My first Draco Malfoy fanfiction. It's a little bit dark, but I like the way it turned out none the less. I don't own any of the characters, etc. R/R!

The rain fell endlessly, soaking the pavement and forming little rivers through the narrow gutters of the alley. Signs from various sinister-looking shops swung noisily in the wind. Overhead, the black sky was starless and vacant. A lone figure slowly made his way through the alleyway. He seemed to be headed in the direction of a particular shop with boarded over windows, the sign over the shabby door faded to near illegibility. The sound of his knock on the peeling paint reverberated in the damp stillness of the night.

After a few wet, cold, minutes of waiting, the door pulled open slowly to reveal a dark room. The blue glow of a wand light seen through the crack in the door was barely enough to brighten the interior.

The cloaked visitor on the threshold was quickly ushered inside. Once safely inside the confines of the small building, he threw back his hood. Muttering softly, he illuminated his own wand. The two wands combined formed enough light for the occupants to see each other clearly.

"What are you doing here?" the original inhabitant of the room demanded. He happened to be a short man with greasy grey-black hair. His nose was turned up, and took up rather the majority of his pinched, rat-like face.

"I was summoned here, am I correct?" the tall young newcomer's tenor voice trembled inadvertently as he brandished a piece of parchment. His silver bangs fell into sharp grey eyes, and unlike the other man he had an air of superiority and aloofness. Although at the moment he seemed rather shaken.

The rodent-like man scrutinized the letter, skimming through the long lines of sharply written, pointed script. After a few moments, he nodded in acknowledgement.

"Right you are, come this way," he instructed sharply – though with a measurably heightened amount of respect. He led the boy into rather small room where a green-tinged fire crackled ominously in a blackened hearth. The walls themselves were an eerie shade of white, and were given a very disconcerting tinge from the fire.

"He'll be here to see you in a minute. I'll be around – Mr. Malfoy," the man excused himself, stepping behind a bookshelf. The last two words carried a strange undercurrent of what must have been resentment, although it was hard to tell. Draco took a deep breath, attempting to register a calm that he didn't possess.

Apart from his grim façade, inside he was in torment. Terror, that's what it was. But he couldn't show it. He couldn't even think it. Today was his last chance. It was now or never. The time had come.

Wizardry is something you were born into. Pureblood, Mudblood, nothing controlled it but fate. In a manner of speaking, being a Death Eater was similar. It was time for him to step up and take his place in his father's footsteps. Lucius Malfoy was devoted to the end, but it was human failure that had landed him in his present circumstance – namely Azkaban.

The younger Malfoy turned his head to the other side of the room, but the view didn't change much. Observing his hand on the arm of the chair, he realized that it was trembling. This symptom of his fear seemed to alarm him further. He took a second breath, now looking up towards the ceiling. Distant quotes and pieces of conversation drifted through his mind.

"Pain yes, but the glory…it's your turn, Draco. And don't think you'll get another chance…"

With this quote drifted the heavy-lidded dark face of his aunt Bellatrix. She was part of the reason that he was here today. When he received the summons, she was the first to step up with congratulations – and pressure for him to see it through.

"No, not you too! Please, Draco, don't do it, don't accept. You're only sixteen, why now, why must you do this, Draco, please!"

Mother. Still shaken by Father's recent capture, undoubtedly. She was not an active supporter of the Dark Lord, but she didn't take sides with the others, either. However, this wasn't about the Death Eaters; or anybody else. She was thinking only of her son.

These thoughts subsided as Draco heard the turn of a doorknob. He directed his eyes to the wide oak door through which he had come. It opened again, this time to reveal a tall, middle-aged wizard with relatively long black hair.

"Welcome, Draco," he said silkily, his angular face illuminated eerily in the candlelight. "I was hoping that you would accept."

"I'm ready to render any service I can to the Dark Lord," Draco whispered hoarsely, raising his head. Severus Snape merely laughed.

"Don't bother hiding anything, boy. You're terrified. And I don't entirely blame you."

The young Malfoy averted his eyes in shame. He should have remembered that he was in the presence of an experienced occlumens. There were no secrets anymore. He could have blocked it out; he wasn't entirely naïve of those arts himself. If only he could have kept his head and remembered!

"I'm not your enemy, Draco," the voice interrupted his thoughts once more. Draco nodded solemnly.

"I know that," he said, meeting the dark, cold eyes of his companion. Snape reached for his wand.

"I assume you're ready, then?" he inquired.

"I am."

A chill ran up Draco's spine as he reached for the long sleeve of his robe. He pulled it up to his shoulder. Flexing his long fingers once or twice, he took a deep breath and looked up.

Snape had his wand pointed at the arm of the chair in which Draco sat. As he muttered a soft chant under his breath, long rope-like tendrils extended from under the sides of the chair and wrapped themselves around Draco's wrists.

"No changing your mind now," Snape sneered, giving Malfoy a look of intense superiority.

"I know," Draco replied, now making no effort to hide his fear. Tears gathered at the corners of his eyes. Snape looked away in annoyance for a moment, before conjuring up a chair for himself. Once he had, he directed his wand towards Draco's pale upper arm.

"Just tell me when, boy."

A few moments passed, Malfoy looking sick with dread and Snape looking increasingly impatient. Finally, Draco spoke.


The words had barely had time to escape his lips before Snape shouted an incantation that sounded terrifying in itself, but Malfoy was not listening.

The white-hot pain that began after the first syllable was spoken was nearly unbearable. Draco shifted his weight back and forth in the chair, able to think of nothing but the unbearable, unendurable agony. He could barely hear his own breath above the screams of anguish that he dare not allow to escape.

A few moments passed. Snape watched Malfoy writhe on the chair with an insensitive, almost academic interest. The work was almost complete now. The symbol was seared permanently into the flesh. All but the snake.

As the looping body of the serpent intertwined itself through the mouth of the skull, Malfoy gave a deep, shuddering breath. He trembled slightly on the crimson cushions of the chair, his nails digging into the wood of the arms. Finally, the words were spoken.

"It's over."

For the first time, Draco dared to open his eyes. He still trembled slightly, but a wave of calm mixed with an odd sense of fear washed over him as he gazed at the brand burned into the flesh of his left arm. He looked up at Snape, hoping for some kind of reassurance or welcome.

"Congratulations. You didn't pass out," Snape muttered instead. Draco sighed, conveying a sense of frustration and relief. He wanted to touch or press something against the wound to ease the continued burning sensation, but dared not.

"Does this mean I'm really…?" Draco faltered, still gazing at his arm.

"A Death Eater? Technically, yes. But you've got a lot more than a few minutes of pain to prove your worth to the Dark Lord," Snape said ruefully. "There's much pain in store, Draco. And don't think that your position in his inner circle will necessarily protect you."

"I won't," Draco replied, realizing for the first time that night that he had only been responding in one or two word answers. It didn't seem to matter, though.

"See that you don't. Listen to me, boy," Snape locked eyes with Malfoy, taking him by the shoulders. "You're Lucius's son, no doubt there. So, I feel a certain responsibility for your safety. Just remember, learn as much as you can, in as short a time as you can. Don't trust anyone, aside from the Dark Lord himself. Never regret, and never look back. And above all, pay attention to the Mark."

Malfoy merely nodded; a grave look on his face. Slowly the restraints on his wrists unfurled and disappeared back to whence they had come. Snape stood, and without a single look back, departed through the hidden door in the bookshelf.

Standing himself, Malfoy turned and directed his eyes to the swirling green flames. His dread of earlier that night had hardened to a steely, fearsome determination. No longer would he be a frightened child. He was now Draco Malfoy, Death Eater and personal servant of the Dark Lord.

"Never look back…"