Chapter 11 : Falling Apart
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Barty was cold, miserable, and out of breath. The alleyway he was currently hiding in provided no source of shelter from the biting wind. He had been on the run for less than a week and already he was a mess.
The rumors were spreading, rumors that he had tortured the Longbottoms. Angry citizens were on the hunt now. They were after him and he had to keep moving. He and the Lestranges had gone their separate ways a day or two after they ran from the Longbottom residence.
They planned to meet up next week at an old cottage out in the country. The problem Barty faced was getting out of the city. Aurors were everywhere rounding up Death Eaters and their accomplices. Barty had narrowly escaped capture thus far by trying to blend into the crowd. But it was getting harder.
Everywhere he went, Barty herd snippets of conversation. A whisper here about the Potters, a laugh here about the Dark Lord. Barty didn’t know what to believe. He needed answers, but he didn’t know who he could trust.
The Grey Lady and Professor Flitwick continued to roam the castle. Neither one wanting to break the silence. But the Grey Lady had a question.
“Fillius?” The tiny Professor turned to her, “Have you ever spoken to Aurora about this?”
He pondered a moment then answered, “Yes… I well… She was always very fond of me and I of her when she was a student. She and I corresponded for many years after she left Hogwarts.”
The Grey Lady waited, and when he said nothing further she prompted him, “She wrote about Barty?”
He looked away from her and changed direction. He lead her down passageways and corridors, past broken staircases and smashed in windows. The Grey Lady had no idea where they were going.
Fillius stopped in front of a door and passed his wand over it, muttering something under his breath. He led the Grey Lady into a comfortable looking study that looked untouched by the war.
The desk was small, but a comfortable size for the tiny professor. He rummaged through a drawer and pulled out a box of letters. He flipped through them until her found the one he was looking for.
“Yes Aurora did write to me about Barty. She wrote me this letter.” He tapped the letter against the desk. “This dratted letter!” He shouted in a sudden fit of rage and threw it across the room.
He threw anything he could get his hands on until his study looked like it had been the victim of this war.
The Grey Lady waited until the rampage ended, and floated towards the tiny professor, who lay hunched on top of his pile of letters.
“Barty…” he whispered, his eyes drooping shut. His breathing slowed and soon he was asleep. The Grey Lady waited a moment, then floated over to the letter Aurora had written all those years ago. It lay open on the floor, and the Grey Lady read the contents with a little frown and wished that she too could sleep away the memories.
Aurora sat in her dressing gown in her tiny flat that she had bought shortly after leaving Hogwarts. She paced in front of the window trying to wrap her mind around the latest rumors. Barty Crouch tortured the Longbottoms… No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t accept it as truth.
The Barty she knew wouldn’t do something like that. The Barty she knew was kind and funny and super brilliant. The Barty she knew… was the Barty she had fallen in love with. She didn’t know when the realization had hit her, but she loved Barty, and would do anything for him.
A knock at her door brought her out of her thoughts. She looked at the clock, half past midnight… who in the world...? She checked that she had her wand on her, and went cautiously to the door.
“Who’s there?” Aurora called through the closed door. She heard the shuffle of feet and then someone clearing their throat. “It’s me…” a hoarse voice called, “B- Barty Crouch.”
Aurora backed away from the door, her mind racing. What was Barty doing here? How on Earth did he know where she lived? She hesitated, one hand reaching for the door, the other for her wand. What should she do?
“Aurora… please…” Barty sounded pitiful and Aurora made her mind up then. She rushed forward and opened the door.
“Hurry, quick get inside.” She ushered him in and closed the door behind him. She ran to close the curtains on the windows, while Barty stood lamely in the hallway.
Aurora finished her task and stood looking at Barty. He looked… well he looked like he had been trampled by a Hippogriff. He stepped forward into the light and she could see his pale skin and his thinning hair.
“I- I’m sorry… I didn’t know where else to go.” He said and crumpled to the floor. “Aurora, I need to know… are the rumors true? Is You-Know-Who dead?” Aurora nodded.
He let out a gut wrenching wail and continued, “I’m so messed up Aurora! I don’t know how it all went wrong!”
He sobbed and Aurora was lost for words. Tears were the last thing she expected out of him. She needed answer though so she picked him up of the floor.
“Barty listen to me, I need to know what I’m getting into. Did you or did you not, toruture Alice and Frank Longbottom?” She stared into his dark eyes and saw the truth.
“I- I didn’t… I just…”
“You complete COW!” Aurora screamed, “DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'VE DONE?!?”
Barty paled, then gained some courage, “HE KILLED LYSANDRA! HE KILLED MY COUSIN!”
“SO THAT MAKES IT OKAY?!?” Aurora was beyond herself with rage. She needed to calm down, but couldn’t seem to.
“NO!” Barty screamed, then backed off, “He killed her and they didn’t do a thing about it. The ministry just let him get away with murder!”
Aurora was silent a moment, gathering her wits, “Barty… I know it wasn’t right, but he didn’t mean to… it was an accident Barty.” The pleading look in her eyes made him understand.
“I know.” He whispered. He looked down at his feet and licked his lips, “I know it was an accident, but I couldn’t just sit there and do nothing.” The passion in his voice brought tears to her eyes.
“Barty… I…” She needed to tell him this, needed him to understand, “I… love you very much. I have for some time now. I understand why you had to act, but it still doesn’t make it okay.”
Barty looked into her eyes, and for a moment she could see past his woebegone state and see the Hogwarts schoolboy she fell in love with. He reached out and brushed her hair off her cheek.
“I’m leaving,” he announced abruptly and made his way to the door. Aurora looked at him and was lost for words.
“I have to meet up with some people, but look,” he crossed the room and took her hand, "I want you to come with me.” His eyes shined with schoolboy mischief again and Aurora was tempted.
“But Barty…” She was torn, “Who are you meeting up with?” she asked.
He backed away, “I promised I’d meet them,” he looked away.
Aurora knew who he was meeting, she had known before she had asked. A plan was forming in her mind, she would sneak out after her neighbors saw she was okay. People had been randomly disappearing since the fall of the Dark Lord and the Ministry urged people to report anyone missing.
“I have to wait… the neighbors will report to the Ministry if they don’t see me tomorrow,” she explained. “Write down the location, and I’ll meet you there as soon as I can.” She gathered parchment and a quill for him. He scribbled an address and Aurora hid the paper in her pocket.
Barty was at the door when her turned back, “I love you too Aurora.” With that he opened the door and was gone.
Aurora stood in her now empty flat, her heart racing with the plan she had just concocted. She crossed the room and opened the door to her study/bedroom. At the desk she pulled out the piece of parchment.
She waited, she knew the sun would rise in a few hours and she was too wired to sleep. She gathered her box of old letters and flipped through them for something to do. She reached a letter from her old school professor and stopped.
She hadn’t given any thought to the plan, she had made a hasty decision. Would her old professor be proud of her very un-Ravenclawish behavior? Her face fell as realization dawned on her. She couldn’t run away with Barty, he was a wanted criminal. She loved him, but she couldn’t do this.
She sat for a moment, unsure what to do next. She carefully folded up the address Barty had given her, and began to write a letter to Professor Flitwick.
The next morning Aurora woke to the sound of her owl, Lepida, pecking at her window. She let him in and gave him an owl treat.
She sat down at her desk and opened the response from her old friend.
You did the right thing in contacting me. I have let the Aurors know where Mr. Crouch and his accomplices are. He should be in custody soon.
Aurora folded up the letter and put it away. She went back to her bed, laid down, and cried herself to sleep.
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