Guest Starring: Eileen Prince
|Scene Title||Tickling a Sleeping Dragon|
|Synopsis||Siobhan pours her heavy heart and guilty soul out to the portrait she got closest to. In the aftermath, Snape returns home. Reports are made, plans are laid and poor Snape gets chased out of the room by a snake who didn't think before she spoke.|
|Date||October 15, 1995|
|Watch For||Someone new for Siobhan to give heart-attacks to.|
Late Sunday night finds Siobhan back at the place she began the day. Odd how this shabby, shadowed house feels safer right now than either Jack's flat or her father's empty manor. Her return just a few hours earlier saw a young woman on the verge of breaking into pieces. Now, she sits curled up on the couch where she slept, once again in her sleepwear tanktop and shorts. The too-big robe/blanket is once again wrapped around her shoulders and her hands are wrapped around a steaming mug of tea. Her damp hair falls in curls and ringlets down her shoulders and her eyes are red-rimmed and glassy from an earlier bout of tears. The silence while she sips her tea and stares into the fire - bigger and warmer than usual - is not an uncomfortable one, but more one of those that result from the speakers being drained and empty of anything at all to say. The look on her face when she glances up from the flames to Eileen calmly knitting in her portrait is one of open gratitude and something more akin to devotion than simple affection. After what happened tonight, Eileen has proven more a mother to her than ever expected. After the solace she provided Sio tonight, she has been moved from 'pack' to 'family'.
Once again, the urgency of utility eats away at the necessity of rest. Severus stumbles into the house, sending a quick greeting to his mother before fairly plopping into his seat. He blearily looks over at Siobhan, barely noticing details. "You have returned from your errands, then?" Snape flicks a wand to summon himself a stiff drink. He pours slowly, expertise and natural grace the only reason his hands do not wobble. After he's filled his glass to its normal line and taken a long fortifying sip, he returns his gaze to his houseguest, finally noticing the signs of tears. "Do you require …" He's not even sure what to offer. He fishes into the pocket of his robe, and then pulls his hand out empty, realizing he doesn't really even have a hankerchief. "Am I to gather by your presence here that you have not indeed spoken to your … pride?" He subtly jabs at her family, just enough, hoping to draw her attention from whatever it is that has upset her so.
In the painting, Eileen snorts, and turns to face her son. "Severus, she's just had a bad day. I'm sure you can understand how that goes." It's both a slam and an encouragement to good behavior. "You look like you've gone three rounds with a hippogriff yourself, Sevvie." She leans forward, inspecting him in a way that the man emulates from time to time. "Are you well?"
"Nothing I can't handle, Mother. Nothing that doesn't happen every time I talk to him." Severus takes another long draught.
Snape's return is noted and his movements across the room are tracked. Siobhan watches and listens in silence. Eileen's intervention is noted and welcome as it is, Siobhan knows it won't get her out of this one. "I haven't, no." Embarrassment creeps into her tone. She knows she's hiding, but… "I spoke with Alistaire and the Headmaster today." Not together, mind, but she's exhausted in her own way. "Alistaire … walked away." And she let him. She keeps telling herself it's for the best, but it doesn't quite seem to work. Narrowing her eyes at his admission, she stands and lets the robe/blanket fall to the couch, setting her mug on the table and padding into the other room. When she returns, it's with one of her own bottles, still half full. "Here." She hands it off to him, expecting that he knows this is the one out of her personal stores of 'medication' that's safe for him to take more often than the others. She wouldn't be surprised if he's pieced her own weakness together from the potions left last time, but it's an embarrassing weakness, so she refuses to be the one to bring it up.
"One of the more efficacious brews." Severus drinks the potion, nodding his thanks, hooded eyes revealing his sincerity. He opens his mouth to say something about Phoenix, but for once, none of the vitrol comes out. It's a strange sight, perhaps. He closes his mouth again, nodding again, this time more of an acknowledgement of her information. "And the Headmaster?" It may not be what he intended to say, but it may also serve the same purpose. He won't bring her weakness up, not when she's just given him some of her own remedy.
Siobhan silently accepts the silent thanks, nodding once and reaching down to grab the too-big robe and settle it around her shoulders before folding herself back up on the couch. Snape gets a sharp look when he opens his mouth and yet very pointedly says nothing. His restraint, as remarkable as it is, strikes something in Siobhan and she can't hold back a hollow sort of chuckle. Raising her gaze to meet Eileen's, she lets one corner of her mouth twist upwards. "The irony is killing me." Eileen will get it. Snape can stew. Oh, she's sure he'll pry it out of his mum later, but not while she's around. She couldn't bear it. Thankfully, he moves the conversation on to much more stable ground. Taking a deep breath and a long sip of her watery tea, she answers. "Your position within the Order and the school is restored to you if you choose to accept it." She takes another swallow of tea to fight the mild nausea in the pit of her stomach. "I will be teaching Defense." She stares into the dancing flames as she speaks, shifting her hold on the mug to pull up the shoulder of the robe that had slipped off. "We are expected at the Order meeting next week."
"What a loss." Snape parrots her words from the other night, though this time in a dry tone. The few moments of relative quiet, the potion and the booze are doing their jobs. He feels more at home. "Death by irony." He listens to her words, and a frown crosses his face, deepening as she continues. "You have no issue. What did you have to promise that man to get such concessions from him?" He is only partially joking.
In her painting, Eileen's laughter breaks out, drawing Severus' attention to her for the briefest of moments. "Ah, lass, it's the little things," she tosses back, her fingers still moving, clacking the needles together in a comforting rhythm. "There you go, Sevvie." Thank the lady. She gestures toward Siobhan with her hands. If Severus is looking at the portrait, he'll see the clear meaning of her words. If not, he probably gets them anyway.
Eileen's laughter makes a good cover for Siobhan's quiet mirth, chuckling just a little wetly into her tea. "How do you know I didn't promise him my firstborn?" She's teasing, of course, but if she can say something that'll get him to make faces, she'll do it. It's what happens when you're the youngest sister in a whole pack of brothers - gets to become a habit. Eileen gets an odd look. Even after all this time knowing her - on top of the time spent with both of them together - it's still a little weird sometimes to hear someone speak to Snape that way without, you know, dying. "I simply gave him two options. One was to do the right thing." To be fair, the thing she thinks is the right option. "And the other was an option he never would have allowed." See? Nothing to worry about.
"It is difficult to predict what he would allow at times, Miss Noble." Severus' tone is still dry, but he says no more on the subject. "I was intending to, Mother." He bites out, annoyed at her intrusion. He's not five, after all. "You have my gratitude. I had a more — dramatic means of delivery in mind, but perhaps this was for the better." If there's one thing Severus Snape knows how to do, it's to use drama to great effect. "When are we due at the castle? I must accomplish the preparatory work before I am able to step back into those roles." Like brewing scads of headache potion.
Siobhan inclines her head, wholeheartedly willing to let the whole thing drop. It means she's not going to get yelled at! Tonight, anyway. She acknowledges the admission of gratitude without dwelling on it. It's quid pro quo as it seems it always is. He is willing to let drop those things she doesn't wish to dwell on and she is willing to do the same in turn. At least on these matters. "As much as I would have enjoyed that," she chokes out, smothering the nausea that rises with the flash of another anti-climactic scenario from tonight, this one so much more painful. "This way we only have to fight the rest of the Order to hold the ground we've already gained, instead of trying to gain the ground against all of them at once." If a fight is inevitable, tip the odds in your favor; make it as easy on yourself as you possibly can. This is how Siobhan chose to approach this particular battle. Finishing off her tea, she rests her elbow on the arm of the couch and rests the side of her head in that hand, curling onto her hip with a sigh. Q stirs once, but does not wake from her warm napping spot by the fire. "We are due at our earliest convenience. No later than the Order meeting." So, not a lot of time at all, but some.
"And what is your timeframe? You are stepping into a new role. I am merely reprising an old one. It will take me far less time to prepare, I am certain." Severus frowns. "Then you have finished your NEWT?" He doesn't add the colloquial 's' at the end, since 'tests' is already plural. "And received your scores?" He takes another slow sip, considering. "I only need a day or so to make the necessary arrangements." And potions.
The hand Sio's been using to prop up her head is lifted along with its mate to push both sets of fingers back through her hair. Her shoulders lift and fall as she lets out a long, slow breath. It's obvious that she's thinking, her eyes darting back and forth over unseen lists, but she doesn't speak until his last jerks her out of her thoughts. "Oh, yeah I did that this morning." At the crack of dawn, when she couldn't sleep anymore and couldn't sit still. "I thought it'd take longer, but I guess with just me to deal with…" She shrugs and grabs the crumpled piece of parchment from the table and hands it over, damp hair falling right into her face before she can push it back behind her ear. "I'll run it the way we ran Moody's Army last winter." It occurs to her that this happened after he left, so she clarifies a little. "We asked Professor Moody for extra training in battle magic outside our classes." She clears her throat. "The fight at Hogsmeade proved how much we didn't know. Angelina Johnson was his teacher's aide, but he knew the Slytherins wouldn't trust her." It's a true enough statement and there's no reason to hide any of this, so she sees no point in obfuscating. "So she and I ran most of the physical training and helped Moody teach some of the more basic defensive and offensive spells." So it's not completely a new role. Just mostly. "I think Moody was wrong to scare the kids the way he did, since no one that age does their best work when they're terrified." Cough. Ahem. She glances over at her companion and lets a smile twist up the corners of her mouth. "But the system we had worked out for the MA worked well enough, so I might as well start with that."
"If they cannot work under adverse conditions, they will not be able to complete their task in anything less than a very specific, very controlled environment. And if they have respect for the teacher, they will have respect for the ingredients." Severus feels the need to defend his methods. "I am consistent." They know exactly what to expect with the man, unlike Moody, who startled them irregularly. "However, different subjects require different treatment." He lays aside the subject of teaching style to comment on her NEWT. "You made adequate scores, then?"
Elieen perks up at this too. She wants to hear how the young woman did. "I'm sure she did brilliantly, Sev. Tell us, lass. Did you hex their socks off?" The odd phrasing combines the two worlds, and it fits the woman so well. "You're goin' back to teach?" Severus turns to hear the words directed at him, nodding up at the painting, his eyes flashing a quiet relief for the briefest of moments.
Hiding her smile behind one hand, Siobhan merely nods. "I wouldn't dream of arguing." There's a light dryness to her tone that begs to differ, but she means no malice. Instead of answering him outright, she gestures to the crumpled piece of parchment now in his hand, turning instead to look up to Eileen with a more genuine smile. She'll never admit it, but there's a part of her that very much wants to please these two snakes, to be a source of pride. That being the case, it's much easier to look at her 'pseudo-mum' than it is to look at Snape - at least while he has her scores in his possession. "The practical half was …" Much easier than anticipated. "It was weird being able to feel what I was casting, but it helped some, I think." The memory of the shock that passed through her when she could feel magic leaving her hands as she chopped and stirred and strained the assigned brew is still fresh. "I never realized how much of our magic actually goes into the potion we work on." She flushes a little with embarrassment, but it won't come as any big surprise that Sio hadn't ever thought of why things worked the way they did. "But it's kinda hard to miss when you can feel it." She wrinkles her nose and the flush only deepens. "The theory half was miserable." Luckily for her, the weighted average between the theoretical and the practical sometimes tipped in her favor. "I'm just glad it's done with."
Snape looks down at the parchment in his hand. He gazes impassively over the scores, giving nothing away. Habit is strong. He looks up at the portrait and a flash of humor crosses his face. "Adequate."
It's not enough for Eileen. "What are the actual scores, now?" She stands up, knitting dropping to the floor. Her son, being contrary, doesn't say anything, merely lifts the paper, walking over to the portrait to let her read the scores herself."Well done, Siobhan!" Eileen is pleased.
"Quite." Severus' own comment is dry, and a little ironic. Whether the irony is merely for his mother's excitement is unknown. "It appears you will definitely have the required scores to serve as Defense Professor." He nods again, moving back to his seat, robes swishing.
Siobhan misses the flash of humor on his face, but she must catch something in the tone of his response to Eileen, because her flush only deepens - this time accented by a bright smile. "Thanks," she nods to the portrait, but the gratitude is extended to both. Q, woken by the motion of Snape moving towards the fireplace and his mother's portrait, lifts her head at the sound of her Mistress' voice and beats her wings to lift from the ground and - smack head-first into the side of the table. Sio winces in sympathy for her little seraph, but it doesn't look like this is at all an uncommon occurance. "On your belly, Q-love." Her voice when she speaks to her familiar is soft and gentle without descending into the obnoxiously syrupy whine that girls so often get with small children and pets. It's a soothing and comforting sound, one which the young seraph slithers eagerly towards. "With professors like Quirrell, Lockhart and this MacGregor bloke, I'm not really all that worried about fitting into anyone's shoes." She probably should be more concerned than this, but with Q lifted up to curl around her lap in a reassuring warmth and a yawn stretching her features, it's obvious that she isn't. Feeling warm and comfortable and safe is an intoxicating combination. "I'll make a trip to Diagon and Hogsmeade tomorrow to get supplies and then move into the office properly." 'And out of your hair' is left unspoken. She reaches down one hand to stroke light fingertips down the top of the seraph's spine. "If you'll make a list for me to take, I'll grab what you need, too." She assumes he'll be busy finishing 'assignments' and making progress reports.
Snape's only reply to her comments is a terse, "That will be acceptable." From the taciturn man, that's plenty. He finishes off his drink, flicking his wand to banish the glass gently back to the counter of the sideboard in a practiced move. "I will need some time to reorganize things, but perhaps I may do that as I go…" His smirk is positively evil. "I am certain that there will be a few extra detentions required." Getting the little miscreants back in line will take some doing, after all.
Coming from him? That is indeed plenty. Siobhan inclines her head, letting the sound of Q's purr sooth her still-frayed nerves. She's soaking up the comfort that she can tonight for the battle looming over tomorrow's horizon. Surely her two companions can understand that need. That evil smirk, however, prompts a truly wicked grin in return. "I'm not so sure about that, Severus." She lets the bait dangle in the air between them for a moment, not bothering to hide the amusement in her voice. "After Professor Moldavia poisoned them and scared the life out of them by picking a fight with Sirius while they were Polyjuiced as each other…" She turns to look him straight in the eye, the tip of her tongue poking out the side of her grin. "You might find that they'll be glad to see you." Obviously no one ever translated the school motto for Siobhan; she tickles sleeping dragons as a hobby.
"She poisoned them?" Severus' words are half annoyed, but the other half of the tone is this quiet awe. He never got to poison them. "And she let Black in my classroom." What. The. Hell. "I may need to have a few words with her." Or sit and stew about the fact that his least favorite person in existence was invited into his domain. One or the other. "That will be a welcome change." Dry as dust, he is.
"The antidotes were right there and all, but yeah. The Gryffindors threw a fit and when Johnson stormed out of the class, Professor Moldavia turned her into a hippo." That memory still makes Sio smile. A few words? "Now that I want to watch." She makes no bones about it. "She killed somebody in the Hogsmeade fight." Or two, but Sio wasn't exactly paying attention to her at the time and rumors tend to fudge the truth. "So it'd be a good show." She's half-teasing and half-serious, but her yawn wedges in between both and prompts her to wriggle down so that she's curled on her side, engulfed in the robe and with Q draped over her hip. She pillows her head on her bent arm and lets her eyes slide closed. Not asleep yet, by any stretch, but definitely more comfortable.
"Well, perhaps there may be some hope for her yet," Snape murmurs, hearing of the transformation of a Gryffindor. "She must have made her quite angry." Tiana normally keeps fairly tight control on her anger. "If wishes were horses, Miss Noble." Ain't much chance of him letting her be around for that discussion. He noticed Tiana's lethal casting; how could he not when he was keeping track of numbers and losses on both sides? "If you are in need of sleep, I shall go elsewhere."
Siobhan yawns, this time not bothering to try and cover it. It's rude, but she's not really awake enough to care overly much. "She did, but I don't really remember why." Rubbing her cheek against her arm as she shifts her weight to a more comfortable position, Sio pulls the robe up higher over her shoulder. "But I don't want to ride, I just want to watch." The awkwardness of that statement goes completely over her head. "Naw," she grumbles softly, already dozing off. "Won't bother me." In fact, it's easier to fall asleep with the warmth and soft light of the fire and the soft sounds of someone else there in the room. She's too proud to say so, but she's afraid of what nastiness her own mind might supply in dreams.
Eileen laughs unashamedly, her status as both 'mother' and 'dead' allowing her to do so without any repercussions. Severus, on the other hand, ducks his head, covering it by examining a spot on the floor for a long moment. He stands, turning to walk to his bedroom. "Neither will occur." He walks toward his rooms, intent on being away from here, at least for the moment. "Pleasant dreams, Miss Noble."
Cracking an eye open to grin conspiratorily at Eileen, Sio lifts her upper body and reaches for her wand. Not awake enough to truly understand what she did wrong - or right, depending on your point of view - she is awake enough to wait until he is completely gone. Then, with a warning look to Eileen, she casts a mumbled Silencing charm over the couch and lays back down to sleep. It may be a useless precaution, but tonight will not be the sleep of the dead that yesterday's was and her nightmares have acquired more fuel since she last truly dreamed. Best not to be a bad guest and wake anyone - least of all her host.
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