Authors notes: I want to thank my BETAs Koorime and ChibiBecca. I would also like to appologise if people start craving cookies oo; Oh, and this Fic is set in Bath, Wiltshire, my hometown, so sorry if it sounds like a travel brochure at times ^^
One year previously.
It was the second to last week of the summer holidays before sixth year and Draco found he wasn’t missing his father as much as he had first thought he would.
The past four weeks had passed relatively quickly, his time being taken up with Quidditch, preparing for and celebrating his sixteenth birthday, a short holiday in Bath and extra curricular research of which he was sure his Hogwarts Professors wouldn’t approve. Homework had been completed within the first week, leaving the rest of the summer free for him to do as he wished, a habit taught to him by his father in the early years of his life and occasionally reinforced after starting at Hogwarts.
His mother had refused to allow him to visit his father since his long trial and eventual imprisonment. As far as Draco could figure it, she hadn’t wanted him to see Lucius in such a dilapidated state, stripped of his previous titles and reputation.
If anything, Draco had actually been grateful for her decision. It had meant he didn’t have to see the man that had been an overbearing influence on his life for so many years, meant he was completely out of his father’s watchful gaze for the first time in his life.
He found this new freedom liberating, but at the same time it made him feel a little guilty. He knew he aught to be regretting the loss of his beloved parent, but the newfound freedom was just too intoxicating. He didn’t want to see his father, was relieved by the fact that the man was no longer there to enforce the strict rules his life had always been run by and relieved also that he no longer had his fathers urgency enforcing his learning the Dark arts to please the Dark Lord.
He had not yet met Voldemort, but he dreaded the day it was to happen, despite both his parents’ constant affirmations of his greatness. He had heard the stories circulated around the rest of the Wizarding world, heard of the atrocities, of the terror and violence that he had wreaked upon the land.
Draco shuddered slightly at the thought, breaking away from his musings. He was sitting comfortably on his bedroom window seat watching as the house elves packed his mother’s belongings into the chauffeur driven muggle limousine. Today his mother was leaving, going on a month-long trip round France to ‘get away from it all.’
Just exactly what ‘it all’ was she had to ‘get away’ from was beyond him, but he knew that he wouldn’t miss her, less in fact than he currently missed his father, and that was indeed a moot point.
Over the weeks since his father’s imprisonment, she had become rather a bore, weeping and whining and generally making a nuisance of herself. He suspected it was just an act, as there was absolutely no way she could have believed his father innocent of being a Death Eater, but if that was the case, he found himself wanting to shake her by the shoulders and scream, “What did you expect?”
He had contented himself instead with rolling his eyes and ignoring her to the best of his considerable abilities.
Now though, she was leaving, and he was looking forward to the last two weeks of complete freedom, but he knew he was likely to get bored at some point, as he had done everything he wanted to do. He sat contemplating inviting his fellow Slytherins over.
He had no real friends in his own house, nor in fact any other at Hogwarts, but this didn’t bother him, he had comrades, allies, people he knew were going through the same things as he, as most of his housemates had Death Eaters for either one or both of their parents.
Perhaps he would simply invite Blaise? Or even Pansy?
He dismissed the idea. Inviting one of the girls was likely to make his parents happy, as they had both mentioned, on separate occasions, his need to find a nice Slytherin girl to settle down with and continue the Malfoy name. But he knew he knew by now that he didn’t want to, they really weren’t his type. Besides being slovenly and sluttish respectively, traits that didn’t appeal to him in the slightest, they were female.
He had known since he was quite young that he was gay, although back then he hadn’t had a name for it, or even realised it was considered ‘out of the norm’, he had believed everyone was like him. Right up until his father had noticed that his attentions had fallen on one of the local boys rather than any of the girls.
He hadn’t been able to comprehend the way his father had reacted at the time, but had managed to belay the mans’ sudden outbursts by pretending nothing was happening. By the time he had reached eleven his father had forgotten and he had learned to hide his true feelings and sexuality behind a mask of indifference.
He sighed and watched silently as the house elves finished up and locked up the boot before running back into the house. His thoughts turned to the one moment he had almost let his façade slip.
It had been almost six years ago now and he had been standing on a stool in Madam Malkins being fitted for his new Hogwarts robes as well as many others, when Harry Potter had walked in and taken the stool beside him. Of course, he hadn’t known at the time that it was he, so he had simply said ‘hallo.’
He had looked at the skinny boy standing awkwardly in his oversized clothes and been instantly entranced by those piercing green eyes. They had called out to him, for friendship, for love, for acceptance and he had been unable to say anything for a moment.
As a result his mind had filled with the words of his father, the teachings that had been lavished on him since the day he could comprehend anything. Before he had known what was going on he had begun spouting off his fathers words like a well-groomed puppet and he had been forced to endure the sight of those emerald eyes dim at his words and fill with something akin to mistrust, even abhorrence.
He had fallen in love for the first time, and lost that love, all within the space of a few minutes.
He didn’t recognise it for what it was until much later, at the time he had simply felt a great sense of loss, felt the loss of something important, and he hadn’t understood any of it.
When Potter had left and his father returned with his books he had almost blurted out the whole experience, forgetting for a moment that his father knew nothing of his inner self, forgetting his father’s reaction the last time he had glimpsed it. He had simply wanted someone to explain this new sensation to him, to make it all better, and if not his father, then who else?
But at the last moment, he had recalled himself, remembering that his father would never understand, let alone be willing to listen, so he had said nothing and the feelings had simply festered within him until he had come to understand them himself as he grew up.
Later, on the Hogwarts express when Potter had turned him down, refused his hand, he had felt a pit of ice coalesce inside him. He had taken refuge behind his father and his family’s animosity toward The Boy Who Lived. From that point onward he had kept his true feelings to himself and lived by his father’s word, letting the imposed teachings of hatred overwhelm him and bury the unrequited feelings.
He had allowed himself to become bitter over the years, simply as a way to drown out the emotions that broiled within him, hiding them even from himself, until they were almost forgotten.
He shook his head at the remembrance and stood, stretching tired muscles and clicking a few joints before making his way to his book shelves, looking for something to while away the time. He picked out ‘The Water Born,’ a favoured book of his that he had kept well hidden over the years, since his beating when his father had discovered one of his other muggle written books.
He returned to the window seat, opening the book on the last page he had been reading. Sitting down, he tucked his already long legs up under him, leaning on the cool glass of the window as he read, the midmorning sunlight forming a halo of his snow-pale hair. He reached up, unconsciously tucking a few loose strands behind his ear.
A while later he heard the front door slam and he looked down. His mother was just climbing into the back seat of the car. She didn’t look up, hadn’t said goodbye, in fact, she had barely registered his presence all day. He didn’t mind in the least. He looked forward to having the last two weeks free from her incessant whining, fidgeting and interruptions into his business.
He waved the car off with a slight, rather solemn movement of his hand, simply acknowledging the fact that she was leaving. He probably wouldn’t see her again ‘til Christmas, and he wasn’t even sure he wanted to come home for that.
The car disappeared and he moved to one of the two armchairs in front of the low burning fire, making himself comfortable in his favourite chair, once again tucking his legs up beneath him before reopening the book.
He read for well over an hour, losing himself completely in the narrative, not even disturbed when a house elf came in to replenish the fire. He didn’t respond at first when a knock sounded on his door, but he eventually looked up, slightly annoyed at the interruption as the house elf, Minker, poked her head round the door, a worried expression on her face.
“You has a visitor, Master Draco, sir.”
He got to his feet, still holding the book and motioned for her to show whomever it was in. He nearly dropped the novel when the forbidding, tall figure of Professor Snape stalked in.
“Greg Bear? Interesting choice. I trust your parents know nothing of its existence?”
Draco mutely shook his head, watching as his Potions Master made himself comfortable in the other high-backed armchair, fanning out his expansive black robes as he crossed one leg over the other and looked up, one eyebrow arched expectantly.
Draco took the hint and sat down, no longer comfortable even in his favourite chair.
“I waited until your mother had left before paying you this visit, as she is still in contact with Voldemort, despite her current charade.”
Draco blinked, not really understanding what his Head of House was telling him, or even why he was here. He placed the bookmark in his current page and carefully placed the book on the small table between them. Snape’s eyes never left his own as he did this. He sat back, unconsciously smoothing his hair back in place before saying “Sir?”
Snape steepled his fingers before his face, elbows resting on the arms of the old chair, dark eyes never leaving Draco’s own pale ones.
“This is not a conversation I would wish to have while under the same roof as one of Voldemort’s more vehement ‘supporter’s’, Draco.”
Draco blinked then looked down at his hands, not entirely understanding. Wasn’t Professor Snape one of his supporters? Maybe this was a test? He didn’t know but he didn’t wish to have all of Voldemort’s wrath brought down upon him for failing it if it was.
“Then perhaps we still shouldn’t have this conversation…?”
He glanced up when Snape moved slightly and caught a glimpse of something unidentifiable in the older mans eyes.
“I would not call you a follower of Voldemort, boy. Simply a misguided child with overbearing parents.” Had Snape just admitted to not being a true member of the Death Eater’s inner circle?
Snape leaned forward slightly and Draco again blinked. He was not used to having home visits from Hogwarts staff members, let alone being stared at by one of them as if his whole life could be read in his features.
He leant back slightly, reasserting the distance between the two of them, not entirely comfortable with the emotionless look Professor Snape was giving him.
“Voldemort plans on visiting you relatively soon, possibly tonight. I felt it my duty to warn you and to have a talk with you before he did.”
Snape sat back again, leaning his gaunt frame right into the back of the concave shaped chair, his perpetually greasy hair hiding his features for a moment. Draco knew very well that the shock and fear of Voldemorts’ impending visit showed plainly on his features. He couldn’t mask the emotions, just this once they were far too strong.
“He plans to visit you alone. It is the reason your mother left today. He wishes to initiate you into the Death Eaters personally. I believe it is a way of once again having Malfoy blood within his ranks.”
Draco felt the dark eyes rest on him, “How will you respond?”
He took a breath, wondering still if this was a test. “My-”
Snape interrupted him. “Not how your mother or your father would have you respond. How will YOU respond? What do YOU want?”
Draco paused, his pale eyes briefly meeting Snape’s dark.
“Think about it, Draco.”
He had never before been asked how he felt about being given the Dark Mark, never before been asked to think abut it. He had always assumed the Mark was a part of his heritage and thus has not had to think about. He fell silent and sat back, hardly noticing Snape silently inspecting his finger nails in an offhanded kind of way.
What DID he want?
Up until just recently, up until his father’s removal from his life, he had been sure. He had wanted to do anything to please the imposing man; anything had included taking the Dark Mark when the time came, continuing the Malfoy family tradition and becoming a Master of the Dark Arts. All for his father, all for his fathers’ approval, for him to show some emotion toward him as a father should.
He glanced at Snape, realising that deep inside, though he still craved what his father had never given him, he no longer wanted to follow in his footsteps.
“I don’t want it,” he said quietly, not looking at his Professor, at the man he had thought was a follower of Voldemort, right up until he had asked him to think about it. This wasn’t a test, this was real, this man was giving him a way out from the future his family had sought for him. He suspected Professor Snape was working for Dumbledore, suspected it may have been the old man’s prompting that had brought him here for this very conversation.
“I had hoped you would say that. I didn’t relish the idea of having to argue with you.”
Draco glanced over and spotted the upward tilt of Snape’s lips that indicated one of his rare smiles.
“When Voldemort arrives, act gracious, act the perfect host. Be careful never to look him in the eye or be too forthcoming. Let him do as he wishes and try not to let him touch you. If at all possible.”
Snape paused and Draco nodded, showing he was taking it all in. The older man half-closed his eyes as he continued.
“You will have to convince him of your allegiance, it is the only way you will survive the encounter. But, when he asks you to take the Mark, you must make him believe you shouldn’t have it until you have graduated from Hogwarts, tell him the risk of having the Mark at this point would be too great, that you would not wish your position to be compromised.”
Snape paused again, giving Draco a quiet stare before resuming his instructions.
“I may be there to offer support, assuring him that you are right. Above all Draco, be careful. He may have favoured your parents and the Malfoy line, but do not think for one moment that this fact will stay his hand if you anger him.”
Draco found himself standing in the centre of a large circle. The remaining Death Eaters were edgy and his eyes narrowed at the twitching robes around him, the obvious discontent of those he had just sworn unwavering allegiance to.
It was dark now, and they were standing on the Malfoy grounds under the watchful gaze of the full moon. The stark light gave the scene around him an eerie feel that just served to heighten the terror he felt at being put through what he had been.
He had just spent the better part of the past hour persuading Voldemort that he was a loyal follower; persuading him that he would take the Mark once he graduated. The Dark Lord had eventually decided he would present him with the Mark as a gift for his eighteenth birthday during the summer after his graduation. Draco had been forced to act as if this was a great honour.
It had worked, and despite his absolute fear, fear of the inhuman creature standing before him, he felt a small bubble of pride and relief. He couldn’t see Snape in circle around him due to the masks that all wore, but he felt reassured just knowing he was there somewhere, silent but ready to step forward in his defence at any moment.
Voldemort moved slightly, mere seconds had passed since his declaration that he would favour Draco with the Mark on his eighteenth, and his voice now broke into the thoughts of all around him.
“Leave me,” his insidious voice commanded.
Draco watched as the Death Eaters bowed as one and began to disapparate. One stayed longer than the others, as long as it was possible to do so, and he recognised Snape’s dark eyes glittering through the eyeholes of his mask.
When he was alone, Draco looked up at the monster and self appointed future ruler of the world and forced back the urge to shudder in fear and revulsion. He smiled, using all of his father’s rigorous training in the art to mask his true feelings, to appear calm, collected, willing to follow his Lord’s every whim.
It seemed to work, despite his vastly developing fear now that Snape was no longer present and the tall, skeletal form walked past him and into the mansion.
After a pause he followed, apprehension labouring his steps.
Voldemort’s cloak was hanging on the central peg of hangers lined along the wall behind the double doors in the hallway, he noticed now that it was midnight blue rather than black. He turned away from the pegs after hanging his own in its customary position five pegs from the start of the line and found that the once human man was watching him, an undisguised but completely unreadable emotion plain on his face.
He paused, a little more than apprehensive now that he was alone with him and the thing spoke, its high, insidious voice making him shiver slightly in pure horror.
“You fear me…”
Voldemort took a step closer, his long, thin arms folded across his chest. “It is well that you do. Fear ultimately leads to respect. Your father was just as you are now when he was first initiated. It is a pleasant thought.”
Draco didn’t want to think about it.
“Now. Come to me, boy.”
His eyes dropped to the floor but he moved a little closer, his legs feeling heavy, as if they were made of lead. Voldemort crossed the remaining space between them in a few strides and grabbed Draco’s left forearm, pushing the sleeve of his best robe up, wrinkling it into the crook of his arm.
As thin, cold fingers trailed over his pale inner forearm Draco fought a sob of fear and loathing, catching it as a lump in his throat that he swallowed when those ugly cat-like eyes looked at him from barely a foot away.
The grip on his arm tightened and then shifted. Voldemort was suddenly holding both his wrists in one long-fingered hand and not even his years of training could now mask the fear painfully evident on his face, in his eyes.
“Ah yes. Luscious taught you well, my boy. Yes indeed.” Again the grip shifted and one hand snaked up, the long clammy fingers pausing an inch from his left cheek.
“Such a pretty child.” That voice was almost a purr, and it struck such fear in him that he had never felt. “And at your age…”
Draco couldn’t suppress the tremor as the fingers gently stroked down his cheek, and he was suddenly struggling, trying to break his wrists free from the vice like grip. He stopped only when Voldemort’s fingers paused on his skin.
He swallowed, remembering what Snape had said about pleasing this creature, lest it should act on its wrath. They stayed like that for what felt like an eternity to the terrified blonde, though it was surely only seconds, and then he was thrown roughly to the floor.
He grazed his hands and knees as he attempted to break the fall and then looked up, his breath catching at the look of fury on Voldemort’s face.
“Enough of this. I had thought you wouldn’t defy me, on today of all days…” The voice was a hiss of rage and Draco watched in bemused dread as Voldemort’s wand was brought into view, his eyes widened as a single word formed on the Dark Lord’s lips.
When he awoke he was alone. He was curled tightly, clutching his stomach, on the hallway floor where Voldemort had thrown him. The Dark Lord’s cloak was gone from the peg and there were no house elves in sight.
He was still alive. He felt that he should have died somewhere around the third blast of crucio, but he had only passed out. It seemed Voldemort had decided to continue his game some other time.
He climbed awkwardly to his feet and stood, leaning against the wall for support, his arms wrapped tightly about himself. He eventually made it to his bedroom and folded into his favourite chair, letting the warmth of the fire soothe his aching body.
He didn’t know how long he sat there, but by the time Minker came in to replenish the fire he had come to a decision. He was going to distance himself from his fellow Slytherin’s in an attempt to remove himself from Voldemort’s view and further attentions.
As he climbed into bed, not bothering with taking off his robe, he came to the conclusion that he would also stop baiting Potter; stop acting as his father’s puppet, try to salvage the remaining two years of his time at Hogwarts.
As he was drifting off to sleep he remembered the first time he had seen Potter in Madam Malkins. Perhaps he could try to remedy the damage he had done over the years? Maybe he could clear the air between himself and the other boy, distance himself from the years of bitterness due to unrequited love.
He smiled slightly, visions of curling up with a good book and Potter in the common room chasing away the feel of Voldemort’s clammy fingers on his wrists and cheek.
They had followed Colin Henderson and the other Death Eater to a building Draco instantly recognised as one of the buildings his father had frequently used as a meeting place in the years before his capture.
Being here brought back unwanted memories of the first and only time he had met the Dark Lord. When Harry wasn’t looking he closed his eyes in an attempt to fight back the cruel red eyes and the feel of deathly pale fingers on his skin. He opened them again in time to see the two men glance cautiously about before heading the ancient iron stairway that led to the cellars of the old Georgian building.
Harry turned to look at him, his eyebrows raised. He must have seen the expression etched into his face as Draco saw a worried frown appear on his. “I’m fine,” he said quietly, “This place just reminds me of a few things. My Father used to come here.”
Harry still looked worried, “Are you sure you’re ok?”
“Yeah,” he nodded, settling his mask in place, “Now come one, you started this, so let’s see what they’re up to down there.”
Harry paused a moment, obviously still worried, but then he turned and they both carefully made their way down the stairway, making as little noise as possible. “Wish I had my invisibility cloak,” Draco distinctly heard Harry mutter.. He was surprised; he hadn’t known the perfect little Gryffindor had one. He absently wondered what he used it for.
They reached the bottom and moved to the only window, not wanting to tempt fate by opening the door. It was small, square and covered in cobwebs and grime, but after Harry applied the cuff of his hand-me-down jumper they could see through relatively well. The shuffled together so they could both see through the smudged glass and looked in.
It was dark inside, the room lit only by a flaring torch high on the opposite wall and there was an obvious haze of magic, probably silencing and muggle-repelling spells. The two men were standing in the centre of the room, Colin on the left, the other man to the right. Curled into a tight ball at their feet was a third figure that looked vaguely familiar.
The two men were talking quite vehemently; they looked like they were arguing over what to do with the prisoner. Draco wished he could hear what was being said.
As they watched, Colin gesticulated angrily and then grabbed the man on the floor, forcing him upwards onto his feet. Both boys gasped lightly. The third man now standing on weak legs, eyes unfocused and robes hopelessly dirtied was Colin’s exact double.
In fact, with wide eyes, the two boys saw the muggle attired and completely healthy Colin shimmer as magic faded and his true identity was finally revealed.
“That’s Zabini’s father!” Draco hissed in surprise. Harry glanced at him, eyebrows raised. They both turned back to see what happened. Zabini and the other Death Eater continued to argue for what seemed an age, both indicating the real Colin Henderson now on his knees between them, the glazed look still in his eyes.
Suddenly Zabini had his wand in hand and was pointing it at the helpless man, still arguing with his fellow Death Eater.
Draco knew what was going to happen next and realised neither he nor Harry needed to see it. He grabbed the taller boy’s shoulder and attempted to pull him away, “Harry, we should go. Now. Before they find us. There’s nothing we can do.”
Reluctantly Harry nodded and followed him up the stairs.
Halfway up there was a flash of brilliant green light from the small square window and both boys jumped, suddenly both wanting to be as far from there as possible. Draco heard Harry swearing behind him.
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