Mr Crouch's radicalism

Sirius tells Harry, Ron and Hermione the tale of Mr Crouch's downfall, and his son's arrest

Extract from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

by J.K. Rowling

‘D’you know Crouch, then?’ said Harry.

Sirius’ face darkened. He suddenly looked as menacing as the night when Harry had first met him, the night when Harry had still believed Sirius to be a murderer.

‘Oh, I know Crouch all right,’ he said quietly. ‘He was the one who gave the order for me to be sent to Azkaban – without a trial.’

‘What?’ said Ron and Hermione together.

‘You’re kidding!’ said Harry.

‘No, I’m not,’ said Sirius, taking another great bite of chicken. ‘Crouch used to be Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, didn’t you know?’

Harry, Ron and Hermione shook their heads.

‘He was tipped as the next Minister for Magic,’ said Sirius.

‘He’s a great wizard, Barty Crouch, powerfully magical – and power-hungry. Oh, never a Voldemort supporter,’ he said, reading the look on Harry’s face. ‘No, Barty Crouch was always very outspoken against the Dark side. But then a lot of people who were against the Dark side … well, you wouldn’t understand … you’re too young ...’

‘That’s what my dad said at the World Cup,’ said Ron, with a trace of irritation in his voice. ‘Try us, why don’t you?’

A grin flashed across Sirius’ thin face. ‘All right, I’ll try you ...’

He walked once up the cave, back again, and then said, ‘Imagine that Voldemort’s powerful now. You don’t know who his supporters are, you don’t know who’s working for him and who isn’t; you know he can control people so that they do terrible things without being able to stop themselves. You’re scared for yourself, and your family, and your friends. Every week, news comes of more deaths, more disappearances, more torturing … the Ministry of Magic’s in disarray, they don’t know what to do, they’re trying to keep everything hidden from the Muggles, but meanwhile, Muggles are dying too. Terror everywhere … panic … confusion … that’s how it used to be.

‘Well, times like that bring out the best in some people, and the worst in others. Crouch’s principles might’ve been good in the beginning – I wouldn’t know. He rose quickly through the Ministry, and he started ordering very harsh measures against Voldemort’s supporters. The Aurors were given new powers – powers to kill rather than capture, for instance. And I wasn’t the only one who was handed straight to the Dementors without trial. Crouch fought violence with violence, and authorised the use of the Unforgivable Curses against suspects. I would say he became as ruthless and cruel as many on the Dark side.

'He had his supporters, mind you – plenty of people thought he was going about things the right way, and there were a lot of witches and wizards clamouring for him to take over as Minister for Magic. When Voldemort disappeared, it looked like only a matter of time until Crouch got the top job. But then something rather unfortunate happened ...’ Sirius smiled grimly. ‘Crouch’s own son was caught with a group of Death Eaters who’d managed to talk their way out of Azkaban. Apparently they were trying to find Voldemort and return him to power.’

‘Crouch’s son was caught?’ gasped Hermione.

‘Yep,’ said Sirius, throwing his chicken bone to Buckbeak, and flinging himself back down on the ground beside the loaf of bread, and tearing it in half. ‘Nasty little shock for old Barty, I’d imagine. Should have spent a bit more time at home with his family, shouldn’t he? Ought to have left the office early once in a while … got to know his own son.’

He began to wolf down large pieces of bread.

‘Was his son a Death Eater?’ said Harry.

‘No idea,’ said Sirius, still stuffing down bread. ‘I was in Azkaban myself when he was brought in. This is mostly stuff I’ve found out since I got out. The boy was definitely caught in the company of people I’d bet my life were Death Eaters – but he might have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, just like the house-elf.’

‘Did Crouch try and get his son off?’ Hermione whispered.

Sirius let out a laugh that was much more like a bark.

‘Crouch let his son off? I thought you had the measure of him, Hermione? Anything that threatened to tarnish his reputation had to go, he had dedicated his whole life to becoming Minister for Magic. You saw him dismiss a devoted house-elf because she associated him with the Dark Mark again – doesn’t that tell you what he’s like? Crouch’s fatherly affection stretched just far enough to give his son a trial and, by all accounts, it wasn’t much more than an excuse for Crouch to show how much he hated the boy … then he sent him straight to Azkaban.’

‘He gave his own son to the Dementors?’ asked Harry quietly.

‘That’s right,’ said Sirius, and he didn’t look remotely amused now. ‘I saw the Dementors bringing him in, watched them through the bars in my cell door. He can’t have been more than nineteen. They took him into a cell near mine. He was screaming for his mother by nightfall. He went quiet after a few days, though … they all went quiet in the end … except when they shrieked in their sleep ...’

For a moment, the deadened look in Sirius’ eyes became more pronounced than ever, as though shutters had closed behind them.

‘So he’s still in Azkaban?’ Harry said.

‘No,’ said Sirius dully. ‘No, he’s not in there any more. He died about a year after they brought him in.’

‘He died?’

‘He wasn’t the only one,’ said Sirius bitterly. ‘Most go mad in there, and plenty stop eating in the end. They lose the will to live. You could always tell when a death was coming, because the Dementors could sense it, they got excited. That boy looked pretty sickly when he arrived. Crouch being an important Ministry member, he and his wife were allowed a deathbed visit. That was the last time I saw Barty Crouch, half carrying his wife past my cell. She died herself, apparently, shortly afterwards. Grief. Wasted away just like the boy.

'Crouch never came for his son’s body. The Dementors buried him outside the fortress, I watched them do it.’

Sirius threw aside the bread he had just lifted to his mouth, and instead picked up the flask of pumpkin juice and drained it.

‘So old Crouch lost it all, just when he thought he had it made,’ he continued, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. ‘One moment, a hero, poised to become Minister for Magic … next, his son dead, his wife dead, the family name dishonoured, and, so I’ve heard since I escaped, a big drop in popularity. Once the boy had died, people started feeling a bit more sympathetic towards him, and started asking how a nice young lad from a good family had gone so badly astray. The conclusion was that his father never cared much for him. So Cornelius Fudge got the top job, and Crouch was shunted sideways into the Department of International Magical Cooperation.’

There was a long silence.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

by J.K. Rowling