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The Edge of the Earth

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“No. Absolutely not. I’m not doing it. I’ve changed my mind,” Draco says flatly, staring out at the dark, rolling waves of Malibu.

“C’mon,” Harry wheedles, nudging him in the shoulder. “You’ve been practicing.”

“Levitated over dry land,” Draco points out, grey eyes wide. The sun is barely peeking over the horizon, and the sky matches his gaze. “Besides, it’s too cold. We could try coming back when it’s warmer?”

“The waves are glassier when the breeze is gentle, like it is now. And I’ll cover you with warming charms,” Harry promises. “Practicing on dry land is like learning to straddle a broom without kicking off. There’s no fun in it.” Draco mumbles something that sounds suspiciously like, why did I help you get your memory back and Harry snorts.

He takes a deep inhale of the ocean air, tangy and salty enough that the scent almost lingers on his taste buds. He stretches, leaning to one side and then the other, feeling the early-morning crack of his bones as his body loosens up, and catches Draco giving him a wandering, sidelong glance.

Draco clears his throat. “We’ll probably die out there, knowing your luck.”

“Probably,” Harry agrees cheerfully. “Don’t take into account how I used to teach this for a living, or anything.”

“I won’t,” Draco says coldly enough that his voice rivals the early-morning breeze. He hesitates. “What does ‘glassy waves’ mean? They shatter?”

“The opposite, actually,” Harry explains, encouraged by his curiosity. “They’re smoother, less tumultuous. Less influenced by converging winds.”

“…Can I wear a bubble-head charm?”

“No,” Harry says firmly.

“I’m not doing it,” Draco decides again.

They’ve been going over this for twenty minutes. Exasperated, Harry looks out over the shoreline again. The waves are indeed perfect, hollow and clean, which will allow for easy teaching and a smooth ride if he can get his boyfriend off his arse. “I’ll make it worth your while.”

Draco huffs. “What on earth do you have that I want?”

Harry slants a little smile at him and Draco colours a bit, rolling his eyes. “I could—promise to stay out of the den?”

The den is the cause of one of their recurring fights; Harry tends to adopt the area for his own when he’s working late on a case, and it drives Draco spare to have his own work shoved aside or hidden under Harry’s case files. Grimmauld Place has plenty of spare room and Harry could easily go to the attic or redecorate a guest room or some such nonsense, except he rather enjoys the way Draco reacts when he’s fed up.

A faint flicker of interest crosses Draco’s face and then fades, and Harry knows he’s also thinking of how they usually resolve their twice-monthly fights. “You always promise to stay out of there,” he sulks. “Why on earth would I trust you to do it now?”

“I’ll go in late to work every day for a week to cook you breakfast,” Harry offers.

This time Draco really looks tempted. He’s rather fond of Harry’s breakfasts, Harry knows, and morning food usually means morning sex that they don’t have to rush through before work. After a moment, though, he shakes his head. “You know how Spark cries when you cook on a weekday,” he says regretfully.

Harry feels a surge of amused tenderness for him; they’ve been together for nearly three years, and Draco still manages to surprise him.

Pursing his mouth, Harry pulls his trump card; he knew it would come to this, anyway. His smile turns sly. “I’ll do that thing you’ve been bugging me about.”

Draco narrows his eyes suspiciously. “What thing?”

“You know the thing,” Harry says, letting his gaze slide to Draco’s mouth, then down the length of his body.

Draco licks his lips. “You said you wouldn’t try that again.”

“Only because you couldn’t take it seriously,” Harry returns. His pulse starts to pound and he’s aroused in spite of himself. “You kept laughing. Instant soft-on. Yes or no?”

Draco snickers. “Yes. You slag.”

Harry laughs. He checks on their boards, but his charm is holding up; they sit upright, propped by magic so fins don’t dig into the earth. He looks off again to the direction of the surf, burrowing his bare feet into the cold sand for one delicious moment. The sun has crept up further over the horizon, parting the earth and sky, and the mist is starting to burn off the water’s surface, allowing greens and blues to mix in with the murky morning grey of the ocean.

“All right, wetsuits on,” he announces.

Draco groans softly, his lip curling as his hand automatically closes over the suit Harry hands him. “You actually mean for us to wear these?”

Harry ignores him, shrugging out of his jeans and t-shirt until he’s in his speedo. It’s freezing with no cover but Draco’s complaints stall and Harry glances up to see Draco watching him, mouth slightly agape, eyes glazed. He feels a twitch of interest in his groin but studiously turns his mind away; putting on a wetsuit is hard enough without an erection in the way.

“Maybe we really should come back later,” Draco says in a strained voice as Harry struggles to wiggle the suit up over his hips.

Harry smirks. “I’ll let you take it off with your teeth after if you let me do the same.”

Draco’s mouth presses into a thin line. He begins stripping off his button down and rolled-up trousers as Harry slides his arms into the holes of his suit and zips himself up. Then he takes his turn, openly staring at Draco as his long, pale limbs are slowly revealed. The speedo Harry has picked for him is intriguingly tight, and Harry ponders Draco’s suggestion for a moment as his breath catches. Draco has the quintessential swimmer’s body; he's tall and lean and toned and covered in a fine layer of muscle that makes him look almost too slender when he’s wearing his clothes. When he’s not—it’s almost indecent how sexy he is.

Harry casts multiple sun-protective charms over his fair skin, then looks away toward the water, and tries to think of other things. At this rate, they may never get out there.

Not that that would be the worst thing.

He hears a fumbling noise and glances back over to see Draco hopping on one foot, looking panicked. Harry chuckles and reaches out a hand to steady him, grasping the muscles bunching in his forearm. Draco accepts the help but glares at him as he manages to wrangle the wetsuit up with a grunt. “You act like I’ve done this before,” he grumbles.

“You’re cute when you don’t know anything,” Harry teases, and Draco looks murderous. He also looks really, really good in the tight wetsuit. The navy neoprene sets off his complexion, highlighting the pink flag over his sharp cheekbones.

“I think you’re confusing us.”

Harry puts on a wounded look. “That was low.”

For a moment, Draco blinks at him in astonishment. Then his face relaxes and he scoffs. “Shut it, Potter, or you’ll regret making that deal with me.”

“I never regret the deals I make with you,” Harry murmurs over the little thrill that goes through him whenever Draco uses his surname. And it’s true, anyway; he’s never regretted a single moment since meeting Draco—he doesn’t even begrudge Draco’s compulsive need to win most of their fights, or which ways he likes to take his pound of flesh.

Harry shivers and Draco eyes him with interest.

Coughing, Harry points his wand at the sand to set down a blanket charm and lays out their surfboards side by side. They’re both high quality, but he’s picked out a steady longboard for Draco and a short board for himself, which turns out to be a point of contention when Draco finally sees them together.

“Why do you get the better board?”

Shaking his head, Harry nudges him. “You’ve been practicing on the longboard. It’s easier and safer to surf on for beginners. There’s more room for your feet and it’ll give you better stability.”

“…So you’re saying you picked out a dangerous board for yourself,” Draco says after a moment. “As if this whole thing isn’t bound to kill us, anyway.”

Just barely, Harry refrains from rolling his eyes. “I’m more experienced. My board will give me better manoeuvrability in the waves.”

“You haven’t been surfing in over three years,” Draco points out.

“It’s like riding a broom,” Harry promises easily, and, grudgingly, Draco’s shoulders seem to ease down from their position of hunched tension.

“So, what now? We just—run into the frigid water?” Draco asks sarcastically.

“No, now we practice again,” Harry says, ignoring Draco’s squawk of disbelief. “Just a few times; I want to make sure you’ve got it.”

With a frustrated sigh that promises retribution, Draco lays out flat on his longboard. He mimics paddling the way Harry has shown him, looking bored, and then thrusts his palms flat under his chest against the soft top shell and pops up onto his feet. Harry takes him through five or six runs, just because it’s sort of hot watching Draco’s arse bunch and soften right before he jumps up, and also it’s fun to watch him get more and more irritated.

“I’m about to Apparate away,” he warns on the seventh round.

Harry sighs and furtively adjusts himself. “Fine, you’re good,” he allows. “I didn’t know you were so anxious to get in the water.”

Draco does that mumbling thing again, during which Harry catches the words, over with and also, better yet, take you across my knee. He stands up and pointlessly brushes the sand off the bottoms of his feet, then gazes at the water. There are a couple of other surfers off in the distance; this beach is rather remote, for Malibu, which is why Harry picked it.

Harry stares at Draco, who is chewing his lip. “Do you want me to show you, first?”

Draco looks at him nervously. “Maybe just to prove to me I’m not going to freeze my arse off in the water.”

Harry blankets him with an absent warming charm, deliberately not paying attention to Draco’s almost filthy little groan of delight. He drops a kiss onto Draco’s surprised mouth, grabs his board, and runs headlong into the waves.

The water is icy and perfect, washing off any memory cobwebs that had him doubting if he still knew how to do this. Everything feels real and familiar, feels good, from the near-freezing temperature of the spray hitting him to the fiberglass top of his board pressed against his belly and the tops of his thighs. He cuts his hands through the inside of the break in a quick paddle, rising with the swell as he gets out deeper, then duck-dives beneath the surface as the higher barrels crash over him. Soon enough, he’s out past the break. He straddles the board and clasps his ankle to the leash, then steers toward the shore for a moment. Draco looks small in the distance, even with Harry’s glasses Imperviused and stuck to his face with a charm, but when Harry waves, Draco waves back, if a little tentatively. Harry looks toward the A-frame of waves he’s paddled toward and sees a good set coming at him. Cupping his hands around his mouth, he shouts, “Just watch!” and directs his board into the swell.

He feels a strange moment as he paddles where the world shifts disconcertingly. He remembers with startling clarity what his first successful surf was like, that strange recognition as he flew over the water, ears roaring louder than the ocean, his balance firm and perfect, the warm air whipping against his face. That split second of I know this, even though he didn’t.

His heart races with excitement as he works to catch the wave, arms moving swiftly through the tumultuous waters, but soon he is rising, rising, and his mind goes empty with adrenaline as his muscles recognise what comes next and he pops up. Harry adjusts his stance automatically when the nose of the board lifts slightly out of the water, and then he is flying, in the way he hasn’t in years, arms out as he steers onto the swell of the ocean. He barely misses the white break at the top, so he angles instead into the hollow of the wave and skims along the glass, feet sure and fingers slicing through the inside of the curl of water.

The wave crashes over him before he can slide through the opening at the end and he loses his breath for a moment, his bearings, until he opens his eyes to the sting of salt and sees the direction of his own bubbles. He strokes toward the surface, sucking in a relieved breath, then levers back onto his board and paddles toward the shore.

Draco looks marginally more interested now. “Well,” he drawls, “That wasn’t entirely unimpressive.”

“It took me four years to get that unimpressive,” Harry says with a snort, shaking the excess water from his hair. “My first time out I couldn’t even stand up on the board; it kept tipping. Still want to try?”

Taking this as the challenge that Harry knew he would, Draco’s eyes glint at him. “Lead the way.”

“Okay. A couple of things first: don’t try to stand to begin with.” Draco looks fairly outraged at this, but Harry gives him a hard look and is satisfied with the clipped nod of acknowledgment he gets back before he continues, “You’ll want to let your body get used to the flow of the waves. So we’re going to be looking the smaller, closer, breaking waves. It takes an entirely different set of muscles to ride a broom than a board, all right?”

“As if you don’t work out my muscles every single fucking day,” Draco mutters under his breath. It sounds like a complaint, but isn’t. Harry snickers.

“Different from those, even,” he says. “We’re going to just walk out behind some of the closer breaks and stand beside our boards for a few rounds until we find a good wave for you to try. Then you’ll pull yourself onto your board and paddle to the crest of it and let it carry you. Got it?”

Draco sniffs. “As I’m not an idiot or a child, Harry, yes, I’ve got it.” He mumbles something else about perfectly classless Californians and not liking what this state does to your ego and Harry ignores that, too.

“All right, then,” he says briskly. “Come on.”

They head out into the water, which is picking up and getting frothier with the influx of winds carrying the tide in. Harry feels for his wand, hidden inside the tight arm of his wetsuit against his forearm, and is soothed by its solid length. They walk out into the waves, past the rushing, curling water, and Draco hisses at the cold a bit but only raises his eyebrows when Harry glances at him.

When they’re nearly chest deep, Harry stops and Draco idles next to him.

“Should I get on the board now?” he asks after a moment when Harry doesn’t say anything.

Harry shakes his head. “Get under the water first; get your head wet. It’ll help with getting used to the temperature.”

“You promised me warming charms,” Draco murmurs, but dutifully ducks his head under the water, then comes and wipes his face with a wet hand. Droplets of water cling to his skin and pale lashes, and his hair, when wet, darkens to pale gold. Harry admires the look of it for a moment before casting a gentle warming charm at him.

“I meant it,” he grins. “But I can’t warm the water, and that’s something you’ll have to get used to.”

“So do I get to stand on the board now?” Draco huffs impatiently.

“Not the first few times. We’ll get to that.” He doesn’t add you’ll fall, a lot, though he’s tempted—just to see the look on Draco’s face. “Okay, here comes a good one. Angle the nose of your board toward the shore, and when I tell you to, pull yourself up and paddle as fast as you can.” The rise is small, but getting bigger, and when Harry sees the peak of white at the top of it, he says, “Now.”

Harry gives an example of it and, as gracefully as if Draco’s been doing it for years, he pulls himself onto his own surfboard and begins to paddle alongside. His form is beautiful as he swims away from the wave coming at him; his torso is flat, his chest slightly elevated. His arms cut expertly through the water from several feet away as the wave lifts him and Harry is preparing to be truly impressed when—

Draco tries to stand.

His pop-up should work, and would have, if they weren’t so close inland, and if he weren’t balancing so close to the front of his board. As soon as he gets to his feet and plants them, the front of his board dips into the water and the weight of the wave kicks him off, pearling him arse over elbow with a mighty splash.

He comes up spluttering indignantly, which Harry can barely hear over the sound of his own howls.

“Shut up,” Draco says furiously after he rights himself. He grips his board with one hand and sloshes through the water over to Harry, who has slid off his board and is still laughing helplessly at the image, replaying in his mind, of Draco’s startled face before it was submerged.

“S-s-sorry! It’s just—I tried to-to-to t-tell you,” Harry gets out, giggling like a child. Draco shoves him and Harry barely catches himself before falling backward. “Will you listen to me, this time?”

Why didn’t that work?” Draco demands (instead of agreeing, Harry notes with wary amusement).

“The wave was too close to the shore, and not high enough to prop your full weight. Your feet were too far forward, and the nose of the board tipped and probably caught a current under you. Plus, it was your first fucking time, Draco,” Harry rattles off, trying hard to level out his grin.

Draco looks at him. “I am good at everything I do,” he says after a moment, voice going low. He eyes Harry speculatively and Harry’s laughter fades; something hot and greedy coils inside his belly. It occurs to him to wonder why he’d been so amused a moment ago, but it’s hard to think of other things when Draco looks at him that way.

“I know,” he concedes huskily, walking closer to Draco, who is staring at him, heavy-lidded. His arms slip around Draco’s waist, feeling the slick covering of his wetsuit as he tugs the other man forward and tilts his own chin up for a kiss.

Draco meets him halfway, lips cold but mouth pressing; he opens his mouth to Harry, and Harry groans at the heat there, the wet slide of his tongue as his mouth widens. He tangles his hand into Harry’s dripping hair and jerks Harry’s head back but follows it into the kiss so that Harry’s neck is arched backward, throat exposed as Draco takes control and licks into him, tongue rubbing against his, mouth sucking at his lower lip. The water rises and lowers around them and Harry feels suddenly lost in all of his familiar territory, the way he always does when Draco’s hands are on him; the way he always has, since Draco found him, lost and found and both at once.

For so many years, there had just been darkness, this giant void filled with the not knowing and the what if. And then he’d met a posh young man in a sharp suit on the beach, and the man had later kissed him under the cold light of the stars, kissed him like he was kissing him now, as if there was nothing else on earth for him to focus on, as if he could eat Harry alive if Harry would let him and Harry had wanted to—he always wants to—and his world had slowly clicked back into place. Brought back into the light by the person he would never have suspected capable. And all of the not knowing and what if were somehow replaced with blind faith and I want.

Draco pulls him closer until their chests are brushing, and Harry can feel the constricted length of his erection growing against his stomach. Draco’s arm is a steady pressure as it circles his back, hand on his opposite ribs now, and Harry’s body responds instinctively as he tastes the warmth of Draco’s mouth.

With great effort, he pulls away. Draco’s eyes are dark, intent with lust, and he clutches at Harry tighter for a moment before releasing him.

“So,” he says, deceptively casual but for the slight hitch to his breathing, “The nose of my board went under?”

Harry feels confused, shocks of desire still snaking through him, and he stares at the other man for a moment before his mind catches up. “Er.”

“Kneazle got your tongue?” Draco says innocently, giving a wicked little eyebrow lift.

Harry shakes his head to clear it. Bastard. “Don’t try to stand again,” he orders severely. “Just follow my instructions.”

Draco gives him a narrow look, but finally snorts and shrugs. “Fine,” he says with bad grace, then turns on Harry without another word and heads back out to the approximate spot they were in before.

Harry takes him through it several more times, and Draco obediently and successfully body-surfs as the sun continues to rise above them. When they’ve been at it for a couple of hours and Harry can see Draco’s impatience begin to crease the corners of his mouth again, he calls for a break.

They trudge to the shore and prop their boards again, collapsing against the sand next to each other, which has warmed in the sunlight. Harry wipes his hands on a towel and starts searching through his moleskin bag for the snacks he’s packed.

“Ugh,” Draco says in disgust, sounding exhausted. “Salt water. Dry and clean me?”

“Not a wizarding beach, Draco.”

“So?” Draco gives him an incredulous look. “Wizards spit fire on the Venice walk; I’ve seen it!”

“Right,” Harry says around a mouthful of banana. He half-peels another and hands it over to Draco. “But they’re there and we’re here, and those guys over there have been watching you for the last twenty minutes.”

Grey eyes blink at him, startled, for a moment. Draco grabs the fruit and then glances over into the direction of the two surfers, about thirty feet down the beach, who keep glancing their way. They’re young and athletic and good looking, and Harry feels the dark curl of something unpleasant in his stomach as Draco preens a bit.

“Stop it,” he growls.

“Stop what?” Draco asks, lashes fluttering ridiculously. He brings the banana up to his mouth and, meeting Harry’s eyes, stretches his mouth over the length of it.

“Bite,” Harry grits out when Draco just holds his mouth there for a moment. Draco’s lips twist around the banana into an obscene smirk. “Eat the goddamned fruit, Draco.”

With a huff of smug laughter through his nose, Draco does. He chews slowly, eyes flicking to the way-too-interested surfers.

Harry narrows his eyes. “That’s not funny.”

“Really?” Draco begins eating the rest of the banana, more normally this time, thank Merlin. “I thought it was.”

It really isn’t. Jealousy is an emotion that Harry still can’t quite get used to; he’s never cared enough about someone to feel that sort of possessiveness, that strange craving to own them and not let anyone else touch them. Not since Ginny in sixth year, and even that doesn’t compare to what happens when he sees the gleam in Draco’s eyes as they stare at him with naked interest. And yet, there’s something underneath the anger, some confusing sort of desire that makes itself known at seeing the other men so clearly attracted to his partner—who he’s sure, deep down, would never do anything to betray his trust.

“Now they think you’re single,” he mumbles anyway.

“Well, I’m not,” Draco says blithely, his smile softening—for some reason, the frustrating arsehole feels complimented when Harry claims all of his dances or glares at men who try to flirt with him. Draco tries to assert that he’s in the worse position on that front, considering Harry’s fame and looks (which makes Harry laugh uproariously, every time) but it doesn’t feel the same. People may want Harry for what he’s done, but they just… want Draco, period.

Draco stops glancing at the men and discards the banana peel between them. Harry places his own down and discreetly Vanishes them, then pulls out two granola bars and a bottle of water. Draco looks at the bar distastefully but accepts it anyway.

“You’re giving me a rubdown, later,” he muses.

“Not with that attitude,” Harry shoots back.

“You like my attitude, Potter,” he says knowingly and dammit all to hell, he’s right.

Harry sighs and leans against his shoulder for a moment. “Are you sore already?”

“Not—sore,” Draco hedges, which is basically a yes. “Simply unaccustomed to this sort of common, Muggle activity.”

“Do you want to stop?”

“No!” Draco blurts, and Harry grins at him. He rolls his eyes. “But I’d like to warm up for a few minutes.”

Reaching out, Harry snags his zipper and pulls it down. He studiously ignores the presence of the other surfers as he wrangles the damp wetsuit off of Draco’s shoulders and then tosses him the towel. Looking confused, Draco slips his arms all the way out, shoving the suit down to his waist, and then dries off properly.

“Better?”

“Better,” Draco agrees, sounding surprised.

Harry works his own suit off, baring his upper-torso to the air. He lets the sun dry his skin, enjoying the clean salt smell around them and the look of the sun casting glints of light off the water. After several minutes of silence during which they polish off their granola bars and pass the water back and forth, Draco runs an appreciative hand over the blade of his shoulder.

“You look good, out here,” he says quietly. “It fits you. Do you ever think about—”

Harry’s mouth quirks. “Taking it up again?”

Draco nods. “If you really miss it, maybe we could…”

“I really miss it,” Harry allows, oddly touched. “But not as much as I missed home, before I even knew where that was.”

“People don’t recognise you here. As often,” Draco amends, reminding Harry of the wizard who’d approached them the previous night as they’d strolled down the Promenade in Santa Monica, and had gushed until a crowd had started to form and take photos, convinced they were looking at some foreign film-star. Harry had signed an autograph just to be able to escape, which he doesn’t really have to do anymore at home as it’s become a common enough occurrence to see him walking in Diagon Alley or interviewing witnesses for a case.

“England is home,” he says simply. “You’re there. Ron and Hermione, the Weasley’s. But—thanks.”

Draco leans over and brushes a light kiss just under Harry’s ear. Harry can feel his inhale as he does so. “Salt water smells good on you.”

“It’ll taste better when you lick it off me, later,” Harry returns slyly and Draco gives a choked laugh.

“Weren’t you supposed to be teaching me something?”

“Back to complaining?” Harry sighs, then levers himself to his feet. He lends a hand to Draco and pulls him up as well.

“You do what makes you look good and I’ll do what makes me look good,” Draco says loftily as they restore their mostly-dry suits back in place. Harry snorts.

They head back into the water and Draco does, indeed, continue to complain (mostly under his breath again) about not being allowed to stand. Harry sets him through the paddling paces for another half-hour before finally giving in. He wants Draco to be able to try, at least, before noon rolls around and low tide hits; there aren’t enough sandy beach breaks under the water in this section of Malibu to allow for many good waves for a beginner.

“All right!” he capitulates when Draco starts sneering. He’s vaguely ashamed of what a turn-on it is. “Fine! Follow me.”

He runs through the basics of doing a duck-dive under an oncoming swell to get into deeper water, and Draco listens intently, then proceeds on his own without waiting for Harry to finish. Exasperated, Harry watches him paddle off and execute the dive perfectly, once, then again, until he’s past the larger swell of incoming waves. Harry rolls his eyes and follows him.

When he catches up, Draco is straddling his floating board, looking contemplatively toward the shore. He grins at Harry, open, almost edging on excited. “Now what?”

Unable to help himself, Harry grins back. “Now we find you a good wave. You’ll want to start off with the smaller ones; ten or twenty times before you try anything bigger and frankly, there’s no guarantee of finding that many of the right waves in one day.”

Draco scoffs a little. “So we’ll simply adjust—” he waves his hand in an abstract way.

Alarmed, Harry stares at him. “No, we’re not going to change the tides so you can surf.”

Draco laughs. “Merlin, your face.” He runs a hand through his wet hair. “What am I looking for?”

Irritated and amused (and irritated because he’s amused) Harry scans the horizon behind them. Draco hasn’t taken them too far out to grab the larger waves, either through instinct or observation, and their waiting spot is actually pretty perfect. He observes a mushy wave coming at them, rising slowly, and nods to it. “Go ahead.”

Draco’s looks at him in disbelief for a moment and then there’s a second—these are the moments Harry loves—when his face lights up. He bites down hard on his lip and flattens down to his chest, straightening his legs and arching his lower back to lift his chest as he begins to paddle furiously.

Draco is a good distance away when the swell of the wave hits Harry; he lets it carry him gently up, then back down, and keeps an eye on Draco, who seems to be doing fine. The wave begins to crest off to the left just as the lip lifts Draco and he pops up into a stance, following it through for about six feet before his board tips and he goes splashing sideways into the water. The wave rolls over him and Harry holds his breath until Draco’s pale hair breaks surface.

He paddles over.

Draco is gasping as he pulls himself onto his board, his eyes glittering with satisfaction. “I did it!”

“You did,” Harry says wryly. “You surfed almost your own height. Well done.”

“I stood up my first try,” Draco objects, giving him a half-hearted glare. He sounds so proud that Harry decides not to remind him that, in fact, he’d wiped out pretty spectacularly on his actual first attempt.

He’s not unaware that Draco has mostly agreed to this whole thing to please him, and it makes him feel warm inside when he thinks about it. Draco’s a sharp businessman, a good, solid friend to those he cares about, and a doting son, but he doesn’t often venture out of his comfort zone (except perhaps in bed, but that doesn’t really count because Harry’s pretty sure he has no zoned boundaries there, period). So, it actually Means Something that he’s so willing to try his hand at this Muggle sport that Harry spent so long teaching, that he’s willing to possibly not be great at something, for once, just because Harry likes it and wanted to do it with him.

“Right, sorry. No, it was good. It was actually pretty great for your first stand,” Harry smiles. “Want to try for another?”

Draco’s returning smile is as blinding as the light on the water.

They spend the next hour searching for waves. They take turns; Harry paddles to the inside, between the waves and the shore where the water is frothy-white, and keeps watch as Draco, further out, selects waves based on the criteria Harry has given him. He looks for swells that crumble at the crest, that don’t produce much power or speed or height when traveling inland and growing, and catches two out of every three, falling just as often as not. But he’s lost that put-upon look on his face, and when he paddles back to where Harry stands, hip-deep in the tumultuous water, to switch off with him, his grey eyes are exhilarated and he even says, “Go on, then, Harry. Impress me.”

For a moment, Harry is tempted not to. Even when rubdowns and muscle-relaxing potions, it’s entirely possible both of them will be too exhausted tonight for anything other than sleep, and Draco’s excitement over surfing tends to translate into a different sort in Harry’s head and body, Pavlovian though it is. But Draco just raises his eyebrows expectantly, and so Harry makes his way for the deeper waves as the offshore winds pick up, creating larger swells for him.

He pulls out all of the stops with the few decent waves he manages to find; slashing off the top of the waves and throwing spray, carving a perfect turn inside the pocket, and performing a kick-out by turning around at the end of the wave and finishing off his ride on top of it. He even manages a decent aerial flight, jumping with his board several centimetres off the surface, though his landing leaves something to be desire and he ends up wiping out into the crashing water.

When it looks like the waves are starting to go a bit flat, Harry drags himself inland. Draco is waiting patiently and he does, indeed, look impressed. “Where did you learn that movement of flight? Did you use your wand?”

Harry laughs. His arms have gone to noodle, but he slings one of them around Draco’s waist and squeezes his hip. “It’s just a manoeuvre. I didn’t land it right.”

“Well, that’s a relief,” Draco says dryly. “I didn’t suppose it was supposed to look like that. You’re generally more athletically graceful than the red cheek would indicate.”

Harry rubs his sore cheek, which had hit the water with too much force. “Graceful, am I?”

Usually,” Draco clarifies. “And athletically. Stop trying to make up compliments where there are none.”

“Shut up,” Harry returns, more affectionately than he intends. “Are you ready to go in? The waves are dying a bit. We could get some lunch.”

Draco appears to consider for a moment, staring out to where the water meets the sky, which has turned into a deep blue bowl above them. His face, despite the skin-protective charms in place, is starting to show definite signs of sunburn over his cheekbones and nose and forehead, and beyond that, looks tired.

“Once more,” he decides.

Harry tightens his hand on Draco’s hip again before releasing him and Draco climbs back onto his board. His paddle is a little more sluggish now, but he dutifully makes his way out, beyond the incoming tides. Harry waits indulgently, and sees the moment Draco picks out his wave, and then a moment later he’s paddling furiously toward it, catching it just in time. It’s coming in a bit fast and high, but has a nice close-out, breaking into soft white water all along the length of it simultaneously.

He does a perfect pop-up, balancing with his arms out, and manages to take the drop down the face of the wave, even as it continues to rise. And then he’s flying too, several long, flawless moments during which Harry can do nothing but gape as admiration and lust zing through him, looking at Draco’s exquisite form and balance as he surfs frontside, facing the wave, which continues to grow.

He’s so distracted by the beauty of Draco’s ride that all he notices is a tingle of uncertainty for a split second, and then the knowledge hits Harry with the force of a Bludger to the temple. The wave is not stopping where it’s supposed to, and Draco is too deep in pit to ease out, skidding down onto the bottom curve of the wave even as it climbs over him. He seems to instinctively understand that he should duck and so he does, bending his knees and coming lower to keep his balance on the surface tension, but it’s no use; he’s fully locked in.

Harry freezes, conflicted as to his course of action even as it’s happening; a rough edge of the swell inside the barrel must clip Draco’s board because he goes toppling backward, partially obscured by the breaking of the wave over him. Harry sees his board twist, knocking into his head, and he brings up his arm to cast a panicked bubble-head charm with the wand tucked in his sleeve even as Draco goes limp and disappears under the water.

The wave continues to churn, blue turning to pale greens mixed with whites, and Harry pushes away everything, adrenaline wiping out all of his senses as he scans the ocean frantically, knowing Draco is getting worked over by the water. The seconds tick by slowly, and then it’s been too long and Harry doesn’t even know if he managed to get the charm over Draco’s head, so he sloshes forward through the water, reaches his arm out and—and pulls.

The force of magic that he hadn’t even realised was gathering in his wrist blasts out of his hand rather than his wand; he feels it leave him, feels the strange, bending stretch as the ocean itself bends to his will and parts in disconcerting, sideways tides, leaving tracks in the water like opalescent fireworks and then the choppy sea is calm and Draco’s pale hair appears above the surface as he’s dragged by the power of Harry’s magic or perhaps love over to Harry’s side.

Harry grabs him under the armpits and wrestles him to the shore, hands roving desperately to check for breaks, even as he notes with crazed reassurance that the bubble-head charm took. There’s a rapidly deepening bruise flourishing from his temple up into his hairline and Harry pops the charm and heals it with a frantic touch of his wand, then slides his hands down to palpate Draco’s shoulders and collarbone, the two most common areas of injury. Draco sucks in a hard breath and his eyes flutter open.

He coughs weakly. “What are you doing?”

“Breaking every single Statute of Secrecy every country has, I think,” Harry says grimly, somehow feeling more nauseated as relief swamps him than he did when he could feel nothing but terror.

“Oh.” Draco blinks. “I did a—what do the Californians call it? A hang ten,” he drawls in a bad approximation of the Californian accent.

A hysterical laugh wrenches free from Harry’s throat. “A gnarly wipe out,” Harry supplies, trying to drop his English tones. “You took a dirty licking.”

“Oh,” Draco says again. He smiles faintly. “That doesn’t sound so bad, then.”

Harry gathers him up, lifting him and holding him close around. He realises he’s shaking as Draco awkwardly pats him on the ribs because his arms are caught under Harry’s tight grip. “You’re a pain in my arse, Malfoy,” he says roughly, burying his face in the strands of Draco’s sopping hair.

“Mmm, not usually,” Draco says wryly, and Harry chokes on another laugh. “Hey. I’m all right. Really.”

“If something had happened to you—”

“But it didn’t.” His voice is stronger now, and Harry finally feels his body go pliant as Draco works his arms free and grasps Harry back in a tight hug. “Nothing happened. I happen to remember most of that, and it was pretty spectacular. Until the last bit.”

“You were,” Harry rumbles. “You were spectacular.” He kisses Draco’s ear, then his temple where the bruise was, then finds his mouth and presses a deep kiss there, too, just for reassurance. The world still feels like it’s tilting on its axis, but as Draco’s lips move steadily against his, it rights itself, clicks back into place, and Harry lets go of a shuddering sigh.

“Well then,” Draco says, pulling away. He squirms out of Harry’s grasp, and Harry releases him so he can settle back against the moist, sticky sand. Harry leans back on his heels. “Stop with the histrionics.”

Harry nods, then bites his lip.

“What?” Draco asks, flatly.

“I just—remember that thing I said we absolutely could not do?”

Draco’s eyebrows draw down in a censorious frown. “You mean the thing you promised we could—”

“No.” Harry waves his hand. “When you wanted to surf.”

“What thing?” Draco pauses. “About changing the tides?”

Harry looks around furtively. The beach has gotten more crowded, and there are definitely people staring in their direction. How much they saw, he can’t be sure.

“Yeah.” He clears his throat. “I sort of—did that. To get you out. So we should go if you’re feeling up to walking.”

Draco stares at him with astonishment and then struggles up onto his elbows. “Yes, I should say so,” he says, giving his own wary glance around.

They trudge over to where their bags are. The tide has somehow floated away both of their boards, which would be a shame if they both didn’t have plenty of money to spare and if Harry didn’t know a little surf shop where they could purchase new ones.

They gather up their things and head toward the rental car that he insisted on and Draco only agreed to because he was rather tantalized by the cherry red colour and the canvas soft-top.

They get in quickly and Harry slants a sideways glance at Draco as he settles himself, still dripping, into the passenger seat and clips his seat belt. Draco grabs his wand from the glove compartment and casts a drying charm over both of them.

“You’re really okay?”

“I’m fine,” Draco says, irritated and kind all at once. “Let’s go back to the hotel and get cleaned up. I believe you promised to take me out to lunch.”

Harry starts the car. “I promise you a lot of things,” he says with a grin.

“Oh,” Draco purrs as they begin to drive away from the brightness of the sea, “And I plan to hold you to every, single, one of them.”