Fandom: Harry Potter
Category: Angst/POV (most of it is in POV, anyway)
Rating: PG or PG-13, I guess. Filch is a bitter old man with no reason to mind his language.
Author's notes - The pairing is completely up to the reader to decide. It might be a slash pairing, a het pairing, unrequited love, whatever. It's really only very lightly implied.
The bird keened, a mournful sound in the normally bright office. Slowly, the white-bearded man turned his head to look at the phoenix, for once looking very, very old. He blinked when he saw what had caused Fawkes to cry out.
One of the school owls, in fact - an old, tired-looking creature that could no longer manage long distances, and was restricted to inter-castle deliveries.
But why send an owl, rather than contact him via fireplace, or come in person? Curiously, he lifted the letter. The envelope was grubby and crinkled, and the handwriting spidery and scrawled, as bitter and unpleasant to look at as its owner. Only one person in the castle took such perverse pride in being so outstandingly unbearable.
A man unfortunate enough to be trapped his entire life in a magical world without the magic that should have been his by blood right. The caretaker. Argus Filch.
Opening the envelope, Dumbledore sat as he adjusted his glasses, unfolded the scrunched-looking parchment inside, and began to read.
Dear Professor Dumbledore and staff.
This letter is to inform you all that Mrs Norris and I will be leaving this castle and the job we were hired for as soon as is possible. On a professional note, I would like to thank some of the staff for the leeway they allowed me in my job to put some fright into those little turds, who don't even seem to care that they've got the chance of a lifetime just to study and HAVE their magic, the ungrateful wretches. I have also left all my notes for the benefit of the next caretaker. I don't care if those Weasley twins ARE halfway through their last year, they'll find a way to make trouble. And Peeves. Because Peeves will always be here. Curse him.
On a slightly more personal note, I would like to point out that throughout this entire bloody job, of all the Ten Thousand Commandments of keeping this rotten place somewhat presentable, there was one commandment that was always number one, and never, ever varied.
Never. Trust. Peeves.
And I never did, neither. Peeves managed to trick me lots of times, he did. Guess he thought it was funny. Well ha bloody ha.
"Filch, you ought to be ashamed of yourself, you ought! Wandering around here when some ickle first-years are out of bed and running around near the Potions classrooms! Oooh, Professor Snape'll be mad at YOU!"
Can't have that, can we? Off I go, hurrying along - and off I go arse over tip, because Peeves went and put oil all over the floor right outside Snape's private chambers on the way to the Potions class. Of course, the professor comes hurrying out to see what made such a crash... well, Peeves was right about one thing. He wasn't one bit pleased.
I took it out on that scrawny Potter boy for tracking mud in after his Quidditch practice. Most of the brats would've glared at me and complained, "It's just a little mud, what's the harm in it?" Normally, so would Potter, come to think of it, for bringing him down after his happy little Quidditch pick-me-up. But this time he just looked at me, all empty-like, and spooked me out so much I doubled his detention.
Wish I hadn't now.
"Filch, you ought to run quick, you ought! There's a student who's gone and slipped on a puddle of water that Moaning Myrtle made in the girl's toilets! Looks like she's cracked her head on the sink, 'cause she isn't moving!"
Well, I was pretty sure he was lying - but what if some silly girl really had split her head open? I couldn't take the chance. So off I went. How was I supposed to know that since her own private toilet wasn't working, Professor McGonagall had to go pee somewhere else? Begging your pardon for that night, McGonagall ma'am. Didn't mean to see you without your... ah, moving on.
So anyway, when Peeves came to me two nights ago, babbling something about a student in some classroom - well, would you have believed him? Course not. I didn't neither.
Didn't believe him the second time, fifteen minutes later.
Nor the third, ten minutes after that.
Wasn't till the fourth time that I realised that Peeves usually gave up on a joke if it didn't work, and he didn't disappear and come back, as if he were going between two places at once.
Wasn't till the fourth time I realised that it was the first time I'd seen Peeves without that rotten smirk of his, without the Bloody Baron being around to shut him up.
Wasn't till the fourth time that I realised that he meant it.
So off I go, swearing to him all the way that I'd personally find a way to exorcise him, Dumbledore or no (begging your pardon Headmaster sir) if this was a joke. I told him that I didn't expect it was as bad as he made out, I didn't expect that we'd be needing more than a lovely Muggle invention called a Band-Aid. Try 'em sometime, they work.
And I was right. I didn't expect it was as bad as he said.
I didn't expect to see a kid hanging from the ceiling.
It was one of those things you see and you can't move for a full minute. There was some sort of material holding him up all right, I could see it was yanked all taut, but round the rafter and round his neck, there was nothing. Nothing you could see, anyway. I remember when that boy's father was here at Hogwarts... wonder what he'd say if he knew what his son used his Invisibility Cloak for?
His eyes were the worst, though. Mainly 'cause they were the same as when I told him off for the mud. Just as empty, just as sad. Still wearing his glasses. They were all crusted with salt. Like he cried a long time ago, and didn't bother wiping them since.
I know I scare the brats a lot with talk of the 'old punishments', but I do know actual facts about those punishments. And one of them is this - if they're executing a light, skinny person by hanging, they tie weights to their feet so that the sudden drop will break their neck. A fast, painless death. Otherwise they just end up slowly choking to death.
Funny. You'd think that with the weight of the world on this kid's shoulders, it would have shifted to his ankles, had at least that much mercy.
You know the rest, I guess. I got him down, got him to the Hospital Wing. But it was too late. Beyond help, Pomfrey wailed, between her tears. There might have been a chance he'd have lived, if she'd been able to get to him just five minutes earlier, she wailed.
Just five minutes...
God knows I never thought I'd see the day that I was wishing I'd listened to Peeves.
Curse that poltergeist, anyway. Why SHOULD I have believed him? The Ghost Who Cried Wolf.
The Boy Who Died Because The Ghost Cried Wolf.
And now the school's in shock and the oh-so-brave Gryffindors are wailing like babies. And his two best friends, the youngest Weasley boy and the frizzy-haired girl, well, they're hurting more than anyone. Not more than the boy though. I ask you, all these first-years that drooled over him, the ones he called friends, those he called family, and the one he simply referred to as 'beloved' in that pathetic little note clutched in his hand... where were they when he went to that dirty old classroom? Fat lot of good their tears will do him now.
That boy handed in his notice to get away from this place. And so am I.
After all, any school, wizard or Muggle, needs a janitor. For once in my life, I'm almost glad that I'm a Squib.
Better to be expected to be a caretaker than a Saviour. At least I can go where I like to clean without anyone but Mrs Norris expecting anything from me.
Regards, Argus Filch.
More Author's Notes: Sorry about this depressing piece, but there had been so many interesting Filch POV fics lately, I wanted to add one of my own - I don't think I did it justice, though. Should I do more on this theme - perhaps the same event or its aftermath in the POV of Peeves himself? A proper Dumbledore POV instead of just the few paragraphs I used to set this piece up with? Ron's POV? Hermione's? Malfoy? Snape? Sirius? Someone else? Do let me know. I love feedback, especially constructive crit and suggestions.