Title: Ice Cream
Tags: Post-Hogwarts, Post-war, George is dead
Notes: Written for an ask meme on Tumblr in May 2017. ff-sunset-oasis requested Fred/Hermione or Daphne/Pansy based on the prompt "Who crawls through someone's window at 4AM to go for ice cream?!"
Hermione's eyes flew open, her heart thundering like a galloping hippogriff, but she wasn't sure what had awoken her. She stayed still, listening for something–
There it was again. At her window, the slow skid of the pane rising, the creak of wood as someone slipped into her room.
She clenched her lips together, trying to steady her breathing, trying to stifle the sound. Slowly, so slowly, she slid her hand under her pillow and gripped her wand.
A floorboard creaked on the right side of her bed.
In one fluid motion, she sat up and pointed her wand at the intruder, the tip sparking as panic began to overwhelm her.
"Whoa! Whoa there!" a familiar voice said.
Hermione reached over to the lamp on her bedside table and turned it on, the illumination blinding her. "Fred?"
"One and the same! Why don't you put that away?"
Her heart began to calm as she blinked owlishly. Once she adjusted to the light, she saw that it was Fred standing next to her bed, looking thin and wan, but better than he had the last time she'd seen him.
She realized she was still pointing her wand at him and lowered her arm. "What are you doing here?"
"I had this brilliant idea and couldn't sleep. I need your help."
Concern colored her voice as she asked, "What is it? Are you all right?"
"Yeah, yeah, but I need you to come with me."
She pushed her blankets aside and slid her feet into her slippers before asking, "What's wrong?"
"What's wrong? What's wrong? What's wrong is it's summer and Fortescue's is closed and there is nowhere else in Diagon Alley to get ice cream. That's what's wrong!"
Hermione froze, her brow knitting in confusion. "What?"
"So my solution is to open an ice cream shop. Or have an ice cream stand inside WWW, I'm not really sure yet. But not just any ice cream! No ma'am! This ice cream will, of course, be made with magic. I'm thinking ice cream that brings back happy memories. What do you think about that?"
"You… you climbed through my window at–" Hermione glanced at her bedside clock "–four in the morning to tell me about ice cream?"
Fred's lips stretched into that familiar mischievous grin that made Hermione's stomach both sink and flutter in anticipation. "No, I climbed through your window at four in the morning so we could eat ice cream."
Hermione shook her head, wondering if she was dreaming or if grogginess was making her delusional.
"I don't understand."
"What I'm saying is I have this brilliant idea for magical ice cream that makes people relive happy memories, and, as usual when I get an idea, I can't sleep until I've started working on it. Will you please come with me and help me try out different flavors?"
"Me?" Hermione's eyes widened in incredulity. "Why me?"
A pause followed her question, and then Fred sat down on the edge of her bed, his back to her. His shoulders slumped as he rubbed his face, his arms trembling. Fred had only been out of St. Mungo's for a week, and Hermione could see that he was pushing himself now when he should have stayed in bed to finish his recovery.
"Because George isn't here and Mum told me how you… how often you stayed at my bedside at St. Mungo's."
Hermione's cheeks burned, lips trembling. She'd seen the speculative looks from the Weasleys when they'd arrive at St. Mungo's to find her already there, sitting vigilant at Fred's side as they waited to see if he would wake up and if the wounds he'd received at the Battle of Hogwarts would heal. She wasn't sure what had driven her, but after George's death, the idea of losing Fred, too, had been an impossible reality to face.
"I know it didn't mean anything. You and Ron–"
"Nothing has happened between Ron and me," she said, her voice soft. She'd kissed Ron at the Battle of Hogwarts and he'd reciprocated it, but after George's death, he'd retreated from her when she'd needed him most. She still loved him as much as she always had, but something had shifted at the battle and afterward. Both of them had changed.
Fred didn't turn around, so Hermione crawled across her bed and sat down beside him. She took his hand, stilling his trembling fingers with her own.
"Where in the world are we going to eat ice cream at four in the morning?"
Fred looked at her, dark circles under his eyes from exhaustion and pain and grief, but his brown gaze was sparkling and warm. "I know just the place on the Muggle side of London."
Hermione couldn't help but catch his excitement. Her heart galloped in her chest and her fingers tightened around his. She smiled. "Let's go, then."