Review offering insight to the story:

"Just came across this story and I absolutely love it! I love LOVE your stories. They are so amazing. No matter who you pair up with Hermione...your stories are beautiful. I love that Fred and George took Hermione under their wing and made her feel wanted after her best friends had left her. You have an amazing ability in mixing the humor and drama so seamlessly. I love that you kept the twins' prankiness (is that even a word? hee hee) in character and was able to mix Hermione's bookworminess and not have her too uptight and have her mesh well with the twins. It was awesome. I can't wait for your next update. I'll be waiting to see how the interaction between the original trio and the new trio comes about. I hope that Hermione and Fred will be able to put Ron and Harry in their place and that they'll realize just what their selfish actions affected their former best friend. You're awesome! Did I already tell you that? You're on my fave authors list as of now.Kisses!" -twinsie of FanFiction net.

Thank you to the following reviewers: PyroAngel8605, mackgirl, FmaFan10, VickieL, medussasasaphoenix, Beneeta, Jester08, dee-dee142, Secret Thought, e.zap, bookworm-4-ever2012, Canadian Harry Potter Fan, Lindsey, SunlitShadows, Kaotic Silence, ADE22, jessirose85, GoodMorningCampers, Miss Ginevra Zabini, medfanofreading, mer-person, sweetgirl23,punkpanda56, amrawo, avchocaholic, ElNenero,hazelelf1183, dracosluvr18, Cherelle Potter, Ginevra-Summers, canary17, shortee962, thunder sister, Readerforlife, squash, FSChaos, TiReD-Of-BeInG-SoRrY, Sun Doll,that-belle, mama0407, shelubbsu, siameseXdream, Black Mirror, I.don't.trust.quiet, ARtemIs07, Aria DeLoncray,Narcissas Sister, Ledophole, fanfic fan, misssweetsweet, F75,Jas120, KandyFloss, Sink Me, Shiva'sGirl, Galleon-to-Galleon, girlspike,Carnivorous Angel, PrincessAsbach, Dee,Shdwcat27, BeckiSoup, Caramel Crazy, tinybee, pinkie1220, drusezgrrbaddog, Iwannaknow, ProperT, Books.Cleverness.Friendship, Aswen, xXx-Keldary-Queen-xXx, rhapsodysenigma, bethygirl94, sakura430, 3621, Dizi 85,Lemon-X-Drop, monketprobs,Puella Deorum, xXTwilight PrincessXx, seraphinn, badhairdays, goobderhead11750, ThE-bOrEd-OnEs, clementines4ever, Ron-girl, Lyn, moon mistrop, sue, abyssgirl, countrygurl514, e.zap, TheCrzyinglyInsne1, crazedykid, Tate Dean,kireemarie, HarryPGinnyW4Eva, Kneazle,kalina-blue, sakuralilystars,samy-latina, jamy21, Binx23, Isabelle Black, twinsie, Amerise Rei and especially Tears of Ebon-Grey, lvswtht, SeanEmma4Evr and MissFinnWeasley.

While You Were Gone
Chapter Four

Hermione smiled farewell at the last customer to leave her shop, locking the door up with a strong charm and then returning to her till to take out the days earnings. She'd bring it home and go through what was made and place it in a safe place after adding the numbers up in her ledger. After filling the sack she regularly used, she tied it to a loop on the inside of her robe and walked toward the reading circle her three children were currently enjoying. They summer had them out of daycare and Muggle elementary school, so Hermione brought them in with her to spend the day. Some days Fred took them out and others Molly watched over them, but for the last while they'd been reading every children's book on the shelves, of which she was sure they owned at home, and drawing more pictures than Hermione had places to pin them to.

"You guys ready to go?" she asked as she entered the circular space. Austin and Brody were putting away the last of the chalk and crayons while little Aiden snoozed away on one of the beanbag chairs. Smiling lightly, Hermione moved over and gathered her youngest up in her arms, not surprised to see her three year old daughter simply snuggle closer and continue sleeping. She was like her father that way; could sleep through just about anything.

"Can we stop and get ice cream, mum?" Austin asked, closing the box of chalk and wiping the remnants off on his pants unapologetically. He looked up at her with his green eyes wide and hopeful.

Snorting, Hermione shook her head. "Maybe after dinner you can have some. We'll see. We've gotta get home though, or you're dad will get there before us again," she said, wrinkling her nose. She nodded her head at them to follow and then made her way toward the stairs leading to the upstairs office. She felt Brody take hold of the back of her robes, his small hand clinging to the fabric. The old stairway had no lighting and Brody had a long standing fear of the dark. He usually made Fred or her carry him through shadowed areas but Hermione's arms were already filled and she was adamant that he learn that there was nothing hiding in the dark. Not anymore, anyway. Austin, unlike his brother, jumped up each step, which took much longer to get up them fully, but he simply smiled whenever his mum sighed in exasperation.

Hermione took a handful of floo powder and tossed it into the grate. "You first, Austin," she told him, motioning with her hand.

Nodding, Austin stepped into the green flames and shouted, "The Dwelling."

As he disappeared in a swirl of green, Hermione turned to her middle child, smiling at him encouragingly. "Go on, Brody sweetheart, you've done it a thousand times before. You're practically a professional," she told him, winking.

Shifting on his feet, he walked forward as his mum tossed some more powder into the grate. "You'll come right after?" he asked shyly.

"I promise," she told him, nodding.

Taking a deep breath, Brody followed suit, jumping into the grate and closing his eyes tight, shouting out the name of their home.

Sighing, Hermione looked down at her sleeping daughter. "I have no idea where the shy bit comes from. Both your father and I have never been the most introverted of people." Her daughter snoozed away and Hermione smiled at her, rubbing a curled finger over her soft cheek before she tossed the powder into the grate and followed after her sons.

"Hah!" Fred greeted her, Brody in his arms and Austin chewing on an apple as he stood nearby, looking up at his parents. "Beat you again! How many is that this week?"

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Three out of four days, but I have three left and I plan to win this." She pointed her finger at him before walking toward the kitchen.

"Not gonna happen, love. We'll be vacationing where I choose this time," her husband exclaimed, following behind her. "Isn't that right, B.W?"

Brody looked at his mum and then back at his dad. "Probably," he allowed, shrugging.

"Traitor," Hermione teased, winking at him. "Bet Austin thinks I'll win," she boasted, looking over at Fred with raised eyebrows.

"'Course he will," Fred said, reaching back to ruffle Austin's red hair as he followed them into the kitchen.

"What?" he asked, through a mouthful of apple.

"Who d'you think will win the bet?" Fred wondered, sitting down in a chair at the table. "So far I have three days and your mum has one. We've got three left."

"Mum," he replied immediately, looking over at her with a smile, his chin covered in dribbling apple juice. "She always does."

Hermione smiled smugly at Fred, who rolled his eyes, grinning. "Son, one day you'll learn that men have to stick together."

"He will not," she denied, crossing the room to stand in front of him, her eyes thinned coyly. "He'll grow up to learn women are almost always right and men simply have to live with it," she told him, her voice lowering as he came closer, his head bowing so their faces were just mere inches from meeting.

"Mione, love, don't lie to the boy," Fred replied, his nose brushing against hers. "We both know that the only women who're usually right are you and mum, and half the time we men agree out of survival instinct."

Hermione laughed, nuzzling his cheek with her nose. "Then you'll agree with me now, Fred Weasley, or risk your life. I haven't had my welcome home kiss yet and that's surely a poor execution on your part as all knowing man."

Smirking, Fred nodded, leaning forward to brush his lips against hers. "Simply building up the momentum darling," he breathed, his mouth slanting across hers in a well known ritual that had Hermione standing on her tip toes as he drew away inch by inch, trying her best to keep the wonderful sensations creating heaven in her lips going awhile longer.

"You guys are yucky," Brody declared, shaking his head and reaching out to tug on his fathers collar to get his attention. "D'you really know everything, daddy? About the monsters in the dark too? Can you get rid of them? They want to eat me!" he told him, his eyes wide and his expression full of innocent fear.

"B.W., the monsters that live in the dark wouldn't dare eat you," Fred assured, leaning back from his wife and putting all of his attention on his second eldest son.

"They said so! They said they would!" Brody told him, shaking his head, his eyebrows lifted. "I even did what Austin told me to and they still came back!"

"What did Austin tell you to do?" Hermione asked, her brow furrowing as she looked over at her eldest as he froze, apple pressed against his open mouth, but not taking a bite, his eyes opened wide.

"He told me if I gaved it candy it would leave me alone. But it didn't!" Brody shook his head wildly with emphasis. "They ated the candy but they still came back for me!"

Hermione scoffed, turning quickly to see Austin slink towards the door. "Austin George! Were you scamming your little brother for sweets?" she asked, her voice raising with indignation.

"No!" he denied, his shoulders slumping as he turned to her, his mouth pouting. "The monsters didn't want the sweets so it was only fair that I ate them! I tried to help!" he defended.

Fred snorted. Trying to hide his amusement he turned his smiling face away from his angry and flushed wife and mischievous son.

"You know very well that there aren't any monsters up there!" she reminded, shaking her head and frowning at him.

"There are, mummy! I sawed them! They want to eat me!" Brody claimed, his voice rising with vigor.

Sighing, Hermione turned back to Brody to console him only to see her husbands shoulders shaking with laughter. "Fred!" she admonished, slapping his arm.

Shrugging, he looked over at her, his expression taking on one of innocence. "What? It's just... He's so much like me," he told her, grinning over at Austin as he leaned against the wall, eyes venturing back to the door for an escape.

"Yes, well I'll deal with the mini-you if you'll please help Brody out of his irrational fears," she replied, lifting a brow at him.

Fred let out a long breath. "You know, B.W., there used to be monsters in the dark. Really dark, scary ones. Ones that gave little children like you nightmares and even plagued adults like your mum and me," he admitted, nodding as his son looked up at him with surprise.

"Even you, daddy?" he asked, his mouth dropping open in shock.

"Even me," he told him. "But a few years before you were born, those dark monsters were destroyed. All the good wizards and witches of the world got together and they vanquished all the bad monsters from all the dark places in the world. And you know how I know?" he asked, looking down at his awed son.

"How?" he wondered in awe.

"Because your mum and I were two of those good people. We went out and we searched for all the monsters and we made sure they wouldn't hide in any more dark places or come after anymore good children like you." He grinned at his son as he smiled slowly. "So you see, there aren't any monsters hiding in the dark and even if there were they'd know not to do anything to you. You're a Weasley, Brody, all dark monsters are scared of Weasleys!"

"All of them?" He looked only mildly doubtful, as he always trusted his dad to tell him the truth.

"Every single one," Fred told him, nodding emphatically. "He's probably more scared of you than you are of him, that's why he keeps saying he'll eat you."

"Yeah?" Brody asked, his expression brightening.

"Yup! So the next time he says he'll eat you, you just tell him, 'No way, monster, I'm a Weasley. I eat monsters like you for breakfast!'"

Giggling, Brody shook his head. "Eew!"

Chuckling, Fred messed Brody's hair up and then turned to see Hermione watching him with a soft expression on her face. Hearing the scuffling feet of her other son, however, her face fell and she turned to see Austin reaching out to push the door to the living room open.

"Not another step, young man," Hermione called out, shaking her head. Walking over, she knelt down in front of him. "I'm very disappointed in you. Using your brothers fears like that for your benefit. What were you thinking?" she asked, reaching out to tug on his shirt so he'd lift his chin to look at her.

"Daddy told me he did somethin' like it to Uncle Percy!" he told her, shaking his head, eyes wide and brimming with tears. It was well known that the one thing Austin couldn't handle was his mother's disappointment.

Hermione's jaw clenched and she turned to look up at Fred who was wincing and backing up toward the door leading out onto the porch.

"My fault, love. Give the boy a break, I reckon," he said, a strangled chuckle escaping him.

"Fred Weasley!" she exclaimed, shaking her head. "Whatever will I do with all of you?" she asked, the fight going out of her as she looked around at the three men in her life.

"Love us lots and lots and never be disappointed in us?" Austin suggested, moving forward to wrap his arms around her legs, sticky apple juice fingers staining her robes.

Hermione sighed, her shoulders falling in resignation. "Will you never do it again?" she asked pointedly, though Fred knew she was no longer all that angry.

"I promise!" Austin proclaimed, lifting his head to grin up at her happily.

"Good. As punishment, no ice cream after dinner." When Austin's face fell, she shook her head. "There'll be none of that. You should have thought of the consequences when you got all those sweets out of your brother."

Austin pouted, his arms falling to cross over his chest. Before he could reply, Aiden gave a loud yawn and snuggled closer to her mother. "Sweets?" she mumbled, only slightly interested as she was still half-asleep.

Fred laughed. "How's my princess?" he asked her, coming forward to peer down at her sleepy face.

Aiden smiled up at him, her eyes half lidded. "You bwing sweets, daddy?" she queried.

"Not today, darling," he replied, reaching out to tug on one of her fiery red curls. "After dinner you can have some ice cream, sound good?"

Aiden nodded, giving another yawn and stretching her legs out as if she were completely safe sprawled out in Hermione's arms.

"Why don't you all go play in your bedrooms awhile so your mum and I can make dinner?" Fred suggested, letting Brody down on the floor.

Austin looked up at his dad, a skeptical expression on his face. "You're not cooking, are you?" he asked, frowning.

Hermione snorted, reaching out to ruffle Austin's hair. "Stop teasing your dad and go play."

Austin shot them both a wide grin before reaching out and pushing Brody's shoulder. "You're it!"

"I don't wanna!" Brody whined, racing after his brother all the same.

"I wanna be it!" Aiden shouted, squirming out of Hermione's arms to chase after them. "Bwody! I wanna!"

With the kitchen now empty, Fred advanced on his wife, wrapping his arms around her waist and twirling her about. "How was work today? Miss me terribly?"

Chuckling, Hermione wrapped her arms around his neck, shaking her head. "Not in the least. Long, interesting day. Couldn't spare a moment to think of you. Went splendidly." She grinned up at him, enjoying his playfulness. This was a regularity in her life and she wondered sometimes if it was that thing missing from other people's marriages. They'd been married eight years and the spark hadn't been lost, the fun they had as two best friends was still there, the love hadn't dulled in the least. She couldn't imagine being closer to any other man, it was as simple as that.

"Didn't think of me once?" he asked, lifting a brow as his hands slid up her back slowly. He smirked as she shivered against him, her chin lifting as her head fell back, eyes connecting with his.

She shook her head. "Not once."

"Not even a little?" he queried, his mouth quirking.

She pursed her lips. "Perhaps a very tiny, little bit."

"How tiny?" he asked, leaning in to brush his nose down her cheek, teasing her lips with featherlight kisses that couldn't quell her desire but left her fighting stubbornly against the need to simply move forward and capture his mouth.

"So small I can barely remember," she murmured, her eyes slipping down to stare at his mouth. She licked her lips unconsciously.

"'Fraid I can't say the same," he told her, one of his hands burying in her thick curls. "Thought of you... a lot," he drawled, nipping at her bottom lip but pulling back before she could encourage more.

"A lot?" she asked, breathless.

"A lot a lot," he said, nodding. "Couldn't get you off my mind."

"Really?" she asked, nuzzling his nose with hers. "And what brought on this... desire?"

"I think," he whispered, his breath ghosting across her mouth, "it may have something to do with a promise given this morning. Something involving a bath, bubbles, quiet time... Ring any bells?"

"Perhaps one or two." Hermione's mouth pulled in a smile. "Has that been on your mind all day? I daresay, Mr. Weasley, you must learn to reign in that imagination of yours."

"Never," he breathed, before slanting his mouth over hers. Hermione melted into the embrace, his mouth hot against hers, tongue delving and twisting with her own. She felt his hand tighten in her curls, bringing her mouth up closer, while the other pressed against her back, fingers splayed over her burgundy robes. He sighed into her mouth, his grip slowly loosening. Their kissing eased into small, leisurely pecks that felt just as deep and loving as their feverish kisses. He had a way with her that left her utterly breathless and she supposed that was one of many reasons they simply belonged together.

"We should get dinner ready," he murmured, eyes still closed and mouth brushing against hers as he spoke. He slanted his mouth over hers a few seconds, nose nuzzling hers. "I was thinking some kind of pasta..." Trailing away from her mouth, he kissed a soft path down her neck, teeth making an appearance to nip at her teasingly. "Suppose a salad wouldn't kill me."

Hermione snorted, her hands rubbing his shoulders and her head thrown back in happy defeat. "And what are you going to do while I make dinner?" she wondered, biting her lip as he suckled a particularly sensitive part of her neck.

Trailing back up her throat, he nipped the bottom of her chin and grinned at her as she stared up at him with half-lidded eyes. "Figured I'd play with the kids. Hide and seek, Exploding Snap, two on two Quidditch," he listed.

Hermione frowned. "There's no way you're getting my babies up on brooms," she told him, shaking her head, brows raised.

"Love, Brody is five already. Austin started that young!" he reminded, smiling.

"Yes, I remember well. Austin broke his arm two weeks in," she told him, crossing her arms over her chest and taking a step back to keep her head about her.

Fred reached out, rubbing her upper arms soothingly. "I'll be right there beside him the whole time. George will spot him on one side, I'll spot the other, and we'll get Austin to watch his front."

"Yes, I can see it now! He'll fly forward, plow through Austin, and I'll have three boys in the hospital!" she told him, scowling.

"Three?" he asked, his brows furrowing.

"Yes, you'll be lying on a bed next to them when I'm through with you," she warned, tapping her foot.

Chuckling, he shrugged. "I've been through worse." Moving behind her, he wrapped his arms around her waist and rested his chin on her shoulder. "Come on, this'll be good for him. Brody's scared of everything, don't make him scared of flying too."

Sighing, Hermione felt her shoulders fall. "Fine. But I want constant supervision. No running inside for a butterbeer while he takes a trip around the field on his own."

"Agreed," he said, kissing the side of her neck. "You know what would be nice?"

"A night to ourselves, with a blanket under the stars, a bottle of wine and only each other to keep warm," she said, turning around slowly to look up at him coyly.

"You read my mind," he told her, grinning slowly.

"Just like before," she said softly, playing with the collar of his robes. "You remember when George found us? Clothes strewn about, wrapped tightly in that scratchy blanket of yours," she said, chuckling.

Fred smirked. "Found my pants hanging off a branch in that tree," he reminded. "Great night..."

"I bet Molly would enjoy having them over for a day or two," she suggested, tugging his tie out from beneath his robes and undoing it. "She's always saying she wants to see them more. We could close up shop for the weekend, spend some time alone, just each other."

"I think I could be persuaded." Kissing her forehead, he turned when he heard the loud laughter of his sons from the second floor of the house. "We'll discuss it later. You look like you could go for a nice, hot, bubbly bath." He lifted a suggestive brow and Hermione pursed her lips to hide her smile.

"All by my lonesome?"

"I think I know the perfect person to keep you company," he told her, a slow grin tugging his mouth up.

"Oh?" She furrowed her brow, tapping her chin. "But I thought George and Alicia were still going strong," she mocked in a faux-innocent voice.

Fred laughed, shaking his head. Waving a warning finger at her, he backed out of the room, calling up to the three rambunctious children that they had until the count of fifty to hide before he came and found them. Shrieking with excitement, they immediately scouted out places around the house to hide.


Author's Note: Sorry for the late update. Real life has just been really hard lately. I hope you enjoyed this! Those of you who are familiar with my Charlie/Hermione story, "Only In The World of Dragons," will be happy to know it's been nominated over at the UFO awards. It needs to be seconded to go into the final voting stage though. So please visit the site (a url can be found on my profile) and second me!

Thanks for reading and reviewing! It's very appreciated!
Much Love,
-Amanda