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Initiate by ClanMalfoy
Initiate by ClanMalfoy
A/N: Initiate was my first piece of fanfiction, written in November 2003 for an Hour Challenge. My most fervent thanks go to Mynuet, for telling me that my idea had merit, and several months' continued encouragement since.

~*~


I've never been so nervous in my life.

For nearly eighteen years, my father inculcated me with the knowledge of my destiny. At every turn he reminded me that when I became of age, I would become the first of a new generation of Death Eaters, the hopes of the continuation of the Dark Lord's regime falling like a cloak upon my shoulders.

I await my initiation.

I watch with guarded eyes from under the hood of the black robe I wear as others take their place in the circle. Two of the people who will soon be my colleagues bring forward a third to stand next to me. They speak no words, but as the pair turn to go, to leave their companion alone in the circle, one of them rests a hand on the third's shoulder for just a moment before pulling away to take their proper place.

I wonder for a moment about that curious contact. This doesn't seem to be an appropriate place for obviously close ties; then again, Death Eaters tended to all be family or friends of one another. The Lestranges certainly made following the Dark Lord a family affair, and my own father had crowed to his friends that his son would someday lead the next generation of Death Eaters.

I can't help but think back on all of the events that have led to my taking my place in the circle at this time. Everything that my father - the Dark Lord's first lieutenant, his most loyal supporter - did in the name of strengthening me, preparing me for the role he cast me in as an infant. If I close my eyes, I can see him standing by the picture window in his library, his long blond hair a striking contrast against the inky blackness of night.

I prefer to remember the timbre of his voice at these times. Gone was the raucousness and violence of his anger at my failure to beat Saint Potter to the Snitch or pass that mudblood Granger for highest marks in our year. Instead, my father spoke of the Dark Lord, of his agenda and his convictions, in tones of the utmost reverence.

"Our Lord has the right of things, my son. We should be proud, proud of our ancient magical heritage and unbroken lineage. Instead, we are forced to congregate in secret, to avoid persecution from those whose inferior minds will simply not allow them to understand. We must remain concealed until such time as we have amassed enough power to effect profound change."

"The Malfoys have long been known for their magical and political power. Allying ourselves with the Dark Lord will further our ends. There is only so much they can teach you at that ridiculous school you attend; once you have been accepted into our Lord's ranks you will have the opportunity to increase your knowledge of both."

"Did you learn nothing in your History of Magic classes, Draco? The Muggle infestation has always posed a very real threat to the Wizarding population, not only in Britain but all over the world. Once we have dealt with the mudbloods and blood traitors, we can begin to restore the world to the proper order, with pureblood wizards in their rightful position of power."

I break from my reverie and notice that the circle is complete. Its leader, a tall figure shrouded in black, steps forward from his place in the shadows, breaking between the two black-robes directly across the circle from where I stand. The leader walks around the inside of the circle quickly, coming to a stop directly in front of me.

"Tonight we dispense with the usual formalities, in favour of proceeding directly to the matter at hand." The voice that issues from the figure standing in front of me is almost a whisper. "We are fortunate to be accepting two initiates into our midst this night."

The members of the circle nod their heads silently, their robes fluttering around them at the motion, making the circle seem almost as one living entity.

The leader waves his hand forward, and another figure steps toward him. "If you would do the honours," the leader says in his frightening whisper. Without warning, the leader takes my left wrist in his hands and extends my arm. In one smooth movement he brushes the sleeve of my robe back.

The firelight is weak, and night is well fallen. I cannot see what the leader's assistant is doing. In the space of one heartbeat something touches the pale, unmarked flesh of my inner arm, and a blistering pain sears through my entire being.

For the first time, I'm grateful for my father's insistence on corporal punishment for my more severe offences to the Malfoy honour. My experience with it may be the only reason I remain standing. I cannot fight the urge to pull my arm back, to cradle the wound to my chest as the pain begins to ebb, excruciatingly slowly.

"The Mark of your affiliation," the assistant speaks, his voice's familiarity pushing its way past the agony in the forefront of my mind.

My eyes follow the leader and his assistant to where they now stand in front of the initiate left at my side. He bares his arm willingly, holding it out in front of him steadily, without fear of what he now knows is coming. The assistant presses something to the initiate's arm, and when the assistant pulls back the initiate replaces the sleeve of his robe smoothly, as though he has not just experienced the worst pain of his life, and returns his arm to his side.

I drop my own arm and straighten my shoulders, not wishing to be outdone by my new associate.

When the leader reaches the center of the circle, he whispers one word.

"Welcome."

He then drops his hood, and I am looking into Albus Dumbledore's eyes.

I push my own hood back from my face, as the rest of the circle has followed suit. I discover that the familiar voice belongs to none other than the Head of my former House at Hogwarts. Severus Snape is not smiling, but after spending seven years in his presence, I can tell that he is pleased with the decision I have made.

A secret part of my soul rejoices as I see the horrified looks on the faces of Potter, Granger, and Weasley staring back at me, wondering what the hell the son of a Death Eater is doing, swearing himself to the Order of the Phoenix. Their expressions clearly indicate their intense distaste for the idea that they will be required to work side-by-side with someone they have spent so long hating.

I then notice that a large portion of the remainder of the circle, the majority of them red-haired, are looking with expressions of pride at the initiate standing next to me. I turn to my left just as the initiate raises his hands to the cowl of his robe.

Her robe. Virginia Weasley is standing next to me, her auburn hair shining, her face radiant.

I regard the young woman next to me for only the briefest moment before looking away; it is quite long enough for fragments of memory to push themselves to the front of my consciousness.

"Bet you loved that, didn't you, Potter?" said a voice Harry had no trouble recognizing. He straightened up and found himself face-to-face with Draco Malfoy, who was wearing the usual sneer.

"Famous Harry Potter," said Malfoy. "Can't even go into a bookshop without making the front page."

"Leave him alone, he didn't want that!" said Ginny. It was the first time she had spoken in front of Harry. She was glaring at Malfoy.

"Potter, you've gotten yourself a girlfriend!" drawled Malfoy. Ginny went scarlet.

I wonder how my fellow initiate will respond to my decision to pledge myself, my magical abilities, and my energies to the Resistance against the Dark Lord. An entire year of study in the same advanced classes, her sixth year and my seventh, has taught me that Virginia Weasley is a smart woman. Not only does her mind contain a wealth of knowledge, she's also quick to comprehend complexities and subtleties in a way completely opposite to the Weasel King's obtuseness. Furthermore, her intimate knowledge of the allure of the Dark, gained her first year at the price of childish ignorance, gives her some insight into the delicacy of my particular situation. If any young person in this circle will understand exactly what I risk by joining the Order of the Phoenix, it is she.

On the other hand, six years of mutual antagonism stand, as tangible as the stone walls of Hogwarts castle, between us.

Ron stopped shoveling his breakfast into his mouth long enough to notice that his sister had gotten a note of some sort by owl during the daily delivery of mail. "Ickle Ginnikins is getting mail! Who's the letter from?"

Ginny was distracted enough by the contents of the letter that the words tumbled from her lips before she could consider the wisdom of speaking them aloud to her brother. "Uh, Pansy," she said offhandedly, looking sideways at her brother for only a second before returning her attention to the parchment in her hand.

Ron sputtered inelegantly and leaped out of his chair, looming over his sister. "What in Merlin's name are you doing receiving mail from Pug-face Parkinson, of all people?" he shouted.

Ron's outburst had attracted the attention of most of the school. All four House tables became deathly silent, and only the restraining arms of Blaise Zabini and Draco Malfoy kept Pansy Parkinson from bounding to her feet and giving that pathetic Weasel a piece of her mind. The faces of each one of Hogwarts' professors turned in concern to where a battle royale was brewing in the Weasley family.

To Ginny's credit, she fought the Weasley temper's urge to howl like a banshee at her brother. "Not that it is any of your concern," she spat venomously at Ron, looking up at him with cheeks pinking dangerously fast, "but Pansy and I have become friends."

"You can't be friends with her! She's - she's - she's a filthy Slytherin! And it most certainly is my concern. I'm your brother!"

Ginny's last emotional restraint snapped. She unfolded her legs from where they had been tucked under the bench she'd been sitting upon, and raised herself to her full five feet eight inches. Her face was now as red as it had been the day six years previously in Flourish and Blotts, and she'd grown a full clip of nerve and perfected the use of the Weasley temper since then.

"Ronald Weasley, how dare you throw the fact of our common parentage in my face like some sort of trump card? You haven't treated me like anything more than an annoyance since you boarded the Express on your first day at Hogwarts!"

"How - how can you say such a thing?" Ron asked angrily.

"Let me refresh your memory, then if you've forgotten so easily! Who promised to send me loads of owls when all of my wonderful, caring siblings left me alone at home? You, dear brother? No! It was the twins! Who noticed when I was acting so strangely all during first year? You, dear brother? No! It was Percy!"

Ginny paused her tirade only to swipe a hand roughly across her face. It came away wet. "The only times I have ever factored into your concern is when something I did interfered with your precious plans! If you think I will ever, ever forget that I nearly died in the Chamber because you were too thick to see my distress over the course of a whole year .. or the fact that you were quick to refuse my help when the lot of you went to the Ministry in fourth year, despite the fact that I'd trained just as hard as anyone else in the DA and acquitted myself perfectly well against Umbridge's inquisitorial squad .. you are sadly mistaken!"

Ron's jaw dropped, rendering him speechless. "Ginny!" Harry and Hermione interjected, shocked.

"The rest of the Golden Gryff Trio can stay out of this," Ginny snapped, her eyes flashing with unchecked anger. "Understand me, Ron. You may be my brother, but I am certainly old enough to choose my friends. And let me assure you, especially after the way you've behaved today, that you are not counted among them."

Ginny slapped her hand down on the table, the sound causing nearly everyone in the room to jump in their seats, and swept the small pile of books that sat next to her plate into her arms. Gathering the remnants of her dignity together, squaring her shoulders and setting her mouth in a straight line, she walked out of the Great Hall.

"Malfoy." The voice from my memory issues forth from the woman standing next to me.

"Virginia," I respond in recognition. I'd ceased thinking of her as just another Weasley that day in the Great Hall, and it seems ridiculous to use the name when there are eight others who answer to it in the circle. I meet her gaze, searching her eyes for some clue to her current state of mind.

"I know there are some individuals in this meeting who aren't pleased that you're here," she begins carefully. "I thought you should know that if you've decided to pledge yourself to the Order, at least one person besides Dumbledore and Snape will be glad for your help."

She holds her right hand out, as steady and as certain as she'd held her left hand out to receive the Mark of the Order. The simple gesture of goodwill surprise me, but I know there is only one thing to be done. I school the carefully neutral expression on my face, and give the offered hand a gentle squeeze. The rest of the circle sees the Malfoy heir and the sole daughter of the Weasley clan shake hands.

I wonder if she knows that the meaning of her words has not been idly disregarded.

The smile I see pulling at one side of her mouth, before she lets go my hand and turns once more to face the rest of the circle, tells me that she does.


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