Chapter 1 : Prologue
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Malfoy Manor, December 1997
The prisoner is dragged in without dignity. Those who are awake gather around, sneering at the limp body on the floor. He stirs, feebly, wincing.
Because I know him I’m sure he’s taking his measurements of the room before showing he is alert. He will see that there are four large, dark figures surrounding him, wands pointed at his heart. Perhaps he has not yet detected me, watching, cowering behind his captors.
The tallest figure gives the prisoner a sharp kick with his boot.
“State your name, fool,” he snarls. “Now! Do not stay silent in the presence of the servants of the Dark Lord!”
Slowly, the prisoner raises his head. His stare is blue and defiant. He glares back at his tall aggressor.
Greyback growls from a place low within his throat. He is like an alpha demanding submission. My mouth feels sour in disgust.
“What’s your blood status, boy?” he murmurs, skimming his long nails through the prisoner’s messy, dark hair. I sicken when I see it is matted with blood.
“Are you… a blood traitor?” Greyback inhales deeply. “A half-blood?” Face inches from his prey’s, the werewolf grins. “Ah, the snatchers have caught us a Mudblood.”
The three other figures smile a little, a cunning smile.
“Hogwarts age,” they murmur. “Perhaps seventeen. Perhaps he knows… of him.”
I startle as Nott beckons me forward with a twitch of his wand-arm. His gaze never leaves the prisoner’s face, nor Greyback’s bared teeth.
“Do you recognize this… this? Is he a Mudblood?”
“No,” I whisper shakingly. “No, I don’t recognize him. No. No.”
The prisoner, desperately trying to avoid Greyback’s cold yellow stare, looks past him and straight at me. For a moment, we register the grief and confusion on each others’ faces, then I quickly lower my eyes. A sense of doom, of helplessness makes my stomach go weak – for both of us. This is the end, I think to myself. I wonder if he hates me now.
I look around at the other figures in the room. Nott – the father of my childhood best friend, his mahogany wand pointed so menacingly at the boy on the floor, that same wand which made bunches of fireworks and stars ricochet out of it on my ninth birthday. Malfoy, whose wife bought my sister and I new robes and school books when Mother was too ill to take us to Diagon Alley, dressing us up like the little daughters she never had. Augustus, who would scoop me up and bounce me on his knee when I was a child, praising me on my perfect pureness, telling me I was a true emblem of what it meant to be a witch.
They are hard men. Righteous, ambitious men. Men who have killed, and will kill again without delay.
Close your mind, I beg the boy on the floor. Please. For if they know what he is thinking, he will die today. If they knew, they would kill us both, these men, friends of my father, champions of my childhood. Were my father here, he wouldn't hesitate to cast the curse himself. Close your mind. I think. Or us both shall die.
These are dark times, when friend turns on friend and nobody is safe, not even the daughters of Death Eaters.