Two weeks after his meeting both unexpected and unwanted, Percy angrily
paced the floor of his office. A test. A test! Percy did not want to be
tested on his worthiness as a Death Eater, though whether he feared
passing or failing was anyone's guess. Actually, it was not anyone's
guess but his own, but telling himself that it could, conceivably, be
someone else's guess made him feel less alone. Never had he lied so
often in his life. Today he had told his parents that he was working
late and might possibly meet a friend from Hogwarts after work. He
hoped that his hand on the family clock would not give him away.
day after Professor Dumbledore had rather forcefully suggested a career
change to Percy, he had obediently sought out a former classmate in a
run-down pub that backed Knockturn Alley.
had not been a classmate for much of Percy's Hogwarts career. Flint had
been a year above Percy, and in another house to boot, but he had
failed to pass the curriculum and had been thrown into Percy's
Gryffindor-Slytherin double Potions lessons during his seventh year.
This had been part of Percy's reason for choosing Flint as his entrance
point to the world he had promised all his life to fight. He wanted a
contact that had not had much of an opportunity to know him personally.
Stupid would help, as well. Despite the fact that Dumbledore had
handpicked him for this job, Percy was sure that his position as spy
would be obvious. Saying that a Weasley was a Death Eater was likely to
attract about as much serious consideration as saying that one wanted
to referee the next Thunderer-Warrior game.
Flint had been the Slytherin Quidditch captain for several years and
had never, so far as Percy could tell, done anything to stay within the
rules or promote good sportsmanship. One of Percy's roommates, Oliver
Wood, had been the Gryffindor captain and on nights after the two teams
had had a match or an informal run-in, Oliver had yelled and stomped
and sworn for hours on end before calming down enough to fall asleep.
"Weasley. You actually showed," Flint chuckled meanly. "I don't know why I'm surprised. You never were like the others."
"The Gryffindors. Your brothers. Their friends. The noble ones, the ones who went around
claiming that all they wanted was world peace and happiness for all and a Gryffindor championship."
"I wanted the Gryffindor championships. They made me look good. I was prefect. Head Boy."
"You were, but you're nothing now."
"Can you do something to change that?"
"I might be able to."
"Mights don't go very far with me."
you aren't in charge. For all I know, you're doing this on a dare. For
all I know, you wouldn't last a day. Initiations into the places we're
discussing aren't easy. And once you're in, you're in forever, or you
Percy did his best to mumble under his breath and sound surly, which was not a habit for him.
was that?" asked Flint sharply, or as sharply as he could when his
less-than-impressive intellect was further dulled by his consumption of
large amounts of the pub's finest wares.
"I was saying
your initiation would be easy compared to living with Oliver Wood for
seven God damned years." Flint's eyes brightened, and Percy mentally
patted himself on the back. It made sense that Flint felt about Oliver
as Oliver felt about Flint. This would be a good way to ingratiate
himself, and if Oliver knew his reasons he surely would not mind.
Oliver was fairly easy-going about all things not called Quidditch.
"My time at Hogwarts was wasted, you know?" Percy
continued, taking a drink of the pub's vile specialty himself. "What
did it get me? Nothing but a boring, badly paying job that's never
going to get me any respect. And the worst things about Hogwarts were
my damn roommates. Ol-- Wood was always whining about Quidditch and how they just had
to win, but then he'd go out there and not really try. No bewitched
Bludgers. No getting decent brooms by any means necessary. He never
would have thought of something like that stunt you pulled, pretending
to be dementors to upset that little crybaby Harry Potter."
"You have a brother who's almost joined at the hip to Harry Potter."
And I love my brother." He couldn't very well say that he didn't. He
was a Weasley. He had red hair and freckles, and he had a plethora of
siblings whom he both enjoyed and enjoyed annoying. Right? Certainly,
he was different from his siblings, but could he be so drastically
different that even Flint, who wouldn't be able to pour water out of a
boot with instructions on the heel, would believe that he hated them?
"I love all my brothers, but I don't think the way they do. I didn't
spend my time in school playing tricks and games. I studied. I planned.
I'm the smart one in the family, and I know which side is the winning
Flint smirked unpleasantly. "You know, I think you do."
"What does that do for me?"
Fridays from now, be in your office in the evening. We'll pick you up
for your test. You do well, we'll think about sponsoring you. You got
He had never wanted to "get" anything less.
Nonetheless, here he was, two weeks later, pacing back and forth in his office, awaiting the arrival of Marcus Flint.
Percy stopped in mid-pace and lunged for his wand as three hooded
figures, the stuff his childhood nightmares had been made of, appeared
in his office.
"I wouldn't use your wand, Weasley. It
wouldn't be a good way to get yourself invited to join us," said the
figure that was unmistakably Flint.
"Care to introduce me to your friends?"
"Oh, nice cover, Weasley. Asking for an introduction to cover up that he's scared of us. No, I wouldn't care
to introduce you. Not before we decide we can trust you. A cold-hearted
bastard you may be, but you've never shown any interest in anything but
being a Ministry type before."
"You must know some other Ministry types if you were able to get in here."
"That we do. But it's not as if we weren't invited. We'll even leave right now, if you've changed your mind."
"Then follow us."
can't believe I'm doing this. I can't believe I'm doing this. I can't
believe I'm doing this. I can't believe I'm doing this. I can't believe
I'm doing this. I can't believe I'm doing this. "Lead the way. I'm ready." I'm terrified. I can't believe I'm doing this. I can't believe I'm doing this. I can't believe I'm doing this. His heart beat in time with his repeated thought. I can't believe I'm doing this.
walked down the hallway, as calmly as they pleased, as if a group of
wizards wearing the classic Death Eater regalia were a common sight
inside the Ministry office. Percy sincerely hoped that they were not.
Flint, beneath his robes and hood, pointed to a doorway as they passed. "Know him?"
"Gilbert Wimple? Yes, I've met him. Committee on Experimental Charms."
"Good. Ever been to his house?"
"Once. Years ago, before I started Hogwarts. I went with my father for some reason."
"Even better. You'll know where we're going tonight."
"Why? What does Gilbert Wimple have to do with you?"
Flint just laughed and produced some black cloth from beneath his cloak.
"Put this on."
not to look nervous, Percy saw that the cloth was in the shape of a
hood, a Death Eater's hood. Warily, he pulled it over his head,
wrapping its mask around to cover his face. He was dumbly startled to
discover that he felt no different inside the costume of a Death Eater
than he did in the robes of a Ministry worker.
going to go outside and Apparate to Wimple's house. He and his wife are
both at home, or they were less than an hour ago. Just do what we do."
I can't believe I'm doing this.
Then, a more pressing thought occurred to Percy.
Don't make me kill someone. Don't make me kill someone. Don't make me kill someone. Don't make me kill someone.
did not want to kill anyone. He did not even want to hurt anyone. Least
of all did he want to hurt a friendly co-worker of Father's, someone
who had invited Percy into his kitchen to eat cookies when Percy had
been a young child.
Don't make me kill someone. Don't make me kill someone. Don't make me kill someone.
was unethical. It was immoral. It was against everything he had ever
been taught. It was against everything he believed. It was what he was
fighting to stop! Surely, Dumbledore had not intended him to . . . but
he was supposed to convince himself that he wanted to be a Death Eater,
and he could not do that by inventing elaborate plots by which he could
ask the Hogwarts Headmaster what to do.
All he could do, he decided, was beg an unknown force to listen to him.
Don't make me kill someone. Don't make me kill someone. Don't make me kill someone.
Apparated to the middle of the street upon which stood their target.
Percy barely had time to wonder that someone as thick as Flint could
master the ability to Apparate before one of his companions had drawn
his wand and blown the front door off its hinges.
can't believe I'm doing this. Don't make me kill someone. I can't
believe I'm doing this. Don't make me kill someone. I can't believe I'm
doing this. Don't make me kill someone. I can't believe I'm doing this.
Don't make me kill someone.I can't believe I'm doing this. Don't make me kill--
grabbed Percy's arm roughly, and they all began to run forward through
the open door. Percy braced himself, sure that he would be repelled by
a protective spell, but nothing happened. Had the Death Eaters removed
the spell? Were the Wimples so naive or trusting that they did not use
Percy recognized Gilbert Wimple's voice, shouting
in fear, yelling for his wife to run. Rounding a corner, he could see
that his wand had already been snapped, and that he was being held by
two hooded figures, his arms twisted, his head banged against the wall.
Was this everything? Intimidation and nothing else?
Percy had seen Flint do worse to Gryffindor first years without the
A hand was raised to point first
at Percy and then up a short flight of stairs. Understanding, he loped
up them two at a time. He was to do to the wife as his companions were
doing to the husband. It would not be difficult magically; Mrs. Wimple
was nearly a squib, although she was wonderful, warm, and caring. In
all other ways, though, this task promised to be the most difficult he
had ever completed.
"Stay back!" she cried, her back against a bedroom wall and her wand pointing at Percy.
he whispered, not wanting his voice to be recognized and inwardly
berating himself for not altering before he had left the Ministry. The
wand flew easily into his hand and he snapped it, tossing it across the
room, before reaching out one long arm and grabbing Mrs. Wimple by the
She was shaking violently, and he wished that
he could tell her that he had no intention of hurting her. He wanted
nothing more than to comfort her as he would have Ginny; Mrs. Wimple
was no taller than Percy's younger sister. He was certain, though, that
he was being observed, and so he gagged her, bound her, and threw her
into the wall, wincing sympathetically and disgustedly as flesh met
brick, and hoping that she would not bruise too badly.
heard footsteps behind him and saw that it was Flint. Flint mimed
knocking someone unconscious, and Percy stepped forward, pulled his
victim off the floor, and clapped her on the head with the heel of his
hand, trying to make it look brutal and not as if he had aimed for the
spot behind the ear that was likely to be the quickest and least
"Now go through the closet, grab his briefcase, and find the file on new charms," Flint commanded in a low voice.
Percy did so, and they summarily left the house, conjured the Dark Mark, and returned to his office.
Safely inside, Flint removed his hood and Percy did the same. "You did well," said Flint simply.
"Why didn't we kill them? I thought Death Eaters never left their victims alive."
"Eager, are you? First of all, Weasley, those weren't victims. If they were, we wouldn't
have left them alive. Second, you haven't been initiated. You could
turn around and tell the world what you saw me do tonight-- but you
can't say you saw me kill someone. You're a big risk, but you'll be a
big prize if you work out. You might even be my ticket into the Inner
Circle. But that's where you're going right now. They'll check you
Percy's head was spinning, and Flint laughed his
usual, mean laugh. "Catch," said Flint, and he threw Percy what looked
like a Bludger but what was, as he realized as soon as he caught it, a
The bludger was wrenched from Percy's hands
even before he was able to orient himself. The night was dark, darker
than any night had a right to be, and although Percy was somehow sure
that he was in the middle of a circle of Death Eaters, he could see
none of them. Even if he had been able to see their figures, their
faces were surely masked and their heads hooded. They, though, could
most certainly see him. His pale skin was illuminated by a charm of
some sort that had been cast even as the portkey was taken from him.
Virtually nothing could have made his position more vulnerable.
Well, there was that.
pain was all-encompassing at first, and then it faded to a haze.
Eventually, Percy became aware that the pain was now only a haze
because the curse had been removed. It could not have been left on him
for more than half a minute; he had not even fallen to his knees.
that hurt?" echoed a voice obviously disguised by several of the charms
Percy had been contemplating using on himself earlier that evening.
"Yes," Percy answered flatly, deciding that since the
Death Eaters already knew the answer to the question, which really had
been the stupid question to end all stupid questions-- then Percy
reminded himself that there were no stupid questions, only stupid
people-- they wanted to feel out his personality.
"The pain will be much worse if you ever displease us."
"Do you wish to join our junior circle?"
you give your word to follow the directions given to you by your
sponsor and the senior members of the junior circle?"
"I give my word."
"Do you renounce your loyalty to the Ministry of Magic?"
"I renounce it."
"And to Albus Dumbledore?"
"I renounce it."
"And to the causes that further the interests of Muggles?"
"I renounce it."
"I renounce it."
"And to all causes which may have objectives which differ from our own?"
"I renounce it."
"Do you swear that your blood is pure?"
"I swear it."
"Why are you superior to Mudbloods and Muggles?"
"Extend your left arm. Let us see that pure blood of yours."
cool solution was poured onto Percy's arm, but it did not remain cool
for long. It began to burn, and boil, as if it were something alive and
fighting to crawl inside him right through his very skin. Next, the
blade of a knife was placed against the burning, moistened skin and
covered by the black-gloved hand of a man who had appeared from
"Place your right hand over his," came the echoing, commanding voice.
Percy did so.
"Now push down and cut yourself. Three times, as deeply as you can."
The cutting of wrists was not a popular method for suicide for no reason, but Percy bore down on the blade nonetheless.
first cut was not a horrible ordeal. He was unable to feel it; instead,
he heard the knife grind against his bone and so stopped.
second cut more than made up for it. Acid flowing into his veins
mingled with blood flowing out. He was weakened but felt that he could
perhaps summon the strength to cut off his whole arm at the shoulder
and be done with the thing. It was not worth this.
third cut was the worst of all, but the hardest to contemplate because
Percy was already losing consciousness even before he began. Sweat,
blood, tears, and acid all became one as he thought what he was sure
would be his final thoughts.
Percy was revived, though,
perhaps a minute later. "Rise!" called the voice, and Percy staggered
to obey. His left arm hung limply at his side. His best guess was that
the bleeding had been stopped, but he knew not how. He knew only that
his previous idea of removing his entire arm and never again putting up
with the pain it could feel had been a good one.
"Drink!" commanded the voice.
cup appeared before Percy, and he downed its contents in a gulp.
Instantly, his stomach lurched. Was it veritaserum, then? Percy had
always believed that the nausea veritaserum was said to cause came not
from any of the ingredients found in the potion but from the troubled
minds of the imbibers who were about to say things that they wished to
keep private. He changed his mind now, and swallowed dryly, trying to
keep himself from retching.
"Were the answers you gave me earlier tonight entirely truthful?"
"Yes," said Percy wearily, wondering why they had not just given him veritaserum at the time.
"You still wish to join us?"
"You have no loyalty to the Ministry of Magic, Albus Dumbledore, or non-Pureblood causes?"
It took Percy until his third answer to notice that he was lying, lying
through veritaserum. He was not even fighting it. Had he convinced
himself to play his role to the hilt? Did he really believe . . . ? He
had neither the time nor the strength to analyze the answer to that
"Why do you wish to join us after a lifetime of loyalty to the Ministry?"
"The Ministry was not what I believed it to be. It made a fool of me when I thought it would bring me power."
"Do you understand that you may endanger your family?"
"Yes. It's worth it."
"Are you loyal to your-- let's narrow this down. How do you feel about your brother Ronald?"
was about to repeat his statement to Flint, that he loved Ron but did
not think the way he did, when a memory of their time together at
Hogwarts suddenly shot to the forefront of his mind.
"Get-- away-- from-- there--" Percy said, striding toward them and starting to bustle them along, flapping his arms. "Don't you care what this looks like? Coming back here while everyone's at dinner--"
shouldn't we be here?" said Ron hotly, stopping short and glaring at
Percy. "Listen, we never laid a finger on that cat!"
what I told Ginny," said Percy fiercely, "but she still seemed to think
you're going to be expelled, and I've never seen her so upset, crying
her eyes out, you might think of her, all the first years are thoroughly overexcited by this business--"
"You don't care about Ginny," said Ron, whose ears were now reddening. "You're just worried I'll mess up your chances of being Head Boy--"
"Five points from Gryffindor!" Percy said tersely, fingering his prefect badge. "And I hope it teaches you a lesson. No more detective work, or I'll write to Mum!"
And he strode off, the back of his neck as red as Ron's ears.
Percy told the assembled group. "I don't love Ron. I thought I did, in
a he's-my-brother-so-I-have-to fashion, but the more I think of him,
the more I see that he was in my way. Nearly lost the Head Boy position
for me with all the stunts he pulled. Brothers can be very different.
They can share blood and not give a damn about each other. Not know a
thing about each other," he completed bitterly.
circle seemed to accept his statement, but, had Percy had more ability
to string together a coherent thought, he would have been more
concerned about whether or not he accepted his statement. Had Ron been
right, all those years ago? Did Percy care about Ron? Did he care about
Ginny? How could he say this under veritaserum, without thinking twice?
"Extend your arm again." Percy did so, with no small
amount of effort, and saw that it had been half-sealed so that it
looked something like raw meat. Then, the light that surrounded him
vanished, and all that he could see was a glowing brand making its way
toward him. Before the brand burst entirely into flames, Percy was able
to recognize the Dark Mark.
He could not see the man
who advanced on him, but after he had seared the long-feared emblem
onto Percy's already wounded arm, he whispered "Welcome," in a voice
that chilled Percy to his core.
This must be him. The
Dark Lord himself had just touched him, marked him, branded him.
Instinctively, Percy tried to look at the figure, but he saw him no
more than he saw those standing in the circle around him.
The bludger was thrown at his chest, and he found himself sprawled helplessly on the floor of his office.
Note: The flashback to Percy and Ron at Hogwarts is, as I'm sure you know, a quote from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, chapter nine.