|Scene Title||New Dance Steps|
|Synopsis||Severus is called to the Dark Lord's side. It is a meeting between the two of them and Lucius Malfoy. Plans are discussed, and Severus comes out smelling like a rose.|
|Date||Mar 21, 1996|
|Watch For||Clueless Severus still landing on his feet.|
Thursday night's call doesn't end with a gathering of the Dark forces in the 'throne room' the way these things often do. Indeed, the Riddle House is - for once - quiet, almost … peaceful, if such a thing could be believed. Tonight, the Dark Lord sits in his study, inhumanly long fingers laced together against his chin in contemplation. Lucius Malfoy, decadent in his usual regal splendour, lounges against the wall nearest the large picture windows, arms folded over his chest and watching the lazy haze of spring rain mist the darkness outside. While neither of these men are famed for their particular patience, both of them are unmistakably waiting.
Severus Snape is only a moment late. He strides into the room and kneels before the Dark Lord, remaining still and obeisant for a moment. "My Lord, my apologies for my tardiness." He rises, having given his Lord his due, and turns to greet Lucius with a slow, friendly nod. "Lucius." Since it's a small group of men, in fact numbering three, Severus is able to move to another seat near Voldemort. He decides to wait to hear what the other man has to say before speaking again.
Lucius acknowledges that greeting moreso than he has in any recent memory, his own response a slow nod in return. And when Severus seats himself, Lucius straightens and moves to do the same, settling into the other chair opposite the Dark Lord with his usual flair of motion. Said Lord is pensive - strangely quiet; it is mildly unnerving. He does not acknowledge Snape's arrival nor his tardiness. He simply begins. "It is my understanding that the vacuum created by Dumbledore's … untimely demise is to be filled by his pet, Minerva." His serpentine familiar coils herself around the back of his chair and he reaches one hand over to rub idly at the skin above her eyes. "We cannot afford to allow such an opportunity to slip through our fingers, can we, gentlemen?"
Severus is surprised by the nod, but hides it well. In fact, the whole meeting seems a little surreal. However, he is not one to push away good fortune. So, he listens to Lord Voldemort's words, and then nods, his only confirmation that the news the Dark Lord had heard was correct. When the man asks an open-ended question, Severus smirks, though inside, a pride and interest wars with a deep sense of foreboding. "No, milord." He looks over at each of the other men, only glancing at the elder man, but gazing at Lucius, trying to read the situation, though hints seem to be trickling through.
Lucius Malfoy has been through this song and dance enough to know almost instinctively the part he is being asked to play. It has often been his lot to fall within these kinds of quiet meetings. This is, however, the first time since the Dark Lord's return that he has shared this honor with Severus. If he must share it with one of the plebian lot … well, better Severus than Shadow - at least in his oh-so-humble opinion. His lips twist in a very satisfied - almost predatory - smirk and he nods. "The rest of the Board of Governors should not be … terribly difficult to convince. It is, after all, a replacement for whom Dumbledore himself vouched loudly and often." But Lucius has not climbed to his status in life by sitting back and waiting. His dominance over the man next to him he asserts with a tilt of his head and a mocking smile. "I hear rumours that you've finally managed to snare a fledgling, Severus." It has long been a private joke that of the Inner Circle, it is Snape who doesn't have the personable nature to bring new life into the fold. "Is he blind as well as deaf?"
The Dark Lord says nothing, merely watching his two vassals establishing their pecking order with the quiet, eerie patience of the desert cobra.
This is a new game. And it is a very different one. One which he has seen the steps many times, but never danced as much himself. He is in a very dangerous position. He understands the full import of Lucius' words about the replacement, and swallows his surprise while keeping his face impassive. A short nod to acknowledge the comment, then, he speaks on the subject of his fledgeling. "When one speaks of rumors, one must be certain that enough information is given to be useful." He does not inject any derision or malice into his tone, in fact, it's almost as dry as it might be if he were speaking to Siobhan. Not quite, of course, but almost. He considers his next words, but instead of addressing them to his school-fellow, Severus directs his attention to the Dark Lord. "Of that very matter, milord, I wish to speak. My … fledgeling is prepared to fly. I wished to ascertain whether that would fit within your plans."
Lucius laughs at that, the sound quiet and refined. There is no purer embodiment of magical nobility than he, the golden son of Celt and Roman blood. "Surely after all these years without even the whisper of an attempt, you cannot blame us for interest in the possibility of your success." The words are mocking enough, but there is a genuine interest only partially hidden in sharp silver eyes. None of the Inner Circle would have been able to tolerate Severus' presence among them had they not seen ample proof of his ability. That interest is only piqued further when a glance at their Lord shows a flash of naked avarice on the inhuman face.
That avarice is tempered by the harsh narrowing of warning and impending displeasure. "You chose a difficult species to tame, Severus." The sibilant way he says the name makes it sound almost like Parsel. "Be certain you are assured of success before you make such claims." Nevertheless, there is a calculating angle to his pose and expression. Already, the Dark Lord is making Plans.
"Indeed," Severus answers both men at the same time. "I have been highly fortunate." Lucky as hell, more like. He smirks, affecting an ease he would not normally show in these men's presence. However, it seems to be the way to go, so he loosens the tension in his shoulders just the slightest bit. "We nearly had company this evening. I know I shall hear about it when I return." He still hides any clue of Siobhan's identity from Lucius, at least any clear sign of it, though he does answer the Dark Lord's comments with those words. "I do not feel I have completely tamed, merely strongly influenced. However, I believe it could be beneficial for the introduction to happen."
Lucius is clearly puzzled by both the Dark Lord's warning and Severus' reply. He is, however, far too good at the Game to stoop to asking for any kind of clarification. Judging by the obvious allusions in their words, the answer will not be long in coming.
Voldemort, however, is in no doubt of the full meaning behind couched phrases. He barks out a sharp laugh, high-pitched and eerie. Eyes of blood narrow in on the younger of his two present servants. "Your … fledgling," he begins, for that metaphor seems to work as well as any, "comes from a particularly challenging stock." It's a bloodline neither he nor Albus were ever able to tame. "I shall call all our court in two nights' time. If you are truly so close to success as you claim, then the triumph should be a public one." Because the Dark Lord understands all the implications of adding this particular gem to his crown - cultural, political and strategical. "Lucius," he purrs, switching gears with a rapidity that by rights should leave them all with whiplash. "Ensure that the Governors fall in line before the vote of confirmation. We must deliver their … support at precisely the right moment if we are to take advantage of this opening."
"Particularly challenging is indeed an apt turn of phrase, milord," Severus replies, also adding, "I shall make the preparations." Most of which will include finding that Grand Gesture and apologizing for being a right ass to her before he left. In his fear for her safety, he acted poorly. He smirks for a short moment, but pointedly does not look at Lucius. "I am certain my fledgeling will know how to prepare." Better than he, he's sure. He'll probably have to get some information from her, or someone who understands what's going on. Because, though he's the picture of poised control, Severus Snape is just a little bit lost.
Lucius scoffs. "I highly doubt it. No one ever - " He is cut off by the sudden warning hiss from his Lord and falls silent.
Patience with this matter wearing thin, the Dark Lord narrows crimson eyes at both of his servants. "Severus," he hisses sharply. "You will ensure that our old friend Horace steps into your former places." As both Professor and Head. There's a knowing look leveled at the dark-eyed man. "He has the Draught of Living Death." And he wants it. "Do not fail me again, Severus… Even the most useful feline only has so many lives…" It's enough of a dismissal for them both that Lucius stands with a low bow.
"Yes, milord." Severus nods, rising and bowing toward the man. With a quick-as-a-flash glance at Lucius, Severus turns to stride out of the room again, wanting to return to speak to his mother's portrait and his wife, and not necessarily in that order.