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At Great Personal Risk by academica
Chapter 7: The Recruitment
She didn’t think it would still hurt this badly after three years.
Every time he wanted her, the soft skin on her left forearm burned deeply, the black tattoo searing her flesh anew, bringing her back to the moment when it had been etched there. The snake and skull were ugly, hideous just as she was. And yet he wanted her so often.
The Dark Lord had been immediately taken with Lily, though she suspected it was just because she had such a natural talent for charms work. In fact, that’s how Sirius had introduced her, now that she recalled it. He seemed to interact more effectively with women, priding himself more on his intellect and social charisma than brute strength, the latter of which was the purpose of so many of the young men who leapt at the chance to join him. While he mostly barked orders at the others, he took time to have conversations with Lily, discussing trivial matters like the weather and political happenings with her before meetings were formally convened. Despite the jealous glances she received from the handful of other female Death Eaters, Lily did not consider their interaction to resemble a relationship in the slightest. She never accepted his casual invitations to share a meal or a midnight walk, and he never made sexual advances toward her. In fact, none of the men did, save for Sirius. Most of them simply ignored her, which she preferred.
She walked up to the aged house they used for meetings, the password coming immediately to the forefront of her mind. Sirius had donated his family’s home to be used for Voldemort’s purposes shortly after his father had succumbed to the ill health effects that accompanied his extreme alcoholism, with his mother happily obliging. She still haunted the home, prostrating herself at the Dark Lord’s feet with her annoying offers of dinner parties and the assistance of the family’s elves. It was distasteful, the way she had gone from serving one selfish man to another.
Ever paranoid, Voldemort had instilled two phases of security for those who wished to gain entry to the house. Lily waited patiently for the wall to open up, revealing the wizarding home as it sprang from its hiding place between two ordinary Muggle dwellings. She glanced up, briefly watching as a Muggle family in one unit crowded around the television with their dinner. The sight caused her to grimace somewhat involuntarily.
Recalling her purpose, she stepped up onto the stoop, looking carefully for the faint copy of the tattoo that had been etched into the black wood. Finding it at last, she pressed her arm to it, matching her flesh up with the image on the door perfectly. Both marks were set ablaze, and she heard one of the locks open from the other side of the door. Removing her arm and rubbing it slightly, she leaned in close to the doorknob, whispering the password. “Serpensortia.”
The second lock clicked, and the door swung open. Sirius was standing in the corridor, speaking with his mother, likely attempting to convince her not to offer Voldemort one of her freshly-baked pumpkin pasties. Lily could vaguely smell something baking in the oven. Another grimace.
“There you are.” A wicked smile spread across Sirius’s handsome face, and Mrs. Black turned, biting her tongue. She could not understand what her son saw in the girl. The Death Eaters were no place for a woman. It was unladylike; most men would see it as an attempt to grasp control.
“I come when I’m called.” Lily said shortly. “Is he here?”
“Not yet.” Sirius frowned. “Not impatient, are you?”
“No.” She replied, though she could think of several other things she’d rather be doing tonight.
“Good.” Sirius said, placing a hand softly on her lower back and gesturing to the dining room table with his other arm. “Pumpkin pasty?”
“They’re not done yet.” His mother said sharply from the kitchen.
By the time the pasties had been fully baked and laid out on the kitchen counter, filling the house with the rather unfitting odor of a loving Muggle abode, everyone who intended to answer the call had arrived, and the Dark Lord had taken his place at the table.
“I see Longbottom is missing.” He said quietly, looking over at Sirius, who sat at his left hand, with Lily occupying the space to his right. “I suppose you were unsuccessful in recruiting him?”
“Indeed, my Lord, my apologies.” Sirius said, a tinge of redness appearing just above his collar.
“I see.” Voldemort folded his hands on the table. “Pity, waste of a good wizard. I imagine you would have enjoyed his company, Lily, seeing as he was also quite proficient in charms.”
Lily had never had soft feelings for Frank, but hearing the word was troubled her somewhat.
“Ah, well, it’s best that we move on to bigger and better things.” He looked down, collecting his thoughts, and then glanced at Sirius again. “What of your brother, Regulus?”
“He’s very eager, my Lord.” Sirius brightened slightly. “He plans to begin attending meetings with me as soon as he finishes his Auror training.”
Everyone at the table looked at him in surprise.
“It was his intention to join the Department of Magical Law Enforcement before he completed his time at Hogwarts, but now he sees his career as a unique asset to your plans, my Lord.” Sirius added in explanation. “He can let us know which of us are being investigated, you see.”
“Interesting.” The Dark Lord nodded. “Yes, I look forward to meeting him.” He smirked slightly. “It’s too bad that you never amounted to such a noble position, Sirius.”
The redness spread into Sirius’s cheeks, and some of the others chuckled softly.
“What about Malfoy?” Voldemort spoke now to a dark-haired wizard with a slight hunch in his back, a former Slytherin Lily recognized as Creigan Mulciber.
“He has expressed interest, my Lord.” Lily noticed that he spoke slowly, weaving a web with his words and successfully capturing the attention and respect of most others around the table. “I offered to bring him to a future meeting, but he insisted that you speak with him privately.”
“Nonsense, he can come to the meeting like everyone else.” Voldemort said coldly. He motioned Sirius’s mother over, demanding a glass of water. The woman could hardly move fast enough. “What of Snape?” He said suddenly, as if he had just remembered. “Severus Snape. Any news?”
Lily looked up, trying to hide the pain in her expression. Never mind the fact that Severus would never fit in among these people; he would never agree to it to begin with. And so he would die.
“No one has been able to locate him in recent months, my Lord.” Mulciber said.
“Well, try harder.” Voldemort glanced at Sirius. “You and your brother—”
“I will.” The words left Lily’s mouth before they had fully formed in her mind.
The others, including Sirius’s mother, who had returned with the glass of water, stared at her in shock. The Dark Lord did not tolerate disrespect, especially being interrupted. She swallowed heavily, sitting up in her chair, unsure where her eyes should go.
“You’ll what?” Voldemort spoke quietly, his voice containing some irritation that was muddied by hints of fascination.
Lily faced him tentatively. “I’ll go and look for him.” She said softly.
Voldemort and the others watched her silently for a moment, needing a moment to process her audacity. The females among them had helped out with group missions in the past, but never had a woman volunteered to take on a job by herself. At last, the Dark Lord handed down his verdict.
“I see. You wish to practice your skills in the event that he refuses, am I correct?”
Lily swallowed again. “Yes, my Lord.” She uttered, lying so boldly she nearly believed it.
“Well, make sure not to get too creative.” He laughed, freeing up the chuckle that the others around the table restrained in the absence of his permission. “So be it. Lily will find Snape.”
Sirius was still gaping at her. What was that on his face? Pride? Jealousy? Doubt, perhaps?
She folded her hands in her lap, tuning out the Dark Lord’s voice as he moved on to his next victim. She had to find Severus, and she had to do it fast.