Title: Keeping The Stars Apart
Summary: Cedric Diggory, Barty Crouch Jr. and keeping the stars apart. One-shot, for Exceeds Expectations.
Prompt: Advent Calendar challenge - Cedric Diggory/Barty Crouch Jr. and "How can I trust you?"
Day: A partridge in a pear tree.
Recipient: Exceeds Expectations
Notes: NEW OTP GUIZE. Seriously. This fic is written for the trop fantastique Exceeds Expectations. This story made me absolutely fall in love with the pairing; I mean, it makes sense in a really twisted, beautiful way. I am now a Barric Jr. convert. Barric? Anyway, don't be too disheartened by the pairing (you will be pulled into our little cult eventually); the title is from the marvellous poem by E. E. Cummings and I sincerely hope you enjoy!
"Anywhere I go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling." - E. E. Cummings, i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
You are seventeen, with the stars within reach, and you trust him.
That is your first thought; you are seventeen and you are going to die. Oh, they all assure you that you won't; they all promise fake futures, talk of glories you won't see. Because you are seventeen and you are foolish and you are far from invincible, so you are going to die.
How could you not? You aren't a champion; you're not a fighter. You're a little boy in way over his head.
You are seventeen, and you are reckless.
So you visit him.
It's a friendly visit at first - just wandering through the corridors (past curfew, but you're a prefect, remember?) and a knock on the door. Listening against the wood to hear a crash and a muttered, "Fuck!" as something smashes to the ground. Biting your lip in frustration.
(Or maybe something else?)
You open the door.
A young man is standing in Moody's place - a young man with warm brown eyes and a soft smile and elegant fingers and curly brown hair. You watch him as he turns, silently, like a ghost with unfinished business. He smirks at you, and cocks his head to the side.
"Mr Diggory," he drawls with a sadistic smile. "Our very own champion."
You are seventeen and you are enthralled. You run.
"Darling, darling, darling," the man says, as he, quick as a flash, runs to the door and blocks your exit. You breathe heavily as his wand caresses the side of your face. "Where are you going?"
"What have you done with Professor Moody?" You ask, and that stupid smirk lifts higher. "... The real Professor Moody."
"Oh, yes! You always were a smart one, Diggory dear. And so young - just seventeen." His wand pushes harder into your face, and his voice becomes hard. "My name is Barty Crouch Jr. And I am here to kill my father. Problem?"
You gulp as your cheek begins to burn.
"Why what?" Crouch snaps.
"Why do you want to kill your father?" And maybe you're foolish, and reckless, but part of you believes you can save this man; this man with cold brown eyes and a hard smile and elegant fingers and curly brown hair. You kind of need a bit of redemption.
Crouch smiles again, and draws his wand away from you, finally. You hiss as the cold air hits the burn mark.
"He betrayed me," he whispers, and again, his eyes soften, and you reach out, because this man looks sad, and this man looks confused, and you can help him. "He didn't believe in me."
"Neither does my father," you tell him secretively, "But I don't want to kill him."
"Ah, but you're only seventeen, my love. You'll learn." His voice is silky and smooth and you want to lean into it, because this man is beauty personified, and you're seventeen, darling, and dangerous. You are going to die, but you're going to live before you do.
You meet him at eleven every night after, under the premise of prefect rounds and doing your duty. Every time, he snaps the lid of his hip flash shut, and it skitters across the wooden floorboards. You'll pick it up later.
You don't let Crouch see that you're scared. You're not intimidated by Professor Moody, and you're not intimidated by the man who wears his face.
Between you, you are made up of secrets and lies - your fingers twitch with desire and your feet tap nervous rhythms and your heart pounds out your treachery to the world. Your eyes gleam with forbidden thoughts and the blood in your veins ripples with the thought of tomorrow.
He wears his own mask when he's with you; the mask of Barty Crouch Jr.
It changes, though, like pantomime performances and stage productions. Hard and soft; warm and cold; redeemable and a fallen angel with no desire to fly again.
Sometimes you talk - you talk of fathers and betrayal and poetic justice - but most of the time, you sit in the cold, dark silence, and you both revel in it. Crouch revels in the emptiness of the room, in the dark shadows in the corners and the moonlight shining in from the window.
He revels in the dark and the haunted and the dead.
But you; you revel in the way his silhouette moves, the way his breath fogs up the glass ever so slightly; you revel in his footsteps coming closer and the gentle funeral-march beat of his heart.
"Diggory," Crouch says, and he breaks the silence with that uttered word, shatters the illusion and you almost want to cry.
You say sir, and not Barty because he is still your professor; under the perfect mask is buried the fake leg and roaming eye and gruff voice.
"Sir," he mimics with a smile. His footsteps crawl nearer, and his heartbeat stutters into a staccato. "I think we're a little old to play this game, aren't we, Diggory? "
"I'm not sure what you mean, sir," you murmur, your voice barely above a breath and just as unimportant.
"After all, you're a man now. And I'm not your professor. Call me Barty, if you must. And I will call you Cedric. Or would you prefer Ced? Eric? Rick?" He chuckles humourlessly, and he holds out his arm. Under the gleam of the moon shadows above, you can see the faint outline of the tattoo you both pretend doesn't exist. He hums under his breath.
"Cedric," you whisper. Barty nods appraisingly.
"Excellent." He prowls forward and you are pinned to the wall by his gaze - your shoulders are hunched and your fingers are spread and shaking, but he just smirks that fucking smirk that you hate and you love but you don't love because you can't love and you most certainly can't love him.
Barty tilts his head.
"Now, now, Cedric. Don't tell me it's in your nature to be shy?" And then he leans forward and he kisses you. There aren't fireworks - not that you expected any - but god, he is kissing you, and he's evil and redeemable and your professor but he's just pretending, so it's all alright, yeah?
No, Cedric. It's not.
"Barty," you say as you walk into the room. He shuffles his papers and growls under his breath. He looks up with a sigh.
"Yes? What is it?"
"The task," you murmur, and he grins, like a - like a dragon.
"Oh, yes. The task. How exciting." He says it in a monotone, but he's still smiling, and he walks round his desk. He holds your face in his hands and flips you around so that you're leaning against the mahogany. "My little champion."
"But I'm not your champion," you blurt out, and almost immediately his nails dig into your cheeks, warning you. His index finger presses against the scar there, and you very almost whimper. You persevere. "You don't expect me to win."
"And where would you get that idea?" His voice is low and dangerous and - and Merlin.
"Nowhere," you say too quickly. Barty raises an eyebrow and you swallow loudly. "You pay more attention to Potter than to me. You want - no, no you don't. You need Potter to win."
"Oh, look," he breathes, and he leans forwards and kisses you, his fingernails leaving little crescents in your skin, curing you and breaking you and most of all, marking you. His hands tangle in your hair and he bites your lip. "The Krup fights back."
"I'm not a Krup," you gasp against his lips, because his hips are doing something and that something is distracting you from the correct line of conversation. "I'm not your pet."
"But you want to be, darling," Barty replies evilly, one of his hands slipping lower, lower, low- oh. "You want me to own you."
You shake your head wordlessly, then let it drop back. Your hands are resting on his desk, the only thing keeping you upright. He pushes you back further so that you're almost horizontal - you are vulnerable but you're safe; you are trapped but you couldn't care less.
"Guess what, Cedric?" He purrs against your ear, and you give a strangled moan, your fingers flying up to cup his jaw tightly, in a silent plea of don't tell me.
"I already own you."
Then he bites your throat fiercely, drawing blood. He laps it up with a smile and you sigh in defeat or maybe pleasure or maybe even both. They're synonymous now.
As he whispers, "You're mine," into your neck, you can't help but realise that it's true.
You can't bring yourself to care what that means.
"Cedric," Barty says before you even open the door. He is seated at his desk, his feet balanced atop it, and an ungraded paper in his hand. There's a pairing of reading glasses perched on the end of his nose, and he taps a quill against the corner of his mouth.
"Barty," you reply, walking over to him. His eyes watch you, but otherwise, he doesn't move.
"How is my little champion?" He wonders aloud. You walk round his desk, and stand in front of him, hovering like some kind of angel watching over him.
You sit down on his desk and watch his throat as he swallows.
"The second task," you murmur thoughtfully, and you pick up one of his - Moody's? - many defence against the dark arts objects and turn it over and over in your shaking hands. "I can't figure out the clue. I've tried whatever I could, but-"
"Oh, Cedric, dear," Barty sighs, and his legs fall down with a muffled thump as his boots hit the wooden floor. He taps a rhythm with his quill. "I had expected better, really."
"Potter told me about the first task, and I can't even figure out the clue for the second. I don't think I'm going to survive long enough to see the third."
The tapping stops.
"Try the bathroom," he says idly, and the tapping resumes again. You look around the room, your eyes glistening with - well. The ghosts of your past, perhaps?
"The bathroom," you repeat dully.
"Yes, are you deaf as well as incompetently blind?" Barty growls, swinging his chair round to face you properly. He has shadows under his brown eyes, you notice; a faint beard is growing where he is usually so well-kept. You begin to wonder, just a bit. You begin to ask yourself whether you know this man at all.
"How can I trust you?"
"That's the point, darling," he drawls, "You can't."
"What are you planning?" You ask him boldly, your gaze meeting his defiantly. His eyes harden and darken into the strangers of your nightmares, not like the warm, chocolate friends of your dreams.
"As if I would tell you," he scoffs. "You're nothing but a school boy. A petty little school boy who believes himself to be better than the rest because he's so fucking good and so fucking pure. You're just a goddamn saint, aren't you, Cedric? What? Have you come to redeem me? Relieve me of my burdens and forgive me of my sins?"
"As if I believe you to be fucking redeemable," you snarl back, because you know, now; this man is far from a fallen angel. He is a demon who has broken through the cracks.
He is the Devil.
And you are a pseudo-prince, forgotten in the wake of another fairytale. But no matter; he was never going to be anything but the villain anyhow.
You do not say anything.
He watches you intensely. His hand twitches from wear it rests next to his wand. You know he wants to curse you; he wants to trap you and keep you here, and you would almost be willing, but you're just seventeen, and you're too young to be anything but free.
"Barty-" You start, but he raises a hand, cutting you off.
"You didn't know what I was going to say!" You bark stubbornly, standing up from his chair and starting to pace.
"Of course I did, darling. You were going to say you don't want to go into the maze tomorrow. You were going to say it was a mistake; you're not a champion. You were going to say something along the lines of, "Tell my parents goodbye," and you were going to promise to try. You might've even been about to say I lo-"
"Don't, Barty," you whisper, and to your surprise, he stops.
"Bullshit," he growls without mercy, and he grins at you again. He is unhinged and you lo - "Eight months, Cedric," he taunts, "and still you can't look me in the eye and say those three little words?"
You stop your pacing and shake your head. You think of the black, soul-encompassing mark on his left forearm - the one he showed to you willingly, eagerly, as though it were a prize, a trophy. You think of the way he says, "Potter."
"Come now, pet," Barty purrs, and he takes a step closer to you. "My little champion."
You stay silent.
Quick as a whip, his hands snakes back, and then he backhands you across the face. You fall to floor and you spit blood on his fucking Albanian rug.
Barty crouches down next to, tilts his head in a gesture reminiscent of a puppy, and he looks into your eyes. He dares you. He dares you to say it, dares you to be that vulnerable. But you can't - you can't trust him. You can't take that risk; you're not that selfish.
"I hate you."
"STOP LYING TO ME!" He roars, and you flinch from your place on the ground. "Stop lying to me, Cedric. Stop it. You're so bloody stubborn and selfless and you're a right evil bastard, you know that? Inside. You try and trick yourself to play fair but you couldn't care what would happen to those people with me around. You know me, and you know I would slaughter every child in this place in a heartbeat if my Lord asked me to.
"And yet you come to me every night and you look me in the eyes and you let me fuck you into the ground and make you scream.
"Do you know why that is, Cedric?" His voice has gone soft again, and his gaze is questioning.
You look up at his eyes and they are warm.
"Because you may be seventeen, and you may be selfless, pet, but you are just like me." You run from the room for the last time and you don't look back.
He looks over your body.
You can see it in the way he stands - he may be wearing Moody's face now, but underneath that, the Barty Crouch Jr. mask has cracked under the pressure; the porcelain has been bent out of shape, irredeemable now.
He may not have loved you, as such - you don't even know if a man like Barty is capable of love - but you were the closest he could get. And he tried to push you away, he tried to keep you safe, but in the end, it wasn't enough, was it, Cedric?
You thought he would save you; that's what it came down to. You tricked yourself into believing that you wanted to save him, but that's not true.
He wasn't redeemable. You weren't invincible.
You couldn't trust him after all.
But now, you're standing over your body; your broken, useless body that is so empty now, lost without you. Harry leans over it and weeps, and you want to comfort him, because he is too young for this.
He is too young for the horrors of this world, as are you.
And you look at Barty, beautiful broken Barty, and you think, he is heartless, because you have always held his heart; you have kept his soft smiles and warm brown eyes locked carefully inside your own heart, to be carried with you into death.
You aren't stupid enough to believe that you were more than an occupational hazard - you were second best, at best. But he cared for you, at least.
Maybe he didn't even mean for you to die.
You were just the spare.
And on some level, you're okay with that, because he was just the spare too, in the end. He was just another of Voldemort's pawns - and you can say that, here, because you aren't scared any longer - and just another man being used.
Death welcomes spares with open arms, soft smiles, and warm brown eyes, and that makes you happy unlike anything else. You are safe here. You are seventeen and you are reckless and you are foolish, but you can learn.
So you wait by Heaven's gates for him to come home to you; he does, eventually, and maybe here, he is redeemable. Maybe you're invincible.
The two of you, together; you are the wonder that's keeping the stars apart.