Author's Notes: My thanks to my boyfriend, Iyonjin, for editing, for being a sounding board and for help with the character concept.
Summary: In the hours before his death a Death Eater tells the tale of his own life and that of the rise of the Dark Lord.
A History of Vengeance
They'll be here soon.
They will come and I will die. But I will not be the only one. My wards and my traps have been set. I have only to sit here with my wand by my side and wait for the first one to make it to my study. Then they, too, will die.
I will have some satisfaction before the end.
But my thoughts are not on the upcoming carnage. They linger on the beginning of this, and on the glory of my lord.
To really understand the greatness of my Lord, you must understand his rise to power. And to understand that, we must begin even further back, back to a year forever burned into my memories.
1945 was a bad year to be a Slytherin. Albus Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald that year, and it brought on a mess of trouble for us snakes. You see, Grindelwald, though schooled at Durmstang, had a lot of popular support amongst the families of Slytherin students. His defeat, and subsequent imprisonment, was a big political blow against the "darker" pure blood families pushing for stronger anti-muggle legislation.
But if it was a bad year to be a Slytherin, it was a horrible time to be a mudblood. What happened on August 6th and then again on August 9th was a terrible shock to the wizarding world. For the first time ever, wizard defences were unable to shield against Muggle weapons technology. See, for the most part, wizarding casualties during war were caused by wizards. Occasionally a Muggle got lucky, or we had a small disaster before adapting to some new Muggle idea. The atomic bombs were something else entirely. They ripped through our shields, the radiation destabilizing any magic around it. It couldn't be blocked, it couldn't be redirected, and it couldn't be changed into something else. And wizards world wide ran into a horrible realization: Muggles now had the power to wipe us out.
The result was pandemonium amongst the anti-Muggle factions. Even the pro-Muggle groups were left with their trousers down. Here, at home in England, things went crazy. We had a few months where it looked like we were going to end up with a civil war. But in November, Albus Dumbledore, the man who defeated Grindelwald, was granted a seat on the Wizengamot. And suddenly political power was in the hands of the other side.
People like my parents had a good chunk of their power and prestige ripped away. It was a smart move on Dumbledore`s part. Or it would have been, if the Merlin-be-damned blood traitors had done even a half-assed job of it. No doubt the sentimental fool thought taking our money as well would be too harsh. As it was, all Dumbledore managed to do was to create a large group of discontented traditionalists who still held most of the economic power, if not the political or social power.
The thing about political power is that with enough time it can be bought.
I was twelve at the time. Old enough to know what was going on, but not quite old enough to understand it completely. I was a conservative pure blood and a Slytherin in a time when both roles were looked down upon.
As I grew older, I learned exactly what that meant. It meant snide comments in class, it meant being attacked in the corridors, and, after I graduated, it meant no job opportunities because my parents had been on the wrong side.
I grew bitter and hard. We Slytherins learned the one true lesson: the only people worth trusting are other Slytherins.
Every year the Sorting Hat sings about the traits of my house. Every year Hogwarts students hear how Slytherin means cunning and ambition. But the Hat never mentions the hidden traits. You don't hear that Slytherin also means pride. You don't hear that slights to that pride bring on the thing we Slytherins do best; vengeance.
Vengeance. That is what this war has really been about. Vengeance and power. Those words are the clarion call that my lord used to gather us about him... but I get ahead of myself.
I graduated with two Exceeds Expectations NEWTS, in Defence Against the Dark Arts and Potions, and four Outstandings, in Charms, Transfiguration, Herbology and Arithmancy. I was first amongst the Slytherins of my year, and second amongst the graduating class.
Alastor Moody came first.
With these results I foolishly expected to fall into any job I wanted, Slytherin stigma or no. I thought that once I was outside the walls of Hogwarts that my house and my parents wouldn't matter.
I was an idiot.
It was six months of pointless searching before I finally accepted my father's offer. As the second son I didn't stand to inherit, but father put enough money into my vault to bribe my way into any position I wanted.
Two years later I was officially an Auror.
It still rankles that I had to buy my way in while Alastor bloody Moody waltzed in like a conquering hero. But I suppose I owe some small debt to the man. I would never have chosen the career if he hadn't.
I learned a lot in my subsequent years of work. I learned that the Dark Arts being used by the criminals we chased were much more powerful than the spells we Auror's were permitted to use to apprehend them. I learned that no matter how well I performed I would never gain recognition. I learned that bribes paid better than my salary, and that all levels of the Ministry were susceptible to them.
I was not the only Slytherin learning these things. My former classmates were now a loosely organized network of informants. We kept contact, traded knowledge, and, when necessary, traded favours. I met Slytherins who had graduated years before me or years after and discovered it made no difference. The knowledge was ingrained; we had no one but each other. You trusted not that they wouldn't betray you, but that they would think and act as a Slytherin.
Moody snidely described it as honour amongst thieves once. I seem to recall smiling at him at the time. I believe I startled him.
Ah. The Auror's, my former comrades, have arrived. No matter. The wards will keep them occupied for some hours yet.
I wonder if dear Alastor is among them. I hope so.
Now, where was I?
Slytherins, you must understand, could be found everywhere you went. We were ambitious, yes, but how and where that ambition was applied depended entirely on the individual. So we spread. Potion masters, artists, politicians, Aurors... You would never find more than one or two of us in the same position. We encompassed, in our way, the entirety of the wizarding world.
We were very well situated for my Lord's plans.
If you asked I'm sure the "light" wizards would tell you that my lord rose to power in the early part of the 1970s. They would be wrong. The murmurs began nearly a decade before. In dark corners and encoded letters we spoke of the old glory, of the sickening new politics, of slights. We began to speak in terms of vengeance and change. We spoke of the possibility of a solution.
That solution came in the form of the revolutionary politics of one man: Lord Voldemort.
We were not foolish. We knew that the name was false and that the man was no lord of old. But here was one of us, a parseltongue with enough power to stand toe-to-toe with the great Albus Dumbledore. Here was a man who understood, and who spoke to us with promises of bloody revolution. And behind him stood powerful wizards and witches, people such as Abraxas Malfoy, who had long been the cornerstones of Slytherin unity.
I saw my lord for the first time in 1967. He was ugly, no doubt, but oh! The power. It rippled from him in waves that I could feel in my very core. He spoke to a small group of us, and I was reminded of what had been taken from my parents, from me, by mudbloods and blood traitors. The story he told was my own, and I felt as if he were speaking to me alone. I knew then, that here was a man who could make a difference.
I took the Dark Mark in 1969.
It was painful and exotic and the greatest pleasure I have ever had. I have spent hundreds of galleons in brothels and whorehouses and have never come close to experiencing the same sensation again.
I began, after that, to learn the Dark Arts in earnest. I had dabbled before, but now I learned in great heaving gasps. I learned until I was swimming in newly found knowledge, and I gloried in the control it gave me.
I cast my first Unforgivable in 1970 on an unsuspecting clerk in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. An Imperius followed by a quick Oblivate gave me the files I needed for my lord.
I discovered a great affinity for the Imperius Curse. I was not so talented with the other two Unforgivables, but in the domain of imposing my will I was magnificent. I could crush the pathetic wills of mudbloods like they were ants.
I also discovered that I was ideally positioned to aide my lord. As an Auror I played a game of cloak and dagger, shadowing actions of my fellow Death Eaters. We moved, silent and deadly, into the positions needed for the upcoming war. The loose Slytherin network was tightened and put to work. No longer was it used for simple personal favours, now it was a tool for the greater good of all Slytherins.
Not to say that all Death Eaters belonged to my house. Nor were all Slytherins Death Eaters. My lord was charismatic enough to attract Ravenclaws, Gryffindors, and even a few Hufflepuffs. He was also magnanimous enough to forgive the Slytherins who claimed neutrality. They had their uses and would change their minds given time.
With us Death Eaters my lord was a harsh taskmaster. But that was as should be. We stood on the brink of revolution; there was no time for incompetence or second thoughts.
The first public attack came in the summer of 1973. We had conducted small raids and kidnapped Muggles for torture before then, but this was so much more. This was an open declaration of our intentions. We simultaneously attacked and killed the families of five prominent mudbloods. Their corpses, and the corpses of the Muggles we had previously tortured to death, were left strewn about the ground. A message was sent by my lord to the Minister of Magic. My lord shared this message with us, a mere four words: I am Lord Voldemort.
The papers the next day showed pictures of my lord's mark hanging above the homes of the slain. Seeing my lord's chosen name in print sent a shiver of delight down my spine.
Sadly, I had not gotten to take part in that first attack. My post was at my job, where I carefully kept any knowledge of the attacks from reaching the Aurors before it was too late. This was often my role in the early years.
We moved slowly, attacking at what appeared to be random intervals. We were teaching the British wizarding world a new name for fear.
I can remember my lord's laughter the first time The Daily Prophet called him You-Know-Who. It was meant to be saucy, to undermine the fear of our actions. Soon enough it was the only thing the wizarding populous dared call him.
The Ministry, filled as it was with strategically placed Death Eaters, was laughably ineffective at combating us. More dangerous by far were Albus Dumbledore and his forsaken Order. They were a tiny force, smaller than us. Yet they were powerful and dangerous. And because so many of us had to remain in our jobs to be effective it was impossible to fight them at full force. Our secrecy slowed us down.
But what was happening in secret was far more important than any attack. We were tightening our vice grip on the Ministry. And we were studying, looking for ways to infiltrate and attack Hogwarts herself. Hogwarts is, and forever has been, the heart of the British wizarding world. If we could take her...
The answer came in the form of the students. Inside the walls of Hogwarts was the great promise of the future. So we began to court children. It meant that those who graduated were easily subsumed into our ranks; it also meant that we had eyes and ears inside the home of Dumbledore. And it meant that we had people on the inside if – when – it finally came time to attack.
...Hmm. It seems the Ministry`s dogs have chipped their way through the initial property wards. I wonder if whoever is out there has taken Moody`s words of constant vigilance seriously. They will be in for quite the surprise otherwise...
I was revealed as a Death Eater in 1977 by no lesser a personage than Alastor Moody himself. We were tracking down one of my comrades and Moody witnessed me letting her go. The resultant fight left several small craters in Knockturn Ally. He took my left arm, but I took both a leg and an eye from him.
My lord`s punishment left me aching for a week. But I was oddly pleased by the turn of events. Yes, it meant hiding, but it also meant complete freedom to join in the fighting. I received a magical prosthetic and joined the front line with an enthusiasm that frightened the younger recruits.
Things progressed apace, right up into 1980 when we were prepared to set my lord up as ruler of the British wizarding world. And then my lord received word of a problem.
My loss of status as an Auror was accompanied by a loss of status with my lord. Thus, at the time, I was not given the knowledge of what precisely that problem entailed. Looking back on it in this moment I can guess. It came in the form of a child, and, if the whispers of my fellow Death Eaters are to be believed, a prophecy. My lord became focused on ridding himself of this inconvenience first.
On October 31st, 1981 a pain like none I have ever known ripped through my body.
My lord is dead. Killed by a mere infant.
And I sit here, listening as the last of my wards fall, poised between Azkaban and death.
I choose death.
But I will not go alone.