Draco narrowed his eyes, meeting the dark-green ones across from him. Latent animosity surged within his chest.
Saint. Bloody. Potter.
Forcefully reminding himself to remain civil (for as long as Potter behaved), he reached out to shake the other man’s outstretched hand. Why he should be surprised that the skin of Potter’s strong palm felt calloused to the touch, he wasn’t sure; given Potter’s perilous profession it was only to be expected. Yet, Draco hadn’t quite expected it to have any effect on him.
Quickly releasing the other man’s hand, Draco schooled his features into a trademark sneer. Potter seemed to assess him with guarded reservation, lingering on the silver-headed cane as if he suspected him to draw his wand at any moment. Draco refrained from visibly rolling his eyes. How typical. Not that he wasn’t tempted, mind you.
Coolly regarding Potter in turn, he begrudgingly noticed the Auror uniform and the beard suited his childhood rival in his adult years though Draco would never admit so out loud. It was preferable to imagine that Potter had simply grown into his looks; that nest of hair and those spectacles seemed less unfortunate now that he had gained the maturity and confidence of a man–
Wait...what? Did he just admire Potter?!
Blanching, the reaction must have trickled into his visage. Potter’s green eyes narrowed infinitesimally.
“Something wrong, Malfoy?” he drawled in a perfectly even tone, one that Draco would usually ascribe to himself. It was eerie hearing it coming from Potter’s mouth but no doubt a characteristic he had picked up in his recent years as Head Auror to get the answers and allegiance he wanted.
Suppressing a light shudder, Draco’s face promptly smoothed. “Nothing that concerns you, Potter,” he wrung out between his teeth, accompanied by a haughty glare.
Potter expelled an unsurprised huff and continued in a levelled voice. “Apparently, it does, Malfoy. It seems that is why we are here, is it not?” He arched an eyebrow and did not wait for a reply before he turned to move into the adjacent room. Frowning in annoyance, Draco forced his glare away from sweeping across the Auror’s lean body as he did so, convincing himself he was only staying vigilant about Potter’s movements and behaviour, trying to gain the upper hand of the situation. He was not about to let Scarhead persuade or blackmail him into anything concerning the welfare and future of Scorpius, that Potter offspring be damned!
Angered, Draco clutched his cane in a tight grip and followed Potter inside the sitting room. He was not about to let his temper get away with him either, he wouldn’t give Potter the satisfaction of that. Recalling the way Astoria would gleefully mock him every time he had done so in the past, the thought led him to absentmindedly reflect upon his short-lived marriage.
They may have been compatible on paper but they soon found they had little in common, beside Scorpius, and not even the boy could draw much interest from the mother. Draco loved the boy, much to his own surprise, since he had never expected to come close to such strong, profound emotions after the damaging effects the war. His soul had felt flayed, ripped apart, before he held the tiny, warm, living, breathing bundle of his son in his arms. There was nothing he wouldn’t do to spare his son from experiencing anything remotely similar to what he himself had gone through. Even the boy’s mother’s lack of affection. So, when he filed for divorce and applied for full custody, Draco had simultaneously obtained a villa in a posh area of London which would suit Astoria and made sure Scorpius had a furnished room there that she couldn’t touch, should he choose to stay with her for a time anyway. Astoria made no protests and so it came to be. Scorpius ended up spending most of his time in the Manor when he was back from school and bore no general ill will towards either parent for their choices. Mostly, his interest seemed to lie within school though Draco never took his son for a particularly scholastic child. He loved him too much to chastise him for it as his own father had, but he worried that there wouldn’t be a decent future for him on the other side if Scorpius continued to show so little interest in his academic accomplishments. Draco would so like to see his son become free of the taint still commonly associated with the Malfoy name. For Scorpius’ own sake and for his future children and their children.
So, when Scorpius came home from the first day of school and prattled on about this shaggy-haired boy he had befriended with an all too familiar name, Draco felt his world spin on its axis. A Malfoy befriending a Potter! Never would he have seen the day! Ironically, their friendship proved to become the very reverse of his own relationship with the famous father, and initially Draco couldn’t decide if he was peeved by the fact that Scorpius had such ease befriending the Potter boy or if he hated the latter for trying to insert himself into the good graces of his son. Either way, he didn’t try to dissuade Scorpius from the friendship. In fact, Draco found it hard to say anything negative looking upon the way his son’s face lit up when he talked about the Potter boy. Scorpius was almost the complete opposite of Draco in terms of disposition and Draco had been pleasantly surprised by how open-minded and light-hearted his son was. Of course, Scorpius was aware of the past history between their fathers and often asked about it, but each time Draco deftly avoided the subject by dismissing that Potter ever bore any importance in his existence. Alas, the boy had inherited too much of the Malfoy guile and noticed the pattern of his father’s avoidance of the subject, but said little of it, instead focusing back on his evidently close-knitted friendship with the son of Draco’s school rival.
Then, one day, when Scorpius, now a young man, came home and said he had fallen in love with the Potter boy and that they were in a relationship, Draco felt a need to protest. He didn’t doubt the legitimacy of his son’s feelings and only knew the Potter boy from the rather biased tales from his son. Still, he was Potter’s son and who knew how much of a hothead that boy could be? Was he good enough for Scorpius? (Then again: Would anyone ever be good enough for his son?). He could clearly see Scorpius was head over heels in love. Draco wavered between what to tell his son and opted for the moderated truth until he knew what to do with this new information; that though he was pleased to hear Scorpius was experiencing these new feelings, some concern was raised as to his choice of partner at this stage of his life when he really should be focusing on his career if he wanted to mount to anything. Of course, Scorpius didn’t take it well. He didn’t give up his relationship with the Potter boy either. Draco didn’t expect him to do so right away, though he still hoped they would take some time apart until Scorpius knew what to do with his education. He was in over his head with this boy! Surely, nothing good would come of a Malfoy latching on to a Potter...
That was why Draco had finally stooped to his very last resort.
He was a little surprised to hear from Potter Sr. immediately. Draco had sent an owl to Potter’s office in the Ministry a couple of days after the incident with Scorpius and the quick reply was monosyllabic at best. It spoke of Potter’s concurrence with the worrisome subject (which Draco couldn’t help feeling slightly offended by, despite sharing the sentiment) and agreed to meet up, suggesting place, date and time. Unsurprisingly, Potter had acquired an annoying amount of conceitedness about his own unquestionable authority in his days as Head Auror (as if it wasn’t bad enough already): He had obviously chosen to ignore the fact that Draco had sent his initial note suggesting Potter should come to Malfoy Manor, not the other way around. Glowering, Draco had curtly replied that he was not about to Apparate into Muggle London any time Potter damn well pleased. The instant reply was no less brisk and persistent, conveying that ‘the Head Auror could not defer to Mr. Malfoy’s leisured time schedule and finer sensibilities to Muggle environments. So if Mr. Malfoy would ‘please’ present himself at the given time and place...’ Crumbling the note in his hand, Draco wandlessly levitated and Incendio’ed it, watching it burn and turn to ashes in the air before evaporating completely. Bloody Potter.
So, here he was, literally inhaling dirt by coming to a smog-filled, seedy part of mid-town London, perusing Potter’s frankly austere apartment which looked anything but the living conditions worthy of a Head Auror’s salary. He briefly wondered if things had soured between Boy Wonder and the Weaslette. Not that he cared, of course.
Pursing his lips in a mild disgust, he took in his surroundings while Potter was off making tea or something (not that he had bothered asking, in the first place. And, obviously, he wouldn’t have a house-elf either. How characteristically provincial). Blatantly refusing to take a seat in the sparse furniture (if you would even call them that), Draco remained standing by the door to the narrow entrance hall which carried the distinct odour of curry from the apartment building, tapping his cane impatiently.
Soon, Potter returned from the tiny kitchen holding a tray containing a steaming teapot and some dissimilarly coloured mugs. Somehow, he had found the time to change out of his Auror uniform and into more regular Muggle clothing and the sight was somewhat striking. Draco had sneered enough times during school of the then malnourished wizard’s awful choices of ill-fitting clothes, but in the years since then he had been so used to see pictures in the papers of Boy Wonder (no longer such a boy) in professional outfits, suitable of that of wizard’s, commending his status from war hero to Auror to Head Auror. The present combination of a moss-green sweater and washed-out jeans was frankly off-putting. And yet, not at all unbefitting.
Potter didn’t look over at Draco before he had placed the tray on the coffee table and straightened. He waved a hand towards the old sofa, his expression and voice neutral. “Be my guest.”
Draco wrinkled his nose. It looked like something from a jumble sale or, even worse, a Muggle one. With a resigned sigh, Harry seated himself in one of the opposite chairs and started pouring two cups of tea. Gingerly, Draco drew closer; eyes flickering between the top of Potter’s shaggy dark head and the moth-eaten thing only a blind man would call a sofa. Finally, and grudgingly, he relented, casting a quick cleaning spell before he perched himself on the very edge of it, making sure as little of his expensive woollen ropes touched the thing as possible while keeping a tight grip on the cane planted between his legs.
Ignoring the force of his stare, Potter leaned back in his chair, nursing the hot tea cup in his hand. He looked up, and Draco suddenly couldn’t correlate the stoic image of the acclaimed Head Auror Potter – who defeated Voldemort and caught multiple of his followers since then – with the soft picture Potter now made; cuddled up in his squalid chair with an ugly mug in his hand, looking like the whole world had been standing on his shoulders for far too long. The years had given him lines along his tanned skin, across his brow, by the corners of his mouth under the beard and by the eyes behind the round spectacles. It added character yet also told of an early maturity, a harshness that inevitably manifested itself during school. Draco couldn’t help thinking that perhaps they had more in common that he’d ever dared give credit for.
“So,” came Potter’s voice, sparing Draco from going down that uncomfortable train of thoughts. “What are we to do with these troublesome boys?” A hint of amusement coloured his tone though his eyes hid it deceptively well. Hazard of the profession, most likely, however it didn’t sit well with Draco that he couldn’t immediately read the man opposite him. As a Gryffindor, Potter had carried his feelings on his sleeve most of the time, especially when the Slytherin confronted him, but here, in this domestic setting (which frankly was a new one), Draco felt out of touch. The roles had shifted, evened out. Potter had not become Head Auror for nothing, after all.
Draco’s throat bobbed and he was sure Potter’s gaze briefly honed in on the movement before sliding back up to meet his eyes.
Clearing his throat for good measure, Draco instilled some derision back into his voice. “Well, since you persisted on dragging me all the way down here,” Harry shook his head with a twitch to his lips as Draco continued unabashed, “I surmise you will concur with me on this matter. I only expect that we,” his lip curled slightly, unaccustomed to the word, “find a solution as quickly and painlessly as possible so we can both be out of each other’s hair. For good, this time. And for both our sons’ sake.” He met Potter’s eyes unblinkingly from across the coffee table. Hopefully, it needed no further explanation. If Potter already agreed on the matter that their sons must go their separate ways for their own good in order to secure their respective futures then there was little else to say.
Potter surveyed him quietly from his chair and Draco couldn’t be certain of the nature of his thoughts. For a moment, he feared he had gotten this whole affair entirely wrong and that Potter in fact wished for their sons to remain together! Surely not?
“As I said in the note,” Harry finally spoke. “I agree with your sentiment. I think they are going into this relationship too hastily,” to which Draco breathed a small, relieved sigh, “but... do you really think breaking them up will solve anything?”
Draco bristled. “What do you mean, Potter? Of course, it will solve things. Isn’t that what we agree upon?”
Harry sighed. “I’m not sure. I would like to think it was that easy but something like this rarely is,” he reflected with a soft smile, eyes turning wistful.
“Something like this? And what do you suppose that is exactly?”
Harry fixed him with a steadfast gaze, one he likely used to convert even his most staunch opponents. “A very strong love.”
Draco spluttered. Gryffindors and their bloody maudlin– “And you suggest there is nothing to be done? Nothing we can do to prevent them from neglecting everything we’ve built for them and jump headfirst onto this crazy broom-ride and skydive into the pink clouds?”
For a brief second, Potter looked like he was holding back a laugh but quickly composed himself. “Well, I... I see your point. Then again, they have a very strong relationship from my understanding; having been friends, close friends, from day one –”
“Oh, I remember that day. Crystal clear,” Draco interjected bitterly.
“And I believe, it would be futile to break up their friendship entirely,” Harry reasoned, undeterred. “It’s clear for me to see that Al has grown a lot because of that friendship.”
Draco harrumphed. Leave it to Potter to be so bleeding sentimental about this. “So what do you suggest we do instead? Kneel and pray to the higher powers?”
Paying no heed to his sardonic jibe, Harry shook his head contemplatively, his spectacles lenses catching the light. “I would say we suggest to them, separately and patiently, that remaining friends for the time being would give them more space to figure out where they are in life and where they are going. I don’t want Al to make rash decision based on one of your son’s fancies.”
Draco straightened. “Now, wait a minute, Potter! My son has nothing to do with your son’s hot-headed decisions; I can tell you that right now!”
Unconvinced, Potter frowned, the first chink appearing in that careful politician’s facade. “I don’t think you are in any position to question my son’s reasoning, Malfoy,” he warned in return.
Draco’s mouth tightened into a thin line. “Then perhaps you should refrain from doing the same in the regards of my son.” Irately, he reached for the ignored mug of now cooled tea in front of him, belatedly realizing the coloured decorations on its side were children’s drawings. Likely Albus’. He stared at the simplistic felt-tip lines for a moment, remembering the similar drawings Scorpius had made him once upon a time; how proud he was of his little figurative imitations of dragons and Muggle houses and children playing in the sun. Suddenly, Draco felt overcome with emotion; a swirling mixture that didn’t rightly settle and he slammed the mug back down on the table. “This was a mistake.” He stood and moved towards the door to the entrance hall.
He froze. The sound of his name on Potter’s lips stirred a strange sensation in his gut.
The Auror’s appeasing voice sounded behind him, its hesitance telling Draco of his mutual awkwardness about the slip. “I wasn’t about to start a quarrel. I apologize.” Draco felt his eyes on the back of his head and waited a minute, then there was a quiet sigh as the other man turned away. Peering discreetly over his shoulder, he spotted Potter clearing the tea set on the table with a flourish of his wand and the tray floated gracefully back into the kitchen where the enchanted dishes started to clean themselves. Sitting back down with a tired expression, Potter placed his elbows on his knees and folded his hands, staring thoughtfully into the small fireplace on his left. After a second, the logs magically ignited and Draco soon felt the rather draughty, thin-walled apartment heating up pleasantly, the familiar whiff of burning wood filling the otherwise odious food-scented air.
Emitting a low huff, Draco pursed his lips and turned back around, studying Potter’s darkened profile with thinly disguised annoyance. “I didn’t come here to get insulted, you know. If I did, I would simply have sent a note.”
Harry didn’t stir, only heaved another sigh. “I know.”
Regarding him a minute longer, Draco reluctantly returned to his seat, his posture stiff, ready to jump up and clear out the second Potter should choose to pull that little number again. He would have none of it. “So, here I am. What now?”
Darting a quick look in Draco’s direction, Potter seemed to come up short and stared back into the flickering fire, dragging a hand across his bearded jaw, looking even more exhausted than he had done moments before. Was there more to his worries about their sons’ relationship than he chose to let on? Draco felt a pinch within his chest. No. Surely not. He had never felt anything close to sympathy for the other wizard. Why should he now? But, clearly, Potter hadn’t thought this through, which was odd given his profession and insistence to meet up in his apartment. How did he think this would go down with all the history between them? All cordial and unprovoked? They hadn’t spoken since the war ended some twenty years ago.
Irritated, Draco changed tactics. “Are you really telling me that the best strategy the Head Auror can think of is to patiently suggest to our sons, over time, that being friends is better than being in a relationship?” he countered sceptically, and then, seeing his old rival remained unresponsive, decided to rile him a bit. “Frankly, I’m disappointed, Potter. I thought you were made of sturdier material. I have heard so much,” Draco humoured himself, “that you are known to be as vicious as you are merciful in an execution of a job; that you hold the Auror Department in a velvet iron fist and practically have the entire Ministry wrapped around your little finger. Some little finger that must be,” he intoned, deliberately scanning the tapered fingers currently clenched into fist on Potter’s knees.
“Lay off the antics, Malfoy.” Harry shot him a brief glower. “I’m in no mood to put up with any of your insipid insinuations.”
Raising a brow, a slow smirk formed on Draco’s lips. “My, my, Potter. You haven’t lost your temper completely despite all that time spent kissing arses in the Ministry. Colour me surprised.”
Now visibly scowling, Potter’s hardened eyes studiously glared into the fire, refusing to take the bait. Draco barely withheld a laugh at the picture he made; so perfectly Potter-esque. To think he could still push his buttons was almost too good to be true. He couldn’t help letting out a snicker. “Come now, Potter. Water under the bridge,” he twitted and observed the brief, astounded glance sent his way.
He was oddly tempted to read something more into it.
Then Potter’s tense posture loosened somewhat and he settled back in his chair, pushing the glasses further up his nose and looked straight at him. “Alright, Malfoy.”
Huh. Still gullible to a fault. Would have thought him to be more suspicious considering who is sitting in front of him.
A stilted silence followed, and if he wasn’t already so uninterested in carrying a conversation with his former school rival, Draco would have wanted to drop a comment about Potter’s abhorrent conversational skills. “So, where’s the Weaslette these days? Still chasing more trophies for all the wobbly shelves?”
“Excuse me?” Harry leaned forward and Draco was struck by the dangerous glint in those green eyes. “Don’t tell me you actually follow my wife’s career that meticulously, Malfoy?” Amusement laced his voice, making Draco relax a tick. Not that he had ever been nervous around Potter but he was well aware of the power the Auror held within the bureaucracy of this new post-war world. In fact, Draco often suspected Potter had a hand in reducing the more severe repercussions that the remaining Blacks and, in effect, the Malfoys and other Pureblood families could be facing. Not that he blamed anyone for throwing Lucius’ arse and the other high-ranking Death Eaters in jail. But the fact that Potter had testified on behalf of Draco during his inquest at the Wizengamot, resulting in a much shortened sentence (Draco suppressed a shudder; six months were unbelievably lenient) and that the conditions of Azkaban had improved immensely in the last decade (at least, people didn’t die from starvation and madness in there anymore) had been signs of a changed judicial system within the Ministry since Potter’s arrival.
With a curl to his lips, Draco responded drolly. “I don’t live under a rock, Potter, despite what you and your esteemed colleagues might prattle about in your, no doubt, tedious spare time. I do read the newspaper and every time I reach the sports section your wife’s blasted name springs into my eyes. However much I wish I didn’t care for Quidditch, it’s hard not to notice her.”
Potter had the gall to actually grin, resembling that of a proud husband and Draco’s mood soured effectively. “I see. Well, it’s nice to know that her efforts are appreciated. I’m not sure she’ll appreciate it coming from you though, but I wouldn’t really know now, would I?” He scratched the back of his head.
Draco frowned. “What’s that supposed to mean, Potter?” His manicured hand made a none-too-subtle gesture to the flat. “Don’t tell me your little picture perfect is falling apart? Because then I’m sure we’re all truly fucked.” Harry winced and glanced away. Odd. Things must be less ideal for the Almighty Saviour than previous believed.
Gauging the other man, secretly curious as to why, Draco lifted a bored eyebrow, appearing only marginally interested in what he had to say.
Taken off guard, Potter, in turn, blinked owlishly and turned to worry his lower lip. “We’re... We are not really separated. Yet. I mean, I love her and the kids and I see them as often as I can, though I wish I could find the time to see them more,” he admitted and there was a sense of futility in his countenance. “Believe it or not, we’re still good friends despite it all, but... I guess, we’ve been rather uninterested in the, um, romantic aspects of our marriage for some time now.” He fidgeted in his seat, clearly uncomfortable talking about the subject, perhaps in the presence of his old arch-rival whom he hadn’t seen or spoken to in twenty-odd years.
Draco promptly held up his hands, pretty sure his ears had already started to bleed. Why had he even enquired in the first place? “You know what? I don’t want to know and I don’t care. It’s your business, Potter, and none of mine.”
With pursed lips, Potter spared him a sobering look. “Thanks, I guess?” Then muttered under his breath. “Though I shouldn’t be surprised.”
Donning an indifferent mien, Draco shrugged. “I am not here to play your marriage counsellor, Potter. Besides, you’re talking the wrong man on the subject.” Trading glances, it dawned on the otherwise astute Auror what Draco was referring to.
Draco sniffed. “Yeah. Well.” Who would have thought? The two of them sitting here, talking about wayward children, old rivalries and failed marriages like two old geezers on a bench in Hogsmeade. “Despite your assertions of my apparently leisured time schedule,” he mock-quoted, causing the corner of Harry’s mouth to twitch into a downward frown, “I can now prioritize all my time into the welfare of my only son.” Whether or not the blithe remark was intended to hit a soft spot regarding Harry’s own admission of spending too little time with his kids, a myriad of emotions briefly flitted across the Auror’s both boyish and hard-bitten face.
“I get it, Draco,” his voice cut through the air, and Draco felt suddenly chilled despite the heat of the fire. And what’s with the name calling again? “You’d rather be elsewhere but remember:You reached out to me. I am not as concerned as you about the possible ‘ruin’ of our sons’ welfare because they happen to be in love with each other. In fact,” he sat back, his steely gaze fixed on Draco, “I think it will strengthen them in times to come. My only concern is that they’re too young; that they’re rushing into things.”
One pristine brow arched, Draco retorted flatly. “What, sex?”
Harry didn’t bat an eyelid. “Among other things. Kids these days... There’s no knowing what goes on in their heads.”
Draco hummed, unconvinced. “So you’re saying they’re old enough to have such strong feelings, yet too young to ‘benefit’ from them now?”
Potter blinked, nonplussed, then lifted his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. “For Merlin’s sake, Draco. Can you not try and nitpick every reasoning behind my suggestions? We agree on the main issue here, don’t we?”
Draco ground his teeth. “Can you stop it with the damn ‘Draco’ all the time?!” Potter’s glasses promptly fell back in place onto his nose as he looked up in surprise. “It gives me the creeps.” Draco demonstratively shuddered and sagged back into his seat; his so-far ramrod posture somewhat defeated.
“I –” Harry started then seemed to mull his words over. “I’m sorry, Malfoy. I only meant to be civil but I guess that will never really work with us, will it?” The rhetoric remark left a hollow resonance in its wake between them. Draco grunted noncommittally and turned his face towards the fireplace, watching how the flames licked along the logs. He felt Potter’s keen eyes observing him. Blast. He knew coming here was a bad idea.
“How is,” the other wizard ventured again, “how’s it going with you anyway?” Draco’s head snapped towards Harry whose face twitched into an awkward expression. “I mean, you don’t exactly look...”
Draco narrowed his eyes. “What?” What was Potter trying, and so aptly failing, to say?
“Your usual self, I guess.”
Draco snorted wryly. “Thanks a lot, Potter. Coming from you, it’s a real judgment of character. No wonder they made you the Head Auror.” Potter winced again. “You haven’t seen me in over twenty years. I’m spry enough for my age.” Spying the faint tint in the other wizard’s cheeks, Draco flicked his gaze across the Auror’s tired features. “You don’t look so lively yourself.”
Pulling a rueful grimace, Harry rubbed his forehead and heaved a sigh. “I guess we’ve both been more than a little more exhausted from this entire ordeal with our sons.”
And our respective, failed marriages, Draco thought, though he didn’t say it out loud. “Yeah. Well,” he droned, privately mirroring the sentiment and then expelled a resigned sigh. “I really could use a proper drink by now.”
Harry glanced up with an astonished frown then shot his flat a futile once-over. “I’m afraid I can’t accommodate you in that department. I don’t really have any liquor storage.” He seemed faintly perturbed by this fact and Draco wondered if he had already drunk it all up or if he was actually telling the truth. It was hard to imagine Potter on the wagon and not hiding a small stash of alcohol somewhere. Even a bloody Saint needed a drink sometimes to cope with it all.
Giving him a sceptical look, Draco then got an insane idea. “Right,” he clasped the edge of the sofa and righted himself, “that’s it.” He stood in one smooth move and brushed off his ropes. “Where’s the nearest bloody pub?”
Potter gaped up at him and glanced at his wrist-watch. “Um, it’s 10 pm, Draco,” once again unaware of his slip.
Draco scowled. They had been here for over an hour already? “And? I fail to see the difference. And since when have you become such a spoilsport? Oh, right, you always were.”
With a mildly disgruntled mien, Harry drove a hand through his shaggy hair, making the strands stand up even messier than before. Draco rolled his eyes and made an impatient move to leave.
“You can come with me and get roaring drunk or you can sit here and wallow in your own squalid, self-righteous misery,” he gestured the derisive remark to their surroundings. “Either way, I’m going to get myself a drink. It’s up to you, Potter.” He wasn’t wholly sure why he didn’t just leave; why he stayed put. It was almost as if he wanted Potter to string along. Honestly–
“What?” Caught off guard, Draco’s voice pitched an octave higher than usual, causing Potter’s lips to twitch. Damn.
“I said ‘alright’,” the bespectacled wizard repeated, ducking his head as he rose and turned towards the kitchen. “I’ll just, um, get my coat. I know a place. Wait here.”
Draco picked up his jaw when Harry had left the sitting room. Had he really just gone from A to Z in under a minute with his long-time school rival, literal bane of his existence, and then proceeded to invite him out for a drink?! He felt the world once more spinning on its axis.
Potter returned a moment later; this time having donned an unbuttoned, woollen coat and a pair of Muggle boots. Nothing in his expression gave away his particular thoughts about this little venture and as they wordlessly exited the apartment, Draco bit down on his lower lip and Transfigured his cane into a wand holster on the inside of his ropes. What were they doing? Going out for a friendly drink? Really? And what was going through Potter’s mind? Why had he even agreed to come along?
He chanced one or two glances at the wizard walking beside him as they hit the pavement. Potter seamlessly blended in with the rest of the Muggle Londoners, whereas Draco stood painfully out with his pale, blonde stature and expensive Wizarding clothes. He got several looks along their way to this unknown pub that Potter knew about, yet he deftly ignored them. This was why he chose to Apparate in and out of London. He might be an attention-whore but for the right kinds of people. Glaring at a particularly gawping young man who crossed their paths, the Muggle almost barrelled into Harry as a result. Potter silently sniggered and quickly stepped around him.
“Muggles,” Draco sneered with vivid disdain and Harry shushed him in half-hearted reproach even though they were out of earshot of the stunned pedestrian.
“You may just have broken his heart, Malfoy.”
Draco glanced back and shrugged nonchalantly. “Nah. Not my type.”
Potter froze mid-step. “What?”
“What?” Draco repeated dumbly, coming to a halt as well though every instinct inside him told him to walk on.
“Um...” Potter started, regarding Draco with an odd look in his dark-green eyes, as if he saw him with an entirely new set of glasses.
“What, Potter?” he snapped impatiently. “Have I suddenly sprouted grass for hair or what?” He drove a hand through his meticulously tousled locks and saw Potter follow the motion and visibly swallow. It made Draco stop and ponder. Hm. Interesting. So Potter didn’t know Draco was into blokes as well? Well, why would he? It wasn’t as if Potter was likely to read the tabloids.
“Merlin’s balls, Potter,” he jeered. “Spit it out! Do you have something particularly abrasive to say about my choice of bed partners or what?” It was crudely put, but Draco didn’t give a fig.
Snapping his mouth shut, Potter pressed his lips into a thin line and composed his momentary stupor. “No, I – I was only surprised. I guess.” He started to walk on and Draco belatedly caught up with him.
“Hey, wait a second–”
“No, really, it’s okay, Draco–”
“Will you stop with the ‘Draco’-shite, already?!” Harry halted in his step but refused to look at him.
Surveying the Auror’s tense countenance, Malfoy, in an uncharacteristic manner, stuck his hands in the pockets of his tailored pants. What was up with Potter? “Look, forget about it.” Peering around, Draco drew in an impatient breath. “So, where’s this pub again? I thought I said the nearest not the most remote one you could think of?”
“We’ll be there shortly,” Potter stated in a neutral tone (too neutral) and walked on, not waiting for Draco to follow.
“Bloody–” Draco growled under his breath and quickened his step. They continued to walk a couple of paces in strained silence until they reached the downtown district. Draco muttered under his breath when they walked through a particularly trashy area of clubs, horny business men and drunken teens who stumbled into their path. Some of them even had the gall to catcall him. “I hate this part of London.” He continued to scowl at everyone who even so much as dared to glance their way until they finally reached the pub. Shooting its facade a dubious look, he posed. “You’re sure this isn’t also frequented by a hoard of nosy Muggles?”
Potter’s quiet smirk made his scepticism all the more pronounced. “I’m sure. Come on. It was you who suggested this, wasn’t it?”
With a self-deprecating snort, Draco pursed his lips and followed Potter inside. “Yeah, and I’m already regretting it.”