Title: Thus We Spiral Downwards (Part 2)
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.
By winter of 1978 all the Young Guard had been Marked but the ball was held out until after Christmas to make sure that all the boys could be presented as an entire elite fighting unit before the Lord and the Pureblood Society. The hall chosen for the parade and subsequent ball filled up with Pureblood families from Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Russia and a couple prominent American families were in attendance. For those boys who fought for the Lord there was an acute feeling of pride and excitement. The war had been looking up. The Order was losing members, the Aurors were demoralized, the ministry in terrified chaos and there was still a steady trickle of new recruits into the Organization.
“This is really it, you guys,” Jack Avery whispered to the others as they all stood in the antechamber. “The Lord will give us his blessing tonight. Can you imagine, after all this time! Finally we get our recognition.”
“My father’s really proud of me,” Anatole put in. “More so than he is of Francis.” There were appreciative murmurs. For a younger son to beat out the heir for a father’s pride was a big deal.
“Yes. Mother’s really happy,” Regulus agreed quietly.
“I don’t think my mother could be any more pleased,” Evan said. “Andre is to be married to Alexandra Flyte within the next few months. They’re announcing the engagement next week formally. And now I’ll be recognized as truly worth of my blood.”
“I’ve asked Anastasia to marry me,” Anatole said quietly to Evan and Regulus while the others discussed the Rosier-Flyte arrangement.
“Even though she is not of your blood?” Regulus asked. “Isn’t she half-Veela?”
Anatole nodded. “My father dislikes the match but I am the youngest son. And he’s so proud of me for fighting…He could hardly refuse me the woman I love.”
“Well, she agreed?” Evan asked curiously.
Anatole flushed and nodded.
“Gentlemen!” Rabastan finally called out over the exited murmuring filling the chamber. “I’d like to say one thing! Have we not proven ourselves worthy? Are we not the sons our families have wanted? Are we not the heirs of a legend? Do we not stand here united in friendship and duty, faithful to a cause that will lead us and our world to glory, to a new future that will bloom and blossom with the beauty, wonder and DIGNITY of magic? Gentlemen, to all this I say: yes!”
They took up the cry of “hurrah!” and fell into formation just as the large double doors swung open in front of them, filling the chamber with light. They walked out into the Grand Hall along the strip of dark-maroon, velvet carpet under the watchful eyes of their Society. They came to the end in front of the throne of the Lord and knelt. They were all in black, Death Eater cloaks with their ball clothes hidden underneath. The cloaks were pinned closed with a pin depicting each young man’s family crest. Severus wore the crest of his mother’s family – the Princes. The Lord rose and swept his arm over their heads. “I have seen you train and battle. I have marked every single one of you. You have been chosen as the Elite and you have so far proven yourselves worthy. Rise.” They stood at once, heads lifting as every boy’s heart filled and overflowed with pride. Voldemort then addressed the gathered company. “They had knelt as boys but have risen as men. Ladies and Gentlemen, my faithful followers, I present to you the Young Guard.”
The Elite Intimate Circle that had been gathered around the Lord’s throne now raised their wands and colorful streams of fireworks shot into the air. Applause broke out and the boys were dismissed to go and acknowledge their families before the ball commenced. But the boys lingered for a moment, huddled together in the center of the isle. They all savored the feeling for a while, just looking at each other with bright, joyful expressions. There, in that moment, they felt like nothing could ever stop them. Like nothing could ever go wrong and an entire world of possibilities opened up in front of them. “We are the heirs of the future!” Ashley Mulciber shouted and the rest picked up the cheer like it was the only thing worth living for.
This would be the last time that they were all together and happy.
All the boys had been taught to be careful, to not trust easily, to be ready to be betrayed and kill those who have betrayed them. They were expected to have this vigilance even among those whom they took into their confidence. Theoretically, even with their families and brides. But never could Anatole have guessed when his bride had agreed to go to his bed before the wedding that she did so not out of passion but out of a desire to take from him that which would inevitably spell out his death. When he returned to his bedroom from the bathroom to find her gone he had assumed that she merely had changed her mind and the next time he saw her she gave him little reason for suspicion. He never thought to check that his emergency home portkey was still in place.
Anatole awoke one warm night in late June of 1979 – not a month after his graduation from Hogwarts – to the sound of the Manor Alarm, shrill in his ears but not blaring like it would during an invasion. Guests in the house in the middle of the night were unthinkable. His father and Francis had gone away on business for the French ministry where they both held positions. Eleanor was home as was his mother but they would both be asleep. Anatole rolled out of bed and grabbed his wand, clutching it tightly in one hand as he moved stealthily to the door. Rough voices from downstairs, somewhere around the ballroom, speaking in English.
Anatole narrowed his eyes, considered for a moment, and was about to Apparate to his mother’s room to warn her and tell her to call Father when there was a scream and a sound of blasting curses.
“Ella!” The plan changed in a single moment. Anatole Apparated to the first floor and ran in to find Eleanor fighting off several red-cloaked Aurors. She saw him and her eyes widened. “Get out of here! It’s you they want!” she screamed at him in French but he wouldn’t leave her and the Aurors turned on him. Anatole and his sister had the advantage of being able to Apparate within their own property that the Aurors did not but there was a squad of at least ten.
Anatole Apparated out of the way of a falling chandeliered only to find himself face-to-face with the sneering face of an Auror. “Ella! Go see that Mama is alright and send a Patronus to Papa and Mr. Dolohov.”
“I’m not – Impendio! – leaving you here – Protego! – with them – Dementia!”
“Ella go!” She Apparated away, casting a stream of curses at some of the Aurors. The house elves arrived to help but they were easily discarded by the Aurors. The Auror squad was down to 7 and Anatole didn’t think he could hold them off for much longer. Antonin arrived with Andre and Augustus Rookwood within minutes but by this time Anatole ‘s concentration was faltering. He found himself dueling Alexei Bulgakov – the leader of the squad – and knew he couldn’t hold off for much longer. When his father and brother arrived the remains of the Aurors fell into panic. The Blood protection of the Manor inflated the power of the family head and the heir significantly while they were within its walls.
“Retreat! Retreat!” Bulgakov called. He turned to Anatole for one last hit. “This one’s for Anastasia.” He threw a curse with such speed that Anatole could only muster a hurried Protego but that wasn’t enough. The jet of magenta light barreled through the barrier and hit him in the chest. The boy crumbled to the floor and his vision went black.
“Antonin, you know, you know there is no cure for a Blood Curse. The invention of such was meant to be uncurable. Not that anyone has ever tried for a generic solution because curses such as these vary from family to family.” Igor was certain that he had repeated this several times in the past hour but Dolohov was refusing to listen. As though the lab and the entire medical staff hadn’t been on their feat twenty-four hours a day since the Aurors raided Bonfante Manor, trying to find a cure for whatever curse Bulgakov had struck Anatole with.
“Are you certain?” Antonin finally asked in a dejected, surrendering tone. “Certain it is a blood curse?”
“We’ve shown you the family trees,” Lucius put in. “Bulgakov must have known. It can only be that Curse, Tony.”
“So the boy will die?”
“Yes. Tony, I’m so sorry.”
“Theodore’s team agrees?”
“Mulciber and the medics say the same.”
“Thank you, Igor.”
Lucius waited until Igor had left to confront Antonin. “How much do you know about Blood Curses, Tony?”
“Just the basics.”
“You do realize that these curses are not simply mean to kill. They’re meant to torture, to avenge. The boy will die…slowly, painfully. You said he began running a fever last night?”
“Yes. I was there. It’s been days but he seems to only be cold and somewhat week. Nothing…horrible. The fever didn’t even seem high.”
Lucius nodded. “The curse will act slowly at first but then it picks up momentum. Karkaroff wanted to spare you so he didn’t say but he told me. This one…it will wear the boy out. Then, it will begin to kill off his cells and tissues. His organs will rot. He will die slowly, in agony—Tony, the kindest thing that anyone could do for this boy right now is to simply put him out of his misery.”
“The Avada Kedavra is instant, painless…wouldn’t you chose that?”
“What do you want me to do, Lucius?” The sun had set and long shadows stretched out from the corners out across the floor of the room. They fell over Lucius’ face and Antonin couldn’t make out his friend’s expression.
“You know what you should do, Tony.”
“I couldn’t. There’s a reason why the Avada won’t work in things like assisted suicides. You can’t kill someone you honestly care about.”
Lucius was shaking his head. “No, Tony. For being a Master of Black Magic you’re sounding very naïve. Think very hard…what is the one thing all texts mention is needed for the Avada?”
Antonin closed his eyes. “Determination. Utter, strong determination.”
”Exactly. There’s hardly ever a mention of hate or any other negative emotion. We teach that. Not the texts. We teach that because we train for war, because it is easier to make the boys understand. Kill those sons of bitches, we tell them, kill them all or they will kill you and those you love. Hate them because they are destroying your world. But what really happens is that they become determined.”
Antonin was concentrating hard, frowning slightly. “But you need the determination to be rooted in a strong emotion. If you are not engaged…if you are not engaged enough with the purpose it will not work.” Antonin took out his wand and stared blankly at it. “Won’t work.”
“The key, Tony, the key is that any strong emotion will do.”
Antonin twirled his wand mindlessly, the gesture a nervous habit from childhood. His hands shook and he dropped it. The wand made a hollow clinking sound as it hit the wooden floor. Antonin looked up at Malfoy questioningly. “Why not someone like his sister?”
“She won’t have the resolve. None of his family would. Relatives have the bad habits to hope for miracles. Besides, why criminalize people who have never cast an Unforgiveable?” He leaned down and picked up Antonin’s wand. “Other than that…determination and any strong emotion. Just remember that. Even—“ he held out the wand out to Dolohov “—love.”
It was over the next day. When Antonin got to Headquarters that evening the Young Guard had already been informed of Anatole’s death. There had been more than enough death during the war but for none of these boys had it ever come so close to home. Angelus and Ashley sat side by side, talking quietly, almost whispering. They both looked shaken and a little grim. Rabastan stood with his arm around Regulus’s shoulders. Regulus himself was much paler than usual and there was no expression in his eyes. Barty was notably absent but the boy always tended to sneak away and deal with things on his own. Jack was hugging Evan who was obviously crying and Severus stood nearby, looking uncomfortable and solemn. When Antonin appeared with Lucius and Augustus they were paid limited attention.
“Gentlemen,” Antonin began, forcing his voice not to shake. “This raid on the family of the woman who betrayed one of our own in the most cruel manner that a woman can betray…. This raid is a raid of vengeance. I can not order you on this raid; it is not a Sanctioned operation. But I will allow any of you who wish to avenge your friend to join.”
There was momentary silence. “I’ll go!” Evan Rosier finally volunteered. He pulled away from Avery and surveyed his friends. “Jack, Sev, you stay. I know how you feel and there is no need for you to endanger yourselves. But I’ll go.” He turned to Antonin. “May I attempt to bring Barty? I know he’ll want to go if I could just find him.”
“Yes, Mr. Crouch may go. We leave in half an hour; be prepared, Evan.” Evan nodded as the older Death Eaters Apparated.
“Should we go?” Ashley asked Wilkes.
Angelus shook his head. “Enough blood, Ash. There’s nothing we could do. If it could save him… But it can’t. I’m glad Benjamin and Sebastian were called away to visit home. They would want to go. I can’t imagine how hard they’re taking this. Anatole was always so good with them and they’re so not use to this whole war thing just yet.”
“I don’t think you should go, Evan,” Severus was saying, his expression as uncomfortable and somber as before. Evan just rubbed at his eyes and said he was determined to go.
“Don’t discourage him, Sev,” Jack said, patting Evan’s shoulder. “Let him get it all out. Besides, someone needs to eradicate that bitch.” Severus just nodded.
Regulus, who had been standing close by, followed Evan into the hall and grabbed his arm when they were out of view of the others. “Don’t go, Evan. Please. Hasn’t there been enough suffering already. This won’t help anything or anyone.” Regulus looked at him pleadingly. “I’m so scared, Evan.”
Evan’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t talk like that. This is hardly dangerous.”
“No, I mean I’m scared for what this war is doing to you. To your heart.”
Evan scoffed. “Regulus, I’m going. I’m surprised that you’re not. I thought better of you, you know. We can’t let traitors get away with it. We can’t.”
Regulus looked desperate. “She’s a lady.”
Evan sneered. “Her blood is hardly pure. Besides, she betrayed one of us and joined with the mudbloods. She’s nothing. You hear, Black, nothing!” Evan turned away from him and Apparated home.
Regulus stood in the cold, dark hallway for an immeasurable amount of time. Evan’s tone, the distaste in his eyes, had been the emotional equivalent of being slapped. He stood there alone and shaking until Rabastan found him and took him home.
As delusional as it would be to think that Anatole Bonfante’s death had caused the war to suddenly become increasingly difficult, the latter seemed to follow closely on the heels of the former with nothing quite as noticeable in between. As it was, by late 1979 the atmosphere in Headquarters was turning from hopeful to frustrated and slightly confused. The ministry and the Aurors had found some way to boost moral. The Order had stopped losing members and was only gaining in strength. The Lord was becoming more and more impatient with how things were going and this was making everyone jumpy. Everything seemed to have come to a standstill. Another reason was perhaps the fact that they could no longer devote the resources and time to the Academy that they use to and it was closed. Now, new recruits were trained on the spot and this led to too many inexperienced fighters out on large operations which inevitably caused problems and liabilities. Most people were trying to ignore the fact that the stream of recruits they had gotten at the start of the War was now only a trickle.
When Regulus Black disappeared one night the uproar sent reverberations throughout the whole Organization and all of Pureblood society. It had happened during his off-time as well and shock and bewilderment prevailed. At first, everyone hoped that the boy would show up. When two weeks went by with no sign of Regulus, spies at the Ministry were employed to see if he had been captured or killed by Aurors. Despite countless efforts, no one could truly say what had happened to the boy. In the casualty lists he appeared MIA.
Seeing Regulus’ name in the casualty lists had snapped all the self-restraint Rabastan had exhibited during those two tense months. “I’m going to look for him,” he told Rodolphus.
His older brother only shook his head. “Don’t be foolish, Rabastan. I won’t let you go. No one knows what happened to him. In a war like this when a wizard disappears…you won’t find him, Rabastan. I’ll ask Antonin to give you a week’s leave. Mourn your friend, but for the love of Merlin, don’t do anything stupid.”
After the Lord fell everything degraded. Those on the fringes of the Organization dispersed and ran. Those who had no Mark and were not identified by Aurors denied involvement. Others left the country just to be safe or found a way to disappear for a time within it. Those who had been Marked had four choices: if they were not on the Order’s hit list, they might never be accused of involvement, they could get out of the country if at all possible – Rowle among others took this rout – they could claim to have been under the Imperius – Avery and the Malfoys among many others went this way – or they could go into hiding.
In early November of 1981, Evan stood in the living room of the apartment he shared with Severus, a bag at his feet and a cloak slung over his arm. He watched the rain as it dripped down the window, drumming evenly on the roof. Severus was late to come home and Evan didn’t know if he could wait much longer.
When the door opened and a cursing Snape tumbled in from the staircase into the room, Evan didn’t even look around at him. “What are you doing in the dark, Ev?” Severus asked.
“I’m leaving, Sev.”
“Why? I…do you think they know you’re here?”
Evan shrugged. “I don’t know; you tell me.”
Severus stopped halfway across the room. “How would I know?”
Rosier turned to face him. His face was closed off, expression blank. “I know you were cleared, Severus. Personal amnesty from Dumbledore doesn’t come cheap, I bet.”
“Evan, please, you don’t…” Severus faltered. For once in his life he didn’t know what to say.
“I don’t know what I’m talking about? I think I know very well. How long?”
“How long have you been leaking information to their side?”
Snape stood looking at him, almost sheepishly, like a little kid caught stealing candy, arms hanging loosely at his sides. “Six months. When they targeted Lily.”
Evan nodded. “I could kill you. I should kill you. But I won’t.”
Severus attempted a sneer but what came out more closely resembled a sob. “…They got to Wilkes today. He was with the Mulcibers and two others. Angelus stayed behind to give the others time to get away… They never got a good look at the two boys who were with them.”
“Benjamin and Sebastian. They’re not Marked; there wasn’t the time.”
“So they have a chance.”
“Unless you turn them in.”
“Evan how could you think that? I’d never!” Severus protested.
“You’ve been turning us all in for the last six months, how could I not think that?” Evan snapped.
“Look, Dumbledore asked me to turn in names and locations when the Hunts started. Said it would be better for everyone and bla bla bla… I told him no.’
“How very noble of you,” Evan scoffed sarcastically. They were silent for a moment.
“Where will you go, Ev?”
Evan shrugged. “I’ll figure it out. Goodbye, Severus.” He walked past Snape, eyes glued to the door.
“Evan, wait!” He stopped. “Listen, I could ask Dumbledore to grant you amnesty. Just you. I could vouch for you…” Severus stopped when Evan turned to face him.
“I’d rather rot in Azkaban than accept favors from that old toad,” Evan spat. Then he was gone and Severus didn’t think the apartment had ever been so quiet or so empty.
When Severus got news of Evan’s death several weeks later by owl, he was in Dumbledore’s office, discussing his new teaching position. His expression barely changed as he read the note, unsigned and, of course, anonymous, sent, most likely, from some untraceable location. The only change was a brief flash of pain across his eyes that only Dumbledore would be watchful enough to catch.
“One of your friends, Severus?”
Severus didn’t reply for a long time, merely re-read the note twice – Evan died like a hero, a true Pureblood, fighting until the end… – then crumpled it up and threw it into the fire. “In the end, they were all more devoted than I, though I trained alongside them,” Severus said flatly, looking up at Dumbledore but not really seeing him. “I heard someone once say that they taught the Purebloods differently than the halfbloods. At the time, I didn’t understand why. Now I do.”