I do not own the characters, but, seeing as this is AU from first year, I definitely own the plot and anything you don't recognize. And yes, this is a one shot (on portkey it isn't, but I had someone mention the fact that it was good stand alone).
Fred and George froze, staring into the shocked eyes of the first year that had accidentally become the brunt of their newest prank. They watched her glance furtively around at all those crowded around that were now getting over their shock and falling into snickers. They watched her set her mouth and tilt her chin up, and they watched her spin on her heel and leave the common room with a soft click of the portrait door.
They glanced at each other and cursed before they too were out the portrait, frantically looking around for any trace of the firstie they had sworn not to prank. Hermione Granger had looked so lost when she first came; quiet and unsure but still helping Neville Longbottom when they first met her, though she shied away from anything but polite conversation.
They had watched the interesting first year gain the disdain of her peers through her brilliance and her absolute and blunt refusal to subtly fit her way into the world- no, Hermione Granger was muggle and proud of it. Fred and George rather liked that. The fierce loyalty to her family that had her often writing letters to them and receiving muggle trinkets that the other students scoffed at because they could do the same thing with magic; and Fred and George rather liked the way her face lit up when she received these gifts, like there was nothing better in the world that someone could give her because it meant that her parent's knew her well enough to understand that she needed reminders. She even helped the bumbling Neville who had gained the reputation for a klutz, pointed some other ill informed firsties in the right direction to the stacks, helped Seamus Finnegan with his Potions Essay because Snape was a royal berk…but they all never mentioned this to each other- like she was some taboo because she blatantly enjoyed the dusty tomes and magic lessons.
So she had a fierce loyalty and inquiring brilliant mind and unendingly compassionate heart…
But she had no friends.
And their pranks were meant to be a gentle laugh amongst friends.
Not the ganging up of the whole common room on an unsuspecting and vulnerable female.
They ran speedily along the halls, wondering where she could have gone before hearing an echoing cry from down the hall. They skidded to a stop around the corner to watch her sink down the wall with her face in her hands, the red goop still stuck in her hair. They grimaced and stepped forward to joke her into a better mood but the clip of teacher's steps stopped them and instead made them hide in the shadows.
Professor McGonagall stepped up with her proprietary air, and then she softened right in front of them and helped little Hermione with a Scourgify and her fingers gently combing through wayward curls to get the remaining stubborn goop out.
"Who was it this time?" Her burr was gentle like they'd never heard it, and Fred winced at the inference that this happened a lot to their fellow Gryff.
George sucked in a breath as Hermione only shook her head and wet doe eyes looked out from the shadow of her hair.
McGonagall sighed and settled in front of the child, hands resting on her shoulders to make her look up. "You know, Miss Granger, you can tell me who does this to you. It is only right they be punished for their actions."
Hermione only shook her head again.
McGonagall sighed and stood, helping up her student with a hand and walking down the hallway to her quarters with her. "Let's get a cup of tea shall we? And maybe you can finish telling me of that Transfiguration theory you were thinking of."
And they were mere echoes by the time Fred and George decided they could move.
The looked at each other with grimaces and certain that, by the morrow, they would be in deep trouble with a very vindictive teacher.
And it never came to be.
The twins stood by and watched Hermione continue on with her life as normal (although they did manage to pay closer attention and catch the jeering instances of others to her) and their Transfiguration professor try to get the girl to open up.
It was rather funny to notice that their rather strict and regal and burring professor was almost doting on the very quiet Gryffindor cub, stranger still to notice her almost friendly rapport with all the teachers (that included the visibly reluctant but still blatantly endeared Severus Snape), and it made them wonder.
So they decided to cease wondering and start asking questions- Hermione was a nice polite little girl after all, she wouldn't turn their inquiries away.
"Hello Hermione." They chorused; their identical grins in place even as she looked at them curiously and remained silent for a second.
"Fred," she nodded in the correct twin's direction, "George." She proceeded even as the twins stood there in shock and she regarded them politely. "Was there something that you two wanted?"
Fred cleared his throat, the first to recover, and nudged his twin before speaking up. "We were very curious about your knowledge of the castle."
"We had seen you walking around, and you know shortcuts-"
"We've heard the others complain about how you always get to class on time,"
"-even when it's mortally impossible to do so."
"And even when the stairs are particularly energetic."
They left out the fact that she had run through the halls after their misfired prank- and the twins had difficultly keeping up even with their own extensive knowledge of the hallowed school.
Hermione was smiling up at them from her table, the books spread upon it thick and containing small print. Her hands were placed to hold her place on one page, and George goggled at the complex diagram on the opposite page. He didn't think he'd understand it even if it was right side up.
"And you two are interested in knowing some secret passageways?"
The twins grinned more broadly. "Of course!"
She laughed slightly, her eyes gentle as she tilted her head in thought and tapped her chin. "I am not so sure you two will appreciate this, but I don't think I'll tell you. Besides, what if I, indeed, wasn't mortal? Wouldn't that make it all possible then?"
Fred moaned dramatically as George swooned, their arms going around each other to hold themselves up as they played up her refusal. "The lady doth doubt our intentions! And try to misdirect us with such grand claims!"
"And mortally wounds our character with such oblique accusations."
"You do know that referring to your character as one entity just confuses the both of you?" Her genuinely curious interruption had them stalling to think before they grinned, shrugged, and continued.
"Further she questions our abilities to identify our individual souls amidst the turmoil of twinship!"
Her laughter rang out as she started cleaning up her books, shaking her head as she smiled and regarded them before she moved to leave. "My answer is still no."
Fred paled and George cursed as they stood, their identical faces mirroring each other's worry as the students were filed out of the great hall.
Hermione wasn't there.
They eased their way among the Gryffindors, but no one was walking with her and they couldn't spot her distinctive form anywhere.
Suddenly, "Are you sure she's in the bathrooms?" said a worried first year with dark hair, his large eyes shiny and his posture stooped and cowering.
The blonde girl laughed, "Ran there like a wailing ghost, which is all the company she'll get there. It's Moaning Myrtle's Loo she went into."
The boy fretted about for a second before the girl's companion, a pretty dark colored witch, spoke up with a smile. "I mean really, she's taking it too hard. She did get the spell right after all."
He glowered. "She's not a nightmare though; she's just really smart- Ron shouldn't have challenged her if he was going to be a poor loser."
The girls gave him off looks and then tittered, and the boy blushed and crumpled in on himself before following them and the crowd out of the hall.
The twins exchanged horrified glances before taking their first possible chance- hiding behind two suits of armour before snitching their way along shadows and hurrying their way along small corridors. When they spun the last corner near the ghostly bathroom, they gaped down the hall as the troll lumbered slowly into the door. They gunned it, slipping into the bathroom to shout - "Hermione!" - in unison as they watched her lock herself into a stall only to have the big brute crash his club along.
Her shrill scream underlined their frantic shouts, the beast's lumbering and grunting bass almost drowning out their voices as they yelled for her to move, watched her teary face as she slipped along the floor, watched her cover her neck and scream as the club landed on porcelain, shattered porcelain, just mere feet away from her small body.
Fred scowled and threw some debris, watching the stunned beast gape his way before slowly turning, George aiming his wand to blast between its eyes and causing it to stumble. Hermione recovered herself, angrily wiping her sleeve across her face before raising her wand and standing. "Wingardium Leviosa!" She clearly intoned, and the beast stared as his club rose, and then fell to the floor as it landed upon his head.
There was a still silence, dust settling and their coping breaths heavy in the air. Then George started laughing, and Fred smiled and coughed out some dust- Hermione grinned sheepishly before smiling shyly, her toe scuffing the floor in front of her. The twins came up to her- "Best we get out before the professors come to the mess."
"Yes, they'd be right chuffed."
"You were such a good little witch."
"It must be the Weasley influence; they'll have to lock her away."
"Oh, they must not- too much of an asset to the school records. Did you not see that spellwork?"
They grinned, but then they were shocked into silence by her tiny voice.
They stared at her and watched her watery eyes, her very apparent disbelief in the fact that they'd come to rescue her. They swallowed and nodded abruptly. Their hearts inexplicably swelling and softening for the small little witch that had no one and believed no one wanted her.
They quietly set about dusting her off, ignoring how she stiffened under their touch until she relaxed and timidly returned the favour. Just as silently they made their way down the corridors, barely missing the rush of Hogwarts' professors as they whooshed down the hall to the broken bathroom door, the billowing dust and scattered debris marking the destination clearly.
Hermione quietly slipped away from them, and they watched her go for a moment before turning down their separate path to the dormitories to be present for the head count.
Fred grinned as he came up beside Hermione, her head buried in a book as she walked through the halls and remained oblivious to the twins coming up to flank each side of her.
"Forsooth! The gentle lady ignores the gallant knights as they call for her attention!"
Hermione startled, and her wide eyes looked up at both of them as she struggled to maintain her suddenly precarious hold on the large book she held. George laughed and used a hand to steady the tome.
"I believe the lady thinks us jesters, and derides our professions as interruptions."
Hermione wrinkled her nose. "The lady thinks that all knights are jesters, who else would gallop around with lances to gain ribbon favors with bloodshed and sport instead of bringing gifts and wooing properly for kisses?"
Fred laughed and grinned at George. "Me think the lady is asking for a bribe, what type of blokes does she take us for?"
George returned his grin as Hermione looked between them. "I think you are correct, and she believes us to be scoundrels of the worst sort."
"No, that would be Lord Voldemort." She stated wryly, "You two are merely a helpfully interfering nuisance. But we digress, what are you two on about now?"
Fred and George blinked at her in astonishment, withholding the shiver that rose from that name stated so bluntly. She gazed at them expectantly, and her brow furrowed as she watched them gape at each other and then shrug.
"We kindly request your input about the halls of Hogwarts."
"You two are still on about that?"
"We are very tenacious."
"And we do have a very important goal in mind."
"And you two believe I'll not mind sharing my hard earned knowledge with the both of you?"
Fred and George shrugged genially. "If we're charming enough."
She snorted out a laugh.
"You are known for helping fellow students"-
"With school work." She interrupted with a smile.
He grinned. "The knowledge would let us get to class on time, wouldn't it Forge?"
"Oh, indubitably so. We would never have to worry about being late and receiving detentions that interfered with our homework."
Hermione finally laughed. "I'll never get any peace." Her eyes glittered as she eyed them, and Fred and George grinned as innocently as they best could. "But I'll let you in on a secret, and keep my own."
Fred and George looked at each other, startled, but then they grinned mischievously and followed her through the halls.
They ended up in the library, and Hermione wove through the stacks to a little used section (George sneezed because of the dust and Fred wrinkled his nose at the cracked leather spines). She grinned at them in a secretive manner before she pulled a thick book of the stack.
"The Concise List of Confiscated Items: Hogwarts, 1976;" Fred intoned in disbelief. George made a light sound of agreement as he stared at Hermione in dismay.
She rolled her eyes and settled the tome on the filthy table, her fingers leaving tracks in the dust as she opened the pages and flipped through it absently. "I'm not willing to share my information with you, I like knowing I might be the only one who knows some of those passages. But I can tell you about this"- and she grinned and spun the book around to face them, her fingers pointing to a description.
'The Marauders Map: Parchment, folded. Suspected to be a map of Hogwarts grounds; confiscated from Misters Black and Potter after discovery in dungeon area after prank.'
Fred gaped and George whistled appreciatively. "It's a map of Hogwarts!"
"Charmed." Hermione intoned brightly, and the twins both looked up at her confusedly for her interruption before she huffed and smiled. "It's supposed to be charmed to track where people are, students and faculty alike. I suspect it even has familiars and stuff on it."
Fred raised one of his brows and gave her an arch look.
George grinned slyly, "And just why do you suspect that? And how do you know of it?"
She grinned sheepishly. "I read a lot. The Prankster's Book of Records two stacks over mentioned the Marauders and what they could do- it wasn't hard to make a few educated guesses."
Fred held his tongue between his teeth as he grinned- "And why are you in the school inventory part of the library?"
She pursed her lips and sniffed at them, her eyes twinkling. "I was wondering about the old caretakers, Filch mutters all the time and gives things away."
Fred and George exchanged looks, knowing first hand that Filch only muttered when he didn't know people were around him; because if they were he could talk about torture with a captive frightened audience.
"And you don't want the map for yourself?"
She snorted again. "Hardly, I don't want to go anywhere near that dirty office in the dungeons. Besides, it's much more fun to make your own discoveries by exploring."
"And you're so sure this is still in the office?"
She nodded absently, readjusting her bag before giving up and settling it on the chair to rub at her shoulder. "Yes, Filch was muttering about the 'Drawer of Suspicious Unclaimed Items'- and in The Prankster's Big Book of Records (that's the sequel) the pranks of the Marauders are much more tricky and risky, they had no use of any map."
"He labels his drawers?"
The twins paused before snickering.
Hermione looked up with a small grin. "I dare say it's serendipitous that he's slightly obsessive with order." And she smiled and nodded before tossing her bag over her shoulder and setting out. "I hope you boys don't get caught."
Fred and George grinned at each other and started planning.
Fred stroked his chin in exaggerated thought, pondering the parchment in front of him.
George grinned maniacally, his teeth bared and his eyes wild as he stared at the folded paper and didn't bother fixing his unkempt hair- a result of agitated fingers ruffling it.
"Ingenious I'd say."
"And I'd agree."
"The spell work is impressive."
"The details are magnificent."
"The trickery is admirable."
"We said that already."
"Of course we have, it's true."
"Doesn't help us though."
"Never thought we'd say it."
"We need help."
Both twins gave each other long suffering looks, communicating in that language that had become their own as surely as their identities had meshed. But then they lit up- for Hermione had made her way to their table in the isolated alcove of the library. They watched predatorily as she put her books down happily before settling into the chair across from them.
It was almost comical the way her demeanour shifted into wary suspicion when she looked up to their hungry gazes.
George grinned and leaned his elbows on the table, suddenly quite happy that Hermione was a little precocious and damnably curious. Like a little lion cub.
Fred snickered as he carefully pushed the parchment to her.
Her eyes blinked as she cautiously regarded it, but then the slow smile gradually took over her face so that she looked as mischievous as the twins themselves on a good pranking day.
"It's got protection spells then?" She inquired.
Fred nodded, "Aperio and Revealo didn't work."
"And neither did Fateor or the Effigia Recollection Spell." George whined.
Hermione's eyes brightened as she regarded the folded parchment, her fingers caressing down the frayed edge before she grinned wider. "What about Penetralis? It's more passive detection than those intrusive things."
Both twins gaped at her, but then they smiled. "That's brilliant!"
They nodded vigorously- "That way it's not exactly giving up its secrets!"
Hermione blushed, "And then we can work from there."
"Without setting off the defence charms!"
They turned to the parchment and calmly waited while Fred said the incantation, waiting for the spell to reveal the intent of the casters who'd created the parchment charms. They all gaped at the long list of runes flashing through the air, the swirling mist of old and used magic happily revealing the need for secrecy and camaraderie.
"Well, that's interesting."
"Quite…who would have thought of such a convoluted spell casting?"
"Well, obviously the Marauders did. And they focused on voice recognition and password intonation."
There was a pause.
"So…what do you think the code is?"
Another pause, this one deeper and quieter than the last.
"Should we check The Pranksters' Big Book of Records?"
"The biographies, magically added to examine the personalities of the pranksters."
"It cased out their styles?"
"And their skills?"
She nodded again.
The twins looked at each other before grinning full out, suddenly proud that they had taken the time to get to know the quiet little library lion. They shrugged as she rolled her eyes at their renewed hungry expression, and she slipped away between the stacks to return only moments later.
They briefly paused and goggled at her ease in manoeuvring the gargantuan library.
"Here." She said firmly, her small finger pointing to the title of a chapter.
"They have their own chapter?" They gawped.
She smiled, a silent little laugh making her mouth gape as she covered her eyes in exasperation. "They have more than one. This is dedicated solely to the Marauders' personal profiles, they are known all over the UK!" She sniffed delicately as a slightly sour look overcame her. "I can't say that I am impressed, but I am glad that no one in school now has the gall to pull some of their pranks."
Fred and George ignored the written work, solemn and curious eyes set on their little witch as she shivered and winced and tried to hide it. Their grave eyes met as her brown eyes remained firm on the table grain, the pallor of her cheeks worrying and inciting all of their protective instincts.
It was so easy to fall for her proud intelligent smiles, her stunning eyes and straight shoulders even under the weight of her books and knowledge. But then, the quiet uncertainty of Hermione was a part of her too, and then there where moments when the twins where wholly reminded of her timidity and her stint as the butt of some heavy handed pranks…it was enough for the twins to want to ensconce her into some safe part of their mad little world.
No ill words or violence or prank would ever touch her.
They would make sure of it.
Fred snorted quietly, "How about their names?"
"Arrogant…but too obvious."
A delicate, offended sniff was Fred's reply as he attempted it anyway. " Moony, Wormtail, Prongs, Snuffles…"
"Told you. How about It's Time to Maraud!"
George only ended up slightly embarrassed and staring at a blank parchment.
A snicker from Hermione.
The parchment suddenly had ink appear, paw prints of various animals tracking along the creases before forming into words. The twins gaped happily at the genius displayed, ignoring Hermione's laugh at the biting comments they read in response to their sad attempts at passwords.
Really, that was simply uncalled for.
Fred huffed and glowered, his stance settling deeper so he could regard the puzzling parchment without swaying on unsteady feet. "I dare say that they were brilliant- worthy of a prankster's title."
"Maybe a little too pompous," George intoned, carefully watching Hermione's anxious expression as she shifted and then leaned forward- the cautious light to her eyes disappearing under their quiet understanding to be replaced with curiosity.
"Introduce yourselves at least, it's only proper."
"We can't see its brain."
"Mum always says that you"-
"Never trust anything if'-
"You can't see where it's"-
She grimaced, "That's mildly disturbing- if magic is based on the intents of the user and spells are left behind on objects that have no brain in the first place…why it's like saying we leave bits of our brain in every spell we perform."
Fred barked out a laugh. "Well, be glad you're a know-it-all then."
"Yes," George nodded sagely, "you have lots to spare."
"On the other hand"-
"Share one mind."
"Right, and I am Socrates reincarnated."
"Why else would we be so in tune with each other?"
"Able to finish our thoughts in each others heads?"
"Understand with the barest of glances?"
"Move together and mirror without any forethought?"
"That's your bond, nothing to do with your brain."
They raised eyebrows at her.
She sighed exasperatedly. "You're twins!"
They exchanged a dubious glance before staring at the little lion witch.
"You grew up cribs beside each other- it's only natural that you've developed a language all your own. I imagine you might not even be aware of how you communicate through body language- and maybe even a bit of it is a mind link; I've read of stuff like that."
George laughed, "Hermione, you can still see where we have our brain…s?" He stuck out his tongue as her face twisted- her nose wrinkling and her lips curling into a smile.
"Right, fact of the matter is we don't want to introduce ourselves."
"Fine, be rude!" She threw up her hands. Then she sobered and gave them a contemplative glare with narrowed eyes, wagging a finger in warning. "Don't say I didn't give you warning."
"Ah, a warning; Little Miss Knowledge has a fair few."
"Indeed she does. One might think she actually cared."
"Ack! Lies! She's far too smart for the like of us."
"Fie, court jesters 'til the end."
Hermione rolled her eyes and smiled. "At least you have firm positions in the court- I dare not guess what I'd be."
"Not the courtly lady, for certain."
"No, too forthright for that… maybe she's the magician?"
They both grimaced.
"With flashy spells and gaudy robes?" They spoke simultaneously before shaking their heads frantically and making a disgusted sound.
Hermione's face softened as she watched them and the twins felt that she was, once again, fondly examining all the differences between them and finding amusement in the fact that she could see them both as one and as two- while everyone else saw them as one big mess.
She had a habit of falling into her moments of speculation, and they had grown accustomed to it and then endeared to it. It only served to remind them that she cared to decipher who was who and the differences that only made them more similar. Twinship was an odd thing, and the Weasley twins were no exception- they found that the more they became unique adults the more they seemed to mesh like two parts of one whole.
Maybe that was only because they'd grown up relying on each other in a large full household…but they hadn't realized they'd been dissatisfied with their lot until Hermione had come and seen them as separate individuals who were part of one whole.
And she treated them no differently for it.
So they let her have her moment, murmuring quietly as they continued their game.
"Could she be the princess then?"
"Nah, much too loud and bookish. How about the queen? Certainly she's strong and bossy enough."
Hermione glared with a pouted smirk, her cinnamon eyes twinkling as she scrunched up her nose and then stuck out her tongue.
"Not with that immature reaction, Good Merlin my dear; whatever happened to your ladylike charm?"
She snorted and rolled her eyes. "I lost it when I started hanging out with the knight-jesters."
They smirked and snapped their fingers, enlightenment seemingly falling upon them. "If she is not any of the above, and reacts strongly and instinctively- all the more influenced by our stunning example – there is only one thing she could be." They bowed with a flourish, "The twin knights' pet lion."
She gasped and reached across the table to smack them, barely managing to skim her fingers on Fred's shoulder as the twins skipped away and laughed. They whispered theatrically to each other, huddling with exaggerated care. "The lion has sharp claws, and doth desire to render us bloody for our light words."
"To be sure, she has plans she does."
"Dark, sinister type plans."
"Plans meant to foil our valiant attempts to make the courtly hearts lighter"-
"To bring joy to the hearts of the children!"
"For shame! What villainy lives in our midst!"
"Speak of your villainy and outrageous desires."
"Speak the truth, little witch, for we will know if you do not."
Hermione regarded them solemnly, a hand coming up over her heart as the other rose to the air in mock salute. She nodded regally, "I solemnly swear I am up to no good."
And then the three burst into giggles.
They abruptly broke off to gape, their wide eyes blinking as they tried to recover their wits while staring at the Marauder's Map.
George, quietly, recalled them from their stupor. "Well, what do you know?"
Hermione dryly spoke up- "I didn't."
Nonetheless, they stared happily at their accomplishment.
Until…"So, how do we make it stop?"
There was a pause.
"Fred!" Came their affronted rebuke.
Fred and George laughed and joked around with their little witch, careful not to use too much force when they 'accidentally' knocked into her while roughhousing with each other. She was slowly getting used to the physical contact, and her timid responses and small hugs only made them find her more endearing. To truly accidentally knock her over would probably scare her and wreck all their hard work.
That she was laughing and had her books down in her bag while her head was held up high, to watch them and talk with them, sent a little thrill through them and a little bit of snappy pride to their straight spines. The twins weren't considered the best brothers to any of their siblings, but then they'd never needed to fill that role. Bill and Charlie were ample protection for little Ron or Ginny, and so the twins had fallen into the role of troublemakers- they didn't resent this at all. But sometimes, when they were being far too philosophical, they wondered if they hadn't gotten the chance to be anything else.
When they had stumbled upon Hermione, everything they'd admired, and maybe envied, about their other brothers had risen in their blood. They were protective and nurturing and strong- they were her brothers. She needed them more anyway.
So it was entirely acceptable that these strong fostering thoughts were in their heads even when they were holding a mundane conversation about the houses of Hogwarts.
"So the Ravens are smart, but really- what different is that to cunning?"
"And I take offence! I'm sly as they get! Why can't I be considered cunning?"
"You have the wrong tail brother."
A pause filled with Hermione's small giggle.
"In that case, so do you- lion."
"Ah, but I would rather be brave enough to carry out those risky projects than slimy enough to dodge even due credit!" He wiggled his eyebrows.
"True," George blinked. "But to be Hufflepuff, with the tenacity to follow through and the perfect disguise!"
"Alas! None suspect the innocent Puffs!"
Both twins swooned, Hermione's laughter ringing out as she dodged a flamboyant hand gesture from Fred. "Honestly, you talk as if you can only have one house quality in you."
"What?" Both twins recovered, shocked and portraying strong playful dismay.
"Methinks she's secretly a raven supporter, perhaps we should question her loyalties."
"I do agree; the lady behaves suspiciously."
"Lions must be proud and courageous, ready to face battle and stand up for their clan!"
"It's called a pride; a pride of lions, not a clan." She shook her head in exasperation.
They grinned, mischief and magic and menacing. "But still, you're part of the pride. You need to claim your quality and embrace it!"
"I think I'm proud enough; there is a point where it's too much you know."
"A lion can never put down his crown; he walks as one of the favoured creatures."
"A badger serves just as high a purpose."
"In the food chain, all animals are needed for balance. If there were no badgers, ravens, snakes – or any others – the lion would stumble in exhaustion. Where would its pride be then? It's courage to go on even when he has no meat on his protruding ribs or energy to keep on fighting."
Both twins gave disgusted grimaces- "Strong imagery."
She smiled wryly- "It's your overactive imagination."
"Well then, dear heart."
"Yes, what house do you best represent then?"
She smiled and took a few contemplative steps, her eyes sparkling as her hands came up to play with the curls that had fallen to cover her cheeks.
"Well, there's 'Ravenclaw' knowledge- certainly, with the imagination to practically apply her knowledge into 'Slytherin' schemes… and the guts of 'Gryffindor' (of course) to follow through despite circumstance. I dare say I am doing just fine." She grinned, "I happen to like the certain qualities of all the houses that I have."
Fred grinned. "You forgot Hufflepuff."
She tilted her head, honestly confused. "But everyone is a Hufflepuff. That's the point."
George grinned. "But that can't be true as there are four separate houses."
She shook her head, eyes on them as if she didn't understand why they couldn't understand. "Yes, it is because the other three were picky and ignorant that they focused on the qualities they had and looked for them in students- truly arrogant of them. But Hufflepuff said that she would teach them all the same, and she did. They are purebloods and muggleborns, hard workers and loaf-abouts, and they stick up for each other bravely and they scheme just like every other teenager out there and knowledge is only an application of your passion. Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin; it doesn't mean anything except stereotypes and arrogance."
Fred and George shared a wry amused grin before they spoke in unison. "Big hearted Helga is what that is; houses are for your most dominant qualities."
She shook her head furiously. "No that's a technicality. We all have the qualities of every house in certain moderations, and it's able to shift in your personality. Deciding houses and alliances and the future based on a mere sliver of one's soul is like encouraging the disparity. Like saying I'm a muggleborn even though I am still a witch." She looked at them with an odd light in her eyes. "I thought you two would understand that." And she shook her head more gently.
Severus Snape swooped in to the hall at that time, pausing before approaching with a cold veneer on his face. "Is there anything wrong here?" His oily voice and sarcasms were heavy and suggestive, his eyes dark and glowering from under lanky fringe as he stood with his imposing height.
Hermione looked up serenely, even smiling slightly at her dark professor before she replied. "Nothing Professor, I was just leaving." And she nodded cordially, gathered her bag closer to her, and then left.
All three men watched her leave, and then when she was out of sight Snape whirled on them with a furious light in his dark eyes. "If I discover that you two were making life hard for Miss Granger there will be hell to pay."
Fred and George nodded darkly as they watched the dour man sweep away; his hissing curses audible under his breath as he continued to the dungeons.
The twins looked at each other and quickly made sure that no one was around watching them. Then it was fair game; they whipped out the Marauders map and frantically looked for their little bookworm. They spotted the speck of Hermione Granger moving down the halls to the third corridor and they quickly figured out the shortcut through the tapestry of Miranda Skyhawk in order to cut her off before she neared the secret hall to the library.
They stumbled upon her hugging her books to her chest, her chin down as she watched her feet and walked through the halls.
"Hermione!" They shouted, anxious to clear over the muddled conversation that had hurt both sides. She stiffened in response, and George uttered a creative curse as he bent over to catch his breath and Fred shuffled nervously.
"Hermione, we're sorry."
"Yeah," panted George, looking up through his fringe of red hair. "But you have to understand that you think differently."
Hermione stiffened and glared. "So…what?"
Fred puffed out a nervous breath. "No, we mean that…er." He trailed off, at a loss about explaining that her muggle heritage gave her a different perspective- wizarding children had grown up with bias regarding the houses, they wouldn't think anything of it.
It sounded bigoted, even in his head.
George sighed heavily and brushed his hair away from his forehead. "Look Hermione, Fred and I are used to being grouped together as twins, but really we are Fred and George. The distinction is nice to have."
She sighed and shook her head. "But you two try to be as similar as possible, because you are twins. You have a connection that can't be stopped. And as witches and wizards we should have a connection that shouldn't be divided by personalities and blood."
Fred swallowed, George looked to the floor- they both contemplated their coordinated attempts to confuse everyone about their identities, to mesh themselves so only they knew exactly which twin was which.
(And sometimes even that wasn't a sure thing- but Hermione always knew and it was perfect.)
Finally they sighed and offered contrite looks to the little witch, and she smiled and laughed lightly before pushing her book into her bag and hooking her arms around theirs. "Let's go to the library, I think I remember finding a book you two might be interested in."
And the twins grinned and were forgiven.
"Fred! GEORGE!" Rang a frantic shout from down the hall, and the twins spun around to meet Hermione Granger as she flew down the steps and her wide eyes caught theirs. The twins exchanged panicky looks, worry taking over their features as they caught the little witch and pulled her into an unused classroom.
She panted and frantically threw her bag down upon a desk, her hands going to grip her hair as she paced and muttered and tried to calm down.
"Hermione? Calm down okay."
"Yeah, it'll be okay. Just tell us what's wrong."
"We can't help if we don't know what it is."
"And we will help."
She sniffled and looked up to them with a watery smile, wringing her hands together as she swallowed. "I figured out one of the teachers is the one who's been causing all the mishaps, I really didn't mean to listen in on their conversation but they startled me and I couldn't reveal the hidden passageway." She gave them a shy smile and pleaded with her eyes.
Fred tsked and pulled her to his side, running a hand over her head to smooth out her frazzled hair as George wiped the tear tracks off her face. "And it's bad?"
"Dumbledore won't do anything?"
She shook her head and sniffled, snuggling further into Fred. "Dumbledore might already be aware, he's awesome like that- but it's why I don't think he'll help. He's so used to being powerful and wise that he forgets there are ways around his spells and protections." She shuffled slightly, her eyes darting about- "But only a teacher would know what spell to use to make Harry fall off his broom, and the troll that got loose could have only entered through a teacher access route." Her wide eyes suddenly looked up to both of them, and they both softened at the large darkness that had become of her fear. "I don't know what to do."
"Okay," George said softly as he rubbed her back. "What do we need to do?"
And she smiled, it was only a shade of her usual brightness but it made them all the happier to see it. Hermione would be okay; they just needed to make sure she had no reason to worry.
"Harry's in danger, he and Ron found Fluffy and will try to follow the mole. But then he'll meet up with protections from the adults. Hagrid let it slip that Fluffy falls asleep to music, and that means whoever's looking for the Philosopher's stone has the answer to two of the traps inside the school."
Fred looked at George over Hermione's shoulder, wondering how their little witch knew all this stuff.
She gasped in a breath as she started panicking again, her eyes darting about to keep track of all her thoughts. "But something's off, and I think the dark lord might make an appearance. The unicorn's that have been slain in the Forbidden Forest had their blood taken- it's to maintain life…or immortality. Something Voldemort desires. This means that Harry might run into more trouble than he can handle."
And as she finished she looked up to them so plaintively they ignored whatever sense was niggling at the back of their minds telling them to be cautious. Their blood brother was undoubtedly a part of this, and Hermione was worried. She looked up to them to fix it- and they would.
Both boys nodded and smiled at their little witch. And as she relaxed and emitted a tiny, relieved hiccup their burning eyes looked to each other and decided.
Harry wouldn't be going to face whoever made this whole mess alone.
They nodded and gave her a brief hug, and when they pulled away their faces were set in determination; their lips firmed and eyes hard as their jaws tensed. "What do we need to do?"
She took in a deep breath and gestured to start walking to the third floor corridor. "I'll subdue fluffy, the next safeguard should be easy enough because you're both really smart. It's only Snape's that I'm worried about- but you'll figure it out. Just catch up to Ron and Harry, and make sure to have his back. I'll try to keep the professors from realizing what's going on until you're at least ten minutes gone."
Fred stopped in front of the door, and he watched quietly as Hermione took out a flute and stated some meek notes, the music growing louder and more purposeful as her eyebrows furrowed and her eyes narrowed.
They entered the room together- only startling slightly at the gigantic three headed dog sleeping beside an opened trap door (really, what else would they expect from Hagrid?). George gulped and nodded to his brother, sending a brief smile Hermione's way as she watched them worriedly.
They tried not to notice the expensive harp playing the same tune as Hermione, and they grinned at each other as they both jumped down the tunnel- this just might be fun….
The Devil's Snare was simple, the game of Giant chess interesting, the flying key a riot, the potion riddle amusing…but the mirror and the encounter with Voldemort's host…not so fun. On top of that was Harry's subdued confusion at their appearance and Ron's irritated glower- they knew the two boys weren't thinking of gratitude…but really.
The twins still emerged relatively unscathed; tired and weary and grumbling about puzzles but safe.
Fred helped George stand as he cradled a sprained wrist, and when they finally came forth from the bowels of the chamber – a weary Harry on Fred's back and Ron stumbling along beside them – they were met by a contingent of antsy teachers and the quiet figure of their little witch.
They handed Harry to Madame Pomfrey, her stretcher ready as she forced Ron to accompany her- he did so reluctantly, giving them an off look that twisted grossly when he glared at Hermione.
She ignored him and was suddenly in their arms, crying and worriedly patting their faces and looking them over for injuries. The quiet twins finally smiled; their shoulders relaxing as they held their special little witch and her lips finally smiled and choked out a laugh.
And they were all smiling as they turned to the suddenly towering teachers, dark eyes regarding them with stern confusion- the twins grinned more as Hermione blushed and fidgeted. Dumbledore regarded them strangely, but then he slowly shook his head, his long beard swinging across his purple robes, and he merely suffered a long sigh before giving them a nod and setting off in the direction of the hospital wing.
McGonagall shifted- her tartan housecoat thick and shielding as she regarded them from down the bridge of her nose. She sniffed delicately, and then she muttered something that sounded quite like 'Well I never'- though it sounded like something they were not supposed to hear.
Fred grinned, because they had heard.
George spoke. "Of course not, dear Professor. I dare say you would have never gotten caught quite as spectacularly as we have- isn't that right Fred?"
"Oh, of course it is. Why, Miss McGonagall would have been a holy terror- and none would have been the wiser."
Professor Snape snorted from his position in the shadows, looking them over carefully before his expression softened upon Hermione. She offered up one of those tiny little smiles she reserved for when she was being completely honest and forthright, and the twins practically felt a break in the tension as their dour potions master gave a conceding nod of his head to the young girl.
The two Gryffindor boys stiffened as Snape gave them an inscrutable stare- and became quite flabbergasted when the man only narrowed his eyes before his lips curled in sly satisfaction and he also gave them a nod.
McGonagall's lips twitched before she threw up her hands, her face wry and humoured as she gave them a stern glare (with Dumbledore's twinkle) before coughing out in her burr. "Miss Granger saw fit to explain everything, and I can only say that I'm appalled there is such a lack of faith in the authorities of Hogwarts that you didn't come to a professor first." She paused and gave them a heavy look. "That said, I can now say that I am also very proud that you three saw fit to aid your fellow students despite the risk Miss Granger undoubtedly warned you of."
The twins beamed at their little witch, and then gave each other smirks.
"Now, I want to return to my rooms and forget about this until the morning."
Flitwick twittered from his perch beside Hagrid, looking all the more miniscule and irrelevant with the large man blubbering so close to him. He finally smiled with his hooked teeth- "My guess is that the points would counter each other gents and little lady. So just go off to bed and everything should be set right in the morning."
Hagrid honked his nose loudly on a large, stained hanky. "Ah'm sorry I lost it. I just loved Fluffy- an' he's sleeping so peacefully. Hermione darling, you're absolutely beautiful with animals."
Hermione was wide eyed and blushing as the twins led her past the remaining faculty- they smiled to her as she finally giggled. And everything was alright again.
People might not understand (and Ron could give them all the glares he wanted to) but the mismatched trio were alright. They'd survived the school year, and had a strong sense of who they were to show for it; they would survive the coming years just as adeptly.
And they did.
This has been on my flash drive for a long time, I've been writing it and writing it and trying to finish it so here it finally is. I really enjoyed writing the twins XD
http:// fanfiction.portkey .org/index. php?actread&storyid7614