Her breathing came in small hick-ups; she had been crying for hours, but now it seemed she had run out of tears. Her face was tight, and white, and still. She looked out over the street in search of her husband; her hands clutching in front her breast which raised and sank rapidly. The greyish hair had been pulled back into a loose knot in her neck, but several locks had escaped and cascaded down in front of her face. She could have been beautiful, had been beautiful, had not her sorrows weighed heavily down on her shoulders making them slouch and her seem like she was 20 years older than her actual age.
She could not focus on anything else but her husband’s return. If she tried to look beyond a range of time larger than 2 hours grief got hold of her yet again and she would cry her eyes out. Her eyes searched the area in front of their home hungrily like a she-wolf looking for meat to feed her cubs. She had waited patiently for him to return. For three hours she had stood in front of that window as rigid as now. Without moving. There was no sound in the house, but a long case clock in the sitting room. Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. The same sound every second reminding her that she was wasting time. That life was running away in an ever increasing pace. “For whom does the bell ring?” she thought,”Not for me”.
Her heart caught, when she suddenly saw him coming seemingly out of nowhere. She held her breath and hurried away form the window. She did not want him to know she had been awaiting his arrival. From the small window in the sitting room she followed him with her eyes as he approached the house. His body was rigid and stiff like he was suffering from gruesome pain and didn’t want anybody to see. Thus he had always been. Even on their wedding day he had stood rigid and proud at the alter waiting for her. He had never relaxed. Suddenly he disappeared in the bottom of the window and she knew he would be entering the house within seconds. The soft opening and closure of the front door told her that her husband was now in the house. She could hear him place his briefcase on the chest of drawers in the hall. Like he always did. Hear him take of his heavy ministerial cloak and hang it on the hanger. Like he always did. He entered the house as he always did without evasions. Like nothing had ever happened.
“Mary?” his voice carried from below up to her, but she found herself unable to answer. Her answer was stuck in her throat. She could not answer the searching tone in his voice.
He went up the stairs in a patient pace. He knew why she didn’t answer him. He knew she hadn’t done anything, what he would call, stupid.
The door opened softly and gave an annoyed sound like a spoiled child told that it can’t have its way. He peeked at her from the door. He had barricaded himself behind the door in fear of more tears and pleadings. She sat silently with her hands in her lap and focused on them. They only trembled a little. It was barely visible.
Reassured that she kept her position he moved into the room. She still didn’t look at him. He moved quickly over the floor and fell to his knees before her and covered her hands with his own. The gesture didn’t surprise her; he had always been very dramatic.
“Mary… Mary, please say something.” His voice was a pleading whisper. He lifted one of her hands gently and kissed it. His moustache tickled the soft skin of her hand slightly. She still didn’t move.
He wanted her to look at him. Kiss him and say that all was forgiven. That they would carry on. Like always. But this time she could not.
Gently she tore her hand from his grasp and felt him tremble slightly. She stood up and moved away from him. She positioned herself in front of the window again without a sound.
His voice was thick with guilt when he spoke, but not guilt from what he had done. It was thick with guilt because of how he had made her feel.
“Mary! Mary, what should I have done?! I could not have pardoned him! There was too much evidence! Mary, please!”
“He is your son.”
“You said he wasn’t. You said you had no son. To his face. His beautiful face.” Her voice was barely more than a whisper, but loud enough for him to hear.
“If he is your son, you will get him out from that… that horrible place…”
“Mary… you know I can’t… he was convicted. All agreed…”
“He is your son!” her voice was dripping with poison. This was only one argument against his many arguments, but hers, at least, was valuable and right.
He got up slowly, supporting himself to the chair. She turned around and looked him straight into the eye.
“Barty, I have never asked anything of you. I have always been the perfect politician’s wife. Always. I have supported you in every way possible. Have you ever had any reason to complain of me?”
He shook his head slightly; admitting the truth in her statement.
“Then do this for me… this one thing and I shall never ask anything of you! Barty, I’m ill.” at this he turned away quickly; he had never wanted to admit her increasingly bad health. She held his gaze firmly,”I will not live long! Don’t let me die knowing that my only child is in Azkaban!” Tears had formed in her eyes and she could feel the dizziness return. She swayed at little, but he caught her before she fell. He had gotten used to these attacks, but they still caught him off guard. There was no controlling them.
He placed her in one of the big chairs and watched her anxiously until she could hold his gaze firmly again, “please, Barty. He’s our son. Our child. Don’t ask me to abandon him now. No matter what he has done or not done… he is still my child.”
Beads of perspiration had formed on her upper lip and on her forehead. He placed his hand gently on her forehead; she was burning up. Gently he lifted her up, so her head rested on his shoulder. Barty Crouch was not a physically strong man, but Mary he had always been able to lift. It was pathetic; she didn’t weigh much more than a child. He held her firmly and carried her into their bedroom. He placed her on the bed and covered her feverish body with a blanket. He sat down besides her not knowing quite what to do. She had forbidden him to take her to St. Mungo’s, but he was afraid. Afraid of the fact that he was losing her.
She was right. She had earned this one thing, but his hands trembled at the mere thought. He would never tell Mary, but he knew his son to be guilty of all those horrible things he had been accused of. He just knew. How? How could he save their son? That was the only thing that mattered. He knew Mary would do anything if her son could be sparred, and he had always respected that quality in her.
He stroked her cheek patiently and watched her until some colour rose to her cheeks. She looked like an old woman, when she opened her eyes and looked straight into his.
“I… I’ll do it, Mary” he whispered,” I just don’t know how…”
She whimpered slightly from the pain, but he knew she wanted to say something, so he leaned forward to hear the breath of words that came from her,
“Let me… take his place…”
He tore himself away from her with a shocked expression, “No. No, Mary. I cannot allow that.”
She starred at him with a pleading look, “Barty, I don’t have much time… we don’t have much time…”
He felt a large lump in his throat and buried his face at her neck and said with a muffled voice, “I’ll do it, Mary. I’ll do everything you ask of me.”
She smiled a feverish smile and closed her eyes soundly, resting her cheek against the top of his head.