Harry wakes slowly, the warmth of the sun seeming to soak right through his skin and into his bones; the rays stream across closed eyelids and illuminate his darkened dream world with bright white light.
With great reluctance he opens sleep-filled emerald eyes.
Harry blinks and sits up in surprise.
He's lying in the midst of a four-poster bamboo bed with filmy white curtains pulled back with a tie in each corner. The bed is off to the side of a large room in which there are windows on every side, there is a small kitchen and dining area, lounge, a door leading off to a grand ensuite, and in the centre of it all is a large glass panel in the floor. Through the glass is the stunning turquoise water of the Pacific Ocean with the occasional colourful fish lazily swimming past.
Harry swings his legs off of the bed and sets his bare feet down on the soft straw mat beneath. The last thing he can remember is gliding along in the car from the airport after landing late last night, the scenery outside of the window had been too dark to make out and his eyes had quickly grown heavy with exhaustion.
The remainder of their flight had been quiet and uneventful, except for a strangely awkward moment when Harry had gone to use the loo and Draco was on his way out. The blond had looked quite nervous to be at such close quarters with him. Even Harry's attempt at humour, asking Malfoy if he was interested in joining the mile high club, did nothing to erase the tension.
Harry stands and slowly makes his way towards the open balcony doors to his left. He is completely awestruck as he walks out onto the small wooden deck.
The only adjective he can properly formulate in his head is "paradise." The shimmering ocean water is such a vibrant blue that he has to squint against the glare. The sun is low in the sky; indicating that it's still morning. Across the ocean he can just make out the dark green forested hills rising out of the water, a few cloud wisps hanging around their impressive peaks.
Harry leans his elbows on the railing of the deck as he takes it all in. He somehow feels as though London is a life of black and white and now suddenly there is colour. There is no smog here, no pollution or cars or people moving past at a hurried pace. There is nothing but peace and relaxation and the gentle sound of lapping water.
Harry turns his head to the right and spots Malfoy standing on a deck similar to his own attached to the hut next door. The blond hasn't noticed him yet. Harry tilts his head quizzically as the Slytherin moves into strange poses, one after another. He suddenly realizes that Malfoy is doing yoga.
Harry has to smile a little at how strange it is to see Malfoy so at ease; with closed eyes and slow graceful movements taking him from pose to pose. He almost looks like a dancer. Harry has to admit he's finding it hard to look away from the captivating routine. Not only is he fluid-like in his movements, but Malfoy has the most flawless body he's ever seen.
Harry suddenly feels like he's intruding on something private and forces himself to turn away and head back into the hut.
He wanders over to the small kitchen area and smiles when he sees that breakfast is already laid out for him. There is a small tray full of fresh fruit, a plate of toast with melted butter, and poached eggs with what looks like some sort of hollandaise sauce. Beside the tray is a tall glass of orange juice and a steaming pot of tea.
"Yum," Harry says to himself as he settles himself down at the table and digs in. He nearly rolls his eyes in ecstasy at the taste of the poached eggs and hollandaise.
There's a sudden knock at the door as Harry is using the last of his toast to mop up the leftover sauce.
"Come in!" Harry calls out.
The door is pushed open and Draco steps in, looking around cautiously.
"Hi Malfoy," Harry greets, suddenly feeling quite awkward. The decision to come to this island had been on a whim and now he is having to live with his rash decision-making.
"Good morning Potter," Draco greets, glancing at Harry's empty breakfast plate. "Enjoying the cuisine?"
"It's delicious," Harry replies, wiping his mouth with a cloth napkin while sitting back in his chair. "So… what's on the schedule for today?"
Draco walks in and perches on the edge of the back of the wicker sofa, crossing his arms over his chest. "Whatever you wish," he replies easily. "Snorkeling or sailing, or simply lazing around the cabins here…"
Harry cocks his head to one side curiously. "I feel like I'm being wined and dined for some ulterior motive Malfoy."
Draco's blond brows knit together, grey eyes looking quite concerned. "It's just a mini-break Potter – nothing more."
Harry frowns as Draco suddenly stands, avoiding his eyes, and strides over to the window. After a pause, Harry pushes back his chair and wanders over to his ex-nemesis, observing his suddenly defensive companion.
"I didn't mean anything by that comment," Harry finally offers, mystified by Malfoy's reaction.
Draco half-smiles and shakes his head. "This was a mistake," he says quietly.
Harry searches the Slytherin's face, wondering what was going on behind that smooth façade. The blond almost looks pained. "What is?"
Draco sighs and slips slender pale hands into his trouser pockets. "This trip."
"No it's not," Harry argues. He can't help but smile at Malfoy's melodramatics. "This trip is awesome. Did I not mention how I've always always wanted to visit Tahitit? You could almost say that you've made my dreams come true Malfoy."
Draco's lips twitch into a reluctant smile as he throws a glance at Harry's lopsided grin.
"Come on you prat," Harry chides, straightening up. "Let's go snorkeling."
"Do I really have to wear this?" Harry asks, holding up the thin wetsuit, swaying a little as the boat rocks in the small swells.
Draco glances up from where he is collecting their snorkeling gear and nods. "Yes Potter, the water may feel warm now but once you're in there for a while a person does tend get cold."
Harry shrugs and proceeds to struggle his way into the tight black suit.
Draco slips into his own suit with practiced ease. He gathers their gear and turns to Harry.
"How do I look?" Harry asks, feeling slightly ridiculous in the tight suit.
Draco has to swallow when he catches sight of the fit brunette in the body-hugging outfit. "Fine. Now take this and fit the mask to your face," he instructs, handing over the snorkel and mask.
Harry nods and slides the strap over his head, adjusting the size slightly to fit snugly to his head.
"I should have asked this before, but have you ever snorkeled before Potter?" Draco asks, sitting on the edge of the boat and pulling on his long sleek flippers.
Harry nods with a smile and walks over to sit next to Malfoy, copying him by slipping on the long flippers in preparation. Without another word, Harry jumps into the clear turquoise water with a splash.
Draco quickly jumps in next to him and adjusts his own snorkel before following closely along behind the excited Gryffindor.
For the next hour and a half, the two young men swim and chase after the colourful fish, pointing out great floating turtles and different types of rays skimming the sandy bottom of the ocean floor, brilliantly coloured coral and plant life, and even a friendly dolphin that goes zipping past at top speed.
The two surface next to the boat and lift their snorkelling masks.
"That was brilliant!" Harry exclaims instantly, treading water with a huge grin.
Draco can't help but smile in return at Harry's exuberance. "Glad you enjoyed it. Hungry?"
Draco turns and pulls himself up onto the back of the boat to remove his flippers before standing and stepping back onto the sleek sailing vessel.
Harry starts to swim towards the platform on the back of the boat when he suddenly spies a large turtle swimming down near the ocean floor – accompanied by what looks like a very young baby turtle. Harry instantly slips his mask back on, leaving his snorkel on the boat platform before diving straight down to investigate the little family.
He equalizes once on his descent; a trick he learned a long time ago on another holiday when he took a couple of scuba lessons. He slowly approaches the two animals while trying to keep himself from floating back up towards the surface. Harry smiles on closer inspection of the baby turtle. It's the first one he's ever seen in the wild.
Harry jolts when something suddenly clamps down on his arm. He spins around to see Draco swimming next to him, a stony look on his face and an iron grip on his bicep.
Harry glares and tries to wrench his arm free but Malfoy has it locked tight within his hand.
Draco begins to swim upwards with Harry in tow. The brunette wants to refuse but he is running out of air so he reluctantly acquiesces.
"What the hell Malfoy?" Harry exclaims breathlessly as soon as they break the surface.
Draco treads water next to him, looking angry. "I didn't know where you'd gone Potter. You can't go off on your own."
"What?" Harry spits in annoyance. "I'm not some child that you're babysitting Malfoy!"
"It's not safe to snorkel on your own here," Draco explains tightly. "Sharks have been sighted in this area."
Harry simply rolls his eyes and swims for the boat, steaming. He quickly pulls himself up onto the platform and tosses his flippers and mask into the large bucket in the rear before turning back towards Draco who is climbing into the boat.
"I'm pretty good at handling myself Malfoy," Harry expostulates, crossing his arms over his chest, dark tendrils of wet hair hanging low over his brow.
"I know." Draco runs an agitated hand through his hair releasing a shaky breath. "I just… I turned around and you were gone. I didn't know…"
Harry's stormy expression eases a little at Draco's expression. The blond looks just like a parent who turns to find their child missing for a few heart-stopping minutes and then is swamped by the utter relief of finding them again. Harry uncrosses his arms with a confused frown.
"I guess I should've told you I was going back down," Harry says slowly, "but… why do you care so much?"
Draco swallows and turns to place his own snorkelling gear into the storage container. "Because you are my responsibility while you are here Potter. I wouldn't want to be known as the wizard who let Harry Potter be eaten by a shark."
Harry frowns. Something in Malfoy's tone makes him think it's more than that.
"Still hungry?" Draco asks, turning back to him with a forced smile, still looking slightly paler than normal.
Harry decides to let it go so that their trip is not spoilt. The blond is just looking after his best interest, he supposes. He nods mutely and reaches for the zip on his wetsuit.
Draco quickly ducks into the cabin of the boat to prepare their lunch.
Harry hangs up his dripping suit and dresses back into his shorts and t-shirt. He's just rubbing down his wet hair with a fluffy white towel that has little anchors around the edges when Draco emerges once more from down below, two plates loaded with food in hand and two bottles of water tucked under each arm.
"Thanks," Harry accepts gratefully as he is passed the plate and a water bottle. "Mmm… smells delicious," he adds, hoping to ease the tension that their outing has suddenly garnered.
The plates each contain a chicken burger with avocado and sautéed mushrooms, a tossed salad and some carrot sticks.
"Are you a health nut Malfoy?" Harry asks around a mouthful of chicken burger.
"Not particularly," Draco replies, crunching delicately on a crispy carrot stick. "I do like to watch my sugar intake."
"Not me," Harry says with a smile. "I'm addicted to the stuff."
Draco raises one brow before silently taking another bite of his carrot stick.
"So…do you live in London then?" Harry asks, suddenly realising that he didn't know.
"For the most part, yes," Draco confirms with a nod.
"Let me guess, in Buckingham Palace?"
Draco smirks. "Not quite."
Harry chuckles as he starts munching on salad.
"Do you…enjoy living in London?" Draco asks with interest.
Harry shrugs, spearing a piece of celery with his plastic fork. "It's alright. For a city."
"Where would you rather reside?"
Harry pops the celery into his mouth and crunches thoughtfully. "Somewhere a bit more isolated maybe, perhaps in Scotland."
Draco nods, processing this. "On your own?"
Again Harry shrugs carelessly. "I like being on my own."
"But you're not often on your own now," Draco points out.
Harry grins as he takes a swig from the cold bottle of Evian. "One night stands don't count."
Draco chews thoughtfully, watching him.
Harry's bravado seems to wilt a little under the intense grey gaze. He clears his throat awkwardly and changes the subject. "What about you Malfoy, any significant other in your life?"
"No," Draco responds immediately, cutting his chicken burger into two halves and picking one side up to take a bite.
"Really?" Harry replies in surprise. "I thought rich handsome bachelors were never lonely."
Draco smiles a little as he chews. "Handsome?" he repeats with interest after swallowing.
Harry snorts and bites into one of the carrot sticks. "Oh please Malfoy, I'm pretty sure you were voted 'sexiest Slytherin' back at Hogwarts."
Draco smirks at him before taking a sip from his water.
Harry rolls his eyes and the two fall into a comfortable silence as they both finish eating their lunch. The bright blue sky over-head stretches on for miles with hardly a cloud in sight. The boat rocks gently from side to side on the sparkling ocean surface, the odd fish splashing next to them every few minutes.
After lunch Draco takes the helm once more and takes them back to their resort at a leisurely pace, Harry relaxing in the back, watching the wake behind them, lost in thought.
Harry pushes into his luxurious hut and flops down unceremoniously into the nearest couch while Draco pauses in the open doorway.
"Come in Malfoy," Harry says, not bothering to open his eyes.
"You look as though you wish to take a nap," Draco says, eyeing him knowingly.
"Not a child…" Harry murmurs before curling up on his side and instantly drifting off.
Draco stays for just a moment more, watching the sleeping Gryffindor with warm eyes and a soft smile on his face before reluctantly turning away and closing the door behind him with a quiet click.
Harry wakes slowly a few hours later in the muted light of early evening, feeling quite refreshed.
"Ow!" he exclaims just as he's stretching his arms up over his head.
Harry sits up and looks at his forearms. "Shit," he swears, upon seeing how red and sunburnt they are. He reaches up and tentatively touches his cheeks and nose, wincing when he encounters more sore skin.
Harry stands and flicks on the light before walking over to the large oval mirror opposite him. He groans inwardly at how red his cheeks, nose and forehead are.
He drops his arms to his side with a shrug and turns away from his embarrassing reflection. Something catches his attention outside on his private balcony and he slowly wanders over to look outside.
His lips part in surprise when he registers what he's seeing. There's a small dining table set up with tall slender candles burning brightly in the centre, two dinner plates concealed by shiny silver covers, and two sets of twinkling champagne glasses.
Harry stares, wondering what on earth is going on. He looks around for Draco but the balcony is empty. He steps outside and walks up to the table. There's even a bouquet of red roses tied by a white ribbon on one of the chairs.
Harry backs away, green eyes wide.
He turns to see Draco standing by his open front door, a concerned look on his face.
"What the fuck is going on here Malfoy?" Harry demands, feeling as though his chest is constricting, restricting his breathing.
"What do you mean?" Draco quickly walks over to him.
Harry merely points to the romantic dinner setting.
Draco frowns and walks over to the open balcony doors. "This…. I didn't do this," he says in bewilderment.
"What?" Harry says. "Then who did?"
Draco turns back to him. "I mean, I ordered a dinner for two from the kitchen but…" he trails off, lost for words. "I didn't specify any sort of romantic dinner."
Harry stares. "Oh come off it Malfoy," he says incredulously. "This whole thing has been a seduction act from the start, admit it."
"Do not flatter yourself Potter," Draco scoffs, grey eyes hardening. "You are not my type."
"Oh no?" Harry challenges.
"No." Draco turns to face him squarely. "You are sloppy, rude, selfish, stubborn, and your life is an absolute mess. You have no direction, no drive to succeed, no capacity for love, and you may be intelligent but you seem to hide it very well."
Harry gapes at him a moment, stunned, before bursting into laughter.
Draco crosses his arms over his chest with a sigh and waits for him to finish.
"I'm sorry, you're right," Harry manages to gasp out. "I'm not your type at all. And you're probably not into short brunettes with massive scars on their foreheads either."
A reluctant smile crosses Draco's face. "Especially not scar-heads who resemble lobsters."
This only sends Harry into another fit of laughter and Draco can't help but chuckle in amusement. The blond quickly sobers though, remembering what he'd just said.
"Harry, please stop laughing," he says. "I'm sorry about what I said. I should not have insulted you like that."
Harry wipes a tear from his eye, still grinning. "It's fine. You didn't say anything that wasn't true."
Draco gazes at him sadly. "Yes well, we will work on that. Shall we eat?"
Harry glances back at the secluded table with amusement. "Why not? No sense wasting it."
Harry picks up the roses and tosses them aside before taking his seat. Draco sits opposite him and lifts the silver cover from his dinner.
"Am I your pet project then Malfoy?" Harry asks, dropping the white cloth napkin to his lap and digging into the steaming steak dinner.
"Something like that," Draco replies easily, pouring some water into his glass. "Water? Or champagne?" he offers Harry.
"Champagne," Harry replies instantly. "But I thought you couldn't tell me what the reason was for your sudden friendship?" Harry continues before taking a bite of the garlic mashed potatoes.
Draco fills Harry's glass and returns the champagne bottle back to its icy bucket before replying. "If you must know, I feel a sense of gratitude towards you."
"Yes," Draco says, staring thoughtfully at his dinner plate. "You have saved my life more than once, even though you did not consider me a friend."
"But I did that for a lot of people," Harry shrugs. "I don't see anyone else offering me free trips to exotic places."
"Not everyone has the means," Draco replies. "But they are grateful Potter."
"Wish the Ministry would show some gratitude," Harry mutters, tearing a piece off of his bread roll and popping it into his mouth.
"Didn't they give you money and some sort of plaque?" Draco asks, raising one brow.
"Yes but not much."
"I think tax galleons are better spent on restoring infrastructure and buildings after the war rather than funding your lazing around, no?"
Harry shoots him a glare but has no rebuttal for that.
Draco gazes at him pensively.
"What?' Harry asks, fidgeting under the scrutiny.
"You've changed," Draco surmises. "You used to be driven by this annoying sense of good, regardless of the repercussions or danger to yourself."
Harry drops his gaze back to his dinner. "And now what am I?" he asks with forced nonchalance.
Draco pauses, sensing the actual weight behind his question, as though Harry himself didn't know the answer. "Lost."
Harry looks up to meet solemn grey eyes. "And you're going to find me again?"
"Yes," he answers firmly, holding Harry's gaze.
"But why?" Harry asks again.
"But there's more to it, you said so," Harry cuts in. "If it's not to sleep with me, then what is it?"
Draco smiles serenely. "I can promise you Potter that it is not to sleep with you. What else do you need to know?"
"And you don't want to kill me?" Harry adds, his cute lop-sided grin making another appearance.
"No," Draco affirms with a shake of his head.
Harry sighs and picks up his forgotten fork. "Okay then, I'll let it go. For now."
Draco smiles, pleased, as he too returns to the gourmet cuisine in front of them.
The two laugh when they reach the pudding to find that it is a dark chocolate mousse for two, topped with raspberry coulis in the shape of a love heart.