1995-10-19: The Importance Of A Good Foundation

Participants:

McGonagall_icon.gif Siobhan_icon.gif

Scene Title The Importance of a Good Foundation
Synopsis Siobhan and Minerva have a late-night talk in the library. Foundations are built and discussed
Location Hogwarts - Library
Date October 19, 1995
Watch For Hairballs, flirting portraits and Really Hard Questions
Logger I am the Bad Wolf

A little ball of glowing light follows Minerva up and down the libraries rows, as it nears time for the room to close out for the night. Her boots making a distinctive click along the hard floors, unaccompanied by words - only tbe barest of pauses as she pulls a book upright. Of course, she eventually comes to the restricted section and pauses there, sending the light inside to illuminate before she'll step over the rope.

And of course the Restricted Section is right where Siobhan is curled up. Having conjured herself a large, fluffy violet chair to sit in, she is dressed rather like a Muggle with long black cotton leggings and a long blue tunic-top. Her teaching robes - black with silver trimmings today - are slung over a nearby table and she reads a very, very old tome beneath a floating light of her own. The appearance of another light and the click of approaching boot heels makes her look up. A smile of recognition lights her face and Siobhan inclines her head in a respectful greeting. "Evening, Professor." The customary address is so much of a habit after seven years. "Anyone eager to get dragged out by their ears tonight?"

"Good evenng, Miss… Professor Noble." Old habits are indeed hard to break, but McGonagall hasn't survived as a witch /this/ long without being a bit adaptable. "As you no doubt recall, first-years are so often eager to prove they can hide amongst the book stacks and smuggle out an intriguing tome or two. But none today. No doubt thanks to your timely reading." Is she disappointed not to have anyone that can be dragged out by the ear? Maaaaaaaaybe. Her smile is genuine as she allows her light to float ever closer. "Interesting I would hope, if you're going to settle in amidst the dust."

Siobhan's smile softens as McGonagall makes a slip of her own, hints of sadness and even wistfulness clawing at the edges of her eyes. "I think I may have given one of your cubs a bit of a fright," she admits, changing the subject to stall the nostalgic ache for her own care-free days of innocence. "I'd forgotten how early they learn to hate us." She doesn't insult her older colleague by clarifying just who 'us' is; a slimy Slytherin professor actually smiling at a young lion would indeed be quite a fright. When the light comes closer, she lifts her tome to let the title show. It's in a more modern dialect of European Latin, but translates to 'Theory of Magical Cores'. Settling it back on her lap, she gestures to the stack of books on the table next to her. "I didn't want to lug everything down to the dungeons and then back up, so I conjured a better chair and took the lazy way out." Since most of the old tomes don't take well to being re-sized or even spelled, it's a little more forgiveable.

"Oh?" An eyebrow arches expressively upon hearing that one of her Gryffindor's has been given a fright. And maybe, just maybe, a bit of a sigh escapes her lips before she can prevent it. "Some rivalries will simply never go away, my dear." Like, say.. Quidditch! Ahem. "Theory of Magical Cores. Now there's a book I haven't cracked open in decades!" she exclaims, not even a tiny bit embarassed at being so expressive about her age. "I certainly won't make a fuss over being sensible. Now why don't you tell me what happened with the student, hmm?"

Lifting her right arm, Siobhan lightly taps her wrist against the arm of the chair and flicks the tiny willow focus towards the rickety wooden chair next to hers. She's managed to learn how to mostly hide the grimace that still comes when casting a spell, but perhaps the smooth transfiguration from uncomfortable to plush crimson armchair will distract from it. See? She paid attention in your class. For the practical stuff, the actual casting. The theory always went right over her head. "I was curious about what it is that gives us the ability to perform magic and not, say, Muggles." The wand is stowed easily back up to sit flush against her forearm and she runs the now-empty hand down her face. "Sadly, this book sucks." Blunt, but true. "I'd have to have another ten years of school just to understand the words they use; forget about how they try to explain it." Still, she marks her place and closes the book gently, grumbling something about why it would have killed these authors to use conversational Latin. "What? Oh." Siobhan shrugs, feigning nonchalance. "Nothing new, Professor. She was really struggling with Severus' latest assignment and I offered to help. Which was fine, of course, until one of the older ones - " the ones who actually remembered her from last year " - demanded to know what I was doing to her." The rest can pretty much speak for itself, she thinks.

"My old bones appreciate plush over wicker, I promise you that." There's no comment from the elder witch about a grimace, though there's a pleased nod at the transfiguration itself. "I believe I came much to the same conclusion… each and every time I decided to try reading it again." Did she just give the book an evil eye? Yes, yes she did. "And who was it that asked such a question of a Professor?" Minerva wonders, her lips pursing as she fixes Siobhan with a look that suggests a name had better be forthcoming. "No student of /my/ House will be allowed to show such disrespect, and I cannot imagine any of the others condoning it either. To do so is not only disrespectful to you, but to those who hired you."

Siobhan rolls her eyes good-naturedly, nodding over to McGonagall as she sits in the provided chair. "Pfft, you're not anywhere near as old or feeble as you want us to think you are." It's a friendly tease, Siobhan's playful grin betraying her affection for the old wildcat. Aha! If even McGonagall hates the book, then it's not just her being dumb. That definitely brightens the young professor's mood. "Ronan Rockwell," she answers succinctly, not in the habit of lying to this particular colleague. "But if you don't mind, I'd rather he learn to respect me rather than play nice because he respects you." Her good-natured smile turns positively wicked, then. "I'll have the lot of them together for class next week." She'd asked special permission to have all of her classes together for this presentation. "So I'll be sure he learns his lesson before then." And while Siobhan was never known to be viscious to her fellow students, there's something about her tone that suggests it won't be fun to be Rockwell this week, but that it will be fun to watch him.

"Professor Noble, do keep your voice down." Minerva replies primly, one hand held up to her throat as she casts a glance around to make sure there's nobody in earshot. "It does the students some good to think I'm old and decrepit so that when I prove I'm not they are suitably cowed." A bit of lint is picked from her skirt and flicked away then before she nods. Just once. "Very well. But I'll be keeping an eye on the young man. It has been some time /indeed/ since any students have found a hairball in their shoes." She is referring to Filch's cat there, right? …. Right? "At least we can say Hogwarts will never be boring now, can't we?"

Siobhan laughs quietly into her hand, obeying the request for silence but thoroughly enjoying Minerva's prim discomfort. "If you say so, Professor." It's really hard to keep the laughter out of her voice, but she does it. Mostly. And then it seems that equilibrium is restored and that all is right with the world. Right up until her former professor mentions a hairball. Gasping and gulping at the same time does not ever end well, as Siobhan learns firsthand. Torn between choking and laughing and coughing and trying not to laugh, she simply takes a few moments to cough-sputter-giggle into her hand before commanding enough control over herself to give McGonagall a sharp look. "Boring? Professor, I've lived here so long it feels more like home than my house does." So a drop in the bucket to McGonagall or Dumbledore, but it's almost half her life thusfar. "And that forces me to ask… Who in their right mind ever called Hogwarts boring?"

Bemused at the young woman's amusement, Minerva tips her head downward just enough that she can glance ayt Siobhan over the rim of her glasses. "I believe you need a spot of tea, my dear. You've something caught in your throat." Because far be it for the deputy headmistress to acknowledge she just intimated she leave kitty presents for troublesome students. "How well I know. Hogwarts /has/ been my home for many years. I do wonder who keeps changing the portraits to my room around though." Because the latest ons sure is a doozy! "Nobody in their right mind ever has. But one musn't assume that everyone who attends is actually *in* their right mind. Were that the case, Dolores Umbridge would surely not be the crazed lunatic she is today now would she." Dry as brittle paper her voice is now.

"Tea sounds lovely, actually," Siobhan manages to croak out, clearing her throa. "Would you like some? Janet!" The name is hissed out and a small, stately-looking house elf appears with a muted crack. "Tea for two please, Janet." She pauses long enough for McGonagall to specify how she would like hers, then nods to the elf, who promptly disappears. She returns to the conversation at hand, nodding in agreement before smothering a smile. "You've got one of my ancestors now, don't you?" She squints, actively trying to remember. "I think that's the one, anyway, unless he got put at Sprout's door…" Sio tilts her head to one side, contemplating for a moment before shrugging it off as unimportant. Especially when talk of insane students is brought up. Giving the Head of Gryffindor another sharp look, Siobhan agrees with her. "Indeed." Does she have to sound so much like Snape when she says that? It's kind of creepy. "And neither," she adds, watching Minerva's reaction carefully, "Neither would Tom Riddle."

"Just a bit of cream and sugar dear." Janet is given a quick once over, as if Minerva is trying to place the creature as it's one of the more unfamiliar elves. But, she has a nod and polite smile for her regardless. "Sometimes I do enjoy making my own; it's nice to make good use of the hearth." she ventures, something wistful in her voice there. "He's one of your ancestors is he? Perhaps you can tell him to behave himself then." It's not likely it will work if a purse-lipped and wrinkled old woman can't get the shirtless flirt to stop being so shameless, but still. And it is the Snape-like tone that makes her look sidelong at the new faculty member. Just before the flush of anger heats her cheeks at the mention of *that* name. "It's a sad fact that there are some who can never be reached, or reasoned with."

"Behave himself? Not bloody likely!" Siobhan laughs at that though, unapologetic in her mirth. "You have met Jack?" Her second-oldest brother had been in Minerva's House, four years behind the Marauders. "Flirts with everything that moves and a few things that don't. At least he comes by it honestly! Janet's return has Siobhan taking one mug and the elf then moving to hold the tray where McGonagall can reach hers. Siobhan smiles her thanks to the creature and then takes a grateful sip of her tea. The side-long look at the flush of anger aren't missed - conversations with Snape, his mother and the Headmaster tend to mean one learns to pay attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues - but aren't immediately commented upon, either. It's nice to have a few quiet moments to enjoy a nice cup of tea. "But no one is born evil." It's a mildly delivered comment, but there's a heaviness behind it. "It's our choices that define us sometimes, but often it is the choices taken from us by others that define us even more."

"Oh, of course I have. He had the good sense not to try much of his charm on me." Minerva points out, picking up her mug with a grateful nod and taking a judicious sip from it. There is always time to enjoy a decent cup of tea, and she allows the silence to stretch even longer then neecessary to find the right words with which to respond. "Nobody is born evil." she agrees, with grave sincerity. "But I would say that we always have a choice in how we act and react to the decisions and choices others make. That is, in fact, the truest test of character. Can I do the right thing, even when I've been done wrong. Can I keep true to my values even when pressed by others. I will tell you, Professor Noble - it is never easy. We all make mistakes. It's what we do about them that matters."

Siobhan almost chokes on her tea, this time saving herself with only a drop escaping to be wiped away with her fingertips. "I see." That's not the way Jack tells it, but she's not about to wake McGonagall's ire if she doesn't absolutely have to. She takes the time to really, properly listen to what her former professor has to say, letting the silence fall between them once again as she processes the information and decides how best to phrase her response. "Hypothetically, Professor," and isn't Siobhan proud of herself for that word. "If I came to you as a young student who never went home for Christmas or Easter and begged you to let me stay at Hogwarts because I was honestly afraid of returning home for the summer and you sent me back to this place. If, every time I went back to this place I had more and more of my humanity and my decency beaten out of me, nevermind the lack of love and affection that so influenced me at my youngest… If I was shaped into someone cruel and heartless because I didn't know any other way of living… Whose fault would that be? Mine or yours?"

"There are rules about children going home for summer, put in place I imagine so that a Professor is not subjected to that sort of heart-wrenching choice. For if we make exceptions for one, we must make exceptions for any." Minerva begins, taking quite seriously the hypothetical presented to her. Perhaps in part because it reminds her so clearly of the plight of one Mr. Potter. "I pride myself, Siobhan…." and she uses the first name deliberately, making it a more personal conversation. "… I pride myself on protecting evry single student in this school to the best of my ability, and I coddle none of them no matter how much affection I may hold for them. And there are decisions one must make on their own. Two people, faced with that same situation, could well turn out very differently. The friends they have here, and the care we show them, may make all the different in the world. And while someone may not be born evil, different personalities react in different ways to the same set of circumstances. But if we must place blame on someone, then I would place it squarely at the feet of the abuser. No child deserves to live like that and we do the best we can for them. Does that answer your question?"

"Then the system is flawed and those rules need to be changed." Siobhan's voice - as well as her expression - has gone flat. "There is a system in the Muggle world to remove children from unsuitable homes because they understand the importance of having a good foundation - a safe place to call home with people who may not be able to afford everything you want, but will look out for you first when you're still too young to do it yourself." There's a fire building in her voice, her grip on the mug becoming white-knuckled. "I looked it up when - " she cuts herself off. "It's not a perfect system by far - it can't be when there are so many of them - but at least they try. We do nothing." Lifting her mug to take another drink her her tea, Siobhan closes her eyes and takes a deep breath, physically regaining control over herself. When next she speaks, her voice is much calmer, but tinged with sadness. "People like myself are very rare, Minerva." A name for a name, because this part of what she has to say is so very important to her. "Very rarely does someone come into the snake's den because they naturally embody Salazar's ideal of ambition, subtlety and cunning." She takes a deep breath. "Severus would probably kill me for saying this to a lion, but most of the time the children who end up in my House have had their natural cunning, subtlety or ambition amplified by the experiences in their life that forced those changes in order to survive intact. One of the young ones in school now lived on the street before he came here, Minerva. In a box." Again she has to rein herself in, the consequences of her temper-flare yesterday still fresh in her mind. "We have a book that shows us every time a magical child is born in Britain. There's no excuse not to take care of our own."

"Whatever you say to me is in confidence, so you needn't worry about Severus' reaction." Minerva replies, firmly. "I'm reminded of a Gryffindor student who is usually able to stay with a wizard family that treats him far better then his muggle family does." The words are slow in coming, and a sad sort of tiredness begind to pervade her tone. "I don't doubt what you say about the young Slytherin who are sorted, not at all. I'm not certain that the school is the right place for these young people to stay during the Summer, for safety reasons…" she cautions, reaching over to rest her hand on the young woman's arm. "But it does seem to me, that a placement system within the wizarding world for abused children would be a just and moral addition to the Ministry of Magic. Quite likely its own division."

Minerva is given a sharp glance and a long, measuring look. "I wish I wasn't so surprised to find that I believe you." They're quietly spoken words - meant for honesty, not offense. "Thank you." Having the stern witch's word of confidence means a lot for Siobhan's personal peace of mind. "You mean Potter, don't you?" No, she doesn't look at all ashamed for her information. "He dresses like a Muggle and he's always been a scrawny little thing." But there's no malice in her tone regarding the young Gryffindor 'Golden Boy'. Minerva herself walked in on the tail end of Siobhan and Harry fighting off a pack of Ministry goons. "Given that I was cursed by a Death Eater in this very school, I won't argue that point." It's a very dry statement that covers some remaining bitterness. Siobhan can't help feeling a little bit upset that she was the one who paid for the mistake of an Alumni Weekend event she'd spoken out against. The hand on her arm is an unexpected source of comfort and though Sio's eyes are wide when she jerks around to stare at McGonagall, she doesn't even think about pulling away. "A whole division…" Brown eyes track back and forth as Siobhan considers this option. "With the way the Ministry balks about even changing decor, that would be a hard battle to fight." It doesn't mean she won't fight it, just that it might take more time than they have in this war.

"And you've no idea how much it pains me that it happened here, with a school full of faculty. We are supposed to keep you all *safe*." It isn't difficult to sense the frustration and guilt, for just that one moment, that Minerva carries with her for that incident. "Yes, yes I do mean Potter. He is quie lucky to have the Weaseley family take him under their wing." Now, of course, she cannot help a snort of disdain for the Ministry; it certainly wasn't like /her/ time where with Elphinstone as her boss. Of course, it probably was - but best not tell Minnie that, eh? "Well, you don't need to fight it alone you know. I am certain there are more faculty then just the two of us who would think it a good idea. Speak with parents of children from other houses. And some of the students in their last year as well. Perhaps an interim solution will come to mind with a bit of brainstorming." But now it is late, and she finishes her tea with a last careful sip before standing. "I must close up the Library now, but you can lock the door behind you when you leave. And do watch out for Filch. He probably won't remember you're no longer a student."

Considering that one of the attackers was a member of Hogwarts' faculty, Siobhan takes that statement with a grain of salt, even when she moves to lay her hand over Minerva's on her arm. "Thanks, Minerva." It's offered quietly, but earnestly; she really does mean it. As the older witch stands, Siobhan opens her book once again with a soft laugh. "Since he can't take points from teachers and I'd like to see him try and man-handle me out of here, I think it'd be fun to remind him." Siobhan - wicked when it comes to her sense of 'fun'. Still, she nods a farewell with a fond sort of grin playing about her lips. "I'll do a final sweep of my own before I turn in. Good night, Professor." And Sio will turn back to her tea and her book, frustrating though it may be.


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