The Squib and the Werewolf
The Squib and the Werewolf
a Harry Potter fan-fic
(this story is set during Prisoner of Azkaban)
Everything really belongs to J.K. Rowling
The Basilisk filled my office, from floor to ceiling.
I didnít actually see the Basilisk, just its monstrous shadow, cast in the golden rectangle of light on the corridor floor just outside my office. The oil lamp on the ceiling swung madly as the massive serpentís head struck it. I was still outside in the corridor. The sight froze me in my tracks as thoroughly as the creatureís stare would have done.
Mrs. Norris was standing directly in front of my open office door. As the huge shadow coiled and twisted in the swinging light, my poor cat yowled in terror. Her grey fur stood out wildly. She turned, her claws scrambling madly on the flagged stone floor. Hissing, she bolted towards me, dashing between my feet, down the corridor and out of sight.
Relieved that sheíd escaped both death and Petrification, I tiptoed closer to my office, meaning to shut the door before the monster could slither out into the corridor. Donít ask me why I thought that a mere wooden door could prevent the King of Serpents from going anywhere that it wanted to go. I suppose I wasnít thinking very clearly.
I was just about to squeeze my eyes shut and make a grab for my door handle, when I saw the terrifying shadow simply disappear. Trembling with fear, I peeked into my office. The room was empty, though the lantern on the ceiling was still swinging.
One of my file cabinet drawers was slightly open.
My heart pounding as if it would burst, I realized the truth. What Mrs. Norris and I had just seen wasnít a Basilisk at all.
It was a boggart.
Quickly, I hurried into my office and slammed the file drawer shut.
Poor Mrs. Norris! Sheíd undoubtedly crept off to some secret hiding place to recover from her fright. A boggart will take on the shape of any creatureís worst fear. Mrs. Norris is as brave as a lioness. It would take nothing less than a Basilisk to reduce her to such a state.
Any properly trained wizard worth his wand would be able to make short work of a boggart. Unfortunately, I am not a trained wizard. Iím just a Squib.
Snarling and muttering to myself, I stalked through the corridors as the student brats swept themselves out of my way like so much dust. I knew that there was really only one thing that I could do in this situation.
One of the Professors had let it be known that he was looking for a boggart. Iíd been avoiding him as much as possible, ever since the start of the September term. There was too much history between us. Too many pranks and too many detentions. But I had to make certain that this wretched boggart would not trouble my sweet cat again!
I had no choice but to seek him out.
Hogwartsí latest Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor.
Every magical brat in this Castle is sure that I despise him or her. That is not true. For most of the students, my feelings go no deeper than dislike. They are annoyances. Ephemeral muddy tracks across the stone of my clean floors.
And then, there are the students that go beyond "annoyances." These brats are in a category all their own.
In one of my numerous file drawers I have made a list on a piece of midnight black parchment. In silver ink, I have written out the names of the students who have done far, far more than merely "annoy" me.
The third name from the top of that list is Remus Lupin.
Sirius Black is the first, James Potter is the second. Peter Pettigrew is fourth, right after Lupin.
The accursed Marauders.
The bane of my existence for seven seemingly endless years.
(No students, before or since, have approached their level of misconduct, until Fred and George Weasley.)
I had punished the four Marauders many times.
But I could never really win. Their spirits remained unbroken.
I reflected, without triumph, that life had done far worse to three of them than I ever could have done.
I had never learned to care much for James Potter, even after he was grown. But the manner of his death had still appalled me.
Betrayed by Sirius Black, James Potter had stood against the Dark Lord, trying to protect his pretty Lily and their baby, Harry, a boy who could be his father reborn, except for Lilyís green eyes and that scar.
And little Pettigrew. His death had shaken and sickened me. Heíd been blown to bits. Hopelessly outmatched against his former friend, Sirius Black.
Remus Lupin was the only one that remained alive or free.
The Last of the Marauders.
Professor Lupin followed me down to my office. Heíd fared far better than his friends had done. At least he lived. Still, every time I set eyes on the man, I could not help thinking that the years had not been kind to him either. He always looked tired and shabby.
Seeing him like this pleased me far less than Iíd expected. Just as with Potter and Pettigrew, it was not the sort of victory that I could take any pleasure in. Even Iím not that vindictive.
Lupin seemed unconcerned about the threadbare image he presented. He had a cheerful grin on his face, as he usually did.
As soon as Iíd gone to him and told him about the boggart in my file cabinet, his ears had pricked up with interest.
"Iíve been combing the Castle for days, looking for one," he said, grabbing a large packing case from underneath his desk. "Thank you, Mr. Filch! Letís go!"
No matter what Remus Lupin had been once, he was now a Professor. I made an effort to keep my tone respectful when I spoke to him.
"But, Professor, what do you want a boggart for?" I asked, as we made our way down to the dungeons.
"Itís for an independent study project with one of my students." Lupin said.
What sort of independent study could he do with a boggart, I wondered. He couldnít possibly be planning some sort of childish prank, could he?
Looking over my shoulder, I gave Lupin a disapproving frown. Then I sighed. It didnít matter. I just wanted the wretched thing out of my file cabinet.
"Now, the most important thing to remember, when tackling a boggart, is that laughter is your best weapon," Professor Lupin told me, earnestly.
I stopped in my tracks and stared at him.
"You sound as if youíre expecting me to help you capture this thing!" I said.
"It will be easier with two of us," Lupin replied, mildly. "Itís always best to have company when tackling a boggart. If there are two of us, weíll confuse it. The boggart wonít know which of us to attack."
"Yes, it will," I said grumpily. "It will go for the one that has no magic!"
Lupin held up his wand, to reassure me. "Donít worry, only one of needs to actually say the spell. Iím not going to allow the creature to harm you."
I have never been able to do a single spell on my own. But I can feel the strength in the magic used by the witches and wizards around me. Remus Lupin may not have looked like much. Appearances can deceive. I knew that, underneath his threadbare exterior, there was a great deal of power.
Still, it would have been much easier for me to trust Professor Lupin if all of my most vivid memories of him did not involve some prank or other.
"Riddikulus! Thatís the name of the spell," Lupin continued. "Iíll say it when we face the boggart. Youíll do fine. Try to think of something that you are afraid of, and then think of a way to make that fear seem amusing."
He had to be joking! He was asking me for one impossible thing after another! I never think about the things that Iím afraid of! Why should I hand the boggart a weapon like that? For that matter, why should I hand the last of the Marauders a weapon like that?
No, I was certainly not going to focus on my fears! Instead, I would try my best not to think of anything at all.
When we reached my office I took him straight to the file cabinet. We stood side by side. Keeping my mind a careful blank, I opened the drawer.
"Perhaps the boggart has gotten away?" I said, reaching into the drawer before Professor Lupin could stop me.
No. The boggart had not gotten away.
Suddenly there was a mirror in front of me. I was staring at my own reflection.
I saw a Squib.
Such a useless creature! What could I possibly do with my life except hard, menial labor?
Break my back like a Muggle. Slave away like a house-elf.
Mop. Scrub. Dust. Clean. Fetch and Carry.
And what if I couldnít work...!?
The image in the mirror was changing. Now, my body was wracked with illness, crippled by age.
Useless Squib. What will become of you now?
Youíll starve. Beg. Die all alone.
My reflection reached out a palsied, skeletal hand and seized me by the throat. It was shockingly strong.
"No..." I whimpered, trembling with fright.
My strangled cry was drowned out by Lupinís growl.
He reached out and grabbed the mirror away from me, pushing me back, to safety.
There was a loud, cracking sound.
In his hands, the mirror changed. He was holding a round, silvery white orb in one hand. Suddenly, his wand was in the other hand.
"Riddikulus," he said.
Rubbing my bruised throat, I stared.
"P-Professor...?" I wheezed, incredulously, almost at the same moment as he spoke his spell. "Youíre afraid of a ...cheese?"
Immediately the silvery-white orb was surrounded by nibbling mice!
Lupin dropped it on the floor and the mice worried it all around.
He was looking at me anxiously. "Mr. Filch? Are you all right?"
To my surprise, he seemed more troubled about me than he was concerned about the boggart.
"Youíre afraid of cheese!" I gasped, still rubbing my throat while I snorted with laughter.
Professor Lupin grinned at me, shaking his head.
"Well, thatís not quite the way that I expected things to go," he said. "But, being able to laugh at my fear instead of your own is close enough, I suppose. It certainly did the job."
He was right.
I should have trusted him. My laughter certainly appeared to be more than the boggart could handle.
The wry expression on Lupinís face made me almost helpless with mirth. Part of it was my relief at not being strangled. Or too sick or crippled or ancient to do my work.
And, I had to admit that the the idea of a powerful wizard like him being afraid of a simple food product... it was just too much!
I thought, surely, that my laughing would anger Lupin. Though, in all the years I had known him, I had never seen him truly angry.
He didnít get angry now, either. Quite the contrary. My laughter appeared to delight him. I realized that heíd probably never seen me laugh before.
"Oh, I fear all types of cheese, Mr. Filch..." he said, very gravely. "Roquefort. Swiss. Cheddar. Brie. Edam..."
"S-stop..." I moaned, clutching my sides. Tears were streaming from my eyes.
"Baby Gouda..." he murmured.
I doubled over, guffawing.
Lupin picked up the orb, with the nibbling mice still attached, and dropped it into the packing case. Then he sealed it, trapping the boggart neatly inside.
"I think Iíve gotten all the mice," he reassured me. "Though, if I have missed any, Mrs. Norris is bound to take care of them for you."
His expression grew concerned again. "Are you sure that youíre quite all right?"
"Fine..." I said, trying to get a grip on myself and recover from the laughing fit.
It occurred to me that heíd seen my worst fear, just as Iíd seen his. That helped me finally get myself under control.
I stared at the floor in embarrassment.
Lupin clapped me on the shoulder. "That was excellent! You did very well indeed."
"No," I protested, gruffly. "I froze. I didnít do what you said. I was trying to keep my mind empty, but i-it knew..."
He nodded sadly. "Boggarts always know. But," he continued, gently, "you recovered quickly. I had faith that you would. Youíve never proven to be anything less than a worthy adversary."
I blinked, surprised at the unexpected, evidently sincere, praise from him.
Made uncomfortable by just how much his words had pleased me, I decided to go on the offensive.
"You donít want this creature for some sort of prank, do you, Professor Lupin?" I asked. "Tell me the truth! Are you going to put it in Professor Snapeís desk? Because, if you are, then youíd better think again."
"And," I continued, "donít give me that innocent expression, either! Itís exactly the sort of thing that you would do!"
Lupin grinned at me, mischief dancing in his eyes. "You mean itís the sort of thing that I would have done... once upon a time. But, such conduct is highly unbecoming to a Hogwarts Professor. No, Mr. Filch. Severus is quite safe from me, now. You have my word. Iím a changed man."
His voice grew softer. "People do change, you know," he said.
I knew what he was thinking, because I was thinking the same thing.
The picture in the Daily Prophet. Matted hair, empty terrifying eyes staring out of a thin face that was all but unrecognizable.
People can change, all right.
Sirius Black. Everyone had seemed so surprised twelve years ago, but Iíd always considered him the worst of the lot.
Twelve years after betraying and murdering his friends, heíd done what no one else had ever done before; heíd escaped from Azkaban.
Iíd seen his picture. A rail-thin specter, now. Horribly changed, no longer remotely resembling the handsome, careless boy heíd been.
Black had kept the Castle in a constant state of fear, since the start of the September term.
The Dementors would get him eventually. They had to. Justice demanded it. Theyíd never been known to fail.
Lupinís thin face was full of sorrow. For James and Lily Potter. For Peter Pettigrew. Maybe, even for the Sirius Black heíd thought heíd known.
I sighed. I felt terribly sorry for Remus Lupin, though I would have faced a boggart alone before Iíd ever let him know it.
It was an awkward feeling, even more uncomfortable than my reaction to his praise had been.
A soft sound in the doorway made me look up.
"Ah, there you are, my sweet!" I said, to Mrs. Norris. "Weíve taken care of the boggart. It wonít bother you again."
She was still trembling a bit, and her little heart was beating faster than usual. I picked her up, cradling her, crooning softly.
She was my dear one, my brave one, my Queen of all cats...
In my concern over Mrs. Norris, Iíd quite forgotten that Professor Lupin was there, for a moment. I looked up to see him regarding me with a smile. It wasnít an unkind smile. Quite the opposite really.
I glared at him anyway.
"Well, you have your boggart, Professor, " I said, gruffly. "Donít let me keep you."
"Professor..." I added, as he turned to go. "You were always worthy adversaries too. You and the others."
He looked pleased by that, I thought.
He was evidently going to be a lot more comfortable with this mutual respect business than I was.
"Stay out of trouble..." I growled after him. "I know where thereís a lot of cheese..."
Grinning, he picked up his packing case and headed into the corridor.