Dedicated to CatchingCraziness, who is an amazing reviewer of mine, and who prompted this story by her review on Wild Chance and a Shatter-Glass Laugh. This is a prequel of sorts to that, but they both stand perfectly fine on their own.
Originally for Amber's One Hour, Two Drabbles challenge, though obviously I failed that in a lot of ways. Prompts were Draco and yawn.
For the As Strong As We Are United Comp, where I used the prompt coffee.
He'd conjured a map, closed his eyes, and stabbed his wand into the dark.
He'd wound up in a dingy coffee shop just outside a Dragon Reserve in Romania. Appropriate, he figured, given his name. The coffee was terrible, the lighting was terrible, and nothing was clean. The kind of place he'd never set foot in in a thousand years.
Perfect. Because he was free — free from the glares, free from the stares. Free from the whispers: whispers about him and Potter, of all people. He may have been gay, but his taste was obviously better than that.
But then again, the press and the public were ignorant fools who believed that to do anyone any sort of favour there had to be something scandalous going on — and Potter getting him cleared of all charges was a favour in a big way (damn him for it, too: he knew how Draco felt about favours), and a Death Eater and the Slayer of Voldemort would certainly fall under the category of scandalous.
He scoffed. The lies and rumours people would swallow were absolutely ridiculous. He took a swig of his coffee. The coffee shop girl yawned. The clock on the wall ticked out a lazy beat, and Draco reveled in the feeling of having nowhere to go, nowhere to be. No checklists or timetables in sight.
The door to the shop crashed open with a bang, thunder cracking outside just as it did so, and the barista laughed. "Always have to make an entrance, don't you Charlie?" Her thick Romanian accent bled through and Draco figured the man must be a native-English speaker as well as a regular, since she'd first tried to ask him what he wanted in Romanian.
"And where would be the fun if I didn't, Addy?" The stranger chuckled, a cheerful, deep, rumbling sound. Draco inspected him out of the corner of his eye as the man sat down on a barstool. Average height, muscular build. Hard to see much in the dim lighting, but his hair was a shade of red that looked a little too familiar — but that had to be coincidence.
"How many times have I told you that my name is Adela, Charles Weasley?"
The redhead chuckles at Draco fights to keep his shock from showing. He nearly groans at his luck. "And how many times have I told you you look like an Addy to me?"
"More than I can count," she grumbles, but she's grinning. "The usual, then?"
Charlie nods and Adela turns around and starts preparing a drink. Draco watches the Weasley from the corner of his eye. His demeanor is cheerful but the set of his shoulders screams exhaustion.
"How many?" she asks as she slides the mug across the counter toward him.
Charlie takes a grateful swallow and then murmurs, "Nineteen."
Adela gapes for a moment. "You're kidding, right? Nineteen hours? At your job? Is that even legal?"
"Is if it's voluntary."
"Are you trying to work yourself to death, is that what this is? Why the hell would you volunteer for that?"
Charlie shrugs. "They needed me to stay, all right? Serena's eggs started hatching a bit earlier than they were expecting; her handler wasn't in yet and nobody could get a hold of him. You know how these things go, Addy."
"I also know that you, Charlie Weasley, are a human being, not a machine. Go home and sleep!"
A bitter laugh. "Wouldn't that be nice. Can't, though. Been having the dreams again."
Her voice goes a bit soft, and Draco unintentionally strains to hear it, freezing so as not to make any noise. "Charlie, you can't stay awake forever."
"I know that," he says. "Just… not now." He sighs.
She looks at him deeply, her dark eyes piercing his soul, and then she, too, sighs. "Just be smart about it, yeah? Can't be passing out of sleep exhaustion on your job."
He grins somewhat cheekily back at him. "Come on now, Addy! When am I ever not smart?"
She gives him a look in reply and then suddenly they're both giggling. After a moment, Adela leans forward and murmurs something too low for Draco to hear. A pause, and then Charlie looks up and straight at him. Draco keeps his eyes fixed firmly on the same spot above the bar he's been looking at the whole time, keeping Charlie in his periphery. Charlie smiles. Adela says something else in the same low tone.
Charlie frowns a bit, says something back, and Adela says something else, a bit more sharply, that ends with "…stupid!"
Charlie looks right at her, furrows his eyebrows, and asks a question.
Adela smiles, says something softly.
Charlie shrugs, and then he hops up off the stool he's been sitting on, picks up his mug, and then sits down at Draco's table.
Draco raises in eyebrow in response. Charlie grins. "Charlie," he says, offering a hand.
Draco takes it, manners too ingrained to refuse. "Draco," he says softly. Charlie smiles.
"Appropriate," he murmurs, as if to himself. Draco snickers internally. He watches as Charlie's eyes flicker across his face, watches the slow realisation dawn in them, and waits for Charlie to get up and leave, because Draco knows he's been recognised.
Much to Draco's surprise, Charlie doesn't move an inch, but a small smile does flit across his features. "Adela says I'm lonely," he says, hooking his thumb over his shoulder to point at the woman. "Says if I don't find someone for myself she's going to start plucking random blokes off the street and setting me up for blind encounters. Can you find it in your heart to save me from her well-meaning torture?"
Draco's eyes flicker over the Weasley. He's not blind, and he cannot deny that the man is attractive. And kind, not that kind is typically something Draco particularly looks for — but he has to admit that it feels nice to be recognised and still unflinchingly accepted. A Weasley, though?
Draco reminds himself that he came here to start over, reminds himself that he doesn't want to be who he was anymore, because look where that got him. Reminds himself that saying yes once doesn't say anything about forever. Looks at deep blue eyes and sees a man used to patching wounded things back together, sees a man that doesn't give a damn about where anyone's been, only where he is and where he's going. Sees possibility.
He opens his mouth, fully expecting the words I'm sorry, I can't to come tumbling out. Instead, he hears (and therefore must also have said), "Why not?"
The redhead beams, lists off a couple of street names and a time, and then bounds over to Adela and deposits his mug. "I'm going to go sleep until that time, then," he says cheerfully. "I'll be seeing you!"
And then he's gone, and Draco is left alone in a coffee shop with a grinning shop girl, wondering what the hell just happened.