Chapter 16 / The Truth about Moody
‘I would like you to tell us,’ said Dumbledore softly, ‘how you came to be here. How did you escape from Azkaban?’
Crouch took a deep, shuddering breath, then began to speak in a flat, expressionless voice.
‘My mother saved me. She knew she was dying. She persuaded my father to rescue me as a last favour to her. He loved her as he had never loved me. He agreed. They came to visit me. They gave me a draft of Polyjuice Potion containing one of my mother’s hairs. She took a draft of Polyjuice Potion containing one of my hairs. We took on each other’s appearance.’
Winky was shaking her head, trembling. ‘Say no more, Master Barty, say no more, you is getting your father into trouble!’
But Crouch took another deep breath and continued in the same flat voice.
‘The dementors are blind. They sensed one healthy, one dying person entering Azkaban. They sensed one healthy, one dying person leaving it. My father smuggled me out, disguised as my mother, in case any prisoners were watching through their doors. My mother died a short while afterward in Azkaban. She was careful to drink Polyjuice Potion until the end. She was buried under my name and bearing my appearance. Everyone believed her to be me.’ The man’s eyelids flickered.
‘And what did your father do with you, when he had got you home?’ said Dumbledore quietly.
‘Staged my mother’s death. A quiet, private funeral. That grave is empty. The house-elf nursed me back to health. Then I had to be concealed. I had to be controlled. My father had to use a number of spells to subdue me. When I had recovered my strength, I thought only of finding my master . . . of returning to his service.’
‘How did your father subdue you?’ said Dumbledore.
‘The Imperius Curse,’ Crouch said. ‘I was under my father’s control. I was forced to wear an Invisibility Cloak day and night. I was always with the house-elf. She was my keeper and caretaker. She pitied me. She persuaded my father to give me occasional treats. Rewards for my good behavior.’
‘Master Barty, Master Barty,’ sobbed Winky through her hands. ‘You isn’t ought to tell them, we is getting in trouble. . . .’
‘Did anybody ever discover that you were still alive?’ said Dumbledore softly. ‘Did anyone know except your father and the house-elf?’
‘Yes,’ said Crouch, his eyelids flickering again. ‘A witch in my father’s office. Bertha Jorkins. She came to the house with papers for my father’s signature. He was not at home. Winky showed her inside and returned to the kitchen, to me. But Bertha Jorkins heard Winky talking to me. She came to investigate. She heard enough to guess who was hiding under the Invisibility Cloak. My father arrived home. She confronted him. He put a very powerful Memory Charm on her to make her forget what she’d found out. Too powerful. He said it damaged her memory permanently.’
‘Why is she coming to nose into my master’s private business?’ sobbed Winky. ‘Why isn’t she leaving us be?’
‘Tell me about the Quidditch World Cup,’ said Dumbledore.
‘Winky talked my father into it,’ said Crouch, still in the same monotonous voice. ‘She spent months persuading him. I had not left the house for years. I had loved Quidditch. Let him go, she said. He will be in his Invisibility Cloak. He can watch. Let him smell fresh air for once. She said my mother would have wanted it. She told my father that my mother had died to give me freedom. She had not saved me for a life of imprisonment. He agreed in the end. It was carefully planned. My father led me and Winky up to the Top Box early in the day. Winky was to say that she was saving a seat for my father. I was to sit there, invisible. When everyone had left the box, we would emerge. Winky would appear to be alone. Nobody would ever know. But Winky didn’t know that I was growing stronger. I was starting to fight my father’s Imperius Curse. There were times when I was almost myself again. There were brief periods when I seemed outside his control. It happened, there, in the Top Box. It was like waking from a deep sleep. I found myself out in public, in the middle of the match, and I saw, in front of me, a wand sticking out of a boy’s pocket. I had not been allowed a wand since before Azkaban. I stole it. Winky didn’t know. Winky is frightened of heights. She had her face hidden.’
‘Master Barty, you bad boy!’ whispered Winky, tears trickling between her fingers.
‘So you took the wand,’ said Dumbledore, ‘and what did you do with it?’
‘We went back to the tent,’ said Crouch. ‘Then we heard them. We heard the Death Eaters. The ones who had never been to Azkaban. The ones who had never suffered for my master. They had turned their backs on him. They were not enslaved, as I was. They were free to seek him, but they did not. They were merely making sport of Muggles. The sound of their voices awoke me. My mind was clearer than it had been in years. I was angry. I had the wand. I wanted to attack them for their disloyalty to my master. My father had left the tent; he had gone to free the Muggles. Winky was afraid to see me so angry. She used her own brand of magic to bind me to her. She pulled me from the tent, pulled me into the forest, away from the Death Eaters. I tried to hold her back. I wanted to return to the campsite. I wanted to show those Death Eaters what loyalty to the Dark Lord meant, and to punish them for their lack of it. I used the stolen wand to cast the Dark Mark into the sky. Ministry wizards arrived. They shot Stunning Spells everywhere. One of the spells came through the trees where Winky and I stood. The bond connecting us was broken. We were both Stunned. When Winky was discovered, my father knew I must be nearby. He searched the bushes where she had been found and felt me lying there. He waited until the other Ministry members had left the forest. He put me back under the Imperius Curse and took me home. He dismissed Winky. She had failed him. She had let me acquire a wand. She had almost let me escape.’
Winky let out a wail of despair.
‘Now it was just Father and I, alone in the house. And then . . . and then . . .’ Crouch’s head rolled on his neck, and an insane grin spread across his face. ‘My master came for me. He arrived at our house late one night in the arms of his servant Wormtail. My master had found out that I was still alive. He had captured Bertha Jorkins in Albania. He had tortured her. She told him a great deal. She told him about the Triwizard Tournament. She told him the old Auror, Moody, was going to teach at Hogwarts. He tortured her until he broke through the Memory Charm my father had placed upon her. She told him I had escaped from Azkaban. She told him my father kept me imprisoned to prevent me from seeking my master. And so my master knew that I was still his faithful servant — perhaps the most faithful of all. My master conceived a plan, based upon the information Bertha had given him. He needed me. He arrived at our house near midnight. My father answered the door.’