Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling is awesome - I don't own anything.

Author's Note: As a head's up, there is some swearing in this chapter, some of it quite intense.

Chapter 5

George was a mess. He hadn't been himself since the night Hermione had inadvertently revealed her fantasies about himself and his twin. He was frustrated, and mostly because his frustration didn't even make sense. He was almost sure he hadn't been interested in Hermione until Fred had declared his own interest and asked Hermione out. Or had he been? He'd been searching his memories, trying to remember if he'd been attracted to Hermione, and if he'd acknowledged the feeling or simply buried it in deference to Ron. Mates before dates, and all that guff. Now, he wasn't sure what he felt, or when he'd started to feel it, and it was making him guilty, horny, and angry all at once. He was also consumed with a gnawing jealousy burning low in his belly and filling his throat with bile every time Fred went off to see her again. They'd been out four more times in as many weeks, and had been owling constantly in between. George had been on edge the entire time, snarling at Fred and even snapping at his mother during Sunday lunch, which had earned him a sharp rebuke from his usually mild father. He was mostly frustrated with himself, and with his lack of control over his own feelings. It felt childish, like not noticing a toy until Fred had started to play with it, not that Hermione was a toy, though playing with her could be entertaining-

He groaned and stifled the thought. Best not to torment himself. He was hunched over his desk in what he and Fred referred to as the clean room; the explosions room was just across the hall. Surrounding him were crumpled sheets of parchment, his discarded ideas littering the floor. He'd tried to pour his frustrations into inventing, but his drawings and designs were all morbid and cruel. Thus far he'd designed five ways to transfigure a man's cock into a serpent and three ways to render a sudden outbreak of pustules – probably not suitable for mass production.

George looked up, considering the room and all it represented. There were rows upon rows of shelves, lined with ingredients for potions both common and arcane. Several books were shoved seemingly at random onto other shelves, though both he and Fred knew where each book belonged. At one end of the room was a tall cabinet with wooden-framed clear glass doors allowing George to see the shelves inside containing various small bottles of potion. His eyes fixed on one small bottle in the corner.

The thought came to him suddenly and in startling clarity. He knew it was a terrible idea, odious and deceptive, yet he still rose, fingering the hole where his ear had once been, walking to the cabinet as if drawn by some invisible compulsion. The cabinet door opened with a small snick and he gingerly lifted the small crystal bottle out from amongst its fellows. He solemnly swore he was up to no good.

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Hermione gave a flick of her wand to straighten all of her books in their immaculately ordered shelves. The library was the only room in her flat she'd used an undetectable extension charm on, and she suspected Harry had pulled some strings at the ministry to get her the necessary permission. Most wizards were banned from using undetectable extension charms on private abodes in non-magical areas. It had a habit of generating confusion if discovered. She had cast several charms to make the entrance to her private library undetected, and kept several bookshelves around her flat outside the library to keep her non-magical friends from getting suspicious. Most of her books by non-magical authors (Austen, Hardy, Byatt, and so on) were kept on the outside shelves, as she thought of them, but some favourites were hidden away with her magical tomes. Ilona Andrews and Kresley Cole sat next to one another, and Philippa Gregory occupied an entire shelf. Hermione had given up trying to defend her enjoyment of the Gregory novels to her mother, a Fellow in both the Classics and History departments at Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge. It was easier to just keep them out of sight.

She hummed contentedly to herself as she walked through the rest of the flat, using a somewhat odd combination of magic and manual labour to tidy. Hoovering could be dispensed with entirely, but plumping and straightening cushions with magic somehow felt wrong. Though she generally enjoyed cleaning, she was also happier than usual, smiling distractedly as she reminisced about her past few outings with Fred. Magic definitely did make romantic evenings more – well – magical. And apparition certainly widened the possibilities for where to go. After their initial dinner out, she'd taken him for a surprise outing to Aldeburgh for fish and chips – a bit cheap and cheerful, but they were the best in the country and the Suffolk coastline was gorgeous in the late summer weather. Plus, she'd introduced him to Adnams ale in Southwold. The magical world often had curious gaps, and alcohol seemed to be one of them. Aside from novelty drinks like firewhiskey and dragonmead, magical Britain seemed to be curiously dry. She'd even had to introduce the Weasley family to Pimms! Honestly, how could they call themselves British and not know about Pimms?

After their trip to the coast they'd had two more dates. Fred had taken Hermione to a night out at the magical theatre in Edinburgh, and Hermione had introduced Fred to the wonders of amusement parks. In retrospect, she wondered if that had been a good idea. She could almost see the ideas forming in Fred's brain as he watched the roller coasters. It was a wonder he hadn't owled George directly, She frowned at the thought of George. She hadn't seen him since the twins' visit to St. Mungo's, but she sensed from the way Fred carefully avoided talking about him that something was off between the two of them. She'd never known them to argue – it was one of many things that made people think of them as one person. She supposed they must have argued when they were young; twins did, didn't they? Siblings certainly argued, and she knew from Ron and Ginny's tales that there'd certainly been many other Weasley sibling fights. Maybe she'd ask Ginny if she knew anything.

Since their rather intimate kiss after their first date, Hermione had asked to take things slow with Fred. He'd promised and been true to his word, doing nothing more thrilling than holding her hand and chastely kissing her goodnight. Whilst he was very good at holding her hand, she was beginning to regret asking to take things slow – and wondered if Fred had readily agreed so that he could tease her into wanting more. It was the sort of devious thing he just might do.

A knock sounded at her door. She'd been so engrossed in thoughts of Fred she hadn't heard if they'd walked or apparated to her door, so she tucked her wand in her sleeve just in case. Brushing dust off her trousers, she pulled her hair up into a messy bun as she walked to the door. It was Fred, looking oddly nervous and almost guilty as he fidgeted with the hem of his shirt.

"Hi," she said brightly, stepping aside to let him in. "What brings you here?"

"Just... just wanted to see you." It almost sounded like a question and his ears were turning pink. Hermione had been surprised to find that something she'd found ridiculous on Ron seemed frankly adorable on Fred. "I know we didn't plan anything, but I just," he paused, fidgeting again and not quite meeting her eyes, "I just had to see you." This last came out sounding strained, and Hermione smiled. Cocky as he was, it was amusing to see Fred when he was being shy.

"It's no problem. I'm just doing a spot of cleaning. Come through to the kitchen and I'll make some tea." He followed her through to her tiny kitchen, standing somewhat awkwardly in the doorway as she boiled the water magically. She had a kettle but she only used in when non-magical friends were visiting; saved on electricity. "I've been meaning to ask you, are things alright with you and George? You haven't mentioned him lately and usually your every other sentence is about him." Her back was turned, so she didn't see Fred's face drain of all colour as he stepped back a pace.

"I... I should go," he mumbled, turning to head towards the door.

Hermione reached out to grab his sleeve, tugging him to her and wrapping her arms around him. "Don't be silly. I'm glad you dropped by. I was just thinking of you before you did. Actually," she said with a slow smile, sliding her hands underneath his shirt to rest on the warm skin of his back, "I was rethinking my earlier request to take things slow. Maybe," she started kissing her way up the buttons of his shirt, "maybe we should speed things up just a bit."

She lifted her head and rose up on her toes to capture his mouth in a kiss. He didn't respond for a moment, but then he tenderly put his arms around her, holding her gently yet firmly and tilted his head downwards to allow her mouth better access. His lips moved slowly over hers, seeming to explore and savour every inch of her lips, his tongue brushing hers heavily when she opened her mouth. His hands began moving and up and down her back, pressing her closer and robbing her of breath. It was utterly different from her other kiss with Fred, deeper and with a slower but still heated burn of passion. A confused thought tried to make its way to the top of her oxygen-starved brain and she finally broke the kiss, staring up at Fred in confusion and panting for breath.

He was grinning wickedly now. "Like it slow and deep, eh?"

It hit her then.

"George!?"

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"Like it slow and deep, eh?" The moment he said it, George knew it was a mistake. Hell, the whole thing had been a mistake. He'd almost left when she'd asked about him, thinking he was Fred. Almost, but then she'd kissed him...

"George!?"

"Hermione, I- OW! Bloody hell, woman!" She'd reached up to grab his ears and had pulled on them. Hard.

"Polyjuice potion," she hissed. She was livid, so mad she was practically spitting, her hair seeming to stand on end like a cat's. Before she could move, he apparated behind her and snatched up her wand from the kitchen countertop. No need to give her ammunition.

"What are- give me my wand, George Weasley!"

"Look, I'm sorry, I just-"

"Shut it," she growled. He apparated into the lounge and she paced after him. "Give it to me."

"Not until you've calmed down, I don't have a death wish. Hermione, look, I'm sorry-"

"Good. Now give me my wand."

"Please, just let me explain-"

"I have no interest in hearing any explanations. I just. Want. My. Wand."

'Hermione, I-"

"Give me my FUCKING wand!"

George froze. Hermione never swore, ever. It was then he noticed that she wasn't trembling with rage, but with barely controlled panic. Her face was white and her forehead coated with a thin sheen of sweat. It made no sense – why would she be frightened? She had to know he wouldn't hurt her, would never-

It was then he noticed her exposed forearms, white from never seeing the sun, one of them covered with dull pink markings. Mudblood.

Shit.

Silently, he handed her the wand. "I'm sorry."

He disapparated.

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Fred noted George skipping dinner and going straight to his room but didn't go to him. Ordinarily he would have, but he didn't want to have yet another tense and angry conversation where the two of them pointedly didn't talk about Hermione. Instead he ate his own dinner in silence, idly flicking through scribbled ideas on various parchments. It was a good thing the shop was doing well, as he and George hadn't designed a thing in the past four weeks. It was hard to get any work done when you weren't speaking to your inventing partner. He glanced at George's bedroom door. They should probably talk – he missed his twin. They had never been apart for long, and they rarely fought. They were separate and yet so closely entwined in each other's lives it was sometimes hard to tell where one twin ended and the other began.

Resolved to speak to George the next day, he washed up and headed to his room. Once there he sat down heavily on the bed, wearied from the strain of not speaking to his twin, wondering if George had been more cut up about the whole thing with Hermione than he let on. The thought of Hermione brought a smile to his face. He was pretty sure his sneak-attack-abstinence plan was working. With luck, he'd be renegotiating 'taking things slow' when he next saw her.

With that thought in mind, he reached for the Reveal-O-Parchment and tapped it with his wand. Hermione wrote some kinky stuff after their evenings out, and some illuminating things in between. He'd grown used to reading her thoughts each evening, looked forward to seeing what went on inside her head.

-didn't realize it was still so bad. I felt like I couldn't breathe, and it was hard to see as well. It was like she was right there again. I could hear her voice and almost feel the pain. It makes me so angry that after all this time, all the work I've put in to get past this, something so simple as not having my wand can set the panic off.

Fred frowned, he'd have to find a way to ask her what that was about – she sounded almost frightened. But as he read the next words, he forgot about her distress and his face hardened.

But speaking of anger, I'm furious with George right now. How dare he! I'm so mad that I didn't get the chance to slap him, or punch him, or at least hex him to pieces. I'll have to ask Ginny to help me with that one. I'm sure she won't ask any questions. But what makes me feel so angry and sick is that I actually enjoyed it.

Fred felt a sick knot forming in his stomach at the words.

It was nothing at all like Fred, and yet so clearly almost the same person at the same time. I felt so safe and protected in his embrace, which is almost embarrassingly primitive, and the things he was doing with his mouth were incredible-

"GEORGE!"

His door ricocheted off the wall as he burst through, and George's door groaned in protest as he wrenched it open. George was sitting on his bed, looking startled as Fred stormed in.

"YOU – YOU CUNT!"

Fred punched George then, so hard that his twin was knocked off the bed. "How could you!?" Fred pulled his wand out and pointed it furiously at George's face, inches away from the blood that dripped from his twin's nose.

"I- I'm sorry, Fred. I know I shouldn't have. It just hurt-"

"Hurt! No, this hurts." He blasted him across the room and George crashed heavily against the wall, sliding awkwardly to the floor. He made no move to retaliate though, but looked up with a forlorn expression on his face, the blood running freely now down his chin and staining his shirt.

"I'm sorry, Fred. I'm sorry. All I did was kiss her, I swear-"

"THIS – IS NOT – ABOUT – HER!" Fred punctuated each word with another blast from his wand. "It's- it's about you – and-" he flung his wand away in frustration and despair. "You and me! You're supposed to have my back, George. You're family, you're my twin. MY FUCKING TWIN!"

George looked miserable. He hadn't moved from where he had fallen and was looking at Fred in dejection.

"Just- why did you do it? Can you just tell me why you did it?"

George wiped some of the blood off his face with the back of his hand. His voice sounded hoarse when he spoke. "I saw the polyjuice potion bottle and I... I just wanted to- to be with her, just for a little while. I- I care for her too-"

"Bollocks. You just want what you can't have. I've been interested for months – you never said anything. You can't possibly feel the way I do."

George stood slowly, grimacing with pain. "I do care." He looked Fred in the eyes. "I don't know why, or when, but I do."

Fred stared at his twin for a long moment. "Well if you care so bloody much, then you're coming with me so you can apologize." George just nodded.

When Hermione opened the door to find the two of them outside, George bruised and bloody, her face paled and she ushered them inside, guiding George to a couch.

"What happened? George, are you all right? Accio first aid box." A small green and white box flew through the air and Hermione opened it, simultaneously scanning George with her wand.

Watching her tend to his twin, something nasty flashed across Fred's face. "So that's how it is? One kiss and you prefer him?" Hermione looked up sharply, then between the two brothers.

"Did you do this to him?" She stood, folding her arms together.

"Were you going to tell me you kissed him, or just see him behind my back?"

Hermione's face flushed but she stood her ground. "I would never do that! How can you even think that?"

It was Fred's turn to flush with shame. Of course she wouldn't do that. "Well, were you at least going to tell me?"

Hermione bit her lip and looked between the two of them again. "I don't know." She held up a hand to quell Fred's outburst. "I don't know. I do not like being put into a position where I need to lie," she glared at George who hung his head, "but... look at you two." She gestured at both of them. "You're family, twins. Nothing should come between that, especially not me." She sighed heavily. "So, maybe I wouldn't have told you." She turned back to Fred, facing him fully, pleading with her eyes. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, Fred. I had no idea – and maybe I should have told you straight away, but I was worried." She looked between them again. "You two shouldn't fight. If we learned anything from the war, it was that love and loyalty are important, and I didn't – don't – want to be the cause of... of fighting between you two."

Fred looked at her for a long moment, and then scrubbed his hand across his face. "I'm sorry too. It's just, when I read about how you enjoyed kissing him I-"

"Wait, when you what?"

Shit, shitshitshit. "Er, when George told me-"

"You read? You've been reading my diary, my private diary?" Hermione's wand was out and her eyes were murderous.

"I- I can explain-"

"Get out."

"Hermione," George spoke now and she whirled on him, wand inches from his chest.

"Both of you. Get out." Neither Fred nor George moved.

"GET OUT!"

They left.

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Author's Note: I can't believe how many people are reading this, and I've now got 100+ followers! Thank you so much everyone – hope you continue to enjoy the read.

Also, just to be clear, I'm not planning this story as a soap opera, with lots of angst and jerking the characters' feelings around all the time. However, I don't think that trying have a committed three-person relationship (especially where two of them are twins) in societies where two people is the norm (I'm assuming this is probably the case for the wizarding world) is going to be easy for anyone involved. So, while everyone will get their happily-ever-after, they won't get it right away, and not without difficulty.