Accidentally a Date
Written for Twin Exchange Monthly Challenge: February
Quote: "Did he really say that about me?"
Theme: Valentines Day
Hermione sprinkled some floo power into the large chimney at the back of her office and quickly stuck her head into the violent green flame. She mouthed the address of her small flat and shut her eyes as her head whizzed off, only reopening them when the sensation slowed and she could smell the warm fragrance of dinner wafting from the kitchen a few feet away.
The red-headed man peaked around the corner of the stove when he heard his name called, eyebrows raised at the disembodied head of his roommate.
"I take it by the fact that only part of you is here, you're going to be late back."
"Yes, but not too badly, I'll still be here in time for dinner."
"You better be!" Fred yelled, already retreating towards the kitchen as to not hold her up. The shorter the conversation, the sooner she would get off work.
Hermione stayed late at the office so frequently, Fred didn't even know what time she was supposed to end her day. However, today was special. It marked one month since Fred had shown up on her door, soaked to the bone and requesting to live in the spare bedroom of her flat.
"Fred?" Hermione had asked as she opened the door, surprised that someone was knocking at this time and in this weather.
"Why yes it is! I see why they call you the smart one," Fred replied, winking.
"What on earth are you doing here? Come in," she said rapidly, opening the door wider to allow him inside and gesturing, "You can't stay outside in this weather, it's pouring!"
Fred stepped over the threshold, shedding his jacket and hanging it on a hook before observing his surroundings. Through a small walkway he could see the living-room with plush cream carpet and oak furniture. As he continued further into the small space, he noticed a grouping of soft suede chairs and a sofa surrounding a coffee table littered with books.
"This is nice," he commented, "very quaint."
"Thanks," Hermione replied wearily, walking around him and sitting down, motioning for him to do the same.
He sat in a chair opposite her, and resisted the urge to prop his feet on the coffee table. He once again looked up at Hermione, smiling, but made no move to begin a conversation. The silence dragged on, but Fred just stared deftly ahead, his grin never faltering once. Finally Hermione chuckled and broke the silence by asking, "Really Fred, why are you here?"
"I need a place to live and I know that you have an unoccupied room. I was wondering if you would do me the honor of becoming my flatmate."
Hermione raised her eyebrows in surprise, smiling before giving a small laugh. "What?"
"I want to move in. I'll obviously pay for my share of the rent and whatnot-"
"What happened to you and George?"
"He's going abroad for awhile. Wants to explore the world and such. So, since our little store is looking to expand internationally, we figured it would be a great time for him to go make some business deals while I keep an eye on the home-front."
"And your current flat..." Hermione trailed off, allowing Fred to immediately pick up.
"One, it's boring to live alone, and two, it's been taken over as a sort of storage space for the store. Our stock expanded but, well, the store room didn't."
Hermione nodded, overwhelmed by the proposal. It certainly hadn't been what she was expecting, especially since she never would have considered herself friends with either of the Weasley twins. Sure, she thought that their actions towards the end of their Hogwarts years were admirable, and she enjoyed the lighthearted company they provided Gryffindor with, but she had never thought to miss their presence while separated. And while she had a great amount of respect for them, she remembered the experimental noises that would emanate from their room during summers at the Burrow. Plus-
"I'm your first choice of roommate?"
Fred replied with a simple, "yep," despite the incredulity in her voice, but Hermione inclined her head in a gesture to continue and for the first time, Fred entertained the thought that she might say no.
"Look, I can't move in with Ginny, she'd never allow it, plus living with a couple is a definite no. Ron, Dean and Seamus have their own bro thing going on with their apartment (I wouldn't want to intrude on that) and besides, living with Ron would be hell anyway. Percy and Lee Jordan both fall under the couple rule with their respective wives and my other two brothers are out of the country."
"And let me guess, moving in with your parents is the last thing on your list."
"It's actually the next thing on my list, after you. I'm just hoping it won't get to there." Fred paused. "I'm hoping you'll say yes."
And so, three weeks later, Fred suddenly exclaimed that they absolutely must celebrate at the month mark them not only successfully living together without tearing each other's throats out, but the development of a surprisingly amiable friendship.
Hermione laughed at this statement and asked what he had in mind.
"I'll cook up a fancy dinner for us."
"I'd like to see that..."
Fred ignored her and continued on, "and we'll get dressed up, because that's always fun. We can set the table all fancy-like, make it a big ordeal... but small at the same time, just us roomies-"
"Okay, okay," Hermione interrupted before he got too carried away, "what are you expecting from me?"
Fred grinned. "Just show up."
Hermione took a deep breath before focusing back on her work. She was tired and wanted to finish quickly so that she could go home and relax. Plus she didn't want to keep Fred waiting. He seemed to be genuinely excited about the night he planned and the mouth-watering smell of his cooking from the quick floo-visit was lingering in her mind.
She tapped the clock perched on the corner of her desk with her wand, setting an alarm to go off in twenty minutes to let her know when she really must head out. But when the loud ring echoed off the walls, she had barely completed anything. Despite the unfinished report on her desk, she stood up and floo-ed home, skirting past the kitchen into her room so she could get changed.
Meanwhile Fred was putting the finishing touches on dinner. His mother had taught him a thing or two about garnishing a dish, and even though his inexperienced hands couldn't set a plate as neatly as Mrs. Weasley, it was passable extravagance (and he doubted Hermione would mind anyway). The table was nearly set. He had heard Hermione come home earlier and turned towards her room to shout, "Do you think candlelight makes this too romantic?"
"Are you trying to woo me?" she shouted back.
"Then no," she replied in a softer voice as she entered the dining area, taking in her surroundings and adjusting a dangling earring she had just put in.
The food had been served on their best silverware, set out on a white tablecloth. Even the napkins had been folded into fanciful triangles that stood on their own. In the center two new crimson candles stood tall. Hermione took out her wand to light them, and when Fred came back from the kitchen he put out the rest of the lights with a flick of his wrist.
"You look fantastic," he said, eyeing the tea-length dress robe she had adorned.
"You do too, and so does the rest of this. I guess you really did go all out." She took a seat at the table as Fred brought in the bottle of red wine they had opened yesterday, pouring her a glass. "Thank you," she nodded. Smiling up at him, she asked, "Are you sure you're not just test-running this for Valentines day?"
"Not at all," he laughed, also taking his seat, starting to dish the meal onto his plate and indicating that Hermione should do the same. "I'm taking Valerie to that little restaurant on Main Street that opened up a couple months ago."
Hermione let out a low whistle. "You're really out to impress."
"Would you expect anything else from me?"
"I suppose not."
The rest of the conversation flowed normally, simply bantering about their everyday lives. Fred inquired both about the weird intern that had been dropping hints to Hermione at work, and the promotion she had lined up for someone. She had been trying to convince the administration to move a woman named Mira into management, but it had been an uphill battle. Fortunately her company had recently partnered with a corporation that gave them a steep discount on some basic supplies, meaning money for a new salary had become available, making the promotion a real possibility.
Fred was happy, knowing how hard Hermione has been pushing for this. "You know we should have her 'round for dinner at some-point."
"Yeah. Isn't that what you business folk do, have dinners and the like? You've talked about her so much and I don't have a face to match the stories."
"Fred, you have a girlfriend," Hermione jested.
Fred rolled his eyes. "Valerie isn't my girlfriend yet, and I'm not trying to get with Mira, I just want to meet her."
"Uh huh, I'll see what I can do. It would be fun to have her around. I actually think you two would get along really well."
"Speaking of having people over, guess who's coming back later this week?"
"George," Fred said, not bothering to hide the huge grin on his face.
"No way, that's fantastic!" Hermione exclaimed, "he wasn't due back for another week after this though, wasn't he?"
"Yes, but he managed to meet with everyone he had to for our store, so the business is all wrapped up. He said that there was only so much French society one could handle before really losing it, so he's decided to cut the trip short. He'll be back Friday morning."
"Aw, too bad you'll be out for the evening."
"I'm sure George can entertain himself for one night. Maybe you and him could throw a 'forever single' party in honor of Valentines Day."
"Gee, thanks," Hermione said sarcastically, putting the last forkful of food into her mouth before letting the utensil clatter to the empty plate.
Fred sent the dishes to the sink with a wave of his wand. "Don't worry, at least you're single by choice."
He walked into the living room and plopped into a large armchair, throwing his legs over the side and picking up a basket full of knitting supplies that had been on the ground. Knitting was the hobby Fred picked up once Hermione laid the ground rule 'no experimentation in the apartment'. He wasn't great, but it passed the time and he enjoyed the challenge various patterns allowed him. He thought he might surprise his mother this Christmas with a handmade Weasley sweater of her own.
Hermione scoffed. "I doubt George would have trouble finding a date if he looked for one."
"He never had as much luck with the ladies as me," Fred joked and with a solemn expression added, "people rarely do."
"Oh shut it, you." She paused before adding, "You know he could always crash here for a night or two, since he's coming back early."
"You don't have to do that," Fred chuckled, "I'm sure my brother can find a place somewhere."
"I honestly don't mind."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course." She yawned and slipped out of her shoes, beginning to walk back to her room. "I think I'm going to turn in for the night."
"It's so early," Fred complained.
"And I'm so exhausted."
Hermione gave a small laugh before wishing Fred a goodnight and disappearing in favor of her bed.
Today she was ecstatic, practically running out of the chimney after floo-ing home and rushing into her room to change out of work clothes.
"Fred, guess what," Hermione yelled, opting for the Muggle comfort of loose sweatpants and a small t-shirt to lounge in.
Once finished changing, she walked back out with an elastic in hand, pulling her hair back into a high ponytail to keep the frizzy mess from her face, still full of energy from the good news she had received earlier. Seeing the mop of red hair on the sofa prompted her to dash forward while explaining that, "the new position got approved and so did Mira for it! I get to call her on Monday and- oh!"
In her fervor Hermione had slid next to her roommate, grasping his hands in excitement. However, looking up at his face she was surprised to find that it wasn't her roommate at all but,
She smiled and pulled the man into a hug, thoroughly surprising him. He laughed, and quickly returned the gesture.
"I didn't expect you to recognize me that quickly!" George exclaimed as they drew back.
"I'm surprised it took me that long! I completely forgot that you were coming today. This week has gone by so quickly."
"It sounds like it. Apparently there's some good news from work?"
Hermione shook her head, standing up and heading into the kitchen for a drink, "it doesn't matter much, but yes, definitely good news." She poured herself a glass of iced tea and turned to George to ask if he wanted some as well.
Returning to the living room, she handed George his cup and sat on the sofa, her back resting against the arm and legs pulled against her chest. George mirrored her, but extended one leg, the other dangling over the side as he took a long drink.
"So, how was your trip? A month is a long time to be gone."
"It was amazing," he responded, setting the tea on the coffee table and settling further into the couch, launching into some stories about his travels.
They stayed like that for an hour, swapping stories and laughing until Fred walked through the front door, partially masked by the bouquet of roses Hermione assumed he had just picked up from a florist.
"Looks like someone's pulling out all the stops," George commented with an arched eyebrow as Fred set a large box of chocolates next to the flowers he had set on the dining room table.
"She must be really special so warrant roses and chocolates," Hermione teased as Fred shut himself in his room to change.
"How long have they been dating each other?" George asked. Fred had mentioned Valerie a couple times in his letters, but it had never sounded like something more than a flirtatious friendship.
"Oh, she's stayed over a couple times, but I'm pretty sure this is the first actual date they've gone on."
"Ah," George said in understanding, a little miffed that he hadn't been told about her sooner.
Hermione prodded his leg with her foot, "try not to tease him too much? He wouldn't admit to actually fancying her until recently. I think he's just scared of rejection."
George wrinkled his forehead, "that doesn't sound like Fred."
"I know, that's why I think he's got it pretty bad. So don't go messing it up."
"I'd never-" he began, but stopped at a pointed look from Hermione. They both grinned and simultaneously began to laugh.
"What's so funny?" Fred asked, walking back into the room and buttoning a cuff on his robe.
"Wow," George said, elongating the word into an exaggerated exclamation and avoiding his twin's question, "I don't think I've ever seen you this nice looking."
Hermione laughed, turning her head to examine her flatmate's dress. "You're even more fancy than when we had our dinner this week! I'm feeling a little jealous, Fred."
"Sorry love, you're just not important enough for me to impress," Fred responded, drawing another laugh from Hermione. "What are you two singlets up to tonight while I woo the lady of my dreams?"
"No plans, just gonna stay in and read a book before nodding off at some point," George replied, looking towards Hermione for her response.
Hermione sighed as her mind whizzed through the various options. "Um, I think I'm going to call in some Chinese takeout. I don't feel like cooking tonight or changing into something appropriate for leaving the house."
"If you're up for Thai food, I know a great place that delivers," George said.
"You two have fun with that," Fred said, walking towards the front door and opening it, "I'm going to go on my date."
"Don't forget your presents," Hermione reminded him, levitating the gifts towards the outside allowing Fred to catch them.
The door slammed behind Fred, and George turned back to Hermione.
"When should we order food? Are you wanting to wait a bit?"
"Absolutely not, I feel like I'm starving as we speak."
George smiled, "good, me too," relief evident in his voice.
He got up and walked over to his bags, rummaging through one until he produced a menu (a little worse for wear) and a pen, taking them back to Hermione.
"Just look through it and circle what you want. I always get the same thing so I don't need it."
Hermione laughed, "how often do you order from them?"
"Well, I haven't for a month so this is a real treat! But I Fred and I used to order in almost every Monday."
"Monday? Seems a bit random, doesn't it?"
"It's the worst day of the week. Plus we would be exhausted. The whole day is catching up on all the administrative things that we let slide during the weekend rush that always happens."
"I guess that makes sense," she replied, thoughtfully circling a couple menu items. "I'm finished if you want to mark yours."
"Absolutely," he grinned while taking the pen from her hands, allowing his fingers to brush over hers for slightly longer than necessary, but quickly sliding the menu in front of him and marking his choices.
Hermione leaned back on the sofa. "I guess I momentarily forgot that you and Fred used to live together."
"Yeah," she chuckled, "used to, goodness it wasn't even that long ago. His company here has actually been really great. I feel like we've been living together for forever."
"Who would have thought?"
"Not me!" Hermione laughed as George pointed his wand at the menu, murmuring "ineo ordine," placing their order, their marks slowly fading from the paper.
"I was so surprised when he asked me," she continued, "I mean, I'm surprised he even remembered to think of me as an option."
"We did have you over at the Burrow nearly every summer. He probably had a good idea of the type of roommate you'd make."
"That's true." She tilted her head in acknowledgement having not thought of that point before. "I suppose you two will want to move back in now that you've returned?"
George shrugged. "Maybe eventually, but certainly not right away. I kind of have a possible business thing going on in Hungary that I'm hoping to solidify. I haven't talked to Fred about it, but I think he'll be on board. Anyway, it'll require a bit of traveling back and forth so there would be no point in getting a new place with Fred in that type of situation."
"So, what will you do?"
"I don't know, probably find a small, cheap place to stay. Maybe even rent out a room somewhere?"
"Well, you're always welcome here. I doubt Fred would mind."
She rested her head against the arm of the couch and laid down, stretching out, her legs curled just enough to allow George space on the other end.
"Yes, I'd love to spend my time in the country sleeping on a sofa," he said sarcastically.
"We're going to transfigure it into a bed for you, really. We're not savages here."
George laughed. "I didn't even think of that."
Hermione responded with a smug smile, "that's why I'm the smart one." There was a moment of silence before she asked, "what's the potential business deal?"
"The reason you might be traveling back and forth."
"Oh that." George finally relaxed back into the armrest, looking back to her. "It's a bit complicated to explain, but, oh!" he exclaimed, suddenly remembering, "you're muggle-born so it'll be easier."
This piqued her curiosity, and she was just a bit more attentive.
"You know televisions?"
"Of course, right. So, basically this guy from Abasár, tiny town and all, has invented a magical-version. He took it to the capital, made some connections, and now it's caught on pretty much throughout the country."
"Same concept as the muggle ones?"
"Yeah, they have their own shows and everything. I mean, if you think about it, there was never a chance for the muggle television to catch on in the wizarding world. Half the time they don't work because of the incompatibility between magic and electricity, and even in an area where they do work, all they would broadcast is muggle shows, and let me tell you, those don't make a lick of sense to the average wizard."
"I never thought of it that way," Hermione mused.
"And they say you're the smart one."
"Hey!" she laughed, playfully kicking his leg. "So basically you want to bring a magic television and market it in the UK?"
"That's ambitious for a joke-shop."
"Yeah, well, that's why I need to talk to Fred about it. Ideally what I'm thinking is that we make Wizard Wheezes a parent company of, whatever we would create to be the television distributor. We would have to hire loads of new people though, and I would probably permanently be managing it, leaving Fred to deal with the joke shop, and I don't know how he'd feel about that. It's a lot of responsibility."
"He's actually enjoyed it quite a lot this past month," she interjected.
"Mhmm. He's missed you quite a bit, and occasionally complains about having to 'do the legwork while my brother ponces around Europe', but he's made some operational changes and has put in some quite interesting work. I honestly wouldn't see him having a problem with you starting a secondary company, especially since you two would still be working really closely with each other."
George smiled, "That's fantastic to hear actually. I kind of got the sense of that from his letters, but it's so difficult to tell over writing."
"Mhmm," Hermione agreed, staring off.
A comfortable silence enveloped them. Hermione stared into space as George looked her over, a smile ghosting his lips when he thought about how easily the conversation had flowed. Of all people to be spending Valentines Day with, he wouldn't have expected it to be his little brother's nerdy friend (although he supposed that Hermione was probably closer to his twin now than Ron). George had admittedly been surprised when Fred first told him he was planning on moving in with her, but was glad that it seemed to be working out for both of them. And he could see why Fred was happy with his decision: Hermione's passion was endearing and contagious as it permeated their discussion. He felt comfortable around her even though this was the longest conversation they've held. He was sure the same was true with Fred.
Hermione shifted slightly and the hem of her shirt rose a centimeter above the elastic of her sweatpants, exposing a sliver of skin. George allowed his mind to wander for a brief moment before shaking the thoughts from his head, looking back to her face to find a puzzled expression adorning it.
"What's on your mind?"
She looked over at him, a blush tinging her cheeks. "Nothing, just my brain running away from me."
"Oh c'mon, tell me," he insisted.
She shook her head. "It's really nothing."
George grabbed a throw-pillow off the armchair next to the sofa, and held it threateningly above his head. "Don't make me..."
"Alright, alright," she laughed, throwing her arms in-front of her face in mock defense. "I was just thinking about your little television company."
She nodded, and when she gave no indication of her continuing, found herself with a face full of the pillow George had thrown.
Hermione tossed it back at him, missing his face by millimeters, but started talking nonetheless.
"I was just thinking about how you're going to market the television idea when there are no shows for it to broadcast." George gave a flourishing hand gesture indicating that she should continue. "I mean you said it yourself, wizards aren't going to watch muggle television shows, but there aren't any wizard-made ones. Why would there be? And they aren't going to begin making them unless the television is popular. It can't get popular unless there are shows, and it's just kind of a cycle that's difficult to break."
"Right," George agreed, "when I was talking to Gyula, the businessman in Hungary, we were talking about the possibility of broadcasting some of their shows over here to give us something to watch as the trend catches on."
"Yes, and that's absolutely a smart idea, probably necessary to it's success, but I'm guessing all of their programming is in Hungarian? And even with subtitles, people would be more interested in something that's more local. So I'm thinking that it would be helpful to have a couple English shows that maybe just air during primetime."
"It's like, five to nine o'clock pm. Basically the time that most people would be available to tune in," Hermione explained, "so if you have a regional show that you were able to air during that time, then more people might be interested, and with more people interested comes more shows, and then the business just grows from there."
"Hmm. I never really thought of that," George said, sitting back and thinking about what Hermione had proposed.
"I mean, you would only really need two investors to put up some shows. Maybe one news program and one entertainment program, and then things can just move on from there. I know some people that have money behind them that would probably be interested in this idea."
"Really?" George asked, excitement creeping into his voice.
"Yeah! I mean, I don't want to overstep my bounds here, and I know you haven't even talked to Fred about it, but this sounds like a totally feasible business plan. And one of the people I know? They're also muggleborn, so they'll know exactly what you're talking about. TV is one of the most popular muggle appliances, and we really don't have anything to replace it magically. I frankly don't see why it wouldn't be extremely popular among witches and wizards."
"You aren't overstepping at all," George reassured her. "In fact this sounds fantastic. I can't believe..." George trailed off, running a hand though his hair before looking back at her, "I mean if you're willing to set this up with whatever connections you have, that's more than I could ever ask for."
Hermione laughed. "Definitely."
Throughout the conversation both of them had gravitated towards each other, knees just touching, their faces dangerously close with huge smiles adorning them. Before either of them could move or speak a knock came from the door.
"That's probably our food," George said, eyes never leaving hers.
They both stayed there for a fraction of a second longer before Hermione stood up. "Let me get my wallet," she said and walked towards her room, but by the time she returned George was standing on the other side of a closed door, holding a bag of their food.
"Don't worry about it, my treat."
He started towards the dining room table, but she just shook her head and suggested eating on the couch. "It's more comfortable, anyway."
"I just figured you wouldn't want to get food on the furniture," he said as he unpacked the food, handing her a box of pad thai and a pair of chopsticks.
"What Fred doesn't know won't hurt him," she said, quirking an eyebrow at George.
"Oh, he's the one with the neatness-complex?"
She nodded her head fervently, mouth already full of food.
"Who would have thought," he mumbled. "How's the food?"
"Delicious," she said, swallowing and letting out a little groan of satisfaction. "If only we had a movie, the night would be perfect."
"Yeah. Do you know what those are?" Hermione asked, forgetting that he might not.
"Kind of, I mean, yes. I saw one when I was in Hungary. It kind of went with the television related business deal. It was really interesting, but that was in a theatre. Can you have them in a house?"
She laughed, "yeah, they show on broadcast TV all the time. Plus, muggles have these things called DVD players... they're hard to explain, and besides there would probably be a better way to do them with magic, but it essentially allows them to watch any movie they own, on the television, whenever they want."
"Mhmm," she responded through another mouthful of food.
He sat back. "Wow, that's really cool."
They ate in silence for awhile when George mentioned that, "I'd like to see a movie again sometime, I've only seen the one."
"They're not exactly rare things. We could even catch one tonight if you really wanted," she suggested halfheartedly, not expecting much to come of it.
She raised her eyebrows. "Okay, you were way to excited about that. You sounded a bit like your father."
George scrunched his face up. "Please don't say that again."
"It was true!"
"Well, just... don't, point it out. Now can we please go to the movies tonight?"
Hermione stared at him before laughing. "You're serious?" He nodded and she sighed. "Yes, we can go."
He laughed and bumped her shoulder. "Awesome."
"Just finish your food."
Hermione had to rummage deep in her closet to extract appropriate muggle clothing. She usually only used the faded jeans and blouse when visiting her parents, or the few primary school friends she had kept touch with, but they couldn't head to the movie theatre in wizard robes. After putting on her last boot, she headed back into the living room in time to watch George pull a white t-shirt into place over his lightly toned muscles. She let a let a slow breath out, and tried to shove the implications of movies on Valentines Day out of her head, rationally recognizing that this was not a date.
But as she reached towards her wallet that was still resting on the table, she was stopped by George saying, "don't you dare. I'm forcing you to go out tonight, I can pick up the tab."
"Only if you're sure," she said wearily.
"I wouldn't have it any other way," he replied, opening the door and allowing her to walk past into the crisp night air.
"Well I'm heading out," Hermione stated, looking at the two brothers in their disheveled states, both having yet to change from their pajamas.
"It's eleven am, are you really all meeting up that early?" Fred asked over the cup of tea he had brewed for himself.
She rolled her eyes. "It's not that early, but yes. I'll tell Ron you say hi," she said as she walked out the door.
"And Harry too!" he shouted back before it closed.
"So, how was your date last night?" George asked his twin, cracking eggs into a pan.
"Amazing," Fred responded, a grin spreading over his face, "you'll have to meet her bro, she's... words can't describe."
George laughed at that. "Apparently."
"What did you get up to last night? When I got home you weren't there and Hermione had gone to bed already."
George's cheeks began to color, and the scrambled eggs he was attempting to make became very interesting as he mumbled out a response to his brother.
"What was that? I didn't catch it?"
"Hermione wasn't asleep. She was on a date with me."
Fred paused with his tea halfway to his mouth. "She was what?" he eventually managed to croak out, a surprised smile impossible to hide on his face.
"At least I think it was a date," he spun around, facing his brother and running a frustrated hand through his already messy hair before crossing his arms and leaning against the counter next to the stove. "I mean, I paid for everything, I tried to make it seem like a date. I don't know if she thought it was a date though. It was on Valentines Day, you think she would assume - would you quit smiling at me like that?"
"I'm sorry," he chucked, still grinning, "but back up a moment. When did you decide to try and date my flatmate?"
"Last night?" he turned around to stir the eggs around once more before dumping them on a plate and sitting beside Fred, shoveling the food into his mouth. "We were just talking, and it felt good, you know? Like we just had a connection, it was easy, felt natural I guess. And then we were talking about movies - a muggle thing," he clarified for his brother, "and I said we should go to one because I wanted to, which was true, but also because I wanted to go with her."
"You fancy her," Fred stated, a smile still on his face.
"I guess I do. It just feels right," George explained, a matching smile creeping onto his.
"I'll make sure to put a good word in with her for you."
George's eyes widened suddenly. "You can't mention anything I just said to her."
"She's my roommate and best friend," Fred stated, absentmindedly picking a stray piece of fuzz off his sleeve, "I think I"m obligated to tell her."
"What about your obligation to me as your twin to keep my secrets?" he asked, punching Fred lightly in his arm.
He grinned, "I'll think about it."
"Seriously, I have no idea how she feels, if she's even close to sharing the same feelings."
"I'll scope it out for you."
"Just," he paused, "don't do anything too stupid." He sighed. "Try to have a little subtlety about it."
"So I hear you went on a date with my brother."
Hermione had barely walked through the door to their flat before Fred had verbally ambushed her from one of the large armchairs. He would have looked more intimidating if he hadn't been swathed in green and blue yarn, knitting needles clicking away. George had headed to the joke shop a couple hours ago to check on it, catch up on some work, and inspect the changes made while he was abroad, leaving Fred peacefully alone and able to talk to Hermione without interruptions.
"So I head you went on a date with my brother," he repeated a little slower and with an unnecessary emphasis on each syllable.
"Er, I don't know if I would consider it a date."
Hermione collapsed onto the sofa and stretched out, looking at her flatmate. She had assumed George would tell him about their Valentines evening, but was surprised that Fred had used the word date to describe their outing - especially when she had spent a good portion of the day convincing herself that it was nothing of the sort. When Harry and Ron had asked about how she had spent her Valentines Day, she has brushed it off saying that she had gotten takeout and watched a movie while Fred was out. She hadn't lied, just omitted that she was accompanied by George.
"It sounds like a date. Do you want it to be a date?"
"Can we stop using the word date?" she pleaded, chucking a ball of yarn that had escaped to her side at his head.
He batted it away. "Hey!"
"Hey yourself!" she laughed, catching the yarn as he tossed it back to her, and setting it down gently. "How was your evening last night? Did she enjoy the dinner?"
"Yes, very much so, but don't try to change the subject."
Hermione groaned. "What do you want me to say about it? We got some food and went out for the night. It's nothing I haven't done before with you or Harry or any other male I'm friends with for that matter."
"So you feel like it was strictly platonic?"
She closed her eyes as memories from the night flooded her mind. She thought about the brief touches that happened: his hand on the small of her back as they turned a corner to their theatre, the fleeting brush of fingers on her knee when something surprising happened, a nudge of the shoulders while laughing. Every moment of contact set her skin on fire, but George had shown no indication that this was different from any other day he might have spent with someone. The last thing Hermione needed was an unrequited crush on the brother of the man she was living with. She would be playing with fire at that point and Hermione was nothing but reasonable, so she looked at the situation objectively, and upon deciding George definitely did not fancy her, pushed her growing feelings to the recesses of her mind.
"That's not what he felt," Fred sing-songed.
Hermione's eyes flew open, and she scooted over to the arm of the couch near Fred, leaning over the side so that she was infringing on his personal space. "Why, did he say something?"
"Oh, I don't know if it's important," he teased, eyes never leaving the pattern he was knitting.
"Fred," she warned, putting a delicate hand on the needles, effectively stilling them.
"I probably shouldn't say anything," he continued, finally looking up at her, "I mean, after all it would probably only embarrass him considering you just want to be friends."
"Fred," she practically growled.
He gave an exaggerated sigh. "He might have mentioned something about wanting it to be a date, and everything seeming right when he was with you. Apparently you have a 'connection'," he air-quoted. Hermione sat in stunned silence, mind going a mile a minute. "I know," Fred continued, "it's horribly sappy. You should probably-"
But Hermione cut him off. "Did he really say that about me?"
Fred laughed and nodded. "Yes."
Hermione sat back on the couch, staring straight ahead into nothing. "What do I do?" she asked, and Fred chuckled before responding.
"I can't help you there."
She looked at him. "Fred, what do I do?"
But at that moment George returned, walking in with a grocery bag in one hand - effectively ending the conversation.
"Hey you two," he greeted. When neither replied he continued talking. "I figured I can pitch in a bit while you let me stay here. I'll cook dinner tonight." He paused looking at his brother covered in yarn. "When did you start knitting?" he asked with a mocking tone, having seen the supplies yesterday, but assuming they were Hermione's.
"Shut up," Fred retorted, untangling himself from the mess. George continued into the kitchen. "Cook dinner for two," Fred yelled to him, "I'm spending another evening out with Valerie."
"Okay!" George called back.
"You are not," Hermione hissed under her breath to Fred. "I know for a fact you don't have any plans with her."
"I do now," he said winking. "Try to make the most of tonight."
She rolled her eyes as he stood up and left, not even bothering to grab anything on his way out. Now alone in the living room, she could hear cabinets opening and closing in the kitchen as George gathered the utensils he needed for dinner. She made her way back to join him, leaning against one of the counters.
"Anything I can help with?" she offered.
"I think I'm good. Did Fred leave already?"
"Yeah," she laughed, "It was pretty abrupt."
"Mmm," was his response, as he continued to busy himself with the preparations.
The air seemed thick around George. He pulled out a knife, cutting table and vegetables, trying to focus on the slow slicing of the carrots and peppers in front of him. He was finding it difficult though, just barley able to see Hermione from the corner of his eye, casually resting against the marble and eyeing his every move. He got clammy and found himself nervous, which was odd. He couldn't remember the last time he felt nervous around someone, not even knowing what to say to break the silence.
"Do you mind if I make myself a cup of tea?" she asked.
"Of course, it's your house."
"I wouldn't want to get in your way," she said, pushing herself up and walking around him to put the kettle on.
She was by the stove, waiting for the water to boil, and out of George's sight, but he could still sense her presence and hear the occasional puff of breath she let out. The silence was still stretching on and he continued to chop away, wishing that Fred hadn't run away so quickly. How was he supposed to know what they had talked about: had he told her what George had confided in him this morning? Did she feel the same? Or was she hoping that George had no intentions beyond the desire to learn more about Muggle film? He cursed Fred for putting him in this situation and set the knife down, turning to his right to grab some more produce from the paper bag.
The whistle of the kettle let Hermione know that the water was ready. Turning to a cabinet for a mug, she instead found herself colliding with George, his large figure almost knocking her over. However instead of falling she felt a strong arm curl around her waist, steadying her even as he tripped forward a smidge, pressing the curves of their bodies together for a fraction of a second and drawing a small intake of breath from Hermione, her eyes darting up to meet the cool blue of George's, faces inches away from each other.
"Sorry about that," he said, voice barely above a whisper, straightening up and beginning to pull away.
But Hermione's hand, which had come to an almost painfully tight grip on his bicep, didn't let go, instead pulling him closer for a chaste kiss, his lips soft and warm and slightly chapped, before whispering, "thanks."
And they stood like that for awhile, both unable to hide their blatant smiles.
"I suppose this dinner counts as our second date then," Hermione said, not making a move to leave the delicate embrace.
George quirked and eyebrow. "Do the movies count as the first?"
"They better," she replied with a grin.
From beta-ing to giving simple encouragement, these people have helped make this fic possible. I would like to give a special thanks to:
Wenda the White Fawn
for their wonderful support, I couldn't have done it without you!
AUTHORS NOTE: Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review this piece! It really ended up running away from me. What started out at a small one-shot for the Twin Exchange monthly challenge (which everyone should check out for the future!), turned into this mini-monstrosity. It was so much fun to write, and has inspired me to get back into Harry Potter fics. So stay tuned for the completion of my currently posted in-progress works!