Angelina reached up and touched the furrow between Fred's eyebrows. "Keep frowning like that and you'll get wrinkles," she teased.
"That lying, cheating git!" he exploded, glaring over to the left side of the room.
Angelina blinked and turned in that direction. Percy, Mr. Bagman, Harry, George...what was he talking about? "Ah, Fred, something tells me that your heart's not really in tonight's festivities."
He gave her a rueful smile. "That obvious?"
"Well, we could call it feminine instinct, if you prefer."
His grin was small, but at least it was a genuine Weasley grin.
"I was thinking...why don't we go knock a Quaffle around? It's stuffy in here anyway."
He stared at her, speechless.
"Are you all right?" she asked in alarm.
She shook his arm. "What's wrong?"
He burst out laughing, and she was too relieved to be angry. "You dressed up all nice, you put makeup on, and did stuff to your hair, and you're suggesting we go play Quidditch?"
Angelina shrugged. "Why not? I'd take all this down in about three hours anyway, wouldn't I?"
He laughed again. "You know, I knew there was a reason I loved you." He took her arm and they headed towards the door.
Angelina rolled her eyes. "You do realize we'll be playing with a Quaffle," she pointed out. They discreetly made their way to the exit, took a quick look around to make sure no chaperones were watching them, and slipped out. "My ball. Not yours. Mine."
"That will make it all the sweeter when I beat you," he declared pompously.
Angelina raised an eyebrow. "Cute. But let's see how well you do when you're up there. Fairy lights," she added to the Fat Lady, who was watching them expectantly. The portrait obligingly opened up.
He considered it. "I'll be doing pretty good, don't worry." He grinned and helped her through the portrait hole.
They received more than a few strange looks from some of the younger Gryffindors as they walked out--still in dress robes, but carrying their broomsticks.
"They can't think we're going to go sweep the Great Hall," Angelina said.
"Well, I'm sure they don't think we're going to play--Snape!" Fred suddenly hissed.
Though no one had ever said the students attending the ball had to stay at the ball, both were certain Snape would happily take points from them for sneaking out to play Quidditch. It would be a Snape thing to do.
Fred suddenly grabbed her and pulled her against him so that their broomsticks were hidden between their bodies. He winked and kissed her.
Angelina noted in passing that he was much better kisser now than when he was twelve.
"Weasley! Johnson! Are you not aware this is a dance?"
"Sorry, Professor Snape," Angelina said ingratiatingly--and not a little breathlessly. "Perhaps we should return to the ball?"
Seeming almost disappointed by her acquiescence, he spun and stormed away.
Fred leaned close to her ear. His hands were still around her waist. "Very smooth, angel mine."
She grinned back. When Snape was safely out of sight, they abandoned all pretense of stealth and made a mad dash for the safety of the field.
As they stepped onto the grass, Angelina groaned. "We've forgotten a ball," she pointed out.
"Oh, have faith." Fred ducked under the stands and emerged a moment later with the Quaffle. "Do you think George and I've never played any after-hour games?"
"Well, I had, but then you showed me the ball and said that, so I'm thinking you must have."
He grinned and tossed the Quaffle in the air. Angelina hopped on her broom and had it in her hand almost as fast as Harry could grab a Snitch.
Fred blinked. "This may be more difficult than previously anticipated."
She grinned. "Do you want to just forfeit now, and save us all some time?"
Fred flew up and faced her. "You wound me to the very quick." He reached out and snatched the ball away from her and shot off towards the goal post.
"Cheater!" she exclaimed, racing after him.
"You just can't handle admitting defeat." Looking quite smug, he tossed the Quaffle at the goal post.
Angelina put on a burst of speed and grabbed it before it went through. "When it comes to Chasing, Fred, I'm never wrong." Wheeling around, she added, "And I say, this Chaser takes the game tonight."
Fred fought long and hard, putting up a valiant effort, but it was clear he was no Chaser. Neither was really surprised when he conceded defeat. Angelina wasn't known as the best Chaser on the team for nothing.
"Well, you were much better than I expected," she comforted him. "Anyway, I'd rather you be my Beater in shining armor, keeping those nasty Bludgers away from me."
"Beater in shining armor?"
She could see that he was trying not to smile. "Well, I have to say something to make you feel better about that abysmal performance." She patted his cheek. "I knew you'd understand."
He grabbed her hand but seemed confused as to what to do with it. They stood there a moment, until Angelina grinned. "We could see who the better Keeper is..."
Fred grinned back and dropped her hand. "You're on."
Both were pathetic. The lack of light didn't help the situation, but neither could remember to guard all three hoops, and after every shot, they had to search for the Quaffle.
"I'll forfeit now, if we can head back," Angelina offered after summoning the Quaffle for the fifth straight time.
"I knew you would eventually bow to my superiority," he said. "I accept your forfeit."
Angelina rolled her eyes and threw the ball at him, which--to both their surprise--he caught. "Huh," he was all he said before putting it away.
They began walking toward the castle. "You know," he said thoughtfully, "I didn't think anything would put me in a better mood, but--" He suddenly turned and looked at her. "You're cold," he accused.
"Am I?" Angelina suddenly realized she was shivering and rubbing her hands together. "I didn't notice."
Fred stripped off his outer robe and settled it on her shoulders, taking her broom away and tucking it under his arm. "Better?"
She smiled up at him, pulling it tighter to her. "Yes, much, thanks."
Fred gave her a small smile in return. It was strange...she had looked beautiful, earlier tonight, all done up, all perfect. But now...now with her hair coming down and her makeup smudged and practically buried in his robe, now she was more beautiful than she could ever be in any other getup. He wondered why he had thought that. He wondered if he should tell her that. He wondered if she would let him kiss her again. And he wondered why he had wondered that.
"Aren't you cold, though?" she asked.
Fred blinked and left his wonderings behind as he returned to reality. "Oh, uh, no, I'm really not."
He felt his forehead with all the sobriety of a doctor. "Pretty sure."
"Oh. Okay." They walked a few more steps. Then Angelina broke the awkward silence. She reached over and touched his arm. "Fred?"
They stopped. "Yes, angel mine?"
He didn't even notice he was saying it, she realized. He just called her that, and probably didn't even care that her heart beat faster every time he did. It was on the tip of her tongue to tell him that, but her nerve died, and she took the coward's way out. She seized on the first thing that popped in her head to say. "Uh...why is it you call me that?"
He looked surprised. "You don't know?"
"Haven't a clue."
"I've never explained it to you?"
"Not that I remember."
"Angel-lina, Angel-line, Angel-mine," he said simply. He looked down at her--at her hand still on his arm--and took a deep breath, gathering his courage. "But, you know, I was wondering..."
Angelina realized she was holding her breath. She let it out slowly. "Yes?"
Their eyes caught and held. "Is it 'angel mine'?" he asked softly, playing with a few strands of hair.
Angelina swallowed and looked hard into his eyes. "You're not...joking with me?" she asked, more than half-afraid it would be one of his pranks--not sure what she would do if it was: cry for the night or for the whole next day as well.
"I'm so serious I think I could trade places with Percy," he said solemnly. "Cauldron bottoms being what they are, you know that I can't get any more serious than that."
She burst out laughing--as much in relief as in amusement. "But if you were Percy," she pointed out, "you wouldn't hear the answer to your question."
His hand stilled by her face. The back of his fingers rested against her cheek. "Which is?"
Angelina stepped forward and rested her head against his chest. His arms circled her and she noted how perfectly she fit there. She looked up and kissed his chin lightly. "Of course," she said simply.
His arms tightened almost painfully around her. He touched her face briefly and then kissed her again.
When she came to her senses, she noticed the sky was considerably lighter than it had been when they first came out. "Fred?"