Title: Thus We Spiral Downwards
Recipient: The Community
Genre: Drama, angst
Characters: Antonin Dolohov, Evan Rosier, Severus Snape, Regulus Black, Ashley Mulciber, Angelus Wilkes, Jack Avery, OCs, other DEs
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 bounds 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 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 o 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 he 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 laughed 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 want enough. In this case, it’s your want, 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. Bonfant, 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 your figure starts from the shoulder is is forced from the waist or aboe 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 is 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 so 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 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 sour 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 unforgivable 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 alder 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 willing and Evan of too friendly a disposition to truly, with all hi 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 want 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, Anatonin 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.
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 chaose 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 that depicts 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 fron 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 test.
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 Potego 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 began to kill off his cells and tissues. His organs will rot. He will die slowly, painfully—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 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 hallow 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 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.”