This story was written for The Houses Competition, Year 6, Challenge #5.

House: Gryffindor

Position: Head of House

Word count: 939 words

Challenge/prompt: THC Challenge #5 - Unfortunately, everybody goes through struggles. Write about a canon witch/wizard struggling with something after finishing Hogwarts/school.

This story was written for Jenny (Claude Amelia Song) in revenge for the word cut downs Xx


The Sound of Silence

Coming here gives me the chills. The air is stale and very cold, even though I'm inside, and the stone walls are always dripping. Still, I make sure to visit as often as I can.

I plop down on the ground just a meter from my old friend, knowing that if he wasn't stuck in here, he'd be smiling back at me. I'm sure of it.

"Sorry, it's been a while."

My friend doesn't answer, but that's okay. I'm sure he's already forgiven me. He knows how tough it is… I think. Or maybe he's still mad that I'm free and he's not?

Nah.

"So… I finally got a job. I'm a security guard. You'd be proud of me." I don't want to rub it in too much that he can't get one, and quickly add, "Doesn't pay much, though. Did you know you can get money for working? Pa just always had it."

The things I'm learning beyond the castle walls still astound me. I almost wished we had classes on surviving on the outside. I guess they never predicted the war or cared what happened to us.

Silence presses in on us, save for the echo of dripping water. Ominous, someone once said it was. Funny word, that. Ominous.

No, I mustn't get distracted. I came here to cheer up my friend.

"I'm really good at my job. No one wants to kill the man as much as they wanted to hurt Malfoy, but I can still beat people up and not get into trouble for it!

"'Course, it is working with Muggles… Still, you should've seen the broken nose I gave one Muggle. It was all bloody and—I wish you could've been there.

"Potter got me the job, you know? The new boss… Doodle?... is his cousin. Weird, huh? Doodle said he'd liked me the moment he'd seen me. Reminded me of him, I reckon. He's a big guy, too.

"I dunno what I'm s'posed to be protecting, though. Drills? I'll find out next time."

I sneak a peek at my friend and know the news hasn't cheered him up any. I thought it would. I'd told him about my failed last job in the school kitchens. It'd been fun, but they'd said I'd eaten too much. I couldn't help that I was always hungry. Since the Ministry froze our money—Ma should really just use a heat spell—food has been limited.

I sigh. "Still don't have a girlfriend. Ma wants me to try and marry Parkinson now that Malfoy has rejected her. I say no thanks. She's still annoying. Great boobs though."

He still doesn't say anything, but I know he appreciates that. I don't think he's seen any females here, at least not ones with great assets. Assets: that's another word I've learnt.

I miss his laughter. He's changed a lot since he's been in here. He's definitely not the same bloke I knew. They've let him waste away here.

"Have you heard from Malfoy? No? I'm sure he wants to visit. Life hasn't been easy for him, either, I s'pose. I dunno if you know this, I imagine you would, but his father was let out of Az—"

I stop myself from saying the word. It's such a dirty word. It's bad enough I was let off so easily; it's not good to hear that word for those who weren't.

More silence.

I sigh. I can't tell if my friend's angry with this news. Both our dads got sent to Azkaban, too. I wish my Pa was free like me. He doesn't like visitors, though.

This place isn't so bad if I really think about it. Yes, a rat did just run past—I'll never forget getting bitten by Weasley's pet rat all those years ago—but at least there's no Dementors. I shiver; I've always hated them.

I look back at the stone walls holding my friend captive. I wrack my brain, trying to come up with some good news for him.

The truth is, though, life isn't good. It took me ages to get my job, and that's only because Potter took pity on me. They didn't let me go back to school—I was still on trial then—but even if people didn't always tell me, I know I'm too stupid to have passed the final year, anyway. I did try out for Quidditch, too, but they said they didn't need any Beaters. It's weird because some younger, puny Hufflepuff bloke got a job as a Beater after I asked. Whatever, maybe they'd forgotten.

Quidditch was one of the few things I was good at, one of the things Ma was proud of me for. She doesn't talk to me much now, either. No one does. People still point and sneer and stare at me like I'm some Mudbloo—oh, I'm not s'posed to say that anymore. Can I think it? Hmmm, I'll have to ask them.

I can't let him know I'm struggling, though. I have to cheer him up. It's what I came here to do.

But when I look up, I know I can't do it. I'm not as strong on the inside as I am on the outside.

"I really miss you, Vinnie."

Apart from the echoing drips, only silence meets my words. I swipe my hand over my eyes and heave myself up.

I'm sure if he could, my friend would say, "I miss you too, Greg."

In fact, I'm sure I can hear him say it. As I leave the Crabbe family crypt, I'm filled with renewed determination to come back with good news. Life simply has to get better.