Special Guest Star: Lily Evans Potter
|Scene Title||An Interminable Misadventure|
|Synopsis||Siobhan fetches Harry, Ron and Hermione to do what she thinks amounts to a good deed all 'round. Things go a bit south from there. Literally.|
|Location||Room of Requirement / Chamber of Secrets|
|Date||November 07, 1995|
|Watch For||Temper flares, Parseltongue, Weird Magic|
|Logger||I am the Bad Wolf|
Monday evening - just a scant hour after the dinner rush - finds a very strange sight. Professor Noble - newest and youngest of Hogwarts' staff - slips through the portrait hole and silently beckons to Potter, Granger and Weasley to follow her out. Assuming McGonagall has already said something to them about an errand with her - whether true or not - she doesn't wait for them long. Instead, she moves back out to stand in the hallway to continue her rather nice conversation with the Fat Lady - with whom she is apparently well-acquainted.
Harry is seated, almost horizontal, in one of the overstuffed chairs of the common room. The arm of the chair has a length of parchment draped over it, the title of an essay and his name written at the top - and that's it. The opportunity to do something non-academic is seized immediately, climbing to his feet and leaving his homework behind as he strides across the Common Room and waits by the portrait hole for the other two-thirds.
Well, Harry's homework is a sight better than Ron's. He has nothing written on it for the actual essay, no title, and even his name isn't complete — it's only got "Ron Wea" scrawled across the top. Looks like he gave up early on this one… and besides, there's always Hermione to copy offsorry, get help fromwhen it's time for the actual essay to be due. Even so, he seizes the opportunity as much as Harry does and throws his quill onto the table, rising out of his chair and following his friend over to the portrait hole.
As is usual, Hermione is working on schoolwork. Buried in a stack of books, she scratches furiously at a parchment, her brow furrowed in concentration. Obviously it's longer than both Harry and Ron's and she is determined to make sure that neither of them will copy off of her this time. It takes a few blinks for Hermione to realize that she's being beckoned and a few more moments after that to follow. In fact, even she's standing she's finishing a train of thought and quickly crosses a t before she blows on it to dry and puts her quill down. She's at the back of the train of Gryffindors pouring out of the portrait hole.
"I'm sure it'll be fine, dear, you'll see." The Fat Lady tuts sympathetically and looks as if she'd be reaching to pat someone's hand, but the awkwardness of that moment is prevented by the timely exit of the three necessary students. "Come on, you lot. Follow me." Looking just a touch relieved, Siobhan waves a farewell to the portrait and beckons the Gryffindors to follow her, violet teaching robes swirling out behind her as she turns and starts moving toward the stairs. "What did Professor McGonagall tell you about where we're going?" Her demeanor is cheerful enough - though perhaps a touch strained - as she leads the merry party out to the staircases just as the one she wants grinds to a halt in front of their landing. "I would have brought you sooner, but it's tough to find a time when I don't have to give detention and neither of you - " she glances over her shoulder at first Ron and then Harry " - have one."
Description set to base open_robes.
"Just that we're meant to go with you when you show up," Harry begins, keeping his tone at the 'I'm-talking-to-a-teacher-who-isn't-Snape' level of respectfulness, "And that's about it." When Siobhan isn't look at them, however, he glances sidelong at Ron and rolls his eyes in a manner that speaks volumes in the indecipherable language of adolescent facial expressions.
"Yeah," offers Ron to the conversation. Deep. He's walking alongside Harry as the trio follows Siobhan, offering a glance to Hermione as they do so. Only when Harry glances at Ron does the youngest Weasley son look back, nodding slightly at the eyeroll. He's well aware of the message being conveyed with that eyeroll. "So what are we doing?" he directs toward Siobhan.
<Public> Sekrit Keeper Fidelius rolllls.
Pulling up the rear, Hermione catches up with a few long strides and eyes both Harry and Ron. As Harry answers her first and Ron asks the question, she remains strangely silent about the whole situation. It's strange - but what hasn't been in their tenure at Hogwarts. At the eye roll Harry gives to Ron, she merely smirks before schooling her expression again.
Siobhan can't quite care enough to suppress the wicked grin that curves her lips - after all, with her facing forward and the boys too busy eye-rolling each other, why bother? "You are going to learn a very valuable lesson tonight." Her voice and her gaze softens just a little as Harry gets one more wayward glance. "And a great gift." At the top of the stairs, she turns them down a hallway they might find rather familiar. "But first, I have a question for you, Harry." Coming from a Slytherin professor, this might seem a touch ominous. Coming from the Slytherin who fought Ministry goons by his side last year, it might be just a little less so. "How good is your imagination?" She pauses long enough for an answer and then continues as she makes a turn down a hallway headed for a blank wall.
"Imagine that Ginny Weasley fell in love with Draco Malfoy." It wasn't hard to see the two of them maing cow-eyes at each other last year, not when she spent so much time with Ginny. "And then when Malfoy was a bastard to you, she tried to stop him but you lost your temper and snapped at her that you could take care of yourself. What if after that she stopped talking to you and you had to watch as she married Malfoy and started a family with him? The the Dark Lord sets out to kill them all for betrayal - or whatever - and you almost manage to stop it, to save them, but you're not in time. It wasn't enough. What if the only one left alive was their tiny baby? Would you protect that child, even if it meant it would one day grow up to hate you?" Oh, look. Here's the blank wall.
Harry, in the process of joking around silently with Ron, immediately shuts up when Ginny is mentioned. He makes a sort of 'she's lost her mind' face at his best friend, shrugging his shoulders and generally doing his best to gloss over that point. Of course, then the Professor pushes on with a story that makes him knit his brows. And then he frowns. The dots aren't joined, but parts of the story are familiar enough that it strikes a raw nerve, causing his teeth to clench as he speaks darkly through them, "I don't know."
Turning his head in the direction of Sio, no, snapping his head in her direction, he gives her a slightly confused look. Even if it is directed at the back of her head. "What are you playing at?" he says, through his tone isn't nearly as dark as Harry's. For all the Weasley knows, Siobhan is just pushing buttons aat him. "I really can't see Ginny falling for a bloke like that… especially since Mum and Dad would probably kick her out of the family." However, the story goes on, and Ron falls silent by the time Siobhan reaches the blank wall, turning his head slightly to glance at Hermione with eyebrows raised.
While Siobhan tells the story, Hermione listens. Her arms are crossed and she waits until Harry answers until she speaks up. After all, the original question is for Harry. With a roll of her eyes at Ron's answer, she sighs. He did look at her to open this door, after all. "Ron, she's talking about the night when Voldemort came for Harry." Then, she turns back to the young professor. "And you're insinuating that this story is about someone we already know and whom Harry dislikes. Since you're saying Ginny is going to marry a Slytherin, it must be a Slytherin who fell in love with Harry's mother or father." She has her suspicions, especially since she's a bright with and then she puts her hands on her hips. "And of course Harry would help that child." Despite his own answer of 'I don't know' she has a more optimistic idea of her friend.
Turning to face the three of them, Siobhan feels the comfort of the castle's solid presence at her back and takes strength from it. "A family who would disown one of their children because of who they choose to love is no family at all." It's a sharp comment directed at the redhead, but she leaves it at that. The point was the metaphor, which apparently - as expected - only Hermione manages to pick up on. "Why in Circe's name aren't you in Ravenclaw, Granger?" It's a compliment, really, considering Siobhan's previous clashes with the girl. "But you're right. Five points to Gryffindor for actually remembering that things are not always as they appear to be." Turning around, she reaches her right hand up above her head, stroking her palm down the stone wall. A very keen observer might notice tiny swirls of golden smoke around her fingertips, but they dissolve so quickly into the surface that it would be difficult. "Just bear that in mind over the next hour or so, please. So little is as it appears." A door grows from the wall as if the stone is something organic instead of inert. Opening it, Siobhan gestures for the three younger teens to preceed her inside.
Inside the room it is dark, but cozy. A huge fire crackles in a fireplace and while Ron and Harry may recognize elements of the stone walls, draperies and carvings from the Slytherin Common Room, the worn, lumpy couch and faded leather armchair by the fire are complete unknowns. The true centerpiece of the room, however, is a painting in a gilded frame, perched on a sturdy wooden easel. The subject of said painting is a woman with softly curling red hair, a pretty face and a pair of sparkling emerald eyes - brought out with true artistry by the soft green jumper she wears. She smiles and there is love plain and open in her face. "Hello, Harry."
As Harry steps into the room, he glances around - why would anyone require to be in the Slytherin Common Room? But he's got an eye for details when things turn strange, and he's only just noticing the painting when it begins to speak to him. He's slack-jawed for a moment, blinking and unable to speak. But the room they're in and the house of the person, who brought them there, regardless of good deeds, causes him to frown, "This isn't funny."
Stepping in behind Harry, Ronald takes a look around at the decor before slowly turning to Harry. "Hey, isn't this…" He falls quiet once again at the look on Harry's face, following his fellow Gryffindor's gaze to the painting in the center of the room. He opens his mouth to speak, but no sound comes out, so he looks rather foolish as he stands there, mouth agape. He slowly closes it, however, and shifts his attention back to Harry. He has an inkling who is in that painting, but he's not voicing it.
Hermione is stunned when she gets points from Siobhan for her observation. That was unexpected. If everything is not what it seems, then is that just a mirage as well? "Well—" She doesn't exactly have an answer for that. "Because the Sorting Hat put me in Gryffindor." That's her answer and she's sticking with it. As they move through the door, she readies her wand. If things aren't always what they appear, she wants to be ready for it. The Slytherin Common Room is not a place she ever saw, so she's not sure where they're supposed to be. Instead, her eyes are immediately drawn to the portrait. She's pretty sure she knows who this is, too, but she also sweeps the room with her eyes to see if there are any other surprises waiting.
Maneuvering around the Gryffindors crowding the doorway, Siobhan snakes her hand around to lightly smack Harry across the back of the head - not hard enough to hurt, just enough to get his attention, like she's seen Jethro do to the other Aurors around the castle. "It's not meant to be funny, you loon." Moving out in front of them, she offers the painting a bright smile. "Wotcher, Lily?" she greets in a turn of phrase she'd picked up from Tonks. Seeing that warm smile turned on her, Siobhan holds up a hand before the question can even come out. "He's got brats in for detention, tonight. We've got the whole evening." Because this would have been so much harder with an antagonist in the room.
Nope, no surprises except the one in the painting - which rolls her eyes. "Again? Really? Are the kids that bad?" Siobhan's snort is her only answer, and so portrait-Lily turns back to the Gryffindors. "You must be Hermione and Ronald, then?" Apparently she's been caught up some on recent events. "Don't just stand there like firstie 'Puffs. Come in, sit down. I'm sure Sio will conjure you chairs if you haven't learned that bit yet." The blonde Slytherin professor rolls her eyes and mutters something that sounds suspiciously like 'Yes, Mother', but taps her wand into her hand and dutifully conjures three squishy armchairs around the painting.
Harry is a bit too stunned to react immediately when smacked on the head, but when his nerves finally do fire off that delayed signal he makes a pointed, angry step away from Siobhan. Ally or not, this is not something he's taking in stride at all. He looks to Ron for a moment, perhaps in search of moral support, and then to Hermione who seems to be best at understanding exactly what is going on. He takes a couple steps further into the rooms, towards the chairs, but doesn't sit yet.
Also taking a step away from Siobhan is Ron, who frowns slightly as he lines himself up next to Harry. He crosses his arms awkwardly, glancing from Harry to Hermione and back, and then ultimately to Siobhan. It's clear from the look on his face he's struggling with this development. He can see how Siobhan thought she might make Harry happy with this, assuming there's no ulterior motive… but on the other hand, he can see how Harry could be displeased by this. It's not everyday (or any day, he imagines) that you wake up expecting something like this.
Only when portrait-Lily addresses him does Ron snap out of his little reverie, turning his eyes on the portrait. "Uh…" he says, not really knowing what to say — and he glances at Harry for support. After all, what do you say to the portrait of your best friend's dead mother?
Obviously, Hermione cannot even begin to understand what Harry is going through. The woman looks at Siobhan with a questioning look before focusing her attention on the portrait-Lily. When Harry looks at her, she gives him a reassuring look and attempts to put her own hand on his elbow for some sort of solidarity. Instead of angry or hurt, she is suspicious of this portrait that is too good to be true. "Yes. I'm Hermione and this is Ron. Professor Noble told us that nothing in this room may be what it seems. And that includes…well, you. If you've been able to communicate with people, how is it that Harry's only now speaking with you?"
Siobhan bravely - nobly, even - resists the urge to facepalm. It is, however, a near thing. "Leave it to a Gryffindor to get the metaphor right and the meaning wrong." Lily shoots the young blonde a sharp look for that one, but Sio is unrepentent. "Well, it's true!" Letting her shoulders sag forward, Siobhan runs a hand down the front of her face. "Okay, fine. You'd heard about my getting cursed at the end of last year, right?" Here, it's Ron that gets a sharp look. She'd told him to keep the secret, but whether that meant he'd kept it or told these two and /then/ kept it… "The results of that curse made it very easy for me to move across great distance very quickly and to see things without being seen. I spent all summer and a good portion of the first six weeks of this term spying on Death Eaters for Dumbledore and the Order." Solemn tone and expression convey the seriousness of her words. Not even Lily interrupts this narrative. "In the process, I stumbled across Lily's painting trapped in the ruins of James' parents' manor house in Devonshire. I couldn't do anything for her as I was, but I promised that I'd go back for her if I ever managed to escape the curse." It's rare for her to be so blunt, but time with Lily has taught her that with some lions it's necessary and she's pretty sure she can count on their silence about her work under Dumbledore's orders. "We've kept it quiet because if people start asking questions about how she was found after all this time, it wouldn't take them long to follow it back to me." She looks at each one in turn. "And too many lives depend on that secret, right now." A shrug, then, as she flops into the leather armchair by the fire. "Professor McGonagall and I thought it would be a kindness to bring you here before the painting had to be hidden again. I'm sorry."
Harry takes a step closer to the portrait, completely bypassing the chairs and instead standing about as close as he can get to it while still being able to take it all in. He tilts his head to one side, pushing his glasses up his nose as though making certain his eyes aren't deceiving him. It is only then that Siobhan's words seem to truly catch hold, "Wait? What do you mean the painting has to be hidden again?" He turns about now, placing himself between everyone else and the portrait, "You can't do that. If she's been locked away for years and years, you can't just do that to her again!" A full understanding of how much of a person exists in a portrait after death escapes him, but he's not risking it.
The youngest of the Weasley sons is at a complete loss for this situation, and remains silent because of it. He doesn't even respond to Siobhan's sharp stare. Even though Hermione's raising some very important questions, the only thing Ron is concerned about is Harry. He remembers back when he found that mirror in their first year how excited Harry was — but then, Ron didn't see what Harry saw. Either way, he's still a little concerned. To find a portrait of your dead mum? Have it sprung on you? Harry's already been through enough — does he really need this?
Hermione ignores the barb against her questions. Instead, she attempts to comfort Harry. Perhaps Ron would be better to help him, but she can't help herself. This is a personal moment for him and she's not sure what to do. She remains quiet for now.
Siobhan watches Harry carefully as he moves closer to the painting. She watches him push the glasses up his nose and watches him spin around to put himself between the rest of them and the canvas. It's only when his words register that she changes. A smouldering protective fury rises hot and angry from her gut, turning warm brown eyes into dilated rings of hard cinnamon. The idea that - despite her explanations - somehow the lives of those she protects are so throwaway to this boy that he would discard them for the sake of a canvas makes it difficult to decide which urge is stronger - to lash out or to vomit. The sudden tension, the paleness of her skin - complete with slight greenish tinge - seems to tip off the lady in the portrait. In a moment of inspired tact, Lily interjects softly before Siobhan has a chance to explode.
"It's alright, Harry." Her voice is gentle, soothing; as if calming the nightmares of a toddler rather than arguing down a fiesty teenager. "There's a spell that will let me sleep, love. Siobhan will cast it when it's time and then I'll be moved to a place very few know about and even fewer still can get to." She casts another sidelong look at Siobhan, who seems much calmer - all things considered - though still a touch pale. With a short, sharp nod to the portrait woman, Siobhan takes over.
"Your mum wanted to meet you and we figured you'd want to meet your mum." She too is speaking softly, though there's a visible strain as she tries to push back her own personal fears and appeal to Harry's sense. "I need your help to get her in to safety and - " She hesitates, biting her lower lip and exhaling a long breath. "And I'll key you into the wards I have to place, but only you, understand?" Pushing a hand back through her hair, she gestures towards the portrait. "I told you the story I did and asked you that question because I thought this would be easier if you had some perspective. I did think you'd be happy with this, but I also need you to listen to what you're about to hear, yeah? We, uh. That is to say that - "
"Siobhan is referring to the fact that my best friend growing up has had one hell of a time trying to keep you from dying." There's something vaguely Molly Weasley-esque in that statement. Something stern and motherly that has more to do with instinct than experience. "And since I'm not allowed to give the Headmaster the tongue-lashing he's waiting for, I'm appealing to you to keep yourself out of danger, young man."
Harry is seething as well, and he's a moment from lashing out at Siobhan before his mother's voice calms him down - it's a voice he only remembers on a subconscious level. It is not, after all, a voice he ever heard when he was capable of remembering it. His knuckles are still white, nails digging into the palms of his hands, "What good is that?" He's shouting now, not at his mother but at the professor, "What good is knowing where she is if she's going to be- going to be asleep or whatever?"
He whips about, facing the painting now, "Knowing you're there but not being able to talk to you? That's as bad as the Mirror! Worse!" He's raging now, his temper breaching the boiling point, "Listen to what? Harry, we need you to do this?! Harry, we need you to do that?! We'd like you to meet your mother, but only so long as she can tell you to do something we need you to do and then we're going to take her away again."
"I'm not - "It wears him out, all the shouting and pacing back and forth, and he falls down into a seated position on the arms of one of the chairs, "I'm not a weapon. This isn't right." All the same, he lifts his head to listen to what the portrait has to say. Rant and rave though he may, he's not going to shirk that responsibility.
Hermione's face darkens at what she hears from both sides. She's seen Harry's temper and it's not something that she likes to be on the receiving end of and she also hates seeing him unleash it on someone else. Slowly she attempts to put a hand on his shoulder to calm him down. "Harry…" she says softly, trying to get through his anger. "It's not her fault."
That explosion of temper seems to settle Siobhan, though Lily seems to be going a very interesting shade of inignant pink. The young professor stands tall, taking the explosion calmly - more calmly than one would expect, given her earlier issue with her own temper. "It's okay, Hermione." Softly spoken, the words used include the girl's first name for probably the first time. She's grown up a little, it would seem. "Believe me," she offers with a slightly dry quirk of humor. "Once you've learned how to deal with Professor Snape's temper, everyone else suddenly seems calm by comparison." Yes, it's a dry commentary on the man's legendary nastiness, but there's no malice in it - if anything, there's a touch of fondness for the cranky old cactus.
Moving to collapse into one of the other two squishy chairs - since Ron seems to have decided hanging back by the door is the better part of valor for the time being - Siobhan takes Harry's objections seriously. "Because you know that you'll have the chance to have many long talks with her once things are a bit safer, rather than going for years thinking you'd never get the chance." Still quietly, but sincerely spoken. She lets the silence sink comfortably between them all for a moment, watching the young lion with something very much like kindness in her face. Her! A Slytherin! The world must be spinning backwards, no?
"No, you're not a weapon, Harry. Not any more than I am or Professor Snape is, but we've all played that part already and this war is just barely begun." A melancholy creeps into her voice. "It sucks," she offers with the bluntness of her age group. "It's not right and it's not fair. It's your own life and you should have a choice in what you do with it." Choices and consequences - two staples of every class with Siobhan Noble. "All your mum and I want you to do is listen to what we have to tell you - not because you're a weapon, but because you're a person - and it would be nice to see you live to graduate, yeah?" Lily's portrait remains silent through this affair, though the look she gives the young Slytherin is amused bordering on impressed. Most of all, eyes of green and brown watch carefully the boy for whom this entire exercise was enacted.
Harry seems withered, drained entirely by his outburst and not up for arguing no matter how vehemently he may (or may not) wish to. He simply nods his head, reaching up a hand to try and press his hair down flat and achieving nothing in that vein. He looks up towards the portrait of his mother, waiting for whatever it is he is to be told.
The outburst from Harry is enough to make Ron move away from the door, and he slowly makes his way over to the chairs so he can stand next to his best mate. "Harry," he says, his hand falling onto the shoulder not currently occupied by Hermione's hand. "They're just trying to help, I think." To be honest, Ron doesn't really know what Siobhan's playing at here — he's only trying to diffuse the situation. The ginger glances at Hermione, before his eyes slide over to Siobhan's.
And for just a barest fraction of a second there is hurt that flashes over Siobhan's expression. "Still don't trust me do you, Ron?" That hurt is quickly transmuted to bitterness and then resignation. "I've never given you reason not to. Not once." She bites her tongue, then, looking to Lily with a cold sort of shrug. If she's going to be paying yet again for her House colors, then she's not going to be the one to tell this story.
Heaving a sigh, Lily shrugs right back at Siobhan. "You're a Slytherin, Sio. Most of them can't be trusted." And considering the matter settled, Lily turns to her son and his two friends. "Now, from what I've been told, the three of you have managed to get into even more trouble than James, Sirius and Remus combined." Peter is either forgotten or deliberately omitted. "I'm sure you mean well, but Sio's right. You're children, not weapons." She pauses then, her right hand twitching as if it would reach out to the lot of them if there weren't the barrier blocking the way. "Dumbledore is a good man, but if he's let my son fight a basilisk on his own at age twelve, he's obviously gone a bit daft in his old age." Or else considers The Cause to be more important than anything. "More than anything else, Harry, I want you safe." Every mother's fervent wish. "Sev promised me he'd keep you safe, but I want your promise, too. Don't let anyone make you into a weapon. Just be Harry. Be my son. Be safe and happy. Sio said she'd key you into the wards, so it's not like I'll be locked away forever." A slightly wry twist of her lips softens her whole face. "And do at least try not to give Severus a coronary? He's not the 'puppies and sunshine' kind of friend, but he's kept you safe this far and I have his word he'll continue to do so, so long as I advise a bit more caution."
"Huh," Harry says, brow furrowing when the pieces actually fall into place - that is beyond weird but with everything else that's happening it gets filed away for later, "Yeah." He nods his head, kind of numbed to the whole thing for the moment, "Okay."
A frown crosses Bilius' face as he's watching Siobhan, but it passes quickly. He takes his hand off Harry's shoulder, crossing his arms awkwardly. He glances over at Hermione, raising his eyebrows slightly as he ever-so-slightly tips his head toward the door. He's not sure what, if anything, they can do for Harry other than be there — but maybe Harry could use some time alone with his mum, without discussing such huge things as whether he's a weapon or not.
Through out the speech, Hermione looks like she wants to fight Ron and stay with Harry through out whatever he needs. It's only a moment when she looks like she'll fight Ron's attempt to give Harry some alone time. However, that passes quickly. She gives a squeeze to Harry's shoulder and then follows Ron out.
Sometimes, in fact, Ron Weasley is a genius. Watching the not-so-subtle signals flickering between the two lions, Siobhan also nods, stands and stretches. Such a very tactile person, herself, she lets her own hand rest on Harry's shoulder a moment, squeezing it gently. "I'll go let McGonagall know that you'll be out past curfew and that I'll make sure you get back in one piece. I'll come get you after rounds." So an hour or two. "And we'll get her down to the Chamber and put up the protective wards, okay?"
"Okay," Harry repeats, keeping focus on Hermione and Ron until they disappear out the door and then shifting it to Siobhan. He's going to wait until he's entirely alone before he talks to the portrait, it seems, and the expression on his face clearly shows he's waiting.
There's something about that expression on Harry's face - the one that reads as if he's merely waiting for her to abandon the premises before he'll even consider opening his mouth - that makes Siobhan smile brightly. "You know, Lily," she remarks lightly, biting back laughter. "The similarities are uncanny." Let the Gryffindors interpret that remark how they will. Siobhan is sure neither half of the actual meaning would appreciate the comparison. Chuckling softly to herself, she follows Ron and Hermione out the door, reaching behind her to brush her hand against the door and watching it fade back into a blank stone wall.
Alone in the room with her only son, Lily Potter's painting is suddenly a bit … shy. When there was an agenda to accomplish, talking seemed so very much easier. And now she finds herself at very much of a loss for words. The things she wants to say she isn't sure if she should, because she's not really Lily Evans Potter; she's just a thread of Lily's magic woven into ink and canvas that feels like she's Lily Evans Potter. So instead, she opts for what seems like it would be the safest possible way to encourage her son - so much like James - to talk. "You play Quidditch?"
"Yeah," Harry answers once everyone is gone, hands folded in his lap. The conversation goes on for a while, about everything and anything. Nothing to deep, in truth, but it's cathartic in a way. All the anger that he was feeling drains away over time, and he's just finishing an anecdote about the time he and Ron crashed the Ford Anglia into the Whomping Willow when it's time to go.
Feeling much better - if more tired - after half an hour's tea with McGonagall and an hour and a half scaring randy teenagers out of all the nooks and crannies, Siobhan jogs back up the stairs to the seventh floor. Yet another pair is yanked from an alcove behind a tapestry - really, is there something in the water? - and sent off to bed with only a warning. From several of the rumors she'd caught in passing, the students in detention with Snape tonight have already lost the whole school enough points for one day. Or month. Another brush of her fingertips reveals the door, which she pushes open to the sound of Lily's laughter and something that sounds like it might have been 'Whomping Wand'. Knocking on the wood on the inside of the door, she pushes it open further and shuts it behind her, moving to lean on the back of Harry's chair with a grin for both mother and son. "Whatever happened to that car, anyway? Was all over the Daily Prophet for weeks." She doesn't sit herself - since her return means that leaving is imminent, but neither does she seem horribly inclined to rush things along. When she got out of that damn painting, she didn't want to let people out of her sight for more than a few minutes. She can only imagine this must be similar.
"It lives in the Forest," Harry answers, though his happy demeanour seems to fade a little when Siobhan arrives considering what it means. He stands up, determined to look stony-faced and ready for what is to come, "Alright, then. I'm ready."
Siobhan, the harbinger of less-than-happy faces. Frowning a little bit, she lets the shift in demeanor pass without comment and merely taps her wrist against her hip, wrapping her hand around the familiar weight of her wand. With the quiet patience she uses to teach her students new spells, she passes on to Harry the incantations and wand movements for both the spell that will wake a portrait from its sleep and the spell that will send it back to slumber. Only when she's satisfied that he understands both does she step toward the painting. "Good night, Lily. I'll find a way to get down and update you as soon as I can." And then she's stepping back, moving to warm her hands on the fireplace while boy and portrait say their goodbyes.
"Good night, my Harry." Lily's smile is warm and soft, radiating a mother's love and protectiveness. "You'll come and see me sometimes, won't you? Now that you know how." That wasn't part of the original plan, but it's not a change Lily can really say she objects to. "I can't believe you're fifteen already." And she looks him up and down, taking his measure and memorizing it. "There's so much more to catch up on. You still haven't told me anything of this Miss Weasley I've heard about." Seeming to realize that she's rambling a bit, the woman in the painting blushes and pushes a bit of hair behind one ear. "I'm really glad you came. I'll see you soon."
"Yeah," comes Harry's answer, he's admittedly not the most verbose individual at the moment - he's still rather dumbstruck by the whole thing. He nods his head, a wordless promise to fill his mother in on everything that has happened and will happen as soon as he gets the opportunity. He returns his wand to his pocket once he's memorized the spells, falling in to follow Siobhan once Lily is asleep.
There's quiet and then there's … creepy quiet. Siobhan hasn't had much experience dealing with the mood swings of teenage boys. All her brothers except Brian went through it when she was too young to remember and, well, Brian's a 'Puff. He didn't really do moody. "You know where the entrance is, yeah?" She could smack herself for that one. Duh. Basilisk. Wincing, she puts Lily to sleep and shrinks the portrait, offering it to him to carry if he'd like. Feeling awkward - and a little put off - by his attitude, Siobhan merely shrugs. "To Myrtle's bathroom it is, then." And then she's out the door and heading down the first flight of stairs.
"I remember," Harry answers, his tone a little hollow as he takes the portrait and holds it protectively. He follows after Siobhan on the way to the bathroom, wondering if he'll be needed to open it or if Siobhan can muster up some Parseltongue.
<OOC> Siobhan snorts. I'm not Ron Weasley, thanks.
<OOC> Siobhan says, "That part of the book made me so freaking mad."
<OOC> Ron saved the day, yo.
Annoyed at the hollow response and lack of further communication, Siobhan bites her tongue - showing some restraint - and moves swiftly down the stairs. Whether it's something of coincidence or some remnant of the magic that once tied Siobhan intimately to this castle, the stairs shift as she needs them, letting both her and Harry make it to the second floor bathroom in record time. Bursting through the door, Siobhan ignores completely Myrtle's shriek of protest and wails of neglect and turns to one side to let Harry pass her, gesturing one-handed toward the sinks. There's something of a challenge in her expression, but - whether wisely or not - doesn't say anything.
"Hi, Myrtle," Harry begins when the ghost begins to ask why he doesn't visit anymore, "I'm … " Then, seeing the escape hatch in every sense of the word, he rattles off some strange-sounding hissy-words and the secret passageway opens. He rushes down there first, apparently determined to evade any further Myrtledom.
At the sound of words hissed out in a display of an ability she doesn't and can never have - a desire born of history she doesn't feel like explaining - Siobhan has a moment of purely hideous, nasty envy. Everything tonight seems to have gone wrong in one way or another and it's starting to weigh down on her. There's a moment - a single, terrible moment - where she contemplates taking the portrait and leaving him to Myrtle's mercy. Biting down on her tongue hard enough to draw blood, she taps her wand out into her hand and casts a simple levitation charm on herself before pushing off down the chute. Better than getting slime all over herself. Once at the bottom, she flings a hovering ball of Lumos Maxima into the air and puts that negative energy to good use. Flick after sharp, angry flick of her wand clears rubble and repairs stonework, pushing along in a slow but steady progression towards the main chamber - and dry land.
Harry trudges through the mess, not doing anything to levitate himself - he's a boy, mess doesn't bother him when cleaning himself is only a spell away. All the same, he keeps the painting held clear of the mire to keep it entirely pristine. He doesn't need to do any following in the tunnels, he remembers the way even though it was years ago.
Stopping just a single passageway before that big main chamber, Siobhan holds her hand up behind her. "Stay here until I call for you." It's a short, firm order, but there's a fatigue to her voice that wasn't there before. The much-improved state of the rooms leading up to this one might have something to do with that. Without another backwards glance, she pushes onward, the splash of her steps in shallow water sloshing to a stop. A minute passes. Then two. Then three. Just before the fifth minute ticks over to the sixth, there is a bright orange flare and a thundering whooshing crackle. It goes as suddenly as it came. In the ensuing silence, a single name can be heard from a smoke-croaked throat. "Harry?"
"Yeah," Harry calls back, it seems to be his mantra tonight. He ducks his head a little at the sudden noise and the flash of light, shielding his eyes with one forearm. All the same, he presses forward into the main chamber after Siobhan.
The main chamber is empty and dry. The water that had flooded its floor is gone and the stone is warm underfoot. The place where the body of the basilisk had lain is gone. In its place is a medium-sized black case and - sitting next to it in a heavily-breathing pile of singed robes and wild golden hair - Siobhan Noble. She points to the mouth and starts to say something, coughs for a moment and then tries again. "If you go through the mouth there'll be a set of spiral stairs that go up to a set of rooms. Resize the portrait and leave it there." She leans back against the trunk and closes her eyes, resting for the moment. "To open the mouth, 'Zar says you have to use Parseltongue. 'Speak to me Slytherin, greatest of the Hogwarts Four' should do it," she offers and then adds an affectionate grumble. "Arrogant old bastard."
"Why don't I just say 'the sky is green' or 'Snape isn't a gr-'" Harry pauses, remembering his promise and curtailing his instinct to mock the Potions Master. Opting for silence instead, he holds down an arm to try and help Siobhan up before reciting the phrase in fluent hiss.
Already tired, Siobhan's control over her protective instincts - already having been sorely tested once tonight - slips as they flare up again. "Two reasons," she offers with deceptive calmness, staring up at him with as much stubbornness as any Gryffindor. "One, because it's a password like you'd give to any portrait." Accepting his arm and hauling herself up, she uses the grip and momentum to hold him right there as she growls out a warning. "And two, because if I ever hear you disrespect Severus like that again, I will hex you seven ways to Sunday." Releasing him, she steps back and straightens her robes. The point has been made well enough to satisfy her protective 'pack' nature and she watches with quickly smothered jealousy how well her House's secrets bend for the Gryffindor boy. For a moment she seems to war with herself, but then sighs and moves to take the steps first. If there's another Parseltongue lock, it'll be easy enough to call him forward, but if 'Zar designed a trap to weed out non-Slytherin minds… Well. "Be careful. 'Zar has a thing about thinking like a snake." Best to let a snake tackle it first.
"I know, I've been here before," Harry says sourly, still not quite used to being chided so severely for his opinion of the Potions Master. Then, steeling himself against whatever might come; he carefully holds onto the painting with one hand and produces his wand with the other. His tone becomes low, "He used to have a pet basilisk." And then he heads into the newly opened passage.
The basilisk whose composite parts - at least the ones that matter - are now packed away in the black box in the main chamber. "Yes, he called her Vitare." Siobhan sounds distracted as she runs her empty hand over the wooden surface of the door at the top of the stairs. "Oh for the love of … " Putting her hand to her mouth, she bites down hard on the meat of her thumb where it comes into her palm, quickly smearing the blood over the wood. As she pulls her hand away - the wound already healed by the magic of the door - the blood is absorbed into the wood and swings silently inwards. "There has seriously got to be a better way than this." The room is small and dark and mostly empty, save four similar doors. "I'm not doing that again," she states firmly. "Resize the portrait and rest it against that wall over there. We'll ward from here." Turning back to the doorway they'd just come through, Siobhan murmurs a string of Latin as she traces the wand's tip around the stone portal. Her nose wrinkles in concentration and sweat breaks out over her face and neck, but in a few minutes, it seems she's done. At least she stops chanting and stows her wand back in its holster. "Jack might be able to break these wards, but I can't. I managed to trigger the 'family' protection layer though, I think. Keying you and me in as exceptions." It's not a perfect protection, but given the isolation of the locale and Hogwarts' outer protections, it will be enough for now. Sagging against the wall, Siobhan fishes in the pocket of her robe for a small vial she quickly uncorks and downs. Familiar steam pulses out her ears, but she doesn't look about to faint. "Come on, then. I've got to get you back to your Common Room before I can sleep." And she's had more than enough of this mis-adventure.
Harry does as he's asked, resizing the portrait and placing it against the wall. He bids it a silent goodbye before turning around, putting his wand back in his pocket and following after Siobhan when she's ready to move.
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