|Scene Title||"Can you cast and hold a shield charm?"|
|Synopsis||Siobhan tests Claire and Pierrick for their defensive skills.|
|Date||18 October 1995; Wednesday|
|Watch For||Cruel and unusual punishment for speaking French|
Late morning on Wednesday - probably about an hour or so before the rush to lunch - finally sees Siobhan with a free period. Her hunter green robes are hung over the back of her chair for now, leaving her in a pair of skinny-jeans, converse and a lacy pink camisole. Lounging in her chair with her feet braced up against her desk while she pulls her hair up into a sloppy bun to get it off her neck, she looks far more like an errant teenager than a professor. Hair twisted up, she scrubs hands down over her cheeks, enjoying the few moments of silence before her next students come up for testing.
This is, of course, why there's promptly a knock at her door — because someone is habitually early, although not compulsively so. "Professeure?" Despite the French accent, it is at least obvious that this is a respectful form of address. "You sent for me?" queries sixth-year Gryffindor student Pierrick, who is fully and properly dressed in his uniform, no matter how boring he finds it.
Oh, this is early? Claire, who has a tendency toward on-time-or-late, didn't catch the memo that heading up the stairs about thirty seconds behind Pierrick made her early, or she would've left and come back later. On the other hand, she actually likes Siobhan on a personal level as opposed to just a professorial respect sort. Her eyes thin as she spots Pierrick, and she groans quietly. "Great. A French guy. Phenomenal."
Reaching for the wand laying next to it's wrist-strap holster on her desk, Siobhan flicks the tiny willow instrument at the door, listening to the familiar creak to tell how far it is from properly open. Seven years in this classroom tend to make one aware of the little things in general; add some seriously sensitive senses to that right now and we have almost perfect timing. "Mister … Remi." Choosing the shortest possible surname she can give him, Siobhan beckons him inside, only then seeing the Slytherin student behind him. "Claire, come on." Her greeting to the young snake is warmer, but familiarity does that. "You both have the hour free until lunch, right?"
"Ahh, oui— yes, Professeure," Pierrick says, a faint frown marking his brow as he enters the classroom. He's been at Hogwarts for over a month, and he still can't instinctively answer yes-or-no questions in English. "There is a problem?"
Claire is making a face, but it's only at the word 'lunch' rather than, even, at the fact that the French person is speaking French and she was raised not to like the French very much. "Yeah," she says, with a bigger smile for Siobhan by far than lunch got. "I'm good until whenever, really, I've just got to make sure the cat gets played with at some point."
CAT! SIobhan's face absolutely lights up until it hits her that, actually, said feline is probably down in the dorms where she belongs and not - sadly - here. "Right, then!" Clapping her hands together and then rubbing the palms back and forth, Sio kicks away from her desk to spin the chair so she can much more easily bounce to her feet. Pierrick gets a confused sort of frown. "No, no. No problem." She pauses and considers something for a moment and then slows down and enunciates a fair bit more. "No Problem." It's probably exactly the thing that foreigners hate, but she is trying to be helpful. "You can go ahead and drop the house robes on the desks wherever. I'd rather not have anything getting tangled up. Messy business, that." And she grins playfully at some unspoken memory. Probably of said messy business. "Now," she folds her arms over her chest and regards both students earnestly. "What's the last spell you remember being taught how to actually cast?" Rather than, you know, just reading about it. Stupid Ministry substitutes.
"The last — spell of defense, I am thinking you mean?" Pierrick asks cautiously, double-checking, and neatly twirls his robe off — which, of course, reveals for just a moment the flash of Beauxbatons blue silk-satin that lines it, before it's back to being a drab, greyed-black Hogwarts standard once more, and draped over a convenient chair. "We were taught Incarcerous."
Incarcerous. Claire gives Pierrick a 'what is that?' kind of look for a second, before shrugging and saying, "Diffindo, I think. Since the Silencing Charm probably isn't the answer you're looking for here." Her genial expression settles back on her face now that she's done giving the Gryffindor funny looks. As for her own uniform? It's Slytherin 6th year standard, no fancy lining — no lining whatsoever, in fact. An Oxfam girl through and through.
Siobhan bites down on the urge to make a caustic remark and simply nods. It pays off for her with, indeed, the answer she was looking for. Ah, well. He's French! "Incarcerous. Good. Diffindo, also good." Which means they're about where they should be for their year levels, if she remembers correctly. "What about Protego? Can you cast and hold a shield charm?" She begins to pace, eyeing warily the robe that - she thought - had showed a flash of distinctly non-Hogwarts blue. "Or disarm your opponent? Or stun them?"
Pierrick still hesitates. "I — am not sure," he answers, "if you are wanting evidence of an answer, or merely the words. To cast a shield, yes, this I can do — to hold it? I do not know what I am to hold it against, non? Expelliarmus I have been taught, but I have learned it is not always so easy as to cast a spell."
The questioning is meant for Pierrick and not Claire, or so Claire assumes; the only thing she pipes up with is, "I know Protego too, yeah, I wasn't sure if you weren't sure about me — you're holding the shield up, you know, you've got to hold a shield, if you drop it it's not a very good shield?" She is forcing herself to sound helpful to poor Pierrick and not caustic.
Siobhan pauses, considering both students for a moment before nodding sharply - apparently decided on something. "It's easier to do this by doing than saying." Right, because that butchering of The English Sentence is going to do anything but confuse the poor French boy more. Claire, though, has known Sio long enough that it might make sense. The young professor always did far and away better with practicals than theoretical anything. "Both of you, cast a shield charm and hold it against my spells, if you can." She'll give both students the time to cast their spells first. When she grasps her tiny willow wand, she purposefully holds back on the power behind her casting. Two stunners are sent with two quick mutters of "Stupefy," but she's testing them at the lowest strength first. If this holds, then the dial can be twisted up a notch.
It is doubtless no surprise for anyone at all that Pierrick's wand, at eleven and a half inches, is the longest in the room. That said, it's still easy for him to shake it out of his sleeve and into his hand with a quick flick of his wrist, because "plain white buttondown shirt", as a uniform code, allows for at least a little bit of leeway, in terms of the shape of one's sleeve. Latin he knows, and so he does begin by murmuring "protego" and describing an arc for his shield — but as the shield flows to life before him, a shimmering soap bubble of translucent magic, he adds to it by almost-but-not-quite-inaudibly-not-quite-singing "soit solide et me protéger". Accordingly, his soap bubble flexes a little bit under Siobhan's Stupefy, but grows a few inches in response instead of collapsing.
Claire is nowhere near so fancy. Her wand had already been visible, as she hadn't been trying to obscure it. She also does not speak a single word of Latin, and so her shielding charm is but the simplest of shielding charms. Simple is Claire's specialty, though — in its simplicity, there is close-to-perfection, and her shield does not falter. Equally it does not grow like Pierrick's. "What did you say?"
"Oi!" Siobhan calls out, narrowing her eyes at the younger Gryffindor. "No French in my bloody classroom, got it?" She 'hmphs' but nods in satisfaction at their shields, flicking her wrist to cast a much stronger pair of Stupefy spells - though in all honesty their strength sits about the average cast of a stunner during a duel. "I already told d'Allemagne I'd turn his hair ginger if I caught another word of anything but English coming out of his mouth in this room and I'll do the same to you." Or worse, since, you know, Sio actually likes Rene, and she's still not sure what to think about this one.
Pierrick's eyes narrow right back at her. How dare she tell him not to speak his native tongue? All his best spell-augmentations are in French! Would she rather have him fail? Rather than asking that, though, he grits his teeth, keeps humming the same little sing-song tune, and leaves the words inside his head. Of course, this fails to answer Claire's question — but, at least for now, his shield is still holding. (It's starting to fluoresce a little bit, though.)
Siobhan's continued assault causes Claire to have to reinforce her spell, but she does this silently, eyes squinted almost to the point of shutting. "Well, technically, most of the spells are in Latin but other than that it is most appropriate to speak English in the United Kingdom, yeah, unless you speak some old form of Scottish in which case you can probably get away with it," she manages to say without her shielding charm dropping. Charms are her greatest strength.
Siobhan takes in the narrow-eyed affronted look from Pierrick and the refreshing practicality from Claire and can't help but laugh delightedly. "That's the way, Remi. Be pissed at me. Be mad at me and funnel that anger into your shield spell. Use it like fuel for a fire." And with that she takes a step back and tugs at little strands of 'sunshine' tingling at the back of her head, weaving them down her arm and using them to add power to one final set of Stunner spells. Definitely more powerful than would be seen in a rapid-fire duel with anyone save the most powerful wizards, but she wants to see where their limits are. If their shields can hold against the force that knocked Special Agent Gardener on his arse… Well, let's just say there's a calculating gleam in those sharp brown eyes.
And at first, at first, Pierrick's spell holds, even under this onslaught. But the irritation, the anger, slowly twists into apprehension, then worry, and then his shield's fluctuations are growing wilder, and wilder — it flickers from small-buckler-sized to golf-umbrella-sized and there and back again, and then — well, it shatters, and Pierrick is sent flying halfway across the room, to crash into a desk. He'll have some bruises from that, soon enough. (His shield, though, has taken in earnest his earlier command to protect him — and if it can't be strong enough, it's still not going down without a fight. In this case, the last burst of energy goes flying at Siobhan, the shrapnel from the shattered shield directed into a single direction: precisely down the path of the bolt that shattered the shield in the first place.)
Unlike everyone else's magic, Claire's doesn't have a tendency to modulate like that; it stays steady or it stays nonexistent. In this case, it stays steady — at first it seems as if it might falter, especially as Pierrick's complete failure to do a very good job at keeping his shielding charm a shielding charm distracts her and her head whips in that direction, but it stays steady. Not that Claire is actually noticing how strong her shields are; she's busy squeaking as Pierrick inadvertently attacks their teacher.
In an instinctive reaction much like her earlier lashing out at the overly-suspicious Auror, Siobhan tugs at that core of 'sunlight' and in the moment of 'ohshitREACT' probably uses more of it than is necessary. The silently conjured shield whipped from the tip of her wand shimmers a soft, pale golden color; it holds long enough to neutralize the wayward magic and then dissipates into so much yellow dust. The moment of crisis over, Siobhan merely stands blinking at her wand arm, looking perturbed and more than a little lost. It's only the sudden realization that there are still students in the room - one of which might be injured - that jerks her back to the here and now. "Well done, Claire!" Her smile for her fellow snake is bright and sincere, the praise coming easily. "Ten points to Slytherin." But she's already jogging between desks both tumbled and upright to drop to one knee next to the Gryffindor. "Are you hurt?" He might not be her favorite student, but that doesn't stop her voice from being gentle when she asks.
"Un peu meurtri, je pense," Pierrick answers at first, sounding somewhat muddled. He lies there, collapsed into the desk, for a lengthy moment, staring up at the ceiling and taking stock of himself, before shaking his head — gingerly! — and carefully sitting up. "I apologize," he adds in a mumble, "I mean, a little bit bruised, I think. That was a very nice shield," he adds, admiration genuine — he certainly can't conjure up a shield as apparently-effortlessly as that!
At first, Claire doesn't respond: she's still taking in everything that just happened in front of her, slowly letting her shield drop. "You're — all okay, then," she says, flatly, and only then begins to smile. "Ten points sounds good, at least." People being injured, less so. Then she asks, "Doesn't 'pense' mean 'think'? Like the Garter," because she expects that to make sense to some people, apparently, which is an unrealistic expectation.
Despite her gentle tone of voice and careful once-over glance to make sure nothing's broken or bleeding, Siobhan still flicks her wand at Pierrick's face. Claire - if she's looking - will get treated to the sight of that pretty blonde hair slowly darkening to a lovely shade of Weasley-ginger. "No French," she reminds him firmly, with another shake of her wand as if to finger-waggle him. She's not completely cruel. This spell will wear off by the time he wakes up in the morning. "But thank you." For the compliment. "You did pretty well, yourself. I put a bit of 'oomph' into that spell on purpose." She stands and offers him a hand up, grinning rather wolfishly. "Five points to Gryffindor for actually listening to what I told you. It helped, didn't it? At least at first?" The anger into the spell bit. "I - " but then there's Claire, confusing the living daylights out of her professor. "What?"
Pierrick is nodding at Claire, at first — yes, 'pense' and 'think' are basically the same thing, or at any rate 'je pense' and 'I think' are — but he looks just as bewildered when she mentions a garter, and then Siobhan is casting a spell on his face — or no, on his hair, as a quick tug of a lock down into his range of vision reveals. And seeing as how red is decidedly not his color, when it comes to hair, Pierrick is left looking even more outraged, and entirely disbelieving, at the same time. "I apologized!" he not-quite-explodes at Siobhan. (Respectfully, of course.) "Do you always punish students who have hit their heads and cannot think, at first, what the stupid English is for what they want to say?!"
"Honi soit qui mal y pense," Claire quotes. "Shame on he who thinks this evil. The catchphrase of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, highest honor of knighthood in England, which has a very funny origin story to it that I always get wrong, so I won't bother to — tell — it —" Pierrick's hair has finally sunk all the way into Claire's head and she's covering her mouth to keep from giggling.
Siobhan accepts the outraged explosion with calm aplomb. She raises a single brow and looks sidelong at Claire, an expression of 'really?' showing through in her silent communique. After all, when one has dealt with the venom present in Snape's temper as both she and Claire have done… Somehow leonine explosions just don't have the same effect. "No," she answers him calmly. "But I do always teach my students that actions have consequences." Then Claire quotes a French catchphrase and another flick of Siobhan's wand has ginger spreading down from the dark roots to the dark tips of her younger housemate's hair. "No French means no French, Claire. Even if you're quoting." She turns from both students and hops up to sit on top of one of the nearby desks. "Even when you do something without meaning to or by accident, you've still done it. You can - and you will - be held accountable for it." She pushes a bit of her own hair behind one ear. "If you killed someone without meaning to, they would still be dead and you would still be responsible. Intent means a lot - so the punishment is always worse if you disobey a rule knowingly and on purpose - but all actions have consequences."
Pierrick's scowl modulates slightly when Claire, too, is punished — he still doesn't want red hair, but at least Siobhan is being fair about her unfairness. "Shame upon him who thinks evil of it," he murmurs, and shoves the offending hair back out of his sight before helping himself to a seat properly upon a desk, instead of accidentally so. He chews on his lip for a moment before offering, "I do not think your lesson is wrong, but I am wishing your rules were more of fairness." Mangled sentences ahoy! "Speaking French does not cause a death, in a school." That last is maybe muttered very softly and somewhat belligerently.
It doesn't stop Claire's giggling when it's her. "Only fair," she says. "And entirely sensible, really." Claire, apathy queen, is demonstrating just how she got that nickname — even if it is a little bit inaccurate. She does care. She just doesn't care negatively or with much of any display of feeling. "I probably look completely absurd, it definitely doesn't suit my complexion, and I'll live with it." Now, she grins as she perches not at but on a desk — for about a second before dropping into the seat. "Also, you never know, it might. French is a pretty godawful sounding language," she mutters.
"No, you're right, it probably won't." Siobhan doesn't bother to hold back a soft chuckle at that, leaning forwards to tug at a strand of Pierrick's brightly-colored hair almost playfully. "But orange hair isn't a sentence in Azkaban, either." Though some students may argue! "So I don't expect you to like it, but I do expect you to live with it." The rules and the hair - at least as long as the hair stays orange at least. Hopping up off her desk, she twirls her tiny wand between her fingertips and stretches, making shooing motions towards the door with her free hand. "However, I did learn what I needed to from you two. Thanks." She flashes both a bright smile before ambling back up to the front of the class to grab her teaching robe. "I can plan lessons, now." And that cryptic statement, ladies and gents, is effectively a dismissal.