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Chapter 14 : Chasing Freedom
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Barty’s father held all the control, and he was helpless to do anything but what his father commanded. Under the Imperius Curse and hidden away under an invisibility cloak day after day, Barty’s life turned into one big blur. He could feel his strength return to him slowly over time, thanks to the old family house elf. Winky did the bidding of his father, but with a gentle touch. Barty was soon in top physical condition, but he could not break free of his father’s control.
He would often try to resist his father’s control, concentrating all he had to break free. He never succeeded. He hated to admit it, but his father was a very skilled wizard, and Barty was as useless as a rock without a wand of his own.
So he let it go. He gave up fighting and gave in to his father’s will. It wasn’t a pleasant life, but it was easy. Barty was on a schedule invented by Winky and approved by his father. He would wake up, watch the elf cook breakfast then sit and eat with his father. They hardly spoke at breakfast. His father often liked to pretend that Barty wasn’t there, and thanks to the invisibility cloak, it was an easy task. The only real conversation Barty got was after his father left. Winky would wash the breakfast dishes and Barty would sit and talk to her. After that, Barty was allowed to read his father’s discarded Daily Prophet, keeping him up to date on the news in the Wizarding world.
One evening, while Barty was sitting in the kitchen talking to Winky, a woman showed up unannounced in the fireplace. Winky gasped a dropped a cup and squeaked out a plea for Barty to remain quiet.
She went out to greet the newcomer. “Good evenin’ miss.”
“Good evening, would you please inform your master that Bertha Jorkins is here to see him?”
“Master Crouch isn’t here at the moment, miss.”
The woman looked around the sitting room. “Who were you talking to before, then?” she asked.
Winky looked frightened. “I was talkin’ to no one, miss.”
“I heard you, elf.” Bertha said and peered around suspiciously. Winky was spared answering by the arrival of Bartemius Crouch himself.
“Why Bertha, this is a surprise! To what do I owe the pleasure?” he said as he motioned for her to take a seat. He threw a cautious glance at Winky and she scuttled away back into the kitchen, returning moments later with a tray of tea.
“Thank you Winky, that will be all.” He dismissed the elf and she returned to Barty in the kitchen. For his part, Barty thought nothing much of this particular visitor; he stayed as quiet as he could and spoke quietly to Winky.
A moment later the kitchen door was opened and Bertha walked in. “I swear I heard voices coming out of this kitchen!” Bertha glanced once in Barty’s direction and passed over his invisible form.
“It’s just my house elf in here Bertha,” Barty’s father tried to convince her, but even Barty heard the false note in his voice.
“You’re lying to me Crouch, I could have sworn I heard a male voice…”
Many things happened all at once, Barty sneezed violently, the invisibility cloak slipped, and he made eye contact with Bertha. She looked horrified and stood rooted to the spot. His father acted so quickly that Barty wasn’t sure he had moved at all. As Bertha continued to stare open-mouthed at him, Barty heard a whispered muttering from his father and as he watched, her eyes grew unfocused and a confused expression was left on her face.
“Barty, for Merlin’s sake, put the cloak back on quickly!” His father spat in his direction, steering Bertha back towards the sitting room. Barty righted himself in time to hear the swoosh of the fire, before his father was back in the kitchen.
“I’ve modified her memory and sent her home, she won’t remember seeing or hearing you,” his father said, all in one breath and then quickly exited the room, shouting for Winky to bring him a large glass of fire whiskey.
Setting aside that close call, Barty had no more encounters with any strangers, and his days passed like normal. Barty spent the next few years doing pretty much what he always did, occasionally reading up on his favorite Quidditch teams in the paper. Winky observed him closely and begged his father to let him watch a game.
After quite a lot of begging, his father agreed and occasionally he would permit him to go watch a local Quidditch match, accompanied by Winky and always under the protection of the invisibility cloak. If someone asked Winky what she was doing, she would say she was saving a seat for her master. Though not entirely the truth, this saved the elf from outright lying to anyone.
These matches were good practice for what Winky had planned. She approached his father one day after dinner and asked if Barty would be allowed to attend the Quidditch World Cup. He was hesitant at first, until Winky pointed out that Barty had been on his best behavior at every other Quidditch game, why should this one be any different?
So Barty was allowed to attend. He and Winky were put up in the top box hours before the game started. Barty watched as the stands around him filled with fan eager to witness what was sure to be the game of the century. Winky on the other hand was not enjoying herself, the poor elf was so afraid of heights that she covered her eyes and wouldn’t look down.
As the stadium filled up, Barty looked around at all the wizards assembled there. He had an old pair of omnioculars and used them to look around. He spotted several of his old classmates, and even a professor or two. He was so busy looking around that he didn’t notice Winky talking to a small group of people in front of him.
The game began and Barty watched with hungry eyes as the Irish and Bulgarian players fought it out on the pitch. Barty was fascinated with the game and with his omnioculars with which he could see everything. Something caught his attention, a shiny spot reflected through his omnioculars made him blink and rub his eyes. When he looked back through them to see what had caused the blinding light, his heart gave a little lurch.
Aurora was seated on the opposite side of the pitch, and Barty felt nothing but love for her. He had forgiven her long ago for turning him in, and the sight of her face here, after years of solitude changed something within him. Barty felt his mind clear and the chains of magic that bound him to his father snapped.
He was free. He was furious.
Furious at his father for keeping him locked up, for sentencing him in the first place, for making him live in that hell hole Azkaban. Barty acted without thinking, he quickly made sure Winky was still covering her face and he grabbed a wand out of the pocket of the boy sitting in front of him and quietly exited the box.
Barty didn’t know where to go, he didn’t even know where he was. He decided to lay low under the cover of his invisibility cloak and wait for the game to finish. He knew that other wizards would soon return home after the game, all Barty had to do was follow them and then he would be that much closer to freedom.
The game ended and as people were exiting the stands he again spotted Aurora. With more courage then he ever possessed before in his life, Barty followed her back to her tent. He entered silently behind her and watched her make tea. She looked well, happy and healthy and full of life. Barty’s love for her increased the more he watched.
He had no idea how long he stood there, just watching her make tea and clean up. She had just pulled on a coat and readied herself to leave, when a disturbance at the entrance of her tent made her stop. Barty turned and with horror saw the small form of Winky step inside the tent.
Aurora frowned slightly. “Are you lost?”
“No, miss. Winky is lookin’ for her master,” Winky replied and looked straight at Barty, who was still hidden beneath his invisibility cloak.
“Well, um, your master isn’t in here, it’s just me…” Aurora looked younger, more like the girl he fell in love with all those years ago, when she was confused, and Barty wanted nothing more than to revel himself to her.
Winky snapped her fingers and Barty felt a pull to follow the little creature. Winky looked back to Aurora, “Sorry miss, Winky will leave you now.” With that, Winky left the tent, dragging Barty with her as she went.
A scream tore through the night as Barty exited the tent. Shouts soon followed and people started running. A group of masked individuals were coming toward him; Barty recognized them as death eaters. They were the ones creating havoc and Barty was disgusted. In all the chaos, Barty fought against the hold Winky had on him. He had been so close to freedom, only to have in taken from him by a stupid worthless house elf.
She dragged him into the forest and Barty started to panic. He needed some way to break free of the hold she had on him, he tried several spells with no luck. He thought back to all the spells he had learned, and nothing in his arsenal would break this spell.
Come on Barty think. His mind wandered back to the masked death eaters and, like a light bulb, a thought occurred to him. It was dangerous, and probably very stupid, but it was his only chance at freedom. It would also most likely terrify those cowards in masks.
He raised his wand above his head, took a deep breath and shouted, “Morsmordre!”
As he expected a group of wizards soon appeared, each firing off stunners, one hit Winky and with a triumphant look on his face, Barty turned. He was about to make a run for it when a stunner hit him as well.
Barty awoke to the sight of his father’s leering face inches from his, “What were you thinking? You fool!”
Barty could only stare as the man took out his wand, “You will never be free.” A single tear rolled down Barty’s cheek before his father pointed his wand in his face and said “Imperio!”
Helena rounded a corner and continued to floating along the corridor slowly; setting an easy pace for the tiny professor and his short little legs. Her mind often wandered back to the night she heard Barty’s story, and she often felt triumphant that Barty had been captured. Now however, she was conflicted.
Now that she knew his entire story, her heart was at war with her mind. Logically, she thought he should be punished for the crimes he committed. But her heart mourned for that which Barty gave up. When he joined the dark lord, he gave up a life of happiness that could have been spent with Aurora. She showed her grief through a single ghostly tear.
Evidently, Fillius noticed the change in her demeanor. “My dear, it is not healthy to dwell on things that cannot be changed.”
She nodded. He was right, things couldn’t be changed for Barty, but she wished that she had known more about him that night.
“Fillius?” She asked, suddenly curious.
“Yes my dear?” he replied.
“Did you ever…suspect there was more going on with Professor Moody—with Barty that year than what met the eye?”
He thought for a moment, then shook his head. “Young Barty fooled us all.”
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