DISCLAIMER: I own the Hufflepuff girl and Holden Burns. They're not important in the slightest, so basically, I don't own anything. Oh well.
Author's note: The plot bunny attacked me and was written from 3 to 6 am and typed by my friend, since I needed to have this ficlet typed out and was at her house… thanks, Iza! Thank you to Kathy, my great great great beta! And… that's it. This ficlet takes place during GoF, last week of term before Christmas break.
By the way, When Words Aren't Enough WILL be finished. It might take a while, but it will. I mean it. Really. Oh, come on, trust me!
"What is a pretty lady such as yourself doing in this cold castle at this hour?"
"Oh my God, Fred, don't do that!"
"Why? Hmm, I think you're just scared of not being able to control yourself, being alone in an empty hallway with such a fine specimen of the male race..." said Fred, who was now walking alongside her in the direction of the Gryffindor Tower.
That, of course, was not too far from the truth. And she, of course, would never admit that to him.
She laughed as if he'd said something ridiculous and crossed her arms. "Fred, it's nine. That's barely late."
"Yeah... But it's not as if there are people around. I wonder what you're doing here." He stopped. "Actually, not really. Dinner was over an hour ago... The access to the grounds is already closed... You can't have raided the kitchens, or your arms would be full of food... All the homework's been assigned for after the break and you're not the type to go to the library for fun... Frankly, all I really wonder is who the lucky bloke is," he said, raising his eyebrow suggestively.
"Snape," she said, taking great satisfaction in seeing him almost choke.
"I had detention, silly."
"Blimey, Angelina! Be more considerate of your friends' feelings next time! I could have had a heart attack! I may never recover from the mental image!"
"Sorry," she said lightly, trying the best she could not to have that mental image herself. "What are you doing out here?"
"Detention with McGonagall, what else?" said Fred. "I don't even know what I did. It seems like she started giving me detentions for breathing!"
"Apparently she's not one of my many fans. It's been five long years with her, it has..."
"Didn't you exchange her wand for one of your fake ones in the middle of her last class and made her look like a complete fool when, instead of the chair turning into a butterfly, her wand turned into a duck?"
"Don't you forget a thing, woman?"
"Nope." Angelina smiled. "And why isn't George here? Didn't he get a detention too?"
"Angelina, it's been five years. Do you really think McGonagall doesn't know better than to lock the two of us in a room together? His detention's tomorrow."
"Oh." Angelina chuckled. "Makes sense."
They stayed in silence for while. Angelina would have said something, except that she had been avoiding starting conversations with Fred. She didn't want to seem like she enjoyed talking to him, even though, well... she knew it was stupid.
"So... who are you going to this ball with?" said Fred, way too casually to be inviting her.
"I don't know," Angelina answered, equally coolly. "You?"
"Oh, you see, there are all those girls throwing themselves at me... I'm still looking for a potion or something to multiply myself so none of them will feel rejected."
"How nice of you."
"I'm always the gentleman," said Fred, smiling.
"You can always share them with George, if you don't find that potion. It would be – what? – three or four girls each? I'm sure you can handle that."
Fred laughed and made an 'oh, easily' gesture, but he didn't seem too amused. He looked down and kicked the floor with the sole of his trainers. "I don't really know if I can count on George, though. He's been going through a... weird... phase."
"Yeah... since that Hufflepuff – you know? The one with the alarmingly long eyelashes? – he got... I don't know, fed up with women or something." He ran a hand through his hair in frustration. "I have to tell you, it's the first time in my life that I don't understand him at all. I'm afraid he's going out of his mind."
"Well... I can't say that I blame him, Fred. Women are pretty annoying."
Fred gave her a look as if she'd just uttered the biggest blasphemy in the history of blasphemies. "What are you talking about?! Women are these... heavenly creatures! I'm pretty sure they're the best part of life."
"Have you even met any real females?"
Fred gave her an 'I was wrong, this is the biggest blasphemy ever' look. "Of course I have. Many, may I add. And with the obvious exception of my sister, who can be a pain when she wants to, they're all wonderful. And do I mean wonderful."
"In your dreams, right?"
Fred looked at the ceiling. "Oh Lord, forgive her, for she does not know what she's saying!"
"Look," said Angelina, starting to count on her fingers, "they care too much about their appearances—"
"No harm in being a bit vain."
"They gossip, a lot—"
"Hey, as long as it's not mean or untrue... gossiping is a legitimate kind of conversation."
"They get scared of stupid little insects!"
"Now, I've always thought that was just adorable."
"They don't tell you what they want you to do and then get mad at you because you didn't do it..."
"Oh, I love the challenge," said Fred, as they reached the painting of the Fat Lady, guardian of the Gryffindor Tower.
"And they are totally incomprehensible! I mean, I'm still struggling to understand us."
"Do you need a teacher?" he said, grinning, as he stepped closer to her. To get closer to the portrait hole, she presumed.
It didn't matter. The proximity was enough to remind her of why exactly she was furious with women – well, with herself, at least.
"And even when they like a boy," she continued, before she even noticed that she was voicing her thoughts, "they still keep that nonchalant, I-don't-care attitude, expecting the poor bloke to just guess that they're interested and make a move all by himself..."
She took a deep breath, realizing that she was saying too much. Even Fred must have noticed that her tone of voice had changed from the indignant shrieking it was before to... this.
And, apparently, he had. "They do that? Really?" he asked.
Knowing Fred, he would probably just have said something like, 'Why, Angelina, I didn't know you cared,' and puff out his chest mockingly. But this was... there was almost – almost – no humor in his voice. Mostly true, genuine surprise.
"Really... and even if the bloke decides to go out on a limb and ask them out, they put on a 'Well, since there isn't anyone better, I suppose you'll do' attitude, then reply 'All right, then,' or something equally cool, even though their hearts are doing flip-flops." Her voice was barely above a whisper by the time she reached the last part.
"Flip-flops?" said Fred, raising his eyebrow, almost as if he was testing out the word.
"Why, Fred, I thought you were ready to teach female behavior to the ignorant fools around you... still need a few classes yourself, do you?" she said casually. Argh, she hated the casualness.
"I'm always willing to learn," said Fred, and the tentative step closer he took didn't escape Angelina's notice. "So women pretend they don't care even though their hearts do flip-flops..." His smiled a bit at the word. "Well, that's not that preposterous. Some blokes do pretend they don't give a rat's clacker about a girl until they have some kind of encouragement."
"Some women can't stop the pseudo-nonchalance even when they have the encouragement," said Angelina, her heart beating faster.
"Not even with encouragement?" Fred almost whispered, as she felt his hand touch her waist.
"Admit it, Fred, you are terrible at understanding women," said Angelina with a smile that came out of nowhere, for amusement certainly wasn't one of the many emotions she was feeling right now.
"Actually..." said Fred in the same whispered tone, as Angelina wondered how she could feel his thumb trace small circles on her waist through the thick robes she was wearing. "I only have one more doubt about that whole speech of yours."
"Were you talking about women, or were you talking about you?" He brought his other (surprisingly warm, considering the climate) hand to her face.
"Well..." she said, tone matching his in softness, as she placed her hand over his. "I'm a woman."
"Mmm-hmm," muttered Fred. The way he was looking at her would have made her uncomfortable if it weren't so pleasant. "Say... what does a woman do when her dashing male friend asks if he can kiss her?"
"She gives him a 'Do you even own a mirror, arsehole?' look and hopes he'll kiss her anyway."
"And does she kiss him back?" said Fred, starting to move the hand that was on her waist up her arm.
"She happens to think that a real man should go and find out," she said, as his hand finished running up her arm and cupped her face.
He grinned. "I'm a true believer that a real man should always do his best to please the ladies."
He kissed her. Angelina frowned a bit as felt his grin still against her lips.
"Can't you be serious for once in your life?" she said practically into his mouth, not bothering to pull away.
He pulled away himself and rolled his eyes. "Are women always this demanding?"
"They're worse," said Angelina, reaching to stroke his hair comfortingly and then leaving her hand on his cheek. "Believe me, Fred, they're worse."
Fred caught her hand in his and leaned his head on it, closing his eyes for a few seconds. He sighed. "Fine," he said finally, after an apparently heated discussion with himself. "I suppose I can be serious."
And then he kissed her properly. Oh, so properly.
She felt herself falling back against the portrait and pulled Fred with her, neither paying the slightest bit of attention to the Fat Lady's muffled cry of indignation and following rant about disrespectful students leaning against her.
Definitely, not nearly enough time had passed when the portrait hole started swinging open.
They jumped apart as the Fat Lady muttered a "Sorry," that sounded way too pleased about getting them off of her to be genuine.
"Fred! I was just looking for you!" said George as he stepped out of the common room and joined them, thankfully missing the glare his brother was sending him. Or maybe choosing to ignore it.
George smiled at Angelina. "Hi, Angelina. Fred, a word, now. Bye, Angelina." He smiled at her again as he dragged Fred away, apparently off to somewhere they wouldn't be heard.
Angelina would've been curious about what the bloody problem, which the two obviously had been having since the start of the year, was, but at the moment she just couldn't care less.
She made sure that there was no one around, before bringing a finger to her lips and giggling - the annoying way that women did.
"Yes, dear, very nice, are you coming in?" said an impatient voice behind her.
Angelina turned around and stuck her tongue out at the Fat Lady, causing her to hiss, "How rude!", which caused Angelina to giggle even more.
She was always childish when she was happy. Which was probably okay, since Fred was childish all the time. She grinned - actually, almost all the time.
In her giddiness, it even took her a moment to remember the password.
She spotted Alicia sitting by the fireplace as soon as she entered the common room and walked quickly in her direction, crazy to tell her the news. But when she got there, she realized that she really just... wanted to keep that moment just between her and Fred (and well, the Fat Lady), at least for now.
It was easy to keep it from Alicia, though, since she was staring at the fire and didn't look at Angelina as she approached her, thus missing Angelina's extremely revealing smile.
"Do you think he'll ever notice me?" said Alicia in a frustrated little voice as she felt her friend's presence.
Angelina blinked. "What? Who?"
Alicia turned to look at her. "What do you mean, 'who'? Holden." She sighed. "Sometimes I wonder why I even bother."
"Because you're a stupid, irrational and hysterical woman," said Angelina, sitting down across from her friend.
Alicia gave her a puzzled look. "Do those gratuitous insults have a purpose?"
"Oh, don't worry," said Angelina, turning to the fire to hide a smile. "Men seem to find these traits appealing."
"Are you okay?"
Alicia gave her a look. "Were you even listening to a word I was saying?"
Alicia sighed again. "Do you think it's because I'm a Gryffindor?"
It took Angelina a moment to realize that Alicia was talking about Holden again. "Oh, no, of course not."
As much as she wanted to comfort her friend at the moment, she was finding it incredibly hard to pay attention to what Alicia was saying. She occasionally muttered an "uh-huh" here and there, and hoped that Alicia wouldn't notice that she was basically talking to no one.
Angelina caught her thoughts as they started drifting to Fred. It was her experience that day-dreaming about a boy and expecting anything to happen with him was a guarantee that it wouldn't.
Besides, Fred liked women. Women. That was, in the plural. Which meant lots of women.
She jumped and looked for the noise, just to catch Fred's eye. She hadn't even realized he and George were back in the room. He winked at her, and then said something to Ron, who was sitting at a table next to him with Harry and Hermione.
That was when she realized that the noise had been Ron's castle of Exploding Snap cards exploding, which would explain his singed eyebrows.
"I don't think I even want to go to this ball."
"Oh, Alicia, don't be stupid," replied Angelina, thankful that Fred had got her aware of her surroundings in time to listen to that sentence. It wouldn't do any good to reply 'uh-huh' to that.
Angelina then forced herself to look down at her nails so she wouldn't keep glancing at Fred. She really needed to cut them, she thought absently.
Fred had called her from across the room many times. She didn't have a reason to be nervous. No reason to be nervous.
"What?" she called back.
"Want to come to the ball with me?"
Her first reflex was to shout "What? You serious??", but then she glanced over at George, Harry, Ron and Hermione, who were watching with something akin to bewilderment, and then back at Fred, whose cheeky smile could be interpreted as a nervous one, if she squinted a little.
She looked him up and down, as if she were comparing him to the many men that had asked her.
"All right, then," she replied coolly.
As she turned back to Alicia, though, she couldn't help smiling a little as she realized that her heart was doing flip-flops.