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    ***~~~*** Both Lucius and Severus waited anxiously for the weekend. Folter had warned his son of the excrutiating pain he would have to endure in order to receive the Mark, and he ordered the 18 year old not to, under any circumstances, show weakness when branded. “If you cry, or even cry out, so help me, Lucius, I will curse you myself!” Folter told his son on Thursday night. Severus had stood back and listened, silently, as his uncle continued to threaten his cousin. “When I am done with you, ‘crucio’ will be the only word left in your vocabulary, and pain the only emotion left in your feeble body. This family cannot take the shame of a weak and fragile son, and I will not have some spineless pansy as my heir. Understand?” “I will not cry, Father. I will be strong, and make you proud, as I always do.” Lucius said with an air of over-confidence. “Don’t get an attitude with me, Lucius!” said Folter, drawing his wand, which he always kept in the right side pocket of his billowing black robes. Lucius instinctively tightened his hand on his wand, both hidden inside his robe pocket. But his father did not point the eleven inch instrument of Mahogany and Dragon Heartstring in the direction of his hardheaded son. Instead he held it by his side, and called out, “Cylindra!” Severus was confused (emotion of the week!). Cylindra was one of the house elves, the old cook, who had been with the Malfoy’s for decades. The tiny house elf entered at once, wearing a torn formerly white ripped up pillowcase she had obviously fashioned herself some time ago, and carrying a wooden spoon. “Cylindra, my son Lucius wished to witness first hands the results of the Unforgivable Curses. I shall need an elf to try them on. Rather than chose three, and perform a different curse on each, I have decided that one of your offspring would suffice. Which do you wish me to take?” “Oh, Mas’r! Please! Not my chil’r’n! Not mine, Mas’r! Cylindra instead! Cylindra is old house elf, no use to you soon, as Cylindra is dying each day already! Please, take Cylindra, Mas’r!” “Nonsense. My wife, though I do not often worry about pleasing or angering her, would be most upset to lose you, as she is so fond of your cooking and, er, personality. I will take one of the younger ones, give me one of your sons, and this way, when you die, your daughter will still be around to do the cooking. Go, and fetch one. I will expect you back momentarily…Or I shall kill each of them in front of you. Go!” Cylindra the house elf sighed, obviously torn. “Yes, Mas’r. As you wish.” Lucius sneered at his father. He honestly hated bearing such a striking resemblance to the older man; sometime Lucius hated his own reflection simply because it reminded him so much of the older Malfoy. “That’s really necessary, Father?” He asked, but it was not meant to be a question. “You will see what dishonor will get you if you embarrass me Saturday.” “But Uncle, to do that to Cylindra, it’s so terribly cruel,” Severus began, but, upon catching sight of his Uncle’s glare, he broke off and stared defeatedly at his hands. About a minute passed before Cylindra returned, but it felt like an eternity to Lucius and Severus. She was followed closely by her two sons and daughter, who hopped forward to clutch her mother’s trembling hand. “Cylindra is here with offspring, Mas’r.” Folter Malfoy smiled cruelly. “Which did you chose, Cylindra?” “Father!” “You have made your choide as I demanded, have you not?” “Mas’r!” The smaller male house elf stepped forward. “Mas’r, Kicker has offered to be the one. Kicker will do it.” Lucius couldn’t helped thinking about how much he hated to hear them refer to themselves in the third person. “Kicker it is then,” said Lucius, pointing his wand at the elf. The other male house elf, Rockers, rushed forward with grim expression and grabbed Cylindra’s other hand. She and the female, Shadowling, were already sobbing. Kicker’s face was stoic as the Master Malfoy placed him under first the Imperious Curse. He made Kicker dance about, flip around like a fish out of water, and break a vase over his abnormally shaped head, cutting his big ears with shards of glass. The teenagers watched silently as Folter lifted the Curse. Aiming his wand directly at the little house elf, he cried, “Crucio!” Severus could hardly stand to watch. When that bit of torment was finally through, Lucius was almost glad to hear, “Avada--” but the second word was inaudible over the screeches, screams and cried of the other three house elves. There was a flash of green light, and the littlest elf lay motionless on the cold wooden floor. “Good night, Kicker,” Severus whispered to himself. “Don’t embarrass me,” Folter spat at Lucius, then turned on his heel and headed back to the kitchen. “Cylindra!” The pair heard him call from the attached Dining Room. “See that my desert reaches me in my study momentarily. And tell that girl of yours to get that mess off my floor. I’ll take tea with my cake.” “Yes, Mas’r.” ***~~~*** Severus was quite sure that Thursday Night would stay burned in his mind for a long time…But he’d much rather have horrible images burned into his mind than a horrible scarring brand burned into his arm. But in less than two years, he would have one to match those of his father and Lucius. Ebony had agreed to come to the meeting (she had little choice, once Stalinus made the decision to tell her of their induction to the Death Eaters he insisted she come along and watch). She and Narcissa joined Desé and the other women off to one side of the field where the ‘ceremony’ was performed. Narciss’s sister Bellatrix was there as well; her husband had already been inducted. “Why our Lord refuses to let women join, I’ll never understand,” she whispered bitterly to Severus as she went off to join the women while he was permitted to stay and watch with the men. It didn’t take all that long, and, though it took all of his energy to maintain a semblance of dignity and strength, Lucius did not cry. Afterwards, the group was allowed to remove masks (those who were already members arrived wearing them) and mingle with the other Death Eaters, thwier wives, and other underage Wizards and Witches who were in attendance. Severus greeted Sherona Rayne, who was there with her parents and newly inducted older brother, Kalus. He also spotted The Goyle and Flint families, and admired Taai’s brand. “Good to be of age, eh?” The older boy had quipped. “No pain, no prestige though, right? No prestige, no pwer. And who doesn’t mind a little pain for a lot of power?” “Righto,” Severus had agreed, feeling oddly out of touch with his old friend. ‘You saw him just two months ago, Severus,’ he told himself, ‘and he’s still the same Taai. Why are you so—” But whatever Severus thought he was “so—” was nonessential, as he didn’t have time to chastise himself further, Voldemort was speaking, and everyone knew to turn attention to him immediatly. “It has been brought to my attention by this woman here,” Began the Dark Lord, motioning for someone to join him on his platform, “That some certain females feels they are worthy of joining my Death Eaters.” Severus, and several other people at the meeting, gasped. Bellatrix Black! “Mrs. Lestrange feels that she is just as loyal a follower as any, and wishes to be branded with the Dark Mark. I have made a deal with her…If she is able to withstand the pain of the Mark for a full three minutes, I will allow any woman who, in the future, proves herself worthy and loyal to me to become one of my Death Eater, and I will welcome Bellatrix into my elite circle." "She'll never stand the pain!" Severus heard Lucius hiss in his left ear. "If not," the Dark Lord went on, "this young lady will not only ruin it for any women who would like to join later, but she will also be most horribly cursed, tortured until she knows her rightful place as a woman. Have I your blessing, Lestrange?” Bellatrix’s husband nodded curtly, glaring at his wife. “So be it.” The Dark Lord lifted the young woman's arm, and began to administer the Dark Mark... . . . And Bellatrix Lestrange became the first female Death Eater. ***~~~***

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