Harry looked at the tent. The tent failed to look back. It failed, in fact, to look like anything other than a tent – and a crap one at that. The shiny green fabric flapped despondently in the wind. It was only a light breeze, but already the tent-pegs were working their way out of the ground, lumps of damp soil clinging to the dull metal.
Still, Harry thought, trying to look on the bright side. Looking at the tent meant that he wasn't looking at his son. And not looking at his son was a good thing, considering how much Harry wanted to punch him on the nose right now. Harry had always supposed that when he grew up and had a family of his own, he'd know just what to do when his children made mistakes. He'd be calm and rational – and love and compassion would fill any gaps in his knowledge. Failing that, he'd get Ginny to sort them out.
But now he and Ginny had separated – amicably, for the most part, but with the usual attendant loss of ‘it's your turn to tell the kids off' privileges – it was up to him to sort out his sulky son.
So that left him and Al. And the tent. And the other person – people – who he was resolutely not looking at, because if he cracked and punched Al on the nose then he'd absolutely have to punch them as them well, in the interests of equality. Because if there was one thing Harry was quite sure of, after his utter conviction that life was not fair, it was that it was as much Malfoy's fault as it was his own. Which Malfoy was most to blame he hadn't quite decided, but the buggers looked the same, so on the whole Harry thought they were probably both equally at fault.
Harry looked at the tent for a bit longer. It failed to do anything exciting, so he pulled at the fabric at the entrance to reveal his worst nightmare: the inside of a tent.
"The absolute fuckers," came a disdainful voice from somewhere just off to his left. "Father, I really don't see why we have to put up with this. It's a complete disgrace."
"Oh shut up, will you?" Harry's own son replied, to Harry's dismay. "You're so far up your own arse you probably can't see daylight. It won't kill you to slum it with—"
"Enough!" snapped a familiar voice, at the exact moment Harry whirled around to strangle Al before he could go on.
Scorpius smirked. Harry's fingers tightened for a moment around Al's neck as he wistfully imagined what it would be like to throttle the Malfoy heir.
"Ow! Dad, get off!" Al gasped, squirming out of Harry's grasp.
"Oh, sorry," Harry said, catching Draco's eye for a moment and wishing he hadn't. Draco was smirking too, just as hard as his son. Harry felt his fingers twitch, so he jammed them into his pockets quickly before either of the Malfoy fuckers could see and guess at his state of mind. Although Draco Malfoy's smirk deepened and his lips parted, just a fraction.
"Dressed up for a party, are we?" Harry heard himself say, interrupting whatever awful thing he knew Draco was about to come out with.
Draco laughed, without much humour. "I see that your sense of style has improved about as much as your wit, Potter."
"Ha ha," Harry muttered. He shot another look at Draco, who was dressed in expensive flowing robes, which billowed in the wind. Draco's hair also billowed, as did Scorpius'. As did Scorpius' own flowing robe. It was, Harry reflected, like some hideous nightmare, where his old school nemesis came back to taunt him forever – but this time in duplicate.
"Fuck off, will you?" Al added, helpfully. "Leave my dad alone, you ugly sod."
Harry tried not to grin. It was hard work being a parent. It was wrong of Al to be so crude . . . quite wrong. He should tell him off. Definitely. Just after he'd let the insult linger for a few seconds, that was.
"Don't be rude, Al," Harry said, when Draco's expression had shifted from shocked to reproving, one eyebrow curving upwards to a hairline that was higher than when Harry had seen him last, just a few months ago. He stared, hoping that Draco would spot the direction of his gaze.
Draco's cheeks coloured and his eyes darted away for a moment. Scorpius, who'd been watching intently, tossed his long hair in the wind. "Ever heard of a hairbrush, Mr Potter?" Scorpius asked nonchalantly. "I'd have thought that, what with your love of Muggles, you'd have come across one before."
Harry spluttered, forcing his hands to stay in the pockets of his Muggle trousers and not roam up to try to flatten his hair down. It would be a lost cause, and it would only make Scorpius happy. He counted to ten under his breath, while Draco failed to reprove his son in any way.
"Do you usually allow your son to be so rude?" Harry asked, genuinely curious – although that curiosity was mixed with a desire to cause actual bodily harm to either Draco or Scorpius, or preferably both.
Draco stared at him for a moment, then snorted. "Truth hurts, eh, Potter?"
Harry blinked as a blur ran past him and leapt upon Draco, pushing him on to the ground. Draco cried out in shock as Al straddled his chest, grabbing him by the hair and shaking his head like a child would shake a rag doll. "Take it back!" Al yelled. "You fucker!"
Before Draco – or Harry – could respond, Scorpius had leapt in turn upon Al, their combined weights almost grinding Draco into the ground. Draco let out an agonised groan and Scorpius tugged Al off, pulling violently at him, and they rolled in a heap of tangled limbs and clothing on the floor, kicking and biting and making enough noise to give Harry the beginnings of a headache.
It was lucky, Harry thought rather gloomily, that he already had a headache, wasn't it?
* * *
Harry stared at the roof of the tent – upon which a heavy, insistent rain was beating, preventing him from sleeping – and thought about how much he hated camping. The conclusion he came to was: quite a lot. More, even, than he hated his own son right now, and the answer to that particular conundrum was also: quite a lot. He thought he probably even hated camping more than he hated Malfoy – although that was a more difficult conclusion to come to, given that twice as many Malfoys surely added up to twice as much hate.
If camping had not figured quite so keenly in his memories of that awful time when he and Hermione had been hiding from Voldemort, without even Ron's support – and as he got older his memory of those hideous weeks stretched into months, and sometimes even years – he supposed he might have liked it. Or tolerated it, perhaps. He didn't mind mud and cold so much when in the company of cheerful friends, and there was a certain fun to be had in sleeping outside and cooking on campfires. But this situation was so far from fun that it was almost the opposite of fun.
Without entirely meaning to, Harry turned – cursing how hard the ground felt against his hip – and glared at his son, who was snoring beside him. This situation was all Al's fault, and his son would have to grovel for the rest of his life to get his father to forgive him. After all, there was no way in hell that Scorpius Malfoy was more irritating than his father, and Harry had managed to spend a whole seven years – just – without murdering a Malfoy, so why couldn't Al do the same?
At first it had been an Owl home: This is to inform you that Albus Severus has been fighting with Scorpius Malfoy again, and will be carrying out a series of detentions. Then, an official letter: Albus Severus has tried to strangle Scorpius Malfoy, and his father has lodged an official complaint. This letter had been countered by one from Harry, complaining that Scorpius had tried to drown his son, but it was annoying, just the same. Then had come a series of meetings at school – Al sulky, Scorpius sulky, and Harry just as sulky, although trying not to show it in front of a supercilious, smirking Draco, who claimed that his son was the victim of a long-standing persecution from the prejudiced Potter family.
A fat lot of good those meetings had done, Harry thought, given that their only quantifiable effect had been to increase his own blood pressure. In fact, if anything, relations between Al and the Malfoy spawn had become even less cordial, culminating in an epic battle that had left twelve students in the hospital wing, and many more as walking wounded. Harry was perversely proud that his son was popular enough that his fellow Gryffindors were willing to fight on his side, but as Scorpius had apparently had just as many Slytherins under his evil thrall, he couldn't even boast that his son was the more popular of the two idiots.
"We can't expel them," the Headmistress had said wearily – to Harry's intense relief (although he wouldn't have minded particularly if Scorpius had undergone that fate) – "the scandal would be impossible to contain." So they had been left with one, hideous option apparently – and no way out of it: group counselling. And, the perky counsellor had said (her bright smile and cheerful optimism had annoyed Harry on sight), as this was 'clearly an issue of fatherly grudges being passed down to the next generation', here Harry was. On a bonding trip. Stuck in a wood without a wand, or any kind of magic whatsoever, with his sulky, irritating son and twice as many Malfoys as was pleasant – the optimal number of Malfoys being none, as far as Harry was concerned.
Harry could feel his irritation rising, but he tried to will it away and go to sleep. He needed to sleep. Tomorrow he would have to spend a whole day not killing Malfoys, and restraining his son from also making an attempt at it. His only consolation was that, in the next-door tent, he bet Draco and the Draco-clone were having an even worse time of it.
Harry's smile widened when he remembered that he and Al had a plentiful supply of one essential that he'd bet anything hadn't even crossed the Malfoys' minds.
In the battle of Malfoy versus Potter, Harry mentally chalked up one point to his team. And, dreaming of victory, he fell into an uneasy, uncomfortable sleep.
* * *
"I beg your pardon?"
Harry would have laughed at the look on Malfoy's face, but he was too busy being mildly terrified by the determined look on the counsellor's face.
"Teambuilding exercises, Mr Malfoy," the counsellor repeated. "They are intended to get you all comfortable with each other, and creatively solving problems by—"
"I have a wand," Malfoy snapped. "I have no need to participate in your lunatic scheme."
"You do not have a wand right now, Mr Malfoy," the counsellor said, smiling brightly, but Harry noticed she was clutching her clipboard a little more closely to her chest. "You have your intellect, and you have three ‘friends' to help you succeed in your task." She glanced down at the piece of paper on the clipboard, before angling it back towards her body. Harry didn't like the determined, positive way she said the word ‘friends'. It didn't bode well for the future. Would he and Al have to be holding hands and braiding Draco and Scorpius' hair, before the weekend was out? He wanted to prove to her that his son could keep his temper around Malfoy – but there were limits. Definite limits.
"Let's just get it over with, shall we?" Harry said, resisting the urge to throw something at Malfoy when he raised an eyebrow in Harry's direction. He wasn't sure what he could throw: a torch, maybe, or one of his shoes. Yes, a trainer to the head would probably have the desired effect.
"You may think that that expression looks determined and oh-so-heroic, Potter, " Malfoy said, his face calm and blank, "but let me assure you that you look . . . How would you describe it, Scorpius?"
Scorpius' head emerged from the tent behind Malfoy. His own expression was one of extreme distaste. "Imbecilic," Scorpius said.
"Good choice, my boy," Malfoy said, his lips curving into a half-smile. He turned back to Harry. "Imbecilic," he repeated. "So don't try my patience, Potter. I hardly need advice from a moron like yourself, who cannot even keep his own son under control."
The hypocrisy of Malfoy's words floored Harry for a moment, but when he opened his mouth to retaliate, he found that he couldn't say a thing. His mouth felt like glue. When he tried to wave his arms about in a sense of indignation, he found he couldn't move either. His utter indignation was tempered with a feeling of complete idiocy – here he was, Head Auror, and he couldn't even spot when a spell was being cast upon him. He wondered what the counsellor would do to him when he confessed he couldn't even remember what her name was. Was it Smith? No – but something equally as boring. Jones? Huh. He'd have to ask Al when he'd regained the use of his vocal cords.
"Hush," the counsellor said, then smiled sweetly as she tucked her wand into the interior of her voluminous cardigan. "That's better. Now, as I was saying, you will all work together and become good friends. Do I make myself clear?"
Harry attempted to waggle his eyebrows in an acquiescent manner, and found he suddenly regained the use of his limbs.
"Don't make be me mean to you," the woman said.
Harry stared at her for a moment, wondering exactly when he'd agreed that she could work spells upon him. He'd signed some sort of contract, but he hadn't exactly read it properly – and now he wished that he had. "Um, no one said anything about—"
"What is the meaning of this outrage?" Draco Malfoy said in a very marked manner, interrupting him.
"YOU WILL CLIMB THIS WALL," the woman all but screamed. She pointed and, with a sharp crack of magic, a wall appeared. It wasn't exactly high – but it was taller than Harry was, and it looked distinctly lacking in handholds.
It was enough to make Harry entirely lose his train of thought. When he glanced over at Malfoy, his mouth was open – a bit like a fish, Harry thought with satisfaction – and Scorpius didn't look much better.
"I beg your pardon?" Malfoy said, for the second time that morning. Harry thought that was quite a reasonable thing to say, given the circumstances, and then felt annoyed that he'd actually thought that.
"It's just a wall, Malfoy," Harry snorted, wondering how the fuck he was going to get over the sodding thing. At least, he thought, he was wearing jeans. He began to cheer up. Al was wearing jeans too. Unlike Malfoy and son – who were both clad once more in billowing robes. And Harry knew that it was a matter of etiquette that undergarments were not worn beneath traditional robes. Like the ones that Malfoy and son were wearing. Hah!
For the first time, Harry felt as if the weekend might actually be fun. In a mocking, blackmail-material sort of way, of course, which, when it came to weekends involving Malfoys, was surely the only kind of fun to be had?
"Aren't we going to get some breakfast before we . . ." Harry started, thinking that ‘fun' on a full stomach would be infinitely better than ‘fun' with empty insides.
Before the counsellor had a chance to answer, however, Al strode over to Scorpius. Harry had a bad feeling about that. But, before anyone could intervene, Al had pushed Scorpius over, right in front of the wall, into a particularly disgusting patch of mud. Al leaped up on top of him, his trainers leaving a particularly dirty patch on Scorpius' light-coloured robe, and used Scorpius as a kind of step-stool, hoisting himself up the wall by his arms and dropping lightly over.
"There," Al said, as he sauntered back around the wall, kicking a spray of mud into Scorpius' face as he passed him. "Done. What's next?"
There was silence for a blissful, frozen moment, and then there was the sound of a Malfoy (which one Harry couldn't tell – he had his eyes tight shut) exploding.
Maybe, Harry thought with increasing gloom, he'd been a bit too optimistic when he'd thought the weekend would be fun. He suspected that the most important thing would be to finish it alive.
* * *
Harry took one look at Draco Malfoy – the hem of his robe smeared with mud and his hair flying free from the elegant clip that secured it – and did his best to suppress the snort that erupted from his nose. He had only minimal success.
Malfoy glared at him and folded his arms tight across his chest. "Something funny, Potter?"
"Did you not think about bringing some trousers with you? You knew we were going camping, didn't you?" Harry asked, attempting to stop his lips from curling up into a grin. He'd never been able to manage supercilious very well – he suspected that ‘one' had to have it bred into ‘one'.
Malfoy raised an eyebrow. "Muggle clothing, do you mean?"
It was Harry's turn to raise an eyebrow, sensing that some awful slur was about to come out of Malfoy's mouth. For a change. "Yes?"
Malfoy relaxed a little, flicking a hand in dismissal. "Malfoys do not shop in Muggle outfitters." He sighed, his forehead puckering into a frown. "I confess, however, that I did not expect this level of squalor. The toilet facilities . . ." He trailed off with a shudder.
A Cunning Plan came to Harry. "If you do all the cooking—"
Malfoy stared at him. "I hardly think—"
"—I'll trade you a roll of toilet paper."
A glorious range of emotions flitted over Malfoy's face. "Done," he said.
Harry wondered if he'd made a bit of a cock-up of things. He didn't put it past Malfoy to have smuggled some kind of noxious potions ingredient in, in his suitcase. "You're not planning on poisoning us, are you?"
Malfoy smirked. "Potter, I have never cooked anything, ever. I won't even have to try to poison you – no doubt it will come with depressing ease."
Oh hell, Harry thought. But, try as he might, he couldn't think of anything else he could trade with Malfoy for, so he shrugged. "Just do your best, eh?"
Malfoy looked at him, this time rather blankly. "I see your survival instincts are as finely honed as ever, Potter." Then he smiled, so quickly that Harry wasn't sure if he'd imagined it. "Very well. I shall attempt this epic feat. If a Muggle can do it, a Malfoy should have no trouble."
He sounded, Harry thought, as if he were trying to convince himself of that. Still, he'd now been talking to Malfoy for at least a minute and a half, and neither of them had gone for each other's throats, which had to be a new record. "We should do this task then, shouldn't we? Otherwise our sons will be stuck in the tents for all eternity."
After the earlier ‘little incident', as she had called it, the counsellor had sealed both boys in separate tents. Only successful completion of a team-building task by their fathers, she had said, would buy their freedom.
"And us barred from them," Malfoy said with a wince, rubbing his side. "By them I mean, of course, the tents rather than our sons. However uncomfortable last night's accommodation was, it had the negative merit of actually being there. We'll have to sleep outside if we fail to do this ridiculous thing."
Harry groaned and eyed the painted circle in front of him. Inside it was a bucket of water, and by his side was a stick and a length of rope.
"Do you have any ideas on how to solve this conundrum, Potter, or do you still rely on Granger to do your logical thinking?" Malfoy asked.
"Gladly," Malfoy snapped back. "However, until we have satisfied this madwoman that our sons will not start a full-scale war when they return to school, I am stuck here."
"It's just for the weekend," Harry said, trying not to grind his teeth.
Malfoy stared at him, his eyes widening in an alarming fashion. "You didn't read the contract, did you? Good God, Potter, does your idiocy know no bounds?"
"Er, what?" Harry said. He was experiencing an unpleasant sinking feeling.
"This little jaunt isn't just for the weekend, Potter – it's for as long as it takes. So, if we fail to please Little Miss Psycho, we are trapped here until we grow beards, or grow hungry enough to eat each other, or—"
"Fuck," Harry said, thinking that the word wasn't nearly expressive enough, but it would do for now.
Malfoy laughed. It was a hollow laugh, completely lacking in humour. "Fuck, indeed."
* * *
Two hours later, Malfoy was yelling at Harry, and Harry was yelling at Malfoy. They'd been following that pattern for, oh, about one hour and fifty-five minutes, Harry thought, although with minor variations – sometimes it was quiet mocking, rather than yelling, but it was all much of a muchness when it came down to it.
"Just throw the fucking rope straight, will you?" Malfoy shouted. "Even a monkey could manage it."
"Well, let's see you do it if it's so fucking easy," Harry shouted back.
"Incompetent moron," Malfoy muttered.
"What was that?"
"DEAF, INCOMPETENT MORON."
Harry took a deep breath. "How about if we—"
"Yes, like that's going to do any good."
Harry blinked. "You didn't even let me speak."
Malfoy pushed a flyaway strand of hair back out of his eyes. "Would it have been worth my time to listen?"
"Well," Harry said, attempting to find some inner strength and patience. "How about we tie the rope to the stick, and kind of pass it through the bucket handle. We could stand either side."
"The words come out, but they make no sense," Malfoy said. Then he sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "I confess, Potter, that I'm not entirely clear what the aim of this exercise is, anyway."
Harry took hold of his inner strength and patience and squeezed it hard, imagining that it was Malfoy he was squeezing. "We're pretending that the bucket is full of toxic waste, and we have to get it out of the circle without touching it, or going too close."
"It's water, isn't it?"
"Did I say that—" Harry started. He could hear his voice rising from ‘annoyed' to ‘shrill'. His throat hurt. "Let's just try my plan, shall we?"
"Oh, good Lord. If we must."
"Didn't know you were Christian, Malfoy," Harry said, irritated beyond belief at Malfoy's tone of voice. "Pick up Muggle religion, did you?"
At first, Harry didn't realise what Malfoy was doing. Then, with a flood of comprehension – and a flood of freezing liquid – he did. Malfoy had leapt, grabbed, and then poured the entire bucket of ‘toxic waste' over his head.
"You were saying, Potter?" Malfoy said smugly, tossing aside the bucket.
Harry could sense the spectre of the counsellor on the horizon but he was glad that, before she stunned them both, he managed to get in a good, solid punch, right on Malfoy's nose. He hoped it hurt.
* * *
"I wish it had been toxic waste," Harry said. He didn't particularly fancy talking, but he'd been sitting in silence for what felt like a million years now – or an hour, perhaps – and even talking to Malfoy was better than the crushing boredom that was overwhelming him.
Malfoy said nothing.
"Because," Harry said, persevering, "if it had been toxic waste, then I'd be dead. And if I were dead, then I wouldn't still be here."
Malfoy said nothing.
"I would never have agreed to this if I knew I could be here for the rest of my fucking life," Harry said. And then, because he suspected that Malfoy would say nothing, he sighed. "Or maybe you did kill me with toxic waste," he continued, "and this is hell. That would be a bit of a fucker," he concluded. "I'm not sure what I've done to deserve that fate. Really, I—"
"Potter, do you ever shut up?" Malfoy said.
Harry thought about that. He registered that Malfoy hadn't said it in a particularly unpleasant way – more in a weary way. He wondered if he were Malfoy's idea of hell as well. Well, wouldn't that be ironic. They did say that hell was other people – and the idea of being stuck camping with Malfoy, and two teenage boys who were determined to maim each other, for eternity, certainly fit that definition.
They'd been in the woods for a week now. At least, Harry thought it was a week – it was sort of hard to tell, now that Little Miss Psycho had nicked his Muggle wristwatch. At first he'd thought about scratching marks on a wall to mark off the days (given that he lacked paper and parchment of any sort), but tents lacked walls, and he didn't really fancy slicing holes in it. It had rained pretty much solidly ever since the 'toxic waste' incident – which was another irony, Harry thought. If Malfoy had waited just five minutes, the rain would have accomplished the job for him without him even having to move a muscle.
Instead, Harry had given Malfoy a satisfyingly painful-looking shiner, and had grappled with him in the mud until Malfoy's robe was sodden and ruined. Of course, Harry's clothing was also dirtied, but he had several changes of clothes, and towels – which he'd quickly discovered was another one in a long line of essentials that Malfoy had neglected to pack.
"Oh, I see," Malfoy said. His voice was deeply sarcastic, and Harry wondered why.
"You're willing to talk constantly – until I join in. How like you, Potter."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Harry demanded.
"Oh, forget it," Malfoy muttered.
Harry stared at Malfoy. Malfoy had almost sounded . . . hurt? Which was nuts, because Malfoys had hearts of stone. Or venom, perhaps. If you cut them, after all, they bled poison.
"Look, I'm trying my best here," Harry said rather indignantly.
Malfoy raised an eyebrow. Harry wondered if anything, ever, would annoy him more than Malfoy raising an eyebrow. Scorpius had quite a nice eyebrow-raise, but it wasn't a patch on his father's.
"I am!" Harry protested, not even sure why he was bothering. "I lent you some clothes. I gave you a towel." He began ticking off items on his fingers. "Soap. Toilet paper. Deodorant."
Malfoy's eyebrow raised even higher – which impressed Harry, because it should have been impossible. "I am a pureblood, Potter, in case you hadn't noticed. We use magic for all our . . . our . . . personal hygiene matters. It never even occurred to me to pack such Muggle monstrosities."
"Yeah, but you're still not saying thank you."
Malfoy closed his eyes. "Thank you," he muttered. And then spoiled it with, "I hate you."
Harry thought was a bit much. "Well, I hate you too!"
Malfoy snorted, very softly. "I know."
Harry thought that was a bit much. He was stuck in a tent with Malfoy – Little Miss Psycho, for some reason, had decided that the way to 'mutual cooperation' was to trap the parents in one tent, and the kids in the other, until they decided to behave – and now Malfoy was being even more of a git than usual. "I tried not to!" he said. It didn't come out quite how it had sounded in his head.
"How kind of you," Malfoy said, sounding tired. His eyes were still closed when Harry looked over at him. He looked kind of small and pathetic in Harry's Muggle clothes – which were overlarge on his slim frame, and made him look very peculiar. Like a kid dressed up in his dad's clothes. Harry couldn't remember ever seeing Malfoy wearing Muggle stuff.
"You don't understand," Harry said. Malfoy didn't move, and Harry wondered why he was even bothering. It wasn't like Malfoy wanted Harry's approval, or anything. Still, Harry had always been stubborn, and he saw no reason not to continue, just because Malfoy had his eyes shut in an infuriating way. "I wanted to make things up – you know, after. I returned your wand. I–I invited you round to dinner. You said no! What more was I supposed to do?"
Malfoy was so still that Harry suddenly wondered if he was dead. It was a cold, awful feeling, and he'd almost reached forward to poke Malfoy hard, just to make sure, when Malfoy moved. His face was stiff, and it took Harry a while to realise that he was almost white with anger – which made a change from red with anger, Harry thought, but it was a pretty scary thing. Malfoy was between him and the door – or rather, tent flap. Harry felt about surreptitiously for anything he could use to slice a sudden exit in the tent wall, if necessary.
"You invited me to dinner?" Malfoy spat. "And you thought that would make things right?"
Harry backed away, feeling the tent wall, still depressingly damp, against his back. "Well, no," he admitted. "But—"
"I was just a child," Malfoy said. His eyes were glassy and odd. "Everything I'd ever believed in was—" he stopped, suddenly.
"Did you get the Dark Mark?" Harry asked. He almost flinched when he realised what he'd said, and then did flinch when Malfoy turned an expression that was disturbingly keyed somewhere between 'rage' and 'despair' on him. "I, er . . . Sorry. I don't know why I asked that."
"Of course I didn't, Potter," Malfoy said. He was breathing very fast. "I can't believe you . . . Are you an idiot? I mean, of course you are but . . ." He shook his head. "Only trusted followers got the honour of the Mark. I was just a plaything." He snorted, except it came out almost like a sob. "He wanted me dead, Potter. How the fuck did you not know that? He wanted me to fail, and die, so he could kill my parents." He laughed, somewhat hysterically. "He probably didn't even have a reason – he just liked to see people suffer. Fucking hell, Potter . . . what . . . why—" He stopped, suddenly, pressing the backs of his hands hard against his eyes, his body completely still and rigid.
Harry's mouth felt dry. He blinked, unsure of what to say. It all felt so raw, all of a sudden, as if it had all been yesterday, rather than over a decade ago. This Malfoy sitting beside him felt, and sounded, like that snotty little brat he'd nearly killed by accident, and had felt sorry for ever since. And Harry? He felt like a child again, despite having several of his own, and – if he was honest – had never felt like he'd grown up very far.
Except . . . except that snotty little brat would never have said what Malfoy had just said. Not to Harry – and probably not to anyone, except perhaps Narcissa. What had happened to her, Harry wondered. He'd heard something awful, he thought, but hadn't paid it too much attention – some debilitating illness. He wondered how Malfoy was coping – and then wondered why he'd wondered that.
And the old Harry – well, the old Harry would never have patted Malfoy, rather awkwardly on the shoulder. This new, older version of Harry did it almost without thinking.
"What –" Malfoy cleared his throat – "are you doing, Potter?"
"Eh, it's Harry," Harry said, somewhat to his own surprise. He wondered why Malfoy hadn't bit his head off for ‘pitying' him. He wondered why his hand was still on Malfoy's shoulder. "Don't you think that we've been stuck in a tent together for enough time for it to be Harry?"
Malfoy raised his head, his shoulders dropping and his hands coming to rest quietly in his lap. He wasn't looking at Harry – rather, his eyes were fixed on a no doubt rivetingly interesting spot of the tent wall – but he almost smiled. "Maybe I could cope with Scarhead," he said. Then he really did smile, a lopsided thing that made Harry's heart do a funny, squirmy thing that he wasn't sure he liked.
"OK, Ferret-Face," Harry agreed, mostly to cover his confusion.
But thankfully, before he could have a chance to reflect on things further, the counsellor-slash-drill-sergeant poked her head in the tent to announce that Scorpius had drawn first blood, and she required parental input before she killed the pair of them.
It was the first time that the woman had showed a touch of human feeling so far, but Harry was feeling so off-balance that he couldn't even appreciate it properly.
* * *Several days later, Harry found that when Scorpius and Al had yet another screaming row, instead of wanting to pull the head off a Malfoy, he automatically sought out Draco's face and they exchanged a look of frustration and – even scarier – comradeship. And later that evening, when the boys were back in a tent together – spelled so that they couldn't touch each other, and in the company of the relentless counsellor – Harry found that he didn't actually mind that he'd be spending another night in a tent with Malfoy senior.
This, he thought, was – quite frankly – a worrying development.
Not that Malfoy had noticed, Harry thought, rather sourly. He was wearing yet another of Harry's outfits, to the detriment of Harry's own cleanliness, and pulling a face. "Let me warn you, Potter, if you break wind once more during the night I will pull out your intestines and wind them in a beautiful arrangement around a tree."
"I didn't," Harry said, lying. And when Malfoy did the usual eyebrow business, he laughed. "We've eaten nothing but baked beans for a week! It's not my fault!"
The corner of Malfoy's mouth twitched. "Perhaps you do have a small excuse," he said. He ran a hand through his hair. It was loose this evening, and Harry thought it looked quite nice that way. Probably, he thought, because it didn't draw so much attention to how high his hairline had migrated. Nothing to do with the soft, white colour, or the way it fell in attractive strands across his face and nearly hit his shoulders it was so long.
"You're staring at me," Malfoy drawled. He sounded amused. "I know I am dazzlingly attractive in soiled, Muggle clothing, but—" He broke off, and stared at Harry, an amused look on his face. "Why, Potter, you're blushing."
"I am not," Harry said. But the more he tried not to blush, the hotter he felt. He shot up to his feet – and nearly pulled out all the tent pegs. "Argh!" he commented, as he fell down in a tangle, landing almost half in Malfoy's lap and doing something painful to his ankle.
He looked up, and became aware of an unusual sound – Malfoy was laughing. Harry blinked. Malfoy was laughing. Not a mocking, horrible laugh, but a pleasant, friendly one. He was almost giggling. Harry didn't ever remembering hearing Malfoy laugh, even back at school, amongst his Slytherin friends.
"Potter, you're crushing me," Malfoy managed eventually.
Harry struggled to free himself, and found that, to keep the roof of the tent up, he had to hold it up with one hand. "Er," he said.
"Precisely, Potter," Malfoy said. He'd stopped laughing but he was smiling properly now, his cheeks suffused with a soft pink flush. Then he rolled his eyes. "Unless you plan to hold the tent up all night – and frankly, I wouldn't trust you with such a complex task – we should go out and fix it."
Harry nodded and, for some reason he wasn't entirely sure of, lowered his hand. The tent promptly collapsed and, for a moment, the whole world was tent-coloured and tent-scented. He could hear Malfoy laughing again, this time so hard he was evidently having trouble breathing, and it was contagious. Once Harry had started laughing he couldn't stop, which made it hard to extricate himself from the soggy canvas. For a brief while the world was disturbing tent-tasting, but after flailing his arms for a while he managed to find the entrance and stick his head out of it.
Harry pulled himself free of the tent and then reached in, fastening his hand around the nearest Malfoy limb and heaving.
"My hero," Malfoy said, once he was the right way up, and had got his breath back. His face was flushed from laughter. Then he wrinkled his nose. "The Boy who Lives strikes again, rescuing his evil nemesis from certain tent-y death."
Harry scratched the back of his neck. "Were you really my evil nemesis?"
"I was," Malfoy said defiantly. He put his nose in the air. "I can be your evil nemesis if I want to be."
Harry wondered if every conversation with Malfoy would work its way round to their past, and the things he still didn't particularly want to talk about. Last time Malfoy had been disturbingly honest and Harry had . . .
"Earth to Harry?" Malfoy said, waving a hand in front of Harry's eyes.
"You called me Harry," Harry said, rather stupidly.
Malfoy looked awkward for a moment, shifting from foot to foot. It was still light, but fading to dusk, and the soft light made him appear younger and somehow more innocent. "It is your name, idiot," Malfoy said without rancour.
"Er, yes, it is," Harry conceded. Then he added, because he thought he should, "Draco."
"Well done, Pot— Harry," Draco said. Then he turned away from Harry and looked at the tent, his arms folded. "How are we meant to fix that?"
Harry looked over at the other tent, which contained their troublesome offspring. A light was burning, and he could hear the soft murmur of voices. "She's still up," he said, pointing in the direction of the tent. "It's still early, after all. We'll get her to fix it with magic when she's done with our brats."
"We'll be here all night," Draco said. He didn't sound as cross about that as Harry expected. Draco motioned to the campfire – the site of their attempts at nutrition. "We might as well sit somewhere warm."
"Uh, yeah," Harry said, dropping awkwardly down to the ground to sit beside Draco. The fire was low but it still made Harry's face feel pleasantly warm. In contrast to the grass, which was damp and cold. "We're going to get wet arses," Harry said.
Draco laughed. "I haven't been dry in a week."
"A good point," Harry said, and then wasn't sure what else to say. They lapsed into a silence. It wasn't an uncomfortable silence, as such, but it wasn't exactly a comfortable one either. Harry felt like he should be saying something – that by remaining silent he was somehow proving to Draco that he was an idiot with poor social skills. He wondered why Draco wasn't talking, either.
And then Harry noticed that Draco was wavering – physically wobbling. He looked over at him, slightly concerned. Then he almost sniggered. Draco was falling asleep where he sat, his eyes sliding shut and then opening again with a jerk. Harry suspected that Draco hadn't slept properly all week. Not that Harry had, but then he'd had more experience of discomfort – he'd spent his formative years in a cupboard, after all. He wondered, vaguely, if he'd ever told Draco about that, and then blinked at himself. Of course he hadn't – Draco would have taken the piss out of him, and told everyone about it.
Draco lurched and Harry grabbed for him, his heart stopping for an instant. He'd thought Draco would fall head-first into the flames. Draco's eyes widened, and then he yawned, covering his mouth with hand. And then – to Harry's surprise – he shuffled closer, dropping his head on to Harry's shoulder.
Harry sat there, very upright and very still, counting under his breath. He wasn't sure why he was counting, but it felt very important to stay still and to remember to breathe. But Draco's hair was very tickly against his neck, and his head was – actually, Harry thought, trying to quell the rabbit-quick beats of his heart, Draco's head was a heavy, bony lump. He shifted, trying to dislodge the Malfoy imposition. To his horror, however, Draco wrapped an arm under his own and pulled Harry closer.
Harry suspected that Draco was so tired that he wasn't quite in his right mind. And the way Harry was feeling right now – embarrassed, uncomfortable, and hyperaware of Draco's body against his own in a way that was most definitely both ridiculous and . . . ridiculous.
"Stop wriggling," Draco said, very sleepily. Harry didn't like how relaxed Draco sounded. How could he sound so relaxed when Harry was practically having a heart attack? "You're uncomfortable enough without lurching around and making my stomach feel like I've just Apparated halfway across the world and back."
"I'm not very comfortable with your hard head—"
"Shut up, Harry," Draco interrupted – or rather yawned – and snuggled in closer to Harry's side. "You wrecked our accommodation, so you have to pay for it."
So Harry sat there, for what felt like a very long time, highly aware of Draco's soft, quick breaths (which suggested, to Harry, that he wasn't asleep), and the weight of Draco's body as he leaned against Harry's side. It was an odd intimacy, and one that didn't feel unwelcome. In fact, Harry struggled against his impulse to put his arm around Draco. That, he thought, would turn it from weird to really weird.
The light had, by now, completely faded, and Harry was having difficulty seeing much of anything. The small fire didn't give off much light, and Harry wondered if they'd be out there all night, and just how much his son would take the piss out of him if he found out about Harry's new role as a human pillow.
And then, in what felt like a dizzyingly fast sequence of events, the counsellor left the boys' tent, softly illuminated the area, fixed the deflated tent, and called out that they were both idiots, and . . . and Draco yawned, shoved at Harry a little and, as if it were perfectly normal and not at all insane, kissed Harry quickly on the side of the head and said "bedtime, Scarhead," before staggering off into the semi-gloom and vanishing into the tent.
For a moment, Harry just sat there. He wasn't sure he'd ever been stunned into silence before, but he thought that this probably qualified – even though he was currently silent by default, as it were, being both alone, and outside. While Draco – the . . . the kisser – was inside, being all . . . all inside and freaking Harry out entirely with the idea that soon he, Harry, would have to use his legs and go into the tent with him. Which might then involve looking at Draco – possibly in the eye. And right now Harry was uncomfortably certain that that was something he absolutely could not do.
It wasn't, Harry thought – feeling increasingly odd in his stomach – as if it had even been a very interesting kiss. He'd given, and received, hundreds – thousands – of similar perfunctory kisses, to friends and family alike. A brief touch of lips to the side of his head – not even his skin; the kiss had lightly touched his hair – should not have such an effect on him. Like he was falling, very fast, down a shaft and had only just remembered that he'd left his wand in the pocket of his other coat.
Had he imagined it? Harry frowned down at the grass in front of him. He didn't think so. He wasn't really one for making things up. He'd never been a very imaginative child – his life had been bizarre enough without having to dream up extra things to cope with – and he didn't see why he should start hallucinating now. Besides, whether or not Draco had . . . done that thing wasn't really the point. The point was, why on earth had it had such an effect on Harry's insides? And why did he feel that, right now, he'd rather face a second Voldemort – almost – than go back inside that tent?
Harry rather wished that Hermione was there. Or, failing that, Ginny. He wondered why women were able to diagnose these kind of feelings with such ease, while he blundered about in a haze until one of them eventually took pity on him and pointed out the obvious to him. Harry sighed. The only thing he was certain of at that moment was that his arse was cold – he felt under his backside gingerly, and yes, his jeans were damp to the touch from the wet ground – and that he was tired. So he did the manly, sensible thing and forced himself to go into the tent. Where, to Harry's deep – and unreasonable – annoyance, Draco was asleep.
Harry wished he were asleep too. But, tired as he was, sleep evaded him. When he finally woke, disorientated and completely knackered, with no idea how much – or little – rest he'd had, the tent was empty.
* * *
Harry glared, blearily, at the tent walls as he rummaged for something halfway clean to wear. It seemed as if everything was covered in mud, and if it wasn't muddy it was wet . . . and if it wasn't wet it had most likely been pinched by Draco, the infuriating sod.
Harry felt deeply annoyed that last night he had almost been too nervous to enter the sodding tent – and now, because Draco had pulled a vanishing act, he was almost too nervous to leave it. It was, in Harry's opinion, hardly fair. What exactly had he done to deserve such cruel and unusual punishment?
Pulling on the least bad of the available clothes, he grit his teeth and parted the canvas of the tent's entrance, blinking in the bright sunlight. So it was sunny, Harry thought, which made a change. Now he could see the mud in all its wet, glistening glory. And it was bloody freezing too. Harry wondered, for the umpteenth time, why they'd had to 'bond' in England rather than, say, anywhere else.
Harry's heart gave an incredible, disorientating lurch when he caught sight of Draco, standing by the dead fire, his posture one big slouch. Harry attempted to smile when Draco noticed his presence, turning towards him, but the embryo – no doubt sheepish – grin faltered on his lips when he saw Draco's expression. It was set and cold – and the typical Malfoy eyebrow was out in full force. Where, Harry thought, wondering what sort of face he was supposed to pull in response, was the friendly, happy Draco of last night? And why, of all stupid things, did Harry's eyes feel like they'd encountered a strong onion, and were threatening to rebel and embarrass him completely? In lieu of anything better to do, he reached up and rubbed a hand hard through his hair, attempting to scrub out the kinks so that it would lie flat.
"I see the hedgehog's woken up," came a disdainful, mocking voice.
Harry wheeled around to see – surprise, surprise – Scorpius Malfoy's ugly mug emerging from the entrance of the boys' tent. Harry was briefly diverted by the sight of Al, following him out, attempting to hit Scorpius. Little Miss Psycho's spell was a good one, he thought, as he watched the two boys grow red-faced with effort as they did their best to break through the wards between them and inflict GBH on each other. They didn't manage to even touch each other though, let alone break the skin. Harry was mildly relieved. He didn't feel at all himself this morning, and he didn't want to spend the rest of the day yelling.
"Shut up, Scorpius," Harry said. "And stop that, Al," he continued. He was about to expand on his theme when Draco interrupted.
"I don't believe my son has given you permission to use his given name," Draco said. He said it in the snottiest way possible and, for a moment, Harry thought he was joking.
Draco wrinkled his nose. "I hardly think I need repeat myself, Potter, just because you failed to listen the first time."
Harry opened his mouth to speak – and shut it again. He couldn't think of anything to say. What the hell had happened? The sick, nervous feeling he'd been experiencing lessened, and was replaced by something worse. He attempted to cover it up with anger, but he couldn't bring himself to speak in case he – as usual – said something stupid.
"Come, Scorpius," Draco said – venom practically dripping from his words. "Move away from the mudbl— the Potters. They might be catching."
Harry blinked and looked over at Al. To his surprise, Al didn't leap up and try to extract revenge. His eyes were wide and then his forehead wrinkled and, when he turned to look at Harry, his expression was one of concern. Then, to Harry's relief, Al turned back towards the Malfoys and glared at them, as hard as he could. Harry didn't want his son feeling sorry for him. Even though he did, admittedly, feel a little sorry for himself right now. He pulled back his shoulders and tried not to show that Draco's words had wounded him.
He was horribly aware that he wasn't doing a very good job of it.
* * *
By the end of the day, Harry was starting to think that he'd be stuck in the wood, in the cold and the damp, with people who hated him, for the rest of his life. Al had been acting like a brat all day – insisting that Harry must have done something stupid to enrage Draco, and how was he supposed to make a truce with Scorpius if Harry couldn't make up with Draco? And then, when Harry had snapped at him, Al had gone quiet, and then started going on about what an arse Draco was, which was almost worse than when it had been 'all Dad's fault'.
Draco, on the other hand, had been quiet and cold – and when he had spoken, it had been to be insulting, or to encourage his son to be equally insulting. He suddenly seemed to hate Harry even more than when they'd arrived, and since Harry hadn't done anything, it didn't exactly seem fair or reasonable. But then, he thought grimly, when had Draco ever been fair or reasonable? Never, that's when, so there was no reason why he should start now. He'd obviously been friendly, and amusing, and witty in a sarcastic, dry way, only so that he could annoy Harry all the more when he stopped and went back to 'normal'.
Except . . . except Draco had often seemed to enjoy being rude to Harry and now, not so much. When Harry looked at him out of the corner of his eye, Draco's face was small and unhappy, rather than smug and supercilious.
So Harry got up, his heart beating wildly, walked over to Draco, crouched down and . . . punched him. Hard.
Draco reeled and clutched his face. "Potter, what the fuck?"
"I'll do it again if you don't—" Harry started.
Draco swung wildly at him and staggered to his feet, going for his throat.
Harry wasn't sure why he was fighting with Draco, but they'd never had a proper fist fight, and now seemed like an ideal opportunity and entirely the right thing to do, although he wasn't quite sure why. So he dodged, landing a punch in Draco's stomach.
Draco doubled over, wheezing, and ran forward, head-butting Harry and knocking him to the ground.
The ground was cold. And hard. And Draco, damn him, was heavy. Harry thought that Draco probably hadn't meant to fall on him, and certainly didn't mean to just go on lying there, groaning a bit, like a dead weight. So Harry shoved at him, rolling him on his back, and wishing that it wasn't his own clothes, covering Draco's body, that were getting covered in crap.
Draco took a deep breath and perked up a bit, half-rising and managing to land one on Harry's chin before Harry landed one back and they rolled about for a bit, Harry yanking on Draco's hair, and Draco digging his nails (sharp and girly, Harry thought, wincing), in the flesh of Harry's upper arm.
Harry wondered, rather vaguely, if always using a wand for defence was a bit of a handicap, and if he should order his Aurors to learn a Muggle martial art or three.
He also wondered why Scorpius wasn't trying to pull his head off, why Al wasn't helping his dad, and why he and Draco were, to tell the truth, hardly trying to hurt each other.
In fact, now he came to think of it, Draco looked a bit like he was about to cry, his mouth all screwed up and his face tight.
"Why," Harry asked, struggling to sit up, "are you being such an arse, all of a sudden?"
Draco scowled at him, gingerly feeling his cheek and, in the process, smearing mud on his face. "I don't need to explain myself to you, Har— Potter."
Harry looked at Draco. Draco failed to look back and Harry realised – feeling slightly amazed that he'd realised it all on his own – that Draco was embarrassed. And that, because he was embarrassed he'd been . . . he'd been mean to Harry.
This all felt, Harry thought gloomily, depressingly teenage. It was a shame that, once he'd thought that, that didn't make things any easier. Not in the slightest.
"It's Harry," Harry said.
Draco said nothing, just examined his fingernails.
Harry thought that, if he were brave, or dashing, or any of the kinds of things that newspaper reporters wrote about him, he would be able to just lean over and kiss Draco, and see what happened. It was a mad idea, but he had a feeling that he'd probably like it. And he suspected that Draco would quite like it too. But . . . what if he didn't? Or what if he tried, and Draco laughed. That was the sort of thing that Draco might do.
Harry had had a quick look round and noticed that the kids had disappeared somewhere. He hoped that they hadn't gone to slaughter each other in private, but he also hoped that they'd pissed off for long enough just in case Harry did pluck up the courage to—
Draco kissed him.
It was a quick, supremely awkward thing, but Harry discovered, to his surprise, that he was shaking like a leaf. At least, he thought that it was him who was shaking, rather than Draco, but it was hard to tell. Everything felt very unlikely, and very wobbly. He hoped that he wasn't just hallucinating – had one of the Malfoy pair finally cracked and fed him poison?
Draco pulled back. He had the cold, hard Malfoy face on again and, for a moment, Harry wondered if he was going to say something unpleasant. But he didn't. And Draco was shaking, Harry realised, very faintly round the edges, despite the unpleasant expression.
"Er," Harry said. "Shall we try that again?"
Draco blinked and looked disconcertingly surprised. "You mean . . . you want to?"
"If you want to," Harry said hastily and then, when Draco didn't reply, tried to smile. "Don't you want to?" he asked, feeling annoyed at how small and stupid his voice sounded.
And then Draco was kissing him, and properly this time, like they were both teenagers and couldn't get enough of it. And Harry felt like a teenager – and always had, to be honest; still surprised whenever he looked in the mirror and saw a grown-up looking back – and he wanted Draco oh-Merlin-so-so-very-much.
It was odd, kissing someone new. It had been too long for Harry, and he wondered if it had been as long for Draco – whose wife, Harry had heard, had left him, or so the scandalous rumours had suggested. Harry wished he could turn his brain off. He wasn't sure whether the thought that he was kissing Draco Malfoy was more terrifying, or more . . . He pulled back, panting.
"Where'd the boys go?" Harry asked when he had enough breath, definitely not wanting Al to see him in such a state. Wizarding robes had their plus sides when it came to snogging sessions – and he was wearing jeans, and very uncomfortable they were too.
"I expect they're playing Exploding Snap," Draco said and – strangely – blushed.
Draco sighed. "I'm sorry, Harry. I suspect Albus Severus didn't inform you, as Scorpius informed me this morning, that they have . . . manufactured their hatred to allow us to . . ." He trailed off, waving a hand as if hoping that he wouldn't have to continue.
"To what?" Harry said, wanting to make things perfectly clear. He had to decide whether to murder his son in a quick, painless way, or whether it was necessary to drag it out for many, many weeks.
"To make up," Draco said firmly, although the colour in his cheeks deepened. "I may have mentioned I desired that to Scorpius, once or twice," he muttered. "However, I expect this turn of events will make them wish to kill us both. Although, perhaps you don't wish to . . ." He stopped again, practically purple by now, Harry thought.
"Er," Harry said, thinking that he'd quite like to answer that, but not sure how to force words out of his mouth. "I do. You know . . . we could give it a go. Stranger things have happened."
"I can't think what," Draco said, almost despairingly, by some miracle seeming to understand what Harry had meant.
Harry reached over and rubbed his thumb over Draco's cheek, attempting to clean off the mud. Draco's face took on a pleasingly dazed expression and his lips parted.
Harry leaned in for another kiss. And then . . .
"ARGHHH," Harry said.
"You two are so disgusting," Al said, wrinkling his nose as he tipped the rest of the bucket of cold water over Harry's head.
"Really, Father," Scorpius said, his arms folded. "I thought you had better taste." He sniffed. "And certainly more sense of propriety."
And then, to Harry's shivery amusement, his son and Draco's son turned and grinned at each other.
"Bagsy me Harry's broom – you know, the Nimbus one – if they stop fighting long enough to actually get together properly," Scorpius said. He smirked. "I can make a lot of money on BayE."
"You mean eBay?" Al said, raising an eyebrow. He'd been practising, Harry thought. His son almost had the Malfoy eyebrow down to perfection. "You'd sell my Dad's precious stuff on eBay?"
"Well, he's not using it any more," Scorpius said.
Al laughed and leaped, attempting to yank Scorpius' hair out at the roots, and Scorpius doing his best to return the favour.
Harry turned to Draco. His stomach dropped. No-one had looked at Harry like that for a very long time.
"Potter," Draco said, his smile turning more predatory. "If you die of frostbite you'll deprive me of the years of torment I see ahead of me."
Harry's mouth went dry. "Er—"
Draco leaned forward. "Go and get changed, Harry," he said, and smirked – but pulled him back, very quickly, for a kiss, which made Harry feel quite weak at the knees, before he let him go.
* * *
Harry looked at the tent, rather wistfully. He hated it, that was true, but now that Little Miss Psycho had, rather reluctantly, agreed to let them all go, he was strangely reluctant to actually leave.
Harry leapt about twelve feet in the air, before twisting around to glare at a smirking Draco.
"Call yourself an Auror?" Draco laughed. "A herd of elephants could stomp up behind you and you wouldn't notice."
"I was just thinking . . ." Harry said.
"Spit it out, Scarhead," Draco said. "We can get out of this dump, don't you remember? The boys have already gone back to school. I can't think why you're hanging around. It's surely not for an epic love of tents."
"I hate tents," Harry said with feeling.
"And so do I," Draco said, speaking very slowly, as if to an idiot. "Which is why we should leave this place and go to somewhere entirely free of mud."
"But . . ."
"What is it?"
"I . . ."
Draco tapped his foot. "Yes?"
"But camping gave me . . ."
Draco snorted. "Wet feet? Wet pants? Wet everything?"
"I was going to say you," Harry said, trying not to blush.
"Wow, that is the worst compliment I've ever had," Draco said, but he was smiling properly, and his eyes sparkled. "That's like saying I'm some sort of disease or—"
"Let's get out of here," Harry said.
"Finally!" Draco said. He was still talking when Harry side-along Apparated him away. Insults, Harry thought, but the feel of Draco's hand was warm and solid in his own, and he was laughing as he spoke.
Maybe camping wasn't so bad, Harry thought, as they landed just outside his home, and Draco steadied himself against Harry's body, warm and happy. After all, camping ended . . . and when something ended, it left space for something new, and much nicer, to begin.