|Scene Title||A Testament of Trust|
|Synopsis||Having received her message, Alistaire meets Siobhan in the greenhouses late at night. A much-needed discussion ensues.|
|Location||Hogwarts greenhouse #3|
|Date||November 24, 1994|
|Watch For||Opposite opinions on Hogwarts staff and something up Sio's … sleeve.|
|Logger||The BAD WOLF herself|
It's late. It's very late. It's so late that some brave souls might even consider it early. The moon - just past full - is only a little past its zenith and its borrowed rays light the greenhouses in secret patterns of shadow. Crouched in the third one down, and bent over a series of seemingly docile plants is a slender form cloaked in deepest magenta. Her hood is down, for once, letting the milky moonlight play in her bottle-blonde hair. There's a quiet determination to her movements, a sense of almost peace pervading the room. Despite this, there's a tightness around her eyes and a slump to her shoulders that wasn't there a week ago.
It's never a good idea to try and sneak into Hogwarts, not in times like this. But it's not like one can sneak in without the big cheese noticing, so Alistaire simply sends Dumbledore a brief patronus message to let him know that the Auror was visiting, but it wasn't official business, it was personal, and it wasn't anything Hogwarts' faculty needed to worry about. That done, Alistaire dismounts his yellow-painted broomstick and slings it over his shoulder as he boldly enters the school's gates and walks across the lawns, almost basking in the moon's light as he heads toward the greenhouses. His steps are light, only mildly hurried, as he enters the most dangerous of the lot, brushing a questing vine away from his shoulder as he goes looking for the person who asked him to visit. "Siobhan?" he queries quietly, for once showing a bit of understanding that his usual breezy greeting isn't appropriate right now.
The past nights she's been down here, Siobhan has been left undisturbed. So it is that the voice - even such a familiar one - has her wand drawn. Quickly she rises and turns, aiming the tiny piece of willow at the chest of… "Alistaire," she breathes, lowering her wand immediately, though she doesn't put it away. Inhaling deeply, she nods to some internal commentary and gestures to one of the short stools near her workspace. "Sit?" she invites him quietly before turning back to the… feeding of her batch of plants. "I'll be finished in a moment."
It's a testament to the trust between these two people that Alistaire doesn't go for his wand even when one is drawn on him, something that Moody would have done, but then Moody probably draws his wand at the sight of a dustbunny. When invited to sit, he moves forward and does so, kneeling next to the seventh-year. However, despite her tension, he reaches into his voluminous coat's pocket and pulls out a rose on a stem, the thorns carefully removed, a bright blue in shade. It's obviously been grown and not conjured, and he waits patiently until she notices it or is ready to accept it.
Moody…what a livewire subject right now. Siobhan, still reeling from her surprise, focusses intently on her work. She's been working with these specimens a while now, so she doesn't even have the excuse of wariness anymore. They'd no sooner snap at her than a thestral colt would attack his dam. When a chance look in his direction forces her gaze on that rose, Sio's face falls and she sits back on her heels. "Ali…" she begins, only to stop, holding her hand out in a 'wait' gesture. "Don't give me that. Not, not until you know." Realizing that such an opening leaves her little choice but to continue. "I…did something I'm really ashamed of," she continues. It would be lovely to waffle about and beat around the bush for the next ten minutes, but there's a little of the Lion in her yet. "I snogged one of the boys in my year." There, now it's out. "A Hufflepuff from my Potions class." Now that it is out, she can't seem to stop. "We'd been brewing and I hit my head and woke up in the Hospital Wing and he was sitting right there and he just seemed…like it was a magnet pullin' me in and he argued but I didn't listen and then he brought me some water and it was like…like I was comin' out of the Imperius or a bad dream or a haze or somethin' only he was still there and I want to say I didn't mean it but I did it and that has to mean something and I feel like an arse and a half and I wouldn't blame you for being cross at all but I had to tell you 'cause it's been eatin' at me an'…" She has to pause for breath there and when she realizes she's been babbling, she bites her lower lip and for the first time meets his gaze. "And I am. I'm sorry."
Alistaire listens to the initial comment, then the intense spewed sentence, rocking back on his heels. His brown eyes fight to conceal the hurt, but she already knows him too well, although his grows into a most impressive poker face by the time her story spins its way to the end of the rinse cycle. And after she's done there's something of a silence as he considers all angles of this story. And there's enough suspicion in there that he considers that perhaps it was the Imperius. However, this is the lady who's managed to get him, at least for a little bit, out of his grief-driven funk. Looking down at the flower for a few moments, his brows furrowed, he finally decides to give her the benefit of the doubt. "What were you doing in potions class? What did that greasy git have you brewing?" Nope, doesn't like Snape, this one. Not surprising, since he used to be yearmates with Potter, Black, and Lupin.
Siobhan does know him too well for that trick to work, and the hurt she sees in beloved brown eyes tears her up inside. Still, when he insults her favorite instructer, her already frayed nerves sing with irritation. "Now stop that!" she snaps, eyes flashing. "It's not his fault, alright? Amortentia is one of the things I may have to brew for NEWTs. He didn't do anything." She seems to deflate then, rolling back to sit on her bum and crossing her legs Indian-style in front of her. Not knowing the theory At All behind the potion, she chews her lower lip and hazards a question; even if he's mad at her, he's probably the best source of information she has available. "Why would mine smell like you?"
Alistaire can't help but dislike Snape. He had 7 years of listening to the Marauders talk smack about him and saw how he reacted to the Marauders. "There's something to be said for acceptable safety procedures," is his only comment on that matter, not a direct slam on the professor, who could, if discovering them, kick the Auror to the moon. When asked the other question, he looks away. "It's supposed to make you become obsessed with the person you're… attracted to." His frown is quite deep as he adds, "It also makes you extremely excited and possibly dangerously unstable." Then he asks, "Did you drink some?"
And Siobhan can't help but like her Head of House. In a school completely biased against her for the color of her crest, he's been the one defense she can always count on. "Well yeah, he had to have some way to make sure we'd done them right." This seems eminantly practical to her. "He mixed up the vials and we each drank one. The younger years made the antido…tes." The antidote which she didn't take because she'd knocked herself out against the corner of a table after being dumped over by the same Hufflepuff she snogged. Tucking her legs up to her chest, she buries her face in the 'v' between her knees. "Oh Circe…More things messin' around inside my head." And that's a touchy subject.
Alistaire looks down at the plants she's tending, then to his odd blue rose, and then sighs quietly, rising to his feet. "So, you smelled me when you took this potion, and then snogged someone else and wound up in the hospital wing." He thinks he's got all the events straight. "I suppose the real question is whether you're still under the influence, or if you still want that other bloke." He makes no harsh words, his intonation flat, almost bland, as if he's working himself back into that unemotional shell she first found him in.
That flat intonation, that blandness which is so incredibly opposite the passionate man she's come to know and care for… It hurts, twisting in her chest until even breathing is hard. "Considerin' that after he brought me that glass of water I literally sicked up over the side of my bed and haven't been able to look at him since…" She trails off and sighs, offering one final piece of information; in case it's relevent. "His potion smelled like me… Which, accordin' to you, means he fancies me an' I sicked up after snoggin' him… Oh shite." She doesn't lift her head the entire time, probably because there are tears she doesn't want him to see tracking down her cheeks. "I've gone and ruined everything, now haven't I?"
"Not with me," Alistaire confirms quietly, glancing over at his bright yellow broomstick for a moment. It /appears// to be an antique racing model, but the paint seems to bely that image. "Question is, I suppose, if you're interested in him. The potions seem to indicate otherwise, but potions can be messed with." He pointedly doesn't make any accusations as to whom could have done it. "The potion doesn't create love, Siobhan," he finally says with another sigh. "It creates infatuation and obsession. Whatever… whatever we have," he continues, "started long before you brewed that potion. That hasn't changed. Unless you want it to."
"I don't." Her voice is quiet, but firm. Her face lifts so that it's her chin resting on her knees, but she's still not looking at him; she instead stares out a glass wall and watches the nighttime scenery. "But after this week…" She heaves a heavy sigh, ignorant of the moonbeams highlighting streaks of wetness on her face. "I kissed someone I don't love because of a potion and even though it wasn't to hurt you at all, it did." Oh yes, love. She saw that. "I fought and lost to the Imperius curse." And she fought hard. "I hate having things in my head, especially when they're changin' me, makin' me do things. It reminds me too much of - " She cuts herself off harshly there, and her expressive face closes down. "But no matter how much I tore at it, clawed at it, defied it…" And Moody will testify to this. "I ended up completely in someone else's control." She shudders then. "I think I'm startin' t'get it, Ali…"
"It would only hurt me if you did it willingly," Alistaire says, once more crouching next to her and staring intently into her eyes, not letting her get away with avoiding his gaze. "Look at me," he adds more gently, reaching out with a big old thumb and brushing the tears off her cheek as he cradles her chin in his hand. "Doing something like that because of a potion isn't /real/. It's cheating. It's bad for the other guy, because you don't love him, and he might get hurt because he might think you do." And then when she spills her guts about the Imperius curse, he says softly, "There's no shame in having lost to that wretched curse. A lot of fully adult witches and wizards couldn't, and /didn't/ throw it off last time. And I'll wager that there might even be one or two teachers here who can't. I don't think Moody goes too far, and I agree with the notion that you need to know what you're facing, not hide from it… even as much as I hate how much pain this has caused you."
Shifting her gaze to meet his, Siobhan leans into his hand. Her eyes close for a long moment as she soaks up the comfort such a simple touch brings, but when he speaks again, she opens them again; her gaze is unwavering now. His soft, earnest words sink in well, slowly but surely soothing the agitation, guilt and worry that have been eating at her over the past week. "It's not that he made me do anythin' bad, even." Her voice is a little hoarse and she clears her throat before continuing. "It's just the bein' made to do anythin' I don't want to an' not bein' able t'say no… What if it told me to kill Jack or Da or you?" There's real fear in her eyes now. Almost terror, even. "I'd never be able to live with myself…"
"Which is the whole point of Imperius," Alistaire replies, a bit bitterly, but not at her. "To make someone else into your puppet. It's a /vile/ curse, and if not for the fact that you need to know about it, I'd be beating down the headmaster's door." He reaches out as if to take her into his arms, crouched as they are. "The things we have to do to protect ourselves," he says quietly, sorrowfully. "And sometimes that's not even enough."
Sio isn't crouching, she's sitting. So when Ali reaches for her, she scoots closer and leans into his embrace. It isn't logical at all, but there's a sense of safety to sitting like this; as if nothing that's so shaken her this week can touch her with him here. The tension in her shoulders, the tightness around her eyes, the sense of ever-present wariness just melts away from her in a matter of minutes and she snakes an arm around his waist in response. "Is there ever a way to beat it?" she whispers. "Some way to…I dunno, shield my mind?" Her nose wrinkles up in thought. "Don't suppose Occlumency would help much, would it? I mean, that's for keepin' people from seein' inside your head, not controllin' it…"
"The best defense against the Imperius is a strong mind, willpower, basically," Alistaire replies as he tucks her head under his chin, getting comfortable with her against him. "Being willing to fight for your own identity and for control of yourself helps too. And sometimes, it just takes practice. Unfortunately, Moody will most likely keep testing you lot with it to give you that practice." It's something Alistaire hates, but he can't argue with its necessity. "I'd give almost anything to spare you this torment."
This answer seems to amuse Siobhan, because she snorts a little, leaning her cheek against the canvas of his coat. "So y'mean my bein' stubborn finally has a good side?" The soft rhythm of his heartbeat. Still, it seems odd to hear only one, as if someone with as much feeling as Alistaire should have two at least. "I don't much like it either." Nope, she corrects that. "I don't like it at all, but…but I'd rather it be Mad-Eye than a Death Eater after my family." Something in the way she says that seems to include Ali in that group. The young Slytherin sits cradled against him in companionable silence for a time, breathing in the Auror's uniquely burnt scent and relaxing by degrees. "I looked at the rules, by the way." New topic, apparently. Something Important too, if it had Sio cracking a rulebook. "I don't know if you can come 'round to the first two Tasks, 'cause they're pretty shut up about 'em, but you're clear for the Third an' so long as I invite you, there's no reason you can't come with me to this Ball thing. If you want to, anyway." She chuckles softly. "Do you even dance?"
Considering his current circumstances, it's surprising Ali only has one heart, because he does need two, if only to acknowledge the depth of his feelings for this young woman without damaging the memory of his late wife and children. "Mad-Eye's scary as all hell, but one thing he does know is how to keep you alive and to help you arm yourselves against those who won't care about rules or etiquette or any of that, people who will do anything and everything to you to torment you or your family or…" and then he breaks off, shaking his head once. No, he won't bring his mood down with that now. Enough so that the question about the dance is kinda just out there. "Er, what?"
As his rambling nature carries him down a tangeant that would not end well, Siobhan's first instinct is to use the hand wrapped around his waist to rub soothing circles over his back. The texture of the canvas makes her palm tingle oddly, but the motion is soothing for her as well, and so even when she realises what she's doing, she continues. That oh-so-eloquent response draws a soft giggle from her lips. "I said, do you even dance?"
"That's what I thought you said," Alistaire replies, baffled for mere moments. "Of course I can dance," he says a bit scornfully. "I was married before, you know," he reminds her, but for once not with the usual pain of his past. "There were dances then too. And I'm not that old," he blusters a bit, almost pouting with the thought.
Hearing him speak of his family without the pain that always seems to accompany those memories sends a thrill of delight through Siobhan. That's definitely progress! "Just because you were married doesn't mean you were any good at dancin'! You should see some of my mum's brothers. They're horrid." Blowing a bit of blonde fringe out of her face, Sio settles a little, though she's still grinning brightly against his chest. "Even if you can't dance, would you mind very much bein' my date for the Yule Ball?" She tries to make light of it, but there's a tremor of nervousness in her voice even so. "If only to save Crouch from a heart-attack, which I'm almost positive he'd have if I opened the dancin' on my own."
Alistaire's quiet for afar too long. Or else he's teasing her something fierce. Or he's just thinking. "I learned to dance in the past," he finally says, shaking himself out of the reverie. "As for being your date…" he trails off, brow furrowed as he mulls the reactions, what this might do to her, what it might do to him. Most people would freak, he knows this. And the coward in him would love to hide from all of that. But he's a Gryffindor, and he can face this. He must sometime, so better now than latter, he supposes with a shrug. "If that's what you want, sure," he finally agrees. "Although I think Barty Crouch'd have a heart attack seeing you dancing with an old geezer like me."
That's Siobhan's plan, anyway; face the possible bad publicity on their own terms, rather than on someone else's. "First of all," she starts, using her free hand to swat at his shoulder playfully. "You're nowhere near old. My Da is old. Dumbledore is old. You, are not old." That smile isn't going anywhere now. "And it might do him some good to have a bit of a scare. Like Moody says; Constant Vigilance!" She even manages to mimic the crotchety old Auror's grumbling brogue, but subsenquently collapses in a fit of giggles. "And yes. That's what I want. After all, I did a lot of work gettin' a tasteful dress with mum breathin' down my neck. It'd be a shame if there wasn't anyone there for me to show it off to." Oh yes, she's a terribly incorrigible flirt; especially with this one particular Auror.
Alistaire can't help but giggle like a little schoolgirl for a second about the Moody impression, his eyes twinkling a little bit. But then she mentions a dress, and his eyes go wide. "I will hex anyone who so much as looks at you funny in dress robes or a dress or whatever," he says immediately and a little bit jealously. Not quite possessively, not yet. "I suppose that means I should bug that fop in Hogsmeade and get some dress robes." He rubs his chin thoughtfully. "Haven't needed any since, y'know."
Rolling her eyes with fond exasperation, Siobhan pokes him in the side. "You're just as bad as Jack." Her voice is light and you can tell she doens't mean it; the idea actually appeals to that nugget of girlish ego that everyone has and most try to deny exists. "Hmm," she leans back just enough to give him a speculative once-over. "Nah, what you've got on is fine." Settling back against his chest, she gives it a bit of thought and has quite a hard time imagining him out of the suit and coat. That thought degenerates quickly, derailed only when she remembers where Mortimer decided to hide her wand, since the dress is sleeveless. Picturing Ali's face were she to need this sends her into another fit of laughter, seemingly out of the blue. It has her leaning on him utterly as her body shakes with suppressed - mildly hysterical - mirth.
Alistaire starts to protest that he is most /certainly/ not as bad as Jack, and then as he's beginning to shake his head at the notion of wearing his usual work kit to the Yule Ball, she collapses into giggles, or quiet ones nonetheless, and he's utterly befuddled. "What…?" he asks and then goes, "What!?!?" the next time, still as dazed and confused as before.
Reaching her free hand up to brush at the tears of laughter bubbling over her lower lids, Siobhan does her best to catch her breath. Using her teeth, she pulls at her sleeve, showing him the two thin leather bands that hold her tiny willow wand securely to the inside of her arm. It's a testament to her trust of him that she does so without any hesitation. "I didn't want to show this around, since it's one of the 'aces up my sleeve'." Literally. "And the dress is sleeveless, so Morty had to come up with a new place to store my wand." Reaching into her pocket, she pulls out a small bit of fabric and drops into his hand a green, black and silver garter; and waits for the shoe to drop, grinning like mad.
Alistaire looks down at the garter with massive noncomprehension for a while, his brow still furrowed. "Unless you're wearing only your knickers," he begins, his ears starting to turn red, "then how are you going to get at this in the middle of a fight? Unless…" And his eyes travel over her slim form speculatively, and the shoe doesn't drop, the anvil does. Along with his jaw. "You're not wearing a slit up the leg dress, are you?" he asks, definite note of concern there.
Wait for it… Wait for it… Aha! Siobhan's patience is well-rewarded. "Not…exactly…?" Turning her face up towards his, that million-watt grin has a definite edge of sheepishness to it. Maybe if she smiles charmingly enough, he'll stop being concerned.
"You don't exactly use a garter down your front, which is actually the most logical place to have one, if one were a lady," Alistaire rambles on, now considering the matter a bit less dorkishly and yet… more so, since he's switched off his emotions and mild embarrassment and considered the situation in a more logical fashion. "Or if you tied your hair up in a knot, you could use it to hold your hair in place… Or use two wands just in case…"
Perhaps she channels Tonks a moment, because Siobhan's first reaction is to smack her forehead with her open palm. "Ali…" Reaching out, she snags the garter back and stands up, pushing her cloak back over one shoulder and stepping into the stretchy fabric. Pulling it up to sit around her thigh - not quite as high as it normally would sit, but high enough she does have to raise her uniform skirt some - she smacks her wrist against her thigh and slides the wand along the outside of her leg. It's held in with the elastic and she turns to showcase the solution. "See? Simple."
He may be a widower, but he's not dead, and watching her demonstrate her clever idea leaves poor Alistaire looking at something he ought not to be, not yet. However, he can't stop looking, until he forces himself to do so and regain his gentlemanly behavior. "That, er, works for your uniform, but will it work for an actual dress?" he queries. "Unless I'm, erm, missing something here."
"Do you wanna be surprised or not?" she teases, glancing over at him from under her fringe. Siobhan's not exactly what one would call…experienced, but she knows enough to recognize that look and it takes her by surprise. Quickly then, she re-sheaths her wand and pulls her cloak back around her; the garter is left where it is for now. Settling back down against him, she attempts another grin, but it's shaky. "It'll work, I promise."
"If you're sure…" Alistaire replies, although it's obvious from his expression, now devoid of 'typical male stupidity', that he's a touch doubtful. "Hopefully, however, there's nothing to worry about. I mean, Dumbledore will be there, and I can't imagine anyone being stupid enough to try to pull something right under his nose."
"Dumbledore's been pulled from the Wizengamot." Matter-of-fact, that is; seasoned with just a hint of dryness. "He couldn't do a thing t'stop the Toad takin' over and if the rumors are true, Voldemort's been in this school twice in the last four years. So you'll hafta excuse my lack of faith." Never been much of one to put faith in the old coot; she's seen him favor his own house and manipulate the entire school with a few choice words. Speaking of Crazy… "We're supposed to find out what we need for the First Task tomorrow and then the next day we go at it."
"Well, I don't know him all that well, not like best buddies or anything," Alistaire replies, a touch defensively, but not overly so. "But all I'll say is that perhaps you could consider giving him a little bit more credit… as for the tasks, I don't know anything about them… wish I did, to be honest, so maybe I could offer advice, but that's just me being overprotective again…"
"Well I don't know Snape all that well, not like best buddies or anythin'." Siobhan is deliberately mimicking him for effect. "But all I'll say is that maybe you could consider givin' him a little bit more credit…" Arching an eyebrow - an expression she picked up in its entirety from Snape himself - she turns to watch his face for a reaction. It's then that his comment on the task settles in and her face softens. "Hey, don't worry so much, yeah?" It's a gentle request, her hand lifting to brush tender knuckles against his scruffy cheek. "I'll be fine, Ali. Promise. I'll even come into Hogsmeade Sunday and let you check for yourself if you'd like?" Means a little less sleep, but if it'll put his mind at rest, it's worth it.
"I'd appreciate that," Alistaire replies seriously, taking her up on the offer without any hesitation. "And I get to see you again properly too. And we can celebrate your achievement in the task," he adds with a nod to himself, already assuming that Siobhan will pretty much own the whole thing. And he completely overlooks or ignores the comment about making concessions for Snape. It's a ton different between what he knows of Snape and what anyone knows of Dumbledore. "Speaking of the teachers, I probably shouldn't linger here… while I'm quite admirable at hexing people who offend me, Snape is a teacher here, and I'm not, so his authority overrides mine."
Frowning at his lack of response, Siobhan sighs and stands. Hands reach under her cloak to brush off her skirt and legs; the floor in here is filthy! "Don't count your dragons before they hatch, Ali. I'm up against that Hufflepuff." Yeah, the one she snogged. "And the damn kid's good at Potions. Not to mention a Prefect." She's not underestimating anyone. "Plus a Ravenclaw whiz-kid and one of those irritatingly luck Lions. Nothin' is in the bag yet." She grins over at him and waits for him to stand as well before stepping in to embrace him properly, burying her face in the place between his neck and shoulder. "You due for any more…'vacations' soon?"
Alistaire rises to his feet and promptly gathers his lady up in his arms, burying his head in her hair and simply inhaling the scent of whatever shampoo she uses, what a silly old fool he is. "I can get time off more readily than you can," he observes with a sigh. "But Hogsmeade weekends, I'll make sure I'm free. Trading owls isn't the same as talking to you in person," he admits freely.
White tea leaf musk. It's the oil she uses on her skin and hair and it permeates her scent. When Ali inhales, that'll be what he'll associate with her. "It really isn't." That she can and will agree to readily. And, while he's skillfully avoided the meat of her question, she at least has a promise for Hogsmeade. As much of one as he can make her, anyway. "I'll see you again on Sunday then." Not too many days away. Pulling away reluctantly, she leans up and brushes her lips against his in an almost hesitant good-night kiss. Okay, so maybe she's not as unaffected as she seems, but it's still an improvement on even an hour before.
"Now that's a promise to look forward to," he murmurs before he accepts the kiss she gives him, and then doesn't yet retreat, for he has a kiss of his own to give her, the kind that will make the wait until Sunday utter torture… for both of them. And it's with deep reluctance that he releases her from the kiss and his embrace. "Until then?" he asks, while internally, the mischievious boy murmurs, "Yup, still got it…"
Dazed and dealing with a swimming head, Siobhan stumbles back a step and blinks over at him owlishly. "Bloody hell…" she breathes out, running a hand through her hair. She shakes her head to clear it, her slow, sexy smile - the one she saves for just such occasions - spreading to light up her face as she nods once. "Yep!" That 'p' gets popped in a fond imitation of the wizard standing across from her. "Seeya Sunday, Ali. Wish me luck!" And with that, she swaggers - yes swaggers - on out towards that door.