Halloween Sugar Highs
Note: This is a sequel to Sour Mix & Snape, so
will only make sense if you read that first.
Disclaimer: Snape, Hogwarts, etc belong to JK. Haribo sweets belong to Dunhills. Mercy
belongs to me, but if you want to borrow her we’ll both be down The Three
Broomsticks looking for Weasleys (they’re lower maintenance than Snapes).
Big thank you to GorgeousWeasleyBoy for beta-ing and to
TrolleyTiger for approving the ending.
Mercy didn’t know quite how the conversation had got round
to Professor Snape. In fact she was
almost sure she hadn’t mentioned the man at all. Yet her aunt was fixing her with a piercing look over the top of
the October edition of Quidditch Supplies Monthly and enquiring
tenaciously, ‘And what have you and our esteemed DADA professor been arguing
about now? Honestly, Mercy, I think you
go looking for trouble where Severus is concerned!’
No, he just is trouble, and he’s the one who’s
always snooping around my classroom.
Except he doesn’t. Anymore. Ever since the pink potion ‘incident’ at
the end of the last school year her dungeon had been a Snape-free zone. The fact that he now knocked on her office
door and asked with brief and careful politeness for any potion ingredients he
needed, was infinitely more annoying.
When she had arrived at the Potions classroom that summer
morning he was nowhere in evidence and every trace of the rogue pink potion had
already been meticulously scoured from the dungeon. She had stood there wondering if she had dreamt the whole thing,
despite the chocolate frog card on her desk (Mother Shipton - rather a rare
Unfortunately, Snape’s subsequent behaviour was all the
proof she needed. That very afternoon
he had scurried scurried! away when she popped into the staff room to
talk to Professor Flitwick. She would
have laughed at his hunted expression, except . . Aunt Minerva said she was far
too eager to laugh at anything and everything, but Mercy found she couldn’t
laugh at him. Not anymore.
And here was her aunt wanting to know why the two of them
acted like bad tempered Manticores whenever the other was around. Mercy sighed. Though Aunt Minerva was usually a sympathetic, if irritatingly
calm and logical, audience for her weekly woes, she had resolved never to
breathe a word about the grim DADA professor’s secret midnight sugar cravings.
‘Mercy? Are you
trying to avoid my question? It was
Dumbledore who mentioned it.’
Mercy grimaced. ‘Dumbledore? What did he say?’
‘He said if he had to sit between the two of you at lunch
again he would don his extra-thick thermal winter under-robes as a safety
precaution.’ Minerva pursed her lips as
her niece’s mouth twitched in apparent amusement.
Mercy caught the movement.
‘I’m sorry, Aunt. You know I
don’t like to upset the headmaster.’
‘Then don’t. And
don’t fight with Professor Snape either.
It’s Halloween tomorrow and we’ll have enough trouble with the students
getting up to every ridiculous kind of mischief they can devise.’
Mercy wondered if her aunt would ever stop treating her like
a naughty toddler who wouldn’t tell where she had magicked auntie’s spectacles
to. She adopted a suitably serious
expression. ‘I shall attempt not to
duel with him until the feast is over, Aunt.’
‘May I remind you that duelling is just as improper for
teachers as it is for students?’
Minerva said sharply, before realising Mercy was just baiting her as
usual. She was about to add an
admonishment to this effect when she noticed the blush that had suddenly risen
to her niece’s cheeks and gave her a searching glance over her spectacles. ‘What’s the matter, dear?’
Actually, I must go. I have
things to prepare for the Halloween Fair.’
Minerva frowned a little as her niece hurried out of her
office, then her eye was caught by an article comparing the torque and relative
wind-speed compensation in Swedish and Japanese designed broomsticks, and she
forgot all about it.
As Mercy made her way down to Hagrid’s pumpkin patch in the
late autumn sunshine she was grateful for the sharp breeze that cooled her
cheeks as it sent golden leaves whirling across the grassy hill. It was ridiculous, but something about the
word ‘improper’ had caused a rather too vivid memory to pop into her head,
involving black robes, bare feet and the DADA professor looking terribly
tall. Of course, lately staring at the
door in the Potions dungeon had the same effect. And eating Haribo sour cherries had become equally distracting.
Mercy pulled the escaping strands of wind-blown hair off her
face, looked down the hill and stopped.
Snape was coming out of Hagrid’s hut carrying a bucket.
Of course this was not in the least important, so she
continued walking, training her features to convey friendly and professional
indifference. She was concentrating so
hard on looking suitably dignified while descending a steep hill with a breeze
tugging her robes in three directions at once that she almost tripped over him
when he halted four-square on the path in front of her.
‘Good afternoon,’ he said.
‘Professor,’ she nodded politely, wondering what to
She looked at the lidded wooden bucket. ‘Is Hagrid in?’
‘I was just going down to talk to him about pumpkins.’ He looked at her blankly. ‘For the Halloween Fair.’ Well this is a scintillating conversation.
‘I see,’ said Snape, who didn’t seem to at all.
Mercy could cheerfully strangle him. There he was standing right in her way,
forcing them to have this inane conversation, all the time looking like he
wanted to hurry away before something awful happened.
‘And you?’ she couldn’t quite keep the impatience out of her
‘Some Doxies. For
class.’ He didn’t add more. The silence stretched until it brushed the
edge of toe-curlingly awkward.
‘Well, I really must – ‘ Mercy began, but he was already
moving to let her pass.
‘Yes, of course. Good afternoon, Miss McGonagall.’
‘Professor,’ she gave a quick nod of farewell and escaped
gratefully into the smoky warmth of Hagrid’s hut.
The Halloween feast was still in full swing in the Great
Hall, but Mercy had left early and was enjoying relative peace under the high
candlelit vault of the Entrance Hall.
The muffled sound of gaiety drifted under the heavy wooden doors and
every inch of the hall and stairwell was decked in festive orange and forest
green, with rosy apples and golden corn sheaves showing amongst the evergreen
branches woven up the banisters.
A house elf in a frilly apron and little mobcap was stirring
a large pot of orange goo which sat next to the largest cauldron Mercy had been
able to find. It was big enough for a
cannibal to stew a hapless Victorian explorer in, though Mercy really hoped
that that had never been the case. She
went over to help light the fire beneath it and get her other ingredients
ready. To her right, other stalls were
already ready for business. Two trestle
tables faced each other across the hall, one a bric-a-brac stall piled high
with second-hand Quidditch supplies and slightly scuffed chess sets, the other,
Professor Sprout’s, had a jungle of plants for sale – one rather vigorous
Flitterbloom was already colonising the throw-a-gnome-and-win-a-prize stall
next door and snapping at the heads of the two 5th years charming
their sign to flash different colours.
At the far end was an open space with a banner announcing ‘7th
Year Magical Demonstrations’.
With the cauldron heating nicely Mercy began to measure in
the sugar. One of the 5th
years wandered over to watch. She
looked up and smiled at him and he nodded towards the stall opposite hers. It was a wooden booth with a doorway.
‘Professor Snape’s Wardrobe of Doom,’ he said,
To Mercy it looked far more sinister than a wardrobe; made
of mahogany, dark and polished with age, it was carved with ancient symbols and
the open door space was inky black as though it consumed the candles’ glow
before the light could reach inside.
However, she was smiling at the cheeky description when Snape stepped
out of the booth.
Mercy and the 5th year both jumped guiltily.
‘Um, Miss McGonagall.
Trick or treat?’ the 5th year said quickly, sticking out his
hand, obviously hoping that Snape hadn’t heard him and that Mercy would play
‘Ooh, treat, I think,’ she said, trying not to look at Snape
who was glowering at them, ‘but this isn’t ready yet . . oh wait,’ she put down
the sugar scoop and rummaged in her a pocket, ‘Pepper Imp?’
‘Thanks, Miss M,’ he said, taking the whole handful, then
turned to Professor Snape and asked with, in Mercy’s opinion, an unwise amount
of swagger, ‘Trick or treat, sir?’
Snape considered the student in silence for a moment, then
with a little flick of his wand said, ‘Trick.’
The boy twitched once and was suddenly sporting a pair of
magnificently long and hairy donkey’s ears.
His eyes widened as he felt above his head. ‘Oh,’ he swallowed. ‘Um, yes sir.’
‘Run along,’ Snape suggested quietly.
‘Yes, sir.’ The boy
departed, sensibly without a word of protest.
Mercy picked up her sugar scoop again. Snape looked at her across the cauldron.
‘Well. Aren’t you
going to complain?’ he asked sourly. ‘I’m sure you’re just itching to.’
Mercy poured a large jugful of the orange goo onto the sugar
mountain in her cauldron.
‘No.’ Her lips
quirked. ‘I always thought that boy was
a bit of an ass.’
She looked up at him to see the effect of her terrible
pun. If anything, he was frowning
deeper than usual.
Sighing inwardly she went back to her measuring, all too
aware of his continued silent inspection.
She picked up a pot of brown powder as he finally cleared his throat.
‘What are you making?’
‘Ah,’ she said, adding the cinnamon with a flourish and
taking out her wand. With a brief charm
it slid from her hand and began to mix her ingredients; faster and faster it
went, first there was a sticky pale orange paste in the cauldron’s depths,
then, as her wand blurred with speed, a ghostly sparkling mass began to rise up
towards the brim.
Judging the time to be right, Mercy called back her wand and
dipped a quite ordinary unmagical stick in instead. One turn around and she was holding it out to him topped with an
enormous soft orange mass.
‘Pumpkin-flavoured candy floss?’ she offered.
‘No,’ he said, ‘thank you, I don’t care for it.’
What a surprise. She looked across at his stall. ‘And what’s that?’
‘My – contribution – is educational,’ he said gravely. ‘A boggart.’
‘Educational and frightening. Clever.’
She smiled and could’ve sworn he was almost possibly about
to smile back, but at that moment the doors of the Great Hall swung back and
the noise level climbed steeply as excited students poured towards them. The house elf tugged on her robes to offer
her more sticks, and when she looked up again Snape was gone.
After half an hour or so of strenuous cotton candy winding
Mercy was sticky up to the elbows. She
was doing good business despite the filling effects of the Halloween feast, and
perhaps as an antidote to close encounters of the boggart kind – some of the
younger students were exiting Snape’s ‘wardrobe of doom’ looking rather pale
and shaken. Peeves was helping in his
own special way by swooping around, and occasionally through, the nervous
Mercy’s queue looked much more cheerful. Sugar addicts of the castle unite. She
picked up the powdered cinnamon, topped up her mixture with a generous shake
and reached for another stick. She
twirled till it was supporting a pillow-sized portion, handed it to the little
1st year at the front of the queue and picked up another. The cauldron seemed to be getting rather
overfull, she noticed. Perhaps her
twirling arm was getting tired. Easy
to fix. She tapped the cauldron with her wand. The candy floss level continued to rise. She frowned and tried again.
A low, ominous rumble sounded from the cauldron’s
depths. A fluffy sugar cloud rose over
the rim and began creeping swiftly down the sides. This is not good.
Her happy queue-ers were backed away looking slightly nervous. Mercy tried a different charm, but she was
quite sure her spinning spell had already stopped. The cauldron groaned and belched an orange-silver mushroom into
the air. Within seconds the top had
broken off and was floating along the hall accompanied by mixed cries of
concern and laughter. This is really
really not good. The nearest
students were already up to their ankles from the creeping tide, while overhead
more clouds rose and broke away.
‘Everyone move back, please,’ Mercy was surprised she
managed to sound so teacherly and calm.
What have I done?
Along the hall Professor Flitwick and two prefects were
fighting off a large cloud of rogue floss that was threatening to engulf
them. Mercy looked back at the
eruption. It was still picking up speed. The rumble sounded louder and deeper and her
cauldron spewed out a high rustling wave of spun sugar. It flowed across the hall taking several
surprised students with it and broke against the base of the stairs.
A deep voice sounded through the growing chaos. ‘Everyone make for higher ground.’ Dumbledore’s hat was askew, his beard
streaked orange. There was a general rush for the stairs. ‘Calmly please!’
I’m fired, Mercy thought, trying a spell that would
put out the fire below the cauldron, though it was obscured beneath the rising
volcanic cone of floss. I’m so
She looked up to where Dumbledore had stopped, halfway up the first
flight with the sugary tide already licking at his toes. ‘I think this problem is for your capable
She was up to her waist, struggling to stay upright, and not
entirely sure he wasn’t being sarcastic, but she managed one last gasp of
professionalism – before my career is over – ‘Thank you Headmaster. I’ll have it under control in a moment, I’m
She waded off through the orange drifts, firing scouring charms
as she went, but the stuff simply expanded to fill the holes she’d
created. The dizzying smell of too
much warm sugar, pumpkin and cinnamon filled her nostrils. She tried a melting spell - ‘Ow!’ - and
stumbled back as hot drops of burning syrup flew through the air.
Her arm was caught in a hard grip before she fell. She turned.
‘Professor Snape!’ Her already over-wrought nerves jumping to double
‘I already tried that.
It doesn’t seem to be a good idea.’
He glanced down. ‘My foot,’ he winced.
She stepped off it quickly and grabbed a handful of his sleeve to keep
from being swept away.
‘We need to get this under control.’ He had to speak up over a rising roar.
‘Yes, but I don’t know what happened!’ The tide threaten to overwhelm them and they
fired off scouring spells in unison to keep a pocket open around them.
‘I finite incantatem-ed my charm! It should have stopped right then!’ she was
having to yell now.
‘It’s not a spell, it’s the potion!’ He barked a repelling
spell to keep them from being completely engulfed. ‘We need time to think!’
Before she knew what he was doing, he’d whirled them both round, blasted
a tunnel through the drift in front and pushed her through a square of
There was silence – dark, cool and blissfully empty. ‘Lumos,’ Mercy gasped and leant back
against the wall. Snape tumbled through
the opening and landed at her feet.
There was nowhere else to go – they were safe inside the wardrobe of
Snape gathered himself quickly and backed away across the
tiny space. He suddenly looked very
worried. Mercy squinted at him through
the gloom and opened her mouth to speak.
There was a movement in the shadows and a third person
stepped forward to join them in the box.
‘Woah!’ Mercy flattened herself against the wall.
Scarlet robes, long dark hair, it was hardly ghoulish, but
all the hairs on the back of her head rose up as one.
Mercy was staring at herself.
She jumped as Snape’s voice boomed in the tiny space.
The boggart crossed its – her – arms and began to laugh
mockingly at him.
‘Riddikulus!!’ he roared. The doppelganger took one look at his thunderous face, tried to
turn into several things at once and vanished in a puff of smoke.
There was a long silence.
Mercy found her hands were palm flat against the wall for support. She felt worn out.
‘That’s what you’re most afraid of in all the world?’ Much to her annoyance she was unable to keep
her voice steady. ‘Me in my dressing
gown? Am I really that frightening?’
Snape lifted his head tiredly. ‘No. Rationally, you are not
Rationally I’m not? Mercy felt her grasp on the
situation slip right through her numb fingers.
‘ - but as you have just demonstrated, where you lead, chaos
She straightened up. Ordinary insults she could deal with. ‘Where I lead - ? Excuse me, but the slight problem we are
currently having outside was nothing to do with me! At least, I’m almost entirely sure it didn’t, isn’t –‘
‘It wasn’t,’ he said rather begrudgingly. ‘It was Peeves.’
‘Yes. I saw him lurking around the mess of ingredients
beside your cauldron earlier on.’
‘Then why didn’t you – ‘ she burst out.
‘Because I didn’t think anything of it at the time,’ he
snapped angrily, ‘and if you weren’t so
disorganised as to –‘
‘Disorganised! Why you –‘
‘- the lack of discipline –‘
‘joyless, overcompensating –‘
‘- ridiculous and infuriating –
Snape stopped his lecture and narrowed his eyes. Mercy suddenly regretted her final choice of
word, it was not particularly grown-up or well-thought-out. Neither was the finger which she had been
poking him in the chest with.
‘Overcompensating?’ Snape moved closer, a dangerous edge in
his question. With her hand flattened
against his robes, the space round them felt awfully small. ‘What do you mean by that?’
She knew she had a good answer. She had considered the matter carefully many times. But with the subject of her analysis
directly in front of her she couldn’t quite remember. ‘What I meant was, that is, you really don’t need to be so, well
– ‘ she trailed off and took a deep breath.
‘I would never laugh at you like that.’
Snape frowned in the oddest way, not looking at her at
all. ‘Is that a promise?’
‘I wouldn’t dare,’ she said truthfully.
‘Good.’ He bent his
head and kissed her.
Oh, said the small part of Mercy’s brain that hadn’t
immediately shut down the moment Snape’s lips made contact, this is what it
felt like, I remember.
All the way down to my toes.
She buried her hands in the folds of his woollen robes,
leaning in closer. What were we arguing about, anyway? Can’t have been very
important . . . hang on!
She pulled back and said peaceably enough, ‘Professor Snape
you are a huge enormous liar. You do
like my candyfloss – you taste all cinnamony.’
He almost smiled, but just kissed her again instead.
‘Cinnamon!’ she gasped a moment later. He pulled back and looked at her
blankly. ‘That’s what I added right
before it started . . exploding. Peeves
must have put something in it.’
‘Or swapped it for something else.’ Snape was all business again. ‘A brown powder . . ground fire crab shell,
Or Bubotuber pus?’ she wondered, then shook her head. ‘But the effect was too violent.’
‘No, there wouldn’t be any in the castle. That’s class B tradeable. Too dangerous.’
‘Well – ‘ Snape ducked his head a little guiltily.
‘There might have been some in my office.’ She looked at him in disbelief. ‘But no one comes into my office. Ever.’ he defended.
‘Well, unfortunately Peeves wasn’t put off by your charming
personality! At least it can’t have
been much or there’d be no cauldron and possibly no castle left either.’
Snape stepped away from her. ‘Perhaps you’d like me to take myself and my personality back to
my office right now,’ he said coolly.
‘You could clean up your mess on the way there,’ she found
herself suggesting airily.
‘Really?’ Snape folded his arms. ‘Unfortunately the Potions Mistress is yet to think of a solution
to that sticky problem . . Why are you smiling like that?’
‘Because the Potions Mistress just did.’ So simple in the end. ‘Excuse me for a moment.’
‘Would you like some assistance?’
He seemed to have warmed back up to polite neutrality. Well, two could play at that game. ‘Thank you, professor. A repelling spell or two would be
They exited into a cocoon of orange sugar. Mercy breathed in the sweet scent one last
time then raised her wand. ‘Accio
Sanguis draconis!’ And after a
All around them the cottony menace sank away, a fine black
mist settling over the grainy crystals which was all that remained. Mercy’s cauldron appeared out of its mound
and gave a final sad burp.
‘An elegant solution,’ Snape said grudgingly.
On the stairs, students were grabbing at the remaining rogue
puffs that had floated high over their heads and having
sticky-orange-ball-fights - much to the annoyance of the portraits.
‘7th years will please scour-charm the hall and
stairs.’ Dumbledore had ventured down
to survey the damage. ‘And the corridor
to the dungeons.’ He looked up at one
of the candelabras. ‘And somebody
rescue that house elf. . . Professor Snape?
Miss McGonagall? A wise use of
Dragon’s Blood. However, may I see you
both in my office?’
They looked at each other.
Mercy smiled at Snape’s frown.
‘You realise I shall blame this entirely on you,’ she said.
‘And I shall blame it on your sugar obsession,’ he
countered, already warming to the argument.
They followed the headmaster up the sticky staircase.
‘My sugar obsession?’
They reached the first landing and looked down on the
wreckage below. The Flitterbloom plant
was refusing to let go of one of the gnomes that had been swept into its
grasp. A tug of war involving several 7th
years was already in full swing.
‘So,’ said Snape, changing the subject, ‘another Halloween
‘At least it wasn’t a troll,’ Mercy replied innocently.
‘I don’t know.’
Something in his dry tone made Mercy glance sideways at him. And there, for a brief moment, half-hidden
under his hair, she caught it – his lip curled up in that almost-smile. ‘I think I preferred the troll.’