A/N: This was my very first attempt at writing slash, so please put on your slash goggles before reading. They will absolutely be necessary! Original prompt is at the end. For Someone aka Me in the HPFC Fic Exchange :)
It was seemingly by some coincidence that they met that night at the pub, and it seemed ironic, given their families' histories, that they'd hit it off so well. They weren't particularly close in age, nor were they similar in wealth or in their social circles. But both knew what it felt to be isolated – independent and on their own without being able to rely on many others – and perhaps that was what made them such a great pair.
The blond recognized the head of red hair before he'd sat down, and perhaps he would have avoided the adjacent seat had there been any other openings at the bar. But there hadn't been. There was one seat, directly beside the older man, and so the younger man – seven years his junior – had no other option. And he was just so tired. He couldn't just leave without first having his drink.
Nearly an hour passed as the men sat in silence, only ordering their drinks and downing them one after another. It was more awkward for the younger man, perhaps, having to pretend that that the man beside him was not a nuisance to his mind. They'd never formally met – and that rationale was seemingly lost on the blond – but it didn't matter. The redheaded man was a Weasley, from his scarlet head of hair to his asymmetric dusting of freckles, all the way to his worn-in, seemingly secondhand pair of dragonhide boots, and that bothered the blond immensely, irrationally.
Other patrons of the pub seemed to have realized how late it was getting, but still neither man budged from his seat. It wasn't until the redhead was visited by another of his clan that any commotion was made from their end of the table.
"Charlie?" a female voice sounded. "I thought when you said you were coming to London to visit me that you'd actually be spending time with me."
The redheaded man smiled fondly at his younger sister and opened up his arms to her. "Sorry, Ginbug," he said. "I guess I… lost track of time."
It was then that the girl noticed the blond man sitting beside her brother. "Did you know you were sitting next to a Malfoy?"
He gave a sidelong glance at the blond. "A Malfoy, eh?"
"Draco," she clarified. "But I bet you anything he knows exactly who you are."
The Malfoy heir began to tune out the conversation between the two siblings, vaguely irritated that they were carrying on about his presence as though he weren't sitting merely inches away. He was more upset by the fact that Ginny Weasley had been the only member of their family for whom he'd ever had any respect for. She'd always seemed strong and in control, and realizing beyond a shadow of a doubt that she viewed him as little more than a leper was slightly disheartening.
The girl kissed her older brother on the cheek. "I'll see you back at the Burrow then," she said, giving him one last hug. "We'll spend the day together tomorrow, won't we?"
"All right." She laughed. "Don't drink too much or Mum will hand you your arse in the morning."
The girl left and the two men were silent again. The only sound heard throughout the bar was that of the soft commotion of chatter between the few other patrons and the gentle swishing of drinks being poured into shot glasses and tumblers.
Draco's shoulders tensed. It wasn't fair that he was so easily judged. He'd certainly done plenty to earn the reputation of being a bigot and a bully, but surely there must have been more to him than just those traits. He was still a person, no less one who had been used as a pawn by a Dark Lord and had been raised to view himself as superior to everyone who did not share the Malfoy name, but didn't he deserve to be given a chance at retribution? Didn't he deserve the opportunity to redeem himself and to show that there was another side to him?
More importantly, was there another side to him? Or was he really just the same boy he had been when he was a child – cruel, ruthless, mean, and unapproachable in any real relationship.
"Look, I don't know you, but my sister was a little bit rude, so I'm sorry if her comments made you feel badly."
The blond nearly jumped with surprise. Everything had been so quiet and he hadn't expected anyone to talk to him. "It's fine. It's not like I was ever friends with Weaselette, anyway."
"That's not the point."
Draco glanced sidelong at Charlie, eyeing him skeptically. He'd never known when to trust people – let alone people he didn't know – and so this older man treating him with such respect made him wonder whether or not his comments were honest. Ironic, wasn't it? Here he was, wanting to be treated like a human being in any way, starting fresh, and when the opportunity came along for a brand new day, Draco was unsure of how to handle it. "It's all right," he said.
He put his hand out, offering it to Draco. "Charlie Weasley," he said. "I'm the second oldest Weasley, dragon tamer, former Gryffindor seeker."
Gingerly, Draco accepted the handshake. "Dragons?"
"I love dragons," Charlie answered eagerly, his eyes lighting up with an opportunity to discuss them without boring the recipient of his chatter to tears. "I moved to Romania after I finished school and never looked back."
That statement almost filled Draco with jealousy. He'd so desperately wanted to get out of London, go to where he would be unknown to all others, where he could start over and be a new person, and Charlie Weasley had done exactly that. Why had Draco remained in England, to be spat upon by people who did not believe that he deserved to go without a life sentence in Azkaban when he could have gone anywhere and been happy?
"So, tell me about yourself, Draco?" Charlie asked after a moment of silence.
"Not much to tell, really," the blond responded bitterly. "I'm not really that interesting."
"Sure you are. You're named after dragons, and dragons are interesting. There must be something about you worth knowing."
"Well there isn't," Draco sneered, frustrated at Charlie's persistence. "There's nothing interesting about a Hogwarts dropout who endangered your entire family and all of bloody London by aligning with a bloody psychopath who wanted to destroy everything we've all become accustomed to. There's nothing interesting about me, so just shove off, all right?"
Deafening silence sat between them for several minutes. Draco wasn't sure what he was doing or why he was talking, and especially why he was confessing things that he'd never admitted out loud before. He didn't even know Charlie Weasley. It must have been the alcohol, he decided. That was the only explanation for his loose tongue.
"Sounds pretty interesting to me, Draco," Charlie said quietly.
On the tip of his tongue, Draco had a retort about how just about anything would seem interesting to a boring old Weasley. But then he remembered. He was the dragon tamer, the one who'd made his own life and his own choices and his own destiny by going with his heart and his instinct and not letting anyone else tell him what to do. If anyone would know what it meant for something to be interesting, it would be this man who had seen things that Draco could only dream of and experienced life without another's influence. "You don't know anything about me," he responded sullenly, without retort or anything even worth saying. His wit had been outmatched by a Weasley with a kind heart and a kindred spirit.
"I know plenty about you, and don't kid yourself otherwise. My brothers and sister talked about you constantly in their letters to me. You're infamous, kid."
Draco snorted inelegantly. "So you know all about me, how horrible I was to your family. Why are you still talking to me then?"
"Because I think that maybe you need a friend."
"I had friends, and I hurt them. Every last sodding one of them."
"You were just a kid, and that part of your life is over." The older man placed a hand on Draco's back comfortingly. "You don't have to be some spoiled rotten rich kid anymore. You can be who you should have been all along – a dragon, free and volatile and unique."
"How do you know that's what I want?"
"Because looking at you is like looking into a mirror."
Draco, if he was being honest with himself, wasn't exactly sure what Charlie had meant by that initially. He didn't really see what he had in common with a Weasley. They weren't particularly close in age, nor were they similar in wealth or in their social circles. But both knew what it felt to be isolated – independent and on their own without being able to rely on many others – and perhaps that was what made them such a great pair. They were a dragon and a tamer, both needing each other to be complete.
Pairing: Charlie Weasley/Draco Malfoy
Must-haves: banter/Snarky!Draco, Charlie seeing past Draco's past.
No-No's: anything that warrants an M rating, crack!fic/parody, Ron's immediate approval.
Bonus points: Canon EWE, dragons, any reference to the Dragon Tamer/Dragon connection.