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It was shortly after closing time that Harry decided to visit the new shop. He’d passed by earlier that day and had been drawn by the sweet, fragrant flowers that bloomed all over the front of the shop. He hadn’t had the chance to stop by, but he’d certainly admired the rows of plants growing up the quaint brick wall and framing the windows in a multitude of colours and scents.

He had originally planned on stopping by after work, but he’d ended up staying later than expected and by the time he was done, all of the stores had closed for the evening. A little disappointed but certainly undaunted, Harry had shifted forms, wings and feathers and beak sprouting with ease as he lifted into the air with a buzzing hum. 

There was something freeing about exploring in this form. About passing almost unnoticed as he flitted about, carefree within the protective wards of Diagon Alley. 

He could smell the flowers all the way across the alley and didn’t waste any time at any of the beds or baskets decorating the restaurants and shops nearby. They were nice, but this new shop smelled heavenly.

He hovered in front of the large mural of plants, his wings barely visible as they flapped, keeping him in place. The dahlias and violets had him chirping in excitedly, and he noted with delight the plethora of snap dragons and lilies. On top of that were numerous flowers he did not even recognize but that amazed him in their colourful splendour. And he couldn’t help but dart forward for a quick taste.

Oh, how sweetly divine. He buzzed around the flowers, chirping excitedly at the incredible display. So many of them too, blooming all at once. A feast he just couldn’t resist.

It wasn’t that he needed to eat in his animagus form. It was really more of an indulgence than anything else. But there was something about being engulfed in the sweet aroma of the flower, wings occasionally brushing the velvet softness of the petals, and drinking the nectar, the liquid ambrosia. 

Harry sang delightedly. 

Through the window he could see a large shape moving around, most likely the owner, but the figure made no move to open the door - it only observed from afar, so Harry did not feel threatened. He did feel vaguely embarrassed by just how much he was enjoying the flowers at someone else’s expense, though, and he promised himself that he would purchase flowers the next time he had a spare moment.

Not to mention how nice it would be to have flowers like these in his own home…

He let out a disappointed chirp when he realized that it was getting a little late and he needed to get home. He buzzed in front of the window for a moment, his tiny, iridescent form reflecting off the glass, before flying back down the alley, away from his new favourite place. 

He wondered if it would be odd if he took a lunchtime nap hidden amongst the flowers…

The bell rang cheerfully as Harry opened the door and stepped into the flower shop. It was cooler inside and smelled of so many wonderful flowers that Harry had a hard time not simply transforming then and there to explore every inch of the place. He looked around instead, smiling slightly at the cozy but refined interior. It was obviously an older building with exposed brick outside and inside, but the display furniture was well made, featuring dark polished wood that allowed the colours of the flowers to truly shine. 

The ceilings were tall and lined with glass jars filled with different cuttings, and there were few places that did not have some type of plant occupying the space.

Harry loved it instantly. “Beautiful,” he sighed happily. 

“Thank you,” a voice spoke to his right. 

Harry jumped and spun, flushing slightly at being caught off guard. And to have been overheard - “Tom Riddle?” He blinked, a little surprised to see the man standing there, a dark apron over his trousers and shirt. He had his sleeves rolled up to his elbows, exposing his muscled forearms. Harry swallowed as his eyes traced the pale skin before flicking back up to meet amused eyes.

“Harry Potter,” Tom replied. “You seem surprised.” His lips curled upwards ever so slightly.

Harry crossed his arms, trying his hardest not to flush. “I just - well, I mean - you work here?” He couldn’t help it. He hadn’t imagined Tom Riddle, Slytherin prefect, top of their class, to be working at a florist shop. He’d imagined something… well, a little sneakier. Politics, maybe. Or duelling. Even research like Harry. The man was certainly intelligent and skilled enough for all of those.

Tom’s smirk grew. “I own the place,” he said. “Is that so strange?”

“Wh-what? You? I mean, er, no, not really, I mean, if anyone was going to run a successful business, it’d be you, I just - a flower shop? I didn’t… expect that, really.” From Neville Longbottom, perhaps, but Tom Riddle?

Tom raised a brow at the odd compliment. “Well, I found myself intrigued by the application of magic in herbology, and opening a flower shop seemed an excellent way to profit from it.”

Harry blinked. “Right, I guess… that makes sense.” He ran a hand through his hair, leaving the shorter strands sticking straight up. He saw Tom’s eyes dart up to his hair then back to his face, lips twitching minutely. He dropped his hand a little self-consciously. He supposed Tom would be put off by such a dishevelled look. Not that Harry cared, of course. He flushed a little at the thought.

“So, Harry,” Riddle tilted his head, eyeing the shorter man with dark eyes. There was always something about Tom’s eyes that made Harry shiver. They weren’t cruel, but they were hard to read, and it was an unknown that was both exciting and worrisome. Because Harry really had no idea what Tom was thinking. 

“Er - yes?”

“What brings you to my shop?”

“Oh,” Harry started, an embarrassed laugh escaping his lips. “Right, um, flowers. You sell flowers.” He ran his hand through his hair again, unable to help the automatic action.

Tom’s lips twitched again, but then the man let out a sound of amusement. “Indeed I do.”

Harry blushed. Gods, he must sound like an idiot, stammering and stuttering and stating the obvious.

Tom seemed to take pity on him. “Would you like to buy some?”

Harry nodded quickly. “Yes, yes please. I - they’re very beautiful and they smell lovely.” He smiled then, bright and excited. He saw Tom falter and rushed to keep the conversation flowing. “You grew them yourself, then? That’s truly amazing. Neville always told me about the plants he was growing, but he didn’t really do flowers, which really is such a shame, because what you’ve done…” he trailed off then, taken in once again by the sight of scintillating colours and crooning plants that bent towards him in greeting, showing off their petals and waving their leaves. “It’s incredible.” He turned back to Tom, who was staring at him, straight and stiff. 

Harry faltered.

Tom stared at him for a moment longer before finally speaking. “Did you have any colours in mind?”

“Oh, um, no, not really… I’m partial to orange and yellow, but I’m not picky,” Harry waved his hands reassuringly. “Really, I’m happy with anything.”

Tom gave him an odd half-smile, as if he thought Harry’s request strange, but he said nothing more as he gathered enough flowers to make a larger bouquet than Harry had expected. It was truly exquisite, the way Tom arranged the flowers. Lush foliage nurtured the vibrant colours and long strands of grass and vine-line tendrils trailed down, bringing the bouquet to a delicate, wispy end. 

Once the stems were tied and wrapped in colourful paper, Tom handed it over. “As it is your first visit, it will be free of charge.”

Harry started. “What? No - I couldn’t. This is far too much. There’s no need - just because we know each other - “ 

“Nonsense, it is a simple acknowledgement of gratitude for your visit,” Tom replied.

“But I - “ Harry faltered. He couldn’t just tell Tom that he’d already been by - stealing nectar from his flowers for a free feast. He flushed slightly in embarrassment. Tom would probably think him a thief or maybe a stalker. 

Tom quirked a brow. “If you truly feel that bad, I would simply request that the next time you require a bouquet, you come to me.”

Harry’s eyes widened and his blush flared a little further. “R-right,” he said. “I will. I mean, of course I will. Thank you, Tom. For this. I really appreciate it.”

Tom smiled then, a horribly charming smile, and Harry decided that it was probably best that he leave before he made a fool of himself. 

He stepped out after a hasty wave and took a few steps away from the shop before pausing and raising the bouquet to his nose. He inhaled the smell of the flowers and smiled.

Harry left the flowers on the dining table of his small apartment. He couldn’t help but grin and stick his nose right in the middle of the bouquet each time he passed by. 

It was strange to associate flower arranging with someone as Slytherin as Tom Riddle. Not that Harry really had anything against the house. Sure, he and Draco Malfoy might have had a bit of a petty rivalry, but how was Harry supposed to know that declining to share a compartment was considered a snub? 

In the end, Harry had gone into Ravenclaw, and had merely observed the strange rivalry between the Gryffindors and the Slytherins. He’d found it amusing at times, but mostly annoying, as they would often try to slip attacks in while at the library, disrupting everyone else’s studies. And now, almost a decade later, such rivalries seemed… petty. Especially considering just how nicely a certain Slytherin had turned out.

Harry hummed as he replaced the water in the vase, fluffing the flowers and picking out a few yellowed leaves. It had been almost a week since he’d gotten them, and the flowers still looked fresh and bright. Harry wondered if they were charmed to stay alive, or if they had been grown in a special way. Knowing Riddle, it would be the latter.

He had yet to return to the store, both in his animagus form and as a human. He had been far too busy with work and exhausted afterwards and had mostly just come home and passed out after a few bites of dinner. But he was close to a breakthrough - he just knew it. There had to be a way to maintain a partial transformation of one’s animagus form. To transform the parts desired without sacrificing size or integral structure. 

Harry breathed in the scent of the flowers one more time before heading off to work. It would be yet another day of gruelling research, but it would be worth it. 

Still, sometimes he did wish he could just curl up in bed and have someone else take care of him for a day. That sounded… so very nice.

Two days later, Harry fell to temptation and visited the flower shop after work. As before, it was closed, though it seemed that Tom was still inside, likely cleaning and prepping for the next day. Such a hard worker, Harry chirped in admiration as he hovered in front of the window, wings buzzing. He probably worked longer hours than Harry did. Harry wondered idly if Tom had someone waiting for him at home in the evenings, missing him when he worked especially late.

He shook the thoughts away with a high squeak, distracting himself from such unwanted speculation by diving into the flowers with delighted enthusiasm, unable to quite resist when they just smelled so good. He wasn’t sure how long he spent amongst the petals, but when he finally finished, the sun was just setting. He let out a tired little sigh, landing on one of the flower stems. He preened his feathers a little, allowing the evening sky to lull into a light doze. 

The sound of the bell ringing as the door opened startled him awake. He jerked into the air, wings beating as he turned to see what it was. 

Tom. It was Tom, wearing a light jacket over his shirt, his apron missing. He was locking up, and then turning and - stopping, as his gaze fell upon Harry’s form, small as it was. 

For a moment they simply stared.

Then Tom gave a small smile. “Hello,” he said in that deep, smooth voice of his.

Harry flitted a little closer, unable to help himself. He let out a little song, high and cheerful, before remembering himself and flying back, extremely glad that he couldn’t blush. His animagus form was no secret - he had registered with the ministry the moment he had managed the transformation - but Tom likely didn’t know that it was him. Merlin, he would think Harry was some kind of creeper if he knew that he was hanging around outside his shop, practically stealing his flowers.

He squeaked out a little sound before flying past Tom before the man could react, his tiny body quick as he darted through the alley and finally, finally up through the little window he always left open in his apartment. He landed in the bouquet on the table, and allowed himself to rest. In fact, perhaps he would just stay here for the night. He was full and tired and just wanted to sleep. Tomorrow was another long day.

As his eyes closed, he wondered if he should stop by the shop at his lunch break and buy another bouquet. To pay Tom back for the flowers, of course.

“Hi,” Harry greeted first this time, as he stepped into the flower shop. His eyes closed momentarily as he breathed in that refreshing, cool scent that permeated the store. When he opened them, Tom was staring at him a little oddly. He flushed. 

“Hi,” Tom replied, lips quirking slightly. The word should have sounded odd coming from Tom, who rarely spoke so casually, and yet he made the word sound… strangely nice.

“Hi,” Harry said lamely. Again. He cursed mentally. “Um, I’m here for another bouquet…” His eyes lingered on the large sunflower-like flowers with three layers of bright red, yellow, and orange petals, all centred around a dark middle. 

“Has your last one faded already?” Tom queried with a slight frown.

“What? No, no it hasn’t. Still looks beautiful,” Harry hastened to reassure. “I just - er, wanted to actually pay you this time. You know, as thanks for - um - “ for feeding me twice now - “ for the flowers.”

“I did choose to give those to you,” Tom reminded him.

“I know,” Harry ruffled his hair. “I just - want to show my appreciation.”

“Well then,” Tom said, plucking three of the large flowers Harry had been eyeing. He then surrounded them with bold reds and vibrant green foliage. 

Harry watched him, unable to quite hide his excitement. He really wouldn’t mind filling his whole apartment with these flowers. He wondered, for a moment, whether Tom would agree to decorating his place with flowers. Then he thought idly that it would be nice to see Tom in his apartment. 

Flushing at the thought, Harry forced himself to pay attention to what Tom was saying.

“So you know what I have been doing since we graduated. What about yourself?” The florist asked as he placed the flowers to his liking.

“Oh, um, I’ve been working with Beglan. The Transfiguration Master. Um, research, I guess. On animagus transformations. I believe there is a way to maintain a partial transformation without any of the setbacks - no losing your mind or warping your body or permanently mangling yourself. And I’m close. I’m really close, I know it,” Harry said, gesturing emphatically with his arms. 

“Ah yes, you were always good at Transfiguration, I remember. Had quite the knack for it.” Tom smiled in that charming way of his and Harry flushed, trying to ignore the way his heart thumped a little louder at the sight of such an expression on the man’s face.

“They say my dad was good at it too,” he said with a little laugh, eyes falling to the side. “I must have gotten it from him.”

“Perhaps,” Tom agreed. “But I am sure that your breakthrough will be because of your skill, and not the name you carry.”

Harry stared, wide-eyed, his jaw dropped a little. He - Tom thought that Harry was… skilled? He blinked and swallowed. “I - thank you,” he said a little weakly, finding himself feeling pleasantly light. Why, because he had been complimented? No - that had happened plenty of times.

But -

Just like your father.

Always said fondly, with eyes that did not quite see Harry.

Harry smiled then, heart feeling brighter than it had in a while. “Thanks, Tom,” he said again, quietly, not needing volume to convey the weight of his words.

Tom’s hands stilled and he looked down at the flowers, swallowing visibly. Then he looked back at Harry, unknown thoughts behind those unfathomable eyes of his. “It is no problem, Harry.” And - Merlin, if his name falling from Tom’s lips didn’t sound like so much sin.

Don’t be a fool, Harry scolded himself. As if Tom would be interested in someone like you.

He took his flowers gently while reaching for his coin purse. “How much do I owe you?”

“Nothing,” Tom said, steering Harry towards the door before he could protest. “It is a gift of encouragement. You are close to a breakthrough, you said. Take this as a sign of my confidence in your abilities.”

“What? But - you already gave me free flowers. Last time! And - “ Harry broke off, trying to wriggle out of Tom’s grasp, but the man’s grip was surprisingly firm for such a gentle hold. Only a moment later he found himself standing just outside the door, a pleasantly polite Tom Riddle wishing him a good day.

“Simply come back to me for flowers the next time you are in need,” the man said as he waved Harry off, the door ringing behind him as it closed.

Harry clutched the bouquet to his chest as he stared after him. He had never been kicked out of a store like that, but somehow he didn’t feel offended. His heart fluttered just a little and his mind was oddly giddy. 

He inhaled the smell of his bouquet and slowly turned back to the direction of his work. There was a small smile playing upon his lips as he walked. He had always enjoyed Tom’s company, even if the man seemed a little stiff and cool towards - well, everyone. He had always had insightful comments and never hogged the conversation. They had worked on a few projects together at Hogwarts and they had always received top marks. 

Still, Harry had found him to be a little on the smug side, seeming to enjoy flaunting his skills. 

In their seventh year, Tom had performed more than one complex spell in front of the class with a smirk upon his lips, as if gleeful that he was leagues above the others. 

And even after graduating, Harry remembered running into the man the odd time, always when Tom was being praised for some achievement or another. Harry thought he’d earned a prize or two for his accomplishments in various fields. He’d never really stuck around to learn what it was exactly - he simply wasn’t into smug show-offs.

But this Tom Riddle? Well, he was still a little distant, but he seemed to take great pride in his work. And certainly he was good at what he did. His whole shop was constantly busy. He always saw someone step in the moment he left. 

And Tom was… strangely nice. Giving him flowers without charging. Complimenting him.

And not once had he truly bragged or flaunted his prowess. He simply… worked.

It was strange, and… appealing. Harry sighed a little, unable to help himself. He knew he had a rather stupid smile playing about his lips, but he couldn’t bring himself to care at the moment.

This Tom Riddle, dressed in a simple shirt, trousers, and an apron, his hair a little looser and messier in the humidity of the shop, his hands just a little rougher and dirtier as he handled the flowers with his bare hands…

Harry’s smile lingered and as he walked back to work, his steps bouncing just a little higher.

Harry let out a breath of relief as he stepped out of the large event hall, the sounds of post-ceremony celebration fading behind him. He was proud of his accomplishments, but really, such pomp and circumstance was a little too much for him. He mentally apologized to Neville for abandoning him like this.

He ducked through an open door into a lush courtyard and smiled as he trailed his hand over the soft petals of the flowers that were blooming along the walkway. 

His steps were soft and his gaze drawn so avidly to the plants that he almost ran into the figure standing along the path.

“Oh,” Harry said as he jerked back in surprise. He blinked as the man turned, a familiar face greeting him. “Tom!”

“Harry,” Tom said, lips quirking upwards, eyes dark as he studied the shorter man. Something akin to satisfaction flashed across his face. “Congratulations on your accomplishment. It is quite the feat, what you have discovered.”

Harry flushed. “I - I had a lot of help. Really. I can’t take all the credit for this - “

Tom raised a brow. “If all witches and wizards could achieve their animagus forms before graduating, I’m sure they would. If just anyone could invent a new form of transfiguration…” he tilted his head to the side, eyes intent. “I’m sure they would.”

Harry blushed. “I - I suppose…” He fiddled with the sleeve of his robes. He hadn’t realized that Tom had known of his achievements. Or had bothered remembering. 

“I believe, when someone gives you a compliment, that the appropriate response is ‘thank you’,” Tom said, lips quirked.

Harry’s blush deepened. He had never been good at accepting praise. He’d never received anything but scorn as a child, and now so much attention tended to fluster him. “Right,” he said. “Um, thank you, Tom.” He found himself smiling as he spoke, grateful for the way Tom had made him feel at ease with his light teasing.

Tom’s expression seemed to freeze, but nonetheless he dipped his head. Then he reached into his pocket and withdrew a flower. It was fairly short, but the bloom was magnificent, with dozens of petals splaying outwards in a beautiful spray of vibrant yellow and orange. It glistened in the sun, and smelled sweeter than any flower Harry had ever encountered before. 

“A gift,” Tom said, holding it out to Harry. “As congratulations for your success.”

Harry’s mouth dropped. “What? You don’t have to do that!” He exclaimed, even as he eyed the flower longingly.

There was a knowing look in Tom’s eyes as he pressed the flower into Harry’s hand, wrapping his fingers around it before pulling back. “It won’t fade,” he said, “so long as you live.”

Harry’s eyes widened as he stared at the flower, rather stunned. He had never heard of such a plant before. “Thank you,” he said softly, cradling the flower to his chest. He glanced back up at Tom and beamed. “I’ll treasure it forever,” he promised.

A strange expression crossed Tom’s face before it settled back to its usual placid calm. “I am pleased to hear it,” he said. Then he dipped his head and swept past Harry, steps swift. 

Harry wondered if he had said something strange, but his thoughts were quickly replaced by awe as he studied the flower. It reminded him of a dahlia, but the flower was larger, and the petals rounder, and somehow fluffier. He sank his nose into the flower and inhaled greedily. 

It was a few minutes later that he realized that he should probably get back to the ceremony. They would want to take photos soon, and he had promised Neville that he wouldn’t hide the whole time. His friend was determined to get him ‘the recognition he deserved’, to quote the shy Gryffindor. 

Naturally, Harry had had to make Neville promise to do the same.

“Harry!” 

He turned and saw Neville hurrying down the hall, face relieved. “Glad I found you. They’re ready for us now.” His eyes fell down to the bright flower still clutched in Harry’s hands. “H-Harry… you… how did you get one of those?” Neville’s eyes were wide, his jaw dropped.

Harry blinked and glanced down. “Um, from Tom… just now. Tom Riddle.”

“H-he just… he gave one to you? That’s - how much did you have to pay? Oh Merlin, how did you even convince him? There are only two in existence - “

“Wait, what? Neville, what are you talking about?” Harry stared bewildered as his friend waved his hands, bending down to peer at the flower.

“Your flower! Harry, do you even know what you’re holding?”

“It’s - a flower. A really… really nice flower?”

“Harry - ! Merlin, Harry, no one has been able to get even close to buying one, and you don’t even know?”

“I - um, I didn’t buy it…” Harry traced one of the petals a little nervously. “Um, Tom gave it to me as a gift. As a congratulations. For my achievements.”

Neville stared at him, looking torn between suspicion and awe. “You didn’t tell me you were friends with Riddle…” There was a starry-eyed look on his face.

“Um… Neville?”

“I mean, he invented this plant. Invented it. A plant that never fades, never dies. It doesn’t need water or dirt or sun or anything - it’s sustained purely by magic… Harry, this Mealla flower is the reason Riddle was here today - he won the Magibotanist award. The first in over a century!” Neville sighed longingly as he stared at the flower. “I don’t suppose you’d let me borrow it…”

Harry held the flower protectively. “Um… weren’t we supposed to go in for photos?” He edged around his friend, wary of the way Neville’s eyes followed the flower.

Neville blinked, eyes clearing. “Oh! Yes, come on, they’re waiting for us.” He took one last look at the flower before heading back to the hall. 

Harry tucked the flower away before following, still not quite sure what to make of it all. Tom had invented this flower, and then just… gifted it to Harry? He couldn’t fathom why Tom Riddle would give Harry something so invaluable. Especially without even mentioning the fact that he’d received such a prestigious award for it. 

Did Tom perhaps…

Harry shook his head and pushed the thought away as he stepped into the hall next to Neville. No, that was impossible. He ignored the disappointment that lingered in his gut.

He was quickly dragged into a photo between Master Beglan and Professor McGonagall, who both looked down at him proudly. He smiled back, but he couldn’t help the way his mind wandered the rest of the day, the flower warm in his pocket.

Harry lingered just outside of Tom’s shop, sleeves twisting in his hands as he peered inside. Tom was nowhere to be seen. He let out a breath, partly disappointed, and partly relieved. 

He’d been debating doing this for over a week now. Because while he could accept the occasional bouquet, a flower as valuable as the one Tom had created… 

No, Harry couldn’t keep it. Not when it meant Tom could make a fortune selling it. Harry couldn’t deprive the man of such a prospect.

Harry mourned the loss already, though. He’d fallen in love with it the moment he’d seen it, and he’d kept it with him at all times, tucked in his pocket when he was out, on his table when he ate, and next to his bed when he slept.

He wanted nothing more than to hoard it. His most precious treasure. But he couldn’t be greedy. It was kind of Tom to wish to congratulate Harry, but he shouldn’t have felt pressured to offer such a priceless gift.

No, Harry couldn’t keep it. He would return it. He would thank Tom, and he would properly purchase a bouquet of flowers. 

Taking a deep breath, Harry firmed himself, determined.

Then he saw a shadow of movement at the back of the store. His heart thumped a bolt of nerves throughout his body and in that split second, he changed, his form shrinking until it was barely bigger than a bee, hovering where his human form had been standing moments before.

He cursed his cowardice, but in this form, his human emotions were more muted. Instead of lingering on such feelings, he felt enticed by the scents that wafted from the door that chimed open as Tom stepped out, glancing around, before propping the door open and moving back inside.

Harry peered into the shop, hovering just behind one of the flowers as he watched Tom walk behind the counter, sweeping away a few stray petals with his wand. 

He snuck inside, his wings buzzing quietly, and hovered near the flowers closest to the window. They smelled as decadent as the ones outside, and he couldn’t help but have a quick taste - just a few flowers wouldn’t hurt.

Ah, perhaps a few more.

He let out a high sound of satisfaction as he flitted from flower to flower, completely forgetting that he had come here with a purpose in mind.

At least until he turned around, intending to fly to the next flower, only to find himself face-to-face with Tom himself.

He let out a chirp of surprise, jerking backwards, and immediately felt embarrassed, glad that he could not blush in this form. 

Merlin, Tom had seen him feasting on his flowers like a glutton. His groan emerged as a low croon, tail feathers drooping.

Tom chuckled, a deep throaty sound, and Harry flew a little closer, enjoying the deep vibrations. 

“Hello, Harry,” he said.

Harry froze, his wings pausing, his body immediately dropping, only to land in the soft, warm palm of Tom’s hand. The skin was delicate beneath his small clawed feet, and he was careful not to break the skin as he rearranged himself, staring up sheepishly at the tall man. 

Of course, being saved didn’t stop his heart from racing as fast as his wings. Because Tom knew. Tom knew Harry’s animagus form. 

How long had he known? Had he known all this time that it was Harry who was coming to snack on his flowers?

Harry resisted the urge to hide his face under his wing. He let out a questioning sound instead, not quite sure what he was expecting, but the way Tom was staring at him was making him feel stripped of his feathers, vulnerable under the man’s scrutiny.

Finally Tom quirked his lips upwards and turned, Harry still cradled in his hands. The door to the shop closed with a wave of his wand, and he headed to the back room behind the counter. It was warmer than the rest of the shop, and contained a small kitchenette and a dining table and chairs. There was an armchair in the corner with a small stack of books piled next to it. 

Tom placed Harry on one of the dining chairs and stepped back, leaning his hip on the table next to the chair, arms crossed. “I do find your animagus form quite endearing, Harry, but I think at the moment it would be more convenient for you to change back.”

Harry shuffled a little on the chair that dwarfed him in this form. Tom seemed impossibly large, looming over him like a mountain, and as placid and unmoving as rock.

But he supposed he had been caught, and there was really no way out. Not if he ever wanted another whiff or taste of Tom’s flowers again. Still, he gave himself a few more seconds of denial before reluctantly shifting forms. He almost wished that he hadn’t perfected it so well, for it was over far too soon, and a mere second later he sat there, a flush high on his cheeks as he glanced away from a smug looking Tom.

“Um,” he said. “Hi.” He was pretty sure he was blushing. For a moment he floundered uncertainly for something to say, when he finally remembered why he had come here in the first place. 

He fumbled for the flower in his pocket and held it up a rather reluctantly. Even now he couldn’t keep his eyes off the beautiful petals. “You, er, you gave this to me, and it was really nice of you and everything, but I really can’t take this - it’s too much! You didn’t need to feel obliged to gift it to me, especially when it’s worth so much! Merlin, you could retire after selling just one - I feel so bad for not realizing it…” He trailed off then, arm drooping a little when Tom made no move to take it.

In fact, Tom was looking distinctly unimpressed, arms crossed and brow raised. “You are rejecting my gift,” he said a little flatly. “Is it truly that detestable?”

Harry’s head jerked up and he looked at Tom in shock. “What? No! No, of course not! It’s incredible. Really, I’ve never seen anything so beautifully made. It’s a masterpiece, a work of art, truly. It’s the most treasured gift I’ve ever received. I just… I really don’t deserve it. You’ve already been so kind - I have so many of your bouquets still. And - I love them. They’re all so breathtaking.” He had to pause for a moment, smiling as he thought of the way the flowers brightened his home. He shook his head. “But I don’t understand how you can be so generous and kind when I haven’t done anything for you.”

Harry watched Tom worriedly, hoping he hadn’t offended him or hurt his feelings. Merlin, the last thing he wanted to do was alienate him. Because Tom was… kind, and thoughtful, intelligent, and of course handsome. A little arrogant sometimes, perhaps, but he seemed to have grown out of it and now it seemed almost endearing how proud the man was. And - oh Merlin, was he blushing again? Tom was standing close enough to touch, and he was watching Harry with an intensity that left him shaky even though he was already sitting. 

“Don’t you?” Tom said finally as he stared at Harry almost musingly. “No, I suppose you don’t.” Something akin to fondness curled Tom’s lips upwards. “I - “ Tom began, then paused, eyeing Harry. “I suppose I’ll simply have to show you.” Then he leaned down until their faces were mere inches apart - so close that Harry could feel the warmth of his breath across his skin. 

It felt a little bit like a dream. For surely, this could not be reality. 

Harry’s breath caught as their eyes met, barely an inch apart. Tom was so close, his eyes lidded as he hovered there for a moment - an agonizing second that made Harry wonder if he might perhaps die if Tom did not do something.

And then Tom’s lips were upon his, soft and warm, sending tingles through him straight to his heart.

Harry’s eyes were wide as Tom pulled back. His face was placid again as he watched Harry, but his eyes were dark and intent.

“Oh,” said Harry. “Oh.” His cheeks flushed as he stared up at Tom. “I - I see. Um…” He took a deep breath, and the scent of flowers and Tom filled his nose. “Will you…” he licked his lower lip, and saw Tom’s eyes follow the movement. “Will you do that again?”

So Tom did. Again, and again. And then again, for good measure.

“Why didn’t you say anything before?” Harry asked later as Tom served him tea. 

“I had hoped that you would catch on to my hints,” Tom said. “I suppose I should have realized that such tactics wouldn’t work on you.”

“Hints?” Harry frowned, puzzled.

The look that Tom gave him was most certainly fond. “One would think you had been sorted into Gryffindor,” the man teased.

Harry scowled. “Rude,” he protested.

“All of that Ravenclaw brain,” Tom said as he ran a hand through Harry’s hair, “and yet no ability to pick up on flirting.”

“You’ve never flirted with me,” Harry frowned as he leaned into Tom’s touch. “I would have noticed.”

Tom’s smile was indulgent. “So that time I performed the Patronus charm in defence class?”

Harry crossed his arms. “The teacher asked you to.”

“I offered you a signed graduation photo too. I was head boy, you know. Top marks in all subjects.” Tom was definitely preening.

Harry rolled his eyes. “You were just rubbing in the fact that you scored higher than I did.”

“And thrice I won special achievement awards for my spell creations in defence, charms, and,” Tom raises a brow, “transfiguration.”

“Oh, I do remember seeing you at the award ceremonies, but you didn’t even talk to me! You just… smirked like some smug bastard.”

Tom sighed but did not look offended. “And all of the bouquets? The Mealla flower?” 

“That… well, I mean, um…” Harry trailed off, cheeks flushing. “I suppose…” He pulled the flower from his pocket and raised it to his nose to breathe in its sweet smell. His eyes closed for a moment and he smiled. When he opened them again, he found Tom watching him with an infuriatingly smug expression. Harry scowled automatically in response. “Well you could have just told me, you know.”

Tom gave an elegant, rolling shrug. “I knew I would win you over, one way or another.”

Harry sniffed. “How do you know you’ve won me over? You haven’t even taken me on a date.”

Tom pierced him with a look that left Harry trembling. “A date, you say?” Tom purred. “How about tonight, then?”

Harry’s heart stuttered. “Yeah,” Harry replied, a little breathless, a smile working its way back onto his face. “Perfect.”