Unrequited (Part 2 of 2)
She was there. She was right there; across from him by maybe a distance of ten feet. She had opened one of her upstairs windows to let some air into her house, and as luck would have it this brought her eye to eye with Filch.
‘Oh, hello,’ she said in a bright and friendly voice. ‘Lovely day.’
‘Um, yes,’ said Filch, in a somewhat strangled voice. He looked into her perfect blue eyes and felt as if he could die in that moment and be happy. She was smiling at him; she was actually smiling at him. Filch felt weak at the knees. He suddenly felt sure that he was staring, that he was invading her privacy. He whipped his rug back inside his house, mumbled a partially coherent goodbye and closed the window. As he turned, out of the corner of his eye, he could have sworn that he saw her wave at him. At him! Filch fell to his knees and clutched at his heart. His head swam and his throat grew dry and tight. Angela: dear Angela; sweet Angela; his Angela had talked to him and smiled at him. It was all too much; Filch sunk on to his hands and lowered himself on to the bedroom carpet. He rolled over on to his back, and as he did so tears filled his wide, staring eyes. A huge smile streaked across his face and soon he was laughing. He wriggled on the floor like a man possessed; both laughing and crying at the first real contact he had had with the wonderful Angela. His chest rose and fell like it contained a great set of bellows; he had never felt so good in all his life. For the rest of that day, Filch was in an unstoppably good mood. He danced about his house as if drunk, and the next day when he received his copy of The Daily Prophet, his mood was lifted even higher.
Flicking idly through its pages, humming pleasantly to himself, Filch nearly choked on his porridge when he was saw a wondrous face smiling up at him from the Prophet.
There was a photograph of Angela in that day’s Daily Prophet. She had been noted for some recent charity work and to accompany the article was a three quarter portrait shot of her, smiling sweetly out at the wizarding world.
No, at him, thought Filch.
That smile was for him, he was sure of it.
Filch stared in gleeful wonder at the photograph for a long moment, before putting the newspaper on the table and clapping his hands together in delight. He rose quickly from his chair, crossed his kitchen eagerly and began rummaging in a nearby drawer. He pulled out a pair of scissors and practically threw himself back into his chair. He seized up the newspaper, grinning madly. He took a steadying breath and began to carefully cut out the photograph of Angela from the newspaper.
Carefully, my love.
You deserve the finest of care.
When Filch had finished, he held the photograph out in front of him and gazed dreamily at it. He couldn’t believe his luck; now he had a picture of his Angela to keep forever. An idea struck Filch and he rose quickly from his chair again. He strode purposefully out of the kitchen and into the hall. He pulled open the door to the cupboard and began to search inside.
He knew it was in there somewhere.
Finally, he had a fitting use for it.
After a moment or two of near frantic searching, Filch found what he was looking for. He came out of the hall cupboard with an ornate silver picture frame clutched tightly in one hand; the photograph of Angela in the other. He returned hastily to the kitchen and sat down again. He placed the photograph delicately on the table and turned his attention to the frame. It had been a gift from an aunt some years back, but Filch had never been one for pictures.
He carefully removed the backing of the frame and with his tongue between his teeth he placed Angela’s photograph inside the frame, making sure that it was properly aligned. As soon as it he had clipped the back of the frame into place he turned it over and looked at his new prize possession. He made a mental promise to himself in that moment that this photograph would be with him always, wherever his life took him. He stood the frame on the table and marvelled at it for a second or two. Again a thought struck him and Filch darted to the cupboard under the sink. He pulled out a bottle of polish and a duster and set to cleaning Angela’s picture with the utmost loving pride and care.
Whatever happens, I’ll always have this, he thought to himself as he happily buffed the frame with the duster. Even if Angela’s charity work takes her away I can…
That was it!
Filch’s eyes lit up as his brain was set on fire with the possibility of being able to talk to Angela properly for the first time. This photograph had come out of The Daily Prophet. Filch read the Prophet. Angela no doubt read the Prophet. Pretty much everyone in the wizarding world read the Prophet. Filch now saw the article about Angela as his golden opportunity to finally talk to her. As he sat there the plan unfolded in his mind. He would go round to her house and congratulate her on the article.
Yes, that was it.
That would work.
It was perfect.
Filch stood up, picked up the photograph and bounded upstairs. If he was going to finally have a real conversation with Angela then he wanted to smarten himself up. Filch smiled at the thought, as he ran water into his bathroom sink, ready for a shave. He had never been bothered about his physical appearance until now. He kept himself clean enough, but the idea of smartening himself up for the sake of another person was something that would not have interested Argus Filch one bit before Angela came into his life. He whistled a jovial tune as he lathered up his face and began to shave.
After a shave and a shower, Filch stood in front of his meagre wardrobe and looked at his limited collection of clothes. While he had been shaving he had thought that going to Angela’s in his absolute best was perhaps a little too much. He felt that she deserved to see him in his best, but he also didn’t want to seem too keen, and he wanted his appearance at her door to seem natural. So, with that in mind, Filch had foregone his best suit and settled on his second best set of clothes. He repeatedly glanced over at the photograph of Angela as he got dressed. He had to re-button his shirt at one point because he was getting so distracted, but nothing was dampening his mood. After all these years he felt as if he had a real window of opportunity to get to know the woman who had captured his heart. He combed his hair and splashed on a little aftershave from a practically full bottle. That too had been a gift from some relative that Filch had never had use for until now. With a slight pang he left the photograph on his bedside table and took himself downstairs to make the fateful crossing of his front door to Angela’s. He had reasoned with himself that showing up at her door with a framed photograph of Angela in his hand would definitely come across as too keen, and he wanted everything to be perfect.
Filch laid a trembling hand on his front door handle, breathed a steadying sigh, and stepped out into a bold new future.
It was going to be perfect.
‘Oh, it’s perfect!’
Filch stopped dead in his tracks. He started in bewilderment at the place where he was supposed to be confidently walking towards. Angela was there, but so was someone else.
Filch didn’t know this man, but he didn’t need to. He instantly hated him and everything about him. This man was on his knees and in his hand was a small box containing an engagement ring. Filch could feel his knees going weak, but it was not the same euphoric weakness that he had felt that first time Angela had spoken to him. This was different. This was a wasting feeling, as if his body was shutting down on him, never to be needed again. His head felt hot and suddenly too big for his body. His mouth felt dry and cottony. His heart…
He felt as if all the swords, all the knives, all the daggers in the world had pierced his heart in a single, excruciating moment. Filch had to force his feet to move, for they felt numb and leaden, but he couldn’t let Angela see him.
Filch lurched drunkenly for his front door and fell through it, landing hard on his knees. He reached back and swung it shut with a bang, not caring now if he had ruined their perfect moment. His hands flew to his face and he let out a mournful bellow like a wounded animal. He shook and shuddered as great, racking sobs threatened to tear his throat out.
His life was over.
She could never be his.
As soon as the sobs came they went, replaced by a cold, hard fury that steeled itself up Filch’s spine. What a fool he had been, he thought savagely. What a fool to think that any woman anywhere could ever want him. His breath came in ragged, insane gulps; his whole body twitching. In that moment a thousand thoughts crashed into his mind. He thought of killing himself, killing him, killing her!
A moment of icy clarity stopped Filch’s rage in a heartbeat. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t hurt Angela. Filch kneeled in his hall feeling so much pain, so much anger, so much hatred, but in amongst all of that he still felt love for her.
I still love her.
I will always love her.
This thought seemed to calm Filch and he rose to his feet, steadying himself on the banister. He stood there, looking into nothing, for several minutes as he assessed his feelings. It was strange: he felt sure that after such pain and humiliation that he would hate himself, that man and Angela all with equal measure, but Argus Filch was clearly a changed man. No matter how much the selfish, spiteful part of him tried to make him hate Angela he couldn’t do it. He hated himself in that moment, no question. He hated him, without a doubt, but when it came to Angela there was nothing there but love.
She hadn’t done this to him on purpose, he thought, trying to reassure himself.
How was she supposed to know how he felt?
She wasn’t, and she wouldn’t.
In that moment, Argus Filch would have happily cursed, hexed and jinxed the man with the engagement ring had he but known any magic to do so, but one thought stopped him from further considering any actual action against the man.
He obviously made Angela happy.
Filch didn’t like it, didn’t like that the universe was denying him his most heartfelt desire, but he grew calmer and less angry the more he thought of Angela’s happiness.
As long as she’s happy, he thought to himself.
Filch trudged unhappily upstairs and retrieved the photograph of Angela. He returned downstairs, went into his living room, opened his drinks cabinet and took out an unopened bottle of firewhiskey.
Well, thought Filch, as he poured himself a drink, this is my gift to you, Angela. I will never tarnish my love for you by speaking of it to anyone. Filch took a sip and coughed as the whiskey burned its way down his throat. He wasn’t a drinker, or hadn’t been until that moment. He picked up the bottle and placed it on an end table next to an armchair. He sat down with a long, sad sigh and placed the photograph next to the bottle.
‘Here’s to you, my love,’ he said, sombrely.
Argus Filch said that at least once a day for the rest of his life.
To his love.
Mrs Angela Norris.