The scant few times Draco had seen Potter, Granger, and Weasley, there had been no real animosity. The so-called Golden Trio had done some growing up of their own. It wasnít as though the four had become friends; they just werenít enemies. There was no longer any point.
Draco did still live at Malfoy Manor with his parents. That was the only thing that had remained the same. He would live there until he died, as would his sons, if he ever got around to having any. That prospect was growing dimmer by the day, however, because Draco preferred the hard, lean bodies of men to the rather softer ones of women. Not that he would have minded becoming a father; it was just a matter of finding the right bloodline to mix with. Yes, even after everything, blood was still important. He and Pansy had actually made a tentative agreement that if she wasnít married by the time they were thirty, the two would wed. And Draco had begun to suspect that Pansy wasnít trying very hard.
At the age of twenty-four, Draco Malfoy was quite a humble young man. Heíd been taught the hard way that his life was worth precisely nothing in the grand scheme of things. He had pledged his allegiance, albeit reluctantly, to a Dark Lord who wouldnít have pissed on him if heíd been on fire. Heíd followed in his fatherís footsteps, but only out of blind loyalty to the man and his own terror. If heíd have been anyone but a Malfoy, with a Malfoyís inflated sense of worth, he would never have had to put himself in that position. Pride is a wretched, murderous bitch.
The only times Draco let himself think too much of his first eighteen years of existence were when he caught glimpses of his scarred skin in the mirror after a shower- not the skin of his arm that had been stained by evil, but the slightly raised and shiny line that ran down his chest. That jagged little line reminded him that he was not as powerful as he had imagined himself to be, and the tears that had been running down his cheeks that day made him just as human as everyone else. Too bad it had been too late for all that. But it did no good to dwell on the past.
It was early one warm evening of Dracoís twenty-fourth summer that his past came roaring up to meet his present. Draco was standing in Diagon Alley, watching crowds of new Hogwarts students and their parents bustle in and out of shops with their arms full of packages, when he saw him.
Potter was sitting alone outside the cafť that had, in a previous life, been Fortescueís. He was sipping coffee and reading an evening paper.
Draco watched as Potter lifted the cup, drank, and then licked his lips before setting the cup back down on the table. He absently ran a hand though his hair as a flood of What Ifs raged through his mind. What if Potter had killed him that day in the toilets? Or: What if Potter had left him to die like he deserved in the Hell he was so keen to help create?
The more he watched, the more he wanted to know why he hadnít.
When he finally had convinced his legs to move, Draco made his way to where his childhood nemesis was enjoying a leisurely afternoon. They werenít children anymore, and hadnít been for years before their ages had caught up with their actions, but Draco found himself suddenly feeling quite child-like indeed as he asked for permission to share the table. He actually felt a pang of relief when Potter had granted it, smiling.
The real conversation had started shakily, awkwardly, with the required pleasantries having been dispensed with. What did Draco think they would talk about anyway? The Good Old Days? Was he supposed to ask about Potterís life and how it had progressed in the years since saving what amounted to the entire fucking world?
Potter, witnessing Dracoís strange demeanour, broke the ice and the silence with four words: Itís all right, Draco. And for some reason, Draco broke too.
He wanted to flee back to the comfort of his denial, but the hand that was suddenly squeezing his would not let him go.
- Itís all right, Draco.
- Is it, really? - But the sarcasm wasnít there.
- Yes, I think so. People change. Times change. - Potter released Dracoís hand and leant back in his chair.
- I suppose.
- I know they do.
- Why didnít you let me die? - The question was out of his mouth before he could stop it.
- Because you were worth saving. We were kids, Draco. Pawns, if you want to use the clichť. Your mother realised that in the end, didnít she?
- If it werenít for her, I wouldnít be here. You know that, donít you? - Draco hadnít known. He looked at Potter, confused. - She asked me where you were. She was concerned for you, and because of that, she spared my life. I wonder why she never told you.
- Do you always accept everything thatís handed to you, Potter, or do you have any regrets?
- Sometimes you have to accept things. Thereís no use in fighting what you canít change. - He took a sip of coffee before continuing. - But regrets, yes, I do have them. It does no good to dwell on them, though.
- My sentiments exactly. - Potter smiled at this.
- Do you want a coffee? I could have another cup, and Iíd like it if youíd sit awhile.
- Do you ever wonder what it would have been like if we were friends back then?
- To be honest, no. But thatís not to say that we couldnít be friends now, is it? Like I said, people change. I would assume that goes for you as well.
- You mean, have I grown up? Yes, I would like to think that I have in most ways.
- So youíll have coffee with me then?
At the age of twenty-four, Draco Malfoy was quite a pleasant young man. He didnít know when the change had happened, exactly, but he was certain it had something to do with his impromptu coffee with Potter. The boy- no, man now- had somehow managed to lift an invisible weight from his shoulders. It was a weight Draco hadnít really realised he was carrying until then, but no matter. It was gone now.
Potter had extended an offer of friendship, and Draco had accepted it.
They had talked for nearly two hours that afternoon, finally settling into the more mundane topics of Quidditch and where the best pubs and bars in London could be found- both Muggle and Wizard. When Draco had forgotten himself and mentioned Ku, Potter had nodded, and observed that maybe he and Draco had something in common besides surviving a war.
It was for this reason that Draco was in his bedroom, tugging a pair of Muggle trousers on.
- You came.
- I said I would, didnít I? - Potter was standing in front of the Japanese restaurant opposite the bar, his hands in his pockets.
- Yes, well. Iím still surprised.
- Donít be. Starting over, remember?
- Donít get sentimental on me now, Potter.
- Not so bad then, is it?
- No, not so bad.
After ordering drinks, the pair took seats on the balcony overlooking the main floor. They sat in a companionable silence for a few moments before Potter spoke.
- Whatís your type?
- Your type? I donít want to step on your toes and go after the wrong guy.
- I see. I donít have a type, as such. I just know who looks good and who doesnít.
- And does anybody look good to you? You know, just so I know who to stay away from. - There was humour in Potterís voice. It was something Draco could get used to hearing.
- How generous of you. - Draco stood to have a look around, and then pointed to a dark-haired man sitting alone at the bar. - Heís fairly decent.
- Since when does Draco Malfoy accept Ďfairly decent?í
- Iím not looking to marry him, Potter. Harry. A kiss is a kiss is a kiss, and thatís all Iíd do with him.
- Is it now?
- Iíd probably let him suck me off, if he were any good at the kissing.
- I would have never had you pegged as a serial snogger.
- Iím not in need or want of a relationship. ĎSerial snogging,í as you so delicately put it, suits me fine.- His tone was rather harsher than heíd meant. - What about you?
- I wouldnít mind waking up next to the same person every morning. Heíd have to be a wizard, though.
- So, youíre a blood-purist now?
- Not at all. It would just be easier to be myself from the very beginning. A Muggle would either freak out and run, or expect everything to be solved by magic. Either way, it wouldnít be worth it.
- Youíre a cynical bastard, you know that?
- Old habits die hard.
At the age of twenty-four, Draco Malfoy was quite a smitten young man. He would deny it if asked, however.
In the three months following their first night out, Draco and Potter had settled into a comfortable routine: they would meet at various bars twice a week for drinks, and to amuse themselves and each other by kissing Muggles. It had almost turned into a game, to see who could pull whom. Draco noticed that Potter, more often than not, chose tall, blond men as his targets. He would watch in amazed amusement at the ease friend (yes, they were friends now) could get kisses from the strangers at the bars. It took little effort for Potter to walk up to someone and talk to him, and by the end of the night, be wrapped in his arms in a corner of the room. Not that Draco couldnít do the same, but sometimes he was content with watching. It was only ever kissing, and Potter and Draco always left together at closing time.
Sometime just before Christmas, Draco realised he wanted to do more than watch. He wanted to know what it felt like to be on the receiving end of one of Potterís fantastic looking kisses.
He took more care getting ready for this night out. This night out would be different, special. They were going back to Ku where theyíd had their first drink together as friends and as grown men. If Potter tried to pull a Muggle, Draco would be shattered. He had to do this just right.
- You look amazing.- Potter didnít try to hide the way his eyes appraised Draco as they stood on Lisle Street. - Planning on outdoing me?
- I wouldnít dream of it.
- Well, youíve certainly pulled out all the stops. Really, Draco, you do look great.
- Itís not for them. - He said this quietly, suddenly nervous, as a car roared past.
- What was that? I didnít quite catch it.
- It was nothing. Letís go in, shall we? Iím freezing.
- Such delicate creatures, Malfoys. I donít know how your lot have survived this long. Come on then, Iím sure youíll find someone to warm you up soon enough.
- Iím rather hoping.
Sitting at the table across from Potter, drink in hand, Draco decided that humour would be the best way to go. That way, if he were rejected, he could say heíd only been joking.
- Do you come here often? - Draco winked and took a sip of his drink.
- You know I-- oh. Oh. Draco?
- Are you-- Oh, Gods, you are.
- Is it that bad?
- No, of course not. But I donít want-- and you said-- but you donít--
- I didnít.
- But you do now?
- I thought--
- People change, Harry. You said so yourself.
- Yes, I suppose I did. Have I told you that you look amazing?
At the age of twenty-four, Draco Malfoy was quite a happy young man.
- END -
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