Disclaimer: Full acknowledgement goes to JK Rowling for all Harry Potter characters, plots and situations. This is a not-for-profit work of fan fiction.
Reviewed by wonder beta, Mirrorwakes.
It was a chilly Wednesday sometime in early May. Although winter had long since said goodbye, a crisp cold wind had just this morning swept across the land, forcing all manner of jackets straight back out of their closets.
Draco Malfoy was inside, protected from the weather, sitting casually in a leather armchair by the large front window. His chin was resting on his hand, a few fingers pressed coolly against his lips.
Many pedestrians outside may not have applied terms like casual and cool to Draco Malfoy. But that was because they were as good as a bunch of plebeians! What the Hell did they know?! And, anyway… when Draco Malfoy embodied those descriptive words, they meant something entirely different to the norm.
Casual and cool to the idiots drifting by did not equate to grace, elegance, and refinement - nor did they translate to other fine words like class or finesse. But, to Draco Malfoy, they most certainly did. He gave words such as casual and cool a sophisticated twist and breathed new life into their mundane and ordinary definitions… somehow, the terms seemed to fit (they just did, alright?!).
Even in this tiny scruffy café that was clearly not good enough for him, with the fingers of his other hand languidly curved around a latte glass, he was nothing short of… suave.
He was sitting upright, revealing a posture enjoyed by few; almost a physical anomaly in the current human race. He possessed a stature one only achieves after years of training, discipline and stately upbringing.
His grey eyes communicated the same message as his body to the outside world: He was the surveyor of all around him, the lord of his domain, and, right now, this was as good as his domain. And everyone else and everything else did not matter in the least to him.
He looked out the window with an air of indifference. If you were lucky, his eyes may skirt without interest across you. If you were even luckier, he may sneer lazily your way. Assuming he could be bothered with someone like you. And chances were, he could not.
This was the Malfoy way and Draco carried on this legacy with well-practiced ease.
Although time had softened his sharp features, even a small child wandering aimlessly by and taking one look in his direction knew what sharpness lay behind those stormy eyes. At least they'd better, or else he'd make sure they learnt quickly! (Take that annoying little kid with your smug face and your oh–so-big lollypop! You just think you're so good, don't you? And get your grimy little hand off the glass window! Honestly…).
But Draco Malfoy was not sneering too much today. He was in a good mood.
Which was odd because of three things:
1. As was aforementioned, he was inside a café so utterly common that he should request the owner pay him for lifting the establishment's profile, by not only choosing to visit the place but also choosing to sit in the creaky old chair right by the front window… where everyone walking by could see him, no less!
2. The coffee they sold here was not even fit for watering his least favourite plants in the Manor gardens. Not that he watered those plants. Hell, he didn't even know who did. Only that should they shrivel up and die, a house-elf somewhere would pay. (Except for maybe Dinksie… she wasn't too bad… always brings him a cup of his favourite tea first thing in the morning… In fact, he might pick her up some of those lolly-jibbles she loves from Honeydukes while he's here. He supposed Lexi wasn't too annoying either. She'd probably appreciate some lolly-jibbles as well…)
3. And finally, he was in Hogsmeade, a place he may have loved as a kid, but now it was clearly not classy enough for such a debonair and sophisticated man as he. These days, he avoided Hogsmeade like a well-aimed Bat-Bogey Hex in the eye.
He stared out the window and, uncharacteristically, smirked very slightly to himself. Not that smirking was uncharacteristic for Draco Malfoy, but when he sat on top of his throne and looked upon the surrounding world like he was doing now, smirking was just not the done thing. It let his air of superiority and eminence slip a bit. And there was nothing Draco Malfoy hated more than to let such an important thing as his esteemed public persona slip.
But, here he was slipping ever so slightly with that little smirk. If you knew Draco well - which you probably don't because very few people actually do - then you'd recognise that small smirk to be a sign of incredible excitement… or even a sign of some significant self-congratulating going on inside.
Draco sipped his god-awful coffee and winced at the taste but then let his smirk reappear after placing the glass back on the table. Today was a brilliant day in the life of Draco Malfoy. It marked the beginning of a great many things.
And then he saw a vision that almost wiped the minuscule smirk right off his face. Almost. Because Draco Malfoy did not change his expression, or his position, or his pose or anything for anybody!
Harry Potter, Saviour of the Whole Fucking Wizarding World, was on the other side of the cobblestone road and had just begun walking directly towards the coffee shop door. Directly towards the current domain of His Highness, the suddenly annoyed Emperor Draco Malfoy.
The outside world did not hear the internal groan that reverberated through Draco Malfoy's head.
Draco then chanced a quiet murmur to himself – although, there was no one else in the dreary bloody café, so he wasn't entirely certain why he kept his voice so quiet. "Not today, Potter. Turn around," he willed the dark-haired wizard from the confines of the café, with unfortunately no success.
Draco's last boyfriend, Phillip (okay, yes, a Muggle, but a devastatingly rich one, being the sole heir of some large oil magnate), made Draco watch some ghastly Muggle movie before Draco gave him the long-overdue flick. The movie was called, "The Matrix," or something, and it was supposed to be 'highly entertaining'. A fantasy! Complete with visual effects to utterly 'enthral' viewers.
Only it was so fucking boring to Draco Malfoy that he almost levitated Phillip's enormous television screen straight out the French doors, over the terrace railing, and splat! onto the paved poolside area below. "So… still find your fake fucking fantasy movie exciting now…?" he imagined himself then nonchalantly saying to a slack-jawed Phillip who had no bleeding idea about the existence of wizards or magic. Heh heh…
But, honestly, the way Phillip had at one point jumped excitedly from his chair and yelled in triumph when that main character had finally learnt how to fly (Oh, come ON! I could do that in my sleep! ) was altogether unbecoming and unbefitting behaviour from anyone Draco Malfoy chose to associate with. Draco Malfoy soon chose to stop associating with Phillip Meliakus.
Right now, Harry Potter was almost the spitting image of the dark-haired main character from that god-forsaken Matrix movie. He was wearing a long dark jacket and his tousled midnight hair was more cool and contained than Draco had ever seen it. Although not wearing dark sunglasses like that Matrix character, Potter's drab old seeing-glasses had been replaced with modern, frameless ones; glasses that were, thankfully, more rectangular in shape than the gawkish circular pair from Hogwarts days.
And Potter was walking with style, confidence and purpose.
The scene itself was absorbing if not a bit unsettling, but Draco Malfoy did not allow the world to know he thought this. Instead, he raised a bored eyebrow ever so slightly, to show his mild distaste for – for pretty much everyone and everything going on around him. Matrix-Potter now included.
Perhaps, the most amusing part? A cloud of fanatical hanger-ons were scrambling in the wake of Potter's steps, desperate to talk to him and grab his attention. Desperate for anything from the wizarding world's greatest fucking hero. But Potter was having none of it. He continued to charge resolutely, maintaining a calm expression on his face, towards the café door. And Potter did not even so much as turn to sign an autograph much less tell one of them to sod off or even acknowledge their presence.
Although Draco Malfoy was watching the scene unfold as if it were in slow-motion (complete with sound-track music and all) Potter's determined pace was such that even the closest fan was a good stride or two behind Potter the whole way over. This was quite surprising to Draco Malfoy who thought Potter was likely to just suck it all up, take whatever gushing, nauseating affection came his way – however misplaced such affection may have been.
And then suddenly, the bell on the café door jingled and Potter was inside straightening his Matrix-jacket. Meanwhile, the door shut and locked itself behind him and the "Open" sign on the other window simultaneously turned over to "Closed". And Potter had not even raised a wand or uttered a single word. Times had most certainly changed.
The swarm of disappointed fans hovered outside the now locked door - and even covered Draco Malfoy's window momentarily (Oh, get the fuck out of my view! ) - before their muted optimism gave way to sad defeat and they walked away with slumped shoulders.
"Harry!" a joyful voice bellowed out in greeting.
"Bilius! Catch!" A small bag of what Draco imagined to be wizard money flew towards the café owner who had appeared out from the back as soon as he heard the front door bell rattle. Not that Draco was watching. Or interested.
"Har-rrry. I've told you before. I don't need your money."
"Bi-iiill. You let me shut the shop down whenever I need a bit of peace. Least I can do."
"Harry… I'd be happy to do it anyway."
Bill sighed in resignation. "The usual then?"
"Yeah, that would be great."
Suddenly, Harry Fucking Observant Potter turned his head no more than five degrees and spotted Draco Malfoy sitting not four feet away by the window (in the exact same cool and casual yet oh-so-sophisticated stance of three minutes ago – because nobody makes Draco Malfoy change his expression, his position, his pose! NOBODY!)
"Malfoy." Potter's emerald eyes fixed on him.
Draco Malfoy put on his most blasé expression and matched it perfectly with his tone of voice. "Potter."
Potter paused, obviously unsure what to do with himself. Draco Malfoy delighted in that uncertainty for a moment.
"What are you doing here?" Potter asked.
Draco let out a highly displeased breath. "Still just as bright as I remember you being."
And, at that, Harry Potter's mouth broke into a grin. The bastard grinned.
And then chuckled. He was lightly chuckling. He was fucking chuckling!
Draco refused to change his expression from anything other than dispassionate and unperturbed. But Potter was not done chuckling.
Stupid fucking Potter.
And then – then? Potter grabbed the chair next to Draco and, swivelling it around, Potter lowered his body and sat on it backwards. He hugged the back of the chair to his chest with one arm and, propping an elbow up on the chair's back, rested his chin on his hand. Suddenly the words casual and cool flashed through Draco's brain, but Draco kicked those words quick smart right out of there, giving them a highly justified sneer as they ran for cover.
"Malfoy, Malfoy." Potter grinned again, his emerald eyes now sparkling Draco's way.
Draco slipped and gave him a scowl. Get your fucking sparkling eyes off me-
Potter sighed in nostalgic amusement. "Whatever happened to us, Malfoy? We've drifted apart. We never catch up like we used to."
Regaining his nonchalance and air of arrogance, Draco said flatly, "Yes. We used to be so... Close."
Potter laughed. "Same old Malfoy."
"And, lucky for me, same old Potter."
Harry chuckled again. Stop. Fucking. Chuckling. "So. Just stopped in for a coffee?"
"Again, so very bright." Draco fixed him with a not-very-amused stare. "In fact, why don't you take a seat and join me?"
Potter chuckled once again. "Why, that sounds splendid!" said the smarmy git who was already sitting UNINVITED on a chair at HIS table! Fucking POTTER!
"Bill?" Potter called out. "Bring Malfoy another-" he turned back to Draco. "What's that you're drinking? A latte?"
"Piss water," Draco answered, enunciating all the sounds and syllables with overzealous precision.
"Bring him another glass of piss water, Bill." Draco's eyes shot wide-open. He quickly brought them back to normal size before Potter turned back around.
Potter looked at Draco with a grin and then sighed warmly, replanting his chin on his hand and raising an eyebrow. "It has been too long. I mean… it must be years since we last crossed paths. When was it?"
Draco yawned. "The War."
Draco rolled his eyes. "The. War."
"There was a war?"
"Yeah. You might recall it. Dark wizard trying to kill you. Two sides fighting against each other for years and years. Death, destruction. All of that."
"Huh. Doesn't ring a bell. Oh well. You'll have to fill me in on the details some time. We'll do coffee - or piss water again... and you can tell me all about it."
Fuck it. Potter just made him smile. Just a bit. But there was no denying it happened.
Stupid fucking POTTER!
"As much as I'd love to chat with you about the good old days, here's the executive summary: You killed the Dark Lord and now the whole fucking wizarding world loves you even more."
"Really? Are you sure about that? The whole wizarding world…?" Harry asked mischievously.
Draco was now feeling a bit ruffled. FUCK stupid Harry stupid Potter. "Most of the wizarding world," he corrected disdainfully.
Harry nodded. "Yeah, perhaps. And thank Merlin for that too! Honestly, I don't know where I'd be today if it weren't for those few people who still hate me with every fibre in their being. You don't know how lucky I feel to be loathed like that. Their hatred makes me feel… human… and… blessed, even." He waved a hand towards the window, referring to the crowd he had pretended until now to not notice gathering again outside, eagerly awaiting his exit from the café. "No one should live like this, Malfoy. It's not right. It's positively inhuman." He turned to Draco and gave him an amused but sappy smile. "I'm glad I can always count on you to balance out my life for me again."
Draco Malfoy pushed away the decidedly uncomfortable thought of: just how in the Hell had Harry Potter gotten so self-assured and good-humoured? And, even more disturbing, when had Potter decided to be that way around Draco Malfoy of all people?!
Draco frowned. "Don't you have somewhere to be?"
"Well I do."
"None of your business, Potter."
"Here's your hot mocha, Harry. I put some whipped cream and hot chocolate fudge sauce on top because I know you like it that way." Bill smiled at Harry, obviously, another fucking one of his fans. "And, of course, the piss water for you, Mr. Malfoy."
Harry chuckled under his breath as Bill raised an eyebrow and left the table.
Draco shook his head at the tall, chocolate creamy drink in front of Potter. "Well I've never seen such a manly drink in all my life, Potter."
"Thank you," Potter said, smiling and accepting the insult as a compliment it was never, in any way, supposed to be. Then Potter dove a spoon excitedly into the tower of cream and fudge sauce and, a second later, shoved the overloaded spoon into his pumpkin-pasty hole. A look of utter elation on his face soon followed as he sucked the spoon clean.
"Oh wow… mmm… oh… that's great…"
Draco frowned and looked at him uncomfortably. "Do you mind? I'd rather keep my food in my stomach where it belongs."
"Sorry! But it's – oh… it's fucking brilliant!" Potter waved a knowing spoon Draco's way. "Beats piss water hands down."
Draco rolled his eyes and groaned audibly. And then, he groaned inaudibly at the fact he had just moments earlier groaned out loud.
Why the fuck did Potter get such a rise out of him? No one else had ever managed to push his buttons as much as this stupid git.
"You still in touch with Goyle and Crabbe?"
He paused. "A bit." The truth was he barely had much to do with them these days.
"Send them my love."
He arched an incredulous brow. "Of course. As always."
"You working or anything?"
"Sorry. Didn't mean to get personal, just… wondered. I thought I heard you were offered a job at Hogwarts--"
"Shares," Draco cut in. The last thing he wanted to do was give Potter more information than was necessary on his life.
"I'm into shares. Stocks. Bonds. All of that. The wizard stock market."
"Oh. I bought shares in Wilson's Brooms. Think they'll do any good?"
Draco paused. "They might."
"Good. 'Cos I didn't have a clue what I was doing!" And then Potter gave him a smug grin. "I just know I like brooms…"
Draco sighed wearily, hoping to strongly hint that this little Hufflepuff chit-chat session was totally unacceptable.
But Draco had forgotten just how dense Potter was at picking up on nonverbal cues…
"You still living all alone in that big old mansion of yours?" Potter asked, now taking a sip from his tall glass.
Draco drew in an annoyed breath. "Not that it's any concern of yours, but yes."
Potter nodded. "I sold number twelve, Grimmauld Place."
"Really," Draco said flatly, determined to send Potter the message that he was Not. Fucking. Interested!
"Yeah. I don't know what it was… perhaps that painting of Mrs. Black shrieking, 'Blood traitor!' at me every five seconds wasn't doing it for me anymore. Honestly, even you can come up with better insults than that. Portrait or not, there's a lot she could learn from you, Malfoy." He smirked at Draco.
Draco fought another smile from showing on his lips and won this time. Ha! Fucking victory! How do you like THAT Potter?! "Yeah, well, I'm gifted. What can I say?"
Harry went in for more cream and sauce.
"Potter? That's a heart attack in a glass you've got there."
"Malfoy? Don't you dare start caring about my health. What was I just saying before about needing you to hate me?" Harry raised an amused eyebrow.
"You've got no worries there."
"Good. That's a relief. Hey, you were wrong about before. It wasn't the War. The last time we crossed paths would have been at the Order of Merlin ceremony."
Draco remembered the night well. Seven people received the award that night. But the reporters and photographers acted like Harry Potter was the only one in the entire room. Severus had left straight after the ceremony (without even trying a single scallop crustini?! Honestly, Severus…) but Draco was determined to stay and let the wizarding world know, if it near killed him, that he was an honest to God fucking war hero like the other six.
Draco had the odd person nod his way or give him a handshake but his contribution was nowhere near as recognised as it should have been. Stupid fucking Ministry! Their reluctance to release much information on how all the double agents operated did not in any way allow people to pay enough respect where respect was clearly due. Namely: to him.
Draco hovered back against a wall at one point, almost covering his Order of Merlin, and sipped on some vintage gooseberry wine, frowning each time he noticed the waiters miss him completely as they drifted by with their duck canapés.
Stupidly, Draco hung around a little more, watching the frenzy over Potter continue from afar. Finally he woke up to himself and decided to get the Hell out of there. On his way towards the door, he passed by Potter and, against all desire, he glanced Potter's way. Potter instantly caught his eyes, raised a hand in a non-moving wave and gave him an almost pained look, one that Draco momentarily thought was a look of annoyance with the whole affair and perhaps even desire to get the Hell out of there too. Draco frowned and spun around, certain Potter was meaning to send that wave and message to someone else. But when Draco glanced at the faces behind him, he didn't recognise any of them as being one of Potter's minions. Still… it didn't mean they weren't. He had so fucking many! Who the Hell could keep track?!
"I'd be surprised if you even saw me that night beyond the ten-foot thick crowd of adoring fans that followed you everywhere," Draco said icily.
"Well… that's the thing, isn't it? You tend to stand out."
Draco caught his breath.
"Anyway..." Harry reached into his jacket pocket and fished out his wallet. "I probably should head off. I hate to keep Billius' place shut for too long."
Good. GOOD. Fuck OFF. Go NOW.
Harry threw some wizard coins on the table. Enough for both their drinks and a generous tip.
"Oh… hey…" Potter started before Draco could push his coins away and demand to pay for his own fucking piss water, "some of us are starting up a social Quidditch game on Saturdays. Want to join in? "
Draco waited for the punch line. It didn't come.
"I'm serious," Harry said, crossing his arms. "You should come. It'll be fun."
Draco raised an eyebrow. "Fun?"
"Yeah. Sure. Why not? We need another Seeker. We're going to split into two teams and play a game against each other this Saturday to start with and we'll go from there if everyone likes it. So far, we've got Ron and Fred playing… umm… Ginny… who else? Oh, Seamus… Dean…"
Draco frowned. "Potter, I don't think gallivanting around on a broomstick with a bunch of Gryffindors at age twenty-eight on a Saturday is my idea of fun."
"Oh come on. You used to love playing Quidditch."
"Yes, but I never played on the same side as fucking Gryffindors."
Harry laughed a big belly laugh. Taking several seconds to complete it. Throwing his head back and all.
Stupid fucking Potter!
"School was a long time ago, Malfoy," Harry said, shaking his head with a lopsided smile. "There are no school houses in the real world."
"Fine," Harry groaned and threw his hands up in the air above his shoulders. "Have it YOUR way." Draco frowned, wondering just what that meant but soon found out. "What's the problem, Malfoy? Chicken?! Don't think you've got what it takes to catch the Snitch before me, hey? Gotten a bit rusty in your old age? Not quite the wizard you used to be? Afraid I'll show the big bad Slytherin up? Make you look like…"
Potter was not only taunting him like he was back at Hogwarts, but he was also putting on the most annoying, childish, whiny sort of voice.
"…worried that all the Gryffindors will fall straight off their brooms laughing at you--"
"Alright! Alright! Fine! FINE!" Draco fumed. "If saying yes shuts you the Hell up!"
Harry grinned deviously. "Excellent. It's not only been too long since I've had a good Malfoy insult, but it's been too long since I've caught the Snitch hours before you've even spotted it."
"Potter, you will die eating those words."
"Ahh… there we go! Not quite an insult but a healthy Malfoy threat at least, anyway. Also too long since the last one."
"You're lucky I'm in a good mood today."
Harry blinked. "This is you in a good mood? Malfoy? Fuuuck." Harry's eyes grew large with amusement.
With that, Harry stood and stretched his arms above his head, sporting yet another smirk, and showing the world (which in this case was just Draco Malfoy) a quick hint of just how well Auror training had treated his body.
"Well then, Mr. Sprightly, I'll see you what you've still got on Saturday morning. Ten a.m. sharp. I'll send you an owl with the address details."
Harry waved a goodbye to Bill at the counter, while the door lock magically unlatched and the "Closed" sign turned to "Open" again, and then Potter walked back out into the street.
Stupid, fucking Harry Potter!