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Spinner's End

(2007-07-11 17:34:09)
She had knocked on the door before Bella, cursing under her breath, hadcaught up. Together they stood waiting, panting slightly, breathing in the smell of the dirty river that was carried to them on the night breeze. After a few seconds, they heard movement behind the door and it opened a crack. A sliver of a man could be seen looking out at them, a man with long black hair parted in curtains around a sallow face and black eyes.
Narcissa threw back her hood. She was so pale that she seemed to shine in the darkness; the long blonde hair streaming down her back gave her the look of a drowned person.
"Narcissa!" said the man, opening the door a little wider, so that the light fell upon her and her sister too. "What a pleasant surprise!
"Severus," she said in a strained whisper. "May I speak to you? It's urgent."
"But of course."
He stood back to allow her to pass him into the house. Her still-hooded sister followed without invitation.
"Snape," she said curtly as she passed him.
"Bellatrix," he replied, his thin mouth curling into a slightly mocking smile as he closed the door with a snap behind them.
They had stepped directly into a tiny sitting room, which had the feeling of a dark, padded cell. The walls were completely covered in books, most of them bound in old black or brown leather; a threadbare sofa, an old armchair, and a rickety table stood grouped together in a pool of dim light cast by a candle-filled lamp hung from the ceiling. The place had an air of neglect, as though it was not usually inhabited.
Snape gestured Narcissa to the sofa. She threw off her cloak, cast it aside,and sat down, staring at her white and trembling hands clasped in her lap. Bellatrix lowered her hood more slowly. Dark as her sister was fair, with heavily lidded eyes and a strong jaw, she did not take her gaze from Snape as she moved to stand behind Narcissa.
"So, what can I do for you?" Snape asked, settling himself in the armchair opposite the two sisters.
"We... we are alone, aren't we?" Narcissa asked quietly.
'Yes, of course. Well, Wormtail's here, but we're not counting vermin, are we?"
He pointed his wand at the wall of books behind him and with a bang, a  hidden door flew open, revealing a narrow staircase upon which a small man stood frozen.
"As you have clearly realized, Wormtail, we have guests," said Snape lazily.
The man crept, hunchbacked, down the last few steps and moved into the room. He had small, watery eyes, a pointed nose, and wore an unpleasantsimper. His left hand was caressing his right, which looked as though it was encased in a bright silver glove.
"Narcissa!" he said, in a squeaky voice. "And Bellatrix! How charming--"
"Wormtail will get us drinks, if you'd like them," said Snape. "And then
he will return to his bedroom."
Wormtail winced as though Snape had thrown something at him.
"I am not your servant!" he squeaked, avoiding Snape's eye.
"Really? I was under the impression that the Dark Lord placed you here to assist me."
"To assist, yes--but not to make you drinks and--and clean your house!"
"I had no idea, Wormtail, that you were craving more dangerous
assignments," said Snape silkily. "This can be easily arranged: I shall speak to the Dark Lord--"
"I can speak to him myself if I want to!"
"Of course you can," said Snape, sneering. "But in the meantime, bring us drinks. Some of the elf-made wine will do."
Wormtail hesitated for a moment, looking as though he might argue, but then turned and headed through a second hidden door. They heard bangingand a clinking of glasses. Within seconds he was back, bearing a dusty bottle and three glasses upon a tray. He dropped these on the rickety table and scurried from their presence, slamming the book-covered door behind him.
Snape poured out three glasses of bloodred wine and handed two of them to the sisters. Narcissa murmured a word of thanks, whilst Bellatrix said nothing, but continued to glower at Snape. This did not seem to discompose him; on the contrary, he looked rather amused.
"The Dark Lord," he said, raising his glass and draining it.


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