Chapter 1 : once more, with quiche.
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He walked slowly through the corridor from the kitchen back to his classroom, rifling through the pages of the book as he went. Pineapple upside-down cake, custards, rhubarb crumble… it was heaven in a book.
Of course, he’d learnt how to cook during those many years cooped up in his father’s house under the Imperius Curse. With no one but Winky the house-elf for company while his father was at work all the time, Barty had gotten bored out of his Imperiused mind and convinced Winky to teach him how to cook.
His early forays into the art of cooking had resulted in salty soups, and occasionally even small fires in the house, which sent Winky into hysterics. But Barty had had a lot of time to practise, and had indeed improved beyond recognition. Now he could make an unrivalled aubergine parmigiana, and his quiches were absolutely divine. Pies were his favourite, though. The best part about baking a pie was that he could stencil the top of the crust so that it had a nice little Dark Mark on it.
And, like the kind-hearted person he was, he wished to share his cooking talents with the world, or at least the 2% of it that consisted of pureblood wizards. That was why his aspirations for the year involved starring on a cooking show. And, obviously, killing Harry Potter to bring about the rebirth of the Dark Lord. The revived Dark Lord would be so pleased to receive, as a welcome-back present, a Dark Mark-stencilled apple pie from his most loyal servant.
Unfortunately, pretending to be an Auror meant that he had to actually help students learn how to defend themselves from the Dark Arts. But at least he wouldn’t have to teach for long. Only long enough to resurrect the Dark Lord, kill Harry Potter, and be gone. It would save him from the awful fate of having to snog a Dementor, it would save Voldemort from the stress of dealing with an angsty teenage boy sharing his mind, and it would save a certain Muggle author from having to write 2,500 more pages.
Once in his classroom, Barty stored the cookbook in his desk for future perusal, then took a swig of Polyjuice Potion from his hip flask, trying to ignore how disgusting it was to be consuming Alastor Moody’s frizzy grey hair every hour. He imagined this was what it must feel like to be a snake swallowing a mouse. Snakes were lucky, though. They only had to eat a furry meal once a week or so.
Loud chattering outside the classroom alerted Barty that the third-years had arrived for their first Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson. He opened the door to let them in, a horde of stomping, gum-chewing, pimply-faced thirteen-year olds. Despite the fact that Barty Crouch had spent most of his adult life either in prison or confined to his house with no social interaction, he still miraculously knew how to maintain order in a classroom.
“All right, listen up, kids,” he said as the children finally settled down and stopped throwing wads of parchment at each other from opposite sides of the room. (He could spot the Mudbloods instantly because they obviously had worse aim than the purebloods.)
“You’re here to learn how to defeat Dark wizards, and I will spend most of the year teaching you helpful spells. But they won’t get you far. The only two things that can actually defeat Dark Lords are the following: babies and algebra. Harry Potter was no special case; any baby has that power if its mother loves it. And of course, wizards can’t do maths past primary school level because we don’t teach that here, so if a dark wizard is faced with a quadratic equation, he will be overwhelmed.”
Unfortunately, because Barty had neglected to explain why babies could defeat the Dark Lord, he unwittingly gave many students the wrong idea, and set the stage for scores of teenage pregnancies at Hogwarts. The worst repercussions of drunken one-night-stands now seemed a lot less bleak, because at least they’d be helping to defeat Voldemort.
“Now, the next order of business,” Barty continued, “I’m going to practice some illegal curses and mind control on you, but it’s all okay because I’m an Auror.” And then, because he thought he might be starting to sound suspicious and out of character, added in a Mad-Eye Moody catchphrase. “Constant Vigilance!” he barked, and all the students jumped in their seats, but that could have been because of the scorpions Barty had placed under all the seats before class. He hated thirteen-year-olds.
“First of all, let’s see the effects of the Imperius Curse. Any volunteers?”
No one raised their hands. Barty didn’t know whether this was because of the nature of the curse involved, or because of the inability of thirteen-year-olds to volunteer for anything academic in front of the class. So he arbitrarily pointed at a small mousy-haired boy sitting near the front, and beckoned him forward. “Don’t worry, it won’t be bad. What’s your name?”
“I’m Colin Creevey, sir,” the boy responded as he stood up and awkwardly faced the class.
“Excellent,” said Barty. “All right now, all of you pay attention. I’m going to put Mr Creevey here under the Imperius Curse. Watch how he reacts.”
Barty pointed his wand at Creevey and said “Imperio!” He felt the tingling of his mind being connected to Creevey’s movements, as he willed Creevey to get ingredients out of the conveniently placed food cupboard at the side of the room, transfigure his desk into a stove, and make fettuccine.
Colin Creevey spent an hour under the curse, during which time Barty successfully had him cook fettuccine. Then he dismissed class, and all the third years stampeded back out, babbling about how unreal the Imperius Curse looked, while Barty happily ate his freshly prepared lunch.
His next class was seventh years. The instant the door opened, the first person to walk in was a tall girl with long wavy blonde hair and piercing violet-coloured eyes. As she strutted into the room in slow motion, her hair blew back dramatically, and her flowy white dress ruffled like clouds blowing across the sky. She wouldn’t have looked out of place in a shampoo advert, or possibly a music video accompanying an emotional power ballad. The ten boys who followed her into the classroom could not keep their eyes off her. Nor could the girls, in fact.
Barty realised that perhaps he preferred the third-year class, because none of the seventh years would be able to pay attention to him with this girl sitting front and centre in class, her hair still blowing theatrically behind her.
“This is a classroom, said Barty gruffly, “and you are here to learn Defence Against the Dark Arts. There is no room for tomfoolery in this class, so put away that wind machine.” The blonde girl sighed and turned off her portable fan.
Clearly, the best way to maintain the class’s attention was to have this girl be the volunteer for the Imperius/cooking project. “One of the most essential things to know when defending oneself against the Dark Arts is to not draw unnecessary attention to oneself,” said Barty. “Since you have just done the opposite, you’ll be demonstrating today. What’s your name?”
The girl introduced herself as Sherri Sue Riddle (in an American accent, of course!), and then began to cook a frittata under Barty’s Imperius curse, first obtaining the eggs and vegetables from the convenient magical refrigerator, which was located next to the convenient food cupboard.
As it turned out, Sherri Sue was actually a Mudblood; the fact that she shared a surname with the Dark Lord was purely coincidental. During one class the following week, Barty heard her discussing television programmes she liked that were about cooking. This spurred Barty into action, so after he’d had his lasagna prepared by another Imperiused seventh-year, he began writing application letters in an attempt to get onto the cooking programme Ready Steady Cook. If they’d give him this chance, perhaps he’d relinquish his complete hatred of Muggles and everything they stood for.
Well, apparently the show didn’t like him anyway, because he was never offered the opportunity. Maybe they disliked his magical eye, or the fact that the top of his CV said BARTEMIUS CROUCH JR: FEARSOME DEATH EATER. How dare they be prejudiced against him, those stupid, filthy Muggles.
By October, he had been rejected from fourteen other cooking shows. In the wake of such great tragedy and disappointment, Barty thought he’d seek the advice of Albus Dumbledore, the wisest wizard of the age. This was not an action a Death Eater would normally take – but seeing as he could not consult Voldemort, and Mad-Eye Moody would probably ask Dumbledore about matters of great concern, he decided to go for it. Besides, Barty didn’t think he could handle anyone crushing his dreams, but Dumbledore was perhaps crazy enough to accept them.
So he found himself knocking on the door to the headmaster’s office. “Come in, Alastor,” said Dumbledore with a genial smile as he opened the door for Barty.
“I baked you a pie,” said Barty, and presented Dumbledore with a lovely blackberry pie. As he held it out, he felt a sudden unease at his decision to carve the customary Dark Mark into the top of the crust. So in true Auror fashion, he produced a knife and impressively stabbed the pie, destroying the Dark Mark. It was a lovely, expressive metaphor for Aurors taking down Death Eaters, to which he hoped Dumbledore caught on.
“Why thank you,” said Dumbledore appreciatively, ignoring the splashes of blackberry that now coated his desk.
Barty sat down in a chair across from Dumbledore. “What is this?” his asked, pointing to a silver (and purple, from the blackberries) hourglass on Dumbledore’s desk.
“Alastor, I thought surely you would be familiar with Time-Turners,” said Dumbledore, his eyes twinkling like sequins at an ABBA concert. “A few turns of this and you’ll be in the past. I gave my favourite students one last year – by that I mean the hero Harry Potter and his smart sidekick Hermione Granger – so that they could save a convicted murderer and a hippogriff. That sort of thing is allowed, but you certainly can’t go back in time and off Voldemort before he started all this nonsense. It wouldn’t be fair.”
“Of course.” Barty looked eagerly at the Time-Turner. “Do they go into the future as well? I’d love to take a time-turner and travel through time and space, and bring all my stuff with me in my secret seven-compartment box that’s bigger on the inside.”
“No,” said Dumbledore. “They only go into the past, because there are far more consequences if you interfere with the past, such as changing history, killing off your ancestors, and creating a paradox of existence. The future would be too boring! As you understand, we magical folk like to do things as dangerously as possible, like allowing twelve-year-olds to play competitive broomstick sports 200 feet in the air, rewarding them when they break rules and put themselves in danger, and putting fourteen-year-olds up against territorial fire-breathing dragons. Surely you see why we can’t have Time-Turners go into the future.”
Barty felt slightly discouraged. Nevertheless, this hadn’t been the original purpose of his meeting, so he brought up the topic of his cooking show application failures. He made sure to emphasize the fact that the cooking show was definitely a side project and would in no way distract him from doing his job, which was teaching. (And killing Harry Potter, but he didn’t say that.) But he wasn’t too worried. All the other teachers had side projects that took up most of their time, like Professor Hagrid who raised dragons in his hut, and Professor Sprout who used carnivorous plants to spy on the government.
“Have you thought about perhaps starting your own show?” Dumbledore asked. His eyes twinkled like the glitter on those obnoxious greeting cards that gets all over everything and never goes away even after you wash your hands, and even then you still find specks of glitter embedded in the carpet a year later.
“What a brilliant idea!” exclaimed Barty, visions of success swirling around in his mind. He would be the best chef ever. Filled with inspiration, he thanked the headmaster and continued on his merry way.
So over the next few months, Barty attempted to start up his cooking programme, which he’d decided to call Death Eater’s Kitchen. But as it turned out, no one in the television industry liked him, and his project appeared to be doomed. After all, most Wizarding families didn’t even have a telly – all they had was that blasted wireless, and how do you host a cooking show without a visual display of what you’re cooking? How absurd. So his cooking programme had to be geared towards Muggles because they watched television. But they didn’t know even what Death Eaters were, nor that Death Eaters hated anyone with Muggle blood.
Clearly, there were discrimination problems within the media industry, and a hesitance in the magical world to adapt to current technology. And, while he was airing his grievances with the world, there were other issues that bothered him, like poverty and water pollution, and the fact that his foot itched while he was wearing his shoe, so he couldn’t reach to scratch it easily. The world really was a cruel place.
He spent the next few months hating the world, and not wearing shoes. His cooking show wasn’t shaping up to be a success – maybe the name put people off? He didn’t know. So he redirected his attention to the world’s other issues, and worked with several nonprofit organisations to protect watersheds. But he couldn’t help feeling that it just wasn’t his calling in life, and he became bored with helping the world.
The worst came in February, when he had to sit around and watch bubbles in the lake for an hour. How dull. He couldn’t help thinking that he should have killed Potter before this, and then he wouldn’t have had to be here. Rather, he could be frolicking in a field with the reborn Dark Lord, skipping through the dandelions and enjoying a picnic of Dark Mark-engraved pie.
Barty took matters into his own hands soon after that. He made a supremely excellent quiche, put a few choice little charms on it, and then stalked off through the castle to find Potter. It would be easy to find him; he was always wandering about the castle after dark. Last time he had done so, Barty had apprehended a magical map from him, which currently marked Potter as walking through the adjoining corridor.
So Barty held the pan of quiche in one hand: a Portkey set to travel to an abandoned graveyard in two minutes. All he had to do was offer it to Potter. And soon, Barty would then be the Death Eater who had done what the Dark Lord himself could not – he would be the wizard who had brought about the death of Harry Potter!
Suddenly, the most wonderful aroma wafted into the corridor. Bacon! He was suddenly overcome with the greatest idea ever for an even more savoury quiche. He decided to veer off to the kitchens without bothering Potter – that could wait, and his stroke of genius about quiche could not.
Seriously though, if he didn’t get around to killing Potter in the next few weeks, he could always steal a Time-Turner, go back in time to when Potter was about three, and do it then. There were so many ways he could kill Potter.
As he approached the kitchens, the quiche glowed and Barty found himself in the graveyard, alone but for Wormtail anxiously watching him, a stone cauldron, and a bundle of robes.
“Sorry,” said Barty. “Slight miscalculation. I didn’t end up giving this to Potter. Filthy half-blood like him didn’t deserve this masterful quiche anyway. Let’s reschedule this meeting for a more convenient time. How’s June?”
Four months would hopefully give him time to start his cooking show properly. With that, he spun on his toes in a most graceful pirouette and Disapparated back to Hogsmeade.
The next morning, he sent off a fresh batch of letters about his cooking show. This time around, it was called Auror’s Kitchen; a clever ruse, he thought, because he was posing as an Auror. He knew he would make it this time. After putting bacon in the quiche last night, he was inspired again, and so he returned to his original curriculum of Imperiusing students to cook lunch for him. (Previously, during those few bleak months when he’d lost hope, he had had to resort to dreadful things like actually teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts. And he hadn’t even gotten lunch out of it.)
However, his new enthusiasm was short-lived. The following day, Barty received correspondence from the broadcasting company. He opened the envelope to find another condolences card, the front flap of which was covered in glitter. The inside read, “Sorry to reject your show, but it looks lame! Better luck next time.”
He slammed the card back onto the desk; a plume of glitter rose from the card and settled onto the floor, where it would remain for a considerable amount of time and delight Dolores Umbridge the following year.
That was it then. He’d been a failure at starting his cooking show, his attempts to right the world’s wrongs had ended in disaster (after becoming frustrated with the bureaucracy in the nonprofit organisation, he’d spitefully bought a new wooden leg made of teak, which had to come from the rapidly shrinking rainforest), and Harry Potter was still alive. He had put forth all his effort at the first two, but now he supposed it was really time to rectify that last one.
So he used the Triwizard Cup as a Portkey this time. He didn’t have a quiche to waste on that boy. He watched as the champions ran into the maze, and then Harry Potter and Cedric Diggory disappeared as they touched the cup. No one knew what was happening, and the atmosphere in the Quidditch stands was one of confusion and anxiety. People whispered nervously. Sherrie Sue Riddle’s hair blew even more dramatically, creating a wind tunnel around the whole Quidditch field, which shortly became a cyclone.
And then, Harry Potter came back alive. Barty tried to take him back to his office to make him a poisoned quiche and finish the job, but he got caught by the other professors. They fed him Veritaserum, and he spilled the whole tale, minus the part about quiche. And before he knew it, his whole life had been turned upside down, and the Minister for Magic himself had brought in a Dementor to suck out Barty’s soul and make him atone for his crimes.
The Dementor zoomed up close to him. Barty felt sick. He was about to suffer the worst torture known to wizardkind. With the Dementor less than three inches from his own face, he stared into the black void of its hood. And then he saw it – under the hood, the scariest vision of his life:
x = -b ± √(b² – 4ac)
Barty Crouch Jr screamed and collapsed to the ground in a dead faint, never to recover again.
A/N: Thanks for reading! I’d love to know what you think about this absurd piece of writing (most of it was written in an airport at 4 in the morning), so reviews are very welcome, whether it’s a compliment or a Dark Marked pie in the face.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and anything associated with it is owned by J. K. Rowling. Nor do I own the programme Ready Steady Cook, which is the property of the BBC and Endemol Productions UK; or Doctor Who, which is owned by the BBC. And I have no affiliation with ABBA.
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