The rather warm fall night was a nice surprise, as he stalked from the ministry of magic to the Leaky Cauldron. He would have normally apparated but his job was eating away at his soul and needed the time to dissociate from it. He had taken an Auror job after the war to get out of time in Azkaban. Using his intel to help track down the last of the death eaters, or the ones that were trackable. Now that they were mostly all caught the job got harder. It was a lot of paperwork, catching underground sells and poaching, it was hard in the sense that staying awake in his cubicle was a daily challenge.
He quickly shook the thoughts of work away, watching the muggles again. A few had almost bumped into him on the sidewalk, making him scoff and jump out of the way before his shoulder could graze theirs. Just because his views changed slightly after the war didn't mean that they were any less insignificant to Draco, they were still at the bottom of the hierarchy in this world.
There was no changing that.
Draco turned down a more quiet street, the sounds of muggles living their sad Friday night lives drifting away as he approached the restaurant. When flinging the door open he revealed more sounds of chatter and chaos. There were looks at Draco, there always were, whether they be looks of pity or looks of pure hatred. He scanned the crowd to find the only smiling face gazing at him.
He walked up to where he was sitting at the bar, "Draco mate, don't look so excited to be here." Blaise said standing and reaching his arms out, the firewhiskey in his glass almost sloshing out of it.
"I'm just as excited to be here as everyone else seems to be" Draco muttered as people continued to glare and whisper under their breaths as if they were being clever. He took a seat next to Blaise at the bar as he pretended to ignore the unwelcomeness of others. He called the bartender over to get his order of firewhiskey in. He couldn't get his hands on it fast enough it seemed.
"Hey, not everyone thinks you're a hardened war criminal," Blaise said giving him a shove with his elbow.
"Yeah, some of them think I'm a depressed widower." Draco gave him a sarcastic smirk back. The tender left his drink in front of him, in which Draco drank half of it in one long gulp.
"Aren't you?" Draco rolled his eyes at the comment and gave him a stern look.
“No,” he said shortly. He twirled the glass on the counter with his slender hands, letting his rings graze on the glass every so often, causing a small sound to reverberate off of it.
Blaise leaned over closer to him so he could whisper. “You’re not fooling us” Draco pushed him away before Blaise bellowed out a laugh. “Seriously though Malfoy, you have barely dated since her. A few hookups here and there don’t count” Blaise patted his shoulder harshly, causing him to thrust forward in his chair.
“I’m telling you I’m fine. It’s been 5 years. I miss her... and him dearly but I'm not hung up on it anymore.” He put his hand on his thigh and looked down before continuing. "I'm getting back out there-"
”Good cause I was talking to this one-”
“Not with your recommendations Zabini” Draco raised an eyebrow at him and smirked.
“Well you don’t put yourself out there much, that's the problem.”
“No the problem is everyone sees me as a war criminal or a broken window. I’ve had plenty of girls ask me out, Thanks.” Draco spat. Not adding that he’s fairly confident that the women who have asked him out wanted to fix the ‘poor old wreck’ that was his life. So, he either turned them down or slept with them, before never seeing them again. Though the second option was starting to get tiresome.
“Alright, alright. What’s got your knickers in a twist big boy?” Blaise teased.
“Potter got the promotion,” he said through his clenched jaw, staring down at his swirling drink.
“You’re kidding” Blaise breathed out.
“Head Auror Harry Potter. Gotta say it doesn’t surprise me. Though I was keeping my fingers crossed for you. You did work a lot harder on rounding up the death eaters than anyone else in that damn place.”
“All for nothing,” Draco said through a sigh and shrugged.
”If you’re not trying to sell the depressed widow thing, you should keep trying. Because right now I'm buying a broken man with a dead wife” Blaise said softly into his glass.
”Sorry, just a long day. Long week. All I want to be able to do is go out for a drink without being gawked at and snickered about” He said the last part of his sentence louder so people would know they were not subtle with their gawks and whispers.
“We could try a muggle place, I know of a good one just right up the road” Blaise stated as he directed his hand the opposite way Draco had come. He looked at him trying to read if Blaise was messing with him or being serious.
“Absolutely not, their bars are filth-”
“Have you ever even been in one?” Draco opened his mouth to speak but closed it quickly after. Diverting his attention away from Blaise. “See? How can you know they’re filthy if you’ve never gone?”
”And you have?”
”Yes, once.” Blaise shrugged. “But it was honestly one of the best bars I’ve been in” Draco rolled his eyes.
”And how did you end up there?”
”Just thought I’d give it a go is all. Plus there’s no one gawking or whispering at you, just muggles. They don’t know your name, or your life. You can relax” he tapped Draco lightly with his shoulder again and wiggled his eyebrows.
“Around muggles though?”
“Yes, Draco, around muggles. You’ll find they’re not quite as repulsive as you think they are.” Draco stood and grabbed his jacket from the back of his chair. Downing the rest of his drink in another big gulp before slamming it down and laying his jacket over his back again.
”Okay, you’ve convinced me. But if it’s crap we’re leaving” he said wagging a finger into Blaise’s face like a mother would to a child. Blaise stood from his chair and smirked at him.
“Deal” Draco ushered Blaise to lead the way out of the pub and back into the warm streets of London. The smell of fresh rain hitting Draco’s senses once again as they walked down the empty road.
“How has Daphne been?” Draco asked as he kicked a loose pebble along with their strides.
“Pretty stressed. St. Mungo’s was busy all week, so she’s been in a right awful mood.” Blaise scoffed. “Can’t blame her though. I admire that she became a healer after everything. I feel like we had to work harder to prove ourselves, and she did exactly that” he smiled as their feet shuffled. They eventually turned a corner into a more vibrant street. Blaise led the way to a place called Maggie’s Tavern. He opened the door and bowed before Draco causing a quick chuckle to leave Draco’s mouth. When he walked in, it was unexpected. Exposed brick with small white lights and vines covering the ceilings, it was dim but not as dark and meek as the leaky cauldron. “Impressed?”
“I’m not disappointed... yet,” Draco added quickly before they stepped up to the side of the bar. It covered the length of the far wall, with few seats open but the two they had approached.
“Evening gentlemen” a man with a scruffy beard and big green eyes grunted at us from the other side. He was adorned in all black attire as it seemed the rest of the bartenders had been as well. “What can I get you this evening?” He asked wiping out a clean glass with his white cloth before whipping it over his shoulder and putting the glass away.
“Scotch,” Blaise said. Draco looked at him slightly confused. He wasn’t sure what a muggle bar had for drinks, he just knew they were not the same as within the wizarding world unless he wanted wine. The bartender noticed his hesitation and broke the silence.
“What kind of drinks do you normally like? Fruity, strong, smoky-”
”Smoky” Draco said as he heard a taste he enjoyed within his alcohol.
“Great next question, big spender or cheap bloke?” He asked with a smile.
“Uh..." Draco let out a breath as he thought, "Fuck it, it's been a long week. Big spender.” he said raising his arms and allowing them to fall onto the counter.
“I’ve got just what you need. The name is Vlad, just shout if you need anything else” he pat the counter before moving away. Draco watched as he moved towards a door in the back, disappearing through it. He didn't think about it much as he saw the other bartenders filling drink orders right in front of him.
Draco found himself watching the door as people came in and out, catching glimpses of a bright white kitchen and people bustling around. When a smaller body walked through he’d removed his gaze. He saw out of the corner of his eye the same body walking toward them, making a quick stop to pour out a drink into a crystal clear glass. "Scotch?" He heard a soft voice call. He turned his head to meet the girl with brunette hair pulled back and a soft smile across her lips.
"That'd be me darling" Blaise said raising his hand slightly. Draco rolled his eyes at him, always a bit of a flirt he's been. She put the glass down and walked away. Draco watched her hips sway back to another customer. "Damn, if all muggles looked like her I'd be down to clown" Draco turned and glared at his friend as he sipped his drink. "What? You're saying you wouldn't tap that?"
"Would you stop with the so-called expressions for sex, they're fairly disturbing." Draco let out a chuckle as his gaze turned forward again. He tried to keep his eyes elsewhere as he discussed with Blaise about more updates from their lives, but they kept finding their way back to her. The way she floated from one place to another, her head being thrown back into a laugh, and the way her hands worked the bottles of booze as she crafted drinks. Draco had zoned out, playing with his ring and watching her that he hadn't noticed Vlad coming back, carrying an elaborate drink with a small amount of smoke evaporating from the top.
"Rum Martinez," He said putting it down in front of him. Draco hesitantly took it from the coaster in front of him and took a small sip, trying not to inhale the smoke traveling toward his nostrils. When he sipped it he tasted the smokiness right away but was left with an aftertaste of honey and what seemed to be vanilla. His eyes went wide, as he looked at it.
"That is... wow.. that's" Draco stuttered, trying hard not to compliment him.
"It's from a Japanese bartender. I learned it on my last trip there, absolutely phenomenal." Vlad gushed. "They usually serve it with a cigar to match the tones, but we're a non-smoking bar, so we can't do that." Draco's brain was still whirring with the confusion that a muggle had made this perfect concoction.
"This is honestly the best drink I've ever had," he admitted, though somewhat hesitantly.
"Good, I'm glad. I'm here every Friday if you want more. I'm the only guy in London who has the instruments to make the damn thing" He said with a smirk. "Well, I'll leave you to it. Again, give me a shout if there is anything else I can get for you" He gave another big smile before turning away.
"You can say it now," Blaise said leaning over to him.
"That I know what I am talking about, and this is a great bar. Muggle or not." Draco turned to look at him with a smug look on his face and an eyebrow raised. He let out a scoff and a laugh before seeing that his expression was still there,
"Fine, it's not bad" Draco shrugged taking another tender and small sip from his drink, trying to make it last. "I guess some muggles aren't completely useless" He had said softly. Blaise had a content smile across his face as they continued to talk for a while longer. As he finished his scotch and looked at the time, he went on for too long about how he and Daphne were trying for a baby still and the timing needs to be just right. Something Draco really didn't need to know. So by the time he checked his wristwatch he'd paid and bolted out the door within minutes.
Draco soon finished his drink and paid as well, giving a thanking nod to Vlad on the way out. As he walked to an apparition point he tried to disconnect again. Leaving out of an atmosphere where he didn't have a reminder of his life, made it all came flooding back upon reality.
The occasional dinners with mother or drinks with Blaise and Daphne were really all he had left. With his father rotting in Azkaban without visiting privileges it was as if he didn't even exist anymore, which caused Draco more happiness than it should. He was the reason for most of Draco's woes in life currently, his mother's as well.
He made it to the apparition point and disapparated to the manor quickly, still early for his dinner with his mother. He made it a point to visit her when he could, being alone in the manor for years after having his father there than having Astoria and Draco there to suddenly being alone. Draco felt terrible for leaving, but he couldn't stand to be in there after her death. He made his way up the gravel drive and through the extravagant front doors.
"Draco darling" She purred upon his entrance as if she were waiting for him.
"Mother," He said with a smile before kissing her cheek. She gave him a tight hug.
"I know you’re early but I had dinner prepared early too, not much else to do around here” she said with a laugh, “Come." She waved him toward the smaller dining room. There were two places set perfectly, as the house-elves were bringing in the many dishes.
"Don't you think there's a bit much for just two people mum?" He asked with a low chuckle. She waved his comment away as she sat, putting the cloth napkin in her lap.
"Nonsense, my son always deserves the best" she smiled back up at him. Draco shook his head with the corner of his mouth lifting softly. He copied his mother in laying out his napkin. He started serving himself along with her before she asked him about work.
"You deserved that promotion" She scoffed under her breath.
"Yes well, there's not much we can do." He sighed cutting into his roast.
"What about dating? Seeing anyone?" She gave a soft suggesting smile.
"Mother you ask me every visit and the answer is always the same."
"Well, you're 27 years old. Most of your friends from school have heirs now-"
"-most of my friend's spouses didn't die of blood malediction during pregnancy." He said abruptly, causing his mother to take a sharp breath before looking down at her plate. "Sorry, mum. Dating just isn't easy these days, especially as a Malfoy. You understand don't you?" she nodded reluctantly before giving a small smile of pity.
"Yes dear, I'm just anxious to be a grandmother. Have some rascals running around the manor." She let out a small laugh as her smile faltered. "Maybe we can-"
"Please don't finish that sentence." He said with a bit of sadness behind his voice. He knew where she was going and he really couldn't bear to say no to his mother so many times in one night. "Let's just enjoy our visit." She nodded and brought her attention back to her food.
"You're welcome to stay tonight," She said softly. Draco nodded hesitantly.
"Course mother, I would love to"
When dinner was finished, as well as their after-dinner wine, Draco trudged up to his old bedroom. Now renovated so he wouldn't see memories of her when he walked in. He quickly stripped down to his boxers and curled into his green silk sheets. Taking in the smell of clean laundry against his pillow, closing his eyes in preparation to sleep. He barely noticed a flash of brown pulled back hair and hips swaying before he was out cold.