1. This fiction is written with complete disregard to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and now, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince due to the fact that I started writing this years before Ms. Rowling released it. Forgive me for out-of-date references.
2. In recent light of new policy, I removed all song lyrics. I really did not want to risk the removal of this account or this story. Meh. :(
3. This applies to the whole story: Everything pertaining to Harry Potter in all of my works is copyrighted to J.K. Rowling, Warner Brothers, and everyone else claiming legitimate ownership.
Chapter 1: No Turning Back
By Callisto Callispi
The heavy oaken door slid open quietly, rustling only the sparse specks of dust sullying the black stone floor. A blond man emerged soon after and narrowed his eyes, allowing his eyes to adjust to the dimness of the chamber. A young man, also blond, entered soon afterward.
Quietly, the two men waited as four figures in black robes approached them from the great, shadowed chair placed in the center of the chamber. The position of the chair had purpose for the figure sitting in it. The chamber was the universe, and he was the center of it. And on the far back wall was the symbol that dictated all of their lives. A giant skull carved out of onyx leered almost serenely; the snake slithering out of its mouth grinned like the devil.
The older of the two new occupants straightened up with a faint hint of pride coloring his smile. The younger merely rocked back on his heels -- he was too young to know just how terrible and how powerful that symbol was.
"My lord," said the older man. "My son is now prepared."
"Welcome, Lucius Malfoy," one of the hooded figures said in greeting. Then his voice became sterner, unyielding. "There is no way to reverse what will happen here. You and your son understand that there is no second chance?"
Lucius nodded and prepared to answer but the younger beat him to it.
"Sir, with much respect, we both fully understand."
A pause followed in regard to the young man's brashness.
"Fine, then, Master Draco," the cloaked figure finally said. "My lord, the ceremony shall proceed?" He turned hesitantly to face the chair, as if merely glancing upon the figure would sear his eyes.
"Yesss . . . "
All living forms in the chamber involuntarily shuddered. That barely audible whisper was the loudest in the chamber. The mere vibrations of the Dark Lord's voice tingled Draco's skin.
"Y-yes, my Lord," said the figure in cloak, quickly averting his gaze to the other three robed men. "Bring out the staff."
At once, the three backed into the shadows and simply seemed to disappear.
"You will take note, Master Draco, that you will be branded with the personal mark of the Dark Lord to assure your worthiness to him and the Cause," said the cloaked man.
Draco nodded impatiently.
"It is not the mark of a death eater. You won't be receiving that . . . yet," he added for emphasis. "You need not worry about meddlesome professors or students. It will not show on your skin . . . it will just twinge every now and then."
"Sir," said Lucius angrily, facing the hooded man. "You did not inform us of this . . . this branding!"
A harsh, raspy laugh shuddered the chamber walls. "Why, Lucius," whispered the figure. "Do you expect me to tell you whenever I choose to do something? Tell me, how have you gained the esteem so that I confide in you for every waking moment of my day? If it offers any comfort, the boy already knew."
Lucius reverted his eyes back to Draco, who didn't meet his father's gaze. "You knew and didn't inform -- " Lucius started angrily.
The Dark Lord interrupted before Lucius could finish speaking. "You should be thankful that I even warned you beforehand that this youth would be proclaimed my successor."
Lucius straightened and tore his gaze from his son. He clenched his shaking hands into fists, just managing to keep the quiver of anger (and was it horror?) out of his voice. "I meant no disrespect, sir. It's just that my son . . . I would have prepared him better than before . . . I apologize, sir."
"You are not the one who should be complaining. And yet, there your brat stands, silent and willing to serve his lord without complaint." Voldemort briefly appraised Draco then turned back to Lucius, his rasp voice somehow managing to get frostier. "Besides, he shouldn't need any preparations. If he indeed is to be my heir then he must stand this without your foolish training."
Lucius shifted uncomfortably, leaning all his weight on one foot and then another.
The dementor-like beings appeared in the room again, each sharing the burden of either carrying a heavy brass stand, a large bowl, a pure-black branding poker, or an ancient scroll. Draco's eyes flickered toward that scroll. The grimy paper, a faded tan in color, looked centuries old.
Draco silently watched the men prepare the brass stand and place the bowl gingerly on top. The one who held the scroll walked over to the bowl, slowly twirling -- nervously, it seemed -- the poker between his fingers. After settling the poker on the stand, he unrolled the scroll and muttered an incantation in a language that Draco had a hard time placing. It sounded like Old Spanish mixed with a good deal of Latin. Salazar's native language. How vile it sounded in this shadowed chamber.
As soon as the chamber grew silent once more, the Dark Lord rose from his chair. Immediately, all six men, including Draco, kneeled.
"To me, Draco."
"My lord." Draco walked up to the bowl, eyes cast down in respect, and the rest of the figures stood up.
A candle flickered and went out.
At once, all the dementor-like figures turned their heads towards the unlit candle that emitted green smoke. Quiet panic whispered through the chamber. The candle wick hissed with a silver, not the usual reddish orange, gleam winking fiendishly. A small wisp of smoke curled, shaping itself into a snake, and slithered in through a blaze of fire. Then wisp of smoke slowly distorted and faded away.
Draco narrowed his eyes. An enchanted candle? For what would Lord Voldemort want to enchant a candle?
"Hurry, fools!" urged Voldemort in a raspy voice.
The man who held the scroll began to utter his spells once more. Lucius looked about uncomfortably, his face unusually pale.
Fire suddenly erupted in the bowl. The flames were bright and licked at the surrounding darkness, teasing it away. But like a cruel mistress, the fire remained cold and unyielding. The flames of hell could never give off a feeling of warmth.
"Ah," said Voldemort, slightly hissing. "Fire to secure the vilest, the darkest of promises. This fire does not tell lies."
Draco lost himself in the mesmerizing dance of the flames.
"Come over here, boy," murmured a dementor look-alike, ushering him in front of the fire.
Draco slowly walked over, trying to restrain his excitement. He knew what was to come.
Voldemort then stood and walked towards the fire. Draco cast his eyes down.
Voldemort laughed. "Do I frighten you, boy?" he asked haughtily.
Draco's head shot up in outrage. For his sake, he kept his face stone-cold and expressionless, though he couldn't hide the anger sparkling in his eyes. "I . . . am not afraid, my lord," said Draco, struggling to keep his voice even.
Draco bowed his head. "How am I to be afraid of one who cannot even show his face?" he muttered to himself.
"What was that?" asked Voldemort nastily.
A tentative silence followed. Draco bit his lip to restrain himself from cursing. Humiliated. He was just humiliated by this revolting creature in front of him. "N-nothing, my lord."
"My lord," said a soft wispy voice. "The preparations are complete. All we need is your --"
"Yes, yes, I know!" interrupted Voldemort. He held out one gloved hand that seemed impossibly small -- almost like a child's. "Just give me the dagger."
Immediately, the figure pulled out the desired weapon from his robes and handed it to Voldemort gingerly.
Voldemort held the dagger up, tilting his head to admire the blade. Draco, curious, looked up also. The dagger was a handsome one. The bold crest of Slytherin was engraved on the delicate silver of the hilt. The iron blade was polished so that it gleamed magnificently, even in this grimy light.
"Beautiful piece of art, isn't it, boy?" inquired Voldemort in his voice that seemed much less raspy and deeper.
Draco bowed his head. "Yes, it is an extraordinary dagger, my lord."
"It was used by Salazar Slytherin himself," started Voldemort with an unmistakable snarl in his voice, "to slit the throat of three mudbloods who stood up against him."
Another pause followed. Draco blinked. He had no knowledge that Salazar Slytherin, one of the great Founding Four, had murdered anyone, even if he had a certain dislike for muggle-borns.
Then without warning, Voldemort used his free hand to pull up the sleeve of his black robe and dug the dagger deeply into his skin.
For a moment, everyone watched, aghast, as dark red blood streamed heavily down his pallid wrist, soaking his robes. Blood spurted everywhere like a fountain.
"My lord," wheezed one of the robed figures.
"I am fine," he managed to sputter out.
Draco stood, bewildered. "My lord, what --"
Voldemort held out his bleeding wrist and walked over to the fire. Draco watched, nausea claiming his stomach, as Voldemort tipped his wrist over the fire. Droplets of blood fell, hissing in the flames like an angry parselmouth.
Slowly, Voldemort pulled his wrist away.
"Well!" he roared, his voice not at all raspy. "Brand the damned boy with my mark before it wears off!"
"Yes, my lord," said the figures at once. One of them held the brander over the fire as another sprinkled black powder on the head. The black powder liquified and boiled.
Draco's breathing tightened. He knew that getting the mark of the dark lord would be . . . very painful. And damn, was the mark big! Almost three times the size of his thumb nail!
"Come, boy," said Voldemort.
Draco stepped forward without a trace of hesitation. He bowed to Voldemort, who clutched his wrist, trying to cease the blood flow. His hands were soaked with red.
"I am ready for the mark," said Draco clearly.
"This mark will go on your back. Take off your cloak and any garments covering your upper back," ordered the figure holding the brander.
Draco narrowed his eyes and stood without moving for a moment. Then, slowly, he unclasped his cloak and pulled his black turtleneck over his back. He threw those garments behind him. "Anything else?"
"If you are strong enough to withstand the pain, you may stand. If not, you may kneel." The hooded figure held the brander over the fire one last time and checked to see if the black powder had melted. "You may recall that my companion said that there was no way to reverse the process. If you bungle this opportunity and get branded incorrectly, you will be ostracized throughout the community of the death eaters. So I ask you again, stand or kneel?"
Draco carefully considered the words. He knew that he would be a fool to ignore this man. But how could he bare to stand and show himself as weak? That he would cower in the face of pain?
"I will stand," said Draco, trying to hide his proud tone.
The hooded figure holding the brander nodded. He slowly walked behind Draco almost hesitantly. And without warning, he plunged the head of the scorching brander on Draco's pale, elegant skin.
Draco clenched his teeth and breathed through his nose, daring not to open his mouth for he feared that if he did, he would scream. He clenched his fists and forced himself to stand even if his knees shook. The agony was too much! He kept his eyes tightly closed with so much force that he could see white dots explode in front of his face.
He thought that this was the worst it would possibly get until the blasted brander was pressed even more firmly against his back.
"God . . ." he gasped, his voice strangled and tight. He bit his lip so hard that it started bleeding, but he felt nothing except the excruciating pain of the brander. He didn't even see how Lucius, face paler than marble, started forward to his son and was quickly restrained by three hooded figures.
At first, Draco didn't know that the brander had finally been removed. Pain pounded through his back and in his brain. He exhaled loudly, not knowing until that moment that he had been holding his breath. Tears of pain rushed up into his eyes, but he kept them within himself. He would not show any weakness, especially in front of his father!
Draco finally opened his eyes, stumbled slightly, then regained his composure. His left shoulder blade ached agonizingly, as if poisoned teeth tore at his skin. He breathed slowly in and out to catch his breath.
"Bravo." Voldemort clapped.
Draco turned to look at him, hate hooding his eyes. Voldemort still bled, but he showed no signs of fatigue. Draco wondered how the Dark Lord was still able to clap with that steaming blood spraying everywhere.
"Congratulations, Draco. It was indeed safe to assume that I have chosen well. You are a worthy successor. Most boys your age would have screamed."
Mock rang in his now-clear voice, as if he had just been successful in playing a cruel practical joke.
"Whether you now like it or not, my blood is now imprinted on your skin. Do you know why I cut my own flesh? For you, boy, for you. Now, as my and Salazar Slytherin's blood flows through your veins and colors your soul, there is no escape. Even if you choose not to become my heir, your destiny is set. Set to be the future Dark Lord! You are pleased now, are you not?"
Lucius moaned. It was barely audible, but Draco heard it. And yet, Draco did not care. Voldemort still remained in his mind, and the anger and hate were all he could think about. Anger and hate for Voldemort. Cold malice dripped in Voldemort's voice. No respect. No faith. No trust. Even after that, Voldemort was wary of Draco. And when a man was wary, he was capable of treachery. Draco stared at Voldemort for a few seconds.
Would this sick fuck betray me, even if I am his heir? Draco wondered.
Voldemort cackled shrilly.
He would. He made me his heir. Not for me, but for him. But why? Some hidden motive? The bastard! He is using me, and I went along. The bastard.
"You are not pleased? Spoilt rich boy."
You think you're using me. And maybe you are. But I am your heir. And I will take over your domain, your power. From right under your nose. Watch me. Half-blooded bastard. Worthless man playing god.
"My lord is mistaken. I am very pleased," Draco managed to spit out. He stared straight into the darkness of Voldemort's hood. "Very pleased. I will not fail you."
The robe shifted slightly. Amusement tinted the Dark Lord's voice. "I know you won't."
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