Chapter II : Mad-Eye Moody Returns
The entire Harry Potter universe belongs to J. K. Rowling. Any original characters
belong to the author and may not be used without permission.
Alastor Moody waited an hour before
deciding that, if he was to going do anymore of this, it might as well be on
Planting both gnarled hands onto the
armrests, he pushed himself out his cushy chair and made for the door. The antechamber
McGonagall led him into was a comfortable enough place to rest, but to Moody
a period of inactivity was more tiring than work. His feet itched to explore.
His eyes sought to examine every nook and cranny of the building for any sign
of the enemy. In other words, he thought as he flung open the door, I need to
do my job.
Students passing by leaped away from
him as he entered the hall. He looked about at their shocked faces. Dont
worry, he said, you havent met me before. He
hobbled away, his peg-leg trailing staccato clunks on the stone floor.
Moody spent the next hour briskly patrolling the halls, his magical
eye taking everything in. He treasured this tool, the eye. To his sight, the
thickest walls seemed like fine spring mist, and even the invisible merely looked
dim. He peered into classrooms and offices, desks and bags. Magical items glowed
slightly, and hidden doors stood out from the walls.
When someone got too close, he even
looked through their clothing for hidden weapons. Not that he took pleasure
from the practice; one just cannot be too sure. Once, back in the spring of
76, he was attacked by a little girl put under the Imperius curse. He
sometimes remembered her and her subsequent rescue on cold days, when the scar
from her switchblade would pain him. That gave him his most valuable lessonanyone
could be one of them.
He paused to examine yet another secret
door behind a painting. Noting the cobwebs and dust on the other side, he decided
that no one had used it for some time. He stored an image of the door in his
eye for future reference, then gazed at the painting itself. It was a landscape
of a tranquil forest, complete with moving animals. Moss and fir lay scattered
in the duff, and the deep shadows of leaves mottled the clear little brook that
flowed down the middle of the painting.
As he watched a doe stop to drink,
he reflected that there used to be at time when his life was not so harried.
Why, just two years ago he had been living the quiet life of a retiree, off
in the countryside. The Ministry had decided that, in peacetime, he deserved
something after all his trouble. He had been given a pension and a quiet little
shack in an undisclosed place near the woods, where it smelled of summer all
He turned away from the painting and
trudged on. He could no longer recall that smell, and he would not be back there
to relish it again. Two years ago, he had been kidnapped from his house and
put into a dreamless sleep in his own strong box, while a Death Eater impersonated
him using Polyjuice Potion. His wooden leg had been taken from him, and so had
his eye. Moody gritted his teeth at the memory. It had been a near-disaster
for Harry Potter, and would have been an ignoble end for the most capable, most
feared Auror in all of Britain.
And now? Except for Dumbledore, everyone
thought of Moody in the past tense. Even in the Order, he was relegated to mundane
tasks. They were not unkind, but they had their kid-gloves snugly on.
All because he got a little careless.
All because he enjoyed the peace a little too much.
Whatever happened your Constant
Vigilance, eh, Mad-eye? said a mocking voice inside him. Gotten
old, havent you? Well, now you can practice your Constant Vigilance all
you like, playing watchdog at Headquarters.
Now Voldemort had returned. Moody
knew he was never going to go back to retirement.
Not that hed want to, actually.
His face twisted into something halfway
between a grin and a grimace. A girl passing by saw him and instantly shrank
against the wall, spilling the books in her arms. As he stalked past her, he
wondered for the thousandth time if they did that because he looked fearsome,
or because they still thought he was a Death Eater in disguise. What does
it matter as long as theyre watching out for themselves? the voice
started up again. Constant vigilance, eh Moody? Are those the watchwords
of the day?
He was jolted out of his brooding
by the patter of running feet behind him. He went for his wand and spun about
with a cry, jabbing it at a breathless boy who had just run up to him. The boy
stopped in his tracks and threw both hands over his head. Dont zap
me! Im unarmed! he cried.
After checking him over, Moody snarled
and put away his wand. Dont go running up behind me like that! I
couldve turned you into a newt, by Merlin!
The boy gazed up at him with wide
eyes. Wow, really? McGonagall never taught us that in Transfiguration.
That would be something to see! Hows it done?
Moody stared at him for a minute.
Whats your name, boy?
Er, Creevy, sir. Dennis Creevy.
Yes! Howd you know?
Moody pocketed his wand. Lucky
guess. In any case, Id rather not turn you into a newt, Mr. Creevy, seeing
youve the brains of one already. Put your hands down and say what you
have to say!
Oh. Right. He dropped
his hands and said, Um, Professor McGonagall asked me to find you. She
wanted me to tell you the Headmaster will see you now.
Ah, thought Moody, straightening.
Dumbledore. Now he would know what all this is about. Very well,
he said, and started to walk away.
The boy scuttled after him. Er,
not that way sir.
Moody whirled about, slapping the
boy with his heavy cloak. What are you talking about? His office is this
way, is it not?
Hes not in his office,
sir. Hes waiting for you in the garden near the Whomping Willow. This
way. He pointed and started walking.
Moody wondered at what Dumbledore
might be thinking. The garden? Out in the open?
The boy stopped and turned around.
Yes, yes, said Moody.
As he picked up after Dennis, he muttered, What in the world is he doing
in the garden?
Overhearing him, Dennis said, Feeding
the fishes, sir.
The late morning sun flashed on the
Headmasters milky-white hair as he stood quietly by the pond. Moody could
easily see him from the glass double doors leading into the garden. Dumbledore
casually tossed fishfood from a bowl in his hands. To his left, near the hedges,
was a table bearing a tea set and a plate piled up with biscuits. Moody gritted
his teeth as he opened the doors and shambled towards Dumbledore. He had come
all the way out here to discuss tactics, not make social calls!
Dumbledore turned at Moodys
approach. He greeted him with a warm smile and extended his hand. Alastor,
old friend! Its been a while.
Moody shook hands quickly. Greetings,
Professor. I see you are well. I have news.
So it seems, replied Dumbledore.
He gestured to the table. Please, make yourself comfortable.
Moody reached into the one of the
deep pockets of his coat and retrieved a roll of parchment. Here is the
summary report from the Front. Also, my report on the Ministrys activities.
To his chagrin, Dumbledore accepted
the parchment and slipped it in his pocket without so much as a glance. Thank
you, Alastor. I will take a look at this. Now, would you care for some refreshments?
Im afraid I cant
stay long. I have a lot of work these days in the Order, what with all thats
Surely you can spare a moment.
Youve come a long way, and I have made you wait. Let me make it up to
you first. Perhaps, a batch of freshly baked rum biscuits will be an adequate
Theres no need to apologize.
Ive kept busy, anyhow, growled Moody. Then he paused, his magical
eye swivelling to the table. Rum biscuits, eh?
Dumbledore smiled encouragingly. Poppys
best, you know. I asked her to make us a batch early this morning.
Well, said Moody, I
believe I can spare some time. He allowed Dumbledore to steer him to a
Now then, said Dumbledore
as he put down the bowl and sat across from Moody, I was just going through
my things this morning when . . . what do I find at the bottom of my drawer?
He pulled out a small red box from his pocket. Moody saw it glow blue, and instantly
Ah, he thought. So this WAS going
to be a secret meeting.
He satisfied himself with a biscuit
as Dumbledore tapped the playing cards out of the box. I thought I had
lost my favorite Tokah deck, but there it was! Quite a pleasant surprise. How
about a few rounds of Choose-and-Pass, Alastor?
Moody smiled thinly. I believe
I still remember the rules. He helped himself to another biscuit as Dumbledore
shuffled the deck and dealt him a hand.
They said nothing as they raised their
cards and examined them thoroughly. A few seconds later, Dumbledore began the
game by laying a card face-down onto the table. A fine morning were
having. Lovely weather this week, isnt it?
Quite, Moody grunted.
He picked up the card and put it in his hand. There were tiny words inscribed
-I hope you dont mind the
arrangements I made for our meeting. I know it is a bit too informal for your
After he had read them, the words
faded from view. Moody formed a reply in his head and concentrated on one of
his own cards. His thoughts were imprinted onto the face.
-I dont mind, but wouldnt
your office be more secure? The garden is far too open.-
He put the card down onto the table.
Dumbledore leisurely picked it up, chose one of his own, and passed it. They
kept at this while faking small-talk.
-I have a number of reasons. I
wanted us to look as nonchalant as possible. You finished what you came to do.
Now were just two foolish old men wasting time, playing games. You see,
I believe theres a spy in Hogwarts.-
Moodys thin smile returned,
this time with a predatory glint to it. -Any idea who it is?-
-Give me a week and it will be
taken care of.-
Dumbledore was quick to reply. -I
thank you, Alastor, but thats not part of my plan. For now, let us leave
the spy alone. Perhaps there will be some use for it later. I have a different
task in mind for you.-
Moody scratched his chin as he replied.
-Lets hear it then.-
-Remember your tenure as a bodyguard
for former Minister Woodworth?-
-I do. No less than 23 attempts
on his life in the 1960s. Couldnt take a walk down the street without
a bloody army guarding his backside. I still have the burn marks when I took
a shot for him in the Diagon incident. Those were the days. Well, you have someone
in mind now?-
-First, please tell me if someones
Moody reached into another coat pocket
and fished out what looked like a pocket watch. He laid on the table and opened
it. Instead of a clocks face, inside was round mirror. It was a piece
of his Foe-Glass, a device he used to spot nearby enemies. Right now, there
was nothing on the glass but a grey haze. Satisfied, Moody put down another
Dumbledore nodded and passed his own
Moody raised one scraggy eyebrow.
-Hes going on a journey,
Alastor. Hes going to look for something vital to us. I cannot tell you
the specifics yet, only that he needs to be protected. So, I was hoping youre
not as busy with the Order as you say
Moody snorted. He slapped his next
card onto the table.
-Those snot-nosed brats might as
well keep me tethered at the door! Wet behind the bloody ears, the whole lot
of them! But what do they make me do all day? Stand guard like a common watch
dog! I should be out there in the Front, hunting down Death Eaters like the
bloodhound I was made to be.-
I spent all the good years of my life
that way, he added in his thoughts. Why not the last ones?
Dumbledore stroked his beard, then
gently lay a card down. -I understand how you feel, my friend. Perhaps you
will be more in your element with this task. If you accept it, of course.-
-Ill do it if it gets me
out of Headquarters. How long a journey are we looking at?-
-A maximum of two weeks. You are
scheduled to leave six days from now, next Wednesday. Also, to prevent any run-ins
with the Ministry, youll have to travel by PortKey.-
-I have other security measures
for Harry that will ensure utmost secrecy. I will show these to you later, but
this mission may still to be considerably life-threatening.-
-Excellent. Ill need a team
of four, preferrably from the Aurors on our side.-
Moody could tell by the way Dumbledore
set his mouth that not only was he going to be turned down, what he was going
to be told may well be unpleasant.
-Im afraid five bodyguards
will catch too much attention. I dont want the Death Eaters getting the
slightest idea on what were up to. As such, two bodyguards would be ideal.-
-So, you already have someone in
-I do. I was hoping you could work
with young Daniel once more.-
Moody coughed and spat into the
cup he had been sipping from. He fixed both eyes upon the Headmaster.
-You absolutely cannot mean what
you just said!-
There was a hint of humor on the Headmasters
face as he replied, -I always mean what I say, Alastor.-
Moody fought to keep his face straight.
-But . . . Daniel? Why him?-
-I have my reasons. Chief of these
is that he is unobtrusive.-
Moody snorted. -The Caracal?
-I mean he wont catch Voldemorts
attention,- Dumbledore clarified. -You must agree that everyone in both
the Ministry and the Order is a marked man. If a number of us go missing for
some time, people will start asking questions. And what if the wrong people
start asking the right questions? We both know that Voldemort keeps his ear
to the ground. This makes someone like Daniel ideal. Voldemort wont anticipate
-That sounds well and good, but
lets not forget that boys temperament! Hes a cudgel, not a
blade! You might as well have asked your Whomping Willow to knit you a sweater!-
Dumbledore took a sip from his cup
before forming a reply. -From what I have seen of his performance in the
past, Daniel has handled himself quite capably. I see no danger in putting my
trust in him. Besides which, you will be there to guide him, just as you were
there last time.-
-Of course I was there last time!
Why do you think I retired afterwards?-
-Come, come, Alastor. I assure
you that you both worked very well together. Didnt you once say that a
team draws strength from variety? And you must admit, Daniels skills are
quite useful. He could have worked for the Order, even the Ministry somehow,
if he so wanted.-
Moodys face turned blank. He
lowered his hand after he passed another card.
-The boy distrusts Aurors. He hates
anything connected to the Ministry. He wont have anything to do with Hogwarts.
You were lucky to get him the first time. What makes you think you can do it
Dumbledore traced the outline of his
chin with a finger. -Ill have to talk to him later. I am confident
he will agree. If he balks, I can think of a few things I can offer him.-
-Youre really going through
with this, arent you.-
Dumbledore looked at him soberly.
-Only if you are.-
Neither of them moved for a few moments.
Then Moody swiftly put a card down.
Dumbledore wrote back, -How long
before you can come to a decision?-
-I dont mean it like that.
I see something on my Foe-Glass.-
Moody relaxed his shoulders and lifted
the cards to his face, but kept his magical eye trained at the hazy figure that
had surfaced on his device. Across from him, Dumbledore scratched his head and
pretended to be stumped for his next move.
The figure in the Foe-glass seemed
like part of the grey mist, only darker and vaguely man-shaped. Moody pretended
to yawn but kept staring at it, daring it to approach. It came to the brink
of being discernable, but faded away as suddenly as it had come.
A card slid towards Moody.
Moodys eye swiveled towards
Dumbledore. -Your pests here are slippery. Took off before I could get a
good look. Good intuition on that one.-
-I suppose well just have
to be on our guard. In any case, the spy wont learn anything I wont
want Voldemort to learn.-
-Playing it close, I see. Just
like in the old days.-
-Yes, those were the days.-
They both sipped their tea in silence.
It was several long minutes before Moody passed another card. -You really
believe we can pull this whole thing off?-
Dumbledore merely smiled. -You
two have my utmost faith.-
-I wonder about that. I thought
you wanted to be a bloodhound.-
-Youre a sneaky git. I swear
Ill never play cards with you again!-
Dumbledore chuckled. -We have a
deal then. You will be well rewarded, Alastor. And Daniel too.-
Moody returned a weary sigh. -I
dont believe Im actually going through with this.-
I just dont
believe it! cried Ron. Harry heaved a weary sigh. As he had thought, this
was going to be nowhere near easy.
As per Dumbledores
instructions, he had brought both Ron and Hermione to the Headmasters
office to explain to them what he had to do. Both his best friends were more
than surprised when they saw Harry had been given access to Dumbledores
quarters, or that he knew how to operate its Security charms. They were apprehensive
as well. It could only mean something big was going on.
At the moment,
the Headmaster was not around, having opted to give Harry some privacy for this
task. He had his friends sit on the comfortable chairs in front of the oak desk,
sat down on another chairand proceeded to tell them he was going away.
Neither one had
taken the news well.
cant believe youve just agreed to leave for two weeks! Ron
said. Two weeks away from Hogwarts! Two weeks away from
And youre not even going to tell us why?
Across him, Hermione
sat staring at Harry, a frown tugging at her brows. No, she didnt like
this any more than Ron did, but Harry had to explain to them that this had to
be done. Hopefully without a prolonged argument.
said Harry, Dumbledore has some very good reasons why he wants it this
way. This entire mission must be kept secret. Id like to tell you where
Im going and why, but I cant.
not? Its not like I cant keep secrets!
told you. There are security reasons
never stopped you before, Harry. Or dont you remember the Philosophers
Stone? How about flying a Ford Anglia? And taking stuff from Snapes quarters?
For Gods sakes Harry, we all know who your godfather is! How can you say
we cant keep secrets?
not saying that! It's just that things are different this time!
way? I dont see how you can leave us out of this. I dont even understand
why you agreed to do something like this without talking to us about it first!
Harry felt an
irrational stab of guilt even as he retorted, Because its supposed
to be a secret! Of course I cant talk to you about it first!
know that! Im saying that it never stopped you before!
be too dangerous for either of you to know!
Ron threw up his
hands. What, you dont trust us? Is that it?
Harry felt all
too grateful when Hermione reached out for Rons arm. Calm down,
will you? Just calm down. Were going around in circles. And you know thats
not what Harry meant. Ron looked at her, and fell quiet for the moment.
Hermione said, does it have really have to be you? Surely Dumbledore can
send someone else to do whatever is necessary
Harry shook his
head. No, not this time. Sorry, Hermione.
could be so important that
She stopped when Harry shook his head.
He would tell her nothing further.
Ron spoke up.
Fine. Dont tell us why you have to go. Dont even say where.
I wont ask any questions. But were coming with you.
fell open. RonNo!
you mean, no? Why not? Too dangerous, is it?
its dangerous, but thats not
expecting us to sit on our bums here and do nothing while You-Know-Who hunts
you down out there? Forget it! Were going!
stop and listen for a minute! In the first place, it isnt safe for us
to go together! Everyone knows who we are and theyre bound to notice if
weve left Hogwarts. When Voldemort finds out about it were finished,
and so is the mission.
Ron seemed so
worked up he didnt even flinch at the Dark Lords name. He put his
fists on top of his knees and tried to control himself. So youre
going out there by yourself?
not going alone, replied Harry. Dumbledore said Ill have two
up. Who? Sirius? Remus?
hasnt told me yet, Harry said. He hoped it would be them.
gotta be Sirius and Remus. Im sure then theyll let us come,
said Ron hastily. Besides, itll be safer if you have more people
his teeth. Now was not the time for Ron to actually be logical. It wont
work that way. I already told you!
told me nothing since the minute you dragged us up here! You wont say
where youre going or why! I dont know why you feel you cant
tell us why youre risking your life again
cant tell you because I cant.
mean you wont.
his eyes. Whats that supposed to mean?
Ron stared stonily
at him. It means exactly what it means.
The two said nothing.
Harry grappled for a retort, but Hermione cut in before he could do any damage.
Harry, maybe itll be easier if you tell us what Dumbledore had in
mind when he said we could help.
Harry turned away
from Ron. Yeah, fine, he muttered. He ran his hand through his hair,
as if to clear his thoughts.
has all sorts of precautions to make sure the whole things a secret. In
fact, he wants to make sure no one knows Ive left.
Ron snorted. Just
howre the two of you going to manage that?
Harry drew in
a breath before answering. Hes going to build a homunculus.
eyes widening. Harry! Is he really
Ron turned to
her, Whats he talking about?
read about those things in Amulets, Artifacts and other Arcana,
Hermione said. A homunculus is an
artificial human brought to life by magic! Its a lot like a golem, only
it looks exactly like a human being. It will be able to talk, think and act
independently from its creators just like any ordinary person.
Ron frowned and
scratched an eyebrow. You mean its alive?
really alive. Its just pretending to be. She turned to Harry. Youre
saying that Dumbledores going to make a homunculus that looks just like
says theres a way to make it behave like me. It will be my decoy. If everything
works out, no one will ever suspect that Ive ever left. He paused,
relishing the brilliance of Dumbledores plan. Not even Voldemort.
brows furrowed once more. But wont Dumbledore get into trouble if
the Ministry finds out? The homunculus will be an unlicensed magical construct
why were going to keep the whole thing to ourselves. Aside from Dumbledore,
only me, you and my bodyguards will know.
gazed at him suspiciously. It seemed he had an idea of what was up ahead. And
what are we supposed to do with
this look-alike of yours, Harry?
his gaze stoically. I dont know yet. Dumbledore will explain later
on. I just need your pledge that youll help later.
again! Ron bolted out of his seat. I can see where this is going!
Youre asking me to live with this...thing
that looks likes you and talks like you, but isnt even alive? Youre
asking me to pretend hes you? Are you out of your mind?
be out of my mind if I dont go through with this! Harry shouted,
rising out of his seat. I have one chance, one chance to bring Voldemort
down! You think Id waste it? You think Id jeopardize it? I dont
care if it means leaving Hogwarts for two weeks or two years. I dont care
if its dangerous. I dont care even if I have to do it alone. Im
taking this chance. And you can either help me or get out of my way!
Silence fell in
the darkened room, but Harry could hear only his own heavy breathing. He turned
away from Rons hardened expression and walked to the side of Dumbledores
tried to explain it to you, he said. This is how its going
to be: tomorrow evening, Professor Dumbledore is going to have another meeting
here. Im going, and Im asking you both to come too. You have to
decide if youre going to help out or not. The new password will be Fiddlesticks.
If youre here by seven oclock, then youre helping us. If youre
not, then youre not.
Ron had not taken
his eyes away from him for one moment.
Im just going to go along with whatever you say, dont you.
Before Harry could
reply, Ron turned and stalked towards the door. He slammed it shut behind him
as he left.
With a sigh, Harry
turned off the Security charms and leaned against the desk. He looked at Hermione,
who had been watching him intently.
Granger, are you going to start taking points off because Ive been keeping
secrets from you?
She shook her
head. I understand where youre coming from, Harry.
He watched her
for a moment, then remarked, Its kind of funny.
tried to stop us from arguing. That isnt like you. You always used to
get between us one way or another. Like stamp your feet, or shout, or smack
Ron on the head.
She just shrugged
and smiled a little. Sometimes you have to just let people get things
off their chest. Ron has wanted to let you know some things for a while now.
He just didnt know how to say it.
what she meant. He tried to review some of Rons words, but was too angry
to think straight at the moment. There would be time to sift through them later.
He said, Hey,
dont you think he over-reacted over my leaving for just a couple of weeks?
trivialize it, Harry, she said. In case youve forgotten, weve
known each other for six years. Thats six years worth of studying together,
having meals together, going on trips, getting in trouble. Weve shared
life and sometimes weve very nearly shared death. And now youre
going off alone.
be alone, Hermione. Dumbledore said
know what Dumbledore said. What I meant was, whenever something difficult came
along, its always been the three of us. Since first year, it was always
She watched her
hands for a minute, trying to find the words. I was thinking, since the
day Ron and I
got together, youve been mostly by yourself. I dont
think that was fair to you. We sort of left you alone
dont. We all waited ages for you guys to come clean, and
She waved him
off. I know
but it didnt help the fact that you were becoming
more distant, Harry. I saw it happening. Youd sometimes get quiet and
brooding, and then youd go off alone. I guess you thought you could hide
it, but we knew you too well. We worried about you, but it was difficult to
reach you. It only got worse when you had nightmares. But you wouldnt
talk. Well, it was partly our fault. We shouldve kept trying.
I know youre doing this because Dumbledore asked you to and it has to
be just you. But you know what? Before today, Ive never seen you keep
something so secret from either Ron or me. Ive never seen you fight so
hard to keep the both of us out. I think Ron sees this too, thats why
he got so mad. Thats why he said those things. Its like you WANT
to do this alone, Harry. You want to do this alone and that scares me, it really
does. So I want to know why.
She gazed at him beseechingly.
his eyes to the floor. The guilt came again, stronger this time. He fought it
down and said,
I just dont want either of you to get hurt.
Thats all. But the words felt too heavy, the way they felt whenever
at him for a while, then said, What about Ginny?
slightly. When he looked up, his face was blank. What about Ginny?
you tell her what youve told us? And that youre going away?
question hung in the air. Part of Harry resented her for reminding himhe
had already succeeded in pushing the question away into some dark corner of
his mind, as if it would somehow answer itself. It hadnt. Now he
was the one cornered. And he had no words.
Finally, he replied,
I dont think I should. Its not part of the plan.
She returned his
even gaze, disappointment in her eyes. No, of course its not. Its
not in YOUR plan. She sighed in a way that said, at least consider
it. Ill see if I can turn Ron around. I cant promise
you anything about him, but Ill be here tomorrow night. She turned
and left the room.
Harry stayed there
at the table for a long minute, not thinking, not seeing. Then he slowly made
his way to the chair beside him. He pulled of his glasses and sank into the
seat, head lolling back, arms on the rests, eyes falling shut.
He waited for