Maybe Next Time
Hermione Granger glanced up at Fred Weasley, trying to hide her blush as they stood outside the portrait to the Gryffindor common room. Why on Earth had she done this where anyone could walk right up and see? Granted, just asking him to come this far seemed odd enough, but given the circumstances, he would have understood.
"I'm a bad boyfriend."
She sighed. She'd known telling him how she felt had been a long shot. She'd also expected him to try to let her down gently without actually saying no. Hearing it still hurt though.
"How charming," she replied sarcastically, hoping to mask her embarrassment. "Do you say that to all the girls?"
"No, I don't. But I actually care about you. You're like a sister to me. So just don't... say that or think about it or anything. Go back to Ron and Harry and stick with them."
"But I don't-" She sniffed and Fred frowned as her eyes began to water.
"Aww, don't cry." He ruffled her hair. "Come on now. I bet by tonight you'll be thinking it was silly to say anything."
"Yeah," she moped. "You'll probably be laughing about it with George all week."
He sighed, leaning against the wall. "I wouldn't do that. I said I was a bad boyfriend, not a complete arse."
Hermione frowned ruefully. "I suppose."
"Look, I mean it. You'd be far better off going out with Ron or Seamus or Neville. Hell, even George would be a better choice than me, though not by much."
"Yeah, right. How can you be so popular then? Just about every Gryffindor girl wants to date you."
"And some guys," he sighed before grinning. "What can I say? The Weasley Twins are charming guys and great friends. But, put us in a situation involving commitment and rules and that all falls apart."
Hermione shifted, knowing that their limited privacy would be interrupted sooner than later. Really, she just wanted this to be over with. "I guess that's that then."
She turned to walk away, stopping when Fred put his hand on her shoulder. He pulled her into a hug from behind, his chin resting on her head. "Thanks though."
"For telling me. It certainly took a fair amount of that Gryffindor courage."
Hermione snorted. "I'm sure."
"I mean it. I never would have guessed and... it means a lot to me."
She resisted the urge to turn around, not wanting him to see the tears that stained her cheeks. "Why?"
"Well, because, unlike some of our flightier fellow students, you put your entire heart and mind into everything you do, so I must be doing something right if a girl like you looks my way."
"You don't mean that."
"Sure I do. Look, I'd take you over the entirety of the fifth and sixth year girls dorms combined."
She sniffed and smiled, finally turning to him. "And what about the boys?"
"Geez, you're developing quite an ego, but yeah, them too."
Hermione stared down at the floor, consumed by a mixture of embarrassment and elation. "Thanks, Fred."
"Any time, and hey - If I ever find I'm not a total git of a boyfriend, you'll be the first to know."
She laughed genuinely and nodded her head. "Deal."
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