disclaimer: I don' own Harry Potter, just Arabella. Hope you like it!
Arabella felt herself slam flat into the ground, her face was pressed into the grass as her clung on to Cedric's body with her broken arm. Her eyes were closed while the Portkey transported them, but she opened them now. She turned her head towards Harry, who was facing her with his eyes closed.
There were voices everywhere, footsteps, screams…
Then a pair of hands seized Harry roughly and turned him over, and another did the same to her.
Dumbledore was crouching over Harry as Professor McGonagall did the same to Arabella.
Arabella held on to Harry's hand, but clutched Cedric's body very tightly.
'He's back,' Harry whispered to Dumbledore. 'He's back. Voldemort.'
'What's going on? What's happened?'
The face of Cornelius Fudge appeared over Harry. It looked white, appalled.
'My God – Diggory!' he whispered. 'Dumbledore – he's dead!'
The words were shouted – screeched – into the night –
'Cedric Diggory! Dead!'
'Arabella, let go of him,' she heard McGonagall's voice say, she tried to pry her from Cedric's limp body, but Arabella wouldn't let him go. Dumbledore moved closer towards her.
'Arabella,' said Dumbledore, 'you can't help him now. It's over. Let go.'
'He asked me to bring him back,' Arabella muttered. 'He asked me to bring him back to his parents…'
'That's right. Just let go… it's over now…'
Dumbledore bent down and raised Arabella from the ground, breaking her hold from Cedric's body. She fell down again due to the pain on her right ankle, and moved closer to Cedric's body.
'I'm sorry… I'm so sorry…' she whispered to him.
Dumbledore lifted Harry from the ground and set him on his feet. The crowd around them pushed, fighting to get closer, and Arabella swore she heard a dog barking –
'What's wrong with him?'
'He'll need to go to the hospital wing!' Fudge was saying loudly. 'He's ill, he's injured – Dumbledore, Diggory's parents, they're here, they're in the stands…'
'I'll take Harry, Dumbledore, I'll take him -'
'No, I would prefer-'
'Dumbledore, Amos Diggorys running…he's coming over…Don't you think you should tell him - before he sees -?'
'Harry, stay here -'
Girls were screaming, sobbing hysterically… Arabella turned just in time to see Mad-Eye pulled Harry away from the scene and towards the castle. Dumbledore was looking on after them.
'Let me through! Let me through! That's my son!' yelled a voice from the stands. Arabella looked and saw Amos Diggory and his wife running towards them. McGonagall managed to get her away before Mr and Mrs Diggory fell to their knees, sobbing over their son's body.
Mrs Diggory was hugging Cedric with such force while Mr Diggory was screaming in agony, holding onto Dumbledore.
'Dumbledore,' whispered Arabella. 'Dumbledore,' she said a bit more loudly, but the Diggory's screams of pain drowned her voice out. Arabella managed to get free of McGonagall's grasp and crawled towards Dumbledore, yanking him away from Mr Diggory.
'Barty Crouch Jr. is alive,' she said in a hoarse voice. Dumbledore was not as surprised as she expected. 'He's Mad-Eye. He was using Polyjuice Potion the whole time. The Triwizard Cup was a Portkey. Voldemort's alive. You have to believe me.'
'I do, Arabella,' he said gravely. 'I do. Minerva, if you could get Severus, I need you both. Arabella, if you could hold on to my arm, you'll need to hear this.'
'Albus,' said McGonagall, coming closer towards them as Snape did the same, 'Remus is here. He would want to see her. Look at the state she's in! She's been through enough!'
'He would,' said Dumbledore, nodding his head, 'but there's something she needs to hear. Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery. She needs to know who has put her through the ordeal tonight, and why. If you help me here.'
The thin line of McGonagall's face was twitching as though she was about to cry, but nodded. Arabella held onto Dumbledore's arm and he lifted her on her feet, and then held on to McGonagall with her right arm, not putting any weight on her right foot.
'What's broken, Arabella?' said Dumbledore as the four of them started to walk towards the castle. Arabella tried to block out the screams behind them.
'Left arm, right ankle,' gasped Arabella, as she tried to walk properly.
Dumbledore nodded, and said, 'we will get you to the infirmary, but we need to do something first.'
They walked to the castle and up the stair silently. Arabella tried her best to ignore the pain shooting up her body from her ankle. They reached Mad-Eye's office and Dumbledore motioned for her to stay quiet. He drew out his wand and pointed it at the door.
There was a blinding of red light, and the door of Mad-Eye's office blasted open –
Mad-Eye was thrown backward onto the office. Dumbledore stepped into the office, placed a foot underneath Mad-Eye's unconscious body, and kicked him over onto his back, so that his face was visible. Snape followed him, looking into the Foe-Glass, where his own face was still visible, glaring into the room. Professor McGonagall walked in with Arabella and led her to an empty chair, and turned towards Harry.
'Come now, Potter,' she whispered, motioning him towards her. 'Come here.'
'Moody,' Harry said, still in a complete state of disbelief. 'How can it have been Moody?'
'This is not Alastor Moody,' said Dumbledore quietly. 'You have never known Alastor Moody. The real moody would not have removed you from my sight after what happened tonight. The moment he took you, I knew – and I followed.'
Dumbledore bent down over Mad-Eye's limp form and put a hand inside his robes. He pulled on Mad-Eye's hip flask and a set of keys on a ring. Then he turned to McGonagall and Snape.
'Severus, please fetch me the strongest Truth Potion you possess, and then go down to the kitchens and bring up the house-elf called Winky. Minerva, kindly go back to the stands and fetch Remus and the large black dog with him. Take them both up to my office, tell them I will be there shortly, and then come back here.'
Both turned at once and left the office. Dumbledore walked over to the truck with seven locks, fitted the first key in the lock, and opened it. Arabella couldn't see what was in it. After six keys, Dumbledore placed the seventh key in the seventh lock, threw open the lid, and Harry let out a cry of amazement.
'What? What is it?' said Arabella, almost dreading the answer.
'It's Moody! The real Moody!' said Harry, stunned.
Dumbledore climbed into the truck, lowered himself, and fell lightly onto the floor beside the sleeping Moody. He bent over him.
'Stunned – controlled by the Imperius Curse – very weak,' he said. 'Of course, they would have needed to keep him alive. Harry, throw down the imposter's cloak – he's freezing. Madam Pomfrey will need to see him, but he seems in no immediate danger.'
Harry did as he was told. Dumbledore covered Mad-Eye in the cloak, tucked it around him, and clambered out of the trunk again. Then he picked up the hip flask that stood upon the desk, unscrewed it, and turned it over. A thick liquid splattered onto the office floor.
'You were right, Arabella,' said Dumbledore. 'Polyjuice Potion. The simplicity of it, and the brilliance. For Moody never does drink except for his hip flask, he's well known for it. The imposter needed, of course, to keep the real Moody close by, so that he could continue making the potion. You see his hair…' Dumbledore looked down on the Mad-Eye in the trunk. 'The imposter has been cutting it off all year, see where it is uneven? But, I think, in the excitement of tonight, our fake Moody might have forgotten to take it as frequently as he should have done… on the hour… every hour… We shall see.'
Dumbledore went to the desk and found something that seemed familiar to Arabella…
'My wand!' she said, in a husky voice.
Dumbledore turned towards her with a curious expression.
'Interesting wand,' he said. 'May I ask, what is it?'
'Walnut, dragon heartstring, 13 ½ inches,' said Arabella, remembering what Ollivander told her.
'I believe this is close to –'
'Yes, it is,' said Arabella, sighing and closing her eyes. 'Can I please have it back now?'
'Yes, yes, sorry,' said Dumbledore, and he handed her wand back to her, which she put in the pocket inside her sweater. Dumbledore then pulled out the chair at the desk and sat down upon it, eyes fixed upon the unconscious Mad-Eye on the floor. Harry went and stood beside Arabella, and stared at the Mad-Eye on the ground too. Minutes passed in silence…
Then, before Arabella's very eyes, the face of Mad-Eye began to change into Barty Crouch Jr. She wanted to get up and strangle him, but the thing stopping her was her leg and arm.
There were hurried footsteps outside in the corridor. Snape had returned with Winky at his heels. McGonagall was right behind him.
'Crouch!' Snape said, stopping dead in the doorway. 'Barty Crouch!'
'Good heavens!' said McGonagall, stopping dead and staring down at the man on the floor.
Filthy, disheveled, Winky peered around Snape's legs. Her mouth opened wide and she let out a piercing shriek.
'Master Barty, Master Barty, what is you doing here?'
She flung herself forward onto the young man's chest.
'You is killed him! You is killed him! You is killed Master's son!'
'He is simply Stunned, Winky,' said Dumbledore. 'Step aside, please. Severus, you have the potion?'
Snape handed Dumbledore a small glass of Veritaserum. Dumbledore got up, bent over Crouch on the floor, and pulled him into a sitting position against the walled. Winky remained on her knees, trembling, her hands over her face. Dumbledore forced Crouch's mouth open and poured three drops inside it. Then he pointed his wand at Crouch's chest and said, 'Rennervate!'
Crouch opened his eyes, gazed unfocused.
Dumbledore knelt before him, so that their faces were level.
'Can you hear me?' Dumbledore asked quietly.
'Yes,' muttered Crouch, his eyes flickering a bit.
'I would like you to tell us,' said Dumbledore softly, 'how you came to be here. How did you escape from Azkaban?'
Crouch took a deep, shuddering breath, then began to speak in a flat, expressionless voice.
'My mother saved me. She knew she was dying. She persuaded my father to rescue me as a last favor to her. He loved her as he had never loved me. He agreed. They came to visit me. They gave me a draft of Polyjuice Potion containing one of my mother's hairs. She took a draft of Polyjuice Potion containing one of my hairs. We took on each other's appearance.'
Winky was shaking her head, trembling.
'Say no more. Master Barty, say no more, you is getting your father into trouble!'
But Crouch took another deep breath and continued in the same flat voice.
'The dementors are blind. They sensed one healthy, one dying person entering Azkaban. They sensed one healthy, one dying person leaving it. My father smuggled me out, disguised as my mother, in case any prisoners were watching through their doors.
'My mother died a short while afterward in Azkaban. She was careful to drink Polyjuice Potion until the end. She was buried under my name and bearing my appearance. Everyone believed her to be me.'
Crouch's eyelids flickered.
'And what did your father do with you, when he had got you home?' said Dumbledore quietly.
'Staged my mother's death. A quiet, private funeral. That grave is empty. The house-elf nursed me back to health. Then I had to be concealed. I had to be controlled. My father had to use a number of spells to subdue me. When I had recovered my strength, I thought only of finding my master…of returning to his service.'
'How did your father subdue you?' said Dumbledore.
'The Imperius Curse,' Crouch said. 'I was under my father's control. I was forced to wear an Invisibility Cloak day and night. I was always with the house-elf. She was my keeper and caretaker. She pitied me. She persuaded my father to give me occasional treats. Rewards for my good behavior.'
'Master Barty, Master Barty,' sobbed Winky through her hands. 'You isn't ought to tell them, we is getting in trouble…'
'Did anybody ever discover that you were still alive?' said Dumbledore softly. 'Did anyone know except your father and the house-elf?'
'Yes,' said Crouch, his eyelids flickering again. 'A witch in my father's office. Bertha Jorkins. She came to the house with papers for my father's signature. He was not at home. Winky showed her inside and returned to the kitchen, to me. But Bertha Jorkins heard Winky talking to me. She came to investigate. She heard enough to guess who was hiding under the Invisibility Cloak. My father arrived home. She confronted him. He put a very powerful Memory Charm on her to make her forget what she'd found out. Too powerful. He said it damaged her memory permanently.'
'Why is she coming to nose into my masters private business?' sobbed Winky. 'Why isn't she leaving us be?'
'Tell me about the Quidditch World Cup,' said Dumbledore.
'Winky talked my father into it,' said Crouch, still in the same monotonous voice. 'She spent months persuading him. I had not left the house for years. I had loved Quidditch. 'Let him go,' she said. 'He will be in his Invisibility Cloak. He can watch. Let him smell fresh air for once.' She said my mother would have wanted it. She told my father that my mother had died to give me freedom. She had not saved me for a life of imprisonment. He agreed in the end.
'It was carefully planned. My father led me and Winky up to the Top Box early in the day. Winky was to say that she was saving a seat for my father. I was to sit there, invisible. When everyone had left the box, we would emerge. Winky would appear to be alone. Nobody would ever know.
'But Winky didn't know that I was growing stronger. I was starting to fight my father's Imperius Curse. There were times when I was almost myself again. There were brief periods when I seemed outside his control. It happened, there, in the Top Box. It was like waking from a deep sleep. I found myself out in public, in the middle of the match, and I saw, in front of me, a wand sticking out of a boy's pocket. I had not been allowed a wand since before Azkaban. I stole it. Winky didn't know. Winky is frightened of heights. She had her face hidden.'
'Master Barty, you bad boy!' whispered Winky, tears trickling between her fingers.
'So you took the wand,' said Dumbledore, 'and what did you do with it?'
'We went back to the tent,' said Crouch. 'Then we heard them. We heard the Death Eaters. The ones who had never been to Azkaban. The ones who had never suffered for my master. They had turned their backs on him. They were not enslaved, as I was. They were free to seek him, but they did not. They were merely making sport of Muggles. The sound of their voices awoke me. My mind was clearer than it had been in years. I was angry. I had the wand. I wanted to attack them for their disloyalty to my master. My father had left the tent; he had gone to free the Muggles. Winky was afraid to see me so angry. She used her own brand of magic to bind me to her. She pulled me from the tent, pulled me into the forest, away from the Death Eaters. I tried to hold her back. I wanted to return to the campsite. I wanted to show those Death Eaters what loyalty to the Dark Lord meant, and to punish them for their lack of it. I used the stolen wand to cast the Dark Mark into the sky.
'Ministry wizards arrived. They shot Stunning Spells everywhere. One of the spells came through the trees where Winky and I stood. The bond connecting us was broken. We were both Stunned.
'When Winky was discovered, my father knew I must be nearby. He searched the bushes where she had been found and felt me lying there. He waited until the other Ministry members had left the forest. He put me back under the Imperius Curse and took me home. He dismissed Winky. She had failed him. She had let me acquire a wand. She had almost let me escape.'
Winky let out a wail of despair.
'Now it was just Father and I, alone in the house. And then…and then…'
Crouch's head rolled on his neck, and an insane grin spread across his face.
'My master came for me. He arrived at our house late one night in the arms of his servant Wormtail. My master had found out that I was still alive. He had captured Bertha Jorkins in Albania. He had tortured her. She told him a great deal. She told him about the Triwizard Tournament. She told him the old Auror, Moody, was going to teach at Hogwarts. He tortured her until he broke through the Memory Charm my father had placed upon her. She told him I had escaped from Azkaban. She told him my father kept me imprisoned to prevent me from seeking my master. And so my master knew that I was still his faithful servant - perhaps the most faithful of all. My master conceived a plan, based upon the information Bertha had given him. He needed me. He arrived at our house near midnight. My father answered the door.'
The smile spread wider over Crouch's face, as though recalling the sweetest memory of his life. Winky's petrified brown eyes were visible through her fingers. She seemed too appalled to speak.
'It was very quick. My father was placed under the Imperius Curse by my master. Now my father was the one imprisoned, controlled. My master forced him to go about his business as usual, to act as though nothing was wrong. And I was released. I awoke. I was myself again, alive as I hadn't been in years.'
'And what did Lord Voldemort ask you to do?' said Dumbledore.
'He asked me whether or not I was ready to risk everything for him. It was my dream, my greatest ambition, to serve him, to prove myself to him. He told me he needed a place a faithful servant at Hogwarts. As servant that would get close to Arabella Black. A servant who would guide Harry Potter through the Triwizard Tournament without appearing to do so. A servant to watch over them. To ensure Arabella Black would be at the grave, and that Harry Potter would reach the Triwizard Cup. Turn the cup into a Portkey, which would take the first person to touch it to my master. But first –'
'You needed Alastor Moody,' said Dumbledore. His blue eyes were blazing, though his voice remained calm.
'Wormtail and I did it. We had prepared the Polyjuice Potion beforehand. We journeyed to his house. Moody put up a struggle. There was a commotion. We managed to subdue him just in time. Forced him into a compartment of his own magical trunk. Took some of his hair and added it to the potion. I drank it; I became Moody's double. I took his leg and his eye. I was ready to face Arthur Weasley when he arrived to sort out the Muggles who had heard a disturbance. I made the dustbins move around the yard. I told Arthur Weasley I had heard intruders in my yard, who had set off the dustbins. Then I packed up Moody's clothes and Dark detectors, put them in the trunk with Moody, and set off for Hogwarts. I kept him alive, under the Imperius Curse. I wanted to be able to question him. To find out about his past, learn his habits, so that I could fool even Dumbledore. I also needed his hair to make the Polyjuice Potion. The other ingredients were easy. I stole boomslang skin from the dungeons. When the Potions master found me in his office, I said I was under orders to search it.'
'And what became of Wormtail after you attacked Moody?' said Dumbledore.
'Wormtail returned to care for my master, in my father's house, and to keep watch over my father.'
'But your father escaped,' said Dumbledore.
'Yes. After a while he began to fight the Imperius Curse just as I had done. There were periods when he knew what was happening. My master decided it was no longer safe for my father to leave the house. He forced him to send letters to the Ministry instead. He made him write and say he was ill. But Wormtail neglected his duty. He was not watchful enough. My father escaped. My master guessed that he was heading for Hogwarts. My father was going to tell Dumbledore everything, to confess. He was going to admit that he had smuggled me from Azkaban.
'My master sent me word of my father's escape. He told me to stop him at all costs. So I waited and watched. I used the map I had taken from Harry Potter. The map that had almost ruined everything.'
'Map?' said Dumbledore quickly. 'What map is this?'
'Potter's map of Hogwarts. Potter saw me on it. Potter saw me stealing more ingredients for the Polyjuice Potion from Snape's office one night. He thought I was my father. We have the same first name. I took the map from Potter that night. I told him my father hated Dark wizards. Potter believed my father was after Snape.
'For a week I waited for my father to arrive at Hogwarts. At last, one evening, the map showed my father entering the grounds. I pulled on my Invisibility Cloak and went down to meet him. He was walking around the edge of the forest. Then Potter came, and Krum. I waited. I could not hurt Potter; my master needed him. Potter ran to get Dumbledore. I Stunned Krum. I killed my father.'
'Noooo!' wailed Winky. 'Master Barty, Master Barty, what is you saying?'
'You killed your father,' Dumbledore said, in the same soft voice. 'What did you do with the body?'
'Carried it into the forest. Covered it with the Invisibility Cloak. I had the map with me. I watched Potter run into the castle. He met Snape. Dumbledore joined them. I watched Potter bringing Dumbledore out of the castle. I walked back out of the forest, doubled around behind them, went to meet them. I told Dumbledore Snape had told me where to come.
'Dumbledore told me to go and look for my father. I went back to my father's body. Watched the map. When everyone was gone, I Transfigured my father's body. He became a bone…I buried it, while wearing the Invisibility Cloak, in the freshly dug earth in front of Hagrid's cabin.'
'And tonight, with Arabella?' asked Dumbledore.
'I saw her in the morning and told her that Dumbledore and McGonagall needed to see her about the third task. Foolish girl, she believed me. I stunned her when we reached my office, broke her arm and her ankle, sweet revenge. Waited until lunch when I offered to carry the Triwizard Cup into the maze and left with both the Cup and the girl. My master has a very long memory, he does not forget traitors. He never forgot Kassandra Anastas. He was going to punish Arabella Black for her mother's betrayal, but she would have been a great asset if she joined us. If she said yes, she would have joined us, but if she said no, my master would have given the girl to Bellatrix Lestrange for her loyalty towards him all these years.
'My master's plan worked. He is returned to power and I willed be honored by him beyond the dreams of wizards.'
The insane smile lit his features once more, and his head drooped onto his shoulders as Winky wailed and sobbed at this side.
Thank you for reading!