[personal profile] valentine_veela
Title: Speak Now, Or Forever Hold Your Peace In Pieces
Author: [profile] redsbball61
Pairing: Harry Potter/Neville Longbottom; one-sided Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy
Prompt #: 151
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: ~3,039 words
Summary: Harry’s getting married and he’s happy, but Ron can’t help but think, as he watches Draco and remembers what happened that led to this, that things didn’t turn out the way they should have.
Warning(s): (highlight to read) *1st person POV; a bittersweet, sad ending (some may consider it unhappy); future fic; EWE*
Betas: Many, many thanks to my betas [personal profile] spnsmithie, Taylor, and [personal profile] khasael for whipping this fic into shape. I couldn’t have done it without any of you.
Disclaimer: This piece of art or fiction is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made, no copyright or trademark infringement, or offence is intended. All characters depicted in sexual situations are above the age of consent.
Author's Note: Title taken from the song “Down and Out” by The Academy Is…


_____



Speak Now, Or Forever Hold Your Peace In Pieces


June 27th, 2005


As Harry says ‘I do’ to the love of his life, I can't help but glance at Draco.

Unsurprisingly, Draco's staring at Harry, his heart in his eyes, which I can see are wet. Draco's not the type to cry, but I understand; it's a special circumstance, after all.

And when Harry leans in to kiss his new husband, to seal their bond, Draco turns away from the sight, eyes closed, a single tear slipping down his pale cheek.

Everyone claps when the preacher announces Harry and Neville as married, both of them joyously smiling at each other and their gathered family and friends. But once again, Draco is the one my eyes are drawn to.

I can't imagine the pain he's in, or how his heart must be breaking. I wish I could
comfort him, but nothing I could ever do will make a difference.

Draco looks as perfect as ever at the reception; poised and collected in his immaculate tuxedo, long hair loose and framing his face, sipping champagne and smiling as he talks to Hermione. No one would guess that not half an hour ago, he was seconds away from a breakdown.

I don't understand how he can act so unaffected. Harry is married to Neville, and Draco did nothing to stop it. Nothing. Instead, he helped Harry plan the wedding and allowed it to be in the Manor’s garden! It's enough to make me want to scream.

Draco tried to explain his reasoning to me several times, but I didn't understand then, and after today, after seeing the light in Draco’s eyes dim, all of his dreams and hopes disappear as Harry says his vows, I know I will never understand how he could let this happen.

Thinking back, I remember how it started, but I never realised just how bittersweet it would end.

_____


September 1st, 2000


Draco becomes friends with Harry and I when we start Auror training a couple years after the War. It’s tense at first, but ultimately we are civil to each other. Harry especially is tired of fighting, and I don't want to waste the energy taunting Draco when I could spend it getting through training. Thankfully, Draco has no interest in resuming our animosity, either. In fact, he goes out of his way to be courteous to us, and, afraid of breaking the fragile truce, Harry and I return the gesture, letting go of the past and starting fresh.

It’s soon clear that the War changed Draco. He isn't the mean, angry boy he was in Hogwarts, anymore than I was the jealous, rash hothead. We are different people now and we have grown up. Before I realise what happened, Draco’s joining Harry and I at The Leaky Cauldron for a pint after work, seamlessly fitting in with us as if he has always been there.

To my shock, I find myself liking Draco, and it isn't long before I stop referring to him as "Malfoy" and use his given name instead. And unlike Harry, I’m not oblivious. I know Draco likes me well enough, but I can also tell he’s in love with Harry within weeks of us becoming close.

It’s obvious in every look he gives Harry, every time he brings Harry his favourite coffee, or stays late to help him finish his paperwork.

Draco is in love with my best friend, and Harry has no idea.

_____


February 22nd, 2001


As time goes on, I realise that I watch Draco a lot, always wondering why he doesn't ever hint at his feelings. Harry’s gay, and I can admit, even being solely attracted to women, that Draco is gorgeous, and a good person. They were close, and I felt that given a chance, Harry and Draco could be happy together. But then, Harry is dating Neville; he has been since right after the War, so I suppose it makes sense that Draco won't say anything.

But Draco loves Harry so much. He never confessed it to me, but I can feel Draco's love every time he looks at Harry, talks to him, is even in the same room as him. It’s powerful, so powerful, that I can't help but be awed by it. Draco longs for Harry with every fiber of his being, and his absolute, unconditional love is heartbreaking.

I feel bad for it, but I want Draco with Harry, despite the hurt it will cause both Harry and Neville. Neville’s my friend, a good friend, and Harry is happy with him, but as much as Neville loves Harry, it can never compete with the depth of Draco’s love.

I can’t understand how dense Harry is. Can't he see how much Draco loves him, how much he wants to be with him? How much it hurts to know Harry belongs to someone else?

I would give anything for someone to love me as Draco loves Harry.

_____


August 2th, 2002


I only find out that Draco is a Veela by accident.

One day, a few years after we finished our Auror training, the three of us run into Bill and Fleur in Diagon Alley, and we spend a little bit of time catching up before parting ways. Bill and Fleur invite us to dinner with them for some more time together. Harry has a date with Neville that night, and I know Draco will politely decline, but I’m eager to spend time with my brother, sister-in-law, and my niece, so I accept.

That night I get one of the greatest shocks of my life, when Fleur casually asks me why no one told her about Draco's Veela heritage.

_____


August 4th, 2002


As soon as Draco opens the door I brush by him, not waiting for an invitation in. "Harry's your mate, isn't he?" I ask, not bothering to be subtle. It never was my forte, anyway.

Draco doesn’t respond, looking at the floor.

“He is, isn’t he?” I repeat. “It’s obvious Draco, you might as well admit it.” I know I may be overreacting, but I’m hurt that he kept this huge secret from me. We’re supposed to be friends. Why didn’t he tell me? Did he think he couldn’t trust me?

"Yes, all right? Harry is my mate," Draco spits out, turning away from me.

That's all I get, but it's all I need. In those few words, there is a wealth of love, longing, anger, and despair, telling me everything I could possibly want to know, and even some things I don't. Draco's pain is palpable.

"How long have you known?" I ask next, softening my voice.

When I confronted Draco, demanding to know if he was actually a Veela, he was surprised, but he didn't deny it. He was just part Veela, he told me. He didn't have any special abilities or powers, and he didn’t turn into a bird when angered. In fact, his ethereal beauty and need for a mate were the only gifts of his inheritance.

It only took me a couple days to realise that if Draco is a Veela, Harry is his mate, which is why I am here now.

"Since I was twenty, but I've been in love with Harry for longer than that. You must have known that, though.”

"Fuck," I respond, unable to say anything else.

I know that Pure Veela come into their inheritance when they turn seventeen. Part Veela, though, are different, and they can receive their inheritance anytime after they turn seventeen. If it doesn't happen by the time the Veela is twenty-two or so, it's likely the Veela genes are dormant.

How Veela choose a mate is unique to every individual Veela, but in Draco's case it was obvious: he had been in love with Harry long before he matured.

He likely knew as soon as he inherited that Harry was his mate, so why didn’t he tell anyone? Even just two years is a long time for a Veela to live without his or her mate. It can be done—Veela don’t die from never mating—but I’m surprised Draco was able to hold his silence for so long without breaking down, especially considering how often he saw Harry. It must be torture to work with Harry every day, be so close to him, but not be able to have him. The longing and desire must be overwhelming.

“How, Draco? How do you live each day without Harry?”

"The best I can," he replies firmly, his whole demeanor changing from resignation to determination, and then I realise just how strong a person he really is.

_____


October 14th, 2002


I lose count of how many times I think about telling Harry about Draco. I try, but I can’t understand why Draco keeps his silence. My loyalty is torn between them. On the one hand, Harry is my best friend; we’ve been through a lot together, and I feel he deserves to know. On the other, Draco is important to me, as well, and it’s not my place to reveal Draco’s secret.

I go back and forth, making up my mind to tell Harry, but then deciding against it at the last minute. It’s very irritating.

Ultimately, it’s Draco pleading with me, begging me, to never tell Harry. “Please, Ron, you can’t tell him. You can’t ever tell him. It’ll ruin everything.”

My heart constricts. I don’t know if that is a promise I can make. “Draco…”

“No!” he yells, almost hysterically. “Promise me, Ron. Promise me you won’t tell him.”

I can’t ignore Draco’s fearful, desperate pleas. He’s already in so much pain, and I can’t add to that, no matter my own feelings. It’s Draco choice whether to tell Harry or not, not mine, and I have to respect that. “Okay, Draco,” I sigh, resigned and hoping I’m making the right choice. “I won’t tell him.”

_____


April 25th, 2005


"What do you mean you aren't going to do anything?!" I rage, waving my arms about.

Draco is unaffected by my outburst. "I'm not going to do anything other than what I've done for the past five years: support Harry in everything he does."

I stare at Draco incredulously for a moment, and then I explode again. "What the hell, Draco! Harry's marrying Neville in two months, and you're telling me you're not going to do anything to stop it?"

Draco looks away, briefly closing his eyes before he turns back to face me. His eyes are blank, emotionless, as he answers, "No."

“I can’t believe you! You can’t possibly want Harry to marry Neville. You love him. Please do something! Anything.” Ten years ago, I would have never imagined myself pleading with Draco Malfoy to break up my best friend’s engagement. But here I am. “If you let Harry go, it’ll be the biggest mistake of your life.”

I can see that my words have shaken him, but just when I think he may be coming around, his eyes harden. “No. I’m not going to do anything to stop Harry’s wedding.”

"But he's your mate!" I yell, finally reaching the end of my patience.

Draco flinches—from my tone or what I said, I can’t know. "It doesn’t matter."

His voice is so soft I barely hear him, and just like that, my anger drains away. "How can it not matter?"

Draco looks me in the eye. "Because Harry is in love with Neville," he answers, and I don't have a response to that, because it's true.

_____


May 30th, 2005


Despite all his past assurances that he was fine with Harry marrying Neville, I never believed him. Harry’s his mate; how can he possibly be okay with not being with him?

“It’s not about me, Ron,” Draco says again, a hint of annoyance in his tone. “It’s about Harry.”

And just like the previous three times we’ve had this conversation, his answer doesn’t satisfy me. “Whether you admit it or not, this is about you, too. Don’t you think Harry deserves to know that he’s your mate?”

“It doesn’t matter what I think,” Draco says flatly, and I grind my teeth so I don’t yell at him. I want to knock some sense into him. “Harry loves Neville. Harry’s going to marry Neville. Harry will be happy, and then I will be happy.”

It sounds rehearsed, but the words are heartbreakingly sincere.

“Harry is my mate,” Draco says, his voice sad now. “It’s my duty to ensure his happiness in any way that I can. And if that happiness doesn’t include me, that’s okay.”

But it could include you I want to scream, but Draco walks away.

_____


June 27th, 2005


When I finally get Draco alone, everyone is settling themselves down to dinner. Pulling him off to the side, I blurt, "Are you okay?"

Draco looks at me strangely. "I’m fine."

My eyes narrow. "Don't give me that shite," I hiss, already fed up with him and his self-sacrificing bullshit. "I saw you, Draco, I saw you during the ceremony. You're not okay. Why are you doing this? Why didn't you say anything? Stop this?"

I know I must sound desperate, but I am. Draco’s been in love with Harry for at least five years, and he’s never done anything! I want to shake him until I knock some sense into him, and he realises how foolish he’s been by never confessing.

Draco’s been suffering for so long. I tried so many times to get through to him over the years, urging him to come clean, but my words always fell on deaf ears, and it kills me to see Draco wasting away, pining after Harry. Harry, the most oblivious idiot I’ve ever met, who goes on his merry way, not knowing the truth.

“Why, Draco?” I repeat helplessly. I just want to understand.

A weary light enters his eyes, and he sighs. "What do you want from me, Ron?" he asks quietly.

"I want you to care!"

My words seem to pain him. He looks stricken.

"You think I don't care?" he asks softly. "You think I don't care that my mate, my mate, married someone today, and that someone wasn't me?" He shakes his head, a sad smile crossing his face. "I care more than you can comprehend. That's why I'm doing this."

“But Draco–,”

“Leave it, Ron,” Draco hisses, anger underlying his tone. “I don’t want to hear it.”

He stalks away then, and I let him, feeling more confused than before.

**

Everyone gathers around the lavish, five-tiered cake to watch Harry and Neville cut it and feed a bit to each other as per tradition. It’s a simple, but beautifully designed white cake, and looks delicious. I hate myself a little for thinking about food when Draco's in so much pain, but I can't help it; I’m hungry.

Harry and Neville smile fondly at one another as they cut it, the guests watching eagerly. They both look so happy, so in love, and I want to share in their happiness, support them on their wedding day like I should as Harry’s best friend, but all I can think is that they don’t know. They don’t know anything.

Once again, almost against my will, my eyes seek out Draco. It doesn’t take long to find him. He’s standing alone, watching Harry and Neville as raptly as the other guests are. The small smile on his face is genuine, and when he laughs along with everyone else when Neville smashes his bit of cake on Harry’s smiling face rather than putting it in his mouth, I frown.

I still don’t understand. What is wrong with him?

**

When Draco announces that he wants to make a toast to the newly married couple, I nearly spit out my drink. What the fuck is he thinking? It's bad enough that he had to come to the wedding and watch Harry pledge himself to another man, but now he wants to publicly announce his support? Is he looking to punish himself, because I can’t think of another reason for his behavior.

Draco walks up to Harry and Neville, who have their arms around each other, with a smile. "Most of you know that Harry and I haven't always been friends," Draco starts, and a few people in the gathered crowd chuckle. "But now... Harry is my best friend, and I'm glad that I can be here, at his wedding, to support him and share in his happiness."

Draco pauses, obviously collecting himself, and my heart pounds in my chest. Draco's a private person, and to show this much emotion in public, to admit to so much... I don't even know what to think, how to respond to this. I've never seen Draco so vulnerable.

"And I, as well as everyone else, can see how deeply you and Neville care for one another. See the love and pure joy on your faces when you look at each other, knowing that you've finally committed yourselves to one another officially."

Draco pauses again, sighing. He turns to Harry, his love clear in his eyes, and I look around, wondering how these people can be so blind. Am I the only one who can see that Draco loves Harry? How wrong this is? That it should be Draco in Harry’s arms, not Neville?

"You deserve so much, Harry, and I know Neville can give you all that you deserve. I'd do everything in my power to see you happy, Harry. That's all I ever wanted; to see you happy."

The truth and sincerity and desperate love in Draco’s words shoot through me, and, at that moment, something clicks. All of Draco’s declarations, his actions, his reasons for his silence, they all fall into place, and I’m left reeling from the realisation.

Watching him toast Harry and Neville, putting Harry’s happiness above his own until the very end, I think I’m finally beginning to understand.

Draco holds up his champagne glass. “To Harry and Neville,” he says, smiling softly.

“To Harry and Neville,” the crowd repeats, everyone drinking to the toast, including me.

Once again, Draco amazes me with his strength and selflessness, and right now, I’ve never felt closer to him. And even though I have to accept reality as Draco already has done, I still have hope that one day, Draco will have his own happy ending. After all, he deserves it.

THE END

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