Chapter 1 : Disorder and Disarray
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He was growing nervous for two separate reasons. Glancing at his watch for what seemed like the thousandth time, the man was growing increasingly more frustrated and anxious; he was becoming more and more late by the second. As if his long overdue departure was not enough, the fact that he was standing alone in a wide open marsh was extremely unsettling. Since there were no trees for as long as the eye could see in any direction, he felt a sense of nakedness; there was no source of cover for the man to use to his advantage in the event of an enemy arriving. He could not help but criticize his superiors’ choice of location; he was finding it very hard to be discreet in the middle of nowhere.
As the minutes continued to tick by, the cloaked man began to believe that something must had gone wrong. The fact that he should have left the marsh nearly an hour ago was beginning to cause the man a great deal of nervous panic. Being late in this instance was not a positive thing by any means. The pace of the man’s breath gradually began to quicken as he seriously began to consider leaving the marsh on his own accord and abandoning this dangerous mission altogether. As if his body and mind were on two different wave lengths, the man could not bring himself to break his stance as these thoughts flowed through his mind. Even though he was becoming increasingly anxious, he knew that even the slightest movement could draw attention to himself. Such attention could be disastrous.
Then, before the man could even register what had happened, he heard a small popping noise come from somewhere to his left followed by a small gust of wind. The momentary squall made his eyes water in an instant, temporarily blinding him for a second or two. His heart pounding in his chest, the man quickly scanned his surroundings once the wind had subsided but was unable to detect the source of the noise, the increasing darkness making it hard to see anything of great distance. The cloaked man stood stock still, resisting the urge to call out; instead he began to rapidly scan the area around him for any sort of movement. His eyes rapidly fluttered in every which direction, hoping to get a glimpse of who or what had apparated in to the marsh. Suddenly, the man’s heart rose to his throat at the sound of a rough voice coming from behind him.
‘What’s your name?’ the male voice called out to him, his voice stern and unwavering yet barely over a whisper. The cloaked man jumped at the surprising closeness of it. After a moment of hesitation the cloaked man drew his wand, wheeling around on the spot to identify who the voice belonged to.
‘Who wants to know?’ the cloaked man returned. He could feel a bead of sweat run down his cheek to his temple. After a brief pause, he heard the footsteps draw closer to him, the faint sound of water splashing with each step taken.
‘Show me your arm,’ the voice called out stiffly.
About ten feet away from the cloaked man, there was a tiny light shining from the tip of the unidentified man’s wand. The wand’s illuminated tip was low enough so as to only reveal his torso, his face hidden in shadow. The cloaked man took a few deep breaths, his eyes wide in anxiety. He knew that he was taking a massive risk in showing his forearm, but after a moments’ hesitation, he made his decision. Slowly walking up to the enlightened tip, the cloaked man kept his wand directly in front of him, having a curse on the tip of his tongue in case things went awry. When he got to a close distance, he slowly slid up the piece of cloak that was covering his forearm. The second man pointed his wand tip down at the newly revealed piece of flesh, revealing the symbolic skull and serpent insignia of the Death Eaters tattooed on to his very skin. The first man tried to register a glance at the newly apparated man’s face that was partially concealed by his long, overhanging hood, but upon realizing the cloaked man’s prying eyes, the second man quickly turned away, extinguishing the tip of his wand with a sharp flick.
‘We wait for one other,’ the second man growled softly, quickly turning his head in all directions, undoubtedly scanning the surrounding area for any intruders.
‘Now you show me yours,’ the first man spoke up hesitantly, stopping the now pacing second man in his tracks.
After a brief pause, the second man seemed to be content with the first man’s request, revealing the underside of his forearm for a few moments in order for his counterpart to be satisfied. He continued to pace around the surrounding area after he had done so.
‘So now all we have to do is wait for our lead,’ the first man said, his anxiousness beginning to die away now that a fellow Death Eater had finally come to the meeting spot. He hoped they did not have to wait for much longer as causing a delay would certainly displease his superiors.
‘I am the lead,’ the second man chimed back. ‘We still wait for our second.’
The first cloaked man’s mind began to race, unable to say anything back to his apparent lead. He could only wonder what had happened to his second that would make him so late. In something as strict and particular as this meeting was, the only reasons the first man could think of were all very troubling.
‘So how long do we wait?’
‘Ten minutes until we depart – with or without him,’ the lead replied. ‘Are you Auburn or Ramsay?’
‘Auburn,’ the first man answered.
‘Avery,’ the lead returned.
Neither Auburn nor Avery spoke for several moments, the two Death Eaters resigned to their own thoughts. As Auburn’s mind wandered, he could not help but feel slightly ashamed at the great lengths that the Death Eaters had to stoop to in order to meet without detection. Even though Auburn had only been a member of Lord Voldemort’s followers since just before the Battle of Hogwarts, he knew that current times were radically different from what they once were. To him, the Death Eaters were a body without a head; a large, disorganized group who were fearful about being caught by the investigating Aurors. This constant fear and meeting in secret only bred a lack of confidence amongst the ranks. Still, the less than satisfactory conditions the Death Eaters were currently placed in seemed to evoke a drive in Auburn – and many other Death Eaters alike – to re-instate the times of old and rise to power once again.
A loud pop, similar to the one he had heard only a few minutes ago, interrupted Auburn’s thoughts. Both he and Avery whisked their heads around quickly in order to discover who had apparated to the marsh. Avery drew his wand quickly, Auburn following his lead a half second later as they both stared in the same direction. They quickly saw the cloaked figure emerge from the darkness, their wands unwavering in the presence of the newly apparated.
‘Put your wands down,’ the figure called out as he walked briskly towards Avery and Auburn. He lifted up his cloak, revealing the Dark Mark on his forearm in a casual, tiresome manner. Avery and Auburn took a sideways glance at each other and then slowly lowered their wands.
‘You’re late Ramsay – we were about to leave without you… I’d mind showing your arm so freely in the future as well. You never know who could be watching...’ Avery said coolly, not looking at him.
Ramsay stopped only a few inches away from Avery, Auburn noticing that the newly apparated Death Eater’s eyes were scanning the area as both he and Avery had done earlier. Though it was growing increasingly dark, Auburn could see a few strands of Ramsay’s reddish hair underneath the hood that he wore over his head; a hood that he wore in the same manner that Avery was.
Then, before Auburn could move a muscle, Avery took an unsuspecting Ramsay by the collar, roughly tossing him on to the swampy ground. A large splash of water and mud hit Avery’s face as Ramsay’s body hit the ground hard. Avery hurriedly took out his wand and pointed it squarely at Ramsay’s chest, its tip only a few inches away.
‘What the bloody hell is this?!’ Ramsay protested loudly, not taking his eyes off of Avery’s wand. His cloak was soaked, his face covered in dirty swamp water and mud.
‘Who are you working for?!’ Avery demanded, anger seething in his face as he uttered each word clearly.
‘Working for... are you outside your mind?!’ Ramsay called back in disbelief. ‘I’m a Death Eater you fool! What sort of rubbish is this?!
‘You lie,’ Avery said quickly, his wand moving closer to the downed and soaked Ramsay. ‘How come you were so late getting here? Did you need extra time in order to jinx the real Ramsay and transform in to him?
‘Get that wand out of my face before I give you an actual reason to point it at me…’
‘You have ten seconds to prove to me that you are... who you claim to be! I don’t care how – just do it!’ Avery continued threateningly, positioning his wand closer to Ramsay’s face. Auburn – who had not moved in the slightest since the altercation began – finally spoke, realizing something that he had not at first.
‘Now let’s hold on now Avery,’ he cautioned, raising both his hands in front of him. ‘I believe that there is a very simple way that can tell us if this is the real Ramsay,’ he said quietly, trying not to anger his lead. Still not taking his eyes off his downed adversary, Avery replied, his wand inches away from Ramsay’s nose. Ramsay was trying his best to look defiant in his prone, sitting position on the swampy ground, but Auburn could see his chest rising and falling quickly.
‘And what is that Auburn?’
‘Well... I’ve seen him before... We were both inducted in to the Death Eaters together.’
‘As correct as you could be Auburn, that still does not prove to me that this Ramsay is the real one,’ Avery responded harshly.
‘Would you get that bloody wand out of my face?!’ Ramsay roared at Avery. The lead did not budge.
‘True,’ Auburn replied calmly, trying to diffuse this volatile situation as fast as possible. ‘But if he can answer some simple questions that only I and a few other Death Eaters know the answers to, then he must be the real Ramsay…’
Avery considered the proposal made by Auburn for a moment, tilting his head to the side as he examined Ramsay. After a moment of contemplation, Avery nodded his head slightly, giving Auburn the approval he needed to ask his question.
‘Alright then,’ Auburn began, pacing around Avery and Ramsay for a moment before beginning. ‘How many others were present on the night we were both inducted?’
‘Two,’ Ramsay answered immediately, looking up at Avery unblinkingly after he relayed his answer.
‘Auburn – do you honestly believe that a question as simple as that has left with me no doubt as to this Ramsay’s true allegiance?’ Avery growled as he advanced his wand closer to Ramsay who had made a small attempt at getting up off of the wet and muddy ground.
‘And how many of us were late that night?’ Auburn continued, not taking in to account what Avery had said.
‘None of us,’ Ramsay said loudly, not taking his eyes off of Avery as he spoke. ‘But Rabastan – the one who inducted each of us… he deliberately did not show up on time in order to test our nerves.’
‘These are answers that he could have gotten out of the real –’
‘And what is it that I said to you – the only thing I said to anybody after the ceremony was over?’ Auburn asked, interrupting the flustered Avery. There was a slight pause before Ramsay spoke again, still not unlocking his stare from Avery who still had not withdrawn his wand.
‘It’s time to take back what is ours... it’s time to do the work that Lord Voldemort has requested of us...’
Auburn nodded slowly. None of the three spoke for quite some time, Avery’s face contorted in a way that made him look as if he wanted nothing more than to jinx Ramsay right then and there. Finally, Avery turned away from the downed Ramsay, putting his wand back in to his robes. Hastily, Ramsay propped himself up from the swampy ground, letting out a large gasp as he stood. As he pulled out his wand and began to clean himself up, Ramsay spoke loudly, his voice echoing out in to the empty swamp.
‘And you are the one who is supposedly leading us?’
‘The reason for your lateness... what is it?’ asked Avery vigorously, ignoring Ramsay’s question.
Ramsay merely shook his head at first as he continued to clean his robes. For a moment, Auburn questioned whether Ramsay was going to say anything at all, but was ultimately relieved when he did. The last thing that Auburn wanted was more tension between his fellow Death Eaters; the evening was already full of it.
‘I had a suspicion I was being followed,’ Ramsay said quietly. ‘I did not want to take any chance of giving away our location so I waited until I thought it was proper to apparate here. There. Is that good enough for you, or would you like to question me on that too?’
Auburn grimaced at Ramsay’s response; he knew that Avery was only looking out for the interests of the Death Eaters as a whole, but the short tempered Ramsay seemed to be taking it much more personally than a mere precaution on their leads’ part. Before Auburn could even think of something to say to try and ease the tension, Avery responded.
‘If you two would come here... we are already very late. They will begin to think we have lost our way.’ Auburn admired Avery’s patience. He was thankful that Ramsay’s jibes were not having any sort of detrimental effect on Avery’s ability to lead and to keep the mission in focus.
‘Well let’s wait a second now,’ Ramsay responded loudly. ‘What makes you think that we are just going to trust you? How do we know that you are who you say you are?’ Avery merely shook his head; Auburn could see that he was slowly beginning to grow frustrated with Ramsay.
‘Look,’ Ramsay said to Auburn, ‘he doesn’t even respond! How do we know he can be trusted?!’ Ramsay pulled out his wand, slowly advancing on the unmoving Avery who only stared back.
‘Now listen here,’ Auburn began after gulping so loudly that he could almost hear it. ‘This is not the time for this –’
‘But it was the ‘time for this’ when I show up late, right?’ Ramsay interrupted emphatically. Ramsay was now only a foot away from Avery, his wand held only a few inches away from the lead Death Eater. ‘How do we know that he can be trusted? HOW DO WE KNOW YOU CAN BE TRUSTED?!’
Auburn took a step forward, pausing when he saw Avery take his own wand out of his robes. The two men did not waver from their stance at first, but something about the look in Avery’s cold, unforgiving eyes made Ramsay regress. Ramsay’s angry, focused expression turned to one of tentativeness; he looked somewhat ashamed of what he had done after just a few seconds of locking eyes with Avery. As Ramsay took a step back, lowering his wand as he did so, Avery stood stock still..
‘I am one of Lord Voldemort’s oldest and most trusted Death Eaters. How dare you question me,’ he hissed. Auburn could see Ramsay’s eyes glisten in the moonlight as he took another step backwards, his foot making a large splashing noise as he stepped in to a particularly large puddle. ‘Now – if we can put all of this rubbish behind us.. I think it would be best if we leave this place immediately.’
This time, Ramsay did not need any more prodding. The three put away their wands, Ramsay not having the courage to even look at Avery as he joined him at the arm. Auburn could tell that Ramsay was regretting his questioning of Avery but something told him that there were many issues regarding the Death Eaters that Ramsay was bitter about. He was not sure if it was his rebellious demeanor or the air of cockiness that he gave off from the moment he arrived, but Auburn thought it best to keep his distance from Ramsay for the time being.
Once Auburn had joined Avery on the opposite arm that Ramsay was loosely grasping, he felt the familiar sensation that one felt when apparating. He saw the dark and dreary swamp vanish in front of him and after a moment or two of losing his bearings, he found himself on level ground once again. Looking around at his new surroundings, Auburn quickly realized that he – along with Avery and Ramsay – were in some sort of alleyway. Looking to his left, he could see the images of fluorescent signage that served as the only sources of light in the area. The alley was lined with black metal gates that had to be opened to reach the occasional old and deteriorated door. As Auburn took a step forward, he noticed the ground was wet; a few puddles of water were situated in the spots where the pavement was uneven. The sheer length of the alley forbid any of the distant street noise from reaching the three Death Eaters; Auburn could not detect any other sort of life at either end of the alley.
‘This way,’ Avery whispered, taking out his wand yet again from the inside of his robes. Without hesitation, Auburn and Ramsay followed closely behind their lead.
Neither Auburn nor Ramsay uttered a single word as Avery quickly led them down the alleyway. Following the example of their lead, the two Death Eaters glanced all around them periodically, making sure that no one was following them. Auburn thought back to what Ramsay had said earlier as Avery led them down a side alley that was even darker and narrower than its predecessor. As he followed Avery down the narrow alley to seemingly nowhere, Auburn began to seriously question if Ramsay’s accusation of Avery had some merit to it after all.
These thoughts only elevated when Avery had come to a dead end, his hand pressing against the brick side of a building. Auburn subconsciously began reaching for his wand from the inside of his robes, worriedly glancing over at Ramsay who wore an expression mixed of fear and anger. Ramsay’s next words were said with such force that it nearly made Auburn drop his wand.
‘Hold up! Stop right there!’ Ramsay called loudly, pointing his wand at the back of Avery’s head. ‘I see you retrieving your wand – don’t even think about it!’
Avery stood still for a moment, slowly turning around to face Ramsay. He was holding his wand in his right hand – just as Ramsay had suspected. Auburn had his hand firmly gripped on his wand, not believing that it appeared that Ramsay had been right about Avery this entire time. It was a few moments before either man spoke again.
‘Now listen here,’ Avery began quietly, a hint of impatience traced through his voice. ‘If you allow me to do what I have been instructed to, you will see the reason why we are here.’
Auburn glanced from his right to his left, watching for any drastic move on the part of his two acquaintances. Yet again, Avery was the next to speak.
‘What would you do? Jinx me here in the alley?’ Avery taunted. ‘Sure – that would solve all of our problems, wouldn’t it?’
Obviously knowing his adversary’s mental defeat, Avery turned his back on Ramsay slowly. As Auburn relinquished the hold on his own wand, he noticed that Ramsay had stuffed his wand back in to his robes dejectedly. It was the second time that Avery had slithered his way out of Ramsay’s accusations successfully which to Auburn, showed Avery’s cunningness and intimidating presence. Too afraid and confused to do anything more, Auburn watched Avery as he waved his wand over the wall.
A second later, a bright light enveloped a part of the brick wall. Though the section of enlightened brick was barely large enough for someone to fit through, the power of the light was great, evidenced by the fact that both Auburn and Ramsay had to shield their eyes with their arms. With his wand, Avery tapped the center of the lit-up brick wall, its brightness being extinguished as quickly as it had ignited. For a brief moment nothing happened; the three men all stood there staring at the wall, waiting for something to happen.
They did not have to wait long for that very something to occur. Starting from the top, the wall began to seemingly melt away, a dim light gradually filling the narrow alleyway where Auburn and Ramsay stood curiously. It only took a few seconds for the entire wall to fall in to nothingness, the image of a dingy and dirty looking lavatory filling the views of the three Death Eaters. Without any more hesitation, Avery stepped in to the dimly lit lavatory, Auburn and Ramsay following their lead after a small nod to each other.
They quickly crossed the small, broken tiled lavatory, the wall rebuilding itself after they were all inside. Auburn took one last glance at the small alley outside, knowing that his last chance of escape if things went wrong had just come and gone. Avery slowly opened the opposite door that appeared to lead in to a small hallway; he put up his hand as a way to signal to Auburn and Ramsay that they were to wait where they were.
Neither Death Eater spoke to each other while Avery was gone, wondering where exactly they were. The smelly odor of the lavatory stung Auburn’s nostrils as he examined the broken pieces of wall tile that littered the dirty floor. Auburn was thankful when Avery reappeared from the outside hallway, the lead Death Eater motioning for them to follow him. Old autographed photos lined the narrow hallway that was adorned with an old looking red carpet and ancient looking patterned wallpaper that was chipped and folded over. The photos told Auburn that this was some sort of a Muggle dwelling. The people inside of the frames were not moving.
Rounding a corner, Auburn gasped loudly, Avery flicking his wand instinctively which muted Auburn’s mistake. What lay in front of him was a Muggle; he was wearing an unbuttoned dress shirt and glasses that were slightly askew. They were askew, Auburn noticed, because the Muggle man was undoubtedly fast asleep which disappointed Auburn slightly; he preferred his Muggles dead. The Muggle was sitting at a little reception desk, his right arm propped up on the desk which supported his drooping head. Sighing, Auburn continued to follow Avery past the sleeping Muggle, making another left, but not before taking a glimpse in to a very large room. He could see the shadows of people moving and the noise of glasses clinking. Auburn deduced that they were in some sort of pub.
After passing the sleeping host, they rounded down a flight of stairs in the opposite direction from whence they came, the old and tattered looking red carpet following their feet down the creaking steps. When the three came to the end of the staircase, they were greeted by a man dressed in the same dress shirt that the sleeping host had been wearing. The man (who stood in front of a door marked ‘Storage’) examined Avery expectantly. Avery pulled down the sleeve of his cloak to show the man the image of the Dark Mark on his forearm. With a slight nod, the man opened the door he was guarding, closing it shut behind him once the three Death Eaters were inside.
‘About time...’ a man who Auburn knew as Rodolphous Lestrange called out from the front of the room. Avery left his two companions in order to join him and a small group of others who stood over the rest.
As Auburn and Ramsay took their seats (which were in the form of overturned wine barrels) the slow murmuring of the other Death Eaters slowly died away, the attention of the thirty or so directed at where Rodolphous and his brother Rabastan stood. Joining the Lestrange brothers and Avery at the back of the room were two other head Death Eaters who Auburn knew as Yaxley and Nott. Looking to his left, he noticed the Carrows muttering to each other as the silence reverberated through the storage room. It was not long before the silence was broken by the voice of Rodolphous.
‘We’ve called this meeting here tonight as a way to regroup after last months’... catastrophe...’ he said, his last words uttered with his eyes tightly shut as if the very words themselves pained him greatly. ‘Allowing the Aurors to infiltrate and destroy Riddle House has left us without a permanent home... and as a result, our impromptu meeting takes place here tonight.’
‘I say we go show those Muggles above us a taste of our hospitality,’ Alecto Carrow screeched, pointing up at the low ceiling, her statement being met with a variety of approvals by a group of Death Eaters sitting close by. ‘What I’d do to get my hands on some innocent little Muggles...’
‘It would certainly be something to do Alecto,’ a tall Death Eater Auburn did not recognize replied loudly. ‘We all know how busy we have been lately…’ he finished off sarcastically.
‘That would be ill-advised. Any attention drawn to us would be counter-productive at this point... though in due time, it will be time to take action,’ Avery responded seemingly putting an end to these rebellious thoughts.
‘Though our ranks are not what they once were, as you can see here tonight, our forces are slowly being replenished,’ Nott said.
‘And it seems as if we are about to be joined by one more,’ Yaxley growled quietly.
‘Who’s that?’ a couple of Death Eaters called out at once. Rabastan, after a small grin to his brother, spoke a name that Auburn would never have predicted.
‘Why of course, we are speaking of the offspring of one of our former comrades! Draco Malfoy.’
Malfoy’s name was met with severe protest. Nearly every Death Eater in the room voiced their aversion to Malfoy’s induction all at once. Rabastan put up his hands in an effort to silence the jeers, Avery speaking loudly over them in order to be heard.
‘Now listen up! We met with Draco just the other week! We believe that he has the best of intensions in helping us return to power once again. He could turn out to be a key asset as a spy for us inside the Ministry.’
‘But what makes you think that we all approve of this decision?’ Amycus Carrow called out. ‘Some of us here don’t trust the little Malfoy or the rest of that family!’
‘Unfortunately, your statement is of little to no importance, I regret in stating, Amycus,’ Rabastan replied with a smile, brushing some of his long, dark hair out of his eyes. ‘I suspect that you are of the understanding that Lord Voldemort had communicated through his portrait to us – his most trusted confidants.’
Rabastan spoke in a way that Auburn could only describe as musical. He stressed the harsher letters, giving his speech a sense of strength and harsh fluidity. His speech seemed to carry a tune, lulling his conversational adversary in to a sense of security. Auburn wondered whether the charismatic, showman-like Rabastan would take advantage of this gift; he had heard stories from others that the Lestrange brother – in a sudden instant – could attack like a preying viper upon his prey.
‘Now – I am willing to wager that you yourself would like to be in my knowledgeable position, but let me assure you... this is something that I – like everyone else up here – have undoubtedly earned. Intention is frequent upon all of us here tonight, but capability... that is another question in it of itself. So, to get back to your original statement... it ultimately is of no matter what you believe because put simply, you are not in any position to make such significant decisions! If the Dark Lord wishes to reintroduce the Malfoy boy to our ranks, then that is what will occur. Does this at all seem too harsh? I would really despise myself for quelling any sort of audacity that may exist inside your depths,’ finished Rabastan with a grin that seemed to paradoxically mix kindness with an underlying threat.
‘N-No. Not harsh,’ Amycus stuttered, looking at his feet.
‘That’s a relief!’ Rabastan said joyfully. ‘It really would have been a shame to lose one of our ranks... one who – regrettably – failed to successfully combat a band of unusually powerful... erm... students... a couple of weeks ago...’
No one spoke for a few moments, Rabastan seemingly taking great joy at what he had said. Even some of the head Death Eaters appeared uneasy by Rabastan’s ability to influence another through speech. Though he was still fairly new to the Death Eaters, Auburn had clearly learned over the course of the last year that many of the Death Eaters respected Rabastan above the others – including the other Head Death Eaters. Nott took it upon himself to continue the conversation, speaking of Malfoy once again.
‘Even if he turns out to be a dud, he is one of the prime targets of the Aurors! It would be opportune if we can bring him over to our side before the Aurors can influence him to do the same... at least this way we can keep a better eye on him.’
The protest seemed to die down with these words, no one in the room daring to question the wishes of Lord Voldemort.
‘Mulciber – Jugson… it appears clear to me that you have had little to no success so far at the Ministry – you have not infiltrated the premises as we have requested of you...’ Rodolphous called to a couple of Death Eaters sitting in the front rows.
‘N-No not yet, Rodolphous. Give us just one more chance... We are trying,’ Mulciber responded after glancing at what had to be Jugson. His last sentence was more a plea rather than a statement.
‘Pity...’ Rodolphous responded after a brief moment of examination. ‘It appears as if we are going to have to take over. The distraction... is an integral part of our plan – it is something we need in order for our acquaintance to carry out their work and in turn, work that has been requested of us...’ Rodolphous continued, glancing to his fellow head Death Eaters. ‘It seems as if you two are unable to perform the most simplest of tasks...’
‘What do you mean by “distraction”? What are you talking about Rodolphous?’ Ramsay called out from beside Auburn.
‘That is none of your business right now,’ Avery said quite loudly, his frustration with Ramsay continuing. ‘Once the assignment has been carried out, we will relay the next steps to all of you at that time…’
‘It’s not right to keep us in the dark on everything,’ Ramsay replied, though with less enthusiasm as his previous statement.
‘Here, here,’ Alecto called out enthusiastically, making Ramsay flash a brief smile at the support.
‘Regardless,’ Rabastan interrupted loudly, ignoring Alecto’s statement, ‘assignments will be provided to those who have earned our conviction… though as Mulciber and Jugson have demonstrated to us this evening, even we can be misguided in parlaying that trust from time to time…’
‘Now we all know our primary objective, correct?’ Rodolphous called out roughly, his coarse voice reverberating throughout the room. Auburn worried for a moment that the Muggles above would hear the goings-on of the meeting, but he quickly realized that proper protective enchantments would have been cast throughout the room in order to prevent any sort of attention to it. ‘Good. Then there is no need to repeat it. My brother and I have reason to believe that we are closing in on our target that Lord Voldemort has instructed us to seek out. Soon enough, once we have retrieved him, we shall have the knowledge and the power to bring back the Dark Lord once and for all…’ Rodolphous’ statement was met with positive cheering throughout the room. However, turning around amidst his slow clap, Auburn glanced at the smug Ramsay whose arms were folded in a disapproving manner.
‘Now, forgive me,’ Ramsay said sarcastically, breaking up the cheering as everyone turned in his direction. ‘But how do we know that this will lead to Lord Voldemort’s return?’
Ramsay was speaking in a way that he had not all night thus far. It seemed as if Amycus’ agreement with Ramsay earlier had lit a fire underneath him. He appeared to possess a renewed confidence about himself, allowing him to speak of his true feelings and pursue them further.
‘From when I was just a child I was taught that no magic could ever... ever raise a soul from the dead once they have departed this world. What makes you think we are all just going to go along with your little charade? I think it is time we got some real answers and none of this malarkey that you usually give us.’
No one spoke. Instead, every single Death Eater in the room turned to where Rabastan, Rodolphous and the rest stood. The head Death Eaters were all eying Ramsay with a look of utmost dislike while the rest looked upon him with a mix of approval, disregard and complete shock. Rabastan simply smiled in his direction. Ramsay had said what every other Death Eater had on their mind; even Auburn could not help but side with Ramsay. Still, what he did not side with was the way he was presenting his frustration.
‘That’s the second time now that you have spoken when you should not have, Ramsay,’ Avery responded through gritted teeth. ‘It’s time you learn some –’
‘Keep your head Avery,’ Rabastan interrupted, putting a hand on Avery’s shoulder to curb his obvious frustration with Ramsay that had built up throughout the night. ‘I ask you permission to let me take it from here. Am I correct in suggesting that your journey with Mr. Ramsay to our meeting place this evening was one of... turbulence?’ Avery nodded his head slowly, his eyes still transfixed on Ramsay. Rabastan closed his eyes for a moment as he continued. ‘As I suspected.’
‘Are you going to answer me, or are you going to take care of your boyfriend here while we all wait for answers!’ spat Ramsay roughly.
Rabastan smiled, jumping down off the steps where the head Death Eaters were standing and on to the floor where the rest were sitting. Auburn could feel all the tense eyes of every Death Eater in the room focused on Rabastan who slowly began to pace towards Ramsay. Many Death Eaters took a step or two away from Rabastan as he licked his lips methodically.
‘Even more troubling than your loose tongue, which I must point out is discourteous and ill-timed, are the actual details your loose tongue is speaking of. If you are, in fact, loyal to our righteous cause, then our word should be an example that you should be only too pleased to pursue. Surely not a source of your questioning! I sincerely do hope that there are no underlying problems with any, if not all, of us.’
‘And what if there is? I’m sure that I am not the only one in this room who doesn’t like the way we are being led!’ Ramsay replied forcefully, Auburn subconsciously distancing himself from Ramsay who now stood up off of his overturned wine barrel. ‘Who’s with me?’
His address of the thirty or so other Death Eaters in the room did not prompt anyone to respond. Even the Carrows themselves only looked down in to their laps, either not brave enough to respond or not wanting to cross their leads and by extension, Lord Voldemort himself.
‘It appears,’ Rabastan began, his hand gesturing around the room as he continued to pace closer to Ramsay, ‘that you have underestimated the degree to which your fellow Death Eaters would side with your obscure ideology. There are many routes I can go – concerning what to do with a troubled member of our organization – but which is the right one to travel down? It leaves me utterly disconcerted. Do you have any suggestions?’
Auburn could see a lump grow in Ramsay’s throat as a result of Rabastan’s conversational tactic, his hand moving to the insides of his robes as he took a step backwards, his heel kicking in to the wine barrel that he had previously been sitting on. Ramsay’s eyes were beginning to water, the head Death Eaters not taking their eyes off the retreating Death Eater.
‘Departure is not the way to solve this, if I may answer for you,’ Rabastan whispered as he observed Ramsay’s movement, moving ever closer to him as every Death Eater examined the scene in front of him. ‘Those of us that will be here still have much to discuss before we adjourn tonight.’
‘And what if I do leave!’ Ramsay called back bravely, Auburn seeing that he now had his wand in his hand as he continued to take small steps backwards towards the door. ‘What if I don’t want to play your games anymore?! What if I just want out?!’
‘Hmm. Very well. An unfortunate turn of events...’ Rabastan replied, half-turning to Rodolphous, Avery and Nott who wore serious expressions on their faces. Contrary to them, Rabastan looked to be enjoying himself, his face care-free as he licked his lips yet again. ‘My answer to that would probably be quite simple... Your usefulness to us has been... exhausted.’ Rabastan’s words sent a chill up Auburn’s spine as he looked back at Ramsay, his expression one of downright fear now.
‘N-No... P-Please...’ His wand was now held out in front of him, quivering in his fear.
‘Oh, you must be understanding of our predicament,’ Rabastan continued, taking his wand out of his pocket in a casual fashion, gesturing it to Ramsay loosely. ‘If you leave here tonight, how do we know that you would be truthful to the Aurors who would almost certainly question you? You must realize this decision is completely impersonal, but rather one relating to our enduring function. You mustn’t be distressed. From what I’ve heard – which admittedly, I would take with a rather large pinch of salt, evidenced by the fact that I have never felt this before – you won’t feel this even in the slightest.’
Ramsay opened his mouth to speak, but neither Auburn, nor anyone else in the room heard what he was about to say.
Auburn did not even hear Rabastan’s incantation. A flash of green light later and Ramsay crumpled in to a heap on the dusty ground of the storage room, a cloud rising up from his deceased body. Wide-eyed, Auburn only looked upon the lifeless body of Ramsay, unable to take his eyes off of it. As he exhaled loudly, feeling light-headed all of a sudden, Auburn heard the cheery yet threatening, fluid voice of Rabastan coming from what seemed like a substantial distance away.
‘Now... I pray we can return to our assembly now... That is, of course, unless someone else has anything to say?’
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