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"Welcome, my young acolyte, to your rightful place by my side."

Draco Malfoy, begored and benumbed, stepped out of the circle of Death Eaters and removed his mask. He had not been able to find his robes before fleeing his home. His father's body--his father's body--had been all over his mother's room. He did not understand it. He thought he should, but he did not. He had only known the call of the Dark Lord, and so had come to join him, even though what he most wanted at the moment was to fall into a sleep from which it did not matter if he ever awakened.

"Gregory Goyle," Voldemort called.

"My Lord?" that man asked, stepping forward and also removing his mask.

"Does young Draco know that you were responsible for the . . . horrific death of his father?"

Something inside of Draco snapped awake. He turned slowly to face the other man.

"No! It was Potter! She killed him."

"You dare to lie to me? If not for my profound shock," the wizard said sarcastically, "I would be very angry, very angry, indeed. But perhaps our young man does not care that you butchered his sire. Perhaps he is grate--"

An awful sound like a wet cotton zipper being opened reverberated in the ears of those present. And Voldemort laughed over the screams of one of his followers as he was ripped apart by another's force of will.

"You've grown strong."

"Through your tutelage, my Lord," Draco answered.

"Soon, it will be a pleasure to see what else you have learned."

Malfoy turned his blank, glittering eyes to Voldemort.

"Scourgify!" his master ordered.

And suddenly Draco felt clean again.


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