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Title: Beekeeping
Author: khalulu
Rating: NC-17 overall; R for this part
Pairing(s): H/D
Summary: A few years after the war, Harry needs distance from the British wizarding world and volunteers abroad as a teacher in a poor rural school. Draco is a low-budget traveler, wandering wherever his curiosity leads him. Their paths cross in Malawi, “the warm heart of Africa.”
Warnings/Content Notes: No real warnings. Contains: sex, mostly not very graphic. Insects, ditto. Snide comment which does not reflect author’s real views on Snarry stories. Mention of previous feline violence against lizards.
Word Count: about 13,600 overall; part 1 is about 7,000
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: EWE. Harry and Draco are still wizards and retain all their powers, but magic is not used during the events in this story. This fic may not be seasonally accurate – that is, the relative timing of rainy season/ mango season/ school terms/ constellation visibility probably doesn’t line up properly. There’s a paraphrase of Walt Whitman’s line, “I sing the body electric.” The bee in the apple orchard art at the end is by Deborah Koch. Go here to see a picture of a Dragon Blood Peacock cichlid.

And here is a lovely illustration of Harry's dream, with gorgeous fish art and happy naked boys, by kalime80 - I am so happy that she did this! It's called I dreamt of a thousand scales, and it was you, and it's like a scene of an underwater Eden.

Written for and first posted here in the 2012 H/D Career Fair hosted by hd_fan_fair; a couple of very minor corrections have been made, and some new images added, to this post. Many many thanks to the mods and to my gracious, skillful and encouraging betas, thisgirl_is and altri_uccelli, without whom this fic would have languished unbalanced, unpolished and unseen. Remaining flaws are all mine.
You may also read the fic here on AO3. If you prefer to listen, here is a wonderful podfic by the lovely semperfiona! And if you'd prefer to read this fic in German translation, you may, thanks to the lovely phonixfeder! I am so grateful to both of them for giving their time and talents to my story.
This fic is brought to you by the letter Z.


by khalulu

Part 1 of 2 (part 2 is here)


It was early enough not to be too hot yet, birds were singing, and a young man in dreadlocks, one of Malawi’s rare Rastafarians, was pushing off from the lakeshore in a dugout canoe. Harry looked out past the green leaves and tropical blooms to the silver blue of the water, the soft blue of the sky. Nkhata Bay was picture-postcard beautiful, but few tourists made it this far off the beaten track. Most of the other guests at the small beachfront hotel and cabins were backpackers or, like Harry, volunteers taking an in-country holiday. And most of them weren’t up yet – there’d been a lot of drinking and loud music ‘til well past midnight. So this morning was still peaceful, and with no lessons to plan or papers to mark until the next term began, Harry could relax.

A snorkeler was coming back in to shore, with slow kicks of lean pale legs. Likely to burn badly in the African sun with that complexion, Harry thought idly. Haven’t seen anyone that pale since…. The man, young, was standing now, splashing up the last few steps onto the beach. He pulled the mask off an angular face, shaking lake water from the lightest of blond hair, more glistening drops running slantwise on a chest faintly slashed by a long jagged scar. Harry’s jaw dropped as his worlds collided.


The man stopped abruptly and shocked grey eyes snapped up to Harry’s own. He looked at Harry blankly for a moment, saying nothing. It couldn’t be Malfoy. It had to be Malfoy.

“What are you doing here?” Harry continued, still a bit dazed. Malawi was poor, obscure, placid and friendly – nothing to interest a Malfoy. Unless…. “How did you find me?” he added suspiciously.

“Extraordinarily bad luck?” the man said, half under his breath, then squared his shoulders. “Honestly, Potter, why would I go traipsing around the middle of Africa to look for you?”

“It is you.”

“Of course it’s me. What are you doing here?”

Harry wondered that himself sometimes.

“Saving the world?” Malfoy didn’t sound as snide as he had in the old days, but somehow Harry blushed a little.

“Seriously? What, curing pestilence? Averting famine? Spreading the light of truth and justice?”

“Not so successfully, no.”

“Well, it’s a tall order to take on single-handedly.” Malfoy seemed to take a deep breath, then moved to go on up the path. “Been lovely chatting with you, but I have to get out of this sun.”

Without thinking, Harry blocked his way. “No, you can’t just go!”

Malfoy froze. “Acquitted of all major charges, Potter. Served my parole years ago. If you’re looking for a threat to the wizarding world, it isn’t me.”

“What? No, I mean, of course you can – go wherever, I guess, just – it would be too strange to run into you here of all places and then not talk any more than this.”

“Everything is strange, Potter. Strange is how things are. And it’s not like there’s anything normal in us having a civil conversation.”

That was true enough, but Harry found himself unable to just let this go. “Yeah – well – maybe we could just… try, anyway?”

Malfoy regarded him in silence for a moment, then said “Alright. Not here, though, I really do need shade. Come on, then.”


Draco Malfoy turned out to have one of the little cabins along the lakeshore, part of the hotel but a good distance away from the noisy bar. He went in to change out of his wet swimming trunks, leaving Harry to sit on one of the woven reed chairs outside in the shade and look out at the lake. Malfoy reappeared with a plate of sliced mango and a packet of biscuits, which he opened and arranged on the plate, frowning. “That’s all I’ve got, sorry. I travel light and I’m cautious about using the wand around here, so I don’t have a way to make tea.”

“It’s fine - thanks,” said Harry, surprised to be served anything by Malfoy, who just nodded. Harry started to reach for some mango, then hesitated. Maybe he was being naïvely trusting. “I’m, uh, not hungry, though.”

Malfoy sighed. He ate a piece of mango and a biscuit somewhat grimly, then sat back and regarded Harry.

Harry realized that making conversation was up to him, and that he had no idea how to start. They’d always been antagonists, to put it mildly, and hadn’t talked since the war ended. But he hadn’t seen anyone from home in over a year. Somehow the sight of Malfoy wasn’t as unwelcome as he might have expected – if he could ever have expected something as surreal as Draco Malfoy playing the apologetically polite host. Harry made himself say something. “You still haven’t told me what you’re here for.”


“What are…?”

“Have you been snorkeling yet? They’re a type of tropical fish, and there are an incredible variety of them here - this lake is famous for them.”

“Famous if you’re into fish, maybe.” Which he wouldn’t have expected Malfoy to be.

“Oh – well, the Slytherin rooms were under the lake, you know, and some of them had windows. I suppose that’s how I got interested.” Malfoy was becoming more animated. “The fish here are gorgeous. Indigo, electric blue, gold, purple, red, all sorts of stripes and speckles and blends of color.” His hands darted through the air like the fish amid the rocks. “There’s one called Dragon Blood Peacock, how could I resist?”

Harry was dubious. “So you’re going to become the Prince of Cichlids?”

“What are you talking about? Rule over the local merpeople? No, Potter, I don’t think I could keep a bubble-head charm going that long.”

“I mean, are you in business to import tropical fish or something? Getting a monopoly on them for potions ingredients or aquariums or something?”

“No – not too fond of trapping and penning. I travel. I just came here to look at them.”

“Doesn’t seem very ambitious for a Malfoy.”

The light drained from Draco’s eyes, and his face and hands stilled. “Well, our family ambitions didn’t serve us very well in the end.”

Harry’s memory flashed back years, to Lucius Malfoy groveling before Voldemort in a cemetery. “Your family’s ambitions didn’t serve anything worth serving,” he said in a tight voice.

“I don’t dispute it,” Draco answered levelly.

Harry waited, but Draco didn’t continue. “You’ve changed,” Harry said abruptly. It came out sounding like an accusation.

“I had an eventful youth,” Draco began dryly, as Harry snorted. “It gave me food for thought.”

Harry scowled, and finally snorted again. “You think you had an eventful youth.”

Oddly enough, that earned him a wry half smile of acknowledgment. Then something small, shiny and golden was flying at Harry’s head. Reflexively he snatched it from the air, and found himself holding a wad of foil biscuit wrapper. They didn’t make Snitches like they used to.

He flicked the crumpled biscuit wrapper back at Malfoy’s face. It had all been simpler back on the Quidditch pitch. “God, I miss flying,” he sighed. “Let’s go find some lunch.”

H bee and flower

They decided to head into town to eat, for variety. It was a longish walk. After a passable meal at an outdoor restaurant under a huge tree, they looked about a little and started back.

“Zikomo,” Draco nodded to an old woman swaying down the path toward them with an enormous bundle of firewood on her head. She bent her knees slightly in response, in lieu of nodding her head.

Zikomo? You learned how to greet and thank people in Chichewa?”

“It’s courtesy, Potter. Don’t look so surprised.”

“Yeah, well, before today I didn’t exactly associate you with politeness.” Especially not to barefoot old women with sticks on their heads.

“I’ve always had good manners.”

Harry snorted. “Forgive me for never having noticed.”

“Yes, well, you were a special case. You refused my hand when I introduced myself.”

“When I was eleven? And what, I scarred you for life?” Harry scoffed, before remembering that glimpse of a thin line slanting across Malfoy’s chest. Apparently, in fact, he had.

But Draco was answering somewhat stiffly, “Of course not. But clearly, courtesy would’ve been wasted on you. And you were no angel yourself.”

“Granted. And Ron?”

“He laughed at my name.”

“So that justifies continually sneering at his family?”

“Ron was no angel either.”

“And Hermione?”

Draco was silent for a moment. “Alright, so I was a horrible person. Are you satisfied? Pephani.”

“You’re apologizing to me, now, in Chichewa, for calling Hermione a Mudblood all those years?”

“I shall apologize to her in English when next I see her. And not just for that.” Malfoy flung himself down onto a large rock and folded in on himself, knees pulled up to his chest, arms wrapped tightly around them, chin on knees. He frowned into space, looking more grim and – wretched? - than Harry had intended.

“Well – that’s good….”

“She was tortured in my home, Potter. Rather a serious breach of hospitality, don’t you think?”

Harry took a few breaths. “Do you think you could have stopped it?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t know how. I could’ve tried to say it wasn’t her, but they already knew it was, and then I was afraid they wouldn’t believe me about not recognizing you….” Draco had gotten hold of some leaves and was ripping them to shreds.

“You knew it was me, then?”

“Of course. A swelled head isn’t that much of a disguise on you.”

“So why would you want to cover for us?”

“Well, I couldn’t abide you, but that doesn’t mean I wanted you dead. And you seemed to have the best chance of defeating that madman, why I don’t know. You and that crazy luck of yours. I don’t stay stupid, Potter. You were deeply annoying, but he was…. I don’t even want to talk about it.”

“Yeah. Well – maybe for that bit, anyway, you weren’t to blame, if you were doing the best you could.” Harry himself couldn’t quite believe he was saying that.

“Says Mr. Carries the World on his Shoulders. Why are you defending me?”

“Um – ‘cause you’re not?”

“Is that all it takes? What, is this opposites day or something? So I should say, ‘Harry, I adore your dark tempestuous locks’?”

“What?” Harry had the sensation of playing verbal Quidditch against someone with a faster broom.

“Hair, nitwit.”

“Uh, yeah, I enjoy your scintillating repartee also.”

Draco grinned. “Not bad, Potter,” he said, getting up and tossing a handful of shredded leaves into Harry’s dark tempestuous locks.


“I didn’t want you dead either.”

Malfoy stopped in his tracks, only his eyes moving to Harry’s face.

“With that hex, in the bathroom, sixth year,” Harry clarified. “I didn’t know what it did. And I thought you were going to Crucio me.”

“I was,” Malfoy replied after a moment. “Though I don’t know that it would have worked. I turned out not to be so good at Cruciatus. But that hex - I’m surprised you knew anything that dark. Where did you find it?”

“Snape invented it.”

Draco stared at him, incredulous. “Snape? And he taught it to you?”

“No, I found it written in a textbook that used to be his. Back when he was a sixth year student himself.”

Draco shook his head slowly. “What a messed-up bunch of teenagers we all were.”

Startled, Harry laughed.


They were almost back, and the heat was making Harry sleepy. He yawned.

“I know you’re not bored, Potter, you have me for company.”

“No, I just didn’t get much sleep last night.”

“Late night, then? Up carousing?”

“I wasn’t, but everyone else was. Those dorm rooms by the bar are never quiet, but it’s all they had left.”

Draco looked at him for a moment. “You could rest in my cabin, I suppose. There’s an extra bed.”

“Oh – thanks, but – I don’t want to bother you.”

“I was just going to read somewhere outside, so it won’t trouble me. Anyway, Potter, you pulled me out of an inferno once, I imagine I can let you use the spare bed.”

“I wasn’t planning on calling in a Life Debt on it,” Harry answered, surprised that Malfoy had brought it up. “But a nap would be nice. Thanks.”

At the cabin Draco waved Harry in, pointed out the bathroom, grabbed a paperback book and left. Harry looked around. One bed had slightly rumpled sheets and a few things by the bedside stand, and the mosquito net was hanging down. Clearly Draco was sleeping there. On the other bed the sheets were crisp, the stand was empty, and the mosquito net was tied up in a bundle above it. Harry untied the net, kicked off his flip-flops, and put his glasses on the bedside stand. He hesitated a moment, then took off his khaki shorts and peeled off his sweaty T-shirt, and climbed into bed in just his pants. In the familiar tropical ritual, he lifted the mattress on all sides to tuck in the mosquito net until it spread above him like a gauzy tent, then lay back to sleep.

He was close to dropping off when he heard the whine of a mosquito close by. Secure in the knowledge that he was surrounded by net, he ignored it. Until he was bitten. Without his glasses, Harry couldn’t see the bug, but he knew one must’ve got into the net, and now he was trapped in there with it. Damn – the whining was louder, how many were in there? Only the night mosquitoes carried malaria, but there were other insect-borne diseases, too. While wizard blood offered protection against some diseases, like HIV, it gave no immunity to others. Besides, the itchiness of the bites was annoying.

He untucked the net enough to reach out for his glasses. When he could see clearly again, he groaned. The net had several tears and small holes, and one big gaping one. It was worse than useless. Back in England he could have used a Reparo, but in Africa he didn’t use magic. He’d come to get away from wizarding politics for a while, and he had no desire to run afoul of a witch-hunt here, where fear of magic was strong. He could get by like a Muggle again for a couple of years, if it was the price of a peaceful life.

All of his insect repellant was back up in his dorm room, and he was really sleepy. He looked over at the other bed. The net there had looked fine, and presumably Draco Malfoy would not have put up with a holey mosquito net. What would it hurt, really, if he just lay down there for a few minutes? He could get up before Malfoy came back.

He stumbled over to the other bed, and sat down. Just before he took his glasses off again, he noticed a pale hair on the blue pillowcase. It made him think of Polyjuice potion, and as he lay down and finished tucking the net around himself, he wondered vaguely what it would be like to look in the mirror and see pale straight hair, grey eyes, an angular aristocratic face. His mind’s eye filled in the rest of the lean body he’d seen emerge dripping from the lake that morning. He turned his head against the pillow, pulled the sheet over him, smelled a faint, indescribable but pleasant scent. He dropped off to sleep.

H bee and flower

He was swimming underwater, deep in the lake, breathing as easily as in air, while schools of gorgeous fish darted around him, striped and speckled, yellow and turquoise and orange and rose. There was a flash of brilliance ahead that he knew was the most beautiful fish of all, but he couldn’t quite see it clearly. He swam faster, trying to catch up to it, but it was elusive, dazzling, just out of reach. It would hover until he came close and then dart ahead.

Finally he was within reach – he stretched out a hand to touch its tail, and found he was grasping a human foot. The fish had turned into a young man, who spun about and turned towards him. Alarmed, he swam backwards, with the man in pursuit. The stranger reached out a hand to stroke his leg, then propelled himself backwards, beckoning. Hair swirled around his face, so Harry couldn’t see his eyes, but his smile looked teasing and playful.

“Oh, it’s a game,” Harry thought, and swam after him. He caught the man around his slim waist, pulling him close, wrapping his arms around him to keep him from wriggling away. They were both naked, their legs twining together as they spun easy and weightless in the water, laughing, floating up into brightness, the other man’s hands stroking up and down Harry’s backside, twisting into his hair, pulling him into a kiss. Their bodies now hungry for each other, they slid together in a rhythm that grew faster and more demanding, pressing and moving against each other with delirious urgency, his lover’s face pulling back for a moment to shake fine blond hair out of grey eyes before closing in again with a kiss of such sweet heat that it pulled a hot spurt of climax from Harry as he clung to this one human anchor in a bright whirling world.


Stunned with pleasure, Harry gradually drifted back to consciousness. His body felt heavy, as though he had honey in his veins, sweetly sluggish. His pants and the sheets were wet and sticky. He couldn’t move. There was a slight sound off to the side.

Harry forced his eyelids to flutter open. Blurrily he saw that he was in a strange bed, and that light sparkled off water somewhere outside the window. The lake. He was in Draco Malfoy’s bed, in a cabin by the lake. He had just come all over Draco Malfoy’s sheets, from a wet dream about Draco Malfoy. Draco Malfoy, who was doubtless that dark shape in the doorway that Harry could barely make out from the corner of his eye, who had doubtless made that small sound. And there was nothing Harry could do about it. He couldn’t even move his head. He shut his eyes again, and waited for the little noise of Draco leaving. He fell asleep.


When he woke the second time, he was alone and had energy to get up and wash. Then he swapped the cleaner sheets onto Draco’s bed. It was the best he could do. When he went outside he saw Draco sitting under a tree some ways off, not reading but staring at the water. Harry wandered over. “Sorry I used your bed,” he said, unable to look Malfoy in the face. “The other net was torn and I was too tired to do anything about it.” He waited for iciness, derision, scorn.

But Draco just kept his eyes on the lake and said, “Sorry – I didn’t think to check the net.” If it hadn’t been so unlikely, Harry would have thought he was blushing. But it must have been sunburn.

Harry had meant to excuse himself and leave, but he found himself staying, just looking at the lake. It wasn’t as if there was much else to do. After a while they began to talk again.

“So you never really answered - what are you doing here in Malawi, Potter?”

“I’ve been here a couple of years as a volunteer – I just have a few months to go on my assignment.”

“Which is doing what?”

“Um – I’m an English teacher.”

Malfoy choked. His eyes were dancing with laughter which he was unsuccessfully trying to disguise as a cough.

“Don’t hold back on my account,” Harry said sourly.

“Well, the job doesn’t exactly seem to play to your strengths.”

“You admit that I might have strengths?”

“No, I think you only defeated the evil maniac because you had the luck and gall to steal my wand when I was injured. Don’t fish, Boy Wonder. And don’t look like you half believe what I just said.”

Unsure how to take the compliment that was tangled amongst those insults, Harry responded lightly, “Bossy, aren’t you?”

“You have no idea. Much good it does with you, though. You’d make a rotten follower, Potter.”

“Thanks. Not much like Crabbe and Goyle, then,” Harry retorted and then could have kicked himself – he’d somehow forgotten Crabbe’s death in the Room of Requirement.

“No,” Malfoy agreed, brief and bleak. Crabbe had sneered at him and nearly killed them all, setting the Fiendfyre, but Malfoy had still mourned him afterwards. And he’d stayed with the stunned Goyle, at risk of his own life, until Harry, Ron and Hermione had rescued them on brooms. Maybe Malfoy had actually cared about his minions after all.

“How is Goyle, then?” Harry asked uncomfortably. Crabbe and Goyle had been goons, but inseparable. “Did he go to Europe like the other…” Death Eater kids “…Slytherins?”

“No – can you see Greg speaking French?” Draco smiled – fondly? “He ended up going to family in Australia. He’s playing Quidditch there as a Beater, I think. He sounded - not too bad considering. Thanks for asking. Back to you, though. How did you end up here being Professor Potter?”

Rather to his own surprise, Harry found himself describing how after Voldemort’s defeat, feeling at loose ends and weary of his unwanted celebrity, he had wanted to get away from British wizarding society, see something of the world, do something quietly useful. He had found a Muggle organization looking for overseas volunteers and requested to go to Africa. It had sounded interesting and he’d heard of the many children orphaned by AIDS. But his wizarding skills didn’t translate. He wasn’t much use at Muggle health care or agriculture. So they’d assigned him to be a teacher at a rural secondary school.

“There’s such a shortage of teachers in the rural schools – and of everything else. Sometimes there’s barely enough chalk to go around, never mind textbooks. And the students struggle because the classes are in English, which many of them don’t really understand very well. Luckily they’re pretty well behaved, and the other teachers are friendly. But I never really seem to know what I’m doing.”

“Maybe feeling that you know what you’re doing is over-rated,” Draco commented, to Harry’s surprise. “My father always seemed utterly confident,” he added somewhat bitterly, then looked thoughtful. “I imagine you’d be a good teacher of the right subject – that club of yours seemed quite effective. Too bad you can’t teach Defence against the Dark Arts or coach Quidditch or something.”

“No, Muggles here believe in magic – and they hate it all. It’s all dark, as far as they’re concerned, and they’ll blame just about anything on witchcraft. People have been killed for being suspected of witchcraft. I stay away from the subject as much as possible, because I like my neighbors so much otherwise. So as far as wizarding goes, I’m definitely not out.” Immediately Harry regretted the wording as Malfoy’s eyebrows went up.

“It’s an expression, it means…”

“I know what it means.” Draco held his eyes in a level gaze. “So you decided to lock yourself in, Harry? Taking lessons from your benighted Muggle relatives?”

Harry drew in a sharp breath. Suddenly he wasn’t even sure how many loaded topics they were discussing – being a wizard? Being gay? Being a neglected child locked in a cupboard under the stairs? And since when did Malfoy call him Harry?

“You said you don’t do magic here either, Malfoy.”

“Yes, but I’m passing through. You live here. Do you think it’s healthy to be hiding so much of who you are?”

“And you’re not hiding? It sounds like you do an awful lot of traveling - you’re always just passing through.”

“But I, unlike you, have a number of things to be ashamed of.”

“Well, maybe if you stayed put somewhere, you could make a fresh start – do something you could be proud of.”

“I thought I’d start small, and just try to do no harm.”

Harry gave a short laugh. “And you say you’re not ambitious.”

Draco stiffened. “I’m aware it may seem amusing to think a Malfoy could - ”

“No, that’s not what I mean – it would be ambitious for anyone – I could never manage it. Snape sure couldn’t, and he turned out to be a hero. Even Dumbledore couldn’t. It’s easier to do a little good than to do no harm, I think.”

“Mm.” Malfoy was looking at the lake again.

Harry looked too, and saw the small fishing boats coming in to shore as the sun sank lower at his back. If he crossed the lake eastward, he’d be in Mozambique; if he followed the shore as far north as it went, he’d reach Tanzania. But for now he was content to be here in Malawi, the “warm heart of Africa.” He hoped that his volunteer work at least somewhat repaid the welcome he’d received from the people of this poor but peaceful country.

A fish eagle soared over the lake.

Malfoy stirred. “Want to get dinner here at the restaurant?”

“Yeah, let’s go.”

H bee and flower

The food wasn’t bad, but the noise from the bar was as bad as ever. “Your room is here? How can you sleep?” Draco exclaimed.

“I can’t,” Harry replied.

“This is ridiculous. You can stay in my room, we can fix up that net somehow.”

“I – thanks.” Just because the quiet would be such a relief, Harry told himself as he followed Draco back again. He spent awhile bunching up and tying off the areas of net that had holes in them. When he had finished, the net was so shortened that it was a bit hard to tuck in around the spare bed, but he didn’t want to mention it. Feeling awkward, he decided the best thing would be just to go to bed. It was dark already, and Draco was reading by candlelight.

“I’m going to turn in. Thanks for letting me stay.”

“Alright. I’ll blow the candle out in a minute, I’ve almost finished the chapter.”

“Good night then.”

“Good night.”

Soon Draco put the book aside and there was darkness. Harry lay there willing himself to sleep, without success. His dream of the afternoon came back to him vividly. Here he was in the same room – between the same sheets, even – and there was Draco, just in the next bed. Why had he imagined he’d be able to relax here? Finally he couldn’t keep still any longer. He got up as quietly as he could, felt around for his glasses and flip-flops, and groped his way toward the door.

“Going somewhere?”

“I couldn’t sleep. I was just going out to look at the stars.”

Harry heard the scritch of a match as Draco re-lit the candle and left it burning on the bedside table, then followed Harry outside. There was the barest sliver of moon, and the sky blazed with stars, thousands of stars, warm and brilliant. “God, the southern skies are beautiful,” Draco breathed.

“I wouldn’t have figured you for a star-gazer, Malfoy.”

“I’m named for a constellation, Potter. Half of my mother’s family are named for heavenly bodies. The night sky is like a Black family genealogy.”

“I’d forgotten – you were on that tapestry.”

“Of the family tree? You’ve seen that, at the grim old place?”

“Sirius showed it to me. My godfather. But his name was burned out.”

“My mother’s cousin? Well, he hasn’t burned out up there,” said Draco.

Harry’s throat tightened thinking of the friend of his father’s youth, who’d tried to be both friend and father to Harry. Charming, arrogant, devoted, reckless. Handsome, grey-eyed Sirius Black. He hadn’t thought to look for him in the sky – astronomy hadn’t been one of Harry’s better subjects. He liked looking at the stars, but remembered only the most obvious constellations.

Draco pointed. “There’s your godfather. Sirius is the brightest star in the sky.”

The brightest star in the sky. Harry looked in the direction Draco had indicated and indeed, there was one star that shone whiter and brighter than the rest. Hello, Sirius, he thought, oddly comforted.

Draco was still talking. “His brother Regulus is a star in Leo somewhere. Andromeda is a constellation of her own – you can see her low on the horizon sometimes – she’s my mother’s sister. And Aunt Bellatrix, who unfortunately was the one I actually knew. She’s in Orion, not hard to find, but let’s not look for her.”

“When Bellatrix killed Sirius – she was killing her cousin.” It was still hard for Harry to fathom. Not that there was any love lost between Harry and his own cousin – but he couldn’t imagine himself and Dudley actually trying to kill each other.

“She was insane, frankly. But yes – family feud. And there’s nothing civil about a civil war.”

Malfoy’s voice, at the end, sounded subdued, bleak even. What had the war looked like from his side, to have changed him so much from the maliciously cocky child of privilege that he had once been? Through Harry’s memory flashed a quick succession of moments – Draco sobbing in a bathroom at the murderous task that was beyond him, trembling as he confronted Dumbledore, helpless as Voldemort turned his home into a torture chamber, choking with grief at the death of his friend Vince. Trapped by family allegiance and bad choices, desperate, terrified. His courage, it seemed, had come afterwards – to look clearly at the past, to try moving in a new direction.

Harry wanted to change the subject. He focused again on the dazzling night sky, looking for patterns. “I’d like to be able to find Andromeda, too. I haven’t seen her for a long time.”

“She’s near Pegasus – it’s a big square - and Perseus. But you can’t see her right now. How do you know my aunt Andromeda? I don’t really know her myself.”

“She’s Teddy’s grandmother.”


“Remus and Tonks’ kid. My godson.”

He half expected a comment about werewolves polluting the family blood, but Draco sounded, if anything, eager. “I have a little cousin, then? What’s he like?”

“Well, he was pretty small when I left. But he’s a Metamorphmagus like Tonks was, he can change the color of his hair.”

Draco laughed, sounding warm and amused. “I’d like to see that.”

Feeling unexpectedly comfortable with this starlit Draco, Harry waved an arm at the sky and asked, “Where are you, then? Up there, I mean?”

“Draco? Well, I’m kind of long and twisty and not that easy to pick out. And a confirmed northerner, I’m not sure you can see anything this far south. Maybe a pointy chin at the right time of year. But let’s see what else we can find.”

Harry turned, scanning the skies, but much was unfamiliar. He gestured to a spot that looked like someone had spilled a little heap of stardust there. “Do you know what that is?”

Draco came up to stand directly behind him. Startled, Harry moved slightly, and felt a light touch at his waist to keep him in place. Draco’s face was next to his, to look along Harry’s line of sight, his other hand on Harry’s shoulder. “Where?” Draco murmured, close enough that Harry could feel the puff of his breath.

Harry pointed again. “See that little smudge of light?” He turned his face slightly, inhaling that scent he had smelled on Draco’s pillow. He caught his breath and couldn’t help leaning back slightly against the chest behind him.

The hand at his waist moved to splay out over his abdomen and press him back firmly. He heard Draco’s breath catch. “There?” Draco whispered, turning his face toward Harry’s, so close.

“Mm-hmm,” Harry replied faintly, but neither of them was looking at the sky. He could just see the glisten of Draco’s eyes. Harry broke eye contact to look straight ahead for a moment, then tipped his head far back to stare at the dazzling river of the Milky Way. He felt warm breath on his neck. His knees felt a little weak suddenly, and he swayed. Draco’s other arm immediately wrapped around his chest.

“Are you alright?”

“Yes, just – tired I think,” Harry managed.

“Better get to bed then.” Draco loosened his arms, but took one of Harry’s hands and led him inside. They stopped inside the door, hesitating.

“I don’t think that net’s safe,” Draco said, breath coming a little quickly. “You’d better come under mine.”

“Do you think - there’s room?”

“Oh yes. Give me your glasses.”

Harry handed them over, slid out of his flip-flops and climbed into Draco’s bed, still wearing his boxers and T-shirt. He lay stretched out on his back, legs straight and arms at his sides, on the far side of the bed. Draco set Harry’s glasses on the little table, sat on the bed to take off his sandals, then pulled his legs up onto the bed. He frowned over toward Harry’s side of the bed. “Net’s come untucked there.” Draco leaned across him to tuck in the mosquito net, sending a jolt of desire through Harry. Still hovering above him, Draco again asked in a low voice, “Are you alright?”

“Yeah,” breathed Harry, looking up at Draco backlit by candlelight, wanting nothing more than to reach up and pull that warm body down to him. But this was Draco Malfoy, who had been his enemy so long. Who was now, at best, unknown. Who was passing through this place just long enough to be confusing. If – if something happened, well then it did, but no one was going to say he started it. In the dark, if they didn’t talk, afterward it could be like nothing had happened at all.

Draco had turned back to blow out the candle, then tuck in the net on his side, where the opening was. Then he lay down. In the dark, Harry just heard their breaths and the rustle of sheets when one of them moved. He turned onto his stomach, facing away, hoping that would help him sleep. His foot brushed Malfoy’s.

“Oh,” said Draco. “I forgot to get you the other pillow.”

“’It’s okay.”

“Here.” Draco pushed the pillow to the center of the bed, between them. Harry lifted his head to rest on the pillow next to Draco’s, turning to face him. The spot on the pillow was warm.

In the narrow space, the slightest restless stirring made a foot brush a calf, a hand brush a thigh. At first they stilled at these small contacts, but when neither pulled away, their touches began to linger, turn into strokes. Their bodies slid closer to the center of the small bed. Harry heard Draco start to say something, but shushed him, skating a hand across his body until his fingers found and pressed against Draco’s mouth. Warm lips pressed back, and a hand landed lightly on his hip. So a conversation began without words, halting at first but gaining fluency, a language of hands and limbs and mouths and tongues and breath.

In the darkness they bumped and fumbled, but it didn’t matter. All Harry could hear was their quickening breathing and the blood pounding in his ears. This could be anyone, Harry tried to tell himself. He traced his fingers lightly over a sharp cheekbone, pulled a T-shirt off over a head of fine silky hair, ran his hands over a smooth back and a chest marked by a thin line of scar tissue. Anyone, he insisted, leaning his head into a surprisingly tender kiss, hooking a leg around narrow hips, rocking against another body in the dark. But it was the scent of – Draco – flavoring the rising smell of sex, the taste of Draco’s mouth and salt of his sweat on Harry’s tongue. Harry’s skin sang, his body electric with touch. Anyone. He knew he was lying.


The next morning Harry drifted awake with a warm sense of well-being, gradually becoming aware that he was wrapped in the arms of someone fair-haired, pale, male and asleep. Of Draco Malfoy, in fact. Oh – now what? Harry shifted experimentally and heard an enquiring but incomprehensible murmur against his shoulder. Draco Malfoy makes funny little noises in his sleep, he thought wonderingly. Pretending last night had never happened was going to be tricky, especially since he was now being held even more snugly.

Suddenly Malfoy’s body tensed. Harry quickly closed his eyes and feigned sleep. He felt Malfoy slip out of the bed. When he heard the sound of the shower, he jumped up and pulled on his clothes. When Draco emerged from the shower, already dressed, he looked a little pink in the face as he wished Harry good morning. “Here, let me get you a towel,” he added. “You’ll want a shower. Um - did you sleep all right?”

“Very well, thanks,” Harry replied, inwardly rejoicing that apparently they didn’t have to talk about it. Rashly, cheekily, he added “…eventually.”

A smile gleamed in Malfoy’s eyes. “Good. Want to get breakfast and go snorkeling?”


They ate, snorkeled – it was true, the fish were beautiful – talked, ate, walked, talked.

“So what will you do when you go back?”

“I don’t know,” Harry answered. He’d thought he might find some answers to life overseas, but it seemed he was as uncertain as ever. “Keep bees?” he said at random. If the volunteer workshops were to be believed, it was a good Income Generating Activity. But mostly he was remembering the wild sweetness of the fresh honeycomb he’d bought a month ago, from a man selling it out of a metal box strapped to the back of his bicycle.

“Mmm. I’d like apple orchards and rosebushes, myself.”

“You can’t tell me Malfoy Manor doesn’t have rosebushes.”

“I suppose it still does. I don’t know, really. It isn’t Malfoy Manor anymore, though.”

“What do you mean?” Harry couldn’t imagine the Malfoys selling their ancestral estate.

“The Ministry took it over, after – well, they let my mother stay there until…. It was too big for one person anyway.”

He sounds as inarticulate as I usually do, Harry thought. “What are you saying? What happened?”

“You didn’t hear? Well, my father – didn’t do well going back to Azkaban, you know, he was - broken. My mother was trying to appeal his sentence, but I knew that wouldn’t work, and I was angry with him for - turning our whole lives over to the Dark – madman. And, and then my father got sick in prison and – died, and I hadn’t…. Well, and then we didn’t do much of anything because we didn’t know what to do, and then my mother was sick and I tried to take care of her – but she – now she’s gone too. And then I didn’t know what to do because it didn’t seem to matter. And then they took the house. So I left.”

Draco was looking bleakly out over the water. Harry was at a loss. “I’m sorry about your mother,” he said finally, deciding to avoid the topic of Lucius Malfoy entirely.
Harry had a sudden vivid memory of Narcissa Malfoy bending over him in the Forbidden Forest where he waited for discovery and death, the long pale fall of her silky hair shielding his face as she whispered to him, asking after her son. “She was brave. She lied to Voldemort to protect you. And that saved my life too.”

Draco looked back over his shoulder at Harry and tried to smile, before turning away again as a wave of grief swept over his face, twisting his mouth and casting his eyes adrift. It was a long moment before he turned again to look at Harry. Another moment before Harry noticed that his own hand had somehow moved to touch Malfoy’s hair. And another moment before he let his hand fall.

H bee and flower

They went to the bar together that evening. It was full of volunteers on vacation and backpackers. They drank and listened to the eclectic mix of music that had found its way to this small bar on a lake in the middle of Africa. Harry, pleasantly buzzed, found himself gazing at Draco, wanting a reason to touch him. “Dance with me,” he said.

“This is a slow song, Potter.” Draco tilted his head. “Are you even listening to the words?”

He hadn’t been, actually – Harry really never danced and it hadn’t occurred to him that the music mattered much. He tuned in and heard the singer crooning “You are my African Queen.” Embarrassed, he looked at Draco, who was trying not to laugh.

Mercifully, the song changed. The new music was encouraging. “You can get it if you really want,” Jimmy Cliff was chanting. “You can get it if you really want.”

He did really want. He did. He pulled Draco onto the dance floor.

“But you must try, try and try, try and tryyyy,” Jimmy urged him. “You’ll succeed at last.” He wrapped his arms around Draco’s waist.

Draco was saying something he couldn’t quite hear. It looked like he was saying something about “indiscreet”, “drunk”, and “dear”, but that last one couldn’t have been right.

The song changed again, disco beat pulsing out at them. “What did you say?” Harry shouted.

Draco pressed his mouth to Harry’s ear and sang along into it. “Young man, there’s a place you can go, I said, young man….”

Harry was distracted by a group of happily inebriated Peace Corps Volunteers climbing onto the bar to spell letters out with their bodies. “Y.M.C.A.,” they chorused as Draco pulled Harry out the door.

“You’re taking me to the Y.M.C.A.?” Harry laughed.

“Yon Malfoy’s Cabin.”

“The A, what’s the A?”

Draco’s hips twitched.

“Arse? Young Malfoy’s Cute Arse?”

“A, Potter, is for Ask and ye shall receive.”

Harry willingly followed that promise down the path in the night.

H bee and flower

end of part 1; continue to part 2


khalulu, kanji

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