|The Secret Ingredient
Author: KT Welsh PM
Written in response to a plot bunny at the plot bunny commune on livejournal. When Harry discovers the secret ingredient in Dumbledore's sherbet lemons he gets, or rather sees, a lot more than he bargained for in the process.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Humor - Albus D. & Harry P. - Words: 2,375 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 3 - Published: 05-14-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2393528
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: The Secret Ingredient
Author: KT Welsh
Pairing: Passing mentions of HP/LB and SS/ST
Rating & warnings: Pretty much suitable for all, although there may be some minor swear words (I can't honestly remember) and there are references to nudity. But it's not gratuitous, it's vital to the (almost non-existent) plot! However, please don't read this if naked old wizards offend you.
Disclaimer: It's all J.K.Rowling's. But I am British, just like she is, and so I use British English and terms from the British versions of the books.
Author's Note: This was written in answer to the first plot bunny posted at The Bunny Commune community on Livejournal. The plot bunny was:
Write a fic at Hogwarts, involving at least two items from the following list:
A narcoleptic house-elf
The secret recipe to Dumbledore's lemon drops (sherbet lemons in the British books)
A flock of purple sheep
A malfunctioning pensieve
A night of debauchery in a roman bath
The Secret Ingredient
The scream that reverberated around Hogwarts on Harry Potter's last night in the castle was more chilling than anything which had been heard during the final battle with Lord Voldemort.
The Boy-Who-Defeated-You-Know-Who had actually jumped out of his bed, grabbed the wand he still slept with under his pillow, and run half the distance from Gryffindor Tower to the Great Hall before he remembered that he'd already defeated the Dark Lord and his Death Eater minions, and when he had none of them had screamed like…well, a girl. He briefly contemplated investigating the source of the sound but decided against it; he'd had his fill of being the hero. Someone else could deal with this calamity.
As Harry trudged back to his dormitory, still half-asleep, he saw his Head of House running towards him. Minerva McGonagall had obviously also been roused from her bed by the noise, as she was dressed in a tartan dressing gown and fluffy lion-shaped slippers and had the hem of what looked like a maroon nightdress flapping around her ankles. Her hair was tightly rolled up into curlers under her hair-net and Harry couldn't stop a small grin escaping at the sight.
"Potter, what are you doing out of Gryffindor Tower after curfew?" she asked crisply. Seven years and one defeat of a Dark Lord later and she still wouldn't call him Harry.
"I heard a scream, Professor," he explained, trying to hide his smile by turning it into a yawn. "I thought I'd investigate."
"As did I, Potter," Professor McGonagall affirmed. "It sounded as if it came from the Headmaster's office."
Just as she finished her sentence, another, louder scream was heard. Harry and Professor McGonagall looked at each another – that had definitely come from the Headmaster's office – before turning as one and running off towards the entrance to Albus Dumbledore's office. As soon as they reached the gargoyle, Professor McGonagall shouted the password ("Ice Mice!") and the door opened. After the slightest of hesitations, Harry followed Professor McGonagall (and, rather oddly, a trail of wet footprints) as she rushed up the wooden, spiral staircase, hoping they weren't too late to save the Headmaster from whatever was attacking him.
They were confronted by a horrific sight; a sight worse than anything Harry, the boy who had faced evil countless times and yet lived to tell every tale, had ever seen before.
Oblivious to their presence, Albus Dumbledore was alternately staring into his Pensieve and jabbing the tip of his wand into the swirling silver strands. But that was fairly innocuous of itself - no, that definitely wasn't the terrible part.
The truly awful thing, the one secret that Harry would take to his grave, the reason that he would have countless nightmares in years to come, was Albus Dumbledore's attire.
The ancient Headmaster was wearing nothing more than a towel knotted around his waist, his damp and wrinkled flesh almost fully on display.
Harry squeezed his eyes shut quickly and pressed his fingers against his closed eyelids. His eyeballs were burning more than his scar ever had.
"It's a nightmare," he started to chant to himself. "It's nothing more than the worst nightmare you've ever had. You'll wake up back in the dorm with Ron snoring in the bed next to you in just a minute."
Had that been…back hair?
"Please, please, let me wake up!"
He was going to pass out.
He was going to be sick.
Or maybe he would vomit and then faint.
"What…what's wrong, Albus?" he heard Professor McGonagall ask very faintly, as if she was very far away. He wished that she was, and that she'd taken Professor Dumbledore with her too.
"The secret recipe for my sherbet lemons!" the Headmaster exclaimed. "It's lost, lost forever! I wanted to ask the House Elves to make me some more, but I put the memory of the recipe into this blasted thing and now I can't get it back out! Something's gone wrong with the Pensieve!"
At the realisation that his much admired mentor had been screaming as if he was about to be trampled by a rampaging flock of purple sheep over a lack of sweets, a little of Harry's respect for Dumbledore was lost. And as most of the aforementioned respect had already fled the country on seeing Dumbledore in a towel, there wasn't really a whole lot left to be going on with.
Some sick part of Harry's brain wanted Harry to open his eyes to watch the old man crumble (who would have guessed that all Voldemort had really needed to do was take Dumbledore's confectionery away?), but the sensible part of his brain (which always sounded irritatingly like his best friend Hermione Granger) made him take his glasses off before he did so.
After carefully stowing them in his pocket, he cautiously opened one eye a crack to check that everything was satisfactorily fuzzy. On seeing nothing more than a disturbingly pink and squishy blob with a blur of white round the middle ahead of him (he refused to let himself acknowledge what it was), Harry deemed it safe and started to listen to the conversation happening around him.
"Why isn't it working, Minerva?" Albus Dumbledore was whining. "I need some sherbet lemons!" The blob-that-wasn't-Dumbledore clasped a hand over his heart dramatically and Harry rolled his eyes.
Another figure, this one a haze of different colours, moved to stand next to the pink blob. Minerva McGonagall was far too comfortable with the spectacle of a nearly-naked Dumbledore for Harry to be entirely at ease, but he watched as she bent over the blurry object that the Headmaster passed to her. Apparently, it didn't take her long to diagnose the problem, because she straightened up again very quickly. But that might also have been because something that was rather fuzzy but distinctly hand-shaped had landed on her bum. Harry shuddered.
"It's not working, Albus," Minerva said patiently, as if she was dealing with a first-year Neville Longbottom again, "because you've dropped a Fizzing Whizbee into it." She set the Pensieve down, pointed her wand into it and said "Accio Fizzing Whizbee!" The offending article flew out of the pensive and into her hand. "There, try that."
There was a howl of delight as Professor Dumbledore was able to draw one of the silver strands out of his Pensieve.
"Oh, thank you, Minerva! You have made a very old wizard very happy!" the Headmaster declared as he clapped his hands together with glee. "I will get Dobby started on another batch at once." And with that, the blob lumbered over to the fireplace, clearly intending to call down to the kitchens.
Unable to tear his eyes away from the rather wobbly sight in front of him, Harry slowly became aware that his Head of House had turned towards him.
"Potter, you can go back to bed," Professor McGonagall sighed, sounding incredibly weary. "The crisis has been averted."
He felt like some kind of answer was required, but it was a long moment before he was able to force his brain back into gear and form a coherent sentence.
"Thanks, Professor McGonagall," he managed at last. Grateful to be offered a means of escape from the hideous farce he had unwittingly become party to, he turned quickly towards the staircase he had climbed – was it only minutes before? It felt like years ago – to leave.
"Wait a moment, Harry!" Professor Dumbledore's voice sounded from behind him. The Headmaster had definitely got his twinkle back, Harry thought dully as he reluctantly slowed his footsteps.
"Yes, sir?" he asked.
"I'll walk with you some of the way. Now I know that my sherbet lemons are being prepared, I can happily go back to the Room of Requirement."
There was a pause as Harry pondered that piece of information. In the end, he had to ask. He didn't want to, in fact he would have given almost anything not to ask, but he couldn't stop the words from forming on his tongue.
If he hadn't killed Voldemort himself, Harry would have thought that You-Know-Who had decided to possess him and torture him to death from the inside.
"What are you doing in the Room of Requirement, Professor Dumbledore?"
He flinched as there was a movement off to his left before something fuzzy and pink was clapped on his shoulder. He hoped that it wasn't the hand which had been on his Head of House's bum not that long ago. Professor Dumbledore laughed heartily.
"Well, Harry, you will be aware that on occasion we allow the students to 'let off steam', shall we say, with parties in their respective common rooms, yes?" At Harry's nod, he continued. "Then you must understand that sometimes, the teachers must similarly be allowed to indulge in similar recreational activities."
Harry thought of the last party he'd attended. Did Dumbledore mean that the teachers smuggled Butterbeer and Firewhisky into the castle and danced badly to the songs played during late night romance slot on the wizarding wireless, while getting horribly drunk and trying to snog someone (in Harry's case, Lavender Brown) in a dark corner?
"Not exactly, Harry." Damn. He'd forgotten about the Legilimency. "We tend to prefer more refined pursuits than smooching to the sound of the Weird Sisters, and the Room of Requirement provides ample opportunity to indulge ourselves. Why, tonight, it has assumed the form of a roman bath house!" Well, at least that explained the towel and general lack of any other clothes. Harry had wondered. "Although I will admit that Firewhisky is more often than not consumed at some point of the evening. I find that it helps bring a relaxed air to proceedings, don't you?"
Harry was spared from having to answer when Dumbledore continued without taking a breath. "And yes, there have been more than one or two…violent difference of opinions between Filius and Rolanda, but they always resolve them without too much blood being spilled. But there is absolutely no snogging allowed. Although… between you and I, when he has had slightly too much to drink, Severus does try to get a little frisky with Sybill and well, she never puts up much of a fight."
Harry digested that response (with some understandable difficulty) and wondered if Professor Dumbledore would be offended if he ran far, far away very, very quickly. But before he could get his feet to move, his mouth began to work of its own accord again. It seemed that the deceased Dark Lord possessing Harry wasn't finished torturing him yet.
"Yes, Harry?" Professor Dumbledore asked
"What's so special about your recipe for sherbet lemons? I mean, you can buy those at Honeyduke's."
To Harry's ears, Dumbledore sounded frighteningly pleased to be asked. "Ah, but I have made a slight modification to the ingredients, as a result of a rather happy accident which occurred when your parents were at Hogwarts. One of the House Elves was preparing my usual weekly supply when there was a slight problem. You see, this particular House Elf had the misfortune to suffer from narcolepsy, and she fell asleep halfway through the job.
"Her head fell into the bowl and, well, to put it delicately, a little bit of her…saliva…made its way into the mixture. I never would have thought of it, but I cannot deny that it adds a…certain something to the taste. Would you like to try one and see? I think I may have one left; I'm sure one fell under the desk the other day. It might be a bit fluffy but perhaps that would have as successful an outcome as the last experiment with the recipe, hmm?"
Harry barely managed to suppress his shudder at the thought. "No, thanks," he said hastily. "I think I'll just be getting back to my dorm now, actually."
Realising that it would be much easier to get back to the portrait hole if he could see where he was going, Harry took his glasses from his pocket and put them back on. He was about to walk away when he hesitated, and after debating with himself for a moment, curiosity won out and he turned around to watch the Headmaster enter the Room of Requirement, hoping to catch a glimpse of a drunken Snape being groped by Trelawney.
As Harry's gaze focused on the doorway, Dumbledore's towel slipped.
It was back hair that Harry had spotted earlier.
And the Headmaster's shoulders weren't all that was hairy, either.
Back in Gryffindor Tower, Ron Weasley awoke in confusion for the third time that night as another scream, this one slightly higher than the two that had preceded it, echoed through the halls of Hogwarts.