Disclaimer: I am not J.K. Rowling. This story is merely my way of saluting her. I do not own any of these characters; I just manipulate their thoughts.
Summary: Harlequin, meet Harry. Set in the late 1870's, this is a story about a lighthouse keeper who is content with the solitary life he leads until a shipwreck washes ashore a remarkable young man. As the keeper cares for the young man, his will to start living again rejuvenates, sprouting from admiration to adoration to love.
Alternate Universe. Non-Magic. Slash. Harry/Draco.
A/N: I'm not good at writing in old English, so please bear with me. If you find any statements or phrases you think I should change, message me about it and I'll rewrite that part. Thanks. Dabbling in some very romantic stories. Enjoy!
The heat of the day was causing rivulets of haze to rise from the tall reeds. The warm breeze washed over soft hills, rolling the grass as it passed. Leaves rustled lethargically. The ocean was quiet, resting under the warm sun. The water pushed against the cobblestone beach. Sea gulls circled the sand and the shore. They flew higher and higher, stark white against the cloudless blue skies. They made their way up the cliff face, weaving seemingly random patterns as they climbed. And atop the cliff overlooking the ocean was the lighthouse. It stood tall amongst the rest of the landscape. The brown stone tower was partially covered in creepers and moss, causing it to blend in with the natural beauty surrounding it. A massive set of double doors was fastened shut and the stairs leading up to the doors were cracking. Small windows dotted the entire expanse of the lighthouse, growing sparse as it wound up. Here, the tower widened into the most important part of the lighthouse - the light. The lamp resided in the rusty windowed tip of the lighthouse. The lamp helped provide direction to passing ships. The lamp helped sailors pull away before crashing into the cliff. The lamp helped guide and protect. The lamp needs a keeper. The lighthouse keeper.
He lived in the tower. There was nowhere else to go. The island was uninhabited by humans. Animals and plants grew aplenty, but people didn't. There was no civilization for eight hours by boat. In fact, the island was uncharted until ten years ago. The lighthouse keeper had been on the island for eight. He helped build the tower, with stone and mortar, sweat and blood. He was the only one that stayed behind. He was the only one who wanted the solitary life. He had lived on the island for so long that he had started to forget how he used to live anywhere else. The only contact he had with the rest of the world was during his monthly visits to the small fishing village many miles south of where he lived. All his rations were bought from the small port and the locals knew him as the lighthouse keeper. He rarely socialized. He just smiled. He smiled and handed out lists of what he needed for that month. It was mostly non-perishable food and maintenance equipment. On rare occasions, he would buy some clothes or bed covers, books and stationery, and curious memorabilia he found interesting at the roadside vendors'. But that was the extent of his life from the looks if it. For the locals, he was a recluse - the silent lighthouse keeper.
He did his job well. After the new seaport opened over ten years ago, a ship had yet to crash into the violent cliffs of the island the keeper lived on. The light shone nightly, softly flickering against the fog or beaming proudly against the clear black. It was always there, for the sailors to see. The lighthouse keeper made sure of it.
He slept during the days. He was not needed anywhere during daylight. So he slept it away. His work started at dusk and carried on until dawn. Nightly, he'd clean the windows and the grime that collected from the salt water. He would need to refill the lamp with kerosene every five hours. He trimmed the wick every three. He would need to wind the clockwork gears of the lens every two hours.
Immediately under the lantern room was the watch room, from where the lighthouse keeper stood watch and did his duties. A gallery stood outside the watch room. The lighthouse keeper liked to spend his time out on the gallery, where mists of salt sprayed and the warm winds blew in from the south. It washed him awake during calm nights. It helped him remember why he was there. He was content.
During the day he slept in his living quarters that were present at the base of the lighthouse. His home consisted of two floors that were each three meters tall. The first floor had his kitchen, dining room and restroom. The top floor had his bed and study. It was sparsely decorated, with no photographs adorning the walls and no curtains gracing the windows. His pantry was stocked with mildly tasting food such as beans and peas, cheese and biscuits, wine and water. His dining table seated two, but only ever met one. His bedroom looked out away from the ocean. It showed the golden reedy knolls and sparse trees. He looked out into the ocean at night and he went to sleep watching the lightly dusted land in the day.
His study was his most prized possession. It was the one way he wasn't driven insane by his solitude. His books, paper, and pen were his escape. At night, he would use his spare time to log his day and to dabble in fantasy. After all, if he enjoyed reading about the sad state of England in Dickens' words, he would enjoy writing about utopian lands in the middle of the ocean where fulfillment reigned. Stories helped him see the world while sitting on the rickety chair next to the fluttering light. The romantic era was pushing along at full force and even a simple lighthouse keeper in the middle of the Pacific could get caught up in it. A few years behind, but he was aware of the changes around the world. He was aware of the slow abolishment of slavery, erratic music of Beethoven, and Dr. John Snow's advancements in medicine. None of it pertained to him, but it was worldly knowledge that everyone needed to know about. And it would soon come in good use a fortnight after the lazy warm afternoon.
The seas are temperamental during the months of October and November. Perhaps it is because the waters are unsure of whether to stay warm or grow cold. The island started to experience heavy rains and high winds. The tropical hurricane promised to blow over in a matter of two nights and a day, but that was all the time needed for the Archangel to crash into the rocks on a nearby shoal.
As soon as the hurricane passed, the lighthouse keeper ventured out onto his island to survey the damage. And there it was, salvage from the wreck. The first wreck the keeper had ever chanced upon after years on the island. He weaved through the wreckage in horror. Clothes and utensils were strewn on the sand, tangled against weeds. Splintered wood washed ashore in torrents. But there were no bodies. Drenched papers and books were soaked to the spine as they lay limp on the beach. The keeper knelt on the stones, turning over the scraps. What looked like pieces of the mast floated on the water. But there were no bodies. The keeper sighed with relief. No bodies meant they had escaped. Which meant no unnecessary loss of life. Which meant the hurricane didn't do the damage it could have. Which meant clean up was going to be quick and painless. There were no bodies.
There it was, floating face down and half hidden under the wreckage. The body. Still. With a plunging stomach, the keeper lunged into the sea. Strong, experienced and adrenaline filled strokes pushed him through the choppy waters. He grabbed the body by the sleeve, flipping it over swiftly. He groaned with dread. The body was of a young man. A boy... The keeper wrapped his arms around the man's chest and pushed back towards the shore, kicking against the water with a trembling heart. He dragged the man against the stony beach, shivering as the cold wind blew into his drenched clothes. He dropped to his knees beside the man's chest. After placing his cheek next to the man's nose and finding no intake or expelling of breath, he thumped against the man's heart.
He pinched the man's nose. The man stayed still, lips blue and face pale. He pushed into the man's ribs, trying to break through them so he could reach the lungs.
Blood was pouring out of the side of the man's head, soaking into the sand. The keeper pulled off his coat, bunching it and stuffing it beside the man's crusted blond hair. He continued pumping the man's chest. He felt it crack and give way. He pushed in with fervor now, holding the man's nose every fifth pump, trying to force him to –
The keeper heard soft gurgling in the man's throat. He stopped crushing the lungs, resting his head against the man's nose again. Nothing. He clamped the man's nose and pushed his mouth open, exhaling forcefully into the man's throat. The keeper came up for air, inhaling sharply and pushing it out into the man's lungs again.
The man coughed weakly, sputtering blood and salt water.
The man inhaled heavily, a grimace lining his brow as the air burned.
The man nodded, trying to do as he was told. He quelled his urge to cough because his oxygen starved brain wanted him to inhale, not exhale.
The keeper kept an eye on the man lying prone on his couch as he worked in his kitchen to sterilize his first aid equipment. The man wasn't waking up. The keeper had already tried smelling salts. Now all he could think of doing was stripping the man out of his sea-crusted clothes and donning a pair of thick flannel pajamas on him. The gash on the man's forehead was deep. The bone was visible from the torn skin. His chest was bruised, but it was bound to heal without much prompt. His right wrist seemed to be fractured at two spots. The man had the palest skin the keeper had seen, and that worried him. Sailors needed to have tanned skin. Pale skin meant heavy loss of blood. And the only place the man could have lost blood from was his head. Or internally. That thought irked the keeper to no end.
The keeper set aside the needle and thread, washing his hands with searing hot water. He was hoping to wash his trepidation away with the dirt. He wiped his hands on the towel, balancing his scotch on top of the tray. He settled on the floor, beside the man's head. He soaked his gauze with alcohol and gently wiped the cut clean. The man didn't even flinch. The keeper placed two fingers against the man's neck. The pulse was still there, fluttering against the keeper's fingers. Satisfied, the keeper threaded the needle swiftly. He poised on top of the man's gaping wound, his fingers shaking. He gulped down his nerves, pulling his hand away. He closed his eyes, steeling himself. He let out a long breath of air, feeling his tension leaving him. His trembling fingers started to steady themselves. He positioned the needle against the man's bruised flesh again. He allowed himself a quick glance at the man's closed eyes.
And with that, he set about sewing the man up. He worked quickly, trying to place neat stitches but failing. He finished after ten stitches, groaning at the shoddy job he did. He hoped to god that he hadn't just scarred the man for life as he bandaged the ugly cut. At least the blood wasn't seeping anymore. Next, he splinted the man's wrist. It was difficult to wrap the strips of cloth around the limp wrist because the man was unconscious. The keeper needed to feel the wrist for himself, trying to decide if he'd set the bones right. He groaned again when he saw the wedding band on the man's finger. To think of the agony the wife was going to go through when she finds out that get husband's ship had been destroyed was causing the keeper to pace. He wished the man would wake up.
The keeper felt sleep tugging at him. It was already noon. He needed his rest. He sighed, sinking into an armchair. He was asleep in a matter of seconds.
Seemed like he had just closed his eyes when he wrenched awake. He roved his eyes around the room, trying to remember where he was. He jumped up when he found grey eyes staring at him.
"Hello," he said louder than he had expected to.
The grey eyes blinked, frowning. The keeper held still, unsure. The eyes closed lightly, then opened. They closed again, held shut longer than before. When the eyes opened again, the keeper gasped at the terror in them.
"What is it?" he asked softly.
The eyes widened and a strangled cry escaped the man's throat. He scrambled up, crying out again as he placed weight on his wrist. The keeper was by his side now, holding the struggling man steady on the couch.
"You're safe. It's alright," the keeper said rapidly, trying to appease the man.
"It's not! I can't see!" the man gasped, trying not to hyperventilate.
"What?" the keeper asked, his grip tightening around the shivering man.
"I can't see," the man sobbed, fainting into the keeper's arms.
"No, no, no. Don't sleep," the keeper muttered, shaking the man.
The man whimpered awake, keeping his eyes shut. He wasn't struggling anymore, having gone into shock. The keeper knelt down at eye level, watching the pallid man flush slightly. At least his color was returning, albeit from pain.
"Open your eyes," the keeper said firmly.
The man shook his head but opened them anyway. They were dilated and unfocused. The keeper moved his hand in front of the man's face, but got no reaction.
"You could see before?" the keeper asked.
The man nodded, tears falling onto his high, aristocratic cheekbones.
The man stared at the keeper blankly. The silent and unseeing gaze was unnerving the keeper. He needed to know that the man has no lapse in memory.
"Your name, lad," the keeper repeated more firmly.
The man was silent. The keeper gently touched the man's bandaged head. The man didn't flinch away.
"Are you hurting?"
Silence. Tears were flowing in torrents now.
"Your head? Wrist? How's your chest?" the keeper asked desperately, trying to get a response from the man.
Silence. The man was starting to sag. The keeper jerked him awake again.
"Please, you can't sleep. Your head... Just tell me your name," the keeper said desperately.
"What's yours?" the man asked slowly.
"I - I'll tell you if you tell me yours," the keeper said.
"That's a trick," the man said softly, smiling.
The keeper blinked at the smile. He quickly placed a hand against the man's cheek, swearing loudly when he felt the fever burning into his hand.
"And that's a bad word," the man remarked. "I can't see..."
"What's your name? Where are you from? Where were you going? Are you in pain? Tell me something!"
"Too many questions," the man said, shaking his head reproachfully.
"One question then. Are you in pain?" the keeper asked deliberately.
The keeper sighed. "I can't let you sleep, okay?" The man nodded solemnly, falling asleep in the keeper's hands. The keeper shook him awake again. "I said don't sleep."
"Yes, you did."
This was going to be a long night. "Do you know where you were going?" the keeper asked, checking the man's splinted wrist to see if it had unraveled during the man's struggles.
"Canada... British Columbia. Work."
"Good, you remember!" the keeper exclaimed. British Columbia was three days journey to the northeast from the island.
"Where am I?"
"Now will you tell me your name?"
"I thought I did."
"My name is Harry."
"My head hurts."
"I can't see."
"I'm not allowed to sleep?"
"What should I do?"
Harry smiled morosely. "Are you hungry?"
"No. I feel sick."
"I know. Some soup will make you feel better."
Draco sat silently, tapping the fingers of his free hand on his knee. "Why can't I see?" he mused, closing his eyes. "I was fine... Until... Oh."
"Until the hurricane?" Harry asked.
"Yes, the rain."
"If it's any comfort to you, your shipmates didn't wash up on shore. I imagine it is because they escaped."
"Yes, they did," Draco said softly.
"Why didn't you?" Harry asked.
"I - I needed to - they - I -"
"It doesn't matter," Harry interrupted quickly, seeing Draco get agitated.
"It doesn't matter," Draco repeated.
"I am going to boil the broth. You stay," Harry said, letting go of Draco and standing up.
Harry watched the young blind man for a beat longer before walking into his kitchen. He warmed some water, soaking a clean piece of cloth with it. The man simply sat, slouched with his broken wrist cradled against his chest.
"Sit back," Harry said. Draco jumped, looking around wildly. Harry touched Draco's shoulder lightly. "I'm here," he added. "Sit back."
Draco nodded, sitting back against the sofa with his eyes squeezed shut. Harry placed the lukewarm cloth into Draco's hand. "I'll be in the kitchen," he said. Draco nodded again, clenching his fingers around the cloth.
Harry strode back into his kitchen, quickly filling his pot with chicken and vegetable broth. He worked the fire to make it burn as brightly as he could. He also poured out two glasses of scotch, downing his in one gulp. He set out a bowl and a spoon on the tray. "Are you alright?" he called out, stirring the soup with his ladle. He was answered with silence. He sighed, dropping the ladle with an impatient clang. His guest seemed to be quite taken to sleeping. He walked out into the living room with the scotch.
"Oh hell," he swore.
Draco had slid sideways on the couch, clutching his ribs with agony written all over his face. Harry ran up, placing the glass on the table and kneeling down beside Draco. He heard Draco's labored breathing. It was fast and shallow. "Just stay calm," Harry said, rubbing Draco shuddering back to relieve some of his pain.
"I can't breathe," Draco gasped, coughing.
"Breathe with me," Harry said, terrified at the sight of Draco's shaking body. "Through the mouth," he said. "In and out. In and out. Breathe," he kept repeating, urging Draco to follow. At first, Draco was too far gone to know what Harry was talking about. His breath rattled in his chest as he tried to drag in as much air as he could. His panic caused him to chock. Harry thumped Draco's back as he tried to get him to exhale. It took another five minutes for Draco to control his breathing. He winced each time he took a breath, but he was able inhale without suffocating in his own chest. He coughed, pushing off the sofa and sitting upright. Harry watched Draco regain his composure, sniffing back his tears and taking in gasping breaths. Harry fidgeted, unsure of what to do. He heard the sizzling of the soup boiling over onto the stove. "Oh, the soup," Harry exclaimed, stumbling up.
"No," Draco wheezed, throwing his hand out wildly. He connected with Harry's arm and pulled him back down forcefully. "Don't go," he said, coughing.
"I won't be long," Harry said, reassuringly. Draco shook his head vehemently and dug his fingers into Harry's arm. Harry sighed. "The soup..." he tried again.
"I don't want soup," Draco said firmly.
"Then at least let me take it off of the stove," Harry explained, wrenching his arm out of Draco's grip and moving towards the kitchen.
"Don't go," Draco shouted in terror, feeling blindly in front of him. "I don't want soup. Don't go," he garbled, getting off of the couch and bumping into the low table in front of him. He sidestepped it widely, bumping into the armchair beside it. "Don't leave," he said helplessly, trying to find his way around the unfamiliar territory. Harry watched the man feel his way around his living room with growing awareness. Draco was blind for the first time and feeling utterly helpless.
"I'm not leaving," Harry said over Draco's rambling. Draco froze, trying to locate Harry's voice. "I'm just going to the kitchen."
"I'll come," Draco said, moving towards Harry's voice. "I'll come," he repeated, running his fingers along the wall as he moved, holding out his broken hand in front of him.
"You shouldn't be moving," Harry said, reaching out a hand and grabbing Draco's. He led the blind man into the kitchen.
"I'm fine," Draco insisted stubbornly, tightening his hold on Harry just in case the keeper decided to leave again. Harry noticed the increased pressure and sighed.
"Sit," Harry said, pushing Draco into the tall stool. Draco sat without a word of complaint, trying to follow Harry with his ears. Harry quickly put out the stove, pulling the pot away from the fire. "How are your ribs? I had to crack them to get you to breathe. They are going to ache for a few weeks."
"Fine," Draco muttered, running his hands down the stone counter. "Where am I?"
"I haven't decided on a name yet," Harry said, smiling slightly. "Just a small island. I'm the lighthouse keeper."
"You haven't decided on a name… "
"No." They lapsed into silence. Harry figured it was because of Draco's delirious mind. The man simply stared at the counter, running his fingers down it with a blank expression on his face. Harry poured the soup into the awaiting bowl and plunked it in front of Draco, pushing the spoon into Draco's free hand. "Drink."
"I don't want soup," Draco said faintly.
"Drink it," Harry said sternly.
"No. I feel sick."
"You feel sick because you haven't eaten anything for a day."
Draco pursed his lips and closed his eyes, taking in calming breaths. "I don't want to eat," he said in a measured tone.
Harry scrutinized Draco through narrowed eyes, drumming his fingers on the counter and wondering whether he should force-feed the man. Deciding against it, he glanced at the clock on the wall. Two hours until sun down, which meant an hour until he needed to be in the service room. "Don't eat then. I have to get to work in an hour. You aren't to sleep until I'm done. Understand?"
"Yes," Draco muttered.
"I will wake you up if I find you asleep."
"What do you want to do while I'm working?"
Draco sat silently. Harry supposed there wasn't much he could do. The man was blind. Harry knew that sleep was what the man needed, but sleep was one thing Harry was afraid of letting Draco do. He was afraid of what would happen if Draco didn't wake up. He watched Draco for a few minutes, silently weighing his options. He couldn't risk moving him yet. The waters were too choppy for him to set sail for the seaport. He didn't know how long the heavy weather would last. He would need to accommodate the young man in his lighthouse until then. Or until help arrived, searching for Draco. Either way, there was nowhere else for Draco to go.
"Where are my clothes?" Draco asked suddenly, feeling the thick flannel with his hands.
"In the wash. Most of it will have to go. It was spoiled in the water and with blood."
"Hmm… Father bought it for me," Draco said thoughtfully. Harry wondered if Draco was aware that he was saying all this out loud. Draco laughed humorlessly. "He's going to be less than pleased."
"You're alive. I'm sure he'd be ecstatic," Harry said.
"Mother would be…" Draco murmured.
"And your wife," Harry added.
"Astoria… She would be too."
"Where are you from?" Harry asked, pouring himself some soup and breaking the bread.
"Where in England?" Harry asked, rolling his eyes.
"What's your name?" Draco asked, frowning towards Harry's voice.
"You've forgotten already? It's Harry. Harry Potter."
"Right. Mr. Potter."
"Right," Harry said, smiling. It had been a long time since anyone had called him Mr. Potter. For over ten years, it had either been Harry or lighthouse keeper.
"I was on a ship," Draco said. Harry saw him trying to remember what had happened. "And something – the rain was too hard. I couldn't see. I needed to – they wouldn't – the ship hit something. And then – I – I think I fell out. I don't remember anything after that."
"I figured as much," Harry said. "The hurricane was not kind to your ship."
"The last thing I saw was – water… There was too much water," Draco said quietly.
"We – we should talk about something else," Harry said, watching Draco's expression turn from blank to fear in a matter of seconds.
"Yes, let's," Draco said quickly.
"What do you do?" Harry asked. Work was always a neutral topic for most men.
"Nothing," Draco muttered.
Harry heard the slight bitterness in the words, but he didn't comment on them. "So why are you going to Canada?"
"Father's business. I needed to – it was supposed to be a change from home. He needed help running the business here and I agreed to come out."
"Must mean you're rich," Harry said, smiling slyly.
Draco sensed Harry's glib smile, allowing his lips to twitch for an instant. "I am. Mostly my fa –" He broke off, gasping in pain. Harry was by his side in a second, holding him up before he fell backwards.
"My eyes," Draco groaned through gritted teeth.
"Keep them closed," Harry urged. Draco nodded, squeezing his eyes shut. "Is it burning?" Harry asked. Draco shook his head, feeling calm wash over him as his eyes shut.
"Light," he breathed out, pinching the bridge of his nose to get rid of the splitting headache that was forming in between his brows.
Harry blinked. "You can't see…"
"I saw light," Draco mumbled, willing the pain to soften.
"You can see?"
"I didn't see anything. Just white light," Draco said again.
"It's nothing," Draco said, gently touching his bandaged head.
"If you say so," Harry murmured thoughtfully.
"How long have you lived here?" Draco asked, eager to get his mind off of the migraine.
"Nine, ten years…"
"Hmm… Is it a big village?"
"It's just me."
"In this whole island?"
Draco frowned, his eyes still closed. "Why?"
"No answer to why. I like it here, so I'm here."
"It's that simple?"
"Why shouldn't it be?"
"Oh, that means you have no family, doesn't it?"
Harry stared at the blind man in disbelief. "How did you know?"
"It's never simple with family," Draco said, idly picking up the spoon next to his hand and dipping it into the bowl.
"You speak from experience?"
Draco didn't deign to answer, sipping on his warm soup elegantly. Harry noticed the aristocracy in Draco's actions now that the man was regaining control over his mind and emotions. The terrified young boy was gone and replaced with a straight-backed gentleman exchanging words. Harry marveled at the change, unsure of whether that was a healthy sign or not. If he had suddenly discovered that he was blind, he would be throwing fits and rebellious rants against his own body. Yet here was Draco, remaining as calm as he could while eating supper.
Harry kept talking, hoping to distract Draco long enough to make him finish his broth. "No, I have no family. I helped build this lighthouse and I wanted to run it. They let me. So here I am," Harry said.
"For ten years. Isn't that a long while?"
"A very long while."
"You aren't tired of it?"
"No. I like it."
"I would get tired of it after a day. No entertainment, no people, only work…"
"It's a pleasant change from before."
Harry found himself in uncharted territory. Problem with having no one to talk to for so long was that he let himself go, spilling out unwanted thoughts and memories. "It's different here," Harry said finally.
"Real… How old are you?"
"Thirty two next year."
"You sound so much older." Harry scoffed. Draco smiled at the sound, shaking his head. "No, I meant mature, not older."
"To you, I guess I would seem old…" Harry said thoughtfully, finishing his own soup with a satisfied slurp.
Draco frowned through his smile. "Really? I'm twenty eight."
Harry's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Oh… You seem so much younger."
"I suppose I am."
Harry got up from his stool, stretching lazily. "Do you always speak so candidly?"
"Thought it was your fever."
"Think you can walk?"
Draco bit his lip. "Y – yes."
"Up to the top of the lighthouse?"
"I don't know what to do with you. I can't just leave you down here… If I help you, do you think you can walk up with me?"
"I can try."
"Do you want to try to open your eyes?"
"No," Draco said firmly.
"When can I leave?"
Harry ran his fingers through his hair ponderously. "Not tonight. And the journey is going to take a whole day. My boat won't cut through the water right now. We'll wait until you are well enough. Maybe a few days. But I have provisions and clothes. You will be fine until then," he said.
Draco nodded. His spoon clattered on the bowl, causing him to jerk.
"You were hungry after all," Harry said, grinning as he picked up the bowl and spoon from Draco.
Harry cleaned out the dishes and placed them on the towel to dry. He wiped his hands and turned to face Draco. "Ready?" Draco nodded mutely, getting off of the stool. "Just hold onto my shoulder. I need to grab a few things before we can start up." Draco did as he was told, latching onto Harry. Harry grabbed a cup and a box of sugar cookies. He then led Draco towards the stairs. "Tell me if you're hurting," he said, glancing over his shoulder. Draco made a sound of acknowledgement. The stairs were wide and made of tough stone. They reached the second floor in thirty steps. "This is where the bed and library is," Harry informed, opening the door. They walked to Harry's small desk and he gathered all his writing material – books and pens. "You carry this," he said, tugging off the blanket from his bed and draping it over Draco's splinted hand. "There are about three hundred steps. Don't keep count."
Draco smiled faintly, dropping his head. "I won't," he said.
"I've tried," Harry explained, walking out of the second floor and back on the landing. They started their long trek. "I lost count after two hundred and fifty eight. I'm still too miffed to try again."
They walked in silence for five minutes, Draco holding strong despite the pounding headache and burning chest. That's when he felt a cough trying to rattle out of him. He tried to quell the urge, gulping down air. After ten more steps, he couldn't hold off any longer. "Sorry," he wheezed, letting go of Harry and coughing painfully in what he hoped was the opposite direction. He tasted the slight hint of blood against the back of his throat. He pushed down his nausea, not wanting to throw up what he'd just eaten. He composed himself as he felt his breath stabilize again. He reached out blindly to grab Harry again. Harry bit his lip in thought as he took Draco's trembling hand and placed it on his shoulder. They were barely fifty steps up and Draco was already out of breath. The next fifty would be fine, but the final half of the climb was something Harry was not looking forward to. Sure enough, as they ascended, Harry heard Draco's labored breathing grow louder and louder. Harry was mildly impressed at the lack of complaint. Then he grew anxious at the lack of complaint.
"How much pain are you in?" Harry asked.
Draco merely shook his head, trying to concentrate on breathing and not thinking. Thinking was causing him to hyperventilate. He needed to clear his mind and not think about all that had happened to him. That he was blind, that he was stranded, that he felt like he was about to die.
"Where are you from?" Draco asked.
"You have lived there all your life, then?"
"Yes, until now."
"Not fond of people, are you?"
Harry shrugged. "I don't mind people. Just – not the ones I know."
"Well put," Draco mumbled darkly.
"You don't either?"
Draco was wondering why it was so easy to talk to this lighthouse keeper. Perhaps it was because Harry was an unknown. Draco did not know who Harry was. He may very well be an apparition of Draco's feverish mind. But what made him talk so bluntly was not just because he didn't know Harry. It was also because Harry didn't know him. Most people Draco had met during his tumultuous life had a preconceived notion of who Draco was – he was his father. But Harry had no idea. Draco wanted to keep it that way. Draco wanted to have a normal conversation with a normal man for once. Even if the normal conversation was caused by a terrible accident and the normal man may very well be a recluse who was nearing insanity.
"No, I don't either," Draco answered.
"Which is why you're moving to Canada."
Draco thought over it. No one knew him in Canada. Perhaps… "I would think so, yes," he said slowly.
"As long as you don't mind the cold," Harry commented.
"Nothing I can't work around."
Harry chuckled softly. Draco marveled at how youthful the laugh was. It was a stark contrast to how adult Harry sounded. "You can't work around the snow," Harry said in amusement.
Draco nodded to himself. He knew that. He knew enough about Canada to know that his father's hold on him would lessen tenfold if he moved there. He stifled a sigh. Malfoys don't sigh, he could almost hear his father saying. Draco's mind wound around that thought. Father wasn't there and Draco was his own person. He sighed loudly, smiling morosely at the relaxing motion of inhaling deeply and exhaling languidly. It felt so serene and cleansing. He vaguely wondered why Malfoys didn't sigh and made a mental note to sigh more often.
Draco snapped out of his delirious musings, opening his eyes out of reflex. He was greeted with more black. He blinked, trying to dislodge the black screen in front of his eyes. It wouldn't budge. He let out a frustrated groan, squeezing his eyes shut again. At least when his eyes were shut, he could pretend that there was a reason he couldn't see anything but black.
"Are you alright?"
Draco swallowed down the lump in his throat. "Yes," he rasped breathlessly. Harry didn't press further. And they climbed.
Soft light coursed through the windows as they ascended. Harry loved the sunsets and sunrises. It always meant the beginning and end of his day. It was a place between sleep and waking. The island would buzz with commotion during those times as the animals settled down for the night or woke up for the day. It was the utopia Harry so often wrote about – the perfect heaven. Harry felt Draco fingers pressing into him and he stopped. Draco sagged against the dusty stonewall, breathing in shallow gasps. They waited in silence for Draco to gain some strength. What would normally take Harry twenty minutes was already costing him the better part of an hour. And yet, Draco didn't complain. Harry saw the slick sheen of sweat on Draco's neck. "How's the fever?" he asked.
"I'll be fine once we get up there," Draco said, breathing in deeply and steeling himself as he shuffled away from the wall. His legs held up. "I'll be fine," he said.
Harry's face tinged with worry, but he didn't voice it. He guided Draco's hand over to his shoulder again, climbing the stairs slowly. A little over halfway up the tower, Harry felt Draco stumble over the step. He spun around, catching Draco before he fell flat on his face. Harry sat down heavily on the step as Draco fainted onto him. Harry sighed, lifting Draco off of him and leaning him against the wall. Harry sat beside the blond man, trying to catch his own breath. After a minute, he turned to Draco, shaking him awake. Draco jerked up with a yelp, throwing his hands out in front of him. "It's alright," Harry said tiredly from beside him.
Draco gulped loudly, nodding. "Right. Don't sleep," he said, more to himself.
"How much further?"
"We're only halfway up."
Draco's stomach plunged. "I – I don't think I can," he said, blushing at how weak he was.
"One step at a time," Harry said vaguely. "I will try and keep your mind off of the pain," he added, getting up and grabbing Draco's arm to pull him upright. Draco let him, too uncomfortable and tired to argue. "What do you want to talk about?" Harry asked as they started up again.
"I don't know. I can't think."
"That's alright. I'll do the thinking then. I've been alone for so long, it's not difficult to do the thinking by myself."
Draco mused at the way Harry talked. So vague and random. Some of the things he said sounded almost poetic. "You are a romantic!" Draco exclaimed as realization struck him. Harry laughed and Draco felt the shoulder shake slightly. "But you are, aren't you? Music, art, theatre, books, and all?" Draco asked eagerly.
"A romantic? Hardly. I haven't heard classical music or seen theatre in years. Books… Yes, I enjoy a good book. But that is the extent of my 'romanticism'."
"But why else would you hide from the world? It is a romantic notion, to be alone with one's thoughts. I would venture a guess that you read… Poe? No, he is a bit too dark for you. And Elliot is much too real. Stevenson? Kindred spirits that you are. I am right, aren't I?"
Harry grinned up at the stairs as he heard Draco's excited rambling. "What do you prefer?" he asked, wanting to keep Draco talking.
Harry blinked at the abrupt reply. "No, you don't."
Draco blushed, hoping to the gods that Harry wasn't turning around to look at him. "What's wrong with that?"
"N – nothing," Harry stammered. "But – Austen? You? You struck me as a person who'd more likely read Doyle or Dumas. The adventure and mystery in them."
"I've had enough adventure and mystery to last me a lifetime."
"So you read Jane Austen…"
Draco was starting to get annoyed. Harry was reiterating the same point far too many times. He suspected that Harry was poking fun. "Have you ever read Austen?" he asked huffily. He was met with silence. "Then I'm not surprised by your literary misunderstandings. Mansfield Park itself has enough complexity to easily spar with Sherlock Holmes. And the humor is advanced. At least the realistic views aren't shadowed by cheap gimmicks."
Harry scoffed. "What's so real about Edmund, Henry, and Thomas falling in love with the same caustic woman?" he muttered.
Draco opened his mouth to retort but went silent when he realized what Harry had just said. He ran the comment through his head, mouthing Harry's words. Then he laughed incredulously. "You have read Mansfield Park?"
"I have time on my hands," Harry said, trying to justify his comment.
"What do you read then?"
"All of them…"
"I personally enjoy Mark Twain and Charles Dickens for their humor. Yes, Stevenson and I do seem like kindred spirits, don't we? My favorite Jane Austen novel would be Emma, just because of the obscenely large amounts of confusion and tongue in cheek in the book, almost like Shakespeare's comedies. And you're right, most of Poe is much too devastating for me to read. Sometimes, even Doyle seems a bit too melodramatic. My favorite novel is David Copperfield because it reminds me of how –" Harry broke off, realizing he was about to relay his pathetic life story to a complete stranger. "I – um… it's real. All of it seems so real in the story. It's my favorite." Harry's thoughts raced around his mind as he tried to figure out what he had wanted to say. He had wanted to say everything. He suppressed a shudder at his lack of self-control. He also realized that Draco hadn't said a word. "Haven't fallen asleep, have you?" he asked, trying to hide his embarrassment in petty humor.
Draco blinked blindly, a slow grin growing on his face. "Marvelous!" he said. "In fact, I think you're more of a romantic than I am!"
"Just because I read books doesn't make me an idealistic."
"But you don't just read books! You appreciate them!"
"I – well, yes, that's – reading is the same thing."
"No, it isn't. I've read Les Miserables. I appreciate Great Expectations."
"Les Miserables… Another good read."
"Perhaps you don't know the difference because you appreciate all of them," Draco reflected.
"And if you appreciate all of them, you write."
Harry turned around to face Draco. "How do you know all of this?" he asked in disbelief.
"You write?" Draco asked, his eyes wide with wonder and his grin fixed on his face.
"How did you know?" Harry asked again, gazing at Draco for a moment longer before resuming his ascend.
"I – er, I – write."
"Oh. About what?"
"Nothing. Just thoughts I have. What do you write about?"
"A world Dickens would never think of writing. The ideal world."
Draco was starting to understand the appeal of this secluded island. No societies meant no norms. No norms meant simplicity. And simplicity meant bliss for this lighthouse keeper. Draco chuckled softly. "The prefect heaven, isn't it?"
Harry stumbled on the steps, reaching out to the wall to steady himself. Draco dropped his hand from Harry's shoulder, grabbing his upper arm and holding Harry upright. "Watch the step," Draco said, smiling impishly.
"R – right," Harry breathed. How did Draco know him so well? The perfect heaven… It was true. Every word out of Draco's mouth was true. It unnerved Harry to no end. How could this man know him so well?
"I wish I could see it," Draco said softly, his fingers brushing against the window they were next to. Harry watched Draco stare out blindly into the golden grass that was billowing in the cooling wind. Draco's grey eyes were open and unblinking, looking out into nothing. His hair was still matted with salt and blood. Harry imagined that Draco's hair was one of his prized assets. It was thick and platinum, utterly disheveled at the moment. He had a strong face, with an elegant nose and a tapered chin. His cheekbones were set high, giving him an outlandish appeal. His lips were pursed in frustration. The paleness lingered and Harry realized that the man was naturally so.
As suddenly as before, Draco gasped in pain, his fingers clamping painfully around Harry's arm. He swayed dangerously as he squeezed his eyes shut. He sank to the floor, dragging Harry down with him and cradling his head in his free arm.
"What is it?" Harry asked, trying to pry his sore arm from Draco's iron grip. Draco held on stubbornly. He was using Harry to ground himself against the splitting pain in his head that was threatening to explode. "What's wrong?" Harry asked again, worry seeping into his words.
"My head," Draco grunted through his gritted teeth. "Eyes…"
"The light again?"
Draco nodded curtly, hissing with pain as his temple throbbed at the slight motion.
"What should I do?" Harry asked, feeling as helpless as Draco.
"I don't know," Draco breathed, his words hitching as he tried to stop the pain in his head. Next thing he knew, he was enveloped in warm arms. He let out a slight yelp but didn't have the strength to struggle. He sat still, letting the warmth fill him. He heard vague words enter his head and he tried to focus on it. It said, "Don't think of the pain." Draco let the urgent voice tell him that a few more times before deciding to act on it. He relaxed into the arms, letting his head rest on Harry's shoulder. "Just – distract me," Draco muttered into Harry's neck.
Harry was already distracted himself by the proximity of Draco to him. He had never been this close to anyone in a long while. He hadn't let anyone come this close to him before. He didn't even know what prompted him to pull Draco against his chest. It was almost like protective instinct. Seeing Draco in pain was all the catalyst Harry needed. He had wrapped his arms around Draco's back, pulling him in. He was also uttering unconscious words to Draco. After a moment of stiffness, Draco had complied. And now Harry's spine tingled when he felt Draco's breath against his skin, asking to distract him from the pain.
"I – um… Right. Er – have you – Darwin! Have you read the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin?" Harry stammered, falling on a vague subject that he assumed Draco had no thoughts about.
"Yes, I have."
"Oh," Harry muttered, trying to compile his random thoughts into a comprehensible pile.
"We can still talk about it," Draco said weakly, his arms wrapping around Harry's narrow waist impulsively as he tried to hold on to his consciousness. Sleep was threatening to drag him down again and he knew that Harry didn't want him to sleep.
"O – okay," Harry stammered.
"You have read the sixth?"
"There's a sixth?"
"Yes. It –" Draco shuddered as his breath caught in his throat. He let it out slowly, just as Harry had instructed. "It explains more. He uses this term – evolution."
"What does it mean?"
"He says that – well, natural selection picks out the weak and the strong ones procreate. Which means the strong individuals are able to pass on their features that make them strong. He – he says this causes small nuances to occur in a population. N – not just imperfections. Over time – the population will change. Generations over time. The changing is called evolution. But – I really don't think I said that right…"
"No, no, that was fine. What do you think of it?"
"I don't know. It's all so – incomprehensible. I mean, to think that we are here because of a set of random coincidences is – it sounds preposterous."
"But the evidence he has gathered. I mean, he has spent years of his life in research."
"That is the only reason why I am not completely doubtful of his words. The proof…"
"It's quite sad if you think about it. It is that one general law. The strongest survive and the weakest perish. Morbid."
They sat on the stairs in silence. Harry saw the sun dip down, causing long shadows to fall across the meadow. Draco's gasping had changed to silent breathing now. Harry marveled at how comfortable he was holding another man in his arms. He supposed he had been craving some human contact for years now, he just didn't know it. He decided to make a conscious effort from then on to talk to the locals at the seaport. However uncomfortable it was bound to be, he evidently needed the communication.
Harry was wrenched out of his thoughts and he let go. Draco pulled away, trying to discreetly wipe the tears streaking his face. "Better?" Harry asked weakly.
"Yes," Draco said. "Maybe I should keep my eyes shut from now on."
"No!" Harry exclaimed. "You said you saw light. That must mean you can see something!"
"I feel like I'm about to die every time I see something," Draco said sardonically.
Harry kept his eyes on Draco, looking for signs of pain. Besides the perpetual grimace on his brow, there wasn't any. "We don't have much further," he said, trying to encourage Draco. Draco nodded. Harry staggered up, pulling Draco along with him. This was turning out to be a longer climb than either of them had expected.
The rest of the journey was spent in silence for both men. The sun was rapidly setting and Harry needed to start the lamp. He couldn't move much faster because Draco wasn't quite willing to. So they ascended at a slow pace. Harry heaved a sigh of relief as he moved closer to the service room. "We're here," he said. Draco sagged visibly, his legs dragging more so than before. They finally reached the door and Harry threw it open jovially.
"Thank god," Draco breathed, coughing tiredly. Harry led Draco into large room. In the middle was the equipment – clockwork, kerosene basin, and wick reserve. The room opened out into the ocean. The gallery was visible from the windows that wound around the circular room. Harry led Draco to the large desk present in the service room.
"The chair is here," Harry said, grasping Draco's hand and placing it on the wooden chair. Draco sat down with a sigh, stretching his aching legs out in front of him as he lounged happily. "Don't sleep. I'll be back," Harry said. He grabbed the pitcher of water on his desk, pouring water into the glass he had brought up. "Drink."
Draco clutched the glass with both hands, gulping down the cool water frantically. Harry ran out the room and wound up the final steps to the lantern room. He quickly started the fire, striking the match and lighting the wick. He eyed the flame critically, quickly wiping the sooty lens with a cloth. He needed more kerosene. And he saw the fog rolling in, so he needed to change the depth of the lens. He ran back down the stairs, smiling to find Draco slouched on the desk, his elbows on the table and his chin resting on the intertwined fingers. Harry worked the chains in the middle of the room, quickly switching the lens. He grabbed the kerosene from the container, sprinting back up and pouring the fuel into the duct. The flame grew brighter. He spent a few minutes watching the fire, making sure it was solid and that the lens picked up the light. After he was sufficiently satisfied, he walked back down the stairs, feeling unburdened now that the lamp was lit. Draco was still sitting there nonchalantly, touching his head.
"It's stopped bleeding, if you're wondering," Harry said as he walked up to the desk strewn with paper and books.
"I'm freed up for the next hour."
"What do you do in that hour?"
"I usually just read. Or go out into the gallery."
"Do you want to come?"
"Is it nearby?" Draco asked in trepidation.
"Yes. The door is to your right."
Harry guided Draco towards the door. As he opened it, he felt Draco stiffen beside him. The wind was strong that evening, whipping Harry's hair every which way. "There are railings here. You can hold onto them," he said loudly, hoping Draco could hear over the gust. Draco started to reach out with his splinted hand and he brushed his fingers against the rusty iron railing. The gallery was a meter wide and it circled the entire circumference of the lighthouse. Harry pulled Draco forward, making him grasp the railing tighter. Draco's heart plunged at the sound of the sea. The taste of salt against his lips was making him dizzy and he was having trouble stopping from feeling completely disoriented. Memories flashed through his mind rapidly. He was on the Archangel, then he felt the large drops of rain, then he saw the wave rising ominously around him, then he was thrown out to sea, then he watched the small boats floating away from him, then he felt himself suffocating. He struggled to breathe, but his throat was closing up. He was suffocating and underwater. He was alone. With a gut-wrenching sob he spun around, trying to get away. He connected with Harry's startled body and latched on for dear life.
Harry stumbled back as Draco threw himself at Harry. Draco's arms wound around Harry's neck and his head was buried against Harry's shoulder. Harry frowned, putting his arms around Draco's back softly. "It's just the sea," Harry said into Draco's ear. Draco shook his head, keeping his eyes averted. "You're safe up here. You're all the way up here," Harry said reassuringly.
"I can't," Draco said into Harry's coat.
Harry tightened his hold, squeezing Draco reassuringly. "That's fine. We'll go back inside," he said, letting go of Draco and gently easing the arms away from his neck. Draco nodded, his eyes clenched shut and his lips almost disappearing as he pursed them. Harry led Draco back into the service room, shutting the door soon after Draco walked in. "Better?" he asked, impulsively pushing a strand of mist soaked hair off of Draco's cheek. Draco jerked away, wiping his drenched face. Harry dropped his hand to his side, embarrassed at his callousness. Draco couldn't notice.
"Yes," Draco said, flushing. "I – sorry. I'm – this – it's not – so much has happened. I'm still – I didn't think I would be that affected by it."
"We'll try again later, then," Harry said, smiling at Draco's hesitant apology. From the sounds of it, Draco was not used to making apologies. He apparently didn't know when to make them either. "There's nothing to be sorry about. Hardly your fault," he added, helping Draco back into the chair.
"Right," Draco said, attempting to convince himself.
"We'll just talk. I enjoy your company," Harry said, hoping to cheer Draco up.
Draco smiled sourly. "I'm glad someone does."
Harry raised his brows at the spontaneous comment, realizing that Draco hadn't meant to say it out loud. He decided to glaze over it, glancing down at the papers on the desk. His eye fell on Draco's wedding ring. He looked up at Draco's frowning face. "How long have you been married?" he asked softly.
Draco shifted in his seat as his thoughts scattered. He absently turned the ring on his finger with his thumb, out of habit. "Five years."
"How many children?"
Draco pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration. "None," he muttered.
Harry decided that the topic of family was probably not the best one to broach upon. "Sorry. Um… My etiquette isn't quite up to date," he apologized, fiddling with the book in front of him.
Draco looked up in surprise, dropping his hand on the table with a thud. "What?"
Harry blinked at Draco's off set gaze. "Nothing," he said quickly.
"Oh, no, I didn't – I mean, I wasn't thinking, sorry," Draco said quickly. "No, I don't have any children. Astoria isn't quite ready for them. I suppose I'm not either," he explained vaguely.
Harry didn't respond. He shuffled the papers on the desk thoughtfully. Draco drummed on the desk softly, biting his lip. "So, you have no family?"
Harry stopped his shuffling, his eyes downturned. Family. He supposed it wasn't a topic he wanted to talk about either. "Everyone has one, I suppose," he mumbled.
"But…" Draco said, waiting for Harry to continue.
"But not everyone wants one."
Draco had to hide his flinch at the matter-of-fact statement. Those were strong words and he had no idea what had triggered it. He tried to push further. "No," he said slowly, "everyone wants a family."
Harry weighed his words against his tongue. "I meant that not everyone wants the one they have," he said deliberately.
Draco's eyes widened with shock. "Surely you aren't speaking about your parents!" he said, his mouth running off. "Oh, I didn't – um… Sorry, it just –" he stammered, trying to recant what he'd blurted out.
"I never knew my parents," Harry said softly, interrupting Draco's faltering words. Draco went silent at this. "I didn't know them, but they were the most beautiful parents I could have had," Harry said. "My aunt and uncle were… something else entirely," he muttered.
"Oh," Draco said faintly.
"But yes, they are my family."
"How did your parents…" Draco left it open-ended.
Harry looked up at Draco's concerned face. He was so used to lying about his parents' death. The lie was at the tip of his tongue. It was a lie that had been burned into his mind since he was old enough to understand what death was. It was a lie that caused him to hate his parents for the better part of his childhood. It was a lie he didn't want to tell. "Murdered."
Draco gasped, partially out of horror and partially out of the callous way Harry had said it.
"They were murdered when I was two. They were protecting me. Sacrifice," Harry said firmly, looking up at Draco's horrorstruck face. Harry sighed, shaking his head. "Sorry, I just – I didn't mean to shock you. We'll talk about something else, shall we?"
Draco closed his gaping mouth with a snap. The resignation in Harry's voice didn't go unnoticed. "Do you want to talk about something else?" he asked haltingly. "Or did you want to continue talking about your parents?"
"It's your life…"
"It was my life," Harry corrected.
"Right. Besides, what else can we do?"
Harry smiled wretchedly. "It's a sad day indeed when we have nothing better to do than discuss my miserable years."
"I don't know about you, but today has been the worst day of my life. I don't think your life story is going to make me feel any worse," Draco said, rolling his eyes.
"This is definitely not the worst day of mine," Harry mumbled.
"What was your worst?" Draco asked curiously. Harry didn't deign to answer. Draco waited for a few seconds, cocking his head to the side. When he didn't hear anything, he decided that Harry wasn't going to answer him. "What was your best?"
"Oddly enough, same day as my worst."
Draco narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Odd indeed."
Harry thought about it more. "Maybe not. I think it was the day I set foot on this island…"
"Yes. It was the start of a new life for me. A fresh start. I could be whoever I wanted to be. The prospects were enormous and I still love my life."
"You love your life."
Harry grinned. "Yes."
"Don't you miss your old life?" Draco asked.
Harry ran his fingers through his hair. "Yes, sometimes. My friends, mostly. But they understand. They let me be. Best friends anybody could have, I suppose," he said nostalgically.
"In all my travels, I have never met a man like you, Mr. Potter," Draco said.
Harry laughed. "Really? You have traveled a lot then? Because that does seem like a tall order. And um… it's Harry. Not Mr. Potter."
"Yes, I have traveled quite a bit. Seen the world, I suppose. First time in Canada, though."
"This is the only other place I have been other than Surrey."
"Pity. It's an amazing world out there."
"I am sure."
"Don't just go by what you read in the books! You need to experience it for yourself. The people, the culture, and the sheer size of the countries is just – it's so captivating," Draco said, reminiscing about his holidays in Europe and Asia.
"Tell me," Harry said.
How the night flew by. Harry was taken on wild adventures in the thick jungles of Africa and the putrid streets of India. He rowed down the river in Italy and took quiet dips in the Baltic Sea. He learnt about the gory details of the riots that ended slavery in parts of British Empire. Draco tried his best to explain the cultural differences between parts of Africa using food descriptions. Harry heard about the wild animals that roamed the jungles, free of human interruption. He was told of the odd rituals that Draco had witnessed during his stays in the coasts of India. Before they knew it, the sun was starting to peek out of the thick fog. Dew was forming on the dry grass. Dawn was breaking.
"Look at that! You managed to keep awake!" Harry exclaimed, staring at the pink horizon.
"Barely," Draco said, yawning for the umpteenth time. "And now we have to head back down, don't we?" he groaned, feeling his sore ribs and stretching is aching legs.
Harry grinned. "Yes. We do. There's food downstairs."
"Always an incentive – food."
The descend to the kitchen was quicker than the climb up. With less stops and gasps, the men made it down in record time. Harry opened the door to his bedroom, guiding Draco into it. "You can sleep here. I'm just going to be downstairs, making some breakfast," he said, pushing Draco onto his bed.
"Oh, I'm fine in the living room!" Draco insisted, trying to get up.
"For my peace of mind, just sleep here," Harry said.
"For your peace of mind?" Draco asked thoughtfully. "Well, alright then."
"Good, I'll be back with some breakfast," Harry said, walking out of the room and loping down to the kitchen. He quickly warmed water, steeping tealeaves in it while he made oatmeal and doused it with an unhealthy dollop of honey. He wasn't sure what Draco was used to eating for breakfast, so Harry hoped the sweetness would help Draco keep the food down. He seared a couple sausage links as well. He arranged them all on a plate, setting the tea on the tray and trying to balance the cutlery beside it as he ascended the stairs. He reached the bedroom without mishap, pushing the door open with his foot. He found Draco on the foot of his bed, sitting cross-legged and examining the oblong, black object in his hand. It was the size of his fist and six holes were placed around the body. A small spout branched off the round object. Draco was feeling it with wonder, trying to decide if he had ever seen this curio before.
"It's an ocarina. English pendant."
"A musical instrument," Harry clarified, setting the tray on his bed and sitting next to Draco.
"This?" Draco exclaimed in disbelief. "But it's so small!"
"It make soft music too," Harry said, taking the ocarina from Draco's hands. He placed his lips on the mouth of the ocarina, pushing air into it gently. He ran through the seven notes basic notes. The octave was high and the tone wavered slightly under Harry's inexperienced breath. Draco's eyebrows shot up at the sound. Harry smiled, pursing his lips and playing a quick Irish ditty he had learnt in school. The sprite sound rang mutely in the room, a cheery tune that was bound to cheer up a sad crowd. It reminded Harry of drunk leprechauns and stolen gold, which was what the song was about if he could remember the words to it. But the melody itself brought a small smile onto Draco's face. When Harry finished his song, Draco had stuck his hand out, wanting to try the instrument for himself. Harry handed it to him.
"You are quite good," Draco said, feeling the instrument with his hands again.
"Practice. I've had it for over twenty years."
"How do you play it?"
"Your mouth goes over there," Harry said, moving Draco's fingers over the wide mouth of the instrument. "And your fingers close or open these holes to make different notes."
"Like a flute?"
"I can play the flute," Draco said vaguely, blowing air into the ocarina. It made a low, fluttering note before breaking away. "Marvelous!" Draco exclaimed.
"Now you've found something to entertain yourself with. I brought you breakfast. You should eat and then go right to sleep," Harry said.
"What's for breakfast?"
"Honeyed oatmeal and sausage. Some tea as well." Draco settled on the edge of the bed and Harry placed the tray on Draco's lap. "How's the fever?" Harry asked.
"I wouldn't be so pleasant if I didn't have a fever," Draco muttered, hungrily digging into his breakfast.
Harry eyed Draco worriedly. He wasn't sure if he should leave the man alone in the room. He also knew that the man needed some privacy. Harry hadn't left his side for over a day, keeping a sharp eye on him. "If you aren't feeling well, just shout. I'm a light sleeper, I'll be up here in a matter of seconds," Harry said.
"I feel fine," Draco insisted.
"I know. Just wanted to let you know."
"For your peace of mind."
"Right," Harry smiled. "Um, good night then," he said.
"Good night, Harry," Draco said, blinking his blind eyes at Harry's departing figure.