The previous quick flashes of small moments between Fred and Hermione were so dizzying with emotion and image that George was left feeling slightly nauseous when his vision finally settled in a brightly lit dining room. George focused his eyes and took in the scene before him.
Hermione was seated at a small table with, who George assumed to be, her parents. The older woman was nearly identical to Hermione in size and stature. The two shared the same curly brunette hair and nose. The man at the table quite clearly shared the same eyes as his daughter. There was an odd amount of tension in the room, George noticed. All three Grangers seemed frozen in place.
“So you’re saying,” Mr. Granger began, “that a student, not much older than yourself, was killed by this Voldemort bloke?” Hermione left her food untouched and nodded jerkily.
“And now you’re likely to be in more danger because we’re not… magical?” he continued. Hermione nodded again, but as she opened her mouth to speak, her father cut her off.
“There is no way you are returning to that school then!” Mr. Granger said sternly, digging quite determinedly into his chicken.
“Hugh, don’t be ridiculous,” Mrs. Granger whispered. “She loves that school…” Mr. Granger met her gaze stiffly.
“If she’s in danger she’s far safer with us, without magic,” he said with finality. “We’ll just have you return to your old school in the fall and that is that.” Hermione slammed her hand down on the table and stood. It was clear this argument had been going on for quite a while.
“Dad I will be going back to Hogwarts whether you like it or not,” she snapped. Mrs. Granger’s shocked face said just how unlike Hermione this was. “Mum is right, I love that school. My friends are there, my future is there. I am needed there. I’m a bloody good witch and I refuse to throw all that away because I might be a little scared.” This clearly caused Mr. Granger to snap.
“THAT’S IT!” he shouted, slamming his napkin to the table. “Go to your room Hermione. You’re grounded for the rest of the summer. No visiting or writing your friends. And you will absolutely not be going back to Hogwarts!” Hermione glared at him.
“I’ll be going then,” she said simply. Giving up that easily? George thought. As she made her way from the room, she hugged her mother, glared at her father once more, and bounded up the stairs. George had to break into a run to follow her. Hermione slammed the door behind her, but George easily walked right through it.
Hermione was moving about the small tidy room rather quickly, messily tearing open her drawers and tossing her clothes inside her kicked open trunk. Once her drawers were bare, she turned back to her now cluttered trunk with a heavy sigh, pushing her curls from her face. She snatched her wand from her dresser and flicked it at the mess before her, smiling slightly as her clothes neatly folded and tucked themselves into her trunk.
Hermione moved on to her bookshelves and pulled volume after volume of old school books, reference guides, and literature from the wall and stacked them neatly atop her clothes. She looked about the room one final time before slamming her trunk’s lid shut and snatching her coat. With a flick of her wand, her door swung open and her trunk began floating out into the corridor. When she reached the foyer, she caught the gaze of her father.
“Hermione,” he said in a slightly more concerned voice than before. “Where are you going?” Hermione stared him down determinedly, wrenching the front door open without letting her trunk drop.
“As I said before,” Hermione said evenly. “I’ll be going then.” George chuckled to himself. Oh the ambiguity. And out the door she went. George followed as Hermione approached the street’s edge, let her trunk lightly land on the ground, and thrust out her wand hand.
A large purple double-decker bus screeched into sight and shrieked to a halt directly in front of her. She stepped on hurriedly, dropping a small handful of coins into the conductor, Stan Shunpike’s hand.
“The Burrow please,” she said quickly, pulling her trunk behind her and sitting in one of the many oddly assorted armchairs near the back of the bus.
“Alrigh’ miss, it’ll be quite a while though, we’ve got several stops through the Eastern European side mind you!”
The bus shot forward unexpectedly, causing several chairs to topple over. Hermione gripped onto the armrests of her chair tightly, with fear or regret over running from her parents, George couldn’t tell.
George’s vision of the scene shifted quite dramatically, as it was suddenly much darker outside and Hermione was half-asleep in her chair. The bus screeched to a halt.
“The Burrow,” the driver announced. Hermione hurried off the large violet vehicle and onto the dirt road leading to the tall crooked house visible in the distance. It wasn’t until the bus disappeared that Hermione suddenly felt unnerved by the eerie silence. The tiniest snap of a twig sounded, prompting Hermione to whip out her wand. Instantly, two figures appeared, a man and woman.
“Identify yourself!” a gruff voice demanded. Hermione’s gaze whipped back and forth between the two, their faces unidentifiable in the dark.
“Identify yourself!” Hermione retorted, her voice shaking only slightly. There was silence… until the two shot silent hexes her way simultaneously. She blocked them just as quickly and silently. Then, thinking of nothing else more logical to do, she ran, as fast as she could, towards the house.
“Not so fast lassie!” Hermione spun back around to send out a hex but received one instead, getting blown off her feet, her wand flying several feet away from her. Before she even had a chance to comprehend her misfortune, she was yanked from the ground, a firm grip on each of her arms. She was dragged along with the two mysterious people, her entire upper body frozen from a binding jinx.
They rushed her to the door and knocked loudly at it. The door swung open to reveal a confused looking Mr. Weasley. He took one look between the three of them and gaped.
“Alastor, Tonks, what is the meaning of this?” he scolded. “And why do you have Hermione Granger binded?” Alastor Moody and Nymphadora Tonks glanced at eachother uncomfortably.
“Arthur, we thought perhaps she was an imposter,” Moody grumbled. “Would the girl you know fail to identify herself and run for your house?” Mr. Weasley hesitated for a good moment.
“Bring her in then,” he said stiffly, widening the doorway. The trio shuffled into the tiny living room. Hermione was sat on the couch, still frozen, though her eyes darted around the room. Moody’s shifty magical eye stayed focused on her, while his other looked to Mr. Weasley.
“Did you lot establish any identifier questions?” he asked Mr. Weasley. George noted how incredibly conflicted his father looked, watching his son’s best friend with the slightest bit of suspicion.
“I wouldn’t know what to ask her,” Mr. Weasley said with some shame.
And as though saved by the bell, a moment later, a pajama-clad Fred dragged his feet out into the living room with a bowl of cereal in hand.
“Oi, unbind her will you?” he said with a pause, just before scooping a spoonful of cereal into his mouth. The other three whipped their heads in his direction. Fred, meanwhile, looked at them as though they’d gone a bit loony. “Are you mental? Atleast unbind her mouth, I’m sure I can find something that’ll prove it’s her.” Moody grumbled something under his breath and flicked his wand, unclenching Hermione’s entire upper body. She glared daggers at her two captors, crossed her arms, and didn’t speak.
“Now Hermione,” Fred began very seriously, in an incredibly humorous way, pacing the room with a bowl of cereal in his pajamas. “If that is your real name, tell me, what were you doing coming to the Burrow at such a late hour with no notice, just a week after the end of term?” Hermione chuckled lightly at the absurdity of the situation before sighing deeply.
“I told my parents what happened at the Third Task, and they told me they weren’t going to let me go back to Hogwarts,” she said quickly. “They’ve just been fighting me over it for days now, and I had enough of it so I packed my stuff and left.” She finally met Fred’s gaze, through which they seemed to have a silent conversation.
“I just… I didn’t know where else to go,” Hermione said with a final defeated tone. Fred bit his lip in concern. Both seemed quite unaware of the other three in the room. Moody opened his mouth to presumably argue but Fred held up a hand to silence him.
“One question,” Fred began, his lips twitching just slightly. “What does Draco Malfoy think of himself?” Moody and Mr. Weasley’s heads whipped in his direction at the name “Malfoy.” Hermione snapped out of her frozen expression and laughed suddenly.
“That was you!” she chuckled out. “I should’ve known… He is a slimey git.” Fred smiled widely and clapped his hands together.
“That would be the real Hermione Granger ladies and gentlemen so now that the show’s over how about we all take a breather and head to bed eh?” Fred said in a remarkably jolly tone. Hermione looked to her two captors once more and shrugged them off. Tonks looked horribly guilty and gently reached out to stop Hermione from standing.
“Wotcher Hermione,” she said quietly. “I’m so sorry about that… If we had known… Anywho, I’m Tonks, I’m an Auror with ol’ Mad Eye over here.” Hermione smiled slightly at her and stood.
“I really should go get my trunk then,” Hermione said quickly. “Mr. Weasley I’m so sorry for all the trouble.” Mr. Weasley ran a hand over his face.
“No Hermione we shouldn’t have jumped to such measures,” Mr. Weasley said apologetically. “Tonks bring Hermione’s trunk back up to the house will you please?” Tonks nodded, dragging Moody off the couch and out the door. Hermione remained by the couch, looking down at her hands.
“Thank you Mr. Weasley,” Hermione whispered with a small smile. Fred moved across the room easily and drew a casual arm around her.
“Don’t worry about her dad I’ll just get her a spot of food and set her up in Ginny’s room,” Fred said easily. “You’ve got an early day tomorrow anyways.” Mr. Weasley nodded and bade them both goodnight before heading up the stairs. Fred steered Hermione into the kitchen and sat her down at a stool by the breakfast bar.
“You alright?” he asked tentatively, taking a seat beside her. Hermione nodded slowly, looking to him.
“Really didn’t need that last bit to finish off the evening though…” she said with a slight smile. “To think what Harry and Ron would say… me being a suspected Death Eater.” She chuckled lightly. “It’s laughable.”
“Well, you can be quite scary…” Fred said in feign fear. Hermione laughed and elbowed him. “You hungry?” Hermione nodded and giggled as Fred jumped from his seat and danced around the kitchen before her.
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