|Synopsis||Liam heads to the school on an errand for Da. He takes matters into his own hands and things … don't go the way he planned.|
|Location||Hogwarts - Snape's Office|
|Date||March 10, 1996|
Severus Snape is finished with his work for the day. However, office hours are not completely finished, so he sits in his chair at his desk reading a book. Incidentally, the book is one of Brennan's — a book about tribal cultures and certain magics. It's not the one about bonds, but it's one very like. He sips at a cup of tea, nearly completely relaxed.
It's been a while since Liam Noble has walked these halls, but time hasn't seemed to do much to change anything - not about the place and not about him. Dressed casually in tight jeans and a silk button-up shirt, he bounces down the stairs after paying his respects to the new Headmistress - his former Head of House - and fairly swaggers through the dungeons, hands stuffed casually in his pockets. Counting doors - this never was a part of the castle he spent an awful lot of time in - he finds the one he's almost positive was for Slughorn's office. There's a momentary pause where he considers knocking - years of well-bred etiquette lessons war with years of lessons in political power. He decides this time that having the upper hand is more important than being polite, so instead of knocking, he simply swaggers right on in, one heel kicking the door shut behind him. "Evenin' Snape," he calls, the tone just brash enough to walk the line between friendly and rude. Both hands are back in his pockets, his swagger slower but no less pronounced as he walks around the room, surveying various and sundry ingredients on their shelves. "Didn't think there was any man who'd be holed up in his office on the weekend, rather than enjoying a pint and good company. Oh," he interrupts himself, snapping his fingers with an expression as if he really is surprised to have just remembered something. "That's right, I'd forgotten. People really aren't your thing, are they?"
'Office Hours' mean that the teacher is available for anyone who needs him. Including, unfortunately, brash big brothers. "Noble," Severus greets, jaw clenched tight. "Just as polite does not seem to be yours." He sets the book down and gestures to a chair. "Welcome to my office," he drawls, voice low and dangerous. "Please, have a seat. May I offer you a drink?" By the end of his polite recitation, his words are coming out in an extremely slow, dry timbre. "What brings you up to the school? Here to teach the young lions how to wreak more havoc in these hallowed halls? If so, I must sadly inform you that they do their fair share already."
Liam winces - perhaps a bit dramatically - and shakes his head, pulling one hand from his pocket to hold up in a 'hold up' gesture. "No thanks, never did get a taste for poison." It's quite possibly the rudest response to the offer of a drink, but the tone isn't rude. It's casual - too casual, like the white knight who gallantly declines to participate in pastimes which are beneath him. When his purpose is questioned, he barks out a laugh, a facsimile of amusement. "Good one, but no." His slow swaggering has brought him close enough that in the instant his facial expression falls from simple arrogance to righteous fury, he also braces both hands against the edge of the desk and leans forward, his voice lowered to almost a growl. "I'm here to find out just exactly what kind of slimy game you think you're playing with my family." After all, a marriageable sister is a valuable asset in a family with political ground to cover.
"Hmm. There are actually several poisons which are quite sweet." Snape leans back in his seat, hand idly resting on his desk. "Hmmm. I had wondered if I had found the secret source of their irascibility, but no. Alas. It is innate." He waits through the man's words, and then leans forward, getting close to his face but not too close. "And you chose to come to this office instead of the one down the hall. Hmmm." He knows that his wife will not appreciate the fact that her brother came to him instead of her. "My game, as you so correctly phrased it, is quite simple. I wish to form a lasting alliance with the Noble family, by which I will gain several things, not the least of which is the most dear connection I have." The first part of the sentence is spoken so dryly that the irony is thick. However, as he continues, the dryness falls away. He's exposing the truth here, whether the other man can understand it or not. "An unexpected connection was forged, and I am beholden to protect her." He would have done so before the bond; now, it's a deep need.
Liam is not intimidated by the Slytherin in his face - not any more now than he ever was as a child. "I chose to come here because you're the one who should know better!" he spits, anger evident in every syllable, even before he punctuates the statement with his fist on the desk. "Play your games without my sister, Snivellus." Shoving himself backwards, Liam starts to pace, running one hand back through his hair in a gesture that seems to be a family-shared trait during times of stress. "She's just a child, damnit! I know you think you're clever, trying to slither into a new pocket now that your meal-ticket is dead, but what your oh-so-brilliant mind and your Dark Arts may not have told you is that it's my sister who they'll put on trial for his murder." Brown eyes so like the sister in question are bright and fierce, snapping like hot cinnamon with Liam's incandescent rage. "So don't talk to me about protecting her, Snape. Don't you dare. I read those reports. It's to save your sorry arse that she did it. Without your stupid game, she wouldn't be in this mess."
"Do. Not. Call. Me. By. That. Hateful. Name." Severus stands stock still, resisting the urge to do as many of his childhood mates did, and slam his forehead into the other man's. Hard. "I am not playing any game but one, William." He stands, lifting his own hands from the desk, pacing behind it. "I did not ask for her to act. I would rather she had not needed to. I would rather have taken the curse than have had her be the one to suffer so." His hair whips around his head as he turns to face Liam again, eyes dark and angry. "I will play no games with Siobhan's safety. Even a snake may hold something dear, and as you know, family is always among those held in highest regard. In my eyes, and in the eyes of magic, she is of my family." Perhaps he speaks more bluntly than he normally might, but this is more important than even his own reputation. "Albus was not a 'meal ticket'. He was a wise and wily old gamemaster as adept as any in my care now." He holds out his hand expansively to designate the dungeons where the Slytherins live. "I know you better than you might allow, William. And if, for a moment you would lay aside the prejudices of those with whom you shared a room — formed in part because of the actions of a few angry, bitter old men — then you would realize that you know me as well." Now, he moves back to the desk, hands placed in a mirror of Liam's own. "Do you believe for a moment, knowing what you know of me, that I would endanger another Snake's life either by word or deed? If you cannot trust basic human decency, trust what you know of myself. Though she was raised in a den, she is indeed serpentine to the core."
There's a mocking grin that splits Liam's face at that, satisfied that he's gotten under his opponent's skin enough to rile that response. "Considering you're the one tainting my little sister, Snape, I think I'm entitled to call you anything I bloody well please." He scoffs. "No, you didn't ask her to. You would never ask outright. That would take courage and decency - definitely not your style." He's back up against the desk again, getting right in Snape's face. "I don't expect someone like you to understand, Snivellus, but my sister is good. She's fought against the dark side of her nature for the last eight years. Fought so hard it drove her insane. I've watched her, helped her, protected her. It was me who pulled her out of that shithole in Leeds. She was getting better, you prick. She was fine before you came along and now? Now she's neck-deep in the same kinds of slippery ploys and plots as you are." Blinded by rage and prejudice and even by his love for his sister, Liam is unreasonable. "You've ruined her, Snape. You'll go down when your web collapses under you and now you'll drag her with you too. If that's the way you treat family then it's no wonder you've got none left."
"Mister Noble," Severus begins, stepping entirely back from the confrontational posture of his year-mate. "I have an extremely good memory. You may remember this. I do also have the use of the Headmistress' pensieve at her discretion." He stands still, but his body thrums with energy. "Perhaps I shall allow your sister to see exactly what you think of her. That you believe her cheerful disposition to be a sign that she is recovering from being subtle, wise and 'sneaky.'" He lowers his voice, letting it enter the 'dangerous' register: where even the seventh-years know better than to let him get. "Perhaps you assisted her from the situation in Leeds, Mister Noble," he hisses, the deep, aqualine magic seeming to want to escape its bounds, "but it is I who rescued her from hell more recently. Twice." He shakes with rage, partially for the assumption that he would do anything to hurt Siobhan, and partially in remembrance of those moments. "It is I who healed her when she lay on the slab, missing bones, unable to speak her own name or whisper for help. I would give anything, including the life and magic in my veins to have prevented that. However, the sociopath who kidnapped her did so in broad daylight from an establishment she has frequented for years, and in fact, if I am not mistaken, possibly frequented with you." It is not an accusation, however, in the Game, it could be enough of a stain on Liam's good name to make things very difficult for him for quite a while. William Noble is not the only man able to play. "I understand that you care deeply for your sister, and wish to protect her. As loath as I am to admit it, I find something on which the two of us, you and I, agree. If you wish to know the truth of the matter, ask your sister yourself. I shall not stand here, in my own office, and listen to you hurl such insults to my face. Have a good evening, Mister Noble."
"You lying bastard." Infuriated by the not-so-veiled threat on top of the insinuation that he'd have any hand in harm befalling his sister, on top of the imagery of his baby sister on a torture table, on top of that snide dismissal … Liam just loses it. Forgetting, in his rage, that his wand is in his back pocket, the eldest Noble son hauls off and punches Snape right in the face. Doing any further damage to that nose would just be needless cruelty at this point, and Liam is out for blood, now. Taking advantage of the slight stumble that comes from all such physical attacks, he wraps both hands in the front of Snape's robes and shoves him backwards - hard - against a nearby shelf. "You self-important Mudblood, if you were so good for my sister she never would have ended up on that table in the first place. If you really want what's best for her," and his snarling tone gets a bit mocking there, as if he's convinced that Snape wants entirely the opposite, "then stay away from her." He shoves again, pushing the other man harder against the edge of the shelf. "Do you understand me?"
The approach of yet another to this merry party is announced only in the silent waves of sunshine magic that surge forth to greet its mate. Rather like her brother, Siobhan Noble doesn't bother with knocking - but for an entirely different reason. "Sev, you still in here? I - " And the sound of shattering glass breaks the silence before her brother's demand has a chance to be answered. Instantly, the air within the room crackles with electricity, the force of magic summoned without wand or hand or word flinging her brother backwards and pinning him against the opposite wall - none too gently, either - where he can do no further harm. His sister's eyes, usually so similar to his own? They're a rather unnerving shade of glowing liquid gold. "William Michael Noble, just what in the nine levels of hell do you think you're doing?"
His face smarting, Severus falls completely limp when he feels the approach of sunshine magic. "Good evening, my dear," Severus intones, dry as dust. "Your estimable brother and I were just discussing our mutual protective tendencies." Severus Snape is smug. He holds completely still, saying no more, though there is a glint in his eye that bodes ill for the man who had been holding on to his robes.
Having gone from Point A to Point B in less than the time it takes to blink, Liam is - understandably - a bit disoriented. Snape's summation of events and that … unbearably smug expression make an acid fire burn in his gut. It is, however, tempered by the discovery that not only has he been flung back, but he's unable to move forward again. Without a wand or a spell, his sister has trapped him against the wall and that thought is chilling enough to make his hot blood run cold. Wide eyes turn to Snape, a mixture of fear and accusation written plainly on his face. The question is only a choked whisper, but in the silence of the office, it rings pretty damn clear. "What have you done?" Because of course this is all his fault.
Siobhan is protective of her mate to the point of fault, but she also wasn't born yesterday. When he's that smug, there's bound to be a reason. "You've regressed to the stage of childhood where 'discussion' means 'fist-fight', have you mo chridhe?" Her voice is level when she asks, but there's a slight edge to it that telegraphs his danger clearly enough. She turns to her brother, then, stepping around the pile of blossoms and broken glass without even a second glance. Her focus is entirely on her brother, awaiting his response to her demand. When he not only doesn't answer, but looks at her like she's suddenly turned into a Dementor, she turns away, unable to look at that fear and revulsion on a beloved face anymore. The binds holding him disappear, letting him fall the foot or so to the ground. "Get out, Liam." It's a quiet command and she won't look at him. "Just get out."
Severus completely ignores Liam in favor of his mate. If he were a different man, he would shrug. "Bright One," he offers, and again, were he a different man, his tone would plead. As it is, it is merely monotone. She'll catch it. "One punch was thrown, and you saw it." He was behaving fairly well, he thought. However, he knows her views may be completely different. "What broke?" In his lab, that question is more than just idle curiosity.
Siobhan listens to her mate's explanation of events, but her attention is really caught by one thing and one thing only. Folding her arms across her chest and cocking one hip out in a pose any Noble child knows by heart as 'Mum is gonna kill you'. "I can shag you inside out - to the point you can't even see straight - and you still come at me with six syllable words, but I drop one jar and suddenly we're down to 'What broke'?" There's an arch of one eyebrow as if to add the unspoken 'Really?' onto that demand. "It's blossoms from my flowers." She was bringing him something new to play with. Hey, at least it's something to focus on other than the fact that her brother thinks she's a freak. Because if she thinks about that for too long, she'll break down in sobs right here in the middle of the office floor. She can't afford that luxury.
Liam, for his part, staggers up from the pile of limbs he'd made as he landed. Shell-shocked and completely out of his depth, he shoulders past his sister enough to make her stumble, but not fall - needing to test somehow that she's still human, but not willing to stay and dig for answers. Not now. Not until he's had at least a bottle in him. Probably two. Stepping over the broken glass, he is quick to get out the door and into the hallway, but not before shooting Snape one last venomous glare over his shoulder.
"Direct and quick assessment is necessary in this environment." Severus replies. "It could have been any number of substances that required immediate action." He watches as Liam shoulders past Siobhan, and he growls low in his throat as he pushes her. He holds off from chasing him down and cursing him silly. Only just. The man can whale on him all he likes, but harm Siobhan at all, and control slips considerably. "At that point, I have the time, and the inclination to compose my sentences specifically." He's noticed that it riles her a bit. So he takes the time to speak that way. It's fun. "I can be persuaded to speak in words of one syllable." He just doesn't. "I am unsure he came here on his own merits," Severus points out, looking to the door where Liam's just left.
Siobhan does, in fact, stumble - her brother catches her off-guard - but she doesn't fall and when Severus growls at the incident, she holds one hand up to forestall anymore bloodshed. Only once she's sure Liam is gone does she turn, stepping into her mate's personal space and gripping his jaw just enough to turn his face so that she can examine the rapidly darkening bruise under his eye. A gentle brush of fingertips brings a wash of sunshine magic that will alleviate the pain and swelling, but not much else. "I didn't make it in time to catch the bruise, sorry." He'll carry that for a couple of days. Her shoulders slump and she steps back away from his personal space, leaning her hips against the edge of his desk and scrubbing her face with both hands. "I know he didn't," she answers quietly, sounding little more than exhausted and vaguely sad. Eyes that are once again their tamer brown shade stare at him without seeing him. "That was Da's fault. Well, that's not entirely fair. It's mostly Jack's fault for being a Gryffindor and Da's fault for refusing to see his children's faults."
"I would bear more." Severus tries to shrug it off. He knows it bothers her immensely. "Are your flowers salvageable?" He wishes to change the subject for the moment. "One cannot expect a lion to forgo his roar," he tries to inject a small bit of humor into the situation. He wraps his arms around her, and lowers his head to kiss her temple. "My Own." He would say more, but that is enough.
Siobhan is grateful for the subject change. She knows he would bear more; it's a fear and guilt she carries with her all the time, now. "Oh. Yes, I think so." She extends her right hand and the glass shards lift, piecing themselves back together as they move so that by the time it sits in her palm, there is no sign the jar had ever been broken. She sets it on his desk. "They're under light stasis, so they should keep alright until you have the time to work with them." She accepts the embrace, leaning against him to try and hide the fine tremors she can't suppress. The comfort he provides, she'll allow herself to take for a moment or two, but that's all. After that, she's pulling back, pulling away, pulling into herself - and offering up a bright and cheery grin to cover her retreat. "Come on, then. Let's go home, yeah? I'm a bit tired." Keep calm and carry on.
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