1995-12-31: New Year's Revelations

Participants:

Snape_icon.gif Siobhan_icon.gif

Scene Title New Year's Revelations
Synopsis Siobhan steals Severus for a New Year celebration that involves neither detention nor headmasters nor torture of any kind.
Location Hogwarts/China/Manchester
Date December 31, 1995
Watch For <things to watch for>
Logger I am the Bad Wolf

New Year's Eve, aand all through the castle…. Wait. Wrong holiday. Usually, there isn't much going on in Hogwarts' castle New Year's Eve, so Severus Snape uses the perfectly fine afternoon to proctor a detention. It's a young Ravenclaw boy who spends a good portion of his day running his mouth. Unfortunately, that habit has not curtailed even with one full year (and a half, now) of Hogwarts' education under his belt. "Mister Molton, you will remain silent for the duration, or I shall give you a Babbling Beverage." He has had quite enough.

The young Ravenclaw in question gulps and falls silent for a few minutes, then begins to mutter under his breath again. Severus pinches the bridge of his nose and exhales loudly. He moves to the storage cupboard, rifles gently through his collected potions vials, and pulls one out. It is the brew in question.

Saved by the bell! Well, not really, just that 'Saved by Siobhan' doesn't have quite the same ring to it. Dressed in faded denims tucked into fuzzy-looking black boots and a soft violet tunic sweater belted with black suede at her hips, the youngest of the Noble brood apparently has no qualms whatsoever about pushing open the dungeon door without a knock. The student in question - by now a familiar face to her, too - gets a wild grin and a wink as she hops up to sit on the corner of Snape's desk, kicking her legs back and forth. "If you poison him now, Professor Snape, we'll never make it on time." It's a casual observation - almost as if she doesn't care at all one way or the other. "And there'll be loads of paperwork to deal with later, too."

"It is merely a Babbling Beverage, Professor Noble." They're at school in the presence of a student, so Snape adresses her by her title. "I was unaware that we had a deadline?' He casts a tempus. "Or that if we did, it was not quickly approaching." He totally ignores the concept of 'paperwork'. It wouldn't really be his paperwork. It'd be some member of the Ministry, and Dumbledore would have to spin… Nevermind. He sees her point. "I thought perhaps that loss of control of the particular function he struggles with might assist him in keeping some semblance of rein on his tongue." The 'Too Much Noise' theory of discipline.

Molton jumps a little when Siobhan enters the room, but looks up at her hopefully until she speaks. "You Slytherins are all the same," he mutters loudly enough for her to hear. "But that'll make me talk non-stop…" Being a Ravenclaw, the hammer does fall rather quickly, but it's comical to watch it fall. "Oh." He gets it, maybe.

"Not quickly approaching, no." But dealing with a poisoned student tends to take up an unholy amount of time. "Da gave me the portkey and I can activate it whenever." Sometimes it pays to have a father who doesn't need permits. Snape's protests about the nature of the potion have Siobhan sending a sympathetic sort of grin Molton's way. It's an expression that cools to a blank one almost instantly when he next opens his mouth. "If you really believe that still, Mister Molton, then you are entirely too stupid to deserve your House. Rowena would be ashamed of you." Funny how she says that last bit with such authority. Poor kid. Flexing her fingers, Siobhan turns to look toward Snape - apparently willing to play along in his scheme now that Molton has alienated her as a possible ally. "Do you need me to restrain him?" The flexion of her digits should give him enough of a clue as to how she would do such a thing - presuming, of course, that she isn't bluffing.

"Hmm. That does bear consideration," Snape replies, tapping his chin with a finger. "You are correct in that we are all Magical Humans, we are all ambitious in various ways, and we are all committed to our concept of the 'group', but otherwise, Molton, you are quite incorrect." He moves around, setting the vial on his desk as he ponders the situation. "I do not have the time today, and the professor who has agreed to oversee the rest of your detention will be extremely perturbed to deal with this. Besides…" His expression turns to an evil grin. "It would be more effective in the next few days when all your fellows return."

When Professor Noble flexes her fngers, Molton gulps. "No ma'am, I was merely running my mouth ma'am…" Then, Snape speaks, and his eyes widen almost comically. "Sir, you can't do that, please, sir, I need to …" He clamps his lips shut as if to try to prove to the pair that, yes, he really can shut up. At least for a few seconds.

Biting the inside of her mouth to keep from spoiling Severus' fun by grinning, Siobhan folds her hands back into her lap. Let the kids think Snape holds her leash. Life's more fun when people make assumptions. Especially when they're assumptions you can use later. "Come on, Professor Snape. We'll get a full report from Professor Vector, I'm sure. Who knows? Maybe his inner eagle will wake up while we're gone." Pushing herself off the desk in a small sort of hop, she brushes her palms against her hips and shrugs. "Or maybe not." It's snake speak for 'behave and you might get off easy', but Molton isn't a snake. Pity, that. "Either way, it's not our problem tonight." She can't entirely contain her excitement, bouncing on the balls of her feet anxiously. "So let's go before Albus shows up and invites us to tea."

Snape is better at hiding his grin than Siobhan, but only just. He nods. "Indeed. In fact, I believe I hear Professor Vector now." He swirls around, opening the door before she could turn the knob. "Right on time, Professor. We are discussing the merits of keeping one's own counsel, and Mister Molton is writing an essay to the same effect. I do have a Babbling Beverage if you are brave enough to administer it to him…" He points out the aforementioned bottle on the desk. "However, I have determined it might be more effective after his compatriots return." Septima nods, a small smile playing around her lips, and moves to the front of the room to observe Molton and his writing.

As for Snape, Siobhan's last sentence makes the man shudder almost imperceptibly. "Certainly. Will I require something specific?" Since Siobhan hasn't mentioned where they are headed specifically yet, he asks.

Giving Septima a nod and a warm smile, Siobhan slips around her to step out into the hallway. Out here, it's okay that she can't hide her grin - or a few quiet giggles. By the time Severus has given his instructions to Vector, she's fully in control of herself - enough to give him a cheeky grin at any rate - and already walking towards the entrance hall. With her short legs, it's not like it will be any challenge to catch her. "If I said something more colorful, would you change?" She doesn't have to look back at him to know his usual black attire. She doesn't really need to wait for his answer either. Still, she does glance at him over her shoulder with a playful grin. "Didn't think so, so we're set." She thinks so, anyway. Turning around so that she's facing him - and walking backwards - for a few steps, Siobhan then bounces into a turn forwards again and bounds up the steps to the front hall, her small frame almost seeming to vibrate with energy.

The whole situation is amusing to Severus, too, so he snorts a quick, quiet snort of laughter and then schools his face into its normal mask. "I always knew you were intelligent, Professor," he replies when she continues on without input from him. He strides a little more quickly, just enough to catch up with her. "Good. A portkey, then?" He frowns at her, wondering exactly what the plan is. It's not mistrust, just habit.

Bouncing around to face him again, Siobhan lifts an imaginary hat from her head, making the motion into a bow as she walks backwards before miming placing the thing back on her head. Her 'Why thank you my good fellow' sounds like a passable imitation of the Muggle crown prince - only her words can be understood - but are spoiled by a laugh as she turns back around and yanks open the great hulking door to the grounds. "Will a Portkey work from in here or do we need to be past the Apparition wards?" Fishing in her pocket, she pulls out a rather large old iron skeleton key, slipping her finger through the loop and spinning the thing idly. "And I know you don't like to Side-Along, but I couldn't get this close enough to walk, so unless you've been to China before … " She trails off, giving him the opportunity to answer.

Containing his mirth to a short huff of laughter, Severus responds to her last question first. "I have not." He has traveled some, but mainly on the home isles. "Yes, a portkey should work from inside the castle. It is the return trip which may be interesting." He shakes his head slowly, pausing to school his face into a glare as a young Gryffindor runs past. "No running in the hallways." He gestures toward the door. "Shall we?"

"Well then," Siobhan grins, slipping outside and turning to wait behind the large door. "You'll just have to trust me." She sounds positively gleeful - but not at all malicious - about the prospect. She misses the running Gryffindor entirely, but by now that's so routine as to be background noise, anyway. She'll wait for him to step outside before pushing the door shut with a 'thud'. Only when the sounds from inside the castle are smothered by the heavy oak does she turn around and extend her hand towards him. "You're safe with me, I promise." It's an attempt to lighten things - to take his mind off the fact that he won't be in control - but there's an undertone of earnestness there, too. The key is spun between her fingertips until the other end points towards him. "Ready when you are."

"If I did not trust you, we would not have come thus far," Severus replies. He gives a disapproving frown to the extra force applied to the door, and then holds out his hand. "I believe I am ready." He waits for her to speak the activation word.

Siobhan grins cheekily, ignoring his disapproving frown entirely. She's figured out by now that if she does something that actually bothers him, he won't be shy in saying so. Sharply. Feeling his grip on the key, she tightens her own and takes a deep breath. All of her shenanigans kept her mind off of this, but by now he will probably be able to read the trepidation, embarrassment and hesitation that flash across her features - even with how quickly they pass into that creepy sort of blank expression that means she's tightened her Occlumency to an iron hold. "Nobilis delectus nobis." With those three words, the world around them whirls and spins as if the great tornado of Oz has been summoned. It's more intense than a shorter-distance portkey, but thankfully no longer. Just when Siobhan feels the first stirrings of nausea in her gut, the key releases them into a controlled float down to the ground. Right in the middle of a bamboo thicket. "Circe, I wish Da would consent to a different passcode." While trying to catch her breath, apparently this one thought is the only one she can process. Two hard swallows and she straightens, extending her free hand towards him. "Come along, then. I'm not positive, but I think I smell a panda." And as cute as they may be, she's not exactly keen on being between one and its salad bar.

Snape snorts at the passcode. "Perhaps it is to impress upon you the importance of the words. Not that you in particular need the reminder." He is fully aware of her commitment to the family motto. "Others of your clan may be less inclined to listen to the adage." He looks around, enthralled by the smells, sights and sounds of a completely new place. It takes him a good few seconds to shake his reverie and follow her. "I am," well, maybe 'speechless' would be an apt description. He follows her at a sedate pace, still taking in the visible flora. He takes her hand eventually, and is dragged along.

"Are you joking?" Siobhan sounds incredulous, but also dryly amused. "From the time we were small, each of us had that motto drilled into our heads. I wouldn't be surprised if it's carved into our bones somewhere by now. We were taught that it will be we who shape the world and so our choices - no matter how small we may think they are - matter." Feeling his hand slip into hers, she tightens her grip - her hand much smaller than his - and pulls them out into a small clearing, stepping close enough to wrap her arm around his for Apparition. "I think we were the only kids I ever knew who would be … almost rewarded for making mistakes - so long as we owned up to them straight off." She'll raise her gaze to meet his, a quirked eyebrow the silent question of readiness. Sio's not quite stupid - or cruel - enough to jump them anywhere before he's ready. "Liam may be the Heir, but every one of us was raised to rule." Her sigh leaves a cloud of breath to float up into the night sky. "I haven't decided if that was a gift or a curse. Shall we?"

Snape is still looking around, wanting to take a few more minutes to observe the bamboo and other strange plants. He wonders how many of them are used locally for potions, and makes a mental note to look it up when he returns. He does listen to the words Siobhan speaks, though, and nods his understanding. "Perhaps, then, it is intended to be a phrase which you will never forget, even when that bone is exposed to the open air?" He knows he's being crude, but the point stands. "It has never been proven to be a dysfunction to have more than one individual prepared to take on the mantle of leadership. Perhaps that is why you fare so well in your current endeavor." It was more than just mere gumption that led her to take the reins of the Order meeting, or to concoct such an elaborate plan under the Headmaster's nose. Severus looks a little unsettled for the moment at being side-along apparated, but he inhales and gamely takes her arm with only a small, gruff grunt.

Winding her arm around his, Siobhan lays her palm on the back of his hand. Some part of her must sense his unease, because a burst of soothing, relaxing sunshine washes from her palm into his skin, meant to disperse and calm - as much as any unconscious action can be 'meant', at any rate. True to her word, she jumps them safely, settling them in the deep shadow of a stone tower, a great stone wall beneath their feet. "There, see?" She's teasing, but her voice - and her smile - is soft. "All in one piece." Instead of releasing him, she uses her grip to steer them both towards a section of the wall just a little ways down from where they are. "This part of the wall is off-limits to the Muggles. They're told it's unsafe." Which means they can perform magic without fear of discovery. "And even most wizards stay in the cities to celebrate, but there's a Muggle village out that way who put on the best fireworks show you'll ever see." She lifts her free hand to point over to the east, only sliding her arm from his when the low stone 'rail' is within reach.

Seemingly without regard to the fact that there's a sheer drop on the other side, Siobhan hops up to sit on the edge, spinning on her rump to sit with her legs dangling over the side and kicking her feet idly against the stone. "I've fared well so far because of a combination of luck and powerful allies." She's under no illusions on that score. "But I'm not sure how long that can last." Her lower lip is pulled back into her mouth and worried between her teeth. "The fact that he hasn't given us an opening to get Emmy worries me. He was supposed to make a move weeks ago, but he hasn't." And that frightens her. "Is there a way he could know our plans?"

Snape watches her execute the move, and steps a little closer to the edge, being less sanguine about the drop. He gazes out across the dark night, still affected by the burst of sunlight she gave him. "I have not seen a Muggle fireworks display in a while." Years, perhaps. And, too, it's been a while since he's seen a non-Weasley magical display, either. "Granted, but often, it takes a leader to grasp the advantage given her," in this situation, at least. "You have done adequately." It's intended to be praise, but seasoned with a healthy dose of realism.

The mention of Lancaster's child causes him to sit gingerly on the edge, still looking out toward the point she indicated. "I do not believe he knows of our plans," he opines truthfully, "but it is possible. I am not his only spy, just his best placed one." Thanks to Siobhan, at least now. "However, I believe he has become focused on the Potter boy to the exclusion of all other plots. He seems to have derived a pattern of waiting now, attempting to complete his plans later in the school year. "

He glances down at the ground, then moves to lift his legs over the wall, away from Siobhan. When he finally gets himself comfortably arranged, he looks toward the woman again. "We may have to rethink your plan of attack. He may not offer you that opening for a long while. Either he has not planned anything specific, or he is keeping the plans even closer to his chest than he usually does." He patently doesn't mention the third option: that the man's gone completely batshit insane and all planning has gone completely out the window. "When does this display normally start?" It's a pathetic attempt at small talk; humor him.

Siobhan is unperturbed by his realism; she wasn't looking for reassurance nor fishing for compliments, so his response - being agreement, of a sort - is almost expected. She turns to watch him sit, a soft sort of smile tugging at the corners of her mouth at his ginger treatment of the action. She does, however, keep her comments to herself. "If he knows our plans, then it's a good bet that he knows who I am." She does not sound pleased. "I'd hoped to keep that from everyone a while longer, at least, but I suppose it can't be helped. It's a good thing I got Minerva's signature - and Filius' and Pomona's - to Da already. If I know him, the whole thing will be a done deal by the end of the month." And then, by the terms of her own treaty, her family will be safe - at least in their own home.

When Severus shifts himself around, Siobhan reaches one hand out instinctively as if to steady him, but stops herself short of actually making contact. Instead, her hand is dropped to rest against the cold stone between them. "With you at the school, he might not think you need to be involved in the planning of any raids." Since, you know, he can't go on them. "It starts at midnight, so we've got about … I'd say half an hour?" A quick wandless tempus confirms her estimate. A silence falls, then, broken only by the wind whistling through the valley below them. "Jack thinks I'm seeing what I want to see," she begins suddenly, looking out over the inky horizon. "And I really can't explain it in any rational terms, but … " She inhales slowly, considering how best to go on. "I really think we could find powerful allies in Lucius and Narcissa. I know they're not the most popular pair, but Lady Narcissa has always been kind to me." Her thoughtful look is broken by a crooked smile. "And Lord Malfoy is funny." You know, in the same way that Severus is funny. Or Jas. That is - if one understands the humor.

"If the Dark Lord knew it was you who was making the deal, he would have done something to catch your attention before you were able to get what you needed, I believe. He would not allow someone to speak to him in the manner you did — as equals — without consequences. He allows it from Dumbledore, but I believe there is enough history between them to make it palatable." Severus snorts his mild amusement at her near-attempt at protecting him. It may seem that he laughs at the comments he's making, but at the moment, his attention is between them. He shifts a little, sliding back on the stone to find a better section to sit on.

When she mentions the Malfoys, an inscrutable expression crosses his face, and he focuses out across the black sky again. "Lucius can be amusing in his own way, yes." Which at times can be sadistically so. "Lucius Malfoy is a proud, ambitious man, Siobhan, but I believe his intention is to protect his family and further their place in the wizarding world." He falls silent as he considers the possibility. "With the situation with Miss Lancaster, we may indeed have an opening. Nothing is more important to the Malfoys than their scion. Miss Lancaster is also the heir apparent to a pureblood wizard family. Perhaps they may be convinced that Draco would be in danger if they remain in liege to the Dark Lord. I know they will not be accepted in the Order, nor do I believe they would attempt to join." He quiets again, thinking through the different ways they could speak to the older man.

Severus' shifting makes Siobhan realize the discomfort of her own position. A wave of her hand flings a cushioning charm - one of the few she can do well - at the stone before she spins herself, laying along the stone wall and folding her hands behind her head. She's close enough to be able to see him without craning her neck some odd way, but there's still an inch or so of stone between her head and his leg - enough to satisfy his boundaries, at least. "He may be a powerful sonofabitch, but I only know two people who can out-stubborn me and he isn't either one. I spoke to him the same way I speak to the Queen of the bloody country, so he can't complain about that." Well, he could and he probably would, but that's not the point. Leaving one hand to support the back of her neck, she lifts her right hand, holding it above her stomach and idly twirling white flames and golden smoke between her fingertips.

"I wouldn't ask them to join the Order. Albus expects a level of obedience bordering on the obsequious. They wouldn't stand for it, and why should they?" She snorts, then, half annoyed and half amused. "I'd suggest a subtle coup of the Order to save the salvageable among them, but we both saw how well they listened when Albus told me to run the meeting." Which is to say, that none of what she asked the others to do got done. Not one thing. "And I'm not entirely certain they'd follow our lead, either. You're Muggle-raised and I'm the youngest of the Nobles - and a girl to boot. I've only ever seen Lord Malfoy back down when Tom's involved, and I don't deal with my people that way." She rolls the flame and smoke into a small glowing ball, flicking it off her fingertips in a gentle toss in his direction. Practice, of sorts. "But he might be persuaded to work with us." Something to consider, anyway.

"It all depends on what he gains from the action." Severus watches her, so free with her magic, and bites back a small bit of envy. With all the control built into his world, he excels, but at the price of things like this. He looks down at his hand, thinking about the ball of flame coming at him. He raises his hand, relaxing some of the internal control and thinks about keeping the ball of flame from burning him. A tiny stream of water pulses out one of his fingertips, flies through the air shaped nearly like an arrow of pure water, and extinguishes her ball. A few drops may fall on her, but most escapes into the atmosphere as steam. "Considering the man believes himself to be higher placed than the 'bloody queen', I would not be surprised if he did complain." He snorts, thinking about madmen and chess games for a moment.

"The Order does serve a purpose. It unites all those who are strongly of like-mind, and corrals them into one small faction. It is fortunate, perhaps, that they do obsequiously follow Albus' orders. Otherwise, less calm heads would prevail, and we might indeed be in a much worse position." He is waxing philosophical as the first, tentative streaks shoot out across the sky. "However, the reverse is also true. They become the representative of any who lay any claim to their way of thinking, and that is dangerous for the majority of wizardom. Most would prefer a less dogmatic approach than either offers." He is fully aware that he is speaking to someone who agrees with him. Perhaps it is why he speaks. "I believe Lord Malfoy would consider such a middle ground, especially if his son could profit more from it." As to following their lead, Severus shakes his head. "I don't believe he actively 'follows Tom's lead' much more than I do. I believe he merely toes the line he's given because it behooves him to do so. If that incentive is taken away, I am unsure where his true intention lies." He follows her lead, casting a cushioning charm under himself, exhaling when the seat becomes more comfortable. "Be careful, Miss Noble," he jibes, "My summoning charm may not equal to the task of preventing your demise should you fall."

Those few drops fall on her nose, resulting in a half-gasp, half-giggle as the sensation makes her sneeze. "You were meant to catch it, not kill it," she protests - though it isn't a very strong attempt. "It wouldn't have burned you, you know." She made sure to enforce that part of the magic with a strong push of will before letting it fly, but he couldn't be expected to know that. She chuckles at his assessment. "I rather like Elizabeth. She's a fighter and no mistake about it. Muggle or not, I'm not entirely sure Tom would win that fight." And wouldn't she just love to be a fly on the wall for it, too.

As much as she'd like the ability sometimes, Siobhan has not yet learned to read minds outside the narrow purview of Legillimency. She cannot know the lick of envy that tugs at her friend, so it is ironic, in a sense, that as she tilts her head back to study his face, she is once again struck by the very control he mourns. Sitting up carefully, she slides her body so that she can sit on the thickest part of her charm - that is, near where her head had been. Once settled, she reaches her hand across to gently squeeze his wrist, looking up into his face. "You are allowed to relax, you know," she informs him quietly. "There's not a soul here but us and if I was going to hurt you I'd have done it long before now." Sio swipes her thumb across the back of his hand and then makes to pull hers away - once again retreating; once again pulling back after pushing.

The young professor drops her gaze from his and turns to watch the first sparks of light along the horizon. She listens to the rest of what he says in silence, not bothering to speak her assent - he knows she agrees with him. As for the last, however, she sighs, turning to him with a frown marring her brow. "My name is Siobhan, and you wouldn't let me fall." Two simple facts, but spoken with a touch more irritation than usual. A flash of brilliant color catches her eye as the display begins to intensify. Behind the layers of life and adulthood, there is a hint of child-like wonder as the fireworks light the night sky. Only ten minutes to the new year - the climax of the show. "Beautiful," she whispers under her breath - not even entirely aware of speaking aloud.

"I shall endeavor to remember that." It's a catch-all response to almost everything she's said to him: her name, the permission to relax, and that he was supposed to catch her happy ball of sunshine. "I have not yet met Her Majesty," he replies about the Muggle monarch, "though she does seem to be a formidable personage." He falls silent again, watching the light show with the intensity with which he does everything. He murmurs his agreement to her assessment of the display, and allows the silence to stretch out unmarred for several long moments before speaking again. "Do you suppose I could pick up a few samples of the foliage here on the way out?" It's pitch dark during the darkest part of the year, but that isn't an issue for a wizard at all. On one track, in the background, his mind is struggling to remember what he'd read about plants from this part of the world.

"You'd get along with her, I think. Very sharp lady, she is." Grinning to herself, Siobhan tucks her knees up to her chest and wraps her arms around her legs. A more compact position conserves heat, after all. "You'll have to come up this summer when their hunt stops at Torchwood. It's been ages since I've been able to go. Do you ride?" She considers for a moment. "Or shoot, maybe?" The silence she allows, comfortable with it in a way she savors. His speaking again doesn't surprise her, but his question does. And - of all things - it makes her laugh. Full on, proper, head-against-his-shoulder laughter. Lifting it while still grinning, she rocks her weight to bump her shoulder into his and shakes her head. "I bring you to the oldest, most fantastic fireworks display in the world - on the cusp of the new year, no less - and you want to go on a nature hike?" Somehow, to her, this is absolutely delightful. "I'm not budging until next year," she declares, the silly joke making her beam like a loon. She manages to hold out for almost another full minute before caving. "But after that, of course we'll go." Only another two minutes to go.

The fireworks start taking on the shapes of the animals in the cycle of the zodiac, starting with the ox and following the progression towards the rat. "You know it actually won't be the year of the Rat until next month? This used to be their celebration of Solstice, but over the last hundred years or so, it's sort of … merged with the Western New Year so that they make a night of it." Because of course this is vital information that he should be told. "My gran took me here when I was very little. Any year we didn't have to renew the blood wards with Hogmanay, she'd bring me here." She picks absently at a loose thread on her denims. "After she died, there wasn't anyone else who'd go, and then when I turned thirteen it was expected that I'd attend the big social events. Just never seemed right to come back on my own, you know?" Some places are meant to be shown - from her gran to Sio and now from her to Severus. Thirty seconds to the stroke of midnight and Siobhan rests her chin between her knees, holding her breath in a tiny bit of silly superstition.

Snape flicks his gaze between Siobhan's laughing frame and the amazing display in the sky. Not for the first time in his life, he is grateful for the darkness. Otherwise, she would see his completely bewildered expression. Does he ride? Or shoot? He watches the sky for a moment, using the images bursting in color and light to cover up his momentary mental sputtering. "I have not ridden anything more mundane than a hippogryff, and that only briefly." As for shooting, he is unsure how to answer that. "My hexing accuracy may lend itself well to the use of Muggle weaponry, but I have never had the opportunity to test that theory." He'd be willing to try, though. He doesn't voice that, choosing instead to nod as he listens to Siobhan's comments on her prior experiences here. "Thank you for inviting me along."

As she laughs at his exuberance, he lowers his head for a moment, still keeping his eyes on the lights. "My vocation is never far from my mind, Siobhan, and I have never been in this part of the world." His voice is dry, feeling the need to explain himself a little. "I was aware of the timing. We have had Chinese students in the past who wished to spend their 'New Year's performing family ward renewals." Not many, of course, but a few. "Perhaps I should show you the hill near Spinner's End." It would be the equivalent, just muddier and less grand.

Siobhan is astonished at his answer. "What, really?" She's not being an ass, truly. It's just one of those things she's always taken for granted. "I mean, logically I guess not everyone would ride or shoot as a habit, but I thought they'd be things you'd at least … learn?" Realizing that she's not helping her case any, she buries her head in her knees and groans. "I'm just going to shut up now before I dig myself any deeper into the spoilt rich kid hole and make you hate me forever." And fall silent she does. It's his thanks that pulls her out of it, turning her head to peer at him through the darkness. "You're welcome," she offers simply - sincerely. "I'm glad you came. I hadn't realized how much I've missed coming."

As for his work… "I know it isn't, Sev. I wasn't making fun." She realizes how important it is to him. "You just have an incredibly wicked sense of timing. Do you really think I'd bring you to China and not expect to go digging for ingredients?" Bracing one hand against his knee for balance, she stretches out one leg and leans back, fishing in her pocket for a moment before righting herself and handing over a folded up scrap of parchment. "Those are just the names I could find. I'd never heard of most of them, but I figured you'd know what they were." The fiery rat lights up the sky to a chorus of whistles, pops and bangs as the more traditional bursts flank him on all four directions.

"Mmm, midnight. A new day, a new month and a new year all at once. No wonder it's such a powerful time for magic." As if those foolish words were a cue, she shivers, wrapping her arms around herself again and turning to her companion with a grin that's only slightly forced. "Do you want to go now? It's still a few hours until midnight will come to Spinner's End. If we gather quickly, we'll get to have two New Years in one night - and how often do you get to do that, hmm?" It's not that she doesn't recognize the import of his offer - she does. Up until now, it's either been circumstances flinging or her barreling into his space and his life. To be invited is something she didn't quite expect, but there's also the faintest sort of itch at the base of her spine. It makes her want to move.

Snape feels the gulf between them for a long moment. He remains silent, remembering scraping for food, for clothes, for the very basics, and she assumes he had the time and resources to hunt or ride. He closes his eyes, thanking the gods, Merlin and whoever else is listening that he went to Hogwarts and stepped away from that, away from the pain, the anger, the tension… He shudders a little, letting her faux pas slide for now. He takes the parchment, lights his wand when it's clear the 'show' is over, and reads over the list. He blinks at some of the names, noticing a few things that are rare or near impossible to get on the Isle, and gives Siobhan a small smile. "I shall not spend too overly long collecting. I merely want a sample or two to work with." He folds up the paper again, recalling what he knows of each plant. "I am certain I saw at least three of these on the short walk we took from our arrival point to the apparition point…" He's very observant.

"If you would like. It is nothing so grand or bright as this, but the bobbies do put on a show…" There is a slight hint of the accent of his hometown in his words, just enough for her to notice if she's paying attention. "I would be pleased to share it with you…" He shrugs, willing to accept either answer.

As stupid as she can be, sometimes, Siobhan is - in general - an observant creature. She is sitting close enough to feel that shudder like a stab to the stomach. The last thing she ever wanted to do was cause discomfort, but she is also at a loss as to how she can fix what she's done. It is because she is watching him that she catches that small smile and for just a moment she can't quite breathe. Color rises to her cheeks even as she drops her gaze from his mouth to the parchment as it's folded again. "Of course," she answers, covering her moment of fluster by spinning a bit too quickly around to face the right way and stand. Flashing a distractingly bright smile, she extends her hand towards him. "Do you want to jump us this time?" She has absolutely no qualms about conceeding that control to him, that much is plain to see. She'll wait until he stands before turning, looking up into his face and smiling almost … shyly. "I've never seen the fireworks from England. I would very much like to." Which is to say; if Severus is pleased to show it, Siobhan would be pleased to see it.

Snape bites back the temptation to backpedal a bit, summoning that control and merely nodding, extinguishing the wandlight. "I think I might be persuaded to do that." He swings around, standing up on to the path, cancelling his cushioning charm and nodding toward the way they came. "Do you want to apparate us back to the clearing where we arrived?" It would be quickest. He could gather a few samples, then they could return quickly to the Isles and then he could apparate her to Spinner's End. He tilts his head a little, awaiting her answer.

Siobhan is waiting for that backpedal - expects it as a certainty with every line of tension in her small frame. When it does not come as it always has, she finds herself on entirely new footing and not at all sure what to do with it. And so Siobhan does what she does in any situation she isn't sure of. She flirts. "Need persuading, hmm? What kind, I wonder?" Wrapping her hand around the crook of his elbow, she jumps them effortlessly to the bamboo thicket where they first arrived. In an odd way, the jerk of apparition grounds her. It is familiar; the world has not turned on its head just because she finds she rather likes her friend's smile. Taking a deep breath, she steps back to allow his personal space and builds a globe of white-gold light between her hands, rolling it until it looks like a smaller, dimmer version of her own sun. A gentle toss upwards has it hovering over their heads. She may not know what he's looking for or how to gather it, but that doesn't mean she can't be helpful - in her own way.

Snape is slightly surprised by the apparition and the mini-sun above his head, but accepts it as part of the mystery of Siobhan Noble. He gazes around, locating the plants and beginning to collect a few samples. A thought crosses his mind, and he holds out his hand, wand still tucked in his pocket. He thinks about his intent and lets his magic loose to work. It begins by releasing a jet of a watery like substance, like before. However, it seems to coagulate in the air, making a bubble-like shape that opens at the top. Severus watches the odd effects, and looks over the rim of the 'bubble bag' before gently setting a small leaf of one of his finds inside. Incredibly enough, the bubble holds, and he gingerly sets the rest of his finds into the strange container. His eyes flash with the fierce pride and quiet joy of a job well done, and he muses silently that it's a good thing he seldom takes his students on collecting trips. "Would you care to assist?" It is a request, not a backwards demand like it might be to someone else. "If so, merely grasp these leaves here … attempt to get as many of the outer ones as possible…" He shows her what he means. "It accomplishes two things. It allows us to collect the ingredient, and it thins the plant for next year. It will not harm the plant in the least, if I am remembering correctly." Which is highly probable.

Siobhan watches at first without comment. This is his purview, not hers. His conjuration of the 'bubble bag' is not so much a surprise to her as it might be to someone else. Nevertheless, she is impressed. "My magic would have burned that up in a second. That's amazing, Sev." She steps closer, the ball of light following to hover over their heads. The flash of dark eyes is caught, but even with her study of his expressions it's not one she can really read. Joy is so little to be seen in his face and pride only slightly less rare. Given instructions, she is quick to follow them, rolling up her sleeves and crouching down to get at the ones he points out. At first, she is tentative about placing them into the conjured container, but when it seems that it is not damaged by her touch she is heartened and sets to her work in earnest, which should hopefully free him up to gather those items which require more expertise than poor Siobhan possesses. "As if you ever forget anything. How many of these do you need?"

Snape snorts at her question. "It is not a matter of need, exactly." He considers the process. "Perhaps ten more individual leaves?" That should fill one of his containers, and give him enough to make a few things with. He is busily gathering another plant nearby, one that amazingly seems to be in fruit, even in this cold, dark season. He gathers some of the larger, riper fruit, creates another 'bubble bag', and places them inside, watching as the two bags seem to follow the two of them around. He spots another kind of plant, and digs up the edge of it, pullng a few roots out, but leaving the main taproot intact. "I was rather impressed with the execution myself." He won't admit surprise. But, yes, surprised as well. "I believe that is plenty for now. We will need to head back soon if we wish to appear in place without needing to obliviate several people." His 'hill' is not warded against Muggles.

"I meant how many would you need to do something with," Siobhan clarifies, nodding at his reply and gathering the rest of the requested number. She isn't quite as precise as he is in speech, but the point generally gets across. Standing, Sio brushes her palms against her thighs and hides a smile in a cough into her elbow. "The return key will take us to the edge of the Manor's wards." She holds out said key so that he can take hold. Only once she can feel his grip on the metal rod does she activate the return. "Aedis." This time she isn't quite prepared for the jerk and twist of the Portkey. Instead of the graceful landing of a lifelong witch accustomed to such things, she stumbles and hits the ground on her side before momentum carries her to her back. There she lays, cradled in snow and laughing freely. "Here lies the lauded 'Pureblooded grace'," she gasps after a moment, making to try and push herself out of the snow and to her feet to brush herself off. "It died with me when I did the stupid thing and activated a Portkey before I was ready." Brown eyes seek black ones in the darkness. "You alright?"

Snape cannot help it. He chuckles softly at her fall and consequent joking. He, a little more used to landing in odd situations and unexpected places, remains upright, though he bobbles slightly, appearing drunk. "I shall not tell a soul." Well, maybe Eileen, but Mum doesn't quite count. He looks up, surprised to see that his ingredients have survived the trip unscathed. "I believe I have solved a major problem." Many ingredients cannot be transported cross-continent because of the weird magic of apparition and portkey. However, Severus' plants seem to have survived the trip, resting snugly in their little magic—free balls. Which are composed of magic. He stares at them for a moment, and then shakes his head, offering her an arm to get up. "I am unharmed, as are they." He gestures up toward the bubbles. "I shall apparate us to a spot nearby, and we shall walk to the hill. It will be a shorter walk than from the gates to the entrance hall." He waits for her to grasp on before counting to five in his head and apparating away.

"I will have to trust in your discretion, then." Not that this seems like it would be a problem. If anyone knows how to keep a secret, it's Severus Snape. Accepting his help in standing, Siobhan holds on to his arm with both of hers - both in readiness for Apparition and to steal a little of his heat. Tumbles in snow are not conducive to warmth, after all. "Good, a walk will warm me back up." And, trusting in him to get them there, she holds on tight and lets his magic lead hers to their destination.


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