Work Header

Seven Days in Sunny June

Chapter Text

Harry was roasting in his formal robes, the collar too tight and the material far too thick for the unseasonably warm weather. The winter had been bitterly cold, but April had brought with it weeks of sunshine, barely a cloud visible in the sky, and so far the weather seemed to be holding in to May. The papers were having a field day, every front page blazened with photos of girls in skimpy bikinis frolicking on the beach, headlines screaming about heat waves and record temperatures.

Harry was already fed up with it - warm weather seemed to bring out the rule breaker in a lot of people, and the Auror teams were run off their feet with it. He’d barely had a chance to enjoy any of the nice weather, occasional patrols the only time he got to enjoy the feel of the sun on his face, and the heavy Auror uniform made that a less than pleasant experience.

And now he was giving up his weekend, so he would have to wait another week to get out into the sun, which knowing English weather put him at risk of missing the whole summer entirely.

It didn’t help that he didn’t even want to be here, at the 10 year anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts. Over the years the organisers of the memorials had grown used to receiving his apologetic letters saying that he wouldn’t be attending, but the significance of reaching a decade since the battle seemed to have given them extra motivation, and they hadn’t taken no for an answer this year.

Harry had done his best to resist their pleas, his replies growing terser each time he received a begging letter, but eventually Hermione had talked him in to attending. She had won him over by taking a distinctly different tack to the organisers. The woman who had the task of getting him to attend the event, which he imagined must amount to basically a full-time job at this point judging by the number of lengthy letters he had received, tried to convince him by waxing lyrical about how much it would mean for the public to see him, the war hero, in person, living proof that the war was over. Hermione, however, had known exactly how ineffective that tactic was when it came to Harry; nothing could make him less keen to go somewhere than the thought of being paraded in front of adoring, sycophantic crowds.

Instead, Hermione had reminded Harry that Teddy and Andromeda would be attending the event, as they did every year, and had gently suggested that Harry might want to be there to help his godson get through the day. After all, the ceremony wasn’t just the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, it was the anniversary of Tonks and Lupin’s deaths, and Teddy was old enough to truly understand that now. Harry had folded immediately, his mind filled with memories of a lifetime’s worth of Halloweens spent mourning his parents. How much better would those days have been with Sirius there, to share stories and to comfort each other? He couldn’t deprive Teddy of that.

And so he found himself at Hogwarts, sweating in his dress robes and trying to act as though he wasn’t extremely uncomfortable with all the eyes he could feel on him. At least he’d managed to get out of giving a speech.

The service was long and boring, and Harry could barely connect the sanitised stories in the overly formal speeches with the memories he held of that night. None of the speakers mentioned the panic, the confusion, the heartbreaking pain that they had all experienced that day, and during the months that followed. They talked instead of heroic sacrifice, of bravery, of good vanquishing evil. Harry could hardly stand it, and had to fight the urge to run, either far away from Hogwarts or up on to the stage itself. He hadn’t wanted to give a speech, but he found himself itching to get up there so he could tell people what it had really been like. How it had felt to have curses being fired at him from all corners, how it hurt to see his friends die in front of him, for him. How it felt to have the expectations and lives of the whole wizarding world on his shoulders.

How it felt to walk to his death.

When the seemingly endless speeches finally finished, Harry headed straight for the drinks table, ignoring all the people who shuffled over to him, eyes alight with the prospect of talking to ‘the Saviour’. He gratefully took the cold glass of water the bartender handed to him, gulping it down in a desperate attempt to cool down. The heat was only exacerbating the maelstrom of emotions whirling inside him, and he didn’t want to lose it here. Not in front of all of these people.

Once he had drunk enough to feel slightly cooler, he looked around, and, seeing Teddy chatting relatively happily to Andromeda, and taking in the eyes trained on him, ready to pounce, he decided to escape for a walk. He hated being the centre of attention on a good day, but today was not a good day. He needed some space to breathe before he could plaster on a smile and play the role of the hero that everyone wanted, needed, him to be today.

He found himself wandering the corridors of Hogwarts, hands reaching out to trail along the rough, blessedly cold stone of the walls. It always had been chilly inside the castle, something he had hated during the freezing Scottish winters but which he was eternally grateful for at the moment. As he walked, images of the night of the battle flitted through his mind, a stark contrast to the beautifully restored castle. It didn’t seem real that 10 years had passed. It was all still so fresh for him, and he didn’t think it would ever fade into the past like it had for the majority of the wizarding world.

He was so caught up in his thoughts that at first he didn’t realise that the corridor he’d stumbled into wasn’t empty like the rest of the castle had been. By the time he noticed the figure leaning against the wall halfway down the corridor, it was too late. If he’d seen them earlier he might have tried to quietly back away, but there was no way to do that now without seeming like a complete coward.

So instead Harry steeled himself and walked up to Draco Malfoy, determined to simply say hello and keep walking. A fight with his childhood enemy was the last thing he needed today.

‘Potter,’ Malfoy said, inclining his head slightly, before Harry could open his mouth to say hello.

‘What are you doing here, Malfoy?’ Harry said sharply, his initial resolve to avoid confrontation immediately melting away.He was too on edge already today to try and be civil with Malfoy.

‘I’m here for my tap dancing lesson. What do you think I’m here for, Potter,’ Malfoy drawled, one eyebrow ever so slightly raised, as if to show exactly what he thought of Harry’s question.

The annoyance that Harry had managed to reduce slightly during his walk around the castle roared back with full force at that, his hackles raising in the way only Malfoy could cause.

‘You shouldn’t be here,’ Harry said angrily. ‘You and your lot caused this, you don’t get to come here and pretend to mourn.’ It seemed so wrong to Harry, that Malfoy could be part of a day like this. He and the Death Eaters were the reason everyone was here, mourning their loved ones, the reason this day would forever cause a pit of dread and grief to form in Harry’s gut. The reason Teddy would grow up without parents, the reason there would always be an empty seat at the Weasley’s table. Malfoy had no right to intrude on that grief.

Malfoy pushed up off the wall he was leaning on and moved closer to Harry, his jaw clenched and fury burning in his eyes.

‘You think I’m pretending? That today isn’t hard for me? That I didn’t sit through that whole fucking spectacle out there feeling as though my heart was going to rip apart?’ Malfoy shouted, more passionate than Harry had ever seen him.

‘You think I don’t spend this day every year hating the part I played in this? That I don’t wish I could go back and change everything?’ Malfoy continued, coming ever closer to Harry, the force of his anger combining with the few inches he had on Harry to make it feel as though he was towering over Harry.

‘And then you wander in and tell me I shouldn’t be here? I don’t see you here every year. If me sitting through a few mind-numbing speeches so that I can pay my respects to the dead and try and make up even a little bit for what I did is too much for you, then maybe you should have stayed away like normal.’

Malfoy was right in front of Harry now, chest visibly moving as he caught his breath after his outburst. Harry had stepped backwards as Malfoy approached, and he now had his back pressed against the cold wall, the stones catching on the silky fabric of his dress robes.

Harry’s mind was racing, trying to process the words Malfoy had spat out. It sounded like Malfoy was trying to make amends for his part in the war, but Harry couldn’t reconcile that with the Malfoy he knew. He didn’t know what to say, couldn’t find the words to respond, so just stared, dumbfounded. He knew he looked like an idiot, that this would only feed in to Malfoy’s unfavourable impression of him, but he couldn’t think what else to do. Malfoy’s proximity, combined with his rant, was scrambling Harry’s brain, leaving no room for critical thinking or smart retorts.

All Harry could focus on was the way Malfoy’s breath ghosted across his face with each pant, the way that Malfoy’s eyes were burning in to his, the grey almost completely obscured by his blown pupil.

‘Nothing to say, Potter?’ Malfoy said archly. ‘Do I have your permission to be here now?’

‘Fuck you, Malfoy,’ Harry replied, unable to think of a more coherant insult when he could feel the heat radiating off Malfoy’s skin. ‘You don’t get to stand there and try and make me feel sorry for you, not today.’

‘Merlin, you haven’t changed, have you, Potter? Still just as self-righteous and full of yourself as ever. Just cause that lot out there,’ Malfoy said, gesturing in the direction of the grounds, ‘worship the ground you walk on doesn’t mean I will.’

‘I never said I wanted you to!’ Harry spat. ‘I don’t want anything from you, not now, not ever.’

‘Are you sure, Potter?’ Malfoy said, stepping in even closer, so close that their chests nearly touched. ‘Are you sure you don’t want anything from me at all?’

Harry’s heart kicked up a gear as he watched Malfoy’s gaze flick down to his lips, the meaning of his question suddenly crystal clear.

Before Harry could come up with an answer to that question, before he had even had a chance to process that their argument was shifting into something completely different but no less unsettling, Malfoy was kissing him.

It took Harry a second to respond, the shock of feeling Malfoy’s lips on his rendering him frozen, but then it was as if a roaring fire ripped through him, all the anger and rage that had been consuming him just moments before being instantly replaced by a burning need. The long buried questions of his adolescence finally received their answer as he found out at last what it would be like to be kissed by Malfoy, a desire he’d thought vanished roaring back to life at an incredible speed.

He kissed Malfoy back, hard, heat rushing through his veins. It was incredible, but all he could think was that he needed more, more tongue, more heat, more friction. Malfoy seemed to be thinking the same thing as he surged forwards, pressing Harry more firmly against the wall as the kiss became even more passionate. Their bodies were lined up almost perfectly, the planes of Malfoy’s chest hard and perfect against Harry’s, and he couldn’t stop a moan escaping him as Malfoy’s hand snaked up to tangle in his messy hair.

Without thinking, Harry shifted his hips forwards, revelling in the sharp gasp Malfoy let out as their already hard cocks brushed against each other. He immediately started up an agonisingly slow grind, his body desperately seeking the friction it craved so strongly.

It was so close to perfect, every nerve ending in his body alight with pleasure as they moved against each other, still kissing, barely pausing for air. So close, and yet it still wasn’t enough. Harry needed more, wanted more. It took all his resolve to pull back from the kiss, his overwhelming lust only just winning the battle with his desire to keep kissing Malfoy.

‘C’mere,’ Harry panted, stomach flipping upside down and his cock twitching in his trousers as he took in the sight of Malfoy, red-lipped with mussed hair, pupils blown with need. He took Malfoy’s hand and pulled him down the corridor, dragging him into the nearest broom cupboard.

It was dark and hot in the cupboard, the atmosphere somehow even more charged than it had been out in the corridor. Harry felt almost dizzy, the heat of the small space and the want coursing through him leaving him feeling as though he had been confunded. All he knew was that he needed Malfoy, all of him.

Harry leaned in, kissing Malfoy again, letting his hands roam all over Malfoy’s body now that they had the privacy of the broom cupboard. He wanted to touch everywhere, wanted everything. His hands slid down to Malfoy’s belt, fingers running over the hard ridge in Malfoy’s trousers, a thrill snaking down his spine at the noise the contact drew from Malfoy.

As his fingers hurriedly undid Malfoy’s belt and ripped open his flies, Harry dropped to his knees, the scrape of the stone floor against his knees barely registering as he took in the sight of Malfoy’s hard cock. All thought of taking his time, of teasing Malfoy until he was a quivering wreck vanished, and instead Harry immediately swallowed down Malfoy’s cock, starting a quick up and down, desperate to make Malfoy feel good, to blow his mind.

Malfoy’s hand curled tightly in Harry’s hair, a litany of swear words falling from his lips, his eyes trained directly on Harry as he licked and sucked Malfoy’s prick. It was intoxicating, watching the way Malfoy fell apart as a result of him, watching him as he bit his lip, his cheeks reddening as he got closer to climax.

Harry had been so distracted by the sight, and feel, and taste of Malfoy that his own desire had almost faded into the background, nowhere near gone but reduced to a pleasant hum as he focused all his efforts on making Malfoy feel good. But then Malfoy groaned particularly loudly, a Fuuck, Potter escaping from his lips, and Harry’s desire roared back with full force. He reached down and pressed a palm into his throbbing cock, even that contact enough to have him moaning around Malfoy’s dick. But it still wasn’t enough.

Harry paused in his efforts long enough to unzip his trousers and pull out his cock, a moan ripping from his throat as he wrapped his hand around himself and began to stroke himself. An impatient sound from Malfoy drew his attention away from the pleasure radiating through his body as a result of his hand on his cock. The look on Malfoy’s face was impossible to describe, all aching desire and searing need as he watched Harry touch himself.

Together they raced towards their peak, Harry’s hand flying on his prick as he lavished attention on Malfoy, revelling in the sound and feel of Malfoy coming undone. Malfoy’s hand clenching tightly in his hair was the first sign of his impending orgasm, but Harry didn’t pull off, couldn’t bear to move away now. The sound of Malfoy coming pushed Harry over the edge, the floor painted white as he swallowed Malfoy’s release.

Harry dropped his head forward to rest of the hard muscle of Malfoy’s thigh, too blissed out to be able to move, the ache in his knees drowned out by the shockwaves of pleasure still rocketing through his body. He could hear Malfoy panting above him, could feel the tremble of his legs as they both silently let the afterglow wash over them.

As the pleasure began to fade, though, the anxiety started to intrude. What on earth had he just done?

The heat must have driven him mad, to make him think that getting off with Malfoy was a good idea. Ignoring the twinging in his knees, Harry slowly got up from the floor, tucking himself away again, resolutely not looking at Malfoy. He didn’t know what he would see there, was nervous to find out.

‘Potter,’ Malfoy said lowly, forcing Harry to finally look his way.

‘Malfoy,’ Harry replied, swallowing nervously.

‘This didn’t mean anything,’ Malfoy said firmly, in a tone that brook no argument. ‘We can just forget it ever happened.’

Harry didn’t say anything, couldn’t say anything. Of course it hadn’t meant anything. One ill-advised broom closet rendezvous didn’t mean he wanted anything more from Malfoy. And yet, something in his chest twisted at those words, something he didn’t want to examine closely.

‘Yeah- yeah- of course. It never happened,’ he finally managed to get out.

‘Goodbye, Potter.’

And then Malfoy was gone, robes billowing behind him, light streaming into the cupboard where he left the door ajar.

Harry leant back against the wall, letting his head drop back on to the cool stone, the chill a balm to the mugginess of the room and the heat that still coursed through his body. Now, without the distracting presence of Malfoy, his mind was a mess, trying to work out what had happened to him, to make him want Malfoy so badly, after all this time. It had been a long time since he had known desire like that, such overpowering need, making him feel as though he would die if he wasn’t able to reach out and touch.

The sound of footsteps in the corridor outside jolted him out of his increasingly stressful reverie, panic racing through his veins at the thought of someone finding him here, hiding in a broom cupboard. He had no idea what he looked like but he was sure it would be quite obvious what he had been up to, his hair presumably even wilder than normal thanks to Malfoy’s fingers running through it. Heart thundering in his chest, Harry tucked himself behind the door of the cupboard as the footsteps approached, holding his breath until he heard the figure retreating.

Letting out a relieved breath, he slipped out of the cupboard and hurried down the corridor, in the opposite direction of the other person. He briefly considered going to find Teddy and Andromeda to say goodbye, but he knew they’d see what had happened written across his face, and he was nowhere near ready to discuss it with anyone, not until he’d had a chance to work it all out for himself.

As he walked out into the grounds, a wave of hot air hit him, a stark contrast to the cool of the castle. The sun was still out in full force, hot despite the fact that the afternoon was drawing to a close. Harry couldn’t wait to get out of his restrictive formal robes, to have a cold shower, to have some space and peace to think about the strange turn his afternoon had taken. Before any members of the public or the press could catch a glimpse of him and try and monopolise his attention, he turned on his heel and hurried to the apparition point, desperate to get home.

Two weeks later, Harry walked into Neville’s garden, expecting a casual barbecue with his friends.

Instead, he walked right into Draco bloody Malfoy.

The summer was still just as swelteringly hot as it had been at the ceremony, beating all records according to the over-excited weathermen on the wireless. Harry was well and truly over it now. His office was always boiling, leaving him with headaches at the end of every day that no amount of water could fix, and the crime spree had just worsened as the weather continued to drive everyone slightly out of their right minds.

Grimmauld Place reacted strangely to temperature; it was always freezing in the winter, to the point where Harry would have to pile on blankets despite the fires blazing in every grate, but in the summer it became unbearably hot and airless. The only respite could be found in the kitchen, its basement location and flagstone floor helping reduce the temperature ever so slightly.

Sleeping had become impossible, and the long nights spent tossing and turning, kicking off the sheets, had left Harry in a horrible mood that he hadn’t been able to shake for weeks. And when he couldn’t sleep, he ended up thinking.

He’d tried his best to put the events of the anniversary ceremony behind him, to pretend it hadn’t happened like Malfoy had suggested they do. But Harry just couldn’t forget about it. It was always there, in the back of his mind, just waiting for a quiet moment to come to the forefront. Work and trips out with Ron, Hermione, and Rose were keeping Harry busy enough that thoughts of Malfoy generally stayed tucked away during the day. But the nights were a different story.

Lying there, in the heat of his room, sheet tossed on the floor, even the other side of the pillow not cold enough to provide relief, memories would worm their way into Harry’s thoughts. The feel of Malfoy’s long slender fingers caught up in his hair. The sound of Malfoy’s groans ringing in the quiet of their broom cupboard. The taste and weight of Malfoy on his tongue.

It was driving Harry mad. He began to linger in the cool kitchen later and later, trying to avoid both the excessive heat of his bedroom and the increasingly unavoidable thoughts of Malfoy that plagued him at night.

And now, here he was, in front of Malfoy. The very sight of him brought back all the images he had been trying to avoid, and it was as if no time at all had passed.

‘Hey, Malfoy,’ Harry said cautiously, unsure how Malfoy wanted to act.

‘Potter,’ Malfoy sneered before turning to Pansy and starting up a conversation, leaving Harry staring dumbfounded at his back. Was that it? Was Malfoy really not going to say anything more, after what had happened between them?

Well, if that was how Malfoy wanted to play this then that was just fine by Harry. He walked past Malfoy and Pansy to go and say hello to Neville, and if he accidentally knocked Malfoy with his shoulder as he went, well. Malfoy shouldn’t have been standing in the way.

‘What are they doing here?’ Harry asked as soon as he reached Neville, his tone sharp.

‘Harry,’ Hermione sighed, ‘be nice.’

‘Neville, why are they here?’ he repeated, more insistently this time.

Neville looked nervously at the Gryffindors surrounding him, one hand coming up to rub the back of his neck as it always did when he was nervous.

‘Ah, well,’ he began slowly, ‘I invited you all here today because I’ve got some news to share with you.’

Neville paused, looking around at them all, before squaring his shoulders and taking a deep breath.

‘I’ve been seeing someone,’ he said. ‘Blaise,’ he added, waving a hand in the direction of the tall, handsome man talking to Luna over by the drinks table.

‘What?’ Harry and Ron shouted at once.

‘Oh that’s lovely news, Neville,’ Hermione said, giving Ron a less than subtle poke in the side with her elbow as she leaned in to hug Neville.

‘Uh, yeah, congrats, Neville,’ Ron said, less than convincingly.

‘Yeah, that’s great, but why does that mean Malfoy has to be here?’ Harry said, to yet another sigh from Hermione.

‘Sorry, Neville, you’re on your own with him, I’m far too hot and pregnant to deal with another one of his Malfoy rants,’ she said apologetically, before walking off towards a small patch of shade in one corner of the garden.

‘Harry, mate, don’t be a dick today, alright? I know Malfoy can be annoying, but just give it a rest this once, yeah?’ Ron said, clapping Harry on the back before quickly following his wife to safety.

Harry just looked at Neville, knowing that he was being an idiot, but unable to come down from the visceral wave of anger that had appeared the moment Malfoy had turned his back on him, implicitly rejecting everything that had passed between them at the memorial service.

‘I’m happy for you about Blaise, honestly, but I’m not going to be friends with Malfoy, okay?’ he said hotly.

‘I’m not asking you to, Harry. Just don’t fight with him, not here at least. That’s all I’m asking,’ Neville said.

Harry was about to open his mouth to retort with something about Malfoy being the one to start the fights, not him, when he heard Hermione calling him over in a voice that suggested he better be next to her straight away or else. Harry rolled his eyes and stomped over to her, well aware that he was behaving like Teddy used to when he was having a tantrum but unable to bring himself to care enough to stop. How could he calm down, when Malfoy was just there?

Harry managed to avoid Malfoy for the next few hours, resolutely refusing to look his way or be drawn in to conversation with any of the Slytherins. He knew he was being petty, and was aware of the looks he was getting from everyone else at the barbecue, but he just couldn’t help himself. If Malfoy wanted to pretend that nothing had happened between them, that they were still childhood enemies, well, Harry was more than happy with that. He’d had years of practice at hating Malfoy after all. One ill judged blowjob wasn’t enough to make him forget how much he detested the git.

He spent a while chatting with Ginny, entertained as always by her stories of life as a professional Quidditch player. Every so often he’d get a pang of jealousy, momentarily wondering what his life would be like if he’d taken up one of the offers of a Seeker spot that had come his way after Hogwarts. It was fun to wonder about, but deep down he knew that it wouldn’t have been the right choice for him. Quidditch was Ginny’s thing, and while at first that had been a reason to contemplate it as a career, looking back he was very glad they’d gone in different directions. The first year or so after their breakup had been awkward enough, considering how tangled their lives were, with shared friends and family and so much history. He couldn’t imagine how it would have been if he’d had to see her at work too.

He wouldn’t have coped with the fame that a Quidditch career would have brought either. For several years now he’d been resisting the subtle hints and quiet suggestions that he should put himself forward for the role of Head Auror, not wanting the attention that such a prominent Ministry position would bring. He was quite content staying in the background, quietly working to make the wizarding world a better place. The rabid press attention that had plagued him in the years immediately following the war had finally died down - although the tenth anniversary had been marked by a sharp uptick in public interest in him - and he was perfectly happy to let it all fade into the past. He just wanted to move on and live his life quietly, being nobody’s saviour.

But the intrusion of Malfoy and his Slytherin gang into Harry’s life made it hard for him to forget the past. One look at Malfoy and Pansy gossiping together in the corner made irritation bubble in his veins just as it had when he was 15. Something about that pale, pointy face and the smirk that so often graced it made him want to pick a fight, the urge overpowering him until he was unable to resist. Only the warning presence of Hermione at his side and the sight of the smile on Neville’s face as he chatted to Blaise and Luna held him back from storming over to Malfoy and doing… something.

If the Slytherins hadn’t been there, Harry would have been having a lovely afternoon. All his closest friends were in attendance, an impressive feat considering how busy they all were nowadays. The weather was perfect - this was no traditional English barbecue, huddled under umbrellas or wrapped up in thick jumpers. The sun was beating down on them, leaving skin warm and hair boiling to the touch. The air was thick with the smell of the barbecue, mingling with the sweet scents of Neville’s flowers and freshly cut grass.

Unsurprisingly Neville’s garden was the perfect location for such an event, his green-fingered nature showing itself more clearly here than anywhere else. As he waited for the food to be ready, Harry found himself wandering the garden, chilled beer in hand, fingers trailing along the plants as he walked. The area nearest the house was laid to paving, with vintage iron chairs and tables ready and waiting for them to dine. Neville and Ron had made this their domain, both clad in novelty aprons bought by Ginny, the two men holding court as they tended the barbecue.

The paving gave way to a pristine lawn, the lush green grass soft to the touch, perfect for spreading out a picnic blanket to laze on in the sun. Beautiful borders full of brightly coloured and unique plants ran along the edges of the grass, flowers turned up to face the sun, drinking in its warmth. Up close the smell of the flowers was almost overwhelming and they buzzed with the sound of bees moving from plant to plant, satiating themselves with the sweetest pollen.

The furthest part of the garden was Harry’s favourite. This part of the garden was wilder, more natural, although Harry knew it was no less lovingly cared for. Neville had let nature take its course in this area, and Harry marvelled at the sight as he wandered into the small wildflower meadow. The plants here grew unencumbered by the restrictions of borders, the tallest grasses and flowers reaching up well past Harry’s knees. Bright yellow meadow buttercups mixed with pure white ox-eye daisies, the clear blue of the bugles contrasting beautifully. Harry loved the wildness, the way the bees and small birds flocked to this area, the way that being here would have everything else fade into the background. It felt as though he was miles from civilisation, like he could walk for hours without seeing another soul. He always felt so free here. One day, when he was older and settled, he would buy himself a cottage, deep in the countryside, somewhere ramshackle but full of love and comfort, and he would ask Neville to make him a garden like this, somewhere he could escape to whenever life got too much.

Harry settled himself on a bench that was tucked beneath a small willow tree on the edge of the meadow, sighing with relief as he sunk into the dappled shade provided by the long trailing branches. He loved the summer, was more than happy to see it after the cold of winter, but several hours spent in the humid heat of the midday sun had him in desperate need of respite. He could just about hear the chatter of his friends up at the other end of the garden, far enough away that no words were distinguishable, but he let the low murmur of their voices wash over him, a quiet reminder of all the people he loved. Above that he could hear the beautiful melodies of the birds sitting in the trees around him, a bright cheerful sound that made his heart swell. He wished that he could stay in this moment forever.

The peace was broken by the muffled sound of approaching footsteps, pulling Harry out of his contented daze. He turned his head, shielding his eyes from the glare of the sun with a raised hand, and was met by the sight of Malfoy picking his way gently through the meadow.

All his resolve to avoid a confrontation for Neville’s sake faded into nothingness as Malfoy’s intrusion into his sacred space made anger rush through Harry.

‘For Merlin’s sake, do you have to be everywhere?’ Harry said, getting up from the bench.

‘How on earth was I supposed to know you were down here? I didn’t see any sign saying ‘Potters only’,’ Malfoy retorted, immediately rising to the challenge in Harry’s tone.

‘Why are you even here at all?’

‘I was invited, Potter, and it’s polite to attend events you’re invited to, not that you know anything about politeness.’

‘Fuck you, Malfoy.’

‘Oh very witty, what a mature, highly intelligent response.’

‘You can’t just hide for 10 years and then turn up to things expecting to weasel your way into everyone’s lives and expect people to be happy about it!’

‘Believe me, I have no interest in weasling my way into your pathetic life. I’m here for Blaise, that’s it,’ Malfoy said, unaware of the way his words made Harry’s insides twist. Here was proof, if any more was needed, that Malfoy really did want to completely forget about what had happened.

‘Yeah, sure, since when have you ever done anything for selfless reasons?’ Harry snapped.

‘You know what, Potter? I don’t have to put up with this. You don’t know anything about me, or my life, so you can’t stand there making judgements about me based on your biased childhood memories. You might have been the hero who could do no wrong at school, but you don’t have Dumbledore and McGonagall to protect you from the consequences of your actions now, and I don’t have to stand here and take this.’

‘You’re right, you don’t, so fuck off, Malfoy.’ Harry finished, shouting loudly now, not caring that his voice was probably carrying over to his friends.

His good mood completely evaporated, he stormed past Malfoy, past his open-mouthed, astonished friends, and out of the garden. Once he was on the street outside Neville’s house, past the bounds of the anti-apparition wards, he spun on the spot, wanting nothing more than to get away from Malfoy and out of this damned heat.

Things didn’t improve over the next few weeks. If anything, they got worse. Sometimes Harry felt like laughing at the state of it all. Ten years since he had died to save the world, and what did he get for it? A tireless, thankless job that reminded him every day of how much evil still existed, a house that hated him and seemed determined to sweat him out of it, and friends who were evidently going mad, based on how much they suddenly seemed to like Slytherins.

Apparently his dramatic exit hadn’t ruined Neville’s barbecue. Hermione had turned up at Grimmauld Place the following day, hands on hips and eyes blazing as she told Harry off for his ungracious ‘and, quite frankly, childish’ behaviour. Harry hadn’t said anything, not wanting to make her even angrier than she was, but had privately thought to himself that Hermione needed to stop spending so much time at the Burrow - there were clear shades of Molly shining through as she told him off.

‘The thing is, Harry, I know you don’t like Malfoy,’ she said, raising a hand to shush him as he opened his mouth to protest, ‘and I won’t deny that you have good reasons for not liking him. He was awful to you, and to me in case you’d forgotten, when we were younger.’

‘He called you a mudblood, Hermione, and joined the Death Eaters. I think that counts as worse than ‘awful’,’ Harry said petulantly.

‘He apologised to me about that, actually,’ she said quietly, absentmindedly rubbing her hand along the curve of her growing stomach.

‘What?’ Harry was taken aback. Malfoy didn’t apologise. ‘When?’

‘After the trials.’

‘But that was years ago! Why didn’t you tell me?’

‘I don’t know,’ Hermione mused. ‘I suppose it felt private, like something that should be kept between the two of us rather than being shared with the world.’

‘But I’m not the world, I’m your best mate. I can’t believe you didn’t tell me.’

‘I thought about it, Harry, trust me. But you don’t understand what it was like after the trials, what you were like.’

When Harry didn’t say anything, just looked at her questioningly, Hermione sighed and continued.

‘It’s easy to forget - being unwell can do that to you - but you weren’t in a good place, Harry. You’d had to relive all the horrors of the war during those trials, after spending months attending funerals and doing what you thought you had to as the Saviour. I don’t think you realise how much it took out of you, putting on that act, being who the public wanted you to be.

‘And then the trials and the funerals were over, and, well, you fell apart a bit, and none of us really knew how to help you. Without that role to play you wandered, and drifted, and it felt like we were losing you. You broke up with Ginny and never really explained why, and before we could figure it out she was off on the other side of the country training all hours of the day with the Harpies, and you’d withdrawn, spending hours in this godforsaken house, barely talking to anyone, Ron and I included.

‘So, the right time to tell you just never appeared. I didn’t want to add anything more to the burden you were carrying during the trials, didn’t want to say anything that would remind you of the past even more, and then afterwards, well. None of us knew what might push you over the edge. You were only just coping, and I didn’t want to make it worse. So I didn’t tell you. It just didn’t seem important enough at the time, and then too much time had passed, and it didn’t seem worth bringing Malfoy up again.’

Hermione trailed off, eyes bright as she watched Harry. It was always hard, hearing about those months after the war, and each time he was shocked by how much his friends had been affected by his behaviour. He knew he’d been ill - multiple mind healers had confirmed that it had been a natural reaction to the intense trauma he’d undergone, but there was still a small kernel of guilt that remained lodged in his chest when he was reminded of the effect he’d had on his friends.

He reached out a hand to clasp Hermione’s, the diamond on her engagement ring digging in to his palm. He remembered going shopping with Ron to pick out that ring, how excited Ron had been, how much Harry had hoped that one day, maybe, he’d be able to ask Ron to help him do the same. That hadn’t happened yet, obviously, but Harry still held out hope that one day he’d meet the right person, the way Ron and Hermione had.

‘It’s alright, Hermione. I know I can get a little… crazy when it comes to Malfoy. It’s fine that you didn’t tell me, honestly.’

Hermione chuckled at his extreme understatement, but smiled and squeezed his hand in return, acknowledging his last words.

‘But that doesn’t mean I have to like hanging out with him! I can maybe, maybe, accept that he’s not pure evil like he used to be, but that doesn’t mean I want him lurking at every social event from now on. I don’t care who Neville’s sleeping with or how happy they make him, that’s not enough for me to put up with that pointy git.’

‘Oh, Harry, you don’t ever change, do you?’ Hermione laughed. When Harry just looked at her, perplexed, she shook her head and carried on. ‘You don’t have to be friends with him, you don’t even have to talk to him if you don’t want to! But, please, try and be civil, or at the very least try and ignore him? For Neville’s sake?’

‘Fine,’ Harry huffed exaggeratedly, ‘for Neville.’

‘Good,’ Hermione said. ‘Now, is anywhere in this house cool? It’s like an oven in here, and my temperature’s already messed up enough as it is thanks to this baby.’

‘The house hates me, so no, it’s hot everywhere. This is the coolest room, actually,’ Harry said, no venom in his voice. He had long given up caring about the disdain his house showed for him. ‘We could try the garden though? There might be a bit of shade out there.’

‘Help me up then,’ Hermione said, holding out a hand to Harry, all tension between them forgotten already.

It had been several weeks since Harry had been able to attend the Gryffindor pub night. Work had kept him incredibly busy, and on the one Friday night he’d had off since the anniversary celebration he’d been so tired that he’d fallen asleep on the sofa as soon as he got in from work, missing the pub completely. But tonight Harry didn’t have to work and he’d adamantly refused to sit down once he arrived home, reasoning that if he didn’t get comfy, he wouldn’t run the risk of falling asleep. He wasn’t quite tired enough yet to fall asleep standing up, which had happened on occasion in the past.

The heatwave was still going, outlasting even the most optimistic forecast, meteorologists across the country unable to explain why they were having such an un-British summer. The pub they frequented wasn’t far from Harry’s house, so he decided to walk and make the most of the weather. It was one of those balmy evenings where the power of the afternoon sun is just about lingering, still warm enough to be outside in just a t-shirt but a much more bearable temperature than it had been earlier in the day.

The streets were full, people who had spent the day hiding behind drawn curtains and sitting in front of fans persuaded out by the prospect of fresh air and the lightest of breezes. Harry walked past children playing happily on scooters and bikes, giddy at being allowed to stay up past bedtime. The parks and gardens he passed rang with the shouts of young men kicking footballs around, cries of ‘oi, ref!’ rising above the sounds of birds and children’s laughter.

Harry felt better than he had in weeks. The cooler summer evening air was like a balm to his frazzled mind, the relief at being out of his sweltering house and free from work until Monday morning making his spirits rise dramatically. He made his way slowly to the pub, not wanting to rush the walk, reluctant to go back inside and leave the fresh air. Soon though he turned on to the busy high street where ‘their’ pub was located. The bars lining the road were busy, people spilling out onto the pavement, music blaring out of windows opened wide to try and let a hint of breeze inside.

Harry pushed his way past the people smoking outside the doorway to the White Swan, eyes taking a second to adjust as he entered the dim, country-style pub. A cursory glance around the clusters of tables revealed none of his friends, so he made his way to the double doors leading to the beer garden, waving hello to the barman as he went. He loved this pub, loved the way it never changed, even through all the years they had spent drinking here. There was something so comforting about its slightly dilapidated decor, the christmas lights still hanging along the rafters even now, the material on the seats worn through years of use. He loved the way all kinds of people gathered here, drawn together in search of a comfy stool and a good pint, the way the regulars knew him well enough to wave now, and the way the barman knew his tastes well enough to suggest a beer that was newly on tap.

Most of all, he loved the way that this place, however worn and slightly grimy it might be, brought his friends together. Rain or shine, every Friday night they would make their way here, ready to share stories from their week or chat shit about Quidditch, a tradition that had long outlasted their need to distract themselves from the lingering effects of war with beer and company. As they’d got older, as jobs and partners and families had started to demand more and more of their time, it became rarer to get everyone together at once. Most weeks saw a fairly large group of his school friends squashed around a table, but there were usually at least one or two people missing.

Tonight, though, seemed to be one of the rare occasions when everyone had turned up. As Harry walked back out into the blinding sunlight of the beer garden, a shout of ‘Harry!’ rose up from one of the tables to the far left. Shielding his eyes from the sun he wandered over to the table that his friends had commandeered. The whole gang was there; Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, Dean, Seamus, and even Luna, who flitted in and out more than the rest of them, forever off on another trip to some unusual country. Judging by the empty glasses littering the table the others had been here for some time, an impression that was only reinforced when Seamus pulled Harry down on to the bench next to him and slurred, ‘Harry, guess what? I just downed this pint in less than 30 seconds! Tell him, Nev!’

‘Oh, wow, well done, Seamus,’ Harry laughed, shaking his head at the state his friend was in already. ‘How’s it going, Hermione?’ he said, turning to Hermione who was sat on his right.

‘Oh, you know, the usual, too hot and too sober to be here, but apart from that, fine,’ Hermione chuckled, the tiniest hint of actual annoyance in her voice. Harry didn’t blame her; he was barely surviving in this heat, he had no idea how she was coping at all. ‘It’s nice to see everyone though, it’s been too long since we all got together,’ she added.

‘I guess the heat is making people drunker than usual, it’s been a while since I’ve seen him do that,’ Harry said, indicating Seamus, who was now trying to create an elaborate tower out of discarded glasses, coasters, and sauce bottles.

‘It’s the dehydration,’ Hermione said, knowledgeable as always. ‘You think Seamus is bad, it’s Neville and Ginny you need to look out for. They’ve been giggling away over there for a while now, and that can’t be good.’

Harry looked over to the other end of the table, where Neville and Ginny were indeed laughing, heads bent together as they whispered to each other. Harry knew Ginny better than almost anyone else in the world, and he knew that expression. It did not bode well.

‘They’re plotting something,’ he said to Hermione.

‘Oh dear, do you think we should be worried?’

‘Maybe. What were they talking about before I got here?’

‘I don’t really know, I could only hear snippets over the sound of Seamus and Ron arguing about Quidditch again. I did hear Blaise and Pansy mentioned though,’ Hermione finished, looking a little apprehensive.

‘God, I need another pint then,’ Harry half-joked.

Before Harry could get up from the table though, Ginny stood up, only swaying slightly.

‘Be quiet, everyone,’ she said, waving her hands wildly to get their attention. ‘Neville and I have an announcement!’

‘I thought you were dating Blaise, Neville,’ Dean joked.

‘Not that kind of announcement,’ Neville laughed.

‘Drum roll please,’ Ginny requested, Seamus quickly complying, making all the glasses on the table rattle as he banged on it violently.

After a dramatic pause that went on for slightly too long, Ginny finally announced:

‘We’re going on holiday!’

She looked around at them all expectantly, the look of excitement on her face fading just a little as they all stared back at her, confused.

‘Who’s going on holiday?’ Hermione asked, voicing the confusion they all felt.

‘We are, all of us!’

‘We are?’ Dean said.


‘Why?’ Ron butted in.

‘Because it’s too hot in this city, and sweating this much is only allowed if I’m by the sea.’

‘And where are we going on this holiday? And when?’ Hermione asked again, practical as always.

‘Shell Cottage, of course. Bill and Fleur always go to the South of France in June so it’s free for us to use. We’re going in a fortnight.’

And that was that. Ginny sat down with a thump, nearly knocking over her glass as she did so, smiling happily at her plan coming to life.

‘So, are you all going to come?’ Neville said, looking around the table.

The majority of the table agreed enthusiastically, beginning to chat away about how nice it would be to spend some time by the sea in this weather, and Harry found himself swept along with the idea, saying yes before he’d really thought about it. It would be nice to get out of the city and away from Grimmauld Place while it was so hot. Only Ron and Hermione backed out of attending, quite reasonably saying that they wanted to be at home now Hermione was getting so close to her due date.

As the evening wore on, Harry found himself stood at the bar next to Neville, both charged with getting in the next round for the table.

‘So that’s what you and Ginny were plotting all evening then, this holiday?’ Harry said as they waited for the barman to get all their drinks.

‘Yeah, once she thought of the idea that was it, it was all planned out there and then,’ Neville replied.

‘She’s like that, she gets passionate about stuff quickly,’ Harry said, memories of their teenage relationship filling his mind. He knew well how Ginny could get when she was excited about something or wanted something.

‘Definitely,’ Neville agreed. ‘And she’s been trying to think of a way to get closer to Pansy for a while so when she thought of this she was always going to be excited.’

‘Wait, what?’ Harry said, confused. Pansy? What did she have to do with this?

Neville didn’t respond, too busy paying the barman and gathering together their pints. Harry grabbed his share of the drinks and hurried to follow Neville back towards the garden, catching up with him just before they reached their table.

‘Hey, Neville, what did you mean about Pansy?’

‘That’s why Ginny wants to go on holiday, so she can spend more time with Pansy.’

‘Hang on, do you mean Pansy’s coming on holiday with us?’

‘Well, yeah, hopefully. That’s the plan anyway,’ Neville said simply as they arrived at the table and began handing out drinks and crisp packets.

Harry didn’t have a chance to question Neville any further as the others pulled Neville into their conversation, leaving Harry stood to the side of the table, shocked, mind whirring as the implications of Neville’s statement began to make themselves clear.

Pansy coming on holiday presumably meant Blaise coming too - there was no way Neville wouldn’t invite him. And that meant Malfoy. He was always wherever those two went, and Harry was sure he wouldn’t pass up a chance to ruin Harry’s holiday with his irritating presence.

‘Sit down, Harry,’ Hermione sighed, tugging on his sleeve to pull him down on his seat.

‘Did you hear that?’ Harry said once he was seated again. ‘The bloody Slytherins are coming on our holiday!’

‘I know, Harry. That’s the whole point of the holiday.’

‘But how’s that going to be any fun for us?’ Harry could feel himself getting more worked up the more he thought about it. ‘Sure, it’ll be fine for Ginny and Neville, they’ll be getting laid, but what about the rest of us, who have to put up with Slytherins all week?’

‘I’m sure you’ll cope, Harry, they’re really not that bad,’ Hermione said, shooting Harry a look when he opened his mouth to retort. ‘And even if they are, this is important to Neville and Ginny, and Blaise isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so you’ll just have to get over it.’

Harry wanted to argue more, to say that it wasn’t his responsibility to suck it up, that the Slytherins should just stop being such dicks and then maybe people would like them more, but Hermione didn’t give him the chance, pulling him and Ron into a conversation about potential names for the baby.

Harry tried his best to forget about it for the rest of the evening, to stop imagining how horrible it was going to be, being trapped in a cottage with Malfoy for a week. He mostly managed to chat away to his friends and have a good time, but in the back of his mind the annoyance he felt about his hijacked holiday was stewing, gaining strength, biding its time before it exploded.

All week Harry brooded on the Slytherin invasion of his holiday. The heat still wasn’t letting up, the sun only burning stronger. It had been weeks since they’d seen any rain and the ground was parched, all the lawns browning as plants and flowers wilted sadly under the burning rays of the sun. The idea of getting away, of being on a beach and enjoying cool coastal breezes in between cooling dips in the sea should have been something to look forward to, to dream about.

Instead, the mere thought of the holiday had Harry’s hands curling into fists, his blood boiling as he imagined how unbearable Malfoy would be all week, how hard it would be to spend so much time together with no escape.

Even worse than that though, were the thoughts that snuck into his mind late at night, always breaking through however hard he tried to suppress them. The memories of that day at Hogwarts still hadn’t faded, and now they twisted in his brain, morphing into images of the two of them, together, just as they had been at Hogwarts, but now on a deserted beach, or in one of the rooms of Shell Cottage.

Lying there, in the sweltering heat of his room in Grimmauld Place, achingly hard but refusing to give in to the temptation to touch himself, Harry began to doubt his feelings about the holiday. The idea of not hating Malfoy was so foreign that he could hardly consider it, and it was only in those moments as he finally drifted off into a fitful sleep, filled with dreams of skin and heat, that he could admit to himself that maybe that hate was fading and being replaced by something else.

It was a stressful week, Harry’s inability to sleep without frequently waking up hard and sweaty combined with the effort of keeping his thoughts away from Malfoy leaving him in a particularly bad mood. When Friday finally came he very nearly sacked off pub night, well aware that he wouldn’t be good company and far too tempted by the thought of a cold beer at home before a long sleep. But then he got home from work and discovered that he didn’t have any beer or food at home, and that somehow, even though it seemed truly impossible, his house had got even hotter.

The walk to the pub was far less pleasant this time, Harry’s mood casting a shadow over everything he saw. The children running around were shrieking too loudly, the crowds spilling out of the pubs too drunk and surrounded by stinking clouds of smoke that clung to his hair and clothes. There was no breeze this time, the air thick with heat and pollution, making every step feel like walking through a thick soup, each tiny bit of progress forward draining the life out of him. Summer in the city was the worst when it was like this, leaving t-shirts stuck to backs and hair plastered to foreheads with sweat. Harry nearly turned back on multiple occasions, only the thought of his boiling house giving him the energy to push on.

After what felt like an eternity, he finally made it to the pub, breathless, dripping in sweat, and desperate for a cold drink. A quick, discreet cooling spell later and Harry felt vaguely more human, although the heat was so strong that the spell dissipated after only a minute or two, leaving him feeling almost as hot and sweaty as before.

The pub was roasting inside, too old to be equipped with air conditioning, the building designed to retain warmth for the cold English winters rather than to deal with a summer like this, and Harry was relieved to note that his friends were nowhere in sight, obviously having managed to grab one of the coveted outside tables again.

At the bar Harry ordered a glass of water and a pint, downing the water where he stood, the blessedly cool liquid a relief to his overheated system. Picking up his pint, the condensation on the glass dripping down over his fingers, he made his way outside, quickly spotting his friends crowded around their table. He was about to walk over when he suddenly took in what he was seeing.

The table was so crowded because of the extra people there. And one of those people was immediately recognisable thanks to his blond hair, the sunlight bouncing off it making it almost blinding white.


Harry stood staring, grasping his pint glass so tightly his knuckles went white. First they stole his holiday, and now his pub night? This was going too far.

The frustration that had been bubbling under the surface all week, that had been aggravated by the unbearable heat all day, began to break free. Almost spilling his pint with the speed and aggression of his movement, Harry stormed over to the table, fully prepared to give Malfoy and his lackeys a piece of his mind.

As always though, Hermione was too quick for him. She had obviously seen him coming and got Ron on the case, for suddenly Ron was there, blocking his way to the table, suggesting that Harry come and join him and Hermione in a tone that implied Harry had no choice at all in the matter.

Harry found himself sat at the opposite end of the table to Malfoy, sandwiched in between Ron and Hermione who had obviously decided that their only job for the evening was to look after Harry and stop him causing a scene. Harry knew they were only being nice and doing what they thought was best, but that didn’t stop him silently fuming about them treating him like a child who couldn’t control himself. He tried to chat with them, but his mind just kept wandering, leaving him out of the loop as he missed whole chunks of the conversation.

From where Harry was sitting, Malfoy was clearly visible, although not directly in Harry’s line of sight. He was sat next to Pansy and Dean, who at first looked slightly uncomfortable with the arrangement, but who gradually seemed to relax judging by the way he started smiling more, and even laughing. That was annoying Harry; he couldn’t hear what was being said so he couldn’t be certain, but it appeared that Malfoy was funny, judging by the bursts of laughter coming from that end of the table. And that just wasn’t alright. Malfoy was snooty, and pretentious, and mean. He most definitely wasn’t funny.

Harry was getting more and more annoyed as he watched Malfoy chatting with his friends, at his pub, disrupting his life. Harry had thought that once school had finished he would be shot of Malfoy, that he wouldn’t have to see the blond git again for the rest of his life, but now he was here, worming his way into Harry’s life and stealing his friends and worst of all, pretending like nothing had happened between them.

He had no idea how Malfoy couldn’t sense the way Harry was glaring at him, how Malfoy couldn’t feel Harry’s eyes burning into him as he stared. But Malfoy hadn’t even looked at Harry since he’d arrived, resolutely ignoring his very existence, a fact which bothered Harry more than it should have. It was him and Malfoy for christ’s sake! How could Malfoy not have any reaction to him at all, after all those years of intense hatred? And after that one, bizarre, unexpected… wonderful afternoon? How could Malfoy just sit there, as if their history didn’t exist at all?

Draining the rest of his pint, Harry slammed down his empty glass. He couldn’t do this anymore, couldn’t sit there and watch Malfoy charm his friends when he knew how much of an arsehole he really was.

‘I’m going home,’ he grunted to the table at large, not really caring who heard him, or indeed if anyone did at all. He didn’t want them to try and persuade him to stay, didn’t want them to ask him what was wrong or why he was leaving early. If they did, he wouldn’t be able to keep it in, the roiling emotion inside him would burst out, and who knew what that would result in.

However much he claimed he didn’t care, Harry couldn’t stop himself glancing over to see if Malfoy had heard his announcement. A burst of satisfaction exploded in him as he noticed that, for the first time all evening, Malfoy was looking directly at him. The expression on Malfoy’s face was unreadable, his grey eyes giving nothing away as they locked on to Harry’s. Something, maybe anger, maybe something else, something he didn’t want to think about, churned in Harry’s stomach as their eyes met, and he quickly turned away, stuttering out his goodbyes and stumbling over his feet as he walked away from the table.

All week Harry toyed with the idea of cancelling on the holiday, of coming up with some excuse as to why he had to stay at home. As he always did when he was struggling with a decision, he took to driving the streets late into the evening, windows wound down as far as they would go in an attempt to harness some kind of breeze.

There was something about driving that let his mind move past the noise that filled it all day and focus in on what was truly bothering him. He’d first discovered that trick a year or so after the war, when he’d been filled with an overpowering urge to flee, to escape.

Running, his usual method of taming that urge, just wasn’t working, and he found himself getting more and more frustrated, his temper easily snapped, his emotions coiling tighter and tighter, just waiting for the moment to explode. It just wasn’t sustainable - he couldn’t cope with the constant mass of emotions churning through him all day, but it took a really quite embarrassing meltdown over dinner at the Burrow to make him realise that.

It had been Arthur’s idea, the driving lessons. After Harry’s explosion over dinner, triggered by a seemingly inconsequential comment from George, Arthur had gently suggested that he and Harry take a walk around the garden. As they walked, Arthur had talked to Harry about the first war, his parents’ war. Harry had never truly stopped to think about how that war might have affected Arthur and Molly - that war was too tightly tangled in thoughts of his parents for him to really consider anyone else.

But Arthur talked, and Harry realised for the first time that they weren’t the first group to go through this. As he listened to Arthur describe how it had felt, not knowing whether your friends and loved ones were still alive, never sure if today would be the day he would come for you, Harry had felt close to tears at hearing his own thoughts being spoken by someone who truly understood them. Arthur talked about how terrifying it was to be raising children in that situation, how each time Molly tearfully announced another pregnancy he couldn’t stop himself worrying that they were pushing their luck, that no one could be this happy during a war without suffering the consequences.

They talked for a long time, far more freely than they ever had before, two war ravaged men, speaking as equals rather than parental figure to not quite son. By the time they had finished their slow loop around the Burrow’s extensive gardens both men’s eyes were red rimmed, their voices hoarse as the emotions threatened to overpower them. Just before they reached the back door, preparing themselves to reenter the fray, Harry asked the question.

‘How on earth did you deal with all that?’

When the question slipped out of his mouth, almost without thinking through what he was saying, Harry hadn’t known that the answer would change his way of processing his feelings entirely.

‘Well,’ Arthur had begun, taking Harry’s rather flippant question very seriously. ‘I’m not sure I did deal with it. You just had to get on with your life, for as long as you had it. There was no other option.’

And then, after a pause in which Harry just looked at Arthur, not saying anything.

‘But, I suppose if you mean how did I relieve a bit of the stress, well, I drove.’

‘You drove?’ Harry repeated, confused.

‘Yes. I’d already taken driving lessons - far more practical than apparating everywhere with so many children - but as the war went on I found myself going for more and more drives on my own. Not to get anywhere in particular, you understand, but just because it was time away, in the quiet, where I could think, could process everything that was going on around us.’

‘Did it work, the driving? Did it make you less stressed?’

‘I suppose it did,’ Arthur said as he opened the door and gestured Harry back inside. ‘Not much, but enough to get through it all.’

After that conversation, Harry hadn’t been able to get the idea of driving out of his head. He was in desperate need of a way to clear his mind, and living in the centre of London made flying, the only thing that had worked in the past, very difficult. And so Harry had spent months taking lessons with a very patient Muggle called Lin, learning all about clutches and gears and the rules of the road. The lessons themselves helped - it was hard to think about the horrors of war when you were trying desperately to find the biting point of the clutch and remember who had priority on a roundabout. But it wasn’t until the first time Harry took a car out at night on his own after he passed his test that he truly understood what Mr Weasley had meant.

As he drove slowly through the centre of London, bright lights shining in the darkness all around him, the bustle of the world still visible but silenced by the car’s windows, Harry found himself slowly starting to relax. The tension fell from his shoulders, his mind quieting properly for the first time since, well, since he had found out about Voldemort. It had made all the difference, those late night drives through London, and the day trips into the countryside where he spent hours wending his way through picturesque villages and towns. He didn’t know how he would have survived those turbulent post war years, if it weren’t for that escape.

Harry spent hours that week driving, through the bustling streets of London and out into the countryside, watching the way the scenery changed as he escaped the city limits and ventured deeper into the rolling hills. It was as he drove through a quaint little village, taking in the locals chatting in their gardens while they soaked up the rays of the evening sun, that he came to his decision. He was fed up of the city, of the way the mass of buildings and people seemed to make the heat more intense, and he was fed up of work and his stupid hot house that just wouldn’t cool down. He needed to escape, and an hour or so in the car just wasn’t enough anymore. He was going on this damned holiday, and Malfoy would just have to stay out of his bloody way.

Chapter Text

To Harry’s great relief, after a week spent chasing after more sun-crazed criminals and taking endless cold showers as he attempted to stay cool in Grimmauld Place, the time came to leave for their holiday. His friends were all apparating or taking the Floo to Shell Cottage, far too accustomed now to wizarding modes of transport to consider any others. Harry, though, was determined to drive, the journey an important part of the relaxation he needed from the trip, but no one had taken up his offer of a seat. In the end, Harry was glad of it, as he could then do the journey his way, no one in the back to complain about the length of time it was taking or the windy roads he chose.

He set off from London early in the morning, the sun not yet out in full force, the dew still clinging to the grass bordering the pavement. The roads were blissfully quiet as he made his way out of London and on to the motorway, and he felt the stress of the past few weeks begin to lift from his shoulders as he slowly started to slip into holiday mode.

The hours went by quickly as he made his way down to Cornwall, a refreshing breeze whipping into the car through the open windows, the radio blasting out tune after tune that he insisted on singing along to, despite his complete inability to hold a tune. It was exactly what Harry had wanted from the drive, and he found himself beaming as he meandered through the twisty lanes of Devon and Cornwall.

Harry pulled up at Shell Cottage in the middle of the afternoon, the sun now high in the cloudless sky, glinting off the sea that was visible behind the house. The cottage looked beautiful, the whitewashed walls and thatched roof like something off a postcard, the wild flowers in the front garden in full bloom. It was idyllic.

He could hear voices in the back garden, and so made his way around the side of the house to find everyone, grabbing his suitcase from the car as he went.

‘Harry!’ Ginny exclaimed as he rounded the corner into the lush back garden. ‘We were starting to think you might never make it,’ she added as she leapt from her seat and wrapped him in a big hug.

‘I took the scenic route,’ he laughed, disentangling himself from her arms.

‘Come and have a drink, you must be tired from all that driving,’ she said, pulling him over to the table and pouring him a large glass of Pimms. ‘You can take your stuff upstairs later, have a sit down first.’

Harry complied, sinking into a deck chair and taking a sip of the cool drink she handed to him. He closed his eyes and turned his face up to the sun, letting the heat warm his skin as he listened to his friends chat around him. Coming on holiday had been the right choice, he thought. He didn’t see enough of his friends these days, now that they were all so busy with families and jobs and boring adult life, so the prospect of a week to hang out together with no distractions was wonderful. It was just a shame Ron and Hermione had understandably had to stay at home, even though Harry was extremely excited to have another godchild to get to know.

He was jolted out of his pleasant reflections on being a godfather by a painfully familiar drawl, his stomach flipping over at the sound. How on earth had he forgotten about Malfoy being here? He blamed the sun, the Pimms, and the tiring drive for making him so forgetful. Opening his eyes and blinking in the blinding sun, Harry looked around until he spotted Malfoy and Pansy walking out of the house, laden down with snacks and drinks that they put on the table.

‘Potter,’ Malfoy said, nodding his head in Harry’s direction before turning to Ginny and inquiring about the location of the bottle opener.

Harry stared in silence for a moment, taken aback by the civility of Malfoy’s greeting. He considered saying hello back, Hermione’s warning to be civil ringing in his brain, but the moment had passed. Wary, unsure of how Malfoy was going to behave, Harry turned back round and sunk into the depths of his deck chair, deciding that figuring it all out could wait until he felt a bit more with it. For now, the sun and a nap were calling him.

Harry drifted off to sleep quickly, the toll of all his hot sleepless nights over the past month quickly catching up with him as he half listened to the indistinguishable murmurings of his friends. He dozed for what could have been minutes or hours, pulled in and out of sleep by the occasional laughs of his friends, the heat of the sun and the gentle breeze ensuring that he was the perfect temperature for the first time in weeks.

The sound of Dean calling his name woke Harry up.

‘You must have been exhausted!’ Dean said as Harry got up, rubbing his eyes as he tried to wake himself up fully.

‘Guess so,’ Harry replied. ‘How long did I sleep for?’

‘About an hour I reckon. Didn’t really count though. Anyway, dinner’s ready, thought you wouldn’t want to miss that.’

Harry looked around and realised that dinner was indeed ready. Everyone was sitting around the rickety tables further down in the garden, and the tables were covered in bowls containing all manner of salads and jacket potatoes and pasta dishes. Harry followed Dean down to the table, and slid into one of the remaining seats, leaving the one next to Seamus for Dean. He cursed internally as he realised that he had ended up with a seat down the same end of the table as Malfoy, Pansy, and Blaise. Thankfully Neville was sat next to Blaise - Harry would just have to speak to him throughout dinner and try and pretend the Slytherins weren’t there.

Once he had a plate full of a selection of the food Neville and Seamus had cooked, Harry tucked in, focusing on eating in an attempt to avoid having to make conversation with the Slytherins. Blaise was telling them about a project he was currently working on, and Harry couldn’t help listening, drawn in by Blaise’s deadpan impressions of his extremely fussy client. He even had to stifle a few laughs, not wanting to give away the fact that he was paying attention.

Malfoy had no such problem though, and was laughing freely as Blaise spoke. Harry didn’t think he’d ever heard Malfoy laugh before. At least, not laugh like this. He’d heard him laugh meanly at people, more of a sneer than a laugh, but this was different. This laugh was light, and carefree, and poured out of Malfoy as though he was powerless to stop it. Harry couldn’t stop listening to it, and began to tune out the words of the conversation, focused in so intently on Malfoy’s laugh. Harry had never imagined that Malfoy could be capable of a sound like that, so happy and full of life, and Harry had a sudden overpowering desire to hear more of it, maybe even to be the cause of it.

Harry barely noticed what he was eating, distracted by Malfoy’s presence, and before he knew it the plates were being cleared away and everyone was getting up from the table. Neville and Blaise announced that they were going to go for a walk along the beach, and Dean and Seamus were cracking open more bottles of beer. Harry was full and tired, and his head felt all mixed up from listening to Malfoy laugh throughout dinner, so he decided it was time to call it a night.

‘Hey, Gin,’ he said. ‘Which room am I in?’

‘Oh, um, you’re the second door on the right,’ Ginny said, a strange looking crossing her face as she spoke. ‘But-’

‘Cheers,’ Harry interrupted, turning and walking towards the house, keen to have a shower and get to bed. He didn’t want Ginny to try and persuade him to stay outside, or worse, get trapped in a conversation with her and Pansy and Malfoy.

He walked through the familiar kitchen of Shell Cottage and up the stairs, smiling as he took in the photos arranged along the staircase. Mismatched frames contained family shots of the Weasleys throughout the years, Fred and George as mischievous 10 year olds giving way to the new generation, shots of Rose on Ron’s shoulders mixed with photos of Bill and Fleur’s kids. It all added to the way this house felt so homely straight away, like the best bits of the Burrow transported to a beautiful spot by the sea.

The bedroom Harry had been put in was small but cosy, decorated in cool blues with a large window looking out towards the sea. There were two single beds separated by a vintage looking bedside table, one of which had an unopened suitcase resting on it. Harry dropped his suitcase onto the bed nearest the window and pulled out his shower stuff, looking forward to washing off the heat of the day.

After a refreshing shower, Harry wandered back to his room, roughly towelling his hair until it was even more of a mess than usual. The door to his room was shut, and Harry kicked it open without stopping to wonder why it might be shut. Harry quickly discovered why the door had been closed though, when he walked smack into a shirtless Draco Malfoy.

‘What the fuck, Potter?’ Malfoy burst out, grabbing a t shirt from his suitcase and dragging it quickly over his head.

‘What are you doing in here?’ Harry said, the sight of Malfoy’s bare chest leaving him frozen in shock.

‘Getting changed, clearly,’ Draco replied slowly, as if Harry was a particularly young child.

‘Wait, you’re the one I’m sharing my room with?’ Harry said, suddenly catching up with what was going on.


‘No way.’ Harry finally moved, the anger sparking in him breaking him out of his shock. ‘Just, no. I refuse.’

‘Believe me, I’m not happy about it either, but unless you want to sleep in that pile of scrap you call a car, this is it.’

Harry frantically tried to come up with a way to get out of this, tried to think of somewhere else he could sleep, to find a way to rearrange the sleeping arrangements so that he shared with anyone else, anyone other than Malfoy. However hard he tried though, he kept coming to the conclusion that this was indeed the only option. Most of the others were couples, Pansy and Ginny the only other single people who had come. Malfoy would probably be alright sharing a room with Pansy, but it would definitely be more than a little odd to share with Ginny again, however well they got on as friends these days.

‘Fine. Fine. I’ll stay in here,’ Harry said, not bothering to hide the frustration in his voice. ‘But don’t expect me to be happy about it.’

‘Fine by me,’ Malfoy replied sharply, before striding out of the room, leaving Harry staring at the spot he had just been stood in.

Harry got into bed, not caring that it was still early. The prospect of a week sharing a room with Malfoy had brought back all his doubts about the holiday, and he was beginning to regret having come. There was no way he was going to be able to spend a week in such close proximity to Malfoy without the two of them coming to blows. And there was a tiny part of his brain, a part that Harry was trying to silence, that wondered how he would cope with sharing the same room as Malfoy after what had happened between them at the anniversary service. However much Malfoy seemed determined to act as though it had never happened at all, Harry couldn’t forget about it. He had no idea how he was going to survive a week sleeping just feet away from Malfoy, not now he knew how Malfoy looked when he was about to come, not when he could still remember the sounds that had fallen unchecked from his lips.

It felt like Harry had been lying there for hours by the time Malfoy came back. He’d tried, really tried to get to sleep, but he was too keyed up, too frustrated by the unpleasant turn this holiday had already taken, and if he was being honest, too jittery about the prospect of sleeping in the same room as Malfoy. Questions kept sneaking into his mind, unbidden. What did Malfoy wear to sleep? Pyjamas, or boxers? Did he snore? What did he look like in the morning, with his hair mussed and eyes bleary? Harry didn’t think he could cope with knowing those things about Malfoy. It was easy while it was just inconvenient sexual fantasies about someone he hated. Finding out more about the Malfoy who laughed so freely with his friends was going to be a different kettle of fish entirely.

When he heard Malfoy saying goodnight to Pansy outside the door, Harry rolled over so that he was facing the wall and screwed his eyes tightly shut, trying to do his best impression of someone who had been sleeping peacefully for hours. He wasn’t sure he was particularly convincing - acting had never been his strong suit - but if Malfoy realised, he didn’t say anything. Instead, Harry listened, frozen in position, hardly even daring to breathe, to the sounds of Malfoy dropping clothes on the floor and pulling back the covers on his bed before sliding in. Malfoy rustled around for a few minutes, making noises that sounded like he was punching the pillow in to shape and tossing and turning, before falling still and quiet. Malfoy seemed to drop off to sleep quickly, his breathing falling into a slow and steady rhythm. Harry was clearly not going to be so lucky, and resigned himself to yet another sleepless night.

Harry must have finally drifted off to sleep at some point during the early hours of the morning, as when he opened his eyes, it was to an empty room, the only sign of his roommate the rumpled bed sheets and the shirt still lying on the floor. The sight of the crinkled sheets where Malfoy had slept did funny things to Harry’s insides, things he insisted were called anger, and he cursed Malfoy yet again for coming on this holiday and leaving him without a minute of peace, even in his bedroom.

Bleary-eyed and nearly tripping on the loose floorboard at the top of the stairs, Harry made his way down for breakfast, letting out a sigh of relief when there was no sign of Malfoy in the kitchen. Instead, he was greeted with a table covered in cereal boxes and pastries, and he happily set to devouring a danish, his spirits starting to lift.

‘Morning, Harry,’ Ginny said, wandering into the kitchen from the garden. ‘You must have been knackered, I’ve never known you to lie in this late before.’

‘Er, yeah, I guess so,’ Harry hedged, not wanting to admit the thoughts that had kept him up the night before. ‘It’s this heat, I suppose.’

‘It’s going to be scorching again today, apparently,’ Ginny said through a mouthful of croissant. ‘We’re gonna take a picnic down to the beach, go swimming in the sea and all that.’

‘Sounds good,’ Harry said as he polished off the last flakes of pastry on his plate.

‘Hurry up and get ready, the others have been up for hours and Seamus is desperate to get down to the beach so he can teach Malfoy and Blaise how to play football.’

Mind unable to comprehend the thought of Malfoy of all people playing football, Harry did as he was told and dashed upstairs to get ready, donning his swimming trunks and a loose t-shirt and grabbing a towel to lie on. He thought he’d been pretty quick, but even so the others were all stood at the door waiting for him, Dean exaggeratedly looking at the space on his arm where a watch should go as Harry flew down the stairs.

‘About bloody time, mate,’ Seamus said. ‘Come on, let’s go, it’s gonna take me ages to explain the offside rule to these bloody poshos.’

The beach next to Shell Cottage was beautiful, soft sand stretching as far as the eye could see and leading down to the sea, the small waves crashing gently on the shore. It was still relatively early in the day but Harry could feel the heat in the air - it seemed to be on track to be the hottest day they’d had yet. The beach was almost empty apart from their group, just a few dog walkers visible further down the sand, the dogs frolicking happily in the surf, their excitable barks just about audible, carried by the nearly nonexistent breeze. All in all, it was a beautiful day to be by the seaside.

That is, except for the company.

Harry was trying, honestly, really, really trying. But there was just something about Malfoy that made his blood boil. Harry sat on his towel, bags piled haphazardly around him, watching as Dean, Seamus, and Neville tried to teach Malfoy and Blaise how to play football. Well, maybe watching was the wrong word. It was really more of a glare. Harry should have been up there, fooling around with his mates, but there was no way he was going to join in and pretend to be all pally with Malfoy.

They might have had their brief… moment at the anniversary service, but Malfoy was still Malfoy, and that meant he was still a prick. He might have apologised to Hermione for calling her a mudblood, but he’d never said a word to Harry about all the years he’d spent being awful to him when they were at Hogwarts, let alone said sorry for his part in the war. The others might be able to forgive and forget and be perfectly content letting Malfoy worm his way into their gang, but Harry wasn’t going to be so easy, however good Malfoy might look in his beach clothes.

‘Stop glaring, Harry, you’ll hurt yourself if you keep straining that hard,’ Ginny teased.

‘I’m not glaring,’ Harry said, unable to tame the knee jerk reaction to defend himself.

‘Sure, I believe you,’ Ginny said sarcastically.

Harry didn’t bother responding, focusing his attention once again on Malfoy, who was now slowly kicking the ball to Blaise, who missed it completely.

And really, Harry thought to himself, where did Malfoy get off, suddenly acting like he was interested in Muggle sports? He hated Muggles for God’s sake! And yet here he was, playing football while dressed head to toe in Muggle clothes! Harry had just assumed that there would be some wizard version of beach clothes, probably something unbearably old fashioned and uncomfortable knowing wizarding fashion, but instead Malfoy looked like something out of a catalogue, dressed in dark blue board shorts and a white t shirt that was ever so slightly tighter than it really needed to be. It didn’t really seem right, that Malfoy should adopt Muggle clothes and hobbies so easily after years of being horrible about everything related to Muggles.

Harry stubbornly resisted all the calls for him to join the game, claiming he was too hot, or didn’t feel like playing, or was too full from their picnic. He knew they were all looking at him weirdly, knew he was bringing down the mood of the day, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. After all, it was Malfoy’s fault, not his.

Eventually the burn of the sun on his shoulders persuaded Harry to stop sulking, the glistening sea calling out to him with promises of cool relief. Harry hadn’t been wrong in thinking that it was going to be hot - even with the slight sea breeze Harry was sure it was the hottest day yet. He might be hating large portions of this holiday but he thanked his lucky stars that he wasn’t sat sweating in the city today. He could just imagine how unpleasantly sticky his office and house would be, and how overheated and grumpy he would be if he was trying to work. But here he could throw himself headfirst into the sea, the shock of the cold water shaking him out of the bad mood he’d been in since they’d arrived at the beach.

The water was indeed cold, far colder than it had looked when Harry had been sat sweating on the beach, but it gave him some much needed respite from the rays of the sun. He tipped on to his back and floated, eyes closed, letting the sun warm his face, the shouts of his friends’ football game fading into the background. It was peaceful, the water gently rocking him from side to side and almost lulling him into a trance. Harry felt more relaxed than he had in ages, all his Malfoy related stress disappearing without a trace as the tension of his real life faded into nothingness, the world shrinking just to the feel of the water on his skin and the sun on his face.

A ball thwacking into his exposed stomach ruined all illusion of peace however, the thud causing him to lose his balance, leaving him flailing in the water, confused at being brought back down to earth so suddenly.

‘Shit, sorry, Harry!’ Ginny shouted, her hands over her mouth in shock. ‘I didn’t think it would actually hit you!’

‘You’re a bloody Quidditch player, what did you expect?’ Harry responded once he had righted himself, although he was still too relaxed from his float to be properly angry.

‘I forgot?’ Ginny shrugged, a look that Harry recognised as her trying to play innocent crossing her features.

Harry just laughed, chucking the ball back at her and swimming closer to the shore until he could stand, the water lapping around his ribs.

‘You want a game, then?’ he said, a look of challenge on his face.

‘You bet,’ Ginny replied, throwing the ball forcefully back at him, starting off an intense game of catch that had them diving left and right as they attempted to outplay each other.

Harry loved it when they were like this; they’d always bounced off each other well, particularly in competitive situations, and he was so glad they hadn’t lost it when they broke up. He was having such a good time that he almost managed to avoid looking over towards the beach at Malfoy. Almost, but not quite. There was just something about Malfoy that always drew his attention. There always had been, ever since they were young. Harry had thought it was hatred that had caused his hyper awareness of Malfoy, but he was beginning to wonder if maybe he’d interpreted it all wrong.

When the sun began to dip in the sky, they packed up their stuff and began to trudge slowly back towards Shell Cottage. The long day in the sun had worn them all out, and hardly any words were exchanged as they walked home, all too focused on the prospect of showers and bed to chat. The only exception was Ginny and Pansy, who had wandered off ahead of the others, walking closely together as they talked. Harry let out a small chuckle that had Blaise and Neville turning around to look at him curiously. Typical Ginny - once she knew she wanted something, she was going to do everything she could to get it. Harry was sure that Pansy would be on the receiving end of one of the patented Ginny Weasley blazing looks soon enough.

Harry lingered outside when they got home, not wanting to be trapped in that small bedroom with Malfoy for any longer than he had to be. He settled himself on a bench that looked out over the sea, and found himself thinking back to the first time he’d been here, all those years ago. It felt so long ago and yet like no time had passed at all. So much had changed, and yet sometimes Harry felt like he was still the same person. The world had moved on, the war reduced to something that was remembered once a year, but it had never left Harry. So much of his life still revolved around it. Sometimes he wondered what his life might have been like had he not been the chosen one, if he hadn’t been born to fight in a war that he wanted nothing to do with. He thought it would probably be different. He probably wouldn’t be an Auror, spending all his days chasing dark wizards, unable to shake the feeling that this was something he owed wizarding society. Maybe he would still be with Ginny, their relationship stronger and more secure when it wasn’t built on a foundation of war and the fear that this was the only chance he might get. He certainly wouldn’t be sat outside trying to avoid his school rival.

Sighing, Harry got up, realising it was ridiculous to still be sat out here just because he didn’t want to see Malfoy. It wasn’t like him to avoid doing things that scared him, and this was just Malfoy, not dementors or Voldemort.

The house was quiet as Harry let himself into the kitchen, everyone else having headed to bed long ago. Treading carefully so as to avoid creaking floorboards, Harry made his way up to his room, praying that Malfoy would already be asleep.

As often seemed to be the case, however, Harry was not in luck.

He pushed open the door gently, and was confronted by the sight of Malfoy sat up in bed, a book open on his lap and a pair of glasses resting on his nose. The domesticity of the scene surprised Harry - he’d never expected to see Malfoy looking so casual, so off guard. The very idea that this was maybe how Malfoy looked when he was in bed at home had his blood rushing through his veins, a heat beginning to build in his gut.

Malfoy looked up as Harry came in, a sneer spreading across his face as he looked at him.

‘Decided to stop hiding in the garden finally?’ he said.

‘I wasn’t hiding,’ Harry responded, the heat in his veins rapidly morphing from desire into anger at Malfoy’s tone and mocking words.

‘The great Harry Potter, too scared to share a room with me. I’m honoured.’

‘Oh, shut up, Malfoy, get over yourself,’ Harry snapped. His ruminations on the war in the garden had left him feeling tender and bruised, leaving him with an even more tenuous grasp on his temper than usual.

‘Me, get over myself?’ Malfoy said in a tone of astonishment. He closed his book and sat up straighter, clearly getting ready to fight. ‘I don’t think I’m the one who needs to get over myself. You’re the one who’s been glaring at me all day.’

‘Well you shouldn’t have come here! You can’t just start turning up to places you aren’t wanted, stealing people’s friends and acting as though you’ve never done anything wrong.’

‘Oh, poor Harry, worried that your friends are going to like me more than they like you?’ Malfoy mocked, strongly reminding Harry of the Malfoy he had loathed as a teenager. ‘I mean, I wouldn’t blame them if they did.’

‘They’ll never like you, Malfoy. They’re just being nice to you for Neville’s sake. They won’t ever forget what you did in the war,’ Harry spat back. ‘They’re never going to like a Death Eater more than me.’

‘Fuck you, Potter,’ Malfoy shouted, no longer caring whether the others could hear them. ‘You think you’re so great, so special because of what you did, but guess what? The war was 10 years ago. People have moved on, and nobody cares about what you did back then anymore.’

Harry was suddenly lost for words. Malfoy had always had a horrible ability to find the spot that hurt Harry the most and prod it until he couldn’t take anymore. It was as though Malfoy had read his mind as he’d sat out in the garden, thinking about how everyone apart from him had moved on from the war, and had decided to hurt Harry as hard as he could by throwing it in his face.

‘Fuck this.’ Harry stormed over to his bed and grabbed his duvet and pillow. ‘You say everyone’s moved on, and yet you’re still as much of a prick as you were when you were Voldemort’s lackey.’

Without a backwards glance to see how Malfoy responded to those words, Harry stomped out of the room and down into the living room. The sofa was too short for him to stretch out on comfortably, and it was far hotter down here than it was in his room, but there was no way in hell he was sleeping in there tonight.

Harry tossed and turned for hours, the anger still racing round his body too strong to let him sleep, the sofa too uncomfortable for him to settle. The argument kept going round and round in his brain as he kept thinking of new things he wished he’d thought to say to Malfoy. The others might be willing to let him off the hook for all the terrible things he’d done in the war, but there was no way Harry would. Malfoy deserved to suffer for what he’d done.

The next day Harry was woken by the sounds of Neville and Blaise pottering around the kitchen, starting to set out breakfast for them all. He lay on the sofa, back aching from the uncomfortable cushions, and listened to them chat as they made tea. He felt a momentary pang of jealousy as he listened to the way they talked so easily, joking around and pausing mid sentence to kiss each other. Harry missed that, the easy domesticity of a happy relationship. It had been too long since he’d experienced it, and however hard he tried to bury himself in work and being a godparent to Teddy and Rose, it couldn’t fill that hole in his life. He tried to pretend he didn’t want it, that he was happy on his own, but Merlin, he wanted it, badly.

Unbidden, an image of the kitchen of Grimmauld Place popped into his mind, a kitchen that was brighter and more welcoming than he had ever seen it in real life. He imagined himself stood at the oven, cooking one of his famous fry ups, the room filled with the smell of sizzling bacon. In his head, a pair of pale arms slid around his waist from behind, kisses dropped along the curve of his neck, a warm body pressed tightly up against his. A tall, lean, distinctly masculine body, a body that he absolutely refused to admit might be Malfoy’s.

Harry felt heat pooling in his groin at the thought, and his jealousy of Neville and Blaise only grew as he thought about all the things he was missing out on by staying resolutely single. Maybe he needed to think about going on some dates when he got back home. Maybe then he’d be able to wipe the memory of that broom cupboard from his mind, stop the images playing on a loop every time he closed his eyes.

The sound of footsteps coming down the stairs jolted him out of his daydream, and he hurriedly pulled his knees up, praying that the effects of his fantasy wouldn’t be visible to anyone else. Pansy and Ginny walked straight past him, barely seeming to notice him, too busy giggling at something Pansy had said. They really hadn’t lost any time in getting it on apparently. Merlin, did everyone have to be happy and in love? This holiday was just getting worse and worse.

After breakfast they went back to the beach again, Harry keeping a clear distance from Malfoy. They hadn’t said anything to each other at breakfast, purposefully choosing chairs at the opposite end of the long wooden table, and they continued to steer clear of each other for the first few hours at the beach. Fed up of watching all the couples frolicking in the water and tired of trying to avoid Malfoy, Harry decided to go for a walk along the beach.

He walked in the shallow water, the freezing seawater on his feet contrasting sharply with the warm air. As he walked, he looked around him, taking in the steep cliffs covered in gently waving grasses and the rockpools teeming with sea life. He walked as far as the mouth of the river that fed into the sea, his feet sinking in the wet sand as he watched schools of tiny silver fish swim in the water.

The image that had popped into his mind while he listened to Blaise and Neville was still playing around in his brain, a deep sense of longing, a yearning desire, building in his gut. He felt almost sick with how badly he wanted to experience that for himself, how desperately he wanted to be with another person who he could reach out and touch whenever he wanted.

The thoughts he had been trying to keep at bay since the memorial service were flooding back, memories of Malfoy's gasps and moans, the taste of him so vivid that Harry's mouth started to water. Harry could still feel the hard stone floor against his knees, could still recall exactly how silky soft Malfoy’s skin had been as Harry stroked and licked his cock. The memory was so clear it was like watching it in a Pensieve, every detail still so sharp in Harry’s mind.

As Harry lost himself in memories of Malfoy, he began to walk back up the beach towards his friends, barely conscious of where he stepped, too caught up in the parade of images flooding his brain. The shouts of his friends gradually became louder as they came into view, all splashing in the sea, their bags long abandoned on the sand. Pansy was riding on Ginny's shoulders, and Dean and Seamus were playing a game of catch that seemed to mostly just involve tackling each other in an attempt to dunk the other under the water.

But that wasn't what drew Harry's eye.

Harry couldn't look away from Malfoy who was standing in the shallows, just slightly apart from the rest of the group. He was clad only in his swimming shorts, the wet material clinging scandalously to his surprisingly well muscled thighs, the droplets of water on his bare chest glinting in the sunlight. He looked like something out of a fantasy, too perfect to be real. The longing that had been bubbling under Harry's skin all day couldn't be contained any longer, and he found himself gasping at the force of the desire that hit him as he stared at Malfoy.

Aware that he was stood frozen a few metres away, Harry forced himself to move, trying desperately to shake off the haze of lust that had overcome him. On shaky legs he approached Malfoy, stopping just short of being next to him.

Up close it only got worse. Harry could make out each individual water droplet dripping from Malfoy's damp hair and snaking down his chest, the water highlighting the acres of pale, faintly scarred skin. The only hint of the heatwave they'd been enduring for weeks came in the form of a light dusting of freckles across Malfoy's sharp collarbones, so faint that you wouldn't notice them if you weren't looking closely. But Harry was looking.

Harry couldn't stop his eyes wandering further down, gaze raking over the smattering of golden blond hair that trailed enticingly down into Malfoy’s swimming trunks. Harry could picture exactly what Malfoy looked like under those trunks, the image of his cock seared indelibly into Harry's mind, so clear that Harry was sure he'd never forget it. His heart was pounding in his chest, the desire he felt for Malfoy almost a physical ache. He longed to reach out and close the distance between them, to lick the droplets off his skin and snake a hand into his bathing suit.

And then, the biggest shock of all. Malfoy’s hair, still damp from the sea but starting to dry in the heat of the sun, was no longer the pin straight locks Harry was used to spotting in crowds. Instead it was loose around his face, strands falling down almost into his eyes, and it wasn’t straight at all. The humid air combined with the salt left by the sea had Malfoy’s hair springing up into beautiful curls, so soft looking that Harry ached to touch one, to see if it would spring back into place if he gently tugged on it. It was more than he could cope with, that hair, another hint of that softness that he’d glimpsed when he’d seen Malfoy reading in bed. It made the desire so much worse somehow, the longing becoming something more than just sexual as Harry imagined running his hands through Malfoy’s hair and pulling him in for a kiss.

Malfoy turned his head to look at Harry, catching Harry in the act of staring unabashedly at him. Harry momentarily considered looking away, attempting to hide what he had been doing, but then he reconsidered. Let Malfoy catch him staring. Malfoy had been in that broom cupboard too, after all. Surely he couldn’t be as unaffected by Harry as he was trying to appear.

For a long moment they both looked at each other, Harry not bothering to try and hide the heat in his gaze. The expression on Malfoy’s face was complex, his lips downturned in almost a frown, his brow creased, but a hint of something, maybe interest, visible in his eyes. As they looked at each other, Harry felt something build between them, the spark that had always characterised their interactions building into something stronger, fiercer. The desire racing through his body had him almost gasping for breath, fingers reaching for something to hold in an attempt to weather the storm raging inside him.

Malfoy was the first to break eye contact, looking back out towards the sea without a word to Harry. The only sign that they’d even interacted was the way Malfoy’s chest rose and fell ever so slightly faster than normal, a sign that Harry clung to in his desperation to not be alone in this maelstrom of desire.

Harry was quiet for the rest of the day, letting the conversation wash over him during dinner, only speaking when he was asked a direct question. He’d found himself seated at the opposite end of the table to Malfoy, and his eyes kept tracking over to the other man of their own accord. It was like being back at the Gryffindor table all over again, unable to stop himself thinking about Malfoy and what he was doing at any given time.

Looking back it was laughable that Harry hadn’t realised what that meant sooner. His feelings towards Malfoy were still complicated - he hadn’t forgiven him yet for the war and his meanness as a child, and he still felt anger rise in him at the memory of Malfoy on the astronomy tower, or when he remembered the way Malfoy had pretended nothing had happened between them. But mixed in with all that hate and anger was a clear and unmistakable stream of lust, rising and falling in strength, but ever present.

Harry’s introspection continued all evening, and he and Malfoy hardly exchanged a word as they took it in turns to get ready for bed. The atmosphere from the beach was still present, a charged energy hanging in the air between them, both aware of it but both refusing to acknowledge it.

By the time Harry got into bed, immediately turning to face the wall so that he didn’t have to deal with the sight of Malfoy sat reading in his pyjamas and glasses, he was a nervous wreck. The constant state of anticipation and want that he’d been in since the beach was taking a toll on him. His skin felt like it might combust at the slightest touch, and yet he wanted nothing more than for Malfoy to crawl into his bed and touch him everywhere, setting his skin aflame as he went.

The thought of Malfoy in the bed next to him, so close yet so far, was torture. Harry’s whole body ached with the need to go over there and kiss him, touch him, taste him. It took all of Harry’s willpower to stay in his bed, the challenge only increasing as he heard the sounds of Malfoy closing his book and sliding down into his covers, getting ready to sleep.

Harry lay still, facing the wall, eyes screwed tightly shut as he tried to resist the temptation to touch himself. He’d been hard for what felt like hours, the mere presence of Malfoy enough to send his blood rushing south, and his cock ached with the need for relief. He couldn’t give in, couldn’t touch himself with Malfoy so close by, but Merlin he wanted to.

He lay like that for a long time, listening to the sounds of Malfoy’s deep, even breathing and the owls hooting outside. He felt like he was outside of time, nothing mattering in the world apart from the two of them in this tiny room. It was the sweetest agony, the anticipation of what might come warring with the fear that maybe all his fantasies would turn out to be nothing more than dreams. Even as he slept he couldn’t escape, his dreams full of endless images of Malfoy, the two of them moving together, breath mingling as they gazed at each other, intertwined so tightly it was impossible to tell where he ended and Malfoy began.

The shock of the cold breeze on the top of the cliffs woke Harry up properly where coffee and a cold shower had failed. He’d been in a daze all morning, his dreams leaving him confused and unsure of what was real and what was imagined. He’d barely heard everyone discussing their plans for the day, agreeing with whatever was suggested to him, still too caught up in thoughts of Malfoy to care.

They were walking along the coastal path that wound its way from the beach along the headland, fields full of clover and grazing cows on one side, a steep drop down to the crashing waves below on the other. It was beautiful, only small fluffy cloud trails like candy floss visible in the sky, birds freewheeling overhead, the breeze cutting through the oppressive heat.

And yet Harry barely saw any of it. He couldn’t stop watching Malfoy, who was walking a few feet ahead of Harry, engrossed in conversation with Neville. Every so often the odd word would drift over to Harry on the breeze, and he soon pieced together enough to figure out they were talking about how certain plant properties could be used to enhance the effectiveness of specific potions. Harry’s interest was momentarily piqued - he was vaguely aware that Malfoy had set up a potions business, but really he knew very little about the man Malfoy had become in the years since the war. But then Malfoy would laugh, or turn slightly so that more of his profile was visible to Harry, or his hair would get caught in the wind, and all curiosity would be forgotten, Harry returning to simply staring at him, chest aching with need.

Harry was slowly beginning to realise that this desire that had suddenly overtaken him had been building ever since the anniversary, and maybe even for longer than that, a slow smouldering flame that had now turned into a roaring inferno, charging through his veins and setting all his nerves alight. He’d tried to deny it for so long, tried to ignore the dreams, and the way the image of Malfoy always snuck into his mind as he wanked. But there was no way to ignore it any more. He couldn’t pretend that the very sight of Malfoy didn’t have heat pooling in his stomach, his cock thickening in his trousers as his heartbeat kicked up a gear at just the thought of kissing him again. All he wanted to do was to get Malfoy alone, to press him up against a wall, grind against him, taste him, make him come undone, moaning Harry’s name as he did so. Harry had never experienced need like this, had never felt something so all consuming and terrifying. He had no idea how to deal with it, or how it was going to end, but for now he was going to make the most of every opportunity he got to drink in the sight of Malfoy, and he would worry about the practicalities of falling for his worst enemy later.

Harry was so caught up in his thoughts, his eyes fixed on Malfoy, that he kept nearly tripping, not paying attention to the loose stones beneath his feet. After an incident that had him wobbling dangerously near the cliff edge, Harry tried his best to pull his attention away from Malfoy and focus more on the path, but even his best efforts couldn’t stop his gaze drifting over towards Malfoy every few minutes.

They paused at a lookout point, a spit of rock that jutted out from the headland into the sea. It was truly picturesque, the kind of view that could take your breath away, and Harry’s friends were oohing and ahhing as they stood on the furthest point, peering over the edge to take in the power of the waves at the base of the cliff.

Harry hung back, too wary of tripping over in his distracted state to want to get that close to the sharp, jagged rocks that the waves were crashing over. To his surprise, Malfoy didn’t move towards the edge either, instead lingering just a few steps away from Harry. Harry was studiously trying not to look over to Malfoy, not wanting to give away his feelings with longing stares. Out of the corner of his eye however, he noticed that Malfoy kept glancing over towards Harry, opening his mouth slightly as if to speak, before snapping it shut and turning back to look out to the sea. After five minutes of this, Harry couldn’t take it anymore. His mind had been coming up with increasingly outlandish ideas of what Malfoy might want to say to him, and he couldn’t bear not knowing any longer.

‘What, Malfoy?’ Harry said, his tone coming out sharper than he intended as a result of the nerves bubbling in his stomach.

‘I should be asking you that,’ Malfoy responded. ‘You’re the one who keeps staring.’

‘I do not!’ Harry said, reflexively lying to protect himself.

‘Yes, you do,’ Malfoy said flatly. ‘I know you’re not happy I’m here.’

Harry was so shocked and extremely relieved that Malfoy had misconstrued his stares that he didn’t respond, leaving Malfoy to continue his train of thought without interruption.

‘I know you still don’t like me, that you hate what I did and what I stood for, but I was invited here, so I’m going to try and enjoy it, which would be much easier if you stopped glaring at me all the time,’ Malfoy finished pointedly.

Harry’s instinct was to argue back, the familiarity of a confrontation with Malfoy leading him back in to old patterns. But then he saw the way Malfoy’s hair was curling as it rested on his collar, a hint of gentleness and softness that made him pause, reminding him that everything had changed, that if he attacked Malfoy now there would never be any hope of a repeat of their time in the broom cupboard. Harry also couldn’t deny that he was curious to find out if Malfoy had changed as much as his friends seemed to think, and if they fell back into their habit of fighting he would never know more about the man Malfoy had become.

‘I wasn’t glaring,’ Harry said, turning to start walking back down the coastal path, hoping that Malfoy would take a hint and fall into step with him. Harry didn’t think he could have this conversation face to face. He didn’t want Malfoy to be able to read the emotions that would surely be painfully obvious on his face.

‘Well you’ve certainly been staring a lot, I could practically feel your eyes burning a hole through me today.’ Malfoy had followed Harry, just as he had hoped, and was now walking a few steps behind Harry.

‘I just-’ Harry paused, not sure what to say to explain himself. It was the perfect opening for a confession of how badly he wanted Malfoy, the perfect moment to explain that he couldn’t take his eyes off him because he was beautiful and everything Harry wanted. But Harry was too scared to say that, too unsure of how Malfoy would react, and still too worried about the unacknowledged history between them. He wanted Malfoy more than he’d ever wanted anyone before, but he still knew so little about him, and there was still so much they needed to talk about for this to have any shot at working. If they didn’t, it would inevitably go up in flames the first time there was even the slightest mention of the war.

‘Tell me what you’ve been doing since the war,’ Harry said finally, changing course, pulling the conversation away from dangerous confessions.

‘Merlin, Potter, I thought we were past this, but obviously I was giving you too much credit,’ Malfoy said sharply. ‘You might be an Auror, but I’m not a criminal, and I don’t owe you any information about my life. I’m not doing anything wrong, can’t you just leave it at that?’

‘I didn’t mean it like that!’ Harry burst out, guilt trickling ice cold through his body as he realised what his question must have sounded like to Malfoy. ‘I just meant, I’m curious about your life, that’s all.’

Malfoy was quiet for a long moment after that, the crunch of their footsteps on the gravel path and the squawks of the birds overheard the only sound Harry could hear. He was silent for so long that Harry chanced a look over his shoulder, making sure Malfoy was still there. His heart flipped as he took in the look on Malfoy’s face, his eyebrows drawn in as he bit his lip, the uncharacteristic uncertainty making Harry’s heart wrench.

Finally, just as Harry was starting to wonder if Malfoy would ever talk again, he began to speak.

‘Well. You were there for the trials, of course, so I don’t think I need to remind you about that part. And I suppose I should say thank you for speaking on behalf of my mother and me. She couldn’t have coped with Azkaban - it was bad enough that she had to see my father sent there. So, thank you for keeping her out.’

‘No problem,’ Harry said awkwardly, still as bad as ever at accepting thanks for the things he had done during and after the war.

‘And, well, thank you for keeping me out too, I suppose,’ Malfoy continued. ‘I’m not sure I deserved to be pardoned, truth be told, but for my mother’s sake I’m grateful. She wouldn’t have dealt with my imprisonment very well, and I was glad I could be there with her when my father passed.’

Harry nodded, remembering the way the papers had gleefully reported Lucius’s death, headlines shouting about the comeuppance of the notorious Death Eater. Harry hadn’t been sad - Lucius didn’t deserve his sympathy after the appalling things he had done, but he had wondered how Malfoy and Narcissa were coping. Death was an awful thing, and even the most terrible people had loved ones who would miss them, and the celebrations that had greeted Lucius’s death had rubbed him up the wrong way.

‘But anyway,’ Malfoy continued, brushing over the sadness, ‘after the trials I couldn’t really do anything. No one would hire me, of course, the mark on my arm too much for them to take. And I don’t blame them, I wouldn’t have hired me either. Taking the mark might not have fully been my choice but I could have refused, could have done more..’

‘He would have killed you though,’ Harry interrupted. ‘No one could stand up to Voldemort, and definitely not a teenager.’

‘That still doesn’t make it alright though.’ Malfoy was speaking quietly now, his voice tinged with regret. Harry slowed down slightly, reducing the distance between them until they were walking side by side in an attempt to ensure he didn’t miss a word Malfoy said.

‘I could have done more. I knew I was on the wrong side by sixth year but I was too cowardly to do anything about it, so instead I made everything worse by fixing that cabinet. I should have been braver.’

Harry didn’t know what to say, too astonished to find any words. He hadn’t known that Malfoy had regretted his part in the war so much, and he found himself wondering what he would have done if he’d known Malfoy wanted to change sides in sixth year. He knew he wouldn’t have believed it though. He was always so sure that Malfoy was up to something that he wouldn’t have trusted his remorse, would have just assumed it was a scheme to infiltrate the Order for nefarious purposes. Malfoy always had been his weakness after all.

‘But anyway, I didn’t, and I went along with all my father’s schemes, and I deserved to be punished for it, so I understand why no one wanted to give me a job. I was still living at the Manor - I didn’t want to leave my mother alone, she wasn’t doing so well, too upset about my father’s imprisonment. I needed something to keep me from going mad, to stop me losing my mind in that house that He had turned into something evil, so I started tinkering with potions, trying to see if I could improve the recipes in some way.’

They were still walking, following the trail back towards the beach, their friends entirely forgotten, far behind them on the path. Harry was completely caught up in the story Malfoy was telling him, desperate to know more about how Malfoy had spent the last ten years. He’d always been fascinated by Malfoy at school, and that clearly hadn’t changed in the intervening years.

‘And it turned out I was quite good at it,’ Malfoy continued. ‘I submitted a few articles to some journals - anonymously, of course, no one would accept them with my name on - and started getting some recognition for the discoveries I’d made. Eventually my work became good enough that people could overlook that it was me that had done it, and my name stopped being such a barrier. And that’s about it, really.’

‘Do you still live at the Manor?’ Harry asked.

‘Merlin, no. I stayed there for a few years, until Mother was more capable of living on her own, and then I got out of there as soon as I could. I have a house now, in a small town just outside of London. It’s not much, but it has a good space that I use as my workshop now.’

‘Sounds nice. I wish I could leave London.’

‘Why don’t you?’

‘I don’t know, really,’ Harry mused. ‘I’d feel bad selling Grimmauld Place - it’s all I have left of Sirius, and it would feel wrong to get rid of it, however much I hate living there. And I suppose it’s convenient for work too.’

‘If you hate it, you shouldn’t live there,’ Malfoy said, so simply, as though that was all there was to it. And it probably was that straightforward, Harry supposed. Most people wouldn’t keep living in a house that hated them as a memorial to someone who had also hated the place.

‘I suppose so,’ Harry agreed. Maybe he would look into selling once he was back in London. This summer had certainly made the idea of getting out of Grimmauld Place even more enticing.

‘Hermione said she talked to you,’ Malfoy began again after a few minutes of walking in silence.

‘She did?’ Harry said, confused.

‘She said she told you that I apologised to her. And I suppose I should apologise to you too. I probably should have years ago, really.’

Malfoy was walking next to Harry now, the narrow path forcing them so close together that their arms brushed every so often, Harry’s nerves painfully aware of each tiny bit of contact. It was surreal, talking to Malfoy so civilly like this, touching on the painful history between them without it devolving into a fight. Add to that the way they were close enough that Harry could easily reach out and intertwine their fingers, and Harry felt as though he was in some kind of alternate reality, a world where Potter and Malfoy could get along, where this could almost be viewed as a romantic walk along the cliffs shared by two people who wanted each other.

Malfoy stopped walking all of a sudden, grasping Harry’s arm to make him stop too. The spot where Malfoy’s hand touched Harry’s bare skin burned, the ghost of Malfoy’s touch lingering long after he let go.

‘I am sorry, Harry. For what I did. For not fighting for the right side. I’m so, so, sorry.’

Harry didn’t know what to say. He’d never expected Malfoy to actually apologise, and he wasn’t prepared for the way he felt at hearing Malfoy say those words.

‘Thanks,’ he stuttered out eventually, stomach still feeling strange from hearing Malfoy apologise and from the way that Malfoy had looked at him earnestly as he did so.

‘And I guess, I’m sorry for being such a dick earlier, when you first started hanging out with us. I hate what you did in the war, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get over that, but I don’t hate you, not anymore,’ Harry added, conveniently omitting the fact that he was still mad at Malfoy for implicitly rejecting him after their tryst.

Slowly, an uncertain look on his face, Malfoy reached out a hand towards Harry, who looked at it for a moment, confused, before realising what Malfoy was doing. Praying that his hand wasn’t too sweaty or shaky, Harry reached out and grasped Malfoy’s hand, finally sharing the handshake that Malfoy had wanted so badly when they were children.

Harry’s stomach flipped as he felt the smooth skin of Malfoy’s palm, his slim fingers wrapping around Harry’s hand. Even that innocent contact was enough to get the blood racing around his body, the mere thought of what that hand might feel like around his cock enough for him to start to harden. The uncertainty on Malfoy’s face transformed as they shook hands, morphing into something deeper, a flash of heat in them that Harry half thought he’d imagined.

The handshake lasted for slightly longer than it needed to, Harry suddenly reluctant to end the contact between them, unaware how badly he’d been needing it up until that very moment. Only the sound of their friends catching them up eventually broke them apart, finally looking away from each other, both slightly pink cheeked.

‘You should have come and looked over the cliff mate, it was epic!’ Seamus said to Harry, flinging an arm around his shoulder, completely unaware of the moment he had just interrupted.

‘There was a seal - it was so cute,’ Ginny added.

‘Oh, well I’m sad I missed it,’ Harry lied. He wasn’t sad at all - his stomach was aflutter with butterflies and his only regret was that his friends had interrupted him and Malfoy. Who knew what might have happened had they not arrived, how those intense looks and lingering touches might have transformed into something beautifully reminiscent of their moment at Hogwarts.

As the group walked back along the beach to Shell Cottage, Harry noticed that Malfoy kept glancing over his way, every look sending a charge up Harry’s spine. Maybe Malfoy hadn’t forgotten about their fling after all. Maybe he might even want to repeat it too.

Getting ready for bed that night was torture. Malfoy had drifted upstairs not long after Harry, and was now changing into his pyjamas just metres away. It was killing Harry, the glimpses of pale skin so tempting but still so out of reach. He desperately wanted to walk over there, pull off the t-shirt that Malfoy had just put on and sink to his knees, worshipping Malfoy until he was sobbing out Harry’s name.

Harry’s loose pyjama bottoms did nothing to disguise the painfully hard erection that just being near a half naked Malfoy had provoked, and so he shuffled awkwardly over to his bed, keeping his body angled away from Malfoy. Only once he was safely under the covers did he risk looking over to the other bed, and he was very grateful for the protection of the duvet when his dick throbbed at the sight that greeted him.

Malfoy was clad only in a tight white t-shirt and skin tight black boxers, every inch of his body outlined by the clothes. His hair was loose and falling around his face, still messy from the wind earlier that day, and he had put his glasses on again, ready to read in bed. It was too much for Harry, the sensuality of Malfoy’s body combined with the domesticity of his glasses and hair. It was just about bearable when all he wanted from Malfoy was a blisteringly good orgasm, but seeing him like this made Harry want more, made him want the scene in the kitchen from his imagination. He wanted it all so badly he ached, every cell in his body yearning to kiss Malfoy and claim him as his own.

Unable to look at Malfoy any longer in case he lost control of himself and followed his instincts into the other bed, Harry turned to lie on his back, staring up at the ceiling. He tried to think of other things, going as far as to count the hairline cracks visible in the white plaster, but it was an impossible task. He was hyper focused on the sounds Malfoy was making in the other bed, each rustle of paper as Malfoy turned a page in his book making Harry’s heart leap, each movement of Malfoy’s making his pulse jump with the unlikely hope that maybe Malfoy was getting out of his bed and moving over to Harry’s.

But of course, Malfoy didn’t slide into Harry’s bed. He just sat and read for what felt like forever, each longing infused minute lasting a lifetime for Harry. He wanted to scream, or to run, or to do anything at all that might relieve the anticipation coursing through him, but instead he lay frozen in bed, still staring at the ceiling and trying desperately to ignore the ache of his persistently hard cock.

Finally, finally, Malfoy broke the tension.

‘Mind if I turn the light off, Potter?’ he said, Harry’s heart kicking into overdrive at the sound of Malfoy’s voice before the meaning of the question sunk in.

‘Uh, yeah, of course,’ Harry croaked out, mentally kicking himself for getting his hopes up that Malfoy might have said anything else.

‘Goodnight, then,’ Malfoy said as he flicked the light switch, plunging the room into darkness, broken only by a thin strip of light sneaking through a gap in the curtains.

‘Night,’ Harry said, trying to sound normal.

The room fell silent as they prepared to sleep. The sound of Harry’s pulse was roaring in his ears, so loud he was worried that Malfoy might be able to hear it too.

‘Malfoy,’ Harry said suddenly, the word falling out before he could stop it.

‘What, Potter?’ Malfoy muttered sleepily.

‘Do- do you remember it?’ Harry stuttered, his brain screaming at him to stop talking now but unable to prevent the words forming. ‘The-, you know, us, at the memorial, I mean.’

Malfoy was silent for a moment - possibly the worst moment in Harry’s life as he began to panic, terrified that he’d ruined everything by mentioning it again after Malfoy had explicitly said they should pretend it had never happened. Why had his brain decided to say that? Things were just fine as they were, why did he think it was a good idea to bring it up, just as they were starting to get along?

Harry was so consumed with worry that he very nearly missed Malfoy’s response.

‘Of course I do,’ Malfoy whispered. ‘How could I forget?’

Harry was stunned into silence. He thought he’d detected a wistful tone in Malfoy’s response, but he wasn’t completely convinced he hadn’t imagined it, so desperate for any hint of Malfoy returning his interest.

He was frozen in shock for so long, mind racing with the possibilities of what Malfoy’s statement could mean, that by the time he opened his mouth to respond, Malfoy was already snoring gently, dead to the world.

The next day, Harry began to notice things that suggested perhaps he really had heard a longing tone in Malfoy’s voice, giving him hope that maybe this thing wasn’t as one sided as Harry had feared.

Malfoy was long gone by the time Harry woke up, and he took advantage of having the room to himself to indulge in a wank. He’d been turned on all week, the proximity to Malfoy combining with the memories of that day at Hogwarts to leave Harry in a constant state of almost painful arousal.

He’d woken up hard, as he usually did, and as soon as he realised he was alone, Harry slid a hand down into his pyjamas, stifling a groan at the sensation of his hand wrapping around his cock. It was bliss after so many days of being unable to touch himself, and it only took a few strokes until he was panting, already so close to the edge. It would have been embarrassing, how quickly he got close to coming, but Harry couldn’t bring himself to care, too focused on the pleasure building in his core, his cock leaking and throbbing in his hand.

Harry turned his head to look at Malfoy’s bed, at the rumpled patch in the middle that marked the spot Malfoy had slept in. His fantasies began to run through his head, dreams of getting into that bed, of running his hands over the soft skin of Malfoy’s chest, down until he could wrap his hand around Malfoy’s beautiful prick, stroking and licking Malfoy until he was shaking and begging for Harry to fuck him. The image of Malfoy writhing underneath him was so intoxicating that Harry couldn’t hold back any longer, however hard he tried. He spilled over his hand, breathing heavily and biting back the moan that threatened to fall from his lips as he came, cock pulsing over and over again, endless aftershocks racing through his body.

If Harry had hoped that a wank would be enough to reduce the lust that had been pounding through his veins all week, the way his body reacted to the look Malfoy gave him as he arrived at breakfast put paid to that theory. Malfoy looked up from the toast he was buttering as Harry walked in to the kitchen, and the way Malfoy looked at him could only be described as heated. Harry’s spent cock managed a twitch in response, and butterflies filled his stomach as he tried to maintain an air of nonchalance as he took his seat at the table.

He was distracted by Malfoy throughout breakfast - surely no one should be able to look that enticing while tucking in to a crumbly danish pastry, and yet Harry could barely take his eyes of Malfoy’s mouth as he ate. All he could think about was how desperately he wanted to kiss those lips.

Harry’s absent-mindedness continued all day. He mindlessly agreed to another trip to the beach, nodding at the suggestion without hearing a single word, the walk down to the beach passing by in a blur, all his thoughts focused on the way the sun was shining off Malfoy’s hair.

He valiantly attempted to play volleyball with Neville, Ginny, and Pansy, but his presence on the team ended up being more of a hindrance than a help, as he kept forgetting to keep his eye on the ball, his gaze instead drifting over to where Malfoy was sprawled out on a towel, soaking up the sun. After being hit on the head by the ball multiple times because he was too busy tracing the scars crisscrossing Malfoy’s chest, Harry gave up on the game, much to the relief of Ginny who had been unfortunate enough to have him on her team.

After lunch, they all flopped onto towels on the beach, too full and hot to even contemplate the idea of doing something that required moving. As the others read, lazily chatted, or napped, Harry lay on his towel, trying not to let on how close he was to losing his mind. He’d put his towel down on the edge of their group, happy not to be involved in the conversation, distracted as he was. He’d been hoping to drift off to sleep in the warmth of the sun, but just as he’d been about to close his eyes, he’d looked up to see Malfoy looming over him, a mischievous look in his eye.

Malfoy shook out his towel and laid it down right next to Harry’s, so close that they were almost overlapping. And then, to Harry’s extreme surprise, he lay down, right there, next to Harry.

Twenty minutes later, and Harry still couldn’t believe that Malfoy was lying there, cool as a cucumber, no sign that their proximity was having any effect on him whatsoever. Harry, however, was struggling. Malfoy’s arm was just centimetres away from Harry’s, so close he could almost feel Malfoy’s arm hair tickling his own. Harry’s arm burned with the awareness of their proximity, every nerve screaming out that Malfoy was just there. Harry could so easily move his hand an inch and link their fingers, or shift his foot to the right and touch Malfoy’s. Harry thought he might die, right there on the beach, if he didn’t touch Malfoy soon, but he was too terrified to make a move, his fingers frozen in place, unable to cross the gap between them that was so small yet felt so large.

Malfoy seemed to have decided that his mission for the day was to kill Harry purely through physical proximity, as he lingered near Harry for the rest of the day. When they finally summoned up the energy to have a cooling swim in the sea he stayed near Harry, their fingers brushing several times as they swam, each tiny bit of contact making Harry's heart skip a beat. On their way back up the beach, dripping wet and enjoying the way the water droplets dried in the sun, Malfoy walked so close to Harry that he could almost feel the heat of his skin as their shoulders threatened to brush against each other.

Dean and Seamus had insisted on having a bonfire that night, and so they spent an hour scouring the beach for driftwood to add to the pile of kindling. The weather was finally beginning to cool off, the blistering heat of the day replaced by a gentle sea breeze that tempered the warmth of the setting sun. Harry felt like he was in another world as he walked along the beach, looking for material for the fire. London and the stress of his job had never felt so far away, and he was suddenly filled with a great reluctance to leave this place. He might have hated the idea of this holiday, but now he was here, he never wanted to go home. The idea of going back to the hot and sticky city, of returning to his unpleasant house and exhausting job, filled him with dread. He wished he could stay here forever, in this half dream land, a world of stunning views and cool sea air. A world of Malfoy, a place where the thought of them being together didn't seem quite so insane.

Soon they had the bonfire lit, the flames reaching high into the night, sparks shooting into the darkening sky. Waves of heat drifted over to where Harry was sitting, the smell of smoke settling in his clothes, ready to remind him of this night for days. Harry found himself filled with a kind of nostalgia for the holiday even though it hadn't yet finished, the thoughts he had on his walk still playing in his mind.

Malfoy had gone back up to the house with Ginny and Pansy while Harry had been helping set up the fire, and the three of them returned bearing snacks and drinks, ready for a long night on the beach. Harry nearly choked on his beer when Malfoy sat himself down in the empty space next to Harry, far closer than he needed to be. Malfoy continued chatting animatedly to Ginny, seemingly unperturbed by the way his thigh was pressed along the length of Harry’s, his shorts riding high, revealing firm muscles and allowing the heat of his skin to sear into Harry’s.

All Harry could focus on as they ate and drank and shouted jokes across the flames, was Malfoy’s thigh. The world had narrowed to just the points of contact between them - the occasional knocking of shoulders, or the brushing of their arms as Malfoy gestured while telling a story. He couldn’t even bring himself to care if it was obvious, too far gone in the haze of lust that was flowing over him to worry about whether anyone had noticed his preoccupation. He felt as though he was overflowing with desire, the weeks of pent up longing threatening to burst their banks and explode if he didn’t get some kind of relief from the ache.

The air was cooling rapidly as thick, ominous clouds rolled in over the bay, the sky darkening quicker than usual, the orange and yellow flames of the bonfire soon becoming their main source of light, but Harry noticed none of it. He felt like he was on fire, burning with need so strong that no wind or cool air could tamp it down. As he stared into the bonfire, watching the flames dance as he catalogued every slight movement Malfoy made next to him, Harry pictured his desire as the flames, coursing through his veins with a fiery passion, consuming everything until there was nothing left but need and want and please, soon.


The word and the accompanying nudge pulled Harry out of his reverie, his stomach twisting into knots of nervous excitement as he realised that it was Malfoy who had addressed him.

‘Oh, s-sorry,’ Harry stuttered, unnerved by the way Malfoy had turned to look at him, his gaze intent. ‘Everything okay?’

‘Of course,’ Malfoy replied smoothly, making Harry curse his previous tongue-tied attempt at speaking. ‘Just wondering where you’d gone, that’s all.’

‘Oh, uh,’ Harry prevaricated, unwilling to reveal to Malfoy the fantasies that had been running through his mind. ‘Just thinking, I guess.’

‘About?’ Malfoy had raised an eyebrow, the trademark look shooting a bolt of desire through Harry’s chest and groin.

Harry hesitated, trying desperately to come up with something to say that wouldn’t be painfully embarrassing. He had a feeling that Malfoy might return his interest, a sense that had only increased after his comment the night before, but that didn’t mean he was brave enough to risk it all and admit how desperately he wanted to reach over and close the distance between them, finally kissing the lips he had been dreaming about for weeks now.

He was saved, at least momentarily, by a fat drop of rain landing directly on his nose and a loud rumble of thunder breaking out over their heads, the sound bouncing off the cliffs that surrounded the bay on three sides. The others all jumped up, hurriedly grabbing their belongings, before rushing up the beach to the safety of the house.

Harry and Malfoy didn’t move an inch. Their eyes remained locked on each other, that eyebrow still raised even as the rain began to fall more heavily around them. The air around them felt charged, the unspoken words that they had avoided all week breaking free from the prisons they had been locked away in. Unable to keep it in any longer, Harry let out the thoughts he had been hiding.

‘You,’ he whispered, only just audible above the sound of the rain hitting the ocean and the thunder that continued to reverberate around them. ‘I was thinking about you.’

‘What- what were you thinking?’ Malfoy said, his voice low, with a roughness Harry had never heard before.

Of all the things he had done in his life, this was the time that Harry needed to rely on his Gryffindor bravery the most, as he opened his mouth and said:

‘I was thinking about the memorial service,’ Harry said, hardly believing he was daring to say it aloud. ‘I was remembering the way you felt, and tasted, and sounded, and- and I was thinking about how much I want that again.’

The shocked gasp that escaped Malfoy at Harry’s words was the sweetest sound Harry had ever heard. The bonfire had nearly been extinguished by the rain that was still falling all around them, but the dying embers provided enough light for Harry to see the way Malfoy’s eyes had darkened, the pupils overtaking the grey as lust spread over Malfoy’s features. It took Harry’s breath away to see the extent of Malfoy’s previously hidden desire so plainly, mirroring the expression that was surely on Harry’s face.

‘Malfoy,’ Harry whispered, before shifting forwards the tiniest fraction, reducing the unbearable distance between them the slightest amount.

Malfoy took the hint, surging forwards, catching Harry’s lips in a breathtaking kiss, so much better than Harry could have imagined, the feeling of their lips moving together setting off sparks of pleasure over his whole body. They both scrambled to their knees, arms reaching out to grasp at the other, hands sliding into wet hair and under t-shirts, seeking skin and heat, pulling each other in tightly until they were pressed firmly against each other from shoulder to knee.

Harry could barely think as Malfoy teased his lips open, his tongue slipping in and immediately beginning to do devilish things to Harry’s mouth that had his brain completely short-circuiting, nothing feeling real but the man he was clinging to for dear life. He felt almost dizzy with it, his heart racing as his blood rushed south, his cock hardening painfully quickly against Malfoy’s thigh. As he ground forward almost unconsciously, seeking friction against his prick, a moan escaped him, completely unbidden, as he felt Malfoy’s erection digging into his hip. It was intoxicating, the thought that Malfoy wanted this as badly as he did, and he couldn’t stop his hips setting up a slow, deep grind that had them both panting and groaning into each other’s mouths.

After what felt like an eternity, but also nowhere near enough time, Malfoy pulled back a fraction, their bodies still plastered together even as they stopped kissing, gasping as they tried to catch their breath. For the first time since they had started kissing, Harry noticed the rain, a laugh escaping him as he realised that they were completely soaked through, Malfoy’s hair darker than he had ever seen it where it was plastered to his head.

‘It’s raining,’ Harry said, a crash of thunder sounding above them as if to emphasise his point.

‘I’d noticed,’ Malfoy said dryly, the small smile that threatened to spread across his face removing all malice from his tone.

A flash of lighting provided Harry with a brief glimpse of Malfoy’s kiss-swollen lips, his eyes still dark with unsated lust, the sight making Harry’s cock throb in his trousers. Kissing Malfoy was brilliant, more incredible than he had dreamed it would be, but it wasn’t enough. He needed more.

‘Shall we- bedroom?’ Harry said, a laugh escaping from Malfoy at Harry’s way with words.

‘Yes, Potter. Yes,’ Malfoy said once he had finished laughing.

Harry clambered to his feet, and reached out a hand to Malfoy, his body thrilling with the contact when Malfoy took the hand and got up. When Malfoy didn’t move to let go of Harry’s hand, he turned and began to walk up the beach to the house. As they walked the rain began to pour down even more heavily, the thunder and lightning increasing in frequency until every few seconds it seemed as though the sky was splitting open with noise and light. They began to run, feet squelching in puddles and water dripping down their noses as they raced to the sanctuary of the house and the promise of a bedroom where they could spend all night devouring each other, slaking the desire that was still vibrating and increasing in power with every touch they shared.

The house was quiet, no sign of anyone else still up, and they hurried up the stairs as quickly as they could without making too much noise, not wanting anyone else to hear them and interrupt them. Harry thought he might die if anything stopped them now.

As soon as the door to their room was closed, Malfoy was on him again, pushing him up against the door and kissing down his neck, somehow magically finding the point just above his collarbone that always made Harry weak in the knees. As Malfoy licked at his neck, his hands were sneaking under Harry’s t-shirt, pushing it up, fingertips brushing his nipples as he went, causing a shiver of pleasure to race up Harry’s spine. Moving away from Harry’s neck, Malfoy pulled Harry’s t-shirt over his head, letting it drop to the floor with a damp squelch. Malfoy had clearly noticed Harry’s reaction to the accidental nipple touch, as he ducked his head and drew one of Harry’s nipples into his mouth, gently sucking and nudging at it with his teeth until Harry was panting with need.

Gathering all the willpower he possessed, Harry pushed Malfoy off him, lamenting the loss of contact even as he reached down and pulled off Malfoy’s shirt. He immediately slid onto his knees and set to work on Malfoy’s shorts, wanting nothing more than to see all of him, finally, after so many weeks of imagining it. With fumbling fingers, he popped the button, dragging the shorts down Malfoy’s long, delicious legs, his boxers sliding down with them, Malfoy’s cock releasing with a bounce and coming to settle, long and hard and beautiful just inches from Harry’s face. Unable to resist, Harry gently licked the tip, tasting the bead of precome that was already building there, his teasing drawing a deep groan from Malfoy.

Tempted though he was to continue, enticing as it was to consider staying on his knees, teasing Malfoy until he was a quivering mess of desire, Harry forced himself to stand up, his hands falling to his own flies as he hurried to release his aching prick. Once he had shed his own soaking wet clothes, he looked up at Malfoy, who was staring unabashedly back at Harry. For a long moment they just stood there, naked, eyes roving across each other’s bodies, taking in all the details, the sharp lines of hip bones and the hair trailing down stomachs, leading to flushed and leaking cocks.

Malfoy was beautiful, there was no other word for it. Harry thought he could happily spend hours looking at him, discovering all the secrets his body held, counting the moles that were spread sparingly across his skin, finding out which areas made Malfoy ticklish, or relaxed, or turned on. Harry’s eyes kept being drawn back to the faint white lines that crossed Malfoy’s chest, already more visible than they had been at the start of the week, the faint tan he had picked up making the white lines even starker. Reaching out a trembling hand, Harry softly traced one of the thicker lines, following it as it curved from Malfoy’s collarbone down his ribcage.

‘I’m sorry,’ he whispered, emotion choking his voice.

‘Not tonight, Potter,’ Malfoy responded quietly, reaching up to stop Harry’s hand in its tracks. ‘Let’s just not think about that, not tonight.’

Nodding, Harry stepped forwards, closing the distance between them, and slid his hand from Malfoy’s chest to cup his cheek. He gently pulled Malfoy’s face down into a blissfully sweet kiss, the heat from earlier still simmering under the surface even as he tried to slow himself down, to not rush this. Malfoy sunk into the kiss, his arms coming to wrap around Harry’s waist, drawing him in even closer, so close that their cocks brushed against each other, reigniting Harry’s lust.

Harry walked them backwards, toppling them over onto one of the beds, still kissing as they went. He let out a groan as their cocks aligned, his hips automatically grinding down into the hard heat of Malfoy’s erection, a thrill racing through him at the sound Malfoy made beneath him. Harry was desperate now, so close and yet still so far from the release he craved, and he pulled away from Malfoy’s lips, sliding off the bed to come to his knees between Malfoy’s spread legs.

Gently tracing a finger up the length of Malfoy’s hard cock, he looked up at Malfoy, a question in his eyes. When Malfoy responded with a breathy please, Harry grinned and licked up his cock, swirling his tongue around the head before taking it fully in his mouth. The memories he had been wanking to for the past month hadn’t done this any justice - it was incredible, the feeling of Malfoy in his mouth, Malfoy’s moans echoing around the small room. He could have stayed there forever, bringing Malfoy to the brink with just his mouth and then backing off, listening to him plead and beg for release, but Harry needed more tonight.

Wrapping a hand around the base of Malfoy’s cock, Harry laved gently at his tight balls before moving lower, licking slowly up his crease, a guttural groan escaping Malfoy as Harry’s tongue moved over his hole. Spurred on by the response, Harry began to lick at Malfoy in earnest, occasionally stroking his cock as he focused his attention on Malfoy’s hole, slowly loosening him up, preparing him for Harry’s cock. It didn’t take long until Malfoy was muttering a stream of expletives, his legs shaking around Harry as he continued to lick and suck at his arsehole.

‘Please, Potter, more,’ Malfoy pleaded, the clear need in his voice making Harry’s cock jump.

Harry obliged, circling a finger almost painfully slowly around Malfoy’s arsehole, teasing for long moments until finally, finally, he pressed in, the heat and tightness of Malfoy’s channel so incredible. He couldn’t even begin to imagine how good it was going to feel when he fucked him.

Malfoy took his finger easily, and soon Harry was adding another, then another, marvelling at the way Malfoy was taking them so beautifully, his cock still fully hard, a gorgeous pink flush spreading across his chest and face as he lost himself in pleasure. Harry was searching for that angle that would drive Malfoy mad, desperate to find the spot that would make him lose control. He knew he’d found it when Malfoy swore loudly, hips bucking as a spurt of precum spilled from his cock, the sight driving Harry mad with lust.

Unable to wait any longer, he got up, climbing onto the bed with Malfoy, settling himself between the other man’s legs. Conjuring a palmful of lube, he slicked himself up, even the feeling of his own hand on his aching cock enough to make him moan. He lined himself up, spreading the remaining lube on Malfoy’s arse, and pressed the tip of his cock against Malfoy’s hole. Slowly, oh so slowly, he pressed in, groaning as Malfoy’s heat enveloped the head of his cock, inching in until he bottomed out, balls pressed against Malfoy’s arse.

He paused for a moment, eyes locked on Malfoy’s face, watching as the slight hint of discomfort vanished from his face, replaced instead by a lazy smile of pleasure. Malfoy opened his eyes, Harry’s heart flipping over as they looked at each other, taking in that they were actually doing this. He’d thought that the first time they fucked would be hot, and hard, and rough, all their pent up lust exploding in a burst of passion, but this was something different, something more. As they looked at each other, letting Malfoy adjust to the feel of Harry inside him, Harry was overcome by the sweetness of the moment. It was nothing like he’d imagined it would be - it was far, far better.

Move, Potter,’ Malfoy said finally, breaking their eye contact to pull Harry down into a deep kiss.

Harry did as he was told, pulling out and then pushing back in, the pleasure already so intense even after just one thrust. He had no idea how long he would be able to last, no idea how long he would be able to resist the heat already building in his stomach, but he wanted to make this good, so good that Malfoy would never forget it.

He began to set up a steady rhythm, adjusting his position until he was hitting the spot that drove Malfoy mad. They alternated between kissing and staring at each other, Harry sure that his astonishment that this was actually happening was clear on his face. He tried not to think about what else might be visible on his face, hoping that Malfoy couldn’t see the emotions that were threatening to spill over.

All too soon Harry could feel himself beginning to reach the edge, aware that his climax wasn’t far away. Not wanting to come before Malfoy, he reached a hand down and wrapped it around Malfoy’s cock, wanking him off in time with his thrusts, revelling in the moans of pleasure coming from Malfoy.

The look on Malfoy's face as he came, mouth open, eyes wide as he looked up at Harry was enough to push Harry over the edge too. He felt himself peak and then fall over the cliff, pleasure coursing through his veins, the world shrinking to the feel of Malfoy around him as he pulsed his release, nothing mattering but the two of them and the way Malfoy looked and felt and sounded as he fell apart underneath Harry.

As he came down from the high of his climax, Harry felt as though he was floating, reduced to nothing but a series of nerves alight with bliss. He'd never experienced anything like it, never even dreamed that sex could be so mind blowingly good, but now he'd experienced it he didn't know how he was ever going to be able to have sex with anyone else ever again. Nothing could live up to this, surely.

Fighting the exhaustion that was already threatening to overtake him, Harry rolled off Malfoy, mourning the loss of contact as soon as they were no longer touching.

'Can I sleep here?' he whispered when he realised they were lying on Malfoy's bed. His stomach twisted with nerves as he waited for Malfoy to reply. He didn't think he could bear being sent over to his own bed, so desperate to fall asleep wrapped together, surrounded by the feel and smell of Malfoy.

'Sure,' Malfoy responded sleepily. 'Budge over, you're taking up all the room.'

Smiling to himself, amused that Malfoy could still be a demanding prick even when he was fucked out and drowsy, Harry moved across the bed, his heart skipping a beat as Malfoy wiggled backwards until his back was pressed against Harry's chest. The last thing Harry remembered doing before he drifted off to sleep was throwing his arm over Malfoy, pulling him in even closer.

Chapter Text

A loud banging on the door woke Harry up, his heart racing as he was jolted out of his deep sleep.

It took him a second to comprehend why he was so hot, unable to process the warm mass he was wrapped around. But then Malfoy stirred, mumbling something unintelligible but clearly grumpy, and the memories rushed back.

Malfoy, moaning as Harry took him apart with his tongue. Malfoy underneath him as they moved together. Malfoy, falling asleep wrapped tightly in Harry’s arms.

The force of the memories took Harry’s breath away, leaving him gasping as desire raced through him, his lust far from sated from the previous night’s activities. Malfoy must have felt the way Harry hardened at the images running through his mind, as he slowly moved his arse, pressing back against Harry’s erection, sending sparks of pleasure shooting up Harry’s spine as he teased him.

Harry had just closed his eyes, giving himself over to Malfoy’s teasing when the pounding on the door started up again.

‘Draco, I know you’re in there!’ Pansy said loudly through the door. ‘Hurry up and get up - you promised me, remember!’

Malfoy groaned, burying his head in his pillow and pulling the duvet up to his ears in an attempt to block out the rhythm Pansy was now tapping out on their door.

‘I don’t think she’s going to go away,’ Harry whispered, not wanting to alert Pansy to the fact that they were both still in bed, together.

‘Of course she won’t, it’s Pansy,’ Malfoy sighed.

‘Please shut her up, that knocking is going to drive me mad,’ Harry said, silently mourning the loss of the morning sex he had been so looking forward to.

‘Urgh, fine, FINE,’ Malfoy said, getting louder at the end so that Pansy would hear.

He rolled out of bed, giving Harry a fantastic view of his arse as he pulled on his pyjama bottoms and t-shirt.

Holding a finger to his lips to remind Harry to be quiet, he opened the door and vanished out of sight without a word, leaving Harry behind in his bed.

Harry just lay there for a while, confused about what had just happened. Were they not going to talk about the fact that they’d slept together? Or was Malfoy operating under the assumption that the same deal applied as when they’d hooked up at Hogwarts? Was Harry supposed to just not mention it, pretend it hadn’t happened like the last time?

A hot shower provided Harry with no answers, only a slight sense of melancholy as he washed away the traces of their encounter, the scent of Malfoy that had clung to Harry as they slept disappearing under the smell of shower gel and soap. Harry knew the only way he was going to find out where they stood was by speaking to Malfoy, Hermione’s voice echoing in his mind, telling him to be sensible and just talk to him for goodness sake. He knew it was good advice - Hermione’s suggestions always were - but a large part of him was terrified that if he brought up the topic, Malfoy would reject him like he had last time. He didn’t think he could cope with that, not now he knew how incredible a night with Malfoy could really be, not now they’d finally talked and begun to put the past behind them, opening the door to the possibility of something more in the future.

In the end, the decision was made for Harry when he wandered downstairs for breakfast and saw no sign of Malfoy or Pansy anywhere. The others were gathered round the table, still chatting leisurely and nursing cups of tea, tossing around ideas for what they could do that day. Harry briefly considered trying to play it cool, aware of the wildly incorrect conclusions his friends would jump to if they heard him obsessing about Malfoy again after so many complaints about his presence on the holiday. He just couldn’t resist though, the need to know where Malfoy was burning inside him until the question fell out without conscious thought.

‘Do you guys know where Malfoy is?’ he said, to a chorus of groans.

‘He and Pansy have gone into town,’ Blaise said finally, once everyone else had quietened down.

‘Oh,’ Harry said, his mind already filling with possible reasons why Malfoy would have left him to go into town without saying goodbye. Did he regret it so much that he needed a day away from Harry? Was he plotting how to let Harry down gently, Pansy helping him come up with the perfect wording? He didn’t think he could bear it if Malfoy came back and told him they could never be together again, not after everything they had shared the night before, not after discovering how it felt to have Malfoy fall asleep with him.

The nerves consumed Harry all day, as he kept imagining Malfoy returning to the cottage and pulling him aside for a chat. He kept thinking of all the different things Malfoy might say, trying to come up with responses, reasons why they should give this a chance, however crazy it might seem. He knew he would stand no chance though, if Malfoy had decided that he didn’t want anything more with Harry - as much as he had always loved to fight with Malfoy, he wouldn’t fight with him on this. He wanted Malfoy to truly want it, to be all in, not to agree to something he didn’t really want.

All day Harry went through the motions, trying to act normal and not let on to his friends that something earth-shattering, life-changing, brain-meltingly incredible had happened. They had all trekked down to the beach once again, excited to make the most of the freshness that the storm had ushered in with games of football, and volleyball, and touch rugby, revelling in the thought of being able to move without feeling as though they were wading through a swamp. He attempted to play football, persuaded into the game by Seamus, but after he completely failed to spot the ball rolling towards him for the fifth time, he bowed out of the game, heading instead for the water.

He stood on the shore, letting the chilly water wash over his feet, listening to rush of the waves over the pebbles that lined the water’s edge. The world felt different today, the storm still present in the debris that had washed up on the beach, seaweed and driftwood having multiplied overnight. The air itself felt different in the aftermath of the previous night, the oppressive heat finally broken even as the sun peeked out from behind the fluffy clouds that remained low in the sky.

Everything was different, really, at least for Harry. Being with Malfoy had shaken something loose inside him, and now he couldn’t deny his feelings any longer. It was almost too much to process at once, the transformation of his enemy into his- his-, what? His lover? Maybe his boyfriend? Or just a one night stand, a mistake never to be mentioned again? The lack of clarity was driving Harry mad. He’d never been one to thrive in situations like this - he liked to know exactly where he stood with people, and he knew he could never compete with a Slytherin like Malfoy when it came to dealing with personal relationships. He needed directness, and honesty, not hints or avoidance. Scared though he was, he resolved to get Malfoy on his own as soon as he got back, determined to get this straightened out before he lost his mind.

Malfoy and Pansy didn’t reappear until well after dinner, wandering into the living room where everyone was sprawled on sofas in front of the TV, laden with bags from their day in town. Harry’s heart began to race as soon as Malfoy walked in the room, just the sight of him enough to create a sickening mixture of nerves and excitement in Harry’s stomach. Malfoy’s gaze flickered over to Harry, once, then twice, his face giving away nothing as he and Pansy began to tell the others about their trip into town.

It was agony sitting there, trying to act like he wasn’t seconds away from a heart attack, trying to pretend that he was interested in Pansy’s story about the shops they had visited, and the gorgeous houses they had walked passed in the village. Harry wanted to scream, wanted to yell that he didn’t care, wanted to storm up to Malfoy and ask the question that had been plaguing him all day. What are we? He wanted to shout. What are we doing? Please don’t tell me to pretend it never happened again, I can’t do that, I can’t forget it, can’t forget you, forget us.

Unable to take it anymore, completely incapable of watching Malfoy chat animatedly without sparing a glance Harry’s way, Harry decided to just go to bed and wait for Malfoy there. He wasn’t letting him off the hook; however long Malfoy wanted to sit and chat downstairs, Harry was determined to wait for him to come upstairs, desperate to finally speak to him about what was going on.

What felt like hours later, Malfoy finally came into the room. Harry had been lying on his bed, glaring at the ceiling, trying desperately to keep his cool and not let his anger towards Malfoy build to the point where he would do something he might regret, but as soon as he heard the door open he jumped up, nerves flooding his system. It was now or never.

'Where have you been?' he said, cringing as he heard how accusatory his question sounded.

'Downstairs, obviously, you saw me,' Malfoy drawled, before his tone became more conciliatory. 'Pansy wanted to go to one of the shops in town, and before we arrived I promised I'd go with her. I didn't expect it to turn into a full day of shopping.'

'Oh,' Harry said.

There was an uncomfortable silence as they looked at each other, Harry unsure what to say now, undecided as to which of his questions he wanted to ask first. They were all racing through his mind as he tried to pick one, the thought of asking anything meaningful suddenly so scary that he couldn’t bear it, the temptation to bolt out of the room without addressing their situation getting stronger and stronger.

Luckily Malfoy broke the tension by beginning to speak, putting Harry out of his misery before he could say something stupid or run away.

‘I’m sorry I left so suddenly, this morning,’ Malfoy began, eyes turned towards the ground, an uncharacteristic nervousness apparent in his voice. ‘I just -’ He paused for a moment, waving his hands in a futile gesture as he seemed to search for the words to explain what he was thinking. It was strange seeing Malfoy like this; he usually knew what to say in every situation, a snappy retort always ready and waiting. Harry wasn’t used to a nervous, unconfident Malfoy.

‘I suppose I just wasn’t ready for Pansy to know, and I knew if I was slow or did anything out of the ordinary she would guess that something had happened, so I just got on with the day as quickly as I could, trying to keep her busy and distracted. She’s always been able to read me too well,’ he finished finally.

A tiny flicker of hope lit in Harry’s chest at Malfoy’s words. He’d assumed Malfoy would have been talking to Pansy about it all day, worrying about the monumental mistake he’d made by sleeping with Harry and coming up with strategies to wiggle his way out of it all. But if Malfoy hadn’t told Pansy? And had been worried that it would be obvious that something had happened? That sounded a bit like Malfoy had been as affected by their night together as Harry been, and not in a bad way either.

‘She sounds a lot like Hermione’ Harry chuckled weakly, trying to plan what he was going to say next, weighing up whether to try and match Malfoy at Slytherin games or whether to go for tried and tested brutal honesty.

‘They’d certainly be a force to be reckoned with, if they ever became friends,’ Malfoy agreed as Harry tried to get his thoughts in order.

‘They’d have us figured out in a second,’ Harry said tentatively, hoping that Malfoy would ask the follow up question Harry wanted him to.

‘And what exactly would they figure out about us?’ Malfoy asked, exactly as Harry had wanted.

Taking a deep breath, Harry decided to go for it, risk it all in the hopes that maybe he would get the greatest reward.

‘That we had an amazing time last night. That we wouldn’t mind it happening again. That we’re - that we’re into each other.’

The wait for Malfoy’s response was agonising, Harry regretting opening his mouth when Malfoy didn’t immediately respond with enthusiastic agreement. He was beginning to think he’d completely misinterpreted the situation, worried he’d made everything unbearably awkward between them when they still had to share a room for a few more days, when at long last Malfoy spoke.

‘They would be very perceptive if they figured all that out,’ he began, Harry feeling as though he might be sick with fear and nerves. ‘But they wouldn’t be wrong, really,’ Malfoy finished, taking a step forward towards Harry.

Harry’s heart leapt, a grin spreading across his face as the meaning of Malfoy’s words sunk in. Malfoy met his grin with a slow smile, the light in his eyes showing the true extent of his feelings, even as he tried to play it cool. Harry had never been capable of playing it cool, his emotions always so close to the surface, and he couldn’t hold back any longer.

He practically ran across the room to Malfoy, pulling him into a devastating kiss, hands clutching at clothing, bodies pressed closely together but still not close enough. They fell together onto Malfoy’s bed, Harry’s thigh slotting between Malfoy’s legs as they moved against each other, chasing friction and the pleasure they had felt the previous night.

They pulled apart for long enough to hurriedly rid themselves of their clothes, seeking the feeling of skin on skin, and once again Harry was blown away by the beauty of Malfoy. He’d never seen another man who was as worthy of the word beautiful as Malfoy. His sharp cheekbones, his soft, gently curling hair, the endless acres of pale skin, everything about him combined to make him into the most breathtaking sight Harry had ever seen. He wanted to stare at him for hours, explore his body for days, discover every little feature. He wanted to count his moles and trace his freckles and discover every little place that made Malfoy tremble with need. He didn’t think he could ever get enough of looking at him.

Malfoy’s hand wrapping around his cock pulled Harry from his admiration of Malfoy’s body, the feeling of Malfoy’s long fingers encircling him making a bolt of lust shoot through him. All thoughts of looking were suddenly gone. All Harry cared about now was touch, and pleasure, and the thought of feeling Malfoy around him again.

Sliding down to his knees, Malfoy took Harry’s cock in his mouth, quickly driving him crazy as he alternated taking his cock deeply and teasing the head with his tongue. It was unbelievable, how good Malfoy was at this, how quickly he had Harry trembling and moaning, Harry’s hand gripping his hair tightly as he moved up and down, just slowly enough to keep Harry right on the edge without letting him tumble over it.

‘Malfoy, please,’ Harry begged when he couldn’t take it anymore.

Malfoy looked up at Harry, pausing his ministrations, a grin on his face as he took in the state Harry was in. He was sure he must look a mess, hair all over the place, face red, and eyes wild with desire, but he couldn’t care less at that moment. All he cared about was getting inside Malfoy again, feeling that bliss once again.

In a move that almost made Harry come there and then, Malfoy climbed up to straddle Harry’s thighs, wandlessly cast a lubricating spell, and then reached round and began to prepare himself, eyes locked on Harry’s as he slid first one finger, then two, in and out of himself. It was the single most erotic thing Harry had ever seen, an image he would never ever be able to forget.

Harry nearly wept with relief when Malfoy began to gradually lower himself down on Harry’s prick, that tight heat so incredible that he had to screw up his eyes and concentrate on not coming rather than watching Malfoy take him in. When Malfoy began to move though, a slow and steady up and down that quickly had Harry groaning, he couldn’t resist looking, not wanting to miss a single second of it. He began to meet Malfoy with hard thrusts, revelling in the noise Malfoy made when Harry brushed across his prostate, running his hands all over Malfoy’s body as he moved, exploring tense thighs and quivering stomach muscles and peaked nipples, wanting to touch every inch he could reach.

Far too soon, Malfoy was shaking above him, and although Harry desperately didn’t want this to end, he responded to Malfoy’s nearly unintelligible plea and started to stroke his cock in time with his thrusts. The combination sent Malfoy over the edge with a shout, his come painting Harry’s chest, the feel of him coming ripping Harry’s orgasm out of him too.

They came down from their highs slowly, Malfoy still sat on Harry’s thighs, his eyes closed as he panted, his chest moving rapidly in time with his breathing. Harry took advantage of this to stare at Malfoy unabashedly, drinking in the sight of him, so dishevelled and blissed out, a sight that so few people got to see. Somehow it was far more intimate than the sex; Malfoy never let his guard doswn in front of people, but here he was, reduced to nothing but pleasure, his emotions writ plainly on his face for Harry to see.

‘What are you staring at, Potter?’ Malfoy said lazily when he finally opened his eyes.

‘You,’ Harry said, brain still too hazy from his orgasm to come up with a lie.

Malfoy didn’t respond, just leaned forward and kissed Harry, a kiss that started out small but became deeper, their tired bodies attempting valiantly to respond to the way their lips moved together.

‘Merlin, Malfoy. You’ll be the death of me,’ Harry said as Malfoy finally moved off him, coming to lie next to him, squashed together in the small bed.

‘At least it’ll be a good death though,’ Malfoy replied, his eyes already closed.

‘The best.’

The next day began very differently to the previous morning.

For one thing, they weren’t woken by Pansy doing a good impression of a drum solo on their bedroom door, and for another, Malfoy didn’t seem in any hurry to get out of bed at all.

Harry woke up slowly, lingering in that half-asleep dreamlike haze for a long time, the real world only intruding when the sunlight coming through the gaps in the curtains became too strong to ignore any longer. His dreams had been full of half-remembered visions of Malfoy, a strong sense of desire but also something more pervading them, his heart almost aching when he woke.

A smile spread across his face when he opened his eyes to see Malfoy still sleeping peacefully next to him, his face almost completely buried in Harry’s shoulder, his mop of hair nearly the only part of him that was visible over the covers.

He lay there like that for a long time, keeping as still as he could to avoid waking Malfoy, watching the sun creep across the carpet as Malfoy’s gentle, steady breaths ghosted across his shoulder.

‘Hey,’ Harry whispered when Malfoy finally began to stir.

‘Morning,’ Malfoy mumbled in response, burying his face even deeper into Harry’s shoulder, his hair tickling Harry’s arm as he moved.

‘Not a morning person, huh?’ Harry laughed.

Malfoy’s grumpy response was so muffled by the pillow and Harry’s shoulder that Harry didn’t catch any of it, but it was enough to confirm that Malfoy was, indeed, not a morning person.

After a while, Malfoy’s face finally emerged from under the covers, a flood of emotion overtaking Harry as he took in the sight of Malfoy, soft and rumpled by sleep.

‘Good sleep?’ Harry chuckled, hoping he sounded amused rather than overcome at the discovery of what Malfoy looked like in the morning.

‘Your shoulder’s a bit bony,’ Malfoy replied, always ready with a sarcastic comment. ‘But it was alright, yes.’

‘Oi.’ Harry nudged Malfoy with the aforementioned bony shoulder. ‘You didn’t have to sleep on it,’ he added, to which Malfoy just shrugged.

‘What are you doing today?’ Malfoy asked once he had resettled himself on Harry’s shoulder.

‘Not sure really. What about you?’

‘I don’t know either.’

‘We could, I dunno, do something together?’ Harry said after a moment’s silence.

‘What did you have in mind?’ Malfoy said slowly.

‘I don’t know, really. I have my car, we could go for a drive somewhere?’

‘I suppose that would be an alright way to spend the day,’ Malfoy said, his attempt at a put upon tone ruined by the small smile on his face.

An hour later, they were winding their way down one of the small country lanes near Shell Cottage, the windows rolled all the way down, their hair flying all over the place in the breeze. The cool air felt incredible on his face after so many weeks of heat, and Harry felt his heart lighten as they drove.

The roads were nearly empty, only the occasional passing car disrupting the peace, the tall hedgerows that lined the roads giving way to wildflowers and fields filled with grazing cows and sheep. It was beautiful, the kind of scene that made Harry wish he could paint, just so he could capture even the smallest part of nature’s brilliance.

It all paled in comparison to the man sitting next to him though. The sun was falling on Malfoy in just the right way to highlight his cheekbones and make his hair shine, glowing so brightly it was like a halo surrounding him. Although he had looked nervous when they first set off, he now looked completely at ease, a grin on his face as he leaned out of the window, peering around bends and taking in the views that surrounded them.

It made Harry’s heart hurt, to see Malfoy so carefree in this moment that was just theirs. Not knowing or caring if he was overstepping a boundary or making this more than it really was, Harry reached over and took Malfoy’s hand, relief coursing through him when Malfoy readily linked their fingers together.

They drove like that for ages, not following any specific route, taking it in turns to pick which direction they went at each turning they came to. Eventually they pulled into a chocolate box village, the roads bordered by quaint thatched cottages interspersed with the occasional tea shop or pub, and they decided it was high time for some lunch.

After following the signs to the sea front, they found themselves walking down a narrow tunnel, the ancient steps inside it steep and worn from centuries of use. Blinking in the bright sunlight, they exited the tunnel to discover a picturesque cove, pebbles giving way to sand at the edge of the water, red cliffs towering above them.

A tiny shack on the beach was dispensing piping hot fish and chips, the smell drifting across in the breeze and making their mouths water.

'Fish and chips for lunch?' Harry said, once they had spent a few minutes taking in the view.

'Sure,' Malfoy agreed, and they turned away from the glistening sea to walk over to the shack.

Once they had been served, they wandered a few metres down the beach, the newspaper wrapped fish and chips held tightly in their hands, almost too hot to hold.

Settling down on some relatively flat rocks, they eagerly tucked into their food, Harry nearly choking at the temperature of the handful of chips he shoved in his mouth. Malfoy didn’t seem to be having the same issue, and was instead slowly taking bites of his fish, pausing every so often to eat a few chips.

‘This is better than I expected,’ Malfoy said in between bites.

‘What?’ Harry said around a mouthful of fish.

‘Merlin, Potter, keep your mouth shut while you’re eating, you’re putting me off my meal,’ Malfoy said, a disgusted look on his face.

Swallowing hurriedly, Harry waved his hand in apology.

'Sorry, sorry,' he said, to a you should be from Malfoy. 'But what did you mean, better than you expected?'

'I just thought it would be greasy and horrible, but it isn't anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be. I can see why Muggles eat it so often.’

Harry stared at Malfoy, shocked.

‘Are you trying to tell me you’ve never eaten fish and chips before?’ Harry said, his astonishment clear in his voice.

‘Of course I’ve never eaten it,’ Malfoy said, confusion clear on his face as he looked at Harry.

‘But- but- it’s such a classic! It’s the British food, how can you have gone your whole childhood without eating fish and chips on the beach? Even I got to do that,’ Harry said, before silently cursing himself for the mention of his childhood that had slipped out. He hadn’t meant to say anything about that, didn’t know if he was ready for Malfoy to know about that dark period in his life.

Luckily the comment about Harry’s childhood seemed to have passed Malfoy by, as he didn’t acknowledge it at all. Instead, he turned to face Harry more directly, a serious look on his face, his eyebrows drawn together and mouth in a tight line. The lighthearted Malfoy from the drive was gone completely, the joy vanished from his eyes to be replaced by a shadow.

‘Can you really picture Lucius deigning to eat food with his hands, by the seaside?’ Malfoy began, his voice low and quiet. ‘And a Muggle food at that? I was barely allowed out to see Muggles, let alone mix with them and eat their food. It wouldn’t have been proper.’

Harry took a moment to respond, choosing his words carefully, not wanting to discourage Malfoy from opening up further.

‘Did you want to see Muggles? To mix with them?’

‘Yes, I suppose so, but not because they were Muggles, really,’ Malfoy mused. ‘I didn’t really understand the difference when I was very young - it’s hard to, at that age. So much of the politics of it all goes over your head. All I knew was that there were a group of kids around my age who loved to play in the woods around the Manor - I could see them sometimes, if I was in a certain part of the garden with Mother, and I could hear their games. It sounded like they were having so much fun. But I was never allowed to join them.’

Harry listened, rapt, as Malfoy spoke, hardly breathing for fear of disturbing Malfoy’s train of thought, his fish and chips rapidly going cold where they lay on the rock, forgotten about entirely. Harry had never heard Malfoy talk about growing up, had never considered that he might have unhappy moments in his past too. He’d always assumed that Malfoy had loved being the pureblood heir, had happily gone along with his parents’ views, a spoilt, content child. But the way Malfoy was talking, the way his voice hardened as he spoke, hinted at something entirely different.

‘I’m sure Father tried to explain to me why I couldn’t play with them, attempting to indoctrinate me into his way of thinking early, but of course as a child I didn’t understand. To me, all that mattered was that my father wouldn’t let me go out and make friends with them, and when you’re all alone in a huge, soulless manor house all summer, with only the occasional parent-approved friend visiting for tea, the loss of possible true friends stings.

‘As I got older I began to absorb my father’s ideas - how could I not, when I wasn’t exposed to any other ways of thinking? It’s hard to realise something is wrong when you truly aren’t told about the alternative. I hate to think about it now, hate to remember 10 year old me spouting disgusting pureblood lies that my father had taught me.

‘Once I got old enough for Father to truly explain his views to me, once I could understand them, I stopped looking at the Muggles and wishing I could play with them. Instead I was glad I never had to interact with them, and would stay as far away from them as I could on the rare occasions I needed to visit the nearby town. And then I went to Hogwarts, and I didn’t need to see Muggles at all, and then of course he came back, and I was in too deep to change anything, no matter how badly I might have wished everything was different.

‘So, no, Potter. I’ve never had fish and chips before.’

Harry didn’t know what to say. He’d always imagined that Malfoy’s childhood had been idyllic, living in a beautiful manor with parents who doted on him, never wanting for anything. He’d certainly never really stopped to think about how maybe that wasn’t the healthiest environment to grow up in, how Malfoy’s parents had failed him nearly as badly as the Dursleys had failed Harry. It was eye-opening, and Harry felt his affection for Malfoy increase as he pictured the young boy who had only wanted friends, and hadn’t understood why he couldn’t have them.

‘Well I’m glad I could take your fish and chips virginity then,’ Harry joked tentatively, sensing that something needed to break the tension and sadness that had shrouded them while Malfoy had been speaking.

Malfoy chuckled, relief spreading across his face as he realised that Harry wasn’t going to ask him any more awkward questions or start to berate him for being sucked into his father’s awful worldview.

‘Urgh, yuck. They’re much better hot, though,’ Malfoy said, pulling a face as he gamely chewed on a chip that had got cold as they spoke.

‘Hey, no talking with your mouth full,’ Harry teased, laughing loudly when Malfoy gently kicked at his shin in response.

‘I suppose we should probably be heading back, anyway,’ Harry sighed. ‘It’ll take us a while to drive back and the others will be wondering where we are.’

Malfoy agreed, and they began to slowly make their way back through the tunnel to the car. Harry smiled when he felt Malfoy’s hand slip in to his, relieved that he wasn’t pulling away and putting up walls between them after his earlier moment of vulnerability.

The drive back felt a lot quicker than it had in the morning, both of them falling silent as Harry drove, Malfoy turned slightly to look out of the window, his expression hidden from Harry. It was a contented silence, the kind of quiet that falls after a long, tiring day. It was strange, to be this comfortable in Malfoy’s presence, the atmosphere between them so domestic and settled despite the raw newness of it all. It made Harry’s heart ache, and he longed to get Malfoy alone, truly alone, so that he could show him how he felt, with deeds and pleasure rather than with words that could possibly ruin it all.

By unspoken agreement they avoided the others when they got back to Shell Cottage, Harry darting in to the kitchen to grab a couple of pastries and a bottle of wine before they retreated up the stairs to the sanctuary of their room. They both knew, without having to say it aloud, that seeing the others would break the spell of their day, and neither of them wanted that, not yet. Reality could wait, just a little bit longer.

The evening passed slowly and yet far too quickly all at once, time becoming a fluid, elastic thing as they sat on Harry’s bed, sharing pastries and wine and kisses, chatting about nothing and everything all at once. Hands wandered and touched as they sat there, without worrying about whether they were too new for this, both of them revelling in the chance to touch the skin they had been looking at all day, all week, all their lives. Harry spent long minutes examining Malfoy’s fingers, turning his palm over in his hand and tracing the lines that tracked across the pale skin, calling on his half-remembered Divination knowledge to make Malfoy laugh with increasingly outlandish predictions about what certain lines meant for his life.

When they finally fell into bed together, the wandering hands becoming less innocent and more teasing, Harry felt as if they were taking part in some long forgotten dance, his body naturally knowing where to go and what to do, even as his mind spiralled into a world that was only bliss and the feel of Malfoy’s body against his.

When he breathed out ‘Draco’ as he came, his eyelashes fluttering against the soft skin of Malfoy’s shoulder, he barely heard Malfoy’s strangled cry of release, his world reduced to nothing but endless pleasure.

Harry had a pit in his stomach when he woke up the next morning.

Malfoy was still sleeping peacefully next to him, their clothes scattered on the floor where they had thrown them the previous night, the crumb covered plate and empty wine bottle on the bedside table bringing the memories of the night before flooding back.

Harry couldn’t focus on any of that though. All he could think about was that today was the last day of their holiday, that this morning he had to get in his car and drive home.

He didn’t want to leave.

Just the thought of driving away from Malfoy and this place where they had found each other had him feeling sick with dread. They’d built something unique, precious, precarious on this holiday, and Harry had no idea whether it would survive London and all that came with a return to reality - jobs, and potentially judgemental friends, and the public, and their families. Harry knew that the odds were stacked against them, and he wouldn’t have blamed Malfoy at all for deciding that the cost was just too high.

Malfoy was also subdued all morning, the kisses they shared when he woke up not enough to bridge the gap that seemed to have formed between them in the face of their return home. They hardly spoke as they packed away their things, removing all traces of themselves from the room, tidying away the signs of what they had shared.

Just before they left the room, suitcases in hand, Harry pulled Malfoy back to him, suddenly unable to bear the thought of leaving without saying something, anything, to acknowledge what had happened between them.

‘I- I-,’ Harry started, his mouth dry as he looked into Malfoy’s eyes, his words deserting him. Malfoy just looked back, an indecipherable look on his face as he waited silently for Harry to speak.

‘I don’t want this to be it, between us,’ Harry said finally, his heart racing at his confession.

‘I-,’ Malfoy opened his mouth to respond, but before he could, the door behind him flew open.

‘There you are!’ Pansy said, oblivious to the moment she had interrupted. ‘Hurry up, everyone’s waiting downstairs. They’re all ready to go - you’ve taken ages.’

With one last long look at Harry, his eyes wide as if he was trying to communicate something, Malfoy sighed and turned to leave the room with Pansy, Harry’s heart beginning to crack as he watched him walk away.

Harry barely remembered any of the drive home. He couldn’t have told you which roads he took if his life had depended on it. All he could think about was what Malfoy had been about to say when Pansy had interrupted them. Had he been about to tell Harry that he felt the same? Or had he been about to break Harry’s heart and say that this had all just been a holiday fling to him?

However horrible it would have been to have to listen to Malfoy break it off with him, Harry wished he had finished his sentence. Anything would have been better than this not knowing. He vacillated wildly between being certain that Malfoy would never want to see him again, his heart breaking at the very idea of never being able to touch Malfoy again, and being convinced that Malfoy reciprocated his feelings and would want to continue seeing him once they were back at home.

Malfoy had already gone, vanished through the fireplace with Pansy, by the time Harry had managed to move from the spot he had remained frozen in after Malfoy had left their bedroom, so he hadn’t been able to ask him what he had wanted to say. He hadn’t even been able to look at Malfoy to see if he could figure it out from the expression on his face. It was torture, not knowing, and by the time he arrived back at Grimmauld Place, Harry felt like he might cry from the stress of it.

His house didn’t help matters at all. Apparently London hadn’t been lucky enough to get a thunderstorm to break the weather, and Harry was hit by a wall of heat when he opened the front door. Too heartsick to face the climb up to his bedroom in the sweltering temperature, Harry dropped his suitcase in the hall and went into his living room, collapsing face first onto the sofa.

He had no idea how long he had been lying there, aching at the thought of never seeing Malfoy again, already missing their tiny room at Shell Cottage, when he heard the knock on the door.

The noise jolted him out of his stupor, and, heart racing, he sat bolt upright, scared to dream that it might be Malfoy coming to visit him but unable to stop himself hoping desperately that he would open the door to be greeted by that unmistakable blond hair.

He forced himself to walk slowly to the door, not wanting to seem too keen, not wanting to give away how badly he wanted it to be Malfoy waiting on his doorstep. His pulse was thundering in his ears, his stomach twisted into nervous knots as he slowly opened the door, dying to know who was waiting on the other side but scared to face the disappointment he would feel when it inevitably wasn’t Malfoy there.

Harry’s heart leaped with a joy he had never felt before when the door swung open to reveal Malfoy stood on the doorstep. He looked as nervous as Harry felt, only a small smile crossing his face as Harry stood there, staring at him, struck dumb with surprise.

‘Are you going to let me in, Potter?’ Malfoy said finally, that one eyebrow raised.

Not trusting his voice, Harry just nodded, moving out of the way as Malfoy stepped over the threshold.

Once they were both in the hall, the door swinging shut behind Malfoy with a deafening thud, they simply looked at each other for a long moment.

‘Potter, I-,’ Malfoy finally started to say, but Harry didn’t let him finish.

Stepping forwards, Harry closed the distance between them, fisting his hands into Malfoy’s hair as he leaned up to kiss him, a groan ripped from Malfoy as he kissed Harry back.

Harry wanted to hear what Malfoy had to say, but he needed this more. He pulled Malfoy into the living room, pushing him back onto the sofa cushions and covering his body with his own, their hips automatically starting to move together as they kissed and kissed and kissed.

Harry had no idea if this was the last time or the first time of the rest of their lives, but either way, he wanted everything, needed everything. It was hot and fast and oh so good, their bodies falling into the now familiar patterns quickly and easily, already knowing how to make each other feel incredible.

It was only as they lay together afterwards, breathing heavily, pools of sweat cooling rapidly on their skin, that Harry remembered Malfoy had been trying to tell him something.

‘What did you want to say?’ he murmured, shifting slightly so that he could look up at Malfoy more easily.

‘I don’t want that to be it between us, either,’ Malfoy whispered, so quietly that for a moment Harry worried he had imagined it.



Harry grinned as the meaning of Malfoy’s words sank in, the relief spreading through his bones, his heart soaring as he realised that Malfoy felt the same way as he did.

‘Are you sure?’

‘Of course I’m sure,’ Malfoy said, his face growing serious for a moment before shifting into something more teasing.

‘I never could get enough of you, Harry. I’m not sure I ever will.’