Sour Mix & Snape
(Disclaimer & Note to Reader: ‘Sour Mix’ & ‘Haribo’
refer to a truly wonderful and highly addictive kind of muggle jelly
sweets/candy. Of course, Sugar Quills
are still the greatest! J. Haribo is a
trademark & belongs to Dunhills Confectionery Ltd; Snape and the Potions
classroom belong to JK Rowling; Mercy belongs to me.)
Mercy McGonagall threw her blunt quill down on the desk with
a sigh of frustration. How was it
that the students seemed to get stupider the more you tried to teach them?
She scrabbled around under the mess of papers in front of her trying to find
her wand to sharpen the quill, finally realising she’d stuck it into her hair
as usual. It was a dangerous habit
frequently involving violent colour changes or families of fieldmice being conjured
into the (sometimes) dark mass of curls, which now tumbled down her back as she
retrieved the slender wand. A Charms
wand really, but it was Potions that she always excelled in – a fact which had
led her, following in Aunt Minerva’s staid footsteps, to her present job as
Potions Mistress of Hogwarts.
Hooray for me. She sighed again, her eyes were itchy and the candle-flame was
burning low, yet there was still about a mile of parchments needing to be
marked by the morning. And there was no
way she was giving that . . that Man . . another reason to complain
about her work. Even though the
miserable git had finally got the job he had always wanted as Defence Against
the Dark Arts teacher, he still regularly found his way down to the dungeons to
sniff around her work and look disapprovingly down his long nose at whatever
she was doing. She admitted,
grudgingly, that he did occasionally have the right to be there, working on one
of his special brews for Dumbledore, but it didn’t make his critical presence
any less annoying.
Fortunately there was a perfect antidote to such irritated
thoughts – as fizzy as a Fizzing Whizzbee and sweet as a Sugar Quill – it was
time to raid her secret stash of Haribo.
She stood up, drawing her crimson nightrobe around her, and headed
purposefully out of her study and down the corridor to the Potions
classroom. A moment later found her up
on a stool rooting around in the back of one of the store cupboards, throwing
the odd packet of dried newts’ eyeballs
and cauldron scourer over her shoulder as she searched. This cannot be happening. I had two bags left, I swear I did! Unless
I’m eating the things in my sleep now.
‘Looking for something?’ the dry sardonic voice nearly made
her crack her head against the shelf above.
Oh perfect. The git himself
is standing right behind me and I have my head in a cupboard and my bottom in
the air. She took a deep breath
‘Professor Snape, how lovely to see you in my classroom
at this late hour.’ She realised she sounded childish, but she was tired and
not feeling up to the usual bland exchange of icy civilities.
He didn’t even have the grace to rise to the bait but just
stood like a tall immovable . .
git. She crossed her arms, arming
herself for further hostilities. For
some reason an intense look flashed suddenly across the hard planes of his face
and he looked away. Wondering what had caused this momentary lapse she glance
down and hurriedly dropped her arms. In
her rush to get to her secret stash she hadn’t bothered with the last few
buttons on her robe and the collar hung open, exposing rather too much bare
skin between the lush red silk. Utterly
refusing to let herself blush she instead raised her chin a little and thought
mutinously, I can wear what I like in my classroom in the middle
of the night!
She turned her back on him nevertheless and continued to
peer at the jumble of dusty stores.
‘Can I help you with something?’ her voice sounded strangely husky to
‘Perhaps if you kept your supplies more organised you
wouldn’t misplace things so often,’ he suggested with infuriating logic.
Her hands stilled and she said, with a dangerous calm that
those who knew her feared, ‘I do not misplace things often. I misplace things sometimes.’ She turned again and looked past the dark
strands of hair that lay on his lean cheeks and into his shadowed eyes, ‘Now
tell me what you want or go and let me misplace things in peace!’
This time there was no mistaking the gleam of interest as
his eyes raked up her tousled form, but she was too obsessed with her primary
goal to care and gave him a hard look normally reserved for unremittingly
insufferable pupils. Since these were usually Slytherins is seemed quite
suitable to use it on their housemaster too. When she had become quite
convinced they were to spend the rest of the night locked in a glaring
competition, he disconcertingly muttered a distracted, ‘Forgive me,’ and turned
to leave, his black robe brushing against her stool.
The rustle in his pocket gave him away.
‘Stop. Right. There.’ Her voice held a note of command it so
often lacked with the students, well, after all, this time it really is
important! Snape obeyed.
‘Just what exactly is in your pocket?’ she drew her wand,
not quite believing her suspicion could be true, though the guilty movement of
his hand to his pocket confirmed it.
Incredulity battled with fury for a moment. The anger won, ‘How dare you! My Haribo! My last bag! Possibly
the last bag in the castle!’ She raised
her wand, eyes blazing.
Unfortunately, Snape anticipated her sneaky retrieval of the
prize and the spell was uttered in chorus, resulting in the bag flying from his
pocket, hanging momentarily in midair looking very confused, then bursting in a
rainbow of jelly sweets which scattered in a wide arc across the lab. Surprised eyes locked across the sugary
mess, then tore away from each other as,
a strawberry heart landed in a slow-bubbling cauldron on the
Whatever the potion was it was clearly upset by this
unexpected ingredient. With an ominous, ‘Glump’, the mixture began to boil and
rise, fizzing angrily. A frothy sea of pink bubbles broke over the black rim
and cascaded over the desk and onto the floor.
Snape snapped out of their horrified trance first, ‘What was
in that cauldron?’ he demanded urgently.
‘Um . . um,’ Mercy sputtered, desperately trying to
remember. ‘Seventh year project?’ she
hazarded, not at all sure, then bristled at his exasperated glance, ‘Don’t look
at me like that! This wouldn’t have
happened if you weren’t sugar-napping my Haribo in the middle of the night!’
Their heads both snapped round again as the advancing pink tide met a sour
cherry chew and dissolved it with a loud sizzle.
‘I think we should get out of here. Now,’ Snape suggested.
‘I don’t think we should touch it.’
‘Or breathe it in either.’
He backed away from the now hissing potion leaving Mercy
still perched on her stool, clutching her robes around her.
‘Um, I have one problem, Professor,’ she gulped, noticing
that they were now completely cut off from the door.
‘Yes?’ His voice was edged with impatience.
‘I don’t have any shoes on.’ She gestured to her bare feet.
The gold toenail polish, while pretty, was clearly no protection against
unknown, out-of-control potions.
Snape looked at her feet blankly for a moment. ‘Oh . . Well then -’ he didn’t finish, but
with a glance at the bubbling, sweet-guzzling flood around them, strode back to
her, swept her yelping off the stool into his arms and made a run for the door.
‘Ooh,’ said Mercy, blinking as they passed through the cloud
of pink steam. In a moment they were on
the other side, Snape leapt into the corridor and slammed the door shut with
his back. He remained leaning against
it for a moment, the hem of his robes steaming slightly. Mercy could feel his heart slamming against
his ribs where her side was crushed against him.
After a moment she sneaked a look at him through her
lashes. His eyes looked slightly out of
focus. When is he going to put me down?
‘Pink’ he muttered indistinctly, then seemed to realise where he was and
practically dropped her. Grabbing the
front of his robes to steady herself she slid inelegantly to the floor.
‘Sorry,’ he murmured, looking down at her from his
Mercy felt dizzy and slightly breathless. She realised she was still supporting
herself against his lean chest, but couldn’t quite summon the strength of mind
to move away. ‘What do you think we
made? . . Apart from a mess, that is.’
His dark eyes continued to bore into her silently. ‘Professor?’ she
‘Seventh year project?
Love Potion. Always are,’ he said shortly and clamped his mouth shut
again. A tiny muscle began to work in his jaw.
‘Oh,’ said Mercy and swallowed. Suddenly his woollen robes felt unbearably rough beneath her
fingers, heat prickled up the back of her neck and pooled in her stomach. ‘With added Haribo,’ she murmured uneasily,
mesmerised by the way his eyes had fixed on her lips. Despite a suddenly dry mouth she managed to add faintly, ‘Better
‘Yes,’ he concurred, his eyes focussed on her mouth. Inch by inch his head descended until his
hair brushed lightly against her cheek and his warm breath whispered across her
skin, ‘Better fight it.’
Then his cool, unwilling lips met her own. Despite her best efforts to draw back her
own parted beneath them in mutinous invitation. Stop it! Oh gods, don’t stop. . her brain wailed. I didn’t think he’d taste so sweet,
she thought numbly, he tastes kind of like . .
‘Wait a minute!’ she sputtered, pushing him away so abruptly
he crashed back against the door, ‘You taste of sour cherries! I did have two bags left . . You ate
one then you destroyed the other – You, you . . !’
Snape opened and shut his mouth a few times wordlessly then
rubbed the back of his head where it had banged against the door. There was a slight betraying flush along his
cheekbones, but the cloudy look was disappearing from his eyes and his voice
was cool as he spoke, ‘I assure you, Miss McGonagall, I had every intention of
replacing them tomorrow.’
Watching the fire in his eyes die, extinguished as the usual
icy control slipped back over his face, just served to make her more
angry. ‘Tomorrow! What good is
tomorrow? I have marking to do, I’m going to be up all night, and my classroom
is full of pink toxic waste!’
Snape’s expression suggested that if he did have any Haribo
he’d be offering it to her on the end of a long stick, if only the
sugar-craving crazy woman would stay away from him. He stared at her for a long moment.
Damn it! He’s going to come out with some icy put-down
that’ll make me feel like a blushing first-year again. Why did I have to kiss the stupid, infuriating
Mercy’s train of thought
was momentarily derailed as Snape plunged a hand into his pocket and felt
around for something. What, he’s
going to hex me now? Perhaps he’ll
transfigure me into a Potions Mistress who doesn’t yell at him and wander round
the dungeons half-dressed. The moment she saw what Snape was holding
out to her her mind ceased babbling– it ran completely out of track instead.
The DADA Professor, his habitual frown firmly in place, was
offering her a small purple-green box. ‘Chocolate
Frog,’ he said, unnecessarily, ‘confiscated it from a Gryffindor.’
How . . charming.
Mercy didn’t know whether to be annoyed or laugh at such an
awkwardly-presented peace-offering. She
looked down at the tiny gift then back at the hard face of the man in front of
her. This was, after all, more
important than wrecked classrooms and potion-induced moments of madness, more
important even than pride . . this was chocolate. ‘Thank you,’ she said
simply, taking it.
Snape shrugged and frowned a bit deeper by way of
reply. No wizard had ever looked so
eager to Disapparate on the spot.
Despite not meeting her eyes, Snape caught Mercy’s glance
towards the tendrils of pink steam that had been wafting unnoticed from beneath
the classroom door. They both hastily
backed a little further away. Clearing
his throat, Snape drew his wand and murmured a sealing charm. ‘Better leave it to settle. I know a suitable scouring charm that will
remove all traces in the morning.’
Easy as that, is it Severus? she thought, but aloud
replied, ‘Of course, Professor. In
which case, perhaps you will assist me before breakfast?’
‘Certainly, Professor,’ Snape said evenly, his expression
showing the effort involved in not bristling at the emphasis she had put on
‘assist’. ‘Well . . I’ll wish you
‘I’ll meet you here in the morning.’
‘Fine.’ He won’t meet my eyes, but he keeps staring at my
lips . . interesting. Perhaps those
seventh-years are onto something.
Snape nodded slightly and strode away in a billow of black
robes. Mercy looked at his retreating
back consideringly for a moment then down at her bare toes. A smile began to play around her lips that
had nothing to do with potions and everything to do with sour cherries . . and