Tom sat in the metal chair with the shackles on his hands and the black cage around him for the second time now in the past six months. This time was for his first "checkup". Crouch wanted an update on how Tom was doing, so he made both Tom and Dumbledore come back for what seemed like a second trial. The difference though was that this time the room was almost empty. The ministry's employees had better things to do the second time around. Four men, two of them being Crouch and Dumbledore, plus Tom stood alone in the room. Dumbledore had told him that the other two men were from the auror department. They had been assigned to the trial as a precautionary measure in case Tom went death eater on poor defenseless Crouch. The first auror was a large black man wearing a cloak that was about the same blue as Dumbledore's. The other was older than the first, with short wiry hair that framed his pale face. The darker skinned auror stood beside Tom's cage as if to make sure that he didn't make a run for it while the other one stood by Crouch acting as a body guard.
Dumbledore looked peeved by the cage and shackles, as he stood on the opposite side of Tom's prison. Crouch on the other hand seemed edgy, like he didn't think that the cage and two aurors were enough.
"Well let's get this over with," Crouch said as it appeared no one else was going to show up," The date is December the first, and you have been at Hogwarts for about three months now. I understand that you haven't done anything unadvisable yet?" Crouch put emphasis on the word yet, as if to imply that this streak of goodness would not last.
"He hasn't so much as showed up to class late yet," Dumbledore replied calmly. It wasn't exactly a lie, he was always on time. There were those few occasions when he had never gotten out of bed of course, and thus never showed up at class in the first place.
Crouch narrowed his eyes at Dumbledore and continued, "Yes, well we have had a chat with the death eater Augustine York while you were at Hogwarts, and we have found that you have killed exactly forty nine muggles since you were three," Tom flinched at the number, " You have tortured countless more. I have talked with the min-"
"I thought we agreed the boy couldn't be blamed for past actions Barty. You decreed it yourself in our first meeting, unless it has become a habit of the ministry to start ignoring ruling number 613. As you know, if you want him in Azkaban now without proof of a threat you are going to have to hold a full trial with every member of the ministry's jury in attendance. If you want that then you should organize it, and you shall see just how efficient lawyer I can be," Dumbledore's words came out almost in an amiable way, but the threat was clear. Tom wasn't going anywhere any time soon.
"He's got a point Crouch. Anyway he doesn't seem like he wants to kill everybody. The boy looks like he's twelve how much harm could he do?" The large black auror said.
Crouch glared at the auror, "Kingsley you are here on assignment, not to give your opinion," Crouch sneered. Kingsley held his hands in the air to show that he didn't mean to harm Crouch's case; however, it was clear that he wasn't revoking his words.
"When we sentenced the boy I was under the assumption that he had killed maybe one or two muggles not forty nine. Dumbledore at what point do we decide that enough is enough, and put the killer in jail?" Crouch asked aggressively.
Dumbledore shook his head, "You know what they say Barty. When you assume you make an ass out of you and me. I simply saw a boy in need when I stepped in. I would have done it again if I had known he had killed a thousand men. The circumstances he was under are as good of an excuse as the Imperius curse itself."
Crouch twitched a little as his argument quickly crumbled, "Yes well then I think we are done for now. We will just have to wait for the killer to take another life before we decide to act on anything."
Tom looked at the ground as the two men argued over his situation. He deserved Azkaban for what he had done. The only thing that kept him from volunteering to go into the prison at that moment was the people that he would have to face when he got there. He wasn't ready for any reunions yet. On top of that, he was starting to get used to this new life. He was doing well in school, as was to be expected, and he had made friends. Friends he didn't deserve. Friends that would be horrified if they knew the truth.
He must have been certifiably insane to ask the question, but he did it anyway, "I would like to spend Christmas with my friend, Scott. His family invited me to stay over break. I um, would really like to go."
As soon as he spoke there were four sets of eyes on him. The two arguing men immediately silenced by his voice. Crouch looked stunned as if asking such a thing was preposterous. "Absolutely not," he cried out immediately.
Dumbledore turned his gaze from Tom back to Crouch, "I think it's a great idea. You say that he has an incessant need to kill muggles. I know you are quite incorrect. Scott McNight is a muggle born and he is best friends with Tom. The fact that his parents are muggles never bothered Tom in the slightest. You think he is a danger to muggles well this can be your test. I will give you my word that nothing will happen. If I am wrong you can send us both to Azkaban."
Crouch paused as if weighing the pros and cons of three lives lost vs. having Dumbledore and Tom in jail. In the end he made himself a compromise between the two options, "He may go but his wand and any other magical objects will not go with him. He will be watched the entire time by people we will have stationed around the house. He will not be able to see these people, but they will be there. Hopefully when you are proven wrong our people will be able to stop him before any lives are lost."
Dumbledore nodded with a smile on his lips, "I believe we have an agreement then Barty."
Crouch nodded. He wore a false sadness on his face as he looked at Dumbledore, “I’m sorry to say that this will be the last time that we meet when you have your freedom Dumbledore."
Dumbledore's eyes sparkled with humor, "Yes, well you shouldn't worry yourself over such little things. You will find that you have no more room to worry about things that will actually come to pass."
With that Dumbledore led Tom out of the ministry. Tom tried to push the thoughts of the forty nine muggles into the locked volt of bad memories that took up most of his head, and tried to focus on the good things. For example, Scott was going to be overjoyed that he would be able to come over at Christmas.