Disclaimer: I don't own the Harry Potter series.
A/N: Thanks to those who took the time to review!
In The Shadows
Chapter I: Initiation
"You women take so bloody long to get ready for everything…" Draco Malfoy grumbled to himself more so than to the woman he'd been waiting on for the past fifteen minutes.
"It isn't my fault! Our mums needed me to look perfect for some reason," Britannia defended as she took one quick, last look at herself in the hallway mirror. They were waiting to make a debut, of sorts, much like all purebloods were expected to do once they turned thirteen, when children were seen as being coherent and mature enough to start being included in the gatherings of high society, assuming they were raised properly. She could remember both her and Draco's debuts. She had been on the arm of Blaise Zabini, just as a formality, and Draco had been stuck with Parkinson. This one would be slightly different though. Both highly doubted it would be much of a party setting. It was getting closer and closer to the first of September, when they'd be setting off for their sixth year at Hogwarts.
"Stop it," Draco snapped shortly, not even looking at Brita, though he knew what she was doing. She had taken a liking to mindlessly gazing at him when they were together now, whenever nothing was going on. And as they stood there, all dressed up and waiting to go, she hadn't even realized she'd been doing it.
And Draco didn't even need to see her doing it to know it was happening. He found it slightly annoying, mostly because it made him uncomfortable. Draco had the feeling she cared about him already much more than he'd like her to. He knew it was important to respect her, since she would be his wife, but at the same time, he wasn't going to gush with love for the girl. Sure, she had been someone he'd considered a close acquaintance, being in the same house and also of a respectable family, but it was likely only because those he found to be of proper pedigree and class to associate with him were so scarce at Hogwarts. Merlin, until they had discovered their parents' arrangement a few weeks prior, Draco really never had much to say to her apart from exchanging pleasantries or something pertaining to school.
"I'm sorry," Brita quickly apologized, embarrassed at being caught staring again. He'd already told her not to many times since their betrothal had been announced, and she looked away immediately, focusing her eyes on the carved door that led to one of the many rooms inside Malfoy Manor; the one they had been told to wait in front of. She didn't do it on purpose, but he was a very difficult person to read. And even though they'd known each other for years, she'd never really cared before now. She had a desire to know what it was he was thinking, what he was feeling. But it rarely, if ever showed, upon his face. Unless it was a look of annoyance; she read that emotion often.
Feeling slightly awkward as they stood in silence, never having had much to say to each other in the past anyway, Britannia vocalized her background thoughts. "Do you think he's behind that door? Do you think tonight's the night?" From the corner of her eye, she saw Draco, dressed in rich, clearly expensive, black robes, snap his head in her direction.
After a moment's pause, he licked his dried lips. "Yes," was his simple response, and it sent a chill down her spine, knowing how confident he was that they would in all likeliness be presented in front of the Death Eaters and given the Dark Mark, appeasing both their families and also their legacy.
And for both their sakes, restoring the Malfoy reputation within Voldemort's inner circle, making up for Lucius' failure.
The tall, strong build of her father appeared from the other side of the door, the brutal looking man wordlessly signaling for them to follow him inside the dimly lit room.
Brita's breath shook as she took a deep breath, trying to calm her nerves. She couldn't deny being scared, and Draco must have noticed because he reached over, lacing his hand with hers before pulling her forward and through the door, almost as if he were worried she wouldn't go on her own.
But she wouldn't have disgraced her family or his like that. She had known for most of her teenage life that this moment would come. Brita, much like Draco, had been trained in the Dark Arts privately at home, and being exceptionally intelligent when it came to all things magic-related, it was no surprise to her that she would be of value to the Dark Lord. Surely, her parents had sung her praises to him, knowing full and well what she was capable of.
As they slowly entered the room, heavy door closing shut behind them, they approached the throne-like chair that held the Dark Lord Voldemort, snake like features studying the two teenagers. Death Eaters and those trusted lined each side of their path, looking on at the two that would soon join them.
Automatically, upon reaching the end of the line, both teens bowed to Voldemort before his slithering voice instructed them otherwise. "You may rise."
As both Britannia and Draco stood upright, sure to keep their eyes cast downward when in the presence of the Dark Lord, Bellatrix Lestrange approached, rushing over to Brita and holding her chin between her forefinger and thumb, painted nails pressing into the tender flesh. Bellatrix's crazy eyes scanned the girl's face while she stayed perfectly still, knowing full and well who Bellatrix was, despite never having met her before.
"Well, isn't she lovely Draco?" she cooed. "A good, pureblood woman." Her grip released and she stepped back from Brita, moving aside, done with her inspection of her future niece.
"You are both aware of what I expect from you," Voldemort spoke, everyone's attention back on the Dark Lord. "You will serve as my eyes and ears within the Hogwarts boundaries. I expect your full loyalty. Otherwise, you will be dealt with." The words frightened Brita, and she became worried, brought back to reality when her hand was grabbed again and squeezed by Draco's, sensing her discomfort by the sudden tremble on her part that visibly shook her body. He hoped she realized she had already come too far; there was no backing out now. "You will each come up and receive your mark," he instructed, wordlessly ordering Peter Pettigrew over to the teens.
"Ladies first," Pettigrew cackled, reaching for Brita's hand with his callused, unkempt paws, making her cringe backwards, especially after seeing the nub where his finger once was.
"Keep your disgusting hands off her, you sniveling imbecile," Draco hissed, low enough for Wormtail to hear, and also the Dark Lord. She was already scared enough, he didn't need Pettigrew's filthy mitts all over her. Draco felt as though his hand holding onto hers was the only thing keeping her from running out the door as it was. And he wasn't worried about showing such disrespect to an elder, because he was well-aware Pettigrew was a meaningless pawn to Voldemort, not worth any real value.
"My, my young Malfoy. Very possessive already, are we?" Voldemort mused slowly, an amused smirk lifting onto his thin, cracked lips.
"I was raised properly to protect my own… and to serve you my Lord," Draco recited, knowing he must show complete respect to Voldemort while also showing he was capable of asserting himself. He wanted to show the same tenacity his father possessed, because before the incident at the Department of Mysteries, his father had been regarded as Voldemort's right-hand man.
"As you should. Let's hope you prove yourself of better use than your disgraceful father has been," he sneered, making Draco inwardly cringe. He wanted badly to gulp the lump in his throat down, but didn't want to show any signs of weakness in front of the Dark Lord; only respect and dedication.
The Dark Lord's red eyes flashed to Wormtail, before he hissed, "Don't touch the girl Wormtail. She may approach on her own."
Draco waited patiently, though in his mind he was screaming for her to just go and get it over with. He held onto her hand until he felt her grip relax, and then she stepped forward, keeping her head low as she came closer to the Dark Lord. "Laurila… that is a proud name to live up to. You look so fragile my dear."
"Size and strength do not determine the ability of the person who yields their wand. I am ready to serve you, my Lord," was all she said as she bowed again, standing before him.
Seemingly pleased with her response, Voldemort stood, glancing over to Bellatrix. "I will expect you to mentor her," he informed the dark haired woman, who silently accepted the task, delight spreading through her at being allowed to teach this young girl all she knew.
Without being told to, Britannia presented the bare flesh on her forearm to him, his wand pointing towards it before the tip made cool contact. A word that sounded like Parseltongue was hissed, and suddenly, a searing pain spread throughout her body, stemming from the contact point where Voldemort's wand and her flesh met.
She couldn't contain the scream that ripped through her throat as her flesh burned even more as Voldemort's freezing, bony hand covered the scarred area, a green glow expelling from underneath it. Tears welled in her eyes, but she didn't dare let them fall or pull her arm away, too afraid to shame her family and Draco's.
Malfoy flinched at the pained sounds coming from her, having to avert his eyes as she received her mark, a feeling of dread prodding at his insides.
He was able to look back again when the green glow had disappeared, the screams and whimpers had ceased, and Voldemort's hand was no longer in contact with her. He dismissed her with a simple gesture of his hand, to which she bowed again, before turning and walking back towards Draco. He thought fast, seeing the pale expression on her face and her eyes roll back just before she collapsed, fainting and almost hitting the ground, save for Draco holding her dead weight up with slight difficulty at the angle he was at.
Her father stepped forth, taking hold of his daughter's limp body as she began to come to, only blacked out for a brief moment due to the utter shock, fear and pain that had just surged through her at once. Draco stepped back and watched as she composed herself, holding onto her father's arm for fear of collapsing again.
Bellatrix scoffed, unimpressed by her apparent weakness when it came to physical pain, but Voldemort ignored the entire situation, eager to proceed with the branding of the Malfoy heir. "Malfoy. Come forward," he ordered, Draco quickly facing front once again and approaching the Dark Lord, bowing respectfully before he was told to rise.
He had wanted this his whole life. He had been trained to want this. Now that the moment had come though, Draco felt more terrified than he had ever felt in his entire life. He was forever going to be a servant of the Dark Lord, weather he liked it or not. He would be expected to do his bidding, no questions asked and failure not being an option.
He took a deep breath as he presented his bare forearm to his new master, Bellatrix looking on with delight while his mother kept her face blank, jaw clenched in anticipation; weather it was fueled by worry or fear, he couldn't be positive. Severus Snape avoided the sight, not quite content with the thought of his godson being involved in the turmoil that would inevitably commence, but not having the means or power to stop this.
Draco couldn't remove his eyes from the contact point of his wand and the skin on his forearm as he anticipated the single word that would begin his initiation.
He just wanted it to be over with.
And not soon enough, it was. He kept himself quiet, biting his tongue, only letting a few soft growls pass through his lips as he breathed heavily, trying to fight against the pain. Merlin, it hurt so much; no wonder Brita had fainted!
But finally, it ended, Draco panting heavily as Voldemort pulled his hand back, searing the mark in. The blonde looked down at the new marking, seeing the blistering red that surrounded the black marking as it too slowly faded to a red color, making Draco wince. He looked back over his shoulder, seeing the overjoyed look on his aunt's face before moving on to his mother, who stared blankly, head held high. Then his eyes went to Brita, who still stood with her father, looking on at Draco with that paled expression still, as if she regretted it all.
He scowled at the thought, thinking it was pointless if that's truly how she felt. She would have to be an idiot to change her mind now, and he wouldn't have it. But before he could go off on her in his head, the Dark Lord spoke.
"Let the celebration commence in the dining hall," he instructed before many of the Death Eaters began filing out of the meeting room. "Severus, Bellatrix. Stay," he ordered before they could leave the room, much to Bellatrix's delight. They were both trusted members of his army, and as he gave Draco his first mission, he knew they would be the perfect overseers for the fresh meat that still stood before him. "Malfoy. I have an assignment for you."
Draco's pulse thundered in his ears, the Slytherin boy not prepared to have a mission so soon after his initiation. But, he held his tongue and nodded in blind acceptance, glancing back at Brita as she was ushered out by her father, glad she at least wouldn't be given a task. Then he would have to worry about her as well.
"Anything, my Lord." He wish he'd known he would soon eat those words.