Harry isn’t sure what he’s doing here. This morning he was all set to go to work, but when he stepped out of his front door, that was suddenly the last place he wanted to be. So, he turned and Apparated to Godric’s Hollow instead. Now he’s stood here, outside the shell of his parents’ house, writing in his diary and wondering what the fuck he’s doing with his life.
Harry’s not much cop at diaries. Never has been, but he thinks his past experiences make that kind of understandable. He’s wary of putting too much of himself into an inanimate object. Wary of putting too much of himself into anything these days, maybe, which is a depressing thought. It’s no wonder Ron says he should get out more.
This probably wasn’t what Ron had in mind.
It’s been a while since Harry last visited the house, but it’s just the same as ever. It looks a lot like it did when he was here with Hermione, that Christmas with Bathilda and the snake. There’s a light dusting of snow - it’d look very festive, like a lifesize gingerbread house, if it wasn’t for the roof. Or lack thereof.
It’s strange to think that this was home once, the only home he’d ever known. Now it’s just a house, and it’s barely even that.
There’s a man standing nearby that Harry doesn’t recognise. Sharp features, blond, pale. It isn't surprising that someone else is there, especially at this time of year, but this particular man looks kind of lost, like he’s missing something. Looks kind of how Harry feels, and that interests him enough to make him break the silence.
“Hey,” Harry calls, and the sound of his voice startles the other man, like he hadn’t noticed Harry.
“It’s strange that he lived in such a quaint little cottage, isn’t it?” the stranger says. He’s stood a little way away, looking up at the house with a curious tilt to his head. “You know, the one that killed Voldemort.”
“Harry Potter?” Harry says, a little incredulous even though he kind of hates the bratty but everybody knows me implications of that.
“Oh, was that his name?” the stranger says, not sounding very interested in the answer. It’s not a local accent, something posh and southern. They seem close in age, but Harry can’t place him, and he didn’t even know Harry's name. Harry figures maybe he went to Durmstrang or Beauxbatons, somewhere far away from the Prophet. Maybe he knows, though, and is just toying with him.
“His name’s in all the papers,” Harry observes.
The man only shrugs. “I don’t much care what the papers have to say.”
I'm fucked up in the head. Why do I fall in love with every person I meet who shows me the slightest indifference? Harry writes in his notebook, and underlines it.
“What have you got there?” the stranger says, edging closer. Harry closes the little book, shoves it back in his bag.
“A diary,” Harry confesses, shrugs. “I… went through kind of a lot, during the war,” he admits. It’s sort of liberating, to be able to talk about it without the baggage of being ‘Harry Potter.’ “It helps to get my thoughts onto paper sometimes.”
“Mm, didn’t we all,” the stranger says, leaning on the fence and resting his chin on his arms to study the house with a faraway gaze. Harry doesn't know how to answer that. Some more than others.
Harry leans the opposite way - back to the house, elbows resting on the wood. “Why are you loitering outside the Boy Who Lived's house, anyway?” he asks.
“Why does anyone? Curiosity, I guess,” the stranger says. He gives Harry a conspiratorial smile. “I kind of bunked off today, thought I might as well play tourist.”
“Same.” Harry says.
The stranger smiles at him. “I went to school with him, you know,” he says, and wrinkles his nose. “Well, not with. We moved in… Different circles.”
“Me too, had a few classes with him,” Harry says, wanting to hang on to this for a little while longer. “I don't remember you.”
“It’s a big castle.”
The man gives him a measuring look, then stands up straight. He offers a hand. “I'm Draco,” He says, and it sounds vaguely familiar. Maybe that had some classes together. “Don't make jokes about my name, I hate that.”
Harry shakes the offered hand, all too aware that the brief moment of anonymity is slipping away. He just hopes Draco isn’t going to be weird about it. He leans into it, tries to make light of it.
“I'm Gary. Gary… Otter,” he replies solemnly. “And I take my name very seriously, too.”
There’s this moment where Draco sort of frowns, and Harry braces himself. He laughs a moment later though, a light and uncomplicated chuckle. “Right. How unfortunate for you, to be our age with glasses and a scar, and a name sounding so like the saviour of the wizarding world. Must cause a lot of mixups.”
Harry grins and falls back against the wall, hands in his jacket. “You have no idea.”
Draco looks at him, then the house, and presses his lips together, looking thoughtful but a little amused. “Alright, Gary, I get it. So here’s the deal; no jokes about my name, no questions about yours. Does that seem fair?”
Harry nods, relieved that Draco isn’t treating him any different now he knows. “I think I'm getting the better end of that, somehow. I can't think of any jokes about your name,” he admits.
“Oh, they'll come to you,” Draco says, with a world-weary sigh. “Just keep them to yourself.”
Harry smiles at his shoes. It's been a long time since he's had a conversation this easy with someone he hasn’t known for years, without the shadow of his past hanging over it. Suddenly, he remembers the other reason he’s here. An inexplicable craving he woke with.
“Hey, it’s freezing. Do you want to get out of here?” he asks, hands deep in his pockets. Hoping he’s not reading this wrong. “There’s this bakery not far from here. They do the best pumpkin pasties.”
Rather than answer the question, Draco reaches out and holds a hand in front of Harry’s forehead, just above eye level. Harry doesn’t know what to think, but goes along with it. Draco’s eyes widen and he points at him. “ That’s where I’ve seen you. You had a hat, though,” he says, sounding mildly accusatory. He shakes his head, smiles. “I’m local… ish. You could say I’m a regular.”
“Yeah, I’m always getting recognised for my bakery patronage,” Harry says. He’s still very thrown off by this whole ‘Harry who?’ thing Draco has going on, but so intrigued. “So what do you think?”
“Best offer I’ve had all day,” Draco says.
Harry pretends to check his watch. “It’s midday. Have you had many?” he asks.
Draco smirks, and somehow Harry feels like it’s an expression he’ll be seeing a lot of. “ Dozens ,” he says, and starts walking, turning his head to check Harry is following. “Come on, Potter, pastry awaits.”
“That’s Otter to you,” Harry says, and follows.