"When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers."
I tapped my foot impatiently as Professor Carrow rambled on about the downfall of the Order of the Pheonix.
In my opinion, History of Magic class should have been canceled. In the war against the muggle lovers, all history of magical activity before the mid-1900's had been destroyed.
What had been salvaged from people's memories was what we were taught. It wasn't really enough for five years worth of study.
I had never been interested in history and everyone had heard the story of how the war had ended a thousand times. The tale of the dark lords victory over the mudbloods and the traitors had been pounded into my head with such force that I doubted a memory charms ability to remove it.
“Victoire Weasley!” A harsh voice called impatiently.
Jumping, I looked up to see Teddy standing at the front of the room next to Carrow.
He winked, but schooled his face as the irritated teacher glanced at him.
“I apologize Professor Carrow.” I said, hoping that I hadn't earned a punishment for not paying attention. Punishments weren't pleasant.
“Mr. Lupin has informed me that you are wanted in the headmasters office. I expect your three foot long essay on the reason the muggles and the traitors lost the war on my desk Monday morning.”
Grimacing, I agreed profusely and stood. The assignment was supposed to be two feet long and due Wednesday.
Danielle did not acknowledge myself or Teddy as I left the room. She hadn't passed her exams last year, so she was retaking the course with me.
It confused me. Danielle had been one of the smartest students in our year, but a few weeks before exams she had...changed. I pushed the troubling thoughts from my mind and quirked an eyebrow at Teddy.
As I walked through the door, Seven, my personal assistant rose smoothly off of the ground and followed behind us, walking next to Fourteen, Teddy's assistant.
We weren't supposed to pay any attention to the muggles. Even when we gave them orders, we were instructed not to look into their eyes.
I didn't follow that rule.
Shutting the door carefully, I looked up at my best friend.
History class had put me in an odd mood. I wondered what life had been like before the dark lord had taken over.
If any of the teachers had suspected I was thinking about it, I would've been punished.
The word 'punished' itself was usually enough to break the will of even the most rowdy students.
Things had been horrible, apparently. Muggles had run about unchecked, mudlbloods had stolen our secrets. I shuddered at the thought of being taken over by the mudbloods...but had they been less formal? In this society calling somebody by their first name meant either that you had no respect for them or that you were very close to them.
Had that been custom then? Had it ever been safe enough to sleep without a wand in hand?
“Hello Teddy.” I said with a smile. Teddy and Danielle were the only ones that I ever called by their first names alone.
Teddy was a member of The Youth and a year older, so he was my superior. If he hadn't been my best friend I would have been forced to differ to him. I wouldn't have been able to make eye contact or speak without being spoken to.
“Hello Victoire. I hope you weren't excited about class. We're ditching for the rest of the day.” His voice rang with mirth as he waved his black Youth badge at a passing prefect.
He seemed to be carefree, but there was an edge to his voice and a look in his eye that told me something was up.
“You know, if anyone finds out about you abusing your power like this you'll probably lose that shiny little badge.” I told him as the prefect frowned at us and kept walking, quicker than before as if he was worried that Teddy would be offended by his scowl.
He just laughed, “You have no idea.”
He said that a lot. And it was true. I didn't have any idea of what he got up to...and maybe I didn't want to know.
Smirking, I gave him a look. Even though I would never say it out loud, I was jealous of Teddy. He was a member of The Youth and he was a genius.
Plus, he broke the rules constantly, but never got caught no matter what he did.
Whenever I asked him about his extra-curricular activities he just changed the subject, or said that he couldn't talk about it.
I wanted to be able to talk to him about everything. But I couldn't do that until I was accepted into The Youth.
“So, where are you taking me?” I asked, hoping that it wasn't Hogsmeade. We never got caught sneaking out, but I was tired of walking the patrolled, manicured streets.
It was hard to look at the perfection when you knew what else was out there.
He smirked, but there was something behind his grin that told me I should be worried, “The Headmasters office. I thought you were the schemer, Victoire? Surely you knew that already.”
I stopped walking and tried desperately to think of what I had done wrong. That was a long list...but I hadn't been caught! It was impossible.
“Are you here as a friend or a member of the Youth?” I asked shakily, refusing to resent his answer, no matter what it was.
Before he could answer I dug into my bag and pulled out a worn piece of parchment, “Seven! Take this. You know what to do.” I was proud that my voice didn't shake.
He had no choice.
Teddy smiled soothingly, but he still looked worried, “Victoire you're being ridiculous. Theres no need for you to even have one of those.”
He was referring to the letter I had just handed to Seven.
“You're telling me that you don't have one, Teddy? If you were me, would Fourteen have yours?” I asked, my tone telling him to stop being evasive.
He sighed and ruffled his hair, which somehow looked darker than it had before. A trick of the light, maybe.
“I have one. Everyone has one. And even if you were going to get killed today, it wouldn't do any good. And the person Seven delivered it to would be disposed of on to top it.” His voice was the softest whisper.
“I want somebody to know what I was thinking, Teddy. I want someone to care. I just...need to have something to leave behind.” The question was whether or not I would get my wish.
“They aren't going to hurt you. I won't allow it.” His voice was calm resolve.
Even if that was true, the letter I had given Seven was a decoy. My assistant and I were a lot closer than people could ever suspect.
She knew what to do if I was killed.
“You won't allow it?” I repeated quietly, “You might be high ranked enough to protect me from a few idiots in your year-and maybe even a few bumbling Death Eaters, but not enough to protect me from Severus Snape.”
His mouth quirked on the right side and he put an arm around my shoulders, pulling me down the hall.
“I'm not allowed to tell you what this is about, but I swear that this is good news.” He smiled again, but there was a contradictory gleam in his eyes.
“If it's good news why do you look so worried?” I asked quietly as we approached the headmasters office.
He blinked and the worry disappeared instantly. Nobody survived long in the society if they couldn't control their emotions.
“You're a filthy liar.” I whispered in response to his smile.
He waved his badge at the door and it opened, revealing a spiral staircase.
He grinned, “You have no idea.”
With that he seemed to give up on convincing me that it was safe. He just took my hand, which made butterflies erupt in my stomach, and led me up the stairs.
With him holding my hand it was easier to believe that it was going to be safe.
Teddy knocked on the door, then let go of my hand. People died for minuscule information in this world. Us holding hands could only cause problems and give our enemies ammunition.
Just before a deep voice called out, 'enter', Teddy whispered, “Gryffindor courage!”
I couldn't help but smile. We were both in Gryffindor. All four of the houses had a great deal of esteem. Slytherin was the best, of course, but Gryffindors had helped win the war, so they usually outranked the others.
That was another one of the facts that had been pounded mercilessly into my head.
Teddy opened the door and entered, I went behind him, as was proper. Seven and Fourteen waited outside.
Severus Snape was a tall man with long, black hair and a hook shaped nose. He was the headmaster and he outranked me by so far that I wasn't sure if it was proper not to be kneeling. I stared at the carpet, glad for once about the rule of no-eye-contact.
“Take a seat.” The man said quietly.
I did not speak as I hurried to the chair that Teddy wasn't already taking.
I did some quick calculations and decided that compared to Severus Snape I was a low ranking house elf.
It wasn't encouraging.
“Victoire, do you know why you're here?” The man asked.
I shivered. A first name alone was a delicate thing. Intimate, almost. Hearing him say it made my stomach hurt.
It meant that he had no respect for me. That I was lower than dirt, compared to him. It was the truth.
I answered as quickly as my aching stomach would allow, “No, Headmaster.” I whispered meekly.
I had to be sure that I gave him just the right amount of respect. If I gave him too little, I would end up dead or worse. If I gave him too much, I would never gain his respect.
Severus Snape handpicked The Youth. If I wanted to rise through the ranks of society, I would have to go through him.
“I received an order this morning, from the Dark Lord himself.” Them mans voice was quiet, but I could hear his irritation at being undermined. He paused.
From the Dark Lord himself? How had I attracted his attention? A cold ball of fear developed in my stomach.
I had learned how to categorize the Death Eaters long ago. There were two categories. The ones who wanted power and the insane ones.
They all started in the first category. They worked impossibly hard, hurt everyone around them and ended up in The Youth. Somehow Teddy had managed the promotion without alienating myself and Benjamin Nott, his other best friend.
Then, after joining the Death Eaters, most of them continued with their blind desire for glory and power. But there were a few that forgot themselves. They tossed their ambition aside and began worshiping The Dark Lord.
I had seen a few like that and it frightened me. I wanted to join the Youth because it would put me on an even playing field with Teddy.
What if I joined the Death Eaters for the same reason? What if I became like Bellatrix Lestrange?
Severus Snape continued, “You are to be promoted Victoire Weasley.”
Well that happened a lot faster than I had anticipated.
Feeling relief at the use of my last name and testing my limits, I rose my eye level to his nose.
His lips curved.
“Headmaster, may I ask a question?” I asked as meekly as I could.
He continued as if I had not spoken, “I would have refused, but I took a look at your records and I was...intrigued.”
I gulped. I had been brought in for punishment twice as many times as my peers, and broken nearly every rule that I could without being put to death.
And he was...intrigued?."
“It says that you are at the top of your class in The Dark Arts, you single handedly beat Teddy Lupin, in a practice duel, you tricked Professor Carrow into not sending you in for punishment on three different occasions and that you are suspected to be the one who stole the...questionable books from the library before they could be burned.”
I fought off a grimace, there was a lot more in that file than there should have been. Somebody was watching me.
Teddy had lost that duel because he had some stupid chivalry complex. I had only tricked Professor Carrow by obliquely blackmailing him with information I didn't even have...and the books had been Teddy's idea.
“The only reason that you haven't been punished for the...less savory contents of this record is that all of the crimes lack any evidence beyond whims and guesses. Is that clear?”
I nodded enthusiastically, “Yes, Headmaster.”
Severus Snape paused for a moment before nodding back.
“Congratulations, Victoire-”, I winced, “You are now a member of The Youth. You will be contacted.” It was a clear dismissal.
It was that easy? No painful initiation? No forcing my way in through blackmail and well placed spells?
I was almost disappointed as I stood and followed Teddy out of the circular office.
"And....be aware Ms. Weasley. This is a very dangerous game you're playing."
I blinked at the final comment, then turned and bowed, "Yes, Headmaster."
“That made no sense.” I announced as soon as we were back in the corridor.
“How so?” Teddy asked, looking more worried than ever.
“How did I attract The Dark Lords attention? Why was it so easy to get in? Why haven't I been punished for the things in my file? They never needed anything more than a whim before!” I shook my head, “Something is wrong here.”
Teddy sighed and glanced at his watch, “Victoire, do you trust me?”
Staring at him cautiously, I nodded. I trusted him more than I trusted anyone. I would eat and drink things that had been left unattended in front of him and I didn't react every time he made a move that might be interpreted as reaching for his wand. There wasn't much more I could give.
“As much as can.” I added truthfully.
He nodded seriously and suddenly he was whispering frantically, “In thirty seconds people are going to come from every direction and surround you. You'll have to fight them, but you will lose. I can't help you. I'll help them. They will give you a sleeping potion or stun you and you'll wake up when it's dark. I'll be there. Whatever you do, don't give in. It's a test. Just a test.”
I stared at him, processing, “Teddy...” There was nothing to say.
I only had a few seconds left.
He stared into my eyes as if he were trying to transfer some bravery, or will power into me. It wasn't until I heard footsteps that I broke eye contact.
I didn't even have to feign surprise.
At least twenty genderless figures wearing masks surrounded me with their wands drawn.
Terror lurched through me, but everything had a surreal quality as I drew my wand and put my back to a wall.
Teddy joined the group that was closing in on me with a blank face. His eyes were screaming apologies.
There was no conversation.
A tall figure suddenly aimed and whispered, crucio.
I couldn't deflect it.
Pain. My entire body erupted in flames. Jagged saws hacked away at every inch of my skin. I was drowning. White hot knives stabbed me without mercy as I squirmed.
It stopped as suddenly as it began.
I found myself laying on the floor, shaking. Blood dripped from my lips because I had bitten my tongue as I forced myself up and shouted stupefy at the nearest figure.
It was a tactic I had taught myself in my second year. The punishers enjoyed their jobs. If I didn't scream, it wasn't nearly as fun. Of course, they tried a little harder than usual to break me in the first few months, but once I had proven myself, they had gotten bored.
Now, whenever I was sent in for punishment I was given a short session and sent away.
“Impressive.” A light female voice complimented, trying to hit me with another curse.
I deflected it numbly and used the wall to push myself up, too distracted to send a counter-curse.
Why weren't they all attacking at once?
“Keep to the lighter stuff. We'll have plenty of time later.” This voice was deeper.
I looked around the circle, realizing that Teddy either wasn't there or he had thrown a hooded over his black uniform.
Suddenly, they all attacked at once with a dozen different stunners.
I didn't stand a chance.
I heard muffled laughter before the world went dark.
A/N: You know, I don't think that I've ever ended a chapter in a non-cliffhanger. I should try to be more fluffy.
I know that you will have questions. This is highly AU, after all and I completely understand. And as you may or may not know, I take CC very well-so please give it to me. It helps! :)
So please leave me a review and I will most definitely respond, or come poke my meet the author page at the forums!
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