Disclaimer: Everything recognizable belongs to J.K. Rowling and associates. No Copy Right Infringement is meant. Words in bold are taken directly from Deathly Hallows.

A Certain Step

"To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love." Jane Austen

.~~. .~~.

Hermione's POV – Bill and Fleur's wedding

I can still feel the pinkness high in my cheeks. Can he be any more obvious . . . well, that question is obvious in and of itself.

The flush to my cheeks isn't all him, although much of it is. But I can already see his already inflated ego taking flight if he knew.

I lick my parched lips and sit as I wait for the wedding to begin. Being wedged next to Ron, while sitting behind Fred, feels like being between a rock and a hard place. But I ignore the pangs of guilt and longing (both shooting through me in what seems equal measure) as I Ooo with the wedding procession starting.

As Harry takes his eyes from me and looks back at my exclamation, I will the infernal blush from my cheeks. Surely it will not due.

As I turn back around, I catch Fred's gazing eyes (by accident, I assure myself) and can't stop from biting my lips. My face heating up isn't the only part of me becoming warmed. For surely it must be the heat of summer.

He quickly winks as he takes his attention from me. I feel a little bereft, but smother the feeling. Everything just feels terribly inappropriate.

Tears sting my eyes, but I hope people will think it has everything owing to the wedding and not my mounting guilt and longing.

"You look quite enchanting, Granger." Fred had whispered to me as he, Ron, George and myself made our way to the seats. His twin had been too busy checking out the abundant selection of Veela cousin and Ron had been grumbling irritatingly under his breath about Vicky and fake wedding invitations to notice our brief interlude.

"Fred," I hissed, "not now." But my cheeks had given away my delighted pleasure in his caring compliment.

"There's only now, love, and you are smashing." I went to retort but we had already reached our seats.

"Save me a spin for later, beautiful, can't have your two shadows taking up all your time." And he rushed passed me before sitting next to his exact match.

I felt flustered while sitting down. It hadn't been like the surprise words falling from Ron's mouth or the gruff notice of Viktor's. My once nightly comforter's praise had been genuine, unrushed and the balm to my frazzled nerves.

After having heard Aunt Muriel's opinion of me (Skinny ankles . . . Bad Posture), Fred's opinion made me sit a little taller.

The popping of the balloons pull me from my mind and back to the present. I can't help but be amazed at the magic Fred and George master. The balloons are a brilliantly lovely touch. Birds of paradise fly from their enchanted container as the golden bells peal softly in the setting haze of the sun.

I can't help but be amazed.

. . .

My feet are all but ready to fall off. I silently wince again as Ron tries not to step on my toes, but still manages to catch my littlest one.

"Sorry," he hastily apologizes, but I smile him off. I know it isn't on purpose.

Yeah, but you aren't the one being bloody trampled on, I swear I hear my toes hiss.

As the somewhat fast song ends and a slower one begins, I sigh a little. As least, if I now get stepped on, it won't be to a fast-pace song.

The sun has already set and the soft glow of the lanterns only adds to the beautiful mystic of the summer evening. Fat moths fly slowly through the blowing tent, attracted by the faint glow of the candles. The enchantment of the warm, tranquil night is terribly lulling to my beating heart.

And when I think I can close my eyes and sway happily to this song, I'm proven wrong.

"Ronnikins," I hear spoke directly behind me. We both stop swaying awkwardly to the music as Fred's voice drizzles over my already warmed skin. I know he is playing with me.

Ron's ears instantly turn red at the name, but I stifle my laugh, making sure to keep my lips stiff. Fred is awfully incorrigible.

"What," my dance partner grumbles, embarrassed; not that I blame him. I guess I am lucky to be an only child.

"Mum wants you to take Auntie Muriel to the toilet." This time, I can't help the mirthful sputter that escapes my lips. The request is just ever so random.

Ron's ears bypass pink and shoot straight to scarlet.

"Wh – but . . . You're lying!"

This time I can't help but turn around and face Fred, but also to try and hide my mirth from my best friend.

The red-haired genius stops buffering his nails on his elegant Dress Robes and studies his younger brother. They are so different it is difficult to believe they are brothers (sans the flaming red hair).

"Ronnikins, have I ever misled my innocent lil' brother before? Am I capable of such actions?" It is scary how well Fred can pull of innocent on his not-so-innocent face.

"Yes!" both Ron and I exclaim.

Fred's smile turns downright roguish, and Ron isn't the only one blushing now. The air – all of a sudden – seems too warm and still.

"Well, little brother, now isn't one of those times."

"But why can't you or someone else take her?" my puce-colored friend all but whines, not that I blame him. Aunt Muriel is a horror unto her own. "I'm busy." I feel his eyes dart quickly to me and back again.

"Well, let's count the ways, shall we . . . Mum is too busy making sure everything is still going swimmingly. Dad is trying to calm everything in her wake. Bill is busy for obvious reasons, and George is too busy slobbering over the Veela cousins." I feel a little bit of irrational jealousy when I think about them, but try to push it away. I know I look nice tonight – and Fred even thinks so. Though, I also saw him checking himself out some Veela bird.

"Ginny is dancing with some bloke, most likely trying to make Harry jealous. Charlie is too inebriated to walk straight and well, we all know how much Auntie Muriel loves my company." Fred looks to me before roguishly winking. "Dung bomb . . . Christmas . . . such pleasant memories," he explains as I giggle. Ron gives me a funny look, but I can't mind him right now.

"But why can't the old girl go on her own," Ron continues to whine. Again, not that I blame him.

"Because, Ronnie," his brother breaths out agitatedly. "Auntie Muriel is a hundred and seven, has had one too many glasses of champagne and needs help pulling down her support hoes." Poor Ron's face scrunches up with disgust at the thought.

Quickly I stifle a gag myself.

"But – but," my friend sputters.

"Do I need to get Mum? Oh, she'll be only too pleased that she's to be pulled away from whatever else is taking away her already short temper."

A little fear creeps onto Ron's face at the mention of his mother. It is interesting how all her boys fear her (well, Bill not so much. I'm sure Fleur is pleased about that).

"Fine!" my dance partner mutters as he stomps away in search of his coarse aunt.

"And Ron, if she gets too fresh with you . . . be sure to beat her with that awful pink-feathered hat."

Ron quickly looks around, spots his harassed mother (to be sure she isn't watching of course), and shoots his rascal-of-a-brother with a rude hand gesture before stalking off muttering obscenities under his breath.

I try and stifle my giggles, but have a hard time. I feel bad for Ron, but Fred is entirely too funny.

"That was terribly mean of you, Fred," I try my best McGonagall impersonation, but fail. I cannot contain my mirth. "You could have taken her yourself."

"But I couldn't abandon you, love. Viktor has been eyeing you too much. Not that one could fault him, you do look quite lovely."
I valiantly try to fight the blush but hopelessly give up. I feel too warm and feminine in his hazel gaze.

"And besides, once Ronnikins get within ten feet of Auntie Muriel he'll suddenly remember to get you both some drinks . . . eventually. Confundus Charm, love. Learned from the best." His wink tells me all I need to know.

"But how did . . . Surely Harry . . . Oh, you're incorrigible."

"I'll take that as a compliment, and I'll be taking that dance from you, too." My teeth gently nibble into my lower lip as I study this perplexing Weasley. Never do I think a time will come when I will ever understand him.

With shaking fingers, I reach out and grasp his proffered hand. I can't help but notice how much bigger his are than mine. The feeling of femininity washes over me again, swirling butterflies in my belly.

The music melodiously enters my ears as the beauty of the moment sizzles in my veins.

My body trembles as I'm pulled closer to Fred's lean frame. We delicately start to sway. Shuttering breaths become lodged in my throat as I try to make some sense out of the situation. I can feel confused tears tickling the corners of my eyes, but refuse them to fall. The moment is too exquisite to ruin with waterworks.

As I try to control my battling emotions, the courage to look into my dance partner's eyes surges into my heart. My eyelids flutter as I take in his intense stare. The hazel looks like the softest of jewel tones (in the flickering lights of the lanterns) as they take in every inch of my face. Never have I been studied so intently. The thudding of my heart against my ribs is all but lethal; it's as if my heart would like nothing better than to take flight from between my ribs.

I know he must feel the thumping against his own chest.

Without pretense, hands guide my own up to his shoulders as his weave together gently on to the small of my back. I sigh helplessly as I allow my fingers to curl around his longish locks caressing his neck.

We swirl together, allowing the music to be our guide, the cut grass to be our pedestal and the soft summer breeze our comforter. The moment is exquisitely boundless.

"Are you feeling better these days, love?" I hear whispered tenderly in my ear. I bite into my bottom lip and will the tears not to fall. His concern is endearing.

I can only nod as I guiltily cuddle closer to his strong body, my arms tightening around his neck.

A soft whimper leaves my lips as his sweet breath plays with the fallen curls beside my ear.

"Do you regret–"

"No," I instantly answer, already knowing his question.

Though I have been feeling guilty and crying more these days from said guilt, I could never regret our short interlude together. Fred had given me something essential – something I hadn't even realized I required.

I stand on the tips of my toes as I reach his neck, still too short to reach his ear. "I can't ever imagine such regret, Fred. That night left me breathless."

Surreptitiously, I pretend to cover my mouth to stifle a cough, but really place my lips on his skin where his Dress Robes don't cover. I allow them to linger a few infinite moments before pulling back.

His unblemished skin is raised in Goosebumps, and I feel proud for some reason. My gaze seeks his out, wanting him to see the truth burning in my eyes.

As we continue to sway, our eyes hardly break from each other. If impossible, I'd think I am floating. Something deep bubbles happily in me, spilling out in my quiet smiles and adoring eyes.

I can only hope he can feel my adoration for him, my thankfulness for everything.

Without warning, I feel myself spinning away from him, under his arm and back into his embrace. My head falls back as I laugh at the unsteadiness in my belly from the unexpected twirl. A warm summer breezes caresses my upturn face as I giggle from Fred's antics.

"And that, Hermione, is how one twirls properly. Be sure to take notes, love." I throw my head back again, unable to contain my delight. It all overflows from within me.

As the enjoyable, slow melody starts to wind down, I'm pulled back into the shelter of my companion's arms.

I can't help but wonder at this development and the exquisitely intimate one prior to this. What has changed . . . I cannot fathom a guess, but my heart feels it so very achingly. I feel so overcome.

"Thank you, Hermione. For the dance . . . the comfort . . . the threats to my mother." A tremor-come-giggle escapes. This ache inside is starting to hurt. The moment was too short and I don't want it to end. My body begs to stay close to his, my heart near his erratically beating one.

"F-Fred," I can't help but stammer, trying to stop the tears from leaking from my eyes, and the sadness from breaking out of my chest.

"Shh, no sadness, love. Weddings are happy occasions, yeah." I compress the pain inside me, determined to give him nothing but happiness and warm memories of me.

He pulls my face from his chest, tilting my reluctant chin up with his finger. "Now let me see that Hufflepuff smile." He gives me an endearingly wobbly grin.

"I'll Hufflepuff you," I mumble in mock-anger, biting my lip while trying to stifle my smile. "I'm all Gryffindor, baby," I can't help but salaciously murmur into his neck. "My red and gold knickers tell the tale well."

Momentarily his arms tighten around me, pulling me so wonderfully into his solid chest. "So wicked, Granger," I hear him groan. Comfortable laughter erupts from my parted, dry lips as I can't help but feel like the cat that got the canary.

A surprised, happy gasp leaves my lips as the song crescendos for the last time. My girly dress flutters around my legs as my swanky partner spins me out once more and drops me into a low dip. I can feel my loose curls touching the freshly-cut grass.

I close my eyes and let the magnificent happiness of the moment wash over me. Exquisite bliss.

My body is tugged upward as the song ends and a light applause breaks over the white, romantic marquee.

While taking advantage of everyone's distraction, I feel the lightest pressure of his lips on mine, and as if I imagined the caress, it instantly leaves me again. I can only wonder how pinks my cheek must be and how they glow in the weak light of the flickering lanterns.

"Thanks for the dance, Hermione," Fred whispers in my ear before letting me go. I suddenly feel cold out of his embrace, but the smile is stretched over my still tingling lips. "No one can compare to you tonight. So very pretty."

I can only look at him from beneath my lashes. He has overwhelmed me completely. This new shyness is quite daunting, but I don't let it stop me. My lips stretch into the widest smile I can render for him. My heart is overflowing.

"Thanks for the dance, Fred. Perhaps we could take another spin together, sometime, yeah?" I know it won't happen at Bill and Fleur's wedding, but perhaps some time at another happy event.

"As if your big, bleeding Hufflepuff heart could ever withstand me, darling." Rogue laughter bubbles thankfully from my chest, pushing some of the mounting pressure away.

I playfully swat at his arm. "You're such an incurable prat, Fred."

"And never forget that, Granger. I'm Fred: resident prankster and all around loveable, more handsome of the two Weasley twins."

The crowd starts to part around us as the band takes a ten minute break. I know our time is up.

"I won't forget," I tell him most seriously. "I won't, Fred." I give him my most brave, winning smile. "Till next time."

"Till next time," he mimics.

And as I go to turn around, and sit at the table I've spotted Harry at, Fred's words pull my attention back, "Just . . . just be careful, Hermione: you, Ron and Harry. Yeah?"

I go to question him, but he gives me that wobbly smile again which simply melts my heart (not to mention my knees, but I won't admit that even under torture).

"You, too, Fred. Both you and George. Keep each other safe: Keep faith."

With one more wobbly, soft smile and with the tenderest of winks, Fred turns around and follows his brother into the waning darkness.

"Bye, Fred," I mumble to myself, for no apparent reason. I will the blush from my cheeks and the sadness from my heart as I make my way off the dance floor.



Author's Notes: Hello, again, darlings. To be honest, I had no intention of adding anything else to this story, but some muse struck me. So here is another one-shot placed in the realm of Deathly Hallows.

Hope you liked it. I usually don't write fluff too well, but I think this one may have turned out alright.

Just wanted to thank everyone who read, alerted, and reviewed last chapter. The comments were wonderful and so very lovely. Please, if you have the inclination, leave me a little review. I adore feedback – both good and bad.

Hope all is well. Much love!

Posted: Wednesday, 26 June 2013