|Scene Title||Very Good Advice|
|Synopsis||Jack explains things to his father. Sir Michael returns the favor.|
|Location||Noble Lands, Balmorrow|
|Date||Mar 04, 1996|
|Watch For||Wise words from Da, light dawning for both of them.|
Monday morning sees a small party of commotion out front of the house. One stablehand holds the reins for two beautiful thoroughbreds - one black and one flea-bitten grey - while two men dressed for riding converse with three more in robes. The elder of the two dressed to ride is quiet and thoughtful while he tugs on his gloves. The younger is much more energetic. "No, it simply isn't possible. Go back and talk with Malfoy's office. There's got to be a miscount somewhere. We need those numbers before the confirmation vote hits the floor."
Monday morning also sees a young man returning home. He gazes at his father and brother getting ready to ride and sighs, running a hand through his hair. He'd forgotten the timing and had intended to speak to his father in his office. He snorts at himself, then strides forward, nodding at the other men. "Greetings." He smiles a polite smile, then turns to his father and brother. "Liam, Da. I hope I'm not interrupting anything."
It's not until his second son's appearance that the elder Noble speaks, cutting off Liam's instructions with a quiet firmness that draws the attention of the whole group. "If you'll excuse us, gentlemen, I need a word with my son before I leave. Any further questions can wait until this afternoon." All three men in robes nod and Apparate away without argument. "Jack," Sir Michael greets his son with a smile and a hug, patting him once on the back before pulling away to look at him. "Not at all, Liam and I were just about to ride the grounds." It's that time, again. "Come, join us. Rogers can saddle your sister's mare easily enough."
Jack leans into the hug, patting his father on the back in return. He steps back and nods. "Aye, sir." He walks toward the stables and gives the instructions to Rogers. Then, he returns to his father's side to wait for the horse to be saddled. It really doesn't take the man that long to saddle Gaia and Jack takes the lead from the groom with a nod of thanks. "Da," He pets the mare's neck gently, getting her used to his presence. "I need to talk to you about a few things." He's willing to do that on the trip, but he's not sure about sibling ears.
Catching perhaps the subtle glance from one brother to the other as the request is made, Sir Michael sighs. Jack gets a long look and a quiet rebuke. "This dissension needs to end. There are enough outside forces trying to rip my family apart without us tearing at ourselves, too." Propelling himself up into the saddle with an ease that belies his age, Sir Michael is silent a moment, thinking. Finally, it seems he is resigned. "Liam, lad, ride west and circle up to the north around the foothills. We'll meet you in the village." This conflict between his children weighs heavy, but he is not a man of brute force, Sir Michael.
Liam, on the other hand, is not so quiet or thoughtful. Torn between an intense desire to know whatever it is his brother doesn't want him to hear and the chance to ride the grounds - at least part of them - on his own, he mounts his own horse but remains nearby until Rogers leads Siobhan's Lipizzaner mare toward their little party. "Fine." And scowling at nothing in particular, Liam wheels his horse and set off to the west at a swift canter.
"I'm sorry, Da." Jack is contrite as he mounts the mare and spurs her toward his father. "If this was just about me…" He looks wistfully to where his brother's ridden off. A very small expression of paternal disappointment works very well on Jack. "I'll try." It's a concession he hadn't made thus far, but he does mean it. He sighs and waits for his father to begin riding the route toward the places they'll visit.
That is enough for Sir Michael Noble. Perhaps understanding a little bit of the give-and-take game that's as integral as breathing to his youngest, he lets the matter of sibling contention rest with that. The trail they take is the eastern branch. It winds through the forest and around the far side of the lake and will take them past several small farms and cottages before the northern village even comes into view. Sir Michael, more patient than his eldest son, is content to make the trip at a comfortable walk, his black mare settling into the familiar pattern without much guidance from him. Only after they've gone a while in silence does he speak, disturbing the peace of the forest only a little with his soft-spoken inquiry. "You're awfully quiet for a man with things to discuss. What's wrong, son?"
Releasing a long breath, Jack looks over at his dad, face clouded with worry. "I found something out recently that complicates matters a lot." He doesn't specify exactly what at first, trying to consider how to tell his father all the information he knows that Da needs to. "I don't know how much you heard about Siobhan's recent …" Plunging forth like a Gryffindor, Jack just spells the first part of it all out. "Look, Da, I found out that the same bastard who had put Rosie in the painting had gotten ahold of her when she went to Knockturn to get the blood for those crazy flowers of hers." Her whole family knows about Siobhan's herbology project and is proud of it. "He had her for quite a while. From what I understand, it was not pretty. Once again, Snape went in, healed her up, and was instrumental in setting up her release. She's doing … better now…" There is more, much more, but that's the first part. He's gotten through that much. "Snape was the one who knew she was gone and the one who insisted — despite his boss' wishes to the contrary — that we find a way out. You know Shepard? Her guy Gardener and her scientist… Bren … something … were also very helpful. Jake too, of course." With all his money and contacts, you'd better believe he was doing the best he could to get her home.
Slow thunder crosses Michael's face. "She had informed me, yes." There's something tight in his jaw and voice at that. "Though her explanation was downplayed considerably from yours." That tone means his youngest daughter is in for a lovely 'talk' about honesty versus protecting people from the truth - most specifically, when it does and doesn't apply. "Although since you're being incredibly un-subtle about Professor Snape's role in all of this, I assume you have more on your agenda." Reining in his mare, Michael holds up one hand and turns to look his son in the eye, calm and steady as he ever has been. "I may be able to put your mind at ease. You need not worry about the reception of your sister's friend in my house. It's good to see her making close friendships outside her brothers, for a change. Siobhan told me he's been extremely helpful in assisting Jake after his treatments and that he will be coming with us when we travel to ensure personalized care so that his health does not prevent the enjoyment of the whole affair." There's a wry twist of a grin at the mention of Shepard. "Yes, I gave Jane the order to close his casefile over Christmas. There was no outstanding evidence and any man who saves the life of one of my children deserves a little peace. She's … not thrilled about it. I'm glad to hear she was willing to put that aside when it truly counted." Offering a warmer smile to his son, Sir Michael nudges his mare into an easy trot. "Does that settle the weight on your mind, Jack? Siobhan will have no cause to fear for her guest's reception." He knows how close the two of them are, and figures that Jack is simply looking to resolve potential discomforts before they arise. "You are coming with us to Italy this year, yes?"
"It settles most of it, yeah, Da." Jack listens to his father's comments, and then runs a hand over his face, letting Gaia follow Da's horse. She follows fairly well, and he doesn't have to do a whole lot other than make a few corrections or nudge her forward when the mare gets interested in something else. They're walking them slow enough that it doesn't matter, but he does want to stay within close conversation range. When they stop, he pulls gently on the reins, drawing himself up toward the other man. "The thing is, Da, you're a really smart man. And I'm not just saying that because I'm in trouble for being a prat to Liam. I want to tell you what I feel you need to know, but if Rosie's saying …" He's completely torn. He thinks his father should know that there is more to the situation than his sister has said. Forewarned is forearmed. He decides to take a fairly sneaky tack, though it may only appear sneaky to a Gryffindor. Da will probably see right through it. "Doctor Bren…" He pauses, trying to remember the woman's name, then it comes to him. "Doctor Brennan is a published author. She's written several books. Have you read any of them?" Jack, who's face couldn't hide a secret if his life depended on it, looks a lot like he did the time he tried to get Liam in trouble just before Christmas.
Sir Michael Noble adores his children. He values each as an individual according to their own strengths and weaknesses. It is only that love which allows him to keep a straight face when his very leonine son attempts to take a very serpentine route. And fails. Hard. Part of his nature is merciful and urges him to stop Jack before he hurts himself. The other part knows that learning comes best through first-hand experience. It's the other part that wins. "I believe I have heard the name. It came up in research during an earlier part of my life, but she was not the expert I was seeking." Which is 'Da speak' for No. "I haven't had the pleasure of reading her books yet, no. Have you?" Polite, calm, casual. The lead is all Jack's now. Let's see where he goes with it.
"Ah, yeah. I learned a lot from her about different kinds of ambient magics." Jack's gambit: tried and failed. Failed hard. He sighs. "One of the things she talked about was bonds that form between two magical people." He blows a breath out of his mouth and looks out down the road. "I don't want you to be surprised in the middle of our lovely family vacation when you get the sense that things aren't exactly the way they appear to be." Jack falls silent again, still debating whether he should tell his father the complete truth, or just let him have enough warning that when he does figure it out — and he will — he can control how it comes out to the rest of the family. Either option would work, but being so leonine, one would ease his conscience one way, and one the other. Rock, meet hard place.
There's a picture that's just beginning to be slowly painted in Michael's mind. Still only at the 'brushstrokes that make up the skyline' stage, but it's progressing. "Magical ties can be very dangerous things, Jack." His amiable expression dips into a concerned frown. "The Unbreakable Vow is a magical bond. They are permanent fixtures and should never be entered into lightly." It's why the incidence of wizarding divorce is so … almost non-existent. "As Lord of this land my ties to it will never be broken. As long as I live, my seat of power is here. I could not have become a healer or a wandmaker, even if it was the earnest desire of my heart, because from the moment my father died, this was my responsibility. And the health, the safety and well-being of my family are all tied into my care of this place." He knows some of the younger 'set' feel that these things are old superstition only, but Sir Michael Noble believes strongly in their presence. "I did not realize fully those kinds of implications at sixteen or even twenty." He never asks Jack outright, but there is enough comfortable silence for his son to continue, if he should so desire.
"I work with bonds and magics and links like that every day. It's part of what I do." So, yes, Jack gets the gravity of these things. He gets why this is so important. "It took me a while to understand the importance of some of them. Rosie, though, I think she gets it straightaway. Even as young as she is." He's noticed that his little sister is good at appraising a situation and seeing all the angles of it. "In some of the parts of the world I've been, Da, Rosie would be a princess. Even more than she is here. She'd be a queen, an advisor to the whole tribe. And a very male-oriented tribe. Because she's so powerful and so …. skilled." He remembers the incident Brennan mentioned to him, where he accidentally offended one of these wise women. "Every one of these women is connected to a very strong, very … virile wizard." In other words, currently, not Jake Morgan. Not at the twilight of his life. "The bond between the wizard and the witch is so strong that those who know them can … almost taste it."
The expression on Sir Michael's face is one which has been described by all his children as Da's Thinking Face. He's not just quiet; he is silent. It's a good thing his mare knows this path as well as she does, because he doesn't even see the road ahead of him - too lost in his own head for the moment. Finally, he sighs. "I knew about Jake." She'd asked for his help in researching the rites without magical binding. "Given his circumstances, I thought she was doing a very wise and … a very kind thing." This may seem like a non-sequitor, but this is Da. He's got to talk around to things in his own time. "She's not even twenty, Jack." And he looks so old when he says it, weighed down and tired. "Won't even be nineteen until June." And if what his son is so desperately hinting at is true, she's managed to bind herself to someone Liam's age. "Are you sure?" He looks over to his son for some kind of reassurance. This is his baby girl they're discussing, here. His princess. "She was the same as she's always been at Christmas." And a father likes to think he'd notice a change that big.
When Da puts on his 'thinking face', Jack sighs. Message has been clearly received for good or for ill. "I am sure. Doctor Brennan mentioned Snape's bonded, and when I looked closely to see if I could recognize the person — know who was off the market," Da knows his son well enough to know his penchants, but also his pride and code. "Imagine my utter surprise when I felt the sunshine. She wasn't in the room." Or in the same section of Britain. "It's a good thing, Da. They're really good for each other." He, who idolized the men who hated Snape is now coming 'round to the truth of the matter: Severus Snape isn't what he appears to be. Much at all. "It happened around the time of Jake's offer. Apparently, Jake knows. I don't know how he's dealing with it, but he's fully aware and doesn't seem to be …" He looks over at his father and gives a small, wry smile. "He's resigned to it, I think. He realizes he won't be around long and needs someone to protect the kid. So, if someone else can take care of Rosie, then, that's a good thing. It's gonna make things really difficult, but …" Jack fiddles with the reins in his hands. "I don't know what I'd do if I had proposed to…" Oops. Not how he wanted that bit of information to get out. But that needs to be discussed as well.
"Good thing, hmm?" Da Noble does not sound convinced, but he doesn't argue either. There are some things that take time. There are some things a father has to see for himself. This? This is both. And Michael is prepared to have a nice long think about it all on his way from here to the first farm. He's almost looking forward to the quiet moments to mull at it from all different angles. That all comes to a screeching halt at his son's next slip of the tongue. "If you had proposed to whom, Icarus John?" The very slow and deliberate way he asks the question is red flag enough even for a Gryffindor. Right?
"I've met a woman, Da." And hasn't Da heard those words before? Jack knows it too. "We haven't been together long, but it's different. Very different. She's …" He looks out across the land again, struggling to find words to explain the unexplainable. "I didn't even look at anyone else at the club the other night. I didn't flirt that hard with Roz the other day. Even when I was alone. I'm going to meet her for lunch today." After spending most of the weekend with her. He winces a little. "Did Rosie tell you about the lady who got out with all the other people in that place?" The wince is because he knows what his father will think of a lady who speaks the way Maura does with the amulet on. However, he does want him to know, especially if Maura is 'the one.'
I've met a woman, Da. If Michael Noble had a Sickle for every time he'd heard those words, he'd be able to build himself a copy of Torchwood Manor just from the interest. "Jack," he begins, trailing off on a sigh and using one hand to massage tense muscles on the back of his neck while he thinks. "Yes, Siobhan told me about the girl who lost her memory." He's answering the question and also giving himself more space to think. "My son, that sounds to me like you're growing up, shifting to a new phase in your life. You're a wizard in your prime, m'boy. It's only natural that you would turn to thoughts of a wife and family." There's bare emotion in Jack's father's eyes for the first time in a long time. Love for his son and real concern. "Don't … don't be rash with this, Jack." It's quietly spoken. "This is one decision you really can't take back."
"Yessir." It isn't often that Da gives intentional, outright pieces of advice, for all that he's a lion himself. So, when Sir Michael Noble speaks, Icarus John listens. "I wasn't planning anything binding yet. I was just kind of empathizing with Jake." He sighs. "I would like to bring her to Italy with us, though. She's a good friend to Rosie as well as being my girl." He reaches down to pet the horse, gentling her as they finish their conversation. "I want to get to know her much better." That's a good thing. "She, uh… was supposed to be given a protective amulet to deal with the changes the guy did to her magic. However, there was a mix-up, and she was given that old Horus amulet from Ministry lockup. There's a presence in it that's …." He chuckles self-deprecatingly. "Remember when I was starting to talk, and one of the other wizard's kids taught me how to say all those bad words?" Jack would just say them randomly because it made people gape or laugh. "Like that."
Sir Michael waves a hand dismissively. "The invitation was already extended. Siobhan asked and I agreed." His worry for his youngest isn't hard to see. "I thought that if her friend were to come, it would encourage her to actually go this year." He chuckles ruefully, shaking his head. "It would seem that I struck upon the wrong motivation." He listens to the rest of the story with an ever-deepening crease in his brow. "How unfortunate." He allows the next few hoofbeats to fall in silence. "Is there no counter-curse for the spirit?" Because what's cute and mildly shocking from a small two year old boy is still shocking and not quite as cute coming from a full-grown adult.
"I'm actually looking into that. I might look through the library again to see if I can find something that'll help." Jack has probably looked at least once already, but he'll look again. "Thank you, Da." Even though he offered for her to come as a companion for Sio, Jack is extremely grateful. He gazes at his father for a while, seeing a little more of who his father is, and how wise he is. It hits him once in a while. Especially lately. "We should probably get along. Liam is probably wondering where we've gotten to." He snorts, but holds back from saying anything deprecating about his big brother.
Michael nods agreement, but holds back for just one moment more. "Your brother loves you, Jack. You and Siobhan more than anyone else in the world." Including their parents. "You might try to cut him some slack." Though his daughter's new love life might complicate that a bit more. Leaning forward in the saddle, he nudges his mare forward with knees and calves until she's streaking along at a full gallop, sailing over a tree in the road and flying on toward the first of their stops for the morning. It's a signal. The serious stuff is finished, for the present. Now it's time for some good old fashioned fun.
Once again, Jack listens. "Yessir." Then, his father is off. He streaks after him, nudging Gaia to follow as he can, laughing out loud, the sound ringing through the thick, Scottish March air.
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