Disclaimer: I do not own anything Harry Potter. Nothing, zip, nadda, ziltch. It all belongs to J.K.Rowling.
A.N. and so on: This is the first fanfiction I've written in quite some time, and this is also the very first Harry Potter fanfiction I have ever written. Hopefully you shall enjoy it. Normally, I don't like to give away plotful things such as pairings, but this is quite obviously a Fred Weasely/Hermione Granger story, so I won't beat around the bush about it. This will be a multi-chapter go, and please forgive me if I take time between updates. College is killing me here. So for now, please enjoy.Antithesis
Fred Weasley was in a state. What kind of state? One of those low-down, world-on-your-shoulders, kick-them-when-they're-down kind of states. Most of the time this would not bother him, but it had begun to affect his work, and that was downright intolerable. Fred Weasely could not find a date.
Although a formidable free spirit, along with his carbon-copy brother, there were certain things in Fred's life that most people assumed would happen. Most agreed that he wouldn't make it far out of Hogwarts. He and George did them better and did not even bother with it. They took the Tri-Wizard Tournament money that Harry Potter had so generously invested in them and they capitalized on their plans to open a joke shop. As predicted by most, they took the wizarding prankster world by storm, and were now boasting three bustling shops, two at Diagon Alley and a smaller branch conveniently in Hogsmeade. He yet again went above and beyond the expectations. He was able to escape the confines of his mother's rule by living in a converted apartment above the Diagon Alley store he managed, but visited the Burrow several times a week, if not daily. The world was peaceful, Voldemort had been vanquished once and for all, and Fred had pulled his weight fighting the war amongst the Order of the Phoenix, and although there were still dark wizards on the loose, he could enjoy the state of calm that had finally settled in on his life.
Except for one detail. His brother, his greatest partner in crime, now had a partner of his own- a wife. George had married Alicia Spinnet just a few months prior to Fred's predicament. To accommodate them, Fred made the alterations to the loft apartment in their second Weasely's Wizarding Wheezes storefront and left the larger store and apartment to the newlyweds. Like he would be caught there watching his brother act the sap anyway. To make things easier travel wise, Fred and George entrusted their Hogsmeade branch to Lee Jordan, and he was apparently doing a wonderful business during the school year, even figuring out new ways to smuggle the 'contraband' into the Hogwarts.
Everyone in the family and with friends were growing older, settling down and pairing off, so it did not come as a surprise when he received an invitation in the mail for Oliver and Katie's wedding. But now he had yet another predicament; the invitation was for him and a lady friend, and Oliver had asked him to be in the wedding party. That was all fine and dandy, but Fred had been without a significant other for over a year now. Sure, he and Angelina had been doing well, but he was still too restless and she was all to eager to settle down. They could not seem to find a middle ground and parted ways. She seemed a lot happier with Lee anyway; at least that is what Fred always told himself. So now Fred was racking his brain to come up with a female friend whom they all knew who was neither taken nor going to be out of the country at the time of the wedding. So far he had nothing to show for his efforts.
Monday afternoons were always slow in the shops, and Fred sat idly at the front desk, one hand buried in his untidy, medium-length copper hair, the other turning the pages of the Daily Prophet that he was only half-reading. He hadn't even bothered to wear his dark green cloak, which was tossed over the second stool behind the counter. Some days, he just preferred muggle clothing anyway. Old, beaten up blue jeans and an equally old but well taken care of yellow button down was just as lazy and perfect for a Monday. He would close up shop in an hour and retreat back upstairs for a bit of lunch before returning to the shop, reopening, and restocking for the next day before finally calling it a night. He was pleasantly surprised to hear the bell chime and the front door open and shut with the sound of footsteps accompanying it.
"Welcome to Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, I'm your shopkeep who is currently busy with the Daily Prophet. Have a gander at our wares but just remember, if you use it, it's yours and I won't tell you the counter-curses." He mumbled unenthusiastically as he ran across an article of interest. He was answered with the sound of a tapping foot and a rather familiar clearing of the throat. He looked up from the page to lay eyes upon his recently graduated little sister with her hands on her hips and a look that would make their mother proud. "Well well, Gin, I didn't expect to see you here."
"And your customer service is really going downhill, brother-dear." She replied singsong. He smiled at her and noticed the other girl standing behind her. His smile went immediately wider and he stood up from his stool, hurrying out from behind the counter to give his sister a hug.
"I try to keep things lively around here," he ruffled Ginny's hair, which elicited a great yelp of protest, but he had already turned to her companion, "and Hermione Granger, it has been a crow's age since I've seen you." Hermione still had to crane her neck up to look at Fred, it seemed like every time she saw him and George they were taller. He gave her a grin and then held out his arms a bit before saying, "Do I get a hug? I promise I'm not contagious or anything, well, I can't promise that I won't bite though." She laughed, but was horrified to feel a blush creep unbidden onto her face. She quickly accepted his embrace to squelch the potential awkwardness that a red face can create. Unfortunately for her, he had noticed it and already had mental notes taken.
"Lovely to see you, Fred." She smiled as they broke apart and she took her place at Ginny's side. After the war with Voldemort and graduating from Hogwarts, Hermione finally knew what she wanted to do with her life, at least for a few years. She immediately applied for Mediwitch training at St. Mungo's, and with her excellent reputation and recommendations she was accepted and was now studying like mad to help ailing witches and wizards. She loved the work and her tenacity for learning made her a favorite amongst the senior healers. She still had about a year of training left before she would be an official healer, but the work she was doing now was worth the wait. With Ron and Harry in Auror training, it was also a personal comfort to know that she would be able to help them out medically if the situation ever arose, which everyone dearly hoped would not. Ginny, in the meantime, had become a best friend like Hermione had never had before. Seeing as Ginny was female, the two found it much easier to relate to one another and they could be there when idle chit-chat was a necessity. Hermione was still the conservative of the two. She tamed her hair back into the same slightly messy bun every day; she wore her healer's robes on days she worked and comfortable muggle attire on her off days. She wasn't one to dress up or overdo anything about the way she looked, it always seemed like time wasted.
"So, why am I so lucky to have my favorite sister and her lovely best friend drop in on me during work?" He clapped his hands together and smiled at them both in turn.
"Message from Mum, as usual," Ginny laughed, "honestly, you should buy her a bloody owl so she stops using me. She wanted me to make sure you knew that supper this evening is at six. Ronnie and Harry are being let out of their cages for the evening and they will be joining us too."
"Ickle Ronniekins out from Auror training? What fun." Fred grinned and looked over at Hermione, "Are you coming along to then?" Still wondering why exactly Fred had called herself lovely, the sudden question caught her a bit off guard.
"Oh, yes of course, I'll be heading over right after I stop off at home this evening."
"It is going to be quite the occasion," Ginny smiled, "you know how mum gets about these little weekly 'extended family get-togethers'." Fred groaned. Knowing his mum, half of the Order would be at the Burrow as well as all of the siblings and their wives or significant others.
"Well, be sure to stop in and tell Alicia and George as well." He finally sighed, "And I'll be seeing you two this evening."
"That you will, 'till tonight, Fred!" Ginny smiled and turned toward the door with Hermione in tow.
"See you this evening, Fred." Hermione called casually over her shoulder.
"'Course you will." He called after. Hermione shot him a smile quickly before joining Ginny on the street as they went to carry the message to his brother. The wheels in Fred's head started to turn though. Hermione Granger, possible the antithesis of what Fred Weasely is down to the very fibers of his being could possibly be the answer he had been waiting for.