Chapter 1 : Broken Thread
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"Keep up," the drawling voice of the man he thought he knew so well rang in his ears. It was full of tension and yet he exuded calmness. Silver eyes glanced towards the black ones and a shiver ran through his spine. He expected to see at least a tiny peek of emotion but he was met with a blank impatient gaze. He was disappointed and it added to the tension that had started to coil over his muscles.
A high pitched shriek and a blast of red light after made him stop on his tracks. The hut blazed with raging hot fire, brightening the dark night sky with its red flames. He felt a pang tightened in his chest. A professor - his professor - was dead and he was the cause of it. A sharp tug on his hand pulled him from his realization, his gaze meeting the man's hard black one.
"Keep up, Malfoy. The Dark Lord would not be happier if we're late." He said in the same monotonous drawl. Somehow, the previous tension had been concealed well by the older wizard.
He ran; his feet moved mechanically as his eyes frantically ran over the brightened place. In the background, the woman's shrieking laughter filled the air.
A shout and a jet of lights wheezed pass through him. "Run, Draco!" The man told him, his voice taking on a frantic tone as he shoved the young man aside. He barely had enough time to look at the attacker before he recognized the emotional voice off to shout another curse.
The older wizard shut him off, and somehow he had tuned out their conversation but merely watched on the side as stream of lights went from one side to the other. A sudden jolt of shame ran through him. This young man was of his age and he was bravely fighting the man who killed his mentor. Yet, he, Draco Malfoy, who proudly came from one of the strongest and oldest family in the Wizarding World, didn't have enough courage to face himself after what he had done.
A hard and steady hand gripped his arm and turned him away from the scene where he left the Chosen One, bleeding. "Let's go, Draco." Severus Snape drawled once more, his voice loosing the emotion he had showed Potter just moments ago.
What happened next were a blur of events. He could barely remember the journey beyond the Forbidden Forest. He could barely remember being side-apparated to the place he considered home.
Malfoy Manor stood imposingly dark beyond them. The rest of his company gleefully cross the gates, passing as if they were smoke drifting to the wrought iron gates. The hand on his shoulder gave the smallest squeeze he wasn't sure he received it, yet he looked at the owner of the hand.
"Go." The order was steady and barred of emotion that did nothing to appease the blizzard of emotions he was feeling. Draco tried to swallow the lump on his throat as he nodded and pursed his lips.
The wards recognized him as a member of the family and he passed through the gates like black smoke. Behind Snape after he passed, the gates materialized once more, its steel serving as a difficult barrier between the manor and world beyond. Once, it had been a beauty in itself.
It happened quickly. The gigantic double French doors squeaked open as a house-elf greeted them, bowing low close to the floor and wincing as Bellatrix stepped on its fingers.
A short and stout man, with white hair sticking in every direction and silver hand appeared at the doorway leading to the drawing room. His face scrunched in what was a poor attempt to look smug and smirk on the young Malfoy. "The Dark Lord is ready for you, young Malfoy," he announced, stuttering on his words.
"Wipe that look on you face, Wormtail, or it won't be your hand you lose next," a snarky drawl escaped the young master's lips as he tried to prevent his blood from boiling. He did not need this.
"Enough." The voice of authority stopped the aged man from attacking the young Malfoy. Snape's pale skin and pitch black eyes exuded authority and power. He strode towards the open drawing room, his robes billowing behind him. He didn't need to beckon Draco with words and gesture to follow him, because the young man knew and did exactly that.
The moment he put a step inside the drawing room, the air shifted. It was colder, tenser and it made him want to escape this space. He put his Occlumency in practice, careful of still letting the Dark Lord look at some parts of his mind.
Snape knelt before the man sitted on the lone armchair, his throne, in the room. Mean red eyes, vertical slits for nose and paler than death skin sat on the throne. He was the very figure of power in this room. Power that made every person in the room quiver with fear.
"Young Malfoy," he hissed as the huge pet snake slithered on the hardwood floor. Draco stepped in further, bowing before the Dark Lord.
"My Lord," he said, his eyes trained on the snake as it coiled around his legs loosely. At a moment's decision, the mascot of his own house could tighten around him, preventing the circulation of his blood and kill him before it feasted on his dead body.
"You disssssappoint me, Draco," Voldemort clicked his tongue on the roof of his mouth. He stood up and slowly glided around him. Every glide, every step made the young man feel more shame, fear and cowardice, squashing any thought to escape.
"I'm sorry my Lord," Draco answered. It shocked him that his voice didn't quiver or cracked when he spoke. His eyes never left Nagini as its long tongue darted in and out of its mouth, mocking him with the knowledge that any wrong word can end his life.
"I do not condone failure in my army, Young Malfoy. Do you understand that?" The Dark Lord hissed as he stopped in front of him, his long pale hand touching and lifting his chin. The move forced Draco to meet the evil man's eyes. The youngest Malfoy nodded.
"I seriously hope you don't. Because there would be no next time after this." Red eyes looked deeply to his silver ones, searching deeper and deeper and finally finding something that satisfied him enough.
"However, I feel generous today. Nagini, let go of him." The snake hissed and slither away, disappointed that she had lost her dinner. "But not too generous," the Dark Lord continued before Draco could sigh any relief.
"Crucio!" And only his heart's own loud beating against his chest rang in his ears once more.