A Day in the Life of Argus Filch
I think the title says it all, no?
Canon ‘Deleted Scene’ flash fiction
No alarm clock rang. It wouldn’t have worked even if he had wanted to set one. But there was no need for it, every day, without fail, at exactly five o’clock his tired brown eyes snapped open. He lay there unmoving for five minutes, the only sound the steady stream of air moving in and out of his lungs. He knew it was exactly five minutes. That was how long he stared at the lines in his ceiling, how long he attempted to keep his mind clear of the coming misery. Five minutes was how long he had before the sniveling grumblings broke forth, before his flat expression became tainted with bitterness and vindictive spite.
It was always five minutes. It would always be exactly five minutes after five o’clock that the serenity of the night cascaded down around him.
House elves were peculiar creatures. They loved to serve, loved to obey their masters and above all, loved to see pleasure in the faces of those they served. He often entertained thoughts of how to become more like them. After all, they both worked beneath the same master, but he would never reject his salary and so he supposed that made it impossible to be like them. They served because they wanted to. He worked because he needed a job. Nevertheless, he maintained an air of gratitude and respect whenever he came across them. They were one of the few living things that didn’t flinch when he looked at them, and brought him breakfast every morning at Five-Thirty sharp.
Never a second late, never a moment early. They, like him, understood the importance of time, something that no student would ever understand. He ate slowly, examining the flavor of each kipper, egg, and bite of toast. He washed it down with Earl Grey. No cream, no sugar, but with twice the normal amount of flavoring.
That was how he liked it, and the elves knew it.
Mrs. Norris woke up at six. She slept peacefully on his bed, the gruff long-haired tabby curled into a small brown ball at the foot, the spot that was never used. He tipped her food into her dish – assorted dried meats and vegetables – with a soft clink of kibble against glass. He could hear her stirring from the other room, a stretch, and a yawn caught off by a meow. He felt his grizzled face crack into a smile, the gloom of the coming day momentarily forgotten. She padded toward him with quick silent footfalls, her bright yellow eyes trained on him. She mewled again, brushed against his leg for a moment, then went to her bowl to eat.
She would eat quickly. She didn’t savor her food like he did. She would be done and ready to leave in four minutes, ready to begin prowling the corridors for misbehaving students. She was the most intelligent creature he had ever come across, a connection the instant her lamp-like eyes had met his, in the dingy second-hand apothecary. She had been cast out, abandoned, a widow of her species.
She was Mrs. Norris, and she was his best friend.
Breakfast in the Great Hall was an occasion that he never attended. Aside from the fact that he had already eaten, he felt no inclination to be anywhere near the students when he didn’t have to. He spent his time roaming the halls, his dear Mrs. Norris whisking away to other parts of the castle. He wasn’t worried that she’d be hurt. Students always wanted to give her a good kick, but she was too smart for them. She always got away, and she always got them in trouble.
He couldn’t read her thoughts. She couldn’t read his. That was not how he knew where to go the instant she turned up; it was not how he knew that there was a fight on the second floor corridor or a scuffle in the trophy room. She looked at him, and he looked at her. Her gaze met his, and in that instant, he knew she had seen a rule break. She lead, he followed.
There was never any exchange of thought, only the tacit understanding of the job.
Davis caught snooping along the third floor corridor. Detention with Pomfrey to be completed the following night at six.
A blocked toilet in the prefect’s bathroom.
Peeves in the prefects bathroom. Two more toilets blocked and at least two inches of water. Bathroom closed for half-an-hour.
Peeves in charms classroom. Chalk and water delaying class for ten minutes.
Potter and his friends making a ruckus. Verbal warning.
Door locked on the fifth floor. Glued shut with chewing gum. Send for new bottle of Decomposing Cleaner.
Noises from sixth floor corridor, suspect disused boys bathroom.
If there were ever someone that he hated more than Peeves, it would be the Weasley twins. Like Peeves, it seemed that their soul purpose in life was to torment him. But, unlike Peeves, they knew exactly how to do it without getting caught – or how to escape with minimal punishment. Seconds before he turned up to “catch them in the act” they disappeared, leaving a cloud of black smoke in their wake. They dropped dung-bombs in the hallways, and then looked innocent in the crowd. He had even caught them slipping itch powder to Peeves on the third-floor corridor.
Yes. He hated the Weasley twins.
He knew it was them the instant he strode toward the bathroom, as if he were some feral dog catching the scent, he knew it was them. He would and could never explain how he knew it. The bathroom had very obviously been attacked. Water streamed across the floor from a shattered toilet, the seat of which was missing. But that wasn’t what reeked of the twins – any fool could kill a toilet – no, it was the brightly colored banners and streamers that littered the place. He hissed, he yelled, he cursed their names to high heaven.
He bent to turn off the water of the toilet, closing the pipe with a few turns of a screw. Icy water stopped drenching his clothes, and he wished again that he could produce the spell to make them dry. For a moment, the only sound in the room was the steady dripping of water onto tile, then the toilet gave a violent shudder. Filch jumped back not a moment too soon. There was a creaking sound, a groan of metal and the next moment, he had been buried beneath brightly colored silly string.
No night patrol tonight. Snape had volunteered, and he’d felt no particular inclination to join him. He was tired, cold, and angry. True to the pattern, the Weasley boys had disappeared, leaving him no way to prove their prank had been their doing. Not that anyone would doubt it had been them of course, but without proof they cold worm their way out of anything. That was why he hated them more than Peeves. They laughed at him from behind his back, watching from cracks and corners, instead of the outright style of the poltergeist.
A mewl caught his attention and he looked down into the yellow gaze of Mrs. Norris, her eyes seeming to agree with him. Agree with his hatred and console him the best she could. He sighed, picked her up and sat his chair, listening to her purr for a long time afterward.