A/N: Prompt from tumblr, I'd entertain the idea of a part 2 if people wanted it...
Halfway through his second week of training, Harry's just about ready to lie down at the bottom of the stairs and hope some burly neighbor – or one with a hand truck and a do-gooder's temperament – takes pity on him and carries him to his flat. They'd been running drills well past dark due to what was apparently 'appalling performance' on all their parts and it feels like every muscle in his body is made of lead.
Still, he's got enough presence of mind to recognize daydreams of being hauled upstairs and magically delivered to his door are about as likely as him not passing out in the middle of his frozen supper. So he trudges up the stairs, cursing the out of order lifts – couldn't it happen when he was trying to keep fit during the off-season? – and manages to fumble the door open before he drops his bag and keys to the floor in a heap.
It's dark, but he knows the layout well enough that he doesn't reach for a light switch until he's in the hallway to his bedroom and the loo, tossing his sweats off as he goes until he's in just his pants and twisting the shower on and steam fills the room.
Sighing, Harry manages to remember his contacts and take them out before stripping off his boxers and surrendering himself to the beautiful beat of almost too hot water against his aching muscles. Basically on autopilot, he reaches for his favored bar of soap and works his body into a lather before doing the same with his hair, luxuriating in the feel of finally relaxing. He's not too worried about cleanliness, having showered off the worst of the grime back in the locker room. This is mainly about rinsing away the metaphorical dirt of the day, which is a lot deeper than Harry expected to go when he's seriously concerned about falling asleep standing up.
As he reaches up to scrub at his hair more deeply, he winces and scowls down at the his middle – eyes blurry with soap suds and lack of assistance care of his usual visual aids – and finds a blooming bruise on his left side, immediately recalling a particularly memorable encounter with Quincey's knee during practice. He prods it, testing, and shrugs to himself before rinsing the lather from his hair and body and shutting off the tap with a tired sigh.
It's only once he's fully stepped from the shower and blindly reached for the towel rack that he remembers the perfect storm of daily busyness and a distaste for doing laundry regularly like an adult meant he threw his last bath towel in the hamper last night. And he's normally not above fishing through to find what he needs, but training means he's been particularly rank lately and particularly lazy when it comes to anything but football, so he's better off drying off with a dish towel.
So, cautiously, Harry pads out of the bathroom, dripping all the way, and makes his way into the kitchen. He flicks the light on and manages to locate his glasses where he carelessly tossed them before dawn this morning, then picks his way toward the drawer crammed with tea towels and oven mitts. Pulling two towels from the drawer and nudging it closed – only succeeding in shoving it halfway, but he can't really be arsed – Harry drops one to the floor and begins using the other to dry his dripping body. As he does, Harry puts one foot in the center of the other towel and swipes at the trail of water he left across the hardwood, working his way from the kitchen to the hallway, not looking up until he's halfway there. Which may have been a mistake because when he does, it's to find a pair of eyes watching him from across the courtyard.
Glasses already firmly in place, Harry can easily see it's a woman, somewhere around his age, and she's full on gaping at him, though he can't really see whether it's 'I'm calling the super and reporting you for indecent exposure' gaping or 'I already filled my mobile with pictures of your naked body' gaping. A bit late on the reaction, Harry drops his hand until the damp tea towel is draped in front of his – private area.
It's far enough away that Harry can't be sure, but he thinks his lovely neighbor who got an accidental eyeful is blushing a bit. Which, as long as it's not an 'I'm angry and calling to report you' flush he's ok. Once he's had a reasonable amount of sleep, the embarrassment will certainly set in, but he's essentially on autopilot at the moment.
So when his neighbor starts gesturing to his body, it takes him a few moments to even catch on, and then he thinks this is turning into some stalker situation that's going to get him on the nightly news. Until he sees she seems more concerned than anything. Still, she must realize he's not following because she holds up a notepad with big black letters marked across the stark white page. R U A VIGILANTE?
Harry doesn't get a chance to really consider what she could mean because she starts scribbling away again and holds up a second note. U LOOK LIKE A – she pauses to flip pages – HUMAN PUNCHING BAG
Clumsily, he starts trying to examine his ribs a little closer and almost drops his last grip on modesty and panics a bit. When he looks back up, it almost seems like she's giggling at him, or maybe with him. And it's been a while, if he's honest, since he's had a prolonged interaction with an actual human that wasn't part of some contractual obligation, plus she's super fit and funny, so far.
Keeping his bare backside away from the balcony, Harry pokes around for blank paper, but doesn't turn anything up besides some bright green sticky notes which would involve a lot more effort than he's willing to put in, so he scrambles for his discarded jersey and presses it to the window.
She squints, pressing her nose to the glass and then looks down toward her pad. FOOTBALLLER?
Harry nods and she scribbles away again. DON'T U HAVE PEOPLE?
It's then that he spots some junk mail strewn across his coffee table and finds the largest piece to scrawl out a large question mark, then presses it to the sliding door.
She points at him and holds up another sheet. 2 TAKE CARE OF THAT
Whether it's from her easy smiles or his general feeling of punchiness at his lack of sleep over the last fortnight, Harry decides to respond by modeling exaggerated sportsman poses, flexing his lithe muscles.
She throws her head back in laughter and Harry feels something like genuine happiness bloom in his chest as she's writing again. ICE IT
He nods and she holds up one last note. REST. DR ORDERS
Sending her a salute and a grin, Harry watches until she smiles back, pulling her curtains closed the crack of golden light that still shines from her window dimming after a moment.
Sighing, Harry slumps into his bedroom and fishes out some pants before lounging on the couch with some random comedy playing on Netflix while he eats his frozen dinner and drapes an icepack across his ribs.
It takes some effort, but he does manage to get his dishes into the kitchen and brush his teeth before he collapses across his never-made bed and drifts off to sleep. And if a certain unnamed red head crops up in his dreams, who's going to know.