The Sugar Quill
Author: Ozma (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Squib and the Death Eaters  Chapter: All Cats Are Grey in the Dark
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The Squib and the Death Eaters

The Squib and the Death Eaters

a Harry Potter fan-fic

by Ozma

Takes place in Harryís fifth year

Chapter 1 of 3: All Cats Are Grey in the Dark

Everything in this story really belongs to J.K. Rowling

 

I was chained up in a shabby excuse for a dungeon. No more character to the place than a hole in the ground. Oh, sure, it was dark and gloomy enough. And terribly cold. I could see mist in the air from every ragged breath I took. Then again, it was the middle of the night in early December. The darkness and the bitter cold could be taken as a given. So, no extra points there.

This dungeon was nearly a ruin, falling down from neglect. Even from the lower chamber I could see the snowy night sky through matching gaps in the floor and roof of the chamber above. The walls were broken and crumbling in many places. Hagrid might have been able to knock some of them down with a couple of good kicks. Too bad Hagrid wasnít here. I was on my own.

The wall behind me wasnít one of the crumbling ones. And, attached to the wall, the chains that bound my hands and feet were also strong, no matter how hard I pulled against them. But they were rather rusty, and could have done with some oil and polish. If thereís one thing old Apollyon Pringle, my predecessor as Hogwartsí caretaker, drilled into me it was the importance of maintaining oneís tools.

All in all, this dungeon was hardly worthy of the name. It was a furtive sort of place. Not much chance of lingering on in this filthy pit for years, sleeping on dirty straw and taming rats with dry bread crusts. Magic is something I can feel on my skin, though I have never once felt it inside me. Dark magic had soaked into the walls down here; ugly spells that chilled me more than the cold, and crawled over me like hundreds of small bugs. Death in this hole would brutal and swift. What was left of me would likely be transfigured and hidden elsewhere, quickly, in a shallow grave. Possibly before another night fell.

I knew that I would probably never see my sweet Mrs. Norris or Hogwarts Castle again.

When I tried to recall how Iíd been brought to this place my memories grew jumbled and confused. I knew that Iíd been safe at Hogwarts earlier in the evening. I felt certain that Mrs. Norris was still there, safe. It was one of the few comforting thoughts I could grasp.

There wasnít much else that I could be sure of. I clearly remembered being anxious about something very important I had to do. And the next thing I knew I was locked in a desperate struggle with the two trollish wizards whoíd clapped these rusty chains on me.

Crabbe and Goyle, Senior. I remembered them from their student days. Theyíd barely changed, except for the fact that they were perhaps even bigger and stupider now. Iíd known it was futile to try and fight them. But I couldnít just let them just have things their own way. When my efforts to defend myself physically ended in failure I resorted to squirming around like an eel to avoid the chains, and peppering Crabbe and Goyle with curses. Compared to a true wizardís curses, my own are feeble things. Just words, no magic behind them. Though I do try my best to compensate for my lack of magic with creativity.

After a royal struggle, Goyleís silencing curse had hit me with the force of a backhanded slap, robbing me of my voice. And then Crabbe had cursed the chains onto me so firmly that the rusty things seemed almost as if they had been bonded with my wrists and ankles. It was uncertain whether either effect had been completely intentional. Crabbe and Goyle themselves had seemed a bit taken aback at how effective their curses were. I could understand their surprise since, as wizards go, theyíre barely competent.

Oh, dear. I guess Iíd made the poor ickle wizards angry! Such big brutes, both of them. You wouldnít think that chaining up an old Squib like me could have given them so much trouble. Like the dungeon around us, they were pathetic.

Heavy feet lumbered through the chamber above. My vision was blurred and my left eye was swollen shut, but I could still see the flickers of torchlight through the holes in the ceiling. Oh, lovely. My tormentors had returned for another go-round.

The two of them moved carefully down the treacherous, crumbling stairs and set the torches that they carried into brackets on the wall. Crabbe was also carrying a large, heavy bag, which he set down with a thud. Then they stood there, eyeing me with baleful expressions.

Crabbeís nose was mashed and bloodied. Iíd broken his nose by smashing him in the face with my head. Hadnít done my head any good, but the sight of that nose cheered me up a bit. "We must take our joys wherever we can find Ďem," old Pringle used to say.

I was also delighted to note that Goyle was still walking a bit hunched over. Iíd been able to get one really good kick in before Crabbe had gotten the chains on my feet. Heh. Maybe there would be no more little Goyles to darken the corridors of Hogwarts. I knew that my successor as caretaker, whoever he might be, would appreciate that.

"Got anything to say for yourself, Squib?" Goyle jeered.

"Whatís the matter?" Crabbe added. "Your cat got your tongue?"

This witticism made both of them roar with laughter.

They did not seem to mind that Iíd been rendered silent. Didnít they want me to talk? Wasnít that usually the whole point of the exercise? I had been very determined not to tell them anything they wanted to know, and theyíd made sure that I couldnít, even if I wanted to! Could these two really be that incompetent?

I knew who had probably set these brutes on me, even if I didnít yet know why. Lucius Malfoy. Crabbe and Goyle might be fools, but Malfoy certainly wasnít. Why didnít they seem more worried about what he would say when he discovered I had no voice?

"Soon," Goyle gloated, "Weíll have your tongue, Squib! And maybe your eyes, too..."

"Merlinís Beard!" I thought, my heart beginning to pound.

"Er, wait a minute..." Crabbe said.

"Yes, please do!" I thought. "Wait as long as you like."

"We canít take them things from him, Goyle. Not tongues and eyes."

"Well, not `tonguesí anyway, since heís only got just one of Ďem," Goyle conceded. "But why not just one eye? Heís got two of those, donít he?"

"Weíre supposed to start only with the bits that can grow back again." Crabbe said. He was kneeling down, rummaging in the big bag. The torchlight glittered on a lot of sharp things inside.

Crabbe reached into the bag, smiling, to pull out the tools he wanted to use. He walked closer. I pressed back against the cold stones.

"I remember what you used to say, back when we was at school, Mr. Filch. Pain is the best teacher." His voice was much more nasal than usual, thanks to his broken nose.

"You probably still say that to the students, donít you? Well, Mr. Filch, youíre really going to learn a lot tonight..."

Iíd learned something already. Itís quite possible to scream without making a sound.

******

In the wizarding world, parents who fear that their child might be a Squib will often do things to frighten the child, to shock the magic in them awake. Iíve heard tell, sometimes, of "Squibs" being cured. Itís my humble opinion that those children were never really Squibs at all. Perhaps they were just late bloomers. True Squibs are actually quite rare.

Iíve got a wizardís lifespan, even if I canít do magic. And in my life Iíve had all sorts of shocks, pains and emotional upsets. Iíve been tossed around by a Cerberus. Iíve endured nearly seven years of Fred and George Weasley. Peeves torments me on a daily basis. Iíve seen my sweet cat hung up, stiff as a board by her tail, looking dead and stuffed. There have been times when Iíve thought "this is it, Iím about to be either a dead Squib or a live wizard!" But, if there is any magic inside me at all, it has just gone right on sleeping.

Crabbe was right, for probably the first time in his life. It was an educational evening indeed. I was able to add several items to my imaginary file drawer of "Torments I Can Endure While My Magic Sleeps."

The nails were ripped from my fingers. And then from my toes. Hanks of hair were torn from my head.

Kept upright only by those rusty chains I listened, barely conscious, while Crabbe and Goyle discussed other options.

Goyle was still holding my chin. "Teeth are something thatíll grow back, right?"

"Er," Crabbe said, "I think thatís just kidsí teeth. Maybe one tooth would be all right. Get us a nice big one. If it turns out useless, we can always keep it. For a souvenir, like.""

How men like these two can manage to be born wizards and scrape through the finest school of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Europe is completely beyond me. Not only that, they managed to find witches willing to marry them. And then they successfully reproduced, creating nearly exact younger copies of themselves! Magical younger copies, naturally. Their junior versions were currently fifth year students at Hogwarts. Theyíre all wizards, and Iím a Squib! Does anyone really wonder why Iím so bitter?

Goyle reached into my mouth and grabbed one of my back teeth, a big molar, with something that felt like pliers. He pulled. I struggled and coughed and spat blood all over my tormentors. And still, no magic rose inside me.

A short while later they decided that strips of my skin would also count as "something that would grow back."

Soon after that I passed out and did my best to stay that way.

******

Voices. I could hear voices through a haze of agony. One of them was very familiar. A deep voice I heard every day. It sounded furious.

"What have you fools done? Heís nearly dead from misuse!"

That was Professor Snape! What was he doing here, in this terrible place? Had he come to get me out of here, to take me back to Hogwarts? For a moment, I dared to hope so.

A second voice. Slow, drawling, elegant. Lucius Malfoy.

"Heís still breathing, Severus. My scroll specifies the use of a living Squib, not necessarily a healthy one. And heís certainly more manageable this way. He gave Crabbe and Goyle quite a bit of trouble, earlier."

"Am I correct in assuming that you havenít managed to decipher all that much of Ďyourí scroll, Lucius? He may have been damaged beyond all usefulness now."

Snapeís voice was even colder than this pit of a dungeon, icy enough to freeze whatever blood still remained inside me. He sounded utterly indifferent to my fate, and all too comfortable with the sort of company he was keeping.

The shock of this would have made me gasp out loud, if Iíd had a voice. Trust is not something that comes to me easily. But Severus Snape was one of the few people I trusted. My mind rebelled against what I was hearing. This could not be happening.

"We did what we were supposed to do." This was Goyle. "We only took bits off him thatíll grow back."

"If he dies, then none of his Ďbitsí will grow back," Snape snarled. "Do the two of you understand that? I am making an effort to use words with only one syllable!"

"We can get another Squib if this one snuffs it, Professor." This was Crabbe, sounding sullen.

"Or maybe a Muggle," added Goyle. "Since Squibs are kind of thin on the ground. Why canít we just use a Muggle?"

Snape made a hissing sound of pure disgust.

Malfoy addressed his underlings. "Muggles are plentiful, yes. Unfortunately, according to the scroll, only a Squib will do."

I heard another disgusted hiss from Professor Snape. "Lucius! What am I expected to do with these dirty, badly mangled bits of nail and hair and skin? These two incompetent trolls are clumsier than anyone in my first year potions class! If you truly want these experiments to bear fruit, then the ingredients for the potion must be carefully extracted, under the proper conditions! And I will need to know much more than you have already told me about the process."

There was a pause.

"You are becoming very tiresome in your insistence on seeing my scroll, Severus." Malfoy said languidly.

"Unless you allow me to see it for myself I will be stumbling ineffectually around in the dark, a blind man led by another blind man! Do you wish me to get results suitable enough for you to bring before Lord Voldemort?" Snape asked him.

Merlinís Beard! I could not be hearing this.

Despair swept over me like a Dementorís fog. Tears of helpless rage slipped from beneath my swollen lids. Iíd trusted Snape. Worse yet, the Headmaster still trusted him. The pain of his betrayal was every bit as excruciating as the physical torture Iíd already endured.

And, still my magic slept.

"Lucius," Snape was saying, "I will not wait around in this forsaken place for the rest of the night. If you will not agree to let me have the scroll then I will take no further part in this matter."

Malfoy didnít appear to like the sound of that. "You know as well as I do that no one else could possibly be trusted with such delicate and difficult work! Much of the scroll is indecipherable! Parts of it are in code, and other parts are missing! You are the only one who could possibly make sense out of the few pieces of the puzzle that are ours to work with!"

Snapeís voice took on the silky tones I knew well. "Then why not make me your full partner in this enterprise? And if our experiments with the scroll fail, there will be the two of us to share the blame, as equals. Surely, you can see how this will be an advantage to you."

"Share the credit, share the blame?" Malfoy sounded reluctant, but also like he was thinking things over.

I could barely think at all.

Snapeís hand was on my face, turning it towards the torchlight. I was able to get my right eye slitted open a little, just enough to look at him. I wished I had the strength to spit.

"Heís nearly unusable, Lucius." He might have been talking about a broken broom. "I do not understand why you insist on keeping him in this place when you have a perfectly serviceable dungeon in the Manor."

"This is one ...project that I have no intention of bringing home with me," Lucius Malfoy said, haughtily.

So... Malfoy wouldnít even have a Squib like me over for a bit of torture in his best dungeon. Iíd be willing to wager that this wasnít even his second-best dungeon. Isnít it comforting to know that some old wizarding families really keep to their standards?

"How long do you intend to leave him down here?" Snape asked, sounding as if the answer hardly mattered.

"Not long. It would be too great a risk," Lucius Malfoy said. "Albus Dumbledore is no Ludo Bagman. Heís not one to let members of his staff go missing for months and do nothing to find them. Dumbledore will make certain that his Squib is found, dead or alive. Nothing connected to the Squibís disappearance must lead him back to the Manor."

"True..." Snape murmured. "And Dumbledore will move quickly. You really do not have much time."

There was another pause.

"All right, Severus," Malfoy said, sighing. "We shall be partners. Come, I shall take you to fetch the scroll."

In a different tone he addressed Crabbe and Goyle. "You two, stay here and guard the Squib. We shall return shortly."

I could hear footsteps receding, and the sound of Malfoy and Snape climbing the stairs.

I was alone with Crabbe and Goyle again, but apparently I was no longer in any condition to be an interesting plaything.

Once Malfoy was out of earshot, Goyle started grumbling.

"No reason we have to stay down here with him, is there? Heís not going anywhere. Itís a bit warmer upstairs. We can have a fire."

They left the lower chamber as well, taking the last torch and leaving me in darkness. It hardly mattered.

*******

"Pain is an excellent teacher." Itís something Iíve often said to the students at Hogwarts, the bad ones and the unlucky ones who find themselves handed over to me for a detention. I make them scrub bedpans in the hospital wing, or polish regiments of awards and trophies. Without magic. Until their nails crack and their skin blisters and their fingers bleed. They wash windows and scrub floors and scour walls with caustic potions and cleansers that leave their hands chapped, red and sore. And all the hard work makes their backs ache and their poor little knees throb for days afterwards. The brats hate the sight of me. I couldnít care less.

I clean everything at the Castle without magic. Every day. Itís my job. Donít have much of a choice, do I? The students act as though itís torture. They donít know what real torture feels like. Even if the Headmaster would let me put the brats in chains, the chains would be clean and polished. I wouldnít leave the little brats locked up all alone in the dark, either.

All right, maybe my office back at Hogwarts is rather dark and depressing. Itís a dungeon! I can hardly paint the place yellow and plant pretty flowers, can I? But itís a clean dungeon. Not too cold, and itís dry. Not open to the sky, with the snow falling in. Itís not like this place.

Cold. Iím so cold. Canít feel my hands or my feet any more. Maybe thatís a good thing, considering whatís been done to them. I canít feel much of anything any more.

The Headmaster will look for me. Even Malfoy said so. Thatís some comfort, even though I know not even Dumbledore will be able to find me before I die.

I hope I die soon. They need me alive.They said so. I want to die, just to spite them. Lucius Malfoy. Professor Severus Snape. I trusted the Professor, stupid old fool that I am.

Maybe I can hang on long enough to tell the Headmaster what Snape really is.

A Death Eater...

Thereís some noise from the chamber above me. My captors, Crabbe and Goyle, Senior, went up there because itís warmer than down here. They had a fire, but they still complained about the cold. It seemed like they didnít really want to be here either. Well, sorry, gentlemen, itís been a rough night all around. You will be getting no sympathy from me.

More noise from above. The voices had gotten louder.

"Whatís that? I saw something moving!" That was Crabbe.

"I didnít see anything." That was Goyle.

"Over there! Something small!" Crabbe said. "Looked like a cat..."

Goyle laughed. "Maybe itís the old Squibís mangy cat come to rescue him!"

"Not funny. Something else is here with us."

"I donít.... wait, whatís that...?"

Suddenly, there was a lot of noise from above. Crashes, thuds, shouts. A flash of light that I saw though my slitted right eye. The unexpected commotion made my heart beat rapidly and the silence, after all the noise finally died down, was eerie.

I heard the sound of soft little feet padding down the uneven stone stairs. It was a familiar sound. Goyle was right, I thought, incredulously. It is a cat. I could tell, even though I could barely see, that this cat was not my beloved Mrs. Norris. But it was another lovely lady I knew.

She stood at the foot of the stairs, where the cat had stood only a moment before. Tall, black haired Minerva McGonagall.

"Lumos!"

The tip of her wand glowed in the darkness.

"Mr. Filch...?" she said, looking at me, her voice full of pity and horror.

I supposed that I must look like something no self-respecting cat would want to drag in.

"Letís get you out of here..." she said, fiercely.

The chains remained stubbornly attached to my wrists and ankles when she tried a spell to remove them. Practical as ever, she simply blasted the other ends of the rusty chains right out of the wall.

With my only support removed, I fell forward, the chains still attached to me. She caught me and gently lowered me to the floor. The she sat beside me, rested my head against her knee, and aimed her wand at the wall.

"Destruo!" she said. The power of her spell blew past me like a warm wind. Parts of the wall, specifically the places where the chains had been attached, crumbled. It looked as if the chains had been wrenched out of the weakened wall by simple, brute force.

"Thereís very little time," McGonagall said. "Iíve taken care of those two upstairs, but Malfoy could be back at any moment.You will need strength enough to run."

I gave her the most polite look of disbelief I could manage, under the circumstances.

"Donít worry, you wonít need to run far. This will help you. Just a sip, now," she coaxed me softly. "Severus told me that a sip would be enough."

"Severus?!!" My cry was silent, my voice was gone. Weakly, I twisted away from the small vial she had pressed to my mouth. Snape was a traitor. I would not drink anything he had prepared! Had that snake set a trap for her too? My lips moved silently, begging her to run, before it was too late!

"Mr. Filch! ...Argus. Please. Thereís more going on here right now than I can possibly explain. Thereís no time. Drink the potion!"

I writhed, nearly wrenching the vial out of her hand.

"Oh, dear. Iím sorry about this, Argus." She pinched my nose, grabbed my chin and forced my mouth open. When she saw the mess left by Crabbe and Goyleís quest for a souvenir Squib-tooth she said a word that I didnít think she knew. But she didnít let go of me.

Iíve always appreciated Professor McGonagallís firm, no-nonsense approach to things. Though I canít say I enjoyed having her use that approach on me very much. In spite of my desperate struggles a few drops of the potion got down my throat. I coughed and sputtered, twisted out of her lap and curled into a ball on the freezing stone floor.

"I can imagine what you must think of him at the moment..." McGonagall said softly, her hand resting on my back. "But try to listen. He is walking a dangerous path, doing his best to get all of us out of this alive. He can be trusted, believe me."

"Maybe Snape wants both of us dead!" I thought miserably. I lay, huddled, waiting for the potion to kill me.

Instead I felt my pain recede. It wasnít gone, it had just become ...unimportant. A thing that could be ignored and dealt with later. Very much to my surprise, I found that I could sit up. In a few moments I felt strong enough to stand. Dazed, disbelieving, I tottered to my feet. I was even able to support the extra weight of the rusty chains that were still attached to my wrists and ankles.

"The effects will not last long. A few minutes only. Severus told me that giving you any more would be too dangerous," McGonagall warned me softly. "When it wears off, you may feel even weaker than you did before. We must hurry!"

She helped me up the stairs. Snapeís potion was making me feel very strange. Things seemed to be happening in a dream. I noticed how she moved carefully up the stairs, mindful not to step in any of the snow that had drifted in through the broken roof. It dawned on me that she was being very deliberate about not leaving any human footprints. Though she had left footprints in the snow when sheíd come down to the lower chamber as a cat. And she didnít seem too worried about the bloody footprints that my bare, mangled feet were leaving on stone and snow alike.

"They must not know the truth of how you managed to escape," she whispered in my ear. "In order to keep all of us safe, you must appear to have had no help from any witch or wizard at Hogwarts..."

Weíd reached the upper chamber. Crabbe lay sprawled against one wall, and Goyle lay crumpled in front of the fireplace.

Both of them had been knocked senseless. Size and strength arenít everything. McGonagall had more power in her little finger than either of those two had in their over-large, brutish bodies.

"Can you stand on your own now?" She asked me. "Do you think you can run?"

I nodded.

"You must follow me across the small clearing, to the grove of birch trees. Thereís a stream over there. Run to it as quickly as you can. I do not know much longer Severus will be able to delay Mr. Malfoyís return. There are protective spells around this place to prevent anyone from Apparating and Disapparating. But I can take both of us to safety when we reach the stream. Do you understand?"

Iíd never heard of anyone being able to Apparate with a passenger. But, though I still wasnít sure if I trusted Snape, I trusted McGonagall completely. I nodded at her.

"Good," she said, approvingly. She looked at me as if I was a comrade in arms, and not just a useless Squib whoíd gotten himself caught by Death Eaters and needed to be rescued. In spite of everything I felt a wave of pride when she looked at me like that. As if I was one of her Gryffindors. I did not want to disappoint her.

McGonagallís eyes twinkled. "They mustnít know the truth," she whispered, "but we can leave them an explanation of sorts..."

Suddenly, a tabby cat was standing there. Giving me a look that said "Follow!" she bounded away from the small, ruined tower in which Iíd been imprisoned.

Maybe it was Snapeís potion making me giddy. But the idea that Malfoy would return to find me gone, my chains ripped from the wall and my bare, bloody footprints running away, led by the prints of a running cat, made me want to laugh. I didnít envy Crabbe and Goyle when they had to explain that their captive had been rescued by his cat!

I thought that we were safe. I should have known better.

We heard the voices before we reached the grove of birch trees near the stream that marked the Apparition point. Malfoy and Snape. Through the swirling snow they stared at us. Malfoyís face was a study in disbelief. Snape, standing slightly behind Malfoy, wore an expression of dismay.

Perhaps there were things going on here that I didnít understand. But I knew that I wouldnít let them take me again. And there was no way that I would ever let them take Professor McGonagall.

Malfoyís wand was suddenly in his hand, but I was on him before he could do anything. The chains lent me weight and momentum. We crashed together to the frozen ground. I smashed one manacled wrist against his forehead, with all the strength I could manage.

It wasnít enough. He was down, but not out. Iíd been warned that the potionís invigorating effect would be a brief one. But, the agony sweeping over me as my wounds made themselves felt once more, was still a terrible shock. Malfoyís fist slammed against my jaw, on the same side as my missing tooth. This new pain, added to all the others, left me so dazed and weak I could barely move. Everything around me seemed to be happening very slowly. Nearby I could see Snape trying to grab McGonagall. It seemed, for a moment, as if the man and the cat exchanged a glance; an apology given and an apology accepted.

And then the cat yowled like a mad thing, and clawed viciously at his face. Cursing fit to make a goblin blush, Snape flung McGonagall away from him. He put a hand to his face, feeling the bleeding gashes that raked across his cheek, narrowly missing his eye.

"Having some trouble there, Severus?" Malfoyís drawling voice sounded amused. He got up, leaving me lying very still in the snow at his feet.

"Iím not the one who canít even lock up one old Squib properly!" Snape snarled, one hand pressed against his wounded face. "And if the old manís miserable cat could find her way here, can Dumbledore himself be far behind? Youíve ruined everything! Wait... what are you doing?"

Malfoyís wand was pointing at my head. "That should be obvious. I am disposing of the evidence, Severus. Finding another Squib for us to experiment on will be difficult, but not impossible. At least the next one will have a much safer master than Albus Dumbledore. Avad..."

I was grateful that at least McGonagall had gotten away. She would be able to tell the Headmaster what had happened. I gave myself up for dead.

"Wait, Malfoy!" Snape strode over furiously, slapping the other manís wand hand down. "The scroll will be useless without him! I refuse to wait until we can locate another Squib. I have a better idea. Leave him to me."

His tone became as smooth as black silk. "I already have the scroll. I can perform a Memory Charm on the old man. I can bring him back to Dumbledore myself. After he heals I can experiment on him at my leisure."

Malfoy sounded incredulous. "You would conduct those types of experiments? Right under Dumbledoreís overly long and crooked nose?"

"Why not?" Snapeís eyes glittered. "Do you really want to lose this Squib and have to start all over again with nothing?"

"You never cease to amaze me," Malfoy said, sourly. "If I agree to your plan, then I do have nothing. You have your knowledge of potions, the old man and the scroll. Everything! If your experiments are successful then our Lord will be very pleased with you. And I am out of the picture entirely!"

His eyes raked over Snape. "All right, Severus. Well played.Youíve won. But, beware, for the prize is dangerous. If you fail in this task, you fail alone. I will not stand between you and Lord Voldemortís displeasure."

"That is exactly what I expected to hear from you, Lucius. But Iím not going to fail."

They stared at each other for a moment or two longer. Finally, Snape said, "Go. I must take him back to Hogwarts while thereís still some life left in him. I will keep you informed of my progress."

"Best of luck, Severus," Malfoy said. He gave Snape a mocking bow and Apparated.

I didnít hurt so much any more. I could barely see Snape standing over me. My hearing seemed to be deserting me as well, because I heard him sigh and it seemed to be coming from a long way off.

"Filch..." Snape said, faintly, "you troublesome old ...git." I was dimly aware of something warm being wrapped around me. His cloak.

"Minerva, take him, quickly. Iíll follow you."

It was the last thing I heard.

To Be Continued

//
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