Disclaimer: Most regrettably, I do not own Harry Potter or any of its associated characters. JK Rowling has that pleasure.
A/N: I've often wondered what happened beyond Harry's perspective on the night he returned, Cedric Diggory's dead body in tow. Most especially, how did his teachers- primarily Dumbledore- react? All we got was a blurred version from a barely conscious Harry, and I'm left wanting. Therefore, why not write it myself? I mean, I'm perfectly capable :-D Sooo, here's my creative take on the events that transpired after the Third Task, from Dumbledore's point of view. Perhaps a little more dramatic than it needs to be, but whatever. Author's license :-) Snape and McGonagall pop their heads in too, as you recall from the imposter Moody rescue. Well, enjoy the read!
Note: This is all rooted in canon fact, not film. I took every detail from the book, then spun fiction where it was needed. It is a two-part one shot.
And no, this chapter title is not indicative of anything evil. Dumbledore is the same old dotty, protective, powerful Headmaster he is in the books in this story. It is a metaphor.
Wolf in Friend's Clothing
Part 2: "The Monsters of Albus Dumbledore"
Amos Diggory was stark white when Dumbledore and Fudge reached him, his eyes gleaming madly in what Albus observed as panic. He was panting heavily, and grabbed at the Headmaster's arm rather frantically.
"D-Dumbledore, t-they're saying Ced... Ced... tell me it's not true! TELL ME MY SON IS NOT D-d-d..." Amos couldn't finish the word; he choked miserably on it and instead glanced over at the coterie of students... hoping, no doubt, that Cedric would emerge from their midst, beaming. Albus sighed, already measuring how chary his message would have to be. How he hated being the harbinger of misfortune! People had that unfortunate habit of shooting the messenger...
"I'm so sorry, Amos," Albus intoned gravely, placing a wizened hand on the man's shoulder. "Cedric is indeed gone."
Amos seemed to sway alarmingly for a second, features slack in shock- then vicious sobs started racking his figure. "Oh... oh God... my son, my only son... what will his mother say? What will I tell her? She refused to believe the rumors-"
"I'm so sorry," Albus repeated, and from beside him, Fudge nodded in concurrence. He too grasped at the grieving father's shoulder and patted in what could only be condolence.
"You have the Ministry's full support behind you, Amos. We will not relax until we get to the bottom of this atrocious murder. Rest assured, the culprit will face severe retribution- a lifetime in Azkaban, no doubt..."
Albus' brow crinkled, but he said nothing.
"Thank you, Minister," Amos replied, very quietly. He swiped at his eyes, still stifling cries of agony at Cedric's unexpected demise. "W-where is he? I want to... to see his body..."
Fudge exchanged a pained look with Dumbledore, but the Hogwarts Headmaster inclined his head. He said softly, "If Amos wishes to see his son, then we must respect his wishes, Cornelius."
"Come," Dumbledore interrupted, gently leading Amos through the crowd of whimpering and whispering spectators and fairly ignoring Fudge in the process. The dumpy leader scowled, but trailed behind the pair nevertheless. It didn't take long before they reached the spot. Albus stopped dead in surprise, and so did Amos- albeit for very, very different reasons. Amos let out a fresh howl and collapsed next to the motionless Hufflepuff, currently being protected by an equally mournful Pomona Sprout. It looked like she had closed the boy's eyes and smoothed out his rumpled robes, for which Albus was incredibly grateful. This did nothing to ease his palpitating heart, though. The blatant fact that Harry was nowhere to be seen had not escaped Dumbledore's notice, and he clenched his fists in anxiety. He looked down at Amos, in the act of gathering up the limp seventeen year old while rocking unsteadily. Then he turned to Fudge with an oddly frightened countenance. There was the merest suggestion of a quiver in Dumbledore's voice as he hurriedly imparted an order on the slightly confused Minister.
"Cornelius, would you please accompany Mr. Diggory up to the school? Help cover and remove the body; Madam Pomfrey will aid you. I do not want the students to ogle him anymore than they already have; Cedric and his father deserve a respectful distant right now. I will join you shortly, but I need to tend to a few serious matters first."
Then he swept away into the terrified throng before Fudge had a chance to protest. Discomfiting thoughts stabbed at his mind.
I told Harry to stay.
Well, yes, but the boy wasn't exactly in his right mind, was he? He'd been sick, injured; barely cogent...
He wouldn't have been able to fight back.
Another burst of panic. Albus cursed himself for the hindrance it was, desperately wondering why calm rationality had chosen this moment to flee; when Harry was in danger... and right under my nose, dammit! What sadistic god was laughing at the irony of the situation right now? Whoever it was, Albus wanted to hex them into the next century.
A hook-nosed teacher with a greasy black curtain for hair caught the Headmaster's attention. The elderly mage nearly pounced on him.
Severus Snape turned his sallow face on Albus, sneering...
The ornery demeanor shifted when he realized who was calling him. "Headmaster?"
The former Death Eater seemed... relieved. But there was another emotion present, hiding behind his idiosyncratic blank mask. Albus, striving to identify this new development, pinned scrutinizing blue orbs on him. He was a little unnerved when he recognized it following the appraisal of Severus' onyx gaze.
Fear: the same monster vying for possession of Albus' composure.
"Severus, I need to know- tonight, did it burn?" Albus didn't have to ask twice; Snape understood immediately. His eyes twitched this way and that before answering in a cautious velvet baritone,
"Yes. Maybe an hour ago. The mark's still dark, but it's... faded now. What happened? I heard... Potter and Diggory..."
"Cedric's dead. Harry barely escaped Voldemort's clutches with his life. He brought Cedric's body back. Apparently..." Albus swallowed, descending into his second and most important line of questioning. The admittance of his lack of foresight still pained Dumbledore. Oh Harry... how I failed you! "Apparently, someone turned the Triwizard Cup into a portkey."
Snape gaped. "Under your nose?"
Albus cringed at the blunt statement. "I have my suspicions."
A memory from only minutes earlier floated serenely through Dumbledore's brain, but it only served to disquiet him further. "I'll take Harry, Dumbledore, I'll take him-"
Alastor Moody never referred to people by anything other than their surname.
Alastor Moody only ever drank from a flask. This year, he'd nursed aforementioned flask far more frequently than Dumbledore had ever seen when with the auror.
In fact, if Albus were to hazard a guess, he tended to swig its contents about every hour.
First sign of Polyjuice Potion! And Severus had been complaining that crucial ingredients for the elixir kept going missing from his personal stores. The Slytherin had suspected it was a miscreant student-three guesses who- because this had happened two years before, but suddenly, the petty theft had taken a dark turn...
But most incriminating of all, Alastor Moody was the last person to touch the Triwizard Cup.
"Severus..." Albus began, insides churning. "After dinner... do you remember who asked to place the Cup in the maze?"
"Of course," the overgrown bat spoke through a curled lip. "It was Alastor Moody."
"And no one- no one- else touched it before he walked into the maze?"
"I don't believe so."
Severus went wide-eyed as the rare image of horror jumped onto Dumbledore's face. "You don't think...?"
"We need to find Harry. Now. I think Alastor Moody has kidnapped him."
Dumbledore and Snape found Professor McGonagall ushering students back up to the school, her countenance pale and shaky. "I said go, Finnigan! And Finch-Fletchy, I'm terribly sorry, but only family is allowed with Cedric right now... To your dormitory, please..."
Her voice cracked on Cedric's name. Albus ran up to her, Snape on his tail.
"Minerva, did you see where Harry went? Did anyone take him?"
She paused, uncharacteristically fretful. "I- I think... I think Alastor took him back to the school. Yes, that's it. Alastor was taking him up to the Hospital Wing, I believe. Poor boy was in shock; he was sick-"
"Did he specifically say 'Hospital Wing'?" Albus pressed urgently, and McGonagall frowned.
"Now that you mention it, no... I just assumed-"
"We need to go to Professor Moody's office. Come with me," Dumbledore said firmly, pulling out his wand and striding quickly up to Hogwarts. The school loomed over them in the darkness, impenetrable as ever... provided it was being assaulted from outside forces. The protective magic could do nothing if one was being attacked from someone on the inside...
McGonagall and Snape had to sprint to catch up with their Head, his gait worth three of theirs.
"Headmaster, what's this about?" the Transfiguration teacher demanded, following suit by brandishing her wand as well.
"I believe Moody may be using everyone's inattention to kill Harry," Dumbledore explained, his strong assurance belying the inner turmoil raging in the wizard. At these words, his pace became swifter and longer, leaving the younger staff members to jog in his wake. They wasted no time in rushing through the Entrance Hall and up the stairs, and Minerva wasted no time in voicing her skepticism.
"Kill Harry!? MOODY!? Dumbledore, what is wrong with you? Alastor has been your friend and ally since- well, forever it seems like- and such an unfounded accusation-" McGonagall started in what bordered on shrieking, but Dumbledore shushed her.
"I never accuse on unfounded pretenses, Minerva. Surely you know that. I will explain later," the man cut in, vaguely churlish and reprimanding. McGonagall pursed her lips into silence, still unnaturally white, but she gasped when they entered the floor where Moody's office resided. Already, Harry could be heard yelling.
"You're mad..." he was saying, and there was a trace of terror gracing his tone as he repeated louder, "you're mad!"
Dumbledore was bolting down the corridor before Harry had even finished. It was suddenly a race against time.
"Mad, am I?" Moody was shouting in an uncontrollably rising bellow. "We'll see! We'll see who's mad, now that the Dark Lord has returned, with me at his side! He is back, Harry Potter, you did not conquer him- and now- I conquer you!"
"Stupefy!" Albus Dumbledore roared, and there was a blinding flash of red- then, with a great splintering and crashing, Moody's office door exploded, blasting inward...
And Moody was blown off his feet, thrown viciously backward onto the cold stone floor. Dumbledore, McGonagall and Snape could see Harry still staring where Moody's visage had once been, frozen in shock and back to them. He looked around, so small and fragile (he's alive he's alive he's alive, oh thank God) to the eldest wizard's eyes... too young to have just been nearly murdered twice in only one night... and in the safety of his own school, by a teacher he once trusted... They all stepped into the room through the charred remains of the doorway, Dumbledore in front and his wand still outstretched, half-expecting another quarry to pop out, he realized wanly. After all, he'd been tricked once tonight. Who was to say it couldn't happen again? Much as the Headmaster loathed to admit it, he was fallible. He couldn't protect everyone all the time, and the truth of that ghastly actuality was gazing him in the face with scared green eyes. At least Harry was fully conscious now, and not seconds away from meeting his doom. That was the only comfort Albus found in the situation.
It was hard to fathom just how angry he was. Fury coursed through Dumbledore like cold power as he stared down at the unconscious imposter- a wolf in friend's clothing, he spat inside his mind- and harshly kicked 'Moody' onto his back with a boot. Harry was still watching him, and Dumbledore knew the boy had a right to be disconcerted: he imagined he musn't look very kindly, what with the terrible monster clawing for freedom in his chest and the lack of benign benediction. Yet Albus couldn't help it-
This man deserved to rot in Azkaban for all his umbrages. He'd put on the guise of a friend and attempted to kill Harry, the Headmaster's "Golden Boy Gryffindor" as Snape liked to disparage. Not to mention the fact that Albus was unsure whether the real Alastor Moody was even alive anymore...
Snape came up behind the wizard emitting waves of hot power, looking into the Foe-Glass that Dumbledore was glad Moody hadn't been referencing. If he'd gotten the alarm that the professors were on their way only minutes earlier, Harry would've been lost. McGonagall headed straight for Harry.
"Come along, Potter," she whispered, mouth taut in a thin line even as her lips twitched. Dumbledore knew there would be some tears shed in secret tonight... the woman was as protective of her Gryffindor cubs as he was of Harry. "Come along... Hospital Wing..."
"No," Dumbledore said sharply, glancing over Harry's condition. Apart from his leg, there were no major medical issues that needed immediate tending. Moody must have given Harry Pepper-Up to interrogate him... There went the monster, growling and frothing at the mention of imposter Moody and what he'd done with Harry...
"Dumbledore, he ought to- look at him- he's been through enough tonight-"
"He will stay, Minerva, because he needs to understand," the mage said curtly. "Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery. He needs to know who has put him through the ordeal he has suffered tonight, and why."
He knew this was going to be for Harry's benefit as much as his own. Merlin knows we all need some understanding, Dumbledore thought scathingly. Like, why Harry? And why now?
"Moody," Harry mumbled, still in a state of utter disbelief. "How can it have been Moody?"
"This is not Alastor Moody," Dumbledore told him quietly. "You have never known Alastor Moody. The real Moody would not have removed you from my sight after what happened tonight. The moment he took you, I knew- and I followed."
With about a hundred extra pounds of panic and cold fury weighing me down.
Albus bent over Moody and rummaged around in his pockets, pulling out the infamous hip flask and a set of keys on a ring. He turned to McGonagall, still hovering protectively over Harry, and Snape, now peering suspiciously at the flask. So he'd put two and two together as well. Dumbledore resisted the urge to smile. Severus always was too perceptive for his own good... only perhaps Dumbledore himself could rival Snape's aptitude in that skill. "Severus, please fetch me the strongest Truth Potion you possess, and then go down to the kitchens and bring up the house-elf called Winky. Minerva, kindly go down to Hagrid's house, where you will kind a large black dog sitting in the pumpkin patch. Take the dog up to my office, tell him I will be with him shortly, then come back here."
Despite the peculiar instructions, his two professors hid their confusion and bustled off to complete the tasks. Then it was just Albus and Harry. The former sidled over to Moody's enormous trunk with seven locks, and proceeded to try each key in each hole. It wasn't until the seventh lock came undone that the Headmaster found the real Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody, albeit lacking in his epithet. The wooden leg was missing along with the magical eyeball, both having been stolen by the imposter on the floor. Physically, real Moody looked ill, starved- and his grizzly hair was sheered in chunks.
The monster reared up again.
Harry let out a noise of amazement, and Dumbledore clambored down into the underground pit the trunk had become. He lowered himself ten feet down to fall lightly next to sleeping Alastor, and Harry was once again struck dumb at his Headmaster's agility. He vaguely remembered the man had picked him up off the ground after the portkey'd deposited him and Cedric back at the maze's entrance. Either the man worked out a lot or he really was the most powerful wizard of the age... Harry didn't doubt it.
"Stunned- controlled by the Imperius Curse- very weak," the mage diagnosed as he examined the auror. "Of course they would have needed to keep him alive. Harry, throw down the imposter's cloak- he's freezing. Madam Pomfrey will need to see him, but he seems in no immediate danger." Harry obeyed without hesitation, and Dumbledore caught the cloak as it drifted down to him. He draped it over Moody, tucking it closely around him for extra measure... and to quell the beast in his constricted heart; satiate the desire to do something- anything- to make up for this horrible catastrophe...
Oh, what you must have gone through, Alastor... I should have known! I should've seen through the wolf's facade; but I'm getting old... I trust perhaps more than I should...
Albus pulled himself out of the trunk and next approached the hip flask. He unscrewed it and tipped it over, letting the thick glutinous liquid splatter on the office floor. Harry observed it trickle with a mild look on his countenance, but Dumbledore saw the query burning there.
"Polyjuice Potion, Harry," the eldest said, and Harry's head snapped up. Ah, so he is familiar with it... Dumbledore stifled a chuckle. He knew perfectly well the mischief Ron, Hermione, and Harry'd gotten into their Second Year. "You see the simplicity of it, and the brilliance. For Moody never does drink except from his hip flask, he's well known for it. The imposter needed, of course, to keep the real Moody close by, so that he could continue making the potion. You see his hair..." Albus pointed out the disproportionate snipping on slumbering Alastor's locks for Harry, "The imposter has been cutting it off all year, see where it is uneven? But I think, in the excitement of tonight, our fake Moody might have forgotten to take it as frequently as he should have... on the hour... every hour... we shall see."
Dumbledore pulled out the chair at the desk and sat down upon it, eyes fixed unblinkingly on unconscious Moody. Harry mirrored him, waiting as minutes passed the pair by in silence...
And then it happened.
Moody slowly changed into a young man with an unhealthy pallor, wrinkles of age round his closed eyes, freckles, and a mop of fair hair.
And then Albus knew who the wolf in friend's clothing was.
Barty Crouch Jr.
He wished the monster Fury would stop writhing so fiercely in his chest...
Veritaserum wrangled the truth out of Barty Crouch, and Dumbledore left him to McGonagall's mercy until the Minister arrived. He supported Harry, swaying under his leg injury and trembling from the confession, up to his office. There would be hours, maybe days, to go back and siphon through the memories of the past night. But for now, there was another story to be heard- one that would, undoubtedly, be much harder to bear. Harry's. The child who was like a favorite grandson to him.
Albus found he'd been right. Understanding had helped ease him and Harry into acceptance. But that would not make anyone's trials any easier. Not Dumbledore's, not Moody's, and definitely not Harry's, who bore the brunt of tonight's repercussions like a millstone round his shoulders. Because sooner or later, he'd have to be told about the Prophecy.
And that pained Albus more than the monster called Fury, because he knew there was a creature even more powerful and even more terrible and even more wonderful...
A/N: A sort of dark fluff, huh? Man, that ending was SO hard to write! I was continuously wondering just where to end it, and all my pre-conceived spots failed miserably... I wanted it to be meaningful and poignant, ya know? Well, I need to go put away my Goblet of Fire consultation book... I feel like I just copied a whole chapter, hahaha...
Please review! You've NO idea how much it means to me! I'm an addict and I need my fill of review drugs...