Chapter 20 : Fear
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Evan had his eyes on me at all times – watching me like a hawk – and I knew that he was doubting my loyalty to both him, and the Dark Lord.
Regulus had fallen into a deeply sombre mood after his failure to catch the Golden snitch during the last Quidditch game. The team had come down awfully hard on him, Evan especially, though he knew it wasn’t Regulus’ fault – I think he just needed someone to blame, and at the moment, it was anyone but himself.
Lucius had declared that Regulus would stay on as Seeker for the team – so that he could play in the next game, where he was expected to win. I tried my best to constantly remind Regulus that it had been his first game with minimal training, and that he had done exceptionally well to get as close to the Snitch as he had – If he trained hard for the next game, he was sure to get it.
Unfortunately, the words of his teammates meant a lot more to him then mine did.
On the morning of our trip to the village of Hogsmeade, I was nothing less than a nervous wreck, dreading our upcoming meeting with the Death Eaters.
I had thought a lot about what Sirius had said to me earlier in the week, how if I chose not to join the Death Eaters, I wouldn’t be left alone – and once or twice I had seriously considered not doing it. But the more I thought about not going, the more I realised that I had to.
Most of all, I think I didn’t want to be labelled a blood-traitor. I had spent so many years hating anyone who didn’t believe in Pureblood dominance – I could never imagine what it would feel like to be one of them. But still, I couldn’t understand why my friends were so excited about this meeting – and why I wasn’t.
“Come on, Alex! We can’t be late” Bellatrix all but dragged me down the stone stairs to the common room as I was still pulling my white, denim jacket over my shoulders. I hitched my black boots up over my jeans as I stumbled to the foot of the stairs, and threw a white scarf around my neck to ward off the cold before I looked around the gloomy, dungeon room.
The room was empty, save for Evan, Rodolphus, Lucius and Severus, waiting on the couches for us impatiently – all springing to their feet at the sight of Bella and I. I noticed too that Regulus and Rabastan were hanging around uncertainly – all the other students must have headed off already.
“Hey, you guys aren’t going into Hogsmeade with Cissy?” I asked the pair of young boys, who shrugged their shoulders in response.
“She’s gone with a couple of the girls from her dorm” Rabastan answered rather quietly, which I found an awfully strange contrast from his usual out-going personality.
Lucius gave a brisk wave of his hand, which was clad in a pair of grey gloves “Let’s go – we shouldn’t keep them waiting”
I shot Severus a questioning look as we all trampled out of the common room into the dungeon corridors – I didn’t understand why Lucius would let Rabastan and Regulus tag along with us when we were on our way to such an important, and not to mention dangerous meeting.
Severus came to walk next to me, letting me link my arm through his own. He wore a long, woollen jacket that seemed like it once might have been black – but now was so old that it had a kind of green tinge to it and was littered with small tears and rips along the seams.
Not one of us had spoken a word since we left the common room, and I could feel Severus slowing his pace down a little until we ended up lingering right at the back of the group.
He leant his head closer to mine before speaking quietly “They’re coming with us”
I stared at his unguarded, black eyes – and at once I could tell that something was troubling him.
“You mean just to Hogsmeade, right?” I questioned, to which Severus shook his head slowly in reply.
“No,” He answered, sneaking a glance at Lucius before he continued “They’re coming with us... to meet the Death Eaters”
At once, I took my arm back from Severus and stood frozen in my tracks. At first I thought it must be some kind of joke – that everyone would start howling with laughter and calling out “You should see your face!”
But Severus was never one to make jokes – especially not about a matter as serious as this. And by the way he was staring at me, deadly serious; I knew that he was telling the truth.
“They what?” I all but screamed, causing every one of them to stop and turn to see what all the fuss was about. These were sixteen year old boys we were talking about – not even of age by the terms of the Wizarding World – and here we were, leading them into a life of violence? My heart was beating so furiously I felt as if it would explode – there was no way in hell that I was going to allow it.
“Alex – what the bloody hell is going on?” Bellatrix stepped forward first, looking me up and down as if I were a madwoman.
“They’re coming with us!” I shrieked, pointing a finger in Regulus and Rabastans direction, who both shrunk back considerably.
Bella surveyed me sceptically through her dark eyes “Yeah? What’s the problem?” She asked, clearly not seeing any problem at all with the fact that these two boys – who were as good as our own brothers – were being allowed to tag along on our trip to meet these notorious murderers and criminals. All of a sudden I felt incredibly sick to my stomach – my hands were shaking uncontrollably at my sides.
I turned on Rodolphus, pointing a single, slim finger in his face accusingly “I can’t believe you would actually let your little brother get mixed up in all of this! Are you an idiot?”
Rodolphus shrugged his shoulders dismissively, ignoring my insult “He’s big and ugly enough to make his own decisions – it’s their choice, Ally”
“This is what we want” Rabastan piped up, before I had the chance to throttle his moronic, older brother for not even making a move to protect him "This is our choice"
I scoffed loudly in reply “Your choice? It’s not your choice, Rab – you’re only doing this because your parents, and your brother expect you to” I spat, causing Rabastan to shy away without a reply.
“At least your brother cares enough about you to make an attempt to guard you from this all” I added to Regulus, who looked nothing but confused by my comment.
Evan let out a bitter laugh, slowly walking towards me “I don’t think it’s his brother that Black seems to care for all of a sudden” He spat and I growled lowly in reply.
“And what is that supposed to mean, Evan?”
“That’s enough!” Lucius interrupted abruptly, glaring at me through ice cold eyes “We don’t have time to waste on your petty concerns – get a move on”
Grudgingly, Evan turned on his heel and followed behind Lucius. Bellatrix came to walk with me, with Severus still on my other side.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Bella demanded, whispering harshly.
I exhaled sharply – furious at every one of them for allowing this to happen.
“They’re just kids, Bella – what the hell are you doing letting them be a part of this?” I glared at her furiously, demanding an answer.
“Like Rod said, it’s their decision – they wanted to do this”
I shook my head disbelievingly – feeling the heat of oncoming tears prickling at my eyes. I couldn’t believe this was happening.
“And what about Cissy, huh? If Reg and Rabastan decided to join in on this, why not her?”
Bella laughed bitterly “Cissy? She’s too stupid to be a Death Eater – she’d never be any use”
I scoffed in disagreement – Narcissa probably didn’t have it in her to become a Death Eater, but she most certainly wasn’t stupid.
All of a sudden, I felt incredibly aware of how much more protective I was of our younger friends then their own damned siblings were – was I the only one who felt even remotely responsible for keeping them safe?
The rest of the walk to Hogsmeade was spent mostly in silence – with only a few words exchanged here and there between Bellatrix, Severus and I. The wind was deathly cold, and howling furiously in my ears, which gave the excuse of not being able to hear them say anything to me over the noise.
I was still fuming as we entered the small village, which was crowded with Hogwarts students and the odd local here and there.
Lucius huddled us into a group and instructed us to break apart into pairs, so that we wouldn’t all look suspicious tramping down the shady alley to the Hog’s Head Tavern in the large group we were in. Lucius was to go first with Severus. Next Rodolphus would take Rabastan, then Evan and Regulus and lastly, Bella and I would go.
We had a few minutes to spare until we were supposed to go to the Hog’s Head – and the both of us were too on edge to do anything productive – so we settled instead for walking up and down the High Street of Hogsmeade, pushing our way through the sea of students. I was grateful for the noise of the crowds, at least, which meant I wouldn’t have to listen to my best friend say anything that could result in me snapping at her.
We reached the end of the street in an awkward silence for the second time, standing outside Dervish and Banges. Bella muttered that she might as well buy a new quill while she was here, and bustled off to Scrivenshaft’s across the street.
I was glad to be rid of her, to be perfectly honest, though I slowly made my way to stand outside the shop to wait for her. I could clearly see the alley where the Hog’s Head was located across the street and noted a large man in a dirty, black trench coat standing outside the front door, his arms folded across his chest gruffly. Vaguely, I wondered if he was one of the Death Eaters we would meet.
“Fancy seeing you here”
My hand jumped to my heart to keep it from leaping straight out of my chest as I got the fright of my life. James Potter had strolled up beside me, his hands perched on his hips in a rather feminine fashion, and looking very strangely alone.
“Potter, what the hell” I panted, regaining my composure – I had been so lost in my own mind that I hadn’t expected anyone to saunter up and start speaking to me.
James raised his eyebrows at me incredulously, and I narrowed mine in response.
“What do you want?”
“Just to ask you, kindly, to quit fucking torturing my best friend” James spat, folding his arms across his chest.
I shook my head in disbelief “I have no idea what you’re talking about”
James leaned forward, speaking gruffly “Look, Cortez, clearly Sirius has some kind of ridiculous interest in you that has sprung from god knows where – but he’s been acting like a complete lunatic, and I’m pretty sure that it’s your fault”
“Ever thought that it might be one of the other girls he stalks?”
“No because these days it’s only been you” James replied bitterly “All I’m saying is that if you’re into all this Voldemort crap, then stay away from Sirius and kindly go and jump off a cliff – or if you’re not, just let the guy know and put him out of his misery”
I narrowed my eyes at the dark-haired boy “I missed the part where I let you tell me what to do” I replied icily, earning a glare to rival my own in return “Did you come all the way down here just to make an idiot of yourself?”
James cleared his throat loudly before replying “Actually, I was heading somewhere” He indicated around the corner from where we were standing.
I raised an eyebrow “The only thing around there is Madam Puddifoot’s”
“Yes, well... I like tea” James answered, his cheeks turning a considerably brighter shade of pink.
I heard a door slam closed behind me “What the fuck do you want, Potter? Get lost” Bellatrix screeched as she walked out into the street – her hands clearly devoid of any new quills.
“Screw you, Black – I’m late anyway” James spat before storming off down the street.
I couldn’t help but let out a small laugh at his retreating back “Late for tea”
Bella snorted with laughter “What was that about?”
“Don’t even ask” I answered, rolling my eyes lazily.
Bellatrix shrugged her shoulders dismissively “Let’s go to the Hog’s Head – I’m sick of waiting and there’s barely anyone around here anyway”
Bella and I linked arms, and tentatively crossed the street to stand near the entrance to the alley. After a minute of pretending we were doing nothing but hanging around gossiping, we swiftly slid down the small, side street.
The entrance of the Hog’s Head was a battered, old door peeking out from behind the ends of two long, brick walls which covered the entire circumference of the shabby building. An equally battered sign hung low above the door – depicting a rather grotesque looking picture of a wild boar's severed head leaking blood onto the white cloth around it.
The man I had previously seen standing outside the door looked the pair of us up and down gruffly with the one eye he seemingly had any use with – the other had a thick scar running down the length of it, from the top of his forehead to the bottom of his ear.
“We’re here with Lucius Malfoy” Bella spoke up, her voice calm and confident. I wondered if I was the only one who could sense the hint of nervousness laced beneath her words.
The man gave a sharp nod of his head, letting us pass him without a word. We stumbled over the threshold into the dingy pub – our eyes gradually adjusting to the lack of light. A putrid smell assaulted my nostrils immediately, reminding me very much of barnyard animals. A small bleating noise proved why when a large goat appeared from behind one of the many dusty, wooden tables, and then promptly disappeared behind the bar – where the old, grisly looking barkeeper was standing, wiping down glasses with a disgustingly dirty looking rag and scowling at the pair of us.
I made a mental note not to touch anything while I was there.
The inn seemed to be empty – save for Lucius seated at the nearest grimy table, waiting for our arrival. He stood wordlessly as we approached, motioning with his hand for us to follow him.
My heart was pounding nervously as I followed behind Lucius and Bella up the narrow wooden staircase – which creaked dangerously with every step I took.
Somehow I couldn’t help thinking that I was making the biggest mistake of my life – but as we walked through the open sitting room at the top of the stairs, and Lucius deposited us in through a door to a small, grimy bedroom, where stood every one of my friends – looking just as anxious and pale-faced as I was – I remembered why I was there.
The room was tiny – a rather sorry looking bedroom, clearly used for any guests looking for accommodation. There was a small bed in one corner, currently being used as a seat for fellow Slytherin students Lance Avery, Declan Vaisey and still a rather sickly looking Erastus Wilkes.
I hurried over to push myself into the small space between Evan and Severus – who stood beside the only grime covered window in the room – and though I was still furious at him, I couldn’t help but feel comforted as Evan rested a hand on my shoulder, protectively drawing me closer to him.
Moments later, Lucius returned to the room following behind three men – the first a bald, dark-skinned man, taller than his other companions, who surveyed the lot of us sceptically through dark, narrowed eyes.
The second man was not quite as tall as the first, but he was broader, with matted, sandy blonde hair streaked with grey and wild, yellow eyes – I couldn’t help but shudder involuntarily at the sight of him.
The third to enter was the short man who had previously been guarding the entrance to the Hog’s Head, and I noticed as he walked that he had a prominent limp on his left side.
Everyone stood as the men entered the room, forming a kind of half circle as big as the room would allow.
The bald man was the first to step forward and speak “Now that you’ve all found the time to grace us with your presence – we may begin” he began cynically, his voice low and commanding.
“My name is Amelio Travers – these are my associates Thorfinn Rowle, and Fenrir Greyback” Travers gestured first to the short man, then the yellow-eyed one “I am here to speak to you on behalf of the Dark Lord – who, as you can imagine, has much more important matters to tend to then a bunch of snivelling, school children”
Not one of us spoke a word as Travers paced back and forth before us – individually looking us up and down as if to assess our capabilities. I myself could hardly tear my eyes away from hulking man that was Fenrir Greyback as he sneered at the lot of us. There was clearly something about him that intrigued, and yet terrified me.
“As you must know by now – the Dark Lord is conjuring an army powerful enough to dominate the Wizarding World” Travers continued his speech “Stay loyal to him, do as you’re told – and perhaps soon you will have the honour of joining his elite few – the Death Eaters. The first test of your dedication – bow to me”
Gradually, every inhabitant of the room – save myself and the three men standing at the front of the room – bowed their heads as they dropped to one knee. Disbelievingly, I stared at the lot of them as they kneeled on the grimy floor and realised that this was to be not so much a share of power but a struggle for it – and right now, us new introductions were on the bottom most rung of the ladder.
“What’s the matter, princess? Do those delicious little legs of yours not work?” The man, Greyback, spoke for the first time as he advanced on me – his voice a low, raspy bark. His animal-like eyes flickered up and down my body hungrily – making me feel incredibly unnerved.
“I’m not a servant” I spat icily – thoroughly terrified of the man, yet quite unwilling to back down “I bow to no-one”
Before I knew it Greyback had lunged at me – his large, grimy hand flying out and gripping my throat so hard I could barely breathe. Swiftly, he leant his face closer to my own and I gagged at the foul stench of his breath.
“You’re a servant of the Dark Lord now – you’d do well to remember it” Greyback bared his fang-like teeth in a sadistic smile and I could feel the pressure of his sharp nails as they dug tighter into my throat, piercing through the soft skin.
I very much wanted to run – and to get as far from this monster of a man and his piercing, yellow eyes as I could. I kept my eyes fixed on his own, firmly locked in a silent battle of wills, though my head had begun to spin ever so slightly from lack of oxygen.
It felt like a lifetime before Travers spoke up, his voice a low warning “Take your filthy hands off the girl, Greyback” he boomed and reluctantly, Greyback loosened his hold on me – clearly outranked by the taller man.
I let my hands fly to my throat as I gasped to catch my breath, running them over the small, painful wounds on either side. Greyback sneered as he retreated to the far side of the room – which was hardly far enough away for my liking.
“What is your name, young friend?” Travers spoke as he approached me, assessing me with his dark eyes.
“Alexandra Cortez” I spoke in response, and Travers lifted a single dark finger to his lips in deliberation.
“Cortez? Ah, yes – your father is the Healer, correct?” He spoke after a moment and I nodded my head in response.
And then he smiled – a wide, unsettling smile “Well, then – I guess we should have expected as much from a girl who was raised by a pair of blood traitors”
I narrowed my eyes at the man as he paced towards me, his wand drawn – my friends still remained on bended knee with their heads bowed, none of them daring to defy these men as I had so boldly done.
“Allow me to demonstrate to you all how we discipline anyone who refuses the orders of our master” Travers hissed menacingly, and an overwhelming sense of dread overcame me as he raised his wand and shouted “Imperio!”
At that moment, a strange and horrifying sensation ran through me as all control drained from my body and no matter how hard I tried, how much I fought and struggled – I couldn’t move a single muscle in my body, let alone open my mouth to protest.
I began to panic as I realised how helpless I was – a mere puppet for this deranged Death Eater to control as he pleased. Slowly, Travers lowered his wand, and as he did my body followed with the motion, dropping lower and lower until I was on both knees, my arms hanging at my side uselessly.
Next, with a small flick he used his wand to bend my body forward into a low bow – my arms stretched in front of me and my face barely an inch above the grimy floor below me.
I could hear the sound of his heavy boots as he stood before me and laughed – a sick, menacing sound filled with all the delight of someone who clearly took pleasure in the use of the Unforgivable Curses.
“Let this be a lesson to you all – and know now that the Dark Lord is not so forgiving to those who defy his power” Travers addressed the room with a warning “Now rise – all of you”
Relief flooded through me alongside the control that had returned to my body now that the curse had been lifted, and cautiously I rose to my feet – not daring to meet the gaze of any of my friends after this infuriating scene.
“Shall we continue?” Travers directed the question at me and I gave a small nod of my head, still glaring daggers at him through my narrowed eyes. I hated him for what he had done, and I was angry at myself for being so unable to defend myself against him – and I knew in that moment, unwaveringly, that I had made the wrong choice when I decided to come here.
Travers inclined his head to me before continuing “Then let us put this behind us, for now, and return to the real reason that we are here. Usually, we would start this induction with a test of your commitment, by means of the Cruciatus Curse – but, seeing as how a few of you are still clearly under the protection of the Statue of Secrecy, and we don’t want you getting yourselves expelled from school just yet – for now, it will not be necessary”
I was hardly aware of what Travers was saying – the one thought on my mind now, was how the hell to get myself out of the mess I had so stupidly gotten myself into. The whole purpose of my coming here was so I could protect my friends, but after Travers humiliating little scene, it was quite clear to me how powerless any of us were to protect each other against these wizards who were evidently much more skilled then I had known.
“What we do require, however, is a vow from each of you of your unwavering loyalty” Travers procured a scroll of parchment from the inside of the his dark robes, which he rolled out onto a small, wooden table had just conjured in the middle of the room
“You will sign this now, as a declaration of your service to the Dark Lord – and be warned that with this contract comes a most fearful sort of magic. If any one of you betrays us, or lets your loyalty waver for even a second, then you will suffer a curse, one that brings the bearer great pain and suffering. And no matter where you run – we will find you”
My stomach dropped at his words as I realised that my decision had already been made – after coming here, and meeting the Death Eaters – the so-called fighters for Purebloods rights – I found them nothing but lowly bullies, and I adamantly refused to be a part of something that I had no passion for, and no power to control.
I knew for certain that I couldn’t sign that contract – but I could see no way to avoid it without getting myself killed. I didn’t want to abandon my friends, but I knew that if they truly did care about me – they would understand my reasons for not wanting this.
I snuck at glance at the one-eyed Death Eater, Rowle, who had not moved from his position of guarding the door. So far we had not seen any proof of his magical abilities – but from experiencing Travers alone, I was hesitant to try to make any kind of escape.
“After you have all signed I will discuss with you your expected duties while you are still at Hogwarts. Now, who will be first?” Travers questioned the lot of us – yet it was Greyback who spoke up first.
“Why not let our little princess sign first?” He rasped, stepping out of the shadows of the room and eyeing me with a look of what could only be described as hunger. I got the feeling that there was more to Greyback that met the eye. I had seen no indication of a wand, so far, and it seemed his preferred method of intimidation was his own brute strength.
I forced myself to keep my mouth shut, yet inwardly cursed Greyback for drawing attention to me once again. If there really was some kind of curse on the contract I was sure that I would be hit with it as soon as I signed, having betrayed them already.
Travers surveyed me briefly before answering “No – I think Lucius shall have the honour of signing first since he so loyally brought these young soldiers to us” He nodded to Lucius who stepped forwards “Cortez will be next”
Greyback grinned at me viciously – grabbing my arm and roughly dragging me to where Lucius stood in front of the small table. Immediately, I started to panic, thinking that my options had run out. If I signed the contract I would risk being cursed – but I had absolutely no way of escaping the small room, especially not with Rowle guarding one exit, and the only other, being the small window which I would never get open in time.
Travers pulled a small dagger from his robe, motioning for Lucius to extend his hand. With the very tip of the blade he made a small cut on the end of Lucius’ finger, which he then pressed against the parchment. Lucius removed his hand, leaving only a small dot of scarlet blood. As I watched the blood began to curl and change into a perfectly scripted letters, forming the name “Lucius Malfoy” I had an idea of how I might escape – I knew it was a long-shot, but I had to try.
I turned to Greyback, whose dirty nails were still embedding themselves tightly in my arm, and spoke loud enough to be sure that Travers would hear me .
“I need to use the bathroom”
Greyback scowled at me before barking “You can wait, stupid girl”
I held my free hand to my mouth, as if I would be sick and choked out “The blood...”
Greyback rolled his yellow eyes at my feeble complaint, clearly thinking that I wouldn’t make much of a Death Eater if I couldn’t stand the sight of a little blood.
I made a dramatic, retching motion again in a desperate attempt to drive my point in. I didn’t dare look anywhere else in the room, especially not at Lucius beside me who had known me long enough to know that I didn’t have the faintest problem with blood – I supposed all of them were awfully confused at my behaviour.
“There’s a window over there! Or would you like us to summon you a golden chalice, Your Majesty?” Greyback growled and I could sense his annoyance at my performance.
“Take the girl down to the bathroom, you dirty animal, I don’t want her to make a mess in here” Travers ordered Greyback who growled lowly in protest “Just keep your eyes on her and make sure she doesn’t do anything stupid”
I felt a small leap of joy as I hurried to the door, still with my hand covering my mouth and pretending to look horribly sick, and Rowle stepped aside to let Greyback and me out. As I made my way through the sitting room, moving as fast as I dared, I knew I had to act quickly if I had any chance of making it out of there.
I could hear Greyback complaining loudly from behind me – walking so close that I could feel his horrid breath on the back of my neck. I knew that I had to put some distance in between us, so as soon as I hit the bottom stair on the old staircase I all but ran around the bar to the bathroom, shouting loudly “I’m gonna be sick!”
Almost at the same time a yell came from the top of the stairs which I clearly identified as Travers shouting “Get that girl back here!” and I guessed that by now Lucius or one of the others would have spoken up about my lack of fear for blood.
I dashed into the bathroom, ignoring Greybacks growls to go back. I slammed the heavy door in his face and, thanking Merlin that there was a bolt on the back of it, locked it before he could realise what was going on. Now that I was in here I had to act fast – I knew I had only seconds until the door was blasted open.
Greybacks heavy fists were pounding on the door almost as loud as my heart was pounding in my ears, and I looked frantically around the room for a means to escape. It was a tiny, dim bathroom, with only two disgusting, stalls and a grime-covered sink on one wall. A small window was located above the middle of the two stalls, letting in little light. I knew at once that it was much too small for me to fit through.
There was only one other option for me to consider, and it was one that terrified me completely – I had to Apparate.
I hadn’t had much experience with apparating – I had passed my test well enough, and Bella and I had practised a couple of times over the summer – but none of those times had been under so much pressure as I was under now, and I was deadly afraid that if I got it wrong, I would be splinched.
I could hear more shouts outside the door, now from more people than just Greyback, and as soon as the banging on the wood ceased I knew a spell would break through the door at any second – I was out of time to deliberate.
I took my wand from inside my jacket, closed my eyes tightly and firmly grabbed hold of the first location that came to mind – feeling the overwhelming sensation of being tugged in every direction just as I heard the door explode.
A/N: So... I just finished this chapter and i'm really anxious about it... I hope that it lives up to your expectations of what the Death Eater meeting would be like? I just had to stay true to Alex's character of her basically being stubborn, and refusing to bow to someone she doesn't know or respect - hope you understand that? Though she has gotten herself into serious trouble and was really lucky to even get out of that room!
I also hope it wasn't too short, the next couple of chapters I think will follow on from here, this is only the beginning of the trouble Alex is in! There is still the question of where she apparated to under such pressure.
Please review! As I said i'm really anxious about this chapter so i'd love to hear what you like or didn't like so the next chapter will be awesome =) No Sirius in this chapter! He will pop up again soon though. Sorry for the long note haha thanks for reading! xo
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