Author's note: This chapter was written in response to the Hogwarts Online daily prompt for September 7th.
An Irish Car Bomb. That's what the bartender had called the miserable concoction of Irish whiskey, Irish beer and Irish cream thrown together into a swirling, headache-inducing mix. It had done more than give Cady a headache. She'd never been sick like that in her life. When she found the boy who'd ordered her that drink before trying to take advantage of her, she'd committed her first murder. She'd smiled in satisfaction as his lifeless body fell to the ground, still clutching his beer bottle. Gray mist swam before her eyes before she fell onto the floor, gasping for breath.
"Must you only look at bad memories?" Cady asked.
Snape smiled. "Why is it that those who must learn from me insist on being such whiny children? You're supposed to learn to defend yourself, so do it. Legilimens!"
This time, she was ready for him. Throwing up a quick shield, she rebounded the spell back to Snape and received an image of him flying outside a high tower in the dark for her trouble. She didn't see much—just that a girl with dark red hair lay asleep in a bed just beyond the window—before she was abruptly pushed out of Snape's head.
"Not so fun when it's your memories, is it?" Cady asked. "Who was she?"
"None of your business," he snapped.
"Ah, you never got further than peeping through her window as she slept," Cady said. She thought back to what Voldemort had said to her the day she'd been introduced to Snape. "Did you write poetry for her?"
"I didn't write it for her, merely about her, and if she'd only consented to listen just once—" He stopped and turned away quickly. "Your lessons are over for today." His voice was remarkably even for someone who'd seemed on the verge of tears moments before. "Leave me. I have to wash my hair and do laundry."
There was a lie that needed to become truth if she ever heard one. Not that Cady would point out Snape's lack of hygiene when he was in this kind of mood. In the month since she'd become a Death Eater, learning to negotiate Snape's moods was one of the most useful skills she'd acquired. It had spared her having her food poisoned for laughing at an ill-timed joke about him and gotten her a fast and only slightly embarrassing healing session every time Bella took a stronger than usual disliking to her. Voldemort didn't help the situation by calling on Cady for advice or to accompany him on a mission more often than any of the other newer members. She was starting to think he liked it when Bella took out her frustration on her. Probably gave one or both of them some kind of sexual thrill.
She quickly pushed all thoughts of sex out of her mind as she descended the stairs to the first floor of the house. If the array of injured bodies was any indication, Bellatrix was in a bad mood again. If the woman read even the slightest out of place thought from her before Cady could effectively block her thoughts, she'd end up at Snape's mercy again—hopefully unconscious for however he chose to heal her.
"She's gone," Yaxley said as Cady looked around the drawing room. "Went to London to get her nails done and disembowel a few Muggles before dinner."
Cady nodded. "The Dark Lord?"
"He's watching his love monkey slide down his greased pole."
She stared at the other wizard as his words sank in. "I'm sorry? I have no idea what that means."
"You don't want to know," Yaxley stated. "Just understand that he can't be disturbed."
"But he wanted me to report to him as soon as my Occlumency lesson was over." Cady frowned. "He may have told you not to disturb him, but he'll want to see me."
She heard Yaxley cluck his tongue at her as she turned to go back up the stairs. She knew what that was about. From what Snape had said, nearly every wizard in Voldemort's inner circle had believed themselves to be important to him in some way, most suffering from their own delusions. Cady suffered no delusion. He'd told her how crucial her mission was to his ultimate success against Harry Potter and the wizards who supported him. She may not be more important than Bella, but she had more clout than the common minions who never had direct contact with him or suffered at the hands of his jealous girlfriend. As she approached the master suite, she heard voices shouting.
"Stop it! I don't need you to do anything!" Draco?
"If I've said it once, I've said it a million times. Don't send a boy to do a man's job. Let me show you how it's supposed to be done." Definitely Lucius.
What was going on in there? Several loud screeching sounds came to her through the heavy wooden doors before there was silence. Then music. Laughter. Voldemort. Cady raised her hand to knock.
"Come in!" Voldemort shouted before her hand connected with the door. The doors opened and Cady entered. She squinted at the change from the darkness of the hall to the red spotlight that shone down next to the bed. She hadn't been in this room in weeks and a great many changes had taken place. The most noticeable was the metal pole that had been installed several feet away from the bed. Behind it was a cage that was nearly six feet tall. Music seemed to be coming from the walls. What really caught Cady's attention was Draco Malfoy.
He was holding onto the pole—a greased pole, her stunned mind noted—and dancing around it slowly, as the slick substance covering it made it hard to get a firm hold. He wore nothing but tight white pants and a grimace that Cady supposed was the closest he could get to a smile during his odd performance. What was most disturbing was that he seemed to be sprouting a tail. A long, curving brown furry tail that at one point was the only thing keeping him from falling off the greasy pole. While Draco danced around the pole, Voldemort lounged on a chair just before him, smiling at the show. Lucius kneeled on the floor next to the Dark Lord, frowning as Draco performed without flaw.
"I'm done with this," Voldemort said after a few minutes. "Next part."
As she watched, Draco let go of the pole and walked over to a table. He quickly downed two potions. His swinging monkey tail disappeared only to be replaced by a second bulge in the front of his pants. Cady decided Yaxley was right. She really didn't want to know.
"My Lord, I—"
"Cady, I believe you made your best effort today, but you shall try again tomorrow and do better." Voldemort did not look at her. Nor what was he said a question. She didn't ask how he knew what she was going to say. She hadn't even felt the invasion, but knew that he'd read her as easily as he did everything, with more power and significantly less effort than any other wizard might have employed. The knowledge both frightened and inspired her.
"Yes, My Lord. I'll do what you need of me."
"Good," Voldemort said. "The next thing I'll need from you is to keep Bella entertained when she gets back from wherever she's run off to." His long-fingered hand fell to Lucius Malfoy's head. He tousled the other man's hair as he watched Draco spread the grease that had gotten onto him around his chest with shaking hands. "I trust you'll find a way to occupy her attention for a few hours."
"I...will," Cady said with shaking hands. "Thank you for trusting me with that," she said. She turned and ran out of the master suite. It was official. She would probably die that night. Without thinking, she headed back up to Snape's room. If the rumors were true, he'd be good for some mind-numbing drugs before she headed to her fate.