“Good afternoon, Mr. Potter, you can go straight in. Ms. Granger-Weasley is expecting you.” Hermione’s secretary smiled at Harry as he entered Hermione’s outer office and motioned him towards Hermione’s door.
She was standing by the window, and from her smile Harry knew Hermione was watching Rose and Hugo playing at her and Ron’s house in Ottery St. Catchpole. The first thing she had done when she had moved into the office after being appointed the Ministry’s Commissioner of International Relations was to spell the windows to let her watch the children at home with their nanny. Hermione was, he thought, getting a little nostalgic because Rose had just turned eleven and would be heading off to Hogwarts in September.
“What is this all about, Hermione?” Harry asked as soon as the door had swung shut. He’d been pulled out of a meeting by Hermione’s urgent message to come to her office immediately.
Hermione pulled curtains closed and smiled at Harry, as she motioned him to sit down. “Sorry, Harry. I wouldn’t have called you in like this if it wasn’t an emergency.”
“You’re smiling, so it can’t be a problem with the children or Ron,” Harry commented as Hermione walked over and sat down at her large antique desk. The surface was covered with scrolls, Portkeys, and in the very center, a photograph of Ron, Rose, and Hugo.
“No, it’s Ministry business.” Hermione took a deep breath and looked at Harry. “There’s a serious situation in New Zealand.”
“New Zealand?” Harry said, with surprise. “They haven’t wanted anything to do with the Ministry since the Brisco Incident.”
“Precisely. Which is why I need to send a team there. We can’t miss this opportunity to respond to their call for assistance.”
“The communique from the New Zealand Minister was vague, I think they are being cautious because the problem may involve their own people and they aren’t sure whom to trust. Apparently three key members of the Augurisel, their version of the Wizengamot, have disappeared. This is critical, because they were the lead supporters of the Hoffelbrau Compromise.”
“You lost me.”
“The Hoffelbrau Compromise, Harry. I sent out a memo about it months ago.” Hermione shook her head in exasperation as she twirled around in her chair and reached for a scroll with a bright emerald ribbon on it.
“I don’t want to read about it, just tell me what the Hoffelhouse thing is,” Harry said as he watched her reluctantly slide the scroll back into its cubby. Twenty years after Hogwarts and some things hadn’t changed.
“The Hoffelbrau Compromise is the international agreement that was drafted at the Munich meetings last April.” Hermione explained, “It is absolutely critical that all the wizarding countries agree to it, if we are ever going to guarantee the rights of magical creatures to travel across international borders.”
“Oh, right. That compromise.” Harry nodded as he remembered it, he had thought it was too little, too late but he admired Hermione for pursuing the cause. He stood up, “So you need me? I’ll go and pack a bag. Who else is going?”
“No need to go home, I took the liberty of having Kreacher prepare your case for you.” Hermione motioned towards the corner of her desk where a matchbox-size case was sitting. “As to who is going with you—”
There was a sharp knock at her door, and Hermione looked suddenly worried, “Harry, please don’t hate me.”
“Why? Who—” Harry turned and was starting to stand when the door flung open and Draco strode into the office, coming to an abrupt stop as soon as he saw Harry. Draco was wearing the formal slate-blue robes that indicated that he was Master of the Ministry’s Potions Department. Harry had teased Draco, when they were still married, that Draco had been destined to become the Potions Master because why else would the robes be designed to compliment his eyes so perfectly.
Harry studied his ex-husband a little closer, he was wearing his hair just a little longer, the ends were curling over the collar of his robes. Draco always had preferred to wear it long in winter, protection from the cold he had called it.
Draco didn’t look away from Harry, even as he said, “For this, Granger, you will accept my expense report without question; even if I decide to buy a mob of emus and have them shipped to Britain on flying carpets.” Draco walked over to the chair next to Harry’s and sat down, saying as he did so, “Close your mouth, Harry.”
Harry closed his mouth automatically, and realizing he was still in a half standing position, sat back in his chair. Stalling for time, he smoothed his robes, as he fought the urge to leap over the desk and strangle Hermione.
Hermione sounded rushed as she anticipated Harry’s anger, “Harry, there is no choice. They requested a potions master and a curse breaker, you two are the best in your respective fields, and everyone knows it. We need to show the New Zealanders that we are serious about helping and that means you two will need to work together on this.” Hermione chewed her lip as she waited for Harry to respond.
“A little warning would have been nice,” was all Harry could think to say, he couldn’t believe that Hermione was expecting him to travel to the other side of the world with Draco. Not only that, they would have to work together to solve whatever was brewing in New Zealand.
The official line since their divorce was that they ‘were still good friends’, but other than inter-departmental meetings and Ministry functions they never acknowledged one another. He hadn’t been in a room alone with Draco since the mid-summer evening three years ago when he had come home to find Draco on the balcony, staring out at the Thames. Without taking his eyes off the tourist boat traveling upstream, Draco had announced, “I’m leaving,” and turned and left, brushing past Harry as he went back into the flat.
Harry had listened to the echoing sound of Draco’s footsteps as he crossed the concrete floor. There had been the familiar scraping sound of the heavy iron door sliding open and after a pause that had made Harry hold his breath, the metal against metal clang as the door shut. It was that sound of finality that had brought Harry to his knees, gasping for breath as the pain in his chest ripped through him. Even after the months of fighting, he had held out hope that they would find a way to make it work between them.
The lawyers on both sides had been disappointed that there had been no fighting, no name calling, no haggling over Galleons during the dissolution of their bonds. The beautiful loft, with its sleek modern furnishings that Harry and Draco obtained during weekend shopping sprees, had been sold, the purchase price split evenly. They had walked away from their three-year marriage with nothing more or less than they had when they’d started.
“Are you okay with this?” Harry said at last, reluctantly turning his head to look at Draco.
“It’s a job, Potter. Don’t worry, I think I can restrain from throwing myself at you.” Draco’s drawling voice held the familiar note of challenge that made Harry grind his teeth together as Draco continued, “At least it’s summer in New Zealand, getting away from this dismal winter will make up for the...inconvenience.”
Refusing to take the bait, Harry turned back to Hermione. “Fine. When do we leave?”
“I’ve prepared a dossier, with the names and background on the officials you’ll be meeting.” She handed a thick packet to Harry along with his shrunken suitcase, “It is past two in the morning in New Zealand, you’ll have time to get settled and study it before your meeting with Minister Conroy. You have your emergency kit?”
Harry nodded, he never was without his kit of curse detection tools in his robe pocket. He’d learn the hard way that one had to anticipate every possible scenario while on a case.
“Did you have time to pack, Draco?”
“Yes, I’m set. When does the Portkey leave?” Draco stood up and looked businesslike at Hermione.
Hermione glanced at the clock. “In one minute.” She opened a drawer and pulled out an eight-inch wood box. “We had to rush to get the Portkey done.” She held it out for Harry. He took it with the certain feeling he was making the second biggest mistake of his life, he held it out to Draco who gripped the other end. The last thing he saw before being sucked into the vortex of the Portkey was the worried look on Hermione’s face.
Harry stumbled on the soft ground as the swirling colors of the disappeared, the all too familiar pressure in his gut made it difficult for him to get his balance. He opened his eyes and immediately shut them against the glare of sunlight reflecting off the sand. Sand?
Opening his eyes again, more cautiously, he blinked against the brightness and looked down. He was standing on sand, his shoes half-covered in coarse black sand. As his eyes adjusted to the light, he saw that they were on the edge of a beach with rolling waves lapping against the shoreline. The edge of a thick jungle stood fifty feet away, the sun glaring a few degrees over the tree-line made the air sultry with heat and humidity.
“Granger has a lot of explaining to do.”
“Where are we?” Harry turned to look at Draco in complete bewilderment.
“How in Merlin am I supposed to know?” Draco threw down the Portkey, “What is this, Potter? Are you in on it?”
“What—Draco, I’m as confused as you are! The Portkey must have been miskeyed. We must be somewhere on the coast of New Zea—”
“Porkeying really does addle your brain. We aren’t even in the same hemisphere as New Zealand. It is two in the morning in New Zealand, so we obviously aren’t there. The sun is still rising in the sky, meaning we are west of England. The black sand indicates an island formed from a volcanic eruption, ergo, we are somewhere on the eastern edge Caribbean sea which has the only black sand beaches in the area.” Draco tapped the fingers on his hand as he rattled off his observations.
Draco held up his wand and pointed it towards the dense grove of palm trees, “Homenum Revelio.” They both watched the spell as shimmered and then evaporated without the telltale red sparks. “An uninhabited island,” Draco stated, “Could be any one of the hundreds in the region.”
“Wherever we are, it’s bloody hot.” Harry started undoing the buttons of his robes. After hesitating a moment, Draco did the same. Sweat was rolling down Harry’s face by the time he got his heavy winter robes off. He tossed them down on the ground and started rolling up the sleeves of his shirt.
“You didn’t answer my question. Did you put Granger up to this?”
“What are you on about? Obviously the Portkey—”
“The Portkey was not miskeyed. Your best friend for the last thirty years sent us to an island in the middle of the Caribbean, and I would like to have, if it is not too much FUCKING trouble, an explanation.” Draco glared at Harry, his hands on his hips, his whole body tense as if he was resisting the urge to hit Harry.
“No. I have no id—” Harry stopped himself as the words hit him. Island. Caribbean. Oh, bloody hell, Hermione, what have you done?
“Potter.” Throughout their marriage, Draco had often used Harry’s last name with affection. Not anymore. Harry looked up to see that Draco had drawn his wand. Something he had never done, not even during their ugliest of fights. Harry held up his hands, palms out, towards Draco.
“You have exactly ten seconds to start talking or I am going to cast a full-body bind curse and drop you in the middle of that ocean, and we’ll find out if the Chosen One can float.”
Harry was still trying to comprehend what his brain telling him, not wanting to believe it. New Year’s Eve at Hermione and Ron’s living room. The flickering flames in the fireplace that had cast dancing shadows on the walls as Harry and Hermione sat on the floor next to each other, leaning against the sofa. He had been drunk, he and Ron had both consumed far more than they should have. Ron had already passed out down the hall in the bedroom, his snores could be heard through the closed door.
“Fine. If you would prefer to die rather than tell me—” Draco was raising his arm when Harry stopped him.
“I don’t know, but Hermione may—may—have acted on something I told her last month,” Harry said, knowing that Draco was going to blame him for this fiasco and he couldn’t blame him.
“We were drunk. Well, I was drunk; Hermione never drinks more than she can han—”
“Quit prevaricating, and get to the bloody point.”
“She asked me what had gone wrong between us, you and me, I mean, not her and me—” Harry closed his eyes against the look of incredulity on Draco’s face, “And, I may have told her, that I thought that if it had just been you and me alone on a tropical island in the Caribbean or somewhere, that we would still be together.”
“You told her what?” Harry opened his eyes to see Draco staring at him. “You planned this whole thing with her—”
“NO! We never talked about it again. I was rambling, stupid drunk. I didn’t think she was even listening to me!”
Draco gave a disbelieving laugh and pointed at a palm tree twenty feet away. “I hate to point out the obvious, Potter, but I think it is pretty bloody clear that she was listening.”
“I can’t believe she did this,” Harry said as he turned in a slow circle. The beach that they were standing on curved to the left. To the right the sand ended at the foot of a thirty foot cliff. The beach was thirty or forty feet at its widest, the black sand was skirted by the palm trees and jungle vegetation. The water stretched beyond the reef of rocks that formed a natural breakwater a few hundred yards out. The color was like nothing he’d ever seen, a blue so intense that it seemed that it had to be magical rather than natural.
He turned to look at Draco, he had pushed his sleeves up against the heat but sweat was already beading on his forehead. “I can’t believe she did this,” Harry repeated weakly.
Draco gave a laugh, “New Zealand emergency. That should have been the first clue.”
“New Zealand!” Harry turned and pawed under his discarded robes for the envelope that Hermione had handed him right before the Portkey had activated. He found it and fumbled as he tried to undo the string that was wrapped around it. Draco reached out and took it from him and yanked the flap open. He pulled out a sheet of paper and held it up so they both could read it.
Harry & Draco,
The island you are on is part of an archipelago on the very eastern edge of the Caribbean. It is your island, Harry. It was part of the Black estate; I strongly suspect that this is the island that Sirius used as a hideout during fourth year. I learned of its existence from Kreacher this last month after I had hatched this mad plan of mine.
Yes, I fully admit that this is madness, but it seems as though everything between the two of you has always been on the edge of madness, why not this, too? As you have no doubt figured out already, there was no New Zealand emergency, just my desperate wish for you to be happy.
Harry, I feel like we lost you three years ago. You have been drifting ever since the divorce, wearing a protective shell that doesn’t allow anyone in. When you confided on New Year’s Eve that you thought that the two of you would still be together if it had been just you and Draco on an island, I remembered this photograph. Everything in it speaks of the love that you two shared. You were so happy. I haven’t seen you smile like that since Draco left.
Draco, I won’t dare to presume how you feel about Harry. All I know is what I’ve observed: the way your eyes follow Harry around the conference room during a meeting, the way that you linger at the far side of the fountain in the mornings, drinking your coffee and waiting for him to walk past, and the expression on your face when Harry brought someone to the Ministry Ball.
There is a path near the largest palm tree that will lead you to Sirius’ cabana. Kreacher oversaw the necessary repairs and it is stocked with everything that you could need for the next week. Yes, one week. Talk to each other.
The Portkey will activate again one week from today, at 2 p.m. (local time)
p.s. There is an anti-Apparation ward on the island.
“She is insane,” Draco said, looking at Harry in disbelief.
“This is so unlike Hermione,” Harry said as he reread the letter, “What photograph is she talking about?”
Draco peered into the envelope and pulled out a photograph. It was one that Hermione had taken at Hugo’s birthday party, a few months after Draco and Harry’s elopement. Hermione had assured Harry that Draco would be welcome but not all the guests had not been that receptive to them. It had started to thunder and rain and the other guests had run for the house.
Harry had grabbed Draco started to dance in the rain out in the garden, amidst the ruined decorations and balloons. The moving photograph showed Draco with his head thrown back in laughter as Harry led him through the steps, water dripping from both of their faces, and ended just as Harry pulled Draco close for a kiss, their eyes focused on each other and nothing else.
“I didn’t have anything to do with this, Draco.”
It only took a glance to know that Draco was furious. Harry had grown very familiar with the signs during their fiery marriage: Draco was tapping his right fingers against his leg, his jaw was set, and his breaths were shallow and measured.
“I figured that out; even you aren’t this naive. I’ve never read such ridiculous delusions,” Draco crumpled up the letter and threw it into the surf and turned to glare at Harry. “What was she trying to prove? A week? How is she going to explain our absence?”
“I don’t know. Let’s just try and find a way off the island and we can—”
“And if we can’t? I have responsibilities. I can’t be spend a week here with you. What did you tell her that made her think that this would work? Why would you tell her—”
“Dammit, I was drunk. It was New Year’s eve. I didn’t mean anything by it, and sure as hell didn’t expect Hermione to throw us together like this. We just need to find a way to get back to England and we can go back to pretending that that never happened.” Harry pointed at the photograph that Draco held in his hand.
“Would that I could forget,” Draco hissed as he threw the photograph on the ground. Sand covered the image as Draco stepped forward and Harry had to fight the urge to save the photograph. “Do me a favor, Potter. Next time you get maudlin and drunk, keep your bloody mouth shut.”
“You can’t tell me what to do; you lost that right three years ago.”
They were within inches of each other and Draco’s shoulders were tense and he was clenching his hands as he fought to keep control. It wasn’t hard to remember how their arguments had used to end, with one or the other shoved up against the wall, table or on the floor, hands tearing at clothing, desperate in their need for release from the lust their fighting always created. It was when those frenzied couplings had stopped that Harry had known that the end of their marriage was nearing. They stared at each other now, wiser after three years and a lifetime of lessons learned. Draco was the first to look away.
Harry ran his hand through his hair in frustration. “This is ridiculous. We can’t stay here for a week. We should swim out past the Apparation barrier and—”
“And drown? There are no visible land masses, how exactly will you do the three Ds? If you choose some random Caribbean island that is beyond your top distance, which, unless I am mistaken, which I am not, is 200 miles.” Draco’s voice was sharp with anger, “Since you don’t know where the fuck we are, you could be apparating directly into the fucking ocean.”
“At least you’d be finally rid of me.” Harry muttered to himself.
“I rid myself of you three years ago,” Draco snapped back and Harry couldn’t stop the reflexive flinch as his gut twisted at Draco’s words.
“Right, of course, how silly of me to forget.”
“I didn’t mean it that way—”
“Yes, you did.” Harry knew he needed to walk away before they both said things that they would regret. He turned and looked at the cliff. “I’m going to go up there and look around. Maybe there are other islands behind this one.”
“I’ll come with you—”
“No.” Harry felt a little bit of satisfaction at the look on Draco’s face. “Go look in the cabana. See if there are any clues that can tell us where this island is, or a way off it.”
He walked away, not waiting for Draco’s response. His shoes sank into the sand, making walking difficult; he took them off along with his shirt and left them in the sand. Immediately feeling cooler he transfigured his trousers into shorts. Looking back he noted that Draco was standing right where he’d left him, watching Harry with his hands on his hips.
The cliff was far more intimidating when he was standing at the bottom of it. The sheer cliff face looked to offer little in the way of foot and hand holds. Harry had done some rock climbing on holidays, but never free-style. Skimming his eyes along the surface he picked out what appeared to be the best path up the side. He considered briefly walking around to see if there was a better access point from the interior of the island but dismissed the idea. The climb would help him work off some of his anger.
He planted his foot in a crevice and reaching with his right hand, pulled himself up. It didn’t take long to realize that he should have looked around for a safer way up. With the sun hitting the dark surface of the rock it was hot to the touch, and his hands were already cut and bruised from the effort of stretching and pulling up his weight. Harry flinched as his foot caught the sharp edge of a rock and pain shot up his leg. Gritting his teeth, he had no choice but to keep climbing.
Nearing the top he cursed as he looked up and realized that the lip of the cliff had a greater overhang than he’d realized; without ropes and carbines it would be impossible to get past it. Sweat stinging his eyes, he scanned for another way as his thigh and shoulder muscles screamed in protest at the effort to cling to the narrow ledge he was balanced on.
A boulder jutted out a few feet to his right; it might provide the needed distance to get past the lip. Harry inched his way over, ignoring the pain from his cut feet. His brow was dripping with sweat and he swiped it against his arm, giving a sigh of relief as he reached the outcrop. Not trusting the stability of the boulder he stepped up tentatively, testing it. When nothing moved, he moved his left hand to a better hand hold. Feeling secure for the first time since he’d started Harry gave a sigh of relief and paused to catch his breath.
The boulder shifted.
Reaching up he grabbed ahold of a small shrub as the rock broke free and crashed down the cliff side. Dangling by his left hand, Harry felt the shockwaves of the rock falling as the sound of its fall faded away. Facing outward, his feet scrabbling to find something, anything to hold his weight. He felt the crack and looked up and in slow-motion watched as the shrub tore away from the crevice, dirt and debris fell into his eyes and then he was falling.
The rush of air in his face, falling forward he saw flashes of blue sky and black sand and threw his hands out to break his fall as the ground raced up to him. He shut his eyes as he prepared for the impact.
It never came.
Harry opened his eyes and found himself staring at the gritty black sand two feet from his face. He felt the waft of magic from the Impediment jinx that had broken his fall.
There was another flicker of magic and Harry fell the last foot, landing face first in the sand. Spitting sand out of his mouth he rolled onto his back and stared up at the cerulean-blue sky, heart pounding from the close call.
"You are such a fucking selfish prick.” Draco’s face appeared directly overhead, blocking out the sun and sky. Draco had his hands on his hips as he stared down at Harry. Harry noted, somewhat inanely, that Draco had transformed his sweater and trousers into a short sleeve shirt and shorts.
Not wanting to be at a disadvantage, Harry struggled to sit up. His whole body was trembling from the exertion of the climb and shock of the fall. He sucked in air, coughing as his lungs protested.
“Do you have any idea what would have happened to me if the Boy Wonder fell to his death with only his ex-husband around?”
“I do beg your pardon, I would have hated for my death to be an inconvenience for you,” rasped Harry. Feeling sweat dripping down his forehead, Harry wiped it away. Looking down he was surprised to see the moisture mixed with a smear of red.
“Look at you. You’re a bloody mess.”
“Well, according to you, I always have been.” Harry looked down at his bleeding feet and hands. “Just go away, Draco,” he said wearily. He was too exhausted to fight, and felt like an emotional and physical wreck. There was the crunch of footprints in the sand and he looked up to see Draco walking away.
Thinking he should be used to Draco walking away from him by now, Harry fell back against the sand. His head rolling to the side he looked towards the water, he was unbearably hot from both the heat of the day and his climb. The water looked enticingly refreshing but was twenty feet away. Harry shut his eyes; he’d get up in a few minutes, as soon as it didn’t feel like he’d been hit with a Cruciatus curse.
There was a nudge next to him and Harry looked to see Draco kneeling next to him, his face set as he picked up Harry’s hand and turned it over, frowning at the cuts. “What are you doing?” Harry exclaimed as he sat up, pulling his hand away from Draco.
“Healing an idiotic prat who still thinks he is an invincible seventeen-year old instead of an extremely mortal almost forty-year old,” snapped Draco as he grabbed Harry’s hand back. This time Harry didn’t resist as he looked over to see Draco reach with his other hand to pull a vial out of a potions box. The one that Harry had given him their first Christmas together.
Gripping Harry’s hand tightly, Draco pulled the cork from the vial with his teeth, spitting it out as he started dripping the clear liquid on to Harry’s hand. The drops of liquid shimmered as they landed on his skin and Harry watched as the droplets started rolling to the dirt and blood on his hand, turning opaque as they went. “Hold still,” snapped Draco as he tightened his grip. “I barely have enough as it is.”
“What is that?” Harry asked in astonishment as he watched the droplets cleaning his hand as he watched.
“Meracus” Draco said shortly as he reached for another vial, an empty one. Tilting Harry’s hand he carefully captured all of the drops that were now purple and had tripled in size.
“Your creation?” Harry asked, fascinated by the liquid. Even after all these years in a magical world he was amazed by what magic could do. Harry’s hand was still cut,with blood seeping out of the gash on his palm but it was completely clean of even the grains of sand that had filled the wound.
Draco nodded curtly as he picked up another vial and Harry smelled the familiar aroma of Essence of Dittany. With a careful hand, Draco used the eyedropper to measure out three drops. The brown liquid rolled through the cut, healing it.
Harry watched his face as he repeated the process again on the other hand. Draco’s eyes were focused on administering the potions, scowling as two of the drops rolled off Harry’s hand and were lost in the sand. He grit his teeth as he worked and Harry wasn’t sure if it was from anger at having to help Harry or the situation they found himself.
“Draco,” he spoke softly, not wanting to startle him. Draco lifted his eyes from the Meracus and looked at Harry’s face for the first time since he’d saved Harry from falling. “Thank you for, erm, not letting me fall and be willing to sort me out like this.”
“I could hardly save you from breaking your neck and then let your wounds fester and have you die of blood poisoning,” Draco said shortly. “Roll over, I need to do your feet.”
Harry wiped the sweat off his face as he rolled over onto his stomach. “How can you not be sweating in this heat?”
“Heat? You had better not be telling me you that you didn’t cast a sun protection charm.”
“What? Oh. I forgot.” Harry started as Draco cast the charm and a cooling sensation rolled over him. Before he could thank Draco, he was hit by a stinging hex aimed directly at his buttocks. He reached back to rub the spot. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“It is absolutely astounding that you have lived this long, Potter.” Draco reached down and grasped Harry’s chin, turning his head one direction and then the other. “It looks like you avoided sunburn or sunstroke. Do you have any idea how strong the sun is in this region?”
“No, actually. Other than it seems a lot hotter than England.” Harry replied, his voice cracking a little at Draco’s touch. His relief as Draco's fingers left his face was short lived as Draco took Harry’s left foot in his hand and started to brush off the sand. Harry groaned as he felt his groin respond to the touch and immediately tried to quash it. The memory of Draco’s foot rubs was not something he needed right now. The slight hesitation in Draco’s hand as he swept away the sand told him that Draco hadn’t missed his reaction.
“Bend your leg, I need the sole of your foot facing up.” Draco said roughly as he gripped Harry’s foot. Harry complied and then heard Draco muttering under his breath.
“You’ve got too much large debris in this cut for the Meracus to remove. I’ll need to take it out by hand and I don’t have tweezers.”
“I have a first aid kit in my emergency kit.” Harry said, “But don’t worry, I’m sure—”
Harry trailed off as he looked up to see that Draco was already marching down the beach to get the kit from Harry’s robes. It took Draco five minutes to locate the kit and return. His blond hair was being blown back by the gentle breeze and the sun’s angle seemed to emphasis Draco’s sharp features. With his crow’s feet wrinkles around his eyes and maturity in his face, Harry realized that Draco was even more handsome now than he had been when they had married.
“You might have mentioned that you had a bloody first aid kit.” Draco snapped as he sat down next to Harry, giving him a none too gentle shove to make him lay back on ground.
Harry obeyed, turning over on his stomach. “Didn’t think of it,” he replied as Draco muttered about idiotic Gryffindors. Harry looked down at his healed hands, all that was left of the cuts were thin pink lines.. “You should have become a Healer.”
“Don’t even start on that again,” Draco warned.
“You should have pushed it,” Harry looked over his shoulder at where Draco had sat down by his feet, and had placed Harry’s foot in his lap. “They were wrong to not let you in the training program.”
Before their marriage, when they were still just friends, Draco had applied three times to the St. Mungo’s Healer training program. He’d had the highest score on all the entrance exams and yet had been denied each time. They had argued repeatedly at the time about whether Draco should file a grievance or go into a different program.
“They were right to turn me down. Better the spot go to a person that had a chance of being able to work as a Healer than to me.”
“Potter, no sane witch or wizard in Britain would let a Death Eater heal them.”
“I would have. Actually, I am letting you heal me,” Harry said with a grin as he looked back at Draco again.
Draco rolled his eyes. “Well, you are not sane.” Draco gripped his foot tightly, “And it gives me great pleasure to say this is going to hurt,” he said as he bent his head and started digging the dirt out of the wound.
Harry gave a yelp of protest as Draco seemed to drive the tweezer straight through the cut, “Ouch! How about a numbing potion?”
“So sorry, the pain potion in your kit is old and I seem to be all out. Stop moving about.”
“I just bet you are out,” Harry said, gritting his teeth as Draco removed another stone.
It was another fifteen minutes before Draco finished with both of Harry’s feet and declared him fit enough to try to find another way to kill himself. Draco turned to put the vials back in his potions box.
Harry stood up, grimacing at the sand off that coated him. As he brushed the rough sand off his chest and abdomen Harry caught sight of Draco watching him, his grey eyes following the motion of Harry’s hands. Unconsciously, Harry sucked in his stomach as he reached behind to brush the sand off his shoulders, stretching as he did so. Harry knew he wasn’t in prime shape but he wasn’t too bad for his age.
“We still need to get up there, if we want to take a good look around.” Harry said, shading his eyes against the sun to study the cliff. Draco’s shoulder brushed against Harry’s as he came to stand next to him. He looked over, not at the cliff, but the jungle that came up to the base of it, beyond the beach.
“Perhaps, instead of charging at it like a Gryffindor, we should look around to see if there is an easier way up.” Draco said, as he started walking towards the trees. There wasn’t a lot of underbrush around the palm trees, the sand seeming to have discouraged too much foliage but as Draco pushed deeper in the lack of a path became clear.
“We haven’t been in school for twenty years, do you think maybe you could stop blaming everything I do on my house?” Harry grumbled as he followed Draco’s path.
“I will, just as soon as you stop...” Draco abruptly stopped and Harry bumped into him.
“What—oh.” Harry looked up at dismay as he saw that in front of them was a wide path through the jungle. Draco stepped onto it and looked around.
“Recently cleared,” Draco said as he pointed to the freshly trampled plants and cut branches.
Harry nodded, “I imagine Kreacher did it, or had someone do it for him. Where do you think it goes?”
“That way likely leads to the cabana,” Draco pointed to his right. “Maybe the other way leads to the other side of the island.” They both turned in unspoken agreement to the left. If they were going to try and escape they had to see what else was on the island.
It didn’t lead to the other side of the island. Harry felt a flush climb up his cheeks as the path turned not fifteen feet later and they found themselves at the base of the cliff, with a stone staircase cut into the side of the slope.
To his credit, Draco didn’t say anything other than a sardonic lift of his eyebrow as he waved his hand for Harry to lead the way up the stairs. The view when they came to the top of the stairs was both amazing and dismaying, Harry thought as he slowly turned around in a circle. He could see in every direction and there were no other islands or even a boat or ship visible, just the turquoise sea, stretching out forever. The far side of the island had no breakwater and large waves crashed against a shoreline full of rocks and sheer cliffs. Draco walked a few yards away and seemed to be studying the horizon carefully.
The island itself was small, no more than two hundred yards across at the widest point. Harry could see a broad thatched roof rising out of the jungle in a clearing a short distance from the beach. The palm trees that lined the beach gave way to taller, thicker trees in the inside of the island, the broad branches of some of them stretching out thirty feet or more. It was at that moment he remembered Hermione’s letter. She’d called it his island.
Harry looked around in disbelief: he owned an island. After the war, he had learned that his inheritance from Sirius had not been as straightforward as he’d first believed. Beyond the house at Grimmauld Place, the Black family had owned many properties, all buried under property laws as archaic as Merlin. Harry had given up trying to find all of them. The ones he had found had been filled with Dark Magic and traps. Working with Bill Weasley to rid the properties of the dangers was how he had found himself becoming a curse breaker.
“Bloody hell,” Harry swore as he whipped out his wand. Dark Magic. If this was a Black island then it could be filled with traps, and he and Draco had been blundering around without any precautions. Checking to make sure that Draco was still behind him, Harry started casting, sending streams of spells out, forcing his magic to extend to the very far side of the island. He felt Draco coming up behind him but didn’t stop the sequence as he studied the changing colors and patterns.
Only after he cast the last spell, a shimmering lilac-colored spell that caught the breeze and floated over the cabana and beyond, never changing to the dreaded ochre color, did he lower his wand, exhausted. The spells had shown signs of old magic, and Kreacher’s, but had given none of the tell-tale signs that there were dark objects hidden amongst the foliage or the cabana.
His knees trembling in relief and exertion, Harry sank to the ground. After a pause Draco sat down next to him. “Cup your hands.” Draco said brusquely. Harry didn’t even bother to question, but did what he said.
“Aguamenti,” Draco directed his wand at Harry’s hand, filling them with water. Gratefully, Harry drank the water and let Draco refill them two more times before saying enough.
“Better?” Draco asked.
“Yeah, are you thirsty?” Harry asked, holding up his wand to return the favor.
“After that display,” Draco gestured to where the last of lilac haze was still flickering over the island, “I doubt you have enough magical energy left for a simple Accio.”
“I forgot to check for Dark Magic. Bloody stupid, here I am lead curse breaker and it didn’t occur to me to check immediately,” Harry said, still unable to believe that he’d endangered Draco like that.
“Considering how disoriented we both were to end up here, I think we can give you a break on that one.”
“It is odd, really, there isn’t any remnants of Dark Magic. Just some very old magic and that of Kreacher’s. All the other Black properties were steeped in it.”
“I had a good look at the vegetation as we were walking through the jungle. I believe that this island was one that they would have used for growing Muggle plants. The native plants from this region are critical for potion making.” Draco stretched out his legs as he talked, “In centuries gone by, the Pureblood families who could afford it had their own island to grow ingredients. The Malfoy family had one but sold it over a century ago, as vendors of potion ingredients became more readily available. The island would have been kept relatively free of magic in order to ensure the purity of the plants.”
“Did your mother ever mention her family having an island?”
“No, it could be that this one was abandoned decades ago. Forgotten until Sirius Black needed it.”
Harry gave a start. “Funny to think of Sirius being here. It must have felt like heaven after being Azkaban.”
“Heaven, but lonely,” Draco said. “Nothing but the wind for company.”
“Better the wind than Dementors.” Harry stood up, wobbling a little as he did, the casting the magic had drained him more than he realized. Draco gave him a look of alarm. “I’m hungry.”
“You should be, it must be past suppertime in England,” Draco said with a glance at the sun’s position. He reached into his pocket and pulled out two chocolate bars. Handing one to Harry he kept the other for himself.
“Don’t thank me, they’re from your emergency kit.”
“Well, thanks for not eating them both.” Harry said, as he tore the wrapper off the bar. With a moan of appreciation he bit off a chunk, chewing slowly and letting it melt in his mouth. When he was finished he looked over to see Draco looking at him funny. “What?”
“You have some chocolate, there.” Draco’s voice was husky as he pointed towards the corner of Harry’s mouth.
“Mmm, thanks.” Harry said as he felt for the chocolate with his tongue, relishing the last taste of it. Draco stood up abruptly and strode away a few feet.
“This is untenable,” he muttered, more to himself than Harry.
Harry stood up and joined him as he looked down at the cabana roof. “I know, I don’t think that we are going to be able to get off the island.”
“You don’t say.” Draco’s tone was dry.
“I didn’t have anything to do with this, Draco,” Harry said cautiously, not wanting to ruin the small peace that they had somehow established in the past hour.
“Yes. I figured that out as I watched you attempting to kill yourself to get away from me.”
“I wasn’t—” Harry closed his mouth without finishing. He had been trying to get away from Draco when he’d set off to the cliff.
“Let’s go down to the building, maybe there will be more answers there. Or at least food. Unless Granger planned to have us turn to cannibalism to settle our differences.” Without looking at Harry, Draco went towards the stairs and Harry followed behind him.
As they made their way down the stairs and stepped onto the path that hopefully led to the cabana, not talking as they made their way down the path. Draco’s face was set in concentration as he studied the foliage, occasionally stopping to break a leaf off a plant and sliding it in his pocket.
The exotic smells of the jungle filled his senses, reminding him of the earthy, sweet smell of the greenhouses at Hogwarts. This was a world so vastly different than anything he had experienced and was exactly the kind of place he had fantasized about escaping to with Draco. A paradise where they could just be together without ever hearing the whispered hisses as they ate in a restaurant or walked down the street. Where there would be no Prophet with its lies and photographs to ruin their lives.
They passed trees with trunks six feet across. The outstretched branches created a thick canopy that the sun could not penetrate. Harry wondered what kind of trees they were. He thought of asking Draco but didn’t want to test his patience. A cacophony of sounds followed them, bird calls like he’d never heard in England and high up in the branches he heard a rustle and saw the shadow of some unknown creature leaping through the branches and pulled out his wand as a precaution.
He let Draco move ahead as the awkward silence grew between them. How were they going survive a week together?
Harry thought about what Hermione had written in her letter. How Hermione had described Draco watching Harry. It was easy to admit to himself that he wished that Draco missed him as much as he missed Draco, but Harry knew that she’d simply misinterpreted Draco’s efforts to avoid crossing paths with Harry for some kind of regret.
“Sweet Merlin, Hermione, what were you thinking?” Harry wondered aloud, half hoping that she was lurking somewhere nearby. There was no answer but the rustling of the wind through the palm fronds.
The dirt path went up a steep slope and was filled with rocks and rough patches where vegetation had been removed, he stepped gingerly trying to not injure his newly healed feet. Hoping that Hermione had packed sandals in his suitcase, Harry was just thinking that they should have gone back to the beach to retrieve their robes and cases when the path opened up into a clearing. Draco had stopped and was gazing up at the cabana.
The structure had been built on massive wood beams that lifted it up ten feet above the ground. They walked slowly around to the front entrance where a wide staircase led to a large veranda facing the beach. Tropical flowers in hues from white to fuchsia grew along the path and clearing.
The veranda itself was shaded from the western sun by the thatch roof overhang. Beyond the veranda Harry could see that the cabana had been built of native wood for supports and woven palm walls. The walls only rose half way up and large bleached white canvas curtains could be seen, blowing in the breeze. Shutters of bamboo and woven palm were folded open against the supporting columns.
Harry hesitated at the base of the stairs. “Maybe I should check again for any resident magic.”
“It’s fine, Potter. Come on, I have to admit I’m curious as to where we will be spending this week.” Draco climbed the stairs without waiting for Harry.
“Nice place,” Draco said when Harry joined him at the top of the stairs. There was only one large room. The large peaked roof held two ceiling fans that turned lazily around, powered by nothing but the breeze. It was obvious that the cabana had been built on stilts to capture the most of the breeze, and perhaps as protection during storms. Native wood boards covered the floor. The room was completely open to the elements, while the white canvas curtains hung on wooden rings were pushed off to the side but would offer no privacy.
There was a small kitchen area in one corner, in another a small square dining table with two chairs. A small lounge area had been created with a two comfortable-looking chaise lounges and a bookcase of books and al lamp. And pushed against the far wall an enormous bed with a canopy of mosquito netting. One bed. Harry swallowed hard and looked over at Draco who was staring at it.
“There’s only one bed.”
“Two points to Gryffindor.” Draco said harshly as he glared at the offending bed. “I am going to kill Granger.”
“Not if I get to her first,” Harry said with a bitter laugh, “This is not like her.”
“You keep saying that but unless she was under Imperius then clearly there is a side to her that you don’t know about. A twisted, sadistic side.”
“Look. I’ll just transfigure it into two beds and we’ll put up a wall or something.” Harry lifted his wand and pointed at the bed only to be stopped by Draco’s hand on his wrist.
“If you don’t mind. I’ll do the tranfiguring.”
“I can do—”
“Look at your shorts compared to mine. I would rather not sleep in a bed that is lopsided and lumpy.”
Harry looked down at his transfigured shorts, the legs were different lengths, on the other hand Draco’s shorts fit him perfectly, the shortened lengths matched and were even hemmed unlike the raw edge of Harry’s.
“Fine.” Harry grumbled and turned to watch as Draco lifted his wand. The spell cast out and shimmered around the bed, and then in a rain of sparkles fell to the floor and disappeared. Draco cursed and tried again. When the same thing happened Harry gave a laugh of realization.
“She used her anti-Transfiguration charm.”
“There is no such thing,” Draco said with his teeth gritted as he cast again.
“Hermione invented it a few years ago. Rose’s accidental magic was pretty powerful when she was little, she was able to animate her stuffed animals. Hermione got fed up with the herd of miniature unicorns living under Rose’s bed.”
“Wonderful, I’m sure the magical world will rejoice at being saved from tiny horned animals, but it still leaves us with one bloody bed.”
Harry turned to look at the chaise lounge chairs by the reading area. “Maybe one of us can sleep in those.”
Draco turned and looked at the chairs. “Good idea, that looks terribly uncomfortable, I hope you like it.”
“Why me? We should toss for who gets the bed,” objected Harry.
“You and your drunken ramblings are what got us here. You can sleep in the bloody trees for all I care, I’m sleeping in the bed.” Draco stalked over to the kitchen area and opened all of the cabinet doors with one flick of his wand. His laugh of surprise motivated Harry to see what he had found.
Harry had his own laugh as he saw that the cabinets were filled with neatly arranged boxes, each labeled with color coded labels stating their contents in Hermione’s perfect penmanship. The breakfast boxes had yellow labels, lunches were green, suppers were purple, and snacks were blue. A cooling cabinet had been filled with fruit juices, wine, milk and other perishables. A large basket filled with fruit sat on the worksurface.
“I guess we don’t have to worry about starving,” Harry said, shaking his head at Hermione’s organization.
Draco ignored him as he picked up one of the bottle of wines out and looked at it with distaste. “I hope the food she supplied is of better quality than the wine.”
“At least it is alcohol, we are going to need all of that to make it through this week,” Harry said with a shrug, but looking over his shoulder he saw that Draco had walked away and was now standing on the veranda with his wand extended.
Harry laughed as he saw two robes flying through air like colorful Dementors. Their shoes, Harry shirt and the other items they had left on the beach soon followed, landing neatly on the floor in front of Draco.
“Show off,” Harry said with a smile as he reached down and dug in his robe pockets for the case that Hermione had given him. “I hope Hermione packed what I needed, I want to get cleaned up after that climb. It looked like there was a wash up spot behind the cabana.” He was still covered with dirt and his hair was itchy from his fall.
He found the small case and was about to used his wand to resize it when he noticed Draco. Draco had pulled out a small cube from his robe pocket. Setting it on the ground he flicked his wand again and the cube became a large wood crate. Draco lifted off the lid, revealing twelve bottles of wine. He pulled out a bottle of white wine with a self-satisfied look on his face.
“You brought wine to take on a Ministry case,” Harry said in disbelief.
“I brought a case of wine intended for a gift for the New Zealand Potions Master,” Draco corrected as he used his wand to open the bottle. “It never hurts to smooth diplomatic doors open with wine.”
“Especially when you are being brought in to check another person’s work,” Harry added as Draco summoned two glasses from inside the cabana.
“Precisely. In any case it will make the week more bearable if we do not have to drink that plonk that Granger thought passed as wine and thankfully it is already chilled.” Draco filled the glasses and held a glass out to Harry. Harry started to reach for it and then his hand froze as he stared at the glass in Draco’s hand as he remembered the night three years ago when Draco had last offered him a glass of wine.
There was condensation on the side of the glasses, and beads of moisture slowly rolled down its side. Harry looked at Draco’s firm hand cradling the glass and then forced himself to look up from the glass. All humor had gone out of Draco’s face, Harry could tell at a glance that Draco was remembering back also.
“Test it.” Draco said as he held the glass up a little higher. Harry felt his throat thicken as he tried to push away the memory, knowing he was being foolish he reached up and went to take the glass but Draco did not let it go. “Test it,” Draco repeated.
“It’s fine, Draco,” Harry said as he pulled the glass from Draco’s hand. He raised the glass to his mouth and took a sip. The wine felt refreshing in the heat of the afternoon and he could pick out, as Draco had taught him, the flavors of pear and melon in the wine. Draco held his own wine glass and swirled the wine in it, looking down into the glass. Harry heard the intake of breath and knew that Draco was going to try and talk about what he couldn’t bear to hear. He set down the glass on the railing. “I’m going to go get cleaned up.”
“We can eat when I get back.” Harry went back into the cabana and picked up his case and quickly went down the stairs.
Behind the cabana there was a small garden area, overflowing with flowering plants that had blossoms as large as his hand. Underneath the platform that held up the house was the small toilet and shower, a woven half wall was all that had been put up for privacy.
Shampoo, soap and towels were already set out and Harry didn’t waste any time as he turned on the water and stripped off his shorts. He stood under the pounding spray, letting the water wash away the dirt from his climb. The cool water felt good after the heat and Harry needed the time to think. Things had happened so fast that he couldn’t keep up.
The wine. Harry cursed as he remembered his reaction. Of all the stupid gut-reactions he could have had, that was the dumbest. Harry growled at himself as he scrubbed at his scalp to wash away the sand. There was no reason to suppose that Draco had tampered with the wine, and he hadn’t thought about that night in ages. As he stood under the pounding spray of the water he thought back to the night three years ago, when he’d walked into their kitchen surprised to find Draco holding out a glass of wine for him. He had taken it from him, relieved that Draco had seemed to have let go of his anger at Harry for the night.
Harry had taken a few sips of the pinot noir as he leaned against the worksurface, thinking that maybe the evening would not end in a fight like the previous three had. He’d swirled the wine and started to ask Draco what he wanted for supper when he’d heard Draco ask, “Are you having an affair?”
Harry remembered how he had sucked in his breath as the question registered with him, but before he could even compose an answer he had heard himself replying, “No.” He had stared in disbelief at Draco who was standing in the middle of the kitchen, Harry hadn’t ever seen such a cold expression on his face.
Harry had looked at the glass in his hand and flung it at Draco, he’d just had time to shout, “You bastard, you had no—” before Draco asked his next question. “Where were you last night?” “Prophet office.” As the Veritaserum made him answer again, Harry had realized that he needed to get away from Draco before he asked any more questions. He’d turned and apparated away, landing in a heap on the floor of Ron and Hermione’s sitting room.
That Draco had slipped him Veritaserum that night had been more than just a betrayal; their relationship had started when Harry had approached Draco looking for help to detect potions in his beverages after one too many close calls with love potions being slipped into his drinks. That Draco would deliberately taint his wine with a potion Harry found unforgivable. He’d gone back to the flat after the potion had worn off, demanding an apology, which Draco had refused to give, nor would he promise to not do it again.
Their relationship had always been honest, painfully so sometimes: they’d known each other too long to play games. That night had been the end, although Harry had tried to move past Draco’s betrayal. Draco couldn’t accept that Harry wouldn’t tell Draco what he was doing. All he could do was ask Draco to trust him, and it wasn’t enough.
Harry shut off the water and grabbed a towel from the rack and roughly started drying himself off. There was no point in looking back at their failed marriage, he just needed to find a way to make it through the next week. He hung up the towel and opened the case that Hermione had given him.
Everything in the case was brand new. Hermione must have purchased clothes rather than risk going to his flat and have him notice his clothes were missing. Between the food, the clothes and everything else, she’d gone to tremendous trouble and expense to put this whole thing together. It was so uncharacteristic of her that he was worried. Cunning plots and subterfuge were not Hermione’s style, even though she was more than capable of them.
Harry dressed as slowly as he could, putting of the inevitability of having face Draco again. When he finally went upstairs he found the room empty. Wondering if Draco had actually found a way off the island and had left without saying good-bye, Harry stood out on the veranda and gave a sigh of relief when he spotted Draco, standing a few feet from the water’s edge, staring out at the waves.
Harry watched him for a minute and then his stomach growled reminding him how long it had been since he’d eaten. As he turned he saw the wine glass sitting on the rail exactly where he’d left it. It was still cool, Draco must have cast a cooling charm on it before he’d gone to the beach. Harry sighed and picked it up and saw the telltale rainbow shimmer on the surface of the wine. Draco had cast a protection charm on it, the same one he’d taught Harry years before.
As he debated whether Draco could have meant the gesture as a belated apology or a peace offering, Harry released the charm and walked back into the cabana.
In the kitchen area he opened the cupboard that held the food and grabbed a box that was labeled “Supper - Angel Hair Pasta with Clam Sauce.” When he lifted the lid on it the preservation charm was released and the garlic smell of the sauce wafted into the room. Harry peered back into the box and realized there was an extendable charm in the box and there was a green salad and even a fruit tart for dessert.
Harry started plating up the meal. Deciding it would be better to eat out on the veranda he sent the plates floating gently out to the table as he followed. Draco was heading up the path from the beach as Harry put the plates and cutlery on the table. Draco had changed into a white linen shirt and casual beige loose fitting trousers. Harry wondered how it was that Draco always managed to have the right clothes, even when he was deposited unexpectedly on a Caribbean island.
Standing with his back to the stairs Harry fussed with the plates and refilled both of their wine glasses from the bottle on the table, emptying it. He sensed Draco as he hesitated at the top of the stairs. “Let’s eat while it is still hot, I’m starving.” Harry said without turning around and was grateful when Draco came over and sat at the table without saying anything.
Sitting down at the chair opposite Harry deliberately took another sip of wine to show Draco that he wasn’t bothered by it any longer. Draco was looking down at his plate with an odd expression on his face. “Is something wrong?” Harry started to ask but then he looked down at their plates and saw with horror that he had, without even thinking about it, given himself all of the tomatoes from the salad and Draco, all of the mushrooms. Draco’s plate was heavy on sauce and light on pasta and Harry’s the opposite.
“Fuck.” Harry grabbed his glass and took a large swallow as he stared at the plates, a flush rising in his cheeks. Of all the stupid things to do.
“It’s nothing. I’m surprised you remembered,” Draco said offhandedly as he started eating.
Harry wished it was nothing, he could scarcely admit that there wasn’t much he didn’t remember about Draco’s likes and dislikes. His preference for coffee in the morning. His love of fruit. It had taken weeks for Harry to stop automatically putting oranges in his shopping trolley.
“Right.” Harry picked up his fork and started eating. The food was delicious, the salad somehow had stayed perfectly crisp and the pasta tasted as if it had just come from a restaurant’s kitchen. It certainly wasn’t anything Hermione had cooked, he’d suffered through enough of her meals before Ron had finally taken over the role of cook in their marriage. Harry finished his wine and didn’t protest as Draco refilled his glass.
Draco was silently staring out at the turquoise water on the horizon. It was better than shouting or cold anger. Harry supposed they were both resolved to the situation and knew they would have to make the best of it. They had lived together for over three years, surely they could manage a week.
Funny how he had always hoped to escape to somewhere like this with Draco and now that he’d found it (or Hermione had) he couldn’t wait to leave. He It was strange thinking that the cabana and the whole island was his, he hoped he had the nerve to come back again one day, or if it would just become one more place filled by the memories of Draco.
No longer hungry, Harry pushed back his plate. “I wish Hermione had deemed to provide a house—” Harry stop talking as he stared down at the dirty plates. Jumping to his feet, he shouted, “KREACHER”
Startled, Draco leapt up, sending his chair flying, “What’s wrong—”
“KREACHER, I ORDER YOU TO COME HERE!”
Draco shook his head, “It won’t work, Harry—” he stopped speaking as a scroll of parchment appeared in the air in front of Harry.
“What the...” Harry grabbed the scroll and ripped away the blue ribbon to unroll it.
Kreacher regrets he cannot honor Master’s command.
“What does he mean he can’t? He’s my house-elf!”
Draco said with a laugh, “You did give him his freedom.”
“I know, I had to or Hermione would have killed me, but he’s never not responded before.” Harry crumbled up the paper and threw it on the table and then vanished the food and sent the plates sailing back to the kitchen, not caring in his frustration when he heard them crash into something.
“I could have told you it wouldn’t work.” Draco said, walking over to lean against the railing.
"Because it didn’t work when I tried to summon him out on the beach. I’d hoped that the Black family connection would be a strong enough to bring him to me,” Draco said with a bitter laugh. “Ironic, that we are in paradise and both of us want to escape. I was thinking that we could prepare a bonfire on the shore to use a as a signal in case we see a ship.”
“I doubt it would work,” Harry said with a shake of his head. “I’ve no doubt that the island has protective wards that prevent it from being seen.”
“Can you think of any other way off the island?” Draco came to stand next to Harry, gazing out at the water.
“No.” Harry grimaced, “Unless you know how to re-charm the Portkey.”
“Beyond my area of specialty. Didn’t know if you—” Draco stopped himself.
“If I what?”
“Nothing, just thought you might have another idea on how to get off.”
“Afraid not, unless someone at work or Ron finds out what Hermione has done,” Harry shook his head. “I’m afraid we are stuck here.”
“I should have brought more wine.”
“I’m going to go for a walk,” Harry said abruptly, he didn’t want to think about what the next week was going to be like. He’d done okay, these past three years, by just keeping his distance from Draco. He’d taken care to avoid all of Draco’s favorite haunts, he’d forced himself to not stare at Draco during meetings, he’d packed away all the photographs and mementos from their marriage. All that was of no use to him now, there was no way he could avoid the man himself the entire week.
“I think I will put my things away, seeing as there is no getting off the alternative there is no point in letting them get wrinkled in the suitcase.” Draco turned and started back inside.
Harry had walked slowly along the shore, watching as the shore birds darted away from the lapping edge of the waves as they sought their dinner. The beach curved towards the back of the island and he could see the rough rocky shoal that he’d seen from the top of the cliff. It was hotter now that the afternoon sun was hitting the beach and there was no shade and little breeze. Remembering Draco’s concern about sunburns Harry cast a sun protection charm as he sat down in the sand and let his mind wander back to when it had all started between Draco and himself.
After he’d gone to Draco seeking help in detecting potions, Harry had invited him out for a drink in thanks. Draco accepted, saying it was an opportunity to see if Harry had learned anything from the potion detection lessons. It had been the start of their friendship.
Harry had been out for years by then, he didn’t know about Draco who had lived his personal life out of the public eye. Harry had never heard him talk about any boyfriend or girlfriend. They would often meet for a drink after the work week or after a Quidditch match, but Harry had had no thoughts of thinking about Draco as any more than a friend. Harry had given up on any kind of permanent relationship, resigned to the fact that any relationship he attempted was cursed by his simply being ‘Harry Potter’.
It was Draco who had, on a bright and crisp September afternoon, pulled Harry behind the stands at the Quidditch pitch and kissed him. Within weeks they had moved in together, and a few months after that they’d married, without fanfare, in Godric’s Hollow. After knowing each other most of their lives there seemed to be no reason to wait.
So quietly had they gone about their married life together, few knew they’d married beyond close friends and co-workers. It was a year later when they had attended the fifteen year-anniversary of the end of the war that their marriage become public knowledge. And the backlash caught them both by surprise.
The Prophet began running daily editorials on the front page about how all Death Eaters should be in Azkaban. Articles began accusing Draco of heinous activities and Draco and Harry felt their world closing in around them as wherever they went they were greeted with hostile stares and on occasion, hexes.
Harry had been caught off guard completely by the Prophet’s attacks. He’d endured the paper’s attention for the first few years after the war, waiting patiently for them to lose interest in him and had been glad when any mention had been reduced to the occasional mention of him on the gossip page. At first he had agreed with Draco and simply ignored all of the articles but as they got more vindictive Harry had had enough and in a rage went to the Prophet office and met Bainbridge for the first time.
The wiry man looked more like an actor playing Dicken’s Scrooge than a newspaper editor as he stood up. Harry extended his hand but the man had refused to shake it. “I don’t shake hands with those who consort with Death Eaters.” From there, the meeting had gone quickly downhill. Harry had had to battle to keep control of his temper when Bainbridge had not only refused to print any retractions but had declared that he wouldn’t stop until Draco was in Azkaban with all the rest of the Death Eaters.
Harry had left the office in a rage and gone immediately to Ron to find out more information about who Bainbridge was. His friendship with Ron had become strained following Harry’s marriage (“It’s fine if you want to mess around with him, but did you have to marry the prat?”) but Ron hadn’t liked the turn the Prophet had taken against Harry and Draco.
With some digging they discovered that Bainbridge had been a deputy minister in the Ministry’s Communication department until Umbridge had ordered his Muggle-born wife’s wand snapped. Unable to defend herself, she had been killed by Death Eaters a week later. Ron had promised Harry that the Aurors would keep an eye on him but there wasn’t much they could do without any enough proof to start an investigation.
Harry had made it his mission to find the evidence. He’d stalked the man, making notes of every contact he made, had broken into the Prophet offices, had bribed Prophet employees to bring him interoffice owls. He’d gotten the evidence to take Bainbridge down, but had destroyed his marriage in the process.
Harry pushed off the sand, and ran his hands through his hair in frustration. This was all Hermione’s fault. Why did she have to do this to him? Unable to sit still any longer, he started walk back down the beach, occasionally reaching down and flinging a seashell or rock into the air, sending the birds scattering. As he neared the cabana he slowed down, it was too soon to go back.
He eyed the thatched roof top of the cabana, he couldn’t see Draco. He was probably still arranging the multitude of outfits he’d probably packed.
Harry turned and looked towards the water, the gentle waves rolling onto the shore seemed to beckon him and it looked a lot more inviting than going back to the cabana. Stripping off his shorts and shirt, he waded into the water until he was deep enough to make a shallow dive. The water felt exhilarating, cool but far warmer any English shore. With strong strokes he swam out towards the reef that he’d noticed fifty yards out, and then turned and followed the shoreline.
Wishing he had his wand to cast a Bubble-Head charm to better see the reef beneath him, Harry swam until his muscles ached and then headed towards the land. Stepping carefully to avoid the conch shells that lay scattered along the bottom he walked back to where he left his shorts and wand.
Casting a quick drying charm that stung his skin as the salt water dried, Harry put on his shorts and made his way back to the cabana.
Draco was reading in a lounge chair out on the veranda when Harry came up the steps. Harry glanced around the veranda, something looked different and then it struck him. The chair that Draco was sitting in had originally been set over in the corner, facing the jungle. Draco had dragged it over to the center of the veranda. Glancing back towards the beach he realized that Draco must have moved it to watch him swimming. His body immediately reacted at the thought of Draco sitting here and watching him swim in the nude.
“If you are done gawking, you’ll want to shower, rinse off the salt.” Draco said without looking from his book. Harry opened his mouth, wanting to point out that Draco had clearly been gawking at him, but thought better of it and went to shower for the second time.
By the time he was going back up the stairs, Harry was exhausted. It was late, London time, and even though the sun was still shining brightly he was ready for bed. Wearily he walked over to the kitchen and filled a glass with water before sinking into the lounge chair near the bookcase.
Through the open window he could see Draco was still reading his book on the veranda, a glass of wine by his side. Harry turned to look for a book, but let his arm fall by his side instead. Even though it was still hours until sunset he couldn’t keep his eyes open. Vowing to only close his eyes for a minute he turned on his side and fell asleep.
It was pitch black when he woke, jarred awake by the cry of an animal out in the jungle. Disoriented he sat up and looked around the room. Lit by the moonlight, he could see Draco stretched out in the middle of the bed. He hadn’t closed the mosquito netting and it was easy to see him as he shifted in his sleep, the sheet covering him slipping down as his body stretched and turned. Draco had obviously seen no need to not sleep in the nude as had always been his preference (‘Saves time’ he used to say with a smirk, his fingers trailing down Harry’s spine.)
Harry gave a growl of frustration and went to get a drink of water, but instead found himself standing next to the bed, letting his eyes sweep over Draco’s body, the smoothness of his chest marred only by the long-faded scars from their sixth year, the taut flatness of his abdomen and the gorgeous curve of Draco’s hip bones where they disappeared beneath the sheet.
He ached with the desire to slide onto the bed next to Draco and run his hands down Draco’s chest, let his tongue trace the line of his hip bones. Harry’s cock was hard and throbbing and as he felt it twitch he reared back in self-loathing. The floor beneath him squeaked and Draco’s eyes flew open and connected with Harry’s.
Before he could react, Harry saw Draco look down Harry’s body and his grey eyes widened as he recognized Harry’s erection pressing against the fabric of his shorts. Draco started to sit up and that was all it took to get Harry moving.
Turning, Harry ran down the steps and was on the path to the cliff before he even realized what he was doing. His bare feet pounded on the stone steps, his heart pounding he ran to the top of the cliff and fell to his knees, his lungs burning.
Harry slammed his fists onto the rock, needing the pain to stop the want. He knew he was a coward, but there were some things he could not face, and having Draco know that he was still in love with him was one of them. He knew it had been written all over his face, Draco has always said Harry had no skills at obfuscation. Everything inside of him had wanted to reach out and touch Draco.
He sensed rather than heard Draco behind him. “Go away,” was all he could manage to say as he wiped at his eyes, furious that Draco was seeing him like this.
“No.” Draco was standing ten feet away, as if he was afraid to get too close.
“Draco, if you ever cared for me even a little, you will just go away.” Harry’s voice cracked as he tried to maintain control. He stared out at the horizon where the moon was setting. There was a long pause, and then Harry heard the very faint sound of bare feet moving over rock and he was alone again.
The pain of a full bladder making sleep impossible. Every muscle in Harry’s body ached as he pushed himself off the ground. Bleary eyed, he squinted against the brightness of the sunrise. He’d fallen asleep up on cliff, and he gave a groan as the events of the night came rushing back to him. Looking down at his hands, he winced at the condition of his battered knuckles, he didn’t need any other proof that the events of the night had not been just another nightmare. And Draco had seen it all.
That Draco witnessed him losing all control was more than he could bear; throughout the collapse of their marriage Harry had been able to maintain the necessary facades so that Draco would not know how it was destroying him. Not this time.
His stomach ached with hunger but there was no way that he could go back to the cabana with Draco in it. Harry dragged himself to his feet and stretched carefully, between yesterday’s climb and sleeping in the chair and on the ground he felt like a ninety-year old. Walking over to the edge of the cliff to pee, he watched with faint amusement as the urine cascaded in a golden stream down into the water far below. His bladder emptied, he sat back down and watched the sunrise.
The entire sky was filled with color and the dark purples and pinks changed and moved as the sun rose above the tree line and the waves calmed and flattened as the morning air warmed and filled the air with the intoxicating scent of the flowers and fauna on the island. Flocks of gulls swooped low over the water skimming for their breakfast.
The thatched roof of the cabana was golden brown in the early morning sun and Harry wondered if Draco was awake. He was almost bound to be, Draco had never been one for sleeping in and with the time difference it must be late morning in England. Harry wondered how long he could stay up on the cliff, before hunger or thirst forced him to go back to the cabana. He had run out without even his wand so couldn’t even summon food. Laying back on the ground, he covered his face with his arms and wondered, not for the first time, why his life was always so complicated.
It was an hour later when he saw Draco walking along the far side of the beach, one of the chairs from inside floating behind him. Harry watched as Draco positioned the chair and sat down. After waiting a few minutes to make sure that Draco was staying where he was, Harry carefully crawled backwards until he could stand up without Draco seeing him and made his way down the path.
Reaching the steps of the cabana he listened carefully but heard no signs that Draco had returned. Running up the steps he paused at the top of the stairs, his body tense at the prospect of a confrontation, to his relief the room was empty. Harry hurried inside and snatched his wand up from beside the chair where it had fallen and went to the kitchen cupboards. Grabbing one of the yellow labeled boxes he was out of the cabana within thirty seconds. He started towards the path back to the cliff and then stopped. Better to go somewhere else, wielding around he found the overgrown path that he had seen by the shower the day before.
The path was thick with foliage, he had to use his wand to cut through vines as thick as his wrist as he climbed over the fallen trees and rocks. The canopy of the jungle was so thick that little sunlight and no breeze could penetrate it. Sweat dripped down his forehead in the humid, still heat. Just as he was wondering if the path was simply going to wrap around to the beach, he saw a glow of sunlight as he came around a turn. The sound of waves crashing told him he was near the water again and he approached the entrance carefully, not wanting to risk bumping into Draco.
He emerged instead onto a large rock overlooking the back of the island. Stretched out in front of him were the rock strewn shore that he had seen from the cliff. Large waves crashed against the rocks, casting a show of spray of white water before retreating as the next wave came ashore. Seeing a narrow path led to the right, Harry followed it until he came to a large flat rock and sat down on it. Starving, he opened the breakfast box with a sigh of relief as the smell of fresh baked pastries emerged. The sweet pastry melted in his mouth and Harry ate two without pause.
His hunger finally sated, he closed the box to save the rest of the pastries for later, Harry sat back and watched the waves, wondering if he could manage to spend the whole week on the island avoiding Draco. A disillusionment charm would be too easy to detect in a room as small as the cabana and the Invisibility Cloak was hanging on a hook back in his flat.
Standing up he eyed the tumbled mass of boulders that formed the shore. They lead to a outcrop that jutted into the water above the waves. Jumping from rock to rock Harry slowly made his way over and occasionally stopping to watch the tide pools of sea life as he went. Starfish and anemones were stuck to the crevices of the rocks and he stopped and small hermit crabs scuttle and run across the surface as they searched for their own breakfast.
The outcrop was ten feet across and stuck out above the water by a few feet. Pulling himself up on it, he stood up on it and looked down. His heart pounding he read the words chiseled into the rock’s smooth surface. He knelt down to trace the letters with his fingers:
Sirius Black was Here
and Buckbeak, too.
Harry spent the entire day on the rock, his hands splayed across rough-hewn letters, drawing strength from them. It was easy to imagine Sirius sitting on the rock, looking in the direction of where England lay across the ocean. For the first time he wondered what Sirius would have thought about his relationship with Draco.
Sirius’ world had been black and white and Harry imagined that he would not have trusted Draco. Of all people, Sirius knew what happened when you put trust in the wrong person. Harry hoped that if Sirius had lived to see them together, he could have convinced him that Draco was different than his father and that he was worthy of being trusted. Like he had tried to show the Weasleys and everyone else who doubted them and he had been making progress, before it all went to hell.
It had been Hermione who had believed in Draco, had believed that he had changed, and had been always careful to include Draco in any invitations that were extended to Harry. If he had known that Hermione’s lack of dislike for Draco would result in this island adventure three years later, Harry would have made sure she hated him like all the others.
Harry stretched out wearily on the rock, checking the time and recast the sun protection charm that unfortunately could not block the wind that had picked up and was now blowing sprays of water from the crashing waves onto the rock making it an unpleasant place to sit. He would need to move, and find a way to get more food. He had finished the last pastry hours ago and his body was craving something more.
Making his way through the path back to the cabana was slightly easier as he followed the trail he had blazed before. Before he knew it he was standing just a few feet from the clearing. Pointing his wand at the cabana he cast Homenum Revelio. The cabana was still vacant. Giving a sigh of relief, Harry still looked around carefully as he made his way lightly up the steps.
Going immediately to his suitcase, he pulled out a dry shirt and pair of shorts, and as an afterthought, he grabbed the windcheater that was at the bottom of the case. Moving to the kitchen he saw the remains of Draco’s breakfast and lunch sitting on the worksurface.
Harry saw that Draco had left half of each meal for Harry in their boxes, with the preservation charm in place. His hand hesitating for a moment, Harry scooped them up and looked over at the bookcase. A glance through the open doorway showed no sign of Draco so he made his way over to the case, quickly skimming the titles he grabbed two books and stood up to leave when he heard a tell-tale squeak of the stairs.
“Not done sulking yet, then? Going to run away again?” Draco’s scathing voice came from the doorway and Harry dearly wished he could apparate. Bracing himself he turned around to face Draco. What he saw made him blink. Draco was leaning against the doorway, one shirttail untucked, his shirt half buttoned, his hair was completely a mess, either from the wind or Draco’s own hand.
“What happened to you?”
Draco’s laugh was almost a giggle as he looked at Harry, “What happened...oh let’s see I was kidnapped and now I’m stuck here with you. And that is as fun as swimming with the giant squid without your swimming trunks on.” Draco blinked and looked around as if he forgot what he was saying, “Right. So. I decided to have some rum.”
“Rum? You don’t drink rum.” The stench of the sweet alcohol contradicted his words even before Draco did.
“Apparently, you’re wrong.” Draco said as he held up a bottle and then looked at in confusion as he turned it over, “Nope, you’re right. All empty.” He staggered two steps into the room and then jerked himself to a stop. “What did I come for?” He wheeled around and bumping into the chairs and tables made his way to the cupboards, pulling them open haphazardly. Harry looked at him in disbelief, Draco had never once lost control of himself in all the years they were together.
“Damn it, Draco. What the hell were you thinking?” Harry dropped the bundle and went over to Draco. One look into his glassy eyes confirmed that he was drunker than Harry had ever seen him. “We need to get some water in you. Do you know how strong that stuff is?”
“I thought it best to save time...” Draco’s voice faded away as he stuck his head in a cupboard. Harry filled a glass of water. Holding it in one hand and supporting Draco in the other, he lead him over to the bed and pushed him to a sitting position, ignoring Draco’s muttered protests.
Draco scowled but drank from the glass, when he was finished Harry slid off Draco’s sandals before swinging his legs over and onto the bed. Draco was passed out before Harry could even pull up a sheet.
Harry sat on the bed next to him, and slowly let his fingers trace along the smooth line of Draco’s jaw and then smoothed back his hair out of his face. He’d missed the soft touch of Draco’s hair. Missed seeing it all messy in the morning or after a Quidditch game, the only times Draco let it be completely disheveled.
Knowing he was letting himself get maudlin, Harry forced himself to get up. He was going to have a long night making sure that Draco didn’t choke on his own vomit, or worse. Picking up the book that he had dropped he sat down in the chair by the window and tried to read but found himself staring at Draco’s still body in the bed.
It was probably the day spent out in the sun, or maybe sleeping out on the cliff the night before but Harry fell asleep in the chair, he was startled awake by the sound of Draco’s curses as Draco kicked with his feet, trying to free himself from the sheets. Rushing over to the bed, he could tell by Draco’s shallow breaths and clammy skin that he was going to be sick.
“No, you don’t, not in the bed.” Harry half dragged half carried Draco to the nearest window and held his head out the window as Draco vomited. Trying not to gag at the sound of Draco’s retching, Harry rubbed his back and shoulders. When at last Draco straightened up, white faced and trembling, Harry helped him to the ground and leaned him against the wall. Draco’s eyes were shut tight as he rested against the wall.
“I’m going to get you some water, I’ll be right back,” Harry said and Draco gave a slight nod of acknowledgment. He filled a glass quickly and came back to sit next Draco. Draco took small sips of water and together they watched the sunset out the western window.
“Back to bed?” Harry asked at last and Draco nodded. Harry stood up and helped Draco to his feet, putting an arm around his waist. Draco draped his arm over Harry’s shoulders and they slowly made their way to the bed. Draco sat down heavily on the bed, but when Harry tried to get him to lay down he resisted and, with fumbling fingers, undid his shirt buttons and slid it off. Unable to keep his eyes open Draco fumbled with his waistband before Harry brushed Draco’s hands away in exasperation and undid the fastening for him. Satisfied, Draco stood up to slip them off and only then did he lay down on the bed, letting Harry pull up the sheet to his shoulders. Harry went to move away he was stopped by Draco’s hand gripping his hand tightly.
“Stay.” Draco pulled on Harry’s hand. “I’m in no shape to try anything. Just stay.” Draco slid across the bed to make room for Harry. Whether it was Draco’s lack of defenses or simply his own exhaustion, Harry lay down next to him, telling himself he would leave as soon as Draco was asleep.
Draco gave a self-satisfied sigh as he turned in his sleep to curl against Harry and put his arm over Harry’s waist, like they had fallen asleep together so many times before. Harry closed his eyes against the pain of the memory as he stroked Draco’s arm, letting himself savor the feeling of him. He closed his eyes and fell asleep to the sound of Draco’s steady breathing.
“Harry.” Draco’s moan woke Harry with a start. Draco’s face was as white as the sheet and Harry sat up quickly, afraid he was going to vomit again. “Hold on, just sit up.” he said hastily.
Draco shook his head and moaned at the jostling of the bed, “Potion.” Draco’s breathing was laboured as he tried to put words together. “Box. Second shelf. Yellow cap, blue flask.”
Harry stood up and looked around the room for the potions box. Spotting it next to the wardrobe he pulled it open and lifted out the top tray. Scanning the rows of flasks he found the one matching Draco’s description. He was checking the label to make sure it was correct when something caught his eye. Lifting out the next tray, Harry rocked back on his heels as he saw the photograph that he had last seen Draco throwing in the sand. He reached down and touched the image of Photo-Draco’s face laughing up at him as Photo-Harry pulled him close for a kiss.
Slowly, Harry put the trays back in the box, leaving the photograph where he’d found it. He gave the flask to Draco who sat up on his elbows to drink it, not even bothering to check to see what Harry had given him. Draco collapsed back against his pillow, shuddering as the potion took effect.
Harry walked over to the kitchen, it was still dark out but to the east there was a faint lightening in the sky, dawn could not be far away, and Harry’s stomach was telling him he’d missed yet another meal. Sorting through the boxes he pulled out the one labeled ham sandwiches and set about making two plates. After the potion started working he hoped that Draco would be hungry.
Filling two glasses with water and cooling the water with a charm, Harry returned to the bed and was relieved to see Draco sitting up and that some color had returned to his face.
Draco grimaced at the sight of the sandwiches but he took the plate from Harry Flipping off the top piece of bread he picked up a slice of ham and took a couple of careful bites as if testing his stomach’s stability.
Harry sat on the bed next to him, not even thinking about it, and started to eat. Sensing Draco looking up at him he started to stand up, only to have Draco stop him.
“Don’t. I need to apologize.”
“You didn’t do anything wrong. Well, other than drink a bottle of rum.”
Harry gave a laugh as Draco blanched at the word rum. “Don’t even say that, I don’t think I’ll be able to even smell rum punch again without gagging.”
Harry stood up and this time Draco didn’t stop him. “Eat what you can, and go back to sleep. The potion helps, but sleep is better.”
Draco looked around as if noticing for the first time that it was still dark. “Don’t leave. I mean, don’t leave the cabana, I’ll sleep on the chair, you can sleep here.” He started to swing his legs out of bed.
“Don’t be stupid,” Harry said and he turned and returned the plates to the kitchen. He looked back to see Draco looking shattered. “What’s wrong?”
“I don’t want you to sleep outside again. If you can’t sleep with me here, I’ll sleep outside.”
Harry opened his mouth to object to the illogic of Draco sleeping outside instead of him, but shut it again. Taking a deep breath he looked down and nodded. “I’ll sleep in the chair. Just go to sleep.” Draco didn’t seem to believe him until Harry went over and lay down on the lounge chair. With a satisfied sigh Draco lay back down and in a few minutes fell to sleep.
Harry sat in the chair and watched Draco sleep. Once he was sure that he wouldn’t wake up any time soon, he crept down the stairs and walked towards the beach. The grey of the night was being pushed back by the sun and he watched as the world slowly wake up. It was strange to think that in London that his co-workers had already finished their cups of mid-morning tea and were rushing off to get ready for afternoon meetings that always started immediately after lunch.
He hadn’t taken a holiday since the divorce. Ron teased him about not wanting to take time off lest they realized at the Ministry that he didn’t do anything, but the thought of taking a holiday only remind him of the trips he’d taken with Draco and all the future trips they had talked about but never taken.
“You never did adjust to time change well,” said Draco from a few feet away. Harry jumped to his feet, he’d been so lost in thought that he hadn’t heard him approaching. Draco was holding out a cup of coffee which Harry took warily. Draco sat down on the beach and Harry hesitated for a moment before sitting back down, warming his hands around the cup before taking a careful sip. Strong and black, just like he liked it.
“I need to know why you told Granger that you thought we could have made it.” Draco’s spoke so softly that Harry could hardly hear it over the sound of the waves.
“What does it matter? We had our chance and it didn’t work.”
“Why were you even talking about us?” Draco persisted, “It’s been three years. We both have moved on. Why would Granger bring it up?” Draco was looking down, creating what looked like Arithmancy symbols in the sand with his finger.
“It doesn’t matter.”
Harry gave a weary laugh. “You sound like Hugo, why this, why that.” Harry took another sip and gripped the mug tightly. Exhausted after two nights of interrupted sleep and the constant tension, he didn’t have the energy to hide what was inevitably going to come out.
“Harry.” Draco pleaded, and Harry felt his resistance give way.
Unable to look at Draco he stared out at the waves, “She asked me because she knows that I never moved on. As to why I told her that if it had just been you and I that everything would have been fine? Because it is true. You and me on our own? I'd never been happier, and I think you were, too.”
He gave a bitter laugh. “Then everything went wrong. The bloody Prophet with their constant lies and deceptions. Everyone hating that we were together. The stares and Howlers, even hexes because they all think that I am public property, because of what happened decades ago.” Harry shook his head. “I never should have dragged you into it.”
Realizing he had said too much as Draco stared at him in stunned shock, Harry started to stand up.
“No.” Draco had sat up and was pushing him back into the chair. Harry protested but Draco pushed back. “How can you even think that it was your fault?”
“If I had—”
“Don’t. I don’t know what delusions you’ve been living under for the past three years, but it was not your fault. I did not leave because of the Howlers or the any of that other shite. I left because of what it was doing to you—”
“What it was doing to me? What are you talking about?”
Draco looked at him incredulously. “I did not leave because I couldn’t take handle what was happening. I left because it was destroying you. The Prophet with their faked stories and damning photographs. All the attacks on us. You weren’t sleeping. Your nightmares started again. And they were as vicious to you, as they were to me. I will always be a Death Eater to the Wizarding world and that isn’t good enough for their Harry Potter.”
Harry opened his mouth to object, but Draco didn’t let him. “The Prophet and the Wizarding world was not going to let us forget it. And you pretended you didn’t care, but I knew you did.”
“Merlin! Of course, I cared—”
“In the end you were hardly ever home, you never would explain where you’d been. And you wouldn’t tell you where you were going at night and I thought the worst of you.” Draco’s voice sounded pained as he looked at Harry, “I was convinced you were having an affair, that you were going to leave me for someone else. it was the only thing that made sense.”
“Someone else? I never would have—”
“I know, but at the time with everything else happening I just wanted to have you with me and instead you were sneaking away at night and I was going crazy with not knowing...so I used the Veritaserum. Even though I knew it was wrong, I just couldn’t stand it any longer but as soon as I saw the expression on your face when you realized what I’d done, I realized how wrong it had been...”
Swallowing hard, Harry reached out and touched Draco’s arm. “I know you wouldn’t have done it if it weren’t for how bad things had gotten. If I could have told you what I was doing, I would have.”
“You’re going to tell me now.”
“Draco, it doesn’t matter anymore—”
“Bullshit. It matters to me. Whatever it was...do you know what I thought? At first I thought you were cheating on me, and then I realized that you just didn’t want to be with me anymore, you’d realized—
“No. No,” Harry shook his head, “It was that damn Prophet. I was trying to stop those articles and it all turned out to be this man, Bainbridge. He masterminded it all: the articles, the fake photographs, everything. He was set on destroying you.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Bainbridge was unhinged. He’d lost his wife in the war and was on vendetta against anyone he saw as a Voldemort sympathizer, but especially you. I went to Ron and he said there wasn’t much the Aurors could do without evidence. I worked for weeks finding what was needed to stop Bainbridge—”
“Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t—”
“Because it was illegal! I broke any law that was in my way—I knew if I told you about it you would insist on helping and I couldn’t risk you getting caught. When I had enough, I told Ron, he convinced MacKenzie to bring in Bainbridge. I knew that after Bainbridge was put away the Prophet’s hate campaign would stop, Bainbridge was the driving force behind it, and with him out they would go back to their usual drivel.”
Draco shook his head. “The Prophet articles stopped when I moved out.”
“No. Bainbridge had been arrested that next day. I’d come home to tell you everything and it was already too late. You were through with me and all the baggage that comes with me being Harry Potter and I couldn’t blame you—”
“We were both idiots.” Draco seemed to be studying Harry as if seeing him for the first time. He reached out and ran his fingers down the side of Harry’s face. Harry pulled back and shaking his head he stood up.
“This doesn’t change anything, Draco.”
“What are you talking about?” Draco scrambled to his feet, “It changes everything.”
“You don’t see it? There is always going to be another Bainbridge. They aren’t going to just let us live our lives. If we are together we just draw more attention to ourselves. It is better, safer, if we aren’t together.”
“That is crazy—”
“I’m not going to risk it. Without me, you can just be Draco Malfoy, Potion Master, but when people see us together, it is different, they get hung up on the fact that I’m bloody Harry Potter and can’t accept that I am with you. I can’t take a chance on anyone harming you.”
“You do not have the right to make that decision. You did not have the right to keep me in the dark with this Bainbridge character and you sure as hell don’t have the right to decide our future on something that may never happen. I decide if something is too risky for me, not you.”
“No.” Harry shook his head. “I’m not willing to take that chance. I’ve lost everyone who has ever loved me, Sirius, Dumbledore, my parents. There is no way I am going to let something happening to you.”
“That isn’t your decision to make,” Draco said as he took a couple of steps towards Harry. “And you are wrong, you have plenty of people who love you who are still walking around and considering how quickly the Weasley family is replicating, more every day. I don’t want to sleep another night not knowing where you are.” He pulled Harry towards him, his arms going around Harry’s waist. “It destroyed me, the other night when you left, that you would want to sleep up on that bloody cliff rather than even be in the same room as me.”
“I had to leave. If I stayed I would have...” Harry needed space to think, but Draco had his arms around him and holding him tightly. “I couldn’t have stayed away.”
“Do you have any idea how much I didn’t want you to stay away?”
“I seem to recall something about me sleeping in a tree, rather than sharing a bed,” Harry said dryly.
Draco bent his head low against Harry’s. “I think you have known me long enough to know that you can’t trust everything I say in the heat of the moment,” he said, and he pressed a kiss against Harry’s neck, just behind his ear. Harry closed his eyes and fought for reason.
“We shouldn’t do this,” he repeated, even as his arms slid down Draco’s back.
“Why not?” Draco was pressing himself against Harry and it was easy to feel the press of his erection against his own.
“But—” A thousand reasons why they shouldn’t came to mind but Harry knew that he was going to let it happen. He’d spent too many nights alone in his flat wishing he could just have Draco one more time.
Draco gripped the back of Harry’s head and pulled Harry to him, their mouths came together, hot open mouthed kisses as their tongues flicked together. Harry gave a moan as Draco pressed his hips into Harry’s and he pulled Draco closer to feel their erections rub together through their clothes.
He was so hard that he knew that he wouldn’t last, it had been far too long and his need after spending the last two days near Draco had his balls aching for release. Tugging on Draco, he pulled him down into the sand, Draco on top of him as Harry thrust up against him, and wrapped his legs around Draco’s to pull him tighter as they frantically found the rhythm they needed. Harry’s cock rubbed painfully against the fabric of his shorts but he wasn’t about to stop.
His fingers gripped Harry’s hair tightly as he held Harry’s head and kissed Harry’s outstretched neck, and along his jawline. Harry could feel his balls drawing up and knew he wasn’t going to last. “Come with me, Draco,” he whispered in Draco’s ear as he thrust up. Draco cried out as he came and Harry couldn’t hold back any longer as he buried his face against Draco’s neck and finally felt his release.
Supporting himself on his forearms on either side of Harry’s head, Draco pressed against Harry as the last of Harry’s orgasm subsided. His fingers brushed away sand from Harry’s face and traced the line of his jaw, Harry’s whiskers making a rasping noise. “Did I ever tell you how incredibly sexy your whiskers are?”
Harry gave a laugh and shook his head, feeling the sand grinding into his hair as he did. “As I seem to recall you always made quite a fuss about making sure I shaved again before going out.”
“That is because,” Draco bent his head down and kissed Harry just below the chin, “I knew I couldn’t possibly spend the evening out with you and your five o’clock shadow and not want to climb over the table and molest you.”
“Draco,” Harry pushed on Draco’s shoulders and Draco rolled off to his side, keeping one leg possessively over Harry’s. “What are we going to do?”
Draco growled, a low rumble that went straight to Harry’s groin, “I hope like hell we are going to go up to that huge bloody bed and spend the rest of the day in it.”
“I meant when we get back,” Harry sat up, grimacing as he brushed off the sand that coated his arms and legs, “What are we going to do?”
“I imagine I am going to have to endure Granger’s smug smile,” Draco stood up and held his hand out to pull Harry up. “Then we’ll have a two-day row while I make certain that you know that under no circumstances will you be allowed to go off like a fucking knight in shining armor to rescue me from those who wish me harm. I am not anyone’s damsel in distress.”
Harry backed Draco towards the bed, not pausing in his kisses as they moved across the floor his arms pressing Draco’s body to him, wet from the shower that Draco had insisted on to rinse off from their session on the beach.
Draco bumped into the edge of the mattress and scrambled onto it with Harry climbing up behind him. His knee slipped between Draco’s legs pushing them apart. Harry held himself up on straight arms and looked down at Draco’s face just a few inches from his, resisting Draco’s hands as he tried to pull his head down.
“Wanted this for so long,” Harry said as he studied Draco’s face. “Didn’t think we would ever—“
“If you don’t get a move on, I might be done before we even get started,” Draco said with a groan as he pulled Harry’s hips against his, and their cocks rubbed together.
Harry started to kiss Draco again, but pulled back in alarm, “Tell me that you brought lube.”
“Please.” Draco turned his head towards the nightstand table, “I’m a potions master, it’s in the nightstand table.”
“Thank, Merlin.” Harry said, not any wasting time to pull the drawer open and find the tube, fumbling it open. There would be plenty of time later to spend hours exploring each others bodies but right now he just had to fulfill the burning need to be in Draco, to feel the heat, to hear Draco’s cries as he pushed in. Draco drew his knees up and Harry froze at the sight of Draco offering himself.
"Harry." Draco said through gritted teeth and Harry focused on what needed to be done. Stretching his body against Draco, he kissed him at the same time as he carefully started to prepare him. Draco arched against Harry's touch.
Harry became lost in the need to give more, feel more as their bodies moved together as if no time had passed since their last time. Harry looked down at Draco, his eyes were closed, his lips pursed and sweat clinging to his forehead, as he pushed up to meet Harry. Draco called out his own release as he felt Harry's. Harry struggled against the urge to collapse on top of Draco, as the last reflexive thrusts of his hips subsided and he supported his weight on his elbows.
The sound of the curtains flapping against the early morning breeze woke Harry, and he reached down to pull the duvet over them. The wind was blowing through the trees and Harry could hear the branches rubbing wood against wood, the rustle of the palms and in the distance the cry of birds. The rays of the sun were just stretching across the room, filling the room with golden color.
Draco had flung his arm over Harry’s waist in his sleep and Harry could see the faded Dark Mark. So many twists and turns their lives had taken, Harry supposed he really shouldn’t be surprised that the fates had again led them together. His blond hair was tousled by sleep and Harry loved how it fell across his forehead. As he watched him sleep, Harry thought about what had happened the day before and with a feeling of dread he couldn’t suppress wondered how long it would last.
His whole life, he had been the pawns of others. When he and Draco had married he’d honestly believed that things had changed, that he could finally live his life for himself and be happy. Then Bainbridge had started his campaign against him and he realized that nothing had changed, it wasn’t fair to drag Draco into such a life.
Draco dragged the pillow over his head and mumbled, “Next time have Granger imprison us in a house that has walls and windows.”
“Hmmm.” Harry turned to face Draco, propping his head up on his hand. “You always were tetchy in the morning.” Harry said, running his hand down Draco’s back. “Get up, I’m starved.”
“You get up. I think I’ve earned breakfast in bed. And coffee.” Draco’s hand reached over blindly and grabbed Harry’s pillow and he added to the other one on his head. “And cast a Silencio to quiet those damn birds.”
Harry slid out of bed and walked over to the kitchen area. Harry grabbed a breakfast meal box and opened it. The smell of fresh baked croissants filled the air as the preservation charm released its magic. A basket of mangoes and papaya was on the worksurface. Charming the water hot, Harry started the coffee brewing in the cafetière before slicing fruit to go with the rolls, snacking on bits of mango as he worked.
By the time breakfast was ready, the sun had cleared the trees and it was starting to get warm. He looked over to the bed. Draco was leaning back in bed, the pillows piled behind him as he watched Harry. Harry was suddenly very conscious of his naked state.
“I’m fairly certain there are safety guidelines against making coffee without pants on,” drawled Draco as he watched Harry pour the coffee.
Harry gave a smile and shrugged, “I’ve faced bigger dangers. Let’s eat out on the veranda,” Harry said. “You don’t like crumbs in the bed.”
“True.” Draco slid out of bed and stood, stretching with his arms over his head. A flinch of pain crossed his face.
“Are you okay, I wasn’t too—”
“I’m fine. Let’s just say it’s been a while.” Draco said, as he stretched again, a little more carefully. Harry watched every move and reveled in the memory that he’d stroked and kissed every inch of it. Draco gave him a knowing smile as he saw Harry looking at him. He padded over in his bare feet to where Harry stood, and kissed him. “You taste like mango.”
Harry leaned back against the cabinet and relished the feeling of Draco’s naked body against his own as he pulled Draco closer. “You felt incredible.”
“You did to, worth every ache this morning,” Draco said as he kissed Harry’s neck. “You make me feel like a damn teenager, can’t wait to have you again.”
Harry ran his fingers through Draco’s hair, relishing in the fact that he could do it, as his body reacted to Draco’s lips against his skin. “Food first. We have to keep up our energy, we have a lot of lost time to make up for.”
They didn’t spend the entire day in bed: after a lazy post-breakfast romp, they walked along the beach. Harry told Draco about Sirius’s mark on the rock and he insisted on seeing it. In the afternoon they went for a swim, both looking ridiculous as they cast Bubble Head Charms in order to see all the fishes and coral in the shallow waters of the reef.
By late afternoon they had retreated to the veranda, pulling two chairs together so they could read next to each other. Draco reached over and ran his hand down Harry’s arm, frowning as Harry flinched.
“Nothing, just a little tender.” Harry gave a shrug.
Harry went to pull back his arm, but Draco lightly grasped it, and with a careful press, pushed down with his fingers on Harry’s forearm. Four white lines appeared and disappeared into the reddened skin.
“Please tell me you refreshed the sun protection charm while we were out swimming.” Draco said in consternation.
“What? Oh, no. I forgot, I guess.” Harry looked down at his arms, they were looking a little red.
“You are radiating heat. You’re lucky if you didn’t get sunstroke.” Draco stood up, “Get over to the bed.”
“We need to treat that sunburn or you are going to be agony in a few hours.” Draco crossed the room to his potion box.
“Draco, this is ridiculous. I’ve gotten sunburns before, it’ll be fine.”
“Have you gotten sunburns on Caribbean island somewhere near the equator walking around in just a pair of shorts not to mention swimming nude?” Draco didn’t even bother to look up as searched the case for something. Scowling he pulled out a small lidded jar. “This will have to do, if you are worse tomorrow, I’ll brew a stronger lotion.”
Harry shook his head. “You’re overreacting.”
“Harry, if there is one thing I know about after having to live with this pale skin of mine for the past forty years, it is that you have to treat burns early. Now, stop being a schoolgirl and get over to the bed.”
Harry looked down at his arm again. It was red and he could feel every seam of his shorts where they touched his skin.
“Bloody, stupid Gryffindors.” Draco stalked over to Harry. “The entire lot of you are stark, raving mad.” He took Harry’s arm and dabbed some of the green-blue gel on Harry’s arm. Almost immediately a cooling sensation eased the tenderness.
“That feels better,” said Harry in surprise. “I guess I am a little—”
“Just get over to the bed, Potter.” Draco gave him a push, and Harry reluctantly walked over to the bed and stripped off his shorts.
“What is that stuff?”
“Something you would never be able to create in a hundred attempts, be glad I’m willing to use it on you.” Draco said as he set the jar down on the nightstand table. Harry eyed him warily as Draco took a glob of the gel and stood next to the bed. “Budge over and roll over on your stomach.”
Harry closed his eyes and did what Draco said. He buried his face in the pillow as he felt Draco sit next to him. “Just pretend like I’m your friendly neighborhood potion master who makes house calls.”
“Right.” Harry mumbled into the pillow, the word ending in a groan as Draco’s fingers started rubbing the healing gel onto his skin in broad gentle strokes. The heat immediately disappeared and took with it the tenderness and pain, but feeling Draco’s fingers against his skin was starting a new fire. Harry bit the inside of his cheek to keep from moaning as Draco started using both hands to rub, he could feel his cock getting hard and pressed his hips into the mattress in a vain attempt to suppress it. Draco chuckled as he started rubbing the lotion on Harry’s bottom, Harry moaned at the feeling of cool relief and Draco’s fingers.
“Don’t squirm so much.” Draco’s hands again were rubbing in the ointment. “You really should be more careful swimming in the nude. I would hate to think of this gorgeous arse of yours being out of commission.” Harry bucked convulsively at the feel of Draco’s fingers..
“You bastard,” Harry mumbled into the pillow as he arched up, needing Draco’s hands to stop their light massage and fill his need.
“Not until I’m done, until then, you are my patient.” Draco said as he reached for more lotion. His fingers ran low along Harry’s hips and then down the back of his thigh. He was using both of his hands to rub. Harry gripped the pillow tightly with his fists as Draco slowly moved down his leg, gently massaging his calf muscles, and slipping his hand underneath to get the lotion on the other side of the leg.
Harry desperately tried to take his mind off of the motion, but thinking became impossible as Draco reached his foot and with firm strokes to rub his thumbs into Harry’s arch.
“My feet are not sunburned,” Harry feebly protested, even as he pushed his foot against Draco’s hand.
Draco gave a chuckle but didn’t stop. “I know, but I do remember how much you like foot massages. Consider it a reward for being such a good patient.”
“You’re killing me. You know that, don’t you?”
“Good, maybe you won’t forget the sun charm next time.”
Draco set down his foot and then shifted so he could reach Harry’s left leg, and Harry knew that he was going to truly go mad before Draco was through.
“Turn over.” Draco trailed his fingers over Harry’s shoulders.
Harry turned over and Draco ran his eyes appreciatively over erect cock as Harry stroked himself slowly. “Why don’t we take a break, I promise to be a very good patient after—”
“Hmmm, I think you are trying to bribe your Healer.” Draco bent down and, in a move that made Harry suck in his breath in anticipation, Draco gripped Harry’s hands and pushed them over Harry’s head, and then leaned down to kiss him hard on the lips. “It won’t work.”
“You could at least get undressed. Not really fair me being naked and you’re still fully clothed,” Harry whinged as he tried to free his hands.
“How many Healers do you know that undress to match their patients,” Draco said as Harry moaned as Draco straightened up.
Draco stood up and Harry turned his head so he could see him, and was startled to see Draco silhouetted in a pool of golden light. The entire room was filled with a shimmering pink and gold light. Startled, Harry look towards the west, a blaze of color cut across the ocean as the sun sank towards the horizon.
Draco reached up and started to unbutton his shirt, Harry watched each movement of Draco’s fingers as the shirt slowly fell open. His chest was as fit as ever, Harry thought as he let his eyes drift to the sparse blonde hair that covered his pectorals and the trail of hair that led downward. Draco’s hands were at his trousers waistband, the press of his erection was clear against the fabric. Draco drew down the zipper and Harry realized he was holding his breath as Draco pushed the fabric down, freeing his cock. Draco ran his hand up and down the length of it, Harry moaned at the sight of a droplet of pre-come.
“Soon,” Draco repeated and Harry rolled over on his back, his own erection aching to be touched. Harry started to sit up but Draco’s hand stopped him as it pushed him back towards the bed. “Let me finish.” Draco reached for the jar again. Without breaking eye contact with Harry, Draco climbed onto the bed and then swung his leg over Harry so he was straddling his hips.
“Oh fuck, Draco.” Harry bucked up against the weight of Draco, their cocks pressed together. He reached to touch Draco only to be pushed back again. Draco’s fingers swept over Harry’s chest, the cooling gel working its magic on his heated skin.
Eager to torture Draco, like he was torturing him, Harry reached up and let his hands drift down Draco’s torso. Tracing the line of his ribcage, Harry let his fingers swirl in a lazy pattern as he reached around to stroke Draco’s backside. Draco rocked his hips against Harry as finished with his chest.
“Who’s the bastard now?” Draco muttered as he leaned forward. “Hold steady, I need to get your face.”
Harry’s protests were met by a hand over his mouth, as Draco carefully used two fingers to rub the gel over Harry’s cheeks and forehead. “That stuff smells, you know.”
“Of course, it smells. Lavender. Lots of healing qualities in lavender.”
“It smells like old Mrs. Figg’s house.” Harry said disagreeably. He felt like he’d been in a state of torture for hours and Draco was going on about lavender. Draco gave him a smile as he got more of the lotion.
Draco smoothed the ointment over his collarbone. “I always envied you this, you know.”
“You envied me my collarbone?”
“No, you prat, your gorgeous skin.” Draco rubbed Harry’s shoulders. “Even in school, you would come back from summer holidays with such a gorgeous tan.”
“Hmmm. I spent most of my summers either working in my aunt’s garden or hiding out in the park trying to avoid Dudley.” Trying to focus on talking as Draco rub the ointment up and down one arm and then the other, working his way down to Harry’s hands where he carefully massaged each of his fingers, giving each a stroking tug that went straight to Harry’s cock.
“Yes, well, I learned that in due course, but back then I imagined you lounging on a beach somewhere with nothing better to do than deliberately tanning to irk me. If I spend an hour outside without a charm I would be pink and peeling.” Harry laughed at the image and Draco smiled down at him and continued, “And then you would come off the pitch after practice, your shirt half undone, and your skin glowing.”
“Must have irritated the hell out of you.” Harry laughed again, “Well, I envied you your hair. Always perfect. Never a hair out of place and—”
“It is called a comb, Potter.” Draco said as he ran his fingers along Harry’s jaw, his fingers running along Harry’s whiskers. “And grooming charms. Which, thank Salazar, you never learned how to use—”
Draco leaned down and traced kisses along Harry’s jaw as Harry arched against him. “Does this mean you’re done?”
“No, this means we’ve just begun.”
Draco was reading in the large comfortable chair by the bookcase when Harry entered the room after his afternoon swim. Hearing Harry he stood up and set the book back on the shelf.
“No sunburn this time, I’m glad you learned your lesson,” Draco murmured, as he kissed Harry and then motioned to the table. “Let’s eat, I have supper all ready.”
The table was ready, two place settings laid out, crab salad resting on a bed of romaine lettuce and two glasses of white wine. Harry swallowed hard as he saw the romantic table setting, complete with an arrangement of flowers.
Draco sat down in the seat across from Harry and with a flick of his wand lifted the cooling charm off the food. Harry reached for the wine glass and took two large swallows. What he had to tell Draco was going to the hardest thing he’d ever done but delaying it would just make things worse.
Harry looked at Draco who had picked up his fork and was picking at the salad. Chunks of crab were mixed in with avocado, cucumber, tomato and a creamy dressing. “Delicious,” Draco remarked after trying a bite. “I’m thinking she must have had all the meals catered, I’m certain that this is from that new restaurant with the nouveau cuisine near the entrance to Diagon Alley. It is near my flat. I was hoping that you would want to move in there until we get things sorted out , it isn’t terribly large but—”
“Draco.” Harry’s heart was pounding as he said Draco’s name. He knew he was going to ruin everything, but he had to be honest with Draco.
Draco must have sensed something in his tone because he set down his fork and leaned back in his chair, still relaxed but his hands were tense as he rested them on the table.
“I’m not going to move-in.”
Draco reached for his wine glass and swirled the wine, “That’s fine, if you prefer yours, I’ll give up mine and then we can start looking for—”
“Draco. I don’t want to move-in together. You keep your place, and I’ll keep mine. We can take turns—”
“That way no one has to know that—”
Draco stared at Harry, two red streaks in his pale cheeks, “You want me to be your dirty little secret? You don’t want anyone to know that we’re together?”
“We are going to have the exact same problem if we get together again, Bainbridge may be gone but there is going to always be someone else. I’m not going to risk your life on someone deciding to save me from you by harming you.”
“I don’t give a Knut what anyone thinks. I haven’t survived twenty years with a Dark Mark branded on my flesh without growing a backbone and some pretty damn good shield spells. Do you think that I wasn’t the subject of hexes and curses before we got together?”
“But they got worse—”
“What does it matter? You are really going to hide our relationship behind doors so that people who we don’t even care about don’t find out? That isn’t you. Or it isn’t the Harry I thought I knew.”
“It isn’t that simple!” Harry protested as he pushed back from the table. “I’m just sick of the Wizarding world judging everything I do. I just want to live my life without—”
“Without me, apparently.” Draco stood up abruptly and went down the stairs, leaving Harry staring at his retreating back. He didn’t know how he could make Draco understand, reluctantly he stood up and followed Draco to where he was standing at the water’s edge.
“I want you, I want us, Draco.”
“Forgive me, if I think otherwise. I am not going to hide the fact that we are together. I want to be able to walk into a restaurant with you holding your hand. I’m not going back into the closet for you or anyone else, for that matter.” Draco’s voice was cool and clipped and made Harry wish he could hear the familiar warmth that he’d grown accustomed to over the past two days.
“I don’t want to lose you, Draco. It is easy to say that all will be fine while we are here on this island, but when we go back it will be different. Everyone will—”
“You are a fucking coward, Harry Potter.” Draco turned and walked toward Harry. “I never thought I would say it but there is no denying it.”
“I’m not a coward, it is the only way to—”
“The hell it is. I’ve seen you do things that no one else would have the nerve to do. The Tri-Wizard. Voldemort. Even coming out to a public that would have just as soon you married Ginny Weasley and produce a litter of red-headed babies. You never had it easy but you never backed down, until now. And what possible conclusion could I draw but that I’m not worth fighting for?”
“Do you know how hard it was for me to kiss you? That day out on the Quidditch pitch? I had been content to just let things be, I didn’t want to ruin our friendship, but at that moment I realized that I wanted to be more than just your mate, second best behind Weasley. And I decided to take the chance and risk it all, because I knew that you were never one to walk away from something you wanted.”
“This is different—”
“How. Tell me how it is different. So what that people don’t like us. That is their problem, not ours. When did you start caring so much about what people think—”
“When it started hurting you. That’s when it started to matter. I’m not going to risk you.” Harry ran his hands through his hair in frustration. “I don’t want anything happening to you.”
“Do you think I want something to happen to either of us? Things happen, Potter. It’s part of life. It doesn’t even have to be because I’ve got a Dark Mark and you’re the Idiot-That-Lived. Brewing accidents, Splinching, Dragon Pox. Bad things happen, but it doesn’t mean that you give up.”
“But it also doesn’t mean that you should seek it out.”
“How in the hell does you and I being together mean that we are seeking out something bad to happen?”
“Do you know how many cursed packages were sent to us that were trapped in the wards around our flat? Hundreds.”
“And nothing happened! You took the steps to protect us with wards. Just like I made sure that I cast a shield on you when we went out. So why the hell do you want to give up?”
“I don’t want to but—”
Draco shook his head. “I’m not going to let you sabotage what we have finally found again. The last three years were hell. You think you dwelled on what went wrong? I thought about it every night. We both made mistakes. I’m not going to let you sabotage what we finally found again. We’ll go back to civilization in two days and we will NOT hide that we are together.”
“Draco, I get a say in th—”
"No. Not this time. If you insist in hiding, I will put a full-page ad in the Prophet that will lead no doubts as to my intentions with you, is that understood?”
Harry stared at him in frustration. Draco turned and started to walk away, “Supper is waiting and then I expect you to think of something to make up for being such an idiot.”
With a reluctant laugh, Harry walked through the sand and caught up with Draco. They walked up the steps together and only then did Harry stop Draco. “You win, but if everything goes to hell then—”
“Then we will come back here and live like castaways.”
Harry took down the second to last ‘breakfast’ box from the cupboard and frowned at how little food was left. Three meals and they would be back in England. The week had seemed impossibly long six days ago and now Harry would give anything for a time turner and replay the last two days again and again.
“Stop brooding,” Draco said as he came up behind Harry, wrapping his arms around his waist. “Let’s eat and then we have work to be done.”
“Work? Is that what you are calling it these days? I guess the thrill has already worn off.” Harry said as he rubbed back against Draco.
“You are insatiable. And there’s no time for that, we are going to take a horticultural survey of the island.” Draco said, as he started to make the coffee.
“When we were exploring the other day I realized that there are plants here that I suspect are much purer species than any other island in the Caribbean. I want to take samples and analyze them to be sure, but this island is likely a gold mine. Potioneers would give up their Gringotts vaults for the chance to—”
“No.” Harry shook his head at Draco. “We aren’t going to have hundreds of plant-mad—”
“Of course not. I don’t want anyone here but us, but if I can—” Draco stopped and corrected himself, “If you’ll allow it, when we come back next I would like to come back and transplant some of the plants to a greenhouse in England. I imagine Longbottom would be more than willing to surrender space in his.”
Harry looked out the window at the jungle that just looked like a wash of green to him. “Why?”
“Plants evolve just like animals do. These changes are accelerated by the introduction of non-native species, pollution, climate change. The Black family must have used powerful wards to protect the island from severe weather and Muggles, the same wards protected the plants. If we collect some samples today, I can send them to Longbottom to get his opinion.”
“So long as the island itself remains a secret. I’m holding you to the promise of us coming back here if everything goes to hell back home.” Harry shook his head. “Last day in paradise and you want to spend it snipping leaves off plants.”
Harry woke to the rumbling sounds of his stomach. The room was lit only by the moonlight that cast long shadows across the room. Knowing that there was no way he could go back to sleep without eating something; Harry slid out of bed carefully to not wake Draco. He grabbed a pair of pajama bottoms and padded across the room. Squinting in the darkness, he tried to read the labels on the food boxes. With a grunt of satisfaction he found one labeled “Snacks - Biscuits and Chocolate.”
A glass of milk in one hand and the snack in the other he went outside and sat on the steps. Opening the box, Harry smiled at the sight of the packages of digestive biscuits and a large jar of Nutella, complete with a knife to use to spread the chocolate. After smearing a biscuit with the spread, Harry leaned against the stair rail and stared out at the night sky.
The sand was invisible in the darkness but a path of moonlight was reflecting off the surface of the water creating an almost magical trail of light. The sounds of the jungle mixed with the crash of the surf. High overhead a faint streak of light crossed the sky, a plane heading east, so high up there was no sound. He’d never been in a place so isolated before in his life. Even when he had been on the run with Hermione and Ron, they had always been within a few miles of somewhere. Here, he felt completely removed from the entire world.
The squeak of a board was the only warning Harry had before Draco, sat down on the step next to him and set down his own glass of milk.
Harry smiled as Draco picked up a biscuit and put a generous amount of chocolate on it.
“You always could smell chocolate from a mile away.”
“And you always get up in the middle of the night for a snack when something is bothering you,” replied Draco, as he set another biscuit on top. Harry’s mouth watered at the sight of Draco licking the excess off of his fingers. “You aren’t going back to your moronic notion of—”
“No.” Harry shook his head hastily. “I was just thinking about Sirius, and how long he was here. He must have come straight here from Hogwarts at the end of third year, and didn’t come back to England until the next February during the Triwizard.”
“Eight months, then. Probably didn’t mind it after Azkaban,” Draco said as he nibbled at his sandwich, careful not to let the gooey chocolate to ooze out
“Remember how after my father was released, all he wanted was quiet and to be left alone. And he was only in for five years. Black did eleven.” Draco finished eating and stretched back, leaning on his arms as he looked out at the water. “And he wasn’t alone while he was here, the Hippogriff was here with him, of course, he is lucky he didn’t end up as the beast’s first meal here.”
Harry smiled as Draco dramatically rubbed his arm where Buckbeak had scratched him years earlier. “Haven’t seen Buckbeak since the war ended, I suspect Hagrid has him in the Forbidden Forest somewhere.”
“So long as he isn’t still here,” Draco stood up. “Come back to bed.” Harry went to put the lid on the Nutella jar but Draco stopped him. “I don’t think we need to put that away just yet.”
Harry came in from his swim and found Draco standing by the bookcase, holding the Portkey in his hand.
“Thinking of leaving without me?” he joked as he wrapped his arms around Draco’s waist and Draco leaned back into the embrace.
“Don’t tempt me, I should, as a lesson to you. Why you thought you could climb a palm tree—”
“You said you really wanted a sample of the pollen.”
“Yes. Remind me to be more specific next time and say that it would be nice, but not at the risk of your neck.”
Harry took the Portkey from Draco’s hand, he frowned as there was a faint rattle inside. “Did you put something inside?”
“No, it was empty when we used it as a Portkey to come here, I checked it to make sure that Hermione hadn’t put a note in it.”
“Well, there is something in it now.” Harry looked across the room to where his wand was sitting on the table. “I should check—”
“Whatever is in there is from Hermione.” Draco took the box from Harry and opened it. Harry shook his head in disbelief as he saw the familiar three-inch long piece of silver resting on a bed of velvet.
“What is it?”
“A Deluminator, Dumbledore’s Deluminator.” Harry looked over at Draco, knowing his eyes were tearing up and not caring. “I’ve told you about how Dumbledore left it to Ron and that is how he found us.”
“This is it?” Draco took it from Harry and turned it over in his hand, studying the symbols on the side. “What is it doing here?”
“Hermione must have sent it. It is her and Ron’s most prized possession. I think she was trying to send us a message.”
“About being in the dark?”
Harry smiled and nodded. “He never would have found us without it, and for them it is a talisman of their relationship. And a reminder of how close they came to losing one another.”
“So she wanted to give it to us our own reminder?”
“I’m sure it is just a loan, and we don’t need it, we have our own talisman. The island. If things go bad, we come back here and sort it out.”
“Even if things go good, we’ll come back.” Draco said as he turned in Harry’s arms to face him.
As the sun was just starting to stretch towards the west, they walked down to the beach arm and arm. It was too hot to dress in their Ministry clothes so their robes were shrunken and in their pockets along with their cases. Harry looked back at the cabana, wondering how soon they would be able to come back again.
“Soon,” Draco whispered in his ear. Harry nodded and looked down at the wood box containing the Deluminator in his hand as Draco checked the time for the third time.
“It’s almost time. Ready?”
“I don’t know of if I’ll be able to cope with Hermione’s smugness at her plan working but yes, I guess we have to go back and face the music.”
Draco’s hand on Harry’s arm steadied him and for once Harry didn’t stumble when the Portkey dropped them into Hermione’s office. Hermione was standing by the windows, her clenched hands pressed against her mouth. Harry and Draco looked at her without speaking.
“Well, what will it be? Am I headed to Azkaban for kidnapping or...” Hermione sounded hopeful as she looked between Harry and Draco. Harry knew that she was taking in every detail of their appearance.
Wanting to keep her on tenterhooks, but knowing there was no point, Harry said, “We can hardly have Hugo and Rose visiting their mother in prison.”
Hermione gave a squeal of delight and rushed over to them. She flung her arms around Harry. “I knew it! As soon as I saw your whiskers, I knew it!”
“Hermione!” Harry stepped back, embarrassed, as he rubbed the stubble that Draco had insisted he not shave.
“It’s true, I remember how Draco couldn't keep his hands off of you when you had a five o’clock shadow.” Hermione said with a grin as Draco wrapped his arms around Harry.
“You have a lot of explaining to do, Granger,” Draco said, but there wasn’t any heat to his words.
“Yes, but that can wait. I’m sure you two want to take advantage of the fact that you aren’t expected back in your departments until tomorrow.” Hermione was grinning as she leaned against the edge of her desk.
“How exactly did you ensure us both a week of unplanned holiday?” Draco asked suspiciously.
“After you left,” Hermione said with a smug smile, “Paperwork was filed for emergency family leave, requesting a week’s leave.”
“Granger, you can’t just—”
“Yes, yes. A gross abuse of my powers, not to mention kidnapping.” Hermione shrugged, “But when you didn’t use Harry’s Portkey to come back—”
“My what?” Harry stared at Hermione in bewilderment.
Hermione laughed at the expression on Harry’s face, “Your Portkey, in your emergency kit. I made sure you had it, so that if you really wanted to come back you would—”
“I forgot all about it.” Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out the kit. Using his wand he expanded it and there hanging from a loop on the outside was a three inch wide silver metal ring with “Emergency Portkey: Official Use Only” stamped clearly on its side.
Draco shook his head at Harry. “How could you forget about it?”
“You knew I had it?” Harry looked at Draco, “Why didn’t you say anything?”
“I found it after your fall and I went for the first aid kit. I assumed that you knew about it and since you hadn’t mentioned it, and I wanted to know why not.” Draco rubbed his finger over Harry’s mouth. “Figures that you completely forgot about it.”
“I didn’t even give it a thought.” Harry said as he turned the band over in his hand.
“Right you, two. Off with you.” Hermione made a shooing motion with her hands.
Harry opened the Portkey and took out the Deluminator out. He handed it to Hermione. “Thank you.”
Hermione ran her fingers over the Deluminator. “Sometimes we all need a reminder of what is most important.” She slid it into her pocket and gave a wry look, “You can thank me by babysitting Hugo and Rose when I confess to Ron what I’ve done. I imagine it will be best to have them out of the house for that conversation. And at some point, I want all the details.”
“Not all of them, Granger,” Draco said over his shoulder as they headed towards the door.
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