Author's Note: So, this is the final chapter. Not really an epilogue, but just the end. Many thanks to Laurel and Shannon who both worked on this story with their mad beta skills. For anyone who cares, I'm finally trying out Twitter, though who knows how long that will last. I'm only using it for updates on my writing, both FanFiction and original works. I know it's useless to do so, and you prats are probably just going to look at the end to see if Draco's dead, but I'm going to implore you anyway to just read it as it's meant to be read, though I doubt any of you will listen. lol
Chapter 8 Ocean's Embrace
Harry nuzzled into the warmth of the body next to him and sighed. "I love you, Draco," he murmured, tracing fingertips along the contours of his lover's chest.
"Who the hell is Draco?" the man beside him asked and Harry opened his eyes with a start.
The man wrapped around him had long blond hair, regal features and a contemptuous mouth but he was only a sad imitation of the love Harry had lost a few short weeks before. Harry had spent his days on shore as much as possible, being on a ship just made his knees buckle with grief. He picked up a new man every night at the local tavern, the closer they looked to Draco the better, though he never had sex with any them, he just wanted to be held in a pair of strong arms as he fell into a fitful sleep. Albeit, their skin was never quite pale enough, their nails were never as pristinely manicured, and their arms never fit just right around him the way that Draco's had.
"He's not you," Harry whispered as he shifted away and buried himself deeper into the cool, empty covers. "You should go."
"You're just tossing me out? I don't even get a hand job?" the man hissed and Harry just turned over on his side away from the man as he lumbered over to his pile of clothes.
"No," Harry answered. "You don't."
"Bloody barking," the man muttered as he left the room, but Harry didn't care. Being back in his hometown did as little to assuage Harry's depression as the man who just left had done. It was no use really; Harry was inconsolable. He watched the days roll in and out as if he were no longer a part of them. He felt detached from it all; like he was simply waiting out the rest of his days until he could see his love again. He didn't sleep any more that night, because he knew if he did his dreams would be filled with blood and flames and smoldering gray eyes going blank with death.
He hadn't bothered to tell Ron why he was so despondent. The man never would have understood. His First Mate simply thought Harry was traumatized by his time spent captive and he lingered in the edge of Harry's life, waiting for Harry to retake command of the Mighty Griffin. Ron didn't know it yet, but Harry had no intentions of doing any such thing. Instead, he would sail back to the islands where he'd lost everything so that he might die by the ocean's hand at last. He felt it was only fitting that he succumb to the gentle blue waves he'd spent his entire life admiring.
Morning brought new torture. He was in London for a ceremony, which would acknowledge Harry for his bravery and his crowning achievements in the destruction of the Caribbean's piracy front. Receiving a medal for taking part, however inadvertently, in the death of his lover, the Dread Pirate Black, seemed an ill fitting way to remember his beautiful blond captor. He knew this day would be one of the worst since Draco's sudden death, but something made Harry go in spite of the pain and anguish the ceremony would bring him.
"Are you ready?" Ron asked when he came to collect his Captain. Regardless of how many times Harry reminded the redhead that he was no longer anyone's leader, his friend couldn't seem able to drop the title.
"As ready as I'll ever be," Harry sighed.
"You sound like you're being sent to the gallows, Harry," Ron sighed. He knew his friend must have endured extraordinary pains while captive on the Silver Serpent, but he couldn't understand how receiving a medal of valor and honor for his work in cleaning up the oceans could make him so glum – it had been the man's lifelong ambition after all.
"Sometimes I wish that was where we were off to, Ron," Harry whispered, imagining Draco's lovely face as he sailed in on a ghostly ship to come and carry him away. He knew it defied everything he knew of religion to think that Draco would be an angel, but to Harry he was every bit the savior wrapped in the package of a sinfully delicious pirate.
"Cheer up, Mate. You'll forget all about your time on the Serpent soon enough, you'll see," Ron replied, clapping his friend on the back. Harry gave him a tight-lipped smile and nodded, though he hoped his friend was wrong. He hoped he never lost the memory of his time with Draco, or those last few beautiful words the man whispered reverently into his ear.
'I love you.' The tender sentiment rang in Harry's mind like a death knell, he should have known better than to think he could have a chance at happiness; hadn't his entire life been proof that anything akin to it was ripped away from him almost as quickly as it was given? He saw Draco's stormy gray eyes lose their color right before him and it made his own well up with brand new tears. He blinked them away quickly and stood to follow his friend to their waiting carriage outside. He had to keep his shoulders straight and his lip from quivering if he was to have to kneel before the Queen.
The carriage ride was bumpy and long; long enough to allow Harry to fill his mind with more reasons why he should just escape this ceremony now before it was too late. How could he morally accept a medal for the death of a pirate he was in love with? Just the thought of his lover's limp form drifting through the ocean surf made Harry's guts twist and churn with grief. Part of him hated Ron for choosing that moment to rescue him, thereby destroying him at the same time, part of him hated himself for not taking the bullet for his lover or stopping the fray before his pirate was killed, and part of him hated Draco for not confessing his feelings sooner so that they could have been far away from the melee of that evening and still basking in the glow of one another's love.
When the carriage finally pulled to a stop in front of a stone pavilion, Harry reluctantly followed his First Mate out and toward the gathered crowd. A sea of crisp blue and ivory uniforms flooded his gaze and they all fell into line, saluting Harry as he passed through them toward the stage.
The Queen was to the side of the platform watching the procession with a tight smile and Admiral Dumbledore stood on the stage waiting, his piercing blue gaze twinkling with mirth. "Captain Potter," he greeted with a slight nod of his head. Harry saluted him dutifully and fell into place with Ron as they faced the Admiral, their backs to the waiting crowd.
"We're here to honor a man who has given his life's pledge to serve our Queen and end the piracy that has plagued the Caribbean shores. Under torture and threat of death, Captain Potter refused to give up his fight until the worst of the pirate leaders were dispatched. Even after his capture, Captain Potter rallied his crew from afar, his spirit never dying in the minds of his shipmates aboard the Mighty Griffin."
There was a hearty cheer from behind him and Harry could pick out the voices of his shipmates as they confirmed the Admiral's lofty speech. Harry knew it was all false though. He'd been treated with kindness and love up until his last moments aboard the Silver Serpent and he'd been dreading the day he would have to part from Draco's side. Even before the man's confession of love, Harry felt bound to him in a way he would never be able to explain to his crew.
"In recognition of his valor and triumphant return, Her Majesty the Queen wishes to bestow Captain Potter with the title of Commodore. Captain Potter, will you please approach the podium?" the Admiral requested, his handsome blade held aloft. Harry didn't move, he couldn't, and he felt his feet waver beneath him. Several months ago he would have kneeled to accept this promotion eagerly, but now the honor felt empty and without merit. He pictured himself up there, feeling the cool steel rest gently on each shoulder as he was rewarded for his hollow accomplishments and he couldn't do it.
"No," he whispered and Ron frowned at him before nudging his side.
"Harry, just go on," he prompted as the crowd looked on.
"I cannot. I'm sorry," he replied, bowing once to the Admiral and shooting Ron an apologetic look before fleeing the ceremony. He could hear gasps of dismay behind him as he jumped back into his waiting coach and bid the driver to take him to the harbor at once.
With the money in his pocket and his fleet reputation, Harry bought passage back to the Caribbean on the first departing ship. He had nothing with him aside from the uniform on his back and a little coin to trade for food and water along his journey, but it was hardly needed. He spent all his time on deck watching the murky waters of the English harbor give way to the sapphire blue of the ocean deep. He didn't think about what he had left behind or what Ron and his crew would think of him after leaving the way he had. Everything that mattered to him was now lost beneath the crystal clear Caribbean waters. A little over a week later Harry saw the fall colors of the New England shore and he knew he was now only a few days away from his destination. As the ocean grew paler, sparkling in the hot southern sun, Harry disembarked the ship at last in Barbados.
His polished shoes sunk uncomfortably into the sand as he wandered aimlessly along the pristine beach. He kicked them off roughly, freeing his feet from the confines of brittle leather and tall stockings and just left them where they lay - a harsh black contrast in the glittering white sand. When the area grew desolate and unpopulated, Harry started angling for the water, letting his toes squish into the wet sand at the shore, the tide lapping at his uniform trousers and soaking them through.
A choked sob lodged in his throat as he stared out over the horizon and watched the amber sun draw closer to the crystalline blue waters. Slowly, Harry unbuttoned his jacket and cast it roughly into the surf, watching as the waves brought it closer before sweeping it away again, as if tempting him with his old life only to yank it from his grasp once more. This game of tug-o-war waged on without much interest from the sullen man. Harry had no want to return to his role as Captain of the Mighty Griffin, or as Commodore of a fleet of even more ships. That life seemed like a ghost to him now, like a dream someone else was having somewhere very far away from the brink Harry was balancing on now.
His crisp white shirt went the way of his jacket, as did his hat as he let his skin drink up the last rays of sun while his hair blew unfettered in the breeze. The water rose up around him as he moved deeper into the waiting ocean, both warming his skin and making his heart grow icy with despair at the same time. The current whipped around him, pulling him into its dangerous embrace, but Harry didn't resist the ocean's seductive call, he welcomed it.
As the water rose over his chest, making his heirloom weightless around his neck, Harry pressed on. He knew that the consequences of his actions were likely to be fatal, but he had little care for them. He just wanted to be closer to Draco, needed to be closer to him, and this was the only way he knew to do it. Even when the salty flavor of his own death coated his tongue, Harry left the warning unheeded. When he could no longer touch the bottom, Harry dove under the ocean's surface and swam deeper as long as his breath would hold him. The current and his powerful legs had pulled him too far from shore for anyone passing by to rescue him now and he let his body drift along, not bothering to fight when the waves pulled him under.
His mind began to fight against him, his instincts taking over and demanding air, but he couldn't oblige it even had he wanted to. His body had flipped and turned in the churning waves so many times that he couldn't tell which way was up anymore. The water all around him shone with the sun's rays as it reflected through the clear water, it could have been coming from anywhere. But still his panic stricken body ordered him to breathe, only instead of fresh salty air, his lungs filled with the ocean's water and he gulped it down like a fine wine.
His brain began to shut down as he inhaled the watery death, lulling him into unconsciousness. Everything grew black around him as he slipped into nothingness, and he wished for a fleeting moment that he could see his lover's face one last time before he sank into oblivion.
Harry felt glorious lips on his own, tasting deeply of him before water expelled violently from his lungs, scratching his throat and splattering onto a rough-hewn deck. He coughed aggressively and it felt like his lungs wanted to lurch right out of his body. They punished him with sharp stabbing pains as he gasped down precious oxygen at last. His head was throbbing and his eyes blinked harshly against the blaring sunlight. "You put a great risk to that lovely neck of yours," a surly voice commented from nearby as Harry felt another painful slap to his back. Another bout of water escaped his body as he lay there shivering and gulping down heavy breaths of long deprived air.
"I was trying to die you twit," Harry growled, his veins filled with icy cold water at the man's lecherous words. He didn't want to be saved; he wanted to be with Draco. He squinted against the blazing sun, trying to take in his new surroundings.
"By drowning yourself?" the man laughed harshly. "Only Captain Potter would be so arrogant as to think he could defy his own body's survival instinct."
So, the man knew him, or at least knew of him. He supposed that was no big stretch out here in the Caribbean where he'd made a fearsome name for himself. He was definitely on a ship; he could sense that much by the gentle rocking of the waves and the billowing flap of the sails in the wind. He turned to face his ignorant rescuer and had to blink away frustration as his eyes lied to him. A shock of blond hair so white it competed with the sun filled his vision and Harry nearly sobbed aloud.
"I thought I'd lost you there for a minute," the man whispered, shifting closer to where Harry was lying; trying to shake away the mirage of Draco's beautiful face. "Harry," he said, "Harry love, can you hear me?"
"Draco?" Harry asked tentatively, wondering for the first time if it wasn't his mind playing tricks on him after all. Perhaps he'd died and Calypso was giving him his final reward.
The blond moved close enough to block the sun's glare and smiled down at Harry, his eyes that stormy gray that Harry had remembered, even ringed with red as they were. "It's me," he confirmed and Harry launched himself at the blond, pulling him into a violent kiss. Hallucination or not, Harry wanted him.
Draco chuckled as he held Harry tightly, only breaking their kiss to look into the man's emerald gaze. "Are we dead?" Harry asked, causing Draco to chuckle again as he guided Harry's hand to grip his growing erection through his trousers.
"Do I feel dead?" he asked, his voice a throaty whisper.
"I saw you die," Harry replied breathily, pulling back to study his lover's face.
"You saw me shot," Draco corrected, pulling his shirt open to reveal a mottled wound. It was nearly healed but it would surely leave a nasty scar.
"But they tossed you overboard," Harry gasped, unwilling to let himself believe that Draco was really there in his arms again, and that they were both alive and well. "They burned your ship."
Draco frowned, his forehead creasing in disdain. "Yes, that was rather unfortunate," he agreed, "though I was in no condition to stop it at the time. I can hardly complain now since it might have saved my life."
"What?" Harry balked. "How?"
"Another ship was near enough to see the fire and followed it like a beacon. They pulled me aboard along with three of my crew and mended me before sailing us to shore," he explained. "If your crew hadn't set the ship ablaze I would have bled out in the water."
"This was the ship that rescued you?" Harry asked, looking around. There was no crew in sight and Draco helped Harry to his feet as he led the man shakily up a flight of stairs and into the captain's quarters.
"No," he replied, looking mildly amused at Harry's confusion. "I commandeered this one from Tortuga."
"You stole it," Harry stated, pursing his lips in disapproval.
"That's such a harsh word, Harry," Draco replied, inclining his head in thought. "I merely borrowed it for an untold amount of time."
"So, you plan to give it back?" Harry asked skeptically.
"You never know," Draco replied with a shrug. "It could happen."
A bark of laughter escaped Harry's lips as he stared at his beautifully unapologetic pirate. He didn't care what the man did as long as he still loved him. He kissed his lover again to show the blond as much, and Draco returned the affection with fervor.
"It's a good thing you never took that off," Draco commented when they broke apart, his fingers lingering on the amulet around Harry's neck.
"Why?" Harry asked, looking terribly perplexed.
"I could feel it pulling me to you. We were sailing in the opposite direction when I felt you call out to me, I couldn't resist your plea even if I had wanted to," he whispered. "That's powerful magic you wear around you neck."
"It keeps me safe," Harry replied, knowing it was true even as he said the words. He'd never put the two pieces together, but now that he thought about it, his whole life had changed the day he slipped this necklace around his neck. He'd always known deep down that there was something special about it, more than just his inheritance and the lost memory of his parents.
"Its power lies with the ocean," Draco told him mysteriously. "It's what brought you to me in the first place. So long as you're attuned to the water, the gods will give you whatever you desire."
The news should have been more of a surprise to Harry than it was, but all he could do was smirk in return. "I suppose you're stuck with me then, because all I want in the entire world is you."
"Lucky me," Draco purred as he grabbed his lover's waist and kissed him passionately. They'd already spent too much time apart and Draco had worried that he'd never get to see Harry again before he felt the amulet's pull. Now he knew more than ever that he had no reason part the man from his heirloom, he could simply cling to his love and reap the benefits of Harry's good fortune at his side. He and Harry could be happy together as they grew old and leathery under the warm tropical sun and the salty spray of the ocean they both cherished so dearly. In fact, the only thing Draco loved more than the ocean was being a pirate, but there was still one thing he loved even more than either of those and that thing was kissing a hot trail along his neck.
It seemed Captain Harry Potter could make a suitable pirate after all, because the raven-haired man had certainly plundered his heart.
Author's Note: Well, I'm happy that the story ended up being longer than I anticipated, though it's been mentioned that it could have been longer still. It was only supposed to be a crack!fic that I worked on in my spare time but I was happy to give it a spot in my normal rotation when the story started fleshing out. I think it works best as a short story, but that's just my opinion and you all are certainly welcome to your own. Also, I've started using my neglected Twitter account for updating my story schedule, so if anyone else has an account, follow me!