Frederick Gideon Weasley was very fond of living.
In fact, the wizard prided himself in being the life of whatever party he attended. From juggling butterbeer bottles to making people turn into birds with advanced magic; it was never boring whenever he or his brother George decided to make an appearance.
But as with anything, there was an exception.
Fred wasn't really sure why she scowled at his jokes. He found them hilarious and it seemed most of their fellow Gryffindor's did as well. Even here, at grim Grimmauld Place, the twins managed to squeeze a couple of laughs out of the Order Members who visited. And although Sirius was feeling down being confined in his horrible childhood home, he too couldn't quite bring himself to suppress his smiles.
But Hermione Granger was determined to show her disapproval at Fred's, what she called, 'juvenile' humour.
Fred knew she disapproved. And she knew he knew. And all he could do at the moment was hope to Merlin, Circe and Morgana that she remembered that fact. That she remembered he would never have done this on purpose.
After all, Fred liked living.
Hermione stood in shock, eyes wide and body rigid, just staring at him. He was afraid of making any sudden movement, because he knew as soon as he did, the witch would snap out of it and have her wand out ready to hex him, underage magic be damned.
So he kept his eyes still on her.
It was difficult not to stray from her face. His peripheral vision spotted her purple brassiere and he felt he should get an award from restraining himself against sneaking a better peek. Although, he supposed, living through this would be reward enough.
After a few seconds of intense staring Hermione clutched her hands up to cover her half naked upper body. Her whole face was red, and Fred could feel his own neck starting to burn.
"Er...Hello," he said.
Fred could tell he was royally pissing her off. The Gryffindor witch was looking like she couldn't believe that he wasn't bowing his nose to the ground right now, begging for forgiveness.
She took a deep breath.
"Explain," she said, using every last bit of restraint she possessed.
Fred thanked all the wizards, house-elves and muggle gods he could think of. "I was in my room," he began, "when George and I got the idea that we should perfect our Apparition by just Apparating everywhere. We were on our way through all the rooms we'd seen in the house, when Mum began yelling at us to use the stairs like normal people. I lost my concentration when she threw a shoe at us in the library and..."
He spotted her glancing at his feet where an old boot was lying. Another wave of relief coursed through his body. She seemed to believe him.
"And then I ended up here," he finished.
Hermione took a moment to think his story over.
Worried she might change her mind, Fred began apologizing. "Honestly, Granger, I'm sorry. I hope you realize that I didn't do this on purpose."
She looked him in the eye then, an eyebrow pulled upwards. "You're many things, Fred, but I've never pegged you as suicidal."
Hermione scowled. "Don't think you're pardoned yet, as soon as I reach my wand in my jumper pocket I'll still hex you senseless."
As she said this, she seemed to have realized she was still wearing nothing but muggle jeans and a brassiere. She turned scarlet again.
"And what are you still doing here! Get out, Fred!"
Fred was more than happy to oblige; her hair had begun sparking with magic, a warning sign everyone knew to look out for.
But being who he was, he just couldn't help himself when he gave her a wink and said;"Purple lace looks good on you, Granger."
And with a loud pop, he was back in his room.
George raised his eyebrows and Fred waved him off. Then he laughed when he heard an earth shattering growl from another room a few doors away.
"Do I even want to know?" his twin asked.
"I think you'll find out soon enough."
But Hermione was nowhere to be seen until dinner. This unsettled Fred more than if she'd shouted at him in front of everyone. And he had just realized how terrifying his mother would be if she heard about his accidental Apparition. Not to mention how furious Ron would be.
Somethings not right, he thought.
He was trying to get engaged in his and George's conversation with Sirius about his Marauder days. It had been a happiness indescribable to find their childhood hero in such close proximity. Sirius was more than happy to share his adventures with the twins. Only Molly's glare would silence him at the stories of a more improper nature; the things not meant for the ears of Ginny, or sometimes even Ron.
Fred and George couldn't care less. They ate all of it up like it was a neverending buffet of Honeydukes' best sweets.
Today, however, Fred found himself less enthused. His focus lingered on the doorway, where he expected a head of bushy hair to enter any moment now.
"So it was probably the fifth proposal, Mary McDonald was already threatening to hex us all if we tried to hide more surprises for Harry's mother in their dormitory, along with Lily herself of course, you should have seen her with a wand-"
Fred drifted in and out of Sirius' story, wondering what Hermione could have in store for him. There was no doubt in his mind that she was plotting her revenge.
"-and then James, Harry's dad, convinced all the house-elves to stand outside Gryffindor tower to spell out 'LILY'. Harry's mum had a right fit over that."
George laughed. "How on earth did he manage to convince the house-elves to do that?"
"Well, they don't have much choice being slaves, do they?" a voice snorted.
Fred choked on his water. He had only turned for a second and now there she was.
George looked at his twin, puzzled, as he helped pat his back.
Sirius rolled his eyes. "Not this again, Hermione. You know the Hogwarts elves are being treated right."
"Still enslavement," Hermione said, making her way around the table to where Sirius sat. She didn't grant Fred as much as a glance.
"Oh, come off it," Sirius chuckled.
Hermione didn't answer but held her hands out, which only made the grown wizard sigh.
"But we're cuddling," he said with a tiny pout, not reserved for men of his age.
Hermione seemed to think along those lines as well for she was pursing her lips together. "Give him here."
Sirius reluctantly handed her Crookshanks, but only after declaring his neverending love for the furry creature.
"Blimey, just get joined custody or something," came Ron's voice. He was making a face, not quite understanding what made the orange cat so special.
"Never in a million years will I share Crooks," said Hermione.
"Maybe we should let him decide?" said Sirius, inching closer, his hands grabbing air as if to beckon Crookshanks to him.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "If I wave stick at your snout, will you go away?"
Sirius barked a laugh, proving her point further. Ron and George joined in, but Fred felt strange. Hermione was acting normal, yet unnormal.
Brilliant, he thought to himself. Clever with words. No wonder she hasn't paid you any attention.
Dinner proceeded in a similar fashion. Hermione would talk to everyone else but Fred, and when he himself joked, she would avert her gaze, fixing her attention on the food on her plate.
Never to be one ignored, unseen or unheard, Fred resorted to the most childish thing he could have done and aimed a spoon of mashed potatoes at her.
The gravy flew everywhere.
"What the blo-I mean, Merlin, Fred!"
Hermione finally looked at him, angry and embarrassed. But mostly confused.
The rest of the table was shifting their eyes from the witch to Fred.
Hermione growled and started out of the room."No, it's fine , I've got it," she said before heading upstairs.
It was silent as the entire kitchen stared at him. His mother looked livid.
"Fred Gideon, I'm ashamed! What in Merlin's name was that-"
Fred rose from his seat, and interrupted what was sure to be a lengthy yelling. "I'll go apologize."
He could feel his mother's stare burn holes in his neck as he left the room.
He was about to Apparate again, but quickly decided that the use of stairs would be preferred by the person he was yet again about to apologize to.
"Hermione?" he said and knocked.
There wasn't an answer.
"Look, I'm sorry. Please open."
Still no answer.
"Fine, if you're going to be immature about it..." said Fred. He knew he was being a hypocrite, calling her immature, but today the witch seemed to be a human version of itching powder.
He'd made it a few doors down when he heard something in the bathroom. The door was slightly ajar, so he dared to inch his head through the gap.
"Hermione, are you in here- Blimey!"
There was shout, which echoed against the tiled walls.
"GET OUT, YOU BLOODY BASTARD!"
A stinging jinx hit him square in the forehead. The impact made him stumble out into the hallway.
Fred rubbed his head. "Blimey, learn to lock the door if you're so bloody concerned!"
"We both know locked doors don't work against you anyway, pervert!" came her shout from the other side of the now closed door.
There was a chuckle to Fred's left.
George was biting his fist to stop laughing.
Fred shot his twin a dark look.
Fred was going through all of the drawers. He checked and double checked his nightstand, but it was clear he wasn't going to find his clothes nor wand. Someone had taken them. And Fred was sure he knew who.
"That little- GRANGER!"
With the towel clutched tightly around his waist, Fred stomped around looking for the evil, bushy haired witch.
He found her in less than two minutes, hiding in the library, or rather, not hiding but lounging comfortably in one of the armchairs.
At his stomping she looked up from her book, a carefree eyebrow raised. "Yes? May I help you?"
"Are you kidding? Where did you put my wand, you barmy witch," said Fred.
"I'd be careful with the insults if I were you," she answered coolly, and Fred noticed she was twirling her wand in her right hand.
He towered a few good feet over her petite, sitting figure, but even so, at that moment, it was he who seemed the smaller one of the two.
"Twice now, you've seen me undress, without my permission," she continued. "I felt it only right for you to feel exposed as well."
Fred managed a grin. "You sure it's not because you wanted an excuse to see me naked, Granger?"
To his surprise, the comment didn't make her blush or falter. Instead Hermione stopped her cool expression, and let her eyes slowly graze over his body. If it had been anyone else, Fred would have sworn she was ogling him.
Feeling slightly self conscious at the sudden attention (though a part of him had to admit it wasn't entirely unwanted, just unusual coming from her), the Weasley twin crossed his arms over his chest. When he met Hermione's gaze he saw her smiling triumphantly.
"Here's your wand back," she said and extended her left arm while a giggle escaped her lips.
"Cheeky witch," said Fred, grinning. He reached for his dogwood wand, and in doing so, lost hold of his towel, which now slid down his legs onto the floor.
Hermione dropped the wand, looking as if someone had stupified her.
"ARE YOU- ARE YOU KIDDING ME, FREDERICK?"
"OH PLEASE THIS IS WHAT YOU WERE AFTER ALL ALONG,WASN'T IT?"
"Why's everyone yelling- BLOODY HELL, FRED! WHY IS THERE A TATTOO OF A PYGMYPUFF ON YOUR ARSE?"