(A/N) Sorry for the appearance of Harry the Prat, folks, but this eensy-weensy ficlet called for it. This story does not fall in my regular timeline . . . itís just a speculation.
Harry wandered downstairs, yawning and wondering muzzily where Ron and Hermione had got to.
"Theyíre off somewhere," Mrs. Weasley told him when he asked. "They finished breakfast about half an hour ago. Here, eat something first."
He ate the eggs at the table, but wrapped the toast and four of the sausages in a napkin before sneaking outside while her back was turned. On the porch, he shaded his eyes and scanned the horizon. No best friends.
Theyíd come out to the Burrow for a couple of days. Something was going on in London that Mrs. Weasley didnít want them part of. Harry probably would have resented it a year ago, but right now he was rather glad of the vacation. For a couple of days, he could forget about danger and death and war and Voldemort, and pretend that he was a regular just-sixteen-year-old on summer holidays, making a serious career of doing nothing.
Before he did that, though, he had to find Ron and Hermione. Doing nothing alone was nice, but doing nothing with them would ten times as fun.
He wandered around the yard for a bit, idly chewing the toast, before concluding that they werenít anywhere close to the house. He struck out into the woods surrounding the Burrow, eating the sausage as he went. They couldnít have gone too far--the protective charms only extended so far from the house. He paused, hearing a familiar scold, and grinned.
"Ron! What are you doing?"
"Hush up a moment--youíll see--"
He followed the sound of her voice and found her standing underneath a tree, squinting up into its thick, glossy leaves.
"Ron!" she said again, apparently to the upper branches. "Ron, do come down here--"
"Nope, havenít got it yet," the tree answered her. "Donít natter, Hermione."
Harry grinned wider at the familiar rhythm of a Ron-Hermione interchange.
"Ron!" Hermione shouted. She still hadnít seen Harry.
With a gigantic rustle, Ron leapt from the branches to land at her feet.
Hermione lurched backward in surprise, then crossed her arms, pretending she hadnít done any such thing. "Honestly, you could have broken your leg! What is so important?"
Ron produced a slightly crushed white flower. "That. Like it?"
"Itís a magnolia. How did your mum get a magnolia to grow here? The soilís all wrong--"
He heaved a sigh. "Put the Herbology on hold, would you? I got a sodding flower for you."
Harryís brows drew together.
"Oh!" She accepted it. "Itís lovely," she said demurely. "Thank you."
"Thank you? I risk life and limb and all I get is a thank you?"
And then she put her arms around his neck and kissed him. Not on the cheek, as sheíd done before, but right on the mouth.
Something in Harryís head went clank and ground to a halt.
"Thatís more like it," Ron said, and put his arms around her waist, leaning down to kiss her back.
Harry stood staring at them. His world, ever so slowly, tipped over sideways.
Ron and Hermione.
Hermione and Ron.
He took a step back, thinking only of escape, and a twig cracked under his heel. They both jumped, and then Ron spotted him. "Oh, hell."
Hermione spun around then, and saw him. "Harry!"
There was nothing for it. He couldnít pretend now. "Hi," he said weakly.
"We thought you were still asleep," she said, just as weakly.
"Yeah, I guess you did."
"All I meant was--"
"Forgot to mention something in your letters, did you?" he said.
Hermione put her hands to her head. "Oh, Harry, it--"
"Forget it, Hermione, the jigís up," Ron said. He looked at Harry almost defiantly. "Yeah, itís true, weíre together."
"Since the summer started," Hermione said miserably.
"You might have mentioned it," Harry said.
The first flicker of impatience showed in her eyes. "Oh, Harry, how on earth were we going to tell you?"
"Dear Harry," he said sarcastically, "Might interest you to know Iím regularly sticking my tongue down your best mateís throat. Lovely weather. Wish you were here."
Ronís jaw jutted. "Dear Harry," he said, just as sarcastically, "Might interest you to know Iíve just discovered Hermioneís as mad about me as I am about her. Deliriously happy, Ron."
Harryís eyes narrowed. "Dear Harry," he said, "guess what. Weíre never going to have time for you ever again, because weíre too bloody busy with more important things! So sorry!"
Hermione slapped her hands on her hips. The magnolia fluttered unheeded to the earth. "Dear Harry," she said. "I just know youíre going to be disgusting about this, so Iím not even going to bother telling you that Ronís suddenly the best thing that ever happened to me."
"Dear Harry," he shouted, spinning around and stomping away from them. "This is the end! Weíre not the three of us anymore, weíre the two of us and you!"
"Dear Harry," Ron roared, "your head is up your arse!"
Harry stopped in front of a tree and hit it with all his might. "Ow!" He swore the air blue until the pain subsided, then fell silent, resting his forehead against the rough bark. After several minutes, he sighed.
"Dear Ron and Hermione," he said. "I knew it was coming. Iíve known for a long time about the two of you. Probably longer than you." He risked a glance over his shoulder. "Well. Definitely longer than Ron, anyway."
They were looking over their shoulders at him.
"I just didnít think it would be so soon," he continued. "I didnít want it to be, because it changes things, and you canít deny that. Iím--" He paused. "I will be happy for you," he said carefully. "If youíre still my friends after all this yelling. I need you. Both of you. Youíre the only ones who know what I really am."
"A total prat," Ron muttered.
"Yeah," Harry said. "A flaming total prat. Selfish and stupid and so scared of losing the two of you to each other that I have to push you away first."
Hermione cracked first, as heíd known she would. He knew them so well that he wondered why he hadnít noticed the change before.
Maybe he hadnít wanted to.
She came to him and put her arms around him. "Dear Harry," she whispered, "everything doesnít have to change."
"Yeah, but . . . a lot of it," he whispered back.
She rested her head on his shoulder.
Ron came to them and put his hand on his other shoulder. "Dear Harry," he said roughly. "Sheís my girl, but youíll always be my best mate. Always."
Harry sighed. "I will be happy for you," he said. "Eventually."
"Eventuallyís good," Ron said. "Eventually we can work with."
Ronís hand dangled at his side, and Hermione reached for it with her free one, weaving her fingers through his. Harry watched, fascinated, as each finger settled into place, click-click-click, like a key fitting into the tumblers of a lock.
There was something so perfectly natural about it that the last of his fury died, leaving only heartache behind.