Hi everyone, I'm back. Thank you so, so much for all the lovely reviews for this story! I really appreciate it. I've tried to build the background up a bit with this chapter and I've also brought Ginny into it as well. I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, JK Rowling does, this is purely a work of fanfiction
~ CHAPTER FOUR ~
Hermione found herself sat in library for hours on end, trying to read any book that she could to try and take her mind off the worry that engulfed her whenever she thought about Fred. The skies slowly darkened outside and soon the only light allowing Hermione to read came from the lamps floating above the chairs in the library, as the rest of the natural light had been replaced by pitch black darkness. Hermione hadn't even noticed this transformation; she had been too lost in her own thoughts, the familiar words of multiple books washing over her, not really sinking into her mind at all, as she continued to worry incessantly about Fred.
Hermione glanced at the old clock on the wall opposite her, it read eight o'clock; the time seemed to have passed quickly, Hermione hadn't even noticed this happen, it shocked her just how much her concern over Fred had taken over all of her thoughts and if Hermione was honest she didn't understand why this had happened as up until yesterday, yes, should would have been concerned about Fred, but not as worried as she was now.
There were many things about the last few weeks and particularly the last couple of days that Hermione didn't understand, which was a rare feeling for her. She just couldn't grasp what had come over Harry and Ron since they had come back to Hogwarts, or why they had suddenly started treating her in the way they had; it mystified her. She also couldn't understand how she and Fred had become so close in such a short space of time; sure she and Fred had always been friends, Fred had always been able to make her laugh unlike anyone else, but still, it mystified and also confused Hermione slightly as to why Fred would show her such care and compassion all of a sudden, when she had always been the one who had reprimanded him and George about their pranks in the past. Something inside Hermione told her that her relationship with Harry, Ron and Fred alike, would never be the same again, all for differing reasons, and whilst the prospect of change thrilled her in some way, Hermione still wanted to know exactly what had caused all this to happen, exactly why she was in the position she was at the moment.
Hermione sighed to herself and found herself fidgeting yet again, something which was almost unheard of for her. She just wanted to know that Fred was all right; she knew Madame Pomfrey would not have a problem fixing him up, but it didn't stop her from being concerned, the way Fred probably had been for her the night before; Hermione realised. All of a sudden, Hermione heard a great clatter of noise not far from where she was sitting; she could hear footsteps running towards her as books toppled over and there were indignant shouts from students, and the librarian Madame Pince, alike.
"Hermione, Hermione!" called George's excited voice, as he rounded a corner, finally coming face to face with her "Fred's being let out of the Hospital Wing now, he's fine, he asked me to come and find you. Come on!"
"Is he really all right George?" asked Hermione, her voice sounding more vulnerable than she intended it to "you've been gone for ages."
"I know," said George "Madame Pomfrey healed his ribs pretty quick but then she wanted him to rest so gave him a sleeping potion, he woke up not long ago asking for you. I said I'd come and find you and I just left him getting all his stuff together and getting changed."
"Can we see him?" asked Hermione, realising how stupid the question must have sounded.
"Of course," said George, pulling her by the hand, forcing her to abandon her now forgotten book "come on!"
Hermione gladly followed George out of the library, making more noise than she ever would have dreamed of in the past, much to the chagrin of Madame Pince. As Hermione and George marched quickly down the corridor towards the Hospital Wing together, Hermione found herself matching George's long strides with a slight jog; her excitement and relief at seeing Fred taking over her completely.
Sooner than Hermione expected, she and George rounded the corner to the Hospital Wing and sure enough, just as Hermione was expecting, there stood Fred, leaning casually against the wall looking as if nothing had ever happened to him. Fred's face broke out into a huge grin when he saw Hermione, and Hermione was sure her expression was exactly the same. George stood back from the scene a bit, firstly to allow the two new-found friends to see each other again and share in a private moment of reunion, secondly as he and Fred had already had their 'reunion' of sorts, and thirdly, just to observe. George had never seen his twin act like this with a girl before; he had been shocked when Fred and Hermione had come to breakfast together that morning and when Hermione had revealed she and Fred had planned to go to Hogsmeade together; he had suddenly wondered if Fred had a little soft spot for Hermione. If George was honest with himself he wouldn't be surprised if Fred and Hermione did have slight crushes on each other; he had observed them over the years and although they had never been overtly close towards each other, mostly due to Ron's jealousy; he had always noticed little moments of tenderness towards each other, harmless flirting and private jokes that no one else seemed to, but then after all, George was Fred's twin; he knew Fred better than Fred knew himself.
One particular moment which always stuck in George's mind, as he watched the scene in front of him with a knowing smile and a curious interest, was the Yule Ball. Fred had asked Angelina to the Ball, but this had only been for George's benefit, who was too nervous to ask her, so while George and Angelina had danced the night away, discovering the start of their own relationship, Fred had been left with no one; something which he had assured George, did not bother him. George had been too busy falling for Angelina to notice Hermione; how beautiful she looked and also how Ron had argued with her at every possible opportunity. However, George knew now that Fred had noticed; it was something he had discovered that night, when he and Angelina had been rushing outside into the freezing snow to get some privacy. George had seen Hermione sobbing uncontrollably on the stairs leading up from the Entrance Hall, but at the same time he had seen his twin comforting her, coaxing her gently to talk to him, tell him what was wrong before he hugged her, trying to make her tears disappear. George had never told Fred he had seen him comforting Hermione that night, and what had been said between the two friends would remain private for as long as they both lived, or at least until they decided to share it with everyone else. From that moment on, George had watched his brother and Hermione together and he was pretty sure there were some romantic feelings between the two of them; they were always there for each other in the background of all the madness going on in the rest of the world, they could make each other laugh and George was pretty certain that one day they would realise the feelings they had for each other, at least he hoped they would, for both of their sakes.
"Fred!" George heard Hermione exclaim happily.
"Hermione!" called Fred, smiling hugely.
George was jolted out of his reverie just in time to see the two people he had just been thinking about running towards each other. Hermione reached Fred first, and in an action which shocked all three of the young wizards, she threw her arms around Fred in a huge hug, which Fred did not hesitate to return.
"Oh I'm so glad you're all right," said Hermione, her voice slightly muffled by the hug.
"I'm fine," said Fred happily "I'm just glad to see you again. Thank you for looking after me Hermione."
"It's no problem," said Hermione "I just can't believe Ron did that, I will never understand why he's become so possessive of me all of a sudden."
"Try not to think about that for now," said Fred, in a reassuring voice "let's just go back to the Common Room; Harry and Ron will come round eventually."
"Angie's saved us some food from dinner," said George, as he, Fred and Hermione started walking back to the Common Room.
"Ah excellent," said Fred "I'm starving!"
Hermione giggled and allowed herself to relax for the first time in what felt like forever. She smiled to herself as she felt Fred take her hand in his and squeeze it tightly. Hermione caught Fred's eye and he winked at her, something which did not go unnoticed by George, who murmured the password to the Fat Lady, as Fred and Hermione had failed to notice they had reached the entrance to the Gryffindor Common Room. The door opened to reveal a strangely empty Common Room, except for a very worried looking Angelina and Ginny, the latter of whom bounded over to Fred when she saw him and threw her arms around him.
"George told me what Ron did Fred; oh I'm so angry at him, I gave him a nice Bat Bogey hex for his trouble, and I told Harry he was out of order not standing up for you or Hermione, I can't believe he doesn't have the backbone to stand up for you, when you think of all he's done, telling his friend to stop being vindictive and mean should be easy, I just don't understand it," she babbled "oh but I'm so glad you're all right, I really am."
"Calm down Gin," said Fred, chuckling slightly as he pulled his sister to him in a one armed hug, the other hand still not letting go of Hermione's "I'm fine."
"I know," said Ginny "but still."
"Listen Gin," said Fred in a reassuring voice "I'm fine, thanks to Hermione here."
Ginny smiled and watched interestedly as Fred embraced Hermione tightly, obviously surprising her, before she grinned hugely, returning the hug. Ginny watched again as Fred appeared to whisper something intelligible into Hermione's ear, making Hermione blush while also mouthing something back to Fred, which would remain private between the two of them until they decided to divulge it in the confidence of another person. After sharing that private moment, which Ginny suspected was simply Fred thanking Hermione and complimenting her in some way, which would make Hermione blush as she wasn't used to being complimented; Fred led Hermione over to the sofa in the Gryffindor Common Room. They sat down and alongside George and were immediately handed a plate of food by Angelina, which they accepted gratefully, all famished after a day of not eating anything. Ginny had always been good at reading feeling and scenes in front of her, and she didn't fail to notice the secret smiles, tenderness and care which existed between her older brother and Hermione. The gestures which were on show were much like the ones that existed between Angelina and George, who had been going out for a year; so Ginny thought it would only be a matter of time until Hermione and Fred realised their true feelings for each other.
After about an hour of easy conversation between the five young Gryffindors, Ginny was convinced that Hermione and Fred both had feelings for each other, but also believed that they had no idea about the other's feelings and even their own. Ginny decided that the best way they could both become aware of their feelings would be to spend as much time together as possible, and particularly time where it was just the two of them; she had watched them spend time together in the past and had noticed that whenever they were together they seemed to be transported to their own private world, full of private jokes and personalities which only the other one of them saw. Ginny was sure George must have noticed at least that Fred acted differently when Hermione was around; he was Fred's twin after all and quite observant as well; Ginny noticed he kept throwing the couple glances and smiling.
"Right I'm going to bed people," she announced suddenly, giving a huge theatrical yawn "Sunday tomorrow and I want my lie-in."
Everyone bade Ginny goodnight, last of all George, who caught his younger sister's eye, and followed her look until it fell on Fred and Hermione, who seemed almost unaware of everyone around them as they were having a rather animated discussion about ways to make Umbridge suffer, which caused giggles and laughs to erupt from both of them at regular intervals. George noticed Ginny winked, and looked again at Fred and Hermione, before turning her eyes back to George, who understood exactly what she was trying to say then. George gave a quick surreptitious nod and a wink to Ginny, knowing that she too believed Fred and Hermione had feelings for each other just as he did. With that, Ginny bounded up the stairs to the girls' dormitories.
After another ten minutes George decided, the same as Ginny had done before him, that if Fred and Hermione were ever going to realise their feelings for one another, then they had to spend as much time on their own as possible.
"I think it's time I went to bed as well," said George, standing up and stretching "it's been a long day, what about you Angie?"
"I think that's a good idea," said Angelina, yawning.
George and Angelina consequently both said goodnight to Fred and Hermione, both not surprised when they only received quick replies back before the two returned to their previous discussion. George walked Angelina over to the staircase and hugged her tightly.
"They love each other don't they?" whispered Angelina, gesturing subtly towards Fred and Hermione and shocking George "they just don't know it yet."
"That's what we think," said George smiling "so let's give them some time alone."
Angelina nodded, smiling slightly as George hugged her again, a gesture which she returned happily. George then leant down and kissed Angelina on the lips, gently deepening the kiss and wrapping his arms around her waist.
"I miss sleeping in the same bed as you George, like we did over summer," said Angelina, worried she would sound pathetic.
"I miss it too," said George, something which made Angelina smile "maybe next weekend we can go to the Room of Requirement and just spend the night there, it's so strange sleeping without you in my arms."
"I think that's a good idea," said Angelina, smiling "something to look forward to."
"Exactly," said George smiling warmly "now we really should get to bed, leave those two alone, you know?"
Angelina nodded and after one last chaste kiss from George she began walking up the stairs to the girls' dormitories only stopping when she got to the top.
"Love you George," she said smiling.
"Love you too Angel," said George tenderly, using the nickname he knew Angelina loved, despite her protests.
George watched Angelina go before ascending the stairs to the boys' dormitories himself, smiling as he still heard Fred and Hermione talking amongst themselves.
"…and then we could put Firewhiskey in her tea; me and George and working on a flavourless and odourless brand," said Fred, struggling to stop laughing "imagine that, Umbridge teaching her classes after breakfast with the assistance of Firewhiskey, it would be hilarious! We wouldn't even need Puking Pastilles for her."
Hermione laughed along with Fred, who had been laughing so hard he now had to wipe a tear from his eyes, before he looked up at Hermione's bright eyes and noticed that suddenly everything felt right with the world; like nothing could separate either of them. Fred wondered if Hermione felt the same spark between them bueet at the same time also mused over what these new feelings meant, as he was not used to experiencing butterflies in his stomach or nerves when he saw someone.
"I'm so glad you're all right Fred," said Hermione suddenly, in a quiet voice, shocking Fred.
"I was always going to be all right Hermione," said Fred moving closer to her "you looked after me."
"I know, and I knew Madame Pomfrey would fix you up," said Hermione, looking down at her hands "but still, I couldn't stop myself being worried."
"Oh Hermione," sighed Fred, putting his arm around her shoulders, trying to reassure her "I was never going to leave you. The only thing I could think about when I was falling through the air, watching the ground get closer and closer was you. Then I saw you and I was so happy; I was in pain but that didn't matter because I knew you were fine and I knew I would be too."
Fred could see Hermione looked vulnerable and consequently wrapped his strong arms around her, allowing her to hug him back, both of them releasing all of their fears into that one embrace.
"Trust me Hermione," said Fred, speaking into Hermione's vanilla scented curls "I was never going to leave you."
"Thank you," said Hermione, her voice slightly muffled against Fred's shoulder.
"It's all right," said Fred kindly "I've always been around for you; I'm not going to let a little Bludger stop me am I?"
"We've always been there for each other Fred," said Hermione, disengaging herself from their embrace but still subconsciously keeping hold of Fred's hands "I don't know what I would do without you."
"You won't have to think about that," said Fred smiling "I've always been around haven't I? Who was it that made you smile when Ron and Krum made you cry at the Yule Ball? Who was it you came to when you saw Cedric's body? Who was it that made you smile when Harry and Ron made you feel worthless over the summer? Who was there when you woke up from being Petrified? I'll always be there for you Hermione, in both the foreground and the background whenever you need me."
"I know, thank you Fred," said Hermione, allowing herself to smile "I appreciate everything you've done for me, I hope you know that."
"I hope you know how much I appreciate you," said Fred, looking down and feeling slightly bashful all of a sudden "I came to talk to you every day when you were Petrified and when I found out Ginny had been taken into the Chamber of Secrets I came and spoke to you as well, that's why I was there when you woke up; I never would have got through that without knowing you were there, even though you could never comfort me it still helped having you there. I remember losing you at the Quidditch World Cup, I have never been more scared than I was that night, and then you saved me when I got Disarmed by that Death Eater, I don't know what would have happened if you hadn't been there. I desperately wanted to ask you to the Yule Ball but Krum got there first, so I asked Angelina for George. Then Krum made you hurt, made you sad and so did Ron; that made me so angry, I just wanted to make them feel pain like I knew you were feeling, and I vowed from that day on I would not let anything hurt you ever again."
"Thank you for making the Yule Ball special for me Fred," said Hermione, blushing slightly.
"It was my pleasure," said Fred happily "anything to see you smile."
Hermione fulfilled Fred's inner wish without even realising it, by allowing a huge beam of a smile to grace her features, which in Fred's opinion lit up the whole room. As Fred watched Hermione smiling his heartbeat quickened exponentially, along with the butterflies in his stomach, and all he could think about was holding Hermione in his arms forever, making sure nothing ever hurt her and making sure he was the one to always put a smile on her face. Fred had always admired Hermione, always treated her like a girl when other people had not and had always been there for her the same as she had been for him. Apart from George, Hermione was the one constant in Fred's life and the one thing he was sure he could not live without. All of a sudden a realisation hit Fred with the force of a brick; he had a crush on Hermione, and as he thought about it, he believed he could possibly even be in love with her. Fred didn't know whether Hermione felt the same way as he had always seen her as 'off limits' before this year, as she was his brother's best friend, but as everything had changed so far this year, Fred had some hope that maybe Hermione did feel the same, he just had to find a way to discover if this was true.
"Fred, are you all right?" asked Hermione suddenly, jolting Fred out of his thoughts.
"Yeah I'm fine," said Fred suddenly feeling a bit dazed "what do you want to do tomorrow?"
"I don't know," said Hermione "I think you need a relaxing day after everything that's happened today."
"Going to nurse me back to health Granger?" asked Fred cheekily, winking.
"No I'm going to make sure you behave yourself," said Hermione smiling.
"You can try," said Fred "but you know me, I don't like to behave."
"Yes I've noticed," said Hermione sighing.
"I'll find some way to make up to you that I didn't take you to Hogsmeade today," said Fred smiling.
"You don't have to," said Hermione.
"I know," said Fred "but I want to. Now as for you, it is bedtime, and I shall see you in the morning for breakfast and then hopefully a surprise if I can come up with inspiration."
"I'll be glad to spend the day with you anyway Fred, even if you don't have a surprise," said Hermione smiling, as Fred walked her over to the stairs leading to the dormitories "you're brilliant."
"Thank you very much Miss Granger," said Fred smiling "you're fantastic too."
Fred and Hermione had now reached the bottom of the stairs to the dormitories and Fred simply pulled Hermione into him for another hug, not wanting to let her go now he had realised how he felt about her. Eventually and regretfully Fred did let Hermione go and after bidding each other goodnight they both went their separate ways to their individual dormitories.
Hermione entered her dormitory, which was shrouded in darkness and silence, and she instantly felt more alone than she had done in the past few days. She felt whole, complete with Fred and leaving him behind even for the night hurt her, but she didn't understand why. Sighing as she tried to understand these new feelings, she walked over to her bed and sat down before drawing the curtains with a flick of her wand.
"Hermione," a voice whispered suddenly from her bed.
"Ginny!" whispered Hermione, trying to recover from her shock and fear "what are you doing here? This isn't your dormitory."
"Ah details, details," said Ginny grinning "growing up with Fred and George you start to forget about simple details like that and just sort of go with what you want to happen. Now speaking of my twin brothers, I want the gossip about you and Fred."
"What gossip?" mumbled Hermione, although she was blushing as she waved her wand and a silencing spell fell over her bunk "there is none."
"Oh come on Hermione!" said Ginny exasperated "I've seen the way you two look at each other, you're crazy about each other, I can tell."
"We're just friends," Hermione denied, although she wasn't sure that was the full extent of their relationship herself.
"I think you like Fred as more than a friend," said Ginny.
"He's just a really good friend," Hermione persisted, feeling her resolve crumbling.
"It's OK to have a crush on him Hermione," said Ginny in a reassuring voice "I've seen the way you look at each other, I see the sparkle in your eyes when you're with him and I see how happy he makes you."
"He's amazing Ginny," said Hermione, her resolve breaking "he makes me happy, treats me like a girl which is a completely new experience for me, he looks after me and I just don't want to be without him. I think I might be falling for him. He's always been there in the background, always, he's fantastic, but he doesn't feel the same anyway."
"I know Fred, Hermione, and I've never seen him act like this around anyone," said Ginny smiling "he adores you, he dotes on you, he would do anything for you, anything to make you smile. He loves you Hermione and one of you needs to tell the other one soon because we all know you're going to end up together; George agrees with me."
"You really think he feels like that," said Hermione incredulously "about me?"
"I know he does," said Ginny "I know him better than everyone except George. You bring out a different side in him, a sensitive side, a protective one, he adores you."
"But what about Harry and Ron, they'll hate me," said Hermione sadly.
"Forget what they think Hermione," said Ginny "do you want to get to know Fred better and potentially one day be more than friends?"
"Yes," said Hermione, with more certainty than she had ever felt before.
"Then do it," said Ginny "get to know him, flirt with him, he'll flirt back, you know he will, and eventually when the time is right admit your feelings to him, if he doesn't get there first."
"I hope he does feel the same Ginny," said Hermione nervously "I don't want to end up hurt."
"He does," said Ginny "I'm sure of it, and even if he doesn't, you won't get hurt. Now I assume you're seeing him tomorrow so I'll leave you to get some beauty sleep, not that you need it."
"Thanks Gin," said Hermione as the younger girl reached the door of the dormitories "and thanks for the talk."
"Any time," said Ginny, before exiting the dormitory as Hermione climbed into bed, thinking of nothing but Fred.
Meanwhile in the boys' dormitories across the corridor Fred was lying in his bed, the curtains drawn, unable to sleep, thinking of nothing but Hermione. He didn't know what to do with these new feelings; they were completely unfamiliar to him, a girl had never made him feel like this before and it mystified him how Hermione had made him feel both when she was happy and sad. Fred decided that the only thing he could do to reason with these feeling was to talk to George.
"George?" whispered Fred, walking towards George's bed.
"What do you want Fred?" groaned a very tired sounding George.
"I need to talk to you," murmured Fred "you're the only one I know I can trust."
"OK," said George, opening the curtains and permitting Fred to sit on his bed, before putting a silencing spell over the area "what's wrong?"
"It's Hermione," said Fred, blushing slightly "George I think I'm falling for her."
"So you've finally realised then?" said George smiling, all signs of tiredness forgotten.
"She's amazing," continued Fred, his eyes glazing over "she just understands me on a level that only you do, she looks after me, she brings out the best in me I think. I genuinely just want to look after her, protect her, make sure nothing hurts her; but then she's so beautiful, I just want to take her in my arms and kiss her forever, I just don't want to let her go. All I could think of today was you and her, making sure I got back to you both, I was so glad to see both of you when I woke up, I knew I'd be OK but still, I was worried."
"I know how you feel about her Fred," said George "I'm your twin, I've seen the way you act around her, and you're right she does bring out the best in you, the same as you bring out the best in her; you make her happy, make her feel safe while she brings out your sensitive side which people don't really see."
"Do you think she feels the same?" said Fred eagerly.
"Me and Ginny think she does," said George "to an outsider seeing you two together it's just like seeing a boyfriend and girlfriend, I'm sure she feels the same Fred."
"I just want to be with her," said Fred, with a sad twinge to his voice "but I know Ron likes her too and I think she might be off limits."
"A couple of years ago I would have said yes she is off limits, she likes Ron," said George in a contemplative voice "but after last year when Hermione looked for you at the Quidditch World Cup, after the Yule Ball, after Hermione came to you and not Ron when Cedric died and after the other night with Umbridge's detention, I'd say go for it mate, I am almost positive she feels the same way and if she doesn't I don't think either one of you will get hurt, your friendship is stronger than that."
"So you think I should take the leap?" said Fred.
"You're a Weasley Twin, Freddie," said George grinning "take the leap, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain, but do it when the time is right, don't rush into it, Hermione is a woman that hasn't been treated like a girl for a while, treat her well, make her happy, make her smile."
"That's all I want," said Fred smiling "I want to be the one to put a smile on her face every single day, I want to wipe away her tears and protect her from everything that could hurt her. I want to make it up to her as well, I didn't take her to Hogsmeade today like I promised and I want to find a way of getting her there tomorrow."
"We could do that," mused George "the Room of Requirement; make it into a replica of Hogsmeade by thinking about it."
"Of course!" exclaimed Fred happily "I just want to make it special for her, you know? I'd love to make it so she can actually buy things from the shops."
"We can do that as well," said George grinning "or have we not just invented Getaway Portals, I'm sure they can link to shops in Hogsmeade."
"That's brilliant!" said Fred grinning identically to George "could we use the Weather in a Bottle to make it snowy; Hermione loves the snow."
"Sure we could," said George smiling at his brother's happiness "we could get the elves to make food for you."
"I'd prefer to do that myself," said Fred "elf rights are so important to Hermione I think she'd like the gesture."
"Well we'll get started after breakfast, I'll get Ginny to take Hermione to the Library to study so we have time to prepare then I'll go and get her, make sure she's dressed for winter and bring her to you."
"That sounds fantastic," said Fred "thanks Georgie."
"Just make her happy," said George "she deserves it."
"I will," said Fred, smiling "we should get to bed if we've got a busy day tomorrow."
"We should," said George, as Fred retreated to his own bed "night."
"Night," echoed Fred, laying down in his own bed and drawing the curtains, just as George did the same.
Both Fred and Hermione lay in their respective bunks that night, unable to sleep, musing over their newfound feelings for each other; something which both mystified and thrilled both of them at the same time. Soon enough they both drifted off into a sleep filled with dreams of each other, both looking forward to what the next day would bring.
So what did you think? Let me know, I'm looking forward to writing the next chapter for you, there will be lots of FredxHermione moments, although they're not going to confess their feelings just yet.
See you soon :)