"There's been another poach of Chinese Fireball Egg yesterday, believed to be for illegal trade. Can you draft a report?" Harry asked handing him a file.
"Sure thing Potter" His forced smile turning into a frown as he walked away. He slammed the file onto his desk and brought his hands to his face, dragging them down slowly to feel the tension across his skin. Draco never came around to Harry, though it was more professional and friendly than they were in school, he couldn't help but hate that the bloke was appraised and loved on every corner. He'd wish people would look at him like that for once.
Draco shook the thought out of his head immediately.
That's what that thought was. No one would admire him. Ever.
He bit his knuckles and took a deep breath as he released the tension of his thoughts. Draco pulled his sleeve up to look at his watch, half-past three. Almost time. Thankfully it was Friday, but the idea of going home alone like he always did made him ache. He'd always ignore it, push it down. He doesn't need anyone, he's better off alone.
That's what he told himself.
A drink would be nice.
He thought. His mind flashed to the muggle pub Blaise had dragged him to last Friday. He really hated it in the muggle world still, but at least he could blend in there, be a nobody. Be himself. He let out a sigh and whipped open the file to see two measly pieces of information on the poaching. "You've got to be kidding." He muttered under his breath. He worked on the report for another two hours, having to do research and pull together information. Once he was done and stood from his seat, he finally noticed the office was empty.
He walked out from his cubicle and left the report in a mailbox outside of Potter's door before he sauntered out of the Ministry. The warm night he had experienced last week was a fall in England miracle. It had instantly become cold again, with a bite in the air. For that reason, he tried to remember the apparition point he'd left from last week to his mother's, and went there. The cold dark ally drowning out the sounds of the street nearby. There was no way of knowing this was the one he was aiming for without peeking his head out to see if he'd recognize the shops.
He walked towards the glowing lights he remembered, watching as the muggles walked by. Some hand in hand, laughing. Others already drunk from their nights' affairs, he couldn't wait to be on the same page as those ones. When he entered the familiar bar it was just as busy as last week, Draco hesitated by the door questioning what he was doing willingly going into a muggle bar on a Friday night. Without Blaise. He noticed the open place at the bar was the one he sat in last week, gazing his eyes over the people behind the bar and seeing two familiar faces. He decided to bite the bullet and get his drink.
What harm is one, amazing, well-crafted drink?
Draco pulled the chair out and instantly caught the eyes of Vlad, he lifted a small smile and walked toward him.
"Mate, good to see you again!" He smiled "You come back for more?" Draco paused for a moment.
"You recognize me?" He asked with a lifted eyebrow.
"Course I do, that hair is about as bright as a supernova in the dead of night" He smiled softly, Draco could tell his comment was meant to be kind but it had made Draco squirm a bit. "don't worry mate, you pull it off well. I don't think I've seen a bloke that blonde before is all" He again tried to smile any awkwardness away.
"Thank you?" Draco more asked that stated. All Vlad could do was nod politely and smile brightly, like he most always was.
"So I'll get your regular started for you in the back?" Vlad asked, Draco gave a soft node and soon Vlad drifted off, not to be seen again for another ten minutes. Draco didn't seem to really recognize that his eyes found themselves admiring the brunette from across the way. She was making the same movements as last week, her hair now down with more texture that laid over her shoulders. He had noticed that when she smiled at a customer she had small dimples appear on either side of her smile.
"There ya are" Vlad interrupted his thought before he could scold himself for it, walking into view and put his drink down. Draco nodded and lifted the drink to his lips, letting out a long sigh at the relief of alcohol touching his senses.
“how is this made? Why does it take so long?” Draco inquired. Only because he’d wished it had entered his system sooner.
“it involves more... tools than a usual drink. I have to take applewood sticks and singe them. And fill an empty bottle with smoke, before letting the rum, vermouth and other liquors sit in the smoke for 5 minutes. It’s a lot of steps but it’s worth it don’t you think?” Draco nodded taking another sip. "You work around here?" He asked. Draco looked behind him as if he was asking someone else. Even though Vlad was making direct eye contact.
"Yeah kinda" He murmured. Hoping he wouldn't ask any personal questions.
"What do you do?"
Are muggles always this chatty?
As Draco thought about it more, there was no reason for people he knew to ask a Malfoy what his deal was or where he worked. They already knew every detail of his life, but here they didn't. What is a normal answer to that?
"I... find people..." He said hesitantly. Vlad quirked an eyebrow at him.
"Find people? For jobs? Like a recruiter? Or-"
"Yeah. That." He said quickly taking a bit of a large sip from his drink.
"Oh, what company?"
"It's uh, you probably wouldn't know it..."
"That's good shit. Must be paying you well." He said pointing to his drink. Draco gave him a bit of an awkward smile. "I'll be around if you need anything," He said turning away and getting back to work.
Though Draco was alone, he felt at peace. Being able to finally unwind and not think about the reality of his life was something he wanted since the war.
"How'd that date go?" Draco overheard Vlad say, Draco looked up to see Vlad right in front of him with the brunette.
"Same as they always go" She scoffed. Her voice was soft, angelic almost, even though her tone was more so fed up and tired. "Too broken, never enough, you know how it is Vlad." She sighed and poured out a drink.
"They get that from one date?" Vlad scoffed.
"They always do."
"I'll find you, someone." He said confidently. "Just got to find a guy that can put up with you."
"Good luck with that." She giggled and walked away. Bringing the drink she'd crafted to who ever ordered it.
It didn't hit Draco that he was spending so much time watching, practically admiring a muggle. It didn't seem like much, but there was something that made her hyponotising to watch. As if there was a gravitational pull toward her.
He forgot she was a muggle as he sipped on his drink, he forgot everything around him and didn't think about much else.
He finally dissociated from it all. Letting out a long sigh he took the last sip of his drink and Vlad came over soon after.
"Anything else for you?"
"I'm all set Vlad." He said pulling out the muggle money he only seemed to be using in this one place.
"Cheers, coming back next Friday..." He hesitated his words and looked at Draco expectantly. It took a moment before he realized he was asking for his name.
"Draco." He said shortly, as if once he knew his name his reputation would follow, but it didn't.
"Draco, interesting." He said with a nod.
Coming from a guy named Vlad
"See you next Friday?"
"Uh-" Draco wasn't sure he should come back, but after a side glance at the certain brunette he nodded his head. "Sure" he said softly handing Vlad the money.
"Have a good one" He said with a smile, taking his empty glass off the bar.
Draco waltzed out of the bar, once the brisk nighttime air hit is warm skin he'd gotten an odd feeling. A feeling as though he'd sinned. What would people think if they saw Draco Malfoy coming out of a muggle bar... alone. He stalked back to the apparition point so he could get back to his flat quickly. Once he entered he leaned against the door and closed his eyes.
this is ridiculous
I need to stop going
He thought as the palms of his hands rubbed his eyes. He took off the suit he wore to work and walked to the bathroom turning the shower on. He stepped into the cold water and let his thoughts escape with the only feeling being the glacial sensation running down his body. Letting the feeling of hanging out with muggles wash away from him, and pretending it didn't happen. He turned the water warmer and scrubbed the away the feeling of comfort that he once had just a while ago. Getting out and getting into sweats before pouring himself another drink.
He sat in his living room... alone. Let out a long sigh and threw his head back onto the back of his chair. This was every night for him, Draco hated having the feeling of wanting someone, needing someone. He had spent so much of his life feeling alone, when he had a wife he hated that he got so comfortable with it. So comfortable with the feeling of needing someone, someone needing him. He hated that the past 5 years of going on other dates and coming out with women who thought he was broken and fixable.
too broken, never enough, you know how it is Vlad.
Those words replayed in his head, The brunette girl seemed to know what Draco was going through in a way. For whatever reason she'd believed she was broken, though on the outside she looked anything but. This is how Draco found his mind wandered so easily to her, and for whatever reason it always did.
When next Friday came, he was eager to get off of work and just see her again..
He hated that.
But he went anyways, giving a wave to Vlad on the way in.
"Draco, same as last week" Draco gave a nod and he waltzed away. To Draco's dismay he didn't see the brunette anywhere, he let out a sigh of disappointment both for the fact that she wasn't there and for the fact that he was so torn up about her not being there. He may need a second drink tonight.
While he waited he watched the other muggles in the bar, playing with the coaster in front of him. There were a group of young girls in the corner, in tight dresses looking to be getting drunk, one had made eye contact with Draco and gave a soft wink. He tore his eyes away from her quickly to another table where there was a girl on a date with a guy. He seemed very into it but she looked to be occupied with other things as she never looked at him, focusing on anything but. Draco let out a chuckle at the familiar scene, connecting with the girl who had no interest in being there. His eyes drifted again to the end of the bar to see a stalkier man, he had a mustache and beard and was alone. Staring at his drink and sipping away. Draco felt a fear creep up within him that he would end up like this man, alone on a Friday night, sipping alcohol to forget.
Until he realized.
That was him. Right now.
"Here ya are" Vlad said plopping the drink in front of Draco making him flinch back into the present.
"Thanks" He muttered and took an uncharacteristically large gulp of it.
"You okay there? You seem a bit down." Vlad said as he wiped his hands on a towel.
"Are bartenders always so probing in..." the muggle world "these parts" Draco said stopping himself quickly.
"Well, I pride myself on knowing my regulars. You don't have to talk to me if you don't want to though." Vlad said looking at him. Draco let out a sigh and stared at his drink, he didn't say anything but the bulky bartender seemed to think it was an invitation to continue his interview. "You got anyone meeting you tonight?" He asked.
"No..." Draco said taking another gup of his drink.
"Handsome man like you isn't taken?"
Draco looked up at him with a raised eyebrow, "Are you trying to pick me up Vlad? I'm flattered, really, but you're not my type." Draco joked. Vlad let out a bellow of a laugh.
"Nah mate. I'm married, I would only ever be so lucky" He said sarcatically.
"Vlad, table 5 has a specialty cocktail, asked for you to make it" The brunette appeared handing the man a receipt before strutting away to continue what she was doing. Draco hated that his eyes followed her because once they were back to Vlad's he had a mischievous smile on his face.
"I'll be back," He said before turning and going to the area where the liquors were stored. Draco glanced around the bar, trying to be inconspicuous but couldn't find her again. She moved quickly, and seemed to be out of sight one moment, and back in sight within a second before disappearing again. "So, if you don't have a girl what's with the ring?" he pointed to the band on his finger where a wedding ring would be.
"Well, I was married..." He said quietly.
"No kidding.." He said with a soft tone.
"She... passed away about 5 years ago.The ring was a family heirloom I prefer to keep it on." Draco admitted quite easily.
"Well that's why you don't get girls-"
"I never said I didn't get girls Vlad" Draco cut off with a laugh. "It's just hard to find one who doesn't want to fix me.." He admitted again. His face contorted and looked at his drink, if he were anywhere else he would accuse the bartender of lacing his drink with veritaserum.
Vlad must have seen this look before because he let out a chuckle. "Its the alcohol. Going to a bar is like therapy for people who can't afford it." He shrugged nonchalantly.
"But I don't- I never talk- especially with people I barely know" Draco said suspiciously.
"I have a way with people." was all he said with a bit of a proud look on his face. "You don't have to worry about it, bartender drinker confidentiality." He said with a smile before walking away again.
After leaving again that night Draco had to scrub off the comfort he felt. It felt wrong to feel comfort, to be appreciative of the muggles. He scrubbed. and scrubbed. and scrubbed. trying to wash away the sins his father would point out to him. Though in Azkaban, he couldn't help but think of the reaction he would have if he learned about Draco's after work activity on Fridays, how he looked and though about the muggle girl, how he felt... comfort in their presence. He gagged, keeping down the bile that rose at the thought of his father knowing this information. He had an inner struggle with himself
Stop feeling... good around them
Stop looking at the muggle girl and wishing she would so much as look at you,
Stop wishing you could talk to her if even for a moment-
Draco found himself gripping the side of the shower.
"What the fuck is wrong with me" he muttered before turning the water back to cold and trying to let go of his anguish.
Another drink, that's what he needed. Another drink. He'll get it together this week. He won't go next week. He'll resist temptation.
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