A/N: I know, it's been forever! I am so sorry, but life got in the way. Thank you to everyone who's put this on Story Alert and stuck with this story! You rock!
Averted eyes. Tense silence. Awkward sips of coffee.
Hermione set her cup down on the table with a bit more force than necessary and pressed both of her hands firmly against the glossy wood of the café table, looking Fred in the eye for the first time since he sat down. "Right," she said, sounding far more confident than she felt. "Ground rules."
"Ground rules. Good way to begin, I think."
"Right… Er… Like what?"
A tense silence filled the air. Like what? She had been expecting him to have some sort of clue... "Well, first… We don't tell your family." There, that was a good starting point.
"I figured that was a given," he scoffed. "Except for George, right?"
She raised an eyebrow. "I figured that was a given."
"Second. We… We don't tell anyone else either…"
"Really?" he asked, rolling his eyes. "Because I had planned on telling the Prophet all about how I'm giving sex ed lessons to my baby brother's girlfriend."
"Point taken... Third, location… Erm…"
"Your place or mine?" he asked, sounding far too bitter for the innuendo he was attempting to accomplish.
"Exactly… Mine, I think. I wouldn't want to-… George-… You know? My flat has more privacy…"
"Deal. Your place." He took a sip from his coffee. "Fourth, I don't think we should meet regularly. Just any time it works out. Regularity makes it easier to detect."
"I'll take your word for it. Fifth, no physical contact… of that sort. This is not a relationship; this is an educational situation." She took a long sip from her coffee, and looked out the window. "I am not a cheater..." she muttered.
He nodded vehemently, looking shamefacedly down at the grain of the table. "I could never do that to my brother…"
"Any more?" she asked after a long moment of tense silence.
"No… Not that I can think of right now."
Hermione nodded sharply and stuck her hand out. "Deal."
Fred grasped her hand and shook it. "Deal."
Hermione tried to ignore the slight tingle she felt as he released her hand. Silence fell again as they both fell back into their previous positions, avoiding each other's eyes.
"I… I should go," Hermione finally said, clearing her throat. "My break is almost over." She dug through her bag and placed a few knuts on the table.
"How does Friday sound?" he asked suddenly as she stood up.
She paused, fingers still pressed against the table. "Friday?" she squeaked. "Er, yes. Friday's fine."
"8 o'clock?" he called after her retreating back.
"8 o'clock," she confirmed, mentally questioning her sanity.
She took a deep breath and continued on her way to the door. Secrecy, established location, no regularity, no physical contact… Was that everything?
She hesitated in the door frame and turned back. "Fred?" she called.
He turned, looking at her expectantly.
She gave him one long level look. "Sixth: Don't fall in love with me."
And with that, she walked out the door.
A/N: Very short, but I needed a way to get back into the swing of things and segway into the next bit of the story. I promise to do my best to update sooner!