One Thousand Pearls
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any affiliated characters. They are the work of J.K. Rowling and I make no profit. This story was based off the manga 'Mister Mermaid' by Setona Mizushiro, which in turn, was based off the classic, 'The Little Mermaid', which I'm sure most of you are familiar with.
Warning: slash (boy x boy) and het (boy x girl), nothing graphic, mermen/maids, OOC, AU.
Thanks to: Maurauders-And-Lily-I-Love, for doing an excellent job at beta-ing this fic. Any mistakes you see are my fault, or the computer's fault for doing auto-corrections where we don't realise it. And thank you to all of you who have read and reviewed so far!
Hope you enjoy!
Chapter One: The Prince
How could anyone place a value on life?
Waves crashed against the cliff-face, roiling about in the sea, in a wild storm that encompassed the land and ocean. The rain felt chilling and sharp against his pale, clammy skin. Above him, the full moon was the only light as far as the naked eye could see.
And what was the point in life…
A deep breath – inhale, exhale – salt-laden air rushed through his lungs; he hated it. The white button-up shirt he wore was soaked through, clinging to every surface of his skin. His platinum-blond hair was darkened with rain, the wet strands plastered to his forehead and framing his angular face. He could feel the sparse grass and sandy-soil underfoot. One step forward to freefall.
… when it all ended in death?
It was the reflection of the full moon on the water that connected the world of the mermen with the land of the humans. On a night like this, Harry watched from his position, perched on a deep-sea rock, as the lone moon ruled the sky and cast a sphere of opalescent white on The Surface – a place his father had explicitly forbid him from approaching.
There were no other mermaids around, opting instead to attend the magical party that took place at the Palace. Everyone was celebrating the Full Moon Festival, in recognition of the first full moon of the year. The King, James Potter, was ruler of the Deep Sea, a protective father who had only the best interests for his sole heir to the throne.
In compromise for the protection of his only son, it also meant relinquishing the prince's freedom. Harry resented it. He had snuck out of the Palace to be alone. No one would miss him, not really. He had always been an obedient boy, always listening to his father, never questioning the world outside the Palace walls. Sheltered as he was though, he still felt a longing to go to the Surface today. Something was pulling him towards it.
So here he was, settled on a rock a safe distance away from the Palace – not too far so that he would be lost, but not too close so that he would be easily spotted. From here, he had an incredible view of the doorway between his world and the world of man. Harry's eyes shone in amazement as he gazed at the beautiful moon, not hidden by the windows of his home.
It was then that he noticed something silhouetted in the light of the round moon, one that was steadily sinking to the ocean floor. A spike of fear shot down his spine as he realised it was a body, and he mounted into action. He shot up instantly, his beautiful, translucent flippers propelling him easily through the water. His smooth, emerald green scales were unique to the Royal Family, but more so to Prince Harry.
The body fell into his arms effortlessly, cradled by the water that made everything seem almost weightless. Harry studied the man that had sunk the depths of the ocean into his arms intently. He was tall and well-built. If Harry had been on land, with legs like the ones this man had, he was sure he would have collapsed under his build if he had caught him.
But the water helped him, holding the man up where he could not. The man was handsome, with a strong, angular jaw, a straight nose and deliciously high cheekbones. Blond hair, the lightest Harry had ever seen, was floating about the man's head like a golden halo. The prince took only a few moments to appraise the man's body (he was human after all, and would need air very soon), and learned that he was still very much alive.
The prince froze where he floated as he caught sight of his best friend, Ron, swimming through the water at breakneck speed. Ron had been assigned as a bodyguard when they were only children, because Harry refused to accept one the old, bulky ones his father had favoured. As such, Ron was built like a tank, but even he was matched equally by the man in Harry's arms.
The red-head was furious. "What do you think you're doing out of the palace?! Everyone is in uproar. You leave that-that- what are you doing?!"
Harry smiled at him sadly, "I'm taking him back to the surface."
"Just leave him there! Someone else will take care of it. A human that has reached this far has been long dead," Ron snapped, intending to pull Harry back in the direction of safety. But the raven-haired prince refused.
"No, he's still alive. He's unconscious, so he hasn't swallowed any water."
"Leave it be, Harry! I'm serious! Harry! Come back here!" Ron shouted, unable to do anything but follow when his orders fell on deaf ears. He trailed behind his prince as they approached The Surface. Just before they broke the surface of the water, Prince Harry stopped.
"I will take him back to the shore. Remain here, Ronald."
The prince only ever referred to him as Ronald whenever it was an order he had to obey. Between the wrath of the king and the prince's expression of disappointment, he'd put himself under the king's fury any day. Harry had a habit of making anyone feel bad when they disappointed him, and it was a feeling that Ron hated. So he obeyed the prince, remaining unmoving as the magnificent figure swam away with his precious burden.
Harry broke through The Surface and began to tread water. He waded through to the shore, feeling a magical tingle shoot down his spine, and suddenly, his body felt very, very heavy and weak. He collapsed as gravity pulled the weight of the man down atop him, as in the place of his fins, he had two very solid, very real legs.
Astounded, Harry set the man down on the sand and ran one hand along the smooth skin of his right leg. It was wet and slightly slimy but that was to be expected when mermaids left the water at first. Turning back to the man, he smiled softly to himself.
My name is Harry, he almost ached to say, but couldn't. It was part of the enchantment that kept his kingdom hidden from the humans. If humans were to enter their water sanctuary, they would be unable to live there due to suffocation from lack of air. If mermen were to leave the kingdom and enter land, they would lose their voices, unable to speak of the place from whence they came, or else the enchantment would break. They would lose their legs and, despite having fins, would be unable to return to the ocean.
The prince left a gentle kiss on the man's freezing forehead, brushing the blond fringe away from the handsome face before he tentatively rose from where he stood and wobbled back unsurely into the water.
Turning back, he smiled as he saw the moonlight bathe his one-time acquaintance in an ethereal glow before he returned to the Palace.
"Draco! Hey, Draco!"
The blond in question turned when he heard his name being addressed and gave the approaching man and woman a quirked smile. "Hello Blaise, Pansy."
The tall, dark-haired man grinned as he patted Draco just between his shoulder blades. "I heard from Millicent that you were released from hospital a few days ago. How're you feeling?"
"Well enough to open up my restaurant again," Draco informed him with a wry smile. He nodded once at Pansy, then said, "You two should come by, sometime. Give me a bit of a kick start."
"Sure thing, Drake. Hey, we have to go. We have a dinner appointment. Pansy came back from Japan last month. You missed a lot," Blaise relayed, one arm slung around his fiancé's shoulder. "See you around, yeah?"
"Yeah, see you," and with that, Draco continued on his way home.
Pansy shot her beloved a curious look. "What do you mean, 'released from hospital'? What happened when I was gone?"
Blaise's smiling expression at Draco's back turned sad immediately at the mention of Draco's hospital stay. It was something their group of friends had decided not to talk about, at least, not directly to Draco's face. "About two months ago, Draco fell into the ocean and washed up on shore. Some locals found him and took him to hospital. He had pneumonia and hypothermia from being out in the storm and then under water for so long. He said that it was just an accident – that he slipped and fell in. Others… others say that it was a suicide attempt."
It had been two months since Harry had rescued the human from the sea-depths. Two very restless months. He yearned to see that man again. The Palace was suffocating – Harry hated being there now that he had had a glimpse, a taste of the outside world, one that was further out than the castle walls.
It would be a while until the next full moon, but there was no point in waiting, because there was no chance he would ever be able to leave the palace again. King James had put him on house arrest, and Harry, resentfully, obeyed his father's order. Not only Ron, but a full set of bodyguards were to be around him at all times.
He hated it.
His mother, the beautiful Queen Lily, had tried to compromise with her husband, but the deep-sea ruler was unyielding. Harry would stay within the Palace walls at all times, and there were to be a minimum of five mermen guarding whatever room he was in, excluding Ron.
Harry was sick of it. He'd had enough, and he had to escape from them. He knew just what to do.
"Do you know what you ask of me, young Prince?"
Harry kept his head bowed respectfully, his tone contrite as he rephrased his command to a request, "I apologise, Sorcerer Dumbledore. Please, I beg of you, free me from captivity at the Palace. Grant me a life above The Surface, please!"
The age-wizened wizard watched with pitying blue eyes as the Prince sank to the ground, his tail tucked behind him in submission. "All I ask of you is that you give me this chance. I will do anything."
Albus Dumbledore sighed as the prince, who he had come to regard and love as a grandson, begged him for an escape to a place where no mermaid would voluntarily wish to go. He knew, first hand, that the Land of Man was no paradise. It was war-torn, overflowing with poverty and starvation. Not only that, but they poisoned the home of the mermaids, releasing toxins into their waters. They fished for their friends and consumed them without realising that all the fish they ate could have been family to others.
Such disgusting, filthy creatures. Which is why they must never find out about the Underwater Kingdom. They would taint it. Yet the Prince… Prince Harry! The prince who was gentle, kind and forgiving; who sacrificed so much for others… that he would do such a foolish, reckless thing! It was preposterous!
But that was where Sorcerer Dumbledore's weakness lay – he loved the Prince too much, and despite everything, was willing to grant him this one wish.
"You know the conditions, my prince," Dumbledore reminded Harry, who gave a clear nod of his head and rose to his full height.
"Yes, Sorcerer Dumbledore. I relinquish my voice and my identity for however long I remain in the Land of Man."
"I will grant you one month," Dumbledore said, his voice soft and pained. "You are the Prince, and I cannot allow you to leave any further than that."
"It is more than enough. I just wish… to see him again…" the prince whispered, willing away the tiny pearls that slipped out of his eyes as the wizard awkwardly patted his head with leathery hands.
"And you will, if you know where to look. My magic will take you to the shores. Until such a time that you will need me again, I will disappear. Summon me when the full moon of the next month appears. I will bring you back home."
Harry felt his heart jolt up into his throat as he woke up, facedown and drenched upon the shore he had deposited the blond man's body. He wriggled in the wet sand, slightly comforted by the water he could feel lapping against his legs.
Legs. He had legs!
And that was when he sat up in shock, hands reaching for the two body appendages he had seen weeks before. He gave a cry of amazement, or would have, until he realised with a jolt of sadness that he had had to give up his voice. His hands clasped at his throat and Harry tried to make a sound, but to no avail. He sighed – at least he could do that – but he couldn't form any words at all.
Well. The magic had granted him legs in exchange for his voice. Now he had to promise never to reveal his identity to anyone, or else he would lose his legs where he stood and they would be replaced by fins. With a sad smile, he also noticed that he was clothed, wet, yes, but clothed. Pants, 'soks', 'shoos', the whole lot. He made a discontent sound when he realised that the feeling of wet socks against his feet were very uncomfortable. In fact, wet clothing altogether was an unpleasant feeling. He would have stripped himself, but managed to stop himself at the last minute.
Humans had to wear clothes. Dumbledore had warned him against going bare anywhere. Harry sighed and stood on shaky feet. At least he could walk. He staggered around the beach for a few minutes, getting accustomed to having to balance his body. After trudging through the sand, he saw some sandy steps leading up to the street above. Harry made his way up the stairs, hands grasping tight to the handrails as he pulled himself up.
The sudden approach of a fast contraption zooming by startled Harry so much, that he let go of the rails and fled in the opposite direction, colliding hard against a firmly muscled body. His legs shook as the man held his arms steady, irritated yet concerned eyes staring into his own.
"Are you okay?"
Harry stared at the man in shock, recognising that blond hair and face, but those slate-grey eyes were beautiful from the moment they had locked onto Harry's impossibly green. The man repeated his question, his face betraying his disgust when he realised that Harry was still dripping wet and that the front of his shirt was now plastered against his toned stomach.
Harry nodded dumbly, watching as the man let go of his arms and shifted the plastic bags in his arms. "Well then, don't just stand there or run into people. If it was an accident, you have to apologise."
Harry opened his mouth, but was unable to make a sound. Interpreting Harry's inability to say sorry as either shock or arrogance, the man huffed and pushed Harry aside. "Fine. And good riddance."
The man shook his head in disbelief as he carried on in the direction he had been heading, leaving Harry to gape after him. Once the man had disappeared over the hill, Harry turned back, only to have nearly another heart attack when two more speed contraptions noisily came around the corner and raced off again. Holding a hand against his chest, Harry began to meander off in the direction the man ahd come from. He held a hand against his chest and began to meander off in the direction the man had come from.
Harry didn't know how much time had passed but it was swiftly getting darker and darker. Humans weren't very nice creatures – they tended to give Harry strange looks and gave him wide breadth of space when he was walking, but aside from that, they ignored him. Plus, his feet hurt. He sighed as he leaned against a street guardrail, pulling off one of his 'shoos' to rub at his sore feet. He didn't understand why humans wanted to have feet! Honestly, having a mer-tail was infinitely better!
It took Harry a moment to realise that he had no idea where he was, or what he would do to survive when he came ashore. How stupid and foolhardy this idea had been! He should have followed the man, but perhaps that man may have gotten the wrong message if Harry were to follow him around...
Plus, it seemed that humans like to walk in swarms, which complicated things a little as he was hustled and bustled about when there was no room for people to make room. In addition to that, the place he had ended up in, a city, he remembered learning at the palace, was full of speeding contraptions that had Harry jumping out of his skin when he saw the traffic that lined the streets.
Sighing to himself, he sat down on a nearby bench and looked around. The sunlight had provided enough warmth to dry his clothes in the day, but now that it was setting, he could feel the chill of the night set in and rubbed his arms in an attempt to stay warm.
With another cursory glance, Harry recognised the man from earlier walking amidst the crowd on the opposite side of the street. Hoping the man would recognise him, Harry teetered and tottered onto the kerb and stepped into the street. But being unable to judge the depth between the bitumen and the pavement, Harry toppled over into the path of an oncoming car.
He heard a woman's shrill cry of terror almost too late, registering the screech of wheels, and burnt rubber against tarmac. Shutting his eyes, he anticipated the pain of impact, but when none happened, he opened his eyes and shakily got to his feet. He could hear a man's angry voice screaming at him, calling him a 'dumbass' and to not wander into the street. Heart pounding in his ears, he looked up again to see the man on the other side of the street, staring back curiously. The traffic had stopped around him and he quickly made his way across the road.
Harry stared up at the man, who quirked an eyebrow in amusement.
Harry blinked and smiled to show he had understood the man. He sighed and grasped Harry's upper arm and pulled him along, away from any onlookers who were still chattering about Harry's near accident. "Is there something you want from me?" the man asked softly, his gentle belied by the firm, almost painful, grip he had on Harry's arm.
Harry opened his mouth, having forgotten that he was unable to speak. When no sound came out, the other man made a frustrated sound and let go of Harry's arm in annoyance. He turned to leave in a huff, but Harry reached out to grasp the back of the blond's shirt with a slender hand.
He turned swiftly, voice raised as he hissed, "Just say what you want to say, then leave!" Harry opened his mouth again, pointing to it, but the man misunderstood him for begging for food and turned away in disgust.
"Look, just stay off the pathways, okay mate? I don't have time to save the world. My own life is a mess as it is," the last part was muttered more to himself than to Harry, but the man turned around anyway and made a quick escape. Harry could only stare after him as he left. Well, there was nothing for it. Harry had to find his way back to the shore where he had arrived and get back home. He realised, belatedly, that this was a bad idea from the start.
The man was already far away by the time Harry made it to the beach. He wandered into the water, lip curling as he felt the strong waves knock against legs, forcing him onto his knees. He closed his eyes and waited for the magic to happen, to bring him back.
Harry opened his eyes when he realised that nothing was happening. Scanning the surface of the rippling water, he saw a sliver of a reflection. Feeling a cold chill swim down his spine, his head snapped towards the sky and saw the waning gibbous moon. He'd just missed it. But of course! Dumbledore had sent him to the Surface on the night of a full moon, meaning that he would have to wait yet another month before he could return home. New moons were not as powerful as the full moons, but the activity of sea creatures usually rose around these times. That was why the gateway between the two worlds was opened.
And if the situation could get any worse, he felt the telltale droplet of rain on his forehead. Within minutes, the rainfall had picked up speed and he was nearly dragged underwater by the force of it with the tides. Crawling towards the shore, Harry bumped into two solid legs and glanced up when he felt no rain above him.
The blond man, Harry realised, he is holding another human invention, one that prevents rain. The man stared down at Harry blankly and shook his head. "You. Again. You're really something, you know."
He huffed as he pulled Harry up by the scruff of his shirt and wrapped a strong arm around an alarmingly thin waist (to keep the waifish boy warm, the blond told himself). "C'mon, you can come home with me," he said gruffly, "I'm Draco. What's your name?" Harry opened his mouth and pointed to it once again, then pointed to his throat.
Draco stared at him for a moment before it finally, finally sunk in. "You can't speak?" Harry nodded his head excitedly, glad that Draco had finally understood him. Perhaps the man had been too irritated to deal with Harry before.
Regardless, he was in safe hands now. "Then, I suppose I'll have to apologise for my rude behaviour earlier. Let's get to shelter, and we can get to know each other after you've had a warm shower."
Harry could only wonder what 'shelter' and a 'shower' meant. Perhaps it was where Draco lived, and a shower was some sort of food. Harry's stomach gave an answering grumble, to which Draco smirked. "You're hungry. Well then, you're in luck. It just so happens that I'm a great chef, so I'll whip up something for you when we get back, okay?"
Harry nodded and huddled closer to Draco, his feet slightly unsteady with every step they took towards the stairs. They climbed it slowly, Draco seeming to understand that Harry was weakened from lack of food, and the cold and wet. It was a ten minute walk before they finally made it to 'home', according to Draco. Harry realised that this was Draco's palace, where he lived. Smiling to himself, Draco ushered Harry into the entrance hallway, which was spacious and airy.
Regardless, the temperature inside Draco's palace was a lot warmer than outside, Harry noted. Harry also noticed that there seemed to be a loud murmuring of human voices nearby. Draco sat Harry down in a comfortable chair and told him to wait there for a while. "Stay here, I'll be back in a moment with some towels."
Draco could feel a headache coming on. The restaurant was as busy as ever, but for some reason, they didn't seem to be making as much money as usual. Prices were rising, and not only that, but Draco had had to go out and buy more groceries that only he could get a special discount on. Not to mention that weird guy that he kept running into everywhere...
'Why, again, did I bring him home with me?!' Frowning, Draco made his way through the kitchen, noting that the pile of dishes seemed to be growing and growing, while Hermione was busy pacing herself through four dishes simultaneously. And where the bloody hell was Astoria?
Through the kitchen and into the restaurant, his eyes narrowed when he saw the fair-haired girl sitting by a group of older men, smiling and twirling a lock of her hair coyly around her finger. Walking up to them, he cleared his throat and glared at her pointedly.
"If you have enough time to stop and chat, then you have time to clean the dishes. Go on. You need to give Hermione a break from cooking once in a while as well," Draco ordered with a scowl. He wasn't clueless as to what Astoria's goal was. She knew about their money problem and planned to lure these men into her bed and sleep with them for additional income. Because she was so beautiful, sometimes men would also give her expensive gifts. Draco would not have any of it.
He gave the irritated men a strained smile and apologised, "I'm sorry, but she is one of my staff members, and as such, is currently on duty. Is there anything I can get for you?"
The three men all stood up and, without another word, promptly left the restaurant. Draco sighed, ignoring the concerned customers around him. He made a swift departure, remembering his 'guest' that was still waiting in the entrance hall. He quickly took a large towel from the linen closet and jogged back to where the young man sat, in the same position Draco had left him.
"Here you go," Draco handed him the towel. "I'll show you to the bathroom, where you can get cleaned up. Come back down here for dinner, okay?"
Draco led Harry up some stairs, to a narrow hallway where there were four doors. Draco indicated to each one of them, "This is Astoria's room. You should never go in there. My room, likewise. This is our guestroom, where you can stay for tonight, and finally, the bathroom," Draco paused to open the door for Harry, revealing a bathroom that was decorated mostly in blue tiles with white walls. There was a bathtub, a shower and a sink, plus another sliding door that led to the 'toilet'.
"I'll leave you to it then," Draco quirked his lips in what would probably be a small smile, and then left quickly to go downstairs. Harry blinked after him then stepped into an area with a silver-covered hole in the middle of it. There was a long, snake-like tube hanging on the wall, attached to a spout that was dripping water. Harry knew that humans didn't require clothes when they bathed, so he gingerly peeled off the wet clothing and left them on the sink.
He stared at the spout for a moment, then tentatively touched a lever that protruded from the wall. Nothing happened. Harry pulled it and nearly jumped out of his skin when a jet of hot water blasted from the spout onto his chest. He opened his mouth in a soundless cry and jumped back, startled. He watched as steam rose from the hot water and tilted his head to the side, confused as to how such a thing worked.
Harry twisted the handle to the other side and realised that the water came out noticeably cooler. He stuck his hand into it, a little cold, but nothing he wasn't already used to. Harry stepped under the spout and let the water run over his head. Curious as to how water came out of a spout in the wall, Harry peered up into it, seeing the tiny little holes that produced the water. How fascinating!
Once he'd amused himself enough with the shower, Harry took the towel Draco had given him and wrapped himself up in it. Remembering that the blond had told him to come down to dinner, Harry soundlessly made his way downstairs, wobbling slightly on his feet.
He had almost made it to where the 'kitchen' was, when he heard a loud scream and then felt something hit the back of his head rather painfully. He winced, and blinked back the pearls, and turned to see a red-faced human glaring at him.
"Who-who are you? How did you get in here?! Why aren't you wearing clothes?!" she shrieked, "Draco! DRACO!"
Said man rushed into the entrance hall and his face reddened when he saw a startled Harry standing in nothing but a towel, and a blushing Astoria yelling for the entire world to hear. "Astoria, shut up and go help close up the restaurant. You don't need to scream like a banshee, for fucks sake," Draco snarled, grabbing Harry's arm and pulling him back upstairs.
"Sorry about that. I forgot to give you clothes," Draco said, rather softly as he finally let go of Harry's arm, "I'll lend you my pyjamas, since it's night time already."
Harry followed Draco into one of the rooms – Draco's bedroom – and waited patiently at the door while the blond disappeared into his wardrobe. He returned moments later with a bundle of clothing that felt soft and was covered from top to bottom in navy green and blue stripes. There was also a pile of undergarments for him to wear. Draco sent him off to the en suite bathroom while he went to collect Harry's clothes and put them in the laundry hamper.
Harry wondered at the making of such clothes. They felt different to the ones that Dumbledore had gifted him with. He put the boxers on first, knowing that they were worn under the clothes, followed by a pair of sleep pants that were far too big, pooling at his feet. He slipped on the un-buttoned shirt, which fell to mid-thigh. Shuffling across the room, he met Draco in the hallway.
The blond man blinked at him, and appraised Harry from top to bottom. Then the man flushed and turned away quickly. "Come. Let's get you something to eat. You must be starved."
They made their way downstairs, back to the kitchen, where Harry saw a small table that was set with various amounts of food. "Sorry that they're leftovers," Draco said, as he pulled out a chair for Harry and gestured to each plate. "We have a great variety of seafood..." he trailed off at the look of abject horror on Harry's face, "...err, or if you don't like seafood," he motioned for Hermione to take the dishes away, "there is chicken, and beef, a lot of salad, fruits..."
Harry tentatively tried the chicken and the beef, but decided he didn't like those either. He ate a lot of the vegetables though, and loved the fruit. "Hmm, you must be some sort of vegetarian then," Draco mused out-loud, laughing when he saw Harry smile at him with an orange skin stuck over his teeth, "Brat. Finish up and leave the dishes. Astoria will take care of them."
"You deserve it, for wasting time like that with your useless prostitution."
"Don't say that in front of your guest!" Astoria exclaimed, her face growing hot.
"I don't think he understands what prostitution means, idiot," Draco retorted coolly, turning his back on the fuming girl. 'Actually, that is something I do understand,' Harry thought, his face tinging a slight pink. He ate his fruit as quickly as possible, smiling when the other lady – the one with bushy, brown hair tied up in a 'fishing?' net – gave him a glass of water, which he gratefully drank down. There was something strange about relying solely on air. Humans were so strange.
"Why is he staying here, anyway?" Astoria huffed from where she was washing some pots. She looked over her shoulder at the raven-haired boy who was tentatively chewing on a slice of watermelon.
"He can't speak. I don't think he's even got a place to go. I couldn't just leave him out on the beach, in the rain," Draco explained as he wiped down the counters.
"Another stray, then?" Hermione shot him a teasing smile, while Draco glared and Astoria seemed to tense.
"He's my guest, not something I just picked up off the streets," Draco sniffed as he placed the dirty rag near the sink and peeked out into the restaurant area. "Everyone's gone home, then?"
"Yeah. It's just us, now," Hermione smiled as she turned to see that Harry was done eating, before taking the empty plates to the sink where Astoria just groaned louder. "Well, I had best be off. I'll see you two on Monday. Bye!" The woman removed her apron, hanged it up behind the door, picked up her bag from the closet and left. It was usually just Draco and Astoria on the weekends, when business was a lot calmer.
There was a long period of silence, where Astoria cleaned the dishes and handed them to Draco to dry and put away. "Of all the times for the stupid dishwasher to break," Astoria grumbled, shoving another wet plate in Draco's direction. The blond barely had time to catch it, shooting a dark look at the resentful girl. Finally, the last plate was handed to Draco to dry. The girl threw down her sponge, took off her rubber gloves and threw them down beside the sink.
"I'm going to bed. Goodnight," she growled, storming out of the kitchen. Draco winced when the door slammed shut behind her.
Harry stared after her, gnawing on his bottom lip. Upon seeing the worried expression on Harry's face, Draco smiled and shook his head. "Don't worry about her. She's just a leech. But I could use a little help around here, so she earns her keep by doing the dishes and stuff. Say, what's your name?"
Harry blinked and then pointed to his mouth and shook his head. The blond remembered that Harry couldn't talk and rushed into the next room, coming back moments later with a pad of papers and a pen. He handed them to Harry, who wrote his name down with steady penmanship.
"Harry," Draco read his name out loud. "Just 'Harry'? That's it?"
Harry nodded eagerly, not wanting to say his surname in case the blond would somehow recognise him and throw him back into the sea.
"Well, okay, Harry. Time for bed," Draco made sure to switch off all the appliances and then turned off the light behind him. Hermione would always lock the restaurant from the other side, so there were no worries there. Draco led him back upstairs, to the spare guestroom.
"Here you go. Have a goodnight. Breakfast is at eight, so be down in the kitchen at that time. Goodnight."
Draco closed the door behind him as he left Harry's room and made his way to bed. Harry, on the other hand, stared at the closed door for a few moments before hugging the notepad and pen to his chest. If he could make any sound, he would probably be squealing right now. He had finally met him. Draco. The man he had saved from the water.
Harry placed the notebook on the bedside table and then crawled into bed, drawing the covers up to his chin. Within a few moments, he was sound asleep.
The next morning, a Saturday, brought sunshine and cool weather upon the restaurant. Harry was glad that it wasn't raining – it seemed to cause a lot of troubles for Draco. Harry made his way downstairs to see Astoria and Draco arguing in the kitchen.
"It's too early for your banshee screaming. Go chop some onions," Draco ordered, pointing at a meat cleaver and a sack of brown bulbs. The girl stuck her tongue out at him and whirled off to finish the task. Draco turned to see Harry shuffle into the kitchen timidly.
"Hey, Harry," he greeted, eyes lighting up at the sight of the bedraggled figure,"I figured you'd feel bad about leeching food from us, so you can earn your keep by working here as well."
The blond man directed Harry to the counter where Astoria was clumsily chopping onions. "Here you go," handing Harry a rather sharp looking knife, Draco left them to it. "I'll need those chopped onions soon, so you'd better not get distracted!"
Harry nodded, determined that he would help Draco out as much as he could. He watched as Astoria cleaved an onion in half, and then set it down to slice. Without further instruction, Harry began to follow as she did, deftly chopping the onion into slices without a problem.
"You're really good at that," Astoria murmured from beside him. Harry glanced up and gave her a shy smile. "Here you go," she shoved the rest of the onions in his direction, and then made her way out of the door, "Smoke break."
Harry frowned at her retreating back, glancing back to where Draco was preparing some ingredients. Harry continued to chop the onions without complaint until he realised one problem – they were making him cry. He didn't know what it was, but he could feel the pearls welling up and was unable to stop them from leaking out. They tinkled softly to the edge of the chopping board. He quickly finished slicing the onions and ran to the sink to wash his face.
"Astoria! Where are my onions?!"
The girl rushed back into the room before Draco could even turn around, too busy with his ingredients. "Here they are!" she grabbed the bowl that Harry had finished and was about to take them to Draco when she noticed a few pearly, white beads scattered over the countertop. She picked one up out of curiosity. "Pearls?"
"COMING!" she shouted back, tossing the pearls to the floor, "Nah, they couldn't be."
Harry straightened from where he had finished rinsing his hands and face. 'Wow... that actually hurt my eyes a lot!'
Draco had finally closed the store for the day, since they finished at noon, and was putting away some of the clean dishtowels, when he noticed a small, plastic packet filled with what appeared to be... "Pearls...? No way... Astoria!"
The girl rushed into the kitchen, Harry in tow. After spending the day together, they seemed to get along well. Harry was a good listener, and Astoria... well, she was a good talker. She could talk a person's head off, if she really tried.
Draco strode up to the girl and the next thing Harry knew, she was clutching her face in pain, a red welt in the shape of Draco's palm blooming on her cheek. "Where the fuck did you get this?"
"I didn't! I didn't buy it, I promise!"
"Bullshit!" Draco slapped her again. "How the fuck did you get your hands on these pearls?!"
"A... a customer gave them to me," she sobbed, tears trickling from her eyes as she clutched her pained cheek. Draco was so infuriated and he snatched up her arm tightly, clutching her in a grip that would probably bruise later.
"How many times have I told you to give that shit up? I don't need you to sell yourself for money. We're doing fine as we are!" Draco shouted, eyes flashing furiously.
"Like hell we are!" Astoria screamed back, "Don't you get it? The business is dying, you can barely keep up with the rent as it is. We're barely making any profit, Draco! I'm NOT going to just sit back and let you earn income on your own."
"You stupid girl! I'm working for the both of us. I'm working so that you don't have to!"
"Oh lay off! You're not my father, Draco. It's not your duty to look after me, so just leave me the fuck alone!" she screamed, pushing him away and storming out of the room. Draco stared after her before he threw the packet of pearls to the side and collapsed to the floor in a heap.
Harry was torn between following Astoria and going to Draco, but seeing the man look so defeated pained him so. He scrambled to where Draco was kneeling and hesitantly put an arm around his slumped shoulders.
"I don't get it..." Draco whispered almost brokenly after a moment of silence, "How... how did it come to this? I don't even remember when it got so bad..."
Harry shook his head and held Draco to him, trying to comfort him as much as he possibly could. He let Draco rest his head against his shoulder for a while longer. "I just... I just want to take care of her..."
Harry watched as the man broke down, an unexplainable feeling whirling in his chest. 'Why... why would he tell me something like that? Being able to speak doesn't mean one should speak at all...'
Draco finally pulled away and staggered upstairs without another word. Harry watched him go, heart aching in his chest.
'Humans are so strange...'
Harry was sitting at the steps by the beach when he heard footsteps behind him. "That's my seat," Astoria said gruffly, plopping down beside him on the sandy steps.
Harry blinked at her then gave her shy smile, which she returned, although it looked rather strained. She pulled out a carton of cigarettes and offered one to Harry, "Smoke?" which he rejected. They sat in silence, watching the waves crash against the shore for a few minutes until Astoria finished her cigarette and tossed it into the sand.
"Did you know," she began, breathing in the salty ocean wind, before turning to smile at Harry, "that you are Draco's type? Pretty, and calm... and doesn't talk back."
Harry didn't know if he should be offended that she was calling him pretty, but she gave him another weak smile and then turned back to the sea. "I used to be that way. My parents practically raised me to be a lady. I hated it, so I ran away. I ran to Draco..." she put her head between her arms and crystalline tears trickled slowly down her cheeks. "But he hates me now. He can't stand me. All I wanted to do was help him out," her breath hitched and Harry was unsure if he should give her a hug or not, "but the harder I tried, the further I seemed to push him away."
Harry could feel pearls welling up again and quickly blinked them away before Astoria saw them – they were what got her into trouble in the first place. "I'm useless. I don't have a high-school degree. I ran away before I could finish. I can barely cook, I'm lousy at cleaning and I've got a horrible attitude to boot. I'm useless."
Harry shook his head, but realised that she couldn't see him. So he took out his notepad and scrawled, 'I think you're pretty' on it, holding it up for her to see. She glanced up when he tapped her shoulder and she gave him a watery smile.
"Thanks, Harry," she laughed softly, "But you're not my type."
He blushed at her words, and then wrote, 'Draco thinks you're pretty, too.'
"Pretty annoying," she scoffed, gazing at the wide expanse of sand and sea. Harry barely managed to hold back an exasperated sigh. Then she turned to him, and offered the first genuine smile he had seen. "Do you really think so?"
"Really, really think so?"
He nodded again. Astoria reached for the notepad and ripped out the page, before folding it and holding it up. "I'm going to keep this, if it's alright with you."
Harry nodded again. It wasn't of any use to him, really. Humans were weird! In his peripheral vision, he saw Astoria pocket the paper and then stand. "Let's head back." He nodded and stood as well. Harry glanced out to sea, the sun already beginning to set.
'Home... I can't go home yet. Not until I see Draco finally happy. I won't go.'
It was with sorrow that Harry realised he only had half a month left with Draco, before the next full moon came back again.
Rice-Ball247: I know it's a little different. But I've written 'Android', which was robot!Draco/human!Harry, so I hope that human!Draco/merman!Harry will be well-received as well.
Note: It suddenly occurred to me that not everyone reads Japanese Lore, so here's a bit of it for you. Some Japanese myths believe that mermaids will cry pearls, rather than tears. This is very important to note for the rest of the fic.
If you enjoyed it and would like to see more, please review.