I'd Have to Love You

Draco's hand was in his pants, wrapped tightly over the small package inside his pocket. The bulge was obvious with a mere glace. He hoped, for his sake, that her mind was elsewhere. His nerves were already threatening to overcome him. They'd discussed going further for some time now, both their parents had anticipated this step in their relationship for over a year.

It only made sense.

He pulled his cloak over him a little more. It was raining again, as it had been most of the summer. His Disapparated quickly, landing only a foot from his girlfriend's door. He was getting better at Apparition. As he raised his hand to knock, the door opened.

"Hi, Draco," Pansy said tonelessly, ushering him in. She whipped her wand out for a quick charm to dry him before granting him a small kiss on the cheek. He was hungry for more, but before he could pull her back for something more satiating, she had left to the kitchen.

He looked around her flat. He'd been here countless times over the last several years. The decor never failed to impress him. Pansy had an astounding sense of style and a taste in fine furnishings that would make antique connoisseurs run blushing. Draco still lamented a little inside that his grand proposal would take place here, rather than somewhere on the coast, but Pansy preferred the indoors to the outdoors any day, rain or shine.

"Tea?" she said softly, holding up a tray with two cups and a teapot. "Oh! How could I forget!" She set her load down on the short table in her dining room and raced back to the kitchen, then back out again. "I completely forgot about the biscuits!" She sat a plate of warm biscuits beside the tray and began to pour the tea.

"You're dressed rather nicely," Pansy noted, topping-off his cup and pouring her own. He had slacks and a suave white shirt, the top button loose for both style and a cooler neck. "What's the occasion?"

"An evening with a darling woman," he replied, grinning in satisfaction: he could swear he saw her blush.

It was quiet for a moment between them as they drank their tea. As he finished his, he set his cup down gently.

"I have a few questions to ask you," he said softly, placing his hand softly on her arm. She placed her cup beside his.

"Do you, now?" She grinned, then snuggled up to him. Her arm looped around his neck, her face pressed against his chest. She was very comfortable with his body, as was he with hers.

"As a matter of fact, I do."

"Go on." She drew circles on his chest with the point of her finger.

"Okay," he began. He felt proud of himself. Everything was going perfectly according to his plans. "First question: Hugs or kisses?"

"That's easy. Kisses." Her response was immediate. While that startled him a little, he kissed her sweetly. She smiled. "What's the next question?"

"Cuddling or dancing?"

"Cuddling, for sure." Draco was reminded instantly of the Yule Ball, now a half-decade into their past. After only a short while of dancing, she had sat off to the side. He had assumed then that her shoes were hurting her, but he knew better now. He had for some time, if he was honest with himself. Dancing was not one of her fortes.

"One more question," he said, almost choking out the words. His nerves were starting to take claim over his body; he could feel himself shaking lightly. He hope she didn't notice.

Draco's heart raced as he began to pull himself free of her body. He needed the freedom of movement to continue with his questions. She was less than pleased.

"I love you, Pansy," Draco said shyly. As he made to kneel, his hand slipped slyly into his pocket. "I have one last question to ask you."

"Don't," Pansy stopped him before he could even ask. "Don't ask me that question."

"What?" Draco breathed, "Why?"

"I'd have to love you," she said sadly. She leaned forward, touching his cheek gently, and then turned away. "I – don't," she sighed. "That doesn't mean I don't want to, Draco," she said, tears forming in her eyes, "I've tried. I've been trying. I just – can't. Not yet."

"But," Draco stammered, "You loved me once, right?" She said nothing, but averted her eyes. "You can do it again." He swallowed thickly. He wasn't sure to think right now; confusion tore through his mind like a bull loosed in a chicken coop.

The convenient thing about getting down to one knee to propose for marriage is that it's easy to get down on both to beg. Draco did just that, at a loss for any hope of fulfilling his dreams for the evening. Pansy could not be persuaded. He stayed on his knees, staring at the girl he loved.

That she did not love him was something he could not fathom.