Disclaimer: I do not own anything Harry Potter. Nothing, zip, nadda, ziltch. It all belongs to J.K.Rowling.
A.N.: So wow, thank you to the reviewers, such positive things to say! I am digging this, I could use more feedback. Anyway, here is the third chapter, and things are starting to progress slowly. I do now know exactly where I am going with this yet, but I do know that it will be a fun ride there. So, onto the individuals! ChaoticConsequences, Hermione does seem a little bland right now, but I plan on breaking her out of her shell quite a bit. Fred is a good guy to do that for her. San01, such a huge complement, I do hope that I will make good on it! Tahwekilelohcin, to me, Fred and George are just… wow, you have to love them both, and I do not think I could choose a favorite since they are so alike to begin with. I just flipped a coin to be honest, and Fred was the winner this time around. xox.Annie Potter.xox, thanks so much for all of the praise, and I do hope you will enjoy the chapters to come. (Even if Harry is with Ginny. Lol) Kiara N'andra Ayth, I actually address some of Ron's reactions in this chapter, but there will be more to come.
But in other words, thank you all so much for reviewing and enjoying the story. I am wondering if you have any suggestions or ideas for plotful problems they can run into? Ahh, fun little situations. Also, longer or shorter chapters? I'm pretty flexible with that. For now, onto chapter 3, enjoy!
What in bloody hell did Fred think he was doing? Probably nothing, you're overreacting. Ron chided himself as he took the seat directly across from the woman who had held his affections since they were just kids. After Auror training, he would always tell himself, he would get over his fears and propose to Hermione, once and for all. Auror training, however, was going to last three more years, but Ron did not seem too concerned about Hermione finding another man. After all, she was usually so busy with work that she barely had time for herself, at least that is what it sounded from her letters to Harry. Ron was never that big on writing letters, but he was sure she understood. There was still a certain degree of suspicion pooling in his stomach as he watched his brother and his girl chatting and laughing during supper. Fred had a good head on his shoulders, quite a bit of smarts, but he did not always have the right intentions in it, as Ron knew all too well. He shot Harry a look, to which his best friend merely shook his head and shrugged his shoulders. If Harry did not seem to think it was a problem, it most likely was not. He suddenly was aware that someone was talking to him.
"Sorry, what?" His vision snapped across the table to Hermione who was giving him a good-natured look of impatience.
"I asked you how you are enjoying your training, Ron," she smiled, "since I only hear bits and pieces from Harry. You know, you really could pick up a quill and parchment from time to time and let me know how you are." He smiled back at her, but it flickered a little bit as he noticed Fred giving Hermione a look of great approval. Since when was he paying so much attention to how witty she could be? More so, where did Fred get off approving of her making fun of him?
"I know, but you know me 'Mione," he continued, "Training is going well. I'm bloody run ragged most of the time, lots of studying with lots of physical abuse stacked on top. An endurance trial, really, right Harry?" Harry, who had been preoccupied with staring at Ginny and playing with a lock of her hair suddenly came crashing back into reality.
"Oh right, completely brutal." He grinned and went right back to playing with the same lock of hair.
The rest of the evening went as usual, but Hermione noticed that Fred was trying his best to converse with her. Though she was immediately suspicious, the way he spoke and how he was interested in what she was doing helped convince her that Fred was merely trying to be friendly. She was shy to admit that she wondered how that mind of his and his brother's worked, and figured that maybe it was an opportunity to learn.
"So does that hospital ever let you off the leash?" He asked as they conversed in the living room after Molly's wonderful dessert. She laughed a little.
"Of course they do, I'm not always working you know."
"So what do you do with your free time then?" He asked nonchalantly.
"Oh, I always love to read, there is always something I learn there that I can read more about. The senior healers have been sending me home with more and more for enrichment reading."
"That's all well and good, but have you taken any vacations lately, seen a show, been out of the country?" Fred ventured. Hermione looked at her shoes for a moment. Indeed she had not done any of that. She usually spent her off days at home with Crookshanks curled up in front of the fireplace on cold days or next to the window on the sunny ones with a book open in her lap. For the first time she thought that maybe she was not doing enough with her life.
"No, I have not as of late." She looked back up at him, hoping that she did not look confused. Well, she did look like something, but it was far from confused. Fred saw the look in her eyes and read it blaringly as sadness. How, no, why was Hermione sad? Suddenly it hit him like a ton of bricks. Hermione knew that she was not taking advantage of her freedom, and she finally knew that it may not be a good thing to be completely invested in one's work all of the time. He grinned widely at her.
"Well, we'll have to change that, now wont we?"
"We?" She quirked an eyebrow at him. That word was always something that exited Hermione because it meant inclusion. A lot of people did not use 'we', it was either 'you' or 'I', and whenever she heard a 'we' it would make her do an internal back flip involuntarily.
"Sure we," he laughed, "unless that is you are afraid of spending time with a harmless prankster."
"That's an oxy moron if I have ever heard one." She fired back, and felt a little victory when he laughed heartily and scratched at the back of his head.
"Of course I'm harmless, Hermione, I'd never do anything to harm you" he smiled, but realized how she may take the comment and quickly added, "now Ron on the other hand." The statement had thrown her slightly. She was not used to most men treating her kindly or saying many flattering things besides complementing her studiousness. She started to feel her cheeks go pink, but swallowed the feelings of uneasiness for the sake of the conversation. And why was she so adamant on keeping this conversation going in the first place? Because, you are still a girl, and you enjoy it when men are paying attention to you, especially an attractive one.
Suddenly her mind was being mutinous. Since when did she find Fred Weasely attractive? And why didn't she find George attractive then? Because he is unavailable, and by the last time you checked, Fred has not been seeing anyone, right?
Oh sod it. Fred Weasely was Fred Weasely, friend and prankster extraordinaire, and nothing but a friend to the bookworm that was Hermione Granger.
"Earth calling Hermione Granger…" Fred was waving his hand in front of Hermione's eyes, which were currently enthralled with a bit of the shabby carpet.
"Oh, sorry Fred."
"Doing quite all right, love?" He asked with a knowing grin, "You've gone a but pink, feeling feverish are you?"
"No, don't be silly!" She shook her head and her hands in dismissal, "Now, what were you saying?"
"Just confirming that you do get days off from working at St. Mungo's."
"And I told you that I do."
"Well good, when is your next day off?"
"Oh, umm, day after tomorrow," she answered, feeling suddenly sheepish, "why do you ask?"
"Just wondering if a bloke could take a friend out to lunch, that's all." He smiled softly at her. She recoiled, not out of revulsion but disbelief.
"It isn't a marriage proposal, Hermione, it is lunch." Fred laughed, playing it cool. On the inside however, his mind was racing at a fervent pace on how to recover if she rejected the idea. So while being cool and colleted on the outside, on the inside Fred was a mess. He wondered why it was so bloody hard to ask this particular woman to spend time with him when he could usually drop by a bar and say three lines to a girl and she would be his for the rest of the evening. Because, old boy, you have to admit to yourself that she's probably a hell of a lot smarter than you. Then again, you have a little more life experience on your side, now don't you?
"Well, sure," she nodded, and then repeated more assured, "sure, that would be lovely, when and where, Fred?" She looked up just in time to see a great excited grin crack across his face.
"How about you meet me at my shop around noon, I have something I'm working on and I have to keep the shop open for most of the day, but we'll just take an extended lunch. Besides, I have something I am working on that I think even you will appreciate." He smiled in a matter-of-fact way.
"Okay, your store at noon it is, day after tomorrow." Hermione repeated, "Do I have to wear anything in particular?
"Well, clothes would be a good idea." He stated in a flat, serious tone. She batted him on the arm with an indignant little yelp.
"You pervert, keep that up and I wont go!" She laughed. Ron at that point came up behind her and gave Fred a suspicious look and put his hands on Hermione's shoulders.
"Is my brother bothering you, 'Mione," He looked at her over her shoulder, "I can always practice the hexes I'm learning on him for you." He grinned goofily, but was only half-joking. Fred knew this, but chose not to acknowledge it.
"No, no of course not we are just kidding around." She smiled up at Ron.
"Okay, just making sure." He nodded, "Hey, Harry and I are going to head out for a little while to get some coffee and get in a good chat away from all this noise, you want to come along?"
"Certainly, I'll be with you all in a moment."
"All right." Ron grinned enthusiastically and hurried off to gather up Harry and Ginny in preparation to leave. Fred shook his head. His brother was a dolt to keep letting Hermione dangle, but the more he watched the two of them interact, he started to believe that the love was quite one-sided. Surely, Hermione did love Ron, but not in the same way that Ron loved Hermione. He could sense some trouble brewing, but that was not really his place.
"So, noon at your shop?" Her charming voice asked again.
"Not going to let Ron convince you against it?" He laughed.
"Why would he?" Hermione asked, confused.
"Oh, you know how protective Ron is," he shrugged, "especially with you."
"Well, I am not attached to Ronald, and he does not make my decisions." Those words sealed the deal for Fred. It made his life much easier, and made asking Hermione to the wedding thousands of times easier. Hermione was a free agent, and he would not have to walk around on eggshells while executing his plan.
"Well, go on and get out of here, and if he poisons you against me you can't say I didn't tell you he would try."
"Even if he tries, I doubt he will succeed." She smiled at him in such a genuine way that it threw Fred for a moment. She turned and walked over to her companions with a slight swagger that he had never noticed before. She's certainly something else, now isn't she, little minx…
Oh no, oh no you don't. This mission was purely professional; nothing was going to transpire between Fred Weasley and Hermione Granger. Nothing at all.