Harry and Draco stood companionably, looking out at the expanse of sea and the land mass in the distance. The rest of the world, their lives - well, Harry's at least - were over there, beyond the sea, not here on this island. Harry knew that, but couldn't bring himself to broach the topic. The tension between them had lessened since the night before and they'd had a wonderful afternoon. Harry was loath to ruin it now.
Another thought had haunted Harry during the night, and it haunted him again now. He would have to leave soon and return to the Aurors, his friends, the Weasleys. And Draco had ... well, he had his life here now. No matter what Draco's reaction, Harry knew he was happy here and he might not want to leave. Harry also knew that he couldn't stay.
But before he left, he had a promise to keep.
He glanced at Draco, the breeze blowing his hair around his face, his cheeks pink from the chill, his features relaxed. Harry wondered how long that would last after he told Draco everything. For a moment, Harry considered not keeping his word.
After all, how could Harry take this life, this peace away from Draco? How could he expect this Draco to go back to the world he'd left behind? A life where he would face contempt and pain. A life of loss, in which he had no family remaining. Harry didn't even know if Parkinson or Zabini still considered Draco their friend, and they were the only two of Draco's old classmates that weren't dead, in jail, or in another country. But he'd promised Draco an explanation. He owed the man that much. Even if it meant he'd never speak to Harry again.
Draco turned and caught Harry looking. "You're staring," he said. His twinkling eyes belied his reproachful tone. "Again."
Harry smiled and reached for Draco's hand. Behind them tires screeched. A car came hurtling towards them. Too close. Harry knew they had no chance.
He grabbed Draco's coat and leapt from the cliff, pulling Draco over the edge. Apparating them mid-fall, he caught the look of utter bewilderment on Draco's face.
They landed with a thud in Harry's room at the hotel. Draco moaned and ran his hand through his hair. He clenched his eyes shut and rubbed the spot on the back of his head that had hit the floor. When he opened his eyes, they widened in shock.
"What the --?" He scampered away from Harry until his back hit the end of the bed. Like a caged animal, his eyes shot frantically around the room. "How? What?" He shut his eyes again and shook his head, hands on either side as if to hold in the thoughts bouncing around. "This isn't happening," he mumbled.
"It's okay," Harry said.
"That car was coming straight for us, and you pulled me over the cliff with you." He examined his arms, then patted his legs to be sure they were still there. "We should be dead." He looked up at Harry. "Are we dead?"
"No," Harry assured him. When he moved closer, Draco raised a hand to stop him. His eyes narrowed and he looked straight through Harry.
"And you called me Draco," he accused. "Who the hell is Draco?"
Three weeks earlier ...
"Potter, Weasley!" Kingsley's voice reverberated off the walls of the Auror office, remaining long after his form disappeared down the hall. Harry and Ron dropped everything and made their way towards their boss's office.
"What d'you think is up?" Ron asked.
"Dunno. He hasn't done a drive-by call out in months. Must be something important."
Kingsley's assistant waved them in and shut the door behind them. Harry and Ron traded a meaningful look. Either they were in trouble - not completely out of the question, though Harry couldn't think of anything they'd done recently to land them in that predicament - or this was a sensitive matter.
Kingsley wasted no time. "We've had a sighting."
"Death Eater?" Ron asked. Even four years post-war there lingered a few open cases.
"Not exactly," Kingsley said. "Well, not proven anyway."
Harry frowned. It couldn't be ...
"Draco Malfoy, or someone looking an awful lot like him, was seen in a pub in Portree."
"On Skye?" Harry asked.
"The very same."
"Surely he's gone by now," Ron offered.
"Apparently not." Kingsley opened a file and pulled out a grainy picture. It didn't move.
"A Muggle spotted him?" Harry asked.
Kingsley eyed the photograph. "No, no. One of our staff from Accounting happened to be on holiday and noticed this picture among several in an old edition of the local newspaper. Apparently Malfoy had been photographed months ago."
"So how do we know it's him?" Ron asked. Harry looked back at the picture and doubted that anyone else looked quite like Draco Malfoy. "And who's to say he hasn't left. It's been months, you say?"
"It's him," Harry said.
Kingsley nodded. "Quite." He passed a piece of parchment to Ron. "Sampson remains in Portree, and assures us that Malfoy is still there. He's living under the name Thomas Peterson."
"And you want us to relieve Sampson?"
"Just you, Harry. You can go in undercover, and Ron can support you from here. We can't afford to send both of you now, with the mountains of paperwork on your desks." Ron groaned. "But we do have to monitor the situation. Malfoy is not officially wanted, but I would like to get him in for questioning about the latest two cases that Fletchley is working on."
"They're suspected Death Eaters?"
"We think so. Either way, they're known to have associated with Lucius Malfoy, so they might have been to Malfoy Manor at some point. Draco may have been at school for much of the war, but he still could have seen things when he was home."
Harry frowned. "Didn't the Ministry already interview Draco at the end of the war?"
"Yes, but these names hadn't come up."
"So you don't know if he knows anything at all?"
"That's why we want to talk to him."
There must be more to it if they're sending Harry in undercover. "Why me?" he asked. "Couldn't you send anyone to collect him and bring him in for questioning?"
"You know him better than most."
Ron sniggered. "Yeah, mate. You can stalk him all over again, like you did in school."
Harry glared at Ron. He didn't want to follow Draco all over again. He'd left that behind after the war.
Then something clicked. A distant conversation held in the corridor following Draco's trial. You testified for him. He's your responsibility now. Harry caught Kingsley's eye and understood that he too was back in that corridor. He knew Kingsley wouldn't repeat the words, didn't have to. Malfoy was Harry's job. Always would be.
Kingsley started shuffling some papers around his desk. "Since we technically don't have any reason to suspect Draco," he began, not looking Harry in the eye, "he isn't obligated to come in."
Ah. "And you think he'll run or hire counsel if he gets wind of this."
Kingsley looked up, evidently surprised that Harry managed to put things together. He nodded. "See if you can get anything out of him we can use, even if it doesn't directly relate."
"I understand," Harry said. In other words, try to get Draco to unwittingly incriminate himself and give the Ministry reason to hold him.
Harry left Kingsley's office more than a little disillusioned at the man's tactics. There was no love lost between Malfoy and Harry, but Kingsley's request didn't sit well. No doubt, it would sit just fine with any number of other Aurors, including Ron who didn't seem bothered at all. So ironically, Harry was probably the best shot Malfoy had at being treated fairly.
Not that he'd ever see it that way.
The next day Harry checked into his hotel in Portree. He settled himself in the room, tested out the temporary Floo connection they'd set up ahead of time, then checked his glamours in the mirror before heading out. Even after years of stealth training and assignments, he couldn't help but be wary of a reflection that looked so little like himself. He altered his height and stature only slightly - they were the hardest to maintain when distracted, and clothing could help mask a person's size readily enough. He'd played with various hair colours in the past, but he always returned to a medium brown. His skin, darkened to a golden bronze, gave the appearance of someone who'd recently been away somewhere warm, which worked well with his cover. And his now blue eyes were close enough to his natural green that, should the glamour waver slightly, it would most likely go unnoticed.
Harry made his way to the downstairs bar - one in which Malfoy had been spotted. He and Sampson met for lunch, and Harry planned to take most dinners there, in the hopes Malfoy might frequent the place. Looking around at the cosy setting, it reminded Harry of the warmth of the Burrow. A little too crowded, a little too noisy, and altogether too lowbrow for the haughty Malfoy, the bar was just the place for Harry.
He smiled as the barmaid blew past him, rushing off somewhere. "Take a seat wherever you wish, dear. Menus on the table, beer up at the bar. I'll send someone over in a tick."
Harry didn't get a chance to let her know he was meeting someone before she was gone. Ah, well. No doubt Harry would recognise Sampson from the photograph Kingsley gave him.
He needn't have worried, since a rotund and rumpled blond walked in while Harry was at the bar. Harry approached the newcomer. "Sampson?"
The man nearly jumped out of his shoes. He levelled a bewildered look at Harry. "I'm sorry," he said nervously. "Do I know you?"
Harry leaned in and whispered, "Harry Potter."
"Oh!" The man's watery eyes widened then shot to Harry's forehead, no doubt trying to see his scar through the wisps of hair. Then he looked Harry over again.
"Glamours," Harry explained. "Mr Malfoy and I have a history, and it's no secret that I'm an Auror. It wouldn't do to have him up and leave before I've even had a chance to speak with him."
"Oh, of course," Sampson said, recovering himself. "It's just ... wow. You're really good at that. I'd never have recognised you." He scrutinised Harry some more. "Even now that I know."
Harry shrugged. "Hogwarts trained me well," he said. "And the Aurors trained me further."
Sampson continued to stare, so Harry turned away. "Can I interest you?" Harry lifted his pint, and after Sampson agreed, Harry bought him one as well, then motioned him towards a table.
"Thanks for meeting with me," Harry said, taking his seat. "Especially since I know you were on holiday when you first saw Mr Malfoy."
Sampson grinned. "No bother. It's not every day a quill-pusher like myself gets a chance to do reconnaissance for the Aurors." He seemed rather tickled by the task.
Harry smiled in encouragement. "What prompted you to contact the Ministry?"
Sampson took a long pull from his pint and sighed happily. "I'd seen a few articles in the Prophet," he explained.
Harry cringed internally, wondering which articles Sampson meant. "You do know Mr Malfoy isn't actually wanted by the Aurors." Harry didn't want to mislead him.
He nodded. "I do now. But truth be told, the paper made it sound like he was a fugitive. And I couldn't believe I'd just bumped into him here. I mean, if he really wanted to get away from the authorities, you'd think he'd pick somewhere outside the UK."
Harry had thought the same thing. "You haven't approached him, have you?"
Sampson shook his head. "Just kept an eye on him whenever I saw him, but didn't follow him in any obvious way." Kingsley had been clear on that; he was to casually observe only. "Hasn't done anything out of the ordinary in town. Goes into shops here and there, chats up a few of the locals, and spends a good deal of time walking about." He leaned in to whisper, "And I haven't seen him do magic either." Harry let that settle. Draco Malfoy living as a Muggle. Who'd have thought?
"Kingsley tells me you saw him in here."
"This very bar." Sampson gazed into the distance, as though he saw Malfoy again. "Hard to miss that pale hair."
Harry agreed. In all the years he'd known Malfoy, he'd always been easy to pick out of a crowd. Harry recalled his mealtime ritual at school: entering the Great Hall, getting his bearings by locating Malfoy at the Slytherin table, then proceeding to the Gryffindor side of the room to eat with his friends. Not only hadn't Malfoy left Britain, but he hadn't concealed such a distinguishing feature. Strange if someone wanted to hide himself away. Well, all the easier to find him.
Harry reached for a menu. "I'm famished. Shall we eat?"
They spent the next two hours reviewing the comings and goings of Malfoy, discussing what was what about town, and eating possibly the best steak and ale pie Harry had ever had.
"And that's about it," Sampson said. "Sorry I didn't get much, but Head Auror Shacklebolt told me explicitly not to get too close." It wasn't much to go on, but Harry supposed it was better to have a little information and Malfoy still around, than to have had an untrained Ministry employee tip him off.
"That's great, Sampson. Really." The man looked unsure. "Remember, if it weren't for you, we wouldn't even know he was here."
Harry spent the next few days wandering about town and poking around in the shops Malfoy had visited. He spent his evenings enjoying the delicious meals and pleasant company in the hotel's bar. He scribbled notes to enable him to prolong his time at the table, without having to order a ridiculous amount of food or beer.
"What are you writing, love?" Madge asked. She reminded Harry of Molly Weasley, only she had brown hair and a Scottish accent. An efficient and friendly barmaid, she'd taken a shining to Harry on his first night, and he'd sat in the same area since so he could chat to her. This was the first time she'd asked about his work.
"I'm a travel writer," Harry lied. He pointed to the stack of pamphlets he'd brought with him. "I'm trying to figure out where to go first."
"You mean you haven't stepped out of here yet?"
"Not really," he said. "I've just puttered about town so far. I needed time to relax first. Get my bearings."
"How long are you here, then?"
"A few weeks," he said. "Maybe a month."
She laughed. "Not that much to see, I'm afraid."
He motioned to the papers on the table. "These tell a different story."
"Tourists," she mumbled. She rifled through the papers then rolled her eyes. "You can probably see all that in a week."
He frowned. The few people he'd spoken to about Skye over the years had insisted a week was the least amount of time one should dedicate to visiting the island. Luna in particular had said she'd have loved to spend a couple of months here.
"Unless you're one of them new-age people that fancies himself at one with nature and earth magic and all that rot."
Harry cleared his throat, keeping his expression blank. "No, no. I just need to capture all perspectives when I write, so there's a bit of something for everyone in my articles." He winked conspiratorially. "Even the new-age people."
She snorted. "That makes sense, I suppose." She looked visibly relieved that Harry wasn't about to start burning incense and chanting on the spot.
On the fourth night, Harry lucked out. He'd taken up his usual spot, spread the papers over the table, and settled in with a pint. A half hour later, a casual but well dressed Malfoy entered.
He looked good. Too good, in fact. His hair remained its signature blond, but a little longer than he'd worn it in school, wisps falling over his eyebrows. His skin was pale as ever but lacking the grey pallor it had acquired during the war. Overall, he looked healthier, for lack of a better word. His shoulders had broadened slightly and he no longer looked like he hadn't eaten for some time. And when had all those angles filled out? Harry remembered him being pointy, but now he looked more chiselled. It suited him. As did his relaxed demeanour.
Harry didn't think he'd ever seen Malfoy at ease. Even at school with his friends, he always seemed to be on. Being in Slytherin, he probably had to be on guard, sure to never show weakness. How exhausting. Between that and living with Lucius as a father - Harry recalled the terrifying command the man had over his son during the few interactions they'd had - Draco would have been hard pressed to relax around anyone, except maybe Narcissa. That realisation struck Harry as very sad. He knew what it was like to have to pretend to be someone you're not, but at least he got relief around his friends.
He shook off the odd feeling of having something in common with Malfoy, then polished off the rest of his pint. With determination, he crossed to the bar, edging in next to Malfoy. "Another pint, Reg, if you please."
The barman nodded and collected Harry's empty glass, placing it in the sink and pulling out a fresh one.
"Excuse me," Malfoy said, tilting his head as though to get a better look at Harry. "Do I know you?"
Harry's heart sped up. Could Malfoy see through his disguise? He thought not; he'd been honing his skills for years. They'd come in handy for not only his undercover work, but for avoiding - much to Seamus's amusement - the inevitable attention the Saviour received when out in public. "Why do you ask?"
"You were staring at me."
Malfoy's gaze scanned Harry, head to foot. "It's rather unnerving."
"Sorry." He squinted at Malfoy. "What did you say your name was?"
Malfoy regarded him shrewdly and Harry noticed that his eyes were nearly the shade of the charcoal jacket he wore. "I didn't."
"No, of course not," Harry said. What was wrong with him? Seeing Malfoy in such unfamiliar surroundings, relaxed and seemingly happy, not to mention looking so good, had really thrown him. "I --"
Malfoy smirked. "It's Thomas." His slightly crooked smile seemed so genuine, Harry nearly burst out laughing at the absurdity of the situation.
"No, Thomas, I don't believe we've met before." Harry reached out his hand in greeting. "I'm James."
Malfoy considered his hand, and Harry was reminded of the reverse circumstance so many years ago. He wondered if Malfoy planned to refuse, but before he had a chance to withdraw the offer, Draco's hand grasped his own and they shook.
Harry smiled, relieved that he hadn't figured out who Harry was. Or so he hoped. Malfoy returned the gesture. "You here for business or pleasure?"
"Bit of both, I hope." At least that wasn't a lie. He'd heard so much about the island that he couldn't imagine wasting the trip.
"Will you be staying long?" he asked.
"A few weeks for now. Maybe longer."
Malfoy nodded. "Well, if you like misty mountains, you'll enjoy your time here."
Harry chuckled. "So it would seem." The clouds had hung heavily over the tops of the mountains since he'd arrived, and gave off a mystical feeling. Harry made a mental note not to mention that little observation to Madge. "Do the clouds ever lift?"
"Occasionally," Malfoy said. "But you have to catch those opportunities quickly, or you might miss them."
"I'll keep that in mind."
The barman brought Harry his pint. "Thanks, Reg."
Harry lifted his glass in salute to Malfoy. He wanted to continue their conversation, but didn't want to be too forward, especially since Malfoy had already caught him staring. "Have a nice evening."
He felt Malfoy's gaze on him as he manoeuvred his way to his usual table. He sat facing the bar - he'd chosen his spot well - and picked up the menu. He'd memorised the thing by now, but wanted to have something to give him an excuse to stay facing in that direction.
He watched as Malfoy talked to the barman, and if Reg's occasional glances in Harry's direction were anything to go by, he had a good idea what - or rather who - they were discussing.
When Harry finished his meal and walked up to the bar for a final pint, Malfoy was still there. As Harry approached, Malfoy took his last swig. Harry watched, mesmerised by the bobbing of his Adam's apple as he swallowed the last drop of liquid before placing the glass on the counter.
"Well, that's me," Malfoy said to Reg. "Time to call it a night."
Harry chuckled. "Clearly this isn't London."
Reg snorted and muttered something indistinguishable.
"Thank goodness," Malfoy said.
Harry motioned for another pint and turned to Malfoy. "Oh? Not a fan of London?"
Malfoy scowled, then seemed lost in thought for a moment before responding. "I don't like crowds."
Reg handed Harry a glass and Harry tilted it in Malfoy's direction. "Well London certainly has more than its fair share of those, that's for sure."
Malfoy gave a distant smile before standing up. "It's been a pleasure," he said to Reg, then turned his attention to Harry. "Enjoy your stay here, James. I'm sure you'll discover that what the island lacks in culture and crowds it more than makes up for in beauty."
As Harry caught the reflection of the fire in the grey of Malfoy's eyes, he thought he might just agree. Unwilling to ponder that revelation further, but reluctant to see Malfoy leave, he asked, "Any tips on what I should see first?"
Malfoy considered Harry for a moment - perhaps determining whether he was up to something nefarious - then returned to his seat. "What did you have in mind?"
Reg chimed in. "James here is a travel writer. Says he likes to see the tourist attractions, then mix 'em up with some of the local gems, I believe were his word."
"Exactly." Harry nodded towards Reg. "I like to get different points of view, a little something for everyone. And I thought you might give me an Englishman's perspective." Harry grinned. "So what do you like about the place?"
"I like it all," he said without hesitation, his eyes animated. "The island has its own personality, if you know what I mean."
Harry sipped his beer. "Not really, no."
"I suppose I got the feeling that the place welcomed me," he said, struggling to come up with the right words to describe his experience. "The people are friendly and the food and drink are wonderful, but it's more than that. The place itself has a feel, especially certain spots. There's something here that pulses with energy. But it's a calming, welcoming sort of energy."
Reg laughed. "You sound like those hippie types." He walked away muttering energy under his breath.
"Silly, really." Draco hung his head, looking rather put out.
"I don't think it sounds silly at all." Draco looked up. "In fact," Harry confided, "don't tell Madge this, but I've been to a number of places where I've felt the earth's energy." He shuddered as he recalled one such place he'd attended on a particularly nasty case. "Sometimes it's not so pleasant. I'd love to go somewhere that felt welcoming."
Draco bit his lower lip and appraised Harry, as though convincing himself Harry wasn't having him on. He looked incredibly young all of a sudden. Young and reserved. "I could show you, if you'd like. I have a few favourite spots that have some good stories to go along with them."
Harry grinned. "I'd like that very much," he said. And he was surprised to find that he meant it.
The next day, Draco arrived promptly at nine in the morning, as they'd agreed, and they set off. Harry didn't react when he took in the incongruous sight of Draco Malfoy behind the wheel of a Muggle car, though he did keep his wand handy, in case they got into a crash. He needn't have worried, as Draco's skills behind the wheel were more than adequate for the task.
"You brought the sun with you today," Harry noted, pleased to see the mist had finally lifted.
Malfoy pointed into the distance where grey clouds hovered over the mountain tops. "Not for long, I'm afraid." He picked up a map and handed it to Harry. "Fortunately, we're heading in the other direction and our destination is nearby, so we should be able to make it to Faerie Glen while the sun remains."
Not for the first time, Harry wondered who this person really was. Besides his physical appearance and unmistakable voice, he didn't remotely resemble the boy Harry had known at Hogwarts. He smiled at people, was friendly and relaxed. The Malfoy he knew from school walked rigidly or swaggered, according to the circumstances, and when they weren't glaring daggers at Harry, his eyes darted around to take in everything. Forever on guard, maybe. Or soaking up information. His laid back attitude unnerved Harry. It was like he'd taken on a whole new personality. But why, if no one here knew him from before?
A half hour later, they pulled off the road into a remote clearing and Malfoy got out, pulling a rucksack from the back and hoisting it on. "I've got water for the both of us," he said, "in case we decide to stay a while."
Despite his misgivings, Harry found he liked Thomas. This new and improved Malfoy.
"Thanks." Harry pulled on his own rucksack, packed with notebooks, pens, a digital camera, and the various pamphlets he'd spread on the table each evening. He'd tossed in a single bottle of water and a few cereal bars he'd picked up at the local supermarket when he'd been poking about town.
He felt it immediately - the faint thrum of magic in the air. If Malfoy noticed, he didn't remark on it; instead, he marched ahead to the path.
They walked in companionable silence along one path, then another, Harry doing his best, but failing, to focus strictly on the beauty of the surroundings and not the curve of Malfoy's arse in his well-fitting jeans. How had he not noticed Malfoy's arse before? Quite apart from Malfoy's acerbic personality, Harry was sure he could have appreciated that on at least one occasion over the years. He allowed himself another glance, noting the way the denim hugged Malfoy's backside in all the right ways.
Ah, yes. Robes. That explains it. Even though many of the students dressed in Muggle clothing when classes let out, Malfoy hadn't been one of them. The only occasions Harry had seen him dressed otherwise, he was in Quidditch gear, and Harry's mind had been focussed more on knocking Malfoy's arse off the broom than appreciating its appearance atop it. More's the pity.
"Well," Malfoy said, coming to an abrupt stop, nearly causing Harry to walk right into him. He caught himself just in time and willed his thoughts to return from the direction in which they'd wandered. Malfoy swept his arm in a grand gesture, indicating the beauty that surrounded them. "What do you think?"
Harry closed his eyes for a moment and breathed in deeply. The scent of nature - a heady mix of grass, trees and flowers, mingled with the richness of the soil, crispness of the air, and ever-present moisture - flowed in and through him, and Harry could almost taste it. The magic resonated through his every pore. He felt it as an energy, neither definable nor tangible, but there. His own magic coursed through his veins, more perceptible than usual, and he felt very much alive.
He opened his eyes and allowed himself to absorb the majesty spread out before them. He smiled and turned to Malfoy. "I love it."
Malfoy's smile stunned Harry, causing his breath to catch. On second thought, it was more than his smile. He almost had a glow about him. Not something Harry saw, but felt. It must be Malfoy's magic, attuned to the raw power of the earth, and projected outwardly in cascades of soft energy. "It's faerie magic," Draco whispered, like children might when telling tales. "Or so the stories go." His smile faltered. "Never mind."
"No, really. I'm interested." Harry was. As a child, he was never allowed to speak of magic, not even that from fairy tales. He imagined he would always love to hear stories that had been passed down through generations. Being Muggle-raised, he often found the Muggle folklore to be even more interesting than the factual versions of the same events told by wizards. Particularly when the wizards telling the stories were as interesting as Binns.
"Well, the stories of the island speak of magical creatures, witches, magicians, and earth magic. The whole island was thought to be magical, and some people still believe that to be the case. But there are certain places that have special stories associated with them, places where the magic is supposedly stronger."
Harry nodded. "And this is one of them?"
Malfoy nodded and looked to the ground, biting his lip, obviously torn between saying what Harry knew to be the truth, and hiding what he probably thought was a sign of insanity. When he looked up again, apprehension in his eyes, Harry gave him an encouraging smile.
"I don't know how true the stories are - I've heard quite a few since I've been here, and some of them admittedly sound rather far-fetched - but there's something about this place, something that feels ... different."
Harry nodded. "There's an energy here, something that is alive and powerful."
"You feel it too?"
"Mm hmm. And it's a good feeling."
Malfoy grinned and sat down on the ground, looking out over the vastness of the land. "It's a wonderful feeling." He patted the ground next to him, and Harry sat too.
"So what's the story of the Faerie Glen?" Harry asked.
Malfoy shrugged. "No specific story as such, except it's the faeries' meeting place." They sat enjoying the sounds of nature and the quiet thrum of the magic. After a time, Draco pointed into the distance. "See that castle?" Harry followed his gaze to the end of a winding path and nodded. Atop one of several mounds, not quite substantial enough to call hills, a stone formation jutted out of the ground, grass growing haphazardly around the structure. "That's Castle Ewan, only it's not man-made."
Harry squinted to focus on the castle. "It's faerie-made?"
"So I'm told. Shall we?"
Harry grinned. "Absolutely."
"How do you know so much about this stuff?" Harry asked over dinner.
Draco shrugged. "I went on a number of tours when I first arrived here."
"When was that?"
Draco frowned, as if trying to recall. "Earlier this year," he said. He pushed his pie around his plate before reverting to their prior topic. "You know, much of the history of this place was handed down verbally. No written records."
"Really?" In the current digital age, Harry found that curious.
Draco nodded and his eyes danced again, like they had that afternoon. "It's Gaelic tradition, and you don't get much more Gaelic than Skye."
Harry nodded. Skye housed the only college in the world where Gaelic was not only taught, but was the primary language. "So I hear."
"Anyway, as you can imagine, that doesn't make for the most accurate records." He popped a piece of steak and ale pie in his mouth and washed it down with some water. "So I tried looking up some facts. You know, search using some of the key points of the stories." He shrugged. "Not a whole lot of anything to be found."
"That must have been frustrating," Harry said.
Draco grinned and shook his head. "Not really. I think it's part of the mystery of the place."
Harry pondered that, then nodded. "Is that what drew you here?"
The sparkle in his eyes faded slightly and he began pushing his food around again. He shrugged. "I suppose it's what keeps me here."
"Are you planning to stay?" Harry asked.
"I have no plans to leave."
"Fair enough." Harry scooped up his rucksack and took out some brochures. "So, what do you recommend next, oh wise tour guide?"
Draco relaxed once more and shuffled through the pages, sorting them into piles. There seemed to be no logical order that Harry could discern, but Draco seemed satisfied when he was done, leaving no brochure out.
He placed one pile in front of Harry. "These are places recognised as centres of magic." He placed a second pile beside the first. "These are places said to have known magic, but weren't necessarily hubs of it." He placed the remaining papers alongside the others. "These are beautiful places to see."
Harry frowned as he leafed through the first pile. "I didn't know all of these places were magical."
Draco smirked. "I told you the stories were passed down verbally."
"So which of the magical places should I see next?"
Draco chuckled. "What happened to the man who likes to see a mix of different things?" he asked. "All things for all people?"
"I've got a few weeks," Harry said. "Plenty of time to fit in the standard fare later on. According to Madge, I could see all of this in one week."
"Madge clearly doesn't appreciate what she's got here," Draco said. "You could probably see it all quickly, but I get the sense that you'd want to take in all that each place has to offer. Soak it up, as it were."
Harry nodded enthusiastically. "If the rest of the places are anything like what we saw today, I could see myself being here for quite a while."
He might have imagined it, but Draco looked pleased with the idea. And if Harry were being honest with himself, he'd admit it had very little to do with his current assignment, and more than just the magic, that had him feeling pleased with the idea himself. It was odd that, away from their world, Harry and Draco could connect in this one. Well, Thomas and James could connect. Harry and Draco still hated each other.
Over pudding, Draco said, "You know, I don't happen to be busy over the next few days." His voice wavered slightly. "If, you know, you'd like some company."
Harry's eyes widened. Was Draco asking him out? And, more to the point, was he actually considering it? Today was one thing, but ... Harry felt drawn to Draco. No, that wasn't right. He felt drawn to Thomas, and that presented a slippery slope Harry suspected would be far too easy to slide down. Draco Malfoy - snarky, entitled, prejudiced - he could handle. This man? Harry was in very real danger of falling for someone like him.
"Never mind," Draco said, disappointment clear on his features, though he tried to mask it. "You have work to do, and I'd just get in the way."
"No!" Harry said, before he could stop himself. Damn it. What the hell was he doing? His job, he reminded himself. Right. He had a job to do. Even if it left a sour taste in his mouth. "You were a lot of help today," he said. Did that come out sounding as lame as it did in his head? "I mean, I'd really appreciate that."
Draco smiled hesitantly, then grabbed the first bundle of pamphlets back.
"But I'm going to pay you," Harry added. Then amended, "As a tour guide."
Draco frowned. "I'm no tour guide. I'll just take you to the places I'd end up going to see anyway."
"I'll not take no for an answer," Harry said. Maybe if he paid Draco to take him round the island, it would feel less like friends spending the day together. Friends. What an odd thought.
Draco narrowed his eyes and seemed to consider. "Fine," he agreed. "You buy dinner each night and we'll call it even."
That's not what Harry meant when he'd suggested payment. One look at Draco, however, and he knew it would be pointless to argue. "Deal," he said, wondering how he'd ended up with plans to spend not only the next few days but the evenings with a man he found himself inexplicably attracted to. And how on earth was he going to keep that in check?
Ron Flooed for an update that night. Harry gave him the particulars, starting from the events of the day, leading to Malfoy's non-answers, and ending with their plans for the next few days.
"That's brilliant!" Ron said, choking on his laughter. "You're seeing Malfoy!"
Harry scowled. "It's not funny, Ron. I didn't even know he was gay."
"You're pulling my leg," he said. "How could you not know?"
"I don't know." Harry tossed his t-shirt onto the floor, scooped a clean one from his suitcase, and pulled in on. "I didn't know I was gay until a year ago."
Still chuckling, Ron shook his head. "Yeah, well, you've never been very perceptive in matters of the heart, have you?"
Harry gaped at his friend. "That's rich, coming from you."
Ron snorted. "Point. But at least I knew which team I played for."
Ron's face turned serious. "So where's Malfoy taking you?" he asked in a sultry voice. The grin returned and he waggled his eyebrows for emphasis.
"Right. That's it. Tell Kingsley I'll be in touch in a couple of days. Meanwhile, I'll see if I can find out anything else."
The few days turned into a couple of weeks, since each site required a full day to truly appreciate. And enjoy each other's company. That last fact continued to take Harry by surprise. Perhaps it was a result of the magic, or maybe the absence of their history, divisions, prejudices and war weighing them down, but they got along famously. Harry found himself wishing this had been the person he'd met all those years ago in Madame Malkin's. How might their lives have been different.
They followed up the first trip with a drive to the Faerie Pools, which felt much like the Faerie Glen. Next on their agenda was the Old Man of Storr, followed by the healing well at Lake Shianta, both of which had a noticeable magical energy, but not as vibrant as the Faerie Glen.
When Harry asked what Thomas did or where he was from, Draco always answered vaguely. He did this and that, but was taking a year off. He was from here and there in England. Whenever Harry managed to slip in a question or two about the past, Draco said he wanted to look forward, not back.
After a day off, they visited Cuillin, a special request of Harry's. He'd read about the rocky mountain range in his brochures. They'd been named after Cúchulainn, reportedly a student of the vampire warrior Scáthach, who'd had a training facility on Skye. The magic in this area hung heavily in the air, but lacked the welcoming feel of the previous three places.
It struck Harry as odd that Draco didn't seem to be hiding anything. Sure, he evaded questions, but he gave no sign that they were troublesome. He didn't tense up, look suspicious, or stammer over an explanation. He just looked ... lost. He seemed to be exactly who he claimed: a young man taking a year off from life, and enjoying it. And after all Draco had been through, Harry thought he deserved that much, even if he had to pretend to be someone else to accomplish it.
The more time Harry spent with Draco, the more he began to wonder if this wasn't exactly who Draco was, beneath all the Slytherin and Malfoy camouflage. Could it be that Harry had missed the opportunity of a friendship when he'd chosen Ron over Draco all those years back? Not that he'd trade his friendship with Ron for anything. And not that it mattered now anyway, because Harry was an Auror and Kingsley wanted Draco to come in for questioning and Harry had been lying to Draco for weeks. They could never be friends. Or anything else. How could they be?
They took a day off here and there to go about their own business - Harry supposedly to write up about the attractions, but really to check in with work, and Draco to do whatever it was he did. Harry didn't like those days, partly because it gave him time to dwell on his deception, and partly, he had to admit, because he enjoyed his time with Draco. Thomas. Definitely Thomas. He'd have thought Kingsley would have called him back by now, but for some reason, his boss was convinced that Harry could somehow get Draco to talk. But how could that happen when the man never even hinted at his previous life?
They also travelled to a couple of locations where one might describe the magic as foreboding, though not necessarily evil. According to legend, a headless ghost named Colann gun Chean called Trotternish his home, and would kill trespassers by throwing his head at them. Creepy. And a kelpie, a shape-shifting water horse, presumably lived in Loch Coruisk, and had been the cause of numerous seamen's deaths.
"The energy here makes me feel uncomfortable," Draco said as they'd left Trotternish.
Harry agreed. "You seem fascinated by the folklore of the island," he observed as they sat having a picnic lunch, before heading out for a trip to Dunvegan Castle to see the legendary Faerie Flag.
Harry nudged him. "It's my job to be interested." Actually, my real job is spying on you right now. Impressive, isn't it? Harry bit his tongue.
Draco pondered that for a moment. "I don't know," he said sceptically. "You haven't taken many notes, and only a handful of photos."
Shit. "I make notes when I get back each night." At least that was true.
Draco raised an eyebrow and Harry found the words flowing out of him. "Truth be told, I tend to lose myself in the moment and don't want to break that connection by scribbling down my observations." He omitted the fact that he'd been distracted by Draco. More specifically by his growing attraction to the man he knew as Thomas.
Draco rested a hand on Harry's and Harry didn't pull away. "I know the feeling."
"Besides," Harry added, trying not to stare into Draco's grey eyes, for fear they might draw him in further, "you're a wealth of information. I can just ask you to help me fill in the blanks."
"This is true," he agreed with a grin.
Harry pushed back his feelings and focussed once again on his task. "So tell me, have you always been fascinated by stories of magic?"
Draco pulled away and wrung his hands together in a protective motion, as though erecting a barrier between him and the world. Every muscle tensed.
"Hey," Harry said. "What's wrong?" A stupid question, really, since he knew the horrors that lay in Draco's past. Still, it seemed an odd reaction to a simple question.
"I don't know."
"Sorry. Listen, we don't have to talk about it."
"No," he interrupted. "I mean I don't know. I can't remember."
Draco drew his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around his legs. His breathing picked up slightly.
"I haven't told anyone this," he said. "And I can't believe I'm about to tell you. I only met you a short time ago. But I feel like I can trust you."
Harry winced. "It's okay," he said, barely resisting the urge to take Draco's hands in his own or put a comforting hand on his back. Only his guilt kept him in check.
"I can't remember anything before coming to this island." What? "In fact, I don't even remember getting here."
"How?" Harry tried to reconcile this. If that were true, it shed a new light on everything. It all seemed to make sense. Draco knowing but not knowing about magic. Could it be that his seemingly feigned innocence about it all wasn't an act? His evasive answers to questions and that lost look whenever Harry asked something about his past. Merlin, he didn't know anything.
"I don't know. I just woke up one morning, and I remember having a bit of a panic attack because I didn't know where I was. Then I couldn't recall who I was. There was nothing there. In my head, I mean. I found a journal, some identification and some Barclays' bank statements. I've read the journal through, but there's little in the way of information."
"What about personal items?"
Draco shook his head. "Lots of clothes, but not a single photograph, letter, or anything that dates back before this year."
"That's terrible." Who had done this to Draco?
Draco rested his head on his knees. "I have no idea what happened. I just know that every time I think about leaving the island to find out, my heart races and I feel ill. I figure my mind must have it all locked up and it's telling me to stay put."
That would certainly make sense, given his past. But Harry couldn't believe anyone would want to live like that. "Don't you want to know?"
"Of course I do." He turned towards Harry, his head still resting on his knees. He looked so vulnerable like that. "I just need to work up the nerve first." He took a deep breath and sat up again. "I suppose telling you was my first step."
Harry placed a hand on Draco's shoulder, unable to hold back. "We'll figure this out."
When Draco rested his own hand upon Harry's and whispered a pained, "Thanks," Harry's heart ached for him. When he lifted Harry's hand to his cheek, Harry knew he was in trouble.
Harry Flooed Ron that night and told him Draco's story. He'd not wanted to - he'd wanted to keep Draco's confidence, and spent hours weighing his options - but it came down to what was best for Draco, and Harry needed Ron's help. At least that's how he justified it in his own mind. He wasn't doing it for the Ministry's sake. Not that Ron needed to know Harry's motivations. And he definitely didn't need to know that Harry was falling for Draco.
"And you believe him?" Ron asked incredulously.
"What reason would he have to lie?"
Ron rolled his eyes. "I don't know, Harry. Who knows why he does anything? He's hiding out, maybe from the Death Eaters as much as from us. Besides, it's Malfoy. To him, lying is like breathing."
Harry refrained from lashing out at his partner. Ron only knew the old Draco, not this one. It wasn't his fault he was being obstinate. "No, Ron, this was different. I've watched him."
Ron snorted. "Nothing new there."
Harry ignored the remark. "I mean it. He's fascinated by the folklore, anything magical about the place. And there's a lot. He feels magic in the air, and in himself, but doesn't know what to make of it. He knows there's something under the surface, but he can't quite grasp it."
Ron frowned. "That sounds ... enlightened of you."
"I have my moments." Harry shrugged. "He hasn't performed any magic, and he's been consistent all along. Not once has he wavered, hesitated, or exhibited any signs of someone lying." He spared a moment to wonder if he had shown any signs of lying. If Draco had picked up on anything out of the ordinary. Of course not, he realised. Because he'd never have opened up if he had. A part of Harry wished he weren't quite so good at his job. But if he weren't, he wouldn't be in a position to help Draco now. He just had to keep reminding himself of that.
Ron let out an exasperated sigh. "All right, mate. Whatever you say. You are the resident expert on all things Malfoy after all," he said.
"What do you mean by that?" Harry snapped.
Ron raised his hands in surrender. "Nothing," he said. "Nothing. Just that you know the git probably better than anyone. Maybe even better than himself."
I do now, Harry realised with a fresh pang of guilt. "Just ... get whatever information you can, yeah?"
"Oh, and Harry?"
"Be careful," he warned. "This is Malfoy we're talking about here. Prepare for the worst and all that rubbish."
"Good night, Ron."
Harry stared at the newspaper, going over the same paragraph for the third time and absorbing nothing. Madge had the day off, so he didn't have the usual banter to distract him from his thoughts, only the distant mutterings of the other guests in the dining room. He hoped Ron would have some news today.
"Mind if I join you?"
Harry started and looked up to find Draco watching him with an amused grin on his face. When had he arrived? "Not at all," he said, motioning for Draco to take a seat. Did they have plans today?
"I was in the neighbourhood," he said in explanation.
"Not difficult in a place this small," Harry mused.
Draco chuckled. "Too true."
"Their coffee isn't half bad," Harry said, motioning to the breakfast table. Draco's eyes lit up at the mention of caffeine and he sprung off his chair. Harry grinned. He'd learned early on about Draco's love for coffee in the morning. Good coffee, at any rate. He'd also learned what a bear he could be without it. A little like his old self from school, actually.
Harry swirled the dregs of his tea in his cup and looked at the leaves. Maybe they could tell him how to help Draco. He scowled at them as they looked, as always, like blobs of indistinct animals barely formed, telling him nothing.
"See something interesting?" Draco asked as he put his coffee down, placed one hand on the back of Harry's chair, and leaned over Harry's cup.
Harry resisted the urge to lean back, and instead scowled at the sludge. "I've never been able to see anything in my tea leaves," he said. "Stupid notion that soggy mush at the bottom of a tea cup could tell you your future."
Before Harry could react, Draco placed a finger beneath his chin and tilted his head up. "Very silly notion," he said, then pressed his lips gently to Harry's.
A jumble of thoughts raced through Harry's mind in quick succession: His lips are so soft. And he tastes like mint. Oh my God, he's kissing me. Draco Malfoy is kissing me.
Uncertainty nudged its way through the tenderness. No, this is Thomas Peterson kissing me. And he thinks he's kissing James Matheson.
Harry hadn't had the chance to react before Draco pulled back. He smiled tentatively down at Harry. "I thought I'd take my future in my own hands," he said. He went back to his seat and took a sip of his coffee. "And I figured if you were waiting for the tea leaves to tell you to do something, I might still be here a year from now, waiting for you to make a move."
Harry chuckled, despite his misgivings. Then he looked back at his tea leaves, because he couldn't face the hopeful look in Draco's eyes. This wasn't fair. Draco deserved to know what was going on. At the very least, he deserved to know who Harry was.
Harry gritted his teeth. Damn it if he wasn't falling for Draco. No, he was falling for Thomas. This wasn't Draco. This was someone else entirely. And fuck it if he wasn't the most amazing bloke Harry knew.
"I'm sorry." Draco's words interrupted his brooding. "I thought ... it's just that you keep watching me when you think I don't notice, and we've had such a good time together, and ... never mind. My mistake."
"No!" Harry said, and his hand, acting of its own accord, reached across the table and grasped Draco's wrist. "You weren't mistaken." He risked a glance up just as relief washed over Draco's troubled features. He nibbled his lower lip, trying to formulate some sort of explanation. "It's just ... complicated."
"Yeah." Harry tried to come up with something that could explain why he didn't want to cross that line. Only he did want to. Just not like this. "There's no one else. It's just my work right now, and ... yeah. Complicated."
Draco looked like he was going to ask for a better explanation, but changed his mind. Instead, he took a book out from his jacket and said, "Feel like going to your room?"
Harry's cheeks warmed and Draco laughed. "Relax. I only meant that I'd rather you not read my journal in such a public place."
"Oh," Harry said. He eyed the book, wondering how the world had become so out of sorts that Draco Malfoy was offering to show him his private journal. "I didn't expect--"
"It's not that personal really. The contents, I mean. But I thought you might be able to help. I know we didn't have plans today--"
"Okay," Harry agreed. He thought about the disaster of his current living quarters, but there was nothing else for it. At least that would give him a distraction, a way to stay focussed and prevent himself doing something stupid. He stood up. "Sure. Why not?"
He opened the door to his room, trying to figure out how he could surreptitiously wave his wand and make the mess disappear. Much to his chagrin, however, Draco seemed determined to stick close to him. Not so bad, really, if it weren't for the mess.
"Er ... any chance you could stay out here for a minute while I tidy up the room a bit?"
Draco raised a brow. "Not a neat freak, I gather."
Harry scratched the back of his neck. "I was a bit of a slob as a kid," he said. "Never really outgrew that."
Draco peeked around Harry's shoulder. "So I see."
"Just give me a minute." Harry kicked the clothes into a pile in the corner of the room, burying yesterday's Daily Prophet in the process, covertly closed the Floo, then swept the covers over in a sorry attempt to make the bed. It was silly, really, that he had to act like he was still underage, since Draco was a wizard and all, but if he was telling the truth - and Harry was convinced he was - then Harry couldn't afford to give away the best cover he had. He cringed inwardly as his growing feelings for Draco warred with his job.
He caught Draco leaning against the doorframe, a bemused look aimed at his futile attempt at cleaning. "Go ahead and laugh," Harry said and pulled out the chair. "Here. You can sit on this." He plunked himself onto the edge of the bed closest to the chair and held out his hand.
Draco sat down but didn't hand over the book. Instead he smirked. "You do realise they have maids in such establishments."
"Yeah, well, I'm here for a few weeks and ... well, I don't like people to mess with my things. I prefer to leave my stuff lying about."
Harry punched him in the arm. "It's sort of organised chaos."
"You don't say." He looked around and added, "I see the chaos. Not so much the organised."
Harry glared at him and he laughed. Harry decided he liked that sound very much. "It helps me think."
Draco looked honestly perplexed. "How on earth can that--" He waved his hand towards the pile of clothes in the corner. "--help you think?"
"Creative minds?" Harry knew it was a stretch, especially since he wasn't actually a writer, but it was all he had.
Draco narrowed his eyes. "I'll let it go for now. But just to be clear, I'm not remotely convinced."
Harry held out his hand. "I believe you have something to show me?"
Worry replaced playful teasing on Draco's face. Harry's hand, acting of its own accord, dropped to rest on Draco's knee. "It's okay. You don't have to do this."
He squeezed Harry's hand. "I want to."
There wasn't much to read in the book, at least not the first twenty pages or so. In fact, it was only remarkable for its lack of personal notations.
"You noticed, too?" Draco asked.
Harry flipped a few more pages. "Not much to it," he said.
"That's exactly what I thought. It's not a business journal, nor is it a diary, really. It just seems a matter-of-fact collection of details."
The entries reminded Harry of a case file, only slightly less formal. Like someone had created an identity for Draco to study. "Are you sure you wrote this?" he asked.
Draco grinned. "I see we think along the same lines. Yes, it's my writing. I've re-written the words, and the writing looks identical." He flipped ahead to the middle of the book. "See? That's the start of what I've written recently." He pointed to the page, and - though Harry was no handwriting expert - it sure looked the same. "What I remember writing anyway."
He read what Draco had scribbled on the first couple of pages:
The island feels right, but I still feel lost. Why can't I remember?
People are friendly, if a bit distant. I'm not a native, nor am I even Scottish, but they welcome me ...
I keep thinking I'll wake up one day and remember ...
Still waiting for something to trigger a memory. Even just one ...
Still nothing ...
Harry flipped ahead to the end of the writing and caught one from the day they'd met.
I met someone today. I'm not sure why or how, but I felt a connection ...
Went to Faerie Glen today and he experienced it too. I could feel the energy radiating from him like it flows from me. I knew there was something about him ...
Saw him again today ...
Draco snatched the book away before Harry could read any more.
"Sorry. I didn't mean to pry." He hadn't. Not really. But now that he'd read those entries, he wanted to read more. Wanted to know if Draco felt the same way Harry did.
Draco carefully placed the book back in his coat pocket. "My mistake. I didn't mean for you to read the rest." He shuffled about before regaining composure. "So what do you think?"
Draco's words brought him back to the present. "I don't know." Harry shrugged. "Maybe I've seen too many crime dramas, but it almost seems like someone prepared you for this. Like they knew you'd forget everything, and they've given you this as a guidebook to who Thomas Peterson is."
Draco thought about that for a minute. "Like some witness protection thing?" he asked.
That's exactly what it seems like. Only Harry knew that wasn't the case, because even if he hadn't been privy to such information, surely Kingsley would have. "Something like that, yeah. Except, you know, with the added bit about you not remembering anything."
"But it's not possible to wipe someone's brain," Draco argued. "No matter what the conspiracy theorists would have us believe."
He couldn't possibly be that good an actor. He had to be telling the truth.
Harry thought about the various spells, potions, and curses that could cause memory loss. "Yeah, right," he lied. "Of course not." As time passed, he was finding it increasingly difficult to lie to Draco. And even harder to lie to Thomas.
But he reconsidered. Was such a thing possible? Despite the numerous ways one's mind could be affected, Harry knew of nothing that could wipe out a person's identity, yet leave him otherwise functional like Draco. Such extensive wipes, as far as he knew, would cause irreparable damage, and Draco showed no signs of that.
With her Healer training, Hermione might know. Or could find out. But Harry didn't want to involve her, didn't want to tell her about Draco's condition. Not yet. He felt guilty enough telling Ron.
"Well, I'd better go," Draco said, standing up and heading for the door. Harry followed. "Thanks for everything."
"I didn't do much."
"I suppose, but it helps to get it out, to tell someone."
"Do you feel like you're remembering anything?"
He shook his head. "No. But I do feel a bit like a weight has been lifted." He swept his eyes over the room and smirked. "I should let you get back to your work." He patted Harry's chest. "You really should let the maid in here."
Draco opened the door, then turned to face the room again. "One good thing about the state of your living quarters," he said.
"I have to presume that you aren't inviting guests over."
Harry smiled. "No guests. You're the first."
"Good." Draco grasped the front of Harry's shirt and pulled him in.
This time when their lips met, Harry didn't resist.
Harry Apparated to a restaurant near the Ministry that afternoon to meet Ron. And to get away, get some perspective.
If he didn't know better, he'd swear the entire island really was magical and he was in the grasp of its spell. That kiss. Wow. Nothing overtly sexual. Not much more than a pressing of lips, really. But when he'd wrapped Draco in his arms, Harry had barely been able to remain upright, his knees threatening to give way at any moment. He hadn't felt that way in a long time. In fact, he'd possibly never felt a connection that strong before.
And then reality, led by Harry's lies, reared its ugly head. How could anything about this be real? They were two complete strangers. Only they weren't. But Draco didn't know that. And who exactly was Harry falling for?
"So, what have you got for me?" he asked Ron as soon as he sat down. Ron had gone ahead and ordered scones and tea, and Harry helped himself.
"The cottage was rented two months before he disappeared."
"Two months?" Harry tried to reconcile this with what Draco had told him, but he couldn't. "Are you saying he planned this?"
"Looks like it," Ron said. Harry's head began to throb. "He was still Draco Malfoy at the time Thomas Peterson booked the place."
Harry's heart sank. He'd been so sure. He'd believed Draco's story. Despite all their history, and the lengths Draco had gone to in the past, Harry wanted to believe him. Was it possible that Draco was making the whole thing up? Carrying on this elaborate ruse? But to what end? None of it made sense.
"There's more, mate."
Harry braced himself, drawing warmth from the his cup in his hands. "What?"
"He removed half his gold from Gringott's two weeks before he disappeared. And the amount converts roughly into the Muggle funds that appeared in Thomas Peterson's account about a week later, less a few thousand."
This was news. "Why didn't we know about the Gringott's withdrawal before?"
"We don't officially know about it now."
Ron nodded. "He could get in a lot of trouble for this."
"For what?" Harry winked.
Ron gave a relieved smile. "Right."
"So Dra-- Malfoy had this all planned out. He's set up in a remote spot, living as a Muggle, where no one is likely to find him. He's got money and a stupid cover. But why? He wasn't under arrest; no one was searching for him."
Ron shoved half a scone into his mouth and washed it down with some tea. "Dunno. Maybe he just wanted to disappear."
Harry considered this. "Maybe. But why would he go to all the trouble of making up something about amnesia? Seems a lot of work. Why not just make up his past?"
"Who knows why the git does anything," Ron said. "He probably fancies himself more mysterious or something. You know how much of an attention whore he was in school."
Harry frowned. "But he hasn't told hardly anyone."
"No." This fact troubled Harry most. "As far as I know, I'm the only one he's said anything to."
Ron leaned back in his seat, a contemplative expression on his face. "You don't think he's made you?"
Harry ran a hand through his hair. "I don't know." He thought back to every encounter they'd had, and his face flushed as he recalled their kiss that morning. "No," he said. "He doesn't know it's me."
"How can you be sure?" Ron asked.
"Just trust me," Harry said. Draco Malfoy wouldn't come anywhere near Harry Potter, much less kiss him.
Ron didn't look convinced, but nodded his support. "If you say so."
The next day it rained, so Harry and Draco took a drive around the island instead of hiking anywhere, and they packed it in early for lunch. They opted for a cozy little pub in a small town. Harry was currently not brooding.
Draco had been great all day, but Harry remained distant. He believed Draco's story - Harry could tell when he was lying, couldn't he? And yet ... Ron's news kept gnawing at him.
When Draco reached for his hand, he didn't pull away, but he didn't reciprocate. "I don't know if this is such a good idea."
Draco looked at Harry's hands and ran his thumb over Harry's ring finger. "You're not married?"
"No, it's nothing like that."
"And you are interested?"
Harry felt his cheeks warm and he nodded. "Definitely interested."
"Then what's the problem?"
Harry gazed into questioning eyes and a voice in the back of his mind - one that sounded suspiciously like Sirius' - said, No problem at all. He shrugged. "You don't know anything about me," he offered lamely. It was true, and it was the most he could say.
"I know that you're intelligent and witty. You won over Madge and Reg in less that a week, and they are incredibly good judges of character."
Harry counted himself lucky that he'd finished his tea, because surely he would have choked on it, hearing Draco Malfoy compliment him. "Oh, really?"
"They like me, don't they?" he teased. "Let's see, what else? You're not bad looking, even if you could do something about your fashion sense, and maybe tame your hair a bit."
"Hey!" Even under his glamour, Harry couldn't get his hair to cooperate.
"What? If you hung up your clothes instead of throwing them around your room, that might be a start. You can work on the slob thing. Look, I feel a connection to you, something I can't explain. What more is there to know?"
Harry watched Draco's mouth, remembering the feel of those lips on his own. His tongue reached out for the memory of his taste and Harry heard Draco draw a sharp breath.
Harry lifted his gaze to see stormy grey eyes, half black with dilated pupils, staring intently at him, and he fell into them, lost once more. When Draco whispered, "Let's get out of here," Harry nodded, unable to utter a word of resistance.
They went for another drive, along winding roads up to the top of one of the many mountains on Skye. The day remained grey and misty, cool and damp, but somehow the chill didn't reach inside him. Harry didn't even need to cast a spell, which made him wonder once more how deeply the island's magic affected him. Draco seemed equally unbothered by the cold.
"So, what's the story of this place?" Harry asked as they gazed out over the limited landscape they could see through the haze.
"Haven't heard one," Draco said. "It's just a place I come on particularly misty days." He didn't look at Harry when he spoke; he just gazed out over the clouds. "Reminds me of me."
Harry frowned. "Because of your stormy grey eyes?" he asked. He'd meant it as a joke, but Draco's reaction turned the tables on him.
"My, you really are a writer. Do tell, how would you describe the rest of me?"
Harry groaned. "I was teasing," he said, desperately trying to get out of what could end up being a cringe-worthy discussion. Stormy grey eyes? Honestly! What had he been thinking?
Draco linked his arm through Harry's and drew him nearer. "Relax. I was teasing too." Once again his attention returned to the landscape. "What I meant was that it's a vast unknown. Things you know are there, but you can't see them, can't grasp hold of them, can't uncover the reality."
He pulled back his arm and pushed up his left sleeve, showing a fading Dark Mark. Harry forced himself not to react.
"Take this, for instance. I have no idea what it is, what it signifies." He rubbed at it as though he could erase it with his touch. "It's disgusting, too. Nothing about it resonates with me. I don't think it suits me, and I can't imagine marking myself willingly with something so hideous."
Harry held onto Draco's left palm and looked carefully at the marred surface of the otherwise perfectly pale skin. "You're right," he said. "It doesn't suit you."
Draco looked relieved, then puzzled. "So why do I have it?"
Harry shrugged; he'd often wondered what had pushed Draco to take the Mark, or whether it had been his choice at all. "Drunken dare?" he offered.
"That's what I mean! I don't understand." He pushed down his sleeve and stared back out into the distance. "How can I not know who I am and how I got here? And why do I feel ill at the mere thought of stepping off this island?"
Harry could think of a hundred reasons why Draco Malfoy might want to stay here, but he said nothing.
"Sorry. Didn't mean to --"
Harry rested a hand on Draco's shoulder, unable to resist offering some reassurance. He didn't care what Ron's investigation had revealed. Draco wasn't faking any of this. Hermione would say that Harry was doing his saving people thing again, but Harry just felt like he was comforting a friend.
"You know," he said, "mysterious can be very sexy."
Draco laughed and rested his head on Harry's shoulder. "Oh, really?"
Harry breathed in the hint of citrus from Draco's hair and sighed. "Definitely."
Somehow Harry found himself agreeing to have take-away at Draco's cottage. The place was large for a cottage, but a considerable down-grade from Malfoy Manor. Draco seemed to have made it his own, though. Decorated tastefully with a definite masculine flare - not a floral surface in sight and filled with warm, rich colours. Harry wasn't sure what he'd expected: perhaps green and silver splashed everywhere. But the brown leather sofas, dark wooden floorboards, and mahogany furniture felt warm and inviting. Offset by light-coloured walls and a scattering of art, cushions, and a rug in light tones with hints of colour, the place drew him in.
His face must have given something away, because Draco asked, "Do you like it?"
"It's ..." Harry thought for a moment how best to describe the place. "It's you."
Draco smiled. "See? I knew we had some sort of connection. We've known each other such a short time, but you could tell at first glance that I'd decorated the place."
Harry coughed. He'd known Draco for years, he'd been to his home - well, not exactly as an invited guest, but nevertheless, he'd always known that Draco had a taste for the finer things in life. He looked around again, and reconsidered. He hadn't really known Draco at all, and hadn't he just been thinking that he'd have expected a replica of the Slytherin Common Room? No, Draco was right. He'd really only known him a short while. And there was something between them. Of that he was sure.
Draco opened a delicious bottle of wine that Harry didn't recognise. They made short work of the food, finishing more than half the bottle of wine along with it. They retreated to the living room with the last of the bottle and sat next to each other on the sofa.
Heat radiated from Draco and Harry's heart sped up. He should leave now, should go back to his room before he did something stupid, something both he and Draco would regret.
Draco took Harry's glass from his hand and placed it alongside his own on the table.
Now. Harry should leave right now.
Draco's hand found Harry's thigh and Harry drew in a sharp breath. He really needed to leave. Draco's other hand reached around to rest on Harry's cheek, before turning Harry to face him. He ran a thumb along Harry's lower lip and Harry's mouth fell slightly open.
"I'm going to kiss you now," Draco said. Harry didn't argue, only looked through heavily-lidded eyes as Draco smiled and closed the distance. He reached up to thread his fingers through Draco's hair as their lips met and his world turned upside down. His head swam and his skin tingled. God, he wanted this man desperately, ached for him. His heart raced and his arms drew Draco nearer, all rational thought gone.
Draco's tongue wrapped around Harry's and they both moaned. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Harry wondered how he'd ever lived without this feeling, and how he could ever live without it again. His body thrummed with desire while his hands traced the muscles of Draco's back, eliciting a tantalising shudder from Draco.
They broke apart reluctantly, only to gasp for air and dive back in again. Draco's hand reached up to cup Harry's cheek and Harry lifted his to meet it. Their fingers intertwined, they pulled apart and rested their foreheads together. Their breath mingled, the scent of wine thick between them, and Harry caught sight of black peeking out from Draco's sleeve.
Draco tried to pull it back, but Harry trailed his finger along Draco's wrist and upwards, tracing the Dark Mark. He was surprised to find that it felt soft, no warmer or colder than the rest of Draco's skin. He laughed at himself, wondering why such a thing should take him by surprise. It's not as though his own scar felt any different from any normal scar to anyone else. He was the only one who ever felt a burning sensation. Not that anyone had touched it while Harry had writhed in pain. And Voldemort was long gone, so - like Harry's scar - there would be no reason for Draco's Mark to burn.
Harry leaned down to kiss it. Draco sucked in a breath as Harry trailed his tongue along the same path his finger had taken. Harry immersed himself in his task. It was as though he were cleansing Draco of the pain that had gone before. Of the memories associated with this blemish on his skin.
Of course, Draco's memories were already gone. So maybe Harry was doing this for himself. Whatever the reason, Draco seemed to appreciate it.
"James," Draco whimpered.
Harry stopped abruptly. He wasn't James. He was Harry. Harry Potter, Auror. The Auror sent to investigate Draco Malfoy. And here he was ...
He stood up abruptly, dropping Draco's arm. "I --" He drew in a cleansing breath, trying for some sanity. How did he keep ending up like this, lost in the moment? In Draco. "I have to go." And he left, a confused Thomas staring after him.
An hour later, a loud banging announced someone's arrival. Resignedly, Harry trudged over and opened the door.
Wasting no time, Draco shoved Harry inside, closing the door behind him and slamming Harry up against the wall. His mouth was on Harry's in an instant, and when his tongue plundered Harry's mouth, all resistance drained away. Harry reached around to pull Draco closer, and when he felt Draco's hardening length press against his own, Harry whimpered his submission.
Draco's hands deftly undid the buttons of first Harry's shirt, then his own, and then their bare chests met in blissful delight. Harry reached down to grab Draco's arse and pulled their groins together. They both moaned.
Harry couldn't formulate an argument, couldn't rationalise why he'd resisted this for so long. Only a few weeks, a rational part of his brain supplied, but as his body reacted to Draco's touch, he argued that it had felt much longer than that.
Draco's mouth left his own, and Harry felt immediate loss, but his protest was quelled quickly as Draco nibbled his way down Harry's neck to his chest. One hand reached up and pinched Harry's left nipple at the same time his mouth engulfed the right, suckling it to hardness. Harry clenched Draco's hair at the onslaught, his cock twitching in appreciation, and all thoughts halted as he succumbed to Draco's wicked tongue.
As Draco licked his way down to Harry's navel, Harry's body tensed, willing itself not to react like some horny teenager and come from the mere thought of Draco's mouth enveloping his length. But oh, that tongue brought visions to mind. Something gnawed at him but he suppressed that thought before it was fully formed. Draco's tongue circled his navel before dipping inside. Harry's head hit the wall as he tried to regain control over his body, and distantly he heard Draco growl.
He'd never been so turned on in all his life.
And then Draco stopped. Harry nearly slid down the wall when Draco released him from his grip, but managed to right himself just in time. His eyes fluttered open, and when Draco came into focus, grey eyes bored into Harry's.
"Have I got your attention now?"
Harry nodded, unable to speak.
"Good." Draco pressed his body against Harry's, and Harry felt a moan escape. "Now if I'm not mistaken--" He rubbed their erections together, stars danced before Harry's eyes, and he tried not to cry out "--we have something good going here." Harry nodded again.
Draco drew back abruptly and Harry scrubbed a hand over his face in frustration.
"Then why do you keep pulling away from me?"
I'm not the one pulling away right now, Harry thought. He resisted reaching out for Draco, and let him carry on.
"Every time we get close, you pull back. Like there's something preventing you from following your desires."
"I--" Harry stopped, not knowing what he was about to say. What he could say. Draco was right.
"I like you, James." A bucket of ice water crashed over Harry. "And I'm pretty sure you feel the same way about me."
About Thomas, Harry corrected. I like Thomas. And you like James. He pushed himself off the wall and shook off the after-effects of lust. On shaky legs, he closed the distance between them.
"I told you before, you don't know me." His voice came out deeper and more threatening than he'd intended.
"So enlighten me," Draco challenged. "Tell me all your dark little secrets."
"And will you tell me yours?"
Draco's laugh sounded nearly hysterical. "If only I could."
"Sorry," Harry said, and he meant it. "I didn't mean --"
"You know what?" Draco said. "It doesn't matter. We're adults, we're obviously attracted to each other, there's something between us. What's to stop us from enjoying ourselves? No strings, no promises, no anything."
Harry replayed every kiss, every touch, and the way both had driven all rational thought from his mind. Every time. There was definitely something between them, and passion was unquestioningly at the heart of it. "No doubt."
"I can't," he said, though it pained him to do so. "If you knew me, who I really am--"
"So tell me."
Harry shook his head and began buttoning his shirt. "You'd hate me."
Draco's laugh sounded more like an assault. "I doubt that. All things considered."
"If we did what you suggest--"
"Yeah." Harry crossed the room to put as much distance between them as he could, taking a seat on the one chair in the sitting area. "If we did that without you knowing ... well, let's just say there'd be hell to pay."
Draco crossed his arms over his chest, looking unconvinced. "I ought to be the judge of that myself, don't you think? You've said you're not married, and you're not in a relationship. I don't know what you think you know about me, but ..."
Harry's head shot up as the tone of Draco's voice changed. Someone else might not have noticed, but Harry had a feeling that Draco was piecing things together, sensing that Harry knew more than he was saying.
He watched silently as Draco pulled his own shirt closed, quickly refastening the buttons. He cast Harry a look full of disappointment. In that moment, Harry made a decision. Screw the assignment. If Draco bolted, so what. It's not like he was wanted in connection with any crimes he might have committed. And Kingsley had no idea what Draco knew, if anything, about any of the rest of them.
But Harry saw what not knowing was doing to Draco. He witnessed the pain in Draco's eyes. Harry thought he could relate, at least to some degree. He'd missed out on a lot himself, even though the circumstances were different. He'd never known his parents, but at least he knew where he'd come from. Who he was. He couldn't imagine waking up one day with no recollection of anything that went before. How utterly alone and frightened and vulnerable that would make you.
"Wait," he said. Draco raised his brows but said nothing as he tucked his shirt back into his jeans. "How about if I promise to tell you tomorrow?"
"No." Harry needed to figure out how best to explain the situation. He couldn't just blurt it out, for fear he'd make things worse. "Tomorrow."
Draco took in a long breath, narrowed his eyes and looked like he was about to argue, but then let out the breath and reluctantly agreed. "Very well then." He sounded so much like the old Draco in that moment that Harry wondered if something weren't triggering his memory already.
Shaking off the feeling, Harry attempted a smile. "Shall we do something nice first, while you can still stand to be near me? Say, take a trip to the Faerie Glen again after lunch?"
A hint of a smile touched Draco's lips. "I'll pick you up outside at one."
"It's a date."
As soon as Draco left, Harry second guessed himself. What was he going to do? He couldn't trust himself to just say everything at once. And what would he say? How does a person cram two decades of information into one conversation? He remembered how overwhelmed he was after finding out he was a wizard, never mind all that Draco's past held. But he also remembered how betrayed he felt each time he found out something else about his family, something that no one thought to tell him.
He could imagine it:
Your name is Draco Malfoy. Your father was the right hand man of a megalomaniac that tried to take over the world. Your father, a piece of work in his own right, was succeeded by your crazy aunt when he failed a mission the mad man sent him on. He recruited you too. You know that tattoo of yours, the one you hate? That's his mark. Ugly snake, just like him. By the way, his number one mission, besides taking over the world, was to kill me. I didn't much like that idea. He died instead. Unfortunately, so did a lot of other people. Including, not too long ago, both of your parents.
Yes, we know each other. We met when we were eleven and have hated each other ever since. In fact, we spent much of our school years trying to outdo each other, hex each other, catch each other doing something wrong. Come to think of it, we dedicated an awful lot of time to pulling each other's pigtails.
Moving on ...
Your dad and your aunt both tried to kill me, you and your mother saved my life, and I saved yours. You did try to kill our headmaster, though. You failed, but you nearly killed two classmates in the process, including my best friend. Oh, yeah, I nearly killed you too. Sorry about that. I swear I didn't mean to. Scary shit, all that blood. I didn't know what that spell would do when I cast it.
Oh, yeah, did I mention that we're all wizards? You know those stories about magic you've been hearing? They're true. That feeling you get when you go to those places on the island? That's magic. Real magic.
Harry's head spun at the thought of it, and he already knew all this. He'd have to write everything down, then try to tell Draco. That way, if he didn't get the whole thing out before Draco freaked out and left - a distinct possibility - he could give him the note later. Or maybe first.
Harry spent the rest of the evening trying to chronicle the life of Draco Malfoy. He frowned when he finished, and realised it was very one-sided, and didn't say much about the boy who would become the man he knew now. He wondered how Draco would take the news.
He dozed fitfully that night, ghosts of the past visiting him in his sleep. Ghosts he'd have preferred stayed away.
When he woke the next morning, it was with a fuzzy head but a sense of determination. He would give Draco the abridged version of things, then let him ask questions, which Harry would try to answer. It was the best he could do.
They spent the afternoon hiking up to the highest point, retracing their steps from the last time, and enjoying just being together. The upcoming conversation weighed heavily on Harry, though, and it made for a less exhilarating experience.
On the way back, Draco took a detour, then pulled off the road. "One of the best views from anywhere on the island. It's a not-so-well-kept secret among the natives." They climbed out of the car and stood overlooking a sheer cliff, watching the waves crash onto the rocky shore far below. Most of the island had barriers blocking access to the edges of cliffs, but here the worn fencing allowed a much closer look.
"Years ago, a ship got caught in a storm and crashed below," Draco said. "No survivors. Some people still look for treasure to wash up on shore."
"How do they get down there?"
Draco pointed to a spot a hundred yards to their left. "There's a path that leads down from there." They leaned over and Draco pointed out the path.
Harry shuddered. "Looks a bit dodgy to me."
"Only the fearless dare to walk that path, and never in winter. They lock the gate come November each year."
Harry breathed in the sea air. "No magic here?" he asked.
Draco shrugged. "I don't get that feeling here, no. But I wouldn't say it's not magical." Listening to the sea, and staring out at the water, Harry thought he had a point.
The tension between them had lessened since the night before, but Harry had a promise to keep. He owed Draco the truth. He couldn't keep things from him any longer, even if it meant he'd never speak to Harry again.
Draco turned and caught Harry looking. "You're staring," he said. "Again."
Harry smiled and reached for Draco's hand. Behind them tires screeched. A car came hurtling towards them. Too close. Harry knew they had no chance.
He grabbed Draco's coat and leapt from the cliff, pulling Draco over the edge.
They landed with a thud in Harry's room at the hotel. Draco moaned and ran his hand through his hair. He clenched his eyes shut and rubbed the spot on the back of his head that had hit the floor. When he opened his eyes, they widened in shock.
"What the --?" Draco backed away from Harry, his eyes darting frantically around the room. "How? What?" He shut his eyes again and shook his head, hands on either side as if to hold in the thoughts bouncing around. "This isn't happening," he mumbled.
"It's okay," Harry said.
"That car was coming straight for us, and you pulled me over the cliff with you." He examined his arms, then patted his legs to be sure they were still there. "We should be dead." He looked up at Harry. "Are we dead?"
"No," Harry assured him. When he moved closer, Draco raised a hand to stop him. His eyes narrowed and he looked straight through Harry.
"And you called me Draco," he accused. "Who the hell is Draco?"
"Um ... let me explain." Harry pulled up the chair, close enough so he could speak at a low volume, but far enough away to give Draco his space. "Your real name is Draco Malfoy and you grew up in Wiltshire."
Harry spent the next hour giving Draco the condensed version of his life. Yes, they knew each other, had gone to school together. A school of magic. Yes, magic was real and they were wizards. No, Draco didn't have family left, except an aunt from whom his family had been estranged, and her grandson, Harry's godson. No, he and Harry didn't get along. Yes, there was much more to it than that.
After each new revelation, Draco took a moment to process the information. Then each time, he snarled in frustration as none of what Harry said resonated. He remembered nothing. Not his home, his family, his friends, school, Harry, or anything else.
"Maybe if I show you what I really look like," Harry suggested. With a flick of his wand, his glamours faded away.
Besides a nervous flash of his eyes, and another look of surprise, Draco didn't react. Not a hint of recognition. Not even when he stared at Harry's scar for a while. His hand twitched, as though he might reach for the scar, but he didn't. "Your name?"
No reaction. Then he asked the question Harry feared most. "Why did you come here?"
Harry wrung his hands and willed himself the strength to tell Draco the truth, and to remain strong for him while he tried to come to terms with everything.
"There was a war."
"A war? Recently? I've never heard --"
"A wizarding war. Most Muggles - non-magical folks - didn't know about it, so you wouldn't have heard."
Draco crossed his arms over his chest, waiting for Harry to continue.
"Your father was on the wrong side, and ... well, you saw some things that could be used against some of the people he associated with."
Draco scowled. "And how do you fit in?"
"I'm an Auror. A wizard police officer."
Draco barked out a laugh. "So you came to investigate me?"
Draco's face hardened. "Then what exactly were you doing?"
Falling for you.
Harry's shoulders slumped as he imagined how his actions must look. "We received a report that you were here, living under an assumed name, and I was sent to try to get you to come testify."
"But I can't testify against someone I don't remember."
"And once you knew that I had no memory of my past, why did you stay?"
"Do you even have to ask?"
He glared. "Yes, I do."
"I wanted to help you."
"Ha!" Harry blinked at the sheer force of the anger on Draco's face. "You expect me to believe that?"
"Oh, and you've been so truthful with me to this point, James."
"Whatever. Frankly, I don't give a flying fuck what your name is. I just want some answers."
Harry nodded. He'd known all along it wouldn't end well, but it didn't make the pain any easier to bear. "Whatever you want."
"My name is Thomas."
"Right. Sorry. Thomas. I meant what I said. I want to help you." He ignored the derisive grunt he received in response. "My partner, Ron, found out that your cottage was rented two months before you came here, and you'd withdrawn a hefty amount of money from Gringotts - the wizarding bank - and set up the accounts you have at Barclays in London."
Pain swept over Draco's face as Harry's words spilled forth. "Anything else you know about me?" he asked. "Where I buy my groceries, who I speak with on the phone, who I fuck?" He crossed the space between them and rested his hands on the arms of Harry's chair and leaned in. "Did you find out that I hadn't been laid for so long that you thought I'd be an easy target?"
"No!" Harry said, and reached up to - what, he didn't know; comfort him maybe?
Draco pulled back in disgust. "Don't touch me!"
"What I felt for you - feel for you is real."
"Right. We've hated each other our whole lives, or so you say, and suddenly you fall for me? Sure. I buy that. What was it you said? I don't even know you? Well, you're right about that. I didn't know you. But I think I have a pretty good indication of what you're like now. And I have to say I'm thankful for one thing."
Harry was almost afraid to ask. "Which is?"
"That we didn't --"
They hadn't. Not that Harry hadn't wanted to. Merlin, how he'd wanted to. At least he'd done something right. Even if that meant they never would.
"I guess I should be glad there are rules about that sort of thing."
There was no use trying to defend himself. "I wrote down most of what I could think of," Harry said, and fished in his pocket for the note he'd written the night before. Draco snatched it out of his hand. "But wait! Before you read it, I want you to know --"
"I don't care," Draco said. "I'm leaving."
"At least let me call you a taxi to take you back." He knew the scene would be crawling with people looking for the two men that flew off the cliff, and he couldn't Apparate.
"Don't do me any favours," he said, and he left, slamming the door behind him.
Well, that went well.
"We've traced the bank transactions," Ron explained when Harry arrived at the office an hour later. "Susan in Muggle Relations was able to get some details based on what you gave us." Harry's stomach churned. He wasn't sure he wanted to know. "But we came up with nothing."
"What do you mean, nothing?"
"We've spoken to the cashier that opened the account, and the financial advisor that dealt with the investments, and neither of them recognised Malfoy."
Harry waved this off. "He could have cast a Memory Charm on them."
"Right. That's what we thought."
"But it's not that they don't remember the transactions. They just don't remember Malfoy."
"So, he could have Polyjuiced himself."
Ron nodded. "Again, that's what we figured, so we managed to get access to their security tapes.
"And look." He pushed three pictures across the desk and Harry lifted them up. "Anyone you recognise?"
Ron smirked. "This is where it gets strange."
Harry tried not to rush him, but Ron's habit of building up to his point - something that hadn't bothered Harry in the past, primarily because he was generally already privy to the details, but that infuriated Kingsley - threatened to send Harry over the edge. "Oh, really?"
Ron practically danced in his seat. "Malfoy, it seems, was elsewhere at the time in question. Here, in fact."
"Yes. He had an appointment with Blanchard in whatever that office is responsible for freezing assets when they think something might be dodgy. He was arranging for release of his parents' estates."
Harry winced. He'd lost no sleep over Lucius Malfoy's gruesome murder, to be sure, but Narcissa hadn't deserved to suffer that way. Their deaths had been particularly heinous and brutal, receiving front page coverage, with all the gory details and sensationalistic headlines The Prophet could muster. Thankfully the Aurors arrived on scene before the vultures could take photographs, or no doubt the entire wizarding world could have watched them writhe in pain until they took their last breaths, then watched it all over again on a never-ending loop. People in the streets rejoiced, and life for Malfoy became horrific. Harry presumed this, because he'd witnessed some of the jeering first-hand, before Malfoy had escaped the crowd and Apparated away.
"And this bloke--" Ron tapped one of the pictures "--matches the description of the second non-resident on the ferry the day Malfoy first went to Skye."
"That can't be a coincidence."
"Right you are," Ron said. "So we took the picture to the office where Thomas Peterson rented the cottage."
"And this was the man who rented it?"
"Not exactly. See, he likely adjusted the agent's recollection of the transaction, so she didn't recognise him."
Harry was about to prompt him, but realised that Ron was still doing his draw-it-out thing. He motioned with his hand for Ron to get on with the story.
"But the receptionist, who happened to be at the bank when he arrived - another coincidence - caught sight of him leaving."
"And this is the bloke?"
"She wouldn't swear to it, but she seemed pretty convinced."
Harry sat back in his seat trying to work out what all this meant. "Have you got an ID on him?"
Ron's face fell. "Sorry, mate. That's as far as we've got. For all we know, he was in disguise or Polyjuiced or something. The ferry driver acknowledged that he returned a few hours later, but no one saw the two of them together."
Harry stood up and began to pace. "It's not likely that some random stranger would go about doing Draco's business for him. But it's equally unlikely that someone with an axe to grind with him would go to such lengths to make sure he was set up before wiping his memory."
Ron cast a pitying look Harry's way. "You have to accept the possibility that Malfoy's memory is perfectly intact. In fact, it seems pretty obvious to me."
"But why the ruse? It's not like he's under arrest or anything."
Ron gathered the photos and returned them to the file. "You saw it yourself, the way people taunted him. Not that I think he didn't deserve it, but --"
"No one deserves that."
Ron rolled his eyes. "Whatever. All I'm saying is maybe he just wanted to shed his whole identity."
"Fair enough. Set up as Thomas Peterson. But why not simply create a past for himself? No one in the Muggle world would be the wiser. There was no reason for him to make up this elaborate story. And I've not once seen him do any magic, not even surreptitiously, and I've been watching for it."
Ron folded his hands and rested them on the file. "I know I've asked you this before, but are you sure he didn't figure out who you were?"
"I'm sure," Harry said. But was he? This new information shed light on what might have happened, and it appears that Draco was complicit in the events leading him to Skye. And his new identity. And if he could do all that without rousing suspicion, what's to say he couldn't have pulled one over on Harry.
Harry touched a finger to his lips. No. Draco hadn't faked that. No matter what other lies might be between them, he at least knew that.
When Harry returned to the hotel after a much-needed walk to clear his head, Draco was there waiting for him.
"Come on in," he said, and opened the door to let Draco go in ahead of him. At least this time the place was tidy. Not that it made any difference now.
Harry offered him the chair, but he remained standing and glared at Harry. "Why didn't you tell me?"
Draco clenched his teeth. "When I told you I didn't know who I was, that I didn't remember any of my past, why didn't you say something then?"
"I trusted you. I told you something I hadn't told another living soul. I trusted you enough to show you my journal, to tell you everything."
Harry shuffled his feet and stared at the floor. The silence screamed in the small quarters, crushing Harry with its weight. But what could he say? He had no excuse, no defence. Anything he said now would only be self-serving. He'd played his role well - too well - and he'd crossed a line. And the time for coming clean had long since passed.
"You knew who I was the whole time. You knew that I desperately wanted to connect with my past. That I felt vulnerable without that connection. And what did you do?"
"Nothing," Harry mumbled.
"Oh, no," Draco argued. "If you'd have done nothing that might have been forgivable. But no. You had to string me along, give me hope, make me believe that you wanted to help me. That you gave a shit about me!"
"I do, Draco. Really I do."
"Stop calling me that! That's not who I am! I'm Thomas."
Harry swallowed. He'd really cocked this up. "Thomas. Sorry. I didn't mean to --"
"You didn't mean to what? To make me think you cared only so you could arrest me for something I don't even remember doing?"
"I'm not going to arrest you."
"No?" Draco cried. "Why should I believe you? Every word out of your mouth has been a lie, since the day we met."
"No, it hasn't. I swear it hasn't."
"Oh, wait. That's right. We've known each other for years. Were you this honest with me at school? Or did I always have to watch my back then too?"
Harry considered that rich, coming from Malfoy of all people, but he thought better of expressing that view. No point sending him right round the twist. He was already teetering close to the edge as it was.
"Tell me something, James. Harry. Whoever the fuck you are. Was it worth it? Did you have a good laugh at my expense? Are you satisfied that I've paid for whatever the hell I did back in school? Can you leave me alone now?"
"I want to help you," Harry said.
"No!" Draco held up a hand and shook his head, his eyes closed as though to bolster his strength. "Get away from me. Get out of this town, get off this island, and never come back. Just leave me in peace."
"But, Draco. Thomas. Let me help you."
His laugh felt like a slap in the face. "Don't do me any favours, Potter."
For a brief moment, Harry thought Draco had remembered. The way he'd spit out Harry's name sounded eerily familiar. But the look of anguish and pain in his eyes belied his outrage. Harry had hurt him. Deeply. And now he never wanted to see him again.
Harry Apparated straight to St Mungo's after Draco left. He found Hermione in her office, evidently finished with her rounds for the day.
"Hermione, you have to help Draco."
She pursed her lips, crossed her arms, and lifted her chin. "No, I don't."
"Then help me." He pulled her hands free, grasped them, and looked hopefully into her eyes. "Please."
She pulled her hands from his grasp and made to say something, but Harry stopped her.
"If he regains his memory, perhaps he'll have something of worth to tell us about the remaining Death Eaters." Her shoulders relaxed marginally. "That's why Kingsley sent me to investigate Malfoy in the first place." Not that Harry gave a toss about what Draco could tell them at this point. He just wanted to help him piece together his life.
If Hermione knew what he was thinking - which was quite likely - she didn't let on. She began shuffling papers around on her desk as though searching for something, but she didn't fool Harry. He willed himself to remain patient, to give her the time to rationalise why she was about to help the former Slytherin who had never been anything but nasty to her. He sat back, remained quiet, and kept his face blank.
When she stood up and walked to her filing cabinet, her back to him and her expression hidden, he knew she was in. Not looking at him, she said, "Fine. But I'm only doing this for you."
"Not that I have any idea why you would want to help him."
"I told you."
"I know you a little too well for that, Harry."
"But you'll still help him?"
"No." She turned around and gave Harry that look she always gave him or Ron, when she didn't agree, but humoured them anyway. Rather like an indulgent parent might give a child when they knew he was about to make a huge mistake. "But I can't seem to say no to you, can I?"
Harry picked her up and spun her around, kissing her on the forehead after he placed her back down on the ground. "Thanks, Hermione. You're the best."
"Yeah, yeah." She grinned back. "Now, tell me all you know about Draco's case."
Harry told her all he knew, and left with a spring to his step. If anyone could help Draco, Hermione could. Or, if she couldn't help him herself, at least she could figure out who could.
"I need to see Draco," Hermione told Harry two days later. "We can set up portkeys for him to come to the hospital for tests. I've done all I can from what you told me, but now I need to see him to determine what the problem is."
"The problem is he's lost his memory."
She sighed and rolled her eyes like she used to do back at Hogwarts. "I need to determine if his condition is as a result of neurological trauma, some sort of infection, a curse, or some more benign magic."
Again with the eyes. "Yes, Harry, magic. Remember second year, Professor Lockhart? A strong Memory Charm can work wonders."
Harry opened his mouth to respond, then closed it. He hadn't thought of that. Why hadn't he thought of that?
Because he hadn't believed Draco when he'd told him in the first place. Then he'd got to know him. Draco looked and acted perfectly well otherwise. He seemed well-adjusted, happy even. Oh, God. Why hadn't he considered that Thomas might not be Draco after all? He was, of course, but if he'd been cursed, he might actually be a completely different person. He acted like a completely different person. Harry had convinced himself that it was the real Draco, just removed from all the prejudice and rivalry of his past, but what if ...
Harry was an idiot. "Can a Memory Charm wipe out a person's entire history?" he wondered aloud. "Wouldn't that be dangerous?"
Hermione nodded. "You saw what happened to Lockhart."
"But that was because of Ron's faulty wand." Harry fought against the looming panic. "A properly-cast Memory Charm couldn't do that, could it?"
"Not a conventional one, no. But you've seen the effects of alterations made to charms, the compounded results when spells are supplemented with potions, or the power of Dark Magic."
"You don't think this ... that he might have been ...?"
"No, Harry, I don't think anything of the sort," she said. "In fact, I don't know that his memories are even lost. That's why I have to see him."
"I don't think he'll agree to it. You should have seen his reaction when I Apparated us from that cliff."
"Honestly, Harry. If you didn't know about magic, had nearly been hit by a car, then hurtled over a cliff, only to find yourself safe in a room halfway across the island, I think you might react similarly." She smirked. "Don't you?"
He shrugged. "I'd probably think I'd gone mad."
"Precisely. He's had some time to digest what you told him. And, from what you told me, he wants to get his memory back."
Harry recalled how broken Draco had looked when he'd first confided in Harry. "Desperately."
"Good. Then he shouldn't put up too much of a fuss when I ask to speak with him."
Harry laughed. "Considering how mad he was with me for lying to him, I'd be surprised if he let us in." Harry eyed her knowingly. "You don't believe he's lost his memory at all, do you?"
"I have no reason to doubt you, Harry."
"But you don't believe him."
"I haven't seen him, so I can't say one way or the other."
Harry nodded. "Fair enough.."
Harry stood facing Draco's cottage, Hermione by his side. He let out a sigh, braced himself, and knocked.
When Draco opened the door, Harry lifted a hand to pre-empt any argument Draco might put forward. "Thomas, this is Hermione. She's a Healer." At his confused look, Harry elaborated. "A magical doctor. She has done some research on your condition and has asked to see you. I won't be involved at all, but I know how much this means to you. Please don't let your anger with me prevent you from getting the help you need."
Draco narrowed his eyes at Hermione. "Do you know me too?"
She nodded. "Yes. We all went to school together."
"And you're his friend?"
"Don't let that --" Harry began, but Draco's glare stopped him mid-sentence.
"You're a doctor?" She nodded. "And you think you can help me?"
"Memory Charms are common, as are curses," Hermione explained. "I haven't seen anything present quite like how Harry describes your condition, but I did some research and there is some precedent for this. As you can imagine, I can't diagnose you without first running some tests."
He considered her words for a moment, then nodded. "You have sworn an oath of some sort, to help people?"
"And you won't discuss any of this with anyone?"
"I will consult with other Healers," she said. "I am, as you can imagine, still fairly new at my profession, and this goes beyond my area of expertise." When Draco said nothing, she added, "But I won't talk about your case with Harry. Or anyone else that isn't on staff at the hospital."
Draco nodded curtly. "Very well."
Hermione's eyes widened and her mouth dropped open. "You mean you'll agree to talk with me?"
Draco frowned. "That's what you're here for, isn't it?"
"Well, yes, but --"
"But you didn't expect me to agree?"
"No, I didn't."
"Because of Harry?"
"Because of our past."
Draco folded his arms and leaned against the doorjamb, smiling sadly. "If I knew my past, I suppose I might be wary." He glanced at Harry, then back to Hermione. "I'm angry with him, there's no question about that, but I've thought about things and I can't say that I don't trust him. He seems rather the trustworthy sort. Despite recent revelations, I don't think he'd do anything to intentionally harm me. So ... I suppose that means I trust you."
Harry smiled. "That's great, Draco!"
Draco shut his eyes, pinched the top of his nose between his brows, and took a deep breath, perhaps to prevent himself imploding. "I still want nothing to do with you," he said through clenched teeth. He turned to Hermione. "You may come in."
More than a week passed and Hermione hadn't contacted Harry with any news.
He'd tried to reach Draco, but received no response. He'd phoned, left messages, sent a letter, and even risked an owl late one evening, but it had come back unopened. Two days ago he'd stopped his pathetic attempts at communication. Draco knew where he was and how to reach him. And Hermione would have said something if Draco had stopped going to his appointments at St Mungo's, so he could always reach Harry through Hermione.
Draco didn't want to talk to him. That was clear. And Harry didn't blame him. Not one bit.
Harry retreated to work. He spent most waking hours at the Ministry and did his best to avoid Kingsley, for fear his boss would ask again how things were progressing with Draco.
Unfortunately, since a handful of cases that remained open at his desk were those of suspected or confirmed Death Eaters, he had to endure references to Malfoy Manor and Lucius Malfoy, not exactly helpful when he was trying to put the man's son out of his mind.
Harry's nerves were shot and he found himself snapping at everyone around him; people had taken the hint and now granted him a wide berth.
Harry grunted a response to Ron.
"Full of sunshine and roses again today, I see."
Harry gave him a two-fingered salute.
"Right. So what'd you say to Cook?" Harry shrugged. "You had her on the verge of tears, you know."
Harry put down his quill and ran a hand through his hair. "Sorry."
"Not me you need to apologise to," he said. "But I'll take it since I'm sure you owe me a half-dozen or more from earlier in the week."
Harry rolled his eyes and picked up his quill again.
A few blessed moments of silence passed before Ron cleared his throat. In response to Harry's questioning look, he said, "Talk to Hermione."
Harry shook his head. "You know how she gets," he said. "She'll bite my head off if I interfere or try to press her into telling me something she can't."
"You mean like you're biting everyone's head off here?"
"No, it's not," Ron said. "And I can't say I understand why you're letting Malfoy's situation get to you so much, but if you don't go see her now, I can't guarantee you won't end up seeing her as a patient after someone realises they've had enough of your shite and hexes your arse."
Harry crossed his arms over his chest and scowled.
"And that someone might even be me."
"Fine," Harry said, picking up his quill once more. "After work."
Ron snatched the quill from his hand. "Now."
"But I --"
"In case you'd forgotten, Malfoy is work. You're following up on one of your cases, plain and simple."
Harry opened his mouth to argue but Ron cut him off, his tone leaving no room for argument. "Get out of here before someone sends you out."
Harry slunk from the room, grumbling under his breath, but secretly relieved to have an excuse to check on Draco.
Hermione greeted him with a smile and motioned him into her office. "Hi, Harry." She smirked knowingly. "I'm surprised it's taken you until now to come talk to me."
She laughed. "I've known you since we were eleven. Patience isn't exactly your strong suit."
"No, I guess it isn't," he said. He tried not to reflect on the past when his impetuousness had caused others harm. "So how's Draco?"
"Take a seat." She indicated a chair in front of her desk and he sat down. She leaned against the desk but remained standing. "I know you want me to tell you everything will be fine, but I can't do that, Harry."
His stomach clenched. "He still can't remember?"
"You know I can't discuss his case with you," she said. "But you can try talking to him directly."
"I tried that, but he won't answer me."
She looked thoughtful for a moment. "What?" he finally asked.
"You've fallen for him, haven't you?"
Well. He shouldn't have been surprised. "Er ..."
"Oh, Harry. What were you thinking?"
"I wasn't really thinking, truth be told."
She snorted. "No shit."
"Oh, please." The corners of her mouth twitched. "But seriously, Harry. Malfoy? It can't end well."
Harry dragged his hands through his hair and groaned. "I know. It already blew up in my face."
"Well, you lied to him."
"How did you expect it to end?"
"I never expected it to begin in the first place!" It was true. He had gone to Skye on a standard mission. Okay, it was Malfoy, so nothing about it was standard. But still. He'd gone there with the intent to investigate and report back. Perhaps get some information out of Malfoy in the process. Maybe convince him to answer some questions at the Ministry. He certainly hadn't planned on ...
"Is it serious?"
Was it? He'd nearly responded automatically with a resounding no, but something stopped him.
The words hung in the air. How did he feel about Draco? "No," he finally said.
Hermione raised a sceptical brow.
"But I think it could be," he admitted. "Everything I feel now is clouded by ... well, everything. We got together under false pretences. He doesn't know me at all. Hell, he doesn't even know himself." She reached down and squeezed his shoulder. "But the time we spent together was great. We became close, and ..." His words drifted along with his thoughts.
Silence filled the room for a few minutes before Hermione whispered, "You didn't ...?" Her blush spoke volumes, communicating her thoughts to make up for her inability to say the words.
"No!" Harry assured her. "I couldn't. Not ever. Not under those circumstances." He didn't bother to mention how close he'd come to doing exactly that.
"Good, because that would be wrong."
"But you wanted to," she said.
"Oh, yeah." He looked up to see her smirking. "Definitely."
"And he wanted to?"
Harry smiled before he could catch himself. "Yes." His smile slipped away. "But not anymore." He clenched and unclenched his fists. He'd handled everything so poorly. "Not ever."
"If that's true, can you blame him?" she asked.
He shook his head. "No."
Hermione pushed away from her desk abruptly. "When was the last time you tried getting in touch?"
"A couple of days ago, I guess."
"You might want to try again."
"I can't discuss a patient's progress with you, Harry. You know that."
"Even as the Auror investigating a case?"
"If the Ministry wishes to consult the hospital about a patient, they'll have to have a properly-executed warrant to obtain information." Her eyes pleaded with him. "Talk to him," she said.
He turned to leave.
"Oh, and Harry?" He turned back and she winked. "You know what they say. Never say never."
A half hour later, he found himself aboard the ferry heading for Skye. He could Apparate directly over, but he needed the time to think. Okay, he was stalling, but in his defence, he was using the time to think. Could there really be a chance? He wanted there to be, desperately, but who was he kidding? Even before he'd lied to Draco, they'd had history. Bad history. A friendship between the two was unlikely, never mind something more. No matter what had transpired between them recently. Armed with the slightest optimism thanks to Hermione's words, Harry hoped this meeting wouldn't be their last.
Hermione's other words - Can you blame him? - edged their way to the forefront of his mind. He tried to put himself in Draco's shoes. Waking up, alone, with no memories of who he was or how he'd got there. Reading a book that told him some of what he needed to know, presumably written by his own hand, yet completely foreign. Surrounded by unfamiliar faces, he'd been drawn to the familiar - magic - even if he hadn't known why. Months later, someone comes along and there's an inexplicable connection.
In a world where he knew no one and could trust no one - he couldn't even trust his own mind - the one person that anchored him ...
Oh, God. What had he done?
His hands began to sweat as he approached Draco's cottage; he wiped them on his trousers, shook off the snowflakes that had gathered in his hair and knocked. When the sound of footsteps broke the silence, Harry willed his breathing to slow. His stomach shifted uncomfortably and his heart threatened to beat out of his chest.
The door opened, and as soon as Draco saw him, his soft features hardened. And still he looked gorgeous. Harry wanted nothing more than to take him in his arms.
"Potter." Draco stood blocking the opening and crossed his arms over his chest. "Come to arrest me now?"
What? Harry almost laughed as he processed this. Was that the reason Draco hadn't returned any of Harry's calls or messages? "No, I'm not going to arrest you."
Harry suppressed a smile. "Really."
"Then why are you here?"
Harry glanced around and shuffled his feet in the snow that was beginning to gather on the porch. "May I come in?"
"That depends on why you're here."
"Because I wanted to see you."
Draco snorted. "And I'm supposed to believe you?"
"It's the truth."
"We've known each other for how many years now? Oh, yes. I remember it all very clearly now. I offered you my hand in friendship back when we were kids and you dismissed it." His jaw tightened as he paused. "At no point in all the years since did you ever want to see me." He uncrossed his arms and held up a finger on one hand, pointing to it with the other. "You've wanted to watch me, follow me, chase me, and sometimes stalk me." He counted each statement off on his fingers. "And always you wanted to catch me doing something wrong. Listen to what I said. Hide in the shadows. Now we're adults, you chose to hide in plain sight. And yet still you watched me, listened to me, spied on me. And you expect me to believe, after all this time, after all these years, you just want to see me? Spare me, Potter."
"No, Potter. Don't bother pretending that you spent those three weeks with me for any other reason than your job. So, if you're not going to arrest me, we have nothing more to say to each other."
He stepped back and began to close the door, but Harry stuck his foot inside. "I'm sorry," he said.
"I don't believe you." Draco glared down at Harry's foot.
Harry followed his gaze and realised he was still doing what he always did. Pushing his way into Draco's life, whether he wanted him there or not. "I'm sorry I hurt you."
Draco laughed derisively. "You didn't hurt me, Potter. You played me. There's a big difference. In order for you to hurt me, I'd have had to give a shit in the first place. I just wanted a fuck and you were there."
Harry removed his foot, turned around, and walked away. He didn't look back when the door slammed shut.
He returned to work with a renewed sense of purpose and became almost obsessive about his cases. It felt good to have focus again. If people avoided him now more than ever, so be it. He didn't need the distractions anyway. Ron had asked Harry what was wrong, but Harry had brushed him off with everyone else. He didn't want to talk about it.
When, after a few weeks of this, Kingsley approached him and told him he needed to spend a little less time at the office and a little more time at home, that his drive, though appreciated, would only lead him to burn out, he nodded and left Kingsley's office. He covertly shrank the files he was currently working on, stuffed them in his robes, and gathered his things to leave. As he passed by Ron's desk, he muttered, "Satisfied?" Ron's pink ears confirmed what he already knew.
Harry began working from home that day. He went into the office for his usual hours, still working ten each day, knowing it would be too obvious that something was up if he worked any less than that, and volunteering to go into the field whenever anyone was needed, whenever possible without Ron. Then he spent another six to eight hours poring through files at home. He collapsed into bed each night and rose at the break of dawn each morning. And if visions of blond hair and grey eyes haunted his dreams, there wasn't much he could do about it.
During waking hours, he had no time to think of anything but work. Which was just as he wanted it.
A few weeks later, however, the next suspected acquaintance of Lucius Malfoy was arrested, and Kingsley wanted Draco brought in for questioning. Again. Harry's protests, that the man deserved to live his life away from the shadow of his father's deeds, fell on deaf ears. And if Harry didn't go, someone else would. Someone that didn't know Draco. Or worse: someone that did and wanted to see him pay.
When Harry had returned from Skye that last time, he'd sent Draco one more owl, this time on official Ministry parchment. He'd stated that, now Draco had his memory back, he was wanted for questioning in two pending cases. Draco had voluntarily appeared at the Ministry two days later, solicitor at his side, and had submitted a statement. He allowed Fletchley, the Auror charged with those cases, to ask his questions, and had left without Harry even knowing he'd been in the building.
Harry wondered absently if Draco would talk to him now.
He went home that night for the first time in weeks without any files. His thoughts, given free reign, returned to Draco, and inevitably to his case. Harry hadn't thought about it since he'd last seen Draco.
He'd let his emotions take over, and hadn't finished investigating what had happened to Draco. Even though it wasn't an official case, Harry had promised to help him, and he'd dropped the ball. A fresh wave of guilt washed over him at the realisation. Once they'd hit a dead end in the investigation, Harry had turned his focus to helping Draco regain his memory. But when Harry had visited Draco, he'd been so devastated by Draco's words that he'd simply left. Merlin, he was an idiot. He hadn't even asked Draco if he remembered what had happened or who the man was. For all Harry knew, the man had tricked or manipulated or Imperiused Draco into withdrawing his funds.
Ron had reached a dead end when investigating the unknown man on the ferry, the one that had checked in as Thomas and set Draco's life on Skye in motion. But Draco had his memory back now. Harry could ask him about the man, maybe start the case up again. Then he could find the bastard and make him pay for what he'd done to Draco.
With renewed determination, Harry prepared for his trip the next day. He went back to the Ministry to retrieve Draco's file, then spent a few hours perusing it and making notes. He needed to be careful; he didn't want Draco getting the mistaken impression that he was the one under investigation rather than the person who'd injured him. But Harry wouldn't hide the fact that the Ministry wanted to question him again. He had learned that lesson.
Harry Apparated directly to Draco's house this time. Draco answered and once again blocked Harry's way. "What do you want this time, Potter?"
"May I come in?" he asked.
"What do you want?" he repeated.
"The Ministry sent me."
"Hmm. So shall I let you in or slam the door in your face?"
Harry shrugged. "Whatever works for you, I suppose. But if you don't speak to me, they'll just send someone else."
"Lucky me." He stepped aside and motioned Harry to enter. "What do they want now?"
Harry took a seat on one of the sofas. He shut out the memory of what had happened here the last time. "There's a new case."
Draco sat on the other sofa. "There's always a new case."
"I know. I told Kingsley that we couldn't keep doing this to you, every time they bring in someone that might have had a conversation with your dad sometime in the past."
Draco gave a wry grin. "And what did he say to that?"
Harry scowled. "I'm here, aren't I?"
"Lucky me," he said again.
"What I suggest to you is to have your lawyer find out all he can about the case, consult with you, and then you can come in and give a statement." He said nothing. "It won't stop them asking you again next time - obviously - but it will mean they'll be off your back sooner rather than later. Maybe buy you some solitude until the next arrest." He tried to lighten the mood a bit. "And they have to run out of your dad's associates sometime, right?" Draco's look made Harry wonder just how many palms Lucius had greased over the years. "Eventually."
Draco crossed his legs and rested folded hands upon his lap. He said nothing, merely stared off into space, his mood unreadable.
"The last time I was here, I didn't get the chance to ask you what you remember."
"Everything," he replied.
Harry nodded. "No missing time, no gaps to fill?"
"Nope," he said. "But then Granger would have already told you that, wouldn't she?"
Harry shook his head. "She didn't tell me anything."
"You expect me to believe you just happened to show up at my house within a day of me regaining my memories?"
Ah. "Hermione told me to come see you, but she didn't say why. I had gone to see her, to find out how you were doing, and she told me to ask you myself."
"She said nothing about my case?"
"Nothing," Harry said. "In fact, she told me I'd have to bring a warrant if I wanted any information from her."
"Hmm. I think my respect for her just went up a notch."
"She gave you her word that she wouldn't discuss the case with me, and she kept it," Harry said. "Besides, she swore an oath, and she wouldn't break that just for me."
"That's refreshing, especially since you seem to be rewarded for breaking the rules at every turn." Harry made to argue, but Draco added, "Or at least you aren't punished like the rest of us mere mortals."
Harry chose to ignore his taunts. "Will you let me help you get to the bottom of what happened?"
Draco looked confused. "What do you mean?"
"I mean someone wiped your memory. Don't you want to know who did that and why?"
"I already know."
Anger boiled up inside Harry. "Hermione knew this, but didn't bring it forward? She should have told me if she knew something about a crime."
"There was no crime," Draco said.
"I hired him to do it."
Harry stared at him, stunned. "Why?"
"I guess I'd reached a point in my life where it just wasn't worth it anymore. You know, carrying around all that baggage. I wanted a way out, and I had the money to do it."
"But--" Harry couldn't imagine willingly letting someone poke around in his mind. "What if you couldn't have retrieved your memories? What if it was permanent?"
Draco sat forward and smiled sadly. "That's what I paid for," he said. "I never wanted to remember."
"But surely you had some good memories? What about your mother?"
Draco cringed. "I was in a bad place. I didn't want to go on, and besides killing myself - something that would have been the ultimate insult to my mother - I didn't know what else to do."
You could have come to me, Harry thought, but then realised how ridiculous that was. They hadn't exchanged a civil word the entire time they'd known each other.
"Are you sorry you did it? Got your memory back, I mean?"
He shook his head. "No. I had no idea how vulnerable I would be." He clenched his fists. "I never want to feel that way again."
Harry smiled. "Good."
"I did keep a few memories," he said. "Left them at Gringotts. I suppose I figured, on the off chance I was found, I ought to have some link to my past. Some way to arm myself against whatever I'd have to face."
That made sense. It also explained why he'd left some funds there. A back-up plan.
"I'm sorry about everything," Harry said. He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his thighs, eyes fixed on the coffee table. "I never meant for any of this to ... well, for things to get so complicated." He looked up and caught Draco glancing in his direction, before he went back to staring at a point above the mantle. "I never meant to hurt you," he said.
Draco's head whipped around and he glared at Harry. Harry raised a hand. "And even if you weren't hurt, I'm sorry about everything." He took a breath and decided that wasn't right at all. He threw caution to the wind and decided to put it all out there. "Well, not everything, really, because I rather fancy you, and I'm not sorry to have discovered that. Even if nothing will ever come of it, I'm glad to have had the chance to know you without the complications of our past."
Draco's glare had lessened into more of a curious stare, and he tilted his head slightly, as if trying to figure out the oddity before him. But he still said nothing.
"You're not going to make this easy for me, are you?"
Draco smirked. "Never."
Relieved at finally breaking through, Harry trudged on. "I really did just want to see you the last time I came here. To see how you were doing."
"You knew? Then why?"
Draco ran his hands through his perfect hair and sighed heavily. "Because what if I was wrong? What if you were still playing me?"
"I was never playing you."
Draco glared at him.
"Not after that first day."
Draco stood, body rigid, arms hanging stiffly by his sides. "And here we were, doing so well with the truth."
Harry reached for his arm and held him there. "I know I never told you who I was or what I'd originally come to Skye for, but ... besides that, everything I said was the truth."
"You expect me to believe that?"
Would Harry believe him if the tables were turned? "No, I expect you to tell me I'm a liar."
Draco's mouth twitched. "And then what?"
"And then I expect you'll tell me that you'll never believe me, unless I prove it."
"And what will you say to that?"
Harry stood up and took Draco's face in his hands. "Nothing." He brought his lips to Draco's, gently at first, then a bit more insistently when he didn't meet with resistance. He kissed one corner, then made his way to the other, promising with every press of his lips never to deceive Draco again.
Harry had never initiated a kiss between them. Until now. Perhaps that was part of the reason Draco hadn't believed him. Harry had wanted to kiss him, plenty of times, but not with the lies between them. But now there was nothing to stop him. And he never wanted to stop kissing Draco. Not ever.
Draco's arms gradually wrapped around Harry's back and he drew their bodies together. Harry first nibbled then trailed Draco's lips with his tongue. When Draco's lips parted with a whimper, Harry slipped his tongue inside the welcoming warmth of Draco's mouth and knew at once he was where he belonged. He could never willingly give this up. How he'd ever questioned his feelings for Draco he didn't know. Sure, he'd fallen for Thomas, but he'd known he was Draco all along.
But Draco had fallen for James, a voice reminded him. Reluctantly, Harry grasped Draco's shoulders and pulled away. "Draco, wait."
Draco's body went rigid and his eyes turned cold. "Change your mind, Potter?" he snapped. "Suddenly remember who you were with?"
"Yes," Harry whispered.
"Right." Draco shoved Harry away. "Get the fuck out of my house and never come back.
"No, wait, Draco. Let me explain."
"I get it, Potter. Really I do." He marched to the front door and flung it open. "You wanted to be sure that I knew exactly who had screwed me over. Just to be sure. To make my humiliation complete. Well, mission accomplished." He waved his arm towards the door. "Now get out."
"No!" Harry drew his wand and with a flourish the door flew from Draco's grip, banging shut. Draco opened his mouth and with another wave of Harry's wand he fell silent. He turned towards Harry, arms flailing wildly, and Harry raised his arm. "Don't make me tie you down."
Draco charged him.
"Have it your way," Harry said, and a moment later a fuming Draco was glaring at Harry, strapped to a chair with invisible bonds.
"I'm not enjoying this, I'll have you know." Draco glared some more and Harry stifled a chuckle. "Okay, maybe a little. But just give me a chance to explain." Draco's glare threatened to bore a hole through the centre of Harry's forehead. "I'll be quick. Then I'll let you go." Draco huffed and stomped his foot.
"Right. Well. Here's the thing. I've ... I'm not very good at this. Words, I mean. In fact, I'm pants at it." A grunt from Draco's direction brought his focus back. "Sorry." Draco rolled his eyes.
Harry began to pace. "Look, I like you. Really like you. I think that's rather obvious. But before, every time you kissed me, I had to pull back. I couldn't go any further, shouldn't have even kissed you in the first place, not when you had no idea who I was." Harry stopped pacing and looked down at the carpet, unable to face Draco. "Merlin, you had no idea who you were. It wouldn't have been right."
He chanced a glance at Draco then. He was still glaring, but the edge had worn off slightly. "At first you were understanding, but then each time it was harder for me to pull away, and you started to get annoyed with me. Still, though, you were great. And then I knew. I couldn't keep lying to you. That day the car nearly hit us, I had planned to tell you everything. But then ..."
Draco's glare had faded to a slightly annoyed stare by now. Harry took that as a good sign, so he carried on. "But now, well, now there are no lies between us, nothing to stop me from ... well." Draco's expression turned exasperated. "Except you."
Draco's face darkened once more. "But not the way you think," Harry was quick to add. "See, I knew who you were the whole time." Harry approached the chair and slid Draco's left sleeve up, running his finger gently over the Dark Mark. "It doesn't suit you," he said, looking into Draco's eyes. "When I fell for you, I knew exactly what that meant. But you didn't. You didn't fall for me. You fell for James." He tried not to sound like a wounded puppy, but he didn't think he succeeded.
Draco shook the chair in frustration, but Harry just waved his hand. "I know I told you that was me. And it was. It is. This is really who I am. But you didn't know that at the time, and --"
Draco's foot banged once more and his increased movements nearly lifted the chair off the floor. He was glaring again.
"Promise you won't attack me?" Harry asked. Draco shook his head. Harry chuckled. "Oh, right. Honesty." Draco shook the chair and Harry relented. "Okay, okay."
He waved his wand and the bonds holding Draco and the Silencing Charm lifted.
"Potter, you complete idiot!" Not exactly the words Harry was hoping for, but fair enough. "I know who you are now, don't I?"
"And I've known for months."
He stood up, fists clenched, arms by his side, barely restraining himself. "So, don't you think that it's possible that I've already come to terms with all this - who you are, who I am, and what that means?"
"But you said --"
"I was lying. Obviously." Harry's heart skipped a beat. Draco brushed off his clothes, as though the spell had left behind a film of dirt. "It wouldn't do to have you believe you got to me."
"No." Harry suppressed a grin. "That wouldn't do at all."
Draco walked towards Harry. "So."
"So," Harry said. He didn't resist when Draco pushed his hand down; instead, he holstered his wand and wrapped his arm around Draco's back.
Draco leaned in, his breath brushing Harry's ear. "Are you planning to keep pushing me away, Potter?" He took Harry's earlobe gently between his teeth, sending shivers down Harry's spine.
Harry shook his head a fraction, not wanting to dislodge that wonderful mouth. "No."
"Mm. That's good." He nibbled Harry's ear some more, then his tongue joined in and sent fresh shock waves directly to Harry's groin. "Because I don't know how much more of that I could take." He chose that moment to run his hands down Harry's back, grasp his arse, and grind their burgeoning erections together.
Harry ran his hands through Draco's hair and pulled him in for a bruising kiss. It was all tongues and teeth and passion and Harry never wanted it to end. He could lose himself in the taste, the feel of Draco.
Who was he kidding? He was already lost.
They rutted together like teenagers, and in a way that's how Harry felt with Draco. Out of control, completely caught up in the moment. Without so much as a touch of Draco's hand, Harry felt his orgasm building. "Oh, God." A few more thrusts and Harry tumbled over the edge, followed shortly afterwards by Draco.
"Well," Draco panted, "that would have been embarrassing if we hadn't both ..."
Harry captured his mouth in another kiss, not quite ready for this encounter to be over, despite the current state of his pants. Embarrassing to be sure. "Mm."
"Potter," Draco said. Harry ignored him and kept kissing him. "Harry."
Harry stopped. "Say that again."
Harry glared at him.
"I like it when you say my name."
Draco rolled his eyes. "You're such a girl."
Harry kissed him again, more forcefully this time, and ground their groins together, reminding him clearly that Harry was anything but a girl.
"Ew!" Draco grimaced as he pulled back. "Honestly, Potter. Can't you do something about this mess?"
Harry chuckled and waved his hand, wandlessly clearing it away. "Now who's the girl?"
"Oh!" Harry said. "I forgot. I have something for you."
He released Draco from his grasp, but not without giving him a parting kiss. He retrieved his bag from where he'd left it, just outside the doorway, and brought it inside. At Draco's questioning look, he shrugged. "I didn't know how you were going to react, so I thought it best not to bring it in with me."
With a smile, he handed Draco a rectangular box. Draco frowned, then seemed to register the possibility. "It's not ...?"
"It is," he said as he stared down at his old Hawthorn wand. He frowned when he looked up at Harry. "You had this the whole time?" he asked.
"Actually, the Ministry took it as evidence after the war," Harry explained. "I simply retrieved it before I came to see you that last time."
Draco removed it from the box and sparks flew out the end. "I thought they'd destroyed it." His face lit up as the magic coursed through him. Harry remembered that feeling well, the first time he'd held his own wand after repairing it. Like a long lost friend coming home. As he watched Draco's face become more animated with every spell he cast, objects circling the air around him, Harry grinned. No, it was more than that. It was like a part of him had been missing, like he'd only felt whole again when they'd been united once more.
Draco twirled the wand between his fingers and all the objects returned to their places on the shelves. He stalked towards Harry, a dangerous gleam in his eyes. "You left this outside, where anyone could pick it up?" he asked.
Harry raised his hands in surrender. "I concealed it and cast charms on it so no one could pick it up. No worries. I wouldn't have risked it falling into the wrong hands."
"And you left it outside because ...?"
"Well, I wasn't sure if ... well, in the interest of honesty, I wasn't sure that you wouldn't have used it against me, once you got hold of it."
"You should trust your instincts," Draco said. And before Harry knew what was happening, he saw his own wand fly out of its holster and into Draco's hand. Then he felt the cold tendrils of invisible bonds wrapping themselves around his arms and legs. Harry tried not to panic, tried to gauge what was going through Draco's mind.
Draco grinned, his eyes twinkling and his wand twirling between his fingers. "Yes, Harry?"
"What are you doing?"
"Why, I thought that was rather obvious," he said, his voice teasing but dark. "One would think a big, strong Auror like yourself could figure it out."
Harry opened his mouth, but at once his voice was cut off and he felt himself lifted into the air and levitated down the hall. When he landed on the bed, the bindings pulled his arms and legs taut, the other ends presumably wrapped around the four posters of the bed.
Draco stood at the end of the bed, a feral grin on his face, the wand aimed menacingly at Harry.
Harry's mind flashed images before his eyes, each one successively worse. Something tickled the back of his mind. How was this even possible? That wand should still show its allegiance to me, shouldn't it? Maybe that allegiance only carried as far as preventing his death. Harry calmed his breathing and willed his heart to slow down. Not that he thought for a minute Draco would kill him. But still. He pulled on the bindings. Good to know he couldn't. Not with this wand anyway. Then again, he must have another one here somewhere.
He looked around for a way out of the situation when Draco climbed onto the bed, crawling up Harry's body. He smirked. "Turn and turn about. It's only fair, isn't it Potter?"
Harry's heart threatened to burst from his chest. Fuck it if this predatory Draco wasn't the hottest sight he'd ever seen.
Draco leaned down and whispered in Harry's ear, "I never promised not to attack you," he said, then trailed his tongue along the lobe, then the inside of Harry's ear. Harry's cock gave an appreciative twitch. Draco chuckled. "Now that I've got you here, Harry, whatever am I going to do with you?"
Harry moaned and relaxed into Draco's touch. Anything you want, he thought. Anything at all.
~ FIN ~