Chapter 8 : The Weighty Choice
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Barty's vision was blurring.
The solemn and dementor-like atmosphere was drawing him into the confines of his cynical, grieving mind. He could no longer see the coffin in front of him, but Barty knew that Lysandra wouldn't appreciate her bland resting place, absent of any color or decoration. Barty wanted to duplicate Lysandra's hair colors onto the coffin, splashing her vibrancy there for the whole family to see. Couldn't they tell they were missing out on what life had to offer, what they themselves were devoid of?
Lysandra was always the one who kept things in the Crouch family interesting― no, she kept them alive. Half the ordeals, dangerous or not, that Barty experienced throughout his life were with Lysandra, his guide to the real world. She was, to say the least, an amazing creature, and the best relative Barty could have ever wished for. She was undoubtedly real without a need to hide behind a facade. And now what? He closed his eyes and saw the purple vision flit across his view once more. Frank Longbottom was the one who shot that jet of purple light at Lysandra. He was the one who killed her, who killed Barty's rescuer, Barty's hero...
Where was that devil's spawn, anyway? Did he not feel any remorse for his actions? He had obviously chosen not to show up at Lysandra's funeral, sparsely populated with just the few members of the Crouch family and the Ministry wizard there watching over the burial process. Barty knew that Frank had not been punished severely for his cousin's death by the Ministry as of yet. After all, Barty grudgingly admitted to himself, it†had been†an accident. However, that did not make Longbottom's actions inexcusable, and Barty's eyes flitted angrily over the scene. Lysandra wouldn't be lying in that coffin if Frank Longbottom had aimed his wand elsewhere.
"Bartemius," his father said to him sharply, "it's time to leave."
Barty kneeled down in front of Lysandra's gravestone, a mulish expression gracing his features. "Please, Father, I'd like to stay here a bit more."
"We can't afford to stay, Bartemius," Crouch told him exasperatedly, anxiously looking around so he could try to avoid making a public scene. He was the Head of Magical Law Enforcement, and the press was surely following his every move. It had taken him great pains to lose the gaggle of cameras following him to attend this small funeral, and Crouch surely didn't want to take any more unnecessary risks.
Barty's mouth pressed into a firm line, and he couldn't care less about his father's political worries. "Father, I told you, I want to stay."
"Oh, come, Bartemius, do let the boy have some time with his cousin," Mrs Crouch pleaded, placing a trembling hand on her husband's arm.
"No," said Crouch, his word laying down the law like always. "I told the boy that we need to leave. It's about time he cut ties with his foolish, rambunctious cousin and it's going to happen now."
Bitterness rose up in Barty's throat as he looked down at Lysandra's drab gravestone. His father had always been this way, limiting his options, controlling him every way he turned, just so he could further his ambitions. He knew his father had never liked Lysandra and had wanted to disown her, but cutting ties with his foolish, rambunctious, and lovable cousin right at this very convenient (in his father's eyes) opportunity? Never!
Crackling hate burned in Barty's eyes like a roaring fire as he turned his gaze upon his authoritarian father. However, Crouch didn't even flinch. Although Barty could feel his father's choking hold gradually dragging his resolve away, he made a last desperate attempt to hold it firmly in his grip.
"Father, please, just a few more minutes!"
"Bartemius―" Crouch started forward but was quickly intervened by his wife.
A tense silence hung in the air around the Crouch family as they looked down upon Lysandra's grave. Barty traced the engraved lettering on her gravestone with his fingertip, the action helping him cool down a bit. "Father," he murmured, "where's Longbottom?"
"Longbottom?" Crouch asked. "Well, of course, he's at the Ministry in the Auror Department!"
"I mean," Barty said quietly, "why isn't he here at her funeral?"
Crouch gave his son a disdainful look. "Bartemius, imagine all the fuss that would occur if Longbottom even showed his face at the funeral. No, no, I asked Longbottom not to attend. I don't want the murderer anywhere close to us, clouding the Crouch family name."
Furious flames jumped up once more in Barty's eyes. It was too late for the Crouch family name to be prevented from a bit of tainting― his lovely cousin, Lysandra, had already fulfilled that job. However, it was not the fact that his father asked Longbottom to skip out on the funeral that irked Barty more than anything. That, of course, was expected, but he could barely believe that Longbottom had actually followed his father's orders. He had heard that this famous young Auror was brave, noble, and kind-hearted. Evidently, he was not kind-hearted enough to show up at his victim's funeral. Barty vehemently vowed that Longbottom would not only pay for one, but two, unforgivable crimes.
Was this what the world had come to now? Aurors were killing innocent people left and right and no one was stopping them. A feeling of disgust crept up Barty's spine at the thought and he shivered. To think that he once admired and respected such people made him want to hurl his breakfast. He turned away from Lysandra's grave in shame and stood up unsteadily.
"All right, Father, I'll go now," Barty said meekly, twisting his hands together apprehensively.
After a scalding remark from his father in response, Barty mutely followed his parents out of the graveyard, shoulders hunched and deep in thought. He hadn't forgotten Rabastan's offer last year at Hogwarts, the offer that he had barely glanced at back then considering the circumstances. However, he could see now that Rabastan was absolutely right in his ways. Surely the Dark Lord would help his cause and assist him in avenging Lysandra by making Longbottom suffer. Yes, certainly, Barty would join the Dark Lord along with Rabastan and the others.
Barty felt a thrill run through his body and smiled, excited for what was to come. As he rubbed his left arm absentmindedly, he decided that he would send an owl to Rabastan later that night, informing him of his weighty choice.
"When Dumbledore told me that Frank hadn't shown up at Lysandra's funeral, I knew immediately that Barty would've taken offense to that. Frank's a good fellow and I'm sure he stayed out of the way as to give the family some breathing room, but there's no way Barty could've known that," Flitwick said to Helena as they walked down the Charms corridor.
"So that's why Barty acted so strangely when he came back to Hogwarts?" Helena asked wonderingly.
"Yes, my dear," Flitwick replied. "I should have pressed him more about the ordeal, I know now. I was sure the boy was suffering. I should have reached out to him, attempted to convince him to not make this life-changing decision."
"By then, Filius, it would be too late," the Grey Lady reminded him. "You said so yourself that Lysandra's death was the point of no return. There was nothing you could've done for that boy by then when he returned to Hogwarts. He had already made up his mind."
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