June 10, 2017.
The Dark Lord eyed the blond wizard kneeling before him with mild disdain, detectable despite the hood he had taken to wearing of late. "Lucius," he murmured. "You may rise." His red eyes glittered within the shadows cast by the hood. "Do have a seat, now; what is it that brings you to my office today?"
His tone suggested a mild-mannered professor humoring a student; the genuine concern on Voldemort's part for whatever news his servant had come to bring simply didn't reach his voice. The Malfoy patriarch kept his gaze averted, even as he seated himself in the visitor's chair at the Dark Lord's desk. "My lord, I bear unpleasant news," he said, as if that were not evident from the minute he had entered the room.
Still. If Lucius , he of the tendency to understate things, called it unpleasant... the situation must be quite severe. Voldemort braced himself against the reflexive urge to Cruciate the blond in advance of his report, and gestured for him to continue.
"Negotiations with the Americans have... taken a turn. Grassroots movements have uprooted the bribable officials within MACUSA's government, and seized the assets held in the New York vaults." Lucius' voice did not tremble, but his hands did, where they were clasped in his lap. The man kept a good handle on his fear, certainly; it made this slip all the more wonderful.
That said... perhaps reassurance was in order. "I did expect this eventually, to some extent," the Dark Lord mused aloud. "Really, the giants are less volatile than the Americans. Tell me, Lucius -- how much have we lost?"
In this, his servant did not hesitate to reply. "Sixty percent of the war fund, my lord. We expect three months at least before we can recover it all. In the meantime..." Paler and paler went poor Malfoy's pallor. Voldemort was more entertained by this than he'd been all week.
'Unpleasant news' indeed, though. "I see. Your candor is appreciated, my servant. Allow me to handle the situation from here." Less of a suggestion, more of an order. "You may depart."
Once Lucius had fled his office, Voldemort set down his wand in its delegated place on his desk, the better to restrain his urge to hex things to pieces. It would not do, when he had spent such time constructing this place, to wreck it all now -- no matter the absolute spitting rage just beneath his skin.
Rather, breathing deeply, he let said wand-bereft hand trail down the side of the desk until one questing fingertip caught on the latch of his hidden liquor cabinet; opening the door, and retrieving a bottle of gin, without looking directly at it. This was the only way he had yet found to circumvent the alarm Lucius had placed to 'forewarn' the other servants. (The Dark Lord had permitted it as a gesture of so-called goodwill.) There were glasses in the cabinet as well, but Voldemort saw no point in using one when he would be drinking the entire bottle in one sitting anyway.
Midway through the cultivation of a truly delightful stuporous haze, the better to distract him from this setback, the door to Voldemort's office opened yet again, this time without permission. It was... who was it? He squinted. Oh. Wormtail, bearing Nagini. The Dark Lord didn't really hear the man's filthy groveling, but the sound of his voice was getting on his nerves despite the gin. Nagini was not helping: she coiled about Voldemort's shoulders, whining loudly about her desire to eat the rat.
Right in his bloody ear.
Well. A bit of Cruciatus wouldn't hurt, he supposed.
And promptly cursed Wormtail until he lost control of his bowels -- hilarious for the first few seconds, until the smell reached his nose. Then Voldemort frowned, more displeased than he had been minutes ago. "You disssappoint me, Wormtail," Voldemort slurred, glaring at him. "Get out of here."
The brown streak left on the carpet by Wormtail dragging himself out the door took three house-elves to clean. That was it . The Pettigrew rat had long lost any justification for his continued existence; this 'incident' merely reminded him of the fact. What to do about the fool now?
"LET ME EAT HIM," Nagini shrieked overloud in his ear. (Had he been muttering to himself out loud?) "I'LL EVEN LET YOU WATCH THIS TIME," she promised.
The Dark Lord peered down into the empty bottle of gin, his mind stringing several words together. Money... Wormtail... Nagini.... He swayed to his feet, probably elegantly, and made for the door over the now-clean carpet. Yes, there was the beginning of an idea…
Twenty minutes later, a cloud of gin wafted into Severus' study, preceding its source by several paces. Dear Merlin, the Dark Lord was at it again, and Lucius had failed to warn him.
(It had been Severus' idea, the alarm spell -- seeing as Voldemort always went to him first when he was drunk. He should have known it was too neat a solution to be effective.)
He kept his eyes fixed firmly on the Potions journal he'd been reading, hoping the Dark Lord might simply forget he was there at all and move on, as he was occasionally seen to do. The man was worse than Sybill with her sherry, and not only because his portents of doom were genuine.
Alas, such a narrow escape was not meant to be, this time. "Sseveruss," came the call, and the potions master looked up from his book, careful to disguise the weariness he already felt. Voldemort swayed where he stood in the doorway, moving to lean heavily against the wall. Times like this, Severus really wished his Lord would take off the hood he'd begun wearing over the winter; it was scarier not to be able to read his facial expressions. (Perhaps, Severus mused, that was precisely why he'd taken to it.)
"Sseveruss," Voldemort repeated, "jussst the wizard I was... looking forrr."
"I have..." he yawned, "decided on a ssolution to our funding... sshortfall."