|Synopsis||Siobhan gets special permission to host a single DADA class for all ages. Important information is imparted and several heart-attacks are given.|
|Date||October 20, 1995|
|Watch For||Unorthodox teaching methods, some frightened students, an unanswered question and creative use of Legillimency.|
|Logger||I am the Bad Wolf|
Friday afternoon just after the lunch hour sees the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom magically enhanced to fit far more students than it can normally hold. Even those students who don't have DADA at this time - or at all - are directed to this classroom and told to find a seat. Some of the other teachers line the longer walls, keeping a sharp eye on the antics of their charges. It takes longer than usual for everyone to get settled and quiet, but since there is so far no sign of the teaching professor, perhaps this was anticipated.
The last time Bean saw a classroom set up like this, it got very interesting very quickly. He moves to find a seat near the front — gotta be able to see the board after all — and sets up his note taking system. Quills, ink and parchment find their homes in very specific places on his desk. Hey. It's a system. It works. He turns around to see if his best friend is following him and attempts to save the seat right beside him. "Professor Noble?" He looks around the room to try to spot their teacher.
One of the professors lining the wall is Severus Snape. He gazes impassively across the filling room, arms across his chest. He has a fair idea of what the Professor is going to say, but the reaction of the little terrors is something entirely different.
Pierrick is, to be sure, quite glad that his hair is back to its normal blond, unlike the last time he was in this particular classroom. He's completely bewildered as to why everyone in the whole school is apparently supposed to be in this class all at once — wouldn't the different grades be wildly out of tune with each other? If this was about an announcement, wouldn't the Great Hall be a better choice? — but on the other hand, this isn't stopping him from smiling and waving at everyone he knows. Almost, he sits next to his brothers — but first Rainier and then Aristide get drawn away by other housemates, and so Pierrick, in time, ends up sitting with the other sixth-year Gryffindors. And … waits, wondering when Professor Noble is going to show up. He's being very careful not to speak any French at all, just in case.
Slowly sliding into a front-row seat and trying to be as unobtrusive as possible is Claire Sutton, who takes 'sliding' into the seat rather literally and starts instantaneously to slump down. If she were wearing a hoodie instead of her uniform, she would undoubtedly have pulled the hood over her head at this point. She looks rather as if she wants to put her head down on the desk and sleep if anyone gets a look at her at all, but mostly she's just trying to avoid making eye contact with anyone. A few of her housemates come and pat her on the shoulder regardless; mostly people she actually gets along with, so she makes little noises at their gestures.
Rene looks a bit harried- windblown, even- when he follows Bean inside, and hops after to find the seat next to him. His hair is in a long herringbone braid down his back, making him just a little less recognizable from behind. Thankfully, the front looks all the same. He takes a seat with a half-smile to his friend, producing a miraculously unrumpled, thickly feathered quill, of a palomino cream. "Pollux is molting, Aella had this for me." Which explains his windblown expression, having come down from the owlery. A lot of work for a stupid quill, but that's how he is when it comes to things from home.
"Where's the professor?" He finally notes, taking a narrow-eyed look along the walls, and around to the front of the room. "I hope being late for her own events is not going to be …habitual."
With a flair for the dramatic and for timing that Siobhan privately relishes, she chooses just this moment to appear. The door slamming open and then shut again is the first herald of her arrival, but as she strides down the middle of the classroom, her wand is raised over her head and flicked in a circular motion. With more successive banging, the wooden shutters close over the windows and torches flare to life along the walls. Brown eyes make contact with first Minerva's gaze and then Severus' and the young professor can't quite suppress the twitch of her lips that never quite makes it into a full-blown smile. Now she understands her former Head of House's penchant for theatrics. It's fun.
Coming to a stop at the front of the room, she turns on her heel to face the assembled students - all traces or even hints of a smile now gone. "Most of the Ministry doesn't want me to give this lesson." It's not exactly the most reassuring way to open up class, but given that Siobhan is dressed much like the traditional Aurors of old - belted green tunic, soft grey leggings and black dragonhide boots covered by a swooshing open robe of severe ebony - it doesn't much seem like she's very concerned about being 'reassuring'. "In fact, most of your parents probably don't want me to give this lesson either, but this is knowledge you need to have." Rene is given a sharp look. His earlier cheek was not missed, it seems. "Have you heard of a Death Eater, d'Allemagne?" There's something smooth and dangerous in her tone; a silk-covered dagger. "How many of you have heard of a Death Eater?" This time she raises her voice and addresses them all. There's a pause, then, as she watches for hands to rise. "How many have actually seen one?"
"What kind of a name is it," Claire whispers under her breath, to her desk; it is far from the first time anyone who knows her well at all has heard her mock the name 'Death Eater' for its, in her perception, meaningless stupidity. That does not stop her from raising her hand, though only as far as 'heard of.' She's not aware of having seen one, even if she has — which, of course, she has.
Bean may have actually seen one, but he's uncertain. He has, however, in his scurrying about the castle, definitely heard of them. He raises his hand, completely solemn. "I'm not sure if I've seen one or not, Professor. I have heard of them, though." His words are soft, and probably only heard by those in his near vicinity. He gazes over at Rene. "A quill from your own Abraxan? That's pretty neat." It's not really appropriate for in class, but it's one of those 'home' things that he envies terribly. "Not late. Just dramatic. Just like another teacher we know." He really appreciates the idea, yeah.
Severus Snape stands at the back of the room, watching the young professor enter. There is a smug look on his face: he knows where she picked up this flair thing. When she starts out locking things down like that, the smug smile slides off. He's seen this approach as well. Part of him applauds the use of any available tactic to get this point across, but a greater part of him grumbles at using that … individual's methods for anything.
Pierrick is one of those who raises, and then drops, his hand — so far as he knows, at least, he hasn't seen any Death Eaters at all, not even the one standing at the back of the classroom. "It is said, they are the ones who claimed responsibility for the attack on Beauxbatons," he murmurs, his voice soft but strong enough to carry throughout the room. Siobhan can't get mad at him for saying Beauxbatons with a proper accent, can she? It's a name!
Rene very nearly bolts into a standing position, but somehow his arse stays glued to the seat. "Yes, ser." A beat. "Ma'am." He wrinkles his nose a moment, sticking the Abraxan quill into his robes. He lifts his hand along with the Heard Ofs, but not the Seens. "My father calls my birthmother one when he has been in the firewhisky, but I think that is- ah- spite and drink talking. As he calls her- other- things." There are at least a few sniggers from behind him- a few young Ravens and an older Snake.
Enough about Vivien's ex-wife, then. Rene tilts his head back to look to the familiar accent's source, taking a moment to recall the name of the older boy. He made a point to learn a lot of the Beauxbaton names. Rene goes back to watching Siobhan soon after, however, making sure to remember the task he shares with Bean. If there's an opening, this may be a good class wherein to plant some other gossip.
Siobhan watches hands rise and fall, sharp brown eyes roaming over many familiar faces and even a few not-so-familiar. Snape's smug expression is lingered over, but she does resist the urge to roll her eyes - barely. Mostly by raising a single amused brow. To Pierrick and Bean, she nods. "The Death Eaters were responsible for the attack on Beauxbatons, yes." No, she's not going to ginger-ify anyone for their accents. Rene is given a Look that even a snake his age should be able to interpret as 'Not here, not now'.
"The Death Eaters are the personal army of a man who calls himself Lord Voldemort." There is no hesitation when she says the name, though there might be just the barest hint of apology in her gaze when it flicks back towards the back of the room. "The Ministry wants to think of them as ancient history, but the cold hard truth is that the Dark Lord is back." She lets a pause fall there naturally, allowing time for information to soak into decidedly thick young skulls. "And whatever the Ministry in their ignorance wants to think, I - and your other professors - " she nods around the room to the assembled faculty " - believe very strongly that you should have all the information I can give you on this madman and his army. If you are in their way, they will kill you." Another silence falls and she turns to walk around her desk to stand behind it - facing them once again.
"You need to know what to look for, but there is one thing you must know above all else. These people were chosen for a reason. They are unswervingly loyal to their master and they are very, very good at what they do. I don't know what you may have been told about the Battle at Hogsmeade last winter, but if you asked any one of us who were there, we would all tell you the same thing. It was not fun. It was not an adventure. It was cold and wet and painful and terrifying as hell." Her eyes flick back and forth from face to face and her voice gets very serious. "I have faced Death Eaters in a fight twice now and I can say with honesty that I am still alive only through sheer dumb luck…" And here her expression is softened by a smile. "And because I have some very good friends. Not everyone was so lucky." Last year's brood will remember the death of Perpetua and the ghosts of the Muggle villagers.
Julian listens intently, all attention focused on the woman at the front of the room. Good. Information he can actually use. He nods his approval quickly, scribbling notes down about Lord Voldemort and what she's said so far, though there may not be a lot spoken on the surface, there is still more said that he picks up. "S not the time, Frenchy." Bean hisses out of the side of his mouth, still scribbling. He looks back up at his teacher eagerly, waiting for more kernels of knowledge.
Snape frowns slightly at her use of the Dark Lord's name, but does not speak up, especially when he catches the look she flashes at him. He does, however, lean forward and hiss at a student. "Marden. Ten points from Gryffindor. Sit still, and silent."
Somehow — somehow — Pierrick manages to keep what he says quiet enough that none of the teachers hear it, although he is, unfortunately, the cause of Marden's lost points — the helpless giggles might have had something to do with it, following his mutter about how he simply can't understand why anyone would want to use that for a name, seeing as how it means, essentially, "flight-death".
Oh, and one of those other sniggers at Rene was absolutely and completely Claire, though she was an older snake to the left rather than in the back. Once Siobhan keeps speaking, though, Claire shuts up and simply listens, absorbing all that her friend and teacher has to say. Claire wasn't actually there, but some may interpret that as having done worse damage to her than if she had been — survivor's guilt clattering around in her mind. She didn't have to deal with any of the horrors as everyone else did. She was hidden away in a hospital, safe.
No doubt a bunch of the little ones set to wincing and wriggling at the name- Rene does, at least a little, but also because his attempt at bringing a ray of light seemed to backfire so badly. Ah, well. Rene crosses his feet at the ankles and sombers himself up for the continuance of Siobhan's speech. Long before she brings up the past encounters, Rene is remembering the hummingbird that was his heart in his chest when the ghosts came to Hogwarts. He did try to put it behind him, and only partially succeeded. The glitter of his blue eyes pales somewhat, Professor Noble's words in his ears again.
His lips thinned in a fine line, Rene offers her a moment's long apologetic look for earlier, despite its half-pertinence. Julian may write his notes, but much of what Rene is hearing is verbatim from the adults he has met who lived through the first war. Siobhan has wisdom in putting it there for them again, regardless of means.
Grateful for Julian's intercession with young Rene, Siobhan nonetheless silences him with a mildly warning look. Another sweep of the room catches Snape leaning over some poor Gryffindor, though, and Siobhan has to cough discreetly into one hand to hide her grin. Some things should never, ever change. Claire's pale expression is noted and Siobhan pauses for just a moment to give her a questioning look. It's amazing how much communication can be achieved without speaking a single word. With no one seeming like they're about to argue with her previous statements, she nods sharply and continues. "The first thing you need to be aware of is this." Snapping her tiny willow wand in a figure-eight type motion, she points it up and out with a firm spell of "Morsmorde." spoken. Green smoke shoots from her wand, forming a floating image of the skull-and-serpent in the air above the desk. It casts a sickly green light over the room, adding an element of fear that not even the torches' warm glow can counter. The snake slithers out from the skull's open jaws, writhing and twisting in silent threat. "This is called the Dark Mark. When the Dark Lord wants to claim an attack as his own, one of his followers will cast this into the sky." It'll be much larger, but they'll sure as hell recognize it now. "If you see this symbol anywhere, you run in the opposite direction. When you see this symbol, it means death."
Claire taps her wrist in response to Siobhan's look — the wrist wearing the 'Diabetic' identification bracelet, hopefully answering the unspoken question with an equally unspoken answer. Seconds after this gesture she's jumping backward, startled: sleepy Claire is now jittery, jumpy Claire because that was extremely sudden a motion and now the light of the room is dark and grimy. She squints and crinkles her nose, then demands, "Why make the poor snake look evil?" in a soft voice.
And Pierrick, well. It's not as if he was at Beauxbatons, in the aftermath — he'd been in America, no less, enjoying a summer away from school, at the time of the attack. But returning home as soon as the news reached them in Los Angeles, he and his family had seen the newspapers and the photographs of the wreckage — and the remnants of that exact image. So if Pierrick looks somewhat ill, in the wake of Siobhan's spell, he is at least not alone; his brothers, too, and several of the other Beauxbatons students, look just as heart-sick as he does. He looks to McGonagall for reassurance, but his glances are trending just as much toward Siobhan — but toward her, there is an element of mistrust, that she might know how to cast this spell so convincingly in the first place, and feel as though it's necessary to frighten them all so deeply.
Amid the indrawn breaths and gasps (and one outright shriek from a girl Bean thinks is a Hufflepuff), Julian just stares at the symbol for a long moment at the symbol, copying it down nearly perfectly into his notes. He scribbles notes around it, considering things he's heard and read already about the symbol itself. He frowns, giving it a long look before returning his full and complete attention to the woman at the front of the class.
Snape's eyes narrow, and he hisses to himself, an expression of complete disapproval on his face. He knew she was going to talk about this stuff, but she left some particulars out. He turns to hiss some comment to his fellow Head of House, but forebears when he sees Minerva sliding down into a chair, hand clutched to her chest, face a picture of abject shock.
Rene is already rather small- shrinking down a few inches into his chair makes him downright wee. Being so much to the front of the room, he is cast in the light that the spell gives off. Uncomfortable? Absolutely. He remembered what it looked like, and teenagers don't appreciate being forced to relive something, much of the time. Glancing aside, it is Rene's turn to make a rankled face about something. Bean, really? You're drawing it? Come, now.
There's a visible stab of sadness that rips across Siobhan's face as she watches and listens to the growing fear in the room. Steeling herself, she closes her face away in a distant sort of mask, even as she dispenses the green Mark with another wave of her wand. There is no apology in her expression, nor does she offer one with words, but there is a long, unbroken stare towards the back of the classroom while she waits for the children - and adults - to settle down.
Siobhan moves to catch Severus' eye, maintaining that necessary eye-contact and pushing at the walls in his mind. Push, retreat, push, retreat and then pull back completely. Maybe he'll get the message and push back. When he does, that push back will find an organic thorny hedge around Siobhan's own mind, though there is one thought left right up front and center, left for him to find. "It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission. I wouldn't do it if I didn't have to." And then a small pause. "Forgive me?"
Snape's response is quick and direct. "Legillimens during a class?" It's nearly an aside, but it couches the main thought. "Yes. I understand. I do not like it…" And the sense of his hatred for the necessity pours through his words, "But I do understand. Nothing to forgive." Or, in Snape-speak, Sure. Forgiven.
Siobhan snorts. "Don't teach me something if you don't expect me to use it." But with those lightly teasing words, she breaks eye contact and withdraws to continue her lesson.
Once she has silence, Siobhan breaks her stare with the darkness and reaches to roll up the sleeves on her robe. "Both of my arms are bare and clean," she announces loud enough to reach even the most distant of her audience. "But those who serve the Dark Lord bear that self-same mark in deepest black on their left forearms." Since she can't very well drag a Death Eater into class for Show-and-Tell, she's had to come up with an alternative. A muttered spell and ink flies from the tip of her wand to stain her skin in a pattern similar to the mark made in the sky. "It will look very much like this." She walks slowly up the middle row again, showing the 'artwork' on her arm to the students as she passes until a quick 'Evanesco' and tap of her wand to her arm leaves the skin pink but clean. "Unlike this, however," and she holds up her arm to show off the empty skin. "It will not come off." She strides back to the front of the room, letting her sleeves fall over her arms again and decidedly not looking at the professors lined along the back wall. "If you see someone with that mark on their arm, you need to keep your mouth shut until you are well away from them. Don't let them know you've seen it or they will kill you. Find me. Find your Head of House. Find any adult you trust completely and tell them in private."
Pierrick finds, eventually — when McGonagall straightens and tries to calm her wayward Gryffindor kittens with smiles — that he has, really, just one question. And so, debating and eventually discarding the idea of raising his hand and waiting to be called on, he raises his hand and calls out — "Why, Professeure? Why do they mark themselves so, that they might be so readily identified? Do they not wish to operate in secrecy?"
Claire, of course, already asked a question. Technically, two. She never expected answers to them, and she did blurt them out, but in a low voice, and so Pierrick just gets a weird look for calling out of turn and demanding answers from the fine Professor Noble. And then she's leeeeaning over to try to get a look at Bean's drawings.
Bean notices the changes in the symbol. He's hurriedly copying it down, gazing at it before she clears it off. "Surely, it's not just there to look at?" He asks his question quickly, still writing despite odd looks from comrades and schoolmates. He glances over at Rene just in time to catch his look. His only response to the other boy is a half-shrug and a sheepish smile. He learns one way, Frenchy learns another. Knowledge is power. Power is good, right?
Severus Snape gazes directly at the teacher, catching her eye for a long moment. When she decorates her arm with that foul symbol, he hisses again nearly sliding down into a crouch himself. His eyes narrow, and he exhales sharply. There is a visible relaxing of his shoulders when the mark disappears again, and, just for the briefest of seconds, some other emotion may flicker across his eyes, the only sign that he is affected by the display.
"If you are proud of the things that you have done, would you not want the world to know?" Rene may be piping up to Pierrick much out of turn, in his clear bell of a voice, but perhaps the turn is fitting as much as his words are. He bites his lip, though, aware that he says it out loud only after the fact. Physically, he is relieved when the symbol and mark disappear, respectively; Siobhan is a bold woman, to try such things in a classroom, much less at all.
Pierrick's question, followed quickly by Bean's on its heels… It makes Siobhan stop, bracing one hip back against her desk and folding her arms over her chest. Her brown gaze roams over those assembled, lingering longest on the hissing, half-crouched and very-much-not-happy-looking figure in the back. "No," she answers on a sigh, running a hand down over her face. "It's not just for show." Rene's contribution is - this time - nodded at. "You're right, in part. It's the same reason their murders are marked with the green symbol in the sky. But it's not only about pride. It's about instilling fear. The Dark Lord wants us to be afraid of him and his followers." She pushes that same hand back through her hair, shifting the loose curls from her back to fall over one shoulder. "And you should be afraid of him. I am. He throws out the Cruciatus curse like crisps at a party - " got to love the … interesting metaphor, there " - and that's to the people who follow him. Who are valuable to him. He is a very dangerous man - as are those who wear his mark."
She uses the hip to push away from the desk and stand straight. "But what he doesn't realize is that being afraid of him and his followers isn't a bad thing. Fear is what keeps us alive - it's the voice in our brain that tells us to run or hide because this is a fight we cannot win." She moves forward, resting one hand on Bean's shoulder and one on Rene's, squeezing lightly and offering the first reassuring smile of the evening. "It's normal to be afraid of witches and wizards more powerful than you are. But that doesn't mean you have to live in that fear. Recognize it. Accept it. Use it as a tool to survive. Move on." And so she does, turning back towards her desk to grab the next part of the lesson. "Any further questions before I continue?"
Julian shakes his head, shifting so that he can keep her reassuring hand on his shoulder and still look up at her. He gets quite a bit from expressions and body language. Which is why he doesn't press when she doesn't answer his question completely. He frowns slightly, listening to her words, quill silent as he processes the sentiment. "Be the shoe." He snorts, remembering something he'd told himself a long time ago.
Snape watches Siobhan teach, remaining silent, his legendary composure serving him well. When she expresses a similie to compare the Dark Lord's use of Unforgivables, he cannot supress a snort of incredulous laughter. It passes quickly, but yes, Severus Snape is amused. And a bit horrified. However, he refocuses, and nods his agreement to her words. Among the professors lined along the wall, several others nod their heads, also affirming their youngest colleague's words.
Pierrick is likely not the first to drop his eyes, but drop them he does; Siobhan has said more than enough for him already, and he'd be happy to leave as soon as possible. So no, he doesn't have any other questions before she continues. (Except for whether crisps are supposed to be pommes frites or puces, and he's pretty sure right now he's just not going to ask.)
Claire shakes her head, and that's just about all she has to contribute. A shake of the head. And then that selfsame head is down on her arms, which are down on her desk as she looks up at Siobhan and waits to see just what's going to happen next. The fact that there's a continuation is in and of itself ominous.
Did someone else laugh? Rene squints over his shoulder a moment, tutting in near silence. Reprimand him too! Jeez. He turns back to watch Siobhan, his silence affirmation of her words in his head. Hopefully, of all these things that they are being told, they will never have to actually put things to the test. Hogwarts is safe, right? Hogsmeade less so- and after the past debacle, he is certain that the castle is more secure.
That familiar snort of incredulous laughter seems to settle Siobhan, enough so that she looks up in time to see other professors nodding approval. Relieved that she isn't about to be fired or hauled off to the Ministry for performing spells of questionable legality, she takes a deep breath and relaxes into the next part of her lesson.
Pulling out a set of … really, really long black robes of the hooded variety, she taps the fabric with her wand and it settles over thin air as if over an invisible mannequin. The hood is drawn up over an invisible head and a mask that looks like bone is settled over an invisible face. "Most of the time you won't be able to tell who is a Death Eater and who is not. The Dark Order attracts many different people for many different reasons. When they raid, however - when they attack, they will look like this." She gestures towards the 'model' next to her. "If you see people dressed like this, your safest bet is to find the best hiding place you can and stay put." She figures those instructions are clear enough. "If you are caught out - and only if you are caught out - with nowhere left to run or hide, then you will have to defend yourselves." She's very serious about this. "Now that I know your individual levels of ability, I will do my absolute best this term to teach you how to do so for yourselves and for those who cannot defend themselves." She folds her arms over her chest and levels a stern glare across the room.
"We started with this lesson for a reason. I want you to know the enemy you may very well find yourselves facing, because if you don't know what they're capable of, you cannot possibly make a decision concerning fight or flight. I want you to know not only how to defend yourselves, but also when to do so." There's a softening to her gaze as she finds familiar - and sometimes dear - faces among her audience of students. "Because when is just as important as how." Something else is said, but sotto vocce, so that only those few students up front are close enough to hear her whispered lament of, "And I don't want any more deaths on my conscience." Clearing her throat, then, she barks out a single, sharp, "Class dismissed!" and then whirls around to brace herself against the desk while the noise of students talking and scuffling and moving about almost manages to drown out her thoughts.
Pierrick has had his fill of studying the 'mannequin', as she talks — between that, his discomfort with the entire subject, and the heartache at remembering the loss of his school, the school where he should be, would have been, if only — well, he's out the door like a shot.
Julian scribbles down a few more things, including a fairly accurate picture of the cloak, leaving the face portion of the body blank — or blurry. He finishes quickly, attempting to catch the teacher's eye to bid her farewell. When he fails, he grabs his things and then his best friend's arm, and moves to head out the door. If Rene doesn't pull away, the two young Slytherins are gone very soon as well.
"No, Mister Rockwell, it is not amusing." Severus Snape leans in to chastise a small Lion. "Fifteen points from your house, and you may spend your evening assisting me with a small task. Seven o'clock sharp." He hisses his instructions loudly then watches the students scurry out of the room. He will remain for a few minutes, though he speaks no more, not even to Professor Noble.
Maybe it is good that Bean tugs him along- else Rene may get a little sniping for before. He picks up the hem of his robes before he trips over them, sidestepping along with his friend when the class is properly dismissed, and the stream of students gets ushered out in rank and file. "I think I liked that lesson." He leans in to say this, hushed, into Bean's ear.
And Claire? Claire is just as slow to rise as she was to sit, sliding out of her seat and moving like molasses out to the door. Eventually, she even gets to her common room.
Only when the last shuffle of footsteps and chattering voices fades away into silence does Siobhan lift her head, letting it fall back against her shoulders. Standing straight, she turns around to face her almost-empty classroom and her eyes meet Severus' watchful gaze. To him and him alone will she let her ghosts show in her gaze; haunted and hollow. Then, without a word, she turns and slowly stalks up the spiral stairs to her office - to coffee and solitude and guilt.
Any additional notes fall to the bottom.