Title: Weasley's Witch Wooing
Pairing: Hermione Granger/Fred Weasley (with Hermione/Oliver being prominent as well and many other canon pairings featured)
Warnings: A/U (Fred being alive being the main difference), fluff, melodrama, lemons, quite a few WWW products, and a whole lot of Neville being awesome
Summary: It's Christmas time, and Hermione's coping with a painful break-up. Fred's had his eyes on Hermione for quite some time, and now that she's single, he uses his Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes to Weasley Witch Woo her. Will he be successful in his endeavors?
Author's Note: If you're coming here after reading Overclocking, know that this is a completely different type of story. Overclocking was very methodical, very action/plot driven. This is more Gossip Girl/Grey's Anatomy-esque. As I'm rereading this, I'm going to try my best to alter it a bit and lighten it up even more. Hope you enjoy!
Chapter 1: Weasleys' Wizard Wardrobe
"Hermione, dear, would you mind running out for a bit of milk?" asked the warm, gentle voice of Mrs. Weasley. "I'd ask one of the others, but..."
"Ron, Harry, and Ginny aren't here yet. Bill's busy with the kids. Charlie and Arthur are tinkering with something in the back shed and wouldn't listen even if you asked. Percy would probably get you a healthier alternative to milk, like Abyssian Shrivelfig milk, which has all sorts of health benefits but can't really be used in most baking. And Fred and George wouldn't come back for four hours, and when they finally would, it'd with three bags of sweets and brooms for Victoire and Teddy, even though they can't even do basic maths yet. Something like that?" Hermione asked, flicking her wand to summon her cloak.
"Well, you said it dear, not me," Mrs. Weasley replied, a smile on her face.
Hermione grinned at the woman she regarded like a second mother and nodded. "Of course, Molly," Hermione said warmly. "I'll be back in a flash. Do you need me to get you anything else?"
"Three bags of sweets," said a voice from the entranceway to the kitchen.
"And new brooms," said an almost identical but slightly deeper voice from the same direction.
Hermione tried to conceal a smile as she wrapped a scarf around her neck and turned to the direction of the voices.
"Kids need brooms, you know?" George asked.
"We could use new brooms, too," Fred remarked.
"That's true. Make it four brooms, Hermione," George requested.
"But not those garbage ones for kids that only levitate three feet off the ground," Fred amended, scrunching his nose up.
"No, definitely not one of those," George agreed. "We need big boy brooms."
"Are you two quite finished?" Hermione asked, putting her hands on her hips, tapping her finger against her wand. Mrs. Weasley had returned to her baking, humming along with the radio.
"Almost," Fred said, rubbing his long, slender finger against his chin, as if he was thinking about what else he could add. "Oh yeah. Just so you know, Teddy can do basic maths."
"Victoire can't yet, so she's got us there, Freddy," George reminded his twin.
"Yeah, but she's only four," Fred countered. "She's the daughter of a Triwizard champion and former Head Boy of Hogwarts. We should be counting our blessings she's not yet been corrupted."
"Alright," Hermione interrupted them, shaking her head. "As fun as this is, I'm going to run to the local Muggle market to buy your mum some milk, as she's busy baking all of us Christmas desserts."
She should have known better than to ask the twins if they were finished talking. For as long as she'd known them, she'd rarely ever known them to shut up. It wasn't that they were annoying, like she had been when she was younger; it was just that they did have a knack for speaking endlessly.
Hermione pushed past them and walked to the front door, slightly relieved that Mrs. Weasley only needed milk. If she'd needed more complex ingredients, she'd have to make a floo run to Diagon Alley, where she would inevitably be recognized by a holiday shopper. She was too familiar with the experience, one which wasn't letting up, even six years after the war was won.
Someone would recognize her, even bundled up, probably because of her trademark bushy brown hair, which she tried to chop off after the war but couldn't bear to part with, even after all these years. Then, the woman (or man) would shrilly exclaim that they were in the presence of Hermione Grange, decorated war heroine, recipient of the Order of Merlin, First Class, and high-ranking Ministry of Magic official. And then, the real funwould begin, as a crowd flocked to her, wanting to take a picture, get her autograph, or merely shake her hand or touch her. She shuddered at the very thought of grabbing hands.
Really, she understood their appreciation, even if she'd only done what was right, in her mind, but it was getting a bit out of hand. In her opinion, the greatest appreciation they could show her would be to simply 'bugger off,' as Ron had put it, and leave her to her own life. Every day tasks in public were made more difficult merely because of who she was.
On Christmas Eve, she just wanted to relax and enjoy the hols with her friends and adoptive family, not a gaggle of fans and a prophet reporter or two.
And she didn't even know which ones she hated more - the people who followed gossip columns and news about her religiously or the ones who asked but had no idea. She remembered the last time she was in Diagon Alley, on official Ministry business, mind you, and she'd met two old women who'd had no qualms about asking her about her personal life.
'Have you and Ron Weasley gotten married yet? Always were such a lovely young couple.' 'Oh no, haven't you heard? They've broken up ages ago, they have. She's dating Neville Longbottom now. Saw it in the Prophet, I did.'
She never dated Neville Longbottom, for Merlin's sake. The person who'd reported on that for the Prophet had to have been mad. Hermione kept in touch with all of her close friends from Hogwarts, as they were still her close friends. Hermione, Ron, Harry, Neville, Luna, and Ginny got together weekly for a board game night. But she would never date any of them. There was nothing interesting there to be told.
Oh, but when there was something interesting to be told, the Prophet was on it ten times worse than with non-story stories. About six months after she'd split up with Ron, she'd accepted a dinner invitation from Oliver Wood, who she'd had a few meetings with in attempts to persuade him to champion her cause for equality of all creatures in the Quidditch universe. Quidditch teams were notorious for mistreating house/stadium elves, and Quidditch players just didn't care.
Ginny had tried, but she'd only been successful in persuading the few female players in professional Quidditch. She needed someone well-liked, a man's man, as much as the thought made her blood boil, and Wood had been amicable.
And to her surprise, he knew how to talk about things besides Quidditch. He was rather clever, sharp, and the Prophet latched onto the story. She supposed that she should have been grateful that she hadn't been turned into a villain who was breaking Ron's or Harry's hearts.
Two months ago, Wood had ended things. She wasn't sure why, and if she was being honest, she was still upset about it. She thought their relationship had been going swimmingly, but apparently she was wrong. And Wood looked so uncomfortable ending things that she didn't have the galls to ask him for an explanation. She'd just apparated away in tears.
And now she felt pathetic thinking about it, so she wrapped her cloak tighter around herself and set off onto the footpath in front of the Burrow, heading to the local village, glad she carried Muggle money on her out of habit.
"They're used to us dressing strangely, but how do you reckon the Muggles would feel about someone else wearing the funny cloaks?" Fred asked, popping up beside Hermione.
"Probably would think the neighborhood's gone loony and start moving," George replied.
"Oh. Right," Hermione said, glancing down at herself and realizing her maroon cloak might earn her a few strange glances. "What was I thinking?"
"That you might want to give us an opportunity to try out our newest product, I bet," Fred replied cheekily, sticking out his hand.
"Don't think I was thinking anything along those lines, actually," Hermione answered, continuing her stroll without even glancing at Fred's outstretched hand.
"Oh, come on. I think you'll like this one, Hermione," George pleaded.
Hermione stopped in her tracks, too curious to withstand. Plus, if it was Georgewho was offering to her, it was probably alright. She turned to examine what Fred had stuck out. It looked like a tiny wardrobe. She took it hesitantly, and prodded it with her finger. When it didn't explode or do anything funny, she took her thumb and forefinger and grasped the tiny knob on it, opening it up. Inside, she saw her azure peacoat, the one her mum had given her for graduation, the one that'd cost them a fortune because it was by some famous Muggle designer and had an asymmetrical buttoning line.
When she reached in hesitantly to grab it, there was a small, pink puff of smoke, and she jumped, startled. When the smoke cleared, she looked back into the wardrobe to see her cloak there. Hermione blinked in confusion, then looked down at herself and realized she was now wearing the coat.
"Bloody incredible," she gasped, pocketing the wardrobe and touching her coat, trying to figure out if it was actually hers.
She looked at her back, and sure enough, the coat was covering her completely. She was in shock. How had they done it? Was that actually her coat? Was it an illusion? Was it transfiguration? Was it a charm? What was it?
"We were inspired by the DA," Fred said proudly.
"The DA?" she asked, still examining herself. "Does it have a protective charm on it as well?"
"The DA met at the Room of Requirement, because we needed it," George replied.
"This," Fred continued, sticking his hand into Hermione's pocket and pulling out the dresser, "functions in the same way. You think of what you really want to be wearing, open the dresser, and voila!"
"There it is," George finished. "And when you no longer need it, you put on what you were wearing before, and what you wanted before is back in your closet."
"And it's not tied to one specific closet, but to the person holding it," Fred said.
"Although we might change that," George said sheepishly.
"Well, of course," Hermione said, still examining her peacoat in disbelief. "Like this, a group of girls can share it, but if it's tied to one closet, then you'll sell more."
"What we were thinking, too," George agreed. "Still have to make a profit."
"You look smashing in that coat, by the way," Fred said, handing her back the tiny wardrobe.
Hermione stopped touching herself and looked at Fred's face, and saw that he wasn't smiling as widely as his brother was. He just had a hint of a smile on his face, admiration in his brown eyes as they bore into Hermione's. She blushed slightly, hoping that her cheeks were flushed enough from the cold so that he wouldn't notice her embarrassment.
"Thanks," she murmured, before she forced herself to continue walking "So what are you two doing here, anyway?"
"Boring in the house. Thought playing with Muggles might be more fun," Fred answered, the goofy smile she was familiar with appearing on his face once more.
"You're really going to say that in front of an employee of the Ministry of Magic?" she questioned, quirking her eyebrow at him.
"Dad's a Ministry employee, and he plays with Muggles for a living," George replied, and both he and Fred snickered.
"You're impossible," she huffed, shaking her head in disapproval while trying to conceal her smile as they arrived into the local town.
"Which one of us?" Fred challenged.
"You," she said, pointing at Fred. "Fred Weasley, I firmly believe that if it weren't for you, George would be a half-decent person."
"I'm a half-decent person," George whined.
"No, Gred," Fred said. "You're two-fifths decent at best. I'm more like three-eighths. Right, Hermione?"
"Right," she replied, rolling her eyes, and looking around for any signs of life.
She saw two teenage boys sitting on the concrete base of a fountain near the center of town, their eyes glued to a phone. She walked toward them confidently. As she approached, they looked up at her.
"Pardon, but could you tell me if there's a shop near here?" she asked.
"Sure," said the blond boy, smiling up at her, and reaching out his hand to point behind him. "Round the corner, past the tailor. Mrs. McLuffy may have closed up by now, since it's Christmas Eve Day and all, but she lives behind the shop, so if you knock, she'll open up to give you what you need."
"Thank you," she said, bowing her head gratefully.
"You're welcome, miss," said the blond boy.
"Anything to keep them happy," muttered the brown-haired boy.
The blond boy elbowed him hard and tried to laugh off what his friend had said.
Hermione furrowed her brows, then looked behind her, to see the twins smiling innocently, too innocently at them. She turned back toward the boys.
"Have they done something to frighten you?" she asked.
"No, nothing," the blond boy quickly said.
"You can tell me," Hermione urged.
The blond boy fervently shook his head, and the brown-haired boy's eyes were glued to the ground.
Hermione turned around to the twins and narrowed her eyes at them. "Get over here, you two. Now."
The twins obliged, not arguing with her tone, and Hermione could see that the boys at the fountain seemed to shrink in size.
"These two boys are frightened for their lives. What in Dumbledore's name have you done to them?" she demanded.
"What did they say we did to them?" George asked carefully.
"Yes," Fred added on, regarding the boys with a sinister smile. "What did you say?"
"Nothing," the blond boy said immediately. "They did nothing, miss. I swear it. Could we go, please? Please?"
"You may leave," she dismissed with a sigh, glaring at the mirthful expressions on the Weasley twin's faces.
"See you soon, Collin, Michael," George waved, as the boys scampered off.
"Tell your mums hello for us," Fred called genially.
Hermione continued to glare, then shook her head. She didn't have time for this right now, and she doubted that any line of questioning would lead the twins to fessing up to whatever they were hiding.
"Seriously impossible," Hermione huffed, and started to walk to where the boys had pointed her in the direction of the shop.
"But you like the Weasleys' Wizard Wardrobe, right?" Fred asked, cheekily.
She pursed her lips, shook her head, and opened the door to the small shop which had the 'open' sign hanging on the door.