Chapter 10 : Underwater
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Hermione sat back triumphantly, her quill coming back with her. “Don’t tell me you’ve already finished!” Ron groaned, gaping at her in disbelief.
“It wasn’t that hard, honestly,” she said, shooting him a look.
“It is,” he bemoaned, “Can I look at yours, please? Pretty please?” He smiled cheekily, and Hermione just sighed before scooting closer to him.
“Let me see what you’ve got done so far.” Ron took the bait and pushed his parchment over to her, and they spent the next hour going over the topic and what else he could write about while Harry smiled and continued to work on his Astronomy chart.
Things had been pleasantly good between the three of them, and, though they all hated to admit it, they knew it was because Hermione was back and not gallivanting off with Fred Weasley. Regardless, the two boys still noted how she had a little less brightness in her eyes. They figured, with time, even that would pass.
When it was finally late enough that they could, with good conscience, stretch away from their homework, the trio packed up their things, though they left them on their table as they grabbed the good couch in front of the fire. “We should be in the library,” Hermione said thoughtfully a while later, “The second task is only in a week.”
“I’m sure Harry’s got it figured out,” Ron said with a shrug.
Harry looked away.
Both Hermione and Ron looked over at him, appalled. “Harry!” Hermione exclaimed, “A week! And you haven’t figured out what to do yet?”
“Oh no,” Ron suddenly groaned, tumbling off the couch and landing on his face with a thud, “We’re going to have to spend this whole week in the library now, aren’t we?”
“It’s actually a very soothing place, Ronald,” Hermione said playfully, pushing him with her foot, “Not that you’d ever know, though.” He just groaned again, and the three continued on with their conversation as the fiery embers died away and the night carried on.
Fred and George stopped short, shoulders sinking. They turned to find McGonagall approaching them, though she didn’t seem to be upset or ready to scold them, so they arranged innocent expressions. “I’m glad I ran into you,” she said, stopping in front of them, “I’d kindly ask you to find your brother Ronald and Miss Granger for me. I need them in my office without Potter. Thank you.”
She walked away without another word, and George huffed a sigh before heading back down the hall. “I think I heard Ginny say they were in the library earlier. Something about Harry being stupid and not knowing what he was going to do for tomorrow or something. Rather idiotic, if you ask me. Okay, what, are you going to sulk the whole way there? I’ll talk to them. You can just wait outside. Seriously, Fred?”
“I just don’t know what to do, Georgie,” he sighed, “I feel like we can’t even be friends anymore. She’s so freaking stubborn.”
“You knew this.”
“And I thought we could still be friends, like we used to, but she won’t even look at me.”
“She is a girl, after all.”
“And now I’m pretty sure Ron is going to hex me the second he sees me.”
“That’s entirely untrue. Ron might be stupid, but—actually, I’m just going to stop talking because I’m probably wrong.” They continued on like this until they reached the library, and Fred went in after his brother, bracing himself. “Just act normal,” George whispered as they approached the trio. “Hey guys,” he greeted when they stopped at the end of a shelf, “Doing some last minute studying before tomorrow, Harry?”
“Some might say that’s bad luck.”
“I don’t know, Fred. I’ve heard it actually works if you do that.”
“Guys,” Harry snapped, “What do you want?”
“We need to steal Hermione and Ron,” George said with a shrug.
“McGonagall has called upon you.”
“Better not to deny her, really.”
“Remember that time we did, George?”
“Wretched consequences, honestly.”
“Alright, alright, we’re coming,” Ron said with a groan, getting to his feet and waiting for Hermione to follow.
Harry watched them go worriedly, but it was George who assuaged his worries, “Don’t worry, Ginny taught me the fine art of Bat Bogie Hexes.”
It turned out to be a harmless journey, but Fred immediately regretted ever following McGonagall’s instructions when the twins pressed their ears to her door and eavesdropped. His expression of horror deepened as she went on to explain the details of the next task to the point where George dragged him away, and they set about exploding things.
The next morning, Fred distracted himself with placing bets and the such with his brother. When the time for the task finally came, they found a seat next to Ginny, and it was then that it finally hit Fred. Hermione was at the bottom of the Black Lake, and he felt sick to his stomach.
Ginny noticed, and she took Fred’s hand, smiling up at him. “Things are going to be okay, Freddie.” He just smiled back and squeezed her hand.
“Harry calls me that.”
“Oh yea? Since when?”
“Since my first year,” she replied happily, looking back down the stands toward where the champions where lining up, “When Tom took me into the Chamber.” Fred frowned at the memory. He still found it hard to believe that his little sister had been possessed by Voldemort at eleven, no less.
“Do you still have nightmares about that?” he asked delicately.
“Not anymore. They stopped last year.”
“Good. Oh, there they go.” Harry was the last of the champions to dive into the lake, though he fell kind of thrashing and strangely. They sat together, the three Weasley's, chatting and talking until Cedric suddenly emerged with Cho gasping at his side. Fred straightened, his back rigid, waiting and waiting, until, finally, there was Krum and Hermione, sopping wet, but there she was.
“Fred? Fred!” Ginny exclaimed, but her brother didn’t seem to hear her. George jumped to his feet as Fred sprinted down the stands and around the stairs at the back. His mind was swimming with relief, and he felt light and like he was floating.
When he finally erupted at the bottom of the stairs, Hermione was just going to the other edge of the stand as she pulled her robe tighter around her. “Hermione,” he breathed out, and he was surprised when she didn’t turn at his voice.
“I was wondering if you’d come down,” she said, a shiver shaking through her. Fred immediately pulled off his jacket and dropped it over Hermione’s shoulders before coming around to see her face. She shocked him even further when he found tears falling unchecked down her face.
“’Mione,” he whispered, stepping in front of her and placing one hand on her arm while the other thumbed away the tears, “What’s wrong?”
“When McGonagall told us what was going on, all I could think of was that I wished it were you coming to get me and not Viktor. I miss you, Fred.”
His shoulders sagged as he looked down at her, and, finally, she turned her gaze up to him, unblinking and strong. “I’m sorry, Hermione,” he murmured, threading his fingers in her hair as he cupped her jaw, “I really am. But I just—I don’t think—”
“Me either,” she cut him off, reaching up a hand to grasp his wrist, “I had fun.”
“So did I.”
“Can I have one last kiss?” And Fred bent down and pressed his lips to hers in a soft, chaste kiss that left both of them smiling. “Don’t be a stranger,” she said, and he just laughed before kissing her forehead and stepping back. He didn’t feel so lost anymore.
Fred pushed his brother playfully as they entered the castle again, windswept from flying outside. They headed into the Great Hall with Harry and the rest of the Gryffindor team trailing after them, coming in pairs and small groups. Eventually, they all found their way to the table and were seated amongst their different friends, eating and laughing. Fred and George sat down on either side of Ginny, to which she immediately groaned. “What did I ever do to deserve you two as brothers?”
George feigned hurt as Fred sniggered behind her back. “Why, dear sister—” George began.
“—whatever do you mean?” Fred finished.
“We just wanted to say hello—”
“—and to ask you how you’ve been. Honestly—”
“—it’s nothing new.”
“Do you see what they do to me?” she whined, covering her face.
Harry actually laughed, arching an eyebrow at the twins, but this only caused them to erupt in even faster and more confusing chatter. Away they went, causing those in earshot to burst into hilarious bouts of laughter. Eventually, the noise died down as the twins faded away into their own conversations, George with Angelina and Fred with Hermione.
“Are you okay? You seem kind of quiet tonight,” he asked, watching her face.
She shrugged, making sure not to frown, “Yea, I’m alright. I’ve just been having a rough week.”
“Wanna go for a walk after dinner and you can rant to me? I don’t mind.”
“I’d actually really like that.”
And so, as Harry, Ron, and Ginny were standing with the twins and Hermione, Fred led her off with promises to return her before curfew. “They’re probably just going for a walk around the lake,” Harry said as they headed off, “Don’t get your knickers in a twist, okay?” Ron rolled his eyes, but Harry stopped, giving him a pointed look. “Seriously, Ron, you know they’re just friends. You know what you did to them.”
“I didn’t do anything to them!” Ron exclaimed as Fred and Hermione disappeared from the Great Hall.
“Don’t be so thick, Ron!” Ginny scoffed, turning away and storming off. George just shrugged before following his sister, and Harry just sighed.
“Look, Ron, we can talk about this in the common room. I’d prefer if we didn’t have a screaming match in the Great Hall, especially with two of your siblings behind me.”
“Oh, so you’re just going to assume that Ginny and George are going to back you on this?”
“Yes, Ron! Do you even know what Hermione has gone through because of you?”
“She hasn’t gone through anything!”
“Maybe if you paid attention—” Ginny screamed as she came storming back in, “You’d know just how much Fred meant to her! She was perfectly happy until you came along and ruined everything!” Ginny’s hand suddenly swung back, and everyone stared as it contacted with Ron’s face. Even he looked stunned when she pulled back, panting and as red as her hair. “It’s all your fault!” Ginny shouted, shaking, “She was so happy with Fred, and you just destroyed everything because you’re jealous and because you can’t admit that you like Hermione when your brother can! Why can’t you just leave them alone?” As Ginny’s tirade died away, not a soul moved, let alone breathe. They just watched her, waiting.
Finally, Ron spoke, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I saved Hermione from a disaster. She doesn’t belong with Fred. He’s so wrong for her.” Before Ginny could even open her mouth again, George had grabbed her around the waist and carried her off screaming and kicking.
“Honestly, Ron,” Harry said, looking disgusted, “She’s your best friend. You could give her feelings a thought rather than only caring about yourself.”
“You’re going to turn on me now, too? I thought you, of all people, would understand.”
“How?” Harry exclaimed, exasperated, “Even I knew how good they were together! But no, days after they told us, you wrecked them!” Ron just stared at him in disbelief as his best friend stomped away after his brother and sister, furious and fuming.
Disclaimer: Everything recognizable belongs to J.K. Rowling.
I’m pretty sure the next chapter is going to be the end of fourth year. I am seriously way more annoyed than I thought I would be (GOF is my least favorite, I’m sorry!), and I really, really wanna get into OOTP. I have so many fun ideas.
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