1995-12-24: Rattlesnakes And Apple Wine


Snape_icon.gif Siobhan_icon.gif

Scene Title Rattlesnakes and Apple Wine
Synopsis Siobhan flees her mother's machinations. She and Severus enjoy a much quieter sort of Christmas Eve.
Location Hogwarts: Snape's Quarters
Date December 24, 1995
Watch For Lots of in-jokes and many layers of communication - as always.
Logger I am the Bad Wolf

Christmas Eve is one of Siobhan's least favorite times of the year. IT's not that she's any great Grinch or Scrooge, but that Christmas Eve doesn't mean the same thing to her family that it does to millions across the world. It's not a time of quiet family affairs or parties among friends. No, it's a time of politics and what she's come to refer to - in the privacy of her own mind - as "breeding contracts". It's yet another opportunity for her mother to parade her around and discuss 'prospects' with every other mother there. This year, conscious of how close she came to losing family Christmases altogether, Siobhan played along much nicer than ever she has before. Enough so that even Liam sent her a worried glance or two. However, even that knowledge only extends her patience so far. At about half past nine, Siobhan has had enough.

It only takes a little bit of clever maneuvering on her part to secure a few moments of quiet respite in her father's study. She'd been so good about it all so far that her mother didn't suspect a thing. Didn't even think about the fact that there is a working Floo in Sir Michael's study. With the ease of one who has used the things her entire life, Siobhan steps out of the roaring green flames right into Severus' sitting room. To put it bluntly, she's dressed to sell. Slinky black pants, kitten heels and a sinfully soft off-the-shoulder grey sweater set off her smoky eyes and plum-stained lips in a way that manages to at least be graceful about announcing she's on the market. One well-manicured hand is wrapped around two single-serve green bottles. The other holds the neck of a much larger one of cut crystal filled with a rich amber liquid. This is held out in an almost sheepish sort of offering. "Don't send me back. I brought good mead and I think she's almost struck a deal this time."

Snape hears the flare of his Floo and looks up from his reading to observe who might be disturbing him at this time of night. School isn't in session, so it's much less likely that it's a student or parent come to need his attention. It's more of a possibility for it to be a fellow-Death-Eater come to beg a favor, usually in the form of a potion or rare ingredient. So, when he sees Siobhan Noble step out dressed to impress, he quirks a brow, loosens the grip on his wand, and turns a page in his book, feigning disinterest. "Tell me that he is at least of the same generation as yourself." No 'hello,' no 'how are you'. He skips all that and heads straight into the witty repartee. "How did you manage to escape?" It's a pertinent question and a fish for information all in one. He gestures to the other seat, summoning clean glasses for them both.

"Actually, I think this one's younger than me." Siobhan shudders, bravely restraining herself from gagging at the concept. When she's invited in - or at least what she interprets as an invitation is extended - she walks over to his sideboard and sets the cut-crystal bottle there, her heels clicking on the stone floor. That hand free, she flicks it toward the fire, conjuring a small sofa next to his green armchair. "I tried to just suffer through it for Mum, but in the end I just used my good behavior to buy a moment to myself." She kicks her heels off next to the conjured seat and settles into it, stretching her legs out along its length. A tap of her fingertip breaks the seal on one of the green bottles. The other one is set on the floor beside her. She takes a long drink from the opened bottle and sighs deeply, relaxing back into the plush sofa-thing and watching Severus over the top of her single-serve wine bottle. On the tail end of a sigh, she lets her eyes slide closed and a tiny smile tugs at her lips. "If she cuts a deal, I'm fleeing the country." She takes another swig.

Snape's only response is a 'mmmmm.' Whether it's because he's heard such dramatic declarations or because he is engrossed in his book is uncertain. He reads silently for a few minutes and then lifts his head from his book. "Your father would have to approve the match, would he not?" There is at least one lifeline in there for her. He is silent again, but gazes implacably in her direction. Seemingly satisfied, he frowns. "Does that bottle require the Noble touch to open," he asks, looking down at the second bottle. "Or may any low-born wizard drink it?" He looks back up at Siobhan, taking in her outfit. His expression leans more toward the curious than the disapproving.

Siobhan snorts derisively, rolling her eyes and offering her own dry rebuttal. "I would have to approve the match - at least in theory - or did you forget that I can think for myself?" It's not exactly fair of her, but he's being more of a bastard than he usually is with her. She's a bit off-balance. Manipulating her free hand, she levitates the other bottle to hover in front of him, well within reach. It's answer enough. Trying to decipher the reason behind this mood, she's watching his face. So when he turns and studies her outfit, she notices. "It's better than the strapless mini-dress Mum wanted me to wear. There was more fabric cut out of the middle of that dress than was left." Defensive about her appearance - and angry at herself for caring one whit - she goes a bit frosty. "But I can go change if it offends. I do have rooms nearby."

"That is not always the case." Snape refers to the fact that she has say in her 'choice', though it may sound like he's saying that it's not always true that women can think for themselves. "Some of the oldest families make their connections shortly after discovering the gender of the child." Whether that be in utero or shortly thereafter. "It is not offensive to me." He reaches out to pluck the bottle from the air, opening it and pouring it into his glass. "It is well that you were able to have your way in the matter of your attire." His tone gives nothing away. He may be serious, or poking at her. Or, probably, both.

A little bit riled at his - possible - insinuation that she can't think for herself and floating on a pleasant sort of buzz from earlier champagne and the current apple wine, Siobhan lets a slow smile twist her lips. It's alluring and alarming; inviting and dangerous all at once. "Why's that?" she shoots back, her tone just on the conversational side of a purr. "Don't think your self-control would stand up to that much bare skin?" It's light enough to pass as a jab or tease - but just barely. She lifts the bottle to her lips and takes a slow drink, tipping her head back in just such a way that bares her neck to the dancing firelight. She's playing with fire and she knows it. And somehow? She doesn't care. Not right now, anyway.

"My self-control is adamantine." He sips at the mead, gazing down at it for a moment, enjoying its taste. "The expression of good taste rarely steers one wrong," he comments on her words about her outfit. "Your mother's choice would not have been as uniquely appropriate." He is either completely unaware of all the levels of that statement, or is intentionally baiting her a little bit. Or, maybe he's giving her a compliment. He falls silent again, drinking his mead.

That makes Siobhan laugh - a soft, languid sound. "Now you sound like my gran." Her father's mother, of course. "Pity she died before I grew tits. She would have kept my mum in line." Yes, she's crass. She's bordering on happily drunk and finally in company where she can relax. She'll indulge herself in a bit of brashness. Another swig of her wine is taken and she bends one leg at the knee, bracing her bare foot against the couch beside her leg and letting the limb rest against the back of the couch. "Most guys just say it'd look better on their floor, Sev." She chuckles softly at that and lifts the bottle to her lips again. When it's lowered again, she swallows and studies him intently for a moment. "But then, I guess you're pretty unique, hmm?" It's so soft and thoughtful that it's almost surely a thought unintentionally spoken. Alcohol tends to have that effect.

Snape's response is a quirk of an eyebrow and another slow sip of his mead. He snorts at her crass words. "I am uncertan it would look better on the floor," he replies, choosing the literal interpretation of her words to poke at her a little further. "My uniqueness has never been in question." He knows he's not normal. It's not a sore spot, anymore, at least. If anyone has taken his strengths and exploited them fully, it is Severus Snape. He swirls his glass around, remaining silent again. Brooding? Just a little.

Siobhan laughs again, lifting one hand to push back through her hair, shifting the loose curls to bare one shoulder and fall across the other. "From anyone else, Sev, that would be a proposition." She laughs again and drains the last of her wine from its bottle. "But you're just nettling me." Is that a touch of sadness in that last? Maybe. The empty bottle she twirls between her fingers. "Sweet Circe, Severus, after a lifetime of the nauseatingly colorless people I just left who spend their whole lives desperate to appear in line with some ridiculous idea of normality? You are a vital breath of fresh air." She uses the empty bottle to gesture in his direction. "If you ever stop acting like … " She rotates the bottle in a circle as she searches for the right word, somehow taking in all of him in one long, appreciative look. "If you ever stop acting like you, I'll be forced to give up on humanity entirely."

"So extremely glad to be of assistance," Severus drawls taking another sip and enjoying the flavor. He sets the glass down and sets his hand back in his lap. "It is part of my effusive charm." Most anyone else would roll their eyes at that — at the droll sarcasm, but Snape delivers the line straight. "Do your mother's parties have a specific ending time?" He's not trying to push her away; he's attempting small talk. Which he sucks at, frankly.

But Siobhan isn't laughing. She's watching Severus with a strange sort of intensity. "Mmm, yes; it is, isn't it?" A musing remark - a rhetorical question. As small talk goes, asking when the guest will be leaving is … well, it's entirely counterintuitive. Siobhan, however, is becoming accustomed to her friend's strange blend of eloquent awkwardness. She just smiles a bit wearily. "You have met my mother, right? Does she strike you as the 'set ending time' type?" Because she very much isn't. So long as the party's still alive, she's game to go on. A moment of silence passes comfortably before Siobhan sets the empty bottle on the floor beside her couch and poses a question of her own. "What makes you so sure my mother's choice of husband wouldn't suit me? I doubt you'd have met whoever she does set her heart on. If she's true to character, I won't have met him." Now it's her turn to do some fishing. Quid pro quo, after all. And maybe - just maybe - she's actually interested in the answer for its own sake.

"It is possible — though highly improbable — that your mother would make a suitable match. However, inferring from your comments," both those spoken and those expressed in body language, "through seven years of tutelage, I find it hard to believe that a woman with whom you have agreed less than nearly anyone in your chosen social circle would be able to make such an intimate choice to your liking." Severus answers somewhat plainly. He had correctly assumed the nature of the party's conclusion, and so asks, "how long will it take until milady notices you missing?' Sometimes, the large-family dynamic, like that of the Weasleys, the Nobles, or even the Longbottoms intrigues him. It's so unfamiliar to him.

"Through seven years of 'tutelage', my conversations with you consisted entirely of classroom or House matters. Not sure how you could use those topics to decipher much about my taste in men, but hey." Siobhan shrugs, laughing a little to herself. "You got much more interesting when I learned to hate you." And with that bit of dry humor, she rolls to the side as if about to fall off the couch, instead managing to land on the ball of one foot and one knee - it's a motion that goes smoothly into standing. It's a small thing, but it shows just how hard she's been working at Jethro's lessons. Padding across to the sideboard, she pours herself a full glass of the mead from the crystal bottle she'd brought and sips at it before padding back towards her conjured couch. "It depends. If she finds someone who wants to look at the merchandise before they negotiate to purchase, she'll notice almost immediately." And it seems Sio realizes the shackles that bind her - despite her words to him otherwise - because there's a touch of bitterness to those words. She shrugs, shifting her weight from foot to foot in a gentle - not drunken - sort of unconscious sway as she stares over her glass into the fire. "Otherwise, probably not at all." A glance is flicked his way before returning to the fire. "Why?"

"Perhaps we did not begin to converse, but I am observant." Snape replies, watching her move to get more mead. "You are a Snake, Siobhan, but you are also a little more vocal than some. Akin to a rattlesnake than a viper." He takes another small sip of his mead before setting it back down again. "I … must admit to being intrigued by the dynamics between siblings and the larger family dynamic." He looks a little embarrassed at the admission.

Siobhan snorts. "Aww, Rattlesnake doesn't sound as cool as Black Mamba." A sip of mead wets her lips. Turning her face just a little - enough to be able to watch him - she continues, lowering her voice. "If you don't say anything, people assume you have a secret and will do everything they can to ferret it out." She licks her lips absently, savoring the honey-sweet spice from her drink. "But if you talk about things that mean nothing and don't matter, people think they know you - they think they understand you. That's when they get complacent, because in reality?" She smiles, then, but it's more ironic than truly pleased. "They only see what they want to see." So it's more camoflage of harmlessness than a rattle of warning. She watches him, taking in details often missed in casual glances. There's something intense in her gaze, something tense in her posture. She's not used to being this … open to someone else. So his question about family dynamics provides her a convenient exit. Folding her compact limbs to sit on the floor in front of him - because apparently that sounds better than the couch she conjured (or maybe she forgot) - and drinks again from her glass. "I imagine to any only child a family like mine would seem pretty bizarre." She grins lopsidedly at that. "Actually, we're probably just plain bizarre. What do you want to know?"

"I have recently read an article on the use of rattlesnake rattles in potions intended to camouflage." Snape returns to an old stratagem: deflection. He looks down at the book in his lap, seeming to draw something from the action. "One does not always know the proper question to ask to obtain the response wished." Curiosity prevails, however. "I have attended holiday meals at the Burrow." He looks up again. "I have often wondered if it was the specific nature of their family that made the situation so … boisterous, or if it was the presence of so many siblings around the table."

Siobhan laughs at that, the smile she turns up at Severus is both unguarded and grateful. Apparently he's proven himself when it comes to the trust placed in him. Somehow. "You know something about everything, don't you?" She lifts her glass to drink from and shakes her head. "What response are you looking for, then?" Because even when he elaborates, she's curious about that first wording. Mention of the Weasley dinners have a wistful sort of smile tugging at her mouth. "I've been to those dinners, myself." Before she became 'that dark, evil Slytherin' once again. "Having so many people who know each other very well all together in one place means a little bit of extra energy in the room. For my brothers, no one else knows them as well as we do and it's a chance to be at a gathering where my father's - and my family's - reputation isn't hovering right over their heads and determining their behavior." She leans back, bracing herself on her free hand, fingers pushing through the plush rug beneath her. "For me, it's one of the few times I can be with my mother without a fight because everyone there is too closely related to be a prospect. But," she shrugs one shoulder. "It's a distinctly nine-lives crowd. We've had manners drilled into us from the time we could sit up on our own, but nothing ever really squelches their energy. Just … gives it a better direction."

Snape is silent as he considers the answer he's been given. He knew trying to understand this would be difficult. He looks up at her, a question of his own on his face. "An honest one, I suppose, but a clear one. Which may be difficult to explain — a muggle attempting to understand magic." He waves a hand. "I suppose I shall experience it tomorrow," he replies, the first indication he's given that he intends to attend the Noble family Christmas dinner. "It may answer more questions than a conversation with you, forthcoming as you are." There's a slight bit of dryness to his tone as though he's giving her a slight jibe, but most of it is a compliment.

Siobhan laughs at that. "What's the point in lying to you or making you dig?" The last of the mead in her glass is tipped back down her throat - the combination of it, the apple wine and champagne showing in the pretty sort of flush to her cheeks. "You know my big secrets." She pauses, tilting her head to one side thoughtfully. "Well, most of them, anyway. Enough that if you decide to stab me in the back you've got plenty of ammunition, so I'm not really all that worried about giving you more." The empty glass is set off to one side, allowing her to lean back on both hands, now. "And I don't think it's fair to make you fish for information on Christmas Eve. I'm cruel, but not that cruel." Leaning her head back to ease the tension in her neck, Siobhan closes her eyes and basks in the warmth of the fire and the comfortable silence. "How much do you know about the magic connecting the Headmaster to this castle, Sev?" It at least sounds like a casual question.

"And you know more of mine than anyone living bar one," Severus replies to Siobhan's comments. "It is merely idle curiosity." There is the hint of tone that says he still expects everything except immediate and urgent need to be brushed off. Not because he doesn't understand Siobhan, but because he expects it. He is grateful for the change of topic, though he may not be very helpful to her. "I know that there is a link. I have read that it differs in tone and specificity for each Headmaster. Perhaps it could be compared to a personality." He pauses, considering his words. "I do not know what specifically it entails, but I imagine it is mostly for the defense and smooth administration of the castle."

"Curiosity killed the cat, not the snake." Spoken with soft humor and without lifting her head, this is Siobhan's lazy way of at least attempting to assuage that expectation. She's drunk enough that she doesn't really expect it to work, but says it all the same. "I know a lot of his creepy know-everything came from the portraits around Britain." Her smile is truly, madly, deeply wicked. "Which is, I think, part of why he's been in a strop of late." She chuckles a little, enough alcohol in her veins to banish the shame that normally weighs her down when her malicious, vindictive streak comes into play. Right now, she's a bit cat-who-got-the-cream about it - and it shows. "What I didn't know was if the castle herself would tell him things. Because if she doesn't, then I think you and I should put some effort into making the Chamber liveable again. 'Zar says there isn't a way in hell Dumbledore could get through his wards, but he's also just a touch arrogant for a dead guy." So she wanted to be sure.

"She?" Severus is taken aback at her words. "The castle has a persona?" He has suspected a slight intellectus loci, but he has had no proof or 'contact' with 'her' that he is aware of. "I have often wondered about the nature of the castle's awareness." It's not an outright question, but there is an open door should Sio care to explain. "The Chamber of Secrets?" He quirks a brow. He's not opposed to using every resource, but he hadn't considered the Chamber as a resource. "If there is easy egress. Witches and wizards are generally a lazy and distrustful lot." He snorts. "I cannot see many people at all who would be willing to slide down that pipe to reach a place of safety." He considers her main question with a solemnity and seriousness that may go straight over her tipsy head. "I am uncertain. If it is part of a magical bargain, they may be constrained to be clear. Many feel a duty to the Headmaster as a matter of tradition." He's seen that, and asked a few Slytherin alumni here and there. "However, if it is proven to be better for the castle, her occupants or the general wizarding world, there may be some flexibility."

Siobhan considers this. "There's a … definite personality. Magic has been tied into this place for over a thousand years. Even assuming the wizards lived their full lifespan, that's still at least fifteen headmasters - who tie their whole magic into the place, as far as I understand the keystones of wards - plus their deputies, the staff, the House Elves and even the accidental magic of the students. As far as I can figure, it's like those Muggle movies with machines what can think for themselves. You add a little more smarts to it each time you … I dunno, program it to do something new or whatever, and eventually it starts to think for itself." Unfolding her legs and pulling her knees up to her chest, she lets her hands slide backwards until she's laying on her back on the plush rug, fingers splayed as she runs her hands over the texture. "And this castle is definitely female." This amuses her. "I could feel her whenever I was in a portrait here. The more time I spent in them, the more I could sort of … notice it. I can still feel her now, a little. Nothing like what the paintings and the armor and the ghosts do, but just this … buzz in the small of my back." Which is, admittedly, a strange place to feel anything. That train of thought, however, is cut off by a laugh, Siobhan lifting both hands to her face in mirth. "Trust you to worry about the pipe down rather than the Parseltongue-sealed door. What's the expression? Something about missing forests, right?" Her laughter fades to a soft giggle and she holds up her right hand. "You might as well know, anyway. Cast a Finite on my hand."

Now completely intrigued, Snape does exactly as he's asked, casting the all-purpose dispel on her outstretched hand. "What is that, Miss Noble?" It looks vaguely familiar, like something he might have seen in a book once. He leans in closely, looking at the ring. He notices the discoloration of her finger and is immediately wary. "Blood magic?" He examines the signet on it, recognizing it. "That is Slytherin's family crest." All discussion about the locus intellecti completely fades from his mind. "Why are you wearing a Slytherin family ring?" He asks his question before he can think it through. However, his quick mind is working. "It grants the family trait." He makes it a statement instead of question. "Did he give you ….?' Information, access, anything. Slytherin and his family are, by default, subjects that the Head of House is interested in.

"You know, this really shouldn't surprise me. 'Zar likes you because you're so much alike." Which is probably why she deals well with both of them. "But he knows a lot of really bizarre things." Sitting back up, she lets Severus examine the ring even as she does the same, drawing her own face close to his - seemingly absorbed by the way the emerald eye and the diamond fang flash and glitter in the firelight. "Like how apparently there's a lot of Muggle traditions that come down from us. Like the wedding bands. In adoption and marriage, a ring for the new family is given. The left hand for marriage and the right hand for adoption. It used to be tied into all sorts of things like titles and properties and governments, but in some of the oldest families, also tied you into their bloodline abilities." She smiles wryly. "I'm glad he told me about it, otherwise my mum would have been robbed of the joy she seems to get out of bartering my bed." Being married to Lord Voldemort is definitely not high on her list of Things to Do. "But I had to do the binding on my own. There wasn't a living family member to do their half. 'Zar made sure I knew how to get past that problem, but it took about twenty years of my vital magic to do it." She shrugs one shoulder. "I'm not really expecting to live past the end of this war, so it doesn't really matter. The important thing is that this gives us access to a sanctuary no one else can touch. If things go very badly, we can go to ground for a while." Always have a fox hole. But then his trailed-off question makes her stop and blink at him. When it hits her, she heaves a sigh. "You didn't open your present, did you?" The exasperation is fond, but real. "Go on, it'll answer you better than I could right now."

"I save my … presents for Christmas day." Severus replies, but he stands up, moving the book from his lap to the table beside him. "However, I see no harm in opening this one early." He's breaking standard procedure for her. He moves into his bedroom area and returns with her present, reseating himself in his usual dramatic fashion. As may be expected, Severus Snape is the kind of person to open his gifts slowly, peeling the tape away carefully to preserve both the gift and its wrap. As he peels back the paper, he gazes down at the book. "Thank you, Siobhan." He summons a small, carefully wrapped package and hands it to her. "Here is your own gift." It is required. Fair. Even. After looking the book over carefully, he frowns, remembering her words. "It may not have been worth twenty years of your life." He sounds slightly worried. "You — you have chastized me for expending more of myself for a gain than may have been reasonable. Therefore, I feel no qualms in returning the favor." That's pretty much the whole point of him doing all that he's been doing: to protect his Snakes. Both those currently in his care and those in the wider world. The rest of her information is processed much less quickly.

Feeling warm and safe and languid, Siobhan misses that he's deviating for her sake. It will doubtless hit her over the head later, but for now she is content to lie back down and sprawl across the rug in a luxurious stretch. It's a wonder he doesn't trip over her. Rolling to her side, she props her head up on her hand and watches him open the gift, somehow unsurprised at the care and precision that goes into it. The simple expression of thanks - especially since it comes attached to her proper name - makes her smile. Reaching up with her free hand, she accepts her own gift with her own quietly spoken thanks. Using her elbow for leverage, she tears gently into the paper binding the glass bottle. About the size of her fist, there's enough shimmering golden liquid to last several twelve-hour doses. Stunned - because this is one of those brews too precise and complex for her to ever manage once, forget the several batches this would take - she cradles the bottle in her palms and swallows several times before she can look up … right into a change of topic. "I really don't anticipate living long enough for it to make a difference. So, in essence, I got something for nothing. What's unreasonable about that?"

"The expectation of a short life." Severus says, looking down at his book again. "It may be that way, but I …" He stops, perhaps realizing the hypocrisy of his position, or the futility of expressing it to a tipsy friend. "Perhaps that may alter your expectations slightly." He gestures toward the bottle of Felix. "It would be much less taxing for those who care for you if you retained the native predillection for self-preservation represented by our House." That's the only caution he will offer, though he finds he includes himself in that group.

And in the way it sometimes has of happening, the air of comfortable lightness between two good friends burns into solemnity. "Severus," she begins quietly, lowering her gaze to watch her own fingertips trace over the contours of the bottle's glass before raising it to meet his without flinching; there is a wamrth and a kind of quiet clarity in her brown eyes. "As absolutely incredible a gift as this is … " Because she doesn't devalue the effort that went into it - or the thought. "I dodged a bullet with Holly and two with Shadow. I don't plan to get myself killed. Even with - " She catches herself and switches over quickly. "Even after everything, I like living. I'm being careful - having you watching my back already doubles my chances and makes me feel less bad about my overprotective streak - but I've already died once. There's nothing that makes you appreciate your own mortality like seeing how the world moves on once people think you're gone." She tries her best to inject some humor into that statement, but it falls flat. "My family would cope just like they've done, if Albus has his way, it'd be just another regettable necessity of his stupid war and I died to Alistaire when he realized who I really am and what I'm willing to fight for." Sometimes, this is why it's good to get happily drunk. Things get said that should have been spoken long before. "I'm not even twenty and I feel older than Liam most days. I don't think it's unreasonable to be realistic about my remaining lifespan and bargain years I might not even miss in order to gain a sanctuary, a resource and a measure of protection against one of the old men instigating this whole mess." She fals silent then, pushing up to sit on one hip and stare into the fire. "I don't like the idea of you dying, either, you know."

Snape is unsure how to answer that without getting deeper than he feels comfortable with. He understands the sentiment all too well, so he remains silent, eyes dark and empathetic, giving a curt nod to her words. He lifts up his drink and salutes her for a moment before draining it. "I cannot see that they coped as well as you suggest, Siobhan," he does comment, thinking of her second eldest brother, "but perhaps that was the lack of information compounding the …" The fact that Jack Noble would do anything for his baby sister. "We shall both endeavor to be judicious with our grand dramatic overtures." For him, that settles it.

When your best friend isn't very good with words, the smart person makes it a point to learn how to read minds. While Siobhan's stare is intense enough for Legillimency, there is no press against his mind. No, she respects him too much for that, no matter how curious his prolonged silences sometimes make her. "The first time's always the hardest," she answers, her reasoning evident in that one rebuttal. "After that, it gets easier." But the way she watches him, like she's trying to read him, gives a double meaning to those words. An invitation to speak, but one intended to not be pushy. She inclines her head to his silent toast and the last even makes her smile. "C'mon now, Sev. Do you even know how to walk into class without a grand, dramatic gesture?"

"I would consider that a minor dramatic gesture," Severus replies, the mead beginning to affect him a little. His mouth turns up slightly in a wry expression that may border on a smile "The grand gestures usually involve a loss of limb or worse." He does not specify that it must be his own. "That is as it may be," he replies to her comments about dying, "but I would prefer neither of us accomplished it for a good while yet."

Dropping her chin to her chest, Sio can't smother a giggle at that. "I'd forgotten how different your dramatic scale was from the rest of us," she teases, standing and grabbing her own empty glass as well as his. Loss of limb. Funny. "Or collapsing roofs?" she tosses out over her shoulder with a saucy grin, remembering very well the chewing out she got over that stunt. The crystal bottle is pulled from the sideboard and both glasses are refilled. Padding back on bare feet, she extends his out towards him. "And speaking of dramatics, try not to touch Cianan tomorrow." A grin tugs up on her lips, twisting them into easy mirth. "Skin-to-skin contact of any kind seems to trigger visions. I passed him the potatoes at dinner yesterday and he Saw me dressed as the Grey Lady." She lifts her own glass to her lips. "I'd forgotten they have a statue of Ro in their common room. Screamed at me for being crazy and tore right out of the room."

"Duly noted." Severus is aware that the young Tyler boy carries the heavy weight of the Seer. "He can see what has been as well as what will be." Another statement inferred from her words. "I hope that it did not mar your family dinner too heavily." Snape's voice is dry. He also gives her a look for her awareness of the castle. The effects of her entrapment were myriad, and the reminders of that time seem to unsettle him. He takes the cup from her outstretched hand with a nod of thanks, then sips at the drink more slowly. "Are there any other family coming? Or is it mainly your siblings and Tyler?" Yes, he is calling the Ravenclaw student by his last name.

"He and Da and Jack know now, but Da knows how to handle Mum for the most part, so maybe it's a bit of a blessing. Who knows?" Releasing the glass into his grip, she moves to stretch out on the couch and sip her own mead. "Jack will come with me, though, in case there are wards I can't punch through." The fact that little Emmy is still in Voldemort's custody rankles at Siobhan. "Kee's parents are coming, but that's it. Other extended family's invited, but I doubt they'll come." She catches him watching her, picking up on the disquiet. It makes her tilt her head to one side inquisitively. "What is it?"

Snape's attention remains on his drink as he listens. He considers giving her a brush off or a deflection, but in the end decides that one honest answer deserves another. "I am … unsettled by my part in your confinement and my inability to rectify the situation sooner." It is guilt, but not completely. He takes another slow sip of the amber liquid. "Even if they cannot help directly, it is always good to have unexpected allies." He sets the glass aside again.

Siobhan's first reaction is to fling the socially acceptable platitudes back at him; the way she'd be expected to respond - her instinctive deflection. The unexpected honesty, however, is enough of a surprise that she can - and does - get the better of her instinct. She is quiet for a long moment, swirling the mead in her glass before taking another sip. "You could have chosen to protect me at the cost of your cover - and then down the road, your life - or you could have tried in some way to tip me off. I was angry enough at you then that I probably wouldn't have listened to anything you did say and one student - even one snake - isn't worth what Dumbledore would have done if you'd blown your cover." Another drink of mead is taken. "Under the circumstances, you made the right choice. Especially considering that none of us - not even Shadow, I don't think - knew what that spell would really do in the long term." Her shoulders slump forward some and shadows creep into the corners of her eyes. "Hell, Sev, we still don't know what all the long-term consequences will be, but Shadow's the one who cast the spell. Not you." Brown eyes reflect the flames as the young professor gathers her thoughts. "To me, it comes down to a very simple question. Would you let it happen to me again if it was in your power to stop it?" Though she asks the question in a mild, rhetorical tone, she does pause to let him make his own answer. This is not a guilt she wants him to carry. No weight should be added on her account.

The fire in Severus' eyes is enough of an answer, but he speaks anyway. "I would have attempted to prevent it the first time." He inhales, pulling his control back around himself, then continues. "Perhaps you may be right about Albus' reaction, however I cannot help but think I could have done things differently somehow." He shrugs a shoulder just slightly, then closes his eyes. "I am hopeful that the side effects will be of the variety that you can handle." With an offhanded wave of his hand, he gives her a compliment. "Which of course does cover a wide gamut of reactions." She can handle a lot.

To most people, that fire means fear, disquiet, even dread. To Siobhan, the fire in those dark eyes means safety. That, combined with the offhanded compliment, leaves a strangely pleasant warmth in her chest. "You could have done things differently, but different doesn't always mean better." Another burst of sweetness from the mead makes her sigh contentedly and lean her head back against the arm of her conjured couch, eyes sliding closed for a moment. "And if it's something I can't figure out, you'll know what to do." She seems awfully sure about that. It's a confidence in him that borders on faith - a strange trait for a snake, and one that could backfire so very, very badly. "Don't worry so much, Sev. We both know that anything could happen. We'll keep prepared and deal with it when it comes. Don't borrow trouble." Her free hand rises to push fingers back through her hair as she lifts her head to take a drink. "What do you usually do for New Year's?"

The ease Siobhan displays around him, even when he's in a 'mood', heartens Severus. It isn't the faux-care of the Headmaster or the friendly rivalry of Minerva. It is a nearby understanding presence that seems to comprehend what he's trying to say. "That is true, I suppose," he allows as she comments on his actions. "If the ingredients have a specific reaction, at times, it does not matter when they are combined." It was 'situation FUBAR' any way he looked at it. He snorts at her confidence, but appreciation lights his eyes. "Usually, my night is comparatively similar to this one, minus the stimulating conversation. If I have any, it is with the Headmaster." Fraught with twists and turns and pratfalls… Rather sad.

"New Year's with the Headmaster?" Something about this apparently strikes Siobhan as absolutely hysterical. She laughs quietly, but it's intense enough that she curls in on herself, holding her glass away from her body to keep it from spilling until she can catch her breath. "Do you have any idea how kinky that sounds?" she finally manages to ask in between gasps of smothered laughter. After a few moments, she calms herself and takes a long drink of her alcohol. A long sigh and a soft hiccup of laughter - a valiant last stand by her mirth - and finally she is able to breathe easy. "Mum makes it into a big Ministry affair. Lots of schmooze time." Which means she should go, but she really doesn't want to. "So I thought I'd give it a miss. Go sit on the Great Wall and watch fireworks that haven't changed in a thousand years go off, or maybe go to Times Square and for a couple hours be just one person in a crowd of a million singing bad eighties music and waiting for a giant glittering quaffle to drop." She sits up and leans forward, pushing her hair behind an ear when it falls into her face. "There are sea turtles hatching in San Salvador, a volcano erupting on a deserted island in the Phillipines and a meteor shower supposed to coincide with the Aurora Borealis." She grins. "After all, New Year's should be fun, right?"

Snape is still sober enough to look at her askance. "Miss Noble," he chides gently, slipping back into teacher-mode for just a moment. "Please do not plant such images in my thoughts. I cannot indeed obliviate myself, and I do not trust Albus to do so specifically." He snorts, as he is drunk enough to find it slightly funny after a thought or two. With another small sip, he considers. "I cannot be away for too long as I have students to proctor, but it might be enjoyable to spend a few hours away from the miscreants." He drains his glass. "If I am to be at my most genial on the morrow, I shall need to get some modicum of respite." As usual, he's not kicking her out, merely leaving her company. He summons two small phials, handing her one. "Hangover potion. I should not want you to suffer needlessly." Since the necessary suffering will occur anyway. He stands, slightly wobbly, and then pauses, looking over at her. "What time are we expected?" She probably mentioned it, but he wants to double check.

"You're welcome," Siobhan chirps, draining the last of her mead and setting the glass on the floor next to the couch. "Good. I'll come steal you out of detention and their fragile minds will shatter." She chuckles and then stops, frowning as she tries to make her oxygen-starved brain do something. "You do give detentions over the holidays, right?" If not, he should. Just the one. "I'm not nearly sober enough to deal with my mother tonight." Which means, as she rolls on to her stomach and pulls the corner pillow under her cheek, that she's going to be sleeping right where she is, thankyouverymuch. She has enough alcohol in her system right now that even the dungeon room is comfortably warm as she is. The hangover cure is accepted and set on the floor next to her glass with a muttered thanks. She'll be downing that first thing, to be sure. "I think Mum's setting dinner at two, but if the brats can spare you, you can come with me in the morning." A couple spare hours to set out some groundwork plans with Sir Michael and Jack would be a boon, plus it means she has backup when the inevitable motherly interrogation begins.

A very Snape expression crosses his face at her words. It's almost a sadistic delight. "I have just the student in mind, Professor." He moves around her and nods. "I must attend breakfast and make myself available for certain younger students, but after that, I am free to leave for the day. I have already informed the staff that I have plans, and they have acquiesced to watching the students, as there are so few." Since Legume even has a family this year, there are only a couple who are staying for vaction. He nods and continues around the conjured furniture with a little difficulty. "Sleep well." He edges past her and retires, still clutching the phial of hangover cure.

Siobhan laughs into her pillow, lifting her head enogh to peer at him through the hair that's fallen into her face and grin. "You're so evil." Already with a student in mind. Though it sounds like amusement, not chastisement. "That works. I like showing up when students and headmasters don't expect me. It's fun." Plus she can take care of some business while he's with the younger students. In perhaps a stroke of genius, she grabs the hangover cure and downs it right then, sighing relief at the loss of tension in the back of her neck and already fluttering swiftly down toward sleep. In a not-quite-conscious motion, she flicks her wrist and burrows into the black robes her magic pulled off the back of the uncomfortable Headmaster's chair. Apparently her instinctive magic likes to operate on an 'if it isn't broken, don't change it' basis. "Mmm, mmhmm. Night, Sev." Almost before the words are out of her mouth, she's out cold. Tomorrow will be very, very interesting.

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