Title: Bottoms Up
Rating: R (for language)
A/N: Giftfic for simeysgirl who asked for football (not soccer) and stockings. As well as Aston Villa, balti pie and cold lager. Plus the general poo-pooing of Americanisms.
This fic does end a little abruptly, but I am planning a sequel to it!
Looking up from his half empty pint of lager and gazing around the Muggle pub, Harry smiled. He'd been spending quiet Saturday afternoons at different pubs for the past few weeks, and truly enjoyed the solitude and time to think. And the beer. Beer was good.
A couple of months ago Harry had started playing football with some friends at a local park on Saturday mornings, and after a particularly spectacular win one of the guys had suggested going to the pub for a drink. As the others drifted home Harry had stayed for another drink, basking in the quiet chatter and relaxed atmosphere. Every Saturday afternoon since had found him enjoying a new pub and another pint.
He drained the last of his current drink and ordered another. As the bartender set his cold lager down in front of him another patron along the bar stood to leave and Harry caught sight of the person sitting the other side. With his legs crossed, head bowed with hair in his eyes and casually tearing at a bar mat in this small Muggle pub, was Draco Malfoy.
Before Harry could think any further than 'Malfoy?' Malfoy's head had risen and he had spotted Harry. For a few seconds, they both just stared at each other. Harry seemed to recover first, raising both his eyebrows and offering a small smile as a shocked, but friendly, greeting. Malfoy's dazed expression disappeared to be replaced by one of amused annoyance and resignation as he rolled his eyes, slid off his stool, and slowly made his way towards Harry.
"Hello, Malfoy," said Harry as he approached.
"Potter," replied Malfoy with a small nod as he sat down.
They were silent as they continued to drink.
Harry let his eyes roam over the bottles at the back of the bar as he took larger than normal gulps of his beer, having no clue what to say to the man sitting next to him.
After several minutes Malfoy drained his own lager and set the glass down as he stood.
"It's been wonderful catching up with you, Potter," Malfoy quipped wryly.
Harry's brow furrowed as Malfoy walked to the door and left the pub.
Draco had to wonder if coming back to the pub was a good idea. He'd been spending his Saturdays with a book, his journal and his thoughts at this particular Muggle pub for the better part of a year and had never once run into anyone he knew. Until last week—and of course that person would have to be Harry bloody Potter.
Sighing, but refusing to abandon his favourite hideaway, he entered the pub. A quick glance around showed no sign of Potter's tell-tale messy black hair and Draco relaxed. He ordered a pint and retreated to a secluded table towards the back of the pub. He hoped Potter would not be back, but refused to run the risk of being easily spotted if he did return.
An hour later and Draco was so engrossed in his book that he had forgotten all about Potter. That was until he felt someone standing across the table from him. He looked up slowly to see the grinning face of Harry Potter staring down at him.
"Fancy seeing you here." Potter paused. "Again."
Struggling not to roll his eyes, Draco put down his book, stood, picked up his empty glass, and made his way to the bar.
By the time he returned with a new pint, Potter had settled himself into the seat opposite Draco's and was flicking through Draco's book. Draco dropped back into his seat and raised an eyebrow at Potter.
"Agatha Christie? Draco Malfoy is sitting in a Muggle pub, drinking Muggle alcohol and reading a Muggle book. I'm in shock." Potter handed the book back to Draco.
"Is there something I can help you with, Potter, or did you just want to mock me?" Draco was not impressed.
"I haven't seen you in three years, Malfoy. I thought I might see how life has been treating you."
Draco pondered Potter's motives, but thought he sounded earnest enough.
"My life is fine, Potter." He paused. "Do you really want to do this?"
"Do what?" Potter seemed genuinely puzzled.
"Awkward chit-chat. With me."
Potter shrugged. "Why not? You can't be the same annoying git you were at school; you haven't even insulted me yet."
"With three years' worth of contempt to catch up on, I just can't decide which disparaging remark to make first." Draco could feel the corners of his mouth curl up as he spoke.
"There's the Malfoy I know and love," joked Potter.
Draco simply stared at him
"Okay, the Malfoy I know and hate."
Draco nodded once, appeased.
"So really, then. How are you, Malfoy?" Potter ceased jesting and looked at Draco seriously.
"I am well. Life is not too bad. My Saturday is ruined." He raised an eyebrow at Potter. "What about you?"
Potter chuckled before replying.
"I'm good. No more evil wizards trying to do me in, that I know of. So I'm happily enjoying a more relaxed and normal life."
"And what is it you do with your 'relaxed and normal life'?" Draco suddenly found himself rather curious about what the Chosen One was doing with himself now that he was no longer 'Chosen'.
"Auror training takes up most of my time," he replied.
"Of course." Draco nodded condescendingly. Whether the Chosen One or not, Potter would have to be a do-gooder danger-seeker.
"What about you? What do you do?"
"A bit of this, a bit of that. All boring things that make me a lot of money." Draco sat up a little straighter as he took a sip of his beer. He caught the amused smile on Potter's face.
"Of course," Potter nodded.
"Is that it, then?" Draco asked. "Auror training and pub haunting are how you spend your time?"
"And football," Potter smiled, seeming completely at ease.
"Muggle sport. You kick a ball around with your foot." Potter sounded far too smug.
"Isn't that soccer?" Draco had heard of the game, but thought it sounded rather dull compared to Quidditch.
"No, well yes, but soccer is what Americans call it. It's football really."
"Why do Americans call it soccer?" Draco was starting to get confused.
Potter thought for a moment.
"Because Americans already call rugby football."
"What? That makes no sense." Now Draco really was confused.
"I don't pretend to understand Americans." Potter started to laugh.
They spent the next hour or so making small talk and Draco discovered he didn't completely hate Potter's company. He supposed it made a refreshing change to his normal solitary Saturdays. He idly wondered if this would become a regular occurrence, then wondered why that possibility didn't seem as horrific as he thought it should.
As soon as Harry entered the pub on that third Saturday he looked around eagerly, trying to spy the blond-headed man he had come here to see. Again. He wasn't sure why he had come back to this pub last week, but this week there was no denying that Harry had come back to see Malfoy.
Harry had been happy to see Malfoy was no longer the annoying bastard he had been at school. He still seemed to be an annoying bastard, but not the same one he had been. The time they had spent talking last week was relaxed and Harry had found himself smiling a lot. If it was possible to repeat the experience, then he wanted to.
He spotted Malfoy reading at the same table they had occupied last week, bypassed the bar and headed straight towards him. Malfoy didn't look up from his book as Harry pulled out the chair opposite him and sat down. Harry's attention was so focused on Malfoy that he didn't notice the extra beer on the table until Malfoy slowly pushed it towards Harry, otherwise still not acknowledging his presence.
Harry couldn't have prevented the laugh that burst from his mouth at the gesture. He noticed one of Malfoy's eyebrows rise and he peered at Harry over the top of his book. Harry simply grinned openly at him.
"Thanks," said Harry, after taking a large gulp of his drink.
Malfoy nodded as he closed his book and looked at Harry.
"You knew I'd be back, then?" Harry asked, still grinning.
"You're a creature of habit, Potter. You arrived at the same time as you did last week. And I figured if you didn't show up, I'd have an extra drink." Malfoy looked rather pleased with himself.
"I'm a creature of habit? You know you've been here every Saturday as well, don't you?"
"I've spent every Saturday here for almost 7 months. A few visits from you, Potter, will not alter the habits of this creature."
"Hmm, well this creature may have acquired a new habit." Harry attempted to be cryptic in his intention to continue coming to this particular pub on Saturday afternoons.
"What are you on about, Potter? I think the words 'creature' and 'habit' may have lost all meaning to me." Malfoy shook his head as he drank his beer.
Harry may have been a little too cryptic, so he decided to change the subject instead.
"Why have you been coming here for 7 months?"
"Because I like it here," Malfoy stated simply.
"And you're always alone?" Harry found it hard to believe Malfoy had no one to spend his Saturdays with.
"You may find it hard to believe," Malfoy took the words right out of Harry's head, "what with constantly being surrounded by friends and groupies, but some of us enjoy time to ourselves."
"Groupies!" Harry was wondering if maybe Malfoy could still be the same bastard he's been at school, when he noticed the man was chuckling.
Malfoy sat back in his chair as he crossed his legs and brought his drink to his lips. He seemed incredibly relaxed and Harry realised he's never really seen Malfoy quite like this.
"And anyway," Harry continued, dropping his outrage at the 'groupies' comment, "I enjoy time to myself. Have I been with anyone here in the past 3 weeks?"
"Yes," Malfoy smirked, "me."
"You don't count." Harry waved a hand in Malfoy's general direction, not fully comprehending just how at ease he already was around the man.
"Charming." Malfoy was still smirking.
"In fact I've been spending my Saturdays after football alone in a different pub for a couple of months now. I can totally appreciate alone time." Harry felt oddly smug.
"If you've been spending time in a different pub each week, why have been in this one for the past 3 weeks running?"
Harry's smugness evaporated.
"Erm, it's nice here," Harry said quickly. "Like you said: I like it."
Malfoy looked at him quizzically, but dropped the subject.
They spent some time indulging in a comfortable silence, each embroiled in the solitude they had both claimed to enjoy. Malfoy returned to his book while Harry flipped through his newspaper, occasionally casting a glance at the blond. He'd brought the paper with him in case Malfoy had not been at the pub, but even sitting quietly here with him now, Harry wasn't actually reading the news. He was thinking about why he'd come back to this pub. Last week's return visit could be put down to simple curiosity as to whether Malfoy would be there again and the excuse of finding out how Malfoy had been spending his life since the end of the war. This week, though, he had come here hoping to see Malfoy again for different reasons. He wanted to talk to the prat, to have him make fun of Harry and to generally enjoy his company. It was strange to admit he rather liked the blond bastard.
"What are you smiling about, Potter?" Malfoy asked with a raised eyebrow.
Harry suddenly realised he'd been caught looking at Malfoy. His smiled faltered only for a second.
"Just, er, marvelling at the fact that we, of all people, are sat here in a pub, quietly sharing a friendly drink together."
"And unless I'm very much mistaken, we will no doubt be repeating the experience next week," drawled Malfoy with a smirk, as he returned his eyes to his book.
Harry swallowed heavily and didn't say anything. Instead he picked up both of their glasses and headed to the bar to get the next round.
Draco actually arrived at the pub early the next week. He told himself it was because he was generally running ahead of schedule, but considering he didn't really have a schedule on Saturday, that was complete bollocks. He was just keen to see Potter. And, as much as Draco was shocked to believe it, Potter seemed rather keen on seeing Draco, too.
Walking into the pub, Draco was going to head straight to the back and snag their usual table. Oh God, Draco thought, did he and Potter really have a usual table? Before he'd taken more than a couple of steps, however, he spotted a familiar hulk propping up the bar with a number of shot glasses strewn in front of him.
"Potter!" Draco cried as he changed direction and headed for the bar.
"Malfoy!" Potter practically yelled his greeting to the whole pub as he stumbled off his stool and tried to embrace Draco.
"Get off me, Potter." Draco shoved the man back onto his stool and sat beside him. "What the hell are you doing here so early? Shouldn't you be off footing balls? What have you been drinking? And why the hell did you decide midday was a good time to get drunk? In my pub, no less!"
"Too many questions." Potter was shaking his head and motioning the bartender for another drink. "One at a time, please."
"What happened to you?" Draco swiftly removed the new shot of vodka from Potter's hand and downed it himself. He figured he was going to need it.
"Oi!" Potter complained without much malice and then sighed. "I had a fight with Ron."
"So?" Draco didn't see how an argument with Weasley would leave Potter with the need to get this drunk. "What is he, your boyfriend?"
Suddenly the man sitting next to him collapsed onto the bar in a fit of drunken giggles.
"No," Potter managed to gasp out. "But you're pretty close," he added quietly.
"Do you want him to be your boyfriend!" If that was the case then Draco could completely understand the excessive amount of vodka Potter was consuming.
"No no no," exclaimed Potter, followed by more giggles.
"Then colour me confused." Draco briefly pondered the possibility that Potter was the sober one and Draco was completely pissed.
"It doesn't matter, Malfoy," Potter sighed.
Draco frowned. "I was only trying to help, Potter."
A small, but happy smile appeared on Potter's face as he looked up at Draco.
"Thank you," he said earnestly
Draco suddenly felt a little uncomfortable and avoided talking to Potter by ordering himself a pint of lager and sipping on it quietly.
Potter seemed oblivious to the awkward silence as he upturned his empty shot glasses and started piling them atop one another in a triangular shape. Draco watched quietly and noticed that as the display got taller, Potter's hands shook more until one of the glasses fell, tumbling to the floor and rolling under Draco's stool.
Quickly, Draco hopped off his stool and bent to retrieve the shot glass.
"Woah, nice ass, Malfoy!" Potter seemed to be enjoying the view.
"Ass?" Draco stood and whirled round to face the drunkard. "I'm not a donkey, Potter. I think you'll find it's my arse you were admiring."
Potter blushed, turned back towards the bar and promptly elbowed his precarious pile of glasses. They all went crashing across the bar as Potter flailed his arms in a vain attempt to stop them.
"Sorry," he cried to the barman who had rushed over to sort out the mess.
"Geez, Potter, I think we should probably get you home." Malfoy had no idea where Potter's home was, but it was where he needed to be.
Instead of protesting Potter stood up on shaky legs and looked at Draco, embarrassed.
Draco grasped Potter's upper arm and slowly lead him out of the pub, mindful of the fact that Potter could lose his balance and pull them both over at any moment.
Once they were stood in the alley beside the pub Draco took a quick glance around, squeezed the arm he was holding a little tighter, and apparated them both to Malfoy Manor.
Potter looked a little queasy as he dropped himself into the nearest chair.
Dashing through the house, Draco hoped Potter remained conscious long enough to tell him where the hell he lived.
He quickly returned to Potter who had stood and was currently reaching above his head and trying to grasp at the chandelier.
"Potter, stop it. Take this." He thrust a small vial into Potter's hand.
Potter smiled again, but otherwise remained quiet and unmoving.
Unsure what else to do, Draco managed to get Potter to tell him his address, directed him to the fireplace and shoved him in the Floo.
Harry was running late. He hadn't even bothered to change after today's match. Shit, he hadn't even bothered to shower after today's match. Probably a huge mistake considering the person he was rushing to meet was Draco image-is-everything Malfoy.
After last week's drunken spectacle Harry was unsure if Malfoy would even show up this week, but was hoping that Malfoy would at least want to take the piss out of Harry for being a ridiculously drunken fool.
He didn't bother composing himself, opting for simply barging through the door to the pub and looking around. After getting himself a lager he spotted Malfoy at their regular table and headed over to him as Malfoy eyed him up with a smirk.
"Nice stockings, Potter," was Malfoy's chosen opener.
Harry looked down at his legs clad in long football socks; sky blue with claret trim.
"They're socks, Malfoy."
"Whatever, they show your legs off nicely either way."
Choking on the sip he had just taken, Harry fell into his chair and gaped at Malfoy.
"I've got nice legs?"
Malfoy shrugged. "You do when they're holding you up properly."
Understanding the rather unsubtle reference to last week, Harry blushed.
"I'm rather embarrassed about what happened last week." Harry took a large gulp of his beer before he continued. "I'm really sorry I was so drunk. I'm sorry about any stupid things I said. And thank you for sending me home. And especially thank you for the hangover potion."
Malfoy had not taken his eyes off of Harry as he'd spoken, while Harry had barely taken his eyes off of the table between them. When Harry finally looked up, Malfoy was smiling.
"Don't apologise for being drunk, being drunk is great. You say stupid things all the time, so that was nothing new. I think we may have been barred from my favourite pub if I hadn't taken you home when I did, so that was completely motivated by self-interest."
Finally Malfoy paused for air and a drink of his own lager.
"And the hangover potion?" Harry queried.
Malfoy tilted his head to the left in thought before answering.
"You obviously don't get that drunk very often, so I assumed you didn't have your own supply at home." Malfoy's cheeks were becoming slightly pink. "I suppose your hapless state brought out the mollycoddler in me." Blush or no, Malfoy still rolled his eyes.
Harry laughed. "Well, thank you. I'm still rather embarrassed about it all."
"If you're embarrassed about last week," said Malfoy as he raised an eyebrow, "then why did you decide to embarrass yourself further by showing up in that outfit?"
Now it was Harry's turn to blush.
"The game ran late, but I really wanted to get here and see you." Harry rubbed at the back of his head. "You know, to apologise! Anyway, can I buy you an early dinner to show my gratitude?"
Malfoy chuckled, but otherwise ignored Harry's fresh embarrassment.
"Hmm, I've never eaten the food here. I guess we can give it a go." Malfoy sounded wary.
"You've been coming here every week for months and you've never eaten here?" Harry had always found pub food delicious.
Malfoy shrugged. "Show me what I'm missing, Potter."
Harry laughed but headed to the bar to order them some food and another round of drinks.
"And what exactly is this?" Draco asked when their balti pie and chips arrived at the table.
"It's food, Malfoy. Delicious food. Eat it."
Harry couldn't help but grin as Draco plunged his knife into the pie, cut himself a large portion and rammed it into his mouth.
"When in doubt, you've just got to go for it," Draco managed to say around his mouthful.
"How very Gryffindor of you," commented Harry.
Draco started choking on the pastry still in his mouth and Harry sniggered.
"Only when it comes to my food," Draco clarified when he'd taken a sip of his beer.
"It's still nice to know you've got a bit of Gryffindor in you," Harry said with a wink.
Having only just started on his next mouthful, Draco began choking again.
Harry finally shut up enough to let Draco eat safely and by the time they'd finished their food Draco was laughing merrily as he started to tease Harry about the previous week.
"I swear, the whole pub saw you try to hug me, Potter!"
Harry cringed. He remembered that and did not want to repeat it, at least not the room full of people part. Hugging Draco he could stand to do a little more of. He smiled at that thought and looked up at the blond, who was also looking at him.
"You never did tell me what you fought with Weasley about," Draco said. "It must have been something important to drive you to my pub to get pissed."
"You talk like you own this place." Harry tried to avoid answering the question.
"I do own this place, but that's not the point. What'd you argue about?"
Draco felt warmly satisfied at the shocked look on Harry's face, but continued to push the issue. Harry had purposely come looking for Draco in this pub after his fight with Weasley and Draco wanted to know why.
Harry sighed. "We fought about you," he finally said.
"Me?" Draco sat up a little straighter, frowning.
Harry took a long drain on his drink. The cold lager felt wonderful as it passed down his warm throat.
"I mentioned to him that'd I'd seen you a few times; that we'd had a few drinks and a chat."
"And he didn't like that fact." It wasn't a question.
Draco wasn't surprised; Weasleys and Malfoys are taught to despise each other from birth. Draco's fall from grace during the war may have knocked some sense into him, or more accurately, knocked some prejudice out of him, but Weasley had had no opportunity for such an epiphany.
"Understatement," Harry said as he shook his head.
There was silence for a few minutes as Harry silently hoped Draco wouldn't remember the tiny slip up Harry had made while under the influence.
"When I jokingly asked if Weasley was your boyfriend, you said no," Draco said slowly. "But you said I was 'pretty close'"
Considering Draco was quoting Harry accurately, it was safe to assume he remembered the slip up quite clearly. Harry could feel the blush rising in his face.
"What did you mean by that, Potter?"
"Ron was angry with me because he was worried I was getting too friendly with you; that you were going to take his place as my best friend or something stupid," Harry tried to explain.
"Yeah, us friends? Completely stupid," Draco said, obviously hurt.
"That's not what I meant! Dammit." Harry brought his hands down hard on the table. This wasn't coming out right.
"Then what did you mean?" Draco looked Harry straight in the eye.
"I mean I don't want you to be my friend, Malfoy," Harry said as he reached across the table and placed his hand on top of Draco's. "I want you to be my boyfriend."
Draco closed his eyes, smiled and placed his other hand on top of Harry's.
"I can't believe you're pouring your heart out to me in that outfit."