Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's Note: This fic was written for FictionAlley's Lusty Month of May challenge. Prompt: Amycus Carrow drank mead with Marvolo Gaunt. Beta read and Britpicked by the BeST team.
The Creation of a Carrow
"Keep yer gob shut an' yer hands to yerself, or I'll cut 'em off, you got it?"
Amycus looked down at his feet and nodded. He knew that was no idle threat. His Da'd cut his left hand off when he was three after catching him playing with his wand. They'd had to go to Auntie Grady to have her put it back on. That had hurt. Even more than the cutting off had. But now he was four and knew better. He never touched anything of Da's, except when Da told him to bring him something, like his tobacco pouch, or his shirt, if he had to go out.
His father grunted and opened the door to the tavern with one hand, shoving the boy on the back of his head with the other, propelling him forward. Amycus hadn't wanted to come with his Da, but Ma was crying something awful, and the midwife had thrown the both of them out. He hoped Ma was going to be all right.
Mr Carrow stumped over to the bar and got himself a drink. Amycus looked at the floor, because he was afraid to look anywhere else. It was a very dirty floor. Ma would say it wasn't worth spitting on. But it certainly looked like a lot of other people thought it was.
Now his father was moving toward one of the tables in the back. Amycus hurried to keep up. His father hadn't got anything for him to drink. Amycus was very hungry. Ma'd tried to get him some dinner, but then she'd said it hurt too much and he should run and get Mrs Crimple, and he had, even though his father'd started yelling about how did she think they were going to pay her and she should damn well put some food on the table before she thought about bringing another mouth to feed into the house, and didn't he have enough trials as it was?
Amycus looked up just long enough to see that they were heading for a table where two men were already sitting. His Da must know them, he figured, because one of the men was smiling a big monkey-grin at him. Amycus was startled by that grin. Jinty, the crippled beggar on the square, had a monkey on a chain that he made do tricks, and sometimes steal things from people's pockets. When the monkey finished a trick, it would screech and show its teeth. That's what this man at the table looked like.
Amycus slid onto the bench beside his father and kept his eyes on the table. It was just as dirty as the floor, seemed like.
"Evening, Marvolo," his father said to the monkey-faced man.
"Who's this, then?" Marvolo leered at Amycus, and the other, younger man next to him giggled. It was a funny kind of giggle, but what was even funnier was that the giggling man's eyes were pointing in two different directions. Amycus found this fascinating, until it seemed that one of the eyes was fixed on him; then he looked at the table again.
"That's the boy," said Mr Carrow gruffly.
"Eh, he's got yer look about him, Avilus." Amycus was skeptical. His father had a squarish, bald head, and a big stomach. Amycus wasn't much more than skin and bones, and even though Ma'd just shorn his hair last week to get at the nits, it was already growing back in. Da's hair never grew, except on his face.
"If he didn't, I'd've killed him and his whoring mother both," he stated, then tossed back a gulp of his drink.
The monkey-man laughed at that, and the other one giggled again. Amycus liked the laugh better than the giggle.
"Heard she's got another one," said the monkey-man. "Another boy?"
"She swears the Gendrus charm showed blue, but I think she's a filthy liar," replied Mr Carrow. "She knows I'd've dragged her to the barber or beat it out of her if it'd been pink. We'll see tomorrow. The Crimple woman's with her now."
"You've got the right idea," Marvolo agreed. "On the other hand, if I'd made me own Letty get rid of Merope, we wouldn't have a witch around the house to take care of women things! Isn't that right, Morfin?" He leered again and winked at Amycus's father, who chuckled. The wall-eyed man, Morfin, giggled again, only Amycus had the feeling that he wasn't really paying any mind to the conversation.
Amycus's attention also began to wander. He had just realised that there was food at several of the tables nearby. Just to his left, an old man in grey robes was eating what looked like a tantalisingly chunky stew. Amycus's stomach growled painfully. He forced himself to look away. But he couldn't stop himself from smelling. Lovely cooked animals and grease; it was all he could do not to cry.
Marvolo must have noticed, because he said, "Aw now, boy, what's the matter?" He didn't say it in a caring way, but rather tauntingly, like Higgleton, the big boy down the road, when he made fun of Amycus.
Mr Carrow glared sharply his son. "Don't you make trouble, boy, or I'll give you some trouble of your own!" His hand hovered over his wand pocket.
Amycus shook his head quickly and blinked back his tears.
"Drink!" said the man with the crazy eyes, and pushed his glass toward Amycus.
The other man laughed hard at that. "That's it, Morfin, he's wanting some of the drink!" He leaned over to speak to Amycus in a confidential whisper. "What's your poison? You take it straight, like your Da?"
Amycus looked at the man, alarmed. He knew what poison was. His Ma's sister brewed poisons. He wouldn't drink poison, and he didn't think his Da would, either. Not willingly, anyway. But the other man seemed to be waiting for some sort of answer. He looked at his father to see whether it was more important to keep quiet, or to answer.
Mr Carrow also seemed to be weighing two options, and then slid his glass abruptly over to Amycus. "Go on, then, take a swig. Put some hair on your chest, that will!" He said this to Amycus, but smirked at the other man.
Amycus took a deep breath. He knew what kind of drink was in that glass. It was the kind that took your breath away and made you feel like fire on your insides. He glanced at his father, who had a look in his eye that said, 'You'd better not do anything stupid'. Amycus knew that meant he would have to drink it all. But, maybe, if he did it, his Da would get him some of that stew afterwards.
He grasped the greasy glass in his fist and lifted it to his lips; the pungent, sweet-bitter smell stung his nose. He closed his eyes and took a big mouthful, forcing it down. He tried not to cough, but it knocked the wind out of him, and then he was spluttering and his eyes were tearing, and it was all he could do to put the glass safely down on the table without spilling it all down his jersey.
"For Chrissake!" Mr Carrow said in disgust, snatching his glass back. Morfin whooped with delight, whilst Marvolo laughed heartily.
"Aw, there now, he's still a wee one after all," Marvolo said. "But maybe this is more to his liking." He grinned and pushed his own mug across the table.
Amycus shook his head, still coughing, but his father pinched his arm and growled, "You thank Mr Gaunt and take a drink!"
Amycus had to clear his throat several times before he was able to croak out, "Thank you, Mr Gaunt."
Feeling utterly miserable, he pulled the mug closer and sniffed at it. It smelled earthy, almost bread-like. His stomach was roiling now from the first drink; he just hoped he wouldn't be sick.
This time, he took a smaller sip and let the liquid roll slowly over his tongue. It felt cool to his still-raw throat, although he didn't much care for the taste. At least he felt the edge coming off of his hunger.
"That's enough," his father snapped, taking away the mug. "Greedy whelp." But he didn't sound quite so angry anymore.
"Let him have it, Avilus," said Marvolo, still chuckling. "Looks like he's got a taste for mead."
Avilus grudgingly let go of the mug. "I'll get the next round."
"Kind of you, Avilus." Marvolo nodded and smiled like Jinty's monkey.
Avilus glared at Amycus as he stood to go to the bar. The boy tried to shrink down into himself. He wished that the monkey-man could be his Da. He was ever so much nicer.