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Chapter 7 : How it began.
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I walked silently down the cold, cobble stone streets; my head hung low, dejected. I couldn't fathom how Fred had to be feeling and no matter how hard I tried to erase it from my mind I couldn't get his face out of my mind. Never in my life had I ever meant to hurt anyone, that just wasn't my nature, but here I stand, slapping practically everyone I care about across the face. First Ron, and now Fred. The pressure of everything going on in my life weighed so heavily on my back that I felt as if I would fall forward at any moment, the baby weight certainly didn't help this.
"Where are you Mom?" I whispered to no one. I knew there would be no answer, no motherly advice to console me, but asking the question brought a small sense of peace to me. I missed her so much. I had always turned to my mother for advice, on things not pertaining to the magical world that is. I didn't want to imagine what she must be thinking of me now. A pang of shame raced through me. I hung my head lower, if at all possible. A young couple walked past me on the streets, I felt their stares before I saw them. Being friends with Harry Potter, especially after the war, had its ups and downs, this was a down. I looked up to see the woman staring at me, pity coursing through her expression. I must have been a sight to see. I quickened my pace and shoved past them, Harry's flat wasn't much further up the street. I found the building and raced inside, trying to escape the cold wind from outside. Without thinking I heading towards his apartment and knocked on the door.
"You just don't understand me do you Harry?" A voice from inside shouted. I heard a loud groan and then nothing but silence, then determine footsteps made their way towards the door. I took a step back and waited.
"Ginny, wait," I heard Harry walking after her but it was too late. She swung the door open with such force I was afraid it was rock off its hinges. Ginny noticed me just as she was about to turn the corner. She flashed me a smile but it felt forced, she turned on her heel and faced Harry, who was now standing in the doorway, dead on.
"Call her over early this time have you?" She asked callously. I wanted to crawl in a whole and hide, with everything else going on in my life the last thing I needed was to get involved in another one of their fights.
"Ginny, no I didn't even ask her to come over," Harry shouted at her, then with sympathetic eyes he turned to me, "Not that it's not great to see you." I understood, I hadn't exactly planned on coming over myself. Ginny glared at the two of us for a moment longer and then turned in a huff. Harry sighed and leaned against his doorframe. Then he looked up at me and smiled.
"What a greeting huh?" I laughed and nodded, this is what I loved about our friendship. We saw each other at our worst moments and still we would laugh about it. Maybe that's what I was missing with Fred, or maybe that's what I wasn't giving to Fred. A reason to laugh and be happy.
"It's typical for you and her," I stood there awkwardly for a moment. Harry ushered me inside and we sat down on the small sofa in his living room. It was clear to me that he had planned to have a quiet, romantic evening with Ginny. Candles littered the fireplace mantle, and a small dinner was set out of the coffee table. I raised an eyebrow at him and he sighed heavily.
"I try," he said with annoyance ringing in his tone, "really I do."
"What happened this time?" Harry put a hand to his forehead and exhaled, clearly calming himself. I knew him all too well.
"I forgot she was on a diet and I bought some chocolates for her and she equated that to I never listen to anything she says," Harry rolled his eyes and got up to clear off the table. I couldn't help but stifle a laugh. Their relationship had always puzzled me. It was literally as if one day they both woke up and decided that they were it for each other. I couldn't chastise them at the time because truthfully that was how I felt about Ron, but I've come to see things more clearly. Love and relationships and all that what-not take a lot more than just a desire to be together, you have to commit. Something I had just recently proven to myself that I wasn't yet capable of.
"So how is everything?" Harry called from the kitchen where he was washing dishes. I patted my belly.
"More pregnant every day," I chimed back. I leaned back into the couch, it was more relaxing than anything else I had sat in for the last few weeks. I heard footsteps come up behind me and then I felt a hand on my shoulder.
"How are you really?" Harry had always had a way of knowing when I was feeling something. We used to tease that we were each other's long lost sibling, the connection we shared was that close. He always knew when there was more on my mind, this time was no exception.
"Fred and I got into a fight," I said solemnly. I could feel the tears coming and I tried hard to stop them, I wanted to get everything out before I inevitably broke down.
"He found my journal," I wiped away a tear," I haven't really had anyone to talk to so I've been writing down my thoughts in that. I wrote something down about how I still loved Ron and how I wished Ron was the father of the baby and Fred saw." A sob escaped my throat and I suppressed a second one.
"Hermione, I thought you were getting over it?"
"I was, or I thought I was... it's not that easy." A uncomfortable silence grew between us and I could tell Harry was contemplating something. Finally he sighed and took my hands in his.
"Hermione, what happened that night of your mother's funeral. Between you and Fred?" I racked my brain for the answer and as I did, the story spilled out.
I sat on a small bench a few feet away from where my mother's casket had just been buried. I couldn't help but stare. It was a strange feeling, knowing that physically she was so close but emotionally so far from me. I wanted nothing but for someone to come up and tell me that it had all been a horrible dream, one that I would wake up crying and run to my mother's room and crawl in between her and my father, snuggling up to them for protection, because nothing could harm me if they were there. I wiped away the few tears that were still on my cheeks. I felt numb, the entire day felt like someone else's life and not my own. Most of the guests had gone by now, even my father had headed on home and there I sat, unable to make my legs move.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of ginger hair and I turned my head toward it, hoping to see Ron standing there. To my slight dismay, it was Fred. He grinned politely and sat down next to me on the bench. I flashed him a small smile that didn't reach my eyes.
"How are you?" My gaze didn't waver, I kept staring straight out in front of me.
"Fine," I answered. Fred nodded and followed my gaze.
"He and Harry left a little while ago," I sighed, staring at my fingers," it's been over for a few hours, I just can't seem to move." We sat there in silence for what felt like an eternity.
"I know how you feel," Fred stated beside me. I whipped my head towards him.
"You have no idea how I feel," I said quietly. I knew that I shouldn't be acting this way towards him, after all he just wanted to help, but I felt so angry. I just couldn't help it.
"I do, remember when George got his ear cut off?"
"Yes," I said skeptically.
"At first no one told me what had happened, all I kept hearing was that George was hurt and that he was losing too much blood. I was terrified and angry, I wanted so badly to see him and laugh and joke and play with him like we always had, but in the pit of my stomach I knew that those days could be over. As I was running up to the house to see him I was afraid of what I would find, because I knew that if he had died I would feel nothing but anger as long as I lived." I nodded, I understood. So what if he could somewhat relate? The reality was that I had lost my mother and he still had George.
"Well currently George still walks among us," my eyes welled with tears," and my mother does not." I couldn't stop the sobs from coming. It was strange, I could stand to talk about my mother and stand to see her grave but once I mentioned anything about her being gone something within me would snap. I felt Fred embrace me but all I could do was sob into his strong shoulder. We stayed there, me sobbing into him while he attempted to comfort me until the sun was beginning to set and the men who worked at the cemetery were beginning to stare. I felt Fred release me and watched as he bit his lip in thought.
"Hermione, I know this will sound strange but do you live alone?" I furrowed my brow.
"Yes," I crossed my arms over my chest, "why?"
"Well," Fred licked his lips nervously, "I remember the night George got hurt, we stayed close the entire night. There was no one else I wanted near me, I just wanted the assurance that he was still here, alive and well." I raised a brow at him, knowing what he was getting at but waiting for him to say it nonetheless.
"Well, umm, if you need someone to sleep on a mat in the far corner of your living room, far, VERY far might I add, from your bedroom," he extended his hand," I'm your man." I felt a smile tug at my lips for the first time today. I weighed my choices. Having him come over while I was in such a vulnerable state was not the smartest thing I could do, but then again I doubted Fred would try to pull anything over on me; but then again, have I ever known the twins not to have a hidden agenda? I finally stopped my inner monologue and turned to him.
"Why would you want to do this Fred?" I asked, skepticism seeping in my tone. Fred shrugged his shoulders.
"You've always been like a sister to me Hermione," he laughed a little, "I certainly treat you like I would a sister, all the pranks and pestering and what not." I had to agree, in a lot of ways Harry and I both were adopted Weasley's. I of course had my parents, but for all intents and purposes they were my wizarding family.
"All right," I said finally gathering the strength to stand up, "but no funny business." Fred held his hands up in mock surrender.
"You know me, no funny business at all," the a wicked smile played upon his lips, "just a little mischief, a fire, an explosion or two, the usual." He winked at me and I felt myself smile for the first time today, a smile that reached my eyes and made me feel like the world would feel right again. In a comfortable silence we walked back to my flat and ate dinner. We caught up for a little while on how we had been, seeing as I had never really had a decent conversation with Fred. The interesting thing was, I found myself enjoying it all. The laughter, the easiness, the company, I wanted to laugh at how absurd it all seemed to me. Finally, somewhere are midnight thoughts of my mother came back to me. I kept remembering the first time I rode a bike while she held the handlebars. I remembered all of the times I had stayed up until the wee hours of the morning telling her about all of my adventures that year at Hogwarts. I remembered the days I got my Hogwarts letter and how she embraced me and told me how proud she was of me. A thousand other memories racked my brain but the one thing that plagued me was that I could no longer remember what her hugs felt like. A strong part of me yearned for it, for once in my life all I wanted or needed was a hug.
"Fred," I said interrupting him," can I have a hug?" Fred didn't flinch, didn't raise an eyebrow, no sarcastic or snarky comment, he just stood up and opened up his arms. Again, it surprised me how good it felt being in his arms. He felt like Ron to me, with just a hint more definition. I closed my eyes and hugged him tighter, letting an array of feelings wash over me. Then in a moment that could have only been fate I found myself crashing my lips onto his. At first he fell back a little, stunned that I had done such a thing, and to be honest I myself hadn't realized yet but when I did I felt nothing but complete and utter bliss. Maybe it was all of the emotions of the day that were getting to me but in that moment, I felt something pull me toward him. I couldn't stop, the kisses grew more intense, more desperate, as if both of us were trying to figure out what was happening between us. I felt us sink back down onto the sofa and slowly we became entangled, not knowing where one began and the other finished. I couldn't say what was happening, although I knew perfectly well where it was going, and I didn't want to say how I felt, because if I was being honest I had never felt anything this strong before, but as the night went on all I could think was, "Well, this is weird."
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