Need
By: Liz
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me. I am using them for fun, not profit. If you sue me, all you'll get are my college loans. There's a lot of them.
Rating: PG
Paring: one-sided Harry/Ron, Harry/Dean
Author's Notes: I got kind of tired of seeing 'wizards accept everything' stories, and I also wanted to try writing a pairing I don't see much of. This is what happened.
Archiving: Anywhere, just keep my name and disclaimers attached.
Feedback is always appreciated. Flames will be ignored, then sent out to my friends so that I can't be accused selfishly of hogging the joy of mocking them.

*****--beginning/end of flashback

**********

It only took five minutes for me to realize that I could never be myself, that I could never have who I loved. Five minutes for my world to change and for something I never expected to happen, happen.

Five minutes to have my life redefined for me. I wasn't happy then, but I am now.

You want to know the story? All right, then....

*****

It was at breakfast. Dean likes to keep on top of what's going on in the Muggle world, so he arranged with his parents to send him a copy of his local post each morning. Normally, the paper wouldn't cause much of a stir. Sometimes various articles would cause amusement or confusion, but that was about it.

Not that morning.

I was sitting next to Dean when the paper arrived. He scanned the headlines, and then said, "Well, this is nice."

I glanced at the paper, but the only thing of interest I saw was a headline about further tensions in the Middle East. I raised an eyebrow and looked at Dean. "I do hope you're being sarcastic."

He looked at me, than at the paper again. "Not about *that*," Dean clarified. "I meant this article." He then proceeded to read aloud an article about a government measure being voted on that would allow survivor's benefits for those of 'non-traditional' couples. "I hope it passes," he commented finishing the article.

"I have to agree with you, Dean, on both counts. That is a nice sentiment to start out the morning with, and that's something I think is needed." I was sort of relieved that Dean had nothing against the 'non-traditional' couple. Out of all of us, he actually struck me as the most conservative. If he was all right with it, maybe then I had a chance with my friends.

Hermione scrunched up her face. "How could you think something like that is *nice*?"

Or maybe not. I decided to give Hermione allowances, though. Being Muggle-born, she might've been raised in a homophobic household.

Ron looked confused. "What does 'non-traditional' mean, anyway?"

Best to be blunt when dealing with someone as notoriously oblivious as Ron is. "It means gay or lesbian couples," I clarified.

Ron's reaction was lass than I was hoping for. Actually, it was a complete one-eighty from what I was hoping for. "*Gay*?" he hissed. "That's *disgusting*!"

I felt my heart sink into my stomach.

Neville nodded in agreement. "Your own gender...there's nothing good about that."

Dean buried himself in his newspaper, so I was left to deal with this fallout. "Love is a wonderful thing," I said, trying not to show how I was really feeling. "If you can find someone that makes you happy in this world, does it matter if they're male or female?"

"Hell yes!" Ron shouted, drawing all attention to our table. "It's all about men and women. Procreation. The continued survival of the race. Anything else is...is...." He groped for a word.

"Deviant?" Hermione suggested, and Ron smiled and nodded.

"Deviant is good. Anyway, I know that if a guy came on to *me*, I'd probably hex first and ask questions later."

"Well," I said, holding back my tears, "you'll excuse me if I hold a different opinion." I stood, unable to be near people for another moment. "I have to go."

I left the Great Hall and began running, not paying attention to where I was going. Finally, finding myself sufficiently alone, I collapsed onto the floor and began to sob out a broken heart.

You see, I was in love with Ron. Yes, I'm gay, and I was love with my best friend. Who just bluntly denounced feelings of that sort. I had a horrible feeling that should Ron just find out that I liked guys, he'd never talk to me again, not to mention what he'd do if he found out that I liked *him* in particular.

I had no idea how long I was sitting there, crying, when I sensed someone nearby. Wiping away my tears, I looked to see Dean standing there. With my acknowledgement of his presence, he sank down next to me and put his arms around me.

"It's horrible, isn't it," he said contemplatively, "to hear your friends denounce who you are, even if they don't know that they're hurting you terribly."

I looked up at him. "You mean...?"

Dean laughed. "I'm bi, actually. I like girls, but I've harbored many a crush on a guy, as well." He sighed. "I know you're in love with Ron."

I stiffened. "Does...does anyone else know?"

"Honestly, I don't think so. No one looks for those feelings between guys here. If anything, people would be more likely to think you liked Hermione."

I leaned my head against Dean's shoulder. "Wizards as a whole accept so many things. Age in a relationship doesn't matter to them-not with that whole 'prolonged lifespan' thing going for them-why should gender?"

"I don't know, Harry." His arms around me tightened, and I found myself leaning into his embrace. "Why does anything bother people? It's senseless...but it still hurts like hell."

"That's the truth." We sat in silence for a few minutes. "Dean?"

"Hmmm?" His fingers had begun playing with my hair, and I found it comforting.

"You mentioned crushes on guys. Is there anyone you like right now?"

Dean sighed. "There is, but I don't think that he knows I even exist, sometimes."

I looked at him in shock. "How could someone *not* notice you? You're quiet sometimes, yes, but you're smart, funny, handsome-"

"Harry." He cut me off, raising his fingers to my lips to stop my words. "Do you really think I'm handsome?"

I blushed and looked away from his eyes. "Yes...I mean, well, you are."

He tilted my chin up so I had to look at him. His eyes were filled with a strange excitement that made my blood burn. "That guy I have a crush on? It's *you*, Harry Potter."

I was speechless.

"I know that you love Ron," he continued, "but, do you think that...maybe...you could see me, too?"

I smiled up at him. "I already do." Before he could say another word, I kissed him, and words were lost between us.

*****

We both knew that I loved Ron, but we also both know that it would never work, Ron and me. Dean and I, however, could. And did. We're happy together, though we have to hide our relationship from the world.

And, even though Dean doesn't know it yet, I'm not in love with Ron anymore.

I've fallen in love with Dean.

And I'm going to tell him, too. Tomorrow is our one-year anniversary. We're going to meet at the place where we first talked, first kissed, and celebrate our togetherness.

And it's there I'm going to tell Dean that I love him. Tell him that I want to share my life with him. That when we graduate we can go away together, live in the wizard or muggle world. I don't care which. I've defeated Voldemort, I don't *need* to be here anymore if I don't want to be.

What I do need, though, is Dean.

The opinions of the rest of the world be damned.

**********

The End