Disclaimer: Not mine
Vincent turned from the heat that scorched his skin, trying to find any place that would offer him protection. He turned toward a cabinet, reached for the brass handle and pulled back his now blistered palm. Spinning again, he faced a wall of flame and felt his skin burn with the heated air that offered no relief to his already oxygen deprived lungs.
He collapsed on his knees and became a child crying for his mother, screaming for his father and pleading for the only one that cared for him as a child, his nanny-elf, Elsie. He felt the left side of his face begin to blister and as he tried to raise his hand to protect his eyes. In his last throes of consciousness he felt a hard claw grab his swollen fingers, and spin him out of the raging inferno. The pain was greater than any he had felt, greater than he could have imagined, and he prayed for death to come swiftly.
He lay in a dark place, sweet smelling and quiet. Vincent did not know if he was alive or dead until pain coursed through him, lighting his body on fire once again. He heard a scream and did not know it was his own until the scream stopped and he felt a thin tube forced between his teeth, and tasted something foul pour into his mouth.
He floated in a sea of salt, and turned with the tide. He smelled the heavy air of wetlands in full summer, and heard the sound of insects buzzing near his head. He tried to swat them away only to find his hands heavy and moist, as if wrapped in mud that clung and weighed him down. Again, he felt the tube, again the taste, and again the blessed sleep.
He woke to fresh air, wafting across half of his face, and tried to turn his head to feel it in full, only to realize his face was covered. Lifting his hand to pull back what was covering him, he felt clumsy and unable to bring his hand to its destination.
"No Master Vincent," Elsie whispered. "You needs to lie still."
"El…," He tried to form words but his mouth would not move as he commanded it.
"Yes Master." A soft flannel wiped his right cheek. "I's here to take care of you Master."
He nodded as again the tube poured sleep between his lips. Somewhere in his mind, it registered that he was now Master. It registered that he had lived, and he screamed anger and pain into the room.
Each time Vincent Crabbe woke, he became a little more aware of his surroundings, and a little more aware of the pain. There finally came the morning that he woke and struggled to sit up, for the first time feeling the shroud that encased his mind lift, and leave him able to think in small patches of reality.
"Master, oh Master." Elsie happily tucked pillows behind him. "My Master wakes."
"Master?" Vincent found it difficult to wrap his mouth around the words, as if too tight skin held his mouth prisoner. "My father is dead then."
"Yes Master," Elsie said with out any sadness. "In the last battle Master."
"Mother?" he asked, hesitating.
"Azkaban Master," Elsie squeaked. "She gone to Azkaban."
Vincent laid his head back against the pillows and considered what Elsie had just told him. He was only surprised that he was not shocked, or saddened. He knew his father would fall in the last battle as he would not give up even if he saw the battle was lost, and suspected that his mother would either be captured or flee. He had left home seven years ago for school, and had not been truly back since.
He was the child they never wanted, only the heir that was needed. Hogwarts was a blessing to them. They had packed him off to school and made sure that every Holiday and every summer since his first year, he spent with the Malfoys, or a distant relative willing to take him. He was only home for the occasional dinner, to put on a show of family unity, and to present to the Dark Lord.
"Elsie," he croaked. Raising a hand to this throat and wincing at the pain brought on by talking, he struggled to make himself heard. "Eyes, bandage."
"No Master," Elsie said patiently. "We wait for Healer. He be here soon."
"Where?" Vincent tried again to bring his hands to his eyes, only to feel as if he were wearing soft padded mallets on the end of his arms. He sighed and leaned back to wait.
"Mr Crabbe?" A voice called him as a hand touched his chest. "Mr Crabbe, you need to wake up now."
"I am up," Vincent said coming out of a fog-filled sleep. "Who are you?"
"I am the Healer Elsie called the night she brought you here." The voice was moving around the bed to Vincent's other side. "I am afraid you have been out of it for quite some time young man."
"How long?" Vincent head the Healers voice move again, this time following the voice down to the foot of the bed.
"It has been several months now." The Healer watched for signs of agitation for which he had brought a calming potion. "You were burnt quite severely. St. Mungo's only took the injuries of the… well, of the other side, so we treated you here."
"My eyes?" Vincent brought up his clubbed hands again. "What of my eyes?"
"The right one should be fine. We have already preformed as many charms as we could on the left." The Healer reached for the tape that held the bandage closed and began to undo the bindings. "I am afraid you have lost some vision, however nothing a pair of glasses cannot fix. There is some scar tissue on the left side of your face which will fade somewhat in time."
Vincent sat quietly while the bandage taken off his head, freeing his eyes in suddenly painful light. He squeezed his eyes shut against the white glare and fought not to cry out.
"That's a good thing," the healer said lightly. "Just take your time."
Vincent squinted as he tried to peek out at the light, only to again shut his eyes tight. He felt the stinging and intrusion of the light as pin points of pain shooting into his head.
"Elsie," said the Healer softly. "Draw the curtains, it may be too bright in here."
In a few moments, Vincent was able to look around to see blurry shapes and moving shadows without much pain. He turned his head trying to make out familiar things in his room, but found none.
"Don't expect much right now." The healer stood between him and the window, blocking more of the light. "It will take a few days before you see normally."
"My hands?" Vincent held up the gauze wrapped clubs. "What happened?"
"Your hands and left side took the worse of it." He healer stepped out of the light. "Your hands were burnt badly. The tendons and ligaments needed repair. You have been really quite lucky, you should have full use of them again."
Picking up his wand from Vincent's bedside table, he flicked at the bandages and began to remove them. Slowly unwrapping his hands and looking up at Vincent's face from time to time.
"We could have taken these off a couple of months ago." He leaned down to examine the hands and wrists. "I was afraid that you would damage your eyes in your sleep, so we left them on."
"Now Mr Crabbe." The healer straightened up. "You have to understand that you are not the same as you were. It will take a long time for you to get your strength back, but in a year or so you will only see a couple of scars."
Vincent looked down at his hands and frowned. The hands on his arms surely must belong to someone else. They were coarse, heavily skinned, leathery and old looking. The twisted thick scars ran up his left arm. Carefully turning his arm, he looked at the soft flesh on the underside and smiled seeing the same heavy scars and patchy skin.
"I thought you may find that a silver lining." The Healer grinned at him. "No mark, no sentence. It appears the fire has effectively lifted a life sentence from your back."
Vincent nodded his head at the old family Healer, then reached down and threw off the blankets looking at his legs. Although the left was still scared, they were not as bad as his arms.
"Elsie, a mirror." He looked at the trembling elf. "It's ok Elsie. I wasn't so good looking before. I think I can take it."
He took the hand mirror from Elsie, and stealing a glance at the Healer he peered into the glass. The face that looked back at him was unfamiliar, thin and gaunt, emaciated. His eyes were sunken, dark rings contrasted with the pale complexion of his face. His hair was longer than he had ever worn it, covering his ears and reaching down to his collar. He laid the mirror down and looked again at his legs. Wanting to ignore the scars he again laid his head back, and was asleep before the Healer had finished his examination.
His dreams were of fire, and searing heat mingled with memories of the Dark Lord, and his father. He choked on smoke and felt the heat as it scorched his face and crawled on his arms. He slept fitfully, in small snatches of time, always waking to find Elsie near.
For the next two months, he stayed in his rooms reading old copies of The Daily Prophet and catching up on the world. With Elsie's help, he walked each day building up his strength and learning how to dress with only partial use of his left arm. He was beginning to feel well enough to walk around the family's home and the grounds when the weather was again changing from cold to warm.
The Crabbe's were an old family, not an overly rich one, not like the Malfoys, but old and once esteemed. He worried that recent events would make future employment impossible, who would hire a Crabbe? His father's name had covered the front pages of The Daily Prophet for over a week during the trials.
He walked the grounds and for the first time in his short life found he had to confront an unknown future. He needed to travel to Gringotts to get a statement on his accounts. He had no idea of how long he could stay here without funds.
He ordered Elsie to find him clothing and robes that fit. The clothes she had found in his old room hung on him, and his father had been a much shorter wizard, rendering his clothing unsuitable. He dressed in his new clothes slowly, carefully positioning his hood to hide as many of the scars on his left side as he could.
He would need to get a new wand. His must have been reduced to ash, or gone unnoticed and thrown out with the rubble after the fire. He wanted to get through the day unnoticed and unmolested by the press and people whom he knew from before.
"Elsie!" He called his elf. "I have to go to Diagon Alley. I will floo into the Leaky Caldron. While I am gone I want my personal things moved from my old bedroom into the Master Suite."
"Yes Master." She bowed to him smiling because she was needed.
"I was also have need to clean this place out. You will gather my fathers personal belonging's and put them in the library. I need to sort them out." He frowned at Elsie who stood twisting her claws.
"I puts them in the dungeons Master." She looked up at him shyly. "The Aurors they comes, they comes and search the house."
"I take it they did not find what they were looking for?" He sneered down at her.
"No Master. I put things in the dungeons."
"Did they remove anything?" he asked.
"No Master." Elsie bowed to him, but did not raise.
"Elsie, what is wrong?"
"They are bad things down in the dungeons Master. Terrible and bad things," she said trembling.
"Leave them. I will go thru them myself. Just get his books, and things not in the dungeons." He watched as Elsie ran off to do his bidding. Then dressing he headed for the Alley.
Vincent arrived at the Leaky Caldron, stepping out of the floo and pulling his hood down lower to hide his face. He lifted his chin high enough to look out into the room and quickly located Tom. Walking over to the barkeeper, he leaned forward to whisper his need.
"I have to enter the Alley, but have lost my wand." He began in his still raspy voice.
"Lost it you say?" Tom looked at the tall lanky wizard in front of him. "One does not just lose a wand."
"In the war," Vincent offered as much as he could. "I have just returned. I had no need of it before. I need to visit Ollivander's wand shop."
"We can't be too careful who we let in." Tom looked him over, noticing the quality of the cloak, the full cut and the exquisite fabric. "There are still rogue Death Eaters. I will need to see your arm."
Vincent hesitated, and then pushed up his left sleeve letting Tom see the scaring and discolouration. As Tom looked at the arm, Vincent reached up and pushed back the left side of his hood as well.
"In case you think I burnt it off myself," he said flatly.
Tom looked up and quickly averted his eyes from the sight. He had seen lots of war injuries and scars in the last few months; they never failed to sicken him.
"This way," he said as he turned toward the back door. "Sorry, but we can't be too careful."
Vincent watched as Tom tapped out the pattern on the bricks, and the door opened to allow him entry. Without a word, he stepped into the Alley and headed to the wand makers shop.
The small bell over the door signalled his entry into the small shop. Vincent had not been here since he was a first year buying his first wand. The shop had seemed much larger then, much darker, and had much more stock then he now saw.
"Hello?" A female voice came from the back room.
"I need to see Ollivander about a wand." Vincent looked toward the back of the store wondering if Ollivander was even still around.
"I am in sort of a bind right now," the voice sounded hesitant. "Um, I could use some help."
"Sure," Vincent said but did not move.
"Back here," the voice seemed more insistent this time.
"Um, sure." Vincent shrugged his shoulders and walked to the back of the store, pulled back the curtain that separated the back room from the front sales room, and started laughing.
She had obviously climbed up a ladder to reach the top shelf and leaned too far to the right to keep her balance. Thrusting her right leg out she had stepped to the shelf as her left leg and the ladder moved away from the shelf and was standing straight up in the middle of the aisle, held in place by her left foot that she had wrapped around a rung. She had thrown her left arm up and had her palm pushed against the ceiling to keep her from sliding to the right where she still clutched the prize she had gone after.
"I will thank you to stop laughing." She lifted her chin as the ladder swayed, and her eyes grew larger.
"This is quite a sight." Vincent leaned against the door jam, crossing his arms over his chest.
"I would thank you to either help or leave." She pressed her lips together tightly trying to maintain her dignity.
"I think I will just leave then." He turned as if to go.
"No, please." She looked at him and tried to smile. "If you could just push the ladder back?"
He laughed and walked over pushing the ladder once again toward the shelf and watched her try to get her foot on to the rung again. Stepping to the ladder, he grabbed her foot and placed it where it needed to be, watching as she started to climb back down. He reached up and grabbed her waist, pulled her down the rest of the way, and set her on the floor.
She turned to him smiling, and then froze. Vincent's hood had fallen back far enough that she had a clear sight of his face and neck. He pulled the hood back up and stepped back from her, not knowing what to say.
"I am sorry," she said softly. "I didn't mean to stare."
"It is quite alright." He nodded and walked back to the sales area, suddenly needing to be away from her.
"No." She came up behind him quickly. "You don't understand."
"I think I understand perfectly," he muttered.
"No, I was here that day. The day the raids started." She spoke quickly. "So many were lost, so many in … It just took me back."
He looked at her silently for a moment then nodded. "I need a wand. Mine was lost in a … in a fire."
"Sure." She worried her lip looking at the shelves. "Let's see, a thirteen inch?"
"I had an eleven inch, elderberry," he told her of his last wand only to see her shake her head.
"No, that would be too clumsy, too slow." She shook her head. "The core, perhaps dragon."
"I am used to falcon claw." He frowned at her.
"Funny, I would not take you for a follower." She bit her lip as she walked to the shelves and started pulling out boxes, retuning after she had several in her arms. "Here, try these."
After several wands, he found a thirteen-inch Mulberry with a core of dragon heart. He used the new wand to affix his seal to the bill and was about to leave when she called him back.
"Mr Crabbe?" She stood studying the seal. "It is Mr Vincent Crabbe is it not?"
"Yes." He stood facing the door, his back growing cold.
"Your name is no longer welcomed here, in the Alley I mean." She said flatly. "You should pay cash, and don't let on who you are."
"I have no intention of advertising," he said gritting his teeth.
"My last name is Dolohov, Antonin was my uncle." She lowered her head. "It will take them time to forget. Don't use your name, it will make it easier."
Turning back to her, he nodded. "Thank you Miss Dolohov for the advice."
"Please, Helen. My name is Helen."
"Vincent," he said, and then opened the door to leave.
"Vincent." She nodded to him and watched as he walked out.
He went to Gringotts to close his parent's accounts only to find the Ministry had already taken control of them. He had his own vaults, but the majority of the money was gone. He travelled down underground and inspected what was left, finding very little other than the gold that would last him only a few years.
His inheritance from his grandparents was intact. He could not touch it until he was twenty-five, still six years away. The Goblins had warned him of pending laws that could strip him of even this, he would just have to wait and see.
He returned home thinking of what he would do. He had never thought of gaining employment. He had never thought beyond the present day, and what Draco had wanted him to do. He had never thought.
In his world it was a given that he would follow his father in his work for the Dark Lord. They were a rich and old family, the interest alone would keep them in the life style they wanted. Now, all that was gone. He still owned the house. However, he would not be able to pay its upkeep for more than a few short years.
He went down to the dungeons and looked at the pile of dark objects Elsie had hidden behind a false wall. He thought momentarily of taking them to Knockturn Alley to sell, and then scowled at the thought. He did not know what to do with the items, but he knew he would not fall back into the dark world that had gotten him in this position.
Returning to his new bedroom, he changed back into his pyjama bottoms and soft tee. He opened his mother's old closet and saw her gowns still hung in pristine condition. She had never worn many of the shimmering dresses and elaborate robes. He shook his head at the waste and decided to see what Elsie had piled in the library.
He saw piles of clothing, which he dispatched at once to St. Mungos. He had read in the Daily Prophet that they were in need of clothing and personal effects for the many still homeless in the aftermath of the war. Elsie made several trips hauling the robes and other items before she was at last done.
"The books Master?" Elsie looked at the piles of books not kept on the library's shelves.
"These can be taken to Hogwarts." He indicated two stacks of simple books and old texts that must have been his mothers.
"Leave the rest for now." He picked up one of the history books and walked to the window. "Elsie, those glasses the Healer was sending. Have they come yet?"
"Fetch them, and I will take my dinner in here tonight." Vincent sat in a chair by the window, and transfigured a footrest. He opened the book and started to read. He was still at it long into the night when he finally laid his head back and fell asleep in the chair.
For the next two months, Vincent did not leave the house. He read, walked the grounds, and slowly cleared the house of items he no longer needed, or that reminded him of his parents. He found an old potions journal in the desk drawer. Opening up the cover, he read the inscription on the inside.
For Severus Snape:
Upon completion of his Masters
Vincent scowled and traced the inscription with his finger. Snape, the blood traitor had left it here. He opened the journal and tried to ferret out what the potions were, however his potions skills did not help. He could decipher only that the potions were for healing, and not harmful or dark. Glancing at the clock, he picked up the journal and headed for Hogwarts.