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It’s a bloody sweltering Sunday, 2 May, 1999.

Draco’s fairly certain he and his fellow Slytherins are absolutely mad to be venturing out of their cool, comfortable dungeons in favour of loitering down by the lake, but simply everyone else is doing it and needs must. And by ‘everyone else’, he means the Gryffindors and their assorted hangers-on from other Houses.

Specifically, he means Potter.

And for ‘needs must’, it’s the new Slytherin House motto. He and Pansy, Blaise and Theo, Daphne and Millie were all of the opinion, way back at the start of this final, fateful year, that Slytherin House rather required a major makeover after the calamitous events of the previous 2nd of May, and had made it their personal goal to re-set the tone. No longer were Slytherins to be considered sneaky, devious or Dark; Draco and company had been going out of their way all bloody year to Huffle right along to the glowing groove of the Puffs in celestial harmony, Raven even more raucously than the bemused Claws over the joys of shared academic achievement, and bloody well out-lionize those pesky Gryffs in the chivalric arena.

It was a bit of an awkward sentiment for those dyed-in-the-green-and-silver but it had certainly seemed to get the job done. No longer were the Slytherins considered the knob-ends of Hogwarts. Some of them had even made mates outside of their archaically outdated House boundaries. Merlin, some of them had even ventured into rather more romantic relationships!

Well, Draco thought, glancing down at his artfully unbuttoned shirt and sleek black bathing suit beneath, and the odd but useful multi-pocketed canvas short trousers Madame Malkin insisted completed the ensemble to perfection, at least he’d  gained some serious ground in the relationship department. Not that he was presuming, of course. He’d learnt his lesson there, rather!

He narrowed his eyes against the glare off the Lake and sighted the specific Gryff he was searching for: Potter. A year ago he’d not have been caught dead—or more like, he would’ve been caught quite dead, AK’d and probably by his own father!—for even considering a jaunt out to the lake expressly to pass pleasantries with one bloody fit Potter, Harry James.

Draco smirked, his eyes alight with salacious satisfaction and no small amount of self-awe. At long last, and after months of assiduous Slytherin courting, he could allow himself to think of the one bloke who’d fascinated him for fecking forever in terms of simply ‘Harry’ and not as ‘Potter’—and be assured he’d not be rebuffed for it. Or worse!

Speaking of—oh! There he was, Draco’s quarry, lounging about on a beach rug with Granger and Weasley and a few others. Looking mouthwatering delicious, as usual. Very much more unclothed than usual, too.

Blimey! Draco did a double-take and gasped internally, a hand going to his chest in an effort to calm his instantly too-fast heart rate. A fine sheen of perspiration sprang up on his brow and his inexpressibly thin swim shorts were put to their first test of the season—that of restraining Draco’s fast-developing stiffie.

For no! This was not  the somewhat shy, rather reticent, mostly always demurely dressed Griffindork hero Draco was accustomed to! Instead of his usual robes over casual Muggle clothing, Harry was wearing naught more than what appeared to be a very, very abbreviated set of raggedy denim cut-offs. Tight ones at that. Bloody nothing else, really, unless one counted his newly sleek specs and a glistening sheen of sunshield potion.

Draco muttered the little spell he used to sharpen his distance vision; Harry required a detailed examination!

Yes, there he lay, cool as one pleased, basking in the sun, golden and gormless and enticing! Just the same as one of those male models decorating Riviera beaches in their skin-tight swimmers! Hah!

Draco scowled darkly, his eyes greedily scanning Potter’s shirtless torso and very bare legs.

So much skin! Far too much skin, by Salazar! If he found Harry delectable, no doubt so would others; the ember of jealousy that flared in his chest was neither welcome nor particularly comfortable but it was bloody undeniable. He’d a creeping sense of urgency that he march right down to the heroic enclave and stake what claim he had on Harry. But no. No, that would go well beyond the pale. Draco had been so terribly careful not to overstep the invisible boundaries he’d long ago sensed Harry had erected.

Couldn’t blame him for it, really. Salazar knew he’d his own issues with intimacy.

Quelling his antediluvian impulse with effort, Draco took a deep steadying breath and glanced over the entire scene down by the lake’s edge, searching out any sign of competition. That damnably fit Finch-Fletchley had now and again made mooncalf eyes at Harry and then there was MacMillan, the suck-up, who was simply vile.

Speaking of Riviera beaches, the lake’s edge was downright teeming. There were numerous rugs and towels laid down near the lake shore and even some along the dock, all occupied with assorted Seventh and Eight Years. NEWTS fodder, the lot of them. Hollow-eyed from late-night revising and pale from being pent indoors poring over texts, the NEWTS students were a generally sorry looking lot.

Draco sighed; he knew he, too, was a bit die-away wan and perhaps not appearing at the top of his form. Hence his hasty purchase of the rather evocative swim kit. Had to do something to show Harry what he had available for the asking, right?

He squinted thoughtfully, sussing out the best path through the masses. Harry’s little litter of House mates were naturally right bloody there, on the very bitter end of the dock; the remainder spread out from that locus. A group of senior Ravenclaws Draco was friendly with occupied themselves splashing about in the shallows by the shore-end of the dock and the boathouse. The ever-peripatetic Lovegood could be sighted amidst a haphazard heap of Puffs, all sunning themselves on the lake banks like so many beached lemmings. It was only he and his Slytherins needed to complete the full picture, Draco realized. He glanced behind him, shifting to make room for his Housemates as they piled out of the dim fastness of Hogwarts main doorway.

“Oh! Don’t say I didn’t tell you so, Draco! Just don’t!”

“Well, alright then. I won’t.” Draco sighed silently, bracing himself for a scolding. No wonder bloody Pansy had been up his bloody nose since the literal crack of dawn.

“‘Alright’, Draco?” Pansy elbowed him in his ribs rather sharply as she came up beside him and bestowed Draco a squinty-eyed look over the rims of her brand-new Muggle designer sunnies. “You say this but it appears to me we’ve come a little too fashionably late to the party, thanks to your faffing about for the best part of the morning. Now, tell me, do. Where are we to establish ourselves, what with it being so crowded already? Half of Hogwarts is out here! Those idiot Gryffs are as close-packed as tinned kippers; you know how I prefer ample room to relax.”

“Oh, please,” Draco scoffed lightly, noting her extendable beach bag, which he knew contained everything from charmed sunning lotion to a Shrunken cabana. He also knew she was a dirty, stinking liar: the Gryffindors were her end-goal, same as his. “You know you’re just angling for an opportunity to cozy up to Longbottom.” He paused for effect. “Or Granger, you secret swot.”

“Well, I’m  not sitting on the bloody stupid dock,” Theo stated suddenly, pushing forward, his determined statement drowning out Pansy’s loud ‘Harrumph!’

Draco looked Theo over consideringly. His swimming costume was nowhere near as new, Spandex-y or as well-fitting as Draco’s and his nondescript cotton button-up remained firmly buttoned, nearly up to the chin. Sighing his exasperation, Draco flicked his wand discreetly and set his Housemate to rights for the weather. Theo shuddered dramatically, crinkling his nose in disgust at his gaping shirt and shrunken swimmies and immediately started upon refastening his collar buttons.

“You arse!”

“Take a breather, Theo,” Draco advised, casting again whilst Pansy helpfully prevented Theo from bolting. “It’s like 20 degrees out here. Loosen up a little. Remember, this is a Slytherin House endeavour. We’re all doing this together.”

“Oh, no, I shan’t, Draco,” Theo replied mutinously. “And about the dock? Maybe you don’t know it but it’s all splintery still from where Professor Hagrid had to replace the timbers. The sun’s too bright right by the water; there’s no shade to be had. I’m allergic to crowds; surely you recall? Likely the water is freezing and I can’t bloody swim anyway; never learnt how. I’ll sink like a stone, maybe even die out there! Why can’t we just stay back here on the lawn? Or, better yet, go back to the Library?”

“Oh, for the love of Salazar!” Draco began to remonstrate but was forestalled by his loyal crew.

“Oh, Theo,” Millie sighed, and clapped her hand to her brow dramatically. “We’ve been over this, you know.”

“Repeatedly,” Daphne nodded with vigor, her long blonde locks flying everywhere. “Daily, even.”

“Because the point of the exercise, my dear chap,” Blaise offered, coming up on Draco’s other side and jumping into the fray with panache, “is so our great Leader here, our premiere Prince amongst all cunning Princes, may insinuate his shapely bum amongst the Chosen down there and continue his good work in charming the bloody pants off He-Who-Is-Potter.” He grinned widely, his perfect white teeth blinding; Theo blinked under the onslaught. “Thus increasing our strategic breach in their defenses by an enormous margin and gaining a measurable advantage over those Ravenclaws clogging up the waterway. Then we too, as Draco’s faithful—and equally charming—retinue, shall be gladly welcomed. By all, unequivocally. Even the Ravenclaws, who rather secretly like to be ogled. I shall be pleased to do my part there.”

“And shall recline upon their already Transfigured rugs,” intoned Millie, in the voice of a devoted acolyte, “and shall converse gently of superior revisement techniques with Granger—”

“—examine the exceeding fine properties of the mighty Tenticula massivas with Longbottom—” Pansy chirped cheerily. “So many!”

“—and speak of what are the Bulgarians real chances at this year’s Cup with Weasley!” Daphne finished, rather in the manner of a spritely Greek Chorus. “See, Theo? It’s all very beneficial.”

“But NEWTS!” Theo looked stricken, a feeling with which Draco could relate. “NEWTS are coming!”

“Fuck NEWTS,” Blaise stated succinctly, snapping his brilliant molars. “Fuck revising. Fuck it all, mate. You only live once, you know.”

There was a moment’s silence, during which Draco knew they were all thinking of Harry, the most singular exception to that rule. Well, he was thinking of Harry, but then he did that all the time anyway.

“Right, moving on then. We all deserve to relax, Theo,” Millie pointed out sensibly. “Too much pressure.” She flung up her hands, shrugging. “Leads to abject failure, don’t you know.”

“All work and no play, Theodore,” Daphne added dolefully, shaking her head as Theo continued to scowl, “is never a good thing. Wrackspurts, you know. Definitely not good. Just ask Lovegood.”

“In other words, Theo,” Pansy snapped, peremptorily sinking her scarlet-tipped nails into Theo’s arm, anchoring him in place, “it’s the same plan as ever was, all this year: the Great Slytherin Charm Offensive!”

“But I—I’m not very charming,” Theo offered faintly, but Pansy just talked louder, drowning him out.

“You’ll do. And you will  be happy to sit your lawn-loving arse on the splintery dock, Nott, if you’ve a fecking clue of what’s good for you! Some of us could use well-connected mates should we ever survive exams and get out of here of this Merlin-forsaken place.” Turning away from a suitably cowed Theo, she subjected Draco to a minatory stare. “Well, go on then, will you? What are you waiting on? Lead us, fair Princeling. It’s not getting any cooler here, you know. Nor less bright. Nor earlier  in the bloody day.”

“Yes, alright, untwist your knickers, m’lady,” Draco frowned, squaring up his shoulders and rubbing a smoothing hand down his unfamiliar garb. “Just let me…”

He glanced down at his person, a hint of a frown marring his marble brow. Draco was—though he’d never admit it aloud and certainly not to any of his Housemates—a bit unsure of the picture he himself was presenting the world. Or at least to Harry, the ultimate target of all Draco’s new Muggle finery.

At first glance, it would be seen he was fairly elegantly attired in a modest white short-sleeve linen button-down and a pair of steel-grey coloured cargo shorts, a far cry from his usual more formal Burmudas but fashionably casual. That, of itself, was sufficiently within the current vogue for Muggle fashion so as to be acceptable to even the haughtiest of the Twenty-Eight. Beneath it all, though, his swim kit was made by someone hideously famous in Muggle haute couture. And also possibly risqué lingerie!

For, in truth, Draco was wearing nearly as little as Harry was, lolling down the dock in his rustically ragged denim hot pants. Arguably there were more yards of fabric covering Draco’s body but it was bloody skin-tight and form-fitting. Much as if one had stretched a pocket square thin as it would go and wrapped it about a fully grown man’s body. Or painted the interesting parts over with India ink.

“Draco.”

However, it was an exceedingly elite  handkerchief. A masterpiece  of a handkerchief, if one stretched the metaphor. Indeed, Madame Malkin had raved to him about it for three Owls worth prior to his reluctant purchase of the entire Bradley, Voorhees, & Day men’s summer line.

“Draco?”

A fetching two-piece ensemble, the black fabric certainly showed Draco’s entire pelvic area to advantage, clinging and draping as it did, front and rear, coming and  going. Not to mention drawing the eye unerringly to the toned length of his long, pale legs and the taut fitness of his abs and upper torso. The racing briefs clung low over his shapely hip bones, suggesting that the silky cloth was painted on as it slicked over his belly and gloved his privates to perfection. The upper part was fashioned like a singlet, but with peekaboo slits cut out to show off the wearer’s waist and teasingly offer a glimpse of a hardened nipple.

“Oi, Draco.”

Honestly, he was particularly pleased with his arms, which had improved from pusillanimous to praiseworthy in just a few shorts months of regular training. His legs and arse had always been nigh on perfection, naturally, and it felt quite brilliant and slightly wicked to be sporting such a daringly tight-cut suit.

“Oh bloody Circe, could someone just hex him?”

Really, Harry could not help but be totally impressed when he saw it—or so Draco desperately hoped, biting his lower lip in agitation. It only remained for him to happen upon Harry and shed his outer layers in a suitably suave manner.

“No! Not you, Theo! Salazar!”

Of course, it would be ever so nice if his contrary legs would cooperate on that matter. Since they appeared to be nonfunctional at the moment.

“Draco Malfoy!” Blaise shouted like bloody banshee, right in his bleeding eardrum. “Come back to us, oh Princeling; your bloody eyeballs are crossing! And stop stalling your fences! Don’t you have a Potter to chat up? He’s looking fetching over there—and you’re standing up here like a gormless ferret!”

“Yes, do go on with you, darling!” Pansy urged, shoving Draco not-so-gently in the small of his back and starting him down the slippery slope. “Stop wasting our precious time. It’s too hot to have second thoughts anyway. Potter’s not going to care about your clothes; he just wants to see you, trust me on that.”

“Oh, alright! I’m going, I’m going,” Draco snarled, manfully forcing his recalcitrant feet to march forward, at least by a few paces. He glanced over his shoulder at his faithful soldiers, all falling in line dutifully behind him. “Right, listen up, here’s how it goes.” He flapped a hand at the horde of NEWTS students. “You lot come along in a moment or two, but discreetly, mind. Spread out, chat key people up, act natural. I’ll not having any of us seem as though we were Summoned or anything. We are Slytherins.”

“Not hatched yesterday, Malfoy,” Theo grumbled, shuffling in place. “I can bloody well chat if I have to.”

“You have to,” Millie intoned direly, handing him the stink-eye plus a pinch to his other arm for good measure. “I’ll be watching your every move, Nott, don’t forget.”

“Of course we will, darling,” Pansy scowled, scrambling to tuck into that stupid bag of hers the Summoning Owl Potter had sent down the dungeons bright and far-too-early in the morning. “When are we ever not? Charming, that is.”

“We are sincere and honest,” Daph added guilelessly, flinging her long blonde hair back over her other bared shoulder like the sexy Mermaid she was apparently wishing to ape. “Witty, courageous and—”

“Dependable, honorable and—” Millie agreed, sashaying forward upon platform sandals and exposing her teeth in a crocodilian manner. Scarlet spandex and spiked shocking pink hair rather suited her, Draco noted. Fleetingly, he wondered whether it was Longbottom or Abbott she was aiming to impress. Or both at once, mayhap?

“Charmingly circumspect,” Blaise nodded wisely, looking rather more hot-and-lickable in his rip-stop surfer baggies than Draco was entirely comfortable with. Zabini would suffer no trouble at all attracting everyone, damn his chocolatey brown eyes and engaging grin. “Revoltingly so, may I mention?”

“Meh.” Theo simply stared off into the distance, likely mesmerized by the roiling wavelets the Squid was stirring up in the water.

“Hippogriff crap,” Draco sneered. Mostly at Blaise. “Insurgent twats, jeering unjustly at your acknowledged leader. Just do it. But discreetly, mind.”

Not waiting on any more guff-and-harmonic harping, Draco set off the pace smartly, drawing ahead immediately and instantly adjusting his snarl into a brilliant smile. But it was slow going. There were scads and scads of students, all littering up the pathway and cluttering up the lake shore. Plus, he made a point to acknowledge the greetings of his fellows as he trotted along, waving a friendly hand at some, nodding or winking broadly at others, now and again pausing to exchange the occasional compliment and bon mot.

“Oh, Luna,” he called out, as he came abreast of the Puff party.

“Oh, Draco,” Luna smiled kindly, as was her wont and habit. “There you are at last. It’s been hours, hasn’t it?”

“Has it?”

Draco looked to Luna’s companions, affecting unconcern. Some of the Puffs were playing patty-cake, some were Charming bubbles and sparks to float about on the lakeside zephyrs. It was really quite droll how they amused themselves, he decided, blandly ignoring Luna’s pointed look. Heavenwards, where the rare Scots sun reigned high in the sky.

Really now. He could be fashionably late if he wanted to; it was all part and parcel of making a Statement.

“But you seem to have misplaced yourself again, Luna,” he pointed out winningly, gesturing to the more distant frolicking of her fellows. Halfway to Harry he was; just a little while longer. “Ravens are over there, gamboling in the tides, you know? Still, your constant lack of context is always remarkably refreshing, leastwise for me,” he remarked, when Luna only shrugged and smiled vaguely. “I suppose I may look forward to more of your eventual company over on the dock proper, if and when the spirit moves? Just there, see? Where Harry is.”

He pointed to the Gryffs, chattering amongst themselves, his eyes instantly zeroing in on Harry, now so much closer Draco could actually make out the succulent fit of those come-hither cutoffs without benefit of the NearSighted Charm. Glorious Harry, who was still just as fetching as he had been three minutes previous. Possibly more so, even. Merlin, but that little trickle of perspiration down his sternum was aneurysm-inducing, wasn't it?

“Where I will be shortly,” Draco added, firmly setting aside his incipient mental breakdown over Harry's ogle-worthiness. “Very shortly. That was my direction, you see, but I wished to say hullo, Luna.”

“Why, thank you, Draco,” Luna beamed up at him, deftly braiding a sleepy, sunbathing Puff’s ringlets with shells and lakeweeds. “Hullo to you too. It’s a lovely morning, isn’t it? Although,” she frowned at him, “it’s nearly noon now and really not morning  at all. Anyway, I am here helping my friends dispel any lingering Nargles from NEWTS. I noticed their distress over breakfast; perhaps you did, too? Oh wait—you missed that too, didn’t you? Anyway, I’m using this.”

Her oddly appropriate sandstar earrings jangled as she held up for his inspection a cobbled together lei made up of various green slimy things, tiny shrimps and snails clinging on, lake kelp-wrapped pebbles and blodges of drying mud, shaking it firmly enough that a few stray water drops scattered over the sunbathing Huffles. They squeaked and startled, rolling out of the way. Draco cautiously reversed a step.

“Oh, really?” he asked encouragingly. “Do tell.”

“Oh, yes. NEWTS breed Nargles, you know,” Luna informed Draco gravely. “It’s a known hazard. Also they attract Wrackspurts and the occasional Imp. One must be constantly vigilant. People are so suggestable, even now.”

“Indeed,” Draco nodded solemnly, in full and equally serious agreement; he knew about Wrackspurts and really wished he didn’t. Same went for being ‘too suggestible’. “Thank you for your service then. I’m sure it will help, that thing you have there.”

“It should,” Luna said, examining the dripping, odoriferous wreath curiously, almost as if she’d not a clue where it came from. “But one never knows. In any case, I should think having a holiday ought to help us all considerably, one way or t’other, so no matter. This here—” she flopped it about again—”is really more in the way of an experiment. I prefer Dirigible Plums myself. But they’re not yet in season. Needs must, I suppose,” she sighed, abruptly reminding Draco of his mission. “Right, Draco?”

“Oh, absolutely! Needs definitely must. Well, good luck with it, anyway; I hope it works out,” Draco replied absently, focussing back on the pier area.

Harry still hadn’t donned more clothing despite the ruthlessly beating-down rays of the Scottish sun and Draco really did rather want to get closer, faster, sooner, his twanging nerves aside. Besides, he could hear the tickety-tack of Pansy’s high-heeled sandals coming up behind him and he was meant to be well to the fore of his Slytherin pack.

“Yes, well, I really must go on now, so…”

“But of course, Draco." Luna nodded kindly. "Harry’s been waiting and waiting. Oh, and Draco?”

“Yes?” Draco turned back. And found himself grinning helplessly at the girl, for she was such a perfect picture of a carefree teen on holiday and it was ever so pleasing to see it, after last year. Besides, Luna was someone he’d now always make time for, even if it meant delaying his own plans for the day. Such were the perils of ‘Needs Must’; one must be both caring and bloody sincere about it, Merlin fuck. “What’s the matter, Luna? Did you need something?”

“Oh, nothing’s the matter,” she replied cheerily. “I’d tell you if there was. It’s just you should know Harry’s been staring at you since you Slytherins came down the hill. I’m beginning to worry he may’ve developed a headache. The sun is very bright today, isn't it?”

“Oh! Really, he has, you say?”

Much heartened, Draco sneaked a glance Harry’s way again but it was just a smidge too far to ascertain exactly where those dreamy green orbs were focussed. He sighed and looked back to Luna.

“Well, he’s not now.”

“Yes.” Luna nodded seriously, her earrings bobbing so furiously they tangled in her flyaway hair. “Because you looked at him. But he was, Draco, just a moment ago. Actually, he’s been keeping a sharp lookout ever since straight after breakfast, when he sent Pig to Slytherin with a reminder. ‘Course, it’s been ages and hours since then. I should imagine he’s very curious as to what took all you Slytherins so long to come out for our NEWTS holiday. What did take you, Draco? Did you not receive Harry’s Owls? I know Pig can be a little confused at times; I’d not be surprised if that happened.”

“Ah…no!” Draco gulped, peeking down at his outfit for reassurance. “I did, actually. Er. In a manner of speaking.”

He flushed; he couldn’t help it, feeling more than a little bit shame-faced over the whole Owl debacle. As much as he’d been consciously ramping up on his borrowed Gryffindor courage, a last-moment Pepper-up and a bracing scolding from Pansy had been sorely needed to pry him out of his studies. Or rather, the pointless revisement of a language he already knew but using as a piss-poor excuse to hide his very natural shyness over seeing Harry. Whom he was rather hoping to ask to the surprise Year-End Ball McGonagall had just announced Friday last. Very nearly kissing a chap was positive sign, wasn't it? Hogsmeade regular Saturday outing had only been just yesterday and he’d been nearly chomping at the bit ever since to see Harry again. Except also not; bloody nerves had been attacking him because his swim kit was so—so nearly not there and it had only been an 'almost kiss' and what if he made a fool of himself again, presuming?

“Opportunities lost, Draco!” Pansy had screeched, ripping the Mermish text from his hands and tossing it cruelly away. “That’s all I’m seeing here! Get up off your arse. Get in to your kit! There’s a Potter out there you’ve not charmed today!”

It was a ‘cusp’ thing, he told himself sternly, staring hard at his elegantly sandaled feet. Just a momentary hiccough in his pursuit of his fancy. His feeling of dread, that is. He’d be alright when it was the Real Moment. Which, Draco realized with a jolt, would never actually happen if he didn't manage to make his way over to Harry sometime before the unaccustomed sun set itself beyond the horizon!

“Really?” Luna prodded, eyes wide and curious, reeling Draco abruptly back to the moment. “And then what?”

“Ah, um. I experienced a—a brief, ah?” Draco firmed his chin and flicked his fingers at his Muggle wear, spewing out the first thing he could think of. “W-Wardrobe malfunction?”

“Did you?” Luna blinked furiously at him, clearly bewildered. “You did? How…unusual.”

“Yes!” Draco nodded so hard he quite thought he’d got whiplash. “That’s it! It’s all Muggle made, this. You see? I’m not accustomed to such—it’s really very fitted, underneath, almost too much so—ah, look here, begging pardon, but I should really be moving along, especially if Harry’s expecting me. Like you say he is.”

“Oh, he is,” Luna smiled beatifically up at him, emanating some sort of strong strange wave of arcane approval. Nebulous but bracing. “Yes, you should go on your way, Draco,” she directed. “Don’t keep him waiting much longer. Time and tide wait for no man and all that, right?”

“Yes! I mean, no!” Taking heart, Draco straightened his spine and smoothed back his hair, glancing for the umpteenth time over at Harry, his personal sex magnet and eye candy. He licked his lips, feasting in fantasy upon all that heroic bare skin and shaggable rumpled hair. Truly, it was worth any amount of trouble. “No, I shan’t, I promise you. Ahem, well,” he added, edging away and covertly eyeing up his route in the sea of shifting bodies. “Then I should probably be go—”

“Oh, yes. Do!”

“And I’ll just—”

“Of course you shall, Draco. Bon voyage, as the Muggles say,” Luna cheered him on sunnily. “Happy hunting.”

Hunting?

Draco’s jaw dropped in shock. A massive deluge of self-doubt engulfed him and he glanced back at Luna uncertainly. Was he, indeed, that bloody obvious? Was the state of his Muggle undress so indiscreet as to indicate that he was on the prowl, as it were, for 'fresh meat'? Well, only 'Harry meat', but still! Merlin forbid he came off as a general slag when he'd meant to be projecting a much more specific message at one particularly dense and shy Gryffindor. Oh Circe, Brede and Athena! Should he—dear Merlin, what was he even thinking?—ask Luna for her sartorial opinion? A Witch who routinely wore raw veg as ornament and saw no harm in pairing pink with orange?

“HO! MALFOY!”

Thankfully, Weasley chose that exact moment to roar out. The dockside erupted into a disgruntled murmur as Weasley sprang to his freckled feet, scowling madly in Draco’s direction and waving both arms at him like the Whomping Willow in a snit.

“—the bloody fu—?” Draco muttered, staring across the little distance, his attention happily diverted. “What’s with him?”

“MALFOY, get your laggard arse over here!” Weasley yelled, making several rude gestures, one right after the other. “I’ve been waiting and waiting—and so has Harry, here! Move it along, you wanker!”

“Suffering Salazar!” Draco snorted, stomping down the silly self-doubt in favour of some good old familiar irritation. “Merlin, Weasley,” he called out, glaring across the intervening sea of bodies. “Must you always bellow?”

“Yes! Yes, I must, if it stops you from poncing around and keeping me waiting all bloody morning! Bloody shake your broom bristles, Malfoy,” Weasley scowled. “I need your expert opinion on a pressing Quidditch matter! Harry here owes me big time if he’s wrong!!”

“Oh, a bet, is it?”

Draco perked up, forgetting his annoyance at the thought of a comradely discussion of Quidditch minutiae with Weasley, who was surely an amateur expert on par with Draco himself. And maybe Blaise too, but he hardly counted given how he was always off haunting Ravenclaw lately. Or perhaps that was more 'hunting', but whatevers. Many a fine hour had he and Weasley whiled away together, though, playing Fantasy Quidditch and downing endless amounts of Longbottom’s potent home-brewed Gillywater. Really, a bloke who kept stocks of Hangover potions readily on hand was a true friend indeed.

“Right-oh, must toodle along now. Coming, Weasley! Laters, Luna,” he said, bouncing on his heels and turning to deftly side-step the murder of Ravens gathered across the path to the dock, mostly obscuring it with all their assorted blue-and-bronze beach brollies. “Lovely chatting with you!”

“Bye, Draco! Best of luck with Harry! I hope he says ‘yes’ when you ask him!”

“Fucking Salazar, not so loud, will you please?!” Draco hissed, flushing as he scarpered off.

“Pardon me, excuse me; just passing through, thanks.” He muttered and murmured as he sped on, at last gaining the true dock area. It was, as Theo complained of, all made of new planks Professor Hagrid had laid down and likely rough as could be. Fortunately there were any number of towels and rugs spread out, including the big stripey one Harry & Co loafed upon.

Behind him he caught snatches of Pansy’s voice, carrying over the distance as she engaged in an incessant commentary to the rest of his troupe. She been herding them smartly along in his wake all this time, pausing only to make nice and exchange gossip here and there.

“What, is simply all  of Hogwarts out here? Atrocious!” she exclaimed. Likely rhetorically, but with Pans, one never actually knew. 

Draco rolled his eyes and stepped it up, determined to get to the Gryffindor gaggle before his mates caught him up.

“I thought this was ‘reservation only’? A NEWTS-skiving do and only us older ones invited; that’s what Potter’s Owl said. Why are the Sixth Year Huffles here, Blaise? They’re not even taking NEWTS!”

“Oh, I should wager Luna’s invited them along for support, Pans,” Blaise remarked smoothly. “You know how she’s very inclusive? No one gets left behind, not on her watch. Not even me.”

“Yes, but still! They’re far too young for all this lark. What if Longbottom’s brought along his ‘special tonic’ again?”

“No, no, I wouldn’t think so, Pans. Nev’s a rational chap, mostly.”

Blaise was doubtless making soothing motions at Pansy, who still excelled at the fine old art of Slytherin snark and was just as likely to be Ravenclaw Reasonable as Gryffindor Gruff at any one given moment or another.

“Besides, it’s sort of festive with all the Huffles," Blaise wheedled. "So bright and light of heart, aren’t they? Sort of a good luck charm, yes? You know how Luna always goes on about the effects of positive thinking. And Hufflepuffs add spark to any party, as we all know now. Look, cut line, will you? We're getting close by. Don’t want to actually offend her.”

“Who, Lovegood?” Pansy sounded shocked. Mock-shocked, naturally. Draco slowed his gait; he rather wanted to hear how it might play out, Blaise's attempt at wearing down the ramparts of Lovegood's utter indifference.

“Of course Lovegood,” Blaise shot back, all affronted. “Who else, Pans?”

Draco grinned, ducking under one particularly enormous sun brolly and leap-frogging over a miscellaneous body.

“Wotcher, Thomas. Sorry!”

“Oh, hey, Malfoy.”

“Oi, Finnegan. Passing through, please?”

“Go on then.”

Blaise, oddly, had developed a bit of a thing for Luna over the last year; fancied her rather more than anyone had ever expected and was a bit touchy about it, forsooth. Didn’t help matters that Luna was remarkably oblivious to it all.

“Pish-tosh, Blaise,” Pansy snorted, loudly, and burst out in fondly mocking laughter. “I’m not complaining, just remarking. Learn the bloody difference, will you? Oh—why hullo there, Lovegood. Good morning. And isn't it a lovely one, after all?”

“Shut up, Pans! Hullo, Luna! Oh, but what a brilliant coincidence, finding you just here.”

Draco, almost to his goal, paused and turned back to spy on his mates, knowing he was barely visible through the brollies and temporarily safe from Weasley's minatory eye. His crew had gathered in a little knot and were occupied with cooing over Luna and making much of the Puffs. The wreath of lake weeds, mud and assorted was being particularly made much of by Millie, who rather fancied herself an amateur Sea Witch-in-training.

“Say,” Blaise smiled smarmily at his true-love, who—true to form—paid him little mind. “Luna, my heart, my only. Need some assistance with a Lotion Charm? Wouldn’t want those shoulders to burn and peel, would we? Must say, looking smashingly fit in your suit, Luna. Positively scrummy.”

“Indeed,” Pansy chimed in, likely trying to be helpful. “Lovegood, it’s a delightful suit. I’ve always loved hibiscus flowers and that brilliant orange-and-purple truly suits you. Wherever did you obtain it?”

“Why no thank you, Zabini; Marks & Spenser, Parkinson; have a nice day now, you two; I’ve another wreath to attend to right now; can’t stay to chat,” Luna trilled smartly. She promptly turned her back on them all and bounded off to the Ravenclaw group, leaving Blaise gaping and Pansy clearly at a dead loss. Millie snagged the abandoned wreath up whilst no one else was looking, the sly girl.

Shrugging and stifling a chuckle, Draco moved on. Dear Luna, who always reliably did what she wanted and damn the consequences. Idiot Zabini, stolidly slathering it on still in the face of blatant disinterest; he’d never learn, would he? And Pansy, who’d stepped up even above the call of duty and had moved on to raving over Hannah Abbot’s boring matte black bathing costume as if it were the most adorable to ever come off the back rack at Madame Malkin’s. Speaking of.

“Finally!” Weasley’s voice was brimming with irritation. "What did you do, get yourself lost along the way, Malfoy?" 

Draco instinctively lifted his chin imperiously and returned glare for glare like a true Slytherin. But here also was Draco’s mouthwateringly de-lucious Harry Potter, sprawled back upon the stripey rug like a bloody PlayWix  centrefold!

“Oi, Weasley,” Draco said cooly, pointedly not-staring at Harry. “You Summoned, your Gingerness?”

“Fucking well did—about a half an hour ago now! Took your own sweet time, didn’t you?” Weasley growled, stepping forward and slapping Draco on the back in a matey sort of way nonetheless. “Chatting up Luna and all that nonsense; don't think I didn't see you. Oi, your mate Blaise knows it’s useless, right? She never minds any of that sort of thing.”

“Look, Luna’s a friend of mine, as you know; not a crime to stop and say ‘good morning’, is it? And she can manage Blaise, no fear. He's fairly toothless. Now, what was your issue? Oh, good morning to you, Granger. Lovely morning, isn’t it?”

Catching sight of Granger looking at him, Draco tipped his head politely, shielding his eyes from the sun’s glare off the water and covertly peeping at Harry as he smiled widely back at Granger. At them all, really. It was nice to feel welcome.

“Er…and Harry." Draco swallowed hard. "Hullo, Harry.”

“Good morning, Draco.” Granger nodded and returned Draco’s smile. But Harry, most inconveniently, had glanced away, deep in convo with Longbottom, and didn’t seem to notice Draco’s soft greeting—or his presence at all, really. “It is, isn’t? Quite nice out.”

“Yeah, yeah, morning, good, weather, nice, sun, shining—all that rot,” Weasley interrupted, gripping Draco’s elbow and dragging him amongst the little group. “But you’ve not got here soon enough, damn it! Harry and I here have been debating this all morning—it’s the Brit-Irish League in question and—”

“Yes, alright, Ron, hours and hours you’ve been at it. At least let him sit down now he’s finally come?” Granger huffed and nodded to a convenient opening on the rug, right next to Harry, as she returned to busily rubbing some sort of sun repelling portion all over her quite nice legs. “There’s room right here, if you care to stay, Malfoy? I do wish you would; Ron’s been such a bother about the Quidditch. Harry, too, I suppose. When he's not been speculating as to why all Slytherin House was absent, that is.”

“Oh, most definitely,” Draco assured her hastily, and carefully stepped over those nice legs of hers, ending up right next by the glistening, perspiring, fucking wank-material that was Harry Potter clad in barely any clothing at all. “Abso-posi-lutely staying, Granger, yes, thank you.”

“But of course,” Granger grinned slyly at him, and shushed Weasley into silence by the simple method of sticking her lotioned palm over his yapping maw. “Now, what did delay you so long? I must say I’m curious. These two have been so impatient it’s been ridiculous. One would think they’d bet a fortune on whatever it is they’ve been yammering over, really!”

“Well, um,” Draco stalled, occupying himself with easing down into his designated spot.  "I, um?"

He glanced at Harry out of the corner of his eye, but Harry still wasn’t paying him any mind. A truly odd reaction from someone who had been purportedly so eager to see Draco’s face, he’d sent a fucking miniature, directionally challenged Owl bumbling down the Dungeons at arse o’clock in the morning.

“It was the Mermish, actually,” he offered up, falling back on the excuse he'd tried (and failed) to use with Pans earlier. He brushed an unruly hank of hair off his flushed brow; it really was hot in the full glare of the sun, especially when one already had a Warming Charm in place. Finally settled, he met her gently enquiring gaze with a rueful smile. “I’m a bit rusty on my Magical Languages yet.” He wasn’t, not at all, but still. He shrugged, grimacing as his recollections of their seventh year. “Not much call for them, last year. The year before, either. I'm afraid I'm not as facile as I was. Needed a brush-up.”

“Oh, quite,” Granger agreed earnestly, eyes alight. “Now me, I’ve had such a time with Goblin dialects—”

Draco peeped again whilst Granger rabbited on about Gobbledygook and Houyhnhnm. He had the sneaking suspicion Harry had indeed been peeking at him too, earlier, but now was very much making a business of being politely distracted by Longbottom. Draco grinned; two could play at that game. Deliberately, he turned all his attention to Harry's best mates.

“But et tu, Granger?” He gestured about at the rollicking waves of heedlessly skiving-off NEWTS students and widened his eyes at her in gentle mockery. “Colour me both shocked and amazed at your  presence here today. Did they Incarcerous you this morning and Levicorpus your reluctant body all the way out here to the lakeside? I can’t see you giving up any chance to swot up, any more than I wished to. We've not much time left for revising.”

“Ew, Ronald!” Granger jumped where she sat and shrieked suddenly, making Draco flinch in response. “Faugh! Disgusting swine! How dare you?!”

“Oh, I dare! Very fucking funny, Hermione!” Weasley snapped, having freed himself from Granger’s restraining hand by dint of licking it. He turned to scowl at Draco. “If you must know, we threatened to Stun her and then she threatened to Stun us back all the way. It was quite the kerfuffle; Harry had to take her wand away for a few minutes there—but, see here, Malfoy, Harry and I have this really, really crucial item to settle and we need your help. It’s about Quidditch, right? Like I was saying, earlier.”

“Oh, right,” Draco nodded amiably. “That. When is it ever not about Quidditch with you, though? Not that that's a bad thing, because it really isn't, but go on then. Ask away, whatever you wish; I shall endeavour my poor best to assist.”

“It’s more historical, you see,” Weasley grinned conspiratorially at Draco, “so Harry’s at a bit of a disadvantage, being raised Muggle and all, but I thought you might recall the details, since you’ve that spiffing memorabilia collection.”

He smiled ingratiatingly at Draco, as if Draco needed the flattery to cooperate. Which, Draco allowed, might’ve been true, not even quite a year ago.

“Every single issue of QQ, mint, back to start of publication, isn’t it? And you’ve claimed you’d read the lot of them, and even have a fair copy of Kneen’s original letter in your home library, yeah? So, if anyone knows, I reckon it would be you. And so does Harry here. We even sent my owl Pig down Slytherin; try and get you to come out earlier.”

“Yes, well.” Draco smoothed his stupid breeze-blown hair out of his lashes and determinedly kept his attention on Weasley. "Not just a ‘fair copy’, Weasley; the real thing. The League has the copy, you see.”

He did his best to ignore the silly little qualm Weasley’s words inadvertently caused him. What if Harry had only been looking forward to seeing him due to his knowledge of Quidditch history?

“Still. If I can help, I’ll be glad to. Or Blaise will. He’s just coming along, I think.”

“Brilliant!” Weasley looked quite chuffed and sent Granger a triumphant look. “So, it’s like this—”

Draco truly did his best—after all, he was present at Weasley’s express invite, apparently, since it had been Weasley’s Owl sent him—but his mind, and his traitorous eyes, kept straying. Harry Potter wasn’t a particularly imposing person, height-wise, but Merlin, if he didn’t capture one’s gaze! And—at this close range, nearly atop one another—Draco could actually smell him, and Salazar, but Harry smelt wonderful.

Draco forced himself to exhale and tried all the more intently to actually listen to Weasley’s circumloquacious lead-up to his all-important Quidditch question.

“Super! So, there’s all that, then, but—you know the Brit-Irish League, right, Malfoy?” Weasley asked eagerly. “Chudley Cannons being one of the thirteen original—”

“Yes, yes,” Draco replied quickly, hoping to hurry Weasley along. “Of course.”

Potter and Longbottom had stopped their heads-together nattering. Now Harry was finally eyeing Draco up covertly, but in a considering sort of way. Rather exactly the same way Draco was looking at him. So edgy and sideways and passionate about it, it actually made his eyeballs ache in their sockets.

“Ahem." Draco cleared his throat, more for his own mental benefit than anything else. It would take far more than a gentle hint to get Weasley off his Cannons. "Yes. Thirteen Original, the British-Irish League, back in the olden days. I have the original records back home in the Manor library. All that. And your point is? What about it?”

“I just want you to confirm to Harry here, for once and for all, that it was the—” Weasley was saying. But—then the situation abruptly changed up for the better.

“Oh, hullo?”

Harry at last made his move, shifting his shapely arse fully about on the beach rug and shading his glinting spectacles with a stubby-fingered hand so he could stare openly at Draco. Very much openly, indeed. Like a kid in a sweets shop. Famished, but in a good way.

“You deigned to show up, then,” he remarked, dry as a pond in the Gobi.

Weasley’s whinging voice went fading away like bloody magic, lost to the sudden thunder of Draco's pulse in his ears. Every ounce of Draco Malfoy became solely focussed upon his ex-nemesis and current heart-throb.

“…Yes, Harry?” he replied, his heart taking on a weird rumba beat in his chest.

Merlin, Morgana and fucking Mordred too, but there was a lot of raw steamy Potter on display and all of it was cheeky and trim and pertly pointed at him. Draco swallowed hard, keeping his eyes as steady as he could on Harry’s face and urgently willing his Muggle cargo shorts to do their fucking job and disguise his nascent stiffie. As his haute couture Muggle briefs were doing about fuck-all and nil in that regard.

“Erm. Is there. Is there a problem?”

“Yes, well. No.” Harry’s grass-green gaze sparkled with mischief. “Not really. Was wondering where you’d got to, that’s all. Did no one in Slytherin get the official memo before this morning?”

“The memo?” Draco echoed, confused. “What memo?”

“The one I sent all the the NEWTS students last Friday declaring today a holiday, is what.”

Frowning, Harry leant in and Draco found himself automatically doing the same, till their heads were near enough for them to bump noses.

“We’re celebrating by doing absolutely nothing,” he murmured quietly. “Hermione claims to absolutely hate it.”

“I do not, Harry!” Granger protested immediately and loudly, rolling her eyes and reaching right past Draco to biff lightly at Harry’s upper arm. “Stop saying that, will you please? I told you both already I was enjoying myself. And I am, so there! I can relax!”

“Sure, sure, Hermione,” Harry smiled at her nervously, drawing away from Draco. “So you’ve said.”

“Well, I’m  not bloody relaxed! Malfoy here s’not even listening to me!”

"Shut up, Ron." 

"Yes, do," Granger echoed. 

Harry turned back to Draco, ignoring both Granger and Weasley, and thus Draco followed suit, far too caught up in practically sharing the exact same oxygen molecules with the object of his affections to care if either of Harry’s mates hexed him in a strop.

“Oi! My question, remember?!” Weasley snarled, sounding more and more like he might do. “Malfoy! Stop drooling over my mate and bloody well answer it for me, will you please?”

He barged his upper body right across Granger and stuck his face bang in the midst of the Harry-Draco head huddle, exposing them to a sea of highly indignant ginger freckles and a quite ferocious glare.

“Ronald! Get off me!” Granger squealed, her hair entering the picture. Draco was forced to duck down low, as was Harry. “Merlin, I swear!”

“Gah!” Weasley looked apoplectic. “Must you? You two and your bloody staring at one another—bloody give it a rest! Come on, Malfoy, I’ve been waiting positively hours to ask you if you recalled what the Kneen letter stated about the League ban against the Sticky Glove Spell and now you’re not even paying proper mind? What sort of Quidditch Fantasy League mate is that, I ask you? I might have to boot you right out off the team!”

“Oh, do shut it, Ron.” Harry grinned at Weasley, taking the sting from his words. “You’ll never follow through on that threat; you know it, I know it and Draco knows it too. Besides, I think we’ve all had enough Quidditch history for the day; I know I have. Tell you what,” he added, humping one naked, oiled shoulder and causing various interesting muscles to ripple in response, all very much to Draco’s delight.

“Yeah, Harry?”

“I concede, Ron. You’re in the right about the Sticky Glove Ban and I’m not going to argue it anymore, I promise. I give in, I give up, I bloody well surrender. I’ll even give you the bloody Galleon I owe you as soon as we're back in the dorm.”

“But—but—Harry!” Weasley wailed, looking very much as if someone had soundly kicked the Crup puppy he didn’t own, and that right before his very eyes. “Just—just like that?”

“Yes, Ron, just like that,” Harry said patiently. “Now, can we please drop it? I wanted to talk to Draco, here. Now he’s finally come out of his stupid hole in the ground to speak to, that is.”

“Hey, Potter,” Draco said softly, entirely not heeding a word of Weasley’s resultant outrage or Granger’s frantic shushing. Or the wrestling match they seemed to be having between them. Nor even caring that his sacred dungeons had just been roundly insulted. “Um…Harry.”

“Hey, Draco.”

Instead Draco did his damn best to appear unruffled and not in the slightest bit affected by any of it. As though shirtless Harry in hacked off, worn-soft denims was just the norm on a sunny Scots Sunday. Which it wasn’t, rather. Truth was, Draco had only ever caught Harry this dishabille in the Quidditch lockers and the men’s lav. And then he’d had to forcibly look away in order to not launch himself in a mad frenzy of lust.

“Yes, I’d heard, and no, I didn’t; Pansy had to tell me.” Draco essayed a charming grin. A rueful one. 

“Oh.”

“I was…busy.”

Harry’s flat stomach flexed as he lifted his bum and shifted, infinitesimally closer to Draco. Indeed, any nearer and he’d be sitting squarely in Draco’s lap.

“Oh?”

"Yes. I'm sorry."

Draco inhaled deliberately and firmly commanded his heart rate to regulate, locking gazes with Harry. Who was examining him as though Draco were a particularly prime cut of filet and he a very hungry lion indeed. The rest of the Gryffs—and the approaching Slytherins—could have been bloody Vanished to sweet perdition for all Draco paid the slightest mind to them.

His world had narrowed down to green eyes glinting and a whole host of tantalizing glimpses of skin. Not even just glimpses—full frontal! At least from the waist up. But then again, those denims had been slashed off quite high on the thigh, so high he could see the pocket ends flapping, and even beneath those, so it was actually possible to catch sight of—Circe!

"Bolllocks!" Draco gulped, almost not daring to look. Again.

Why, yes, that was  a deliciously plump ball sack peeking from beneath a trailing pocket flap! And yes, Harry was full on commando under those barely-there denims! At least three inches of nicely veined, rapidly swelling cock were just tucked right bleeding there, nearly smiting Draco to stone on the spot!

“Fuck me!” Draco breathed. "Mercy!" 

The sight of all that male bounty poised upon the tottering brink of decency immediately sent the all the blood that wasn’t already coursing southward-ho!  in Draco’s body right the fuck back up his spine to his spinning head and nearly set his ears a’fire.

“Oh dear Merlin, my fucking heart!” he gasped faintly, swaying slightly to the rush of his internal tide of blood flow. “Way to flat-out slay  me, Potter!”

"Er, what?" 

Draco caught himself up sharply at Harry’s puzzled stare and prayed to all the bloody Pantheon that he’d not said any of that nonsense aloud and—if he had, blast his foolish tongue—that it hadn’t been nearly clear enough for Harry to hear him properly. 

“Pardon?” Harry quirked quite enticing lips at Draco and batted his stupidly long lashes behind his specs. “What did you just say, Draco? I didn’t quite catch it.”

“Oh, nothing, nothing! Just remarking what a brill day  it is, that’s all! Beautiful weather!” Horrified, Draco ripped his eyeballs away from those flirtatious privates and cast desperately about for a change of topic. Any change of topic! “Um, er, but you! You said something, just now? Something about Pansy?”

“Oh, her? I didn’t; you did, actually. Though I sent her a second Owl, earlier. Because I knew you’d not notice what day it was, right? Seeing as you and Hermione both are apparently soul-bound in your blind adoration for unending revisement and wouldn’t understand the idea of a holiday if it slapped you across the head like a dead fish.”

“Uh-huh. Yes, well.” Draco flushed lightly and attempted to carry off a teasing tone, whilst ruthlessly stomping down on the bubbling sensations Harry always sparked off in his gut and various other bits. Long gone were the days when he’d naively believed it was just irritation, envy, gas, or the Galloping Fidgets. “I was actually very intent on brushing up on my Mermish this morning. Time’s running out, you know?" He laughed nervously. "Less than a month left to NEWTS. That section on Languages the Governors have added on is likely to be vicious.”

“Oh, a pox on bloody Mermish.” Harry grinned at Draco’s appalled eyebrows. “Don’t remind me, please. No offense, but I don’t want to hear a single thing about our exams today.”

He turned his back on Draco and bumped shoulders with open-mouthed, agonized-looking Granger; she had squeaked, overhearing, an eldritch sound of utter horror. Harry instantly took up her hand and patted it as Draco looked on, bemused.

“There, there. Yes, Hermione, I know it’s a strain for you, really I do, but it’s just the one day out. Not even a full twenty-four hours, really. We’ll all survive it, I’m sure. Maybe even do better because of it. Ron agrees with me, you know he does. Even Nev agrees and you know how he is about Herbology and Potions both.”

Granger instantly looked constipated; Draco had to admit it was sort of vaguely appalling. Skiving, that was. He could empathize. He would, actually, except then he wouldn’t be sat upon a rug in the sun by a scenic waterway with an extremely fit Hero type sat hip-to-hip with him.

He contented himself with smiling weakly at her instead, when not gazing hopefully at the back of Harry’s messy head.

“Yes! Forget minging Mermish,” Weasley huffed, horning in again now there was opportunity. He shook a finger reprovingly at Draco and Granger too. “Bloody Merpeople only really chat with you Slytherins anyway. Don’t see the use in the rest of us knowing it.”

“That’s hardly my fault, Weasley; I can’t help where our dorms are,” Draco protested, but Weasley motioned him to silence.

“No, no. Stop. I could give a shrivelfig about Mermish, Malfoy. Cease your whingeing.”

“I’m not!”

“He just did, Ron!” Harry said indignantly. “Why even bring it up again?”

“Because,” Weaseley said, un-answerably. “I can. Now then. I’ve a Quidditch query and I’m damned well prying an answer out of you, mate. Enough of this shite over missing out on your swotting. I’m asking!” He squared up his not unimpressive shoulders and appeared to grow at least two feet taller, dwarfing them all in leonine command of the moment. “Eyes on me, Malfoy, not Harry; that’s it. Right. Back in the year 1674, in the B&I QL, was it Piers Pouncely-Wiggins or Piers Proudfoot-Wempley who set the record for the most often scored—”

“Pardon me, what? ” This caught Draco’s divided attention instantly. He went nearly cross-eyed, zeroing in on Weasley's ginger-topped smirk. “How dare you even ask me that? Bloody Portree, Weasley? Portree  boys?”

Feeling terribly offended on behalf of all respectably avid amateur Quidditch historians, he frowned thunderously at Weasley.

“Now see here! Yes, Portree!” Weasley insisted, jabbing a finger in the air. “They were, at the time! Still Cannons though--in spirit!”

“Crup piss, Weasley,” Draco snapped, mildly enraged and jabbing his finger right back at Weasley for emphasis. “You know as well as I do that neither of the Portree Piers lads were recruited to Chudley till ‘75 at the earliest, which is why there’s no possible way either of them could have ever done anything in the B&IQL in ‘74!”

“Of course I know that, Malfoy, the point is!”  Weasley went from excited to stricken, as if the world might end at any moment. “The point is, they did  play in ‘74. Unofficially, but still! It counts!”

“What is the real point, though, Weasley?” Draco demanded flatly, immensely unimpressed. “The official records are incorrect but no one in the League’s going to bother to fix it, are they? You know that and I know that. Chudley’s always been the underCrup; that’s what they bloody do.”

“But it’s bloody unfair, is what!” Weasley went full on red as a beetroot, whilst Harry slumped away and sighed heavily, rolling his eyes in sympathy at Granger. “We need protest it! Send Owls, march with signs outside the Ministry or something!”

“No, really, we don’t,” Granger groaned, swift fingers going to pinch the bridge of her nose. “Oh, Ron, please! Not this again.”

“I mean, it is what it is. I am  sorry, Weasley, but there’s literally nothing to be done, alright?” Draco softened his tone considerably. Weasley wasn’t so bad; he was just a bit touched when it came to sport. “Believe me, it’s been tried. Right after it happened and then again in the Twenties, and nothing came of any of it. Lost cause, I’m afraid.”

“Ron, just drop it, okay? No more Quidditch today. I'll give you two Galleons if you promise to stop,” Potter said firmly, grabbing at Draco’s bicep and yanking as he peered upwards, seeking the cause of an encroaching shadow. “Shift over, will you? Your mates are all here now." He looked round at his Housemates. "Make some space, Gryffindors! Incoming!”

Draco also looked up, honestly happy to see his own crew finally arriving, albeit in a flurry of chatter, suspicious Muggle summer fashion and some amount of mutinous flouncing from Theo. Bloody anything would do at the moment to break the tension and distract Weasley away from his precious Cannons.

“Oh, hullo there, Gryffs and sundry,” Pansy sang out cheerily, gliding to a teetering halt and smiling down at them all sweetly—an expression which soured as soon as one of her strappy gilded sandals got caught on a creaky, poorly nailed board. "Bother!" She shook it free, frowning, but came up smiling as soon as she spied her especial new friend. “Hermione, there you are! I was hoping to see you here; that’s why I even bothered to come myself, you know? Did you happen to recall that one text you mentioned yesterday?”

“Oh, yes, I did, as it happens! I’ve brought it along. Here, sit by me, Pansy.” Granger perked up and patted the rug on her other side invitingly. “Ron, budge up. Pansy, I have all the pertinent pages marked for you and everything. Even copied over my notes!”

“Oh, you angel! That’s bloody brill of you!”

Pansy plumped herself down without further ado, kicked off her heels, and the two of them became immersed in chattering over Advanced Arithmancy before anyone even had a chance to remind them it was a skiving holiday.

Weasley, finally diverted, flagged down Theo—Draco’s other longtime rival for the unofficial Slytherin House Quidditch historian position—and Draco at last was able to breathe a sigh of inner relief and satisfaction. Blaise had apparently been lost en route to chasing after errant Ravenclaws and the other girls all slid into an idolatrous semi-circle around Longbottom. Excepting Bulstrode, who instantly began chatting up Abbott and showing her the wonders of Luna's odd handiwork.  

“Excellent. It’s finally calming down. And well, here we both are,” he murmured to Harry. "At last." Who was again openly looking Draco over. Draco smiled with muted glee, repressing an urge to preen. “What? You’re staring, Harry. Something amiss?”

“Yes. You’re wearing far too many layers for a holiday,” Harry replied smartly. “It’s a crime, is what. Don’t you know it’s hot out today? See that sun? Absolutely blistering, that. And you, with a shirt on and bloody odd shorts. What even are all those pockets, anyway? Is that Muggle wear?”

“Ah. Hah. Maybe?” Draco felt his cheeks colour up as Harry’s gaze settled upon his lap. “So?” he shot back, sensing a chance to shed his strange clothes and show off the barely-there swimwear he had on underneath “And what would you have me do about it?”

“Mmm-hmmm. Well.”

Cocking his head at an angle, Harry fell abruptly back on his elbows, an action which somehow led to their respective thighs rubbing up against each other and their arms and elbows mingling. He appeared to be considering Draco’s question with all gravity.

“What?” Draco demanded again, barely resisting the urge to straighten his collar. Or just rip his shirt off altogether. “Will you stop?”

“Well…if it was me.” Harry paused, infuriatingly. “Wearing that.”

“What? My—?”

Stylish ensemble, was what Draco hoped Harry was thinking. It was Muggle style, though, so who really knew? Madame had assured him these things called ‘cargoes’ were all the rage. And his shirt was lifted right off the runways of Wizarding Milan, or so she’d claimed. Literally. By express Owl. And his swim suit? Somewhere in Paris a handsome young thing was likely made starkers when Madame snapped her fingers in just that way. Fashion waited on no man, apparently, nor time, nor tide. Not at Malkins, leastways.

“Suit?” he prodded, forgetting that there was no way Harry could see it. “Is that what you’re staring at, so rudely?” Not yet, at least. 

The bathing suit itself, though, that was the clincher, so to speak. Tricot, she’d said—soft as a baby’s bum, as thin as tissue silk, and tailored so close that it had taken a special spell to stitch it closed along the seams—where there were seams, of course. It was a bathing suit intended to, hmm, suggest concealment, rather than actually do any of the heavy lifting. Draco could attest, because his cock—a stupidly perky beast with a will of its own—was making itself known again and he was very much afraid Harry had noticed it. Or not afraid. Or something.

“Hmm,” Harry hummed, nodding. “If it were me…”

“Yes? If it was you, Potter?”

“I think I’d start by removing my shirt.” The amiable tone didn’t quite match the very definite glint in those roving green eyes. “And then perhaps those weird pocketed things you have on. That would be a decent start.”

“Ah. Would it now.”

Nonplussed, Draco examined his outfit yet again.

It was a bit over-warm; Harry did have a valid point about the sun. Very bright, that. The Muggle button-down was layered over the shoulder straps of the suit, with a little insignia pasted on that reminded Draco vaguely of Granions. The fine fabric did rather feel heavy and constricting all of the sudden—and his short trousers were most definitely neither quite short enough nor light enough, not as compared to Harry’s. Nothing was as short as Harry's shorts, really. 

“Right, right. Okay.” Draco breathed in, steadying his nerves. 

“Yeah?”

Besides, all those pocket plaquets chafed him a bit, especially the ones unhappily bunched about his bollocks. He glanced about them helplessly. With the Slytherin contingent piled in, there was literally no room to maneuver.

“Er? Shall I? Yes. Fine! Since it’s bothering you so, Harry. I’ll just—”

He gestured, invoking the silent Revealing Charm Pansy had showed him, the one she used in clubs. Instantly the ‘cargoes’ shrank by several generous inches, baring more of his thighs, and then Vanished discreetly. His button-down thinned from lawn to gossamer and then hastily slithered down to pool behind him before shimmering away off into the Great Aether.

"Better?"

The meandering breeze off the lake—more like a steady headwind, really, as it picked up—stroked over the newly bared skin all along his arms and shoulders and down his ribs, raising tiny bumps, but the deceptive warmth of the sun was all the invitation Draco required to lean back, just as Harry was. He felt the thin black tricot caress his skin, just barely concealing his pebbled nipples, his sleek, nearly hairless chest and the patch of cornsilk-coloured fur that trailed down below his navel to his privates.

“Oh, yes,” Harry purred, abruptly sitting bolt upright. He subjected Draco’s body to a very thorough visual examination.  All his previous peeps, stares, perusals and glances were as nothing compared to this! “Now that’s what I call a brilliant improvement! Well done, you.”

“Is it? I mean, of course it is, Harry!”

Draco outright blushed with pleasure and didn’t mind it in the slightest, lost as he was in the very interested jade fathoms that were Harry’s famous eyes.

“Um?” he said softly, when Harry discreetly nudged an arm 'round behind him, ostensibly to provide Draco’s spine a prop. “So, we’re really all just out here to accomplish absolutely nothing today?”

“Yep,” Harry said cheerily. “It’s a thing.” He looked smug. “I invented it, actually. Just Friday morning, at breakfast. Do you like it?”

“It’s alright, I suppose,” Draco replied, as nonchalantly as possible what with those curious fingertips slinking ‘round his rib cage. He suppressed a tiny shudder of delight and briefly allowed himself to contemplate those self-same fingers dancing along naked skin. “Not that I shouldn’t be beavering away at the Mermish. It’s—ah!—never a bad thing to be fully prepared, Harry.”

He squirmed; Harry’s fingertips tickled, rather.

“Oh, agreed,” Harry said fervently, eyes hot. "I like being prepared." He placed an equally hot palm squarely upon Draco’s one leg, just at the joint. Draco inhaled sharply, staring at it. He’d not known kneecaps could function as erogenous zones. “We should always, always be prepared, Draco. For any circumstance. Constant vigilance, what?”

Draco’s eyes widened. Did Harry refer to the undeniable attraction they’d built up between them all this last year, right along with their blossoming friendship? Draco wished he did. It would be ever so nice to bring that tension to a happy close, preferably via Harry acquiescing to Draco’s invite to McGonagall's Year’s End Ball.

Perhaps if he did, and they went, and then Harry enjoyed himself, and then Draco asked politely enough at the end of the evening, they’d finally have that snog Draco had been envisioning for absolute ages. The snog they almost might’ve had less than mere twenty-four hours ago, down Hogsmeade on Saturday evening, waiting on Granger and Weasley to play catch up in the street outside Puddifoot’s.

“No matter,” Harry’s voice breathed suddenly in Draco’s ear, startling him, “how expected—or unexpected—the circumstances, right, Draco?”

Harry leaned away just as abruptly as he’d leaned in, the hand on Draco’s knee casually making its way up Draco’s leg, drifting ever closer to the crotch of that scandalously tiny scrap of fabric that did nothing to hide the state of Draco's privates. Quite as if he’d quite forgotten he’d left it there, the devious bastard!

“…Er, what?”

Draco stared wall-eyed at Harry, more than a bit thrown, and subtly shifted his legs about to dislodge that lingering hand before he could completely disgrace himself. Harry sounded remarkably like Draco himself—same snark, same inflection, same artfully honest ambiguity that Draco prided himself had become the hallmark of all his conversations with Harry lately. It was remarkably disconcerting. Also sexy as fucking hell, but still. It left Draco wary.

“Yes?” He eyed Harry carefully, assessing. “I’m not sure I’m clear.”

There was reason for that, naturally, as Slytherins never did anything without a reason. Admiring Harry's shaggable bod was undeniably a brilliant occupation—and something else, too. Seeing Harry admire him openly in return was a wet dream waking. All of this combined was objectively very, very good indeed, but also rather terribly dangerous. Draco, in pursuit of the long goal, wasn’t about to presume.

‘Needs must’ didn’t bloody well translate to ‘damn the Bludgers, full speed ahead!’

No, no. He’d too much to lose if he assumed even slightly. He and Harry, they weren’t quite a thing, officially. When NEWTS ended, so would their final term and he and Harry might very well go their separate ways and end up on different continents, for all Draco knew. His pash and life-long fancy might very well go unrequited.

Draco blinked first, quailing before that unending stare.

“What sort of preparation were you thinking of, exactly?”

No, no! That wasn’t it either! Draco shoved his strange ‘at-sea’ feelings firmly aside. He  was the Slytherin in this situation, after all, no matter how enticing it was to have Harry insinuating all manner of things in that sinfully sensual tone of voice! Or looking and looking at Draco, as if he’d quite like to gobble him up.

“Our upcoming exams, I should hope?”

Draco couldn’t quite help himself; he batted his eyelashes. He was quite well aware they were one of his best features, being long and gold-tipped and lush around the usually sharp grey of his eyes. He shifted, managing to nudge Harry’s leg with his own as if by accident, coming right in as close as he dared.

“Oh. Sure,” Harry nodded easily, right at Draco’s naked collarbone, quite nearly brushing that determined chin against it. “Those.”

Draco glanced about surreptitiously but no one had noticed them laying nearly atop one another.

“But,” Harry went on when Draco didn’t reply, mainly because he couldn’t think of a coherent reply. “I was really thinking more along the lines of some. Ahhh.”

He paused, giving Draco’s hip a very meaningful squeeze, knuckles brushing past Draco’s cock in passing. Draco flinched. His fashionable bathing suit’s snug fitting intimacy quite lost all control over that part of him!

“Private." Harry blushed hot; Draco was struck dumb by it. "Um. Lessons? You know, right? What I mean.”

Transfixed by the realization that all those wank fantasies now had the very distinct possibility of coming true, Draco gulped air like a fish out of water. Choked himself and nearly went off into an unseemly bout of coughing.

"Gah!" 

After a long moment, he remembered himself sufficient to nod, showing willing. Remembered also to swallow, as he was salivating freely, his eyes fast glued to where Harry’s hand lingered—and lingered. Draco licked his contrarily arid lips, wetting them.

“Uh…huh.”

Through all of it, Harry stared and stared at Draco. And the sun, it was bloody unbearable. Terribly hot. Immensely hot. Not at all shady or private!

“Uh, it's hot?” Harry smiled at him, and it was a very inviting sort of smile, the likes of which Draco had never before imagined receiving from his shy, slightly standoffish Harry. Layers upon layers of wicked innuendo, all soaked with marked intent. “It’s a bit too warm, isn't it, just sitting here by the water. Don’t you agree? Shall we—shall we go for a stroll?”

“Ye-urgh!” Draco wrestled his tongue into obedience. “Yes! Let’s! Brilliant notion!”

“Oh, brilliant.”

If Harry, who Draco had been chasing assiduously from nearly the first of bloody September, when he’d accidentally-but not accidentally overheard Granger and Weasley discussing Potter’s newly expanded sexual horizons, was truly propositioning Draco for a shag right in the midst of a crowd of his own Housemates, and this at noon on a Sunday during exams cramming, who was Draco Malfoy to demur? He opened his mouth to do more of the opposite of demurring, but words fully failed him. It sounded more like a moan, that noise, which came out his open mouth. A needy one.

“And,” Harry continued merrily on, grinning like a Toothy Fish and guileless as all fuck despite the fact his other hand had slipped under the very back of Draco’s waistband, and  well under the tight, slick press of the bloody swimsuit, and had in fact wriggled his fingers straight down into the crack of Draco’s clenched bum. “Maybe a bit of a splash in the shallows? It’s such a beautiful day for a swim, Draco. Hullo? Draco.”

“Yes,” Draco replied fervently, his head filled with all the pruriently delicious acts a pair of randy Wizards might get up to under the helpfully concealing shallows of the murky Lake. “I—think that would be brilliant. Harry.”

“Really.”

“Oh yes. A chance to improve our conversational Mermish, yeah?” Draco babbled, scrambling for any excuse to prop up this most excellent suggestion of ‘private’ anything.

“Mermish? Well, then, what are we waiting for? Let’s go.” Harry quirked his brows at Draco, deftly removed his hands from Draco’s bum and crotch and rose to his feet in one smooth motion. He thrust a hand out to Draco, offering assistance. “Shall we? I know of a place. As it happens.”

“Oh, Merlin, oh, Merlin, oh, it’s happening, finally fucking hap—” Draco muttered. He cut himself off abruptly. “Certainly, Harry! Let's go study some Mermish!”

He glanced about him to make sure all the nosy, prying Gryffs and Slyths were marking his words. Because if he were them, he’d be snooping and prying like nobody’s business and that was just not on. A little politic subterfuge was called for; Slytherins could do it in their sleep, casting red herrings..

“Um. Draco?” Harry—so sweet—looked puzzled. “What now with the Mermish?”

“Yes, I do  believe we should go and practice our Mermish now,” Draco said loudly, making sure to speak quite clearly. With added volume, even. “A few hours hard study will make all the difference in the world, I’m sure. By all means, lead on. We should begin with grammar.”

“Oh? Oh!”

"Right this way!" Brazenly, Draco dared link elbows with Harry, blissfully inhaling the aroma of sun-warmed skin and coconut-scented lotion Harry’s hot body emanated, and turned them smartly to face the the only clear path off the bloody dock. "Can't waste a moment!"

“Yes,” he hissed for Harry's ear alone. “'Oh', indeed, Potter. There is such a thing as discretion.”

“Right,” Harry said, catching on quickly. “The lake water’s a bit more tolerable down by the edge of the Forest. We’ll go there. Laters, Ron!" he called out. "See you, Hermione. Enjoy your skiving holiday!”

He nodded at them, and together he and Draco made their way carefully over the strewn about bodies of Hogwarts senior students, soon setting off along the lake’s edge at an extraordinarily  fast clip.

“Alright there, Draco?”

Harry grinned up at him, tucking his hand firmly into Draco’s empty one and bumping shoulders companionably. He looked completely at ease, and not at all like a person who was planning to inflict any major onslaught of embarrassment upon his companion.

“It really is a beautiful day, isn’t it? I’m glad you did finally find your way out of your bloody dungeons. I wish you’d come out sooner but this is alright too.”

Draco nodded hesitantly, taking his time to consider. Was he happy too, like Harry seemed to be? Certainly he was fucking excited.

Thoughts spinning, he glanced away, for coming into plain view was a tiny, sheltered pebble beach on the shore line, well away from the crowd by the dock. But then his gaze turned back to Harry once more. He looked simply scrummy: all windblown hair, perspiring just sufficient to be attractive and breathtakingly fit in that tiny scrap of denim. Harry, who drew Draco’s eyes always, even when he was wearing boring old school robes and yapping on about Quidditch whilst they all got trollied on Longbottom’s homebrew.

“Yes. I am, actually.”

It would be alright, it would; Draco was sure of it. Harry wouldn’t cruelly fuck about with Draco’s affections. Not now, at least. He didn’t think.

“But I’ll be happier yet when we’re some place more private and out of the wind,” he sighed, a shiver catching up to him. “Bit nippy, what? For a stroll and a swim.”

“Oh, please.” Harry issued an inelegant snort and sped up contrarily. "As if we're doing either of those things." 

“What?" Draco skidded to a halt in his sandals. Uncertainty was the veriest bugger; his gut was all tied up in knots. "Wait, please! Harry? I’m not wrong, am I? This is  what this is all in aid of, isn’t it—the ‘some place private’? You and me and maybe finally fucking following through on all those hints you’ve been casting my way? Because, if it’s not—well, let’s just make it clear right now I’m not bloody here for my Mermish, alright?”

Draco dug in his heels, dragging Harry 'round by the elbow and derailing his hell-bent-for-leather course down and along the sloping banks. “Oh Merlin bugger, what I meant to say is, if it’s not, then alright, it’s not. If you’re  not—not sure—or ready, then I—we oughtn’t. We oughtn’t go any further, Harry. We just—no. ”

“Merlin! What are you on about?” Harry rolled his eyes as Draco clutched him closer. They were halted, nose-to-nose, Draco breathing unevenly and fogging up Harry’s spectacle lenses. “Buggering Hades, Draco! What’s the matter with you?”

“No, it's. Look here, you." Draco stammered. "I hate to say, Harry, but even a First Year Hufflepuff would assume—at least after that little act, back there, in front of everyone—and I should hope I’m not such a fool?”

“Er, what now?”

Draco blinked hopefully down at Harry, who wasn’t blinking at all.

“Or…am I? Wrong-headed. Presuming, I mean. That you do  fancy me.”

“Of course I fucking do.” Harry grasped a great handful of Draco’s stupid clingy singlet and twisted it tight. He glared some pretty filthy daggers, though. “Merlin’s frilly knickers, are you really that clueless?”

“What, me?” Draco sniffed, highly insulted. “I’m not the one who didn’t snog me last night when I bloody well had every chance in the world, Harry Potter! Talk about daft!”

“Yes!” Harry exclaimed, stamping a foot in exasperation. “You are abso-bloody-lutely daft. We could’ve have snogged a million times last night if only you weren’t so broom-shy, Draco Malfoy! You great duffer. Could’ve snogged me blind anytime you pleased this entire last term if only you’d had the bollocks. Don’t say you didn’t realize this?”

“We…could've?” Draco, not one to take well to being informed he was a blooming idiot, gawped. “Could we?”

“Oh fuck me blind, you haven’t clued in at all, have you? It’s worse than I imagined. You're a Slytherin, damn it! Tell me, have you been hit by a Stunner lately?”

Harry made an abortive movement, as though he’d have liked to flail—maybe to actually administer that Stunner!—but didn’t actually let go of Draco’s swimsuit either.

“Um, no?” Draco offered, unhelpfully. “Not to my recollection. But not months, Harry. Couldn’t have been. I’d have noticed.”

“Yes, months!” Harry insisted, looking more and more cheesed off. “No wonder, then. I quite thought I was going a bit mad there, this morning, what with you faffing about for ages before you even came down the lake. Blimey. Well, come on. We can chat about how you’re a mug down on the beach, where it’s warmer. Or in the sun, at least.”

“Alright,” Draco agreed blankly, “let’s go.” And didn’t budge an inch.

“Really, fuck this for a lark.” Harry shuddered against Draco when the lake wind suddenly picked up and nearly bowled them off their pins. Which served to thrust their hips together and pressed all Harry’s mostly naked warmth right smack up against Draco’s scantily clad torso. "Brrrr!" 

“…What?” Draco blinked. 

“Bugger this bloody stupid breeze, Draco! Scotland in June’s not exactly holiday weather. Let’s go!”

“Er, pardon me, Harry?” Draco raised his eyebrows politely. “I’m afraid I don’t quite follow? Months, you say. As in multiple.”

“Since Christmas hols, at least,” Harry nodded, wincing. “Look here, I’m very sorry if you’re shocked by all this, but?” Draco frowned and automatically tightened his arms about him. “I’m English; cold-blooded, jersies in July, all that. Same as you and you’ve goosebumps all over you even with more clothes on than me! I mean, I shucked my shirt at nine a.m. this morning so I could bloody well light a fire under your bum, so you’d finally work up the nerve to do something, anything, and now I am suffering for it here. Could we please move on? At least if we're walking it'll be w-warmer.”

“Alright.” Draco nodded, stuck on stationary and frowning in bemusement. "Sure."

It would, he thought, have been pleasant to be informed at some point along the way that they were, in fact, actually mutually fancying and not just pre-fancying. Or whatever it was called. Pansy would likely know; Draco would ask her later.

“Wait. Since Christmas hols, you say. Seriously, five whole months, Potter?”

“Yes! I told you already. Anyway,” Harry’s voice was insistent. “I’ve been waiting half-naked outside on the dock for you since just after brekkers, I’ve had to give Ron a damn Galleon because of you and I’m not exactly dressed warmly enough for what passes for a Scots summer day, alright? Would you please sort yourself out already? My teeth are chattering!”

“Oh!” Draco exclaimed, emerging finally and fully from his stupor. “Fucking fantastic, Harry!”

“What? Now you’re happy I’m freezing my bollocks off? Merlin, Malfoy!”

“No, no! Not what I meant!” Draco decided he could be furious later and focus instead on the being really bloody happy right in the current moment. “I’m so sorry, Harry—just sort of lost the page there for an instant. Here, let me. Been using a warming charm since I got out here, you know. It’s not exactly balmy.”

It was bleeding Scotland, for Merlin’s sake. No one in their right mind would frolic in the lake and cavort about mostly in the nude in the beginning of May, sunny day or no! He wondered how many NEWTS students were still curled up on their makeshift beach rugs, huddled under their brollys, blue-lipped in their swimmies and furtively cursing his obstinate light o’love? All because the great Harry Potter had spontaneously decided an unofficial Skiving Holiday was what was really needed to shake up Draco’s world!

Not that Draco really had any objection. So far, it had been working out just dandy, at least from his perspective.

“Hmmm, Harry. Alright there? I can do another if you need it.”

And then Draco forgot about all of that and just spent a dreamy little moment looking at his  Harry-armful. ‘His Harry’. Which had a lovely ring to it and was a phrase Draco would be sure to use often and in company, every chance he had. Provided Harry was alright with that, too.

“Much, thanks,” his Harry-armful nodded, settling in nicely and no longer seeming as particularly stroppy. "Nice strong one, that." Indeed, he tucked his nose right up against Draco’s neck so that his lips tickled skin when he spoke.

"Well, I live in a marble house, Harry." Draco smiled. "Stands to reason." 

“Right, right, but. What really happened with you this morning, Draco? I thought I’d made it crystal clear last night, what I wanted. Did you lose your nerve or something?” He kissed Draco’s neck, the confusing prat. “Not that I’d blame you for balking at the last minute—at least, not much. I know it’s not so easy, dating your ex-rival and sort of all ‘round annoying insect, but I’d thought we’d got past that.”

He drew back and blinked up at Draco with concern written all over his snoggable face. Which further knocked Draco a’kilter.

“Er, we have, haven’t we?”

“Certainly!”

Draco’s mouth proclaimed this forcefully, whilst Draco’s brain was busy fragmenting all to smithereens. This was not merely a pash, a passing fancy, but was an actual relationship?

They were dating? They had been dating? It was a known thing that they were dating? Oh, bloody fuck! Brilliant  didn't even begin to describe what he was feeling; Draco’s day had just gone jammy as all fuck!

“Oh yes, absolutely, we have,” he hastened to assure Harry. “We most definitely have. So far past it, Harry, you don’t even know. Cannot comprehend how many leagues past it we are. Certainly I  am past it. Chuffed to hear you’re past it too.”

“Good-oh. Must say, you had me going there for a bit, you tease,” Harry grinned and laid a quick snog on Draco’s doing-his-best-to-not-look-gobsmacked face.

"Slytherin, right?" Draco managed to casually shrug and paste a 'what can I say?' look onto his face. "Nature of the beast, Harry, sorry." 

“S'alright, I don't mind it. Now, I’ve got a nice spot picked out.” Harry let go of Draco to point out the secluded cove on the lake shore. “Just there. And I would quite like to see more of you, but preferably from a horizontal vantage, so. Shall we?”

“Um. Yes?”

Draco did not squawk at that idea, and he congratulated himself for his utter sanguinity when Harry shucked his short shorts clear off and Transfigured a lovely lilo from them once they’d reached his little beach. Nor did he utter even a ‘meep!’ when Harry dusted his hands off, gripped Draco’s shoulders and deftly hooked one of his ankles straight out from under him, sweeping him off his feet and tumbling both down upon the soft surface.

For all Harry claimed to be chilled, he was actually quite hot to the touch; Draco, having landed on the bottom, occupied himself happily with doing what he’d been gagging to do for ages: touching the blasted sexy bloke all over and revelling in the heat and intimacy. Nipples, nape, hips, hair, navel, scruffy pelt of a happy trail and then that gloriously firm, pert bum Harry had been waggling in his direction for far too many years to be counted.

“You’re soft here,” he murmured happily, “and hmmm, hard, here.” He couldn’t resist tickling Harry’s inner thigh, before moving on to cup Harry’s full bollocks, which caused his objet d’amour snort and giggle. “I quite like that, Harry. Say, d’you think I can get you harder still? Maybe if I do this…”

“Stop teasing me!” Harry scolded, wriggling about and making himself very comfortable atop Draco. He smiled down as if this was something they routinely did. “And c’mere. I want a snog. We’ve not done that yet.”

“Right!” Draco agreed immediately, or tried to, but Harry had a tongue on him as hot as his bum cheeks and Draco didn’t manage more than a muffled ‘Mmph!” and happy moan.

Not exactly a loss, Draco concluded dizzily, angling his chin into a blisteringly intense open-jawed kiss and using his arms, hands, elbows, knees and thighs to mould Harry to his body.

He rolled them over on the lilo after a few moments, wanting more pressure on his cock, which ached fierce and sweet. Harry went with it, humming with satisfaction. He slid a hand between them, diving it straight past the stretchy Muggle swim briefs and groping deftly at Draco’s privates, then fiercely shoving aside Draco’s silly, useless swimsuit where it strained ineffectually to contain him. Groaning, he managed to drag it off altogether with a little help from Draco, an act of contortion that had both of them sighing in bliss.

“B-Better?”

“Ugh, ummm!” Draco gurgled happily and continued his side of this two-person exploration sex-pedition with even more fervor.

Not that there weren't a few questions. Slytherins always had questions, just as they always had reasons. A bit of a confidential chat with Harry later would certainly be good at clearing a few nagging ones Draco had, such as ‘When we did we start dating, exactly? Because anniversary!’ and ‘Where the fuck did you learn to do that—and with whom? I’m fucking jealous!’, but all of that could also quite safely wait. There was skin to lick and nibble at the moment and a superior package of Potter-y bit-and-tackle to make much of. Draco was in his fucking alt, at long last.

“Mmm, you like thissssh?” Harry slurred, wrapping his fist greedily around Draco’s cock in return. Apparently he appreciated Draco’s avid response to heavy petting. “Hhhm?”

“Nom, nom, nom,” Draco gargle-mumbled, or something equally nonsensical. “Gimme!”

Harry obligingly shifted his hips and spread his thighs wide, bringing his kneecaps right level with Draco’s scarlet-tipped ears.

“Alright there?” he asked pertly, and reached between their bellies to slap a sloppy handful of charmed Sex Magic Potion all over Draco’s bits and his own. “Let’s do it, Malfoy. Hand on my bits, please.”

“You wish?” It was too much; Draco just had to arch a brow and ask, hovering his palm over Harry’s cock. “Not scared, are you, Potter?”

He held his breath, though, and examined Harry’s expression searchingly, just in case maybe Harry was, in fact. Then they’d have to flat-out stop, because Draco was never, ever going to do that to Harry. Or himself. Except he  wasn’t frightened, not in the least. He was free, at last, to do what he pleased, and what he pleased was to please Harry.

“No, really, you’re alright, Harry? ‘Cause we can-I mean, we don’t have to—it’s alright if—it’s bloody shagging, you know? For real, Can just get off, if you want.”

“Pish-tosh! M’not scared. Gryffindork, remember? Not built to be a coward,” Harry snarked, and rubbed the Sex Potion around everything down there most liberally. “If I didn't want to do this 'for real', Draco, you’d never have got anywhere near me at all. Now, come on, I’m not exactly a shrinking violet and I’ve been waiting on you for ages—do it!”

“Well, alright. If you insist, Harry,” Draco said, as nonchalantly as one may when awash with teenage hormones and the realization of every single secret wank fantasy he’d had, ever.

"Prat!" 

"Yes, alright, no need to be nasty." He positioned himself, just so, one hand on his cock to guide it, one hand planted flat on the lilo, balancing, and shoved gently. Quite, quite gently. "O-Okay?" 

"Mmmm...yes." Harry's eyes closed and he smiled beatifically. 

“So, tell me?” Draco asked after a long moment, a little breathless from not-coming-instantly.

“What?” Harry replied, sharpish, opening his eyes again. “Er, maybe a little more now? Please?”

Draco obliged. It was hard going but he was not completely without experience in these matters and Sex Magic Potion was wonderful stuff, all silky-smooth and tingly and magically enhancing the flex-and-slide motions that characterized a decent arse-reaming.

“Um. Why?”

Draco breathed into it, glad to see Harry was doing the same.

"Wha-What?"

“Do. You.”

"Uh. Uh-huh!" Harry started thrusting his arse upwards, which was amazing and also a clarion call for more speed, obviously. "Merlin. Do it." 

“Want!” Draco gasped, seating himself fully and jab-prodding to discover that little nub of nerve-endings spelled ‘bliss’. He sped up a fraction, not wishing to be a slowtop. “To!”

“Urrr-arrgh, ooooh!” Harry said, or groaned, and lolled his head from side to side on the lilo, rolling his green eyes back so far Draco saw rather a lot of white. His lips were pulled back, teeth bared, and he’d set himself to rocking up to meet Draco’s thrusts at a nice Seeker’s pace. All very satisfactory, Draco decided, but he was still curious. And barely articulate, but there it was.

“Do-This-Naaauuuuoooooow?!” Draco semi-howled, semi-growled, as they’d found that bloody rhythm Eros invented and were going at it like—Draco forgot absolutely everything entirely for a moment, stuck on the cusp, the brink of the divine, and then decided he didn’t care one whit about the whys-and-wherefores, not at this sublime apex of his young life. “Gah! Gah, gah, gah, GO, Harry!”

Harry made some noises, very encouraging ones. Draco shut his blabbing gob on a torrent of same, biting his lip so hard he was drawing blood, trying not to come ‘till Harry did. His hand wrapped ‘round Harry’s cock went slip-slap at a blinding speed; he squeezed with shuddering careful care and made certain to rub his palm across the head on every down stroke. It was brilliant. As every time he did that, Harry looked even more lost in desire, his bent legs starting to sag, eyes closed and mouth open, spectacles entirely askew.

“I’m!—I’mma-gonna—” Draco tried to warn Harry, as it had been some endless time and his bollocks were so full of juice they bloody ached to burst. Harry’s dick had purpled and swollen to the point where it looked painful, though clearly that wasn’t the case, judging by the way he was squirming and moaning. “You—you need to—I want you to! Oh--please!”

He yanked on Harry’s cock frantically, matching the splitting pace he’d set to the their fucking, spitting out random syllables of encouragement and adoration in the hopes they might be workable.

“No—I—you! So good, so bloody—I’mmm-gonna-ooooh! Please—please? Harry? Cah-Coeee-COME! ING!”

“MERLIN!” Harry bellowed, spewing out the white stuff like a fucking fountain. “FUCK ME!”

“Gah! Yeeeeeessssss!”

"...Fuck me," Harry muttered and appeared to pass out peacefully. 

There was no real reply to that, as Draco had just most decidedly shagged Harry, so he merely fell off his own knees and keeled quietly over in an inelegant heap, panting harshly.

The sound of his own breathing filled his head like the susurration of a receding tidal wave. His brain was all melted anyway; he was vaguely surprised it wasn't draining out his ears. He was hot, he was sated, the sun was beating down upon them, doing its damned best to combat the lake’s dank breeze and somewhere nearby the Squid was splashing about its business. All was well with the world, actually, and with Draco, too.

They both lay there for a while. Possibly a long while, or maybe not so much; who knew? And who cared? Not Draco, certainly. It was a holiday, wasn’t it? A Harry Potter Skiving Day, even.

He was aware he was smiling like a lackwit but then again, so was Harry, just now wakeful again, and all was good. Remarkably so. Brilliant. Superb. Splendiferous, really. The scent of spent sex drifting off his and Harry’s persons was a waft of Amortmentia, it was so compelling. If he had the energy, Draco mused, he’d roll right back over and go at Harry again.

He didn’t, feeling languorous instead, as apparently did Harry, who’d totally dozed off, his one arm flung over his face to ward off the brilliance of the glinting water and the afternoon's slanting rays. Time passed. And then a little more time. Not a long time, but still. The sun did that moving thing it did and there were some developing clouds and whatnot. 

“Harry.”

It was, however, long enough for Draco to notice that his Notice-Me-Not was fading and maybe Harry’s lilo was not as cushiony as it could be. Accordingly, he poked his new boyfriend and then did it again when Harry only swatted at him.

“Oi, watch it! Harry? Harry, wake up.” Draco fended off the swatting hand with ease. Mainly by grabbing it and pressing a quick smooch to the offender’s knuckles. “Harry, someone is going to come wandering down here, you know. We’re not that far out of view.”

“Nnnn,” Harry flapped his other uncaring paw in the general direction of Hogwarts castle. Draco rolled his eyes in amusement as it flailed harmlessly past his nose. “Let ‘em.”

“No,” Draco replied decisively, leaving go Harry’s hand. He sat up abruptly, so fast he swayed, and began looking about for his belongings. His wand, mainly, since important items had been Vanished. Such as his cargoes, and he was rather wanting them back. Harry would likely want his denims, too. McGonagall would not approve of nude sunbathing, not in the least. “Let’s not. You were already cold before and there’s clouds sprung up. We should go in now.”

Harry grunted, but began the apparently laborious process of levering himself off the decidedly thinning lilo and finding his own wand.

“Besides,” Draco remarked casually, casting a silent Finite upon the shrinking lilo and then a Scourgify upon his UnVanished clothing. Then Harry's scandalous shorts for good measure. It was never too soon to start taking care of one's precious boyfriend. “I asked you a question a while ago and you’ve not answered it. Impolite, Potter.” He handed over Harry’s denims and smiled at Harry’s pleased nod of thanks. “So? Why today, if you don’t mind my asking. Instead of all the other days you keep telling me it could’ve happened?”

Harry opened his eyes very wide behind his specs and stepped into his denims, balancing first on one foot and then the other.

“Oh, I see,” he grinned, “you’ve finally twigged it, Draco. Congratulations, then. Good on you.”

Which was such a snappy, snarking response it nearly caused Draco to toss aside their attire and drag his sassy lover back down to the hard stony ground for another round of shagging. This time out of revenge, pure and simple. But he didn’t, because Harry had the good sense to shut his taunting mouth, do up his flies and come and kiss him like the bloody hero he was.

“Yes, alright, enough. Not that I don’t want to, mind, but—”

“Well, it’s simple enough, really." Harry smiled, but it was a tilt of the lips tinged with sad recollections. "Last year, on this day, it was horrible, right? The Battle. Voldemort. All…all the blood, and so many people—” He looked very distressed and Draco felt immediately like a horrible, terrible person. He’d not meant to stir up the memories.

“You don’t have to say any more, Harry,” he interrupted quickly. “It’s alright; I remember it. All too clearly.”

“I know,” Harry murmured, coming in close and laying his cheek against Draco’s chest. They wrapped arms around each other in silent accord, each striving to provide the other comfort. “I know you do. I suppose it’s that I’ve been wanting so much to make us a good memory for this day, a brilliant one, in fact, and also you and I have been so very—well.” He cleared his throat. “Er, ahem.”

“‘Slow off the mark’, I wager, is the phrase you’re looking for here.” Draco chuckled ruefully. “Partly due to my clueless condition, apparently. I am sorry about that, Harry. I likely ought to have caught on sooner but I also didn’t want to hash it up altogether. ‘Course maybe—and here’s an idea to keep in mind for the future, Harry—you could’ve kindly just told me. Wanker.”

“Hah!” Harry giggled, and tightened his arms about Draco’s waist. “No fear. It was a bit of fun, you know? Watching all you Slytherins scheme and charm everyone and then do it so sincerely we all found ourselves quite liking you lot. Despite ourselves.”

“Thanks, I think,” Draco said, rolling his eyes. "I say again, wanker."

“Besides, I had to sort myself out, you know? That took ages,” Harry went on, shifting around uneasily so that his wild mop tickled Draco’s lips and chin. “I’m not exactly a quick study when it comes to who I really fancy. Though I did take note of your particular arse, eyes and hair a long time ago. And how bloody fucking brilliant you look on a damned Nimbus.”

“Oh, same,” Draco agreed, nuzzling Harry’s mop happily. “Bit of a stupid head, me. Did you know I know exactly how you take your tea, Harry? Have done since First Year.”

“Well, brill. We can be idiots together then,” Harry smiled, tipping his chin up to meet Draco’s willing lips. Draco could have definitely lost himself nibbling on them except that Harry was still chattering away at him. “They’ve made a betting pool, you know. Our so-called mates. Hermione and Parkinson, all the Ravenclaw and Gryffindor girls too. Ron, that bastard. Likely your Zabini. Definitely Dean and Seamus—”

“Those wankers,” Draco replied amiably as they drew apart and began the walk back to the school. “I hope you thought to skew your own anonymous wager in our favour?”

“Of course I did,” Harry nodded, eyes glinting behind his spec frames. “I might owe Ron a bloody Galleon but we should be raking in quite a considerable amount more than that, come tomorrow. Probably fifty. Maybe more.”

“Mmm, enough for a dirty weekend up Diagon Alley?” Draco asked hopefully. “Leaky has private rooms, you know.”

“That it does,” Harry said, as they came to the top of the hillock. He scanned the environs, as did Draco, both noting that the straggly crowd of Hogwarts Eighth Years had scattered completely, likely off to partake of Sunday supper.

“Hmm.” Harry motioned at Hogwarts main entry. “Well, shall we make our appearance? Or are you not quite ready for the mass mockery? I know Ron’s been saving up any number of—”

“May it begin,” Draco replied magnanimously, proceeding forward with squared shoulders and a tighter grip upon his boyfriend’s hand. “I am impervious to all catcalls and japes now. We’ve snogged and shagged, yes? And snuck off in public to do so. We’re now officially an item, or will be, according to Pansy. And after all, Harry, ‘the course of true love—’”

“Runs flippin’ pear-shaped,” Harry finished smartly, “and I, for one, wouldn’t have it any other way. Ready?”

“Oh, I expect I will be, after supper,” Draco smirked, leaning in and down to nip at Harry’s earlobe in teasing retribution. “And I know of a place. As it happens.”

“Oh, yeah? Always knew there was good to be found in Slytherin, deep down inside,” Harry grinned, slyly pinching Draco’s bum. “Meet me after and let’s let me find out, yeah?”