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“I want to go outside.” Draco announced one lazy evening when everyone was lounging about the living room.
“You’re not a dog, Malfoy,” Ginny said with a grin as her and Harry tossed a rubber bouncy ball from one to the other from across the room, “You can let yourself out, you know.”
Crossing his arms and leaning in the doorway, the boy sneered good-naturedly towards the girl, “The back yard gets boring.”
Ginny smiled lazily while Harry snorted and Hermione’s eyes finally flickered up from her book. Ron was the only one who seemed confused, “There’s hardly any backyard here.”
“That’s exactly his point, Ron,” Hermione snapped not unkindly, and closed her book on her lap, “Well if you bring a bodyguard—“
She stopped at the annoyed look on Draco’s face and tried to correct herself, “—escort…”
But Draco still made a face, “I liked bodyguard better.”
“Anyways,” Hermione scowled at the blonde, “as long as someone’s with you I don’t see why you can’t go out.”
“Brilliant,” Draco seemed actually enthusiastic, and immediately trotted to his room and grabbed the muggle wallet from the top drawer of his dresser. Slipping his feet into leather sandals, the boy padded his way back down the stairs and froze in the doorway of the living room again to find his friends just as he’d left them. And now they were all pointedly avoiding his gaze. With an angry sigh, the man fell back into his earlier spot leaning against the doorway.
“It’s hot out,” Harry offered finally, almost whining as he did so.
“You know what,” Ginny caught the rubber ball and held onto it for a moment so that she could look at Draco, “We should all go out tonight. We can walk to that pub a few blocks over and have dinner.”
“Oh, I’ve heard they’ve got great chips,” Hermione looked up from her book once more, and Ron turned from where he was staring out the window with his eyes half-closed to agree with Hermione.
“And it won’t be so hot if we go in a couple of hours,” Ginny tossed the ball back to Harry, who made a silly face at her.
”But no one wants to go now?” Draco pushed himself from the doorframe, “No one fancies a walk? Maybe just a bit of a dawdle?”
“Goodness,” Hermione settled into her book again, but giving a half-grin as Draco started to sound a bit desperate, “Why don’t you take a jog to the end of the street? Ron can watch you from the window.”
Draco’s eyes involuntarily flickered towards the aforementioned redhead, and caught the boy’s brown eyes just in time to see them widen and jerk away. He should have scowled. He should have felt slightly violated that he had just caught the boy pretty much ogling him. But he instead gave a sort of self-satisfied sneer and listened as the redhead stuttered.
“I have better things to do than be volunteered to watch that oaf,” was what finally issued from his lips. Draco resignedly started kicking off his sandals while the others chuckled.
“Like staring out that window into nothingness?” Ginny prompted.
“I’ll have you know there’s someone fit just across the way. A girl, a fit girl,” Ron turned back towards his window and tried to gesture towards her, “Just there. She’s making dinner.”
“And what are we having?” Harry asked, eyebrows hidden by messy bangs.
“Stew, looks like,” Ron squinted.
“I’m not exactly sure going from doing nothing to being pervy is a step up, Ron,” Hermione’s eyes were the only things visible from behind her book, and Draco almost snorted at the way her one eyebrow was arched in mild disgust.
Jaw dropping in indignation, Ron tried to find something to say but couldn’t think straight throughout Draco’s howling laughter.
“Even if it is a bit pervy,” Harry tried coming to his friend’s rescue, “You can’t completely blame him. There’s been no one since that thing with that Ravenclaw girl before Christmas, right?”
“Right.” Ron answered immediately, turning in his seat once more to find himself staring at Draco’s steely face and having a hard time not becoming red, “No one.”
“Since before Christmas?!” Hermione leaned forward, mock horror on her face, “How do you survive at all?!” Dramatically widened eyes blinked back into unenthusiastic slits as she shared a look of understanding with Ginny, “Boys.”
“Men,” Harry corrected her.
“If there were any men here, Harry, I would have used that term,” Hermione teased.
“Draco?” Ginny asked, ever the observant one, “Are you alright?”
Narrowed eyebrows and a clenched jaw looked towards her and sighed, “Yeah.”
“Listen,” Harry caught the bouncy ball and held it for a second, “I would go for a walk right now if it weren’t so warm out, but I’ll cover your tab tonight. Fair enough?”
Finally flopping into an empty chair, the boy tried very hard not to roll his eyes, “Right, because I’m so worried about the money.”
“You can pay for my dinner, Harry, at least I’d appreciate it,” Ron tried sending a glare to Draco without actually looking at him. The final result was a look that made it seem like he was rather angry at the goblin-framed mirror hanging on the wall somewhere behind Draco.
“I would appreciate it!” the Slytherin defended himself weakly, “but seeing as I would probably be willing to pay a few galleons to go on a walk right now…”
“A few galleons?” Ron sat up, a bit hopeful.
“That was more a figure of speech,” Draco sighed once more, and Ron echoed the sigh before settling back down in his chair. A calm silence overcame the room, broken only by noises of the ball bouncing and frequent rustling pages as Hermione read her book. And when Ginny finally suggested that they get ready for dinner, Draco was the first one up and practically racing towards his room.
“Oh my,” Hermione was the last one down the stairs, and she had a hard time stepping into her shoes because of the way she was eying Draco, “You certainly clean up nice.”
He had on a pair of charcoal pants with a small silver pin striping detail and a dress shirt the same colour silver as the pin striping in his pants. A generous couple of buttons were undone at the collar, and because of the heat he’d rolled up the sleeves to his elbows. He smattered a bit of water in his hair in order to try and tame it, and because of the way he’d slicked it back there were now flyaway pieces curling a bit as they dried. He did not look at all like he was supposed to be in hiding.
“Don’t get any ideas,” Draco warned with his eyebrows raised, catching Ron giving him a more subdued version of Hermione’s look, “I didn’t dress up for you.”
“Hoping to find a lady friend at the pub tonight?” Ginny teased, opening the front door and leading the dinner party from the house.
“Not at all,” Draco settled his hands in his pockets so that he could saunter along coolly behind them and enjoy the fresh, free air, “I expect to have every single lady drooling at my feet by the time I get my food.”
“Months stuck inside and it still hasn’t done his ego any good,” Harry commented loudly to Ron, who snorted in return and refused to look at Draco.
Hermione came up behind them and issued a rather harsh smack to Harry’s shoulder, “Give the boy a break, he’s been stuck in that house for months.”
“It’s not like he was alone the whole time,” Harry argued weakly, carefully watching as Ginny and Draco continued teasing each other ahead of them.
“No, we are not going to perch nonchalantly by the bar,” Ginny was already shooting down Draco’s plan of action, and they were still a block away from the restaurant, “We’re going to sit in a booth like civilized people.”
Draco faked a huff as best he could, but it really wasn’t that convincing considering he was still smiling as if his favourite team had just won the Quidditch World Cup.
The pub turned out to be a wizard-run place whose owner had done his best to muggle-fy it. It was rather good, for a only a witch or wizard would notice the minute slip-ups; the juke-box in the corner wasn’t plugged in despite the sounds that were emitting from it, the light fixtures were lit with Filibusters’ own non-melting candles, and the last few booths in the pub were slightly stretched via expansion charms.
But the atmosphere was warm and chatty and their waitress was charming in her own homely right. Draco took advantage of the presence of the unknown female immediately.
“Hello,” He flashed a crooked grin at the girl, whose eyelashes fluttered as she momentarily forgot her practiced introduction.
“Hello, I’ll be serving you tonight. My name’s Elizabeth—“
“Elizabeth,” Draco cut in, testing, “Mmm. Gorgeous.”
The poor girl’s cheeks flamed red and her brown eyes tried to focus on the others at the table, “—here are our menus, I’ll just be back in a few minutes. Oh, and our chimney’s floo has just been renovated so if you wanted to take a look at that at all tonight…”
“Oh no, we’re fine,” Ginny grinned at the girl, “We’ve only come from blocks down, we’ll walk home.”
“Perfect,” Elizabeth smiled brightly and nodded in understanding.
“Since we’re now clear on that,” Draco tapped the top of the table with his forefinger, “can you bring us a bottle of your finest red wine, dear Elizabeth?”
The girl suppressed a giggle just barely, and nodded before twirling away.
“ ‘Dear Elizabeth'," Ron immediately mocked, scowling across the table towards the blond boy, “ridiculous.”
“What was all that about the floo?” Harry had an arm draped around Ginny, the other opening his menu despite his confused face.
“They need to know if their customers are muggle or not, don’t they?” Hermione spoke, her head buried in her menu.
“Imagine all the funny looks muggles would give her for that,” Ginny chuckled, and Harry finally understood.
“You’re so thick,” Draco almost rolled his eyes towards Harry, while Ron was leaning his forearms heavily on the table and seemed to be intent on losing himself amongst all the other things that were going on in the room.
Ginny giggled and shared a look with Harry that made Draco’s lip curl, “Disgusting.”
The bottle of wine and five glasses appeared moments later, their orders given and their menus collected while Elizabeth tried her best to keep composed while Draco shamelessly did his best to make her blush. Hermione had to hide her eyes so she wouldn’t giggle, and Ron was trying to drown out the blond’s voice by messily pouring the wine and talking loudly about whatever song was playing at the moment.
“Could you please tone it down a little, Draco?” Hermione raised her eyebrows as soon Elizabeth had walked off again, “You’re making Ron jealous.”
“What?!” Ron, who had been taking a sip from his wine glass, sputtered so that he had to hastily wipe some of the red liquid off of his chin.
Draco had managed not to screech anything as had Ron, but still couldn’t help the reproachful look he geared towards the girl.
“Ron…” Ginny chastised, who was unfortunately perched beside her brother and now had a smattering of wine on her arm.
“Goodness, it’s okay, Ron,” Hermione shook her head with a small smile, “Elizabeth is rather cute.”
Relaxing instantly, Ron and Draco adopted a similar absently relieved expression and accidentally caught each other’s eye. Surprisingly, Ron spoke first, “Nah, you can have her. I’m into blonds.”
His lips curled into an arrogantly self-satisfied smirk, and Ron replied by downing the wine in his glass. Harry snorted even though he still wasn’t sure what was going on, and Ginny made some sort of comment about how nice it was to be out like this.
“Yeah, this is great,” Ron’s sarcasm was met with frowns.
“You’re such a faker,” Draco spoke with accusing intensity, his frown emphasized by a disapproving shake of his head, “You should mean the things you say and do, but you clearly don’t.”
Ron froze, seething silently as he waited for Draco to elaborate. Almost afraid that this was being turned back around into a disguised argument about the ‘incident’, the redhead avoided the others’ curious looks and challenged Draco with a glare to go on.
“ ‘At least I’d appreciate it.’ “ The blond did his best imitation of Ron, and then sneered, “You don’t appreciate anything, faker.”
“I appreciate loads of things,” Ron snarled, grumpily hunched over as he refilled his wine glass and refused to look at Malfoy.
“You don’t even appreciate the loads of laundry that Hermione does for you,” Draco was still sneering in disgust. He didn’t notice when Hermione’s eyes snapped open and Ginny and Harry sent her an incredulous look.
“You do his laundry?” Ginny look appalled as she asked this, and Hermione flushed as her mouth opened and shut soundlessly.
“Of course she doesn’t,” Ron hissed, “The house elves take care of it.”
There was a drag of awkward silence suspended about the table with that proclamation, until Harry finally broke it, “This isn’t Hogwarts, mate. And Kreacher can’t even keep his own cloths clean, let alone all of ours.”
“You do his laundry?” Ginny repeated, still appalled.
“We do all of our laundry together,” Hermione was looking straight at Draco with visibly wounded eyes, as if she couldn’t understand why he’d blurted her secret, “We gossip like old women.”
“You never told me he thought the house elves did his laundry,” Draco was annoyed now, having proved that Ron was actually rather dense instead of his original ‘faker’ accusation.
“She does his laundry?” Ginny finally geared her question to Harry, who promptly answered with an amused, “That’s what it looks like, darling.”
Ron was sitting there with his mouth agape, staring somewhere between Draco and Hermione and flushing ridiculously as he did so, “Well, thank you for doing my laundry, Hermione. Uhm…I can do it now though.”
Draco’s jaw remained shut tight while Hermione continued to stare at him even though she was now timidly replying to Ron, “No problem, Ronald. My pleasure.”
“That thanks is real enough, you should know,” Ron commented before downing his glass of wine once more and then glaring angrily at the blond across from him, “I can’t fake things. If I could then you’d think I was having a jolly good time sitting here playing entourage-bodyguard to your slimy self. But I’m not, and I apologize to the rest of you for ruining all of this but I just want it to be clear that I mean everything I do. Maybe not everything I say—but when I do something, I mean it.”
There was a two beat pause and then Elizabeth whirled to their table, a large plate in each hand. Ginny immediately claimed the dinners and Draco mumbled something about the washroom before slipping out of the booth and completely missing Elizabeth’s sidelong glance and slight hurt expression when he hardly even acknowledged her. Harry and Ginny munched on the first bites of their meals tentatively as Hermione sat in her spot looking rather struck. Ron refilled his wine glass once more, but only raised it halfway to his lips once before he put it down with a sigh.
“I need some fresh air,” he said before stumbling from the booth and cutting off Elizabeth on her way back to the table with the other three meals balanced carefully in her arms. And even though the outside air was rich with warm comforting moisture and lit with the pale light of dusk, Ron’s stomach sunk when he took in his surroundings.
Draco stood on the other side of a large potted plant, hands in his pockets and a cigarette held lazily between his lips.
“You smoke,” Ron offered blandly. For some reason it really didn’t seem all that out of character for the Slytherin, even though he hadn’t any idea that the boy liked to smoke.
“And you,” Draco paused for a moment to grasp the cigarette with his forefinger and his thumb so that he could articulate his words better, “are stalking me.”
“You said you were going to the loo,” Ron reprimanded him indirectly, and Draco took another drag of the cigarette before replying.
“I didn’t want an escort standing out here questioning me while I had a smoke,” he glared pointedly at the redhead, holding the look for a couple long moments before he turned his head, “I never said I wasn’t a faker.”
Ron shoved both hands in his pockets and rooted his feet to the spot to try and dispel his urge to walk any closer to the other boy, whose words were now making his a bit suspicious, “So…you don’t mean what you do? Or say?”
“Unfortunately—“ Draco stopped for one last long drag and then tossed the butt of the cigarette to the cement and ground it to the floor with his foot, “I meant absolutely everything that night. I can’t fake…that.”
He turned towards Ron, a slight look of stubbornness causing his forehead to crease. The meaning behind his words caused Ron to rock forward, and he ended up having to take a step forward so he wouldn’t fall over. And another one. And another. At least, that’s what it felt like.
Draco’s hands were fisted in his pockets, his eyes stubbornly concentrating on the bush he had been hiding behind as he peripherally watched Ron move towards him. He should have moved, of course, but he didn’t. Ron was trying to convince himself that he wasn’t moving forward of his own accord, but the closer he got to Draco the more he realized that he wanted to be even nearer to him.
“Hermione was right,” the redhead admitted lowly, “you were making me jealous.”
Draco looked up to meet Ron’s eyes then, a self-satisfied smirk curling its way onto his face at what Ron said and the way the Weasley boy was teetering where he stood. Boldly straightening himself, the Slytherin took a half step towards the Gryffindor in challenge, “What’s stopping you?”
Huffing in frustration, Ron brought a hand up to ruffle his hair as he turned towards the pub, “All those stupid looks you were giving Elizabeth were just—“
“You’re such a dolt,” Draco cut in, and Ron was caught off guard when the Slytherin grasped a fistful of his shirt at the collar and pulled the boy towards him. Their lips met rather fiercely, and they broke apart for a moment as they stumbled backwards. Ron instinctively snaked an arm around Draco’s waist to keep him from falling, and Draco still gripped Ron’s shirt in one hand and his upper arm with his other. Ron’s free hand caught the wall they had backed into, and Draco made a disgruntled noise despite the fact that Ron had tried to lessen the impact.
“You alright?” Ron whispered hoarsely, their noses still touching.
“Shut—“ but Draco couldn’t finish because Ron’s firm lips had caught his own again. His tongue ran teasingly across Draco’s upper lip and the Slytherin replied by catching the other boy’s bottom lip between his teeth. Someone moaned, or maybe it was both of them, but in any case it caused their parted lips to find each other’s once more.
A deliberate cough finally interrupted them, and Draco’s small shove to Ron’s chest caused the redhead to back up a step finally and dazedly turn. The young couple that had been walking by had peculiar looks on their faces, and Ron tried to look nonchalant as brought a hand to wipe at his slightly swollen lips before trying a bit of a smile and awkward wave.
The man ushered the woman into the pub, and Ron turned back to Draco to find him comfortably composed and leaning against the brick wall with a smirk, “Your face is purple.”
“I can’t—you just…” Ron was trying to catch his breath and understand his feelings at the same time, and neither of those things were willing to be under his control, “You’re alright with this?”
“You’re not?” Draco challenged, sudden anger hardening his face.
“It’s not exactly normal,” Ron rushed, his eyebrows narrowing to imitate Draco.
“After all that’s happened, you’re worrying about being normal?” Draco’s eyebrows rose a bit in amusement, and Ron only scowled all the more.
“Well you don’t go and snog someone when you’ve already told them that you should forget having ever snogged them before!” Ron raged as quietly as he could.
“We both admitted that neither of us could forget it,” Draco argued smoothly, “and I knew what I wanted, so I just waited for you.”
Ron gaped, his face furiously turning purple once more as he tried to think of how he could possibly respond to that.
“You should be thanking me,” Draco instructed helpfully, “you’re horrible at figuring out feelings. Hence my theatrics in there—“ Draco gestured to the pub, and then pushed off from the wall and slowly ambled past Ron, “—which proved rather astoundingly that…you want me.”
Sputtering, Ron was still gaping as the blond opened the door to the pub and carelessly held it open for the redhead, “Coming, Wealsey?”
“You mean…” Ron took a couple of steps towards the door, “you already knew that you wanted me?”
One eyebrow arched as Draco gave a suggestive grin, and then explained Ron’s unanswered question, “I didn’t say anything. Thought you might punch me or something.”
In one last bout of breathless, heart-fluttering humiliation, Ron wound up and punched Draco so hard in the shoulder that the boy flung back and hit the door with a thud before letting go of the handle in order to cradle the injury with a hiss.
“What the hell, Ron,” Draco raged.
Finally satisfied at the situation, Ron winked at the scowling blond boy and ushered him into the pub, “You were right, git.”
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