It was the closest they had ever been, by what felt like a million miles.
At first, when they'd stepped out to the dance floor with flushed cheeks, hardly able to look at one another, she'd been sure they'd never move past awkwardly swaying a foot apart, his right hand so light on her waist and his left gently clasping her right, no more than pleasantly close friends. He finally spoke, a joke about one of his brothers, immediately forgettable because she'd been too distracted by the low roughness of his voice, speaking only loud enough for her. One song had faded and her heart had hammered insistently, silently begging this not to be over. She needed so much more. Please, please. Did he need that, too?
He hadn't exactly asked, just adjusted his hand in hers, and she'd taken that minuscule sign for a chance to change. Her fingers slid delicately in between his, and she watched his neck move as he swallowed.
Their second song had been a bit faster, prompting laughter and feet bumping into each other. He'd looked at her with his most delightfully lopsided grin, and she'd embarrassed herself by giggling back. But she'd forgotten to mind almost immediately, as his large, warm hand had slipped subtly from her waist to her back.
The third song had started off much too slow, and she'd been certain it was all going to end, they'd avert their eyes and make excuses to go for drinks, return to Harry's table, anything at all. But either three glasses of (almost definitely) spiked punch or the simple fact that they'd been holding hands for seven minutes straight had clearly made them both careless… or silently and heart-stoppingly honest, or some combination of the two.
He'd hugged her. That was the only way to properly describe what it was. Fingers still entwined, his arm wrapped low around her waist, the front of her body lightly pressed against his, and they were hardly moving anymore. Her eyes were just level with his shoulder, able to stare over at the crowds who were mostly ignoring everyone else around them. She leaned even further into him, as if this was normal, as if she could do this any time she liked… and she closed her eyes.
She could feel his breath by her temple, warm and a bit shallow and quick, and if she held her own breath for a moment, she thought she could feel his heart beating hard… though it could have just as likely been her own. An exhilaration she had never felt before bloomed through her body, goosepimples racing down her arms, and a strange sort of half-drunken comfort dragged her closer still toward his warmth. His head was ducked slightly, and though she couldn't see his face, even when she opened her eyes again, she could imagine his fringe falling choppy and beautiful across his freckled forehead.
She lightly rested her own forehead on his collarbone, and, for a second, she was frozen in fear of having gone too far. Until he tilted his head just enough to touch his cheek to her hair. And left it there. And curled his knuckles so his fingertips dug into the fabric of her dress.
For a brief moment, she thought she might cry, she was so overwhelmed. How long could a wedding last? Forever. Forever. She'd stay on her aching feet for the rest of their lives. She felt his chest press into hers as he inhaled deeply and sighed. He smelled like the freshly mown grass of the gardens, a hint of some sort of cologne his brother must have lent him… and Ron.
They wouldn't talk about it. The silence said words they could never speak out loud. But her ears were exposed from her plaited hair, wispy tendrils having broken free, and she could feel his breath move lower. His parted lips were so close to her ear.
She listened so intently, all awareness shifting to that almost connection, her feet nearly numb with anticipation. Of what?
Anywhere it could go. Anything he could do or say or make her feel without trying. She irrationally and desperately wanted to switch places with him just long enough to feel what he felt, to know for sure if her hopeful suspicions were anything close to realistic.
"Do you want to stop?" he asked in a raspy whisper, sending a wave of shivers down her spine. And she suddenly realised the song had changed again. Faster.
They weren't moving at all anymore.
She shook her head, which had the unexpected effect of causing his mouth to brush over her ear. She felt his body go tense, his hand grip the back of her dress just a little bit tighter.
She turned her head, a glorious mistake as her nose bumped against his jaw and she found herself locking onto his eyes, her lips so close to his chin.
"Do you?" she trembled.
It wasn't just his own erratic breathing now. Both their chests were heaving together as if they'd run a straight mile to arrive there.
His lips wrapped around the almost inaudible word "no," and-
The striking sound of shrill laughter cut past them, and she turned her head the other way, startled and halfway in search of the source.
He cleared his throat.
"Another drink first?"
She didn't even know what she wanted. What existed outside the circle of their arms, anymore? But she heard herself replying.
He let go of her and vanished so quickly through the crowd. His absence gave her time to exhale, hugging her arms across her chest. If they needed excuses to touch each other, this had been a bloody good one. She noticed too late that a giddy smile had spread across her face.
He was back so quickly she didn't have time to feel awkward, standing there alone.
"Here," he said brightly, handing her a glass.
The music seemed to be increasing in both speed and volume as she thanked him and drank. The cool liquid had been a good idea, after all. The butterflies in her stomach kept flying, but her internal temperature lowered just a notch, enough to keep her flushed face from setting fire.
"What are we even meant to do to these fast ones?" he asked as he gorgeously swallowed his drink and smirked at her.
"It doesn't matter," she laughed, and he took her empty glass, long arms serving well as he managed to reach for a passing, hovering tray to set them down.
"C'mere," he muttered, and she stepped up close, resuming an approximation of their previous position, his arm around her and their hands clasped together. "This was better," he added, to her temple, muffled by her hair. She flattened her free hand to his back and sighed, nodding agreement.
As the fourth song faded to a close, she managed to view his face in her periphery, stunned to find his eyes gently shut, a colourful flush painted across his nose and cheeks, lips ever so slightly parted.
She'd never wanted to kiss him more in her life.
Desperately fighting it, she let go of his hand, startling his eyes open until she looped her arms around his neck, craving to be closer. His body relaxed as her pulse increased, both arms wrapping round her waist.
"Dancing's not so bad, is it?" she whispered to the side of his neck, voice half buried in a new, upbeat song.
"No. S'brilliant," she felt him mumble. And she was sure, this time, that that lively thump thump thump was his heart, making sure to keep up with her own.