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The last month had passed by in a complete blur. The mountain of homework that the fifth years accumulated every week was even daunting for Hermione at times. But that, mixed in with the Azkaban breakout, the educational decrees, Harry's flailing occlumency lessons, Sirius's lonely house arrest, and her own scheme that involved someone that she would rather not interact with at all, had forced Hermione's brain into overdrive.
Oh… and the impending Hogsmeade date had added a little stress as well.
She wasn't completely sure why, but Hermione was actually a little nervous about the date with Fred. They had spent plenty of time together and had even met at Hogsmeade a few times last fall, but the official feeling of this Valentine's date was almost unnerving.
And then there was the fact that she was planning to interrupt their date for something that Hermione had not even gotten a confirmation for yet…
Yes, lots and lots of nerves.
But when Hermione woke up the morning of Valentine's Day, she found herself smiling in spite of herself as a little bit of warmth filled her stomach.
There was a small box of very fancy chocolates at the foot of her bed and a pink and red card that sang one of her favorite Weird Sisters songs on loop.
'I thought I would meld one of your ideas with one of my own. I've also jinxed it to randomly start singing throughout the day even if it's closed. It could drive people positively mad… why don't you leave it somewhere everyone in your dorm can hear?
Happy Valentine's Day,
Hermione tried not to look suspicious as she propped up the card on her bedside table and went off to prepare for the day.
It had taken Hermione an unusually long time to pick out what to wear for the day. After some time, she had finally settled on a pair of dark jeans and a simple white flowy blouse under her purple pea coat. The butterflies fluttering about inside of her were wreaking havoc on her stomach, but she tried to push them to the back of her mind as she made her way down to breakfast.
She almost flew down the staircase as she neared the Great Hall; the annoyance at her self doubt and the letter clutched in her hand might have added to the urgency in her steps. It surprised her that the scheme was coming together so well, but the timing of the plan did pose some issues.
And just as Hermione was trying to formulate an explanation for Fred, she literally ran into the other person she needed to meet with that day, "Harry!"
The wizard stumbled a bit before he reached out and grabbed her arms to stabilize himself and his friend, "You alright, Hermione?"
The witch smiled and nodded her head fervently as Harry let go, "Yes, fine. Looking for you actually."
"Shouldn't you be looking for Fred?" Harry chuckled a little before a frown line appeared on his forehead.
"Well, yes… I'm looking for him too, but I'm afraid that I need to ask you for a favor today," Hermione knew something was wrong, but she couldn't put her finger on the cause, "Are you alright?"
Harry appeared surprised by the question. "Fine, fine… just a little nervous, I suppose." His lopsided smile was forced, "What's the favor you need?"
The witch had a moment of doubt as she looked at her best friend's face. Maybe he wouldn't be prepared for something like this; maybe this wasn't the right course of action…? But this might be the only way to get the magical world to start turning back to Harry's side... to the truth, "Would you be able to meet me at the Three Broomsticks around midday? It's really important."
"I dunno, Hermione…" he said as his shoulders shifted uncomfortably, "Cho might be expecting me to spend the whole day with her. We never said what we were going to do."
"Well, you can bring her along too," the witch grabbed Harry's wrist as she tried to convey how important the meeting was without explaining her plan, "Will you come?"
Harry nodded his head, "All right… but why?"
The wizard jumped a little as Hermione threw her arms around his neck and hugged him quickly, "Can't explain right now, I've got to speak with Fred and answer this letter quickly. See you in Hogsmeade." She smiled brightly at her friend. And as Hermione was about to enter the Great Hall, she spotted Cho waiting for Harry just to the right of the oak front doors. Hermione smiled and waved to the witch.
They had been fairly friendly during DA meetings and exchanged pleasant greetings on more than a few occasions. But Cho didn't return the wave like she usually did. Hermione thought she saw the black haired witch actually scowl at her, but that couldn't be right…
Hermione shook her head of the thought and hurried over to the Gryffindor table. And when she saw Fred smiling up at her, Hermione completely forgot about the strange encounter.
"There you are. I was about to send out a search party," Fred caught her hand and pulled the witch down onto the bench beside him.
"Sorry," Hermione's face flushed slightly as he leaned over to press a soft kiss to her cheek.
"Happy Valentine's day, Hermione."
She easily returned the smile Fred wore as he pulled back, "Happy Valentine's day. Did you get your gift?"
"Yes, and thank you. I might have already eaten some... and I might have transfigured a few of them to look like muggle butterscotch so that George would have some difficulty getting dressed this morning," Fred smirked as he thought of the Fizzing Whizzbees and looked over at his twin who sat at almost the opposite end of the Gryffindor table.
The witch rolled her eyes but maintained a smile, "You really shouldn't give him such a hard time. He was already a little defeated when Angelina told him she couldn't go to Hogsmeade today because she had to help Ron train."
"Well, he volunteered to help Angie train Ron up a bit in exchange for a late night run to Honeydukes later. So don't feel too bad for him," Fred waggled his eyebrows suggestively as he bit into another piece of toast and passed Hermione the jam, "best hurry up and eat something so we can get going. I've planned a few things for today. But nothing outrageous, I promise."
"Oh…" the witch glanced around the room frantically, as if she was suddenly lost, "Are… are your plans… flexible?"
"They can be, if needed," Fred could see that something was worrying Hermione's mind, so he tried to reassure his girlfriend with a kind smile, "I'm sure whatever you need to do can easily fit into our itinerary today. I might even enjoy helping if you let me?"
Hermione shook her head, "I'm not sure about all that. It's something that has the potential of backfiring horribly."
Fred acted as if he was offended by her doubt of his support, which the twin found he actually was a little, "Did you forget who you're dating? Most of George and my schemes have a high potential of backfiring."
The witch didn't look convinced.
He took Hermione's hand and squeezed it firmly but gently, "Alright… joking aside; whatever it is, I want to help."
"Well, will you come to the owlery with me first? I need to send out a letter to make sure everything is really set in motion," the witch whispered even though there was no one within earshot that was paying attention to the two of them.
"Of course," without a second thought, Fred placed three extra pieces of toast into one of Hermione's hands and took the other one in his own. He pulled them from the bench and they began to make their way out of the Great Hall.
"You're… you're really alright with this? You don't even know what I've done yet?" Hermione quietly questioned as they walked down a corridor toward the West Tower.
Fred nodded with a smug look on his face, "Well, knowing you… and I do feel like I know you somewhat well now. I'm sure you have something brilliant in the works. And I always love a good scheme, so I'm more than happy to help." he looked back and offered a blinding smile to the pretty brunette as they hurried up the winding stairs to the school owlery, "You'll just have to swear to tell me exactly everything that you've done so I can be bask in the glory of my horrible influence on you."
Hermione chuckled as she scoffed, "I'm fairly certain I would have done this even without your influence, Mr. Weasley."
"Oh really?" Fred halted right outside the door, "Tell me what you've done so I can judge for myself then."
"Well, I…" Hermione took a deep breath and pulled her shoulders back, "I got The Quibbler to agree to print the true story of what went on last year during the third task, how Cedric Diggory really died, and... and what really happened with Harry and You-Know-Who."
"What?" Fred felt his eyes widen; he was surprised to say the least.
"Luna Lovegood's father is the editor of 'The Quibbler'. And I promised him an exclusive with Harry written by Rita Skeeter."
Fred felt the edge of his lips begin to pull up, "And how did you manage that?"
Hermione raised her chin a little as a coy smile took over her expression, "Ms. Skeeter might owe me a favor or two."
"And since it's a Hogsmeade weekend, you and Harry can go into the village without anyone questioning your reason for being there… or who you might be meeting with?" he felt a strange sense of pride as Hermione nodded her head.
"But I didn't mean for it to interrupt whatever you had planned for today. I really am sorry," the witch looked remorseful as she closed the small gap between them. She raised herself up onto her toes and wrapped her arms around Fred's neck.
A chuckle escaped his mouth as his hands came to rest on Hermione's hips, "a scheming adventure can easily fit into our day. But if you really feel guilty, you can always make it up to me later…"
Fred was surprised that the witch did not try to hide her face as a dusting of pale pink rose on her cheeks.
"I'm sure we can come to some kind of arrangement," a mischievous twinkle flashed behind Hermione's eyes as she smiled.
memegirl and filmdork - I do plan on going to Deathly Hollows or even a little after that. I refuse to answer any specific questions about Fred's fate. Though I will say that he is one of my favorite characters and I will do my best to tell this story well. And the rating might be bumped up next "book".
Hope you all liked this chapter and please remember that questions are always welcomed. =)
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Ps. Check out the other stories by me: 'Begin Again' (which is now complete!), 'Thrown Back' and 'Penelope Jackson: The Lightning Thief.'