Title: Green beans and Fedoras
Story notes: This is a bit shorter than my usual, but I hope it hits the spot, nonetheless!
Betaed by: HDS-Beltane moderators
Author's Note: What a pleasure to write for someone as talented as Chibitoaster!
If there was one thing Harry was never going to do for himself again, it was cook. So, when Kreacher finally agreed to retire about three years after the war, Harry found himself eating out at Muggle restaurants. Sometimes as much as three times a day. Cereal in a bowl with milk was fine, or some pre-made salad from Tesco. But anything more than that, he just wasn’t interested. It reminded him too much of his time with the Dursleys.
And there was a sort of thrill to it sometimes. What if it wasn’t a fully Muggle restaurant? What if not everybody in there was a Muggle? Would he get accosted? Would he get photographed? Would he end up in the fucking Daily Prophet? He never knew exactly. Every time it didn’t happen, it was such a relief.
Since the end of the war Harry’s relationship with the wizarding world had been deteriorating. He’d had to quit Auror school because of the Elder Wand – which he hadn’t been able or willing to explain to the wizarding world. He’d had to quit Ginny because of the whole “liking cock too much” thing and he hadn’t been able to explain that, either.
And so Harry did his best to avoid all press and even most wizards. He still spent lots of time with the Weasleys, he still visited his old Hogwarts friends, but he just didn’t want to be the man the general wizarding public wanted him to be. He couldn’t be who they wanted him to be. And he found himself living an increasingly isolated and irritated life.
Of course, the cards were stacked against him. An encounter was inevitable when you risked it over and over. The less he wanted it to happen, the more likely it was to occur. Harry understood this. What he never expected was that the wizard he would run into was Severus Snape.
Something about the tall, thin, dark-haired man in front of him in line at the Chinese Buffet had Harry intrigued. He usually picked up tall, thin blonds, but despite the man’s colouring Harry found himself leaning over to mention that, “The garlic green beans here are particularly good.”
“Oh?” The other man drawled in a tone so dismissive that Harry looked sharply up, into his face. With that voice, that carriage, he almost expected to see that majestic nose and those hawk-like eyes.
They each took a serving of the green beans – Snape a small one and Harry a heap. Then, without discussion, Harry followed Snape to a corner booth and watched him cast Muffliato to preserve their privacy from the Chinese waitstaff who came to clear the plates and offer more tea.
“Didn’t know you lived in London?” Harry asked, realizing halfway through the sentence that wizards didn’t necessarily eat dinner in their own cities, what with Floos and Apparition and such.
“Didn’t know you liked Muggle green beans,” Snape answered without answering, and they ate a few bites without looking at one another. Harry noticed that while he used chopsticks, Snape used a knife and fork. He wondered if that meant something.
“Have you been well?” Harry finally tried again. When Snape stayed silent Harry swallowed a heavy sigh and spoke about himself, instead. “I’ve been crafting brooms, myself. Managed to sell a model to Comet last month so I’m taking a bit of a break. Trying my hand at photography lately, as well. You?”
Snape looked at Harry over the tops of his horn-rimmed spectacles. Harry wondered when Snape had started to wear them. Then he wondered when Snape would speak.
They sat silently for a few more minutes, and eventually Harry found himself with an empty plate. “Be right back,” he muttered, and got up for more greasy lo mein and some won ton soup. When he returned, Snape seemed to be readying himself to leave the restaurant.
“Nice to catch up,” Harry said sarcastically, as Snape stood. Snape looked down at him, over his nose. Harry looked up, his spoonful of soup dangling in the air between them.
“I understand you date men?” Snape finally said, and slightly surprised, Harry simply nodded. He fervently hoped Snape wasn’t about to ask him out.
“And clearly,” Snape said, raising one side of his mouth into a slight sneer, “you are both lonely and bored.”
“Hey,” Harry said mildly, but he didn’t bother with further protest.
“Owl him,” Snape said, and he produced a slip of parchment folded into a very small square. “It will do you both good, and it shall amuse me no end.”
Harry accepted the parchment, and then put down his spoonful of soup, as unfolding it was clearly going to require both hands. By the time he read the words, Snape was gone. Which was probably a good thing, as Harry had half a mind to follow him and make a scene. Snape’s spiky, aggressive handwriting read:
Draco Malfoy, Antiquities: sales, valuations and repairs
184 Antiphon Alley, downstairs
(He’s also gay and just as lonely as you clearly and pathetically are.)
Harry hadn’t been exaggerating when he’d told Snape that he’d sold a broom and was therefore taking time off work. Crafting broom prototypes was more demanding than Harry had expected when he’d whimsically given it a try some years before. It required a great deal of instinct, strong abilities with Charms, a love of wood, a love of flying, and a surprisingly high number of Muggle wood-crafting tools. Harry assumed he had to be the only wizard in England with a lathe, a bandsaw and an industrial strength vacuum cleaner with HEPA filters. He loved his work, but this last prototype had been both exhausting to create and fabulously remunerative once sold. Comet had been forced to parcel out his payments over the next year in order to buy the full rights to replicate the broom’s design and spell combinations. Harry didn’t much need to work for money already, and for the next two months he was quite sure he needed not to work for his sanity.
Even Hermione approved, and that really told him something.
Nonetheless, it surprised him to find himself, three days after his strange encounter with Snape, considering Apparating to Antiphon Alley. Not only did he avoid wizarding areas almost religiously; not only did Harry find the idea of asking Malfoy out to be purely bizarre; Harry had yet to go out with a wizard at all. He’d come out to the wizarding world after he’d left Ginny. Mostly on purpose, even. That was back in the day when he’d still believed he could find a way to make the wizarding world accept him for himself. But once that proved to be out of reach, and Harry had put the wizarding world at arm’s length, he’d stopped trying to go out with wizards. Completely.
It wasn’t that he didn’t want to see wizards. When he let himself get sentimental about it, he knew he wanted it very much. Harry resorted to Muggle gay bars when he got lonely enough, and while he enjoyed the company of other gay men, and sex in loos and hotels, he found it impossible to get serious enough about a Muggle to tell him that he was a wizard. After all, it was awfully hard to get serious about a man when you weren’t ready to tell him about eighty to ninety percent of your life. It was a Catch 22, and Harry didn’t like it, but he couldn’t trust wizard strangers and none of the men he’d grown up with were gay.
Or so he’d thought.
Thus, his unexpected willingness to consider Snape’s suggestion.
It didn’t hurt that he still had no intention of starting another broom project, and yet he was fabulously bored. Two days of lazing about in his underwear watching telly and eating crisps had been more than enough, and while he’d enjoyed a week on the Isle of Skye, he didn’t want to spend the next couple of months away from home. Even with a new darkroom in his basement, a new Nikon SpellCrafter to experiment with, and rolls of film still left to develop from his week on Skye, Harry had only been able to waste three days after Snape gave him Malfoy’s address.
So instead, Harry went shopping.
At Tesco he bought all the already prepared foods and fresh produce he usually picked up. This never took long, but strawberries were in season right now, and not to be missed. Then he surreptitiously Apparated home and put it all away before heading back out to his favourite Oxfam shop. He found a pair of worn jeans that made his arse look nearly edible, a decent pair of leather brogues that needed a bit of spellwork, and a huge stack of t-shirts that he wavered about back and forth while he wandered the rest of the shop. In the end he put back most of the shirts, but kept a concert t-shirt from Elvis Costello and the Attractions and another from The Police. At the last minute he bought a black and grey Fedora, too. The matron at the till winked at him as she watched him dither over the hat. “It looks brill on you, luv,” she said, and grinning at her, Harry bought it and brought it all home.
Then, screwing up both his courage and curiosity, Harry put on his new jeans and Elvis shirt, cast a few spells at his hair, put on the fedora and Apparated to Antiphon Alley. He found himself only two doors down from 184, and walked there briskly, head down and steps businesslike. Thankfully, no one bothered him. Malfoy’s shop had a small sign on the door, and an attached bell that was there to jangle an alert to the shop owner when a customer entered. A tall blond stood behind the counter, looking down at a large ledger.
Harry pushed open the door and the blond looked up at the ring of the bell. Unsurprisingly, it was Malfoy, though Harry nonetheless felt a shock of recognition ricochet through his nerves.
Malfoy was clearly surprised to see Harry, too, though he did a passable job of hiding it after the first few seconds.
“Potter,” he finally said in a clipped, professional voice. “Have you an antiquity you would like appraised?”
When Harry shook his head no, Malfoy forcibly stopped himself from frowning and tried again. “Were you in the market for something in particular, then? My inventory is rather fine right now.…”
Malfoy trailed off as Harry blushed, dipped his head down, and then looked up once again, finally speaking. “Snape suggested I contact you,” he admitted. “Ran into him at a Muggle restaurant last week.”
Malfoy raised one eyebrow and carefully kept his mouth shut.
“He, er, thought….” Harry scratched his ear, straightened his spine, and leaped before any further looking. “I was hoping you would go out to dinner with me Friday night.”
“You were not.” Malfoy stated baldly. He put his palms down flat on his counter and leaned forward slightly, a look of annoyance on his face.
“I was so!” Harry said, angry at being contradicted.
“Of course you don’t want to take me to dinner, Potter, and you can’t believe I would be fool enough to believe that you would. If Snape had anything to do with this, which I doubt –”
Blushing but still angry, Harry dumped the note from Snape on the counter and humphed, only remembering the damning commentary on the bottom as Malfoy picked it up to read it.
Oh well, too late now. So he jutted out his jaw and crossed his arms over his chest as though he could care less that Snape had called them both pathetically lonely.
Malfoy looked over the note, then raised one eyebrow at Harry, who was both dismayed and charmed to find it sexy.
“I’m sure you recognise his handwriting,” Harry said with all the pride he could still find.
“I recognise his... candid wit, as well,” Malfoy said, and Harry thought Malfoy might be hiding a smile.
“I sort of forgot that was on there,” Harry said, figuring if he couldn’t be honest now, with Malfoy, then what was he doing here, egg on his face or no? He scratched at his messy hair and tried to offer Malfoy a winning little grin.
“I sort of assumed,” Malfoy said, but this time there was an actual smile, and he let Harry see it.
“I would, genuinely, like to take you to dinner Friday night,” Harry tried again, softer; and he tipped his head slightly and looked at Malfoy from under the brim of his “brill” new fedora.
“Forgive my candor, but why?” Malfoy asked, and this time he crossed his arms over his chest.
“Er,” Harry said, slightly taken aback. It was a perfectly reasonable question, but he was a bit surprised to be asked. “Well, I’m not the most articulate man, but I’ll try to explain.” He put his hands in his pockets and looked out the window for a moment, thinking through the reasons he’d used to convince himself to Apparate over and walk through Malfoy’s door. “Snape’s right. I’m lonely. I go out to Muggle bars occasionally, but I can’t seem to get to know a Muggle well enough to tell him the truth about my life. Because how can I get to know him if I can’t tell him the truth about my life?” He shrugged and looked at Malfoy, who nodded once, though he did not smile.
“None of my old friends are gay, and I can’t feel comfortable around a gay wizard I don’t already know, because I hate publicity and I have no way of knowing who’s sincere and who wants a fat cheque from Witch Weekly.” Harry tore his eyes from the window. He needed to look Malfoy right in the eye for this, even if it took some courage to say it. “You’re gay, you’re a wizard, we’ve known each other for years, and frankly, you’re really fucking hot.”
Malfoy straightened his spine and widened his eyes, then narrowed them. “How do you know I don’t want a fat cheque from Witch Weekly?” he asked, his voice clipped and tight.
“What, and get me in the paper? As I recall you always hated when I got fawned over by the press.” Harry winked at Malfoy, who blushed and looked away. But this time, his smile came more easily.
“Besides, it took me most of my life, but I’ve learned to trust Snape. At least, on the big stuff. So I figured… if he suggested I look you up, it was probably worth a shot.” Harry took his hands out of his pockets and put them on Malfoy’s counter. “So, with all that said, can I take you out to dinner Friday night? There’s this sushi place I like, on Cranbourn, in the theater district. Do you like sushi?” Harry swallowed. Every single card was on the table now, and he still had almost no idea whether he was about to be rejected.
Malfoy tipped his head very slightly to the right, and Harry was struck by a desire to kiss the man. He hadn’t been exaggerating when he’d called Malfoy “really fucking hot.” He’d been willing to try this in large part because Malfoy was his “type,” and because he remembered him as being good looking and having a nice enough arse. But either his memory was inadequate, or (more likely, he thought) Malfoy was hotter at twenty-three and established than he had been at seventeen and terrified.
Because since he’d entered Malfoy’s shop, his physical interest in Malfoy had only increased. He was taller now than Harry remembered, which was something, since Harry had grown three inches since the war ended, himself. His hair was bristle-brush short in the back and long on top, and his shop-keeper robes showed off a nice set of pecs and a broad pair of shoulders. The stern navy robes hinted at a pair of strong arms under his long sleeves. Then they cut away to show a waistcoat on a trim waist and what Harry rather hoped was legs up to there and an arse to die for.
Malfoy cleared his throat, and Harry guiltily dragged his eyes back to Malfoy’s face. “You… meant that, earlier. Thinking I’m… attractive.”
“Duh?” Harry said, incredulous. “Do you not get puddles of drool in here on a regular basis?”
Malfoy flushed a dull red and Harry was utterly charmed.
“Most of my patrons are elderly matrons,” Malfoy said, the curtness of his tone belied by the shyness in his eyes. He started to trace a spiral pattern on the wooden counter, then stopped abruptly when he noticed Harry watching.
“Elderly matrons have eyes, Malfoy,” Harry said. “And yes, I meant every word. And every glance. Look, man, you’re killing me here. Can I pick you up at 8 on Friday, or should I slink home and drown myself in lager and a vat of crisps?”
“Friday.” Malfoy said swiftly, looking like he was sure he would regret it. “If you’ll…” he hesitated and Harry wanted to finish his sentence but had no idea what might come next.
“That is….” Malfoy flushed a deeper red and Harry leaned onto the counter, feeling guilty for causing such discomfort.
“What can I do for you?” Harry finally asked.
“Just… a little something to remember you by?” Malfoy finally said, staring a hole in the counter next to Harry’s right hand.
“Oh!” Harry said, smiling, feeling his cock thicken a bit. “Oh…. Yes. Sure. For sure.”
Harry strolled around the counter and saw, to his pleasure, that Malfoy was just as tall as he’d thought. He neither wore high shoes, nor had a step up hiding behind his counter. He didn’t need them. He had to be well over six feet tall.
Shooting a spell at the door to lock it and darken the glass, Harry hoisted himself onto Malfoy’s smooth wooden counter and opened his legs wide, then reached over for Malfoy, taking him by the waist. He pulled Malfoy in, put one hand in the other man’s silky hair, and pulled Malfoy toward his mouth. Gently, he pressed one kiss to Malfoy’s dry, soft lips, then released the man’s hair and smiled. “Still willing to go out with me?” he asked coyly, and Malfoy gave him a wolfish smile.
“Perhaps,” was all he said, but he stepped in and put his arms around Harry’s back. “Give me a little more to remember?”
“With pleasure,” Harry said, and he put his hand on Malfoy’s pert arse and pulled. This time when his lips found Malfoy’s lips, he opened his mouth. Malfoy opened his as well, and when their tongues tangled Harry tightened his grip on Malfoy’s backside and found himself cock to cock and – momentarily – erection to erection. Harry moaned into Malfoy’s mouth and lost himself in the other man’s touch. Shifting eagerly, he rubbed their cocks together and saw stars.
“Did you need to save something for Friday?” Harry panted into Malfoy’s ear.
“Did I need to in order to see you again?” Malfoy asked softly, biting tiny kisses into Harry’s neck.
“Nuh, no,” Harry stuttered as his fedora fell to the counter. Malfoy grabbed Harry’s denim-clad arse hard and rocked his hips. Harry pushed Malfoy’s robe away and cupped perfect round globes in his hands. He pulled himself forward and wrapped his ankles around Malfoy’s thighs. Rocking against one another, kissing, stroking shoulders and hair and backs and arses, the two men came quickly, panting and hissing their pleasure.
“Er,” Harry said, embarrassed, “That was fast.” He felt himself turning red and wondered if he’d lost his chance.
“Sorry to rush you,” Malfoy whispered. “I am trying to run a business, though.” He kissed Harry’s temple and Harry reluctantly let go of Malfoy’s arse.
“Friday then? Seven forty-five?”
“Floo is upstairs,” Malfoy agreed. “You can use it now, if you’d like. I should really unlock the door.” He waved his wand (beech, Harry thought, impressed) and once again Harry felt clean, dry and comfortable inside his jeans.
“I can Apparate,” Harry said, and he hopped down from the counter and ran a hand through his hair. He picked his fedora back up and put it on, then – feeling gallant – he took Malfoy’s hand in his own and kissed the air immediately above. “See you Friday night,” he said, and spun into the air.
“Merlin’s pants!” he exclaimed into the quiet air of his lounge, and went in search of his Muggle phone book. He needed to make a reservation for 8 on Friday. There was no way he was fucking up this date.