Warnings: Alternate relationships and ages for some characters to meet prompt needs.
The world of Harry Potter, its characters and settings are the copyrighted works of J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., her publishing companies and affiliates. No profit was made from the writing of this story nor was any malice intended in any way, shape or form to the author or the actors/actresses who so brilliantly have brought them to life.
This author is not responsible for underage readers. Please observe the ratings, warnings, and age of legal consent for your country.
“He’s never been in love. Never! I don’t want to marry someone I don’t love!” Eileen Prince looked over her shoulder and shuddered. She fumed to herself, Her father wouldn’t tell her what she could and could not do! The Daffy Daisy she was shredding in her agitation finally yelped and let go of its last petals as Eileen tugged them roughly from the whimpering flower.
Suddenly, a twig snapped somewhere to the left and behind her, and the tame pheasants scurried away from her side with startled cries. Eileen stiffened, her senses reaching out, trying to sense the subtle change of a waxing magical signature. She never heard the man approach her until the faint rustle of wings made her jump up from the stone bench and whirl around in anger, a sharp cutting hex on her lips.
It died before her lips could form the first word, a bare puff of surprised air let out in a surprised sigh. Eileen looked up, and up, to see a man, a very handsome man, in dark robes, with a slightly elfin cast to his features who gazed interestedly down at her.
“What are you doing in our garden?” Eileen asked coolly. Her wand was hidden up her sleeve, squirming down into her hand at her silent command as the man surveyed her from crown to feet, eyes lingering on her waist. “Answer me, sir,” she demanded. Her wand slid into her hand and she clutched it like a life-line.
“I am Tobias ffister-Snape. Your father said I would find you here, waiting to become my affianced,” the paragon of beauty drawled. His shoulders twitched and then stilled as he stepped closer, sniffing the air. He leaned nearer Eileen and scented the space where she stood.
“What are you?” Eileen backed away, her wand coming out, wavering only slightly as she began incanting. “Proteg—”
Tobias knocked her wand away with a glossy, midnight blue wingtip. Eileen’s eyes grew as big as saucers as she realized why her father had sold her and her bloodline’s magic so easily: Tobias was a bloody Veela!
Forty-three Years Later…and a Lifetime of Changes
Severus Snape sighed and rubbed his temples with both index fingers. He’d been fighting a migraine for hours, but his erstwhile assistant, Pansy Parkinson, kept droning on about love and commitment and...and drivel like that, ignoring the pained look on his face. Finally, her teeth clacked together in irritation and she slammed her Dicto-pad and the latest menus on his desk. Severus jumped a little in surprise.
“You can be a real prick...sir.” She huffed and slid the Dicto-pad aside to rest one shapely hip on his polished English walnut desk. “I don’t know why I try. I mean, here you are, successful, relatively urbane, considered a prime catch—for some odd reason—and you successfully dodge commitment like other men dodge Quaffles.” Pansy crossed her arms and glared at her boss. “You really need to settle down, Severus. You’re not forty anymore.”
“Thank you for that rambling invective, Parkinson.” He scowled darkly and winced, his right index finger digging into the throbbing muscle at his temple. “I don’t dodge anything but well-intentioned Gryffindors and Albus Dumbledore. Since he’s one and the same, I’m only tap-dancing around one immovable object.”
“And you say I don’t make sense?” Pansy asked rhetorically. “Accio Guillotine’s Headache Remover!” A compact bottle banged into the partially-open door to the loo and then bumped around it to fly into Pansy’s hand. She sniffed. “You know you could brew better than this on your worst day. Why do you persist in using this dreck?” She held out her hand, waiting for Severus to reach for the migraine potion. She counted to ten in Ancient Mermish before one of his hands darted out and snatched the bottle away.
“For your information, this is the last of Guillotine’s remedy, Parkinson. Nothing, no sex, no drugs, no corporate takeover, nothing will ease the pain of my migraines anymore.” Severus loosened the stopper and sniffed the slightly bitter aroma coming from the bottle. “I never found the recipe for Guillotine’s remedy, and his family’s died off so there’s no one to bully into revealing it,” he said softly. Then he put the bottle to his lips and quaffed the mysterious potion in one swallow. Almost immediately his colour went from parchment pale to simply sallow, the tight expression on his face smoothed out, and his lips widened from a sour purse to a wickedly enticing smirk.
“See? Better already. And I’ll stay that way if you stop trying to run my love life.” He didn’t have to open his eyes to know Pansy was rolling her eyes as his words, but it was all part of their rapport. He sighed and opened his eyes, finally looking directly at his assistant. “Just give me ten minutes, Pansy. Keep the dragons and the Gryffindors from darkening my doorstep or flaming in my Floo, will you?”
“Oh, bother! You’re asking nicely, aren’t you?” Pansy smiled and shook her head. “Yes, I can do that. I can even do it for twenty minutes.” She stared pointedly at the long, plump sofa behind Severus. “You lie down and be quiet for fifteen of those twenty minutes and I won’t mention words like commitment, prick, or Gryffindor until tomorrow.” She stuck her hand out—very unlike a Slytherin—and asked saucily, “Deal?”
“You’ve been watching—” Severus bit his tongue as he avoided the Gryf—the name of the young man Pansy was lusting after. Pansy glared and pushed her hand forward once more. Severus shook it silently and then turned, removed his suit coat, and laid down on the sofa, his right arm flopping over his eyes. He grimaced as Pansy slammed the door behind her.
“Seems I’m not the only one with Gryffindor issues...” he sighed as Guillotine’s potion finally pulled him to sleep.
“Remus, you’ve got to stop trying to—”
“Trying to do what, Dobby? Trying to not be a werewolf? Try to be a father to Harry? Try to make a success of the only job the Ministry can’t strip from me? Ever since Lily and James died I’ve been so lost, so lonely.” He looked through the viewing window to see a teen-aged boy with messy hair, head buried in a comic. “I’ve got to make The Moon Song a going concern again or I’ll lose him.”
Dobby Helf, sous-chef and general factotum sighed and tried to think of some way to ease his new boss’ grief over the deaths of his old bosses, Lily and James Potter. “Remus, I know the Potters wouldn’t want you stressing over this.” Dobby kept chopping carrots and onions, tossing them into a simmering pot nearby.
“They’d want their son to have a future, to have security.” Remus sank down on a barstool and rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hands. “I’ve never...”
The kitchen doors swung open as the only waitress still working at the Moon Song pushed through with the dishes she’d cleared from the tables. Her order pad bobbed behind and then got stuck in between the doors, fluttering weakly until Dobby took pity on the poor thing and summoned it with a snap of his fingers. “Oh, yeah, thanks, Dobs.” Her hair flickered from completely blue to turquoise with red tips, her version of a blush. She put the full platter of plates and cups—the only things she didn’t waft through the air—down on the kitchen island gingerly since every broken dish came out of her ever-shrinking wages.
“Um, Remus?” she asked. “You might want to make food that, um, yeah...” the waitress looked everywhere but at Remus as she finished almost too softly to hear, “is edible.”
“Tonks, I’ve followed Lily’s recipes to the letter.” Remus slid off the barstool and began pacing. “Every step is perfect. Every vegetable is fresh. What the hell am I missing?”
“Well, Mum always wore Grandma Potter’s choker when she cooked.” No one had heard Harry slip into the kitchen. When the other three looked at him, he nervously pushed his glasses farther up his nose. “She said Grandma was an absolute genius at creating good food.”
Dobby smiled into his vegetable stock. Tonks stepped backward and knocked a stack of pot lids over, sending the across the floor with a pained groan. Remus didn’t even reprimand her as he stroked two fingers across his throat. Dobby jerked his head and motioned for Tonks to pick up the lids and very carefully set them on the counter once more, then he blinked and the kitchen doors opened and he gestured for Tonks to leave. Harry stepped closer to Remus and began tugging him toward a blue door in the corner of the kitchen.
“C’mon, Uncle Remus, c’mon.”
Remus half-jokingly murmured, “I don’t think I’ll look good in pearls, Harry.”
“I don’t care. I just don’t want to go to Aunt Petunia.” Harry shuddered and looked over his shoulder. “Cousin Dudley’s taken up boxing, Remus,” he whispered.
Remus pulled the boy back and hugged him quickly and then turned him toward the door. “Then I’d better learn to like pearls, eh?” he said weakly as he followed Harry.
“Mr. Weasley, I work for Albus. You just happen be superior only in position, not in authority.” Severus walked away from his mirror, his morning pep talk finished.
The mirror called out after him. “You’ll be running the company soon, Sevvie, dear!” Severus pinched the bridge of his nose, hiding a small smile as he did so. His mother’s words always made it a bit easier to start the day.
His shoulder blades itched and he absently leaned against the doorframe and shifted over the dull edge a few times until the irritation lessened. The itching had been happening every morning since his forty-third birthday, but Severus remembered his mother telling him he’d had allergies until the age of four so he thought nothing of it. He twitched and tried to scratch the itches without any pressure, but like always, they receded after half-an-hour.
“...I work for Albus. You just happen to be superior...
His driver smirked as he glanced from side to side before making his turn. Every morning was always the same. The man’s routine was set in stone.
The driver—another young man by the name of Weasley—pulled up to the curb of Hogwarts Castle, the most exclusive shopping experience in Wizarding Britain, and then jumped out to stand at attention for twenty seconds before opening Severus’ door. “Thank you, Weasley,” Severus murmured distractedly as he noticed everything in front of the store.
Hours passed and Severus’ migraine had grown as he remembered Guillotine’s miraculous potion was no more and his current beau—Rabastan Lestrange—invited him for a quick bite. He’d found the man scribbling in his calendar, setting aside dates for “special” business meetings in “romantic” Devon, dreamy get-a-ways in the heart of Pureblood territory, and all the folderol that Lestrange thought made up their almost nonexistent relationship. It would be their fourth date and Severus was actually looking forward to breaking things off with the prat, yet the sex was good...when Severus’ brain wasn’t experiencing explosions every five minutes. It would be a close decision.
Pansy called for the car. Severus and Rabastan walked gingerly and minced floatingly, respectively, to the car and then orders were given for Le Chat Mal de Foi. Neither one noticed it wasn’t the regular Weasley driving and when they exited the car, both of them were shocked to find themselves blocks from the expensive restaurant.
Severus leaned down and squinted at the driver, who he would have sworn was a young Albus Dumbledore grinning insouciantly back at him. He muttered, “We were going to Le Chat—”
“Oh, Severus, do I have to do everything for you?” The young man—auburn-haired even if he wasn’t the regular Weasley—shook his head and sped off, leaving Rabastan open-mouthed and Severus wishing for a real guillotine to remove all the pains in his aching head. Severus winced, but not as much as during the trip to wherever they were.
“Can I help you, sir?”
The voice was a soft tenor, gentle on his ears. Severus turned and found a man, hopefully his age judging by the grey in his hair, but with a young face, standing on the sidewalk outside a cafe called the Moon Song. For some reason, Severus’ migraine seemed to diminish as he looked at the stranger...that was, until Rabastan began his rapid-fire discourse on anything and nothing.
“Severus, you can’t mean to take me in there, can you?” Rabastan’s fingers whitened a bit on the handle of his briefcase but he passed through the door that the stranger held open for them. “I’d better not get fleas, Severus.”
“Couldn’t be anything but an improvement,” Severus muttered under his breath. The stranger choked back a chuckle as he swept in behind the pair.
“I’m Remus Lupin. Welcome to the Moon Song.” He fidgeted with something under his collar and then sighed. “We’re having a special on crabs,” his pointed glance at Rabastan that went over that man’s head, but Severus bit his lip to keep from grinning in response, “Actually, today’s special is Crab Napoleon and...”
Rabastan interrupted Remus. “I’ll have a simple chicken paillard and a salad.” He stared narrowly at Remus until Severus politely interjected, “Crab Napoleon for me.” Remus nodded and turned away. Severus’ eyes followed him as he pointedly ignored Rabastan.
That was until he heard... “...so much closer. My brother and his wife are looking forward to meeting you this weekend.”
“Rabastan, we’ve only gone on a few dates...”
Lestrange reached out and weaved his fingers with Severus’. “I knew you’d understand, Severus. It’s meant to be.”
Severus’ shoulder blades seemed to burn as he fought to keep his temper.
Remus pushed into the kitchen and then turned to look through the viewing window. “He’s bloody gorgeous and polite and he’s keeping coming with a git!” he exclaimed in a whisper.
“Who is?” Harry asked. He sidled over to the door and pushed it open a bit to peek at the only customers in the room. “Huh. Which one?”
“The one with the thin face, Harry. He’s, he’s...damn, he’s gorgeous and out of my league and...” Remus opened the refrigerated space and pulled out a chicken breast. “Dobby, I need you to pop out and get us some crabs. I’m going to make crab Napoleon for the handsome one.”
“Um, Uncle Remus, the handsome one is a git, remember?” Harry teased. He laughed when Remus bared his teeth at him. “You really like the thin guy?” Harry peeked through the door again. “Well, he’s like Dad, with that black hair. And he’s got those fluttery hands, too, you know?”
“Harry!” Remus hissed. “Get away from the door and help.” Remus brushed the back of his curled fingers against the Transfigured pearls at his throat. “I wish your mother was here, Harry. She knew how to cook food so good that men fell at her feet.”
“You’re wearing Grandma’s pearls, and I know Mum wore them, too, so it’s kind of like she’s here, isn’t it?” Harry’s eyes were big and green and held both the grief and the hope of a boy who’d lost his parents.
Remus couldn’t, wouldn’t do anything to let the grief win. “Yes, you’re right, Harry. Just like she’s whispering her best recipes to me.” Remus looked at the chicken breast and muttered, “Lily would have given that peacock of a prat a few choice words when he came in, with his perfect hair, his perfect smile...his bloody perfect everything! She’d have stepped on his perfect toes and smiled.” He pounded it with the meat mallet until it was falling apart and then threw it into a sizzling pan. “When did I do the pan?” he asked.
“Um, Remus, Mum had a spell that gets the pots and pans ready, remember?” Harry stepped aside just before Dobby popped back in, a small bushel of crabs in his arms.
“Oh, Merlin! I said Crab Napoleon, didn’t I?” Remus moaned and shook his head. “Shite!”
Dobby just grinned. “I’ll put them on the boil, you just...you know, channel the Mrs. Potters, all right?” Dobby closed his eyes and a breath of magic swept through the kitchen.
As the chicken cooked, Harry chopped vegetables and made a salad. Tonks watched as food floated through the air, pirouetting and tumbling toward the dishes. She plucked a carrot stick from the air and munched on it as the dishes came together. Dobby’s boiled crabs were done quickly and he nudged Remus—to get his attention—and then sent some to hover over Remus’ cutting board.
Remus accepted two crabs, cracked their shells, picked out the meat, and as Harry ran between him and Dobby, and the pearl collar warmed around Remus’ neck, the crab Napoleon took shape. “I want to make something special one day. Something that’s succulent and delicious and.... Have you ever noticed how many words there are to describe great flavours? Luscious, juicy, tempting...” In the blink of an eye it seemed as if Remus had created a masterpiece and Tonks—now hiding in the corner as dishes flew around her—and Dobby, even Harry, were shocked at how gorgeous the presentation was.
“You made that?” Tonks said softly. She reached out, only to have her hand swatted by Dobby. “Ow. I mean, it’s Remus.” She looked at it and licked her lips. “Is it edible?”
“Well, take it out and feed it to the thin one. If he croaks, we’ll know Remus can’t cook for anything.” Harry crossed his arms and nodded sagely while Dobby chuckled.
When Tonks didn’t move, Remus shook his head and wiped his hands on a bar towel. “Fine! I’ll serve them then.”
Severus could smell the divine combination of complex, yet complementary flavours coming from the crab Napoleon. He completely ignored Rabastan as the plate slid to a stop in front of him. His first bite was almost orgasmic, his second one made his migraine evaporate, and the third had him flexing his shoulder blades as if he were flapping invisible wings. His eyes closed in bliss as he savoured every bite.
“...a prick! I’m perfect! Perfect hair, perfect arse, perfect cock, and I are sorry if you can’t see how perfect I am for you!” Rabastan railed as he stuffed his face. When he scooped up a dollop of potatoes and flung it into Severus’ face, he laughed delightedly. “Gods, I feel better. I’m going to take my perfect self and leave your imperfect self here.” To punctuate his happiness, Rabastan tossed several plates and a few glasses toward the empty booths. “That for you, you cold bastard!”
Severus never opened his eyes. The look on his face was that of a man in the presence of sublime joy. “Yeah, yeah.... Did you know how many words that mean succulent there are?” Severus whispered in response. He absentmindedly wiped the potatoes away and took his last bite of crab with an almost forlorn sigh. “Delicious...succulent...magnificent...so good...”
The bells over the door jingled after Rabastan left, yet Severus only had eyes for the kitchen doors. He waited until Remus came back with the check, his eyes—a fine mix of light blue and hazel—widening at the sight of food all over his dining area. Severus plucked the bill of fare from Remus’ fingers easily and then stood up. “Send me the bill for the cleaning and the dishes.” He handed his card to the bemused restaurateur. “My name’s Snape, Severus Snape. You can find me at Hogwarts Castle.” He walked out, a bounce in his step. Neither one of them noticed the smattering of blue-black pinfeathers under Severus’ chair.
Pansy met her boss at the door of his office with a smirk. “I see you’ve learned feed yourself finally.” She wiped a bit of mashed potatoes from his chin. “Wearing your food to show how healthy it is?”
Severus twitched his shoulders and then grinned. She stepped back in shock.
“I had the most luscious crab Napoleon for lunch. The potatoes were Rabastan’s.” Severus waved his hand and whatever food was on him disappeared. “There, better?” His grin shrank, but didn’t entirely go away. “You would have enjoyed it, Pansy.”
“I think you need to go to St. Mungo’s, sir,” Pansy said as she backed away. “Just, just sit down and I’ll be right back.”
Severus’ door barely closed behind his assistant when Charlie Weasley—the Gryffindor that wrecked havoc with Pansy’s equilibrium—stepped through in all his young, virile, straight glory. “Severus, we need to talk about the gala...”
“Ah, Charles, so good of you to come in.” Severus’ good mood was still holding as his migraine seemed destined to leave him alone for the rest of the day. For the better part of an hour, the gala plans were discussed, reorganized, and then finally settled upon. Severus had never had such a pleasant, productive meeting with Weasley, or anyone else, before.
“Severus, here are your—” Pansy’s words stopped abruptly when she saw Charlie. She shivered and then whirled around and left Severus’ office.
“What’s her problem?” Charlie asked, eyebrows climbing up his forehead.
“Hm? Oh, Gryffindor problems.” Severus’ smirked to himself as Charlie stared at the door, his interest finally caught. Charles twisted in his seat and began asking Severus all sorts of inappropriate questions about Pansy.
A few days later, Remus had come into Hogwarts and chose dishes and glasses to replace those Rabastan had broken. By accident, Severus had met the man at the main doors and lost track of the time as Remus’ soft tenor washed over him again. If the man had been a pastry, Severus would have licked the cream-filling out of him, regardless of who’d see them.
Severus’ shoulder blades stopped twitching and itching on a Wednesday, after yet another visit to the Moon Song. That time, he’d had a miniature version of the Original Sacher-Torte so sinfully chocolaty that he really had had to fight himself so as not to sweep Remus off his feet. Not that he’d cared, but normally he was the most thorough and cool of men. Something was going on!
He’d brought a dozen of the miniature desserts back with him. He’d set them on his desk, a soft smile curling his lips just so. Pansy shrieked and cast Riddikulus over and over even as Severus laughed at her. Finally, her magic waned and she sagged against the doorframe when in walked her own fantasy. Pansy coloured up, looked from Severus’ now openly grinning face to Charlie’s bemused one and dove for the Moon Song box.
“Try-try one, Mr. Weasley,” Pansy barely got out, her cheeks aflame. Severus rolled his eyes but gestured for Charlie to go ahead.
“They are delicious, Charles. We might want to put them on our dessert menu, if we can convince the creator to share them.”
Charlie bit into his treat as his eyes met Pansy’s. He chewed, blinked, and swallowed. As he licked his lips, he reached out and plucked another torte from the box and held it to Pansy’s lips. “Try this, Miss Parkinson, you’ll love,” he said in a husky voice.
Severus’ eyes widened as his personal assistant leaned forward and bit into the dessert Charlie still held. Her eyes never left Charlie’s as she bit, chewed, swallowed, and then licked her lips lasciviously. Severus felt superfluous and edged around the two and out of his office, his mind racing. As the door swung shut behind him, he heard a muted Locking charm and felt a burst of what felt like Pansy’s magic overlapping it.
He was effectively locked out of his office, but what he’d seen had triggered a cascade of thoughts, dark, dangerous thoughts. Remus Lupin and the Moon Song food had been laced with something mind-altering!
The smile on Severus’ face slid away and was replaced by a snarl as he snapped at assistants and floor personnel to get out of his way. He strode through the halls of Hogwarts in a foul mood, leaving behind frazzled nerves and a few sore toes.
Remus fairly floated through the Moon Song’s kitchen, his dishes fantastically presented, remarkably tasty, and bringing customers like when Lily and before her, her mother-in-law, had been there. Dobby kept pinching himself, and casting sly glances at the pearl collar Remus seemed to never be without nowadays. Harry was more relaxed, seating folks after school, bringing home tales of how the bullies at school had finally left off hassling him as he’d share some of the lunches Remus sent with him. Even Tonks, perennially tripping and dropping things had become a graceful waitress, one for whom everyone loved to leave a generous tip.
“You look really happy, Uncle Remus,” Harry said one day. He was shelling peas, eating two for every four he got into the bowl. “That pale fellow seems to like coming here a lot, you know.”
“If you mean Mr. Snape, then I agree with you, Harry.” Remus set the last filet mignon into his special marinade and covered them with a sheet of aluminium foil. “He’s...he’s a bit forceful, but he loves good cooking and you should see him in the kitchen, Harry—”
“He’s a bit young to see what you and Mr. Snape get up to, Remus,” Dobby interjected. Remus threw a wadded-up dishcloth at Dobby as Harry laughed.
They were still chuckling when Tonks pushed open the swinging doors, a puzzled frown on her face. “Um, Remus, that bloke you’ve been cooking for after hours, he’s outside...” she looked over her shoulder, “and he doesn’t look like he’s here for more mini-Sacher-Tortes.” She barely had time to move out of the way as Severus pushed past her.
“Lupin,” Severus growled. “What have you been doing to me? Your food’s laced with magic! You’ve been unduly influencing me and I demand you stop!” Severus’ finger poked into Remus’ chest, punctuating each word. “You’re playing with fire if you think I’ll let you get away with this!”
A growl of his own slipped past Remus’ lips. He grabbed Severus, and even though he was shorter, he lifted Severus up so that he was dangling from Remus’ hands, his expensive loafers skimming the floor as he stared in surprise at Remus’ startled face.
“Severus Snape, I wouldn’t have expected such childish ravings from you,” Remus said slowly and distinctly. “I only cook. A bit better now that I wear a talisman from my sister, but that’s the only difference. Dobby can tell you that’s the only thing that’s changed in my life—at least aside from meeting you—and Harry’s the one that gave me Lily’s pearls, so whatever you’re on about, you can just take a deep breath and think very carefully before saying anything else.” Remus gave Severus a quick shake and set him down and then let go of him.
Harry sidled closer to Remus and grabbed his arm. “You’re a git!” he said feelingly. “My uncle hasn’t done anything wrong, except maybe let you into the Moon Song that day.” He shook his messy head and tugged Remus away toward the door to their rooms above the cafe. “Don’t know why he likes, you’re nothing but a bully.” With that parting shot, Harry dragged Remus away, leaving Severus in the kitchen, fuming but lacking anyone to verbally flay...except for Dobby as Tonks had run away with Severus’ first outburst.
“You!” Severus stalked over to Dobby and glared at him. “You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? I can see it in your eyes.”
Dobby laughed, right in Severus’ face, and snapped his fingers. Severus’ shoulder blades went from being quiescent to blazing pain as something burst through his very expensive, very fine suit coat. Dobby grinned and went back to chopping whatever it was he’d been chopping as Severus yowled and tried to reach his shoulders. After a few minutes, Severus leaned over the island, tears sluggishly falling down his face.
“What did you do to me?” he finally groaned out.
“I answered one of your questions.” Dobby put the chopped vegetables into a pot, wiped up his area, set the cutting board into the sink, and then turned to look at Severus, shaking his head. “I would have thought you were a smart man, but looks can be deceiving, can’t they?” Dobby asked facetiously. He bustled around the eerily quiet kitchen, giving Severus time to think.
“You...you release a hidden part of my lineage,” Severus said quietly.
“Yes.” Dobby filled the sink and set the scrubbers to cleaning the dishes and his cutting board.
“How did you know?”
“When one is as special as I, it’s remarkably easy to tell who has a bit of something extra.” Dobby leaned a hip against the counter and stared at Severus. “You have more in common with Remus than just good cooking and chemistry, Mr. Snape.”
“Why?” burst out past Severus’ white lips.
“Why not?” Dobby’s eyebrows quirked. “Remus believes the Transfigured pearl necklace he wears allows him to cook like his adopted sister and her mother-in-law. His self-confidence has grown, his nephew is happier since he’s happier, and this place—the only home Harry has ever known—has revived the neighbourhood.
“And then you came into our lives, someone Remus has been waiting for his whole life and you made him ecstatic, thus improving his cooking even more. You made him feel giddy and hopeful. Of course, the fact you’re half-Veela helps. Only someone with that extra bit of magic could appeal to Remus for more than a few days.”
Severus ground his teeth, the things that had burst out of him twitching and stretching. “I’ve got wings, don’t I?” he asked with a grimace.
“Yes, midnight blue most likely.” Dobby craned his neck to the side and took a long look. “I’d say you’re related to the ffister-Snapes, eh? I’ve only seen that shade in the pommy ones from Cornwall.” He snapped his fingers and the pain Severus had been feeling lessened and he could stand without holding onto the counter. “That should help.”
“How do you know so much about the ffister-Snapes and Veelas?” Severus asked, unconsciously shaking as if fluffing his feathers. His wand slipped into his hand, an unlooked for bonus.
Dobby just grinned and blinked, vanishing with a soft pop only to reappear behind Severus. “You wizards are all alike, cast first and ask questions far too late.” Dobby touched Severus right on the spine, dead centre between Severus’ wings. “Feel that? You should feel calmer now, more ready for the next phase.”
“The next phase?” Severus jerked away from Dobby’s finger, only to find he was standing in his office, in front of his desk.
The open, empty box of miniature Original Sacher-Tortes was lying on it, a dainty hand feeling blindly around until Severus gave a loud harrumph.
Charlie’s head popped up, followed by Pansy’s, a love-bit barely hidden by her hastily-buttoned blouse. “Oh, Severus,” Charlie said brightly. He stood up quickly, and then gallantly gave Pansy a hand up. “Delicious doesn’t being to describe the...” Charlie looked from the empty box to Pansy, “desserts. I think we need these for the restaurant grand opening, don’t you, Miss Parkinson?” Charlie reached out and straightened Pansy’s collar before stepping around Severus’ desk. “See to it, won’t you, Snape?”
“And, Miss Parkinson, I look forward to...collaborating with you again,” Charlie said, a slight blush on his cheeks. He left, a backward glance almost singeing Severus as it was thrown toward Pansy.
“What the hell was that, Parkinson?” Severus demanded. His shoulder blades twitched as his temper flared.
“That, boss, was one hell of a dessert break.” Pansy bent down and grabbed something from the floor. Severus saw it was her wand. She gave it an exaggerated swish and whatever was out of place seemed to be righted if her contented sigh was anything to go by. “Thanks for bringing those divine treats back with you. Give me the name of the baker and I’ll get a few dozen more to make up for stealing yours.”
“I don’t ever want to eat anything from the Moon Song again,” Severus barked. Again, his shoulder blades twitched, but this time, Severus noticed Pansy didn’t notice anything strange happening behind him.
“Well, your loss. If it weren’t for those tortes, I never would have even kissed Charlie, let alone found out he’s been wondering about me as well.” Pansy preened a bit. “I’d say those were made with love, Severus, and now that I’ve had some, I can see why you were so happy.”
“By the way, why aren’t you so creepily happy anymore?” Pansy suddenly asked.
“Mind control. The food’s laced with mind-controlling magic.” Severus turned away from Pansy. “I won’t be controlled.”
Pansy had the audacity to laugh. “Controlled by love? Oh, I always thought you were smart, Severus, but this? This is ignorant. Love means you have someone to lose control with, not be controlled by.” She shook her head, and tsked. “Well, the address is on the box, so I guess I’m going to pay a visit to this poor baker and let him know that someone learned that his ingredients are the best love can make.” She snatched the box off Severus’ desk and marched out of his office.
Severus looked out the window, but he only saw his reflection. The fact that the ghostly outline of wings could be seen made him close his eyes and wish things had gone differently.
Pansy pushed open the door to the Moon Song cafe and sighed happily. If the food was laced with anything but quality ingredients and tender, loving care, she’d eat her wand. The place smelled heavenly, even if the clientele were almost silent as they ate. Charlie came in after her, sniffing appreciatively, and then directed Pansy to one of the few open tables.
“If you’re right, this place is a hidden treasure, Pansy,” Charlie murmured as he picked up her hand and kissed the back.
“It’s a treasure, all right.” Pansy looked around and noticed everyone was quietly eating and gazing at their companions, not so much silently as reverent of the food and the company. “Today seems very thoughtful.” She spotted the waitress and waved her over.
“May I get you something to drink?” Tonks asked. Her pad bobbed behind her, quill poised at the ready.
“Pansy?” Charlie asked.
“Thank you, Charlie, so polite. I’ll have some Turkish coffee and some chilled water, please.”
“Same for me. Today’s an adventure.” Charlie smiled at Tonks, but his eyes were on Pansy.
“Oh, and, miss? Could I meet your boss, Mr. Lupin?” Tonks looked at Pansy, a martial glint in her eye that Pansy recognized. “I’m here to help, if I can,” Pansy said softly.
“Well, then, two Turkish coffees, two chilled waters, and today’s special, since I know you’ll ask for that, too,” Tonks said with a relieved grin. “Anyone wanting to help Remus is all right by me.” She turned, tripped over her own feet and then laughed as she made her way to the kitchen.
Charlie looked at his new lover with a speculative gleam in his eye. “I see you’re a matchmaker, too, Pansy.” He reached across the table and took one of her hands into his own. “Somehow, I think you’ll fit right in with the family.” His smile was sly, but warm.
“Charles Weasley, you have hidden craftiness in you.” Pansy leaned across the table and grinned. “I do so like that.”
“Ah, you wanted to see me?” Remus stood next to their table, a copper tray with two small coffee cups and a pot of what smelled like genuine Turkish coffee, and two dewy glasses of water, in his hands.
“Hello, Mr. Lupin. I’m Pansy Parkinson, and I work at Hogwarts Castle. The lovely gentleman with me is Charles Weasley, owner of Hogwarts Castle. We’d like to talk to you about your desserts,” Pansy said without taking a breath. Lupin’s eyes had widened and the tray shook enough that Charlie had reached up to grab it and put it on the table. “Won’t you sit with us for a bit?”
“I, um...You work with Severus Snape, then?” Remus asked. Charlie pushed a glass of water into Remus’ hand. Remus nodded his thanks and took a gulp.
Pansy patted Remus’ other hand. “I’m his personal assistant, but don’t let that colour your perceptions about me. I don’t think you want to control my mind, Mr. Lupin. I think you’re what my Grand’Mere called a culinary savant, and we’d like you to make your desserts—and anything else you think you’d like to make—for our restaurant grand opening.” Pansy looked at Charlie and he nodded.
“It’s a good way for your cafe to get exposure, Mr. Lupin, and quite honestly, your tortes reminded me of Grandma Weasley’s cooking, they were so filled with love as well as good ingredients,” Charlie said kindly. He pushed one of the cups across to Pansy, the scent of thick Turkish coffee rising in the air. He poured his cup and toasted Remus. “Mr. Lupin, I think this would both put Severus’ nose out of joint and give you an opportunity to show him what he’s missing. What do you say?”
Remus looked from Pansy to Charlie, his mobile face showing every emotion: distrust, thoughtfulness, mischief, relief. “You know, I’m sick and tired of feeling like I did something wrong. I’ll make a hundred mini-tortes and whatever else you’d like for your grand opening. Severus Snape will have to put up with it.” He put his shoulders back and grinned. “Somehow, this could be fun.”
Charlie reached out and Remus shook his hand. “Thank you, Mr. Lupin. Can I call you Remus?” he asked. “Now, what’s today’s special? Everyone seems very intent on it.”
“Oh, it’s something simple pork chops over sautéed onions, a salad of tomato, green bell peppers and onions, and candied apples. My mother always made it when we needed our spirits picked-up.” Remus looked around. “I didn’t realize just how many I’d made today.”
“Hey, boss, Dobby wants you in the kitchen. Said whatever you put in the oven was burning.” Tonks passed the plates without missing a beat, or spilling anything, and backed away, her tray whizzing back to a slot in the wall. “Can I get you anything else?” she asked Pansy.
“No, thank you.” Pansy looked at Remus. “And thank you, Mr. Lupin. Somehow, we’ll show Severus what he’s missing, and it won’t just be your cooking.” She cut into her pork chop, and sniffed. “Smells wonderful.”
Charlie cut his pork chop into pieces and speared one, added the candied apples, and put the combination into his mouth. He chewed slowly, savouring every subtle flavour that burst on his tongue. He scooped up some of the salad and sniffed the apple cider vinegar and hints of salt before eating it. “Mm, delicious,” he murmured.
Remus excused himself and left Pansy and Charlie to their food as he planned out what else he could make for Hogwarts. “Severus Snape, you won’t know what hits you,” Remus said to himself.
Harry held one of the swinging doors open just as Remus wandered through, ingredients being mumbled as he tried to think up perfect desserts. Harry watched his uncle search the desk in the corner of the kitchen, the pearl collar glinting in the afternoon light. Then he looked into the dining room and smiled. “Just like when Mum was here,” he whispered.
Dobby popped next to him. “For such a young man, you’re awfully smart, Harry,” he murmured.
Harry’s green eyes shone with happiness. “It’s home again, Dobby. Uncle Remus made this my home again.”
“Yeah, he did, so now get away from the door before Tonks beheads you with one of her trays.” Dobby looked over Harry’s head as the doors closed, nodding as he saw the looks of thoughtful contemplation on the customers’ faces.
Severus Snape had never had dreams like the ones that plagued him that night. Dreams of dark wings and making love in the air over the Thames. Dreams that were filled with Remus’ soft voice pleading for more: more kisses, more caresses, more tender strokes. If Severus had set a recording charm, he would have seen his body rising from the bed, his wings solidifying and beating the air, but he didn’t, and the portraits in his house—of his grandmother and grandfather—didn’t speak of what they heard in the night.
Hours after waking exhausted, and horny, Severus snarled at the latest change in the Hogwarts Castle restaurant grand opening. The note was written in Charles’ hand, but he could sense Pansy’s interfering mind behind the words.
I’ve paid a visit to the Moon Song and met with Mr. Lupin. He’ll be by with several desserts for a taste test in three days. I want two or three special desserts for the grand opening, as well as those wonderful mini-tortes.
I’ll expect you to be available when Mr. Lupin comes.
Severus pinched the bridge of his nose and thought that the day couldn’t get worse.
“Severus? Severus, yoo hoo!”
Severus gestured and his door opened. “Hello, Mother.”
“...and this will be the jewel in Hogwarts Castle’s crown, the Grand Hall Restaurant.” Severus waved his arm like a Muggle conjurer, making his mother stifle a grin behind her hand.
“Now that you’ve had a tour, care to tell me why you didn’t send me an owl or Floo me beforehand?” Severus crossed his arms over his chest and stared down into his mother’s face, his eyes just as dark as hers, his nose just as regal as hers.
“Dear, your father reminded me it was your forty-third Spring,” Eileen said gently. “I...we...we have been remiss in educating you about your lineage.”
“You mean that Father is a Veela, which makes me not a Pureblood? That lineage, Mother?” Severus said sarcastically.
“Oh, Severus, I’m so sorry. For so many years I was irked that your Grandfather Prince sold me to Tobias.” His mother pressed a hand to her heart and faked a sniff. Severus had a hard time keeping his emotions in check. When Eileen got no reaction but a stony glare, she dropped the act.
“Fine, then. I hated Tobias when I first met him, and I refused to allow him to tell you about being a Veela, even though he’s quite high in their hierarchy. I ran away several times, finally taking you away, and he gave in.” Eileen looked down at her bracelet, a lavish thing of yellow diamonds and the deepest of blue sapphires and turned it around her wrist. “He gave this to me as a token of good faith—which I didn’t believe until you’d turned forty—that he’d never tell you because he prized you above all things,” she said softly.
“Why didn’t you let him tell me when I was of age, Mother?” Severus demanded.
“Because you would have been his, and not mine.” Eileen’s lips pinched together with what looked like distaste.
“Oh, bloody wonderful! You ruined my life because you hated your interfering father and Dad? The story of my life!” Severus stomped over to a table and pulled a chair out and slumped down into it. “Why? Why did you lie to me about something so important? Hell, Mum, I could have hurt someone if that Veela side revealed itself suddenly.” Severus looked at his mother with sad eyes. “Mum, I could have killed someone.”
“Sevvie, dear, I am sorry. When you didn’t moult at sixteen, I thought your Wizarding side had won out. How was I supposed to know...” Eileen flapped one hand distracted and stared over Severus’ head as her words trailed away. “Killed your father, it did, but I was so happy. You weren’t theirs at all.” She looked into Severus’ eyes, and grimaced. “At least, you weren’t. Then.”
“How can you tell?” Severus asked, elbows on his knees, eyes searching his mother’s face.
“Your features are finer. Your brows are smoother, your hair silkier, more like your father’s than ever before. Oh, damn it all! You’ve gotten perfected, just like Tobias said you would.” Eileen marched up to Severus and tipped his head this way and that with two fingers under his chin. “You’re still my son, but now you’re his as well.” Eileen kissed Severus’ cheek and then wiped off the excess lipstick with her thumb. “Well, spilt milk and all that. So, who brought the beast out of you?” she asked abruptly.
“That’s all you can say? No, ‘sorry, Severus, I didn’t know how to tell you’ or ‘I knew you were a strong lad, Severus, and that you could handle it,’ Mother?” Severus asked coldly. He stood up, the chair skittering away as he did. “You may love me, Mother, but right now, I don’t very much like you.” Severus stalked away, leaving his mother standing in the middle of Grand Hall Restaurant.
Eileen watched him as he pushed open the doors. “I am sorry, Severus. I never meant to hurt you,” she whispered.
The door to the Moon Song blasted open, long after closing hours. Harry ran to Remus’ room, slipping past both typical bedroom wards and those special wards Remus always erected once a month to hunker down with Moony. His wand was clutched tight in one hand while his free arm encircled Moony’s neck, the ruff stiffening as the intruder broke the wards in the kitchen and stormed up the stairs. Harry curled closer to the growling werewolf.
“Where the hell are you?” a hard, rough voice shouted. Moony’s growl became so low, it was a sub-harmonic vibration through Harry’s body. “I want you!” the mysterious intruder cried out.
The same harsh voice began casting ward-breaking spells that almost burned the door down before the wards fell. Harry noticed one of the intruder’s hands curling around the charred doorjamb was big, the fingers long and curved as they held a glowing wand as it seemed inscribe a strange shape in the air and then there was darkness as he squeezed through the wrecked doorway. “My love! Damn it to hell, love, where are you?” he shouted.
Harry rolled to the side, away from Moony as the werewolf readied himself and then lunged toward the dark presence. Flashes from hexes and snapping teeth coloured the moonlit room. It seemed like hours until the wizard stopped casting vicious spells and Moony’s growls softened. The dark presence crawled out into the hall and the wards flared up once more.
“Lumos,” Harry whispered. Moony spit out dark feathers and torn material as he looked over at Harry, then he tilted his head and dropped onto the floor with a tired woof. Harry crawled over and around broken things and hugged his transformed uncle. One hand searched for wounds while the other held his wand high. “Moony, I’m glad you were here,” Harry whispered.
Moony licked Harry’s face and rolled over slowly, the certain sign for a belly rub being wanted. Harry laughed a bit hysterically and rubbed the werewolf’s belly, tears running down his face. “What are we going to do?” Harry asked.
“Woof!” Moony barked.
“Yeah, like that helps,” Harry laughed. He looked around Remus’ bedroom and sighed. “I’m going to call Dobby. He’ll have an idea.”
The next morning, Remus woke up, not in his room but on the couch in the living room. Harry was on the floor nearby, on a pile of pillows. Dobby was sitting in an armchair, sipping what smelled like a frothy latte.
“Something happened last night, didn’t it?” Remus winced as he tried to take a deep breath. “My ribs feel like they’ve been stove in.” He squirmed higher up on the sofa.
Dobby looked over his cup, both eyebrows quirked. “I’d say so. Seems someone with dark intent and powerful magic broke in here shouting for you. Harry felt the wards downstairs fall and ran to your room.” He nodded at Harry. “The poor boy only caught flashes of the spells, tho’ thankfully none were green. Said you fought the wizard to a standstill.”
Remus shivered. “Oh, gods, no,” he gasped out. “Harry’s all right?” Remus reached down toward his nephew, but didn’t quite touch him. “I never wanted to turn anyone...”
“You didn’t.” Dobby set his latte cup aside and stood up, suddenly seeming to fill the room with power. “I’ve watched over this family for decades and when you were bitten, I made certain that you could never pass on your curse, especially after all those years you inflicted your pain on yourself.” The power seemed to seep out of Dobby and he was just Remus’ sous-chef once more. He coloured up and dropped back into his seat.
“Sorry about that, but you’re one of the finest men I’ve ever know, Remus. You deserve to know you didn’t do anything except protect yourself and Harry.” He grinned suddenly. “‘Sides, your visitor last night left calling cards all over your room, which I know you’ll recognize from that fancy degree you got in Defence Against the Dark Arts.” He twirled his index finger in the air and a cloud of midnight blue feathers swirled out of Remus’ bedroom. One of the feathers left the dark mass and hovered before Remus’ sharp eyes.
He reached out and grabbed it. “Veela? You’ve got to be kidding me,” he muttered.
“You don’t want to be the object of a Veela’s affections?” Dobby asked facetiously.
“I wouldn’t mind it if I knew who the hell it was!” Remus groused and then winced as he shifted on the couch to pet Harry’s messy head. “Whoever it was could have hurt Harry, Dobby. I can’t forget that.”
“As long as you can forgive it, Remus.” Dobby shook his head. “It’s inevitable, you know, once the Veela finds its mate. It’ll stalk the potential lover like prey until it’s certain of their affections. And werewolves are quite a good match—in both power and emotional stability.”
“You sound like an expert, Dobby,” Harry muttered as he scrubbed at his eyes.
“You might say that, Harry. Your family has a touch of Veela in it. You can tell by the hair. The eyes are all your mother’s. But you don’t have to worry like Remus. You’ll find someone to love all on your own,” Dobby stated with twinkling eyes.
Remus groaned and covered his eyes with his arm. “I’m doomed. A bloody Veela wants me, and my sous-chef is suddenly a matchmaker,” he groaned. Harry and Dobby laughed.
“Well, I’ve got breakfast in stasis, ready whenever you two are.” Dobby stood up and stretched. “I cleaned up the major damage, but you’ll want to sleep on the couch for the next few nights, Remus.”
“I’m hungry, Dobby.” Harry scrambled up from his pillows, searching nearsightedly for his glasses until Dobby took pity on him and wafted them toward Harry. “Want me to bring your breakfast up, Uncle Remus?”
“Wait an hour, okay?” Remus muttered as he slouched down into his pillows. “I need to think, or sleep, or something.”
The next day, Remus dragged himself from the couch, put his room to rights, but had to leave the wards for another day—a purging spell needed to work without anyone in the room for a whole day.
After casting several mending spells on the street door and the door from the kitchen, Remus lay back down on the couch with a groan and covered his eyes with one arm and thought about the Veela that was targeting him. He’d sniffed the feathers, trying to place the scent on them. Remus knew he’d smelled it recently, in very close proximity, but he couldn’t place it.
“Uncle Remus? You up there?” Harry shouted up from the kitchen. Remus bit his lip and rolled off the couch.
“Coming, Harry,” he called back.
When Remus got to the kitchen, his eyes widened at the sight of all the expensive ingredients coming through his doors. When he turned a questioning look at Dobby, the sous-chef held up a bill of lading with the Hogwarts Castle logo on it.
“Seems you have friends in high places, Remus,” Dobby began.
“Oh, look, boss!” Tonks interrupted. She was pointing at a flying carpet stacked with polished pots and pans of various sizes. “Those are just like those fancy chefs use.” She reached out and haphazardly plucked a lid from the pile as one of the wizards moving the stuff lunged forward to catch the tilting pile and another froze the listing pots and pans in place. Tonks ignored them all and put the lid on her head. “See? Now I’m shiny, too!”
Remus laughed and Dobby joined in as the deliverymen slowed to a trickle and a redhead—very much like Charles Weasley—presented a heavy scroll to Remus. “Charles said I’d know which one was Remus without looking too hard. I’m Percy. I’ve drawn up the contract for your desserts and confections for the Hogwarts Castle Grand Hall restaurant. You can sign them whenever as Charles has said so.” The redhead sniffed a bit superiorly and looked at the pots and pans. “These items are a partial payment for your services, regardless of how your cooking and baking turns out. Serve Snape right, but that’s neither here nor there.” The redhead turned and looked Remus in the eyes. “I’m looking forward to those little torte things Charles has raved about. I...I’ve been courting Miss Granger for ages and they might be the thing to break down her reserve.” Percy nodded and turned smartly on his heel, snapping his fingers and getting the attention of all the deliverymen and herding them out of Remus’ kitchen without another word.
“Uh, Dobby?” Remus asked in a daze. “What just happened?”
“I think Mr. Weasley is doing an end-run around Severus and you’re benefiting from it.” Dobby touched one of the new skillets with appreciative fingers. “Not that I’m complaining. With these things, cooking and baking will be a breeze.”
Remus ran his fingers over his throat and then shook himself. “I need that pearl choker,” he muttered. Tonks and Dobby shared a knowing look and shooed him up the stairs to find it.
“When are you going to tell him he’s been cooking all the time?” Tonks asked softly.
“When you decide to stop acting like a clumsy fool,” Dobby mumbled back.
“So never, huh?” Tonks shot back, her pot lid chapeau tilting and then sliding down the back of her head to clatter on the floor.
The day of the taste-testing arrived and Severus was tempted to stay home pleading a sudden illness. His dreams had been fevered for the past two nights, filled with a snarling beast and then Remus’ soft gaze, the taste of those damned mini-tortes on his tongue every morning. He looked bad enough for the lie to work, but Severus Snape was nothing if loyal and thus he heaved his aching body out of bed, ignoring the obvious signs of a moulting Veela scattered around the room.
The mirror took one look at Severus and dimmed the brightness so as to not shock Severus. No snappy words or snide remarks came his way and he showered and dressed in silence. Even the car ride to Hogwarts was without words, the driver—not a younger-looking Albus look-a-like as before—mercifully mute.
Unfortunately for Severus, the silence was broken by Pansy’s screech of welcome. “Mr. Snape! Just look, oh, look!” she said in a high-pitched voice. She was waving her fingers under Severus’ nose and finally stopped him with a hand on his chest. “Oh, isn’t it marvellous? Charlie is such a wonderful man,” she simpered.
Severus looked down and saw a canary diamond surrounded by ruby chips bobbing dangerously close to his teeth. He caught Pansy’s hand and held it while she calmed down. “I see congratulations are in order,” he said in a rough voice. His shoulder blades pulled together over his spine and then relaxed.
“Oh, Severus, it was so romantic,” Pansy sighed. They walked into Severus’ office and he left her standing in front of his desk while she waxed poetic. “Charlie took me to Moon Song and Remus made us a special dinner. It was as if each dish was made to relax us and to make the mood that much better. By the time dessert arrived—these little Chocolate Ginger Pots de Crème...” She sighed. “The first spoonful was so wonderful, Severus. Like I was tasting romance, they were so tasty and warming.”
“Really, Parkinson? ‘Like tasting romance’?” he asked in a tired voice. “Will we have to sedate the customers if they try something like that in the restaurant?”
“You have the soul of a stone, Severus,” Pansy said with a moue of sadness. “Charlie and I brought back a couple for you to try since they weren’t going to be on today’s taste-test.” She pulled her wand from the pocket along the seam of her skirt and removed the stasis field over the two confections on Severus’ desk. “At least try one, it might make you better company when Remus comes in later today,” Pansy said as she sashayed out of Severus’ office.
He looked down at the desserts, the subtle scent of ginger floating up to him. Severus sighed and Transfigured one of his quills into spoon. “May as well try the damned things,” he muttered, “just so I can be a barmy as everyone else.” The first taste burst on Severus’ tongue with the warmth of ginger and a faint bittersweet undertone. As he licked the spoon, the heat lingered and the bitterness faded into a sweet counterpoint. Soon, he was licking the ramekin and wondering how the hell Remus knew that this was what Severus had felt that time they’d kissed? He was half-way through the second pots de crème before he realized he wasn’t so much angry at Remus and being a Veela as it was he’d thrown away a chance that others would kill for. At the second dessert’s finish, Severus licked his lips and decided that if being barmy meant he got both Remus and these divine desserts, perhaps he should give in and just let it happen. “After all, I’m in love with—”
“Boss, Remus and Charlie are in the Grand Hall now. Time to do some taste-testing,” Pansy said as she pushed the office door open. When she saw the empty ramekins on Severus’ desk she smiled to herself. “I think Remus even brought some soups to clear the palate,” she said.
“Soups would be nice,” Severus said in a brighter tone than before. His skin was smoother and he seemed to stand straighter. “Yes, I think I need Remus...to see Remus. Those little pots are delicious.”
They left Severus’ office and entered the lift together, riding up to the Grand Hall restaurant in relative silence. Pansy’s soft sighs and Severus’ unconscious humming were the only sounds until the bell rang at the restaurant’s floor.
Remus stood talking with Charlie, something pearly white around his neck showing as he described something with his hands. Severus growled and stalked forward. Pansy stood back and grinned behind Severus’ back. Charlie saw Severus coming and said something to Remus that had him whirling around and almost into Severus’ chest. Severus caught him and held him, his eyes dark and dangerous, Remus’ soft and open.
“What are you doing, Severus?” Remus asked gently. He sniffed and stiffened in Severus’ inadvertent embrace. “It was you, wasn’t it?” he said incredulously.
“What? Fell in love with you and your damned aphrodisiac recipes?” Severus said in a husky voice. His arms pulled Remus closer as he ignored Charles and Pansy, his entire attention on Remus. His shoulder blades ached, but something inside felt better.
Remus shrugged and broke the embrace, surprising both himself and Severus as he stepped away. “You attacked me the night of the full moon, Severus. I have the feathers to prove it. They smell just like you.” Remus looked Severus up and down. “I should have seen it before, but it’s been a few years since I left uni. You’ve got the tell-tale signs of a Veela background,” he said.
“So, what now? Do I have to eat your damned food to get anywhere near you?” Severus stepped close to Remus, crowding into his personal space.
“Tonight you have to,” Remus shot back. “We’re catering a small do in about half an hour. You’ll eat and watch everyone and see if I’m doing anything untoward. If you decide I’m practicing dark magic, I’ll leave and you’ll never see me again.” Remus playing unconsciously with the pearl choker.
Severus watched Remus’ fingers, his own twitching with the desire to trace the choker and then let his tongue—. “Damn it!” Severus groaned. “Fine. One chance.” He strode away, still ignoring Charles and Pansy.
Remus seemed to deflate where he stood. Then he looked over at the pair of lovers. “Seems you like to watch, eh? I would have thought he was going to tear me to shreds.”
“No, he’s in love,” Pansy laughed. “As Slytherin as he is, and being a Veela, too, I’d say it’s just confusing. We’re not the easiest of people in love or out of it.” She looked over at Charles and smiled. “But when we finally realize it is love, well, we’re the best thing under the sun.”
“She’s right, you know, Remus. Take a chance. We’ve helped you as much as we can. Now it’s up to you.”
The selected taste-testers—Albus Dumbledore and his aide-de-camp, Minerva McGonagall and their significant others, Charles Weasley and Pansy Parkinson, Percy Weasley and his associate, Hermione Granger, Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, the competition, and their son, Draco, and finally Eileen and Tobias ffister-Snape—were seated at small, round tables that lent an intimate air to the restaurant. The candlelight gave everyone an air of both mystery and romance. It helped that everyone had treated the taste-testing as a chance to dress up; Albus bedazzled everyone with his bright purple tuxedo while his partner wore a traditional black one enlivened by amethyst studs.
Remus rushed back and forth in the Grand Hall kitchen, his neck bare for the first time in months. “Where is it?” he muttered under his breath. “I had it just a while ago...”
“What are you looking for?” Dobby asked. He was stirring a béchamel sauce and keeping an eye on the mini-Sacher Torte cream filling as it began to boil.
“My choker.” Remus looked stricken as he lifted up pots and pans. “I was wearing it when I got here, but when I changed I must have taken it off. I need it!” he whined.
“Uncle Remus, you don’t need it,” Harry said gently. He pulled his t-shirt down over the bulge in his pocket. “You’re the one who’s been doing all the cooking, not Mum or Grandmum’s spirits.” Dobby nodded as he removed the béchamel and the cream filling from the heat. He grabbed a large whisk and stirred the cream filling slowly.
“The boy’s got a point. The magic’s innate, but you’re a fine chef without it.” Dobby winked at Tonks as she stood up straight and seemed to gain grace as she walked out with the first course. “It’s you, Remus, not some family jewellery that’s making people feel what you’re feeling.”
“You mean I am practicing dark magic?” Remus sagged against the counter.
“No, boss, he means you have the knack of all great chefs. What you’re feeling at the time of creating your dishes is passed on to your customers. When you love, they find the love in their lives. When you get introspective, they look into their souls and hearts and finds something worthwhile. You’re never bringing out the dark or dangerous; you’re illuminating their lives while you tantalize their taste-buds.” Dobby looked pleased and then turned back to his filling and sauce.
Harry grabbed Remus’ hand and tugged him to the stove. “Make something, Uncle Remus. If you want to let that beaky-nosed prat know you love him, let everybody else show it. It won’t hurt anyone, honest.” Harry’s green eyes were wide and innocent, and showed the depth of his belief in Remus and his magic. “You make people happy,” he whispered. Remus tugged his nephew into a hug and then shook himself.
“Fine, then. Let’s get cooking.”
Everyone marvelled at the presentation of the dishes, their voices low and soft. When the second course, a cup-sized soufflé paired with Dobby’s béchamel and a caramelized pear was served, the conversations died away. Harry came back into the kitchen and asked Remus, “Were you thinking of silencing everyone or what? They’re just chewing and staring.”
Remus pushed the doors open and saw what Harry was describing. The motions were slow, but everyone was spooning up the soufflé and pear in almost complete silence. Yet there was an air of contemplation on each face, so Remus wasn’t ready to run away just yet.
“I think I was, um, thinking about how my life has changed, and how I could either throw it away or make the best of it.” Remus looked down at his hands, missing Dobby’s fleeting grin.
“Well, you might want to wake them up, Uncle Remus,” Harry quipped, “or they’ll fall asleep in your next course.”
“Silly boy,” Remus laughed. “Then we’ll just have to add a dash of spice to the next one. Those Crab Napoleon we brought are ready to be heated, aren’t they?” Remus asked as Dobby’s ears reddened.
“I...I’ll have to pop back to the Moon Song and get them,” he groaned. Then he snapped his fingers and popped away and back in three blinks of an eye. “There, now you know.” The platters of crab shells and Crab Napoleon floated over to a counter.
“Helf? ‘House-elf’?” Remus mused. “Well, that’s a story for another time. We’ve got to feed these people.” Remus summoned a bowl and began spooning the crab filling into the shells. He added a touch of turmeric and white pepper to each one before he sent platters of four to the oven. Soon, the kitchen was redolent with the delicious aroma.
“Remus?” Severus stood just inside the kitchen door. “Remus, will you come outside with me?” he asked.
“I’m cook—” Remus bit off his words and untied his apron. He looked down at it and then at the full counters and Banished it with a grin. “Did I prove myself, Severus?” Remus asked as he approached Severus.
Severus just pushed open the door and showed Remus the diners. Each one was flirting with their respective partner, except for young Malfoy, who was looking into a corner where Harry was standing. They watched the young man leave his seat and slouch against the wall at Harry’s side while the adults gently smoothed brows and whispered endearments to each other.
“This is isn’t dark magic, Remus,” Severus conceded softly. “It’s...it’s eye-opening, but it’s not dark.” He reached out and wove his long fingers between Remus’ sensitive ones. “I wouldn’t mind feeling that myself,” he whispered as he pulled Remus in a loose embrace.
“You can. Every night if you want,” Remus said back just as softly. They began to sway to an invisible band. Soon, the air was filled with bubbles and the scent of roses as the pair swirled over the Grand Hall’s marble floor.
“You know, those are amazing wings, Severus,” Remus said as he let his chin rest on Severus’ shoulder. “Strong, like you, and very, very sexy.”
Severus blinked and they dipped in the air, their toes dragging on the marble before he concentrated and lifted them above it again. “I seem to be more of a Veela than I thought,” he said into Remus’ ear.
“As long as you give up breaking into my home, I’ll let you court me. I’ll feed you wonderful foods and you’ll show me how lovable you can be,” Remus said against Severus’ throat.
He growled playfully as Severus’ thigh pressed between his legs. “That’s a very private dessert, Severus.”
“Then we should go someplace private.” They floated behind the long velvet curtains that hid the wings of the Grand Hall stage. The invisible band kept playing.
Albus Dumbledore reached out and caressed his partner, Gellert’s, hand. Then he turned to Charles and Pansy and grinned. “Thank goodness you two aren’t as stubborn as Severus.”
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Thank you for reading. ~~~