A/N I obviously don't own anything that JK Rowling does. Only my own demented brain.
Full Summary:Theodore Nott has always been the overlooked Slytherin. Overshadowed
by the goonish Crabbe and Goyle, the snotty Draco Malfoy, the
charismatic Montague, the forbidding Flint, and the shrill Pansy Parkinson, he
has always managed to slip under people's radars. At the urging of his
elderly father, Theo joins the Death Eaters in his sixth year, along
with a group of his Slytherin acquaintances. Now all he has to do is
keep his head down and do what he does best; be ignored. It should be
easy, right? Wrong. The Dark Lord has implemented a new reward system for
his followers: captured Mudbloods. And Gryffindors Hermione Granger,
Katie Bell, and Slytherin's own Tracey Davis are among them.
Chapter One: In which Pansy Parkinson is no longer underestimated
"Bellatrix said new Mudbloods are coming in tonight," Pansy said smugly, sweeping her black bob from her face.
The other boys perked up, while Theo rolled his eyes. Only Pansy could get away with calling her Bellatrix. It was "Lady Bellatrix," or "Mrs. Lestrange" or "Ma'am" or "Sir" (mistakenly squeaked out in terror) for the rest of them.
Pansy was the only female Death Eater besides Mrs. Lestrange herself, and that, plus a certain behavioral resemblance, had quickly made her Bellatrix's protégé. Pansy had become so full of herself lately even Draco, the King-of-Self-Absorption, had noticed.
Aidan Montague shot him a bored look from the couch. He was the only one besides Theo himself that looked less than enraptured at Pansy's news. Then again, Aidan almost always looked that way. Theo's look of contempt was under lied by a strange sinking feeling in his stomach. This had nothing, he hastened to assure himself, with concern or something ridiculous like that for the bloody Mudbloods, but everything to do with his dinner, which apparently hadn't agreed with him.
Are you sure about that Nott? The blasted voice, the one that had seemingly quadrupled in volume upon the night he had received the Dark Mark, whispered cruelly. Sure it has nothing to do with the fact that you might be thinking a little differently about Muggles?
Shut up! A second voice, his father's voice, hissed back. I think nothing of the sort. Muggles are foul, stupid creatures that should never have polluted our race.
And how do you figure that, exactly? The evil voice asked, airily amused. Certainly you, yourself, are a fouler, stupider creature than a Muggle could ever be, for following a psychopath like your master, hmm?
Theo dug his nails into his palms and refused to listen to his thoughts any more. He forced himself to pay attention to the others.
"More Mudbloods, eh?" Draco drawled. Theo privately suspected Draco's voice was only able to communicate in either a disdainful drawl or a squeak of girly terror. "They better be an improvement on the last lot."
The last group of Mudbloods presented to the Death Eater faithful as trophies had been less than exciting: A few dumpy looking women, ranging from mid-twenties to their sixties, and three young men that had been claimed quickly by high-ranking Death Eaters with penchants for boys.
Older Mudblood males were usually put to use doing extreme physical labor solely for the Death Eater's sadistic amusement, or else killed outright. The extremely unlucky ones were used as training devices for younger/incompetent Death Eaters, and for testing new innovations in curses and potions.
The women were offered to the Death Eaters as toys; the toy usage depending on personal preference. Though they had been less than attractive, they had all been originally taken by a Death Eater, even the oldest woman who had wrinkles and white streaked throughout her hair. She was the first to outlast her welcome. Rookwood had given her back to the rest of them, and after Avery had taken her for a few days, she was shunted back up for grabs. This time, there were no takers, and some of the men had enjoyed a rousing game of "torture the Mudblood to death" that night. Theo had stumbled back to the edge of the forest outside of the castle where they had gathered and puked for some time after that memorable occasion. Aidan had joined him after a few minutes, a faraway look in his dark blue eyes.
"She worked for St. Mungo's. One of the head Healers," he had said simply.
Theo had not shown up the nights they had disposed of the other Mudbloods after they had served their purposes. He wasn't the only one, he knew the Dark Lord was almost never at these sick celebrations in the forest surrounding their hideout, and neither was that strange, balding man with the silver hand. Flobberworm, or Inchworm, or Wormtoungue or something-or-other was his name. Only one woman and one man of the original group of Mudbloods were still alive.
Aidan went sometimes, mainly to ingratiate himself in with the higher ranks of Death Eaters. Theo's father, an older, stooping man, was rarely seen at the revelries either. Pansy didn't miss a single one.
Theo, of course, was not aware of the identities of all of his fellow Death Eaters. Before, in the first war, he knew it was all much more secretive, the masks were always worn, names were not used. But the Dark Lord had grown arrogant. Well, even more so than he usually was. They still attended meetings hooded, but most of their faces were unmasked. It was unnecessary to hide many of them; the ten who had broken out of Azkaban, Inchworm, and the men who had spent a brief sojourn in Azkaban at the end of his fifth year, were already revealed as Voldemort supporters. After months of successful attacks, vicious blows to the magical community, and the ranks swelling into the hundreds, secrecy was not a cause for concern. There were a few, still, who always wore their masks, never spoke, and never were directly addressed, that stood off to the side of every meeting of the Dark Lord's. These men, Pansy had informed the rest of the new recruits, (with an amount of self-importance so large she was in danger of floating away from the hot air filling her enormous head) were spies for their cause. Obviously very few were aware of who they were, although Theo, Aidan, Pansy, Draco, and the others who had recently graduated from Hogwarts (or should've still been attending,) knew the identity of the spy's leader; Professor Snape. Snape, as Draco had told them, was one of the higher Death Eaters as well as his own father, Lucius.
The Ministry was in disarray, the Dark Lord had given no reprieve when Fudge finally had admitted Voldemort was back. So the average family was unprepared and easily overpowered when he had come calling at their homes. Hundreds had died already, many more blackmailed, brainwashed, or persuaded to join him. This was the environment that Theo joined the Death Eaters in, just over three weeks ago, halfway into his Sixth year at Hogwarts.
He already regretted it. It was a stupid, rash decision, and he knew it would cost him his life in the end. It was easy to know that sort of thing, but much harder, as a seventeen year old boy, to accept it. And he didn't think he was the only one. His group of Death Eater buddies, the ones who had been initiated either with him or right before or right after him, were all ranked around the same in the hierarchy. It was an unspoken hierarchy, but one that was made obvious almost immediately upon joining. While his group was not quite the dregs of the Death Eaters, they were uncomfortably close to being so. The only reason they weren't considered the lowest, was their connections.
Vincent, Greg, Draco and Theo all had fathers already in service. Pansy was Bellatrix's special favorite. Marcus Flint, Terence Higgs, Aidan, Bole, Warrington, and Derrick were all friends of Draco's at Hogwarts, pureblood Slytherins, whose fathers were, if not actual members, secretly helping to financially back the eradication of Muggle blood from their world. Theo knew he owed his current position in the order to his father, and, unfortunately, Pansy. She was under the misguided impression that they were great friends. Not so; Theo just knew his enemies. Pansy wasn't quite an enemy, per se, just someone whose good side it was prudent to stay upon. She had informed him a few nights ago that she had named names to Bellatrix on those she thought were essential to their cause.
"And," she had said smugly, a smile twisting her pretty, yet deadly face, "I mentioned your name first off, Theo."
This had shocked him quite a bit. He was under the distinct impression that Pansy was Draco's little lapdog, and therefore considered him worthy of little notice or consideration. She had assured him otherwise.
"Draco?" her mouth laughed, but her eyes remained cold and unsmiling. "Why, thank you Theo, I suppose that was a compliment to my acting abilities." She had sat back on his couch, crossing her legs. Theo had the growing, horrifying suspicion that Pansy was attempting to seduce him. "Surely, you know Slytherin is the house of the ambitious and cunning," she said patronizingly.
Theo raised an eyebrow, but remained silent. He had learned long ago of the benefits of keeping quiet and letting others dig themselves into holes with their words.
"I kissed up to Draco when it suited me," she said carelessly. "Now it doesn't. Finally, someone recognizes me for my own talent, and not because I am Draco's girlfriend," she said with a sneer of disgust. She glared angrily at a pillow, apparently lost in her thoughts, petty as Theo figured they must be. "Draco is useless," she spat angrily. "The only reason he is even thought of as powerful is because of his father. But we know better, don't we Theo?" she smiled at him sideways, through her eyelashes.
Idly, Theo wondered when she had started wearing so much makeup.
"He pouts and he whines, he isn't even particularly intelligent, and worst of all, he is a coward. No, I told Bellatrix you were much more suitable to climb the ranks of the Dark Lord. Just think, Theo," she had leaned forward here, her eyes sparkling with mischief and something frightening he could not place, "what we could accomplish together."
"Pansy," Theo finally responded, after tearing away his eyes from the large expanse of pale flesh that had just appeared below Pansy's neck, "what, exactly, are you trying to do?"
Pansy smiled, and ran her tongue along her bottom lip. She had just opened her mouth to respond when Aidan had banged into Theo's room without so much as knocking. His dark eyes had flown between Theo and Pansy, taking the scene in rapidly, a smirk twisting his pale lips.
"I say, Pansy," he drawled, "isn't Draco going to be angry at you for shagging one of his best mates?"
Her mouth curved into a snarl, and she stood up in a flash.
"Jealous, Montague?" she bit out, her words a vindictive hiss. "After all, why would I want someone stupid enough to spend a week trapped in a toilet?"
The amusement dropped from Aidan's face instantly.
"I don't know, Pansy," he snapped, "why would I want someone stupid enough to get antlers stuck to her head?"
Theo barely managed to hold back a snicker when Pansy stormed towards the door in a towering rage. She turned in the doorway, a sickly smile back on her face. She ignored Aidan.
"We'll continue this conversation later, Theo," she had purred before leaving.
Theo was drawn from his reverie when Draco stood up, stretching.
"Well, we best get a move on so we're not late," he said bossily. "I want to get a good look at the merchandise before purchasing," he smirked, apparently highly impressed with his own sparkling wit. Crabbe, Goyle, Bole and Derrick chortled automatically.
Some of the older ex-Slytherin Quidditch players shot each other disgusted looks. Only Flint had the balls to keep Malfoy in line.
"Who says you even get any Mudbloods, Malfoy?" he said in his low, gravelly voice. "I thought you had to actually earn the Dark Lord's favor to win one. Something we all know you have failed to do."
They all laughed, including Pansy and Draco's minions. Draco looked slightly betrayed, but kept silent. He knew better than to mess with Flint. They all did, the man was enormous.
Their laughter abruptly cut off when every left arm in the group began burning. They all clutched reflexively at their stinging forearms, none of them were used to the sudden pain of the summons yet. Theo shoved his robes on, drawing the hood over his head and placing his mask into a fold inside his cloak alongside his wand. The others were doing similar last minute grooming, and Pansy was combing her fingers hurriedly through her short black hair. A series of pops sounded through the parlor they had been lounging in, as the group of young Death Eater recruits apparated away to their Master's side.
Theo reappeared instantly inside a large, circular, underground room. The walls were heavy stone, the floor bare and dark, like unpolished black stone. Torches mounted in brackets along the wall in intervals dimly lit the gloomy room. A large black velvet tapestry, embroided with shiny green thread depicting the Dark Mark hung from one part of the circular wall. There was exactly one door, set opposite from the tapestry, an iron affair with large deadbolts locking it shut. The low ceiling and large amount of cloaked wizards in the room made the atmosphere slightly claustrophobic.
All in all, Theo thought it was remarkably cliché. He was frankly astounded the Dark Lord had neglected the accompanying towering throne. The man (if he could be called a man) in question was standing in front of the tapestry, hands behind his back, staring around impassively at the gathering apparating before him.
It was unusual that the Dark Lord was meeting with them at all, he usually left assignments and morale boosting to his underlings. He put in the occasional appearance, but most of his time was spent behind the scenes, plotting and strategizing. Voldemort was always at the new recruit's initiation ceremonies, perhaps there were new people waiting to join that Theo and his friends were unaware of.
Aidan shifted next to him, nudging Theo forwards after Flint. They took their places in the outer circle. The inner circle was composed of twenty or so wizards (and witch) that were trusted by their Master above all others. They alone were unmasked and un-hooded. Bellatrix, of course, was the aforementioned witch, standing next to her husband Rodolphus, whose other side was flanked by his older brother Rabastan. Lucius Malfoy was there as well, along with Augustus Rookwood, Mulcibur, Rookwood, Jugson, Avery, Ringworm, Travers, four other wizards who had spent over ten years entombed in Azkaban, the senior versions of Crabbe and Goyle, and his own father, Thaddeus Nott, who had recently been promoted to the inner circle upon Macnair's death by the hands of Aurors.
The group of ten spies, the only figures both masked and hooded, were in a shadowy nook away from the circles. Their leader, a figure that was clearly recognizable as Snape from the black, glittering eyes, stood slightly ahead of them.
Theo's spot amongst the larger, outer circle, who wore their hoods up, was indicative of his standing amongst the Death Eaters. While the inner circle stayed mostly stagnant, the outer circle was constantly being expanded and reorganized. Composed of over a hundred wizards (and Pansy as the one witch) they were the soldiers, the followers of their leaders. The spies dealt in stealth, the inner circle dealt in planning and commanding.
It was ingenious, really, the system the Dark Lord had. Not only did they all know exactly who had the most power, (and who had the least) among them, it was a strong motivational factor. A Death Eater with ambition, (which they almost all had) and who pleased their Lord with loyalty and hard work, moved upwards in both literal and figurative ways. The Dark Lord began to speak.
"All my Death Eaters are here, I see. Excellent. I have good news to report," Lord Voldemort spoke in a high, chilling voice, in a volume that was both quiet and carrying. "Three successful raids have been conducted against our opposition.. Bella managed to capture Elphias Doge, a member of the Order of the Phoenix," Voldemort gave her a rare approving look, "and he will be… questioned," here, a few Death Eaters snickered, "for information. I trust Lucius has given you your assignments for the next few days," they nodded their assent, "and I remain confident you will not fail me," A small shudder raced through the gathered wizards and witches at the veiled threat. "Wormtail," Voldemort snapped out.
Wormtail! Theo thought, that was his name. A small, balding man with a pointed nose, watery eyes, and a silver hand hurried forward from his spot in the inner circle, and stood by the Dark Lord's side.
"Wormtail will take over for me once I have finished drilling it into your thick skulls what I expect of you," he said coldly. Theo looked sideways at Aidan, who seemed just as startled by this declaration as he. The other Death Eaters were shifting nervously, and would have been murmering their bewilderment if they had dared.
"I'm sure everyone has heard about the new group of captured Mudbloods that have arrived for your sport," the Dark Lord continued, unfazed. "Do not take for granted my gifts," his red eyes roamed over the crowd of his followers. "The rest of you who are not named, work harder and you will have first choice of the spoils," the Dark Lord managed to make even this sound like a threat. "I can take away any Mudblood, for any reason, at any time. Do not question why."
Theo privately wondered who would be insane enough to do so, briefly considered Bellatrix, who was notoriously crazy, then rejected her as too fanatical to question motives.
"If any of my Death Eaters," here, the Dark Lord paused, made deliberate eye contact with the inner circle, and continued, "any of my Death Eaters displeases me, expect to meet me in chamber six tomorrow evening."
The flinching of the group assembled was far more obvious this time. Chamber Six was the stuff of nightmares, a place spoken of in hushed whispers, where few emerged from alive. "Wormtail will now proceed," the Dark Lord intoned, "good evening."
He apparated away after his customary, cordial dismissal, and the small man known as Wormtail stepped forward.