?

Log in

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Title: Black Coffee on a Lonely Night (1/2)
Author: femmequixotic
Recipient: tray_la_la
Characters/Pairings: Hary/Draco, past Draco/Astoria
Rating: NC-17
Warnings (highlight to view): non-magical AU, bisexuality
Wordcount: ~21,600 words
Summary: Draco owns a café in the city. Harry's an MP who comes in every morning, newspapers in one hand, BlackBerry in the other, and orders a triple espresso macchiato.
Author's Notes: Much love to cursive and noeon for their support and their suggestions. Many thanks also to my flist for advice regarding cricket and to the highly informative UK Parliament website, and a huge thank you to tray_la_la for the opportunity to write this.



i. November 2006

The day my wife dies, I'm half a world away, having my cock sucked in the filthy loo of a Brisbane pub.

I'd like to say I knew somehow, that in some mystical, primal way I felt the last breath she ever took, but the bald fact of the matter is that, at the precise minute in the middle of a rainy English spring afternoon that Astoria slides across the M25 in a metallic scream of tangled steel and burning rubber, my hands are twisted in Oliver Wood's hair, my prick is wetly fucking a mouth made for cocksucking, my hips are slamming backwards against the metal side of a loo stall as Oliver pressed his tongue against my slit, and the only bloody thing I'm cognizant of is an overwhelming need to spurt spunk down the back of his throat until I'm breathless and shaking.

Does that make me a twat? Some people would say yes. Even among my circle of friends. I don't think Blaise will ever forgive me, but then again, I'm fairly certain he's been in love with Astoria for years, even if he'll shag anything that walks past.

Don't get me wrong. It's not as if Astoria doesn't--didn't--know about Oliver. Or Roger. Or any of the others. We had an arrangement, she and I. The test matches and one-day games England played out of country--well, she didn't particularly care whom I pulled, sucked or fucked off British soil as long as I was discreet and came back and told her every sordid detail afterwards, buried inside of her as we rolled across our wide bed, tangling the sheets with every eager thrust.

The thought of me with other men made her randy. Her prim mother would have been horrified, and Astoria reveled in anything that would set her society parents on edge. I did as well. Sometimes I think that's why she married me. She taught me to reject the hypocrisy we'd been born into, the outwardly proper worldview of wealth that hid a multitude of secrets and sins. Behind her elegant composure, she swore like a sailor; she'd try anything sexually at least once if not twice; she said to hell with our social circle's dictates and mores. She voted Conservative and Labour. She loved to dance. Loved to laugh. She made me feel alive and I adored her for it, no matter how perturbed my parents were that when I'd met her I slowly jettisoned the aristocratic training that for so many years they'd instilled in me.

Not that Astoria's parents were any more delighted with me, mind.

Lady Greengrass never approved of her daughter being involved with a man in sport. She would have been incensed if she knew I enjoyed a prick up my arse from time to time. And I don't even want to think of what the Baron would have said. He'd nearly burst an artery when the photo of me, Anderson and Cook with naught but our bats hiding our balls and pricks appeared in Cosmopolitan in support of a cancer charity. Father had, of course, shared his disgust for entirely the opposite reason. God forbid anyone make light of the sport of gentlemen, after all. What would his fellow members at the Marylebone Cricket Club think?

As if any of us gave a damn about the old bastards any longer. And Christ knows the ECB hadn't objected to the publicity.

Astoria, on the other hand, had bloody loved the idea, as well she should since it had been hers. She'd shagged me raw after the photoshoot. We hadn't even made it home; I'd had to pull the Aston Martin into a Tesco's car park so she could crawl into my lap, her damp knickers pulled aside just enough to let her slide onto my prick with a soft moan as she kissed me.

She died in that car.

Jesus.

Krum's waiting in the lobby of the Sofitel Brisbane, his mobile in his hand. It's our sixth week in Australia; we'd just lost the first Ashes test match and nearly the entire team had found a nearby bar in which to commiserate over beer while our security glowered at the locals.

Oliver has one arm draped around my waist and his hand is trying to slide beneath my shirt in a manner most unbefitting a cricket captain. Neither of us is particularly sober, and all I want to do is drag him up to my room with its breathtaking view of the city and shag him senseless.

Instead I stop short at the look on Krum's face, and Oliver pulls away from me slowly.

"What's wrong?" I choke out. All it takes is Krum's broken Astoria… an accident before my legs give way beneath me and I'm looking up at him from the floor, blankly whispering no, no, no, no as Oliver squats next to me, his hands gentle on my shoulders.

By dawn I'm on a Qantas plane again, numb and exhausted, staring out the window at the river as it disappears beneath the wings.

I've never felt so alone in my life.

***


Greg's waiting for me outside of Heathrow's Terminal Four, smoking a cigarette. When he sees me, he drops the fag, grinding it out with his heel as he stands. His sauce-stained chef's jacket swings open, white against his grey t-shirt and black trousers. He'd earned his first Michelin star six months ago.

He doesn't say anything. Greg's never had to, not in all the years I've known him. Instead he just drapes his arm around my shoulder, pulling me against his tall, burly body. He smells of cigarettes and garlic from the restaurant. There'd been three of us at first, me and Greg and Vince, thick as thieves as children and even more so once our parents had shipped us off to school together at eleven. We'd been inseparable, and Vince and Greg had done everything I'd told them to up until seventh form.

I'd only found out about the drugs when Greg had come to me, worried about Vince. We hadn't known what to do, hadn't known whom to talk to. Perhaps Snape, our form head, might have helped if we'd gone to him, might have told us how to avert the overdose that took Vince's life at the end of May, but I'd been lost in my own world that year; my parents' divorce had shattered everything, as had the revelation that my father had fucked about on my mother with some stupid girl only a few years older than me. Penelope, her name was. Penelope Clearwater. A researcher in my father's office in Westminster.

"Never become a politician, Draco," Mother had said to me calmly over tea when she came to school to tell me the news. "They only know how to lie and obfuscate."

I'd had to look up obfuscate when I'd gone back to my dormitory later. I had to admit it was an accurate description of Father. She needn't have worried about me, however. Not that I wasn't a dab hand at quite a few forms of deception myself. I'm a Malfoy, after all. But I'd no interest in politics. I was cricket-mad from an early age; Father had made certain of that. There are photographs of me at two, holding a tiny cricket bat in a perfect stance, Father squatting beside me in his whites, our blond hair ruffled by the wind.

One's still framed in my study at home, next to a photograph of me in my England whites and my own infant son, sitting in my lap as he chews on the handle of the very same cricket bat.

"Scorpius," I say to Greg as he takes one of my heavy rucksacks from me, hefting it over his wide shoulder with ease. Krum's shipping back the rest of my gear; the last I heard he plans on calling Stuart Broad up from Nottinghamshire to take my place on the team. I don't care now. One blond, right-arm seam bowler's as good as the next, I suppose.

Greg gives me a sideways look. "Your mum's with him."

I nod, swallowing hard as we walked towards the short-term car park. "How is he?" Father had told me Scorpius had been in the car with Astoria, asleep in his infant seat. The emergency team had to cut him out of the twisted metal, his leg fractured in three places, one lung collapsed. They don't know whether he's suffered any kind of brain trauma. Not yet. But he's alive.

The only time I'd heard Father's voice crack over the popping mobile connection had been when he'd told me that.

"Your father's pulled some strings and he's at Great Ormond Street Hospital," Greg says. "They transferred him this morning."

For once I'm grateful for Father's contacts. Great Ormond Street's the best children's hospital in the NHS Trust, but they don't take in every pediatric case.

The car coming around the corner barely misses me. Greg pulls me back onto the kerb with a frown and a "mind yourself, you twit, before your son ends up an orphan."

Only Greg could get away with that at the moment.

"I want to see him." My fingers tighten on the strap of the leather satchel crossing my chest. Grandmother Black had given me that luggage set on my eighteenth birthday and since then it's travelled to nearly every continent. Being a first-class cricketer has its benefits.

Greg tosses his keys. They clank against his palm. "There's spinach quiche and a bottle of Volvic in the car. I'll drive you to hospital if you eat on the way."

There's nothing that Greg thinks can't be solved by a bit of food and drink. I've learned over the years not to fight him. It's not worth the effort and he knows it too, judging by the even look he gives me as we walk up the ramp to the car park.

I shrug. "Fine." I still can't feel anything. I wonder if the cold grip around my heart will ever ease.

Greg squeezes my shoulder but I pull away. I don't want comfort.

Right now, I just want my son.

***


Mother glances up when I push open the door. She looks wan and tired and her usually impeccable hair is tumbling from its pins, but her fingers are tight around Scorpius's small fist.

"Draco," she says quietly. Scorpius is sleeping, a furrow between his arched eyebrows that I know full well means he could wake at the slightest too-loud sigh. His pink mouth is pursed and half-open and wet with drool, and his thick blond curls are rumpled over a wide white gauze plaster taped to his forehead.

He's tiny in the narrow, bright blue and apple green crib near the window, and the beeping machines surrounding him, their wires taped beneath his hospital gown to his chest, make him look smaller still. Scabby scrapes and black-purple bruises mar his pale skin; a green fiberglass cast weighs down his left leg, vivid against the crisp white sheets bunched around his other leg. He clutches a grey bear under one arm. It's his favourite. Astoria had bought it for him two months ago. She'd named it Shoo-shoo, just like hers had been as a child. My breath catches raggedly in the back of my throat, and I stop in the doorway, Greg behind me. My son's eleven months old. He shouldn't be lying here like this.

Rainbows and cheerfully dancing animals and brightly coloured balloons tumble across the walls. The other two beds are empty. I suspect Father's responsible for that. Again, I feel a curious relief--not an emotion I generally associate with him, I must admit.

Greg touches my shoulder, and I step into the room.

"How is he?" I ask softly. We haven't seen a doctor yet; the press had been waiting just outside the hospital doors for me, shouting questions and snapping photos as Greg hurried me past them. I hadn't even realised the news had spread. Stupid of me. One of the nurses had grabbed us as soon as we pushed into the lobby, and she'd led us directly up to Scorpius's room on the fourth floor.

"He'll be all right," Mother says, and she stands, pulling her hand slowly away from Scorpius'. "They want to keep him until the end of the week though."

I can't take my eyes off Scorpius. "What am I going to do?" I whisper. The tightness in my throat is nearly unbearable. I can feel hot tears pricking at my eyes and I fight them back. Malfoys do not cry; it's the first lesson my father taught me as a boy.

Mother moves towards me then, the Beatrix Ong heels she favours clicking sharply against the floor. She reaches for me, and I let her pull me close, burying my face against her wool suit jacket. She strokes my hair, kisses my temple the way she had when I was little and was despondent over a scraped knee or a lost toy. I cling to her, my fingers tight on her arms as I breathe out, a raw, shuddering gasp as the grief mingled with relief rolls over me for the first time.

"My boy, my boy, my beautiful, beautiful boy" Mother murmurs softly, her hands gentle on my back as the tears stream down my cheek and my shoulders tremble and all I can do is grip her tighter, desperate for her not to ever let me go.

***


Father sits next to me at the funeral, silent and stiff. He's never approved of Astoria; he'd considered the Greengrasses far too new to society to acceptably merge with the Malfoy name. “They've only been titled for a hundred years," he'd pointed out to me bitterly ten minutes before I was due to walk down the matrimonial aisle. I'd considered reminding him that Great-grandfather Cornelius had restored our dwindling family fortunes by marrying into a wealthy trade family, but Mother's sharp look as she straightened my tie had stopped me.

There are certain family histories best not spoken of, and Great-grandmother Emily's origins are at the top of the list. Her eldest, my Grandfather Abraxas, had made damned certain of that. Sometimes I wonder what Father would say if he knew I enjoyed prick on the side; then again, a bit of shirt-lifting now and then's practically a cliché, almost tradition for proper public school boys. I'd always wondered about Father and Snape, to be honest. The professor took a bit too much of an interest whenever Father visited me at school.

Halfway through the last hymn I break. It's too much, staring at the white roses and lilies and asters heaped upon the gleaming cherry coffin in front of the altar. They're the same flowers that decorated this same Wiltshire church the day of our wedding. My cheeks are wet before I realise. She's gone. In less than an hour she'll be interred beneath the ground, and Scorpius and I will be alone.

Father's hand brushes my knuckles, lightly. I almost think it's a mistake until his fingers curl around mine with the barest squeeze. He stares forward, mouthing the words of The King of Love My Shepherd Is as the pallbearers step forward to lift Astoria's coffin from its stand.

That simple touch is enough to carry me down the aisle after my wife's body, shoulders straightened and head held high, despite the stinging in my eyes.

I am a Malfoy. I'll act like one.

***


The press is waiting for us outside the church, a small huddled mass of mackintoshes and black umbrellas in the grey summer afternoon rain. Father is on one side of me, Greg on the other, both cutting off the shouted questions about Scorpius and I being hurled my way the moment we step through the gate.

One stops me in my tracks, however. It's from a pink-cheeked girl who looks barely out of journo school. "Are you going back to cricket?" she asks, and I look at her blankly. I haven't thought about it.

"Don't be ridiculous," Father snaps at her. "Of course he is. He's England's best bowler--"

She ignores him and looks at me. "Are you going to fight Baron Greengrass's custody petition then?"

I blink. "His what?" I turn back to my father-in-law behind me. "Your what?"

Andrew has the grace to flush. He glares at the reporter. "We thought it best to speak with you after the funeral. You'll be travelling around with England; Scorpius will need a stable home. Constance and I thought--"

Something snaps in me. "Scorpius is my son." My jaw tightens and I clench my umbrella in one fist. "Don't you fucking dare try to take him from me."

"Draco." Andrew glances at the reporters uncomfortably. "We'll discuss this later."

I turn on my heel and walk away.

***


Pansy hands me another glass of viognier and sits on the sofa, crossing her bare legs as she leans back against the arm. Her black brocade skirt rides up her thigh. "What are you going to do?" she asks over the rim of her wineglass.

There was a time, in my young and stupid years, when I assumed that Pansy and I would marry. Our parents encouraged the match, and we spent a good portion of our teenage years fumbling about with each other's trouser zips and bra clasps. We'd lost our virginity together on my fifteenth birthday. Then, our first year at Cambridge, Pansy had decided she preferred cunt to cock. She hadn't looked back, for the most part, though before my marriage, she'd occasionally stumbled into my bed post-breakup, pissed out of her mind and in need of a quick shag. She'd always rolled out from beneath the sheets the next morning annoyed with herself and criticising my clitoris-stimulating abilities, the bitch.

I suppose I shouldn't complain too much, however. She had, after all, introduced me to the first charming gay boy who'd introduced me to the pleasures of a prick stuffed up one's arse. He'd been a political science post-graduate, determined to change the world and horrify his parents, the latter of which appealed rather a great deal to me. To this day the faintest whiff of clove cigarettes makes me think of long, lazy, toe-curling Sunday mornings in bed with Justin, drinking cheap wine from a bottle and listening to him expound, in his Eton accent, on the glories of socialism between incredibly intense rounds of being shagged senseless.

Father, Tory that he is, would have loathed him.

I sigh and pull my socked feet onto the sofa cushion. The wine's mellow and I down half the glass before I answer. "Keep my son."

"And cricket?" Pansy turns her glass between her fingers, studying the pale gold wine. She knows how much the game means to me. How much it's always meant. It's the only thing I've done in my life that's pleased my father. The day I stepped out onto the pitch at Lord's for my first Oxford-Cambridge Varsity Match, ball gripped tight in one fist, had been the first time in my life Father had told me unequivocally he was proud of me. The second had been a few weeks later, as I stood in the middle of Ryder and Amies being fitted for my Full Blue blazer as he had a quarter-century before.

Cricket's all that we have in common. All we've ever had. As I grow older, our conversations have grown more and more stilted and infrequent until one of us brings up flippers and paddle sweeps and whether or not the new batsman Durham's called up is actually a flat-track bully the way MCC gossip has it.

I live for cricket. It makes me happy the way nothing else I've ever done has. I was never a brilliant student, though I was smart and did well enough in my A-levels to enter Cambridge on my own merits, rather than on my family's coattails. I'd read English at Queen's College, and really, after that I'd no choice other than to make cricket my profession. The last thing I wanted was to end up like old Snape, teaching the sons of arrogant toffs like my father. And I was good at cricket. I'd been playing at The Oval for Surrey for two years before Krum had called me up to bowl for England after he took over the team management. I'd split my time for the past five years between the two teams and it'd been the best time of my life.

But now my son's lying upstairs, finally home from hospital, broken and bruised and battered, and each time he wakes up all he says is Mama, Mama, Mama.

"You could engage a nanny," Pansy says after a moment. Her pink-polished nail circles the rim of her wineglass.

I take a sip of wine and sigh. "No." The idea of Scorpius being cared for by someone else turns my stomach. Astoria had loathed the practice of foisting children off onto staff--she'd been raised by a series of nannies who were the utter antithesis of Mary Poppins as she put it, twisting her face in disgust. She'd no intention of putting our son through the same experience. My glass slips in my hand, and I tighten my fingers on it. The wine sloshes up the side. Astoria had loved being a mother. Two weeks before Scorpius arrived kicking and screaming into this world Astoria had walked away from her position as a solicitor at Barclay's. She and Pansy'd had a knock-down row about it. Pansy'd almost refused being Scorpius's godmother, until she held the tiny scrap of my son for the first time and had grudgingly admitted perhaps Astoria hadn't entirely lost her damn mind.

Pansy frowns at me. "Draco--"

"It's not what she wanted." I look up at her. "You know that."

There's a moment's silence, then Pansy sets her glass aside and leans forward. "The question is what you want now, darling," she says softly. She lays a hand on my knee. A delicate silver filigree bracelet dangles from her wrist, tiny garnet medallions swinging. It's a gift from her most recent girlfriend, a jewellery designer named Hannah Abbott. I've yet to meet her, and I wonder if I will. Sometimes Pansy whips through women too quickly for me to keep up.

"I want what's best for Scorpius," I say finally, and I drain my wineglass. I stare down at it, rolling the stem between my fingertips. Warm orange-gold light from the mica lamp behind my shoulder pools across my hands. "Whatever that is."

Pansy just leans back and sighs. "Then you're fucked." She picks her glass up again and sloshes the wine about. "Your father's going to be furious."

I reach for the bottle grimly. Might as well get pissed out of my mind, I suppose. "I know."

Pansy hmmms and holds her glass out. I pour for us both. "Well, then," she says, pursing her mouth as she tucks her a lock of her dark bob behind one ear, "let's think of the best way to start the vein on his forehead pulsing, shall we?" She raises her glass. "To driving Lucius around the twist!"

I clink my glass against hers. "Hear, hear."

For the first time in days, I smile.



ii. January 2007

Being a single father is harder than I expect.

Everything reminds me of Astoria, and I find myself falling apart over simple things, such as making breakfast for Scorpius one morning. I've enough presence of mind to ring Greg, and half an hour later, he finds me at the table in tears, Scorpius watching me wide-eyed from his chair, his bottom lip trembling. Apple juice drips from his chin. The stench of scorched eggs and burnt bacon fills the kitchen; I've had to open a window to air it out.

"I can't do this," I say, my face in my hands, and Greg puts on the kettle calmly and pulls more eggs from the refrigerator.

Astoria took care of everything at home. She looked after Scorpius, and she cooked and cleaned--or at least arranged for the cleaning service, who haven't been by in weeks, not since I drunkenly screamed at a maid to leave us be the last time she came. In my defence, I thought she was one of the paparazzi following us about. The Sun and the Daily Mailwere desperate for photographs of the grieving cricketer and his poor motherless son, as they'd liked to dub us in their idiotic articles. Bastards.

I hadn't even been able to bathe Scorpius properly. His cast keeps me from dumping him in the bath or the shower, so I'm reduced to sponging him off. Somehow he's come down with a horrible rash on his bum that keeps him up at night, crying.

He doesn't want me. He screams for Astoria, begs for her, slaps my hands away when I pick him up. His hair is dirty; every time I try to wash it he goes into a screaming fit and I'm terrified he'll hurt himself. Astoria would have been able to distract him, to coax him into compliance somehow. All I can do is watch as he arches his back stiffly, his face red from screaming, and wonder again what I've done wrong.

Greg melts butter in a clean pan, and I've no idea where he found it. The kitchen is filthy, and dishes from two weeks past are piled in the sink. I'm too tired, too depressed to do them. Scorpius takes most of my time these days, and the few hours a day he sleeps, I collapse. If I'm lucky I fall asleep myself. More often than not, I stare up at the ceiling, watching the shadows dance across the mouldings. Sometimes I talk to my wife. I feel an idiot for admitting that. She's dead, I know, and I've never, whatever the vicar might say, believed in an after-life. We have what we have now, and when we're gone, we're gone.

But I miss her. Desperately. I'm not ready for her to be gone.

"Father's furious with me for quitting cricket." I lean back in my chair and run a hand over my face. "He's decided to cut my funds off."

"Good." Greg's voice is muffled by the refrigerator door. He emerges a moment later with a chunk of wizened cheddar I didn't even know I had. "You're twenty-six. You shouldn't be relying on your father to pay your bills."

I take a dirty fork from Scorpius. He wails and tries to grab it out of my hand. "I did get a pay packet for playing cricket, you know."

Greg shrugs. "And now you're not. It's been two months, Draco, and you never go out of the house."

"I'd rather my son not be plastered across the front page of some bloody tabloid every other morning, thanks." I stand up and toss the fork in the sink. It clinks against a pile of bowls and drops into a wineglass with a splash. Score for Malfoy.

Greg just grunts impassively. He wipes his hands on a dirty dishrag and digs through one of the drawers. "Whatever you need to tell yourself."

I know he's a point. But it's safer here. Protected. Just walking down to the shops for a pint of milk and rash cream for Scorpius's bum turns heads my way. I don't have to hear the whispers to know what they're saying. The tabloids have begun to tire of the tragic widower angle and are now digging up the less savoury elements of my past. Mainly thanks to bloody Marcus Flint. He'd always been furious that England had called me up from Surrey rather than him. And unfortunately, he was aware of some of my proclivities. The last issue of the Sun had hinted that I might have been having an affair with a teammate while in Sydney. I could only hope Oliver had enough damn sense to keep his mouth shut.

"Besides. You need a new place." Greg whisks eggs into the pan, adds a handful of cheese he's grated and some capsicum. "Too many memories here."

I don't say anything. I'm not ready to move on. We'd bought the townhouse in Chelsea two weeks after I'd asked Astoria to marry me. We'd chosen the wall colours together on weekends I didn't have matches. We'd scoured antique shops and worked with the Benthiem designers to make certain each room was perfect.

Greg looks at me. "You know I'm right."

"It's Scorpius's home."

"He's just one." Greg folds the egg over itself. It smells delicious, buttery and warm. My stomach growls. I can't remember the last time I've actually eaten more than a mouthful or two. My jeans are loose already. "Scorpius isn't attached to this flat. You are, and the way you're going, it'll either send you to Highgate or Bethlehem Royal, and I'd really rather not be coming by to visit you in that disturbing mausoleum of your family's or a psychiatric ward."

Scorpius reaches for my hand. "Dada, da," he says. His small fingers tug at mine. "Da."

Greg sets a plate in front of me. "Eat. Both of you."

I cut a few small pieces from the enormous omelette in front of me, and once they've cooled, set them in front of my son. He stuffs one in his mouth eagerly. I watch him. Children are disgusting creatures, I've determined. Then again, at the moment, I'm not much better.

Greg sits next to me, two mugs of tea in his hand. He pushes one towards me.

"I'd rather have coffee," I say with a sigh. I'm a horrid Englishman, I know, but I prefer the rich tang of ground coffee beans to the bitter tannin of overbrewed tea. Mother's perplexed by my preferences, and Father refuses to acknowledge them at all. But coffee's one of the few things I can do well in a kitchen. Astoria had always insisted I go down and brew her a pot on Sunday mornings before she'd roll sleepily out of bed to come cook Scorpius and me an enormous breakfast of crepes spread with chocolate and almonds and thick fresh-whipped cream.

"I'm looking for a new flat," Greg says after a moment, utterly ignoring my mournful glance towards the coffeepot.

The milky Darjeeling is sour against my tongue. I stir it with one finger, watching it swirl against the sides of the mug. "Are you?"

"I wouldn't mind some company."

I look up at him. Greg meets my gaze evenly. I know damned well he hasn't had any plans to move out of his flat in Bloomsbury. He'd made a down payment on the place with the savings he'd set aside from his first three years with the restaurant.

Scorpius pounds his fist against the tabletop. "Da!"

I cut off a few more bites for Scorpius, and he grabs them. He nearly knocks his bottle of apple juice over; I catch it before it falls. "You want to share a flat," I say after a moment. I'd never considered it before.

Greg shrugs. "I've been wanting a place closer to the restaurant, and you know how bloody expensive it gets." He looks at me over the rim of his mug. "It would do you good to have someone to help with Scorpius."

I just look at him. "Let me think about it."

"Fair enough." He ruffles Scorpius' hair. My son shoves Greg's hand away, scowling up at him.

I drain my tea, leaning back in my chair thoughtfully.

***


We compromise at first. Scorpius and I move into Greg's flat while I put the Chelsea house up for sale. Blaise lists it for me; he prefers to work with office properties in the city, but he makes an exception for me. Of course, he doubles his commission fee for the sheer annoyance of having to deal with bored London society wives, he says. I don't care. I just want the house sold.

Scorpius slowly starts sleeping through the night, though the only way he can is to curl up next to me in bed. I like having his tiny, warm body pressed against mine. The day his cast comes off we stop by the Oddono's wagon in Oxford Street for gelato--Scorpius chooses a cornet stuffed with chocolate and I pick a more subdued hazelnut. We take a black cab down Regent Street to Pall Mall to meet Father at the Athenaeum for an early supper before the Lords are called back to a vote. Though Father prefers the privacy of the Manor in Wiltshire, he keeps a room at the club during the weeks Parliament is sitting. Unfortunately for my son and me that requires us to have dinner with him every so often, and I've put Father off for the past three weeks until his assistant whispered in the phone to me this morning that really, Lord Malfoy was most put out and if it was at all possible, might I please have supper with him tonight? Sophie'd sounded so worn down that I couldn't say no.

Father's waiting for us in the Coffee Room. I've barely lifted Scorpius into a chair and taken one of my own before Father starts in.

"What exactly have you been doing with yourself these months?" he asks, pouring a glass of wine for me.

"Raising my son," I answer calmly. It's going to be one of those evenings, I can tell.

Father scowls at me. His knee has begun to act up in the cold; he's carrying his cane again, with the heavy silver snake head. Scorpius is fascinated by it and reaches across the table to poke at it. Father bats his hands away. "And doing a piss-poor job of it, by my determination." He moves the cane to his other side and Scorpius glares at him. I distract my son with a bit of buttered bread.

"I think we're doing quite well."

"That's not what your mother says." Father leans back as the server places a plate of rocket and walnuts in front of him. He snaps his napkin open and drapes it across his lap. "Krum tells me you're still welcome to return to England. MacKay is willing to put you back on the Surrey roster as well."

I sigh. I hate it when he does this to me. "I can't travel with Scorpius."

"You can afford to hire someone to look after him," Father snaps. "Or hand him over to Andrew and Constance for a few years. They're more than willing to allow you holidays and weeks you've no matches."

My mouth tightens. "You've spoken to them, have you?" I reach over and wipe Scorpius's chin. He looks up at me, then hands me the bread he's been chewing. I drop it on the edge of my plate and wipe my fingers.

"Yes." Father sips his wine. "They're as worried about you both as I am."

I poke at my salad angrily. "You can all stop. I'm fine. Scorpius is fine. And I'm not going back to cricket." My chest hurts. I want to go back. I know I do. I'd pick up a cricket bat right now if I thought I could. The game's been everything to me since I was Scorpius's age. But I'm not about to let my son be raised by anyone other than myself. I hated not having my parents around when I was a child. Like Astoria, I'd despised being shoved off on nannies and tutors while Mother attended her society luncheons and Father concerned himself with Important Business of State. Astoria'd wanted our son to have as normal a life as we could give him all things considered, and I'm damn well going to make certain that happens. With me in the picture.

Father glares at me over the rim of his wineglass before he sets it aside. "Draco."

"I said stop." The tines of my fork scrape loudly across the china plate. My hands are shaking. "Please."

Father hesitates, then nods. After a moment, he says, "I understand Gregory is looking for a new location for his restaurant."

I shrug. "He's been thinking of moving."

"Perhaps he should consider Westminster." Father tops off his glass of wine, then offers it to me. I shake my head. It's best I don't drink too much. It dulls my reaction time around Scorpius, which can be dangerous. "I could direct some Parliamentary business his way."

It's a peace offering, and I recognise it as such. "Thank you."

Father nods.

***


By April Greg's moved the restaurant to a small, elegant storefront two streets over from Westminster Palace. Father's been true to his word, and within weeks Time Out's listing it as one of the trendiest spots in the city for politicos and their entourages.

At breakfast one Saturday Greg tells me that the café next door is closing down, much to the consternation of the Government researchers and assistants who fill the offices of Portcullis House and the Norman Shaws.

I'm barely paying attention. I'm struggling with Scorpius to get him to eat his porridge, and, to be honest, he's bloody well annoying the shite out of me. I've grown bored with being a stay-at-home father. There's only so many times you can drag yourself through yet another GMTV after all. I've even started watching Bargain Hunt and, really, there's not much lower one can go.

"I'm thinking about buying it," Greg says, stirring milk into his tea. "It might be an interesting diversification--"

"What?" I ask, giving up on coaxing another spoonful of porridge into Scorpius.

Greg rolls his eyes. "You never listen to me any more."

"As we're neither married nor shagging, that complaint doesn't work on me." I spread jam on my toast and bite into it. "What are you thinking about buying?"

"The café next to the restaurant." Greg scoops up porridge with his spoon. I've got rather decent at cooking it in the past few months. "It'd be a good investment, but I'm not certain I've enough cash on hand. Westminster property rentals are pricey."

I stare at him. "A café?"

"Yes." He looks at me as if I've lost my mind. "Why?"

I don't know why it strikes me then. It's mad. I know it's mad. And it will infuriate the living hell out of my father--which, I suppose, in my mind is really more of a pro than a con. I've never had any interest in restauranting, but I know coffee, and how difficult could it be really?

"Let me buy it," I say.

Greg just stares at me.

I lean forward, my elbows on the table. I nudge the jam pot aside. "I've got to have something to do before I go out my mind with boredom. Why not a café?"

"Your father for one," Greg says, setting his spoon down.

"Bollocks on my father."

Scorpius nods. "Bollocks!" I don't bother to chide him.

"This is not going to go well," Greg says with a frown. "You're too lazy for this sort of work. It's hard, Draco. Not like playing cricket."

I just grin. "It can't be that awful or you wouldn't be interested."

Greg rolls his eyes. "You're sixty-eighth in line for the throne."

I ponder, tapping my spoon against the side of the bowl. "How hard do you think it would be to kill sixty-seven people in one go?"

"Draco!"

"I'm joking." Or at least I think I am, but let's not tell the Queen's Guard or MI5, shall we?

Greg just sighs and rests his beefy arms on the table. "My point is that your sort don't work In Trade. You're an Hon, for Christ's sake."

I shrug. “The peerage is Father's, not mine. At least until he dies."

“Forget your father for a moment." Greg frowns at me. “What would your mother say?"

My mother has become quite the social butterfly since the divorce. British society didn't even blink when the sordid story of Father's affair came out after Penelope--the slag--sold her story to the Daily Mail. Mother was one of them after all, her Black antecedents traceable back to before Henry's nasty little argument with the Pope. Her father was the Earl of Ravensworth. Penelope was just some common, albeit educated, tart from Ipswich who'd managed to make a fool out of a Lord yet again. It's a typical story in the aristocracy, after all, and Father had survived the humiliation.

"Mother," I say after a moment's thought, "will just be glad I haven't turned out like Cousin Nymphadora." Aunt Andromeda's only child had stunned society when she'd run off with some drummer during her punk phase. Which had come shortly after her stint as a P.C. for the Met. Everyone had written that one off as being influenced by her solicitor father, but if Uncle Ted had been rather chuffed at the time, he wasn't best pleased with his daughter at the moment.

Greg pauses, then nods. "Have you heard from her lately?"

I wipe Scorpius's mouth. He pulls away, frowning as he tries to see the telly again. He's disturbingly fond of the Teletubbies. "A card last Christmas. She and Lupin are still in Canada. Vancouver, I think, in some free love commune or something. She sent a photo of Teddy. He's eleven now, and she's let him dye his hair turquoise. Mother was horrified." I don't bother to add that she'd also murmured that Nymphadora was a perfect example why Aunt Andromeda should never have married beneath herself.

Greg looks appalled. "Oh, then you've nothing to worry about."

"My thoughts exactly."



iii. May 2009

"You need to order more Kona beans," Millicent says as she passes me, two mugs filled with steaming coffee in her hands. Her black curls are twisted up and held in place with a pencil. She's a postgraduate student at the University of London's Warburg Institute. I've never quite understood exactly what she's researching, but she goes about spouting off Latin every now and then--especially when she's annoyed--so I've decided it's better not to ask for clarification.

I cut the quiches that I've just pulled from the oven. Greg made them the night before; I've merely had to warm them up for the breakfast rush. I get a share of his restaurant kitchen next door. It's an arrangement that's benefited us both over the past two years, and I'm fairly certain I owe a great deal of my business to the small batches of pastries, desserts, breads, soups and quiches he and his bakers leave in the refrigerator each night for us before they close up.

I'll be the first to admit that owning a café in Westminister a five-minute walk from the Parliamentary office buildings seems a million years away from playing first-class cricket. And there are more days than I can count when I miss stepping out on the pitch, the sun in my eyes and the breeze ruffling my hair. I can't even watch the matches on telly any more. It's too difficult to see my former teammates on the field.

Krum rings me up every few months, asking if I've changed my mind. There's still a spot on the England roster for me if I want it, he says. Oliver stopped coming by late at night last year. I don't have time for him, or for any of the others, to be honest. I haven't officially gone out since last October with a man or a woman and it's been longer since I've shagged anyone. Between the shop and nights spent struggling to get Scorpius in bed at a proper hour--and keep him there, for Christ's sake--I'm too bloody tired to think of sex or dating or anything but falling into my own bed in the flat I bought above the shop last summer and share with Greg. If I'm lucky, I manage to sleep for a few hours before I have to roll out of bed and stumble bleary-eyed downstairs to open up for the first rush of Government staffers that fill the pavements of Parliament Square and Whitehall before dawn breaks.

Coffee has become essential to the running of the country, and despite the despicable presence of a Cafe Nero in Portcullis House, a great number of researchers and assistants and MPs themselves, whether Labour or Tory or Lib Dem, prefer to walk a few streets over to Leg Before Wicket for a double shot of espresso and a currant scone, buttered or with just a dollop of clotted cream. Sometimes I wonder how many of them come out of the sheer curiosity of seeing the Viscount Avebury's aproned son behind a counter. To be honest, I don't give a damn as long as they pay.

Surprisingly, I like the work. I don't really need the money. I've enough tucked away from my cricket days, not to mention the trust fund Grandfather Abraxas set up for me the week after I was born. But running the café's kept me busy and tired, and one morning not so very long ago I woke up and realised that it had been two weeks since I'd dreamed about Astoria. Millicent says that's what her therapist calls closure; Greg tells her that's utter bollocks and psychiatrists are quacks who'd do best not to be mucking about in regular people's heads, thanks ever so much, since God only knows what they'll balls up in the process. I'm wondering how much longer it will take before the two of them end up in bed. My money's been on a year, and that's coming up rather too soon for my liking. I'm not that keen to lose two hundred quid to Pansy--she's far too bloody smug about the matter. I'm beginning to consider taking Greg aside and offering him fifty pounds to just go ahead and shag Millicent for Christ's sake. Everyone knows they're both gagging for it.

The rush slows at half-eight, at least for a little while. Parliament's a week from Whitsun recess and it's a Wednesday which means in an hour we'll have the MPs trailing in for a quick burst of caffeine before they're forced to endure the Prime Minister's Questions. Though frankly, in my opinion, listening to Gordon ramble on has to be better that than facing down the phalanx of journos wandering about Westminster lately, now that the Telegraph's broken the Parliamentary expense scandal. Really, you'd think the people responsible for running the bloody Government would have more sense than to expense houses they weren't bloody living in. Then again, Mandelson was idiot enough to make the taxpayers pay for work on his house six months after he stood down from the Commons, and Gordon still made him a peer, so, really, what can you expect?

For the moment Father's managed to keep himself out of the mess. I don't expect that to last much longer. I've already had to throw one bottom-feeder from the Daily Mail out of the café this morning—I became all too familiar with Alfie's concept of journalistic integrity after Astoria's death.

I've just wiped the counter with a damp cloth when a cough makes me turn. Millicent's in the kitchen, washing up before she has to spend the remainder of the morning buried in Latin texts. I turn and my breath catches. It's him again--he's been in every morning almost since Parliament began sitting after Easter. He looks familiar, but politicians always do to me. I've met too many of them through excruciatingly dull functions Father's forced me into attending over the past few months. Since he can't get me to return to cricket, he's now holding out hope I'll stop embarrassing him with this business and decide to enter politics like a proper Malfoy. Fortunately the House of Lords Act eleven years ago ensured I'll never be forced to take on his seat. God bless Labour for that.

"Triple espresso macchiato to go with a dab of foam, you wretched Philistine," I say, and he smiles at me and nods. His messy black hair tumbles across his forehead, over the wireframes of his glasses. It looks as if it hasn't seen a comb in days. I should not find that oddly appealing.

"Blame the New York baristas for that aberration." His voice is soft and low. It sends a shiver down my spine. “Entirely the Americans' fault for corrupting me."

“Bloody Starbucks." I drop my rag on the counter. “You lived in New York?"

“For two years." He tucks his BlackBerry into his pocket. "Did a bit of post-graduate in international affairs at Columbia. Oh, and heavy on the espresso. Gordon's up this morning."

I snort and grab a paper cup. "Good luck keeping your eyes open even with that." I hate having to turn my back on him, and that annoys me. It's stupid of me to think him attractive. He's not. He's tall and scrawny and looks as if he was underfed as a child. Not to mention he reads the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Independent. I can't tell whether he's Labour or Conservative--knowing my luck he's Lib Dem and everyone knows they're a bunch of ruddy nutters.

"Have to," he says with a laugh. "I'm asking a question."

I froth the milk in the stainless steel pitcher, watching as the foam rises. "A good one, I hope."

"Maybe." When I turn, he's leaning against the counter watching me. He scratches his chin. It's slightly stubbled as if he hasn't shaved this morning, and that thought nearly makes me drop the pitcher. "I want to know why the Government's insisting on this Internet surveillance legislation the Tories have cooked up."

I draw three shots of espresso into the cup. "Ah. You're Labour."

"Lib Dem." He gives me a rueful smile and I wrinkle my nose. Damn. "I know what you're thinking," he says as he pulls a tenner from his pocket and hands it to me. He drops the change I give him in the Oxfam jar next to the till. I don't bother to tell him they've stopped coming by to collect. "We're not all mad, you realise."

"All politicians are mad, party affiliation be damned," I say. I hand over his macchiato. "Trust me."

He grins. "Speaking from experience?" Behind his glasses, his eyes are a deep green, flecked with brown and gold. There's a faint zig-zag scar over one of his eyebrows, pale against his lightly tanned skin. I have the distinct urge to drag my tongue along it.

I look away, a little flustered. "Somewhat." I can feel my cheeks warm, and I reach for the cloth again, folding it in quarters.

"Too bad." He hesitates, his smile fading slightly, then turns to go.

"What's your name?" I can't stop myself. I drop the cloth on the counter and tuck my hair behind one ear. It's past my jaw now; Pansy's been after me to cut it for weeks.

He turns back to look at me, eyebrow raised. "Harry." His mouth quirks into a crooked smile. "Harry Potter."

"Draco Malfoy." I hold out my hand; Potter takes it without hesitation or the usual flare of pitying recognition I get from most people, but then, it's been nearly a year since the Daily Mail's mentioned me or the accident, thank God, and Potter doesn't look the type to read that rubbish. His fingers are warm and strong. I wonder what they'd feel like on my hips. The thought rattles me for a moment until I drop his hand, pulling back. "MP for?"

Potter sips his coffee. "Guildford."

"Surrey, then. That explains rather a lot." I walk around the till, straightening the coffee stirrers. He's next to me, and I allow myself a quick sideways glance. He's of a height with me, and his black bespoke suit and charcoal tie screams Henry Poole. Ridiculous hair or not, he looks far more Mayfair than terrace housing, and he smells bloody amazing, like warm sunshine and the fresh-cut grass of a pitch. I lick my bottom lip.

Potter reaches across me and takes a stirrer from my hand. "I suppose it does," he says with a soft laugh, and he looks directly at me then, a long, slow and obvious appraisal as he chews on the end of the thin wood stirrer. I take a step back; the counter presses against my hips and I'm suddenly grateful for the long apron I'm wearing to protect my jeans and black t-shirt. It's been quite a while since my body's been this interested in another person. I'm half tempted to drag him to the back storeroom and blow him right now, Question be damned.

"The first record we have of cricket being played is from Guildford," I say. I can't look away from him, and I'm quite aware I'm babbling on like a fool.

Potter smiles and the corners of his eyes crinkle. "I think I'd read that when I was a lad. Bit cricket-mad, I was."

I shift the sugar shaker a few centimetres to the right, suddenly uncomfortable with his sharp gaze. "Weren't we all?"

"Thanks for the coffee, Draco Malfoy," he murmurs, and I close my eyes until the bell on the door clanks behind him, willing my prick to wilt.

It doesn't work.

***


Pansy lights a Silk Cut and hands it to me. "Every morning, darling?"

"Before nine." I take a drag of the fag and pass it back. "I think he's flirting with me."

She pulls her crimson tweed jacket tighter, clutching the vee neck with one hand as she lifts the cigarette to her mouth. It's still chilly for a May evening, and the wind's picked up since we came out of the Covent Garden Tube station. Blaise is late, as usual. I check my watch. It's just after eight and the curtain goes up for Chicago at half-past. Bloody fucker. And I'm paying Millicent overtime to sit with Scorpius too.

"Perhaps he just really likes your macchiato." Pansy taps ash from the end of her cigarette. She's never quite understood why I enjoy working at the café. It's beneath me, she thinks. Perhaps she's right. Blaise thinks I've lost my mind too. Greg's the only one who doesn't think I'm mad, who knows that it's the hard work that I need.

I shrug. "Perhaps."

Pansy doesn't say anything for a moment; she just eyes me curiously. "You're attracted to him."

My cheeks heat up and I curse the pale skin I inherited from the Black side of the family. "So?"

"How long has it been since you've been properly shagged?" The breeze blows her hair into her eyes and she brushes it back impatiently.

I sigh and cross my arms. "Since Mother's New Year's party."

Pansy exhales a stream of smoke. "I thought you skipped that."

"I did. I mean her party in the year before last." The twenty-year-old son of one Mother's dearest friends had chatted me up just before midnight. We'd rung in the New Year together on the rooftop terrace of Mother's Eaton Square house, his prick up my arse as Big Ben chimed midnight on the BBC. The next morning he'd left for Oxford and his proper, parental-approved fiancée, and I've been in a sexual drought since. "Quentin Whitestone. I shagged him on New Year's and he married Elise in June."

Pansy grimaces. "Quentin always was an enormous twit."

I can't disagree with her.

"You should ask him out," Pansy says.

"Quentin?" I give her a horrified look.

She rolls her eyes and smacks the back of my head. It hurts. "No, you idiot. This MP of yours."

I blink at her. "But he's an MP."

"And?" Pansy waves her cigarette about. Ash scatters everywhere. A chunk of it lands on her breast and she brushes it off. "I've shagged MPs before."

"Married ones," I point out.

She takes a drag of her cigarette and blows the smoke in my face. "When it comes to MPs, darling, there's no difference between married and single. They're all deliciously immoral, and frankly that's the best sort of shag one can have. You'd be a fool not to at least test the waters."

"I don't even know if he's gay." I take the cigarette back from her and lift it to my mouth. "Or bisexual."

"Who's gay or bisexual?" Blaise drapes one arm over my shoulder, the other over Pansy's. He kisses her cheek. "Sorry I'm late, lovelies. Had to do an office showing to the incredibly well-endowed ex-wife of a cabinet Minister's brother."

I push his arm off. "In other words, you had to show yourself off."

"Twice," Blaise says. He takes the cigarette from me. "Are we talking about your love life, nancy boy?"

Pansy twists around to look up at him. "Do you know anything about Harry Potter? The new MP from Guildford?"

"I make it my business to know all the MPs." Blaise's brow furrows. "By-election, yes? Took Anne Milton's old seat just before Easter?"

I nod. I don't like the fact that I'm actually curious about what Blaise might know. He's the font of all London-related gossip, particularly within corridors of power and wealth, whether political or corporate. He hasn't made a few million pounds since Cambridge by sitting on his admittedly lovely arse.

Blaise takes a drag on the cigarette before he hands it back to Pansy. "Nothing much. I sent my assistant after him to find out if he was interested in a flat, but he's settled down in some hovel in Kennington, of all places. Your old stomping grounds, near the Oval." Blaise wrinkles his nose. His thoughts on the usual London habitat of MPs and their staff are grim at best. Blaise has always been more of a Mayfair and Belgravia aficionado, and he shares my father's opinion of the crassness of merchandising the Oval to Brit Insurance. Commercial sponsorship of the game is anathema to them both. I hadn't given a damn what they called the cricket grounds I played on as long as Surrey had dropped my pay packets into Barclay's on a regular basis. "He's sharing the flat with an old school mate, from what I understand. Or rather the old school mate's letting him kip on the sofa when Parliament's in session."

"I hope he's not claiming it on his expenses," I say.

"Far too much of a jobsworth for that, I've been told." Blaise snorts and brushes a bit of nonexistent lint off his olive green Ozwald Boateng jacket, then straightens his brown silk tie. "He's a bit of money from some inheritance or other, but nothing of significance. Oxford boy. Read political science and economics with post-grad in international affairs from Columbia in the States before coming on as a researcher for Chris Huhne for the past few years."

Pansy makes a face. "Lib Dem? Oh, Draco, really, couldn't you find a nice Labour bloke to shag? Chris Bryant, maybe? Or what about Alan Duncan? He's a Tory. Your father would love him even if he is bent."

"Alan Duncan is twenty-three years older than me," I snap. "He might as well be my father."

"Yes, but he has such lovely hair." Pansy drops her cigarette to the pavement and grinds it out with one stilettoed heel. "All salt-and-pepper."

I glare at her. "Grey."

"Silver," Blaise counters with a sly smirk. I flip two fingers at him. Bastard. He should be on my side.

"Very sexy." Pansy slides an arm around my waist and kisses my cheek. "Think about it."

With a sigh, I drag them both towards the theatre. There are moments I wonder why I even bother having friends.

***


Potter comes in again the next morning at five before nine, his papers tucked under one arm as he scrolls through the messages on his BlackBerry, frowning. His suit today's the dark, burnished brown of fresh roasted coffee beans with faint chocolate pinstripes, tailored perfectly to his slightly sloped shoulders and narrow hips.

I want to eat him.

"Fuck off, Alfie," I say to the short, balding Daily Mailwriter who's standing at the till. "Or I'll ring up the Met again."

"I just want a latte, Draco." He waves a tenner at me.

I glare at him. "Out." I haven't forgiven him for those horrific widowed cricketer articles, half of which implied Astoria had been at fault for the accident, rather than the lorry driver who'd been on his mobile when he'd swerved into her. I'd gone to the Press Complaints Commission over his half-veiled suggestions that a toxicology report might indicate she'd been under the influence of drugs.

As if Astoria would have. She'd been breastfeeding, for Christ's sake. I wasn't even allowed to smoke cannabis in the house once she'd got preggers. She'd refused an epidural during labour, and she wouldn't even take paracetamol as long as she was nursing. The thought of Astoria on drugs is utterly ludicrous.

Alfie rolls his eyes and turns to go, brushing past Potter in the process. Potter mumbles a sorry beneath his breath, but doesn't look up from his phone.

"Mr. Potter," Alfie says, stopping next to him. Potter blinks at him. "Alfie Hart, Daily Mail. Wondered if you'd like to say anything about the expenses—"

"I said out, Alfie." I raise my voice, and Potter glances over at me with a small smile. "Don't harass my customers. Jesus."

Alfie shoots me a nasty scowl. "Might be I'll harass your Da instead."

"Please do." I shrug. I could care less what the tabloids have to say about Father as long as they leave Mother and Scorpius out of it. "He'll probably enjoy it."

The bell clanks as Alfie slams the door behind him. Secretly I hope he's on his way up to Father's office, though I know as well as he does he won't get within ten metres of it. I look at Potter. He's gone back to frowning at his BlackBerry. I can't decide whether I should be relieved or annoyed.

Millicent eyes me in amusement as I hand her the cups for Alistair Darling's assistant's order. "Oh, shut up," I say under my breath, brushing past her to grab a frothing pitcher.

"And here I thought you liked the Chancellor of the Exchequer," Millicent says, pouring a shot of espresso into milk. "Tossing him over for the next Nick Clegg, are we?"

I flip two fingers at her. "More like I appreciate the arse of the Chancellor's assistant, and frankly, I think the honourable gentleman from Guildford might have a better one."

Millicent laughs, her lightly freckled nose wrinkling. "It's a bit charming that you fancy him."

"Please." I pour the frothed milk into an extra tall paper cup for Potter. "I just need sex."

"Don't we all," she mutters.

Potter looks up again from his phone as I set the cup in front of him. "Triple espresso macchiato," I say with the enticing smile I spent ten minutes practicing in the bathroom mirror this morning. My lips feel stretched tight and awkward and I'm rather certain by the faint curve of Potter's mouth that I look a right twat. I frown. "Two quid."

"Ta." He glances down at the cup, an eyebrow raised. "Isn't that larger than usual?" He looks back up at me. "And cheaper?"

I have an urge to slap the side of his head. "Maybe." I'm aware of Millicent chortling behind me and I resolve to dock her paycheque this week. The Chancellor's assistant--the lovely Angelina Johnson, who has legs up to Heaven and tits nearly as glorious--hides a smile as she leans against the pastry case.

"Oh." Potter blinks again, his lashes fluttering behind his glasses. He looks bloody gorgeous standing there, even if he is thick as board. "Oh. Well." He grins at me, a wide flash of bright teeth that nearly makes my knees buckle. "Thanks."

I wipe my hands on my apron and nod, cursing myself silently. I used to be rather good at pulling, if I do say so myself. I don't know what the hell it is about Potter that makes me so damned nervous.

His phone rings and, with a ruefully apologetic smile, he answers, turning away. Angelina leans over and whispers, "Ask him out."

I give her an incredulous look. "Have you lost your mind? I don't even know if he swings that way—"

"Oh, he does," she says, cutting me off. "Emma Grieg from Osborne's office made it very clear she'd like to, shall we say, get better acquainted with our new MP, and he turned her down." She gives me a pointed look, one perfectly waxed eyebrow arching.

"That slag." My voice rises, and Potter glances over, his BlackBerry still pressed to his ear. I flush and turn back to Angelina. "Anyway, all that means is that he just has the common sense not to shag everyone's favourite Tory tart." I curl my lip. "Particularly one who's crawled into bed with half of Parliament."

Angelina pokes through the crumbled sample biscuits in a basket on the pastry case. "Including your father."

I slap her hand away from the samples and pull a fresh chocolate biscuit from the warming tray behind me. "I really didn't need to know that," I say as I break the biscuit, handing one half to her. I bite into the other half. It's warm and soft and decadently rich. Millicent bakes them every few hours. I refuse to let her tell me how many bars of Green and Black she nicks from the storeroom to make each batch. She informs me we're both better off that way.

"Sorry, darling," Angelina says, entirely unapologetic. "Your father's a bit of an arsewipe." She munches on the biscuit, catching crumbs in her palm. "I haven't slept with him, if it makes you feel better."

I poke the enormous, bordering on tacky diamond on her left hand. "I rather doubt your Weasley fellow would stand for that."

Angelina glances down at her engagement ring. "I daresay he wouldn't." She smiles at Millicent as she takes the tray filled with four lattes and then nods her head in my direction. "Tell him to grow a pair."

Millicent snorts. "I've been telling him that for the past week."

"I really do hate you both." I glare at them as Potter shoves his phone into his pocket and steps back to the till.

"Sorry about that." He pulls his wallet from his pocket. "Two quid, right? I've a fiver…"

Concluded in Part 2

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
tray_la_la
Oct. 23rd, 2009 09:02 pm (UTC)
OMG I AM SO F'ING EXCITED!!!! *squees* i loved this prompt the second i saw it!!!!

i only have two hours before i have to leave for the night, but i am starting now because i'm so excited! :D
okydoky
Oct. 23rd, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)
I guessed who this was from the header... I wonder whether I'm right! :D
supergreak
Oct. 26th, 2009 04:52 pm (UTC)
I LOVE THIS SO MUCH SO FAR. Continuing now...
bicrim
Oct. 26th, 2009 05:36 pm (UTC)
As a mother, this had me crying my eyes out, thinking of my babies without me. Yikes. Beautiful, though, so real.
sor_bet
Oct. 28th, 2009 04:43 am (UTC)
I don't have time to read this right now, but I just had to say that I remember this prompt and I'm so glad it got written. AND kudos on an awesome opening line. :-D
(Deleted comment)
sor_bet
Oct. 30th, 2009 08:49 pm (UTC)
I love this story so far! I really like AUs like this, where we get to see the characters we love AND they're still in-character. But on top of that, this story feels so real, with all the little details that give it life, including all the British stuff I don't understand but still love for being there. :-P

I love that Draco really did love his wife, even though he sleeps with men. It's nice to think that what technically is infidelity is something they bonded over, made their love for each other stronger.

I LOVE that Draco is the famous one in this story, so that when they meet, he's the one bracing for the annoying recognition, and yay for Harry not giving it to him.

As I said in my other comment, I'm really glad this story got written, but I had no idea when I read the prompt that it would be THIS good. On to part 2!!
ravenpan
Nov. 10th, 2009 11:00 pm (UTC)
Black Coffee on a Lonely Night (1)
Oh my heart breaks for Draco in the beginning, heck, even now. As a parent of a nurseling barely older than Scorpius was when Astoria died - my heart just BROKE so hard. I love the relationship she and Draco'd had - something very loving, but also so very comfortable and certain that his else-jaunts were just another facet of their relationship with each other.

I'm so glad that Greg was there for him, helped him back on his feet. The transition to where he IS indeed on his feet - somewhat - and finally finding himself able to continue life was a relief, bittersweet as it was. I like the relationship between the characters, and the banter, very well - and look forward to seeing where the story takes me!
catainahata
Dec. 17th, 2009 05:01 am (UTC)
This was recced to me and I am so glad it was. Fantastic and so well written.
absynthedrinker
Jan. 11th, 2010 04:41 pm (UTC)
Astonishing! Just when I think I've read the very best, in you walk with this. This is gritty, sexy and unbelievably well written. The sexual encounters are what RL gay men dream of. Bravissima!

Peace,
Bubba
cho_o
Jun. 2nd, 2010 06:56 pm (UTC)
very impressed!
ok, so I dont normally comment on fics I read, because normally they are kind of mainstream, or so popular that everyone in the fandom has already said something about it, or they just don't grab me.
This did. it is utterly brilliant, I am laughing and giggling and loving the Britishness of it all, being a foreigner living in England I'm sure I'm not even getting half of it but I love it anyway. and the politics! and the newspapers! and you can just feel London through it. what a lark!
very impressed by this.
bk7brokemybrain
Jun. 3rd, 2010 03:54 am (UTC)
I adore the imagery of Draco as a cricketer, especially the nude charity photo. And that he was replaced by Stuart Broad made me squee just a bit.
I love this so far. The difficulties and changes arising from Astoria's death, the fact that Draco loved her so, is very true to life. And even though I am a fan of a short-arsed Harry, I am solidly on board for your version. YUM.
Onward!
betsyli
Jun. 7th, 2010 04:09 am (UTC)
Oh my dear god, this is utterly amazing! AMAZING!
At first I was at bit surprised by the AU, but by god did you make this work! I love the backgrounds that you've given everyone, and the politico/Britishness of it all is making me grin like a loon.

Love it!

*clicks to part two*
headgirl91
Jul. 27th, 2010 10:53 pm (UTC)
Always Hoping FanFiction Awards
I am pleased to inform you that this story has been nominated for Best Slash, Romance and Non-Magical AU in Always Hoping FanFiction Awards. If you could please reply as soon as possible, I will add you to the nominees. Thanks

Leanne

http://always-hoping.110mb.com
avioleta
Sep. 18th, 2010 10:40 pm (UTC)
In love. I'm so used to bad blood existing between Harry and Draco that this beginning is refreshing and sweet. I'm waiting for complications. Loving Draco as a father too. Onward...
drarryisgreen
Feb. 16th, 2013 10:45 pm (UTC)
This is one of the best stories I have ever - EVER - read. Looking fwd to Part 2.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )