The Sugar Quill
Author: Daphne Dunham (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Incendio  Chapter: Default
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Incendio

By Daphne Dunham

 

A/N: This story is based on/inspired by Kate Chopin’s “Desiree’s Baby.” Also, be advised that any references to the Snape family take place within the confines of an alternate “Snapeverse” than my other writings. Last, but far from least, special thanks to Ozma for her above-and-beyond beta-reading.

 

* * * * *

 

Squibs ran in families. It was a simple fact in the wizarding world. Rare as they were, where one Squib could be found in a given bloodline, another inevitably followed. Sometimes it skipped a generation; sometimes it didn’t, and sometimes there were false alarms.

 

It was for precisely this reason that when seven-year-old Argus Filch still hadn’t showed signs of magical abilities, gossip began to circulate amongst the servants.

 

“That child has Squib blood in him; I can tell. I can always tell,” the maid whispered authoritatively to the cook one afternoon. As she was a Squib herself, she felt quite certain that she was an expert in such matters and, thus, had no qualms about levying such a judgment.

 

“Can you imagine a Squib in such a family?” the cook said. “Master Filch must be beside himself.”

 

The maid nodded enthusiastically. “Just last night I saw him hand his own wand over to the boy and try to teach him how to wave it,” she said. “Not a bloody thing happened, no matter how he swished and flicked and said the incantations. Heartbreaking, it was, to see the Master’s disappointment.”

 

The two women stood, peering around the corner into the library, where Enid Snape Filch sat with her son, trying desperately to get him to do something – anything – magical. She had tried scaring him, angering him – anything to evoke a powerful emotional reaction. For the past hour, she had even been trying to coax him into Levitating a piece of parchment from her husband’s desk with her wand, but it was no use: the paper remained unmoved and tears welled in Argus’ eyes. Frustrated, he tossed his mother’s wand angrily to the floor.

 

“It’s all right, dearest,” Enid soothed, wrapping her arm around the boy. “You’re simply not ready yet. The day will come when you’re every bit as powerful a wizard as your father.”

 

Hopefulness glimmered in Argus’ eyes, and Enid smiled. As she stooped to pick her wand up from the floor, though, she couldn’t help but notice the maid and the cook standing in the doorway. They scurried away at Enid’s glance, but she still heard their whispers echoing through the corridor.

 

“A Squib, he is,” they were saying. “A Squib.”

 

* * *

 

Troubled by these rumours circulating amongst the help, Enid Filch spoke with her husband that evening.

 

“The servants are gossiping, Claudius,” she told him, her voice scarcely louder than the crackling of the flames in the fireplace.

 

“I know,” he replied curtly over the edge of the book he was reading. He was a serious man, a cold man, and even though his wife’s lips trembled as she spoke, he could not be moved to comfort her. “I’ve heard them myself. They say that our son is a Squib.”

 

Enid nodded sadly. “You must stop them from saying such horrible things.”

 

Placing the book aside, Claudius surveyed her stonily. “Perhaps what they’re saying is true,” he snapped.

 

Enid withdrew at his harshness but did not reproach him. Her mild, Hufflepuff nature dictated to her that she love Claudius all the more for his harshness. His mother had, after all, died in his infancy, leaving him little experience in the delicacy required when dealing with the opposite sex. For this, she could not fault him. She could only try to love him enough to make up for the affection he’d been denied.

 

Their marriage had been a good match, one that had advanced the precarious position of the Snape family. Despite being purebloods, the Snapes were not especially respected, and when Claudius Filch, the last in a rather distinguished line of an ancient wizarding family, had taken an interest in Enid, her family had encouraged his advances. Claudius had wooed her with promises and little gifts of perfume and jewelry; he had lavished affection on her. It had seemed that they would be happy.

 

And they had been happy. In time, Claudius had even used his name and cunning to rise through the ranks at the Ministry of Magic. He ruled his home with the same precision and exactness that he exercised at work, requiring perfection of his servants, his wife, his child. Indeed, the years of enduring the humiliation of Argus’ magical shortcomings had been too much for so proud a man to bear. Now, as he was forced to confront the reality that his son was a Squib, his brow was creased in a frown, his jaw bent in a stern square, and his temper short.

 

“Squibs run in families, you know,” Claudius reminded her testily. Eyes piercing, he added, “I know my bloodline is clean.”

 

There was an accusatory air to his tone, and it would have been difficult for Enid not to comprehend her husband’s cruel implications, for her to not to understand that he meant to say that their son’s condition was the result of an impurity among her Snape ancestors. Faltering, she brought a delicate hand to clutch at her chest from the shock of his allegation.

 

“Surely you’re not suggesting… You don’t mean to say…” she stammered in disbelief. The continued iciness in Claudius’ glare, however, told her that she wasn’t mistaken in deciphering his insinuation. “But I’m a Snape!” she gasped in protest. “We’ve been pureblooded for generations!”

 

Claudius rose and placed his hands authoritatively on his hips. His stare continued to beat down on Enid callously.

 

She cowered beneath him, trembling and struggling to hold back tears. “Claudius, you know me! You know this to be true,” she pleaded with him. “You’ve seen the genealogies yourself.”

 

“I know the name Snape is one associated with Dark Arts and Azkaban and other questionable activities,” he growled, eyes glinting viciously. “I can only imagine what other indiscretions exist amongst your lot.”

 

Enid choked on a sob. “Claudius, please – Argus is your son, your flesh and blood – you must love him –”

 

He was already storming from the room, though, his robes billowing in the breeze of hostility he left in his wake.

 

“Get out of my home and take that worthless boy with you,” he seethed before slamming the door closed behind him.

 

It was the last time Claudius Filch would ever rest his eyes on either his wife or his son.

 

* * *

 

Claudius could scarcely wait three days before ordering the servants to delouse the residence of anything that looked remotely as though it had once belonged to Enid Filch or the filthy Squib she had borne him. Out went the clothing, the photographs, the journals. Out went the toy trunk, the books, the jewelry. Claudius surveyed the servants’ progress with great interest, anxious to divest himself of anything that reminded him he had ever mingled with tainted blood, and as he watched the mound grow, he smiled with dark satisfaction.

 

It was a peculiar, leather-bound volume that caught his eye. Claudius stumbled forward, curious, and took it in hand. It was a diary – a woman’s, by the look of the floral pattern embossed on the leather and the lacy, looping letters that crossed the pages therein. He could scarcely recall ever having seen Enid toting the book around, and as he thumbed through the pages, he gathered that he was correct: the diary didn’t belong to his wife; it had belonged to his mother.

 

As much as it pains me to know that I shall not live to see my beloved Claudius grow into a man, his mother had written on her deathbed, at least I can take comfort in the knowledge that my husband has agreed to my final wish – that our son will never know that his mother, despite being of pure blood, was born without the capability of producing magic herself. Claudius will never know that in his veins, he carries the blood of a Squib.

 

Reading the entry, Claudius faltered. A low, dull moan escaped his lips. Moments later, his voice was hoarse, and his hand quaked as he raised his wand to his mother’s diary and uttered the incantation that would preserve his future and save his name.

 

Incendio!

 

* * * * *

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