Written for the Forum Wide Competition at the HPFF Forum :)

House: Slytherin

Fanon Pairing: Harry/Hermione

Canon Pairing: Ron/Hermione

Setting: Hogwarts and beyond

Thank you Mew for the amazing beta work, and the never-ending support :D

He was a hero, a real hero, and it felt like a dream come true to become friends with him, instantly - okay, maybe not so instantly, but still - in her first year itself. She never had friends before, and he was her first friend - because seriously, Ron was too irritating and they argued far too much to be considered friends - so falling for him was the most natural thing in the world.

o00o

She had prayed, hoped, wished all summer that their friendship would remain strong and long because she had seen far too many people changing over the vacations, and she hoped he wasn't one of them. If he changed, their friendship would change, too. But God had been kind, and she was so happy when she saw him at the gates of Gringotts, standing there with Hagrid.

o00o

They said he was the Heir of Slytherin, but she knew better. He doubted himself, but she believed in him. Their friendship might be only one year old, but she knewknewknew that Harry was anything but a killer. He could never hurt anyone - forget his own friends. So she researched day and night in the library, until her eyes met his but she didn't want to die - not now when she finally found the solution to Harry's problem, not now when she could save another life - but she didn't seem to have any choice as she collapsed to the floor, closing her eyes shut.

o00o

He looked beautiful on the Buckbeak. He truly did. She had been scared for him - really, it was in her nature - but now, she couldn't take her eyes off him. He flew higher and higher, until her eyes could see no more. Yet she wanted to see more.

o00o

Sirius Black. The name sent cringes up her spine. How could someone be that cruel, that heartless? He had been Harry's father's best friend, Harry's godfather - and he had deceived them all, for he was power-hungry coward. And now, he had escaped the Azkaban to fulfill the task left unfinished by his mater. But she won't let him kill Harry - She won't. They will capture him and send him back to where he belonges: with the Dementors. For they couldn't all be Voldemort - they couldn't just kill him.

o00o

It made her feel funny being alone with Harry, really. She wasn't used to and somehow it seemed weird. She tried to concentrate on the task in front of her - saving Sirius and Buckbeak - but it wasn't that easy. They were pressed together, beneath the Invisibility Cloak and then later outside Hagrid's hut and the slightest touch evoked strong emotions in her body. She tried to blame it on the hormones - but they were her hormones and couldn't exactly act on their own.

o00o

She had never been to Quidditch World Cup before. Sure, she didn't like Quidditch much, but it felt like a real sign of belonging to the Wizarding World. But then - the Dark Mark happened. She didn't want to think what it meant, but she didn't seem to have a choice, because her mind worked of its own accord. Voldemort was back.

o00o

She felt she was being forced to choose between her two best friends - like being cut into two halves. She believed Harry. She really did, because she knew he wouldn't lie to her and Ron. Yet her heart knew that Ron wasn't wrong either. It was rather hard to believe that someone else had put Harry's name in the Goblet of Fire - yet it was the truth. So she stood by Harry, helping and guiding him always and forever.

o00o

She would rather die than admit - but she enjoyed the time she got alone with Harry. There always seemed to be a Ron Weasley between them - but now, no more. It's not like she didn't like Ron's company; she really did, but it also meant that she couldn't be alone with the guy she preferred. Harry was really sweet and for the first time she felt that maybe, just maybe, he liked her, too, for she was the girl he was closest to and recently his behavior was rather like a young boy experiencing his first crush. But her hopes were soon crushed - because really, he liked Cho Chang.

o00o

She felt selfish - very selfish, in fact. He was her best friend; she should be upset that he had been rejected from the first girl he had ever liked. But she couldn't shake the giddy, happy feeling from her body - because it meant that she finally had a chance, even at the expense of Harry's sadness. But she knew that chance would be crushed soon as well, because he saw her nothing more than his best friend - so she did the only thing that seemed right to her; She said yes to Vicktor Krum for the Yule Ball, because it was easier to crush her hopes herself than to see them crushed by the guy she liked.

o00o

Ron liked her - She had always known it before, but never so well. Now, it was crystal clear; there was no doubt about it in her mind. The jealousy, the bitterness, the arguments - it all made sense. But did she like him? She didn't think so. Sure, there had been a time she thought she was attracted to him before she liked Harry - but that was a while back, and she knew that attraction had ended now.

o00o

She read the mad woman's article, puzzled. How had Rita Seeker found out that she liked Harry when she herself hadn't admitted it to anyone? Was she that clear? Had Harry also guessed it? She didn't think so. Yet the woman had definitely gotten one thing right - Hermione Granger was in love with Harry Potter, and there was nothing that could change her heart.

o00o

She saw the prefect badge in Harry's hand and her heart leapt - because to her, it meant another chance for her name and Harry's to stand together. But alas, reality was far from truth. It wasn't Harry who became the Gryffindor prefect with her, but Ron - and she would be lying if she said she was anything less than shocked.

o00o

Life was very strange – very, very strange, indeed. She always had two best friends, and she always preferred one over the other. Yet the circumstances seemed to be changing now - and it certainly wasn't her fault. With each passing day, she felt the distance between her and Harry being increasing because Harry was no longer the same boy he had been. His frustrations, his fears seemed to be changing him - and that change was forcing his relationship with his friends to change as well.

o00o

She saw the scars on Harry's hands and looked away. How could someone be so cruel, so mean? Umbridge was here to teach them, not to torture them. She should be locked away in Azkaban - because no human being - Muggle or witch - had any right to torture another fellow being.

o00o

She always knew that it would be tough to be best friends with "The" Harry Potter - but she never knew it would be tough in this way. Because she couldn't help but feel jealousjealousjealous as Harry grew closer to Cho Chang and asked her for advice. As his friend, it was her duty to guide him in the best possible way - so she did that, but she knewknewknew that she was dying inside.

o00o

"You like him, don't you?" Luna asked her.

"Like who?" She pretended to be oblivious.

"Harry,"

"No - No. We are just friends, really. I don't know why people find it so hard to believe," Hermione said, looking at the floor. For some unknown reason, she found it hard to look into Luna's eyes. They seemed to be so piercing, as if looking directly into her soul - and that just made it so difficult to lie to her.

o00o

Harry defended her from Cho, Harry defended her from Cho, Harry broke up with Cho because of her, Harry thought her spell was splendid.

She felt like jumping in the air, dancing on the skies, floating on the moon. She knew it was wrong to have such feelings in the midst of war - but really, she couldn't help herself. Harry and Cho had broken up, and it was her who Harry chose over Cho Chang - pretty, beautiful Cho Chang.

o00o

"NO!" she shouted in a cracked voice. "No - Harry - we'll have to tell her!"

She couldn't let Umbridge use the Cruciatus Curse on Harry. She couldn't stand here and watch him being tortured like this. She couldn't, couldn't, couldn't. So she interceded without having any idea of what she should say next, where she should lead Umbridge.

o00o

She told Ron - She told Ron that she liked Harry. It was the right thing to do. She didn't want him to live in false hopes. It wasn't fair, it wasn't. His reaction was expected - he left her, never telling Harry the real reason he turned to Lavender, never telling Harry that it was because of him he stopped talking to Hermione - because he had promised her. It hurt her, and she was angry – very, very angry. So she set the canaries on him because she couldn't control the rage inside her.

o00o

"As I doubt the Half-Blood Prince could dream up any anti-dote for a dozen different love potions at once, I'd just invite someone to go with you, that'll stop all the others thinking they've still got a chance. It's tomorrow night, they're getting desperate."

She wished he would say that they could go together, but she knew the chances were slim. Even if he couldn't see it, she could. He had finally fallen for Ginny Weasley, and she knew that any chance she had left was now crushed. Really, she knew she couldn't ever compete with her. There was no competition in the matters of heart.

Harry thought her tears were for Ron, but how wrong he was.

o00o

She heard him - heard Ron saying her name, and she couldn't felt feel the guilt overwhelm her. How could she be so selfish? How could she be so greedy? She had a guy who loved her, but she insisted on throwing him away, hurting him in the process. So when he got up, she smiled and told him that the feeling for Harry was just a passing attraction - because she didn't want to cause him pain again.

o00o

She saw him take Ginny into his arms and kiss her, right then and there and she couldn't help but feel her heart shattering into million pieces. She knew it would happen, but to see it happening in front of her own eyes - it was just too much. So she ranranran, into the Room of Requirement, where Ron found her, hours later, God knows how, crying her heart out.

o00o

She saw Voldemort coming towards them, flying. Her heart seemed to stop beating, and she entwined her fingers into Kingsley's for support. Voldemort thought she was Harry. She would die any second, she knew - but she would die a happy death, because she knew that her death would be giving life to the person who mattered the most to her - Harry Potter.

o00o

"I thought he knew what he was supposed to do," she said, turning another page of Beedle the Bard.

"So did I. I never expected this to be... Like this," Ron replied.

She didn't know what she had been expecting - but it had certainly not been this. She thought Harry had a clear idea, a clear plan given to him by Professor Dumbledore. But sadly, it did not seem to be the case.

o00o

She chose Harry. Ron had been right - this was exactly what she had done. But it wasn't she who was wrong - It was Ron. How could he leave Harry? They were all he had - and he was all she wanted to have.

o00o

They sat there alone, looking at the fire she had burned to protect them from freezing. She could feel the heat radiating from his body and she inched away from him.

"Hermione?" he called her out.

"Yeah?" she asked.

"Can I put my arms around you? I just need to feel some, you know, human presence," he said, embarrassed.

She came closer to him, laying her head on his shoulder as he put his arms around her. It felt good, it really did - but she knew it was wrongwrongwrong to feel this way. Because he loved Ginny, and according to him, she loved Ron. But did she really?

o00o

She lay next to him that night, and she saw him tensing.

"What happened?" she asked, but he looked away.

She tried to inch away, because his reaction made her think she had done something wrong, but he pulled her closer. He wrapped his arms around her, and she lay in them, blissfully.

They never discussed what happened that night ever again.

o00o

She saw him breaking down, next to his parents graves. It hurt her to see him like this - but there was nothing she could do. She held his hand tightly, and he returned the pressure. She felt him looking around and she knew what he wanted. She conjured a bouquet of Christmas flowers out of her wand, which Harry gently laid on his parents' graves.

o00o

She carefully placed the dittany on his wounds as he lay there, asleep. She knew it had been a bad idea to go to that place - she knewknewknew. It had been useless; all it had caused was damage to Harry, to his soul, to his body. And it was all her fault.

o00o

"No!" Ron shouted. "You could have me, keep me!"

Ron still loved her. Even during this grave danger, he wanted to take her place. She couldn't help but feel her swell with his love, but that was the problem. It was his love, not hers.

o00o

He was dead - Harry Potter was dead. She felt the doom coming over her. It was all going to end. But she wouldn't stop fighting. Not now, not ever. Until her last breath, she would fight - she would kill those who had killed Harry. She would kill each and every one of them. She would, she would, and she would.

o00o

"Hermione," Ginny said excitedly. "I'm pregnant!"

She hugged Ginny - smiling, smiling, smiling. Yet she felt her heart breaking, because she knew this was it - this was IT. There could be no Harry&Hermione. There could only be Harry&Ginny. And the time had come for her to move ahead in her life, with the guy who loved her, and not Ginny Weasley - Ron Weasley.

Fin -

WOW! Finally done! =D This was indeed the longest one-shot I have ever written and I am rather proud of it Do let me know what you think =D