It was a fairly rainy day in the Hogsmeade village. There were puddles of water on the ground, and droplets of water falling still from over head. The sky was dark with low hanging gray clouds. It was strange whether, true, but while the days had been hot, and humid with summer still lingering in early November, this day was different. There was a light rain, as had been lately, only the air was more a chill, not cold exactly, but cool enough to wear "warm" clothing. Winter was setting in, though not without some rain.
It was a Wednesday, and the students of Hogwarts were safely tucked in at school, sleeping - if not eating dinner. The evening sun was setting behind the castle, the dark clouds tinged a pink gray. Hogsmeade was unusually quiet for the time of evening. The last few remaining people out on the streets of Hogsmeade had already gone into their flats for the night, doors locked, and windows shut. The streets were left empty as the dead of night set it, and a chill breeze swept the streets and alleys.
There was something unsettling about the night. It was marked as the same as any other night, cold and quiet, and cryptic. Shadows twisted into shapes on the sides of buildings and houses, even in the streets. The wind gave an empty howl through the trees, pushing the lightly falling rain about. The night betrayed something, it told a silent story, an unbidden warning. All went unnoticed.
There was an unsettling crack off in the distance, away from the streets of Hogwarts. Another crack soon followed, and two hooded figures moved about the darkness, saying close to the shadows. Eyes watching the road in front of them warily. The hour was growing late, and the rain soon began to fall with more speed, more heavily. There was a fine line of water now dripping off of the hooded figures cloaks as the rain came down. Finally, off in the distance they spotted a bulky figure slowly trudging it's way down the road in their direction. They finally stepped out of the shadows, and onto the road, the hoods to their cloaks shadowing their faces.
To anyone from either the school or the village, they would have recognized the distant figure as Hagrid, even the two cloaked figures realized this, and the ghost of a smirk crossed each of their faces as they held their wands at the sides. One of the figures clearly was a woman, while the other in size and stature was of a young male. Finally, Hagrid reached the cloaked figures, and took a step back as a pair of wands were raised to him.
"The boy," the woman hissed, her lips curling into a sneer, "where is he?" As she spoke, the other removed his hood. She paid no attention to the boy, her attention clearly drawn to the look of horror on the half giants face. Her lips were curling into a mocking smile as she began looking down the length of her wand at the overly large man. In place of her sadistic looking smile was a sneer as she tightened the grip on her wand. Out of the corner of her eyes she could see the boy, her nephew flex his hand, getting a better hold of his wand.
Hagrid took a step back. His eyes wide. He had come face to face with two Death Eaters. He was simply out numbered, by one. The odds weren't good. The odds were all but on his side. "I ain't tellin' yeh nothing," he said, stammering only slightly. It wasn't likely that the two Death Eaters would just leave him to his way.
The woman smiled sardonically and lowered her hood. Dark hair lay nestled on her shoulders and dark eyes glittered sadistically in the evening night. "What are you to them," she said softly - to soft for comfort. She turned her head to look back at the castle of Hogwarts. "Are you the friendly giant, Hagrid? Is that what you are to them? Or are you their teacher. Do you teach, do you teach them well?" There was a sadistic look on the woman's face, one that no one could ever mistaken for anything else. She could have very well been the devil in the flesh; she wasn't nearly there yet. Sanity ripped from her left her to want only to cause pain.
And she loved it with a bleeding passion.
"It's getting late," Draco snapped, looking directly at Hagrid. And it was getting late. A chill breeze swept past raising the hairs on the back of his neck. "You tell us where Potter is and just maybe you'll be able to make it back to that school," he sneered. The look on his face was impassive, unfaltering. He knew the half giant wasn't about to tell them the information that they needed - and he wasn't willing to see what it was that his aunt would have him do. The thought made his stomach churn as his eyes flickered toward the older woman. Draco drew back his wand, watching as Bellatrix circled Hagrid in almost a cat like manner.
A moment flew by where the boy had almost felt like sitting down just to watch his aunt walk in a circle around the half giant. Of course, he remained standing; Bellatrix would hesitate to curse him either for simply slacking off.
The shout of the spell caused the former Slytherin boy to jump. The sight before him was one that made him flinch. Death Eaters were not supposed to flinch at such a sight of some one being tortured, but Draco did. He could hardly call himself a Death Eater, but others did. He watched, because he had to, as Hagrid squirmed around on the ground; wriggling like a fish out of water, grunting in pain, and clawing at the sides of his face. Draco knew all too well the pain he was in - what he felt. It was different to look at someone under Crucio, and to think you know what it feels like then it is to actually be under it.
A sneer curled on Bellatrix's lips and her eyes darkened. He wasn't suffering nearly enough. With her mind set on something that would only anger her more she recast the curse, and a blood curdling shout was emitted. Her sneer soon became a twisted smile as she brought her arm up in a quick movement only to bring it down in the way someone would bring down an ax to cut wood. Only Bellatrix was intent on cutting flesh.
Blood splattered from Hagrid's face, chest, arms, and legs as the Death Eater continued about her way, shouting things as 'Tell me where the boy is!' and 'It's useless. Give in'. Everytime she was greeting with a response of 'no' she would only cut some more. The rain, splattering to the ground, washed away the blood that had fallen to the ground and as Draco looked on the scene that continued to unfold before him. He couldn't tear his eyes away. This is what his future was. Already mapped out; torture, death, and violence. Everything that he had worked for meant nothing now. Under his aunts guidance he had no choice. The mark that branded him sealed his fate now and forever.
The half giant finally fell to the ground completely. Bellatrix walked around the fallen man to stand beside her nephew. The look on her face was one that the boy could never forget. She looked almost gleeful at the sight of the fallen man. This was Draco's family, a bunch of murderous lunatics. His mother was already dead, his aunt and uncle - he hadn't seen them in years, his other aunt and uncle, the Death Eaters were just that, murderous. His father was deathly insane and power hungry. And was Draco.
Bellatrix turned on the eighteen year old, her face lax once more, emotionless. "Finish it," she said, taking a hold of Draco hand and shoving his wand into it. "Or be punished."
Draco couldn't move. But he had to. He was a Death Eater and he was expected to uphold certain duties; it was made worse by the fact that until he proved himself, his aunt would make sure he upheld them. He would be killed if he betrayed the Dark Lord. Do or die. Summing up the courage he had the Malfoy lifted his wand. He could do this, he had to do this. The rain was beating down on him and Bellatrix was looking down on him. Looking upon the fallen man he knew for six years of his life Draco pointed his wand. "Avada kedavra!"
They say the killing curse is the worst curse. Casting it is such a radical act of Dark Magic that it damages the caster's soul. There are something's that can never be taken back, and the action of killing one is only one of many. No longer was Draco a boy, he couldn't escape the path that he was now on. He was a Death Eater. Finally, the young Malfoy had joined his murderous family in their acts. He, now, was truly a Malfoy.
With his wand pointed to the sky there was only one thing left to do. He had to leave the mark. "Morsmordre!" He shouted , watching as the Dark Mark lit up the rainy night sky.
"It's December," Ron commented, hitching up his back pack.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Very well spotted."
Harry couldn't help but to crack a faint grin at the two of them.
The three of them had been tracking along in the snow for the past few weeks. The rain had finally ended about four weeks before the snow started to settle in. Hermione had set a charm to cover up any track that they made in the snow as to not be followed ("Clever," Ron had commented.). They had been completely cut off from any communication to the Order, by Harry's decision. A week before September began was the last time that they had received any owl. It was made better that way, for no one to know where they were. They wouldn't even let themselves be spotted. Every time that they had to go into a town Hermione would cast glamour charms on them, and the would take up the names of Anna-Lee Whitter, Parker Applebom, and Keith Patch. Ron had argued that he had the worst name, going under as Parker, when Hermione had finally told him to shut up and stop complaining. Their story was that they were cousins traveling the wizarding world on their parents, pureblood wizards, wishes.
Hermione took care of all the glamour charms that were necessary, and whatever other kinds of charms and protection spells that they would need. Ron had officially taken the role of making sure that they had a spot to sleep when ever they all chose to take a break from traveling, they would not allow themselves to stay in a pub of any sort, muggle or wizard alike. And Harry planned everything. Every move they made, every single thing they did.
They were no longer kids. Already well into the age of eighteen, nineteen for Hermione, Harry thought of something. They were officially members of The Order of the Phoenix, they had been when they left the Grimmauld Place. He wanted to make it fully official. While Death Eaters had their mark, Harry was going to give Hermione, Ron, and himself marks of which would declare them Order members. He had sat up all night, looking for the perfect permanent spell, like a tattooing spell. When he finally had found it, he cast it upon his right forearm. When the spell was done, there on his arm he bore the mark of a phoenix with wings spread. Hermione and Ron both agreed to take the mark. It wasn't just a thing to mark them of those of the Order. It was a symbol of their friendship.
"Harry," Hermione said one night when they were the only two awake. She had been inside the tent that the three of them shared, trying to sleep when she noticed that Harry wasn't sleep and that he wasn't in the tent either. He was sitting outside, watching the last of the dying embers from the fire. She went to sit by him, holding a blanket closely around herself. "Harry, you should be sleeping," she said softly, looking up at her friend. Harry hadn't moved much but to lift his head up.
He sighed shaking his head. "I feel bad for cutting them off," he said a bit lightheartedly, as if that was the thing that was bothering him. To Hermione, he hadn't been acting strange at all lately, and to see him suddenly like that, all - remorseful made her wonder. She knew what it was that they were fighting for, and she knew all too well the reason why she stuck by Harry's side since the day they had become friends. All of them, Harry, Ron and herself were more than friends. They were family, family by anything but blood. A small smile graced Hermione's lips at the thought; friendship is thicker than blood. That was when Harry chuckled to himself. "Maybe we should send them an owl," he commented offhandedly, causing Hermione to roll her eyes.
"You should try not to be so courageous, Harry," she said softly, leaning back on her palms. They were so much older now. Her view of her best friend hadn't changed a bit. Of course, he was the boy who didn't know about the wizarding world anymore. He was more grown, and stronger as both a person and as a wizard. Hermione was more than proud of him. "They'll be fine, I'm sure."
"Mum, do you think they're okay out there?"
Ginny plopped herself down in a chair at the family table, resting her hands atop it. She could only gaze out the window in wonder. It had been too long since they had all gotten word from Harry, Hermione, and Ron. To say that the young witch was worrying would be an understatement. She had taken up the art of knitting to get her mind off of what the three of them could be doing. Between classes and homework Ginny had made three pairs of mittens, a sweater, and a pair of socks for Dobby. Now home for the Christmas holidays she found her self out of all materials to knit with, having already gone through them, as did her mother. She was supposed to be thinking of the wedding.
Remus and Tonks were getting married tomorrow. She had to be happy for them, there was no way that she could get around not being happy. On the inside, Ginny was happy for them, she just didn't know if her worry for Harry and the others would surface through or not. She pictured herself standing by Harry, she could hear him tell her to be strong, that it was time to grow up a bit. Ginny was grown up. She was, or so she thought. I am grown up! She would shout mentally, but she didn't know. She had to be strong though. That was the last thing she was told. That everyone needs to grow up sometimes and that she needed to be strong for the others.
"But, Harry," She whispered softly to no one as she lay her head down on her arms. "I don't want to grow up. Not now."
February - August 1999
With the murders of Andromeda and Ted Tonks in Febuary put the wizarding world went into high alert. Not many had wanted to believe that there were really Death Eaters once again, despite the events of the past year. It was never just one Death Eater. When they chose to attack they attacked in groups of two or three. There were more of them, the public noticed. Their target wasn't only that of Muggleborn and Half bloods, but Purebloods as well. They would go after any who opposed them. Blood traitors were always their first target in their cause. They believed that they would somehow be linked to Harry Potter, who was above all else, their main target.
The littler events came with the month of June. Draco Malfoy married Pansy Parkinson, much to his father approval. The new band of Malfoy's did as every generation. Pansy was meant to provide an heir, and Draco and Lucius would tend to their lords whim. The marriage between Draco and Pansy wasn't a thing as Lucius and Narcissa's had been, or seemed to have been. Not once did they agree on a thing, when surrounded by fellow Death Eaters they couldn't keep the façade of the perfect pureblood couple up.
Things continued the same for a few more months. With Harry Potter seemingly have vanished from the face of the planet the murders didn't stop. Another attack by the death Eaters left Stuart Ackerley, Emma Dobbs, Kevin Whitby and Rose Zeller, all Muggleborn students, dead. To many of the wizarding world, this was only the beginning, and to the rest, it was already the end.