When You Say Nothing At All
[ a birthday fic for Harry's 21st ]
Harry opened his eyes, and when the blurred images gradually swam into focus, the first thing he saw was Draco, leaning over him, holding a glowing blue candle a few inches above his chest.
Harry blinked twice, still groggy he wondered if he was dreaming, but just then a drop of hot molten wax from the candle fell onto his bare chest and brought stinging reality to life, spurring him to action.
"Argh!" Harry bolted upright, almost knocking the lighted candle out of Draco's hand. "What the hell are you doing, Draco? Trying to set me on fire?"
"Good morning." Draco smiled serenely, completely unruffled; he shifted slightly off Harry, although his ankle was still hooked around Harry's calf. "Slept well?"
"Yes I did, right until a few moments ago." Harry rubbed the sleep from his eyes and sat up, shrugging Draco off him, and turned to look at him disapprovingly. "Firstly, what do you think you're doing?" Another drop of candle wax fell, this time landing on Harry's arm. "And secondly, ow."
Draco smiled, holding up the candle, which burned in a pretty cerulean blue flame touched with edges of silver fire. "What, don't you like it?"
"The candle? Yes, it's very pretty. But the candle melting all over me? No."
Draco pouted in a very fetching way. "It's supposed to be sexy, you know. I saw it in a Muggle music video in a shop in London the other day." He grinned. "I think it's very hot."
"Well, hot it certainly is," Harry remarked dryly, wincing as he inspected the swiftly hardening drips on his arm and chest, and scraped them off gingerly with his forefinger. In response, Draco inched closer to Harry on the bed, and carelessly dripped more wax on him in the process, much to Harry's chagrin. "Draco! Quit that. I feel like a human birthday cake."
"Oh! Happy birthday, by the way." Draco slid closer to Harry, still brazenly wielding his smoking blue candle, which was slowly but steadily being waxed all over Harry's body.
"Yes, how romantic of you." Harry shot him a withering look. "You wake me up by pouring hot wax all over me, seeming not to notice the difference between birthday boy and birthday cake, and now I don't even get a kiss to go with the greeting?"
"Oh, I'd like to do much more right now than kiss you, really." Draco shrugged nonchalantly, his tone more like one commenting 'oh, the weather looks fine today, really.' "But your friend Weasley just called to say he's coming over now, and I don't think he'd be too enamoured of finding us having sex when he gets here." He grinned impishly. "I don't think he's quite gotten over what we did in his bathroom at the last party he invited you to."
Harry couldn't help smiling. It was a fond memory, of course, up until the point where Ron had walked in on them making out on his bathroom floor and had run out yelling at the top of his voice. Since then, Ron had expressly forbidden Harry from bringing Draco anywhere on or even near the Weasley property. "Well, it was your fault. You didn't lock the door."
"Why was that my fault, solely?"
"Because," Harry gave Draco a long, meaningful look, "You had me handcuffed to the bath-tub railing, that's why. And forgot the unlocking spell, I might add. We had to get Hermione to come in and help get the cuffs off. That was embarrassing, and Ron was very angry, you know."
"Well, don't blame me for him being grumpy and irritable all the time." Draco gracefully slid out of bed and got to his feet, elegance and confidence exuding from his every movement. "Why don't you get dressed, while I go downstairs and make Weasley a cup of tea."
Harry narrowed his eyes and gave Draco a stern look. "Don't you even think of spiking Ron's drink again. The last time you made him a cup of tea he had diarrhoea for a week."
Draco smiled in a satisfied way. "That Laxative spell only has effect on people with too much crap in them. I was just proving my point."
"Draco, I'm warning you..."
"All right, all right." Draco rolled his eyes, and walked out the bedroom. "I'll just make nice polite conversation until you get down."
When Harry stepped out of the bedroom, showered and changed, the first thing he heard was angry shouting from downstairs, the two voices unmistakable; one, his best friend ever since he was eleven, the other, his lover since he was sixteen.
"What the hell Harry sees in you is a mystery to me!" Ron was yelling, his voice bright with fury.
"Maybe that's because you're just hopelessly dim. Everything is a mystery to you." Draco's voice was cool, sliced with malice. "They say that money can't buy brains, Weasley, but you clearly have neither."
"Fuck you, Malfoy," Ron hissed angrily.
"Yes, Harry likes to do that too, actually."
That evidently sparked a violent physical reaction from Ron, because a scuffle of feet ensued before Draco warned threateningly, "Lay one hand on me, Weasley, and I will personally sue you for every last imaginary Galleon you've got. This is my house, so mind your manners."
"Oh really?" Ron's voice was twisted with sarcastic rage. "I don't recall you demonstrating such decorum, Malfoy, when you were in my house? In my bathroom, for god's sakes!" Ron made a disgusted, strangled sort of noise. "I couldn't set foot in there for weeks afterward! And what you were doing to Harry handcuffs and chains and"
"Yes, Weasley, I can just imagine how fun your sex life is. But I suppose whatever you lack in imagination you make up for with a general lot of bellowing." Draco proceeded to do a mocking imitation of very unconvincing moaning; Harry could almost hear the smirk in his voice. "Poor Granger."
Ron's voice was shaking with anger. "Malfoy, one day I'll"
"HEY!" Harry appeared at the foot of the stairs, his dark hair still slick, his emerald eyes darting back and forth between Ron and Draco. "Will you two stop?"
Ron and Draco fell silent.
Harry's eyes flashed with exasperation and annoyance as he glared at them both. "It's my birthday today. I only get to turn twenty-one once in every lifetime, so I'll be damned if I have to spend it watching both of you fight and bicker all day. I am sick and tired of Hermione and me having to tear you two apart each time you come within ten feet of each other."
Draco and Ron both had the grace to at least look abashed.
Harry took a deep breath, then continued, "So for today, at least, can you both just pretend you don't see each other when you're in the same room? Is that too much to ask?"
Draco's lips slowly curled upward in a very fetching smile; he walked over to where Harry was standing, and placed a hand lightly on his shoulder. It was at times like this, Harry realised, that he remembered how very much more tactile Draco was, at least as compared to Ron, who was shuffling his feet and looking very uncomfortable.
"Of course, Harry." Draco smiled liltingly at Harry, his eyes lightening to slate-grey. "Anything for you."
Then to Harry's surprise, Draco leaned forward and kissed him on his lips, firmly yet gently, his hands moving along Harry's shoulders to hold the back of his head, allowing his fingers to tangle in Harry's wet black hair.
Before Harry had a chance to react, Draco pulled away and took a step back. He surveyed Harry's dazed look and Ron's dismayed expression with a detached amusement; then without a word he turned and walked out of the living room.
Harry found his voice. "Where are you going, Draco?"
"The party's not until tonight, isn't it?" Draco answered, without looking around. "I'll be back before then."
Hermione came over shortly after Ron did, looking cute as she always did, in a sleeveless yellow dress, full of smiles and presents and a kiss for Harry. The three of them spent the rest of the day together, so reminiscent of the times they shared in Hogwarts, the most famous Gryffindor trio in the history of the House. The closeness they had never diminished even after their Hogwarts days; they saw much less of each other, yet their bond only grew stronger with each passing year.
Hermione and Ron were getting engaged; and Harry pensively watched them talk and nudge each other, laughing, and he could see how very much in love they were. A mild pang stung his heart as Harry thought of Draco, and of what they were together the question arose quietly, almost shying away from an answer: were they in love, he and Draco?
Draco had stood by him all this while, through the hard times and raw moments and regretted words. He knew that Draco cared about him a lot, but it wasn't the same; such as how Harry cared for Ron immensely, but knew he didn't love Ron in the way that he loved Draco. But did Draco love him?
It was hard to tell. Each time they kissed, and made love, Harry could feel the sheer emotion pulsing through Draco's body, a fierce sincerity, silent articulation of a feeling too intense to be voiced. But even in their five years together, never had Draco said the words that Harry so deeply wanted him to, the affirmation he needed. Not once.
Harry spent the afternoon subconsciously missing Draco, who finally came back home as dusk began to fall over the late afternoon sky, a couple of hours before the birthday party was scheduled to begin. Ron and Hermione were deliberating over what food to conjure for the party; Ginny and Neville were helping to decorate the place, although Ginny spent most of her time rectifying Neville's miscast spells, which resulted in phlegm-coloured tinsel drapings instead of golden, and other such mishaps.
Draco had gotten Harry's birthday cake, and had put the candles atop it where they belonged, for a change. Draco had ordered it from Cupcakes!, a magical confectionery and Harry's heart skipped a beat as he opened the box to look at his birthday cake.
It was a mocha-coloured cake, lined with chocolate icing along the edges, embellished with minuscule decorative silver fires that merrily danced and sparkled. A rich aroma of brewed coffee wafted from the cake, hinting at its flavour, and chopped almonds were sprinkled generously all around the sides.
And the cake was, unmistakably, in the shape of a stag.
Harry looked at the miniature silver stag standing in the middle of the cake, tossing its head in graceful arrogance, elegant and sturdy, its proud antlers like frozen lightning. It turned to look at Harry with polite curiosity; Harry was struck by the uncanny resemblance it bore to the stag he conjured as his Patronus, alike down to the white-silver fur, golden antlers and oak-brown hooves.
Harry looked up at Draco, who was watching him evenly; his words melted on his tongue as a surge of emotion welled up within him. He'd only ever told Draco once, years ago, that his Patronus was a stag, after his father. And Draco had remembered.
Draco smiled. "Do you like it?"
Harry nodded, and carefully closed the box after one last look at the tiny stag strutting back and forth on top of his cake. He took a deep breath, and a comfortable warmth swelled within his chest.
"Thank you." He raised his eyes to meet Draco's. "For everything."
True to his promise, Draco didn't make a single snide remark to Ron or Hermione, and generally kept very much to himself during the party. After all, everyone present was Harry's friends, almost all of them Gryffindors. A Slytherin in their midst was naturally out of place, although Draco carried it off with much dignity and poise.
Harry's time was divided into tiny fragments among all of his guests, catching up with friends he'd not seen for a while, receiving his presents and well wishes. Ron and Hermione spent most of their time with him, and it felt so much like the parties they used to throw in the Gryffindor common room, complete with Gred and Forge's antics and entertainment.
Well, almost. There was one difference.
Harry looked around, and found Draco standing quietly by the side, sipping a cocktail. There was a small, pensive smile on his face, and Draco watched him calmly, never taking his eyes off Harry, who was the only reason he was even here at this Gryffindor reunion gathering.
Just then, the music struck up; it was a slow, romantic tune, and the guests cleared a space in the middle of the living room as someone dimmed the lights, amidst catcalls and cheers from the Weasley twins. Couples started to filter onto the centre space, and Ron gave Harry a parting grin as he led Hermione off to the dance floor.
Harry set his drink down on the table, and wove his way through the crowd to where Draco was standing. Draco smiled at him as he approached, a rare light burning true in his misty grey eyes, his hair streaked with gold and silver reflected from the decorations, and Harry couldn't remember ever seeing Draco looking so beautiful, even with his clothes still on.
Harry proffered his hand, a smilingly courteous gesture. "Dance with me?"
Draco tilted his head to one side, looking contemplatively at Harry. "In front of everyone? Not worried what they'll think? Weasley might just stab me fatally if we pass them on the dance floor."
Harry laughed. "No, the ceasefire between you two lasts till midnight. There will be no bloodshed on my birthday." He paused. "And I do want you to dance with me."
Draco reached out and took Harry's extended hand. "So, I get the first dance?"
Harry pulled him close, so near that his lips brushed up against Draco's ear. "You get the first, the last, and every dance in between."
A flash of emotion ran like electricity in Draco's eyes, shattering composure, laying bare an underlying feeling so deep and pure it shone like silver diamonds in the half-light. It was so heartbreakingly sincere that it almost hurt to see it, raw and selfless.
Draco wordlessly leaned forward and kissed Harry's mouth, his hands running over the firm plane of his chest, over his shoulder blades to link around his neck. Harry received his lips graciously, letting his eyes fall closed as he immersed himself in the reality of the moment, and his hands went around Draco's back, holding him close against his own body, kissing him back, tenderly.
A distance away, from their position on the dance floor, Ron nudged Hermione and groaned. "Eurgh. Harry is kissing Malfoy." He pulled a face. "I think I'm going to throw up." He quickly manoeuvred Hermione in a half-turn, such that he was facing away from Harry and Draco.
"Well don't get sick all over my new dress, mind." Hermione glanced in Harry's direction and allowed herself a secret smile. "Come on, Ron. They look quite well, not sweet together, but... right. They look right together."
"What?" Ron half-spluttered, looking at Hermione incredulously, almost coming to standstill. "They do not look right together! He's Malfoy, Herm. They are very wrong for each other."
Hermione rested her cheek against Ron's shoulder, enjoying the warmth of his body against hers. "Do you really think so, Ron? They've been together five years now almost as long as we've been dating. Doesn't it seem like a rather persistent one-night stand?"
Ron seemed to consider this for a moment. Finally, he asked thoughtfully, "Do you think he loves him?"
"Of course Harry loves him."
Ron shook his head. "Not Harry. Malfoy." He paused. "Do you think Malfoy loves him?"
Hermione sighed, although it sounded more contented than anything else. "Just take a look at them, Ron. Look at Malfoy. Look at him just being here. He knows everyone at this party doesn't like or trust him, he knows they're whispering behind his back. What's he doing here then, if not for Harry?"
"To make a nuisance of himself, which appears to be his sole purpose of existence?" Ron suggested unhelpfully.
Hermione lifted her head and gave him a look. "And he's not even said a word to us all evening, did you notice? Because he promised Harry he wouldn't pick a fight. And did you see that birthday cake he got for Harry? It's in the shape of a stag."
"So?" Ron countered, although looking slightly put out.
"So, that is an incredibly meaningful present, you know the significance a stag holds for Harry." As she danced with Ron to the slow rhythm, she stole another furtive glance at Harry and Draco, still kissing in the shadows at one corner of the darkened room, and continued, "And you should see the way Malfoy looks at him, Ron. It's... it's like Harry is the only person in the entire room, at least the only one that really matters."
Ron rolled his eyes. "Malfoy is still an insufferable git," he iterated mutinously.
"Try and tolerate him, Ron," Hermione said gently, her hands linking around Ron's neck, drawing them closer together as they danced slowly. "For Harry's sake. It really hurts him to see you two fight. He badly wants you and Malfoy to at least be civil to each other, because both of you mean so very much to him."
Ron sighed, but relented. "Oh all right. But for the record, I still can't stand the arrogant little twerp." He pulled Hermione closer and kissed her lightly on the forehead, and caught a glimpse of Harry and Draco dancing a few feet away.
For once, Ron forced himself not to look away with disgust. Instead, he asked Hermione quietly, "Harry really loves that lucky bastard, doesn't he?"
Hermione smiled, then answered simply, "Yes, I think so."
The music played like it would never end, and they danced as if they were only waiting for forever to arrive. Standing on the brink of a new beginning, Harry felt everything swirl around him like the fresh breeze of morning, and Draco dancing so close against him completed the perfection of the moment.
The night waltzed by in a graceful rhythm, and before Harry knew it, midnight was fast approaching, and it was time to cut his cake and make his birthday wish before the day drew to a close. The other guests gradually made their way off the dance floor as Ron and Hermione went to get the cake ready.
"Harry, wait," Draco said softly, as the final song slowly drew to a close. He didn't release Harry's hand, and stayed on the dance floor. Harry looked up at him expectantly, and waited.
Draco took a deep breath. "I just wanted to say..." he hesitated again, as if the words were having trouble finding form. "You do know, right?"
Harry looked at Draco, saw the earnestness and sincerity in his eyes, and most importantly, love, pure and undefiled by the measure of bitterness that Draco had been all too familiar with for most of his life. Pale grey eyes burned with fervent truth, a heartfelt gaze that spoke more eloquently than words could ever express.
And he didn't need Draco to say it. Like the way he hadn't needed to hear Ron apologise for their misunderstanding back in their fourth year, because deep down inside he knew, and that was all that mattered.
Harry's emerald eyes softened to a mellow shade of green, and he reached over and tilted Draco's chin upwards, so he could look deeply into Draco's eyes, at everything he wanted Draco to show.
"Of course I know," he said softly, and smiled. "I've always known."
Draco relaxed, and his lips curled upwards in a relieved smile.
Harry paused, then reached forward, pulling Draco near, so close that the absence of distance between them was all that he could feel, as if everything else had faded to a shifting monochrome blur. Draco was willing and pliant in his arms, his body warm and firm and oh so beautiful in the pearly half-light suffusing the dim room.
Draco didn't say anything, just leaned forward and kissed him on his lips, so hard that he almost knocked Harry over, and Harry laughed lightly against Draco's mouth as they kissed in front of everyone, without a trace of embarrassment, drawing a roomful of curious looks and even a few indulgent smiles.
Ron looked up as a murmur of exclamation rippled across the room. He immediately saw the cause of the muted commotion, Harry and Draco kissing passionately in the middle of the dance floor; and he just shook his head, rolled his eyes and went back to lighting the candles on Harry's stag-shaped birthday cake.
Harry was breathless when he pulled away; Draco laughed, a tingle of genuine laughter so rare coming from him, and carelessly brushed aside the raised-eyebrow looks still fixed on them both. With a supreme aura of confidence that was so uniquely Draco, he led Harry off the dance floor and toward the table where his birthday cake was laid.
Harry followed him, never once letting go of Draco's hand, not even when he stood in front of his cake and smiled in a slightly bashful manner as everyone starting singing the birthday song and clapping along to its cheerful rhythm.
Draco stood by his side; he didn't sing, but gave Harry a coy sidelong glance and a wicked smile, and whispered in Harry's ear, "After this I am going to make love to you until the sun comes up tomorrow morning. I promise you that."
Harry stifled a laugh, and nudged Draco to silence him, although the warm shiver that coursed up his spine told a different story.
Draco grinned, then leaned over and kissed him tenderly on the cheek. "Happy Birthday, Harry."
Harry smiled, and said nothing; he didn't need to.
He hadn't even blown out the candles, Harry reflected thoughtfully, and his wish had already come true.
The smile on your face
lets me know that you need me,
There's a truth in your eyes saying you'll never leave me
The touch of your hand says you'll catch me wherever I fall
You say it best, when you say nothing at all.
- "When You Say Nothing At All", Ronan Keating
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