A/N: Just a random idea I had. Warnings for slash and alcoholism. If you have a question or comment about the story and you'd like a response, please feel free to e-mail me or leave your e-mail address in your review.
"The Usual Friday Night"
It wasn't a muggle bar. They didn't mingle with muggles anymore. That was to say that the wizards that had mixed with muggles didn't do so anymore, not after the Great War. But no one called the war by its proper name because it wasn't proper. Everyone just went around referring to the Great War as it or that, and it nearly drove Harry insane. Or, it would have drove Harry insane if he wasn't in fact insane already.
Harry liked the way his hands fit around the rim of a glass of bourbon. He liked the way it looked, and he especially liked the way it felt. It warmed the bottom of his stomach and liquefied his brain to the point where he didn't have to think anymore. And that was the goal after it, wasn't it? Wizards didn't talk about it, and the few that were still alive didn't bother to record that in their history books. There was no one to read them anyway.
Harry hadn't run away. He'd destroyed Voldemort. Yes, he would still call that bastard by his name. But somewhere in the process of destroying or saving or dying, everything got muddled up. He'd not only annihilated Voldemort but also the wizarding world as they'd all known it. No one had not been touched by the disaster, and though it wasn't really Harry's fault, not at all in the slightest, he was supposed to be their savior. He'd been looked upon to make everything all right again. And with blood on both hands, broken glasses hanging off of one ear, what had Harry had to offer?
He'd done the next best thing to running away. He'd retreated deep inside of himself. He'd looked to alcohol to take away the pain, and really it was no different than the wizards that searched for salvation on the streets. Between the sheets or inside the bottle, it was all the same. Voldemort had been destroyed, peace restored, but there was no real peace at all. The wizarding world was in shambles, and if Harry really thought about it, it was as if Voldemort had never left.
It could all be chalked up to the usual Friday night. Or maybe it was Saturday, because Harry had lost track of the days at the very end of it. It didn't really matter though, because no one worked anymore and each night stretched into the next. The streets were always black and it seemed like the sun never shone. And it could have been because God was trying to punish them. Harry hadn't thought about God in a long time.
So when a stranger walked into the bar, his hood still drawn up about his face, there was no mummer of greeting. The wizards didn't even spare a suspicious glance on the figure, because suspicion could go to hell just like everyone else was. Maybe they were already there.
The man, for Harry presumed it was a man, wasn't very tall. Harry wouldn't have noticed him at all, but he wasn't quite drunk enough yet. He'd learned to hold his drink a few months back. The stranger chose the bar stool next to Harry, and that was sure to gain the dark haired hero's attention. There were three other empty places.
"Scotch," the hooded man said in a somewhat familiar voice.
Harry didn't even try to place it. He simply slid his glass up on the counter signaling that he'd like another drink. Harry hardly spoke anymore and never exchanged a word with anyone but himself. The gradual bump and slide of the glass on the wooden countertop, followed shortly thereafter by the clinking of glass on glass as his drink was refilled, was the closest he'd come to communication in a long time.
The hooded man could hold his drink as well, Harry noted. He watched as a slender hand with even more slender fingers emerged to lift the proffered glass. There were no words, just a tilt of the head and an unmistakable swallow. Harry closed his eyes. He knew those sounds better than the tone of his own voice.
The other man said not another word, and that was how Harry liked it, even more than he liked his bourbon. And in the coming days, the man continued to sit by Harry's side. He didn't smoke, though his fingers did sometimes itch across the countertop. Harry studied him, and he learned the first few new things since Hogwarts.
The man always wore a hood. He liked his alcohol hard, and that was a thing even Harry could appreciate. He was left handed, and there was a dark mark, albeit pale, just on the inside of his right wrist. It might have concerned Harry at one point, but it seemed everyone had something to hide, and Harry was no different.
Days, perhaps weeks later, Harry received the news. It came in the form of a letter, a simple piece of parchment, and he'd scrunched it up in a tight little ball so many times that the words had become hard to read. They were there all the same, written in emerald green ink. It was a tragedy really. Emerald ink had become a commodity after that.
When Harry entered the bar that night, he laid the letter out on the table. He smoothed out the wrinkles and creases with his glass, the amber liquid sloshing over the brim and onto the counter. It soaked a corner of the letter.
The stranger was there at precisely the same time every night. He sat in precisely the same seat, but this time, when he spotted the paper, his voice faltered. Because the hooded man always ordered his drinks outright. It was almost as if he needed to be reminded that he did have a voice. It was in there, somewhere. Harry wasn't sure where his own had gone.
Harry let the other man pick up the parchment. It stuck to the counter with the spilt alcohol, and Harry couldn't see anything through the damned hood. He found that he didn't need to. Because the man's hands were shaking too, almost as if he knew, and when he reached out and touched Harry just lightly, barely there, on the hand, it was enough. It was scary and strange and new, but it was enough just the same.
It just wasn't everyday that you're best friend killed themselves. It wasn't everyone who got a suicide note written in the victim's own hand. And it must have been Harry's fault, because he hadn't seen Ron in who knew how long. He almost expected to find an apology from Hermione sighed somewhere near the bottom, a small little note about Ron's childishness, his immature pranks. There should have been something to assure Harry that it was all one big joke. Hermione had been dead for over a year.
Harry found himself reaching right on back. His fingers stroked inside of the man's right sleeve, just brushing against the mark on the inside of his wrist. It wasn't cold or burning as Harry would have suspected, just the same warmth as the rest of the skin. Harry kept his eyes on the countertop and, when his next drink came, he downed it in two gulps.
People in the bar never mentioned their homes. The bar was their home, but there was still a closing time. It was hard to believe that after so many nights, one after the other, Harry wasn't used to the fact. And that was maybe why, five or six countless nights later, he found himself slipping from his stool. The lights were dimming, or it could have been Harry's eyes closing. Before he could hit the ground, however, there was already something pulling him back.
Harry looked up, into the eyes of the hooded man, where the man's eyes should have been, and didn't find himself troubled at all. That slender hand was wrapped around Harry's wrist, the same one Harry had seen wrapped around so many glasses, and it wasn't different at all.
He allowed the other man to stand him up. The man was patting off Harry's robes, a hand lingering on Harry's shoulders. No one was watching or even sneaking a glance, and Harry could have been anyone at all. Perhaps that was why he liked the bar. Maybe it was why he leaned into the touch, even if it only ever so slightly. It was still a touch, and it should repulse him, but Harry leaned into it never the less.
Weeks later, on a particularly dark evening, there was only the sound of rain hitting the roof, splashing down onto the pavement. It mingled with the noise of the heartbeat in Harry's chest. He hadn't noticed his heartbeat for a long while, and he wondered if it had noticed him. He wondered what kept it beating.
Before Harry could order a single thing, lay a single galleon or sickle down on the counter, the hooded man was climbing onto the stool at his side. It was early for the other man. Harry usually finished his first drink before he arrived.
"Two bourbons on the rocks," the figure said.
Harry's fingers grew suddenly warm from blood or life in his lap. Truth be told, he'd recognize that voice from anywhere. He wasn't sure what had taken him so long, or why he'd even hesitated to guess. Something inside of him was screaming, though what, Harry could not discern.
The drinks were delivered, as they always were, and the man picked his up first, raising it to the light, causing the ice to tinkle lightly. The other drink he handed to Harry. Their fingers brushed, and it was more than just blood that brought a warmth to Harry's skin. His tongue was heavy in his mouth, and Harry licked his teeth slowly. Perhaps it was time to use it once again.
"I never cared much for bourbon," Harry whispered. The other's hand paused, the glass still lifted into the air. When he turned to look at him, Harry thought he could just see his eyes in the darkness.
"Neither did I."
The man's glass fell to the counter then, bourbon spilling down onto the floor, onto his robes. Harry hadn't even touched his own. And when the man's hands finally did come to his hood, pulling it slowly back, Harry forsook breathing.
"Draco Malfoy," the man said slowly, holding out his palm between them. The dark mark caught the light on his right wrist, the picture faded.
"Harry Potter." Harry grasped Draco's hand in his own and, when he at last took a breath, it felt like the very first time.