A/N: I was originally only planning on doing two chapters of this, but I still don't feel like I rounded it up properly so here's one more.
Six months later
When the knock sounds on the door in the early hours of the morning his initial reaction is one of panic. He's scared they've finally worked out what he's done and have come to arrest him, but he knows he has to stay calm. There aren't many reasons he can think of for someone to be knocking on his door at this hour, but jumping to conclusions won't help him. If he acts nervous he'll only give himself away.
The first thing he does after getting out of bed and pulling on his dressing gown is to check Barty hasn't woken, which of course he hasn't – the sleeping potion he's under will keep him out for eight hours solid. As an extra precaution though Crouch locks his son's bedroom door and places a silencing charm on it before heading towards the staircase. Winky appears on the landing to ask rather sleepily whether she should go and answer the door, but he orders her to stay upstairs and make sure Barty doesn't wake up – even though Crouch knows that he won't.
The knock sounds insistently again before he manages to reach the door and opens it to look at the man standing outside in the chill morning air and dull pre-dawn light. "Brunwick?" Crouch says, not quite managing to hide his surprise at seeing his old work colleague on the doorstep. He hasn't seen any of the people he used to work with in months. Officially, he still has his job, but in practise he hasn't been doing it ever since Barty was sent to Azkaban. 'Compassionate leave' they called it, but really Crouch knows they're just trying to get rid of him. After all, how can a man with a Death Eater for a son remain head of the Department for Magical Law Enforcement?
"Barty," the man answers rather warily, "There's been some…well, there's been a, um, development in the situation regarding your son."
"What?" Crouch says curtly, wanting to get this over with as quickly as possible.
Brunwick looks apologetic. "Do you mind if I come in?" he asks and makes as if to enter the house, but Crouch moves to block his way.
"Whatever you have to say, Brunwick, you can say it right here," Crouch says in a tone that suggests he is merely annoyed at being woken at this hour in the morning, but underneath the façade fear and panic is still eating away at him. He's worried that maybe Brunwick is here to break the news that they've discovered something suspicious and want to ask him questions.
Brunwick looks reluctant. "Are you sure? This could be, well…it may be upsetting for you."
"Just spit it out, Brunwick," Crouch snaps.
Brunwick takes a deep breath and then speaks. "Your son's dead, Barty. He passed away about an hour ago."
A moment's silence passes in which the meaning of those words hit Crouch like a tidal wave. Elizabeth is gone. To the rest of the world she may have died months ago, but not to Crouch. The thought of her suffering alone in Azkaban had continued to haunt him long after they'd held that private funeral for her. And now she was finally gone.
He's too stunned to know how to react. Not that this had been unexpected, but knowing it was coming did nothing to lessen the shock of it. Part of him wants to cry, but he knows he can't do that with Brunwick still standing on the doorstep. "Is that all?" he says brusquely.
"Um…yes," Brunwick replies, slightly confused by Crouch's reaction. "Did you want to see him? Or have the body brought back here for his funeral?"
"No," Crouch says immediately. He does want Elizabeth brought back here, just so he can see her one last time, and he wants give her a proper burial, but he knows that if they leave it too long the polyjuice potion will wear off. "Just bury him there as soon as possible. This morning, if you can."
Brunwick looks bewildered. "Barty, I know he deserved to be in there, but still…don't you think you should at least give your son a proper funeral?"
"He's not my son," Crouch says bluntly, as if that's the end of the matter. "Is that all you wanted to tell me, Brunwick?"
Brunwick nods, still looking shocked at Crouch's reaction. "Yes, that's all."
"Good. In that case I think I'll go back to bed," Crouch says, shutting the door on the stunned Brunwick's face.
Crouch turns away from the door to head back upstairs. He's still in emotional turmoil, but part of him can't help but feel relieved: relieved that Elizabeth isn't suffering anymore, and relieved that he hasn't been found out.
He knows though that the hardest part is yet to come: he has to tell Barty. Even though he doesn't want to talk to Barty at all about anything – let alone about Elizabeth – she was still his mother and he has a right to know. He thinks he may as well do it now, and after checking out of the window to make sure Brunwick has actually gone he heads back to Barty's room. Winky is stood outside waiting for him, and she looks up at him with wide eyes. "Is it true, sir? Is Mistress really dead?"
He glares at her. "Were you listening?"
She looks terrified and stares at the floor. "Yes, sir," she squeaks.
Even though she was eavesdropping, he can't bring himself to be mad at her. "Yes, Winky, it's true."
"Oh, Master, no!" she wails, bursting into tears and burying her head in her hands.
Crouch grits his teeth. "Winky, if you're going to cry please go and do it somewhere else. I can't be dealing with this now."
She glances up at him with those large orb-like eyes and then runs off down the corridor back to her cupboard, still sobbing.
He turns back to the bedroom door and unlocks it to go inside. Barty's still asleep, as expected, and Crouch knows he'll have to use magic to wake him. No point waiting until morning.
Crouch sits down beside the bed and takes out his wand. He points it at Barty's chest and mutters "Enervate."
The boy slowly begins to blink his eyes open and looks around him. He seems confused for a few moments, and then, suddenly realising where he is, he sits bolt upright and tries to get out of bed. Crouch grabs his arms firmly and forces him back down. The boy's a lot stronger than he was six months ago, but still not strong enough to succeed in fighting off his father. Realising there's no point in trying he stops fighting and goes still. "What, no Imperius Curse today?" he sneers.
Crouch looks at him. "No, not right now. But I think you ought to stay right where you are and listen to what I have to say."
Barty continues to lie motionless on the bed. His gaze is fixed on the ceiling and not on his father. "What could you possibly have to say to me that I'd be interested in hearing?"
"It's about your mother," Crouch says, and at that Barty finally turns his head to look at him. The boy doesn't speak, but Crouch can tell he's listening. There's a look in Barty's eyes that suggests he already knows what Crouch is going to say before he says it. "She died this morning."
There's no change in Barty's expression and he remains silent for a few more moments, but then turns his head to stare at the ceiling again before deciding to speak. "You wish it were true, don't you?"
Crouch is confused. "Wish what were true?"
"What they're going to print in the Prophet later on. That I'd died." He turns his head to look at his father again, but Crouch can't meet his gaze and looks down at the floor. In all honesty, he doesn't know if that's true or not. All he wishes for is that it had never come to this: that Elizabeth could still be alive and that Barty hadn't done what he'd done and that nothing had ever gone wrong. But it hadn't worked out like that, and even though he often feels like he wishes Barty were dead he's never sure that he actually means it.
He's trying to make sense of his thoughts when Barty speaks again. "Why don't you kill me?"
Crouch looks up at him again, his eyes flashing angrily. To ask if he wants him dead is one thing, but to ask why he doesn't actually do it himself…Does Barty really think he's that much of a monster? That much like him? "What?"
"Well, why don't you?" Barty says, his tone challenging. "You're already using one Unforgivable Curse on me per day, what would it hurt you to use one more?"
Crouch suddenly gets to his feet and stands over Barty, gripping his wand so tightly his knuckles have gone white. He wants to yell at the boy for daring to be so ungrateful. How can he be so nonchalant about his life when his parents have sacrificed so much to keep him alive? Does he really wish to die that badly?
Crouch's eyes flash in anger and for a moment it looks like he might actually do what the boy suggested. He sees Barty shrink back into the bed slightly but the look in the boy's eyes doesn't change; still challenging, still contemptuous, still…accepting. Almost as if he wants Crouch to do it. And, Crouch realises, maybe he does. Maybe he thinks that if he dies now he won't have to face up to the consequences of what he's done. Face up to the fact his mother is dead.
Crouch lowers his wand, and he notices Barty's eyes flicker down to where his wand is held by his side and then back up to his face. The boy doesn't say anything, but he looks nervous.
"Your mother died so that you could live," Crouch says, his voice sounding dead. "I hope you're grateful for that."
Barty looks at him, still refusing to speak, but Crouch thinks his eyes seem slightly moist as if he might be about to cry. But then he blinks the tears away and lies back on the bed, rolling onto his side to face away from his father.
Crouch sighs and raises his wand again. He doesn't want to have to deal with this. He can't handle trying to force Barty to face up to what he's done, because really he knows it'll do no good. Nothing's changed. The boy didn't show any kind of remorse while his mother was still alive, and he won't show any now that she's dead. Crouch points his wand at the back of the figure lying on the bed. "Imperio."
He doesn't see the glistening eyes wide open waiting for him to say it, and doesn't know how welcome the numbness is when it comes.