A/N: This fic is another experiment of mine, just trying hands at different genres. Writing this one-shot was difficult yet it was immensely satisfying as well.
Thanks to my amazing Beta Majerus for the editing and my sisters for their words of encouragement.
Reviews are appreciated! :)
Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter belongs to JKR and WB.
"The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our separate ways, and I to die, you to live. Which one of these two is easier only god knows?"-Socrates.
Cadaverous: Voldemort/Clyde Clobstopper
It was in the wee of hours of the morning when they came. They kept banging on his door until Clyde was forced to leave his warm bed and stomp down stairs in the cold flat, the fire having gone out hours ago. Groggy from sleep, Clyde didn't give much thought to who might come at this hour. He never considered that his friends wouldn't be so rude as to wake him like this.
If he would have given a bit more thought, perhaps been more careful during this time of outright war, he wouldn't have regretted his decision a minute later. Instead, he yanked his door open and prepared to berate whoever was on his step.
Instead of a friend too drunk to apparate home, he found a pair of tall, dark cloaked men, one larger than the other. Their hoods were back revealing angry looking faces.
Before Clyde could even utter a word, the stockier built blonde haired bloke shouted "Expelliarmus". Clyde's wand was out of his night-shirt pocket before he even thought about reaching for it. The taller, dark haired bloke came forward to grab him and roughly push him into the dimly lit room.
Clyde yelled, "Wait! What are you doing? Who are you?"
The man grabbing him answered, "Save your breath you half-twit! We ain't got time for your questions."
Clyde cursed himself, annoyed at his own stupidity. Who would come at this hour of night if not Death Eaters or ministry thugs! Nevertheless, he urgently tried to assure them, wrongly assuming that the two men were from the ministry, since his blood status hadn't been cleared by 'the Toad' yet.
"I fear you've made a mistake. I'm not a muggle-born, I'm a half blood. I'm Clyde Clobstopper, m-my father is Scott Clobstopper. We've had a cauldrons business in Diagon Alley for a hundred years! You can check in the Administrative Registration Department at the ministry."
"We ain't from the ministry," the taller bloke gave a throaty laugh. A chill went down Clyde's spine as he realized his worst fear has come true.
He stammered, "B-But why? I don't support Harry Potter or the Order. I-I never supported them in any way-"
"The dark lord has his own reasons. Perhaps he has found the perfect way to end your pathetic little life."
"Do you not understand what I've just said? We're neither interested in your questions nor your family tree."
"He is annoying me," the blonde said in a bored tone.
Clyde was trying to come up with another way to convince the men that they had the wrong man when he realized his mouth was moving yet no sounds were coming out. Terrified, he figured out that the blonde bloke had used a silencing charm on him.
The massive man handed Clyde his own best cloak – the one with the warming charms for the harsh English winters – and motioned for him to put it on. Clyde dressed without thinking, numb with confusion and fright.
"We should get a move on Dolohov, the dark lord doesn't like to be kept waiting," the blonde man pointed.
The massive man named Dolohov was using Clyde's own lantern to peer about the sparsely furnished room that the family had used as a reception area in better times. Now it simply held a coat rack and an assortment of walking sticks and umbrellas in a box. He turned back to the bigger man, a grimace plain on his face. "What could He see in this... nobody, Rowle?"
Clyde's mind was reeling; he thought he was done for, though he couldn't really comprehend what he had done wrong. Moreover, the fact that Voldemort himself sent his Death Eaters for him made no sense at all.
His frantic thoughts were interrupted as Dolohov grabbed him roughly again. Even in this tight situation Clyde could swear on his life that the big man hadn't had a decent shower in ages. Not that it mattered, but he was already feeling queasy and the smell from his captor wasn't making this situation any easier.
He started to glance around his flat, perhaps for the very last time. Before he could even take in the room, Dolohov gave him a tug and darkness enveloped him for few seconds.
Clyde always hated apparition, this time it was no different. After he took few seconds to adjust his eyes to the darkness, he saw they were standing in front of a magnificent wrought iron gate of a manor which can belong to only one Wizarding family in Britain: The Malfoy's.
The gate opened with a slight screech at Dolohov's touch. Rowle appeared beside them within few seconds.
"You did good, Dolohov. The dark lord will be pleased," Rowle remarked sarcastically as they were about walk through the gate.
Dolohov growled at this, "You think I'll question orders? As if you know why he sent us to grab this half-twit. The dark lord does nothing without a reason."
Rowle glared at Clyde who was obviously listening to their conversation. The blonde Death Eater snapped, "Why are standing there like a troll? Move forward!"
As the trio walked forward Clyde tried to stay close enough to eavesdrop on the conversation that the two infamous Death Eaters were having. Dolohov was muttering, "He fears something. And I reckon we should too."
Rowle cleared his throat and said, "I still trust dark lord's judgment, yet his decision to…" He fell quiet for a moment, "Anyway, we shouldn't be talking about this now."
Both of the Death Eaters' voices had such an ominous tone that Clyde couldn't help himself from shivering even with his charmed cloak wrapped tightly around him. He had been getting news that Harry Potter and The Order were fighting bravely. Someone even said you-know-who was on the verge of defeat.
But Clyde always thought otherwise, he knew Voldemort was powerful enough to return from death. This fight would continue until the dark lord had the last bit of power to himself.
Yet, from what Dolohov said, did he mean Voldemort feared for his own defeat? Clyde couldn't continue his thoughts as they entered the manor through a heavy wooden door. Swallowing hard, he realized he was sweating profusely.
Someone shoved him from behind, pushing Clyde to take a right turn and up the steps to the second floor. The group moved down a short hall to another intricate wooden door which Dolohov came forward to push open after knocking once.
Clyde knew this was it. He closed his eyes tightly and prayed that it wasn't Him... Please Merlin, let it be not Him.
"My lord," Dolohov announced, "We've brought him."
Clyde opened his eyes and knew his worst fear had come true. There he was, sitting at the end of a long mahogany table, alone, wearing a thick, black, hooded cloak. What Clyde could see of his body was pale, almost skeleton like, with dark scarlet eyes.
Clyde quickly avoided looking into those eyes, he knew the dark lord was supposed to have the ability to read his mind if he looked at him. Instead the scared man looked down at his slippered feet, trembling from head to toe. Even though he didn't look, Clyde could feel Voldemort's eyes upon him.
"M-my lord, pardon me but do we really need him? We have faith in your power my lord. I say we shouldn't bother with this sort of... contingency." A raspy voice quipped.
Clyde looked up, alarmed at the unfamiliar voice. Of course it was none other than Lucius Malfoy. However it seemed that Azkaban hadn't been suitable for the famously rich man's health. The head of the Malfoy family looked battered and old.
"We have had this discussion already Lucius. All of you, leave us," Voldemort ordered.
Clyde wanted to scream, and he mentally pleaded not to be left here alone. But as everyone started to leave without a glance at him, he slowly started to remember all the rumors: how no one gets out alive once they are taken to Malfoy Manor.
'And the snake...' Suddenly the trembling man jolted uptight, 'that beast! Voldemort's snake! Where is it?' He looked around frantically at his surroundings, but it wasn't there.
Clyde would rather take a killing curse than be a dinner for a snake. He heard the sound of the door closing behind him and the silence in the room seemed to stretch for an eternity.
"What is your name?" You-know-who asked finally.
Clyde realized that you-know-who's voice was smooth and silky, yet the terror he felt was threatening to overwhelm him.
"C-Clyde Clobstopper, I-I'm a half-blood," Rowle lifted his silencing charm before leaving the room, Clyde realized as he mumbled his answer to Voldemort.
"What do you do for living Clyde?"
"I-I have a business selling cauldrons in Diagon Alley, i- it's our family business." Clyde continued to stammer.
"Clyde, do you know that I'm a skilled legilimens?"
Clyde nodded his head, too terrified to speak.
"I can always tell if anyone is lying to me. I'm giving you another chance to answer my question."
Clyde's head jerked up while his eyes almost bulged in surprise. Could you-know-who possibly know about his 'real' profession? He knew there was no need to beat around the bush because somehow Clyde could tell you-know-who already knew the answer.
"I-I sometimes work as a mourner," Clyde answered timidly.
Clyde took a deep breath to steady his tremulous nerves, "Five years ago, a friend of mind died because of dragon pox. I arranged his funeral but nobody came. Not even his family. My friend was a tad bit wonky but it pained me to see no one attend his funeral.
The cauldron business hasn't been going well for the past few years. I-I desperately needed galleons to refurbish my family business."
Clyde paused to catch his breath and assemble his incoherent story; Voldemort was now standing near the fireplace, staring into the flames as if deep in thought.
Taking this as a sign of approval, he continued, "I-I asked around, it turns out many wizards, witches and squibs in Britain live alone as they grow old and they are willing to pay to have funeral services for them. We weep and share our condolences at the grave, pretending to be family and friends of the deceased."
Clyde wondered why on earth Lord Voldemort was interested in his profession. Sure his profession wasn't exactly traditional and he had to look for his prospective customers in Knockturn Alley quite often; but still it didn't make any sense to the kidnapped man.
'Does You-know-who want to punish him for his illegal work?' As Clyde thought this, Voldemort turned around to look at the far end of the mahogany table where he was standing. The dark lord's stare was unnerving, yet he didn't say anything.
"I have a group with twenty five members, three are metamorphmagi, they come in rather handy when we have to change appearances to match a family member." Clyde hastily continued.
"Why do you think they do this facade? Those who ask for a 'mourner'?" Voldemort asked with a soul piercing gaze.
The dark lord was asking for his opinion? Clyde's mind reeled yet he somehow managed to answer, "I s-suppose, at the end of their days, when they reflect on their lives they realize, how lonely and pathetic their lives are; that's why I reckon the thought of holding a false funeral service give them peace, albeit temporarily."
"How much do you earn?"
"A thousand galleons per funeral."
"I'm going to give you five thousand, and when, if I die in the war, you will weep for me."
Clyde was caught off guard; his mouth was hanging open, he stood immobilized, as if someone had hit him with a body binding curse.
"I-I beg your pardon, I don't understand-"
"You heard me right. I want you... and only you, to weep for me in front of my grave if I die," Voldemort affirmed.
"I have my reasons, would you question me?" The lack of menace in Voldemort's voice caught Clyde off guard again.
The confused man really tried to look at Voldemort this time. The fearsome dark lord… could he feel remorse? He didn't look as menacing as Clyde thought he would be or was it just an illusion?
Voldemort waved his wand with his long, thin hands and for a fleeting moment, Clyde saw his skin through his cloak but why it was so oddly waxed and wrinkled? It appeared to Clyde as if his body was distorting. Clyde hastily looked away, sickened of the image he just saw.
"I have certain terms to this agreement," Voldemort continued.
Clyde understood he didn't have any say at this, so he waited for further explanation.
"No one can know about our agreement, not even your partners. You will make a vow upon your magic. Now."
Clyde stared blankly while Voldemort asked, "Do you any questions?"
"You can have your followers weep for you, w-why me?" Clyde somehow managed to ask.
"I've learned that allegiance rarely shifts if you buy it with Galleons as well as bind it with magic," Voldemort replied with a cruel smile on his lips.
"What w-would happen if…if-", Clyde was unable to finish his words as Voldemort cut him in the middle. "What would happen if I don't die?" Clyde nodded.
"You would have to return the galleons." Voldemort said simply.
"How w-would I find your burial place?"
"That is not my concern, you will take the job and it would be your responsibility to find out."
Clyde nodded in defeat as he could see there was no way out of this trap. As soon as he accepted the idea in his mind his wand appeared in his hand. He was too shocked to react at first, but then the dark lord's instruction echoed in his mind.
With his voice filled with defeat, Clyde responded, "Very well, I will be your mourner should you die."
Holding his trusty old wand aloft, Clyde spoke in as steady a voice as he could muster: "I swear upon my life and my magic to follow the agreement I have made with Lord Voldemort."
A gentle silvery light flowed from Clyde's wand, down his arm and faded as it reached his chest.
After Clyde finished his vow, another few seconds of traumatic silence passed when Voldemort finally said, "You can go now; Dolohov is waiting outside with your payment." The dark lord's tone was surprisingly soft.
Clyde slowly turned his back to Lord Voldemort yet he could still feel his penetrating gaze at his back. He dragged his tired feet to open the cavernous wooden door, still wondering if he might be killed at any moment. It wasn't until he was home that he could take a normal breath; it felt like he'd been holding one in for the past one hour.
The next month was full of agonized waiting for Clyde. He was so paranoid that he stopped going outside of his flat. He didn't even dare to touch the galleons that Voldemort had given him. It only occurred to him later that he had made a terrible mistake by accepting the galleons, suspecting the money might very well be cursed.
His partners came to visit him few times, asking him why he was acting so oddly. He brushed off their inquiries with a mere nod or continuous silence.
One of his partner and best mate from Hogwarts, Beric Wright, took him aside and said, "Mate, what's going on? You can tell me, I promise, I won't tell anyone."
Clyde wanted to blurt it all out to his childhood friend yet he couldn't utter a single word. He could feel his very magic tingling warnings every time he thought of breaking the Vow. Beric glared as his long-time friend stood mutely, refusing to even make a lame excuse like he had since they were kids.
When Clyde would not even meet his eyes, Beric had finally had enough; he slammed the door on his way out and did not return for a tenday.
In the mean time, Clyde had been getting news on the radio about the war. So many wizards and witches were dying or disappearing… Some of their customers died as well. Beric came to take him to the funerals, but Clyde declined and asked Beric to take over the business for few days. Beric looked at him strangely but thankfully he didn't ask any question this time.
Then on the eve of second day of May, Beric came down to his flat with a frantic look on his face. "They are taking a stand! If we can hurry we would still be able to go through Hogsmeade!"
Flabbergasted, Clyde asked, "Where? Who's fighting?"
"Hogwarts! Everyone is going; the Order and Harry Potter are fighting against you-know-who!" Beric replied impatiently.
Clyde's face darkened, he said slowly, "Is it prudent to join now? This is a war we're talking about."
"What are you saying? Are we going to sit and watch until it's all over? Are we that craven? Now is the time to take a stand!" Beric snapped.
"Beric, don't rush into things mate-"
"I don't know what has gotten into you mate, you're talking madness!"
"Just hear me out!"
"If I didn't know better, I would question which side you're really on mate." With that, Beric left his flat, slamming the door behind him.
The next few hours Clyde was restless, he kept pacing from one side of the apartment to another. The radio was dissonantly silent as well. What was going on at Hogwarts? The night went by and it was early morning when suddenly the radio buzzed and voice rang through the small room:
"This is Kingsley Shackabolt, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Ministry of Magic. I'm here today to announce that the second wizarding war has ended. Voldemort is dead. As I am speaking, all of his followers are being rounded up for trial. As much as we would like to celebrate our freedom, it came with a heavy price. To commemorate the sacrifice of many wizard and witches across Britain, I'm announcing a week of mourning. Furthermore, to make sure their sacrifice doesn't go in vain, I want everyone of the Wizarding community to help ministry of magic to restore peace…"
Clyde didn't hear much after he had heard, 'Voldemort is dead.' A sense of dread and foreboding slowly started to envelop him.
It took Clyde two days to figure out where the ministry blokes buried Voldemort's corpse. The moment Clyde apparated to the cemetery of Little Hangleton, a chill went down his spine even though the sun shone brightly above. The cemetery was eerily hushed and ghastly. But thank Merlin for the sunlight, the place didn't look half as terrifying as Clyde thought it would at night.
Clyde went past a few graves, some of which were marked with worn stone obelisks and angels. Shaking with fear, he walked quickly to locate the grave he was looking for. The gravestone was simple, made with gray granite. He never expected the gravestone to have more than a name and dates, yet it said,
"Don't pity the dead, pity the living, and above all those who live without love."
Tom Marvolo Riddle (December 31, 1926- May 2, 1988)
Clyde stood there silently for a minute, all of his fear gone, substituted by a strange sort of sadness. He took out the pouch of galleons from his cloak and put it beside the gravestone. He crouched down and whispered, "I-I am sorry, I can't take this." Clyde sighed heavily. He swished his wand for some black roses. As he placed the flowers carefully on the grave, he whispered, "May your soul rest in peace."
Before coming here, Clyde contemplated whether he should use the Tears Potion or not. But he thought he gave his promise to fulfill one man's last wish, he should do it with utmost care no matter who it was. Clyde was about to put the Tears potion in his eyes when he realized his eyes were already moist.
Clyde stood up slowly, surprised at his own pent up emotions.
Was he feeling pity, or remorse for Voldemort? Whatever it was, this was the first time Clyde Clobstopper felt true emotion in front of a grave.