Title: Days Like These
By: mandy-jg
Rating: K+ (May Change)
Pairing: Fred/Hermione
Warnings: Character Death
A/N: SPOILERS FOR DEATHLY HALLOWS. I was going to post this as a complete story, but then I realised that the other story I started for 11reasons livejournal wasn't happening at all, and this could work in it's place. So here it is, the first part. Part "now", part flashback. That's how the whole thing will evolve.
Prompt: Sleep

Days Like These

She sat at the end of the bed, her hands resting together in her lap. Her robes, hanging pressed upon the back of the door. The noises outside the door very clear, but muted. They were carrying on as they would any morning, having breakfast, getting dressed. It was anything but an ordinary morning, they all knew it, they just chose to pretend that it wasn't. Delaying those thoughts, those feelings till the last possible moment, when the ever present reality would make itself known. It loomed just there, hidden out of sight, ready to appear at any moment.

A glance at the clock reminded you that not everyone was home; the empty space at the dinner table, that would never be filled by him again; or the air that used to be filled with laughter, was void of all joy.

They were all guilty of it, it was easier this way. They hardly spoke, when only extremely necessary did words pass their lips. It was too hard, what could they say to each other? Everyone felt it, this emptiness. The loss of one, was so huge, even in a full house, the lack of him was felt. Their faces all looked the same, there was relief to know that now, finally they were safe. That safety, had come at a price though. One that they would never have chosen to pay.

Everyone had lost something, or had come so very close to. It was part and parcel of war, they all knew it. She just never thought they'd have to pay, a family that gave so much, without question, without asking why. If you needed them, they were there, even when you didn't ask for help, they would. It was who they were. She thought that after what happened to Bill, and then what happened to George, that their fee had been paid, nothing else would happen. How wrong they were.

After days where they had said goodbye to the others they had lost, it was their turn. Their turn to say goodbye. No matter how much time had past since they lost him, she still wasn't ready. No matter how much she had become used to these things, this was going to be different.

This was someone she loved, and not in the periphery kind of way. They had touched her in a way that few others had managed, and she wasn't sure that she was ready to let go of them yet.

-

She couldn't sleep, long after Ginny had dozed off, she remained awake. The gentle snores of the Weasleys and Harry didn't encourage her to fall asleep. Shadows moved over the walls of the tent, the noise outside had long died down, but nothing could make her forget what she had seen.

Those Muggles, innocent muggles. Hanging like marionette dolls in the sky, pawns in some cruel game. Why? Because they could, the cowards hid behind masks, frightening children, families, to get their sick pleasure. Of course they run when a real threat appeared, someone who wasn't afraid to hide. That in itself didn't surprise her, attacking harmless people, who had no way of defending themselves; hiding their true identity, of course they would run when someone did what they wouldn't.

Maybe they thought it was someone with real power, someone who wasn't afraid to yield it. She didn't know, but they had left, vanished as quickly as they appeared.

It left her with a queasy feeling, she wasn't naive, she knew there were people who felt that way. She was confronted with them everyday at school, Malfoy and his cronies always saw fit to remind her of her rightful place in the Wizarding world. Not in it. That very easily could have been her, hanging upside down in the air, her knickers on display for all to see. It wasn't a comforting thought.

Hermione rolled over onto her other side, facing away from the windows of the tent. Taking deep breathes, focusing on the movement of each breathe: in and out. Sleep would come, she just had to relax. Just as it seemed to be finally happening, her limbs relaxing, she could feel it coming. She was halfway between asleep and awake, when a sudden noise woke her completely again. Her hand immediately reaching for her wand, the events of the evening made her ensure that it was close to hand at all times.

Someone had knocked over one of the small tables in the main area of the tent, they cursed softly as they righted it.

"Bloody hell," they muttered.

She relaxed as she recognised the voice, Hermione rolled over, and moved out of the bedroom, shutting the door softly behind her. Fred jumped slightly from the kitchenette as he spotted her.

"Jeez Granger, I thought you all were asleep," he said, placing a silencing charm on the kettle.

"Impossible, my mind is going a million miles an hour, I doubt I'll be able to sleep at all."

"I know that feeling," he grumbled. "Would you like a cup?"

"Might as well, no funny business?" She asked warily as she sat at the table. The instances of something peculiar happening to someone after they accepted anything edible from either of the twins had steadily been on the rise, and tonight she didn't want to place tester.

"Not tonight, mum took all me goodies," he sighed, with a small smile.

"Thank heavens for that," she chuckled.

He busied himself with making the cups of tea; she liked the way he handled himself, he had a very relaxed manner about him. Nothing was rushed, there was a quiet confidence in what he was doing. It was slightly disarming to watch him at ease like this, in all the time she had spent with the twins, they had done nothing more than frustrate her; aggravate her. They knew if they niggled her enough she would fight back, and all they wanted. She knew she should just grit her teeth, and ignore them. Those teasing voices though, that slight smile, it always got her, she reacted.

"Here ya go," he said, placing a steaming cup in front of her.

"Thanks," she smiled gratefully, placing her hands around the sides, soaking up the heat.

He sat down opposite her, cradling his own cup. "So why can't you sleep?"

"Too many thoughts," she said.

"You? Too many thoughts, impossible," he scoffed.

"Haha," she said without malice. "It's just been a big day, what with coming here, then the tournament, and we can't forget the after party."

"Pretty full on that's for sure," he admitted.

"Rather scary," she said quietly.

"Were you..."

Hermione picked up her cup, and drank quickly, not looking at Fred. Determinedly looking at the picture hanging on the wall behind him.

Placing a hand on the cup, he pulled it down, "Hermione? Were you, were you scared?"

She took a few moments, and then looked at him. She nodded slightly, "it was a bit scary. They are awful people, and they were after people like me. If they'd found me, well there is no way I could have defended myself against them, Petrificus Totalus can only do so much."

"No," he said vehemently. "You, are very capable, and industrious. I have no doubt that you could have managed to get yourself out of harms way if it came to that."

"Maybe--"

"No maybes," he stated. "You would have."

Hermione smiled slightly at his belief in her, no matter how misguided she deemed it to be.

They sat there for a little while longer, not saying anything. Just drinking their teas, before parting to go to bed, in preparation of the dawn rising that Mr Weasley had planned. It was only when she was finally nodding off, did she realise.

She never asked Fred what was keeping him awake.

-