Hermione was watching a particular red-headed boy very slyly over the brim of her book.
The other Gryffindors were leaving Hermione to her own devices, as usual, and Hermione wanted to keep it that way. Ronald and Harry were out of the common room that night, which truthfully, Hermione liked. Ron and herself got into a minor argument this morning, one that he wasn't over yet. Harry had taken Hermione's advice and was with Ron.
"You'll have more fun with Ronald, Harry," Hermione had said firmly. "Besides, I'll only be studying tonight."
"Yeah, but what else do you do?" Harry joked, ruffling her hair. "I feel bad, choosing between you." The seriousness in his expression made Hermione sigh.
"Harry, I'm telling you right now that if you come anywhere near me tonight, you will be seen with no limbs," Hermione threatened. Harry grinned and gave her a quick, one armed squeeze.
The boy Hermione had her eyes on was lounging in an armchair easily, his face had his charming grin she had seen so many times before. Not once was it ever for her. Hermione's mood dampened a little before ignoring it. She settled back into her book, concentrating with all of her might. She was not a silly little teenage girl, and she would not be distracted by a sillier, older teenage boy.
Fred Weasley glanced in Hermione's direction once every few minutes. Each time, she was in the same position. She might have been a statue, if Fred was stupid enough to think that.
And he wasn't.
He excused himself from the girls surrounding him, but they didn't mind. They just swarmed even closer to George.
Fred grinned widely and strode over to his favourite bookworm. He sat lightly on the arm of her chair, waiting for her to speak. When she didn't after a few seconds, Fred got impatient and tugged on her hair.
"Ow, Fred! That really hurt!" Hermione cried, rubbing where her hair pulled at her scalp.
"You looked awfully lonely, Hermione," Fred said cheerily. "Especially on a Friday night."
Hermione scowled, not looking at all happy with Fred. The thought made him grin wider.
"I like being alone," Hermione said curtly and looked down at her book. Fred knew she wasn't really reading, but he let her pretend.
"You need a pick-me-up," Fred declared suddenly, a great idea forming in his head. He turned to his right to inform his twin, but he wasn't there. Only slightly let down, he turned back to Hermione.
"A pick-me-up is a quick fix for someone with disastrous problems and I, for one, don't appreciate 'quick fixes' and I also don't have any problems, besides you being here distracting me from my book!" she huffed all in one breath.
Fred was slightly impressed that she was able to say all of that in one breath.
"Chill, Ginger," he said lightly, seeing her lips move but not hearing anything. His train of thought stopped.
"Sorry, Granger, I didn't quite hear that," Fred said happily. Hermione, if possible, scowled deeper than she did before.
"I said that you're the only ginger here, and a damned annoying one, too," she snapped. "Now, if you don't mind, I have studying to do."
Hermione turned away from him, signalling the conversation was over. But Fred was having way too much fun.
"Did Hermione Granger just insult me?" He exclaimed, a hand on his heart. He thought he saw the corners of her mouth twitch. He felt encouraged by that. "You wound me. I'm not sure if I can survive another day without an apology from you," he hinted dramatically. Hermione snorted and shook her head.
The conversation took on a more serious note by itself, Fred would swear to himself later.
"What, you'd let me die, right here beside you?" he asked, feigning hurt.
Hermione put down her book (finally). "No, Fred. But I would, in all honesty, expect you to jump up and scream out, 'April Fools!' or something ridiculous like that."
Fred allowed himself to grin at that. "Well, yes, Miss Granger. Even I like to think I'll be making jokes after my death."
"Speak for yourself," Hermione said lightly as her attention turned back to her book.
Fred looked over at his twin a flashed him a grin, feeling more energised than he had in a few days.
As Fred walked away from her, Hermione allowed herself to show the small smile she'd been holding in.
No matter what they talked about, Fred always put her in a better mood.
She sighed in contentment and, realising that it was almost time for dinner, left her things scattered about her chair and left. Hermione glanced over her shoulder when she reached the portrait, feeling someone's eyes on her. Fred was watching her with an amused expression while talking to George.
Hermione unintentionally flipped her hair and walked out.
When Hermione finally reached the Great Hall, Ron and Harry were already seated at their usual place half way down the table. She hurried to join them, but as soon as she arrived she wished she'd dawdled.
"I'm as sure about it as I am that the Chudley Cannons will finish under the Hollyhead Harpies on the ladder this season," Harry said around a mouthful of sausage. Hermione felt disgusted and was automatically bored about the subject. Quidditch.
Ron turned to Hermione determinedly. "Hermione, tell him when our next Hogsmede weekend is," he demanded.
"Next weekend," she answered promptly, her interest peaking in the conversation. Harry spat out his sausage in laughter. Ron scowled and turned a deep red.
"Way to be a good friend, 'Mione," he muttered.
"What? What am I missing out on?" Hermione demanded. Harry loudly cleared his throat and grinned.
"Ron was swearing on his great grandmothers grave that it was the Hogsmede trip this weekend," he smirked.
"Ron!" Hermione exclaimed. "I'm sure your great grandmother would be highly offended if she heard that!"
He just scowled in her direction unhappily.
Hermione sighed, not willing to have yet another fight with him today, and glanced towards the doors. Fred and George were whispering to each other conspicuously, occasionally giving each other hopeful looks. Hermione narrowed her eyes at them but went back to her food.
"What are you lookin' at, 'Mione?" Ron asked nosily, craning his neck to get a better look over the other Gryffindors.
"Nothing," she said quickly, glad that Fred and George had sat down. That could've turned into an awkward conversation.
"George, the snickering rings aren't ready yet," Fred murmured as he pushed his food around his plate. George sighed.
"I still think that we should test them on Umbridge," he grumbled and stabbed his food unhappily before cramming it in his mouth.
Fred forced his own food down his throat, though it didn't taste as good as it usually did.
"Not hungry, Fred?" Angelina Johnson asked from across the table in surprise.
Fred shrugged. "Actually, I feel a little ill."
George slung an arm around Fred's shoulder roughly. "Too much testing," he joked. Fred grinned.
"Yeah, that's it."
Angelina looked away and Fred dropped his smile. George looked at him, his worry showing, but he shrugged it off. George knew that if Fred wanted to talk, he would.
Fred looked up and down the table in a bored way. Yes, everything was still in order. The Ravenclaw seventh years were huddled together tightly, talking with serious expressions. The Hufflepuff crowd were smiling and nodding their heads to each other, who knew what was going on there. The Slytherin's were, by the looks of it, having an argument. Malfoy was sitting in the middle of it all looking very gleeful.
Fred scowled at them.
His fellow Gryffindor's were (naturally) making the most noise and mess. He caught eyes with Ginny and she grinned at him before shovelling food into her mouth. She may be a girl, but she definitely had the Weasley appetite.
Fred caught sight of Hermione's bushy hair and watched her for a bit. From what Fred could tell, he thought she looked disgusted. His eyes flickered to his brother who was sitting next to her. Ron was piling food into his mouth – not even waiting to swallow before he put more in – and had small crumbs around his mouth. He even had a corn kernel on his cheek.
Fred sighed and looked away. He just knew that this was going to be a long year.
Hermione looked over at Fred in the common room again, wishing he would look over at her. She felt ridiculous staring and she was sure that another Gryffindor had seen her look his way.
Hogsmede's this weekend, Hermione thought miserably.
Neither Ron nor Harry had bothered asking her to come, but Hermione still enjoyed being asked. Of course she would say no – she had studying to do, after all – but Merlin. It's the thought that counts, yes?
The clock chimed ten and Hermione jumped. Oh, wow, she was staring at Fred again.
Blushing frightfully red, she gathered her books and ran up to the dormitories, ignoring the confused looks of her peers she was sure were being sent her way.
Fred waited at the bottom of the stairs for Hermione. Today was the day.
"You're mental," George yelled in his ear from behind. Fred leapt away in fright.
"Not now, Georgie," Fred murmured as he nervously flattened his hair with his hands. George rolled his eyes.
"You're mental," he repeated and left Fred alone.
Fred practically shivered with nerves until Hermione descended down the stairs.
"Hermione!" Fred said brightly. Hermione smiled.
"Morning, Fred," she said enthusiastically. A light shade of red graced her face and she looked away.
"The Hogsmede trip is this weekend," Fred said casually. Hermione nodded.
"I'm aware," she smiled.
"You should come with me," Fred offered lightly, but inside he was a bundle of nerves. He tried to keep his cool.
Hermione looked up at him with wide, cinnamon eyes. "Seriously?"
"Yeah, why not?" Fred grinned. He was encouraged by her smile.
"Well, okay then, we can discuss the details later," Hermione said quickly, as she glanced towards Harry and Ron. Fred flashed her his most charming grin. Hermione's lips turned up slightly.
"We'll talk later, Granger," Fred said happily. Hermione nodded and bounded off to her friends; Fred was trying to not do the same.
Hermione was a teenage girl.
But Fred was a sillier, teenage boy.
And he could put two and two together.