Author's Note: Hey everyone! I wanted to try writing something a bit different. Yes this is slash. To my general readers who are concerned that I will only be writing slash from now on, don't worry, I have a fic in the process of betaing (about the length of Family Night) that returns to the whole family theme. I hope everyone who reads this enjoys! This was written for my wonderful beta Katie, who is the most patient, honest, wonderful beta reader I could hope for. The amount of time she spends reading my things over and over is cause for a medal. She is constantly pushing me to try new things, such as this, and without her constant encouragement, writing would not hold nearly the same joy as it does for me. So thank you Katie, once again, for everything.


The weeks following the second task of the Tri-Wizard Tournament were some of the hardest Harry had ever faced.

First there were the nightmares. He concealed them from everyone, not wanting his friends to think of him as some sort of sentimental wimp. More importantly, he didn't want to remind people who he'd missed the most.

Most assumed it was a brotherly thing; Fleur had saved her sister, Harry had saved the closest thing he had to a brother, simple! But those few that had teased that Harry missed Ron the way Krum would miss Hermione, or that Cedric would miss Cho, were the ones that were closest to the truth.

It had been inevitable really. Ron had been the only person to ever befriend Harry, to make him feel like something more than just an inconvenience to be shoved in the cupboard and forgotten. In a way, Harry had loved Ron since they met at the age of eleven, but it had taken Harry a few years to realize his feelings toward his best friend were more than brotherly.

Oh he had denied it and wished it away all that he could. He wanted to be normal and have a crush on Ginny or Hermione or Lavender or Parvati. He didn't want to feel a secret thrill every time Ron laughed at one of his jokes or threw an arm over his shoulder. When he and Ron had gotten into their huge fight at the beginning of the year, he had tried to convince himself that it was actually a good thing. It would give him time to get away from Ron and to get a grip on himself. All the feelings would go away with distance, or so the theory went. But he'd missed Ron so much. Hermione noticed, of course, and tried to convince them to make up, but not only did Harry still think Ron was in the wrong, but he was afraid. Because what if someone figured it out? Someone had to figure it out; Harry felt like it was written all over his face every time he was around the redhead.

When Ron approached him after the first task, Harry didn't even need to hear his apology, he was just so thrilled to have him back. That night he'd watched Ron sleep and thanked the gods he had his friend back.

But he had to keep all that nonsense secret if he wanted to keep Ron; he knew that. He knew now how horrible it was to be without him and would die if he pushed Ron away because of his disgusting feelings toward him.

And so he did…until the stupid second task threatened to give the game away. That was the second thing that plagued him in those weeks, when the task was so fresh in everyone's minds. He was so afraid someone would piece together what it meant.

But they didn't. No one did. They just thought it was all some huge joke, some great story. Even Ron was delighting in telling everyone wild tales about it, relishing the excitement and attention it got him.

In the background, Harry sat tensed, waiting for someone to ask why Ron was his chosen one. While no one noticed, he suffered from horrible nightmares where he'd been too late and that had meant something. For a while, he couldn't close his eyes without seeing Ron's unconscious body floating limply, dead in his imagination. He woke gasping several times, having to run over to Ron's bed to make sure he was really alive, that Harry hadn't lost him forever. And every morning, as Harry drank coffee and rubbed his tired eyes, Ron wolfed down his food, complaining about potions and girls.

It was typical of their relationship really. Everyone thought Harry was a leader, and that his sidekicks focused all their attention on him, but really, when they weren't in some dire situation, Harry faded into the background, focusing the spotlight of his attention fully on Ron and therefore transferring everyone else's attention to the redhead as well. And Harry realized more and more that Ron didn't seem to notice him back with the same intensity.

In fact, Ron never seemed to give that second task much thought. Harry got angry at times that Ron was able to spend so little thought on it while Harry suffered through nightmares, a newfound fear of water, and constant anxiety that Ron would discover his secret.


One night, a few weeks later, the forth year Gryffindor boys were all sitting around their dorm in their nightclothes, snacking on sweets and talking.

"Did you see what those Beauxbatons girls were wearing to the lake the other day?" Seamus asked eagerly. "The weather's not getting that warm."

"No complaints here though. I love how the French girls are so…uninhibited." Dean waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

"Yeah, next time, screw the cold water, I'm joining them," Seamus announced. Dean and Ron agreed with a whoop. Harry caught Neville's gaze and rolled his eyes. Neville smirked and nodded in agreement. Yeah right were the other boys ever going to pluck up enough courage to follow through with anything they boasted.

"I'm telling you, if I was in the Tri-Wizard Tournament, it would be the one with the short blonde hair and the big rack as my hostage. I'd let her know exactly how she could thank me," Seamus said followed by a quite graphic gesture.

"Well fine, but I get the tall, leggy one with the really long brown hair…you know the one?" Dean asked.

"Oh yes, I know well," Seamus said with a dreamy look. "What about you, Neville?"

Neville blushed. "Oh, I don't know," he muttered.

"Yes you do!" Ron urged. "Let's hear it!"

"Well, I sort of like the one that always wears that flower in her hair," Neville admitted shyly.

The rest of the boys made wolf-calls and Neville threw pillows at them.

"Well, what about you, Ron?" he asked hotly, turning the attention onto the redhead.

"No question about it," Ron declared, looking knowingly at Harry.

Harry held his breath and tried not to look too overjoyed. He rapidly tried to think of what he should say in response. Just a friendly shove, probably, with a laugh. Maybe a comment about being best mates or would that be pushing it?

"Fleur Delacour," Ron stated firmly.

Harry's smile vanished instantly as the boys all howled around him, laughing as Ron talked about exactly why she would be the person he'd miss the most.


Later that night, after his dormmates were all asleep, Harry lay awake in bed, staring up at his canopy miserably. Of course Ron was going to pick that stupid Beauxbatons girl. He tried to get some comfort in the thought that Ron probably just named one of the French girls to fit in, but the more he thought about it, the more he had to admit that Ron wouldn't pick him, no matter the circumstances.

He tried to look at it all realistically. Dean and Seamus would most likely end up each other's hostage or have Lavendar or Parvati if it went on actual crushes. Neville's would probably be Ginny; the two had gotten much closer that year from what Harry could see. And Ron, well, Ron would pick Hermione, if truth be told. Though the redhead complained about her, it was clear he missed her when she was away; not to mention that though he didn't always understand her, he certainly noticed her. Just as he didn't notice Harry. Just as nobody really noticed Harry. The Boy Who Lived they noticed, but who would miss him as anything more than a celebrity? With all the people he was close to, he'd always be second at best.

The fact was, he would never be the person anyone would miss the most.


That thought always burning in the back of his mind, Harry put in a special effort through the next few years to become that person for Ron, without letting the redhead know about Harry's true feelings toward him.

But in their sixth year, just when Harry was sure he was making progress, his fears were confirmed.


"Harry, what would you do if you fancied someone and wanted to go out with them?" Ron asked him. Harry was pretty certain Ron didn't mean him and tried to mask his disappointment. He had tried everything he could think of without making it obvious to get Ron to fall for him, but it didn't seem to be happening. Ron just thought of them as friends. Harry had known it was just a matter of time before Ron started dating someone else, killing Harry's dreams of them being together, but it still hurt.

Harry thought briefly about Ron's question. If speaking from experience, he'd have to tell Ron to become the person's best friend, save them from imminent danger, and then wait around for several years hoping they noticed you.

"Dunno. Just ask them to Hogsmeade I reckon," he said flatly. He kept his back to him, making his bed and straightening up his things.

"Yeah…" Ron nodded, watching Harry curiously. "Do you really have to do that?"

Harry sighed. "You ask me that almost every day."

"Well, it's nutters. Why bother?"

"Once again, because I don't want the house elves to have to clean up after me. And if I have nice things, I think I should respect them enough to take care of them," Harry explained in a bored tone, having made the same speech intermittently for years.

Ron decided against his usual response, which included general grumblings about the Dursleys and comments that bedspreads and pillows weren't exactly luxury items. He was the only one who knew that to Harry, they were.

When Harry was done making a neat pile of his dirty laundry for the house elves, he looked up in anticipation, waiting for Ron to lead them out toward breakfast. But Ron was just looking at him expectantly.


"Aren't you going to ask who it is?" Ron asked in slight annoyance, probably expecting the conversation to have gotten Harry a bit more excited.

"Who is it?" Harry asked dutifully, already knowing the answer.

A nervous grin bloomed on Ron's face and he leaned in as if to share a carefully guarded secret. "Hermione."

Harry nodded and Ron's face fell slightly, disappointed Harry wasn't shocked by the news. Harry couldn't bring himself to fake surprise and excitement.

"So I guess you're going to ask her out then," Harry said, trying not to sound as miserable as he felt.

"Do you think I should?" Ron asked anxiously.

No, Harry thought furiously. Aloud, he said, "That's what people normally do when they fancy a girl."

"Thanks, Harry, that's really helpful," Ron said sarcastically. "Come on, you're my best mate. This is what you're here for, right? Help me!"

"Well, I'd be glad to give you advice, but shouldn't you ask someone who's had a bit more experience?" Harry asked.

"Sure, I'll ask them about some of the stuff, but I just need your support on this," Ron said pleadingly, looking suddenly very insecure. "You know Hermione probably better than I do. Do you think I should risk it? What if she says no? She probably wouldn't even want to go out with me. You know, she's still in touch with Krum, and in comparison to him, I'm nothing!"

"Hey," Harry said sharply, "you are a thousand times better than Krum." He sighed. Though he desperately didn't want to tell the boy he wanted to be with to go date someone else, he couldn't dismiss the vulnerable expression on his best friend's face. "Yeah, you should go for it if you really want. I know she'd at least agree to a date. She's been waiting for you to ask her out for ages."

There, his best mate duties were done. He prayed Ron wouldn't ask anything else from him, because he frankly didn't know how much more he could give right now.

Ron beamed. "Really? Thanks mate. I think I will. Where do you reckon I should take her?"

"Better ask Seamus or Dean. They'd know better," Harry said abruptly, trying to think of anything other than the idea of Ron and Hermione on a date…snogging…getting married, starting a family, living happily ever after.

Forgetting about him.

As they reached the Gryffindor table and sat across from Hermione, Ron blushed and nudged Harry meaningfully under the table as he started talking casually to Hermione. While Hermione smiled and casually accepted Ron's nervous invitation to go to Hogsmeade together the next day, Harry couldn't help but hope it would bomb.

He felt like such an imposter as he plastered on a smile and made some expected remark about it being "about time".


Friday evening, Harry felt as if his stomach was filled with lead as Ron bounced around the room, the rest of their roommates laughing, asking eager questions and making dirty comments as Ron gushed about his night.

Ron flopped down next to Harry on Harry's neatly made bed. He laid back as if exhausted from his delirious happiness while Harry sat on the edge. "She's incredible," he said dramatically.

"Ugh, he's getting sappy, boys. Fun's over," Seamus announced teasingly.

Ron looked up at Harry with a grin. "It's all because of you, mate. Thank you."

"No prob," he muttered with a forced smile.

"And you know what? She's a fantastic kisser," he declared to the room. The boys broke out in excited catcalls.

Harry felt nauseous. Ron painted a picture to the rest of the boys of him being some Casanova, leading some passionate kiss between him and Hermione. But Harry knew his friend. He knew how it had really been.

Ron would have been so nervous, surreptitiously wiping his sweaty palms on his pants, trying desperately to remember Seamus's advice while trying to figure out when to do it and how. In the end, he would have been so jumpy Hermione would have had to initiate it. Ron would have put his hands awkwardly on her hips, not wanting to shove them up her shirt as Seamus and Dean had urged him to. It would have been sloppy, with Ron concentrating on it with all his might, wanting to do it right but not knowing how. But it would have meant so much to Ron, he would have felt so proud of himself afterward, so excited.

And Harry had wanted Ron to have that moment with him, not stupid Hermione.

Suddenly he felt a wave of crushing sadness and knew he had to get out of there. He forced a smile and patted Ron on the shoulder.

"Well done, mate," he said tightly before grabbing his cloak and his broom.

"Where are you going? It's almost midnight!" Ron protested.

"Just getting some practice in," Harry called over his shoulder.

He was already starting down the stairs when Ron grabbed his arm. Harry met his friend's worried gaze.

"You alright?" Ron asked in concern.

"Of course, just going out for a fly," Harry said, not quite meeting Ron's eye.

"Harry, are you okay with me and Hermione? You've been acting odd. You don't fancy her do you?"

Just like Ron to be so ungracefully blunt.

"Of course I don't fancy Hermione," Harry said firmly. I'm in love with you. "I just….you know, Voldemort stuff."

At least having a dark lord wanting to kill you had one perk. It came complete with a perfect excuse for every bad mood, any strange behavior and any desire to be alone.

"Oh," Ron said apologetically. "You going to be okay?"

"Yeah. I always am. I just wanted to get out for a bit."

"Yeah, okay. You want me to come? I can be ready in one minute," Ron offered.

"No, no. You stay and talk about your wild night. I'll talk to you later," Harry insisted.

"Kay," Ron nodded. "It'll all be okay, you know. I'll make sure of it."

Harry almost let out a bitter laugh, but nodded instead before turning and practically fleeing down the stairs.

While in the dorm room laughter about Ron being a ladies' man grew sleepier, down in the dark, empty locker room, Harry slid down a locker to the concrete floor, gulping in shaky breaths as he wiped his sleeve across his cheeks, wishing he could be normal. Wishing he could be happy.


As predicted, Ron and Hermione became a couple. At first, everyone thought it was adorable. They were the couple of Gryffindor.

Soon, they just started to annoy the crap out of everyone, especially Harry.

They went from bickering and fighting to cuddling and flirting to make up for the angry words beforehand. At first it was upsetting to Harry and he often had to make excuses to get out of there and compose himself. After awhile, however, he just felt drained by the whole thing. They both came to him with their relationship problems, and came to him again when they were feeling giddy about it. He just wanted to shake them and tell them to wake up and realize they made a horrible couple, that their relationship was all about putting out the fires they created by constantly rubbing each other the wrong way. They didn't belong together. Hermione belonged with some bookworm who would appreciate her ambition. Ron belonged with him.

"Come on, Harry, we're all going swimming!" Ron exclaimed one hot day nearing summer. He hurried around the room like a tornado, tossing things out of his wardrobe as he searched for his buried swim trunks.

"I think I'll pass," Harry said, smiling slightly as he watched his friend practically bounce in excitement.

"You never come swimming, Harry. You have to. No excuses this time. I know you have nothing better to do, you loser," Ron teased, throwing his extra pair of swim trunks at Harry.

"Being friends with you is so good for my self-esteem," Harry said with a small laugh. "Alright, we'll see how cold it is."

"You're such a bloody girl sometimes," Ron accused lightheartedly.

Harry frowned, wondering what Ron would think if he knew he was gay. He figured he'd be hearing those sorts of remarks with a touch more malice.

"Well, what are you just sitting there for? You changing or what?" Ron asked stepping back out from behind his bed where he'd quickly changed his shorts into waterproof ones.

"Yeah, go on ahead, I'll catch up. Gotta find a towel."

"Fine, but if you're not down there in five minutes, I'm coming back and dragging your sorry arse down there, got it?"

"Yes sir!" Harry joked, mock-saluting the redhead.

"That's what I like to hear!"

When the door clicked shut, Harry reluctantly changed into the ragged swim trunks. He looked out the window and winced a bit at the sight of the Great Lake. He did not want to swim. After that second task, he would just as soon never get near the water again. But he'd give it a shot to spend some time with Ron. The redhead had expressed worry just a few days ago that Harry seemed to be closing himself off, that it seemed something was bothering him. If swimming would keep the questions at bay, he'd try.


Down at the lake, most of Gryffindor was splashing around, trying to have a last bit of fun before really needing to buckle down and study for final exams. Harry stood at the edge, looking down into the dark waters. Taking a deep breath he began to wade in, assuring himself that once he got fully in, it wouldn't be a big deal and he could just have fun with his friends. He watched jealously as Ron and Hermione wrestled playfully on the dock, Hermione pretending to resist much more than Harry suspected reflected her true desires. She laughed as she tried to dodge by Ron and squealed in delight as Ron grabbed her around the waist and half-carried her to the edge and tossed her in.

Hermione surfaced and splashed water up at Ron.

Harry watched, mesmerized as Ron stood on the dock, water dripping down his torso. He really was beautiful. Harry wondered if Hermione appreciated what she had. Unwittingly, the image of Hermione's hands on Ron's freckled chest flashed into his mind and Harry pushed it out in disgust. It was so wrong.

His daze was broken when Ron ran off the dock and jumped into the water with a cannonball. Harry smiled fondly at Ron's antics, until he met Hermione's eyes. Hermione was watching him with that calculating gaze she'd adopted in the last month. Harry tore his gaze away. He wondered if she suspected anything. Knowing her, she probably did. He didn't want to consider what she would think of him if she figured it out. She probably wouldn't be too worried; it wasn't like he was a threat to their relationship.

It was with a bitterer mood that Harry continued shuffling into the water. The water soaked his shorts and suddenly lapped against his stomach, causing him to shudder.

"Best to get it all over with in one dunk, Harry!" Neville called over.

Harry waved in acknowledgment and with a deep breath more for nerves than for oxygen, he dived in.

As soon as his head was under, as he was surrounded by silence and cold, the memories and dreams flooded back. Ron tied to the pole, looking like death. Pulling his friend toward the surface as the potion that helped him breathe and swim faded away. Wondering if he was going to be the cause of Ron's death. Imagined scenes of Ron's dead body in his arms once they got to the top. All because of him.

He broke the surface with a gasp. Everyone was still goofing around in the middle of the lake, and the air was filled with laughter. But Harry felt cold, and not just because of the frigid water. He had to get out.

He ungracefully scrambled toward the shore, stumbling and falling with a splash more than once in his desperation to get out. It was only once his feet were back on dry land that he could start to breathe properly.

With trembling hands, he plucked up his towel and glasses, wiping the wetness from his eyes before shakily sliding the frames onto his nose and wrapping the towel around his shoulders.

"Harry, what are you doing?" Ron called in disappointment. "Get back in!"

"Too cold!" he yelled. At least that would explain why he was shaking.

"Don't be a wimp! Get your arse back in here!" Ron protested before receiving a wave of water to the face, courtesy of Seamus.

"No way! I'm staying on the nice warm shore," Harry called, clenching the towel desperately around him and keeping his back to the lake, walking quickly toward the castle. He couldn't get the pictures of his worst fears out of his head. Every time he looked back at the lake, he could only see Ron's limp body floating face down in the water or remember the crushing darkness and cold of the lake as he swam toward the shore, lungs burning as he clawed toward the top, pulling Ron along and praying he was going to be okay.

He heard the pounding of footsteps behind him and turned to see Ron running up, the redhead's grin fading as he saw Harry's face.

"What's the matter?" he asked urgently. "Did you get a vision or something?"

Harry shook his head. "No, I just…"

He trailed off as Hermione came jogging up behind them in her swimsuit, pulling her wet hair into a ponytail. "What's going on?"

"Nothing," Harry said immediately.

"Something's wrong, Harry. You can see it on your face. You need to talk to us!" Ron insisted.

Harry inwardly flinched at that. The "us" in that statement hurt.

"It's nothing. I just don't want to swim, okay?"

"Harry, don't, that's not…"

Hermione silenced Ron with a hand on her arm. "Ron, Harry just doesn't want to swim."

Ron looked at her incredulously. "You can't seriously be going along with this. There's something wrong!"

"Ron, just let him go," Hermione said softly. Ron looked at Harry anxiously but Harry could tell he was going to listen to Hermione. He was going to let Harry go.

"Are you going to be alright Harry?" Hermione asked, but the look in her eyes was off. Not insincere, but not exactly worried. She thought he was leaving for a different reason. She had seen him staring at Ron. She knew.

Harry's eyes flicked down in shame. Hermione had been one of his best friends. What was she thinking now? Probably the same thing the Dursleys used to, that he was a freak.

"Yeah, I'm fine," he assured them.

"Okay, well if you decide you want to join us, you know where we are," she said, taking Ron by the hand and leading him back. Harry watched the two retreat. Ron looked over his shoulder at him in concern, quietly saying something to Hermione, but Hermione shook her head and rubbed his bare back reassuringly.

Harry couldn't blame Hermione for feeling possessive. Harry would have done the same if he'd been with Ron and thought someone wanted to take him away. But for the next few months, their relationship would be changed in a way nobody could really put their finger on.


It was nearing the end of their seventh year when the second task came up again, this time during a small party that turned to the retelling of memories from Hogwarts in the wee hours of the morning.

"And then you two popped up looking like drowned rats," Seamus laughed.

"I'll never forget the look on Ron's face when he finally got a kiss on the cheek from Fleur Delacour," Neville chuckled. Ron cast a sheepish look at Hermione, who shot him a teasing glare.

"It's an interesting question though," Dean said thoughtfully. "The person you'd miss the most. Especially now that we're going to leave here. Makes you think, you know?"

"Oh no, don't make me cry!" Parvati protested with a sad laugh. The idea of graduating and moving apart was a sore subject with all of them, scaring them all more than they'd like to admit.

"We'll all stay in touch," Lavendar vowed.

"But if we didn't, who would you miss the most? Who would you keep in touch with if you only could pick only one person because you couldn't bare to lose them?" Dean insisted. "We all know Harry's pick, but what about the rest of us?"

A solemn silence settled among them.

"I'm gonna miss good old Filch," Seamus announced suddenly to lighten the mood. "I'll miss his optimism, his never ending hope that one day he'll be able to torture troublemakers in the dungeons, just like in the good old days. Now that's someone who holds onto the good memories!"

Chuckles went around as everyone joked about who they'd miss the most. Harry sat back and watched contently, swirling the butterbeer in his hand around in its bottle.

"Who would you miss the most?" Ron asked his girlfriend with an eager grin, catching Harry's attention from across the circle.

Hermione pretended to think really hard. "Hmm, well, I do think I'd miss seeing Terry Boot walk by me every day in Ancient Runes. He has a very nice bum."

Ron looked indignant. "The one you'd miss the most would be Terry Boot's arse?"

Hermione looked at him challengingly. "Are you saying you wouldn't have had Lavender's breasts attached to that pole if you'd been rescuing something you'd miss the most?"

Ron blushed. "'Mione!" he hissed.

She shrugged. "You certainly enjoy staring at them all day."

"Aw, come on 'Mione, you know you're the one I'd miss the most," Ron said giving her a small kiss. "You and your breasts."

Hermione laughed and playfully shoved the redhead. "Well, you'd be the one tied to my pole, Merlin knows why."

The two laughed and kissed, not thinking to notice their best friend trying to not look crushed as he slipped away from the small party.


When Ron and Hermione suddenly broke up in the middle of their seventh year, Harry was caught between feeling sorry for his friends and being secretly overjoyed. He knew it wasn't fair to Hermione, as he was her best friend too, but in that time immediately after their breakup, Harry leapt to Ron's side, making sure he was there whenever his best friend needed to talk.

He went to Hogsmeade with Ron, immediately after, even though it was clear from the outfit he was wearing and the places he dragged Harry to that he was trying to run into Hermione, or at least see if she was out with anyone.

Admittedly, though, after that, Ron didn't seem to need his shoulder to cry on. In fact, Ron didn't even seem to care enough to tell Harry the reason behind it. Harry hoped it was from apathy about the split rather than a failing in their friendship.

After a few weeks with no indication from Ron that he noticed him like he noticed Ron, Harry forced himself to admit that Ron wasn't ever going to see him that way. They were best friends, almost family, but it would never be anything beyond that.

He was devastated.

What was wrong with him? Why did he always have to be different in some way that seemed to make his life a living hell? With everything else piled on his shoulders, was it so much to ask that he be normal in this area? That he fantasize about what was under Lavendar Brown's skirt instead of dreaming of Ron lying next to him? Why couldn't he be building up the nerve to ask Parvati to Hogsmeade rather than having a near heart attack every time his leg brushed Ron's on the bench at dinner? He wanted to fret about how far some girl would let him go instead of worrying that Ron would find out what he was thinking and hate him for it.

He didn't want to be a freak.

He knew Ron noticed as he began to draw away from his friend, though it wasn't too obvious on the surface. As the end of the year drew nearer, and Harry realized he did not want to be an Auror after the shit storm he was already wading through, he decided he might be interested in medicine. After all, it would be useful with the whole Voldemort thing and he really wanted to help people not die for a change. That meant university. That meant Hermione.

Hermione was thrilled at his decision and as she dove headfirst into helping him prepare applications and study for important exams, it seemed all the edginess that had threatened their friendship ebbed away.

It also gave him legitimate excuses to avoid Ron and any emotional pain the redhead might bring him just by smiling in his direction.

But even aside from the physical distance, Harry slowly edged away emotionally. He listened to everything Ron had to say, encouraged him in his decision to work at Fred and George's place for awhile to save up some money, even agreed to get a flat with him near the twins' shop, but he stopped confiding in Ron. He had never been very big on sharing all that emotional stuff in the first place (growing up with people who didn't give a damn about what he thought had instilled him with some fundamental belief that things he had to say were either boring or annoying) but Ron had slowly, inconspicuously taught him to confide in his best friend. That was over with though. He had always been a better listener anyway.

It shouldn't have hit him so hard that Ron didn't want him. He should have known it. But for some reason, in those weeks following, it became very clear that though Ron would always be the one he'd miss the most, Harry would never hold that title with him.

Applying to schools gave him a good cover for all the sadness, disappointment and even apathy he was feeling. Almost any negative mood could be explained away by, "Sorry, I'm just a bit stressed right now. Apps and all."

But Ron seemed determined to lift his mood, probably because he didn't want to be living with some depressed and angsting teenager their first year living without adult supervision. Almost every day, Ron would try to practically drag him down to the lake with him and the rest of their dormmates for some beginning-of-summer fun. It rankled him more than he wanted to admit that after all this time Ron hadn't figured out that he had an intense phobia of water. Hell, Harry knew things about Ron that could never be repeated without Ron murdering him, while Ron knew nothing about some fundamental parts of Harry's life. He was aware that he was a lot less open than Ron, but he felt that was in part because Ron never seemed really interested in that sort of stuff about him.

When his and Hermione's acceptance letters came during the last week of school, and revealed that they both could go to the same college, for the first time in a while, he had felt truly happy and excited.

"It's so good to see a smile on your face," Hermione mused after they'd settled down a bit. "I've missed it for a long time now."

Harry looked up at her in surprise. Before he could say anything, Hermione plucked up his hand in both of hers and looked earnestly into his face.

"Harry, I want you to be happy. No matter what makes you happy, I want that for you. Even if it's Ron."

Harry stared at her, frozen.

"Huh?" was all he could manage.

She smiled softly at him and squeezed his hand before getting up and gathering up her things.

As she turned to go, Harry started panicking about what she was going to do with the information she'd clearly figured out. But before he could ask her not to tell anyone, Ron burst into the room, grinning broadly.

"The Creevey kid says you two were screaming and jumping around the common room. I'm assuming you got in?" he asked excitedly.

Harry smiled and held up his letter. Ron crossed the room quickly and plucked it eagerly from his hands. His eyes scanned it quickly before he gave a loud whoop and clapped Harry on the back with a happy laugh.

"I can't believe you're subjecting yourself to more of this torture," he announced, smirking back at the slight glare from Hermione. "Okay, not torture to you, 'Mione, but you've been insane since the get go. Anyway, this is great. We need to celebrate."

"I'm going to go tell Ginny," Hermione said, slipping out the door. Ron turned his gaze to Harry.

"You're not getting out of it this time, Harry. You at least have to come outside. You've been holed up in the library for months now and you'll obviously be spending much more time in an even bigger library soon, so for now, it's sunshine, understand?"

Harry nodded warily and stood.

"You bringing that with you?" Ron teased, indicating the letter in Harry's hand as they made their way towards the portrait.

"Of course! I'm going to keep needing it for awhile as proof that I really did get in and didn't just imagine this," Harry said happily, hugging the thick, official paper to his chest.

"Don't know how you're getting so excited about school," Ron said, making a face.

"You know they black out names on the applications? I left off anything that might have them figure out who I was."

"Yeah, I heard they started doing that because they had trouble with only accepting purebloods in."

"Yeah, but it also means that they didn't know who I was. I didn't get in because I'm Harry Potter or the Boy-Who-Lived or the Chosen One or whatever the fuck it is they're calling me now a days. I'm going to frame this thing," Harry announced happily rolling up his acceptance letter carefully and sticking it in the inside pocket of his robes.

"Well, good job. And hey, I'm glad you're talking to me like this again."

Harry stiffened. "What do you mean?"

"You know what I mean," Ron said seriously.

Before they went any further in that line of awkward conversation, they were thankfully saved by running into the rest of their dormmates at the entrance, all eager to join them in a trip outside to celebrate.

Harry had thought it had been safe to come out with Ron, as no swimsuits had been in sight. Unfortunately, his roommates didn't seem to have any compunction with simply going in their boxers and were soon insisting on a swim.

"No, guys, really. I'm not going to go. I'll catch up with you later," he insisted forcefully.

Harry started toward the castle but suddenly, with a sickening lurch in his stomach, was lifted into the air by his ankle, dangling upside down. The other boys burst into laughter as Harry quickly used a hand to pull his shirt back down and used the other to keep his glasses on. He struggled irritably as he gently floated back to them. He crossed his arms grumpily and Seamus slowly turned him around to face them. Harry glared at his four roommates, who waved and grinned cheekily.

"Very funny."

"We think it is," Dean agreed.

"Harry, you can't run away from us. It's time for you to have some fun," Seamus announced. He spun Harry slowly in a circle like a top, much to the amusement of their friends.

"Okay, Seamus, too much upside down fun. I'm pretty sure all the blood in my body is now in my head. You gotta let me down or I'm going to be sick," Harry announced practically.

His stomach turned once again as Seamus flipped him over in the air. Harry tried to reach his foot to the ground, though he knew it would do no good even if he could. The toe of his shoe brushed the top of the grass and with a flick of the wand, Seamus raised him higher.

"Harry, you need to escape the heat and have a little fun in the water. No more NEWTs, so no more excuses. You have no more studying," Ron said with a firm look. "You've been far too serious lately."

"Yeah, Harry! It's the end of seventh year!" Neville encouraged. "This might be the last time we're all together like this."

"Well, then let's go to Hogsmeade or something. I don't want to go swimming. It's too cold," Harry proposed hurriedly.

"Don't be a wimp. It's too bloody hot to do anything but swim," Dean insisted.

"You'll get used to it quickly," Ron promised, shedding his own school robe and toeing off his shoes.

"Let me down," Harry said seriously. "I'm not kidding, Seamus."

"In that case…." Seamus trailed off with a mischievous grin, and carefully started levitating Harry toward the lake.

Harry fought furiously in the air. "No! Seamus, stop! I'm bloody serious; let me the fuck down!"

"I'll let you down," Seamus assured him cheerfully. "I think I'll let you down in the middle of the lake. Nothing like a good dunk to get used to the water!"

"Seamus, maybe you shouldn't…" Neville trailed off worriedly, looking at Harry's red face.

"Nev, Harry needs some fun and he won't do it on his own. This is an intervention," Seamus said wisely.

"I'll have fun if you don't put me in the bleeding lake!" Harry shouted angrily as the ground below him was replaced with water. He struggled in the air as Seamus slowly levitated him over the lake.

"Stop it! Let me back to shore you arse!" he yelled, trying not to panic.

"Come on Ronnie, he saved you, time to save him back," Seamus cooed. "You're the one he'd miss most, after all."

"Oh shut the hell up," Ron grumbled. The boys continued to playfully argue on the shore, and Harry was unable to hear their conversation as he stopped over the middle of the lake. He continued to shout for Seamus to quit it and let him back to shore, but none of them seemed to be listening.

Suddenly, he plummeted the few feet through the air and with a splash, was completely surrounded by cold, dark water. The only sound he could hear was the muffled noise from his own splash. His clothes swirled around him, their weight pulling him down and preventing his legs from kicking well.

A collage of unwelcome images flew through his mind. Ron, looking dead, tied to that pole, his head hanging limply and his hair floating peacefully around him. Harry desperately pulling him to the surface, praying Ron wasn't dead, that he wouldn't die; knowing that it would be all his fault if Ron didn't make it because he didn't find him fast enough or get him to the surface quickly enough.

For a moment, out of the corner of his eye, he could have sworn Ron's body was floating there next to him, dead in the water. But as he flung himself around in a panic, he saw that it was only his imagination torturing him.

His lungs burned as he clawed toward the shimmering light above him, but he couldn't move fast enough. He tore off his robe and kicked furiously, sure he wasn't going to make it.

He broke the surface and gasped in air, coughing up the small bit of water he accidentally inhaled. A quick hand to his eyes confirmed that he had lost his glasses. As water flooded into his mouth, he quickly paddled with his hands and craned his head upward to spit it back out. Stretching his neck to keep it above the surface, he continued to kick furiously and squinted at the shore. The blurry forms of his friends seemed to be roughhousing around.

"Ron!" he called out, the desperation in his cry losing its force as it carried. He cursed himself for sounding like such a little kid, but he couldn't help but feel terrified. It was too quiet where he was and his body was quickly tiring from his efforts to keep afloat. He was sure he was probably doing it wrong, but nobody had ever taught him the proper way to tread water.

The figure on the shore that seemed to have red hair turned toward him and waved him. Harry knew he'd never make it back. He was so scared, he just wanted Ron to come and get him out of this hell.

But Ron just went back to goofing off with the rest of the guys.

Sloppily, Harry managed to move forward through the water, having to work doubly hard to keep his head above water. After swimming a few feet, he realized with a sinking feeling that his wand had been in his robe pocket. He looked down, but he couldn't even see his feet in the dark water. He knew he needed to dunk his head under the water to look, but that thought frightened him more than he wanted to admit.

"Ron!" he called in a half-sob. Ron was a fantastic swimmer. He and his siblings had spent practically ever summer since birth splashing around the swimming hole in the woods behind the Burrow. Ron would have no qualms with diving down to look for his robe. He could certainly help Harry swim back to shore.

But Ron was too busy shoving the other boys to pay Harry too much mind. As always, Harry simply couldn't get Ron's attention.

Though his stomach turned at the notion, he held his breath and put his face in the water. He still couldn't see and he could feel the fear rising up again. He jerked his head up and shakily drew in air. He felt close to tears. He just wanted to be on land.

He took a shuddering breath and struggled in the water until he figured out a way to slowly propel himself forward. His arms and legs burned horribly the longer he swam.

Halfway back to shore, he was finally close enough that there was no way his friends couldn't hear him.

"Ron!" he called.

Seamus and Dean pushed the redhead toward the water.

"Save your damsel in distress Ron! Harry's calling for you!" they teased.

Ron yelped as his feet splashed in the frigid, shallow water. He laughed and pushed them back, fighting against them to get back to shore.

"He saved you, Ronnie! He rescued you! It's your turn!"

"Ron?" Harry called again in a pleading tone, though it didn't have the same effect with him sputtering up water.

"He's calling for his love! Now you have to prove your adoration for him and go to his rescue," Seamus laughed.

"Come on, Harry, hurry up," Ron called. His face was red with embarrassment.

Harry's fear and exhaustion quickly segued into anger. If Ron wasn't so self-absorbed and had put in the effort to know some pretty important things about his supposed best friend, he would know how serious Harry's calls for help were. If Harry could subdue his own humiliation to call out for help, then Ron should have damn well helped him, embarrassed or not! Harry had waded into the stupid Great Lake during that damn task in all his clothes. A stadium full of people had laughed at him. But he still went to Ron because his friend needed help!

This was just another example of Ron not being there when he really needed him. And he had even asked this time! Ron always told him he needed to ask for help, but this was what happened when he did!

His body feeling quite sore and heavy, Harry's knees finally hit the drop-off that jutted up into the shallow end. Ron shuffled over to him through the knee-deep water as Harry tried to pull himself up onto the ledge.

"Sorry mate, it was way too cold to go in after you," Ron said with a laugh. He grasped Harry's arm to help him up but Harry snatched it away and crawled onto shore.

"Harry, are you okay?" Neville asked worriedly.

Harry ignored him and got to his shaky legs, starting for the castle.

"Harry, what the hell?" Ron called, grabbing his arm to stop him. Harry wildly ripped himself away and spun around furiously to face Ron.

"You know what, Ron? Just forget about living together next year! Go get a flat with Hermione or someone else you actually give a damn about and leave me the hell alone!" he yelled, not caring if he sounded irrational. He stomped off toward the blurry castle in front of him and promptly tripped over a rock he hadn't seen and fell to his hands and knees in the dirt.

Ron helped him to his feet before Harry could protest and grabbed his wrists to bring Harry's bleeding palms into his line of sight. "Where are your glasses?"

"Where do you think? They're in the bloody lake! The giant fucking squid is probably wearing them!" he shouted. "And let go of me."

"What is up with you?" Ron asked in annoyance, following Harry and catching him as he stumbled again. "You know someone can just summon your glasses. You're acting like a prat."

Harry snorted angrily and carefully started climbing the stairs, mostly by feel rather than sight.

"What, are you seriously mad that I didn't jump in after you? You really wanted me to go 'rescue' you in front of all our dormmates when you were perfectly capable of swimming back by yourself?" Ron asked crossly. Harry whirled around furiously.

"I saved you! I jumped in and saved you before and you can't even…just leave me alone you arse!" Harry sputtered, turning back to continue stomping up the stairs.

"What are you talking about? You saved me as a task in a tournament. I was tied up and being held captive by merpeople. I think it's a little different," Ron responded sarcastically.

"Yeah, there is a difference! I did everything I could to help you because I thought you needed it and I really did need it and you didn't do anything!" Harry snapped.

"You're such a selfish prat!" Ron yelled. "Everything's always about you, isn't it?"

Harry whirled around and gaped at him. "Always about me? Always about me, are you kidding?"

"Yeah, you never care about anyone but yourself! Gods, I don't jump in a fucking lake to help you swim back to shore and you're cutting off our plans to get a flat together next year?"

Harry stared at him and shook his head in disbelief. "You just don't get it."

"Fucking right I don't get it!" Ron retorted. "Shit, Harry, you're as complicated as a bloody girl and make just about as much sense as them." He adopted a mock-apologetic tone. "Did I hurt your feelings, Harriet?"

Harry flinched and felt tears welling up. Since the last thing in the world he wanted to do right then was cry in front of Ron after being accused of being girly, he decided to save a bit of face and do the thing that would get him out of there the fastest.

"You're right. I'm acting stupid."

Ron stared at him incredulously.

"Go back to the lake. I'm going to find 'Mione and ask her to summon my glasses and my wand," he said as calmly as possible. "I'll catch up with you later."

Before they could get further into it, Harry turned back to the castle and walked as casually as he could through the doorway. He could hear Ron follow behind him after a few moments and turned down the first hall to try to get some distance, but didn't make it too far before tripping over uneven ground.

"You're never going to make it up to the tower without your glasses, you idiot," Ron scolded lightly, reaching out to help Harry up but Harry flinched away from his touch.

"I'll be fine, okay? Go back outside."

"Clearly, you're not fine. Let me help you up," he demanded and pulled Harry to his feet. "Now will you stop being a bloody female and tell me what the hell is wrong?"

Harry glared at him. "Ron, really, just drop it."

"No! You've been avoiding me and we're supposed to live together next year!"

"I haven't been avoiding you," Harry muttered.

"Bullshit! I've been trying to get you to hang out with us for weeks! To hang out with me!"

"All you've wanted to do is go swimming!" Harry retorted.

"Yeah, why not? It's bloody hot. Besides, when I told you about the swimming hole, you said it sounded like fun. I thought you would want to go swimming."

"Of course you did," Harry said darkly. "Why would you know? It's not like you give a crap."

"Would you please just tell me what this is really about? Because you can't actually be mad at me because I didn't know you weren't in the mood to go swimming."

Harry ran a hand through his hair. Ron's gaze grew slightly worried.

"Your hands are shaking," he pointed out. "Are you really that pissed at me?"

"No," Harry muttered, folding his arms self-consciously.

"Harry, please. I'm your best mate. Just tell me what's wrong so we can fix it and move on," Ron pleaded.

"If it was Hermione in there you would have helped her!" Harry exploded. "You wouldn't have let them do that to her! But you don't give a fuck about me, do you?"

"What are you talking about? The only reason I wouldn't let them do it to Hermione would be because she'd hex my arse if I did. And hell, I'd probably let them do it anyway. Why would I help her? Help her with what? She'd probably drown me if I swam out to her after doing that. And it was funny, Harry! Can't you lighten up a bit?"

"Lighten up? Lighten up?" Harry yelled incredulously. He knew he was getting hysterical, but he couldn't stop it. "I went into the fucking lake after you when I didn't even know how to swim! And you're too embarrassed to come out and keep me from drowning!"

"What do you mean you don't know how to swim? You seemed to do fine!"

"Yeah, I only did okay then because I was half fish or something! You don't know! You don't even know! Every time I get even halfway in the damn water, all I can see is your dead body! I thought you were going to die and it would be all my fault and now that's all I can see in the water! And you…you laughed when Seamus dropped me in the middle of the lake, just like everyone laughed when I went after you! Do you know what it's like to be bloody terrified while everyone else is laughing? And you're just like everyone else. I know I'm not the person you'd miss the most, but I wasn't even important enough for you to go after today! I'm nothing to you! I'm nothing to anyone!"

Ron stared at him, completely stunned as Harry tried to calm himself down.

"Harry…" he started but was interrupted by someone else yelling his name.

"Harry!" Neville ran up, carrying a sopping bundle in his arms. "Dean summoned your robe. I saw that you were missing it."

He handed it to Harry and appraised him worriedly.

"Did anyone summon my glasses?" he asked gloomily.

"Oh, no. Sorry, I didn't notice those, but I'll go back and ask Dean to summon those as well. I'll be right back," he promised and tore off.

Harry quickly dug in the inside pocket of his robe for his wand, which he luckily found. His fingers brushed against something else and his face fell. He gently pulled out his acceptance letter, which ripped easily in his hand. He looked at it in dismay. It was completely ruined.

In a burst of anger, he crumpled up the ruins and threw the sodden mess at Ron, hitting him squarely in the chest, storming away before he could say something equally immature.

It would have had a much better effect if he hadn't had to feel for the walls to get around the next corner.

"Leave me alone," Harry growled as Ron caught up with him.

"No, you need help even if you're too stubborn to ask for it," Ron said firmly, pulling Harry to a stop. "Look, I didn't know about the water thing. I thought when you were calling me you were just joining in the teasing stuff. And I'm really sorry about the letter. I'll make sure to get you another, I promise. And you know how you said you weren't important? Well, that's not true. You know you would have been my hostage."

Harry glared at him. "Do you just tell that to everyone then? You can't have all of Gryffindor be your hostage, Ron, it's only one!"

"And it would be you!"

"It would be Hermione!" Harry snapped. "You told her it would be her. And you would be hers and I would be nobody's." To Harry's horror, his voice cracked slightly on the last words and tears began to well up in his eyes. He quickly turned away and forced them back down.

"Well of course I was going to tell Hermione that. She was my girlfriend at the time and that's the sort of thing you have to tell them if you want to keep them around. But it was crap and she knew it. Of course it's you," Ron explained.

Harry scoffed at him skeptically. "And now you have to tell it to me because you want to keep me around so you'll have a flatmate next year."

Ron threw his hands in the air in exasperation. "Where is all this coming from? How do you want me to prove it to you?" At Harry's silence, he continued. "Look, I might not be the most perceptive bloke in the world, and I'm sorry, but that doesn't mean you're not important. For Merlin's sake, I broke up with Hermione for you!"

Harry looked at him in bewilderment. "What are you talking about?"

Ron's face reddened slightly and he shifted his gaze away from Harry's eyes. "Seamus kept saying he thought you fancied me and I asked Hermione and she said she thought you did too."

Harry felt his chest tighten and his face begin to burn. He couldn't seem to manage a response, torn between denial and wanting to know how exactly that affected Ron's relationship with Hermione.

Luckily, Ron just continued. "And at first, I'll admit, I was a bit…I dunno, taken aback. But then I thought about it and paid attention to you more, and I couldn't tell, but started thinking about what it would mean if they were right."

Harry was frozen. Shakily he took a step back. "I…"

"Harry please," Ron said quickly, grabbing Harry's arm to keep him from running. "Just listen." Bravely meeting Harry's stunned gaze, he went on. "I guess I couldn't believe you wanted me like that, but I couldn't help but think about it. I broke up with Hermione because, well, you know…I figured me wanting to kiss you more than I wanted to kiss her was probably a bad sign for the relationship," he finished quickly with a nervous laugh.

"You thought about…that?" Harry asked in disbelief.

The tips of Ron's ears went red and he looked away. "Yeah, so, um, as you can see, you're the one I'd miss the most, not Hermione. You're my best mate, and I apparently like you enough to turn gay for you. I don't know what I'd do if you ever went away, which is why I didn't even want to tell you any of this, but obviously, you don't get how much you mean to me, so I figured I ought to just let you know. I also reckon that if you were going to dump me as a flatmate next year, it might as well be because I fancy you rather than about the lake thing."

Harry stared at him incredulously. "Are you taking the piss?" he asked weakly.

"I'm sorry," Ron said awkwardly. "Um, do you want me to leave you alone for a bit or something to think?"

"No, you berk! I just…I don't understand! You said you broke up with Hermione for me, but it must've been obvious I fancied you so why didn't you say anything?" Harry asked, trying to wrap his mind around all this.

Ron looked at him in surprise. "What? You fancy me?"

Harry cleared his throat awkwardly and gave a slight nod. "Isn't that what Seamus and Hermione were saying?"

"Well, then what happened with Hogsmeade?" Ron asked in utter confusion.

Harry blinked at him. "Hogsmeade?"

"Our date?" Ron said, as if reminding him of something he should have been completely aware of. "You barely looked at me the whole time and you seemed to be having an awful time."

Harry stared at him. "Ron, what the hell are you talking about?"

Ron rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably. "You know. When I asked you to Hogsmeade. That's what you said to do when you fancied someone."

Harry had to laugh. "I said that years ago! And we go to Hogsmeade together all the time. You thought that was a date?"

"Well, yeah!" Ron said in embarrassment. "Why else would I have taken you to that couple-y place?"

"I thought you were trying to spot Hermione there!"

"I wore my green shirt. That's my date shirt!"

"I thought it was in case Hermione saw you!" Harry couldn't believe this. "So you're saying we went on a date and I didn't even know?"

"Well, yeah," Ron admitted. "I tried paying even, but then you insisted in getting your half so I thought maybe that's how it worked with two blokes." He rubbed the back of his neck, his little habit that signaled that he felt uncomfortable. "I thought you knew and just weren't going for it. I chickened out of kissing you at the end." At Harry's stunned expression, he shrugged with a shy grin. "I guess I didn't make it clear enough then, eh?"

"Not clear enough? Ron, could you have figured that one out if it was me doing it?"

But instead of answering, Ron suddenly pressed his lips to Harry's.

It was clumsy and quick, and Harry sort of froze in shock during the whole thing. But it was Ron. Ron kissing him.

"Was that…uh…clearer?" Ron asked, red-faced but clearly proud of his Gryffindor bravery.

Harry nodded dumbly. He was suddenly hit with a horrible thought. "You're not doing this because you feel bad for me or anything, right?"

"Harry, it's me. I'm not that selfless or emotionally competent, as Hermione would be more than pleased to tell you," Ron pointed out.

"Okay," he agreed in relief.

"Okay, so then I'm going to snog you again, and this time, I think it would help if you didn't stand like this." His body went rigid and his eyes bulged out, his lips clamped tightly shut.

"Oh, fuck off, you prat," Harry laughed, feeling his cheeks burn.

Ron's hand brushed his cheek, fingers settling in the hair behind his ear. Harry's hand automatically slipped up over his shoulder as their lips pressed together for the second time. Their mouths moved against each other's softly and Harry just couldn't believe that this was happening. Even in his most hopeful moments regarding Ron, he had never actually thought they would ever really be anything more than friends.

There was a gasp of surprise a small distance away and the pair quickly broke away from each other.

Neville stood there, staring at them in shock, Harry's glasses in his hand. "Um, I'll find you later," he squeaked, turning abruptly around.

"Nev, his glasses?" Ron called, hands shoved in his pocket sheepishly.

"Oh, right," Neville muttered with a blush, running them over and handing them quickly to Harry. Once he was over, it seemed his curiosity began winning over his discomfort. "Are you guys…together?"

The two immediately looked to each other.

"Yeah…" Ron finally ventured. Harry nodded hesitantly in confirmation and Ron smiled. "Yeah, we are."

Neville nodded and let out a small laugh. "Definitely saw that one coming." He was chuckling even as he walked away.

"Er, so..." Ron trailed off awkwardly.


"So you've never French kissed before, right?"

Harry blushed. "Er, not exactly."

Ron grinned. "This'll be fun. You wanna go up to the dorm?" Ron asked mischievously.

Harry laughed happily. "Yeah."

Ron grabbed his hand and pulled him toward a nearby secret passage that led upstairs. Once they were in, Ron pulled him to a stop and kissed him again.

"Hey, later tonight, how about some swim lessons?" Ron suggested seriously. "I think you'd like it if you knew how and had some better memories of the water to replace the old ones."

Harry paused to consider it. "No joking around with disappearing or dunking me under or anything?"

Ron looked mildly repulsed by the idea. "I didn't know you were scared of the water, or I would never have done that. This time, I swear, I'll be there right with you." He paused and suddenly grinned. "And hey, a wet, shirtless me comes with the offer."

Harry snorted and rolled his eyes

Ron slung an arm over Harry's shoulder as the two continued their walk to the dorms. "And hey, if a group of merpeople kidnap you and tie you to a pole, I will dive down and fight them off with my bare hands."

"Oh really?" Harry asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Oh yeah! I'll tear the ropes off you with my teeth. Any merperson tries to mess with me, I'll kick 'em in the face!" Ron said enthusiastically.

"My hero," Harry said theatrically. After a pause he cleared his throat. "So, you were saying something about the dorm?" he hinted.

But Ron simply kissed him right there and the two didn't make it up to the dorms until much later.



As always, please review!