|Title:||Slytherin Solidarity: Canto I – The Death Eater’s Son|
|Posted On:||2004-12-13 00:00:00|
Slytherin SolidaritySlytherin Solidarity
Summary: The journal of Blaise Zabini falls open, revealing the story of the last Slytherins before the great battle begins. A house broken and torn from the inside, and the greatest of loves – lost to the ages.
Disclaimer: A non-profit adoration of J.K. Rowling’s characters. No money is being made by this endeavour and characters, places and curses remain the property of J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury Books, Warner Brothers and all those other profiteering bigwigs.
Canto I - The Death Eater's Son
September 9, 1997.
Ornery. There is no better way to describe a Slytherin other than “ornery”. In the grand scheme of things the house has broken down roughly into three categories over the course of the last four years due to the influence of many people’s parentage and the jingling of galleons in front of their offspring’s faces. Slytherin could now be loosely defined internally, by the supporters who went willingly, the supporters who were forced into it, and those who remained ambivalent to the whole charade, which generally suggested that they were non-participatory – choosing to save their own skins before all else, though they were very few in number.
Of those who were coerced, Terrence Higgs, we’d learned, would blanch three shades whiter if one were to mention the words “inheritance” and “Dark Lord”, in the same sentence. Millicent and Daphne would take turns coming up with associated descriptors that would cause the brunette to falter, on one occasion they’d pushed him so far in one day by repeating certain key phrases like “delayed trust fund” and “Ministry inheritance taxation policy”, causing Higgs to develop a twitch above his left eye.
It’s been approximately two weeks since I’ve returned to classes; to say it’s been rather quiet is an understatement. Even Ted’s relegated himself to the confines of the dormitory. We’ve barely exchanged two words to each other since August. I’ve chosen to follow up on the curriculum from last term, more Arithmancy, Charms, Potions, Ancient Runes, Advanced Transfiguration and Defence Against the Dark Arts – load of bollocks if you ask me. Since Lupin and Moody, we haven’t had much success with the class, although the Professor this term seems to have some sense at least. What will happen in the upcoming weeks, I am uncertain – the war is brewing – I’ve heard it in the whispers of my housemates, many of whom have grown unnaturally hushed. Perhaps the reality that many of us will have to fight and few will survive has finally become apparent, Draco thinks so. He won’t say anymore than that however, he’s not the self-sacrificing type. In fact, I don’t think any of us are.
Blaise set down his quill and rubbed at his temples thoughtfully. Across the common room, Goyle and Crabbe were frowning over two rather long lengths of parchment and Draco was seated on one of the leather divans facing the fire, not really focusing on anything, merely staring blankly into the crackling hearth. Though his expression was unreadable, Blaise knew if he’d turned Drake around and looked hard into the boy’s slate grey eyes, he would see the gears turning with a ferociousness that went unrivalled in their year, save perhaps, for the Italian Wizard himself.
The atmosphere in Slytherin House had changed drastically since the student’s return to Hogwarts. There were no more games of exploding snap, no light tinkling of breaking chess pieces, rather, the House had drawn inwards, and chosen to ensconce itself in pensive silence, rather than become outwardly explosive like the Gryffindors, or bawl loudly and haplessly like the Hufflepuffs. Even the Ravenclaws were acting snappish and ill-tempered. His housemates weren’t languishing, exactly – there was simply no time for it. The silence that was wrought from the impending battle was dappled with the thoughts of calculation; many of them were laying the foundations of their survival, Blaise knew. No longer children who could carry on under the protective wing of their family legacies, they had come to it at last. Strictly speaking, the Slytherins were learning exactly what it meant to fend for themselves.
His head hurt, a wrathful, sharp little pain jabbing like needles beyond his eye sockets. The headache had been persistent over the last week and a half, from the moment Blaise realized a large carrion bird had perched itself over the Slytherins. In its shadow, the dark haired boy had sat back, stunned, and watched as the seeds of dissent had been sown amidst his housemates.
It had begun with Theodore Nott.
Ted, fondly referred to as Teddy or Timmy by the ladies of the House – but never ever by his full name, was one of Blaise’s oldest friends. He was the first person that the young Zabini heir had been acquainted with upon arriving in England when he was still a plump, round-faced bambino of five – just barely off the boat from Florence, where his family hailed. Ted was, at age five and three quarters, the diabolical spawn of the lesser of seven demons straight out of Hades. A wicked sense of humour and several well-placed dungbombs after their first encounter, Zabini and Nott had become fast friends. The youngest of three children, Ted was the sandy-haired, wan faced brother that Blaise never had, and frequently, their parents had to pry them apart from their daily excursions around their respective manor houses. On several occasions the boys had “pretended” to get lost in the Nott hedge maze so they wouldn’t be forced to separate and return to their respective dwellings, which were a shy hundred and fifty acres away from each other. At age nine, the pair had enacted an impromptu blood ritual of sorts, where although no magic was actually invoked, they managed to slice open their palms on a sharp shard of shale and create a bond of sorts between them. Oddly enough, their “blood brother” rite had actually established something of a link between the two, regardless of the fact that they were both too young and too stupid to realize the fortitude of the magic involved. For years after, Blaise could have sworn he knew exactly what was going through his friend’s head whenever he was feeling some particularly strong emotion. Ted would swear he would see Zabini’s comforting face in his dreams whenever he’d have nightmares, which, incidentally, had become more frequent over the last seven years. Nott Senior was one of the Dark Lord’s minions, after all. Given the fact that the boy he’d chosen as his rival had thus far been unsuccessful in his defeat/suicide, the majority of the wizarding world was still putting up with his murderous and maniacal bullshit.
So, it was nothing of a shock to the Italian Slytherin when over the summer, he awoke with the feeling that his left forearm was being scorched from the inside out. A bubbling, festering pain that caused him to rip apart his bed hangings and retch over the side of the bed consumed him, complete with the reverberating screams he heard through his dreams for the following weeks. Ted had turned seventeen, and as he was of age, his father had promptly delivered him to the Dark Lord.
Glancing around low-ceilinged common room, Blaise noted his best friend seated at a table in the corner, his head in his hands and draped by the shadows. The wan, stringy boy remained motionless. From his vantage point, seated in a large green and silver armchair that Blaise had reserved for himself since Marcus Flint had vacated the school some years before, he could not see his friend’s visage. Blaise knew however, that the tight knot pulsating behind his eyes was because of Teddy, nonetheless.
Just as Blaise snapped his journal shut and prepared to cross the distance to his friend, Ted’s head rose slowly, a lock of ashen hair falling over his forehead and into his eyes as he turned to look at Blaise. He’d sent an owl immediately after the incident in the summer, but to his chagrin it was not returned. In fact, Ted had been avoiding most everyone since school had resumed. The pale-faced boy looked awful; there were dark rings below his eyes causing the light hazel to stand out starkly against his sallow skin. In the wavering torchlight, the angles of his cheeks and jaws barely drew the flesh across his frame. He looked mentally and physically battered. Meeting Blaise’s stare, Ted shook his head once and rose from his seat, preparing to escape to a place where his former best-friend either couldn’t find him, or couldn’t reach him. They’d been playing this cat and mouse game for the last fourteen days, and Zabini was beginning to tire of his role.
As Blaise rose from his seat, Ted bolted from his chair, robes flapping behind him, as he strode quickly down the staircase to the boys’ dormitory. About to follow him, the black haired boy was quickly cut off by a firm “Don’t,” echoing off the walls of the chamber.
Malfoy hadn’t moved in his seat other than to turn his head slightly and talk over his shoulder. Seeing that the Italian had paused, he returned his gaze the hearth fire as Blaise descended on him in six feet two inches of indignant fury.
“Don’t what, Draco?” he seethed, as he stormed around the couch and stood over the lithe blond. “He may not be on your list of priorities right now, but he is definitely on mine! That,” Blaise jabbed a finger roughly towards the staircase, “is my oldest friend. You’ll be damned before you tell me what to do when it comes to him.”
“Has it not occurred to you, Zabini, that perhaps he has nothing to say to us anymore?”
Blaise balked. “The hell are you on about Malfoy?”
The blond lifted his grey eyes upwards and locked on the face above him. Blaise stood an imposing six foot two inches, and carried his bulk well. A firm diet of pasta and seafood in his childhood had caused him to develop an athletic build early on; to say his figure was imposing was an understatement.
“Solidarity, Blaise,” he said evenly. “He thinks that it’s best for the house.”
Blaise gaped at the smaller boy. Fumbling for a reply to this particularly ludicrous statement, Draco merely took in his housemate’s expression and nodded to the open space on the couch next to him in invitation. Not letting his gaze waver, Blaise slumped onto the divan and turned to face the younger Malfoy. Returning his gaze to the fire, Draco’s expression never changed as he began to speak. True, Blaise was only vaguely familiar with the inner workings of the older British wizarding families – his own father could never absorb the loyalties of the British when his heart still resided with the old clan of their homeland. Rather, the Zabini family interests lay in the ancient catacombs of Florence and Rome, and among the floating streets of Venice. Their ancestry and bloodlines took root in a place untouched and untainted by the Dark Wizard’s influence. Guillermo, his Papa, placed his stock in tradition – something that only came away in parts from his birthplace when they immigrated. The conquest and subsequent struggle for power here, he claimed, was total rubbish.
Composing himself, Blaise uttered only one word to his comrade and housemate, “Explain.”
Draco cleared his throat, but his expression remained passive as he began, “We are a house like family. You’ve been here as long as I have to understand how Slytherin is perceived. Yet the goals and values of this house have never wavered from the time it was established. Our tenets have ever been the same; loyalty, lineage, pride, power. These are values that have been passed on to many of us from our parents, and to them from our grandparents, and to them from our great grandparents – and so follow the line of tradition. For many pureblood English families whose children have grown up in Slytherin, the ethical code has been the same for generations. The other houses have left us bereft, cast us out, deemed us snobbish, elitist, partisan even – and so we turned inwards to those who had like values.”
“Together we stand…”
“Divided we fall. Exactly.” Draco glanced at him then, the slate grey of his eyes roiling and stormy. “When the Dark Lord came to power the first time, many of our parents chose to side with him because he was a compelling leader – he spoke of values that concerned the fading wizarding bloodlines.” He shrugged. “It was a matter of self-preservation in the light of a potentially dying species of wizards. You see, it’s always been a practiced tradition to keep the magic among us strong. The idea may seem a little medieval these days, but I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say that when the notion of blood purity came about, genetics were never a question.”
“It’s all so stupidly Machiavellian really.” The blond snorted derisively and waved his hands dramatically. “The end justifies the means.” He chuckled. “Anyhow, many of our parents were swayed by his motivations and moving speeches. More pomp and circumstance than actual substance if you ask me, a lot of families were killed in the first wave when they realized how far he was willing to go to achieve power. Annihilated because they thought that murder and torture were not appropriate methods to maintaining the bloodlines,” he said, quirking an eyebrow at the Italian in a self-deprecating manner. “For those who remained it became a matter of staunching the flow from the wound so to speak. A lot of our parents will never admit it, and with good reason I might add, but they remain supporters of You-Know-Who because going against him would mean killing off another line of pureblood wizards.”
Draco’s lip curled. “It’s disgusting. But it’s a matter of preserving the wizarding race that comes before all else.” He looked at Blaise imploringly.
“Alright, Drake. I follow you, but what does this have to do with us exactly? What does it have to do with Nott?”
Draco surveyed his friend shrewdly for a moment before replying.
“He has the Mark.”
“I know but –”
“Which means,” he continued as patiently as he could, “it’s his turn to choose. It’s our time to choose, Blaise.”
The two seventeen year old wizards surveyed each other in the flickering firelight. Blaise ran a hand roughly through his hair and exhaled, he hadn’t realized he’d been holding his breath. A curly lock of ebony dropped into a deep indigo eye and he blinked before making a swipe at it with an olive skinned finger.
“Ted’s father robbed him of that decision, Draco,” he replied, his tone sombre.
The blond boy scoffed, his lip curling as he leaned towards his housemate, “Hardly.” There was a gleam to his eyes Blaise hadn’t noticed before; it made them flash steely in the low light of the common room. “That despicable sack of shit may have played a part in conceiving Theo, but ultimately, we,” he gestured broadly at the common room at large, “are his true family.”
Blaise snorted, “That is some seriously fucked up, flawed logic, Drake.”
The blond looked taken aback, before he smirked and leaned back against the leather divan, carelessly throwing an arm across the backrest in a gesture that was reminiscent of the belligerent, obnoxious little prat that Blaise had grown up with. It made him grin stupidly at the familiarity of one simple gesture, and put him largely at ease.
“Not at all, Zabini, not a smidge,” he drawled. “Most of us don’t put our stock in a tradition such as your own. You can’t tell me that you don’t see your family differently than I see mine – my father’s a bastard.” He shrugged nonchalantly. “Nott’s father’s a bastard. Pansy’s mum has been trying to marry her off for years and Millie’s been the object of criticism and loathing as long as she can remember because she wasn’t born a boy to carry on the Bulstrode pedigree.” He nodded towards Crabbe and Goyle, still scowling over their parchment a few yards away, “Those two barely speak to their parents. Products of neglect, they are.” Draco leaned forwards putting his elbows on his knees. “Goyle has never even received a hug from his mother – ever. Last summer he told me that one of his house elves nursed him.”
Blaise cocked an eyebrow, well that would explain a lot.
“The point is,” Draco continued. “We’re all products of dysfunctional family situations. Save for you, of course.”
He was right of course; the Zabinis were typical of a large Italian family – through and through closely knit. The fact that they were wizards did nothing to hinder the fact that their blood was stronger for it by far, emotionally and physically. If he couldn’t rely on them, for their meddlesome, protective ways that were invariably steeped in something far stronger than tradition – the brew wrought of kin, love and honour. They were a loud lot, every slight thing that happened turned into a melodrama where someone would either beat their breast and tear their robes or gush, kiss cheeks with wet smacks and proselytize at top volume. Being raised in England, however, Blaise had skilfully tiptoed around his family’s mannerisms and managed to rear himself in a way that was demure and sophisticated in front of others, only rarely showing glimpses of his most basic instincts that involved noisy conversation and frequent fits of passion. He liked to think his family were romantic, in a raw and unbridled sort of way.
“So,” Draco sighed, “While it may seem foreign, Nott does in fact have his head screwed on straight for once.” Blaise snorted.
“I don’t see how being reclusive in light of recent circumstances contributes to house unity. In fact it seems like the exact bloody opposite of what Slytherin stands for; he might as well throw himself at the mercy of the Gryffindors if he’s going to continue on acting like he’s above and beyond all this by trying to escape it.”
Draco’s featured hardened quickly. The lions of Gryffindor were always a touchy subject, unfortunately, what with the ongoing rivalry with Potter and all…
“He’s trying to protect us,” the blond Prefect hissed. “It’s the best bloody thing he can do right now! Unless of course you think having a Junior Death Eater running around is the safest policy for this house.”
“Malfoy I think you’ve underestimated the numbers, there are plenty of You-Know-Who’s minions around here who do their job dutifully, Ted isn’t one of them!” Blaise’s head was beginning to throb viciously, the pain no longer a dull prickle, but an assaulting itch that was growing rapidly every other moment.
“Don’t you think I don’t realize that!” he spat back. “It’s not what he’s willing to do; it’s what’s expected of him now that he was the brand on him!” Malfoy was shaking visibly now, in a fury or in fright, it was hard to discern by the shifting storm clouds in his eyes.
“He won’t do it.” Blaise said firmly, and pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger.
“Of course not, you sod! The problem is what he’s going to do instead!” Malfoy’s voice rose an octave, it did absolutely nothing for the ache between Blaise’s temples.
“Stop shouting Malfoy, please.” Blaise tried to reason. It was one thing for him to lose his temper on a reasonably good day, but with the pounding in Blaise’s temples he didn’t think he could take it much longer. “Well he won’t turn spy if that’s what you mean. Not with his father.” Draco paled visibly and slumped back against the couch.
“No, he wouldn’t.” Malfoy’s eyes narrowed, it was the last thing Blaise saw before his vision blurred out of focus, the pain in his skull was reaching a crescendo. He wouldn’t be able to make it up the stairs to Pomfrey for a potion if it got any worse.
“He won’t run either. The Dark Lord always finds his servants.”
The pain in Blaise’s head was screaming, he squeezed his eyes shut tightly as the first wave of nausea hit him.
“Something’s wrong…” he mumbled, he didn’t know it, but later Draco would tell him he began to sway in his seat from the dizziness.
“What is, Zabini?” Draco’s words were muffled, like there was cotton in his ears. His tongue felt odd in his mouth, like he was going to be sick.
“Blaise?” Draco’s voice was coming from far away. But it didn’t sound right; it didn’t have the sharp accent that Draco’s aristocratic tongue carried. It sounded curiously like… Ted?
Dragging himself to the edge of the couch and preparing to vomit onto the woven hearth rug, as fast as it had come, the pain ceased entirely. Blaise stilled, and looked down at his polished black school regulation shoes.
“Blaise?” Draco had scooted closer and placed a measuring hand on his back.
The tall Slytherin gathered himself and began to stand when his vision became overrun with colourful spots, and he blacked out completely.
Blaise? Tell my mother, Blaise. Tell her