——now in this twilight, how dare you speak of grace.
he sees him first in second year; the kid with mousy brown hair and a withdrawn demeanour. barty struggles to place them until they’re called up to the sorting hat- they seem familiar, for some reason, and it’s when he hears the ‘bones’ that he realizes.
amelia’s brother, and suddenly it makes sense.
his curiousity is satisfied with that, the sudden interest gone as it appeared, and his gaze flickers away again, goes to other things.
he doesn’t think much of micah bones at all, not until years later.
he glances up, words already on his tongue but- micah is asleep, slumped over the table and head resting on his open book. barty stops, blinks a little. asleep. he studies too much, it shouldn’t be a surprise.
he wonders what the odd sensation twisting in his chest is.
he continues looking at micah for perhaps a moment beyond necessary- all the tight lines and drawn expressions that he realizes relax only in sleep. honestly, micah still looks a little bit stressed while sleeping.
he’s fond of micah, perhaps that is it; the warm, heavy thing that thuds in his chest when he looks at the boy. before he realizes it he’s already pulled micah’s inkwell away from him, is setting his things to the side.
after a moment, he sits back and continues reading.
it is a subtle kind of manipulation; all the ways he influences micah, all the ways micah influences him in return.
something subtle, something genuine, something slow. only he is affected in turn, a give and take that sometimes he thinks he gives too much to. possessiveness is nothing new for barty- possessiveness and the cold edge of distaste that now flavours his tongue when he looks at amelia and edgar bones. barty does not get attached. and this is not attachment.
(perhaps it is something else then, for fondness does not need attachment. neither does love.)
perhaps it’s only a wish to control micah. perhaps it’s simply easier for him to think of it that way.
he does not think micah would ever be controlled.
“have you heard of astragolai?”
micah doesn’t answer- is waiting, probably, for barty to continue with whatever he’s saying. his finger slides across the page, tracing the sketch of the knucklebones on the parchment. he doesn’t decide to test micah’s patience, and speaks without further pause. “the cast of the bones.”
“a pouch of knucklebones. you throw them and read the pattern they land in. the greeks used them for divination. children played it as a game.”
“the cast of the bones.” when he says it he thinks there’s some kind of irony in that, some kind of poetry. he wonders why his thoughts linger on it as they do, why his fingers trace the curve of a line when his gaze is no longer on the book.
“everything is fated.“
the name leaves his lips, wooden in the thin air. expressionless, inflectionless.
he isn’t surprised, somehow. but how could he be surprised. this is not unexpected after all, he had not thought of this and yet now they are here and… well, he was a fool for never taking this into account. he was a fool for not thinking this would happen.
and then he thinks that without speaking micah would still recognize him anyway, know who he was with or without the mask. his mouth opens again, the words are his own.
“get out of my way.” i’ll only say it once; this he does not add. this, he does not need to add. he already knows, bone deep and ichor thick in his blood, that there is only one path this can take.
there’s something numb in his bones, something cold in his limbs and when micah doesn’t move, he raises his wand.
there is only one path this can take, and he knows how it goes. he knows micah, knows all his weaknesses, knows all his strengths, knows all the little things that make him up. a spell lashes past his shoulder, he ignores the heat, ignores the blood. he knows micah, and he knows that physically the younger boy will always be the weak one.
all it takes is getting close enough and then micah is on the ground, he’s thrown his wand away and he slams the other’s head into a wall, once, twice- until he can feel the blood on his nails and micah is a boneless, slumped heap against the wall, blood on his temple and head cracked half open.
(and barty almost cannot stop, the monster in him has reared its ugly head, the blood wakens a thirst and he hungers to slake it, to not stop here but to take micah’s slim neck and snap– –patience, he thinks, control)
he struggles to his feet, pries micah’s wand from the boy’s limp hand. it’s easy to grab his own wand back from the ground where it’s fallen, easy to straighten and level it at the unconscious body before him.
there is nothing constricting his lungs, there is nothing clouding his mind- there is the mission and somehow emotion does not tie into it, somehow he can feel nothing, looking at the boy in front of him.
there are words on his tongue and he can feel them, pulsing with power and strong. he knows he will not hesitate.
his mouth opens. a syllable on his lips, falling into the air
and then it dies there, powerless, worth nothing.
micah, he thinks, with clarity. with confusion. this is micah, the boy who had looked barty in the eye and had called him friend, the one who smiled rarely and whose laughter he had only heard once, the boy barty had called his.
micah, and the words are still on his tongue, trapped there, dying.
there is a principle in alchemy, the core principle. it is this: do ut des.
i give so you may give. equal exchange. the common phrasing for it was this; quid pro quo. he thinks about it unwittingly, and then for a moment he thinks about all the things micah has given him, intentionally or unintentionally. he thinks of the things he’s given back.
there is no room for hesitation in war.
he does not hesitate.
micah is smiling just faintly. the expression tugs on his lips and looks so natural there that barty is almost surprised by it. but he is not surprised- or only a little. there is just a sensation in him, something warm suddenly, something that feels like contentment but heavier, something that makes his breath hold for a moment before he lets it out again as he looks at micah.
“what?” the other asks, and barty realizes in the same breath that he’s never seen micah smiling before.
he would not mind seeing that expression more. it is not an ugly expression, on micah’s face.
“i was thinking,” he murmurs, and leaves it at that.
when he’s home, his legs give out under him. he falls to his knees on the carpet and his hands are shaking, trembling, they spasm as they try to hold him up and then they give out too, until he’s shaking on the ground, nothing but a mess of himself. there’s ash on his fingertips and blood dried on his palms and he’s hyperventilating, he knows that, he can barely breathe even though he tries.
it’s alright. it’s alright. he does not realize he says it aloud. the minutes pass, his heart stutters to a slower beat.
it’s alright. sacrifices must be made. he’s made his choice. he’s made his choice.
he’s on his knees and he is a sinner praying, a sinner prostrating.
barty’s made his choice. his choice was made for him. all he can do now is stand by it.
here is what you should know about barty crouch: he is loyal, he will only ever know loyalty to a person, to people. he will only ever know loyalty to those who live and breathe with blood in their veins and colour under their skin and life beating fast in their heart.
that is important.
they recover the bodies- barely bodies. burned beyond recognition, burned beyond any kind of identification. they figure out who is who from the relative heights- it’s the only thing they have left to go on, alongside bone structure, and his mother falls to her knees and weeps.
on the day of the funeral, it is raining.
barty does not attend.
in darkness, a boy wakes.
barty glances up at the rustle of motion, fingers slipping a bookmark into the book in his lap. he closes it with a soft thud, places it on the table at the side.
“good morning,” he murmurs, and smiles a crooked, unreadable smile. “your funeral was last wednesday.”