Hi everyone! I know I have a FredxHermione and a GeorgexHermione story which I'm working on but this story just would not rest in my mind until it was on paper, so I had to write the first chapter at least. It starts in Hermione's fifth year, so the twins' seventh year. It will follow some events in the books but not all and Fred and George will be added to some events as well.
Let me know what you think. I enjoyed writing this chapter and it would be nice to know what you think it.
~ CHAPTER ONE ~
AN UNLIKELY SOURCE OF COMFORT
Hermione Granger had never felt pain like this before. She considered herself to be a remarkably strong young woman, considering all she had been through in the past. After surviving Devil's Snare, being petrified, helping Sirius escape and helping Harry to battle through the Triwizard Tournament, as well as maintaining her consistently excellent school results, Hermione thought that something like what she was experiencing now should not really bother her as it much as it was. However, all Hermione could focus on was the stabbing, insistent pain in her hand; it was unbelievable, and it was taking all the mental and physical strength that Hermione possessed, to simply walk in as straight line back to the Gryffindor Common Room.
Hermione let out a deep, shaky breath as she leant against the wall, breathing hard, just trying to compose herself, hoping that she did not see anyone she knew, and also that they didn't ask her what was wrong, although the only had to look at her right hand to realise where she had been all evening. All Hermione wanted to do was get back to the Common Room; Ron and Harry had promised they would be there when she got back, they knew where she was going and that she would need support whenever she returned. Hermione knew she wasn't far from the Gryffindor Common Room; Professor Umbridge's office was only a couple of floors down from the place Hermione called home, and she had already climbed the flights of stairs, she could see the portrait in front of her, but it felt so far away, Hermione wasn't sure if she could manage the arduous walk, but she had to try.
Hermione had been in detention with Professor Delores Umbridge for the majority of the evening, she had eaten dinner with Harry, Ron, Fred and George and then gone straight to the detention. Hermione had no idea what time it was now, but the castle was in an eerie darkness, broken only by the occasional dimly lit lantern, which led Hermione to believe that it was past curfew for students and most likely prefects alike. Hermione looked down at her right hand and the pain hit her again as she noticed that the piece of cloth wrapped around the cuts was now stained red with blood. Professor Umbridge's torturous detentions had become well known within the halls and corridors of Hogwarts, with many students being victims of the vicious quills which sliced the skin on the back of your hand, including both of the Weasley Twins and Harry to name a few. More often than not, these detentions were for little things which all the other teachers would have either praised or ignored. For example, Hermione had been put in detention because she had read ahead to the next chapter of the textbook after finishing the assigned chapter and her notes on it. Professor Umbridge had noticed this and ordered Hermione to come to her office at seven o'clock that night for detention for being such a know it all and for reading ahead. Everyone in the class at that time had looked at Hermione with sympathy, and Hermione, despite her best efforts had felt scared, but the promise from Harry and Ron that they would be there when she returned, was enough to keep her going and keep her strong.
Hermione remembered the stabbing, stinging pain caused by the first sentence she had written; I am a know it all, something which had not only caused her physical, but also emotional pain as well. Hermione had always tried hard at school, muggle school or Hogwarts, and teachers had always told her she did the right thing by studying; even Snape, with his dislike of her gave her praise on her essays for Potions. However, Professor Umbridge had made Hermione feel so small and insignificant, that this upset her more than any physical pain ever could.
Her confidence shattered and her hand sore and bleeding, Hermione mumbled the password to The Fat Lady, who immediately let her into the Common Room, seeing the young girl's vulnerable state. All Hermione was holding onto at the moment was seeing Ron and Harry, knowing that they would there for her. As Hermione entered the Common Room, tears blurring her vision and pain searing through her veins, she was shocked and very hurt to see that Harry and Ron were not in the Common Room; in fact, the Common Room looked empty as far as Hermione could see; the only sound coming from the dying embers of the fire, the only light coming from a few solitary lamps.
Hermione let out a quiet sob that she had been holding in for the longest time; she was hurt that Ron and Harry weren't there waiting for her, they had promised her, sworn to her that they would be and now they weren't. Hermione felt abandoned; there was no other way she could describe it, as she slowly stumbled forward, now just wanting to go to bed and start again tomorrow.
Hermione stumbled forward slowly, hurting both physically and emotionally, unaware that someone had just heard her enter the Common Room, someone who knew her , and also that this moment would be one that would change both of their lives forever.
"Hermione?" an instantly recognisable voice said from the sofa in front of the fire.
"Fred?" whimpered Hermione, hoping she hadn't confused the identity of the Weasley Twins in her emotional state.
"Yeah," confirmed Fred, standing up, "it's me."
Fred got up and began to walk towards Hermione, who suddenly found that her legs felt heavy and she seemed unable to move. Fred was stood in front of Hermione in seconds, and even through her blurred vision, Hermione could see a look of concern and deep worry on Fred's face, something which she was not accustomed to seeing.
"Oh Hermione," breathed Fred sadly "come and sit down."
"Where are Harry and Ron?" asked Hermione, in a vulnerable voice laced with tears "they said they'd wait for me."
"They went to bed a couple of hours ago," said Fred, feeling angry with Harry and his younger brother "I think they thought you'd already come back."
"So what are you still doing up?" asked Hermione, allowing Fred to start leading her to the sofa, his strong and protective arm wrapped gently around her.
"I knew you hadn't come back," said Fred simply "I wanted to make sure you were all right. I know how tough those detentions are and you've been there longer than anyone else I know about so I couldn't let you be alone."
"Thank you Fred," said Hermione, sitting down with Fred's guidance, immediately feeling very shaky "how long have I been in there?"
"About five hours I think," said Fred, looking sad "I was about to come and look for you when I heard you come back."
"But why did Harry and Ron not wait for me?" asked Hermione, the vulnerability and abandonment in her voice breaking Fred's heart "the amount of times I've waited up for them, they couldn't do it for me this once?"
"I know it hurts Hermione," said Fred sympathetically.
"Thank you for waiting for me," said Hermione, her voice trembling with both pain and also genuine amazement that Fred cared for her so much that he would have waited up for her until past midnight.
"It's fine," said Fred, smiling gently "I just wanted to make sure you were all right."
"I think I'll be all right eventually," said Hermione, whose uninjured hand was shaking slightly.
"Let's see what we can do about that hand," said Fred gently, taking Hermione's small and bleeding hand in his own.
Fred began unwrapping the piece of cloth from Hermione's hand, making comforting noises occasionally when Hermione gasped in pain. Fred waved his wand and made a bowl of warm water appear instantly on the table in front of them, and slowly coaxed Hermione into putting her hand into the water. Again Hermione gasped in pain, a sound which made Fred's heart hurt, for reasons he was unable to explain.
"I know it hurts Hermione," said Fred kindly "I've been through it too, but I've never seen anybody with cuts this bad."
Hermione was unable to talk, something which Fred sensed and consequently did not push a conversation any further. Instead Fred slowly and carefully took Hermione's injured hand in his own, watching her reaction carefully and gently started to wipe away the excess blood, using a cloth and the bowl full of water. Fred head Hermione gasp in pain a couple of times, and when she did, he simply stopped what he was doing and locked his soft blue eyes with her vulnerable caramel ones, an expression of genuine concern on his face in order to gain Hermione's trust and let her know that everything was going to be all right. Eventually after a few painful minutes Fred had finished wiping away the excess blood from Hermione's hand, which allowed him to see the words carved into her hand.
"Don't you listen to these words Hermione," Fred practically growled "they're wrong."
"They're not though are they?" asked Hermione sadly, wiping a stray tear away with her free hand.
"They are," said Fred firmly "you are not a know it all, you're clever, the smartest person I know, but you're not a know it all. Just because you answer questions, just because you do your work doesn't make you a know it all, it just makes you dedicated."
"Really?" said Hermione, looking for reassurance.
"Yes," said Fred kindly "I wish I was as clever as you."
"You and George are really intelligent too," said Hermione, looking into Fred's eyes "you couldn't have made all those Skiving Snackboxes if you weren't."
Fred's face lit up with a genuine smile as he regarded Hermione with some admiration and happiness. She had never admitted to either him or George that she was ever impressed by any of their products, so hearing such a simple statement come from her mouth was like music to Fred's ears.
"So does this mean you approve of them then?" asked Fred, smirking slightly.
"Maybe a little bit," said Hermione, allowing herself a small smile "but not when you test them on first years, but I do like the fact they can get people away from Umbridge."
Fred chuckled heartily, a sound which made Hermione's stomach flip, something which she couldn't explain. There was then a comfortable silence between the two friends; they had known each other long enough to not have to talk all the time. Instead Fred lifted Hermione's hand out of the water, transfiguring the bowl of water into a bowl of what Hermione recognised as Murtlap Essence. Hermione slowly dipped her hand into the foul-smelling liquid, immediately feeling a sense of coolness and relief engulf her, as the pain in her hand diminished markedly.
"How about we make a deal?" said Fred, winking at Hermione.
"Elaborate a bit and then I'll see if I agree," said Hermione smiling.
"George and I stop testing our products on first years," said Fred slowly, a devilish grin filling his face "and instead we put Puking Pastilles or Fever Fudge in Umbridge's food, or we give them to Gryffindor Students when they have a lesson with her."
"That's a good deal," said Hermione "and you could give Umbridge or Malfoy a gift, leave it outside Umbridge's office and when she opens it, it's one of those telescopes that punched me over the summer."
"Nice idea," said Fred, snickering, genuinely considering that idea "we'll make a prankster out of you yet Granger!"
"I highly doubt that," retorted Hermione.
"Why?" asked Fred curiously "we could do with someone like you who knows so much about everything, even if it's just to make sure we don't kill ourselves on a daily basis."
"I'm supposed to be the smart one," said Hermione, who looked slightly saddened suddenly "I couldn't be like you no matter how much it appeals to me, no one would expect it, they'd all be disappointed in me."
"I wouldn't be disappointed," said Fred in a reassuring voice "I'd be happy as long as I knew you were doing something you loved, you deserve to do whatever you want to Hermione, no matter what anyone else thinks, and that includes Harry and Ron."
"I just want to be something more than what everyone sees me as," said Hermione, in quite a distressed voice.
"What do you mean?" asked Fred in a kind voice.
Hermione hesitated before answering; she had never seen this side of Fred before, the caring side, the side that she was finding she could trust. All Hermione wanted to do was talk to Fred, to tell him everything and she knew deep down, even though it had never been confirmed to her, that nothing she said to Fred, would be repeated to anyone else. In that split second, Hermione decided she had nothing to lose in telling Fred some of her secrets, Ron and Harry hadn't waited for her like they said they would, and Fred had, so he had already earned Hermione's trust, so she felt she may as well repay it.
"All everyone sees me as it the smart one, the clever one, the know it all" said Hermione, looking down and focusing on the Murtlap Essence between herself and Fred "I'm just the person that has stopped Harry and Ron from getting killed for the past five years, the one they turn to when they need their homework doing. Last year proved it to me, they don't even see me as a girl, all I feel like to them is an endless pool of knowledge who they come to when they want something and then when I need something they just forget about me. All I am to everyone is a plain, boring person who always has my nose in a book and is essentially Harry Potter's sidekick."
"Hermione listen to me," said Fred firmly, taking her free hand in his "you are so much more than that. You're the smartest witch I know, you're funny, you keep everyone in line, including me and George, which is a mission in itself, you kind, caring, you'll do anything for anyone and you're so beautiful, you lit up the whole of the Great Hall at the Yule Ball last year, and more fool the boys if they don't notice you. You're amazing Hermione, and what's even better is that you don't know it. You have no idea how many girls I know who I can't have a decent conversation with; but you, you're different, we can have conversations about anything, you love to learn and I know how important everything is to you. Trust me Hermione, you don't realise how important you actually are."
"Really?" said Hermione incredulously.
"Yeah," said Fred "you're so amazing you have no idea, you seem to inspire everyone you come into contact with. I know all of this sounds cheesy and you don't expect it from me at all, but I just want to make you feel more confident about yourself, you're amazing, never let anyone tell you any different, especially Umbridge."
"I'll try not to," said Hermione, allowing herself to smile ever so slightly "thank you Fred, for everything."
"No problem," said Fred "I wasn't going to leave you when you needed someone most, come on let's see your hand."
"It's feeling a lot better," said Hermione "a lot less painful."
"I remembered that you said Murtlap Essence was the best thing to use," said Fred "so I made sure I knew how to conjure some up for you."
"Thank you so much," said Hermione, heartened by Fred's concern "you have no idea how much that means to me."
Fred smiled a warm smile, a smile which Hermione very rarely saw, as it was usually taken over by a mischievous grin, but a smile which she had to admit she liked very much. Fred gently took Hermione's hand out of the Murtlap Essence to see that it was already slowly healing. Fred then dried Hermione's hand with an incredibly soft towel, so as not to scratch the cuts and make them start bleeding again.
"I'm just going to wrap this up in a bandage Hermione until it heals," said Fred kindly "just so it doesn't get infected, and so you don't put too much strain on it."
"You're very good at looking after people with injuries Fred," observed Hermione "you have a naturally reassuring demeanour."
"You don't grow up as a Weasley without having to know some basic first aid," said Fred grinning "especially if you're me and George with all our experiments."
"I suppose that's a good point," said Hermione, allowing herself to giggle slightly, while she watched Fred slowly wrap a bandage around her hand.
After a minute or two Fred tied the bandage securely around Hermione's hand, knowing that not seeing the cruel words etched into her hand, would immediately make Hermione feel better. Fred then quickly waved his wand and made all his first aid equipment disappear, before turning back to Hermione.
"Are you feeling better now?" he asked.
"Yes," said Hermione, although Fred noticed her voice shake slightly "thank you so much for everything."
"It's fine," said Fred "are you sure you're all right?"
"I guess so," said Hermione, her voice trembling again "it just hurts that Harry and Ron couldn't be bothered to wait up for me."
"I know it hurts," said Fred sympathetically "I told them you hadn't come back yet when they went upstairs but they just carried on, I don't know why."
"Neither do I," said Hermione, refusing to look Fred in the eye through fear she may cry "I mean it's a Saturday tomorrow so we don't have to be awake early."
"We do have Quidditch practice tomorrow," said Fred, who had only just remembered "maybe that explains it."
"Yeah maybe," said Hermione, who looked crestfallen "but why are you still up?"
"I forgot about it," answered Fred honestly "but it doesn't matter, I'd rather make sure you're all right than go to Quidditch practice."
"Nice to know Harry and Ron feel Quidditch is more important than me," said Hermione, unable to keep the bitterness and the hurt out of her voice.
"I know," said Fred "I'm so sorry they were insensitive."
"It's all right," said Hermione "I guess I'm used to being someone they don't really think about sometimes."
"You shouldn't have to feel like that Hermione," said Fred immediately "I'm going to make sure you know how important you are, I promise."
"Why it is always me that sacrifices everything?" asked Hermione suddenly, tears threatening to fall "how many times have I broken rules for them? How many times have I done their work? How many times have I got them out of trouble? And they can't even be here for me now because of Quidditch? It's not fair Fred, they promised me."
"I know it's not," said Fred, feeling anger rise in his heart towards Harry and Ron.
All of a sudden Fred heard a sob, a sound that he had been trying to avoid all night. Fred brought his eyes up to look at Hermione's face and found her crying, weeping because of the trust she had in her two best friends which had now been broken, sobbing because of the pain and humiliation Umbridge had put her through. Fred sighed, he couldn't leave Hermione like this, he needed to make sure she was all right, so he manoeuvred himself slowly so that he could put his arm around her. Fred expected Hermione to flinch away from him, but he was surprised when she leaned into his shoulder and began to sob into his shirt. Fred quickly recovered from his initial shock and wrapped his other arm around Hermione in a proper hug. He was aware Hermione had grasped his shirt, desperately looking for comfort, but Fred didn't mind, he just wanted to stop her from crying. Fred made soft comforting noises as he leant into Hermione's hair and also rubbed circles on her back in an effort to calm her down.
"It's all right Hermione," cooed Fred "you'll be all right, you're safe now, I'll look after you I promise."
Fred was patient, not rushing Hermione to calm down at all. He knew the best thing he could do was to just be there for her as a constant source of comfort and strength; and as he heard the girl in his arms crying, Fred made a silent promise to both himself and Hermione, that he would be there for her when she needed him from this moment on. Eventually, Fred heard Hermione's weeps subsiding so he gently disengaged her from his now damp shoulder and looked deep into her glassy caramel coloured eyes.
"I'm s-sorry Fred," said Hermione in a hoarse voice that only served to show her vulnerability at that moment in time.
"You don't need to be sorry," said Fred.
"I shouldn't let Umbridge and Harry and Ron get to me though," said Hermione, looked down at her hands.
"Hermione look at me," said Fred, gently moving Hermione's face up to look at his "it's all right to be upset, Harry and Ron broke your trust and a promise and Umbridge caused you physical pain. You don't always have to be the strong one in the group, it's all right to feel vulnerable once in a while."
"I just feel so upset and hurt," whispered Hermione.
"Justifiably," said Fred "but listen to me, you're going to be all right, I promise. I'm going to look after you all right? From now on anytime you need anything you can come to me, OK? I promise I won't let you down."
"You shouldn't have to look after me Fred," said Hermione sadly.
"Hermione I want to be there for you," said Fred honestly "and it won't be looking after you; I'll just be there for you as a friend."
"All right then," said Hermione, wiping her tears away and managing a small smile.
"Just do me one thing?" said Fred "try to relax a bit, yeah? I can help you with that, you know I can, and try to show Harry and Ron the fantastic and beautiful person they're missing out on."
"I'll try," said Hermione, who seemed a little bit nervous "it's just nerve-wracking wondering what they're going to say when they see us being friends."
"I know," said Fred "I don't think Ron will be happy, but you're entitled to be friends with whoever you want, so don't let them get to you."
"I'll try not to," said Hermione, biting her lip.
"Good," said Fred smiling "and you know I'll be there if anything does go wrong. You deserve to have some freedom Hermione, they can't begrudge you being friends with other people."
"I just feel like I should be loyal to both of them," said Hermione sadly "they have looked after me through the years."
"Not as much as you have them," said Fred.
"I know," said Hermione "but I don't want to just abandon them."
"You won't be abandoning them," said Fred "you'll just be friends with me as well, I won't stop you from seeing them at all, all I want to do is be there for you. So we'll start tomorrow, I'll meet you for breakfast then you can come and watch us play Quidditch if you want, how does that sound?"
"That sounds good," said Hermione, who suddenly felt a lot better "it'll be nice to have another friend, Fred."
"What time do you want to meet?" asked Fred, smiling "I'm normally up early so whatever time you want."
"How about we say we go down at eight?" said Hermione "what do you want to do after Quidditch?"
"I don't mind," said Fred "it's up to you, I think there might be a Hogsmeade trip tomorrow; Angelina likes Quidditch practice to start at nine and it's usually over by eleven so maybe we could go?"
"Oh I'd forgotten about that!" said Hermione, smiling "yeah that sounds good."
"Excellent!" said Fred, who was positively beaming "are you feeling better now?"
"I am thanks Fred," said Hermione smiling "thank you for everything, and thank you in advance for tomorrow."
"It will be my pleasure," said Fred happily, glad he had cheered Hermione up "now as for you Miss Granger, I think it's time for you to go to bed!"
Hermione giggled as Fred winked suggestively at her, and she felt slightly confused as butterflies erupted in her stomach. Before Hermione could react Fred swept her up into his arms and carried her over to the staircases which led to the dormitories. Hermione squealed in alarm at first, but then in happiness as giggles overtook her.
"Fred put me down!" she called, through excessive laughs.
"But you look comfortable in my arms," said Fred mischievously, once again winking at Hermione.
Despite her best efforts, Hermione could not deny to herself that Fred's arms were comfortable; they were certainly strong; the years of Quidditch had done him good as his muscles flexed under his shirt, and more importantly to Hermione, she felt safe and protected, something which she wasn't used to.
"As comfortable as I am Fred," said Hermione, a statement which made Fred smile that genuine smile which Hermione didn't see very often "can you please put me down so I can go to bed."
Fred obliged and placed Hermione on her feet next to him. He smiled warmly once again before wordlessly pulling Hermione into a tight hug. Hermione returned the embrace willingly and smiled against Fred's torso, only now noticing just how tall he was compared to her, as she breathed in the smell of his aftershave. All too soon for Hermione, Fred pulled away from the hug, knowing that if he held Hermione for any longer he would never be able to let her go. Fred looked down into Hermione's eyes, wishing that he could just get lost in them.
"Night Hermione," he said gently "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Night Fred," said Hermione smiling "thank you for everything."
Fred smiled again, not expecting Hermione's next action at all. Hermione stood on her tiptoes and placed the softest kiss on Fred's cheek that Fred had to question if he had imagined it, however when he looked down at Hermione, he noticed she was blushing, which made Fred believe Hermione had actually just kissed him, and the strange feeling in his stomach was real as well.
"Night," said Hermione, before beginning the walk up the stairs to her dormitory.
"Night," said Fred, still slightly shocked by the fact Hermione kissed him.
Fred watched as Hermione ascended the stairs, turning round to wave at him, a gesture which he returned. Fred was mystified by Hermione's parting gesture, her parting kiss on his cheek; he touched the spot on his faced where Hermione's lips had touched, feeling his fingertips tingling, and the butterflies in his stomach multiply by ten. Fred didn't understand why Hermione was having this sudden effect on him, but all he could think as he climbed the stairs and went to bed, was that he was looking forward to spending tomorrow with Hermione; a feeling which was mirrored by Hermione at the same time as both of the youngsters lay in their respective beds dreaming of each other.
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