Chapter 8 : Atmospheric Tendencies
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Fred watched the door close, his heart thudding in his chest. His vision cleared; he wasn’t seeing red anymore. Even though it had only happened seconds ago, he couldn’t remember anything. He felt like he couldn’t breathe, and he blinked, frowning. Something was wrong.
When he opened his eyes again, he was staring at the blurry faces of his brother and Lee Jordan, and the ceiling was above them. He tried to move, but his world swam, and he groaned, dropping his head back down again. “You blacked out,” George informed.
“It was wild, really,” Lee went on, “You just kind of collapsed like a rag doll. It was like you lost all the muscles and bones in your body. You just fell over.”
“Like that time Lockheart removed all of Harry’s bones in his arm,” George laughed.
“That was disgusting,” Lee said.
“Wonderful, guys. Did I really just break up with Hermione?”
“Well, considering I didn’t even know you were dating, I’d say that was the shortest relationship I’ve ever seen.”
“They’ve been dating for, like, two months officially, though they’ve been unofficially flirting for, like ever,” George commented before heaving his brother up with the help of Lee. “So,” his twin continued, “What was that about?”
“A lot of things,” Fred sighed, settling on his bed and rubbing his face with the heels of his palms, “Ron, Krum, being secret, not being able to go to the ball together, me breaking the rules all the time and her always yelling at me about it, her shoving her good grades and perfection right under my nose, and I don’t even know. I want to punch Ron in the balls.”
“I figured it was mostly about him.”
“The rest is just her being young, y’know?” Fred opened his eyes to find his brother and Lee nodding, “It’s just Ron. It’s just fucking Ron. He always ruins everything. Remember last year when we started helping Harry out, remember how furious he was?”
“He’s just a jealous prick,” George reminded. He sat next to his twin, and Lee nodded before going back over to his bed. “Fred, talk to me.”
“I just want to be able to hold her hand in the halls and kiss her before class and hug her whenever I want without thinking that Ron is going to storm over and attack us. He’s so in love with her, George,” he sighed, “I’ve never seen him act like how he does with Hermione. It’s ridiculous, and I just. I don’t want to hurt Ron, and I don’t want to hurt Hermione, and I feel like I’m going to do both, and terribly, if we continue this.”
“You’ve already hurt Hermione, and I reckon pretty badly,” George said quietly, and his twin just looked away before pushing his back against the headboard, pulling his knees to his chest, and laying his head on his knees.
“I really screwed up, Georgie,” he whispered, “I don’t know what it is, but I just like her so much, and I’m so afraid of ruining everything, our friendship, her friendship with Ron, everything. I don’t want to make her miserable just so she can be happy with me.”
George frowned and patted his leg. He didn’t know how to tread on this subject. Hermione was an anomaly.
Hermione stopped by the Ravenclaw Tower entrance, sniffling. Thankfully, someone came out of it before long, and she stopped them. “Excuse me, but do you know if Luna is in there?”
“She is; want me to get her?” the girl asked, noting Hermione’s bloodshot eyes.
“Yes, thank you.” The girl returned after a few moments with Luna behind her.
“Hermione? Is everything okay?” When Hermione shook her head, Luna just frowned and pulled her friend into a tight hug. “Whatever he said, he’s stupid.” Hermione wished she could believe her.
Harry couldn’t believe they were still having Quidditch, what with the tournament, but he also felt glad for the distraction. He was just settling for breakfast when he noticed two empty seats amongst his team. “Where are the twins?” he asked aloud, frowning.
“Haven’t seen them since yesterday,” Angelina said with a shrug. They sat and talked for at least ten minutes before they showed up, Fred actually looking cheerful. Ever since Wednesday, he’d been rather depressive to be around, which was unusual for one of the twins. George, too, had been brought down by his mood, and so it was good to see both of them smiling again.
“Malfoy is going to be furious today,” Fred laughed as they sat and heaped eggs, bacon, and hash browns onto their plates.
“Bewitching snowballs again?” Katie joked, smirking, though the team burst out into loud peals of laughter when George sniggered. It certainly seemed like it was going to be an interesting game.
They spent the rest of breakfast in high spirits until they decided it was time to leave, and Hermione, Luna, and Ginny were just walking in as they exited. Fred purposefully crossed paths with Hermione, bending down to ghost a kiss over her cheek the same time he pressed something into her hand. She kept walking, though she felt shaken when she finally sat and opened her fingers below the table. A little white petal stared up at her, soft and delicate, and then something hit her on the nose. She looked up, and let out a shriek. A dozen or so petals hit her in the face as the owl dropped them, and Luna let out a gasp, pointing to the ceiling where more owls were swooping in even though it was Sunday. They flew straight for Hermione, where they dropped more white petals, and, Hermione noticed, something yellow sat in the middle of them.
“Daisies,” Ginny said aloud, touching one of them until another fell on her finger.
“They’re my favorite,” Hermione whispered, though she was distracted as Luna suddenly stood on her bench.
“I’m sorry,” she read, “That’s what they say. I’m sorry.”
Hermione, despite being Hermione, stood, as well, and gasped. There was no mistaking the lines of the letters that the owls had formed with the daisies. Fred was sorry.
Luna happened to be commentating that match, which turned out to be quite hilarious. Surprisingly, she knew quite a bit about Quidditch, though her wacky phrases and enthusiasm made it that much funnier. Hermione thought it a spectacular game, one of the best she’d seen in a while between Gryffindor and Slytherin. Gryffindor was annihilating Slytherin, which those in the stands were entirely thrilled with, and the atmosphere was just wild and exuberant.
Hermione would later attribute that factor to the reasoning behind her actions.
She jumped to her feet as Angelina scored, screaming and throwing her arms in the air. Ginny joined her as Angelina and Katie slapped hands as they passed each other. The match continued on this way, the Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs, and Ravenclaws completely out-roaring the Slytherins. It was almost as if their fans didn’t exist past a whisper. Even the teachers seemed to lean toward Gryffindor.
And then Harry gave a shout and was diving. The entire stadium was on its feet, waiting with bated breath, and then he curved out, came back in, and knocked Malfoy so hard that he rolled over three times and fell to the ground with a heavy thud. Two seconds later, the snowballs that had been following him around the entire match came crashing down on him just as Harry rammed into one of their beaters, who’d been trying to block him, and snatched the Snitch out of the air right over George’s head. Slytherin was in an uproar as everyone else poured out of the stadium. Hermione sprinted through the crowd, screaming along with them. Adrenaline pumped through her veins, the excitement still fresh from the match, and she could clearly see Fred lifting Harry onto his shoulder with George and whooping. They put him down as he laughed and Ron thumped him on the back, grabbing his forearms and letting out a manly holler. And then Fred turned and caught Hermione’s eye.
She stopped just before him, eyes glistening and heart pounding from the match and Fred. Fred was right in front of her, and she just couldn’t stand it. She leaned up on her tiptoes, grabbed his face, and smashed their mouths together, kissing him without care or worry. He gravitated to her like a magnet, molding their bodies together as he deepened their kiss and held her forearms, desperate to be closer, to feel her so truly. No one seemed to notice a single thing, even when Hermione released his face and buried her own face in his chest and just smiled, smiled so wide she thought her face might split in half. They may have much talking to do, but she wanted this more than anything.
What with the excitement and the party that followed the match, the next day of classes, and the preparation for the Yule Ball later that night, Fred and Hermione hadn’t had a single second to spare for the two of them. Both were bogged down with homework, and so they spent all of their free moments Monday writing and pouring over their books, as did much of the rest of Hogwarts, the students not wanting to spend their holiday time wading through textbooks and essays.
And then Tuesday came, and every girl in Hogwarts was busying themselves with getting ready as classes had been cancelled so that the staff could help set up the Great Hall and get everything perfect for the upcoming night. Hermione was eager for seven o’clock to roll around, though, and, when it finally did, she headed downstairs with Ginny and Luna in tow. The two girls instantly separated from her, Ginny hurrying off to find Neville and Luna waving wildly to Harry as she approached. But it was Hermione who captured the attention as she descended the grand staircase in her pink dress.
Viktor was there waiting at the foot of the staircase, and Hermione smiled as she took his arm. Tonight was going to be perfect; she just knew it. The first dance was beautiful and formal, though she quite enjoyed it. Afterward, they danced for a few songs before Hermione excused herself to get something to eat. Viktor tried to lead her off, but she waved him away, telling him to go get drinks. Her eye was fixed on a certain redhead in handsome dress robes. As she approached, she almost felt him sense her because he straightened and turned just as she reached his elbow, her fingers gracing over the soft fabric of his shirt.
“You look magnificent. Really, Hermione. Truly beautiful,” Fred complimented, shocking her by bending down and placing a delicate kiss on her cheek. “How are you enjoying yourself so far?” he asked as she grabbed two plates and picked out some foods for her and Viktor.
“I’m having a really wonderful time, and you?”
“Lovely. Georgie and I danced.” She giggled, sneaking a glance up at him. He was looking away from her, snatching up a finger sandwich, but he was smiling, and she knew he was happy.
“Fred,” she whispered, touching his hand. She shivered from the contact, though pleasantly. “Fred, I’m sorry for the things I said.”
“As am I,” he said, just as softly, this time turning to face her. “Hermione, I want to do this right. No masks, no secrecy.”
“Me too,” she agreed immediately, “I don’t care what anyone says. I want the world to know how much I like you and want to be with you.”
“Can we break it softly, though? Ron is my brother, and it’s going to be torture over the holidays with him.”
“Maybe we should just wait until after break? I hate saying that, but I don’t know what else to do. I really just want to kiss you right now so bad.”
Fred seemed to take that as an affirmative because he leaned down and pressed his lips to hers, just a small, chaste kiss, but it made Hermione bubble with joy. “Do you want to dance?” he queried, but, at that moment, Viktor swept in, took Hermione’s plates, and led her away without a backward glance.
Fred watched as Hermione sunk to the stairs, throwing her shoes off. Her hair was wild, and her eyes were bleary. She’d just screamed Ron up the stairs, though that was to be expected. He’d watched as they fought their way outside of the Great Hall, forcing himself to remain by Angelina’s side at the table where they were sipping punch.
“I’ll be right back,” he whispered before lifting out of his seat and heading toward the distraught Hermione. She looked up as he approached, offering him a feeble smile.
“Stupid Ronald,” she mumbled, and he laughed. She took the hand he offered, shooting him a questioning glance.
“I asked for a dance earlier, Miss Granger,” he murmured before pulling her close to him and taking her waist. And they danced, right there by the grand staircase, her head on his shoulder, listening to the steady thump thump of his happy heart.
Disclaimer: Everything recognizable belongs to J.K. Rowling.
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