Harry Potter and the Secret Treasures - H.P.S.T Chapter 669: Mr. Crouch is Mad
“Harry, what is it?”
Harry put his finger against his lips, staring at the place where he had seen movement.
He slipped his hand inside, reaching for his wand. He was sure there was someone there!
Someone was following them, who was it?!
There was a weird silence in the woods, with only the sound of the night wind.
“God, look at that!” Ron snapped, pointing to the opposite side.
Harry and Hermione hurriedly looked back and saw a man suddenly stagger out from behind a tall oak.
The atmosphere was tense, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione did not recognize him at first…
Then they realized it was Mr. Crouch.
He looked as though he had been wandering for days. The knees of his robes were ripped and bloody, his face scratched; he was unshaven and gray with exhaustion. His neat hair and mustache were both in need of a wash and a trim.
He looked strange, but strangest was his behavior. Mr. Crouch seemed to be talking to someone that he alone could see. He kept muttering and gesticulating.
As soon as Harry saw him, he remembered an old tramp he had seen when he went shopping with the Dursleys.
That man too had been conversing wildly with thin air. Aunt Petunia had seized Dudley’s hand and pulled him across the road to avoid him. Uncle Vernon had then treated the family to a long rant about what he would like to do with beggars and vagrants.
“God, it’s Mr. Crouch, what’s going on?” Hermione panicked.
“He seems to be out of his mind!” Ron looked at him in horror.
“Be careful!” Harry shouted, pointing his wand at Mr. Crouch.
He had no time to think about why the voice he had just heard was in the opposite direction of Crouch, but felt the danger inexplicably.
He hesitated for a moment, and then walked slowly toward Mr. Crouch, who did not look at him, but continued to talk to a nearby tree.
“… and when you’ve done that, Weatherby, send an owl to Dumbledore confirming the number of Durmstrang students who will be attending the tournament, Karkaroff has just sent a word there will be twelve…”
“Mr. Crouch?!” said Harry.
“… and then send another owl to Madame Maxime, because she might want to up the number of students she’s bringing, now Karkaroff’s made it a round dozen … do that, Weatherby, will you? Will you? Will…”
Mr. Crouch’s eyes were bulging. He stood staring at the tree, muttering soundlessly at it. Then he staggered sideways and fell to his knees.
“Mr. Crouch?” Harry said loudly. “Are you all right?”
Crouch’s eyes were rolling in his head, and he looked at the three of them with horrible eyes.
“Guys, we’d better hurry to get someone!” said Ron, looking at Crouch in horror.
“Dumbledore!” gasped Mr. Crouch. He reached out and seized a handful of Harry’s robes, dragging him closer, though his eyes were staring over Harry’s head. “I need to see Dumb … Dumbledore…”
“Okay,” said Harry, “if you get up, Mr. Crouch, we can go up to the…”
“I’ve done a stupid thing…” Crouch breathed. He looked utterly mad. His eyes were rolling and bulging, and a trickle of spittle was sliding down his chin. “Must tell Dumbledore… must tell him!”
Mr. Crouch’s eyes rolled forward onto Harry.
“You … who are you?” he said with a vigilance in his tone, “Where did I see you?”
“I am a student at Hogwarts School,” said Harry, looking around at Hermione and Ron.
“Mr. Crouch, this is Harry Potter, and I am…” Hermione came over to hold Crouch.
“Harry Potter!” said Crouch softly. “You are the child. Here is Hogwarts. You are Dumbledore’s. Go and warn him…”
Crouch was pulling him closer, and Harry tried to loosen Crouch’s grip on his robes, but it was too powerful.
“Warn Dumbledore… tell him…”
“I’ll get Dumbledore if you let go of me,” said Harry. “Just let go, Mr. Crouch, and I’ll get him!”
“Thank you, Weatherby, and when you have done that, I would like a cup of tea. My wife and son will be arriving shortly; we are attending a concert tonight with Mr. and Mrs. Fudge.”
Crouch suddenly let go of Harry and Hermione and began to talk to a tree again.
He seemed to have forgotten them all at once and entered a strange state of madness.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione looked at one another uneasily, and there was only a heavy breathing in the woods.
“Yes, my son has recently gained 12 O.W.L.s, most satisfactory, yes, thank you, yes, very proud indeed. Now, if you can bring me that memo from the Andorran Minister of Magic, I think I will have time to draft a response…”
“He is mad!” said Ron, staring down at Crouch, who was still gabbling to the tree, apparently convinced it was Percy.
“Yeah!” Harry quickly made up his mind, “Just stay with him, I’ll go back to get Dumbledore!”
Harry started to get up and leave, but his movement seemed to trigger another abrupt change in Mr. Crouch, who seized him hard around the knees and pulled Harry back to the ground.
“Don’t leave me, Harry Potter!” He whispered, his eyes bulging again. “I escaped… their guards suddenly relaxed… I took the opportunity to escape, I must warn… must tell… see Dumbledore… my fault… my fault… all my fault… my son… my fault… tell Dumbledore… Harry Potter… the Dark Lord is stronger! Hurry up, Harry Potter… “
“The Dark Lord?!” Harry froze for a moment. “If you let go of me, I’ll get Dumbledore, Mr. Crouch!”
With the help of Ron and Hermione, he tried his best to pull himself free of Mr. Crouch.
“Just keep him here,” said Harry quickly. “I’ll be back with Dumbledore.”
“You’d better hurry!” Ron shouted. “We can’t hold on for long.”
Ron looked uneasily at Crouch, who went again into a state of madness.
Harry sprinted away from the forest and up through the dark grounds.
The sky had completely darkened and there was no one on the field.
Professor Moody, who was standing by the lake, was no longer there. Harry did not think about it and he ran to the castle with all his strength.
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