AN: This story is dedicated to Kay/Kamerreon, who inspired it with her prompt Harry/Ernie, stuffed animals. Creative contributions were made by Kay, Kam, Sarah, Rose and Tas, with much thanks. I would have stalled at the second gift without you. Also, this story is slash, regardless of what Harry perspective tells you. Enjoy.

Secret Admirer

Between Harry's wizard lamp and his alarm clock on his nightstand there was a space, reserved for his glasses when he slept. When he blindly put his glasses there that night though, he heard them fall to the floor. He groaned hearing his fragile glasses break, again. He climbed out of bed and felt around the floor for them. After found and repaired them, he went investigate why they fell. In their reserved spot was a chocolate frog. Harry felt irritated with Ron, at first. He was messy and always left his things about. Then Harry felt silly, Ron would never misplace food. So if it hadn't been laziness it had to be...a gift? Harry felt touched. He'd just got done with another detention with Umbitch and could use a little chocolate. Harry unwrapped the sweet, taking a childlike pleasure in it's jump. Harry had seen many amazing sweets since he'd joined the wizarding world, but he had a soft spot for his first. Much happier than a minute ago Harry settled down to sleep.

At breakfast the next morning Harry sat next to Ron. Not wanting to embarrass him he whispered his thanks. Bits of egg flying out of his mouth Ron asked, "For what?" in his normal loud voice.

Now a bit embarrassed himself, Harry said, "For the frog."

Ron looked confused. Then he looked angry. "You stole one of my frogs?"

Harry was alarmed, "No! You gave it to me!" Though privately Harry was beginning to doubt his conclusion that Ron wouldn't misplace food.

Hermione decided to intervene than, "If Harry accidentally ate one of your frogs Ron, it doesn't matter. I'm sure he'll be glad to replace it, and it's just a frog anyway."

Both boys were unhappy but agreed. Harry was more disappointed, he'd thought that Ron had been showing an extra bit of caring last night. More the fool him.

After classes, and much to Harry's horror, Ron ran up to the dorm and insisted on counting all of his candy, not just his frogs. Like Harry was a candy thief on a rampage. After a few recounts, Ron admitted that there was nothing missing. Feeling very irritated with Ron, Harry gave him the exact amount of knuts for a new one anyway. He just wanted to forget the incident, and Ron still looked mad.

A week later the same thing happened again. Luckily his glasses didn't break this time, just fell. In their spot was another chocolate frog with a bow, and "I'm sorry" written on a tag. Underneath, Harry found the same amount of knuts he'd given Ron. Harry didn't know what to think. Was Ron trying to make up for being an arse? Or was this the original giver, making up for the mix up? Harry was sure of one thing, he wasn't going to say thanks. If it was Ron and he didn't acknowledge his generosity, he was sure Ron would tell him what an ungrateful git he was, and the mystery would be solved. Ron didn't tell him what an ungrateful git he was.

It was Friday in the last week of September. Harry was taking notes in transfiguration when his quill turned to ash. Or rather Draco Malfoy cursed it to ash. Professor McGonagall took points for behavior unbecoming. Hermione loaned him one her many spares, and he class moved on. He didn't mention that it had been his favorite quill. It was white with small black spots, just like his owl, Hedwig. Mentioning it would have just given Malfoy more satisfaction.

Harry wanted to go to Hogsmeade to get a replacement quill the next day, but a detention with Umbitch got in the way.

That night he found something on his nightstand again. It was a quill, white with black spots. It was in a small stand, in the shape of an owl. Harry swallowed. The giver knew him a little too well. As if he were standing behind Harry, he remembered Moody's shout of, "Constant Vigilance!" Harry started casting detection spells not only on the quill but around the room, looking for the intruder. There was none, not even an animagus. The quill and stand, were just a quill and stand, with a few anti-leak, ever-sharp, and durability charms. The room held only his fellow roommates.

He looked again at the quill set. It was lovely, and exactly what he would have wanted. It wasn't the quill's fault that it was a bit creepy. He put the set in his bag and went to bed. From then on it was his favorite quill.

The detentions were becoming draining. He was becoming tired and not able to get the energy back. He's giver continued to give him chocolate frogs every few days, usually after a detention. He began to look forward to them, but he decided to keep checking for spells anyway. Moody would murder him if he got complacent.

One night there was a potions bottle next to the frog. The label said it was a blood replenisher. He cast the standard spells, with the expected results. Still not satisfied he got out his potions book and checked the color, taste, and smell against the bottle. He even looked up any side effects of the potion. Apparently there were two types. One potion was for emergencies where the patient had a sudden dramatic loss of blood and needed more to survive. This potion was often accompanied by a blood transfusion when possible. The other, which is what his giver had given him, was called Vampire's Friend.

The blood replenisher, often called Vampire's Friend, is designed for long term blood loss in smaller amounts. It is called Vampire's Friend because witches and wizards who befriend vampires often become donors. While in the short term this will have no ill effects if done correctly, the long term becomes a problem. It is also used for certain blood diseases, though these are more common in the muggle world. It is also helpful for treating patients who suffer from self-injury, or "Cutting." Vampire's Friend gradually ups the blood's ...

Harry read the whole text. There was a lot of medical jargon but it was amazingly understandable. It was perfect. This explained his recent lack of energy, and provided a solution. Harry could take this potion every month for as long as Umbitch was abusing him and he'd have far less problems. It even had a small ability to cleanse dark magic. He didn't know if the blood quill left any taint, but he wouldn't put it past the bitch.

He looked at the potion again and realized something. Someone cared about him. It was almost a shock. Harry knew that there were people that cared about him, at least he thought so. Dumbledore lately had been giving him doubts though. Ron was as fickle as the wind, and just as affectionate. Molly was a good woman, but she loved every stray that crossed her path. Sirius didn't really know him, he knew James. Hermione, well to be honest Harry sometimes wondered. It was more like she knew she should care than she actually did. She tried, but it was hot and cold with her. One minute she was clingy, then the next you had to remind her you existed. Harry knew he shouldn't be so hard on them. Most of the time he didn't think about it. He just wished, in a way that only an orphan could, that someone loved him. Loved him regardless of what he did or didn't do. He didn't know if his giver could do that, but they had proved to him that they knew him, and they cared. It was a good start.

It had been two weeks since the Hogs Head and the beginning of the DA. Harry had never been so busy, or proud, or terrified. He was also surprised at some of the support he was getting. Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs that would not have spit on him if he was on fire last year were suddenly some of his strongest supporters. One of the real shockers had been Ernie Macmillan. Ernie had been one the quickest to judge him in the past, first with the parseltongue and later with the Goblet of Fire. Ernie had stood up and said it was important, more important than anything else.

Afterwards he had come up to Harry privately. He was painfully earnest when he said, "Harry, I am afraid I've been a right pain. I've made some quick judgements, some bad decisions. In my defense, I thought I was defending my friends. I thought you'd almost killed Justin, and that you were trying to steal Cedric's glory. I was wrong. But I know your character now, Harry. I trust you with my life. I hope someday you'll trust me with yours." He had then nodded respectfully with warmth in his eyes and left to catch up with Justin and Susan. It had been surreal. Harry hadn't even had a chance to accept the apology, or say he understood.

Harry was almost disappointed that there was no gift on his nightstand when he checked, but then he saw a book on his pillow. It was hand-made. He picked it up carefully, it wasn't thick but the width and height were large. On the front was an illustration. A boy who looked painfully small was holding up a sword as big as he was facing an unseen foe. The title said it was, "The Adventures of a Boy." He turned the cover, inside in front of the title page, he found a short loose note.

I know that you don't like to talk about the things you've done, but your friends and I are proud of you, and you should be too.

Unsure what to think he turned the pages in the book. Inside was his adventures, if you could call them that. Each page had a illustration, penned and painted. Between the pictures were the stories of his first, second, third and forth years. Told as only his friends knew, but as if the boy were simply a character of a fairy tale. If Harry hadn't lived them himself he would never know that the boy who courageously fought a basilisk to rescue his friend was Harry Potter, and not Henry Evans.

Harry put the book back down carefully and thought. He didn't know that he liked someone knowing these details about he life, when he didn't know who they were. On the other hand, the book was a work of art, and someone had gone to a lot of work to make it for him. They could have easily published it. If they'd included his name they would have made millions of galleons. As he looked at it sitting there like any children's book, he remembered the note, and did feel pride in himself. He still knew it was mostly luck, but having it recorded like that made it real. Umbitch could call him a liar all she wanted, this book was his proof to himself.

There was one large problem with it though. How did his giver know? It was time to talk to his friends.

The next day was Sunday and Harry had been trying to think of a way to talk to his friends about the giver. After lunch, Hermione and Ron were working with him on homework in the Common Room. Well Hermione was working, Ron was starring at space, and Harry was fidgeting with the book. Finally he just put the book in front of them and asked if they knew anything about it.

Hermione picked it up and examined it. Her eyes got wider with every page. "Wow, Harry this is beautiful. When did you get this done? Are you planning to publish? I didn't think you wanted anything like this. I didn't even know you could draw!" she said.

Ron was looking over her shoulder trying to look at the book at the same time. "That's so cool, mate! Why didn't you tell us?"

Harry looked at them, but they were honestly surprised. "So you don't know anything about it? You didn't tell anyone those stories?" he questioned to be sure.

Hermione looked up finally, "You mean you didn't write these?" When Harry shook his head she looked thoughtful.

Ron looked alarmed. "What if it's another animagus! Another Skeeter or," he shuddered, "Scabbers!"

Hermione sigh, "Oh Ron, I don't think so. Obviously they gave the book to Harry, if they got the stories illicitly, they would hardly advertise the fact. I think it's someone in the DA." She handed to book reluctantly back to Harry.

"We should have been more careful I suppose, but I'd already had everyone sign that paper, and they all wanted to know more about what you wouldn't talk about. It seemed harmless, and I hoped it would encourage them." Hermione began to ramble.

Harry cut her off, "So you did tell someone?"

"Well not just me! And not any one person. After the meeting they were curious, they wanted to know about the basilisk, and facing You-Know- er Voldemort. I think Ginny must have told most about the Chamber, there's things in there that I didn't know. But I recognize my explanation of the logic test in first year. Ron's exaggeration of being dragged backward to the shrieking shack is hard to miss too. You'll notice that the Triwizard tournament is the most scarce of details, because we all got it second hand from you." She paused and seemed to think before she continued. "Harry, you may not appreciate the gift but someone went to a lot of trouble to make that. I'm surprised she got it done in just two weeks. I think that you've got an admirer."

Harry starred at her. He couldn't believe he hadn't thought that way before. None of the gifts so far were what he would call romantic, but if you just wanted to be friends with someone, you didn't send them secret gifts. He thought about the people who'd joined the DA. Did Cho have artistic talent? She'd been obviously trying to catch his eye recently, though he'd been trying not to notice. The idea of him and Cho just felt weird now. Well, he still liked the book, and now that he knew how they got the stories he could relax.

The book seemed to have broken a barrier that he hadn't realized was there. When Harry didn't blow up about the book, he began to receive more personal presents.

On Halloween he found a small wrapped gift in black paper with a black ribbon. The tag said, "In sympathy for your loss." Inside he found a painted ceramic lily. Uncomfortable with asking Ron and Hermione about another gift he asked Neville.

Neville was surprised, both at the gift and that Harry didn't know. Traditionally when someone close to you loses a family member you give them a Black Gift. The gift needed to be a deliberate reminder of the lost loved one. He said, "For example, if you died tomorrow, Merlin forbid, I would probably get Ron and Hermione something like a snitch, or maybe a vase for Potter, you know? Normally you'd only give it to your family, but with you being an orphan..," Neville trailed off embarrassed. "Anyway, with the lily, they were actually very clever. They got your mother's first name, and your father's last, in one gift. I don't understand why they're giving it to you now though, it's been 14 years. That's something you do right after, and only if your close." Harry thanked Neville and put the lily on a shelf to display it. No one had ever done something like that for him before. Harry supposed they assumed he was over it by now.

Harry didn't know what to make of this gift. Thankfully they'd written a note to explain but Harry was still not sure whether to be offended or not. He wasn't a kid, or a girl, why send him a teddy bear?

This toy came out on the market when I was little. It's officially called a "Hug Me Bear." I don't know how it started but it became known as a Silly Bear. Because it hugs you silly. I had one myself. If you promise not to tell, I'll even admit that mine is still with me today. It was a great comfort for me, when my parents were too busy, or I thought I was too grown up, for a hug. I know that we should be too old for such things. But everyone's lonely sometime. I also know that sometimes, I still need my Silly Bear and a hug.

The note said nothing of muggles, cupboards, or orphans. It was actually the most telling thing Harry had about his secret admirer. However, Harry knew that Malfoy had found some things out about his home life and was spreading it around. Harry figured that was the real trigger for the gift. The sentiment seemed sincere though. Harry hesitantly put his arms around the large teddy bear and squeezed. He did not giggle when the arms squeezed him back. Nor did it sleep in his bed some nights.

Harry was listlessly watching the Weasleys and Sirius open presents Christmas morning. He was preoccupied with what happened to Mr. Weasley. He didn't know how they could tolerate his presence, but they insisted on calling him a hero. Arthur was back now but it didn't change that he'd watched, if not actually participated in, his almost being killed. Ever since that night he'd been reliving it over and over. This time though he was aware of what he was doing and screaming, "No! Stop! Mr. Weasley!" in his sleep. Ron had to wake him up and tell him his dad was alright. By this time Harry's eyes were hallow and he was barely awake even with all the noise around him.

Ron shoved him. "Cheer up mate, it's Christmas. You have to be happy on Christmas. Here open this!" he said and shoved a random gift into Harry's lap.

Harry put on a happier face for his friend and opened the present. Inside was a large ring with a web stretched inside of it. At cross points in the net were stone beads covering the knot. Hanging from the ring on strings were feathers and more stone beads. Curious, Harry picked it up and held it upright. In the light the strands that he'd thought were white, took on a rainbow sheen. Also the hide covering the ring felt rougher than leather. He was unsurprised to find a note in familiar handwriting in the box.

Before he could read it Charlie exclaimed, "That's one first class Dreamcatcher, Harry. Who'd you get it from?"

"Dream what?" Harry asked. Charlie held out a hand, silently asking if he could see it. Harry reluctantly gave it to him. "You see this web? Spun unicorn hair. When this is hung above where you sleep the web catches your dreams. The unicorn hair purifies them. So good dreams will filter down to you. This hide around it is Dragon, to hold onto and imprison nightmares until morning. These stones, if I'm not mistaken, will be agate, which is known for it's protection and strengthening properties, they help both the dragonhide and hair do the job better. I'm afraid I don't know the feathers, pretty though."

"How come I haven't seen one of these before?" Harry asked. "I know one of my dorm mates has had some pretty bad nightmares."

Charlie handed the dreamcatcher back to Harry. "Well they're more popular in the states. They were invented by the native wizards over there. Also the muggles got a hold of the idea. Only they make there's with cow hide and string. Absolutely useless. Of course, you know some purebloods, if it's good enough for Muggles, it's not good enough for them. I actually only know about them because I had a boyfriend at the reserve once, who was part Ojibwa. He made me one for Valentines. You've got a very good friend there Harry, just the materials alone is costly. They also work better if made by someone who cares about you." Bill asked Charlie a question and he turned his attention away.

Harry found himself holding off shock. Charlie was gay? Charlie was a pansy, a fairy, a good for nothing queer? Harry heard in his head Uncle Vernon's voice roaring that the only thing worse than a freak, was a disgusting queer. Harry knew he shouldn't take anything his uncle said seriously but he'd always though gay men were, well girly. That they talked funny and had long hair and sometimes liked to dress in dresses. Charlie was handsome, muscular, had a dangerous job, and talked like everyone else. Harry looked around but no one seemed to think that Charlie having a boyfriend was at all noteworthy.

To distract himself Harry turned back to his present, and the longer than usual note inside. He set the dreamcatcher back in the box and leaned back in his chair to read.

Dear Harry,

Happy Christmas! My family celebrates Yule but when I asked, people said you usually celebrate Christmas with the Weasleys. I hope you're having a good time. I don't think I have even half the story but on the train they said you'd had a bad foretelling dream about Mr. Weasley. I was unaware that you were a seer. I've since heard that Mr. Weasley went to St. Mungos. I hope he will be alright. If you can, give him my best wishes for good health.

I was saving this to give you in February. It's considered a good Valentines gift. As it indicates your hope that the dreamer has good dreams of the giver. That seems selfish now. If you are a seer, I hope the gryphon feathers will help you see true, even as the unicorn hair insures you only see good things. Or so I hope.

The rest of the letter was an explanation in more detail of what Charlie had said. Harry appreciated the information but wished there had been more of the personal message. He found he wanted to know what she did for Yule with her family, and how she was doing. One thing he finally had confirmed was that she thought of him romantically. There was no other reason to mention Valentines. He felt a glow in his chest at the thought. He wished that he knew who they were. He'd been gradually marking off the girls of the DA. Eliminating those who didn't fit. Right now it could be any one of a number of girls. Whoever they were, if he ever found out, he thought there was a good chance he would like them back.

A few days later he had time to think about the Charlie revelation. He wondered what was true and what was Uncle Vernon. Were his uncle's views on gays because he was a muggle or because he was a Dursley. He wished there was a convenient book so he didn't have to ask but knew he wasn't going to find, "Homosexuals: Wizarding vs. Muggle," in the Black library. Who to ask became another dilemma. Normally he might ask Arthur, but not only did recent events make that uncomfortable, but Charlie was also a factor as his son.

Finally he decided that as his Godfather, Sirius was the only choice, even if he did fear ridicule from the prankster. The Weasley's had taken the day to spend some time with extended family, like Molly's Aunt Muriel, and various cousins. He found his godfather in the kitchen with a bottle. He also found Remus trying to convince Sirius to give it up. At first, Harry was dismayed, but then he realized that Sirius wasn't going to laugh at his ignorance with Remus there. This was actually better.

He sat down next to them and asked if he could talk to them about some stuff. "Harry, you know we can't talk about the Order-," Remus began.

"Oh! No, that's not what I wanted to talk about," Harry said, even as he fidgeted with his shirt. He looked at Sirius. "You can't laugh!" He commanded Sirius seriously. Sirius looked like he wanted to laugh at that but just nodded and held up his hand, saying, "Wizard's honor."

Harry swallowed and began, "You see, Uncle Vernon had a lot of opinions. Most of them stupid. He called me a freak, but he called lots of people freaks, or other things. I need to know what's OK in the wizarding world, or even the muggle world, but not in a Dursley house." He looked at them, hoping for encouragement. They looked angry. Harry began to regret his decision. He made to get up. Remus grabbed his arm, keeping him in his seat.

"Harry it's alright. We're not made at you. We're upset with the Dursley's. I think that it's safe to say that you can assume everything that man ever told you is false. What did you have a question about specifically?" Remus said gently.

"Er, well, um." Harry stopped. "Charlie said he had a boyfriend?"

The light went on in Remus and Sirius' faces. Harry could see it as they silently debated how to answer. In the end they took turns telling him about homosexuality, bisexuals, and even people who enjoy dressing as the opposite sex. They told him that where ever there was society, there was prejudice. Like with muggleborns there was people who saw nothing wrong, and some who were violently against. Most people were somewhere in the middle, with no opinion either way, unless it affected them personally.

While they were on the subject, Sirius took the opportunity to give a too informative talk about the birds and the bees, enjoying the many shades of red that Harry went. He even discussed gay sex, though Harry vehemently denied any desire to know. Sirius claimed that Harry was too young to know that for sure. Harry thought he just enjoyed teasing him. By the time they were done, Harry had been thoroughly embarrassed, but felt strangely good. He was a bit upset with Sirius though. He'd laughed loudly, when Harry had asked incredulously, "He puts it where?" when they were telling him about anal sex.

After he had his talk with the former Marauders Harry began to curse his dreamcatcher. At first it worked perfectly. For the first time in what felt like ages he had no nightmares. Then his dreams started to be a little too good. He never remembered much. He knew he felt safe, loved, and comforted. And, in the end, very aroused.

As if his admirer had heard his wish on Christmas, gifts now included letters almost every time. She had a very formal way of speaking, but Harry was beginning to pick up on her dry jokes. He also determined that she was definitely not a Gryffindor. She described events that had never happened in Harry's house. One thing he found interesting was the First Night Sleepover. Some clever person centuries back relised that the first night away from home was the hardest, especially for first years. So, on the night of the opening feast everyone in the house brought down blankets and pillow for themselves. Theny the pushed back all the chairs, tables, and couches and had a sleepover. No one felt alone, it turned a trial into a party, and it served to bond the housemates together. Their housemaster even looked the other way if they stayed up a bit, though it was emphasized that it was a sleepover.

She even admitted to being in the DA when she thanked him for helping her learn the Patronus Charm.

I've always been of middling power, never the best, never the worst. When you showed us the charm, I doubted I would ever do it. Than I saw others, just like me, casting and succeeding. And you looked at me, and told me I could do it. Would it sound cheesy that that became my happy memory? You believing in me is one of the best feelings I know. When I finally saw an animal come from my wand I wanted to shout for your attention, yelling "I did it, come see!" like a little kid. I think I only restrained myself because my housemates were smirking at me. They've been teasing me since Christmas.

At the beginning of February Harry finally got tired of being unable to reply. So in the spot where his gifts were usually left he put a letter and a chocolate frog.

Dear Friend,

I'm sorry if chocolate frogs are not your favorite, you know so much about me but I know very little about you. Please, tell me what you like? Not only candy but what do you like to do for fun? what's your best subject?

Thank you for your gifts, they've been great. I can't tell you how much they've helped me. That dreamcatcher may actually have saved my life. I don't know how to repay you, but I'd like to try.

I'm especially glad for your letters after I've had remedial potions. I shouldn't tell you this, except I trust you, but I'm not learning potions at those lessons. He's teaching me Occlumency. It's hard though, and it hurts. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, and he won't tell me. Just shouts for me to clear my mind and attacks. Bastard.


The letter and frog disappeared and were replaced with Harry's newest gift. From then on it was an equal exchange.

Harry was surprised, though he shouldn't have been, when the next gift turned out to be a loan of a priceless book on Occlumency. It was very old and wouldn't have looked out of place in the Black library. Just looking at it Harry knew that it had to be part of her family's library, something handed down for generations. Harry felt nervous just holding it.

The letter was mostly a castigation of Snape and his absurd teaching methods. Apparently children in her family were taught meditation from a young age, and Occlumency after their first show of magic. Harry was told to read the book, and ask any questions he had. She also said that, next potions class, regardless of points, they were going to blow up a cauldron in Snape's face. Deliberately.

If felt good to have someone that could help him, and wanted to defend him so fiercely. She reminded him of Ernie Macmillian actually. Misguided though he'd been, he had been defending his friends. Harry admired that.

Thinking of Hufflepuffs, Harry was beginning to think his secret admirer was Susan Bones. So far things fit, but Harry wasn't certain. He didn't want to guess and be wrong. That would be embarrassing for everyone. He also didn't know how he felt about her. He liked her, but didn't think he was attracted to her. He tried to pin point why, but ended up just shrugging off the effort.

It was the day of the Slytherin/Gryffindor quidditch match, and for once a gift showed up in the morning. When Harry got up he found a small jewelry box next to his glasses. He opened it excitedly. Inside was a gold chain necklace with large links. Nestled in the chain was a golden snitch. He saw writing scrolling around it and picked it up to read. "Kiss Good Luck!" he read aloud. As he said it the wings on the snitch fluttered once, and as they did Harry could have sworn he felt the lightest of touches to his lips. To be sure he said it again. Again the wings fluttered and his lips tingled. He felt his heart beat skip. Finally he pulled the rest of the chain out of the box and put it over his head. The snitch fit comfortably under his robes. He didn't think it was chance that it rested above his heart.

When Umbitch disbanded the DA and took over the school Harry wanted to scream for more than the obvious reasons. He was so close. It had to be one of a few girls in 5th or 6th year Hufflepuff. A few more questions during DA and he would have figured it out. Oh he was upset about Dumbledore and Voldemort and Umbitch walking around like the Queen of England, but he was just a boy, and this was a mystery he'd been trying to solve for almost 8 months. Though admittedly, some of the girls had taken to giggling madly when he started to ask them questions. He thought some of them might be deliberately lying to mess him up. Harry knew that his friend wouldn't lie to him though, so he wasn't worried about that.

What did worry him was OWLs. Even his friend was giving him study tips in his letters. The girls had stopped acting coy and more irritated when he talked to them, the closer they got to OWLs. He didn't know now if he'd find out who it was by the end of the year

Between proper Occlumency lessons, from his friend, and the dreamcatcher, Harry hadn't had a single Voldmort dream since Christmas. However, a dreamcatcher can't catch a dream at your desk, and if you fall asleep without meditation Occlumency doesn't do you any good either. So when he did just that in the History exam he had no defense, and no forewarning. Because the only previous dream he had was Mr. Weasley and the snake, he didn't even suspect it was false. Mr. Weasley had been hurt at the ministry, Sirius was being hurt at the ministry, it made perfect sense.

When his friends insisted on coming with him to the rescue he was both disappointed and relieved that none of the girls he suspected were among them.

Harry sat in the Room of Requirement, alone and depressed. The trip to the Department of Mysteries was a disaster. Now Sirius was dead, and it was his fault. He should have seen it was a trap. He should have called the Order, or called Sirius or something. Anything would have been better than take off on thestrals to the ministry of magic.

Although Sirius was heavily on his mind, something else couldn't help but intrude. The train was to leave tomorrow and his secret admirer hadn't sent him anything since the incident. Harry was also disappointed, apparently she had cared more about keeping her identity secret than saving his godfather. Harry tried to make excuses but in the face of her silence was finding it hard to do.

When the door to the room opened, Harry looked up, but it was only Ernie. He'd been hoping... Harry sighed and continued to mope.

"I hear that you've been hoping your girlfriend will come apologize for not going to the ministry with you." Ernie's voice was surprisingly cold.

Harry looked up startled. He and Ernie had got on very well since the beginning of this year. He was hardly expecting this. Then Harry realized what must be going on. Ernie was defending his friend. It was Susan than. Harry spoke back just as coldly, "Are you here to defend her?"

Ernie sighed, sounding tired. He acted like Harry had somehow disappointed him. "Did you bother to invite your friend? Did you even bother to tell them you were living for a life and death situation? That you expected to go confront Voldemort for the life of your godfather, and might not come back? Or did you just set yourself to go, without care for those that care for you? Only those who were in your immediate vicinity even knew you were leaving! And Luna, but she knows odd things. The rest of your party were gryffindors, and close friends. So please, keep feeling justified in your sulk." Ernie sat down next to Harry and then stayed silent. Harry could practically feel his indignation.

Harry tried to stay mad. She hadn't talked to him! But eventually Ernie's points got through. He supposed it was unreasonable to expect her to drop everything and come running when she couldn't have known what was going on. Still feeling sulky, he said, "I'm sorry, but she hasn't talked to me since we got back."

Ernie sighed again, and this time he seemed just sad. "Maybe, she got tired of waiting for you to figure out the She might be a He."

Harry turned and stared at Ernie, who refused to look back. Harry was flabbergasted. Never had it even occurred to him. Uncle Vernon strikes again. "Really?"

Ernie finally looked at him, "Really." He seemed to gather himself, "Look, Harry, I understand. It's not like it's something you can change. I guess I just hoped that if you got to know me, you'd give me a chance. When the rumors of your secret admirer girlfriend began to surface, I didn't want to give it up to correct you. I'm sorry." Ernie got up from the couch and headed to the door.

"Wait!" Harry yelled and got up to follow him. He grabbed Ernie's arm and turned him gently to face Harry. Harry chewed his lip nervously, looking up at the much taller boy. Harry couldn't believe he was doing this, but the person he had slowly fallen in love with over the past year was about to walk out that door, and Harry knew he couldn't let him. He licked his lips and asked, "Can I just, try something?" Ernie was confused but figured at this point it couldn't hurt any more. It was always a painful thing, having your heart broken. He nodded and waited.

Harry stood on his toes and hurriedly pressed his lips to Ernie's, bracing himself with both hands on Ernie's shoulders. Ernie let out a surprised gasp and put his hands on either side of Harry's head, holding him in place while Ernie fervently returned the kiss. He kept waiting for Harry to pull away, even as he savored the perfect moment.

After too brief a time Ernie felt Harry pull away and let him go. He looked down at Harry, his eyes unconsciously pleading. Harry was looking at him and he appeared shocked.

Harry began to smile, "You know, I think we can work something out after all." And then pulled his boyfriend down for another kiss.

The End