Chapter 21 : The Coronation
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A/N: Okay, so we all know that Draco becoming a Death Eater was canon, but what happened while he was being inducted? This is what this chapter is all about, and I only mentioned this because its one of my favorite chapters throughout the whole story and I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions after you read it. Enjoy!
Draco wondered if there was some magical law that slowed time when you were excited for an occasion and sped it up when you were dreading one. The week couldn’t have gone by faster. He tried to avoid Ashley at all costs, too ashamed to look at her. Unsurprisingly, she came every night, sitting beside him in the darkness, merely his rock of silent support. Knowing what could happen in the next few days paralyzed him and what he felt for her hit him like the full force of an ocean.
He couldn’t live without her; he had fearfully come to that conclusion. As she lay there in his arms, silent while gently stroking the chest of his grey shirt, something dark stirred within him. She had become the breath to his life, the blood in his veins and the reason for his existence. He didn’t ever think that he would be lucky enough to figure out his purpose in the Wizarding World, but it was then, on that Thursday night, that he knew. She was made for him to love.
But yet he had failed her, in every way.
He listened to her breathing, feeling her chest rise and fall with his and wondered if this would be one of the last times. Surely it wouldn’t be, he tried to reassure himself, but if he was deemed unfit for the task, there was no telling what Voldemort would decide. He had learned from his father that he could be ruthless and quick to judge, but also willing to overlook mistakes. It was Voldemort moodiness that unnerved his followers the most and although many were anxious to prove their loyalty, most just wanted to stay in the shadows, unnoticed and undisturbed.
In his heart of hearts, he was angry with her. Angry with her for making him feel this way. He had accepted long ago that he was one of those who would skate by in life. He had a feeling that he would be successful in whatever he did, but never a standout. He was too emotionless, too cold and disconnected, to ever get anywhere worth any particular value surrounded by people he didn’t particularly care about. Draco didn’t have any thoughts of remaining in contact with any of his classmates when they graduated, nor did he have any wish to. He imagined he would move somewhere in the city to be close to his mother and work where he would devote his entire life to his career, because he never thought of having anything else.
Draco never imagined getting married. He hated to admit it, but he was too lazy and stubborn to have a desire to work at a relationship. He wasn’t someone who was easily amused and content with what he had. He had grown up in wealth beyond his knowledge. Throughout his life, he had been given anything he wanted, as soon as he wanted it. He was never one to wait for the latest fashion in robes, broomsticks, or girls. He had his choice of everything he ever wanted, and the idea of committing to the same one thing bore him; he wasn’t interested in dealing with divorces and dividing estates. It wasn’t a matter of guilt over breaking someone’s heart, but allowing a woman to walk away with half his possession’s that would deem him a lesser Malfoy.
Since Draco had no interest in marriage, there was no way in hell he was having children. He saw them as a cesspool of germs with runny noses and sticky hands, contaminating whatever they touched. He couldn’t see any benefit they provided other than sucking out parents’ time and money. How did they reward anyone? They were constantly getting into trouble and doing things they weren’t supposed to. They weren’t worth it.
Because he hadn’t been worth it.
His father had taught him that enough times. He had been a burden, a fact he was constantly reiterated by the bruises that decorated his body. Just as one healed, another took its place. Lucius never allowed for his porcelain skin to be flawless, as if he never wanted Draco to forget the hatred he felt for his only child. Not even his mother’s unwavering love could fill the gaping wound in his heart, throbbing in absence of a father’s affection.
If he was so worthless, how could he ever produce something half decent?
Draco knew he was destined to be what everyone else didn’t dare tell him, what every girl whispered into another’s ear when they weren’t blushing in his presence, what he was sure every professor thought about him when he failed to answer a question due to his lack of will to pay attention: a worthless, unlovable, narcissistic git.
But when he looked at Ashley, when he kissed her and looked into her sparkling eyes, flooding with affection for him, he wanted to be something more than what everyone else thought. He wanted to be a better person, even if she was the only one who would ever see it. As he stroked her silky hair, he was perfectly content in not having all the answers. He wasn’t concerned about venturing into an unknown world, ignorant of the knowledge required of him to get by. He wasn’t worried about the future, or what his life would turn out to be like.
Because he knew that she would be with him.
And when he looked at her, his whole perspective of himself changed. He didn’t want to be nothing but an abused man; he wanted to be a loving father to her children. He wanted to fight for her, die for her, do anything to keep her by his side. He pined, painfully, to mean as much to her as she did to him. She defined him and he knew that the necessity wasn’t mutual. She was confident, independent, absolutely adored by everyone she ever came into contact with and self-sufficient. Ashley Delacour didn’t need him, however much she wanted to convince herself otherwise.
It was this realized fear that kept him going. It was the fear of losing her fueling him to get through the next day. She had changed him for the better and he knew, even if he never saw her again, that he was eternally forever in her debt because of it.
How could he explain all of this to her? He had to do it tonight, for she did not know where he was going tomorrow evening. He wished with all his might that he could tell her, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He had to lie to her.
“I-I’m going home for the weekend.” He lied poorly, hoping she overlooked his deceiving tone.
“I know.” She looked up at him. “You told me.”
Draco looked at her strangely, having absolutely no recollection of telling her anything. How much had he revealed?
“It’s nothing to worry about.” He tried again. “I’m just visiting my parents.”
Ashley smiled gently at him, “Draco, you told me…everything.”
Draco looked at her, trying to suppress the rising panic within him. Why couldn’t he remember this?
“I t-told you?” He stuttered, trying to not give too much away, “What did I tell you?”
“Everything that’s going to be on the test.” She told him.
He knew this was supposed to mean something by her tone, which also conveyed that he couldn’t ask outright for whatever reason. This was code, but he couldn’t remember for what.
“The test?” He repeated.
“You weren’t supposed to tell our class,” Ashley stared at him hard, like she was trying to get her brainwaves through his thick skull. “Professor Sprout would’ve been very mad if she found out. She threatened us with memory charms if it leaked that students were talking about it.”
Then that it clicked. Draco nodded slowly; fear began to consume his body as he realized that he had told her everything and removed the memory.
“There’s a lot on that test.” Draco told her.
“I know,” Ashley nodded, “but you told me everything.”
“I did?” Draco’s face fell.
So she knew then, that he might not return?
Ashley stroked his cheek tenderly, smiling sadly, “Yes, love, you did.”
She pushed him back down on the bed, resting her head on his shoulder once more.
“I wish I could give you something.” Her soft voice pierced the darkness, “It helps me when I have a token from someone to get through something frightening.”
“It’s probably better that you don’t.” He answered her. He wanted so badly to express his feelings to her, but the chance of Legilimency was too great. He would have to wait until he survived his coronation. Until then, he struggled to keep up with the code, “If they saw that I have something of yours, they may suspect me of cheating.”
Ashley was silent for a minute.
“You’ll come back, won’t you?” She asked, lifting her head to look at him, “You’re not going to leave me?”
Draco tried with all his might to smile for her, to make her feel better, but he grimaced instead. “I’m sure they’ll let me finish the test. I wouldn’t get a very good grade if I didn’t.”
Ashley sat up, looking at him. “What does that mean…for us?”
Draco frowned. He had never had this discussion before and wasn’t sure how to respond, not that he could respond fully. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, but knew that being a branded man would cause severe complications. They would constantly have to be on the run.
“I don’t know.” He answered truthfully. “I guess we’ll have to wait until Sprout grades it.”
At seven o’clock, Draco could be found sitting in the Great Hall, pushing around the whole of his meal that he hadn’t touched since he arrived. He had worried himself sick, pains so great clenched at his stomach that he wanted to throw up. He was terrified and he was struggling not to show it. He tried avoiding the eyes of Professor Snape, who, in his usual state of glaring at everyone, looked at Draco with a hard expression.
He caught the sight of Ashley, who was looking so sullen that not even Harry, who nudged at her playfully, wondering if he had heard his joke, could cheer her up. Ashley gave him a side glace and a weak smile, shuffling her food again. She looked at Harry through the corner of her eyes and just when he had given interest to something Ron was doing, Ashley looked up at Draco again. He rose slowly, putting his hands in his pockets as he looked towards the doors then back at her.
Draco waited for her in the Entrance hall. When she entered through the arched doors, she stood there for a moment, unsure of how to proceed.
“Don’t get all sentimental on me.” He growled weakly, shuffling his feet.
Ashley’s attempt to smile at him turned into a grimace as she grabbed for his hand, thumbing the cold skin.
“Okay.” Her voiced cracked, avoiding his eyes.
“I’ll probably be back tomorrow morning.” Draco assured her, but unsure if he would return that soon, if at all.
Ashley touched his sleeve awkwardly, leaning back onto her heels to catch herself from moving towards him, a twitch that didn’t go unnoticed by Draco. He looked at her, a pain wrenching at his heart, as he watched her attempt to restrain herself. She was trying to calm him, he knew, by her lack of touch, saving them for his return, as if his departure was nothing more than an evening outing.
“Will you wake me when you get back?” She asked.
“If it’s not too late.” He answered
“I don’t care what time it is.” She retorted, “Please, Draco, send your hawk for me. My bed is right next to the window in Gryffindor tower.”
He nodded his head, but wasn’t willing to promise her. He would need time to think about things before he showed her.
Ashley recognized this and nodded her head somberly in defeat.
“Mr. Malfoy, I believe it is time.”
They turned to see Snape standing in front of the two doors, glaring at Ashley.
She looked back at him, but before she could say another word, Draco gave her a hard, quick kiss and brushed her aside. Ashley stood there, biting her lip with worry, as she watched her whole heart walk out the door.
The cold air attacked them as soon as they stepped out of the warm confinements of the castle. The moon was bright and lit the grass with its light, casting eerie shadows over the lake and Forbidden Forest. Draco mumbled a warming charm into his cloak, wrapping it around him tightly.
“A word of advice?” Snape’s drawl filled the silence.
“It would be welcome, sir.” Draco answered.
“This is a great…honor.” Snape began slowly, “Do not let the Dark Lord think that you may feel otherwise…even if you do.”
“Yes, sir.” Draco answered simply, not wanting to entice anymore conversation. Talking about it was making his heart pump harder with every step. Was it too late to turn back now? Couldn’t he just live in the castle forever, protected by its enchantments?
He could see a small cluster of dark figures waiting by the gate. Draco hoped, with all his might, that Voldemort wasn’t among them. Although, as he thought about it, could he really have gotten that close to the castle? He didn’t know and didn’t want to dwell on it any longer; surely the Dark Lord couldn’t have thought him that special to make a personal appearance. Voldemort doesn’t come to anyone, he assured himself.
“He is due back by tomorrow afternoon.” Snape said to his father, whose pale face emerged from his large hood. “Make it quick, Lucius.”
“The Dark Lord does not like to spend time idly.” Lucius answered coldly, “He will carry out his needs and dismiss Draco.”
The large cast-iron gates swung open and Draco stepped through, not sure whether or not Lucius was worse than Voldemort. He took one last look at Snape as the gates closed back on him, his thoughts pleading with him to take him back to the other side, where the gates separated safety from hell.
Draco’s arm was grabbed roughly as Lucius pulled him away from the gate, down the rolling hill towards the empty train station.
Draco was so petrified he didn’t even realize that the voices emitting mindless chatter were Crabbe and Goyle’s fathers. The breeze carried a stench that almost made Draco keel over, a musk that could only have been emitted by the largest mass of them all, Fenrir Greyback. Draco tried to keep his eyes ahead. The more he discovered that he was surrounded by the most notorious Death Eaters, the more terrified he became.
“Leave him alone, Lucius.” A high pitched snarl came from his left, a rough arm pulling him toward the owner’s order. Draco winced in the harsh game of tug-o-war, but was glad that the latter had pulled him from his father’s icy grasp.
“A-Aunt Bell.” Draco choked, alarmed at her frizzy hair and crazy-eyed appearance in the moonlight, making her appear even more insane than she looked by daylight. Draco, although knowing she was perhaps the most devoted of them all, was somewhat calmed by her presence, knowing that she would do her best to comfort him, because she was the only one among them, ironically, that truly cared.
She planted a dry kiss on his cheek. “I’m going to take care of you, Drakey. You must be so excited! Your father must be so proud, knowing that his son will surpass him in greatness.”
Bellatrix glared at his father, whose reaction was hard to distinguish in the darkness.
“H-how much farther?” He tried to steady his voice. She was the one person who Draco didn’t want to know how scared he was, she would make too much of a show out of it.
“Right…here!” She called out to the rest, who stopped and turned back to her.
Bellatrix reached into her cloak, pulling out a key that dangled on a silver chain.
“A Portkey,” She informed Draco, “side apparition would be too risky. The Dark Lord wants you fully intact.”
She gave Draco a sick smile that made his stomach churn. He felt the others circling around his aunt; Draco took the one last breath of clean air, holding it while Fenrir drew close.
“On three.” She told them, “One...two…three!”
They all jabbed at the key with a finger. Draco closed his eyes, not wanting to see anything, but a bright, white light penetrated the protection of his eyelids. Within seconds, he landed on a cold stone floor, struggling not to fall.
Horrified, he recognized the dark dining room as his own. Everything was dark: the walls, the rug, the long table that sat up to twenty four people, all full except for seven chairs. The only bright thing in the room was the fire to his left, but even its light could not burnish the dim atmosphere. Draco was left to take the last chair at the opposite end of the table: the lowest ranking seat. He was glad for it, because making him sit next to anyone would have sent him over the edge. Shakily, he took his seat as he watched Bellatrix take the fourth seat to the head’s right.
Lucius took one seat over from Bellatrix, an empty seat between them, where his mother should have been. Draco was too scared to look at the long, darkly twisted faces that stared at their new arrival, so he concentrated on the dirty chandelier crystals above, noticing that the House Elves had neglected to dust, although he wasn’t sure how they would have gotten up there anyway.
Draco nearly yelped as he felt a heavy weight gliding across his feet. He started to shake as he looked down to see the head of Nagini slithering away from him, gliding up his mother’s empty seat, where she slithered over to Voldemort, finally resting on his shoulders.
“Ah, Draco.” He finally addressed him. His cold, empty voice seemed to echo in the crowded room. Draco didn’t want to look at him, but knew he had to.
His eyes were dark slits, no whites were present, nor was a nose. He had discolored skin, touched by a shade of grey, giving him a dead appearance. He was cloaked with airy robes that flowed over his arm rests. Voldemort fiddled with his wand, grasping it with long, claw-like fingers.
“I am so glad you could come.” Voldemort’s tone was sarcastically airy, “So…generous of your father to take you out of school. Ah! But where is your mother, my boy?”
Draco swallowed hard, looking from his father to Bellatrix, who seemed to have just noticed that her sister was absent.
Did she not know?
Lucius piped up immediately, “My Lord, Narcissa wasn’t feeling well, she sends her deepest regrets.”
“Does she?” Voldemort leaned back, cupping his chin with his hand as rested it on his long fingers.
Lucius stared at him, uncertain if he was going to believe him, but quickly lowered his gaze in submission.
“Pity.” Voldemort said, uninterested.
He turned back to Draco, “You must be so proud of yourself Draco, and why shouldn’t you be? You will be the youngest inductee that I have ever allowed. What say you?”
Draco was scared stiff. He wasn’t expecting to be addressed personally. Yelling at himself to say something, he managed to choke, “H-honored, my Lord, more than you k-know.”
“Oh, I believe I do.” Voldemort retorted.
Just as Draco was preparing himself to be punished for his comment, Voldemort continued, “I was your age once, Draco, and I too, wished for pure people in a magical world. Just like you, I wished to rule above all others. I wished for cleanliness.”
Draco didn’t wish for any of these things. He didn’t like Muggle-borns in the least, but he wasn’t ready to kill them aimlessly either. Was this going to be expected of him once he was inducted? He couldn’t possibly be expected to do that at seventeen.
“I applaud you, Draco.” Voldemort gave him a cold smile, “For you adopted our principles from a young age. I hear you are quite the leader within your house. This is what influenced me to choose you. You are going to do great things.”
Draco stared at him, silent. Was there no way he could buy himself time?
“You wish to ask something?” He cocked his head in interest. It had to be the Legilimency that gave away his hesitance. In fact, Draco could start to feel his head swim as a faint wave of nausea churned his stomach. Although there was no headache that indicated he was pushing hard into Draco’s mind, he knew Voldemort was dwelling on the edges of his consciousness.
“I wish to finish school, my Lord.” Draco trembled, “I feel I should be educated to best serve you.”
There was a dead silence in the room. Everyone held their breath. Draco looked to his father, an angry twitch pulling at his mouth. Voldemort smiled at him, exposing his filed teeth.
“A valid point, Draco.” Voldemort agreed, “I too, graduated from Hogwarts, in the valiant house of Slytherin. I wouldn’t dream of taking you out, dear boy. You will graduate, get a decent Wizarding job, and start a family, perhaps? Yes, Draco, you will do all of these things, in service to me.”
Draco nodded his head slowly, trying to push down thoughts of Ashley in his best attempts to protect her.
“My main concern is…how are you doing Draco?” Voldemort asked him, “Your father talks highly of you. I am most interested in how you fare.”
It was a question that had to be answered a certain way. There was only one right answer that Draco could think of.
“I am t-trying my best to carry out your task, my Lord.” Draco answered. A sudden movement to the left revealed that Lucius had shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
Voldemort stared at him, the muscles where his eyebrows should have been pulled down in a look of mild puzzlement.
Draco’s heart dropped. What was happening?
Before he could answer, Lucius interrupted him, “Forgive him, my Lord. Draco is merely excited about joining you. His head is confused.”
Draco looked to his father, who gave him an icy look that Draco had learned too well. He decided to remain quiet about the matter, although his head was spinning with confusion and the mild penetration that Voldemort had yet to withdraw.
Voldemort seemed to dismiss the whole idea, bored with Lucius’ banter. “I value education, Draco, as I once said. So, let us get through with this so more of your time doesn’t slip away.”
This was the part that Draco feared. Clasping his hands in his lap to stop them from shaking, he watched, horrified, as Voldemort rose from his chair. With an agonizingly slow gait, he made his way down the long table. Each Death Eater stiffened as he passed, straightening up and going rigid with the frigid air that seemed to emit from his lifeless body.
Draco looked up into his cold eyes as he stopped in front of him.
“Before we begin,” Voldemort lowered his voice, “we must make sure your mind is pure.”
Draco feared this, but took a deep breath to calm himself as much as he could. He opened his mind completely, knowing that Voldemort would grow angry if he was hiding something…even Ashley.
There’s nothing to worry about, Draco told himself, the memory is gone, she is safe.
Voldemort extracted his wand, pointing it to the front of Draco’s head.
Everything seemed to flash back before Draco’ eyes: laughing with his mother, hiding from his father, memories of school. His life didn’t contain much, so the one thing he feared Voldemort seeing flashed by within seconds.
Draco tried to think of something, anything else, that took his memories from her. But he couldn’t. When he saw her, all he wanted to do was think of her, he was sucked into his memories once more. He watched in horror as flashbacks of their first encounter, their first kiss, even their first time together after Blaise had attacked her flooded his vision. It wasn’t the exposure of his most intimate thoughts that made him terrified, but whether or not any memory of hinting at her would appear.
“Ah.” Voldemort lifted the curse. “Young love.”
He could hear some of the others snicker quietly at the table. Lucius glared at him while Bellatrix gave him a twisted smile.
“Love is a fickle emotion,” Voldemort told him venomously, “so it is weak. Hatred, anger, loss…those are constant emotions, they don’t change. Love changes Draco; it can change you and leave you in the blink of an eye. Wasn’t it the lack of it from your father what got you here today?”
He looked down at Draco, who couldn’t move.
Voldemort’s lips twitched, like he was trying to suppress a smile. “Had your father cared for you as any other would, as mine could have, we would have turned out very different. Our paths for greatness would have been obliterated.”
Voldemort extended his hand, motioning for Draco’s. His arm had a mind of its own, shaking uncontrollably as it offered itself to him, only stopping when Voldemort grabbed at it forcefully.
“Do what you will with her.” Voldemort’s face was overcast with anger, his voice so cold that the room seemed void of any heat. Voldemort lowered his head, so that he was only inches from his face. “But remember, your duty is to me!”
With his last comment, a searing pain consumed Draco’s body. Horrified, he watched as a blood red line started on his left forearm. With the movement of Voldemort’s wand, the lined moved in perfect synchronization. The pain was so severe, Draco’s eyesight was distorted, his hearing numbed. He tried not to move his arm, but he could feel Voldemort’s grip tighten to steady it. Tears stung at the back of his eyes and Draco bit his lip in attempt to restrain them. The metallic taste of blood filled his mouth; tears blinded him as the red image was nearly complete: a bleeding skull with a snake protruded out of its mouth, curling around to finish the design.
Just as he was about to pass out, Ashley filled his mind. He concentrated, with his entire mind on her laugh, her smell, her eyes, the warmth of her body pressed against his.
Relax; her voice filled his mind, relaxing, darling.
He could almost see her before him, feel her arms wrapping around him in comfort. In some kind of dream state, he saw her ghost-like hand reach for his arm, pressing it on the bright red mark. A cooling sensation overcame him, easing the pain.
Then it stopped.
Draco looked down at his arm; it was cherry red, as if sunburned. Etched on it for the rest of his life was the Dark Mark, crimson and angry. Draco was horrified at its life-like movements, bobbing up and down slightly on his skin, the snake’s tongue slithering in and out of the skull.
“It is complete.” Voldemort breathed softly. “Welcome to the family, Draco.”
A/N: Well, what did you think? Maybe it was exciting, maybe it wasn't. Either way, I'd love to hear a word or two from you!
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