It was considered inevitable she'd end up with one of them; right from the very beginning, when the sixth-year girls of her house would gush how cute it was that the three little first-years were inseparable. Bets were offered and taken, which of the boys would notice her first, which would ask her out first or even whether she'd take the initiative. Hermione had been aware of this, but she hadn't cared.

As she had grown older, the interest had only increased, infecting even her own year. Her date to the Yule ball had been a big thing, a lot of money had been lost on Harry, thinking him too shy to ask anyone except Hermione (Daphne Greengrass had made back the cost of her dress robes and more from overhearing the whispered conversations with Krum in the library).

After the boys extreme reactions to her presence at the ball many felt it would be decided by the end of the year, and betting began in earnest. The smart money was on Ron; after all, there was passion there, or that's what their blazing rows were described as anyway. And did she not push him hard to succeed, far more so than Harry. She would always celebrate his successes and commiserate his failures. Was this not affection on her part? She would often barely talk to Harry, it was noted, they would sit working on their homework for hours without saying a word.

A few though supported Harry in this curious Gryffindor soap opera. They would note the two by the fire, curled up reading a book together, or notice how she would always give him a hug before he went flying, even if she had to run across the common room to do so. It was a quieter, more private friendship, but there were those who felt it would be the one to last.

As nothing further in their little drama occurred by the end of fourth year, many of the students of all houses turned to her roommates for information. What were her thoughts on the boys? What was her type? What did she want from a relationship?

They had inquired subtly (or so they thought) on the others' behalf to avail, and had nothing extra to report. Hermione had been aware of all of this, and had laughed.

She did know what she wanted; it was simple really. She wanted to be needed, and Ron needed.

He needed someone to drive him further than he'd go alone, needed someone to pick him up when he fell. He needed someone to soothe his anger and bolster his ego. He needed someone to cheer him when he was upset and look after him when he was unwell, and even when he wasn't.

Ron needed someone...

... but Harry needed Hermione.

It was not a difficult choice.

A.N Don't consider this my triumphant return to fanfiction, but this little idea, among many others, has been bugging me for years and finally coalesced into a form I was happy with.