She was a girl, fourteen year old Fred Weasley told himself. Just another girl. Except most other girls didn't look that cute when they blushed, or had the same crazy hair that she did. He knew that she was younger than him- he'd seen her walking around with his little brother Ron and Mr. I-Defeated-You-Know-Who-When-I-Was-A-Baby. He even happened to know her name.
She was Hermione Granger, one of Harry Potter's legendary sidekicks and the famous Gryffindor know-it-all. She was also, perhaps, Fred's new crush. Not that he would ever admit it, though. Even his twin brother George couldn't get him to confess it. No, Fred was just content to let himself think that he was just noticing Hermione because she was his younger brother's friend. That's the only reason she stood out.
Deep down, Fred knew why he just "happened" to find himself around her. Why he'd throw in random comments or try to distract her from her homework. He wanted her to notice him the way he'd noticed her. If only she would just look up at him for one second! Maybe that was why he'd started pulling more pranks, recently? He was practically begging her for attention.
But no, she wouldn't give it to him. All she did was hang around Harry and Ron and her books. This endless cycle (pull prank, don't get noticed, try harder) carried on for years, but Fred never gave up. And then came the Yule Ball in his sixth year. Finally, he thought, something to get his mind off of the whole Bagman ordeal. But no, she'd already been asked out by Viktor Krum, Sir Slouch-A-Lot.
Seventh year, he was determined. He went to all the D.A. meetings, got caught by her every chance he got, and pulled the most outrageous stunt yet when he left the school. And still, nothing. What had he expected? An owl note from her showering him in praises?
Then came the day she visited the shop. She was over by the Patented Daydream Charms with Harry, and he'd seen her crazy curly hair the second she'd walked in the shop.
"…You know," he could hear her say to Harry. "That really is some extraordinary magic!"
With his typical charming grin and a flourish of his robes, he leaned against the shelf behind her. "For that, Hermione, you can have one for free," he told her. She jumped and turned around to see who'd spoken. The second he saw those wide, caramel eyes, he felt his knees go weak. It had been far too long since the last time he'd seen her.
To keep himself from staring at her, he quickly turned to her friend. "How are you, Harry?" he asked with a quick handshake. "And what's happened to your eye, Hermione?" Her usually beautiful face was marred with a dark purple mark around her left eye.
"Your punching telescope," she replied. An embarrassed flush graced her cheeks.
"Oh blimey," he cringed, "I forgot about those. Here- just dab it on, that bruise'll be gone within the hour." He handed her a small tub from his pocket and watched as she gently unscrewed the lid. "We had to find a decent bruise remover. We're testing most of our products on ourselves."
"It is safe, isn't it?" she asked warily.
Fred grinned widely at her. "Course it is." He turned back to Harry and dragged him off to give him a tour of the place. He wanted to stay with Hermione, but he figured that he should show his donor what they had done with the money. Just a few minutes later, after Verity called George out of the back room, Fred subtly led Harry back over toward Ginny and Hermione.
"Haven't you girls found our special WonderWitch products, yet?" Fred questioned mischievously. At their confused looks, he made a sweeping motion with his hands. "Follow me, ladies!" He led them through the crowds of giggling girls to a wall of shelves filled with bright pink bottles. "There you go! Best range of love potions you'll find anywhere!"
"Do they work?" Ginny asked doubtfully.
Fred watched closely as Hermione picked up a bottle with a curious look on her face. Then he remembered his little sister's question. "Certainly they work, for up to twenty four hours at a time depending on the weight of the boy in question-"
"-and the attractiveness of the girl," George finished from behind him. Fred turned around and grinned at his twin. "But we're not selling them to our sister," George said quickly. "Not when she's already got about five boys on the go from what we've-"
"Whatever you've heard from Ron is a big fat lie," Ginny interrupted immediately. Fred gladly entered into the amusing sibling banter with Ginny and George. All the while he kept an eye on Hermione, waiting to see if he could find a good time to show her the collection of quills they had. Surely she would find those interesting?
Before he knew it, Ron and their mum had shown up, adding onto the Weasley family drama. He was about to change the subject back to Ginny's string of boyfriends when a little girl tugged on his robe.
Fred leaned over to look at her. "What can I help you with, little witch?" he asked with a smile.
The little girl looked up at him shyly. "I was wonderin' how much one of those costed," she said with a point to the Pygmy Puffs.
He was just about to answer when her mother came struggling through the crowd and lifted her daughter into her arms. "I am so sorry, sir, I hope she didn't pull you away from any important business," the older witch said hurriedly.
Fred gave the frazzled mother a smile. "It's 'lright, madam! Anything for the little ones, am I right?" he said as he ruffled the little girl's hair. The mother seemed relieved and set off with her daughter to have a closer look at the Pygmy Puff cage.
He smiled after the mother and daughter pair before he realized that he'd lost track of Hermione. Fred turned around and saw her standing there with a wary expression. Before he could ask her to come with him to look at the quills, however, she was disappearing under an invisible cape, presumably with Harry and Ron.
Fred sighed, leaning against one of the many shelves in the store. Well, he told himself, at least she'd liked the Patented Daydream Charms. Perhaps he should send her one, he mused.