There was something wrong with Alastor ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody.
Harry spent a week after talking to Sirius and Remus watching the professor and he was now completely sure that something was wrong with the ex-Auror. Every hour, like clockwork, the man would take a drink out of the flask that he carried around in his pocket. Not a second earlier and not a second later; Harry knew because he had timed it.
Moody also didn’t seem to realize that Harry was stalking him. Another sign that something was off, Harry noted to himself. Mad-Eye Moody was supposed to be beyond paranoid, always keeping a look out with his magical eye and yet, he hadn’t spotted Harry trailing behind him underneath his cloak for an entire week. Sure, Harry had taken pre-cautions; he’d cast a dozen Notice-Me-Not spells on the cloak and ducked behind any object within close range whenever Moody would glance around the hall, likely looking for Harry himself if the professor’s previous stalking was any indication.
′I have a feeling that this isn’t Mad-Eye Moody at all,′ Gabriel voiced when the week came to an end.
‘I guessed as much,’ Harry sighed internally. ‘We need to confirm this. And I know just the two to help.’
He didn’t have to wait long before Fred and George passed his hiding spot. Moody had headed into the library, no doubt trying to find Harry. From what the black haired teen had observed, Moody had a habit of skulking around places that Harry tended to frequent when not in the Chamber or the Gryffindor dorms. More evidence that he was stalking Harry, the teen grumbled silently. He didn’t like the thought of the fake Moody knowing so much about his habits.
The twins, heading in to study for a prank or class (as despite popular belief, the twins did in fact study) yelped as Harry grabbed their arms and pulled them away from the library door and further into the corridor. Checking to see no one was around, Harry shrugged off the cloak.
Fred blinked at him before grinning. “You know, black haired brother of ours,” he started.
“There are much easier ways of getting our attention,” George finished, grin just as wide. They studied the cloak with interest.
Harry flashed them a grin. “You two wouldn’t happen to have the map on you, would you?” He doubted that the answer was ‘no’. The two redheads practically worshiped that map. Actually, come to think of it, had they ever told the twins who, exactly, the Marauder’s were?
′Not now,′ Gabriel interrupted.
Right, Moody. Harry fought the urge to shake his head in effort to clear his thoughts and focused on the twins.
Fred was pulling the map out of his robe pocket along with his wand. “I solemnly swear I’m up to no good,” the redhead tapped the wand on the parchment.
Instantly, the blank paper transformed into the magical map depicting the entire school. “Can I see that for a second?” Harry asked.
Fred handed it over before joining George in peering over Harry shoulder to see what he was doing. The best thing about the twins was that they were content to wait for explanations for the things Harry did.
Sure enough, there was no ‘Alastor Moody’ in the library though Harry knew for a fact that the man was still in there. “I knew it,” he mumbled before frowning. “Wait here for a minute?”
Fred and George glanced at each other before shrugging. Harry grabbed his cloak and threw it over him before heading towards the library, map still open in his hands.
Third bookshelf from the door, Harry thought to himself as he slipped through the library doorway, barely dodging the exiting Ravenclaw prefect. ‘That would have been fun to explain,’ Gabriel muttered as they slipped deeper into the library.
Instead of turning into the correct bookshelf, Harry passed it and turned into the next row. Glancing down at the map, Harry confirmed the name. Barty Crouch the bold lettering identified the man in the row next to his.
He turned and continued down the fourth row, stopping once he reached the end. Slowly rounding the end of the shelf, he peeked into the next row. In the place that the map proclaimed Barty Crouch to be, stood Mad-Eye Moody.
′Sirius and Remus are never going to believe this,′ Gabriel marveled as Harry stared down at the map and back up to Moody.
‘Well,’ Harry thought to himself as he exited to library and made his way back to the Twins. ‘I suppose they can take comfort in the fact that they were partially right, in the end.’
′Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to make them feel better.
It did not, in fact, make them feel better.
Fred and George didn’t feel any better either, though Harry hadn’t been expecting them to tag along. In hindsight, he really should have considering that he had spiked their curiosity when he’d asked for the map. Catching them up hadn’t been easy, either.
For one, he needed to explain why Remus and Sirius felt the need to discuss possible perps with a fourteen year old. Harry wasn’t entirely sure that they bought the ‘to make sure I don’t do something stupid’ excuse he’d used. The twins were sharp, that was for sure. They were also rather annoyed on Harry’s behalf. Thankfully, they consented to staying quiet while Harry caught Sirius and Remus up.
Sirius was fuming and flabbergasted at the same time. “Polyjuice Potion,” he growled. “Fucking Polyjuice Potion. I can’t believe it.”
“Nor can I,” Harry sighed. “I mean, your theory on Bartemius Crouch made sense but how does Polyjuicing himself as Mad-Eye Moody play into this? And what about the real Moody?”
Fred piqued up. “In his office,” the redhead informed them. Harry turned to stare at him.
George grimaced. “He’s been in his office nearly every time we look at the map; never leaves the place. We thought it was odd but we didn’t look too much into it. Dad always told us Moody was off his rocker.”
“Is that Fred and George?” Remus called.
“Hi Remus!” the twins called back.
′We have made a huge mistake,′ Gabriel commented as Harry felt the urge to facepalm.
“They’re the ones with the map,” Harry informed them. Sirius practically preened but kept quiet when Harry shook his head. Thankfully, the twins and his godfather kept silent, aware that this wasn’t the time to ask how the other pair knew of the map.
“Anyways,” Harry continued. “How does any of this fit into Crouch’s plan for the tournament?”
Sirius frowned, troubled. “I don’t like this,” he informed Harry. “Something about this is off; Crouch is a bastard and there’s little I would put past him, don’t get me wrong. Yet kidnapping Mad-Eye and taking his place?”
“Sirius is right,” Remus suddenly appeared in place of his godfather. ‘Guess he didn’t feel like being in the background this time,’ Gabriel hummed. Harry ignored him. “Alastor Moody would have never been caught off guard by Crouch. And how would Crouch explain his sudden disappearance from the Ministry? Last time I checked, he was still going into work every day and we check often.”
“Still at work?” Harry frowned and his eyes narrowed. “How can you be in two places at once?” he muttered.
“Time Turner?” Fred suggested.
“Maybe he has a twin!” George tossed out.
“Or maybe it’s not Bartemius Crouch.” Remus breathed.
Three pair of eyes locked onto the mirror, confused. It took Harry a moment to realize what Remus meant. “Barty Crouch,” he whispered.
“I’m lost,” Fred informed them all before looking at George. His twin just shrugged in response.
“Sirius, when exactly did Mrs. Crouch die?” Harry demanded. “And how long was it after the death of Barty Crouch?”
“Gred, I feel like we’re missing something,” George whispered.
“I think you’re right, Forge.” Fred whispered back.
Harry ignored them both. “Sirius?” he asked again.
“Not long,” Sirius said, having taken the mirror back from Remus. “A week to a month at most.” His voice was grave and grey eyes were dark with anger.
“His house elf was caught with the wand that cast the Dark Mark,” Harry mumbled. “Crouch started acting strange not long after. His son dies in Azkaban and then so does his wife?”
“Bugger,” George commented. Fred stayed silent, though the look on his face made it obvious that he was in agreement with George.
Remus appeared in the mirror, having reclaimed it from Sirius. “If a person dies under the influence of Polyjuice potion, they don’t revert back,” the werewolf informed them. “I’ll do some digging but I suspect that Barty Crouch Jr. died the same day his parents came to see him for the last time.”
“How’d he keep control of his son?” Harry asked. “Somehow, I don’t think it would be easy to keep him out of the public eye.”
Sirius shrugged. “No idea. I have a feeling it wasn’t entirely through legal means.”
“So there’s a supposedly dead Death Eater son of the Ministry official running the Tournament posing as Mad-Eye Moody and stalking Harry. This same Death Eater is also likely the one that put Harry’s name into the goblet and probably wants him dead.” George summarized. “Why are we talking about this in secret and not with the Headmaster?”
Sirius blinked and Harry stared at the redheaded twin. “I suppose Dumbledore would probably want to know,” Sirius mused though Harry could see the hesitance on his face.
Albus Dumbledore was a sore topic for all of them, Harry knew. For Sirius, Dumbledore had been someone he respected and trusted only to have the man believe the worst of him and do nothing as Sirius was thrown into prison. For Remus, he had even more mixed feelings on the man who had allowed him the option of coming to school and the man who had stood by while Sirius was imprisoned without a trial.
For Harry, he was the most incompetent person he’d ever met. In the four years that Harry had been in school, Dumbledore had stood by as numerous dangerous people had infiltrated the school and put the students and staff in harm’s way. The man had put bait in the school filled with children for a Dark Lord, had failed to alert the proper authorities when students were being attacked and petrified, and was the reason that Harry had ended up with the Dursley’s. He wasn’t a bad man, Harry knew. The man’s soul was a good indication of that. It was his history of bad decisions that had Harry wary of including him. And just how was he going to explain to someone why he had decided to stalk a professor in the first place? Sure, the library incident was weird but it was his soul that had Harry on edge.
Fred and George might have accepted that Harry had spent a week trailing the man because he’d been giving Harry a bad feeling but the Headmaster wouldn’t. Not that Harry could fault the man for that as he would be right. “We’ll take care of it,” Remus decided from behind Sirius. “You three keep this to yourselves. It’ll be best if we don’t tip him off that we know he’s not Moody.”
Harry didn’t like it. He nodded in agreement anyways.
“Do you think he’ll actually be able to stay out of it?” Sirius asked after a few moments of silence.
Remus shrugged, his eyes giving away how worried he really was. “Harry has a bad habit of ending up in the middle of things, intentional or not. Somehow, I think this isn’t going to be the exception to that rule.”
“Bugger,” Sirius groaned. Setting down the mirror on the table next to him, Sirius brought his hands up to his temples. This whole thing was giving him a headache. If this was going to be the norm, Sirius was going to have to seriously invest in some anti-anxiety potions and some headache cures. It was amazing that Harry had managed to survive this long without them, he mused. Or maybe it was just luck. He did vaguely remember Harry admitting that he’d been out of his league during his fight with the basilisk.
That stunt he pulled with the dragons only further cemented his theory that his godson was only alive because of luck. Sirius would never forget the horror of watching his godson in that arena and not being able to do anything. Dumbledore was lucky that Harry was okay; if he had been anymore injured than he was, the Headmaster would have been on the top of his ‘kill’ list.
At the moment, though, Sirius was more worried about Barty Crouch Jr. “I almost can’t believe that Crouch broke his son out of jail,” he said, annoyed.
Remus shrugged again before joining Sirius in his misery. “This is going to be hard to explain,” the werewolf groaned. “Dumbledore isn’t going to believe that we investigated Moody ‘just because’ or that we willingly brought Harry into it.”
Yet another problem: just how were they going to explain this to Dumbledore without implicating Harry? Sirius was starting to wonder if life would have been this stressful if his godson had been normal. He had a feeling that it would have probably been worse, thinking about it. At least Harry had the advantage of being an Archangel and older than dirt on his side. He didn’t want to think about what would happen if Harry had gone through all of this without that.
“We could always tell him about the map,” Sirius offered after a moment of thought. “Say that Harry came to us after seeing that the map always identified Moody as ‘Bartemius Crouch’. ”
“That might work,” Remus said after a moment of thinking it over. “It would be suspicious enough for him to come to us and it would keep Dumbledore from looking at things to closely.” At Harry to closely, was what Sirius knew he meant.
The ex-convict didn’t know why it was so important to them to keep Harry’s status from the old Headmaster. Sure, the man made mistakes in the past and Sirius had been on the wrong side of one of them yet at the same time, Dumbledore was human. And Sirius wasn’t completely innocent in that regard either. It had been his choice not to tell anyone who the real secret keeper was and it had been his choice to go after Pettigrew instead of staying with Harry and setting everything straight. That didn’t change the fact that Dumbledore had failed him; it didn’t even mean that Sirius would ever truly forgive the man.
It just meant that Albus Dumbledore wasn’t perfect. And like it or not, they needed him in on this. Going after Moody on their own wasn’t an option.
“I still don’t like this,” Sirius felt the need to say. “We might need him but I don’t like bringing him in on this with Harry’s life on the line.”
While the Tournament might not kill Harry, it certainly could pose a danger to his secret. Making a show of studying nonstop to survive wasn’t going to help if his godson ended up in a position that he needed to use knowledge that a fourteen year old shouldn’t have or be able to do. The public could be just as smart as they were sometimes stupid and even if they didn’t notice, the Hogwarts staff would.
Even now, Sirius could hear Flitwick’s comments on Harry’s performance from Minerva. Apparently, the power behind Harry’s summoning charm that called his broom to him was something that his godson had not demonstrated in class before. Thankfully, they’d written it off as stress and constant studying in preparation for the Tournament.
Next time however they might not be so lucky. Remus and he both knew it. Sirius was willing to be that Harry knew it too.
“I don’t like it anymore than you do.” Remus said. “But we don’t have to like it. We just have to make it work.”
Sirius studied his long time friend before letting his face fall into his hands.
But what if they didn’t? Sirius asked silently. What if making it work wasn’t an option?
A hand settled on his right shoulder before squeezing. Sirius glanced up and locked eyes with Remus.
Then we’ll make it one, the brown eyes said.
Sirius hoped that was true.