Don't know why lj wouldn't let me post this all in one go seeing as how it was posted all in one go in the fest that it was written for....Anyways, it's split into two parts now...
Title: Thus We Spiral Downwards (Part 1)
Genre: Drama, angst
Characters: Antonin Dolohov, Evan Rosier, Severus Snape, Regulus Black, Ashley Mulciber, Angelus Wilkes, Jack Avery, OCs, other DEs
Rating: PG-13 (for propaganda and war themes)
Word Count: ~ 8,000
Summary: The training of young Death Eaters, their friendship, the dangers they face, and the War that will inevitably take its toll.
You should see their eyes. The boys who come here, to the Academy, from all over Britain and Europe. You should see the way they look, the way they draw themselves up, the way they hold their wands – as though everything in the world depends on the next choice they make, the next step they take.
The Purebloods, I mean.
We train halfbloods too, of course. There are not enough Pureblood boys to make up a whole armed force. But the halfbloods have their own agendas. They come here for a different reason and we teach them differently in many ways than we do the Purebloods. Because their motivations are different and we must appeal to different psyches and different centers of inspirations.
We teach the halfbloods and the so-called New Purebloods – the one’s whose lineage is three generations of wizarding parentages or shorter – their importance in the context of helping a noble cause that will help their children, that will promote the safety of all wizards in the face of a growing muggle population, a cause that strives for a regime where their prevalence over muggle-borns and their rights of birth are not only recognized but acted upon. We teach them that they fight for the power they do not have, for the recognition that they deserve. We teach them politics and the need to free wizards from their bonds that are enforced by the Statutes. We reveal to them the corruption of the Aurors and the failures of the current system and address in great detail the need to reform the present system and establish one that is superior, one that is politically satisfying. They see themselves as progressives, as reformers. These boys have the best intentions in mind, either for the world at large or at least for their families. We teach them on a principle of nothing to lose and everything to gain.
That is not how we teach the Purebloods.
The Purebloods are conservatives, aristocrats. In fact, they are the ones who have everything to lose and must, at the least, preserve what they have managed to hold on to. Of course, we infuse them with the popular propaganda as well, if for anything then so that they know the larger picture, the one that exists beyond the immediate need of preservation. These boys come here for something higher, more exalted. They come here for honor, because to duty, seeking the preservation of the world they were raised in. They come here with heads held high, young gentlemen every one of them. There is no room for a single sullied motive in these boys who come with a longing to prove themselves worthy or their blood, of their family name, of their fathers’ pride. They come full of conviction, of enthusiasm, ecstatic at the opportunity they have been given to prove themselves, to go down in history as the saviors of tradition, of the whole wizarding world, even. These boys don’t see themselves as killers or destroyers; they don’t even see themselves as reformers who must break one order to form another.
They view themselves as heroes.
--From Antonin Dolohov’s letter to an unidentified recipient, 1975
The Lord’s Academy of Magic, as it was officially called, was established in 1973 when the Organization was already only half-legal. By 1974 war broke out and Tom Riddle’s followers had to go underground making the Academy as illegal as the Organization which ran it. Of course, there had been no secrets from the beginning that what the Academy produced were highly trained followers of a revolution-bound wizard. The Academy accepted boys, and in exceptional cases girls, at the age of 14. Though there was no official pledge given on entrance, as it was when the fighters were transferred to the battle forces at the age of 16, but everyone who came to Antonin Dolohov with a request for admission knew exactly what they were coming for and the few people who did leave after the first year of training all did so during the year of ’73. All who entered the Academy once the war began came there with certain reasons and expectations.
Initially, all the boys were trained together according to year – first or second – but later there arose the question of separation of the Purebloods from the others. By 1975 the Academy had solved this issue by creating an Elite Young Guard which trained Pureblood boys – and in rare exceptions, such as Severus Snape, extremely talented and correctly-minded halfbloods – as a sort of Elite squadron, which was meant to be the upcoming replacement of the EBSotL (Elite Battle Squadron of the Lord) which contained the Organization’s leaders and top officers. This Young Guard included boys in the Academy and those who had just moved up into the main battle forces. The Academy produced only one Young Guard during its time of operation but it was a solid, highly-trained fighting unit. Antonin Dolohov presided over the training of these boys while Brutus Greengrass trained the General Trainee Body for the majority of the time. By the end of 1978, the War was taking so much toll that the Academy, as a formal institution, was disbanded and recruits – boys as young as 15 and girls who were of age – were instructed on the spot.
The year of 1973 saw the start of the training of the Tallis twins, Ashley Mulciber, and Angelus Wilkes. The year of 1974 was the year of Evan Rosier, Jack Avery and Severus Snape. 1975 welcomed into the Academy Barty Crouch Jr, Regulus Black, and Antonin’s personal protégé, Anatole Bonfante.
“Wands at the ready, gentlemen. Show me your stances.”
The Young Guard Academy boys, standing in two rows facing each other, fell into ready stances, wands held up in ready position, as Antonin Dolohov paced back and forth between them. He finally stopped at the end of the row and shook his head in distaste. “This is what happens when you take DADA at Hogwarts.”
Nervous laughter from the boys, all of whom were between the ages of 16 and 14.
“Everyone look at Rabastan and the Tallis boys.”
Numerous heads turned to look. All three boys suddenly became very aware of
“What are they doing right that you are doing wrong?” Angelus Wilkes raised his hand. Antonin made a dismissive gesture at him. “I know you know, Mr. Wilkes. You too, Mr. Mulciber… Mr. Avery, what are they doing right?”
Jack Avery squinted, as though trying to concentrate. “I can’t say, sir.”
“Alright, Avery. Disarm your partner. Silently.”
Jack did as told. Barty, who was partnering with him, gripped his wand tightly but there was barely a jolt. Jack flushed and tried again. Gaining the same result, Avery lost his temper and shouted. “Expelliarmus!” There was a larger jolt on Barty’s wand and the boy stumbled forward to unanimous snickering.
“Quiet! Mr. Avery, look at your wand. If the tip is higher than the top of your wrist than you’re in trouble. Either your hand position is wrong of you’re not steadying your wand enough. In this case, it’s your wand, by the way. Everyone, lower the points of your wands. Good, Mr. Snape, Mr. Black. Mr. Rosier, don’t let your wand droop, you still want it to point at your target. Mr. Bonfante, tighten your grip, that wand shouldn’t be bobbing around. Now, as Mr. Avery has just demonstrated for us, in silent spell-casting this is most important because the figure you perform with your hand has more influence on the accuracy of your spell. This position is most important in dueling because you must fight silently and you have very little room for maneuvering. You must be quick, precise, efficient. This is true in any battle situation but in dueling it is most important. Especially when you start to duel. Now, you’ll ask, what about combination that we’ve learned when a figure that starts from the shoulder is forced from the waist or above your head if you have just needed to execute a block? The point is that the tip of your wand will always be below your wrist and parallel to the top of your grip if you are aiming at a target at the same level as you. If it is below or above, obviously that doesn’t apply because the grip on your wand may be different altogether. Now that we’ve learned to hold our wands...” Antonin walked between the two rows and turned once again to face them. “…who wants to tell me the effects of a Dementia on a Patronus? ...Yes, Mr. Snape.”
“A strong enough Dementia curse is capable of ripping apart a Patronus and destroying the happy memory of the person to whom the Patronus belonged. The loss of the memory might not be permanent but long and strong enough to throw the caster of the Patronus into a state of psychological despair. This is why it is often referred to as the Dementor curse even though it is more often used to fill a target with Dark Magic that can have various serious effects on the body, brain and spell casting abilities of the target rather than against a Patronus,” Severus drawled out in almost a monotone, as though he were reading from a textbook.
“Precisely,” Antonin said, tone rather dry given the extensive answer he was given. “Gentlemen, for those of you who are first-years in this Academy, the Dementia will be your first true introduction to Battle Arts.”
Evan Rosier was one of those boys who got along with everyone. Everyone in Slytherin and Pureblood society that is. The younger brother of Andre Rosier who was Head of Prisoner Interrogation in the Organization and a handsome Pureblood son, he was popular and used his popularity to gather around him numerous friends and increasingly, as he got older, eligible Pureblood brides, despite the fact that marriage would always be far from his mind during his lifetime. The one thing everyone loved was to play Quidditch at the Rosiers so it was no surprise to Antonin when, during a visit with Andre, he found Evan, Regulas, Rabastan, Jack Avery, Barty Crouch and Anatole soaring high above the Rosier properties with a Quaffle being passed between them. They had abandoned Bludgers all together and there was no assigned seeker so everyone had to keep an eye peeled for the Snitch. Jack, Evan and Barty were on one team with Barty as the keeper and Regulus, Rabastan and Anatole on the other with Rabastan as keeper.
“Who’s winning?” Antonin asked Andre who appeared by his side with a bottle of fine wine.
“I think Regulus’ team is now. They were losing badly at first when Rabastan was on Evan’s team and Barty on theirs. I told them to even it out.”
“Ah. Must I guess whose idea it was to put all the little ones together?”
Andre laughed. “Jack’s, of course.” If anyone was causing trouble of any sort it was either Avery or Snape.
“So, Snape isn’t here I see.”
“I don’t think he likes sports much. At least according to Evan.”
“Would seem so. Nor is he a very good flyer. A great duelist but a poor flyer.”
Andre nodded. “Have you started teaching the younger lot Broom Formation?”
“Couple of weeks ago. They’re doing good at it. Regulus is the best out of them, I’d say. No wonder he’s a seeker at school. The boy has very good balance and a sharp eye. I was surprised when I heard, you know. He’s such a delicate boy.”
Andre sipped at the wine looking thoughtful. “Well, you know how it is. We’re all aristocrats at the Malfoy reception on Saturday, despite any raid, any battle we were fighting the night before. That’s the way this war is. It’s just beginning, and not to contradict out Lord but…”
“It won’t end any time soon. I know. Especially now that the Organization has been pushed underground.”
Suddenly there were joyous shouts from above. Antonin looked up to see Regulus with one hand held high, holding a gleaming golden ball in his fist. Rabastan flew up to him and the boys hugged happily. “We won!” Anatole shouted, releasing a spray of fireworks into the air from the tip of his wand and flying up to his teammates who accepted him into their hug. Antonin smiled slightly. He knew that Anatole had had a hard time making friends at Hogwarts. A French boy who knew little about British society and had no childhood friends who attended the school and possessed a sweet but vulnerable disposition was bound to be excluded. Antonin would have liked Anatole and Evan to be closer friends but Evan, during his first year, had already become part of a close-knit trio and neither Snape nor Avery cared much for the young Bonfante.
“Aw! You shouldn’t have let your brother boss us around, Ev!” Avery was shouting. Barty looked rather dissatisfied as he had a particular aversion to losing.
“Don’t be a sore loser, Jack! Andre! Brother!”
“What is it, Evan?”
“Can I order the house elves to get us milkshakes and ice cream?”
“Alright, go on.”
“Yay! Hey guys! Food time!” This announcement brought a unanimous cheer from all the boys.
“Race you lot to the back porch!” Barty shouted, and the group of boys flew off, turning the corner of the house in neat, tight arches.
“I’m glad they’re so close,” Antonin mused. “This way they know first hand, see it, are reminded of it, when they’re out there, what and who they are fighting for.”
Unlike Anatole Bonfante, Sebastian LeBeau met Benjamin Greengrass in his first year and the two became nearly inseparable. Sebastian was also French as it was becoming increasingly popular among wealthy French families to send their sons to Hogwarts if they did not wish to send them to Dursmstrang for Hogwarts was deemed a better choice than the Soviet School of Magic or the Italian Institute of Magic with one at an unfavorable location and the other unfavorably small and relatively week academically. The latter also had a bad reputation of favoring halfbloods, of all people, and promoting a rather separatist ideology that was neither progressive – favoring muggle-born rights – nor conservative. Benjamin’s father taught the large halfblood portion of the Academy so the young Greengrass was privy to many details about Academy training and could hardly wait until he turned fourteen. He told Sebastian many things he heard from his father and the other boy stared at him with wide open eyes and the sort of awe that Benjamin was expecting and hoping for.
“I heard they teach the Unforgivables in your second year, at least in the Young Guard they do,” Benjamin told Sebastian quietly during breakfast one day. “And the Young Guard is where we’ll be because we’re Purebloods.”
“Really? The Unforgivables at fifteen? That’s amazing! Of course, it’s for the battles?”
“Yes. Father says it’s very important that young fighters learn these things early, you know?”
Sebastian thought a moment. “My parents aren’t very political, I don’t know if they’d let me attend. I don’t think Mama would much like the idea of me killing anyone, even a mudblood.”
“What are you two whispering about?”
The boys jumped slightly and looked up to see Ashley Mulciber and Angelus Wilkes standing over them. The two older boys were smiling knowingly. The Wilkeses and the Greengrasses were old friends and Angelus had known Benjamin since they were both years away from first attending Hogwarts. “I was telling Sebastian about the Academy,” Benjamin admitted bravely.
“Well don’t get him too excited,” Ashley said knowingly. “Theodore – my older brother – told me all about it when they were just gathering up the very first recruits at the end of ’72 when the whole thing wasn’t even quite official yet. I had two more months to go before I turned fourteen and I could hardly wait even then. Can you imagine how hard it will be for Sebastian to wait – what? – two years at least?”
“I don’t even know if my parents will let me attend,” the boy said glumly. “They don’t like to get involved in the politics of other countries and their affairs and wars and such.”
“You’re Pureblood though, aren’t you?”
Sebastian nodded. “Of course.”
“Then they’ll come around,” Ashley told him confidently. Angelus nodded. They turned out to be right. Benjamin and Sebastian were the last Pureblood boys to join the Academy before it was disbanded.
Though everyone may have been looking forward to the Unforgiveables they did not come easy for all the boys. Ashley Mulciber, Angelus Wilkes, Rabastan, and the Tallis twins had learned these earlier and Antonin brought them in from time to time to demonstrate and help with drills. Antonin began with the most physically and mentally but least emotionally and psychologically taxing – the Imperius. Anatole Bonfante mastered it easily in the first couple of sessions. This was not new as Ashley had done the same in his time but Mulciber’s older brother was one of the Organization’s experts along with Lucius Malfoy. However, Antonin recalled that Anatole had been bewitching all by himself even as a child. He had no need for curses; the ability to charm must have simply been in his blood. This was often the case with boys like him – delicate and exquisitely beautiful. Snape exceeded expectations though he struggled in the earlier stages. Barty, who was naturally inclined toward Black Magic, as was Severus, had unexpected challenges but reached proficiency quickly. Regulus was instructed personally by Bellatrix when problems first arose and she had him casting at proficiency within two weeks. Avery and Evan Rosier took the longest. Antonin theorized that this was because Jack was naturally week willed and Evan of too friendly a disposition to truly, with all his heart, want to cause anyone harm and force anyone into anything.
The Killing Curse – most commonly referred to just as the Avada -- came next. Brutal and requiring high levels of magic control and channeling, it was efficient and fast, not requiring the caster to concentrate very long on his victim. The implications were serious but the casting period was short enough to where engagement was minimal. Snape, Crouch, and Avery took to it quickly. All three boys seemed to have a certain inclination toward strong, definitive Black Magic. The minimal time of engagement with the victim allowed them to not think too hard about what they were doing when they cast the spell. Evan and Regulus struggled consistently as did Anatole.
“Look, gentlemen, you’re thinking too hard,” Antonin would say. “When you are out there, you don’t have time to think. You just act. Those men you’re fighting. They’re mudbloods, blood-traitors. They seduce and humiliate your sisters, embarrass and betray your families, kill your friends and allies. If you don’t kill them, they’ll kill someone you love because they’re not ashamed to use these curses. The Aurors may have Ministry-imposed limits and guidelines, but those will go soon and the Order never had them in the first place. Look, Mr. Rosier, if a mudblood was going to raise their wand at your brother, wouldn’t you stop him?”
“I’d kill him, sir.” For Evan that had been enough, though he often still avoided using the Killing Curse on actual assignments.
“Mr. Bonfante, if someone was threatening and insulting your sister, if a Pureblood was doing so, what would you do?”
“Call him out, sir.”
“Of course you would. But you wouldn’t duel a halfblood or, what’s worse, a mudblood. But, Mr. Bonfante, see they are insulting your sister every day that they are calling her the equal of any and every mudblood.” Anatole had flushed bright crimson but Antonin had only seen Anatole use and Avada once – when the boy was saving his life during an ambush.
“Mr. Black, when your brother left the family, did your mother cry?”
Regulus shuffled and looked down. “She did, sir. A lot. She was angry but Sirius was the heir. Father drank so much…I didn’t even know he drank. They didn’t know what to do; it was such a shameful thing, such a disgrace. Mother yelled at Sirius a lot of course, but Father never raised his voice at anyone, even the house elves. I don’t know…sometimes I don’t know how my brother could betray us like that.”
“Your brother is undeserving of your trust at worst and seduced and misguided at best. I’m not asking you to go out there and kill the man you called your brother, Mr. Black. I’m asking you to take revenge on the bastards who seduced him with lies and poisoned his mind.” Regulus had nodded and at practices his Avadas became heartfelt and earnest but like Anatole and Evan he largely avoided it on missions.
Of course, Antonin knew that the Torture Curse would be the hardest for all to grasp. The Cruciatus was the most emotionally taxing and he was prepared that some of the boys might bulk at the idea. Theory went well with everyone and practice on conjured up targets that exploded when the curse was strong enough was soon overcome easily as well, though Antonin saw that Regulus and Anatole would, predictably, struggle with this the most. However, like with the other Unforgiveables, live targets – usually furry mice – were used to test true effectiveness. Here the problems started. Crouch and Avery overcame the initial reactions of discomfort quickly. Severus and Evan followed quickly as well, though when it came to house elf stage – some house elves who were deemed undesirable were donated to the Academy for the Young Guard’s training – there were initial difficulties. In the end Severus focused on the fact that it simply had to be done and for Evan it was in his blood – Andre Rosier was the Organization’s Cruciatus specialist. Regulus and Anatole were the hardest.
Antonin would stay long extra hours with them, often long into the night, but few things worked. The mice they finally handled with obvious discomfort but when it came to the house elves… Regulus turned away and refused – “Do what you will, sir, I know I am a disgrace but I can’t. I just can’t.” – Anatole raised his wand but his hand shook too much to aim properly.
“I will speak with Regulus,” Bellatrix finally offered. “I instructed him in the Imperius and he came to me with questions about the Avada. Well, actually, he went to Cissy, but I was the one who answered him. I can help him.”
Antonin shook his head. “I don’t think that is a good idea, Bella. Regulus can’t stand the idea of torture. Theodore and Igor say it has something to do with pain tolerance. Like a person can’t magically inflict more pain that he can personally stand. Though…I don’t quite believe that. Igor has a very low pain tolerance but a very effective Cruciatus. I think Regulus is just…soft hearted. I need to give him a valid enough motive. The idea is to make him get over the fear once. You know how the Unforgiveables are – like narcotics. Once you start, it is much, much easier to keep going.”
Antonin did force such a situation. During a raid on the Gildons a situation was simulated where Regulus believed that the only way to save Rabastan – who was perhaps his best friend in the world – was to perform the Cruciatus on one of the Gildons. Regulus, shaking and under immense pressure, completed the task. However, Antonin had never known him to use the curse again.
For Anatole the experience was harsher. The Lord was demanding that all the Young Guard be versed in the Unforgiveables by the time they come of age and as Anatole’s seventeenth birthday neared, the situation became more and more desperate so when one night Rodolphus informed him that he and Andre were taking Anatole on one of the big muggle raids, Antonin did not protest, though he knew it would not end well.
It didn’t. Anatole came back to him via an emergency portkey that Antonin had given him, shaking and teary-eyes. “I don’t understand,” Anatole stammered when Antonin had asked him what was wrong. “I don’t understand why…I suppose we must kill them, but why like that?” The boy covered his face with his hands, crying softly, almost silently. Antonin took him by the shoulders and led him to the living room couch.
“Anatole, did you perform the Cruciatus?”
“Yes.” Plus a sob. “Twice.”
“Ten seconds the first time but Mr. Lestrange said it wasn’t enough so… they made me hold the next one for a minute.”
“A minute? Are you certain?”
Anatole just nodded, face still buried in both hands.
“I’m going to kill Rodolphus,” Antonin muttered. A minute was long even for an experienced fighter who hadn’t just gone through the trauma of his first large-scale muggle raid, which tended to be bloodier than the raids on wizarding families, even the mudblood ones. “Anatole, war isn’t a pretty thing. It can never be. Rodolphus should not have acted so harshly but sometimes you have to do things that are not… pleasant.” Anatole nodded and Antonin pulled the boy into a hug. Unlike many of his friends, Antonin had no younger sibling. Not anymore. His little sister had been killed by an Auror back in 1972. But somehow this boy, whom he had first met at the train station in 1972 when Anatole was on his way to Hogwarts for the fist time, had, over the years, becoming something of a little brother to him.