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PostPosted: Thursday 6 January 2011 5:55:24pm 
First Year Student in Witchcraft and Wizardry

Joined: Wednesday 15 December 2010 2:26:13am
Posts: 11
Summary: Barty Crouch Jr.'s parents save him from Azkaban, but what is left of their boy? Focuses on the day they save him, but the beginning takes a look into Junior's year in the prison.
Rating/Warnings/Genre: PG(13) | Mild langauge, emotional abuse | Dark/Angsty
Chapters: One-shot

Disclaimer: I don’t own Harry Potter world or any of its characters but they belong to J.K Rowling. I don’t own the lyrics in the beginning and the end but they belong to Toto (song ‘I Will Remember You’) and Evanescence (song ‘Understanding’). The memory dialogue in the second & partly in the fourth paragraph is a mixed version of the dialogue from the book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter Thirty: The Pensieve, pages 646-647. (Bloomsbury, paperback, 2004.) This is a non-profit fan fiction. No copyright infringement intended.
Beta readers: Midnight_Storm & xxbabewithbrainsxx at MNFF.

AN My Junior’s looks come from the British actor Jamie Bell, Senior’s from the director Thomas Vinterberg and Mrs. Crouch’s from the actor Michelle Pfeiffer. And I know he doesn’t call him ‘Dad’ in the book but there’s a psychological reason for that, which I hint to in this story and will fully explain in my future story focusing on the Longbottom torture night. AN

Screaming In Our Hearts

"When love breaks the promise the heart has to keep,
it leaves only truth here to find.
My love for you still grows.
This I do for you.
Before I try to fight the truth my final time."

It was gone again. The monster was gone, but he didn't even care. He always felt cold and he always felt unhappy. He was always sick, too deep inside his mind or beside it, so not to scream again. He didn't need the Dementors near to go through it all in an utterly painful level. There had hardly been a moment in all the months when he hadn't in the least subconsciously thought of it and died a little bit more inside. Soon enough it had truly sunk in. There was no hope; he would die there. There was no moment when he didn't hear the words, if not in his head, then in his heart. A Dementor always fed on a happy memory while throwing him back into the very nightmare as if he heard and saw it all for the first time, still unaware that it could ever be possible.

"Father, please!"

"…These crimes deserve a life sentence in Azkaban…”
A life sentence… A life…

"Father, please! I didn't do it! I didn't! Father, no! Don't! Not to the Dementors… I'm your son! I'm your son! Mother, don't let him! I didn't do it! I didn't know!"

Mother…he had stopped screaming in a few days time in the black pit that truly was a hell. For what was a hell if not a total absence of hope? Mother was not coming. She'd been crying as hysterically as he himself had been screaming and denying any part in the crime. She'd been crying as bitterly and shocked as the judge had said the impossible. She was probably already dead. She could not possibly have lived this long after that night. There was no hope.

"You are no son of mine! I have no son!" Even if the Dementors drained him empty of his every memory, he could not forget those words. Nothing could change them to him. Nothing could make this right again.

A pale, unnaturally skinny boy of eighteen was lying lifelessly, on a hard bed, in a cold, bitter darkness. He was staring at the roof but he might as well have been blind. The room was small and with only one tiny window way up there, never to be reached but bringing a little air in. It felt like it wasn't even part of the world around it. His hair almost reached his shoulders and it was very messy. His skin was dirty after crawling on the stone floor, climbing the walls in the most insane moments. The rings under his eyes were shockingly dark. He was barely conscious. He looked dead already but inside he was painfully alive.

He had searched for his master. He had even done it; the unspeakable. Though he'd denied it to his father in the trial for he hadn't wanted to go so extreme in the search. He hadn't cared for his master that much. He'd cared more for the innocent and the judge—because he was his son. Even though he had revealed to the Lestranges that he was one of them, they would've still tortured or even killed him if he didn't agree to do it. They wouldn't have believed in his loyalty at all. Because he was his son.

He kept hearing his father yelling, disowning…sending him to hell to die alone and insane. Seeing his furious, despising eyes…hearing his mother crying, seeing her pale pain-stricken face…she had fainted. Sometimes he also heard the Aurors coming…saw the insane faces of the Longbottoms…heard their distant screams…he'd hoped that the weaker he'd grow the more blurry it all would become, but it hadn't. He was now close to dying but it was as painful as ever. For a time, in the most torturous moments, he had tried to think of his master. How he had to still be out there, somewhere. A wizard that powerful could not possibly die just like that. Bellatrix kept saying so and she should know. She might have always been insane but she had been master's favourite follower. Master would come—someday. There was hope.

He'd tried to recall the emotion he had when he was branded with that cursed symbol. The emotion he had when he'd first uttered the damned word, 'Crucio'. To hold on to his devotion caused by his master's promises and how he'd kept them. Promises of accepting him the way he was, just as long as he'd remain loyal to his master. Promises of power greater than his father could ever have. It had been his subconscious goal to get back at his father in those terms, in as extreme a way as possible. It had felt so right in those moments. The devotion he still felt to a degree. But no—he had found it was not enough.

He had kept coming around to his father and his mother, and it had all fallen apart, over and over again. Inside he was still screaming for his Daddy to save him, to forgive him, to believe him, screaming for his mother to make the man see. Yet at the same time his regret about his undertakings had been growing lesser. Something kept twisting and turning. Growing darker, growing stronger.

For father had abandoned him to torment and death while saying he didn't even have a son. Master had never mistreated him in any way. Junior's mind had grown warped and twisted along with his heart. Voldemort was a god. Daddy was…nothing but a ghost of someone he used to look up to, of someone he used to believe in. This didn't ease his pain for he didn't see it. He was dying. He wanted to die. There was no hope because he had loved them with all his heart and they were gone now. He would never see them again…he had lost their love.

'Mother, forgive me. Father…still care enough to come and spit on my grave, which you dug with your words?'

Thousands of miles away, in the world of the living, a frail woman was lying on a comfortable bed. She didn't feel its cosiness or even see the sun shining through the window. She was dying too. To outsiders it looked like she wasn't thinking of anything clearly and that she was in extreme pain. She was feverish and skinny. Blind to all that moved, deaf to any sound, and in her eyes the deepest grief of a devoted mother and a lonely woman. But inside she was feeling calm. In her mind she was with her baby in hell, telling him everything would be all right.

It was always when the sun went down when the hell broke loose. When she began to feel the pain and reality, and start hysterically crying like that night one year ago. That night always seemed like only yesterday. But she knew it had been a year, and that the letter said he was dying, and it only added to her outbreaks. What if he had died already? What if he had drawn his last breath just a minute ago? Was he screaming for her, even now, and she wasn't able to comfort him? Silent tears fell down her pale cheeks. Was there any spell in the world to make this unreal?

A man, appearing healthy and strong but extremely tired, was sitting in the corner of the room, at a table. He had been trying to work for hours but hadn't really done anything. He didn't care too much for his current job. He had loved the previous one and thought he'd get all the way to the top. It had been one of his dreams. But it wasn't essential to him now. It hadn't been ever since he had seen that mark on his son's forearm. Absolutely every reason and dream had ceased to exist in that moment. And come back again in a whirlwind just to be shattered forever when he'd got undeniable evidence that the boy was guilty of all charges. To him, it did feel unreal. To the world he appeared as happy as he'd been before that night but inside he was going mad. He was tortured to no limits, yet he was still sure that nowhere near as badly as his child at the moment. And it certainly did not ease his pain. He was torn between utmost regret and bitterness. How could his son do something like that? His own flesh and blood! Where in the world had Daddy's little boy disappeared, and when?

One thing he was sure of. It had not been even a surprise really. He knew why the boy had become one of his enemies. Perhaps for one, how little he had shown approval of his choices and dreams in all their years—too eagerly tried to have him go the paths he himself thought best for the boy. Even when the boy had done so well on his O.W.L.s and tried to please him and be what he wanted him to be, he had lacked in showing just how proud he was, and kept asking for more. It may not have felt like encouragement to the boy but probably had felt like he was never good enough for him, even when he tried to be. He had lacked in showing his child how he in the deepest accepted him just the way he was. And hadn't he selfishly drowned his own sorrow into work when he should've been there for his son who was losing his mother? He had been so power-hungry and ambitious that he had been blind to how bad his boy felt. His child must have been feeling really, really alone if he was willing to join Voldemort's cause rather than stay on his Daddy's side. And no wonder really—Junior had been so utterly a Daddy's boy that lacking the feeling of being accepted must have been eating him up inside more than it would usually in any father-son relationship. And he knew his son. How much alike they were. Like him, Junior had always been able to do anything he'd felt right or needed for a cause, which in this case must have been to get back at him in certain terms. Barty felt sicker inside by the moment.

But the boy participating in a double-torture into madness was simply something that threw him off the edge of any understanding. But it was still his son. His bratty child who he had tried so hard not to love anymore, during the past months, only to find out it wasn't up to him. As bitter as he was about losing any chance of promotion because of his son, about his name driven into eternal shame, he felt even more strongly about what he'd done to the boy in the end. Regret about the disowning and a downright life sentence in that unthinkable place had left the bitterness in its shadow, a long, long time ago. The boy had done an unspeakable thing but still… his son… How could he have sent his own son to that place for life? But no one knew he regretted it to any degree. It was a wonder if anyone even reckoned so—except maybe…

"Barty…?" She uttered her husband's name, her voice so frail and quiet you could hardly hear her. "Junior…" she tried to continue, but she lost her strength to speak. Barty hadn't heard his own name but his son's. That he was sure he'd hear now, even if it was only thought of and not said out loud. It still hit him like a thousand daggers and a train at once. It still made him want to both, cry and curse at the same time. But he had done neither yet, except when he’d been alone.

"Yes," he answered, quietly too, in a pained tone. He didn't even know what he was answering to.

"Have you decided yet?" she asked after a moment of silence. She was now speaking more loudly, more clearly, but still her back turned on him. She got no answer. He only stared with almost blank eyes, at a paper in front of him.

"Barty, please, you know he doesn't deserve it! No one does!" She then broke down into crying again. No one did, indeed. How many people had he thrown in there even without a trial? Barty breathed in short and quick breaths for a moment until he couldn't take it anymore. The truth in her words combined to a more harsh reason, and in the end to love.

"Caroline, he took part in torturing two people into madness! With an Unforgivable Curse too! Out of his own—" he started to yell, unable to feel empathy for his wife at the moment, as he stood up and ended up swinging his chair to the other side of the room. He couldn't finish. He had meant to say “Out of his own free will.” He knew it was not possible! It had become another reason why he hated himself sometimes more than he hated anyone else. Junior must have been doing it under the influence of the Imperius Curse. Many Death Eaters had claimed themselves so, and no one could deny it to be a possibility. Or he had been in some other way given no choice. That, he had not even bothered to check in his son's case. His own son's! No shock or fury gave him right not to. It had only been the reason why he hadn't been able to think about how he really knew the boy. He had betrayed his son. And now it was easier to live with if trying to think he could've done it without outside influence.

"I DON'T CARE!" she screamed in desperation, her pale face covered with tears, as she turned to face him. The more accurate case was that she didn't believe it—at least not that her child would've done it if he had a choice. Barty had felt the same in the deepest, so he wasn't too shocked about the words, knowing there was more to it than seemed. She was sobbing wildly now, curled up as if trying to close the world outside again. Barty took a deep breath, and half knelt, half fell on his knees, next to her bed.

"I don't have much time. But I can't die like this. I can't leave him there. You must help me. You must help him," she spoke between her sobs.

Barty touched her hand, very gently, his sorrow-filled eyes on her withering being.

"You know I love you—both of you—more than anything else in this world," he stated quietly and sincerely. "But I think it's too late. If he didn't hate me before that night, he most certainly hates me now. He'll go on searching for He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. How could I possibly restrain him?"

"You'll find a way. I can hear it in your voice; you love him. You'll find a way. You always did when you really meant to," she spoke as she looked up at him, tears still running down her face. Her voice was now soft and convincing.

"And, darling—he can't possibly hate you. Not truly in the deepest. I'm sure he's gone mad in there but you must remember how he worshipped you when he was little—and in some way all along right down to that night. Barty…his heart was yours so obviously, I don't believe it could really, thoroughly change."

Barty didn't say a word. He was looking away. He supposed he might find a way. And he remembered, but he had done something utterly unforgivable just like his son. Only, he'd done it by words. He thought it a small miracle if the bond they had still existed and would still hold enough from his son's side, to help in protecting the boy. After all, it would have to be for the rest of their lives - and what about when he'd die? What would happen to Junior then? Best not think too much.

"We're leaving tomorrow morning. I'll send an owl to Azkaban, letting them know we wish to pay him a death-bed visit," he finally said. His voice was expressionless for he didn't know how to feel about his decision. It was too painful and yet so relieving at the same time. It was impossible to deal with at the moment.

"Hey…" she whispered, gently grabbing his hand as he stood up and tried to leave. He looked at her with only a minority of his attention. "You're doing the right thing," she said in the same soft tone as earlier, with a small but genuine and warm smile. She had suddenly grown unbelievably peaceful.

"Yes… I… have to get some air," he stated quickly and he gently squeezed her hand. He let go and disappeared out of the door. He wished he could be so sure about the rightness of what he was about to do. But maybe for the first time in his life, he didn't care if what he'd do is wrong. It was his wife's last wish and it would save his son's life and health. It was all that mattered.

"Crouch!" someone yelled in the infinite darkness of his mind. "You have visitors," a human guard said from the doorway of his cell as Junior opened his eyes, waking from a restless sleep though it didn't really feel like waking up. He turned on his side to face the door. His first thought being that his master had come, regardless of it being completely ridiculous seeing to the way the news was brought to him. Master would probably blow up the place or something else really cool. He let out a quiet, hollow laugh, without even knowing why. There was no light in the doorway. It seemed as if the couple had appeared from nowhere. But then again, that was just what there was in his world; nowhere. He stared at the sight as if they were the most surprising and most interesting thing he'd ever seen in his existence. Much like a child, who was taking his first look at his own reflection. This was a new vision, he thought. How on earth had he come to dare to dream something like this?

The guard set couple of torches on the walls of the cell and lighted a fire in them, and then left. Junior's eyes were nailed to the image of his mother, then to his father. He couldn't decide which one was more stupid option to see, (not to mention both together), in all its impossibility. He didn't even consider speaking to the image, in fear that it would go away. At least, should he die there and then, he wouldn't die alone, but with the hallucination of his parents with him. He kept his eyes on his mother and so did Barty as he held her protectively. They had asked them to keep the Dementors out for the duration of their visit, but in his opinion they were still way too near. The mother was looking at her son with double the grief-filled eyes she’d had a year ago in the court room.

"My baby…" she said so quietly and with such a broken voice that it was a wonder anyone heard it through the screaming coming from a cell nearby. But Junior heard. He blinked.

"Mum…you…you're really here?" he dared to ask out loud. Did hallucinations usually speak? He tried to get up into sitting position as if to see better but was too weak and fell down half way through. The next thing he knew was his mother embracing him tightly, in knowing it would be the last time she'd get to hold her baby.

“Ma…Mum, you…can’t…be here,” Junior said, with more difficulties coming out with it than with anything else in his life. As she let him go but still held him close, he touched her face as cautiously as he could—still fearing it was not real. He studied her face just as cautiously as if even looking at her might make her disappear. Barty was standing further behind, silently watching them. He was glad that the two probably had forgotten he even existed, for he had more than enough to do in keeping himself together as it was. He would never forget the way Junior looked when they walked in. Not his physical appearance, not his eyes. So sick, so given up, so alone.

"I'm here, dear. I'm here. Your father and I came to—" Caroline spoke as quietly as she could without whispering.

"Who?" Junior asked, his genuine first reaction until after a short beat. “Oh…him.” Even during only two words, his tone went from expressionless to extremely bitter, numerous times. Finally he was truly aware of his father's presence and of the whole situation being very real. He stared straight ahead, nowhere near his father who didn't know where to turn or what to say or do. He just wished it was all over and that he could find some, any, source of strength in the situation. The moment of silence lasted perhaps only a few seconds but to all of them it felt like minutes.

"We came to—" she started again but was cut off again, now deliberately.

"You came. He came only because you couldn't come alone," Junior said, not really caring what his mother was trying to tell him. His mother held him upright and he came to lie in her arms, resting his head on her shoulder. He wouldn't have minded dying right there.

"Baby, please, listen to me. You're going to get out of here," she whispered, running her hand through his over-grown hair, gently kissing his brow.

"OK, I am dreaming…" he said breathlessly. But it all felt so real he couldn't throw away the spark of hope this situation was. He lifted his eyes to his father, who was looking back at him. In his eyes worse sorrow than in his wife's who wasn't losing anything really, in her own mind. Junior's eyes were filled with a mixture of despise and wonder. She whispered into her son's ear so that only he could hear.

"All I wanted to say was that I love you, and I'm not afraid."

The look in Junior's eyes grew distant though he kept them on his father.

"Why?" he asked his mother.

"Because I'm going to die here in your stead, and I know he loves you too. And he's here because of that," she told him, in her voice all the certainty in the world. This caused Junior to remain silent instead of throwing a stinging remark, but not for long.

"Dad…" he uttered quietly. He reached his arm towards his father, in a gesture for him to come closer. His choice of word startled Barty and for a short moment he could only stare at his son, feeling a mixture of laughably wishful thinking and disbelief.

"Dad?" Junior repeated more loudly. In his mind he was saying it to annoy his father—sure of that it caused the man utter disgust to be called that by him, especially with such a close-relationship term. But having said it most of his life made it also partly genuine, regardless of everything. And in the end, some very small and deeply buried part of him would never stop loving his dad—while he would never ever forgive the man or believe in him again. Barty took the few steps and crouched down next to his wife. He didn't hope for the best and he feared for the worst, and it showed in his eyes as he looked at his son's suffering and yet strangely lighted face. Junior took a hold of his coat as if afraid the man would run away before he'd get to say anything.

"Hey, Dad, look at me. Think back and tell me…did I grow up according to the plan?" he asked and sounded as if he actually demanded an answer. On his face was a mocking grin, in his eyes a mixture of that and sorrow. Barty's stomach turned painfully but something in Junior's behaviour—though obviously intended as only malicious—gave him faith in this plan actually working. On the way he had even come up with a way to keep the boy from searching for a certain someone, to keep him safe, and to give him a peace of mind after all this torture he had abandoned him into. He dismissed the question. He dug two small bottles from his wallet—one of those from which no one but its owner was able to pull anything out.

"I'm going to take you home," he whispered, holding them right in front of the boy's eyes.

"Mum, you can't do this. You don't know what it's like. You don't want to die here," Junior broke into a protest driven by distress. Especially as he was growing tired of speaking and moving and thinking so much, "I won't…let…" he continued, but he grew weary for a moment. He felt his mother's tears in his hair. He felt like crying too, but he felt like he'd run out of tears months ago.

"I'll die happier here, you must believe me. Knowing you're safe at home."

Junior's look was wandering.

"What makes you believe he'll take me home…" he questioned. What he really wanted to ask was what made anyone think he'd stay there. He would continue searching for Voldemort the very red second he'd somehow have strength to walk by his own feet and hold a wand. But that was the last thing he wanted his mother to know – he owed her more than that but that's all he was able to do. Besides, he was also interested in what he did ask. This time however, it wasn't answered by his mother.

Barty gently ran his hand through Junior's hair, making him take an eye contact.

"Daddies don't just love their children every now and then. It's a love without end," he said sincerely. He was sure the boy did not believe if even truly listened. But even if it would never register to the boy, it was enough for him that it was surely always on the way. Because he knew that Junior knew, that he truly loved him. It might make the years a little bit easier on both of them.

"Where did you hear that?" Junior asked, now really wanting an answer. Everything about his being demanded it and in completely negative tone. He was sure that the true answer would be; because his mother wished it so. He recalled knowing that his father had loved him but that he'd also felt he'd loved the mother more.

"Just drink it," his father said calmly as he held out one of the bottles to him. Junior took it as his mother reluctantly let go of him. She took the remaining bottle, and then last, aching, loving look at her son sitting next to her, looking down at his bottle of Polyjuice Potion. The boy was falling back into the surreal state of mind faster by the moment. He thought the situation too good to be true while he was growing wearier than ever.

"Goodbye, love," Barty whispered softly in his wife's ear and gently kissed her brow as she took her first sip of the potion.

By the time they'd taken on each other's appearance, Junior was only half conscious, so they had to help him with a final change—the clothes. Barty half carried him all the way to the ship. During those hours, he never left his side. He let him sleep, only waking him enough once in an hour to have him drink more Polyjuice Potion. He slept so peacefully, in fresh air, on his way home. And he appeared as his mother. Barty was not yet able to completely register what had happened, and so, at least for that blessed moment, he felt like he'd done the right thing. To him personally, it was and always would be the right thing to have done—but he couldn't help thinking also from the point of view of the entire society…and the Longbottoms, including little Neville.

Back in London, still on their way home, he met Mad-Eye Moody to who he informed he would take couple of weeks off from work, to be with his wife in her last days. And that he'd appreciate if he was allowed to spend them undisturbed. He was planning to assign Winky to nurse Junior back to health, but he wanted to make sure everything started rolling nicely before he’d leave the two alone and go work every day. They reached their home by nightfall, and after carrying him inside, closing all the curtains, and turning off the fireplace, he carefully eliminated any evidence of Polyjuice Potion. The next half an hour while waiting for Junior to wake up, he stressed about the future. At least he'd always had it so that it was impossible to Apparate into their house or Disapparate out of it. It surely erased a major risk of all this happening for nothing.

"Mum!" the boy suddenly screamed from the room upstairs where he had been left with Winky as his company, already given her assignments. His dream had turned into another nightmare. He didn't even remember what it had been about before that. There was still very little room in his head for anything but pain, sorrow and bitterness. The utter emotional mess that was his love for his parents and the subconsciously formed worship of the man for whose following he had suffered so deeply. Added at the moment, confusion about what was happening. He now appeared himself again, the potion's affect had worn completely off.

"Where is she? Where am I? What is this!" he spoke in muffled, distressed voice, trying to get up but barely had the strength to move his arms. All he knew was that he was somewhere new but strangely familiar and that he didn't feel so unhappy, so tortured as before. Barty came into the almost totally dark room except for the one lamp light burning on the table, near the bed.

"You're home. Like I promised, you're home," he said calmly, crouching next to the bed, beside him.

"Home… home…" Junior kept repeating the word for a moment, in hollow voice, his look wandering around the room he thought he had once known. But home was not a clear concept to him anymore. His mother was to die in Azkaban and he had no father, so what was home but an empty dream lost somewhere in the night of his twisted mind and in the thing that had become of what used to be his heart. He had another kind of home replacing the one the true man inside had valued. He still had one dream, one ambition, which would only grow stronger the longer he'd be kept from reaching it. He had seen it for many months now, wanted to go there.

But only now when he came to realize he was free, it slowly but certainly grew clearer in his mind. There was someone out there who apparently needed help. And how proud would he be to be the one to help. He started to look feverish, so Winky ran downstairs to get everything she could think needed. She hadn't the slightest idea how bad it would be after so long in a place like Azkaban. By every 'home' Junior uttered, Barty lost some strength, so he decided to speak.

"Junior, listen to me. Listen…" he said softly. He took his son's face in his hands, so to know he listened because the boy now looked at him, even if with slightly absent-minded eyes.

"I will be here for a time but mostly it will be Winky nursing you back to health. And we must continue living as if nothing's changed around here. To the rest of the world you're still in Azkaban, and that's how it must remain."

"But I want… I need… my master…" Junior spoke, increasingly feverish, but you could still figure out the words if you listened.

"I know. I know…" Barty sighed in pain, looking away to the door's direction. "But that's not what we saved you for." He was sure Junior knew and appreciated it too. Maybe, just maybe even felt the same love. It was the only way he'd find strength to agree to do this in the first place and keep doing it no matter what happened. The hope and faith in that his child was still somewhere in there. No matter how deep in and lost himself, but still there.

First he had blamed Junior for destroying two families' lives but later he'd felt he had destroyed his son's life, and through it the whole family's. He had betrayed his son who he knew better than to do what he did in the trial. The guilt made it easier to shut out the cold and unthinkable fact about what the boy had done. All he could think of was to do all in his power to keep the kid from searching for the monster they'd finally got rid off and to try and make him feel as peaceful as possible. All these thoughts reminded him of his plan. He didn't have the slightest idea how, by trying to do the best by his child now, he'd end up turning him into just about as bad monster as was the one who he'd lost him to.

"I'm so sorry, son. I was blind," he said quietly, and pointed his wand at him."Imperio."

Junior's being grew calm and peaceful apart from the sweating and tiredness caused by the fever. It was a little comfort for it was not real. There was nothing he could do to fix him anymore. He was broken forever and all because of him. He'd keep on seeing his son's pleading eyes as they had looked at him, hearing him hysterically screaming how he was innocent…seeing it all too clearly in the way he should've seen it that night—that he had still been fixable.

He remembered now, more clearly than ever, all those years he'd spent with his little boy, getting to know him, and letting the boy know him and his love. But things had begun to change when the boy had first left to Hogwarts and his mother's condition started to grow worse. They'd still remained close but those were the years, he thought, when he must have made a crucial mistake or a few—while he had never been exactly the best possible father, letting his ambition extent to his son, over-shadow parental support.

He now saw how Daddy's little boy had always, always been there in front of him and how much he had cared about it, but in the his selfish sorrow and love for his work, he had let the cold world come between them even to a degree the boy had got lost in it, carrying with him all the bitterness he had caused him. Oh but the trial...the way the boy had looked at him...regardless of everything, there had been no bitterness, no hate. Only love and fear. There had been his son who would've never committed such a horrible crime out of free will, pleading for his Daddy to remember him, to punish him with love and not with hate, like it used to be. That's why he'd been lying about his innocence. But what was left of his boy now? How much damage can you do with a few simple words in a state of an utter shock? He seemed to now have a son only in his own heart. But he held on to a hope that some part of that son still had a father in his own heart.

"Thank you, Winky. Now bring the invisibility cloak," he said with a broken voice. He sat beside Junior, on the edge of the bed. He put a cold towel on his forehead from the pile of them which WInky just brought in and disappeared again.

"Listen to me…" he spoke to Junior, when it seemed he was conscious enough to listen.

"You must stay hidden under the invisibility cloak at all times. You do not take it off without my permission. No one else's but mine. And if at any time someone else but Winky or me is inside this house, you do not make a sound or go near them. Do you understand this?"

Junior remained silent for a beat or two until answered calmly. "Yes."

"And when you get better..." Barty continued softly. How he wished it could mean more than just physical health. "You are not allowed a wand. But you're free to entertain yourself in any other way you wish just as long as it doesn't give out that a third person is living here, and as long as it's nothing dangerous in any other way either. And you remain inside this house and let Winky stay nearby, at all times unless I say otherwise," he spoke steadily, hoping he wasn't forgetting anything crucial in his hopes to make Junior's life as pleasant as possible but minimize the risk of someone finding out about him or him running off.

"Is all this clear?" he asked again.

"Yes," Junior said, sooner now.

"Dad…?" he then said, again partly genuinely, mostly in means to annoy. He was trying to look at his father but his look wandered as if he was going blind. He couldn't even figure out what to make of all those orders. He only knew he felt good and careless and that they didn't sound too bad, while his thoughts were constantly run over by increasing desire to find his master and the idea of it was making him feel even happier. "What are you doing?" he asked breathlessly as he closed his eyes.

"Just loving you," Barty answered, but he reckoned that to the young man he was looking down at, it seemed only continued imprisoning.

"Take it easy now. Rest," he told him. He gave a lingering kiss on his son's brow and silently left the room. Even without the curse it was all Junior could do. He slipped into a restless sleep filled with a mixture of fanatic dreams of finding his master, distant echoes of the love and devotion he had felt for his father, and the silent tears he was crying for his mother.

"You hold the answers deep within your own mind. Consciously, you've forgotten it. That's the way the human mind works. Whenever something is too unpleasant, too shameful for us to entertain, we reject it. We erase it from our memories.

But the imprint is always there."

AN This is part of my fic series about Barty Junior. All of the current stories are at FanFiction.Net under my pen name AngelJunior. AN

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