Author – Chibi/Warlordess

Disclaimer – I don't own Harry Potter. He is a product of JK Rowling's imagination and for that, I salute and worship her. Just so you know who you're dealing with. Lol.

Summary – Ron's discussion with Harry about how and why Hermione turns the redhead down for a relationship. Uhm, a Harmony fic, I suppose.

Dedication – To my friends and fellow Harmony shippers at The USA, including Chibi-B, Silvie, and PainesSorrow! I love you, gals!

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Title – The Bigger Man

One-Shot

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"What's your trouble, mate…?" Harry yawned as he scribbled a few notes down onto his parchment, where he was writing an Astronomy essay, noticing Ron's very… Awkward… Expression as he collapsed onto one of the soft armchairs next to the fire.

It was late, probably past midnight, and they had classes tomorrow. Harry hadn't expected anyone to be up save for himself, and he was only in the common room in order to finish some overdue homework… Otherwise he'd have to answer to Hermione's wrath. Then again, Ron was a Prefect and, since he'd just come from The Fat Lady's portrait hole, it could have been surmised that he was just making his rounds.

"I… I blew it, Harry…" He said weakly, giving a very timid grin as though, on some plane, he was hoping that no one would suspect anything was wrong with him.

Harry raised an eyebrow, obviously not following. Ron hadn't been exactly specific, after all.

"I told Hermione that I… I fancied her, had for awhile, you know, and she told me…" This was all it took for Harry to drop his quill and stare open-mouthed at his friend. He'd not even known before that night that Ron felt for Hermione in that way, "She said no."

"No…?" Harry quoted, as if this was a poor finish to a wondrous tale, "What, there were no tears? No apologies?"

"Oh, there were tears; plenty. Y-you know Hermione…" He joked meekly, although Harry saw through him completely, "Yea, she started crying and looked away and, well, by that time, I knew that what she was going to say to me was going to be nothing good…"

"Wait; how long have you…?" Harry got up from his chair and moved to a spot more comfortable, and one right close to Ron, "You know, how long since you started…?"

"I think it was around… Fourth year… Possibly the end of Third." Ron wasn't looking at him, which Harry'd hoped he might, as it would help him assess how deeply his friend was hurting. Perhaps this lack of eye contact in itself was a message.

"Really…? Well, sorry, Ron… If I'd known that you fancied her, I'd have tried to help you out. I dunno what I could have done, exactly, but I'd have tried to—" He was interrupted by a short bark of laughter, "What? What is it?"

"You don't see it, do you? I suppose it doesn't matter, as I've suspected it for awhile now." Ron looked at him for the first time since his re-entry into the House that night and Harry saw a fleeting glimpse of withered irritation on his face, "You're the reason she turned me down, Harry; she told me so, you know. She not one to be unclear about emotions, Hermione."

"Me? What do I have to do with you two?" It was only now that the bespeckled boy came to see why his friend was acting so off, "I mean, if she was worried that I'd, you know, feel like a third wheel, then she could have just asked me and—"

"Would you have told her that you wouldn't? And that it'd be okay to go along with this?" Ron asked and, a few moments later when Harry hadn't answered, he continued to speak, "In any case, it doesn't matter. That wasn't why she refused me."

"Well, then, why--?"

"It's because she loves you, mate!" Ron half-shouted, as if this was the most obvious thing in the world.

"…Have I been in some sort of coma for the past three years or what? How come I haven't noticed any of this going on with you or her?" Harry changed the topic, not wanting to even believe what he'd heard. It was too much to process in one night that one of his friends was in love with the other, who was indeed in love with him.

"Harry, she's been mad about you since Third year! I suppose that I knew that when I asked her… But if you haven't noticed it then you're quite possibly thicker than I am." There wasn't a trace of guilt or shamelessness on Ron's face as he said this, "Honestly, Harry, it's not that hard to see, what with how she always stood by your side, how she always assisted you in whatever way you needed her, and no matter how many times she tried to talk us out of our plans, in the end, if you were willing to give them a go, she always came along. Only because of you, Harry."

"It can't all be because of me…" Harry replied faintly, "I mean, what about--?"

The two boys stared at each other, both knowing that whatever Harry tried to say would have no effect on the situation. And so they sat in a stony silence because neither could think of much else to say.

"Where is Hermione…?" Harry questioned, glancing at the portrait hole as though she'd appear on a whim at his beckoning.

"I think that our… Talk… Earlier on this evening embarrassed her. She doesn't want you to know what's gone on, I'm sure." Ron's brow creased and he sighed deeply.

"Then why are you telling me! It's not like I wanted to know either!" Harry stated maddeningly, "Really, Ron, what are you saying all of this to me for? I don't understand."

"I want you both to know that… I am not so desperate to have her that I wouldn't face the fact that I can't have her since she doesn't want me. She wants you, and I'm letting you know that because I want you to know what you've never seen before, but what has always been right in front of you all of this time. Have you ever realized just how much she is to you? Have you ever thought of it?"

Harry couldn't honestly say that he had. In truth, he'd always considered Hermione a decent, positively brilliant friend, but he'd always been too preoccupied with either other girls or his troubles with Voldemort to think about her otherwise. It had crossed his mind that she was worth an infinity of material items, but then again, what friend wasn't?

"I know that you used to be infatuated with Cho, and that Cedric and Sirius' deaths distracted you from that romantic part of your life, but she's always going to be the one at your side when it truly comes down to it." Ron's voice echoed somewhere in the back of Harry's mind, but his own thoughts were now such a priority that that's where his tone remained.

Perhaps he hadn't really taken a chance to look at Hermione the way she'd hoped he would. Well, obviously, actually. But could he really bring himself to find such fondness in such an incredible friend when he was caught up in so many other things at once? Did he have any room in his challenged soul for a love of any type at this point? What was he going to miss out on in an entirety while fulfilling the prophecy that he lived for?

This was more than Harry had ever bargained for when coming of age. He couldn't bring himself to say that he and Hermione didn't have a chance, but how could he take that chance when every other person he'd bothered to get close to had died, or come close to death, at some point or another? Would Hermione be just another weak point for Voldemort to exploit if he, Harry, accepted her into his heart and the two of them lived in love? Would Harry be able to prevent something happening to her if, indeed, it came to Voldemort taking her captive, or threatening her life in any way?

"Harry; if there's any doubt in your mind that you and Hermione are just friends, then look into that now, while you have the chance, before you end up breaking her heart like she broke mine." Harry awoke from his reminiscing to hear this statement from Ron.

Doubt… Well, he doubted a lot of things at this time. He doubted he was going to live through his seventeenth year, he doubted that he was going to pass his Sixth year at Hogwarts, he doubted he was going to become an Auror upon leaving the school, he doubted… Oh, how he doubted.

Was there anything in his life that he was certain of anymore?

"I know that you used to be infatuated with Cho, and that Cedric and Sirius' deaths distracted you from that romantic part of your life, but she's always going to be the one at your side when it truly comes down to it." Ron had said, and it was probably truer than anything else at this point, that Hermione'd always be there for him. Why should he have any reason to doubt her? She'd always been there for him so far…

"Honestly, Harry, it's not that hard to see, what with how she always stood by your side, how she always assisted you in whatever way you needed her, and no matter how many times she tried to talk us out of our plans, in the end, if you were willing to give them a go, she always came along. Only because of you, Harry." It seemed so obvious, so easy to believe now. How could he have ever wondered if…

"It's because she loves you, mate!" But did he – could he – love her back?

At this point in time, the portrait hole opened up to reveal Hermione in all of her grace, looking almost ragged. Her face was tear-stained and her robes were wrinkled as though she'd been groping at them in nervousness for quite a while. She took a chance to distinguish Harry and Ron's silhouettes against the dark of the Common Room and the flickering flames of the Gryffindor fire.

And Harry was staring at her. Why did he have to stare at her? It was a determined sort of trance, it seemed, and even as she countered his gaze, he didn't look away. It was as though he couldn't bring himself to do so. As if he finally knew what she'd been waiting for him to grow to understand for so long…

"W-why are you looking at me that way, Harry?"

The two teenage boys rose to their feet and stood an equal distance away from her, and Hermione looked to Ron as though silently questioning whether or not he'd given up her secret. He chose to look away, a silent admittance that he had, and her eyes widened to their maximum limit.

"I… I asked you why you were looking at me that way, Harry."

He was going to answer her now, she knew, and he was going to say something that would pay her back for the heartbreak she gave Ron…

But he smiled widely, leaving Hermione to understand that, for once, Ron wasn't attempting to ruin her for how she treated him, and he wasn't trying to avenge himself against her guilty retreat from him.

"…It's because I never have before."

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Notes – Oh my God… I finally wrote my second-ever Harmony fic! WooT! That's two in under a week! I'm so proud of me! Yep; anyway, thanks to those who bothered to review this rubbish (well, I'm actually very proud of this one) and I hope that you'll choose to review and give me some advice, or any commendation or approval that you can spare. I have to say, I'm hoping for more than three reviews this time around since I tried so hard to make this appealing.