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Chapter 2 : Brought to his Knees
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Moody began to creep as quietly as his wooden leg would allow him from room to room. He didn’t turn on the lights, in case that alerted the possible intruder to the fact that Moody was searching for them. Moody just gripped his well-used wand tightly in his scarred hand, ready to strike when necessary. His magical eye scanned each room he entered from top to bottom, as did his normal eye because you can never be too reliant on magical prosthesis. His ears were completely in-tune to his surroundings, ready to pin-point the source of any disturbance. Moody moved as silently as he could around his house, his heart beat slow and almost silent. It had taken him years to control it as such, making it stop beating those loud, fast, frantic beats that would surely give him away in pressured situations.
Moody would be the first to tell you that you could learn a lot about a person from simply looking closely at them. If he was to read and analyse himself, he would discern that he had seen the true horrors of war, and one look at his visage would validate that. His face was so horribly scarred that it looked like a piece of charred wood that some blind artist decided to carve into what he thought was a face. Each scar told a story though; each one was earned over a long career of fighting against dark magic and those who used it.
Furthermore, Moody’s one remaining normal eye confirmed all the horrors he had seen. It was small, dark and beady and was moulded into such a shape after a lifetime of squinting through the darkness, fog and/or smoke that was commonly found in battle. His stare was hard and cold, showing how he had been completely de-sensitised to violence. Nothing disturbed him anymore. His face betrayed none of his feelings or thoughts. He was hardened by war, physically and mentally. He had lost his left leg. It had been cursed off by dark magic, the kind that prevented any sort of rehabilitation. Where his good, loyal leg used to be was a fake wooden leg, one that gave away his position with a dull clunk on every second step he took. To compensate, he had to use a long staff to help him walk, which he resented as it made him feel weak, exposed and vulnerable.
Finally, in addition to all these observations, he would notice that he was rarely seen out of his long, dirty travelling coat. It had many pockets full of antidotes to fast-acting poisons, maps of various parts of the country, a hip-flask, two week’s worth of rations, a small Sneakoscope, parchment, quills, strange optical devices, machines that popped and fizzed and several bottles of dittany. He lived in his coat. He did not like to take it off and leave it unattended as someone could sabotage his antidotes or place a tracking device in it. No, he never took off his coat because he knew that while he was wearing it, he would be ready to face any trouble or danger coming his way. He was a soldier who had seen the true terror of war and that was written all over his body.
Moreover, it was not only your appearance which revealed valuable information about you, your house, your actual living space, had many stories to tell. As Moody snuck around, still searching his rooms, he thought about what they said about him. Firstly, the rooms showed that he had a well ordered mind. The house was exceptionally messy. The wallpaper was old and peeling in every room, and dust clung to it in clumps. Books, parchment, newspapers and reports were scattered all over the floor in most rooms, and all over every table or counter-space there was. Robes, shoes, cloaks and socks were rolled in balls in trunks. Strange contraptions, odd machines, spinning orbs and bizarre beings trapped in jars sat perched precariously atop large piles of parchment. Yet, despite the sheer mess that would certainly cause those people with obsessive cleaning disorders to die, Moody still knew where everything was, and could find anything he wanted quickly and effortlessly. He remembered where everything was and he lost nothing. After all, one man’s mess was another’s filing system.
The second thing Moody’s home revealed about his character was that he left absolutely nothing to chance. A large telescope device hung just above the back of the front door, which allowed Moody to look carefully at whoever was in the garden. It flashed red if the caller’s body temperature rose even slightly (usually a sign of lies) and it scanned over the person, searching for even the slightest drop of spilled Polyjuice Potion (which indicated imposters posing as one of Moody’s four friends). Also, several Sneakoscopes stood sentinel at either side of the door frame. The door had no less than ten locks, all requiring a complex spell to unlock. In every room there were at least two highly sensitive Sneakoscopes sitting on window sills or on book shelves. His large Foe-Glass spent the daylight hours on the mantelpiece in the sitting room, and the hours of darkness on the wall in his bedroom. He had enough supplies in the pockets of his travelling coat to last him a fortnight living rough. His magical trunk had seven locks on it, each opening a different compartment, and the seventh contained a spell bunker which could withstand most jinxes and hexes, and could only be opened by the key holder. He didn’t have a back door as it made his house easier to break into and all his windows were locked and covered with the most advanced security spells. In short, his house was impregnable. No one could get inside.
The third thing that his house publicised was that only the truly deserving gained his trust. Upon closer examination, the door revealed that only four people (excluding Moody himself) were allowed to be admitted: Dumbledore, Shacklebolt, young Tonks and Lupin. The door was trained to recognise their hands and finger prints and no one else’s. And once they had answered three security questions (from a long list of about 120) the door would let them in. No one else could be admitted, unless they were accompanied by Moody himself. Only the truly deserving had Moody’s trust.
And finally, the last thing Moody’s house exposed about him was that he had an undying obsession with puzzles. The walls of his sitting room, his kitchen, his bedroom and his spare room were covered in pictures of Death Eaters, old newspaper clippings and large maps of various towns and cities across the country. Different coloured pins were littered at various intervals on these maps; marking various sightings of elusive Death Eaters, places where bodies were found or last known sightings of people who had disappeared. These pins were all joined together with an intricate spider-web of thread. Black thread indicated murder. Red thread displayed disappearances. Green thread meant under surveillance. Purple thread showed suspected foul play. And finally silver thread meant Voldemort and his Death Eaters.
To an outsider the whole thing gave the impression that the room belonged to a giant colour-loving spider, not a human being, but to those who knew how to read it, they highlighted the connections between every mysterious thing that had happened in Britain for the last thirty years. In addition to this, various photos of Death Eaters, fugitives and other dark wizards were scattered across the walls as well. They leered at Moody with their wild, mad grins. Some were laughing insanely, others were fighting bonds, and others still were staring with a dangerous, murderous glint in their eyes. Moody would spend hours staring at them, hoping to spot something in their appearance that may indicate where they were or what they were up to.
After about an hour and a half of searching his house with a fine tooth comb, Moody found nothing out of the ordinary, aside from a mouse, not an Animagus, just a normal mouse, housing itself between several old books on the Dark Arts. Moody picked up his Foe-Glass and climbed the stairs to go to bed, turning on his security spells with a flick of his wand as he did so. He stored his all important travelling coat in his trunk for safe keeping and then gazed around the room. He had all his packing for Hogwarts to do in the morning. There was no way he was packing up all his Dark Detectors now, what if someone came to attack him in the middle of the night? He would have no warning. No, he would pack everything tomorrow. His rolled his eyes at the thought of having to disable all the Dark Detectors he was bringing with him so he could pack them away safely for travelling. It would be boring and it would take hours.
Sighing deeply, he changed into his pyjamas, took off his wooden leg, placed it in his holder and got into bed. He took his magical eye out of its socket and placed it in a glass of clean water he had conjured with his wand. He then turned off the light. He lay in the darkness, completely alert for a long time. Suddenly, his door creaked. Moody sat bolt upright and snatched his wand out from under his pillow, pointing it at the door as his magical eye gave the whole house a sweeping glance. All his Sneakoscopes were still. He then spotted the curtains quivering slightly in the darkness. He got out of bed to investigate. It was just a draft seeping in through one of the loose seals on the window frame. But how did the seal around the window become loose? Was it simple wear and tear or was it foul play? Moody spent the next quarter of an hour examining the window seal and only went back to bed when he was certain that its looseness was nothing more than simple deterioration. He lay back down in the darkness, and slowly, very slowly, he drifted into a troubled sleep.
Several hours later, Moody awoke experiencing something akin to a heart attack. He was violently pulled from his slumber by the sound of pretty much every Sneakoscope he owned lighting up and going off. The sound was deafening and the light was so blinding that it burnt the image of his bedroom onto his retinas. He groped blindly for his magical eye. In his haste he knocked the glass it was in to the floor. The eye rolled away into the mass of books and parchment. Cursing, he pulled out his wand and summoned the eye to him. He grasped it and popped it into its socket. Immediately his magical eye searched all the rooms below, while his normal eye focused on helping him attach his wooden leg. He then looked into his Foe-Glass, two figures stood in it, clear as day: the faking-his-own-death-Animagus Peter Pettigrew and – and, Moody did not believe what he was seeing: Barty Crouch’s son.
But that was impossible, his ever rational mind told him fiercely, Crouch is dead, died twelve years ago in Azkaban.
Suddenly, there was a sound like cannon fire. Moody’s magical eye locked the source instantaneously: a large section of his sitting room wall had just been blown apart and two hooded men were entering. Moody could not believe what he was witnessing. His house was impenetrable. He had taken every precaution. He had added every security measure under the sun. He had thought of every possible entry point and fortified all weak areas. No one could break through his defences, no one.
There was another blast. Moody pulled himself to his feet. He was slow, so slow, his joints and limbs were aching, protesting against being awoken and moved so suddenly. Moody hated the fact that he was so slow; this was not a time to be slow. He limped to the bedroom door and pulled it open, leaving his staff behind; it would only hinder him in battle. Gripping his wand tightly, he staggered to the stairs, just as the intruders entered the hall. His Sneakoscopes continued to flash and howl.
He fired a stunning spell at the first intruder. The figure dodged it, and fired a hex back at him. He ducked behind the banister just in time to avoid it. He needed to get down the stairs. If he stayed up here he would be trapped for sure. With a speed akin to a much younger man, his head darted over the ramparts of his stairs. He flicked his wand and all the books, newspapers and parchment lying in piles on the floor in the sitting room below flew into the air, launching themselves at the intruders, and more importantly, drawing their attention away from Moody.
Taking advantage of all the confusion and his opponents’ distraction, the Auror hobbled down the stairs as fast as his wooden leg would allow. The Sneakoscopes were still going off everywhere. He could not hear a thing over their din. One of the intruders was shouting at the other, but what he was saying Moody could not discern. Instead Moody attempted to stun the shorter of the pair, Pettigrew, but missed. Realising he was being attacked; Pettigrew pointed his wand at the stairs and shouted something. Almost instantly, the steps beneath Moody’s feet caved, turning into a slide. The legs went from under Moody and he fell down the stairs, knocking off both banister and wall in vain attempts to slow down the speed of his fall. He hit the floor at the end of the stairs hard. He lay in a heap, struggling for air as the breath had been knocked out of him. His head and all his other remaining limbs were throbbing with pain and he had definitely broken a bone, but right now he could not tell which as there were too many pain signals being fired at his brain all at once.
With an immense effort, Moody pulled himself up off the floor. His head was spinning. He staggered into the wall, colliding with it painfully. His vision was blurred. His magical eye was spinning around and around without his volition. There was a flash of light and the shelf above Moody’s head cracked, sending half a book-shop avalanching down on top if him. His head felt like it had been split in two. He had no idea why he wasn’t unconscious. The smell of books smothered him. His lungs inhaled dust. Pointing his wand blindly, he blasted the cave of books off himself. He stood up again. His magical eye had stopped spinning. The parchment was still swirling around Crouch and Pettigrew, like a paper hurricane.
Moody was in the hall. He was face to face with his opponents. It was two on one, not exactly fair but he had duelled and beaten far more before. Moody aimed a stunning spell at Pettigrew, again he dodged it. Growing frustrated, Crouch flicked his wand and all the flying pieces of parchment suddenly burst into flame, turning black and crispy; their ends looking like gnarled talons, before they disappeared, filling the room with black smoke as they did so. Moody sent stunning spell after stunning spell at the intruders. They blocked each one in turn, while firing back their own. Moody evaded them without any great difficulty. He tired to vary his arsenal, using the body-bind curse, and the Confundus Charm, in the hope hitting one of his attackers, who would, in turn, get confused and turn on the other instead. The Sneakoscopes continued to wail, sending blazing sparks of light around the house. Such flashing lights illuminated the room from different angles, casting a series of very menacing shadows that moved suddenly as the source of light changed. Moody kept mistaking the shadows for Pettigrew and Crouch. Several times he fired hexes at these shadows, achieving nothing, aside from blowing a hole in his wall or else smashing one of his possessions.
Dust swirled in the air from colliding spells. The loud cacophony of bangs and crashes punctuated the shrieking of the Sneakoscopes. Danger hung in the room like a kind of crude, intoxicating smell. The debris of Moody’s life soared into the air: books, broken Sneakoscopes, plates, cups, smashed lenses, spinning optical devices, chairs, a large carriage clock and the kitchen sink. Chaos had full reign. Moody did not know where his opponents were. He was casting spells blindly, hoping to hit a target. His magical eye could see through walls, invisibility cloaks and even the back of his own head, but it could not see through fog, smoke or dust-clouds, like the one now encasing the lower storey of his house.
A flash of blue light hit Moody in the side of the head. He fell down for that third time that night, his head smashing into the ground. He was briefly unconscious. When he awoke, he saw Crouch stepping tentatively towards him. Moody rolled over and pointed his wand at the candelabra on the wall, which flew straight at Crouch, the man dived side ways to avoid it. Moody crawled behind his upturned couch, hoping for a small respite so he could gather his thoughts. There is a pause. The dust began to settle. The Sneakoscopes continued to roar, the sound pounding in Moody’s head.
Moody’s whole body was shaking. The side of his head was bleeding profusely. His wrist was definitely broken. His nose was bleeding too. Moody had no recollection of being hit in the nose at all. He brain felt sluggish and slow. His magical eye would not stop spinning. He felt dizzy. He did not understand how Crouch could be alive. He had died in Azkaban. The Dementors had buried him there. Dementors can’t see though, they can only sense people, so it would have been all too easy to switch places with another prisoner when the opportune moment arose. What was more, Moody did not understand what Crouch and Pettigrew wanted with him. He was a retiree with unlimited leisure time. He didn’t have any useful information or anything that could be valuable to Voldemort. Maybe the Death Eaters, like the Auror Office, just wanted him out of the way.
“You’ve fought bravely, Moody,” shouted Crouch, panting heavily. “But you are injured - just come out - and we will end this - quickly.”
The taunt of asking him to surrender seemed to galvanise Moody, tearing him from his thoughts and making his brain catch up with the rest of him. Give up? Him? Never! If he was to die, he would do so fighting, do so defending himself until the very last ounce of strength had been removed from his body. He was Alastor Moody. He didn’t give up. He fought on, always, until the end, and if today was his end, so be it. He was an Auror, he would never stop fighting those who attempted to take his freedom and his life from him. He expected nothing less of himself than that.
Moody managed to focus his magical eye. He looked through the couch he was currently crouching behind. Pettigrew was trembling in a corner, hiding behind the over turned kitchen table. The wall dividing sitting room and kitchen had crumpled. Water was spraying out from the broken kitchen pipes where the sink used to be. Crouch was standing in the middle of the sitting room, his wand pointed directly at Moody. Old Mad-Eye was cornered. He would need something big and impressive to get out of this one. Sparks began igniting into being in his mind. Fires of thought erupted, their rushing flames joining together, mapping the intricate structure of a plan.
With the agility of someone half his age, Moody darted out from behind the couch, pointed his wand at his overturned kitchen table and sent it straight at Crouch. It collided with the Death Eater, sandwiching him between it and the wall. The sheer force with which the table struck caused its legs to become wedged in the bricks. Crouch was trapped. Moody turned his attention then to Pettigrew, who was scrambling to his feet.
Moody stood up, his magical eye still fixed on Crouch. He pointed his wand at Pettigrew and bellowed: “Expelliarmus!” Pettigrew’s wand flew through the air and landed somewhere in the debris of Moody’s demolished sitting room. Pettigrew stood trembling in the corner. He had no wand. He was completely at Moody’s mercy. Again, Moody pointed his wand at the Death Eater but this time he shouted: “Incarcerus!” Large cords flew out of Moody’s wand, they snaked around Pettigrew, tying him up, locking him in their embrace.
Moody limped towards Crouch, his magical eye now fixed on Pettigrew. Crouch was struggling to extract his wand. It was stuck, like him, between table and wall. Moody pointed his wand directly between Crouch’s eyes.
“Don’t move scum,” Moody barked. He focused his attention on Crouch, his magical eye flitting back and forth from Crouch’s trapped wand to Pettigrew tied up in the corner. No one moved for a moment. The sound of the Sneakoscopes pierced the air, their flashing lights making the demolished sitting room look like the lair of some insane, shadowy demon. The slow clock of water droplets from the broken pipes in the kitchen could just be heard amongst the din of the Sneakoscopes. They were like a timer, counting down the seconds that Crouch had left as a free Death Eater.
“Now I’m giving you the chance to give yourself up,” Moody growled, his wand pointed at his trapped intruder, his normal leering. “You have fought your fight and are beaten.”
Crouch simply laughed, he threw his head back and just laughed.
The sound goaded Moody into action. The stunning spell was on his lips, he was about to strike when, suddenly, Pettigrew vanished. He couldn’t have Disapparated, Moody had Anti-Disapparation jinxes set up on his house to prevent such escapes. He must have transformed, Moody deduced quickly, cottoning on to what was happening. He did not like not knowing where Pettigrew was, the cowardly bugger would probably attack when Moody’s back was turned. His magical eye scanned everywhere to find the little rat. It located Pettigrew’s wand in a corner, before it located the rat standing beside it.
“Oh no you don’t, laddie!” barked Moody, allowing his wand and both his eyes to shift from Crouch to Pettigrew.
Several things happened at once. Moody sent a full-body bind curse at Pettigrew, but the rodent miraculously evaded it by wedging itself between two Encyclopaedias. Then suddenly, Pettigrew was a man again and seizing his wand, he sent a hex straight at Moody’s wooden leg, just as Crouch, taking advantage of Moody’s lapse of concentration, extracted his wand from between table and wall and uttered a disarming charm. Moody’s wooden leg was blasted off at exactly the same moment as his wand flew out of his hand. Moody crumpled to the floor, hitting it hard with his knees. It felt like his remaining knee-cap had been cleaved in two. Crouch extracted himself from behind the table and pointed his wand at Moody, immobilising him in that kneeling position. The Death Eater laughed at the sight. Moody was going to die on his knees. Moody didn’t like that. He struggled, but he had no means to overcome the spell without a wand. Crouch observed him for a moment. Pettigrew was standing just left of Moody’s shoulder. Both Death Eaters had their wands raised, pointed straight at the former-Auror’s heart.
They had brought the Great Alastor Moody to his knees. There was nothing old Mad-Eye could to about it. Panting heavily from the strain of his last battle, all he could do was wait. Moody knew what was coming next: the unblockable, unstoppable Avada Kedavra. He did not understand why they were here to kill him. That was the puzzle he could not solve. For all his precautions and calculations, he never saw this ending coming. He was going to die, right here, right now. And not only was he going to die on his knees in front of his attackers like some snivelling coward, but he was going to die with the knowledge that there was one puzzle, one mystery he would never solve. Moody wanted to die gloriously in battle, not on his knees with one puzzle left to be deciphered. There was no glory or heroism in this death. His fighting was done. His puzzle solving days had come to an end. All that remained now was death, the thing itself. There was no glory, no heroics, no last ditch attempts at defence, there was just the last physical act: dying.
Moody’s heart was beating in his chest, ever calm, ever silent. His head, wrist and knees were throbbing, having little heart-beats of their own. He saw Crouch smile vindictively. Pettigrew looked nervous and frightened, cowering slightly behind his considerably more talented comrade. The Death Eaters in the photos on the walls laughed at Moody. A chilling breeze blew in through the hole in the sitting room wall. The Sneakoscopes continued to flash and spin, their deafening shrieks barely registering in Moody’s brain. He thought of Dumbledore with his long silver beard, of Shacklebolt with his deep voice, of young Tonks with her ostentatious pink hair and finally of Lupin with his patched robes and pale face.
There was a flash of red light.
Then the world just came to a sudden, silent and dark stop as Moody's body fell from his knees to the floor and his mind was forced into unconsciousness.
The Great Alastor Moody had been defeated; for the first time in his life, a Death Eater had gotten the best of him. Oh, how he hated it.
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