The day before Valentine's Day, Remus found himself browsing through the boxes and glass jars of candy at Honeydukes. When he had been a student, it had seemed like a glorious array of sweets, a veritable cornucopia, in fact, and he had been hard-pressed to decide what to buy, because his very limited budget would only allow him to buy a few pieces, when he would have tried one of everything in the store if he could have afforded it.
But now that he was an adult and had plenty of money to spend, he still couldn't make up his mind. Toffee and fudge...too ordinary. Pepper Imps and Bertie Bott's Beans...too frivolous for such a romantic occasion. As he heaved a very depressed sigh, he heard a voice call out, "Hello, Remus. Shopping for Valentine's Day?"
He turned to see a young man clad in a lime-green St. Mungo's uniform smiling at him cheerfully. He had long black hair tied back in a braid, and wore a pair of gold wire-rimmed glasses that perched precariously on the bridge of his nose. It was Takeshi Kimura, one of his former students, who was now working as a mediwizard who specialized in treating werewolves.
"Oh...hello, Takeshi," Remus replied dispiritedly. "Yes, I am."
"Then why do you look so glum?" the mediwizard asked, pushing his glasses back up as they started to slide down his nose. "Did you have a fight with the Professor?"
"No, it's nothing like that," Remus assured him. "It's just...well..." He threw his hands up in helpless defeat. "I have no idea what to get Severus for Valentine's this year!"
"Well, there's certainly a lot here to choose from," Takeshi laughed. "And if I recall correctly, the Professor is very fond of chocolate, the Honeydukes fudge in particular. Why not get him a box of that?"
"I got him that last year," Remus sighed.
"I'm sure the Professor won't mind," Takeshi said. "In fact, I'm sure that he would be happy with anything you gave him. It's the thought that counts, after all."
"I know, but...we've been together for several years now, and I really want to get him something special," Remus said. "But Severus is so bloody hard to buy for! He's not really the sentimental type, and he doesn't like flowers..."
"Um...how about jewelry?" Takeshi suggested, a bit doubtfully.
"He already has the serpent ring and bracelet I gave him," Remus replied. "And he was very pleased with them, I must admit, but I don't think he wants any more jewelry. He probably wouldn't even wear those if I hadn't given them to him. It doesn't have to be a great dramatic gesture like a diamond ring, but I would like to give him something that tells him just how much he means to me." Remus laughed ruefully. "I guess that's a lot to expect from a candy shop, even one as wonderful as Honeydukes."
"Hmm," Takeshi said thoughtfully. "You know, in Japan, it's the girls who give the boys chocolate on Valentine's Day..."
"Which doesn't really help me, since there are no girls involved in this relationship," Remus pointed out dryly.
"I know that," Takeshi said with a grin. "What I was going to say was that most girls give away store-bought chocolate, but it's considered a particularly romantic gesture for a girl to give homemade chocolate to a boy she likes."
"That's it!" Remus exclaimed, throwing his arms around the startled mediwizard to give him a hug. "Takeshi, you're a genius!"
"Thank you, Remus, but you really shouldn't do that in public," Takeshi laughed, gently disentangling himself from Remus. "Professor Snape is the jealous type, and I wouldn't want to get on his bad side if he should hear that you were seen embracing me in public and get the wrong idea. Not to mention that my lover is rather possessive as well."
"Sorry," Remus laughed. "But that's a wonderful idea! Are you making Valentine's chocolates for Aric?" Takeshi was currently living with a werewolf who was another one of Remus's former students. Remus had, in fact, introduced them, although he hadn't intended to play matchmaker at the time.
"No, I'm much too lazy for that," Takeshi said lightly, holding up a box of liqueur-filled chocolates. "These will have to suffice. But I do plan to cook dinner for him tomorrow night."
Conveniently, it turned out that Honeydukes had a do-it-yourself kit for those who wanted to try making their own chocolates, so Remus headed back to Hogwarts with some bars of rich, bittersweet dark chocolate (Severus's favorite) and some heart-shaped candy molds. He enlisted Poppy's aid to have her distract Severus by consulting with him over some healing potions, and snuck into Severus's dungeon workshop to make the chocolates. He melted the bars down in a small cauldron set over a low flame, stirring frequently, per the instructions. When the chocolate had completely melted into a smooth, thick liquid, Remus scooped up a small dab with his fingertip and tasted it.
Remus frowned. It tasted rich and delicious, as Honeydukes chocolate should, but he hadn't added anything special or unique to it. All he was doing was melting it down and molding it into a different shape. If that was all he was going to do, he might just as well have bought heart-shaped chocolates at the store.
Remembering the chocolates Takeshi had bought, Remus summoned a bottle of cherry-flavored liqueur from the kitchen and mixed a little into the cauldron, then for good measure, summoned some almonds, chopped them into fine pieces, and stirred them into the melted chocolate, too.
That was better, Remus decided, after another taste test, but it was still lacking something. Then he grinned. Maybe just a touch of an aphrodisiac to spice things up? Surely he would be able to find some in a well-stocked Potions Master's laboratory.
It took some time to find it, as Remus didn't spend much time in the workshop and didn't know how Severus organized his potions, but he finally found the aphrodisiac in a locked cabinet located high up against the wall near the ceiling; he had to climb a ladder to reach it. He supposed that Severus wanted to keep the more dangerous potions secured and out of easy reach, especially since he was a little paranoid after his office had been broken into a few years ago. Some gillyweed had been stolen, and Severus had suspected Harry, who had used some for the second task of the Triwizard Tournament, but Remus thought that it was more likely that Dobby had stolen it for him, since the house-elves had free run of the castle, including the teachers' offices.
The wards on the cabinet would have been difficult for a student to break, but Remus, being an expert in defensive magic (if he did say so himself), found them relatively easy to disarm. He found a vial of aphrodisiac in the back of the cabinet, but as he reached for it, his hand jostled another vial labeled "Erumpent fluid. Caution: highly explosive!"
The vial of Erumpent fluid tumbled off the shelf as Remus grabbed for it, but it slipped through his fingers and shattered against the rim of the cauldron...
Severus headed back to the dungeon, after finally having escaped from the hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey was one of the few colleagues that he respected and actually enjoyed talking to, in part because of their common interest in healing potions, but tonight she had been uncommonly chatty, and he needed to get to his workshop to prepare his Valentine's Day surprise for Lupin.
He smiled and patted the pocket of his robe, which contained all the necessary ingredients, pilfered from the castle kitchen and shrunken down for convenience. Remus should be pleased with the homemade, hand-dipped chocolate creams and caramels he was planning to make. Really, it was beneath his dignity as a Potions Master to waste his talents on something so trivial as candy-making, but Lupin was the sentimental type, and Severus didn't mind humoring his lover with a romantic gesture every once in awhile, especially when his efforts would be paid off tenfold later in bed by a grateful and amorous werewolf. And chocolate was a natural aphrodisiac, or at least, it certainly seemed to function that way for Lupin.
He had just reached the workshop when a loud explosion caused the door to rattle on its hinges. Damn it! Had some idiot student managed to break into the laboratory despite the numerous wards he had set on it? If they weren't dead, he was going to make them wish they were!
But to his surprise, when he opened the door, he found Lupin lying on the floor, covered with a sticky brown substance--chocolate, by the smell of it, and it was also splattered all over the table, walls, floor, and even the ceiling. A number of potion bottles had shattered, and there was a dented, chocolate-smeared cauldron tipped over on end on the floor. The ladder was also lying on the floor next to the dazed-looking werewolf.
"Remus!" Severus cried, rushing to his lover's side. "Are you all right?"
"Er, yes, I'm fine, Severus," Lupin said, smiling sheepishly as he stood up and tried to wipe the chocolate from his face with the chocolate-covered sleeve of his robe. "I'm afraid that I had a little accident."
Now that Severus was assured that his lover was unhurt, indignation began to replace concern. "What on earth were you doing?!" he demanded. "Look at this mess!"
"I'm so sorry, Severus," Lupin said meekly, hanging his head, giving the impression of a pet dog who was being scolded by his master. "I was just trying to make your Valentine's Day present. I wanted to give you something special, and I thought homemade chocolates would be very romantic."
"Oh yes, this is very romantic!" Severus said sarcastically. "Look at how many of my potions and supplies you've destroyed! What caused the explosion, anyway?"
"I accidentally knocked over a bottle of Erumpent fluid," Lupin said in a small voice.
"Not my Erumpent fluid!" Severus groaned. "Do you know how expensive and difficult to obtain that is?"
"I'm sorry, Severus," Lupin repeated. "I'll clean up the mess, and I promise that I'll replace all the potions and ingredients that were ruined."
"You most certainly will!" Severus said sternly, and Lupin nodded, looking rather dejected, and took out his wand and began casting a cleaning spell to sweep up all the broken glass on the floor.
The werewolf looked so wretched that Severus began to feel a little guilty for being so harsh with him. As his anger cooled down, he was actually a little touched that Lupin had gone to such trouble to make homemade chocolates for him. Silly werewolf; Lupin should know that he didn't care about such things. He didn't need any flowers or chocolates or jewelry, as long as he had Lupin by his side.
Severus leaned over and ran his tongue across a startled Lupin's cheek. "Not bad," he purred in a silky voice. "Dark chocolate, with a hint of cherry cordial and a bit of almond."
"Severus?" Lupin asked hopefully, beginning to perk up a little.
"Let the house-elves clean up this mess," Severus said, wrapping an arm around Lupin's waist, heedless of the melted chocolate that was now transferring itself to his own robes. "I believe that we should retire to our quarters so that I may enjoy my Valentine's Day present." He licked Lupin's cheek again, then nibbled gently on a chocolate-smeared earlobe; Lupin sighed.
"Chocolate-covered werewolf," Severus said with a grin. "Exactly what I wanted for Valentine's Day!"