Squib Caretaker
a Harry Potter fan-fic
by Ozma
Chapter One: Sojourns with Squibs
(Apologies to Gilderoy Lockhart)
a sequel to "Squib Puppet"
Everything really belongs to J.K. Rowling

The moment I emerged from red-and-gold into the quiet Charms
corridor, the sleek tabby cat in my arms became a lovely woman.

It was after midnight. The term was all but over; the Leaving
Feast only two days away. In a portrait on the wall across from us a
shepherdess dozed on a hillside, surrounded by her slumbering sheep. No
one else was nearby. The Castle was silent around us, or at least as
silent as the Castle ever gets. Mrs. Norris was patrolling the corridors
on her own tonight. If any students had been up to mischief, I would
find out about it tomorrow.

I was still supposed to be on light duties, but Poppy Pomfrey had
given me permission to resume my lessons with Alastor Moody. The medi-
witch had made the old Auror promise that he'd be careful with me.

Recently the lessons had demanded more of Professor McGonagall
than they did of me. Mad Eye wanted to learn more about the Doors'
effect on Animagi.

Moody had given me a simple assignment. I was to "learn to relax"
while bringing passengers through a Door. Easier said than done, but I
was trying.

Minerva's task was more challenging. She and Moody were both
trying to find out if an Animagus could learn to slowly build up
resistance to the Door's protective spells after repeated exposures.
Over the past few days Minerva and I had become old hands at going
through Godric's Door together.

Never one for taking unnecessary chances, Poppy had insisted that
Minerva should practice Transfiguring in my arms many times before we
went through the tapestry. The first time, when Minerva had emerged,
human and unconscious, I had known how to catch her without doing either
of us an injury.

Now, I supported Minerva as she put her arms around my neck. Very
wobbly, but standing on her own two feet, she rested her head against my
shoulder while she caught her breath.

"Professor?" I asked her anxiously, "are you all right?"

"Perfectly all right, Argus," she assured me.

"You did it!!" I said, proudly. "You came out standing!!"

"More or less," Minerva said. Her tone was wry.

After several minutes, her breathing returned to normal.

"Are you ready for another try?" She asked me.

Nodding, I held out my arms. Even as I did, she was simultaneously
Transfiguring and leaping into them. With her cradled against my chest,
I stepped backwards into red-and-gold once more.

The place inside the Doors is a realm that I only see when I
travel with passengers. Godric's Door is all red and gold within. Moving
inside the tapestry has grown easier with practice, or perhaps I am
merely getting used to slogging my way through. Carrying Minerva through
this red and gold place was like wading through waist deep water.

She and I emerged into the Great Hall, in back of the staff table.
The crew of house-elves that were busy dusting and sweeping under the
silvery moon, which was visible on the enchanted ceiling above, glanced
over at us. Several smiled, but none of them paused in their work.

From the Great Hall, we went next to the trophy room. Nearly
Headless Nick and the Grey Lady stood there, deep in conversation. Both
ghosts nodded gravely when they saw us.

After that we went to the Astronomy tower. Each time Minerva
emerged from the tapestry, she was human and wobbly, but also
triumphantly awake and aware. Each time I held her while she caught her
breath. I was proud of her progress, but she seemed unsatisfied.

"Professor, what are you trying to do?" I asked her.

"Remain a cat," she gasped. "If it's at all possible. But I can't
seem to manage it!"

Removing her wand from her sleeve, she used a Lumos spell to give
us some light. Her grey eyes, behind the square spectacles, were filled
with concern.

"Argus, are you all right? I'm sorry, it can't be easy dragging me
through time after time!"

Her solicitude for me made my heart dance. Minerva and I have
known each other for so many years. I couldn't say exactly when I first
noticed how lovely she is, or how clever. Or the way that she always
manages to be fair, even under circumstances which are driving me into
fits of rage.

It's the warm heart underneath her stern exterior that touches me
most deeply. Few of the children in the Castle, I fear, are perceptive
enough to realize how much their Deputy Headmistress cares for them.
Though her Gryffindors are aware of the pride she takes in them and
strive to be worthy of her regard.

I long to do the same! Minerva has always had my deepest respect
and admiration. Admitting, even to myself, that she has my love as well
had seemed very foolish, before now. She's a star quite beyond my reach.

Recently though, I'd begun daring to hope otherwise...

Sternly, I forced my thoughts back to the matter at hand. She had
asked me a question! Here I was, gaping at her like a mooncalf.

"I'm fine," I said. "You're the least trouble of any passenger
I've had yet. Animagi take less effort than children do, at least when
the Animagus in question isn't plummeting to his death."

"Speaking of the Pup," Minerva said, dryly, "He's not going to
give you any peace once he discovers that it's possible to fight the
effects of the protective spells, with practice."

"It's going to be difficult taking him over and over again, a
creature his size," I grumbled. "I don't fancy pulling him along on a
leash. Perhaps I can find a saddle somewhere and ride him!"

Minerva laughed.

"It's all very well for you to be amused," I said, testily,
sitting on the Observatory floor. "Moody and the Pup don't see *you* as
Hogwarts' own version of the Knight Bus!"

Still chuckling softly, Minerva sat beside me to rest. I frowned
at her, though it was only for effect. I really liked to hear her laugh.

"Perhaps," she suggested, "you should offer us toothbrushes and
hot chocolate. Or little paper sacks, in case of sickness."

She paused, thoughtfully. "The Knight Bus could do with those as

I shook my head. "No paper sacks, thank you very much. You and the
Pup don't need them. I'm not planning to take any passengers who do!"


Alastor Moody had said that he'd be tracking us this evening. He'd
been mysterious about his methods, when I'd asked him. The absence of
the usual red, grapefruit sized Secutus spells that he usually chased me
with, was puzzling.

Minerva and I were in front of a mirror on the fourth floor when
we heard the *clunk* of Moody's claw-footed wooden leg approaching.

When Mad Eye came into view he was accompanied by Callandra
Moffitt. That answered my question. Callandra had been diligently
practicing her Searching during the weeks that I'd spent recuperating
from Lucius Malfoy's double Curse. She was now able to find many of her
fellow Gryffindors, including her Head of House.

I knew that it wasn't me she'd been able to follow. Giving off no
magical traces, I was quite invisible to Callandra's Searching.

Obviously the child was up and around at this hour with both Mad
Eye's and Minerva's permission. Nevertheless, I frowned.

"She should be asleep!" I grumbled.

"Only two more days until she goes home," Moody said,
unrepentantly. "I mean to make the most of 'em."

"What a time I had following you, Professor!" Callandra was saying
to Minerva. "You've been all over the Castle! And there were times when
you just disappeared!"

The girl turned to me, wide-eyed. "Professor Moody told me how you
did that, Mr. Filch!"

"H-He did?" I wheezed.

I knew that the old Auror considered the students of Hogwarts to
be an untapped resource, and I agreed with him, to a point, but I didn't
like the idea of him simply telling the child! What would the Headmaster

Moody gave me his knife-slash of a grin. "Albus said that I had
his approval to add Miss Moffitt to the List," he told me, making me
wonder if he could read minds. "The lass can keep a secret. Potter,
Granger, Ron and Ginny Weasley already know. So does Longbottom."

"Neville too?" Callandra was delighted.

"Show her, Filch," Moody said, gruffly. "Call your Doors."

"It's all right, Argus," Minerva encouraged me, briskly.

I sighed. If Minerva approved as well, any protests I made would
be futile.

Well, at least Callandra wasn't finding out in the middle of some
life-and-death crisis, as the other children had done, I thought.

In answer to my summons, the other three tapestries appeared on
the corridor wall beside red-and-gold.

"Professor Dumbledore wanted you to have a look at 'em, lass,"
Moody said. "Tell us what you can."

Tentatively, Callandra ran her hands along each Door. She was
silent for many minutes. Minerva, Moody and I watched with interest. I
was reminded of the way that the Headmaster and Severus Snape had
examined the Doors the day after I'd learned how to summon them.

The ways of Squibs like Callandra and me are a mystery to most
wizards. We're learning that not all of our talents are alike. Older and
more experienced, I am able to identify many different types of spells
more easily than Callandra can do. (Having spent so much of my life at
this school hasn't hurt, either.)

But, the child's ability to distinguish one wizard's magic from
another's can let her sense things that I cannot.

After a while, Callandra spoke hesitantly. "I know you believe
that each of these Doors was made by a different founder," she said.
"And each one was definitely warded and used by a different person. But,
under those traces, I think that they were originally the work of a
single hand."

As she spoke, Callandra's slim, brown hands rested on black-and
yellow. "Hers."

Minerva and Moody looked surprised, but I smiled. I thought of a
workroom hidden somewhere in the Castle, a place that I'd only been able
to reach through Helga's Door. A Weaver's room, filled with sunlight and
the scent of flowers, though the loom was now empty and the spinning
wheel now stood idle.

"She made her own, and gave the other three theirs as gifts..."
Minerva murmured.

"An interesting bit of information for Albus," Moody's gruff voice
was pleased.

I saw that Callandra's examination of the tapestries had tired
her. The child was yawning.

"All right, lesson's over!" I said, firmly. "Off to bed with you

"You could bring me back to Gryffindor tower straight away,"
Callandra suggested shyly. "The Door's protective spells don't hurt
people like us."

I glowered at her.

Callandra might be a Squib like me, but she's also every inch a
Gryffindor. Show any of Godric's chosen something potentially unpleasant
and dangerous and they can't wait to try it.

The child looked hopeful, Minerva looked encouraging and Moody
looked smug. He'd promised he'd never ask me to take passengers again,
or trick me into doing it either. He never had to. He was adept at
getting others to do their own asking.

"Argus," Minerva said, reasonably. "We'll never learn what effect
Godric's Door will have on her, unless you try. Don't worry. According
to all our theories, Callandra should be fine."

"Theoretically," Moody mused, "you ought to be able to take her
through any of them. Not only Godric's Door."

"No!" I snapped. "She's a Gryffindor! I'm not taking any more
chances than necessary! I'm taking her through red-and-gold!"

I realized what I'd said, and bit my tongue.


A short while later, after bidding Minerva and Moody good-night,
Callandra and I emerged from red-and-gold, directly in front of the
portrait of the Fat Lady.

Our journey had been instantaneous. Callandra was no more affected
than I was. My relief left me weak at the knees. Guesses and theories
are all very well, but I can't help but fear for the safety of anyone
who comes through a Door with me.

"Oh, that was fun!" Callandra cried. "It's a wonder that you walk

"Walking's good exercise," I said, gruffly. "The Doors do me a
favor by coming when I call. It wouldn't be right to take advantage."

Thanking red-and-gold, I sent the Door away.

Callandra smiled at me. "Good night, Mr. Filch," she said.

Nodding to her, I walked away so I wouldn't hear the password.


The night had been a busy one, and it wasn't over yet. I hadn't
reached my room when I heard an urgent mew from down around my ankles.
Mrs. Norris, clearly agitated about something, had found me. Clearly
there were matters demanding my attention that wouldn't keep until

Summoning a Door at random, (it was blue-and-copper who came) my
cat and I emerged into the corridor beside the stone gargoyle that
guards the entrance to the Headmaster's chamber.

Standing next to the gargoyle was Harry Potter.


Author's Notes:

The first part of this story was scribbled in a notebook, during the
camping trip that I've just gotten back from. I really missed having my
computer! (Along with hot running water, proper bathrooms, etc.)
Happily, I was able to go online a few times while I was camping, to
read and review some stories. The library in the town near the
campground had internet access, for which I was extremely grateful.

I don't know how fast I'll be able to update this story. Probably not as
fast as I did the previous ones.

Blue Moon: Thank you!! I'm baaack!

Lataradk: Thank you!! Yes, it would seem that Dumbledore and Moody and
Mrs. Norris are all conspiring to throw Argus and Minerva together.
Browly will probably be back... I wanted to show other elves along with
Dobby and Winky.

The break was longer than I meant it to be, due to ff.net's troubles and
a bout of writer's block. And a camping trip. Writing was something I
missed doing very much.

Jelsemium: Thank you!! Sirius will show up in a later chapter. You're
right, he was in no hurry to get well again, and leave Harry. Actually,
the term is nearly over, so Harry will be leaving before Sirius does.

Ariana Deralte: Thank you!! I'm finally OUT OF THE WOODS!!!

Gramayre: Thank you!!

Rabbit and -v-Jinx-v- Thank you!! More Minerva and Filch in this
chapter! Both still moving slowly and cautiously, although they are
slightly less clueless.

Lizard of Fire: Thank you!! Filch doesn't like taking passengers, but
he's going to have to get used to it. Poor Severus still hasn't written
his account for Moody, and Mad Eye is getting impatient.