Hermione walked slowly down the nearly empty corridor, shuffling her feet as she went. Normally she walked quick and with purpose, but she still had plenty of time to get to her destination. She left early because she couldn't stand another minute in the common room. She'd been trying fruitlessly to do her work for a over an hour. Her eyes kept glancing at the portrait hole to see if Fred would show. He didn't go to dinner and she hadn't seen him since the library. She just couldn't get her mind off of him. She was obsessing, she knew, and it only confused her more. She could hardly call what she felt for him "love" because she wasn't familiar enough with him for that, but she knew that she cared much for him.
It was their time at Grimmauld Place over the summer that she really got to know the twins. There was so much more to them than she had originally thought. They were brilliant, the pair of them, but Fred specifically strummed something in her. She would miss his smile and laugh, the twinkle in his eyes, and his lighthearted jibes. And his wink; she'd miss that. It made her blush every time. He did it when she was nervous or uncomfortable and it always made her smile and relax, if only slightly. The wink also accompanied any of their hijinks - a message that it was all in fun and they'd never go too far. But they did this time. Fred and George went too far and now she was going to lose him.
She reminded herself that he was never hers and that she never really considered wanting him to be, but she'd miss him terribly and the thought that they might have had more would follow her around indefinitely. She knew that she would see him again outside of school, but she knew it wouldn't be the same. If they parted now, he would surely forget her. She would be merely Ron's friend to him again and it would be back to cordial respect. Just thinking such things made her miss him already.
"You shouldn't look so sad. It doesn't look good on you."
Hermione gasped and stared in surprise at the ginger young man that strode up from behind to walk beside her.
"Fred? W-what are you doing?" She sounded as baffled as she appeared.
"I'm walking," he answered with a lopsided smile. "I thought I'd walk with you. That alright?"
"Er, yeah." Hermione's heart ached in several ways and she watched her feet as she walked. It was good to be with him, but it felt like another memory that she'd have to mourn.
"Hermione, I'm sorry again about yesterday-"
"No, Fred, don't be. I know you were under the veritaserum. It's me that feels sorry that you had to go through it," Hermione spoke ardently.
"I mean that my confession came out in such a way. I should have told you before that I fancy you."
"Y-you really do then?" She blushed and dipped her head bashfully.
"Of course I do. Once I got to know you better over the summer, how could I not?"
"I wish I would have known it sooner too. It took me a little longer to realize how much I like you, too."
Fred's eyebrows raised with hope. "You like me then?"
"I've always liked you, Fred, just... maybe more than I realized."
"Now I really wish I'd said something sooner, " he grinned.
Hermione stopped walking and looked down at the floor, making sure she was pulled together enough to continue. "I have a confession to make..."
Fred's heart clenched in an unpleasant way. It didn't look like a pleasant confession.
"I took one of your drawings. I found it on the floor in the library," she admitted as she reached into her bag and pulled out the portrait Fred had drawn of her.
Fred let out a large sigh of relief. "Is that all?"
"I wanted to keep it to remember you by, but now I sort of want you to keep it... so you don't forget me."
"Forget you? What are you talking about? I thought we were moving in the other direction." Fred's brows were knit together in confusion and worry.
"The world's a lot bigger outside of school and Grimmauld Place. I don't expect you to keep thinking of me once you're gone. I know that I shouldn't want-"
"Hermione, what are you talking about? I'm not leaving."
"What?" Hermione's hopeful expression turned directly upon him. "You're staying?"
"Well, you did ask me to stay, didn't you?"
"There are other reasons I'm staying, but you're definitely one of them."
"Oh, Fred!" Hermione threw her arms around his neck in an exuberant hug and held on tightly. "I thought for certain that you'd leave. I'm so glad you're not."
"Me, too, if this is what I get for staying," he chuckled and patted her back.
"Oh, thank you, Fred. Thank you for staying."
"My pleasure now, I assure you, and I would love to continue this - truly I would - but I think it will have to wait until later. If I'm late for detention, I'm certain that McGonagall will give me another. She may feel bad for what I went through, but not bad enough to let me escape my punishment."
"You got detention for it?"
"No. You did. Snape gave it to you, remember? For disrespect or something. It was part of the deal I made with Dumbledore. I won't allow you to suffer punishment when it was my fault. Now off you go before curfew."
"Y-you took my detention?" Hermione breathed in shock.
"I'd take a lot more than detention for you, Hermione." Fred gently ran the back of his fingers down her jaw line and Hermione's eyes closed instinctively. He smiled softly and placed a delicate kiss upon the corner of her mouth. "I'll see you around."
"Not around; in the common room," she corrected shyly. "I'll wait up for you."
"I look forward to it." With a large grin and a hint of swagger in his step, Fred dutifully set off for the Transfiguration classroom and the detention that awaited him. Whatever the punishment, it couldn't possibly put a dent in his mood. Veritaserum might have been one of the worst experiences of his life, but the reward was worth it.
Since all my old Fremione stories seem to be enjoyed, I have another, plus its sequel, that I think I'll post next. I will warn you now though, they're adult only. They're called Drowning Sorrows and A New Life. Keep an eye out for them. ;)
If you cared for this story at all, I ask that you make the small courtesy of a short (or long) review. Many thanks. ^^