Jedi Tess of Gryffindor
Summary: Credit to Echo for inspiring the notion of 'Odd Couples.' Joker Fred Weasley finds himself falling for the most unlikely person – will George let him live it down?
A/N: Yes, this has been edited for "Order of the Phoenix" canon accuracy. Since it was written originally for the fourth year summer, I've had to do A LOT of editing. That, and as a kind and very correct reviewer pointed out, Eloise was getting rather Mary Sue in the third chapter. I re-read it a few times and saw what the reviewer meant. Thanks you, HecatonchiresLM. I know I like the revised chappy three much, much better. Hope you like it, too!
One other thing I wanted to respond to was a long review from Brophs, who was wondering just how overweight Eloise is, as I'm never specific. Good question, but here's the thing you've got to understand about this character. I've alluded to the teasing Eloise gets about being whatever weight she is and she obviously has very low self-esteem in that area, but I'm never actually said she's fat, have I? This is sort of beside the point – the point is is that far, far too many authors put emphasis on the unnatural beauty of their characters as a means of creating a love story (myself included) and this story's whole basis came about from trying to disprove that! The whole point is that it does not matter. For all we know, Eloise could be curvy, not fat. Point is, that's not the point. The point is that Fred has found something in her (although he doesn't know what it is yet, poor sod) that makes him appreciate everything about her. Her appearance is completely immaterial. The only thing he really ever obsesses about is her smile. But again, it's not her "full lips" or her "perfect teeth". It's the illumination. I have a friend who's no one's idea of conventionally beautiful, but her smile makes her glow. I'm sure some of you know what I mean. It's all about the "inner you" (be the wind, be one with the inner child, etc).
The moral of this story is love who you are, because you are you. I heard that somewhere . . . dunno where, but it stuck and as I get older, I realize how completely true it is. I'm glad so many of you seem to identify with Eloise. Know I do! I'm just lucky enough to be surrounded by strong, wonderful women as examples.
Thanks again for reading and leaving such thoughtful reviews, all, and for your patience with my severe lack of updates.
P.S. I'd just like to add that I'm tickled pink that my odd-pairing inspiration, now echo the cranky pants reviewed recently and evidently liked the story. Right back atcha, echo!
Fred Weasley, Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes co-founder and co-CEO, strolled jauntily down the crowded street of Diagon Alley, feeling thoroughly pleased. Thanks to Fred and his brother George's new hero, Harry Potter, they were now rich! Had it not been for Harry's more than charitable donation of one-thousand Galleons to the WWW's cause, Fred and his twin would not have been operating two joke shops (one out of Diagon Alley and one out of Hogsmeade). If it hadn't been for Harry Potter, Fred and George would not have been one of Diagon Alley's most successful independent merchants and Fred would not have been wearing fifty-Galleon dragonhide boots.
And George would not have been wearing a dashing moonstone ring in his left eyebrow. Fred grinned. He'd thought about getting one, but decided he liked people being able to distinguish between him and his identical twin, so had instead opted for two studs in his right ear - a gold topaz in his cartilage and a ruby in his lobe.
At the moment, though, Fred was not focused on his newly acquired jewelry. He had just closed up WWW early to help Ron and Ginny pick out birthday presents for Harry and Hermione, and had insisted on footing the bill for both the special addition 'Advanced Transfiguration, For the Freakishly Intelligent' for Hermione and the brand-new sets of Quidditch wrist, shin, and elbow guards for Harry.
And he'd done it just because he COULD.
"Oi! Fred – or is that George?" Fred squinted down the street and grinned as the recent turned eighteen-year-old Lee Jordan came hurrying toward him through the crowd.
"It is Fred - recognized those stupid earrings," Lee said triumphantly. "Good to see you, mate."
"Likewise, I'm sure," Fred said with a little bow. He hadn't seen Lee since the twins had arranged for him to take over management of their new Hogsmeade branch of WWW right after he'd graduated Hogwarts last June. Their dark friend had an amazing head for business and had taken over setting up the shop and inventory. In just two months, the grand opening had commenced. Fred had been unable to attend, as someone had to see to the shop in Diagon Alley, but George had told him it had gone over spectacularly and prospects were up, thanks to Lee's good sense.
"Look, you've got to come check out Eyelops'," Lee was saying now. "They've got this amazing owl – it's exactly half purple and half yellow. It's brilliant, but it must cost a fortune. Come on!" Fred had to grin as he followed his best friend through the crowds. When they got together, it was hard to remember that he and Lee were of age and successful entrepreneurs.
And so Fred allowed himself to be dragged off to check out strange specimens of animals, for besides the strangely colored bird, Lee had discovered that the Magical Menagerie had got in a massive Burmese Python.
"What I wouldn't give for one of those," Lee moaned, gazing longingly at the ten-foot snake. "Too bad I'm not a Parselmouth."
"You could hire Harry to be your translator," Fred suggested, turning his attention to a tank of neon turtles nearby. "Think of all the pranks you could do with Harry there to order the snake what to do. You could ambush the Slytherin team in the lockers. Imagine Malfoy's face if he was showering a monster snake came scooting into the stall with him."
Lee snorted with laughter and the two left the shop.
"That would be a treat," he said. "We could set up a video camera in the corner – oh, bugger! It's my mum. I'm in for it now, my friend. She's still livid that I only got seven N.E.W.T.s. Blames you and George for being a bad influence."
"How right she is," Fred said with a long-suffering sigh. "It's been hard bringing you up to properly respect our raucous ways, mate. But," he added, throwing an arm around Lee's shoulders and giving a fake sniffle of deep emotion, "I think we've done ourselves proud."
Lee laughed again.
"Hey, I like to think I come by most of my raucousness naturally," he said, walking off through the crowd. "Cheers, Fred. I'll owl you in a week or so. I'm going to need a double shipment of Skiving Snackboxes come September. First Hogsmeade weekend's sure to wipe me out."
"Sure - bye." Fred waved after him, smiling in amusement. He was just turning to walk back toward the Leaky Cauldron, where the others were supposed to be meeting him in twenty minutes for the trip back to the Burrow, when he nearly walked into a girl almost as tall as he was.
"Sorry!" they both said. Fred was about to move away when he caught a look at her face. It was tear streaked and rather blotchy.
"Hey, you okay?" he asked with concern.
"F-fine," she said unconvincingly. "Just smashing, thanks."
"You're not," he retorted. "You look a fright." He had a sudden, crazy thought, possibly brought on by too much sun. "Come along, I'll buy you some ice cream." He took her arm.
"But – but why? You don't even know me," she said, nevertheless allowing herself to be dragged along up the street.
"Because you're obviously quite distraught and you're ruining my fabulous mood," he kidded. He glanced down at her tear-streaked face. It looked oddly familiar, but he couldn't quite place it.
When they got to Florean Fortescue's, Fred ordered the largest Sundae on the menu for her and a largish cone for himself and got them seats outside in the shade. Although clearly quite miserable, the girl wasn't fool enough to ignore a Fortescue's triple nut, double chocolate banana split.
"Thanks," she said, blowing her nose in her napkin and taking a large spoonful of ice cream. Fred took a moment to study her. Her appearance was nothing remarkable, although there was something in the tear-stained face that made Fred's stomach give a jolt of sympathy. Poor kid – obviously something was very wrong.
"Want to talk about it?" he asked carefully after allowing her a few moments to get her Sundae down.
"Oh, it's stupid," she insisted, her flushed face going a bit redder in embarrassment. "It's just – " she took a moment to look up at him – really look – and started.
"Your – your one of the Weasley twins, aren't you?" she demanded, sounding a touch panicky.
"Keep your hair on, we're not rabid," Fred said with a disarming smile.
"But - you ran away from Professor Umbridge last year!" she said, sounding both awed and anxious. "You just took off, didn't you? I know you did, I saw you. It was brilliant." She frowned suddenly. "You also used a couple of my dorm mates to test your new joke experiments on. Erin's only just got her eyebrows back." She looked ready to bolt.
Fred grinned modestly. He was still rather proud that he and George were remembered for do something so gallant.
"Go on - now that George and me have our own gig, we don't need to test on innocent students who'll invariably wind up buying our perfected products anyway," he said, waving her comment away. "Anyway, we're not here because of me. What's got you in such a strut?"
"Well – okay," she said, taking a wary look at her next spoonful of ice cream before popping it into her mouth. "Since you went to Hogwarts, you must know of Draco Malfoy."
"By reputation only," Fred grinned. "He's my younger brother's worst enemy. I've never given a rat's ass. He's a git – end of story."
"Well, it wasn't him," the girl said, wiping her mouth on her napkin and looking up at Fred. "It was his girlfriend, Pansy Parkinson."
"Oh, right," Fred said carelessly. "One good prat deserves another. Go on."
The girl giggled at his nickname for the much-despised ringleader of the Slytherin sixth year girls.
"She's been after me since first year," the girl went on, her somewhat timid air returning almost immediately. "I used to have quite a lot of spots, you know, and she was always making horrid jokes about them. Now that they've cleared up pretty well, she's been on about my weight. It's really awful. When she insults me, I never know what to do. I just stand there while her friends laugh a make a nice spectacle of myself." Her voice was trembling again, and tears were trickling out of the corners of her eyes.
"You said you go to Hogwarts," Fred said, trying to change the subject. "Funny, I don't recognize you. What's your House?"
"I'm a Hufflepuff," she told him quietly, sniffling. "That doesn't help, either. Even Gryffindor and Ravenclaw think our House is the wimpy one. We're all a bunch of pushovers."
Fred shifted uncomfortably, thinking of all the times he'd called the House exactly that.
"Anyway," the girl went on, "the Slytherins are obviously the worst of the lot who tease us. Third year was especially bad. I had – I had an accident with a Clear-All potion I'd made for my face."
"Bingo!" Fred shouted triumphantly, making her jump. "I knew I recognized you. You're Eloise Midgeon, aren't you?"
"Oh, do please shout that again, I don't think the Aussies quite heard you," she said with a hint of sarcasm, blushing again.
"Sorry," Fred said hastily, lowering his voice. "I've just heard of you, is all. Anyway, don't let Parkinson and Company get you down. Everyone knows she's in a snit because her face looks like a bleeding pug."
"It's arse, you mean," Eloise muttered into her Sundae. She seemed a bit taken aback that Fred wasn't teasing her as well. Come to that, Fred was a bit surprised. Eloise had a bit of a reputation of being a girl version of Neville Longbottom and Fred and George often good-naturedly teased Neville about his various faults. However, Fred couldn't quite bring himself to give Eloise a hard time. She'd had a rough morning, after all.
"Good girl!" Fred said, pleased to hear her at least trying to be tough. "Come on, then, let's have a smile. You're better than those Slytherin bints and you know it. Come along – there it is."
A reluctant smile split Eloise's sober face, and Fred was astonished to see that the simple expression seemed to touch every inch of her rosy face with – with something indescribable. He looked quickly away.
"Well, now that you're on the mend and full of chocolate," he said cheerfully, getting to his feet. "Must dash. I'm meeting my family in the Leaky Cauldron in ten minutes." He gave her a smile and turned to go.
"Fred?" she asked, and he twisted back to see her standing, looking shy but deeply grateful.
"Thanks so much," she said quietly, smiling nervously. "This was really sweet of you."
"Glad to be of service, fair maiden," he said with a gallant little bow. Then he frowned. "Hang on. How'd you know I was Fred?"
"Dunno," she said,
frowning as well. "You just – you just look
like a Fred."
"Right," Fred said, offering her another smile. "Lovely to meet you. See you round, maybe."
"Sure," she nodded, sitting back down and picking up her spoon. "Bye then."
"Cheers." And it was an oddly satisfied Fred Weasley that met his family, Hermione Granger, and Harry Potter in the Leaky Cauldron a few minutes later.
"Look as though you've had a good snog," George commented casually as they waited in line to Floo back to the Burrow.
"Nothing like that – remember Eloise Midgeon?"
"What, that chick who – "
" – misplaced her nose, right." Fred shrugged. "She almost ran me down. I didn't recognize her at first because most of her spots are gone and she doesn't have specs anymore. She was in tears because some of the git Slytherins were giving her a bad time about her weight. Anyway, she looked a right mess, so I bought her a Sundae and cheered her up a bit."
"Since when do you rescue damsels in distress?"
"Since I decided last June that there really is a god. The Burrow!" Fred felt a whoosh as he was sucked up the chimney.
For some reason, the encounter with the timid Hufflepuff kept popping up in Fred's memory. The event hadn't been that remarkable, which gave Fred pause. Why on earth did he keep reliving that same fifteen minutes in his head? Why?
A week went by before he'd managed to subdue Eloise's smile into a vague corner of his mind. He gave a triumphant smirk as he woke up on 31 July – Harry's birthday, he realized with a smile – and tramped down the rickety stairs in his boxers and a Puddlemere United tee that he'd owned since his first World Cup when he was twelve.
Hearing an unusual amount of noise coming from the living room, he took the stairs two at a time, meeting Harry at the bottom.
"Happy Birthday, mate!" he said cheerfully. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a canary cream. "Care for a bite?"
"Er – no thanks, Fred." Harry smiled cautiously and held up his hands to ward Fred off.
"Oh, go on," Fred wheedled as the two passed through the kitchen. "You never know. Having feathers might be an advantage in Quidditch."
The passed into the living room, Fred still grinning at Harry, when the other stopped short.
"Wow, didn't realize that was who Ginny was having for the holidays," he said faintly.
Fred turned to look and nearly jumped out of his skin.
"Hi, Fred." Ginny and her friend Luna Lovegood stood with Eloise Midgeon in the middle of the room, covered in soot.
Eloise was smiling.