August 1999, Guernsey
Harry and Draco had found a beautiful cove during one of their many races on a broomstick, only accessible by air or sea, hidden from sight. They had decided to spend the day there. Harry had been adamant: he wanted the full Muggle experience and he rented a small boat which seemed precarious.
Halfway there, the engine died and they had to row the rest of the way to the cove. They didn’t want to Apparate and leave the boat in the middle of the sea. Once they arrived in the cove, Harry eyed Draco mischievously and smirked. He pointed at the sand beach in front of them:
“Oh look, a treehouse!”
Harry had said the first thing that had come to his mind and as soon as Draco turned his head towards the beach, he got up from his seat on the boat and pushed him in the water. Draco hadn’t seen anything coming.
He fell, making the boat pitch dangerously. Harry had to hold its edges to stay onboard. Draco emerged a few seconds later, hissing because of the cold water.
“Potter, you’re going to regret this!” he threatened.
He put all of his weigh on one side of the boat and made it tilt towards the water. Harry laughed and held on but the boat was almost turned over so he had no choice but to fall as well.
The water was incredibly cold but it was more than bearable: Harry was used to much colder. He resurfaced quickly and splashed Draco with water. He laughed and splashed some back at him. They tried to duck or hide under water, playing, trying to sink the other.
Their playful row slowly escalated into something different and soon they were kissing hungrily, gasping and clutching at each other.
“Is that what you had in mind for your adventure?” Draco asked, breathless.
“Not exactly but it’s perfect the way it is. It’s always so much better when it’s with you,” Harry answered.
Draco chuckled and helped Harry back onto the boat. He then held out his hand so that Harry could drag him back on board as well. They rowed for a couple of minutes and finally arrived on the beach, collapsing on the sand.
Alone in the cove, they enjoyed their day, making out and feeding each other pieces of fruits. They thought they had all the time in the world and it was true. No more illness or war threatened to shorten their lives. It might seem frivolous to spend days in a cove doing nothing but enjoy the sunlight or dive in the sea to watch beautiful fishes. As they were wizards, they were even able to stay underwater for hours. Harry would know about it, his Fourth Year had been quite productive.
“I can’t row back to the harbour,” Harry complained. “I can’t feel my arms anymore. We’re wizards, we should be able to do something, repair the engine or something!”
As they were both too lazy to row back to the harbour, Draco had the bright idea of levitating the boat above the water while they were on it and pretend to row whenever they saw Muggles. They decided to save most of the trip back for the next day and head to a town they had seen on their way to the cove. After all, they had all the time in the world. Draco’s plan worked and they arrived in a little town by the seaside much quicker than they expected. They explored it and found a nice hotel to spend the night before coming back to St Peter Port the following day.
Back in Guernsey’s main town, they decided their afternoon would be a little less original than the previous one.
On the beach, the sun was high in the sky, blazing and warm. The sand under Harry’s feet seemed to be made of lava; it was almost impossible to walk upon it without shoes. Harry wiped his glistening forehead and took off his shirt: he never thought he’d be able to say that he couldn’t stand the heat anymore but there he was. Shirtless at the beach, sweating, wishing he’d gone swimming instead of stubbornly trying to tan.
“Harry Potter?” a voice asked.
Not this again, Harry thought as he discreetly put a hand on his forehead to check if the lock of hair that was hiding his scar was still securely in place.
Thankfully it was. Nonetheless, Harry raised his head and eyed the girl in front of him: she was young and almost shaking with excitement at the idea of having met the Chosen One. Harry just wanted to enjoy his damn holiday in peace so he answered:
“No, no, you must be mistaken.”
The girl shook her and and kept raising her voice which attracted the attention of the people around them.
“But I recognize you from the Daily Prophet and that article they posted about a charity event!”
“No, I’m really not!”
People were starting to turn around and to stare at them and it wouldn’t be long before all the witches and wizards would notice who he was and all the Muggles on the beach would wonder what the hell was happening and the Statute of Secrecy would be broken and…
“Luke, flirting again?”
Draco hadn’t forgotten about the first time this had happened a year ago. He grabbed a towel and started drying himself up. This time, Harry didn’t have to hide the fact that he was staring at his muscled body. Eyes full of desire and love, he stared at Draco, at the body he spent hours worshipping. He had come such a long way and he was feeling so much better than a year ago, both physically and emotionally. He had learned to accept this part of himself, to embrace the fact that he loved boys and more specifically Draco Malfoy.
“Oh! I’m sorry. I was wrong!” the girl said before running away.
Draco chuckled and sat down on the towel next to Harry. His body, cold from the seawater, was a relief to Harry who had been burning up under the sun - in a good way. He relished the heat even though he suffered it just like anyone else now.
“Does this feel like déjà-vu to you?” Draco asked.
“Want to fall in love all over again?”
Draco cast a Notice-Me-Not spell for more privacy and to avoid any other people from the Wizarding World bothering them. He took Harry’s hand and settled on the sand, feet buried in it.
“I’m falling in love with you everyday, Harry. Every morning when I wake up next to you, I think, I almost missed this. It was so easy for us to wander off, to go our own separate way and to lose everything.”
“But then you remember you’re stuck with me,” Harry answered, thinking about their mingled souls.
“Yes. Stuck with you forever, Scarhead. A year ago, would you have even thought this would happen?”
Harry laughed. A year ago, the mere idea of kissing Draco and flirting with him seemed ridiculous to him. Now, he wouldn’t know how to live without him. In a year, things had turned out much differently than he would have thought but he was so glad for it. In a year, people who seem indispensable to you might become strangers and strangers might become anchors.
Draco had always meant something to Harry but today he was his life buoy in the huge shipwreck he had been caught in. That hadn’t changed when he got better and he suspected it never would. In a year, you can start to love someone and feel like it had been the one thing missing from your life. In a year, you can start to think, feel and act as two halves of a whole instead of as an individual being.
“No, I never thought this would happen but I’m glad it did.”
Draco kissed him and they went back to a comfortable silence punctuated by a few discussions. Their lazy afternoon at the beach stretched to the end of the day. When the light started to diminish, they decided to pack up their things and head back to their hotel to shower.
“I wonder how Ollie’s doing,” Draco wondered as he put on his brand new Italian shoes.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll be obese when Mrs Weasley’s done with him,” Harry laughed.
“Merlin, don’t say things like that, what if his little jumpers don’t fit anymore?”
He was already thinking about sending an Owl to ask how Ollie was doing, Harry was sure of it.
“Draco, stop fretting, he’s fine!”
They were heading down town to get ice cream and buy souvenirs for their friends. They put on their jackets and climbed down the stairs. Draco stopped on their way out and told Harry he’d be right back. He saw him walking up to the reception and talking to the woman in charge of the hotel. He came back a few seconds later, smiling and wrapping an arm around Harry’s shoulder.
“What makes you so happy?”
“Well, this hotel is dog-friendly. So, next time, we’ll bring Ollie with us.”
Harry laughed and shook his head. His heart beat faster and his knees got weak when he started to understand that there would be future holidays on Guernsey. Many of them.
He beamed and started pulling Draco in a crowded street, impatient to visit this part of Guernsey he hadn’t yet been to and immediately at ease. He entered the small shops, bought candies to share with Draco and walked until his feet hurt. He hadn’t just rediscovered taste and health, he had found out how good life could be.
After a quiet morning wandering in St Peter Port’s narrow streets, Harry and Draco had followed a group of tourists so they’d see where everyone went to when they wanted to visit essential locations. The group had stopped in front of a huge white house with a spiraling staircase on the outside and a beautiful garden around it. It was called Hauteville House and it had been Victor Hugo’s refuge during his exile from France. For the lack of a better thing to do and a nagging curiosity they both shared, the boys decided to behave like tourists for the afternoon and book a visit.
They weren’t disappointed: the majestic house had a soul of its own and the memories it harboured seemed to linger within its walls. Though neither Harry nor Draco had ever read any of Hugo’s work, they felt a connection to him, probably due to their common love for the island which had welcomed them so many times in the past.
On the way out, Harry picked a random book and bought it. Draco then took his hand and led him to their favourite restaurant for a nice dinner. He specifically requested candles on the table, telling the waitress he wanted to spoil his beautiful boyfriend tonight.
“Feeling romantic, are we?” Harry asked, chuckling.
He couldn’t help it, he still blushed when Draco stared at him with this look, eyes full of passion and lust.
“What, I’m not allowed to brag about my famous and handsome boyfriend anymore?”
“Come on, nobody knows who I am here.”
Draco raised his eyebrows.
“Well, there definitely is a wizarding community here and they just keep finding us every time we come,” he teased. “And anyway, you’re still my handsome boyfriend anywhere in the world.”
Harry wanted to say, I’m much more than that. I live with a piece of your soul and carry it with me daily so that I can stay alive.
He knew he didn't have to say it though. They didn’t feel each other’s emotions nor were they able to read their respective minds but there was something they could sense. Especially while they were making love or right after when Harry was lying in Draco’s arms, head on his chest and legs intertwined. Draco always kept a soothing hand on his bum or rubbed his lower back until he fell asleep. At that moment, their connection was on both a physical and spiritual level. They both relished these moments and often stayed in the same position all night long, waking up snuggled together.
When they finished eating, the sky hadn’t gone dark yet yet there was an unmistakable change in the air. People strolled idly on the beach and their laugh echoed warmly in the streets, making up for the lack of sun. It had finished its course for the day and was setting in the horizon. It was an evening of laziness and comfort which had a little something that undeniably reminded Harry of summer, freedom and love.
“Want to go for a walk?” Harry asked.
They went to the same beach where Draco had yelled at the sky and wrapped his arm around Harry during their first day in Guernsey. He still vividly remembered the way it had felt, having Draco so close to him. Exhilarating, freeing, exciting, his mind supplied.
He held hands with Draco while they walked on the beach, shoes in their hands and bare feet sliding in the sand. A year ago, he never would have guessed he’d be so comfortable and proud to hold hands with a boy, to kiss him in public. By some miracle, no newspaper had outed them yet but it was going to come up anytime soon. After all, they had agreed they wouldn’t hide now that their loved ones were aware of their relationship. Harry didn’t even care one bit about the lies and distorted truths journalists may publish about him and Draco. If newspapers were to out them, they’d give an interview to Luna and have it published in the Quibbler.
Harry and Draco sat down on the beach when they decided they couldn’t fine a better spot to watch the sunset. Harry remembered about the book he had bought earlier on and shrunk in his pocket. He waved his wand and enlarged it after making sure no Muggles were near.
He dusted the sand that had managed to make its way into his pocket when he sat down and read the title: Toilers of the sea.
He settled against Draco, leaning on him and opened it.
“Should I read it to you?” Harry asked.
Draco tightened his hold on Harry and hummed his agreement, eyes focused on the vast range of colours emanating from the sky. The waves crashed on the beach regularly in a soothing rhythm which was punctuated by the chirping of birds all around them and the seagulls’ cries above them.
They really couldn’t have picked a better place to fall in love.
Harry smiled and started reading: “I dedicate this book to the rock of hospitality and liberty, to that portion of old Norman ground inhabited by the noble little nation of the sea, to the island of Guernsey, severe yet kind, my present asylum, my probable tomb.”
Alone on their island of peace, Harry read on until the light began to fade.
On their last day in Guernsey, nostalgia wasn’t a part of the emotions Harry felt for once. He wasn’t glad to leave at all, he loved the island and he knew he’d always come here if he needed a place to escape. Now, he felt at ease with the idea of leaving. He had a home to come back to. A life.
With Ron and Hermione back from Hogwarts with their NEWTs, he was glad to come home. He would meet them at Florean Fortescue for ice cream after his shift at George’s shop and then have a nice afternoon at the flat reunited with his two best friends in the world. He’d wait for Draco to come home from work and order take out and eat on the couch with Ollie on his lap.
Everyone got along now. Mostly. Ron and Draco certainly weren’t fond of each other but at least they managed to be friendly.
“What are you thinking about?” Draco asked as he stepped on the balcony where Harry was sitting.
He finished drying his hair with a fluffy white towel and sat down next to him. Having just showered, he smelled strongly of the citrus and exotic fruits present in his favourite shampoo. He said it reminded him of the jungle.
“Home,” Harry answered.
He laced his fingers with Draco’s.
“Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, everything’s perfect. I’m just happy, you know?”
Draco’s worried frown disappeared and he smiled a little, eyes drifting back to the sea.
“I know. I’m happy too. More than I thought was possible.”
Harry wasn’t anxious about the future anymore. Whatever may come, he knew he wouldn’t face it alone and that was what mattered the most to him. He had his family, his friends and Draco. It was an unexpected combination of people, his old friends from school and new ones like Theo, his best friends, his family and its newest members such as Teddy, Andromeda and Narcissa. He wouldn’t trade any of them for the world.
He vowed to take his time, enjoy the little moments in life that made it so special and precious. Waking up next to Draco, laughing with his friends, having a nice Sunday afternoon at the Burrow, holding Teddy, petting Ollie.
Harry was so glad to be alive to see this. He knew he had made the right choice in King Cross Station when he had the possibility of moving on to the next stop. He knew he was right where he belonged, sitting down in front of the sea with Draco Malfoy holding his hand.