AN: This fic was originally written for the Fred Weasley/Hermione Granger Last Drabble Writer Standing competition on LiveJournal. The prompts used were Mr. Ollivander, Kneazle and Amortentia. It took first place and won me the competition as a whole.
This fic is also the 100th story I've published here on FFN! I never imagined I'd reach such a milestone number, and there's still plenty more to come.
Follow the Signs
"I can't believe you broke my wand," Hermione grumbled, carefully stepping over an exposed root.
"Oi! I broke mine too!" Fred shot back, gripping her elbow to steady her as she stumbled.
"That just makes it worse. I'm gonna have to learn how to do wandless Apparation if I keep agreeing to go places with you."
"Will you?" he asked, glancing at her quickly. "Keep going with me, that is."
She sighed. "Maybe. If we survive and make it back."
"Aw, we'll be fine."
"We're just lucky we have Crookshanks." She paused to lean against a tree, the aforementioned feline retreating to rub against her ankles.
"Remind me why we're following the cat again?"
"Because kneazles have been known to guide their owners home, and he's half kneazle."
"So if we're lucky, he'll lead us halfway home." Fred knelt to pet the cat, smiling as Crookshanks scratched his ears against his knuckles.
"They're also supposed to be excellent judges of character."
Crookshanks began to purr lightly.
"Going by that as a baseline, he'll be an excellent navigator." Fred gloated. Hermione couldn't fight back her smile.
"We should keep moving," she told him with a groan, pushing away from the tree.
They traveled through the woods slowly, their progress hindered by the dense underbrush and the gnarled roots that seemed to rise up to trip them. Gradually the sun began to set on the horizon.
"We should stop," Hermione finally admitted as she clambered up an incline in the dark.
"Is that safe?" Fred questioned, grabbing her hand to hoist her up.
She frowned with concern. "Crookshanks will protect us."
Fred snickered, surprised by her ability to keep a straight face after making such a comment. "Are kneazles known to do that as well?"
"No," she admitted. "Just trying to make things look more positive."
"We'll be fine." He settled at the base of a large tree and beckoned her over. When she was close enough, he pulled her down to rest against him.
"What are you doing?" she protested, pulling away.
"It's gonna get cold," he reminded her, wrapping an arm around her and pulling her flush against his chest. Once she relaxed against him, he patted her leg, calling Crookshanks over to rest on her lap. "That should keep you warm."
"And what about you?"
He nuzzled his face against her neck playfully, tugging at her hair. "Your soft mane will make a fine blanket."
Hermione snorted. "It's hardly soft."
"I think it is." He rest his cheek on the crown of her head. "Smells good too."
"Yeah. Reminds me of this potion I saw once."
"No, it was a nice potion. Can't remember what it was, but it was kind of pretty and shiny."
"Shiny? Do you remember anything else?"
"Uh... Yeah! The steam was like spirals. I'd never seen that before."
Hermione jerked back, staring at him coolly. "Are you having me on?"
"You can't tell me that I remind you of Amortentia."
He shrugged. "I guess so. What is it?"
"It's a love potion, Fred."
Fred looked scandalized. "Hermione! I never knew! Honestly, soaking your hair in love potion? You should gave told me you were desperate for some lovin'."
"No." She shook her head in frustration. "It's not like that. Amortentia is the most powerful love potion, and its smell is unique to each person. It smells like..." She faltered, staring down at Crookshanks. "Like the person you're in love with."
"Oh." He shifted awkwardly.
They both ignored each other pointedly before Hermione's curiosity got the best of her.
"May I ask you something?"
"When did you see, or rather smell, Amortentia?"
He smiled awkwardly. "Right after George and I left Hogwarts, we visited a potions master in Wales."
"But, that was three years ago."
"Why didn't you ever say anything?"
Fred shrugged. "Didn't think you'd be interested."
She smiled gently. "I wish you would have told me. You wasted a lot of time."
He smiled back. "Looks that way. So, what do we do now? Have a kip when we get back, then go out somewhere?"
Fred grinned. "Where'd you have in mind?"
"Ollivander's," she said with a smirk. "You owe me a new wand."
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