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Disclaimer: Rowling would never subject her characters to this much humiliation. Also, I do not own the borrowed lines you will come across. They belong to William Shakespeare, to whom I will give full credit at the end of the chapter. He was never one for spoilers, old Billy boy... Enjoy!



Chapter 4 – The Mayhem Continues

Professor Snape breathed heavily, gasping and spluttering as he attempted to free himself from beneath the bewitched caretaker and Ron Weasley’s tiny owl. With a huge effort he pushed them off his chest, flapping his arms madly and spitting out feathers whilst wrinkling his nose in disgust at the sharp tangy scent of Filch’s aftershave. The duo were hot on his heels, still intent on beating each other to the attentions of the terrified potions master as he stumbled across the room towards the door. Pigwidgeon was clasped in Filch’s weathered hands, nipping furiously at his fingers as he squeezed the owl tight, mouth stretched into a sickly sweet smile. Snape was afraid that the caretaker may kill the poor deranged bird if this were to continue much longer, and so he reached for his wand just as the owl escaped from Filch’s grasp, spinning around in the air and hooting provocatively.

‘Petrificus Totalus!’ bellowed Snape, his wand pointed directly at the panting caretaker.

For a moment, Filch stood absolutely still, his bulging yellow eyes shimmering with confusion. Then he swayed on the spot and fell with a thump to the ground, arms clasped tight to his side, wrinkled face frozen in a soppy grin.

Sighing with relief and mopping his brow, Snape stepped disdainfully over Filch’s fully bound body and turned his attentions to a gleeful Pigwidgeon who was hovering around his head lovingly, cooing softly. Smirking, he followed the bird’s movement with narrowed eyes, and lazily flicked his wand. ‘Immobulus.’

The owl paused in mid flutter, suspended harmlessly above his rival’s stiff body. Snape sneered appreciatively at his work, but then caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and scowled. He had red marks all over his face and his hair was sticking out at all angles. Worst of all, the tip of his pale hooked nose was pink. Seething, he straightened up his robes and smoothed down his rapidly greasing hair. First being forced to love Potter and now this... Snape had never let a student better him before and he was not about to let that happen now. He did not appreciate being made to feel like he was sixteen years old again, plagued by fear of constant humiliation. Students feared him, even those in his own house, and that was the way he liked it...

Anger pulsed through him as he recalled yesterday’s events. With one last futile attempt at disguising his blemishes, he swept out into the corridor and headed towards the Great Hall to complain to Dumbledore. He had forgotten, however, why he had decided to stay out of sight for the day in the first place, and as he blasted open the doors impatiently with his wand and marched up to join his fellow professors, he was followed by a wave of mocking chatter and laughter. Eyes glittering with menace he kept his head bowed beneath the hood of his cloak to ignore the sea of embarrassment, but therefore failed to notice that the attention was not all focused on him.

‘Headmaster things have gone far enough. I demand that you-’ He stopped in his tracks and stared at the sight that met his eyes, sure that he had stumbled into a bad dream. Professor Trelawney was levitating cross legged in front of McGonagall, above the bowls of cereal, blowing shimmering pink, heart-shaped bubbles from the tip of her wand. She was gazing avidly at the transfiguration teacher, whose cheeks were unnaturally flushed as she read aloud to Dumbledore from a flower patterned book, silver hair falling loose down her back.

‘...Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day. It was the nightingale, and not the lark, that pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear. Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate tree. Believe me, love-’

‘Excuse me?’ barked Snape with a loud cough, slapping both hands on the table in front of Dumbledore and feeling as if he might be sick. ‘What in the name of Salazar Slytherin...?’

‘Sssssh!’ hissed Trelawney impatiently, waving her wand at him and sending a cascade of soapy bubbles towards his face that promptly popped with a loud ping upon his swollen nose, ‘Minnie’s reading!’ Her normally measured voice had taken on an excited squeak.

‘Oh really...’ breathed Snape, giving her a withering look as McGonagall pouted her lips and pleaded ‘Alby?’ to a rather amused Dumbledore.

‘ALBUS!’ interrupted the indignant potions master, wondering if this day could get any worse.

‘Oh let her finish, Severus,’ smiled the headmaster, winking at the Deputy Head as she beamed at him gratefully and swooned under his sparkling gaze. ‘Come, sit down and listen. Shakespeare is a language we wizards can never match the magic of.’

His words were met by a chorus of agreement from the rest of the staff, who were red in the face and shaking in silent laughter, determined to play along with the effects of the love potion.

‘But this is ridiculous!’ spat Snape, directing his worst piercing gaze at Dumbledore. ‘They’re making absolute fools of themselves and disrupting the harmony of the school-’

‘Sent our dazzling young Mr Potter any flowers today, Severus?’

Snape’s sallow cheeks coloured as the staff chuckled. ‘That- That was... I... Oh shut up.’ He admitted defeat and went to sit down on an empty chair beside the headmaster, as from the other side of him McGonagall’s clipped, lilting voice read happily, ‘Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.’

‘You were saying, Severus?’ asked Dumbledore quietly between smiles, as she turned the page to begin reading another romantic poem whilst absentmindedly waving away the odd heart shaped bubble that floated in her way.

Snape scowled, but he was grateful to be able to mutter out his frustration.

‘Yesterday’s events were bad enough, headmaster, but this morning I awake to a love struck Filch and an obsessed bird, both of whom end up fighting over which of them holds stronger passion for me. I had to contain them before somebody got hurt... and now it appears that Minerva and Sybil have been affected too. This cannot go on, no matter how... amusing... you may find the situation. Love potions are a dangerous magic and I need to be able to unbind Filch and de-immobilise Weasley’s owl before it damages them. Not that it would make much difference...’

The headmaster wanted to burst out laughing at the image that was now in his head of the hooked nosed potions master and an in love grisly caretaker and crazy ball of an owl, but he did understand the seriousness of the situation. Classes could clearly not continue with his staff in such a state, and he had a good notion that some of the fifth year students would be too overcome by hormones to concentrate on work for the day.

‘I understand. What is it you propose to do to control the, ah, situation?’

‘I require the morning off to brew up enough counter potion. Can you grant me that?’

Dumbledore blew McGonagall a kiss to keep her happy, and observed Trelawney’s crown of flowers that she was currently making for the transfiguration teacher.

‘I shall propose that you, Sybil and Minerva all have the morning off. I think that would be best... If I remember correctly the fifth years have Transfiguration first period, followed by Potions? That should give enough time for this chaos to be sorted.’ His blue eyes lost their twinkle as they focused directly on Snape. ‘Students have a tendency to play a prank once in a while, Severus, but I expect my teachers to be able to keep a wary enough eye out for trouble. I’m relying on you to clear this mess up; because it is partly your fault that it has happened. Merlin only knows how!’

Snape regarded him coolly from beneath his hood. ‘Yes, headmaster,’ he replied, personally thinking he’d like to see Dumbledore try to act rationally whilst forced to be in love with someone he despises... the Dark Lord, for instance.

‘Very well,’ finished Dumbledore, eyes sparkling once again as he stood up and called for silence to address the body of excited and hysterical students: ‘I have an announcement to make... Due to certain unforeseen circumstances that may be apparent, all Potions, Transfiguration and Divination classes are cancelled until further notice. Please use this unexpected free time wisely and be sure not to disturb other lessons, all of which will take place as normal.’

He sat down, and accepted McGonagall’s offer of a hot cross bun as the students began to chatter once more, watching with a chuckle as Professor Snape slipped out unseen through the nearest side door.

*

Ron ran along the passageway past stuffed vultures and boar heads, unsure where he was going, but grateful to get away from the shrieking and cursing that was Ginny, Harry and Pansy. He reached a dead end blocked by a fancy tapestry depicting a duel between two wizards surrounded by centaurs, and panted to a halt. It didn’t take him long to regain his breath thanks to regular Quidditch training, and he reached out to pull the tapestry aside, hoping it was hiding a door like most Hogwarts hangings. It was, and with a grateful sigh he turned the doorknob and stepped through into the corridor outside the Great Hall, only to come face to face with Hermione and Malfoy again. The two were sitting in an alcove on a stone bench, snuggled together and giggling, Malfoy’s tongue clearly very un-langlocked.

Ron’s stomach froze. He thought he might throw up, but nothing inside him seemed to want to function.

‘Oy Ron, heard the news?’

All of a sudden the world came streaming back and he started at the sound of his brother’s voice. ‘What news?’ he asked George glumly, still staring at the horror that was Hermione and Malfoy.

‘Dumbledore’s cancelled Potions, Transfig and Divination!’

‘...Yeah, ‘cause somebody fed them love potion!’ The twins cackled gleefully and ran back into the Great Hall without noticing Ron’s misery, probably to gloat in the mayhem and see if they could make it worse.

‘Lessons are cancelled?’ Hermione’s shocked voice carried over the noise coming from the Hall, and Ron’s heart leapt as she ignored Malfoy completely to stare wildly around the corridor.

Malfoy rolled his eyes and pulled her to him reassuringly, stroking her hair to capture her attention again. ‘It’s alright ‘Mione, they’ll be back on again soon. Besides, that means more time for us to-’

Ron couldn’t bare it any longer. Gagging, he approached the couple, hand clasped around his wand and eyes full of fire. ‘Malfoy!’ he growled, ‘get away from her!’

Draco and Hermione looked up at him in surprise.

‘Ron!’ exclaimed Hermione, as he pointed his wand at her beloved’s throat. ‘What are you doing?!

‘Saving you from this scumbag,’ he answered between gritted teeth, while Malfoy’s terrified expression stretched to an amused grin.

‘You wish, Weasley!’ he said mockingly, gently extracting himself from Hermione’s arms. He took out his own wand and slipped off the bench to stand in front of Ron, staring him straight in the eye. ‘Look, Weasley, I know you hate me right now more than ever, but you have to understand this. I love Hermione. I’d do anything to make her happy, and right now she’s as happy as she can be. Now, I know we’ve always been enemies, but you’re one of ‘Mione’s best friends and I think we should be civil for her sake, don’t you think?’ He gestured to the bench behind him, where Hermione sat looking confused and hurt, brown eyes shimmering with tears.

Ron’s heart sank, if possible, even deeper, and he pocketed his wand, rage subsiding as he remembered this was all the potion’s doing. Fighting Malfoy or separating him and Hermione would not help matters but only make them worse.

Malfoy smirked and held out his hand in a gesture of friendship, blue eyes showing complete sincerity.

Ron just stared at him in disbelief and ignored his outstretched hand. ‘You’re bloody mental, Malfoy!’ he said with a dry laugh. ‘That potion’s really played with your head...’ And without waiting for a response, he turned on his heel and headed purposely towards the dungeons. Something had to be done to stop this nightmare, and only one thing was going to do that... the counter potion. He had never been brilliant at potions in lessons, but then again he had never really cared to be, what with Snape’s biased attitude. Surely, under no pressure and with the aid of the text book he could succeed. After all, the love potion itself had been easy enough to brew the other day, with a bit of help from a love struck Snape. He was so distracted with his thoughts that he didn’t notice Dean, who was heading in the opposite direction, and bumped right into him.

‘Ouch!’ exclaimed Dean, rubbing his arm.

‘Sorry, mate!’ groaned Ron. ‘Didn’t see you there...’

‘That is apparent. Where you going in such a hurry? Harry, Ginny and Pansy are behind me somewhere, not you! In fact, last I saw, the girls duelled each other into the bathroom and Harry had to be kicked out by some annoyed prefect he was so eager to follow Pansy. He was singing to her through the door when I left...’

Ron stifled a laugh and wished he did not have his own problems to deal with and could go make fun of his friend. ‘I was heading to the dungeons... I just had another encounter with Malfoy and Hermione and it was not pretty. I have to make a counter potion, Dean, this prank has spiralled way out of control to beyond reason!’

Dean nodded seriously. ‘I know what you mean. Want me to come help? I’m not much better at Potions than you are, but it may be easier if there are two of us.’

For a moment, Ron considered accepting his offer. The prospect of brewing a potion alone was rather scary, especially as its end result had to be fed to his friends. On the other hand, Dean could be useful in another way. Pansy was still out there besotted with him and could burst in at any time. Plus he had no idea what Hermione and Malfoy were getting up to now that lessons were cancelled, though he could well imagine...

‘Nah I’ll be fine,’ he answered, running a hand through his ruffled hair. ‘But if you could do me a favour and somehow gather all the love potion effected couples to one place and keep an eye on them, that would be great!’

Dean frowned and glanced nervously along the corridor. ‘How am I supposed to do that?’

‘I dunno, use your creativity! Play another prank or something, or set up a party. Please? It will make it easier when we come to cure them all, too! And it’ll make me feel a lot happier knowing someone’s keeping an eye on where Malfoy puts his filthy hands. I need the calmest state of mind possible to brew this potion.’

His friend nodded, seeing the sense in the situation. ‘Fine... but if this turns out a disaster, don’t blame me! Best of luck with the potion brewing!’

‘Thanks mate!’ called Ron, already sprinting off along the corridor, footsteps echoing on the bare flagstones. He reached the potions lab’s arched door and heaved it open, shutting it carefully behind him. Warily, he glanced around the classroom, but Snape was nowhere to be seen and the walls glistened with an eerie silence, something dripping faintly in the distance.

‘Phew!’ he muttered, and made his way over to a spare empty cauldron. He had not expected Snape to be here if Dobby’s gossip had been correct about him, Filch and Pig, but the room always held a certain ominous presence that made you feel you were being watched.

He stared at the cauldron a moment, realising he had come completely unprepared. With another nervous look about the dungeon, he headed over to a cupboard and rummaged around for a copy of the fifth year text book. As expected, there was one, although it was rather befouled and mouse chewed. The pages were stained green but he flicked through them anyway, stopping at the section on love potions. Up until this point he had felt a huge sense of urgency in his mission, but as he headed through the storage room door to hunt for ingredients he forced himself to steady his thinking. It was dark in the gigantic cupboard, but with a wave of his wand he lighted a dusty lamp hanging from the ceiling. An orange glow cascaded around the oval walls as he raided their well labelled shelves, checking the book frequently to make sure he didn’t miss anything. Snape may not seem like the tidiest of people because he didn’t care about his own appearance, but when it came to his beloved potions the professor was extremely organised, something Ron was extremely thankful for right now.

‘Right,’ he said aloud, beginning to feel very much alone now that everything was set up as instructed. ‘How the bloody hell do you start this thing?’

He squinted down at the text book page, wishing the print was not so cramped. Still, began to read intently in the gloomy silence, attempting to get his head around the method.

Something brushed the top of his head with a sudden squeak, and he leapt to his feet in alarm, staring wildly around the room just in time to see a bat flutter into the shadows. He relaxed, patting his hair nervously, and felt a bit stupid for panicking so easily...

‘Well for a start I would try lighting the cauldron, Weasley,’ boomed a familiar, scathing voice.

Ron nearly knocked over his cauldron in shock. It couldn’t be… But from the very same dark corner of the room appeared Professor Snape, brushing down his robes disdainfully as Ron just stared at him open mouthed.



A/N:  Credit for the poetry McGonagall read aloud to Dumbledore goes to William Shakespeare, and the lines were of course from his famous play Romeo and Juliet.

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