Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or anything else affiliated to him, and I make no profit from these stories. (And do I really have to repeat this? It should be obvious I'm flat broke!)
Hi! And welcome to my latest epic (meaning, my latest 'why is everything I write so long?' story). If you're wondering where this is going… I've got it in mind that Draco is a highly educated, intelligent young man with all the 'worldly' knowledge of a peanut, while Harry has had so many negative experiences, that he tends to always think the worst. There will be little to no magic in this story (so very much an AU), and I doubt there will be too many other characters turning up. As always, I know exactly how this is going to end, but it'll be quite the voyage getting to that point. Ships and slavery are really only the backdrops, and this story will focus almost exclusively on Harry and Draco coming to terms with their unlikely relationship (and I know about as much about ships as I do about proper homonym usage, so expect a few errors in both these areas – I'll strive to keep them to a minimum). This story is going for melodrama and fluff, not dark and angsty, despite some of the themes. I think that's enough babble, don't you? I'd rather people babbled to me anyway: I'm not really sure what the reaction will be to this story, so feedback is crucial. Enjoy!
These struggling tides of life that seem
In wayward, aimless course to tend
Are eddies of the mighty stream
That rolls to its appointed end
- William Cullen Bryant (1843)
The sky was an endless stretch of black, broken randomly by tiny flickers of purest white. Such a flawless black, like polished ebony, or the expensive inks from the southern islands, that somehow remained constant and stable though it was not really composed of anything at all. Maybe, in actuality, the night sky was like the sea. From far away, the ocean was deceptively flat and smooth. Up close, the sea was an endlessly shifting mass of textures and colours: deep calm blues, rolling waves of indigo, warm shallows of turquoise and soft green, and startling spumes of white where the water churned. Perhaps the night sky was a similar composition of hues and movements, unobservable from this distance. Sharp obsidian lines and swirls of sooty charcoal, pools of navy and evanescent wisps of magenta, painting their way across the sky.
The ship swayed slightly in the cool breeze, and water lapped gently against the sides of the boat. A fluttering sail briefly obstructed the view of the sky, and Draco Malfoy's admittedly maudlin thoughts came to an end. Sitting up, Draco rubbed at his stiff neck, and considered whether it was worth the effort of going to his room and collecting his equipment. The night was clear, true enough, and perfect for star gazing, but he was finding it difficult to concentrate. A good night's sleep might be of more benefit. Decision made, Draco was just climbing down from his vantage point, when he was hailed.
" Master Draco? The captain has sent for you," said one of the crewmen. Draco supposed that after being on board for nearly six months that he ought to know the man's name, but he didn't. Shrugging it off he nodded at the man, and headed for his father's cabin.
The captain's cabin was large and elegant, filled with every comfort imaginable. Draco often thought that the room was overly pretentious, but even he could admit to being envious of it from time to time. Draco's own cabin was much better than the regular crew quarters, though it still lacked many of the amenities that were so casually on display here. His hand drifted briefly over the spines of the leather books on his father's bookshelf reverently, before he turned his attention to the task at hand.
" Father, you wished to speak with me?"
Lucius Malfoy was at his desk, busily writing. Draco waited patiently while his father finished the page he was working on. Only when the paper was rolled and sealed with wax, did his father deign to notice him.
" Draco, I haven't disrupted you I trust?"
" No, father. I was just on my way to my cabin," Draco said.
His father nodded, not really listening. " I need your skills. There's something wrong with the slave."
Lucius stood up and strode across the wooden floor confidently. He pushed aside a heavy velvet curtain that separated the sleeping area from the main portion of the room, and pointed to one darkened corner. A figure was curled up on the floor, wedged between two fastened down pieces of oak furniture. Even in the gloom, Draco could see that the slave was trembling.
" I wasn't aware you even had a slave. You always said you preferred your privacy," Draco asked, puzzled. He approached the slave slowly, tugging the curtains back farther to get a better view. He wrinkled his nose in distaste – the slave was filthy and smelled unpleasantly of unwashed skin and sickness.
Lucius shrugged, " He was part of the last trade agreement we made. I would have preferred hard coin of course, but these things happen. I thought it might be convenient to have a slave, but he's been ill since arrival, and consequently of little use to me. I can't abide being near weak and sickly things," Lucius said, with a grimace of revulsion.
Draco knelt by the slave and nudged the shaking shoulder. The slave groaned softly before slowly uncoiling. Draco helped the slave to sit up and looked him over. The ill slave was a young man, probably close to Draco's age of twenty, with the thin, fragile build of slaves the world over. His long shaggy hair appeared to be black, but was covered in so much dust and dirt, that it was difficult to ascertain. The skin that was visible was pale gold in colour, and would probably darken to smooth bronze if he were ever allowed out into the sunshine. At the moment, the skin was sticky with sweat, and the small lips on his face were blistered. Dark eyelashes fluttered open briefly, and Draco gave a surprised gasp as he was suddenly staring into vivid, deep, sea green eyes.
The green orbs observed him briefly for a moment, before glazing over and falling closed again, as the slave took in another laboured breath. Draco ran a cursory hand over the slave's forehead, knowing already that he would find it overly warm. As his fingers pushed the slave's hair back, he revealed a lightning shaped scar on the slave's forehead. The scar was obviously old, and he wondered briefly if it was a former owner's claim mark. Draco next placed his hand over the man's chest and felt a steady heartbeat, and then ran his hands down the slave's body, searching for injuries. The slave's skin was clammy, and bruises were numerous. Nothing, however, appeared to be broken beyond repair.
" He needs rest, food, and some warm clothes. He otherwise appears fit for work. Where does he come from? I would have hypothesized he came from one of the warmer climates, but his eyes… I've never seen eyes such as those."
" He's a mongrel, Draco. Nothing but mixed blood in his veins, which is why he's here, serving us."
Draco nodded, having heard words of a similar nature his entire life, first from his father, and later from his professors at boarding school. Draco knew he was a member of high-society; a position he took for granted, and rarely, if ever, thought about. It was just the way things were. He was fortunate to have had money enough to go to some of the best schools in the world, and now he was free to pursue his interest in astronomy. Aboard his father's ship, he spent much of his time mapping the stars and the ship's progress across the seas. It was his goal to create the most detailed and accurate maps that the world had ever known.
Draco's extensive education also made him something of a ship's doctor – whenever there was a health complaint onboard, he was expected to take care of it. His doctoring responsibilities and his mapping talents were how he earned his keep; Lucius didn't abide idle hands aboard his ship, even in relation to his only son. Draco was well supplied with herbs and potion making equipment to facilitate his healing endeavours, but usually he dealt with little more than ingrown toenails and toothaches. Fortunately, the slave's condition was nothing he couldn't handle.
" Make sure he gets plenty of fresh water, as much as he can drink, and you might consider having someone take him up on deck for some fresh air."
" Have you lost all sense? He won't be remaining here. Take him with you and fix him up, so that we can sell him at the next port." Lucius returned to his desk chair, and pulled out another sheaf of papers. " Actually… You've been complaining for months that you need an assistant. If you'd like, you can keep him for yourself."
" Keep him? What on earth for? An assistant, yes, but a slave? Does he even speak our language?"
" I don't believe he does, come to think of it, but consider that now you can train him from scratch. He's a blank slate; you can mould him into anything you require."
" That could take months, years even. I'd have to teach him our language, then how to read and write, some rudimentary mathematics… and after that he'll still be of only marginal use," Draco complained.
" You have nothing but time aboard my ship, Draco; you might actually enjoy having such a challenge to keep you occupied and if it doesn't work out to your satisfaction you have my permission to sell him. If he's educated, he'll garner a larger profit as well. Consider the slave a long overdue graduation gift, yes?"
Draco's jaw clenched, but he knew his father well enough by now to know that his father was rapidly running out of patience.
" Very well. Thank you for the gift father," Draco said coolly. If his father noticed his tone, then he didn't comment on it.
Draco prodded at the slave again, and watched as those strange eyes fluttered open. He indicated the door, and helped the slave rise to his feet by gripping tightly to his forearm. The slave wavered a bit, as though drunk, but soon he was able to stand on his own. Draco was disconcerted to discover that the slave was only slightly smaller than him. Supposing that once the slave recovered his strength, he decided to try and escape? Draco had never kept a slave before, and he wasn't too sure what he was expected to do to keep a slave meek and obedient. He really did not like the idea of inflicting punishments.
The slave was currently studying the floor and trembling, so Draco decided he would face the problem of the proper slave and master relationship at a later date. For now the slave was no threat. In fact, because the slave didn't understand their language, Draco felt as though he was in charge of an animal, rather than a human being.
" Come on," he said to the slave, knowing full well he wouldn't be understood. The slave took a few steps in Draco's direction, and then looked at Lucius. Lucius was observing the events taking place with an amused half-smile on his face. He was clearly waiting for Draco to take some sort of action.
Draco approached the slave, and pointed at Lucius. " You don't belong to him, no." Draco pointed at himself; " You're mine now."
The slave nodded slowly, and when Draco left the room, the slave followed obediently behind him. It was chilly outside of the captain's cabin, and Draco hurried his steps down the passages to his cabin, eager to get back to where it was warm. Once inside his own room, he added a generous amount of coal to the large brazier that swung on a hook from a ceiling beam. Even though the room was small, it would take some time for the heat to spread. This made him think of the slave, and he turned to consider his 'property'. The slave looked cold and pathetic, and Draco sighed. So far, this slave had been nothing but trouble.
" Do you have a name?" Draco asked. He couldn't really go on calling this person 'slave' if he was going to teach him to become his assistant. The slave turned instinctively towards the voice, but said nothing. Draco indicated himself, and clearly enunciated, " Draco." He then gestured at the slave, a questioning look upon his face.
Dawning understanding, followed by a brief pause, and then the slave replied blandly: " Harry."
Harry wondered if under normal circumstances he would have answered the question with a lie. Being thrust into a new situation like this, with new owners and a new language to acquire was bad enough without having his wits addled by fever. He had already messed up the cardinal rule of slaves everywhere, which was to be as invisible as possible and hope you were forgotten. The illness, which he must of picked up while in the holding pen, was making him feel more than a little vulnerable. It didn't help that he couldn't figure out what his new owner wanted. Harry had never been on a ship before, what possible use could he be? And if he couldn't earn his keep, how long until he was sold again? New masters were always something to be feared; having no knowledge of the rules didn't mean you couldn't be punished for breaking them.
" Harry," Draco repeated, trying the syllables out on his tongue. It was no name he had ever heard before, but that was hardly surprising. Draco went over to a large chest that was bolted to the floor, and opened it. He selected several items of clothing, all of them well used, but clean and of good quality. The pile of clothes was thrust at Harry, who understood what was wanted and began to undress. Draco's face flamed hotly and he immediately turned around to give Harry some privacy. Obviously modesty was something slaves learned quickly to do without.
After a few moments, Draco risked turning around, and was relieved to find Harry fully clothed once more. Harry gestured at the filthy rags he had previously been wearing, and asked a question. Draco didn't need to know the language to understand. He gathered the clothes into a ball, and threw them out the one window. After firmly shutting the tiny window again, Draco summoned a galley worker by way of a bell, and asked that a meal for two be brought to his room.
" Sit down, Harry," Draco said, pushing Harry into a wooden chair by the table that was fastened to the wall. Harry sat dozing until the meal arrived, and then he stared longingly as a tray of hot food was placed before him. Draco divided the simple meal into two, giving Harry more than he gave himself. " Eat," Draco said, pressing a fork into Harry's hand when Harry hesitated. Soon hunger won out, and Harry began eating frantically. Draco put a restraining hand on Harry's arm; " Slowly, it's not going anywhere. You'll get sick if you eat too fast."
Harry did slow down, but only a little. Soon the meal was finished, and Harry was struggling not to fall asleep in his chair. Draco stacked the dishes somewhere out of the way, and went about preparing a place for Harry to sleep. A hammock was his first idea, but he soon dismissed it, as he doubted that Harry was in good enough condition. So he stacked up some old clothes in a corner between the end of his berth, and the large chest, and took a blanket from off his bed.
" You'll sleep here," Draco said, guiding Harry to the impromptu sleeping corner. Harry looked at the place that was obviously going to be his home from now on and decided it was better than quite a few other places he had been made to sleep. He did wish it wasn't so cold in the room, but it was possibly not as chilly as fever would have him believe. A thin, wool blanket was handed to him, and he took it, surprised at the thoughtfulness. Harry wrapped the blanket around him, and tucked himself into the corner. Sleep claimed him almost immediately and put an end to his troublesome thoughts.
Draco blew out the few candles that he had lit, and double-checked that the coals in the brazier were still glowing red, before clambering into his own bed. His berth was built into the corner, and he was protected from rolling out of it during rough seas due to its high sides. On the inside, the four sides were covered in dark green, padded velvet, and it always seemed like he was climbing into a nest when he got into bed. Draco removed his outer clothes from under the safety of his blankets, before curling down into the thick mattress of soft goose-feather. He listened to Harry's breathing and it lulled him into sleep.
It was still not yet morning when Draco awoke. The room was frigidly cold, and Draco rubbed his chilled hands together, trying to get them warm. He climbed from his bed, wincing as his wool-covered feet met the icy floorboards, and added more fresh coal to the brazier. Draco lit a candle and checked on Harry, who was awake and clearly just as cold as Draco was, if not more so.
" Come here," Draco beckoned.
Harry, his teeth chattering, climbed shakily to his feet. Draco climbed into his bed, and again gestured for Harry to come closer. The intention was obvious when Draco lifted the blankets and made room on the mattress, but despite the promise of warmth and comfort, Harry balked. Harry was far from being a virgin; the loss of innocence had come early and brutally from a previous master. It was only years later that Harry had discovered the act could actually be pleasurable, and amongst his fellow slaves, sometimes a shared night was all that got any of them through the day. Still, it did not mean he was amenable to the idea of climbing into bed with his new master and taking on the duties of a whore. If he was to be given a choice, that is, which apparently he wasn't; he was already being pulled into the bed, and the heavy bed covers were thrown over him.
It could have been worse, Harry supposed, resigning himself to his fate. On an unfamiliar ship, in the middle of the ocean, without even another slave to commiserate with, there wasn't much point in rebelling. His master, this Draco, was quite attractive, with the pale skin and hair so unlike Harry's own. It wouldn't be such a hardship to be this man's lover, though the idea still rankled somewhere deep in his soul where pride had refused to be completely extinguished.
" Well, I've already messed things up, haven't I? I highly doubt that a night spent on a draughty and damp floor has improved that fever of yours any. Sorry, I should have been more considerate but I've never had a slave before. I haven't been around anyone at all for very long, to tell you the truth. I'm still figuring things out."
The voice was nice too: velvety and smooth, even when it was whispering. It soothed Harry, and Harry started to imagine all the things Draco could be saying. Promises of being gentle, maybe, that would be nice.
Draco brushed the hair from Harry's face, and checked for fever. Despite the fact that most of Harry's body was shaking with cold, Harry's face was warm and moist to the touch. Draco ran his other hand down the front of Harry's chest and felt for a heartbeat, reassured when he found it beating normally. Draco damn near bit through his tongue when Harry reached out and fingered the soft flesh between Draco's legs. Harry rubbed his hand somewhat roughly, back and forth, the expression in the green eyes completely devoid of any emotion. It only took a moment for Draco to get over his shock sufficiently to stop Harry's hand from its scandalous task. Rather sharply, Draco commanded, " No."
Harry cocked his head to the side, momentarily puzzled. Was he doing it wrong? Did these people have different methods? He questioned, " No?" Harry tried to put his hand back, but Draco was ready and covered Harry's hand with his own.
Draco shook his head, and repeated his 'no' a little more forcefully.
How utterly disturbing it was for Harry to have forced himself into accepting this intimate encounter, only to be rebuffed. As Harry pondered this new development, he began lightly caressing Draco's hand. He felt rather than saw Draco's breathing start to increase. There was a telltale flush to his master's skin, and Harry felt confident that were he to touch Draco intimately once more, he would find him growing hard with arousal. But Draco had pushed him away… He had been genuinely uncomfortable and surprised by Harry's actions. Maybe it was meant to be the other way around, with Harry doing nothing, and Draco being in control of any touching?
Harry slowly pulled Draco's hand toward his own groin, watching for signs that this what Draco wanted.
" No, Harry, no," Draco said, shaking his head and pulling his hand back. " No touching, just sleeping." Draco mimicked going to sleep by tucking his hands under his head, and closing his eyes for a moment. Draco was rapidly losing his patience, even though he knew it really wasn't Harry's fault that he didn't understand. All Draco wanted was to go back to sleep, and he was getting cranky with every moment Harry kept him awake. The whole situation was positively embarrassing.
" Sleep," Draco demanded, and he repeated the gestures he had made before.
" Sleep?" Harry said awkwardly, copying Draco's movements.
" Yes, that's right," Draco said.
Harry closed his eyes nervously, wondering if this was some kind of test that he had already failed. He could read well enough the irritation that was growing in Draco's voice, and even though he was completely humiliated (and fearful of punishment) for having totally misread the situation, he couldn't help wondering if maybe Draco was even more confused as to what he wanted.
In the morning, Draco awoke late, and was loathing leaving his warm bed for the chilly environs of his cabin. Still, judging by the angle of the sun through the one window, it was well past midday, and time for Draco to rise. Draco was accustomed to sleeping late since he spent many nights studying the stars instead of sleeping.
Harry was curled into a tight ball at the bottom of the bed, practically in danger of being smothered by the blankets he had pulled over his head. Draco tried to ease past him, but Harry awoke, and his eyes widened in sudden fear. Before Draco could say anything, Harry was kneeling by the bed, his head and eyes lowered to Draco's feet.
Draco gripped Harry's chin, and tilted Harry's face upwards.
" Normally, if I was awake, I'd expect you to be as well, but until you're well, you don't have any duties," Draco explained. The blank but still trembling look Harry gave him made Draco sigh. With a lot of prodding, Draco finally got Harry back into bed, and tucked the multitude of blankets around him.
" You're sick, I want you to sleep," Draco said sternly.
" Sleep?" Harry asked, and tucked his hands under his head, and closed his eyes, just as they had during the night.
Draco was surprised but quite pleased that Harry had remembered the word; it boded well that Harry seemed to be a quick learner.
" Yes, Harry, I want you to sleep," Draco said. Harry still looked bewildered by the request, but did as he was told.
Draco made sure Harry's eyes were good and shut before he changed his clothes, and prepared for the day. There were many things that needed to be taken care of. First, he had to see that Harry received a proper washing. The new clothes had helped a little, but Harry still smelled. Draco was known to be rather fastidious, was even teased by most of the crew (though never to his face) for his constant adherence to cleanliness. If Harry was going to be sharing his quarters, then Harry was going to be as clean as the rest of Draco's possessions. Draco made a mental note to change and wash the bed-sheets they had slept on, as well.
Draco decided he would let Harry recover today, and tomorrow he would see about getting Harry accustomed to his chores. Draco allowed himself the luxury of imagining what it would be like when Harry was fully trained and able to take care of the mundane tasks that Draco found so tiresome. Of course, this happy event was long in the future. Before any of that, Draco would have to teach Harry the language, and even if Harry was particularly bright, it could still take a lot of time. Draco himself spoke three languages, but he didn't understand Harry's native tongue, more is the pity. Following that, Harry would need to be taught to read and write. Actually, the more Draco thought about it, the more interested he became. Perhaps his father was right, and teaching Harry would prove entertaining.
First thing he would teach Harry was some respect for personal boundaries. Nobody had ever had the temerity to be so free with his person before, and the sexual nature of the touches last night was greatly upsetting. Oh yes, Draco Malfoy knew about sex; the monks at one of his various boarding schools had been rather verbose about the sins of the flesh. Imagine, a lowly slave having the audacity… Draco could feel his temper rising again, and quashed it down swiftly. Harry was a slave; as such it was only to be expected that he be uncouth and ignorant. It was Draco's duty to see that he changed all of that. Draco breathed a little easier now that he had re-established, in his mind, their roles; he was master, Harry was nobody.
" Up," Draco said, shaking Harry brusquely. The dented copper tub had been brought into the room as requested, and was steaming in the cool room. Draco looked at it longingly, thinking how heavenly it would feel to be warm right to the bone, but there was no way he was letting Harry go another moment without bathing. " Come on, get in."
Harry was still feeling dozy and absolutely every one of his muscles had cramped up while he'd been sleeping. He took one look at the bathtub and felt completely bewildered. Rough scrub downs with saltwater, yes; soaks in warm scented water, no. Draco pointed imperiously at the tub again, and Harry shrugged, and started pulling off his clothes. If Draco wanted to spoil him, who was he to argue?
Once again, Draco found himself blushing and turning away as Harry's body was revealed. He knew that it shouldn't matter, this was no different then washing a favoured pet, but the glimpses of skin made Draco feel things he wasn't sure he was supposed to feel. He squared his shoulders, and turned. Harry was sitting with his knees close to his bare chest, obviously enjoying the warm water. Draco was marvelling at the amount of dirt sluicing off of Harry's body. It didn't seem possible anyone could possibly be so dirty, but there was the proof.
Draco fetched a pitcher and a cake of lavender scented soap, and approached the tub cautiously. He studiously kept his eyes above and to the left of Harry's head, and consequently tripped over an uneven floorboard, and plummeted forward. His right arm went into the tub, right up to the shoulder, and his nose smashed into Harry's shoulder. Harry was pushed back against the tub, which sent a deluge of water over the edge and onto the floor. Draco tried to stand, but slipped on the pooling water, and went down again. It was only quick reflexes that kept Draco from hitting his head on the edge; Harry somehow managed to twist and catch Draco under the armpits before things got worse. Draco still ended up halfway into the tub, his legs dangling over the edge, a stunned expression on his face. Harry was equally shocked, and he remained perfectly still, waiting for Draco to move.
In his arms, Draco started to shake and tremble, and Harry was worried until Draco started laughing. Harry felt a smile pulling at his lips, and then there was a tickle in his throat. Even when Draco managed to get to his feet, he was still laughing, and he didn't seem to mind when Harry joined in. Eventually, Draco calmed and he wiped ineffectually at his sodden clothes.
" Well, so much for me trying to impress you," Draco muttered, as he went to get changed into dry clothes. Harry watched Draco curiously as he moved about the room. Draco reached for the ties on his shirt, before feeling the weight of Harry's gaze. He placed his arms protectively over his chest, saying crossly: " Close your eyes."
Harry raised an eyebrow, and Draco mimicked putting hands over his eyes. Harry quickly did as requested, but peeked through his fingers when Draco's back was turned. Harry didn't know why Draco was so insistent about his privacy; Draco was slim, toned, and didn't have any disfiguring scars or strange growths. In fact, he was quite pleasing to look at, Harry thought. Harry wasn't intending to take more than a glance, but when the pants were dropped, he couldn't resist a look at Draco's backside.
Harry just barely managed to duck his head down when Draco finished dressing and turned around.
" Let's try this again, shall we? I think by now you've grasped that I've never had a slave before. I keep making mistakes, and I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be your friend, or if it's better to lay down the rules straight away. Not that you're going to be particularly threatened by me seeing as how now you know I can't traverse a perfectly flat floor without incident. And certainly you must be thinking, he sure does ramble a lot, but I usually don't. I'm not very talkative in general, I think because of how I grew up, but then again, I don't often have someone to talk to. Especially not someone who listens as well as you do, and never interrupts. Oh, and since you can't understand me anyway, I think you have positively lovely eyes."
Harry tilted his head to the side and blinked.
Draco grinned; " Maybe I won't bother teaching you the language." He gathered the pitcher from the floor where he'd dropped it. Fortunately it was made of metal, and other than being embossed with a new dent, it was still functional.
Harry was beginning to realize that his new master changed moods as often as he changed clothes. Hopefully, this cheerfully talkative mood would last for a while. Harry was fairly good at picking up languages, which was hardly surprising given the number of places he had been to during his life. The longer Draco talked, the easier it would be for Harry to learn.
Harry watched Draco dip the pitcher in the rapidly cooling water, and fill it. Instinctively, Harry tipped his head forward, and Draco poured the contents over his hair. The action was repeated a second time, and then Draco retrieved the bar of soap that was bubbling gently on the floor. Long fingers threaded through his dark, heavy hair, and worked gently at removing a lifetime of grime. It felt surprisingly good, and Harry relaxed under Draco's hands; it became a struggle just to stay awake.
" So it is black," Draco said softly. " I'm going to have to cut it, some of these snarls just aren't worth detangling."
With a sharp razor, Draco cut out a few of the more prominent knots in the thick hair. He supposed he could ask that someone shave Harry's head completely, but the idea didn't appeal to Draco, so he worked diligently with the small razor, and one of his combs.
" There, that's about as good as it's going to get," Draco said, dumping a final jug of water over Harry's head. Draco brushed the heap of shiny, slick strands towards the back of Harry's head, and secured them with a leather tie at the nape of the neck. He then handed the soap and a spare rag to Harry.
" Wash your face, and the rest of you," Draco said, making the appropriate gestures.
Harry lathered up the soap, and rubbed it over his face, feeling the beginnings of stubble on his chin. He wondered if Draco would let him borrow the razor so that he could shave. As though anticipating the request, Draco offered the thin blade, and Harry carefully skimmed away the few errant hairs. He was once again grateful that he didn't need to shave regularly.
" Face," Harry said, repeating the word and committing it to memory.
" That's right, face," Draco said, retrieving the razor so Harry could continue bathing.
" Face, no, sleep, Draco," Harry said, listing all the words he knew.
Draco laughed, " Very good. Want to try a few more?"
They spent the remaining time while Harry washed, with Draco pointing to things in the cabin, stating the names of them clearly, and then having Harry repeat them back to him. Harry was an eager student, but his recent illness was rapidly catching up with him, and he could feel his eyelids becoming heavier.
" I think that's enough for today," Draco said, seeing Harry start to slump down in the tub. He handed Harry a cloth to dry himself with, and then left the cabin so that Harry could get dried and dressed in privacy. When Draco returned, a crewman carrying a tray of food accompanied him, and he made Harry swallow some thick broth and softened bread, before he let him sleep some more.
While Harry slept, once again nestled into the box-like berth, Draco set up his desk, and retrieved some of the maps he was currently working on. There were calculations to be made, lines to be drawn, and generally a lot of work to be done, and the time passed quickly and peacefully as Draco fell into the routine of what he enjoyed doing most.
Harry awoke some time in the evening and at first he was confused as to where he was. Gradually, his mind filled in the gaps to his memory, and he lifted himself into a sitting position and peered over the edge of the bed. Draco sat with his back to Harry, working quietly with a quill and ink. A lantern was hanging from the ceiling giving Draco light enough to work-by, and from the shadows, Harry watched him silently for a while. Soon, Harry's thoughts turned inwards, and he pressed himself to the mattress, wondering where his life was headed this time.
This was his seventh master? His eighth? He wasn't too sure, just as he wasn't entirely certain of his age. Sixteen summers, at least, but probably more. He rubbed at the scar on his forehead, as he tried to remember. There had been the elderly, blind slave woman who had looked after him when he was too young to survive on his own, but he had been sold from that family as soon as he was walking on his own. Then he had worked in the kitchens of some well to do family, before he had been put on chimney sweep detail… Stable boy, cabin boy, farm hand; the list was endless. Of course, he had tried to run-away a few times, but only when his situation had become intolerable. He had always been caught and punished. Still, Harry couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to be truly free.
Harry heard the sound of rustling paper, and shut his eyes tightly, feigning sleep. Draco soon came over to the bed, dressed for sleep, and Harry kept himself out of the way as much as possible. Draco didn't move to touch him in any way; in fact he seemed to be trying to keep as much distance between them as was possible in the small berth. After Draco's breathing had slowed and deepened, Harry turned and considered his new master.
Draco looked frail and small in his sleep, and Harry knew that Draco didn't have much experience with slaves, or he would never have fallen asleep without posting a guard. Draco was fortunate that Harry had no intention of causing any trouble; at least, not until he had found out if there was a safe way off the ship.
Harry sighed, and rolled onto his back. There was no point in dwelling on things that were beyond his control. Best to simply close his eyes and put thoughts of freedom and escape out of his mind. There was nothing more detrimental to a slave than hope.
So master and slave slept, lost in their own dreams, unaware that everything they had ever known to be true was about to change. While the Fates conspired, they remained peacefully slumbering, and the ship continued to carry them forward, carving smooth furrows in the dark sea, beneath an endless sky.
End of Part One. Want to see more? You know what to do then.