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Chapter 1 : Never Gonna Sell My Soul
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Theo pressed himself as close to the wall as possible, half hidden in the dark hall; even with the right side of his face lit up by the light coming from his wand, no one noticed him when they walked past an hour ago. And he prayed it would stay that way.
They had gone into one of the rooms along the corridor, locked to keep out anyone considered unworthy of joining the meeting and unable to be listened in on thanks to a silencing charm he had put on before they started.
They would call for Theo soon, but he didn't want to be in there, to stand among them.
Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters.
He had only been home for a few minutes when his father had entered his room and told him that the Dark Lord had requested Theo's presence. He knew why immediately, had dreaded the day ever since Harry Potter had told the world that Voldemort had returned at the end of fourth year. The nightmares had grown worse since he turned seventeen. Now they were coming true.
But Theo was ready. Ever since he'd been told, he'd prepared a little each day, to keep his father from knowing anything. By the time his father had told him this morning that he needed to be at Malfoy Manor by seven, he had deemed himself ready. His father hadn't noticed a thing.
Good. It made things easier.
A door opened from down the hall and a dim light destroyed some of the shadows, but it did nothing to quell Theo's fear.
"We're ready, Theodore," David Nott murmured, though it seemed so much louder to Theo's ears.
He stood up, not wanting to anger them just yet. Theo allowed himself to be seen and gave a curt nod. His stomach twisted in knots that were almost painful and he hoped he wouldn't be sick, not that he thought he could - he'd already emptied his stomach. Theo didn't extinguish the light until he reached the door, and hide his wand in his sleeve because he knew he needed help in getting out and didn't want them taking his only defense.
He went through his speech in his head, knowing what he wanted to say; he wondered if he would actually be able to get the words out when the time came. They seemed to disappear completely when the door was locked again and he stood frozen behind them. His father squeezed his shoulder, not comfortingly, and pushed him forward, until he was stood in the center of the circle.
Theo glanced around briefly, recognizing some names and faces due to Pureblood functions he'd been to as a child, others he had no idea about. They sat straight-faced and serious, on high-backed chairs that looked uncomfortable. Their masks weren't on, but the hoods of their cloaks darkened some of their faces. No one spoke. Bellatrix LeStrange looked at Theo like he was prey, a weak animal she could kill with a single swipe. He gulped; of course she could. Her cold eyes narrowed dangerously when they met his, like she knew what his plan was.
Snapping his head to the center of the circle, Theo finally faced the Dark Lord. He was terrifying, even in the shadows. With bloodshot eyes that seemed to see into his very soul and pasty, chalk-like skin, Theo thought for a moment that he was looking at a corpse or an inferi. A hand stretched out to rest on a large snake; it was the only sign that suggested Voldemort was alive at all.
Theo kept his back straight and his eyes in front, his hands joined together behind his back, just like he had been taught to do in situations such as this. He considered it a miracle he wasn't shaking as badly as he thought he would be, but he knew he still was - and everyone else could see it, too.
"Your father tells me that you have a remarkable magical ability," the Dark Lord whispered, more like a hiss from a snake. "It makes you a valuable asset, Theodore."
"Thank you." Theo spoke clearly, his voice quivering in fear.
He knew his father would sell him out the moment he knew that the man had discovered his gifts, but hearing it still hit him hard; he felt betrayed despite knowing his father was never good to him.
Giving your own blood to your lord is one of the worst things you can do.
"I am very glad you agree, Theodore," Voldemort continued to hiss. "We are so pleased to have you join us tonight."
Voldemort turned to the others, expecting them all to agree; they only nodded. At least, most of them did. In the middle of the left side of the circle, his face somber and his eyes on the floor, Draco Malfoy didn't move. He wouldn't even look at Theo and he had to wonder if it was because of everything that had happened between them or if he just couldn't face the rest of the circle.
No daddy to look after him.
Lucius Malfoy was not in the room, he noted; an initiation ceremony was only for the inner circle, the most elite of the Death Eaters. After his embarrassment in the Department of Mysteries, Lucius was not part of the group. Theo suspected Draco was only with them because of his role at Hogwarts a few weeks ago, or because Voldemort wanted him to see another of his peers join the ranks. His father was invited because his information on Theo had gained him favor with the Dark Lord.
Theo took a deep breath, squeezing his eyes shut to remember his words. He counted to ten, and then opened his eyes and returned Voldemort's gaze as best he could.
The Death Eaters around him squirmed, he could see a few from the corner of his eye, and some started to whisper. Theo didn't dare look for his father.
"How dare you defy my lord!" Bellatrix yelled, drawing her wand. Theo squeezed his own.
Voldemort touched her arm and she calmed, or at least stopped shouting. Her wand was still pointed at his chest.
"Quiet, Bella. I'm sure Theodore will make the right decision."
He would, Theo knew, but their definitions of 'the right decision' were very different.
"I said no," Theo repeated, louder this time. "I do not wish to join you and I will not let you use me to massacre innocents. I'd rather die."
If he was being honest with himself, that was true to an extent; if they killed him for not taking the Dark Mark and becoming a Death Eater, Theo would die with his self-respect intact, but he wasn't going to let it happen if he could help it.
I have a plan. Follow the plan.
"Theodore, don't be a fool," his father snapped.
"I will not become like you," Theo whispered.
Voldemort rose from his seat, his wand drawn without Theo even realizing he'd done it, but it wasn't raised yet. He held it lightly in his hand, twirled it gently as he moved forward.
"Listen to your father, Theodore. To deny us would be a foolish mistake," Voldemort murmured dangerously. The voice brought violent shivers down his spine, hitting him like ice. "We are helping our kind to survive and your talents will lead us to victory. Do you not want that, Theodore? To live in a better world?"
He glanced down, picturing a better world; he saw smiling faces and normal, everyday occurrences. There was no fear of death for being who you were or saying the wrong thing. And their hero was clear in his mind. But it wasn't Voldemort.
"I do," he replied eventually.
The Death Eaters settled and Voldemort smiled cruelly, all sure that he was changing his mind. Theo moved his arms across his front, a move Voldemort didn't miss, but his wand was still hidden and that gave Theo a slight advantage.
"My answer is the same: no."
Theo remembered the spell he had found in a book in the library a last year and had practiced every moment he could, casting it quickly. A thick cloud of black smoke surrounded him, growing thicker and larger until hardly anyone could see. People around him coughed and panicked; Theo focused on his breathing, trying not to freak out in the dark, and ran for the door.
He and Draco had been close to being friends once, spending many days in the large manor thanks to their fathers. Draco had taught him all the ins and outs of the place, from the quickest routes to the secret passages; Theo knew he could get out, as long as he didn't get caught.
He ran as fast as he could, through the smoke and along the corridors, until he was at the back of the manor, near the house elves' quarters. Next to it, concealed as a closet, was a passage that led to the side of the manor; it was a tight fit, made him feel claustrophobic, and it was too dark, but he pushed on through. He reached the end of the tunnel, breathed in the fresh air and ran for the wards; as soon as he was past them, he could Apparate.
Theo's heart rate spiked when he heard voices, yells of his name and threats of what would happen if he didn't come back, promises of living if he came without a fuss. All false; Voldemort would never let him live now.
He ran with speed he didn't even know he had and was grateful to get to the wards without them catching up; he was spotted and they chased him, but his head start was an advantage. Once he passed them, he grabbed his bag from its hiding pace and Apparated, coming to a stop not far from his home. Given that he'd just run away, Theo figured this was the last place they would look for him. That didn't mean he was safe, he knew, but he still wasn't quite sure were to go.
He walked, keeping as close to the shadows as he could while still seeing light; it was summer and the sun hadn't set yet. Theo had time to find somewhere to go and allowed himself to imagine what was happening back at Malfoy Manor.
Only the Malfoys would know how he escaped and he knew they'd probably tell Voldemort, but that wouldn't help the Death Eaters. Theo briefly wondered what would happen to his father for Theo's disgrace, but shook it off; he felt nothing for the man, they shared blood and nothing more.
It took almost an hour for him to find a decent place to sleep, grateful he managed to find a bed and breakfast before it got too dark. It didn't cut into his budget too much and the room wasn't bad, if a little bare, but he only needed the bed. Theo dug into his bag until he found some pajama bottoms, changed and climbed under the sheets, keeping as vigilant as he could be without the use of magic; there were too many Muggles around and he couldn't trust that the Ministry wouldn't find him, even without the Trace still on him. Not with Voldemort gaining more and more power there.
It was hard to sleep and when it did come, his head was filled with nightmares of war and death. But one dream stuck out to him and he clung onto the hope of a hero with everything he could.
Maybe it would give him the strength to know what to do next.
A/N: A new story, a Christmas gift for Tammi (alicia and anne). I hope you enjoy this, Tammi! :D
I know it's obvious, but, yes, this story is AU. The title and the chapter title are from Skillet's Awake and Alive and fits Theo and this story pretty perfectly, I think. If you haven't heard it, or any of Skillet's music, I hope you do.
I hope you enjoy this story. Please let me know what you think.
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