Disclaimer:All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warnings: Slash, and I think 1 swear word.
A/N: This was written for the lj smoochfest. Now that the reveals are up I decided to post it here for the readers that aren't on livejournal.
A Coffee Date
"Uhg! Disgusting," Harry said as he pushed the little plate away. He looked around for a napkin or something, but found none. A quick glance to ensure no one was looking, and Harry grabbed his old house scarf and wiped his mouth.
He didn't know why he kept coming back to this café, as the coffee was terrible, the wait staff bored and indifferent to the customers' needs and wants, and the chairs were uncomfortable. Today, he had been feeling adventurous and ordered a lemon tart. He should have been wary when he needed considerable force to cut it, leaving a slightly cracked plate underneath, but he had persevered and eaten some of the dessert, only to find his mouth full of rock-hard crust and a lumpy goo.
Harry turned and signalled for the waitress. The girl merely looked at him before ambling over and refilling his coffee cup with brown water. Harry sighed as she walked away, but quickly pushed away any irritation as he looked out the window, indulging in his favourite daily activity. Draco Malfoy watching.
There were other restaurants that he could kip out at, or the ice cream parlour that had reopened last week. Either would have been less hazardous to his health, but to Harry, something about sitting in the dingy coffee shop and watching as Draco Malfoy completed his community service hours was strangely satisfying, like an itch finally being scratched. It had turned into the only thing Harry committed to nowadays.
Ron and Hermione had tried to persuade Harry out of his daily routine, but he wouldn't allow it. He couldn't explain it to himself, this need he felt to see Malfoy every day, so he didn't try explaining it to them. He always said the same thing. "My gut is telling me to, and it has yet to lead me wrong."
Harry had learned through trial and error to trust his instincts, and that's what he was doing now. Trusting this feeling that the best thing he could do with his time was to watch Draco Malfoy. At first, it was because he didn't trust Malfoy to be back in society. Over time, that feeling had shifted. Harry still wasn't sure what it had changed to, but the need to be near Malfoy was strong.
These days, Ron was throwing himself head first into Auror training, while Hermione was helping lead the political campaign to put Kingsley Shacklebolt into office. He was only interim Minister for now, but Hermione was determined that he maintain the top spot in the next election. She believed Shacklebolt could help guide the wizarding community to a brighter future, one that accepted all walks of life- whether blood difference or creature.
Meanwhile, Harry sat in an uncomfortable seat and drank bad coffee while he watched Draco Malfoy muttering darkly to himself as he performed his mandated community service. Not long after the war was over, Harry had funded and organized a program to benefit the war orphans and provide them with food and shelter. The project would care for them until a suitable family was found to take them in. But, once Kingsley had put in his nomination form, Hermione had asked for Harry's permission to take the project into her own hands. She had asked him to encourage Shacklebolt to volunteer there as well, in an effort to bolster his political image, and Harry had been impressed with how well the children responded to the interim Minister. Harry had been content to hand the reins over to Hermione and Kingsley. Especially as he had Iother/I things he wanted to do. Some nights, Harry would stop in and talk to the orphans and play games with them, but those nights were fewer and farther between, as more and more of them were adopted.
Now, Harry's eyes were locked on Malfoy, watching him as he trudged up and down Diagon Alley, picking up litter by hand and throwing it into the Ministry-provided garbage bag.
"This is utterly ridiculous," Malfoy's irritated voice carried over the street. "You do realize that in your pitiful attempt to heap shame and degradation on my head, you are merely encouraging your child to have the most appalling manners? But then, I suppose the apple never falls far from the tree."
Harry watched as the woman Draco was addressing pushed her child behind her and glared at Malfoy.
"Why, I never!" She said. The little boy cowered behind her as Malfoy pointedly kicked the empty box of Bertie's Every Flavour Beans that the boy had thrown at him.
"Yes, I'm sure you've never. And I have never seen such deplorable parenting skills." Malfoy said.
Harry chuckled. He had seen worse parenting, but he wasn't about to go out there and join the conversation and defend Malfoy. It wasn't unusual for the witches and wizards around to make Malfoy's job more difficult by blatantly throwing trash on the ground in the area Malfoy had just cleaned, their eyes narrowed and faces twisted with spite, almost daring him to draw his wand. Harry liked to run a mental commentary on what Malfoy might be thinking when he muttered beneath his breath and glared at them. His amusement was always short-lived, though, because someone else would throw trash down, and the action would make Harry's stomach twist in a weird way.
Just like with the mother and her child, Harry sometimes felt like it was his duty to go out there and tell the public to stop, but no, he was out of the people-saving business these days. Been there, done that. He'd watch, but he wouldn't intervene, unless it became necessary. It hadn't yet.
Usually, when the day came to an end, an Auror would come around and relieve Malfoy of his duties. Just like the day before, and the one before that, Malfoy would scowl as he shoved the bag at the Auror and stalk away with a stiff back and proud gait. It seemed nothing – not even demeaning work like picking up trash – could rip a Malfoy's pride away when in public.
Harry sighed and tapped his coffee cup with his wand, heating the cold liquid up again. He had just replaced his wand into its holster when the chair next to him was silently pulled out from beside him. Malfoy, as cold and composed as always, sat down and greeted him.
"Potter," Malfoy said, making Harry's name sound like the foulest of curses. His eyes raked over him and lingered on his barely soiled scarf with a look of distaste.
Harry smiled faintly. His stomach did a small flip in anticipation as he calmly turned towards the other man.
"I could feel your eyes burning into me all day, Potter. Did I do anything evil today? Curse some poor passerby, steal from Gringotts, kidnap some hapless babe?" Malfoy's voice still dripped with contempt, but Harry fancied it was more of a dark slow molasses than the biting acid that others would equate it to. Over the weeks they had been meeting here, in this dingy café, away from prying eyes, Harry could feel the stress and tension leave his shoulders a little more each time Draco appeared, unscathed, his dignity intact.
"Not that I saw, no. But, I did see you try to trip Auror Crawford." The man in question had been his Auror guard, walking by for a routine check. Every day, Malfoy tried a new tactic to exact a small amount of revenge on the poor man for his part in Draco's predicament. Once, Malfoy had turned abruptly and let the full garbage bag hit the Auror in the stomach. Another time, he had fumbled a melted bowl of ice cream just as the man was walking by, 'accidentally' staining the Auror's robes.
Malfoy chuckled. "He deserved it."
"So, have you found anything interesting today?" Harry asked, as he always did, and, as usual, Malfoy produced some 'treasure' he'd found amongst the trash. Today, it was an ornately fashioned letter opener. He placed it gingerly on the table between them.
"Just this odd little dagger. Not very sharp. Utterly useless, I suppose, but quite nice to look at."
"It's a letter opener," Harry said, fighting a smile.
"You use it to open envelopes – slide the point underneath the flap and…" Harry trailed off as Malfoy continued to look at him, brows drawn down into a puzzled frown.
Harry shrugged. "It's a Muggle thing. They don't scroll parchment like we do, or use wax seals. They put their letters in an envelope and seal them with glue, then use something like that to open them back up."
"Fascinating," Malfoy said dryly, as he pushed the letter opener toward Harry. "Consider it a gift, then. I doubt I shall ever have need of it."
"Thank you," Harry said, and drew a finger over the intricate carving on the handle. He looked up and saw Malfoy staring at his hands, a slight flush on his pale cheeks.
Malfoy cleared his throat. "And how is the coffee today?" He asked.
Harry wordlessly pushed his now warm cup over to the other man and watched as Malfoy carried it to his lips to take a small sip. Harry, for some reason, had become fascinated with the sight. Malfoy would always take a tiny sip, scrunch his nose up in distaste, and then put the cup down while licking his top lip to make sure nothing lingered.
"Horrible. Absolutely horrible. Why would you even drink that, Potter?" Malfoy pushed the cup away.
Harry chuckled. He could never stop himself. "Well. It was bad yesterday and the day before… did you really think it would be different today?" he teased. Teasing had always been a familiar action between them. The absence of malice in their teasing, though, that was new. Harry quite liked it.
Malfoy shook his head. "I guess it is too much to ask that one day you will gain a modicum of wisdom and stop tormenting yourself? Perhaps order a tea instead, or water? They can hardly fuck up the water, can they?"
Harry smiled a bit dejectedly as their oft-repeated conversation started coming to an end. He didn't know why he always felt sad at this point, but he usually hoped for something, anything, to prolong their interaction.
"Maybe I'll order tea next time." Harry said. At this point, Malfoy would usually scoff and then get up to leave. It was always the same. Harry would say he would order tea, but tomorrow, when Malfoy came back, there would be a cup of the same bad coffee, waiting. Sometimes, Harry thought Malfoy only humoured him every day because he was lonely. Or perhaps because he thought Harry was lonely. And wasn't that a kicker? Draco Malfoy, taking pity on Harry Potter. No matter that most of Malfoy's former mates had been Death Eaters and either killed in battle or sent to Azkaban. Rumor was, the only reason Malfoy had gotten off with community service was because his parents had made hefty 'donations' to the right causes to keep him out of jail.
Today, though, Malfoy surprised Harry by staying in his seat and clearing his throat again, his fingers beating a nervous tattoo on the table edge. "You know, Potter, you don't have to keep coming here every day. I'm not going to ruin this second chance I've been granted."
Harry stared at Malfoy in bemusement before a humourless smile crossed his lips. "Can you really blame me?" he asked.
"No. No, I can't. You have more reason than most to not – to not trust me, but - we aren't kids anymore," Malfoy stated. He picked up the coffee cup and swirled the contents around. Harry watched his hand swaying back and forth, not really knowing where this conversation was going.
Harry scoffed at the remark. "I don't think I ever really was a kid," he mumbled.
Malfoy glanced at him before returning his attention to the cup. "I don't know your past, Potter, but we were both childish and immature, and I – well. I regret it." He raised his eyes to meet Harry's then, and Harry could read the sincerity in them. Malfoy swallowed once, hard, and continued "So, I suggest we both grow up and move on. Perhaps we could start by you trusting me to fulfil my community service, which I promise you I shall do."
Something dropped in Harry's stomach at the words. "Do I really bother you that much?"
"While I do enjoy the attention you lavish on me daily, I'm not the only one who has noticed your constant – vigilance. Rumours are spreading, and it's making it rather difficult to appear like a duly reformed Death Eater when the Saviour himself doesn't trust me." Malfoy finally stopped playing with the cup and put it down.
"Do you want me to stop coming here?" Harry asked.
Malfoy sighed and stared out the window. "It's not a matter of what I want or don't want, Potter. It's a matter of public opinion. You stop watching me like a vulture, and perhaps, just perhaps, they will start to trust me a little."
Harry mulled over the words. Should he stop? Did he trust Malfoy? "So, sharing a coffee doesn't show them I trust you?" Harry asked.
"It could be part of a greater scheme. I get into the habit of tasting your coffee and one day you poison it when my guard is down, " Malfoy pointed out, eyebrow quirking.
Harry laughed. Quite loudly, too. "I don't think I'm that sneaky," he admitted.
"No you're not, Potter. You seem more like the type to rush me with that letter opener, in some great emotional fit. Straight and to the point," Malfoy said lightly, with a small smirk. "Just goes to show your Muggle upbringing, really."
Harry snorted. "I think I could come up with a better method of murder than using a letter opener. Something more majestic. You know, befitting of the Saviour." His voice was sour at the mention of his title, but it didn't deter Malfoy.
"Ah yes, the Savior who triumphed over Evil with a disarming spell. Very grandiose and majestic." Malfoy said, his tone mocking.
Harry allowed himself to enjoy the moment before he sighed. He didn't want to stop seeing Malfoy, but - "You're right, I suppose. I won't come here again." Harry promised.
Malfoy's shoulders dropped for a second, but he recovered and stood quickly. "Good. Hopefully, I won't see you around, Potter, and for Merlin's sake, wash your scarf. No respectable wizard would walk around with crumbs all over him." With that final word, Malfoy left, without looking back. Harry slipped the letter opener into his pocket and left a tip on the table, as he always did. He glanced around at the dingy café and sighed. He'd miss it, strangely enough.
The next day, Harry arrived at the alley before Malfoy's scheduled shift. Instead of going towards their usual café, he detoured and stopped in at the small restaurant next door. He had said he wouldn't return there again, and he wasn't. Technically.
Harry entered the establishment just as it was opening and asked to speak to the owner, a wizard by the name of Mackenzie, Mac to the clientele. The man was ecstatic that the Saviour was in his restaurant. After a full 20 minutes of listening to him sing his praises, Harry finally cut in and asked for a favour. He wanted to reserve a table for the entire day, all week. The owner was quick to agree, and Harry picked out one near the window, slightly hidden from the street view.
He ordered breakfast and coffee, and Mac raced off to comply, all aflutter. The coffee arrived first, and after weeks of bitter brown liquid in a chipped cup, Harry was pleasantly surprised by the rich, smooth quality of the coffee that met his tongue. He took a long draught and hummed to himself, enjoying the flavour.
Harry was on his second cup when Malfoy arrived, stepped towards the Auror, grabbed his bag and started picking up the garbage around him. Once the Auror left, Malfoy stopped bending over and grabbing trash. He looked around, his eyes scanning the café first before sweeping over the other shops. Harry sank back a little more, hoping the shadows would help cover his presence, and it seemed to work when Malfoy squared his shoulders and went back to work.
Either Harry hadn't thought through his plan well enough, or Malfoy was more observant than Harry had given him credit for, because by the end of the morning, Malfoy had found him. When lunch rolled around, during which time Malfoy was given 30 minutes to eat, he stalked into the restaurant and towered over Harry with a glare.
"Potter," he hissed. "What are you doing?"
Harry had the decency to look sheepish. "Eating lunch?"
"You said you wouldn't do this anymore!" Malfoy stated fiercely.
Harry wasn't able to respond because the owner was by their side in a moment to enquire if everything was satisfactory. Harry didn't want to start a scene and, considering Malfoy was so concerned about his reputation, Harry took a chance. "I'm sorry for the disturbance, Mac. Mal- Draco is simply here to join me for lunch."
Harry mentally cheered when he saw Malfoy go rigid at the sound of his first name. The flush on Malfoy's cheeks, the slight heaving of his chest and his eyes boring into Harry's made Harry wish he had called him Draco before. Often, in fact, if he was going to get that kind of reaction. Harry tore his gaze away from his flustered companion and smiled at Mac.
"Would you mind terribly sending someone over with a couple of menus?" Harry asked politely. The man bustled off and left them alone. Harry wanted to use this chance to see if he could ruffle Draco's feathers a bit more. "You should have a seat, Malfoy. You only get 30 minutes to eat, and it would be a shame if you went hungry."
"You're a menace, Potter," Malfoy said, as he sat. "Why the ministry needs to keep constant watch over my actions when you're still prowling the streets and stalking law-abiding citizens is beyond me. But then again, if you were to be committed for your obvious mental defects, I suppose it would reflect badly on Shacklebolt, and he's already struggling hard enough for the Minister's seat, despite Granger's dedication to his campaign, isn't he?"
Harry could feel his temper rising. "There is nothing wrong with my mental state! And, for your information, the only reason Kingsley is having a tough time is because he let a bunch of Death eaters like you go free with only community service. If he had thrown you lot in Azkaban like everyone was demanding, then he wouldn't be having this problem." Harry bit out, his good humour of a moment ago gone now.
Malfoy raised an eyebrow and smirked. "Touchy, touchy, Potter. Or shall I call you Harry, since we seem to be on a first-name basis now? Please do not doubt that I appreciate the man's actions, because I freely admit to looking horrible in Azkaban grey. You should calm down, though. It really wouldn't do for the Saviour to throw a fit in a public area. Your adoring public might suspect you're going dark." Malfoy tsked.
Harry silently fumed. How had he ever thought that having lunch with Malfoy would be a good idea? It was a terrible idea. The bastard lived to rile him up and Harry had played right into his hands.
"I do fear my light sentence is one of the reasons your friend Shacklebolt is having such trouble securing office, but there is nothing we can do about it now. He will simply need to use all that collective brain power he has hovering about him to find something to turn this election around," Malfoy drawled. He looked up as their menus arrived and flicked his open. "It shouldn't be too hard, really, considering the only other person in serious contention is a woman who spent the last 30 years in the department of Family Affairs. There are only so many votes you can gather by knowing who married whose second cousin, no matter what Eleanor Scribe may think."
Reluctantly, a small smile appeared on Harry's face. On the other hand, Malfoy could be quite charming when he set himself to the task. Perhaps lunch hadn't been such a terrible idea, after all. "Isn't there another wizard running, as well?" He wanted to keep the conversation in relatively safe, friendly territory.
Malfoy clicked his tongue and shook his head. "Oh, you mean Huffington? Well, since his biggest promise for office is to run it, and I quote '-in the same safe and responsible manner that Fudge did', that has hardly inspired confidence in his leadership. Frankly, he would have been a shoo-in before that poorly chosen and much publicised comment."
Harry stared. "He really said that? Well, I'm glad he won't get elected, then. One idiot like Fudge is enough. If the competition is so terrible, then why is Kingsley having such a hard time?"
Malfoy gave him a look that made him feel like the biggest idiot on earth. "Because, Potter, he let former Death Eaters like myself back on the streets."
Harry frowned. "So if no one votes for Kingsley or Huffington, then the Scribe woman will win by default?"
Malfoy heaved a great sigh and pushed his menu away. "You know nothing about politics, do you? If the public doesn't feel confident in any of the candidates running, then the Wizengamot meets and they elect the new Minister from among the department heads."
Harry stared at Malfoy. "I had no idea you knew so much about politics. Or that we could hold a civil conversation for this long," he added. His head was starting to hurt from all the political talk and now seemed the best time to redirect the conversation.
"I reckon since you're buying me lunch, I can repay you by educating you on commonly-known wizarding matters," Malfoy responded without missing a beat.
Harry felt a spark of irritation again and to prevent himself from arguing, he grudgingly picked up his menu and scanned the lunch side. "And why am I buying you lunch?" he asked.
The deep chuckle that floated back to him had Harry dropping his menu and staring in wonderment. The sound was deep and rich and Harry hadn't known that such a pleasing sound could come from Draco Malfoy.
"Because, Potter, if you insist on stalking me, the least you can do is buy me lunch every day," Malfoy said.
"Yes. Until you learn to trust me, or run out of money, and I hesitate to guess which will happen first, then you shall buy me lunch every day," Malfoy declared.
A thought nagged at Harry. "But… wouldn't that look like we're dating or, or - something?" After all, Ron picked Hermione up every day to take her to eat, and wasn't this similar? Couples did this sort of thing together, and while Harry didn't have the most knowledge about the intricacies of dating, he wasn't entirely ignorant.
"Of course not, Potter. With our history? No one would dare imply such a thing." Malfoy examined his nails in a bored fashion.
"We weren't that bad," Harry argued. The thought that no one would accept the idea that he could date Malfoy rubbed him the wrong way.
Malfoy's smile was slow in coming and sinful as the devil. "Oh I don't know…there were some very heated arguments and, I believe, one or two close physical altercations."
Harry's mind went blank. Something about the way Malfoy said "close" implied something else. Something more… intimate. The thought of being more intimate with Malfoy sent a rush of heat to his cheeks and another, more southern, body part.
Malfoy chuckled and interrupted his musing. "Don't strain yourself, Potter. Let's drop the subject and order, shall we?"
Harry shot Draco a glare and signalled a waiter over, wanting to distract himself from his current thoughts. He ordered a nice pasta dish, while Malfoy opted for a light soup and sandwich. They waited in silence, Harry fiddling with the tablecloth and Malfoy smirking at him, neither attempting to start a conversation.
Their food arrived quickly, and Harry didn't waste time digging in, but he ate slowly, observing Malfoy as he lightly sniffed the food, and tilted his head in contemplation. Draco picked up his spoon first, tasted the broth and then set it down. Next, he studied his sandwich before taking a small bite and chewing it. Malfoy made a small noise of appreciation, and then fully immersed himself into eating.
Once the meal came to a close, Malfoy delicately wiped his mouth and placed his napkin down. "I feel quite energized now to perform some dastardly dark deeds this afternoon," he drawled.
Harry choked on his water and coughed. "What?"
Malfoy made a sound of reproach at the action. "I was kidding, Potter. I'll pick up more trash, wallow in my own self-misery, and when the day finally ends I shall come back here, steal your coffee and have you buy me dinner."
"Dinner? But I'm paying for lunch." Harry protested. Oh, this was getting ridiculous.
"I guess I could pay for dinner. It would be the gentlemanly thing to do…" Draco trailed off. "All right, Potter. I'll pay for dinner and you just need to be here looking pretty. A Malfoy should never be caught in unsightly company."
"What? No matter my circumstance I have standards," Malfoy stated simply. "Now, if you will excuse me?" He stood gracefully. "Tonight, 6 o'clock, Potter."
Harry didn't get the chance to respond since Malfoy quickly turned and walked out. It wasn't that he was going to protest; actually, he was feeling rather giddy about the prospect of having dinner with Malfoy. He had just wanted to wish Draco a pleasant day.
The rest of the week continued on in the same vein. Harry would buy their lunch, and Malfoy would meet him back at Mac's bistro to pay for their dinner. Every day, Harry felt happier and happier as he and Malfoy got closer, their talks more intimate, their lingering glances more heated.
It was on the morning of the seventh day that Harry saw Malfoy waiting for him outside. "Draco!" Harry greeted him warmly. "What are you doing here so early?"
Malfoy shuffled his feet slightly, but then stood up straight. "As I assume you know, a gentleman doesn't kiss on the first date. However, as we have been dating for a week now, I feel that I – that we - can—that we can." Draco nodded firmly.
Harry blinked. Then blinked again. "W-we're d-dating?" He stuttered. A great tide of emotion welled up inside of Harry, and the intensity of it stunned him for a moment.
"Of course, Pot-" Malfoy coughed. "Harry. I had hoped that you realized that, but I see that I -."
It started small, but quickly the little grin that appeared on Harry's face transformed into a wide, beaming smile. Well, now he knew what his gut had been telling him. "We're dating." Harry interrupted Draco softly.
"Yes Harry, we are. And now, if you don't mind, I'd like to, er, do what I intended when I came by early this morning." Malfoy stated.
Harry looked him in the eyes and tilted his head slightly, wondering what, exactly, Malfoy was up to. He didn't have to wonder for long, as Draco pulled Harry towards him, placing a soft, almost shy, kiss on Harry's lips. Harry breathed him in, his own hands coming up to frame Draco's face, keeping him in place a little longer to enjoy the sensation.
"I feel that today will be infinitely better than the ones before," Draco whispered against Harry's cheek before he stepped back and away. "Have a good breakfast, Harry. Oh, and I hope you don't mind if I borrow this old rag? It's a bit chilly out today."
Harry didn't have enough time to stop Malfoy before he stole Harry's old Gryffindor scarf from his neck and walked away, a slight swagger to his steps Harry shook his head, and then realized he was standing outside like an idiot, fingers raised to his mouth where Draco's flavour still lingered.
Walking inside the restaurant, Harry called out, "Oi, Mac! Do you have any Irish coffee? Heavy on the Irish, please?"
Harry had a feeling he was going to need it.