One little-known fact about Filius Flitwick was that - in addition to his prodigious talents in Charms and duelling - he was an excellent cook, thanks in large part to the influence of his mother. Madam Flitwick had firmly believed that each of her children should have every advantage with which she could provide them, including the ability to produce mouth-watering dishes for any meal of the day.

From a young age - and that was some considerable time ago - Filius had loved helping out in the kitchen, and if his particular delight was to produce marvelously whimsical decorations for cakes and desserts, no one who saw or tasted them could possibly blame him.

'Of course, I am sadly out of practice,' Filius explained to a tea-towel-swathed gaggle of house elves. They were watching, awed, as he stood atop a wooden stool in the Hogwarts kitchen, conducting a symphony of eggs, beaters, bags of flour, spatulas and melted butter with supremely delicate flicks of his wand.

'Mr Charming Professor must not be so modest!' squeaked one of the elves, and there were numerous supportive murmurs. 'Mr Charming Professor is a master of baking!'

A few minutes later Filius' audience burst into spontaneous and hearty applause as he sent a brimming cake tin zooming into the oven. He hopped down from his stool with a broad smile, and gave a little bow. 'I'll be back to check on it in about three quarters of an hour,' he said happily, turning a knob on a large silver pocket-watch.

That evening there was a chorus of appreciative 'oohs' and 'aahs' when Filius brought his sample cake into the Ravenclaw common room. It was perfectly cooked, dense, and just the right side of too rich. Within the surface of its dark satiny glaze golden constellations shimmered and swirled; an edible variation, Filius explained to his astounded Ravenclaws, of one of the charms used on the roof of the Great Hall.

'Did you use Crinkle-Barked Snakker Tree sap, or just regular chocolate?' Miss Lovegood asked in her usual half-dreaming manner, fork poised thoughtfully over her slice.

'Nothing but Honeyduke's finest chocolate, Miss Lovegood,' Filius assured her.

'Mm, yes, that's probably just as well,' she replied, taking a bite. 'Chocolate does taste rather better, after all, and it doesn't make you swell up and turn purple as a general rule, either.'

(Filius wondered with some trepidation how quickly the Weasley twins would get hold of this interesting bit of information and be on the hunt for Crinkle-Barked Snakker Tree sap. He resolved to mention the matter to Madam Pomfrey the next day, just in case she needed to lay in stores of some kind of antidote. He wouldn't trouble Minerva with the possibility yet, though; she had, of late, been looking particularly preoccupied.)