Description: After Voldemort returns, a young witch mired in poverty and ignorance becomes involved with Death Eaters.
Characters: Graphic Depictions Of ViolenceLucius Malfoy/Narcissa Black MalfoyLucius Malfoy Death Eater Characters Original Characters Mr Borgin (Harry Potter) Walden Macnair Severus Snape Narcissa Black Malfoy Draco Malfoy Corban Yaxley Order of the Phoenix members AveryDeath Eaters Coming of Age Welsh Character Potions Knockturn Alley Slytherin Borgin and Burkes (Harry Potter) The Dark Arts (Harry Potter) Malfoy Manor (Harry Potter) Gritty Magical Creatures Death Eater Recruitment Wizarding Culture (Harry Potter) Werewolf Angst Slow Burn Book 5: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Canon Compliant Diagon Alley POV Lucius Malfoy POV Original Character Radicalization Platonic Female/Male Relationships Sexual Content Questioning Aromantic Asexuality Spectrum Other Additional Tags to Be Added
After Voldemort returns, a young witch mired in poverty and ignorance becomes involved with Death Eaters. Recruitment patterns¡ªfrom ¡°Handbook on Children Recruited and Exploited by Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups¡± (c) ¡°Infection¡±: when the target population is difficult to reach, an ¡°agent¡± can be inserted to pursue recruitment from within, employing direct and personal appeals. The social bonds between the recruiter and the targets may be strengthened by appealing to grievances, such as marginalization or social frustration. ¡ª Scott Gerwehr and Sara Daly, ¡°Al-Qaida: terrorist selection and recruitment¡± (Santa Monica, California, RAND Corporation, 2006), pp. 76-80.
Chapter 1: Cofio – Remembering
As I unpack my trunk in the dusty, dingy room above the shop where my uncle, two brothers and two sisters live, I feel the slight dread of not knowing where my future will lead.I¡¯m of age now and done with school, so finding work and avoiding trouble should be my first worries, but it ain¡¯t just me I have to worry about. I can¡¯t let the babanod?grow up here for much longer ¡ª it¡¯s eaten them and me for three years already.We live in Knockturn Alley, the street off of lovely Diagon Alley where all of the things your decent witches and wizards won¡¯t meddle in are sold, bought, traded, or just plain found. In my uncle¡¯s shop is sold potions ingredients, and because this is Knockturn Alley they¡¯re not normal ingredients: poisons; live creatures; contraband that he (Uncle) said if I ever told someone about he¡¯d hex me for 7 years straight. He also threatened to feed me on only cold gruel if I sold anything cheap, ¡®cause once I was all moved in those three years ago, he was leaving me at the counter to haggle and sell while he went off to the pub for drinks, or Borgin¡¯s to try and buy even more nasty supplies to bring back to his own business.I should be honest when I talk about the things we sell ¡ª they¡¯re rather compelling. It¡¯s a bit exciting to know that the fungi you¡¯re holding (with a handkerchief that¡¯s been charmed to keep the nerves in your hand from suddenly burning and losing all function) are one: that bloody dangerous, and two: can put you on the Ministry¡¯s list of ¡°Most Dark and Dangerous in Illicit Magical Trade¡±. Some of the things that the Ministry comes up with!As interesting as my uncle¡¯s business can be, me and the kids need our own place to live. It¡¯s just too… well…?dark in this alley. Ninety nine percent of the people who come through this place are just trying to get their business done, do their shopping ¡ª however ill-intentioned it may be ¡ª and go home, but that one percent that¡¯s not so good is too noticeable for any decent body to want to raise four little ones here. I¡¯ve been followed by a hag who wanted my fingernails (taken from a living witch or wizard, they¡¯re more useful); groped by warlocks both drunken and sober; sang at by more drunken warlocks (some ditty with lyrics like ¡°I once had a lass with a nice round ass¡± and it got even nastier) and I¡¯ve even seen duels that ended up in the Prophet! One time, a curse missed its intended target and hit an old wizard who was just trying to get home with the flesh-eating slug repellent he¡¯d bought! The poor old grandpa! I hope he lived.I go into the smaller room across the hall where the boys sleep and of course Llon¡¯s trunk is sitting wide open on the bed he and Afon, who¡¯s only three, share. I see his rumpled up belongings and I know he scrambled to find his wand as soon as he got up here; I hid it in his trunk as soon we boarded the train to come back for his first summer holiday (and the rest of my life) so he wouldn¡¯t try any last minute jinxes. Sometimes I¡¯m amazed at how easily he obeys me, then again his most vivid experience with a female relative other than me is of Mam throwing him outside at night ¡ª?all night ¡ª so she could drink and have a shag with that big warlock she came home with. He was nine, I was fifteen and we were all lucky that it was spring holiday so¡¯s I was home.I don¡¯t know how they found out, but when the Ministry officials who deal with family problems came a¡¯visiting two days later, I was able to convince them to let the kids remain at Mam¡¯s house so long as I was allowed to be there, courtesy of the school and a satisfied Ministry witch. I had to write and beg Snape, McGonagall and Dumbledore himself to let me skip a few weeks. I remember feeling quite touched when the first two came to visit, a Ministry witch in tow. I don¡¯t think Dumbledore even considers his students well-being outside of Hogwarts.Professor Snape was my head of house ¡ª good ol¡¯ Slytherins looking out for each other ¡ª and I distinctly recall the feeling I had when I greeted him and McGonagall at the door that he¡¯d been waiting for something like this to occur. You get that feeling when he looks at you sometimes ¡ª that he knows things about you.?I had expected McGonagall to be much less kinder than she actually was ¡ª more grave and pitying. She was certainly that way with Mam; ¡°Eira, what have you gotten yourself and your family into?!¡±Snape mostly sat all stiff in the chair I¡¯d offered, his spidery black eyes glancing everywhere they could, taking in my raggedy siblings, Mam¡¯s wan expression and the Welsh words doodled haphazardly on our cottage¡¯s stone walls. Words like cariad, ¡®love¡¯ which had a bright pink heart drawn beside it, and calon which had an arrow pointing from it to the rosy heart.Witch, Welsh and Slytherin. That¡¯s me. Even my name is Welsh, though my dad is English (obviously, my surname is Burke after all). Branda ¡ª?bran dda?¡ª raven good; Good Raven. I have a middle name that isn¡¯t Welsh at all, though ¡ª Patreva. Something Latin like what so many of our kind in Britain have ¡ª names like Draco, Severus or my tad¡¯s name, ¡°Nicander¡± which may actually be Greek. It¡¯s fancy and magical sounding. I¡¯m the only one of my parent¡¯s brood with any name like that ¡ª something about a Naming Seer who suggested it for me, but they never went back for their other four kids¡¯s names. The younger ones have a Welsh name and that¡¯s it. I like Welsh names quite a lot, though. Some of the names wizarding parents give their children are too ¡ª well ¡ª ¡®ostentatious¡¯ is a good word.Anyway, McGonagall, Snape and the quiet little Ministry witch with the clipboard came to a decision; I could stay at home with Mam and the kids while the school year continued as long as one: Mam wasn¡¯t bringing her ¡°gentlemen friends¡± home anymore, and two: I would take remedial lessons in all core classes the following school year.¡°Of course, you will receive some lessons by post this spring and over the summer, miss Burke.¡± McGonagall can be so caring, sometimes.¡°Your head of house has stated that you are among the more reliable students at Hogwarts, miss Burke.¡±The little Ministry witch hadn¡¯t spoken at all to me, only to Mam and to my professors, but now she was gazing at me with what I believe was meant to be a placating, if somewhat sharp, look.¡°He says you are quite skilled in his potions class as well as in mentoring the younger students.¡±The look on Professor Snape¡¯s face suggested this was meant to be unspoken. I¡¯ve never had problems with Snape; he¡¯s certainly a terror to many (okay, most) students, but he¡¯s only ever had clipped praises or short orders for me to teach the first years how to behave without their parents around to guide them and comfort them and all that. A lot of the prefects were shite at that kind of thing.Life at Mam¡¯s with the kids was alright for awhile ¡ª could¡¯ve probably gone quite tolerably if she hadn¡¯t gone off to the Leakey Cauldron and met some bloke who took her to his flat in wherever-the-hell-it-was. Whatever they did in those six days she was gone, it was bad enough that he went to Azkaban, but not interesting enough for the Daily Prophet to report on. Mam got off, but us kids had to go live with the only relative who was willing to take us ¡ª Tad¡¯s second-or-something cousin whom he¡¯d done business with before Mam had to kick him out: Mr. Donius Burke, purveyor of dark and illicit potions ingredients since 1974.Fuck.***¡°Oi, girl! Come down here now! I need you for something!¡±Calm down old man, I haven¡¯t finished folding my jumpers yet. I shouldn¡¯t be surprised that he¡¯s already got a task for me, even though I¡¯ve only been off the train for two hours. Sunset¡¯s nearly come, and I don¡¯t want to be outside in Knockturn Alley after dark, which ought to spur me faster down the stairs to see what he wants. Making him wait can feel too good though ¡ª not that he¡¯s unwilling to stomp his way up here which, as I put my last woolen top away, I can hear him doing. Thump, creak, thump, creak; the ancient wooden steps groaning loudly as always. Has he still not fallen through them?¡°Are you going deaf?!¡±I turn my head to look at him there, his reedy frame silhouetted from the dim light of the hallway. He hasn¡¯t changed in the ten months since I¡¯ve last seen him, and he hasn¡¯t since we arrived here three years ago; grey hair slicked back, his aging face freakishly smooth without a hint of stubble (does he shave, or did he magic the hairs off?).Before I can say anything he¡¯s stepped into the room to stand over me.¡°Get down there, now!¡±He points his finger so forcefully that it¡¯s curving up towards the ceiling, and I have to keep myself from glancing up to see if it¡¯ll confuse him. He follows me out of the bedroom and down to the back of the shop, where Llon and the other two kids are on the floor playing with Mouser, the cranky black cat we keep to eat any mice or cockroaches in the building.Gwenyn is nine and has long blonde hair like Mam, round hazel eyes, and a pink, ?mischievous face. Next to her is five year-old Ffionwyn, who¡¯s brown hair will turn nearly black like Tad¡¯s and mine someday. For now, her head¡¯s as shiny as a chestnut, with a pale face and a shifty quietness about her ¡ª probably because she¡¯s been growing up in this dark hole of a place.¡°Here¡±. A small roll of parchment is pressed into my hand.¡°Take this to Aunt Onyxia, she¡¯s been expecting it all day.¡±He nods his head towards the children – ¡°You can bring back the other one, as well.¡±Of course, he¡¯s talking about Afon, the youngest of the family. Three, dark haired and quiet like Ffionwyn, he had to come here when he was just four months old! Unwilling to keep a baby where his customers could hear him crying, Uncle struck a deal with the ministry officials who¡¯d arranged for his guardianship ¡ª he would have to remain the legal guardian of Afon, but would be allowed to shunt him off to another adult so long as they were nearby and had no criminal record ¡ª a relative preferred. Enter Aunt Onyxia, Uncle Donius¡¯s first cousin.Onyxia Burke runs a ¡°gift¡± shop right at the end of Knockturn Alley where she sells candles, cheap jewelry and clothing items, all of which are enchanted for various purposes; making someone fall in love with you; manipulating another¡¯s dreams; even changing their moods or emotions. I hope she¡¯s been keeping Afon away from her shit.As I step through the door of my uncle¡¯s shop into the balmy night air, I glance up at the old wooden sign hanging above the door: ¡°Apothecary¡± it reads, surrounded by engraved bats, spiders and toads. I force a heavy breath through my nose as memories come creeping up again, for we used to sell those things ¡ª well, Mam ¡®n Tad did ¡ª before everything went to Hell.Mam ¡®n Tad were gatherers and procurers of potions ingredients. Magical plants and animals, of course, some of which you must have a special permit to collect, but also things that are not so magical ¡ª bats, rats and adders; green things that grow in your back garden like nettles and dandelions; even farm animals like chickens and goats, the latter of which produce bezoars ¡ª hard stones that form in their gut and which counteract poisons.Things that could not be grown or raised near our home (a dragon in the barn might¡¯ve been a bit troublesome) we would search for. This was the best part of my family¡¯s livelihood. Tad would research where things could be found, and we would gather our equipment and head off to some chosen spot ready to work.He taught me to do many things without magic, which I never knew was unusual for our kind until I went to Hogwarts. Nobody else knew how to butcher a chicken or start a fire without a wand (except maybe a few muggleborns, but even most of them didn¡¯t know how, either)! My classmates didn¡¯t seem to know what to make of me until the incident with Hagrid¡¯s giant chicken.One of Hagrid¡¯s roosters had grown to a rather impressive size, comparable to that of a Shetland pony (he had to have charmed it somehow). Well, one day it managed to escape the coop and terrorize the courtyard where all of us first years were learning broom maintenance. Madam Hooch was knocked over before she even saw it, and a boy called Derrick attempted to scare it by kicking it away, his robed arms flapping all around him whilst yelling at it to go away. Unfortunately, Drumsticks now thought Derrick was trying to start a real cock-fight ¡ª chest to chest, wings flapping and spurs kicking!Before it finished its little war-dance with his head bobbing low, neck-feathers puffed out and trembling, I¡¯d managed to grab one of the brooms off the work table; as soon as Drumsticks began to step towards Derrick, I ran towards that overgrown alarm-clock and jabbed it as hard as I could with that broomstick!I won¡¯t say it was a smart idea, but the frustration I¡¯d felt over those first weeks at school ¡ª people giggling behind their hands when I spoke in my Welsh accent; discovering that students in other houses whom I¡¯d wanted to befriend would scoff at the idea of hanging around with a Slytherin ¡ª seemed to take hold of me. It felt good when the broom¡¯s handle hit Drumsticks¡¯ chest, shocking him backwards and confusing him so. It¡¯s likely a good thing that Hooch had finally recovered herself enough to properly stun that scaly-footed bastard before I¡¯d lost my mind completely ¡ª that broomstick was starting to feel like a skewer.Dinner that evening consisted of a hearty chicken soup, platters of little chicken pies, mashed potatoes, boiled peas and fresh, steamy bread rolls on the side.Oh, and most everyone in my year stopped calling me ¡°Spleens¡±.Tad had been bi¡ª Tad had been given the boot by Mam by the time I¡¯d started school, and in the summers I¡¯d been the one to continue most of the hunting work while Mam settled herself with tending the garden and foraging for plants. Mam knew the work alright, but she¡¯d mainly been the one to keep records of what was brought home; researching the markets and packaging items properly. Didn¡¯t take long for Tad¡¯s absence to start its work on her though, did it? A little kid can only hunt so many kinds of creatures, and of course I couldn¡¯t have a permit to collect things like doxy venom or dragon eggshells, nor could I travel more than a few miles from home.Soon the goats were sold to another ingredi-wizard, then any magical plants in our garden that required consistent tending died. I didn¡¯t understand how that could¡¯ve happened, not at the time anyway. Mam was good at hiding her drinking back then. Since we were no longer able to provide the great amount of products as before, businesses started abandoning us for more reliable sources.Sometimes ¡ª just every once in awhile ¡ª Tad would show up for a visit.¡°Only a few days¡± I imagine Mam whispering harshly, fearfully, her eyes darting ¡®round as though expecting whatever forces demanded they keep apart to come bursting out of her cottage¡¯s walls.He always went out to try and gather more for us to sell, did Tad. He didn¡¯t take me anywhere with him that was outside of the county, though. The last time I went with him was at the beginning of summer after my third year at Hogwarts. He looked so much older than I¡¯d remembered, or perhaps I hadn¡¯t paid enough attention during his previous visits? Grey streaks were beginning to shoot through his thick black hair, which hadn¡¯t been cut in years. He walked slower than I was used to, moving like his body had turned all sore and stiff; his head constantly swiveled around as we worked, as though the very land that surrounded us could not be trusted.¡°Don¡¯t let your sisters and your brother stay inside all day. Teach them how to look after themselves, better than your mam or I have done for ourselves¡±.Until he said that, it hadn¡¯t really occurred to me just how reckless my parents were compared to those of my classmates. Before Tad had been forced to leave, he and Mam had thought little of hauling me, toddling Llon and squalling Gwenyn to all kinds of strange and exciting places ¡ª places I now know where most parents wouldn¡¯t allow their children to set foot. When they needed to collect dragon eggshells from high up in the mountains, us kids sometimes went along.I learned where to find snakes before I was seven; how to untangle wire snares without slicing my wrist open when I was eight. I nearly drowned in a lake searching for plimpys ¡ª round little creatures with long legs you can tie together; Tad said that¡¯s how Merpeople deal with them because they consider them pests.My parents also enjoyed firewhiskey. Many times after we¡¯d spent a long day trekking through bracken for mokes and doxy eggs, or slogging around in muddy ditches for flobberworms, Mam ¡®n Tad would build up a fire. We would toast sausages, slices of bread and even apples for supper, while two of them added the throat-burning drink to their meal. I can¡¯t recall the bottle ever not being empty the next morning.The drinking didn¡¯t interfere with much until after Tad was gone.It¡¯s a wonder all of us kids have lived to see three.I worry Afon won¡¯t recognize me, after I¡¯ve stayed all year at Hogwarts instead of returning to the Alley during holidays. I know I have a responsibility to my siblings, but the Triwizard tournament and its accompanying delights were hard to resist. Uncle was furious when I refused to return to work at Christmas, while Onyxia wrote that I should try and catch a wealthy boy from Beauxbatons, though a Durmstranger would do.By the time I make it to Onyxia¡¯s front door the few glass street lamps holding charmed candles have sprung to life, casting faint and eerie shadows. I¡¯ve only just touched the brass kneazle-head knocker when the door is wrenched open from behind.¡°It¡¯s about time ¡ª oh, Patreva! I hadn¡¯t realized you¡¯d returned already!¡±I curl my lips into the sparest of smiles ¡ª it¡¯s often a struggle to remain polite with this woman. Patreva is my middle name, not my real name. I don¡¯t even know what it means, and Mam ¡®n Tad always avoided using it.¡°Noswaith dda, Modryb. Sut ydych chi?¡±The pleasure I feel when I speak Welsh at Onyxia is the same as ever: sweet but all too bloody short.¡°Patreva Burke! You know far better than to speak that way, to me!¡±As if she understood a word I¡¯ve just said?She¡¯s convinced that any language other than French or Latin is used to disparage her.¡°Llon and I came back a few hours ago, Auntie. Uncle Donius sent me to give you this¡± ¡ª I hand her the roll of parchment ¡ª ¡°and to take Afon back with me¡±.Onyxia stares at the parchment in her hand, eyes narrowing in obvious displeasure.¡°Did he send me no money, girl?¡±Uh-oh¡°I haven¡¯t stolen it, if that¡¯s what you¡¯re thinking!¡±Her eyes have gotten even narrower, if that¡¯s possible.¡°No, no girl. I suppose… I should¡¯ve expected as much… this time.¡±She isn¡¯t looking at me as she says this, rather she¡¯s gazing nowhere in particular at the space behind me, as if suddenly lost in thought…¡°Well, wait here a moment, then. Here¡¯s the boy¡¯s belongings.¡± Before shuffling down her entryway she reaches down and hands me a midsized bag filled with clothes, children¡¯s medicines, and very few toys. No tea to be had in her house, apparently. Rude sow.¡°Here you are, girl.¡± Onyxia appears at the door with my youngest brother in tow, his eyes widening at the sight of me and his fist going to his mouth in an image of absolute preciousness.¡°Oooh fy mach i! Fy mrawd cy-¡°¡°Speak English to him!¡± shrieks the old hag I am forced to respect. ¡°I had to teach him prop¡ª¡°But I¡¯m not staying for her xenophobic rant tonight, and neither is fy mrawd bach ¡ª my little brother. He¡¯s had enough, and I¡¯ve had enough.¡°Goodnight Auntie! Thank you for taking care of him, we need to go back!¡±And with that, Afon and I are trotting up the alleyway and into the warm summer night.Well, I¡¯m trotting; Afon¡¯s on my back.