1996-03-05C: Paradigm Shift

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Snape_icon.gif Siobhan_icon.gif

Scene Title Paradigm Shift
Synopsis Siobhan seeks out the comfort of her mate after a long day. Things spiral.
Location Hogwarts - Snape's Office / Snape's Quarters
Date March 05, 1996
Watch For Pieces falling into place
Logger Bright One

Severus sits at his desk in the office, marking the essays he put off this weekend. His attention is almost completely on the papers in front of him, and as he grades them he rolls his eyes, snorts, mutters and shakes his head. He scribbles notes on each one with varying levels of acerbic comments. When he finishes grading an essay, it goes into a stack, each neatly piled against the others.

Leaning on the wall outside the office door, Siobhan lifts one hand and knocks on the wood - three swift taps, a pause and then two more. The cadence makes her grin - it's not until after she hears it that she realizes what she's done. It's the same pattern she used all through school - especially for those times she showed up after hours or when she wasn't (strictly speaking) supposed to be around. Arms folded over her chest, she waits. Her white-gold sunshine sings with the fact that its mate is nearby, but even so. It's only polite and it technically is still office hours.

Severus is finishing the grading on a particularly inane essay when the quill slips. He looks up, his magic instinctively reaching out toward bright warmth. "Professor Noble. Give me a moment, and I shall be available to speak with you." He speaks the words without inflection, but there is a bright pulse of affection in his gaze.

It's not the Enter she used to get, but for Siobhan's purposes it'll do just as well. Pushing on the door's handle, she slips inside and lets it fall shut behind her. The brush of his magic as it reaches out makes her shiver and smile. It always feels the same, but her reaction never lessens. Collapsing into her usual seat across from him, she leans back against the hard wood and lets her eyes fall closed, waving a hand at him in a vague 'go on' gesture. "Finish up what you've got there. I'm done for the night, finally." Which means she's in no rush. "Didn't mean to interrupt."

"I am nearly finished myself." Severus replies, watching her flounce into the chair with unabashed appreciation. He gazes at her for a moment, then returns to grading the last two essays. After he's finished the first one, he sets it aside and looks up, as though making sure she's still there. Content when he sees her there, he returns to the essay. Disgusted, he rolls his eyes as he scribbles the last comments. "There. The last one has been completed." He flicks his wand, and the stack of essays floats over to a shelf for them. He sets his quill and ink aside, and lays his wand down. "Good evening, Siobhan." He smirks at her, the edges of a true smile showing.

"Hey," she replies. It's less formal and more weary, but there's a soft smile and a genuine affection to go with it. "I don't know how you've done that for the last fifteen years." She tips her head toward the stack of essays and flexes both hands to loosen stiff fingers. "I had one month of essays to mark and I think my head's turned to jelly." Reaching up to rub circles over both temples, she sighs. "Next time I fall off the face of the earth, please Merlin give my kids to Jethro or Jack or you." Because Minnie's essay questions border on the existential. "Did you make it up to dinner?" She, obviously, opted to try and finish off the last of the essays instead.

"Yes." Severus replies, snorting at her complaints about Minerva and the essays. "You have eaten today, correct?" He is slightly protective of his mate, but she is still recovering and he wants to make sure that recovery is complete. "It is not that difficult for me. Banal, annoying, stiltifying, but not difficult." He shakes his head, then stands, moving to sit in one of the chairs nearer her. He wants to be close enough to touch her, so he does. He reaches out toward her hand, grasping it, if he can. It's another necessary reassurance of her presence.

"A bit at lunch, yeah." Siobhan knows he worries. She tries to ease those concerns whenever she can, even if it means hiding the nausea that crops up every so often. "Guess essays aren't my strong point, then." She tries to make it sound amused, but pretty much fails. Ah well, he marked her written work for years. Not like it's any kind of secret. When he grasps her hand, the spark of familiar magic feels good. Soothing. There's half a minute where she debates the merits of invading that chair right on top of him, but given the small size and relative discomfort of the wood, decides against it. Still, she wants … something. Not even sure of the 'what' herself, she stands and kicks her now-empty chair back a little ways before turning and folding herself to sit on the floor between his feet, where she can lay her head on his thigh and gain a measure of the physical contact she wanted. One final flick of her wrist toward the door locks it. It's still there in case someone needs something, but there's not a chance of anyone just waltzing right on in, either.

"As long as you are getting sufficient nutrients to encourage your complete recovery." Severus responds. He knows he's worrying more than he needs to, but he can't help it. He watches her stand up then move to sit at his feet. He cards his fingers through her hair, content to just sit and feel her presence nearby. "No, you are much more adept at the practical application of magic. Our students do not often find a teacher who can demonstrate that appropriately. The theory may be found easily should one be able to apprehend it well." That's what the library is for. "It is the practical side which saves their misbegotten behinds." He snorts again, leaning back in his seat.

Fingers playing in her hair make Siobhan melt, relaxing into the sensation with just the softest mewl of pleasure. The comment on student arses mixed with soft-spoken praise makes her laugh softly, shifting her weight into a more comfortable position and leaning a little heavier against his leg. "Thanks," she breathes, content to let her eyes slide closed and simply soak up his nearness and the slow mingling of their magic. "Had a meeting with Jake and Jack this morning." And doesn't that sentence make her brain hurt, just a little bit. "We have our cursebreaker. Plus about thirty-five additional governmental contacts, worldwide." That list alone is worth easily twice Jack's - very generous - yearly salary. It was a good business move on several different levels.

"Hmmm." Severus accepts her thanks with a quiet hum. When she melts against him, something stirs inside, something deep and feral. "Icarus will be a decent addition to the team." He smirks, just enjoying their contact for a moment. The comment about the contacts gets an inquisitive look. "I am surprised that he has kept that many friends peaceably." It's not really meant as a malicious jibe, though it may be heard that way. He does remember Jack from school. Though not as well as he remembers Liam.

"So long as he doesn't sleep with them, he's very good at keeping friends." Siobhan loves her brother fiercely, but she doesn't have any illusions when it comes to him either. "It's part of why his thing with Maura worries me." To her mate, she isn't afraid to admit that concern. And as tempting as it would be to go off on that tangent, Siobhan does, in fact, have a little bit of that leonine courage her family is so famous for. "There's … something else we discussed." That doesn't mean she won't do it with a little care and tact. "Jake agreed to file paperwork for me to be listed as Bean's legal adoptive guardian when he files the ones for Cole. That way I can get him to the specialists he needs to see without having to fight the entire British Ministry to do it." It'll also mean he has a home.

The hand carding through Siobhan's hair stops, and he sits up a little straighter. "We would be responsible for him?" Severus' tone is flat, sharing no emotion whatsoever. Even here with his mate, he has to take a moment or two to come to grips with new information. It's a long, quiet moment before his hand starts moving again, and he sighs. "That will be acceptable. I had concerns when I heard of his issues." Both with the family he'd stayed with and with his health. "Perhaps I may be able to assist; a potion may help diagnose or alleviate his problem." If a standard potion doesn't yet exist, he may be able to tweak or create something that will help.

That immediately assumed 'we' makes Siobhan smile. It brings on a weird kind of warm, fizzy feeling in her chest. Even so, she must be clear. "Technically, love, I would be responsible for him. You have no legal obligation to this whatsoever." She's giving him an 'out', in case he wants to take it. There should always be an out. "Jack has a call in to Artemis - our healer - who may know where it would be best to start." She hesitates, but eventually continues - soothed by the hand in her hair. "Either way, I wanted to ask for your help." Lifting her head, she turns so that she's looking up into his face. "There's no one else I'd trust with his life." And unfounded or not, Sio does fear for the child's life.

"I am cognizant of the technicalities," Severus states, tensing slightly for a moment. "However, I would have no qualms with accepting a more permanent responsibility for him." He already has the 'loco parentis' of the kid's Head of House; making the relationship more permanent wouldn't bother him at all. "Of a certainty," Severus replies. "Took is a fairly accomplished healer. I have worked with him briefly in the past."

When he tenses, Siobhan's hand raises to rub soothing circles on his thigh. The response is automatic, instinctive to the point that even she looks at her hand a bit askance. Her own tension is eased by his acceptance. "I'm glad," she admits softly. "The idea of raising him and Cole on my own is … a little daunting." Even with her family more than willing to assist, it's not the same as having a full-time partner in the endeavor. Soothed, she untwists her neck and rests her head against his leg once again. "He's the one who figured out why my body wouldn't heal after the battle at Hogsmeade last year." Which makes him a pretty slick operator in her book - and the best place to start looking for a cure for Bean.

"Then I owe Healer Took a debt of gratitude." Severus sighs again, enjoying the touch to his thigh. "I know that for a certain portion of time, Mister Morgan shall assist as well, but under the circumstances, I wish to ensure that none of us has more pressure placed upon us than we can bear." He runs his hand along her cheek, keeping his touch soft.

That makes Sio laugh and she turns, pushing herself to her feet and tugging on both of his hands in a silent request for him to do the same. "You owe Healer Took nothing, mo chridhe. He was paid very well, I promise." His mention of Jake makes her expression fall and she sighs. "Jake's hard to read." And for her, that says a lot. "I can't tell if it's a result of his treatments or what it stems from, but he's been fairly hands-off about … well, about almost everything. He smiles and teases and flirts and plays the part, but he mostly shows me what I need to know and do and then it's hands off from him." She frowns. "I'm not complaining or anything, I just … " Feel guilty for being happy when her friend is dying. "I don't think he was expecting us when he came looking to make a deal with me." There's one more light tug and if he'll stand, she'll take the close quarters and the opportunity to wrap both arms around his waist and bury her face in his chest. Just for a moment.

Severus is pulled to his feet easily. He sighs with contentment as she buries her face in his chest. He lowers his head, kissing the top of hers, and puts his arms around her, squeezing gently. "My Light, it may be his method of dealing with what he cannot control. If he is used to having control of most of his life — at least how his body moves and reacts, he may not deal well with seeing how much he cannot do." He would set up everything to be taken care of by people who could act, so that when he couldn't, it would have been arranged. Severus understands this. "I was not expecting 'us' either. I have been pleasantly surprised."

Right here, held and holding, Siobhan's world is at peace. "I know," she replies softly, pulling back enough to smile up at him. The expression that should be full of joy is instead bittersweet and sad. "I just wish I could stop feeling guilty for feeling happy." With one final caress to his hip, she steps back fully, turning and walking toward the door. Her hand on the handle triggers her own spell and dissipates it - effectively unlocking the door. She makes to open it, but hesitates, finally turning so that she's leaning her back against the wood and giving him a long, searching look. "Kee, um." Swallowing hard, she inhales deeply and closes her eyes. It's the work of only a moment to re-organize her mind, stuffing her emotions back down inside the ring where she still has control over them. When her eyes flutter open, locking on him again, she is once again cool and serene. "He Saw you, you know. When we went into London on Friday." Her next breath is deep and slow. "He Saw an awful lot, apparently." It's dryly spoken, but one hand unconsciously rests over her - still flat - stomach. "But he Saw you only once. At the wedding, apparently." And he did not look happy. "You don't have to be there, Sev … " Especially if it's going to cause the kind of pain her cousin Saw. Her voice stays cool, detached and steady. Her face is an almost perfect blank. It's in her eyes - sparkling cinnamon - that the roiling emotion shows. There and only there.

"Because your heart is more empathetic than mine, or indeed than many." Severus is a hard, cold, bitter man. Recent things have altered that slightly, but for most of his life, he's had to wear an outer shell that started to seep inside pretty quickly. "Your cousin has Seen of me before," he replies, considering his words, hiding that consideration with known facts. "It will not be easy by any means, but should I absent myself from that moment, I shall forever feel a coward." He catches the emotion swirling in her eyes and reaches out to touch her cheek with a slow stroke of his thumb. "I shall be beside you oft as I can, though it cost me dearly." He inhales sharply, his own thoughts and emotions coming nearer to the surface. There is a small bit of regret that things are not different, but it is tiny in comparison to all that he feels he's gained.

"I don't believe that." Her mate may be hard and cold and bitter - all of it, but Siobhan believes in him to a level that almost borders on faith. "You're every bit as empathetic as I am, Severus Snape. You just show it different." She leans into the touch to her face, fighting tooth and nail to stay in control. The smaller day-to-day emotions she can wrestle like a pro, but it's these rare deep feelings that foil her hard-won control. Pinned between a door and the man she's realizing that she wants to spend her life with, being confronted with the depth and reality of his own feelings… That's awfully deep for an emotion. "Don't you understand?" she demands, her voice hushed by their close proximity. "I don't want you to hurt. That's the point." Extending her hand to rest palm-down on the left side of his chest, she shakes her head. "I'm supposed to ease pain, not inflict it." Her hand slips down a little and the motion tugs at the neck of his robes, exposing just the tip of a fading bruise. It makes her lips quirk upward. "Well, alright. I only want to inflict the fun kind." Sliding that hand up his chest to run gentle fingertips over the colored skin, Siobhan raises her gaze to his again. "You could never be a coward, mo chridhe," she whispers. "Not even then."

"You cause no hurt." He is quick to reassure her. Severus presses a little more against her, leaning down to inhale her scent and hold her close. "What causes me pain is the situation we find ourselves in. You are the bright spot in the darkness." He remains still, attempting to keep the emotions he feels and those he can feel from her in control. He's mostly successful. "I know that you think extremely highly of me, and I often wonder if it is higher regard than I deserve." It's an old demon that won't be exorcised easily or quickly. "I have felt more strongly about matters than I have in many years. Regrowing a plant near death can often cause trauma, but the plant grows again. It blooms anew." For a moment, he is silent, unable to voice what he wants to say. Then, he continues. "I realize that you feel I have assisted in your rescue," and perhaps he has, "however, the feeling may be mutual. You are indeed aiding in my rescue every day. The performance we must undertake for the outside world is but a small price to pay for such a benefit." He tips his neck sideways, exposing the mark to the air again. "Gladly, I pay it."

Pressed so tightly against him, heated by his body and drowning in the deep emotions neither of them can seem to either acknowledge or deny, Siobhan is losing her battle for control. It's a fight she can't afford to lose. It's too big, too old; there's too much there to risk letting it bleed. It's only when she manages to surface in her own mind that she realizes … she's shaking, breathing fast and shallow. There's raw energy clawing at her throat, her magic saturating the air with pure electricity. Leaning in to the skin he exposes to her, Siobhan takes the only outlet available to her that doesn't involve a complete mental hemorrhage. "I need you," she whispers against the bruise, pressing a kiss to the skin before sliding her mouth up his neck to tug lightly at his earlobe with her teeth. "I want you - all of you." Sliding both hands up his neck so that her fingers tangle in thick black hair, Siobhan moves her mouth along his jaw until her lips brush his. The first kiss is light, hesitant, shaking. She even shakes her head a little when she whispers against his mouth, a little startled by her own confession. "And I am so very much in love with you." She kisses him properly, then; soft and slow. She pulls back only just far enough to meet his gaze. "If there's a price to pay, I won't let you pay it alone."

"My Own, you have me." Severus pulls her away from the wall, circling her body with his arms. "Come." Instead of opening the door, he pulls her toward the opposite side of the room, where a small fire burns inside a grate. He pulls her into the corner, grabs a pinch of Floo powder and drops it into the flames. "Lux Mea," he calls, and steps with her into the Floo, landing them both into the sitting room of their quarters. Another moment, and they are inside their room, and he lays out upon the bed. "Bright One, perhaps a demonstration." He senses her need to take control, and he lays back and gives it to her freely. "And I love you." Honest, raw, true.

Feeling as though the entire world is tilting and spinning, Siobhan is surprised to find the next time she can get any bearings at all is inside their bedroom with her lover sprawled back on the bed. There's a moment where her disoriented brain tries to come up with the cause and effect that brought them here when they were there, but three simple words from his lips make the ground feel solid under her feet again. Raw energy crackles in the air between them and within a blink she is right there, straddling his hips and looking down at him in a combination of wonder and desire and devotion. He sensed right and she slides her hands along his arms until they're above his head and she has a firm grip on both wrists, leaning down to kiss him hard. "What kind of demonstration did you have in mind?" Her small body very nearly vibrates with the maelstrom of magic and energy inside her. It's beautiful and terrifying at the same time; dangerous and yet enticing. The edges of her mind tease at his, overwhelming love and desire stirring her to a wildness beyond even the burning in her calf and in her veins - the burning that ebbs and flows with the slow rise of the full moon outside.

Her presence so near and so intense makes Severus shudder, and when she straddles him, his body is nearly shaking with anticipation. He needs her just as much, though perhaps not quite in the same way. When she kisses him, he kisses back, letting her lead, direct intensity, movement, control. His voice is slightly tremulous when he replies to her, mind and magic touching her own just gently enough to remind her of his presence, but not enough to do any more. "I had no specific thing in mind, Bright One. I had rather thought you might have a good idea."

For the first time in over a year, Siobhan no longer feels restless and violent on the peak night of the lunar cycle. She can still feel the full moon hanging in the sky. She can feel it in the odd throbbing of the scars on her calf. She can feel it in the draw toward the moon that works on her body like a weak magnet. But for the first time in oh so long, that's all. Melting against her mate completely, she presses a kiss to his ear and laughs softly, her voice hoarse. "Mo chridhe - my heart. My love." I love you. It shows in the gentleness with which she touches him. I love you. It shows in the tender way she looks at him, body still weak and shivering in his arms. I love you. It shows in just the tiniest flecks of gold - like fine dust - scattered in her warm, cinnamon eyes. I love you. It shows in the easy way her fingertips trace the black mark on his arm, accepting it simply as another part of the man she loves so very, very much. "I love you," she breathes, something like awe in her voice. "That means you don't pay anything, carry anything, fight anything or die for anything on your own anymore. You understand?"

No one in Severus' memory - no one - has spoken to him so tenderly, fought for him so virulently, nor clung to him so desperately. Perhaps, back when he can't remember, in those few hazy, halcyon days when he was tiny, but on the whole, this sensation is new. This connection is brand new. "My burdens, my debts, my successes, all are your own to share. And I shall bear, share, and carry yours as well." His words are spoken solemnly, the promise of a vow. Every time they come together, it deepens their bond, strengthens their connection. Every time, he is completely and utterly amazed. He strokes her back with a hand, the touch feeding something within him, primal, wild and old. It changes him, little by little, until he can stand more proudly and know that he is not alone. "I understand." His mind is still stuck on the intense declaration. I love you. I love you. I love you. Echoed between them like the cries of the gulls along the shore.

That promise eases something tight inside Siobhan. "You have a gift," she comments with affectionate amusement, her voice hoarse and rough. "There's not a ritual bond in the world that says it so well." Rolling to her side so that she can be held and still see his face, Siobhan smiles tenderly. "And I should know, I've spent the last two weeks buried up to my ears in old books." Looking for the marriage rite without the bond is a lot like looking for the proverbial needle in an island full of hay. Leaning in to brush a soft kiss over his lips, she sighs, content. "Jack says that - " at least according to a third-hand retelling of his talk with Da " - to most of the non-Western world I was your wife from the minute our magic cemented that bond." Yes, she does see the irony in that. "I kinda like their view of it." She's sleepy and warm and sated and loved. It makes her a little light-headed and occasionally nonsensical. "Don't worry, we'll find a way through this." Back to the topic that started them down this spiral in the first place. "If we're just smart enough, we can lower the price."

"Thank you." Severus' gratitude is multi-layered. There is much she has given him that he is thankful for. At the moment, her warm, bright body in his arms, her love and intense affection, and her slightly nonsensical manner of thinking are but a few. "I had rather gotten that impression from some of my studies as well. It is my honor to accept that paradigm." He'd be extremely pleased to consider her his wife. In some ways, he already does. People have already labeled her as such in front of him — members of their little group, at least. As she returns to the topic they began with, he sighs, both contentment and stress expressed. "Between the two of us - and those offering assistance - I am certain you are correct. Perhaps the cost may be mitigated in such a way that we all may bear it."

Siobhan laughs softly, leaning up to kiss him again, soft and sweet. "You could just say you like being my husband, Sev. No need to be so formal." She knows, however, that he won't. She doesn't mind, really. It's part of his charm. Doesn't mean she won't poke him a little. "Actually… " Extending her hand down, Siobhan closes her fist around the edge of their blankets as they fly into her palm, tugging the fabric up and over their bodies. "That might be the problem. I've been looking for the wrong kind of ritual. None of the marriage bonds would take now - except one very creepy one that sounded like something out of Brian's dirty mags - because of my ties to you, but there's nothing saying we couldn't use the ritual of adoption. I suppose one more brother wouldn't make too much difference at this point, hmm?" There are already five. "Can you think of a way we could dress that up to look like it's the marital bond?"

"Perhaps, if we word it in such a way …" Severus considers, instead of stroking at his chin or tapping his fingers against something, he runs his hands along her body, just soaking in the comfort of their skin connected together. "Word it vaguely so that it is a sharing of bond… perhaps 'I join my family to yours'… simply do not emphasize in what way." He chuckles at her enjoyment of his language. "Well, then, 'I like being your husband, Siobhan.'" His tone is as dry as his magic is wet. "I know that there are certain people you do not connect well with, but perhaps those members of our small community of thinkers and doers could assist in finding the words." The one person he's thought of that might be able to help - he doesn't want to mention directly, because he really did notice Siobhan's response to the other woman in the meeting.

She laughs at that, leaning in to nip sharply at a bruise forming on his collarbone. "You're such a bastard." Insulting words, perhaps, but it's hard to take them that way when they're spoken around a smile and with quite a bit of affection. Even doing so indirectly, she knows to whom he refers. She is, after all, a snake. "Don't ask me about her tonight." She smothers a yawn against his chest and burrows deeper into him and the blankets. "I feel really good and I want to sleep for a bit before I get up to run." And discussions of Brennan tend to stress her out. Still, the idea of keeping the source of the tension a secret from her mate is uncomfortable in an unfamiliar way, so she goes for a compromise. "Tomorrow when you and Jet and I work on sparring in the Room, I'll explain everything then, yeah?" That seems to be acceptable - at least to whatever it was that stirred up the discomfort in the first place. And maybe Jethro'd have an idea. Who knows? Rubbing her cheek against his chest, Siobhan lifts her head enough to kiss him again, then settles her body against his and slowly drifts off to sleep.


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