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Sparks from the Fox’s Tail

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Cover Design by saintgilbert

Ladun hiihan laulajille,
osaaville tien ojennan:
tästä tänne tie menevi,
tie menevi, maa matavi,
ura uusi urkenevi.
I’ll ski a trail for singers
for the skilled set out a road:
from here to here the road goes
the road goes and the land crawls
a new track leads off.

o0o

Draco Malfoy sat at a book display table in Flourish and Blotts on an April afternoon, trying not to look bored or annoyed or, Merlin help us, wistful. Stacks of his latest wizarding travel guide surrounded him, in case anyone should want to have them signed by the author. He could have told the witch in the store’s publishing arm, Flourishing Plots, that this was not a good idea, but she never listened. People would buy his books, but they didn’t want to acknowledge him.

He picked up a copy and leafed through it, just to have something to do. Frolics in France. It was a stupid title, Draco knew, but he didn’t have much influence over his publisher’s decisions. He was lucky to have a job – though they were lucky to have him, too. They’d needed something to replace those idiotic books of Lockhart’s, and Draco’s guides were not only written with verve, they were actually informative. But the same alliteration-besotted editor who’d come up with Voyages with Vampires and Gadding with Ghouls would saddle Draco’s books with bland, predictable titles. Sauntering About Spain. Jaunting Around Germany.

“PUT THAT BOOK DOWN!”

Molly Weasley stood before him, glowering.

Draco did not ordinarily let others dictate his reading, but he had vivid memories of Arthur Weasley punching his father in this very store, not to mention the Bat-Bogey hex inflicted on him by Ginny. The entire Weasley clan had chaotic tendencies, and Mrs Weasley was the fiercest of the lot. He was uncomfortably aware that she had plenty of reasons to bear a grudge against him, though she hadn’t said anything in the years since the war.

Draco lowered his book and waited.

“I won’t stand for it,” Mrs Weasley said flatly. “Not with Bill leaving for France with Fleur, and Ginny going off to the States to play professional Quodpot, and Ron trailing off to some wizarding university in Ghana. You can’t have him.”

Have who? Draco wondered. And for what? How many Weasleys were there, anyway? Surely she didn’t think he had designs on Percy….

“You are not moving to Finland with Harry.”

Well, that was true enough – Draco had no plans to go anywhere with Potter, and certainly not to Finland. “I’m not,” Draco agreed promptly.

This did not pacify her. “Means that little to you, does he?” She narrowed her eyes at him. “Well, better that he find out now. I want you to tell Harry today.”

Cautiously, Draco replied, “I, er, shall owl him then?”

“You will do no such thing. He deserves to hear it from you in person.”

This was getting more surreal all the time. Draco had barely spoken to Potter in years, their history was so horribly awkward. But Molly Weasley was the witch who had felled his Aunt Bellatrix, and therefore a force to be reckoned with.

“Right. As soon as my book-signing duties are finished, then.”

“Promise me….”

“Yes, yes.” Draco wished he could make his escape, but he was stuck at the book table for another half-hour. “Er….” He gestured vaguely at the stacks of his guidebooks, perfectly sure that she would not want his autograph, but not knowing what else to say.

Frolics in France, indeed,” Mrs Weasley muttered, and left. Draco gazed after her, mystified but relieved.

After a time a browser meandered toward his table and actually picked up a copy to glance through. Draco straightened up and put on a smile. The customer seemed to notice him for the first time – then put the book down and retreated. Draco scowled, in the mood to jinx something. It was time for him to leave – the bookshop and perhaps, again, the country.

On the way to his flat Draco considered his promise to Mrs Weasley. He was not at all sure that she would not follow up on him, as she seemed a bit obsessed, so he thought it prudent to stop by the branch Owl Post Office and send an owl to Potter asking to meet. If Potter snubbed him, which was entirely likely, at least Draco could claim to have tried.

But Potter responded, suggesting they meet in a park in Muggle London that had an Apparition point nearby, and soon Draco was confronting that erstwhile lifesaver and irritant. They sat on a park bench amidst daffodils swaying in a fitful breeze.

“Well?” Potter said. His arms were crossed and he looked wary.

It was going to sound preposterous no matter how Draco said it. “I don’t want you to move to Finland.”

“You’re trying to stop me moving to Finland?” Potter cocked his head, looking at Draco as though he’d gone mad. “Even if I were planning to do such a thing, Malfoy, what makes you think I’d give a flying shrivelfig for your opinion?”

“Personally, Potter, I don’t care if you go to Helsinki, Havana, or Tierra del Fuego. Just make it clear to Mrs Weasley that you aren’t doing so at my behest. I merely wish to set her mind at ease.”

“Molly? Why would you be carrying messages for her?”

“Out of the goodness of my heart?”

Potter looked properly sceptical. Draco tried again.

“Because I don’t wish to receive a Howler like the ones that used to make the rafters ring in the Great Hall at Hogwarts.”

“Wise,” Potter conceded. “Whatever made her think of Finland, though?”

“Haven’t the foggiest. Perhaps she believes in an international conspiracy of blond people?”

That almost got Potter to laugh, but the sour look returned. “Or are you writing Scarpering Off to Scandinavia next? After Idiot’s Guide to Italy, or whatever you’re on now?”

“I write the books, Potter, the editor gives them the titles. I don’t have any choice.”

“That’s always your excuse, isn’t it? Poor helpless Malfoy.”

Why should Potter care what the damn books were called? He was everyone’s hero now, what did he need to mock Draco for? “What’s the matter, Potter?” Draco sneered back. “Glumbumble treacle in your treacle tart?”

Where on earth had that come from? Potter stared at him, as well he might.

“Happy people aren’t unkind,” Draco found himself saying. And then he stood and left before any more bizarre and embarrassing things could come out of his mouth.

o0o

As he moved about his kitchen getting dinner, the words kept repeating in Draco’s mind. “What’s the matter, poppet? Glumbumble treacle in your treacle tart?” Who had said that to him, long long ago? Not his mother, certainly. A memory surfaced – Draco sitting in the kitchen of the Manor, his feet dangling from a chair – he must have been quite small – as he watched a woman roll out pastry. There was a smudge of flour on her forehead and she smelled like cinnamon. He had replied crossly that he was fine, and she had smiled at him. “Happy people aren’t unkind.”

Who would she have been, working in that kitchen like a house-elf? Someone there to mind him when his parents were on holiday and he was too young to come along? A poor relation? Did his family even have poor relations?

The smell of cinnamon, and a rough kind voice, and a sense of loss, and his parents saying, “Common.”

After dinner Draco got down Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. “Glumbumble … a grey, furry-bodied flying insect that produces melancholy-inducing treacle…. It has been known to infest beehives, with disastrous effects on the honey…. They feed on nettles.”

He didn’t think his current mood could be blamed on furry insects. He went early to bed.

o0o

Next morning Draco decided to send an owl to Mrs Weasley, so that he could be done with it and put the whole thing out of his mind. He composed the note after breakfast.

Dear Mrs Weasley,
I met with Harry Potter yesterday to inform him that I do not desire him

He stared at the words. To go to Finland, I do not desire him to go to Finland. He crossed out desire.

I do not want him

Just as well, there was no point wanting anything from Potter, sitting there in April sunshine with his arms crossed tight and his face just as closed. There never had been much point wanting anything from Potter.

Dear Mrs Weasley,
I met with Harry Potter yesterday as you requested. I let him know that although he is of course free to go where he wishes, I saw no reason for him to go to Finland.
Respectfully yours,
Draco Malfoy

He posted it on his way to Flourish and Blotts to discuss plans for the next book.

His editor was just finishing a Floo call when he arrived. She waved him in anyway and he heard the end of the conversation. “Yes, I know it’s an important reference work, I know we need a new edition, but we can’t very well publish it before we find someone to write it, now can we?”

Draco couldn’t shake an eerie feeling when the editor announced that the new project would be a guide to Scandinavia. She showed him the budget for his advance, to (barely) cover his expenses in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.

“What about Finland?” Draco asked.

“What about it?”

“If you’re going to call the book Scarpering – er, Scampering Through Scandinavia, shouldn’t it include Finland? And Iceland, for that matter?”

“They don’t consider themselves Scandinavian countries. They’re Nordic.”

Since Draco hadn’t known that, he guessed that many of his readers wouldn’t either. He suspected this was a penny-pinching evasion. “Well, we could call it Navigating the Nordic Lands, then.”

“This is the budget, Mr Malfoy. What is so interesting in Finland anyway?”

“That,” Draco said with gritted teeth, “is what I would be going there to find out.”

She gave him a sharp look, announced she had another appointment shortly, and said he could sign the contract later in the week.

“Wait – what was the book you were discussing when I came in? You know my skills at prose-writing and research could be turned to many topics.”

Hogwarts: A History,” the editor replied. “We’re looking for someone to update it, but I hardly think….”

Well, no, Draco didn’t want to be in charge of detailing how his own hard work and ingenuity had succeeded in making Hogwarts vulnerable, for the first time in its history, to invasion by a gang of Death Eaters and Fenrir Greyback. But he was intrigued by the thought of researching something more substantial than hotels, restaurants and nightspots. Perhaps a project he could combine with travel? “What about the one on European wizarding schools – surely that needs revising?”

“Why don’t you just stick to the travel guides, Mr Malfoy?”

He needed a long fast broom-ride to fly off his fury. Somehow, in his post-war attempt to show himself non-threatening, he had come to be seen as trivial. Anything interesting that comes up, they won’t let me do it, he thought in frustration. And then he heard Potter’s words in his mind. “That’s always your excuse… poor helpless Malfoy.”

Well, he didn’t need a publisher’s approval to do research. His parents were out of the country for a month – he could go to the manor to use the library without risking a run-in with his father. He knew they had a copy of that book on wizarding schools in Europe because his parents had once debated transferring him to Durmstrang. How unimaginably different his life might have been there.

And so he returned to the Manor by Floo, greeted one of the house-elves who’d chosen to remain, and settled in to read what magical education in Europe had been like fifty years earlier, when An Appraisal of Magical Education in Europe had been published. He found himself looking for information on Finland – and not finding much.

“Finnish magical training is largely passed on at home or through apprenticeships,” he read, “rather than through centralised schooling. The Finnish system, in contrast to the wand-based Latin tradition of spell-casting, relies primarily on runes.”

Not wand-based? But what wizard could get by without a wand? How could runes replace wands?

Draco thought back to the classes he’d taken on Ancient Runes. He couldn’t remember anything particular about Finland in Ancient Runes Made Easy, or Advanced Rune Translation. There hadn’t been a class on Modern Runes – were there any modern runes? He searched the bookshelves and came up with Magical Hieroglyphs and Logograms, which fortunately was well-indexed.

“The existence of Finnish runestones is controversial,” he read.

“How could Finland base their wizarding education on runes if they didn’t have runestones?” he wondered aloud.

“Different kind of runes.” The voice was female, hoarse, and unknown to him.

Startled, Draco wheeled around, but saw no one. “Who said that?”

“Over here.” He heard her clear her throat, and then noticed her in a landscape facing a window, a portrait of a middle-aged witch, the style of her robes and graying dark hair those of a hundred years past. “Sorry. I haven’t used my voice for years. I am Lumina Malfoy and some relation of yours, by the looks of you.”

“I am Draco Malfoy. I’m sorry, I don’t remember hearing about you.”

“No, they prefer to ignore me. Draco, the constellation? Someone must have married into the Black family. If I’d been a Black and not just a black sheep I’d have been burned off that tapestry of theirs, I suppose. Which might be preferable to being penned up in Malfoy Manor. Normally I’m asleep on a wall in the most minor of bedrooms, but I awoke when I heard a house-elf singing.”

“House-elves sing?”

“Not well. At any rate, I knew from that that the family – the living ones - must be away, so I slipped down to the library for a change of scenery. Very frustrating not to be able to reach the books, though. Now, you needed to know something about Finnish runes?”

“Just curious, really.”

“Excellent. Well, rune means something different in Finland – they aren’t written symbols, they’re songs. Incantations, much longer and more detailed than our average spell.”

“And they can be done without wands?”

“As far as I know. Angharad always wanted to go to Finland and learn some, but we never managed.”

“Who is Angharad?”

Lumina’s dark eyes softened briefly, but then her chin came up. “The love of my life.” A moment later, she laughed. “And a ferocious Quidditch player. The Finns were famous weather-workers, it’s said they could hold the wind in a bag. Very convenient for sailors – or for wreaking havoc on a Quidditch pitch, she thought.”

Draco grinned. “Very Slytherin.”

“Yes, though like most of the Prewetts, she was a Gryffindor. As was I.”

“A Malfoy in Gryffindor? Really?”

“The hat gave me a choice, and I thought it would be an adventure. I told you I was a black sheep. What about you?”

He’d been a very pale sheep, really. Mired in very dark magic.

“I was in Slytherin.”

“Hard to avoid in this family.” Under her assessing gaze, Draco wondered if portraits could read thoughts. She went on briskly, “If you decide to go to Finland, bring me along. In fact, if you go anywhere outside of this house, bring me along. I did not mean to spend my portrait afterlife here. I’d only stopped by to see the one cousin I was fond of, and something must have happened to the portrait of Angharad and me together, because I’ve never been able to get back to it.” A shadow passed over her face.

Perhaps it was a measure of his social isolation these days that Draco considered her request. Not that he had anywhere to put her. Draco wasn’t even sure about the logistics of portrait transport. She had slipped into the landscape from a family portrait somewhere in the house, he supposed, but could she be smuggled out of the house in it?

“I don’t – How would that work? Do you have an individual portrait I could carry?”

“No, I’m only in a group portrait here, painted when I was young and couldn’t refuse. I avoid it – it’s tiresome to be called blood-traitor and reviled for being a Sapphist, and I get angry when they sneer at Angharad. Perhaps you could try taking me in this landscape, just a bit shrunken, and I could transfer somewhere else later, if you need to return it?”

There was no one now to stop him from helping someone to escape this place. “I suppose we could try....”

“I’ll risk it. Anywhere would be better than here.”

But when he arrived back at his flat and dusted off the Floo powder, the painted landscape was empty. He returned to the Manor with it. A few minutes later Lumina appeared there again, looking disheveled.

“I was jerked back into the group portrait here when you left. Apparently I can’t move that far from where I was painted. Well, thank you for trying. I’ll just look for a quiet corner to go back to sleep. Good luck in Finland – and if you wish to do more research on the runes, remember that Muggles have libraries too. You’d be surprised what you can find there.” She left before Draco could respond.

o0o

The Muggle libraries of London were foreign enough to be worthy of a guidebook in themselves, Draco thought, but no wizard had written one that he knew of. No doubt Granger would be perfectly at home in them, but Draco could hardly ask her. He decided that King’s Cross Station was as good a place as any to start a new adventure in education, so after going down for a good nostalgic look at the empty space between Platforms 9 and 10, he headed out to the street and before he could even ask for the nearest library, he saw it.

The British Library was overwhelming and intriguing. He managed to Charm and finesse his way past their demands for identification, and pleaded headaches as his reason for not having already researched by computer (and in truth, his magic was sensitive to electronic technology). The librarians didn’t seem to think there was anything odd about him wishing to read Finnish magical incantations, so he didn’t need to Obliviate them. (He had disguised his wand as a pencil, just in case.) However, they determined that he could get his materials at an academic library instead, and sent him a few streets away to University College London.

The staff there said disconcerting things, remarking that he could read a certain source “on a lap-top, if you wish”. An image sprang to mind – he was lying on a sofa reading a book with his head in someone’s lap, while that someone’s hand played with his hair. He caught the distracting hand in his own. A man’s hand with dark hair at the wrist, and ragged fingernails.

Draco blinked. Madame Pince would never have said anything to evoke such a vision. But she’d never been as helpful as these librarians, either. Eventually he was rewarded with a two-volume set of The Pre- and Proto-Historic Finns, Both Eastern and Western, With the Magic Songs of the West Finns.

A treasury of incantations: Against Injuries from Spells, Against Damage from Fires, Against Nightmare. When in Great Pain. For Hemorrhage. To Lay the Wind. Exorcisms. Falling Into Ecstasy. To Excite Love.

The words spilled over him, commanding and beautiful.

Fetch me a fiery sword, bring a sparkling blade, with which I'll sever the spell-wrought ills, with which I'll scatter injuries. I assign the torments to the winds, the pains to the wide abandoned fields…. Go gather up the pains into the hole in a bluish stone, or into water roll them down, tumble them into the ocean depths, where the wind is not perceived, where the sun doth never shine….

O frosty maiden, the icy girl, when needed, hither come, bring snow for sores made by Fire….

O Forest, take me as thy man, as thy full-grown man… Rain honey from the sky, from the clouds let virgin honey drip; rain honey on the branching top, then luscious juice upon the bark, into the heart let the honey flow….

O Love, arise to dance about, to vibrate like a fiery brand, arise without being conjured up, without being cursed bestir thyself, for moons have risen, suns have risen, yet still thou hast not risen up.

Travel guides be damned. He would pack potion ingredients to barter with; he would find a wizard to apprentice himself to; he was going to Finland.

o0o

Getting into the country, and even finding the wizarding section of Helsinki, was easy enough. In cafes and nightclubs Draco found wizards and witches to talk with. An Appraisal of Magical Education in Europe was out of date in at least one regard, he learned: younger Finnish witches and wizards now attended a highly regarded national school with a curriculum that integrated European wand-based magical training with native Finnish practices. He would need to go to the countryside, though, to find a tietäjä – a wise one skilled in ritual incantations – who might be willing to take on an unknown British wizard as an apprentice. Go east toward Karelia, someone suggested.

But first Draco thought he’d spend a little more time in Helsinki, enjoying city life, walking along the harbor, getting used to the culture and language. As it turned out, the Finnish language was logical but complex, and unrelated to any others he knew – not something he could just “pick up”, though he learned a few phrases. Most people he met switched to English as soon as they heard him, but often people addressed him in Finnish first - his colouring did not stand out here, and there were plenty of children, and some adults, with hair as pale as his.

Everyone insisted he couldn’t know Finland without going to the sauna. He had to pretend to find it relaxing to be sitting naked in a steaming hot room full of naked men. He was never sure where to look. At least the heat gave him an excuse for looking flushed.

Eventually he met a young witch named Tuuli who said that her parents, Antero and Mielikki, might be willing to teach him some things in return for his help. She no longer lived at home, but she’d be going there for a visit soon (everyone went to the countryside in the summer), and she could introduce him. He thanked her.

“I think they’d like the company,” Tuuli said. “And it’s important to my father that the old knowledge not be lost. I love to visit, but I can’t live there – I’m just not ready to settle down yet, and I’m used to a more modern life now. I can’t be away from a Wizardnet connection for that long!”

o0o

Antero and Mielikki lived in a small house by a wooded lakeshore in eastern Finland. They were quietly welcoming when Tuuli introduced Draco. Their English was slow but clear. Tuuli left them to talk while she went for a walk. Draco tried to explain his hopes for an apprenticeship.

“Not everyone has the ability to learn to handle this magic,” Antero said. “Or the toughness.”

“I was a competent wizard in Britain, and I have… persevered in difficult circumstances before.”

“You are already trained in British magic, then? What is your interest in Finnish magic?”

“All our training relies on the use of wands. Even potion-making requires the use of a wand. I can do a great many things with a wand, but without one.... I was caught up – my whole family was caught up – in a major battle once, when none of us had wands. I never want to feel that powerless again.”

“It is important to you to be powerful? More powerful than others?”

Why hadn’t Draco anticipated this interrogation? He tried to find the right words. “It is important to me not to be helpless. To be able to rely on myself for my own defense.”

Antero nodded. “So you looked for a tradition of wandless magic? And how did you choose Finland?”

“It was more… serendipity than research that led me to Finnish magic at first, but then I found a book of incantations, translated, and I was… entranced.”

Antero gave him a keen look. “There is magic that heals, and magic that harms. I do not use nor do I teach magic that harms, nor do I permit it to be used against the people I protect.”

Despair snagged him. Did they already know who he was?

“I have no desire to learn Dark magic.” I’ve seen – and done – enough of it already to sicken my heart to the end of my days.

Mielikki’s eyes were compassionate. She held his gaze for a long moment and said, “That is good, then. Loving the words is a good sign, I think, though it’s Antero who knows the incantations. I make salves. Of course, magic is just part of the work around here. Antero hunts. I weave these – would you call it a rug? We say ryijy.” She gestured to a tapestry on the wall. “And there’s cooking and cleaning and fishing and wood-cutting and looking in on our neighbour. You might learn as many non-magical skills as magical ones. It’s not a decision to take lightly for any of us, but morning is wiser than the evening, as the Russians say. Stay here tonight and we can talk more about it tomorrow.”

“I – thank you, I’d like that.” Draco looked to Antero for confirmation, and he nodded.

Draco had dinner with the family – the fresh-caught fish was delicious – and Tuuli showed him around the lake, since it was still light out. He spent the night in the small guest cottage, wondering what they would decide the next day. He should have known they would not be eager to share their secrets.

Next morning Tuuli came to get him for breakfast, and then Mielikki invited him to come and visit their neighbor, Aamu.

At Aamu’s cottage, a lively, long haired dog, red-gold as a fox, pranced up and greeted Mielikki with friendly yips, barks and funny grunts. “Good morning to you too, Tuisku!” said Mielikki. “This is Draco. Draco, this is Tuisku. Have you met a Finnish Spitz before? She often goes hunting with Antero. I’m sure she could be chosen Queen of the Barkers if Aamu or Antero ever enter her in the contest.”

By now a small old woman had appeared in the doorway. Her face lit up the moment she saw Draco, and startled a smile from him in return.

Mielikki introduced him in Finnish. Draco recognized “This is Draco.”

“Kauko,” Aamu nodded.

Mielikki shook her head. “Draco. Lohikäärme,” she translated.

Aamu beamed and nodded again. “Kauko Lohikäärme,” she said, clasping Draco’s hand in both of hers with a look of great satisfaction.

Mielikki laughed. “Well, you have a Finnish name now. It means – distant dragon? Dragon from far away? Perhaps you remind her of someone named Kauko that she knew in her youth. Or maybe she thinks you’re like the hero Lemminkäinen. Kauko is one of his other names in our epic poem, the Kalevala.”

“It’s fine,” Draco said, but by then Aamu was speaking in Finnish to Mielikki, who looked surprised and then thoughtful. Finally Mielikki turned to smile at Draco.

“She says you are very welcome here. Sit and have a cup of coffee and some pulla.”

Aamu brought out the coffee and cardamom-flavored sweet bread.

“Thank you, it smells delicious. You have a beautiful dog,” Draco said.

Aamu responded in an approving tone. Mielikki didn’t translate for either of them, and Draco didn’t think it mattered. He relaxed into the warmth.

After they returned, Mielikki and Antero talked in Finnish for quite a while. Draco caught his name, and Aamu’s, and her name for him, Kauko Lohikäärme. Finally Mielikki turned to him and smiled. “Aamu dreamed about you before you came. She thinks it will be good for you to study here.”

“She is very kind.”

“Oh, she doesn’t like everyone. Antti, do you remember that fellow from Sweden that Tuuli brought home last year? Aamu didn’t like him at all.”

“The one who wanted to buy the winds in a bag?” Antero snorted. “Tourists. As if just anyone could be trusted with the weather.”

“But she liked you, Kauko. I mean, Draco. And she is a näkijä, a seer. We trust her visions. If you like, you can stay in the guest cottage, and share our meals and sauna whenever you wish. I would be glad to talk with you about my salves and your potions.”

“Still, you should think about it,” Antero said. “As Mielikki said, we trust Aamu. But there is a lot of work here, not all of it magic, and you’d have to be willing to learn to do whatever needs doing – I can’t stop everything else to give you classes like a school does. Learning the incantations will be slow. And people who love country life in summer don’t always like it in winter. But we can try if you’re willing.”

“Yes,” Draco said. “Yes. Thank you. Yes.”

o0o

Draco was surprised at how many of the tasks were done without magic. Cutting firewood, for example, was done with an axe, and because of the wood-burning sauna, there was a need for it all year long. Antero was surprised that anyone needed to be taught how to chop wood. When Draco proposed using his wand, Antero frowned. “You said you wanted to learn not to depend on your wand.”

Mielikki was more sympathetic. “Chopping wood is good for working off angry energy, the same as kneading this bread,” she said from the kitchen, slamming some rye dough down, doubling it over and pushing it. “Just pay attention so you don’t injure yourself.”

“And you’ll build some muscle in your arms,” said Antero. “Magic can tire you, and we save it for where it’s needed. A strong body will support a strong mind.”

There was, in fact, satisfaction to be gained from splitting a chunk of wood. Once he learned how, Draco chopped wood for Aamu, also. At first his arms were sore from the chopping, and from learning to row the old rowing boat. But the sauna was good for steaming out the soreness, and gradually he got stronger. He also got used to being called Kauko, since everyone seemed to find it easier to say.

When he chopped wood, or rowed out to check the fishing nets in the lake, or helped Mielikki look for herbs and berries, Draco sometimes still heard in his mind his father’s cold voice: “Menial. A Malfoy doesn’t….” But now Draco could respond, “A Lohikäärme does.”

He went with Antero when someone called on him for magic, usually for healing incantations. He saw how Antero prepared himself first with protective spells, in case he needed to enter a trance to seek the origin of the illness or to fight off a curse. The first time Draco saw the trance it alarmed him; there was nothing peaceful about it. Antero was jumping, shaking, shouting, rolling his eyes, fierce and spiky with energy.

An inexperienced tietäjä could go too far in the trance and slip into unconsciousness, like the Sami shamans did on their spirit journeys. But the Sami made sure to have an assistant who could bring the shaman back from his trip to the otherworld; a tietäjä usually worked alone. Some part of Draco feared that Antero would fall unconscious, and Draco would fail to bring him back. Some part of him feared going into the trance himself. But he had come this far to learn, he wouldn’t give up yet.

Draco studied the gestures that went with the chants. He had copied all the translations of incantations he could find before he left England, and tried to match them up and follow along with Antero’s Finnish chant, though sometimes Antero’s version was different. At first he had hoped he could learn them in Finnish, but there were so many and they were long.

“Learn what you can from the cases that come up, and also choose the ones you most want to know,” Antero said after dinner one night as Draco paged through his notes. “I can show you the gestures and you can practice them.”

“Will it work for me to use them in translation?”

“We will have to find out. And you should be able to learn a few in Finnish at least. Which are most important to you?”

He didn’t need to think long. “Protection from evil. Stopping bleeding. Healing injuries from fire. Banishing nightmares. Ending pain.”

“No love charms?” Mielikki called from the kitchen.

There had been a great demand for those around the Midsummer Festival. Hey! Love, wake up! O Love, arise…. Now is the time for Love to move, time for Renown to blossom forth….

“My natural charm will have to be enough,” Draco called back. He’d seen a disaster or two with Amortentia back at Hogwarts.

The summer days were long and lovely, and the nights so short that it seemed never to get dark. It was hard to remember to go to sleep, sometimes, and he swam naked in the lake in the soft late twilight. But gradually the season turned to autumn. Draco gathered mushrooms in the woods with Mielikki. The birch leaves turned yellow and fell, but the spruce and pine kept the forest green. Antero hunted moose as well as the big game birds that Tuisku was so expert at finding.

At night Mielikki worked on a ryijy tapestry rug for a couple who would be getting married and Draco studied the incantations, helped mend fishing nets or tried his hand at wood-carving. He wanted to make a little Tuisku for Aamu, but it would take a seer to recognize it from his clumsy efforts, he thought.

Autumn turned to winter and the lake froze. No more lake dips after the sauna, but there was snow for cooling off. He learned ice-fishing, and when the snow fell deep enough, skiing – strapping on the long thin skis to kick and glide across the countryside, angling to step carefully up a slight hill or manage his speed going down. Tuisku romped through the forest with him, a flash of red-gold on the white snow. When she shook herself, she made the little snow-flurries that she was named for.

Little by little, Draco began to use the incantations. Antero let him try minor cases - a small cut here, a headache there. He sang or chanted in Finnish if he knew it well enough, or in English if he had time to experiment enough to get it to work. Just as his muscles got stronger, and his hair grew longer, so little by little his confidence grew.

Spring came, the days were longer, the snow and ice began to melt and the trees put forth leaves again. Flowers came out, crocus and the coltsfoot Mielikki used in her salves.

And then it was Midsummer again, with requests for love charms. May he look with a honeyed glance, may he smile with eyes of love.

There were always things to do, but there was always time to relax a little, too. Draco lay on his back, looking up through the leaves of a birch tree at the blue sky. The sun shone through the leaves from behind, so they glowed a clear warm translucent green, like eyes, if the world held so many eyes that beautiful.

Tuuli was expected to visit soon. She often came and went, always cheerful, never staying long, usually bringing a guest to visit. Antero grumbled that she was flighty, but Mielikki said they had named her for the wind, after all. Tuuli’s latest project was something to do with bee-keeping.

Sure enough, when he went over for a sauna that evening, Tuuli sat outside talking with Mielikki. “Papa’s in the sauna with our guest,” she told him.

In the sauna house Draco stripped off his clothes in the outer room. Just before he stepped into the steam room, Antero poured some water on the hot stone, so clouds of steam rose up and Draco’s first impression of the guest was little more than black hair and knobbly knees. As the steam cleared, Antero said, “Ah, Harri, please meet my assistant, Kauko Lohikäärme.” And there, naked, smiling and with hand outstretched, was Harry Potter.

Speechless, Draco shook his hand by reflex. Potter’s warm, open smile didn’t change. He isn’t wearing his glasses, Draco realised, is it possible he actually doesn’t recognise me?

“Kauko, this is a friend of Tuuli’s, Harri –”

Well, it couldn’t last. “Yes. He knew me by a different name. Hello, Potter.”

Now Potter’s mouth fell open. “Malfoy?”

“Yes. Lohikäärme means Draco in Finnish.” He hoped Potter realised that the sauna was a sacred space and it would be incredibly gauche to start an argument there.

Whatever Antero noticed, he didn’t comment, just handed Draco a vasta, a little bundle of supple leafy birch twigs. Draco shut his eyes. The sauna was for relaxing, and whatever brought Potter here would have to wait. He slapped his back gently with the vasta, releasing the fresh birch fragrance and making his skin tingle. When he opened his eyes again Potter was staring at him. Draco flushed.

“Go and jump in the lake, Potter,” Draco said sweetly. “Unless you’re scared?” He turned to Antero without waiting for a reply. “I’m going to cool off, Antti.” He shut the door behind him to keep the heat in, ran down to the shore and into the water, and dove. The cool water was a sweet shock. A few moments later there came Potter, running and diving.

“What on earth are you doing here, Potter?” Draco said sharply as soon as Potter’s shaggy dark head cleared the surface.

“I could ask you the same.”

“You heard Antero, I’m his assistant. How do you know Tuuli?”

“Bee-keeper’s conference.”

“Since when do you keep bees?”

“Someone pointed out to me that my treacle tarts might be contaminated by Glumbumbles. This person had the impression I wasn’t happy, because I made unkind remarks.”

Draco ducked back under water.

“Which was a bit rich, coming from you, Malfoy,” Potter continued when Draco surfaced. “Still, it made me think. I got interested in honey. Turns out honeybees are in trouble – pesticide poisoning, mites, hive collapse. Which means we’re all in trouble, because they pollinate an awful lot of crops.”

“So you’re going to rescue the bees? That’s a very… subtle way to save the world, Potter.”

Potter actually cracked a smile for a moment before his face shifted. “There’s nothing subtle about hunger.”

He said it like he knew what he was talking about. Famous as he was, there was a lot about Potter that was still a mystery.

They swam in silence, and then went back into the sauna.

Antero asked Draco if he would mind having Potter stay in his cottage, and there wasn’t much Draco could say, since it was the guest cottage after all, and there was a small second bedroom. Potter didn’t object either, but once they were alone there he turned to Draco, frowning.

“What are you really doing here, Malfoy?”

“What am I really doing? Learning Finnish healing incantations. Fishing. Chopping wood.”

“You can’t tell me Malfoys chop wood. Seriously, what’s all this for?”

“I challenge you to a wood-cutting contest any day." Taking a few vicious whacks at a stubborn log would feel good at the moment, Draco thought bitterly. "If you didn’t believe I could change my life, Potter, why did you save it?”

Potter frowned again. “I couldn’t just leave someone to burn to death in there.”

“Not even me, eh? I guess I’m lucky you’re so noble.”

“What do you expect me to say, Malfoy? That we were best mates? That we were allies?”

“That I lied to my homicidal aunt to save your skin?”

“Yeah. Alright, you did, and I’m grateful. But then you followed me to the Room of Requirement so you could hand me over to Voldemort, so you must have had a change of heart.”

Draco threw his hands up in frustration. “I wasn’t trying to turn you in.”

“No? You could have fooled me. So how do you explain it?”

“I didn’t want to go out there to Voldemort. I didn’t want to fight for him, I hated him. But I couldn’t fight against him, he had my parents, and they were defenceless without wands. I didn’t know what to do, I just wanted to go to the Room of Hidden Things, and… hide. And then you had to turn up there.”

“Why did you bring Crabbe and Goyle, then?”

“I didn’t mean to bring them, but they wouldn’t leave. Goyle stuck to me because he trusted me. Crabbe followed me because he didn’t. I had to think of something to tell them. I did try to stop Crabbe from killing you.”

Potter took a minute to think about this. “Yeah. Maybe. So what was your plan then, Malfoy?”

“What plan? By then I was just trying to stay alive. Tired of seeing people die. I had to wing it, Potter. Not that a hero like you would know anything about that.”

After a moment Potter gave a little huff of laughter. “Who, me? Act without a plan? Never.”

They regarded each other in silence. Finally Draco shrugged and said, “Make yourself at home, Potter. It’s late and I’m going to bed.”

“It isn’t even dark outside.”

“It’s midsummer in Finland. If you want darkness, you’ll be waiting a long time.”

Draco turned and went into his bedroom, pulling the door behind him. Just as it was about to close he heard, “Goodnight, then.”

He paused, holding the door ajar, and after a moment replied, “Goodnight.” He shut the door but stood listening to the small sounds of Potter moving about. Finally Draco shook himself and went to bed, but it was a long time before sleep came.

o0o

At breakfast, Tuuli’s customary high spirits covered the awkwardness with Potter. “Harri wanted to try cloudberry honey, so I told him to come back here with me and we could pick fresh cloudberries too.”

“He’s welcome to, but they aren’t ripe yet,” Mielikki said. “Not for another week or so.”

“Well, then we should go somewhere fun in the meantime. What’s been your favourite place to go, Kauko?”

Draco looked at her. He went to the neighbouring farms to help heal people. He went on long walks in the woods. He rowed in the lake. But he didn’t think that’s what Tuuli meant.

“You haven’t taken him anywhere, have you?” she accused her parents.

“We go all around the area in our work,” her father said. “There is the lake here, and the woods. And you know all your friends in the city love to spend the summer in the country. He’s already here.”

“And he’s been here all year. You’re such a stick-in-the-mud, Papa! Let’s think. British people love the seaside, right? Don’t you all go to the seaside for holidays?” She looked expectantly at Draco and Potter.

Draco had wanted to go to the seaside, when he was very young. His father hadn’t seen any advantage to be gained by it, but Draco pleaded, so they had gone.

Once.

His mother preferred that he not get wet and sandy. Draco had taken off his shoes and stood at the edge of the water, holding his robes up so they didn’t get damp, and squealed in pleasure as the cold waves splashed over his ankles and sucked the sand out from under his bare feet. His mother called him back. Draco had tried building a sand castle with a little bucket and spade. It was crumbly and a bit lop-sided. His father watched in irritation for a while, then flicked his wand. A perfect sand replica of Malfoy Manor sprang up. “Like that,” his father said. “Are you ready to leave?”

So Draco had stopped asking to go to the seaside, and when Greg talked happily about donkey rides on the beach and Knobbly-Knees contests, he just sneered. You would never get what you wanted if you let yourself want what you couldn’t have.

Potter was muttering something under his breath about holidays, figs, cabbage and cats.

“I know!” said Tuuli. “Let’s go to Lappeenranta!”

“Lake Saimaa is not the sea,” said Antero. “Why would you go to a town in the summer? And it will be full of tourists, Russians and everyone else.”

“Let Kauko be a tourist for a change! And the lake is not the sea, no, but it has seals living there, and there is Hiekkalinna! It’s an enormous sandcastle – really, a park of sand sculptures - made new every summer,” she told them. “There are always wizards among the artists, and there is a lot of sand for everyone to add their own creations. Some years there are sculptures of the wizards and heroes from the Kalevala. It would be fun!”

Mielikki laughed. “And is there a sand statue of Mielikki, Mistress of the Forests, for whom I am named?”

“If there isn’t, you could make one!”

“I am not so bold as that. But if these young men wish to go, I will go with you. Antti can stay home if he likes.”

Tuuli was delighted and suggested that they all fly down on brooms. “I haven’t been on a broom in years!” Mielikki protested.

“Oh, Mamma, I remember you flying, you were like the pretty Easter witches on the old postcards!”

The conversation moved into Finnish with much laughing between mother and daughter. Draco grinned and picked up some plates to carry to the kitchen. Mielikki shooed him away, still talking with her daughter. “I’m going over to Aamu’s,” Draco called as he stepped outside.

Potter followed him out. “What’s an Easter witch?”

“Children dress up as witches at Easter and go about blessing their neighbours with decorated pussy-willow branches, and we put sweets in their little kettles or baskets. It’s rather charming.”

Potter was looking at him oddly. “These are Muggle kids?”

“Yes, well, it’s different here…. The people who come to Antero for incantations, or to Mielikki for salves, are mostly what we’d call Muggles. They weren’t born with enough inner power to do serious magic, or they haven’t had the discipline and training to develop it. But a lot of them know a formula or two themselves, just something simple. And Aamu is a seer, but she doesn’t do incantations as far as I know. The lines just aren’t as clear.”

“That’s Aamu who you’re going to visit now?”

“Yes, I have an appointment with her wood-pile. If you want proof that I can swing an axe, you can come along.”

They started walking. “So are you going on this trip to see sandcastles?” Potter asked.

“I’d love to go on a trip with Mielikki. I’ve never even seen her fly. You ought to go too, Potter. If there’s a Knobbly-Knees contest, you’re a dead cert to win.”

“What do you know about my knees?”

“I took a sauna with you.”

“And you were looking at my knees?”

“Well, I know what your face looks like, and it would be rude to stare at someone’s bits in the sauna.”

“As if you’ve ever worried about being rude to me.”

“I don’t want to be rude in Antero’s sauna.”

“Which is why you invited me to go and jump in the lake?” Potter was grinning.

Fortunately, Tuisku was bounding out to meet them by now, calling a greeting. “Ar ar ar, errooo erooeraow ar errooon.”

“Arooo arooo to you too, girl.” Draco ruffled the thick flame-coloured hair on her head.

“Ar ar errerrerr raowoon?”

“That’s Potter. He’s probably alright.”

“He means ‘a bit of alright.’ Hello girl, what’s your name?”

“This is Tuisku. She’s a little stand-offish at first.” Draco looked up and waved to Aamu, who had appeared at her door, looking delighted as always to see him. “Good morning, Aamu!”

She beckoned them inside. He introduced Potter. “This is Harri Potter. He is a friend of Tuuli’s. He wants to learn about cloudberries and honey. Hilla, hunaja. And bees.” Draco didn’t know the Finnish word for bees. Potter smiled and said hello in badly accented Finnish.

Aamu clasped Potter’s hand and gazed up at him with a faraway look. Then she nodded decisively, reached out for Draco’s hand, set it on top of Potter’s, and clasped their hands together between her own. She shook them up and down once, as if sealing an agreement, and smiled at them with satisfaction. Potter raised his eyebrows at Draco, but Draco had no explanation.

On these visits he spoke mostly English, Aamu spoke Finnish, Tuisku spoke Finnish Spitz and they usually seemed to more or less understand each other. But now he couldn’t follow what Aamu was saying - he thought he heard the words for honey, and mother, and Lemminkäinen, one of the heroes of the Kalevala epic. He frowned, trying to make sense of it, then let it go.

“Let me cut the wood, it will give me an appetite and give you time to make some coffee,” Draco said. Aamu nodded and turned to Potter once again, patting a chair for him to sit down.

It was a warm day, so Draco worked up a bit of a sweat while chopping, and his shirt clung to him. He raised his arm to wipe his brow and push his hair back, and then glanced up to see Potter watching him from the side of the house. Their gazes held for a moment. Draco set down the axe.

“Coffee’s ready,” Potter said.

After coffee and pulla with Aamu, they walked back toward Antero and Mielikki’s house. Something occurred to Draco. “How did Mrs Weasley let you get away?”

“Hmm?”

“Mrs Weasley was quite fiercely opposed to you running off to Finland, as I recall.”

“Oh, she was just upset because so many of her children were out of the country at once. She’s relaxed a bit now that Ron and Bill are back. She doesn’t have anything against Finland in particular.”

“That’s right – she said something about Ron going to a wizarding university in Ghana.” Draco couldn’t help sounding sceptical. It didn’t surprise him that Weasley would have to go that far to find a university that would accept him, but rather that he wanted to attend university at all. Not the studious type, that one.

Potter laughed. “Oh, that was Hermione’s story – she thought Molly would worry less than if she knew what they were actually doing there.”

“Which was?”

Potter turned sober. “Hermione heard about women in Ghana being accused of witchcraft, dragged from their homes and kept in isolated witch camps. She’s trying to do something about it.”

Witch camps. Draco shuddered. “Are these women really witches, or not?”

“Some of them, maybe. It’s horrible either way.”

“Why couldn’t the witches just leave?”

“Maybe there are more powerful witches or wizards keeping them there? She had a difficult time doing research, so there’s still a lot she doesn’t know. Now she’s trying to build international support for local organizations working on the issue there.”

Draco shook his head. It must have been quite risky. “Did she even know anything about wizarding – Muggle relations and protocol in that part of the world, before she went?”

“This is Hermione we’re talking about. What she doesn’t know, she intends to find out.”

“And what was Weasley’s interest in all this?”

“Ron? His interest is in Hermione.” Potter’s voice was quieter now. “She’d never admit to needing protection, but he just wanted to do what he could to keep her safe.”

And all Draco’s dismissive thoughts about Ron Weasley were swept away by a memory of Granger screaming, screaming in the drawing room of Malfoy Manor, and Weasley struggling to get to her, bellowing her name, and what had Draco been doing? Standing by. Holding his schoolmates at wand-point while his aunt tortured one of them. Best not to sneer at Ron Weasley.

He opened his mouth and eventually managed to say, “Yes. I’m sure he did a good job.”

Potter gave him a speculative look, and Draco was relieved to find they were back at the house.

o0o

Mielikki and Tuuli had decided that they could leave for Lappeenranta the next day, not flying any faster or longer than was comfortable for Mielikki. If they needed to camp out, Finnish law said that roaming the woods and waterways and camping for short periods were part of “Everyman’s Rights”, so it shouldn’t be a problem, and Potter turned out to have brought a small wizarding tent with him.

Draco was surprised to realise how long it had been since he’d flown. It was a pleasure to be up in the sky again, to look down on the green forests and blue lakes, to see Tuuli and Mielikki laughing together, and, he had to admit, to watch Potter on a broom. Now that they weren’t competing for a Snitch, he could relax and just admire the other man’s grace in the air. Potter could even fly backwards and make it look easy.

Since they weren’t in a hurry, they decided to break their journey on a small island, and set up camp. They’d packed some shrunken food for the trip. Once they had unloaded the things they had brought, their brooms were lighter, and after dinner Tuuli and Potter went up in the air again just for fun.

Draco wondered if Potter and Tuuli were more than friends. He thought not - he didn’t sense any particular spark between them, and after all Tuuli had brought Draco himself home to her parents, and there hadn’t been any question of romance between them.

Potter hadn’t mentioned anything about Ginny Weasley being back in Britain. Perhaps she was still in America playing Quodpot. Tossing explosive Quaffles around sounded like a suitable game for someone with her fiery temperament, and something that growing up in a household with those maniac twin brothers of hers would have prepared her for.

Just one twin brother now, he supposed. Were you still a twin when there was only one of you?

Draco wondered how Greg was doing. He had seemed so bewildered to be Goyle without Crabbe.

Tuuli pulled up and hovered in front of him. “You’re on holiday, Kauko, why do you look so melancholy? Come on up and fly with us.”

“Come on, Malfoy, I’ll race you to that high fir tree and back,” Potter called.

“Why do you call him Malfoy? Why don’t you call each other Kauko and Harri?” Tuuli asked.

The two men looked at each other. Potter shrugged from above. “Come on then, Kauko.”

Draco got back on his broom. “Alright, Harri.” He pushed off hard toward the fir tree and felt his heart lighten. “Last one back is a Crumple-Horned Snorkack!”

o0o

The next day they arrived in Lappeenranta, and found Hiekkalinna, the sand sculpture park. They strolled around and looked at the statues of heroes and mythic figures from the Finnish epic, the Kalevala: the wise old Väinämöinen, the smith Seppo Ilmarinen who made the magic sampo, and the formidable shape-shifter Louhi, Mistress of the North.

Harry Potter stopped in front of one. “Who is this?” His voice was subdued but something in it caught Draco’s attention. In the sculpture, a young man lay stretched out on his back, his eyes covered with a cloth. Next to him knelt a woman with one hand spread on his chest, her head tipped back and her eyes scanning the sky. Her face was lined and hollow with grief, grim with determination.

“Ah,” said Mielikki, her face compassionate. “That is Lemminkäinen’s mother.”

“Aamu was saying something about Lemminkäinen before we left,” Draco remembered, “but I couldn’t understand.”

“Tell us the story,” Potter said. His eyes hadn’t left the sculpture.

“Lemminkäinen was a handsome lively young wizard, talented but arrogant, fond of risks and fighting. He passed many perils with his quick wits and magical skills, but got himself killed. His mother went to look for him, sought him everywhere. Ah, she was a tough one – she threatened to kill old Louhi herself, she threatened to tear the sky from its hinges, if she wasn’t told where to find him. She raked his body up in pieces from the river of death, and fitted him together, but there was no life in him. She sent a bee to bring back honey as ointment to revive him. Here she is waiting for the bee to return.”

Potter, still staring at the sculpture, was trembling slightly. Unthinking, Draco put a hand on his shoulder.

“What happened then?” Potter asked.

“The bee came once, with honey from the forest, but her son was not healed. The bee went again, flew for three days across nine lakes and brought back the honey ointment, but still her son was not healed. This time she sent the bee to the ninth heaven, past the moon and sunlight, past the stars, to gather honey from the home of the sky-god in the regions of the blessed. The bee was doubtful, but she encouraged it. And the bee brought back honey from heaven, and she anointed her son, and brought his life back to him.”

“Where would we be without our mothers’ love?” Tuuli said cheerfully.

Potter turned and he and Draco looked at each other. It was a shock to see those eyes so close, so unguarded and grief-stricken. Finally Potter looked down at his feet. “How is your mother?” he asked quietly.

Draco didn’t really know. His Finnish foster family was so much easier than the family of his birth. To live as an adult he had needed to leave his parents’ shadows. But would he have lived to adulthood without his mother’s fierce protection?

She had saved Potter, too, when she lied to the Dark Lord. People said she did it out of self-interest, but Draco thought she had been sick of the deaths of teenagers. To her, Draco’s absence and long silence might seem punishment for choices she had made long ago. Was he denying that she could change as he was changing?

He still hadn’t answered Potter’s question. “I… I will write to her tonight.”

Tuuli, who had wandered off to look at other things, returned and suggested they get something to eat and then make their own sculptures, so they found a place for lunch and then went to the sand pit. That afternoon they learned some basics about how to wet and pack and carve the sand, and they all tried making a sandcastle together. Draco would have liked to make a replica of Hogwarts, and he suspected Potter would too, but it was too intricate for their beginner skills, and the other two didn’t know what it looked like. So they just invented one. He thought their castle was rather impressive, with its towers and sculpted waves swirling about its base.

That night they returned to a camp on a little island in the lake. While Tuuli and Mielikki were chatting, Potter drew Draco aside. “I’ve been away from home longer than I expected,” he said quietly. “Do you have any Dreamless Sleep potion? I’ve run out.”

Draco shook his head. “Do you have trouble sleeping because it doesn’t get dark? You can try wearing a blindfold.”

“No, it’s not that. Just bad dreams sometimes. Never mind, I don’t always get them.”

“I know an incantation for that.” Draco had often suffered from nightmares since the war, even after moving to Finland. Antero had noticed when Draco hadn’t slept well, and asked the reason. He’d done an exorcism of the nightmare, and Draco hadn’t been troubled since. Draco had made a point of learning the incantation, and had used it several times for neighbours.

“I’ll probably be fine," Potter said. I can always cast a Muffliato just in case, so don’t worry.”

“I’m not worried about me losing sleep. Really, I know how to do this, Potter. Well, at least I know how to do it for garden-variety nightmares. You might need Antero for the extra-strength Dark Lord kind. He got rid of them for me.”

After a brief silence, Potter said, “You can try.”

“Alright. I – I need to get ready. It would be better to have some privacy. I’m going to walk into the woods a little ways. I’ll come back and get you.” To exorcise a nightmare, Draco knew he should protect himself. Normally a tietäjä would do that in advance, maybe fasting in preparation, and wearing certain clothes, in addition to saying his defensive spells. The kind of nightmares that might await Harry Potter would not be easy to confront. Maybe he should tell Potter to wait for Antero after all?

Draco saw again the grieving eyes of the mother carved in sand, and the grieving green eyes of the living son. Antero wasn’t here now, and Potter had said Draco could try. He walked into the woods and focused his mind.

There were so many different protective spells. Draco chose one that sounded confident:

I am not at all alarmed, I am not in the least afraid. I clip the wool from off a stone, fluff from a stone that has lain a winter there, I break the hair from off a rock, and from the gravel pluck coarse hair. A shirt of defence I make of that, ’neath which I sojourn every night and occupy myself by day, lest the sorcerer eat too much, lest the witch should wound o’ermuch.

Fortified, he went back and called Potter to follow him into the wood. He remembered that Potter had never done this before. “This is an exorcism. You should know that I’ll be talking to the nightmare, not to you.” Potter followed him to a little clearing where they stopped.

Draco turned to face him. “Are you ready?” Potter nodded.

Draco reached out to lightly touch Potter’s forehead, a place where nightmare lurked. Potter looked at him steadily. Under his fringe of black hair Draco felt a raised line on his skin, a jagged slash... How could he have forgotten Harry’s scar? Even with the Dark Lord dead and gone all these years, the scars remained. And then Draco was angry. Angry at the long reach of evil, that stretched from beyond the grave to cast its shadow over their youth. He began the incantation to send it far away:

Thee I conjure away into moaning hills, into sighing firs, to the top of a copper hill, to a copper mountain peak, where the clouds surround the hill, a steam rolls over the stones, into an iron mountain rift, into the space between two rocks.

Wrath powered the words of command:

Tormentor, shriek, O Nightmare, howl, in the deep valleys of the hills, in the fine mountain cleft, whence all thy life thou won't escape, wilt never extricate thyself.

His words rang in the air. When his eyes focused again, he noticed that he was shaking. Harry was staring at him, wide-eyed.

Draco was exhausted, suddenly. He swayed on his feet, gazing blankly.

Harry had to beckon him back toward the tent. Draco made his way there and went right to bed, falling asleep as soon as his head touched the pillow.

o0o

The next morning Tuuli was chipper as ever. “Did everyone sleep well?”

“Yes,” Harry said, and looked over at Draco. He smiled a little. “Thanks.”

That day they went back to Hiekkalinna to exercise their new sand-working skills on individual sculptures. Draco, naturally, made a dragon. It was very satisfying. Harry made a stag, for his father, he said. Tuuli made a moose, and Mielikki made a woolly mammoth, “because I can see a moose any day.” Hers was the most impressive, Tuuli’s made him laugh, and Harry’s moved him in a way Draco couldn’t account for.

The following day they began the trip back. Tuuli wanted to look for ringed seals, so they flew slowly over the labyrinth of lake and islands called Lake Saimaa. They saw some seals lolling about, and other seal-watchers paddling kayaks and canoes.

Finally they made their way back home. Tuisku greeted them with a happy yodel and Antero jogged up soon after. “I told her to watch for you,” he said. “So was this trip worth it?”

“It was lovely,” Mielikki said. “But I missed you. Come with us next time! And now I need a sauna before I can bear to look at a broom again!”

“Next time?” said Antero. “Well. Maybe. I’ll heat the sauna for you.”

o0o

The next morning Harry thanked everyone and said that he needed to return to England to take care of his bees. “Oh, but the cloudberries!” Tuuli said. “I know a spot where they usually ripen early. Let me fly over and check on them.” Every family had their traditional picking area or secret spot, which it was good manners to respect.

She came back soon. “There are some ripe ones now. Come, Harri, you must pick some fresh cloudberries before you go.”

He smiled. “Well, for cloudberries I can stay another day. I don’t know when I’ll get another chance.”

“You might want to Transfigure your shoes into wellies,” Draco told him. “The berries only grow in marshy places. It’s a good thing Antero knows an incantation against mosquitoes.”

Draco and Antero rowed them all across the lake to the place where the berries grew. They were hard to see, little golden berries hidden under leaves, just one on each low-growing plant, and so tempting to eat right away, sweet-tart.

“They’re delicate,” Mielikki said. “Put them carefully in the bucket so they don’t lose their puffy little cloud shape. Otherwise we’ll just have juice and seeds.”

They squatted and picked. Draco overbalanced reaching for a berry and fell down with a splash. Harry laughed and Draco threw a berry at him.

“Boys! Don’t waste the berries!” Mielikki said. “I want to take some to Aamu, and we need some to eat with the leipäjuusto.”

“The what?” Harry asked.

“Cheese,” Draco told him. “It squeaks.”

When their legs and backs were tired from squatting and stooping, and Antero’s incantations were failing against the mosquitoes, they headed back with a little treasure trove of berries.

After dinner and a sauna Draco and Harry swam in the lake in the late twilight and then sat on the dock and talked.

“So you’re going back to England to save the bees?”

“I’m living in Scotland, actually. And yeah, I’m still new at this and I don’t want to leave my hives for too long. I wish I did know how to save the bees. But now it’s really more the bees saving me.”

“Using that honey ointment that brings people back from the dead, are you?”

“Something like that. No, the sound of them humming at their work is calming, and the hives smell good, and they’re just brilliant little creatures.”

“What is so fascinating about bees?

“Well, for example, they can tell each other the location of flowers by dancing.”

“A minuet?” Draco deadpanned. “A waltz?”

“Nah, it’s more like they shake their booties.”

“You cannot convince me that bees wear booties, Potter.”

Harry shook his head, laughing. “Sorry, Americanism. They waggle their little bee-bums.”

That night in his dreams, Draco was in a bar, watching Harry dance in nothing but a pair of skimpy briefs striped yellow and black. “Come on, Draco, shake your booty!” Harry called over his shoulder.

“Are you trying to flirt with me, Potter?”

“Am I succeeding?” Harry waggled his eyebrows in a leer as goofy as it was sexy.

Dream-Draco, the bold one, grinned. “Where the bee sucks, there suck I.”

Now it was Harry grinning.

“It’s Shakespeare!” Draco said.

“Mmm-hmm.” Potter pulled him in close and crooned in his ear.

Honey honey, how you thrill me, ah-hah, honey honey
Honey honey, nearly kill me, ah-hah, honey honey
I heard about you before
I wanted to know some more
And now I know what they mean, you're a love machine

Draco woke up too soon, too hard, too alone in his bed.

o0o

In the morning, Harry left for Helsinki. He did not croon in Draco’s ear nor did he shake his bee-booty, but at least he said goodbye. “It was good to get to know you, Kauko Loko....”

“That’s Lohikäärme to you, Harri Potter. Best wishes with the bees.”

“Thanks. When are you… Are you planning to come back to England, Draco?”

“I don’t know,” Draco said honestly.

And then Mielikki was talking to Harry, pressing a snack for the journey into his hands, and Antero was saying goodbye, and Tuuli was ready to go, and all Draco could do was wave.

o0o

Summer stayed beautiful, but Draco was distracted. He thought about writing to Harry, but what would he say? He remembered that he had meant to write to his mother. It took him a long time, but he finally managed a simple note to tell her that he was well and he hoped that she was also. He did not mention his father. And then he wrote a note to Greg, saying about the same.

Draco found himself paying more attention to bees. As the weather turned to autumn and dark came sooner, he read through the incantations again. There were mentions of honey everywhere. He asked Antero about incantations for bees.

“Ask Mielikki. Incantations about bees are mostly used for making and applying salves, so she knows best about those.”

Mielikki was happy to help him learn the chants. Where before they had mostly compared ingredients for salves and potions, now he spent more time with her learning the making of the salves, and meeting her patients with her. Many of the salves were made from honey, so the bees were praised and their help sought.

Thou bird of the air, the bee, fly away to another place, across nine seas, nine seas and a half…. There is an islet in the sea, on the islet a honey-lake, delightful honey is therein, a goodly salve is there that is suitable for veins, is serviceable for the joints.

Rise from the earth, thou bee, from the knoll, thou honey-wing, fly away with fluttering wing above the moon, below the sun, along the shoulders of Charles's Wain, ’long the back of the Seven stars, fly to the Maker's porch, to the chamber of the Omnipotent. There they make salves, and ointments they prepare in silver pots, in kettles of gold.

O bee, the pleasant bird, thou bustling 'blue-wing'. Fly with whizzing wings.

o0o

Now there was something he could write to Harry about. The letter sounded a bit stilted, but it couldn’t be helped.

Dear Harry,
I hope that you and your bees are well. We are fine here. I have been studying the making of honey salves with Mielikki. It is sticky but soothing work.
Best wishes,
Draco/Kauko

Dear Draco,
I am glad to hear you are well.
I am fine, thank you, and the bees are settling in for the winter. I hope that they survive it in good health, though there are no guarantees.
Honey salves sound like a useful thing to know how to make. Not from cloudberry honey, though, it’s too good for anything but eating!
I told my godson about the squeaky cheese. He is extremely curious about it (as about everything else).
Best wishes,
Harry

Dear Harry,
I am glad you are well. No nightmares?
I have been researching incantations involving bees. They are quite charming, but all involve the bees bringing healthful salves to humans, not humans bringing health to bees. However, perhaps something could be improvised.
Squeaky cheese is a curious thing. Does your godson live with you?
Best wishes,
Draco

Dear Draco,
No nightmares, thank you. I am occasionally disturbed by dreams, but the dreams are not themselves bad.
I have heard of people singing to bees. Unfortunately, I don’t know the tunes.
My godson Teddy lives with his grandmother Andromeda.
Best,
Harry

Dear Harry,
I suppose you have a right to be cryptic about your own dreams.
I was fortunate to hear a performance of part of the poem about Lemminkäinen (you remember from the sand-sculpture?), sung in the traditional style by two elderly men. They sat knee to knee and clasped hands while they sang. One would sing a verse, then the other would join in at the end like a chorus, and embroider the melody while the first one gathered himself for the next verse. It was quite moving.
Please tell my little cousin Teddy that although I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting him, I will try to find a means of sending him some squeaky cheese.
Best wishes,
Draco

Dear Draco,
The squeaky cheese was a smashing success. Teddy, you may not be aware, is a Metamorphmagus like his mother was. Andromeda says he made his face very mouse-like when he ate it. He thought it was hilarious when the cheese squeaked.
Andromeda wanted me to tell you that you are welcome to visit them when you come to England. Any idea when that might be?
Of course I remember the sand sculpture.
I have been thinking of visiting a friend in Finland. Perhaps I could stop by to see you.
Best,
Harry

Dear Harry,
Please thank my aunt Andromeda for the invitation. I would love to see her and Teddy when I eventually return to England.
Yes, please do come visit when you are in Finland. You could try Nordic skiing. Tuisku would be delighted to show you the joys of snow.
If you have time after visiting your friend, that is.
Best,
Draco

o0o

Harry came. There was a happy awkwardness when he arrived, covered by warm greetings from Mielikki and Antero. Draco helped him put his things in the second bedroom of the guest cottage. Over the next few days Draco taught him what he knew about skiing, Mielikki fed him and talked about honey salves with him, and Antero tried to interest him in ice-fishing.

One day Tuisku needed exercise and Harry wanted to practise skiing, so Draco had taken them out on a trek through the woods. It was a beautiful day when they began, blue sky and sunshine, crisp cold air and the snow light and powdery, squeaking under their skis and glittering in the sun when Tuisku whirled and shook it from her fur. Harry still fell down on the skis sometimes, but laughed about it, and Draco felt light-hearted and exhilarated, gliding through a sparkling world.

They’d gone farther than he’d realized when the weather turned and snowclouds dimmed the sunlight. They turned back as the snow began to fall and skied in silence, just the shushshush of the skis through snow and the occasional whump of snow falling off a branch. Then from a distance there came a screech of brakes, a terrible crash, and the sound of wrenching metal and breaking glass.

An accident on the road that ran west of there – Draco swore and turned that way. “Tuisku, find it! Follow that noise! Find it!”

The dog tore off through the woods. “She’ll bark when she gets there,” Draco said. “We’ll follow her.”

“Don’t wait for me,” Harry said, “I’ll come as fast as I can – just go.”

Draco skied after the dog. He was off the trail now, and it was difficult going but adrenaline pushed him on. Then he heard her, a series of yips and long yodeling barks. Good dog. It was the special genius of the Finnish Spitz, tracking and then barking.

He came through the trees to the road and saw the car smashed against a tree, with the window shattered. A young man slumped in the driver’s seat, unmoving. Draco unfastened his skis and opened the door, catching the man, whose body slid toward him. He pulled him out and away from the shards of glass, and lay him down by the side of the road, as gently as he could. There was blood, so much that Draco couldn’t at first tell where it was coming from. Seeing a deep cut on the man’s neck, he knelt, tore off his glove, found a clean handkerchief in his pocket and pressed it hard on the wound, feeling sick as the hot blood coated his fingers. Desperately he began the chant, first with words of command:

Cease dropping, red-, cease spilling, berry-coloured Blood…. Like a wall stand still, O Blood, remain like a fence, … like a yellow iris in the sea, like a sedge amid the moss, stand like a stake in a morass, a bar of iron in a rock, a stone in a raging cataract, a flag on a ploughed field's edge. Thy duty is to stop, while I am causing thee to stop….

Still the blood came. He continued with words of reason:

but if thy mind should be disposed to move thyself more speedily, then in the flesh pray move about, keep gliding also in the bones; more proper ’tis for thee within, than streaming downwards to the ground.

It seemed to make no difference. Dimly he heard Harry’s voice, and from the corner of his eye saw a ghostly silver stag streak by, but he had to focus on the blood. He tried the cajoling words:

Pure ruddy Blood! cease trickling down, cease dribbling, darling, to the ground…. No stream thou art that thou shouldst flow, no lake thou art that thou shouldst sink, no pool in a swamp that thou shouldst shine, no worn-out boat that thou shouldst leak.

Thy place is in the heart, thy cellar lies below the lungs, thy chamber, lovely one, is there, thou beautiful, thou precious one, that art worth the price of a man, art worth in price a stalwart man.

The blood didn’t listen. It was spreading and staining the snow, he could smell it, and in some treacherous corner of his brain a memory hissed Sectumsempra. Dizziness sapped him and he started to sway, and then Draco felt someone next to him, steadying him. He put out a hand and held tight to the hand that found his. Draco forced himself to slow his breathing. He would need to call on a greater power. Suonetar, the daughter of the veins. He shut his eyes and implored.

Come, maiden, from above the air, the maiden from the sky's mid-point, in a copper boat, in a copper skiff. Row with honeyed oars, pull hard in the honeyed punt on either side of the wound from iron, of the injuries produced by steel.

With all his will he pushed at the blood, trying to hold it back, hold it back until help arrived. It pulsed back against him, spilling out, leaving the broken body. Where was she, Suonetar, would she come, he would have to go and seek her….

Come, maiden. Row a boat composed of veins, cause a boat of bone to glide through the bones, through the joints, through places where the flesh has gone; row through the fissures in the bone, along the crevices in joints; row through the bone to remove the pain, through the flesh to remove the smarts… into their place arrange the veins… with silken ribbons tie them up.

He pushed, the blood pulsed, he swam against the tide. Where was she?

Come…. He was falling, he was spinning, he was gone.

o0o

A poke of cold wet dog nose roused him. When Draco came to he was lying in the snow with his head in someone’s lap. He looked up into a pair of eyes as purely green as birch leaves with the sun behind them. Harry Potter’s eyes. Then Tuisku’s red-gold head pushed into view, her eyes dark and alert.

There was a hand in his – Harry’s hand – Draco pulled it up and looked at it. A man’s hand, with dark hairs at the wrist, and ragged nails. Draco’s own hand had blood on it.

The accident. He retched. Harry helped to pull him up and support him as Draco leaned over and was humiliatingly sick in the snow. Potter vanished the mess without comment, cast Aguamenti, and let Draco rinse out his mouth.

Draco lay back against Harry’s shoulder, completely drained. “I failed, then. Is he dead?”

“You didn’t fail. You stopped the bleeding. I think he’s going to be okay – they took him to a hospital to make sure the bones set properly. Antti said not to move you until you woke up, so I stayed with you.”

It was too much effort to move. Draco’s thoughts were fuzzy. Tuisku pushed her head under his other hand. “There was a sort of ghostly stag,” Draco said, threading his fingers through her thick coat.

“That was my Patronus – I was sending a message to Antti and Mielikka. I didn’t know what else to do. By the time they got here, you had done most of it.”

“I didn’t – nothing seemed to work. There was so much blood….” He looked at Potter. “You held my hand.”

“I – yeah, I don’t know, I thought it might help.”

“I still don’t really know what happened.”

“You were chanting, you had your hand on him, like you were trying to keep the blood in, and then you reached out – then I held your hand, and you kept chanting, and then you were shaking, and you passed out and then – maybe I was hallucinating too, it was like a vision. A woman in a boat rowed down from the sky and shimmered over that man for a moment, and then the bleeding slowed until it stopped. You pulled off some powerful magic there, Draco. How do you feel?”

“Exhausted. Confused.” He glanced at his blood-stained clothes. “A mess.”

“Welcome to life as a hero.”

“But I almost collapsed before I did any good. I don’t think I could have done it alone. Your hand – it was like an anchor. Without that….”

“Like I said, welcome to life as a hero. My warming charms are wearing off, and it’s going to get dark – let’s get you home to a bed.”

Draco looked doubtfully over at his skis. Harry followed his glance. “Actually, I thought I’d Side-along you. Someone can come back for the skis later.”

“What about Tuisku?”

“I don’t think I can Apparate you both. Will she go home if you tell her to?”

Draco held a short conversation with her. “Home. Go home, Tuisku, see Aamu.”

“Ar! Errooooerroooerraow.”

“I’m going another way, but I’ll be at my house. You can get home, right? Good girl. Smart girl. Don’t worry. Go home.”

“Rah erroooerroooer rah. Arerrrrr.”

Harry was grinning at him.

Just then a neighbor, Toivo, pulled up in his old pick-up truck. “Antti and Mielikki sent me to get you. We can put the skis and dog in the back.”

Paljon kiitoksia, thank you, Toivo!”

“Too many accidents. Could have been trying to avoid an animal or something and he hit the tree. It’s lucky for him he met someone who knows the stanching of blood.”

Someone who knows. Draco finally smiled a little as he got settled in the truck. He slumped against Harry a bit on the front bench seat, and Harry slid an arm around him. And if Draco turned his head to bury his nose in the snow-fresh scent of that soft dark hair, well, no one seemed to mind.

Toivo stopped at Antero and Mielikki’s house. Antti came running out. “We just got back from the hospital, they think he is going to be all right. Well done, tietäjä.”

“I’m not….”

“Harri saw the maid, in her copper boat. She does not come for those who don’t know how to call her. The trance made you weak. Let your assistant take care of you. You’ll feel better tomorrow.”

“Assistant?”

“Harri, take him to rest. He needs to get warm, but the sauna is not good when one is so weakened.”

“Antero – you wouldn’t know, but this is Harry Potter, he isn’t – anyone’s assistant.” Not Draco Malfoy’s, that was certain.

“We aren’t so ignorant here. But it is no disgrace to help you, Kauko Lohikäärme. Now get to your bed and rest.”

“Take this, Harri, something warm for you both to drink, and some supper.” Mielikki came out with a thermos and a covered pot and set them in the back of the truck. “We’ll take Tuisku over to Aamu’s house.”

o0o

In his cabin Draco sat and drank whatever it was that Mielikki had given them. It was sweet and spicy and warm.

“Are you hungry? No? All right, let’s get you in the shower before you go to bed,” Harry said.

“You don’t need to – ”

“You’ll feel better when you’re warm and clean,” Harry said quietly. “I’m your assistant for the night, remember? Let me do my job.”

Harry led Draco into the bathroom. It was all Draco could do to stand upright, he was still ridiculously weak. He let Harry peel his jumper over his head and unbutton his shirt. In the warm glow of candle-light he drank in the look of grave absorption on Harry’s face as he undressed Draco, the tenderness of his movements. When Draco was standing naked he shivered.

“Fffff, you’re cold now, stupid of me – ” Harry turned on the shower and steam began to curl into the small room. Then to Draco’s shock Harry stripped off his own clothes and pulled him into the shower. Hot water cascaded over them. Harry stood behind him and Draco leaned back against that warm support.

“Here, let me wash your hair.” The pleasant herbal smell of shampoo and the gentle massage on his head lulled Draco. Then Harry’s hands were massaging his neck and shoulders, and soaping his arms, sliding under his arms to soap his chest, skimming over his nipples…. Draco gasped. If he had not been so tired, so dead tired, he would be hard by now.

He took the soap and turned to face Harry. He soaped Harry’s shoulders, his upper chest, swirling his fingers through the dark hair there. He dropped the soap and stared, gaping, heavy-lidded, at Harry’s darkened eyes and red red lips. Clumsily Draco stroked his face.

Draco saw Harry’s mouth fall open. Harry moved back, turned, stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around his waist. He shut off the water and held out a towel to Draco.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, Draco told himself. Stupid to want. But stupidly, he still wanted. He was shaking again.

“You’re cold – get in bed,” Harry said, not meeting his eyes. Draco climbed beneath the covers. Oh – he hadn’t put on pyjamas – it would be cold until his body warmed the sheets. But he was so tired.

Harry lifted the covers and climbed into the bed with him. He hadn’t put on pyjamas either. “Body heat,” he said in a strange husky voice, “it’s the best way to warm you quickly.”

Draco turned to him, unable to help himself. He was falling, falling into Harry’s troubled eyes, falling into his arms, falling into the dark river of sleep, and he was gone.

o0o

Draco woke in the darkness from a dream in which Tuisku was barking. There was a delicious warmth in the bed, and soft even breathing near his face. Harry Potter was sleeping in his bed, and for the moment, the sweet trust that implied meant more than the frustration or confusion.

Something flickered in the corner of his eye, something outside, behind the curtains that hadn’t been pulled tight. He slid carefully out of bed, shivered in the cold, and looked out. The night sky flared with the chill green light of spell-fire, swirling Avada-Kedavra green. He seemed to hear it crackle. He flung himself back to the bed.

“Harry! Harry, wake up! You have to hide. Death Eaters, they’ve found you, you have to get away!”

“What?” Draco heard Harry scrabble for his glasses and wand.

“Look.” Draco tugged him to the window. “The Dark Mark – someone has cast Morsmordre.”

Harry looked over Draco’s shoulder. “No, it’s – yeah, it’s that color, but – Draco, I think that’s the Northern Lights.”

Draco looked again. No skull and snake, just livid green swirls. This was his introduction to the Aurora Borealis? “Sorry,” Draco said. “I seem to be very stupid today.”

“You’re very heroic today. You thought it was the Death Eaters, and the first thing you thought of was protecting me.”

Well, if Harry Potter insisted on thinking the best of whatever Draco did, Draco was doomed to love him.

Harry grabbed the feather duvet from the bed and wrapped it around them both. “I’ve always wanted to see the Northern Lights, haven’t you?”

“Until I did.”

“You just need to think of them differently, Draco. Remember the legend about them here? The lights come from a fox running over the hills. The fox’s tail sweeps the snow, and the sparks that fly up are the Northern Lights.”

Foxes made Draco think of Tuisku, leaping lightly across the snow, hair like a flame.

Harry had loved a girl with hair like a flame.

“She did have beautiful hair,” Draco admitted softly, because he was cursed to say stupid things around Harry Potter.

“What? Who?”

“Ginny Weasley.”

“Ginny? Yeah, she does. My mother did too, for that matter.”

“Do you think of her much?”

“My mother? Yes, sometimes.”

“Ginny.”

“Sometimes. Not much lately, and certainly not now.”

“Oh.”

Harry tucked his chin over Draco’s shoulder and wrapped his arms more snugly across Draco’s chest. “Why are you thinking about her?”

“Foxes.”

“What? Oh. Oh, but that fox –” He paused as the light show shifted. “Look, look Draco the lights are pink now! Oh, they’re gorgeous!”

They were, and so was the feel of Harry’s arms around him. The lights died down and Harry turned his face toward Draco’s.

That fox – the one whose tail is whisking up all this beauty – that is an arctic fox. Not red at all. Hair pale as moonlight,” Harry said, stroking Draco’s hair.

“Oh,” murmured Draco.

“Part of an international conspiracy of blonds, I suspect,” Harry added, very close to Draco’s ear.

“Mmm,” Draco said in Harry’s ear, which put them cheek to cheek.

And then it was just natural to turn in his arms so they were face to face. Eye to eye, lip to lip, mouth to mouth. Natural to fall into bed together, hands and mouths moving over warm skin, stroking and kissing til they were breathless.

Harry broke off. “Should we think this through?”

“NO,” said Draco. “Why did you pull away in the shower?”

“You were so weak then, I didn’t want to take advantage.”

“I was throwing myself at you with what little strength I had. Next time, catch me.”

“I’ve got you,” Harry said, winding himself around Draco. “I’ve got you.”

They made love in the darkness, slept, woke again in darkness (Finnish winter nights are long), made love, slept, woke and made love in the light of day.

o0o

The sense of certainty mixed with anticipation that Draco felt in deciding to leave with Harry reminded him of how he’d felt when he chose to come to Finland in the first place: an adventure whose time was right. He was apprehensive about telling Mielikki and Antero, but they were not surprised. “Aamu is a seer, remember,” Mielikki said. “I will let you go, if you promise to return and visit. Write and tell me about the bees and your success with honey salves.”

“I am so grateful to you both,” Draco said.

Antero’s eyes were shiny, and he clasped Draco’s shoulders and then his hands. “You have done well.”

“I’m just a beginner still.”

“You are skiing fresh snow to make a new trail, but you are strong and moving in the right direction. You will find your way.”

“We’ll get weepy if we keep this up,” said Mielikki. “I will weave you boys a ryjijy, as I do when couples marry. What would you like in the design?”

“Can you make cloudberries?” Harry asked. “Or honeybees?”

“She can make anything,” Draco said. “She’s an artist.”

“Tuisku, too, then,” said Harry.

Mielikki turned to Draco. “So what should I put for you, along with the Queen of Barkers and Harri’s bees and berries? Shall I make a dragon for Lohikäärme?”

“Oh, I can see a dragon any day,” Draco said. “I want a woolly mammoth.” They beamed at each other.

Mielikki shook her head and hugged him hard. “Go, before I change my mind and try to keep you here.”

o0o

Draco moved into Harry’s cottage in Scotland. It wasn’t simple to begin living together, but there was enough joy to carry them through the rough spots, and they soon gave up the pretence that it was just temporary until Draco found his own place. They went flying together. Draco began using his wand again.

Draco worked on songs to praise and hearten bees, and incantations against the mites that preyed on them. He couldn’t test them yet, because Harry’s bees were still dormant for the winter, and needed to rest undisturbed so the hive didn’t lose its heat. But he researched and wrote alternate versions and composed tunes for them. He made salves from honey. He wrote up notes on traditional wizarding education in Finland, for a future article or talk. And he began a more daunting task, that of meeting again Harry’s friends.

It began with Neville Longbottom. Draco had been working on incantations that could take the place of the pesticides that often ended up harming bees. He knew of chants to send grubs and slugs away (particularly cabbage worms), but he didn’t know what other types of pests, magical or not, were common. Harry had invited Neville over to talk about plans for pollination for Neville’s greenhouse and to get Neville’s advice on his old orchard, and the three of them ended up discussing bee-friendly (and toad-friendly) pest prevention.

Draco had been uncomfortable at first, confronting yet another former classmate whom he had tormented, and who had turned out to be a hero. Neville was guarded but composed. When Harry was out of the room, Draco said abruptly, “I was horrible to you for years. I’m sorry.” Neville just looked at him quietly and nodded.

The next time Neville came over, it was unusually calm, sunny, and mild for the season. “I’m going to take a quick peek at the bee-hives,” Harry said. “I want to make sure they have enough food left to keep them going until the blossoms begin.” Draco and Neville followed him out to the orchard. Draco could see some bees flying around.

“Well, there are still bees, and there’s still honey left,” Harry reported. “I’m hopeful!” They walked back to the cottage for tea. Neville confided a desire to try squeaky cheese, and they all relaxed over leipäjuusto with cloudberry jam.

Eventually, of course, Draco had to meet Ron and Hermione. Again, he was apprehensive, and again it was awkward, and he made apologies when Harry was out of the room. No one said anything about forgiveness, but he didn’t expect them to; no one hexed him either. He supposed Harry wouldn’t have invited them over until he was reasonably sure everyone could be civil. Draco and Ron managed to have a conversation about their experiences of magical culture shock in Finland and Ghana, and Draco and Hermione discussed Muggle libraries.

So it was just a matter of time before Draco went along with Harry to the Weasley family home in Ottery St Catchpole. When he first saw Mrs Weasley, he couldn’t help stammering, “Harry did come back again. And it wasn’t my doing that he went the first time.”

“Went where, dear?” Mrs Weasley seemed distracted, watching her grand-daughter through the window.

“To Finland. You thought Harry and I were going to move there, and I’ve wondered what gave you that idea.”

“Did I? Perhaps it was a dream I had.” She called out the window. “Victoire! Don’t tease the gnomes, they’ll bite!”

Weasley family life bustled around him. Draco occupied himself by looking at pictures on the mantelpiece and walls. Harry, who had been talking with Bill, came over to him and pointed at a photo of two young, red-haired wizards. “Those are Molly’s brothers, Gideon and Fabian Prewett,” Harry said. “Molly gave me Fabian’s pocket watch when I turned seventeen.”

“Prewett? Did you say Prewett?”

“Yes, why?” Harry began, but Draco had already turned to look for Mrs Weasley. She had gone out into the garden. He hurried after her.

“Mrs Weasley, I wonder if you could help me. I’m looking for a portrait of someone in your family, perhaps a great-great-aunt or cousin? She was very dear to someone who helped me a great deal. Her name was Angharad. She played Quidditch. Angharad Prewett.”

o0o

As it turned out, Mrs Weasley had a cousin who had an old family portrait that included Angharad, and who was willing to lend the portrait for a short while. The original portrait of Angharad and Lumina had been destroyed in a fire when Lumina was away, it seemed, and Angharad had escaped to her other family portrait in the nick of time. Now Draco just had to plan a way to reunite Lumina and Angharad.

He began thinking aloud. “Lumina could move between portraits of herself until one of them was destroyed, and she was able to move to different paintings in the same building as her portrait. But she couldn’t travel long distances except in a portrait she’d actually been painted into.”

“Yeah, I remember that’s what the portrait of Phineas Nigellus Black told us.”

“Why were you talking to him? Never mind. So if we bring together the two portraits that Lumina and Angharad are in, they could visit each other, but only for as long as we had both the paintings in one place. And those are group portraits, so the other family members would be there too, and she says that most of the Malfoys are hostile. Of course if those people had other portraits of themselves, they could go off and stay somewhere else instead. Hmmm….”

“You’re making me dizzy,” Harry said.

“Suppose I found a wizarding artist to paint a new portrait of Lumina and Angharad together, modeled on these previous portraits,” Draco continued. “Do you think they would be able to stay together in the new one for as long as they chose?”

“I’d say it’s worth the chance.”

“Now if I just knew a painter….”

“There’s Dean. He’d probably be glad of a commission. It isn’t easy to make a living as an artist.”

“Dean Thomas?” Draco sighed. “Another person who was once locked in the cellar of my house. What if he can’t forget that?”

“Then maybe he could use your help healing from nightmares.”

Fortunately Dean Thomas accepted the job, provided he didn’t have to enter Malfoy Manor. So then all Draco needed to do was meet his mother at the Manor when his father was not at home and convince her to let him borrow the portrait, find Lumina and give her the news, find the group portrait in which she had originally been painted, advise the other Malfoys in the portrait to go elsewhere if they preferred, shrink the portrait and take it to the cottage in Scotland, fix up a space for Dean to work, and wait with Dean for Harry to bring the portrait with Angharad from Mrs Weasley’s cousin. They had decided not to tell Angharad ahead of time in case something didn’t work out.

When Harry arrived with the portrait, everyone in it, including Angharad, was asleep. Lumina’s face lost its tense impatience and lit with hope, and her voice was joyful and eager. “Angharad! Angharad, beloved.”

Angharad stirred and slowly opened her eyes. “Luma? Am I dreaming? Are you finally here?”

Lumina gave a glad shriek and darted out of her portrait and into the other. She caught her lover in her arms and they kissed passionately. When they emerged Angharad’s red hair had tumbled about her shoulders and they were laughing and crying together. Draco doubted they would have much attention to spare for anyone else any time soon.

Dean, smiling, gestured at his blank canvas. “What kind of setting do you think they would like for their portrait?”

“Maybe a library that opens out onto a Quidditch pitch? Give them anything they want,” said Draco.

He caught Harry’s eyes. They were the warm clear green of midsummer. Harry opened the front door and beckoned to Draco. “We’ll leave them to it,” Harry said.

Outside, daffodils were nodding in a spring breeze. Harry pulled Draco into a kiss, long and sweet. Then he started toward the orchard, looking back with a smile Draco would follow anywhere. “Come on,” Harry said, holding out his hand. “Let’s go and sing to some bees.”

o0o

Ruvennenko laulamahe
šoanenko šanelomahe
hyvän on toisena keralla
kahen kašvinkumppalina?
Pankamaš käsi kätehe
šormi šormien välihe
haka toisehen hakahe.
Šana siulta, toini miulta
kieli kemppi kummalta,
šuutana šovittelemma
säveltänä šeätelemmä
Shall I start to sing
shall I begin to recite
with a good man as a partner
two who grew up together?
Come, let us put hand in hand
and finger in finger-gap
each grip in the other's grip.
One word from you, one from me
splendid speech from both:
we will shape our mouths
we will pitch our tunes



He has lovely eyes
I have a warm heart;
he has not thrown me over
nor left me alone: he has
taken me to be his own
called me his treasure
looked me out as his fair one
chosen me as his white one.
I’ll hang on to him
both hang on and swing
like a bird in a green tree
a squirrel on a spruce bough.