He could hardly believe his good fortune. The Dark Lord had ordered him to apply for a position at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, so he'd come to Hogsmeade, planning to go up to the school the very next day to meet with the Headmaster. It had not been his idea of good fortune at the time. In fact, he'd been fairly certain that no other order could have made him more miserable. But he had buried those thoughts deep, smirked, and declared it a brilliant idea. To have a spy within Hogwarts itself. And such a spy as he, whom Dumbledore knew to be obedient, even when he wanted nothing better than to disobey. Oh yes, what a brilliant idea. He'd been amazed that the sarcasm of his thoughts hadn't dripped from his ears and given him away.
Now, however, he'd discovered something better than applying at Hogwarts. Oh, he'd still apply. He might even still get the position. He shuddered unconsciously at the thought as he crept up the back stairs at the Hog's Head, a keen ear toward the kitchen in case Aberforth should notice his absence from the main room. But maybe, just maybe, he could overhear something important enough at tonight's little get-together that he wouldn't have to teach at Hogwarts. Maybe, just maybe, the Dark Lord would be distracted enough by whatever information he could glean tonight that he'd get off the hook, at least for a little while.
It was with this hope that he ascended the staircase in silence. Keeping to the shadows was pitifully easy, as that's all there was on these back stairs, where customers weren't meant to traipse. He'd seen the Headmaster go up fifteen minutes before, and at least one other Order member had made an appearance tonight as well. He didn't know why they'd be meeting in the Hog's Head, but he knew it'd be worth his time to find out. He suspected there were a lot more of them than there was of him, and tucked himself even further into the shadows as he came into the hallway proper, where the wall sconces gave off just enough light to keep a bloke from knocking his shin against the trunk outside the second door.
None of the doors in the hallway were open, which was inconvenient, but not unexpected. The Dark Lord would hardly have put him forth as a good potential spy if he was the sort to expect that doors would always be open and everyone would shout their secrets for him to hear, slowly, so he'd have time to write them down. He grimaced at his own poor humor at such a time and drew his wand, quickly casting a spell he'd taught himself as a child, when he wanted to listen in on his parents' fights from his hiding place in the attic. Suddenly conversations behind each of the doors became audible to him, though they overlapped one another - drowning each other out and making it difficult to tell which of them was the one he wanted to hear.
Carefully, he went from door to door, standing just outside of each in turn. His robes, slightly damp from the evening rain, had just enough time to fall entirely still when he stopped outside one door before swirling as he strode on to the next, where he would stop and concentrate again. Finally he exhaled in victory. He'd found them. Oddly, the gaggle of voices he'd expected weren't there. Just Dumbledore and a woman whose voice he didn't recognize. He stepped back from the door. Perhaps she was a new recruit and the others were meeting elsewhere in the building while she was being briefed beforehand?
Quickly he went through all the remaining doors, but recognized none of the despised Marauders, nor anyone else that the Dark Lord's intelligence network knew to be involved in the Order of the Phoenix. Aggravated, he returned to the door behind which Dumbledore and the mystery woman were conversing. He was about to recast the spell that enhanced his hearing when he realized he didn't need to. The woman's voice, much more raspy and intimidating than it had sounded earlier, seemed to be seeking him out in the hallway!
LORD APROACHES....BORN TO THOSE WHO HAVE THRICE
DEFIED HIM, BORN AS THE SEVENTH MONTH DIES...."
It was clearly a prophesy, but he hardly had time to get excited about it. He filed the information away for further use even as Aberforth Dumbledore's hand closed around the hood of his robes and pulled him away from the door, hard enough to knock him into the opposite wall.
It all got quite loud after that. He didn't hear the rest, though there was more, he knew. He struggled to get away, and probably said a few things that he'd regret when it came time for that job interview. Or maybe he wouldn't regret them. After all, he didn't want the job anyway, and this would be a good enough tidbit to offer the Dark Lord in exchange for maintaining his position as Potions Maker Extraordinaire for another year or so. Anything would be better than going back to Hogwarts, where he'd spent the worst seven years of his life.
He was tossed unceremoniously out into the rain, but he had what he wanted: something to offer the Dark Lord that would postpone his displeasure until another day. There were days when that was the best a Death Eater could aspire to, and this was one of those days.
The Death Eaters get 310 points. I'd give them more, since daintress was the only entrant and her story was so good, but that might be a bit biased of me. *insert evil cackle here*
Now, hopefully we'll have more participation in here?