Originally Posted: Oct 24, 2008
They were happy.
That much was obvious. Any fool could look at them and see that. Harry hadn't stopped smiling since they arrived, and Hermione's laughter trailed them as they socialized and danced. Everywhere they went, people stopped and talked to them. The ring on her right hand was new, sparkling every time she gestured while talking. The perfect couple. Without him.
Draco watched them and hated them more with every passing minute. No, he only wished that it was hate. That would make it easier. He knew hate, recognized it and found it comforting. It was familiar. What he felt now wasn't, and that's what he hated. It was easy to blame them. It didn't matter that it had been his choice to leave, that he'd been the one to refuse to even try their ridiculous suggestions of a relationship, that he'd given in to the pressure of his family and tradition. There had never been a choice.
Their relationship had been private, their secret, and that was when it had been safe. For over a year, they'd kept it quiet. No one knew what happened between the three of them, about the heated nights and sleepy mornings. They'd ruined it, though. Insisting that it didn't matter what anyone thought or said about them, that three was better than two, that they shouldn't have to hide something that mattered to them. When they curled up on either side of him and talked about the future, it had been so easy to believe them and think it was possible.
Stupid Gryffindors. They had lived in some dream world where they thought that everyone accepted them and that no one would care if they were shagging a former Death Eater that most of the world hated and resented. If they'd got their way, they'd have learned a harsh lesson of reality. They'd have lost all their little friends, lost their reputations, lost everything, and it wasn't worth it. He wasn't worth it. It wasn't about protecting them, though. He'd spent years trying to get what little respect he had now, and losing it wasn't an option, not even for them.
He looked away quickly when Harry caught him staring. When he glanced back, Hermione was looking at him while Harry whispered in her ear. He straightened his shoulders and nodded towards them, a polite greeting, cold and aloof. It hurt when they returned his nod, their smiles and laughter faded in an instant as he recognized shadows and sadness. Then, it was gone as they turned to each other and embraced, sharing a moment that he hadn't been part of for nearly a year.
With a shake of his head, he tightened his grip on his glass and walked away. He was good at that, after all. Besides, his new wife was waiting, and he had the role of doting husband to play. As he reached her, his attention drifted back to Harry and Hermione. There was no point in having regrets. He'd married the girl that his parents had chosen, and he was carrying on the family tradition like a good son. It didn't matter what might have been, not when they were better off without him.
They were happy.