The night of the Yule Ball had arrived. Raya was asked by several boys, including a couple from Durmstrang. She turned down their offers, opting to go with her sister, who had also declined numerous invites. A strange sort of feeling was weaving its way through Raya, try as she might to ignore it, an attraction brewing for the man impersonating Mad-Eye Moody. She couldn't shake the odd friendship budding between them, and although she knew he wasn't Moody, his thoughts and intellect and even madness were his own.
"You look stunning, Sis," Raya remarked, pinning strands of purple hair behind Raven's ear with a silver barrette. The younger witch wore an elegant green and silver gown. She was the first to emerge from the dungeons, followed by the older witch.
Raya's dress swept the floor. It was navy-blue and adorned with many silver stars. A sheer dark-blue cloak draped elegantly over her shoulders, hooked around her neck by more stars, as the corset pushed up parts of her that she wasn't so sure about. She attempted to cover up some of what she didn't want revealed by letting her long, ebon curls fall loosely down her front. Leave it to Coleridge to present her with the best garb.
She stepped into the ballroom, amazed. The Great Hall was transformed into a winter wonderland. If nothing else, she could eat and drink her fill whilst relishing the sights and music.
"Miss Black," grunted a familiar voice. Off to the side sat Moody, partially hidden with flask in hand.
A slight smirk rounded the corners of her lips, "Professor."
Moody's electric-blue eye swirled around its socket, taking in the witch's appearance. "Don't you look lovely tonight, lass."
She wondered what Barty would look like, tailored in a suit and tie and cleanly shaven. What would his brown eyes reflect? She swallowed hard but didn't try to stop him as he lifted her hair, pushing it behind her shoulders.
Taking the path to the cave, Raya and Raven tailed behind the black dog, along with Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger. Tension was thick between the Slytherins and Gryffindors, but paying the Golden Trio no mind, Raya embraced her uncle once he transformed from dog to human.
With a pang in her chest, she listened to the tragic story Sirius told them about Barty Crouch Senior, Mrs. Crouch, and their son, Barty. She was torn between guilt and heartache, knowing the man who paraded around as Moody was indeed the culprit, the Death Eater in question. She hated lying to the only family who cared about her, but there was someone else who cared equally for her.
"Should have spent a bit more time at home with his family, shouldn't he?" said Sirius. "Ought to have left the office early once in a while…gotten to know his own son."
Suddenly, Barty's reaction when asked about his father made sense, and her Uncle Sirius of all people was showing compassion towards a troubled young man whose father's lack of love pushed him to becoming a Death Eater. She knew details about Junior that no one else, except for Raven, did. He was apprehended for allegedly torturing the Longbottom's, imprisoned in Azkaban, and released per his mother's dying wish—only to find himself trapped inside his mind and body for thirteen years under the Imperius Curse.
"He can't have been more than nineteen."
"Thirty-two." All eyes fell on her, including Raven, who started fidgeting nervously. In realizing what she'd said, Raya quickly recounted, "I mean, he would be if he was still alive."
The Shrieking Shack wasn't an ideal place to hang out, but it was the only place Barty could be himself. She liked to see his face, not the guise of her professor. Despite it being early spring, the witch shivered as she stood from the bed and crossed the room, rubbing her arms.
"Are you cold, Luv?"
"Junior," she breathed in slowly to steady her voice, "I'm sixteen-years-old, you're in your thirties…You're also a Death Eater, but you know that I have no qualms about telling you exactly what's on my mind." She recalled in vivid detail the night he told her who and what he was.
The wizard nodded, "A trait I admire."
Clamping her teeth over her bottom lip, Raya met Barty's gaze. She wasn't sure how he would respond, or what the outcome would be. All she knew was she needed to get it off her chest. "I-I think I might have feelings for you," she confessed. "I think I-I love you."
There was an ache in his heart, dampness threatening the brown eyes that looked down into the young witch's blue pools. "Luv…I don't deserve…" He wanted to 'set her right,' remind her that he wasn't what she should be looking for, but he couldn't deny what he himself had been feeling these past months, and she knew very well what and who he was. "Luv, been trying to tell myself that these pixies," he rested a hand over his stomach, "didn't know what they were saying. Never felt like this," he offered up his signature crooked grin, "would be lying if I wasn't thinking I was feeling the same way."
Raya wasn't sure what 'this' indicated, until she felt the smooth, almost silk-like texture. Confused, she looked up at the wizard. "Why are you giving me this?"
"To hold onto," Barty held his tongue between his teeth, he knew she wasn't fooled. "Luv, I…"
Clutching the material, Raya edged back away from the man and shook her head. "You're not. You and me, we…You will come back, won't you?"
Closing the space between them, Barty gripped her shoulders and pulled her into a tight embrace. "I will, Luv, I promise you."
"I want you to have it," the wizard whispered into her hair, kissing the top of her head.
"No," she couldn't stop the tears from pooling in her eyes, "that sounds too final. Here…" She tried to thrust the Invisibility Cloak back into his hands, but he wouldn't take it.
Tears threatening his own vision, Barty shook his head back and forth wearily. "You have to trust me, Luv, it'll all work out in the end."
The Dementor's Kiss. It was a cruel punishment, an undeserving punishment, a punishment worse than death. She knew the wizard beyond what society labeled him.
Carefully watched over by Raven, Raya crumpled on to the bed in the Shrieking Shack and lay there. Her sister had handed over Barty's trench coat, which she hugged close to her. The tears had dried up for the moment, but her face and hair were still damp with moisture.
"He's gone," she whispered. She didn't want to believe it. He promised, he told her he would come back.
She had in her possession his beloved trench coat and Invisibility Cloak, but his belongings weren't enough. She wanted the man who captivated her mind, body, and soul. She needed that man.
Her heart was in limbo, painfully contracting with each breath. In that moment, she traveled to a very dark place within her psyche. She would show them the young woman Coleridge Black had reared her to be.
No… Barty wouldn't want her to lose herself, her innocence, or everything about her that made him whole.
Instead of darkness, she chose pain. She chose to endure and weep with it as it coursed through her. When she thought she would drown in it, Raven held her tightly until she fell asleep dreaming about him.