|Scene Title||Vegetables; Decorative and Otherwise|
|Synopsis||Siobhan goes for a butterbeer in the Hog's Head to let people see her 'depression' over Jack. Alistaire arrives, seems to miss her Slytherin attempts, and is dragged outside for a freer chat.|
|Location||Hog's Head and Hogsmeade streets|
|Date||December 10, 1994|
|Watch For||Vegetables, flirting and awkwardness|
|Logger||The BAD WOLF herself|
Two weeks after that fateful tournament's first task, Siobhan can be found wandering along the streets of Hogsmeade. Any astute observers would note that she tended to stay near her brother's dark and locked shop, as if waiting for something that never came. Whatever the reason, her expression as she walks along the back paths and alleys matches her mood well; dark. She pauses outside the Broomsticks, but decides against it; no need to add insult to injury. Literally. So it is that she pushes through the snowy pathways and shoulders open the heavy door to the Hog's Head pub. The hood of her cloak is still pulled up over her head, but the dark magenta color is a dead giveaway if you know what you're looking for. "Bottle of butterbeer please, Abe." Even her voice is low, making her sound just a little older as she settles at the bar; the picture of Depressed. Bit over the top actually…even for her.
Once more smelling vaguely of smoke, not tobacco, but more like wood fires and weariness, Alistaire Phoenix comes into the pub, looking for someone in particular, and finds her at the bar. "There you are," he says, not quite exclaims it in worry, but the worry is there in his eyes, both already when he showed up, and intensifying as he catches the whiff of Eau de Depression. "What's wrong?" he asks simply and gently. Absently, he reaches for the hem of his coat and squeezes off the smouldering hem, heedless of how hot it might be.
Hearing that familiar voice, Siobhan turns to face Alistaire as he comes up alongside her. The smile that splits her face is bright, open and affectionate, but she quickly tones it down before anyone but him can see, tossing a wink his way then turning to accept her bottle from the barman. "Jack's pulled a runner," she informs her… - Merlin's balls, she should have this figured out by now - her Alistaire. "Shop's closed up, dark and locked tight. Wards won't even let me in anymore." Whether this is true or not remains to be seen, but her voice is oddly loud for someone who sounds like she's trying to be discreet.
Alistaire nods. "I know," he replies darkly, not bothering to keep his voice down, since this is the Hog's Head and trying to keep a secret here is the best way to get it out. "I've been assigned to the detail that's supposed to bring them in." He doesn't try to hide it, since it will get out soon enough. Which either means that hag is as stupid as she thinks we all are, or she knows which side I'm on and she's wanting to keep an eye on me…"
"I know…" And there's a genuine weariness in Siobhan's voice at that admission - subdued, rather than dramatic. Brown eyes meet brown and there's a moment of genuine worry before the young Slytherin turns to take a swig from her bottle. There's a time of silence from her as she lets his voice flow over her; even when communicating Bad News, it has a way of calming her she never would have believed had she not experienced it. Laying her hand over his gently, she gives him a rather significant Look. "Last I heard, he was takin' 'em north to one of his 'hidey-holes'." Jack's term, not hers. "Russia, I think, or Finland." Another swig of the butterbeer then, carefully hiding the close eye she keeps on Alistaire; just to see if he got it or not.
Alistaire squeezes Siobhan's hand gently. "I haven't decided what to really do about this… Each choice leaves multiple dangers to face. Not afraid to," he adds with a shake of his head. "And I can do some good within the Ministry, but if anything, I need to make sure that they don't find him. Anything else is a gross miscarriage of justice."
It's only now that Siobhan truly appreciates the drive to facepalm. Tonks, she owes you an apology! Reminding herself that she really does love this ridiculously obtuse Gryffindor - and thus staving off the urge to both hit herself in the face and roll her eyes - she finishes off her bottle, drops coins on the bar and stands. "Come for a walk with me, Ali?" She flashes him a flirtaciously playful smile. "It's so stuffy in here." It's not until just then that her earlier thought process catches up with her. To Sio's credit, she only pales a little; startled.
Alistaire arches a brow as he catches that faint paling and he frowns, but he nods, tossing coins on the bar for the barman, then crooking his arm so she can take it if she wants, other hand in his pocket, clearly holding his sapphire-topped wand at the ready. "I don't have all the answers, as much as I like to act like I do," he begins thoughtfully, worriedly. "And how did the thing with the task go? I wanted to come even without an invitation, but they had me running my butt all over Britain…"
Slipping her arm through his, Siobhan gladly accompanies him from the bar - and prying ears and eyes. His admission, however, has her startled, reaching her other hand to press gently against his cheeks and forehead. "You, admit to not knowin' somethin'? Are you ill?" She's teasing; it's obvious by her playful tone and smile. Mention of the task, however, has her frowning. "Didn't Jack send word? I made him promise, cause I didn't much want you to tear apart Hogsmeade when I couldn't make it down on Sunday…" Oops, that was more than she'd meant to admit. Still, they're outside now and as cold as it is, at least they can speak freely.
"I wasn't here anyway," Alistaire apologizes with a sigh. "And I haven't had time to owl you and let you know… since you didn't pelt me with owls yourself or a howler, I didn't think there was any trouble, and I was just so ruddy busy running all over." If he had a hand free, he'd run it through his hair, but he can't, or he'd have to let go of her or unhand his wand, neither of which prospect appeals to him in the slightest right now. Even though they're away from prying eyes, he's still keeping a sharp shifty out for danger.
Siobhan shrugs. "I kinda expected you to come up to the Hospital Wing, but I also sorta figured Jack was smart enough to play things down in his message, like he did with Mum." Just to save migraines all around. "Honestly, with everythin' else that's been goin' on, I've not had the time to owl you. Meant to, but by the time I'd get time, I'd be passed out." She steps closer to him, pressing her upper arm against him to leech some of his warmth - or else just to be closer. "It's been…a crazy time all around."
"Hospital wing?!?" Alistaire blurts out loud, holding her still and giving her an intense examination. "What happened? And don't worry about sparing my feelings…" He knew the tournament was dangerous and that she could have been hurt, but for her to have been hurt and him blissfully unaware of it? That is just not cricket.
Heaving a sigh - but knowing that to keep this from him would have been worse - Siobhan stills, allowing him to examine her without complaint. "Three broken ribs, cracked scapula, torn lat-lat-back muscles, a dislocated shoulder and a mild concussion." Whew, all in one breath too! To be fair, she's running through the list by rote, sounding bored; as if she's had to repeat it several times. "Nothing Madame Pomfrey couldn't fix." She doesn't mention the ache in her left side when she first wakes up, or the slight loss of mobility in her shoulder; those are terribly minor details and not anything to worry him with. "But there is good news…"
Alistaire also knows Madam Pomfrey could fix it, easily, but that's not the point! However, he's clever enough to take the hint from her bored tone and tries to curtain his obvious freak-out, letting her choose the direction of the conversation next, although his gaze shifts away from her to keep track of the stuff going on around them, mindful of any potential listeners even if he doesn't /appear/ to be so. "What's the good news?"
Watching Alistaire settle himself and check their surroundings, Siobhan tugs him off in the direction of that deserted path to the Shack; fewer people there. "Not a single person in my House volunteered to be on my support team…" She pauses then to let that sink in, unable to resist that slow, secret smile only he gets to see. "And I still won." Not by much - and it's made her rather a bit more unpopular - but it's still a win.
Alistaire's expression is quite glorius. Comical, even. "You did?!?" he asks breathlessly, his eyes lighting up, and he begins the first throes of grabbing her and whirling her around, then remembers her injuries and checks himself, then remembers Madam Pomfrey dealt with hit and then continues the wheeeee! "That's great! Smashing! Brilliant! Fantastic! I knew you could do it! And by yourself too!"
The start-stop-start motion confuses Siobhan at first, but when she's scooped up and swung around, she holds on tightly and laughs into his neck; refusing to move even when she's back on both feet. "It was really close and there are a couple people a bit ruffled about it, but Snape smiled." And complimented her, but she doesn't figure he'd believe both miracles at once. "He's even agreed to teach me Occlumency!" Which, for someone as paranoid about her mind as Sio is, is a real blessing.
Most Gryffindors would die before admitting to happiness that someone they care about is getting extra private lessons with Severus Snape, and Alistaire is nearly in that majority, but for this thing, and knowing her, Alistaire has to overcome his natural House-induced dislike of Slytherins, plus his own personal dislike of the man, to be happy. Or pleased. "I wish I could be the one to teach you myself," he allows grudgingly. "But if it's one thing that slim… er, that man can teach… it'd be something like that."
Absurdly pleased with Alistaire for that change of wording - he hasn't exactly made a secret of his dislike for her favorite professor - Siobhan presses a chaste kiss to the side of his neck and then draws away. She stays close, soaking up this closeness like a sponge. "It's been good for me, Ali. It's somethin' to focus on practicin' when I start to get crazy an' it'll be good not to be afraid of bein'…" She trails off and shakes her head. "An' besides. I'm sure there'll be plenty of things you'll get to teach me. Don't worry." 5 4 3 2 1…"Oh shite…" She blushes and groans, ducking her head to hide that blush. "That did not come out the way it sounded in my head." There's no hiding the laughter in her voice and shaking her narrow shoulders; an honest mistake then. "Sorry, Ali. I blame stress."
"What?" Alistaire asks blankly as she goes red around the ears and face. His expression is akin to rampant bafflement, to be sure. He's not sure for the longest what in heaven's name she's on about but then it hits him like a ton of bricks, and then /he/ goes red. "Oh! OH, um, er…. yeah. Uh." And then, he quickly blurts out, "Not for some time…"
Blushing and stammering and awkward; oh my! Nodding along with his final statement, Siobhan mutters something along the lines of an affirmative agreement and then fishes around blindly for a New Topic. Thankfully, she recalls the scrap of parchment in her pocket and reaches into her denims to dig it out. "Oh! I got my clue for the next Task…Aha! Here it is." Handing the small card over, she takes a further step back; glad for the distraction. It reads:
Come seek us where our voices sound,
We cannot sing above the ground,
And while you're searching, ponder this;
We've taken what you'll sorely miss,
An hour long you'll have to look,
And recover what we took,
But past an hour - the prospect's black,
Too late, it's gone, it won't come back.
Alistaire remains a bit flustered for a little bit, until the clue is proffered, and then, he squints at it before releasing the wand in his pocket, reaching into his lapel pocket, and pulls out a pair of relatively nerdy glasses and looks again. "Hmm. Well, underground or underwater, that's pretty plain," he begins, rubbing his chin. "And they're gonna nick something you'll be pretty upset to lose. Or some/one/," he adds darkly. "And a timelimit, with a threat for dawdling."
"Yeah," Siobhan agrees, frowning. "It's the someone I'm worried about. Can't think of many 'things' I'd be so motivated to go after…" Looking back to his face for the first time, she blinks at the appearance of those glasses before blushing again and returning her gaze to the night sky; under the guise of Deep Thought. Focus! "That's pretty much about what I'd figured, yeah. What I don't know are any creatures who can't speak in open air. Dirt- or water-talkin's a bit beyond me."
"I dunno about dirt-talking," Alistaire reasons it out, "but they don't teach Mermish for no reason. And there are merpeople at the bottom of the lake at Hogwarts, after all," he adds rather casually. "That's probably it, then… but… aren't you supposed to be figuring this out on your own?" he asks in that inordinate air of superiority that deserves being thwapped on the arm.
And the day Siobhan passes up the duty to thwap Alistaire when he's being unbearably superior is the day she's on her deathbed. Thwap! His poor arm. "Watch it, you," she growls half-playfully. "I didn't ask for your help, I just showed it to you and you know," she cuts him off before he can argue that point, "that you would have had a fit and a half if I didn't show you." With her arms folded across her chest and her face set in that 'I dare you to argue with me' expression, Sio's entire being screams 'So there'. "An' besides, you said you'd help. I figure since I'd be askin' my support team, only I don't have one." She looks him up and down, biting the inside of her mouth to keep from smiling. "So I suppose you'll have to do."
Alistaire mock-flinches from the thwap, because he knows he deserved it, and he grins cheekily, giving her a knowing look. However, her spiel about a support team garners a nod. "If your fellow students have abandoned you, you should know that I haven't, and won't." His words on that score are terse and firm. "I'm just not sure if it's /allowed/." Then he quickly smirks, "As if I really care about /that/. So, underwater… you'll need something to let you breathe underwater for at least an hour…"
Rolling her eyes, Siobhan shakes her head; her expression one of fond exasperation. It's one she wears often around Alistaire. "I know you won't," she assures him, her faith evident in her fierce tone. "An' rules are bendable, s'long as no one who cares too much finds out. Are you sure it's underwater?" She's still stuck on the dirt thing… "Don't suppose there's anything that'll just suspend my need to breathe altogether?" That'd work either way, then.
"Well, there's loads of things," Alistaire says immediately. "But not without killing you or turning your wonderfully brilliant mind into a vegetable, a very decorative vegetable, but a vegetable nonetheless." Once more he rubs his chin, thinking. "But there's plants that could keep you alive /and/ breathing for that long. SCUBA gear if you wanted to go the Muggle route, although I'm not sure if they'd work at Hogwarts. There are a few charms… personal transfiguration, always risky, or the Bubble-Head Charm."
Muttering something about finding Ali somewhere to stick his 'decorative vegetables', Siobhan shakes her head. "Isn't SCUBA gear really, really heavy though?" She's some rudimentary knowledge of the Muggle world, after all. "Wouldn't want that… An' I'm good with transfigurations, but plants'd be easiest I think." Tired and leg-weary, she slaps her wrist against her thigh, grips her tiny wand and banishes the snow in a medium-sized circle around their feet before sitting down; both hands scrubbing at her face. "Anythin' that grows here?"
"Not around here," Alistaire answers after a moment's thought. "But there's something in the Mediterranean that might do… gillyweed. Could pop on over and get some and bring it back. Or you could ask Snape for some, it's used in NEWT-level Potions." And then he grins at the use of her wand, eyes twinkling.
Staring up at his rather barmy grin, Siobhan decides that it's just not fair for him to be so amused without sharing, and says so. "What's got you so…" She waves her hands in an obscure, broad gesture. "I swear, when you look at me like that you're channeling Dumbledore." And doesn't that thought just make her shudder. "It has to be; I've never seen anyone else's eyes twinkle." It's Just Not Right! The gillyweed won't be a problem. Snape's stores are painfully easy to get into. "What?"
"Channelling Dumbledore?" Alistaire queries with a bit of a frown. "No, I'd never be as good as him, even if I lived as long as he has," he says with a shrug, then an owl descends from the skies, seeking him, landing on his shoulder with a thud and holding out a leg. "Hang on…" He retrieves the message and scans it. And then says something in a forceful exhalation, obviously a swearword, but not in English. "I'm sorry, Sio, I've got to run. They think they have a lead on Sirius and Jack and the others, and I have to get there first." He hurriedly kisses the young lady on the lips and then starts to get his bearings to Apparate away.
"That's not true, Ali." Siobhan's voice is quiet, but fierce; her attention suddently riveted on this fantastically complicated man. "You're every bit as good as he is. Good and kind." She looks about to add to that, but the owl's arrival cuts her off. Knowing full well that news for Alistaire inevitably meant his departure, she stands while he reads, jaw clenching as he explains. Every inch of her screams for him to follow him - wherever he goes - and help protect her family. His kiss in indubitably distracting, however, and by the time she's recovered enough to argue her case, he's gone. For a moment, she blinks at the empty air where Ali'd been standing, surprised at the suddenness of his disappearance. Then comes the full six minutes of cursing, mutterings and grumblings and general threats against his person for leaving her like that. By the time she's kicked snow back over the space she'd cleared, enough of that fury has morphed into worry for her to look at That Spot again - her lower lip between her teeth. "Be careful Ali…" Then, seeming to realize the idiocy of sending wishful admonishments to the empty air, she spins on her heel and - cloak billowing behind her - storms back to the castle.