Well done, Draco, well done
Chapter 1: Draco
This can be read as a stand-alone fic, but if you read the prequels "Why Snape never eats here", "Malice in his voice", "Threesome at Spinner's End", "Dumbledore was pretty firm with him" and "I taught him! I thought I knew him!" and the sequel "Power the Dark Lord knows not" you will get a better feel for the particular version of the Potterverse in which this story is set.
The crucio hurt so much, the pain had been so intense, so all-consuming, that he no longer knew where he was, white-hot knives were piercing every inch of his skin, his head was surely going to burst with pain, he was screaming louder than he'd ever screamed in his life, begging for it to stop. And it had stopped, the Dark Lord had lowered his wand, and it had stopped, the Dark Lord had looked down at him as he writhed on the ground, looked at him with his red snake eyes, and told him to go with Snape. The crucio hurt so much, but Snape says he was only under for fifteen seconds, Snape says it was only a slap on the wrist!
He takes the glass of firewhisky that Snape gives him and sips it, urgh, cheap stuff, nothing like the mellow liquid his father lets him have half a glass of sometimes after dinner, but Snape said it would help to stop the trembling, and it is. His father! He thinks, Father, I miss you so much … I have to look after Mother now, I have to be the man of the family now … why didn't the Dark Lord break you out of Azkaban? He's the greatest wizard in the world, why didn't he break you out of Azkaban? I wish you were here, Father, to take care of things, because I am in way, way over my head, and I'm scared, Father.
He looks around the dingy little sitting room, he can see the titles on the spines of some of the books, Dark Arts stuff, very Dark Arts stuff, Father had some books like these but they weren't kept on the bookshelves in Father's study, they were kept in the secret chamber under the drawing room floor.
Snape is lounging in the old armchair opposite, he's looking at Pettigrew, cringing on the other end of the threadbare couch, he raises one eyebrow, pours another glass of whisky and wordlessly hands it to Pettigrew. What's Pettigrew doing here? He knows who he is – the rat Animagus who betrayed the Potters, who gave the flesh of a servant, flesh willingly given to restore the Dark Lord to a body, and he knows what Aunt Bellatrix thinks of the man, a poor wizard and a coward, and Pettigrew certainly seems to be scared of Snape. He can understand that, he's scared of Snape, too, he's known Professor Snape for as long as he can remember and Snape has been his Head of House for six years but tonight he's seen another Snape, Death Eater Snape, and it's been frightening, Snape killed the Headmaster without blinking, he killed Dumbledore just like that. He thinks, I don't know this Snape at all, I don't know the Snape who swears - it would be Scourgify if Mother heard me using language like that - knocks off firewhisky as if it was butterbeer, and chain-smokes Muggle cigarettes - he knows what they are, Mother calls cigarettes a filthy Muggle habit, he'd tried one once, it nearly made him spew – I don't know this Snape.
He thinks over the events of the evening, the awful stand-off on the top of the Astronomy Tower, and how it ended. Snape had grabbed him, hustled him through the battle, blocked all the curses that came their way, blasted the oak doors of the Entrance Hall open with a spell of terrifying force, fled with him across the lawn, and shouted to him to run when they were attacked near the gates. This is puzzling, Snape had protected him, looked after him – like he did when Potter cursed him in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom, and how did Potter know such a Dark spell, anyway? He thinks, I left Snape out in the cold, I didn't tell him what I was doing in the Room of Requirement, I didn't trust him, I believed Bellatrix, I believed that he was out to get all the glory for himself, he doesn't owe me anything - so why did he help me? It can't be the Unbreakable Vow he made to Mother to protect me; that ended when Dumbledore died, when the task the Dark Lord gave me was complete.
He'd Apparated straight to the Manor, he'd been so panicked, he hadn't known what to do, but Snape had guessed where he'd go, had come after him, told he had time to say goodbye to Mother and then they were leaving … said that Aurors would be at the Manor within the hour. Aurors! And he'd thought about Greg and Vincent, he'd thought, they'll be OK, they haven't done anything, they didn't know anything about what he was doing in the Room of Requirement, he hadn't told them anything, they shouldn't be in trouble – should they? And then he'd thought about the werewolf, Grayback, had he bitten anyone? What did he say, "you know how much I like kids," and Merlin knows he's crazy, he could have bitten anyone, he could have bitten Pansy or Blaise or Theodore or anyone … but he wasn't transformed, so they should be OK, shouldn't they?
Mother had cried, wept with joy and relief that Dumbledore was dead and her son was alive, she'd flung her arms around Snape and kissed him, but Snape had just said to her, tersely, it's not over yet, and then they'd felt the Dark Lord's summons. He wasn't quite sure what to expect, but Aunt Bellatrix had said he would be honoured above all others if he succeeded. He'd told himself, I did succeed, OK, Snape had to finish Dumbledore off, but he'd been the one to find a way through the wards, to find a way to get Death Eaters into Hogwarts. He'd thought, everything is going to be all right now, he will be pleased, Mother is safe now, I'm safe, and Father will be proud of me when he finds out what I've done … it's over, I've proved myself, the stupid old man was talking complete crap when he said, "It is my mercy and not yours that matters now," but when they'd Apparated to the Dark Lord's side, no one seemed to be celebrating.
The circle of Death Eaters around the Dark Lord had radiated tension, they were nervous, very nervous, with an undercurrent of avid anticipation, and he'd felt suddenly out of his depth, he'd felt that something was going on that he didn't really understand. He'd been secretly thankful that Snape had placed a restraining hand on his arm, that it was Snape who had been the first to approach the Dark Lord. Snape had dropped to his knees, bowed his head, crawled to the Dark Lord and kissed his robes, and he'd heard Snape telling the Dark Lord that he'd found Dumbledore alone, disarmed, heard him playing up his, Draco's, role, playing down his own … and he'd understood, Snape doesn't know how the Dark Lord is going to react, I was supposed to do it, not Snape, shit, if Snape is worried, I should be worried, too.
The Dark Lord had leaned down, put his hand under Snape's chin, tilted his head up until he could look straight into his eyes, yeah, he's using Legilimency on Snape. He could hear what they said to each other, but it was a weird experience, he was only hearing half of the conversation, the verbal half.
The Dark Lord had laughed, "Dumbledore begged? He begged for his life? He really thought you were his man, Severus, the Muggle-loving old fool really thought you were his man through and through … delicious, Severus, delicious."
"You have returned to me, Severus, truly you have returned to me, and to think that once I believed that you had left me for ever … "
"Potter tried to use your own spells on you, called you a coward? Tsk, tsk, that hurt, didn't it, my little half-blood? But you didn't kill him, you have learned the virtue of obedience …"
Snape is a HALF-BLOOD?
Then Snape's voice, "My Lord, Potter is for you alone … you alone must kill the Chosen One."
"So you have always advised me, Severus, but why did you not bring him to me?"
"My Lord, we were still within the Disapparation wards when the Hippogriff attacked, I would have stunned him and brought him to you, but for the Hippogriff."
He remembers the Hippogriff, screaming and screaming, terrifying, if anything it was bigger and more horrible than the foul beast that ripped his arm in third year … the last thing he can remember seeing before he Disapparated is the Hippogriff swooping on Snape.
The Dark Lord is speaking again, "I am pleased with you, Severus, very pleased … I knew that you could do it, I knew that you would do it, if young Malfoy failed. Do not fret about Potter, I shall have him soon enough, I may even let you play with him a little before I kill him."
"My Lord, you are generous, I am grateful, my Lord, I only wish to be near you and to serve you …"
And then it was his turn, his turn to kneel at the Dark Lord's feet, Merlin, what does he mean "if young Malfoy failed"? He'd kept his head bowed, terrified that the Dark Lord would use Legilimency on him, would find out that Dumbledore had offered him sanctuary, offered sanctuary to his whole family, and in a weak moment he'd wanted to believe him, wanted to say yes, but the Dark Lord had only one question for him.
"You did not attempt the Killing Curse? You did not even attempt it?" It wasn't really a question, it was a statement, and he hadn't dared to reply.
"You have not been well trained." The Dark Lord had looked directly at his Aunt Bellatrix, Bellatrix had looked furious, and he'd realised, Bellatrix only cares about the Dark Lord, she only cares about him, and I've stuffed up, made her look bad, she's really angry with me, she doesn't like Father, either … and she was playing me off against Snape, when she told me not to trust him.
"Snape will be responsible for your further training … and you will do better next time, won't you, young Malfoy?"
He'd stammered agreement, and then the Dark Lord had hit him with the Cruciatus Curse.
He'd lain on the ground, shaking from the after effects of the crucio, and he'd realised then that it wasn't over, it was never going to be over, and now he's a wanted criminal, the Aurors will be after him and Snape, sooner or later they'll find out what happened. There were two broomsticks up on the Astronomy Tower, maybe someone saw everything … he remembers the ten thousand galleon reward the Ministry offered for Sirius Black, how much more will they offer for Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy? He's made his bed and now he's going to have to lie in it – and what task will the Dark Lord give him next? And what will happen if he fails? He's had a taste of the Cruciatus Curse already, and it could be worse, the Dark Lord had threatened to kill him if he failed to kill Dumbledore, and he'd known that was no idle threat. He knows what happened to his mother's cousin Regulus, the cousin that his mother and Bellatrix don't like to talk about – he'd been a Death Eater and he'd disappointed the Dark Lord, and he'd been executed.
The Dark Lord had spoken to Snape for a little while in a low voice, and then they'd Apparated away, to a smelly river bank in some Muggle town, and now they're at Snape's house, he can still hardly believe that Snape is a half-blood, Father's best friend, the Head of Slytherin House, is a lowly half-blood. But this house is a foul Muggle dump alright, and now Snape is telling him that he is not to use magic in the house. Not use magic? He looks incredulous, and Snape explains.
"Draco, do you know how the Ministry selects Muggle-born students to attend Hogwarts? Do you know how the Ministry detects breaches of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery?"
He shakes his head – what would he know about Muggle-borns? And Father and Mother have never bothered about him using magic on the holidays, provided he only does it at the Manor.
"The Ministry knows the location of the home of almost every adult witch and wizard in Britain. The Ministry can also detect the use of magic by a minor – and if the magic is used in a house which is not known to them as a wizard's house … you understand, Draco, this house is not known to the Ministry – the Ministry investigates. And I do not wish this house to become known to the Ministry, I think none of us wish it to become known to the Ministry. Draco, you will not use magic in this house …" Snape's eyes had flicked to Pettigrew ... "There will be no unnecessary use of magic in this house by anyone. It is warded to hide the use of magic, but every use of magic requires the wards to be replenished, and it irritates me to have to replenish the wards."
No magic, no house elf – clearly no house elf – he wonders, who does the cleaning and the cooking in this house? Snape must have guessed his thoughts, because he looked at Pettigrew again, and smirked nastily.
He finishes his whisky and Snape pours him another glass, stares at him appraisingly. He's never had so much hard liquor in his life, the trembling has stopped, and now he feels a bit light-headed, a bit drunk. At least Snape doesn't appear to be trying Legilimency on him … must have got used to the idea that it won't work. Nevertheless, he avoids Snape's eye, and tries to work out what's going on. OK, the Dark Lord isn't pleased with him, but he's being given a second chance, Snape is going to give him some more training. He can guess what that means – serious duelling training, not the piss-weak Defence stuff he was taught at Hogwarts, slicing hexes and bone-breaking curses, stuff like that, and maybe it won't be too bad, Snape isn't holding the lies he'd told him about the necklace and the poisoned mead against him, of course he wouldn't, it's the Slytherin way, isn't it? And Snape has been a friend and a rival of Father's since their school days … He drinks some more of his whisky, it doesn't taste so rough now, and tells himself that maybe things aren't so bad.
Snape is speaking again, asking him what experience he's had with the Unforgiveable Curses, and he thinks, imperio is easy, Father taught me that one … so he tells Snape that he put Rosmerta under the Imperius, and had checked on her as frequently as he could, to renew the curse. Snape looks approving, and he relaxes.
Snape is asking him about the Cruciatus, that makes him feel a bit uneasy, he tells Snape that Bellatrix had got him to try it out on a dog, and he'd eventually managed it, though he thinks, I didn't really want to do it, it was just a bloody dog, but I imagined it was that stinking blood traitor Ronald Weasley … and then I could do it, enough to please Bellatrix, anyway. Snape asks, "A big black dog, I suppose?" He nods, and Snape looks amused, and lights another cigarette. Suddenly, unreasonably, he's angry and he'd like to tell Snape that there is nothing funny about the Cruciatus Curse. He remembers when he tried to crucio Potter in the bathroom, he'd been so frightened that he'd never be able to fix the Vanishing Cabinet, that he'd never succeed, he'd been so frightened of the Dark Lord, that he'd actually been crying – and the Scarhead had to see that! And he thinks, now that I know what crucio feels like, I don't think I could do that to anyone, not even Potter ….
Now Snape is asking him about the Killing Curse, and his stomach knots up. He'd tried and tried with the dog, they'd tied it up so it couldn't move and he'd cursed it again and again, he'd managed to hurt it, it had yelped and howled until he felt sick, but he couldn't finish it off. Bellatrix had got really angry, she'd finally killed the animal herself, but he doesn't want to admit failure, so he lies. But Snape is leaning forward, those black eyes are boring into his, and he's speaking in his softest, most dangerous voice, "Don't try to fuck me around, Draco, this is too important," and now he's frightened as well as angry, he remembers how he kept Snape out of his mind the time that Filch sprang him at Christmas, on his way to the Room of Requirement, and he'd pretended to be gatecrashing Slug's party, but now he's wondering if Snape was going easy on him then because of the Vow, so he confesses that he wasn't able to kill the dog. And now he knows what the further training means, he's got to master the Avada Kedavra.
Snape is telling him about the theoretical basis of the Killing Curse, saying, "The Killing Curse is comparable to the Patronus Charm. The Patronus requires you to concentrate on a single, very happy memory, and conversely, the Avada Kedavra requires you to concentrate on a memory that inspires hate and anger, to focus such a memory. You really need to mean it, you must really want to kill."
He thinks, memories of Potter catching the Snitch or Granger beating me in Potions don't quite cut the mustard, not that I like the Scarhead or the Mudblood, because I don't, but why should someone die just because they're good on a broomstick, or smart? And he dare not think of the memory that really angers him, the memory of his branding with the Dark Mark, while his mother watched and trembled, too frightened to openly weep, thoughts like that are traitorous, thoughts like that are dangerous … Snape mustn't see these thoughts. He's feeling a bit odd now, a bit out of it, maybe he's had enough to drink, better not have any more whisky.
Snape is watching him, his face expressionless, lighting another one of those stinking cigarettes, and he thinks, insanely, I suppose Dumbledore wouldn't let him smoke at Hogwarts, bad example to the students … Now Snape is speaking again, "You will have to do better than you have done so far, Draco, a lot better, if you hope to please the Dark Lord. I'm afraid your father has set rather a high standard for you to follow, Lucius is very accomplished in the use of the Killing Curse."
He stares at Snape, and he thinks, Father never said much about what he does for the Dark Lord, he never said much about it before he went to Azkaban, but I suppose he must have tortured people, and not just a bit of fun, like with the Muggles at the Quidditch Cup – those stupid annoying Muggles - he must have killed them, too … but what does Snape mean by "accomplished", what does that mean? The Avada Kedavra kills a person, right, what more is there to it than that? He thinks, maybe I don't want to know what Snape means … but Snape is telling him, anyway.
"In the old days, we used to play a little game with Muggles … Muggle-killing raids can be so dull. We'd imperio some Muggles, get them to line up one behind the other, and see how many we could kill with one Avada Kedavra. Merlin, your father was good! His personal best was eight Muggles … nearly as good as mine …."
He can't believe what he's heard, he wants to protest – my father doesn't do things like that, sure, he believes in blood purity and that means putting the Muggles and the Mudbloods in their place and restoring the position of the old wizarding families, but he wouldn't do things like that, that's sick, that's just butchery.
Snape is leaning forward again, and he's deadly serious, using that silky, dangerous voice that's more frightening than when he shouts. "Draco, you can't afford to be squeamish about Muggles. There are sixty million Muggles in Britain, we could kill them night and day and it would hardly make a dent in their numbers. We will need to find a couple of Muggles for you to practice the Killing Curse on, because you are of no use to the Dark Lord whatsoever if you cannot even kill Muggles, and I advise you, Draco, I strongly advise you, not to disappoint the Dark Lord again."
Snape gives him a moment to digest this, and then he speaks again, "You will have to be able to do a lot better than Muggle killing to be of any real value to the Dark Lord. We will be fighting the Aurors in a few days, and you have a lot to learn if you are have any chance of surviving a duel with an Auror."
Now he feels sick, really sick, he mutters something about too much to drink … and Snape takes him by the arm, hustles him through a doorway in the bookshelves, up some stairs, and into a bathroom, he's struggling not to spew until he can get his head over the toilet bowl. Thank god Snape has closed the door, left him alone, he vomits again and again, splattering his robes, but he doesn't care, he just doesn't care, and the full horror of his situation hits him.
He remembers boasting to Pansy and the others on the train, about the job he was given to do by the Dark Lord, and he thinks, you idiot, you idiot, Father and Aunt Bellatrix talked a lot about the honour and glory of serving the Dark Lord … but that's bullshit, it's just murdering helpless Muggles, and I can't even do that, I couldn't kill Dumbledore, I had the chance and I couldn't do it, it's either murdering Muggles or going up against Aurors, and that's insane, Aurors have years of training and I'm not even of age! He thinks, taking the Dark Mark means a lifetime of service or death - and crucio if you make a mistake or even if he's just pissed off about something – and it's probably going to be death … the Dark Lord thought I'd die attempting to kill Dumbledore, and I didn't, but he's still going to kill me anyway.
And then he's crying, he thinks, Father, how could you do this to me? How could you be so stupid as to get mixed up with a psychopathic madman? What could the Dark Lord have offered you that you didn't have already? Money, position, power? The Malfoys have always had those things … and that stuff about blood purity, it's crap, it's just an excuse to kill Muggles and make a grab for power, the Dark Lord would use anybody, Snape's his new favourite, and he's a half-blood, you didn't believe all that stuff about blood purity, did you Father? I thought you were smart, Father, I've always admired you and tried to please you, but I can't do this … I can't do this. Dumbledore tried to help me, but it's too late now, I can't go to the Ministry now, and if I did, the Dark Lord would kill Mother … and Snape, I used to like Snape, I thought he was cool, how could he fall for it, he's a half-blood, and you always told me that a half-blood is just one step up from a filthy Mudblood.
And then he thinks, it's true, isn't it, what Snape told me, you and your best friend out on a spree, killing Muggles for entertainment, and was that all, or were there worse things, things that Snape hasn't told me about? And he remembers the Bloodlust calendar that had circulated in the boys' dormitory until Snape got wind of it and confiscated it - incendioed it, actually – he'd pretended that he'd seen stacks of that kind of stuff, he'd acted cool and sophisticated, but the photographs had been revolting. One of the images flashes into his mind, but now the witch has Hermione Granger's face, and he thinks, no, they'd do that to Granger just because she's a Muggle-born, they'd do that to Hermione … not that I've ever had a chance with her, the way Potter and the Weasel hang around her all the time, and then he's vomiting again, even though there's nothing left in his stomach. The last thing he thinks, before he passes out, is damn you, Father, damn you, I don't care what you think, I don't care if she's a Mudblood and a Gryffindor, I don't care ...