Title: Mayhem, Mischief and Marriage, Oh My
Category: Harry Potter
Prompt: Whisper. (books_freckles - Hermione/Weasley Comment Ficathon)
Warning(s): EWE, not quite DH compliant.
Summary: After the war, Hermione is restless; she soon finds her salvation in the form of Fred Weasley.
Mayhem, Mischief and Marriage, Oh My
There was a buzzing in her ears and a tingle along her skin, like something or someone was trying to get her attention. Or possibly just thought that staring holes into her person wouldn't garner her attention when she was so heavily involved with her books. Regardless, she raised her head, eyes narrowed and lips pursed, and looked to and fro for what might be the interruption she desperately wanted to avoid. Hermione wouldn't call herself antisocial, exactly, but when her beloved books were involved the desire for knowledge over conversation always won out.
The flickering fire in the Weasley lounge provided little help in finding the intruder and for the first time since she sat down she realized the late hour. Where previously she'd been surrounded by many a red-head, and Harry of course, now she was basically alone. Apart from whomever, or whatever, it was making that blasted noise. Sitting forward, she marked her place in her book and let out a huff of irritation. She wouldn't put it past one of the twins to be playing a trick on her. Since the end of the war they'd been particularly mischievous. She couldn't fault them, really. There had been a moment where they all thought Fred Weasley would be no more; leaving George one half of a duo, never quite complete. But the ever strong Weasley that he was, Fred pulled through after the horrendous run-in with a crumbling wall and he'd been nearly inseparable from George since.
As usual, she became distracted when the thought of the war came about. It was nearly eleven months past but she still remembered the overwhelming fear of failure and what it could mean if their Horcrux hunt and the subsequent fight against Voldemort hadn't leaned in their favor, despite the many times it looked like it could very well spell out the end for them and all they loved. She shook her head, wanting to rid those dour thoughts from her mind. There was no reason to brood over what could have happened when what did happen was for the better. Many were lost, hurt, forever changed, but the wizarding world survived and those who had witnessed its near end – for a world where Voldemort ruled was less magical and more tragic – rebuilt and grew a stronger awareness and appreciation for what they had.
Hermione had been among those that had taken a deep breath of relief when Harry won and Voldemort was forever defeated. She raised her chin and promised herself from then on that she would meet life head-on. And if there was anybody who wanted to make her keep that promise, it was the twins. Though perhaps Fred more than George. Of course, she hadn't voiced to them the promise she'd made to herself, but it was as if they'd recognized her new appetite for life and reached out to drag her along on their own journey.
Early on, she realized that while his brothers shared her interest in taking life by the horns, Ron did not. It wasn't that he was particularly uninterested, and she wouldn't exactly call him lazy, but it became clear that her drive and his were not anywhere near the same level. She'd known that before, of course, but it was easily avoided or neglected when she'd been starry eyed and feared death was so close around the corner. When the new world, one truly free of Voldemort, faced them, she and Ron realized that their feelings for each other were not as translatable as they'd once thought. She thirsted for what she'd missed out on, what she herself had once thought frivolous or unnecessary, while Ron was content with a warm butterbeer, a game of Quidditch, and the easy life. She didn't begrudge him those luxuries, but it seemed her feet were too antsy, her mind too used to being challenged, to stay still for long. She didn't care for Quidditch and she feared the adrenaline of the Horcrux hunt and the battle had singed her veins so deep that she couldn't quite recover. She wanted adventure or at least the feelings that came along with it.
It was Fred and George who showed her that a simple prank could give her a thrill large enough to keep her entertained. She had rules, of course; never on Molly and nothing too cruel or irreversible. Fred was quick to question what 'too cruel' was, but her tapping foot and raised brow told him that she wouldn't be pushed to do anything she didn't want to do. They started her off small; little tricks played on Ron or Percy, just little irritants that made her chuckle and them complain or holler to whoever would listen about the injustice. It progressed fairly quickly when she got a taste and wanted more, however, and had she been a lesser witch she might've feared the way their smirks widened or their eyes danced with triumph.
Now, eight months since the beginning of her lessons in pranking under the twins tutelage, she recognized the tell-tale signs that one or both of them was doing something to possibly bother her comfortable quiet and put her on edge. She was usually content to join in and her new found friendship with them usually provided her with the comfort of mind that she would be in on the joke rather than the person it was on. Her wand was, as had become mandatory, in reach and she palmed it quickly. If they planned on getting her, she was happy to retaliate.
A familiar chuckle filled the room, sending a shiver of awareness down her spine that she'd become quite familiar with pretending was non-existent. She had gone through the pangs of denial where Ron was concerned and she feared the same was occurring with another Weasley boy. Only this one was dramatically different from her and gave her far more pause in sharing what she thought were romantic feelings bubbling deep inside her, stubbornly ignoring her trepidation as they grew with each passing day.
Following the low laugh with first her eyes and then her whole head, she finally set her gaze on the familiar stocky figure leaning in the doorway to the lounge. His red fringe fell in his eyes in a way far too charming for any man. He was half-smiling at her, arms crossed over his chest, shadows from the fire playing over his features.
Her brows furrowed and she questioned in a voice that seemed too loud for her quiet surroundings, "Isn't it a little late for you to be playing tricks on me, Fred?"
He mumbled something and she let out a huff of breath that sent her nostrils flaring.
"It's well after midnight, you know…" She chose to ignore the fact that she only just realized the time and had been inclined to spend a good portion more of the night buried in her book.
He didn't move or point out her rather pathetic reasoning. He did, however, mutter something beneath his breath.
Her eyes fell on his lips, watching as they moved though no words were discernible. Annoyed and feeling quite out of joint at both his presence and her overwhelming need to know why he was there and what it was he was, or rather wasn't, saying.
"Well if you've nothing that needs my attention, I think I'll head up to bed," she said, rising from her seat and smoothing out her pajama pants. She hugged her book over her chest, feeling absurdly on display. His eyes never seemed to leave her; oh, they cut away from her direct gaze, but only to take stock of the whole picture she made, standing there in the highlighting glow of the fire. She suffered the insecure worry that her hair was too frizzy or her clothes too baggy, but when his dark eyes settled on hers again with a heat that rivaled the flames flickering just a few feet away she was well aware that he had found her anything but lacking. Her breath caught in her throat and her heart beat so hard it seemed to pound in her ears, hollowing out all other sound.
"I-I should really… be… um, going…" Shaking her head, she started moving for the door, her stomach flip-flopping as she moved closer to him.
He didn't move out of the way, but instead stood taller, pressing his hands to either side of the doorway and blocking her.
"Fred," she snapped, hating that her skin tingled and flushed, hoping desperately that he wouldn't notice or catch on. "I don't—I don't know what you mean by acting this way, but…" She sighed. "What are you ever doing here?" she demanded, raising her chin to stare at him.
He and George shared a flat above their booming shop and so he rarely spent a night at the often loud and too full Weasley house. He visited often for dinner, entertaining the crowd with rousing stories of their customer's misfortune. But mostly she saw him during the day, when he'd pop by and ask her out for lunch or she'd bring a Molly special by to share between her and the twins while they tried to convince her to join their team and add her brilliance to their own, often citing that they could easily take over the wizarding world with their combined skill. She was holding strong against them, saying she wanted to make a change in the world and would only accomplish that by getting into the Ministry and forcing them to see reason, but more than once she'd considered the excitement of their store.
"I can't visit a friend?" he wondered, but in a voice so soft she had to lean in to catch it.
"After midnight?" she blustered. "For Merlin's sake, how would you even know anyone was awake at this hour?"
He grinned knowingly then and reached out to tap her book. "Figured that would average a good few hours; you wouldn't be nodding off until you were at least halfway finished."
She bit her lip, because he was exactly right. She had a process, of course. If she liked the book, she threw herself into each and every word and refused to put it down until she'd made quite the dent in it. And she was three chapters away from the middle-mark as it was. Instead of saying that, however, she pointed out his continued use of whispers. "If you're afraid your family might hear you, you've been spending far too much time in your flat… They're all knackered and as long as you use your indoor voice—" She scoffed, amused, "which I dearly hope you have, as I'm not sure I've ever heard it, you won't be waking them up any time soon."
His cheek twitched, showing off a dimple he only ever got when he was grinning at a prank he and George, and more recently she, had pulled off.
"Who says I was worried about waking up the lot?"
She found herself leaning in again, trying intently to hear just what it was that he was trying to say in his hushed voice. Whispers were not something she'd thought to attach to a Weasley, let alone one known for being so very loud and attention-getting. Making out his words, she said in a quite normal pitch and rather waspishly, "Whatever other reason would you have for whispering?"
He grinned again, tilting his own head in so they were nearly nose to nose. "Maybe I just like having you so close?"
She was nearly cross-eyed, staring up at him in surprise at his revelation. "What—? Why—?" She shook her head and nearly stomped a foot with frustration. "What?"
He chuckled that infernally low and husky laugh of his and she felt a blush fill her cheeks.
For one horrible moment she worried this was just him playing a prank on her, not realizing he was quite truly playing with feelings that she tried very hard to pretend she did not have. But then his hand had reached out and he tried to tuck her frizzy hair behind her ear. As defiant as ever, it popped out of place once more, but his grin only grew.
"Do you remember when I asked you if you wanted to play a prank on Ron and Luna…?" he wondered, taking a lock of her hair between his thumb and forefinger, rubbing the frizzy stands thoughtfully.
Her brow furrowed. "Yes…" she drawled, not quite seeing the correlation.
"And you said you didn't want to scare Luna off…" His eyes darted to hers and then lower, settling on, she thought, her mouth.
She dabbed her lower lip with her tongue, suddenly feeling distracted and a little dizzy. "I—Y-Yes," she said, nodding.
"Was that…" His lips pursed. "Was it because you're over ickle Ronniekins?" he wondered, trying to infuse a little humor in his question.
But with the way his eyes burned into her own she knew he was expecting a very real, very honest answer.
She drew a deep breath. "I'll always love Ron, Fred," she answered truthfully.
His body tensed quite noticeably, his fingers stilling against her hair. She thought for a moment that he was going to draw back and step away from her, but she reached up and placed a hand against his chest, where she was startled to notice she could actually feel the quick thrum of his heart, and one of her thumbs began playing with the button of his bright orange vest.
"It's a different kind of love than I expected, though…" She smiled gently. "I suppose when I was in Hogwarts, it was easy to mistake our rows for passion… And later, during the hunt and the battle, I won't deny that there were times I wished for a what would come after, should I live, where he and I might find that everlasting love I'd seen between your parents…"
She shook her head, thinking the idea silly now. "But when all of that excitement faded away, he was still… He was still Ron and I was still Hermione and, as usual, we never quite collided or fit or connected in the way I'd built up in my head…"
She chuckled lightly under her breath. "And now… Now I look at him and I see… I see a best mate and a—" She wrinkled her nose. "A brother." A scoff escaped her. "Not entirely the best description, seeing as I've snogged him, but…"
She lifted a shoulder. "When I see him with Luna… See him laughing or just—just looking at her, I think…" She smiled, sighing lightly. "What a lucky girl, that Luna… To have found someone that fits her so well… To—To love and be loved by someone that while not her exact similar, but a partner in all ways that count."
She nodded. "But I don't want Ron, you see. I don't regret that we broke up or that he's moved on. I just… I just wish that I could have that with the boy that I—" Her voice caught and her breath stuck in her throat. "The boy that I've tried so hard not to fancy, when in all honesty I've only dug myself deeper…"
Hermione couldn't be sure when his hand had drifted from her hair to her face, but his thumb rubbed along her cheek, the texture calloused from Quidditch and hours spent bent over his next batch of brilliance in the form of tricks and pranks.
Seemingly quieter than ever before, Fred murmured, "Do you want out of the hole you've dug?" he asked. "Or can I join you down there?"
"Normalspeaking voices in the hole," she told him rather distractedly. His eyes were so dark they were nearly black and she found herself staring into them nearly mesmerized.
His smirk widened. "Comes with a price there, 'Mione."
"Oh? And what exactly will it cost me to get you to speak like a normal person?"
The tip of his nose bumped hers; though it was light, it sent her heart into her throat.
"Let's start with a kiss," he whispered.
His lips drew ever closer. "A date."
"And after?" she pressed.
He chuckled. "Eventually? Should we be as compatible as I'm sure we are…?" He raised a red brow. "You move in… We scar George for life shagging on every available surface… I ask you to marry me when you least expect it; maybe when you're so brassed off your hair is crackling… A few brilliant, mischievous red-haired children later and we're set…" He was so close now it seemed every indrawn breath was of his exhale. "Sound good, love?"
"That's… Well, rather detailed."
He laughed. "Thought you'd appreciate my planning."
Her brows hiked high up and she smiled. "It's not your planning that surprises me, Fred… It's that it wasn't at the expense of someone else."
His hand squeezed her hip before sliding around to warm the small of her back. "For you, 'Mione… I think I can put the pranks off for a moment or two… Enjoy it, my serious side is seasonal."
A laugh escaped her. "Is that right?"
"Mm," he hummed. "Take this leap and you're headed for a lifetime of mischief, mayhem, and a marvelously interesting marriage."
"You're that sure?"
"You pranked mum yesterday," he said, his voice finally registering a regular pitch. "You said you never would but I know that was you who reworked her timers so they'd go off at the same time and send her into a frenzy…" He stared at her appreciatively. "She was so hacked off she railed at me and George for nearly an hour."
She had the good grace to blush.
"Never been more proud of you, my little protégé."
She sighed, playing with the buttons of his vest to distract herself. "It was childish of me… But she was starting on that matchmaking business of hers and she didn't listen to a word I said about not needing her assistance…"
He smirked. "So you thought you'd teach her a lesson then?"
"I said it was childish," she scoffed, rolling her eyes.
"Small but effective," he corrected.
"And this somehow convinced you that I was the witch for you?" she wondered, unconvinced.
"Just the icing on the cake…" He shook his head. "The whole package is pretty convincing otherwise…"
Her lips pursed in confusion.
"Brilliant, beautiful, bossy…" he listed, sliding his fingers up her spine. "Practical, pretty and playful." He wiggled his brows. "Adventurous, awe-inspiring, and alarmingly alluring."
She bit her lip to keep from smiling.
"Should I go on?"
"On whether or not you plan on kissing me anytime soon," she said, tilting her chin up rather demandingly.
"Just one adjustment," he said, reaching down to pry the book from her arm, dropping it on a table top rather than the floor. "There." He slid his hand back up to her neck, cupping it, fingertips tangled in the bushy hair at her nape. "Ready to have your mind blown, Granger?"
"Honestly!" she laughed. "Get on with it, Weasley!"
He wiggled his eyebrows at her once more before leaning down and slanting his lips across hers. Her previous amusement faded away as the bubbling feeling of adoration she'd kept stowed away shoved its way to the forefront. Her skin went from tingling to a fiery awareness that licked up and down her entire body. Knees quaking, stomach flopping, heart pounding, she nearly forgot to breathe as she leaned in and met his mouth as it collided with hers in a first slow but quickly bruising show of his affections. His tongue reached out, dabbing her lips before it swept between to touch hers. He tasted warm and the faint flavor of butterbeer tickled her senses. She inhaled sharply through her nose, refusing to break away even as her chest tightened in desperate need of oxygen.
Her fingers balled his vest into her hands as she tugged him closer, their bodies molding into a tangle of limbs. His arm tightened around her waist while his other hand gripped her hair tightly. They started stumbling, searching for something to be their stability when they were both struggling to keep upright. They bumped into the sofa and with a mutual laugh that parted their lips, they fell back onto it. Him turning them so he was beneath her, taking the brunt of her weight as they settled into the cushions. Her fingers released the soft fabric of his vest to venture higher, smoothing over the hard plains of his chest to the wide spread of his shoulders, where she squeezed and kneaded the muscles that tightened and played beneath her touch.
She couldn't say for sure how long they spent there in front of the fire, snogging on the patchy couch she'd previously spent her evening with just a book as her companion, but when their frantic kissing slowed to soft pecks and lingering touches, any thoughts of wandering up to the bed she occupied in Ginny's room had long been forgotten. Fred happened to make a wonderful bed, really, and he didn't seem inclined to leave any time soon.
With the embers of the fire dying away, she laid with her head on his shoulder, finger absently drawing the infinity sign along his chest while he played with her hair, eyes at half-mass, gazing at her in that half-besotted way that she saw Ron look at Luna, Harry at Ginny, and, even after all their many years, Arthur at Molly.
"So'd I convince you?" he asked in a sleep-laden voice.
She turned her head, chin resting on his shoulder. "For a lifetime of mayhem, mischief and eventual marriage?" She quirked a brow. "I fear you'll have to do a lot of convincing…" she told him, lips curled. "In just this manner."
He grinned. "Fantastic. Kiss to seal the deal?"
Laughing, she leaned up and pressed her lips to his in a soft peck.
Settling back down, she laid there for a long good while before eventually saying, "Your mum will hit the roof if she finds us like this…"
He yawned, stroking her bushy brown hair. "Sure… In between planning our wedding, she'll lecture us on proper behavior."
Hermione snorted. That did sound quite like her though.
"Worth it," he muttered, hugging his arm around her shoulders. "Been waiting awhile for this, 'Mione…"
"Hm?" she wrinkled her nose as her eyes drifted close. "Awhile?"
"Longer that ickle Ron would appreciate," he said, a hint of humor in his voice.
Too tired to question it too much, she hummed. "We'll discuss it in the morning," she told him, in her no-nonsense tone.
"Right after mum congratulates us," he agreed lightly.
Nearly asleep, she whispered, "Fred?"
He opened one eye to look at her.
"Had you planned this when you came over?" she wondered.
His lips curled up faintly at the corners. "Just wanted to see you." He shook his head. "So happened that an opportunity presented itself… And who was I to pass up on a pretty witch sitting just there within reach?" His eyes fell closed once more. "Figure I waited long enough, just needed you to give me the go…" He ran his hand down and then up her back pleasantly. "And now that I have you, well… I don't plan on letting you go."
She smiled up at him, figuring a besotted look of her own was staring at him. "I look forward to it, you know…"
"This adventure of ours," she told him, biting her lip. "I rather think it's just what I need in my life…" She raised a brow. "Some excitement, some mischief, with little chance of dying or needing hospital care in the near future…"
He laughed. "Wait awhile… You'll spend more time in the hospital than you expect, love…" He smirked. "For all our genius, we do tend to blow things up quite a bit… Ourselves included."
She rolled her eyes fondly. "I suppose it's worth it."
He rubbed her cheek with his thumb. "I'll make it."
With that, they settled back into the couch, wrapped around each other snugly. Hermione fell asleep with a smile on her face and a sense of peace she hadn't known in some time. Not even Mrs. Weasley's shrill voice, somewhere between happiness and chastising, could overshadow it. It was well-worth the talking to they got for their mostly innocent snuggling under her roof. Just as all of her many visits to St. Mungo's were in the lifetime she would spend with Fred Weasley. Though not much of a planner, by his own reckoning, he happened to get this one just right. It was mayhem, mischief and a magnificent marriage in their future and she wouldn't want it any other way.