She was accidentally manipulative, Fred was learning.

She became close to Harry because, when she had run crying from Ronnie-kins being insensitive, and Neville (the other outcast) had gone to the boy worried, she had taken full advantage of being in distress, cowering during the event, and tearfully grateful after.

She had become closer to little Ronnie-kins himself by purchasing a cat that had it out for the family's hand-me-down pet rat, and then by deliberately mispronouncing Quidditch terms to bug Ron, and later that same year being asked to the dance by Victor Krum, she had made his little brother quite jealous.

Of course, Ron wasn't the only one who had been jealous, not that he had admitted it to himself or even George.

Then there was the whole Reeta Skeeta thing, and Harry having it bad for Cho, and the Defence Academy/Dumbledore's Army bit, and killing the Dark Lord of course.

When Fred had, quite accidentally, found himself having lunch with the Grangers in the Leaky Cauldron a bit after everything had come unglued and was in the process of being repaired, he had realised exactly what she was.


It had been creeping up on him for a while actually. Hermione Granger was, really, quite perfect. She was smart, funny, loyal, attentive, and when the mood took her she was clearly capable of getting up to mischief.

And now he was being confronted by dear little Ronnie-kins asking for advice on how to woo her.

"Sod off Ron," he said. "Like your competition is going to give you advice."

"Don't look at me," George added in answer to Ron's look of startled betrayal. "First I've heard of it, and I'm not likely going to help you over Fred."

Outraged and unable to express himself – as they were his older brothers who had all sorts of terrible tricks they could pull on him – Ron had left their apartment above their shop, and gone to Ginny for help.

"I'm only giving you one bit of advice Ron," she said, not even looking up from her book – a muggle novel Hermione had lent her. "Hermione is smart. If you can't learn to hold a well-informed and intelligible conversation about something other than Quidditch, a sport she doesn't actually care about all that much, then I suggest you back off and make room for someone who can."

It was only a couple of weeks worth of visits to the Weasley residence before Hermione declared that she would only be visiting when she could be assured of no contact with Ron, and made a point to invite only Molly and Ginny to visit her any time.

Fred gave Ginny a lift the first time she wanted to visit their muggle-born friend, having had a couple of driving lessons – it had been fun driving their dad's after all, and un-altered muggle cars weren't too bad either.

Hermione had been gracious enough to invite them both in, and bring out enough tea for three.

Fred had produced some chocolates – muggle and safe – as well as a new Weasley invention; the former was a bread-and-butter gift, a simple little thanks for the hospitality. The latter – a monocle that allowed the user to view people as they were most likely to appear in approximately twenty years time – was just a gift, hopefully it would get him with a toe into her good books.

She had laughed when he explained what it did, but obligingly raised it to her eye, pointing it at Ginny.

"The good news is you're still going to look great at forty," she said with a laugh to the younger girl, "The bad news is that it looks like you're very stressed."

"If I still have to put up with Ron, then that's perfectly understandable," Ginny quipped, though she was also smiling.

Still laughing, Hermione had turned to look at Fred, the glass still up to her face. She nearly dropped it.

"What?" he asked. "I don't get fat and ugly do I?" he chuckled. Actually, he and George had tested it with Lee, and they all had a pretty good idea that they'd still be fairly visually appealing when they got to be as old as their parents were.

"No, no, you age remarkably well," Hermione said. "This is a very clever little thing. You really understated your genius when you were at school, didn't you Fred?"

He grinned stupidly, continuing to hide that same genius. "Well, George was mostly the one who tested the things I made, but we share the credit for coming up with them, and some of the stuff we worked together on perfectly equally. Anyway, I'd better get back to the shop, we've got a few different things under the table we're working on. Should be finished setting by now."

Ginny and Hermione waved him off at the door.

It was only a matter of a month and a half before Fred and Hermione were going steady, and a year before Ginny got to be the maid of honour for her best friend when they got married, much to Ron's disgruntlement.