Snape pondered the fates of the former Death Eaters as he continued to hold the scroll, noting with no little resentment that it had taken less than two months for most of them to completely infiltrate the Ministry. The most bloodthirsty were now what Scrimgeour termed “consultants,” doubtless earning more galleons than they could spend while nubile, upwardly-mobile aurors vied to nibble on their earlobes (at least as Snape envisioned it). Lucius especially had displayed a stunning talent for bureaucracy, and was almost immediately appointed to the utterly useless position of “Undersecretary for International Magical Cooperation.” Snape had read about it in the Prophet, as well as all of Malfoy’s attempts at formulating equally useless but important-sounding agendas, councils and interminable seminars. No doubt even the most dedicated of civil servants would have preferred Cruciatus than be forced to endure a meeting of Lucius Malfoy’s Strategic Planning Committee. Snape almost pitied them, but they had brought it upon themselves.
Bellatrix was the only one who had displayed any originality. She was now calling herself “Madame Lestrange,” and had taken up residence in the prime rental space over Ollivander’s as a paid clairvoyant-slash-fortune teller. The previous renter (the owner of some sort of beauty shop) had mysteriously been forced to break her lease. She was at St. Mungo’s now, Snape had heard, being treated for some sort of invasive necrotic condition.
Despite himself, however, Snape found that he was not completely averse to meeting with Lucius. Lupin and Dumbledore seemed hell-bent on the theory that the former Death Eaters wanted to marry him off, and though Snape doubted this, he could not help being curious. Snape was not theoretically opposed to marriage, so long as such an endeavor was undertaken with logic and self-interest as its guiding principles. The trouble with marriage was that most people married for love. Most people were also idiots, so far as Snape could tell.
However Snape actually approved of the Slytherin model of marriage. The more significant marriages amongst Slytherin had the character of monarchical arrangements, made to cement connections (whether financial or otherwise) between families, or to ensure pureblood offspring. A bit cold-blooded, yes, but no more so than the machinations of British monarchy. As Snape did not consider himself capable of romantic love, finding himself in a loveless marriage was not an issue for him. He did however consider himself quite capable of enjoying a lavish lifestyle and a higher social position. Even the required offspring could be tolerated, so long as there were several nannies on hand to do the actual work.
Of course, he was not entirely impressed with the manners and character of the typical rich, pureblood Slytherin wife. Narcissa, he supposed, was the best of a bad lot in that regard. But though she was undoubtedly rich, and he supposed some considered her beautiful, Narcissa was spoiled, self-centered, and inbred. She seemed to him in human form one of those shivery, miniscule dogs that spent most of their time alternately fawning for attention and then snapping without warning. Ah well, Snape supposed that in such circumstances wives could be avoided as well.
Finally, because any answers would doubtless begin with the information inside the scroll, Snape slowly began to unroll it. He was not at all pleased with what he found, and as he read, his initial expression of disinterested reluctance began to curdle into a furious scowl.
It has been too long.
Draco tells me you are Potions Master again. I myself am very much enjoying my new position here at the Ministry. And I find, Severus, that I am in a position to do you a great deal of good.
To that end I would like to meet with you privately.
I will be at Cordial Spirits, Monday evening at seven.
Trusting you will be prompt.
Snape suddenly felt twenty years’ worth of animosity percolating behind his temples. Even after everything, Lucius was still as vain and self-important as ever. Snape stood and began to pace angrily, talking to no one in particular.
“This is not an invitation. It’s a summons! To some bloody civil servant’s pub in London, no less! As if I don’t have better things to do on a Monday night than to Apparate halfway across Britain!” (Well, he didn’t, but that was not the point.)
At that moment, words could not express Snape’s loathing of Lucius Malfoy. Snape knew that he was Lucius’ better in nearly every way, but Malfoy, unthinkably rich and of pure blood, still managed to make him feel like a cur at the side of a dinner table, waiting for his master’s scraps.
Snape continued to rail. “No. No more! I will not meet Lucius Fucking Malfoy! Not at Cordial Spirits, not anywhere, not ever!”
Very slowly he crumpled up the scroll into a tight little ball and placed it on the floor. Then he pointed his wand at it, cast ‘Incendio’ and watched it burn.
“Let him come to me…” Snape said, his voice surprisingly loud and commanding as the scroll burned to ashes at his feet. “Let the bastard come to me.”