1995-10-26C: Inroads


Snape_icon.gif Siobhan_icon.gif

Scene Title Inroads
Synopsis Siobhan visits Snape at work in his office to ask several important questions. Both of them make inroads on a few crucial - and not-so-crucial - points.
Location Snape's Office
Date October 26, 1995
Watch For Mood Swings and Really Cool Magic
Logger I am the Bad Wolf

It's nearly curfew and Severus Snape is sitting in his office, candelabra lit completely, marking papers. He has a quill in hand, scribbling comments on the bottom of a long scroll. "No, no, you imbecile." He mutters quietly to himself. "If you were to do that, you would blow the entire castle into the stratosphere." He shakes his head, writing something else on the parchment, probably something similar to what he was muttering out loud.

Siobhan Noble needs no introduction. At least not with this man. When the door to his office opens - without a knock - and in breezes the Defense Professor in Muggle jeans and a powder blue jumper that looks unreasonably soft. Letting the door click shut behind her, she flashes her friend a sunny sort of smile and collapses into the chair she'd always occupied across the desk. "D'you know how to cast a glamour?" she inquires breezily, folding one leg over the other and leaning back in the chair. One would almost think - by her posture, anyway - that it is a plush armchair in which she sits, rather than the uncomfortable 'student' chair.

Snape stops mid-letter to look up at Siobhan. "Most certainly." Question answered. He looks down again, finishing the sentence. When he finishes the paragraph, he lays the quill down, folding his hands on the desk, looking up at her, waiting for the rest of the question.

"Oh, good. Is it terribly hard? I just need a simple one, but - " But Siobhan didn't take a NEWT in Charms. One of the things that kept her decidedly out of the Auror program she wanted. She seems unfazed by the short response or the return to his work. She did interrupt, after all. "Even after I argued her out of the worst ones, most of the dresses Mum ordered are short." She lifts one hand to gesture at the calf covered by her jeans. The one with angry red lines hidden under the denim. Not exactly something she wants the whole world to be able to see. "And since I needed to come see you anyway, I figured you'd be the one to ask." Since he's most likely to know the spell and already knows the reason why.

"I know several. One of which is eminently suitable for your purposes." Snape scribbles a large P on the parchment and rolls it up, straightening out another to begin reading it. "As for ease of use, I cannot be certain as to your measurement for it." He dips his quill into the ink and drops a single drop of ink on his non-dominant hand. Setting the quill down again, he picks up his wand. "The movement is thus." It's a counter-clockwise circle with a jab toward the inkspot. He repeats the motion once more, then intones the incantation, a two-word phrase. The spot is gone. "The weakness of this particular glamour is that it is removed with a simple Finite Incantatum. He performs the spell then siphons off the ink with his wand before returning to reading the parchment. Or starting to. "Will that suffice?"

Siobhan bites down hard on her tongue to keep from grinning when Snape drops right into what she's privately started to call Lecture Mode. She's mostly successful in her suppression. Without her wand, she moves her hand as he repeats the motion, repeating it once herself to be sure. The incantation is muttered several times end on end under her breath, even as she watches the ink-blot disappear. "Does it have to be a Finite aimed at you or will one of those room-sweeping ones lift it off too?" Cause she's seen some of the folks from the Ministry pull those spells. Instead of answering his question right away, however, she merely sits back to her previous lounging position in the chair. Her wrist is tapped against the arm of said chair and she flicks a rather strong Silencing spell at the door. The one she learned from Jack, as a matter of fact. She gives him a look that invites him to strengthen the spell if he should like, but slips her own wand back into its holster under her sleeve. Only when he's added his own spell - or she's reasonably sure he isn't going to - does she speak again. "Have you given thought to what we discussed after the meeting?" She's careful with her words, here, but seems as earnest as she always is with him.

"A diretced one. Many of the witches — and wizards — at the Ministry use it daily to cover blemishes, scars, bruises gained by ineptitude, et cetera." He sets his quill down, rolls up the parchment and sets it back with the ungraded ones, readying himself for anything. He does apply his own spell to the door, as well as to certain key points on the walls. When Siobhan asks him the question, he gestures to the parchment he has just set aside. "I have made promises. I had a momentary lapse of memory, but I have since been made to recall the promises I made to …" He doesn't speak the name of the person, but his eyes flash with some intense, unidentifiable emotion. "When I was roughly a year or so older than you currently, Miss Noble, I made a promise to a friend. I have done my best to keep this promise since then." If the first part of the discussion was conducted in "Lecture Mode," this falls closer to "Reporting Mode." He exhales, leaning back in his seat. "Because of the nature of this promise, I must remain in my place." He doesn't say that he has to act a certain way in that place, though. "You have given me much to think about, and the presence of the choice itself is — nearly overwhelming in its kindness."

It doesn't take long for the messier student scrawls to start standing out. Siobhan, nosy as always, recognizes the 'chicken scratch' but doesn't feel it's actual relevent information. That is, until Snape gestures to it. Confusion knits her brow downwards and inwards. "But James was a royal dick in school, even Jack wasn't keen on some of the stunts he pulled and he idolized that whole - Oh." That's one part of the story she'd never gotten from Jack - or even from Liam's prattish grumblings - but it's not like it's unthinkable. "So, Harry… But you've always been … nasty to … Oh." The school has eyes and ears and his precarious perch is revealed to be an even more delicate balancing act than she suspected. It's not an elegant thing, watching Siobhan piece together the various shreds of information; it's not smooth or lovely, but it is efficient - not to mention fairly accurate, as well. The wrinkling of her nose that only happens when she's piecing together a particularly troubling puzzle suddenly blanks - along with the rest of her expression - in shock at his last admission. Looking up, Siobhan is thrown off-balance enough to respond with the first thing to pop into her head. "You're my friend, you loon. D'you really think I'd just sit there and watch you get tugged back and forth until you broke?" Oops. She seems to realize she spoke without thinking only after the words are out where they can't be retracted.

Snape watches her, head lowered, eyes intent. He fingers his wand, considering his choice in revealing even that much to her. "Very astute, Miss Noble," he responds as he sees her pull all the pieces together. His mention of her second-eldest sibling makes a tight grimace cross his face for a moment, but he schools his face back into its mask. "She is quite unaware of my promise altogether." Unless she's watching from the afterlife. In which case, she'll ream him out later.

At her very accurate, very blunt outburst, Severus relaxes his mask, the pure exhaustion showing yet again. It's not a physical exhaustion from lack of sleep, but a 'burnout.' "I was unaware that I bore any resemblance to waterfowl. Most of the comparisons I hear are more vespertilian in nature." He does hear the comments from the students. His attempt to avoid the emotions the comment evokes falls flat, even in his own opinion. He straightens the piles of parchment, hands seeming to need something to do as he ponders her words. "I am uncertain." Of almost everything about that question.

The fact that Lily was - is? - apparently 'quite unaware' of this promise makes Siobhan's confusion rear its head a second time. How could she be unaware if he promised? Feeling like she's somehow managed to take two steps forward and three steps back, Siobhan shakes her head and pushes the thought aside to ponder over later - or better yet, to interrogate certain portraits with. "I meant it like 'loony'," she quips back dryly, implying that she's pretty sure he knew what she meant in the first place, but also covering the moment of mild panic when she realizes that she has absolutely no clue what 'vespertilian' means. Moving right along, then! "Well I'm not." Uncertain, that is. Once a decision is made, that seems to be it for Siobhan so far as hemming and hawing. She watches him shuffle the parchment around the desk. "It's the promise, then," she remarks quietly - almost to herself. She meant it when she'd said she could respect that, but something in her gut prods her to ask. "If you could do it and still keep your promises, would you help me?" Not serve, not work for, but help; as equals. She's not as good at 'Snape talk' as he is, but she does try to convey as much as she can in that single, simple question.

"Ahhh." The response he offers to her jibe is a drawn-out, dry syllable that covers a multitude of sins. "I see." He snorts softly, and passes right on by the silliness into the serious question she asks. "The only promise I hold dear," in fact, it's one that Dumbledore has used against him many a time, "is one I made to Lilly Evans. All my other debts derive from that one." He looks pointedly away as he speaks, as though it is nearly painful to consider her words and the weight thereof. "I believe that would be acceptable, yes."

Siobhan's eyes widen in surprise at the … blunt clarification, then narrow in thought. For a moment, she struggles with something, but in the end switches tracks. "Then we'll stay." It seems like a simple enough solution, though her chin lifts defiantly and her eyes shift to hard cinnamon, daring him to question her part in that 'we'. "Look, you said it yourself. Dumbledore never would have let us decide to track Shadow that way, but everyone at the table seemed eager to help do it. They've already had to listen to me the once, so if they hear an argument to one of his plans coming from me, they might actually think about it before they dismiss it offhand." Like they tend to do with Snape.

"It'll be hard for even Dumbledore to argue down the both of us, especially when Jack tends to follow my logic." So that makes three voices for him to contend with. No mean feat, when one considers the strength of said voices. "Besides," she lets one of her more wicked grins light her face. "After dealing with one session of you and Sirius going at each other with me there, there's no way I'd send you back in there without backup." It's a Muggle term, but it might be understood - especially given what Eileen's said. "And if worse comes to worse and he gives me a task I disagree with, I'll say no." As if saying no to Dumbledore is just that simple.

"You'll — just say no." Severus' words are dry, but they're laden with the incredulous surprise that crosses his face briefly. "To Albus Dumbledore." Riiight. "I hesitate to set up a clear coalition of minds who actively oppose the side of 'good'," Snape speaks the term as though it needs highlights or quotation marks around it. "However, maintaining a certain — balance in our actions is always a wise course of action." He does agree with her about the power of her voice mixed with her brother's. His own voice isn't that strong, surely? "The force of your family name alone, Miss Noble, opens doors all its own. However, combined with the strength of your personality and," he sounds loath to admit this, "the charisma of your brother's interminable charm, you may have found a clearer path." Which he'd be absolutely thrilled to follow.

Siobhan makes a sound of frustration that sounds remarkably like a growl. "This isn't about 'good' and 'evil', though. I've known Lord Malfoy and Lady Narcissa since I can remember and they've always been kind to me. But I've seen them more than once at the Dark Lord's table." She shifts a little bit, the hard and unforgiving wood of the seat pinching a nerve. "And half the Order is too clouded by school-yard prejudice to realize they're acting like prats." Not to mention several of the Ministerial idiots they have tromping about. "Even the ideals are stupid. You're a Half-Blood and you're easily more powerful than I am." As far as she knows, anyway. "But on the other side of the coin, Bean grew up in a box on the street and one of my fourth years has a wizard for a father and still grew up thinking his Sight was insanity. So it's not like Dumbledore and the Minstry handle it right either." Siobhan doesn't mention his own upbringing, but she does give him a Significant Look.

She drums her fingers on the arm of the chair once and then clenches her hand into a fist. "Sorry," she exhales, forcing herself to sit still if not relax. "Full moon's tomorrow." Which always, always makes her restless. "If you're serious about helping me, Severus…" Here she takes a deep breath as if preparing herself for a fight. "Then there are things you need to know." Because while she really can't risk him telling Dumbledore, she's not about to start any endeavor without full disclosure.

"To many witches and wizards, that is specifically what it is about, Miss Noble. However, the precise nature of those ideals seems to vary quite widely, even among those within Dumbledore's merry gang." Snape cautions her, though he's certain she's very aware of it. "To certain individuals, that schoolhouse prejudice is the basis for their moral code." He doesn't name names, or even generalize about a house, but they both understand. "Indeed," he comments on the nearness of the moon. "Does it affect you perceptibly?" He speaks of her wound, and drops his gaze to her leg for a moment. The sheer fear is something he understands well, and part of the reason he, too, tracks the cycle of the moon. When she says he needs to know a few things, he jerks his head up a little, long, grungy strands of hair snapping against his chin. Even the very idea of having the whole picture is a new idea. "My gratitude," he intones, softly. "Carry on."

Siobhan snorts derisively. "If that's the basis for their moral code, it's no wonder they act like children." She knows it's true, but it's still frustrating as all hell. "I don't change, if that's what you mean," she snaps before she can stop herself, then takes another deep breath and visibly reins in her control. "I'm sorry," she offers. "My temper gets shorter, I can smell weird things." Even weirder than overripe jasmine blossoms. "It's harder to sleep." She doesn't clarify why. Her nightmares are still too personal to share even with him. "And on the actual night I can't sleep at all. It feels like my bones … itch and ache at the same time." Which doesn't make much sense, she knows. "It's hard to sit still." She shrugs, swallowing thickly and trying to ignore the voice in the back of her head that's almost spoiling for a fight. "If he hasn't said something already, the Dark Lord will very probably make an announcement soon about a few … changes." She folds her arms over her chest, drops them and folds them again, shifting in her chair. "He consented to a bargain." Much as Dumbledore had, before him. "He won't attack the school and he won't harm the children. Not for a full year."

Snape opens his mouth to continue to banter as she speaks of her symptoms. However, as she continues, he snaps his jaw shut, locking it tightly in a grimace. "The effects of a werewolf's non-transforming attack are undocumented." He offers sympathy in the only way he knows how: facts. "Some victims have noticed that a diet change alleviates some of the more troubling symptoms. A higher intake of iron and protein is one of the more commonly mentioned changes." He turns to reach for a book on one corner of his desk, picking it up to check his source. However, when she continues, mentioning her brazen maneuver, he drops the book, marker sliding out onto the floor. Empty hands now find a place on the desk, clutching the edges so tightly his kuckles ache. "You. Did. What?" He hisses his surprise at her words. "Just how did you accomplish this?" He needs to know the how, so that he can protect her.

Siobhan wrinkles her nose in disgust. "I'm not eating raw meat, if that's what you mean." An undisguised shudder of revulsion passes through her body, but that's all she says on the matter of her symptoms. The dropped book makes her jump and she watches his sudden grip on the desk turn already pale knuckles white. Trailing her gaze up to his face, she tilts her head. There's the sense that she probably should be afraid of him or angry at his outburst at least, but instead she's finding that one corner of her mouth starts to twitch, like it wants to smile. "I made him an offer he would have been foolish to refuse." It's mostly the same answer she gave when he asked about Dumbledore, but this time she's willing to give more. The smile almost wins, but she bites the inside of her mouth hard enough to draw blood and the pain gives her something to focus on besides the realization that he's just as protective as she is. "I've been thinking about it for a long time, now. My decision on Sunday night cemented the idea."

Her hand jerks as if she had reached to pry his fingertips from the desk and aborted the motion halfway. "Stop that," she says softly instead, nodding down to his grip. "You'll hurt yourself." Another deep breath and she's meeting his dark eyes squarely. "I was careful, Severus. I used a common brown owl and released it from a few miles north of Little Hangleton. It carried a single pensieve memory I made of the spoken offer. He couldn't see my face or my hair and I spoke with my father's brogue." From 'He couldn't' to 'brogue', she lets her voice slide into the sweetly lilting tones of the refined Scottish nobility, as if to prove her point. "In exchange for the safety of the children, I offered to keep some of his more important secrets." The ones she conveniently left out of her report. "I offered to protect his spy from Dumbledore." And even though the brogue has left her speech, there's something distinctly … 'refined' about the smile that does quirk up her lips, then. "And an extra ear to the ground when it came to protecting some of his highest placed pawns."

Snape considers her words, shifting his gaze to one of his hands when she chides him. He ignores the correction in favor of considering the more important information. "At the least you appear to have been circumspect in your delivery of the message if not in the act of sending it." Mixed compliement? Naturally. "In exchange for keeping the names of several key workers in the ministry, one or two of which I have already named to Dumbledore myself, and for protecting me …" He pauses at the implications of saying those two words together, but continues on without further comment on it. "… He agreed to forestall his attack here? Until the end of the year?" The first thought that crosses his mind is an uncharacteristically gleeful one. Won't Shadow be pissed? However, that thought flies away as his mind considers possibilites and consequences of this decision.

"I shall have to plan for several new eventualities." Including the one where Voldemort asks him outright if he knows who's 'made him.' Annnd the one where Dumbledore asks him what the Dark Lord is up to, and why he's not attacking yet. "This is a crucial piece of information, Miss Noble. It gives us," yes, he said, us, "a little time and space to plan." He draws his arms back to the space right in front of him, tapping on the wood of the desk as he continues to follow the threads of effect through for several long, silent moments.

"No," Siobhan corrects softly, shaking her head to clarify one point. "For one full year. The terms of the agreement are binding until October the twenty-fourth of next year." It's not an Unbreakable Vow by any stretch of the imagination, but there is some subtle magic in the pressing of a personal seal. She nods to his last, however, letting the silence wash over them both. Siobhan knows that these things are crucial. It's why she didn't even try to keep them from him. There's another stray thread nagging at Sio's brain. A glance at the hourglass off to one side confirms that she still has time to at least make a beginning of it. Perhaps a more prudent individual would have simply accepted the large victory she'd already won with Snape's tentative allegiance - and his tacit acceptance of her friendship, to boot. But there's something in Sio's gut that tells her to push for this one last thing. Siobhan Noble is not in the habit of ignoring her gut. It tends to lead her in the right direction. "If you'll let me," she begins quietly after the comfortable silence has stretched to what feels like a natural conclusion. "I can show you where to find your core." Ah, she's jumped to the wandless magic. "That way you're pretty much where I'm at. Only you'll probably actually know what it all means." Whereas Sio goes mostly by trial and error with this particular branch of magic.

"If it does not take an inordinate amount of time." Snape grumbles. "I have marking." Marking the teacher's bane: always present. "I am only a fraction of the way through tonight's allotment." He considers her words again, and nods. "That gives us even more time. However…" Snape pauses, turning his full attention to the witch in front of him. "When did you send this grand missive? At my last meeting with him, the Dark Lord was insistent that we 'deliver the Potter boy to him at all costs.'" It may speak of deception already. "He may not need to attack the school proper to do so." Hogsmeade weekends, breaks, et cetera. "Did you specify the land of the school, the matricluating occupants of the school, or both in your agreement? Your previous statement alludes to both, but I wish to be clear." 'All students' does include the Potter brat.

After voicing his question, he returns to the other topic. "I have attempted to find it, but I am stymied. I am uncertain what may be preventing me."

Siobhan nods. "It shouldn't take very long. I found Q's pretty quickly and it didn't hurt her, so…" She shrugs. "And I can take your shift on patrol. I probably know the castle as well as anyone, now. And it's not like I'll be able to sleep for a while." She looks at him closely, then. The 'burnout' fatigue didn't escape her notice. "His conditions are that he will under no circumstances attack the school or affiliated grounds while there are children present and also that he will give the order to his people that any children caught in an attack elsewhere are to be hit with stunning or incapacitating spells only." She pauses, then gives a little more than she strictly feels comfortable with; he needs to know. "I worded it that way so that if … if Da and I can work out the wording and get the Ministry to approve the use of the Manor for students without another place to go over the summers, that he couldn't attack there either." She shifts a little, then, embarassed by what she sees as a selfish twist to the bargain.

"I have a theory on that, actually…" And here, Siobhan seems even more hesitant. She knows that she's not got the head for theories and there's real fear that she'll be completely off the mark and one of the few people whose good opinion actually matters will know her dirty little secret; that she isn't as smart as she pretends to be. "I … I think." She tugs nervously on one sleeve of her jumper and takes a steadying breath. "It's like how we can't feel our own brains or our livers or kidneys. We've been feeling them since we were born and so they get kinda … tuned out." This next part comes out in a bit of a rush. "Magic's probably the same, since we've had it as long as we can remember, we just tune it out. It's why wandless magic would be so hard to learn because you'd have to learn to control something you can't feel, but since I couldn't feel anything for so long…" Once she could feel again, it was like everything was brand new.

Snape remains silent, listening to her clarification. "That still does not protect Potter. His directive has always been 'Bring the boy to me.'" He hisses his words, sounding somewhat like the crazy man. "It does not sound like there was a limitation on the Dark Lord himself. If he should choose to capture the boy, he would not be breaking the technical terms of the agreement by torturing or killing him." There is a sharpness in his voice that proves his reluctance to even speak of the idea of Harry in danger. He has committed his life to the goal of keeping the brat safe, after all.

"A reasonable assumption, Miss Noble." There is his complete assessment of her theory. "Because of your unique experiences, you feel that you are able to find this 'center' and give me a means by which to access it." He also summarizes what he thinks she's saying. Her offer to take over his patrol is noted, thought about, and then accepted with a terse nod. "It may be a welcome change. I will need more time to consider the consequences of the new development, as well as finishing this infernal marking." He rubs his hand on the back of his neck, massaging the stress from one of the more common stress-collecting points. "I once heard a Hufflepuff relating an anecdote about his younger sister. His mother had taught her to swim as an infant, and because she had some innate memory of — swimming, it seemed to be a successful endeavor. Perhaps this might be taught younger as well?" It's a consideration. It'd only apply to purebloods and those raised in or near the wizarding world, however. So, many would see it as discrimination against the muggle-raised muggleborn.

Siobhan tracks the motion of his hand up to the tension point, mildly startled by the very … human motion until she realizes why. He's lowered his guard with her just a little bit. It seems a tiny thing, but it inspires a surge of protectiveness in Siobhan that she doesn't feel the least inclined to smother. "It could be taught younger, possibly. But for the time being I'd feel a bit safer if it stayed with you and I." Because if Dumbledore - or the Dark Lord - got wind of such a power… Unfolding her arms, she shifts herself forward on the chair until her elbows can lean against the edge of the desk. "I know you don't like to be touched," she ventures quietly. Or at least she's made the assumption based on observation. "But I don't think I can do this without physical contact." Her expression is apologetic, but she does reach her wand hand out across the parchment. "Your wand arm, please?"

"Of course, Miss Noble. I was not advocating an immediate release of the information to the general public with an accompanying manual." He snorts softly, and agrees easily to her request. "However, perhaps someday…" That faraway day when Voldemort is no longer an issue, and witches and wizards are safe from the machinations of old men who attempt to rectify past mistakes by making new ones — then there will be time and energy for such things. He steels himself, seeming to need to ready himself to be touched in such a way, then he extends an empty wand hand toward her, eyes wary, tracking her every movement.

Something hot and angry twitches in Siobhan's gut when she watches the effort it takes to simply offer his hand. People don't have that hesitation without a reason, but she tamps down on over-protective instincts and merely moves with care, reaching to grasp his hand without any hesitance or sudden movements. Her hand is small and fits easily in his larger one. Her grip is firm and warm, but not tight. Shifting her thumb across the back of his hand to secure a more comfortable angle, she closes her eyes and lets out a long, slow breath.

Reaching for the spinning sun that serves as her own magical core, Siobhan lets herself indulge in just the briefest of caresses. Here in its natural state, her raw magic poses no threat to her. Tugging on a thin strand, she wheels it from the core like a spool and guides it with a nudge down the all-too-familiar path of her wand arm. When it reaches her palm, she pushes just a bit harder and feels the strange jolt that last time had meant her magic had passed into Q. The sensations she'd felt at having her magic winding towards her familiars core didn't prepare her for the onslaught of sensation that comes with having it winding through another human. Her grip on his hand tightens - though not painfully - as she struggles to maintain her focus. A few steadying breaths and she pushes again, guiding her magic up the natural path made by his own wand arm.

To him, the sensation will feel as if sunlight has somehow managed to seep inside his bones, leaving warmth and soothed muscles in its wake. It's not his magic, but it is the magic of someone who not only means him no harm, but wishes to protect; wishes him well. It takes another long moment - for even with a pathway, Siobhan has to push and the effort is visible in the fine sheen of sweat that breaks out over her face - to reach his neck, but with one final push (and an accompanying tightening of her grip) Siobhan lets out a gasp.

Plunging into a bottomless swirling ocean of greens and blues, she finds her thread of sunlight reflected and refracted in breathtakingly blinding patterns before it is welcomed and - twisting into itself - absorbed into the darker waters below.

Severus Snape tenses when Siobhan's grip tightens. When it's clear that the touch will not hurt, he relaxes slightly. However, when the suffusion of magic begins into the center of his being, he relaxes even more. He scoots forward in his seat, leaning back a little against the chair, keeping the connection with his colleague. Aches and worries seem to burn in the bright sunlight's path. This time, the tightening of her grip seems appropriate. He gasps nearly simultaneously as she almost literally blazes the trail from the tip of his wand arm to the deep mass of magic inside his own core. "Merlin's beard." His whisper is hissed, but it's a sound of awe. There is magic there. And quite a lot of it, too.

Siobhan can't help but agree, leaning forward to brace herself against the desk's edge as she catches her breath, hand still gripping his as if holding on to something tangible will steady her. Siobhan knows the power that lies dormant in him just as well as he does, now. And while she knows her own sun is massive and powerful, she knows its boundaries - or so she thinks - and yet she could not see the end of his bottomless ocean. A breathless sort of laughter bubbles up to escape, even as she rests her chin on her free arm, probably messing up some piles of parchment in the process. "Told you so," she teases breathlessly, letting more of that whispered laughter escape until she's just braced against the desk, grinning like she'd just done something really, really cool.

Which, to be completely fair to young Siobhan Noble, she had.

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