Author's Note: Thank you all for your lovely reviews. And special thanks to my wonderful beta, Dreamy_Dragon, without whom my stories would not have been posted, and to all the people behind the scenes at SH. Virtual chocolate-cakes to all of you!
Opening his pantry door, Severus beheld a confused young man. With a slight nod Malfoy Senior Disapparated.
The young man’s eyes narrowed, and he went into a defensive stance. Severus didn’t know whether to mourn what a war had done to his friend’s son or whether to be proud of Draco’s ‘constant vigilance’.
“I think it is appropriate for you to call me Severus now, although here I am known as Zelko Princip.”
Severus led the still shell-shocked visitor to his settee. Draco’s expression showed amazement, confusion, worry, anger and pure joy in short order.
“It’s truly you! You can’t know how often I have wished you were still alive!”
“Draco, I think I know. I have felt that I have abandoned you and all the other Slytherins at the worst possible time, but I saw no other way. Even without the snake-bite, I was a wreck. I am sure I would have lost my sanity completely had I not given myself the time to heal – body, mind and soul.”
The young man held up a hand to forestall any more confessions.
“You don’t need to explain further. I was a complete mess too. Don’t tell Mother and Father, but I even went to a Muggle therapist Granger recommended.”
Draco proceeded to talk about his family, his business and his surprising friendship with Granger (“She’s a Ravenclaw at heart, which makes her bearable for us. And she talks about you a lot.”)
Since he was the CEO of Draconian Measures, Draco had to leave for London the next day while his parents stayed for another week. After they had taken their farewell with a sumptuous dinner at the resort, Severus returned home. Two days later, he received an e-mail from Hermione.
You must have made quite an impression on Draco. He talks about you all the time, even if he is very closed-lipped about the reason for his sudden trip. While I do not remember the Malfoys’ hospitality during the war fondly, I hope there’s nothing wrong with my friend’s parents. Although if it were something serious, he wouldn’t be in such a good mood.
I am rambling. We finished the project at 3 a.m. this morning, and I haven’t had any sleep yet. Hopefully, Draco didn’t pester you too much. For all his pure-blooded suaveness, he does behave like an eager puppy when he is on to something. Don’t tell him I said so.
Alas, I am not too tired to notice that you have neatly avoided answering my questions. Please answer me this one: Are we at a point in our friendship that such questions become important?
I am thirty-three, unattached and all my previous relationships have failed either early on because I will not play down my intelligence to assuage a wizard’s insecurity, or the relationship dawdled into oblivion because we were both workaholics.
Well, she was forcing his hand with that question.