Rating/Warnings: PG, fluff.
Summary:An amateur Quidditch league offers the opportunity for Harry and Draco to become reacquainted, much to Draco’s chagrin.
Disclaimer: The characters of the Harry Potter world belong to JKR, I use them only for fun.
A/N:Written for tabiji for the hd_holidays fic exchange fest.
It was supposed to be a friendly thing -- a chance to mend fences and heal old wounds. Former Hogwarts students from all of the houses had agreed to get together for a few amateur Quidditch games. Charlie Weasley, Quidditch hero of his day, had gotten it into his head that people needed something to focus on, something to think about other than the War and its aftermath. Inquiries were made all around and eventually he found enough interested players to get four teams together. They would mix and match the teams, so there would be no House loyalties to infringe on the competition. It would all be random pickings from a hat. No one would know who they were playing with or against until they showed up.
The War was over, several years behind them actually, and while open animosity was rarely expressed, old hurts were still there. Although it was never directly spoken of or openly acknowledged, this tension was omnipresent; it filtered the lens through which nearly everyone viewed the world. From the glances across tables in the Leaky Cauldron to the bank lines at Gringotts, it was everywhere. Snide comments. Pointed glares. Intentional snubs.
Quidditch was a universal Wizarding language. Almost everyone loved it. Almost everyone followed it rabidly. Star professional players were worshiped like gods and paid ridiculous amounts of money. Charlie figured a few low-key games would bring out enough competitive spirit to be fun and that mixing it up would have the added benefit of keeping everything friendly.
Charlie dragged Harry and Ron into the planning stages. They were given the chore of coming up with four team names, colors and mascots, all of which had to be unrelated to the professional teams (trademark infringement was to be avoided). It went without saying that they were to use nothing even loosely resembling House colors or names.
Splayed across a booth bench in the Leaky Cauldron, Ron, who often thought with his stomach, offered up the first suggestion.
“We could name them after foods, Harry. No House associations there, and certainly no self-respecting Quidditch team uses them.”
Harry’s opinion of that idea showed in his expression. “What? You mean like ‘The Chocolate Frogs’ or something?”
Ron grinned in response. “Yeah. Why not? Nobody really cares about the team names anyway. They can be brown and white. Hmmm … what else? How about ‘The Pumpkin Pasties’? Orange and blue for them.”
Harry laughed and gave in to the crazy idea. “Okay, then. Another team can be ‘The Treacle Tarts’,” he said, thinking of his favorite dessert. “Yellow and green, I think, for them. I guess ‘Spotted Dick’ wouldn’t go over all that well.”
It wasn’t really a question, but Ron shook his head anyway for emphasis. “Probably not. The girls on that team would not be happy, that’s for certain. Or maybe they would?” he mused.
Silence followed as they both tried to come up with the final team. Ron’s quiet, “Bangers and mash is probably no good” went without comment from Harry.
“How about ‘The Fizzing Whizbees’?” Harry finally asked. “They could have any color we want, since they come in all colors. Let’s give them purple and red.”
Ron smiled and nodded, writing down the last of the teams. “Brilliant. Now, I’m hungry. I think we should reward ourselves with some dinner.” He hailed the barmaid with a shower of sparks from his wand.
Draco hadn’t been excited about anything in a long time. His career was solid and predictable. His life, alone in the Manor, was satisfactory, but occasionally tiresome. He had friends and saw them regularly, but they had lives and families and other interests. Draco was bored. He was in a rut. And when he got wind of an amateur Quidditch league forming, suddenly he saw a way out of the rut.
It had been ages since he’d been on a broom. Draco was secretly looking forward to the chance to test his physical limits again. He’d been bound to a desk, an office and paperwork for so long that he was nervous about being out of shape. He’d taken up running to build up his wind. Heavy breathing would not be as attractive on his broom as it usually was in bed. Not even the thought of playing on the same team with a few Hufflepuffs could put him off. He was determined to excel at this and he prayed to all the gods to not be put on the same team as Charlie Weasley or Harry Potter. He desperately wanted to be Seeker.
Of course, it went without saying that he needed the best broom his fabulous wealth could buy. A private appointment with the owner of Quality Quidditch Supplies had been very satisfactory, and the Maverick 4000, a new prototype broom available only to professional players and considered among many to be the world’s best, was his for a small fortune.
Harry felt gloriously free as he whizzed around the pitch, dodging other players and occasionally waving to people that he recognized. He was, perhaps, a little too excited about his first match in this amateur league thing. It was meant to be fun, but his competitive side, which hadn’t been prodded much lately, had come blazing to the fore. He was ready to kill the opposition, figuratively speaking. Of course, wearing a dung-brown shirt with white lettering boldly announcing that he played for ‘The Chocolate Frogs’ took some of the solemnity out of the situation.
He was to be a Beater in this game, not a position he was used to playing. Riding a broom while holding a bat took quite a bit of skill, not to mention that he was meant to swing at a large flying ball and hit it with all his might. But he was game to try.
He and Malfoy had ended up on the same team. He had thought drawing names from a hat would be a good idea; he couldn’t have been more wrong. Of course, he hadn’t expected the great and wealthy Draco Malfoy to actually lower himself enough to play Quidditch with the masses, but here he was. There had been a bit of a kerfuffle when everyone realized that there were two strong Seekers on the team, but eventually Harry had suggested they switch off the position, playing it every other game.
Malfoy had nodded tightly and said, “Fine, but I play Seeker first.”
Thus Harry found himself with bat in hand, trying to stay on his broom, but excited nonetheless. Not even Malfoy could dampen his enthusiasm.
Draco was still fizzing from his last bold dive and grab at the Snitch that had won them their first game. His new teammates had mobbed him when he landed, holding the fluttering gold ball aloft and grinning wildly. They had made their way off the pitch in a loud, sweaty mass. It was roundly agreed that drinks at the Leaky Cauldron were a necessary follow-up; they had Apparated almost immediately.
After the initial congratulations, people had mostly left Draco alone. He was sitting among the others at a large table in a back corner but not really contributing to the after-game analysis. The general public still seemed unsure exactly how to react to Draco. His status as a spy in the war was acknowledged and understood, but his former associations, and certainly his family name, made it difficult for anyone to feel comfortable around him.
“Hey, Malfoy! It’s lucky your pretty little arse didn’t topple off the broom on that last dive.”
Potter. He was the only one who wasn't treating him differently -- the only one who was willingly engaging him in conversation, or questioning his skills. Potter wasn't intimidated by him. Draco supposed that killing Voldemort gave one that kind of confidence.
“Luck? You call that luck? It was pure, unadulterated talent, Potter, borne of years of highly specialized training and, of course, the best equipment known to the wizarding world.”
Draco smiled broadly and added, “If you hadn’t been so busy ogling my ‘pretty little arse’ you might have actually managed to aim the Bludger at something other than the ground. You need practice.”
The table erupted in laughter. Roger Davies pushed a bottle of Butterbeer in Draco’s direction with a nod of his head. Derrick, the only other Slytherin on the team, raised his eyebrows in acknowledgment and then resumed a conversation with the pretty Ravenclaw to his left. Draco and Potter ended up in a staring contest, as neither would look away. Harry’s grin grew proportionally wider as Draco’s eyes narrowed. The moment was broken when the girl sitting between them stood to leave, claiming commitments at home. The others got up to go as well, tossing handfuls of coins on the table.
Just as they were leaving, Potter leaned over and whispered quietly in Draco’s ear, “You’re probably right. Your arse is quite distracting.” With that he snagged his coat and Apparated away.
Harry was nervous. Agitated, even. Their game against ‘The Treacle Tarts’ (the name always made him smile) was this afternoon. He’d be playing Seeker. While it might not be professional Quidditch, he didn’t fool himself into thinking it was anything other than serious competition. Malfoy would never let him live it down if he didn’t catch the Snitch today, not after last week’s spectacular win. He had to admit, Malfoy still had it -- the competitive edge, the need to win and prove himself. He had even managed to grow a sense of humor since his Hogwarts years. Harry rather liked this new Malfoy. He wondered what else had changed in the intervening years.
They didn’t lose, that was a consolation. But, neither did Harry catch the Snitch. Going head-to-head with Charlie Weasley was daunting, and surprisingly rough. Charlie played with a determined physicality that left Harry slightly battered. Charlie kept bumping his broom, swinging elbows wide every time they both tried to chase after the Snitch. It didn’t help when the prat laughed outright, making a game out of it. If it had been anyone other than Charlie Weasley, Harry would have been livid.
In the end, Harry was distracted by the antics below him. Draco and the other Beater were in hysterics trying to bat at the Bludgers and missing completely, swinging at air and losing their balance. Harry had never seen Malfoy so loose and open, it was unnerving. The roar from both teams brought his attention back to the action and the fact that Charlie had his fist in the air.
“Well, Fuck!” was all Harry could manage to get out as he landed on the pitch.
The inevitable post-game by-play included much ribbing of Harry for his inability to catch the Snitch despite his match-up with an older, and thus supposedly slower, player. He tried to defend himself, describing Charlie’s tactics, but no one was having it. The great Harry Potter had not lived up to his name and potential.
Draco didn’t join in the banter, well, not much anyway. He was still on a high from his win the previous week, and willing to be a bit generous with Potter. He was also reluctant to bring attention to himself, as he knew that Potter had taken notice of his complete lack of Beater skills. Distraction was in order. He bought a round of drinks for the table, pushing a bottle towards Potter.
“Drink up, Sport! You’ll get the chance to redeem yourself soon enough.” His voice was just loud enough for Harry to hear and no one else.
Harry accepted the drink with a nod and a smile. “Yeah, about that. I was actually thinking that maybe I would stick to Beater, and you could take up the Seeker position on a regular basis.”
Silently, Draco crowed in triumph. “Now, Potter. Don’t go all martyr on me. I saw the way Weasley was roughing you up. You just need to toughen up a bit. Your Seeker skills will come back to you in no time.” Draco was feeling magnanimous. If he was being completely honest with himself, he kind of liked this new and improved Harry Potter. Draco had grown up a bit since his school days of Potter-baiting, and obviously so had Harry. He responded with humor, now, instead of anger.
Harry just shook his head. “Maybe, but I also saw the way you played Beater, or rather, didn’t play Beater. This is probably the best arrangement all around.”
Draco pretended to pout at the barb, but inwardly he was thrilled. He knew he was meant to be Seeker, and although he wasn’t entirely certain of Potter’s motivations in giving up the position, he would take it. “All right. If that’s what you want. I can’t say that I’ll be sad not to swing a bat like a Neanderthal any longer.”
“Hey! I’m not a Neanderthal, Malfoy,” Potter said, trying to sound offended, but the laugh belied the sentiment.
“Time will tell, Potter.” Draco slipped off the bench and said his farewells to the rest of the team.
Harry was intrigued. This new and improved Malfoy had captured his attention. He was subdued, but funny. Smug, but not mean. Private, and yet somehow not snobbish. It confused Harry, threw him off-balance and made him look twice, even three times. Draco defied expectation.
When Harry showed up on Saturday and Malfoy was nowhere to be seen, there was a pang of disappointment. Derrick mentioned that Draco had had some kind of family emergency or work-something and wouldn’t make the game. Harry was to play Seeker, and one of Derrick’s cousins visiting from Ireland would play Beater.
It was not a good game. Clearly, Malfoy was a distraction whether he was present or not. Harry caught the Snitch, but only just. He skipped the requisite drinks afterward and headed directly home. Somehow, the thought of drinks without Malfoy around to banter with just didn’t interest him. He was also just a little bit worried about Malfoy. Should he track him down to make sure everything was all right? No. He was pretty sure that Draco wouldn’t appreciate any interference from Harry.
He hated being confused, even more than he hated being out of control. At the moment, he felt both.
“Oi, Malfoy! We missed you last week. We almost didn’t win.” The voice carried across the pitch as Draco was preparing to mount his broom and head into the sky. Draco turned to Davies, who had called out to him.
“But, I heard Potter did catch the Snitch. Our record is still perfect, no?” Draco asked the team at large, looking around for Potter.
“Yeah, he did catch it, but just barely. He was off his game. It just wasn’t the same without you. Glad you’re back,” Davies yelled back to him.
Draco nodded in response, and was very glad that he was far enough away that Davies couldn’t see him flush. Unexpected kindnesses from unexpected people made him uncertain, but he privately enjoyed the fact that his teammates were learning to like him. These Saturday games were quickly becoming very important to him. He had been more than a little disappointed to have missed last week’s game.
“I’m glad you’re back as well, Malfoy.” Potter’s voice rumbled low and close. Draco whipped his head around and his broom nearly collided with Potter’s. A steadying hand reached out and grasped the broom.
Before Draco could respond, Potter had flown off, meeting up with the other Beater for a strategy session. Draco was unsettled. Was he just being friendly? Or something else entirely? With Potter, one could never be sure. Taking a deep breath, Draco shook it off. Thinking about Harry Potter would not be good for his game.
“So, the Chosen One has finally decided to have fun again and join us for the after-game drinks?” Derrick’s voice rang across the table. “We felt a bit shunned last week, Potter.”
Harry shrugged, uncomfortable under the scrutiny. He was sitting next to Draco and so didn’t really want to pursue this line of conversation right now. “I had someplace I had to be.”
“You didn’t come last week? Even after catching the Snitch for your team? Potter, what kind of teammate are you?” Draco asked.
Harry took a drink to avoid answering right away. He wanted to be honest, but didn’t want to startle Malfoy into glibness. This was no one else’s concern. Deciding that honesty was the best policy and probably the best defense, he raised his eyebrows and said, “You weren’t here. Who would I have had to insult?”
When Draco didn’t respond at all, just sat staring at Harry as if he had sprouted horns, Harry decided to press his luck. He surreptitiously stretched out his legs under the table and pushed his calf up against Draco’s.
Draco shied away from the physical contact and shakily took a sip from his own bottle. Harry could see that he had unnerved Draco, both with his action and his words. The entire interaction had gone unnoticed by the group. People were beginning to stand and gather money for the bill. Draco remained sitting, so Harry did as well.
In a few minutes, just Harry and Draco were left at the table. Draco still hadn’t said anything. Harry busied himself with counting and organizing the money. He decided not to push his luck any further. Draco hadn’t left, hadn’t stood up in a huff, hadn’t pushed him away or glared at him or insulted him. Neither had he smiled, or laughed, or given any kind of encouragement, and so Harry decided to back off slightly.
Draco stood suddenly. “Good game, Potter. I need to return home. See you next Saturday.” He turned and began winding his way out of the pub, dodging chairs and people.
Harry watched him go. That wasn’t quite the reaction he was hoping for.
Mystified didn’t even begin to describe Draco’s emotional state. Potter’s behavior was strange and unexpected and Draco didn’t like it one bit. He didn’t like not knowing other people’s motivations. Why the hell would Harry Potter be flirting with him? For that was what he was doing, Draco decided. The leg thing had been loud and clear; it just couldn’t be interpreted in any other way. Before this Quidditch thing Draco had never given over much thought to Potter’s sexuality, but clearly attraction to men was an option for him.
This game, Draco was just going to ignore Potter and his odd displays. Ultimately, there wasn’t much to ignore. Potter kept his distance and played his game of Quidditch, managing to be semi-successful as Beater. At the end, he gave the Bludger a good, hard thump, whacking it into Cho Chang, who got knocked off course enough for Draco to swoop in and snag the Snitch. It was a nice bit of teamwork and the grin that Harry flashed at Draco was dazzling and genuine. Draco’s stomach flipped at the sight of it. He quickly turned away in confusion. Was he attracted to Potter?
Later, as the team trooped into The Leaky Cauldron for drinks and such, Draco made a valiant effort to not sit with Potter, actively avoiding him. But, Potter either Potter was unbelievably clever or Draco was just remarkably unlucky, as Harry still managed to maneuver a position next to Draco. The pub was more crowded than usual and so the team was budged around a smallish table. Harry was pressed up close to Draco, shoulders and legs bumping occasionally. Draco flinched at every little touch.
“That was a nice bit of Bludger-work there at the end, Harry. Your Beater skills are improving rapidly,” said the young Ravenclaw girl, whose name Draco consistently forgot.
Harry lounged back in his chair, shrugging humbly. “Thanks. It’s been fun slamming that thing around, I have to admit. Great way to work out some frustration.” He casually draped an arm across the back of Draco’s chair. “Malfoy and I make a great pair.”
Draco was frozen in place, his head buzzing with adrenaline and alcohol, Potter’s proximity making things worse. People moved on to other conversations and Draco realized that no one had given Harry’s comment any thought at all. He relaxed marginally and reached for his drink. Just as he did, he felt Harry’s hand idly trace a pattern on his back, a move hidden from everyone. Without much thought, Draco jerked to his feet.
Everyone stopped talking to look up at him.
“I…I’ve got to go,” Draco stammered to his team. “I’ll see you next week.” He bolted for the door.
He didn’t see Harry’s smile fade as his hand still lazily traced patterns in the air, moving as if Draco hadn’t left at all.
Harry was surprised to see Draco waiting for him when he arrived at the pitch the following week. He was certain that Draco would do anything to avoid him completely after his escape last week. But Draco approached him directly, eyes blazing.
“I don’t know what your game is, Potter, but I don’t like it. Maybe it’s some form of revenge for besting you at being Seeker, perhaps just a mind game to get back at me for all those years at school. Whatever it is, I want you to stop harassing me. Stop flirting with me. Just … stop.” Draco seemed to run out of steam as he ran out of things to stay.
This was the Malfoy that Harry remembered, well, a de-clawed version of him anyway, and it sparked a bit of defiance in Harry. Verbally tangling with him was something to be enjoyed, especially now that he knew he could get under Draco’s skin.
“No game, Draco,” Harry said, emphasizing the use of the first name. “I just wanted to know you better. I’m intrigued. It wasn’t meant as revenge for anything, and …” Harry trailed off for a second, searching for words. “Well, I like you.”
Clearly Draco wasn’t expecting honesty. He opened his mouth a couple of times, starting a thought, but never finishing it. Finally, he managed to croak out a brief, “Well…don’t.”
Harry’s eyebrows shot up at that. “Don’t what? Don’t like you? Don’t flirt with you? Don’t talk to you? Sorry, I can maybe restrain myself from flirting, but I can’t help but like you, and I will talk to you. We are on the same team, and have been doing a pretty damn good job of it. It’ll look strange if we suddenly stop talking, and besides, I don’t want to stop.” Harry’s voice lowered as he continued, and he allowed a flare of annoyance to show in his eyes.
Draco gaped and then, surprisingly, backed off. “I … well … yes, I mean no. Talking is fine. Just stop flirting. I don’t like it.”
“Bullshit. It makes you nervous, even I can see that. But, I think you do like it, even if you can’t admit it.” Harry offered up a smile and then walked off to join the team. Throwing Draco off-balance was fun, almost as much fun as playing Quidditch.
The Chocolate Frogs lost for the first time. Draco hadn’t seen the Snitch once throughout the game, of course he’d been more focused on avoiding Potter than looking for that damned golden ball.
It was a subdued group at the Leaky Cauldron and Draco felt particularly responsible. The Chasers had managed to get quite a few points, but in the end it just hadn't been enough. He was disconcerted to see Potter with a sly smile.
“What’s funny, Golden Boy?” Draco asked.
Harry’s grin stretched wider and he shrugged his shoulders. “I’d like to think that I had something to do with your not catching the Snitch today. You’re generally so focused on winning, but today you seemed a bit off?” Harry ended the statement as more of a question with a raise of his eyebrows.
Draco wanted nothing more than to lay the blame at Potter’s feet. But, to admit that meant acknowledging the distraction. There was no way that Draco was going to let Potter know that his little seduction was working, that Draco was thinking about him, looking at him, wondering about him. He shuddered inwardly at that admission. It would never do; there was just too much history between them for anything other than congenial civility.
“Don’t flatter yourself, Potter. As much as you’d love to be the source of my pathetic display today, I have only myself to blame. I think I’m coming down with something.” Draco cleared his throat for emphasis.
Harry’s response was a nod that indicated he clearly wasn’t convinced. “Well, our last game is next week. Hope you’ll be feeling better by then.” Harry got up to go, gathering up his belongings and searching for money. He looked at Draco for a second before adding, “You won’t be plagued with my presence anymore after that.”
Draco nodded absently as he watched Potter leave, but he was unable to come up with an appropriate response to that statement. Had Potter suddenly decided to give up his strange pursuit of Draco, even after he had suggested that he wouldn’t? Draco was confused by his own reactions to the man. He was willing to admit to himself that Potter was looking pretty good these days. He was even willing to admit that, maybe, just maybe, there was more to Potter than Draco had originally given him credit for. But there was no way in all of Hades that he would admit that the thought of not seeing Harry after next Saturday was disappointing. No, not at all.
Harry had told Draco last week that this would be the last time they would see each other. But that was not what Harry wanted at all. He wanted to see Draco again. He desperately wanted to see him alone, not surrounded by grimy, sweaty Quidditch players all knocking back alcohol. At first, Harry had figured it would have to be on Draco’s terms, but his thinking had taken a turn during the course of the week.
Draco had said he didn’t like games, so no more games. No more coy leg maneuvers. No more not-so-subtle flirty banter. Harry was an adult; he was going to handle this in an adult manner and Draco would just have to cope. But he was going to wait until after the game. Harry wanted to win this game almost as much as he wanted Draco, and that meant no distractions.
“Good morning!” Harry yelled to the first few teammates that he encountered after Apparating onto the Pitch. He waved at a few that were too far off to hear, using the opportunity to search for Draco. Finally, he caught a glimpse of him, high in the sky doing warm-ups with one of the Chasers.
Davies called the team in for a last minute pep talk before the game. As everyone huddled close, both to hear and for warmth, Harry caught Draco’s eye across the circle. He smiled openly and nodded in greeting. No more games. No more games. No more games, he intoned to himself, willing Draco to understand. The message must have gotten across because Draco offered a small smile and nodded once in reply. Not effusive, but good enough. At least it wasn’t a frown or a two-fingered salute.
The game was a long one, but Draco was in top form despite some nasty weather and nastier Bludger-work from the opposing Beaters. He caught the Snitch, narrowly avoiding a collision with the ground. It was a pile of elated players that landed on Draco in triumph, yelling and cheering. Draco finally emerged from underneath the pile, looking only a little ruffled after being on the receiving end of such physical adulation. He had even managed to maintain his grip on the Snitch, and he held it close to his chest. Harry helped him to his feet and offered a thump on the shoulder and a broad grin of congratulations.
As the team straggled off the field, Harry lagged behind. He was working out different scenarios in which he could casually suggest getting together with Draco in a way that wouldn’t scare him off. Adhering to his latest intention of not playing any games, he was just about to call out Draco’s name when the object of his musings turned around and waited for Harry to catch up.
“All right.” Draco said.
“Yes, what?” Harry asked with a laugh.
“Yes, I’ll have dinner with you Tuesday evening.”
A heartbeat. Two. Then three.
“Oh … but, I didn’t … I mean … I wanted to … but …” Harry trailed off. “Great. Thanks.”
Draco nodded and turned to catch up with the team.
“Draco, wait! Why?”
“Because I took pity on you and wanted to put you out of your misery. Because I could hear your agony from twenty-five feet away.” He paused and readjusted his Quidditch gear. “Because I was, perhaps, a bit short with you last week. I’ve reconsidered the option.”
Harry thought maybe he should be insulted, but the elation and relief overwhelmed the other emotions. “Well, good.”
Draco bumped shoulders with him and then Harry felt Draco slip something cool and round into his hand before he jogged to catch up with the team.
The Snitch reflected the waning sunset as Harry quietly slipped it into a pocket.