Chapter Three- Step One: Introductions
As you know, the Dark Lord rose again to power last June. I and several other of his most faithful Death Eaters have recently broken out of Azkaban. We are, of course, staying well hidden until the Dark Lord finds it necessary for us to prove our strength. He has recently been questioning me as to whether you will be ready to join us upon graduating. I told him I would write to you about it.
Now Draco, because I am an escaped convict, you will likely be questioned as to whether you’ve heard from me. For this reason, precisely ten minutes after you read the closing of this letter, you will forget everything you’ve read, with the exception of your joining the Death Eaters. Think long and hard on this, and have an answer ready for me.
PS- Burn this letter. Or, better yet, make a first year eat it.
Draco closed his eyes as he refolded the letter from his father. Him, join the Death Eaters? It was among the greatest of honors, but he knew the Dark Lord hadn’t meant for him to join after graduation. More likely, he would want his loyalty sworn as soon as possible. That could prove difficult, as walking around Hogwarts with the Dark Mark would cause a bit of an upset.
With a sigh, Draco turned to the other letter he’d received with the morning post:
My Dearest Draco,
How are you? I assume by this time you’ve read the letter from your father. Doubtless he’s informed you that the Dark Lord wants your loyalty? My son, it would bring an even greater honor to the family name if we had two members in the Dark Lord’s company. Please think carefully on this Draco; it means a great deal to your father and me.
There is another matter, which your father thought would be best brought up by me. It is our wish that by the time of your graduation, you be married. Lucius asked me to suggest the Parkinson’s girl, Pansy, though anyone loyal to our Lord would be acceptable.
Goodbye for now. Think carefully on these issues, as they are vital components of your future.
All My Love,
A few hours later, Draco Malfoy was in the company of his two best friends. Blaise Zabini and Pansy Parkinson sat in the Head Boy’s rooms with him, both looking somewhat confused at his distress.
“Quite honestly, Draco, I don’t see what you’re upset about. You and Blaise have always known you’d join the Death Eaters eventually.”
“It’s not the Death Eaters that I’m worried about, Pansy,” Draco snarled. “You can’t be that thick-headed.”
Pansy rolled her eyes. “You know I’m not. The only reason everyone thinks so is because I have to put on that stupid, ditzy act all the time.”
“I don’t think you need to worry, mate,” Blaise said, adding in his two cents worth. “You have practically all school year to find some girl to marry. You know it won’t matter as long as she’s a Slytherin. Heck, you might even be able to get away with a Ravenclaw.”
Draco sighed and flopped back on his bed. “It’s more complicated than that. She has to be a pureblood. My family’s one of the most powerful ones in the wizarding world, and there’s no one left to marry. My first choice would be a Black, but there’s no decent ones left. No female Averys, no female Notts. . .”
“What about a Crabbe or Goyle?” Blaise put in.
Draco shook his head. “Too stupid, I wouldn’t be able to stand it. And no offense, Pansy, but I can’t see us getting married.”
“None taken. I wouldn’t want to marry you.”
Draco ignored her little barb and kept muttering. “The only other pureblood family I can think of is a disgrace to wizarding kind.”
Blaise and Pansy caught on at once, because Draco often ranted to them about that family.
“Well, maybe a certain girl from that family could be persuaded to join us,” Pansy said hopefully.
Blaise shook his head. “It might’ve been possible when she first came to Hogwarts, but after the Chamber she’s been a lot more on her guard. I don’t think it’s likely she’ll forget that the 16 year-old Dark Lord tried to kill her.”
“Still, Ginny Weasley’s my best bet.” Draco sighed. “It’s worth a try. Pansy, what do I do first?”
The girl shuddered at Draco’s question. “What do you do first? How about forget this ridiculous plan of yours? Blaise is right, Ginny’s always going to remember that You-Know-Who tried to kill her. There must be someone else.”
Draco stood and faced her. “There aren’t very many purebloods left. If not Ginny, then who? No female Macnair, no female Lestrange, not even a female Black, come to think of it. Snape has no daughter, Karkaroff has no daughter, and Crouch has no soul, so I don’t think he’ll be adding to the population anytime soon. I have no desire to marry a Crabbe, Goyle, or Parkinson, and I’m not going to wed my own cousins.”
“There are others,” Pansy put in. Seeing the look on Draco’s face, she added “Besides Millicent Bulstrode.”
“Yeah,” said Blaise snickering. “You could ask the Bloody Baron if he has any Great-Great-Great Granddaughters you can snog.”
Pansy delivered him a sharp slap across the head. “Boys, focus! Draco, are you sure that it’s Ginny you want to go after?”
“No, but what choice do I have?”
Pansy heaved a sigh and pulled a notebook and pen from the drawer next to her.
Blaise cast a curious glance at it. “What that for? We’re not making a checklist or anything.”
Pansy smiled. “Actually, we are.”
Nearing two hours and three notebooks later, Pansy declared they were finished. “I think we’ve got everything. You just have to follow this list exactly and you’ll be fine. A word of advice, though; Work more on getting her to the Dark side than getting her to like you. I don’t think you have to worry about that.”
Draco looked at Pansy sharply. “What do you mean?”
“You can’t tell me you haven’t noticed the looks she gives you.”
“You mean of disgust?”
Pansy rolled her eyes and glared at Blaise. “No, that’d be the ‘famous trio.’ I’m talking about Ginny. She almost seems to see that underneath that coarse exterior-”
Pansy slapped Blaise across the back of the head.
“What? He smells funny?”
Draco walked around the school on his break, studying the list Pansy had made. Oddly enough, she seemed to have written it for girls in general, not specifically for Ginny. It read:
Step One: Introductions
In order to get to know a girl, you must know her name firsthand. Don’t think that learning her name from someone else will do. Talking casually is the first step toward friendly contact, which happens to be step two. A good conversation starter is ‘Hi, I’m Draco Malfoy.’
Oh my gosh, she thinks I’m an idiot. I’m going to kill her!
Draco glanced up and saw Ginny walking down the nearly deserted corridor in front of him. Well, here goes nothing.
Ginny stopped walking and glared at him, but stood her ground as he came nearer. When he stopped in front of her, she raised an eyebrow at him. “What?”
He stuck out his hand. “Hi, I’m Draco Malfoy.”
Ginny tilted her head to one side, then took his hand. “Ginny Weasley. I don’t like you.”
“Pleasure to meet you, too.”
“Pansy, all that accomplished was thoroughly confusing her!”
“Well I didn’t say it would be easy, Draco. Honestly, I wouldn’t have made that list for you if it was going to be.”
“I wish,” said Blaise from across the table, his mouth full of turkey. “I’d been dere to shtee da look on ‘er face.”
“Oh yes, it was priceless,” Draco replied dryly.
Pansy patted him soothingly on the back, a kind smile lighting upon her lips. “You did quite well for the first time. She didn’t curse you or run away, so I think we’ve made progress already. A word to the wise, though; make sure you make contact with her only when you two are quite alone. The last thing we need is word getting to your mother before you’ve brought Ginny around.”
The next morning, the Azkaban breakout was front page of the Daily Prophet. As expected, Draco was questioned as to whether he knew where his father was.
“I haven’t heard a thing from him, sir,” said Draco, sitting in Professor Dumbledore’s office. “I can only guess he’s not stupid enough to sit around the Manor waiting to be found.”
Professor Dumbledore sighed, looking weary. “Alright, Mr. Malfoy, I can’t say I really expected you to know. You may go. Please send in Mr. Nott.”
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