind his own business. But I was too busy putting my head down on the table.

*******

I must have dozed off. Hagrid and the elves had let me sleep. I woke to the sounds of squeaky elf-voices, and many heavy boxes and bundles being moved.

"Lally! You is not ordering cinnamon AGAIN! Where is we going to put all these new bags? We is having no more room!"

"If silly-headed Gillyflower is bothering to look at this weeks’ menu she will plainly see cinnamon rolls on Wednesday, and cinnamon cake on Sunday morning!"

"Here is pickles. We is not needing any more pickles! Where is the onions? Why is they not ever bringing our onions?"

"Where is tea leaves? Hurry, we is needing them right away for Professors’ breakfast..."

"Someone is needing to fetch the cheeses..."

Sitting up, I rubbed my eyes, then I rose and staggered into the noisy kitchen to help.

*******

The house elves were busy with breakfast preparations. The Castle’s kitchen was filled with noise and bustle. But the big storeroom beneath the kitchen was dim, peaceful and quiet.

Now that everything had been put away I’d given in to the temptation to rest my eyes again, just for a few moments. A sack of dried beans made a comfortable pillow. I was half-dozing, when I heard Hagrid’s voice nearby.

"Yeh alrigh’ there, Mosag? I brought yeh some cheese, an’ a piece of chicken..."

A voice answered Hagrid. A strange, clicking voice. I couldn’t understand what it said. But the huge boy seemed to understand well enough, because he answered in a comforting tone.

"I’m sure Aragog is jus’ fine. Safe an’ snug in his hollow. The snow’s still too deep yet fer me ter take yeh ter him. In a day or two, maybe. He’ll be so glad ter see yeh. He’s bin lonely..."

The strange clicking voice said something else. It seemed a bit worried.

"Well, o’course he’ll like yeh. Yer jus’ like him, ‘cept yer prettier! Now, yeh’ve got ter get yerself back ter the cupboard. Nobody’ll hear us over poor old Filch’s snoring, but it’s better ter be safe than sorry..."

"Hagrid?" I called, woozily. "Who in Merlin’s name are you talking to?"

Silence.

"Hagrid...?" Groggily, I lifted my head off the sack of beans.

Hagrid stumbled into view, dark eyes wide and startled. "I wasn’t talking ter no-one."

"Yes, you were. I heard you."

"Yeh were dreaming, Filch," the boy said, gruffly. "Who could I be talking ter? No one’s down here but us."

*******

 

"Hagrid’s right," I thought. "I can’t go on like this."

It was now the middle of the afternoon. I was resting on the floor in front of the kitchen fireplace. I couldn’t remember walking over to the hearth. The last thing I remembered clearly was coming into the kitchen and sitting down for lunch.

Around me, house-elves murmured in concern.

"Poor boy. He is needing to rest."

"If Apollyon Pringle is finding Argus Filch sleeping, then boy will be punished!"

"Argus Filch must be hidden!"

There was a rustle of movement. I felt many small hands busily piling things on top of me. Was that a blanket? No, more likely it was a tablecloth. The tablecloth was swiftly followed by a heap of warm, soft dish towels. When I was completely covered up, a small hand gave my concealed head a gentle pat.

*******

Sleeping in front of the fire, I dreamed.

The Castle corridor was empty, except for the tall black-haired girl and me. She looked at me and smiled. I held out my hand to her and she took it. Her smile was the only magic I needed to make me want to dance.

A foolish dream but a very sweet one, nonetheless.

Abruptly, I was awakened by new voices in the kitchen. They were too deep to belong to house-elves. Wizards...

I could feel them as well as hear them. Their magic overwhelmed me, bone-weary as I was. The elder of the two was very old indeed. Age, time and many cares had dimmed his strength. Now his power was like a great bed of smouldering embers.

In contrast, the other wizard’s magic was a white-hot, roaring furnace.

House elves greeted the pair in squeaky voices. "Good afternoon, Headmaster Dippet, sir! Master was not at lunch! He is wanting tea?"

"Hello, Professor Dumbledore! Sir is missing lunch too! Is sir hungry? Is sir wanting some hot chocolate?"

Merlin’s Teeth... the Headmaster himself! And the formidable Transfiguration Professor who had reduced poor Hagrid to tears! From the sound of things, they were seated at the table where Hagrid and I usually took our meals.

I heard the house-elves fetching them tea, hot chocolate and something to eat. Then the little creatures went about their business, washing up from the students’ lunch. The Professors were left alone to talk. If I’d had even the smallest amount of magical talent I would have used it then, to avoid eavesdropping. Spying on the private conversations of my betters... well, I knew Mr. Pringle would never approve. If the old caretaker ever found out about this, he would have the skin off my back.

The Professors scared me even more than Mr. Pringle. If they discovered me, I might find myself wishing for the caretaker’s relative mercy. I tried to keep very still under my nest of tablecloth-and-dishtowels.

Headmaster Dippet had just mentioned Hagrid’s name.

"...behaving himself," the old wizard said. "No more trouble since that last incident? What was it ... a werewolf? Albus, I do understand that, in spite of everything, he means no harm. But the safety of the students must always be our first concern."

"I agree, Headmaster. Hagrid feels the same as we do. Young as he is, he would willingly place himself in harm’s way to protect any of the students, or any of the staff. When I explained the danger to all concerned, Hagrid was considerably chastened."

Dippet sighed. "Albus," he said in a quavering voice, "I am troubled by the notion that the boy needed an explanation in order to understand that a werewolf is dangerous."

"Hagrid is so much at home in the Forest," Dumbledore said, quietly. "Realizing that the same is not true of everyone is difficult for him. His affinity for the wild creatures and places of this world is a gift. As with any gift, it may take years for him to understand it."

"A gift, Albus? Perhaps so, but I fear that it is a Dark one. Oh, my dear boy, please don’t look at me like that. I haven’t said that the child himself is Dark. But, surely you must admit..."

"Headmaster, you know I have never believed that Hagrid, or any creature of his, was truly responsible for what happened."

Both wizards were keeping their magic and their emotions carefully in check. They might disagree, but there was clearly friendship and respect between them. Even so, the strength of their feelings was making their powers flare and surge. Aged and diminished as he was, the Headmaster’s power was still enough to make me flinch. And the incandescence of the Transfiguration Master’s magic was painful. A soft whimper escaped me. The Headmaster and Professor Dumbledore continued speaking, and I prayed that neither one of them had heard.

"Albus, you must continue to impress upon Hagrid the profound importance of keeping the Forest’s creatures IN the Forest," Headmaster Dippet was saying.

"Yes, of course I will, sir," Professor Dumbledore replied.

"I know that you’re very fond of the boy. But he’s running out of chances."

*******

For a time after the wizards had left the kitchen, I remained hidden, too filled with guilt and misery to move. What had I done? I should have kept my mouth shut. Why couldn’t they just beat Hagrid or lock him up in chains? Those punishments would have been reasonable. But the Headmaster sounded ready to have Hagrid dismissed. The boy had no family. Mr. Ogg had said that Professor Dumbledore was the closest thing that Hagrid had to a guardian. If Hagrid was banished from the Castle, would he lose Dumbledore too?

To be cast out, alone, to starve in the snow...! Poor child. He didn’t deserve that.

Exhausted and distressed, my work that afternoon was slipshod at best. Impatiently, Mr. Pringle boxed my ears. I hardly felt a thing.

Even now, Hagrid had a creature concealed in a cupboard in the storeroom beneath the kitchen. He’d denied it of course. Still, I knew what I’d heard. There was really only one thing I could think of to do.

*******

That night, instead of attending to my dusting and sweeping, I crept down to the kitchen storeroom. The torch I carried made the shadows of all the boxes and bags seem threatening.

"H-Hello...?" I called out, my voice shaking. "I know you’re in here! ‘Mosag,’ he called you. If anyone finds out that he’s keeping you, he’ll be sent away! You have to leave..."

Silence was my only answer. Nervously, I went deeper into the storeroom.

"Mosag?" I called. "Answer me!"

Suddenly, a black shadow rose from the floor, directly in front of me. It was huge, monstrous! Yelling with fright, I backpedaled frantically. Tripping over a crate of tins, I sat down hard. A huge hand caught my torch before it could set anything on fire.

"Filch! Shut up, yeh git! D’yeh want ter wake up the whole Castle?"

"H-Hagrid?"

"Couldn’ leave well enough alone, could yeh? I honestly didn’ think yeh’d have the courage ter come snooping down here, but I figured it was better ter be safe than sorry!"

"Hagrid, you’re supposed to be asleep, not lurking in here!" I hissed.

"An’ yer supposed ter be working upstairs, not sneaking abou’!" Hagrid retorted.

When the boy spoke again, his tone had turned plaintive. "Mosag never hurt no one, Filch. All she wants is a home an’ a family. In a day or so, when the snow melts a bit more, I’ll take her out ter the Forest!"

"No, you’ve got to take her outside now! I-I heard them talking... the Headmaster and your Professor Dumbledore. The Professor defended you, but Headmaster Dippet told him that you’re running out of chances. If anyone finds out what you’re doing...!"

"Are yeh going ter tell on me, Filch? Again?" Hagrid tried to growl at me but he sounded more scared than angry.

"It’d serve you right if I did! But, no. I’m not going to tell, I promise. As long as you take that thing out to the Forest, tonight, right now!"

We stared at each other for a very long moment. Then Hagrid sighed. "Done," he said, handing back my torch. "Help me. I need yeh ter find a big empty box, or a nice big sack ter carry her in."

There was a large box that was mostly empty of food tins on a lower shelf. Stacking the tins on a nearby wooden pallet, I dragged the box over to Hagrid. The boy was crouching in front of a cupboard at the very back of the storeroom. He was speaking soft, coaxing words.

"C’mon, Mosag. It’ll be alrigh.’ I won’ let anyone hurt yeh. An’ I promise I won’ leave yeh, not til yer safe with Aragog."

I heard a rustling movement. And the same strange clicking sounds I’d heard this morning. Curiously I moved my torch closer to Hagrid, meaning to get just a glimpse of Mosag. A glimpse was all I got. But it was more than enough.

The creature had a large, round, hairy body. And many eyes, gleaming. And legs! Lots and lots of long, hairy legs!

I screamed until I ran out of breath. Then I took a great gulp of air and screamed some more. Hagrid put his huge hand over my mouth. I sank my teeth into his thumb.

"YEEE-OW!" Hagrid bellowed. "Filch, yeh stupid GIT!!! NO, MOSAG, I’m alrigh’... DON’ HURT HIM!!!"

It seemed that Hagrid’s creature was as protective of the boy as he was of her. Her razor-sharp pincers gleaming, the beast leaped at me.

Still wailing, I swung my torch at her. Mosag leaped over me, her pincers slashing at the arm I’d flung up to protect my head.

Clicking and wailing almost as loudly as I was, Mosag scuttled rapidly towards the storeroom door.

"Git!" Hagrid snapped at me, clutching his bleeding thumb. After stomping out the torch that I’d dropped on the floor, he hurried after his monster.

*******

Hardly aware of what I was doing or where I meant to go, I stumbled through the Castle corridors. It was very late. I still had work to do. Dusting and sweeping. Let Hagrid worry about his awful monster. As long as the creature was safely out of the Castle, the poor stupid oaf wouldn’t be sent away.

Where was my dustmop? My broom?

Shivering even though I was sweating, I leaned against a wall. There was a soft whisper of magic, like a door opening. I tumbled through the wall to land on a soft rug.

Daylight. Sunshine and flowers. The room with the fountain, the loom and the tapestries. I would be safe here. The monster couldn’t get me. Oh, Merlin, I was going to be sick! Mustn’t make a mess in this tidy room. Hands pressed over my mouth, I leaned back against the wall and fell through again.

Retching miserably, I curled up on the corridor floor. Damp. Cool. The dungeons? How had I ended up here? Was I near the caretaker’s office? I thought maybe I was. "Mr. Pringle... help me..." I whimpered. My voice was faint and weak.

I sensed something then. A whisper of magic. As if another door had opened. Strong emotions accompanied the magic. Elation! Recognition! Then the joy darkened. Anguish. Traveled Through, yes, but still no answering Recognition. Lonely... so lonely.

Nearly delirious, I wept broken-hearted tears for something that couldn’t weep for itself. I wasn’t alone in the corridor now. A tall, black-haired boy had nearly fallen over me. On the wall at his back was an extremely plain tapestry.

"I know you," he said, quite dispassionately.

He didn’t seem aware of the emotions swirling all around us. I sensed that he was overlooking something precious and important. But the feeling was too difficult for me to put into words, ill and fevered as I was.

"You’re Pringle’s Squib," the boy said. "What’s happened to you?" Kneeling, he peered into my eyes and felt the pulse in my throat. His nose wrinkled at the stench of vomit. He lifted one of my arms, noting the tear in my sleeve and the gash left by Mosag’s pincer.

"Poison, in a defensive wound," he murmured. "When fresh, the secretion of an Acromantula has a scent. Subtle, but quite distinctive. My goodness. How many of those creatures does Hagrid have?"

"No..." I gasped, frightened at how swiftly he’d figured out the huge boy’s involvement. It was hard for me to stay focused and coherent, but I’d promised Hagrid that I wouldn’t tell anyone. Making promises was something that I rarely did, but I always tried my best to keep the few promises I made. "Not Hagrid... he didn’t... he had nothing to do with..."

"Oh, no. Of course he didn’t," the boy said in a very dry tone. Then he laughed softly. "Hagrid may not be as subtle as the scent of an Acromantula’s poison, but his ...effects are certainly just as distinctive."

"Please..." I begged him. "They’ll send the boy away. And he has no one."

"How terribly sad. The world is full of orphans, you know." The young wizard’s voice was very cold.

I curled into a ball as dry heaves shook me, too sick to go on pleading with him.

"Foolish Squib. If you had any sense you would be less worried about Hagrid and more worried about yourself," the boy said. Then he sighed. "Another death in the castle would be most inconvenient. The memories are still too fresh. And then there’s the fact that a certain sharp-eyed, suspicious individual would be bound to notice that your symptoms are nothing like those of the first victim. Perhaps you’re right. Amusing as it would be to blacken Hagrid’s name further, it would be best to leave him out of this, entirely. Though, if you’re to live, we can’t have you remembering anything about our conversation."

A surge of power from him made me cry out.

"Obliviate."

*******

"Mobilicorpus."

Gently, I rose from the floor to float in front of a tall, dark-haired young wizard.

"Well, I shall try to look on the bright side," he was saying. "At least you’ve given me another opportunity to play the hero."

*******

"Filch, I’m sorry. I didn’ know..." Hagrid said, miserably. His face was white. He looked very young and frightened. "I didn’ know that she’d scratched yeh. They secrete a poison when they’re afraid. Yeh scared her! She wouldn’t have hurt yeh, if yeh hadn’t yelled like yeh did."

"I scared HER? She scared ME. I didn’t want to yell. I couldn’t help it."

"I suppose yeh couldn’t. Poor, silly git." The boy sighed and looked at his bandaged thumb, ruefully.

"Hagrid, dear, hold still..." Madam Valerian said, gently. The medi-witch was standing behind Hagrid, who was sitting, cross-legged on the floor next to my bed.

The school nurse had helped the boy take off his shirt. Now she was holding a bowl of water and a soft, clean cloth. She was carefully bathing the welts on Hagrid’s broad back.

"Hagrid... you told Mr. Pringle what you did! Why? I lied to him for you. I told him that I didn’t know where the creature had come from. You oaf! They’ll send you away...!"

Madam Valerian frowned. It was clear that she didn’t approve of Mr. Pringle’s methods of discipline. "No one is being sent away," she soothed both of us briskly. "Professor Dumbledore told the Headmaster that he intended to keep Hagrid with him, and Mr. Ogg spoke up in Hagrid’s defense and then Mr. Pringle spoke up too. He said that he’d already punished the boy quite severely, and it would be a shame to deprive Mr. Ogg of his apprentice."

My eyes widened. "Hagrid? Mr. Pringle defended you?"

Hagrid sighed, wincing. "Well, he was in a good mood an’ feeling pleased with himself, I guess. Bin wanting ter teach me a lesson fer a while, hasn’t he? The old man finally got his chance."

I didn’t mind when Pringle thrashed the students. And I thought that Hagrid’s punishment was well-deserved. Still, the fact that Hagrid had been beaten was unexpectedly troubling.

"It’s alrigh’ Filch," the boy said, gruffly when he saw my expression. "It doesn’ hurt so much, really. Other things that happened las’ night bother me more. Of all the people in the castle that yeh coulda’ picked ter collapse in front of. I wish that yeh’d puked yer guts all over him! Though he’d still have found some way ter come out smelling like a rose..."

I frowned, thinking of the young wizard who’d found me and brought me to the hospital wing. My recollections of the encounter were confused and disjointed. I thought that I remembered wanting to tell him something important, but the memory was gone.

Madam Valerian had finished tending Hagrid’s back. Patting his dark tangled curls in a motherly way, she stood up to put away the bowl and the cloth.

When she went out of earshot, Hagrid leaned closer and whispered, "Mosag is safe in the Forest, with Aragog and they’re happy. Love at firs’ sight it was. An’ that’s what makes everything alrigh’ s’far as I’m concerned."

I shuddered. "The whole Forest will be full of those... things."

"Yep. That’s the point, isn’t it? They wanted a family. No one wants ter be lonely, Filch. No matter who, or what they are."

"They’re monsters, not people," I mumbled, frowning again. I knew that he was right. People weren’t the only ones who could be lonely...

Madam Valerian was giving Hagrid a pointed look. The boy picked up his shirt and stood.

"At least yeh can have a proper rest now, Filch, instead of nodding off into yer breakfast tomorrow," Hagrid said, comfortingly. He left me alone to sleep.

 

 

END OF CHAPTER THREE   Author’s Notes: Again, my thanks to Alchemine. My conception of young-Minerva is inspired and influenced by Alchemine’s stories. (And the tartan hair-ribbon belongs to Alchemine’s young-Minerva too.) Violet Azure: Thank you for reviewing! I’m glad that you’re developing a soft spot for Filch! The Caretaker and Gamekeeper are still referring to each other as "oaf" and "git" in Harry’s time, but they seem to get along anyhow. (I thought that there was such great chemistry between Robbie Coltrane and David Bradley in the first movie. That "Good God, man! You’re not still on about that bloody dragon!" scene still makes me laugh.) Filch will get his first cat eventually. I have some ideas on the subject, but none that have "worked" for me yet. I think that Filch has a wizard’s lifespan. At least I hope he does. Rowling hasn’t said one way or the other, but it would be too sad and cruel if he doesn’t. Mr. Roberts III : Thank you for reviewing! I couldn’t resist the notion of a werewolf named "Bob." Kazza: Thank you for reviewing! It isn’t pleasant to be a Squib in the wizarding world, but Filch’s own personality is partially to blame for his overenthusiastic dedication. He’s as harsh to himself as he is to others. B5!!! (Ozma squeals happily!!!) Oh, YES! Bester is such a Slytherin!!! I can see Talia and Lyta as serpents too. Psicorp seems very Slytherin. Hmmm. I think Sinclair is a Ravenclaw and Doctor Franklin is too. Sheridan, Ivanova, Garibaldi and Marcus are all Gryffindors. I think Zack is a definite Hufflepuff. What about the non-humans? If aliens can be Sorted, then Vir is a Hufflepuff, Londo is a Slytherin, Kosh is a Slytherin. G’kar would be a Gryffindor. The Minbari have obligingly Sorted themselves. Religious = mostly Slytherins/Ravenclaws, Workers =mostly Hufflepuffs, Warriors = mostly Gryffindors/Slytherins. What do you think? Sabre: Thank you for reviewing! Hagrid is a sweetie, isn’t he? The groundskeeper is one of my favorite characters. He’s had so many hardships. Plenty of people would have become angry and bitter, but not Hagrid. He’s still optimistic, generous and kind. You’re right, poor Filch absolutely cannot see the humor in his reaction to Bob-the-werewolf. The first meeting between Filch and Minerva happened in this chapter. He doesn’t know her name but she certainly made a strong impression on him. (He’s sure that he made an impression on her too, but the poor boy wants to crawl into a hole whenever he thinks about that.) I’m keeping to Filch’s point of view, and at this point in time Filch is trying to avoid the students. He won’t notice Tom’s interest in Minerva. Tarzan: Thank you for reviewing! (Have you met Jane?) Thank you for your wonderful comments on my writing! Writing is a hobby for me, something that I like to do for fun and stress-relief. The quest to become a published author can be a long, arduous one, and would take a much thicker skin than the one I’ve got. Lilac: Thank you for reviewing! There’s a bit more Hagrid backstory in this chapter. Hagrid and Filch are a lot of fun to bounce off each other. Jane: Thank you for reviewing! (Have you met Tarzan?) Murasaki99: Thank you for reviewing! Fortunately for Argus, Hagrid has a kindly soul. He forgives. It was fun to picture Filch and Hagrid as rowdy kids having a snowball fight. Molly Weasley remembered Ogg fondly, she reminisced about him at length to Harry and Bill. So I saw him as someone nice and sensible. Bactine and band-aids? Yes, having just read (and LOVED) your new chapter, I can see how those things would be useful... Jestana: Thank you for reviewing! You’re re-reading? That makes me feel so happy! Your kind words on the characteriziation of young Filch and Hagrid are greatly appreciated! I was trying for believable younger versions of the men that they eventually became. Catakit: Thank you for reviewing! I hope you won’t be too disappointed, but Filch’s first meeting with Mrs. Norris is still many years in Filch’s future. Argus is quite young in this story, not yet twenty. Even if Mrs. Norris does turn out to be more than a simple cat, chances are that she hasn’t been born yet. Ara Kane: Thank you for reviewing! Filch grew up sensing his parents’ magic all around him. But since he also grew up knowing that "people like him" have no magic, he assumed that there was nothing he could do that real wizards couldn’t do much better. Poor Hagrid. Dumbledore was actually as gentle and patient as he could be. He explained the dangers to everyone concerned, including Bob. (If the werewolf had been caught roaming the Castle grounds then Ogg would have been forced to hunt Bob down with silver.) Hagrid was devastated by all the factors that he hadn’t considered, and because he’d displeased Dumbledore. The Good Doctor Monaco and Whiskers: Thank you for reviewing! Filch and Hagrid have an odd sort of friendship. Arguing and trading insults are their usual form of communication. Each one finds the other baffling. Yet they do manage to get along and work together. Yes, this story takes place after the Chamber was opened. Hagrid’s already been expelled. I’m glad to hear that Hagrid didn’t really try to raise werewolf cubs under his bed. But, I did figure that the possibility of him dong such a thing had to exist. I wonder if Rowling will ever say more about the werewolves in the Forest?      

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