Disclaimer : I don't own Harry Potter.
NOTES : This story taken place somewhere in 1850-1900, where marriages between men or women are not something taboo. (Yeah, you read this, if you hate this, LEAVE NOW.)
Edited by underxmyxumbrella, (Thank you, darling, for editing this. ;) )
WARNINGS : Incest (not really unless you think stepfather and stepson kind of is?) pedophile (also not really but just in case) and OOCness (not anything remote, I promise you).
How can you love someone when you know that they won't love you back?
When you know that they can't love you back?
It has been too long - perhaps a year, or two, Tom lost count after the 6th month – after they lost contact with his father. It rarely happened that a person was found again after going missing in a war but Tom didn't voice that out loud, especially not when he saw Harry standing in his father's study, his green eyes having lost their shine a long time ago. His hands were clutching a diaryclose to his chest.
The diary had been some sort of present; something that Tom Riddle Senior had given his young husband before he had left. Tom thought that his father wasn't fit to be with Harry – young, young Harry, who is no more than 2 years older than Tom but still smaller than Tom, shorter than Tom – but his father was happy; Harry was happy. Tom hadn't thought it was sensible to tell them otherwise back then.
But seeing the other man clinging to the remains of Tom's father's presence in his study, fingers delicate and lonely without someone else's to hold them, made Tom feel an ache throb inside of his chest.
"Harry," he called quietly and Harry jolted from his reverie. He quickly turned around to face Tom, who just returned from town. His forest green eyes blinked twice when they saw Tom and Tom loathed it because he knew Harry saw his father in Tom.
"Ahh, you're home. So it is true?" he asked with a small smile, too bright with hopeless faith and Tom wanted to that faith, wanted to destroy it because Harry was living a lie. He nodded his head, already knowing what Harry was inquiring.
"Yes. The soldiers returned. Still no sign of father," he stated almost nonchalantly, handing his black trench coat to the butler, who had been following him since he came in. Tom hated doing this and the reason was simple; he shouldn't be doing this.
If Harry hadn't been feeling a little ill today, he would have gone to town himself, to wait at the train station to try to spot the familiar sight of Tom's father's jet black hair, dark eyes and kind smile – features like Tom's, yet, they were nothing alike. Tom looked away for a moment, eyes studying his father's study, trying to avoid looking at the disappointed face in front of him. Harry seemed to clutch the old, leather covered book closer to his chest and Tom might have heard a dry sniff coming from him.
Tom wanted to hold Harry's shoulders, shake him hard and yell at him; so that he would stop waiting because Tom's father was dead, for God's sake, and Harry should look at him, Harry should look at Tom now. But then Harry bit his lower lip, his green eyes glassy but never faithless, never letting go.
"Maybe he'll come back next time. I know he will."
Tom was not his father.
Tom would not cook Harry breakfast just because he wanted to make Harry happy.
Tom would not help Harry put his shoes on and tie his laces for him just because he wanted Harry to start his day feeling loved.
Tom would not kiss Harry goodbye every time he goes out just because he wanted Harry to know that Tom would remember Harry in every second of his absence.
Tom would not play his piano or violin for Harry just because Harry loves to sing along with him or likes to hum along the tune.
Tom would not say he loves Harry all the time just because Harry loves him too.
But Tom would stay.
Tom would not leave Harry like his father had because Tom was not his father and Tom's love for Harry – no matter how little it was compared to his father – would remain forever, even when Harry would refuse him, deny him, push him away. Tom vowed there would never be anyone else.
Tom was not his father, and Tom's father had left and the only thing left of the man that Harry now had was Tom.
Sometimes, Tom wondered if that statement was true enough for him to live with.
"Are you feeling alright?" Tom asked quietly, his fingers stilling in their motion of signing paperwork. Harry shrugged.
"Better, not good but better."
Tom didn't know how to respond to that so he just continued his work. However, he was too aware of every little thing about Harry; his glasses on the bridge of his nose but he didn't care, or perhaps he was too lazy to push them back up, his fingers smooth and elegant in signing the paperwork they were working on and his breath was slightly hitched.
A fever, the doctor had said.
Tom unconsciously gritted his teeth, his hold on his pen tightening. Tom knew pleading would be useless, because Harry was a stubborn person; the only thing that his father said Tom and Harry had in common.
Harry seemed to notice Tom's frustration because he suddenly let out a soft chuckle and brushed a strand of his raven hair away from his eyes, tucking it behind his ear.
"I would love to have a bowl of warm, mushroom soup after this." Harry stated with a smile and Tom scrunched his eyebrows a little at that, trying to put it into note. He said nothing in reply as he continued working.
The study – one belonged to Tom, because the mansion was large and his father's was a restricted area, something about Harry being nostalgic and refusing to let anyone else occupy it including Tom – was filled with comfortable silence; Tom and Harry always found it better to work on Riddle's estates and business together rather than alone. The silence only lasted for another twenty minutes before Harry broke it with something that Tom would rather not talk about.
"Thomas always said that mushroom soup is one of your favourites." Harry smiled, his eyes on the paper he was writing on. Tom felt his left eye twitch.
"Thomas is not father's name." he replied instead, ignoring the fact that his father apparently knew Tom's favourite was. He saw Harry rolling his eyes at him under his thick, black eyelashes.
"You and your father share the same name, how am I supposed to discern both of you? He hates it when I call him Tom with you in the same room."
"Stop talking about him in future tense. He's not here."
Perhaps Tom was a little bit too harsh with his words, because Harry's expression suddenly went blank and his playful smile dropped as though gravity pulled the corners of his mouth down. Tom couldn't stand it and Harry couldn't see that. How should Tom find his way out from being a shell of a sonwho doesn't even remember his father's birthday but has to deal with his father's beautiful, perfect spouse, who was now probably a widow but refused to accept that?
Harry looked away and Tom knew he couldn't let this chance slip away so easily.
"Why do you wait, Harry? It has been years." Tom asked, his blue eyes hard and Harry jolted down his signature quickly – his movements gave away his anger; or perhaps sadness.
"Is it wrong to hope, Tom?" he asked in reply, voice small but not afraid; never afraid. Tom put down his pen and clenched his hands into fists on his lap, away from the other man's view.
"It is not wrong, Harry, but to hope on something as hopeless as this, is. Surely you know, surely you must know it is." Tom later realized that his voice was merciless but to earn such attention from Harry was difficult, especially when Harry spent day after day longing for his dead husband. Harry shook his head and looked up, his green eyes, sharp and intense, burned holes into Tom.
Beautiful Harry, Tom mused, beautiful. Tom didn't give Harry a chance to defense himself as he asked Harry another question.
"Did he tell you to wait?" Harry blinked his eyes slowly and then a small smile spread over his lips again.
"No. I chose to," Harry answered with such honesty that it hurt. Tom huffed and looked at the open window not far behind Harry's shoulder.
Harry silhouetted the morning light and Tom's heart ached to consume him in his own dark world.
"What a foolish thing to do," Tom muttered under his breath. At that moment, Harry's smile widened a little bit and it reached his eyes – something that rarely happened after Tom Marvolo Riddle Senior left– and Tom almost pulled away when Harry reached out to place his right palm against Tom's chest.
"Oh, Tom," Harry's eyes softened, real and painfully honest, but distant, as his voice wrenched Tom's heart, "love is always so foolish."
Tom didn't remember much of his childhood but being the only Riddle heir, whose ancestor had been a marquis, meant he was engulfed with luxury.
But one thing he remembered the most was that his parents married because of their family's arrangement at a very young age.
Tom's father had rarely spoken to his wife, always busy with his work and his wife hadn't seemed to care. Tom remembered a man who had always stopped by their mansion and how his mother had treated him; something akin to how lovers treated one another.
So when it came out that his mother had cheated on his father, the family tried to cut off all their connections with her. It was his father that stood between them, saying that no matter what happened, she was still Tom's mother, a mother to the only heir of the family. The point that Tom remembered about it back then, was that his mother had said his father was a heartless, emotionless and unlovable man.
Their marriage hadn't worked out, not because it had been arranged, not because she had cheated on him; but because he had never cared. His heart had never been there, his eyes had never smiled and his emotions had never shown.
Until the day Merope Riddle died when Tom had been 16 years old, Tom Riddle Seniorhad never kissed her – saved from the one at the altar, where they vowed to love each other until the end of time; a vow Tom's parents had broken recklessly.
Maybe that's why Tom had never believed in things such as 'love' and 'forever'.
But then, Tom's father met the youngest son of Potter family.
Harry, who had been 18 years old back then, had just finished school and had a dream to become an academician but fate decided that he had to fall for 32 years old Tom Marvolo Riddle Senior - quite literally so. The accident that Tom's father had with the young lad –Harry had tripped over something while walking and reading a book at the same time and his father had been in his way, which caused them to sprawl on the ground together – had led to something else, something more.
Tom thought that maybe if he'd been in his father's place, Tom would be the one Harry called his husband today.
But life is unfair.
And nothing is ever fair when love is the prize.
"Shut up, Tom, shut up!" Harry bellowed at him, fists shaking by his sides. Tom gritted his teeth. Tom was so close to ruining the little something they shared, their strange relationship hanging by an unbreakable thread because his father – a man that Harry loves and a man that Tom loathed for stealing his only love – was dead and Harry was too stubborn to let his dead husband go.
"Listen to me, you fool! You have to stop doing this! Don't go and wait at the station anymore, people are starting to wonder if you have gone insane!" Tom shouted back, an accusing finger pointing at the open door of a waiting room, where he just dragged Harry into when Harry had refused to budge, having wanted to wait for a little bit longer just in case his husband had forgotten that this was his stop. Harry let out a growl between his gritted teeth, anger seeping through and Tom breathed in the rarely shown emotion.
"So what if I have lost my mind?! Have you no heart? How could you forget about your father so easily?!"
"You're putting the blame on me now? I've spent months, years looking for him! I've sent away people, letters in an attempt to find him. I need you to stop now because nothing worked!" His anger took control of Tom and Harry practically trembled with his own rage.
"No, just because you have given up doesn't mean you can make me do the same." Harry's voice however, small as it broke Tom's heart; making Tom torn between crying because his love was now lost, or killing something, because love just killed them.
Tears welled up in Harry's eyes, but his face was an indifferent mask as he wiped them away with his sleeve.
"This may be insanity but I'm telling you; I'd live with his ghost if that is all I can have." Harry whispered, broken and unloved and Tom thought about how he had failed to make Harry happy in the way his father had done.
Tom didn't know when his sight started to blur, and Tom refused to acknowledge his right hand that he had place on his chest, gripping the fabric there tightly there, as if it could ease the throbbing ache inside.
"You have lost your mind, Harry," Tom laughed bitterly, eyes down looking at his shoes as he tried to stop the jumbling mess in his mind. "My father would be very disappointed in you."
And by the sound of silence that followed, Tom was taken by surprise by the knowledge that he had to break everything apart, in order to put it together again.
The first time Tom's father brought Harry home for a family dinner, Tom was seething with anger.
Tom just had a fight with his father - something about Tom being ungrateful and spending his time doing nothing to help the family; something about Tom's arrogance and him pissing people off. Tom said to his father, face to face, that it was ridiculous that he brought home a man, barely two years older than Tom to introduce him as a lover.
Harry was too young, Tom had said, not suitable for a man 14 years older than him. Harry had said nothing at all, ignoring the way Tom had been shooting glares at Harry's lover while said man responded to his son with nastier words, with sarcasm.
One day after Tom Riddle Senior had gone for war, Harry told Tom with a cheerful expression in his eyes that Tom Riddle Senior and Tom Riddle Junior were indeed father and sonbecause the both of them refused to back up, refuse to admit defeat and still managed to keep up with each other so very easily.
Maybe it had been the fond amusement in Harry's tone or the way his laughter had mixed with his words, that had made Tom incapable to reply.
One day, after Tom Riddle Senior had left, Harry had broken down in their master bedroom after receiving the grave news of his husband's disappearance, and Tom had grimaced at himself. Harry might believe that Tom and his father were similar, but Tom believed that he couldn't make Harry happy the way his father had.
Harry was baking something in the kitchen when Tom looked for him. Tom blinked his eyes, looking at the chocolate cake as Harry had yet to notice his presence. Tom's hand had slowly hidden away the letter he had just received inside of his pants' pocket.
Harry seemed to notice that movement though.
"What is it you are hiding from me, Tom?" he asked, eyes never left the dessert. Tom rolled his eyes at him.
"A letter. Not that important." He refused to admit it was childish – the way he sounded – and went to turn back but Harry's voice stopped him. Harry glared half-hearted at him but his hand extended in front of Tom.
"Give it to me." He demanded.
Tom rolled his eyes but nevertheless, handed him the letter. Harry gave him a grin, abruptly opened the envelope before he read the card inside. His face changed drastically afterward, realizing what the letter stated. Tom restrained himself from shifting one leg to another.
"It is just an invitation, Harry, it is not a must-"
"A wedding invitation from the Malfoys, this is good news, Tom, why must I object?" Harry cut him, the fake smile that Tom hated so much.
"It has been more than a year since you last attended a ball, I fear others have been speaking ill of you. Furthermore, it is just a wedding. Nothing excited about it." Tom shrugged, taking away the card from Harry's hand and proceeding to keep it safe in his pocket. Harry stared in disapproval at Tom.
"Well, if you actually consider to spend your whole life with someone and decide to make it official by marrying that person, then trust me, a wedding can be quite exciting. The only essence you need is just 'love'." Harry replied, turning back to his cake again. Tom bit his lower lip to keep from revealing something that might kill both of them, his hands clenched into fists by his sides. Harry seemed to sense Tom's sudden frustration but Harry's eyes continued to focus on his task. However, the frown on his face told a different story.
"We don't have to go if you loathe it so much, Tom," he stated quietly and Tom waited for the bomb to drop, "perhaps because you probably have everything but a heart."
Tom Riddle Senior was a Colonel in Her Majesty's army. He wore the title, proudly. It was how he'd been raised since childhood - to protect his country. He never had been interested in his family's wealth and properties.
Tom was completely different.
He enjoyed making money, he was fascinated by strategies and skills. Perhaps that was one of the reasons why he and his father rarely got along.
Tom spent his days reading, coming up with business strategies, socializing and others related. He enjoyed his luxurious life and wanted his future heir to experience the same luxury. The irony of his statement was that, he wasn't sure when or if he would ever get married.
His heart's desire was not right; and yet, not wrong.
His heart lies in the hands of one Harry James Potter.
Tom had known Harry far longer than his father had. Tom knew Mr. Potter and Mrs. Potter, and Harry's siblings. But he never thought that knowing Harry – in depth – was something disappointing because he was a little bit late in everything.
And the irony was that Tom wasn't even aware when Harry had taken away his heart.
Maybe it had been the time Tom had gone into an angry rampage, shouting things a son shouldn't say to his father and Harry had pushed both Riddles apart when the distance between them was not enough – murderous atmosphere too thick inside the room – and had punched Tom on his face for his impudence.
Tom's nose had broken and Tom's eyes had widened at the harsh and unexpected act. Harry hadn't looked regretful, just satisfied as he took his place as his father's husband. The pride in his eyes, defense up for his husband, the way Harry always wore his heart on his sleeve –Tom just knew his father had kissed Harry gratefully on the crown of his head once Tom had made his angry escape out from the room.
Maybe it had been the time when Tom acted snarky and sarcastic to their guests in one of the parties held in their mansion, who gossiped about his family – that consisted of his father, Harry and Tom now – and about how inappropriately Tom's father had acted, by courting and asking for the hand of a person too young to be his spouse, since his wife had died not less than a year ago.
Tom didn't argue their words but it was frustrating and annoying, having to hear all those misconceptions and rumours. Tom almost lost it and perhaps considered committing a murder when Harry stepped in front of him; his smile and politeness, took their places.
It was the way how he handled them, all graceful but sharps at points. He corrected them, never use their own weaknesses against themselves – something that Tom always found enjoyable – and when Tom Riddle Senior made his appearance, everyone already have a better view of their family.
Harry had always been someone who was too imperfectly perfect to exist in Tom's life; someone that Tom might want to love forever.
Or maybe it was the time when Tom found Harry standing alone inside his father's study. The wedding took place two months ago and then, his father was called in. And six months after the wedding, they had received the grave news. Harry looked real but far, somewhere far, far away, away from Tom's clutch. His eyes were green – a colour that Tom had come to love – but the life in them was gone, perhaps hiding somewhere dreamlike.
Tom stood silent, staring at his back as Harry let out a long sigh, his head titled back a little to bask in the sunlight came from the open balcony.
It wasn't fair, Harry had told him, we aren't supposed to be ashes and wine.
The life-changing event, the one that changed what Tom had so deeply craved for was caused by Tom himself.
He set fire to his father's possessions in the backyard.
Tom did it in an open area and ordered the servants to stay inside. He didn't need their shock and intrusion to get in the way. He needed to destroy all that remained of his father, all the things that anchored Harry to his false life. Tom's blue eyes were hard, unforgiving as he threw in his father's clothes. The fire burned bright and hot, just like Tom's hatred towards the owner of said clothes.
"What is going on, Tom?" Harry came in through the back door and Tom turned to watch his forest green eyes widen in realization. A smirk, small as it was but still noticeable, tugged on his lips as Tom hurled familiar medals next into the fire.
Harry shouted at him, running to try and save the gold and silver but failing. His breathing went rigid and hard and Tom was not feeling even a little guilty about it. He realized the servants were watching through the windows and Tom wished they would continue, because Harry needed to wake up from his delusion now – Harry needed to see that everyone had already accepted their former master was now dead.
"What are you doing?! Those are your father's!" Harry yelled at him, his hand raising to hit Tom but Tom was faster. He grabbed Harry's hand, his other hand snaked into the inside pocket of his waistcoat and pulled out a familiar leather covered diary.
Harry's eyes widened even further when Tom set the fire to Tom Riddle Senior's diary. Harry didn't even bother to hurt him anymore, he just turned and Tom was grateful that he was fast enough to stop the older man from following the diary.
He held Harry's struggling body from behind, his arms wrapped around Harry's shoulders and waist and Harry screamed; anger and miseryseeped through Harry's veins in his smaller body. And Tom had to stop showing his enjoymentof burning his father's things – and buried his face into Harry's nape.
"Bastard! You bastard! Let go of me! How could you do this!?" Harry cried out, trying to escape Tom's clutch but Tom only held on tighter. He continued to scream, shouting ruthless words at Tom and Tom let him, and burnt everything that had been making Harry hang on to this lie he was living.
Later that night, as Tom held Harry who was crying quietly in his bed, his back against Tom's chest, Tom whispered to him;
"I'm not asking you to forget, Harry… but I need you to let go."
"I love him." Harry told Tom one night, once Tom Riddle Senior had left them alone to go and buy something he deemed important enough to randomly leave the restaurant for. Tom rolled his eyes at him.
"Keep the sentiment to yourself, I am no one for you to convince regarding this matter." Tom waved him off, his arms crossed across his chest as he waited for their order to come. The restaurant was quiet in a good way, the atmosphere calming but Tom found himself restless being alone with his father's young lover.
"I was merely being honest."Harry retorted, annoyance flickering on his face and Tom suddenly realized how young Harry was.
"I did not ask you to, now please be silent."
"You are rude."
Tom's eyes widened in surprise but he quickly covered it by frowning. Harry looked at him, his green eyes firm certain and serious, his lips drawn in a tight line for the first time since Tom met him since Harry usually had been doing nothing but smiling when Tom's father was around.
"You are so rude. I thought that Tom was being funny when he said you were childish. Talking to you is like talking to a brick wall, you ignore me when you don't like what I´m saying and you're just so stubborn. You really enjoy doing that, do you not?"
Tom swore he didn't gape at Harry. Perhaps his mouth had just dropped open a little and there were warning bells going off in Tom's head.
Never in Tom's life had someone other than his father criticized him in such way. He was about to shoot back a respond when his father returned. The older Riddle maybe didn't realize what kind of conversation had taken between his son and lover because he was looking a little bit happier than usual.
Tom grew very suspicious.
Tom's suspicions were proven right later that night, when his father had grabbed Harry's hands once he had walked him to the entrance gate of the Potter's mansion. Tom watched from inside of his father's car as he rested their foreheads together, murmuring something to the very much shorter man and Tom saw it when the latter gasped quietly in surprise.
A wedding ring had found its way on Harry's finger that night.
The first time they kissed, - it was night and outside the mansion, the thunder roared – Harry was quick to push him away.
"Tom, we can't-"
Tom held Harry close in his arms, his blue eyes dilated, his breathing heavy. Harry didn't look any different from Tom – cheeks flushing pink with life and shyness, and his green eyes bright with something that Tom hadn't seen so long; adoration –, his shirt crumpled and his waistcoat somewhere on the floor where Tom had thrown it away. Tom had pinned the smaller man against the wall in the hallway after their paths had crossed, the both of them on their way to each other's' bedrooms.
Comfort was now something they sought from each other, regardless of Harry's anger at Tom last week, when he had burnt his father's belongings.
And no matter how strange it sounded, Tom was a happy man; happy enough to let his heart beat a little bit faster around Harry.
"No," Tom argued, "No, you need this, we need this."
I need you.
The sentence remained unspoken but Harry's wide eyes showed that he spotted it very well in Tom's – for once –expressive blue eyes.
Tom watched as Harry slowly ran his fingers down Tom's arm, – long, delicate and gentle – and Tom completely forgot that Harry was his stepfather. Now the other man was his lover, his anchor, his heart.
They leaned towards each other again, mouths seeking warmth and comfort and Tom threaded his fingers through Harry's black hair – messy, untamed but soft, real.
Tom liked the way Harry's lips hesitated before they deepened the kiss, his hands trembling as they wrapped around Tom's shoulders and his knees buckling. Tom had to push him harder against the wall for them to remain standing together, his lips hungry and insatiable.
They kissed and kissed and kissed until Tom decided to go lowerto suck on Harry's neck instead. He heard the smaller man groan softly, but Harry titled his head back, giving Tom more space to mark.
And if this night had led to another passionate night and a next one after that, and many more, the both of them didn't say a word about it.
When Tom realized he had feelings for his father's fiancé, he spent the entire night getting wasted at a bar. He woke up together with a naked blonde in a bed in a hotel room but his feeling remained unchanged the same.
Tom couldn't explain it – his feeling for Harry –because the path was too close to destruction. He couldn't accept it, because what he wouldgain from it were only pain and sorrow. As if it hadn't been enough to live in a family where his parents lied about love.
When Tom had returned home and he only managed to stop halfway towards his room and paused at the entrance into the dining room; because there Harry was laughing, mirth in his eyes as Tom's father read him a poem in a manner that was so uncharacteristic of his stoic self. Hatred made Tom's heart clench in his heart and he inwardly hissed at them, almost incapable of drawing his eyes away. He heard his father say Harry's laughter was like the sun, warm and bright, and Harry made a face at that but nevertheless, pinched his older fiancé's cheek for that.
The ache that throbbed when he saw them, he pushed them away as jealousy and swore never to remember it again.
The second time he realized Harry had taken a place in his heart – where there was a hole inside him – and it felt tremendous and agonizing at the same time.
Tom then decided to lock his heart away and decided that the day where his father married Harry was the worst timing where it wanted Tom to know who he needed.
The third time Tom realized he had fallen in love with Harry, it was when Harry woke up one morning, looking good – not better, better than better, good – and had finally broken out of the lifeless shell he used to be.
It was hard for them – for Harry at least – at first. Especially when Tom suggested that Harry should stop paying attention about the dates in which soldiers return home. The first time Harry stayed back and tried not to think about it, Tom had spent the entire day watching him pacing around the house, eyes troubled and body restless.
No news came in.
No one returned.
Starting that day, Tom realized everything had gone for a better coming.
And truth to be told, Tom had never felt this relieved to finally be able to wipe away his father from their lives.
Tom got into the car, a small smile tugging on his lips as he held a small black box in his hands. He had gone to the town just for it and Tom couldn't wait to show it to his lover.
Repeating his speechin his mind caused his smile to widen and if his butler had seen that, he certainly had tried his best to ignore Tom's uncharacteristic behavior.
Four years after his father had finally left, Tom decided that Harry should take his wedding ring off. Perhaps others would not approve of Tom's decision of taking Harry as his husband – he didn't even know whether he could or not, officially – but what mattered was Harry's choice. Tom was willing to dare that Harry will accept him.
And then Tom shall be the happiest man alive. Only he wouldn't show it on his face to anyone but Harry, of course.
Never did Tom know that right now at the mansion, Harry was quietly closing the door to his late husband's study, his fingers slow in motion as they locked the door. Harry clenched a fist around the key as he stared at the door.
He didn't know what had happened all these years; everything was blurred with Tom leaving and not coming back, and Tom staying and taking care of him. Harry didn't know when the younger Tom's obsession over him had started but whatever it was, Harry was grateful.
It wasn't pretty to live solely waiting for his dead husband to return, because that was the worst kind of hope.
Harry let out a heavy breath, closed his eyes and shook his head. Then he heard the noises of a car stopping at the front lane and Harry quickly went downstairs to greet Tom.
However, the sounds of boots taking steps closer to the main door left Harry's heart feeling bare and open, his breath getting stuck in his throat and his eyes wide. He paused halfway towards the door and went still. After what seemed like a long time, a thud was heard like something fell to the ground – like a bag – and the door opened.
"Harry love, I'm home."
There is this saying about 'ashes and wine.'
Harry had used this phrase once but at that time, Tom hadn't understood it. But then when he thought about it again, ashes perhaps represented what was left of a destroyed relationship; from a burned out relationship.
And wine perhaps stood for what people used to mend themselvesafter they were ruined.
It was ridiculous but yet, made so much sense, especially after Tom had to go through it, one more time, and probably forever. And now Tom mused,
How can you love someone, when you know that they won't love you back?
When you know that they can't ever love you back?