Chapter 3 : Whispers and Sunrises
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Hermione sighed and closed her trunk, looking over her things for the last time. She smiled, satisfied, before heading downstairs where she bid her parents goodbye and then went outside. She had two minutes to spare, and so she ran a last minute checklist in her head. Arthur Weasley finally appeared, coming out from beside her house, and she greeted him with a smile before going over to him.
She disliked side-along apparition, though she understood the simplicity in it. It was far easier than finding a fireplace connected with the Floo nearby, and it didn’t cost like the Night Bus did. When they arrived on the edge of the swamp, she smiled and released Arthur’s arm, excitement trilling through her. They both laughed, however, when an explosion of fireworks rocketed out one of the windows and Molly’s screaming voice suddenly echoed through the open doorway.
“I’m always telling them she’s going to blow them out of the window next,” Arthur laughed, “Harry and Ron aren’t home right now; they went exploring over the hill and should be back in a few hours, but I’m sure you need time to get settled in with Ginny and get reacquainted.” She had other things on her mind, but she nodded nonetheless.
It turned out, after trudging up many flights of winding stairs, that Ginny was busy in the garden, where her mother had been before she’d stormed up to yell at the twins, and so she unpacked in silence until there was a knock on the door, and she turned, beaming.
“I was wondering when I’d finally see you,” she said, going over to him and touching his cheek; it was a little black from soot, and her thumb came away spotted with it. “You’re going to end up burning your hair off one day,” she teased, her hand resting on his shoulder.
“And you’ll be there to say you told me so,” he chided before bending and lifting her off the ground. She let out a little noise of surprise, but held onto him nonetheless, happy to be with him again.
He breathed her in, even when he set her back down and had to stoop a little because of their adorable height difference. When they finally parted, he snatched up one of her hands, playing with her fingers a little while she blushed. Fred couldn’t help but find her amazingly cute.
“So, uhm,” he cleared his throat, and Hermione stepped back a little, “What are you up to?”
“Just unpacking. Wanna keep me company until Ginny or the boys return?”
“Oh, I’m just second best?” he mocked hurt, but she just shoved him lightly in the chest before going back over to her trunk and continuing to unload her clothes into her half of the dresser that Ginny had cleared out.
“I like this,” he commented, lifting her small purse, “Charmed it, did you? Not doing underage magic, I hope.”
“I did it before I left, thank you very much,” she informed as he sat on her makeshift bed, “Just a simple shrinking charm or something.”
“Or something,” he chuckled, “Why, Hermione, who knew you were so clever?”
“Goodness, Frederick.” They both laughed, which dissolved into happy smiles. They continued to chat, about their summers so far, about the classes they’d hopefully be taken in the fall, about the Cup coming up, about Hermione’s obscenely large stack of books, and about Fred and George’s new prototypes. Eventually, Fred even reclined back in the bed, soaking in the sun dancing in through the window and Hermione leaned against the walls with his legs draped over her lap, pieces of string taped to his jeans while she braided bracelets. It was a hobby she’d picked up rather recently, but she liked the simplicity of it and the absentmindedness of the actions.
“I want one of those,” he commented halfway through, and she nodded at a bag of yarn on the floor next to her bed, lying atop a few of her books. He picked it up and sorted through the colors while they continued to talk, only pausing when they heard Ginny’s voice float up the stairs.
“Is Hermione here yet?”
“She arrived a few hours ago!” Arthur called back, and Fred just smiled before straightening into a sitting position. They often separated like this around their friends, not wanting to set off any alarms or red flags, and it didn’t bother them too much.
“Oh, Fred!” Ginny exclaimed when she entered her room, “What are you doing in here?”
“Demanding ‘Mione make me something manly,” he said, setting four colors in her lap: green, white, red, and black. “Cup colors,” he said before putting her colors away and getting off the bed, “George will be looking for me by now. I’m gonna head back. See you girls later,” he finished with a wave. When he retreated, Ginny raised an eyebrow, but Hermione just shrugged.
“He’s nice to talk to. He doesn’t get all hot and bothered like your other brother.” Ginny laughed. And when she left to shower, Hermione sighed, smiling. She definitely felt giddy.
It was only five in the morning when Fred woke himself up, and if it hadn’t been for his plan, he would have gone straight back to sleep. But, as it was, he roused himself and just managed to tame his hair and brush his teeth before he headed to the girls’ room, still dressed in his white t-shirt and plaid pajama bottoms. He crept inside, careful not to let the door creak, and he tiptoed over to Hermione’s bed, shaking her shoulder lightly and then jumping back in case she hit him. She didn’t, thankfully, though she did let out a soft noise of surprise when she opened her eyes and noticed him.
“What are you doing here?” she asked groggily, rubbing her eyes.
“I wanted to show you something, but it can’t wait until later,” he whispered, nodding toward the door.
“What is it? What time is it?” she finished, confused and looking around for her clock.
“Just past five. C’mon, just trust me, okay?”
She sighed, but she relented, grumbling to him and pushing him away as she made a beeline from the bathroom. When she erupted, her bushy hair was softer and less wildly curled, her breath was minty, and she looked a little more awake. Fred almost blushed at her skimpy nightwear of shorts and a t-shirt, but he caught himself and mentally slapped himself for staring at her legs. He would not think of almost-fourteen-year-old Hermione Granger in that way.
They padded out in their bare feet into the chilly nearly morning air, and Hermione shivered, crossing her arms. Fred smiled and wrapped his arms around her, bringing her close to him. They walked in silence like this, and they only stopped when they’d reached the hill in the Weasley’s backyard. Here, Fred sat them down in the dewy grass, and Hermione leaned her head on his shoulder and yawned. He kept his arms around her, occasionally rubbing her arms to keep her warm, though she gasped when she realized. The sun slowly came up on the horizon, painting the sky in beautiful pinks, purples, and oranges.
“It’s beautiful,” she gasped, straightening.
They watched the sun rise steadily, and they shared this moment in joy and quiet.
Hermione sighed, rubbing her arms. She’d been awake for the last hour or so, watching the thunderstorm pass by. She hated lightning more than anything, though she loved the calm of rain and a constant rumble. It was just the flash and crack that made her heart jump and awoke her entire body. She just couldn’t sleep when it stormed.
Finally, there seemed to be a lull, and she gathered herself up, taking her comforter with her from her makeshift bed and looping it around her neck like a cape. She padded downstairs in her shorts and loose white v-neck, hair messy and mouth open wide in a yawn. She managed to make it downstairs before another crack made her jump and she let out a noise of surprise before whimpering slightly and sprinting into the living room where she lit a fire and curled up on the couch. She could almost block out the sights and sounds with the crackling of the fire; plus, she’d tucked a book under her arm, and the familiar crinkle of pages and smell of ink helped.
A stair creaked suddenly, and her eyes widened, her gaze lifting to the curving stairs just beyond her sight. And then, a familiar flame of red hair bobbed into view, and Fred almost went right past her when he stopped at the kitchen doorway and turned to stare at the fire.
“Hey,” she whispered, and he hit his head on the frame when he jumped and turned.
“For Christ’s sake, Hermione,” he sighed, clutching his chest, “Don’t just sneak up on me, alright? What are you doing down here anyway?”
“I don’t like lightning,” she admitted rather shyly.
Fred smiled before going over and shocking her by kissing her on the forehead. “I know how to fix that,” he said with a wink before disappearing into the kitchen. When he returned, Hermione laughed; he was carrying a plate of cookies and a glass of milk.
They sat together, Fred asking questions about her book, Hermione stealing his milk, and, despite her mind shouting at her not to, she smiled as Fred placed an arm around her shoulders and hugged her to him. And that was how they slowly drifted off, Hermione in his arms and Fred loving every second and every touch.
Fred awoke first, startling himself from his slumber with a rather loud snort, and he blinked, reaching up a hand to rub his eyes. The other was trapped beneath Hermione, and he smiled. He couldn’t help but push a stubborn curl out of her eye, and she seemed to sigh and relax into him more now that it wasn’t bothering her sleep. He felt entirely at ease, but he couldn’t be sure whether that was a good or bad thing.
And so he let himself doze off again since it was only early, holding Hermione just a little tighter and smiling. It was he who woke again, though this time it was because of the sounds of the house waking up. Molly was in the kitchen, so she must be readying breakfast, and Fred yawned, stretching a little before giving Hermione a soft shake. She emitted an adorable noise and snuggled closer to him. Somewhere in the night, they’d reclined to lying down, and she was curled up against him, her back to the couch while he dangled precariously on the edge.
“Fred, dear, your brother will be up soon. Ronald,” Molly added, and he caught the stern look. They all knew Ron fancied Hermione, even if he would never admit it. And Molly knew that Fred fancied Hermione, even if he would never, ever say a word about it. “And don’t forget the Cup is today! You’ll need to get dressed!” she called from the kitchen as Fred gave Hermione’s shoulder another small shake.
“Hermione,” he whispered, and she smiled.
“Stop shaking me,” she retorted, squeezing him, “I’m awake. I was just enjoying your presence.”
“Oh, was that it now?”
And Hermione just laughed before pushing away from him and heading off toward the stairs. She turned, smiled, and blew him a kiss before disappearing, and all Fred could do was sigh.
They missed each other at breakfast, as he left to change five minutes before she came down to eat. And when they were waiting outside for Ginny and Hermione because they were girls and took forever, Ron actually touched Fred’s elbow and asked him to talk, man-to-man, no George, no Harry.
“Look, I don’t really know what’s going on, and maybe you’re just friends, but—”
“Save it, Ron,” Fred cut him off, sighing, “It’s just Hermione, okay? I know you like her, so chill out. I’m not trying to snatch her from you. We just happen to be really good friends. I like talking to her, and she as well. It’s a good release, a nice reprieve from you and Harry and from George. Alright?”
Ron looked unconvinced, but he nodded anyway. Fred almost proved everything he’d said a lie when Hermione and Ginny finally appeared, Ginny was in this yellow and white striped flowing t-shirt over jeans while Hermione was wearing this adorable blue and white pattern that looked like tons of little waves over jeans, as well. Fred stared at her a moment too long, and Ron just glared at him.
Disclaimer: Everything recognizable belongs to J.K. Rowling.
Also, I am currently piecing together a compilation of oneshots centering around the lives of the Black sisters, and I am immensely excited about it.
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