1994-11-05: Questioning Definitions

Participants:

Siobhan_icon.gif Alice_icon.gif

Scene Title Questioning Definitions
Synopsis Alice approaches Sio with a Plan. Sio proceeds to question things poor Alice hadn't ever sat down to think about.
Location Yet another greenhouse
Date November 05, 1994
Watch For Random Pern Reference
Logger The BAD WOLF herself

Almost tripping over her robes in the hurry, Alice scurries into the greenhouse while clutching a collection of parchment to her chest. She stops inside and looks around with wide eyes, panting slightly, "M… Miss Noble? Are you here? I, uh… I would like to have a word with you, if I may?"

With her blonde hair pulled back in a sloppy bun to keep it out of her face, Siobhan is knelt beside a tray of seedlings. Her hands, covered in protective gloves, scoop gently beneath the root system, supporting the plant for its short journey through the air. "I'm back here!" she calls, focussed on her work.

Creeping around a vine-covered support, Alice spots her quarry dealing with the seedlings. The younger blonde raises a hand and wiggles her fingers in greeting, grinning lopsidedly as she does so. "Hullo," she says, eyes flickering over to the seedlings then back, "Um, are you busy? I can come back later, if you'd rather not be disturbed?" And then, displaying her knack for just switching mental gears with ease, she suddenly pipes up with, "Oh, are you enjoying your candies?"

Luckily for Alice, Siobhan happens to be on very good terms with another person who has a problem staying on one thought process. "Hullo! No, I'm not busy. Well, I am, but not so I can't talk. What's up?" Once that seedling is set within its new pot of dirt, Siobhan layers a little peat moss and a little water to the hole before covering it up and casting a seal around the soil. "Haven't had a chance to use 'em yet, but I've snacked on one or two. They're really remarkable, you know."

The compliment causes Alice to grin broadly and she bounces up and down on her feet, "I'm so glad you think so! It's always good to see a satisfied customer. If you ever want more, please don't hesitate to place an order!" Then suddenly her face gets more serious. Oh, right… business. The third year clears her throat and gnaws nervously on her lower lip, shifting her weight on her feet back and forth, causing her to sway. "Um… I… I want to ask you a favor," she begins, "But… well, will you promise to keep it confidential? I mean, even if you decide against the favor, you'll keep it secret?"

Pausing in her work, Siobhan brushes her sleeve over her forehead and turns to look at Alice. Her gaze is long and searching, the usual lightness and play in her brown eyes replaced with an intensely serious stare. "If it would hurt someone I care about, I won't hold my tongue." Just so that's clear. "Otherwise…" And here she flashes a slightly predatory grin. "I'm a Slytherin, Alice. If I've learned nothing else here, I have learned to keep a secret." And she's usually pretty fair with helping; if she can. "What'cha need?"

Nervous, coquettish laughter bubbles up from Alice as she raises her hands in supplication, "Oh, n-no, no! No one is going to be hurt! In fact, quite the opposite! Well, I hope any way." The predatory grin causes the Hufflepuff to squirm uncomfortably in place, though she offers up a twitchy smile in response, "Y-yes, I know. Actually, it's because of your House that I've come to you." She hesitates then continues, "I, er… I mean no disrespect or anything, but your House does have a reputation and I'm afraid if I went to anyone else in it… well, problems would result." The blonde shakes her head quickly, waving a hand, "Which is neither here nor there. At any rate, I got to thinking: Professor Snape always seems so grumpy in Potions. He could use a good cheering up! So, uh…" Alice quickly flips through the shelf of papers hugged to her and plucks out one, showing it to the other blonde. On it is a crude sketch of a cake with the words 'Prof. Snape Best Potions Master in the Universe' written out on frosting, with the letters of 'Universe' actually going around the entire outside of the cake. "I want to bake him a cake." Alice pauses to let the sheer ridiculousness of her mission sink in before continuing, "Now, most people — and I think even Professor Snape — would like a bit of cake like this, but, well… some people might not want to -show- that. So, I want to deliver it anonomously. And here is where I hit a snag in my plan."

Listening to this plan of Alice's, Siobhan is having some Serious Trouble keeping a straight face. Just picturing the expression on the man's face is enough to make her brain hurt. If for no other reason than the chance to see what he'd do, Sio's definitely in. "What sort of snag?" she chokes out, doing her best to suppress her laughter.

A worrisome expression falls over Alice's features at the restrained laughter. This is no laughing matter! "W-well," she replies nervously, shuffling through the papers again and this time plucking out a parchment which a number of doodles, incantations, and notes, some of which are scratched out and replaced with others, "I, um… I don't really have the expertise to pull it off. I was hoping there was some kind of… of remote spell like Wingardium Leviosa which I could just float the cake to him anonomously…" She fades off for a moment, tapping her chin thoughtfully, "Maybe in the upcoming combined Potions class? Hm." Shaking her head quickly, she continues, "…but I couldn't find anything like that. At least, nothing I'm capable of doing. But it occured to me that, since you're at a much higher grade level than me, you might know of something or, ah…" Alice hesitates again before continuing, "Or be able to perform the delivery charm without a wand. That way, if Professor Snape did find out, he'd be much more likely to, um… to go easy on someone of his own House than a Hufflepuff." The blonde third year hangs her head and smiles sheepishly, "It's a bit of a risk, I admit, and you hardly know me, but… I don't see any other way to do this other than ask for outside help."

Siobhan considers this from a logistic angle, head tilted to one side. "It depends, really." Brown eyes turn to the younger girl consideringly. "Are you set on the idea of delivering it to him publicly?"

"Well, no," Alice replies thoughtfully, tapping her chin again, "But I thought it might be best that way. Mm. I'm quite for having it delivered privately, too, if that would be easier." She grins impishly, "But… well, I admit to kinda wanting to see him crack a smile when he sees it." Oh, poor, poor deluded Alice. "That'd be a momentous occasion, that would. I don't think I've ever seen him smile. Well. Smile in good humor, at any rate."

"Well, that's the real question then, in'nit? It's not a matter of 'easier'." It's a matter of whether she'll help or not. Siobhan is unashamed of her cynicism. She can't help it; it's in her nature to be cynical when it comes to someone she wants to protect. "Is the goal to give him the cake or to see him smile?"

Alice just blinks in confusion, her brows furrowing. "Well… both, I would think," she replies, canting her head to one side, "I mean… wouldn't giving someone a nice cake usually elicit a smile? Oh, sure, he'll try to hide it, I'm sure. He might even be successful! But there is at least a chance to see it, right?" She pauses, pursin gher lips tightly, considering, "Though the real underlining goal is just to cheer him up a bit. He always seems like he needs a bit of cheering."

Heaving a sigh, Siobhan shifts her weight to sit cross-legged and pats the floor beside her. "Come sit for a minute, love." Chewing her lower lip thoughtfully, she tries to figure out the best place to start. "When I was really little, I used to read these books by a muggle author. In them, there were dragons who could bond mind-to-mind with people and everyone lived on a different planet entirely." Removing her gloves, she twirls one around by the finger absently. "But the dragons couldn't be everywhere, so in the places they weren't, they had these animals called whers that were like the dragons, but not. They were smaller, uglier, meaner, but they were clever little devils and they did their job well. They were very proud and didn't show weakness. Even the people they trusted - and that wasn't many, since they were meant to be guards first - they were often mean to. It's just how they were." Perhaps Alice may start to get the correlation now. "It didn't mean they were unhappy or that there was anything wrong with them, really. Just that they were different from the more friendly dragons." Reaching out to push a bit of hair behind Alice's ear in a friendly gesture, Sio lets that hand rest on her shoulder. It's an analogy that helped her quite a lot in her early years of school, of dealing with the 'overgrown bat'. "So if you really wanted to do something nice for a wher, how do you think you should go about it?"

Quirking her eyebrows curiously, Alice moves over to the indicated spot and flops down, crossing her legs Indian-style. Her eyes widen sightly at the mention of a Muggle book, but she doesn't say anything, listening to the tale. She frowns faintly, considering. "Well," she begins slowly, "I see your point, there. It probably would be best to have the cake delivered as… quietly as possible, then. So that the, uh, 'wher' wouldn't be made uncomfortable." She looks up and over, nodding twice, "I definitely wouldn't want to make him uncomfortable, or to offend his sense of pride. I don't think showing a bit of happiness is weakness, but, well… I could be wrong about that, I suppose." She cants her head to one side, "I'm open to suggestions, then, Miss Noble. What logistical method do you think would be best?"

Smiling as Alice seems to get at least most of the point, Siobhan shakes her head. "He could show he's happy all the time and we just don't notice." She tilts her head down and offers a bit of a shocking suggestion. "Just because someone's mean doesn't mean they're unhappy, you know. They could just be a snarky bastard." And here she grins. Apparently, this wouldn't bother her in the least. "If I had it in mind to do something nice, Alice, I'd probably do it very quietly. If that's the way you want to go, then you just worry about gettin' that cake to me. I can take care of the rest." And without undue suspicion, either.

"I guess I don't really see the point in that, really," Alice states with a sigh, "Just being mean for no reason, I mean. I always thought there was always a cause for it, even if it wasn't obvious." Poor, naive little Hufflepuff. She suddenly breaks with a wide smile, nodding several times, "But, sure! If you're willing to help, I'll be happy to give the cake to you and have it, uh… find its way to the good Professor." She pauses a moment, canting her head to one side, "Though… I always thought Muggles were ignorant of everything we do. How do they know anything at all about dragons? Wouldn't that be a violation of Ministry ordinaces?"

"Well, just what do you count as 'being mean', Alice?" Offering the smaller shoulder a friendly squeeze, she drops her hand into her lap with the other. "And it's just a story. They have no clue that dragons really exist. It's all a myth to them, just nice stories to fill up the evenings."

Alice 'Ohs' softly, nodding at the explaination that Muggles don't think dragons are real, "I guess that explains it. As long as they don't believe it's real, it's ok to let them know about it." The first question is given a bit of a ponder, the younger blonde considering thoughtfully, "Do you mean in general, or Professor Snape in particular? If the latter, well… you might not notice since you're a Slytherin yourself, but he's particularly difficult with other Houses. Not so much Hufflepuff, admittedly, but he really does go out of his way to find fault and goad some students. I just never understood why he does that, is all."

"Just in general, what's your definition of 'mean'?" The inference that Siobhan's observational skills are skewed earns a frown. "It could be that he really doesn't like them, or it could be that he wants to push them harder than the others because he thinks they could do better. I honestly don't know." She shrugs then. "What I do know is that life isn't fair and there isn't one student of his who hasn't learned that lesson by the time they leave his class." Not making excuses at all. Just saying.

Alice has to pause again as she considers the question, pursing her lips tightly. "You know, I never really… sat down and thought about that," she muses curiously, "About what, exactly, the word entails. I suppose… being malicious and hurtful. Making someone feel bad with forethought. It's different from teasing because with that, there's no actual malice involved. Even if it does end up being hurtful, it's accidental. When one is being mean, one is being hurtful on -purpose- for the express reason to cause another to feel bad." She pauses again then nods several times, smiling, "Yes, that's a pretty good definition, I think. You're right about life not being fair, I suppose that is a fair point — excuse the pun — but still. Surely everyone already knows that long before they get to Professor Snape's class?"

"Well, what if the thing being said is the truth? Is that still mean?" That next question has Siobhan barking out a short laugh. "Circe, no! Well, most of them have heard the phrase before - though you'd be surprised how many spoilt kids there are who haven't - but the truth very rarely gets driven home by the time you're eleven."

"Mmm, well," Alice considers, "I can be. I suppose it all depends on how it's phrased. Again, the whole malice of forethought thing. I mean, sure, it takes effort to phrase things politely, but it also takes just as much effort — if not more — to phrase things explicitly so they're hurtful." The blonde third year blinks several times at the short laugh, canting her head to one side. "Really?" she asks with mild surprise, "I guess I never considered another possibility there. I mean, it was always made clear that my sister got all the talent, wit, and looks and I didn't have any." This is said without a note of bitterness; it's just a matter-of-fact assessment.

"Well what would happen if the meanness came easy to you? What if it was much harder to try and phrase things politely and the things that came easy to you sounded cruel or harsh to other people?" Siobhan; Devil's Advocate. Since there's no bitterness in the tone, Siobhan keeps the inevitable pity in her voice to an absolute minimum. "What about your sister, then? D'you think she knew that life wasn't fair - I mean really knew - by the time she came to Hogwarts?"

Those two questions seem to give Alice a bit of an epiphany. Her eyes widen a bit and her lips part in realization. "So you're saying that being rotten just comes to Professor Snape naturally?" she asks, "Mm. I never considered that, either! I never thought such a thing was even possible…" But then she suddenly frowns, "Hang on, if that's true, then why does he give Slytherins more of a pass? If he's just naturally nasty, then surely he would be regardless of House affilation?" The girl frowns faintly, tapping her chin in thought, "About my sister… mmn. I… I honestly don't know. Again, I never considered that she wouldn't and I never bothered to ask her." She looks up and cants her head to one side curiously, "Do you recall anything she said which would provide evidence either way? I mean, I know she was already a couple years above you by the time you came to Hogwarts, but…"

Holding up her hands in a 'hang on there' motion, Siobhan laughs. "I'm not saying he is or he isn't. Merlin knows the man's a mystery to everyone. I'm only tryin' to show you that there's two sides to every story. And that just because someone's mean or cranky doesn't mean something's wrong with them." She seems to seriously consider the next question, though, her eyes losing focus as she tries to recall. "I…really and honestly don't know. I didn't know her that well, but we got on alright and she was a nice enough sort."

"Mm, I wonder if he likes it that way," Alice wonders curiously, "Being a mystery, I mean. Well, I hope he likes the cake and accepts it in the spirit it's intended, at any rate." She smiles lopsidedly at the other girl and moves to stand, stretching her arms over head, "Well, I just thought I'd ask. About my sister, I mean. I'd go ask a few of her good friends, but I honestly don't know any. Besides, they're likely graduated with her by now." She turns and bows her head, all grins and cheerfulness once more, "Thank you again for your help in my little plan, Miss Noble! Just let me know when would be best to recieve the cake and I'll get it to you. I'll let you get back to your horticulture now. Good evening!"


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