“She hasn’t spoken to any of us in two weeks now! I’ve sent letters, I’ve rung the door, there’s never any reply! I’m concerned about her- Oh Ronald what were you thinking!” Mrs Weasley nattered on.
Ron didn’t reply, he just sat in an armchair staring into the fire.
“Oh you’re useless!” She bellowed
“Fred dear, how would you feel about going round to check on her? You two used to be so close.”
Ron raised his head at this final comment. He turned slowly from his chair to look at Fred.
Fred shifted his weight from foot to foot.
“I don’t know mum, it seems... inappropriate. It’s really not my place to intervene, I’m sure she will talk when she’s ready.”
“Nonsense Fred! You will go and see her tomorrow.” Replied Mrs Weasley.
George cast a warning glance in his direction. Ron stood up and slowly walked over to Fred.
“Mum is right, you and Hermione were very close. It was round about then that she started to act strange... Maybe you can help enlighten us on why Fred.”
Fred looked at him, his face blank.
“I really have no idea; it was nothing she ever discussed with me or George.”
“You Bastard! What did you do to her?” Ron yelled as he tackled him to the floor.
He held his arm back and punched Fred in the mouth with all his strength, repeatedly hitting at his face. Fred tried to push him off, hitting back but eventually Ron had to be restrained by George as Mrs Weasley screamed and wept. Ron’s face was so filled with fury he had turned purple.
“I’ll kill you! I’ll fucking kill you!” He bellowed as Mrs Weasley ran to Fred’s aid.
“Oh my, what has he done to you? This is going to hurt a little.” She cooed as she bathed Fred’s face with a hot cloth.
Fred winced. “He’s crazy, totally crazy!”
“Now Fred, I have to ask... Did you...”
“No! I never touched her!” He growled.
He grabbed the cloth and tore away from her arms. She watched him slam the door as she kneeled where he had fallen moments ago.
Hermione wandered through Diagon Alley slowly. She needed to pick up some more parchment from Flourish and Blotts but had been delaying the trip. She was about to go into the small shop with a flash of orange hair caught eye. She turned and gasped. It was definitely Fred but he was so swollen and bruised she was certain she wouldn’t have known if it weren’t for the fact she had seen his face so many times it was burned onto her memory. She stood glued to the spot torn between whether to go to him or carry on. After all he had told her what she had meant to him. Nothing, worthless. As if he could hear her thoughts Fred stopped and looked to the opposite side of the street where she stood as motionless as him. She began to walk over but before she’d even taken one step he shook his head slightly and gestured to the rest of his family who were a shop behind him. Alarmed that he had even acknowledged her, she nodded and carried on into the small shop.
Seeing Fred earlier that day had plagued Hermione’s thoughts as she sat in the empty house becoming more and more aware of the surrounding silence. There was a quiet knock on the door. Startled, she jumped. She had assumed everyone had got the message that she wanted to be alone and had left her to it by now. She opened the door, ready to recite this message and there stood the bludgeoned Fred. Up close it looked so much worse than it had from across the street. One of his eyes was closed from swelling and had turned a deep indigo. His lip had a jagged inflamed gash that tore halfway down his chin.
“Who did this to you?” In her heart she already knew.
“I stand accused of my crime. I’m still denying it- don’t worry. I’m here because my mother sent me to check you were still alive.”
He was still attempting to sound distant from her.
“Would you like to come in?”
She gestured to the house, unsure of how he would react.
“Thank you. That’s... Kind of you.” He replied in a military style.
She followed him through to where he had sat in an armchair. “Can I get you anything?”
“No, I’m fine.”
She walked over to him slowly. “Fred this looks terrible!” She said caressing the bruises as light as if her fingers were feathers. He closed his eyes, intoxicated by her touch.
“Please. Stop. I didn’t come here for sympathy, I’m here for you. I mean I’m here to let my mother know you’re ok.”
He looked around uncomfortably.
“I’m sorry for a moment there I forgot you didn’t care about me, well you can see I’m fine so just go!”
He rose from his chair.
“Get out!” She shrieked.
He marched to the door but just before leaving he stopped. He rushed back into the living room to where she stood and picked her up. He held her face in his hands and kissed every inch of it.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry! Who was I kidding? As if I could keep up this charade forever. I don’t want you Hermione, I need you! I would suffer this every day to be with you!”
He gestured to his face.
“Charade? What are you talking about Fred? Stop this, stop playing with my mind, with my heart! There’s only so many times I’ll let you break it!”
He wiped her tears and kissed her forehead.
“I will never hurt you again. I promise. I love you Hermione, I always will.”
He held her in his arms on the sofa until eventually her tears ceased and she fell asleep.
When Hermione woke up she was confused and disorientated. She turned over to see Fred sleeping beside her, his face still looking worse than ever. He opened his eyes as she was staring at his wounds.
“I can’t believe he did this to you. Can you imagine what he’d do if he found out for certain?” She winced at the thought of it.
“I don’t care; I’m tired of living a lie! We have nothing to be ashamed of, no reason to hide anymore.”
“Do you think so? Oh Fred don’t! The thought that I could actually be with you all the time seems far too much to ask. I doubt I’ve done anything to deserve that.”