The Death Eaters surrounding the table turned away from their master and looked towards the opposite side of the room, which was shrouded in darkness by heavy curtains and poor lighting. Bellatrix gave a dark scowl as her heavily lidded eyes dropped to glare at the dusty wooden table before her; Voldemort chose to ignore her resentful attitude as, for the moment, his attention was otherwise engaged.
"Nagini," Voldemort's soft voice echoed through the silence of the room, the only noise to be heard aside from the storm continuing to rage a war outside as his words floated listlessly through the air. "Come here."
All the Death Eaters had their fullest attention directed upon the shadows at the other end of the room; even Bellatrix looked up from the spot on the table she had been glaring at with spite and paid attention as another Death Eater joined their gathering.
Slowly, a slender young woman stepped into the light, dressed head to toe in thick black robes with the hood drawn up over her head, shielding her face from view. She seemed to glide gracefully across the dusty floorboards without making a noise, before stopping at the end of the table with a gentle sigh escaping her lips, sounding more like a hiss than an exhale of air. Pale and willowy arms slithered elegantly up from the depths of her robes and reached to push back the dark hood from her head, revealing long, straight dark hair that swung with the motion of her body, and a pale oval face with startling bright blue eyes that were focused intently upon the Dark Lord.
The young woman bowed slightly in respect to the man at the head of the table before she began to speak in a composed voice that commanded the attention of everyone in the room. "I bring you interesting news, my Lord... News concerning a Death Eater in this room, and their latest mistake."
Silence echoed within the dining room of the old Riddle Manor once the newest member of their group had made that exclamation. However, it wasn't long for the stillness to be broken with interested murmurs or the whispers of people throwing names onto the table of who could've done something wrong which was bound to displease the Dark Lord. There were only three people in the room who remained quiet. Severus Snape, who was absentmindedly drumming his fingertips against the tabletop, rather bored with the current theatrical proceedings and wishing to return to his mission, Lord Voldemort and the bringer of the news, who chose instead to stare intently at one another from across the room, conveying unspoken messages with their eyes.
Voldemort raised an eyebrow slightly as he looked upon the young woman standing quietly on the other side of the room before rasing his hand a fraction from the tabletop, motioning for her to come closer. Nagini did as she was told and moved quickly passed three drunken Death Eaters at the end of the table, two vivaciously talking brothers and a bored looking Snape before taking up the only available seat within the room on Voldemort's left-hand side.
Voldemort leant closer to hear what she had to say as Nagini began to speak in hushed tones. Nagini noticed from the corner of her eye that Bellatrix, still sporting a contemptuous scowl, was leaning slightly across the table, trying to eavesdrop upon what Nagini had to say.
"Is that so?" Voldemort said a few minutes later once Nagini had finished conveying her message to her master. Voldemort leant back causally in his chair and gave Nagini a nod of approval before she too relaxed in her chair, muttering a quick hello to Severus opposite her who merely nodded curtly in reply.
"Nagini brings me interesting news. Apparently, a muggle boy was killed in the village no more than three hours ago. Who amongst you is responsible for this?" The Dark Lord asked quietly, his eyes scanning the faces surrounding him, waiting to catch someone looking guilty. He noticed some looked confused, others looked too drunk to remember something as recent as what had just been asked, and finally his eyes fell upon a face belonging to someone who suddenly looked rather uncomfortable under his gaze.
All eyes turned to gaze at Bellatrix, who was trying to remain poised and oblivious to everyone's obvious stares. She held her head up high and replied to her master.
"Yes, my Lord?" One look from Voldemort told Bellatrix that he was not going to say anymore, and that she had to explain herself. She quickly shot Nagini a cold glare before turning to face the Dark Lord; Nagini merely rolled her eyes in response and let her gaze fall upon the water dripping from the ceiling onto the tabletop. Bellatrix began to explain.
"I was in the village and spotted a boy looking at the manor. He had seen the giant so I confronted him, demanded to know what he thought he saw and then killed him when I got confirmation-"
"And left the body lying in the spot where you killed him, correct?"
She shuffled forward awkwardly in her seat before whispering her answer to the room. "Yes, my Lord."
"Tell me, Bella," Lord Voldemort began, his voice rising ever so slightly from its normal volume to one that was so bitter that it chilled everyone to the bone. "Why would you leave a body lying in the street like that so near to our headquarters while we have the Ministry on our tails? I'm sure even the inept wizards who work there could instantly recognise that that boy had been killed by an Unforgivable Curse if they came across it before the Muggles had."
Nagini, who had just turned away from the puddle to watch what was going on, noticed that Bellatrix looked like she was a fish out of water, trying to gulp down enough oxygen to survive. She didn't feel sorry for the woman seated across from her as she and Bellatrix had never gotten along too well. Bellatrix thought that Nagini was trying to take her place as the Dark Lord's favourite, whereas Nagini was sick of how she was always left to clean up Bellatrix's foolish mistakes when her infamous temper got the better of her.
"I..." Bellatrix began before faltering, shooting Nagini another glare before weakly continuing. "I didn't think that-"
"No, you didn't think at all. Right now young Black is cleaning up for his dear cousin when he should be here at our meeting. You should thank him for rectifying your foolish mistake once he gets back," Voldemort scolded and Bellatrix hung her head slightly, mumbled something for only Voldemort to hear. Apparently he found her words amusing as he laughed a high, cold laugh which sent chills down the spines of everyone present once she'd finished muttering.
"You're sorry? Would you be sorry still, Bella, if your stupidity had lead to our capture by the Ministry? Oh yes, I think that then you would be sorry..." Voldemort trailed off and the room was cast into silence. "I think there has been enough discussion for one night. Go, return to your homes and when we meet again hopefully you'll all have enough wits about you not to do anything irrational like our dear Bella has done today."
Slowly, people ambled (or staggered, depending on how much wine they had consumed) from the room, leaving three people alone in the dining room who hadn't moved; Snape, Nagini and Lord Voldemort.
"Severus, I do believe for your next mission you'll need the assistance of Nagini and Regulus. Fill her in so she can tell Black when he next returns," Voldemort said quietly to the both of them before rising from his chair. "I don't know why I bother with these meetings sometimes," he mused aloud, bringing his hand up to his head as he made his way towards the exit. "They always give me such a frightful headache..."
Nagini gave a weak smile at her masters fading words before turning to face Snape, her bright blue eyes connecting with his hollow black ones instantly, yet she didn't cower like many others did, including other Death Eaters.
"Burke," Snape said curtly, getting straight down to business. "In one weeks time it will be a new moon, and I've been given the task of sneaking into the Muggle Prime Ministers office, find out just how much he knows about our existence, and then kill him. I need you and Black to keep sentry for me. The darkness of the night will be a bonus for us all, but you'll still need disguises in case there are Ministry members lurking around. I'm nearly done brewing a Polyjuice Potion for you both to take. If anyone stands in your way, you know what to do."
Once Snape had finished talking, Nagini merely nodded her head in understanding before lowering her gaze to fall upon the rapidly increasing puddle upon the tabletop. They spoke briefly about the other missions the Dark Lord had assigned and made an attempt at small chitchat before Snape announced that he should return to his other mission, a mission that was a complete secret to all the Death Eaters except for him and the Dark Lord. He bid her farewell, got up from his seat and then left the room, leaving Nagini quite alone with only the sounds of the storm outside wash over her like running water to keep her company.
Nagini didn't move for some time. She just sat there thinking about her upcoming mission, on whether or not Bellatrix had gone to assist her young cousin clean up the mess she had made in the first place, and just how long it would take for all the trees surrounding the old manor house to be ripped out with the bored giant sitting outside with nothing better to do than uproot them. She watched on with interest as the water from the ceiling successfully managed to drop down upon a lit candle, causing it to go out with a loud sizzle, casting the room further into darkness. She made no attempts to light it again, as a soft hissing sound from the darkness attracted her attention instead, causing her to smile slightly.
"I do not know what you are saying when you speak in Parseltongue, my Lord," Nagini said in a voice laced with mild humour. "Perhaps you were trying to curse me?"
"My dear Nagini, if I were trying to curse you, you would know it already. Parseltongue or not, you would know," came the soft voice of the Dark Lord from within the shadows. Nagini gave a weak chuckle as she heard the sounds of Voldemort's bare feet walking across the dusty wooden floorboards towards her. Nagini didn't know why Voldemort preferred not to wear shoes, but thought he should have, given the state of the house he was currently occupying and all the hidden surprises it might contain.
She didn't flinch as she felt the Dark Lords fingers gently brush through her silky black hair as he often did when they were alone together, just continued to watch the flames flickering on the nearby candles. "Was your mission successful?" Voldemort asked her softly as he trailed his fingers across her shoulder.
"Yes, My Lord. Maris Wellington from The Prophet and her family are dead."
"Excellent, I couldn't stand her Sunday column."
Nagini smiled again, knowing that this was not the real reason Voldemort had asked her to dispose of Maris and her family, but rather due to her last column which raised the issue of informing the Muggles to hunt with wizards to find and capture the Death Eaters. Lord Voldemort felt that killing the one who wrote it and her family was a strong message to all members of the Wizarding community that the Death Eaters still read the papers and that their ideas expressed within them would only be responded to with bloodshed. Millions of wizards would be waking up the next morning to retrieve their Monday paper and come face to face with a major headline that a Prophet writer and her family had been murdered at their home during a Sunday roast, and found not long after with the Dark Mark floating high and proudly over their house, only a few hours after the newspapers had been delivered to the magical community with the offending article in it.
A comfortable silence engulfed them both, with Voldemort still continuing to trail his fingers lightly across Nagini's hair and skin. Nagini didn't mind when her master did this, but she didn't necessarily enjoy it either. Although she served him and was as loyal as any of his other Death Eaters, Nagini couldn't help but feel that the Dark Lord had chosen her to be his new pet on a leash whenever he got her alone like this. She wished that he'd have chosen Bellatrix instead to be his uncomplaining toy, given that it was a commonly known fact that she only had eyes for the Dark Lord, and sadly not the man she had wed. However, Nagini knew deep down that if she told Voldemort that she did not like the extra attention he often gave her that she would be found weeks later, rotting in a ditch in the countryside by a passing Muggle.
A soft hiss sounded behind her and Nagini smirked a little, knowing Lord Voldemort was being clever again by speaking a language that she could not understand, and one which he would not translate for her. No matter how many times she'd asked in the past, he never did, so she was left to guess what it was he had said to her yet again.
As if reading her thoughts, the Dark Lord took his fingertips away from her hair and began to walk away from her, into the darkness on the other side of the room. As he walked, he said clearly to her in English that she should go home and prepare for her next mission, to which Nagini agreed to with a silent nod he wouldn't have noticed anyway.
Just before he was about to leave, Voldemort turned around slightly to face Nagini, seeing her pale skin appear slightly tanned in the candlelight, the flames reflections dancing happily across her sparkling blue eyes. He noticed her look of confusion, and with a wave of his hand all light was extinguished from the room, and it was only then that he grinned darkly, glad to have found such a useful toy that amused him so much as he turned back and continued on his way out of the room.