"She's beautiful." Words sunk to the bottom of his already churning stomach. He couldn't help but to crack the grin he was known for, show the smiles and laughs that people expected. He was happy, happy for Ron. Ickly little Ronniekins, the first one out and married. No matter how happy he was, though, he couldn't erase the feeling of lead settling against his gut, rubbing against the inside of his skin.
She was beautiful.
She'd always been beautiful.
She is beautiful.
"'Course she is, you have the Weasley taste for women," Fred laughed, ruffling Ron's already ruffled-twice-over-by-twins hair. That got the desired scowl, the pinching in of Ron's cheeks as he pushed at the hand that had always been above his head since he was a kid.
"Awr, gerroff." He grumbled and nervously adjusted the crooked tie at the base of his neck, only making it worse, "…awww, I'm gonna be sick." Fred should be here for his brother, pat his shoulder, offering up a joke. Tell Ron that he was perfect for Hermione.
And try not to look at her.
Fred was hoping it would rain, today. He was hoping that when he left the small, cramped apartment above his shop he could step into the rain. He wanted an excuse to show up rumpled to the wedding, to be able to say 'It's just to weather' to his mother's eyes which, over the years, were getting sharper. He didn't want to have to brush shoulders with George and know that he knew too. He didn't want to have to see Ron kiss the bride.
Instead he was out in the sun, just another freckled Weasley boy, lined up and waiting. The grass was cut, the sun was shining, the trees were in bloom. It was a perfect wedding, but he couldn't appreciate it. He followed everyone's gaze, eyes down the aisle and clapped, like everyone else, when she began the slow walk to stand by her husband.
Not yet. He told himself.
Fred Weasley savored these three minutes. From the moment Hermione Granger stepped into the meadow to when Hermione Weasley kissed her husband. Then everything slowly dissolved from there. George's elbow slid into his side, not to remind him not to stare, but to give him something else to look at. Something else to feel.
"They're good together, huh?" He asked.
He never got a reply.
Angelina Johnson had gone to the Yule Ball with him, Hermione's fourth year. He told Angelina he had loved her, pressed into the dark alcoves of Hogwarts, hands locked, lips touching. She'd laughed and said she loved him too. The next morning they had both blamed it on the firewhiskey and he hasn't talked to her since. She sends him owls every now and then, and he returns them. She sent him a scarf for the Yule Hols, and he sent her a box of canary creams.
Fred Weasley told Hermione he loved her. He wasn't supposed to steal her away from the wedding, or stand next to her, feeling too large and foolish for the small hallway. He wasn't supposed to touch her hand lightly, trying to remember how to kiss with his palms. He told her he loved her.
The next morning he would blame it on the firewhiskey, and go back to his apartment about the shop.
She was beautiful.