Which of you conjured the Dark Mark?

This vignette isn't part of the seven part series that starts with "Why Snape never eats here", I'm just playing with an idea suggested by excessivelyperky. However, if you read the series you will get a better feel for the particular version of the Potterverse in which the story is set.

Chapter 1: Narcissa Malfoy

Draco is still asleep, and she's instructed the house-elves not to wake him for breakfast – it had been after two o'clock in the morning before she'd managed to find him in the crowd and Apparate them home to the Manor – Side-Along Apparition, of course, because Draco is only fourteen, he hasn't got his licence yet. She'd left the house-elves to manage the tent, that wasn't important, the only thing that mattered was to get Draco away from that horrible place, to get away from the screaming, terrified hordes trampling about in the darkness – and away from the Ministry wizards firing Stunners indiscriminately into the crowd.

It had been absolutely awful, a bedlam, a nightmare, and she hadn't even thought of trying to get to sleep herself once they'd got safely home. She'd sat up all night, wrapped in a dressing gown, waiting for a message from Lucius ... but there had been no word. The house-elves had appeared with the tent and their baggage very early in the morning, but they haven't seen the Master, and there's been no owl.

So now she's having tea and toast in her bedroom, and she can barely keep that down, she's so anxious. And she can't stop the tears, either, even though they make her nose run and her eyes puff up, even though a daughter of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, toujours pur shouldn't cry - a daughter of the House of Black should be controlled, lady-like, dignified, at all times.

It had been awful – and it had ruined a wonderful evening, Draco had enjoyed the match so much, and Ludo Bagman had been only too happy to arrange for him to get all the players' autographs, even Viktor Krum's ... and Krum had reminded her a little of Severus – dark, brooding and intense – but then wasn't Severus' father Bulgarian or Hungarian or something like that? His father's family were refugees from the Grindelwald war, and his mother was a Slytherin ... Snape would be an Anglicisation of the name ...

And of course they'd had seats in the Top Box, didn't Lucius make the most generous contributions towards worthy causes? Hadn't he just made a large donation to St Mungo's, enough to fund the new 'Dangerous' Dai Llewellyn Ward for Serious Bites? And Draco had looked the very picture of a Slytherin princeling when he escorted her to her seat, the living image of Lucius at the same age – and he's so handsome in his dress robes, she'd worried a little when she bought them that he might have grown out of them by the time of the Yule Ball, he's shooting up so fast, he'll be as tall as his father by the time he's sixteen ...

True, it had been an unpleasant shock to find the Top Box full of Weasleys, that Arthur Weasley is such a vindictive beast, saying those terrible things about Lucius causing his daughter to be bewitched - just because Lucius opposed his ridiculous Muggle Protection Act! She'd been hard put not to say something to the nasty creature, but she was determined not spoil the evening by provoking a fight in the presence of the Minister for Magic himself. She'd remembered the brawl in Flourish and Blotts, she hadn't seen it herself, but Draco had told her all about it. Weasley hadn't even tried to hex Lucius, he hadn't fought like a wizard – he'd used his fists like a foul, common, dirt-veined Muggle - a shocking display of Muggle-duelling, though it's some consolation that Lucius had won the fight, given the other man a cut lip ...

But at least Molly Weasley hadn't been there last night, she hadn't had to put up with the insufferable woman gloating over her brood of blood traitors – all the Weasleys have red hair, freckles, and more children than they can afford ...

And how dare the Weasleys have seven children, when they could scarcely feed and clothe them! And they live in some filthy hovel in Devon, amongst a lot of Muggles, extra rooms piled on higgledy-piggledy, it's hard to believe that the Weasleys are pure-blood, they completely lack proper wizarding pride. And the mother is so slatternly and careless ... she remembers the first year she'd taken Draco to catch the Hogwarts Express, a dreadful ordeal struggling through the crowds of Muggles milling about, and the traffic outside Kings Cross had been appalling ... the Weasley woman had let go of her daughter's hand for a minute and the little girl had nearly been run over. She'd said something sharp to the mother, something cutting about her having plenty of children left if she happened to lose one.

And Ginevra Weasley is growing up, she might be quite pretty if she was properly dressed – and if her hair wasn't so obviously cut at home! Yes, if the mother dressed her daughter decently, had her hair cut properly – and taught her manners - she'd be quite presentable, but the girl looks like a wild little tomboy, and what decent wizard will want to marry her, even if she is pure-blood?

She remembers her first encounter with Molly Weasley, it was years ago now, in the reception area at St Mungo's, Draco had been scarcely twelve months old and he'd been feverish all night, and too fretful even to feed – by the time they'd Flooed to St Mungo's she'd been nearly hysterical, convinced it was something really dangerous, dragon pox or worse - and Lucius had been, if it were possible, even more upset than she was. He'd left her alone with Draco for a minute while he went to speak to the witch at the Enquiries Desk, they were Malfoys, they couldn't be expected to stand around in a queue when their only son and heir was seriously ill ...

She'd found herself standing next to a redheaded woman with a squalling brat in her arms, a couple of toddlers underfoot and three older boys trailing after her - and clearly expecting yet another child - and when the woman had noticed her eyes straying to her bulging belly, the ghastly woman had tried to make conversation, she'd said, Is the little boy your first? Teething, I expect, you'll find it a lot easier with your second ...

The impertinence of the woman! How dare she! And it had been teething, Draco had been perfectly well once the tooth broke through the gum ...

She thinks, damn Molly Weasley and her litter of blood traitors! Damn her and damn her sons ... it makes me sick the way she talks about them - Bill, my eldest, he's a curse-breaker with Gringotts, Charlie works with dragons in Rumania, Percy has just started at the Ministry, personal assistant to Mr Couch! Oh, that sow Molly Weasley has plenty of sons, but I ... I only have Draco, and if anything happened to him, I couldn't bear it ... and it's a miracle I have Draco, he was conceived after I'd given up hope. We'd been married for years, and I couldn't understand it, I couldn't understand why I wasn't getting pregnant, Lucius slept in my bed every night that he could, every night that he wasn't sent on a mission for the Dark Lord. And the way my father-in-law Abraxas looked at me ... I couldn't stand it any longer, I had to know the worst, so we went to St Mungo's, and the Healers asked the oddest question – did Lucius wear tight Muggle underwear? And then they told us that Lucius was the one with the problem ...

She remembers the conversation she'd overheard not long after their visit to St Mungo's, her father-in-law Abraxas' angry voice had floated through the open study door, listing the names of pure-blood Slytherin families without sons to carry on their names – and then he'd said, If Narcissa can't give you sons, my boy, then divorce her - and find a nice young pure-blood witch who can!

Abraxas had walked out of the study, brushed past her without a word ... but Lucius had taken her by the hand, pulled her into the room, locked the door, and fumbled frantically at her robes. He'd wanted to make love to her there and then, and she couldn't refuse him, even though - to tell the truth - the study desk was both dreadfully unromantic and horribly uncomfortable. No, she couldn't refuse him, he'd been so urgent and desperate – and she'd realised then that he was afraid that she would leave him, afraid that she'd leave him for a wizard who could give her children, so she'd ignored the discomfort of the inkwell pressing into her back and whispered words of reassurance in his ear, whispered that she loves him, only him, and has only ever loved him ... and although she can't be sure, she likes to think that Draco was conceived at that moment, conceived in love.

Lucius, my darling Lucius, she thinks, where are you? And then the house-elf scampers into the room with the Daily Prophet, she snatches it out of the creature's hands, and even though she'd been expecting to see it, she can't repress a whimper of fear at the sight of the twinkling, black and white photograph of the Dark Mark over the tree-tops, because although she's never reproached Lucius - will never reproach him - for taking the Dark Mark, she's afraid of the Dark Lord.

Even before the Dark Lord revealed himself, even before he moved openly against the Ministry, even before it was forbidden to use his name, she'd been afraid of the Dark Lord, she'd know that it was a lifetime of service or death even before Regulus had been executed. Regulus ... she doesn't know much about what happened, neither Lucius nor Bella would ever talk about it, all she knows is that Regulus was a Death Eater, he'd disappointed the Dark Lord, and he'd been executed.

She reads the headline ...

SCENES OF TERROR AT THE WORLD CUP

by Rita Skeeter

She skims through the first few paragraphs of the article, it's what she expected to read ...

Ministry blunders ...culprits not apprehended ... lax security ... Dark wizards running unchecked ... national disgrace ...

She thinks, how long before the Aurors are here? Lucius was cleared of all charges by a full hearing of the Wizengamot but we're still on the Department of Magical Law Enforcement's watch list! Whenever anything happens, they search the Manor, they check Lucius' wand, Prior Incanto ... it happened when Gringotts was broken into, when there was trouble at Hogwarts in Draco's second year, when Sirius Black broke out of Azkaban ...

And then she thinks – what if it was Lucius who cast Morsmordre? He could be in Azkaban already - with Bella, or rather, with the empty shell of the witch who had once been beautiful, clever, spirited Bellatrix Black ...

She remembers the week that Lucius spent in Azkaban, just after the Dark Lord fell – she wasn't allowed to see him, Death Eaters aren't allowed visitors, or messages, or anything that might give them a sliver of happiness ... and she feels utter despair.

And then she remembers the wanted posters for Sirius Black, a haggard wreck of a man, almost nothing remains of her cousin's once-fabulous good looks ... and then she has hope, because it must have been Sirius! Lucius would never have been so foolish as to cast the Dark Mark ... and Sirius is insane, a fanatic, he'd betrayed his best friend to the Dark Lord, he hasn't made contact with anyone since he broke out of Azkaban - thank Merlin - it must have been him! Yes, Sirius must have been at the World Cup, it's the kind of thing a madman would do, and when he saw Lucius and the others having a little fun with the Muggles, he'd cast the Dark Mark!

She feels a little calmer, takes a sip of tea, and reads on further ...

If the terrified wizards and witches who waited breathlessly for news at the edge of the wood expected reassurance from the Ministry of Magic, they were sadly disappointed. A Ministry official emerged some time after the appearance of the Dark Mark, alleging that nobody had been hurt, but refusing to give any more information. Whether this statement will be enough to quash the rumours that several bodies were removed from the woods an hour later, remains to be seen ...

The teacup slips from her hand, smashes on the floor ... bodies! The Ministry have removed several bodies! Oh, Rita Skeeter is a vile woman, she wrote the most exaggerated rubbish about Lucius' trial – but several bodies, that must mean at least one body! If Lucius is dead ... no, it can't be, it can't, it can't - I would surely have heard from the Ministry by now, they would at least let me see the body to identify it ...

She repeats to herself like a mantra, no news is good news, no news is good news, no news is good news ... but now the tears are running down her face in a flood. Oh, why did Lucius and the others have to get so drunk, if only Severus had been there! Severus is so clever, and so sensible – he would have talked them out of it, he would have said, leave the Muggles alone, it isn't worth it, it isn't worth the risk ... he's Lucius' best friend and Lucius would have listened to him!

Then there's a tap on the door, she struggles to compose herself, she must look an absolute fright ... it's Draco, stumbling into her room, still yawning, still half asleep, and asking, where's dad?

She looks at him, and she thinks, he's growing out of those pyjamas already, he'll need new ones before he goes to Hogwarts, and then she smiles brightly - she mustn't panic, she mustn't upset Draco, after all, no news is good news.

She folds the newspaper so that he won't see the photograph of the Dark Mark, and says, lightly, cheerfully, bravely, I'm sure that your father will be home soon - he's a Malfoy, those clots at the Ministry won't dare to detain him for long ... do you want some toast, darling?