I Just Can't Relax With You
Hermione groaned as she made her way through the partially crumbled halls of Hogwarts. The war was over and good had triumphed over evil, but a mere glance at her surroundings showed that there was far more work to be done. Not just the physical repair of the building and the grounds, or the clearing of the bodies that still littered the area. No, the entire world needed reform now. Fixing the new and amended laws put in place by Death Eater control, as well as implementing new safeguards to prevent future infiltration. They would need a new Minister of Magic. She wondered briefly if Mr. Weasley or another member of the Order might take up the post, but she quickly shook her head to rid it of the thought. After hours spent fighting, following months of running, and searching, all she wanted was to get away from it all. For once, she simply didn't want to think.
She trudged up to the portrait of the Fat Lady which hung over the entrance to Gryffindor tower. Amazingly the painting seemed undamaged, although she was certainly agitated.
"What's happened?" The paintings plump occupant demanded. "Has the fighting ended? Violet and I haven't heard word since the tower was evacuated. Old Cadogan is running from painting to painting, demanding that we take arms as if we could actually do that."
Hermione sighed. "Wibblywobbly?" She guessed half-heartedly.
The Fat Lady stared at her. "What are you on about? Oh. Trying to guess the password? Well, too bad. Obviously if you belonged in here, you'd know it."
"But please," Hermione groaned. "The fighting's all over, I promise. I'm completely worn-out and I really don't have time for this. You must remember me. I was in Gryffindor for six years."
"Oh yes, was? Hmph. Greater wizards and witches than you have tried to break in here and failed. Now unless you've got news you'd care to share, you can run along."
Tears of frustration burned in her eyes as Hermione considered thrusting her wand right through the uncooperative painting. She flopped to the floor, feeling like she could fall asleep right there. Her entire body was aching. Her racing heart had finally calmed and the adrenaline that had been coursing through her body had diminished, leaving her exhausted.
"Buckbeak?" She guessed, imagining the feel of her soft bed and a fluffy pillow beneath her head. "Mandrake? Patronus? Snape?" She began to sniffle, tears running down her cheeks. "Flippit? Wishwash? Snitch?" The painting remained resolutely silent. Hermione threw her head back in frustration, wincing when it slammed back into the wall. "Dumbledore? Albus?! DA?!"
Suddenly the portrait swung open, startling Hermione. "Which one was it?" she asked, astonished to have figured it out. The Fat Lady sneered at her.
"It's bad enough to let you in. If you think I'll help any more you're mistaken." With a loud harrumph she vanished from her portrait, most likely in search of news from a source she'd consider more reputable than a former dropout student.
Ignoring the reaction, Hermione stepped through the portrait hole, groaning as she felt the muscles in her legs stretch. She stepped down on her sore feet tenderly and closed the door behind her.
She was half way up the steps to the girls dormitory when it occurred to her that Harry and Ron wouldn't be able to follow if them came looking for her. It almost seemed worth the risk to not have to walk all the way back across the common room but her sense of responsibility overrode her desire for rest and she made her way to the boys dormitory, stopping in the room that had once housed Harry and Ron along with Dean Thomas, Seamus Finnigan and Hogwart's newest and most unlikely hero, Neville Longbottom. She wondered briefly who Neville and Seamus had been roomed with while the others were gone. Reaching the first bed though, she dismissed the thought as unnecessary and collapsed onto the mattress face first. She shifted up slightly, kicking off her shoes and reaching out to pull over a pillow to rest on.
The bed felt like heaven and it seemed like she hadn't properly rested in over a year. There were dull thuds and yells echoing outside and in the halls but it all began to blur as she felt sleep beginning to take hold. She had nearly nodded off when she heard a more distinct voice coming from the common room.
"Such a lovely boy," the Fat Lady was commenting. Hermione frowned, wondering why the temperamental woman couldn't have thrown a compliment her way. There was a murmured response below, followed by the sound of footsteps approaching. Whoever it was stopped at the dormitory entrance and stood silent and still for a long minute before approaching.
She'd expected them to tell her it was time to go, or ask if she was alright. Instead she felt the mattress dip as they knelt at her right side. She was caught even more off guard when the mystery person took hold of one of her feet, rubbing against her heel so firmly she had to fight back a moan.
She'd assumed it was Harry or Ron who had come to find her, but she couldn't fathom either of them giving her a foot rub. Certainly not unprompted. She swallowed hard to keep her voice from coming out too unsteady and asked "Who's there?"
She heard a chuckle that any other time might have unnerved her, but she'd given over to the belief that all the bad in the world had been vanquished and the sound merely rolled over her, barely noticed.
"What, can't a guy come check on the girl who saved his life?"
It only took her a moment to realize it was Fred. The twins voices were distinctive enough for her to distinguish from anyone else in the school, and she couldn't think of any reason for George to be proclaiming her the saver of his life. Her mind flashed back to Percy and Fred joking, the sound of the wall as it imploded, and her weak voice muttering "Protego." It had all happened so suddenly she'd thought for sure she had been too late. Then Fred's face popped up with that trademark Weasley grin and he'd ushered them along to do what they had to. She suppressed a smile, hiding it against her pillow.
"Well that could be anyone," she replied, her exhaustion and suppressed elation making her feel decidedly cheeky.
Fred seemed to deliberate on this for a moment before sighing. "Suppose you're right. Witch like you must have blokes lining up out the door the thank you for saving them."
Hermione couldn't help letting out a small giggle. Normally she'd roll her eyes at his behavior and send him on his way, but right now it seemed to be exactly what she needed. An emotional release to match the physical wind down of her body that had led her to collapse into bed in the first place. "Say," she sighed drearily, his continued massage of her feet lulling her into a half sleep, "do you like owe me a debt now?"
She could practically picture Fred's frowning face as he shifted his weight, the bed springs creaking slightly. "A debt?"
"I've seen it in movies," she explained. "Muggle movies. Someone saves someone else's life, so the saved person owes the savior and becomes their slave or something."
"Gosh I hope not. I can just see it now. 'Fetch me these books!" he began in a prim and high pitched voice. "Bring me a thousand inches of parchment and a hippogriff quill!" He clapped his hands demandingly, the movement throwing him off balance and sending him laughing onto his side next to her. She turned her head to glare at him disparagingly.
"Honestly Fred. What kind of slave will you be if all you end up doing is bouncing on the mattress?" Hermione felt her cheeks warm instantly at the unintended innuendo of her comment and knew what Fred's response would be before it came.
"It depends on the kind of slave you want." He gave her a saucy grin and wink before sitting up and moving back towards the edge of the bed to return to rubbing her feet. She sighed, biting on her lip to keep herself from making some rather embarrassing noises.
It had been a long time since she'd let anyone give her any kind of massage. Mainly because of the whole moaning out loud issue. She couldn't help it if she was overly sensitive to that sort of thing but one embarrassing experience with her mum at a masseuse was enough to turn her off to the whole thing.
She let out a squeak as he ran his fingers along the arch of her foot and moved on to rub her aching calves. She heard him begin to make a response, most likely to make fun of her slip, but she cut him off before he had the chance.
"How'd you get in?" She asked.
His fingers moved rhythmically along the underside of her leg. "Ginny gave me the password. When she said you'd gone off to get away for a bit, I figured you'd come here… Well either that or the library."
Hermione snorted. "I'm too tired, even for books." She sighed as he dragged his knuckles along her legs all the way from her ankles to her knees. "What was the password anyway?"
She froze and felt the prickle of tears forming. She was certain that splattergroit hadn't been among the words she had guessed randomly. That ruddy old portrait had actually helped her. She would need a firm reprimand about the importance of her role guarding the tower come morning, but at the moment Hermione had nothing but affection for that dear Fat Lady.
"You need to relax more," Fred said, cutting off her thoughts. She craned her neck to look at him. "It's like every time I touch you, you flinch."
"Sorry," she mumbled, burying her face back in the pillow. He hit a particularly sensitive spot, causing her leg to jump. Fred didn't bothering hiding his laughter at the reaction.
"Relax," he told her firmly, sliding off the bed to stand behind her, giving him better leverage. "And stop trying so hard to be quiet. If I wasn't so confident in my amazingly talented hands, I'd have given up by now."
She apologized again, trying to force herself to relax. A contended sigh escaped her lips as his hands ventured up to grip her thighs, followed by a low groan as he pressed in firmly. Fred merely laughed again. "There you go. Gotta sound like you're enjoying it."
She was too distracted when he eased her robe up and moved further along her legs to hold back a loud moan that couldn't possibly be described as anything but erotic. Fred froze and she pulled the pillow from under her to cover her head, desperate to hide.
And then he laughed.
It was quite possibly the loudest, most obnoxious laugh she had ever heard, so naturally it was directed at her. "That's more like it," he gasped out. "Now I know I'm doing it right!"
"Oh go away," Hermione muttered.
"I don't know," he laughed. "It sounds like you might want me to stay."
She squeezed the pillow tighter over her head. "Can we please just pretend you didn't hear that?"
"But think of what it's doing for my pride!" He beamed. She was trying to think of some cutting remark (or a way to beg him to leave without telling every Weasley in the country) when he hopped onto the bed, plopping down on her legs. "Enough encouragement!" He cried playfully. "On to the back!"
"Fred, no-" The breath was knocked out of her with a sharp "oh" as he applied pressure to the base of her spine. "Mmmm," she sighed, thoroughly enjoying the feeling as he kneaded the tense muscles of her back. She allowed another loud moan to escape her, giving in to the delightful sensation as her body finally relaxed.
"Hermione, is that you?"
Hermione recognized Ron's voice immediately. So, it seemed, did Fred, who sat up quickly. There was a general murmuring making its way up the stairs and she realized that a number of people had entered the tower without either of their noticing.
Fred was still sitting there, straddling her thighs (made even worse by the fact that they were still bare from when he'd massaged them), with his hands held up awkwardly in the air, making him look more guilty than he should, as Ron walked in, his mouth hanging slightly agape from whatever he'd intended to say before being stunned silent. Harry filed in behind him, followed, much to Hermione's chagrin, by the remainder of the Weasley family. Fred rocked backward and she squeaked as he leant back on her still tense legs.
Ginny's eyes were as wide as if she'd seen one of the house ghosts come to life. She kept looking from Fred's face to Hermione's, trying to ascertain what exactly had been happening before they'd walked in.
Mr. Weasley cleared his throat loudly while his wife turned away, muttering about decency and thank goodness she had her well-behaved Percy back. Despite the situation, Hermione couldn't help noticing George's scowl at the compliment to his traitorous brother.
"Hello," Hermione offered weakly. "Are we leaving then, or…" She trailed off, unable to come up with any more to say. Fred was still sitting on top of her and she was doing her best to ignore his movement as he shifted uncomfortably.
"Well, if you two need some more time," George offered with a sly grin.
"No!" She jumped up, sending Fred tumbling to the floor. Leaning over the edge of the bed, she smiled down apologetically. "Sorry."
"Quite alright!" He jumped up, all smiles again, and trotted over to his brother. "Ah dear George, should have been here a few minutes ago. The sounds that come from that little girl."
Before Hermione could retaliate, Mrs. Weasley had her mischievous son held by the ear, dragging him from the room as he yelped for her to let go. George quickly followed to help his twin, or at least be there to witness whatever embarrassing punishment their mother might come up with.
"Is everything alright here?" Mr. Weasley asked, looking at Hermione with some concern. She nodded from her position on the mattress, still kneeling from when Fred had fallen. "Good then. It has been… a long, long day. Harry, Hermione, I do hope you'll come back to the Burrow tonight. I imagine we'll be getting quite a few visitors from the Order over the next few days, and after that we can sort things out with your own families."
Both Harry and Hermione nodded and watched as Mr. Weasley left with Percy.
Three sets of eyes turned to stare curiously at Hermione as she felt her face grow red. She tugged at the hem of her robes subconsciously.
"Just what were you doing with Fred anyway?" Ginny asked, eyeing her suspiciously. "I thought you'd gone off to be alone for a bit."
Hermione sighed. "I did. Fred just happened to come looking for me, and then…" She frowned. "Well, then he started to rub my feet."
Harry stared at her, disbelief evident on his face. "Fred? As in Fred Weasley, who lives to prank other people and make their lives more difficult? He just up and decided to give you a foot rub?"
"Sure didn't sound like a foot rub." Ron muttered from behind the other two. He was determinedly not looking at her.
"I think he wanted to thank me for using that shield charm," she explained, looking at them hopefully.
"Your robes," Ginny commented, her face less malicious and growing more cheerful by the moment. It was clear that she believed her, but like her brothers, would enjoy teasing her none the less. "They were awfully high up to be rubbing your feet."
"Yes, well. It kind of went from a foot rub to a leg rub."
"Gonna kill 'im," Ron grumbled. Harry shot him a concerned look, then turned back to Hermione.
"Well, if that's all, we probably should get back to the Burrow." He glanced at Ron again, obviously worried that the whole incident might turn into a row. Hermione had to admit that if she hadn't been so tired and embarrassed, it probably would have. Harry extended a hand to her and she took it, finally standing and taking a moment to appreciate how much better her body felt after the massage.
They walked back to the main hall, Harry in the lead, followed close by Ginny, then Hermione while Ron lagged behind, occasionally muttering to himself. They joined the remainder of the family, taking note of Fred's scowl as he rubbed the back of his head. He flinched every time his mother moved towards him, George howling with laughter each time. Hermione smiled at both of them, ignoring Ron's glares.
From there it was a long somber walk across the grounds until they could safely Apparate home. There was already a large gathering of wizards and witches, young and old, getting together with loved ones before leaving.
"Everyone ready?" Mr. Weasley asked. At their nods, he took hold of Ginny and the two disappeared.
"I'll see you all at home," Mrs. Weasley smiled warmly at all of them, then shot a sharp glare at Fred before she too Disapparated, followed closely by Bill, Charlie, Fleur and Percy.
George stepped over and bowed dramatically towards Harry, Ron and Hermione. "To the three annoying little kids who managed what no one else could have." When he straightened, he was smiling as always but they could see the sentiment was genuine.
As his twin turned to Disapparate, Fred made his way over to Ron. He leant over conspiratorially, speaking loud enough for everyone to hear. "Oi, Ronnikins. If you ever manage to get Hermione into your bedroom, make sure no one's home. If she's that loud from a little rubbing, I can't imagine what she's like when she's really enjoying it!"
Hermione swung out with her wand, a dozen hexes running through her mind, but he Disapparated with a loud crack before she was able to speak a single word. Ron stared at her, his face an awful shade of puce before splinching himself in an attempt to Disapparate away quickly. Several older wizards came running over to help and once he was together properly, he left for the Burrow without another word. Hermione turned to Harry for help on what to do now but he merely shrugged before they both turned on their heels to leave Hogwarts behind.
There was probably a good deal of screaming and spell casting at the Burrow, but Hermione couldn't say that was all that different from any other day. That was life with the Weasley's, and she'd learned a long time ago that despite the noise, clutter, chaos, and occasional embarrassment she suffered, she wouldn't have it any other way.