And now it's time for me to lose all my H/D street cred, such as it was. D:
Warning(s): Established relationship (kind of). Fluff (sort of).
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 4200 words
Summary: Harry and Draco hate Valentine's Day. The feeling is mutual.
Dedication: irrevokable and best_of_five
Note: The Valentine's Day poem is by Nicolas Gordon.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
Harry Potter walked into a bar.
Well, it was actually a pub, but no one had ever told a "Harry Potter walks into a bar" joke before, so Harry had to make do with his own attempts at self-deprecation. The pub did have a bar, though, a nice well-stocked one, brilliant for whiling away a lonely winter evening without much expenditure. Especially since said winter evening promised to become less lonely. Eventually. Maybe.
Harry reached into his pocket and brushed his fingers against the tightly rolled parchment inside -- partly to reassure himself that he really was here for a reason. A stupid reason, but desperate times called for extravagant measures, as the saying went. Plus, he had to admit that receiving the valentine -- for that was what the piece of parchment was: a valentine -- had made his heart jump in a way that he had forgotten since last July.
Besides, it was reassuring that someone was interested. Harry took a seat next to the bar and studied the neat rows of bottles in front of him. After Madam Rosmerta retired, she sold the Three Broomsticks to a gruff Portuguese wizard named Carlos Fonseca, who introduced a whole new world to the pub -- spirits from all around the planet lined the numerous bar shelves. Harry didn't think there was enough time in his life to taste them all, but he was certainly going to try. Particularly if this valentine thing didn't work out.
Fonseca's daughter Lolita worked the floor on most weekdays, and this day was no exception. She sidled up to Harry with her ever-present accessories: an enchanted notepad for order-taking and a cheeky grin. The only things missing, in Harry's opinion, were horns and a tail.
"Oh, look at you!" she chirped. Her eyes cut sharply to the enormous cupid that hung above the pub's entrance, and then back to Harry. "Looking good and feeling gorgeous, are we? Got a date?"
Harry rolled his eyes, grinning in return. "Maybe. I'll have a," -- he leant a bit over the bar to squint at a blue bottle -- "Curaçao Marine, please."
"You don't want to drink that by itself," said Lolita, and shook her head for emphasis. "It's good as part of a cocktail, but not as a shot. Besides, it tastes vile. Trust me."
"Fine, fine," muttered Harry. "What would you suggest, then, since you're such an expert?"
"Apple cider," said Lolita, her grin widening.
"Uh-huh." Lolita's curls bobbed enthusiastically as she nodded.
"But that hasn't got any alcohol in."
"Nonsense. It's all in the recipe, don't you know? Besides, I made it myself."
Harry sighed. "What's the secret ingredient?"
"Rubicon Rum," said Lolita, and poked the enchanted notebook, which seemed to have grown bored with their conversation and began to float away towards a great paper heart suspended from the ceiling.
"All right, then," relented Harry. "I'll have one of those."
"A wise choice," said Lolita. Harry didn't doubt it. She always bullied people into ordering what she wanted them to order; he didn't know why he put up with it. No one knew, really -- they just did it.
"I'll have what he's having," said someone on the left. Harry's heart performed a complicated somersault and he turned around.
"Hi," said Draco.
Harry blinked. Draco didn't disappear.
It was difficult to manage much more than that. The last time he'd seen Draco had been in July, as a matter of fact, and at the time, Draco had been shouting something both insulting and true. There may also have been the sound of shattering glass -- or perhaps it had been something ceramic, like one of those Xing Li vases Draco insisted on stockpiling.
"Never mind," said Draco. "I only thought I'd be polite."
"For once," blurted Harry without thinking.
"Right," said Draco, and turned away demonstratively.
Harry stared at the back of his head. It was a familiar sight: Draco had a tendency to lose eye contact when things weren't going his way. And life had a way of making sure things never went Draco's way. A bit sad, really. Tragic, even.
What were the odds of just randomly running into Draco, tonight of all nights? They'd broken up in July and Harry hadn't seen him since, not once, not even whilst shopping for baby clothes with Hermione in Diagon Alley. The odds, in other words, were slim to none, which could only mean one thing. Harry extracted the valentine from his pocket and gave it a bitter smirk.
I wish you were my Valentine
Though I may not be yours,
And I may, in my ignorance,
Be speaking to closed doors.
I have no inkling of your heart,
No hint what you might say;
But when I think of you, the sun
Will just not go away.
There is in you a loveliness
That makes my darkness shine,
And so I'll wait, if wait I must,
To be your Valentine.
The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade, 14th February, 8 P.M. If you're interested.
Harry had been interested, because the thought that the valentine might've come from Draco hadn't entered his wildest speculation. The only problem was, this didn't sound like Draco at all. Draco would be as likely to send an anonymous valentine as Harry himself. Which was to say, not bloody likely.
"I see you haven't given up the glasses," muttered Harry.
Draco turned his head slightly and peered at him from above an oval lens. "Why would I have? I didn't start wearing them for you."
A year or so ago, Draco had tried on Harry's glasses and was so enchanted with the result that he'd promptly ordered a few dozen pairs in various shapes and sizes, claiming that they made him look sophisticated. There was nothing wrong with Draco's vision, so the lenses were merely reinforced glass. Back then, Harry had cursed the day he'd switched the round, owlish glasses of his adolescence for a more contemporary square shape. Had he still been wearing his old glasses, Draco wouldn't have dreamt of trying them on. With both of them in glasses, unexpected kissing had become twice as awkward. And they'd done a lot of unexpected kissing.
There's a train of thought that needs to be recalled to the nearest depot.
"Don't get so defensive. I'm just making conversation," said Harry.
"Well, don't. I'm waiting for someone, if you must know, and as soon as he gets here, I'm leaving."
Harry hadn't expected his stomach to flip quite this violently. His vision actually swam for a moment. He'd heard rumours of Draco's escapades since the break-up, but for some reason he'd always assumed that more than half of said escapades were deliberately fabricated to get at him. Hearing rumours had been one thing; having Draco state blandly that he was here with someone else -- well, about to be, anyway -- was quite another ball of twine.
Of course Draco hadn't sent that valentine. He couldn't have -- it would have been a gesture of reconciliation, after all. From where Harry was sitting, Draco didn't look the slightest bit conciliatory.
"Well, I'm waiting for someone, too," said Harry, twisting the corner of his mouth in a what he hoped was a nonchalant smirk.
Draco's head snapped around again, grey eyes wide behind fake glasses. "Who?"
"None of your business," said Harry, his voice suddenly hoarse. He'd forgotten how Draco could look at him, like he was pinning Harry to the chair with his gaze. Harry looked away and pretended to search for Lolita. She ought to have been back by now.
"No, I suppose it isn't," said Draco. "No harm in a little curiosity, though. Don't get so upset."
"I'm not upset. I just wish you'd picked a different place to meet your date, that's all."
"I can say the same about you." Draco sounded bored, like he wasn't even going to try and get at Harry.
Like he knew that every word he said was a knife across Harry's heart, even if all he said was "potato" or "broomstick". Every sound out of Draco reminded Harry that that voice didn't belong to him any more, that he would never hear that voice moan in pleasure or whisper Harry's name in darkness.
Stop it, Harry told himself. They were finished; it had been Harry's choice to end it, and he had more good reasons for it than he could count on both hands. Draco was spoilt, rude, capricious, moody, petulant, selfish, resentful, misanthropic, waspish, querulous, irritable, callous, jaded, sulky, churlish, disrespectful, surly, and mostly interested in Harry's cock rather than Harry himself. There was room for one person in Draco's heart, and that person was called Draco Malfoy.
"I'm glad that's settled, then," Harry said, more to himself than to Draco.
Draco, however, was no longer looking at Harry -- he was staring at the parchment in Harry's hands, frowning.
"You sent it," he said, his voice flat. "Why would you do that?"
"That thing," said Draco, and reached into his pocket. He pulled out a piece of parchment identical to the one in Harry's hands, rolled precisely the same way.
Harry peered at him. "What are you talking about? I didn't send this. I received it."
"Very funny, Potter."
"Listen, Malfoy. If I was going to send you insipid love poetry, I would deliver it myself. Anonymity isn't my style." Harry turned to face him fully, letting himself see Draco again. It was a mistake, but he'd dwell on that later. "Though I suppose I can see why you thought it would be funny to send me something like this and then show up to laugh at how desperate I am."
Draco's mouth tightened the way it always did when he became angry.
"Oh! I didn't even realise who you were with, Harry," said Lolita's voice behind him. "When did you two get back together?"
"We didn't," said Harry and Draco together, and looked away from each other.
Shrugging, Lolita set their drinks down, took their money, and sauntered away.
Harry eyed his drink with some apprehension: it was the colour of pale honey, too clear to be apple cider. The smell, however, was unmistakable. Harry took a long, hearty swallow, if only to keep himself from talking. He would finish his drink and leave, since obviously tonight was going to end up just as lonely as every other night since he didn't have Draco.
"You said you were desperate. Are you really?"
"What?" Harry put his glass down and narrowed his eyes. The cider had gone down smooth, but it left a strange tickle in the back of his throat.
"Just before the wench showed up. You accused me of wanting to laugh at how desperate you are. Are you?"
"No," said Harry. It felt like the cider was coating his stomach with slow warmth. "I meant that you think I'm desperate enough to go running after an anonymous Valentine stalker."
Draco smirked. "Aren't you? You are here, after all"
"So are you. If you didn't send it, then you're just as desperate. Aren't you?" Harry could practically see the internal struggle in Draco's mind. Now he had no choice but to admit he'd sent the valentine. A cruel joke, but vintage Draco. This whole situation had an old-school Potter vs. Malfoy feel to it. He who laughs last, indeed.
Draco took a sip of his cider and wrinkled his nose. "Feels like she dumped a quart of sugar into this."
Another classic Draco move: change the subject to avoid admitting defeat. Harry felt somewhat triumphant. "I see how it is," he said. "Well, thanks, anyway. Hope you're amused--"
"Do you see me laughing?" snapped Draco, lifting his head too sharply and causing his glasses to slide a bit. He pushed them back up the bridge of his nose with a look of irritation, and that was when things began to go wrong for Harry.
His heart gave a great drunken lurch, sending a volley of butterflies into his stomach. The butterflies basked in the warmth left behind by the drink, and Harry quickly drank some more, hoping to drown them. One movement from Draco, and he was done for -- that stupid habit of pushing his glasses up his nose. Whenever Draco did it, it shattered all illusions of poise and made him look vulnerable, like he was laid bare before Harry, an open book. Draco lowered his hand and picked up his drink, and the vision vanished.
"This is stupid," declared Draco. "I'm just going to finish this and leave."
"Don't blame you," said Harry. There was a bitter aftertaste to the cider, like cold ashes and regret. "Your work here is finished. Well done you."
Draco rolled his eyes. "Believe what you want, Potter. You were the last person I expected to see here tonight."
Harry tried not to watch as Draco rested his hand on his glass, thumb moving idly back and forth across the top of it. "If you didn't send it, and I didn't send it, who did? Why are we sitting here with identical valentines, drinking apple cider and pretending like--" He stopped abruptly, realising that his next words would have been like we don't give a shit. He was the only one pretending, after all. Draco really didn't give a shit.
"Clearly it's someone who wanted us both here at the same time," said Draco dryly. "Can't imagine why anyone would want that."
"Me neither," agreed Harry. He took another drink. Just a few more swallows and it would be gone, and then Harry could go home and pick a fight with Mrs. Black's portrait to get his mind off all this. "I hate Valentine's Day."
Draco pushed his glasses up his nose again. Harry wanted to tear the fucking things off and kiss him, but Draco would only laugh at him.
"I hate it too," said Draco. "The most useless holiday in the year, if you ask me."
Of course it was a useless holiday for someone like Draco, who wasn't capable of caring about anyone. "I suppose Valentine's Day hates us back," muttered Harry.
Draco had a strange look in his eyes for a moment, and then it was gone. He tapped a fingertip against his glass and looked down, away from Harry. Harry couldn't stop watching him now; it was like a compulsion -- noting every movement, every frown, every shadow flickering across Draco's face. What had been an echo of attraction long past -- or so he'd convinced himself -- had built to a roaring crescendo of lust as soon as there was a little bit of alcohol in his blood.
Stop being so stupid, Harry's rational mind argued. He never cared about you, wouldn't care if you dropped dead right now. It was sex. It might've lasted six years, but it wasn't real, it wasn't what you wanted, what you needed. That was why you left, remember?
Harry remembered. He remembered the war, and the first time he'd caught Draco wanking to a picture of two men together. He remembered stares across the table at Grimmauld Place -- you're curious, aren't you? -- yes -- meet me in the attic after dinner -- ohgoddon'tstopyessogood. He remembered when Draco became the reason he got out of bed in the morning -- he'd gone through his days pursued by thoughts and images of Draco in various states of undress and better. He remembered realising that things lurked hidden beneath that veneer of indifference and hostility. He remembered falling in love.
He didn't want to remember that. Whatever was underneath Draco's exterior wasn't frequent enough a visitor to warrant the abuse. Harry wanted to love Draco. Draco was content to let Harry love him, but no more than that.
Harry caught himself staring at Draco's face again and he looked away. The awkward pause stretched into a graceless silence. The first few times they'd broken up, they'd got back together within days. After that, sometimes it would take a whole week. This time, it had been well over six months, but how Harry felt hadn't changed. He wanted Draco to come home so badly he could barely see straight. But that meant going back to the usual cycle of offence, blame, and make-up sex, without an end in sight, without meaning or purpose. He shook his head. He wasn't going to drink any more. In fact, he was going to get up and leave.
Draco sat with shoulders hunched, head bent forward, gaze on the contents of his drink. Light reflecting off the glass played across the lenses of his glasses, lighting a fire in his eyes. Harry swallowed down the last of his drink, forgetting his earlier resolution not to.
"Well, as fascinating as this has been, I should get going," said Draco, straightening abruptly. He pushed his barely touched drink away.
"Yeah, I was about to say the same thing," said Harry, rising. In a way, he was relieved. Once he was alone, he could go back to being rational and logical. Draco's presence was too distracting. Without looking back, he hurried for the doors. His cloak hung on a peg that was now decorated with a shiny red heart. Harry put the cloak on and pulled the hood up: it was windy outside.
With an effort not to look back at Draco, Harry started for the doors. He was surprised to see Draco walking out ahead of him. At first, he was going to wait until Draco was gone, but then a helpless sort of anger seized him -- Draco was just going to walk out like that, without a word, as if Harry were an empty space not worthy of notice -- and he hurried out into the cold February night.
Snow covered the grounds outside, snow that hadn't been there earlier. Fat, ornate snowflakes drifted from the sky without pattern. The earlier wind howled somewhere beyond the treetops of the Forbidden Forest. Its work here was done: the snow clouds had taken over. A solitary lantern swung precariously on a pole not far off, as if in remembrance of the wind.
Few footprints marked the snow in the No-Apparition Zone around the Three Broomsticks; it was early yet. The No-Apparition Zone was the result of a law recently passed by the Ministry of Magic: too many drunk wizards had splinched themselves Apparating home after a night of revelry. The Zones were intended to remind even the drunkest wizard that Apparition required concentration. There was as yet no word as to how effective the new measure was proving: having to walk an extra twenty paces didn't make you any less drunk, only more annoyed with the government.
Harry squinted into the falling snow: Draco was walking away.
"Aren't you going to say good-bye?" called Harry, more anger in his voice than he'd intended.
Draco stopped, turned around, watched Harry approach. "No," he said.
Harry was barely a foot from him now, too close. He stopped. "Why not?"
A snowflake landed on the rim of Draco's glasses. It seemed to freeze in time for a moment before beginning to slump and melt. "Because I don't want to," said Draco.
"I see nothing has changed," muttered Harry. "I don't even rate a simple courtesy."
"Yeah," said Draco. "Nothing has changed. You still insist on taking everything I say in the worst way possible because you can't see past your own ideas of what kind of man I am."
Harry blinked. "Excuse me?"
"You heard me," said Draco in a tired voice. "I just told you I didn't want to say good-bye to you. According to you, that's mere rudeness. I can't--" He broke off, and then took a deep breath. "You know what? Forget it. I'm not having this conversation again." He gazed down at his footprints in the snow.
Harry stared at him. "I think I heard you wrong," he said. "I could've sworn you just--"
"You're bloody right you heard me wrong!" exclaimed Draco, lifting his head to glare at him. "That's all you ever do -- when I'm serious, you think I'm mocking you, and when I'm sarcastic, you think I'm being honest." He took a step closer to Harry and shoved his hands in his pockets. "You look at me and see what you want to see, not what's there."
"Why would I love you?" Draco had said that on a not too distant summer night, his eyes empty. Vacant eyes, but there's a smirk there, and a tiny, laughing imp cavorting about. Of course I love you, you stupid berk, why else would I stay up until three in the morning and listen to your angst-ridden pontificating?
"Did you rehearse that?" asked Harry. It was the first thing that came to mind -- Draco sounded like he was reciting from memory. He couldn't think beyond that -- Draco was standing so close now, close enough for Harry to reach out and--
"Yeah, I rehearsed it every day," muttered Draco. "And now you're just being vile. Have it your way, then. Good-bye, Potter." There was a faint scent of apples and rum on his breath.
Harry's heartbeat quickened, and he reached forward to grab Draco's arms, to restrain him. He was breaking all sorts of etiquette-type rules, probably, but he didn't care. "I thought you said you didn't want to say good-bye."
"I changed my mind. You're a Neanderthal, Potter. If that weren't enough, your friends hate me, my friends hate you, and they all hate each other. You were right: we're never going to work, and no matter how much I--" Draco snapped his mouth shut. "Like I said. Now unhand me, if you would--"
Harry kissed him. He knew it was stupid, knew it wasn't going to fix anything, but tonight was the first time in months that he didn't feel like a useless wart on the arse of humanity. His glasses clinked against Draco's, and he tore them off, both of them, tossing them in the snow. The air between their faces was thick with the scent of Lolita's apple cider, and Draco's face was flushed.
"Took you long enough," he panted.
Harry leaned forward, pressing their foreheads together. "You could've done something--"
Draco's hands had Harry's hips in a steel grip. "Not bloody likely. You broke up with me." He moved forward and Harry felt a hard length against his thigh. "Wasn't about to start throwing myself at you."
"I hate you," moaned Harry. "Let's go home."
Home was Grimmauld Place, of course -- home for Harry, because it was his, and home for Draco, because it had once belonged to the Black family. Mrs Black's portrait unleashed a storm of curses vile enough to wilt one's ears, but Harry barely heard any of it. They were barely out of their clothes and already fucking, making up for lost time, filling the stale air with grunts and moans.
Whenever Harry had allowed himself to think about this -- always in abstract terms, of course -- he'd imagined slow, languorous touches, heat and passion, hazy moonlit semi-darkness. In actuality, it was hurried, frenzied, as though they didn't have a minute to spare -- just like old times -- with the lights on. When Draco came all over Harry's stomach, the bed sheets were still cold beneath Harry's hands. And it was better, much better, than fantasy.
Right around closing time, the Three Broomsticks was home to a strange sight: two women sat by the bar. One had curly black hair and legs too short to reach the floor from the tall stool. The other's hair resembled a porcupine after a bad perm job, but her feet were firmly planted on the ground.
Their physical appearances aside, the strangest thing about these women was that they were Pansy Parkinson and Hermione Granger, respectively, and they were not at each other's throats. In fact, they were grinning at each other in a decidedly uncharacteristic fashion -- if our main characters hadn't had better things to do at the time, they would've been shocked and possibly appalled. In Draco's case, anyway.
"Out with you, good man, out, out, out!" called the barmaid after a customer who was taking his time stumbling out into the night. He had left behind the sharp scent of stale spirits, a splash of Firewhisky on top of the bar, and an argyle-patterned scarf hanging from a cloak peg.
"I am a man!" shouted the gentleman hoarsely. He turned around in the doorway and shook his fist. "The world belongs to men!" he declared, his face illumined by the kind of inner light visible only on the very drunk or the very crazy. "D'you hear me, woman? Argh!"
"I can't hear you, we're closed," sang Lolita. She slammed the door in his face and turned around, rolling her eyes.
Hermione chuckled. "The world truly does belong to men."
"But it's women who pull the strings in the background," said Pansy with a sniff.
"I suppose I never realised that held for gay men, too," replied Hermione.
"I don't think the gay men realise it, either." Pansy's grin was just east of feral.
Hermione's expression grew serious. She leant forward and propped her chin up in her palm. "So what are we going to do the next time they break up?"
Lolita waved her wand at the bar; the Firewhisky puddle vanished. "We've got at least a year to plan for that," she said, and winked. "Apple cider?"