This is story #5 in my Harry/Ron 50 word prompts table. Prepare for the unrequited angst!

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Ron Weasley is my very best mate, and I love him.

He's always been there for me. Sure, we've had a few spats here and there. The worst was in fourth year when we had stopped speaking to each other for a few weeks, but eventually both of us realized how stupid we had been, and we got over it. After that we were best mates again.

I knew from the first day I met him that I loved him.

It was a strange kind of feeling because I don't think I had ever loved anyone before. I certainly didn't love the Dursleys. But after spending no more than an hour with him, I knew that if it came down to it, I would be willing to lay my life on the line for Ron. I knew that he would be willing to do the same for me.

Ron was just instantly my best mate and I loved him, even if he was my only mate at the time, and I had no idea what love really was. I knew that we would stay up late at night talking when we should really be in bed asleep; and eat too many sweets; and be late for class together; and learn how to ride brooms together; and play games when we should really be doing our homework. I just knew from that moment that we would be doing all of those kinds of things together --- just like best mates should. And we did; we still do.

Of course, I went on to make other friends and I learned to love other people. I love Hermione, and all of my mates in Gryffindor. They are my friends and I would fight to my own death to protect any of them.

But Ron is still… different.

All of us --- Ron, Hermione, the others from Gryffindor, and even some people from the other houses, have fought alongside me --- but still, Ron is the one I will worry about first. The one I will protect first.

He is the one I notice first.

We can all be in a classroom and I notice Ron: Ron's hair, Ron's laughter, Ron's smile.

But I am not the only one to notice. Girls now look at Ron and notice him; only now do they notice the beauty that I always knew he had. Girls blush and giggle and flirt with him, and Ron enjoys the attention.

It infuriates me.

None of those girls ever played chess with him. They never traded Chocolate Frog Cards, or helped him de-gnome the garden at the Burrow.

Lavender Brown once told Ron that his freckles made her want to take him to the Hospital Wing just to make sure that he didn't have some kind of wizard measles. Now she whispers about how 'cute' they are.

I have always wondered if one could connect all of Ron's freckles and make some kind of pattern, like a star constellation. I actually tried to once when he had fallen asleep. I stood there and looked at his chest; I looked and counted, and tried to arrange and rearrange, but eventually I just determined that Ron has as many freckles as the sky has stars. His stars just manage to glow even when the Sun is out, and with that hair, he carries the Sun with him, anyway.

Lavender and the other girls don't scare me, even if they do make me mad, but Hermione makes an effort to pay more girlish attention to him now as well. When we were younger and his tie or collar was askew, she would just yell at him to fix it; now she ever-so-politely fixes it for him.

She touches him.

If a lock of his flaming hair falls into his eyes, she brushes it back for him. She strokes her fingers over his forearms. She squeezes his hand and pats his shoulder, and just stands too damn close to him.

Ron loves the attention. He's never had much attention paid to him before just because he was Ron Weasley, and he deserved it. I should not begrudge him this now, but I can't help it.

I noticed him first! Just because I don't giggle behind my hands doesn't mean that I am not aware of the beauty of his sunset-kissed hair, or the perfect bow that his lips form.

Would any of those giggling girls be willing to die for him as I have been? Would he be willing to die for them?

Hermione would. And he would be willing to die for her as well.

Ron is my best mate, but Hermione is our other best mate, and we both love her. I know that she loves both of us. Any one of us would be willing to die to protect the other two. I sincerely hope nothing breaks that bond, but I am afraid.

Today at breakfast, Hermione brushed the fringe back from Ron's forehead, and I felt anger and jealously flare up in me, and heard a voice that screamed, "MINE!"

Ron just smiled rather bashfully, mumbled a 'thanks', and continued eating.

Ron Weasley is my very best mate, and I love him. But I am afraid. I am afraid that one day, he will turn to Hermione and brush back a strand of her hair in return.

I am afraid that if that ever happens, I will hate him.