Title: The Cupcake Conundrum
Warnings: OOCness, crack, AU, paranoid!Snape, did I mention crack?
Summary: Dumbledore decides to hire a fanfiction author for the Muggle Studies position. Snape uncovers the next great threat to the wizarding world.
Hi all, I'm back! I've decided to make February a MyNoWriMo. It's like NaNoWriMo, but just for me. I haven't really been writing lately, so I've decided to get back on that horse the best way I know how: a masochistic writer's challenge. 50k in 30 days.
And before you ask, yes the fanfiction author is modeled after myself. I realize it's a bit self-serving to have Dumbledore call her "clever" and say her stories are "enchanting," but would Dumbledore really hire a fanfiction author if he didn't find them clever and their stories enchanting? It's called suspension of disbelief, people.
"I'm sorry, Albus. I'm not quite sure that I understand." Severus' voice was low and silky and dangerous. "Who exactly did you hire for the Muggle Studies position?"
"Now Severus, I want you to be reasonable. She's really a bright young woman, and who better to teach Muggle Studies than a muggle?" He held out his candy dish to the still young (though he refused to act it) Potions Master. "Laffy taffy? She gave them to me. They're truly delightful, and each wrapper has a funny little joke on it, look here at this one: Why did the melons have a large wedding?"
"Hiring a muggle is foolish enough in its own right," Severus said, ignoring the nauseously bright wrapper being held under his nose, "but to hire a," and here his voice dropped to barely audible levels, "fan fiction author is nothing short of insanity. What's to stop her from writing about this?"
"Because they cantaloupe! Get it? Cantaloupe- can't elope. Isn't that clever?" Dumbledore chuckled and unwrapped the candy. It was lemon flavored. His favorite. "To answer your question Severus, there is nothing stopping her from writing about her experiences here. You also have to understand that everyone will just think it's another one of her fictions. Really, it all works out so perfectly that I'm really surprised that no one has thought of it before. She's a muggle but knows plenty about our world, certainly enough about it to write it realistically, and the Statute of Secrecy remains intact because no one would believe her if she told them about it." He bit into his candy, enjoying the burst of bright, sunshine-y flavor against his tongue.
"This is a bad idea," Severus repeated. "There have been plenty of those fictions written and they all end in one of two ways- the muggle falls in love with me because really all I need is someone to understand me," Severus couldn't help the sneer that curled his upper lip as he said those words. Really, these people were ridiculous. "Or the muggle and I become bitter enemies and they cut me down with only the sharpness of their tongue." Which, really, if they knew his character as well as they claimed to, they would know that very few people on this globe had a sharper tongue than Severus himself. The childish insults thrown at him in these writings did an injustice to the word insult.
"Yes," Dumbledore nodded gravely. "I do see a worrying pattern emerging. You only read fan fictions that have yourself as a main character."
Albus, of course, was one of those few people. "My point is that she is going to come in and expect this to go the way of one of her stories and just make all of our lives difficult in the process." Especially mine, Severus thought, but he did not say it out loud. He didn't want to appear petulant.
"Severus, please understand that she is well aware that this isn't a fan fiction. A psychotic delusion, perhaps, but not a fan fiction. Is she delighted at the idea of making your acquaintance? Yes. Would she enjoy falling in love with you or becoming your bitter enemy? Most likely. However, I do doubt that she will actively work towards either goal. She is coming here for a job; she knows that I expect her to act professionally while she's here. Chasing after you for either reason is not something either of us might consider professional behavior."
"Since when have you ever required someone to act professionally, Albus?"
"Since my Potions Master started fearing the arrival of the new Muggle Studies professor. And believe me Severus, I expect the same from you. You will be civil to her at all times, do you understand me?"
"Of course, Albus," Severus said, holding his head high. "Unless she gives me reason not to."
Dumbledore sighed. "I suppose that's the best that I can expect from you. But I do wish you'd give her a chance. She writes the most enchanting stories, and you are her favorite character."
Severus sniffed. "Even more reason for me to stay away from her."
She was unpacking her things when Severus first saw her. She was rather unprepossessing. Not something that one might expect from a harbinger of doom. She wore denim trousers and a shirt with some sort of anthropomorphic cartoon rabbit on it with the words, "You suck and that's sad" underneath it. Her hair was a bit frizzy and she wore glasses. She was also moving in an odd, spastic manner as she unpacked as she unpacked, her mouth forming silent words.
She looked up and saw Severus and gave a little start. "Whoops," she said taking something long and white from out from inside of her ear. Severus stared at it in macabre fascination. "Sorry. I didn't hear you. Did you know that the whole 'electronics don't work in Hogwarts' thing is just a myth that they tell students so that Muggleborn children don't start a black market racket in Walkmen? I'm supposed to explain that the Muggle Studies classroom has special shielding when I show them stuff like this," she gestured to the little white box that the long white thing was connected to. "Don't know how long I can keep that up. I can't keep a secret for the life of me. It's why I can't ever do a Secret Santa with someone I see all the time, because I'd just be bursting to tell them. And now that I've jabbered at you, hi I'm Blue." She gave a little wave. "I'd shake your hand, but I get the feeling you're not the hand-shaking type. I of course don't need to be told who you are, Severus Snape, Potions Master." Suddenly she gave a little squeak and a clap. "This is soo cool. I can't believe I'm actually here talking to you. I keep thinking that I'm going to wake up in a padded room, restrained and shot full of Thorazine. Until that happens, I'm going to enjoy this. You and Dumbledore are the only ones I've met so far. Maybe I should go meet Hagrid next, or ooh I haven't seen a ghost yet. Maybe I'll go find Moaning Myrtle. You know, in high school-"
"I'm not falling in love with you," Severus blurted out, not sure that he could follow anymore of her tangents.
Blue stopped, blinking. "Umm, okay. Generally guys take me out on at least one date before deciding that, but I get it. You move fast." She shot him an odd look. "Is that what you came here to say?"
"I will not abide by any attempts on your part to sabotage or otherwise disrupt my life," Severus told her sternly in his best scare- the- first- years- shitless manner.
"Hooookay. Well, thanks for that warm welcome, Sev. I really feel like a part of the family now. If it's all the same to you, I'll leave the hugs and tears until after I've finished unpacking, m'kay?" Without waiting for his response, she put the white thing back in her ear and turned back to her suitcase, her hips twitching in time to some invisible drum beat.
Severus left feeling rather consternated. He wasn't sure that he had gotten his message across. Words had never failed him before. He'd just have to get his point across in the following weeks by showing her through his actions. He had to be sure that she wasn't going to attempt any sort of foolishness against his person.
Severus couldn't help but feel jumpy in the days that followed. She was bound to make her move sooner rather than later; after all, this was a dream come true for one of her ilk. He couldn't imagine that she'd be willing to wait over-long to enact her dearest fantasy.
It came a few days into the term. There was a knock at his office door. "Enter," he grunted, all too happy to have a hapless student to take out his frustration on.
"Hi Sev." She had the infuriating habit of calling him Sev. He'd never said anything to her for fear of encouraging her to make him into her enemy. But he was sure that she could interpret the dark glare that he sent her way. Dumbledore kept assuring him that she was a clever girl. Currently, she was holding a brightly colored tray full of some sort of small confection. "I brought a peace offering. I'm not exactly sure what I've done to offend you, but I'm of a mind that cupcakes can fix anything. These cupcakes especially so. These are my chocolate coffee toffee cupcakes with a whipped butter cream and drizzled with caramel. They're one of my two favorite cupcakes in the entire world, the other being a cosmo cupcake, but you don't seem the cosmo kind of guy so I made you these." She held out the tray to him. "So what do you say? I'm willing to settle for lukewarm acquaintances."
So, she was leaning the other way now? Would this blasted woman ever make up her mind? "Miss Blue, I told you, I'm not-"
"Falling in love with me. Yes, I remember that special moment that we had together. They're just cupcakes. Don't read so much into them."
"Yes, but they're your favorite cupcakes."
The woman took a deep, steadying breath. "I couldn't very well ask what your favorite cupcakes were when you'd be convinced that I would use that information to plot an elaborate seduction scheme. So I made you my favorite flavor instead. Because it's bitchin'." She set the tray down on his desk. "Take them or leave them, Sev, but just remember that a cupcake is sometimes just that. And there's no sort of love potion or anything in there. That would mask the subtle coffee flavor of the cake and change the texture of the crumb."
After she left, Severus picked up one of the cupcakes and gave it a sniff. She hadn't lied- his trained sense of smell would have picked up the scent of a potion. Instead all he smelled was coffee and chocolate. He wondered how she had added the toffee component- it had always been his favorite sweet as a child. Bracing himself against any unsuspected danger, he bit in to the cake.
The days passed, and Severus took his time consuming the small cakes, in case they were dangerous in large doses. He couldn't get rid of them, of course, because she had made friends with the house elves and if it ever got back to her that he'd disposed of her gift, she might read that as a sign of aggression. It was really a fine line that he was forced to tread these days.
However, he realized his mistake when at the end of the day he found himself missing the dark flavors of coffee and chocolate, the sweet bits of toffee, the soft cake, and the sweet and creamy frosting. She must have drugged them or something; he was craving them. Surely it was all a part of her plan to have him crawl back to her, begging for more of her sweets.
He'd tried to bring his suspicions to Albus, but instead found the man eating a similar treat topped with bright yellow frosting. "Hello Severus my boy!" he said brightly, unaware of the danger posed by the confection in his hand. "Would you like a cupcake? Blue gave them to me; she calls them Arnold Palmer cupcakes. They're half lemon, half tea and quite good."
Severus backed away slowly. He'd thought to warn the headmaster against the poisonous sweets, but it was clear he was too late. There was no telling how the things had addled his brain. It would be best to keep the truth to himself for the time being. He beat a hasty retreat.
His next hope had been McGonagall, but he entered her office only to find the normally dignified woman giggling like a schoolgirl eating a bright pink cosmo cupcake. Flitwick could be found eating a cherry cordial cupcake, and Sprout with an applesauce cupcake. Madam Pomfrey was found eating something with called a whoopie pie (the name alone would have made Severus stay far, far away from it). In a last desperate attempt, Severus even sought out Hagrid only to find his little hut filled to the brim with plates of various different sweets.
In the end, the only ones Severus could find without those poisoned pastries were Madam Pince, Madam Hooch, and Trelawney. The librarian, the referee, and the fraud. It sounded like the set up to a bad joke, but Severus wasn't laughing. And considering the number of hours this Blue woman spent in the library, Severus wasn't about to trust Madam Pince's judgment anymore than the rest of them. He'd be better off handling this alone.
He went to confront her, finding her in the kitchen. There was something large and purple making quite a bit of noise on the table in front of her. The house elves shot her the occasional disgruntled look, but otherwise let her be. She even had them fooled.
"I know what it is you're doing."
"Sorry?" She looked up at him, blinking. "Oh, hey Sev. Sorry, I couldn't hear you." She fiddled with a lever on the side of the purple thing and it whirred to a stop. "Say it again?"
Severus was rather off-put. It didn't feel quite so threatening having to repeat himself. Still, he squared his shoulders, drew himself up to his full height and looked down his substantial nose. "I know what it is you are doing," he repeated, and added, "and I will not allow it." The added ultimatum certainly brought it back up to the level of threat Severus had wanted.
"Curses," she raised a fist, which Severus noted was covered in flour. "Viola, we've been found out! Who have you told?" She looked over at the purple thing, as though expecting an answer.
Severus' eyes narrowed. She was mocking him. "Miss Blue, this is no laughing matter."
"Oh." She unclenched her fist and wiped her hands on the colorful apron she was wearing. "Sorry, I thought we were doing a bit. What are we talking about?"
This woman was infuriating. Severus kept a tight rein on his temper; he wouldn't allow her to bait him, not after all he'd gone through since she had arrived. "The cupcakes, Miss Blue."
"Oh." She brightened visibly. "Did you like them? I thought you would. You just seem a chocolate coffee toffee kind of guy. Do you want more? I don't have any, but I can make more. They're easy-peasy. I'm making my cannoli cupcakes now, well, I'm making the almond cupcake base for my cannoli cupcakes. Then I have to cool them and core them and fill them with the cannoli cream and frost them with orange cream cheese frosting and then garnish them with the candied citrus peels- if any survive. I just always eat them while I'm waiting. Want some?" She held up a bowl with bright orange strips of candy. "It's just orange peel and sugar. You gotta boil the peel and then…"
She stopped and gave him a sheepish grin. "Sorry. Sugar high. What did you want to say about my cupcakes?"
There was a look on her face that Severus often saw on that of his first-year Hufflepuff students. A look that often meant I tried my best, and I came up with something good. A look aching for his approval. It often took the Hufflepuffs a full year to realize that they would never earn it. "I do not find what you are doing to be appropriate. You are a professor at this institution; you should be conducting yourself with the dignity this position affords you. Not…this." Severus gestured towards her and her loud purple machine and her colorful apron dusted with flour.
She was silent for a moment, and Severus felt gratified that she was giving his words the regard that they deserve. "You know, I never thought we'd be the best of friends. I figured you'd sneer at me every time you saw me, and I was okay with that because it was so Snape, and I'm fangirly enough to like that about you. But what I wasn't expecting were these paranoid delusions you seem to be having that I'm either out to get you or out to seduce you- and you keep changing your mind as to which one. This," she mimicked his hand gesture, "is called baking, and Martha Stewart thinks it's plenty dignified. I'm making cupcakes, not crystal meth, and there are no students here to see me in my disheveled state. Besides, if Dumbledore has no issue with how I conduct myself, then I don't see how what you have to think on the subject should matter."
Severus wanted to accuse her of drugging them all, of trying to take over the castle using her nauseatingly cute pastries, but then he really listened to how the words sounded inside of his head. He knew then and there that he was fighting a losing battle. No one would believe him, and she was never going to stop. Besides, if the Dark Lord had tried to take over the world using cupcakes instead fear, murder, and torture, he might have gotten more people to join him. If he was to be conquered by this mad muggle woman, at least he would be well fed.
"I accept the terms of your truce, Miss Blue." Severus helped himself to one of the candied citrus peels. "I will antagonize you no further." The candy was chewy and not too sweet. "Just tell me one thing: what the devil is that thing?" Severus nodded towards the purple machine.
"This is Viola, my Kitchenaid stand mixer." She said this proudly, as though the words should mean something to him. They didn't. "Viola makes my cupcakes possible. Do you want a cupcake?"
"I thought you were still in the process of making them."
"I always have spare cupcakes, silly. I think I've got some of my French toast, or- ooh!- how about a whoopie pie? I love whoopie pies. Or I think I've got some cookie-stuffed pies here somewhere- let me check in my talking Tardis cookie jar…"
The road to hell, Severus found, was not paved with good intentions, but with cupcakes. He never knew the devil was such a frosting afficianado.
A/N: I'm not really sure where this came from. The premise had been rattling around in my head for some time, but I didn't expect this to turn out this cracky. Paranoid!Snape was an unexpected guest.
The recipe for chocolate coffee toffee cupcakes can be found on my livejournal, the cosmo cupcakes can be found on Bakingdom (bakingdom (dot) com), the Arnold Palmer recipe I'm currently working on. Anything else can be found on my blog treatstrinkets (dot) blogspot (dot) com