Harry was happy to not think about the Dursley's for a while as Sam had insisted that it wasn't urgent and they had to find a way to get Harry out of America and currently he had no documents. He wasn't sure how they planned to get around it but he was glad to put it out of his mind. Getting them from his mind though, meant that his mind drifted towards Paul. He was aware that their relationship had grown fairly stagnant. Paul had been afraid of losing control so understandably they had stayed apart during the days they were affected by the full moon and then with the entire affair with the elders they had not gotten any time to reconnect. Harry was longing for the contact. He had to admit that as much as he tried to keep himself from losing himself in Paul's charm it was an idle effort. He found himself wishing for their long talks and treks through the forest. He missed that sometimes he could just be in his animagus form and Paul would just carry and cuddle him all day, talk to him and make him feel like the most cherished thing on the planet. It didn't matter that he was closed in and reserved, even when he got lost in himself, ignored him for no reason it was nice to know that the older male understood his reservations and wasn't even phased by his moodiness. With Sam and Emily he found that like any child he wanted to be on his best behavior, wanted to please them and gain their approval. He had actually never felt that with Paul. He didn't feel the need to be his best he didn't even feel the need to get Paul's approval, not that he didn't care about it, but it had never felt necessary. So far everything good that he had come across in his life was something that he felt he had to work to deserve, something that he need to show his appreciation to. But Paul, he was the one good thing that he felt just belonged to him, that was just meant to be his, or rather the opposite. Paul made Harry feel like he needed him, like everything he was, is and will be was perfectly fashioned for him and all Harry needed to do was to embrace himself as he was and accept what they had. He was slightly ashamed of his thoughts, of feeling like Paul was supposed to pursue, to try his hardest to please him and win his favor. At least that was until Emily explained to him that that was exactly the way she felt about Sam in the beginning of their relationship. The wolf spirit of the tribe was strong in that respect, the dominant partner was the one who did pursuing, it was their job to show that they were the best choice for their chosen submissive and they expected their partner to embrace this and behave in a manner that they can at least pretend that they 'won' their submissive by usurping all other potential suitors. Harry missed Paul's attention and the way he tried to monopolize Harry's every thought. And as much as he missed him he just couldn't approach him. He felt as though he hadn't gotten that right yet. He knew that Paul wouldn't mind but on a lesser, instinctual level he was mortified of approaching the other and finding that his attention had moved on to another possible submissive and Harry's continuing interest was unfounded and unwelcome.
He didn't notice it at first but even though he had been separated from Paul his attachment to him was growing and now his wolf needed reassurance and comfort that it was going about their courtship in the right way and his attitude had not actually displeased the older wolf. Paul also felt the change in their bond. He supposed it wasn't exactly changing but they had just not realized before just how strong it had grown. It was hard keeping his distance but it was more on his wolf side than his human one and he wished that he had taken time to explain in-depth to harry just how the wolf instincts would affect their interaction. Now that he had spent so much time trying to prove that he was worthy to Harry's wolf, his wolf had now gotten to the phase in the relationship where the power really started to shift. In the absence the submissive would either find that they missed the other and accept the relationship and the other's dominance over them or they would find themselves barely affected, possibly relieved and they would reject the other if they did decide to continue pursuing them. He was overcoming his need to prove himself and please Harry. He knew that Harry was no longer going to feel as though he had to test him, in fact judging by the way he felt, he was sure that he would be yearning to feel cherished and protected by him, just as that urge was slowly taking over his other instincts. He was relieved when he finally could think of approaching harry without his wolf rebelling and taking over because as much as he tried to get close all that happened was him spontaneously shifting and running halfway across the forest before he realized just what he was doing, though that didn't stop him from attempting at least once a day. Needless to say there was no holding him back when he found that he could approach harry with no repercussions. When he got to Sam's house, his alpha and his wife were nowhere to be seen. He would have knocked on the front door but the pack was at Sam's house so often that the alpha had gotten annoyed and granted them free entry. He snuck upstairs despite knowing that Harry wouldn't have noticed him regardless. His imprint was asleep, that was strange in itself. He knew that Harry had problems sleeping, every night either Sam or Emily had to be with him until he fell asleep and sometimes he would wake up when they left and have to sleep with them. Before that Harry would go nights without proper sleep and would only let himself drift off when Paul was with him and only after Paul had reassured him that it was okay. Suffice to say, Harry was not the type to sleep away the afternoon and Paul hated to think that in his absence something had happened to his imprint. He rushed over to the bed as fast as he could without startling harry from his sleep. At the bedside he saw a note on the other pillow. It was Sam and Emily saying sorry for leaving Harry when he was asleep but they knew he wouldn't want to leave incase Paul came over and they needed to get groceries. He smiled at the note before removing it and taking its place on the pillow. He curled up along Harry's back and draped a hand over his abdomen. He had mastered the art of maneuvering himself around Harry when he was asleep without waking him. He allowed himself to just take in his scent as he slept, knowing that he would sleep longer being held and that he must have been fairly tired in the first place. Grocery shopping for the pack was a daunting and expensive task. He knew Sam and Emily had started buying a lot of things wholesale but for the best price they had to go a fair distance so they would not be back anytime soon. He was aching for time alone with his imprint. Eventually Harry started to wake didn't seem frightened to wake up in someone else's arms and Paul couldn't decide how he felt about that. He put the letter that Sam left right in front of Harry's face. That would be enough to tell him that it was Sam that was holding him, he also knew that the note would make him blush because for one thing they had signed the note 'mom & dad' and more importantly it insinuated that harry had been pinning our Paul in his absence. Harry took the note and true to form started to blush before he stilled and Paul knew then that he realized just who it was that was holding him.
"Paul?" His voice was soft and tentative and spoke volumes as to how much he missed Paul.
"The one and only." Harry struggled to turn over in Paul's arms and look at him and when he finally succeeded he knew that it was only because Paul had let him. The two weeks apart had felt much longer to the younger wolf and he searched his imprints face for some kind of difference, any sort of change. And although he didn't see any physical changes he could feel that something had indeed changed
"I missed you."
"I know. I missed you to. I wouldn't have stayed away so long if I didn't have to. "
"Yeah, Dad told me everything…as much as I begged him to stop."
"Mmhmm, but I think I would have picked him over you any day. Now that would have been awkward."
They just lay their quietly for several minutes, neither speaking, simply catching up. And the room was comfortably silent until Sam and Emily came home and the four spent the afternoon catching up.
Harry didn't know how or when during the course of the afternoon, he let Paul convince him to go to the beach in the middle of the night. The air had raised goose flesh on his arms and he could only imagine how frigid the water was going to be. He had absolutely no doubt that Paul expected them to go swimming. He had to admit it thought that it was beautiful. The entire beach had a silvery tint and the moon lighted the water in a way that made it all surreal. The tide had risen but rather than the severe push and pull he was expecting the water had calmed dramatically to just lap the shoreline. The wind blew and a shiver ran down his back before stopping abruptly as Paul hugged him from behind. The heat he radiated warmed harry instantly. And he was suddenly every happy that he decided to come. It took a while for him to realize that Paul was shirtless and while he had seen him so most of the time the scenery made it feel different, more intimate. In spite of himself he jumped when Paul spoke into his ear.
"You can't go swimming with all your clothes on."
"Paul it's freezing, you can't honestly think that swimming now is a good idea, I'll probably get hypothermia."
"You won't and trust me; it won't be so bad once you get in."
Harry would be the first to admit that he put up a pretty pathetic fight but in truth he didn't really want to fight. He was perfectly content trusting what Paul wanted to, knowing on some deeper level that Paul would only ever do right by him. Still that didn't make it any easier to strip in front of him. He had never been this exposed with only Paul before. Whenever they had gone swimming it had always been in a group of some sort. Harry didn't have much time to think however because Paul's arms were around him again but this time they were face to face and Harry allowed his imprint to coax him to wrap his legs around his waist. It was apposition that made him blush and for a few seconds he couldn't help the fact that he could help but think of what Sam's reaction would be if he were to see them in that position. Harry hugged himself closer as Paul walked into the surf. A chill ran down his spine at the mere thought of the freezing water on his skin. He felt ridiculous though when Paul lowered them and the water was not frigid but more tepid, and to top it all off Paul's body heat was no less effective underwater. Paul was nice enough not to say anything he just kept walking further and further into the water.
"You won't be able to stand soon."
"Paul, where are you taking me?"
"I just…I need to be alone with you. Like really alone. Even when it is just the two of us I can smell everyone, sense them, when really I just want to lose myself in you."
"I felt like that when you stopped coming over. I could still smell you around my room but then everybody else started overpowering it and then it was just…just gone when you were the only one I wanted to be around."
Paul knew that Harry would have been the worse off after being apart. His wolf would think that it was to blame. He knew that he would need some reassurance and that was only cemented when harry not only wrapped his legs around his waist but nuzzled his neck and whimpered.
"I am sorry I made you have to leave."
"Harry it wasn't your fault."
"It was, if I had just accepted you from the beginning you wouldn't have felt like you need to stay away."
"Even if you had it wouldn't have made a difference. That is just how the imprinting is. Rationally I knew that it was pointless and I wanted to be near you but my wolf need to prove to you that you needed me as much as I needed you."
"But I needed you more. I felt like you were abandoning me, like after everything you…"
"Shhh. I need you to figure out the difference between your feelings and your wolf's. If you are not careful it will drive you crazy."
"I'm already crazy."
Harry was vaguely aware that he couldn't stand now even if he wanted to; in fact he realized that they were no longer moving. Well they were but rather than Paul walking backwards he was simply kicking his legs and it too him too long to realize that they had gone out to a point where they were simply floating along and he tensed.
"shh I got you. Trust me."
Surprisingly he did and calmed down. He rationalized that Paul had more than enough power in his muscle to not only keep them afloat but to direct them where ever he wanted to go.
"Now I need you to reach over and get on my back."
As soon as harry did so. He turned over and started powering through the water. Harry could hardly see where they were going until they were there. It was something of an offshore island; a large stony looking structure that stood tall from the ocean but from the underside there was a small opening that lead into a larger cave. Paul detached harry from him for only a moment to let him through first before following. Almost immediately the deep ocean swallowed and they were walking in waist deep water and up a slope of fine sand. Harry was in awe the entire set up seemed surreal and he looked at Paul in amazement.
"I came here a lot over the past few weeks. It was easier to be away from you when I distance myself from everything. It is pretty close to shore. If I was cliff diving I could get here in around five minutes depending on how fast I go but I didn't want you anywhere near the cliff much less jumping off of it. "
The rock overhead was porous and moonlight filtered in, bathing the cave in an unearthly glow. Paul watched as harry dragged himself up to dry sand and sat cross-legged right in the path of the light. His breath caught.
"God your beautiful." Harry whined.
"Paul…stop saying thing like that."
He didn't need to look at harry to know that he was blushing. His head was ducked and Paul wasted no time in closing the distance between them and lifting his chin. He brushed back a few stray strands of his hair, that hadn't been cut since he first woke up in the forest.
"Can I kiss you?" harry gulped.
"You know it kind of ruins the mood when you ask, next time…"
Before he could finish Paul's lips were on his. It wasn't a deep passionate kiss but rather a lingering peck. But it still made harry flush and his heart speed up. And then it was done. Harry tried to pull away and Paul wouldn't let him. He spoke his next words grazing Harry's lips.
"I love you harry."
"Don't say anything. Just…don't question me, don't say it back just…just let it be."
Harry didn't know how long he sat there just looking at Paul. Taking in every part of him and feeling his heart swell with the fact that Paul loved him. They were almost nose to nose and Harry daringly closed the few centimeters and pecked Paul's lips, much like he had just done, but this time he pulled back completely and the red of his blush was visible even in the silvery light. Paul simply stood and held out hand was his hand. They both felt like harry taking his hand signified a greater shift in their relationship but felt the need to address it. And then Paul was taking him back to shore. This time harry was on his back the entire trip and they got back much faster than it took to get out there. The frigid night air brought harry back to his senses in an unpleasant way until Paul picked him up and guided his legs around his waist once more. This time it didn't feel awkward and he easily settled down into his hold. He didn't even remember drifting off to sleep.