1996-02-17: Deals with the Devil

Participants:

Voldemort_icon.gif Siobhan_icon.gif

Scene Title Deals with the Devil
Synopsis The devil you know is always preferable to the devil you don't, but sometimes even his deals come with a price.
Location Riddle House - Throne Room
Date February 17, 1996
Watch For Temper, temper…
Logger Bright One

Two more days of rest and finally Siobhan has the strength to stand again - though walking requires a nearby wall or piece of furniture. Unable to stay in that … room without company, she has ventured out into the wide expanse of house. Her progress was unremarked on - the place is nearly empty on a Saturday afternoon - but Janet must have been by at some point, because the petite blonde Slytherin has her hair back in a sloppy bun and is wearing grey yoga pants slung around her hips and a slightly-shrunken version of the open black robes fastened in the front as far as it can be - which is to say, just enough to keep her modesty. There is no evidence and no witnesses to speak for how long it took her to get here, but it's in the 'throne room' that she sits, curled up in the large chair near the fire with a book in her hand. Her only company is an unholy large serpent, draped around the upper part of the chair in which she sits and seemingly entranced by the new person in her Tom's place.

The air in February is insanely cold, though there is something to be said for the crispness and cleanliness of the atmosphere. Returning from the surrounding woods, Lord Voldemort does not hesitate to slam the door upon his arrival, leaving a trail of snow on the stone floor as he strides inside, shouting for Wormtail. The lack of immediate response makes him snarl his frustration to the empty room, continuing on to his main hall. These doors fly open all on their own, recognizing their master. Pushing the hood back from his head, the last of Slytherin's line is brought up short. None of his Death Eaters would be foolish - or suicidal - enough to sit in his place, and certainly not lounge in it like … like it belongs to them. And even if they had done such a thing, Nagini would have taken the excuse to have an early meal. Seeing as none of those things are currently holding true, the Dark Lord narrows blood-red eyes in suspicion. "Miss Noble, I presume?" There's a sharp hissing sound and the impossibly large snake unwinds herself from the chair to slither across the stone floor toward her master.

"Don't be angry with her, she can't help it." Siobhan's voice is quiet and rough, the vocal cords still healing, but her words are deliberate and organized. Only now does she look up from her book - a paperback edition of The Screwtape Letters - and it's with a soft, almost indulgent smile for the reptile. "You presume correctly, Lord Tom." And doesn't that smile just turn a bit cheeky. Well-acquainted with his temper, she holds up one hand - her right one, to be precise - and shakes her head. "You can no more hurt me than she can, so save your energy." Brown eyes rise to meet red, unflinching. "You and I need to discuss a few things."

Tom Riddle did not climb to the pinnacle of power by being a fool. He trusts no one and takes nothing at face value. "You'll forgive me if I don't take you at your word." Heedless of the fact that - if successful - his own actions might kill her and land him right back into the mess he's trying to get out of, the Dark Lord draws his wand, pointing it squarely at the blonde woman in his chair and hissing out the Parsel for the Cruciatus. Or at least, he tries to. No matter how much anger, hatred and sheer force of will he pours into it, he cannot form the words. He cannot cast the spell. Enraged, he whips around and sends all of that will towards the line of windows, shattering every damn one. That seems to calm him enough. Another flick of his wand conjures another chair near the fire - one larger and grander than the one in which his 'guest' sits - but he doesn't sit; not yet. Nagini, however, is more than happy to go curl up on the soft seat until he's ready for it. For now, he paces. And snarls. The snarling is very important. "How?" He knows he didn't kill her mother.

Siobhan watches passively as he tries to call her bluff and then expends the built-up energy on the line of windows. She can't really say anything about his temper. "I shattered a wall full of mirrors," she remarks. At least his temper tantrum doesn't come with any bad luck. Hers totally did. "If it makes you feel better, I can't hurt you, either." Which might alleviate some of that un-even-ness that makes all snakes - no matter their color - incredibly nervous. For a long moment, she just watches him pace, one corner of her mouth twitching as she notes the resemblance. Best to keep that to herself just now. "I can't be certain - 'Zar didn't mention this particular side-effect and I can't find his portrait here anymore - but I'm pretty sure it has something to do with this." She holds up her right hand again, this time turning her wrist to show him the ring on her third finger. "I needed access to the Chamber and this was the only way short of kidnapping any Gryffindors."

"Is there a problem with kidnapping Gryffindors?" Tom asks archly, sensing perhaps an insult to his methods. Her admission startles him and he turns his full, narrow-eyed glare on his opponent. No snake would ever give up the upper hand by admitting they were on an even playing field with the person across the board from them. So why did she? There's some other angle to this, some piece he's missing. "That's impossible," he scoffs. "Those rings have magic that can only be tapped by one of the bloodline. I am the only one left." And he certainly didn't perform any rites of adoption. The smile he turns on her is cruel and mocking, but there is just the glimmer of uncertainty in his glare. Nothing can ever be certain in the world of rituals and magic - after all, he cheated death itself. "That is obviously a forgery."

That makes Siobhan laugh, though the sound is a weak one. "Not in principle, no." She's lost a lot of respect for the leonine pride in the last few months. "But it's certainly more work than it's worth." While he paces and snarls and postures, Siobhan simply watches, gathering information for her own private puzzle. "Look in the Blood books, Tom. Almost two-hundred and fifty years ago, the Nobles were almost exclusively a Slytherin family - all branches." Shifting in her seat, she winces as scars are tugged and sore places are bumped, but does eventually settle into a more comfortable position. "Except for the second-eldest brother in that generation. He was a Lion." It happens from time to time. Look at Sirius Black. "The eldest made probably the most substantive - " there's a Snape word stuck in there " - contribution to our understanding of and dealings with magical beings of any person ever to exist, but when he was attacked by one of the very creatures he studied, his title and inheritance were stripped and given to his brother." The Lion. The Lion with lots and lots of cubs. "Their mother had married into the Noble family. Her maiden name had been Peverell." The first family to die out in the male line and one that Salazar had been sure carried at least a fraction of his blood. "Maybe it would have stayed in us stronger if Uncle Icha had been able to pass on his line, but such as it stands, I am the first Slytherin Noble in over two-hundred years. It took a sacrifice. It was not easy." She shakes her head. "Twenty years of my vital magic went into that ritual." But it was better than the piece of soul 'Zar had suggested. "I assure you, Tom, this is no fake. I had to go all the way to Russia to find one still intact. Here." Knowing well the difficulty in believing something that can't be seen, Siobhan turns to Nagini with an open, outstretched hand. "Come here, beauty." She doesn't use the sibilant consonants and breathy vowels of Parseltongue, but there's a distinct magical pulse in the ring bound to the tiny blood vessels in her hand and the large serpent responds, sliding back toward the woman and allowing someone not her master to run fingers across her smooth back for the first time in nearly half a century. "See?" Siobhan glances over to the Dark Lord occupying the room. "Now will you sit down and talk with me? There's a lot to be fixed if you're to make it through your lieutenant's fuck up."

Lord Voldemort has, in fact, looked into the Blood books. The Noble line was never one of particular interest to him - since by his time it was almost exclusively Gryffindor - but enough of what she says rings true enough that at least he'll listen. Something about her story niggles at the back of his mind in a way that is entirely frustrating, but he cant quite grasp the memory that would explain the significance. He can verify it later, but she obviously has some connection to the bloodline ability. At best, her story is true; at worst, she's the most accomplished liar he's come across in a very long time. In either case, he would rather have her with him than against him. Nodding sharply, he sits in the chair vacated by his familiar, watching the interaction between the two females with no small amount of calculation. It's been a long time since he's been in the position of charming an alliance rather than forcing one, but that doesn't mean he can't. "Severus was to inform you of the solution when last he examined your injuries."

"Oh, he did." Siobhan watches the Dark Lord settle into the chair opposite her, running idle fingers over his familiar as she thinks. "I'm not much one for carrots, but if we're going to use that analogy, there will be two." She rubs at a dry patch on the serpent's hide, enjoying the soft hissing sounds that amount to 'thanks'. "One for telling the story that makes you look good. One for not telling the story that would destroy you." A natural strategist, she'll stop there, gauging his reaction to the first before proceeding to the others.

Voldemort barks out a short laugh, surprised - and just a little amused - at her guts. It's not a pleasant sound by any stretch of the imagination, but at least in this instance it isn't followed up by a string of painful curses. "Opportunistic little viper, aren't you?" Not that such traits are necessarily bad, just potentially inconvenient. "Entertain me, Siobhan." If she's going to toss his name around willy-nilly, he'll most certainly do the same. "Tell me these two carrots your cooperation requires."

Emboldened, perhaps, by that fact that her captor hasn't out-and-out said no, Siobhan sits up straighter, a bit of her old energy returning with a wicked, wicked grin. "The first one hardly counts, because it benefits you as much as the rest of us." And almost as suddenly as it appeared, the mirth is gone. "Purge yourself of the disease that is your Shadow before his foul insanity destroys every shred of dignity, purpose … of honor that you ever might have had. He took out his twisted and sadistic tendencies on a pureblood daughter of an ancient family. It's one mistake - that you know of - but he knew who I was, Tom. This isn't the first time he's cursed me. He knew the consequences of my death. He knew targeting me would leave you without a leg to stand on with those old families who put you in power. He just didn't care." And that kind of attitude is a very dangerous thing to have around.

Lord Voldemort's jaw clenches. He does not like the accusations-by-proxy that come with her request, though he cannot deny the truth of it. Anyone else would be writhing under the Cruciatus while he got a rein on his temper, but since he can't curse her and he won't curse Nagini, his only recourse is to swallow it. It's not a form of self-control he's used to exercising and it does nothing at all for his mood. "And the second?" he snarls, momentarily debating the merits of searching out someone else to curse her for him.

With that steel-trap instinct for survival, Siobhan seems to know when she's reached a limit. Arching one brow in an expression learned from her lover, she takes an educated guess and pushes just a touch further. "There's nothing stopping you from ordering one of them to curse me, you know. So long as it's not you raising your hand to strike the blow, the magic is satisfied." And suddenly the tradition of 'whipping boys' starts to make a little sense to Siobhan. "If there is a Death Eater you trust with the knowledge that you cannot touch a young girl they could easily overpower, by all means. Teach me my place." It's a calculated risk, but once it's played, she leans back in the chair and closes her eyes. It has twofold purpose; one, she can rest for just a moment and two, she isn't in anywhere near a threatening posture. "The second one doesn't concern me," she finally answers quietly. "You can just owe me one."

Tom's eyes widen, the bright red filled with fury at her daring - even more so because the impudent bitch is right. Launching himself out of the chair, he resumes his pacing, looking for all the world like a serpentine wildcat when something has invaded its den. The anger boiling in his gut is only fueled by the competition for control of his own mind. The familiar darkness is so welcoming, inviting him back into a world where nothing but his quest for the death of his only obstacle to total power means anything. And yet … And yet there is another force, growing in strength over the last few weeks. It refuses to let him be at peace in his insanity, forcing him instead to look at variables outside a fifteen year old boy and to focus on the entire game instead of just a few maddening pieces. The battle inside his own head is painful and it is uncomfortable, but eventually the saner force wins out; for the first time in thirty years, it is stronger than his demons. "Very well," he snarls, the very air crackling with his power and his rage. "Your terms are acceptable on three conditions." He pauses, staring down the infuriatingly calm blonde in his seat. "The first is that the … purging will be done my way and on my terms. Second," Stalking up toward her, he bends his body to place his face only inches from hers, danger evident in every line of his frame. "You will never reveal this place or the true happenings herein to Albus or his myth of fools. Third." He steps back, folding his arms over his chest and smiling in that creepy Cheshire Cat way that shows his temper has dissipated - for now. "Third, you will tell me right now just how it is you know my name." There are a thousand other questions he'd really like the answers to, but since his birth is something he's tried to keep very much under wraps, it will have to do. For now.

And Siobhan will return that Cheshire Cat grin with one of her own wolfish ones. It's too easy to provoke him. Far, far too easy. "Done." She'll offer her hand to seal their bargain, then. "You know that your Shadow has targeted me in the past. What you don't know is how." She folds her own arms over her torso, hiding the slice of scarred midriff that the open robes just don't cover. "He bound my soul into one of your paintings. I spent a very long time getting to know you, Tom, and you never even knew I was there." There is something haunted about her expression, but after a moment, it is closed off. "Salazar was quite willing to share information with a student who 'had the knack' - as he put it - for doing the impossible." She doesn't bother with false humility, here. She's proud of what she's managed to do with all the horror she's been put through. She's pretty sure false humility doesn't go very far with Tom's crowd, anyway.

With a flash of deadly crimson, the Dark Lord finally loses his patience entirely. Stalking back up into her space, he grabs a fistful of her hair and jerks her head back painfully to bore into her brown eyes with his red ones. "Enough of your stories, little viper." And he will rip through her mind without hesitation or remorse.

Siobhan was prepared for this. Tamping down hard on the instinct to simply throw up her shields and kick him out of her head, she takes a deep breath and simply re-arranges her mind on the fly. Instinct and improvisation are her strong points, not theory and abstract concept. The memories of being hit with green light and waking up inside a world without sensation, of long fireside chats with 'Zar and Ro, of watching the Dark Lord through various 'windows' into the Riddle House, of her anger with Albus for doing nothing, of her horror of discovery in the Room Where No One Goes, of Severus working the counter-curse, of her trek through Russian winter to the ruins of a house burnt down almost a century ago, of the ritual that took years of life in exchange for power and a measure of protection, of her punching Shadow in the nose, of her navigating the labyrinthine passageways of Riddle House to lead the others to safety, of the peace that comes with dying surrounded by cold, dark water. All of these things flash through her mind with ease, as if it's only the natural course of his search and not her direction that brings them to the fore and not others.

Ripping back out of her mind as roughly as he entered it, the Dark Lord seems … disgruntled, but satisfied by what he's seen. "Very well," he begins, his voice once more low and quiet. "The pack will come to retrieve you in three days time." Calculating crimson eyes study his captive, though this time without any magical intent. "I doubt this will be our last meeting, Miss Noble. Good day." And with that, he turns on his heel and begins to stalk out of the room.

"One more thing … " Siobhan's voice is quiet and subdued - the whole experience has taken more out of her than she'd like to show. "You'll need to make sure someone disposable uses the Cruciatus on me. Probably a fair bit, too." It will cover up the magical signatures they don't want exposed and will make the whole case more believable. "It should open up just enough of the surface wounds that no one will ask questions."

He'll pause long enough to listen, though he doesn't turn around. There is no response to her final instructions, no acknowledgement or refusal. The silence should be its own answer. Her audience with him is over.


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