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The island doesn't seem very large when Harry washes up onto it, but then, he's too busy vomiting the bits of ocean he swallowed to take in its size. Nearly drowning is complete rubbish, and he definitely doesn't want to repeat the experience. Once he's stopped gagging, he brushes as much sand off his clothes as possible and hauls himself to his feet.

It turns out he's right; the island's small. Harry finds two other coves besides the one he was pushed into while he's looking for fresh water, but there's nothing. Just the ocean.

It's when Harry rounds to the last beach, only available over the island's one hill, that he sees a man sunning himself on the sand, wearing nothing but a pair of trousers cut high above the knee. The man's face is blissful, the bridge of his nose reddened from sun, and it's the first sign Harry's seen of anyone else living anywhere in the place.

Harry's so surprised he doesn't notice his feet slipping out from under him, and he lands straight on his arse.

The sand's soft, so Harry doesn't make much noise, but something must have attracted the man's notice. He opens his eyes, scratches at the hair on his chest, and grins. "Where on earth did you come from, pirate?"

"I'm not a pirate," Harry says, slightly offended. "Are you all right?"

"Me? I'm not the one who looks like a soggy catfish."

The man gets to his feet, hissing as he hops across the hot sand, and balances on the balls of his feet as he crouches to Harry's level. He holds out his hands toward Harry's head, silently asking. When Harry nods, he takes off Harry's scarf and wrings it out away from him.

"Get tossed off your ship?" His voice is unexpectedly gentle as he shakes out the scarf.

Harry's throat gets thick, but he shakes his head. "Fell off."

The man's eyes crinkle when he smiles, but it doesn't seem mocking. "Unsteady beasts, aren't they? Never trusted a ship. So big and smelly."

"Smelly?" Harry laughs in spite of himself. Unfortunately, he also tips over to his side, and it's not because he's laughing.

The man catches him before he falls all the way. "No fainting on my watch."

He helps Harry over to a patch of grass underneath a palm tree and runs his hand over Harry's hair once. Harry feels his chapped lips pulling into a smile as he lets his eyes close.

-

Harry wakes again to the smell of cooking meat. He opens his eyes enough to see a small spit over a fire nearby. It's tucked behind a rock to keep the sea breeze from blowing it out, but the smell still makes it to Harry, and his mouth waters.

The sun's setting on the other side of the island, but the sky's still blue, and the ocean's just as vivid. It hurts Harry's eyes a little, but he sits up a little with delight when he spots fins flicking out of the water. Dolphins! He hasn't seen dolphins for weeks.

Harry watches for a few more minutes, but when the fins don't reappear, he half crawls over to the spit. The man - Harry hasn't even gotten his name, where are his manners - left it unattended, and it probably needs a turn. The fire definitely needs stoking, but Harry's out of juice in every possible way, so after he rotates the spit, he leans against the closest palm tree and falls asleep again.

-

"Feeling better, pirate?"

Harry opens his eyes.

The sky's turned pink, and the sea's softer because of it. The man from earlier is sitting cross-legged on the grass nearby, playing with the fraying hem of his shorts. The fire's dead, there's fish on a rock platter, and...

"Is that a coconut?" Harry asks, taking what looks like a hairy cup from the man. It has no top, and something sloshes inside when he grabs it.

"The finest my kitchen has to offer."

Harry gulps down the contents. It's water, fresh and so amazing on Harry's tongue that he whimpers before he gulps it all down. The man seems unsurprised; he hands him another coconut when Harry's done. Harry goes through three, and it's only on the third he stops slopping it on his front.

The man's staring at him with wide eyes when he's done. "Sorry," Harry says, playing with the still-damp edge of his shirt. "Needed it."

"I can see that." The man bites his lower lip, and then he grins. "What do they call you, pirate?"

"Harry. But you can call me 'pirate'."

"You said you're not a pirate."

Harry shrugs. He likes the way the man says it. "What's your name?"

"I've always fancied myself a Nick," the man says, grabbing for the plate of fish. Harry barely gets a hand on the plate to help before he's scooping the bits into his mouth. "Oi! Won't be much help if you choke."

Harry can't resist. He'd been swimming for a full day before he found the island - if floating on his back for most of the time to save his strength counts - and now that he feels like he won't die from exhaustion, his gullet needs filling. He eats what's on the plate in seconds and sags back against the tree with a sigh. He could eat more, but he won't be selfish and deplete Nick's stores.

"Selfish," he says to himself with a laugh. Sounds like shellfish. Which this fish wasn't, but. Shellfish.

Nick's looking at Harry like the top of his head's come off. Nick hasn't stopped smiling, though. He grabs the other plate. "I made it all for you, so don't be shy."

"Cheers." Harry takes the plate with a little more grace and pops the fish pieces into his mouth carefully. Now that his stomach's not about to eat itself from hunger, he can actually taste it. It's a bit burnt, and it's chewy because of it. "You're not hungry?"

Nick pats his stomach. "Know it's hard to tell with this body, but I keep myself well fed. If you don't eat it, I'll have to feed it to my mate on the other side of the island."

"Your mate? There's someone else here?"

"If you count a seagull. Blown here during a squall. She'd probably eat my hair if I sat still long enough."

Harry looks at his hair. "You mean she doesn't nest there?"

He realises what he says about five seconds after he says it, but before he can feel horrified, Nick's laughing his arse off.

-

Nick doesn't have a full shelter on the island. He's fashioned a few palm fronds into a box shape, and it looks about five seconds from falling down. Harry frowns.

"What if there's a storm?" he asks Nick when he shows him proudly. "You could get hurt."

"Well, excuse me if I don't...wait. I could get hurt? What about you?"

"I'll build a signal fire after I sleep. Can't imagine I'll be here for long if the ship's looking for me." Harry covers a yawn with his sleeve. "Wait, are you stranded, too?"

Nick laughs. "Nah, I just ended up here because I fancied a holiday."

"What happened?"

"Oh no. I'd rather you look a little less like you're going to die on the spot before we start getting personal."

He helps Harry underneath the palm fronds, and it's nice, the wind rustling the top just a bit. Harry's almost asleep before he finishes lying down, and yes, he could sleep anywhere just about now, but the gentle stroke of a hand on his hair doesn't hurt.

-

Nick's nowhere to be seen when Harry wakes and breathes in the fresh morning air. Maybe Nick has a little shelter all his own. Harry can hardly fault him that. If someone as drowned as Harry had looked turned up on his island, he'd...well, he wouldn't turn them out, but he might be cautious. Possibly. If it came to mind.

Harry's legs don't get him to his feet easily, but he feels less like he's going to die than he had when he does right himself, so that's something. There are trees. He can at least relieve himself with some dignity.

He makes it to an unassuming patch of dirt and gets his breeches down, leaning on a palm tree as he does. Maybe he has to take his rest more than once. But he doesn't make a mess of himself, and that's what counts.

Or it would have counted if Harry hadn't turned and run straight into something unyielding that knocks him to the ground. A something that groans in pain.

"You're a right menace, pirate," the something says as Harry's vision clears. Nick looks relatively unscathed; he's just rubbing at his forehead.

"Me? You couldn't make some noise?" Harry can't help but chuckle at the sour look on Nick's face. "Give us a hand?"

Nick rolls his eyes, but he helps Harry to his feet and promptly takes his weight when Harry nearly careens forward onto his face. "You aren't feeling any better?"

"Oh, mostly," Harry says. "I have terrible balance even when I'm well-fed."

"I hope not this bad, or I don't know how you make it anywhere."

It turns out this is rich coming from Nick, who manages to get Harry back to his palm structure without incident, but immediately trips over a rock when he turns to get Harry the fish he had caught while Harry was asleep. At least there's only soft sand on the beach.

"Maybe we should put an embargo on walking," Harry says.

Nick makes some kind of gesture that Harry suspects is supposed to be rude, but the effect is rather spoiled when he's face-first on the ground.

They do take a break from walking; it's no fun while the sun's high in the sky anyway. Nick sits with Harry and points in the direction of one of the other beaches.

"Don't remember exactly where it is, but my secret buried treasure's over that way."

Harry grins. "Who's the pirate here?"

"Hush, or I won't share when I head off that way."

Harry slides over and casually leans against Nick's shoulder. Nick jumps and nearly elbows Harry in the back of the head.

"So you're just as dangerous on the ground?" Harry rubs at his head. There was no contact, but he can almost feel the bump he would have gotten.

"You're the one getting..." Nick waves a hand. "Close."

"What a crime." But Harry leans up, stomach twisting. "No, I'm sorry. I like a good cuddle, and I didn't think."

"Suppose there's worse ways to be thoughtless. 'I trust you in my proximity.' I just..." Nick plays with the top of his hair. It had a lovely swoop to it, almost like he cultivates it in some way. "Cuddling's awfully warm, isn't it? No reason to get sweaty if we don't have to."

"Sweaty?" Harry waggles his eyebrows and gets a light swat to the shoulder for his troubles, but it's worth it.

By late afternoon, Harry's resting on a rock outcropping, taking in a little sun now that it's not as hot. Turns out another nap and more food do a world of good, and maybe he can't help Nick assemble the detritus to make a fire, but he can supervise. And, more importantly, he didn't need Nick's aid to walk to the spot Nick suggested.

"Does this look right to you?" Nick squints at the pile. "Will this even set on fire?"

"I've started fires by accident with wet paper before. This is much nicer."

"How do you even start a fire? Rub two sticks together?"

Harry waggles his fingers. "Magic."

Nick grins and gestures grandly toward the pile. Harry gets to his feet smoothly and applauds. While Nick takes a bow, Harry snaps his fingers and...well, does his magic, just like he said. The pile catches fire like it always does. Probably too well; Harry hopes he hasn't burnt off one of his eyebrows again. It doesn't seem fair that Harry can conjure flame out of nothing and has such little protection against it.

He wonders what Nick thinks of the fire, but Nick's too busy covering his face with his arms and cowering away. Harry stumbles over. He looks okay, but Harry hovers just out of reach, in case he's burnt. Contact only makes it worse, from what he's heard. He's never actually hurt anyone before. Fuck, what if he's hurt Nick?

"Nick, can you hear...are you...oh god, say something, please."

He only makes a quiet noise, and Harry's not sure what to make of it. On closer inspection, Nick looks okay, but he doesn't lower his hands until Harry wraps his hands around his wrists, and when he does, he doesn't look at the fire. He looks at Harry's hands, much tanner than Nick's own. Nick's hands are quite large, which he hadn't noticed before.

Harry rubs his thumb on Nick's skin. Much smoother than he would have expected as well.

"All right?" Harry asks.

Nick nods.

"Now we just need to keep it going," Harry says, looking into Nick's wide eyes.

"Sorry?"

"The fire." Harry waves in the direction of the flames. "Suppose we should take it in turns? Can't let it go out in the middle of the night, or it'll defeat the purpose."

"Right." Nick jumps to his feet. "Turns. Excellent. You go first. I'll come round in a couple of hours?"

He barely waits for Harry to nod before jumping through the trees and making for the beach again. Harry sighs, but it's only fair, he supposes. Considering how clumsy they both are, he should have warned Nick.

-

Harry jerks awake when a spark pops off the fire. It's dark, and judging by the way Harry's shivering, it has been for a while. He wiggles his fingers, and the fire builds up a little. Enough to hopefully keep going during Nick's turn, at least.

Speaking of. He stands and brushes himself off, and then he goes toward Nick's beach. He goes a few steps, and then he grabs a branch and lights the tip. He can control flame on a stick better than his own feet most days. It's a trade-off, he supposes.

The cove doesn't need much more light; the moon illuminates it well. Still, Harry's wondering if he's seeing properly. It looks as if the dolphin's around again, except the dolphin...

He blinks twice, but no. The dolphin's lying on the shore, and it has a man's torso. Nick's torso, more accurately. The dolphin-like portion - because it isn't quite the rubbery flesh that dolphins have, but Harry can't really tell what it is - gradually changes into long legs, hips, and all parts in between.

Harry steps out onto the beach as Nick stands, brushing wet sand off his now-human legs, and Nick turns and freezes when Harry tries to say something. The words only come out as an incoherent noise, which could possibly explain why Nick looks completely floored.

"I can explain," Nick says. "It's...well, it's exactly what it looks like."

"Like you're a mermaid."

"So you've heard of us."

"It's probably impossible to be on the sea and not hear of them. Of you. But it's supposed to be myth!" Harry puts a hand to his hair; he plays with his scarves sometimes when he's nervous. But the one he has is dangling from his trousers at the moment. He hasn't gotten around to putting it back in.

Nick smiles wryly. "As mythic as men who can start fires?"

Harry barks out a laugh. "Guess the world's full of all sorts, isn't it?"

-

They go back to the fire and chat. Harry tells Nick of his time spent in the bakery in his mum's hometown before his father wanted him to learn the family business, and how he ended up on Simon Cowell's ship with a crew that he absolutely adores. He plays with fire between his fingers so Nick can see, and the flame reflects in Nick's delighted eyes.

Nick, it turns out, is usually based further north. "The grey, dreary shores of England."

"So that's how you know how to talk."

"No, I know how to talk because Mum taught me." Nick rolls his eyes and shoves at Harry a little with his foot, which makes Harry snicker. "But I listened in at the docks for a little extra...vocabulary. That's also how I discovered my type tends to be human men."

"That so?"

"Mmm. Broke a lot of hearts back home."

"I can imagine," Harry says. "So why are you out here?"

Nick's face goes fond and distant. "Mates and I fancied a holiday. We got wasted in some of the finest ports in these waters. That was our mistake. Or, rather, going out to open sea while still wasted and not going deep enough to avoid the storms."

Harry winces. "Blown off course?"

"Got it in one. I have no bloody idea where I am now." Nick rests his arms on his knees and sighs. "And the merpeople in this territory aren't the friendliest."

"Can't speak their language, huh?"

"Not even if I wanted to. They're not land dwellers like those in the northern seas, so I spend some time on land and fish and sleep close to shore, and they leave me alone."

Nick looks a little sad. Harry gets up far enough that he can hold his arms out, and, when Nick nods grudgingly, he pulls Nick into a hug. "It's all right," he says into Nick's shoulder. "I'll make sure you get home. We'll both get home."

"Whatever you say, pirate," Nick says with a sigh, but he doesn't let Harry go.

-

Harry wakes up to a blue predawn with the fire died down. He also just happens to be in Nick's arms. Harry's not a small lad, but Nick's got little height on him, and he makes Harry feel snuggly and warm. It's nice.

Still, he can't let the fire go out, so he lets go of Nick, steps a little bit away from him, and pinches his fingers as he studies the fire carefully. He can build it slowly if he takes care, but it's not easy. Big build-ups don't tire him as much as this, but he manages to get it where he wants it without putting either himself or Nick at risk before he sits down with a huff.

"Why are you awake?" It comes out of Nick's mouth as practically a grumble.

Harry shifts over to Nick and kisses his forehead. "Just making sure we're found."

Nick grunts something about how he'd kill for a cuppa, and Harry gets back down to rest next to him. If he can't be back with the lads, this is the next best thing.

-

It takes Harry the better part of a week to realise his hopes for immediate rescue were naïve. Of course they were. The ocean is so big, and he was pushed around a lot.

He tries to hide how he gets sadder by the day, but he suspects Nick isn't fooled. Nick himself confirms this at the end of the week when they convene to eat lunch - Nick dashes off for most of daylight, but they eat meals together - and Nick says, "You know, I've been here for months."

This doesn't make Harry less sad. "Months?"

"Well, that's my best guess. Could be a year. There aren't many seasons here."

Harry puts down his plate of cooked fish. "I'm so sorry."

"Not so bad, is it? It's an...extended holiday. Many fish would kill to be in my shoes. Fins." Nick looks distant, like maybe the thought was difficult once but he's made his peace with it. Somehow, that makes Harry even sadder.

Harry reaches over and takes his hand. After Nick let them cuddle the day they started the signal fire, he's been tolerant of all of Harry's touches. He suspects that Nick's missed being around others.

"We'll be found," Harry says. "Even if it takes time. My father's ships come through this area all the time."

Nick waves his somewhat more raw fish in his hand - it's the only time Harry remembers that, right, Nick's used to living in the sea - and then he switches to an empty hand. "I've never seen a ship in these parts. Too boring, I suppose, but I did stop looking after a couple of weeks."

"I'll keep looking," Harry promises.

Nick grins. "You make me fifty years younger, pirate."

He finishes his fish and cleans up, walking back toward the beach. Harry chews on his own food for a minute, and then he says, "Wait. You're not actually over fifty, are you? Nick!"

-

They're settled around the fire again that night when Nick says, "I had a point earlier that I completely neglected to finish."

"Hmm?" Harry's been playing with the flames again. The days of practise keeping the fire stoked has actually made his powers easier to use; he can grab pieces of the fire and fashion them into a ball shape without so much as getting warm. He tosses them back to the structure they've been building and rebuilding when Nick speaks.

"We can make a right go of it even if your ship doesn't..." Nick clears his throat. "If it takes its time. You're not having too bad a time with me, are you?"

"It's absolutely rotten," Harry says. He suspects he doesn't look at all serious considering how fond his words sound in his ears. But then, Nick looks about equally as fond back, so that's fine, then.

-

They wake up snuggling in the morning again, and Harry asks, while they're still in each other's arms, "Where did you get your shorts anyway?"

"Oh, these things?" Nick picks at the fraying hem of one leg. "They're all the fashion this season. Or, well, last season."

Harry snorts.

"No, they were here when I found the island. The other things I found were useless, but these have held up. Suppose we're not the only ones who've been here."

"Huh." It wouldn't be so bad if another ship found them, Harry supposes. It doesn't seem likely, considering Nick's timeline, but he'll take any spot of hope. "You didn't find them with a skeleton or anything, did you?"

"Morbid!" Nick plays with Harry's curls until Harry sticks out his lower lip. "They were stuck in a tree. Maybe someone who could fly dropped them."

"You know many people with wings?"

"Met a few in my day. Remember the seagull?" When Harry sticks out his tongue, Nick laughs and gets to his feet. "Well, that's me for the day. See you for lunch?"

All of a sudden, Harry can't bear the thought of another day mostly alone. Nick's already starting to leave, but he stops when Harry gets to his feet and says, "Wait! Can I come with you?"

"Um, you're sort of lacking a few things. Gills. Fins. Probably buoyancy in the water, if you swim like you walk."

Harry ignores the pointed comment. He obviously could swim well enough to make it to an island. "You said you don't swim far. Take me with you. Or just stay by the shore. We can spend the day together."

Nick's slightly doubting smile spreads into a full grin. "Very well, pirate. Last one to shore's a rotten oyster."

It's not a fair chase - Nick knows the island far better than Harry does, even now - but Harry hangs back when it's obvious he's going to lose and starts stripping. He stashes his clothes behind a tree visible from shore and runs out like he never stopped at all.

"My father would be proud," Nick's saying as he catches his breath. "I never won a race in my..."

Harry's expecting a cry and recoil; it's what happened when Niall and Louis locked him into a chest on the ship and Harry stripped down before they let him out. But Nick had said human men were his type, and the way his eyes roam all over Harry's body confirms it. Harry even knows where his eyes stop, which is where everyone's eyes stop: the tattoos on his arms and torso, his four nipples, and his cock. Nick spends a particularly long time on the latter.

"Congratulations," Harry says. He does it in his deeper-than-normal seduction voice, but he always thinks that comes off a bit jokey. Nick's cheeks heat to match his sunburnt skin, so maybe it's actually done the job.

Nick shakes himself when he's done. "Well. Sun won't last all day. Better get in."

Harry can't help himself. "Actually, the sun lasts all day. That's why it's day."

Nick rolls his eyes, and whatever tension there was a moment ago disappears. He shucks his own shorts, and Harry's seen his...situation before, but he'd been so distracted by the transition from fins that he hadn't much noticed Nick's endowment. Harry isn't disappointed.

But then he perks up. "Can you change where I can see? I'd love to see your fins."

"I know I'm disappointing naked, Harold, but seeing me roll into the ocean is hardly more impressive."

Harry sticks out his lower lip. Unimpressive is hardly the word Harry would use. Not counting Nick's fantastic cock, Nick is delightfully soft all over, both in terms of his slightly round belly and the hair he has everywhere, and his hands are downright obscene. He actually has a few tattoos, which Harry hadn't really thought of before, but if he'd been into port and drinking on vacation, they were probably all too easy to get.

Finally, Nick sighs. "Fine. But you're helping me in, and no complaints that I'm too heavy."

"I would never."

Nick looks like he believes Harry. He settles down in the sand right where the water comes up, and he shivers when a small waves hits his feet. "Fuck, I forgot how cold it is in the water for humans. No idea why you fancy a swim at all."

He shivers less as...whatever magic happens, and his legs fuse together. Harry was right about the fins; instead of rubbery dolphin flesh, they're scales with a silver shimmer to them. They definitely look magic, and not just because they started as human skin.

"You're beautiful," Harry says, awed.

Nick smiles back. "Let's see if you still think so when you get me in the water."

It isn't as hard as Nick says it is. Harry helps support him while he rolls into the water, and then Harry just helps drag him out until Nick's deep enough that can he swim on his own. Nick swims a few circles around Harry, splashing Harry with his fins, and Harry cackles. It's the most amazing thing he's ever seen. Nick's the most amazing.

"C'mon, pirate," Nick says, looking over his shoulder coyly. "Let's see what those human things can do."

Nick has far more stamina in the water than Harry for obvious reasons, but besides some time floating on his back and resting on the beach, they spend most of the day in the water. Nick shows off his gills - they fold into his neck until he's underwater, at which point they puff and move just like the fish Harry's seen - and Harry shows off how long he can hold his breath, complete with a leer, of course.

They're floating together at sunset, enjoying the last of the light, and Harry tells Nick, "Today's been one of the best days of my life. Thank you."

Nick grimaces. "Don't get all soppy on me now. I thought you were supposed to be the scourge of the sea or sommat."

But he takes Harry's hand and holds it tight, so Harry understands what he's really trying to say.

-

It takes them another couple days to kiss.

Maybe it's the island, or...okay, it's mostly that Harry is the biggest romantic ever, and he's harbouring a very large crush on Nick, but he puts it off even though he sees Nick staring at his mouth constantly. Harry wants the moment to be perfect. He knows, in theory, that it would be pretty difficult to do wrong, but he's always felt it's important to show the person you're with that you care in more than words.

When it happens, Harry's been singing his favourite sea shanties around the fire. They're somewhat less impressive without the five-part harmonies he'd arranged on Simon's ship, but Nick seems to enjoy them, if the way he claps somewhat off the beat is any way to tell.

Harry gets through one about a siren falling in love with a human - he sang it specifically for Nick - before he asks, "Can you sing?"

"Me?" Nick points at himself.

Harry nods.

Judging by the way Nick laughs for some ten minutes straight, the answer's probably no.

"I'm just curious," Harry says when Nick's laughter finally dies down enough that he can be heard. "You don't drag unsuspecting men to the depths with your dulcet tones?"

"Your tones are far more dulcet than mine. No, it's likely that all my singing would do is deafen those listening. They might fall in the sea by accident in their attempts to get away from it."

"That's more likely than you might think," Harry says wisely, and Nick's face loses a bit of its amusement. He obviously feels quite deeply, even if he's not as heart-on-his-sleeve as Harry. Or, well, heart on his arm. It's one of Harry's more recent tattoos.

Anyway, that's the moment Harry ends up kissing Nick. Not a special moment at all, but there's something about the way Nick looks that means Harry can't resist. Nick kisses him back without hesitation, and when Harry pulls back to draw breath, Nick says, "Finally."

It turns out it's also the first time they sleep together, lying together next to the fire. They kiss for longer than Harry thought was possible, and his lips are starting to ache in the best possible way when Nick asks, "Let me blow you?"

Harry nods enthusiastically.

"I might be rubbish. I'm out of practise."

"I think you'll be fine," Harry says, kissing Nick's forehead.

Nick, of course, is completely fine. He licks and nips his way down Harry's torso, paying special attention to the moth, and then to the leaves, and then lightly kissing Harry's half-hard cock until he's at the head. Just his breath on Harry is enough to have him grabbing at the ground, and when Nick draws him inside his mouth, tight and hot and perfect, Harry groans so loud he's afraid he's going to bother someone.

But who can he bother? It's just him and Nick.

Harry's never been happier about that.

He's also completely unsurprised that Nick's technique is top notch. He can't quite deep throat, but he only has to wrap three of his amazing fingers around the base of Harry's cock to make up for the difference, and he lets his tongue do the rest, teasing the foreskin, swirling around the parts he can bring into his mouth, and then letting it add a little flavour when Nick bobs up and down. His lips look absolutely obscene around Harry's length, red and wet and perfect.

Harry tries to say some of this aloud. It doesn't quite work.

"You..." he manages. "You."

Nick smiles and deliberately hums the sea shanty about the siren as he works Harry in and out of his mouth. He's a little off-key, but Harry can tell which song it is, and that's more than he can say about many people who sing.

He's busy musing about how Nick's voice sounds when his mouth isn't full when he starts to shake, and then he taps Nick's head, only giving him a few seconds before he's coming into his mouth. Nick doesn't seem to mind, working Harry through it until Harry's oversensitive and pushing him off.

"Not too bad, was it?" Nick says as he comes up, a bit hoarse but looking extremely pleased with himself. "I forgot how much I love...oof!"

He doesn't get to finish because Harry tackles him, kissing the taste of himself out of Nick's mouth. Nick tastes like himself and Harry. It's perfect.

"What..." He kisses Nick. "What do you..." He kisses Nick again.

Luckily, Nick seems to get the hint. He also doesn't seem inclined to stop kissing Harry; he just guides Harry's hand to his cock, and Harry only breaks to lick his hand to give him a little moisture to work with before he kisses Nick and jerks him off. Nick doesn't last long - when Harry had tackled him, he'd been fully hard and just from blowing - but it's plenty of time for Harry to get a feel for him in his hand and see which of Harry's tricks he likes best. It's not a bad start.

He says as much to Nick when they're resting in the afterglow together. "I can't wait to do that again."

"Just because you're youthful and energetic, pirate, doesn't mean we all are."

"I didn't mean right now. But at some point."

"I suppose," Nick says. Maybe it's just Harry imagining it, but the words sound a lot like "I love you".

-

Harry's alone when he wakes up to uninterrupted white in his vision.

He sits up in a hurry, gathering his discarded clothing to him as he tries to makes sense of what he's seeing. It isn't until he hears a joyful "Harry!" and looks down that Harry sees the ship and the rowboat coming his way, led by an enthusiastically waving Niall. Harry shoots a couple fireballs into the air - toward the sea, away from the ships, of course - and Harry can hear Niall laugh from where he is. Harry points them to the beach opposite the one he and Nick use. It's closer to the outcropping than theirs.

"Nick!" Harry yells once Niall's made their way. "Nick, we're found!"

But Nick doesn't come out, not when Harry calls for him, and not when Harry searches their usual spots. There's a couple of old footprints, but that's all.

Harry ends up in their cove, clothes abandoned on the beach, wading into the water. "Nick! You've picked the worst time to be unavailable! We get to go home!"

He spots a splash off to his right, and when he wades that way, he sees the top of Nick's head sticking out of the water. It's just enough that his wet hair's sticking up and Harry can meet his eyes. Everything from the nose down is hidden.

"Now you've nothing to say?" Harry says gently when he gets to him. "We're rescued!"

Harry has never seen Nick looking sadder in all the days he's spent with him. Harry has no idea how many it is now, but it feels like an eternity.

"You don't want to stay where the merpeople are mean, do you?" He brushes Nick's wet hair and plays with a little. "I know ships are horrible beasts, but someone has to make sure I stay onboard."

Nick bobs up enough to say, "You still want me to come?"

"'Course I do." Harry finds one of Nick's hands and holds on. "And I want to meet your family, and your friends...I want you to meet my family, too. Maybe I can work in one of my father's harbour offices. Or I know it's probably not appealing, but I might stick around with the crew of this ship for a while, figure myself out. You can come with me! Or I can come back to you. I know it's a bit tricky, but..."

Nick surges up and kisses Harry, and Harry squeaks with surprise, but he holds on. He can feel the water move around his legs in a peculiar way, and it's not until he looks in the water and sees the shimmering that he realises Nick's still got his fins.

When they pull back, Nick says, "You mean, this wasn't just an island fling? Not something two desperate men had? You want to put up with me even when we're back home?"

Harry grins. "I suppose."