The Squib and the Death Eaters

a Harry Potter fan-fic

by Ozma

Takes place in Harry's fifth year

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 wasn't here. I was on my own.

The wall behind me wasn't 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 there's one thing old Apollyon Pringle, my predecessor as Hogwarts' caretaker, drilled into me it was the importance of maintaining one's 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 I'd been brought to this place my memories grew jumbled and confused. I knew that I'd 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 fix onto.

There wasn't 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 who'd clapped these rusty chains on me.

Crabbe and Goyle, Senior. I remembered them from their student days. They'd barely changed, except for the fact that they were perhaps even bigger and stupider now. I'd known it was futile to try and fight them. But I couldn't just let them 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 wizard's 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, Goyle's 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, they're barely competent.

Oh, dear. I guess I'd made the poor ickle wizards angry! Such big brutes, both of them. You wouldn't 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.

Crabbe's nose was horribly mashed and bloodied. I'd broken his nose by smashing him in the face with my head. Hadn't 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 `em," old Pringle used to say.

I was also delighted to note that Goyle was still walking a bit hunched over. I'd 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.

"What's 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 I'd been rendered silent. Didn't they want me to talk? Wasn't that usually the whole point of the exercise? I had been very determined not to tell them anything they wanted to know, and they'd made sure that I couldn't, 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 didn't yet know why. Lucius Malfoy. Crabbe and Goyle might be fools, but Malfoy certainly wasn't. Why didn't they seem more worried about what he would say when he discovered I had no voice?

"Soon," Goyle gloated, "We'll have your tongue, Squib! And maybe your eyes, too..."

"Merlin's 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 can't take them things from him, Goyle. Not tongues and eyes."

"Well, not `tongues' anyway, since he's only got just one of `em," Goyle conceded. "But why not just one eye? He's got two of those, don't he?"

"We're 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, don't you? Well, Mr. Filch, you're really going to learn a lot tonight..."

I'd learned something already. It's 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. I've heard tell, sometimes, of "squibs" being cured. It's my humble opinion that those children were never really squibs at all. Perhaps they were just late bloomers. True squibs are actually quite rare.

I've got a wizard's lifespan, even if I can't do magic. And in my life I've had all sorts of shocks, pains and emotional upsets. I've been tossed around by a Cerebus. I've endured nearly seven years of Fred and George Weasley. Peeves torments me on a daily basis. I've seen my sweet cat hung up, stiff as a board by her tail, looking dead and stuffed. There has been times when I've thought "this is it, I'm 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 mental 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 that'll grow back, right?"

"Er," Crabbe said, "I think that's just kids' 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. They're all wizards, and I'm a squib! Does anyone really wonder why I'm 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? He's 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.

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

"Am I correct in assuming that you haven't managed to decipher all that much of `your' scroll, Lucius? He may have been damaged beyond all usefulness now."

Snape's 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 I'd 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 that'll grow back."

"Except for my tooth," I thought, on the edge of hysteria. "You idiots."

"If he dies, then none of his `bits' 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 can't 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.

Merlin's Beard! I could not be hearing this.

Despair swept over me like a Dementor's fog. Tears of helpless rage slipped from beneath my swollen lids. I'd trusted Snape. Worse yet, the Headmaster still trusted him. The pain of his betrayal was every bit as excruciating as the physical torture I'd 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 didn't 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!"

Snape's 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.

Snape's 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.

"He's 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 said, haughtily.

So... Lucius Malfoy wouldn't even have a squib like me over for a bit of torture in his best dungeon. I'd be willing to wager that this wasn't even his second-best dungeon. Isn't 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 Bartemus Crouch. He's 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 squib's 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? He's not going anywhere. It's 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.