Author's note: I don't have the first clue where this is going or how often I'll update. Hopefully, it'll have a few chapters before I try to finish my other stuff. First chapter was written partially in response to the Hogwarts Online daily prompt for August 31st, "owl."


When Cady saw the owl heading for her bedroom window, she had to force herself not to cringe. The dark animal seemed to grow as it got closer, until the spread wings and arched talons seemed to fill the sky outside, blocking out the stars and moon until it landed on her windowsill. The animal eyed her as she stepped closer. She read its judgment in its eyes as she had with so many people. How much can animals sense? she wondered. Could it see the budding evil? The potential for destruction?

Reaching for the owl's leg, she untied the sealed parchment. Before she could open it, the owl flew out of the window, blacking out the sky again before disappearing from view.

"So much for waiting for a response." Cady frowned. She hadn't bought an owl of her own. That pathetic job waitressing at Fortescue's barely afforded her enough to keep in decent robes. She would have to use one of the public owl's at the post office, provided he could wait that long for an answer.

She looked down at the parchment in her hand. Her stomach seized. As much as she'd looked forward to this day, the reality of what she was about to do hadn't sunk in until just then. She was going to become a Death Eater. There was no way of taking things back or changing her mind once she had taken the final step. Still, it was what she wanted. What she needed. She wouldn't want to go back.

Breaking the seal, Cady read over the scrawled words quickly, her fear disappating with every line. When she reached the end, her heart skipped a beat: If you truly wish to join us, give us your unbreakable promise.

What? Sign it in blood? Cady traced over the words at the bottom of the page and read them aloud. "Of course I want to join. It's the only thing I want," she whispered. A sharp pain pricked her finger and she turned it over. A drop of blood appeared on the page. Before she could ascertain what was happening, mist curled out from the letter in her hands. Cady found herself swallowed up by the quickly spreading fog, unable to do much more than breathe as it shrouded her from head-to-toe. After a few seconds, the mist began to recede, finally disappearing altogether.

She found herself in a large, dark room. Candles lit the darkest corners, but the brightest light seemed to emanate from the figure at the center of the room. Voldemort stood on a raised dais in the center of a circle of wizards. They all wore matching black robes; heavy hoods hid their faces from the dim lighting in the room. Before she had a chance to look around, Voldemort held out one pale hand.

"Come forward," he ordered.

His voice was higher than she'd imagined. Thinner, somehow. Cady knew she should be scared of this barely human man, but couldn't force herself to feel anything but the adrenaline suddenly pumping through her veins. She moved closer to the dais, barely noticing when the circle of wizards parted to allow her to go through and then closed ranks around her.

"Your arm," Voldemort said as she stepped close.

He was paler than she'd first believed as well. It looked as if the light from every candle in the room was absorbed by his skin and then sent out again, as if he took anything light or bright around him and tainted it with his own essence before unleashing it onto the world. As he had with every bit of lightness with the others in this room. Cady knew this and still held out her left arm. Her letter had disappeared sometime during her transportation, but she didn't need to read the words again to find out what would happen next. She would be branded by him. For him. She would live the rest of her days in the spirit of what he stood for or suffer as long as he wished should she prove unworthy of his trust.

Voldemort took her arm and began the silent spell, tracing his wand over her pale flesh in a series of slow, circuitous movements. The beginning Mark began to glow and writhe, searing her skin as the magic traveled through her. It didn't burn. In fact, Cady felt nothing but elation at this new beginning. She was finally becoming something more than a sad reflection of her parents' mistakes. After a minute, the glow faded and the Dark Mark stilled on her arm. In that brief moment, nothing in the room stirred; even the flames on the candles seemed to freeze in the air as she waited for what Voldemort would do or say next. He released her arm. Cady stood back, breathless.

"Omigod, girlfriend! You did it." Voldemort squealed and clapped both his hands together. "You're in." He waved one hand in a dismissive gesture. "And now that that's over we can get the party started. By the way, where did you get those darling robes? Malkin's, right? She's a pain to deal with, but does the most exquisite lacing detail...oh, get that look off your face. I'm not nearly as scary as people make me out to be. Not to my inner circle."

Someone from the crowd around them chuckled. "Yeah, he's a regular pussy cat."

Voldemort turned; his wand shot out of his sleeve and into his hand. "Avada Kedavra!" Hood blowing back from his face, Avery fell to the floor in a heap, twitched twice and then died. A sharp, dank smell soon rose from his body. "Somebody get that cleaned up," Voldemort said.

He turned back to Cady. A smile curved the thin, cracked lips. "So, Bella's in the kitchen throwing some things together and we've got drinks coming. Any preferences?"

"I...uh...vodka?"

"Fantastic. Muggle alcohol does have a nice little sting. Warms the blood," he said, his voice dropping. Voldemort presented another simpering smile as a Death Eater ran over and offered them both drinks. Cady received vodka on ice, Voldemort got a green concoction with light vapors rising out of it. "Incredible Hulk," he said, raising the glass to his lips. "American lushes invent the best drinks." He took a sip; his bright red eyes fluttered closed as he drained half the glass. "Mm, so good." Opening his eyes again, he tossed the glass through the air. A Death Eater lunged forward to catch it. "Well, come on girl. Let me show you around and tell you all you need to know about being a part of the scariest group the world has ever seen."