A Harry Potter fan-fic
By Ozma and Jelsemium
A sequel to Ozma’s Squib Caretaker
Chapter Two (of Eight): The Squib and the Dursleys
All recognizable characters copyrighted by J.K. Rowling.
The less recognizable creatures are based on folklore and might be under your bed.
This was even better than she'd hoped when she'd started her hunt today. The Boy Who Lived! The Boy Who'd Defeated that Hissy Faced Upstart! He had some sweet magic indeed! Better yet, she could give the remains to the so-called dark lord and maybe he'd feel obligated to repay her.
But first, she'd have to get her prize home safely. She needed to wait until the inconvenient relatives left. Then a simple leash charm should be enough to get the boy to follow. She walked back behind the dust bin and looked at the crumpled figure. Such a child, for all his power and reputation, she gloated. So easy to deceive. So easy to overpower. She ran her tongue across her depleted venom sac. It reacted to magic. The more the boy tried to use, the more strongly the venom would affect him. It would also speed the decomposition of the body, once the boy was dead. Likely no human would ever discover what had befallen him.
The grey woman watched the relatives leave, without more than a cursory look around. Looked like the woman wasn't even going to regret her hasty words. She kicked at some scrawny cat that had come nosing around, no doubt after fish. Then she started weaving the leash charm around the boy to ensure his cooperation.
"Yes, I hear you. Not so loud, my sweet…" I moaned, dragging my eyes open again.
Time had passed. I wasn't sure how much. Mrs. Norris and I were alone in the dim malodorous alley. For all the notice that the passerby's on the busy street nearby took of us, we might have been invisible.
Sitting up slowly, I clutched at my head. My right temple was sticky with blood and a tender lump had started to swell. Mrs. Norris rubbed her small head against my side.
"Potter is safe with his blood relations. Nothing should be able to get through that spell," I said.
Mrs. Norris yowled. It was a long, heartsick wail. She waited while I stood, using the nearest brick wall to steady myself. When we started off again, I had to move slowly. My head throbbed as I felt for the traces of either the powerful spell surrounding Potter's aunt and cousin or the Dark stench of the hungry creature that had been pursuing Potter.
Mrs. Norris moved slowly too though it was clear that she wanted to run. I wished that I could run. What if we were already too late?
"He's defeated the Dark Lord any number of times. He's escaped from Death Eaters, slain a Basilisk and fought a Mountain Troll," I said to Mrs. Norris, trying to quell the fear rising inside me.
Now the Muggles on the street were regarding me with mingled pity and trepidation. I received a few looks of disgust as well. I supposed that their feelings were understandable. The stench of the alley clung to me and there was blood drying on my head. I moved unsteadily, as if I'd been drinking something much stronger than gillywater this morning.
At least the Muggles were stepping out of my way now.
I could feel no trace of the Dark creature. And when I first sensed the spell around Potter's family again, I almost didn't recognize it. The spell was diminished now, an echo of what I'd sensed before.
Confused, I allowed the thin blonde woman, her arms now full of packages, to pass me by. She'd given me a very wide berth and a look of profound disgust. The fat blond boy was lumbering behind her, his expression sulky.
I looked past him down the street, anxious for the sight of a thin, shabby figure with wild hair, round glasses and drab, ill-fitting clothes. But there was no sign of Harry Potter. Without Potter's presence to act as a catalyst the spell had gone dormant. And the young wizard was now vulnerable, without the protection of his blood relatives!
Frightened and angry, I reached out and grabbed the blond boy's meaty arm. "Where is he?" I hissed.
"W-Who?" the boy asked fearfully, struggling to loosen my grip on his arm. He didn't succeed. Maybe I wasn't as strong as that Dark hungry creature, but I am stronger than I look.
"YOUR COUSIN!" I shouted. I didn't yell Potter's name out loud, not sure who or what else might be listening. "He's supposed to be with you! You're supposed to be looking after him!"
Nearby, a voice shrieked, "Dudley!" Potter's aunt had dropped her packages. She was swinging her handbag at my head. I dodged and she struck my shoulder instead.
What did she have in there… a small bludger? My arm went numb, forcing me to release her great lump of a son. Then Potter's aunt screamed shrilly. Mrs. Norris had just sunk her claws into the woman's leg.
"Mum!" the boy bellowed, grabbing for my cat. He was much too slow. All he received was a nasty set of scratches across one pudgy hand.
I managed to pick up Mrs. Norris, cradling her against my chest protectively as I tried to think what to do. Obviously Potter's relatives had managed to lose him somehow! They must be even more worried about him than I was. No wonder they were so bad-tempered. Well, fighting among ourselves wouldn't help matters. I tried not to glare at them.
Potter's aunt was glowering enough for everyone. The venom and malice in her eyes when she looked at me and Mrs. Norris would have impressed even Professor Snape.
"Stay back, Dudley!" she hissed, stepping protectively in front of her huge son.
The resemblance between this grim woman and little Lily Evans wasn't particularly strong. Still, there was something in the way that she stood and in the fierce, determined way that she held her head that reminded me of the pretty red-headed girl I had seen at Hogwarts years ago. I thought of Lily, shielding Harry with the very last of her strength. My expression would have softened, but for what Harry's aunt said next.
"You're one of THEM, aren't you? Those FREAKS?"
I flinched as if she'd taken another swipe at me with her handbag. Of course, Lily's sister must have seen the magic of true wizards. She'd been entrusted with the care of The Boy Who Lived, hadn't she? I didn't know how she knew that I was nothing but a Squib, but I couldn't blame her for thinking that I would be of no use to her in the search for the missing Potter. However, I didn't intend to tolerate rudeness. She was worried about her nephew, but that was no excuse.
"I may have no proper magic of my own, Madam. But few witches or wizards would be so ill-mannered as to call me a freak."
"Did you just have the effrontery to call me ill-mannered?" Potter's aunt demanded incredulously. The temperature around us seemed to have dropped several degrees.
Professor Snape is the only other person I know who can do that. It's not magic, it's a matter of personality. Having survived Snape's glares and sarcasm for years, I wasn't so easily cowed.
"Would you prefer to be called ‘unrefined?’ Or ‘discourteous?' Those terms would do as well," I retorted.
"How dare you! You filthy, smelly …TRAMP!"
"Mum," the boy, Dudley, said, eyeing me. "He said that he has no proper magic. Maybe he can't hurt us."
I didn't like the way this lumpish youth was looking at me. "Magic or not, the witch and wizard brats at the Castle all live in fear of me," I snarled. "And I don't need to be able to cast spells to deal with you, you great, soft pudding!" I looked as fierce as I possibly could. It was quite effective. Dudley shrank back, beside his mother.
The aunt wasn't so easy to intimidate. She could take on a Basilisk, with a glare like that. (My money would still be on the Basilisk, but the giant snake would certainly know that it had been in a fight.)
"I will forgive you your bad manners, Madam, if you will forgive me mine," I said, curtly. "I am Argus Filch, Caretaker at Hogwarts. I know that you must be the sister of Lily Evans Potter…"
"I am Petunia Dursley," she said. Her tone was even frostier than mine.
I gave her a brief nod, struggling to be more polite. "I can assure you that my goal is the same as yours. We must find the boy quickly. Where and when did you last see your nephew?"
Her face twisted angrily. "The ungrateful brat refused to wait for us in the spot where I told him, quite plainly, to wait! He knew what the consequences would be if he chose to wander off. I informed him that he would have to make his own way home as a punishment if he got himself lost!"
"I'm a great believer in consequences myself," I said. "Ordinarily. But your nephew may have gone missing for reasons beyond his control. There's something after him. Something terrible!"
Her face twisted even more, her lips drawing back from her teeth in a snarl. Even Dudley stepped back.
"Something terrible from your world of freaks and monsters, no doubt!" Petunia Evans Dursley hissed. "Wasn't it bad enough to have him dumped on our doorstep without so much as a by-your-leave? He's been turning our lives upside down ever since! Years of shame and embarrassment, and strange mishaps, terrifying accidents, and the boy never showing us a bit of gratitude for the food we give him or the clothes on his back…"
I thought of Potter's thin body, and the ill-fitting, shabby clothes.
"Am I expected to comb all of London for him now, to save him from the sort of trouble that ordinary, decent people should never have to face?" she snarled. "What can I --a mere Muggle, as YOUR sort call us-- possibly do to save him!?"
More appalled than I'd ever been in my life, I struggled to find my voice. "You're his aunt, his own flesh and blood," I said. "All you have to do is be there! There's a spell…"
"Do NOT," she spat, "speak to me of SPELLS! Dudley and I have already got in the way of enough dreadful and humiliating spells to last us a lifetime! You're from that… that PLACE he goes to. You help him!" Turning on her heel, she marched back to where she'd dropped her packages.
A number of people were staring. This did not improve her mood.
"What happened to your magic, then? Did you lose it?" It was Dudley. The boy was looking at me curiously.
"I was born this way!" I growled, still staring in disbelief at the abhorrent creature he had for a mother.
"Do you mean that you're …normal?"
"No! Of course I'm not normal, boy! Didn't I just say so?"
"Because you're one of THEM, but you can't do magic?"
"Yes," I said, making an effort to soften my tone a bit. The poor great lump was obviously simple-minded. "Your Aunt Lily was born into a Muggle family, wasn't she? Sometimes, though not very often, a wizard and a witch will have a child who is like me."
Squibs aren't exactly like Muggles, but I wasn't about to attempt to explain the difference.
"And they're afraid of you? Those kids at Potter's school? Why? What do you do to them?"
I gave him another glare.
"The Headmaster does not allow me to chain them in the dungeons," I said gruffly. "So, I make them scrub, sweep, polish and dust all over the Castle."
"We're not supposed to lock Potter in the cupboard under the stairs any more," Dudley said. "But Mum's always made him clean a lot of things. Ever since he was little."
Suddenly, I felt quite ill.
"Come along, Duddy-dear! We have to find a taxi! Let that nasty old tramp worry about your ungrateful cousin!" Petunia Dursley, packages in her arms, was trying to sound as if she wasn't still furious. I could hear the rage under her sugary-sweet tone.
"Potter's probably okay," Dudley muttered. "He's stronger than he looks. Faster too."
"Diddy-Darling! Come along now!"
Dudley spoke to me, under his breath. "Potter was supposed to wait for us in front of Beau Brummels. It's a clothing shop, down that way." The boy pointed.
"Thank you," I said numbly, holding Mrs. Norris as if I could draw strength from her.
Dudley was already lumbering away after his mother.
To Be Continued...
Jestana -- Thanks! Glad you liked the cliff-hanger! --Jelsemium
Jestana: Thank you for reviewing! I thought that the spell protecting Harry would be something awesome from Filch’s point of view. --Ozma
Murasaki99 -- Um, integrate your horse? What does that entail? ** I had a whole story plotted for that poor Banshee, but it's been put on hold for now. ** A bar fight with a Banshee, a Sphinx and a Harpy would be a lot of fun. I'll have to meditate on this as I'm driving. Carbon monoxide is a big help in writing stories like these! ** The Harpy doesn't have a patron (that I know of) just the Sphinx. Her patron will show up eventually. ** What are these predators doing in The Leaky Cauldron? Having a quick drink. ** Someone will get royally annoyed at Petunia and will tell her off, promise. --Jelsemium
Murasaki99: Thank you for reviewing! How does one integrate a horse?? I think Gobardon would have a great time at the Leaky Cauldron, but poor Tom-the-barkeep might be a bit unnerved. More will be revealed about the Sphinx’s patron in due time. The Harpy doesn’t have a patron, her reasons for getting involved are somewhat different. The mythical predators were just thirsty and/or after some of Tom-the-barkeep’s shepherd’s pie... --Ozma
Ara Kane -- Thanks! I liked your image of the magic that surrounds the Dursleys and Harry. --Jelsemium
Ara Kane: Thank you for reviewing! Oooh, I like the image of Petunia and Dudley walking in a haze of golden light. That’s so cool! --Ozma
The Good Doctor Monaco -- If they could stay out of trouble, there wouldn't be any story, would there? ("Harry Potter grew up to be a nice kid because his parents were so nice. He went to school and got good grades because his pal, Hermione, was a good tutor. In his second year, he became Gryffindor Seeker...") ** You'll soon see how serious Petunia was about leaving Harry behind. --Jelsemium
The Good Doctor Monaco: Thank you for reviewing! Mrs. Norris, acting as the loyal deputy she is, stayed on the Grey Woman’s trail after Filch was unconscious. Yes, Petunia was quite serious. She thought that Harry had wandered off simply to be contrary. We can give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she MAY not have actually left Harry all on his own in London if Filch hadn’t come along for her to pass the responsibility for finding him off onto.
Durayan has done a gorgeous picture of a young Argus! Take a look-see! --Ozma
Karie -- Yes, The Grey Stalker has a way of twisting the law around to suit herself. --Jelsemium
Karie: Thank you for reviewing! Your reactions are perfect, ‘creepy’ is the effect that we were trying for. --Ozma
Lilac -- Thanks! Yes, the Grey Stalker is one of my more gruesome creations, isn't she? --Jelsemium
Lilac: Thank you for reviewing! The Grey Woman is many things, but she’s not exactly a lady. Filch and Mrs. Norris are looking for her trail. "O" and "J" is fine, but not "OJ." :-) --Ozma
kazza-- Thanks! -- Ozma & Jelsemium
Sabre -- The Grey Stalker is based on traditional nursery bogies, but she's mostly my creation. Especially her loose interpretation of the laws that govern her diet. --Jelsemium
Sabre: Thank you for reviewing! The Grey Woman is Jelsemium’s creation. Both of us had fun writing her. She’s deliciously nasty. Filch would sputter if anyone called him brave. He’s ‘just doing his job.’ (But I think he’s brave too.) --Ozma
Violet Azure -- Thanks, glad you like my rather sick sense of humor! ** Yeah, most humans are fussy about getting eaten, can you imagine that? ** The shepherd's pie joke came from the usual Girl Scout cookie joke -- "If chocolate chip cookies are made from chocolate chips, then what are Girl Scout cookies made of? ** I think Filch and McGonagall are a lovely couple myself. Something a little different, too. ** I have another story where I'm making Petunia a little more human, but that, as they say, is a different story. --Jelsemium
Violet Azure: Thank you for reviewing! "Squib Summer" is already completed and at the beta-reading stage, so my writer’s block hasn’t affected it. The story after this one is the one I’m stuck on. --Ozma
B. Nonymous -- Love your Screen Name! ** Glad you like my creations. My bookwyrm story is fun, too. He's got his own story. --Jelsemium
B. Nonymous: Thank you for reviewing! Thanks for the e-mail too! Jelsemium has a wonderfully wacky way with creations. --Ozma
LizBee -- Thanks, I try to keep Harry close to canon. Rowling's created a marvelous character here. I really like her style. ** Sorry, no Snape in this episode. ** I rather liked the Predators, too. I've always like "interestin' critters". Guess that's why I'm so fond of Hagrid. --Jelsemium
LizBee: Thank you for reviewing! Snape doesn’t appear in this story, but that makes it easier for Filch and Harry to talk about him. Jelsemium deserves the credit for writing such a good Harry, she wrote most of the Harry bits, with me adding a few lines here and there. --Ozma