Authors notes: I want to thank my BETAs Koorime and ChibiBecca. I would also like to appologise if people start craving cookies oo; Oh, and this Fic is set in Bath, Wiltshire, my hometown, so sorry if it sounds like a travel brochure at times ^^
Harry cornered his uncle after the meal, in public, and asked for his room key.
He had sat and thought about the best ways to get the damn thing back all through dinner, when he’d stopped wondering about Malfoy at any rate. He’d come to the conclusion that catching him in public, and forcing him to react in a way that wouldn’t make him seem not ‘normal,’ was the best way to go about it.
Both his uncle and his aunt had a thing about appearing as normal as possible to the general populace, which was one of the reasons they resented having Harry around so much, so he knew they would have to give it to him, and appear happy while they did it.
Harry felt it would be just punishment for treating him like they had so far and by the end of dinner was quite looking forward to the experience.
He caught them while they were standing behind another family, waiting to pay for the meal. There was a good amount of people around, so he felt it should go as planned.
He smirked ever so slightly when uncle Vernon flinched and Dudley tried to hide behind his bony mother.
“Yes, Harry?” his uncle said through clenched teeth, attempting a smile, and almost failing.
“I’d like my room key back now, please. Thanks for looking after it during dinner.” That should work; it gave uncle Vernon absolutely no way to say he’d left it in the room or something. He smiled sweetly and to all outward appearances seemed nothing more than a grateful nephew.
He watched as his aunt Petunia pursed her lips in disdain, uncle Vernon fought back a scream of rage and Dudley tensed, looking horrified. There was no way out of it for them, and Vernon pulled himself together admirably well in Harry’s opinion.
Though he silently hoped Vernon wouldn’t pull himself together enough to think up an excuse.
“Of course, Harry. Just – just give me a moment to pay.”
Harry couldn’t let that happen, or he’d never get the key, as Vernon would stalk off to the rooms and out of the public eye as soon as he’d paid. Harry smiled again, thinking quickly.
“Oh, can I have it now please? I’d like to go clean up, then I’d be out of your hair for a while.”
Vernon’s face started going red, but it appeared to be working, he looked like he was about to give in. For a moment Harry thought his uncle would loose all pretences and tell him to fuck off and wait at his door, but Vernon surprised him.
Through clenched teeth and a false grin he managed, “Alright,” and stuffed a ham fist in his trouser pocket, rooting around for the key. A moment later he pulled it out and very unwillingly, holding onto it for slightly too long, he handed it to Harry.
“Thanks, Uncle. See you later then.”
Face going even redder, Vernon nodded, nostrils flaring.
Harry walked away, as nonchalantly as possible, clutching the key in his pocket. As he left he could hear Vernon making loud, almost offhanded remarks about teenagers and their need for privacy.
Harry grinned to himself triumphantly.
Harry spent the second day alone in his room, relaxing and reading. At lunch he walked down the street to the newsagents and bought a sandwich, chocolate bar and bottled drink, then sat on the fountain eating and watching the people around him.
He was still revelling in his victory over his uncle. It had been a gamble, but he had won out, and had not heard a word from either member of the family since. There hadn’t even been any retaliation later in the evening. He had sat on his bed for a good few hours, waiting for Uncle Vernon to come storming to his room to demand he give the key back, but it hadn’t happened. He’d been relieved.
Now though, while he ate, relaxing on the edge of the fountain being gently sprayed by the occasional bit of water, his thoughts turned back to Malfoy.
He took a bite of the sandwich and wondered what Malfoy was even doing in Bath in the first place. He knew, of course, that the Malfoys’ lived in a ‘Wiltshire Mansion,’ but that still didn’t quite explain it.
He took another bite and found himself thinking about how Malfoy had looked wearing those muggle clothes. It was the deep green turtle neck he had been wearing under the jacket, it had set off his pale eyes much too nicely.
He shook himself and took another bite, reprimanding himself on thoughts like that about bloody Malfoy of all people. But still, he HAD looked rather nice, and there was no fault to be found in simply thinking about it, so long as he didn’t tell anyone.
He smiled to himself and took another bite. He’d always secretly approved of Malfoy’s looks and uncanny ability to wear just the right thing to drive the female students mad; he’d even occasionally wondered how they would have gotten on if the blonde hadn’t been placed in Slytherin.
Over the past two years Malfoy had outgrown is angelic childhood looks, and grown into the looks of a fallen angel. Which meant he looked beautiful, but utterly dangerous. Harry had noted it all, along with many other students.
He finished the sandwich and slipped from the fountain’s edge. He darted through the traffic on the roundabout and headed back to the hotel. He wanted to finish the Quidditch book before the evening, so he could spend a little more of tomorrow visiting the city.
He spent the third day visiting the tourist places.
On his way past he had stopped in the newsagents and bought a single use camera, he planned to develop the photos once back at Hogwarts. He looked at the different tourist busses, wondering which to choose for a while, then gave up and jumped onto one of the red ones, racing to the top floor to get a good seat.
He spent a long time on that trip, taking photos of the nicer things, remembering where everything was so he could revisit later in the holiday and generally having fun, feeling like a normal tourist.
Afterwards he decided to visit the roman baths. On Hermione’s advice, he tried the water.
He wished he hadn’t, it had made him feel like a vampire, the stuff tasted like blood because of the iron content.
Around two in the afternoon, he found himself sitting on one of the benches, eating his way through a bag of apple slices, thoughtfully watching the people walking past.. When someone sat down next to him, he paid little attention, just shuffled up the bench a little to give more room.
A moment of companionable silence, then, “Enjoying your self, Potter?”
Harry turned and looked at the person who had sat next to him. It was Malfoy. Of Course, wouldn’t be anybody bloody else would it?
“Thoroughly,” he stated, and continued with the apple slices.
Malfoy was looking annoyingly handsome again, this time wearing smart black trousers and a short sleeved flame covered shirt over a long sleeved black t-shirt. Again his hair and eyes were striking.
Harry tried to ignore it.
“Seen Victoria park yet?”
Harry shook his head no, wondering why Malfoy was again being civil. “Not yet.”
Malfoy leaned forward, elbows on his knees and looked up at him. “Feel like taking a walk up to it now?”
Harry looked at him a moment, taking in the bored expression on his face, then shrugged. “Sure. Just don’t pull anything, I’m in a better mood today, don’t want to spoil it.”
Draco was surprised when he’d seen Harry.
There was no real reason to be, as Potter had told him he was in town for two weeks, but he still hadn’t expected to see him just sitting on a bench in the middle of the street, staring off into space occasionally slipping an apple slice into his mouth.
So, after a pause, knowing he’d probably be bored out of his brain all day if he didn’t, he sat down next to him and asked him if he was enjoying himself.
And now they were sat on the grass in the play park area of what the locals had nicknamed ‘Vicky’ Park.
They’d spent most of the walk in silence, passing through Queens Square on the way, occasionally asking some polite question, giving each other short, to the point answers. When they’d actually reached the park proper, he’d watched closely as Potter had shown obvious signs of enjoying himself, and the views, looking closely over almost everything.
It was interesting to watch the reactions of someone who had never seen a place so familiar to yourself. It was doubly interesting to watch those reactions coming from Potter. There was something about him that made it impossible not to watch him. Potter’s enthusiasm was almost infectious.
He’d watched in silence as Potter’s green eyes had lit up, as a smile broke the sombre expression, had looked on in mild confusion as he took photos with the muggle camera - and annoyance as he had his own photo taken a few times - and listened as he talked, about this being his first real holiday and the way he was actually enjoying himself for the first time in weeks.
Then Potter had bought them an ice-cream each and sat himself down under the tree, watching the children playing in the play area. He’d sat next to him, in mild surprise at having had an ice-cream thrust into his hands, and now they were sat in silence, eating and watching.
He caught himself three times watching Potter lick the ice-cream out of the corner of his eye, and once even thought he saw Potter looking at him.
“So – how’s the holiday going so far?”
Draco looked up. He shrugged, “Fine I suppose. Bloody Crabbe and Goyle are off with their families, mom’s being no end of trouble, and the mansion’s getting stuffy.”
Potter nodded, “Ah, so that’s what you’re doing in Bath.”
Potter had said it as if he had finally got the answer to a question that had been puzzling him. “Yes. I’m staying in a hotel for three weeks, getting away from it.” He licked a bit of melted ice-cream from his skin, trailing his tongue up the icy path that ran down his wrist, “Blergh,” he commented with a slight grin.
Potter laughed lightly with a strange expression on his face, then shrugged and continued with his own, appearing to concentrate on the children below them.
“So how’s yours then?” Draco raised a quizzical eyebrow. He watched as Potter’s expression darkened, as his shoulders hunched slightly. “That bad, huh?”
“Malfoy, you have no idea.”
Draco was a little perturbed, but persisted in the question until Potter leaned back against the tree and lifted his eyes to the cloudless sky.
“I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but, you’re here, so I may as well. You’ve heard the rumours about my family I take it?”
Draco nodded, there were a good few, one or two started by himself in the early years, though the more reputable ones he’d heard included the one about Potter living in a cupboard till he was eleven, being used as a slave by his uncaring Aunt and Uncle and the one about his not having a single friend until he’d started at Hogwarts.
He had actually laughed them off as ludicrous, thinking them made up to discredit him, as his own had been. Surely the Great Harry Potter had had a great home life? He was the damn hero of the wizarding world!
“Well, the one about living in a cupboard is true; I lived in the cupboard under the stairs until Hagrid turned up, now I live in the smallest bedroom.” There was a minute pause, “I wasn’t exactly a ‘slave,’ more like someone to fob off all the unwanted jobs onto, and I never had friends until Hogwarts – all the other kids were too scared to go near me because of my cousin.”
Draco looked a little shocked, but Potter smiled, “The other rumours, such as beatings and chains and stuff, they’re not real, and I can hazard a guess as to who started them.”
Draco felt a little uncomfortable under Potter’s gaze.
“Anyway, since I started at Hogwarts, they’ve gotten a little better, but not by much. Which is why I’m not really enjoying the holiday. Uncle Vernon, big git that he bloody is, booked me into a tiny little room and kept the key, which is why I was in a bad mood when we met the other day, I couldn’t get back into my room till they returned from doing whatever they’re doing.”
Draco looked at him in silence, “I take it you’ve got the key back now?”
He watched as Potter grinned, “Yeah, after dinner the first night, I cornered him and my aunt in front of the entire hotel and asked for them.”
Draco raised an eyebrow, smiling slightly to himself as he finished the ice-cream. So Potter really had had a crap life. Well that threw out the window anything he’d previously thought about him. Or nearly everything, anyway.. He still thought he had nice eyes.
He was a gimp, but he had nice eyes.
He rolled his eyes at himself over the patently stupid thought.
He glanced at Potter and found him looking at him. He’d also finished his ice-cream and was now sitting with his knees drawn up, arms wrapped loosely round them. The t-shirt he was wearing was pulled tightly over wiry muscles, the trademark of a Seeker. For a moment their eyes locked, and then Potter turned away, looking down the hill at the children again.
“Why are you being so affable?”
Draco was slightly shocked by the question. He shrugged, and when he noticed Potter wasn’t looking, he said, “Don’t know really, didn’t feel the need to be so annoying while out of school I suppose.”
He watched Potter carefully, when he nodded, he relaxed and settled back a bit, still keeping an eye on the raven-haired boy sitting a few inches before him and to his left. He thought about when he really had hated Potter. He had hated him for so many years, but over the past one, he had realised it was pointless, they were growing up and soon would be going their own ways, and what would he have to remember from his school years?
Last year, to the consternation of his house, he had cut down on the arguing and insults at the same time as he had pulled slowly out of the social circles, the former hadn’t been easy, as Potter had been particularly touchy in sixth year. According to rumour it was because of a death in the family during the same fight that had gotten his father thrown into Azkaban.
For just a moment he let his mind wonder to the events that had changed his outlook on life and gave a barely noticeable shudder, forcing himself out of his reverie as Potter began rummaging in his bag. He watched interestedly as the Gryffindor pulled out a small notepad and a biro then scribbled something on a clear page. When he was done, he tore the page out, folded it and handed it over.
“Here, that’s where I’m staying. If you get bored over the next couple of weeks or something-” Potter shrugged, his cheeks flushing ever so slightly, and then stood, slinging the bag back over his head and shoulder.
“Thanks Potter.” He read the note, “Pultney? That is expensive. I should think even your cheap rooms not too shabby.”
Potter grinned, “Yeah, it’s alright really. See you around then, yeah?”
Draco nodded and watched as Potter walked away, back the way they had come. A moment later that slim form turned slightly and he waved, a strange smile on his face, before continuing on.
Harry found he had enjoyed himself today. The first few hours exploring Bath in the tour bus, and wandering around the Roman Baths had been a great start to the day, and then meeting Malfoy -
That had been different. He had never thought he would ever enjoy being around the blonde, but today… He smiled to himself as he walked; remembering the way Malfoy had licked the trail of ice-cream from the back of his hand. It had made him shiver and to cover it he had forced a laugh and turned away, trying to hide his embarrassment.
He couldn’t believe he had sat there and actually told Malfoy anything about himself, even if it was only confirmation of a few rumours and minor information on how his holiday was going. But he had felt good for talking, for getting the little things off his chest, and he had felt good talking to Malfoy full stop.
It had been pure impulse when he had written down his hotels address and handed it over, but he had felt that if anything, Malfoy just wouldn’t give it a second thought.
He hoped the Slytherin would use the address at some point, as he was getting used to the new version of his old adversary. He realised now that Malfoy had been changing over the past year or so, and it only now hit him because he didn’t have Ron constantly telling him how much he hated him.
He got back to the hotel on autopilot, still thinking, grinned at the receptionist – an expensive looking man this time, whom he thought handsome in a rather plastic way – and went straight to his room, closing and locking the door behind him.
The fourth day found him sitting on the huge grass lawn in front of the Royal Crescent after exploring the restored house on the end of the street.
He was lying on his back, staring up at the sky, relaxing and wondering what to do next. He had his head propped up on his bag and hands folded over his chest, he had taken his glasses off, as the heat had kept making them slide down his nose, so he couldn’t see particularly well, but he didn’t mind, he was only looking at the white blobs above him.
He closed his eyes momentarily, listening to the sounds of American and Japanese tourists not too far behind him. They made him smile, the American’s constantly blundering around, and the Japanese making interested noises at almost everything.
He’d been fortunate enough to have been following a few round the restored house, it had been an interesting learning experience, both in the beauty of the house and in the nature of tourists.
He sighed; realising there really was very little else to do now that he had seen most of the tourist attractions. He thought he could maybe get a bus somewhere to see the rest of the county, but without really knowing the time tables, he knew he may get stranded. He didn’t really relish the idea of trying to find somewhere to stay the night in any of the neighbouring towns.
He heard movement, and without quite knowing how, he knew it was Malfoy. He opened his eyes and there he was, standing over him, looking down, his straight blonde hair falling over his face, obscuring all but his eyes. Though most of this was lost on Harry without his glasses.
He reached out and picked them up, sticking them in place, squinting against the sunlight to get a better look at the boy standing over him.
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