Hermione wasn't expecting for her life to take this turn. When she was younger, she had always imagined herself as the minister or at the very least a high ranking ministry official. She never really imagined herself to be a healer. Certainly not the best in the magical world, despite what her best friend, Harry, kept telling her. But here she was being called onto a case, a medical one, unusual for her friend Harry, an Auror, very early in the morning. She'd been brought to this place and was asked to wait. She was getting rather bored and was seriously thinking about lecturing Harry on how not to keep someone waiting when the door burst open and in he stumbled. She started to say his name but was stopped by him grabbing her wrist and pulling her out of the room and beginning in a very fast walk down the hall.
"No time, you can lecture me later," he sighed. "Something happened, something Voldemort did... I didn't think it was possible, but they did it!"
Hermione blinked, "Harry, what are you talking about? What did they do?" He wasn't making sense, which wasn't usual for serious-Auror-Harry.
He turned to her and he sighed, running a hand through his messy hair. "I know it's possible to put souls back in a body, I've seen it... But Voldemort put all the souls of his supporters back after they'd been kissed..." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair again, "I just want to know if they'd be like they used to."
"Well," Hermione started, "they would probably be mentally affected... Not really able to function." So it could be done, the souls of the damned could be put back. "Their bodies might have decayed, but the souls should still be intact. The decay of their minds and the trauma of what happened would cause them to be mentally unstable, most of them unable to speak... Most of them would die quickly." She said this like she was unaffected by the news, but it tore her up inside; she hated people dying.
Harry nodded. "That's what we thought... until... well, until we came a across..." He trailed off and sighed looking away from her and at his dirt smudged shoes.
"Who, Harry?" She asked trying to get him to look at her.
"Barty Crouch Jr... I don't know why he's functioning... But everything we've come across seems to suggest that he's not as affected because he's a genius," Harry said shaking his head. "I don't see how; he was mental back in 4th year..." At Hermione's confused look he sighed. "He got perfect grades at Hogwarts, he got 12 perfect OWLS and 12 perfect NEWTS, he kept his entire plan from Dumbledore and the old sod didn't even know until the night Voldemort came back... Hermione, this man is almost as bright as you!"
Hermione blushed. "A bit more of a genius than me; only got 10 OWLS and 9 NEWTS... He's a genius, so that makes sense... All of the others were of average or less intelligence, I'm guessing... He must have an IQ of over 200. That might be why he wasn't affected even though his mental state was compromised," she said.
"Right," Harry said. "We need you to examine him. He doesn't talk or anything, I don't think he can, he just sits there, but he's aware," Harry sighed, "of everything... He probably knows you're here and a bit about you. Don't be put off if he doesn't let you give him anything, he's not being very receptive..." He waited until Hermione nodded in understanding before leading her to the cell. All the while she could hear the moaning and pain filled noises of the others. The poor souls who didn't end up like Barty Crouch Jr.
When they arrived at the cell, she saw Barty look up at them and saw him roll his eyes as the Aurors went through a detailed routine of letting someone into his cell. He was pushed off into a corner, his tongue flicking to the corner of his mouth, and the door was unlocked, Harry led her through and stayed in the cell in case anything happened. She rolled her eyes at the action and smiled as Barty sat back down on his bunk. "Mr. Crouch?" she asked. His lip rose in disgust at the name and she tried again, "Barty?"
He looked at her, his tongue flicking again, and she was shocked to see the high level intelligence lingering in the depths of his eyes. She had guessed he was smart but she didn't know how smart.
"How long has it been since you've eaten?" she asked sitting on the bed with him, giving Harry a stern look as he tried to get between them. He raised a brow and glanced at the tray on the ground, then back up at her, his tongue flicking to the corner of his mouth. She looked at the food on the ground and grimaced. "Not the best then..." She saw the wiry smile he tried to hide and smiled herself. "Harry, do you think he could get some real food? Nothing too savory or rich, but something? Not the prison food," she said. He opened his mouth to protest, but she pegged him with her no-nonsense look.
"Fine," he sighed. "You want me to send in someone else?" She shook her head and he reluctantly left.
"They want to know why you aren't talking..." she paused. "I don't care if you want to at the moment, but you'll have to eventually..." He was watching her as she watched him, his tongue flicking at the corner of his lips again. "You're trying to figure out why I was brought here, and I'm supposed to examine you, to make sure you aren't crazy or a danger to yourself or others." She watched him for a moment as he reached up to scratch at the stubble on his cheek. His tongue flicked again and she cocked a brow at him. "Why do you do that? The tongue thing..." she asked looking at him closer than she had before.
His light hair was straggly and matted, his clothes ripped and ragged, and he looked gaunt and tired. His eyes, that held an intelligence and a mania that surprised even her, we're dark brown and sunken. He was tall, a little over six feet, and lanky, though his muscles we're almost non-existent from never being able to move.
"The first time my father beat me," he growled, surprising her. She hadn't been expecting him to talk. "Busted lip couldn't stop messing with it..." His voice was rougher than she would've thought, but that could've been because it was the first time he's spoken in months. His tongue flicked again and he sighed, "I didn't join him again because he betrayed me... left me to die. Not even that! Just rot like a worthless-" He cut himself off and stared hard at the cell door.
There were footsteps approaching, and she knew he didn't want them to know he was speaking. That he didn't want them to know anything. Harry appeared and let himself in. He passed the tray, which contained a sandwich, and apple, and a goblet of water, to Hermione who immediately passed it to Barty. He looked at it warily and glanced between the two of them, his tongue flicking to the corner of his mouth nervously.
"There's nothing in the sandwich," Harry sighed.
Barty's tongue flicked out again and he looked at Hermione for a long moment. She smiled and took a bite of the sandwich, placing it in his hand. His tongue flicked again and as quick as anything, he devoured the sandwich. He turned his attention to the apple and grinned manically, like it's been years since he'd seen one, which it probably had. Hermione grinned as she watched him eat the fruit, looking as happy as he could be. He only sipped at the water while he ate and gulped down the rest when he'd finished.
"We can work on manners later," Hermione quipped as she watched him wipe his mouth with the back of his hand. He scoffed at her which made her smile at him. She became serious as she watched him for a few more moments. He seemed more at ease with her presence, more so than he had been when she first entered, and she wanted to know why he was talking to her and no one else... She checked her watch, sighed, and said, "I have to go, Barty, but I'll be back later today to check on you." He looked straight into her eyes as she spoke, chilling her to the bone and intriguing her all at once. "You need to rest... See if you can get some sleep."
She stood and walked out of the cell, but when she looked back he was still watching her and his tongue flicked to the corner of his mouth again.
For the rest of the day she thought about him. He was interesting to her. How intelligent was he to have been able to function after his soul was returned? Why would he only talk to her? Had his father really beat him? Why did this man decide to trust her the moment she set foot into his cell? He didn't even know her name! ... Except, perhaps he did... He'd taught them in her 4th year... Maybe he remembered... Who was she kidding of course he remembered! People don't forget entire years.
She had just finished her shift, and was about to apparate to the prison when Harry rushed in and called to her. She ran to him and they apparated back to Azkaban. As soon as they landed, she heard screaming. Harry led her the short way to Barty's cell, a route she'd already memorized that morning. She saw him writhing on his cot, screaming at the top of his lungs in pain.
"Before this, he managed to say your name... First word he's said since we found him..." Harry said, and she didn't tell him any different. "Thought you could help him, maybe..."
Hermione pushed herself into the cell and managed to disperse the crowd of Aurors and she took out her wand muttering a charm used by healers on many an unruly patient. He struggled against his invisible bonds and continued to scream. Hermione, not really knowing what to do, went with her instincts and sat on his bed near his hip and placed a hand on his shoulder. He immediately froze and started breathing rapidly.
"Barty, it's me," she said softly.
Barty started to struggle again, this time it was a more focused effort. "Don't- Don't touch me!" he snarled. "Don't touch- get off!"
Hermione brought her hand back to her side, "Okay, Barty, I'm not touching you and I won't do it again... You need to calm down... If you calm down, I can release you." His eyes were wide and there was a manic desperation in the way he looked at her. "You need to calm down," she said softly. She looked into his eyes as he strained against his invisible bonds. "It's okay, just calm down," she said softly. She watched as he forced himself to breathe normally. He closed his eyes and breathed heavily for a moment, his tongue flicking out to wet the corner of his mouth every few seconds. She waited a moment before she ended the charm.
He immediately relaxed and laid there breathing hard for a long moment before looking into her eyes with his intense gaze.
"Dreams?" Hermione asked as he sat up against the wall. He nodded once letting out a large breath. "What are they about? Well, you don't have to tell me I was just asking," she said. She didn't want to demand anything from him or have him think that he had to respond.
He watched her for a long moment then he sighed saying, "My soul being taken..."
Hermione bit her lip and nodded. She sighed and smiled sadly at him. "This place probably doesn't help," she said wryly.
He scoffed at her and then chuckled weakly, "This place isn't good for anything but torture..." He grinned at her self-deprecatingly and she was shocked at how white and clean his teeth looked and how handsome he was. His tongue flicked out to meet the corner of his mouth.
"I'm going to get you out of here..." she told him with a sigh. "I promise, Barty..."
"You think you can get me out of here? I'm the most guarded prisoner of Azkaban, they're not going to let me walk out of here," he said softly, letting his voice rumble in his throat so it almost sounded like a growl.
Hermione smiled smugly at him, "But people listen to you when you're the best in your field and a savior of the wizarding world."
He chuckled at her again and said, "Bet you're the only one who takes advantage of that..." His tongue flicked again.
"Only for causes that are worth it," she told him, smiling softly at him for what felt like the hundredth time that day.
He watched her leave, but not before she made sure he was going to be all right. He had no idea what would happen next but he was sure he'd see more of her in the future either way.
Hermione's night was spent writing up reasons to get Barty out of Azkaban, and, at the very least, into a facility that would actually help him. She knew that she would be able to help him but she wasn't sure how much she sway she would have.
She might be able to convince Harry but that wouldn't mean much if she couldn't convince Kingsley or the council. By morning she had memorized a short but moving speech and was ready to deliver it to those who would listen. And she would make them listen because if Hermione was good at anything it was making people see reason. So what if he was a Death Eater? He had obviously changed, he hated Voldemort and he was intelligent. Of course, they would have to question him to make sure he wasn't still deranged and believed in the Dark Lord, and he knew that Voldemort was dead, had known since it happened, when his Dark Mark had disappeared. Perhaps it disappeared before then... She would have to ask him, she supposed.
She apparated to the prison, to gather Harry for an impromptu meeting with the council and to make sure Barty was all right. She stopped by Barty's cell and knocked politely on the bars. He shot into a sitting position quickly but relaxed slightly when he saw her. "Morning," she smiled at him, "I've got a plan to get you out of here! It's not fool proof, but it's solid..." She paused and sighed. "They'll probably want to question you... Veritiserum, of course..." He rolled his eyes, tongue flicking to the side of his mouth, and she smiled bitterly at him. "I know, but it's the only way... You might be put in St. Mungos, but at least it's not here."
He nodded and was silent for a moment before he said, "You question me. That's my only condition."
She nodded and excused herself, saying that she needed to find Harry before she could go to the council. When she found him, he was meeting with his team, trying to figure out what to do with the people unable to function. She caught his eye and watched as he excused himself from the group. "This is absolutely mental," he sighed at her.
"Quite..." she replied. "Harry?"
"Yeah?" he used the voice that suggested that he knew she wanted something from him that he wasn't going to be happy with.
"I wanted to know if you we're going to release any of the prisoners..." she watched as he processed her request.
His eyes widened and he shook his head, "Hermione, no! We can't! Not him!"
"But, Harry, he's changed!" She continued when she saw him shake his head, "He hates Voldemort! He's relatively sane, and he'd make a great example that Death Eaters can be reformed! Harry, you know this is a golden opportunity and you can't waste it!" He sighed heavily and she knew she almost had him. "He's not doing well here, Harry. And I know you don't care about that, but if he does become the example the ministry is looking for then he needs to get out of here as soon as possible!"
His shoulders slumped and he sighed, "You and your hopeless cases..."
She grinned. "Oh, thank you, Harry! Would you set up a meeting with the council? For today, as soon as possible!"
"Hermione, I can't possibly set it for today!" he exclaimed in surprise and frustration.
"Honestly! You're Harry Potter for god's sake!" she told him as she walked away. "Make it happen! They'll bend to your every whim if you let them! Just tell them it's important and in their interests, they'll agree because you want them to meet me!" She left him there just sort of gaping after her. She sighed at his thick-headedness; it was ridiculous sometimes.
She found Barty in his cell ripping up pieces of his blanket. "You might need that," she said teasingly.
He glanced up at her and said, "I don't sleep."
She nodded, she knew what that was like, being afraid to sleep because of the night terrors... "Harry's setting up a meeting with the council. Your hearing will probably be tomorrow or the next day." He nodded and she watched as his tongue flicked out to the corner of his mouth. "Did he hit you often? Your father?" she asked, almost absentmindedly.
"No," he said, "only when my grades were less than perfect."
"That's why he hit you?" she asked incredulously. He just shrugged at her and flicked his tongue. "That's... horrible!"
He looked up at her, "Just the way it was." He said it matter-of-factly, like he didn't care what had happened to him.
"You know," she said, "I never examined you. Medically." He looked up at her. "Of course, I don't need to; I can tell that you're malnourished and exhausted." He kept his eyes on her, his intense gaze making it hard to keep eye contact, and flicked his tongue out to the corner of his mouth. "We can do that later, I suppose... You'll have to eventually," she said at his expression of distaste. "And you'll have to have a bath. You smell awful, by the way."
"Thanks," he muttered sarcastically.
She laughed. "Okay, sorry! Sometimes, I just keep talking and say rude things to people; I don't mean to, it's a bad habit." He raised a brow at her and she smiled at him again. "What?" she asked.
"Who else have you unintentionally insulted?" he asked. His voice was playful, and he smirked as his tongue shot out to the corner of his lips.
Her face burned and she just smiled shaking her head at him. "You'll never know," she said teasingly.
Harry ran up to them and looked between them cautiously, "They said they'd see you right away. Have you got everything you need?" At her nod he started walking away, but stopped when he didn't hear her following. He looked back to see her smile at that bastard and say something. Then she nodded, almost like she was having a conversation with him. He watched her walk up to him and he asked her, "Did he talk to you?" She gave him a look that said that was for her to know and him to find out, and then she apparated, leaving him to follow in a hurry.