It was a normal Friday afternoon at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, more commonly referred to as WWW among the patrons in the know. In celebration of the five year anniversary of Voldemort's defeat, and the four year anniversary of Fred finally being released from St. Mungo's, the Weasley Twins had decided to go all out with new fireworks and new product lines, including You-No-Poo, Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow, and their heavily advertised new line of fireworks, The Dinomite, guaranteed to scare your neighbors, awe your friends, and send your children under the bed with a new found phobia of large, extinct reptiles. There was a low, excited buzz among the customers as they browsed the normal items anxiously awaiting the rollout of the new products at 5:00 p.m. The fun and cheerful atmosphere was not to last, however. At precisely 4:30 p.m. the doors of the shop were violently thrown open by a petite, frizzy haired witch who looked mad enough to kill a dragon.
"Fred Weasley! What did you put in my drink last week? " Hermione Granger roared as she barged through the front doors of the store, batting flying objects away and silencing the hatracks insults with a wave of her wand. All activity in the shop ceased as the entire shop turned to look at her. Even the various enchanted toys whizzing through the air slowed as if to watch the growing drama unfold. It certainly wasn't every day that you saw the Brightest Witch of Our Age in the middle of a burgeoning scandal, especially not one involving what Witch Weekly called the 3rd Most Eligible Bachelor in London.
(Fred had begun a year-long letter writing campaign, when he'd found out that Ron had been named Number 2. His various rants about his superiority over the younger Weasley had increased sales of the magazine by 300%, particularly when it began to print the various letters sent in by Lee, George, and Alicia pretending to be young, smitten witches with less than flattering things to say about him. Fred's letter writing campaign had not gone to waste; the next year he was named the 3rd Most Eligible Bachelor of the Year, right after Ron's steady position as the 2nd Most Eligible Bachelor of the Year.)
Riveted to the scene unfolding before them, the entire shop watched as the bushy haired woman marched up to the only Weasley twin on the floor only to lift up the fringe of hair on the left side of his head. Once the man's identity was confirmed, Hermione lifted her wand and growled "George, where has your bastard of a brother gone to this time?"
George's eyes went wide and he held up his hands in a manner more often seen when trying to calm a dragon than in a joke shop. "He isn't here Hermione, I swear. He left a while ago to run errands and I've no idea when he'll be back.
The witch narrowed her eyes and lowered her wand a fraction of an inch. Her voice dropped and everyone in the shop took a few steps forwards to try and catch her words. "Then you tell me what he's done to me so I can figure out the antidote. Or even better, you give me the antidote to whatever it was that he slipped me."
The red-head's face screwed up in confusion and he took a step back. He'd learned long ago that an angry Hermione was far more dangerous than a furious Ginny, and he'd barely survived the second one growing up. "Hermione, what are you on about? Fred hasn't done anything to you that I know of since Ron's wedding last week."
The crowd began to murmur as those who hadn't had the pleasure of seeing Rita's Skeeter's salacious articles began to ask those who had seen it what exactly Fred had done to her. It slowly began to filter through the crowd that last Saturday during the reception one of the Twins had decided Ms. Hermione Granger needed a bit of help to loosen up and fully enjoy the festivities. As such said Twin had brought her onto the dance floor and had taken her through 100 years of dancing in just under three minutes. It also just so happened that the last dance, being a fumbling British version of the Argentinian Tango, had taken out three waiters, two party guests, and Mr. Weasley's Great Aunt Muriel before ending in a scandalously low dip and an even more scandalously searing kiss in front of the entire wedding party.
The next day it was reported that one George Weasley was seen taking a smug faced red frog into St. Mungo's only to come out two hours later with a grinning and still a bit slimy Fred Weasley.
The crowd's murmuring ceased as Hermione began to raise her wand once more. "So help me, if I find out you were in on this I'll make what I did to your brother look like child's play," she hissed.
George raised his hands higher so that they were now level with his ear. "I swear to you no Fabian and Gideon's grave and all thing Marauder that he hasn't told me anything at all about you," he said as he slowly began to reach out to the wand two inches away from his face. He pushed the wand away from his nose and towards the staircase cause those patrons who were standing on said staircase to scramble away in fear. "The last thing he told me was that he was going to get you to try to loosen up a bit. And I'd say he accomplished that last week," George told her with a grin.
Hermione's face flushed, though no one was quite sure whether it was from either anger, embarrassment or some mix of the two. Those who had had the pleasure of meeting Miss Granger believed it was from embarrassment while those who had known her at Hogwarts believed that it was from anger. The murmuring grew louder as the crowd continued to argue this point until an older gentleman was able to dig out a copy of last week's Prophet, along with a spell book from the 1940's, a mummified toad, and the entire back catalogue of Madame Malkin's Quidditch Line. The paper was quickly passed around and speculation was cut short as the photo of the dance showed a laughing and flushed Hermione Granger being lead about the dance floor with a grinning Fred Weasley. Any speculation on what their current relationship was was cut short as the male lead finally made his way onto the scene.
Tinkling above the door and the hatrack's call of "Your mother's a hamster and your father smells of elderberries!" drew the attention of everyone in the shop. Hermione whirled around and saw red. Her hair cackled with energy and she stalked towards him with her wand raised. "You!"
Fred grinned and bowed as low as he was able to with his arms full of takeout boxes, various Ministry forms, and a flask full of what look to be Acromantula eyes. "Yes, it is I lovely madam, here to bring about all your dreams, fulfill all your desires and –"
A loud snapping sound interrupted Fred and someone in the crowd gave a small shriek. Customers throughout the store dropped to the ground fearing another of the Weasley's more energetic fireworks had gone off once more. George, to his credit, had only jumped about a foot from the noise while Fred, in a maneuver worthy of his time as a beater of Hogwarts, had managed to dance to the side to avoid the hex without dropping a single box, paper, or flask. His momentum, however, had caused him to crash into the display for the newly reformulated Nosebleed Nougats , scattering the boxes throughout the entry way.
George moved to help his twin but Hermione's glare stopped him cold. George gave her a shaky smile and raised his hands once more before backing away towards the staircase for a better view of the scene on the off chance he had to fill out any Auror's forms in the next few minutes. Those who were still on the ground peeked around shelves and through racks to try and get the best view possible and began to describe what was happening for those behind them.
"Merlin, Circe, and Morgana, what the bloody hell was that for?" Fred asked, still sprawled among the papers, boxes, and oozing nougats.
"You know exactly what that is for Frederick Gideon Weasley. Don't act stupid, we both know you're rubbish at it," Hermione hissed at him. She slowly walked towards him, moving the boxes and papers to the side with her wand. "I don't know what kind of love potion or product you slipped into my drink last Sunday at your mother's dinner but whatever it was I'd better have the antidote in my hands before I leave here or –"
"Love potion?" Fred sat up on his elbows and stared at the angry witch in front of him. There was not a single customer in the shop who was not impressed with his fearlessness of the woman towering before him. "What are you on about? George and I haven't made love potions of any sort since we lost that bet to you about Ginny being up the duff. Or has all that ink finally gone to that pretty little of yours?"
"Oh please," Hermione scoffed. "Your mother may fall for that innocent act but I know better. Something was in my drink and now I can't seem to concentrate on anything without you popping into my mind every third minute!"
The crowd began to whisper as this new piece of information was digested. Yes, the Weasley Twins were often rash and cavalier about pranking but no one would have guessed either of them would have so little disregard for their own safety that he would attempt to use a love potion on Hermione Granger. Rumor had it that the last wizard who attempted that daring feat was still in St. Mungo's for having the potion turned around on him. And someone's cousin's-friend's-roomate's-step-uncle had worked with another wizard who was apparated to Antarctica to live with the penguins for attempting to send her Amortentia laced chocolates. (This was widely disbelieved, however, as there was in fact a thriving wizarding community in Antarctica and surely he would have been found by now.)
Now that one rumor had been dispensed with, the crowd turned back towards the pair only to realize that Fred hadn't moved since Hermione had made her claim.
"Hermione," George called out from his place on the second floor landing when it became apparent that Fred was in shock.
Hermione and the entire store whipped around to face the forgotten twin. She scowled as she saw his teasing grin and crossed her arms. "George, if you know what this is about and you don't tell me," she threatened, though it was somewhat diminished from her spot on the floor.
George's grin only widened. "Well, I may have an idea about what's happened to you, but you'll have to answer a few questions for me to really be sure."
Hermione shifted her weight and glanced back at Fred before facing George once more. "Fine, if that is what it will take. Fire away."
"You say that you can't take my handsome twin off your mind, though I'm sure you've tried every manner available to that ingenious little mind of yours, everything from reading, to writing, to arithmancy problems, organizing your books, alphabetizing your potions, color-coding your robes –"
"George," she growled. The entirety of the store took an involuntary step back at the sound. "Get on with it."
George raised his hands and leaned against the baluster. "Alright, alright. So Freddie here keeps popping into your mind throughout the day, but you've yet to tell us the kinds of things he interrupts. Surely it can't be that bad?"
Hermione frowned at the suggestion. "Of course it is! My productivity has dropped 73% since it started on Sunday!"
George raised an eyebrow at her outburst. Perhaps it was worse than he'd previously though. "And how did this start exactly?"
Hermione huffed and put her hands on her hips. "When I began to gather up my papers for work after I'd arrived home from dinner at your parents, he popped into my head," she said. She pointed towards the still dazed Fred behind her before continuing. "And while I tried to review the files, all I could think about was when you two reopened your shop"
"Is that so?" George asked as he placed his head on his hand. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but when we reopened the store, wasn't that when the two of you locked yourselves in for a sleepover? As I recall some dunderhead decided to lose their wand at mums and couldn't undo the wards.
"Oi, you tosser!" Fred yelled causing those closest to him to jump at the sudden noise. "You stole my wand and replaced it with a fake one that sprouted daisies." Hermione slowly turned to look at Fred and narrowed her eyes at him. As she waved her wand at him he fell silent and raised his hand in a conciliatory gesture. The action caused déjà vu to ripple through the crowd.
Once Fred showed no further signs of interrupting, Hermione turned back to George, intent on getting the solution to her problem. "What's your point George. What on earth does me thinking about that night have anything to do with what he did to me?"
George replied easily enough now that the final pieces of the puzzle began to click into place. "That was when you two first started becoming what we normal witches and wizards call friends," he said as he gestured to himself and the customers surrounding him. Hermione opened her mouth, either to argue with him or insult him, and George quickly asked what was also on his customer's minds. "And the next time you thought of our dear Freddie there?"
"The next day, Monday." Hermione lifted her chin and stubbornly refused to give George another opening for an insult.
George clicked his tongue at her short answer. "Come now Miss Granger. I can't possibly help if you don't give me all the details."
Hermione stood a bit straighter and crossed her arms across her chest. "Fine. The next time was when we were having our meeting on whether to move forward on werewolf rights, especially in light of the recently publicized attacks in Bulgaria. During the meeting, they served those donuts that your dear brother seems to be living off lately," she said, the sarcasm dripping from her words.
"Then again after lunch when I was running the reports on our campaign to bring awareness of the dangers of using veela tears for a food additive. When I was running the numbers the memory of him helping me make the potion to dye Phlegm's hair blue before Ginny's wedding popped into my mind and I couldn't stop thinking about him the rest of the afternoon.
"And later that night your dearest brother owled to remind me of Flourish and Blotts bi-annual sale on Thursday and inquired as to whether I wanted to go with him. Never one to turn down a book sale I agreed. After sending off my answer, I did everything I could to try and get him off my mind and yes, it did involve alphabetizing my spice rack and don't you dare laugh George Fabian Weasley," Hermione spat out before she added in a thoughtful tone, "though I don't recall a time when my flat's ever been this clean and organized."
"And then?" George prompted from the second floor. He was obviously enjoying the whole thing despite failing to make a single sale in the past fifteen minutes.
"Then on Wednesday the whole thing starts all over again. My morning tea reminds me that every time he goes to France he always brings back the rose hip and chamomile tea that I love. The mug that he bought me for Christmas stared at me the entire day and I ended up locking it away in a drawer. Then later that night I spent two hours trying to decide what to wear that next day. Never have I spent that much time in my own closet!"
"Hmm, yes, this does sound serious," George mused as he scratched his chin. "But I think I'm getting closer to rooting out the problem. What happened on Thursday?"
"I went to meet him in line before they opened the doors and the first thing that came out of his mouth was an insult," Hermione said, irritation lacing her words. "Then he had the nerve to act offended about it. It was all I could do to keep from hexing him."
"I wasn't teasing you I was complimenting you, you daft bird," Fred cried out around a mouthful of chicken tikka masala. He'd managed to overcome his shock from earlier and had opened up one of the take out boxes and begun eating. Hermione spun around and glared at him. Fred only raised one eyebrow and brought another forkful to his mouth.
When it appeared that Hermione was more content to entertain a staring contest with his brother rather than continuing her story, George had to guide her back to the conversation. The crowd quietly cheered on his efforts; they hadn't had this much fun in WWW since the Exploding Snap fiasco of 2001.
"What exactly did my brother say to you last night?"
Hermione stuck her nose in the air as she spun away from the offending Weasley. Snickering was heard from the crowd as Fred stuck his tongue out at her back. "He told me that I looked, and I quote, 'As pretty as a dewlion and smelling just as sweet."
Sighs were heard from the crowd and George glanced over to find some customers smiling fondly while others were scowling at his brother. "And what is so wrong with that?" he asked, genuinely confused as to what a dewlion even was.
"Have you ever seen a dewlion George? They're nine meters of oozing us that have fangs almost as long as my arm and smell as bad as Ron's socks."
George let out a whistle at her description. The sound of someone choking came from the front of the store and everyone turned to find that Fred was now choking on his takeout. When Hermione refused to help, George flicked his wand and sent a Duck-For-Cover Decoy towards Fred's back. The impact managed to dislodge the tomato covered chicken from Fred's windpipe and he began wheezing in air.
"That's not what a dewlion is Granger," Fred gasped, still trying to recover from the lack of air. "It's a flower and a damn rare one at that."
Hermione scowled at him. "No, it is not and you would know if you had ever paid attention in Hagrid's class instead of skiving off to go explode a toilet."
"Yes, it is and you'd know it was if you had ever paid attention in Sprout's class for once instead of bossing everyone about," he wheezed, his glare matching hers in its intensity.
"Er, excuse me," a small timid voice called out to the right of the entrance. A short, mousy haired woman who appeared to be Mrs. Weasley's age stepped towards them, effectively ending the staring stalemate. Fred and Hermione whipped around to look at her, both forgetting they had an audience, and the woman's eyes flew wide open at the intensity of their combined glares. With the crowd's encouragement, the woman continued. "You're actually both correct. The flower was named after the creature due to its inability to grow anywhere but in the waste of the creature. It's also the only substance that has the ability to cure the toxins that leech from the creature's body but it's also one of the most sought after ingredients in perfumes. It's actually a fascinating story about how it was discovered, no one really ever believes it though it's one –"
Recognizing the customer's ability to speak for hours on end about a single topic, George quickly cut in before she could really gain steam. "Thank you Dolores," he said. The customer turned bright red and skittered back into the crowd before Hermione or Fred could direct their ire back onto her. "See, you were both right. It's a creature and a flower! An apparently rare and sought after one as well."
Hermione blushed as she realized the implications of what the mix up were and that Fred really had meant it to be a compliment. She turned back towards George and cleared her throat, desperate to move the conversation along so that she could get a hold of the antidote before meeting the boys for dinner. "Regardless of what he meant he was still absolutely horrid to me last night. He was teasing, rude, and pushy the entire time. It was as if didn't even want me there."
George looked down towards his brother to find him sitting on the floor with his mouth open and a look of indignation on his face. Realizing that his flabbergasted brother would only muck things up if he spoke just now, George asked the now embarrassed with what exactly he did last night that was so horrible.
"First of all, when we were about to go through the doors he motions me ahead of him just so that he could shove me and make me trip through the door. I almost took out the entire Rowling display."
Fred pointed his fork at her and spoke around the large piece of naan he'd just bitten into. "I told you last night that the bloke behind me shoved you. And I tried to catch you."
Hermione turned and glared at him. "Only so that you could then push me into Lockheart's latest piece of literary trash. And what about that girl you were chatting up all night? You ended up talking to her the entire time and refused to even introduce me when I was standing next to you."
Fred rolled his eyes and swallowed. "I wasn't 'chatting her up.' I was asking her were the Potions and Charms section was. She worked there you daft woman. And when I turned to ask if you had any questions about finding anything you'd already vanished to go 'chat up' that ruddy blonde man with the cowlick."
Hermione crossed her arms and ignored his last jab, obviously disbelieving his version of events. The crowd began to talk amongst itself and began to weigh the pros and cons of each side. Currently they were split 50/50 between whose version was correct.
"Really? Then what about you talking the last of the Waldorf salad they had set out only to throw it into my hair? I was still finding pieces of it in my hair this morning."
"I got it for you Granger," Fred said as he stood up. "It's not my fault that when I went to give it over you decided to flick your hair into the plate. Excuse me for not realizing you would want to eat food you'd already dragged your hair through." His face had begun flushing the famous Weasley red and side bets were being made as to whether Hermione would be thrown out of the store or thoroughly snogged by him before the night was over.
"Yes, because that makes sense," Hermione spat back, still refusing to admit that the truth might lie somewhere in the middle. "What about you deciding to buy the book you knew I've been looking everywhere for? You saw me eyeing it for thirty minutes and the minute I put it down it disappears only to reappear at the register with you buying it. And worst of all, you denied the entire thing when I confronted you about it," she said, taking a step closer to him to jab her finger into his chest.
"Did it ever occur to you that I might be buying the damn thing for you Granger? It was supposed to be a surprise for your birthday, but now you've gone and ruined it," he roared back at her.
Those in the crowd who had sided with the witch being thrown out began to good naturedly elbow their neighbors and telling them to pay up. Their neighbors responded not to count their thestrals too early as the two had moved close enough that not even a pygmy puff cage could fit between the two.
Meanwhile, George glanced at the clock and winced. He only had six minutes to pull this off and he began to doubt his own plotting abilities. Wracking his mind, the only thing he could come up with to pull the two out of their cocoon was to blurt out the secret Fred had been holding onto for years, one that he'd been made to promise on his life never to reveal. Practically an unbreakable vow among twins. Glancing at the clock once more – only five minutes now – George made his decision. Praying to whatever god was available that his twin would someday forgive him for this transgression, George breathed in deeply and yelled out over the two bickering Gryffindors in his store.
"Fred has a Pygmy Puff tattoo on his left buttock with the words 'You Stole My Cauldron But You Can't Have My Heart' in bright pink around it!"
The store fell silent as everyone began to process the words they'd just heard. Then, one by one, everyone in the store turned to look at mortified Fred Weasley.
Then, like a potion slowly bubbling over a too hot cauldron, a small snicker was heard, quickly growing louder with each passing second. The patrons all glanced at one another. They'd all heard enough about Fred and George's time at Hogwarts to know better than to laugh at this very moment least they develop a rather nasty rash that would be hard to explain to their significant other. It wasn't until the snickering finally boiled over into peals of laughter that the culprit was found: one Hermione Jean Granger.
"Do you really? Can I see it?" she gasped out between giggles. Fred glared up at his twin and all the possible scenarios of revenge began to whirl around George's mind faster than the newest line of Firebolts.
Before things could get any worse for him, George played the trump card he'd been holding ever since Hermione came into the store.
"Hermione Granger, if you'll stop snickering at my poor, plotting, defenseless brother for one second I have the answer to your problem."
Hermione snorted as she tried to get her laughter under control. "My what?" she asked as she turned to look at George. Apparently all that was needed to distract her normally razor sharp mind off its quest was Fred utter humiliation.
"Your question of what Fred's done to you," George said quietly. Despite refusing to look anywhere but at Hermione, George could still feel the first of Fred's stare boring into his head and he began to mentally prepare himself for a long week of pranks.
"Oh?" Hermione turned away from Fred and faced the landing for her answer. George glanced at the clock once more – three minutes to go – and hoped like hell this worked. If not, he was in for a decade of painful payback from one of the most brilliant witches he'd ever met. "And what exactly is your analysis of the situation?" she asked.
"He's made you fancy him." George's answer was said so breezily that half the store believed it to be another joke.
Hermione blinked as she processed his statement. "He what?" she asked in a flat voice.
"Which is absolutely fantastic, considering that he's fancied you since what, our sixth year was it?"
Hermione froze at that, her eyes growing wide as she began to review her interactions with Fred throughout the years. In the silence George allowed himself the ghost of a grin at the thought that this might actually work out. That he might narrowly escape a sudden, early onset of death at the hands ofh is most beloved brother was merely a side benefit.
"If you say another word George," Fred growled, stepping past Hermione towards the stairs.
George waved his brother's threat away as easily as if it was another one of their Amazing Flying Seeker Harry Potter toy. "Oh, come off it Fred. Everyone's been aware of it for years. Everyone except Hermione here. And Charlie, but then again he's never really been a people person. Probably why he takes after dragons so well."
To everyone but George's surprise, Hermione's hand shot out to grab Fred's robes before he could make it any further towards the steps. Fred turned to face her, uncertain of what she had in mind, but to George's chagrin it seemed as if the witch was still stuck compiling all the information she'd just received in the past ten minutes. With a final glance at the clock – one minute until detonation – he threw up his hands in despair. All his plans for an explosive declaration of love from Fred had been destroyed by Hermione Granger's ability to overthink everything. George briefly leaned over to lay his head down on the railing, but at the sound of the crowd gasping he whipped his head back up.
George's mouth dropped open and he blinked a few times to make sure he wasn't seeing things. There, in the middle of his store, one Hermione Jean Granger was snogging the living daylights out of one Frederick Gideon Weasley. Though he wasn't sure who had initiated it (his money was on Hermione as she'd always acted the second she made up her mind whereas his brother would stew for week), he smiled at the realization that getting those two together was enough to earn his brother's eternal forgiveness. If not he'd certainly settle for a week's head start.
The crowd around him shifted as people began to argue about whether or not money should exchange hands since Fred hadn't been the one to initiate the kiss, but any further discussion was cut off by the loud sounds of Wildfire Whiz-Bangs and Chatty Cathy Catherine Wheels going off all throughout the stores. Sparkles began to dance out of their boxes and bottle rockets began to roll through the air. Loud cheers went up through the stores as the Catherine Wheels began to shift to form roaring lions in Gryffindor house couples.
Meanwhile, the couple continued as if they were the only ones in the store, oblivious to the noise and light bursting around them.
Later on, those who had been the closest to the couple when the fireworks went off would swear that Hermione's first words after they broke for air were "Do you really have a tattoo of a pygmy puff?"
Fred only smirked and said, "If you're nice enough, I might even let you find out," before kissing her once again.
10/5/2015 – Had to make a minor correction when the lovely ColeTheCapricorn pointed out I'd missed something, so I went ahead and re-edited it! Now with 600 more words scattered throughout!
This was incredibly fun to write. It's just a silly little one shot that popped up in my head while listening to music (I Try to think About Elvis by Patty Loveless for the curious). Set in the Fred lives and Epilogue, What Epilogue? universe of things. And while we're at it, Sirius, Remus, Tonks, Dobby, and Hedwig are all alive too.
Please let me know what you think, it'll help me figure out whether to write more little one-shots like this. Have a good weekend! (And if anyone is wondering why anyone would have such a ridiculous tattoo, let's just say it involved firewhiskey, Lee, and an ill-advised bet on when Oliver would finally pop the most important question to Katie Bell: Can you get me box seats for the Scottish National Quidditch team?)