Chapter 1 : Derwent Demented
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The fact that I performed the Kiss was all a matter of being first on the scene. Usually, this sort of good luck never happens to me. The other Dementors aren’t too fond of me, see, so I rarely get to Kiss at all. It’s a bloody autocracy if you ask me (not that many ever do), that Azkaban. I wasn’t even invited to guard Hogwarts last year, and missed the almost-harvest of Sirius Black. No, only Dukey Dementor and his particular favorites (generally the dumbest and biggest Dementors) got to attend that little field trip. Not fair at all. Bloody Dukey Dementor: he was surely a Slytherin.
Dukey Dementor has held a particular distaste for me. Merlin knows why, but its not so bad. Usually he just uses his cronies to use as protection from particularly nasty Patronuses, so I’m not missing out.
Anyway, so when we were summoned to Hogwarts this time around I made sure I was the first to swoop in. The others shot what would have been classified as outraged glares among humans as I glided into Barty Crouch Jr.’s cell. His cold, cunning eyes looked into my grizzled flesh as I lovingly lowered my hood and reached for him.
I actually got a few good memories out of him before the others pulled me away. A brand new, palomino rocking horse that actually whinnied. Arriving at Hogwarts for the first time. Dueling some crazy-looking Auror and the maddening satisfaction of victory. His joy at only feeding the captive man squirrel entrails. Ok, so this guy was a bit of a crackpot. They usually are, the ones we actually are allowed to Kiss.
We’re all homesick for the days of mercenary Dementors, those golden years when wizards would pay to sic Dementors on their enemies and ex-lovers and such. I myself was Kissed back in those brigand days of free agent Dementors, but it was a few short years later when the Dominant Dementing Directives were put into place by the Wizemgamot and we Dementors were carted off to guard Azkaban.
Ah, I’m getting off track. A reason is no excuse, as I used to tell my children, but to be fair I do have a mottled lump of grey matter for a brain so I’m at a slight disadvantage on the logical thinking front.
Anyway, back to Barty Crouch Jr. and his first Kiss. Well, it only takes one! Ha, see what I did there? Dementors have humour too!
My kids used to cringe at my jokes.
“Dad, please just don’t repeat that in public!” my son Duggle would groan, but he’d be chuckling in spite of himself. Most of the jokes centered around vegetables, but perhaps some of them were a little rotten. (Ha!)
Well, Crouch had this one memory I slurped out before Dukey Dementor could get his clammy claws into him, and this was the particular memory to change my, er, post-Kiss life.
A woman, haggard with disease and grief, determined to liberate her only son before her inevitable death. Smiling, she puts her palms to her son’s grubby cheek, kisses the Azkaban-shrunken forehead. Her love will liberate him.
Now, not that Crouch had a particularly loving or grateful soul: the main reason for this memory being happy was the fact of his freedom. But the adoration in the mother’s dying eyes ran through me like a flush of fresh spring water. Love.
In this rare moment, as I watched Dukey Dementor wrap his arms around ol’ Barty’s limp figure, I began to remember my life before I was Derwent Dementor, when I was Derwent Diggle.
My wife: Delilah, her pink face and small smile warming me through the kitchen window as she looked out into the garden. My son, Danny, dark-haired and sure-footed, as I taught him how to properly weed a tomato plant. My little darling, mydaughter Didi, running barefoot through the soil, her eyes wild and playful, scooped up into my arms.
And of course, Duggle, my moody firstborn, whose obsession with Herbology and talent for enchanting dream-catchers ensured his legend status in Hufflepuff House. But I knew his one-lined letters home were only evidence of teenage angst, sure to pass as soon as he began to appreciate his parents again.
Duggle was the only member of our little family who was not home when the Dementors came for us, tucked safely away at Hogwarts. As I sheltered my two youngest in the garden shed, the knowledge that he would at least be spared allowed me the power to produce a weak flare of bright light before the Patronus faltered and in swooped the Dementors, dark lips puckered.
My wife Delilah tried to approach our Duggle once, in those early days when memories of being human still wandered about the edges of her Dementor consciousness. Of course, all she had left were the bad memories, like the pain of giving birth to Duggle (I had actually fainted when her contractions started so I’d missed it); the time Duggle broke her favorite china chamber pot, all the times he refused to eat his vegetables just to be difficult; the time he told her he wished he didn’t have a mother. However, she was able to piece together the fact that since she hadn’t killed him after all these horrible actions, she had obviously loved him very much. She made a smart Dementor, my Delilah.
Sadly, Duggle did not take well to a six-foot cloaked figure floating towards him.
Duggle couldn’t recognize that this Dementor’s scabby hands were outstretched and its toothless gums bared in what my dear wife Delilah intended to be a hopeful smile. Instead, Duggle’s squirrel Patronus blasted his poor mother back into an apple orchard, the branches of which her robes became entangled for several minutes.
My little Danny and Didi Dementors looked up at me, probably with an expression of hopelessness and grief. It wasn’t long until we were all rounded up and shepherded off to Azkaban, leaving Duggle forever.
What happened next isn’t really fair to blame on me. In the monotonous homogeny of Azkaban, Dementors are pretty hard to distinguish between. We drifted apart, our old family bonds tumbling in the chilly winds, dark caverns of Azkaban, our Dementor selves occupied with the noble, er, calling of guarding Azkaban and ravishing any happy memory the decrepit prisoners might be clinging onto. Honestly, a simple memory of even the slightest triumph can nourish a prudent Dementor for a week: nearly as delicious as vegetable soup.
The main excitement is when a Dementor happens to venture too close to the shore and gets swept away into the carnivorous waves. They’d have to send out a rescue party: its great entertainment.
However, this memory of pure parental love from Crouch (who turned out to be an even nastier Dementor than he was a human, by the way), brought flooding back to me all these little human memories. Our little cottage outside of London with the vegetable garden in the back. The daily pilgrimage into Diagon Alley to sell fresh produce for the finest price to wizard-folk. Gurgling gourds, singing celery, rainbow radishes, bouncing beets, and of course the finest apples you’ll ever taste. All of Merlin’s earthly delights.
And Delilah! She was the light flitting between my fingers: merry-faced, sun-burnt, my partner in crime, my domestic angel. While I tended to spoil the children, especially the little ones, she brought down the firm anvil of justice, winking at me over Danny’s outraged dark head as he was sent to sit in the corner for hitting his sister with a carrot.
And Duggle! Our firstborn, our precious gift of life. Ornery, spoiled, clever Duggle. We never got to see him grow up- how many N.E.W.T.s did he earn? Did he fall in love? Have a little garden of his own? Did he at least lose that insolent pout? Did I have grandchildren that I’d never meet, or descendants still living? How many generations of Diggles have lived and died since my Kiss?
And Danny! Always so sly and silly, so vivacious and troublesome! My little helper, my mirror-image, unspoiled by teenage hormones. He’d been hoping for Hufflepuff. He wanted to be a Healer specializing in organic cures.
And Didi! My baby, the apple of my eye at the heart of our garden, digging up worms, playing practical jokes on her brothers, perched on my shoulders as we paraded about the rows of plants, summer breeze rumpling her plaited hair against the sunlight. Danny and Didi: frozen in youth, babies forever resigned to the half-life of a Dementor. Demented before they could lose their innocence.
The memories urged me on. I would scour Azkaban and find what was left of my family. Armed with the memory of Crouch’s tender mother, I would remind my wife Delilah, my little Danny and my Didi, of our love. And then, reunited and remembering, we could discover the fate of our Duggle.
This turned out to be much harder than I’d thought. First of all, Azkaban is a large carcass of a fort, stuffed to the crannies with Dementors. Secondly, all Dementors look pretty much the same. Sure, some are a little more tattered, or a little smaller, some a little grizzled and battle-weathered, ravenous if they haven’t experienced a Kiss in a while. Often, you can identify between Dementors if they’ve survived an encounter with a Patronus and have a white scar somewhere.
If I were a child turned Dementor, where would I be? There are few child prisoners in Azkaban, but they might gravitate towards them. Panic was starting to set in. How would I ever find them? Between avoiding the angry Dukey Dementor and his gang and speculating on the location of my family, this Dementor’s mind was pretty full.
As these thoughts battled in my head, I hovered outside the cell of a particularly nasty felon known as Bellatrix Lestrange and approached a small Dementor who seemed to be feeding on an ecstatic memory of Madam Lestrange kissing the Dark Lord’s toes. Yum. The Dementor swooped to the side to let me float at their side, and I extended my gray scabby hand towards them in an attempt at expressing thanks. Together we slurped up the memory, and my mind got to work. This Dementor seemed kinder than most, willing to share. That was rare. Could this sweet, sweet non-soul be one of my beloved children, always willing to help out another?
Hesitantly, slowly so as not to alarm, I reached into the folds of my robes and extended one of my prizes: an apple, painstakingly lifted from an orchard on my journey from Hogwarts to Azkaban. A round, plump, perfect apple: the kind of bloom a gardener’s child would be proud to accept.
But the Dementor showed no understanding: instead, it tipped its head towards me in what was perhaps a questioning gesture. I hunched my decaying shoulders in what I thought the Dementor took as an apology, and glided away sadly, the apple bright and crisp in my clutch, my featureless head bowed.
But I have all eternity to search. I was determined. I might be Derwent Dementor, but I will not be Derwent Defeated.
A/N: Thank you so much for reading! Do you think Derwent will ever find his family? Please review and let me know what you think of this one-shot! Also, check out my novel-in-progress, "The Girl from Slytherin" if you haven't already :) (shameless self promotion).
Anything you recognize belongs to the wonderful JK Rowling.