A/N: This story was inspired by the words of a song entitled 'Please Don't Ask Me' by John Farnham. It's a beautiful, beautiful song. The story is only four chapters long and at the end I will post the lyrics. I hope that you enjoy this little story as much as I enjoyed writing it. You may, however, need a few tissues, we're in for a weepy ride.
"Gin, aren't you ready yet?" Harry calls up the stairs in the age-old tradition of the husband waiting for his wife. Men and women, rituals, rites, customs. Harry's not surprised that he has fallen into them. Adhering to these basic rituals, the small things that make him feel he belongs, gives him a permanence he never had.
"Coming,' returns Ginny's tired voice and Harry sighs. He knows that voice and wonders what price a night out with friends will come to. He knows she doesn't mind a night out, but she's getting close to the birth of their fourth child, and she tires easily these days. Harry wouldn't have insisted they go out tonight; only it's a special occasion. Draco's birthday.
If you'd told him eight years ago, back at school that he would be insisting they attend a Malfoy party, and even looking forward to it, he would have sent you off to St. Mungos.
How things change. They'd been attending them for the last five years. Once the war was over and it was discovered that Draco had no dark mark on his arm and had been acting out of fear for the lives of his parents that terrible night that Albus died, they had both taken a step back from the silly schoolboy grudges and found they had a lot in common.
Too much perhaps.
Ginny makes her way slowly down the stairs and Harry is about to ascend and help her, when he is attacked from behind by a whirlwind screaming, "Daddy!" She's clinging to him, trembling, and with a quick glance at Ginny, he turns, pries her from his legs and picks her up holding her close.
Her arms slide around his neck and they grip with an intensity that he's sure can't be normal for a five year old. "Hey, what's wrong?"
She burrows her little face into his neck and won't answer. "Rosie," Harry begins again, turning to kiss her head. "If you don't tell daddy what's wrong, how can I fix it?"
She mumbles something into his neck that sounds like "Horrid Pierre," and Harry frowns. Pierre is Bill and Fleur's oldest. He's seven years old going on thirty-five. He runs rings around his parents and his grandparents and he's more Delacour than Weasley when he turns on the charm. However, he takes a vicious delight in upsetting Rosie, and tonight he has had to accompany Molly, who was looking after the three Potter children.
"What has he done now, Princess?" Ginny has joined them and drops a kiss on her head too, and mouths to Harry that she will go and sort things out with her nephew.
"He said…" her little voice is shaky and not for the first time does Harry want to throttle that Pierre. "He said I was a bad girl and you would go away and never come back. You won't will you daddy?"
"Never, Princess. How could I ever leave you? I love you and your brothers and I will never leave you."
"Ok, daddy," she sighs a great shuddering sigh and clings tighter to her daddy. Ginny comes back then, with Molly in tow, a worried look on her face, and says that she has reprimanded Pierre.
Harry gently removes the clutching hands of the dark haired beauty in his arms and kisses the tip of her nose. "You are my Princess and you will always be my Princess." Harry's kids mean the world to him and he's sworn that they will never ever think that they are not loved and wanted and safe and protected. "Now, give daddy a smile and go with Nana Molly, I'm sure she has your favourite story to read to you." Little Rosie smiles at Harry and it's like the sun shining through the clouds.
"Love you daddy, you're my hero," she says in her best grown-up voice, before scampering out of his arms and taking hold of Molly's hand, ready for story time. Harry and Molly's eyes meet and she nods and leads Rosie back into the living room.
"It's really not good for her that you let her cling so much to you, Harry," Ginny remarks from by his side.
He turns to her and frowns, "She's five years old Ginny, she can cling whenever she needs to." His voice is colder than he had planned; this is an old argument. Ginny thinks he spoils the kids, but none of his children will ever feel the pain of rejection from him.
"Well, don't blame me if she grows up to be as spoilt and demanding as Draco. I still don't know why you like him so much; he's still the same prat we went to school with, Harry." She's getting waspish now and Harry knows that unless he bites his tongue, he'll have an evening of listening to her whine. Besides, she is pregnant and allowances should be made for mood swings. He loves Ginny, he does, but…
Because, of course, Draco is not the same person he went to school with.
Ginny's continues, "At least he knows how to put on a good do. I'm starved. Can we go now?"
Finally, he thinks, to himself and they head out to the car. Ginny's condition means that they must use conventional means of transport. He doesn't mind this much, it gives him time to think while he's driving, and he finds his mind drifts back to another birthday function three years ago, back to the first time he kissed Draco.
It's been a fun night, Harry thought. Draco really knew how to put on a party and he was slightly drunk. The food and wine had been perfect, as you would expect from a Malfoy. The company had been even better. He should make sure to tell him, he'd appreciate that. Harry was sitting outside the restaurant in a garden sort of thing that was used for outdoor dining in the summer. It was nice. The skies were clear and the stars were blurry enough that it looked like a mass of white hung about his head like a canopy.
He giggled at the random thought, and swayed sideways, only to be buffered by a shoulder, a warm shoulder of someone beside him. The warmth made him drop his head onto it comfortably.
"Penny for them, Harry?"
"Penny for what, Draco?"
"Your thoughts. You're sitting here giggling like a girl and I wondered what you were thinking."
Harry lifted his head from Draco's shoulder and looked at him. Starlight shone in his eyes, and the gentle light softened the angles and planes of his face, and just at that moment, Harry very much wanted to kiss him.
"Right now, I'm thinking how much I want to kiss you," Harry replied, the alcohol having banished any embarrassment at the admission. He wasn't drunk enough to miss the flash of pleasure that crossed Draco's face though and so he leant in and joined their lips. It wasn't much of a kiss, as kisses go, Harry was a little too inebriated, but it was perfect, Harry decided.
Draco's lips moved against his, kissing him back, drawing him deeper, and it was as if a key had turned in a lock he didn't know he had. The tumblers all fell into place when he felt Draco's tongue slide over his lips and the feeling of opening a door to a whole new emotion slammed into the forefront of his mind.
He broke the kiss breathlessly, confusion plain to see on his face, searching Draco's eyes. For a moment he thought he saw bliss deep in those eyes, but the mask soon dropped and it was gone, replaced by the cool Malfoy they all knew.
"Well, as kisses go, Harry, that was…"
"Perfect," Harry whispered, before it sunk in and he blinked and looked away, blushing. "Sorry, I shouldn't…I can't…"
"Harry…" Draco started, but Harry had already pushed himself to his feet and walked away, slightly unsteady on his feet.