Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. The series and rights belong to J.K. Rowling.

She was There

Genre: Romance

Pairings: Harry/Hermione

Rating: T

Summary: After startling news, Harry rushes to the portrait of Dumbledore to get answers. Only to get one more life-altering lesson from the former Headmaster and a new thinking about his choice of women. (DH compatible till Epilogue)

Note: This is a story that is anti-Ginny/Harry (the couple) but not anti-Ginny. She is no villain, she is not out of character (to my knowledge). Please go in reading with these things in mind. Harry might be the one that seems OOC simply because he seems to be temper-tantruming and PMSing (he goes through almost every state of emotion) throughout the whole thing (which he does in the books at times).

Warnings: Bad language, lots of dialogue, slight "bashing" of a pairing, small hints of Book and Movie combination

She was There

Not many could rival the temperament Harry Potter can release. Though a gentle boy at heart, he had a whirlwind of powerful emotions that most would be ill-advised to face, let alone tempt. That being noted, it was no surprise that every member within the castle, student, teacher, and ghost, avoided the hero at all cost. When those green eyes were flaming, his brows knotted, and his lips pulled back into a tight line it was a clear sign that there was danger afoot. Most had to pity whomever it was that ignited such fury.

Sadly, for the young man that is, the individual who was the cause of this particular fit could not be beaten bloody or hexed out of his mind. And that thought alone drove him even wilder with anger. It fueled him to rush up the long, winding staircase towards the tower of the Headmaster, particularly the office. There was no mercy in his eyes; just raw fury and determination.

Up ahead he could see the grand door the protective gargoyles staring at him as he barged through; no password was needed. The damn bastard knew he was coming. And soon the eighteen year old was standing in the middle of an office filled with papers and golden trinkets, not much has been touched since his death.

"Come the fuck out here! Come the fuck out here NOW!"

"Language...language." The soft voice replied, stern but filled with mirth. Harry spun to have his glare rest on a portrait upon the wall to his right. He growled again when Dumbledore came out and into the open from behind the frames. Those twinkling eyes still looked alive despite him no longer being flesh. "It is so good to see you Harry. I haven't seen you since the defeat of Voldemort."

"Cut the shit, you bastard." Harry snarled, his fists clenching. He was not one who cursed lightly. Though a man and a bit gruff at times, he was a gentleman, and preferred to show respect then coarseness. However his former mentor has brought all his manners crumbling and left a very pissed-off man in wake. Cursing felt like a perfect ventilation since he couldn't physically maim Albus. "What the hell have you done! Why can't you just let me be? Why the hell do you have to keep controlling me, even in death!"

"Please, I am but an old man. We elderly folk feel faint at such distasteful language." Albus joked as he walked behind the desk that was in his portrait. He took a seat in his plush chair, his smile not wavering as he looked upon the boy. Pride was in his features. "Calm yourself, Harry. We cannot have a discussion when you are so blinded by emotion."

"There is no discussion!" The Savior all but roared. "I want answers! I've done everything you have asked! I've sacrificed so much and still," Harry spat, his voice dark and hateful. "You go behind my back and do this to me. You...you bastard!"

"You have called me that already. Please, you are a smart boy. Let's see that originality." As usual, he always had the upper hand. Nothing ever fazed him. Nothing made him falter. It drove Harry mad. "I take it you were given my letter today." The old wizard nodded in relief, "Good, good. So glad Gringotts didn't fail."'

"Stop acting like this is some sort of cheery chit-chat over scones. You...what have you done!" Harry cried out, his voice echoing in the office. Magic spiked and a glass figurine shattered and some of the shelves quivered. But Dumbledore paid no mind, though he would miss that elephant figurine a bit, and only stared upon the boy. There was no guilt or regret, the man knew what he had done and would not apologize for it.

"What was best for you Harry."

"A marriage contract?" He roared. "You are forcing me into a marriage contract? How the bloody HELL is that what's best for me!" Harry had to pause a moment to pant, but he was far from done. He has been holding this in ever since his required trip to Grignotts. He was told he will be married before the end of the month or his wealth, his parent's wealth, would be given to his betrothed he had been a maddened animal. He had apparated to Hogwart's grounds and then stormed up to face the man who dared sign his life over like that. "I thought I earned some sort of freedom after all the crap you and that monster put me through. Now I hear I am being forced to be married?"

"Harry," Dumbledore sighed, "Stop screaming. Your throat is going to go numb. Please sit. You should know I will gladly answer everything you wish to know. But if you continue like this you won't get to hear the replies." He leaned on his hands, though his eyes still twinkling he had an expression of pure business. "Yes. I have placed you under a marriage contract. It was one of the final things I did before my death. It took this long, as you might be wondering, to take place because the contract doesn't take any binding or legal effect till you are of a legal age. Which you turned some time ago."

"I will NOT sit." He hissed. "How could you do something like this? Did you even think about how I would feel about this?"

"I did what is best for you, Harry." Dumbledore repeated like he was talking to a child. His words were slow and it did nothing to soothe the temperamental savior.

"Fuck that, you, and the greater good. I've had enough of that. I worked my bloody ass off for it for seven years. Now that it is over and the Light won I was suppose to have things go MY way this time." He had been so looking forward to making his own decisions about important matters. Throughout his life he had felt a great lack of self-worth since so many took control over him. It was as if no one trusted him to make a good judgment or be able to think clearly. But he accepted it and had moved on for the 'greater good' thinking after his victory he would never have to deal with such things again.

Harry continued, his face was going to turn as purple as his uncle's if he didn't pause in his rant. "I am NOT going to now give up Ginny for a damn marriage contract." He glared, "What? You want me to marry a Slytherin, help unite the houses? Work on THAT mess now? Or did the ministry get to you and you promised me to one of the daughters in exchange for fame?"

"Such words." Albus had to wince at the accusations. While he might not have been the most pure and honest of mentors, he truly had done what he had thought was best for the boy AND the world. "It is for none of those reasons. It is not even for the greater good. It is because I want you to be happy. I don't want you to wake up in a few years and come to the horrifying conclusion you married the wrong woman. You deserve better then that."

"I love Ginny! Not...this random wench!"

"Hermione Granger."

Magic words were said and all ranting ceased. In fact it was almost as if the air had been sucked out. It was so still and two simply stared at one another, till Harry stumbled back as if he had been struck. The name bouncing off around his skull, he tried to grasp on to the idea but found it impossible. He was being told, better yet commanded, to marry his best friend. And not just his best friend, but the girl of his other best friend.

Clearly the idea of the woman who had been his biggest support had not been a guess as to who his bethroed was.

"H-Hermione...?" Harry gaped, "W-What...are you on? You want me to marry...Hermione?" There was no other Hermione Granger Harry knew of. So it must've been the bushy haired know-it-all who seemed to have an unhealthy relationship with books. That Hermione Granger was now suppose to be his bride by the end of the month?

"Yes. I would like you to marry Hermione Granger." He stroked his beard a moment, one of his infamous thinking poses. "While Ms. Weasley is a lovely girl, she is not the one for you. You have yet to see it boy, but she won't be able to make you happy."

"You know nothing! Ginny makes me happy, she does so much for me. And Hermione is my best friend!" Harry cried out, blinking, ready to scrub his ears. He could not be hearing this, this simply could not be happening. "I cannot marry my best friend!"

"But Harry...why would you not want to?" Dumbledore tilted his head, a look of pure confusion on his face. "So many marry their best friends...it is what makes the marriage last. Having someone who understands you to a deep level, who has seen you as a boy and a man, who knows you so deeply...how could that be a bad thing?"

"I-It..." He shook his head, his black hair fluffing out wilder, "Well of course its NOT a bad thing. But I don't love Hermione. I love Ginny. Just because I am friend's with Hermione doesn't mean romance. Besides, I was friends with Ginny as well."

"Ms. Weasley." Dumbledore stated, shaking his head as well, though in a much more control pace. "Smart, fiery, popular. She is a wonderful woman. She is also the sister of your best friend, apart of the family whom you had wished to be apart of. Has a bright future now with a team or a magazine." Albus didn't hide his pride for the youngest Weasley and what she has in store for her. "It does seem like a right smart match. But why do you love her?"

Harry rolled his eyes, surely this old coot hasn't gone senile. He didn't think it was possible for a painting to do that, but he was starting to feel like that theory was being proved wrong. "Because of all you just said of course. And she is fun to be around and kind and...I don't have to explain myself to you! Just take this marriage contract back! NOW!"

He could provide such a tantrum, a good and loud one at that. But he had every right to be angry, Albus accepted that. But he was not going to bend to the whim of a boy who could be so blind at times. Who would go for the obvious and the easy way just to escape his past of hardships.

"I am afraid I can't do that, Harry. As a painting I don't have such authority. But," He held up his hand seeing the man was about to make something in his old office explode from anger, again. "I know of ways for you to get out of this contract. I might be, ah, controlling, but not without a heart. If you don't love Ms. Granger, you won't be forced to marry her."

"Good, I don't love Hermione like that. Now give me the loophole so I can get this legal mess taken care of before dinner." The young wizard ordered. He had a date with the red-head of his dreams within a few hours and he hoped to be able to go to it and pretend this mess had never happened.

"Now I am not going to simply do that because you say so. I need proof after all." He smiled, "I would like to talk to you about this and your feelings for the two girls, if I may." He settled back in his chair, getting comfortable for what he predicted to be a good few hours of talking. Harry was a stubborn one, that is for sure, it might be a while before he could see reason, and even longer after that to accept it.

"No you may not. They are my own personal feelings and you, after this stunt, do not deserve to hear them." Harry snapped, "Now tell me how to get out of this."

Dumbledore shook his head, "A deal does not work that way. I need to get something in return. Please answer a few questions, take your time to think about them, and then you may be on your way to handle this so called legal mess."

Harry was red in the face, a vein was throbbing in his neck, "Tell me first...does Hermione know of this?"

"No." Albus shook his head, "You were the first to know. I made sure that it happened like this." His eyes were now almost sparkling to see his plan was working. Harry needed to speak with him first after all, because Ms. Granger would simply figure out the loophole herself and try to save Harry...such a girl she was. Willing to give up a chance to be with the man she really loves so he could have happiness.

It was rather ridiculous really. He, a painting of a man who has been dead for nearly three years, had to put two kids together. No rest for the wicked he supposed. That little pun made him chuckle a bit, but he placed on a sober face at Harry's expression.

While Hermione Granger was aware of her feelings for Harry, simply putting them aside out of fear and selflessness, Harry had a tendency on being rather blind and stubborn, or was it stupid?, with emotional and intimate issues. He thinks he loves Ginny, so he was going to keep believing it, and no one else was going to tell him otherwise.

To bad for him, this professor was just as stubborn.

"Now that you know she has no part of it, at least a known part, we can begin." He cleared his throat, "Tell me, Harry, what do you and Ms. Weasley talk about?"

Harry blinked, the surprise took him and his anger off guard a little. He had been expecting Dumbledore to want a better answer on why he loved Ginny and not Hermione. "What do we talk about?" He shrugged, "Plenty of things. Quidditch, family, friends...stuff like that."

"Ah, so wonderful. Very pleasant things. Now...what about you and Ms. Granger?"

Harry rolled his eyes. Really, this was suppose to make him come to some sort of great realization that he was harboring a great amount of love for his best friend? He was on to this fool's game. No matter how smart and careful Dumbledore was, he was not going to get his way with this. Harry knew he loved Ginny, the passion he felt for her spoke enough about that.

"I..." Harry instantly had to stop before he began. For all his confident thinking, he was finding it hard to put it into words what he and Hermione talk about. All the conversations they have shared throughout the years covered many topics. Love, hate, death, family, friends, life, food, beliefs, colors, books, weather, sports, hair, eyes, quills...all these things and many more had been covered throughout his time with the girl. "Well..." The better question, he discovered, was what didn't they talk about. "Everything...I-I suppose." He shook his head in denial. "That doesn't prove your point. I talk with Ginny about plenty of things."

"Oh, I do no doubt that." He chuckled. "But please tell me a bit more on your conversations. I would like to know more. I wish this didn't have to be so personal, but alas, they must. Tell me, have you talked to Ms. Weasley about Sirius?"

Harry still gave a small flinch to that name. Even though he knew Sirius has been reunited with his friends, it didn't ease Harry's loneliness and guilt. It helped to let him go after they met up again before Harry's "death", but it was still a painful subject for him. So painful only a certain few were allowed to speak of it with him. "Well sure! Ginny is one of the few who can talk to me about him. We talked..." No, they hadn't talked about him when he died. That was Hermione. He and Hermione had talked all night, her holding him as he screamed and cried about the unfairness of the world.

"I mean we talked when I found about about my..." They didn't talk about him when he was first brought into his life; the murder of his parents. That was also Hermione. She was there as he plotted his revenge, helped him face a new sensation of wanting to kill a person, and helped soothe his temper. She even talked about Sirius when he wasn't even grazing Harry's mind, such as in the broom incident.

"I-I did talk to Ginny about him being..." Hermione again. She was there when Sirius had been rescued—she was the one who did a lot of the work after all. Therefore, she was the one he had talked to about after his godfather was set free. She knew almost every detail about his dream in being adopted by Sirius and rescued from the Dursleys.

In fact, he wasn't sure he has ever had much of a discussion about Sirius with Ginny. "I..." Haven't they talked about him at all? Sirius was a very sensitive topic for him, sure, but he had to have talked about him at least once with the woman he knows to be his soulmate. Sirius had been so important to him.

But why has there been no conversations about him? Ginny was there when he died. And the two of them began to express their feelings for each other just that following year. So how was it that they never sat down and actually talked about him? Why did he never use her shoulder to cry on as he did with Hermione?

"It was just a thing that Hermione and I shared." It sounded just as lame as it tasted. "She was the one who saved him. The two of them knew each other." The savior winced. Such a poor excuse to have never talked about his beloved godfather to his girlfriend. And it was even worse to know that Sirius had never met her. No, that wasn't true. They had met...but Sirius did not seem impressed by her. He never said anything negative about Ginny. Its just that he said nothing at all.

The escapee had mentioned Hermione a bit when the two males shared secret conversations. He wanted Harry to give her his many thanks, wished her safety and wellness. He even gave her little flirty comments jut to make her squirm and laugh. He treated her with great respect and admiration, even commenting her on how she had the brains of a girl whom had been one of his best friends. "The most brilliant witch of her time" he had repeated on a few occasions, commenting on Hermione and the loss friend.

Sirius, a man Harry had really adored, truly loved Hermione. And he was known as having the finest taste in women when he was Harry's age. Yet he never even noticed Ginny, who was a spot-on-replica of Lily. How could Ginny never once enter his godfather's radar? It was obvious by how Sirius talked of her he loved Lily like a sister and her death haunted him as much as Jame's. Yet nothing was said about his girlfriend.

And worse, how could he never ask Ginny about him? What she thought, how she viewed him, how Harry felt about him. Why is it that she didn't make any point to talk to him? How many nights has he wanted to share a memory about Sirius but he couldn't? Didn't Ginny ever pick up on it? Every time he felt a little lonely on Sirius Hermione sensed it and instantly was on him, urging him to vent his feelings.

"It is an awkward topic." He told himself, comforting his fear. It was unfair to think anything less of Ginny for not taking part in that. She didn't know him, she wasn't allowed the opportunity to meet the man who could've been Harry's legal guardian And Ginny could be sensitive about his feelings at times. It is possible she was just treading on eggshells in fear it could make him upset. She thought so much about his feelings that it is possible she was trying to shelter him, and it was his own undoing for not voicing his desires. Dumbledore was just getting under his skin and making him all paranoid. It had nothing to do with his feelings for Ginny. It was just unfortunate circumstances and miss-comunication. "She wants to avoid making me upset."

"Sirius IS family though. And you say you have talked about family with Ms. Weasley. I know you speak of her family often. But I am just curious about yours. Relationships are a two-way-street, after all." Dumbledore continued on, knowing the impact has been made. "What about Remus?"

"Yes!" Hah! He finally had something. Remus and Ginny spoke a bit before his death. Arthur and Remus were in the Order of the Phoenix and close friends. In fact, the werewolf even stayed over multiple times to rest, hide, and plan. Though he was mostly there for Arthur and the older boys, he had talked a little with Ginny.

Then Harry took a moment to blush in some shame. He should not feel so victorious about this. He was treating this like it was some sort of game. Feelings and a relationship for another was nothing of the sort. He had nothing to prove to himself, just the dumb goat in the painting. No matter what, Harry Potter was not leaving Ginny. Nor was he in love with Hermione. While he adored the girl to death, he just did not see his best friend like that. "They talked to each other often. Ginny respected and liked Remus. He the same."

"Must forgive me, Harry. I wasn't alive at that point in time." Dumbledore smiled, not very upset about death apparently. The old Headmaster just saw it as another journey in life that everyone had to take. Some could take it as another adventure and others could take it with fear. And most everyone knew Albus Dumbledore struggled with the concept of fear at times, at least when it concerned his own well-being.

The young man couldn't stop the smug look on his face. He out-did the old wizard. That was a rare feat to do. And after this he will show Albus bloody amazing Dumbledore that he had assumed wrong, that Ginny was the one who could make him happy. Nothing was going to make him falter.

"What did he think about Ms. Granger?"

Damn it.

He had almost forgotten about the point of this discussion. He had gotten so caught up in defeating the old Headmaster that he had forgotten to be prepared for Hermione being thrown into this whole mess. Harry wasn't just defending that he loved Ginny, he was defending that he did not love Hermione.

"He...thought she was bloody brilliant." He grumbled, seeing his own victory shattering at his feet. "He fawned over her at times, really. Said that she was like the female version of him. Though I know he adored Teddy that short time he had with him...Remus wanted a daughter." His throat tightened; that kind, wonderful, misunderstood man will never get the precious little girl he so wanted. "And th-that...if he had one...he could see her being exactly like Hermione."

"I'm sorry." The teacher's voice was soft. "It is hard to speak of the dead. But do not fret...he is happy where he is."

"I-I know." Of coursing knowing didn't make him feel any better. "It is just, I had wished Teddy could be allowed to have that family life. With a warm dad, a funny mum, and a little sister to tease." Harry took a moment to collect himself, stuffing his hands in his pocket. He shouldn't be thinking about this right now. He had already sworn he was going to be there for that little boy and help him grow up to be a well loved man.

Right now he had to concentrate on the issue at hand. And that was that, once again, another person whom he had adored had preferred Hermione to Ginny. And again, Remus had nothing bad to say about his feisty red-head at all. But all the comments made on Ginny were over-shadowed by what he had to say about the charming, brilliant witch who was there to help a werewolf in his time of need. Who would willingly use her body to protect Harry from said werewolf.

Then there was the fact that Ginny never mentioned the Remus. And, unlike Sirius, Harry had talked to her about him. But the conversation had always fallen short. Because Ginny didn't know Remus like Harry did. Like Hermione did.

After Remus had left his teaching position, he and Hermione had grumbled to one another. Both had really appreciated his teaching abilities and respected him for what he had gone through. The two of them had been his favorite students, after all, and like Sirius; he called Hermione brilliant. He spoke of her fondly in letters or just simple conversations, urging him in letters to seek Hermione's help when things were looking bleak or confusing.

Then, after the final battle at Hogwarts, Harry and Hermione had stayed up whispering, speaking and remembering the man. They spoke of wonderful things about Remus and how his son would be loved. Hermione even said Remus was a lot like Harry; willing to be alone to spare others.

Harry didn't doubt for a minute that Ginny would be doing and saying the same. But she simply couldn't.

"It's not her fault she never got the opportunities Hermione did. Had things been different, they would've been able to spend more time with her. Remus and Sirius would've loved her." And that he was sure of. It was hard not to like the spunky Weasley.

"But they weren't given the chance. And it is unfair. But those two men were deeply rooted in your life Harry. They helped you become who you are. It is not right to be apart of a relationship where you can't converse, at least as deeply as you would want, about them." Dumbledore then went on before Harry could interject. "Now this one...will be hard. But do you two speak of your parents?" Dumbledore asked, having a plan for everything.

Harry growled, he hated it when people whom he loathed (or in this case, was furious at) talked about his parents. He didn't find them worthy of speaking about such people. "Of course." Green eyes glowed, "Are you going to ask about everything in my life? Make me question everything about my relationship with Ginny?"

"Yes." The bearded man replied bluntly. "If you do this, still feel the same, I will tell you about a loophole for you to get out of the contract. I had promised you that before all of this, and will keep my word once it is all over with. But you will not get it unless you sit down and think." He played with a random item on his desk, watching it spin and float around. "I know you, Harry. I know you can get lost in your emotions and not always think, please take no offense."

"Offense taken." Harry muttered, knowing it was true.

Dumbledore chuckled. Such an amusing boy. So stubborn and fierce. It saddened the wizard greatly to see what this war has done to him. How he has changed. Harry Potter deserved the best life. He deserved all the happiness in the world. And after being partly cause to so much distress to him, Dumbledore was going to ensure that Harry at least saw an opportunity of pure happiness. Whether he took it or not was out of Albus' hands, but he was going to try and make him at least see it.

"See it like this, if you will. You answer all of these questions, sit down and really think-"

"You mean compare, contrast, and belittle two of the closest people to me."

Dumbledore ignored the interruption and continued, "about everything these two ladies have to offer you, and you still find you want to be with Ms. Weasley...well you have just proven you love her without any doubt. You can face a future with her without every wondering about what could've been. When she asks you if there was any other woman besides her that you truly felt strongly for, you can reply in all honesty no. And if I was proven right...well you were just given a second chance to save many relationships. You have nothing to lose but a bit of your time."

Merlin he hated this man. Everything he said always made sense.

The raven-haired man scrunched up his nose, "I don't see it like that. I don't see there be any need to do this. I should know by now how I feel. I should be able to say I love a person and mean it. I have no need to prove it."

"Harry, you aren't even twenty yet. Most don't know what they feel even when they are my age."

"My parents did." He argued. "They were married right after they graduated."

"I did say most, not all. So I see nothing wrong with taking a few extra precautions." He winked at him, still speaking in a good-natured tone. Really, nothing seemed to faze this man. You make one argument and he always has something in retaliation—and it always sounded like the right answer. "I know you see it that I am trying to control your life from beyond the grave. I am really wanting you to be happy. If I am proven wrong at the end of this conversation, I will gladly help you kill off this contract with Ms. Granger without anyone else being the wiser. I will not bind you to a loveless marriage."

"It sure sounds like it." Harry grumped, finally sitting down. He was finding himself exhausted debating with a painting.

Albus chuckled again, "Of course not. I have said I will get you out of it, if you still wish so after this." He cleared his throat and then popped in a lemon drop. Harry briefly wondered if the portraits could really taste and feel. By the way Dumbledore closed his eyes, savoring the flavor, it seemed like they could. "Now please...your parents."

Harry made a noise from the back of this throat, expressing he was very displeased at the moment. He had lost a battle, he was not going to lose this war. "We do talk about them. We talk about how Ginny looks like mum. How she is popular like she was. We also talk about how much they must've loved each other."

"And their death?"

"Damn it, do you really think I want to talk about their death? Why is it you are so fixated on everyone's death?" Harry spat, back onto his feet in an instant. He has had enough death to last a life-time. He wanted forget about them. He didn't want to spend time talking with his precious girlfriend discussing the passing of close friends and family. Things like that could just hurt a relationship. And he has dealt with enough hurt.

"Its not about wanting to. It is about needing to. Their death is apart of your reality. It will be with you the rest of your life. Are you telling me you will never want to vent or discuss their death with your wife?" He gave his pupil a sympathetic look. "You're never going to see her with her own mother and father and just want to talk to her about how lonely you sometimes feel? How envious you are?"

Harry's brow furrowed and his nose scrunched up in his masculine pout. It was what he did when he was trying not to cry. Those feelings were things he did not want to admit to still having. Even to this day he hated to say how jealous he was of his girlfriend and his best mate and their parents. How they still have them. Though a Weasley son was lost, they still had a family to fall back on for support.

Harry had watched all of them band together and help one another like a family should, working to over-come the tragic death of Fred. He never had something like that. And it did hurt him at times to see Ginny get a big bear hug from her mother or Ron getting his hair ruffled by his dad. And he will admit, sometimes it made him avoid the two. Not that he was mad at them, but more like he was bitter at life that he will never get to experience such love.

"Hermione still has hers." He noted. He didn't like to use Hermione as a weapon, but Dumbledore was not playing fair. Besides, to him the wizard made a mistake, overlooking that the brunette still had a family as well. If it could put a wedge between him and Ginny then it could certainly do the same with him and Hermione. "You make it sound like Hermione is better for me since Ginny still has her parents. But Hermione still has her mum and dad."

"And yet..." Dumbledore indulged, hearing the but at the end of the boy's sentence.

The savior didn't say anything for a moment, embarrassed and filled with regret. "And...yet. She...did lose them. Hermione has lost them..." He winced, "She got them back. But...she Obliviated them to-to follow me." He ran a hand through his hair, getting shaky. "It feels like it could be worse then what I lost, at least for that one year away from them. She still knew of them. She had them f-for...for many years. Yet she had to go on in life knowing her parents were out there...a-and they knew nothing about her." Harry's face twisted again, he has cried enough in life. But the memory of what Hermione did for him was something that could bring him to his knees. "A-And she never told us. She didn't complain or bring it up. " When she finally did tell him, and it was him not Ron, she had simply said it had to be done.

All for him.

His heart gave him a painful jolt.

"Stop this!" Harry cried, swiping at an unseen enemy, though Dumbledore has yet to reply to his words on Hermione. "I am not going to doubt Ginny and my relationship with her simply because she can't understand the loss of family. That is not fair and I wouldn't want her to feel like that. She is who she is because of her family! I wouldn't want her to lose it just me make me feel better."

"I never said that. However," This man loved that term. Harry was hating it more and more. "You are a young man that needs a lot of sympathy. You have lost so much in your life. A simple shoulder to cry on just won't always be enough. You have been emotionally scarred."

"Ginny can handle that. She has her own share of them too. And her personality...she will be able to handle me emotionally." She was such a strong-willed girl. Harry knew he could be a hand-full at times, but he knew that Ginny would be able to handle him.

"Are you sure about that?"

Now that made Harry bring out his wand, glaring. He didn't care if it was a portrait. He would hex them for such words. Ginny was no coward. Nor was she cruel. She would help him when he needed her. It was another thing he had no doubt on. "Asshole."

"Harry, I did not mean Ms. Weasley would abandon you nor would she brush you off. But you, my boy, have a temper on you. When you are mad, you explode. When you are sad, you are crippled by depression. You have overwhelming surge of emotions at times that you can't control. And not just anyone can handle. Ms. Weasley can't handle that. She is prone to her own explosions, all the Weasley's are. And all of them aren't the most open-minded."

Harry wouldn't deny that. All of them had quite tempers on them. Even the laid back twins had shown signs of that Weasley temper, such as when they had tackled and blamed each other during the Tri-Wizard tournament.

He pursed his lips, not impressed with Dumbledore's reasonings. "So? Its just a small flaw. Everyone has them, flaws make a person. Isn't that one of your many fortune-cookie quotes?"

The Headmaster looked amused, though was a little unsure what a fortune-cookie was (sounded scrumptious and full of wisdom), and shook his head. He would need to ask about one of those and see if he could find them amongst the other paintings.

"What I mean is, that she has a temper that matches yours. When one of you explode, the other will as well. Remember her past relationships. Most all ended in an argument. It won't be any different from you two; there will be a lot of arguing. I understand arguing is apart of any healthy relationship. But this will be different. You both can get down right bloody stubborn, neither of you will let the other win and therefore compromises will be hard to come by. More then likely, you will cool off first and then have to go and beg for her to give you the attention you need and crave. You don't handle a person you love being angry at you for too long Harry."

"You make it sound like I am clingy." Harry snorted. He might have some emotional problems but he wasn't some clingy infant. He just needed a little extra moral and ego boosts at times. Or comfort to know that he wasn't alone and that the nightmare in his life was good and gone. His friends and psychiatrist said it was normal and he just needed time to heal and to trust his reality and world again. He was actually pretty in tact for what he has gone through.

"Not really. But you must admit you need special attention. If Ms. Weasley explodes in a similar way to you and then refuses to be open-minded about your own needs...well it will be very difficult for you. You must remember some of her actions right?"

It was hard to forget the ferocious lioness in the Quidditch field. How she will do anything, except for cheating, to win. And how, much like Ron, she was a bit of a sore loser. If she lost something she would be irritable for a while. Dumbledore's words on her previous relationships also made him think back to the fights she had with said boyfriends. After one she would storm off first and not talk to him for days, until she had cooled her temper down. And while she would talk to the boy, she hardly ever apologized.

Harry saw nothing wrong with this. First off, as a boy, he could admit they do some pretty stupid stuff. But he wasn't making excuses for her. He knew she stormed away to cool off. It was so that she wouldn't say anything hurtful in her rage. She was a smart girl, she understood talking when she was still mad would only lead to more arguments. It wasn't selfish, but wise.

But, Harry bit his lip at the thought, he was a bit unstable at times. He had mood-swings, he had moments where he was controlled by anger then was instantly wiped out and needed comfort. He was getting help for it, but when those moments happen, he will need the attention. He starves for attention at times. Should he and Ginny fight...she wouldn't hug and talk to him till she was good and ready.

And, as he has seen, that could last days.

"H-Hermione does it too..." He told himself, tripping over the lie. He knew that the brunette might stomp off in anger, but she never stays away for long. The moment she knows he is in trouble she is back at his side. Even if she doesn't speak to him, she will ensure he gets advice and comfort in some other way. When he was mad at her about the broom incident in his Third Year, she was still there to help. When he or Ron did something, well, completely idiotic and against her advice, she would still be there to patch up their wounds. And when she was done wrong all it took to get her forgiveness was an apology, though chocolates and a new book helped.

That was it about Hermione. She never placed herself first. Even when hurt or mad, it was the feelings of those she loved that was always in her mind. That's why she followed him that year in a tent, why she didn't follow Ron when he left in a dark-tantrum, why every year he has known her she has willing put her own safety and education on the line. Because she was that good-natured. A goody-two-shoes for life.

It chilled him to realize he would need that type of open-arms understanding. That no matter what he did, he will always get that hug and shoulder. Hermione will never, no matter what is said, turn him down.

"I am getting better." He whispered, denying that he would need that sort of help for much longer. "I am seeing some professionals. I am willing going to psychiatrists, talking to people, about how I am. And there is nothing wrong with me going to a friend for help with something like that."

"But...wouldn't it be easier to know you don't have to go to a friend, you just have to turn over to the figure next to you in bed?" Dumbledore asked back, just as softly. "To know the woman whom will always be your side every morning, evening, and night is the one you can talk to about anything? That even in the most intimate and private of places, you wouldn't have to hide any side of you?"

Why was his hands trembling? Why did the room feel a little tighter?

Harry shook his head, something he was doing very often in this office. "No! I-I don't need it! Yes it would be easier, but that doesn't mean it is the right thing to do. Just because it is easier to talk to Hermione does not instantly mean she is the one for me! I-I want something normal. I need...normal."

"So you will not be with Ms. Granger because she is easier to talk to, yet you will marry Ms. Weasley because she is normal?"

"T-That isn't what I meant! You're putting words in my mouth!" Harry took off his glasses, rubbing them clean. One of his many nervous habits. "I have been through hell since I was young. You know about the loss and the abuse. The struggles I have had to go through. I don't want to be reminded of that. I want to be able to look at my girlfriend, my wife, and know that I am now free from all of that."

"And Ms. Weasley can do this?"

"Yes! Ginny can do this. I can look at her and forget about what happened. I can see a normal future with her. With kids, a job, a pleasant life." He rubbed his hands over his face before placing the glasses back on. "Why is that so wrong?"

"Nothing is wrong with it at all, my boy. It is a good dream. However, I have some...questions about this."

Harry groaned, "Of course you do."

Dumbledore gave him that playful grin, "I am a man of habit. I need to have all the answers before I am able to move on." He cleared his throat. "Now...what is your definition of normal?"

The younger, living man didn't expect that. Again, he was taken off guard. "Uhm...normal. You know...normal..."

The wizard laughed again, "Normal, like good and evil, is all perspective. My definition of normal might be far different from yours. What is your normal Harry?"

"I-I don't know!" He was so frustrated with all of these questions, all to make him think and wonder about his own feelings. "Things that don't deal with constant death and fighting. Having a life like a typical muggle or wizard family. No fighting, no death eaters, no press. I will just be trying to get a promotion and make sure my kids don't do drugs."

"I see..." He tilted a brow. "And this is the life you for sure want. I can understand having a relaxing life...but are you going to be pleased with a mundane life? There is a difference. Are you really going to be able to go sit in an office for hours a day? Can you resist going out and being mischievous? No more adventures?"

"I can do without those, sir. I've had enough in my life."

Dumbledore smiled, "You killing Voldemort, facing the Tri-Wizard tournament, and searching for a prophecy...those were missions. Sneaking out with your invisibility cloak, playing tricks, doing stuff you're not suppose to do because you want to, not because you have to. Enjoying yourself as you do them. That, my boy, is an adventure. The life you want to share with Ms. Weasley is not that life. Your definition of normal is a nine-to-five job, a predictable life."

"I want something predictable for once! I want to wake up in the morning and know I am just going to go to work and not going to be slaughtered. Be able to trust someone and not worry if they are going to try to sacrifice me in some fashion." He ranted, throwing his hands up in the air.

"Harry...you don't want that. Not now at least. You are going to want to leave these school grounds and see the world. You're going to want to travel and study magic, meet famous people, learn about cultures, and share the most passionate and romantic experience with your soulmate. That is an adventure. That is not normal. That is what you are going to need, yet you claim you do not want." Dumbledore shook his head sadly.

Harry had to agree, that did sound so much better then the normal-stuff he had been preaching about. Seeing all sides of the world, muggle and wizard alike, with Ginny at his side would be amazing. Going to Quidditch matches, trying new foods, seeing all sorts of spectacles. A great way to forget all the battles. "I-I..." Damn it, at least he could admit he was wrong on this. He had just been so drained and tired of everything, he thought a normal life would be pleasant.

Yet Dumbledore had decided to point out how wrong he was. It wasn't very fair. Can't he win for once? It made it seem like he really was an idiot and that others needed to make decisions for him.

"Fine," Harry sighed in admittance, "I have to admit...that sounds better then just simply going into the Ministry or something." In fact he wasn't too sure about joining anything in the Ministry. They treated him wrong a good portion of his life. He would really need to consider where he will go for in a career, everyone assumed, expected, and pressured him to be an Auror. Now he wasn't too sure. Why go into more fighting when he had claimed he was tired of it? "Going around the world, enjoying life and studying all aspects of life...Merlin, that actually sounds fantastic."

Dumbledore smiled, "You deserve that. You should go and do all of that. Go out and just do what you want and have fun. A nice, long vacation for Harry Potter."

"And Ginny Weasley." Harry just had to jab it in. Dumbledore opened up that pandora's box when he said Harry could do what he wanted. "I think she deserves a vacation. She has been through a lot."

"Indeed. What she has gone through is something no girl her age should. Though, I do say I feel bad for Ms. Granger. She does not get a vacation?"

Harry growled, "Don't try and guilt me." Too bad it was working, very well in fact. Other then himself, no one has given up so much. She certainly did deserve a vacation. But he wanted some alone time with his other half. Just a private time and experience some romance. Perhaps he could invite Ron and Hermione along. In fact, having them along wouldn't be bad at all, it would be like an extended and fantastic double-date.

"I just wish to know why Ms. Weasley would be the one to go with you on this trip?"

"Because I love her." Harry said easily. He knew it wouldn't matter if he said Ron and Hermione could come. This old fool was concentrating on romance, not friendship.

Dumbledore actually rolled his eyes, "You know I would like something more then that. If you don't mind," He held out his hand, opening up the floor to him. "Please."

Harry sighed, his temper rising again. He was going to need a good long nap after all of this was settled. "Because she will help me forget. She is fun to be around. We like the same things so we will always have fun and never have to disagree about an event."

"You know, with that thinking you will never try anything new. If you are with someone who shares many likes, how will you manage to experience so many other qualities in life? Culture fairs, book conventions, museums, parks...things that you might overlook for other types of entertainment, yet with Ms. Granger, you will enjoy other things you would never try with Ms. Weasley."

"I can still hang out with Hermione." Though none of that sounded too fun. What was wrong with following a Quidditch team or something else that was actually exciting and mindless? "I would just prefer to do this with Ginny."

"And Ms. Granger is not fun to be around? Cannot help you forget?" Dumbledore asked, regarding his other statements.

Why did he keep making it sound like he was insulting Hermione? It was just that compared to Ginny...well he didn't know how to finish that sentence.

"It isn't that. Hermione, though has different taste, is really fun. I know she comes off strict and prudish...but she really has some of the best ideas." Harry chuckled, "She can be devious if she wants to, and seems to know how to not get caught. And she loves to laugh," A sigh escaped him as he remembered her laugh. "It just takes her a little bit more to get it out of her. She is actually very shy and sometimes it comes off a little cold. But she is very warm just...socially awkward. I think it is one of the reasons why we all got along so well." He smiled some more, Hermione has never been as popular or outgoing as Ginny. She has never been much into parties either. It took being a bit goofy and ridiculous to get her to melt. Like Krum dancing silly in the Yule Ball to help her loosen up. Or him with his lack of dancing skills after Ron left them. "A little push and she is out of her shell. And she can be open-minded too. True, many times she is dead-set in her ways or fears, but like with her laugh, if I do things just right I know I can get her to try something new."

He smiled a bit, remembering how much fun she typically had when she tried something he wanted to do. He knew there were some sport-events she got bored of or would find too violent...but she would always go with barely a complaint. Now he was starting to feel like jerk for not wanting to try new things with her. Seemed a little unfair and closed-minded. Sure a book-convention sounded boring as hell, but with Hermione and her laugh it wouldn't be that bad.

And there was something very special about that laugh of hers. It might take a little bit of work, the results were always worth it. Seeing her smile, giggling sheepishly as she tried to be goofy too, it was always well worth any amount of poking that had to be done. Sometimes it made it all the sweeter. Hermione was a sweet girl and smiled a lot, but to know that only some smiles are seen on certain occasions and by only a few people...it could make a man feel down-right awesome.

Ginny wore her emotions on her sleeve a bit more. There wasn't much work to getting a rise out of her. She had a smile for everyone, there wasn't any special expression that was reserved for him. Other men have seen the seductive smile, the excited grin, the playful smirk...

It was weird, before he liked how open she was with her feelings. She was like how he had wanted to be, to be so free and without many cares. Now thinking about it, there wasn't much of a challenge to it nor was there anything greatly special. He had been rather spoiled into being a special man, not having reserved just for him did make it lose its sparkle.

Harry growled to himself, he had just been saying he wanted predictable, just because there is a small bit of predictability to Ginny didn't mean anything bad. It meant comfort and familiarity. Hermione had her own predictable aspects as well. And it was down right selfish of him to keep wanting more and then be so disappointed when it didn't meet his expectations, just because he was the "Savior". He was not going to be like Malfoy and think himself better and more deserving because of a title.

He shuddered in horror at the thought of him being like his, non-psycho killer, rival.

"And what about in helping you forget?" Dumbledore pressed on, startling him form his thoughts.

"Well...no...uhm...yes? I don't know." Harry was about to pull out his hair. "I guess...what I mean is...she is a reminder. I don't really think about the past when I am with her when we aren't talking about it. But...but it is bound to happen. I am going to look at her and all of a sudden the tent, the war, and the times before that are all going to rush back at me. With Ginny, she is an...escape. With her I can finally leave that part of me behind."

"Harry," Dumbledore shook his head again. "You are making no sense. Ms. Weasley was in that war too. In Second Year she was possessed by Tom, she had conversations with the man you were destined to kill for nearly a year. She was with you in your search for the prophecy. One brother is now a werewolf, one is missing an ear, one is dead, and many in her family are suffering a type of post-traumatic disorder. She was there in that battle, she killed people right along with everyone else. That girl is in no way normal nor is she untouched from your past." He found his voice was rising a bit due to aggravation and he instantly calmed himself. It might make him upset to hear Harry say such an excuse, but he understood how the boy had seen it at first. "You are saying you want her over Hermione because she won't remind you about the war. That she is normal. How in the name of Merlin's beard is any of that normal?"

The teenager had nothing to say to that.

Though Hermione had been with him through the very start of his school adventure, that doesn't mean that Ginny wasn't either. It wasn't like he was going to be with a woman who didn't remind him of the war at all.

Now he looked a bit ashamed, all his talk about normalcy was flying out the window faster then he could spew it out. It was wrong to say Ginny is normal and Hermione is not like it is some sort of disease. Like Hermione is undesirable simply because she went through so much with him. It was also wrong to put up such a false image of Ginny just to provide himself some comfort.

Ginny was not boring, mundane, or normal. And Hermione was not a reminder of his freaky and hurtful life.

They were two special, be it different, women who has made an impact in his life in some way.

Besides, what was he to say if Ginny ever asked him why he was in love with her? "I love you because you are normal" wasn't the most romantic thing that has ever come from a man's lips. And a girl like Ginny, who was rather into images, would be very insulted that she was only special because she actually wasn't.

"I see you realize marriage just for the sake of being normal wouldn't work Harry. You will be unhappy within your first year if you do something like that." Dumbledore smiled. "You're not normal. You are never going to be normal. That is who you are. It is wrong and unhealthy to run from that. How on earth could you manage marrying someone you're not? Someone who will never be able to understand you?"

"I get it...I was just...being immature. I was hiding." Harry sat down again, placing his head in his hands. "You were right and I was wrong. Happy?"

Dumbledore smiled, "I am just happy you realized this before you made any mistake."

That glare was back on his face again, "This doesn't mean I don't love Ginny. I've just accepted that she isn't how I first saw her. I am still refusing this contract of yours."

"So stubborn. You are much like your mother and father. Neither of them accepted things easily." There was no aggravation in the teacher's voice, just a certain fondness. "Speaking of them...you had mentioned before about how young Ms. Weasley reminds you so much of your mother. She certainly has her looks."

Harry nodded, "Yes. It almost seems like fate." He beamed, things were turning in his favor again. Of course, he failed to recall how everything that has turned in his favor always slipped through his fingers when dealing with this portrait.

"Ah," He laughed, "I remember the saying; boys marry their mothers. Us boys are just wanting a mum to always be there to pamper us. Quite entitled creatures we are."

He had to bite his lip hard to not smile at the joke. "Though that is not the only reason I love Ginny, you can at least admit that she is like my mum."

"Appearance, yes. Personality, no."

Instantly, the victory began to crack in front of Harry's eyes. "What do you mean? I hear Ginny is a good bit like my mum."

"I am sorry to disappoint you. But Ms. Weasley was not similar to your mother in personality." He sighed, "I am sorry you have to find this out through a painting of an old man. Your mother was a beautiful woman, inside and out. But she was different from Ms. Weasley. Now, how would you describe your girlfriend, Harry?"

"She has a lot of fire to her, very independent, a bit tomboyish at times with her love of sports, but she is a fashion queen." He laughed awkwardly, not to into that. "She is very intelligent, gets above average grades. Has a bit of a flirty and daring side to her." It was another thing he wasn't to into. Though Ginny was loyal to him, it seems old habits die hard as she would give playful winks to others to push at his jealousy button. And Harry had a rather big jealousy button. He supposed it came from a few years of unrequited love and it was her way at getting back at him for not noticing her. "She is very confident, my girl knows what she wants and will try to get it."

"And some of those aspects are shared with your mother. But your mother does not resemble her. Lily Evans was a bookworm. That girl could spend hours reading and studying. Though friendly she was a little shy, especially due to not having Severus around to help her. At times she came off cold or a bit of a bossy know-it-all because she didn't have the best social skills." Dumbledore shook his head, "Your aunt really did bully that girl growing up. Your mother wasn't into fashion nor sports, though she went to events to support friends. Friends came before everything to Lily, even school that she loved so much."

Albus laughed a bit again, "I remember she was actually called a prude at times because she was a bit old-fashion. It was one of the reason's she denied your father for so long. He was doing the "wooing" wrong to her. And she was a bit of a perfectionist; everything needed to be done right. Lily was fiercely protective, motherly, and stern. But she did not have that stereotypical red-head bite. Your mother was one of the sweetest women known. She just did not take others, namely your father, bullying. It was only then did her temper really come into light. Like another woman you know, she was the brightest witch within the school, despite being a muggle born. A true good girl...who would bend and break the rules for those who really needed it."

She sounded so much like Hermione.

Though it was unexpected and she wasn't a 100% as he pictured, she sounded absolutely flawless.

It felt strange though. All this time he had an image of her; tomboyish, proud, confident, intelligent, with a bit of a temper to her. That she might have a little flirty side to her and could be controlling. That it was that strong personality that earned his dad's attention. Of course he has only heard of her from a few people and have seen her photograph's and Snape's memory.

Harry was having one bad night as yet another wave of shame slammed him at full force. All this time, has he just assumed Ginny and his mother would be identical because of their looks? He has heard of her kindness and how she seemed to mystify men, but nothing else.

Nausea pooled in his stomach. He thought he knew his mother, thought he asked enough questions. Why was he just now discovering she was so much like Hermione? Just how little did he really know about her?

He swore, the moment this mess was cleared up he would be putting in as much attention as possible to find out about Lily Evans-Potter. And about his father too. Harry was struck to realize despite so much of his life being focused around who he and his family was, he still knew so little of them. Where were his grandparents? Where was the house his dad grew up in? Could there actually be family still out there from the Potter side?

Trying to steady his excitement and nerves about finding it all out, Harry turned back to give another stubborn look to the Headmaster. He failed to notice how much it was wavering. He had to convince Dumbledore that Hermione was simply not the one for him.

And scarily, he was finding he had to convince himself this too.

"We're compatible. You know how well we get along. And yes, I know I get along well with Hermione. But this is different." Harry tried to grasp at words what he meant to say, it was getting harder and harder to keep up with his arguments. "Ginny...she is like...we get along well together. We're great friends."

"You mean how you get along with Ronald Weasley?"

"Of course not!" Harry shuddered, that was a gross image. "I mean she does have some personality quirks like him. But you mentioned I should be with my best friend. What's wrong with having some similarities to my best mate? Doesn't that make her a better candidate for you?"

Those bushy brows narrowed, clearly he seemed displeased about something. "Like him leaving you? All your arguments? How his own personal feelings can make him, momentarily, forget about you?" Dumbledore cautioned. "These aspects are in Ms. Weasley as well. You argued with him at least once a year. There were times even I feared you two wouldn't be able to work things out. Each bitter bicker placed a heavy strain on you and your relationship. Because most every time an argument happened, it was when you needed Mr. Weasley the most."

Harry's lips fell into that straight line again.

Seeing he wasn't stopping him, Albus continued, "However, you were able to salvage this because you were both male friends. You both could beat each other up as a stress release, go huff to someone else because there was always someone there ready to help." It was obvious he was speaking about Hermione. "There won't be a middle-man for you in marriage. You will not be able to escape huge arguments or the sense of betrayal you will feel when Ms. Weasley walks out on you for a bit to cool off her own temper. She has dumped boys in the past for not coming to her first."

"You're making her sound like a bad person." He snapped, though his voice wasn't as strong as before.

"I am not. I am pointing out facts. Ms. Weasley is a wonderful girl. She is strong too. She respects herself. She knows what she wants, what she deserves, and will not settle. If a boy is not treating her right, he does not deserve to treat her at all. It is a strength if I do say so myself. Not many can have the confidence to know there is someone better for her and that she is someone special. But, while you don't need a masochist or someone without confidence, you need someone who will think more of you."

"Ginny thinks of me!" Harry countered.

"But not enough." Dumbledore argued back, his voice firm. "I've watched you and those close to you for a long time Harry. Ms. Weasley...hasn't thought enough of you. For about four years she was more of a fan. Now, nothing is wrong with that. You deserved having a person who really admired you. And she has changed. But during that time, she didn't do anything for you. She still does not do enough for you."

"YES SHE DOES!"

"Do NOT raise your voice like that to me!" Dumbledore finally snapped, his voice firm and solid. Harry was stunned into silence since he was not use to such a tone. "I say this...because I love you Harry. I know I wasn't much of a father figure, but you were like a son to me. And I don't want you to be with a woman...who doesn't deserve you."

"She does deserve me." Harry found his voice more soothing then he would want. Even now he had a soft spot for this old wizard. "I might not deserve her, but I know at the very least she deserves me."

"Harry I apologize. I know how that sounded, it must've made you believe I think poorly of Ms. Weasley. But I just do not find her the right one for you. Ms. Granger has given up so much for you." Albus stared at the boy, even though his eyes were painted, they were still deep and haunting. "She loves you, you know. And not as a friend."

His mouth went dry and his mind went into overdrive. "She d-doesn't. Its a friendship. We're family."

"Those are the same words you have been telling yourself before you go to sleep and before you head to class every day. You believe it...you have for years. You stepped back in respect for Mr. Weasley who liked her since third year. You cannot deny you thought about it a few times. It would be impossible for a boy to not think about it."

Harry looked away, "I admit I did. And you are right; it is natural. We grew up together. I mean...she was the first kiss, my first hug..." He stopped. His first female friend, his first rescue, his first sacrifice...what hasn't she done that hasn't been his first? Besides, he was stunned to find he was sickened with himself, his virginity (with so many fangirls and his need for attention it was bound to happen). But she had always stepped in in every other occasion to do something for him, and almost always it was a 'first' for him. And it wasn't just those great impacts, but the little things as well. She was always there for him first. Always ready to give advice to him first.

'Stop it,' He shook his head again. Dumbledore was getting into his mind. He should not doubt Ginny like this. She trusted him. And he...well he trusted Hermione. He knew she would never do anything and everything for him. 'Oh gods...' He closed his eyes, feeling his body shake. 'She has done everything for me. Multiple times...'

Ginny, sweet Ginny, has not. He understood she hasn't had the opportunities like Hermione. Yet at the same time, Hermione has pressed herself into his life, refusing to leave him alone. She respected him but there was no way she was going to be left behind without anyone to protect him.

She took on the role of the protector. Ginny was the protectee.

Harry was unsure which one he preferred.

What has this bastard done to him? He doesn't know who to prefer, a friend or a girlfriend. Before all of this he would've said that he was attracted to Ginny and her feminine guile and sweet ways that made him want to protect her. He felt masculine and manly and...the hero again.

But hasn't he just finished up that part of his life? Hadn't he moved on from being the Boy-Who-Lived, the Savior, to just Harry. A young man who didn't have to worry so much about the lives of others and maybe he be the one looked after? Just enough for him to lay his head down and rest.

'But I want to protect Hermione.' He thought to himself, his head was starting to pound with the conflicting thoughts. 'I have always wanted to protect her. So what is the difference with that? Sure Ginny might come off a bit more old-fashion, the boy MUST protect the girl...it is just how she was raised. And Hermione has a bit more...feminist pride to her.'

Hermione was a fighter. Always had been, always will be. She has been tortured, her arm carried a carving of 'mudblood' on it, and though she screamed...she never gave in. Hermione tried to fight to save herself and others. Ginny wasn't as strong. His red-head had been pampered and sheltered through most of her life, and though she did well in the final battle and at the ministry she was, by no means, a warrior.

Was it a bad idea to be with someone who didn't grasp at what it means to be a fighter? He realized he was wrong about the normalcy part, but Dumbledore wouldn't randomly pair him up with Hermione for no reason. There was reason for all of this.

So why was it Hermione?

"She has given up so much for you Harry." Dumbledore whispered again, letting the man think.

The bookworm has given up so much for him. And never once has she asked something in return. Her comfort, her beliefs, her parents, her safety—she gave them all up just for him. And though he could never ask Ginny to do this, he had to wonder if she would. Ginny was a spoiled princess, the apple of her parent's eyes, and the baby of the family. If asked, or better yet; if not, would she freely drop it all in a heartbeat for him?

No...

It crushed his heart a little, but he knew she wouldn't. It was selfish of him to want to, but he knew he would not be the most important thing in Ginny's life, he has never been the most important thing in her life. She had too much good and love in her life to ever want to turn from it.

Now that he thought about it, there was something that made Harry a little bitter about Ginny. She has had a tendency in taking advantage of her family. He knew it was unfair to want to be the main person in her life and then feel upset when she does that. But when the trio had returned to Hogwarts after over six-months of separation, she stared only at Harry, whispered in a breathy voice his name...and that was it.

He had seen some pain in Ron's eyes. His little sister didn't come up to him for a hug, didn't ask how he was feeling. Her big brother whom has taken care of her for years...and she brushed him off for a boyfriend.

Harry respected and loved family to much to just accept that. It would be acceptable if she had at least smiled at her big brother, sharing a secret conversation siblings might be able to share. But to completely ignore him? He knew that she regretted it now, now that she has lost Fred and nearly lost Ron. He could've died and the last memory of her would be her only looking at Harry.

Hermione wasn't like that. Though she always greeted him first, there was always someone else who got attention afterwards. He was first priority, but she gave proper attention and affection to others.

'It was a mistake...she was caught up in the moment. Death and war was happening. I was her hero.' It still didn't let the idea settle well within him. 'It was just one moment. It should not affect me this much.' But it did. That one action affected him greatly.

Here was a young man that believed everyone deserved to be selfish every once in a while, and yet he could not find it in himself to let go of Ginny selfishly ignoring her brother, his best friend, on the eve of war.

"My head hurts..."

"It is a lot to absorb." Dumbledore leaned against his chair, watching him. There was a lot of conflict within Harry. He was starting to doubt Ginny. Albus hated himself to some level for picking apart an acceptable relationship. He just could not stand to have this boy suffer and sacrifice so much any more. It was the same for Ms. Granger. They deserved something more then what they have. They deserve each other, if they will just see that.

"But...Ginny..." Harry whispered, "She is a...a good girl. It was meant for the two of us..."

Or so that is what he has been telling himself. Was all of that lies? All this time has he just been pressuring himself to believe Ginny was the one for him? It just seemed like the easy thing to do.

Green eyes widened, his pale features looking all the more white. 'Easy. I just thought Ginny as easy.' And yet how could he deny it? She has liked him since she first heard about him, he saved her life, she was Ron's little sister, she looked like his mom and he looked like his dad, and he saw her every year. There was no work in obtaining her. It was simply a moment of testosterone influenced jealousy and...that was it, they were together.

There hadn't really been anything more too it.

Harry found himself dissatisfied in that.

Where was the passion, the work, the enjoyment of a chase? James pursued Lily for nearly four years, and it worked out well because it wasn't easy for him. Was Dumbledore right? Would all this fall apart? If something was built hastily and without structure, it could fall into pieces just as swiftly.

"W-What...a-about R-Ron?" He whispered, his voice shaking. "He loves Hermione. How could...how could I try to take her away from him? He deserves happiness too."

Dumbledore shook his head, "He does Harry. He deserves so much for his sacrifice as well. And though he deserves it and he is your best mate, does that make you willing to leave Ms. Granger be in a loveless marriage? Or you in one yourself?" His voice was grave as if he was telling a warning, "Because if you go with Ms. Weasley, that is what you will be doing to yourself and Ms. Granger."

Harry shook her head in denial, "She loves him. They love each other."

"Come now, you are a smart boy. Can you truly say she loves him?"

"She wouldn't be with him otherwise!"

"No?" Dumbledore asked in disbelief. "You say that, yet do you believe it? You believe that Ms. Granger would refuse a man who loves her? That she would not willingly go be with someone just to make those around her happy?" Those same bushy brows arched, "She would be with a man she does not love because she has unrequited love? Give her self up because Ron loves her, while you do not? Or marry Ron to be close to you, to always stay near and protect you? If she never tells you her feelings, you will never have to go through any strain; it will just be you and Ms. Weasley. Wouldn't a girl like Ms. Granger be willing to take herself out of the equation to ensure your comfort?"

"FUCK YOU!" Harry cried out, his temper straining. "Stop with these bloody questions! Th-They are pointless! You are no damn mystic!"

"Questions bring about answers Harry. If I don't ask them, how will you ever stop to take the moment to think? That is what I want you to take from all of this. That you came to the realization on who you love, be it Ms. Weasley or Ms. Granger, on your own."

It made him so mad, it nearly blinded him. His pride was wounded because so far everything the wise old man has been saying, asking, has been right. And Harry was becoming very scared what that could mean for him and his feelings for Ginny.

"Please...answer me."

He should leave, he should've left a long time ago. He stuck because he needed to know about this marriage contract. But Hermione was smart, she could've helped him. All he needed to do was hurry to her side and the issue would've been solved. He had nothing to prove to this old coot.

But he had been stubborn. Harry Potter does not run away from a challenge. He was going to face Dumbledore and win like he has the rest of the battles. He was going to prove the old man wrong, show him he knew exactly who he loved, and walk out there a free man.

It all failed almost instantaneously.

"S-She would..." Harry confessed. "But...he will take care of her...he is a good man. He will ensure that Hermione isn't miserable." Not that it made going into a marriage with someone she doesn't love ok. But Ron would never hurt her.

"But he tends to stray." Albus reminded. "When things he hard, when he gets upset, he can become blinded by himself that he forgets about others."

Memories of all the times Ron left him in a time of true need flower into his memory. And how he made Hermione suffer so much with his hot-then-cold feelings towards her. Those moments in their friendship when he had seriously considered leaving and forgetting the red-head. Harry might've been denied friendship the first 11 years of his life, but he knew that a best mate did not just leave in a jealous huff when the other is suffering. And though he had no good role-models, Harry was a gentleman at heart; a man was NOT suppose to make a woman cry, as Ron did every year to Hermione.

"He always came back though." Harry reminded Dumbledore, and himself. "And he always made up for his actions. Ron has done regrettable things...and he has always tried to atone for his wrong-doings. He has always tried to work hard to re-patch our friendship."

"It is true. Though he has made mistakes, as we all do, Mr. Weasley is one of the few who will come back and face what the consequences of his actions. That does make for a good friend." Albus didn't look like he was done though. There was something else on his mind, "Harry...while marriage requires friendship to last and to be healthy, it is NOT friendship. Marriage is something else entirely. It is far more personal. Would you really want Ms. Granger to be with someone who will leave her, possibly for days, because he is angry, or they had a misunderstanding, or he was jealous?"

"NO." His reply was swift and firm. It was not fair for someone as understanding as Hermione to be treated like that. He could handle that. Ron and him were friends...but they didn't have to deal with each other if they didn't want to. If they were made at one another they could not see each other for days, make up, and move on and there not be much issue.

That doesn't work with marriage. Hell, even his uncle Vernon treated his wife like a, relatively, good husband should. And his Hermione deserved so much more then the bitter and hateful Petunia.

"Hermione...deserves better then Ron..." He whispered, in awe a what he was saying. Never would he think he would say something that venomous towards his best mate. Harry slumped deep into the chair, horrified at what he said. Should Ron hear something like that it would really hurt the sensitive male's feelings.

But while horrified, he was not guilty.

Hermione has done more for him then Ron. Hermione never once left him, even when her morals were attacked by a certain reporter or when he was suffering through a case of irritable bitchiness...she never rejected him.

"My god..." He wheezed, it finally socking him in the stomach just what exactly Hermione has done for him. "Shit...oh god...oh shit." He was back up on his feet again, pacing.

"Harry? What troubles you?"

"I...I...I have just come to some...realizations...I mean..." He looked panicked. "Hermione, she has done everything for me. It would take less time to list the things she hasn't done for me then what she has. And I...I've never thanked her for it. I have never thanked her for helping me all these years. Never thanked her for any damn thing." He felt sick at this.

Hermione, the sweetest girl around, has been taken advantage of and under appreciated. How could he let something like this happen? He was someone who knew how it felt to be so alone, to do so much for people yet never get anything in return. He has lived this kind of life for so long and yet he forced someone close to him experience it.

"I'm a monster..." He choked.

"Harry Potter is anything but." Albus smiled softly at the man. Even as he was now he had an incredible ability in calming him down. "Harry Potter is a hero who has always been willing to sacrifice his own life and sanity for the sake of others. You know she hasn't done any of it for thanks, it has all be done because she wants to." He chuckled, "That is what it means to be in love."

Harry didn't say anything in return to that. How could he deny any more that his best friend just might be in love with him? It had been a suspicion of his, sure, but he has been called a bit thick and never actually believed it. The sweet brunette just never made it as obvious as Ginny did.

Or, like so many other things, was he wrong about that too?

Just because Ginny was the one who stuttered around him, who gave him longing looks, and would blush doesn't mean that that was a way to tell if a person is in love. Feelings were there, but could they really be called love?

His face sagged as he continued to think. He had no idea how he could tell Ginny loved him. Besides her subtle actions and flirty behavior there wasn't much to go on. He simply couldn't think of things she has done for him. Sure, she has been apart of a group thing; birthday parties, welcoming him to the Burrow, the prophecy...but what has Ginerva Weasley ever done for him personally?

Nothing.

He felt so sick. Ginny has made him smile, laugh, and feel good. But was that actually enough? Before he had thought yes. Now, he was truly wondering. Wasn't Dumbledore, unfortunately, right? Wouldn't he need something a bit more then that? And all modesty aside, he did deserve a lot...he's been orphaned, abandoned, abused, trained, lost loved ones, lied to, manipulated, hurt, accused, belittled, nearly killed, killed people, and has been killed himself. After all of that it wasn't wrong to think he deserved something a bit more then a blush and a smile.

He wanted more then a simple blush and a smile.

Harry stared blankly at the other paintings within the spacious office. All were empty, he hadn't noticed before, they must've left to give him and Dumbledore some privacy. Good, he would rather not have an audience around, watching as he faced whether or not he was in love with his best friend.

"Harry," Dumbledore tried, seeing he was drifting off in his own thoughts to save himself from a mental breakdown.

"I'm here. I'm sorry." He rubbed his head, that headache was clinging good onto his brain. It was worse then the migraines he got when he went too long without his glasses. "Just overwhelmed, but fine." Overwhelmed was a bit of an understatement though. He was feeling as if his reality was beginning to shift. Sad to think this has happened to him most every year since the big bomb was dropped by a friendly giant all those years ago.

"I am sorry I am giving you so much pressure. I must not be your favorite person at the moment."

"I don't think there has been truer words ever spoken." Harry sighed, but with no resentment in his tone. It was pointless to be angry with Dumbledore. Really, he should be pissed off at himself. And that anger was coming around fast. "Let's continue."

"Are you sure?"

"I don't have much choice..." Harry confessed. "It is too late to turn back now. My thoughts are all jumbled, I am actually doubting Ginny now. I am doubting my feelings for her. If I want to leave this office with any relationship, I have to continue."

Albus nodded with a smile, "Wise and mature words, Harry."

Harry just grunted back, not very pleased with life in general. Life could really suck. Like, really suck. Particularly his.

"Then let us continue, I do not wish to prologue this torture you seem to be going through." The older man had a lot of pity on his face as he cleared his throat, stroked his beard, and looked at the tired boy. "How does Ms. Weasley see you?"

"Well..." Harry began, knowing whatever he was going to say was either going to be proved wrong by the painting or come to a realization on his own. Might as well just face it head on and get it over with. "She definitely see me as a hero. I have saved her before and saved her family members as well. She always compliments me on my Quidditch skills, she says I am a sports star." He laughed, "Always teases, and warns me, to not go after any cheerleaders. She is really aware of my stardom."

"That is a pretty big part of you. It is good she is aware of it and accepts it."

"But...I am not sure how else she sees me. I mean I know she sees me as a man." Her snogging, flirting, and heavy seduction was proof of that. "But...I dunno if there is anything else she sees in me."

Sometimes he felt like he could never escape the Boy-Who-Lived image. At first he had wanted to be with Ginny so he could escape it. But the first few years he knew her, he had felt a little uncomfortable with how she looked at him. She had been the one to see him as the Boy-Who-Lived the longest. Though she teases him about his statues, she doesn't ever seem to stop talking about it.

And she doesn't tell people to stop calling him the Savior or the Boy-Who-Lived. She really enjoyed it. A desire for fame must be another trait within the Weasley family. Pretty much every child either had fame or wanted it. And once they got it they latched on to it. It must be from battling for attention and struggling through poverty. But it was an annoying aspect.

He knew he was famous, knew why he was famous, and he was very tired of it.

If he married Ginny, as he very well planned to, would she actually be the reminder of his past as he feared Hermione would be?

"Sadly, that is not a good thing to say about the woman whom you are thinking of proposing too. "A man and a star you very well are, but you have so many more layers then that."

"I-I know." The lustrous glow he always saw Ginny under was dimming rapidly. It saddened him to see that image and those feelings for her leave him. It made him feel empty inside. Ginny gave him the hope of love. Now he was watching that hope slip away.

"Ms. Granger?" Dumbledore wondered, finding no need to ask the full question. No point after all.

Harry paused and realized he could sum it up in one word how Hermione sees him, "A-As...As Harry..." All of a sudden he smiled, "She was impressed with me at first...but just because I was in a book. She was muggle-born so she never really understood my celebrity status. After that it was just Harry."

The old wizard's lips pulled up, his whiskers tickling his nose, "A hero, a star, a man, a boy, a orphan, a shy loner, a dreamer, a passionate player, an intelligent student, a warrior..."

"A crybaby, a short-fuse, a trickster," Harry laughed, "She sees it all. She has accepted it all. Hell, we've talked about it all. We have talked about everything. Everything about everything, including myself. Hermione has seen all of me."

"She sees you as Harry James Potter." Albus finished.

"It...feels wrong though." Harry sighed, pushing the feelings and happiness away.

"Your words and feelings for Ms. Weasley is not set in stone. It is not some law for you to have to forever remain with her. You come to a realization that you love someone else, you go to that someone you love. Don't stay with Ms. Weasley because of guilt. That will only bring you pain, whether now or twenty years from now. It will eventually catch up to you."

"B-But I feel like I should love her. That when I look back on everything that has happened and I have done...I thought...well why shouldn't I love her? Now that I am unsure it just feels wrong." He whimpered, burying his face in his hands, "Ugh, everything feels wrong."

"You're just overwhelmed and confused, Harry. For the past, what has it been, three and a half years? You have been set in stone of what you know and feel; that Ms. Granger loves Mr. Weasley, and that you love Ms. Weasley. It has been apart of your reality. Now that it is breaking apart. It is rather hard to just get up, grin, accept it, and go about your new life."

"Guess that is what is freaking me out." Harry pulled at his hair, it was getting time to get a haircut. He wondered if Hermione would be willing to do that for him again. He could afford the best stylist around, but he liked what Hermione did. "New life. I just got the one I have fought so long and hard for...now I have to give it up and start all over. And I don't even know if it will work out to my favor. I might lose so many friends."

"If they leave you because you were simply trying to obtain what makes you the happiest, then they weren't really your friends to begin with." Albus soothed. "I agree, Mr. and Ms. Weasley will probably be hurt and upset. And Ms. Granger might be in denial and scared. But for once you need to think of yourself Harry. You need to stop worrying so much about the outcome of everything. If you are honest to everyone, especially yourself, things will work out."

"I-I dunno..." Harry bit his nails, "How do I know leaving Ginny for Hermione is actually the right thing to do? What if I am just getting swept up in the moment right now? That I am just having a moment of doubt and instead of fighting through it I am avoiding it?"

"But isn't that how the two of you got together in the first place? You got swept up in a moment?"

"I didn't question or worry about it either. You are telling me not to fret over breaking up with Ginny." Harry snapped, his temper peaking again.

"You were very concerned over it. You were a bit confused and you were worried what Mr. Weasley would think, how it would affect your friendship, and about her safety. But you never thought over why you liked her. What about her made your heart flutter."

"She was beautiful and smart, funny too." He smiled, remembering her at the Burrow, flipping her long hair back and making fun of Fleur. How that so feminine action, not suiting who she was, made him just look at her differently. "How do I know for sure it would be right for me to leave her?"

"Have you been listening to your arguments and excuses; She doesn't understand, she wasn't given the opportunity, she doesn't know, you are unsure, she will eventually. You are putting yourself with a woman who does not understand you right now. When you need her to understand you and help you heal. You have also just said that Ms. Granger sees you the way you want to be seen."

"Y-Yeah." Harry went got up again and went over to the desk, his thin and calloused fingers poked at some of the magical items, watching as they would spin or react with a song. "But you can't always explain love can you?"

"To some degree you should be able to. Even if it is just because "it feels right" you should be able to explain it in some way." Dumbledore smiled, remembering his own trials and tribulations with his love and how it was so wrong to so many, but it felt so right to him. It was the only way he could explain it for many years, but it was an explanation he knew was the truth. "Can you say that about Ms. Weasley?"

"I...can't. I can't say it feels right. It certainly feels wrong to leave her. But it no longer feels right. And I don't think I have ever been so confused before."

"You need to clear your mind. Try not to calm yourself. Take deep breaths and close your eyes and remember what we talked about and remember those two girls. You could very well be in love with Ms. Weasley. I will be alright with that as long as you are sure and happy. But you need to know." Albus coached, watching the boy do as told. "Go over our whole conversation again, think of memories, and picture them. Follow your heart."

"Cliche." Harry chuckled, keeping his eyes closed, using the meditating techniques he had learned from Remus. Falling back into his mind he did as his teacher told him. He remembered the conversations and questions, and this time answered them all without anger. He remembered his time with both girls and what they have done for him again. And realized he loved Ginny. He truly did, but perhaps not in the way he had first believed. He loved her because she seemed easy, she reminded him of his mother, she was to be his escape from this world. Just like how she didn't love him for Harry, he didn't love her for Ginny.

It broke his heart, because she had been a wonderful girlfriend, but they would have to break up.

Dumbledore, the damn know-it-all (really and they call Hermione that!), was right. Things would only turn sour in their relationship eventually. There would be divorce or they would be stuck in a loveless marriage just because they loved their children so much.

That was not a life he wanted. It was not one that Ginny nor himself deserved. They should go out and be able to find true, compatible soul-mates. There needs to be something more then ease or desire to a permanent relationship.

And that something was shared between him and Hermione.

That girl with the ridiculous hair, fetish for books, and giving nature. She was everything he wanted to be in life, everything he wanted to have, and everything he wanted to give to her. She was the one. And he wanted to curse himself for not seeing it sooner.

"Merlin, I suck."

Dumbledore snorted over his laughter, "I think that is a bit harsh."

"I think it is actually nicely censored. I am just being weary of elderly ears." Harry teased back. "I just want to cry and bash my head into the wall. I feel like the biggest idiot around. I've neglected Hermione, a woman who loves me and who...who..." He shook his head, not ready to say it just yet, "And I feel like I have led Ginny on. We've been talking about marriage! She has come to a conclusion I would be proposing to her within a few months time."

"Best to do it as gently, but bluntly, as possible. Be prepared in being seen as a villain for a bit. But as I said, if they are really your friends, they will accept your decision." Albus smiled. "How are you feeling about Ms. Granger?"

"Brilliant. I-I mean...its weird. Its horrible and fantastic at the same time." The black-haired male breathed out. "I am just a little...overwhelmed and scared to say I love her. I mean I came in here just about two hours ago in love with Ginny. It also feels a little wrong. I would...rather talk to her about it. Ask if I may court her. That the two of us can do this right." He laughed, a little stressed and panicky, "To think...I want to spend the rest of my life with Hermione but I can't say I love her."

"Don't fret. I think she will understand, she is very good at understanding, you know?" The Headmaster chortled. "But you are sure this is the way you wish to go? Why?"

Green eyes narrowed, "I am going the path you had originally wanted me to go, why ask about it?"

"Because my boy, it is your life and happiness. I have said multiple times; as long as you are in love with the right person and you're happy that is all that matters to me. You said a wise thing; you were in love with Ms. Weasley coming into my office, but not as you leave. You will want to be very sure about it."

Has he mentioned yet how much he hates how Dumbledore always seems right?

"I guess it is because she was there. Hermione just knows all there is about me. She has seen every side and accepts it. And I know she will always be prepared to help me out no matter what. It...feels right." Harry walked back over to face the portrait head on.

"You know...I have always liked those words." Dumbledore chuckled.

Harry blinked, "Which words sir?"

"She was there."

The man paused and remembered what he had just said. She was there. "I...I do too." Harry smiled, "I actually really like them. And I think, it sorta sums it all up for me...if I ever have to explain it, how I fell in love with her, that is all I need to say." Confidence was restored in the task he had to do. "Ah..." He looked taken aback, "I-I said it."

"I don't believe any other explanation would be required." Another raspy laugh escaped the elderly man's throat, "So you did my boy! So you did!"

"I had thought...it would take me longer to say it. But just saying things like that. It just...it came out."

"Yet you don't seem to regret it or think it is a lie."

Harry shook his head, "No. It really feels right. Merlin it feels wrong to leave Ginny still, but it feels so right to talk about Hermione like this." He smiled, "It is what I need to do."

"I see." Dumbledore nodded before he clapped his hands and got up, "Well then my boy. You know you can always come back and find me here. Please visit when you can. And if you and Ms. Granger happen to go on that trip, I would love to have an Owl or two. No worries," He winked, "Minerva will read them too me."

"A-Ah, w-wait! I need to find out the loophole! I know that I should be with Hermione...but marriage would be too soon. Please...don't make us marry like this."

Albus smiled, "I had lied to you before. About me, being a portrait, couldn't do anything. I am sorry about that. But I had made a deal with the goblins that, for this one issue alone, I could give my painting power over. They accepted saying they were use to unusual happenings surrounding you, and that this did not step out of any legal boundaries since it will just be a release and not a binding."

Harry's jaw dropped, "All this time...you really could've just called them in and had it taken away?"

"Oh yes, and I will be doing that this evening. I think you and Ms. Granger should just enjoy dating life for a bit." He grinned mischievously, those eyes twinkly. "Now please go on. I do believe after this I would like a nap."

"Tell me about it..." Harry grumbled, wanting to punch a hole through the damn painting again. While good things have been revealed it was still a damn stress. He would need to find a way for revenge. Perhaps that could be one of the first things he and Hermione do together – he would need her brains after all in how to make a painting suffer. "I guess I won't be able to have one for a while. You enjoy your nap, I have to go and break a girl's heart."

"Don't feel so bad about it. You know it will all work out in the end. Just a few more bumps to face. Ah, I don't want to keep you here. You have a long night ahead of you. I am sorry you have to go facing it alone."

Harry shrugged his shoulders, "I think I am starting to get use to it. But while I have to face it alone, I know I won't have to deal with it alone." He smiled, "Hermione will be there with a shoulder for me to use."

"Mhmm, very true." He smiled and then urged him to go on. Harry had a great adventure ahead of him and he wouldn't want to keep him from it any longer then needed. "I will see you around, Harry."

"Thank you professor. Oh, and...sorry for the language, from before." He looked a little sheepish at his reaction from before. "I reacted pretty uuh...violently."

"That you did. But it was to be expected and was a perfectly acceptable reaction. I would be rather concerned if you reacted any less." He chuckled. "As long as you can forgive this manipulative old goat."

"We can call it even then sir." Harry laughed, though still plotting. "I will let you know how things go. Hogwarts has graciously offered me housing for a while. I might need it after this argument. I should be able to keep you posted." With a mock salute the teenager went out the way he came in, only this time minus the tantrum.

Harry bounded down the stairs, feeling grave yet uplifted. He was planning on how to face everything, but knew he could do this all. The confidence was bristling from him and would not back down.

No more turning away because something isn't easy.

It was going to be a long journey, there would be more fights, some tears, and strain on relationships. But if he could take on the Dark Lord, Harry was confident he could face whatever was to come. And this time he knew that while it was hard, he was taking it because it was right. And though he was pushed it was all his own choice. And Hermione would be there after it is all said and done.

Back within the office Dumbledore chuckled, smacking his lips as he popped another lemon drop between them, "Not to bad for a damn painting. Not to bad at all." He sucked on the drop as he relaxed in his chair, he wasn't kidding about needing a nap after such a battle. "I might try my hand at matchmaking again one day." And with that thought, he closed his eyes and fell into a nice nap, pleased to know things would work out well.

It is what Harry deserved after all.

Author: I mean no offense to Harry/Ginny fans, we all can love differently. I just get frustrated at the story and characters themselves, since I see the H/Hr couple working so perfectly well. But please no flames and I would rather there be no "Well Rowling placed them together for..." I really have heard/read most all reasons. I don't need to hear them again. If you like H/G, good for you! You can like whatever you want and it is not wrong or right (being a book and all that).

I also think "she was there" sums up one of the main reasons I love the two of them together. As said, Ginny never had the opportunities that Hermione did. But I don't just mean the "rescuing Sirius" type of situation. I mean, Hermione was always there for Harry with any emotional thing he had to face. Any type of worry, doubt, happiness, random thought, Hermione was there to experience it. And I think Harry needs that. Cause there is no way he would be in his right mind after all of this. He will need a special kind of emotional support that I don't think Ginny can give him. She is not emotionally mature or connected enough. Now, I can read and appreciate a good Ginny-bashing fic but I know it is not in her character. She is a sweet spunky girl. And while Harry is a good guy, he is uuh...damaged one could say. I just can't see it working. Even with the Epilogue I just sorta wince and worry about divorce cause of how imbalanced they seem.

Also sorry if it seems like Harry gave her up rather easily (though man, this was 22 pages long, it didn't feel easy!) however, as stated, i don't think that this relationship would last. I don't see it as very strong. So put a bit of doubt and pressure on him, and I just think he would eventually come to a realization about his affection (Even if it is not for Hermione).

This is also a slightly different type of story then I usually do. I enjoy conversation fics and stories on characters and emotions, however I don't think I have made a one-shot/chapter fic quite like this before. Also it has been YEARS since I have made a Harry Potter fic (most are anime; YYH fans, I WILL be updating, just wanted to write this one while I was inspired). So be gentle in critiques...or really just be aware I am probably very aware (very blinded) by the flaws haha. I was also unsure what characters to place this under; it stars Dumbledore and Harry for sure, but the main focus is Harry/Hermione. So I will start with one and if it is not received well I will change it (hopefully it won't be too late by then!D:)

So yes, you got my reasons, and a moment of insecurity lol, I made sure there was no bashing of Ginny herself, and hopefully it was made for a decent enough story lol. Maybe if this is taken well I will be inspired to make more XD. Hope you enjoyed!