Harry Potter and the Secret Link Part 20
Marvin Honeyduke, founder of the very same sugary confection shop that proudly bore his surname, found himself unable to control the very happy smile that spread across his face. Ah, youth. He remembered a time when he was young once, attending the very same school of magic only a little less than a mile away, decades ago. Everyone knew of Marvin and his happy-go-lucky disposition, always emphasized by a quirky smile and a skip to his step. Some would say that would be proof that Marvin Honeyduke was of very great character, as he was also an honest and congenial man who priced fairly on his delicious concoctions, going as far as to giving out free samples of his best fudge on Hogsmeade weekends, to the esteemed pleasure of the Hogwarts students that crowded his shops on such special days.
What few people knew about Marvin was that he was a proud Slytherin -though house standings rarely mattered once a student had graduated from Hogwarts. No, he was Slytherin in that he was sly and ambitious to a fault. It was no mere accident that Marvin opened his candy cove near a school. Candy, children... the sheer simplicity of the combination was a guaranteed success, leaving Marvin to wonder why no one had thought of it before.
Oh, well. Their loss, his financial gain.
So while business was always booming, making Marvin a very wealthy man indeed, there was but a simple day out of the year that he loved the most, all from a capitalistic standpoint. Valentine's Day was the one day in the year that revenue soared through the proverbial roof, for what better gift for your loved one than Honeyduke's famous fudge, chocolates, and the ever-so-loved sour flobberworms that wiggled and writhed like real flobberworms when one swallowed? He was especially proud this year, as he'd finally perfected his new product, a bestseller amongst his more adult clientele -Chocolate Kinks, guaranteed to put a little extra kink in the bedroom.
"Wow," Duo said with a big grin on his face as he surveyed one Mr. Marvin Honeyduke cuddling a rather large bag of galleons with a silly smile on his faintly lined face. "Someone's having a good day."
"Have you ever had Honeyduke's chocolate before?" Draco said with a snort. "It's better than sex, and everyone knows it. Even if he had competition, no one can top Honeyduke's. This is like Christmas to him."
"And here I was assuming he'd swallowed one too many happy pills," Duo mused before turning a sly look to Draco. "Better than sex? And you would know... how?"
"Stop thinking about my sex life before I do something I won't regret."
"Speaking of your sex life, how's Harry?" Duo said impishly, sliding a sly glance at Draco once again. The American Gryffindor was silently delighted to see the very faint pink hue to the Malfoy heir's cheeks, though whether it was from embarrassment or anger, he wasn't sure.
"What was that?" Draco demanded.
"What?" Duo said innocently.
"No -don't play dumb! You just implicated that Harry bloody Potter was in some way related to my sex life, and I won't have it! Hear that, Duo Maxwell? I won't stand for it! And stop that infernal grinning before I render you incapable of having your deformed offspring!"
Duo did his best to wipe the smarmy grin from his face, he really did; but seeing someone as casually cool and collected as Draco Malfoy go into a mad rant about defending his virtue from someone he was so obviously enamored with was a laughable concept.
"I love how you immediately assumed my offspring would be deformed," Duo pointed out, his attention almost wholly focused on a section of sweets that boasted they were for those with unique tastes. "That gave your threat a touch of classical elegance, don't you think?"
"Now you're just mocking me," Draco said with a heartfelt sigh. "Why do I put up with people like you? You do nothing but make improper insinuations and malign my character with oh-so-subtle barbs involving Potter and me having sex with him."
"That's the second time you've brought that up," Duo said with hidden glee. "Methinks you have a fixation, Dragon Boy. Cockroach Clusters. They're not really chocolate covered cockroaches, are they?" Duo inquired, studying a gaily decorated box that proclaimed the brand.
"What you see is what you get. And I don't have a fixation. You and the rest of your bloody friends have the fixation," Draco said testily.
"I've had chocolate covered ants before, but that wasn't really on purpose," Duo said absently, his mind going back to the time when he found, much to his disgust, that the sweets in one of the many safe houses had been compromised too little, too late. (1)
"You're not paying any attention to me at all, are you?" Draco lamented, feeling slightly put out that his only audience was more interested in what was on the shelves than his very presence. Malfoys rarely had to pander for the very attention they clearly deserved, and Duo just wasn't playing by the script. Realizing the world didn't revolve around him was a surprisingly refreshing new concept, if not a little discomforting.
"What? Hey, look -Blood Lollies! They don't really taste like blood, do they?"
Right. Well. That answered his question.
"Of course I'm paying attention to you," Duo said after they left Honeyduke's, his hands busy unraveling his blood-flavored lollipop, much to Draco's disgust. "But let's face it. You're not very edible, especially considering the fact that I'm sure cannibalism is illegal here. And there are other ways I can indulge your edibility, but neither Heero nor Harry would thank me for it. Let's face it, Draco -you're way too high maintenance for my taste."
"Don't be disgusting," Draco demanded. "And stop trying to make it seem like Harry gives one wit about me. He doesn't. And I loathe him."
"You mean 'Potter'. If you loathe Harry, you wouldn't call him by his given name."
"I..." ... Damn him. "Why do I tolerate you again?"
Duo shrugged casually as he popped the lolly in his mouth. "Blatant masochistic tendencies? And I have a nice ass."
"I don't see what your arse has to do with anything."
"My ass has a lot to do with it. You wouldn't be seen around me if I looked like a frumpy little nobody, especially since I'm in Gryffindor."
Their next destination, much to Draco's ire, was the new joke shop that sported the name Weasleys Wizard Wheezes, which was one place the Malfoy heir had staunchly vowed never to step foot in. He was only mollified with the knowledge that the annoying Weasley twins spent most of their time at their Diagon Alley branch, despite the fact that the shop in Hogsmeade was fairly new. Unfortunately, Duo had to pick the day the twins were actually present.
Draco delivered a swift glare to the heavens. Bugger you, too.
"Customers!" one of those annoying Weasels cheered, drawing the attention of his identical brother.
"And look who else slithered into our humble store," said the other with keen interest from behind the till, putting down the suspicious item that he'd been tinkering with. "A Malfoy! Why, will wonders never cease?"
"Quite right, Fred," chimed the other.
"As always, George."
Duo grinned gleefully. "Oh, you three know each other?"
"Unfortunately," Draco said dourly. "The Weasley twins. These two are solely responsible for the nice little swamp in one of the school's corridors; a parting gift right before they dropped out."
"I say, the swamp's still there?" Fred -or George, one could never tell with these two- said cheerfully. "Flitwick must have been really impressed. I heard he was keeping it around for the sheer brilliancy of it."
"So nice to know we left an everlasting effect on future generations," the other said.
"No need to ask who you are."
"Long braid, American, palsy-pals with the ferret."
"Duo Maxwell," the twins chimed together.
"Ron's told us tons about you."
"No worries; most of it's good."
Duo smirked. "Ferret, weasel. You people really do have an obsession with likening others to animals."
Draco gritted his teeth when the twins exchanged amused looks.
"The ferret started it," George (Fred?) said.
"Calls us weasels all the time."
"Though to be fair, he only calls Ron 'Weasel'."
"I suppose Malfoy here has never told you about his brief but memorable time as a ferret?"
"Wish we'd been there," said one twin wistfully. "Draco Malfoy..."
"The Amazing Bouncing Ferret," finished the other with a wicked smirk.
"Nope," Duo said casually, "but, being the shrewd businessmen you're both sure to be, I doubt you'd bring up something like just to embarrass my friend here. It's not very conductive to keeping customers around, even if I can almost credit you with indirectly getting me together with my boyfriend with your mistletoe."
"Hey, our mistletoe worked?" Fred said gleefully, his eyes going between Duo and Draco.
"Good show! Nice to see you're allowing yourself to experience the love that dare not speak its name, Malfoy," George said eagerly.
"Beautiful couple. This one has a nice arse," Fred said casually, pointing at Duo.
Draco growled beneath his breath when Duo laughed. "Are you kidding? Dragon Boy is so not my type!"
"His type has a more homicidal maniac quality to him," Draco said testily.
"I'll have you know that Hee-chan is very calm and collected about his homicidal tendencies," Duo said proudly. "He plans it out way in advance. There's no 'maniac' quality about it."
The twins shared wondering looks, as if neither could quite decide if that was meant as a joke. Draco, who damn well knew it wasn't a joke, snickered quietly as Duo went about perusing the shelves with renewed interest, keeping with the playful banter as he went along. The twins were happy to oblige him, matching the Gryffindor's quick wit tit for tat. Somehow Draco knew those three would get on like a house on fire.
"You aren't so bad," Fred Weasley said cheerfully, "for an American."
"Quite right, George," the other twin said, and Draco decided to just give up on guessing which twin was which. It was much easier just to go by the whole twin reference. "Good sense of humor. Not too many people left these days with a good sense of humor, right Gred?"
"Of course, Forge."
"Come back anytime."
"Make lots of purchases to soothe our capitalistic needs," encouraged the other.
"But, you know, coming by to chat wouldn't hurt either," Fred said. "We'd just like it if you bought something, too."
"I like them," Duo said once they'd left the damnable store, tucking away a Canary Cream that Draco was certain had Wufei's name written on it ever since Duo laid his eyes on the product. "Quirky."
"Somehow I knew you would," Draco said bitterly. "You owe me a butterbeer for having to put up with the poverty-stricken since birth for over an hour, Duo. Bloody Weasleys..."
"Y'know, I just have to ask," Duo said casually, following Draco's beeline for the Three Broomsticks. "Do you even know why the entirety of the Weasley clan hates the Malfoy clan and vise versa? The curiosity is killing me."
Draco winced. He was afraid someone would ask that eventually. The reason for the family feud, while valid in the eyes of a Malfoy (pride was at stake here), in retrospect, it sounded so very banal. He almost wished it was something as exciting as a Weasley accidentally slaying a fair Malfoy maiden or the theft of some Malfoy property by a Weasley that at least made it sound somewhat dignified, but...
"Arthur Weasley flung gum in my father's hair in primary school," Draco mumbled, hoping Duo couldn't hear. And damn the American for having excellent hearing.
"You're kidding." When Draco made no move to indicate that he was, Duo stopped in the middle of the Three Broomsticks to stare at Draco, who was hard-pressed to meet Duo's incredulous eyes. "That's it? That's the start of the big Malfoy-Weasley feud? Arthur Weasley flung gum in your father's hair?"
"There's a lot more to it than that," Draco insisted heatedly, but gave up the ghost as soon as he was able to meet Duo's frank gaze. "But yeah, that's the gist of it."
"What's the gist of it?"
Draco closed his eyes in defeat. Of course. He turned to look at the Gryffindor Golden Trio, Harry Bloody Potter leading as usual.
"Arthur Weasley flung gum in Lucius Malfoy's hair," Duo said with that same disbelieving tone that made it seem so farfetched. "That's the whole reason for the great Weasley and Malfoy clash. Gum. In Lucius Malfoy's hair. Arthur Weasley flinging it."
"Wait a tick," Weasel said loudly, sounding just as surprised by this as Duo was. "That's it? No nefarious Malfoy deed, a Malfoy didn't wrong a Weasley -my dad threw gum in Lucius Malfoy's hair, and suddenly two clans absolutely despise each other?"
Draco lifted his chin defiantly. "No, that's why my father hates you and yours. I simply hate you for reasons that are all my own. Your family, I can learn to ignore."
"Oh, I've got to hear this," Duo said mockingly. "Lay it on me, Dragon Boy. What's your own personal vendetta against Ron?"
"I bloody well don't have to tell you anything about it," Draco snapped, unwilling to inform Duo that the reason Draco hated Weasley was because the little bogtrodding git had laughed at his name. Draco was sensitive about his name. Not just anyone could go around saying his name was Draco, and that didn't make his name a laughing matter!
Potter, however, seemed to catch on rather quickly. "Oh. Oh, that's just precious. Like father, like son, huh, Draco?"
And damn Potter for sounding so amused.
"You were present for this momentous event that sparked the new generations hatred?" Duo smirked. "C'mon. Tell me. I really want to hear this."
"Yeah," Weasley said in bemusement. "Can't be any worse than Lucius Malfoy hating my father for throwing gum in his hair."
"I can't believe you don't remember," Draco grumbled, resisting the urge to cross his arms and pout. "You're such a bloody oblivious git, Weasel."
"Don't you remember, Ron?" Harry said with a grin. "First year, on the train? Draco came in all pretty as he pleased, introduced himself... and you snickered at his name?"
The candle flame flickered to life between Weasley's eyes. "That's it. I laughed at your name. That's why you've called me names and gone as far as insulting my mother?"
"I've think we've already established that fact that I'm petty, Weasel," Draco said testily. "And you've insulted my mother, too, Weasley."
"Actually, I probably would have been just as petty if you'd made fun of my name," Duo said reasonably. "Just not for six years. More like six minutes. Damn, Dragon Boy, you take grudges to a whole new level."
"Oh, dear Lord," Granger mumbled. Draco winced again. Looks like she'd caught on, as well, bugger it all. "Second year. You never paid me a bit of attention until that time I accused you of buying your way onto the Slytherin Quidditch team. That was the first time you called me a mudblood."
"I'm petty," Draco grounded out. "We've established that. Moving on now."
"So what did Harry do?" Granger inquired, raising a brow. "You lashing out at people tends to be a character trend. It can't be Harry's mere existence. You're getting along with him just fine now. Sort of."
Unwillingly, Draco glanced at Potter, seeing an almost identical look of realization pass across his eyes as Granger did only moments ago. His slight against Draco was even more hurtful than Granger's accusation and Weasley's amusement combined.
Draco had wanted to be his friend since that day in Diagon Alley, when the both of them were being measured for their robes. The Malfoy heir hadn't an opportunity to meet anyone else his age without his father's influence, and meeting someone who wasn't within his father's chosen companions was a novelty. The boy was scrawny and didn't dress in properly fitted clothing, but he had been interesting. Draco had realized that perhaps taking the kind of attitude with the boy hadn't been wise (as it had been the kind of attitude he'd held with Vince and Greg, who were used to it by that time), and had planned to make up for it when they met again. The fact that the scrawny little thing in baggy muggle clothes happened to be Harry Potter made Draco's desire to be his friend more the sweeter, and when Potter had refused to even shake his hand was... painful.
"Our reason for not getting along has little to do with me being petty," Draco replied flatly. "I think we'll leave it at that."
"Draco-" Harry started, but the Malfoy heir easily brushed him off.
"Butterbeer. Now," he said to Duo, who was looking between the two of them in avid interest. The American Gryffindor seemed to realize that this was the end of the joke, the punchline already being said, and he nodded amiably as they went to a booth.
Unfortunately, it was Potter who decided to slide in beside Draco, effectively trapping the Malfoy heir against the wall. "You can't possible think it's all my fault we never got along, Malfoy!"
"Why can't I?" Draco said quietly, his voice heavy with a tone that clearly stated that Harry Potter just didn't want to Go There.
"You were being a prat," Harry argued. "You were a prat in Diagon Alley, and you were a prat on the train. I've only started to realize that your pratdom has certain layers that, occasionally, are actually very non-abrasive and witty. Then was not that time."
"The eye of the beholder, Potter," Draco said categorically. "Tell me, if I were being a prat that day in Diagon Alley, do you actually think I would have deemed you worthy to talk to, dressed the way you were with your messy hair and broken glasses? For once in my life, there was someone my age who wasn't on my father's list of pre-approved friends. Maybe I took the wrong attitude with you, but I realized that and promised myself I'd try to be better when I saw you on the train.
"And then I found out you were Harry Bloody Potter, and that threw me for a bit of loop. Then bloody Weasley laughed at my name, and when I defended myself, you immediately judged me for wrong. So, really, Potter, why can't I blame you for us never actually finding out if we got along or not? Clearly, it doesn't matter now, since we've been able to tolerate each other's proximity for the last two months." (2)
"You're twisting everything around-"
"No, you're just seeing it from your point of view instead of mine," Draco said. "And we're not going to talk about this anymore, or you won't have to worry about You Know Who by the time I'm finished with you, Potter."
"Butterbeer," Duo announced loudly, cutting off any reply that Potter could have made to Draco's threat. "Five mugs. My treat."
Madam Rosemerta went about retrieving the order, and the five of them plunged into a tense silence. Draco hadn't even noticed the Weasel and the Mudblood had slid into the booth, situating themselves in front of Draco when Duo sat on the end. He suddenly realized he was surrounded by Gryffindors he didn't particularly like as much as, say, Duo; or even tolerate like Harry, even though the little Gryffindor Golden Boy was really starting to piss him off.
"You guys have a lot of serious issues that I'm not willing to put up with," Duo announced once Rosemerta had come and gone again, his warm mug of butterbeer in his hands. "So let's talk about something a little less daunting. Did you see all those girls go head over heels for Zechs? It was like watching flies drop in the face of bug repellant. Freaking hilarious."
"That tall bloke with the platinum blond hair, handsome as hell, has the unfortunate disposition of being a muggle?" Draco said critically. "Oh, yeah. Two seconds into that and Pansy couldn't think of a reason not to drool, purity of blood be damned."
Weasel shook his head disparagingly. "Girls are so weird."
Granger shot him a look as Draco snorted into his butterbeer in amusement. "Weasley, you have no tact," the Malfoy heir said lightly, quite enjoying the vexed expression on Granger's face.
"Of course not," Granger muttered. "If he had tact, he'd be Bill."
"Who's Bill?" Duo asked.
"Ron's oldest brother," Harry replied matter-of-factly. "He has five of them."
"That's nice," Duo said distractedly. "So, are they all redheads? Not, I dunno, brunette, with a sort of bulbous nose? Or a sandy blond with a goatee?"
"No," Weasley said in bemusement. "All redheads. Why?"
Duo sighed. "Well, I was hoping a couple of your brothers decided to keep an eye on you or something, but that hope's been thoroughly dashed... since we're being watched by five different men who are all way older than us. And none of them look like the Weasley twins, either."
Draco tensed, taking an almost casual glance around to spot any familiar faces. He cursed silently once he realized he saw a fair few people he was aware of that happily participated in Death Eater activities.
"I see four," Draco whispered lowly, hiding his mouth behind his mug of butterbeer.
"The number jumped to seven," Duo replied gamely. "Two are hiding in the dark corner table over there. Potential threat, Dragon Boy?"
"Death Eaters," Draco confirmed, finishing off the last of his butterbeer. Harry moved as if to look around, but Draco hissed, "Don't look for them! Spirits, Potter, be discreet, would you?"
"Right. Seven potential Death Eaters, four confirmed." Duo sighed. "Something tells me our day just got a whole lot worse."
(1) There's nothing more disparaging in this world than to be happily munching on a chocolate bar only to find an entire colony of ants has burrowed into the chocolatey center. Nothing.
(2) I love advocating the truly wronged Malfoy. For some unfathomable reason, I've loved him since the beginning despite his evil Slytherin ways, and I attempted to see the events from his point of view. This is how I see things from his mind.
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