Barty Crouch waited in the woods, the head beside him in a leather satchel transfigured from a piece of its skin. After dinner ended, it only took him a few minutes of watching to determine that these people the Potter boy had found himself with were muggles through and through. No use waiting around for the perfect time to snatch the boy then. He was a king among cockroaches. A snake among rats.
They walked back to their tents—non-magical, filthy things. The Potter boy headed for some sort of large vehicle, the door of which banged open against the side. Barty smirked, licking his lips. Soon he would be back at his master's side, forgiven and exalted. Putting the satchel on his back, he disillusioned himself and took a step out of woods, headed for the boy.
The boy himself was hot and sticky and tired and irritated. He sat down in the seat he'd slept in and pressed his face against the linoleum of the table. For a brief moment before it warmed against his skin, it felt cool. Harry sighed at the fleeting moment of relief. At the sound of footsteps on the RV steps, Harry looked up. He expected to see Dale or Carol coming in to settle down for the evening. He found neither.
"We haven't met yet," said the boy with brown hair.
"No, we haven't. I'm Harry."
"Carl. Rick's my dad," he said. "I thought, well, you're the only other kid around." He shrugged. "I have a few comic books and stuff."
"I..." More footsteps. Harry glanced toward the doorway and froze. Someone was slowly coming into view, fading out of a disillusionment charm. It took a moment for Harry to connect the man, framed in the door by fading evening light, to the name he'd only heard in nightmares and other people's memories.
Harry opened his mouth, the words "get down" and "run" blossoming to life on the tip of his tongue. But they died there too before he could get them out. It was already too late. Crouch had his wand aimed. Everything happened at once and in slow motion simultaneously. Harry ducked down under the table, groping for his wand in his sock. A flash of green filled the RV and Carl fell with a heavy thump.
Harry felt the ropes wrap around him, squeezing and burning, his limbs tightening against his body, which fell right next to Carl's, his eyes staring straight into the boy's. Empty. Dead. Lifeless. Harry struggled against the ropes, trying to turn away from yet another death on his hands.
"There that wasn't so hard, was it?" Barty Crouch knelt down next to him, rolling him over onto his back. He picked Harry's wand up off the floor of the RV and pocketed it. "Levicorpus."
Harry rose into the air, his head smacking into the RV table as he flipped upside down.
"Should make you pretty easy to transport, that." Barty's tongue flicked across his lips, now formed into a smirk. Barty used his wand to guide Harry out in front of him toward the door. Harry eyed the knife on the counter next to him. If he could somehow get to it... Barty Crouch followed his line of vision and laughed.
"You think I'm that stupid, Potter?" Crouch asked. "That I would somehow let you escape again?"
"Again?" Harry asked, dizzy from the blood rushing to his head.. "I wouldn't exactly call coming here an escape."
"You want it, Potter? Let me make it easier for you." Crouch guided Harry into the counter, smacking his head against it a few times. "Go on. Grab it, boy." Crouch laughed, long and loud. He smacked Harry's head against the counter once more for good measure, knocking his glasses slightly askew. He laughed again. The time, the laugh was punctuated by a small growl, one belonging to neither Harry nor the dark wizard. Barty Crouch spun on his heel. His loss of concentration on the spell sent Harry plummeting to the floor head-first, half of his limbs banging against the counter. The knife fell onto the tile next to him with a small ting.
The thing that was a boy minutes ago wrapped its hands around Barty's wand arm. Harry struggled against the ropes, reaching with his fingertips for the knife. The creature managed to push Barty down onto the bench by the table, teeth gnashing. Harry's fingertips closed around the knife. He worked it toward the ropes, praying it was as sharp as a knife should be in a zombie apocalypse.
There was a small crash as the creature flew against the shelves. Crouch raised his wand right as Harry escaped from the ropes. There was nothing he could do for the boy now. He scrambled out of the door of the RV right as Crouch yelled, "Sectumsempra."
Harry didn't wait to find out if that spell worked on those things. He looked around, frantic for somewhere to hide, somewhere without people or any those things. He locked eyes on the barn and started sprinting.
"Potter!" Something red whooshed past Harry's arm. He kept running, hearing nothing but his heart beating in his ears. He had to get Barty away from camp. No doubt they heard something by now. They'd be coming out of tents to see what was going on. He didn't want anyone else to die because of him. Something else shot by him, so close Harry felt the hairs on his head ripple. He hoped that whatever Voldemort needed him for, he needed him alive.
He slammed into the barn doors, finding them chained. He swore under his breath and turned to run around the side, but before he could the doors bowed outward, so far they knocked Harry face-first into the dirt. A spell meant for him sailed high above, splintering the wood of the door. Bits and pieces of barn rained down on Harry's back.
What seemed like an army of moans and groans reached Harry's ears. He scrambled to his feet away from the sound and turned around to see the door splitting apart, weakened by Crouch's spell. Crack, crack, crack, and the right barn door was in pieces on the ground. A bit of wood and a handle dangling by the chain on the left side were all that remained. Harry turned to Barty, wide-eyed.
"Give me my wand," Harry demanded. Barty stared at the approaching hoard and laughed.
"Don't get your hopes up, Potter."
Harry turned and looked at the stream of undead coming straight for both of them with hungry eyes. He turned back to Crouch. And then he did the unexpected, jumping right onto the man and tackling him to the ground. Barty's wand rolled out of his hand. Harry grabbed it and pointed it at him.
The wizard went stiff and Harry searched his pockets, finally unearthing his own wand just in time to look up and see a creature looming above him. Mottled and peeling hands grabbed his shoulder, pushing him onto the ground, half on top of Crouch. Harry struggled to get the thing off of him so he could light it up. The creature had gravity on its side. Harry could see bits of gum peeling away, black around those teeth, inching closer and closer for Harry's cheek. Harry pushed with all his might, his mind already struggling to accept that this was the way he was going to die when blood exploded all over his face, the sound of a gunshot cracking through the night. The creature collapsed on top of him, putrid blood dripping onto his forehead. Harry shoved it off and pointed his wand at Crouch, glancing up at people approaching from the camp.
For a brief moment, he considered leaving Crouch there to be devoured by those things, but he couldn't do it. He wasn't even sure he could do it to Voldemort.
The wizard scrambled to his feet, wiping blood spray onto his robes.
"Now I'll take my wand back."
Harry pulled Crouch's wand from his pocket and stared at it for a moment before tossing it far out into the grass away from the creatures. Crouch ran for it.
Another gunshot sounded through the night. Harry's eyes found Shane, standing there with his gun raised, the only person with a weapon.
"Get back! Everyone go grab a gun."
Harry moved away from the hoard toward him.
"That means you too, boy," he said, taking out another Walker with a well-placed shot. Harry looked down at the wand in his hand. He could help if he wanted to violate every rule in the book. As far as he knew, no one had seen the fight with Crouch. Though really he knew they probably had. Why else would they have been outside? Shane shoved him backwards toward the tents and RV. "I said get back. I'll deal with you later."
Harry looked over toward Crouch, still searching through the grass. No, that was the problem he needed to deal with now. With everyone else back at camp grabbing weapons and Shane otherwise occupied, Harry pointed his wand. He checked to make sure no one's eyes were on him and mumbled, "Incarcerous." He saw the rope hit its target.
Harry ran over to where the man was, ready to protect him if need be. He would deal with Crouch some other way.
"Who is this?" Rick asked, panting. "Friend of yours?"
"Not exactly," Harry said.
"Doesn't matter." Rick grabbed a handful of ropes and dragged Crouch back toward the camp, depositing him next to a tree near one of the closest tents. "Stay here," he said firmly before taking off back toward the barn.
But the creatures were no longer just at the barn. Harry watched the chaos unfold. People ran down from the house, some screaming things Harry couldn't hear. A blonde girl stepped in front of one of the creatures, as though she was protecting it. Harry saw the thing going for her, could see the trajectory of teeth to neck. He closed his eyes before it happened, but he couldn't escape the sound of her scream.
He opened them again. Flashes of gunfire lit up the night like Bonfire Night fireworks. Carol fell down on her knees in front of something smaller than the rest. Harry couldn't tell if something had gotten her or not. He tensed and turned instantly at footsteps coming up beside him, pointing his wand. But it was just Lori. Rick's wife. Carl's mother. He wondered if she already knew. She didn't even register the fact that he had pointed a stick at her. She looked on at the unfolding scene with her hand over her mouth, shaking her head.
Harry reached over and shook her. She turned to him as though she just realized he was there.
"Watch him," he said, looking down at Crouch. "I have to help."
She nodded and Harry ran back toward everything. He found Carol and the smaller Walker first. It didn't take him long to understand. The little girl they'd been looking for was here, locked in the ticking time bomb that was the barn. Someone had managed to shoot the corpse.
"Are you okay?" Harry asked, realizing it was a poor choice of words as soon as he said it. "Are you hurt?" She looked at him, sobbing. She shook her head and then opened her mouth to say something, her eyes on something behind him. Harry felt the breath of it on his cheek and smelled the stink. He ducked quickly and it stumbled forward, following him, away from Carol.
He could lead it.
"Come on, ugly," he said, walking away from her and the body of her daughter. "That's right. Come on." Harry led it back from everything a ways more before raising his wand.
"Incendio." The thing lit up like a human torch. Harry watched it burn, surveying the land around him. It seemed the worst was over now. The flames burned bright.
Harry jumped, turning to find someone standing next to him, someone still shirtless and wrapped in bandages, gripping a crossbow. Daryl chewed on his lip, his eyes moving from Harry, to the burning Walker, to Harry's wand.
"Guess you don't need my help," he said, shouldering the crossbow. Harry fidgeted, trying to think of how on earth he could possibly have this conversation.
"Don't." Daryl shook his head and walked away toward Carol. Harry watched him put his hand on her shoulder, kneeling down and half-holding her. She needed Daryl more right then than Harry needed to explain. And right now, Harry had other things to deal with.
He left the burning Walker, a pile of smoldering ash and bone now, and turned to walk back toward camp.