Title: Trenches
Author: sara_holmes
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the recognisable content. They belong to JKR and the publishers.
: R
Word count: 3,200ish
A/N: This was written as a birthday gift for the lovely hidinginmybones, over on the hdgifts livejournal community. Her prompts included a snowy picture, and the phrases "sharing cigarettes," and "a cottage in the woods." This is what we ended up with. Happy birthday lovely!


"This is a joke. A bloody, fucking joke."

"I'd say it was a trench," Harry says conversationally, not bothering to turn his head to look at the person who is sat next to him, shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip.

"That's the joke. That we're in a trench."

"It's our job," Harry says, and shifts slightly to scratch his nose on the rough blanket he's wrapped up in, poking a finger out into the cold air to push his glasses back up his nose.

"My job is catching criminals. Fuck this. I should have been a curse breaker."

Harry turns his head to shoot Draco an amused look, but Draco doesn't notice. He's hunched over with his knees tucked under his pointed chin, wrapped in a rough scratchy blanket just as Harry is. He stares out over the snowy field into the woods beyond, looking forlorn.

"You're no good at breaking things. Only noses," Harry says, turning back to look out over the frozen expanse of countryside beyond their trench.

"Yeah. I'm nearly as good at breaking noses as you are at breaking your ex-girlfriends heart."

"Was that even a proper sentence?"

A pointed elbow knocks him in the side and he laughs, his breath a white puff of mist in the air. Draco grumbles something inaudible and then settles back down to watch, as per the job description. Harry hears rustling sounds and then a familiar click, followed by the smell of cigarette smoke, sharp on the cold air.

"This is a fucking joke."

Harry smiles tiredly. "So you've said."

Something hits against his blankets again and he briefly looks over to see Draco has swatted at him with the back of his hand. He's wearing black fingerless gloves and held in his fingers is a single cigarette. Harry tilts over sideways, unwilling to unwrap his blanket and expose himself to the frigid air. Draco makes an impatient noise in the back of his throat but obliges, reaching up to place the cigarette between Harry's lips, and then leaning over to light it for him.

"Thanks," Harry says, words muffled around the obstruction in his mouth. "You running low yet?"

Draco snorts with laughter, scratching his eyebrow with his thumb. "All I packed is five clean pairs of underwear and two thousand cigarettes. We're fine."

"No Armani?" Harry asks, edging two fingers out from beneath his blanket to take hold of the cigarette.

"For sitting in a fucking trench?" Draco replies, blowing out smoke and staring out over the whiteness. "Not likely, even from me."

"It wasn't my idea to send us to the arse end of nowhere and sit in a trench all day," Harry says somewhat impatiently, flopping down onto the rickety sofa which groans in protest. "So stop bitching."

"Fucking unicorns. I'd kill them all just to stop people fucking poaching them," Draco replies irritably, standing by the window and staring out into the darkness. "Two weeks and we haven't seen shit."

"I know, but it's a big reserve," Harry says for the millionth time. "We've got to watch that pass in case they come back."

Silence falls and for long blissful moments all Harry can hear is the soft crackling of the fire he's lit in the hearth. Sighing deeply, he tilts his head back, shutting his eyes and letting his aching body relax.

"It's snowing," Draco says after a while.

Harry cracks an eye open to look at Draco. "Funny that, considering its winter."

"Shut up."

A familiar click and the smell of smoke, and then the sound of Draco exhaling heavily. Harry can imagine him staring morosely out of the window, smoke curling out of his nostrils, just like his namesake.

"I don't suppose-" Harry begins lazily and then grins as something light hits him in the side of the head. He opens his eyes and picks up the cigarette, and slips it into his mouth. A second later and something harder hits him in the side of the head.

"Fucking arse," he mutters, and picks up the lighter, smiling nonetheless.

"So," Draco says, pushing away from the window and walking over, flopping down onto the sofa and knocking Harry with his elbow, sitting close as if it's not enough that he spends fourteen hours a day crammed into a trench at Harry's side. "This place is a shithole."

"Suck it up," Harry says, taking a drag of his cigarette. He doesn't think the cottage is that bad, really. Yes, it's a thousand miles from anything, the windows rattle and drafts get in everywhere, but it serves its purpose and his bed is surprisingly comfortable. "We can't go back to London and you know it. Can't go anywhere we could be seen."

Draco mutters something vehement under his breath and Harry knows he's still fuming about the fact there are two interns in their office, polyjuiced into Harry and Draco to provide cover. Harry doesn't mind, at least they might actually get their paperwork done seeing as they're confined to the office. He just hopes the pair don't do anything stupid whilst wearing their appearances. He and Draco get told off enough as it is.

"No magic," Draco says hollowly. "No magical traces. No warmth, or good food-"

"You're an Auror. Stop being such a baby," Harry shakes his head and lifts the cigarette to his mouth again. "Christ, I'd rather be partnered with Shaw."

"No you would not," Draco says archly and then heaves out a sigh. He slumps down the sofa, resting his head against Harry's shoulder, and miraculously goes quiet. The snow continues to fall as the night grows darker and darker, and as he thinks about the past three years Harry concedes that despite the bitching, bickering and whining, he'd still rather be partnered with Draco than anyone else.

Funny how things turn out, really.

Harry doesn't break his gaze as a body slithers down the side of the trench and lands at the bottom with a thump, knocking Harry with knees and elbows.

"You're late," Harry says.

"So what?" Draco replies, eyes scanning the field and woods beyond before dragging his blanket around his shoulders and settling back.

"I saw something," Harry says, and reaches out to take the cigarette that Draco has tucked under the edge of his black woolly hat.

"You did?" Draco perks up immediately, sitting up slightly even though they can see over the edge of the trench when they're slumping down. Trench isn't the right word for it really, Harry thinks. It's more like a foxhole, or would be if they were in a war rather than spying on unicorn poachers.

"No," Harry says, and Draco swears and turns around to slap at him. Harry laughs and Draco shoves him and slaps at his head again, the effect muted by gloves and Harry's hat.

"You arse," Draco fumes, and snatches the cigarette back. Harry makes a noise of protest and then Draco growls and chucks it back. Not even bothering to hide his grin, he picks it up off the frozen grown and blows the flakes of snow off of it.

"Do you think anyone actually believes you still hate me?" he asks.

Draco sighs and leans over to light Harry's cigarette for him. They both cup their hands around it, shielding it from the wind. It flares to life and Draco sits back, expression glum.

"Probably not."

They're past shivering. It's so damn cold and they've been out here for nigh on a month, so even Draco has given up on complaining. They spend their days with numb fingers and toes, bodies hurting and aching deep down in their bones. It snows again and again, and some mornings they have to dig out their trench, silently and bitterly wishing they could use magic just once.

They both look complete states. Shaving has gone out of the window, and personal hygiene is slowly slipping down the priority list as the thought of having to get undressed for a shower in luke-warm water makes them both cringe. It's curious for Harry to see Draco with days worth of dirty-blond stubble and a streak of dirt on his face from god-knows when; he's normally clean and tidy and immaculately dressed in clothes that cost more than Harry's entire wardrobe.

Harry is sure he's only sane because Draco is there, winding him up and getting in the way, and supplying him with an endless supply of cigarettes. They've been cigarette-buddies since they started auror training; slipping out of the back for a sneaky smoke whilst everyone else tutted and rolled their eyes.

Five years and they've never once called each other friends, but neither of them are really bothered. They're the odd couple of their bizarre social group, even though they're not actually a couple. They're auror partners, smoking buddies, wine-mates and now apparently co-inhabitants of a snow filled trench somewhere in western Scotland.

Harry's pretty sure Draco's almost asleep; it's half hour until they can go back to the cottage and unfreeze their limbs, and he hasn't made an utterance in a long while. Harry would kill for a warming charm or two right about now.

A crack across the field draws his attention. He raises his omnioculars to his eyes and twiddles the night vision dial. Trees fade in and out of focus and then he draws in a sharp breath, the cold air biting his lungs.

"Draco," he whispers, elbowing the body next to him. "Draco."

Draco stirs and lifts his head up. He looks sick and tired and angry.

"Shut up," Harry breathes before Draco can say anything. "Look."

"Fuck me," Draco whispers and he's spotted it too; glowing in the moonlight across the other side of the field, a unicorn trots slowly along the edge of the trees. Harry glances down at his watch to log the time and then at Draco. He's almost as pale as the bloody unicorn, though he's not glowing. He's just sitting and staring, open mouthed in wonder.

The unicorn stops, lowers its head, and then moves with startling speed, twisting around and cantering off back into the trees and out of sight.

"Wow," Draco says, sounding awed. Harry laughs shortly and then bites his lip.

"You do realise we have to stay out for another hour now?" he says.

"Yeah," Draco says with a sigh. He shifts around under his blanket and then pulls out two cigarettes, held in shaking fingers. He puts both in his mouth, dips his head to light them, and then reaches up to take one and pass it to Harry.

Harry takes it gratefully and takes a deep drag, thankful for the familiar and comforting routine. He pauses as he feels something tugging at his blankets down at his side. He waits it out and feels Draco's elbow press into his side, and then a hand steals under the edge of his blanket. Without even thinking about it, he swaps his cigarette to his other hand and then slips the other under his blanket, folding his fingers around Draco's. They're both wearing fingerless gloves and he can feel Draco's freezing cold skin against his own.

"Warmer," Draco says unnecessarily, eyes looking out over the darkness, the white of the snow glinting in the moonlight.

Harry knows auror partners aren't strictly required to hold hands on missions, if at all, but he's cold and his mind is sluggish and he can't be bothered to analyse it. He'd make a snarky comment about Draco being scared of the dark, but the appearance of the unicorn has made the atmosphere calm and peaceful and almost ethereal in a way he can't quite pinpoint, and he doesn't want to break it.

Somewhere in the distant part of his mind that hasn't frozen solid, he thinks that maybe he and Draco are about to become more than auror partners, smoking buddies, wine-mates and co-inhabitants of a snow filled trench somewhere in western Scotland.

He flicks the end of his cigarette away and slips his other hand under the blankets, to hold onto Draco's with both of his own.

In hindsight, he should have better anticipated Draco's next move. It's the dead of the morning and he's almost sleeping, buried under a mountain of blankets. A noise draws him into wakefulness, the creaking of the bedroom door and then soft footsteps. He opens his eyes and reaches for his glasses, the frames cold under his fingers.

He props himself up on his elbow and sees Draco in the dark, wrapped in a blanket and looking at him with a strange expression on his face. Harry doesn't ask what or why, because he already knows. Draco steps forwards and drops the blanket, and he's only wearing a thin pair of pyjama bottoms. Without a word, Draco clambers onto Harry's bed and slips beneath the covers, body warm but feet fucking freezing.

He rolls over and carefully, slowly moves over Harry so he's lying atop him, almost nose to nose in the gloom. Harry pulls the blankets back up over Draco's shoulders and around them both, opening his legs so Draco's body sits comfortably between them.

"Keeping warm?" Harry asks, his voice low.

Draco nods, eyes flickering over Harry's face. "I've fucking had it with being cold."

The body pressed against him is warm and growing steadily warmer and Harry can't think of a decent objection. Sleeping with your partner is probably against the rules and probably a sure-fire recipe for disasters, but he's sick of being cold too, and the idea of forgetting about it for even a short while is a welcome one. Harry slowly moves to wrap his arms around Draco, palms splayed out over his back, and then Draco lowers his head to gently press his mouth to Harry's.

What Harry remembers most is the heat. He remembers heavy breathing, limbs wrapping together, movements slow and deliberate. They have to go slow to avoid sending the blankets slithering to the floor because the whole point of this is to keep warm.

At least Harry thinks that's what the point is as he tips his head back, gasping quietly as Draco thrusts slow and strong, mouthing down Harry's neck. He's breathing deeply and unsteadily, and his body fits into Harry's like it's been there for years.

Harry lifts a hand to pull the blankets more securely over Draco's shoulders, loathe to let the cold air in. Before he can manage it though, Draco lets go of his hip to reach up and catch his hand. He threads their fingers together and presses Harry's hand down into the pillow next to his head. Breath hitching as Draco's hips shift again, Harry lifts his other hand and lets Draco repeat the action. Lips brush his and Harry catches Draco's mouth in a kiss, holding on tightly to the hands in his as Draco picks up the pace slightly, making Harry ache for more.

He forgets all about the cold, as if it were never there. Although, he realises later that forgetting about that gives his mind chance to think about something else.

Snow crunches underfoot as the trudge slowly along to their trench. Weak sunlight filters through the trees. They're late, but neither is making comment. They just walk side by side in comfortable silence, following the same path that they have trodden for the last month, even though it's now completely different.

A familiar click catches Harry's ears and he smiles quietly. He turns to look and Draco is already holding out a lit cigarette to him, face impassive. He takes it with a nod and something like relief flitters over Draco's face as he lights another.

"You do realise you now owe me about two hundred smokes?" he says, lips clamped around his own cigarette as he tugs his collar straight.

"You owe me a life-debt," Harry counters and Draco rolls his eyes. Back to normal in three point four seconds.

"We're ridiculously late."

"Not my fault we both slept through the alarm," Harry replies, reaching out to push a branch out the way. He lets it go so it springs back and grins as he hears a curse from behind him.

"Twat. You were closest to it."

"How the hell does that make it-?"

Harry breaks off as he steps onto the frozen bank of earth that marks the back of their trench. Draco makes an impatient noise and pushes him aside so he can see, coming to as an abrupt a halt as Harry did.

"Well, son of a bitch."

The field is chaos. Eight or nine of their colleagues are visible, some pointing wands at a bunch of rough-looking men who are all bound in place with incarcerous. Another is holding a rope and trying to calm a unicorn which is whinnying in fright and tossing its head, a shining silver streak visible on its flank. As they stand there, loud cracks signal more apparations and red-robed aurors appear on the scene, much to the dismay of the captured poachers.

"How much trouble would you say we're in?" Harry asks conversationally as they watch two more colleagues drag another man out of the woods.

"Oh I don't know. Is a fuck-ton metric or imperial?" Draco replies, cigarette forgotten halfway to his mouth.

Harry takes a deep drag on his own cigarette, feeling strange as he realises that they're probably no longer required to stay. He blows out smoke and shrugs. "At least we're out of the trench."

Harry runs a hand over his chin for the twentieth time that evening, unused to feeling bare skin. Music drifts through the room alongside the laughter and chatter. Spirits are high; the celebration has been commissioned for those involved with the breaking of the poaching racket. Harry's warm and comfortable and he's already forgetting how it felt to be cold.

Unfortunately, he can't quite forget what it felt like to be in the dark with Draco Malfoy. He keeps thinking about what happened and finds it simply feels fine and natural, like it's the progression the world has been waiting for. Inevitable. Impossible to regret.


Harry turns and smiles. Draco is there, hands shoved in the trouser pockets of a bespoke suit. Everyone in the room is suited and booted but as always, he looks ten times better than the rest of them combined.

"Back to Armani?" Harry grins.

"Well, we're out of the trench," Draco concedes, and there's something different in the way he looks at Harry, some secret in his smile.

"I've got you a present," Harry says, and Draco quirks an eyebrow. Harry slips his hand into his pocket and pulls out a box of cigarettes, wrapped in a silver bow. He tosses it to Draco, who catches it reflexively. He stares at the box for long moments and then laughs.

"You complete arse. This is what, twenty? You must have smoked hundreds of mine."

"It's the thought that counts," Harry says, and takes a step casual forwards, closer. He nods over towards the door that leads to the veranda .

"Fancy sneaking out for one?"

Draco eyes him carefully and then he smiles, and Harry knows the secret because it's his, too. "Yeah," Draco says, and they both step forwards, shoulder to shoulder. They walk across the room together, and as they near the doors Harry feels a hand brush against him, and then long fingers thread gently through his.

"Keeping warm," Draco says without looking at him.

Harry smiles.