A/N: As many of you will know, and some of you will not, this story is set on the Isle of Wight. The Walks are pulled directly from an "Official Guide to the Island

Written for The Two Broomsticks Fic Challenge. Prompt – HP/DM. Harry and Draco meet ten years after leaving Hogwarts. Harry has defeated Voldemort and is living his life quietly. His world is turned upside down when he meets Draco at a local shop. Draco is quite the flirt. Intense and passionate requested.







A Mile In His Shoes


Before you criticise someone,
you should walk a mile in their shoes.
That way, when you criticise them,
you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.
- Jack Handey


Walk 1 – Yarmouth and Freshwater: The first part of this route is flat, with a surface to suit all users, except for a small uneven section near the middle.

"Think it's a good day to die? No? Then come away from there! I've got enough worry with the children running about. Get off that rail, lad. Back away."

Draco climbed off the metal bar and retrieved his pack from the deck of the ferry. He flashed a smile at the crewman. "Been awhile since I've been called a lad."

"Been a while since I've had to talk an adult off the rail."

Draco shouldered his pack. "Fair enough." He glanced out over the water, squinting at the island in the distance. "How long until we arrive at Yarmouth?"

"Another half hour or so. Try to stay out of trouble." A group of children ran past, scampering between them and disappearing around a metal stairway. A moment later, someone screamed, delightful laughter followed, and the crewman turned his back on Draco, muttering obscenities under his breath.

Wisely, Draco held his amusement in check until he was once again alone. A light spray rained down as the boat cut through the gentle waves. It dampened his jacket and stung his eyes. Many of the other passengers had moved to the stern or taken shelter in their cars, but Draco had remained at the bow, perched on the rail, relishing the salty air.

"Are you going home?"

Draco looked down. One of the children from earlier, a young boy, stood beside him. Grubby hands on hips, he peered up at Draco through his fringe.

"Why do you ask?" Draco turned from the rail and crossed his arms over his chest.

The gesture failed to intimidate. "Cause you've got no bags."

"Maybe they're in my car."

"You don't have a car. I saw you come aboard. All you've got is that." The boy pointed at Draco's pack.

"So I do," Draco said with a half-smile. "No, I'm not going home. I'm just visiting."

"Won't get far with that," the boy said, once more jabbing his finger at the pack on Draco's back.

Draco snorted. "You might be surprised." He leant down and crooked a finger, daring the boy closer. "Maybe it's a magic bag."

The boy's eyes went saucer-wide. "Really?"

Draco straightened. "Would I lie?"

"I dunno. I've never met you before."

Draco chuckled. "True enough. But as it turns out, I don't ever lie. Not anymore. So you see, it is a magic bag."

The boy glanced around before leaning in. "What's in it?"

Draco shrugged. "Everything I own."

The boy swiped a hand under his nose and took another surreptitious peek at the bag, noting how the sides sagged inward. His eyes traveled over Draco's clothes, currently damp and disheveled, even if impeccably cut. "You must be pretty poor."

"I suppose some might say that," Draco answered in a low voice. "But I don't think so."

The boy pushed his hair out of his eyes. "I saw you sitting on the rail earlier."

Draco arched an eyebrow.

"Why were you doing that? It's not safe."

The ferry lurched and they both reached to steady themselves on the rail. The boy nodded, convinced of his wisdom. "See?"

Draco took a deep breath and let it out. He pursed his lips. "I suppose I wanted to see what it was like."

Another swipe under the nose and a quick glance over the rail. "You must be daft."

Draco laughed outright. "I must be," he agreed.

"Matthew!"

A young, harried looking woman rushed toward them. "Where have you been?" She took a firm grip of the boy's arm and turned to Draco. "I apologize. He knows better than to run off."

And talk to strangers, Draco finished silently. He wondered if she'd seen his acrobatics on the rail. The way she pulled the boy away and pushed him behind her hinted that she had.

"No harm done," Draco said. "We were just talking."

"Yes. Well, good day." Without another word, she spun and walked off, tugging a reluctant Matthew behind.

"But I want to see what's in the magic bag," he heard Matthew whine.

"Hush!"

Draco sighed and looked back out over the water, noting how the island now loomed ahead. He hefted his pack higher and slipped his other arm through the strap. Matthew would've been disappointed had Draco given him a peek inside. It carried little that most Muggles would recognize: his wand, a jumper, and several small, marble-sized trunks.

The sum total of his earthly possessions. As he'd said.

He spent the remainder of the trip alone. In the hustle and bustle of disembarkation, Draco found the crewman he'd spoken to earlier and pulled him aside. "How far's town? Walkable?"

The crewman shrugged. "Sure. But most everyone takes the bus."

"I'm sure most everyone does," Draco said, not commenting further.

The other pedestrians rushed to board the waiting buses, pushing and shoving as much as decorum would allow. Draco passed by without a second glance. Keeping a casual pace, he reached the outskirts of Yarmouth in less than ten minutes.

Leery of the larger, tourist-packed areas, he chose a tidy shop off the main avenue for the few supplies he wanted. His current financial situation allowed for more, but shopping for one meal at a time was habit.

After gathering a variety of snacks and a drink, he carried them to the front counter, juggling the crisps in one hand and the coke in the other. The sight of privacy wards shimmering around a nearby door was a welcome one. Apparently, he'd stumbled upon a Wizarding shop. Luck was on his side, for once.

He pushed his Coke and crisps forward. "Got a map of Apparition points for the island?" he asked the shopkeeper.

The man, all dark good looks and open eyes, gave Draco a thorough once-over. "Sure. First time visiting?"

"Mmmm," Draco replied, noncommittal. Despite his faded jeans and dark t-shirt, he wasn't shocked by the blatant appreciative perusal. He knew his mix of aristocratic and scruffy attracted a certain sort.

He took the rolled parchment when the other man handed it over, and didn't even try to disguise the brush of fingers for anything but what it was. Uncomplicated intimacy was always welcome. "I didn't expect to find any Wizarding shops so easily," he said.

The other man shrugged. "You got lucky. This is the only one in town. My family owns one in most of the larger villages." He held out his hand. "I'm Jon."

Draco smirked as his earlier caress was returned. "I'm—"

"Malfoy!"

Draco spun around.

"Potter," he said after the shock had worn off and his voice had returned. He cleared his throat. "This is unexpected."

Harry recovered less quickly. "Yes," he said. He glanced over Draco's shoulder at Jon.

"He's here for an Apparition map," Jon said.

"Is that all?" Harry's gaze settled on Draco again.

Draco fought the urge to smile.

"That's all," he said, meeting Harry's eyes. Again, nothing but truth. The sight of Harry Potter no longer made him itch to grab his wand. He'd left that grudge behind years ago.

Harry's gaze slid back to Jon and something passed between them – Draco couldn't be sure of what. Visibly wary, Harry walked over and leant against the counter. "On holiday?"

Draco lost the battle against his grin. "In a manner of speaking." He worked his jaw back and forth. "You?"

"I live here."

"Ahh." Draco hoisted his pack higher on his shoulder. "Know any good places to stay?"

Jon opened his mouth to answer, but Harry cut him off. "The island's full of them. Take your pick."

Jon closed his mouth, though he looked at Harry curiously.

"Yes. I'm aware of that. I was more curious as to the whereabouts of a quiet Wizarding establishment. Certainly, being a resident, you would know of such a place."

Harry perused Draco's attire. "Traveling on a budget?"

Draco squelched the flash of embarrassment before it reached his eyes. "You might say that," he replied. "Though I'm far from destitute."

"Why not stay with Harry, then? He runs a B&B." Jon said. "He gets his share of Muggles, but plenty of Wizards too. And he's completely empty at the moment."

Harry shot Jon an exasperated look.

Draco pretended not to see the exchange. "I'd like that. If you don't mind my type, that is," he added. He made a show of dusting off his clothing.

To his credit, Harry looked mortified. "I—I didn't mean to imply you were… that you couldn't…."

"It's okay." Draco stuck the folded parchment into the back pocket of his jeans. "You won't find me underfoot much. I plan on doing the pub walks while I'm here." He nodded at Jon. "That's what the Apparition map is for."

Harry appeared to be wrestling with himself. "How long do you anticipate staying?"

"A week, maybe more." Draco shrugged. "Until I've finished the walks."

Jon's eyes widened. "All of them? It's the same thing over and over. Same buildings. Same woods. Same fields. Same farms."

"Ostensibly. But if they were exactly the same," Draco found his gaze wandering back to Harry, "what would be the point of maintaining them? They must each offer something unique."

Harry sighed. "Is that what you're looking for? Something unique?" His voice carried genuine curiosity.

"I'm not looking for anything. I already have everything I need."

Jon snorted. "Lucky you," he said.

Draco nodded his agreement, and Jon smiled. Draco returned it, but not without a bit of nervousness. He hadn't missed the interplay between Harry and the store clerk. Strangely, Harry didn't seem to notice anything was amiss. Or, Draco thought, he didn't care. Arms folded over his chest, feet crossed at the ankle, he chewed over Draco's last words.

He still radiated power. Ten years hadn't changed that.

Draco watched him for a moment before turning to Jon. He gestured to the few items on the counter. "So, what are the chances you take Galleons? I'm short on Muggle currency."

"I'll make an exception for you." Jon winked.

Draco kept his expression neutral as he handed over the required amount. "Thanks." He turned to Harry. "Well? Is that offer for lodging still on the table?"

After a long pause, Harry answered. "It is." He nodded at Jon. "See you later."

Harry walked past Draco, motioning with a tilt of his head for Draco to follow. He didn't speak, and Draco respected the silence. He followed where Harry led, past the market's meager supply of canned goods, breads and cereals, then around a corner and past paper products and pet food.

A few more steps brought them to a door, which Draco assumed was the store's office. Harry stepped inside and gestured for Draco to follow.

"I want you to know I've put a lot of the past behind me," Harry said when they were both inside. "But that doesn't mean I want you for a friend. You can stay at the house. I'll even give you a good rate. But, and this is in everyone's best interest, stay away from me."

The few seconds it took Draco to process the warning were enough for Harry to grab his arm and Apparate them away.

They appeared on a circular drive in front of a large stone house. Ivy covered one side of the structure, dripping over windowsills and creeping along iron balconies. Draco wouldn't have called the dwelling palatial, though he knew it was large by normal standards.

It was miniscule compared to the Manor. On the other hand, it was easily ten times bigger than his last three flats combined. "Very nice," he said. "How many bedrooms?"

"Eight in total. Four for guests. All en-suite."

"Impressive. Tranquil." He turned to Harry. "I like it."

Harry nodded. "So do I." He started toward the front door and Draco scrambled to follow.

"Where are we, anyway?"

"Outside Shorwell."

Draco shrugged. The geography of the island was still unfamiliar to him. "So, what's it called?" he asked. "I mean, don't all these B&B's have names of some sort? Copperfield Lodge. Wisteria House. Paradise by the Sea, perhaps?" He chuckled.

"Sanctuary."

Draco swallowed his laughter. "What?"

"Sanctuary." Harry reached the front of the house. He turned the knob and pushed the door inward. A warm waft of air, smelling of cinnamon and sugar, assaulted Draco. "I call it Sanctuary," Harry told him.




Walk 2 – Gurnard and Cowes: This walk is suitable for all as it is on a flat, paved surface all the way. Quite popular with the locals. A delightful walk that offers the opportunity to make new friends along the way.

Harry followed Draco into the house and closed the door behind them. "I'll show you around, but it'll have to be quick. I've got an appointment in a few minutes."

Draco tore his eyes away from the giant tapestry hanging in the foyer. It looked familiar, and he suspected it came from Hogwarts. "Appointment for what?"

"You can have whichever bedroom you want," Harry answered, ignoring Draco's question. "My only guests left this morning, and I'm not expecting anybody else for two weeks."

He started up the curving staircase. Draco tried to keep up, but Harry had meant what he said about being in a hurry. He reached the upper landing far ahead of Draco and waited for him to catch up before pointing out four doors, two on one side, and two on the other.

"You can have any of these."

Draco opened the first to find a bedroom done in rich woods and masculine colours. The furniture was heavy and ornate, the fabrics plush. He took a quick glance around, then shut the door.

Harry crossed his arms and tapped his foot. Draco turned to the next door, smiling at their little game.

"I think you'll find that first one the most appealing," Harry said. He glanced at his watch.

Draco took a cursory glance at the next room, finding an abundance of floral and chintz. The third was more functional. It sported a large writing desk and floor to ceiling bookshelves. Dark, somber fabrics draped the window and bed. Draco frowned and closed the door.

As he turned the knob on the fourth room, he heard Harry sigh. "I meant what I said about having another engagement."

"I'm sure you did," Draco mumbled as he peeked into the fourth room.

This room, the smallest of the lot, was Spartan. The bed was dressed in plain white cotton. A nightstand, an armchair – squeezed in between the bed and the window – and a small corner desk rounded out the furniture. The window, though bare, spanned an entire wall.

Harry shifted behind him. "Malfoy—"

"I'll take this one." Draco swung the pack off his shoulder and dropped it on the floor inside the door. He turned to find Harry staring at him, bewildered.

"This one? But…there's not even a wardrobe."

Draco shrugged. "Do you have time to show me the rest of the house? I can putter about on my own, you know. I've already made you late."

Harry sputtered, at a loss for words. Draco closed the door and brushed past, letting their shoulders bump together as he did. He was nearly a third of the way down the staircase, fighting an evil grin, when Harry caught up.

"Listen, whatever you're playing at—"

Draco spun around and Harry, caught by surprise, plowed into him. They teetered together, on the verge of falling. As Draco felt himself losing the battle with gravity, Harry's hands clamped onto his arms and steadied him.

Draco smiled and eased his hands onto Harry's hips. "My hero."

Harry pushed him away so fast, Draco was surprised he didn't end up at the bottom of the stairs after all. Harry continued down, talking all the while, his voice spouting information about the house in a clipped, controlled tone.

Draco followed, intrigued by his growing attraction. Pushing the issue didn't seem wise, but it wasn't likely he'd be able to help himself. Best to keep things subtle.

"Lounge and conservatory through there. Dining room and kitchen through here. Follow this hall and you'll come to a door that leads to the garden."

Draco's eyes darted to each arched opening as it was pointed out, but his gaze always returned to Harry. "Where do you sleep?" So much for subtlety.

Harry's hands clenched into fists. He took a deep breath before turning around. "There are only a couple of hours until dinner. Don't let them go to waste." He gestured to the Apparition map sticking out of Draco's rear pocket. "I suggest the Cowes seafront walk. Even at a slow pace, you'll finish it in an hour. That is, if you don't stop for a meal. The Anchor has a reputation for excellent fish."

The last was said in such a suggestive voice, Draco couldn't hold back a smile. "I'll think about it. But I rather had my heart set on dinner here." He ignored the flare of disappointment in Harry's eyes. "However, the walk sounds perfect." He cocked his head. "Care to join me?"

A long silence ensued. Draco removed his Apparition map and pretended to study it, all the while watching Harry out of the corner of his eye.

With thinly veiled politeness, Harry answered, "No. I don't." He stalked away. "I'll let the cook know we have a guest for dinner," he called over his shoulder.

Draco watched him go, a half-smile curving over his face. One thing was for certain – Harry wasn't happy to have Draco in his home.

"Interesting," he told the empty hall.

He hadn't lost his touch. Pushing Harry's buttons was as easy as it ever was.



Harry had been right. The Cowes seafront walk, though entertaining, was short. Draco loitered to the best of his ability, but he still reached The Anchor in under sixty minutes.

The pub was filling with a mix of locals and tourists. From outside, where the light was fading and the warmth with it, it looked lively and inviting. Still, Draco didn't hesitate. He circled the building until he was out of sight, then Apparated to Sanctuary.

The fading light accentuated the house's beauty. Draco stood rooted in place for several minutes, admiring how the colours of the sunset reflected off the stone and climbing ivy, before going in search of the kitchen.

A sturdy woman, dressed in jeans, a plaid button-down, and mud-caked boots, clomped past him as he entered the house. Her brown hair, gone mostly gray, was tied up in a loose bun. She was humming to herself.

"Hello," Draco called.

"Can't talk, dear. In the middle of something quite delicate." The woman threw a glance over her shoulder. "I'd ask for your help—"

Draco smiled. "I'd be happy to help."

"—but you're too small for my needs." The woman reached the far end of the hall and paused at the door Harry had earlier told him led to the garden. "I'm Cook, by the way."

"Excellent," Draco said. "I was coming to find out what was for—"

The back door slammed behind her.

"Dinner," Draco finished. Bemused, he wandered through the archway that led to the dining room, hoping to find the kitchen beyond. The dining room dripped elegance, but he gave it only a cursory glance. It reminded him of the small family dining area at the Manor. Cold and not particularly welcoming.

An unobtrusive door at the back of the room led, as he suspected, to the kitchen. Inside, a hulking man, easily eight feet tall, hovered over the stove.

Draco drew up short and cleared his throat. "Hello."

The giant's head swiveled around. Dark, beady eyes bore into Draco. "Dinner not ready," he growled in broken English.

Draco gave a nervous laugh. "Yes, I suspected as much. I just wanted to know when Cook was planning on serving."

The large man stopped stirring. With exaggerated care, he put down his spoon and turned around. Hands on his hips, he glowered at Draco. "Why would Cook serve Sergei's meal?"

"Er…" Draco licked his lips. Before he could form an answer, the giant plucked his long wooden spoon from the stove and shook it at Draco. "Cook not allowed in my kitchen. Always make huge mess. Can't even boil water." He pointed the spoon at the door and mumbled an incantation. It flew open and banged against the wall. "Now. Go upstairs, pretty boy. Sergei will call when dinner ready."

Draco obeyed, giving a slight bow on his way out. If his upbringing had taught him anything, it was to never insult a chef – most especially not the one preparing your meal.

He laughed under his breath as he climbed the stairs. Four hours into his stay, and already he was feeling more at home in Harry's Sanctuary than he had in the last dozen places he'd lived. A disturbing thought since the owner of his newfound home clearly still hated him.

In his room, he sat on the edge of the mattress, admiring its perfect firmness. For all its simplicity, it was by far the most luxurious bed he'd had in ages. He debated only a moment before crawling, fully clothed, under the duvet.

He slept deeply and, for once, didn't dream.




Walk 3 – Shorwell: A fairly easy scenic route but with a steep slope to negotiate at each end. Mind your step.

A gentle knock on the door woke Draco. He rolled out of bed and grabbed his wand off the desk. "Tempus," he croaked as he stumbled to the door. A wispy clock appeared in front of him. To his surprise, he'd slept the afternoon away. It was already mid-evening.

The knock sounded again. Draco scrubbed his hands over his face and smoothed his hair back as best he could before opening the door. The young girl on the other side flashed him a tentative smile.

"There you are. Harry said you were back, though I was beginning to wonder. You missed tea." She crinkled her nose at him. "Napping?"

Draco cleared his throat. "Yes."

"I'm Fawne."

"Draco."

Fawne shrugged. Feeling more alert by the second, Draco studied her. Honey blond corkscrew curls framed a face that Draco might have considered pretty, had the deep blue eyes not carried such sadness. She wore a simple, practical dress, bisected by a crisp apron.

"Is it dinner time?" Draco asked.

Fawne's face lit up. "Yes. Yes, it is. That's what I was coming to tell you." The light in her eyes faded. "I forget things sometimes."

Draco reached out and tugged on a curl. "We all forget things. No worries."

"Fawne."

Both Fawne and Draco turned to see Harry approaching. His hair was still damp at the tips, and his clothes from earlier were gone, replaced by a white button-down shirt and khaki trousers. For the first time in days, weeks perhaps, Draco felt self-conscious. Absently, he smoothed his rumpled t-shirt.

Harry didn't notice. "Thanks for finding Mal…Draco," he said to Fawne. "Would you help Sergei with the last of the preparations, please?"

Fawne's smile, tentative before, grew blinding. "Sure." She bounced away, giving Harry a peck on the cheek as she passed. Harry waited until she was downstairs and out of earshot before he spoke.

"Take care with her. She's had a rough time of things, and she can be…."

When Harry stumbled over his words, Draco cut in. "That was rather obvious. Don't worry. I wasn't planning on teasing her." He crossed his arms and leaned against the doorframe. "She's sweet. What happened?"

"None of your business. Dinner is in twenty minutes."

Without another word, Harry disappeared around the corner and down the stairs. Draco lingered in his doorway. With Harry acting so aloof, there was little hope he returned Draco's budding attraction.

Best to make sure, though. Grinning, Draco closed the door and starting getting ready for dinner.

Exactly twenty minutes later, he entered the dining room. He had used the time to wash and change, although his usual nonchalant attitude about his attire had been replaced by a burning need to look presentable.

The sudden narcissism chafed. Years had passed since he had cared what other people thought of how he dressed. It bothered him that he should start to care now. So he was feeling out of sorts when Harry appeared through the kitchen door and gestured to the table. "Sergei will be in shortly. Would you care for some wine?" He walked to the sideboard and picked up a decanter.

Draco took in the expansive table set for one. He pursed his lips. "I thought…."

Harry stood still, grasping the decanter. They stared at each other over the table. "You thought what?" Harry asked.

"Just…." Draco laughed. "It's only me. There's no need for all this ceremony. I can eat in the kitchen with everyone else."

"The kitchen's for family," Harry said.

A sharp pain stabbed through Draco's stomach, but he recovered quickly. "Of course. Of course it is." He stared at the lone place setting at the head of the table. "Actually, to be honest, I've little appetite this evening. I hope Sergei didn't go to too much trouble on my behalf." He turned to leave. "And thank you for the recommendation earlier. The walk was everything you said it would be."

"Wait."

Draco turned back. Harry was cradling his forehead in one hand. "Bloody hell," Draco heard him mutter. "Listen. You're right," Harry said. "There's plenty of room in the kitchen. It's not usually where I serve guests, though. It's far from what you're used to, I'm sure."

Draco shoved his hands in his pockets. "What exactly do you think I'm used to?"

"Let's not fight."

"We're not fighting. But don't assume you know everything about me. In fact, don't assume you know anything about me."

Harry nodded. "As long as you do the same."

The silence stretched and was approaching uncomfortable when Sergei burst through the door. "Dinner!" he thundered. He pointed his spoon at Draco. "I be out soon with your food."

"Don't bother, Sergei," Harry said. He sighed. "Draco will be joining us in the kitchen."

The only indication that this was unusual was a slight narrowing of Sergei's eyes. "Is that so?"

Draco gulped as the spoon was once again leveled in his direction. He nodded.

Sergei harrumphed. "Then you come now, pretty boy. Everything ready. Come. Come."

He lumbered back into the kitchen, leaving the door open behind him. Harry gestured for Draco to follow. "After you."

"Thanks," Draco said, hoping he sounded as sincere as he felt. The surprised look Harry gave him as he passed was all the reassurance he needed.



He learned much over dinner.

In very little time, he discovered that Sergei cooked, Cook gardened, and Fawne handled the housework, specifically the cleaning and laundry. For all their differences, their affection for each other was obvious, if subtle. Fawne, at ease with Draco's presence right away, chattered on about little of consequence – like any girl her age would – but everybody made a point of listening nonetheless. Sergei's dinner, served with a gruff, "Here. Eat," was shown due appreciation, and the burly man preened over the praise.

The group deferred to Harry in a way Draco could only describe as 'loving'.

Fascinated by the dynamic, though it left him feeling melancholy, Draco filled his stomach with Sergei's delicious roast and pudding, and left the talking to the others.

"That ivy is taking over again," Cook said, adjusting her hair. Draco hid a smile when her fussing created a crooked, knotty ponytail. "I don't relish pulling it by hand. Never works anyway. Bloody stuff comes right back. Any luck on that spell you've been working on to kill it?"

Harry shook his head. "No. Can't seem to isolate what I want. I've adjusted the spell several times, but it keeps destroying everything, not just the damn ivy."

Sergei snorted. "Don't kill ivy. Would make gardening too easy. Make Cook lazy."

"Now see here, you overgrown ogre. My work is demanding."

"Play in dirt not demanding. Make roast melt in your mouth – this demanding."

Harry and Fawne laughed.

Draco forked the last of his roast into his mouth and moaned his appreciation. He caught Harry's eye across the table as he did, noticing how he had paused with his fork halfway to his mouth. Draco gave him a lazy smile. Then he licked his lips.

Harry dropped his fork onto his plate and stood.

Sergei frowned. "You don't like?"

"It's wonderful," Harry answered. "But I'm late." He rinsed his plate in the sink and put it aside. "Goodnight, everyone."

Sergei and Cook mumbled the same and Fawne gave him a soft smile. Draco started to stand, but Harry dashed from the kitchen before he had gained his feet.

"What the hell?" Draco whispered as he sat back down.

"Ha!" Sergei barked. He leaned back in his chair and glared at Draco. "You make him nervous."

"I find that difficult to believe."

Sergei shrugged.

Determined to catch Harry, Draco stood to carry his plate to the sink, but Fawne snatched it before he could pick it up. With a coy smile, she shooed him away. "I'll get that. You go on."

Draco grinned and swooped down to kiss her cheek. "Thanks." He turned to Sergei. "Dinner was fabulous. Thank you."

Sergei fingered his ever-present wooden spoon. "You kiss me, I spit in your eggs tomorrow."

"He means that," Cook piped in.

"Go. Go," Fawne urged.

Draco went.

He took the stairs two at a time. Adding intuition to knowledge, he turned right off the top of the landing – instead of left toward his own room – and found a door shimmering with some of the strongest wards he had seen outside of Hogwarts.

He stopped, and was considering how to get close without sustaining a nasty sting, when Harry flung the door open and rushed out into the hall. He barreled into Draco and for the second time that day, Draco found himself falling. This time there was no salvaging the situation. He went down hard and took Harry with him.

The impact with the floor, along with Harry's weight on top, made his head spin. "Fuck," he wheezed. "You're trying to kill me, aren't you?"

Harry moaned, having smashed his head against the wall on his way down. He tried to climb off but – disoriented – ended up sprawled over Draco once more. He gave a pained groan. "Why are you here?" he asked.

Draco gave a breathless laugh and opted for honesty. "I've always had an inclination to visit this place. So, here I am." He gasped, trying to catch his breath. "I go where life takes me these days."

Harry stilled, and Draco heard him chuckle. "I meant," he said, speaking into Draco's chest, "what are you doing here outside my door?"

Harry's breathy voice vibrated through Draco's body. It burned through his shirt and raced across his abdomen in dozens of overlapping tendrils before clustering in his groin. Unsure himself of his true motives, he answered Harry in the most direct way he knew. He shifted, arching his hips into Harry's abdomen. When Harry's lips parted and his eyes darkened, Draco did it again.

Harry tried to lurch away, but Draco held fast. "Don't run away," he said.

"Let go!" Harry hissed. "I don't want this!" He jerked himself free and slid off Draco's chest. Draco released his arms but tangled their legs together, then grinned as Harry struggled to get away.

Being around Harry had always triggered his devilish impulses.

Harry cursed as he finally freed himself. He scrambled away and leant against the far wall.

Draco remained on the floor, arms flung over his face. "Are you sure about that?" he asked. "I think you do want this."

He heard Harry pull himself to his feet and brush dust from his trousers and shirt. "You're right," he said when he had finished. "I do want it."

Draco's breath caught in his throat.

"I just don't want you."

He walked away.




Walk 4 – Godshill: An undulating circular walk with many interesting historical features. A fascinating look into the past.

It didn't surprise Draco that he couldn't sleep. The long afternoon nap coupled with the incident with Harry earlier that evening kept him awake and troubled. Long after the house fell quiet, sometime in the early hours of the morning, he gave up on getting any rest.

He pulled on a pair of jeans and slipped out of his room, calling on skills he hadn't used in years in order to move quietly down the hall to the top of the stairs. He fingered his wand and thought about casting a Lumos, but the further he traveled – first down the stairs and then into the main hall – the more his eyes adjusted to the darkness.

Draco padded down the main hall to the dining room. There, he hesitated in the archway. He could see light spilling from under the small door that led to the kitchen and hear the low hum of voices from the other side. He heaved a sigh and wrapped his arms around himself, shivering in the chilly air.

Propriety dictated he go back to his room, or at the very least, retreat to some other unoccupied area of the house. Curiosity, however, won out. He crept forward, bare feet making no sound on the rug, and pushed the jar slightly ajar. Shamelessly, he pressed his face against the small crack.

The voices belonged to Harry and the store clerk, Jon. They were arguing in hushed tones, and although Jon's voice would occasionally rise in anger, Harry's never climbed above a loud whisper.

Draco sighed, ready to abandon his plan for a late night snack, when he saw Jon reach for the snap on his jeans. Draco froze and held his breath. Jon, oblivious to his audience, pulled down the zip and pushed his jeans down over his hips. After a sly smile in Harry's direction, he turned and leaned over the counter, lifting himself up onto his toes. He wiggled his arse and said something to Harry, but his voice was too low for Draco to make out the words.

Draco shifted his gaze to Harry, and his mouth, previously bone dry, flooded with saliva.

Harry hadn't moved, though he was standing within touching distance of Jon. His gaze had been cool and detached during their row, and Draco was disturbed to see it unchanged, despite the spectacle before him. Harry reached out with his left hand and slid it down over Jon's back. He dipped his fingers, teasing, into Jon's crack before spreading his palm over the smooth globe of his arse.

Jon moaned and spread his legs open as far as he could. He raised himself even higher on his toes and twisted his neck around toward Harry. "Come on," he whinged, loud enough for Draco to hear.

But it didn't look as though Harry would be rushed. When Jon pushed impatiently into his palm, he gave a silent gasp. His free hand crept to the front of his trousers and squeezed his erection, which, Draco noticed with a gulp, stretched the front of the material to its limit.

"Am I going to have to take your fucking clothes off myself?"

Draco's lips twitched. Jon wasn't the patient type, it seemed.

"No," Harry answered in a dispassionate voice. But his hand continued to rub over Jon's pale skin in languid strokes.

Jon jerked away from the caress. "Fuck me or send me home." His teasing smile had vanished, and his voice held a hint of warning.

The words must have penetrated Harry's brain. His eyes cleared and he pulled his hand away. He worked open the front of his trousers and pushed them down, taking his pants with them. He turned toward Jon – away from Draco – but not before Draco had seen the evidence of his arousal, thick and dark and damp at the tip.

Draco pressed his forehead against the doorjamb and closed his eyes, breathing through a wave of lust that made his stomach clench and his palms sweat. The sight of Harry's cock had done what watching Jon's blatant nakedness these past few minutes hadn't. His own cock throbbed and swelled. He cupped his hand over it, determined to wrestle control back from his runaway libido, but his fingers betrayed him, kneading and squeezing the hard flesh.

The question to leave or linger flew from his mind. He sagged against the wall, the brief memory of Harry's naked body flashing through his brain in an endless loop.

Jon gave a loud groan and Draco's eyes snapped open. His cock swelled even more at the sight before him. He stood rooted to the spot, unable to turn away, while Harry pushed into the other man. Jon hissed, but shoved his arse back when Harry paused. Taking his cue, Harry eased forward again.

A low moan worked its way up his throat, but Draco swallowed it down. Only after his head started to spin did he realize he had been holding his breath. He let it out in a slow whoosh only to have it catch again in his lungs when Harry surged forward the last couple of inches and buried himself to the root in Jon's arse.

"Fuck!" Jon yelled.

"Quiet," Harry said.

He kept still for several seconds, but for his gentle stroking along Jon's hip.

Draco fought another upsurge of lust at the tender gesture. With a soundless whimper, he tore at the snap on his jeans. His hands shook, and when he tugged too hard at the zip, his hand slipped and hit the wall. Although the sound was little more than a dull thud, even to Draco's ears, Harry stiffened.

Draco held his breath, ashamed that even though he was mere seconds from being caught, he was close enough to coming that he didn't care.

Jon saved him.

"Get on with it!" he snapped. He wriggled, as though reminding Harry of his job. After another moment, Harry obliged him, pulling out and slamming back in. The force of it threw Jon against the counter. He howled. Not in pain, Draco noted.

"Be quiet," Harry reminded him.

Harry's voice had turned breathless, desperation replacing his cool demeanor. His second thrust was gentler than the first, a tease really, but the third made up for it. Jon cried out again. His palms slapped onto the counter beside his head, nails scrabbling on the smooth butcher block.

Draco tuned Jon out. Riveted, he focused on the muscles tensing and relaxing along Harry's arse as he strained forward over and over, rising onto his tiptoes with every quick, brutal thrust, only to ease off on the next and penetrate Jon with agonizing slowness.

It was this slow, tender possession that had Draco rubbing himself madly through two layers of cotton and denim. He gave up on the zip and curled his fingers around his cock as best he could, squeezing and pulling. It wasn't the long leisurely stroking he preferred. But watching Harry – head thrown back, eyes closed, mouth open, features twisted in pleasure – made up for it.

For Draco it was perfection. He craved to be taken with that exact mixture of force and affection. Envy filled him, but his emotional reactions were soon outdistanced by the physical ones. He broke out into a sweat. His heartbeat pounded in his ears. His hand flew over his cock, rubbing the damp cotton over and around as best he could. It was maddening – not enough and too much all at once. He melted back against the wall, eyes never leaving Harry, and reached for his balls with his other hand. It was equally torturous, but the added stimulation so close to where he craved it, catapulted him closer to climax.

Jon's voice echoed from inside the kitchen. He no longer took care to temper it and drew Harry's attention with a muffled yell. "You fucking tease. Come on!" He pushed back, demanding more, but Harry caught his hips and held him still.

"You sure?" Harry asked, his voice still a whisper. "You want it to end?"

"No," Draco whispered.

"Stop. Fucking. Teasing. Me," Jon growled as best he could with his face pressed into the countertop. "Make me come now!"

"Fool," Draco whispered.

Harry didn't speak again. He held still for another moment, hands clamped onto Jon's wriggling hips. Then his whole body sagged. His head dropped to his chest and his mouth clamped shut. Jon shoved back with a growl, but before he complained again, Harry pulled out, rose onto his toes, and slammed forward.

Jon sputtered through a string of profanities, and Harry did it again. Then again – each thrust angled to brush Jon's prostate. Quiet gasps, the first sounds of passion he'd uttered all night, escaped Harry's mouth. Draco echoed them, his eyes and ears filled with the scene beyond the door.

When Jon came, crying out with the force of it, Draco barely noticed. His own hand moved in time with Harry, his breath coming quicker and quicker. Jon collapsed over the counter, but Harry never slowed. Grunting with exertion, he impaled the other man over and over until his gasps changed to moans and his moans became bitten-off cries of completion.

Draco doubled over when his orgasm hit, set off by the sight and sound of Harry's own climax. He turned his face into his shoulder, muffling the moans he couldn't quite swallow, all the while milking the last of bit of pleasure from his spent cock. Coming back to earth took longer than usual, and he was still panting when he heard Jon's voice from the other side of the door. He straightened and fixed his eye against the crack.

"Brilliant. As usual." Jon hiked up his jeans, tucked himself in, and turned to Harry. "See you Wednesday?" he asked as he used his t-shirt to mop the perspiration from his face.

Draco tried to calm his breathing. He pried his fist from the front of his damp jeans and leaned closer, desperate to hear Harry's reply.

"Yeah. Wednesday." Harry pulled his own trousers up, but didn't bother with the button or zip. He jerked the fridge open and made a show of examining the contents. Draco had never seen such a blatant dismissal.

Jon shrugged. He grabbed an apple off the counter and Disapparated.

Slowly, Draco let out the breath he'd been holding. He studied Harry.

After a moment, Harry closed the refrigerator. He tilted his forehead against the cool metal and closed his eyes.

Draco had seen enough.

He slipped quietly away.



The next morning, Draco made a show of picking through his eggs. Sergei peered at him from across the table. "Nothing in eggs today, pretty boy. See?" He pointed at Draco's plate. "Today fried. When I make scrambled, then you worry."

Draco cleared his throat. "Do you torture all the guests like this?"

Sergei snorted and snapped open the morning Prophet. "Only ones Harry not like."

Draco glowered, but lowered his eyes when Sergei arched an eyebrow at him over the top of the paper. "I'm trying," he mumbled.

"You try harder."

Cook bustled in, mumbling under her breath about garden gnomes and ivy, her hair bun already askew. Draco cleared his throat, retrieved a scrap of parchment from his pocket, and handed it to her. At her questioning look, he shrugged. "It's the spell our gardener used to control the ivy at the Man— …where I used to live. I don't believe it's widely known, though I don't know why, since English ivy is impossible to control. He always said it was quite effective."

Cook stared at the parchment, then at Draco. Self-conscious, he went back to his breakfast.

"Thank you," she said.

Draco smiled at his eggs. "You're welcome."

Everyone looked up as Harry and Fawne entered the kitchen. As Sergei rose to get their plates, Fawne poured their tea. "Welcome for what?" she asked.

Draco pushed his cup across the table and Fawne refilled it. "It's nothing," he said.

"Draco gave me a spell for the ivy." Cook waved the parchment at Fawne.

Draco could feel Harry's eyes on him. Sighing, he looked up. "It's something you could have worked for years on and never found. And it's blind luck that I remembered the incantation. Please don't make a fuss over it."

Harry's eyes bore into his, even after Sergei placed a plate of eggs and bacon in front of him. Draco returned the gaze, unflinching. Eventually, Harry blinked and looked away. "Alright," he said.

Encouraged, Draco removed his Apparition map from his pocket. "I was hoping for some more advice. It's going to be another beautiful day. I'd like to take one of the longer walks. Which would you suggest?"

At first, Draco wasn't sure Harry was going to answer. The question hung in a thick silence that was broken only by the clatter of a cup against a saucer or a fork against a plate.

Then Harry spoke in a surprisingly friendly voice. "You might try Bembridge. It will take you a full two and a half hours. Even longer if you stop at the windmill."

Sergei, Cook, and Fawne all stopped eating and looked at Harry in shock.

Draco made a show of studying his map. "Where does it start?" Like spectators at a tennis match, the other three swiveled their heads to regard Draco.

"At the Crab and Lobster."

Draco took a deep breath and plunged ahead. "Perhaps you'd join me?"

The audience refocused on Harry. Cook didn't even try to cover up her interest. She leaned forward, slurping her tea as she waited for Harry to answer.

Harry paused. A rueful smile flashed across his face. Draco frowned, sensing his decision already. "Surely you can spare a few hours."

"I'm afraid not." Harry stood and turned his back on the table. After carrying his dish to the sink, he left. Draco scowled and pushed his eggs around his plate.

"You give up too easily," Cook said. She refilled her tea, but didn't offer any to Draco.

"Idiot boys," Sergei added from behind his paper.

Draco pushed his breakfast away. He mumbled a farewell and went in search of Harry.




Walk 5 – Bembridge: An easy walk around the eastern peninsular of the island, along the seashore and through woodland. Take care not to stray from the path, as the ground can be very uneven.

Draco heard the back door slam as he reached the hall. Without stopping to consider the consequences, he rushed forward and threw the door open. Blinding sunlight stopped him in his tracks, and he was forced to pause on the threshold, waiting for his eyes to adjust.

When they did, his mission to find Harry was forgotten.

The gardens of Sanctuary were breathtaking. Draco's window looked out over the front of the house, and although he had spent some time enjoying the view from his bedroom, he had yet to explore the rear of the property. He ambled forward, one slow step at a time, taking in the expertly tended foliage and flowers. A winding path of trimmed grass began at the bottom of the steps and snaked around a fountain, before disappearing behind a line of boxwoods. Drawn in by the beauty and mystery, Draco followed it.

The path went on for about thirty yards before ending in a large circular clearing that was surrounded by tall trees. Centered in the clearing, cut into the sod and framed by a neatly-trimmed hedge, was a labyrinth.

The shock of it took his breath away.

Draco wrapped his arms around his waist, and for a while, lost himself in old, long-forgotten memories.

"Are you okay?"

Draco started. He turned his head and was dismayed to find Harry standing right beside him. "Yes," he said. He shook his head and expelled a shaky breath. "Yes," he said, a bit louder. "Fine."

Harry let his gaze drift to the labyrinth. "Ever used one?"

Draco clenched his teeth together. "Yes."

If Harry took offence to the abrupt tone, he didn't let on. "This is a meander." He pointed to the entrance. "One way in. One path. No dead ends." He made a circling motion with his hand. "Just one way to the center and back out."

Draco nodded.

"Each walk is a personal experience," Harry went on. "Some people use it for meditation. You know, to clear the mind."

"Some do."

Harry pursed his lips and darted a glance at Draco. "And you?"

"It's been years since I've…seen one." To Draco's embarrassment, his voice wavered on the last words. Suddenly, in light of his dark past, his goal to get closer to Harry felt insurmountable. "Is it magical?" he asked, speaking through the large lump in his throat.

"This one isn't. Not in the traditional sense, anyway."

There was that, at least. Draco relaxed.

Harry cocked his head, concern in his eyes. "Draco—"

"Your gardens are lovely," Draco blurted, cutting Harry off. "But if I'm going to complete that walk before tea, I'll need to be on my way."

"Wait."

Draco spun away, heedless of Harry's restraining hand on his arm.

"Draco!"

Harry jogged up behind him, matching Draco's long stride. He didn't speak as they backtracked to the house. When they reached the door, Draco acknowledged Harry with a small nod and pulled the folded Apparition map from his pocket. It took him several moments to locate Bembridge, flustered as he was, and it didn't help that Harry continued to stare at him with questioning eyes.

"Draco, please."

Draco hesitated.

Harry stepped forward. "I've upset you. I promise that wasn't my intention. Regardless of what's in our past or who we are now, the fact is – you're still my guest here." He sighed. "I apologize."

"No need," Draco replied in a soft voice. He set the tip of his wand against the word "Bembridge" and prepared to Apparate.

"Still want some company?"

Draco paused again. He closed his eyes and laughed under his breath. "Listen," he said when he opened them, "I'm fine. I've put the past behind me. I have. The thing is, it's never really gone, you see? It still catches me off guard at times, but I've learnt to deal with that as well. I don't need a babysitter. And I certainly don't need your pity." He smiled to take the sting from the words.

Harry studied him. "It's not pity. I'd like to go."

Draco tapped his wand against the map as he considered. Harry had yet to return his smile, but his expression was less guarded than Draco had seen it since he had arrived. He made a split second decision. "Alright," he said. "Give me ten minutes."

Harry blinked. "I thought you were in a hurry."

Draco's smile became enigmatic. "I thought I was going alone." He dashed back into the house.

Sergei met him in the hall and held out a matchbox-sized basket.

"Er…what is it?" Draco asked.

"For picnic. That what you wanted, yes?"

Draco's mouth dropped open, but he closed it with a snap when the chef placed the box in the palm of his hand. "How did you know?" Draco asked. He stared at the shrunken basket with a frown.

"Stupid boys," Sergei muttered. He swung around, narrowly avoiding a collision with a low-hanging chandelier, and lumbered back to the kitchen.

Draco closed his fist around the miniature basket and slipped it into his pocket. He was grinning when he rejoined Harry in the garden.

Harry was sitting on a stone bench, legs stretched out, eyes closed and face to the sun. Draco stepped up and nudged him with his foot.

Harry looked up, shading his eyes against the glare. "Back so soon?"

Draco patted his pocket. "Time to go."



Three-quarters of the way through the walk, where the trail passed through a shady copse of trees, Draco slowed to a lazy stroll. At first, Harry adjusted his own pace to match Draco's, but soon stopped all together and put his hands on his hips. "You need a rest or something?"

"Or something," Draco replied. He continued to scan the trail on either side. When he found what he was looking for, he stepped off the path, throwing a teasing smile over his shoulder.

Harry looked on suspiciously. "We shouldn't leave the road. They ask us not to."

"They won't ever know." He turned to face Harry, walking backward as he spoke. "Come on. I have a little surprise for you."

Harry's eyes narrowed. He planted his feet on the packed dirt. "What?"

Draco shrugged and shuffled backwards. "Won't know unless you come." Trusting that Harry would follow, he spun back around and veered off behind a thicket.

He had unshrunk the basket and was spreading the blanket when Harry appeared.

"Damn it. What—"

Harry's words cut off as he took in the scene. Draco winked and snapped the blanket open, letting it settle onto the grass. "Hungry?"

Harry's mouth opened, then closed. He pursed his lips together. "I said I'd do the walk with you. I didn't agree to anything else."

Draco sat down with a groan and leant back onto his elbows. "Not hungry? Sergei packed us enough food for ten people."

"Sergei," Harry whispered. He rolled his eyes heavenward.

Draco saw Harry's resolve crumbling. He began unpacking the food. "What's the big fuss? It is acceptable to relax once in a while."

Harry snorted, but Draco could sense, if not see, the battle raging inside him. He took his time unveiling Sergei's lunch while Harry ruminated. But it wasn't until every scrap of food was spread upon the blanket that Harry gave in. He chose a spot far from Draco and sat down, remaining stiff and withdrawn.

Draco's lips twitched. "I'm not going to bite."

"I don't believe that for a moment."

"Promise," Draco whispered. He handed over a plate brimming with food before filling his own and tucking in to the elaborate feast.

The first bite sent Draco to heaven. Sergei had set perfectly executed warming and cooling spells on each item, and the fare was as rich as any Draco could remember, even in the time before the war, when dinners at the Manor had been done in grandiose style. He was halfway through his meal when he glanced over and saw Harry still cradling a full plate on his lap. He was frowning at his food.

"Harry?"

Harry placed his dish to the side. "I can't do this." He shut his eyes and pressed his fingers against the closed lids.

"Why not?" Draco plucked a slice of apple from the fruit bowl and began crawling across the blanket.

"Because…I really don't owe you an explanation, you know."

"Harry?"

Harry jumped at the sound of Draco's voice so close. His eyes flew open.

"Relax," Draco said. "Eat." He held the apple slice up to Harry's mouth. "It's not as hard as you think. The key is, you don't think. You just bite, chew, and swallow." He placed the apple against Harry's lips.

For a long moment, neither of them moved. Determined to win, Draco slid the apple along the line of Harry's lips, first the bottom, then the top.

Harry's eyes flared with heat, but before Draco could crow his victory, they narrowed to cold, unreadable slits. Draco's seductive rhythm faltered and a frisson of unease raced down his spine.

Harry's mouth turned up in a bitter smile. He leaned forward. With his teeth, he plucked the fruit from Draco's hand, running his tongue around the sensitive tips of Draco's fingers before pulling back. He chewed and swallowed, then licked his lips. "More?" he purred.

"Fuck," Draco whispered, reservations forgotten. He fumbled behind him for the bowl, knocking it over in his haste. When he finally produced an apple slice and pressed it to Harry's lips, Harry snatched it and tossed it over his shoulder. Draco opened his mouth to protest, but all he managed was a strangled gasp as Harry drew two of Draco's fingers into his mouth and sucked hard.

"Harry," Draco groaned. A bolt of sizzling, electric lust exploded through him, centering on the suckled fingers. The one arm supporting his weight went numb and threatened to give way, but all Draco could think of was his need for more. More of Harry's mouth on his fingers and more of his tongue lapping at his skin. More of Harry's hands stroking him and more of his body pressing Draco into the scratchy blanket. More of Harry's cock pushing in and filling him until everything else – everything – became obsolete simply for the pure pleasure of it all.

Harry released Draco's fingers with a soft pop.

"No," Draco choked out in a thick voice. Acting on instinct, he leaned forward, straining for Harry's heat and strength. Harry caught him by the shoulders and twisted, sending them both to the blanket, Harry on top.

"Yes," Draco hissed. He arched up, searching, but Harry pinned his hands above his head and rose onto his knees, keeping their bodies separated.

"Draco," he said.

Draco's eyes fluttered open. Harry ducked his head and settled his lips against Draco's neck. "Draco?"

"Mmmm?" Draco squirmed and tilted his head back, pressing his throat against Harry's mouth. When Harry nipped at the skin there, Draco whimpered. "Please," he begged. "Come on." He raised his hips off the blanket.

Harry lifted himself higher, away from Draco's wriggling body. His grip on Draco's wrists tightened. "Draco?" he whispered.

"What?" Draco cried, aching and frustrated.

"I told you." Harry shifted his mouth so that it brushed Draco's ear. "I. Don't. Want. You."

Draco went still. Strangely, his arousal, nearly at its apex, didn't fade at all in the wake of Harry's stinging declaration. His heart continued to beat a frantic rhythm, matching the throb in his groin.

As he struggled to collect himself, Harry rolled away, picked up his plate and began to eat. Except for Draco's labored breathing, all was silent.

Anger, a rare emotion for him these days, welled up in Draco. He twisted his head to glare at Harry, but the scathing comment perched on his tongue died when he took a close look at his companion.

Harry was all practiced nonchalance, nibbling on a sandwich and staring into the trees. But even the most aloof countenance couldn't cover the tremble in his hands or, for that matter, the bulge in his jeans.

Draco's mood improved dramatically. A smile threatened, but he held it back. Lunch forgotten, he closed his eyes and gave a deep sigh, before pulling both arms from above his head and settling them on his stomach. He began with gentle, teasing circles on his skin where his t-shirt had ridden up.

His arousal hadn't ebbed at all – a testament to how much Harry affected him. He slid his left hand up the center of his chest, dragging his fingers over the material of his shirt, making it bunch higher on his torso. A fine sheet of sweat broke out on his upper lip as his anticipation built.

He let his hand drift across his ribcage before he reached for his nipple and gave it a hard pinch. He thought of Harry touching him, teasing him in the same way, and he couldn't hold back a gasp.

Draco didn't want to rush through the pleasure, but he couldn't slow himself down. He pinched his nipple again, then again, and reached for his cock. Palming his erection through the denim, he cursed under his breath.

"What are you doing?"

This time, Draco couldn't resist smiling. "What does it look like?" he asked in a roughened voice. He peeled his eyes open to look at Harry.

Harry was staring at him in horror, his plate slanted precariously on his knee. "Stop," he demanded.

Draco flipped the snap open on his jeans. "Stop watching."

"Draco."

"Harry."

Shamelessly, Draco pushed his jeans and pants over his hips. The first long denied touch to his cock pulled a long groan from his throat. A slow, steady build was out of the question; his mind was too full of visions of Harry. Harry fucking Jon. Harry licking his fingers. Harry hovering, so close above him. So close. He tossed his head from side to side as his hand slid up and down his length, faster and faster. "Harry. Fuck…" he moaned.

"Stop!"

Draco ignored the demand. He couldn't speak. His hand felt too good, and if he closed his eyes, he could almost convince himself it was Harry touching him.

"Draco!"

Draco bucked up into his fist. Harry's voice was desperate, breathy, aroused, and the idea that he was watching – was aroused by watching – sent Draco over the edge.

His orgasm built with the speed of a tidal wave before crashing over him, wrenching hoarse cries from his throat. Relentless, he pulled and tugged on his cock, relishing how it extended the pleasure, uncaring that he would regret the rough treatment later.

Vaguely, he heard Harry answer with his own strangled cry. Dazed, Draco forced his eyes open. The blanket shifted and pulled, and dishes clattered as they fell into one another, spilling food everywhere. Then a shadow passed over him, blocking the sun for a split second, as Harry stumbled clumsily to his feet and fled.

Draco sighed and rolled to his side. The destruction on the other side of the blanket mocked him.

He shut his eyes.



Draco was reshrinking the remnants of the picnic when Harry returned.

Draco paused, wand in the air. "I…the food is packed. Would you like…?"

"No."

Harry withdrew his own wand and spelled the last cups and saucers to shrink and fly into the small basket in Draco's hand. With a sigh, Draco pocketed their lunch. He steeled himself and turned to face Harry. "Listen—"

"Don't." Harry held up one hand and stabbed his wand into this back pocket with his other. "Let's not discuss it. I said I'd do this walk. That's why I'm here. Let's just finish it."

Draco didn't move. "Are you going to pout?"

"What?" Harry gave him an incredulous look.

Draco sighed. "I don't much care to spend the next hour with you if you're going to pout the whole time." He shrugged. "Frankly, I'd rather be alone."

He struggled not to smile as Harry sputtered. "You don't think I deserve to be upset?"

"Do you really want me to answer that?"

Harry spun away. "You know what? You're right. I don't need this." He took a half dozen steps before swinging back around. Draco's smile faltered at the angry, bitter expression.

"We are not friends," Harry spat. "We will never be friends. Or anything else, for that matter. So stop your clumsy, embarrassing overtures and leave me alone." He drew himself up. "You think you've been redeemed? You believe a few well-placed words and a spattering of inside information at the end of the war erases what you did?"

Draco remained calm. "What did I do?"

Harry ignored the quiet question. "You've fooled some, that's true. Enough that you got your precious Ministry pardon. But don't think I believe for one second that you've changed. You're a liar. You're a murderer. And you will never be able to change that."

Draco cocked his head. "Who are we talking about here?" He stepped forward when Harry faltered. "And who are you trying to convince?"

Harry paled. "Stay away from me."

Draco caught Harry's arm when he tried to stalk away. "I'll try," he whispered. "But I can't guarantee anything." He flashed a smile, pocketed the basket, and walked away.

He finished the walk alone.

Delicious smells were coming from the kitchen when Draco returned. Trying not to feel self-conscious, he spelled the basket to its normal size and placed it on the table. A quick peek inside confirmed that the carefully prepared meal was in a shambles.

Draco shot a glance at Sergei and pulled his wand from his pocket. He cleared his throat. "Rep—"

"What are you doing?" Sergei boomed from behind him.

Draco jumped. "Nothing," he insisted.

Sergei glared and pushed Draco away from the table. He inspected the remnants of the lunch. Draco bit his lip but held his ground.

Sergei held up a handful of loose apple slices. "Did you eat…or roll in food?" "Er…a bit of both."

Sergei's eyes narrowed. "And this why Harry come home an hour before you?"

"Um…"

Sergei smacked Draco across the chest with his wooden spoon. Draco hissed in surprise when hot sparks shot from the end and singed his shirt. Ten years ago, his first reaction would have been to call Sergei a ponderous oaf and send a nasty hex his way. Now, all he did was rub his palm over his chest and sigh.

"Sorry about your lunch." Draco frowned to himself, remembering Harry's reaction to their brief intimacy. "He's not easy, is he?"

"Scares easy," Sergei said.

Draco snorted. "Sergei, there's quite a lot about Harry you don't know."

"No, pretty boy. There much you don't know."




Walk 6 – Newport Ghost Walk: For that ultimate spooky experience you should join one of the ninety minute guided walks that depart every Wednesday from St. Thomas Square. Meet our ghosts and learn why they haunt us.

Draco eyed his omelette.

Across the table, Sergei eyed Draco. When Draco fingered his fork for the third time, but didn't pick it up, Sergei rustled the morning paper. "You no like cheese omelette?"

Draco cleared his throat. "On the contrary. But I thought you might make scrambled this morning." Considering my behavior yesterday, he thought.

Sergei gave the paper a forceful snap. He leered at Draco over the top of the page. "You want scrambled? I make scrambled. But good omelette wasted would make Sergei sad."

He didn't sound sad, Draco noted. In fact, he sounded mad. "No, no." Draco smiled. "This looks delicious. I was simply curious."

"Curiosity no good," Sergei grumbled.

"It killed the cat," Cook chimed in.

Draco steeled himself and took a dainty bite, only to groan in appreciation when an explosion of delectable flavors burst over his tongue. "Sergei, you're a genius."

"This is fact."

"Which walk are you doing today?" Cook asked.

Draco chewed his toast as he pondered. "Newport, maybe. Are any of the ghosts real?"

Cook shrugged. "I know of at least one that is. She's shy, though." She straightened her hair bun and winked at Draco. "Practice your Conjuring spells before you go. Nothing funnier than stirring up some magic around a bunch of jumpy Muggles. Last time I was in Newport, I made three different people scream." She winked at Draco. "One was a man 'bout Sergei's size."

Draco burst out laughing. "You're wicked."

"I'm a witch."

Sergei grunted and rattled his paper some more. "This is fact too."



Newport would have to wait.

Rain fell in sheets. Everywhere Draco looked, a gray fog hovered over the ground. He stood outside the front door, under the overhang, and waited. Weather forecasts were one of things he ignored these days, but he wondered if he shouldn't have peeked at the Prophet this morning at breakfast. At least he would have an idea of when the rain would slow up.

He retreated into the warmth of the house. Unexpectedly idle, he wandered from room to room, unsure of what he was searching for until he found it, tucked under the main staircase next to the kitchen.

For its diminutive size, Harry's library contained vast collections of some of Draco's favourite authors. He had one book in his hands and two more cradled in the crook of his arm when Harry spoke from behind him.

"Find something you like?"

Draco hoped his only outward sign of surprise was his sudden tightened grip on the books. "I have, thanks. I hope it's alright to borrow a couple."

Harry shrugged. "The house is yours while you're here."

"You mean while I'm paying."

"Yes." Harry met Draco's amused look. "That's what I meant."

Draco laughed under his breath. He stuffed the third book under his arm with the other two and walked away.

"Draco," Harry called.

Draco glanced over his shoulder.

Harry appeared tortured. His face twisted in confusion. "Why are you…here?" he asked.

Draco bit his lower lip when it started to curl up into a smile. Clearly, there was something about him that made Harry nervous. He couldn't put his finger on it exactly, but it didn't matter. Whatever it was, Draco was enjoying it.

"It's raining. I needed a book."

Harry crossed his arms over his chest. "Are you being purposefully obtuse?"

Draco grinned. "Yes."

"I suppose I shouldn't be surprised," Harry said, sarcastic. "It's always served you well in the past."

Draco's smile died. He put his books down on a nearby table and turned around. "Harry—"

"Coupled with your penchant for masochism and disdain for life in general, it made you quite the model Death Eater, didn't it?"

Draco's stomach lurched. He swallowed against the nausea. "Yes. It did."

Shock flickered in Harry's eyes, and Draco guessed he hadn't been expecting such straightforward agreement. But Draco no longer made excuses for himself. That had ended years ago.

He left the library without the books.



"Lunch not for four hours," Sergei growled when Draco entered the kitchen. "Go away."

Draco bit back his retort. Still flustered from the confrontation from Harry, he ignored the remark and poured himself a glass of water. He could feel Sergei's eyes boring into his back.

"What's wrong?"

Draco gulped the water. "Nothing," he said, when he had finished drinking. He ran his tongue over his teeth and grimaced. The bitter taste hadn't faded. He poured another glass for good measure, swishing it around his mouth before he swallowed.

When he turned, Sergei was there. He shoved a basket at Draco with enough force that the air whooshed from his lungs. "What's this?" Draco wheezed.

"Stop sulking like baby. Go pick vegetables for dinner."

"It's raining."

"Afraid you melt?"

Draco pursed his lips. "What kind do you want?"

"Don't care," Sergei said with a careless wave. "I make all taste good." He lumbered from the kitchen.

Draco stared at the basket without seeing it. Harry's words haunted him. Over the years, many people – friends and enemies alike – had thrown Draco's mistakes in his face, but no single accusation had cut as deep as Harry's. Regret surged anew and he clutched the basket harder. His hands shook and his throat closed up.

Draco didn't fight the pain. Too much time has passed and he had come too far in the past ten years to let one person send him reeling back into depression. By now he had learnt that evasion never worked. So instead of fighting, he accepted. Soon, the memories ran their course and a familiar peace washed over him. He took a deep cleansing breath and pushed the vestiges of dread, anxiety, and fear away.

The worst was over. The past was dead. And despite Harry's ambivalence, Draco felt safe at Sanctuary.



Harry found him in the vegetable patch.

He spoke in a rush, before he has even stopped moving. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said those things. It was uncalled for."

Draco ducked his head, hiding a smile. "Apology accepted."

He shifted, uncomfortable in his wet clothing. The rain had abated a little, but still drizzled from the sky. He had almost forgotten about Harry when a whispered incantation set his skin tingling. He tensed, then relaxed as his waterlogged clothing dried and a Bubble Charm formed a shield over his head.

He looked up though lowered lashes. "Thanks."

"Sure," Harry mumbled. "Why didn't you use a Water-Repelling Charm?"

Draco shrugged. He didn't owe Harry reasons for everything. "Forgot," he said.

"Forgot?" Harry scoffed.

"That's right." Draco picked up his basket and moved to the next row of plants.

Horror spread over Harry's face. "They didn't take your magic, did they?"

"They who?" Draco asked. He rolled his eyes when Harry stumbled over his answer. "Never mind. No, I still have my magic. I just use it discriminately these days."

Harry kicked at the grass under his own umbrella-like bubble. "I don't understand that."

"I'm sure you don't," Draco muttered. He cursed under his breath when Harry stiffened and turned away. "You've got quite the lot working here," he said quickly.

Harry stopped in his tracks and Draco gave a quiet sigh of relief.

"They're not employees," Harry said, turning around. "They're my family."

"So I've seen. How did you find them?"

Harry edged closer. Draco refrained from commenting that he looked like a timid rabbit.

"They found me," Harry said. "One at a time."

"When?"

"When I needed them most."

Draco rolled his eyes. "Don't rush to tell it all at once" he muttered.

Harry rested his hands on his hips. "Me? What about you?"

Draco knew a trap when he heard one. He threw Harry a glance, trying to judge his mood. It seemed curious, not confrontational. He plucked a courgette from its vine. "What about me?"

"You're afraid of the labyrinth."

An involuntary shiver raced down Draco's spine. "Maybe," he hedged.

With a put-upon sigh, Harry stepped over a row of peppers and crouched down next to Draco. He plucked the basket from his hands and pointed farther down the row. "Fawne doesn't like courgette. Better get some yellow squash."

Surprised by the gesture, Draco stared at him. "I didn't know that."

"Now you do."

Obediently, Draco walked down the row, shoes squelching through the mud, and pulled two plump yellow squash from their vines. When he turned, Harry was behind him, holding out the basket. Draco took it and dropped the squash in, being careful not to crush the tomatoes he'd picked earlier, and together they made their way over the rows of plants and onto the damp grass.

Spurred by an impulse he couldn't name, Draco spoke. "My father used an ancient labyrinth on the Manor grounds as a…talisman of sorts. It boosted his abilities, made some spells much more powerful."

"It had inherent magic?"

Draco nodded. "Used alone, though, the results were far from impressive, at least in his opinion."

Lost in his thoughts, he barely registered when Harry reached over and unclenched his fingers from the basket handle. Relieved of his burden, Draco shoved his hands deep into his pockets. At least there, Harry wouldn't see them curled into fists. "So…he used other things to augment the synergistic effects," Draco said.

"Other things?" Harry prompted.

"Blood rituals."

"I see," Harry said.

Draco doubted that. "I better get that in to Sergei." He held a hand out for the basket.

Harry shifted it behind his back. "Did you participate?"

Draco clenched his teeth. "Until I was able to resist."

"Resist?" Harry cocked his head. For his prodding, he asked the question gently.

"Resist the Imperius." Draco tried to reach around Harry for the basket.

Harry gaped in shock at Draco's answer. He didn't even react when Draco grabbed the vegetables. "You can do that?" he asked, incredulous.

"I can now." Draco swiveled so fast, he almost tripped on the wet grass. He hoped Harry would recognize the subtle dismissal, but like most Gryffindors, Harry didn't have a subtle bone in his body.

"That's a difficult skill to master," he said as he came up alongside Draco.

Enough was enough. Draco came to an abrupt stop outside the garden door and swung around. He met Harry's eyes. "I was motivated," he said, voice toneless.

While Harry digested his answer, Draco fled through the door and slammed it behind him.



He presented the basket to Sergei, who gave it a cursory look, then grunted.

Draco considered his options. Returning to his room felt too much like defeat. Going back to the garden meant another possible run-in with Harry and his probing questions.

Staying in the kitchen felt safest.

He dropped into a chair and propped his chin on his palm. "I got yellow squash for Fawne," he said.

Sergei grunted again. Steam bubbled up from a hodge-podge of pots scattered over the hob. He leaned over each in turn, breathing in their aroma. The first two received a low hum, the third earned a frown.

"More salt," he said to himself.

Fascinated, Draco observed Sergei fuss over his meal. His recipes had no rhyme or reason. Each pot got a sprinkle of some unidentifiable spice, then a dash of another, until finally Sergei was satisfied.

Draco inhaled the delicious smells. "How long have you been cooking?"

"Long time."

"You're quite good," Draco said.

Sergei continued to skim rising fat off the surface of the largest pot. He didn't acknowledge Draco's compliment.

"You would have been welcomed into my home with open arms," Draco said. "Not everyone fancies house-elves, you know."

"Vile things always underfoot," Sergei muttered under his breath.

Draco bit back a smile. "I'm serious, Sergei. Quite serious."

"Belong here now," Sergei said. "But…" He turned to Draco, placed his spoon over his heart, and gave a stiff bow. "Thank you."

Draco knew a rare gift when he received one. He cleared his throat. "You're welcome."

The moment was shattered by Harry's sudden appearance in the kitchen doorway. Draco stiffened. Sergei ignored the sudden rise in tension.

Harry lingered on the threshold, uncertain. "Can we talk?"

Curiously, Harry's hesitation put Draco back on an even keel. He nodded. "Of course." He motioned Harry forward.

A large clang rang through the room as Sergei topped his stock pot with its lid. "Don't be long." He stalked past Harry, spoon in hand. "Why in my kitchen?" he grumbled.

Harry's mouth twitched as Sergei passed him. Draco caught it and managed to swallow his own amusement for a moment. But the sound of the chandelier crystals crashing together, not to mention Sergei's muffled curse, had them both laughing out loud.

"He hasn't done that in a long time," Harry said as he chuckled.

"I must make him nervous."

"You make everyone nervous."

"Was that the reason for the inquisition?"

"I'm sorry." Harry winced. "Seems I always say the wrong thing around you."

Draco crossed the kitchen. "It's okay," he said, meaning it. "It was nice to hear you laugh. You don't do it enough, in my opinion."

Harry's gaze turned bitter, before filling with resignation. "The war. It…I lost nearly everyone. I didn't handle it well at first."

"You're not handling it well now."

Harry met and held Draco's pointed stare. "I know," he said.

Harry licked his lips. Draco did as well. But when Draco moved closer, Harry backed up a step.

"Don't."

Draco followed. "Where's that infamous Gryffindor courage?"

Harry stretched a hand out and placed it against Draco's chest. Draco stopped – Harry's desired effect, no doubt – but he placed his own hand over Harry's and entwined their fingers. By Harry's expression, it was obvious he felt Draco's heart racing. He gulped and his fingers tightened in the material of Draco's shirt.

Draco gave a small smile and shook his head. "See what you do to me?"

"But why?" Harry croaked.

"Is that important?" Draco began to rub Harry's hand.

"It is to me. We didn't exactly part on good terms."

Harry swallowed thickly when Draco squeezed his fingers. He made a small sound in the back of his throat, but didn't resist when Draco began to slide them down his ribs and over his stomach. "I don't hate you," Draco said in low voice. "I don't even dislike you." He teased their joined hands over the waistband of his jeans. "Quite the opposite, in fact."

"But why?"

Draco shrugged. "Can't explain it."

Harry's fingers twitched. His breathing turned shallow to match Draco's.

Draco guided Harry's hand up under his shirt and along the plane of his stomach. He stepped forward and put his other hand on Harry's hip. Beneath his fingers, Harry trembled.

Such a clear sign of encouragement couldn't be ignored. Draco yanked Harry against him, ignoring his sharp gasp, and whispered against his lips. "Being inexplicable doesn't make it any less powerful. I want you."

Harry's breathing faltered and he strained forward.

Draco leaned back. Turnabout was fair play, after all.

"I've got to go," he said in a soft voice. "The rain's stopped, and I want to do the Ghost Walk before dinner." In direct contradiction to his words, he darted forward and kissed the hollow of Harry's throat. "Don't let Sergei serve that masterpiece without me," he said, speaking into the skin of Harry's neck.

Harry hissed. He tried to slip his hands into Draco's hair and hold him close, but Draco was quicker. He darted back, leaving Harry dazed and aroused. With one last swipe of his finger over Harry's parted lips, he turned to leave.

"Wait!" Harry called out in a hoarse voice.

Draco glanced over his shoulder.

Reason crept back into Harry's eyes. Reason and acuity.

"I've spent time in Newport. I've done that walk three times myself."

Draco bit his tongue to keep from smiling. "It sounds like fun."

"It is. It's supposed to be guided, but more often than not, they leave you to your own devices."

"That's okay." Draco started toward the door once more. "I feel like being alone, actually."

Harry's dejected, "Oh," almost stopped him in his tracks. Instead, he steeled himself and gave a careless wave as he left the room.

Turnabout, indeed.




Walk 7 – Arreton: A fairly easy walk with panoramic views and a short steep climb near the finish. Difficult to negotiate, but rewarding.

Climbing the stairs after dinner proved difficult. Draco was so full he could barely move. His feet felt like lead weights and his mental faculties were equally lethargic. His head buzzed from too much wine and laughter.

He had shared his exploits in Newport with the family, and they in turn had told their own stories of terrorizing hapless Muggles in the town's so-called haunted houses.

Draco understood now why the area had a reputation. The residents of Sanctuary accounted for over a dozen 'incidents' in the last year alone. Even Fawne admitted to causing mischief. He couldn't remember the last time he'd laughed so hard and so long.

The only downside to the meal had been Harry's absence, which no one explained and for which Draco pretended disinterest.

He slipped into bed and was asleep in seconds.

As tired as he was, though, he jerked into full wakefulness just after midnight. The pleasant full feeling, left behind by Sergei's rich stew, was long gone. As was the warm contentment from the dinner conversation.

Draco lay in bed, keeping quiet and still, and tried to discern what had awakened him. No untoward noises penetrated the thick walls of his room. He didn't remember having a nightmare. Yet he was bathed in a cold sweat and his breathing burned raggedly through his lungs.

Getting back to sleep while he felt so unsettled would be impossible. Draco pushed the covers back and got out of bed. He reached for and found his jeans right away, despite the dark, and pulled them on.

He padded down the hall and descended the stairs, habit keeping him stealthy. A minute later, he rounded the corner and stepped through the open door into the library.

They were so quiet, Draco almost stumbled over them.

Harry leant against the wall, his arms in their usual defensive crisscross over his chest. Jon was sprawled on the couch, legs askew and hands laced behind his head.

Draco slunk out of the doorway and flattened himself against the outside wall. His heart pounded with adrenaline. Two silent figures in a dark room set all his senses into overdrive. True, this wasn't wartime, and he doubted the situation was dangerous. Eerie was more the word he would have chosen. Eerie and wrong.

Goosebumps appeared on his arms and the back of his neck tingled as the silence stretched and stretched. He didn't dare look around the doorframe. It had been blind luck that his sudden intrusion had gone unnoticed the first time, he wasn't about to risk discovery by risking a second peek.

It felt like several minutes later, by Draco's estimation, when Jon spoke.

"Are you going to stay over there all night?"

"You didn't seem to have a problem with it until now," Harry answered, voice bland.

"I figured you were in one of your snits."

"Snits?"

Draco closed his eyes and listened. Deprived of his ability to see inside the room, all he had to judge Harry's mood was his tone of voice. It was obvious, to Draco at least, that he was upset. Angry even. His voice was clipped and carried a slight hint of warning. Draco wondered if Jon noticed.

"Yeah, your snits. You know. When you go all dark and brooding."

Obviously not. "Prat," Draco whispered to himself.

He heard the shuffle of feet and the rustle of fabric. Then the couch creaked and someone sighed.

"Is this better?" Harry asked.

"Well, at least you're closer," Jon answered.

Unable to suppress his curiosity any longer, Draco eased his head around the doorframe. He bit his lip, partly in embarrassment and partly in delight when he discovered his vantage point was the perfect one for spying.

The couch was angled away from where he was standing, affording him a decent view of both Harry and Jon, yet for them to see him – even in their peripheral vision – they would need to turn fully around.

Harry shifted closer to Jon. He was nothing more than a shadow in the gloom, but Draco recognized him easily. He hummed with power. How anyone could not be affected by it was a mystery.

Draco's eyes had adjusted to the low light, and he had no trouble seeing when Harry reached out and placed his hand on Jon's arm. The touch became a soft caress that trailed first up to Jon's shoulder, then down to his wrist.

Draco seethed. Jealousy reared up and nearly choked him.

He heard Jon sigh. "You're in that kind of mood, then?"

Harry's hand stilled. "What mood?"

"The touching mood." Jon pulled away from Harry's hand.

"What's that supposed to mean?" The warning was back in Harry's voice.

Jon turned sideways on the couch to face Harry. "Listen, we've talked about this. We've tried this. I can't do a relationship with you. Frankly, I don't know how anybody could. You've been pretty clear that's the last thing you want, anyway."

Harry gave a derisive snort, but he did retreat to the opposite end of the couch. "So what are you saying?" he asked in a quiet voice.

"This was a disaster the first time because of your fickle moods. Sometimes you couldn't stand to touch me – unless it was to shove your dick up my arse – and other times all you wanted to do was pet me like a puppy." He threw his hands up in the air. "The current arrangement suits me fine, and it was your idea to begin with. So what's changed all of a sudden? Why can't we just fuck?"

Draco's fingers curled into his fists. He felt his nails digging into his palms, and concentrated on the sharp pinch – anything to distract him from his sudden desire to throttle Jon.

Harry chewed on his thumbnail and stared off into space.

"Well?" Jon pressed.

"Yeah. Sure," Harry said in a dead voice.

Draco used every ounce of restraint he possessed not to intervene. Jon stood, mumbling, "Finally," under his breath, and Harry followed suit.

"Where? Your bedroom?" He grabbed Harry by the waistband of his jeans and tugged him closer.

"No," Harry blurted immediately.

Jon cursed as he worked the buttons through he stiff denim. "Here, then." He popped the last button through the hole and pulled the jeans past Harry's hips.

Draco felt sick. Unable to watch, he turned to go, rubbing a hand over his churning stomach.

"Wait." Harry's loud command carried into the hall.

Draco paused.

"What?" Jon asked, his impatience obvious.

Harry's voice had lost its dreamlike quality. "I think you should go."

Draco released the breath he'd been holding. Gleefully, he leaned back around the doorframe.

Harry and Jon stood in front of a window, bathed in a beam of moonlight. Jon stared at Harry, open-mouthed, his fingers curled around the fabric of Harry's pants. "What?" he repeated.

"He told you to fuck off, you ignorant git," Draco whispered.

"I've changed my mind," Harry said. He stepped back and began buttoning his jeans.

"You've—" Jon stepped back as well, giving a short bark of hysterical laughter. "Well, that's rich. You're being a right bastard tonight."

Harry kept his head down as he fastened the last buttons. "I don't mean to be."

"Sure you don't," Jon said with a sneer. He raked his fingers through his hair. "Fuck! Is this because I wouldn't snuggle up on the couch?"

"Partly," Harry admitted. He sighed and rubbed at his eyes with his knuckles. Draco's chest ached at the gesture, recognizing it for the sign of resignation that it was.

Jon planted his hands on his hips and stared down his nose at Harry. "You are seriously fucked up, you know that?"

Harry didn't disagree. He stared at the floor.

With a final frustrated huff, Jon Disapparated.

"Seriously fucked up," Harry said to the empty room. After a moment, he Disapparated as well, leaving Draco alone in the darkness.



At first, Draco believed he was the only one at the breakfast table to notice Harry's sullenness. But when Sergei set Harry's plate in front of him like it was made of fine china, he realized differently.

"Thank you," Harry said. He ate, but contributed little to the conversation.

Fawne, oblivious to the charged atmosphere, chattered on. "I do wish sometimes we could have a house-elf. Oh, I know we can't, not with the Muggles around, but wouldn't it be nice? It's not bad now, with just Draco here, but when we're full of people, it can be so hard to keep up. You used to have some, didn't you, Harry? We never did. My father couldn't afford one, but I heard from Mary Cartwright – you remember Mary – that when she was growing up, they had three! Three! Can you imagine? I wonder what it would be like—"

"Fawne!" Harry yelled.

Everyone at the table jumped. Even Sergei. Draco held his breath.

"I've told you and told you. We can't have a house-elf here. When are you going to listen?"

Complete silence descended. For several seconds, no one moved. Draco's gaze darted to Fawne and wasn't surprised to see her eyes filling with tears. Pale and trembling, she sprang from the table and ran from the room.

"Harry," Cook scolded.

Draco pushed back from the table, but Harry snatched him by the arm before he could rise. "No," he said. "I'll go."

Draco hesitated, but when Harry's grip tightened, he relented. "Alright," he said as he sat back down.

"I'm sorry," Harry mumbled as he left the table.

The episode killed Draco's appetite, but he pushed the food around his plate, feigning interest in his breakfast. Lost in thought, he didn't see Sergei rise and come up behind him.

Sergei grabbed Draco's plate with enough force to send the fork flying across the table. He shook his spoon at Draco. "Mangle food worse than not eat."

Draco folded his hands in his lap. "My apologies. I'm not as hungry as I thought I was."

Sergei stabbed the plate under Draco's nose. "Too much snooping around at night."

Cook snickered when Draco's mouth dropped open. "Again, I apologize," Draco said, contrite. "I had no right."

"You have every right," Cook said. She made a grab for Draco's plate before Sergei shoved it in his face again. She pushed his rashers and eggs onto her own dish. "It's your home, too."

Struck dumb, Draco stared at her. Sergei cuffed him across the back of the head before returning to his seat. "Stupid boys," he said under his breath.



Although he intended to visit Arreton later in the day, Draco had made little in the way of plans for the morning. Still musing about Harry's behavior, he entered the library, only to be brought up short by the sight of Harry and Fawne.

Fawne sat on the edge of a wide leather chair, hands clenched in her lap. Harry crouched at her feet and took her hands in his. He spoke in low, soothing tones. "I'm sorry. I'm not myself right now."

Fawne sniffed and gave him a watery smile. "It's okay. I know that Draco—"

"That's none of your affair, Fawne. Please stay out of it."

Fawne sighed. "If you insist."

"I do."

Fawne extracted a hand from her lap and patted Harry's cheek. "Don't worry about me. I'm fine."

"I'm sorry for snapping at you."

"I know you are." Fawne stood, forcing Harry to back away and stand as well. "I'm going to get to work now. I'll see you at dinner."

She stretched on her tiptoes to peck him on the cheek. She caught Draco's eye as she turned, but instead of bringing his presence to Harry's attention, she left without a word. Draco debated leaving Harry to himself, but his despondent look and the way he collapsed onto the couch decided him otherwise. Cautiously, he started across the room.

Harry saw him coming and tracked his approach with half-lidded eyes.

Draco stopped in front of him. "Are you okay?"

Harry nodded.

"Are you sure?"

Harry nodded.

Draco's mouth twisted at the unspoken lie. He stepped behind the couch. "Let me help." He edged his hands onto the back of the cushion.

"No."

"Please," Draco said.

He brushed the fabric of Harry's shirt with his fingers. Pleased when Harry didn't flinch, he slid his hands across Harry's shoulders to rest on either side of his neck. "Let me help," he repeated.

He began a slow massage, rubbing circles along the base of Harry's neck. He rubbed and kneaded for a long time before Harry relaxed.

"More?" Draco whispered.

Harry swallowed but nodded.

Draco's hands drifted to Harry's upper back. "Is this alright?"

"Yes," Harry replied, voice raspy.

Draco felt along the bunched muscles, searching for the best place to begin. To his dismay, each spot was as tight as the last. With a disgruntled sigh, he started in the middle, working at the tension with his thumbs.

Harry jerked when Draco dug deep with the pads of his fingers. "Hurts," he complained, voice thick.

"I know. It won't for long. Trust me."

Draco cringed as the last words left his mouth. He steeled himself for Harry's withdrawal, but it never came. He massaged Harry's shoulders and upper back before returning to his neck. By then, Harry's head was lolling back against Draco's stomach. Small moans escaped whenever Draco found a tender spot.

"Sorry," Draco murmured.

"Relaxation spells don't hurt as much, you know."

"They're not the same."

Draco eased his caresses until they were whispers across Harry's skin. He pushed his fingers into Harry's hair and scratched at the scalp, then trailed them along the line of his chin to settle in hollow of this throat.

Harry shivered. "Spells are just as therapeutic."

"No. They're not." Draco punctuated his quiet statement by stroking his thumbs along the line of Harry's neck.

Harry's mouth parted. His head pressed into Draco's stomach.

Draco thought about stepping back, but temptation won. He lifted a shaking finger and traced Harry's lips. Harry's eyes remained closed, but Draco knew he was awake. He could see Harry's fists clenched in his lap, knuckles white with strain.

When Draco's finger passed over his bottom lip a second time, Harry's tongue darted out and wet the tip. Draco gasped and froze. Again, Harry sought out Draco's finger with his tongue, then nipped the sensitive pad.

"Harry," Draco warned, voice tight.

Harry stiffened. His eyes snapped open. They watched each other for several seconds before Harry leapt from the couch.

Draco jumped in front of him. "No. No you don't." He grabbed Harry's hand.

Harry tried to jerk it from Draco's grip, but Draco held fast.

Harry growled in annoyance. "I don't—"

"Don't say you don't want this!" Draco hissed. "No one here believes it, least of all me." He cupped Harry's face in his palm. Vigilant for any sign of panic, he stroked his thumb across his cheek.

Harry's breathing turned erratic. "Stop."

"Why?" Draco took a trembling breath and reached for Harry with his other hand, drawing him close. Harry came without protest, though he stumbled.

Having Harry so close played havoc with Draco's control. He forgot what he had been hoping to accomplish, and instead focused on the heat and the magic jumping between them. It pulled him in and trapped him against Harry's trembling body.

Draco fisted both hands in Harry's hair and leant forward to nuzzle their faces together. Their noses bumped and their lips brushed. His hands clenched and unclenched in Harry's hair as he caressed his face with his lips and breath.

"Draco," Harry groaned. He broke away, a curse on his lips, but Draco tightened his arms around Harry's back before he could escape. Harry struggled for a moment before sagging against Draco. "It's too much," he said.

"Too much?" Draco asked. "Too much what?"

Harry strained against the embrace. Seeing true panic in his eyes, Draco let him go. "Too much what?" he asked again.

Harry stumbled backward. He didn't answer.

Draco held his hand out. "Harry?"

"Too much for you," Harry said, voice matter-of-fact.

Draco sighed. Slowly, he dropped his hand back to his side. Harry took a shuddering breath and crossed his arms in front of him.

"I know what I'm getting into," Draco said. "You don't scare me."

The declaration hung between them. Finally, Harry nodded. "Give me some time, okay?"

"How much?"

Harry backed away. "Please." Without waiting for Draco's answer, he spun and left the room.



He traveled to Arreton by way of Yarmouth. Draco considered it a lengthy, but necessary detour. With the help of the Apparition map, he easily found the shop where he had first met Harry. Jon was absent, but a plump middle-aged woman waved, then beckoned him over to where she was dusting shelves.

"What can I do for you, dear?" she asked.

Draco drew forth his most charming smile. "I'm looking for Jon, actually. Is he here?"

"I'm sorry, dear. He's in Arreton today, minding things there. Shall I tell him you stopped by?"

"That's alright. I was on my way to Arreton anyway, as a matter of fact. I'll visit him there, if that's alright?"

The woman giggled and waved her rag at Draco. "Of course, dear. I'd never hear the end of it if I let a handsome young man such as yourself get away. I'm sure he'll be thrilled to see you."

"I'm sure of that, myself," Draco said.

The Arreton shop looked the same as its brother in Yarmouth. Draco slipped inside behind a young, chattering couple and loitered near the back. When they left, he moved toward the front of the store, determined to take advantage of the privacy while he could.

"Draco," Jon said, surprised when Draco appeared in front of him. The surprise melted into an inviting, but calculating, smile. He leant over the counter. "Here for a bit of distraction? Store's all empty at the moment."

"Hardly." Draco pushed him back. "I'm here to instruct you, actually. Stay away from Harry."

Jon blinked. "What?"

"You heard me quite clearly, I'm sure."

Jon gaped at him. "You're joking."

"Not even a little bit." This time, Draco leant forward. "Leave him alone."

Jon snorted. "And if I don't?"

A feral grin spread over Draco's face. He withdrew his wand and tapped it against his palm. Jon gulped and stepped back. "Who the bloody hell do you think you are?"

"Someone you wouldn't want to cross wands with. Compared to mine, your knowledge of Dark magic wouldn't fit on the end of a pin. Stay. Away."

He let his quiet words sink in, then turned and left. He didn't spare Jon a backward glance, but suspected the other man was fighting a mix of anger and indignation. The unfortunate but likely truth was that Jon wouldn't heed the warning. Draco was used to that – stupidity and hubris walked hand in hand.

He had a bit of personal experience to back that up.

He began the Arreton walk with a bad taste in his mouth. As broad in scope and ambiguous as his threats had been, they had been real nonetheless. It had been years since he had used magic to harm another person. He hoped Jon wouldn't give him a reason.



Harry didn't come back that day.

Draco went to bed full of cottage pie, but troubled by Harry's absence. He slept poorly, the vague uneasiness that resulted from his encounter with Jon feeding his disquiet, and woke before dawn, tired and cranky. He arrived to breakfast early, but ended up eating Sergei's Quiche Alsacienne by himself. Even Fawne was conspicuously absent.

The silent kitchen troubled him. As soon as he thought he could escape without incurring Sergei's wrath, he went in search of Cook. He found her bent over a privet hedge on the east side of the garden, a bag of seeds beside her.

"Can I help?" he asked.

"You can try. Your Charms skills any good?"

Draco stepped over and around the piles of dirt. "Passable," he said when he reached Cook. "What do you need?"

She handed him a handful of seeds. "I dig the hole. No spell does that right, I've learnt that by now. Always turns out too deep or too shallow. You plant each seed – mind you don't put more than a dusting of soil over them – and recite the incantation. Subolesco Velociter."

Draco shrugged. "Subolesco Velociter. Sounds easy."

"It will be for you," Cook muttered.

Draco frowned, detecting the wistfulness in her voice. "Can't you—"

"No time for that now."

She turned and stabbed at the ground with her trowel. When the hole had been dug to her satisfaction, she moved on.

Draco let her get ahead of him by several holes before stepping forward with his seeds. He dropped the first one in, covered it, and mumbled the incantation.

Cook watched from the corner of her eye. "Don't need your wand?"

"Not for this."

"What you mean to say is, not for anything."

Draco caught her arm before she could move on. "No. That's not true. I need it for most things. I'm not like Harry."

Cook snorted. "No one's like Harry."

"Speaking of Harry," Draco paused and licked his lips, "I haven't seen him around the past day or so. He must be very busy."

Cook dug another perfect round hole. "I'm not Fawne. No need to beat about the bush. Out with it."

Draco pursed his lips. He planted another seed and moved to the next hole. "Where is he?"

"Don't know."

Draco held his anger in check. "I doubt he'd leave with no word to anyone about where he was going or when he'd be back."

"What makes you think that?"

"This is his home. And you're his family."

Cook didn't answer. She dug another two holes before she squinted up at Draco. "Give him some time. He'll be back. Might even be today." She gave Draco a small smile. "You never know."

Draco breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you."

"You're welcome."

She proceeded down the row, nodding in approval at Draco's work.

"Didn't mean to snap at you before," she said when they reached the end.

Draco smiled and handed over the few remaining seeds. "It's okay. I understand."

Cook clasped his hand when he tried to pull away. She held it tight for several seconds. "I believe you do," she said.

Draco squeezed her fingers in return, meeting her intense stare. The moment passed, and Cook dropped Draco's hand, waving him away. "Enough work. You're here for other things. Go."

Draco chuckled under his breath and stepped back. He admired the seedlings he had planted, already shooting up through the soil with the help of the spell. They would form a stunning border around Cook's privet hedge.

He turned in a circle, taking in the garden as a whole. "It truly is a paradise," he mused.

"Sanctuary," Cook replied.




Walk 8 – Brading: This walk is fairly gentle until the end. A varied landscape of farmland, copse, downland, and landscaped estate can be seen en route. Uneven in the last section. Beware of sudden changes in the state of the road.

Draco put off the Brading walk until almost too late. When Harry hadn't shown by teatime, he grabbed his Apparition map and jumper, determined not to be held hostage by anyone else's temper tantrum.

He had barely gained the stone gravel at the base of the front steps when he heard Harry behind him.

"Are you going out?"

Draco allowed his grin free reign before schooling his features and turning around. "As a matter of fact, yes. Brading this time. I thought…I thought I'd try The Bugle Inn for dinner."

It had been a snap decision, made just then, but he couldn't bear another meal alone. Strange how habit changed at the drop of a hat.

Harry grimaced. "It can be awfully crowded, mostly with tourists. Have you considered the other pubs on that route?"

"No. I want to see that one."

Harry rolled his eyes. "You know, for all you've changed, in some ways you're exactly the same."

"Comforting, isn't it?" Draco said. He cocked his head at Harry. "So, are you coming?"



The last section of the Brading Walk took them along the main thoroughfare and ended at the doors to The Bugle Inn. Draco inhaled deeply as they walked, entranced by how the breeze carried with the delicious odors of cooking food.

"I hear this place has a wonderful reputation."

"For separating tourists from their money, perhaps."

Draco laughed. "A cynical Gryffindor. I do believe the Founders are rolling in their graves."

He darted a glance at Harry and was pleased to see him fighting a smile. He edged closer. When Harry didn't protest, Draco began to match Harry's pace, letting their fingers brush with each step.

"I'd advise against that type of behavior here." Harry stepped away, shooting glances to the left and right. Draco obeyed and backed away, but contented himself that Harry frowned when he did.

"I don't much care what people think of me," Draco said.

Harry took a deep breath. He kept his eyes focused straight ahead. "I've noticed that."

"Surprised?"

Harry pursed his lips, but didn't answer straight off. As they approached the Bugle Inn, he shoved his hands in his pockets and sighed. "I suppose I am. You have to admit, it's a departure for you."

Draco stepped in front of Harry and pulled the door open for him. "It was before. It isn't now."

Harry gave a soft snort under his breath and entered the pub. Unable to resist, Draco let his fingers trail over the small of Harry's back as he passed out of the sun and into the darkness of the pub.

"I thought you said you'd be good," Harry said out of the corner of his mouth.

"I am good."

Draco grinned when Harry stopped in his tracks. When he tried to turn, a retort on his lips, Draco caught him around the waist and held him still. He linked his hands across Harry's stomach. "I'm just waiting for a chance to prove it to you," he whispered in his ear.

Beneath his hands, Harry's stomach muscles clenched. Draco closed his eyes, savoring the contact while he could, sure that Harry was about to bolt. Instead, Harry took a deep breath and tilted his head back, resting it on Draco's shoulder. His body relaxed, pressing them together, his back against Draco's chest. Unprepared for the surrender, as well as the jolt of desire that resulted from it, Draco gave a soft moan and turned his face into Harry's hair. In turn, Harry placed his hands over Draco's and squeezed.

"You do this now," Draco groused. "In public. Surrounded by people."

"Can you think of a better place?"

"Plenty of them." Draco took another minute to enjoy the embrace before releasing Harry and stepping back. Harry turned and flashed him a coy smile. Draco tried to return it, but reining in his desire proved tricky. The best he could manage was a tense grimace.

Harry cocked his head. "Ready to eat?"



Luck was on Draco's side. He and Harry were seated in a secluded corner, the two-fold benefit being that their conversation would remain relatively private, and he would be free to touch Harry as much as he liked.

He started right away.

Harry cleared his throat and shifted farther along the narrow bench when Draco's hand landed on his thigh.

Draco grinned. "You can't run far. The bench isn't that big."

"Stop."

"You started it," Draco told him.

"What are you having?"

Draco eased backward, giving Harry the breathing room he desired. "Is the food good?"

"It's expensive."

Draco's retort regarding the non-existent relationship of 'good' to 'expensive' was cut short by the appearance of their waiter, a young man whose blond hair was as messy as Harry's dark mop. Draco liked him immediately for that reason alone.

"Gentleman," he said. "What can I bring you?"

Harry made a noncommittal sound and studied his menu. Draco winked at the waiter. "How about a couple of pints and few more minutes to decide?"

"Sure." The man's gaze lingered on Draco before he turned to fetch their drinks.

"Harry?" Draco asked. "Is every man on this island gay?"

Harry was staring at the retreating waiter with narrowed eyes. "Once they see you they are," he mumbled under his breath.

Draco treated the statement as an invitation. He settled his hand on the inside of Harry's thigh again. This time, Harry's only reaction was to turn the page of his menu.

"Is this the only Walk you hadn't done?" Harry kept his face buried in the menu as he spoke.

"It's the last one listed on the travel guide."

"So you'll be leaving now."

Draco stared unseeing at his own menu for several seconds before answering. "No," he said. "No. I don't think so."

Still bent over his menu, Harry gave a slow nod. "Good."

Draco caressed his leg in answer.



By the end of the meal, Draco agreed with Harry about The Bugle Inn. The place was a shameless tourist trap. But the food had been passable and the service excellent.

Too excellent. Draco didn't appreciate being interrupted every five minutes by their overzealous waiter, whose overt flirting became more bothersome as the evening wore on. He ignored it as best he could and concentrated on Harry.

When the bill arrived, Harry snatched it before Draco could blink.

"I invited you," he said.

"I'm capable of paying." Draco tried to keep the defensiveness from his voice.

"I know." Harry placed his hand over Draco's, which had wandered up and down Harry's leg most of the evening. "But I want to."

"Then I accept."

As Harry figured the tip and counted out the money, Draco walked his fingers up Harry's thigh.

Harry squirmed and swiped at a bead of sweat on his forehead.

With his index finger, Draco followed the crease of Harry's trousers where they folded alongside his cock. A furtive sound escaped Harry's mouth, and he shifted to make room for his swelling erection.

"Draco."

Draco added his ring finger to the mix. "Yeah?"

"Not here."

Draco rubbed the tip of Harry's cock and smiled at his strangled gasp. Even through the heavy cotton, Draco could feel the bulbous head jumping and twitching beneath his fingers.

"Fuck," Harry groaned. "Stop." He folded over the table, money in hand.

"Is this all it would take?" Draco asked, voice low. "Could I make you come like this?" Despite Harry's plea, he continued to rub. When moisture began to leak through the layers of material, he scratched at the tip with blunt fingernails.

Harry dropped his fistful of money, heedless of the coins that clattered to the tabletop. He jammed his fist against his mouth.

Draco glanced around. Their actions hadn't gone unnoticed, though only a few watched with open interest.

He didn't care.

Without missing a beat, he brought his other hand to his own crotch and pressed the growing bulge there. "I could bring us both off right here. Now," he whispered, wanting Harry to hear the tremble in his voice. He shifted on the bench, adjusting himself even as he stroked and pulled.

Harry caught the movement from the corner of his eye. With a hiss, he ripped Draco's hand away from himself and scooted away. He curled protectively over his lap and glowered.

Draco met Harry's burning glare with his own. "You like watching, don't you? Just like that day in the woods."

Harry pressed his lips together. He gave one jerky nod, then let his eyes fall to Draco's hand where it worked at his prick through his trousers.

"Could you come like this? Watching me?"

Harry didn't bother looking up when he nodded. His eyes were glued to Draco's lap.

"Fuck, that's hot," Draco groaned. He concentrated on Harry's flushed face, the rivulet of perspiration on his temple, his dilated eyes. The noise of the pub fell away. His chest tightened, then his stomach. His toes curled inside his shoes. "Harry," he said.

Harry's eyes darted to his.

"I want you," he mouthed, his voice a mere whisper. He gripped himself hard through his trousers, jerking with harsh strokes.

"Draco," Harry whispered.

A cacophony of shattering glass split the air.

They both jumped. A few feet away, their waiter stood staring in horror at the pile of broken glass and spilled ale at his feet. A serving tray hung from his hand.

Draco turned away to hide his snort of laughter.

"It's not funny," Harry scolded, ruining the effect when the last word emerged as a chuckle.

"If you say so."

An army of employees descended on the destruction. Their waiter untangled himself from the crowd and approached their table.

"Are you okay?" Draco asked with a bemused smile.

The waiter nodded. Flushed, he placed the bill facedown on the table and slid it in front of Draco. When Harry tried to reach for it, he pushed it into Draco's lap and leant close to his ear. "Call me. I'd love to see how the show ends." Before Draco could react, he disappeared.

Harry plucked the bill from Draco's lap and turned it over. His frown deepened as he read the short scribbled note and string of numbers penciled in at the bottom. Lips pursed, he gathered the money scattered over the table and slapped it atop the scrap of paper.

"Let's go," he said. He hauled Draco out of the booth by the arm.

Draco took issue with being led away like a recalcitrant puppy. He tried to tug his arm free, but Harry wouldn't let go. He pulled Draco past the bar and into the short corridor that led to the toilets. As soon as they were out of the crowd's earshot, Draco yelled at him.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?"

Harry stopped so suddenly, Draco crashed into him, sending them both stumbling.

"You have got to stop doing that," Draco said.

He opened his mouth, intending to deliver another scathing comment, when Harry spun around to face him. One look at the fire in his eyes and the words dried up in Draco's throat.

"What is it?" he managed to croak.

Harry stepped close. "He wanted you."

"Who?"

"The waiter," Harry said, teeth clenched. "And you encouraged him."

Draco gaped. "Are you mad? I did not!" He gave a weak laugh and tried to pull his arm loose again. Harry held fast.

Anger replaced Draco's amusement. "What's your problem?"

Harry swallowed hard and gave his head a violent shake. Deftly, he reached behind Draco and pushed open the door to the loo. Draco found himself being manhandled over the threshold and pushed against the wall. "Explain yourself," he growled as Harry closed the door behind them.

Harry turned around and Draco was taken aback by the fury in his eyes. After everything, jealousy was the last thing he had expected. His anger forgotten, he reached out with his free hand and slipped it around Harry's waist, pulling him in and folding him into a tight embrace.

"You confuse the hell out of me," he said when Harry came easily into his arms. Sensitive to their whereabouts, he willed away his hunger to touch and taste.

Harry thwarted his efforts. He stepped closer, crowding Draco against the wall, and nuzzled his neck. His hands clutched at Draco's hips before sliding to his waist.

Draco tightened his arms around Harry and tilted his head back as far as the wall allowed. His knees went weak when the nuzzling turned into the not-so-gentle sweep of Harry's tongue across his skin.

"Harry," he moaned, clutching him closer. "Are you—"

He choked when Harry interrupted his licking and gave a gentle bite to his collarbone. "If you ask me if I'm sure about this, I'll hex you," Harry said in his ear.

Draco gave a breathy laugh. "I was going to say, are you sure you want to do this here?" He shoved his hips forward, rubbing against Harry's body like a contented cat. "I want to see and feel all of you."

Harry licked his way up Draco's throat until he reached his mouth. Draco whimpered when Harry hovered close, lips a hair's-breadth from his own. "We'll get there," he whispered. "Not ready to let go of you yet."

The words stripped the last of Draco's will to resist. He surged forward and sealed their lips together.

Harry's arms crept around him and clutched at his back. His magic crashed against Draco in ever-increasing waves, making him dizzy and disoriented. They strained until they were plastered together head to toe, hands moving under clothing and over skin.

Draco urged Harry on, willing to use the cold, hard tile beneath them if it meant they could have each other then. Instead, Harry's hands slowed, then stilled, coming to rest on Draco's waist.

For a long time, they did nothing but stand perfectly still and breathe, their lips inches apart.

Without Harry's hands stroking his body – memorizing it, claiming it – Draco was able to coax his brain back into his head. He opened his eyes to find Harry watching him. Assessing him.

"Let me in," Draco said.

Harry's eyes never wavered. Nor did he didn't acknowledge Draco's statement.

"You've been alone long enough," Draco added.

Harry's jaw twitched. "That's how I want it."

"No," Draco said. "It isn't."

He closed the space between them and pressed his mouth to Harry's in a brief kiss. "This is how you want it," he whispered. "This is what you're missing. Touch. Taste. Heat." He kissed Harry again, tracing his lips with his tongue. "You can tell yourself those lies all you want. It doesn't change what you want. It doesn't change what you need." He stared into Harry's eyes as he leaned forward. "Now kiss me."

Harry met him halfway.

For Draco, the world tilted. He thought he might be falling, but Harry's hands were still wrapped around his back, proving that for all his vertigo, he was still standing. Harry clutched him harder, forcing the air from his lungs, but Draco didn't care. He sought purchase where he could, asking without words for Harry to get closer, to be inside of him. And to never, never stop.

Harry feasted. He devoured. When Draco could no longer breathe – when the dizziness threatened to overcome him – he tore his head to the side, pulling his lips away. Deprived of Draco's mouth, Harry attacked his throat, sucking and biting his way over Draco's collarbone to lick at the sensitive skin below his earlobe.

Draco's legs gave out.

Harry felt him sag and shoved his knee between Draco's thighs, snug against his erection.

"Trying to get away?" he growled.

"Oh…fuck," Draco gasped. Shamelessly, he rutted against Harry's thigh. From a distant, far off place in his mind came the idea that he needed to get Harry naked. And in bed. Naked and in bed. "Bed," he moaned.

"You think so?" Harry hissed in his ear. He ground his thigh into Draco's cock.

"I—"

Draco's response cut off when Harry's mouth once more closed over his. His tongue delved inside and twisted around Draco's. When he started to suck, Draco surrendered to the inevitable build towards climax. His knees shook. His stomach tightened.

"Harry," he warned, breaking away for a moment.

Harry seized him by the nape of the neck and forced their lips back together. The familiar disorientation of Apparition overtook him.

Harry never stopped kissing him. When the world righted itself, Draco opened his eyes to an unfamiliar bedroom.

He broke the kiss. "Yours?" he asked.

"Yeah."

Draco took a hasty inventory. He smiled at the thick layer of pillows and blankets adorning Harry's four-poster.

"Gonna fuck me on that bed?"

Harry buried his face against Draco's neck. "Yeah. In a minute." His hands clamped onto Draco's arse and he pulled, lifting him off the floor and crushing him against his thigh. Draco squirmed brazenly, and Harry pulled again, a sharp jerk that brought his own cock tight against Draco's hip.

They both groaned.

"No!" Draco cried. He pushed Harry away.

Harry stumbled back a step, eyes glazed. "What…."

"For once, we have a bed," Draco panted. "We're damn well going to use it." He reached for the buttons on Harry's shirt. "Get this off."

Harry reached to help. He mumbled under his breath, short staccato phrases that Draco couldn't make out, though "fuck" and "hurry" came through clear enough. Their fingers tangled up in the fabric and Draco pushed him away. "Let me," he said, working the buttons open.

Harry didn't protest, and went to work on Draco's shirt. An eternity later, Draco pushed the fabric from Harry's shoulders just as his own shirt hit the floor. "I was faster," Harry taunted in his ear. He stabbed his tongue inside before licking a trail around the shell.

"Mmmmm," Draco moaned. "Sorry. Out of practice."

They sought each other's mouths at the same moment their hands went exploring. Draco marveled at the texture of Harry's skin. It slid beneath his fingers like fine silk, and he couldn't stop touching it. He slipped his hands between them and rubbed his thumbs over Harry's nipples.

Harry sucked in a breath and coughed it back out with profanity attached. Triumphant, Draco walked him backward towards the bed.

Harry went without protest. His hands snuck between them to fumble with Draco's belt.

"'Bout time," Draco said, his mouth still pressed against Harry's.

Harry chuckled. When his legs hit the bed, he spun them and shoved Draco onto the mattress, laughing when he landed with a grunt and a bounce.

"Like it rough, do you?" Draco taunted.

Harry's mouth tilted up in a lopsided grin. "Think you can keep up?" He popped the snap on his jeans and reached for the zip. Draco's mouth watered. He waited, staring at Harry's hand, mouth parted in anticipation.

But Harry's hand stopped. It hovered over the zip and didn't move.

"Waiting for a written invitation?" Draco asked. Smiling, he looked up.

Dread engulfed him.

Harry's gaze was glued to Draco's naked chest, his body statue-still. His breathing, labored and gloriously out of control a few moments ago, turned slow and deep. His eyes narrowed to slits.

Taking great care with his movements, Draco raised himself on his elbows. "You knew," he said. He swallowed hard, hating how his own fear welled up with such furious speed. "Don't stand there and pretend you didn't know."

"I didn't." Harry pointed a finger at the Dark Mark on Draco's chest. "I didn't know about that."

"You knew I was Marked."

"You made it sound as though you were unwilling!" Harry shouted. Fury filled his face. "All this time, you were a member of the Inner Circle."

"I wasn't given a choice," Draco replied. The louder Harry yelled, the quieter he spoke.

Harry trembled with rage. "No choice?" he bellowed. He stabbed his finger at the Mark burned into Draco's chest. It had faded over the years, Draco knew, though he tried to avoid looking at it. Tried to forget it.

"The things that you did…I know about them…." Harry's voice trailed off into a horrified whisper.

A seed of panic bloomed in Draco's heart. In that split second, he understood that Harry might not forgive him for the life he'd left behind. "I had no choice," he said again, begging Harry to understand.

Harry took another step back. His eyes blazed like cold, flinty beacons. "I don't believe you."

Don't make excuses, Draco's conscience reminded him.

He ignored the warning.

"I was young," he said. "Too young to fight. I didn't… have a choice."

"You did have a choice. You had Dumbledore." Harry's lip curled in disgust. "Still an accomplished liar, I see."

Draco rose from the bed. "What choice was that?" he spat. "Trading one puppet master for another. I was safer where I was."

"Because that's all that mattered, didn't it?" Harry yelled, hands clenched at his sides. "Your safety! When everyone else I knew was suffering and sacrificing themselves—" Harry broke off, panting.

His hand crept to his pocket.

Draco saw Harry reach for his wand, and it stole his breath away. He sagged against the bedpost. The feelings coaxed back to life that week at Sanctuary – hope, friendship, intimacy, and passion – sputtered and died.

"You've decided to judge me, have you?" Draco asked in a dead voice. He retreated across the room, putting as much distance between them as possible. "You have no idea what I've been through."

Harry's hand faltered. "Then tell me."

Draco shook his head. "I don't want to. I have no desire to relive it."

"If you could just explain…" Harry pleaded with his eyes.

"No. I hate to insult your delicate Gryffindor sensibilities, but talking about the bad things, sharing them, doesn't always help. It may purge some demons, but some never leave. They fade. That's all. Living – surviving – means putting them behind you. Moving forward. One foot in front of the other. Never looking back."

"A life of evasion. Of not owning up to your mistakes," Harry said with a sneer. "How typical."

Draco reared back. "Fuck you. Is that your answer, then? Spew emotional platitudes until you're so blinded by the bullshit, you feel all better? Convince yourself you're healed, while you hide away in this…place…and carry on this elaborate ruse you call life?"

"There's no deception in my life."

Draco gave a bark of hysterical laughter. "There's no anything in your life. You're all alone."

Harry shook his head. "No. Not alone."

"You are alone! Are you trying to tell me that twisted, crippled relationship with Jon is satisfying?"

"At least it's honest."

Draco turned and pressed his forehead against the cool window pane. "I don't know which of us is the bigger fool. You for being a martyr, or me for thinking I could change things. That I could make you see what you've lost."

Harry stepped forward, his posture menacing. "Careful," he said, voice low. "You could travel to hell and back and never understand my losses. Never."

Draco spun around, flushed with anger and grief. "Which evidently makes me unworthy of your precious attention. I will never appreciate how the great Harry Potter has suffered. Hypocrite!" Draco seethed. He pushed the anguish away and lashed out. "You're not worth the trouble."

Harry paled. His hand dropped from where it had hovered over his pocket. "You certainly haven't lost your flair for cruelty," he whispered. He retrieved his shirt from the floor. "I want you out of my house tomorrow morning." He yanked the door open and disappeared.

"Fuck!" Draco yelled. He picked up the first thing he found and threw it against the far wall. When he heard the sound of shattering glass, he cursed again and sank onto the edge of Harry's bed.

He lowered his head into his hands. "Fuck it all," he said.



Walk 9 – Niton:This walk features spectacular views. However, caution is advised as it runs parallel to the cliff edge. It is also quite demanding in some sections. Not for the faint of heart.

For hours, sleep's promising oblivion hovered out of reach. When it did come, the nightmares followed. Draco woke several times, sweating and cursing. Once, he even clawed his way to consciousness to find tears spilling down his cheeks. After that, he sat in the chair by the window and waited for dawn.

By the pink and orange light of sunrise, he packed his things. He frowned as he worked. He'd only been at Sanctuary for a few days, but every one of his three trunks was open and unpacked. Pictures he hadn't seen in years were perched on the small table by the bed. A variety of trinkets – items he'd picked up from his travels – lay around the room.

It looked more his home than the last flat he'd rented – a place he'd lived for fifteen months.

Even so, it only took a few short minutes to spell his possessions into their trunks. He walked around the room once, telling himself he was checking for any items left behind, though in reality, he wanted a last chance to run his fingers over the soft quilt and steal a final look out the picture window.

When his thoughts turned to Harry for the hundredth time, he slung his pack over his shoulder and walked away.

The kitchen bustled with action. Draco hesitated on the threshold, unsure of his welcome.

"There you are!" Fawne exclaimed when she saw him. "I was wondering what was keeping you."

Draco indicated the bag on his shoulder. "I had to pack."

"Pack?" she echoed.

All activity ceased. Cook, in the middle of serving tea, paused mid-pour. Sergei swiveled and stared.

Fawne eyed his bag. "You're leaving?"

"Yes." He took his usual seat at the table and mumbled his thanks when Cook slid a cup and saucer his way.

Fawne stood at the sink, wringing her hands. "But…but…you haven't finished the walks."

"Yes, I have," Draco said. He drank his tea, staring into the cup between sips, and eventually the others went back to their tasks. The mood in the kitchen turned somber.

The smell of burnt toast preceded his breakfast's appearance. Sergei placed the plate in front of him with a thud that made his cup jump and slop tea onto the saucer.

Draco stared at the dish. "Scrambled," he remarked.

"Coward," Sergei said.

Draco examined the pile of fluffy eggs and blackened bread before picking up his fork. He scooped up a large bite and held it up. "I suppose I deserve it," he said.

Sergei looked on without expression.

He brought the fork to his mouth, aware of Fawne's muffled gasp and Cook's slack-jawed expression of horror. It was millimeters from his lips when the shark crack of Apparition sounded and Jon appeared in the kitchen.

"Morning, everybody," he called.

Draco put his fork down. "What are you doing here?"

Jon ignored him. "Is Harry about?"

For a long moment, nobody answered. Then Cook broke the silence. "No. He left early."

Draco dropped his eyes to the table.

"Where'd he go?" Jon asked.

Draco glanced up in time to see Cook exchange a look with Sergei.

"Um…Niton? I think."

Jon's smile grew strained. "Where'in Niton?"

Cook shrugged. Sergei turned his back. He mumbled under his breath and cracked eggs into a hot pan. A soft sizzling filled the air.

Draco spoke before he could stop himself. "I thought I told you to leave Harry alone," he growled. "Stay away from him."

Jon's eyes narrowed. He took a step in Draco's direction.

Sergei's voice boomed through the kitchen. "Sit," he barked. He dropped his hand onto Jon's shoulder. "I make you special breakfast."

A sharp pain shot through Draco's chest as Sergei pushed Jon into a seat. To his dismay, he recognized the source as simple jealousy. Despite everything – perhaps because of everything – Jon was more a part of Harry's family than Draco could ever hope to be.

Jon took a seat across from Draco. "Yours?" he asked, smirking and nudging the bag at Draco's feet.

"You know it is."

The smirk grew. "Leaving so soon?" he goaded. "Harry and I will miss you."

Draco's nostrils flared. A retort flew to his lips, then hung there, balanced on the tip of his tongue. His wand hand twitched.

Under the table, Cook squeezed his knee. "Draco," she said under her breath. She tilted her head in Fawne's direction.

Fawne's hand-wringing had become feverish. She licked her lips and rocked to and fro. Tears shone in wide blue eyes that darted first to Jon, then to Draco, then back again.

Draco clamped his mouth shut. He took up his teacup and sat back in his chair. Cook patted his knee in thanks.

"Here." Sergei shoved a bowl and whisk at Fawne, instantly distracting her. "Mix."

"Oh! What's this for?" The bowl bobbled in her arms.

"Birthday cake for you."

Bir—"

"Mix!" Sergei demanded as he dropped a plate in front of Jon.

"Looks smashing," Jon said. "I do love your scrambled eggs."

Draco blinked. He stared first at Jon's heaping plate of eggs, then at Sergei.

"I know this. Is why I make them for you." Sergei waited while Jon took his first bite.

"Good?" Cook asked.

"Mmmhmm," Jon said around a large mouthful.

Draco choked back a laugh.

Sergei grabbed Draco's plate as he passed. Before he thought to protest, his eggs splattered into the bin. Sergei closed the lid with a grunt. "Shame you not hungry," he said, ducking into a nearby cabinet. Pans and bowls clattered as he pawed through them.

"Well, actually—" Draco began.

"Ah ha!" Sergei cried, holding up his prize. Draco caught the bowl when Sergei tossed it at him. "Go. Pick berries for Fawne's birthday cake."

Draco arched an eyebrow. "It's Fawne's birthday."

"I said so before, no?"

"Happy birthday!" Jon cried, bits of eggs flying from his mouth.

"Er…thank you," Fawne said with a watery smile. She hefted the bowl in her arms twirled the whisk through the batter. She refused to look Draco in the eye.

Draco stared at the metal bowl perched on his lap. His reflection, foggy and distorted, stared back. "Fine," he said. "I'll pick berries."

"Pick ripe, not squishy," Sergei instructed.

"I'm off to Niton," he heard Jon say as he left. "If I miss Harry somehow, you'll let him know I was here?"

"You can count on us," Cook said.



He scanned the garden for the berry bushes, irritated when he didn't find them in the vicinity of the vegetable patch. He turned in a circle, searching. The only part of the garden not visible was at the end of the flagstone path – near the labyrinth.

"Figures," he muttered.

He took a deep breath and followed the path away from the house.

It was difficult to walk now that he knew where it led, but he persevered with steady steps. As he rounded the last corner to the clearing, he closed his eyes, steeling himself for the inevitable.

When he opened them again, it was to the sight of Harry making the final turn on the labyrinth's path. As he stepped into the center, he spotted Draco.

For an eternity they stared at each other. Hyperaware, Draco's eyes registered details about the labyrinth he'd missed the last time he'd seen it. The path doubled back on itself three times, the same as the one at the Manor. But unlike the Manor, patches of flowers dotted the base of the hedge and dappled sunlight broke through the canopy of oaks, dispelling any deep shadows.

Examined with an objective eye, the labyrinth was as tranquil, serene and unthreatening as his father's had been dark, evil and menacing.

Unfortunately, Draco was far from objective.

Harry continued to stare. Draco searched his face, but his expression was blank, reflecting neither welcome nor rejection. Draco would have paid a small fortune – had he possessed one – to know how Harry felt about him at that moment. As it was, he had little to his name anymore.

Less to lose, he supposed.

He set the bowl on the lawn, took a fortifying breath, and entered the labyrinth. He didn't watch Harry as he walked. It took every shred of courage to put one foot in front of the other, and it was only by keeping his eyes on the grass that he was able to move forward.

He rounded the first curve with no problem, but the second brought him one rotation closer to the center. It was then that the reality of what he was doing struck, sucking the air from his lungs. Spots appeared in his peripheral vision and he stumbled to a stop. Sense memories welled up, carrying the sound of screams and the smell of smoke and blood. Overcome, he leaned over, hands on his knees.

"Draco," Harry said.

Harry's voice cut beacon-like through Draco's fugue. "Yeah," he rasped.

"It's too hard. Go back."

"There is no back," Draco whispered, head down. "Only forward."

He gathered his will and pushed the hated memories away. He stumbled ahead, around one curve, then another, and entered the innermost circle. At first, he thought his imagination was playing tricks, dousing the sunlight and throwing everything into deep shadow. But when his vision started to swim, he realized he had been holding his breath.

He staggered to a stop and gasped for air. Inexplicably, his lungs filled with phantom smoke. Panic clawed at him. Breathing went from difficult to impossible.

He wasn't going to make it.

"Draco. Look at me."

Harry's voice was close.

"I can't," Draco wheezed.

"Open your eyes. Look at me."

Magic infused the command. It was the only possible explanation for why Draco straightened. For why his arms, wrapped in a death grip around his stomach, relaxed. For why he opened his eyes and turned toward the sound of Harry's voice.

Harry was close. Less than two feet away. He extended his hand over the short hedge and gripped Draco's arm. "You're almost there," he said.

Draco's eyes darted to the path. It was true. He judged the center to be less than a dozen steps away. He wasn't sure if that fact comforted him or scared him beyond measure. Conflicted, he kept his feet planted in the grass.

Harry gave his arm a gentle pull. "Come on. Just a few feet to the center."

Draco managed a weak smile. "That's rather the problem."

"Afraid of what used to happen?"

"Afraid of what'll happen now," Draco admitted.

Harry's fingers squeezed his arm. "Don't be."

He pulled again, a gentle tug. Draco lifted his left foot and stepped forward. Then he did the same with his right. Ten steps later, he passed through a narrow gap in the hedge and joined Harry in the center.

"Fuck," he said, almost a prayer, and Harry drew him into his arms.





"You didn't have to do that."

Draco nodded, face against Harry's shoulder. "Yeah, I did."

He shivered. One of Harry's hands drifted to the nape of his neck, cupping it and tangling through the sweat-damp strands. "What are you trying to prove, anyway?"

"A whole host of things, I imagine," Draco replied. He lifted his head. "That you're worth it." He pressed their foreheads together. "That I'm sorry."

Harry blew out a breath. "I…overreacted."

"Probably not," Draco said.

"What now?"

"How about getting out of here?"

Draco sighed when the world faded out, then did it again when Harry's bedroom materialized around them. "Thanks," he said.

Harry backed Draco flush against the bedpost and pinned him there.

Draco's mouth went dry. "Um…Sergei said…pick berries…Fawne's birthday…you're supposed to be in Niton."

Harry glanced up from where he was working Draco's jeans open, bemused smile in place. "Sergei needs to mind his own business—"

He lowered Draco's zip.

"We don't have any berry bushes—"

He skimmed Draco's pants down over his hips.

"Fawne's birthday is in December—"

He sank to his knees and leant forward to brush his cheek against Draco's cock, smiling when Draco hissed and lurched forward. "And I haven't the slightest idea why you think I'd be in Niton today. But it doesn't matter." He lifted a hand to guide Draco's cock towards his mouth. "Because this is all I've been able to think about since last night."

Draco's head dropped back against the bedpost. He barely registered the pain, engrossed by how Harry's mouth fit over his erection and how he lapped cat-like at the tip. Harry circled his tongue around the head before sinking down and surrounding Draco with tight, wet heat.

"Ahhh…fuck." Draco grabbed at Harry's head. "Too fast," he panted.

Harry hummed a denial around Draco's prick.

"Stop that!" Draco demanded, fighting the urge yell the complete opposite.

Harry glanced up, eyes full of lust and mischief, and Draco felt a fingertip leave a teasing scratch along his perineum. His motivation to hold back dissolved. With a loud, cathartic yell, he climaxed, gasping and groaning through the rush of pleasure.

He sagged against Harry, limp. "I wasn't expecting that."

"I thought not."

Harry gently licked him clean, then stood and twisted the both of them in such a way that Draco found himself collapsing gracelessly onto the bed. He battled for coherency. "Listen, we should talk about Jon—"

"Nothing to talk about," Harry insisted. He crawled onto the mattress and hovered over Draco.

"There's quite a bit to talk about," Draco said, but splayed his legs wider when Harry coaxed him to. "I don't even know where to start, frankly."

Harry mumbled something noncommittal and reached for Draco's shirt, but Draco caught his hand at the hem. They stared at each other. "Do you want me to leave it on?" Draco asked, voice pitched low.

Harry shook his head. He pried Draco's fingers from the fabric and pulled it off in one smooth movement. Draco gulped as Harry ran his index finger over the faint outline of the Dark Mark.

"I'm no saint myself, you know," Harry said.

"I suspected."

"Sure you can deal with my past?" With me, was left unsaid.

Draco snorted. "I believe that's my question. But, yeah," he pulled Harry down for a deep kiss. "I can deal with yours, if you think you can deal with mine."

Harry mumbled an affirmative against Draco's lips. He stole another kiss before rising to his knees and unbuttoning his shirt. He graced Draco with a lopsided smile that Draco couldn't help but return.

"Let me help," Draco said. He unbuttoned from the bottom while Harry worked from the top. When the last button was freed, Draco pushed the shirt from Harry's shoulders and drew him down until they were pressed chest to chest. Harry melted into him, hands linked behind Draco's head, fingers buried in his hair, lips against his throat.

They stayed like that, seconds stretching into minutes, and all Harry did was taste him, first one side of Draco's neck, then the other, licking over his collarbone, nipping at the skin under his chin, and rolling his hips in wide, slow circles.

Draco sighed contentedly.

"I thought you liked it rough," Harry said. He gave an experimental tug on Draco's hair.

"Ahhh," Draco replied, half gasp, half groan. "I do, but—" he reached for his jeans, still open and riding low on his hips, and struggled to push them off. "Right now, I want—"

Harry laid his cheek against Draco's. "What?"

"I want you to fuck me," Draco breathed in Harry's ear, smiling when Harry groaned. "For as long as you can."

In answer, Harry lifted himself enough for Draco to kick off his jeans and pants. "Now you," Draco said. He slid his hands between them, cursing when his fingers kept slipping off the snap.

Harry slapped his hands away and sat back on his heels. Shedding the rest of his clothes took only seconds, though his movements were nearly as clumsy and uncoordinated as Draco's had been.

He trailed two fingers up the inside of Draco's thigh. "Can you come again?"

"I think…yes." A desperate laugh escaped Draco's mouth. "Can you do what I asked?"

"I think…yes."

Harry stretched out beside Draco, obliging him when he leant up for a kiss. "Over," he whispered into Draco's mouth as he guided him onto his side, his back to Harry's front.

Draco made a token protest. "I want to see you."

"You're going to feel me."

"Oh." Draco sighed as Harry wrapped his arms around him, one cradled under his head and over his chest, the other tight across his stomach. "Alright, then."

Harry nipped his earlobe. "Table. Do you see?"

"Um." Draco squinted at the bedside table a couple of feet away. But when Harry's hand drifted over his hip and teased through his pubic hair, his focus disintegrated. He shuddered in Harry's arms.

"Draco."

"Mmmm."

Humor laced Harry's voice. "The table. Hand me the vial."

"I'm. Trying," Ignoring Harry's soft laugh, he grabbed for the vial, missing the first time, knocking it over the second, and barely catching it before it rolled onto the floor. "Here." He shoved it into Harry's waiting hand.

"You're awfully impatient for someone who wanted it slow."

"I didn't say slow." Draco twisted around to kiss him. "I said for as long as you can."

Harry broke away. "Which will be about two minutes if you don't shut up and stop looking at me like that." He shoved Draco back onto his side and cupped his hand over Draco's arse, clamping onto the firm flesh when Draco groaned wantonly. He took a shuddering breath and pressed his forehead against Draco's back. "Fuck. It might be two minutes anyway."

"Please," Draco said. "Please." He bucked into Harry's hand.

Cool liquid drizzled over his skin, accompanied by Harry's curse as he hurried to catch the spilled oil. Draco wriggled against him. "Did you get any where you were supposed to?"

His only answer was a finger, slick and hot, pushing into him. Draco hissed and clenched around it.

Harry froze. When Draco groaned and tried to force the finger deeper, Harry withdrew it completely.

"No," Draco keened.

"Wait," Harry rasped. "Just…quiet. I can't…"

"Harry, please," Draco begged. At Harry's choked-off moan, Draco grabbed his hand and guided it to his cock, already hard and erect again. He tried to say what he wanted, but found he could barely utter a word. "Please," he forced through clenched teeth. "Please."

He felt Harry break, barely restrained control dissolving as though it never existed. The promise of a slow, gentle joining evaporated. With a growl, Harry pushed Draco onto his stomach and shoved his spread legs forward, forcing him onto his knees.

Draco hissed his approval when the finger returned, closely followed by a second and third. He had time enough to give one harsh bark of laughter at the hasty preparation before Harry took hold of his hips and pressed inside.

"Ah, fuck," Draco said into the pillow.

"I'm sorry," Harry said, equally breathless, "I can't — I'm sorry."

"It's okay," Draco told him in between gasps for air.

Harry folded over Draco's back, once more enveloping him in his arms. They stayed that way, unmoving, connected, panting, until Harry inhaled, pulled Draco even tighter against him, and began to move.

It lasted longer than two minutes, Draco decided. But probably not as long as five. Harry's slow, deep thrusts turned hurried and fast, and Draco was soon lost in the sound of slapping skin, Harry's weight bearing him into the mattress, and the sensation of a stiff cock stroking over his prostate.

Please, he wanted to say, but he hadn't the air in his lungs to beg. He twisted under the assault, struggling to free one of his hands, and finally Harry loosened his grip. But when Draco reached for himself, Harry stopped him.

"No," he said. Just one word. Just that and his hand, still slick with oil, sliding from its place around Draco's waist to wrap around his cock. Draco tore his head to the side and pulled as much air into his lungs as he could, before tucking his chin to his chest and thrusting into Harry's fist.

Harry faltered, his rhythm broken. Draco took advantage, pushing back onto Harry's cock, then forward into his hand, again and again, half a dozen times, and then he was coming. Coming perfectly with Harry. Crushed against Harry's chest, riding out the waves of an orgasm so strong, his heart stuttered to a brief stop before resuming its furious, endorphin-enhanced beat.

He'd almost walked away.

Slowly, reality crept back in. Draco's breathing calmed. He registered the scratch of slightly damp bed sheets. Heard Harry murmuring nonsense in his ear. But the truth of what he'd almost lost wouldn't leave him.

He'd almost walked away.

He whispered it soundlessly into the pillow. Then, when Harry pulled away and turned him over into his arms, he said it out loud, watching Harry's eyes as he did.

"But you didn't," Harry said. "Thankfully, one of us was thinking clearly." He shifted around until Draco's arms circled his neck in a loose embrace. "We'll make it work."

"It won't be easy."

"The first step is always the hardest," Harry said. He ran a fingertip down Draco's cheek. "And we're not walking alone anymore."

Fin.



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A very special thanks to Artisticentropy for the beautiful art that appears in this story.

Want more? Check out Sansa's Nursery for three drabbles she wrote for this universe

Your Mark, My Heart
Help Wanted
Knowing the Truth

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