[identity profile] spindleform.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] bait_backup
*The crack of a house elf's apparation is louder and sharper than that of a man's, but there is little that can wake Barty once he has finally given in to sleep, so Regulus has risked it. Kreacher's bare feet whisper across the crumb-filled carpet, and his huge drooping ears pick up the gentle wheeze of Barty's breathing coming from the darkened master bedroom. Just as Regulus had described, the paintings hang on the livingroom wall in a crooked row, none at the same height as the other but still close enough to seem as though they were intended to be organized. Their colourful, surrealistic displays, painted by muggleborns and sympathizers, had fetched a gracious donation at their filthy little attempt at an auction. They had turned Barty into an impulsive supporter and Regulus into an unwitting, non-consenting benefactor, a wrong Kreacher is more than willing to right.

With practised hands, Kreacher pushes a chair to the wall to stand on without making a single sound. He is quite used to hanging and retiring artwork from the walls of Grimmauld Place when instructed, and he has never been heard or seen doing so. These, however, gleam unmovingly out at him like an insult in the dark, and he mutters to himself as he tries to lift the first one from the wall. The allowance arranged for Barty every month is beyond the generosity and well beyond the means of most. Still, even to his Master, to whom money is perhaps the one thing that has not worried him in his young lifetime, Barty's spur of the moment splurge had seemed beyond excessive.

Kreacher has never spoken of it of course, there is no situation he can devise in which it would be his place to comment on the strange nature of his Master's dear friend. It is an elf's duty and privilege to know the deepest joys and fears of the wizards he serves, and the Crouch boy is both of those things to Master Regulus'. But Kreacher has packed Barty's bags enough times to see the disturbing amount of his things that are not of wizarding origin. It's an opinion he would never dare to voice, that a boy of such a decent enough background, who sleeps and eats and laughs so often in their home and to whom the doors are never locked, is a bit of a reckless fool to not understand the wrong he has done by exposing the Blacks to terrible dangers like these paintings. The threat of lingering bacteria clinging to canvas and frame had sent Master Regulus close to a fainting fit, but Kreacher had managed to soothe him, as he often can, and providing Barty stays asleep he will have them disposed of soon enough.

He stands on his toes, and breathes through his mouth, mistakenly thinking any potential airborne spores that might be about would be carried by smell alone. The second frame is heavier than the first, and Kreacher has just begun to heft it off it's hook when a faint flash of blue stops him in his tracks. Sometimes, when the family has been all attended to and the night's cleaning is almost over, automobile's lights streak across the front rooms of Grimmauld place. This light, however, is magical, and that's clear as day to Kreacher. As he stares toward that corner of the room, still holding the picture frame, the light appears again. It pulses slowly, with great pause between each flash, some silent alarm from a spell no one would cast upon their own home. Kreacher's mouth-breathing seems incredibly loud as he watches, suddenly alert and protective of the misguided Crouch boy almost as though it was Master Regulus at stake and not only his friend. He has seen many charms, wards, and curses in his time, and he knows more than enough about wizarding magic that he is halfway through abandoning the painting back on the wall when it comes.

It's softer than Kreacher's appearance had been, a pop so controlled and quiet it could have been from the smack of chewing gum, but tall man's silhouette apparates not six feet from Kreacher in the wake of the next blue flash. Then come more, joining the first, until three unwelcome guests crowd the modest, cluttered little livingroom, each of them in uniform. They do not light their wands, nor seem to notice or care as the house elf's beady eyes watch them from the dark. The flashes had summoned them for something, had let them know some coast was clear, and Kreacher - for all his respectful subservience - knows more about Barty Crouch than almost anyone in the world. He has nursed him through comatose grief, overheard his thoughts on everything from jam to politics, packed and unpacked his school trunk since he had first come to visit Master Regulus, and been ordered to scour newspapers to watch for any word of the Crouch family. He's seen the blackened flesh come into painful focus on both boy's arms and rinsed blood from Barty's weightless black robes.

The men are talking amongst themselves in hushed tones and clipped, dangerously trained words, but Kreacher is not an elf who cannot see what needs to be done without being ordered to help. He leaves the paintings behind, slips off the chair, and darts soundlessly into the bedroom to shake his Master's one true friend from his sleep before his attackers decide to themselves.*

Date: 2011-09-11 10:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mad-actually.livejournal.com
*Kreacher's small, urgent hand delves through layers of thick clouds and knitted jungle. It curves past the ravaged ruins that funnel upwards impossibly, heaving through half-rendered dream architecture and hazy non-linear treasure hunting. Barty's face crumples in the torchlight and then it crumples against his pillow.*

Date: 2011-09-11 11:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mad-actually.livejournal.com
*Barty's eyes remain stubbornly closed and he makes a slumberous effort to pull his shoulder away without moving the rest of him - feats of anatomical impossibility seeming all too reasonable half-way into unconsciousness.*

Date: 2011-09-29 10:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mad-actually.livejournal.com
*Much like Regulus Black's expensive suits, his equally expensive rug is itchy and too firm. Thousands of weaved, fabric cacti poking up into the freckly sky of his cheek. There's expectation now - he can feel it. Expectation to leap up like a jack-in-the-box and make wild-eyed demands. In spite of it - or more accurately because of it - Barty pulls his stowaway blanket around himself and buries his face into the patterned desert below, stubbornly silent and unmoving.*

Date: 2011-10-01 11:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mad-actually.livejournal.com
*Slowly, very slowly, Barty straightens out his legs and lowers his hindquarters until he's flat against the ground, bare feet escaping the edge of his blanket. His face is still firmly pressed into the rug, messy fringe splayed outwards around him like spilled straw. There's a weight of humour to it, something strange and comforting and whimsical - and it's the comedy of Barty's interrupted sleep that seems to rob Kreacher's reply of its substance. It sucks away its grammar and its volume, turning it into something disjointed and buoyant, framing the situation but never intruding past the edge of understanding. A fringe knowledge that fails, immediately, to sink in.*

Date: 2011-10-02 10:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mad-actually.livejournal.com
*Kreacher's words finally seem to gain friction in his mind and become fully formed, albeit in nervous bursts of energy, "-Kreacher was forced to disobey orders, Master Regulus. They had their wands drawn, they were coming for young Master's friend. Kreacher has seen the papers..." Trailing off, his hands come into focus, weathered and wrinkled like loose leather on a thin frame. His fingers interlocking with mechanic compulsion, an unsaid potential for the old elf to dislocate them at any moment in self-punishment.*

Date: 2011-10-02 11:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mad-actually.livejournal.com
*There's no excuse. He knows - they all know - how much he hates it. Yet, the compulsion to talk about Barty as if he isn't really there seems to be a pervasive, universal one. Some primal instinct that evolved tens of thousands of years before he was born, just to prepare, just to spite him. A cosmic torment. Barty's eye cracks open under his hair, his eyelashes bracing against the rug with irritated violence. He sees Kreacher's drooping ears over Regulus' shoulder. White hair sprouting out in profuse little clumps, knobbled nose jostled by even subtle movement and a long fingered hand almost touching an arm, beckoning them all out of the parlour and back into more traditional sleeping arrangements.*

Date: 2011-10-16 11:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mad-actually.livejournal.com
*Open eyes and open mouth and still Barty refuses to move, burrowing ever deeper into the itchy rug and his stolen blanket. His words are slow and cryptic and filled with lyrical, stubborn slumber.*

Not any more. You've used it up.

Date: 2011-10-16 11:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mad-actually.livejournal.com
*His eyes seal shut too easily, sliding into place again with a warm, irresistible heaviness. His words go muffled as he settles against the floor with all the spreading stickiness of a puddle.*

It's the rules. You made them your

Date: 2011-10-18 10:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mad-actually.livejournal.com
*It's the quintessential trait, the very essence of Crouch, something over-arching and re-occurring - the nearly thousand-year long vein of bulging eyes and belligerent looks connecting the middle ages right up to the very present moment. And yet, only in the most exceptional of circumstances has this stubbornness so completely expressed itself through peaceful silence.*

Date: 2011-10-18 10:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mad-actually.livejournal.com
*His reply is simple and uncomplicated, mouth forming it behind his teeth, rounding it into something forceful and compacted like a fireball. It rushes out, lips releasing it as a tiny puff of air and a sleepy, deflated noise.*

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