Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or any of the series' characters. They belong to J.K. Rowling, so don't sue me!

Summary: When Ron becomes engaged to the returned Fleur Delacour (from "Goblet of Fire", remember?), someone very unexpected shows Hermione that perhaps Ron wasn't the guy for her after all . . .

Pairings: a little bit of Harry/Ginny, Ron/Fleur, and a lot of Hermione/?

NOTE: For the sake of the story, let's say that Harry, Hermione and Ron are in their sixth year at Hogwarts. In the story, James and Lily Potter got married when they were seventeen and had Harry just under a year later. Sirius was a year younger than James. That means Remus Lupin is now 34 years old, and Sirius Black is 33.

Voldemort has been defeated and killed (sorry, this story won't have any good vs. evil), and the sixth-years are enjoying school and are working under the pressure of passing exams, blah blah blah. Typical teenage woes.

Okay, on with the story!

** *


Chapter One - Guess Who's Back

* **

Harry Potter picked up his wand and literally raced off the Hogwarts Express. He hadn't been able to spend the last week of holidays with Ron this time, and so Uncle Vernon had, of course, dropped him off at the station late. He had only just managed to leap into a carriage of the train, and exhausted, hadn't been able to find his friends.

He looked around the sea of faces for any of the other Gryffindor sixth- years. Unable to stop grinning, he was in a particularly good mood because there was nothing to worry about in the Dark Lord aspect, and it was always great to be back at old Hogwarts.

However, there was a strange nagging at the back of his mind, one that seemed to be somewhat depressing. What was there to be concerned about? He thought about it, but his mind was still half-asleep and fuddled. He couldn't for the life of him pinpoint what was niggling at him.

"Harry! Oi, Harry!" a voice roared over the babble of voices.

Harry turned around and beamed at Hagrid, Keeper of Hogwarts and Care of Magical Creatures teacher. The half-giant was also one of Harry's best friends.

"Hey, Hagrid!" he gasped as the man engulfed him in a crushing hug. "Hagrid - even if you - don't need to - breath, I - do."

Hagrid chuckled and released him. "Great to see you again, Harry. How've ya been?"

"Pretty good, Hagrid, what 'bout you?"

"Survivin', survivin'." The Gamekeeper grinned. "So where are Hermione and Ron?"

Harry's elated expression suddenly sobered. That was it. The nagging thing.

He remembered now the letter Ron had written him during the holidays, giving him rather astonishing news. In a Muggle world, Harry would have been sure the act was illegal, but apparently, in the magical world, it was allowed.

Admittedly, Harry was happy for Ron, but he couldn't help but feel a certain sadness at the thought of telling Hermione, which was exactly what Ron had requested he do, so that Hermione would be prepared when she and Ron came face to face.

"Harry?" Hagrid was peering at him in concern.

Harry grinned. "They're around here, I'm sure." He said. "Ron's bringing a new student with him. She just transferred from another school, a sixth- year too. You might know her, Hagrid."

Hagrid was just about to ask who this transfer student was, when Hermione's excited squeal distracted him.

The pretty teenage girl raced across the platform and threw herself at Harry. He hugged her enthusiastically, as glad as she was to see her again. "Hey there, Hermione," he said with a smile. "It's been a while, huh?"

"Too long." She hugged Hagrid too, and peered around. "Hey - where's Ron?" Harry noticed that she looked particularly disappointed that Ronald Weasley wasn't there.

"He'll probably meet us at the castle." Harry responded. "Listen, Hermione, I need to talk to you."

She looked surprised and concerned at his tone. She nodded. "Okay, let's get to the castle."

They did, greeting Professor McGonagall and Madam Hooch on the way. Finally, just outside the Hall where the Sorting Ceremony would be taking place, Harry pulled Hermione into a corner, his face rather sober.

"Harry, what's wrong?" she asked.

"It's Ron, 'Mione." He said, using the affectionate nickname his godfather had made for her.

Hermione's face paled slightly, but she asked calmly. "Is he all right? What happened?"

"Nothing like that," Harry assured her hastily. "He's fine. It's just that - that - "

She stared at him. "Come on, Harry, if he's fine, it can't be that bad. Spit it out."

"You probably won't like this." He warned her softly.

"There are a lot of things I don't like." She said, making him marvel at her nonchalance. She had been through as much grief and pain as he had during their battle with Voldemort.

He sighed. "Hermione - Ron's engaged."

She blinked. "With what?"

"Uh - no," he said reluctantly. "I mean: he's engaged . . . to be married."

He didn't know what he expected from her; maybe anger, maybe astonishment, probably tears. He had always known Ron and Hermione had had something between them, so the news from Ron had come as a shock. He waited now, with some apprehension and sympathy, for his other best friend's reaction.

She wasn't angry. She didn't cry. She raised an eyebrow.

"Don't you have to be over eighteen to legally get married?" she asked, frowning slightly. "Or are things different in this world?"

"Different," he confirmed. "The wedding date has been set for her eighteenth birthday, which is a month after Ron's. But until then, they can be officially and unbreakably engaged - unless one of them calls it off."

She nodded. "I see. I have to say, I never thought Ron would be the first of us to get married." She smiled. "I always thought it would be you and Ginny, Harry."

Harry could feel a blush creep into his cheeks. After the crush he had had on Cho Chang, he had been sure there would be no one else. Until Ginny Weasely had shown him that there was more to romance than a passing crush. But Ginny and Harry weren't officially a couple, and Harry preferred to keep it that way - he didn't think he could put up with Malfoy making fun of Ginny without cursing the slimy git. However, he didn't think he and Ginny were really serious either.

"Yeah, well." He mumbled, rubbing the back of his neck self-consciously. "Ron had surprised us many times, and I'll admit, 'Mione, he shocked me."

Hermione was quiet for a moment, and Harry saw a flash of pain and panic cross her eyes for a fleeting instant. She was feeling it.

"Who is she?" she asked quietly.

"Uhhh," Harry stammered, not really wanting to go into this part of the topic. "She's - well, you know her - she was here two years ago - uh, I don't know if you remember . . ."

"Hmm." Hermione snorted, much to clever not to pick up on this. "I think I know exactly who you're talking about. Great news." She chuckled. "You have to admit - this will be interesting."

Harry admired her composure. Hermione was always so strong and smart; she knew exactly how to deal with things and how to act. But somehow, he knew she was hurting.

Hermione was hurting very badly. She had actually thought she and Ron might someday get together, and - oh, well. What was the point in thinking about what could never be now? The problem was: Hermione had actually believed she was in love with Ron, and that he cared about her.

She knew Harry could see right through her convincing smile and cool calm, so when he gave her a sudden hug, she wasn't surprised and hugged him back.

Footsteps echoed on the stairs. "Oh, my, isn't this sweet? Potter and Granger, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G." Draco Malfoy's voice drawled.

Hermione lifted her wand and flung a Jelly-Legs curse at him. He gaped at her in dismay and stumbled into the Great Hall is search of his wand to counteract it.

"What a temper." A familiar voice laughed from behind them.

Both Harry and Hermione turned to see the kind, welcome face of Remus Lupin, one of James Potter's best friends and incidentally, a werewolf.

"Professor Lupin!" Hermione squealed and hugged him. He grinned and hugged her and then Harry. "What are you doing here?"

"Well, actually," he coughed. "I'm here to replace Professor Trelawney as Divination teacher."

Harry's jaw dropped. "You're joking! Why are you teaching Divination, for God's sake, Professor Lupin?"

"It's actually a very interesting, useful form of magic," Remus told them. "When taught right, of course." His eyes twinkled.

They laughed and even Hermione seemed to be forgetting about Ron's engagement, when two more people strolled up the stairs. Hermione felt her heart sink as she took in Ron Weasely and Fleur Delacour, apparently ex- Beauxbatons student.

Ron stared at Hermione for a moment, and even Remus noticed the tense silence. Then it was broken as he grinned at Harry and then at Professor Lupin.

Looking at Fleur and then Lupin, Harry and Ron both said in unison: "Guess who's back!"

** To Be Continued.


A/N: Well, this is my first Harry Potter fic. I had this idea and I had to get it out - it came from my own experience (don't ask!). This chapter is kinda short, but the length will increase in the other chapters.

Please review and tell me whether you guys like this. Feedback will be very much appreciated. As for those who think this is heading in a Harry/Hermione direction . . . well, you'll have to wait, won't you? ;-) Enjoy!