1995-10-14: Tasted Tea (And Other Sensible Things)


Snape_icon.gif Siobhan_icon.gif

Special Guest Star: Eileen Prince

Scene Title Tasted Tea (And Other Sensible Things)
Synopsis Snape is successful in freeing Siobhan from her two-dimensional prison. Dinner, plans and discussions ensue.
Location Spinner's End
Date October 14, 1995
Watch For EPIC POSES OF DOOM. And also Snape making a *gasp!* raunchy joke.

Eileen Snape is not a happy camper. She sits in her seat, leaning forward, knitting completely forgotten. "And you realize, Severus Snape, that she's losing bits of herself every day? Every minute. The longer she spends in this world, where she does not belong, the more she's losin' what she already had. We weren't meant to live in here. That's why that curse isn't used, and actually, it's why it's called a damn curse in the first place!" It takes a lot to rile a painting-person, especially one who's been around this long. A listener can hear the hints of her accent poking through the words.

Severus runs a long-fingered hand through his hair. "Yes, Mother." It's all he can do as she continues a rant that's been building for days. He realizes she's been intending to broach this subject since their discussion the other night. "Worrisome though that may be, I have news on that selfsame subject." She stops her flow of words, merely leaning back, everything copacetic again. It's a strange sight for one unfamiliar with those in portraits. The storm has passed, and she's delivered her message. She can return to the status quo. "Thank you." Years of shared companionship as partners against the world have habituated him to responding even to her portrait in a polite fashion. "I received permission to find the countercurse." It was hard-won, but worth it. "I have it right here." He gestures to the table, where a scroll sits. "I dared not take the book from its location, so I copied the pertinent information down." He sits down in his chair, obviously tired. "I have not slept since I recovered it. I was intending to do so now, but if you see Miss Noble, or are expecting her, then I shall await her presence. I do concur with your assessment of the danger of the situation."

Elieen leans back a little more, the flash of relief clear on her face. "Oh, that's grand, Severus." She picks up her knitting again, still working on the throw for her chair. "I haven't seen her for a couple of days, which is troubling, son."

Severus turns, and frowns. "You've not seen her for that long?" He had become aware that Siobhan was a frequent visitor to his mother's painting. His lips thin with worry, and silence falls between them as he pours himself a drink, thoughts swirling.

Pensive in a way that has marked so much of the last week and change, Siobhan takes her time wandering through the maze of portraits that have made up her world for what now seems like forever. Perhaps it's the last vestiges of some ancestor's untrained Seer ability or perhaps it's because everything is eerily quiet today; for whatever reason, her gut is filled with a strange sense of foreboding. When she can find neither 'Zar nor Ro, the stormclouds in her expression solidify. It's enough of an emotional barrier between her and Things She Does Not Want To Think About that it just might be safe to go see Eileen. Finally. It was so hard to keep the older woman from guessing, last time - so out of her (possibly misguided) sense of protectiveness, she's kept her distance. Scuffing her toe along the ground - and trying very hard not to think about the fact that she should have felt that impact, she rubs her upper arms for warmth and turns to follow the path towards Eileen.

In that weird and twisted way time has of distorting for her in these paintings, Siobhan finds herself climbing the stairs to Eileen's sitting room before she's really quite ready to. Taking a deep breath, she opens the door and slips inside. The smile she offers Eileen is just a touch sheepish, but even just being here relaxes her more than she's been in days. Strange, she's missed this room and this woman more than she'd realized she would. "Hullo, Eileen." Her voice is quiet, but serene in the way that says she spent part of her journey stuffing a lot of things behind the wall in her mind. Stepping around the sitting area to flop down into her customary seat, she reaches up to pull her robes tighter around her shoulders and tucks her legs up underneath her. "I - " and then her gaze catches Severus through the frame on the wall and she inclines her head in a slow, deep nod. "Feeling better?" It's a mild question, but judging by the sharp way she watches his posture and movements, it isn't simply a matter of conversational pleasantries.

"Miss Noble." Severus looks back up at the painting, where his mother sits, beaming almost as brightly as the mad fool. "Mother, your mad side is showing." He hisses his words softly, but his tone is light, bordering on giddy for him. "Your timing is impeccable, Miss Noble. Have you been conversing with our elders again?" He quirks a brow at her, leaving aside the young woman's question completely for the moment, except to turn it right back around on her. "That is precisely what I was going to ask you. How are you faring?" Normally, he is not this direct, not this blunt — leave the blunt and brass to the tower dwellers — but tonight, there is an urgency that leads him to gaze intently at the strokes that make her current form. "You are experiencing … side effects." It is patently not a question.

"Severus Snape!" Elieen's tones are sharp, and she gazes at her son for a long moment before turning a now-smiling face toward her visitor. "Sevvie's right, dear. You do have the best timing." She clacks her needles together in the silence for a moment. "You going to tell her, son, or am I?" She'll force the issue. This isn't the time for games. "And yes, she's been having bloody side effects!" Doesn't he listen?

Severus rolls his eyes at his mother's intervention, and sighs, feeling mightily put-upon. It's not that he doesn't want to do this; it's that he'd like to keep his dignity whilst doing so. That, it becomes readily apparent, will not happen tonight. "Fine. I will move the proceedings along. Miss Noble, I have your cure." He jerks his head toward the scroll on the table."

Siobhan doesn't bat a lash when Snape turns the question back on her. She gives him a Look that very clearly says 'I see what you did there.' But she'll let him get away with it, because Eileen is here and Eileen can make him squirm better than she can, so she'll let the Master do her work for her. "Thanks Eileen." She gives the older woman a genuinely affectionate smile, content for the moment to be silent and listen to the pair of them go back and forth. There's a slight wince as Eileen rather vehemently declares that she's having Problems. Even now, there's still a part of her that would rather her former Professor not know her weak points thankyouverymuch. Heaving the sigh of the much put-upon - you're not the only one, Snape! - she nods. "I've lost sensation." Trying to think of it in purely clinical terms doesn't quite take care of the slight shake in her voice. "I've never been able to taste anything here, but over time the sense of smell and then touch have gone as well." She refuses to look at either of them and takes a deep, shaking breath. "I can't ever seem to get warm and … " She swallows hard. This last one is difficult to admit. "Bits of me have started to … disappear."

She opens her mouth to say more, but it snaps shut with an audible 'click' when Snape speaks again. There's … a rather interesting spectrum of emotions that cross Siobhan's face, but in the end she closes off all of it and simply stands in front of the chair, her body almost humming with tension. There are no words capable of expressing gratitude for this - at least not until they can discuss the impetus for it - but there is respect in her gaze when she meets Snape's. "What must I do?"

Eileen is the first to respond to her clinical list of symptoms. "Merlin and Morgana, child!" Slytherin she may be, but Mrs. Snape is still a mother. "I didn't realize it had gotten quite that bad." She looks down to her stitching — she's dropped two. The wand makes an appearance, and she flicks it to fix the dropped stitches. "It's high time, then." She nods her head sharply, falling silent in a clear directive to her son. 'Get to work.'

Snape is somewhat intrigued by the list — not that he enjoys the experience of pain for himself or another, but as a clinician, he can appreciate understanding what the curse actually does. Now he knows. It's not an acceptable alternative to stasis, nor is it something he'd use except in a very specific situation. "Miss Noble." He closes his eyes for just a second, his only acknowledgement of her suffering. Then, his practicality surges back to the surface, considering how to answer her question. "Merely stand in front of the table, as close to the … front of the canvas as you can, please." He'd hate to miss her and somehow have some weird ghost-like apparition of his mother in front of him. That'd be almost worse than the reverse. He read about the possibilites, and how the caster did try that on a painting — not pretty. "I shall cast the spell, and you will be corporeal again. Then, we have much to discuss, if we are to properly accomplish all of our goals." He visibly turns toward the sideboard, pulling out a second drink, filling it much more than he might for himself, and holding it up to the window, signaling his understanding. He sets it back down, and walks toward the table, grabbing the scroll. He has to get this just right.

Taking a deep breath, Siobhan lifts one foot to step closer and then immediately re-thinks her action, spinning on her heel and coming to stand in front of Eileen's chair. Even though she's never broached the unspoken 'bounds' of their friendship, she kinda figures that since it's probably going to be her last chance to do so, it won't kill anything. Reaching down to grab the older woman's wrist, Sio gently pulls her to a standing position where she can wrap both arms around her and bury her face in Eileen's shoulder, hugging tight and whispering a broken 'thank you' before releasing her hold and stepping away. Turning back to face Severus, she takes the few steps needed and - first checking to make sure Q is tucked safely around her shoulders under the school robe - presses both palms against the 'painting'. The look on her face just dares Snape to comment on that hug. Just dares. Her eyes dart to the drink he pours and lifts, and a small twitch of her lips softens that expression a little. It's nice to know someone who pays attention to details.

Snape says absolutely nothing. Partially because he's glad his mother has had a … companionable visitor for tea, and partially because he knows if he says word one, his mother will harrangue him again. He does give a quick smile while he focuses on the scroll, turned obliquely to prevent the women from seeing it. "Very well, Miss Noble." He swishes his wand in a practice move, then shakes his head, repeating the action adding a small twist to the end. Satisfied, he nods once, sharply, much like his mother's nod a moment ago (but don't mention that to him), and reads off a long complicated string of Latin syllables, timing them expertly with the flick of the wand in the pattern he'd just practiced. The gist of the Latin is basic, though specific. It calls on the magic to return spirit to form, removing the soul from the two-dimensional plane to the three-, and he speaks it flawlessly. As he speaks, her body begins to form in front of him, slowly seeming to form from pure magic. He cannot pause in his intonation of syllables, so he dextrously reaches over to the couch, grabbing a cushion to throw on the floor. The body in front of him seems to be falling. It's all he can do. He finishes the string, then jabs, doing the twist with his wand right at the end. Siobhan is free from the painting. He drops his arm, exhausted. The lack of sleep is catching up to him, and this required a good bit of magic. It may be a very good thing that it was Severus Snape casting the spell. There may not have been many others able. He isn't aware of this, though.

Eileen accepts the hug graciously, giving the young lass in front of her a soft, motherly kiss on her cheek. She also whispers a quick, "give 'em hell," into her ear before releasing her with a pat on the shoulder. She sits back down in her chair, impassively watching the proceedings, though her observation remains intense — or as intense as a portrait-person can get. When Severus finishes, she sets her needles down and claps. "Oh, Sevvie. You look done in. Sit down before you …" Just then, Siobhan falls over, head landing mostly on to the cushion. "…fall down."

There's a certain sort of irony in a spell that was so quick to cast having such a drawn-out and complicated counter. It's an irony that Siobhan will appreciate later. Maybe. For now she's biting down on her lip and concentrating hard on not screaming. It's not that the process is … painful, so to speak. It's like feeling your whole body suddenly compressed into a straw through which it is sucked and then very slowly re-shaped into three dimensions. It's … uncomfortable, to say the least, but she knows from the level of conentration given to it by Severus that it's complex and so she doesn't want to do anythng that might cause a slip.

Thank Merlin for cushions. Though her body is sculpted back into flesh and bone at a height where her feet are flat on the ground, these bones and muscles aren't being controlled by a nervous system that's accustomed to, you know, real gravity. It's a good thing Snape's ability to multi-task is pretty phenomenal, because that cushion saves Siobhan from a rather nasty bloody lip/nose combination. For a few moments after her mentor drops to sit, Siobhan can't do anything but lay there. Going from numbness and lack of sensation to this is … it's taking her mind a bit to process the sheer shock of information overload brought by her over-sensitized nervous system.

It doesn't help that her whole body feels like it's covered in a fine layer of dust and ink and parchment. None of it is properly visible, but she can feel it like grime against her skin and making her mouth dry and her nose stuffed. After months of feeling nothing, it's just far, far too much. She grits her teeth and slowly pushes herself to stand. It's not a steady stance by far, but it holds. Reaching up, she pulls a long, white winged snake - Severus may have the education to recognize it as a Seraph - from beneath the shoulders of her robe and gingerly drapes the herptile around Severus' shoulders. "Pet her." It's a way to let the small blind snake learn his scent and not end up hurting herself trying to get back to her human, but Siobhan can't be arsed just now to explain all of that. Even just the spoken two sound rough and hoarse. Reaching out unsteadily, she grabs the glass meant for her and downs the whole thing in one gulp. It burns like the nine levels of hell and she gives great chesty coughs once it's down, but the rush of alcohol into her bloodstream will help to dull all of these … feelings. She hopes. That done, she half-walks, half-stumbles out of the room. She has no idea where she's going, but a hoarse shout of "Janet!" is followed by the sound of running water, so it's not too hard for anyone to guess.

Snape blinks. He sits tiredly in the chair, regaining his composure. If she were not experiencing her own challenging moment right now, Siobhan Noble would have a lot of leverage over her mentor. However, as she's dealing with her recovery from the world of the canvas, she misses his stupor-like blinking. He reaches a hand to idly pet the Seraph where it falls, mentally calculating the use for the wing feathers. Her familiar is safe - for now - but habit is what it is. The thought process actually calms him, centers him. "Thank you, Mother." There is a small hint of sarcasm, though not much. His eyes track Siobhan's movements through the room, the long draught of his fine whiskey, and the call for her family's house-elf. His eyebrow raises at her behavior, but no censure or complaint escapes his lips. He is just too damn tired for that.

Eileen Prince sits in her chair, returning to her knitting acting for all the world like nothing's changed at all. It's a perk of being actually painted into the painting. "Poor lass," she mutters before tapping the strand of yarn to change its color at just the right time. "Why don't you have that house elf get you something to eat, Sevvie?" Eileen cajoles, attempting to mother her son even from her current vantage point.'

The shower is quite possibly the best invention. Ever. Despite how much it hurts - or maybe because of it - Siobhan turns the water up as hot as it can go and stands under the spray. Alone once Janet takes away the uniform and brings back what she's told to, Sio lets herself stand under the scalding, pressurized water - one arm braced against the cold tiled wall - and cries. It helps that the freshwater running down her face mixes with the saltwater running from her eyes. It helps more that she knows how to cry quietly.

Even with the five minutes spent purging emotions too-long held in, Siobhan only takes a total of fifteen to re-emerge. Padding much more steadily back down the hall in a tank-top and cotton sleep shorts - and the wince as she accidentally brushes against the fabric of an armchair hints that this is probably the most clothing she can stand against her skin just now - she holds her tiny wand between her teeth as she sweeps her hair up into a sloppy bun. She can feel every single strand tugging against her scalp, but it's more bearable than feeling each wispy strand tickling her back and shoulders. So she deals.Her skin is a rather telling shade of pink - and the fact that her wand isn't yet back in the holster (missing from her forearm for the first time in years) suggests that this is even after a mild healing charm - and her eyes are red-rimmed and a little bloodshot, but her expression is a much more genuine calm than before.

She folds her too-skinny limbs into some semblance of order as she sits curled around her knees on the couch adjacent to Snape's own seat and rests her chin between her knees. She does inhale deeply through her nose, strangely comforted by the scent combination of her shampoo and Snape's soap. She most definitely does not flinch when the fabric of the couch rubs up against a spot of bare skin where her tank top had risen up her back. "Eileen," she ventures quietly. "Can you make sure 'Zar knows we were successful?" Only Sio would have been insatiably curious enough to find it, but there is a portrait of Slytherin's Founder in the old Prince house - one of their few treasures. It's a task she obviously can't perform anymore, but it will also give the two three-dimensional people a chance to speak more freely. Turning to Snape, then, she nods towards Q, who is purring and rubbing her face against the side of his jaw. "I can take her, if you want." The idea of scales against her skin just now is not an appealing one, but the Seraph is her responsibility, not his.

Snape is attuned to all the noise in the house: his domain, his safety. He slowly swivels his head, allowing himself to track his student's progress across his floor. "Miss Noble." His voice is flat, exhausted and relieved all at once. Once she has seated herself and his mother gone on her mission, he leans forward, dislodging the seraph from his arm. He makes no attempt to move her from her new position on his knee, however. "You appear to be in pain." Besides being tired this is unwelcome territory. Consolation and comfort are absolutely not his bailiwick. "Do you require a pain potion?"

Stubborness, thy name may very well be Snape, but to the same degree - or possibly more, who knows! - thy name be Siobhan as well.

"No." She means it to come out as firm. It only manages to make sullen. Her mouth opens to say more, but at that moment Janet appears with a tray bearing two steaming mugs. Sio's is handed to her, but Snape's is left on the low table in front of him. Janet may be a House Elf, but she's a bloody wily one. Wrapping her hands around the smooth warmth of the ceramic mug, Siobhan takes a hesitant sip. Even watered down to almost nothing, the tea is nearly too strong a flavor. Still, the hot liquid feels so very good going down her throat. She mumbles her thanks and the elf once again disappears - but only after executing a sweeping sort of bow. Another sip and then another; Sio may be imagining things, but she hopes the minute lessening of the flavor's strength is real. Being this sensitive to everything all the time would suck. She watches Q slowly adjust herself into a loose coil, content to nap on the leg she's been left on.

"When is it?" she ventures quietly, sounding drained and weary. Non-sequitor, ahoy! An instant later, Sio seems to realize that her train of thought had skipped a couple of tracks and clarifies. "The Order meeting. Did you mean just the regular one or …" Because she doesn't remember a 'regularly scheduled' one being planned any earlier than November. Her lips twitch upwards in a slow, pale reflection of her customary wicked smile. "Or were you making it up?" This seems to amuse her a great deal. "Cause I'll tell you right now, Severus - that took some balls." And that is so much more like her old self that it feels alien and familiar and downright amazing. She takes another sip of her watery tea.

Snape will take the tea gladly, sipping it slowly, realizing that it's made just the way he likes it. He looks up at Janet, inspecting her for a long, tired moment before turning his gaze back to his houseguest. "There is a meeting of a few of the more — eager membership this next week. I heard Fletcher mention it in the pub. I had to obliviate two nosy witches after that imbecile left, but perhaps it was worth it." Severus' filter clearly is not as effective as normal. It's to be expected. The last few days have been hectic, and he hasn't slept well at all. "It is fortunate, then, that I possess such anatomical features, is it not?" See? No filter whatsoever. "May I impose upon your efficient helper to summon us a more tangible repast than mere beverages?" He's hungry. He sets his teacup down again, and allows his lips to thin. "Do you have any suggestions as to how to go about this? Your parents ought to be notified, I suppose." He doesn't add her bevy of brothers, but it is implied. "Do you have a way to do that, or a preferred timeline?" He draws his hand across his face, making Q flutter her wings nervously. "Calm down, you wretched thing." His words are acerbic, but his tone remains mostly flat. "I mean you no ill."

Fletcher. Fletcher. Fletcher. Flet - "Dung?" she queries, the name sounding like it might fit the shady dealer's surname, but she never uses it, so she has no real clue. That behavior sounds like him, at any rate.

They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but the beverage that Sio lifts to her lips when Snape makes his oh-so-dry reply is hot. So when the completely unfiltered, unexpected response leaves his lips, she is shocked enough to spray the mouthful of tea she'd just taken all over her hands and lap. Choking back laughter that refuses to be entirely killed, she reaches over for her wand and waves a silent cleaning spell. It's that which stops her laughter cold. For just a moment she stares at her wand arm like it's a foreign creature and not her own limb. "That was … different." Seeming to recall where she is and whose company she's keeping, Sio's gaze darts back to her former professor and she lets that comment stand for both his comment and the … weirdness in her arm. She didn't dribble her drink down her face and robes, but she can appreciate the justice in it all the same.

"Oh, oh of course." Her face pales with a tinge of green at the thought of solid food just now, but it makes logical sense that he'd be starved. "Janet?" It seems that the desire for her appearance and the sound of her name - however soft - are enough to summon the most senior of the Noble House Elves, for she reappears with an affectionate sort of grin plastered on her face. "What can Janet be doing for the young Mistress?" Siobhan nods towards her companion. "Bring Professor Snape whatever he'd like to eat please, Janet." The old elf gives her a sharp, narrow-eyed look. Siobhan winces and relents. "And a bowl of broth for me, as well." Whether or not she intends to actually eat it, fighting Janet on bringing it is not worth the energy today.

"Jack and Da should have figured things out by now." Oh, how truly well does she know her family. "I'll have Ministry examiners waiting to administer my NEWTs." She folds her legs into a tailor-style seat - still managing to fit all of her small frame comfortably on the couch - and rests her chin in one hand while the other holds the mug. "I suppose I should do those tomorrow." She winces at that thought, but procrastination won't serve anyone now. She's wasted enough time. Brown eyes turn an eerily sharp gaze onto her mentor, watching for his reactions carefully. "And you?" Given that she witnessed his little tete-a-tete with the Dark Lord, it's a loaded question, indeed.

"Intelligent Gryffindors." He snorts, picking up his tea to drain it. "This I shall definitely have to see." He shifts a little in his seat, making himself more comfortable, still making no motion to rouse the creature from his lap. It can be taken as tacit permission. "Mundungus Fletcher. A skiving sneakthief and a lazy, no good criminal. Unfortunately, he has a talent which the others in the Order," himself included, "seem to lack." He doesn't clarify what specific talent he means, however.

When she casts the spell and is so thrown by it, he has to inquire, both as her host and her mentor. "Different in what manner?" He leans forward a little, attempting to inspect her from afar, perhaps hoping to see the 'difference' for himself. When none seems apparent, he settles in again, even going so far as to shift the young familiar on his lap to a slightly more comfortable position.

"I am not a particular man, elf. I merely require something to eat. One plate's worth." He gestures, showing the size of the 'plate' in question, clearly having dealt with house elves before. "Perhaps something you have already prepared that hasn't been completely consumed." Leftovers, in other words.

"Will you be sufficiently rested to perform at your most able tomorrow?" Severus has already moved on to the next topic even as Janet is popping away to get their food. "If not, perhaps they will give you a moment or two to catch your breath." He snorts again.

"My plans are to reacquire my place within the Order, and see from that point. I shudder to think of the state of my — former — classroom, but if Albus allows, I would even return there." It may not be what he would prefer to do for the rest of his life, but he feels the need to make sure the students of Wizarding Britain know the difference between a Mandrake and a Muckroot. "Else, I shall continue as I have been, brewing for the Dark Lord, and otherwise stirring in empty cauldrons."

Q is - now that her initial nervous flutterings have resulted in nothing more than a grumble from this new human - entirely content to curl up and sleep on warm legs. She's still purring. Somewhere in the world, hundreds of past, present and future Hogwarts students are twitching with fear, though they know not why. After all, how smart could a creature be if it's curling up to nap on Snape? … Apparently pretty intelligent, since he hasn't moved her thusfar. Sio watches her young snake with distant amusement. Snape's answer to her House Elf, however, only gets Janet glancing back at Sio for confirmation. The former student rolls her eyes and heaves a sigh. "Stroganov over wheat pasta and steamed broccoli on the side." Content now that her orders are much more specific, Janet disappears with a snap of her fingers. "Don't complain," she heads him off before he can argue. "It won't take long." Plus it gives him protein, carbohydrates and lots of good vitamins - like iron! - from the veg. Yes, she's mothering. No, she won't apologize for doing so. "Leftovers from Mum's dinners could be anything from fois gras to borscht." Neither of which would be good for his nutrition or her nausea.

She shrugs one shoulder, hesitant to say something she doubts will be believed. "I felt the spell move down my arm." Old habits die hard and she's far too used to answering his questions. Another shrug answers his next question. "Maybe not tomorrow, then, but the next day." She doesn't immediately explain the rush, but instead gives him a long, measuring look. "Your place in the Order…" She tilts her head to one side, considering. "It would be nice to have someone with sense in those meetings," she agrees, having sat through her fair share from a painting propped up in an empty chair. There's a moment of comfortable silence, wherein Janet returns with Snape's dinner and Sio's broth - which she pointedly doesn't touch. Only once the elf is gone again does she speak again. "What do you want to do, Severus?"

"Your creature is — purring." Severus looks down to the animal on his lap, a little unnerved by her calm. However, he attempts to take it in stride. "You seem to have a better awareness of my preferences than I do at the present moment." Rare admission, that, and perhaps true in more ways than just food. However, he sits in silence for a long while as he contemplates her question. It is a real question, and he will indeed answer honestly.

Rather than give that answer straightaway, though, Snape narrows his eyes and gazes at his student. "You felt the magic move from your core to your wand?" That could be useful. He tries to remember the lectures he's heard, the books he's read on the subject of magic like that. He knows he's heard something. He sets his flat hand sharply down on the arm of the chair, waking Q for a mere moment. Even tired, his memory is superb. "Perhaps you would be able to coax it further out? I don't suggest the attempt while this exhausted, but if you can still feel it when you have acquired the appropriate amount of respite, you may be able to gain a greater control of your magic, and …" He pauses, inhaling before admitting this, but admits it just the same. "You may ease yourself into one of the most difficult branches of magic in existence." He snorts, shaking his head a little. "Only you would come out of a situation such as this one with a new affinity for wandless magic, Miss Noble."

Siobhan's question has not been forgotten. As he picks up his plate (attempting to avoid dislodging the sleeper), he gives his answer. "My main requirement is to be of the most use. If that means I remain watching over young brats and hammering information into their impermeable little craniums, then there I must abide." He eats the food slowly though he is beyond hungry. When he has swallowed a few bites, he continues. "My concern is for the members of our House; I fear without a strong, tolerated presence, many of our little neonates would suffer fates far worse than they currently do." He continues to eat, falling silent. It is a big admission, and one he's not ever been allowed to voice without severe consequences.

Siobhan is so amused. "She does that," is her dry reply, taking the last sip of her tea before leaning forward to set the mug on the table. "Jack told me they only take to people easily for the first few months or so after they hatch and she's long past that." Her smile turns just a little bit wicked. "Means she must genuinely like you." And the entertaining irony of that fact is not at all lost on Sio. She acknowledges his first admission and - in a bit of quid pro quo that seems to be fast becoming a pattern for them, makes one of her own. "I learned early on to watch people's actions, reactions and habits." It's the secret behind her 'sixth sense' when it comes to understanding people even when they don't seem to understand themselves. It's not an admission she makes easily, so she figures it's of about equal value. A true Slytherin, even if her temperament is a bit sanguine for the House stereotype.

And so does she watch him now, fascinated in a strange way by the play of emotion across a face most often devoid of any at all, trying to pinpoint the exact moment whatever information he's trying to recall 'clicks'. "It's a talent," she quips in response to his last, favoring him with one of her easy, playful smiles - the tip of her tongue poking out the side of her mouth between her teeth. But in all seriousness… "I don't plan on moving for a while, so wandless magic can wait. STill…" There's an excited cast to her expression that would be difficult to miss. A power like that … It's enough to make her shiver with anticipation.

The answer about what he wants doesn't surprise her, though she does roll her eyes. "That's a requirement and a concern," she points out oh-so-helpfully, trying not to look at either his food or her broth. No need to set off nausea just now, thanks. "There are an endless number of ways you can be useful. You're a snake. You can adapt." Sometimes it feels just as good to be blunt as it does to be subtle. Yes, Siobhan is weird. We knew this already. "The professor Dumbledore hired to teach Defense was carted away by a Healer at the end of last month." She lets that settle for a moment before dropping the punch line. "To the looney bin, from which place he escaped about a month before the start of term." Yep. Albus hired a crazy person. … Again. "And Professor Moldavia," she unknowingly drops another punch line with that name, "She won't be staying long, either. She's only putting off hunting Greyback until the Headmaster can find a suitable replacement." She wrinkles her nose. "Wish they could have found one before now. She's not a bad teacher, but she scares more of the younger ones than you and Moody combined."

She shifts her neck from side to side, cracking it twice and releasing a satisfied hum at the release of some tension. "I will take my NEWTs this week and will attend the coming Order meeting in person." And her face almost splits with the anticipatory grin - just a little bit feral - that arises at the thought of those reactions. "I have evidence enough to clear you with them and with NEWTs in hand will have enough qualifications to be the better choice to fill the Defense position." She … really does have this planned out. "Because the Ministry woman filling in short-term has them reading the whole time." The sneer on her face tells very plainly just exactly what she thinks about that. "Which will place me in the ideal position to do what I've always done and protect my snakes." Really, really planned out. "Which leaves me with no choice but to repeat the question, Severus. What do you want?"

Out of all of that, the part that hits the tired man the hardest is one of the blows she didn't even know she was delivering. "That dodderig old fool is letting Moldavia instruct my students?" He snarls, stabbing at his stroganoff much more fiercely than necessary. "She wouldn't know a concotion from a cream!" It's hyperbole of course, but he roars his frustration anyway. It does not surprise him that Dumbledore's choice for Defense professor was first insane, and now ineffective. "You seem to have a decent plan, Miss Noble." He approves. He spears a broccoli, taking a couple moments to eat it properly, then shakes his head. "Perhaps you can teach the imbeciles a little more than parlor tricks and fearing their own shadows." He allows the edge of his mouth to quirk up in a half-smile. "I am certain I could locate some Cornish pixies if you wish to emulate some of your own professors."

Severus completely ignores the information about the Seraph. He files it away for later use, but at the moment it is the least of his worries. The assertion that the purring is within the normal range of behavior for this species is plenty. He pauses, fork halfway to his mouth, pondering her words, his expression as close to blank as Siobhan may have ever seen it. "Do you know, Miss Noble," he whispers, setting the fork down on his plate. "I do not know for certain what I would do had I the absolute luxury of such a choice." His life has been defined for so long by this give and take between his two 'masters' that 'choice' has nearly become a dirty word. "Perhaps to travel for a short period of time to find a few ingredients I have had to rely upon distributors for. I am certain that, should I gather Jasmine blossoms myself at specific phases of the moon, I could find a new use for them entirely. There have been hints in…" He has every indication of continuing, but a massive yawn cuts off the uncommon flow of words. "It is unimportant at this stage, and perhaps an entirely moot point." He returns to stabbing his vegetables with his fork. Severus Snape is an extremely practical man.

Well, now. That was certainly unexpected. "You know," she remarks a touch dryly, more at ease than she has been with anyone save Eileen. "I figured you had been your usual charming self and pissed her off something fierce, given how angry she gets when people so much as mention you - not wholly surprising - but the fact that she's managed to piss you off so badly is actually pretty impressive." She may admire this man, like this man, trust this man, enjoy this man … but she's not blind. He's very good at pissing people off. Most of the time, it's fun to watch. She shrugs off his accusation of the professor's ignorance and reaches for the bowl of broth. Something to keep her mouth from getting dry - even if it is far too salty for her taste right now.

The jab makes her snort, but instead of taking offense, she accepts it and merely sticks her tongue out at him in a Very Mature Manner. "Just because I'm a blonde doesn't mean I'm as stupid as Lockhart thankyouverymuch." She chuckles softly to herself and shakes her head. "At least I know you're feeling better, Sevvie." This last is offered with more dryness than the first, but there's not a trace of malice in either voice or expression - just a jab to match his jab. Quid pro quo. When Severus lowers his voice, however, she regards him solemnly, listening without judgement to both the whispered admission and the continued thought. Her response, when it comes, is considering.

"Then why not do so?" She lets that question settle into the comfortable silence between them for a moment before continuing. "Just because your teaching position is open doesn't mean you have to take it." She holds up one hand before he can protest. "I'll be there to watch over the snakes and I'll be in each of the Order meetings." Which accounts for one master. "And it's easy enough to communicate that information to you or to Voldemort directly." One of the 'Alistaire-isms' that has stuck, apparently, is the use of that name. Even after everything she's seen - or perhaps because of it. "There's a way to communicate things much more safely than by owl or Patronus." So that kills that worry, though she doesn't seem inclined to explain any further just now. "And, given your performance the other night - " Oh yes, Severus, she caught that whole debacle, " - I highly doubt it would be too terribly difficult to get him to let you travel under some other pretext." Brown eyes narrow slightly at that yawn, but she doesn't say anything about it just yet. One yawn still falls under the realm of 'adults can make their own decisions'. Barely, but still. "Do you want to come to the Order meeting next week or would you prefer I dealt with them?"

"Please do not call me that, Miss Noble." Severus begins, gripping his fork a little more tightly than he normally would. "My mother began calling me by that nickname when I was tiny and it fit then." He will allow that much. He snorts at her response, appreciating the repartee. "One would sincerely hope. My personal lexicon earned a new illustration under the term 'hopelessly inept' that year." He lays his fork down, listening to her words. "She is sufficiently skilled, I suppose, to at least winnow the chaff from the wheat, but her methods are abysmal." He leans back, allowing the portion of food he's eaten already to digest a little more. "My reasons for being so 'pissed off', as you so crudely put it, are unrelated to her skills as a potioneer." That's as much as he'll offer, though it is more than he might have said at another time.

"I have made a promise." He closes his eyes, strain on his face. "I made several promises to myself and to someone very dear." He does not name this 'someone.' It is enough that he mentions the promise at all. "Were I not bound by it, I would indeed take the time to venture abroad at least for a summer, or perhaps a year or two." He frowns, falling deeper into thought for several quiet moments. "However, I imagine I would eventually make my way back — home." For all its inconveniences and annoyances, Hogwarts is home. It has been for years. "This house is but a poor substitute."

"Fits pretty well now, too," Siobhan quips right back. If it didn't fit, Eileen wouldn't use it. See? Logic! She drops it though, for now. His insult to Lockhart is just amusing enough to distract her. "So long as I manage to escape that section of your 'lexicon', I'll count it a year well spent." It's a dry remark, but she can do that around him without things getting all tangled up or misunderstood. It's rather addicting. There's a part of her - that insatiably curious part - that wants to push harder, press farther; his concession about their temporary professor reeks of Personal Conflict and that's interesting, dammit! She is, however, in possession of a - mostly! - functioning sense of self-preservation, as well as the understanding of enough of his body language to know when to let things go. And so - despite an Odd Look - she lets it pass untouched.

"I can respect that." The promises made, that is. There's a strange look of guilt and relief, however, at the implications of said statement. "And I'm glad of it, too." After admitting such, the guilt overtakes the relief. She hates even feeling like she's had a hand in taking someone else's choices from them; after this past year and all of the choices she's had yanked away from her… "Being a snake in that school was hard enough with you taking the brunt of it." The knowing look inserted here says she knows more than most about how much he took on in unlauded defense of his charges. "I can't imagine doing it without at least having one person I trust in the building." It's an oblique sort of admission, but easily obvious enough for him to pick up on the fact that it's he to whom she is referring. She finally understands; he is finally forgiven. This time it is she who smothers a yawn, setting the bowl of broth on the table and wrapping her bare arms around herself for warmth - regretting the decision to wear tank-top and shorts even with the extra sensitivity of her skin. "It will be nice to go home, though." With its halls full of life and energy, Hogwarts is home in a way her big empty house stopped being a long time ago. The burden of being the youngest is that they must bear the empty nest.

Snape gives her a pointed look for her insouciance, but also remains silent on the subject of his nickname. He snorts. "It would take a hard fall for you to sink that low, Miss Noble." He catches her odd look, wonders what it's about for about half a moment, then moves on to the other things. She respects the fact that he is keeping a promise, and that to him is near enough a promise in and of itself on this matter. "My Head of House was a very connected man. If you managed to catch and keep his attention, your path through your years of matriculation were painless indeed. However, that attention was kept by at the maximum, five students per form." If it was a good year. "I did not make that particular threshold."

He finishes his meal, scraping his fork across the plate to get the last of the sauce of the stroganoff, and frowns at her comments. "Do you intend to go home yet tonight?" He misunderstands her words. "You are welcome to rest where you sit, though it is not the most comfortable of places to sleep." He well knows this, having fallen asleep there plenty of times himself. "I must prove myself a less than perfect host, for my hours of wakefulness catch up with me quickly, and I do have duties to attend to." Namely, he's gotta finish those damn potions. The Dark Lord may have given him a slight reprieve on the timing of the two potions he hadn't yet finished, but the reprieve is over.

"One last thing, Miss Noble…" He sets the plate down on the floor beside him, cradling the Seraph in his arms as he moves to stand. He carries Q over to her mistress, setting her down beside her without waking her up. Leaning in to hiss his words in his dark whisper, he continues. "I know that you were reared in a den of Lions, but caution is always required when it comes to the Dark Lord." He emphasizes the last few words, pausing after each for effect. "Do. Not. Say. His. Name." He moves over, lifting the plate from the floor, and snaps his fingers to summon Janet to take the plate back to the kitchen from whence it came.

It's nice to get compliments every so often - even moreso if they're the kind of funny back-handed compliments that Snape tends to give (when he gives them at all). But Sio's also tired, tired enough that her mind easily slides from that to the mention of his Head of House. Her nose wrinkles as she thinks back to the stories her eldest two brothers would often tell of their time at school. "You were in the same year as Liam…" And yes, there is a mildly apologetic look shot his way for her prat of a brother. "So that would be …" Disgust colors her expression as her head is tilted back. "Slughorn, right? Yeah, he latched on to Liam something fierce." Being the Heir to an old, powerful and wealthy family will have that effect. "I met him once or twice at Mum's 'little get-togethers' - be thankful you weren't born a pureblooded girl - and never did get a good feelin' off of him." Her filters are going too, but it's still a valid statement. Being paraded around a bunch of eligible young men and their families is not Sio's idea of a party. At all. Full stop. The end.

"His loss," she snorts, yawning around her automatic jump to the defense of her mentor. Who - all things considered - really probably neither needs nor wants it. Oh, well. His misunderstanding only earns him an incredulous stare. "Do I look like I'm in any state to go to Balmorrow tonight?" It's a rhetorical question, a bit gruffer than is perhaps necessary because she really doesn't want to try and make that long Apparition - not least because it would mean another few hours of reuinion and explanations she's not ready to deal with tonight. "I doubt anywhere is going to be properly comfortable right now, but I haven't slept properly since I got stuck in that bloody painting so I hardly think it matters terribly much." She's rambling in between yawns. Mention of 'one more thing' catches her attention a bit sharply and she watches the care with which he returns Q with a fond smile - half-hidden by her turned head, so he may or may not catch it.

And then suddenly there is Severus. In her space. Soft brown eyes go wide as saucers as the he completely and utterly invades every last bit of her Personal Space. Given how sensitive she is to everything right now, it's too intense. The slightly rumbling tone and then the hiss of the unspoken threat implied in his command, the heat radiating from one living organism to the next by proximity, the wash of scents - dinner and brandy and tea and the same soap-smell that's on her skin - and the stale feel of breath against her ear… It's all Too Much Sensation and she reacts before her better sense can kick in. Lifting one hand, she presses it flat against his chest and slowly pushes. It's not meant to be a sudden shove, more of a consistent force to put a less overwhelming distance between them. "There's no reason not to say it and every reason to say it," she snaps, lashing out because she is far too sensitive to everything and overwhelmed and over-exhausted and and and. "I refuse to give him more power by giving in to fear of something so stupid when there are so many other things about him more worth being afraid of!" Like his Shadow.

Shifting her gaze away from him - to anywhere in the room but him right now - she spies one of the open black robes tossed over the back of a chair and flings her hand out just in time to catch it. So desperate for anything that will provide a barrier between her and the rest of the world right now, she doesn't even notice that her spike of temper coincided with A Complete Lack of Wand. Flinging the garment around her shoulders, she winces at the roughness of it against her skin and curls up on her side around Q. She's short enough and small enough that curled up the way she is, nothing is left exposed by the improvised blanket save her face, and even that's been shrouded by her still-damp hair. Her quick and jerky movements managed to dislodge the elastic holding it in place. In the silence, she starts to realize her poor manners and bad overreaction, but at this point … she has nothing to say in her own defense and so - for better or for worse - says nothing at all.

Snape pauses on his way out of the room. "Liam. Yes. Roomed with them." That's plenty of connection for him. Her comment about being a pureblooded girl gets a wry snort of laughter. "I have seen the lengths to which some women will go to find appropriate — companions for their children." He doesn't think much of the practice either, but it's a part of the society they live in. He adapts. "Horace Slughorn, yes."

Severus Snape is tired. He is unsteady. When Siobhan pushes him, he stands, flails once, flails twice, and lands on his arse. He blinks, looks over at her, pure surprise on his face. Whether that's for his current position, her wandless magic or some odd mixture of both, it is uncertain.

"When you have seen what I have seen, Siobhan," the use of her given name is a calculated move to get her to listen just a little longer. "When you have seen men cursed within an inch of their life or even past that for merely speaking his name, you may choose to utter it with impugnity. Albus may at his convenience for that very reason." And several others, of course, but that does not bear mentioning. "It is a strange, idiotic custom to abide by, but I do it to keep myself just that much safer. Perhaps it is superfluous of me, but I encourage similar behavior in those in my keeping to attempt to keep them somewhat safe as well!" And with that pronouncement, he grabs the arm of the couch, stands up, and strides off to his bedroom.

As Siobhan falls asleep, she may hear a soft 'tsk' sound from the portrait that held her earlier in the evening.

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