Scars & Freckles
A/N: Right, so this is my first Fremione/ Harry Potter fiction, but I figure you can never have too many Fremione fics (there aren't nearly enough, in fact). As always, I do not own any of J.K's original characters or inventions, nor do I own the cover art for this story- that belongs to the ever amazing artist Burdge. Also, this kind of goes without saying, but Fred's alive here (and everywhere else, I don't know what you psychos are talking about he was just stunned at the end of Deathly Hallows).
Anyways, let me know what you think and I hope you enjoy!
There had been something between Fred and Hermione for years, something beyond friendship, an ongoing flirtation that neither of them was willing to acknowledge, but was definitely there. Over the years, they had grown close. There were times when Hermione had felt closer to Fred and George than she had to Ron- especially when they were in one of their fights. Things came to a head the summer after Hermione's sixth year though, when she turned up at the Burrow only one day after getting off the Hogwarts Express. She had waved it off as nothing, apologizing to Molly for the intrusion, but begging for somewhere to stay. The older woman had been more than happy to oblige, assuring Hermione that she was always welcome.
"But what about you're parents?" she'd asked. "They've barely seen you."
"They understood," Hermione shrugged. "I just think that, things being as they are, I'd be better off staying here. You never know what you're missing in the Muggle world."
There were very few people that might have noticed how upset she had been at the mention of her parents, but Fred had. He had always been able to tell what she was thinking, even before they had become good friends.
He could tell by the twitch of her mouth that she was about to give him a long lecture about his pranks, or by the slightest raise of her eyebrow that she had found something funny, despite being against the rules.
When it came to Hermione, he seemed to have a sixth sense- which was why he followed her outside later that afternoon when she went for some air.
When he caught up to her she was hiding behind the shed, sitting in the dirt with her face buried in her hands, her entire body shaking with sobs.
"Hermione," Fred crouched down and put a hand on her shoulder. "Hermione, what's happened?"
"Nothing," she shook her head. "Nothing, I'm just being silly."
"I bet you're not. How about you tell me, I'm an expert on silly you know."
Usually this would have put a smile on her face, but now she only sobbed harder.
"Hermione," he sat and put an arm around her. "Whatever it is, I'm sure we can figure it out."
"I already have," she sobbed. "That's the problem."
"I'm sorry, you're going to have to explain a little more," he rubbed her shoulder encouragingly. "Come on, tell old Freddy all your worries."
"I can't," she shook her head. "I can't."
She sounded broken, as though someone had ripped her heart out and stomped on it, and hearing her sound so broken made Fred feel like he was breaking too. An intense need to protect her rose in his chest, mingled with sadness and hostility towards whoever had done this to her.
"Was it Ron?" he asked, trying not to sound too angry.
"No," she shook her head. "No, it has nothing to do with him."
"Good, I'd kill the little prick."
Finally, the smallest hint of a laugh- though it was still mixed with sobs.
"Alright, so it's not my git little brother. Is it one of the other gits living here at the moment? Did Phlegm say something?"
"That's an awful thing to call a person," Hermione scolded halfheartedly.
"Ah, there you are," Fred smiled down at her. "Knew my little Herms was in there somewhere. So it's not anyone here. Shall we continue playing 20 Questions?"
Hermione finally looked up at him, her eyes red from crying, her lip between her teeth- a classic sign of nerves that Fred was quick to notice.
"Whatever it is, you can tell me."
"It's my parents," she said, her voice barely more than a whisper. "I... I couldn't tell them."
"About the war?"
"About anything," she shook her head. "They don't know anything that's been going on the last few years and... and now they never will."
She sobbed again and turned into Fred, allowing him to hold her while she cried into his chest.
"What do you mean they never will?" he asked, rubbing her back. "Hermione, what's happened?"
"I erased their memories."
"Well, not erased exactly," she tried to explain. "I modified them. They think that their names are Wendell and Monica, and that they live in Australia."
"So you sent them away," he concluded. "To keep them safe."
"I- I had to keep them safe," she nodded. "I couldn't let Him find them, or tell them what I was doing. He would torture them. So... so I had to make sure they would never know."
"Hermione," it finally dawned on Fred what she was saying. "Hermione, do your parents know who you are?"
"No," she choked out. "They don't know they have a daughter, or that she's a witch. As far as they know, they're just regular people living out their dreams of moving to Australia. They've never had or wanted kids. That way, if I don't make it-"
"-Hey," he interrupted. "You can't think like that. You're going to get through this. We all are."
"You don't know that," Hermione shook her head. "You don't! This is a war, Fred! So many people died last time, and He's so much more powerful now. We've lost so many already."
"We're going to make it," he repeated. "I don't care what happened last time. We're going to live through this, and we're going to make You-Know-Who wish he never came back. And when all this is over, you'll be able to go find them again."
"I wish I believed that," she sniffed. "But I need to be logical about this, and logic says everyone isn't going to live through this."
"Damn logic," Fred shook his head.
"Hermione, listen to me. I know that logic is where you feel safe, it's how your mind works, but right now we need more than logic. We need hope. That's the only thing that's going to get us through what's coming. But if you can't hope, then I'll be hopeful enough for the both of us."
She looked up again, studying his face closely- the same look she had when studying something that she hadn't quite grasped yet.
"Okay," she finally nodded.
"You have hope?"
"I'm willing to take some of yours," she smiled through her tears.
"Well at least that's something," he wrapped his arm tighter around her shoulder and kissed the top of her head. "You're going to get them back, love."
They stayed behind the shed until George came looking for them at dinner, Hermione's head resting on Fred's shoulder while she cried, trying to come to terms with what she had done.
- - PAGE BREAK - -
Since her tearful confession, Hermione couldn't seem to go more than an hour or two without seeing Fred. In the mornings, despite the fact that they no longer lived there, she would find him and George sitting at the table having breakfast. He would pop in while she sorted through her things during the day, getting ready to leave when Harry joined them, just to chat. At dinner, he always sat beside her and they were always the last ones up at night, talking until the wee hours of the morning about everything from Hogwarts to his latest ideas for the shop, which Hermione was more than happy to help him improve on.
"You know," Fred commented one night while she doodled on a piece of parchment. "I never thought you would want to help with this."
"The shop," he waved to the parchment covered table in front of them. "Pranks, jokes, you always yelled at us."
"Because you took advantage of poor, naive first years and got in the way of your own educations," she looked up at him. "I quite like some of your work, though. And I can't deny that it's extraordinary magic."
"And the truth comes out!" Fred grinned. "You liked our pranks!"
"I appreciated the skill behind them," Hermione corrected. "I did not, however, appreciate that they were aimed at Ronald on a regular basis."
"He usually had it coming."
"He didn't," she scolded. "You were just being mean."
"That's what brothers do," he shrugged. "It's not our fault he can't take a joke."
"I'm not saying it is, I'm just saying that it was unkind of you to victimize him. And it was even worse when you tricked the poor first years into things."
"Now, Hermione, don't go giving me the Prefect lecture now," he tsked. "You've admitted that you think I'm a genius, you can't take it back now."
"I did no such thing!"
"Shall I find a pensieve and refresh your memory?"
"Frederic Gideon Weasley, you are twisting my words!" Hermione scolded, though the smile on her face betrayed her.
"Come on, just admit it," he poked her in the ribs. "You think I'm a genius. The brilliant Hermione Granger has admitted that there may be someone whose intellect is on the same plane as hers!"
"I certainly didn't say that!" she scoffed. "Who's helping who, here?"
"Well I think that's a matter of opinion."
"I think you're a cocky git."
They glared at each other for a second, waiting for the other to back down, then Fred leaned in and kissed her. When the surprise wore off, Hermione didn't pull away. Instead she moved closer, her arms wrapping around his neck as his hand tangled in her hair. When they separated a few minutes later, Fred had an embarrassed look on his face and Hermione was chewing her lip nervously.
"Well," Fred broke the silence. "I guess that settles things."
"Excuse me?" Hermione frowned. "What exactly did that settle?"
"The great Hermione Granger wouldn't stoop to snogging those below her station."
"You're a prat," she laughed.
"A prat you'd be willing to snog again?" he asked hopefully.
Hermione studied his face, something he'd noticed her doing a lot over the last couple weeks, her eyebrows knit together in concentration, her bottom lip between her teeth. He was about to lose hope, to give her a sheepish smile and apologize, but then she smiled.
- - PAGE BREAK - -
Their relationship went from zero to sixty in no time flat. The world was collapsing around them and they had found something to cling to- each other. In the time that Hermione wasn't preparing to leave with Ron and Harry, she was with Fred. The logical part of her mind kept screaming at her to let him go, to break things off before she was in too deep- before they both got hurt. But despite all that logic, she stayed, because in all the pain and fear and uncertainty, Fred was solid and wonderful and safe. The thought of losing that, of having to go through that pain, was just too much to bear.
- - PAGE BREAK - -
"So everyone understands the plan?" Moody asked.
They were gathered in the Weasley family living room, going over the plan to get Harry. They had been over it what felt like a thousand times, Hermione could have recited it backwards, forwards, upside down or in Gobbledegook if asked, but she still had an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach.
"It'll be fine," Fred whispered.
"We leave in ten," Moody continued. "Be ready!"
"This is going to work, right?" Ron asked, joining Hermione and the twins as everyone broke off into smaller groups. "I mean, it's a good plan."
"It's a good plan," Hermione agreed.
"Other than the fact that Mundungus came up with it," George frowned. "Anyone else think that's a bit odd?"
"Moody says it's good," Fred pointed out. "If Mad-Eye says it's good, I'm with him."
"He's never steered us wrong," George agreed.
"Except for that time-"
"No," Fred interrupted Hermione quickly. "That doesn't count. It wasn't actually him."
"I'm just saying," she held up her hands.
"You're going to bring him back, right?" Ginny joined them, wringing her hands anxiously. "It's going to be fine, you're all going to be back in a few hours. Right?"
"Yeah," George wrapped his arm around his sister. "We'll be back with your scrawny boyfriend before you know it."
"He's not my boyfriend," she pursed her lips. "He doesn't want me to get hurt."
"Ah, well," George looked to his twin desperately.
"When we get back, we'll hold him and you can beat some sense into him," Fred shrugged.
"That'll work," she smiled.
Hermione had never been so happy to see Harry Potter as she was when he opened the front door of 4 Privet Drive- she practically pounced on him, holding tightly to his shirt as if he might slip through her fingers if she didn't.
"Careful love," Fred said as he passed them. "You're going to make a bloke jealous."
Harry looked back and forth between the two, a confused look on his face and Hermione let out a gurgle of laughter.
"Fred and I have been..." she paused, searching for the right word, but George didn't give her a chance.
"Snogging," he finished the thought for her. "Anywhere and everywhere, with no regard for the scarring images they're inflicting on the rest of the world."
"Piss off," Fred shoved his twin good naturedly.
"That's not how I would have put it," Hermione laughed. "But I suppose it sums up the situation."
"Lovely, now that we're all caught up on your personal life Miss Granger," Mad-Eye snarled. "Can we focus on the issue at hand."
"Watcha, Harry!" Tonks pulled Harry from Hermione's grasp. "We've missed you, we have."
"Very much," Remus smiled warmly.
"And you haven't heard the news!" Tonks bubbled excitedly.
"What news?" Harry asked.
"Remus and I," she held out her left hand. "We got married."
"That's brilliant!" Harry hugged them both excitedly. "Congratulations!"
"Yes, well done!" Mad-Eye said sarcastically. "Now, if you wouldn't mind doing your ruddy jobs!"
"Come off it, Mad-Eye," Tonks glared at her mentor. "It won't kill him to hear the news."
"It might!" Moody argued. "Constant vigilance!"
"We know!" everyone groaned, earning another scolding from the Auror as Harry greeted the rest of the party and lead them into the kitchen.
There were fourteen of them in all, Ron and Hermione, Fred and George, Bill and Fleur, Hagrid and Mr. Weasley, Mad-Eye and Mundungus and Tonks and Remus, all of them watching Harry closely, varying amounts of love and devotion in their eyes. Love and devotion that was reflected on Harry's face ten fold.
"Alright," Mad-Eye's booming voice drew everyone's attention. "As you've probably heard, we've had to switch to Plan B."
"Yeah, Dedalus said something about it," Harry nodded. "Didn't say what it was, though."
"Well, Thicknesse cut our options down quite a lot, so we'll be using the only transport method that the Trace can't detect- brooms, Thestrals and Hagrid's motorbike."
Hermione could tell that Harry saw the obvious flaw in this plan, but he held his tongue and waited for the rest of it to be explained.
"No! No! No way!"
"I told you he'd take it like this," Hermione crossed her arms smugly.
"If you think I'm going to let six people risk their lives-"
"-Because it's certainly the first time," Ron interrupted, rolling his eyes.
"This is different!" Harry insisted. "Pretending to be me, it-it's..."
"Well none of us really fancy it," Fred offered. "Imagine if something goes wrong and we're stuck as scrawny, specky gits forever!"
"Yeah," George agreed. "You think Mione'd still snog him if he was stuck like that?"
Hermione elbowed them both in the ribs as Harry argued that they needed his cooperation.
"Yeah, thirteen of us against one of you," Fred rolled his eyes. "We've got no chance, especially since you can't use magic."
"Funny," Harry glared. "You're really amusing."
"Hermione thinks so," Fred shrugged.
"I'm going to hit you," she hissed.
"If it has to come to force, it will," Moody assured him. "But everyone here has made their choice. You're not changing their minds."
Without giving him another chance to argue, Hermione yanked a clump of hair from the back of his neck and made her way over to Mad-Eye.
"Bloody hell, Hermione!"
"You could have just done it," she shrugged.
Moody grunted his thanks as she dropped the hairs into the flask he carried, then ordered the fake Potters to line up and take a swig.
It was a surreal feeling, watching her closest friends and boyfriend transform into her best friend, shrinking and stretching, hair changing colour, noses growing. It wasn't something she wanted to have to experience again, that was for sure.
Once they were all identical, a fact that Fred and George were more than happy to shout about excitedly, they changed into matching clothes and paired off.
"Hey," Fred (she assumed it was Fred, at least) grabbed her hand before she could get too far. "Be safe, yeah?"
"Always," she smiled. "You too."
"I'm the King of safe!"
Hermione snorted and turned to Kingsley, who was waiting to help her onto the back of a Thestral.
Somehow, through the blur of curses and screams, she and Kingsley made it to their portkey and back to the Burrow. By the time they were spat back into the garden, the polyjuice potion was wearing off and Hermione felt herself returning to normal. Harry came running towards her, pulling her into a fierce hug as Remus and Kingsley raised their wands to each other, confirming their identities.
"Who else is back?" Kingsley demanded.
"Only Hagrid, Harry, George and I," Remus filled him in.
"What about Fred?" Hermione asked anxiously. "He was- he was supposed to be back before us. And Ron?"
"We haven't heard," Harry shook his head. "But I'm sure they'll be back soon."
Hermione chewed her lip nervously, then realized that George hadn't come out with them.
"He was hurt," Harry explained. "He's lost an ear."
"Lost an-" Hermione rushed towards the house, leaving the rest of them to wait for the others.
"Ginny!" she pulled her friend into a hug.
"Thank Merlin!" Ginny let out a relieved breath. "Are you alright?"
"Fine," Hermione promised. "How's George?"
"Mum's patched him up the best she could, but she says there's no way to reattach it," she explained. "It was cursed off by dark magic, there's no repairing that."
"But he'll recover?" Hermione asked anxiously.
"He'll be fine," Molly joined them with a basket of medical supplies. "Hermione, thank goodness you're back."
As they spoke, there was a crash from the kitchen and Arthur Weasley came running in, shouting at Kingsley to get off and let him see his son.
"Fred!" Hermione rushed to her boyfriend, who looked pale, but uninjured.
"You're alright?" he demanded, holding her tightly.
"I'm fine, and you?"
"Yeah, fine. Where's George?"
Hermione nodded towards the living room nervously, following Fred closely as he rushed to his twin's side.
"George!" his face grew even paler as he sank to his knees beside his brother, a lump of emotion caught in his throat.
At the sound of Fred's voice, George began to stir.
"How do you feel Georgie?" his mother asked anxiously.
He reached up and groped the side of his head weakly before mumbling, "Saintlike."
"What's wrong with him?" Fred demanded, a panicked look on his face. "Is his mind affected?"
Hermione put a comforting hand on Fred's shoulder and turned her attention back to George.
"Saintlike," he repeated, opening his eyes and smiling weakly. "I'm holy. You see Fred? Holy, holey. Get it?"
Hermione felt the tension seep out of Fred's body, his shoulders loosening and his head dropping in relief.
"Pathetic!" he gave his twin a disgusted look. "The whole world of ear-related humour and you come up with 'Holey'?"
"Give me a minute," George smiled. "I've only just woken up. On the one hand though, maybe Mum will be able to tell us apart now."
Mrs. Weasley let out something between a sob and a laugh as she clutched her husband's arm and smiled down at her son.
"Hullo Harry- you are Harry, right?" George asked, looking around him.
"Yeah," Harry chuckled.
"Well at least we got you back," he nodded sternly. "But why aren't Bill and Ron huddled round my sickbed?"
"They're not back yet," his mother informed him, making the smile on his face disappear.
Hermione noticed Harry and Ginny slip out of the room then, while the rest of them fussed over George. She had taken a seat on the coffee table, her hand never leaving Fred's shoulder. Once he was sure that George was alright, he buried his face in her lap, his shoulders shaking.
"Oi, stop that!" George scolded, weakly attempting to smack him. "Mione, hit him for me, would you? I can't quite reach."
"I will do no such thing," she hissed, stroking Fred's hair calmly. "He was worried about you- we all were."
"Now don't you start crying," George threatened. "I won't have the both of you lose it on me."
"I'm not going to cry George," she rolled her eyes.
"So you really weren't worried about me, is that what you're trying to say?"
"George Fabian, I don't care if you're on your sick bed, I will beat you," she threatened.
This brought a smile back to his face and she could tell that it had brightened Fred's spirits, as he finally lifted his head to look at his brother again.
"You alright, brother?" George asked.
"Yeah," he nodded. "You?"
"Right as rain."
- - PAGE BREAK - -
After convincing Harry that he couldn't leave that night, Hermione made her way up to Fred and George's old room. Nobody had been eager to leave the house after the news about Mad-Eye and Molly had been unwilling to let George out of her sight for a few more days, until his ear had healed properly.
She had always been able to tell the difference between them, so she didn't even glance at the bandage around George's head as she slipped into the room and headed straight for Fred's bed, crawling in beside him.
"Hello," he shuffled over, giving her an odd look. "What brings you here?"
"Well I've been snogging this bloke that used to sleep here," she shrugged. "Thought I might find him."
"Oh yeah? What's he look like?" Fred played along.
"Well he's got this bright red hair, and freckles all over the place, and this little dimple in his cheek when he smiles."
"Sounds like a handsome bloke," he puffed his chest out slightly. "Bet he's in good shape too."
"Oh he is," Hermione nodded. "He used to play Quidditch, you see, so he's very strong. He can be a bit of a git, though. And he's rather cocky."
"Alright," he poked her in the ribs. "That's quite enough of that."
"Is George alright?" she asked, settling in beside him.
"Yeah, Mum gave him a Dreamless Sleep potion so he'll be out till morning."
"Good, he needs the rest."
"Are you alright?" Fred asked, his arm snaking around her waist and pulling her closer.
"Yeah," she nodded. "Tonight was... it was terrifying. Fred, I saw Him. He was right there in front of me."
"I know," he held her tighter.
"It just made everything so much more real, you know? We're not making plans or speculating anymore, this is it. It's happening."
"Yeah," he sighed.
They lay quietly for a few minutes, relishing in the safety of each other until Fred spoke.
"I wish you wouldn't leave," he said quietly.
"No," he turned onto his side so he was facing her. "Tonight, while we were flying, I was terrified. Not just for myself and George, but for you too. I've never felt like this about anyone, been so attached to their well-being, and you're going to leave and I won't be able to protect you."
"Fred," she took his face in her hands. "I know. I feel the same way. I knowhow much this is hurting you, because it's hurting me too. But I have to go. I have to."
"Yeah," he rested his forehead against hers. "I know you do. Just- just promise me..."
"Anything," Hermione said earnestly. "Anything you want, love."
"Promise that when all this is over, we'll be together," he pleaded. "Or at least try to be, because I know it hasn't been long, but this is... something."
"Yeah," she smiled. "It's definitely something. Something really good."
"So you promise?"
"As long as you promise me that same," she agreed.
They sealed the promise with a kiss, and Hermione didn't think there had ever been a more passionate or solemn kiss in history. Both their futures rested in that kiss and the night that followed it. It was the night that she would remember every time she got scared in the coming months.
Every time she felt like there wasn't any hope, when she was ready to just give up, she would think about the promise she had made to Fred- the promise to get back to him- and his promise to have hope for the both of them.
- - PAGE BREAK - -
A week later, they were gone.
The last moment she and Fred had spent together had been during a dance at Bill and Fleur's wedding, before the Deatheaters arrived. Fred had shoved her towards Harry, shouted at them to run, and then he was gone, and she was standing in an alley in Muggle London, desperately trying to recall every last detail about him before the image of his smile slipped through her mind.
- - PAGE BREAK - -
The night that she heard his voice over the radio, she burst into tears. She had almost forgotten what it sounded like after so long apart, how petulant he could sound when he didn't get what he wanted, how you could tell just from his voice that he was smiling, and she couldn't decide whether hearing him made her blissfully happy or desperately sad. They seemed to be the same thing, mixing together in her chest and bringing with them more pain than she could have imagined.
And then it had all gone wrong.
She would have nightmares about that night for the rest of her life, would remember the feeling of excruciating pain as the Cruciatus curse ripped through her body over and over again, feel the knife carving into her arm and scarring her forever. But that same night, she had heard his voice, had heard him joke with his brother and friends, and remembering that made all the pain she was withstanding just a little bit easier.
As terrible as that night had been, it was also what got her through the following month until she saw him again from across the Room of Requirement, their eyes locking and their feet moving of their own volition, pulling them together- if only for a few minutes.
The next time she saw him, the building was falling down- and he was underneath it.