“I just don’t know what to wear,” Hermione complained, flopping down on Ginny’s bed.
“What’s the big deal? It’s just Hogsmeade. You’ve been a million times. I’m excited to go. This is the first time I’ll be able to go officially.” Hermione smiled at the memory of the twins and Ginny wandering around Hogsmeade on countless trips last year when she really ought to be back at the castle. How they continued to manage it baffled the trio.
“You must be happy to be hanging out with Harry,” Hermione tried to change the subject.
“It’s not a date, Hermione. You and Ron will be there, as well. He just happened to invite me along.”
“I think he likes you, but you’re always so scattered around him.”
“He makes me nervous!” Ginny squeaked before turning to her friend, “Will you braid my hair? You’re so nifty at it.” Afterward, Ginny changed into a cute little top over jeans, just a white flowing material with blue and pink flowers. She pulled a peacoat on over that to cover her shoulders and keep her warm before Hermione finally retreated upstairs to her room to dress. She didn’t want it to be obvious that she had made plans for this trip, but she didn’t want to look shabby for her plans, either.
And so she settled for a peach-colored, strapless top that fell in layers, both horizontal and vertical, over light jeans and with a black jacket that she buttoned up before grabbing her pink purple scarf, tossing her curls tumbling down her back, and heading down into the common room to wait for the boys. They appeared before long, and the group of four headed down to the carriages where they met Neville. Together, the five of them travelled into Hogsmeade, chattering and happy. Hermione had brought a jar along with her that she kept one of her blue flames in, and she let it sit on the floor so that it would warm the entire carriage.
When they finally arrived, they made a beeline for the Three Broomsticks so they could grab lunch and a warm drink. They were just settling into their Butterbeers when the door chimed open, and Draco Malfoy sauntered in, flanked by Crabbe and Goyle.
“Oh, great,” Ron groaned, nodding over in his direction. The others took note, though they tried mostly to stay out of his line of vision. However, as was to be expected, he caught sight of them, smirked, and made his way over, arching an eyebrow and sneering at them.
“Lovely group you seem to be keeping here,” he said as he stopped at their table, “See you’ve brought your girlfriend along, Potter,” he added with a nod to Ginny, who blushed profusely and tried to hide her face.
“Shove off, Malfoy,” Hermione snapped as the door chimed again, and, out of pure curiosity, she looked, heart skipping a beat.
“Excuse me, Mudblood, but I don’t think I was talking to you. Vermin,” he spat, and then his face hit the table. Ginny let out a little shriek the same time that Harry jumped up from the glass that tipped over and Ron howled with laughter. Hermione’s eyes were wide as Malfoy screeched and struggled under the hand that was resting over the back of his neck.
“I’d be very careful how you talk to our friends, Malfoy,” Fred hissed in his ear, bending close so that he made himself heard.
“Oh, that includes you two buffoons,” George added, waving dismissively at Crabbe and Goyle, “I’d watch what you shove into your faces in the next few days. We don’t forget things like this.”
Fred suddenly let Malfoy up, who was still screaming and holding his nose where it had broken, blood pouring down onto his clothes. Madame Rosmerta finally seemed to have made her way over, for she broke through the watching crowd, appalled.
“Mister Weasley! Both of you!” she exclaimed, “Threatening one of my patrons and—Mister Malfoy,” she finished a little coldly, “And what did you do to deserve this?”
“Called Hermione a Mudblood and threatened Ginny,” Fred lied, crossing his arms.
Malfoy tried to say something, but Rosmerta was suddenly livid, going at him with her hand towel and swatting him all the way to the door, shouting at him the whole way, “Even your father had better manners than this! Calling my customers’ names, and vile ones at that! You’re pitiful, Draco Malfoy! Don’t you dare ever set foot in my pub again!” When she returned from screaming at him down the alley, there was a thunderous round of applause, and Hermione broke out into a smile, jumping to her feet and hugging Fred.
“No one has ever stood up for me like that before,” she whispered, holding onto him tightly, “Thank you.”
“Anything for my ‘Mione. So gang,” Fred continued when she’d released him and they all sat back down, “What’s on the schedule for today?”
Fred pointed to his brother as he bent to look at something, and Lee went off in George’s direction to help him struggle to get a box down. They were in Zonko’s splurging and getting ready for the year, though he was supposed to be meeting Hermione in a few minutes.
“Nearly ready?” he called, already heading toward the cashier. He set down his armful, which George and Lee happily added to, and, soon, they were splitting the price among the twins since Lee was only helping carrying and not actually getting anything, and then they waited while their things were put in a charmed bag that was light as a feather and small enough to fit in George’s pocket.
“I’ll see you at the carriages later on. If you see Ronald, kick him in the shins,” Fred said before heading off in the direction of the Shrieking Shack, scuffing his shoes in the snow and making little puffs of white cloud around his feet. He took a few turns into the sparse trees, smiling when he lifted his gaze finally and Hermione was already there, curled around a book.
“Just get that?” he asked, going to sit next to her as she smiled. He plucked it out of her hands and turned to the cover, keeping his thumb on her page as the book shut. “Das Buch der Bilde,” he read, completely butchering it, and Hermione just laughed before taking it back.
“It’s German, but there’s an English translation with it. Still, my dad knows German, and he likes to read me Rilke’s poetry in its original language. It always sounds so much different. Rainer Maria Rilke is a Muggle poet.”
“Okay,” Fred said slowly, “So what does Das Buch der Bilde mean?” he laughed, butchering it again.
“The Book of Images. Do you mind if I… if I read one to you? I find him fascinating.”
“Yea, go ahead. I’m not much of a literate person, though, so,” Fred finished, shrugging.
“You mean you’re not interested in literature. You’re literate, Fred.” He shrugged again, and so Hermione opened up to a dog-eared page and cleared her throat. “Entrance,” she read, smiled up at him, and then began,
“Whoever you are: in the evening step
out of your room, where you know everything;
yours is the last house before the distant:
whoever you are.
With your eyes, which wearily
just free themselves of the worn-out threshold,
very slowly you raise one black tree
and set it against the sky: slender, alone.
And you’ve made the world. And it’s immense
and like a word ripening in silence.
And as your will reaches for its meaning,
tenderly your eyes let it go…
I’m not really big on poetry,” she admitted, “It’s nonsensical to me, mostly, but my dad likes it, and he always used to read it to me, so I’ve grown fond of Rilke, at least.”
“It sounds pretty,” Fred said, nodding, “As I said, though, I’m not literate.” Hermione just laughed, beaming up at him. This was right.
They’d reached the edge of the trees, and Hermione pulled them to a stop, sighing. “Why Frederick,” she began, and he smiled, “I never knew you were such a conversationalist. I had such a lovely afternoon with you.”
“It’s not over, love,” he said with a wink, “Meet me tonight at the top of the Astronomy Tower at midnight?”
“But that’s past curfew!” Hermione exclaimed, frowning, and Fred just laughed.
“Midnight,” he repeated before bending to kiss her, rendering her immobile and silent, which allowed him to escape without her shouting.
Hermione decided to remain in the outfit she’d worn earlier that day as she crept out of the Gryffindor Tower, Harry’s invisibility cloak tucked under her arm. She still couldn’t believe she’d managed to convince him to let her borrow it, especially under his word that he wouldn’t tell Ron she was sneaking off into the night. She had a feeling he knew something was up, though, something that he shouldn’t mention until she did.
The first challenge she came upon was that the door that led to the winding stairs was locked. She frowned and was about to take out her wand when Fred’s voice floated out from the other side, “What’s the password?” he sang. She rolled her eyes; typical.
Nonetheless, she wracked her brains until smiling and whispering, “Wheezes.” The twins had finally mastered the plans for their joke shop, and this was what they had nicknamed it for conversation between the two of them, Lee, and sometimes her. The door opened instantly, and Fred laughed from the other side.
“Apparently, I’m too readable,” he sighed, snatching the cloak off of her, and she was about to question him when he closed the door and shrugged, “Harry tried to escape our notice a few times last year, but we’re too clever, Georgie and I.” Hermione just smiled before following him up the stairs, taking his hand as they went. He laced their fingers, and she blushed.
The sight that awaited her at the top of the stairs was one of beauty. Twinkling lights wrapped around the railing, and a soft, inviting pile of blankets were spread out. Little jars were scattered around, and she gasped as she realized they were for her blue flames. It was just simple, just something he had noticed, but it meant that he had noticed.
She set about casting the fire from her wand as Fred sat on the blankets, his back pressed against the tower. Hermione soon joined him, laughing softly as he retrieved a bag of sweets from his side. “I guessed on what you might like,” he said, tipping the bag upside down so everything went scattering over their laps.
There were Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, cauldron cakes, chocolate frogs, crystallized pineapple, exploding bonbons, Fizzing Whizzbees, fudge flies, liquorices wands, peppermint toads, pixie puffs, sugared butterfly wings, and treacle fudge. Hermione could barely believe all the yummy-looking things before her, though she laughed when Fred snatched up a jelly bean and popped it into his mouth without looking first. His face contorted and he stuck out his tongue. “Always a bad idea,” he grumbled before reaching for another one.
They spent the rest of their night cuddled together, watching the beautiful night sky until Hermione suddenly straightened and yawned. “We should get back,” she mumbled, giving Fred a nudge, “It’s late, and we don’t want to get in trouble.”
“Mm, no,” Fred said, pulling Hermione down until they were lying, facing one another.
“I put a charm up so no one will see us if they come to check.” Hermione lay there for a moment, unsure, until she saw the smile gracing Fred’s eyes, and she gave in, nodding and snuggling closer to him. He held her in his arms, and Hermione couldn’t believe how right and wonderful this felt.
Disclaimer: Everything recognizable belongs to J.K. Rowling.
Rilke owns my poetic heart (right after John Keats).