Draco was perched on a windowsill, staring out into the eerily beautiful garden his mother had once loved. He wasn't alone in his house but he may as well have been. The last few weeks had not been good for Draco Malfoy. It was the beginning of his sixth year at Hogwarts and it was promising to be the worst. He had experienced a painful summer. The Ministry of Magic had finally caught on to the return of He Who Must Not Be Named and had finally started rounding up the Death Eaters Harry Potter had pointed his fingers at a year ago. Lucius, Draco's father, was and always had been a proud Death Eater. A fat load of good it had done him, the elder Malfoy was now stewing away in prison somewhere- not Azkaban, mind you, as Fudge had concluded that the dementors weren't to be trusted. Lucius's arrest had crumbled the Malfoy family. Narcissa was a loving wife and had been devastated by the blow, retreating inside herself in her grief and distancing herself from everyone, especially her son. Draco was thrust suddenly into the bitterness of what their reality truly was. The blasted Ministry had paid him and Narcissa a visit, they had searched and emptied their house of anything that could possible be used in an unfavourable way- leaving the house much more bare. His father had made a grave mistake, a mistake that had not only succeeded in landing him a spot in a new prison but also on the Pissed List of Voldemort, which did not bode well for the remaining Malfoys.
Draco glanced up at a clock on his wall and sighed. The evening was nearly over and tomorrow was September the first and he'd be at Hogwarts once more. On the one side, at least he wouldn't be stuck in this stifling house any longer. On the other, Draco was concerned for his mother. She was a strong woman and always had been but the cold hollowness that had been palpable in her eyes since the moment Lucius had been taken away seriously chilled Draco. She hadn't spoken much all summer and he wasn't keen on leaving her in this house alone for ten months. Of course, some of the other Death Eaters would probably drop in now and then, after all Bellatrix was her sister, but nonetheless Draco very much wanted to keep a watch on her himself.
A rapping on the front door caused a crease to form on Draco's forehead. The noise echoed around every corner of the house. Shifting his position a bit, Draco could see that there was a group of people huddled around his door. They didn't look like Ministry officials. When a second knock impatiently rang through, Draco reluctantly stood up. His mother would not be getting that, and the visitors would not be ignored. With a sinking feeling in his chest, Draco strode down stairs and into the foyer. He had been expecting Death Eaters to pay them a visit for a while now... Saying a silent prayer that he was just being paranoid, Draco slowly put his hand on the knob. It was nearly midnight, who else would be calling? The only thing he could do was hope that Voldemort had not decided to come; if he was there this definitely would not be a check-up to see how Narcissa was doing. Draco had been staring at the knob for a few seconds now. It really couldn't be delayed much longer... A third, very loud banging on the door caused the boy to wince. Draco berated himself for taking so long and being so pathetic and opened the heavy oak door.
"Hope we didn't wake you, Draco." a woman said rather nastily, lowering her hood to reveal the face of Bellatrix Lestrange.
"Come in." Draco told the group around his doorstep, moving aside to make room for the cloaked people and choosing to ignore his Aunt.
"Don't stand there looking like a gold fish, come on, let's take a seat. This could well take a while." Dolohov impatiently stated, brushing past Draco rudely and settling on the deep green couch that lay in the adjoining room. His words made the feeling of doom in Draco's stomach increase but he followed, keeping his face as neutral as possible.
"What did you come for?" Draco asked, a redundant question, hoping his guess was wrong. He counted four Death Eaters.
"Your daddy left us a Death Eater short," Bellatrix grinned, "And he did not do his job properly in June." Biting back the retort that was fighting to escape his mouth, Draco merely inclined his head in agreement.
"Now, the Dark Lord knows that this is not the fault of either you, Draco, nor is it Narcissa's doing." Rodolphus continued, examining his wand rather cheerfully.
"He does?" Draco blinked, a bit of relief seeping into him. Voldemort wasn't angry with them?
"Of course he does, the Dark Lord is not unreasonable," Rodolphus said sharply.
"But the Lord thinks it would be beneficial for your father if you perhaps helped us a bit. Perhaps easing a bit of the debt your father seems to have fallen into. He is offering a great gift." Rodolphus said. "He trusts you enough, acknowledges your talent enough, to offer you something no other has been offered so young."
"He wishes you to join our ranks." Dolohov finished. "You have witnessed much of our activities and the Dark Lord thought you might as well become fully integrated."
"Yes, young Malfoy, you have so far been treading on the right path. You've impressed us. At such a young age, you've proved yourself worthy." Bellatrix smiled with a laugh.
"Draco, do you wish to make up for your father's blunder? Do you wish to join the side of power, the side that can offer you anything you desire? Will you agree to becoming a Death Eater?" the cool voice of the fourth person spoke. Draco had completely forgotten he was there. It wasn't a Death Eater who had spoken. Draco knew it, knew it in the depths of his soul, this was Voldemort addressing him directly.
"My Lord, please, no!" a wild voice broke out. Turning around, Draco saw in surprise that it was his mother who had spoken. Narcissa strode up and placed her hands firmly on Draco's shoulders. Seeing as though she hadn't touched him in two months this gesture shocked Draco.
"Ah. Joining us at last, Narcissa?" Voldemort's mouth twisted into what could be called a smile. "This is a mighty gift, not a punishment, why are you protesting? Unless you think entering into my ranks would not be the safest, wisest, place to be. Unless you believe my judgment is flawed, that I do not know what is best?"
"No! No, my Lord, it isn't that, I would trust you with my life, but my son is just so young- he's only sixteen, not even of age, he would not be of much use to you." Narcissa quickly exclaimed, giving Draco a tight squeeze, warning him not to protest.
"I would find uses." Voldemort answered, a cruel glint appearing in his scarlet eyes. Malfoy's hand twitched involuntarily.
"Sir, my Lord-" Draco began.
His mother dug her nails into his shoulders, hissing, "Do not interrupt him you foolish boy!"
"I was finished, Narcissa. Let the boy speak for himself." severely snapped Voldemort.
"I-I am sorry my Lord." she squeaked, looking frightened. "Don't be a fool." she quietly muttered in her son's ear.
"Sir," Draco began again, "I will be returning to Dumbledore's school, Hogwarts, in less than twelve hours, I do not believe it wise to arrive with your mark on my arm, people would surely notice, and isn't secrecy important?"
"Why you slimly little wuss-" Rodolphus growled.
"Silence. The boy has a good point. Perhaps I should hold back on implanting him with mark just yet." Voldemort interrupted. "Though I still think you could be of great use to me, even if you aren't an official Death Eater. Will you agree to aid me while you are in that school?"
"How, my Lord, will I be able to help you with Dumbledore always there?" Draco reverently questioned.
"You can keep a watch on Potter, and on Dumbledore, report back to me. That doesn't seem like such a dangerous task, does it Malfoy? Or are you too cowardly even for that much?" Voldemort coldly said. "Further instructions will follow."
"Sir-" Draco started.
"Yes? Are you going to weasel out of this, as well? If you are scared I can gladly end that fear right now." Voldemort was losing his patience.
"No, I mean, whatever you wish me to do, My Lord." Draco murmured.
"Good. I trust you will find a suitable way to contact me without detection?" Voldemort said briskly. "I don't see how you could possibly make a blunder but if you don't happen to do as you said I will not happy. Come." He gestured carelessly to the others and the group strode to the door. He gave one last look at Narcissa and tutted, "Do try to look like you trust me a little more, this isn't a dangerous task. I am not condemning him to the fate you fear, if anything happens to him then sadly you have raised a very incompetent wizard. I'm sure we will meet again soon, Narcissa." And the lot of them apparated off.