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Titus by DahliasQuill
Chapter 14 : Way Back
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 4


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AN: I would like to begin by apologizing to my loyal readers who have waited nearly six months for this chapter. I think the wait will be well worth it when you get to the end. It is FINALLY here! This chapter goes back to the beginning. This is how it all started. Since it is my goal to make my story as true to canon as possible, the events in this chapter follow along with JK Rowling’s magnificent work. If you aren’t a mega nerd like me and have the books practically memorized, I would advise that you have a copy of books three and four (seeing as this is the time period in which the chapter is set) with you when reading this chapter. It’s not necessary but may help a little if it’s been a while since you’ve read them. That being said, this chapter contains scenes/quotes from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire both written by JK Rowling. I do not own anything from Harry Potter just simply my ideas. Thank you and ENJOY!




Hermione hid behind her tower of books, trying desperately to focus on her Transfiguration homework. Trying and failing. She sat in frustration as she tried to push the anger created by Ron loudly babbling about Harry’s confiscated broomstick from across the Common Room.


"He's a real arse isn't he?" She turned to her left to see a very solemn looking George sitting next to her.


"Yeah. Really has his head stuck really high up there , doesn't he?" said Fred from her right.


"Up where?" Hermione had an idea of what they meant but couldn't be sure.


"His arse of course." The twins said at once.  


Hermione gave a slight chuckle and nodded. “I guess.”


“C’mon Hermione! Aren’t you supposed to be some kind of genius? You should know it’s a fact that Ron’s had his head up his own arse since he was born.” Fred said, pulling Hermione’s transfiguration book towards him.


“What do you think you’re doing?” Hermione asked, eyeing the book that was held lightly in Fred’s hands.


“Helping you focus.” said he.


“What do you mean?” Hermione asked.


“We’ve noticed you’ve had a hard time concentrating.” said George, his eyes flicking to Ron and back.


“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said stubbornly.


“Explain the five principles of Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration.” Fred ordered Hermione.


“What?” Hermione asked, confused.


“We are going to  help you study.” Fred said coyly, a slight twinkle in his eye.


--


Hermione sat silently at the Gryffindor table, eating her toast, the tip of her nose smudged with grime from an old book. She had once again spent the entire night studying. She once again sat alone.  It was early. The black lake still shone like molten gold as the sun emerged from its frigid waters. There were only a few other students in the Great Hall, all of them NEWT students who had presumably spent their night in the same fashion as  Hermione.


“Still no trolls?” Hermione turned to see the two identical smiles that she was quickly learning to grow fond of.  


“Where are the goons you’re always hanging around with?” asked George, sliding in on her right.


“Are they up to some life-threatening scheme yet again?” asked Fred, that familiar twinkle burning its way from his eyes to  Hermione’s.


“They still aren’t talking to me.” Hermione said flatly as Fred sat down on her right.


“All this over a broomstick? Harry already got it back?” Fred politely said, his mouth full of Hermione’s half eaten toast.


“No. Ron is convinced that my cat ate Scabbers.”


“Well it wouldn’t be a shame if he did.” George piped in through tremendous bites of porridge.


“And what about Harry? Does Harry think Crookshanks would chose such a moldy meal?” asked Fred.


“Yes.” Hermione sighed.


“Bummer. We thought he might actually have half a brain.” said Fred.


“Speak for yourself. I knew better, he hangs around Ron.” George chuckled.


“What’re you two doing up so early anyway?” Hermione asked suspiciously.


“You know what Hermione? You are going to make a great mother someday.” Fred bantered, touching his index finger to the tip of her nose.


“I’m afraid I don’t follow?” she said confused.


“You just remind me much of a certain woman who may or may not have given me life.” the twinkle was back.


Hermione rolled her eyes as she let out a slight chuckle.


--


Hermione’s ears perked up at the sound of Fred’s voice; he was mocking Ron’s anger over Scabbers. He made fun of the moldy creature then promptly told him to get a new one.


It had been just yesterday that Hermione had discussed Ron’s suspicions with the twins. It was nice to hear them somewhat sticking up for her. They were real clever about it. They knew Ron well and that the best way to end the dispute was not to tell him he was wrong, but to tell him to get over it. Hermione smiled a bit to herself and continued with her studying.


--


Hermione sat at the foot of the staircase that lead to the girls’ dormitories, with her books sprawled out around her. She was crying. She had finally cracked. The stress of her overloaded schedule had finally broken her.  She heard the portrait open and a certain Weasley twin yelling comically obscene comments at Sir Cadogan. Hermione attempted to pick herself up off the ground to save herself from the embarrassment of a comment from the twins. She did not pay attention to the single set of footsteps that swiftly approached her as she hastily collected her books. Before she could pick up a second book, Fred was kneeling beside her helping. Hermione was unable to hinder the flow of tears, despite her embarrassment.


“Are you crying?” It was at that moment that she realized Fred was alone. Never before had she seen him without George. “Hermione, what happened?” There was general concern in his voice, no mockery. This was a side of Fred that only Ginny had ever seen before.


“My bag broke.” Hermione said curtly, head down


“The great Hermione Granger does not cry over broken bags.” he said, standing up and holding all but one of her books. “Come here,” He walked to the fireplace and sat her books down on an end table. “Sit down,” he motioned to the relished, most comfortable chair in the Common Room, one that was almost always occupied by either him or George.


Hermione followed and sat down, sinking into the warm depths of the chair.  (It had been rumored that said chair had been cast by so many softening and warming charms over the years that the chair had absorbed the magic as its own.) Fred knelt down so that his face was level with Hermione’s, “Now, tell me why you’re really crying.”


Fred looked at Hermione with so much sincere sympathy that it was impossible for her not to reveal the truth to him. “It’s an accumulation of things really,” she said between sniffles, “I’ve been working my arse off the entire year, and then there’s the rollercoaster that my only friendships have been riding,”


“Hermione, I know all this. There must be something else?”


“We’ve just found out that Buckbeak lost his trial, and this morning Malfoy would not stop with his inconsiderate stabs at Hagrid. He just irks me so . I lost my temper and I slapped him.”


“Wait! Did you just say you slapped Draco Malfoy?”  Fred’s eyes twinkled.


“I was about to do a lot worse but Ron stopped me and the prat ran away. Then with all this work and my insane schedule I lost track of time and fell asleep on my Arithmancy homework and missed Charms and today we did Cheering Charms and that’s sure to be on the final. AND I could really use one right about now. AND THEN that mindless bat Trelawny once again prophesied of Harry’s  immediate death. I left. I just left. I couldn’t take it anymore. I don’t even care what it does to my marks, I’m done. Then on the way to take a nap my bag split from the bottom, further proof that I’m in way over my head.” Hermione let out a deep breath after not breathing through the whole speech, a common Hermione characteristic. Her tears had ceased but her cheeks were still taut and flushed and her eyes red and puffy.


For a moment Fred was silent, then he got up from the ground and went to the foot of the staircase to retrieve her mangled bag.  He returned with a repaired bag and placed it gently on her lap. “This won’t last forever, just long enough to get a new one. Now about the rest, don’t let things like that break you. From now on this is what I want you to do. Anytime you get overwhelmed with your studies sit back, take a deep breath and think of the moment you got your Hogwarts letter. Remember who you are.”


“What do you mean?”


“You’re Hermione Granger. You’re the most powerful, determined, intelligent witch I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. People like you are the kinds of people who change the world. SO when all this seems overwhelming, remember that you’re Hermione bloody Granger and your name will one day be taught in the classes you’re now stressing over.” Fred looked Hermione straight in the eyes, “I don’t ever want to see you cry again.”


Hermione could not pull words from her mind, so instead she  did the only thing she possibly could think of. She hugged Fred. They separated and without another word Fred proceeded up the stairs to the boys’ dormitories.


--


"So what do you think?" Fred asked, eyeing Hermione nervously.


"Impressive, but dangerous. Very dangerous." Said Hermione, twirling the colorful sweet between her fingers.


The pair sat near the pond behind the Burrow. The house was nearly silent as the sun slowly crept over Stoatshead Hill. Hermione had risen much too early but was unable to fall back to sleep. Instead she decided to stroll the yard. Walking was always able to relax her.  She marveled at how different a wizarding garden could be from the ones she had known her whole life.  Fred, who had been awake all night, had seen Hermione venture into the garden alone. He looked over to George who had fallen asleep on a pile of fake wands and decided he needed a break from his work. Fred had followed Hermione into the garden, his pockets full of Ton-Tongue Toffees.  


"That's what George and I are working on now, the antidote." Fred chuckled, "We don't want to kill our customers. Then we won't have any to buy our jokes."


"How will they be able to take the antidote if they can't use their tongues?" Hermione asked honestly.


"That's why I asked your opinion. We hadn't even thought of that." Fred admitted, taking the sweet from her small hands.


"Is that why you came out here? To ask my opinion on one of your crazy pranks?"


"It's not just crazy pranks anymore. This is the beginning of a line of jokes that'll fill the pockets of Hogwarts students for decades." Fred said optimistically.


"What're you calling this line?" Hermione asked, honestly curious.


"Weasley Wizards’ Wheezes."  Fred laughed.


"Clever. But really, why'd you come out here?"


"To talk to you. Honest. I saw you come out here alone and I thought it'd be the perfect opportunity to pick your brilliant brain." There was that twinkle. "Besides, it's nice talking to someone who takes me seriously for a change."


"What makes you think I take you seriously?"


"There are times when I say something completely serious but most think it's a joke. You never do. You never laugh when I'm serious. It's refreshing."


The pair could hear the house start to stir. Fred stood up and held his hand out to Hermione. She took it and allowed him to pull her up. Just when she had stepped toward the house Fred grabbed her around the waist and pretended to throw her into the pond.


"Not funny!" Hermione giggled, wiggling out of Fred's arms.  


"It was funny to me!" Fred laughed, comically imitating Hermione's reaction.


"Are you going with Mr. Weasley today?" Hermione asked as they headed back to the leaning house.


"To pick up Harry? Yeah, we can't wait to get a peek at that fat cousin of his!" Fred seemed a little too excited for his own good.


"Can you do me a favor?" Hermione asked slyly.


"And what would that be?" Asked Fred, picking up what she was laying down.


"You can't tell anyone I'm asking you to do this, not even George."


"Not a word." The corners of Fred's mouth seemed to be absorbed by his ears.


"Can you give the Dursleys a good fright? Nothing too dramatic. Just enough to remind them that Harry has the power to make their lives miserable but chooses not to." Hermione's eyes began to bear the twinkle that nearly always inhabited Fred's.


"It would be to my great honor to fulfill this noble task of yours." Fred took a deep bow and retreated into his room.


--


As the leprechauns danced over the golden stadium, Bagmans voice boomed out  next to them, announcing the Bulgarian mascots.


Hermione  could faintly hear Mr. Weasley mutter “veela” through the roar of the crowd. She looked down onto the field and her eyes immediately rolled up in exasperation. Hermione willed herself to look to her right to view the reactions of the boys next to her. Harry had begun to climb up on the wall of the box and Ron assumed the position of a diver. Hermione looked past them to see the rest of the Weasleys similarly entranced.  Fred, however, took his eyes from the dancing creatures and turned to look at Hermione down the row of chairs. The smile that was already on his face widened and the twinkle returned right before a wink trapped it in. Fred then turned back to the field and continued to watch the spectacle.


--


The band of Gryffindors headed up the staircase in excitement, buzzing about Dumbledore’s announcement of the Triwizard Tournament. Fred and George had already began hatching their plan to bypass the age restriction.  “‘... Dumbledore’s trying to stop us giving our names.’” said Fred optimistically, that twinkle shining a little too brightly in his eyes.


“‘People have died though!’ said Hermione in a worried voice” looking directly at Fred. “‘Yeah,’ said Fred airily, ‘but that was years ago, wasn’t it? Anyway, where’s the fun without a bit of risk?’”
(Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling , page 190)


Hermione was a bit wary of the twins’ thirst for danger.


--


“Have homework already?” Fred asked sliding in on her right.


“No.” Hermione responded, her eyes never leaving the book in front of her.


“It’s barely the first day back. What’re you doing in the library so soon?” he asked, leaning over her shoulder to get a peek at her book. “House elves? You’re still on that?” George had sat down across from Fred with a large stack of books.


“It’s
slave labor!” Hermione gasped. “I am going to put an end to it!”


“Well good luck with that!” snorted George.


“And what is that supposed to mean?” Hermione tutted stubbornly.


“House elves have been working for wizards for centuries. It’s in their nature. I mean they’re called house elves for Merlin’s sake!” explained Fred.


“I’m not trying to get them to stop working. I’m merely trying to get them pay and vacations and sick leave.” Hermione protested.


“Like I said, good luck with that. Many wizarding families have been using the same line of house elves for centuries. Their great-great-great grandparents were served by their house elf’s ancestors. That’s how the world works,” argued George.


Hermione turned to Fred, “Didn’t you just tell me  last year that it’s people like me that change the world?” Fred’s cheeks flushed red, “That’s what I’ll have to do then; change the world. These creatures deserve equality!”


“We’ll be rooting for you then.” George said sarcastically, getting up from the table.


“What’re you two doing in here anyway? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in here before.” Hermione said, getting a bit nosey.


“And that, Miss Granger, is none of your business.” there was that twinkle.


--


Hermione rushed into the hospital wing, attempting to cover  her growing teeth, that of which now surpassed the last button on her sweater.  Madam Pomfrey rushed away from Fred, who had a magically caused rash running down the side of his face, and to Hermione’s side.  It was not long before Madam Pomfrey was holding up a mirror telling Hermione to let her know when her teeth were back to normal.


“Now Miss Granger, how do they feel?” Madam Pomfrey asked, inspecting Hermione’s newly shrunken teeth.


“A bit sore.” she admitted.


“Alright. You’re good, just stay away from breads and meats tonight at dinner. Go ahead and stay here for another hour and we will see how you feel then.” with that she returned to mend Fred’s face.


Three beds over from Fred, Goyle was moaning as the boils on his nose continued to grow. Madam Pomfrey was soon forced to attend Goyle, completely annoyed by his melodramatic whining. Fred walked over and joined Hermione, sitting  next to her on the bed.


“That’s quite a lovely smile you’ve got there. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed how straight your teeth are.” twinkle twinkle.


Hermione blushed, “I may have let Madam Pomfrey shrink them a little more than back to their normal size.” She admitted never moving her eyes from her hands.


“So how’d this happen to begin with?”


“Malfoy” Hermione growled.


“That little git.”  Fred seemed honestly annoyed.


“What makes it worse  is that Snape took 50 points from Gryffindor for it!”  Hermione exclaimed exasperated.


“Shocker.”  Fred responded raising his eyebrows.


“So what happened to your face? Weasley Wizards Wheezes gone ary?” Hermione chuckled.


“You could say that.”  Fred laughed sheepishly.


“Do you take pride in being such a mysterious character?” Hermione  marveled.


“Am I mysterious? I feel like you can see right through me .”


Hermione laughed, assuming  it was  making a classic  Fred Weasley joke.  However, she looked up not to see him smiling.


“I’m serious Hermione. You’re so brilliant; I feel like you know everything. I have no invisibility cloak with you.” Fred looked up from his hands and into Hermione’s chocolate eyes. She searched desperately for that twinkle but it was nowhere to be found. It took Hermione a few moments to realize she was staring quite deeply into Fred Weasley’s eyes. She blushed and turned away, unable to look at him. Fred, however, did not avert his eyes from Hermione’s embarrassed figure.


“Mr. Weasley, come back over here please.” Madam Pomfrey called. Fred finally took his gaze from Hermione and walked back to his own bed.


Hermione watched as Madam Pomfrey smeared a smelly ointment on Fred’s face.  “Miss Granger you may go.”


Fred watched as Hermione ran from the hospital wing. What the bloody hell just happened?


--


“What’re you looking for?” George asked, watching his twin scan the Gryffindor table  for the fifth time.


“Nothing.” Fred looked into his potatoes, unaware that his search was noticeable.


At that moment, Ron sat down across from the twins. Fred looked around for his usual companion. George observed  Fred, realizing what he had been looking for.


“Where’s Hermione?” George asked, aiding his brother.


“The hospital wing I suppose.” Ron brushed off.


Fred looked thoroughly confused but no one thought to ask. Instead Ron piped out, “What happened to your face, Fred?” he asked, eyeing the rash that was covered by some slimy looking gloss.


Fred’s mood immediately changed, “None of your business!” his usual smirk was back.


Ron shook his head and shoved his face full of chicken.


--


“Oh shit!” George blurted out, the Daily Prophet in his hands. George looked around him at Fred and Ron and immediately regretted speaking.


“What?” Fred and Ron asked simultaneously.


Ron grabbed the paper from George’s hand and two words immediately popped out of the page at him. Hermione Granger. Ron began to read aloud an article written by Rita Skeeter, claiming Hermione to be Harry Potter’s on true love.


Both Ron and Fred wore expressions of sheer anger and disbelief; yet, neither of them noticed the other’s perturbation. George sat between his two brothers with the frightening realization that there was soon to be an unspoken competition between the two. Both were in love with the same girl and neither of them realized it yet.  There was no way that this could end well.


--


Hermione and Harry sat at a table in the library completely surrounded by books. They sat two tables over from the twins who were similarly surrounded. Fred and George  had their heads pushed together and hovering over a piece of parchment, George writing with his  right hand and Fred with his left.


“So in order to accomplish a Summoning Charm you must demonstrate a necessity for the object you are summoning. Harry… Harry?” Hermione looked up to a distracted Harry. She followed his gaze to a busily working Fred and George. “It’s pretty amazing how that worked out, isn’t it?”


“How what worked out?” Harry asked, clearly confused.


“Because Fred is left handed  and George is right handed they are able to write on the same parchment simultaneously. Do you think they were born like that or they did that on purpose?” Hermione marveled.


“Fred and George? I think they were born like that. I mean, it’s Fred and George.” Harry said as if it were an obvious piece of information hiding behind a rather large door.


Fred could feel eyes on him. Instead of looking to his left to see Harry and Hermione observing his working process, he looked directly up to see Viktor Krum reading a rather large book upside down. “Hey George,” He whispered, nudging his twin, “Looks like Krum’s taken too many bludgers to the head huh?”


George looked up at Krum, “Yeah, Fred, I don’t think he’s actually reading.”


Fred looked back at Krum and followed his gaze. Krum was watching Harry and Hermione study. “What do you think he’s doing, keeping marks in his competition?” Fred asked George.


“Possibly,” George returned to his work.


--


Fred looked over at Hermione, who was digging her fingernails into her cheeks.  He grabbed her hand and pulled it away from her face. “Hermione, relax. He’ll be fine.” her nervousness nearly made him want to laugh.


“He doesn’t know what he’s doing.  I’ve been helping him with summoning charms all week.” her voice was shaking.


“Exactly! You’re brilliant. With your help, the great Harry Potter could do anything. Besides, Charlie is down there to make sure the dragon doesn’t kill him.” This time Fred actually laughed.


“WHAT?! I didn’t even think of that! Ohhh.” Hermione sank down in her seat and threw her hands back up to her face.  


“Hermione!” Fred comforted in a soothing voice, sitting down next to her. “Harry will be fine.” he paused, then pulled her hands away from her face again, holding them in his own.  “I promise.”


Hermione finally began to relax. The pair stood up, Fred keeping one of his hands around Hermione's for her to squeeze.


As Fred had predicted, Harry was quite successful in the first task - pulling ahead in first place.


--


Hermione burst from the Champions' tent, tears flowing endlessly down her face. "Hermione, Hermione! What's wrong?" Fred asked, his voice drenched in worry.


Suddenly, without the tears ebbing, Hermione's lips turned up in a smile. Fred was utterly confused and it showed on his face. "The boys!" She exclaimed, "they made up!"


"Well it's about time!" Exclaimed the twins at once. With that they both put an arm around Hermione and brigaded up to the castle, full of excitement and tears (in Hermione's case).


--


While everyone was marveling at the horrible sound Harry's egg had made, Fred leaned over to Hermione with a tray of pastries and offered her a jam tart. Hermione eyed him suspiciously. Fred grinned and explained that he hadn’t tampered with them but noted that she should be wary of the custard creams.


Fred laughed as Neville, who was sitting next to him, spat out the bite he had just taken out of a custard cream. Fred commented that it was just a joke.


Hermione had taken a jam tart, still eyeing Fred suspiciously. She then asked Fred if he had gotten all the food from the kitchens.


Fred grinned at Hermione, giving his best imitation of a house elf. Hermione attempted to keep her voice casual and innocent as she asked Fred how to get to the kitchens. He quickly explained without thinking of her motives, but stopped immediately. It was his turn to eye her suspiciously and ask why. "Nothing," said Hermione quickly. 


George, overhearing the conversation, was not pleased and added his two cents, warning her not to put them off cooking. The seriousness of George's comment was broken as Neville burst into a canary. Fred laughed and quickly apologized as Neville molted back into his normal form.


Hermione smiled. Even though she disapproved she was slightly impressed by the complexity of the transfiguration involved on their invention.


(This scene takes place immediately after the first task)


--




“Fred, you’ve been watching her for an hour! Don’t be a prat, just get up and ask her!” George whispered harshly to his brother.


The twins were sitting  in the library, two tables away from Hermione, who was completely immersed in her potions text.  Fred turned to look at George, his face painted with fear.


“Oh, c’mon Fred! You’ve never been afraid to talk to a girl in your life. Why now?” George knew the answer but was hoping that Fred didn’t.


“Because she’s Hermione bloody Granger.” he whispered exasperatedly.


“So?”


“She’s scary!”  Fred turned back around in his seat to look at Hermione.


“Oh just get on with it then,” said George, getting annoyed.


At George’s words, Fred stood up determinedly. He hadn’t even taken a step before he was watching none other than the famous Viktor Krum stand awkwardly before her.


Hermione looked up from her studies, slightly surprised. Fred watched as Hermione looked at Krum in confusion then awkwardly smiled and nodded. Fred sat back down, both confused and angry.


--


Fred asked the Ron and Harry if they had found dates for the Yule Ball, masking his true intentions.


Fred promptly told Ron to hurry up and get one after he responded with a negative. Then he announced that he’d be going to the ball with Angelina Johnson, a statement that Ron did not believe. Turned out, he hadn’t even asked her yet. Fred shouted at Angelina from across the common room, asking her.


Angelina gave Fred an appraising sort of look, gave Fred a positive answer then turned back around and continued her previous conversation with a smile spread across her face.


Hermione looked back at Fred, who was continuing his conversation with Harry and Ron. Hermione noticed that he didn’t look as happy as he should have; and she couldn’t explain the uneasiness  she felt surrounding the situation.


(This scene is based on a scene on page 394 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling)


--


“Don’t worry. You’re not being punished,” said George as the twins led Ron and Hermione out of the library.


“What does she need us for then?” Ron asked.


Fred and Hermione remained unresponsive, the latter of which just beginning to figure it out. George shrugged his shoulders. The three Weasleys and Hermione headed down the corridor in absolute silence. Fred and George walked Hermione and Ron in, curious as to why they were being summoned.


“Thank you Messrs. Weasley. That’ll be all,” McGonagall gave them a look telling them to get out.


They hesitated before leaving. After shutting the door, Fred promptly knelt down and pressed his ear to the keyhole. George watched him in anticipation, waiting for an explanation. Fear rose in the pit of George’s stomach as all color vanished from Fred’s face. He was as white as a sheet and began to perspire rapidly. Fred pulled his ear from the door and began walking back down the corridor, George in his wake. They did not speak until Fred had stopped, his toes wetted by the edge of the Black Lake.


“What is it Freddie?” Fred didn’t answer. “What did you hear?”


“Next we should create ears that allow you to listen through doors,” Fred responded, avoiding the question. George did not respond.  “They are going into the lake,” Fred finally answered.


“Who is?” George asked.


“Ron and Hermione. Harry has to retrieve Ron while Krum has to Hermione.” George’s stomach sank. “What if they can’t find them, George?”


George looked at Fred and saw a single tear escape the confines of his orange lashes.


--


George watched his twin throughout the second task. He had never seen him so afraid. Usually danger like this excited him. His lack of excitement told George that it wasn’t Harry or Ron he feared for, but the bushy haired girl who he had not yet realised his love for.


Fleur Delacore was the first to surface, but empty handed. Next was Diggory, Cho Chang clutching his neck desperately. Then came Krum, and a exhale of relief from Fred, with Hermione swimming along-side him. Fred did not stay put to watch for Harry. As soon as Hermione climbed onto the deck, Fred rushed toward her with a towel and a face full of worry. Hermione looked up at him confused, “Was this task too frightening for the danger-loving Fred Weasley?” she bantered.


“With you in that water, yes.” Fred made no attempt to conceal his gratitude for her surfacing as he wrapped his long arms around her, squeezing her tightly.


--


Hermione watched the twins from across the common room, curious as to what they would come up with next. George watched Fred anxiously as he read; Hermione assumed the papers in his hands were plans for the next great joke. She however changed her mind as Fred stood up and slammed the papers onto the table he was sitting at and stormed out of the common room. She had never seen Fred so outwardly angry so she decided to investigate. She got up from her seat and followed him out the portrait hole. She made sure to keep her distance as she trailed behind him across the grounds, finally approaching him as he crouched beside the lake.  


“Fred?” she asked hesitantly.  The air around him was being disrupted, a sign that Hermione knew to mean he was unconsciously emitting great amounts of magic.


He did not look up. Hermione walked around his slumped form in order to kneel before him. She made sure she was breathing evenly before she placed her hand on his shoulder. Soon he was breathing in time with her slow deep breaths.  Finally he looked up, staring directly into her eyes.  


“How much of it is true?”


Hermione immediately knew what he was referring too. He had been reading Rita Skeeter’s article in Witch Weekly back in the common room. “Just the quotes from Viktor,” she answered.


Fred’s eyes narrowed, still not breaking contact with Hermione’s.  That was the part he was hoping to be untrue. “What did you tell Krum?” He made no effort to disguise the anger in his voice.


“I never responded.”


--


Hermione rushed into the hospital wing, holding her boil covered hands out in front of her.


“Goodness Miss Granger what has happened to your hands?” Madam Pomfrey fussed.


“Undiluted bubotuber pus,” she answered, trying to remain calm.


“Why in Merlin’s name were you handling undiluted bubotuber pus without protective gloves?” Madam Pomfrey asked in a chastising tone.


“Someone sent me a nasty letter full of it,” the tears spilled from Hermione’s eyes as Madam Pomfrey poured a sweet smelling clear liquid over her hands. Steam rose from the boils, emitting a salty odor.


“You should be careful opening your mail, especially after that article,” this comment, however, did not come from Madam Pomfrey. Hermione looked over to the bed next to her to see Fred Weasley sitting there, sporting scorch marks across his face.


“Why is it that whenever I’m in here you are too?” Hermione asked.


“Oh I’m a regular,” Fred laughed. To this comment Madam Pomfrey was not too pleased. She lectured Fred about how he should be more careful as she bandaged up Hermione’s swollen hands. Hermione watched Fred as he mouthed Madam Pomfrey’s exact words, clearly having been given this speech countless times before. It took all of Hermione’s effort to contain her laughter.


--


Hermione sat at her usual table in the library, aggressively thumbing through books on magical concealment. She let out an angry huff as she slammed the last book shut.


“What’s got your panties in a twist?” George chuckled beside her.


She looked up to see the twins on either side of her, “Rita Skeeter!” she hissed a little too loudly and promptly got a look from Madam Pince that told her to keep it down.


“Still steaming over that article?” Fred asked, malice in his voice.


“Not so much the article but how she got the information. She quoted Viktor after the second task; but she’s supposed to be banned from the grounds isn’t she?” Hermione looked from Fred to George and then back, hoping one of them would have the answer to all her troubles.


Fred lifted one of her books and set it back down. “You’re going about this the wrong way?”


“How do you mean?” she asked hopefully.


“Well, you should find out how the last person that got into Hogwarts undetected did it,” Fred said simply.


Hermione immediately thought of Sirius but said nothing, knowing the twins were not aware of the circumstances surrounding Harry’s godfather. Yet, without her saying a word, the twins saw that familiar light shine in her eyes that only did when she had the answer. She leapt up from her seat quickly and rushed to the records section of the library, giving the twins a quick “Thank you.”


--


Hermione and the Weasleys all wished Harry luck as he got up and followed Bagman out of the Great Hall.  Five minutes later they followed suit and made their way down to the quidditch pitch. They took their seats halfway up the stands. Harry waved to them as Bagman introduced the four champions. On either side of Hermione sat Ron and Fred. At Bagman’s whistle, Harry and Cedric rushed into the maze. Hermione reached down and grabbed Fred’s hand subconsciously. She looked over to Fred who did not look back at her but smiled. She looked at those around her who were watching the maze nervously and did not seem to notice that her and Fred’s hands were intertwined.


Soon came the first red spark, signaling a champion was in trouble.  Hermione gasped and grabbed Ron’s hand as well. She held the brothers’ hands tightly, her pulse beating in her own.


--


Fred stood in the entrance hall, watching as Viktor Krum lead Hermione through the crowd. Without thinking, he followed but stopped at the edge of the crowd as Krum and Hermione broke free from the cluster of students. Fred’s heart dropped into his colon as he watched Krum hand Hermione a scrap of parchment and place a swift kiss on her cheek. Fred walked away, angry, trying not to image what was written on the paper Hermione clutched in her hand.


Freds stomach remained on the fritz until boarding the Hogwarts Express, where he would enjoy numerous games of exploding snap and much laughter with the trio. During their journey, Fred found great difficulty in not noticing the closeness of Hermione to him on the seat. He could feel her warmth cast over him and disperse into his soul, his body absorbing her energy longingly. It was in this moment that he realised his unexpected love for the bushy haired girl


--


AN: Let’s just all take a moment to appreciate the fact that one of the scenes used can be found on page 394!


I hope you enjoyed. Again I apologize about the wait. I post this with much anticipation so please let me know what you think. I am dying to hear what you liked/didn’t like. Ask questions if you have any, because I have answers. With Love Always, DahliasQuill.



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