Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or any of the associated characters or locations.


Fade to Black, Chapter Three:

Ebony Descent
by: darke wulf

~*~

"So farewell hope, and with hope, farewell fear,
Farewell remorse! All good to me is lost;
Evil, be thou my Good: by thee at least
Divided empire with Heaven's King I hold,
By thee, and more than half perhaps will reign;
As Man ere long, and this new World, shall know."

~John Milton


~*~

The early-December air is crisp, and the stars shine brightly despite the few snowflakes that gently flutter from the sky to join their brethren on the whitened ground. As I lay on one of the benches strategically placed throughout the Hogwarts' gardens, my back becoming cold and damp as the snow I had been too lazy to clear away melts and penetrates my winter cloak, one solitary thought runs through my head.

My father is a fucking bastard.

I just received an owl post from dear Lucius that left me desperately trying to rethink the next year and a half in the hopes of preventing my plans for the future from shattering like so much cheap glass. I had had everything laid out perfectly, my plans were on schedule to see me installed as the new Ruler of the World by my twenty-first birthday, give or take a month or two. Then I find out from my 'loving' father that I am to be given the honor of receiving the Dark Mark when I return home for the Holiday Break.

That insufferable git. I shouldn't have to worry about receiving the Dark Mark until my eighteenth birthday; Voldemort never initiates 'children' into the Death Eaters. It had been a fact that I had been counting on. I had assumed that by the time it was my turn to bend my knee to Voldemort Potter would have killed him again, or that at least there would be a nice, convenient war of 'Good' versus 'Evil' for me to use to my advantage. But no, my dear father had to go and convince the Dark Lord that I was more than ready to officially join their little men's club.

As if. I will not be some pitifully disgusting puppet, kissing the boots of a wizard not fit to shake my hand, just because my father is content with the small amount of power the Dark Lord deigns to give him. Lucius Malfoy is a disgrace to the our family name. Worse than a disgrace, he is an unambitious coward. The Malfoy family should be ruling the world, not hiding behind the robes of a mangy half-breed. There is no fucking way I am going to let that...thing brand me. No one owns Draco Malfoy.

Of course, this puts me in the rather precarious position of having less than three weeks to figure out some way to avoid the inevitable without endangering my plans for world domination. Argh!

I hastily sit up, grab a handful of the now-firmly compressed snow I had been laying on and throw it out into the inky black night. It isn't nearly satisfying enough. I need something to beat up, to make bleed, to utterly destroy. Where's the Weasel when you really need him?

I sigh and slouch down, elbows on my knees, and rest my head in my gloved hands. I must calm down and think rationally; the situation is far from unsalvageable. There must be a way out; there always is, it's only a matter of recognizing it.

Now then, what is the problem? That I am apparently to be initiated into the Death Eaters almost two years sooner than I had originally anticipated. What caused the problem? My father's nauseating need to prove to Voldemort the loyalty of our family. Is it possible to convince my father to not insist on my receiving the Mark? Not without doing something that would result in me being disinherited and losing my claim to the Malfoy fortune which is, quite frankly, unacceptable. Would it be possible to convince Voldemort that it would not be wise for me to receive the Mark at this time? Possibly, if it weren't for my Father.

Hmmm....and there is it. A rather simple solution, when you think about it. It's just going to require a great deal of careful thought, not to mention a lot of luck, to ensure that neither Voldemort nor any of his Death Eaters come to suspect anything. I am not ready to confront him as yet. Actually, I rather hope to avoid confronting him altogether, assuming Potter ever gets around to taking care of his end of things.

I nod my head slightly as I make my decision. It really is the only way to keep my plans on schedule. I suppose I should feel slightly guilty, but it's not really my fault. Lucius brought this on himself; I'm merely reacting to a situation he instigated.

I finally stand, brush the snow off my cloak, and make my way back to the school, my course set and new plans already forming in my head.

*******

I smirk with self-satisfaction as I watch Potter stalk between the trees, each furious breath condensing into a little cloud of vapor and floating up to disappear into the branches of the Forest. It had taken me over two weeks to find his little getaway, a clearing deep enough into the Forbidden Forest that only an idiotic Gryffindor with no sense of self-preservation would venture there.

Or a Slytherin with a Golden Boy to corrupt.

I had originally planned on confronting Potter before the Holiday break. Then that irritating Dark Mark issue had come up, and I had spent the time before the break working to ensure that the whole Draco-becoming-a-Death-Eater fantasy of my Father's never became a reality. Thus I wound up having to postpone my heart-to-heart with Potter until after I returned, which appears to have been to my advantage after all.

Potter had been one of only nine students who decided to remain at the school; the only other Gryffindor who stayed had been a first year who could never work up the nerve to bother the 'Boy-Who-Lived'. Which meant by the time his adoring, and not so adoring, public returned to Hogwarts, Potter had had three weeks of undoubtedly blissful solitude. Three weeks of not being expected to save the world, always do the 'right' thing, or be perfect. Three weeks of not having to deal with the doe-eyed stares of one half of the school or the accusational glares of the rest. Three weeks of being able to just be Harry Potter without having to explain his every thought and action.

So of course upon their return, it took the rest of the students a little more than a week to drive him back to the point of near-insanity.

*******

From what I could tell, his nightly romps had started about a month into the term. After walking around like a particularly volatile potion for weeks, Potter had finally exploded one night at dinner after an innocent, if constantly repeated, inquiry into his health by the Mudblood. He had rushed from the Great Hall and, from the interrogation he had received the next morning, I learned he hadn't bothered to return to the Gryffindor Tower all night. He, of course, completely ignored his tag-alongs' demands for answers, and stared off into space with an emotionless face that was almost up to my own standards.

Over the next several nights it became obvious that he continued to go somewhere at night. He was almost never at breakfast, and he developed bags under his eyes so large it made him look as if he had been punched in the face. He continued to ignore the Mudblood and Weasel, and the school in general. He even went so far as to ignore me when I tried to talk with him. I had even been civil...relatively speaking of course. As if I had ever done anything to deserve his indifference. Enmity of course, but indifference; I don't think so.

After several failed attempts at following him to where ever he was going, that damn invisibility cloak of his made it impossible as he had at some point developed the ability to walk quietly, no doubt just to irritate me, I had finally given up. The next morning in Potions I had Goyle trip Potter as he entered the classroom. As he hit the ground, I placed a levitating spell on his glasses, making it look as if they had simply fallen off his face and skidded along the floor in my general direction. Moving quickly, before the Mudblood or Weasel could act, I picked up the glasses and sauntered slowly towards Potter. Not moving my lips, I whispered a chant under my breath to infuse a tracking spell into the bloody things. He would not be getting away from me again.

When I was near enough, I handed the spectacles over to him with a smirk. "I believe you dropped these."

Potter hesitantly took the glasses back, looking for all the world as if he expected me to bite his arm off. Then he inspected them carefully, and I held my breath as I waited for him to detect the faint remnants of the spell I had just cast. Thankfully, he didn't notice anything strange and the final traces of the spell faded safely away. Apparently he had only been looking for physical changes. The fool. After assuring himself that I hadn't cracked a lens or something, he put them on and continued on towards his desk.

"You're welcome," I called after him.

He stared back at me intently before mumbling, "Thanks," then turned around and sat down.

Really, is a little common courtesy so much to ask?

*******

My mind is broken from its contemplations of my past ingeniousness when Potter begins to rant.

"Why can't they just leave me the fuck alone?" he rambles, his arms flailing about in agitation. "It's not like they really give a fuck. They don't want to hear about my problems. I'm the bloody Boy-Who-Lived; I can't possibly have problems. So what if the only memories I have of my parents are screams of terror and a flash of green light. So what if I was locked in a cupboard for eleven years. So what if my relatives hate me, starve me, beat me. So what if there's a psychopathic megalomaniac out to kill me. So what if I was forced to watch a boy die in front of me, then was tortured and had my blood used in a spell to return Voldemort to a physical body. None of that should possibly bother me. I'm a hero; I have to be noble and generous and cheerful. Sit there and listen patiently as they rail against the injustices of their lives, but never mention if I'm upset. Why do they even bother to bloody ask if I'm alright if they don't want to hear the fucking truth?"

"Because their feeble minds need the reassurance that everything is fine," I answer with disdainful sarcasm, "and you have become their litmus paper. As long as you are 'alright' then so too is the rest of the world."

Potter had spun around at the first sound of my voice and is now attempting to cause me to spontaneously combust under the heat of his glare. "Malfoy, what are you doing out here?"

"The same as you, I imagine," I pause and tilt my head up to continue my study of the heavens, "I got sick of playing the role others have chosen for me."

"What are you talking about?"

I face him once more, staring into his eyes, which in the moonlight appear completely black. Now is the moment of reckoning. Time to lay my trap, and see if my prey will take the bait. "Did you honestly think that you were the only one whose lot in life had been decided for them, without their consultation, Potter?"

"Oh please, don't try to pull that shit with me Malfoy. I don't know what you're up to, making up some sob story about your life, but I'm not buying it."

"And what 'sob story' are you referring to, Potter? I don't recall crying to you about how terrible my life is, I'll leave that to your fan club. I'm simply getting tired of you constantly walking around with this chip on your shoulder, acting as if you are the only person in the world who hasn't had much of a say in the direction of their life."

"At least none of the rest of you are expected to single-handedly save the whole bloody world!"

"No," I agree, my eyes boring into his own, "some of us are expected to help destroy it."

"As if you aren't looking forward to every minute of it."

At that I give Potter my best you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me glare. "Do you truly know me so little? Really, Potter, I know that you are dense, but can you honestly say that, after knowing me for five and a half years, you actually believe that I would be willing to be subjugated by a half-breed? You honestly think that I, Draco Malfoy, would be content kissing the feet of that walking corpse?"

"Your father is."

Touche. Potter's conversational skills really have improved over the years.

"In case you haven't noticed, I am not my father. I can still be numbered among the living, for one thing."

"Huh?"

Sigh. Then again, maybe his skills haven't increased as much as I had thought.

"You mean you haven't heard? Where have you been? My father's death has been the hottest little piece of gossip around Hogwarts since the Holiday Break. Of course, you have been rather wrapped up in yourself of late. As it doesn't really affect you much, I can't say that I'm surprised that you didn't bother to listen to the news. It only leaves you with one less Death Eater to worry about." Here I stand, moving my deliberately emotionless face up to his eye level while conveniently 'forgetting' to mention that it was I who arranged my father's early exit from life. There's no sense overwhelming the poor boy with too many facts all at once.

"Or, more precisely, two less. For whatever my word may be worth, let me assure you that I have no intention of following in my father's footsteps." Moving off into the forest in the general direction of the school, a superior smirk blossoms on my face. "Of course, that doesn't mean that I am going to become a fawning little member of the Church of Harry Potter. I still think you're an insufferable git. And now, if you'll excuse me, this little glade seems to have lost whatever quaint appeal it previously held."

I get about fifteen feet before Potter's voice stops me. I'm impressed. I had expected his over-sized guilt complex to kick in much sooner.

"Malfoy..."

Sighing, I look back at him over my shoulder. "What is it now? Care to insult any more of my dead relatives?"

Chagrin momentarily flashes over Potter's face, but he quickly recovers and puts his now usual mask back up. "I'm sorry," he says, obviously reluctantly, "about your father. I really didn't know."

I snort and shake my head, "Don't bother lying. You're not any sorrier to see him go than I am."

That certainly confounded him. I revel in his utterly bewildered look as he desperately tries to regain his ability to speak. "But, but he was your father! How can his death not bother you?"

I am very proud of myself for biting back the snide comment that that particular piece of stupidity generated. "Potter, my father was an ass. I am quite aware of that fact. A terribly hypocritical one at that, always blustering on about the inferiority of Muggles and Mudbloods, all the while willingly serving one of the very half-breeds that supposedly disgusted him. I might have been able to forgive him that...maybe...but then he made the mistake of trying to order me to do the same. That is where I draw the line. No one tells me what to do, what to think, how to feel. No one."

Oh, I have him so thoroughly confused now.

"But you always acted as if you agreed with him, with all your talk about how much you hated Mudbloods, and how Muggle-loving pureblooded wizards were disgracing the rest of you."

"Potter, my father was a Death Eater. How do you think he would have reacted had I actually shown a desire to think for myself?"

"So you don't really hate Muggles and Mud...Muggle-born wizards?"

Gods, he almost sounds disappointed. "Oh, I do loathe them, don't get me wrong. Our wizarding blood is becoming more and more tainted by the intermingling of our kinds. And I believe they are parts of lesser castes than pureblood wizards, such as myself. I do not, however, see any point in killing them. As long as they are willing to accept their true positions in life and bow down before me, that is," I drawl, enjoying the shocked look that appears on Potter's face now. I swear, he's shown more emotion in the last ten minutes than he has the entire year.

"Willing to bow down before you?"

I look at him with thinly veiled impatience. I can only do so much 'nice'. "I'm a fucking Slytherin, Potter, also known as ambition personified. I plan on ruling the world someday, I just prefer to have my subjects alive and serving me, not dead and useless."

"Ruling the world?"

"Bloody hell, did someone cast a recanto hex on you, or are you repeating everything I say purely to irritate me? Yes, ruling the world. Everybody needs a hobby, you know. Mine just happens to be world domination."

Potter just shakes his head slowly. "I'm never going to understand you, Malfoy."

"I wouldn't have it any other way," I reply as I continue my journey back to Hogwarts, leaving the seeds I planted to germinate in Wonder Boy's head.

*******

For the next several weeks I was very careful to treat Potter exactly as I always had. Well, I did take some of the hostility out of my insults in an effort to make them seem a little more 'friendly'. I was trying to convince him to join me in my future world takeover, after all. Perhaps a better explanation would be that I treated him as I would any other wizard, or at least, any other wizard from which I wanted something. It came as no surprise then, considering that the rest of the school was either worshipping him as a godling or blaming him for every little bruise life sent their way, that he actually began to seek out my company.

It started out as merely chatting between classes, then moved on to being partners in Care of Magical Creatures and Potions. Snape, assuming no doubt that I wanted to torment Potter, quickly agreed to my request. That incompetent oaf Hagrid was more difficult to convince. I finally had to deliberately provoke one of his little 'pets' to attack me during class. I spent several calculated minutes after the rest of the class had been dismissed threatening to get him fired and his precious pet destroyed before dropping the not-so-subtle hint that I might be willing to keep quite about the whole mess, if he partnered me with Potter for the rest of the year. After a few rather humorous attempts at thought on the part of that dolt, Hagrid finally, with much reluctance, agreed to my terms. As if he had a choice. That monster of his had completely destroyed a set of my robes. Granted, I had made certain to wear my worst set that day, but still.

And so that is how we have arrived at the present. I have yet to ask Potter to become my second-in-command, as it were. There is still a great deal of hostility and a distinct lack of trust between the two of us. We have, however, managed to come to a something of a tentative...truce. Our conversations are now more or less civil, though the insults still tend to fly fast and furious, and he is more likely to be found in my company than with any of his former compatriots. Neither one of us speak of the future, and I am careful to keep my Mudblood bashing to a minimum when in his presence. It is less than a friendship, yet more than the hatred-filled rivalry we had before.

The progress has been achingly slow, but at least there has been progress. This is too critical a piece of my overall plans to risk by being impatient. I am not so egotistic as to believe that I could single-handedly conquer the world. I will need the power, charisma, and, most importantly, the name of the Boy-Who-Lived at my side. All I need do now is wait, and continue to treat him like a 'normal' human. It will not be long until someone or something pushes him that last small bit and destroys what little is left of his patience with the current status quo. And when that happens, he will realize that I am the only one to whom he can turn.

~El Fin~