Disclaimer: I do not own anything from the Harry Potter Universe.
Many thanks to Incognito for beta-ing this for me on such short notice.
His name was Argus Filch. He was the evil, mean caretaker of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Argus was the man who sought to bring discipline within the walls of the school, to teach the children the rules and guidelines that would help them move into the real world. Of course, these values were often overlooked. They cited the professors as the ones who taught them real values. But Filch strongly disagreed. His patrolling had the majority of the students in their beds at night, with the help of Mrs. Norris. No one valued his role, though, which is why he blended into the walls of the school, into the very core.
He was the proverbial fly on the wall as the Muggles say. Argus saw the secret trysts of the student body, and of the teachers. He knew when kids were out of bed, and, if McGonagall were to allow him to put his foot down, he would capture all of them. But his form of rebellion was going after the worst of them, leaving behind the ones who committed minor fractions against the school code. He was only a man after all-one who possessed little magical abilities and the aid of an old cat.
As time passed, he watched child after child walk through the halls of Hogwarts, eventually leaving one day to become functioning adults. His yellow teeth gleamed as his mouth curled into a smile at the thought of certain cretins becoming functioning adults. They were more likely to run back to their mothers, scared of living in reality-all except the brood which would be coming back to school.
Every seven years, since the founding of Hogwarts, a reunion was held for alumni who attended within a certain seven year period. Some students attended, jumping at the chance to recapture their old school days-the days when they would wreak havoc upon their professors. This particular bunch of alumni happened to be the students who experienced the Second War: the students from 1987 to 1993, the war torn students.
"They're coming, Mrs. Norris." Argus reached down and picked up his dust-colored cat, stroking her back as she pressed herself into his chest. "The mischievous ones are coming back."
Over his many years as caretaker, Argus had yet to experience a bunch of students as interesting as that of the Second War generation. No one had yet lived up to the name of the Weasley twins in mischievousness or Potter and his friends in foolish bravery and, though he was reluctant to admit, courage. But perhaps some of the more interesting things he saw in this particular period were the various, as the young ones called it, hook ups over the years-and not just students. More than once, he had run from the sight of Madam Pomfrey giggling like a young school girl under the muted whisperings of Professor Flitwick or from Professor Trelawney's drunken nights with Professor Slughorn during his brief position as Potion's master at Hogwarts. Yes, Argus saw it all and kept it to himself, citing that he didn't want to further his devastation at the sight.
The sound of footsteps, though, suddenly drew him out of his reverie, and he watched as Headmistress McGonagall approached, hands clasped in front of her, and a stern expression on her face. She had put on her best attire for the night: a dark red dress robe with a spattering of cream lace embroidering the edges. He mentally reminded himself not to have tea with Pomona Sprout ever again. He was beginning to analyze female attire as if he were running one of those rubbish columns in Witch's Weekly. Pomona rambled incessantly over clothes, which Argus attributed to the fact that hers were always ruined during her classes, less now since Neville Longbottom was hired as primary Herbology Professor, to the gratefulness of Pomona. She said she was too old to handle anything made by students, other than seventh years.
"Argus, the carriages have arrived, and Hagrid is directing everyone inside." McGonagall fixed the sleeves of her dress robes. "I am glad you've decided to attend the reception this year. It is quite special."
"Yes, it is Headmistress," Argus wheezed, shuffling along beside McGonagall as she began to walk. "Mr. and Mrs. Potter will be attendance?"
"They said they wouldn't miss it. Why do you ask?" McGonagall paused to look at him.
"No reason, Headmistress. Simply curious," Argus said with a yellow grin. "They are a very popular couple these days, and their children are in attendance here."
McGonagall gave him a thin-lipped smile. "I didn't think you were keen on gossip, Argus."
"An old man has to have some sort of bad habit." Argus walked along beside her, feet dragging as he gently dropped Mrs. Norris to the floor and straightened the lapels of his black overcoat-the only nice set he owned. "Beside, Mr. and Mrs. Potter did get up to some mischief in their days."
"That they did." McGonagall stopped when they reached the Entrance Hall, eyes flitting across the crowd slowly coming in. "Ahh, here are some familiar faces."
And indeed, Argus watched as students passed by him, their eyes glancing at him in surprise. He always enjoyed seeing the shock that crossed their faces. He knew they expected him to be dead or retired by now. He simply smiled his crooked grin, smoothing back his thin gray hair, the bald patches less noticeable now that he began using a potion he ordered in the mail. It guaranteed fuller, voluminous hair.
"I will see you inside, Argus." McGonagall disappeared into the crowd with a small wave.
He watched as the crowd continued to pour in, his eyes taking in all the familiar faces. He saw the Patil twins, heads pressed together as they whispered to each other and a man on either side of them. It seemed that the Gryffindor Patil had married a Ravenclaw, Goldstein, and the Ravenclaw had married a Gryffindor, the Irish boy. Argus grinned at the irony. His eyes landed on the spacey blonde girl who always brought him cookies. She was quite nice. His eyes narrowed as he saw the dark Slytherin by her side, Zabini, a perplexed expression on his face as the blonde pointed out something on the ceiling. He didn't think that Slytherin was good enough, but his opinion didn't matter. Argus knew that much.
Then his gaze landed on the group of Gryffindors who had made his life utterly difficult: Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger. He knew that Granger had become Longbottom, marrying Neville in his second year of work at the school. The two lived on the grounds, but they lived elsewhere in the summer months with their daughter Lacey Longbottom. Ronald Weasley had gone on to marry Pansy Parkinson, much to the shock of the Wizarding world-according to the Daily Prophet. And Harry Potter had married Ginevra Weasley, the last girl in the Weasley lineage so far.
She was tense, and Argus knew why. Directly behind them stood the young Malfoy boy, well, old Malfoy boy now. His features were just as distinct as Argus remembered them to be: a defined nose and jawbone, white-blond hair and a stature that rivaled Potter's in height and breadth.
Argus smiled a thin, seedy smile as he watched gray eyes fix onto the shiny, long, red hair of Ginevra Potter. An uncharacteristic chuckle left his mouth when he spotted the wife of Draco Malfoy, Astoria Greengrass, staring at her husband in confusion and worry. Argus thought that she had reason to worry, especially considering what had happened in Draco Malfoy's last year at Hogwarts, a secret no one was privy to, except him, of course.
It had been in the last year of the Second War, when Potter, Weasley and Granger had run off to do heroic deeds. The castle was penetrated by evil, and Argus was forced to listen to Snape. He didn't mind so much. After all, Snape allowed him free reign of discipline, which became less and less strict when the Carrows started inflicting punishment. He may have been a strict man, but Argus didn't truly believe in torturing children. He was only talk. He would never damage the mind of young ones, even though they tortured him every day.
But during his rounds, he saw things, dark things, that no one else knew about, except the targets of the attacks. He saw the Carrows torture students in the hallways, cackles of glee coming from their mouths. He saw as students sullenly trampled the halls, eyes darting about in fear. He heard the cries of the first years, calling out for home or for a savior. Yes, he remembered what that year was like: one filled with evil and the loss of hope-or so he had thought.
One night, on his routine rounds, he had seen the Weasley girl prowling about. She was a nice sort of girl-mischievous, but nice all the same. She said hello to him in the mornings, even though he didn't respond, and she never did much damage to school property. In any case, that night he had seen an oncoming collision: the Weasley girl and Alecto Carrow. If he were the type of man to exude bravery, he would have warned her. Luckily, for her at least, someone else was walking about: a young, blond man with troubled eyes. He had managed to pull the Weasley girl into an alcove before Alecto could catch her.
Argus had stayed in the shadows, listening to the whispered words of cruelty and barbs traded. It was the usual exchange between a Malfoy and a Weasley. But the defeated thanks made his eyes widen, the whispered words being said by the Weasley girl. Malfoy had responded with silence, and Argus watched as the two parted ways, reminding himself to keep track of them, which he did.
To his amazement and amusement, a relationship had formed between the two. More than once, Argus saw them in a heated embrace and scurried off before he could see much more. He wasn't one to stick around and see the finale, especially not of underaged children. He wasn't a pervert after all. But the two kept up their friendship, or whatever the kids called it, meeting in quiet places and talking about things ranging from family to the war. Argus sometimes found himself dozing off while listening to the two talk about Quidditch. He was never a fan of the sport.
But he remembered the last day he saw the two, the day before the war came to Hogwarts. The Malfoy boy had said he was being forced to make a choice, and the Weasley girl said he made the wrong one. Argus figured it was something to do with Quidditch bets, but when he saw the sides they were fighting for, he understood. They were speaking about war, something Argus found startling. Two young lovers torn between war. It was a tale that romantic novels spoke of but never truly expressed; a concept few could grasp. No one could see the damage that war could do on love, tearing apart two people who were bound to one another in many ways.
Argus felt a twinge of sentimentality rise within his chest, quickly stomped down by the urge to vomit. He wasn't a man interested in romantic notions. In fact, they quite sickened him. But there was simply something between that Weasley girl and Malfoy boy-something that warmed the heart of even the most unromantic, disinterested man. Every time he pulled apart a snogging couple, he wondered if those two ever thought about one another. And here in front of him was the proof-the proof that whispered words in darkened classrooms and passionate embraces were not so easily forgotten.
Gleefully, he followed the throng of former students into the Great Hall. There was a constant buzz of chatter, the Irish Gryffindor hailing his friends over to the bar to have a drink-the only legal drink they would ever consume in the school. Argus did chuckle inwardly at that expression, thinking of the times he confiscated cases of liquor from the hooligans while they were on their way to their common room. Students tended to like to drink around exam week, and he was vigilante in his task of removing them from temptation.
But his eyes now only sought out the flash of red and of blond that he knew were to be close by. Slowly, he edged his way around the room and towards the bar where he saw the two, their respective spouses at their side. He paused when he reached the side of the table, blending into the shadows as he heard the Potters begin to converse, a broadening grin on his face.
"I need a Firewhisky," Ginevra breathed, pressing a hand to the tight bodice of her dress. "On the rocks, no chaser."
Harry turned and stared at her with a curious expression. "You alright, Gin?"
"Fine," she breathed. "I just regret listening to Pansy and wearing the corset under this dress. It's so bloody tight."
Harry chuckled. "I told you."
"Yes, well, if you had said more than, 'Gin, just bloody hurry the hell up and get dressed,' I might have listened." Ginevra gazed at her husband with a cool stare, lips pursed. "Oh, I forgot, the boys were waiting."
"Here." Harry set the drink down in front of her, taking a sip of his own drink. "I don't know what you wanted me to say."
"I'm not a girl who needs or even likes compliments. But every now and again when I dress up, a 'Gin, you look nice,' would be great," she said bitterly. She downed a large gulp of her drink and turned to smile at her approaching brother and his wife. "Hi, Pansy, Ron."
"Hitting the bar hard, Gin?" Ron flattened his hair, grinning when Pansy batted his hands away. "Sorry, dear."
"Stop calling me dear," Pansy said, bringing her soft black waves over her shoulders. "I find it disconcerting."
"Of course, dear," Ron said with a cheeky grin. "Let me get you a drink."
"Strawberries at the bottom. I know. We've been married for how many years?" Ron shook his head and stood next to Harry. "Everything alright, mate?"
"Fine," Harry said, tipping his drink back. "Just fine."
"Told you not to marry my sister. You can't complain about her in front of me," Ron said, grabbing the champagne and Firewhisky from the bartender. "But, uh, what's up?"
"Nothing, Ron. It's fine," Harry said, leaning against the bar and staring at his wife. "Gin and I are fine."
Argus couldn't help but disagree. As the two gentlemen continued to converse, he inched closer to the two women who were left behind, intense concentration on their faces. They were whispering to one another in hushed tones, and every now and again, he saw Ginevra's eyes drift to the head of blond a few feet away from her, well out of earshot, his wife's hand tightly clasped on his arm. Argus noted that her eyes were sad and downcast.
"Pansy, I don't know about this dress." Her eyes glanced down at the gown she wore, the dark green, almost black bodice shining under the glow of the ceilings bright stars, the bodice flowing down into a black full skirt. "It's so bloody tight."
"You look great, Ginny. Now stop fiddling," Pansy said, slapping her hand away from her stomach. "You're as bad as your brother."
Ginevra fixed her hair. "I'm nothing like Ron."
"I think you are," Pansy said, fixing a pointed gaze at the blond head at the bar. "Have you spoken to Harry?"
"And said what? Dear, I think we need a divorce because I hold some delusional thought that the man who I lost my virginity to twenty some years ago still loves me-your archenemy no less," Ginevra whispered hysterically. She sipped her drink. "I have no reason for a divorce, Pansy. This is just my life. We've hit a bump in the road is all."
Pansy wrenched Ginevra's drink from her grasp. "I think you ought to slow down."
"Don't scold me, Pansy. It might be humorous at other times but not now." Ginevra took her drink back, and Argus couldn't help but to bring a napkin to her as some of it sloshed over the cup. "Uhm, thank you, Mr. Filch."
"You're welcome," Argus intoned, stepping back as she whispered about his creepiness.
He meandered his way along the wall, closer to the Malfoys. From his time in the presence of the Potters, he gathered that Ginevra still had strong feelings for Draco Malfoy. Argus wondered if perhaps all that rot about soul mates was indeed true. If a woman could still love a man after twenty years, he would have to rethink his thoughts on the idea of love and all things related.
"Draco, this reception is a little mundane," Astoria said, clinging to his arm.
"Well, you need not have come," Draco replied dryly, clenching his drink tightly. Argus noticed the dull expression in his eyes when he looked at her, nothing like the fierceness he once saw light up those gray orbs at the sight of red hair. "I could have come without you."
"What would the public think?" Astoria scoffed. "That's a ridiculous notion, Draco."
"I don't give a flying fuck what the public thinks," Draco muttered darkly. "You should have married my mother if you care so much about image."
"Draco, pull yourself together," Astoria remarked coldly.
"I don't need to deal with you tonight, Astoria," Draco said with venom. "Go fuck the groundskeeper again."
"Draco," Astoria exclaimed, eyes darting around. "This is Scorpius's school. We need to keep up a respectable image, especially in front of our peers."
Draco downed the last vestiges of his drink before slamming it down on the bar. Argus watched as he took his arm from the vice grip of his wife's hand. With one last look of disdain, he took another drink and left the room, making his way to the large double doors and stopping briefly to converse with the dark-skinned man married to the eccentric blonde girl. Argus watched his journey across the room and out the doors, wondering if perhaps some higher being was working to bring the two old lovers together again. It was quite a coincidence otherwise, two former lovers both in unhappy marriages-a coincidence indeed.
Suddenly, a stillness overcame his section of the room. He saw that the two Indian twins were focused on something happening by the bar, and his eyes swiveled to the focal point of the room. A red-haired woman was leaning close to a black-haired man, muted, furious whispers coming from their mouths. No one could hear what they were saying, but it was quite clear that it was nothing good. Argus smiled to himself as he moved around the room with ease.
"Gin, I didn't mean to-"
"Say that I'm basically a cold fish?" Ginevra crossed her arms when the low buzz began to pick up in the room again.
"Now is not the time, Ginny," Harry said, smiling as Ginevra's former paramour, Dean something or another waved to him. "We'll talk about it when we get home."
"You just told Neville that you would be lucky to get a kiss goodnight," Ginevra said, her voice low and cold. "Why is that even necessary?"
"Gin, it's not the time," Harry said, ordering himself another drink. "I don't understand why you always have to make these public displays."
"Oh, I'm sorry for always embarrassing you, Harry. I'm sorry that I'm not my mother: the ideal wife that sits at home with the kids." Ginevra shook her head with a rueful grin. "I'm not complacent enough for you. I understand."
"Excuse me. Let me not make a scene," Ginevra whispered softly as she rose to her feet, disappearing into the crowd.
Argus followed her out of sheer amusement. Those in the crowd who saw him, whispered and pointed at the smile on his face, one not tainted by darkened thoughts. In fact, he was quite happy. He didn't know why this particular couple warranted his interest. But he chalked it up to the fact that in a time of war, a time when most were in bed crying for loved ones, these two had found solace in each other's arms-two people from opposing sides. He didn't know a heart that wouldn't soften at the idea.
He exited the room, eyes moving from side to side in order to seek out the disappearing Mrs. Potter. The click of heels on stone caught his attention, and he ventured outside where he found Ginevra removing her shoes as she walked down the steps. She held them loosely in her hand as she made her way through the courtyard that had been set up for the occasion. Argus followed, hoping that she would stumble upon the Malfoy boy, as he had exited the Great Hall, too.
The caretaker's footsteps were silent in the grass, as he walked intently behind Ginevra. She suddenly stopped, and he moved to the side, standing in the tree line. The trees had been erected for the occasion: small bushes throughout with benches in front of them. Fairy lights twinkled in the foliage, and the nearby sound of a trickling fountain could be heard. His face lit up as she continued towards the fountain where he could see the outline of a blond man. His shoulders were tense, his gaze concentrated on the clear water trickling down the stone fountain.
"You know, you smell the same," he drawled, not bothering to look at her.
"Terrible? Are you trying to say I have an odor?" A genuine grin was on her face when he turned around, offering her a wry expression.
"Yes, you smell like your brother's sweaty socks," he intoned.
"Hello, Draco," she greeted with a small smile, eyes flitting down to the ground. "It's lovely to see you."
"I might believe that if you would actually look at me," he said in amusement. She looked up, and Argus watched as Draco moved closer to her. "You look beautiful tonight, Ginny. I could barely take my eyes off you when I saw you in the hall."
"You flatter me," Ginevra said, her voice coming out in a whisper. "But I can't bloody well breathe well enough to enjoy that compliment."
Draco raised an eyebrow. "I can still take your breath away?"
"Now, now Draco," Ginevra said with a stilted laugh, "don't flatter yourself. It's the corset."
"You're wearing a corset? I thought that was for women who thought they were fat. I never pegged you for the type," Draco said, setting his drink down on the edge of the fountain.
"It wasn't my idea," Ginevra said, attempting to adjust the bodice of her dress. "You can thank your old tagalong for that."
"Vincent and Gregory? What would they have to do with your underthings," Draco said, an amused smirk crossing his face at her sarcastic, dry expression. "It doesn't surprise me that Pansy is obsessed with her image."
She winced as she seemingly moved the corset, and Argus watched in both curiosity at how a corset worked and how the night would unfold. Like a girl, he held his breath when Draco began to move closer to Ginevra, his eyes lighting up with the passion that Argus used to see in his eyes twenty years ago. Argus almost leaned forward in anticipation at what would happen next, disappointed that there was no kiss.
"How have you been Ginny?" He gazed at her intensely, and Argus could feel the heat in his corner of the garden. "Remember, I know when you're lying."
"So you know that I'm doing terribly, then?" She chuckled, the sound devoid of humor. "I thought marrying Harry was what I wanted, and now, twenty years later, I realized that I made a big mistake."
"What kind of mistake?" Draco pressed.
Argus had to inch closer in order to hear her next words. "In making you choose between me and your family. I should have understood the implications of what I was doing. I come from a huge family. I would have never been able to make the choice."
"No, wait." She held up a hand to silence him. "It was the idea that we would be on opposing sides that angered me so greatly. I knew that by choosing your family, you would have to fight against me. I was terrified, and I wasn't ready to make that sort of declaration, no matter how much I loved you."
"Turn around, love," Argus heard Draco whisper.
"Draco, what are you-"
He smirked. "Relax. There's time enough for that later. Your lips are going to turn blue if you keep gasping for breath."
"Time enough for what later? We're married, Draco." Ginevra stared up at him in confusion. "We can't just-"
"Decide to end our marriages and do what we should have done in the first place." Draco shrugged. "I can't see why not. Astoria fucks anything that walks because I won't fuck her-boniness is not attractive. And I'm assuming all isn't right in Potter-Land. No sense in fighting it."
"You're still as pompous as always," Ginevra murmured. Argus desperately wished they would stop talking so quietly. "And I don't think I can simply dump Harry and-"
"We'll work the details out later, love." He made a swirling motion with his finger. "Turn around. If your chest keeps heaving like that, we're going in the bushes."
"Prat," Ginevra said, the term lacking all hatred.
Argus's eyebrows shot up his forehead as he watched Ginevra turn around, Draco's hand immediately finding the zipper of her dress. The sound of a zipper sliding down its track filled the air, and Argus edged around the tree line to see what Draco was doing. In shock, he noticed that the Malfoy boy was loosening the strings that were attached to the material clinging to Ginevra's back. He nimbly loosened the strings and retied them, a whoosh of breath leaving Ginevra's mouth.
"Better?" Draco queried, zipping up her dress and slowly tracing his fingers up her shoulder. "I would think so."
"Much," she whispered quietly.
Argus almost wanted to yell for them to kiss, the inner romantic inside of him fighting to make its presence known. He waited in anticipation for Ginevra to turn around, her movements slow, eyes downcast. She blinked twice before gazing up at Draco, hand running up his chest to press against his cheek. Argus knew this was the dance of two lovers who hadn't forgotten each other. And finally, she leaned up and pressed a kiss to his lips, the movement soft and tender as if she were frightened he would disappear.
The thought that this came from his head made Argus balk a little. He took one last look at the entwined couple, the inner romantic in him properly sated. With a grin, he left the courtyard and walked back into the castle, fixing the lapels of his coat with a feeling of self-righteousness. He knew he did nothing but felt that his thoughts alone were enough-his thoughts of wanting the two to reunite.
"Argus, you look quite fetching tonight."
Argus turned to see Irma Pince, her beady eyes squinted together due to her lack of spectacles. She was dressed quite nicely, her prim skirt high on her waist and a ruffled blouse swathed across her upper body. He noticed that she had put on a certain amount of makeup for the occasion: her pink blush deepening to a red as she flushed beneath his gaze. He had known for quite some time of her attraction to him but thought it a ridiculous notion. He, Argus Filch, was not a man who succumbed to desires of the flesh. Then again, as he watched Irma shuffle her feet like a young girl, he wondered if perhaps, just maybe, he could live a normal life, one where he wasn't viewed as the spawn of Satan, as one Muggleborn called him. It wouldn't be entirely unbearable to have someone look at him with ardor rather than disdain.
As he thought about the couple outside in the garden, he smiled and outstretched his arm. "Irma, you look lovely. May I escort you inside?"
"I would-yes, that would be nice," Irma said, her face flushing red.
Argus bowed and walked with her, a skip in his step. He would have to write an anonymous letter to the two young lovers. They inspired him to go after his own romance. If two people could come together after so many years, he could start a romance in his old age. It wasn't entirely impossible. Love wasn't impossible.
This story was written for the DG Forum Fic Exhange on FFN.
Spock's Prompt (2)
Basic premise: School reunion twenty years after the war ended. Hosted by the Potters, who are going through a marital crisis.
Must haves: Draco/Astoria, Harry/Ginny becoming Ginny/Draco. Humour but with a spattering of angst.
No-no's: Harry ending up with anyone else (sorry Harry :P), any smut.
Rating range: T
Bonus points: Some really unusual pairings between other guests.