Draco is given a choice, but the freedom to choose is no longer his. Threatened into obedience, he must find a way out of mess after mess without getting himself and his family killed. Note: Thi...
"I know, Mother. I'm coming!" Draco answered her, failing to hide the irritability in his tone. He knew very well how important tonight's meeting would be, and he had no intention of messing it up.
As the two approached the gathering at last, Draco noticed an opening in the circle of silent, waiting Death Eaters, leaving just enough room for two more to join. Excitement crept into Draco's heart; these servants of the Dark Lord were organized, indeed. There were whispers of disapproval at the Malfoys' near-tardiness, but it appeared to Draco that no meeting had yet been started, and thus, how could he be late? After a moment, he caught his Aunt Bellatrix's eye. She glared at her nephew, as though warning him not to embarrass her. Draco glared back defiantly, more confident than ever that he could handle his father's position, at least until he had one of his own, alongside both his parents.
At that moment, a sudden, eerie silence fell over all of them. In the blink of an eye, Draco knew the reason for the abrupt hush. It was time; the Dark Lord had arrived. Then and there, all Draco could hear was his heart pounding. It was as though even the wildlife here knew not to make a sound. Then, as if the racing of Draco's heart and breath were a cue to follow, the Dark Lord turned to the boy and seemed to study him. It was a terrifying and exhilarating feeling, being looked through straight into his thoughts by this dignified wizard. "Draco Malfoy." It was not a question - it was an order. Draco was about to respond dutifully when he noticed that only he and the Dark Lord were standing. His mother and aunt, along with the rest of the Death Eaters, were all kneeling, their heads bowed. Draco twitched, embarrassed - it was obvious that he was supposed to be kneeling, too. He immediately sought to correct the mistake, and dropped to his knees, furious at himself for making a mess so soon. Still trembling visibly, he turned up his eyes as his new master spoke.
"Have you come here unprepared, Draco?" the Dark Lord addressed him in a near-whisper, as though speaking to a young child. But there was no endearment in his tone, for even Draco could hear the quiet anger that hissed in that voice. The youth wondered if an apology would do any good, but decided to wait and hope the Legilimens would know he was regretful of his unintentional misbehavior. "Yes," the wizard spoke again, seeming to be lost in thought. After a few painfully long moments, he continued. "I assume you know, at the very least, why you were summoned here?"
"Yes, my Lord," Draco replied quickly, not eager to upset him again. When it was clear the Dark Lord was expecting more of a response, he continued. "I'm here to become a Death Eater," he said. He hoped that was the right answer.
Lord Voldemort appraised Draco sternly as he finished speaking. "Do you know what that means, Draco?" he prodded the boy.
Draco paused, feeling less confident with every breath he took. By now, he was sure that he had no idea what would come of joining the Dark Lord's inner circle. He was quickly realizing how unpredictable such a life might be. Before he could answer, however, the Dark Lord raised his wand slightly to point it directly at Draco's heart. The boy swallowed hard. "You will, young Malfoy," said the cold voice he was learning to fear. "You will." Then, Draco watched the Dark Lord's wand as it was lowered, and sighed as discretely as possible, still quite worried.
Sneering viciously, Voldemort called out, "The rest of you... leave us." He was still watching Draco, while Draco kept his eyes on the wand, shaking harder. Then, as the others obeyed, Draco turned his head very slightly so he could see his mother. Not you, he pleaded with her in thought. Don't you leave, too... Please, Mother... But she was already out of sight.
There was a cold silence that emanated from the night around the two wizards as they each waited for the other to speak. When Draco remained silent, too worried to open his mouth, the Dark Lord took the opportunity to make his point. "Your dear family learned the requirements of my favor in their youth, and I confess, am hardly impressed with the manner in which they have failed in educating their sole heir." Draco felt as though a great force were dragging him further downward at these words, but still he said nothing. Voldemort glowered down at the top of Draco's head, adding, "Or perhaps you have simply cast aside their teachings, believing them to be the mismatched words of fools?"
Finally, Draco replied in a voice as steady as he could make it, "No... No, I never did."
"If that were so," challenged the Dark Lord, "why did you arrive here in the confidence that you would have no trouble pleasing me, when you clearly have not learned anything useful from any of them?"
Draco found himself unable to speak, or even to think clearly. What could he say now that would keep him safe?
Meanwhile, the Dark Lord was putting his focus into using Legilimency on the teenager. "You wish for safety?" he questioned him with a tone that hinted Draco might stand a chance. Draco held his breath, expecting the worst. "But for all things, Draco, there is a price to be paid." Those words were unexpected as they reached Draco, but rather more welcome than the words he had expected to hear. He looked up; would he be shown mercy?
"Stand," Voldemort commanded, and Draco obeyed, his heart hopeful. "You must prove your allegiance to me before I will promise you any reward... but I will make a bargain with you. I will charge you with a task, and if you succeed, you will be under my protection as a true Death Eater. Should the opposite prove true, you will be deemed no more worthy of my mercy than a useless, filthy Muggle. Were that the case, I should need to dispose of you. Along with your dear parents, of course."
Draco could not keep from choking at the position he had gotten himself into, and it took him at least a minute to comprehend the danger in which he had placed himself, and his mother and father. He couldn't bear the thought...
It didn't take him long to come to a decision. He nodded, dreading the passing of each second. Immediately after he'd made his choice, however, Voldemort took him by his left arm, and sent a flash of excruciating heat through his skin. Draco's outcry might have reached the furthest corners of the woods, but the sound could not have been more deafening then the whispered last words the Dark Lord would speak to him that night: "Kill Dumbledore. Tell no one."
When Draco opened his stinging eyes only seconds later, he was alone in the clearing, and his arm was still burning painfully. When he looked down at it, his heart seemed to miss a beat. He had the Dark Mark.