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Gray Samson

Now I’m fighting hunger, swallowing on scars

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Gray Samson

”And this is where I had my first kiss,” he said, smiling, as he talked to the man sitting next to him on the bar stool. He was pointing out the window, doing his best to convince the blond that he actually knew the area. It was all a lie, of course; Gray’s first kiss had been in the Hogwarts library, and he had never lived this close to the capital. He just needed a talking point, and apparently it was a lot easier to make something up than to confess his entire sordid tale.

 

Gray had ended up giving the local gay scene a small tour after the latest book club meeting had ended on a high note. It had mostly consisted of his former classmates ignoring the book he had produced (once again) and instead badgering him about the Romania incident. His mood had turned sour, and he’d sat there with his arms crossed, until Amber had finally managed to talk (read: threaten) him back into the fold. She claimed he was getting grumpier with age.

 

She was probably right; she always was.

 

Humming to himself absentmindedly as the man he was talking to be was momentarily distracted by something else, Gray slid out of his seat and walked out. It was too warm in that bar, and the cool wind on his face felt a lot better. He really needed to this more often; it was a prominent thought in his mind, as he started to grin and turned right, with the intention of entering the next bar.

 

He hadn’t even been drinking at all all night, but it was a worthy way to pass his time, as he watched people desperately fall over each other.

 

This time, however, as he walked past the door, he immediately ran into someone. There was a moment of unexpected shock, before Gray lifted his head to peer into the man’s face. It took him a moment to realise he was incredibly good-looking; it took him another to realise he actually recognised him. “Hey, I know you!” He said, suddenly. “Wanna make out?”

 

Way to be subtle, Samson.

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Damian Wickham

'Am I too old for this?' Damian wondered (not for the first time) as he leaned back against the counter and sipped at his drink. He'd been watching people dance--around the room, around each other--for most of the night, and all their spinning was only making him feel the kind of tired that sat in your gut and wrung out your lungs.

 

It wasn't like he was the oldest guy there. Far from it, by his estimate and a quick surveillance of the bar, but clearly something else had yet to unthaw in his veins, because all his gears felt rusty at this game.

 

Maybe it had nothing to do with age and everything to do with experience. Not that experience, but life itself, and how he didn't know what to do with it now that his only child was practically going to boarding school. He worked, because he enjoyed it as much as he enjoyed anything nowadays, but he came home to the same void that gnawed at his insides.

 

Once he'd actually motivated himself to start going out again, he hadn't been sure what he was looking for, exactly. Sound, warmth, vague impressions of what he might be missing--he'd stumbled into too much of it, at first, and nothing that felt like anything real. Nothing he could hold onto.

 

Not even his drink, apparently, as he was suddenly jostled by a passerby and left with the rest of it on his sleeve. He swiped the leather jacket clean as quickly as possible, and the man offered to buy him another--Damian wondered if that was his play? It would certainly be a conversation opener, if Damian weren't already sure that he wanted to cut his losses for the night and catch his breath somewhere else. Maybe just find a good radio station and stay up late sketching so he had proof of concept when he woke up in the morning. Something real.

 

He really needed to do this less often, he decided, turning the corner around the counter and heading towards the exit. Watching people desperately fall all over each other felt like such a waste of time.

 

Someone bumped into him--or he bumped into them, or they bumped each other--for the second time that night, and though he reached out instinctively to steady the other man--unnecessary--he was startled into stillness by the fact that he recognized him from... somewhere.

 

Slender and attractive and smiling in a disarming way, whoever this was also seemed to be having a flash of recognition. That was probably bad, because if Damian didn't remember this guy's name now things would just get super awkward. He knew he must have seen him at the Java Bomb, because that was where he met most people in daylight (and he was pretty sure he'd met him in daylight because he could vaguely remember the colour of his hair being different in the sun). He also knew that his name rhymed with Kay, but had it also been one syllable?

 

As he was wracking his brain, however, the other man seemed ready to start the conversation. Damian braced himself for the usual 'it's been awhile' kind of awkwardness--

 

“Hey, I know you! Wanna make out?”

 

--and caught his breath on the end of a startled laugh. He found himself grinning, the break in tension easing so much more building up in him since the evening had began. "I know you, too," he said, the words lifting lighter from his chest than even his breaths had before. "And as fun as that sounds, at least let me buy you a drink or something first. If you start spoiling me for no reason from the start, imagine how greedy I could get by the end of the night."

 

Spoiled kids were the worst. He was so glad Kay never gave him that kind of trouble. He wondered how she—

 

—no, not the time. Focus on being whatever you are when you’re not being a dad.

 

Banter was easy, comfortable. With a few choice words you could draw the designer carpet over the cracks in your floor, and see yourself through the eyes of someone who thinks you’ve got everything under control for awhile. Though, if this guy ran in his social circle, chances were he already had an idea of where not to step.

 

Damian glanced over his shoulder at the dimly-lit bar, then back at the familiar stranger. "Doesn't have to be here," he said. "Whatever you're in the mood for." His hand was already anchored to the man's hip, spanning the width and warmth of it with just enough pressure to feel real.

Edited by Damian Wickham

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Gray Samson

Gray still couldn’t remember his name.

 

It was a good thing there was a mutual recognition, at least, and it wasn’t just Gray shooting arrows into the dark again. It had definitely happened several times before this, and maybe that was an indication he needed to stop blurting things out whenever he found someone attractive. For Merlin’s sake, he wasn’t even drunk this time.

 

At the man’s word, Gray let out a laugh. It was a full body laugh, and he didn’t think he had felt this light since the last time he had seen Blue; which was probably a good sign and he needed to stop second guessing everything. He turned a bashful look the man’s way, and oddly enough, Gray was briefly reminded of when he was sixteen and had started noticing the lines clearly painted out on his best friend.

 

Later, there had been other lines.

 

“Guess that’s settled, then,” he said, grinning. “We both know each other and you’re buying me a drink,” he hummed, happily. Maybe today wouldn’t be such a waste of time, after all. “Oh, I’m Gray,” he added, feeling like they were due for introductions already, as he felt a hand slide onto his hip. It was warm and felt comfortable right where it was.

 

Gray couldn’t quite believe this was the first time he was meeting this man. There was something special about him that made him feel instantly at ease.

 

”Hmm,” he mused, peering around him. “It does seem a bit crowded in here,” Gray muttered. “I think there’s a good one next door,” he nodded towards the entrance. He had already been planning on skipping this one as soon as he’d walked in, so this was just as good a reason to do so.

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Damian Wickham

The man, Gray, laughed with abandon, and Damian drank in the sound of it, lived in its fullness for those short seconds.

 

“Damian,” he said in response, relieved that he wouldn’t have to fumble his way through vague memories to parse out this man’s name. He gave Gray’s hip a light squeeze before he used his hand—thumb tucked cheekily into a belt loop—to turn him back around towards the door. “Lead the way.”
 
They stepped outside into the brisk evening air, Damian leaning into the autumn breeze to block the bulk of its chill from his new companion. It swept across his shoulders, beating back the sense of malaise that had accumulated there over his time in that dive of a bar. He’d removed his hand from the warmth of Gray’s hip, because they weren’t quite ready for “attached at the hip” yet—literally or figuratively—and it usually made walking awkward anyway (or frighteningly in-sync like horror movie twins). He busied his fingers with his keys and wallet, anything to keep them from reaching out for Gray's when he felt so unprepared for the intimacy of the gesture. Somehow the brush of fingertips in the cold seemed so much more meaningful than a hand at a waist.
 
The bright bar signs lit the sidewalk in unnatural shades of neon, and for a moment Damian felt overwhelmed by the sense that he was adrift in unreality, like a man stuck inside his own reflection. Unable to resist the urge to connect, he bumped Gray with his arm lightly as they walked, savouring the solidness of the contact as he broke the short silence. “So we know each other, but where from?” Damian scratched the stubble at the corner of his jaw with a thoughtful sort of turn to his lips. “Ever hang around the Java Bomb?”
 
He found himself hoping that he’d crossed paths with him in his Wizarding circles rather than his muggle ones. That was all the difference between saying, 'my daughter is at Hogwarts right now' and 'last night was fun but let’s not get too involved'. Damian had lied to a partner once, and he would never let things get that far again. Not after the way it had all fallen apart in his grasping, selfish, clumsy hands.
 
Whether or not this had the potential to last beyond tonight (let alone the next ten minutes), he’d have to close the door on it sooner rather than later, depending on how much Gray already knew. He’d rather be prepared to disassociate, and not let himself get too attached if the situation required he cut and run.
 
Truth be told, he was so tired of running.
Edited by Damian Wickham

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Gray Samson

The name didn’t ring a bell, and it sent a frown fluttering to Gray’s mouth for a second, before he managed to school it back into a smile. He knew he recognised the man, and Gray would have to meticulously pick it apart when he was alone (clearly not tonight) and figure out where he knew him from. It was very likely that the two men had crossed paths before, and the man had caught Gray’s attention, nothing more. He chose not to dwell on it; it wasn’t like there was some dark past hidden behind those eyes as they observed him.

 

The cold air managed to snap some sense into him, and Gray was suddenly aware of the absence of Damian’s hand on his hip. It made him feel lonely, and he looked up at the other man. His eyes lit up as he surveyed the stranger; there was something about him that intrigued Gray immensely. He felt a desperate need to get to know him better. It was a constant itch in his hands, forcing him to quickly stuff them in his pockets, lest he reach out instinctively.

 

He hadn’t felt like this in a really long time.

 

As the pair walked towards the neighbouring bar, Gray grinned. It was rather obvious from the way Damian kept inching closer that he was just as taken by him. It wasn’t just Gray’s wishful thinking, then. He really had read something more in Damian’s eyes. It made him feel softer inside, but he wasn’t sure how to describe the feeling - he had only just met the man, after all. He really didn’t have the right to already feel so attached. For all he knew, he could wake up tomorrow and Damian would be long gone.

 

The words died on Gray’s lips as he pushed open the door to the bar - it was a place he was actually familiar with, and one that boasted more than just drinks. The constant churning of anxiety in his stomach was turning Gray peckish, and he needed a fine selection of snacks.

 

”Wait, the Java Bomb?” He asked, a frown finally settling down on his face. It wasn’t a thought that had occurred to Gray. He had been too busy living in the moment, for once, and simply allowing himself to relish the idea of this meeting. Damian felt like a kindred spirit, and Gray hadn’t wanted to waste time thinking about technicalities, such as whether or not this man was a Muggle or a wizard, and whether or not Gray would actually be able to pursue something with him. He hadn’t allowed himself to hope.

 

Clearly, he should have.

 

He grabbed Damian’s arm and pulled him towards an empty table, far away from the rest of the patrons. “You mean to tell me you’re a wizard?” He asked in a low voice, excitement colouring his words. What a coincidence it was that they both frequented the same café, and had the same friends. “You were at Hogwarts?” He asked next, sounding like a thirteen year old all over again. Gray didn’t want to admit it, but he could feel the first flames of hope shooting through his heart, and he was grinning fit to burst.

 

Releasing Damian from his grasp, Gray held out his hand and reintroduced himself, a stupid smile dripping from his face. “Gray Samson, former Ravenclaw,” he said. He could choose to be embarrassed at a later date, but right now, he was far too giddy at his unbeliebable fortune.

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Damian Wickham

Damian trailed after Gray into the bar of choice, taking a moment to survey the room as the warmth permeated the chilled surface of his skin. It was just busy enough to suggest that the food and drinks were quality, without being so full that they would have trouble hearing each other over their neighbours.

 

He was about to compliment the other man on his selection when Gray turned towards him with a frown, echoing the name of the café he'd just brought up. Damian worried for a moment that he'd forgotten something that his impromptu date had just remembered—maybe their last interaction had been awkward, or rude, or left a bad impression?--and he was fully prepared to apologize for being a jerk, because honestly it wouldn't be the first time.

 

Except then Gray was tugging on his tattooed forearm and dragging him towards an isolated table, and it was all he could do to stumble after him and recover before the man began to question him with open enthusiasm.

 

“You mean to tell me you’re a wizard?”

 

Damian cast a glance over his shoulder, a little startled to hear it said so plainly in public—but Gray's voice was hushed, and they were far enough away that no one was within earshot or even taking note of the suddenly animated conversation. His eyes found the other man's once more, and under the brightness of them he swallowed, suddenly speechless. He managed a somewhat stiff nod before another question followed.

 

“You were at Hogwarts?”

 

This time he cracked a smile under the pressure of a short laugh. Gray looked like he'd just met his favourite celebrity, and Damian had never met anyone his age still so easy to please. He was instantly glad that he didn't have to disappoint him. He sat down even as Gray kept hold of one of his arms, propping his free elbow on the table and resting his cheek again his own rough knuckles as his smile widened, to hide how fond it probably looked. “Yeah,” he answered, deciding not to add that he'd dropped out—yet.

 

Damian had to admit that it was a relief this reveal was already a non-issue. Every topic that had been off-limits suddenly opened up, ready to spring forth without consequence.

 

Magic was real and they both knew it, and neither of them had to pretend otherwise.

 

He straightened up and took Gray's hand when it was offered, shaking it and giving him an appraising look as the man re-introduced himself as a former Ravenclaw. Damian swiped his thumb across the back of Gray's hand before releasing it with a smirk. “Wickham,” he responded, “Slytherin.” He tilted his head and added, teasing, “Though muggles frequent the Java Bomb, too, y'know. Francis probably likes them better most days. You got lucky--” and there he paused, smile softening as he made the correction, “--we got lucky, that is.”

 

Leaning over, he placed a foot against the free chair's leg and pushed it out for Gray, then slide the drink and pub food listings over his way. “C'mon, sit down and tell me what you want. My treat. And maybe a thing or two about yourself beyond the fact that you come from the nerd house,” he suggested, his tone more affectionate than intended.

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Gray Samson

Gray’s inner voice was telling him to stop beaming so much, before Damian decided he was too weird and walked off. It was a problem Gray had had since he was a teenager, where he was completely incapable of hiding his feelings. While his fellow classmates were busy concealing their emotions behind a stone wall of apathy, he was busy floating around on a cloud of bliss whenever even a slight breeze of happiness entered his life. It was just the kind of person he was.

 

All of that drained out of him when mention of the Java Bomb came up. Now Gray was frowning, and the other man had him on his toes. He was vaguely reminded of dating as a teenager and- wait, dating? Why was he already thinking in terms of them as anything yet? Dating a potential Muggle had its many pitfalls, and Gray certainly wasn’t ready for that.

 

Although, he had to admit, it would have the wonderful benefit of Damian never hearing about the Romanian incident (as he was referring to it, nowadays).

 

If only.

 

Finding a secluded corner to barricade themselves in hadn’t been all that difficult at all, which caused Gray to peer around at the bar, wondering if he’d unknowingly steered them into a seedy place - all because he couldn’t stop staring at Damian. It was an utter disgrace, in all honesty, but Gray couldn’t help but smile at the thought; it had been a long time since he’d been so smitten at first sight.

 

His smile grew even wider when the other man finally answered, and Gray was beaming, once more. It was okay if he knew about his recent trangressions, it was something they could definitely talk about. “Slytherin, huh?” His eyes twinkled, as he took a firm hold of Damian’s hand; Gray was aware that he was spending too much time touching him for a first date, but he couldn’t help it. “Guess so,” he mumbled, looking down, before he returned his eyes to Damian. “Can you believe it? Out of all the people to meet...” he trailed off, but his eyes lingered.

 

Taking the offered seat, Gray raised his eyebrows in mild amusement. “Yes, sir,” he replied, jokingly, just as affectionate as Damian. “I think I’ll just have something mild- Butterbeer, I think,” he nodded. Gray needed his head to stay clear for the night, and that wouldn’t be possible if it was clouded with alcohol.

 

“Well,” he started, nervously chewing at his bottom lip - suddenly, the Ravenclaw wondered if Damian would think he was boring and it made him feel worse than he would’ve thought possible. “I’m a history teacher, but like...pre-Hogwarts, during the summer- that kind of thing,” he nodded. “I teach Carson and Arcite’s kids,” he added. Gray wasn’t sure if Damian would know those names, but it was worth a try.

 

“What about you?” He returned, turning an intense gaze on the man in front of him. “What’s your choice of beverage?” He let the second question fall silently, allowing Damian the space to talk about himself in his own time.

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