Note: I wrote this Fremione fanfic a while ago, and although I'd deleted my work off the site this is one of a few that I'm proud of so I've edited it and re-uploaded it. Please read & leave reviews!
Chapter One: She Doesn't Get Your Humour Like I Do
Hermione sat in the kitchen of the Burrow, her hand feeding cereal into her mouth straight out of the box, chew, repeat, without really thinking about it. Her eyes were glued to Hogwarts: A History, a book she had to have read a million times over by now. She didn't usually re-read factual books, finding that she had a pretty good ability to retain information first time through, but the summer at the Burrow had taken its toll, and with the boys playing Quidditch every minute of daylight, she'd depleted her collection of books and was very much out of reading materials. And given that Hogwarts: A History was a fairly voluminous novel, she'd picked it up in the hope that it would slow her down, until she got paid and was able to purchase a few new titles from Diagon Alley, at least.
The house was eerily quiet, for it was still early in the morning, and the rest of the Burrow's residents had yet to wake. Hermione hadn't been sleeping properly lately – she'd put it down to stress but really, the witch had a lot more than just work on her mind. The aftermath of the Battle of Hogwarts had caught up with her, and nearly every time Hermione made to go to sleep she woke up gasping and drenched in sweat, having relived the experience of watching her classmates' stoic faces as they tumbled to their deaths.
That explained why Hermione, munching her way through a box of Ron's favourite cereal, was up at such a ridiculous hour, making steady progress with her book. She figured that if she kept her mind busy then she wouldn't sleep and therefore avoid the reoccurring nightmare that she seemed to be unable to avoid, no matter how much Dreamless Sleep Draught she seemed to take. That's what she'd been doing all summer. Keeping busy. In a desperate attempt to prevent depressing thoughts about the battle bother her, Hermione had thrown herself into her work, to the point where people were beginning to question her sanity.
After the final battle, Hermione had been offered a post at the Ministry of Magic working for the department of Muggle Affairs; the department that dealt with the co-existence of Muggles and Wizards. Her role, as chief instigator of idiosyncratic events – or as the Weasley family called it "strange goings on" – was taxing and required Hermione to be very vigilant with her work and whom she employed.
She felt very important, sat in her office day in day out, filling out forms and authorising Obliviations of unsuspecting Muggles who'd gotten on the wrong end of a Wizard, but she was currently on her two week holiday and was going out of her mind with boredom. She'd taken as much work on as she could, claiming she was "behind" but the rest of the ministry were running out of tasks to delegate to the keen young witch – and some would say she was becoming more of a nuisance than an actual help – which was why Hermione had found herself beside herself with boredom.
That was where Fred Weasley had come in. You'd have thought that with Voldemort dead the Golden trio would finally have time to themselves to relax and enjoy life, but that hadn't been the case – well not for the trio, anyway. After the battle, and a brief span of dating Ron – they'd lasted about two weeks before Hermione had flipped, irritated by Ron's constant belching and wandering hands, impatient for her to put out – Hermione had become increasingly distant from her two best friends.
Maybe she'd let her failed relationship with Ron and her tendency for over-working come between her friendship, but Hermione was insistent that Harry and Ron were too preoccupied with their girlfriends; Lavendar and Ginny, to want to spend time with plain and bookworm-ish Hermione Granger. So it was with that thought that Hermione retreated inwards, to the worry of Molly Weasley, eating less and spending more and more time late at work, and when she was home, she rarely left her room, and was always hidden behind a book.
Having taken Hermione into her home once Hermione had been unable to reverse her parent's memory charm due to not being able to track them down, Molly had taken on the role of "Mum" suitably well, as she'd always done. She fussed over Hermione, spoilt her with the odd present here are there – much to the annoyance of the Weasley boys, who never received such treats – and moaned about her lack of appetite, pressing grand packed lunches on Hermione to take to work every day, and overloading her dinner plate.
Hermione's deteriorating state really worried Mrs Weasley, which was why, one July afternoon, Molly Weasley had called her son, Fred into the kitchen, casting a silencing charm around the room just in case anyone was feeling especially nosy and decided to snoop.
"Fred, dear?" Molly Weasley called, from the kitchen, as she saw a flash of red hair streak past the door. He skidded to a halt.
"Yeah?" His voice was deeper now, and he looked a lot older after the battle had taken its toll on him. A slight scar above his right eye was all that remained of his injuries – from where a large sector of a wall had knocked him unconscious for the better part of a week, and now his mother was easily able to distinguish between her sons, due to George's missing ear and Fred's scar.
He'd let his hair grow all shaggy so that it flopped in front of his eyes, much to the annoyance of his mother, who was constantly berating Bill for his unruly mass of ginger hair.
Fred liked his bangs, though; he was self-conscious about his scar, although you wouldn't think the twin would bother about his looks, having always focused more on his sense of humour. But his scar was one more thing that set him apart from his brother, George, so Fred and his brother had grown their locks to hide their disfigurements, with George's absent ear covered by his hair, and Fred's fringe flopping down to cover his scar.
Slightly taller than George, Fred stood at six foot one, towering over his mother, as the tallest Weasley son, with the exception of Charlie, who was barely ever there, anyway. His eyes were startlingly blue, and still held their mischievous glint – nothing could take that away from him, ever – but had been looking more troubled of late.
Molly suspected his high maintenance girlfriend, Angelina Johnson, had more to do with her son's tired, worn state than Fred would admit. Whilst Angelina Johnson was a lovely girl, and very successful, too, Molly had never fully warmed to her in the way she had Harry, when she discovered Harry and Ginny were finally dating – that was after an awkward incident in which Molly had disturbed a passionate kiss between her youngest and the Chosen one, on her voyage to deliver some laundry. Molly was now very careful to knock before entering any one's bedroom.
"I was wondering if you could do me a favour. Hermione's not been looking great lately – Harry and Ron aren't being the best friends to her at the moment, and I know she's got a lot on her plate with work. She's not been eating and she barely leaves that room of hers. Could you look out for her, check on her every now and again, make sure she eats when I'm not in? Could you do that for me?" Molly asked, chirpily. Despite her cheery tone, Fred knew better than to argue with his mother – it had been a demand and not a request, no matter how his mother had phrased it, and he had begrudgingly agreed to take the crumpled Gryffindor under his wing.
"Sure, no problem, Mother dearest," he agreed, "But Angelina's got some things she needs me to drop off at Katie's for her so I'm going out for a bit," he announced, "But I'll be back for dinner so make me an extra tray of Yorkshire Puddings please," he begged, flashing his Mum his trademark smile, and then laughing as she attempted to smack him with her oven gloves, but couldn't reach. "Laters," he smiled and his Mum had smile and shook her head as he'd apparated over to Angelina's flat.
Following that conversation, Fred had done his very best to be a good friend to Hermione in the place of Harry and Ron. He'd popped into Flourish and Blotts, had bought her the latest collection of Charms books which he knew she had a particular soft spot for, and had dropped them on her lap one night. Yes, he might have sorely bruised her legs, but how was he to know that she'd been asleep and wasn't going to be able to catch them like he thought she would? However, once she'd overcome the shock of having a stack of books dropped on her, she'd thanked Fred immensely and smiled as she steadily worked her way through the stacks. Molly had also smiled at the gesture, and she knew that her son was kind hearted enough to do Hermione the world of good.
Another time, it had been a hot day and Hermione had been reading under the Cherry blossom tree in the garden, with the Weasleys playing Quidditch in the field next to her, and he'd apparated to Diagon Alley, got her favourite - Cookies and Cream ice cream - from Fortesean's Ice Cream Parlour, and she'd thanked him again, wondering to herself why the joker Fred Weasley was being so nice to her whilst everyone else had appeared to forget she existed.
She'd asked Fred what he'd done to the ice cream before she accepted it; he was adamant that he hadn't tampered with it, and he told her that she'd merely looked a little hot and he thought she'd appreciate the dairy treat, which she did of course.
Fred had liked thinking of ways he could momentarily cheer Hermione up – because he did agree with his Mum, he hadn't noticed it before, but now it had been pointed out to him, he could see she pushed her food around her plate at mealtimes, and always seemed distant.
It didn't matter if she didn't finish her meals – for Ron would always polish off her leftovers, fighting George or Ginny for her roast potatoes or leftover turkey – but it was evident she wasn't eating; she was wasting away, she was certainly thinner and had lost the healthy glow she'd always had – instead she had bags under her eyes from where Fred assumed she'd stayed up all night reading, or doing some extra paperwork that wasn't needed for another year.
She was falling to bits, and he liked trying to keep her in one piece, working in accordance with his Mum to slip her a piece of cake here, or buy her a new jumper.
Slowly and surely, Hermione had noticed Fred's constant attempts to be nice to her, and couldn't help but feeling touched that someone cared enough to want to improve her mood. She'd spend longer and longer in the presence of one of the two family jokers; sometimes she'd curl up in front of the fire once everyone had disappeared off to bed for the night, promising herself she'd read just one more chapter (she would then continue into the early hours of the morning, until she'd read the entire book) and Fred would come and lay on the sofa next to her, not disrupting her peace, but picking her legs up and draping them over his lap as he traced patterns therapeutically on her skin.
One time she'd fallen asleep in that very position, and he'd scooped her up and carried her up the stairs to bed, not wanting to disturb the rare moment of sleep in which she looked peaceful, serene even.
The next day Hermione had wondered how she'd arrived in her own bed, and with a blush she realised the Weasley twin much have carried her up – she'd thanked him, but he'd waved it off as nothing and said he hadn't wanted to wake her because she looked tired, but at the same time he didn't want her to get a cricked neck from sleeping awkwardly on the sofa.
He was so thoughtful and nice, and it was a welcome change from Ron and Harry, Hermione mused, who only seemed to help her if they got something out of it. The only reasons Harry or Ron had every fetched her books or brought her a cup of coffee was if they wanted something, whether it was the loan of something, such as her iPod, or how back they used to be especially nice to her back in their school years when they'd wanted her to "finish" their Charms essays – more like write the entire things, Hermione thought to herself, jadedly.
There was no way to put it other than Fred Weasley was a gentleman, who was funny, charming, good looking, care-free, financially stable, intelligent, and in more ways than one, everything that Hermione Granger could want in a potential suitor.
His kind gestures were only one reason Hermione liked Fred – she'd always had a schoolgirl crush on him throughout her years at Hogwarts, but because he was older and well liked at school, she'd never gotten close to him. She doubted he'd have cared much for a bookworm like herself, anyway, when he could have had his pick of all the girls in the school, anyway.
Fred Weasley, in Hermione's opinion, was essentially perfect. The only problem was, however, that Fred Weasley had a girlfriend – much to Hermione's dismay –Angelina Johnson, Captain of the Holyhead Harpies, at that.
A noise roused Hermione from the pages of Hogwarts: A History and she looked up to see the very person she'd been thinking about, instead of concentrating on the jumble of words in front of her. Fred Weasley was stood at the bottom of the stairs, looking sleepy – wearing blue and white striped pyjama bottoms, and no shirt (he had a great torso from years of Quidditch, Hermione had concluded after a little too much staring at it), he had sleep in the corner of his eyes, which she pointed out to him, and he rubbed it away with a yawn.
He made coffee for them both, just as Hermione liked it, black with no sugar, and held the cup out to her, as he nursed his own brew in his hands, as he sat down opposite her.
"Morning, 'Mione," He beamed at her, still looking slightly sleep. "What brings you down here so early on such a delightful morning?" He asked, chuckling to himself as the rain spat at the kitchen window.
"Rain kept me up," she nodded to the window, and holding her battered book up, she added, "Plus I wanted to get some reading in before the house wakes up given that I'm not going to be reading outside this morning in this weather."
"Very wise," Fred grinned ruefully, for he knew that on rainy days, the Burrow was a writhing mass of teenage bodies and the close proximity usually led to a large amount of heated arguments. Hermione was very unlikely to be able to read in peace and quiet. "I swear you've read that book a million times now, are you not bored by it?" He asked, chuckling.
"No! This book is a brilliant peace of literature – really all Hogwarts students should be made to read it in order to truly appreciate the beauty of the school… did you know that in 1972, during a Triwizard tournament task, a cockatrice escaped, all three heads of the schools -"
"- were injured by the creature, suffering severe head injuries?" Finished Fred, to Hermione's shock and to his own amusement. "You're not the only one who's read that book you know. How d'you think George and I learnt our way around Hogwarts like the back of our hand?"
"You've read Hogwarts: A History?" Hermione asked again in disbelief, and Fred chuckled.
"Course, did you not know I could read?" He teased, completely at ease with taking the mickey out of himself – a skill learnt from many years of pranking, one had to be able to laugh at oneself to become an accomplished prankster, after all. Their banter was interrupted as a small ball of feathers collided with the kitchen window, and both Hermione and Fred leapt to their feet to rescue a drenched Errol, the erratic family owl that left a path of mayhem and destruction everywhere he went – much like Hermione's favourite Weasley brother.
"It's from Angelina," Fred announced, as he took the letter from the bird's leg, feeding Errol a treat as he did so. He took his wand from the back pocket of his pyjama bottoms and dried the parchment before unfurling it to read. He didn't notice Hermione's face fall as he announced the letter's sender, but Hermione noticed Fred wincing slightly as he read the words on the parchment in front of him.
"What is it?" Hermione asked, leaning over Fred's shoulder to read, before he crumpled up the letter and shoved it in his pocket.
"Nothing," Fred shrugged, and Hermione raised her eyebrow at him.
"Fred Weasley, I've known your brother, Ron, for half my life. Please don't think you can lie to me, when I've had years of sussing out when your brother is fibbing – you're all the same. There's something bothering, so spill." Her assertive tone forced Fred to concede defeat, and as he sat back down at the worn kitchen table, he sighed.
"Things have just been a little tense with me and Angelina lately, that's all. She's got the trials for the World Cup team coming up and she's been really stressed, which is understandable she is an international Quidditch player after all… but I've been doing my best to cheer her up in the way I know best; jokes, pranks, you think it… I've been really thoughtful, as well," He added, "I took her out for a meal the other night, even apparated to Italy because I know that's her favourite cuisine, but all she did was complain that I was taking her away from her training for the evening, and proceeded to talk about her teammates ALL bloody night."
Hermione felt a massive pang of sympathy – the only problem evident in Fred's relationship with Angelina, as far as Hermione could see, was Angelina. Which was slightly problematic, and she didn't know how to break that to Fred when he evidently liked her so much.
"That letter was about a joke I played on her team mate Oliver Wood – I don't know if you remember him from school or not, but I dyed his hair pink to try and cheer her up, but she was just having a go saying I'm ruining her credibility as a professional Quidditch player, and that I need to grow up…" Fred sighed, resting his head in his hands, and looking truly put out.
Hermione reached out and squeezed his should reassuringly. "Don't worry about it, maybe it's just the wrong time of the month or something, Fred, because I'm sure deep down Angelina knows you're doing your best to cheer her up. Once the trials are out, she'll come round, promise."
"You sure, 'Mione?" Fred asked her, pleadingly looking at the brunette witch across the table from him.
"Positive," Hermione smiled, only adding "At least I bloody well hope she gets her act together," to herself.
"Thanks Hermione, you're really good to talk to, you know," Fred admitted. "You're the best, you honestly are. Cm'here,"he said, holding his arms open for a hug.
Hermione grinned into Fred's bare shoulder as he enfolded his arms around her in a warm and honest hug. Her mind wandered back to the last time he'd told her she was the best, and she found herself grinning at the memory.
It had been late one evening and Harry and Ron were practicing for the Keeper trials so she'd had a relatively peaceful evening, with the Common Room to herself, and no one pestering her to do their homework. That was, at least, until the Weasley twins had turned up.
They'd brought with them a massive cardboard box of products, and an adoring fan club with them, also. She'd sat up, miffed that her silence had been disturbed, and her prefect instincts had taken over. She'd chided the students for being out of bed after hours – glad that her Prefect privileges meant she could utilise the Common Room after hours for extended study – and told Fred and George that they "should know better".
Yet her curiosity (and maybe her crush on Fred) had got the better of her, and she'd allowed the boys to stay and work on their inventions on the conditions they dismissed their fan club. Once the gaggle of first years had been dismissed, and a few older girls who'd been lustfully eyeing the Weasley twins, much to their amusement, Hermione had picked up some of the notes the boys had scrawled and read them, fascinated.
There was a fine art and a high skill level for the manufacture of the Weasley Wizard Wheezes products, and although they broke so many school rules that it gave Hermione a headache, she did have to appreciate their intelligence and dedication.
She'd pointed out that using beetle juice in the place of Arrowroot Juice was making their products cause some of the students to come out in unfortunate rashes and Fred had hugged her enthusiastically exclaiming "You're the best, 'Mione!" For apparently that was a problem they'd been struggling to find of the root of for ages – at least that was George's explanation for Fred's sudden outburst.
She'd just smiled secretively to herself, settling back down into her armchair to finish her essay for Professor Binns – already five rolls of parchment longer than in needed to be.
Their hug broke apart and Fred smiled his lopsided grin at her, and little did he know but that tiny gesture – one she was used to by now, as she watched him grin as he managed to pull off a successful manoeuvre in Quidditch, or as he pulled off a good practical joke at breakfast in the Great hall, or that one time she'd helped him with his Transfiguration essay and he'd grinned his thanks at her – made her heart perform a cartwheel in her chest.
It was a shame, Hermione Granger thought, that Angelina Johnson had got her mitts on the freckled Prankster before Hermione had every really gotten a change to know him. It was a shame that Fred seemed smitten with the international Quidditch star, and it was a shame that Hermione cared too much for the redhead to want to stir up even more trouble in his relationship than there already was – something Hermione was perfectly capable of doing. The sad reality was that Fred Weasley thought of Hermione as nothing more than a sister – something which Hermione, for now, had to decided to settle on, as there was little else she could do.
"Morning," Ron chirped enthusiastically, as he bounded down the last few steps, grabbing a loaf of bread, and not even stopping to cut it, tore of a chunk and chewed loudly. Fred grinned, and he stood up from where he was slouched on the table, leaning on it next to Hermione.
"Mornin' brother of mine… someone's unusually chirpy this morning – someone's been getting some," he grinned, as Ron went a shade of crimson.
Hermione sighed inwardly to herself, already her morning silence had been interrupted and it was only eight in the morning. It looked set to be a long two weeks, she thought as the house began to come to life, faucet taps moaning, the stairs squeaking as teenage boys bounded down, and chairs scraped the wooden floorboards. Molly bustled into the kitchen, pressing a croissant into Hermione's hand before she even had a chance to say no, ordering her sons around despite the fact all of them were a good few heads taller than her. A long two weeks indeed, Hermione sighed to herself as she picked up her book and made her way up to her room.