Title: Happy Ending
Rating: Any Age
Summary: And they sat there together, huddled against the cold wind, together, saying farewell the somewhat carefree days that were no longer.
A/N: Compliant to canon up till Deathly Hallows, and then it takes a giant turn, while yelling "bugger you" to canon. So, AU to DH. giggles
The first time, Hermione was trying to be strong. It wouldn't do for her to fall apart right now. People needed her, Harry needed her. He didn't need some girl crying in the corner, she shed a few tears in front of him, before she excused herself. Harry had enough to think about without worrying about her crying, he was trying so hard to remain stoic, unaffected.
Hermione made it to the Entrance Hall, and then to the steps outside before the tears overcame her, and she all but collapsed. She wasn't sure what was making her feel this way, she barely knew Cedric Diggory, hadn't spoken to him at all. Hermione could count on one hand how many times she had actually seen him up close. It also wasn't the notion of death, she had relatives who had passed.
It all felt wrong to her, this was someone who never should have died. A good person, someone purely by chance in the wrong place, and was cut down simply for that reason; and that was why. He didn't deserve to be killed, or an accidental death, it wasn't fair. It was the real end of their innocence, they could no longer claim ignorant. Well some still could. She closed her eyes, and she could see Cedric laying flat on his back, while Harry sobbed over him. Trying to sleep and all she could hear was the cries of shock, and fear as their classmate lay dead.
Hermione buried her head in her hands, and let the sobs overwhelm her as she sat there. She didn't hear them came up behind her, didn't even hear them sit next to her. It wasn't until the arm went around her, and pulled her into his shoulder. Hermione recognised him instantly, she didn't remove her head from her hands, he smelt, like Fred. A sweet smell, probably from his constant experiments, or maybe he just carried them everywhere. Either way, he smelled nice. Clean, and sweet.
She moved her hands down to her lap, playing with the strands of her scarf, Hermione looked up at him, not moving her head all that much. His face was fierce, clenched in a way that she had never seen. Not over Quidditch, over school, it was unlike him.
"Fred?" She said softly, not wanting to speak too loudly, it didn't seem the moment.
"He was a good guy, a real good guy. No matter how much of a ponce George and I
thought he was," he said thickly. "Doesn't seem fair does it?"
"Not at all," she whispered, closing her eyes as he softly kissed her temple.
And they sat there together, huddled against the cold wind, together, saying farewell the somewhat carefree days that were no longer.
The second time, she sought him out. Remaining at Hogwarts while her friends were away, and more than likely hurting was horrible. Wondering what was happening, how they were coping, waiting to help them, but being utterly helpless. Hermione didn't like it. She wanted to be with them, if to do no more than to sit next to them, to hold their hand if that was what they needed. Anything, she wanted to do anything other than sit on the long train back to London without them.
It had been just as she imagined, slightly different though. Harry's guilt had shocked her, but she managed to straighten him out somewhat. The only thing that would help him was seeing Arthur get better, and being told constantly that it wasn't his fault. Ron telling him that he'd been there the whole time, and thrashing for a good while before waking up seemed to calm him a little. Dealing with Harry was something that would take a while, and there was something she needed to do in the meantime.
He wasn't with George, and that was enough to worry her. They were joined at the hip, and for them to be separated, made her wonder just how Fred was feeling. Obviously it was different to how George was feeling, otherwise they'd be together. She headed up rather than down, down would bring him into range of his mother. So up the stairs was the only option. He would have gone somewhere where he could be completely alone, with no-one unexpectedly walking in on him. Hermione passed all the obvious rooms, heading for the tiny bedroom on the top floor. It was dirty, full of dust, and getting there took forever. She knew he would be there.
He was sitting on the tattered window seat, looking out across the skyline, the rooftops fading in the dusk; his face unreadable. She closed the door behind and went and sat next to him.
"When did you get here?"
"A little while ago," she said leaning against the window frame. "Your mum says he's going to be fine, be home in a few days."
He nodded, keeping his eyes on the horizon. "It's good to hear."
"Then why aren't you smiling?"
"Not much to smile about," he mumbled.
"I can think of at least two things," she smiled holding a finger up. "One, it's Christmas. Presents, good food, and you are with your family. And two, he is going to be fine."
"You didn't see him Hermione," he said softly. "He looked so small, he looked drained. He smiled, and it was my Dad, but it wasn't the Dad I knew. I felt sick, standing there, trying to keep a smile on my face."
She watched him as he spoke, his eyes were glistening in the dim light. Fred was too stubborn though, he wouldn't let the tears fall. Hermione stood, and moved behind him. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders, she wasn't surprised when they started to shake a little, she just held on tighter. She didn't move till he did, they left the room when it was time for dinner, Fred held her hand loosely as they began to walk down the stairs. As they reached the lower floors they slowed down, they could hear everyone already in the kitchen. Hermione heard Mrs Weasley telling everyone that Mr Weasley would be home soon, if not tomorrow, then probably the next day. Very soon.
Fred leaned against the wall of the staircase, closing his eyes. She picked up their joined hands, brushing a kiss across the knuckles before leaving him there to compose himself before joining his family.
She had been avoiding him. All day.
It wasn't noticeable, it wasn't like they spoke all that often in front of everyone. They however had probably noticed her freezing whenever he was anywhere near her. Really, how could she not? He was a friend, purely a friend. That's it, no more, no less. They were closer than people thought they were, but they weren't that close. Not by a long shot. They had embraced on the odd occasion, touching rarely. If there was anyone she expected to be there, it wasn't him.
It was though, she couldn't tell him, she couldn't tell anyone. Hermione was just going to ignore it, and let the weirdness pass. It was nothing. Girls had daydreams about older boys all the time, and if he was half-naked it was all the more normal. So what if he was her best friends older brother, still nothing. She would be back on the train to Hogwarts in just a few days, and he would probably spend the rest of her holidays working at his new shop. Hermione would barely cross his path, except for the times he came home. Like tonight, sitting across from her at the table, trying to catch her eye.
Plagued by unwelcome visuals, she had offered to carry the plates in, anything to leave the table early. Leaning against the sink, she willed herself to forget. Forget the smile that had been opposite her all evening, forget the chest that was impossibly defined, forget what her hands had done. It hadn't happened, it was some stupid daydream. It never happened.
That was easier said that done when she turned, and walked straight into him.
"Fred!" She gasped, jumping straight back, bumping into the cupboard.
"Woah," he smiled. "Bit skittish tonight?"
"Sorry, long day."
He leaned around her, brushing his arm against hers as he grabbed a glass.
She moved away quickly, "I think I'm going to go back outside." Hermione made it to the door before he spoke.
"Hey, did you try it?"
She stopped, not turning back, "try what?"
"The daydream charm of course, only George and I have used them, be interesting to get another experience."
"Oh," she whispered. "I did, this afternoon."
"How was it?"
"It was fine, a nice distraction."
"If it's not too embarrassing, what happened? For research purposes of course."
"Um, I was reading at first, down by the pond. Then someone came along, and we sat together for a little bit, and then, we uh ---"
"Snogged?" She could hear the smile in his voice without even turning around.
"Yeah," she sighed.
"So this pond? Our pond?"
"So it's safe to assume it's someone who's here at the moment," his voice got closer.
"This is a bit embarrassing now," she admitted. "It was a romantic moment, let's just leave it at that."
"Sorry, can't, my curiosity is piqued now," a gentle hand on her shoulder turned her. "So it's one of my brothers, someone you are close to ordinarily?" She nodded, as he brushed some hair back from her face. "Someone, you wouldn't push away if he tried in the real world?"
Shaking her head, she closed her eyes. "I wouldn't."
"Well, I'll definitely tell Ron that."
Her eyes snapped open, and he was smiling at her. Hermione growled softly, shaking his hand away, and turning to walk back outside, just like she had intended to.
"Sorry," he reached out and grabbed her hand. Stopping her, pulling her back. "I had to be sure."
And then her daydream came to life, a pair of strong arms wrapped around her. Holding her to him as he kissed her, leaving no room between them, not giving her a chance to get away. The perfect daydream came to life, and was infinitely better. It was real.
The hole was huge, a large gaping hole in her chest. Every second was painful, longer than the previous. How had she never noticed how bloody large the castle was? She knew it's layout like the back of her hand, but every corner she went round brought her no closer to her destination. Hermione ran past many of her classmates, not stopping to help the injured. They would find someone who would help them.
He was here somewhere, she had heard murmurings. It was all very unclear, was he hurt? She had no idea. For once the gossip in the corridors of Hogwarts was all she wanted to hear. Hermione didn't even what to consider the worst possible scenario. He was fine, and she would be with him soon. This was finally over, there lives could become normal. As normal as any life in the Wizarding world could be. At least the specter of doom would not be over their heads anymore. She just had to find him first.
Finally she got to the staircase, and she flew down it, heading towards the congregation in the Hall. There were people everywhere, all she wanted to see was red hair, and a smile. As soon as she saw that she would be happy, they were safe. She could see the hair in the corner, and if by magic the crowd parted, and there he was. A deep scratch on his cheek, covered in dirt and grime, but he was alive.
Ignoring everyone she ran into his arms, that wrapped around her automatically.
"I'm so happy to see you," she cried.
"Me too, me too," he said as he set her back on her feet.
"You can't scare me like that again, ever," she said as she moved out of his arms. It was only then that Hermione looked around her, seeing the surprised, and equally bemused faces of his family.
He kept one arm around her, keeping her with him. "Well, they had to find out sometime," he whispered in her ear.
She couldn't help but laugh, ignoring everyone around her again, she kissed him soundly. There was no other feeling inside her right now, other than pure joy. Dealing with the questions, the comments, would have to wait. There were much more important things to deal with, a great deal more fun too.