A/N: Alright guys, so I know I haven't updated in a while, and I fully intend to as soon as possible, but this is an imperative, belated Christmas present for the lovely Amber Harris, 1heart1love1life. I love you so much, Ootah, and I hope you like this! For everyone else, this is probably a slight OOC for the twins, but I think it's really, really hot when guys can carry on an intelligent conversation, so here you go! :D
"Nuh uh, Georgie. You know the rules. Adjectives only!"
"What does that even mean?"
"It means," said another, rather irritated, voice, "that you two are bored and aren't paying any attention to the work that needs to be done around here."
The twins both turned to find their pretty little helper, Hermione Granger standing before them, glaring and brandishing her wand, which she had been using to clean up around the shop. They were suddenly grateful for the small partition that their front counter afforded them as they grinned sheepishly at her. "Aw, 'Mione, we didn't meant to leave it all to you," Fred told her, aiming for a tone between coercion and whining, which did not suit him at all. "It's just that we got carried away with playing the Adjective Game." He glanced momentarily at George, and then grinned even wider. "Actually, we'd bet that you're probably very skilled at the Adjective Game, aren't you?"
Hermione swallowed and took an unconscious step away from where the twins were already rising from their chairs. She didn't like how innocent this was. Inevitably, when the twins phrased something so simply, she ended up on the receiving end of their newest invention. She had started working for them a year ago when it seemed like they had scared off the last willing vic-she meant helper, in England to work for them. There were rumors that there were life-altering repercussions to whatever prank the twins had pulled on her, but according to Fred and George, she simply didn't have the right sense of humor for their store.
How that made Hermione an appropriate candidate for taking on the position, wasn't as much her sense of humor as it was her efficiency and willingness to work. She had increased the productivity in the shop and kept customers well-informed about any products that they might not have been familiar with when they entered Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. She knew that the twins relied heavily on her, even though they had tried to take some responsibilities off her shoulders, and that gave her a sense of purpose that she had not felt since the War had ended two years ago.
And that was really the reason that she stuck around the shop lived with them, and put up with their jokes, pranks, and teasing flirting.
Or perhaps it was the fact that she was in love with Fred Weasley….
No, decidedly not.
Plus, no matter how much he and his brother obviously enjoyed her company when she wasn't leaning on her stiff, scholastic backbone, she knew that there was no way he would return her affections. Hundreds of pretty witches frequented the store on a weekly basis, and Hermione had to admit to herself that she didn't stand a chance. Not when she was their little brother's ex-girlfriend, and especially when she was covered in dust and dirt from cleaning the store.
Hermione snapped her attention back to where Fred and George were still watching her, completely ignoring the couple of new customers that had wandered into the store. "Sorry," she apologized, feeling a blush rising to stain her cheeks. "I was off in thought."
"You never answered the question," George prompted.
Hermione tried not to groan. She'd never played the Adjective Game, but from what she could tell, it seemed pretty straight forward. Instead of saying so, though, all she answered with was, "I've never played, and you both know it. But since you were the ones that created it, I'm sure you're well qualified to explain the rules to me."
Fred and George both grinned again at her, noticing that Hermione was uneasy, expecting some sort of prank to come popping out right behind the rules to a game they had invented out of boredom when they couldn't think of any good pranks. Merlin, that had been a particularly disturbing couple of hours where they had thought that they might have lost their touches, and decidedly the most Percy-esque thing they had done their entire lives. "It's quite easy-" Fred began.
"-you just try to think of an adjective-"
"-for every letter, in alphabetical order of course-"
"-and if you can't think of a word-"
"-the other person gets to give you a dare-"
"-Wanna play?" they finished together.
Hermione almost considered giving in and playing. After all, she knew that the twins were smart, but she was much more the bookworm of the bunch than they would ever be, so she had a feeling that she would excel at such a game. Already, adjectives were coming to the front of her mind, pressing to roll off her tongue and play. However, it was too obvious that they were going to find some way to trick her into messing up, and then she would have to do something stupid. "No thanks," she said, wiping her hands on her apron to give herself something to do.
"What's wrong?" Fred asked, stepping around the counter and taking deliberate steps towards invading her personal space.
Hermione made the mistake of looking up at him then and got lost in his gorgeous eyes, swimming in their mirth and laughter. "N-nothing," she stuttered, finally finding the strength to step away from him again, but completely missing the smirk on both of their faces. "I just don't want to p-play right now."
"Oh come on, Hermione," Fred coaxed, stepping forward again. Hermione's mind was screaming at him to either stop moving or just kiss her, because if he kept chasing her, she would forget that he was trying to worm something out of her and would instead snog his brains out.
Well, perhaps not that extensively, but pretty close t-oh stop moving!
However, she need not have worried because even as Fred took another step towards her, obviously not giving up anytime soon, he said the words that shattered her heart. "You'll have fun. It's just a child's game."
Hermione stepped back, her chin jerking up as though she had been slapped, and her eyes betraying the hurt she felt in that split second before she regained control over her emotions and slid her indifferent mask on. Those words were the only confirmation Hermione needed to know that any advances she might have made in the future would be unwelcome. He thought of her as a child, nothing more. To him, she was like a little sister, a brunette Ginny not related by blood.
Fred noticed the change in her expression immediately, but even as he tried to figure out what it was in his statement that had caused her such distress, Hermione tilted her chin up even more, her pert nose pointing straight up in the air, and bit out, "Then perhaps you should go find a child to play with you, Frederick Weasley." She stepped around him and marched over to the closest customers, immersing herself in helping them.
Her heart literally hurt. There was no denying that. When the customers weren't looking, she peeked over their shoulders to see George frowning at Fred and saying something in low tones. Fred's back to her, but whatever he was saying, he was obviously agitated, and she could only hope that George, who had stumbled across her secret a few months ago, would have the good grace not to say anything to his brother. She knew that his silence was a lot to ask of him, especially when it pertained to his twin, but Hermione could not bear Fred knowing her secret, lest he make fun of her, or worse, pity her for not being able to find someone else in the wizarding world to become attached to.
Especially now that he obviously thought of her as a child.
She stared out the window, noticing that the sun was beginning to set in the distance. She would need to get upstairs to prepare dinner soon. After she helped the customers with their purchases, Hermione turned around and fixed the twins with an icy stare that she couldn't quite make dissipate. "I'm going up to fix dinner. I hope you two can manage to close up on your own."
George just nodded, but Fred met Hermione's angry gaze and stared at her for a moment, his expression one of...hurt?
Hermione didn't stop to analyze it, she simply turned on her heel and stomped up to the flat all three shared. As she moved into the kitchen and began grabbing her ingredients for dinner, she thought about how different it had been to move in with the twins. In a way, it was like living with Harry and Ron all over again. Fred and George had graciously decided to share a room so that she could have her own private quarters, but it still tended to be awkward sometimes. It had become exceptionally awkward, at least for her, when she had first discovered her feelings for Fred.
George had had no trouble figuring out her attraction then. After all, she either avoided Fred like the plague, or became a blushing, stuttering mess. Fred was the only one that seemed unable to put the pieces together, though with the amount of excuses he found to brush against her or touch her arm, Hermione might have almost entertained the notion that he might feel the same.
Hermione leaned her head against one of the cabinets, closing her eyes and taking in a deep breath. She loved him so much it hurt some days! In the beginning, she had hoped that her feelings would dissipate, but watching and interacting with him on a day to day basis had quickly quelled that notion. She just wished that unrequited love didn't hurt so much!
"Need a hand?"
Hermione felt tension shoot up her spine even as her fingers tightened against the cabinet handle. "No, I'm fine on my own," she said. "Don't turn around!" her mind screamed at her. "You know you won't be able to resist him, whatever he wants, if you look at him!"
Her skin tingled as Fred leaned down and spoke softly in her ear. "Are you sure?"
Hermione gulped and bit down on her lip, forcing herself not to shiver. "Y-yes, I'm sure." Goodness, what was with all the stuttering today?
Fred, however, wasn't offended or the least put off. Instead, he moved even closer, his nose skimming through her curls as he breathed in her scent. Hermione's heart pounded and the blood rushed through his ears, making her slightly dizzy. "Why don't you turn around and tell me to my face?"
"Yes Hermione, why don't you turn around? Then you can throw yourself at him!" She cut out her internal dialogue and shook her head.
"Please?" It was so soft, so un-Fred-like, that Hermione found herself turning before she even processed the action.
Except that wasn't an entirely good thing since she now found herself wedged between the countertop and Fred. She put every microscopic ounce of caustic feeling she possessed into one word, and even then it came out shaky and a little breathless. "What?"
He was staring into her eyes again, and Hermione just coming to terms with the idea that she really was just going to go for it and kiss him when he finally said, "I want to play the Adjective Game with you."
Metaphorical cold water on face: check
Slap in the face: absolutely
Rude awakening: achieved
"I don't want to play with you," she ground out. "I'm trying to make dinner here."
Fred shrugged. "Don't even worry about it. George took off to go visit some bird at Fortescue's so I think we should go out as well." His eyes practically sparkled with mirth as he grinned down at her. "After we play the Adjective Game, of course."
"It would be nice to go out and not have to cook," Hermione's mind traitorously whispered, and between it and Fred's beautiful eyes, she was powerless to stop the words, "One game," from coming out of her mouth.
Fred grinned widely, and Hermione had guessed that he would move away, but he stayed right where he was and said, "Excellent. I'll start. Amazingly."
Hermione sighed and thought for a moment. "Belatedly."
"Extraneous," Fred returned without much thought. Okay, this might actually be more fun than Hermione had previously thought. She never knew that the twins had such a verbose side to them! It was…really, really hot.
"Fictitious," Hermione replied, her lips pressed together as she realized that that was exactly what her interest in Fred had turned out to be. Fictitious.
Fred raised his eyebrows, almost like he knew what she was thinking, and tilted his head down to move a little closer. "Gorgeous."
Hermione bit her lip so hard she thought she tasted blood. He wasn't talking to her, he wasn't talking to her, he wasn- "Hallucinatory."
Fred quirked an eyebrow, but refrained from correcting her on her obvious misguided attempt at telling him that he was hallucinating. "Illustrious," he whispered. He knew it was costly, but he couldn't help adding, "It means brilliantly outstanding, but I guess you probably know that already." He grinned at her.
"Jokingly," was all she said, dropping her eyes to look at the floor. This was obviously not just a game anymore. In the moment after he had said "illustrious," she had known that George had told Fred her secret.
And for some reason, Fred was trying to mess with her.
"Keenly," he responded, locking gazes with her as soon as she looked up.
Fred appeared affronted. "Who, me?" When Hermione only raised her eyebrows, he brought himself back on track and kept up. "Malevolent," he growled, berating her for being particularly spiteful on her last word.
"Nonsensical," she returned with a small grin, trying to cover herself.
Fred snorted. "Optimistically."
Hermione found herself smiling, despite the unease she felt as Fred continued to loom over her with a grin, and placed her hand over her heart in mock pain. "Palpable!" she cried, pretending to feel the pain.
Fred grinned even wider. "Quaint," he said with wink.
Hermione paused for a moment, biting her lip. Should she? Shouldn't she? She glanced up through her eyelashes and whispered, "Ravish."
Fred's eyes widened and darkened, while the smile on his face slipped just slightly.
"Oops! That's not an adjective," she amended. "Ravenous."
The word was barely whispered, but Fred still heard it. "Scintillating."
He hadn't moved away. In fact, he had inched even closer, and Hermione could feel his pants rubbing up against her knees. "Tactful," Hermione practically squeaked, a blush staining her cheeks.
"Undoubtedly," he grinned, and pressed even closer
Their hips met, their chests pressing together, and Fred smirked down at her. Seeing his smile and feeling drunk off his nearness, she gazed up at him brazenly. "Victorious."
The game was getting much more personal, and Hermione felt the hope within her bubbling up until she thought she was going to explode in an embarrassing pile of giddiness. He was here, so close to her, and he was (unless she was very much mistaken, which was definitely possible) pressed up so close to her that if he would just lower his head a little….
"Wanton," he murmured softly, bending down to whisper it in her ear as his lips grazed over the sensitive skin. This time, she couldn't hold back the shiver. Everything was happening the way she had dreamed about, but it was so, so much better.
It took a moment of closed-eyed blissfulness for Hermione to realize that Fred hadn't moved and was waiting for her. Oh that's right, it was her turn. She wracked her brain, but could not, for the life of her, think of an adjective that started with 'X.' "Um…" she mumbled, trying to fill in the time, but they both knew that she was stuck.
"Wrong," Fred murmured against her hair. "That starts with 'U.'"
"So what happens now?"
Fred pulled back and smirked at her. "Now I get to dare you to do something."
Hermione returned his gaze with a challenging one of her own. "Alright. Hit me with your best shot."
"Tell me why you didn't tell me."
Hermione frowned, pretending to be confused. "Tell you what?"
Fred mirrored her and frowned as well. "Don't play games, Mione. Why didn't you tell me that you were in love with me?"
Hermione dropped her chin in mortification, trying not to look at him. In their current position, she knew that she would never be able to get away from him without explaining herself, but that didn't mean that she needed to look at him while she spilled her most embarrassing secret. "I thought you would laugh at me, or think I was too young. I thought I was just a little sister to you, and by what you said earlier in the shop, I think I was right."
Fred snorted, causing Hermione to look up sharply. "Does this look like something I'd do with Ginny?" he asked sarcastically.
The color staining Hermione's cheeks was now very close in hue to Gryffindor colors, minus the gold.
"No," she finally said.
"I didn't think so. Hermione, if you'd have told me sooner, we could have been dating by now." Fred watched her eyes grow a little wider with disbelief. "It's true," he insisted. "Do you know how many times I've had to sit on my hands to keep from touching you in the shop? Merlin, do you know how many times I've touched you? George told me your side after my little blunder today, and I knew that I had to fix this before you got the wrong idea."
"And this was the best thing you could come up with?" Hermione teased.
Fred pretended to look affronted. "Hey, I thought it was pretty good! I not only told you how I felt, but I appealed to your bookworm side."
Hermione laughed. "Do I have any other side?"
"Of course you do! Were you not listening to anything I said?" he teased back.
Hermione ignored him, but continued to grin. "I believe it's your turn. Hurry up, or I'll dare you to do something."
Fred waggled his eyebrows. "Sounds tempting." He laughed, but thought for a moment and then said, "Yummy."
Merlin, what was with her blushing and stuttering today? Hermione looked down, willing her blush to go away, or at least abate, and then raised her eyes to lock on Fred's, understanding for the first time that he had specifically targeted her so that she would get the hard letters, thus falling into dare territory. A thought skittered across her mind, but one look at Fred's face and she pushed it away. "Zilch?"
Just like she knew he would, Fred shook his head and grinned. "Nuh uh. Not good enough."
Her eyes flashed as she grinned up at him and asked, "So now what do you want?"
His voice was so low, his face so full of delight, that Hermione almost missed what he said. His breath fanned across her face as he whispered, "I dare you…to kiss me."
With fingers that trembled slightly, Hermione's hands found purchase on his shoulder and the back of his neck as she pressed herself up on the balls of her feet and waited. Fred could see that a small part of her still questioned whether or not this was a joke, so without delay, he brought his lips down on hers, capturing her mouth in a sweet, languid kiss that had them both pressing closer to each other. His hands found her waist first, and then tangled themselves in her hair, trying to press Hermione closer to his body than she already was. Hermione let him tease her lips open and deepen the kiss, now glad that the counter behind her was there to pin her to his body when her legs gave out.
When Fred finally pulled away, both of them breathing harder than usual, he smiled so brightly that Hermione couldn't help but grin back. "So does this mean that I get to actually take you out now?" he asked. "And kiss you whenever I want?"
Hermione laughed, snuggling into his shoulder. "I guess so," she responded, humming happily.
"Brilliant! Well, I guess we'd better get going then. I have reservations for us that I made at the last minute, and I have a feeling that Harry'll be really upset if we don't show up." Fred winked down at Hermione. "He went through a lot of trouble to get us a table."
"Then I guess we'd better go."
Hermione started to pull away, but Fred wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her back against his chest once more. "Yeah, but before we do…" his eyes were twinkling with mirth again, "I dare you to kiss me once more."
"Just once?" Hermione asked innocently, but moved into his embrace with one more big smile before she kissed him again….
A/N: Well? I really hope you liked it! Merry Christmas Amber. I'll be eating apples in your honor! ;) QUICK NOTE: I AM AWARE THAT SOME OF THESE WORDS ARE INDEED ADVERBS! HOWEVER, THEY FIT BETTER INTO THE STORY THAN THEIR ADJECTIVE COUNTERPARTS, SO PLEASE BE FLEXIBLE! Thanks! :D