Hermoine stared at the empty space Ron had previously occupied not two minutes earlier. Ron, the one she hadn't talked to in two weeks because he couldn't be bothered to stop sucking the face off of his girlfriend, one Lavender Brown. She didn't know if she should be mortified or furious that Ron had honestly thought she still harbored feelings for him.
"Really Hermoine, I think you just need to move on...we would've never worked anyway."And with that he simply apparated away leaving her fuming on the steps of her tiny little flat in London.
Growling in frustration Hermoine decided all she needed was to relax with her, although she wouldn't admit it aloud, only second favorite guilty pleasure. As she stepped into the tiny cafe at the end of Diagon Alley she couldn't help but let her eyes wander over to the garishly painted purple and yellow building that currently housed the first of Hermoine's guilty pleasures.
She sighed as she entered the cafe and ordered, the beautiful little tart staring at her through the glass was enough to make her sigh with delight. As she took the little box containing her sinful treat the waitress smiled at her sympathetically,
Hermoine huffed in frustration and the waitress nodded in understanding. "Well I hope it gets better, although judging by the stare you're getting I'm thinking it just might." She winked, but Hermoine missed it as she whipped around and came face to face with her deepest desire.
Fred Weasley lounged in a chair behind her and Hermoine thought she might just melt into the floor at the sight. His purple robes had been discarded, probably in an exhausting inventing session that he and George often got caught up in. The shirt he wore clung to him in a way Hermoine was sure couldn't be legal and the way he was lounging offered her a tantalizing glimpse of his well-toned abs. None of this was what caused Hermoine's breath to catch in her throat, leaving her so dizzy she could barely stand. No, what did was the look he was giving her, the blazing, hungry stare that pierced her very soul.
She finally took a breath after the burning in her lungs became too much and suddenly the look in his eyes was gone and he smiled at her, almost so quickly she thought she must have imagined the stare.
He bounced to his feet in a way that only the twins could pull off, child-like and sexy all at the same time, and dragged her into a hug. She tried to calm her heart as it pounded in her chest, hoping he couldn't hear it as she returned the embrace. "What brings you all the way over here Fred?" She hoped she sounded casual as she pulled away from him and tried to take deep breaths to restrain herself. She didn't hear her answer as she focused on not threading her hands through his hair and kissing him the way she wanted to.
"You listening Granger?"
Hermoine's mind suddenly became away that he had replied to her and she fumbled to recall what he had said. Finally she sighed
"Sorry Fred, I've just had a bad day. What did you say again?" He gave her a dashing smile, one she was sure he used on every girl who he wasn't related to, and ran his hand through his hair. "Georgie and I were hoping we could use that giant brain of yours to help us solve a little problem we've been having."
Hermoine couldn't help but sigh, of course that had been the look on his face earlier, they had a problem that they couldn't solve. Fred misinterpreted her sigh as disapproval though and continued, "We aren't going to use it to prank anyone." He grasped onto her wrists, causing a shudder of pleasure to race through her and gave her his best puppy dog face,
"Please Hermoine, we can't do this without you." Her heart fluttered, and she nearly told him she'd do anything for him before catching herself. "Of course Fred, I'll be over in an hour or so."
She watched as he bounded out the door, obviously happy she agreed and couldn't help the tear that strived to roll out onto her cheek. God she was hopeless. She resisted the overwhelming urge to bring her wrist up to her nose and smell it, hoping to catch another sniff of his intoxicating scent, she was pathetic pining after Fred when he obviously didn't see anything more in her than her brain and his little brother's friend. Suddenly the pastry didn't hold nearly the temptation it had before she had seen him and Hermoine could only stare at it sadly as she placed it in the fridge after returning to her flat.
"Well I'm sure I'll be back for you after tonight." She closed the door and told herself she wouldn't try too hard tonight but the voice in the back of her head snorted in disagreement.
Half an hour later Hermoine found herself in front of the mirror somewhere between anger and tears, tearing off another shirt and throwing it into the pile, along with almost everything else she had. As she turned away the mirror piped up, "You should wear the red one dearest, he won't be able to resist it."
Hermoine forced the angry words down and reached for the red shirt. The mirror might not know how Fred really saw her but she still held onto that little glimmer of hope that it might be right. She put on the jeans that normally sat at the back of her closet, the ones she knew hugged her curves tightly and resisted the overwhelming urge to take them off and put on a more baggy pair. She was never one to dress provocatively and although she knew the jeans hardly qualified as such she still couldn't feel comfortable in them.
She took a deep breath and nodded, if this is what it took to get Fred to notice her she'd show up on their doorstep wearing nothing but a smile.
Hermoine pushed nervously on the door, the familiar chimes sounding did nothing for her nerves. George's voice sounded from somewhere up above, "Sorry, but we're closed for the day."
Hermoine clucked and called out loudly, "Even to your very favorite witch?" No sooner had she finished when George bounded down the stairs and whipped her around in a dizzying hug. She laughed heartily, some of her nervousness washing away with his enthusiastic greeting. He tugged on her hand,
"We're trying to finish up everything before we get started, you can go ahead and wait up here for a few minutes, I promise it won't be any longer."
He shut the door on Hermoine and she couldn't help but gulp. She had been in their apartment before, many times, but all of those were before she realized just why her stomach did flip-flops every time she saw Fred. As she took a breath to steady her nerves she caught his delicious scent. The green grass mixed wonderfully with an old dusty smell she attributed to their workshop, hardly ever cleaned, and then there was the slightest difference. The first way she noticed the twins apart, although she would be mortified to tell them, they had the slightest difference in smells. George smelled of chocolate frogs while Fred smelled deliciously of her favorite flavor of Bertie Botts, cinnamon.
She remembered when she first noticed the difference, just days before they had left Hogwarts in a massive bang of fireworks and much needed justice on the old hag Umbridge. Hermoine sighed as the memory came back to her, she had been wrapped in a massive hug between the two, one of their many flirtatious moments that she had simply ignored back then. Her stomach fluttered in response to Fred's cinnamon scent, and she shut off her brain, thinking of Ron and his familiarity. When she really thought back to it, a lot of her and Ron's relationship was based on what she thought she should want, what everyone told her she should want. Well bollocks on them for thinking it would turn out well, she clenched her fists in blatant frustration.
"Well now Granger, if you didn't want to help you could've said so."
Hermoine's heart lept into her throat at the sound of Fred's voice behind her. Suddenly everything seemed too much for her, the tears streaking down her face before she even realized she was upset. A gut wrenching sob tore from her throat and briefly the thought flitted across her consciousness that she should be embarrassed crying in front of Fred this way.
She felt when his arms were around her, seemingly unsure of just how to comfort her. Letting everything go she nestled her head against his chest and let another sob escape her lips. Suddenly Fred was running his hands through her hair, pressing kisses to the top of her head as she cried into his shirt. She became aware of his soothing voice whispering soft things to her.
"Shh Hermoine, everything will be ok."
Her tears soaked through his shirt quickly and as she heard the apartment door she knew she should stop crying but her body wouldn't listen. She felt a presence behind her, and knew it must be George. Neither he nor Fred said a word but she knew that Fred had conveyed everything to his twin in a simple look and that George wouldn't be back for a while. She heard the door shut again behind them and she couldn't help but sob again into Fred's chest.
She became aware that Fred had lifted her into his arms and carried her onto their comfortable couch. The voice in the back of her head told her she was making a fool of herself but all she could do was continue to cry into him. He whispered comforting things to her, most of which her brain couldn't seem to understand. She caught him call to her quite a few times and found herself wondering at his use of her first name.
"I'm here Hermoine." She shuddered at the way her name sounded crossing his beautiful lips, but couldn't stop the fat tears from rolling down her cheeks. Her eyes felt raw, and she was sure her face was blotchy and red from the crying but still she cried into him, letting go of everything she had been holding onto. Names and faces sprinted across her vision, people they had lost during the war. Her own brutal torture came back full force.
But nothing, nothing could match the complete despair she felt at seeing Fred laying beneath that rubble. The sorrow she felt, hiding in the back of her mind pushed forward and she did the only thing she could, she pressed her lips against Fred's in a mixture of pain and desire, both so strong she could barely stand it.
At first he didn't respond and Hermoine felt she might die from mortification. Just as she was about to pull back however Fred did the most amazing thing, he pressed back against her lips with a desperation that Hermoine thought she herself alone carried. One of his calloused hands ran along her neck, his thumb settling on her cheek, rubbing mind-numbing circles along her jaw. His lips crushed against hers and she whimpered, begging him not to stop. Suddenly she was pressed against the couch cushions, Fred's body pinning her down as he ravished her mouth, building a desire she had never felt before. His tongue swept across her lips, begging for entry and she gladly gave it. She moaned loudly as their tongues met, tentatively at first, growing more needy as they laid there entangled on the couch. She felt his hand slide down to her waist and then slip under her shirt. The breathy moan that left her surprised her, but then his hand brushed across her stomach and she stopped thinking. Suddenly he pulled back and she whimpered, he pressed one more searing kiss into her, "We need to stop Hermoine." She reluctantly nodded and allowed him to pull her into a sitting position.
She heard Fred panting next to her but couldn't bear to look over at him. She bit her lip, the nervousness doing awful things to her stomach. When she finally couldn't stand it anymore Hermoine forced herself to turn and look at Fred. The look on his face made her heart plummet into her stomach, and she rose with a mumbled apology before starting to the door. Fred reached her as she closed her hand around the door knob. Hermoine let herself be pulled back into his arms and as he pressed kisses into her hair she sighed against him.
"I'm sorry Hermoine, I didn't mean for you to think I didn't enjoy it," He smirked at her and she couldn't help smiling back, "I'm just worried about what has gotten you so upset."
Hermoine sighed as she sat back down on the couch, "I'm always out of sorts this time of year." Fred nodded softly as he sat down next to her. "I think everyone is." He ran his hand over her arm and threaded his fingers through hers, "but what happened today that caused this?"
Hermoine let herself think about the anniversary, the one no one else remembered, the one she forced herself to ignore every year for the past 4 years. She sighed, shuddered against him as the horrible memory resurfaced in her mind and suddenly everything was spilling out of her mouth.
"Voldemort was finally gone and everyone was picking up the pieces. We had funerals for everyone we lost, and most everyone was trying to get on with their lives." Fred nodded although she knew he had no idea what it was like. "But I c-couldn't allow myself to leave St Mungos." Fred's eyes widened a bit, and she rushed to continue, "We had been sitting at your bedside for months, and everyone else been forced to go on living, your dad had to clean up the ministry, Bill and Charlie spent months tracking down remaining death eaters, and your mum found her house filled with order members and others all needing to be fed."
Hermoine smiled slightly at the thought of the chaos. "But me, war hero that I was, no one wanted me to lift a finger," she laughed in a rare case of self-loathing. Fred's hand tightened around hers, "Even Harry and Ron had started to come less and less, caught up with Ginny and Lavender. George and I were the only ones to come daily, and slowly the time passed until today, 4 years ago."
She felt tears well up in her eyes again and suddenly she felt as though no time had passed, and she was still sitting next to Fred as they told her he wouldn't survive. She buried her head against his chest and clutched at his shirt, "The healers came in and instantly I knew what they were going to tell me. George apparated out before they had even opened their mouths and they gave me an apologetic glance as they took away our last hope of you ever waking up." She took a shuddering gasp of air, "They later found George at the Leaky Cauldron, consuming so much firewhiskey he could barely stand." She could feel her fingers aching from gripping his shirt tightly but she didn't dare let go, afraid he would slip away from her.
"But I couldn't leave, and slowly everyone started looking at me with pity in their eyes. I read to you constantly, and I just couldn't believe that you were laying there, looking so peaceful, and yet everyone told me you wouldn't ever wake up."
She let herself feel the heat from his body, trying to remember that he was here, that he had, after everything, woken up. "Two days later Molly came in and I knew they were talking about me, but I couldn't look away from you. A few minutes later everyone had left and I...I...found myself standing over you, leaning down and before I knew what I was doing I pressed my lips against yours. I don't think I really understood what I was doing at the time, but it was just an overwhelming urge to kiss you, even if you were in a coma." Fred's arms tightened around her as she sucked in another ragged breath, "And then a week later you were awake, smiling like nothing had ever happened. You and George planned pranks, and the whole family was constantly near you whenever they could be, but I wasn't the same. I had fallen in love with you without realizing it and now you were out of my reach."
Fred ran a hand through her hair, "Oh Hermoine, I had no idea."
She shook her head, "I know you didn't, I didn't let you. I was so afraid of losing you again that I just let myself step back into being your friend, the bossy little swot you remembered me as. No one mentioned the time I spent at your bedside although I'm sure your mum at least understood what it meant."
Hermoine was lost in her own thoughts until she heard him speak. "I remember you reading to me, although I thought it was just a coma induced dream."
He laughed, and Hermoine thought for one horrible second that he was laughing at her confession. She felt herself tense and he rubbed a hand along her back, "I guess George and I can stop trying to make stupid products that we need your help with."
Hermoine couldn't seem to work out what he meant, her brain too addled to put the words together into something she understood. Instead of answering she simply stared at him confused. Fred ran his hand along her neck and she couldn't help but shiver, "I only did it to get you over here."
Hermoine was floored, and her mouth had trouble forming words, "H-how?Why?" He gave her his most brilliant smile, the one that always had her heart pounding and her knees weak.
"Because you are the most beautiful witch I have ever laid eyes on. You're caring, and intelligent, and damn sexy when you're angry at me." Fred laughed as she blushed a brilliant red, "Hermoine I couldn't imagine my life without you." She launched herself at Fred and knocked him back on the couch.
He laughed, whole-heartedly, as she tucked herself against his chest. She sighed against him, and he ran his hand along her back, "I know it's tough Hermoine, but you need to let it go, I woke up and am here now with you." Pulling back just a little, Hermoine put on her best annoyed face, "Don't you ever try and leave me again Fred Weasley."
He laughed again and kissed her softly on the lips, "Wouldn't dream of it, my dear."