Harry arrives back at the dinner table just as the main course is being served. He slips into the seat beside Ginny quietly, picks up his napkin and places it on his lap. From the corner of his eye, he catches Blaise's frown and fights the stain of a blush from his cheeks. He finds his hand on the wine bottle shaking when Blaise turns to Pansy and whispers in her ear, the content of which causes Pansy to glance at Harry quickly, then away.
He sighs and remains silent, fearing that to say anything at this point would be a provocation and lead to a confrontation he'd rather just not have. Ginny looks at him thoughtfully for a moment; he can feel her eyes on him and he turns to her with a smile.
"Are you alright, Harry?" she asks, with her hand on his arm.
"I'm fine, love," he answers with a smile. "How are you doing? Up for a dance with your old husband later on?"
She laughs. "If you can get your arms around this huge belly of mine, I think I can manage it."
"Course I can," he smiles back and tips her chin up to place a quick kiss on her lips. "You know I think you're beautiful when you're pregnant."
It's true, he does and he does love Ginny. She's just not the love of his soul. And there's guilt in that, guilt that he loves someone else - the guilt of an emotional betrayal.
She pats his arm and they eat, conversation dulled a little by the clacking of cutlery, the filling of wine glasses and the consumption of perfectly prepared food. Draco keeps the atmosphere light, telling them tales of customers who overdose on his new anti-aging cream and end up looking younger than their children, and any slight tenseness at the table dissipates.
The music begins after the main course remains are cleared away and Harry leads Ginny to the dance floor and into a waltz. She is still graceful on her feet, though her bulk makes her awkward at times and she feels good in his arms. Lowered lighting and numerous couples on the dance floor make it very romantic and he feels Ginny sigh happily against him.
"We should do this more often," she says, her eyes sparkling into his.
He nods, smiling, promising to himself to take his wife dancing more often after she's recovered from this birth. There is a slight tremor of worry in his chest as he thinks of his dance with Draco later on, but he will face that when the time comes.
They are stopped by a lot of friends, who tap Harry's shoulder to say hello, or just smile at them, and Harry knows that they make a good-looking couple. Even Draco taps Harry on the shoulder while he's dancing with a young male that Harry knows is the manager of one of his stores.
"Don't forget that you have to pay your penalty and whirl me around the dance floor, Harry," he jokes with a wink. Harry laughs and nods and they move on, leaving Harry to explain to Ginny who's looking at him in disbelief.
"He's never managed to get you up to dance with him yet, Harry. Why now?"
Harry laughs. "I called him a git and, well, it's his birthday and I figured I may as well," Harry replies with his heart in his mouth, hoping his explanation satisfies her. It does and she smiles and shakes her head, telling him that he is too nice to everyone and that had Draco been a woman, she might be jealous.
Harry gulps but grins and twirls his wife around the dance floor until the song ends and then leads her back to their table where she is quite happy to sit and chat to other guests. Luna and Neville have joined their table. He shakes Neville's hand, says hello to Luna and spends the next half an hour chatting and catching up with all their news.
However, his mind isn't completely on the two newcomers to the table, his eyes wander to find Draco more than they should, and watch him dance with one person after the other, enjoying himself and effusively kissing his partners thank you after each dance. That Harry sees this only illustrates exactly how much he is watching Draco. He drags his gaze away, realising that he is becoming jealous and not paying proper attention to those around him.
Before he knows it, there are hands on his shoulders and a warm whisper in his ear.
"I think this dance is mine, Mr. Potter."
Harry grins and rolls his eyes, pretending that he feels put upon, when in reality his heart is thumping in a mix of fear and anticipation. The fact that he is going to have the man he is in love with in his arms and dancing around the floor makes him almost giddy, but at the same time, there is real fear there that every emotion he will be feeling will show plainly on his face.
Draco takes his wrist and leads him to the darkened dance floor and slides gracefully into his arms like he belongs there. Harry's breath hitches as his hand entwines with Draco's and his arm encircles Draco's waist, and nothing has ever felt quite like coming home as this has. He's sure that his face is a picture of pure joy and he fights to keep it neutral as they move slowly to the ballad playing.
He can feel the shift of Draco's weight under his hand, the movement of his body as he inches closer to Harry like a magnet. With his eyes closed he inhales the soft scent of Draco, memorising this one time when he can be this close and not have to explain. He reels under the impulse to pull their entwined hands up to his lips, or to lean his forehead against Draco's and spend the dance just drowning in his eyes.
But when Draco rests his head on Harry's shoulder, Harry stiffens. Not because he doesn't want this; he does, and his fingers dig into Draco's back a little, almost as if pulling him closer.
"Draco, people will be watching." He hates to have to say that, and his voice rasps with regret.
The only sign that Draco has even heard him comes as he lifts his head and sighs.
"I wish that I could have you for one night," he whispers. "One night where you could make love to me with more than your eyes."
"Draco…" Harry starts, but is cut off by the defeated frown on Draco's face.
"I know, Harry…I know."
Their eyes meet and Harry can see that this is as hard for Draco as it is for him, and his arm pulls him a fraction closer so that their bodies are now touching and they're moving together slower and slower until they are barely swaying. The heat that spreads through Harry at the closeness makes him blush, but he keeps his eyes on Draco's - unable not to.
Draco shifts restlessly in his arms, closes his eyes for a second and purses his lips.
"At least tell me you feel the same."
Harry stays silent, the lump in his throat aching and making it impossible to talk. He could admit to wanting Draco so desperately that he dreamt about him at night; that with just a look, Draco could make him go weak at the knees; that every time he thought of kissing Draco, it was as if everything he had ever known about love and desire was learnt in that thought.
Instead, he looks away, hating himself. "I can't…"
It's a whisper, but it echoes between them when Draco tenses in his arms.
"I've been patient, I haven't pressed," Draco's voice is quiet and still contained, but it is tight with stress.
He is unable to say anymore but the heaviness in his heart is building and he really doesn't want to have this discussion, it can only lead to pain and anguish. Harry has almost forgotten that he is in a public place, the feel of Draco in his arms after all this time - properly in his arms - is nearly too much for him to take.
The song ends and they pull apart reluctantly, Draco still holding onto his hand and looking searchingly into his face. "So…?" he says, virtually begging for an answer, and suddenly it becomes too much for Harry and he turns and flees the dance floor, heading for the exit.
He simply cannot stay there and face Draco anymore. To tell him how he feels would just put them both in a worse position; no less hopeless than it is now. No less laced with fear, no safer emotionally. It would do neither of them any good to talk about what they could not change.
And they could not change, he'd made promises, made commitments; he liked his life. He senses rather than sees Ginny returning from the ladies' room, and he takes a quick detour, trying not to look devastated, to tell her that he is going outside for some fresh air.
Not even waiting for her response, he gives her a quick kiss on her forehead and continues outside.
He barely registers the fact that it is raining; such is his need to escape. There is no rational thought about where he is walking to, only to just walk and keep walking until he can walk no more. Find some distance between himself and the situation he's found himself in – no, gotten himself into.
Within a minute he is soaked and finally, when his teeth start chattering, he realises that he's freezing cold. It doesn't stop him, though, he just hunches his shoulders and thinks that maybe he should find his car and sit in that for a while.
It is as he is standing there, looking at all the cars sparkling under light that reflects off the raindrops, that he hears footsteps behind him. When he turns, he knows it's Draco and his shoulders slump in defeat.
"Why did you run out?" Draco asks him, angrily.
Harry stares at him; he doesn't think he's ever seen Draco look like a drowned rat. His hair is hanging in his eyes, dripping water down his nose and over his lips, which spray as he speaks. But his eyes…oh his eyes…still burn him and threaten to not only break down his will, but virtually smash it apart.
"I'm sorry," he replies. It's all he can say, all he seems capable of saying but it will never be enough, and he knows it.
"Well, you should be. I'm tired of being in love with you and not at least knowing that you feel the same. You've said nothing and all I have to go on is the look I see in your eyes when you want me. I-I can't…not know anymore, Harry."
Draco's anger is gone now, and if it hadn't been raining, then Harry is positive that he would see that Draco is crying. The plaintive tone of his voice and the misery of that last plea almost break Harry's resolve. He shakes his head, his own eyes pricking with tears, though they're already wet from the rain dripping under his glasses.
"Harry, please…? Please tell me I didn't fall in love on my own?"
And Draco's standing there just in front of him, his heart in his hands and in the shaking of his voice, and Harry sees the desperate pleading in his eyes and he can't not answer him.
A trembling hand reaches out and grabs Draco round the back of his neck, pulling him into a deep kiss even as he whispers. "No, you didn't."
It's so bittersweet this kiss; this last kiss that they will share. Draco's lips are cool, but heated by his cries of relief and they move with Harry's like they had been made for them. Draco's arms snake round Harry's waist, up his back, and bunch up his shirt, like he's hanging on and doesn't plan on ever letting go. They're both wet and cold, yet when their bodies meet at long last, the warmth it generates makes both of them stagger. Harry is clinging desperately to his senses, his lips clinging just as desperately to Draco's. He tastes of… Harry stops kissing and pulls back gasping and breathing heavily. Oh God… he tastes of home and peace and fire and desire and the promise of forever, and Harry knows that whatever else happens in his life, he will never ever forget the taste of this; will always yearn for this.
"I love you, Draco," he finally whispers, shaking horribly and knowing that it is not enough - it will never be enough. Their lips meet again, this time less intense, gentler. Their lips explore and savour the sensation of movement and taste, and Harry's hand comes round to cup Draco's jaw as his tongue begins its search. He wants, needs to commit to memory each soft place in Draco's mouth, every ridge and crevice, every sharp tooth, and he allows Draco to do the same, thrilling at how perfect it is.
When he needs to breathe, he reluctantly pulls back, resting his forehead on Draco's, still holding him flush against his body.
"I'm sorry…" It comes out as a gut-wrenching moan, and Harry pulls away, shaking his head.
He turns to walk away. There are a million things he knows he's leaving unresolved, but he has to leave now, or he never will again.
"You're going to tell me that, kiss me like you own me, and then leave?" Draco chokes out and comes after him, grabbing his arm and wrenching him back around to face him. There is disbelief on his face and Harry's heart aches all over again for all the mistakes he's made with Draco. "Why…?" Harry stops him by placing his fingers over Draco's lips.
"No more, Draco. Please, don't ask me…" he whispers, pulls his arm free and leaves, shoulders slumped and head hung low, reciting all the questions he knows Draco wants answers to.
He has answers to none of them.
A/N: Below are the words to this beautiful song that acted as an inspiration for this story. As you can see it does not have a happy ending, and I'm really sorry that I cannot make it one. Rest assured that I will have stories posted shortly that DO have happy endings.
With the way I have ended it, you can make up your own…sequel as it were, to have it end how you would like. Perhaps Ginny came out and saw them kissing, perhaps Ginny is the one to leave him by falling for someone else. Who knows? It's up to you.
I want to thank all of you who read this and reviewed and thank you all for a warm welcome in my first association with this archive. I have tried to reply to the comments, but as they don't get marked when you reply, I may have missed some. If so, I am truly sorry, but please know that I appreciate every single one of them.
And now, the words.
Please Don't Ask Me by John Farnham (not sure if he wrote the actual song, but his is the version I listened to while writing this.)
Please don't ask me what am I thinking
It's about you
And please don't ask me
I never can see you
What can I do
My first impulse is to run to your side
My heart's not free, and so I must hide
Please don't ask me
What I'm gonna say to you
I toss and turn
Can't sleep at night
It's worrying me, I go to bed
Turn out the light
But your face I see
It only hurts
The more I pretend
That we could ever
Be more than friends
Please don't ask me
Why I'm so in love with you
You could easily make me happy
That I know
But I try my best to never tell you so
I will sing to you my love songs
And pretend but I'll keep my distance right down
To the end
Please don't ask me why I'm not talking
I just can't explain
And please don't ask me
Why I go walking out in the rain
I could not live the lie it would take
To have you here would be a mistake
Please don't ask me
Why I'm so in love with you
No please don't ask me