Thursday was Harry Potter´s least favourite day of the week. This was mainly due to the fact that Thursday afternoon´s schedule was easily the worst possible. It started with Divination after lunch – a fact that always spoiled his appetite – and didn´t improve, for Divination was followed by the only subject he hated more than the lessons in Sybill Trelawney´s heavily perfumed tower.
To make matters even worse, it was double Potions on Thursday and it was double Potions with the Slytherins.
Harry entered the classroom with a slight feeling of doom. His best friends, Ron and Hermione, walked on his left and right. Ron, who had already suffered through Divination with him, looked as miserable as Harry felt. Hermione – still in a good mood after her Arithmancy lesson – tried to distract her two friends, though from a neutral point of view going over the Potions essay that was due this lesson was not a very good choice of topic.
The three Gryffindors dropped in their usual seats at the back of the classroom and unpacked their books, inkwells and parchment.
Harry had just set down his cauldron, when their teacher, Professor Snape, entered the classroom in a flourish of black robes. The potions master stalked to his desk and turned, making his robes billow around him dramatically. He sneered at the assembled students at large before he glared at several well-chosen victims sternly. Harry was, not surprisingly, among the chosen ones.
After Snape had stared his fill, he stepped behind his desk and collected the homework with a swish of his wand.
Harry looked miserable. He hadn´t slept well all week after some particularly nasty nightmares starring the Dark Lord. Anything else than a T would be a surprise for the short and poorly researched essay he had to hand in. Well, at least he had managed to hand in something, for facing Snape after failing to finish the assignment in time were certainly not funny. Not that the man was going to be delighted by the essay, but it was at least something.
"Today," Snape startled Harry out of his musings, "you will be preparing Amicitia. Who can tell me the properties of the Amicitia potion?"
Not surprisingly, Hermione´s hand was up in an instant.
The potions master looked around the classroom, ignoring the Gryffindor know-it-all thrice, but when no other student volunteered he nodded at the girl with a sigh.
"The Amicitia potion, or Amortentia Minor, is a friendship potion. It induces friendship in people, who share the same brew. Its use is not banned like the Amortentia potion´s, but it isn't used very often as the brewing requires blood from the persons supposed to become friends. People who are not friends rarely agree to brew it together," Hermione quoted the textbook. "The first to brew Amicitia was Wendelin the Weird, who is also known for her fondness of witch-burnings. Among the achievements of Wendelin the Weird are also..."
"That will do, thank you Miss Granger," Snape drawled. "You are right. Amicitia is a friendship potion. As we have to test whether your brew works, you will switch partners for today´s lesson. Testing won´t be very effective if you start with a friend."
Harry felt an inkling of dread. He knew who he was going to end up with without a doubt. Perhaps, if he put all his willpower to it, it wouldn´t happen. He squeezed his eyes shut and concentrated with every fiber of his being, but it was in vain.
"Potter, move your things to Malfoy´s table," the potions master ordered, his tone leaving no room for discussion.
Ron, who had just been teamed up with Pansy Parkinson, shrugged his shoulders apologetically as if the whole mess was his fault. Harry smiled at him weakly while he packed his things and moved to the front of the classroom, where Malfoy was waiting for him.
"I hope you´re going to pay attention in potions for once. I do not intend to fail this assignment due to your inaptitude," Malfoy sneered instead of a greeting.
Harry knew he´d get in trouble if he became involved in a quarrel with the blond in potions. Snape was the Head of Slytherin and he favoured his house all the time. If there was trouble with Harry and Malfoy it wasn´t going to be Malfoy serving detention, this was for sure. Keeping this in mind, Harry gritted his teeth and unpacked his things in silence.
"The instructions are on the blackboard," Snape sneered, revealing them with a wave of his wand, "I hope each team has at least one person who is able to read."
Harry read the instructions carefully. Snape had a tendency to hide crucial information somewhere near the end of a line where it was easily overlooked.
"Okay," said Malfoy, "this doesn´t sound too complicated. Go and fetch the ingredients. You are able to read the labels on the jars, aren´t you? I´ll start the brewing."
For the blink of an eye Harry thought about complaining about being used as a leg man, but then Malfoy was the best brewer in class save Hermione. So perhaps doing as the blond said wasn´t the worst idea and after his poor homework Harry could do with a good mark for this assignment. If Malfoy helped him to get it, he wasn´t going to complain.
When Harry returned to their table with a tray of herbs, some vials of liquid ingredients and a jar of beetle eyes, Malfoy had already the base of their potion bubbling merrily in his cauldron.
"What is this, Malfoy?" Harry asked with interest. Snape was going to make them write an essay about the brewing, Harry was sure of it. So he´d better pay attention and be well informed about how it was done.
"A base of frog spawn, bat milk and firewhisky," Malfoy said as if explaining the obvious. "Cut the shrivelfig, Potter. It´s needed next."
Harry did as he was told and added the fig to the brew when he was finished.
"Don´t you know anything, Potter?" Malfoy complained. "You´re supposed to spread the fig dices into the potion, not throw." He stirred the potion vigorously.
"Is this the right way of stirring?" Harry asked. "It looks rather violent."
"It is the right way if the idiot you have been teamed up with produced a lump of shrivelfig. Get me some moonstone powder. It will help repair the demage."
Harry glared at Malfoy angrily, but obeyed. "Here," he held the jar of moonstone powder out to the blond and the Slytherin added a pinch, and then another.
Harry didn´t add any ingredients again. He cut and chopped, he minced and sliced and offered the results of his work to Malfoy, who added them to their cauldron. Everything went well. There was a small silvery cloud of vapour on the surface of their potion as the instructions said there should be.
"If your potion has started to emanate the steam of good will – it is a silver, foglike substance – which it should about now, take a clean silver dagger and cut your finger. You need three drops of blood from each of you. Mix the blood with one tiny drop of phoenix tears and five drops of ink of squid in a glass vial and pour the mixture into the cauldron. Stir for two minutes clockwise and then put the fire out. We´ll test your potion as soon as it has cooled enough to embibe." Snape stalked from table to table, pointing out mistakes and giving advice how to correct them.
"Get the mixture ready save my blood," ordered Malfoy. "Make sure the vial and dagger are clean."
Harry obeyed again. If he managed to stay calm with Malfoy for another ten minutes, he´d be able to get an E or O for a potions assignment. It might actually save him from failing potions at the end of the year.
Malfoy never stopped stiring their brew, but he observed Harry closely. "Give it to me now and stir while I add my own blood."
Harry took the spoon from the blond and stired like he had seen Malfoy do it.
The blond cleaned the silver dagger Harry had used to cut his finger and cut his thumb. Harry was pleased to see that the Slytherin flinched in pain. The blond, however, wasn´t distracted for long. He added three drops of blood to the vial and then shook it gently to make the ingredients mix properly.
"Continue stiring," he ordered. He added the final ingredient dropwise. The potion´s colour changed from a silvery white to a light blue. The blue grew darker and darker until it was nearly violet. One look into Malfoy´s face told Harry that this was not how the potion was supposed to be. There was no time to worry, though, as the potion exploded with a loud bang and splattered the two boys from head to toe.
Malfoy rubbed his eyes with his palms, trying to get the hot concoction out of them. Harry licked his lips nervously. What was he to do? He had no idea which was the correct means to wash the potion away. Some potions reacted rather violently when they came in contact with water and there was no water in this brew, so maybe it wasn´t safe to use.
Licking his lips turned out to be a mistake. The potion tasted vile. Bitter and sour. But it smelled rather good, of lavender soap and honey. Strange.
The professor was by their side in an instant. He told Malfoy to look up to the ceiling and dripped a green liquid from his pocket into his eyes.
"Here we go, no harm done," he soothed his student. "As you got some potion in your eyes you might have friendly feelings for Mr. Potter for a little longer than intended, but apart from that... The potion," Snape went back into lecture mode, "has greater effect when it comes in touch with mucous membranes, such as the inner side of an eyelid."
He looked at Malfoy again. "You should have paid better attention, Mr. Malfoy. I´m disappointed you let Potter´s incompetence influence your brewing techniques." Suddenly he stopped in his ranting and stepped closer to the blond. He sniffed at his robes. Then he turned on the spot and hurried to the front of the classroom in a flourish of robes. He returned with a small silver spoon and took a bit of what was left in their cauldron.
The potions master sniffed the potion, then he took the spoon closer to a torch to see better. When he returned to their table he was practically running.
"Stupid children! The recipe says cherry leaves! You put in cherry roots!"
Both boys nodded.
"And moonstone?" Snape asked urgently.
"The shrivelfig was in a lump," Malfoy said defiantly.
Snape laughed. It was a cruel sound, normally reserved for Harry.
"Potter, were you hit in the eye or any other mucous tissue?" The potions master asked severely.
"No, Sir," Harry answered truthfully. "But I may have licked a drop from my lip unintentionally."
"Wonderful!" Snape giggled. This time there was no cruelty in it and Harry thought he had never heard a more frightening sound. "Hilarious. The headmaster will be exhilarated."
"Sir?" It was Hermione who dared address Snape when her classmates stared at the man in fearful disbelief. "Sir? What´s the matter?"
Snape snapped out of his laughing fit. "Tell me that you added the scarab eyes!" He shouted at Malfoy and Harry.
Malfoy nodded. The blond looked as if he was going to bolt any moment.
"Thanks Merlin for small mercies," sighed the potions master. "Stay away!" he advised Hermione, who was approaching Harry. "Don´t touch the potion!" He drew his wand and started muttering in rapid Latin. Little by little the portions of potion disappeared. First from the floor and table, from the chairs and books. Then from Malfoy and Harry´s robes, hair and faces and at last from their cauldron.
Harry groaned when Snape emptied their cauldron without taking a sample for marking.
"Well," Snape said matter-of-factly, "let´s see what you lot learned. What do you get when you replace cherry leaves by cherry roots in Amititia and add moonstone?"
Hermione was pale like a ghost. "Amortentia," she muttered.
"I´m glad at least one person pays attention," sneered the potions master. "And why did I ask about the scarab eyes?"
"The addition of scarab eyes makes the effects of any love potion temporary. The span of efficacy depends on the amount of scarab eyes added." Hermione was back to quoting the textbook.
Harry´s stomach dropped. A love potion? He didn´t feel any difference! Perhaps they had done it wrong? Hopefully they had done it wrong! Feeling a little less miserable, he looked up to meet Malfoy´s eyes. Malfoy´s wonderful, stormy grey eyes. Why hadn´t he ever noticed how expressive those eyes were?
Drawn to the blond like a moth to the light, Harry stepped closer.
Malfoy blinked and bridged the distance between them in an instant.
Harry thought that the blond´s lips were the sweetest thing he had ever tasted. Better than treacle, better than chocolate, better than anything. He raised his arms to embrace the blond, but was pulled away by the neck of his robes.
"I think not," snarled Snape.
Harry and the blond both panted. Harry found the disappointment showing in Malfoy´s eyes most endearing.
"Congratulations, gentlemen," continued the potions master mercylessly, "be prepared to be enamoured with each other for a while. How long depends on the amount of scarab eyes added." Snape sounded like Hermione when he said the last and he smirked at her cruelly. "I suggest you remove from this classroom and keep him away from for said while or he´s going to embarrass himself."
Harry felt Ron and Hermione grab his elbows and lead him out of the potions classroom. He craned his neck to keep Malfoy – Draco! – in sight for as long as possible. The blond tried to follow them, but he was held back by Crabbe and Goyle. How dare they! Draco was his and his alone!
Ron and Hermione took him back to Gryffindor tower. Hermione became absorbed in her potions text within minutes, while Ron tried to engage Harry in a game of chess.
"Watch out, mate," the redhead said, "or you´ll lose your queen."
Harry couldn´t care less. He had already lost a rook, several pawns and both bishops. What was playing chess good for, if he couldn´t play with Draco! Harry pictured the blond´s elegant hands on the chess pieces. Oh yes, playing chess with Draco sounded interesting.
"Harry!" Ron fanned his hand in front of his friend´s eyes.
"Oh, sorry, Ron," Harry muttered. He reached for a knight and moved it.
"Harry, you were check-mate five minutes ago!"
The chess pieces abused Harry for playing like a fool and shook their fists at him.
"Sorry, I was distracted," Harry muttered.
"And you have every right to be," said Ron. "I mean, if it was me, I´d try to AK myself! Enamoured with Malfoy! Urgh!" The redhead made a face.
"Don´t you talk about him disrespectfully!" Harry cried angrily. "You´re not worthy of speaking his name!"
"Am I not?" Ron cried equally angrily. "So your best friend is now second to the Slytherin head bully?"
"How dare you!" Harry slapped Ron in his face. "How dare you insult him!"
"Boys, calm down!" Hermione stepped between her friends just in time to avoid a brawl. "I suggest we go to the Great Hall for dinner now. We´re all going to feel more relaxed with a full stomach."
Harry had no objections. There was a chance they were going to run into Draco in the Great Hall. What an opportunity! He urged his friends on all the way downstairs, he ran ahead several times, but they always caught up. By the time they reached the Great Hall Harry suspected them of not approving of his feelings for Draco.
Draco was already at the Slytherin table, but he ignored the plate in front of him in favour of craning his neck to get a good view of the door. The moment Harry entered the hall, Draco was out of his seat and hurried to meet him. Harry approached the blond with equal speed.
They hugged when they met. Draco whispered "I missed you!" into Harry´s ear and the wizarding hero felt cherished like never before in his life. Things improved even, when Draco started to kiss Harry´s neck, but then they were seperated rather violently. Snape and McGonagall had come out of nowhere and each head of house grabbed their student and pulled them away from the other boy.
"I´m sorry, he escaped!" piped Hermione as Snape glared at her.
"We´re going to the headmaster´s office. Now." Professor McGonagall´s tone left no room for discussion. "Miss Granger, Mister Weasley, you may proceed to your dinner."
Harry tried to get closer to Draco all the way up to the headmaster´s office, but the two professors paid close attention and stayed between him and the blond. Draco managed to dodge Snape twice, but McGonagall wasn´t tricked easily and in the end it was all in vain.
"Sit." The headmaster looked at the small group from behind his desk with concern. Harry tried to get the chair beside Draco´s but the two professors coaxed them into the seats furthest apart. "Tea? Biscuit?" The old wizard pointed at the tea set on the desk. Professor McGonagall was the only one to accept the offer and the headmaster poured her a cup. The witch added some candy and stired gently. The clattering of the teaspoon in the cup sounded like a small bell.
"It has come to my attention," the headmaster said looking at Harry and Draco in turn, "that you discovered very new feelings for each other."
The two teenagers nodded eagerly. Harry thought that the pink flush on Draco´s cheeks made the blond even more attractive.
"I see," mused the headmaster and poured himself a cup, too. "Severus, this is worse than I anticipated from your report."
Snape didn´t answer at once, but wrestled Draco back to his seat. McGonagall dropped her cup when she moved to intercept Harry. The young Gryffindor wriggled and kicked to come free. At last he succeeded. He wasn´t a seeker for nothing, after all. Draco ducked under Snape´s arms and finally, finally, another sweet kiss was shared. A part of Harry´s mind asked why he hadn´t realised before how delicious in every sense of the word the Slytherin was.
The pleasure didn´t last long as the teachers seized them around their middle and pulled them apart. Harry and Draco clung to each other for dear life, but it was no use. Snape and McGonagall were stronger.
"," the headmaster said sternly, "I´m disappointed. I can understand that being muggle-raised doesn´t know about the proper procedures, but you being a pure-blood should know better than to jump your love like a common tyke. Tell me what the proper procedures are, Mr. Malfoy."
Harry was curious to hear what Draco had to say as he himself had no idea at all what the headmaster was talking about.
"Courtship," said Draco. "The proper way for a wizard of breeding to approach his love is courtship."
"I see you are informed," said Dumbledore and glared at the blond over the rims of his glasses. "Then why, prey tell, didn´t you act on what you learned."
"We´re at one with each other." Draco smiled at Harry brilliantly and the Gryffindor nodded vigorously.
"This is not a question of being at one with each other," said Dumbledore. "This is a question of proper behaviour and of respect for the person you love, . Would you want the public to think that is easy?"
"I will kill anybody who claims that Harry is anything but respectable." Draco´s cheeks were flushed with anger.
"At the moment you are the only one whose behaviour suggests so," the headmaster said softly. "By giving in to your desires you besmirch Harry´s dignity."
"Stop talking about me like I was a girl!" Harry grumbled.
"I have no intention to imply that you are a girl, Harry," said the old wizard. "I´m only dealing with first, as he knows about the traditions, which have to be followed. I was coming to you in only a moment."
Harry glared at Dumbledore angrily.
"Harry," the old man said gently, "in the wizarding world you are expected to court a person if you fall in love with them. You know, to show respect, to give little presents, to show your devotion in little gestures. If you don´t court, your relationship will not be taken serious."
"But Ron and Lavender..."
"Oh, Mr. Weasley and Miss Brown both know that this isn´t something serious. There´s no love involved. wouldn´t behave like that with Miss Granger, would he?" The headmaster´s eyes twinkled.
"I expect you two to court each other for at least two weeks," Dumbledore looked at the two boys over the rims of his halfmoon spectacles. "At least! Am I understood?"
"Yes, Sir," both boys whispered.
"Then you may go."
Draco opened the door and ushered Harry outside with a polite gesture. The Gryffindor beamed at him and the blond growled "Prepare to be courted, my Harry," as he followed him outside.
"Two weeks, Albus?" McGonagall sighed as soon as the students had left. "What are we going to do when the two weeks are over? Will you allow them to become engaged, or what?"
"With the courtship they won´t at least embarrass themselves more than necessary. Severus here assured me that, given the amount of scarab beetles in the recipe, the effect of the potion should wear off within a week."
Snape nodded. "That is," he added softly, "if they followed the recipe concerning the scarab eyes. They didn´t for the cherry leaves."
"Didn´t you analyze the potion?" cried McGonagall.
"And risk touching it? Or another student touching it? The stuff was all over the potions classroom!"
"We don´t blame you, Severus," Dumbledore said soothingly. "Not at all."
Meanwhile Harry and Draco were walking down to the Great Hall.
"Is this really necessary?" Harry broke the silence after two staircases.
"Of course! I´m a Malfoy," the blond informed him. "Malfoys always follow the traditions. For our future´s sake we have to. Though I will admit," he added with a mischieveous grin, "that you, my love, are sweet enough to let me forget traditions. Come, lets hurry or I´ll forget my good intentions."
He caught Harry´s hand in his and pressed Harry´s fingers to his lips for the briefest moment before dropping it and running downstairs at top speed.
The Gryffindor blushed and followed the blond to the Great Hall.
Draco waited for him by the doors. He proceeded to the Gryffindor table as soon as Harry had caught up and walked up to where Ron and Hermione sat.
"Make room for Harry, Longbottom," the blond Slytherin spat at the clumsy boy who sat beside Ron. Neville scrambled away in a hurry.
Draco used the sleeve of his robes to wipe the table. "Sit here, dear," he said, his eyes shining with affection. Harry sat obediently. The blond pulled an empty plate towards the Gryffindor and started piling bits of meat and vegetables on it. "Here, try a bit of everything." Draco said softly.
Harry inhaled deeply as the blond bent over him. Draco smelled so good! Of lavender soap and honey! Mmmmh! The blond was finished with his task of setting food on Harry´s plate too quickly and he withdrew. A gentle touch to Harry´s hair and then Draco was gone.
"Merlin, I´m going to be sick!" growled Ron. "You let him touch you!"
"Is it inappropriate in a courtship?" Harry asked with concern. He had no intention of doing this wrong as it seemed to be so important to Draco.
"A courtship?" shrieked Ron. Hermione slapped his arm. Around them several students turned to get a better look.
"A courtship?" the redhead repeated softer. "Are you crazy, mate?"
"Dumbledore says it´s the proper way to proceed in our relationship," Harry said defiantly.
"What relationship?" Ron whispered in a high-pitched voice. "We´re talking about Draco bloody Malfoy!"
Ron´s howl of pain as Harry´s fist made contact with his nose caused the whole student body to stop in whatever they were doing and stare at them. "You will not speak ill of Draco in my presence!" Harry spat at his friend who was trying to scramble to his feet. Hermione hurried to help Ron, all the while glaring at Harry angrily.
The Gryffindor hero´s words reverberated in the Hall. People stared at him in surprise, some in amusement. One after the other, they turned away to resume their meal, but Harry had only eyes for Draco.
The blond smiled at him lovingly and when he thought that most of the students were no longer observing them, he blew a kiss at his courted. Harry acted to catch it and put it in his pocket for later. He was startled out of his thoughts by a groan beside him. Ron had finally managed to stand up. His nose was bleeding and he looked beyond livid.
Harry decided that becoming engaged in a brawl wasn´t going to impress Draco and left the Hall for Gryffindor Tower.