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Chapter 9 : Words, Hearts, and Bruises
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YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE, MY ONLY SUNSHINE.
YOU MAKE ME HAPPY, WHEN SKIES ARE GREY.
I don’t know the rest of the song, actually.
Hello, Hermione! It’s Fred, in case you’d wondered, and I’m superbly caught up in being bored at the moment. It’s about nine o’clock and freaking Charlie still hasn’t woken up yet. Did I tell you he and Bill came over last night to stay into Christmas morning? Mum almost fell over, she was so excited. Even Percy is supposed to be here. It’s been a while since we’ve had the entire family together. I can’t imagine being an only child like you. I really love having all my brothers (and sister!) around. It isn’t Christmas without at least half of them, ha.
George and I have set up some incredible fireworks that are due to go off later tonight. Ron said that Harry said you wrote him and said you might be coming over tonight? That would be fantastic. I miss you already, angel.
Oh! Also, speaking of you possibly coming over, Mum is cooking Christmas dinner tonight. I remember you saying your family liked to do Christmas breakfast, which I think is strange, but whatever. Anyway, she said if you were coming over to be here by seven thirty cos that’s when dinner is. Harry’s here, of course. He wrote the Dursley’s and told them he wasn’t coming home, and they actually sent him a card. It was a get well card, but nonetheless. They seemed entirely overwhelmed with joy at the idea of him not being around for the holidays.
CAN YOU PLEASE COME OVER, MY SUNSHINE?
Ron actually spoke to me last night. I was astonished, really, but he seems to be taking the whole thing a little better than I thought he would. Then again, him talking to me consisted of him asking for the butter and George throwing it at him so that it smudged all over him, and he ended up throwing a temper tantrum and trying to kill George, BUT STILL.
I have cool things to show you, and I’m sending this with Ginny’s owl, so you better answer ASAP, little lady! Or just show up in my bedroom or something, ;D
Mkay, I’ll see you soon, hopefully. Lots of lovey love, FREDERICK
Hermione laughed. Her parents had received the letter early this morning before she’d awoken, so they’d put it on the tree for her to find. After asking them and opening her presents, she headed upstairs to get ready. She smiled at the memory of his letter, of the things he’d said. She remembered, very clearly, the day that they’d walked into the Great Hall holding hands, how they’d pretended not to be nervous, how they’d sat right down at the Gryffindor table to many stares, and how Ron had just glared and glared until he’d opened his mouth to explode and Fred had beat him to the punch, “Hermione and I are dating,” which shut Ron up for the remainder of the meal. It had been December twentythird, the morning before they were due to leave for home.
And now here she was, letting her relationship with Fred blossom out in the open.
She packed away her spare of clothes in her little beaded purse before tucking a book inside and heading downstairs. “Mum, dad, I’m leaving!” They bade her goodbye before she stepped outside and lifted her wand, checking her watch. Mr. Weasley was coming to pick her up.
And, when she arrived at the Burrow, she couldn’t believe what happened. Ron came striding out of the open doorway, red in the face and looking furious. “What is she doing here?” he snapped angrily.
“She’s your best friend, Ronald,” Arthur replied, clearly confused.
“No friend of mine would date my brother.” His hatred burned clear in his eyes, and Hermione just stared at him, glassy-eyed and sad.
“Ron,” she tried, but he opened his mouth before she could say another word.
“I don’t want to hear whatever bullshit you’re going to spit! He is wrong for you, Hermione!”
“And you’re so much better?”
“Fred, Hermione!” he shouted, shaking his head before storming away.
“What about Fred, Ronald?” she shouted right back, stomping after him and grabbing his arm, but, next thing she knew, Ron’s hand had flown back and connected with her cheek. She staggered back a step as he wrenched his arm out of her grip and then seemed to realize what he’d done. “He’s a better man than you’ll ever be,” Hermione spat after a moment before pushing past Ron and into the house.
That night found Hermione spending some girl time with Ginny. “You’re just too nervous,” Hermione said, fingers twisting in Ginny’s hair, “You need to relax and be more yourself. That way, he’ll notice you without thinking you’re crazy, and you’ll probably become friends.”
Ginny sighed, frowning, but she knew Hermione was right. “I guess I should be getting all the love advice from you,” she teased, prodding Hermione’s foot since it was the closest thing to her without her having to move and mess up her braid. “I still can’t even believe you’re dating Fred, of all people.”
“Why does everyone keep saying that? What’s the big deal?”
“The big deal is—ow—Fred is a troublemaker, and you’re, well, Hermione. The only time you’d break a rule was if it helped Harry. Ow.”
“Stop saying stupid things, then. I like Fred.”
“Do you even know Fred?”
This caught Hermione by surprise. Of course she knew Fred. Didn’t she?
Fred cocked his head to the side as Ginny spat out whatever George had given her before scribbling a few things down on a piece of paper. “So, how’re things going with Harry?” George asked teasingly. Ginny stuck her tongue out.
“I really hope he doesn’t die in the tournament,” Fred continued, catching on.
“That’d be really awful for you,” his brother added, mocking concern.
“You’d never get to tell the Boy Who Lived how much you loved him.”
“Pity, really, isn’t it George?”
“Just downright heartbreaking.”
“Oh, shove it, both of you,” Ginny grumbled before stomping out of their room. No sooner had she stepped into the hallway, though, and reached behind her to close their door did the screaming start.
“Really, Ron, grow up!” Hermione shouted shrilly, and the twins showed up in their doorway, curious. “It’s like you don’t even have a brain! I was just talking to Harry! What is so wrong with that?”
“You were bloody conspiring against me!”
“He really is going off his rocker,” George commented, folding his arms against his chest. There was the sound of a slap, and then Ron was furious, his voice echoing around the house.
“DON’T YOU HIT ME, YOU DIRTY SLUT!” Ginny and George both swiveled to look at Fred, but he was already pushing past them and hurrying out.
“RON!” came Harry’s voice, and then Hermione was making tiny, struggling noises. “Ron, stop!” Ginny took off with George behind her, and they erupted into the kitchen just after Fred, who had tackled Ron to the floor and was blindly throwing his fists into his brother.
“HOW DARE YOU PUT YOUR HANDS ON HER!” he was roaring. Hermione had been thrown into the corner of the kitchen and was sunk against the counters, looking horrified. Harry had thrown his hands up in defeat and was back at the table, eating his sandwich.
George dove onto his twin, yanking him back as Ginny pulled out her wand and leveled it at Ron, who was doing the same, though directed at Fred. “Harry!” she exclaimed, but he just shrugged.
“I’d say just put them outside, no wands, just—”
A jet of white light burst from the end of Ron’s wand suddenly, and those gathered let out a shriek and covered their heads, save for Harry, who flung himself out of his chair and at Ron. Fred howled in pain and clutched his shoulder where the hex had landed. Hermione scrambled to her feet and toward him as Harry threw Ron’s wand far from his reach and shoved him into the ground.
“WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? STOP IT!” he screamed, grabbing his friend’s shoulders and shaking him roughly once.
“WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT FOR?” Fred roared, still holding his shoulder gingerly, even as George and Hermione tried to peer at the damage.
“A Stinging Hex,” Hermione said softly as they forced Fred’s hands down by his side.
“YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT IT WAS FOR!” Ron screamed back, and Fred started to move forward until George pinched his shoulder, and he grunted, glaring at his twin. “YOU ARE NO GOOD FOR HER!”
“I can take care of myself!” Hermione exclaimed hotly, turning on her friend, “I don’t see why you even care! It’s not like I’ve ever meant much to you! You couldn’t even pluck up the courage to ask me to the ball!”
“So it’s still about the bloody ball, is it?” Ron shrieked.
“I went with Viktor, remember?” Hermione wasn’t even sure where this argument was going.
“And you danced with him!” he shouted, pointing at Fred. “You think no one talks, you think no one saw that?” he accused, “Half the school knew something was going on before you even decided to flaunt it! I’m just trying to look out for you, ‘Mione!”
“DON’T CALL ME THAT!” she suddenly exploded, “I DON’T LIKE WHEN YOU CALL ME THAT!”
“WHY, IS IT SPECIAL TO FRED ONLY?”
“YES! GODDAMN IT, RON! I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU’RE FEELING! I’M PERFECTLY HAPPY, AND YOU NEED TO LEARN TO ACCEPT THAT!”
“Hermione,” Ginny tried, but it seemed the brunette had had enough.
“No. No, I’m done with this family. I’m going home,” she snapped before turning on her heel and stalking out just as Molly came hurrying in. Their mother’s voice rang around the house as Hermione slammed Ginny’s door behind her. She sunk to her knees, tears staining her face. Ginny was right. She didn’t know Fred. He may have come to her rescue when he heard Ron call her that name, but it was a rare sight. He didn’t seem to care about their fights as of late. All he wanted to do was kiss her and tell her to forget about her friendship with Ron. But she wasn’t ready to give that up, not after all these years.
Fred sighed and lowered his face into his hands. “What have I done?” he asked aloud, but the only response he got was a reciprocated sigh from his twin and sister.
“Unknowingly asked her to choose between you and her best friend,” someone said from the doorway, and the three of them looked up to find Harry standing there. “Ron is being fixed up by your mum,” he continued with an offhand shrug and a frown, “May I?” George nodded, and so he entered, closing the door behind him. “Hermione is very stubborn,” he began, “And even if you didn’t say it out loud, you were asking it of her. She’s known Ron her whole witch life, and me, and she’ll be very hard-pressed to let him go so easily. Or you,” he added to Fred, “But you asked something she couldn’t give, and that’s only going to make it easier for her to mend her friendship with Ron.”
Fred stared at Harry for a long minute before nodding and standing. “I have to fix this,” he said to the room, and George only groaned and got to his feet, following his twin out of the room. Ginny tried to control her blush as Harry turned his gaze on her, offering a small smile.
“Once Ron’s all better, wanna go play some makeshift Quidditch?” he asked, and she couldn’t help but beam and nod.
“Hermione, dear, there’s someone here to see you!” Jean called up the stairs, and Hermione sighed before plucking herself up off her bed and heading out of her room. When she came to the foot of the stairs, she’d expected Harry, but seeing Fred there with George lingering just outside made her insides twist.
“We should talk,” Fred said, sounding nervous, but Hermione shocked him by shaking her head.
“There’s nothing to talk about. You shouldn’t have come,” Hermione responded, blinking away hot tears, “I can’t even believe you would have asked that of me.”
“But I didn’t even ask anything!” he complained loudly, stepping forward. Hermione just stepped back up a step.
“Would you rather fix things with Ron or just continue on as we were?”
“Hermione, he’s such a git and—”
“He’s one of my best friends, whether or not you want to admit it. I know he’s a git, but I want him in my life. I’m sorry, Fred. But I can’t let go of that just so we can snog sometimes.”
“So you’re breaking up with me. Didn’t we just go through this?”
“Yes, and over the very same reasons,” Hermione snapped, “Maybe getting back together was a bad idea. Maybe we should have just stayed apart. It would have saved a lot of hearts and bruises.”
“Look who’s suddenly so poetic,” Fred spat, “Whatever.” And, with that, he stalked out, anger fueling him.
Disclaimer: Everything recognizable belongs to J.K. Rowling.
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