I blinked into consciousness and I could immediately feel the distilled power within me. I sucked in a shaky breath, exhilaration pulsing through me, euphoria becoming me. Above me, the white ceiling was as blank as my mind. I could not concentrate on anything. There were no racing thoughts, no indecision, just clear and perfect purpose. Nothing more, nothing less. Overwhelming contentedness made the bloated beast within my chest purr. I stretched out my arms and legs languidly, the blood pulsing through my veins a living thing. I was utterly sated.
“I am glad to see you have awoken.” Said a voice that was becoming all too familiar, one that sounded far too intimate. My senses honed in on him immediately, not that I would ever let him know that.
“Of course you are.” A velvety, self-assured voice said, one that sounded quite unlike myself. I turned my body to face his, propping my head up on my hand. The room had crisp white walls, dark wood furnishings and simple fixtures.
“I see you are much less on your guard.” He said looking at me keenly, closing the book he had been reading and placing it on the table beside the elegant armchair he was currently occupying. He put his elbows on his knees and intertwined his fingers, his eyes watchful.
“I don’t believe I have anything to fear.” I said smiling broadly. As I spoke the words I knew them to be true. He returned my smile but his eyes continued to watch me for any signs of unexpected movement, any sign of deception.
“Why would you believe that?” he asked surreptitiously.
“Because you’ve outsmarted me haven’t you?” I didn’t feel malice as I should have, I was far too consumed by the incredible way the air tasted in my mouth, the way the cotton of the sheets slid over my skin, how the colours refracted off the window behind him.
“And how might I have done that?” He asked smiling at my candour.
I smiled in return not replying. I knew I was playing with a viper but I didn’t care. This was an entirely new world and I felt secure of my place in it. After all, he had gone to so much effort…
“Indulge me.” He said rising out of the chair and making his way over to the bed. He wore a simple three-piece grey suit that offset his hair perfectly. He was very handsome and he knew it. Unlike Sirius, he used it not only as a means to an end, but also as a weapon.
“Well,” I said fingering the cotton sheet, averting my eyes, “That was your power wasn’t it?” I lifted my eyes to meet his and for the first time he let the mask slip and I saw the shrewdness that had made him so illusive thus far.
“It was exceedingly clever.” I said and continued to watch him as he narrowed his eyes at me trying to decipher something, “You read the situation perfectly. And,” I said smiling again, “my behaviour.”
“You say that but I was not sure you would come.” He said his brow furrowing.
“Don’t lie.” I said harshly, “We’re beyond that now. Of course you knew. You would not have waited for a second if you thought there was a chance I would not come.”
Yes,” he said evidently amused at my spine, “I did know.” He lifted a long finger to trace my jawbone the way he had before as though unable to stop himself.
“And,” I continued, “Because it was your power I absorbed, it was so much stronger than Sasha’s.”
“Yes,” he said coming fractionally nearer, “but there is another reason for it too.”
“And what is that?” I said moving across the bed to come closer to him. His eyes watched my progress carefully and he did not speak until I stopped moving as though I was a particularly dangerous creature prone to attacking without warning. I might be wandless but he didn’t doubt my capabilities for one second. He was right not to.
“They were fresh kills. Perhaps twice the number of those in the lake and far more recent. They were, of course, my kills and thus, far more potent than you imagined.” He said a satisfied glint in his eyes.
“Ah,” I said rolling over to look at the ceiling again, “so that is what true power feels like.”
“Intoxicating isn’t it?” he mused.
I smiled my response.
“While we’re being honest with each other…” I said bouncing to a seating position unable to hold still for too long. The pain in my body had completely disappeared, there wasn’t a trace of it, a single ache, a momentary stab.
“Yes?’ he asked watching me intently.
“Why did you go to all this trouble?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” he asked looking at me, a very well placed furrow on his brow. Something told me that there was a chance that he was simply going through the motions, pretending to find me amusing, but then again, one could never know. Perhaps he really did.
“I think the parts you want me to see are obvious but there is something more going on here.”
“Why don’t you tell me what you think it is?” He asked with an indulging smile.
“You know Voldemort,” I said not skipping a beat, “this is going to become supremely boring if I have to do all the talking all the time.”
“You dare to call me Voldemort?” he asked calmly, a trace of amusement in his tone as though he were watching a particularly entertaining child. After a pregnant pause, he began:
“You are consistently interesting Yves. Continue, please.” He gestured with his hand.
“Obviously you became intent on my family because of our bloodline and what you thought we could achieve. Probably because you wanted to harness it for yourself. Perhaps for another reason. It is difficult to say. I think you tried with Sasha but you didn’t quite achieve the desired result. Perhaps he was too unstable, perhaps his desires too closely resembled your own, perhaps he was too ambitious. So, instead, you tried again with me. But, the problem was that I was never on your side. So you had to get me to a place where you could force my hand. Hence you manipulated a set of circumstances to push me toward this inevitable conclusion.”
“I did not manipulate all the circumstances Yves,” he purred, “much of that was your own doing.”
“Indeed.” I smiled turning my head to look at him again, “However, you must have identified the singularly glaring problem with your plan?”
“And what is that?” He asked crossing his legs and placing his hand on his chin as he regarded me.
“You must know that I will never follow instruction. I will never be your weapon because I will never truly be on your side.”
“Ah, yes,” He said but his smile told me that he had already thought out this eventuality, “Initially I did think that you would be useful.” He stood from the bed and went over to the table where two wine glasses stood. He filled both glasses as he continued.
“I though, how poetic it would be to use Dumbledore’s woman against him, one he had so carefully cultivated but one that miscarried so grievously. You were never going to be what he needed you to be. Instead you will be a reminder, not only of his failures, but The Orders as well. The more I encountered you, your will was what struck me as the most potent. However,” he turned and walked over to the bed handing me a glass, “if I was after obedience, I would have recruited another Death Eater or turned to the many I already have. That matters little to me now.”
“Then what is it you want?” I asked sipping on the deep red wine.
“Interestingly,” he said taking a sip of his own wine, “it is quite simple, I want you. However, this does not preclude us from our predicament. You see, I cannot trust you and I would not be fool enough to try. And you will not trust me, I have seen your iron will. I could probably break it if I tried, but I am not sure that is what I want after all.”
“So you were right earlier, we are at a stalemate.”
“No,” he said grinning as me, his eyes narrowing slightly, revealing his cunning once more, “not at all. I will, however, have to force your hand as you so aptly noted before. The power you have absorbed,” he said taking another sip of wine before placing it on the bedside table. He yanked open the sheets and exposed my almost entirely webbed body, “it is too much for your vessel to contain. You are going to die if it stays this way for much longer.”
“So you want me to die?” I asked acceptingly. I didn’t care either way.
“Far from it. I want you to live but I want you to live on my terms. Seeing as you do not have a wand, you cannot expel the power yourself and no,” he said, realising that I was going to ask for one, “I am not going to give you one. That would be foolish Yves and I am no fool. The only way you are going to be able to lower the lever of power within you is on my terms.”
“What are your terms?” I asked taking another sip of the wine, swirling the richness of the liquid around my mouth.
He slid his hand into his breast pocket and pulled out a long chain with an ornate ring dangling from it. A hand engraved ‘G’ adorned the top of it.
“These are my terms.” He said swinging it in front of my eyes. His eyes followed it and I could clearly see the want in them, “I had quite wanted to save this particular item for my own uses,” his eyes shifted focus and he looked at me far more covetously than he had the ring, “But I will make an exception. I will take some of the power from you and deposit it into this ring. I will allow you not only to live, but I will allow you to live by my side. Of course,” he said placing a hand around my neck angling my eyes to look at him directly, “I’ll never give you a wand but I will provide you with everything you may need. You will have a never ending supply of power with which to satiate yourself and I will ensure that the ring will feed you, little by little, not so much as to glut you, and not so little as to starve you. I will protect you, and you will be one of my most revered supporters…”
“You cannot bend me to your will.” I said bluntly.
“I do not intend to bend you completely Yves,” he said moving his thumb to stroke my chin, ‘just enough for you to see that you and I are not that dissimilar.
Before he could reassert his grip around my neck, I took my chance. I threw myself onto him, throwing him over onto the bed. I planted my legs on his and pinned his arms above his head.
“You don’t honestly think I would bring my wand into the room?” he asked laughing.
“Of course not.” I cooed into his ear, “I intend to show you that I will not be subservient. Besides, what do you get out of this?”
“I get,” he mused, “exactly what I need and some of what I want.” It wasn’t a proper answer but it was something.
“A bargain must be made Yves.” He said looking me directly in the eyes.
“And I will take your bargain but you must know,” I said lowering myself inches from his lips, “a time will come when I will be your equal.”
“I look forward to it.” He said his eyes glinting covetously again. He pushed me off of him and onto the bed.
“Dress yourself.” He said, “and then I will do as I have promised.”
He stood, claimed his glass and walked toward the door.
“One last thing,” he said as he opened the door. Beyond it was a darkened passage quite unlike the room I was in, “you must know the toll the power is taking on your body.” He turned to look at me. I nodded simply, “So you know that with it you will die, but without it, you will die just the same. I will give enough for you to live and live well; you will never be without a fresh kill. But if you leave, you will die. There is no one else who could possibly sustain you, not anymore.”
He swung the door closed behind him and I considered his words for a moment.
Yves was dead now and so was Sasha. I was something wholly different now, an entirely new creature. But I was chained. The best in my chest roared loudly, furious at the imposition of it all, the forced destiny.
“No matter.” I said consolingly, “We will rise.”
I opened the closet door and pulled out one of the multiple hangings. It was a simple black dress with open arms, synched waist and flared skirt. I pulled out another, and then another. All the dresses were exquisite, beautiful and exceptionally feminine. Also, apparently, they were only meant to be worn with heels.
“He thinks we are ornamental.” I said laughing softly at the absurdity of it. Perhaps it was something we could use to our advantage. However, I obligingly put on the black dress, slipped on the shoes and pinned my hair up in the mirror. I always knew I was beautiful but if it was possible, I was more so now than I had ever been before. My hair was glossier, my skin finer, and my eyes, well, they were ebony black. Were it not for the gossamer webbing interlacing my skin, I would be otherwise perfect.
I walked to the door but it swung open before I could reach it.
Voldemort walked in looking as calm and in control as he had before. His eyes slid from my own to the dress. His smile was unbridled this time. He was evidently very pleased. I was in fact ornamental. Suspicions confirmed, I returned his smile.
“You are ready?” He asked sliding his wand out of his jacket pocket.
“Yes.” I said looking at him determinedly.
He pointed his wand tip at my chest, his brow pulled together.
“I lament having to do this.” He said looking into my eyes, “I had wished for something… else.”
I let my head fall lopsidedly, my eyes wide. Something else?
Before I could ask him what he meant, he whispered something and a black swirling mass coiled out of me. It was simultaneously gaseous and liquid, suspended but alive. He extricated it carefully and held out the ring, letting it dangle from the chain, careful not to touch either the ring or the black mass and transferred one to the other. The ring began to glow cherry red before as though it were about to melt, when suddenly it cooled and looked as it had before, no trace of the darkness contained within.
My body began to quake, my knees feeling weak, my hairs standing on end and I was suddenly unbearably cold. Voldemort caught me before I hit the ground and, instead of holding me on my feet, followed me down, into a seating position.
I rode the withdrawal of his power silently even though my body wasn’t as good at keeping the secrets my mouth would never speak.
He held me in silence for a long time. It did not feel as odd as it should have. It was neither a comfort nor unease. I had a strange feeling that beyond the obvious we were connected. Whether or not he knew that, I did not know but I wasn’t about to tell him. Finally he put the chain over my head and settled the ring above my breasts.
“We are expected.” He said tugging me to my feet.
I rose with him willingly but instead of following him to the door, I went over to the mirror. The webbing had disappeared from my skin, the black from the whites of my eyes, which instead lead into a crisp coal black of my irises.
“Fine work you’ve done here.” I said trying to be light but I could already note the unbearable loss of power from me. It left a screaming chasm, a hollow beast that could never be filled. But I would not let him know that either. If he did, he would have yet more power to lord over me.
He didn’t response to me so I turned to observe him.
“What is it?” I asked briskly coming to stand in front of him.
“If you destroy this ring you will die.” He said bluntly, lifting it lightly and running his fingers over the skin beneath it. The beast knew that this was the source of the power, that he was the source of the power. It also knew that he could give us more. I pushed the desire to ask him down. I had endured more than this and I would continue to as long as I had to. But he was giving me a way out. Destroy the ring and die.
“Why are you telling me this?” I asked taking a step closer.
“We are late.” He said tugging my hand, “We do not want to keep your new family waiting. As always, they are eager to meet someone who is in the Lords favour.”
We walked down the passage toward a spiralling staircase. The house’s opulence was bordering on gaudy, quite the antithesis of the room I had been assigned making me think that it was made up that way especially for me. Along the walls hung whispering portraits of a selection of very severe men and woman, each looking meaner than the last. The emerald green carpet beneath our feet had threads of swirling gold, ornate golden candle holders lit the way toward the immense entrance hall. I could hear the rise and fall of voices, female and male, harsh grunts, shrill laughs and hushing as we neared the room. Voldemort pulled me toward the enormous open doors of a grand dining room. In the centre of the room was a long rectangular table, occupied ball and claw chairs ran down each length, suspended above the table enormous, crystal draped chandeliers. All at once there, the scrape of several chairs being thrust backwards echoed throughout the room, escaping into the rest of the house. The Death Eaters stood, their heads turned to us as we made our way into the room. Voldemort walked to the head of the table. I tried to look at the faces of those I passed but they all hung their faces as I looked and averted their gaze. All except for one. A woman I recognised as Bellatrix looked at me with more ferocity than I had ever seen. Her one hand clinched her wand, the other was balled in a fist. Her teeth were bared and her breathing was becoming more rapid with each passing second. Hatred etched every one of her features and I knew that were it not for her Lords hand around mine, she would have killed me by now. So I did the only thing I could think to do. I smiled at her, my most beaming smile. Her lips curled before she bellowed.
“What is she doing here? Why is she here? Why?” She thumped her fist on the table dramatically.
Voldemort did not speak immediately, in fact, he did not raise his eyes to hers. Instead he positioned me by his side and looked from Bellatrix’s place setting on his right, to the other on his left. Her breathing was becoming more strained and she moaned irritably as though the mere sight of me was an affront to her.
“Move Bellatrix.” He said finally meeting her eyes. His tone was one I had not heard him use before. He spoke with such finality that when I saw that she did not move immediately, I flinched, as did those closest us around the table.
“My Lord?” she asked sweetly for him to repeat but no one was convinced.
“Move.” He said glowering at her.
“But My Lord, I…”
“Bella,” he said tempering his voice into something that resembled kindness but I wasn’t fooled and neither was she, “I would not test my patience any more than you already have.”
Her jaw slapped shut as though he had done it with force and she bundled up her dress and moved to the occupied seat beside the one Voldemort was telling her to vacate.
“Move.” She said forcefully. The entire line of people shifted one place down.
Voldemort did not smile as her or even acknowledge that what he had just asked her to do was a massive indignity. He gestured for me to occupy the seat and I sat down hastily glad to be off of my feet. He regarded me momentarily before taking his own seat. A second later, everyone else took his or her place. Wine glasses filled magically, food appeared on the table before us, a feast worthy of Hogwarts but no one went to take any food. I looked around and everyone sat, looking ahead but not making eye contact with anyone else, turning their faces from my gaze as subtly as they could.
“Welcome to the Carrow House Yves.” Voldemort said, his voice ringing in the silence.
I looked at him not sure whether to thank him. I decided silence was probably the best tactic so instead I reached for the steaming bowl of potatoes in front of me and scooped a ladle onto my plate, followed by a piece of roast beef, carrots and drowned the entire mess in gravy. I picked up a fork very aware that no one else had moved and that no one dared look at me. I lifted a fork and put a potato into my mouth and chewed slowly. Smiling faintly, Voldemort sat back and took his glass of wine in his long fingers and held it aloft. Everyone raised his or her glass almost in unison.
“Welcome.” They chanted before sipping and settling the glasses back onto the table.
I raised my glass a little after them and took a sip of my own. I didn’t give a shit about the formalities or that I had probably broken etiquette. I had grown up in a home with pure blood bat-shit crazy witches and wizards. I wasn’t about to relive that now no matter how affronted any of them would be.
“Severus,” Voldemort’s voice rang out amidst the mass of eating Death Eaters, “if I am not mistaken, you know Yves.”
“Yes My Lord.” A familiar voice said a few spaces from where I sat but across from the table. I found Severus’s face immediately. He looked as he always had, his sleek long hair hung around his face, his eyes intelligent, his face a mask of impassivity, “We were in the same year in Hogwarts.”
“Indeed.” He said looking from Severus to me. Severus did not look at me directly but focussed all of his attention on his Master, “How fortuitous. That means you know Regulus’s brother.” I cast my eyes around the table and found him almost as quickly. He glanced at me before following Severus’s lead and maintained eye contact with Voldemort. Or at least he tried to; Voldemort was looking at me.
“Yes,” I said offhandedly, “I know Sirius very well.”
“And that means you know too know James Potter?”
“I do, yes.” I said matter-of-factly.
“Frank Longbottom? And Gideon and Fabian Prewett?”
“Yes, I know them all.”
“I would quite like them to join us.” He mused, “We tried with Sirius but he is determined to land himself in an early grave.” I did not speak but noticed stiffening from Severus in my periphery; so slight I wasn’t even sure I had seen it.
“Master,” Bellatrix said beside me a cruel humour colouring her high-pitched tone, “this woman is a blood traitor, nothing but a filthy…”
“Bella.” He said warningly. Beside her a man grabbed her wrist tightly admonishingly.
“Seeing as Yves has come to embrace her new blood status, she is no more a blood traitor than you are Bellatrix. She is of one of the last remaining true pure blood families of Europe. I dare say, that she is far more in my good graces than you are at present after your mess at the McKinnon’s.”
“My lord,” she said pleadingly. Judging by her tone, being out of Voldemort’s good graces was a seriously bad place to be, “we followed instructions, we tried but we did not expect Dumbledore to arrive with…”
“Exactly.” He said taking a large sip of his wine, “You did not expect. Instead you were outsmarted and outstripped by blood traitors and muggle-borns.”
Bellatrix lowered her head in defeat but I could tell that this was little more than a crude act. She was not sorry, not for a second. She glared at me through her lashes, her hatred more real than the piece of beef I was currently chewing. I swallowed and smiled at her.
“Did I not punch you in the side of the head and kick you in the stomach? How’s that feeling?” I asked as if she had contracted a very nasty case of spattergroit.
“You bitch…” She hissed grabbing her wand.
I laughed loudly. There was nothing she could do to me that wouldn’t anger her Master and she knew it. Worse still, she knew that I knew.
I turned back to my food and cleared the plate. It seemed after that, no one else dared speak. I could tell that they were wary of inviting conversations about potentially sensitive information but I knew that Voldemort would leave nothing to chance. This entire event was probably carefully curated, staged, a test. I was failing miserably but I couldn’t be exactly what he wanted me to be right away- where was the fun in that.
I caught Severus looking at me more than a few times while Voldemort spoke softly to the man beside him. The man kept shooting me furtive glances, unsure about my place here or what roll I would play. I was wondering the same thing.
“Well,” I said long after I had finished my meal, “I don’t know about you.” I looked around the table and finally my eyes landed on Voldemort, “but I’m exhausted. If you would excuse me.” I rose from the table. Voldemort stood with me, his amused smile still in place. Around him Death Eaters rose with their Master. I wanted to laugh out loud at how ridiculous the entire scene had been and I was traipsing through it without a care in the world.
“Severus,” he said not breaking the eye-contact, “Would you accompany Yves to her room?” It wasn’t really a question, rather an order. Everyone knew it; it was just disguised in niceties.
“Of course My Lord.” Severus said moving around the table to stand beside me. He held out his arm like a gentleman and I took it, refusing to look away from Voldemort.
“I will meet you shortly.” He said and finally moved his eyes to Severus to whom he gave a curt nod.
We walked out of the room and rounded the corner when the screaming began.
Severus quickened his pace and led me up the stairs hastily.
“What’s going on?” I asked trying to look back.
“The Dark Lord is displeased.” He said pushing me along, “Come Yves.” He said sounding a little desperate.
I stopped fighting and followed him into my room. He closed the door, pointed his wand at it and whispered, “Muffilato”.
“What the hell are you doing here?” he hissed at me placing both his hands on my shoulders.
“We’ll,” I said sarcastically, “isn’t it obvious. I’m a Death Eater now.”
He pulled my forearms toward him, angling them upward, checking for a Dark Mark.
“We haven’t gotten that far yet.” I said pulling my arms away from him.
“How far have you gotten?” he asked furiously.
I looked at him trying to appraise him but all I could see was the Severus I used to know. Not this man in front of me.
“Who knew you would become a murderer.” I said shaking my head at him.
“Who knew you would become one.” He shot back.
I huffed theatrically before plopping onto the bed and removing my shoes.
“Yves,” he said coming closer but not taking a seat, “This isn’t a game, you have to get out of here.”
“I can’t do that.” I said happily and deranged.
“You will die here.” He said earnestly.
“I know.” I said allowing the same inflection to colour my voice.
“No, you are not taking this seriously.” He shook his head in disbelieve, his voice urgent, “Yves, you do not know what…” But he stopped short, quickly pulled out his wand, pointed it at the door and bent down to pick up my discarded shoes, simultaneously sliding his wand into his robes. The door opened but he did not turn to it. Instead, he went to the wardrobe door, opened it and returned my shoes to the spot they occupied before.
He turned on his heel like a soldier, nodded at his Master and swept out the room without a further word.
“Did you enjoy dinner?” He asked closing the door behind Severus.
“Not so much the company you keep, but the food was terrific.”
“You seem to have made an enemy before we have even begun.” He said coming to stand in front of me.
“Bellatrix you mean?” I asked looking up at him, “I’m afraid she is the very first in a long line.”
“Are you planning on making it difficult for me to fulfil my word?”
“Yes.” I said bluntly trying to remove the pins from my hair. This didn’t feel like the kind of girl I was. Voldemort lifted his hand and removed the pin giving me so much hassle.
“Oh but you are going to be trouble. You know, you attract more flies with with crystalized pineapple than you do with bubotubor pus.” He said.
“Is that what you do?” I asked even though I knew he didn’t.
“It has been known to work until you no longer need charm, in which case fear serves the same purpose with slightly more efficacy.”
“What was the purpose of the pretence downstairs?” I asked riskily.
“It was an introduction to our ranks.”
“I know for a fact that that was not your full number. And do dinners always go past so profoundly silently?”
“No, they do not." He said pulling out his wand.
“What are you going to do with that?” I asked eyeing it suspiciously.
“I am going to make you sleep.” He said pressing the wand to the ring hanging in the middle of my chest, it flared becoming white-hot momentarily before a wisp of black curled out of it and soaked into my chest. Euphoria overcame me, a toe-curling blissfulness, and my eyes became heavy lidded. He placed a hand behind my neck and lifted me gently, walking with me to the bed, placing my head on the pillow.
“What do you want from me?” I asked the euphoric haze threatening to pull me under. Instead of an answer I heard a chuckle and the word ‘soon.’
“Go to sleep Yves.” He said withdrawing from the room, extinguishing the candles as he left.
I know this story has gone rather awry but I am working on a second arc so if this seems flimsy, just bear with me for a few of the coming chapters. All will become clear very soon.
I would also just like to thank Allison13, Sleepingbagonthesofa, BBHP, Yasmin93 and Emmy Bacon for the dedicated reviews, for helping me make every chapter better, every character more interesting and for putting the 'love' in to the 'labour'.
If you haven't yet, drop me a review. I would love to hear from you.
All my love- A
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