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A Spoonful of Sugar

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Draco sighed when he reached the village, which was already bustling with Hogwarts students. It was all right to consider a visit to Hogsmeade the highlight of your week if you were in your third year, but it was more than just a bit pathetic if you were a bloody teacher.

He tightened his scarf against the bite of the chilly wind and wondered for the fiftieth time why he had ever come back. Right now, he could be in the middle of a challenging experiment in his warm, comfortable, and utterly child-free Potions lab in the elegant wizarding quarter of St Petersburg, but no, he'd had to listen to Slughorn's whining how Draco was the only Slytherin qualified to become his successor, "and I couldn't retire with a clear conscience if I left Hogwarts without a single Slytherin professor!"

He had probably deserved his fate because he had fallen for it. The bout of nostalgia that had overcome him when he had read Slughorn's letter would have been worthy of a twelve year-old Hufflepuff girl. So here he was, Hogwarts Potions master and Head of Slytherin House, and after only two months on the job he was already wondering how Snape had kept himself from eviscerating students at a daily rate of three. Had he, Draco, ever been this stupid and insolent while he'd been at school? He really couldn't imagine it.

Draco scanned his surroundings, uncertain where to go first. It was his first time on Hogsmeade duty – two teachers were always assigned to spend the day in the village on Hogsmeade weekends, so that they could keep an eye on the students there. He had seen Flitwick head off in the direction of the Three Broomsticks, but Draco felt no inclination to follow him. It wasn't that he was uncomfortable about the idea of meeting Madam Rosmerta again, but there was a very real chance that she would slip something into his drink if she still held a grudge.

At long last, Draco decided to start with a visit to Honeydukes. He hadn't been to the shop since he'd been a student himself, and it might be interesting to check out their current selection. It would be full of over-excited children, but there would also be chocolate.

He began to regret his decision when he opened the door to the shop and could barely hear the jingling of the set of tiny bells over the noise inside. Half of the Hogwarts student body seemed to be here, and the racket they made was ear-splitting. He wasn't going to run from a bunch of students, of course.

Putting on his most professional scowl, Draco stepped over the threshold and noticed with some satisfaction how the students in his vicinity fell quiet immediately. He looked around; the shop had changed a lot since he'd last seen it. As opposed to all the other places of his childhood that Draco had re-visited over the last weeks, this one seemed bigger. The decor was gaudy as ever and the smell just as overpowering as it had been back then, but once Draco took a closer look at the merchandise on the shelves, he found plenty of stuff that was completely new to him. The assortment of explosive sweets had at least tripled in size, the "unusual tastes" section now took up three shelves, and he even spotted a narrow shelf full of garishly coloured boxes and jars that was labelled "Muggle products".

Draco wrinkled his nose and wondered what had come over the owners, who were members of a distinguished old wizarding family. The thought made him cast a quick glance at the counter.

He felt as if his insides were turning to ice when it was met by the steady gaze of a pair of green eyes behind wire-framed glasses.

 

+++

 

"Are you going to stand there gaping at me all day, or is there a chance that you'll talk to me at some point?"

Draco caught himself just in time before he uttered a scathing comeback. He wasn't twelve any more; just because the Boy Who Lived had failed to grow up didn't mean Draco would descend to his level.

Instead, he gave the man behind the counter a haughty look and replied with icy politeness, "Hello, Potter."

"I'm pretty sure you called me Harry the last time we met." Potter actually had the gall to smile at this.

"That was more than a decade ago," Draco replied stiffly. "Times change."

"Yes, that much is obvious." Potter's eyes raked over Draco as if he were a horse Potter intended to buy. "You look well."

Draco inclined his head by a fraction of an inch, the barest acknowledgement of the compliment. "So do you."

He was, of course, just making polite small-talk, but it was true – Potter did look astoundingly well. He was taller than Draco remembered (were people supposed to keep growing after their eighteenth birthday?) and had filled out a bit; while he had been mostly skin and bones on their last encounter, he now looked quite pleasantly muscled. His hair was the same unruly mop it had always been, although there were a few silvery threads among the jet-black now. Draco wasn't sure how he felt about that; Potter was two months younger than he was, after all, so he really had no business going grey yet.

The most striking difference to the Harry Potter of his memory was his eyes. The two sharp lines between the eyebrows were almost completely gone; instead, the corners of Potter's eyes were crinkled, as if he did a lot of smiling. His gaze was calm, but there was a hint of amusement to it that had nothing in common with the glare of the embittered teenager Draco had once known. Life seemed to have treated him well, which somehow didn't fit with the fact that the hero of the Second War was now standing at the till in a sweetshop.

Draco had some time for his musings because Potter got distracted by a group of fourth-year girls who came up to the counter to pay. To Draco's surprise, Potter knew them all by name and kept chatting and joking with the giggling posse as if he were their favourite uncle. When they were done, he handed each of the girls a small paper bag. "We're developing a new line of Howling Humbugs, so please try these and tell me next time what you think of them!"

Draco knew that the smart thing to do would be to leave while Potter was busy, but now his curiosity was piqued. Once the girls had left, he stepped up to the counter and asked conversationally, "Tell me, Potter, how in Merlin's name did you end up a shop assistant?"

The corner of Potter's mouth quirked up. "Shop owner, actually. I bought Honeydukes when the previous owners retired seven years ago." He made a sweeping gesture that included the whole shop. "I've made some changes since, as you can see."

"I noticed," Draco replied coolly. "I suppose it's an impressive achievement for a former war hero to redecorate a sweetshop."

The sarcasm seemed to go right over Potter's head, because he gave Draco a grin. "Yes, I'm quite proud of it. Come, I'll give you the tour." Before Draco could protest, Potter opened a door beside the counter and shouted into the room behind it, "Rebecca, could you take over for me?"

A young witch with long red curls and sapphire blue eyes appeared in the door. Like Potter, she was dressed in dark green robes with a golden Honeydukes logo on the collar. Draco was mildly impressed; compared to the wife of the previous owner, Potter's companion was a definite improvement in the looks department.

Potter gestured towards Draco. "I'm sorry, Becca, I know your break isn't quite over yet, but Professor Malfoy is a former schoolmate of mine, and I'd like to show him the shop."

Draco's eyebrows shot up at the word 'Professor'. So Potter already knew that he was teaching at Hogwarts? It explained why he hadn't asked what Draco was doing here in the first place, but it irked him that Potter had obviously been prepared to meet him again while he had been taken completely by surprise.

The woman didn't even glance in Draco's direction; she was busy batting her eyelashes at Potter. "Anything for you, Harry dear, you know that." Draco wasn't sure whether she was actually serious about that sickening display of devotion, but Potter laughed. "Don't you ever get tired of barking up the wrong tree? Even the schoolgirls know better these days."

"I shall persevere," she replied with a wink while she took Potter's place at the till. Potter stepped around the counter and unceremoniously grabbed Draco by the upper arm. "Come on, you'll like it." Apart from prying himself loose by force, Draco saw no other choice than to comply.

 

+++

 

"Did you enlarge the shop magically? It seems a lot bigger than I remember it."

Potter didn't take the subtle hint that Draco hadn't expected the "tour" through the shop to last this long. Instead, he just nodded. "It was necessary, we're stocking a lot more merchandise than my predecessors did."

"Like Muggle sweets?" Draco asked with a disdainful glance at the offending shelf.

Potter rolled his eyes. "Trust you to notice that. By the way, what are you doing to your students in class? They're practically falling over themselves to get out of your way!"

Draco shrugged. "I'm their teacher, I suppose it goes with the job."

Potter seemed about to say something, but then merely shook his head and opened a door next to the Muggle shelf. "Whatever. Come in here, I'm sure you're going to like this."

"What, another assortment of exploding sugar and shrieking caramel? Potter, in case it has escaped your notice, I'm no longer twelve."

"Yes, that much is obvious." Draco felt somewhat flustered by the appreciative look that accompanied Potter's remark; it brought up memories that he preferred to let lie. He was quite grateful when Potter turned away to step through the door and merely gestured for Draco to follow him.

The room he found himself in was a lot smaller than the main room of the shop and much cooler; it was also less packed with students. Potter, an almost loving expression on his face, made another of the sweeping gestures that reminded Draco of a king showing off his dominion. "That's the chocolate room. Don't worry, we don't keep any of the special effects stuff here, it's all pure, unadulterated chocolate. It isn't as popular with the children, though."

"Thank God," Draco murmured, scanning the shelves that were filled with bars and boxes in more subdued wrappings. The smell in the main room had been sickeningly sweet, but here the air was filled with the rich, unobtrusive fragrance of cocoa and vanilla.

Potter grinned again. "Come on, you have to admit that it's fun. George Weasley develops the more adventurous products for me, I merely make sure that the results are edible."

"Really? I imagined you would spend most of your time coming up with new ways of turning schoolchildren into rainbow-coloured gerbils."

"No, that's George's job. I'm better at the kind of magic that has to do with taste." Potter pointed at one of the shelves, looking every inch like a proud father. "These here are all my creations, and I'm sure not even a chocoholic like you could find fault with them."

"You're calling me a chocoholic?" Draco gave Potter his best sneer. "Isn't that a bit rich, coming from a man who probably goes through a pound of the stuff every day in his line of work? I'm quite surprised you aren't fatter than Slughorn yet."

"Actually, I don't eat that many sweets these days." Potter seemed greatly amused, although Draco had no idea what was so funny. "I suppose it has to do with the over-exposure, but I usually don't bother with anything but the very best." He looked straight into Draco's eyes when he continued, "I found out the hard way that going for second best accomplishes nothing in the long run."

Draco turned away to study the shelves again. "Yes, your wife is living testimony to that."

"Who?" It took Potter a moment to get what Draco meant, but then he burst out laughing. "You thought Becca was my wife? You of all people should know that's not bloody likely."

Draco stiffened. "Your private affairs hardly matter to me. Are we finished here?"

Potter hesitated for a moment, as if he were deliberating what to say. "Not quite, there's one room left." He cast a quick glance over his shoulder; it seemed for all the world as if he were checking that none of his young customers were looking in his direction. "Here, through the door to your right."

 

+++

 

Draco found himself in another, even smaller room that was only dimly lit. He took one look at the merchandise on the shelves and felt his eyes go wide. "Potter, what the hell –"

"Sorry," Potter replied with a sheepish grin, and Draco noticed with some alarm that he had closed the door behind him. "I wanted to talk with you in private, and this is the only place I could think of. The stuff in here is adults only, so the door is charmed to be invisible to anyone who is underage, a Hogwarts student, or both. Since nobody comes to Honeydukes for the adult products on a Hogwarts weekend, we won't be disturbed here."

In fact, Draco felt more than just a bit disturbed by some of the things he spotted on the shelves. "You're selling George Weasley's wanking fantasies cast in chocolate?"

Potter actually blushed at this; it made him appear very young all of a sudden. "Well, it was George's idea, yes. I was sceptical at first, but it has been a smashing success so far. We get orders from all over Britain for the Tickling Toffee Body Paint, and –"

Draco held up a hand. "Potter, please spare me. Since you wanted to talk to me, say what you have to say so that I can get out of this nightmare!"

"Don't get your knickers in a twist." Potter seemed to have overcome his brief moment of embarrassment; he leaned against the door and crossed his feet at the ankles, his posture relaxed and self-assured. He had never looked less like the boy Draco had last seen over ten years ago. "I've been looking forward to meeting you again, Draco."

Draco tensed at the casual use of his first name. "I doubt that you missed me."

"Yes, I did." Potter's expression had turned very serious. "I tried not to, but it didn't quite work. And when Minerva told me that you were coming here to teach – let's say it made me remember a lot of things. The day I gave you back your wand, and then my eighteenth birthday, when you said you were going to leave and I realised I didn't want you to..."

There was something in his tone that eased Draco's discomfort a bit. "Potter," he interrupted him and was quite surprised how gentle he sounded, "stop this, it's leading nowhere. We were hardly more than two bewildered schoolboys who had no idea what to do with themselves after the end of the war, and I'm still certain that I did the right thing when I left. Nothing that happened ever meant anything."

"Oh, I don't know about that," Potter replied in a flippant tone that felt only the slightest bit forced. "I wouldn't say that the realisation that I was into blokes didn't mean anything for me, especially when the rest of wizarding Britain caught on about it."

Draco stared at him. "Our – I mean, what we... it made you think you were gay?"

Potter shrugged. "The conclusion was somewhat inevitable once I found out how much I enjoyed myself with you. What did you think the fact that you were happy to shag me made you?"

"I was eighteen and randy as hell, I would have shagged anything with a pulse!" Draco caught himself just in time before his voice became any louder. "Sorry to disappoint you, Potter, but I'm most definitely not gay. I haven't even looked at a bloke ever since, and I've never wanted to either."

Potter's face went blank. "Ah, I see. Well, it didn't quite work out for me that way, as you probably know."

"I have no idea what you're talking about." Draco wasn't sure whether he should be annoyed or amused by the fact that Potter still thought the entire world revolved around him. "Do you really think I had nothing better to do than to follow the Prophet's gossip column while I was studying for my Potions degree at Durmstrang?"

Potter rolled his eyes. "Please forgive me for assuming that you might have heard, it was quite a scandal at the time. You remember that I had an offer to play for Puddlemere United?"

"Of course I do, you kept bringing it up all the time. So you went into pro Quidditch? I thought you wanted to become an Auror."

Potter grimaced. "As you can see, neither worked out in the end."

Draco sighed; he might just as well ask since Potter was going to tell him anyway. "What happened?"

"Well, I thought it might be interesting to play for a while before I applied for Auror training. I'd been fighting for so long, so I decided to take a break from it and accepted the offer from Puddlemere." Potter's tone was light, as if he were talking about things that had happened to someone he barely knew.

"I never made it beyond the reserve because I was naive enough to get involved with a team mate, and he went to the press when we fell out. My fault, really; I should have cared less about his smashing looks and more about his rotten personality. I don't even know what he told the Prophet, but it must have been pretty bad. I learned later that Shacklebolt had pulled strings to prevent them from printing the worst of it, but the Puddlemere management still decided that they couldn't keep me on the team. It seems they had hired me for the celebrity factor in the first place, and when it turned out that I attracted the wrong kind of publicity – well, that was the end of my brief career in professional Quidditch."

Draco wasn't surprised; apart from the Holyhead Harpies, who were rumoured to be one big lesbian orgy on brooms, the Quidditch scene was traditionally homophobic.

"Then why didn't you apply for Auror training afterwards?" He wasn't really all that interested in the story of Potter's life, but it was safe to assume that he'd never get Potter out of his hair until he'd heard it all.

"Oh, I did," Potter answered, his expression grim. "That's how I learned about Shacklebolt's involvement in my little Quidditch scandal. Before I even went into my first hearing at Auror Headquarters, he summoned me to his office and told me quite bluntly that of course I was going to be accepted, no matter how I did on the tests, but that I would be expected not to 'flaunt' my orientation because it might make some of my colleagues uncomfortable and damage the image of the Auror Corps since it was bound to draw a lot of attention, given who I was."

Draco remembered that tone; ten years ago, it would have meant that Potter was about to explode. There was no telling how he was going to react now, of course. "And by 'flaunt' he meant..."

"...'admit to it', basically." The corner of Potter's mouth went up for a second. "He was very nice about it, you know – telling me that he just wanted to help me avoid another scandal because he knew how much I treasure my privacy and all that. It was really touching."

"So you –"

"– told him to go fuck himself." Potter sounded surprisingly calm; perhaps he had finally got his temper under control. "It wasn't a conscious decision, mind; I had wanted to be an Auror since I was fourteen. But when I listened to Kingsley, it became clear to me that I couldn't live like that, forever hiding who I was. So I decided that I wouldn't, and if the wizarding public couldn't deal with it, that was their problem, not mine."

Draco shook his head. "I don't even want to imagine the uproar you must have caused."

"It wasn't pretty." Potter made a face, as if he'd bitten into something sour. "From the way the Prophet went about it, you could have thought that there had never been a gay wizard before me."

Draco was beginning to feel rather uncomfortable about the turn their conversation had taken. "I can't think of anyone famous, at least – although there were always rumours about Dumbledore."

"Oh, trust me, I'm aware of that." When had Potter learned to sound so cynical? "Rita Skeeter made sure to remind her readers of it on a daily basis, and some of her insinuations were – well, she always just stopped short of giving me reason to sue her for slander, but it was a close call. Hermione forbade me to read her articles because she was afraid I might go and hex her."

"Your little posse took the news better, then?" Draco hadn't expected anything else; Potter's gang was going to think the sun shone out of his arse no matter what he did.

Potter shot him a dark look. "I never doubted that they would. It took some of them a while to get used to the idea, but they never gave me any grief over it. Molly Weasley had a hard time accepting that I wasn't going to marry her daughter, though. I'm just grateful that I figured myself out before I broke Ginny's heart."

"Before she broke your neck, you mean," Draco corrected dryly; he hadn't forgotten Ginny Weasley's nasty temper.

Potter grinned ruefully. "Yes, that too. But I suppose she has forgiven me since she asked me to be godfather for the baby she'll have next spring."

There was something in his grin that made Draco itch to wipe it off his face. "Another one? How many do you have by now?"

"What, godchildren? Ginny's is going to be number four, after Teddy and Ron and Hermione's twins."

Draco raised an eyebrow. "Are you collecting them or something?"

Potter merely shrugged. "So what? I like children, and it's not as if I'm ever going to have a family of my own."

"Is that why you're best friends with every Hogwarts student who enters your shop?" The question came out sounding like a challenge, and Potter's expression darkened a bit.

"You have a problem with that?"

It was Draco's turn to shrug now. "I don't really care, but trying to adopt the entire student body of Hogwarts seems a bit pathetic."

Potter flashed him a glare. "You would know about that, wouldn't you?"

Draco bristled. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means that at least I stand by what I am instead of trying to hide it even from myself." Potter stepped closer at this, and Draco felt a faint prickle of alarm. "Seems you're still the same coward you were ten years ago, Malfoy."

He took another step, and it cost Draco some effort not to flinch back; Potter was now definitely standing too close for comfort.

"What about you, then? Did you already produce the next generation of Malfoy heirs? Or hasn't your mother found the perfect pureblood wife for you yet?"

Draco did back away at this; it was the only way to keep himself from punching Potter in the face. "Leave my mother out of this."

"Fine." Potter's anger seemed to evaporate as quickly as it had flared up; it was the first thing about him that felt truly familiar to Draco. During the two months of their brief... whatever it had been, Potter had flown off the handle at least three times a day, only to snog him senseless just minutes afterwards. "Your parents are still in France?"

"Yes, and unlikely to come back," Draco replied coldly. "My father's parole is up, but I doubt the Ministry would ever leave him alone here. My mother visits her sister from time to time, but that's it."

"Teddy mentioned her." Potter kept his expression neutral; it was impossible to tell what he thought of the fact that his precious godson had come in contact with Narcissa Malfoy. Draco fought down another twinge of irritation; Potter owed his life to Draco's mother, but one could hardly expect Gryffindors to be grateful.

"Have you ever met him? He's your cousin, after all."

"Who, Teddy Lupin?" Draco shook his head. "No, never. It's probably for the best, since I'm going to be his teacher next year."

"You've missed out, he's a wonderful boy." There was a hint of sadness in Potter's smile. "I can't wait until he comes to Hogwarts; I don't see him nearly enough these days." He fell silent for a moment, his gaze fixed on a point somewhere behind Draco's shoulder.

Draco surreptitiously checked his watch; he needed to get going. It wasn't just that he had students to oversee; after everything Potter had just told him, he didn't even want to imagine the rumours that would start if anyone ever found out he'd spent half an hour with Britain's most notorious gay ex-hero in the adult section of Honeydukes. "Potter, I doubt that you lured me in here just to wax poetically about your godson. If there's anything you wanted to tell me, you'd better do it now because I'm about to leave."

"I wanted to tell you that I'm glad you're back." Potter still had that sad little smile on his face that made him look like an abandoned puppy – definitely not a good look on a grown man. "I know I shouldn't, because it seems you're even more of a stuck-up prick than you were ten years ago, but I really am glad. I missed you, whether you want to hear it or not."

Draco schooled his face into a carefully set expression of disdain. "Yes, I'm sure you thought of me all the time while you were busy shagging Quidditch pros."

It had been a mistake; he realised it the moment he saw the predatory glint in Potter's eyes. "Jealous, Draco?" Potter stepped up to him again, carelessly invading his personal space, and there was no room for Draco to back away any further because he already had his back to the wall.

"There were quite a few blokes, you know," Potter said in a low voice; he was now standing so close that Draco felt his body heat and smelled cinnamon and cloves on his breath as he spoke. "Some of them were fabulous lays, but I never managed to make a relationship last with any of them. I've often wondered why."

Draco inhaled deeply in an attempt to will his racing pulse to slow down. It didn't quite work, since it made him even more aware of the spicy smell that surrounded Potter. "You are not going to make me believe that you didn't find the love of your life because you were secretly waiting for me. If that is the route you chose for getting me into bed again, you're in for a disappointment."

Potter grinned, completely unfazed. "So you recommend another route?"

"I recommend nothing, Potter, but I demand that you get off me immediately!" Draco realised too late that his voice had gone up a hitch. "In case you didn't hear me before, I'm neither gay nor interested in your advances. Was that clear enough for you?"

Potter took a step back, taking the warmth of his body and the scent of spices with him. "Oh yes, perfectly. Well, don't let me keep you; I suppose I'll see you around." He was still smiling, although there was a look in his eyes that didn't quite go with it. "You'd better Disapparate – someone might see you coming out of here with me, and we don't want people to jump to conclusions, do we?"

Draco shot him a dirty look, turned on his heel and marched out, slamming the door behind him.

 

+++

 

Draco slept badly that night. He woke well before dawn, groggy and disoriented; the remains of a strange dream were lingering at the fringes of his consciousness, but he couldn't for the life of him remember what it had been about. He kept his eyes closed and tried to go back to sleep; it was Sunday, and he thankfully wasn't required to oversee breakfast. He'd quickly found out that nothing put him off his appetite like the din of hundreds of children in the Great Hall; at this rate, he was going to look as if he were consumptive by the end of the year.

No matter how hard he tried, sleep just wouldn't come back, so he finally gave up and opened his eyes. The first thing he saw in the grey light of early morning was a dark chocolate truffle in a green paper cup on the bedside table.

Draco blinked, but the view didn't change. At long last, he reached for the truffle to examine it. It looked real enough and emanated a rich, rather alcoholic aroma, but he definitely hadn't put it on his bedside table. How...

Potter.

Of course this had to be Potter's doing; Draco knew how stubborn he could be once he had his mind set on something. It was a bit rich even for Potter to think that he might lure Draco back into his bed with chocolate, however. More likely that he had jinxed or poisoned it to get back at Draco for spurning his advances.

Ten minutes later, the truffle was on Draco's desk, surrounded by the glow of several Revealing Charms. Draco kept an eye on the colours while he waved his wand in a complicated pattern and murmured the incantation that would let him discern the ingredients that the piece of evidence on his desk was made of. He wasn't a Potions master for nothing; if Potter thought he could get one over him that way, he'd better think again.

The Revealing Charms kept their silvery sheen, so the truffle hadn't been enchanted in any way. The list of ingredients Draco came up with seemed innocent enough, too – dark chocolate, butter, sugar, vanilla, cocoa, orange oil and French brandy were the only things he could find. At long last, he was forced to admit that Potter had sent him a perfectly harmless, non-magical chocolate truffle. It sat smugly in its frilly paper cup on his desk, taunting him with its inviting, non-threatening appearance, and it was easy to imagine Potter smirking at him while he looked at it.

With a shrug, Draco took the truffle out of its cup and popped it into his mouth. He wasn't addicted to chocolate as Potter had insinuated yesterday, but neither was he going to let a perfectly good piece of confectionery go to waste just because its creator wanted to get into his pants.

Potter knew his job, he had to give him that; the truffle was nothing short of delicious. Draco licked his lips and picked up his wand again. He didn't know how the thing had found its way into his quarters, but if Potter tried to repeat his little prank, he was going to find out the hard way that Draco had learned a lot about wards in Durmstrang.

 

+++

 

The next morning, it was a piece of strawberry cream fudge.

Draco jumped out of bed with a muttered curse when he saw it sitting innocently on his bedside table. His bedroom was warded like a Gringotts vault, so how the hell had Potter managed to get this through?

There was no time for an examination; it was Monday morning, and Draco had a million things to do before his first class. He was no morning person in general, and the knowledge that Potter had managed to outwit him somehow made him even crankier than he would usually have been at the beginning of another week of teaching.

He handed out six detentions during breakfast and another in the corridor on his way to the Potions classroom. Filch shot him an appreciative look when he passed him, which reminded Draco to get a grip on himself; he was all for discipline, but the moment the crazy old Squib approved of you, you had crossed a rather dangerous line. He still made a Hufflepuff first-year cry in his class when he gave her zero marks for exploding her cauldron, but that had less to do with him being particularly cranky than with her being a Hufflepuff.

By mid-afternoon his students, by sheer force of their collective incompetence, had managed to make him temporarily forget about the sugary insult sitting in his quarters. He was on patrol duty in the Slytherin dungeons after dinner, but since the students of his house knew better than to cross him, it was an uneventful evening. Strolling along the corridors of the dungeons was an almost relaxing experience; he always let his mind wander, enjoying the memories of the years he had spent there. He'd only realised in hindsight how happy and carefree those years had been – the first five of them, at least. Draco had learned long ago not to dwell on the last two years of his time at Hogwarts.

Today, however, he found it difficult to focus on memories of teasing Pansy or planning pranks with Vincent and Greg. His mind kept straying to the time after the war, to those strange two months he had spent in Potter's company. He hadn't thought of them in a long time, but it was only natural that an encounter with his erstwhile best enemy would bring back memories of what had happened between them. Had it really meant that much to Potter? Draco had a hard time believing it, but of course it wouldn't change anything even if it were true. If Potter was unable to let go of the past, that was his problem, not Draco's.

When he returned to his quarters at the end of his rounds, he felt almost cheerful again. Unfortunately, his good mood evaporated the moment he stepped over the threshold and remembered the piece of fudge that was still on his bedside table. He wasn't terribly surprised when another careful examination revealed nothing – no spells, no poison, not even evidence that any magic had been involved in the production. Did Potter actually make his merchandise by hand?

Draco spent the rest of the evening reinforcing the wards he had set up. No matter what Potter was hoping to achieve with his little presents, Draco was going to put a stop to it; he would allow nobody to invade his privacy like this, not even if they did it to send him the Greek gods' own ambrosia straight from Olympus.

He still ate the fudge, of course.

 

+++

 

Tuesday was a white champagne truffle, Wednesday pistachio marzipan in milk chocolate; by Saturday (almond brittle in caramel and nougat), Draco was ready to storm into Hogsmeade and strangle Potter with his bare hands. It wasn't just because of his wounded pride, but also because the daily reminder of the deeply annoying fact that Potter existed meant that the git was now constantly on Draco's mind.

It was hardly surprising that he even started dreaming of him; it was just like Potter to pester him round the clock. He could never remember what exactly he'd been dreaming about, but since he'd first woken up with the lingering image of green eyes in his mind (and a cassis truffle on his bedside table – truffles seemed to be Potter's forte), the dreams kept returning almost every night.

On Sunday morning (orange jelly in dark chocolate) Draco woke to physical evidence that his dreams had taken him back to one of the more... intense moments of his time with Potter. He felt so humiliated that he spent almost an hour in the shower, scrubbing himself until his skin glowed and finishing with ice-cold water. This was ridiculous; he just didn't fantasize about men. He had meant what he'd said to Potter; his hormones had got the better of him back then, but he hadn't been interested in another man since. He hadn't been very interested in women either, but that had been mostly due to the fact that he'd had a couple of very stressful years after he had left Britain. There had been so many other things on his mind that he just hadn't had time for romance; the few short flings he'd had in St Petersburg were barely worth mentioning. It would change one day, he was sure of that, even if he was less than sanguine about the gentle hints his mother began dropping in conversation these days. He was only twenty-eight, for Merlin's sake; there was no need to rush these things. His mother could wait a few more years for her precious grandchildren – thanks to the children who surrounded Draco on a daily basis, the mere idea of having some on his own sent a shiver down his spine right now.

Yet the thoughts of Potter just wouldn't leave him alone. They were like a constant itch he couldn't scratch; no matter what he did to banish the Gryffindor menace from his mind, there was another reminder sitting on his bedside table every morning. Draco had developed a theory that they might stop coming if he didn't eat them any longer, but when he threw one out (it had a coconut filling, and he didn't like coconut), it didn't have any effect at all – the next morning, there was another one (cherry fondant in spun sugar) waiting for him when he opened his eyes.

It probably came down to a battle of wills – the essential question would be whether he ran out of patience before Potter ran out of sweets. Draco thought of the packed shelves at Honeydukes and couldn't help feeling that the odds weren't exactly in his favour.

 

+++

 

On their way to the village, Draco distracted himself by listening to Flitwick's merry prattle about his latest Charms project with his NEWT students. He had tried to swap his Hogsmeade duty for two evenings of Professor Sinistra's corridor patrols; she had happily agreed, but now she was in quarantine with a nasty bout of dragon flu, and Draco would probably end up having to do her patrols on top of Hogsmeade. How on earth could Flitwick have spent decades at this job and still be so cheerful?

"...and it's turning out well, but the fine-tuning is giving us problems," Flitwick was saying; Draco had no idea what he was even talking about, but it probably didn't matter. "We need an explosion strong enough to break the outer shell, but gentle enough not to cause any further damage. I've been thinking of talking to Harry about it; I suppose he uses something like this for his Peppermint Bombs. Perhaps he can give me a few ideas."

He noticed Draco's startled glance, but mistook it for surprise. "Oh, you haven't met Harry Potter at Honeydukes? He's been the owner for a couple of years now, and –"

"I've met him," Draco interrupted him. "I went to Honeydukes the last time I was on Hogsmeade duty."

"Fascinating stuff he produces, isn't it? He keeps saying all the magical items are George Weasley's creations, but I think he's just being modest."

Draco rolled his eyes. "Believe me, the one thing Harry Potter will never be in his life is modest."

Was it just his imagination that Flitwick cast him a quick sidelong glance? "I was under the impression that you two had got over your old differences."

Draco shrugged, carefully keeping his eyes on the path. "We have, but that doesn't change who he is."

"He has changed a lot since he was at Hogwarts, though." Why the hell did Flitwick keep talking about Potter? Draco was walking to Hogsmeade with him to avoid thinking of Potter, after all. "I was really surprised when he started his apprenticeship at Honeydukes, but I heard later that old Ethelbert wouldn't sell the shop to anyone who didn't know his trade. He has done amazing things since; Ethelbert used to buy most of his merchandise, but Harry told me he produces more than half of it himself. He has bought the neighbouring house and turned it into a sweets factory; he took me there once, and it was quite fascinating. I'm sure he'll show it to you too if you ask him."

Draco was desperately searching for a way to make Flitwick change the topic. "You really think he can help you with your project?" Hopefully, that would send him into lecturing mode again.

"It's worth a try; some of the enchantments he uses on his sweets are quite ingenuous. I hope he has a moment for me today, he's usually terribly busy during Hogsmeade weekends."

Draco didn't point out that Potter couldn't be all that busy since he'd had plenty of time for him. "Then why don't you go to the shop some other time? I doubt Honeydukes is that packed on normal days."

Flitwick shook his head. "Harry's not standing behind the counter every day; he only does it for the sake of the students. He's usually overseeing the production, and there's book-keeping and so on beside that, I suppose. I hear that he also spends a lot of time creating new product lines with George Weasley."

"I had no idea you took such an interest in Honeydukes." Seriously, was everyone in this country now a fan of Harry Potter?

Flitwick smiled fondly. "Have you met the shop assistant, Rebecca? She's my grand-niece."

"Oh, I see." Now that Draco though about it, the girl had been a bit on the short side. Besides, she definitely was a fan of Potter, and if she had gushed about him to Flitwick, that might explain his attitude.

Thankfully, Flitwick began talking about his precious grand-niece now, and Draco could zone out of the conversation again, safe in the knowledge that he wouldn't have to listen to anything Potter-related. There was another tense moment when they reached Hogsmeade and Flitwick stopped right in front of the Honeydukes shop window.

"Well, I'm going to see whether Harry has a moment. Are you coming with me?"

Draco glanced through the window and was only half surprised to find Potter looking straight at him from behind the counter. There was an amused twinkle in his eyes that would have done Dumbledore proud, and Draco decided that he'd had enough.

"No, I'm on my way to the post office, I need to send a long-distance owl to a colleague in Russia."

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw how Potter's face fell when he turned on his heel. Walking away from the sweetshop with the lingering feeling of Potter's eyes on his back gave him a vindictive pleasure he hadn't experienced in years; after all this time, he had almost forgotten how gratifying it was to get one over Harry bloody Potter.

 

+++

 

Draco had harboured the hope that Potter might finally have got the hint, but when he woke the next morning, there was a piece of chocolate in the usual spot on his bedside table. He was taken aback for a second; either Potter had no sense of dignity at all, or –

...or he was still Harry Potter, who didn't take it well if things didn't go his way.

Draco got out of bed and went for his wand. He had stopped examining Potter's daily offerings a while ago since he had never found anything out of the ordinary, but this one felt wrong somehow. If chocolate came with facial expressions, Draco had the distinct feeling that this particular piece would be smirking.

A thorough examination led to an ingredients list of milk chocolate, flour paste, and chilli pepper.

Draco lowered his wand and rolled his eyes. "Oh, how very mature, Potter," he said to the world at large. "You're out of luck, I'm not going to breathe fire for you anytime soon."

It felt oddly liberating to throw the offending sweet out of the window. Draco watched it fly through the air in a wide arc and secretly hoped that Filch's foul old cat was going to find and eat it.

 

+++

 

The following morning, Draco's bedside table was empty. The moment he noticed it he realised that he hadn't seriously expected it to happen. Harry Potter had given up.

Harry Potter had given up.

More precisely, Draco had made Harry Potter give up. Potter had finally been forced to learn the lesson that not everyone was falling over themselves to arrange the world according to his wishes. It might do him some good in the long run, and if he ever grew up, he might even thank Draco for it eventually. Not that Draco was holding his breath, of course.

Draco reckoned that it didn't really matter; the only thing he cared about was Potter finally leaving him alone, and it looked like he had achieved that. He had expected it to feel better, but that didn't matter either.

It was probably the fact that it was another Monday morning that kept him from savouring his triumph fully. This Monday turned out particularly vexing; there was a snowstorm howling outside that rattled the windows and made the draughty corridors even draughtier. By noon, the cold was creeping into every room in the castle, and not even the fires under the students' cauldrons kept it out of Draco's classroom. He thought longingly of his comfortable Potions lab in St Petersburg, which had been built to withstand even the forces of the grim Russian winter. Why exactly had he ever left?

Warming Charms were way too risky in a room where Potions were brewed, so Draco had no other choice than to suppress the clattering of his teeth and keep walking around the classroom at a brisk pace. On the plus side, that always helped keep the students on their toes. The chill made them sluggish and sloppy, and even though Draco took pity on them and let them do recipes that required roaring fires and plenty of stirring, it didn't change the fact that teaching was like pulling teeth that day.

On top of it all, he was on corridor patrol in the Gryffindor tower that evening, which was not only full of Gryffindors, but also easily the draughtiest part of the whole bloody castle. By the time Draco returned to his quarters, he was half frozen and in a spectacularly foul mood.

A wave of blessed warmth greeted him; the house elves had kept a fire going in the fireplace, and the thick curtains in front of the windows kept the wind out. With a deep, relieved breath, Draco shed his thick winter robes and decided that what he really needed to get over this day was a hot bath.

When he returned to the fireplace an hour later, wrapped in a thick green bathrobe and pleasantly warm through and through, the world had become a slightly brighter place. The fire was still crackling merrily, and the house elves had left a pot of tea on the coffee table next to the wide, squashy armchair where Draco preferred to spend his winter evenings. He sank into the armchair, propped his feet up on the footstool that was placed close enough to the fireplace to almost roast his bare toes, and reached for the report on the progress of their most important research project that his former colleagues in St Petersburg had sent him. Draco knew that they wanted him to come back, and since he was always one for keeping his options open, he did his best to stay in the loop. Besides, the reports were usually fascinating; they always made him realise how much he missed serious research while he drilled eleven year-olds on how not to blow up the castle.

Tonight, however, he found it difficult to concentrate. Something kept nagging at the back of his brain, making it impossible for him to get engrossed in the intricacies of experimental Potion brewing. When he finally realised that he didn't remember a word of the last few pages he'd read, he put the report aside with a sigh. He was probably just too tired after the day he'd had; he'd better go to bed early and –

That was the moment when the flames in the fireplace roared up green, then blue, then red; before Draco could react, they had turned a blinding white that forced him to cover his eyes with his arm.

When he lowered his arm again, he was greeted by the sight of Harry Potter climbing out of his fireplace.

Potter straightened and brushed a speck of ash off his green Honeydukes robes as nonchalantly as if he popped out of Draco's fireplace every day. "You shouldn't put up triple wards around your Floo like that, you know," he said mildly. "It makes your visitors feel unwelcome."

Draco had been stunned into speechlessness for a moment, but that didn't last long. "Potter, what the hell do you think you're doing here?"

Potter gave him a cheeky grin. "Delivering your daily dose of chocolate in person."

"Nice try. Now try again." Draco kept his tone as cold as his expression, while he was silently cursing himself for leaving his wand in the bathroom. He didn't think he would really need it against Potter, but he still felt uncomfortably exposed without it. "And tell me what kind of magic you used to get through the wards while you're at it, I doubt it was legal."

Potter shrugged; he was still grinning. "There was nothing illegal about house elf magic the last time I checked. Besides, Kreacher all but kissed my feet when I asked him to bring you chocolate, he still worships the ground you walk on. It took him three attempts to send me through your Floo, though; I hope I don't find him with his ears in the oven door when I come back."

Draco could have kicked himself. How on earth could he not have thought of house elf magic? It seemed so obvious now that he had a hard time hiding his embarrassment, and from the amused sparkle in Potter's eyes, the prat was well aware of it.

Then it struck Draco what had seemed off the whole time: Potter wasn't wearing glasses. The bastard wasn't wearing his glasses, because Draco might, ten years ago, have mentioned once how much he liked seeing his eyes without them. They looked bigger and so much greener if there was no sheet of glass separating them from the rest of the world, and Harry's face always seemed strangely vulnerable when he wasn't wearing them.

Of course, he had probably just left them at home now because he expected them to get in the way of whatever he was planning – and it really wasn't hard to guess what that might be. Knowing him, he was probably also naked under his robes to save time. Granted, so was Draco, but that was just because he was sitting in front of his own fireplace in his bathrobe, not because he was out to assault unsuspecting ex-lovers.

He gave Potter his most disdainful sneer. "How ingenious of you. Now please stop insulting my intelligence by trying to make me believe that you're here for more than just one single purpose."

He was about to get up because he didn't like looking up at Potter while he spoke, but Potter was faster. He sat down on the armrest of Draco's chair and held on to the backrest with both hands so that Draco found himself effectively trapped between Potter's arms. His body was radiating warmth, and Draco caught a whiff of vanilla and cocoa on his breath.

"Then how come you haven't thrown me out yet?" Before Draco could answer, Potter lowered his head and added in a completely different tone, "Does this thing recline?"

"No!" Draco snapped, now thoroughly alarmed because Potter suddenly had his wand out. In the next second, the backrest of his chair tilted backwards, taking them both with it so that Potter's face was now hovering over Draco's. "Yes, it does," he said with a satisfied grin that made Draco want to punch him.

Which he was going to do if Potter didn't get off him immediately.

Any second now.

Too bad that his hands seemed completely unwilling to let go of the armrests, probably because they didn't want him to go to Azkaban for killing the Boy Who Lived.

Potter reached for something in his pocket and then held up a small sphere wrapped in golden tinfoil.

"I thought that since I was coming here myself today, I might as well bring my personal favourite along. Problem is that I'm a selfish bastard, so you'll only get half of it."

He took the sphere between his teeth, and Draco wondered momentarily whether he was going to eat it, tinfoil and all, until he noticed that what he had mistaken for wrapping was in fact an incredibly thin layer of real gold. He had seen such gilded chocolates in a fancy sweetshop in Paris once – they were said to have all kinds of magical qualities, but he hadn't tried them, so he didn't know whether it was true.

Then Potter leaned in, so close that their faces were almost touching, and bit right through the gold covering. A thick, sticky liquid that smelled of oranges and cinnamon dripped onto Draco's lips, and he had no other choice than to open his mouth if he didn't want it to dribble over his chin. The taste seemed to explode on his tongue, a rich, fruity sweetness with just a hint of bitterness to it, followed by the aroma of melting chocolate and the warmth of Potter's mouth on his.

At this, Draco's hands came up at last, but they seemed to have a mind of their own because instead of pushing Potter away, they were suddenly in his hair and pulled him closer. It was as if his body remembered things which his mind had chosen to forget, but it all came back in a rush now – the coarse, tangled strands his fingers got caught in, the scratch of stubble against his skin, the wicked tongue that did incredible things inside his mouth, the needy little sounds at the back of Harry's throat that had always been his undoing and God, he was so, so fucked.

Harry shifted his weight without breaking the kiss, and before Draco knew what was happening, he was straddling him. There was no mistaking the hard length of Harry's cock pressed against his own – when had he even got hard? – and no way to deny any longer that it felt better than anything he had experienced in... well, the last ten years, if he was honest with himself. Without thinking, Draco arched his back, eager to increase the glorious friction, and felt strangely satisfied when Harry gasped for breath.

He finally could bring himself to look Harry fully in the face, taking in the swollen lips that were still sticky with sugar and melted chocolate, the flushed cheeks, mussed hair and those incredibly green eyes that seemed hell-bent on making him lose his head completely.

It wasn't going to happen, of course; if he threw himself into this madness, he would do it consciously, not because his instincts ran away with him. So he angled for the haughtiest expression he was capable of under the circumstances and asked, "Isn't this where you're supposed to assure me that you'll stop if I want you to?"

Harry cocked his head, as if he needed to think the question over. "Do you want me to stop?"

"What I want right now," Draco replied evenly while he reached for the buttons of Harry's robe, "is to get these ridiculous shop assistant's robes out of my sight, they're obstructing my view."

Harry's face broke into a grin; he looked relieved, as if he really had considered it possible that Draco would tell him to stop. He reached for his collar and pulled the robes over his head without even bothering to unbutton them.

Draco felt a tight, heavy sensation spread in his lower regions from the sight Harry presented; he really wasn't wearing anything under the robes and God, had he ever grown out of his teenage skinniness. Broad shoulders and slender hips, a pleasantly muscled chest, and a flat belly from which a trail of dark hair was leading downwards to the deeply flushed, straining cock – how had he managed to convince himself for ten years that he was not attracted to this? He couldn't recall ever seeing anything as breathtakingly erotic as Harry's glorious nakedness, bathed in the golden-red light of the flickering fire. His hands itched to run over that smooth, pale skin, to touch and feel and –

But Harry's hands were on him instead, deftly untying the belt of his bathrobe, and he barely found time to wiggle his arms out of the sleeves before Harry leaned forward until Draco felt the heat of bare skin against his own. He dug his fingers into Harry's back and tried to pull him closer – this wasn't enough, he wanted to feel him properly, every inch of Harry's skin, every movement, every beat of his rapid pulse.

Harry complied immediately, pressing the whole length of his body against Draco so tightly that Draco had trouble breathing. He squirmed a bit to get into a more comfortable position, which made his cock rub against Harry's in a way that eradicated any such trivial concerns as oxygen. Harry groaned into his ear and then whispered hoarsely, as if he too found it difficult to draw breath, "God, Draco, you have no idea how much I've missed this... I tried to, but I just couldn't get you out of my mind –"

Draco didn't want to hear it; he didn't want declarations and explanations that would force him to think about what he was doing. He worked his hand in between them, determined to shut Harry up, and brought their cocks together. Harry gasped and fell silent; his hips snapped forward, and he began to rock against Draco, thrusting into the circle of his fingers.

Draco stroked them both in rhythm with the slide of Harry's cock against his own; his lips found Harry's again, although they were panting into each other's mouths more than kissing now. Soon enough, Harry's body tensed, and Draco rather felt than heard the strangled whimper deep in his throat. He quickened his strokes; he was getting close himself, and he just didn't want to wait any longer, this was too much to take after ten years – and then Harry cried out as thick, warm liquid spilled over Draco's hand and stomach, and how could he ever have forgotten how hot Harry sounded when he came? His own orgasm took him almost by surprise, heat and touch and friction all coming together in a single spike of overwhelming, blinding pleasure. Harry held on to him during the aftershocks, and Draco allowed himself to be swept up in the sensation of utter, blissful contentment for just a little while until reality kicked in again.

It happened sooner than he had imagined, because Harry disentangled himself from Draco as soon as he had his breath back. "I suppose I'd better be going."

He got to his feet and went for his robe, which he had carelessly tossed aside before. Draco sat up – not by choice, but because the backrest of the armchair righted itself – and stared at him, completely stunned by this abrupt turn of events. "Harry –"

"Oh, so you do remember my name after all." Harry was standing a few feet away; he was already dressed again. He looked somewhat dishevelled, but still much too composed compared to how shaken Draco felt. There was a strange little smile on his face that stood in odd contrast to his narrowed eyes – Draco reckoned that he couldn't see him properly from this distance without his glasses. "It seems you remember a lot more than that, actually."

Draco drew his bathrobe around him; he suddenly felt extremely uncomfortable about being naked in front of Harry. "Is that why you came here? To force me to admit it?" There would be hell to pay if it was true; nobody got away with humiliating him like that.

"No, not at all." Harry took a step closer; he was probably tired of squinting at Draco. His tone was much warmer than before. "I meant this, Draco, I really did – and I think that so did you, whether you're willing to admit it or not." He took a deep breath, and now he sounded as if he were reciting a text he had rehearsed quite thoroughly before. "There's a lot I would do to have you back, and I'm sure you know that. The one thing I'm not going to do, however, is to hide who or what I am, and if you want a repeat performance of what just happened, you'll have to accept that. I want you more than I've ever wanted anyone else, but I'm not going to be anyone's dirty little secret, not even yours."

It was Draco's turn to narrow his eyes. "What's that supposed to be, an ultimatum of some kind?"

"No, just a clarification." Harry's expression was calm, although Draco knew him well enough to notice that it cost him some effort. " I promise that I won't bother you again in the future, so you don't have to ward your place like a fortress to get rid of me. If you don't want to be rid of me, however –"

"– then I need to burst into your shop and kiss you in front of everybody there?" Draco finally had his self-control back; it wasn't even hard to sneer at Harry. "Pull the other one, Potter."

Harry cocked his head; at long last, the mischievous sparkle was back in his eyes. "Interesting idea – I was going to suggest something a bit different, but I like your version better. And it's still Harry."

Draco gave a derisive snort. "Great plan indeed. If you want to get me fired, I'm sure you can find a way that doesn't involve public indecency."

"Oh, please. McGonagall wouldn't fire you for hooking up with me, and you know that very well. This isn't about circumstances, Draco, it's about what you want and whether you're willing to stand by it." Harry turned towards the fireplace and reached for the pot of Floo Powder on the mantelpiece; over his shoulder, he added, "If you need me, you know where to find me." With that, he tossed the powder into the fire, shouted "Honeydukes!" and was gone in a whoosh of green flames.

Draco stared after him until the last trace of green had disappeared; then he pulled his knees up to his chest and buried his head in his arms.

He hadn't hated his life this much in a very long time.

 

+++

 

Filius Flitwick was by nature a friendly man. He preferred it when people around him were happy, which wasn't always a helpful trait in the teaching field, but it meant he had developed a rather keen sixth sense for distress over the years. He could usually tell quickly if one of his students was having problems, and even though it wasn't always possible for him to help, at least he took an interest.

Right now, he was a bit worried – not about a student, but about his youngest colleague. He had been one of those among the Hogwarts staff who had spoken up in favour of Draco Malfoy's application for the job of Potions master because he felt the boy deserved a second chance, and so far, he'd had no reason to go back on his conviction. Their new Potions master was clearly an expert in his field, he did his work without much fuss, and if he put the fear of God in his students – well, then he was just keeping a long and proud Hogwarts tradition alive. Compared to Severus Snape, rest his soul, Draco Malfoy had still been a rather sociable addition to the Hogwarts staff.

Lately, however, something was clearly troubling him. Flitwick didn't interact that much with him at school, but he still couldn't help noticing how snappish and defensive the young man had become during the last few weeks. He often seemed preoccupied, as if his thoughts were miles away from what was happening around him, and Flitwick had already heard the students whisper about his constant foul mood and short temper.

Flitwick didn't think there was anyone at Hogwarts who Malfoy might choose to confide in, so he had decided that he was going to take matters into his own hands. Today was the last Hogsmeade weekend before the Christmas holidays, which meant an ideal opportunity to talk to him in private since they were always on shared duty in the village.

Malfoy had complied without resistance when Flitwick had asked him to walk with him, but so far he had been as responsive as a brick wall to all attempts to make him talk. Inquiries about his well-being had been answered vaguely, his replies to Flitwick's remarks about work were monosyllabic, and most of the time, he didn't even seem to take notice of the fact that he had company at all.

Flitwick wasn't so easily deterred, though. When they reached the village that was bathed in the brilliant sunlight of a clear, frosty winter's day, he turned to his young colleague and said with a beaming smile, "Here we are, then. Will you join me for a drink at the Three Broomsticks? I could do with some warming up."

Malfoy, whose gaze had been fixed on the snow-covered path, gave him a startled look; he obviously hadn't heard a word Flitwick had said to him. "What? – I mean, no, thank you." He raised his head, took a deep breath and squared his shoulders; it looked for all the world as if he were about to walk into the thick of a battle. "There's something I have to do, and I'm afraid it can't wait."

"Never mind, my dear boy, never mind," Flitwick replied good-naturedly, albeit a bit bewildered by Malfoy's suddenly grim expression. "I suppose I'll see you later, then?"

Malfoy merely nodded; it didn't look as if he had been listening. He started marching down the High Street of Hogsmeade with long, determined strides, and Flitwick was again reminded of a man setting out to meet his lifelong enemy for their final duel. He could only surmise that Malfoy had matters of crucial importance to attend to; he was therefore quite surprised when he realised that the young man was headed straight for Honeydukes.

Well, Becca always said that one should take chocolate very seriously.

 

 

 

FIN