Fred stared down at the pencil he'd been trying to balance on the end of his nose. The library had been empty for the last three hours – just another sign of the slump between the beginning of the semester and mid-terms. A loud thump from the counter drew his attention away from his balancing act and he frowned as the pencil fell to the floor. The sound of a throat being cleared came from behind the stack and Fred rolled his eyes. Didn't they know the proper time to check a book out was an hour before an exam?
His chair slid easily across the old carpet and came to a rest in front of the counter. The stack was tall enough that he couldn't see if there was someone behind it or if Lee was playing a prank on him again.
"Sorry, but I'm afraid we can't check the books out to themselves. Last time we did that we nearly lost the Library of Alexandria," he said as he stood up.
The woman who appeared on the other side only stared at him. Unlike most of the women who came into the library this one didn't seem to have a sense of humor. Fred gave her a grin, but she only frowned at him before digging in her bag for her student ID.
His grin fell as he swiped the card and began checking out the books. "Right, no joking in the library. Forgot that rule," he muttered. If anything her frown deepened. Never one to be discouraged by a sour face, Fred plastered on his best grin. "Raining cats and dogs still?"
"We've been in a drought for the last three months," she said curtly before pulling out her phone.
Fred sighed and finished scanning in the massive stack of books that consisted mostly of sociology books and an old battered copy of Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors he was certain hadn't been checked out since his parents were born. The only other communication between the two was his remainder that they were due in two weeks time.
Blinking back a hangover, Fred laid his head down on the desk and yawned. He counted himself lucky that any sane student on campus would still be wrapped up in their own bed, nursing their own hangover and reliving the Gryffons defeat of their biggest rivals, the dread Des Moines Dragons. Especially when they remembered that the Gryffons hadn't won a game in the last ten years. Whoever this Potter kid was, he was a hell of a quarterback.
With a loud thump, a large canvas bag appeared on the counter in front of him and he stared at the book that followed it as his brain tried to grind itself into gear. Finally remembering where he was, Fred pushed his sunglasses further up his nose and took the book, wincing at the loud beeping nose the scanner made. Another ten books were scanned in, each beep driving a railroad stake that much further into his head. When the bag was finally empty he sighed in relief and leaned back in the chair.
The student thanked him and he waved, not bothering to look up at them as he tried to massage the pain away from his eyes. When the pounding was back to a manageable level he glanced at the last book he'd checked in and his eyes widened in surprise. The Essential Lenny Bruce. Fred grinned – he thought he and George were the only ones to appreciate the real classics – and leaned over the counter to watch as the curly haired young woman turned the corner. Whoever she was, Fred had to give her credit for her excellent reading tastes.
"Then the octopus rushes up to the stage and shouts, 'Isn't there anyone man enough to handle this?'" Fred said, flinging his arms out to the side theatrically. Lee snorted and began laughing hard enough he had to grip the counter to keep from falling over.
The sound of a throat being cleared broke through Lee's laughter and Fred spun around to face the desk. To his joy, it was the one person he'd been waiting around all week to try to make smile. "A book fell on my head. I can only blame my shelf." Lee chuckled behind him.
The brunette only raised an eyebrow at him as she held out her student ID. Fred's smile drooped at her look. "Outside of a book, a dog is a man's best friend. Inside a dog it's too dark to read," he told her as he scanned her ID.
"I'm more of a cat person," she said.
"Of course you are," he muttered. Neither said another word as he continued scanning the books in until Fred came to the last book. "Love in the Time of Cholera? Isn't that a bit morbid?"
She flushed and grabbed the book out of his hand, storming out the door with the rest of the books before Fred could say anything else. He managed to get a glance at her ID before she stormed back in and snatched it out of his hands.
Hermione Jane Granger. The romantic satirist interested in comedic greats.
Fred could live with that.
"Really Ron, I doubt Lavender was that embarrassed by your maroon suit. If anything she should be more embarrassed by that nose of yours. Cape Canaveral's been trying to set up a satellite station on it for years to find alien life," Fred said. He shifted his cell phone to his other ear as he sorted through the library's return box.
There was a snort at the counter and Fred glanced up to find a dark haired student waiting for him. "Sorry Ron. You'll have to ask Ginny on this one," he said hurriedly as he hung up the phone. "What can I do for you?"
"Just needed to check this one out." He held up a thin, leather bound book.
Fred squinted at it and grinned. "Ah yes, that old, never fails dating manual. The Art of War. Managed to get my prom date thanks to old Sun Tzu," he said as he slide the ID through the scanner. "Then she introduced me to her Gran when I followed his second book, The Arts and Crafts of War."
The man laughed at that. "Should have read it in high school. Wasn't able to get more than a pity date."
"Harry, I refuse to be called a pity date," a woman's voice called out. "If anything you were my pity date. I did turn down two other offers to go with you." A stack of books was set down next to 'Harry's' one.
"I didn't mean you were the pity date. And McLaggen's offer doesn't count," he shot back with a smile.
"I wasn't including him," she said as she shoved her ID towards Fred. He smiled at her but she quickly turned her attention back to Harry. "Besides, when have you ever cared about whether you go stag or not?"
Harry shrugged and Fred noticed the slight tension in his shoulders. Silence fell between the two and Fred couldn't help but wonder what was going on between the two. He glanced up between scanning an old grammar book and an equally boring psychology book. Hermione was staring at Harry as she chewed on her bottom lip while Harry tried to look everywhere but at Hermione. Interesting.
The silence between the two was only broken once Fred dropped the stack of books onto the counter in front of him. "Due November 1st," he said with a forced cheerfulness.
Harry nodded at him and reached over to carry Hermione's books as well as his own slim novel. She gave Harry a small smile and slipped her arm through his as they turned towards the door.
Fred watched as they walked out of the library, a slight frown on his face. He refused to consider that the source of his growing indigestion had anything to do with the couple quickly vanishing from sight and decided he'd rather blame the day old burrito he'd had for lunch.
"I'm sorry, I'm afraid all our books on Houdini have disappeared. You might be able to find Jimmy Hoffa if you look in the basement though," Fred said as a stack of books appeared in front of him two weeks later. He leaned around the stack and turned his brightest smile towards Hermione.
"Do you ever stop?" she asked with a sigh, running a hand through her frazzled hair.
"Never," he said with a wink. "Bringing sunshine to all our patrons is the highlight of my day."
Fred leaned over the counter and looked out the front doors. "Huh, so it is. As raindrops go, two's company, three's a cloud."
Hermione snorted and Fred turned back to face her with a grin. "So she does have a sense of humor." She frowned and shoved her ID towards him. "Alright, alright, I'll get on with it," he said as he sat back in his chair and began to scan in the books. "But did you hear the one about the orange? I hear it's –"
"Pretty juicy, yes, yes, I have heard it. Look I've class in a few minutes, so if you can hurry it up I'd appreciate it," she said quickly, glancing up at the clock behind him.
"As you wish," he muttered. He reached up for the next book just in time to catch a blush rising to her checks and he frowned in confusion. "Due back before Thanksgiving break," he said.
"Thanks," she said softly as she began to stuff the books into her bag. She made to leave, but paused and turned back to him. "Your name's not Wesley, right?"
Fred snorted. "Nah, Weasley. Fred Weasley."
Hermione bit down a grin and she nodded at him. "Hermione Granger," she said before turning back out into the downpour outside.
For those too young to know, Lenny Bruce was a standup comedian/satirist from the 1960's and influenced quite a number of famous comedians, not to mention his obscenity charges,
Part one of two for reviewer fernitron007 who made me laugh harder than I've laughed in the longest time. Apologies for playing with the prompt a bit, but as usual these characters would rather control themselves rather than me controlling them.