Hermione cast a glance at Ginny, who was pacing nervously around the dormitory. “Come one, Gin, you’ll be fantastic. Slytherin doesn’t stand a chance.”
Ginny didn’t even slow down. “Look, Hermione,” she snapped, “don’t pretend to understand Quidditch. You’ll embarrass yourself.” Seeing Hermione’s face, she sighed and apologized. “I’m sorry. I’m just really high-strung right now. This is a big game, and I’m a new chaser…” she left the sentence unfinished, continuing to pace the floor.
Hermione huffed. She was still smarting from that jab about Quidditch, but she tried to comfort Ginny all the same – after all, she was her only girl friend. “Like I said, Ginny, don’t worry. You’re the fastest chaser on the team. You’ll be amazing.”
Ginny smiled weakly, and continued pacing again.
Hermione picked up her book and flipped to page 72, beginning to read.
Suddenly there was a soft tapping at the window. Thinking there had been enough distractions for the day, Hermione tried to ignore it.
Tap, tap, tap.
She tucked a strand of chestnut brown hair behind her ear.
Tap, tap, tap.
She wrote as loud as she could, defiantly scratching her quill on the parchment.
Tap, tap, TAP.
“Oh, honestly!” She slammed shut her Herbology book, scaring Crookshanks so bad he hid under the bed. Ginny jumped as the ginger cat shot past her feet. “What was that about –“she started to say, but then she noticed the owl at the window. “Hermione, you’ve got an owl.”
Hermione crossed over to the window and opened it, letting the bird in with a huff. The owl swooped in, rubbing its head against her hand gratefully. Her scowl softened, and she took the roll of parchment from the bird’s leg, petting it as she read.
This is going to sound odd, but, if at all possible, could you meet me in the Charms corridor at 10:15? I think we can get over our ‘little secret’ together. No strings attached, promise.
See you there,
“What is it?” Ginny asked, snatching it away before Hermione could stop her.
“Oh, uh, Gin. Uh…” Never more than that moment had Hermione wanted to be swallowed by the floor. She tried to find the words to explain, waiting for Ginny’s outburst of rage.
Ginny threw it back at her, and it fell on the floor. “Just a shopping list from your mum and dad,” she said, “nothing interesting.” She looked at the clock, and shrieked. “Merlin! I have to be on the pitch in ten minutes! Bye, Hermione!” she dashed out of the room.
Ten minutes? Hermione looked at the clock, then gasped. It was 10:10… and she had to meet Fred by 10:15! Checking her hair in the mirror, she ran out the door, nearly slamming into it. Lovely.
As she ran, she pondered the letter. Obviously Fred had charmed it so that she alone could see the actual contents. She had read about it somewhere. He was clever, that Fred. She smirked to herself, wondering if George knew the secret. If George knew the –
She stopped dead.
Did George know she’d never kissed a boy? And now, here she was, about to kiss… Fred?
For the first time, she fully realized the extent of what was about to happen, and she panicked. What was she doing? She didn’t know how to kiss. She didn’t know what to say or do. And if she messed up, Fred was bound to tell George, and George was bound to tell Angelina, who was bound to tell Katie, who was bound to tell Alicia, and pretty soon everyone would know she was a bad kisser and –
She whirled around, and in the dim light she could vaguely see the outline of a tall, lanky boy with long red hair.
“Fred?” she called quietly.
“The very same.” He grinned, but his smile dropped almost instantly when she pulled out her wand and pointed it at his nose. “Hermione, wha-“
“Did you tell George?”
She blinked. She hadn’t expected him to answer the question right off, and definitely hadn’t expected that answer.
“Lower your wand please, dear.” He gently pushed her wand down with his index finger. “I didn’t tell George your secret. You confided in me, and I don’t tell other’s secrets. I suspect you did the same…?” She saw a flicker of fear rush through his eyes and she rushed to comfort him, putting away her wand.
“Oh, no, Fred, of course I didn’t.”
A heavy silence ensued and she moved her gaze from the stone floor to Fred’s face. He was staring at her intently, but she didn’t feel awkward or violated. Her eyes flickered to his pale pink lips. She wasn’t really going to do this, was she?
“Let’s count to three,” she heard Fred say quietly. “And we’ll… you get it.” He fidgeted nervously, and she smiled, taking heart in knowing he was just as nervous as she was.
“One…” she said softly, taking a step closer. She hadn’t realized how tall he was.
“Two…” he seconded, leaning down slowly to reach her.
“Three,” she whispered, and their lips touched briefly as she closed her eyes. That wasn’t so bad, she thought, and suddenly leaned into the kiss. She felt his surprise, then he, too, deepened the kiss, hesitantly putting a hand under her chin to tip her face up to his own. She was all too aware of her limp hands, and she reached up to clasp them around his neck, while feeling his tangle in her hair. It was heavenly, and terrifying, because suddenly she realized she was kissing Fred Weasley and she broke from him, grinning. She opened her eyes and saw he was grinning, too, the famous Weasley blush creeping up his cheeks. Her face was hot, and she was sure she was blushing, too.
“Well,” she said. She watched him nervously fix his jersey, then she remembered. She cast a look at the clock tower and gasped.
“Fred! You were supposed to be at the field five minutes ago!”
His gaze flashed to the clock. He swore loudly, and began to run in the opposite direction. Suddenly, he stopped, and jogged backwards to Hermione. “Thanks, ‘Mione.” He grinned delightfully, then ran off.
She had a feeling he wasn’t just talking about Quidditch.