Hermione is frustrated by Ron's attempts to ask girls to the yule ball. In the library she bumps into Fred who has different ideas than his brother, once the situation is explained.
To describe what Hermione was feeling at this very moment would be a really complicated thing to do. For one thing, she was hurt. Hurt at the realization that in the eyes of her friends Harry and Ron, she truly was just one of the boys. It wasn’t as if she had any romantic feelings to any of them, but the fact remained that she was in fact not a boy, but a girl. Despite the fact that she may not show it to the outside world, she did like being a girl and was coming at an age where it didn’t leave her cold when a boy noticed that. So it did fell a bit hard on her when in their search for a date to the Yule Ball, neither of them saw that she was just as much a girl and so, possible candidate than any other.
The second thing she felt was frustration, aimed at the both of them for disturbing her every moment with questions on how to ask a girl to the Yule ball.
“It’s not that hard, you just have to pick up some courage, you step up to her and you ask her!” she sighed, when Ron had managed to ask her for the tenth time. He didn’t seem to get what she was saying because he didn’t act upon it, just kept asking as if possibly he still hadn’t realized that what she said was an actual answer.
“But what do I say then? Suppose I say something wrong and screw up and they say no? I’ve already been declined once by Fleur.”
The third thing Hermione felt was defeat and maybe the urge to smack Ron on the head with the book on numerology she was currently trying to read. “Then you accept it and you try to ask another one… Just like you are doing now. Honestly Ron!”
“Yeah, but it’s just that I really, really would like them to say yes. Before you know it all the good ones are taken and I end up going to the ball with a girl even more embarrassing than my dress robes.”
The fourth thing Hermione now felt was insult, horror and the absolute urge to hex Ron so hard that he’d be in the sick ward still, by the time the Yule ball arrived. Points for Gryffindor be damned… She got up, took her book and walked to the portrait of the fat lady.
It was for this reason that Hermione was now at the library, trying very hard to concentrate on the exercises in her numerology book but more busy muttering curses. Seeing that it was to no avail, she got up and went towards the shacks and shacks of books, looking for something that would set her mind on something else. She didn’t see where she was going and so managed to bump straight into Fred Weasley.
He immediately started teasing her, a big smile plastered on his face, but watching the look on her face that smile was quickly replaced by a worried look.
“Uhu, which is why, at this very moment, you’re doing a perfect imitation of McGonagall’s face when George and I manage to be late for one of her classes?”
His eyes searched her face for an answer and Hermione nodded her head. Why on earth would he be so concerned for her?
“Why on earth shouldn’t I be? You’ve only spent 2 summers at my house, you’re my idiotic little brother’s best friend, and not to mention, you’re the only one here at Hogwarts who can actually call herself smarter than me and George.” Was Fred’s reply when she asked him.
“If it weren’t for that last sentence I was worried you weren’t Fred at all… But you can’t blame me for not being a little bit suspicious.”
Fred turned around and made way to leave.
“You know what? Never mind. If you refuse to believe that I might actually show some concern from time to time and can actually be serious…” he hesitated for a moment, contemplating wetter or not he would finish his sentence, “it’s not my problem any way.”
Hermione suddenly got the feeling that if someone would smack her on the head right now, she would say she deserved it. Here she was, angry at Ron for not seeing her how she truly was, taking her anger out by making a very shallow and inaccurate portrait of somebody else.
Fred turned around again and looked at her expectantly.
“That wasn’t fair of me… I… I guess… it was unfair of me to think you’d only prank and tease.”
“It’s okay, me and George sort of give that impression to a lot of people.” By the tone of his voice it became clear that it really wasn’t all that okay.
“No it’s not… you see, that is exactly the reason that has gotten me upset right. The fact that nobody seems to see beyond the bookworm. Not even Ron or Harry who are closest to me.”
Fred stepped back towards her and leaned against one of the bookshelves, he was very close to her.
“I’m sure Ron and Harry see other qualities in you, with everything you guys went through.”
“No, they don’t. Not when it truly comes down to it. I’m one of the gang, just like them, nothing more.”
Fred couldn’t quite believe that last part. You’d have to be thick not to notice how Hermione had changed the past years. Her hair had tamed quite a bit, her teeth had recently gone to normal and revealed a beautiful smile, her body had changed and she had all the right curves in all the right places. Hermione wasn’t just a girl, she was a beautiful one. Not the classical beauty, but still… Plus, she had this amazing look in her eyes when she disapproved of something. He had noticed it when they were trying to take the aging potion. Truth was, Fred Weasley had been admiring her from afar for quite some time now.
“Why do you believe that?”
“The yule ball… they go on and on how all the girls have a date and how they can’t seem to find a girl that they could take. All while I’m sitting right next to them. Just now, Ron even asked me for advice on how to ask a girl without her saying no.”
Fred shook his head, “Well Ron never did quite get the Weasley brain genes.”
Hermione laughed at that and an uncomfortable silence fell between them. Fred looked at her and before he knew it he interrupted the silence with a question he didn’t expect to ask but was quite brilliant when he thought about it later on.
“So, if my git of a brother won’t take you… why don’t you go with me?”
“Excuse me?” A very confused look, appeared on her face.
“You. Me. Yule ball. Dancing.”
“Yes, I’ve heard you but… don’t you have a dozen girls already dying to go with you? You don’t have to ask me out of pity.”
“Who says pity has anything to do with it? I’d like to go to the ball with a girl who: A, Doesn’t daydream about our future children already. B, Can challenge me from time to time and C, who happens to be good looking.”
Okay, so maybe he should’ve left that last bit of information to himself, but it was out in the open now.
“Now I know you’re joking.”
“I really am not you know. You are a beautiful witch.”
Hermione was at a loss for words and kept staring at him, he was quite desperate to get inside her mind at this moment, to hear what she was thinking. Finally, he couldn’t take the tension anymore.
“So? Will you?”
“Then yes, I’d like it.”
Two days later Ron, Harry and Hermione were sitting in the common room, studying for a transfiguration test. When a group of second year Gryffindor girls passed them, giggling.
“You know Harry,” Ron remarked, “we are allowed to take girls younger than us.”
“Yes Ron, I know, I’ve already asked Ginny.”
“What!” Ron looked angry at his friend.
“Look Ron, at this point I’m just looking for a girl with whom I can actually have a nice conversation. No need to get all protective. Anyway, Neville is already taking her.”
“You mean, Neville’s got a date and we don’t! Harry… This is getting out of control here.”
Hermione had tried to igonre the conversation. It didn’t bother her anymore now that she had secured a date of her own but honestly, those two were really, really getting way too desperate.
Hermione looked up at Ron. This better not be another question to ask a girl in their place or a question on how to woo a woman.
“You’re a girl.”
Harry suddenly turned red, knowing fully well what his friend was getting into as soon as the words left his mouth and not planning on joining in on the conversation.
“Well noticed Ron!”
She couldn’t believe how thick he could really be.
“You could go with one of us. I mean, a guy going alone can be considered cool and quite okay. You know, the ‘I am not tying down’ type. But for a girl, it’s just plain sad actually if she were to turn up alone.”
Hermione remained silent at first, she was gathering a bit of calm before she would reply.
“Ronald Weasley, you are thick beyond comprehension, you know that? I won’t be going alone, thank you very much because believe it or not… Someone has already asked me. And I said yes!”
She closed her book with a lot of force making a few people look up at the noise, just in time to watch her hit Ron over the head with the book, and walking towards the girls dorm room.
“She’s going alone.” Ron said to Harry.
Harry just gave him, his whatever you say look.
The following days didn’t offer Hermione any peace of mind, Ron would follow her everywhere, pestering her with questions on who her date was.
“If you really had a date, you’d just say his name. I mean we will find out when you go to the ball you know.”
Fred turned his head when he heard this and stared at Hermione. Why on earth would she not tell who she was going with? Was she having second thoughts? He had been quite confident and happy when he told George the news but George on the other hand still had his doubts. He knew his brother admired Hermione but he also hadn’t seen a real sign that Hermione felt something similar for Fred. He was afraid that his twin brother had gotten his hopes too high and had expressed this concern to him. Hearing her refuse to say the name of her date made him doubt suddenly. Maybe George was right, she might consider calling the whole thing off.
After breakfast he followed her, watching as she said her goodbyes to Ron and Harry before heading to her own class.
“Hello Granger. Looking forward to our date?”
“It’s not actually a ‘date’ is it?”
“Well, I do hoped that the two of us would enjoy ourselves together.” Fred felt his heart alongside his hopes plunge.
“Sure! Of course! But we are going just as friends, right?”
Great, the friend zone. Somehow this gave him an uneasy feeling, but he couldn’t quite place it.
“Right… Say, talking about our date. I couldn’t help but overhear that you refuse to tell my git of a brother that you’re going with me? Not ashamed are you?”
“Of course not! I just want to torment him a bit. He had quite a rude way of announcing that he suddenly realized that I was an option for the ball, and became even ruder by just assuming that I couldn’t possibly have a date. Which was ‘kind of sad for a girl’. I figured that a few days of guessing and not knowing is the least I can do.”
This information was so relieving that he couldn’t help but laugh out loud. She wasn’t ashamed of him. That was one worry out of the way.
“It’s not that funny…”
“Oh but it is! And mom always thinks Charlie will be the eternal bachelor. She should start worrying about Ron as well. Though in his case, it won’t be because he isn’t trying.”
They continued their way together, talking and laughing and Hermione found that he was actually a quite nice person to talk to.
“Well, this is my classroom. Good luck with yours, what do you have right now?”
“Then I’d hurry if I were you. That’s all the way on the other side of the castle. You might actually see McGonagall’s face when you’re late now.”
At that Fred started to run, leaving a laughing Hermione behind him.
The Yule ball came closer and closer and finally it was there. Ron and Harry were still none the wiser about Hermione’s date but they finally let it slide when they found dates of their own, asking the Patil sisters if they wanted to come. Ginny however knew all about it and had planned to help Hermione get ready.
“This really isn’t necessary Ginny.”
“Maybe it isn’t, but you told me not so long ago about the fact that you sometimes wished people saw you differently than just the bookworm.”
She was applying loads of Sleekeazy's Hair Potion on her hair, brushing her way through it. Hermione’s eyes were tearing up. She instead focused on the label.
“Unique side effects for red heads… How come you have this stuff then?”
“I might’ve owl ordered it for you when I heard you were going to the yule ball with Fred.”
Hermione just glared at her through her watery eyes… she was quite sensitive about the bushy state of her hair and didn’t really like the fact that Ginny thought it was so necessary to tame it, that she actually ordered the products for it. As soon as Ginny was finished though she looked in the mirror and was quite impressed with the result. Her hair was long and soft, it was beautiful!
“Wow! Hermione!” Lavender commented when she saw the result, “You’re unrecognizable!”
“You can’t believe how jealous I am of your hair right now.” Parvati squeeled. Though Hermione found it hard to believe. Parvati had natural long soft black hair and a beautiful exotic look.
“Now, we just need to get your hair in some nice up do, but first I’m going to do your make-up and get you in your dress.”
Ginny was quite into Hermione’s makeover, considering it a bit of a pet project, but most of all a favor to a friend and when she was finally finished Hermione couldn’t believe what she saw in the mirror.
“Nobody will know this is me,” she said taking in her image in the mirror.
Lavender at that point said nothing, more jealous on how Hermione suddenly was the more beautiful girl in comparison. Parvati however, feeling secure enough knowing she was opening the ball with one of the champions admired Hermione while Ginny did the final touches on her own look. Finally they were all ready to go down.
Parvati hurried herself down the stairs, she had agreed to meet her sister in between the towers of Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, so they could meet Ron and Harry downstairs together. As she passed Fred who was waiting on his date, sitting next to George, she smiled, looking at the wrong twin.
“Just wait till you see your date.”
With that she hurried out of the room.
“I think that was aimed at you Fred.”
“She looked at you George.”
“Yes, but she sleeps in the same room as your date, not mine.”
As they continued to argue Hermione, Ginny and Lavender came downstairs as well and Fred’s jaw dropped.
“Okay… she was trying to talk to me.”
Hermione walked towards Fred, a bit unsure when he said nothing to her.
“Blimey Hermione… you look… you look magnificently beautiful.”
Fred suddenly felt more lost than he ever did in the company of a girl. He suddenly realized he was really falling for her. And that realization hit him harder than a bludger.