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26 January 2008 @ 07:27 pm
Just In Case - T - One Shot  

Title: Just In Case
Author:
atruwriter
Genre:
Angst/Romance
Rating: T
Images: Banner and chapter image made by Jeanie of The Dark Arts!
Summary: Late one night, Fred seeks Hermione out with the need to speak honestly about the happenings of war. He has but one regret he doesn't wish to die with and Hermione is just the person to help him. FHr OneShot
Disclaimer: I own nothing! 





Just In Case

by: atruwriter

1/1

She was reading when it happened. Not exactly the setting she thought would surround her when something so surprising and eye opening occurred, but that was the case and there was nothing she could do about it. She supposed it was really quite expected, given that her books weren't often that far from her hands. She was into the thick tome so much that she hadn't even noticed his presence. The rest of Burrow was quiet; everyone else had long past gone to bed. She'd be leaving soon. Not much longer until she'd be on a quest that could very well end badly. Who knew she'd go away to a magical school and end up becoming part of a group that would strive to take down the darkest wizard of her time? Certainly not her or her parents, or the Grangers would most definitely not have allowed her to go to Hogwarts at all. She didn't regret it, however. Despite the many injuries and mind boggling fear and the fact that each morning she woke up hoping, “Please, not today.” She did not regret it. Magic had given her something. Had filled a hole she'd long known was open and gaping. It had given her a place to fit and a purpose in life. Harry needed her, Ron needed her, the Wizarding world needed her. Perhaps that was arrogant. She wasn't their savior, she was just the resident bookworm aiming to help in anyway she could.

So while the habitants of the Burrow slumbered, she worried and read and researched all that she could. What she was looking for, she wasn't quite sure. Anything, really. Something to help. Despite her strong standing and certainty that she was going on this journey and she would do her best, that fear was ever present. She was just a girl. A seventeen year old girl. She hadn't even finished school, for Merlin's sake. But she would do it, because somebody had to make sure those two lugs did it right. They weren't stupid, no, but they could be very mule headed that was for certain.

The flickering fire was surely bad light, but she didn't want to be a nuisance and light any other candles. She didn't want the light spilling out into the halls and have anybody come down to tell her that she should really be in bed. “Don't worry yourself, dear,” Mrs. Weasley would say. But it wasn't that easy. She couldn't just not worry. It was a requirement. It happened on its own and it couldn't be erased with the simple hope of a poor woman who only wanted her family to live a life of freedom. She was compassionate, nervous and worrisome over even those who weren't her own, and Hermione loved her for that. But Molly Weasley had no idea what kind of mission she was about to go on and the heavy weight on her shoulders because of it.

“Interesting book, Granger?” asked a deep but quiet voice.

Hermione turned abruptly, her eyes raising to see the lounging Weasley against the doorway. One of the twins, she knew. Despite the poor lighting, he had a lean about him. Rather arrogant, somehow mischievous, and completely friendly in a suspicious way. “What are you doing up?” she queried, closing her book though her finger held her place. She rose from the floor, moving forward to get a better look at him. He smiled at her and she noticed that it seemed more nervous than usual. Fred, she decided. He always did speak to her a little more than his quieter twin, George.

“Couldn't sleep,” he said with an easy shrug of his shoulders. He didn't ask her why she hadn't gone to bed and she silently appreciated that. “What're you reading?”

Hermione looked up at him with a furrowed brow. He wasn't usually so inquisitive about private things. He usually left her to her own devices. Once and a while he spoke to her about everyday life, but nothing that really had anything to do with each other personally. She supposed it was a natural reaction for somebody who was the older brother to her best friend. It wasn't as if they spent serious amounts of time together, though they did see quite a bit of each other given the state of things. He was part of the Order now and, obviously, a part of the Weasley family. Even outside of her friendship with Ron, Molly treated her as if she were on of her own and she appreciated the effort of the fawning woman. The other brothers she didn't know as well. Outside of Ron and Ginny, she supposed Fred and George were the next closest. They had their own lives though, and it didn't usually have anything to do with her. Pranks and mischief weren't her forte and while she admired their brilliance at times, she wasn't exactly cut out for their lifestyle. And so they kept to their separate niches, her a studious bookworm who aimed to keep the world running outside of chaos, and he an intelligent mischief maker who loved to bring laughter to a dreary world.

“Nothing particularly special,” she replied, lifting her shoulders.

“Hermione Granger finding any book not particularly special,” he said, his voice tinged with mocking.

Hermione rolled her eyes, lifting her nose slightly and pinching her lips. “Can I help you with something, Fred, or have you only come to distract me?”

He didn't reply right away, instead staring at her with an intensity that didn't match with his usual funny-man routine. It wasn't that of a boy who was going to do something to make himself laugh. There was no glint of laughter in his eyes. Instead, there seemed to be a flicker of resignation, and that worried her some. He swallowed rather strained before moving past her to sit on the couch and she took that as a bid for her to follow. He apparently had something on his mind that he needed to share and she couldn't help but wonder what he could possibly have to say to her.

“I'm nineteen and I'm about to be ensconced in war,” he said, his voice riddled with a shock she thought had long since passed for many. He sat with his elbows on his knees, leaning forward, the weight of his words sitting heavy on his shoulders. The flickering fire left his face shadowed and she was surprised to see such seriousness in a boy she had grown to think of as rather invincible. “Don't get me wrong, I knew it was coming. How could anybody not? But... I suppose I hoped it wouldn't.” He let a small smile out, his eyes down and his brow furrowed. “It's so close that I feel like I should have my wand permanently charmed to my hand.” He shook his head, his jaw clenching. “I want to be a part of it. I couldn't forgive myself if I wasn't. If I just let my parents and the Order do it all and hoped for the best... I mean how cowardly and un-Gryffindor could I get?” He snickered, shaking his head, his shaggy red hair shifting around with the jerky movement. “But... I'm nineteen,” he reiterated. He turned to look at her, his usually laughing green eyes firmly worried and uncertain.

“I know,” she said, her voice quiet.

He stared at her a moment before nodding. “You would.”

She sat in silence for a moment, watching as he simply sat and let his eyes take her in entirely. She felt as if he were memorizing her. Like his eyes were taking in every curve and dip, every strand of bushy hair and filing it away for later thought. She found herself doing the same. His fringe fell across his forehead, just long enough for the tips to reach his eye lashes, which she found were dark and framed his eyes in a way she'd never taken the time to really admire. He didn't have as many freckles as his siblings, other than George. They were less pronounced unless up close and the shadows left them almost invisible. He had a strong jaw, and a mouth that had a curve to it almost naturally, as if waiting to smile. Her gaze wandered down to his shoulders, reminding her that he wasn't built much like Ron or Bill, but more like Charlie. He was shorter, but still taller than her, and stockier in form. He had wide shoulders leading down to toned arms and a fit body. He wasn't nearly as muscular as his older brother, but he wasn't lanky like Ron. She decided she liked his eyes the most, a startling green that could be both friendly and serious. There was something behind them, an intelligence that mingled with the mischief.

While she didn't know Fred as well as Ron, she knew that he was fiercely loyal and loved his family to a fault. His most treasured joy in life was laughter and the most important person was undoubtedly George. They were two peas in a pod; two halves fitting together like only twins could. He was smart and when he wanted something, he got it. He worked hard when it was something he desired, the joke shop a case in point, and he looked at life in a way that she never quite could. He saw it as being a journey of enjoyment, something to find the best in. She, on the other hand, considered it more as something to be worked at. They had their differences, but she didn't like him any less than any of the other Weasleys. Perhaps she liked him a little more, because he had the ability to see something great in the world, even when it was lacking.

“D'you think our fear has to do with the idea of dying or living?” he wondered, lifting a brow and breaking the silence that had her contemplating him more than she ever had in the past.

“What d'you mean?” she asked, frowning.

“Are we afraid to live in a different world, with no idea if it will be better or worse, or are we scared that we'll die for the unknown?” he elaborated. “And should we live, will we have anyone there to share it with?”

She couldn't help the crease of surprise that slipped between her brows. She hadn't ever thought she'd wax philosophical with the likes of Fred Weasley. “I suppose it's a little of both,” she began, shaking her head slightly. “After all, we're willing to fight for the unknown so we must be willing to die for it. But the uncertainty is what leaves us with that fear. We aren't sure if we're really willing to die until that moments comes, right? We want to go in with hopes high and a certainty to ourselves that we'll win, but nothing is ever that simple. We can have hope and we can believe in ourselves and each other but we can't see the future.” She smiled briefly, “Or at least I don't believe we can. I don't quite trust the likes of Trelawney.” She shook her head, sighing heavily. “We're fighting in the hopes that the world created out of our victory will be better than what we're living in, but we must be prepared for our own demise in such a cause. It's inevitable that some, perhaps many, will die. No where is it written that it won't be us and that's what makes the cause that much more.”

“Because it must be worth it or we wouldn't risk so much,” he said, nodding.

“Yes. If this weren't so important, if it didn't mean the lives of more than just ourselves, but our friends, family, and children, then we wouldn't be worrying. We wouldn't be readying ourselves for fighting and loss and death. Our own or those close to us.” She smiled sorrowfully, shaking her head. “We can only hope for the best, Fred. We can't let the fear swallow us or... or it wins.”

“There will always be fear,” he murmured, frowning. “After Voldemort, there will be something or somebody else.”

“Of course. There must be a balance. Between good and bad, happy and sad. Nothing can be perfect all the time. Otherwise...” She looked up at him, letting out a soft breath. “Your pranks and the laughter they bring, they wouldn't be as great if they happened continuously. It's the surprise behind them. The shock of it happening. There's fear in that too. I can't say I haven't feared that I might be the next victim,” she admitted, wrinkling her nose. “But there's also a joy that comes from it. When it's done, the laughter and the amusement felt between the prankster and the pranked, that's why it's all worth it. They might not think it then, but they'll laugh later.” She frowned, “We can't give up, no matter what the future holds. We're afraid now, but for all we know, the next problem may not be as bad or perhaps it won't happen for who knows how long. The time in between, the knowledge that the world is saved for however long is enough, isn't it?”

Fred scowled. “I can't say at the moment I feel it is.” He turned his eyes away, gazing out the window to the dark yard. He licked his lips and clenched his jaw. “It's all right in theory, I suppose. But the knowledge that it's going to happen. That we don't know who will live and who will die, that's what bothers me. I can say that I'm ready. That I'm willing to fight and win and do all that needs to be done, but I can't say it'll be worth it if in the end I'm holding one of my brothers, dead in my arms, or...” He shook his head. “We're all so self-sacrificing, right? We're all saying we can do it and that we're ready for what's going to happen, but are we?” He turned, staring at her with shimmering eyes. “Are you ready to die, Hermione?”

She opened her mouth to tell him that yes, she was ready to do whatever it took. That she would face whatever came her way with a brave face and a strong will, but then she faltered. “I don't know, Fred. It would be a lie to say that I'm not afraid of death, or that I'd be okay with dying. I don't... I don't want to die. But...” She inhaled shakily, letting it out slowly as she gathered her thoughts. “We're fighting for life, aren't we? We're fighting for the right to live and be who we are. To go on in this world as it is or better. The idea of being afraid of dying is what makes it so fragile, so precious, so worth fighting for.”

He nodded jerkily, his eyes falling. “There's so much I haven't done though. So many places I haven't been, so many pranks I haven't pulled,” he admitted, chuckling slightly.

“Then there's something to look forward to,” she told him, reaching out to take his hand in hers. It was cold, clammy and shaking slightly in her grasp, which only made her hold it tighter. “You can fight for the right to go to Paris or Milan, to scheme with George over a spectacular prank on one of your brothers. You can rally simply for the idea that one day you'll be able to go where you want, live where you want, be whoever you want to be.” Her thumb stroked his hand without her prompting, but she didn't stop the rather tender display.

“And what if while I'm fighting, I lose?” he asked, his voice quiet in the silence of the room. “What if I never get to travel the world or open a second shop? What if I never prank anyone ever again? Or if I never... never tell...” He sighed, his eyes closing tightly. “What if I never get to tell the girl I fancy that she's brilliant and beautiful? Or convince her to give me a try, despite the fact that she thinks I'm only out to tease and torture her for laughter?” He gulped tightly. “What if... What if I'm the one that dies for the cause? That gets cradled in the arms of my brothers?” His voice was shaking and still so full of emotion that she was reminded that while he was made of laughter and mischief, he was still a boy about to go to war. He had doubts and fears and there was no reason to believe that he was invincible, because he was just as fallible as the rest of them.

Hermione paused, her hand tightening in his. She felt tears in her eyes and she blinked them away as best as she could. “You...” Hermione shook her head, her throat tightening. What gave her the right to tell him that he'd live a long life? That he'd persevere and make it through? He was right. He wasn't any more likely to live than the rest of them. She could hope and pray and believe that he'd live, just like all the rest that were close to her, but that wouldn't make it so. “I can't promise that you'll live, Fred. I can't tell you that we'll all walk away unscathed or that the world will turn around and become perfect. I can't be certain that either of us will live past tomorrow, let alone the war.” She bit her lip, her eyes tearing up once more. “But I can tell you that should you die, you won't be forgotten. You'll forever live in my memory as the amazing and brilliant wizard that you are. I can assure you that whether you live or die, I will know that you fought hard and you lived to the best of your abilities. There's nothing else that can be done, I'm afraid. The only certainties in war are that some will live and some will die, some will win and some will lose, and the process will repeat itself later, because the world will never be perfect. So we do what we can in the time that we have and we hope for the best.”

He nodded, his jaw tight against the shaking of his mouth. “If I die... I want... I'd like to...” He sighed, lifting his other hand to swipe at his face quickly. “Seems I left my dignity in my room,” he muttered.

“At least you know where it is,” she told him, trying to lighten the mood.

Fred cracked a small smile. “Since when are you funny?” he wondered teasingly.

“Not sure. You must have brushed off on me recently,” she replied, smiling softly. “What brought this up?” She wondered, her brows furrowing with thought.

He shrugged. “I was trying to sleep, found I couldn't, got to thinking and this is what came of it.” He smirked, “How d'you deal with all the serious thinking, Granger? It's bloody depressing.”

Hermione shook her head, lifting a brow. “Don't play dumb, Fred Weasley, you're anything but.”

He sighed, his mouth still slightly curved in a smile. “Well my pranks don't think themselves up,” he admitted.

Hermione rolled her eyes playfully, shaking her head. “Sometimes I wish they weren't thought by any, but then... I suppose one or two on Ron haven't been all bad.”

Fred snorted. “Have a vengeful streak in you, Granger?”

“Perhaps a small one,” she said, thinning one eye and half-smiling.

He nodded, amusement sitting lightly in his face. They sat in silence for a moment and she noticed he didn't let go of her hand so she didn't move away just yet.

“You know... I never really thought that you... I mean, I always sort of figured you were...” she stumbled.

“Fearless,” he offered, lifting a brow. She nodded, biting her lip. “Nobody's fearless. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others.”

Hermione frowned. She wondered how many others were afraid but had no one to speak to. “Why me?” she asked suddenly, turning to him. “You could've woken George or one of your other brothers. Why... Why would you ask me?”

He shrugged, turning his face away. “Well you're most brilliant witch of her age, it makes sense doesn't it?”

“You're not silly enough to put such weight in comments like that. Besides, brilliance and compassion are very different. For all you know, I could've simply told you to get a hold of yourself and left you to your fear,” she replied, shaking her head.

He snickered, shaking his head with something akin to amusement. “We may not be the closest, Granger, but I do know more than that you're intelligent.”

“I never meant--”

“I know,” he interrupted, staring down at the floor ahead of him. “D'you have any regrets?”

Hermione pondered the question a moment. “I suppose I have many. That I didn't spend more time with my parents, didn't get my seventh year, that this all couldn't have been avoided and I could've had a normal existence.”

“Normal? You,” he teased, though his voice was quiet and not quite as filled with mirth as usual.

She chuckled quietly. “I just mean that we should be living life like normal teenagers, you know? We shouldn't be worried about our schools closing or not seeing our friends again. We should be enjoying it to the fullest and looking forward to our futures. Instead, our futures are completely uncertain and there are so many questions surrounding everything that we're left feeling unfinished.” She quirked her head, her brow furrowing over the thought. Now that she thought about it, it was exactly how she felt. As if pieces of her were missing, like she'd skipped over a great deal of things and there was no certainty she'd ever be able to enjoy them. “What are your regrets?”

Fred turned to look over at her, that nervousness back in his face. “I spent so much time avoiding the fact that eventually my carefree life was going to come to a halt that I never quite worked toward the things I could have.” At her furrowed brow, he elaborated. “I love my life. I love that I have a joke shop and that my career involves making people laugh, even if I'm not there to enjoy it. But... I guess I took for granted the time I had.” He shook his head, his chin dropping slightly. “There's a girl I fancy. She's beautiful and brilliant and she is probably the complete opposite of me in most ways. But she's compassionate and loving and she sees the world as a place she can fix, rather than just a place she has to put up with. She ignores stigmas and when she doesn't believe something is right, she fights against it, even if it's against her nature to cause trouble rather than follow.”

Hermione stared at him, her heat thumping a little faster. She wasn't certain who he was talking about, but she was suddenly a little out of breath with his admission.

He stared at her, green meeting brown, and she found all words escaped her. “I'm not her type and I'm pretty sure she fancies my brother, but I wasted all the time I have and I can't be sure that when everything is said and done I'll live. None of us can. I can't be sure she'll live or that she'll even return my feelings, but I know that I take risks when I probably shouldn't. That life is short and I can't lengthen it, only hope that I have another day or hour or minute.” He squeezed her hand in his, smiling at her in a rather gentle but nervous fashion. “If you weren't sure that you were going to live and you had the opportunity to take a risk and kiss the person you'd fancied for years, would you do it?” he asked her, reaching out to push the rabid curls that broke loose from her ponytail behind her ear.

Hermione found she couldn't quite speak and a million questions flashed in her mind. If she said yes, would he kiss her? Did she want him to? Maybe she was making something out of nothing and reading into something that wasn't really there. Before she could answer her own questions, she nodded yes to his. If she fancied someone and he was sitting before her, baring his soul, she'd take that risk, despite the possibility of rejection, wouldn't she? Death wasn't forgiving, she couldn't come back and make up for lost opportunities. Who was she to deny that he take what he could when he could?

He swallowed tightly, nodding slightly. “Did you know you have exactly nine freckles?” he asked her, though it didn't appear he wanted an answer as he continued. “And that when you get angry, your eyes light up and turn the shade of chocolate. Or that when you disagree, you tend to purse your lips. You also just your hip out when you're about to shout at somebody for something and you bite your lip when you're worried or upset. You cry at night when you think no one hears you and your hair has more personality than most people I know.” He smiled, shaking his head. “Sometimes I prank people just because I enjoy your reaction so much and it makes it that much more worth it.” He swallowed, his eyes falling. “We'd probably never last and I'm pretty sure that you and Ron are going to end up together, but... I've risked life and limb for a few fireworks, why shouldn't I risk absolute rejection for the last kiss I'll probably ever have?”

He had the most beautiful expression on his face that Hermione really thought she'd fallen asleep near the fire and was dreaming it all. He didn't wait for a reply, but instead leaned in, his eyes catching hers and holding them as he crossed the space between them. He stopped just millimeters from her mouth and her eyes fluttered before she closed the whisper of a breath between them and let his mouth slant across hers. His lips were softer than she expected, smooth and warm. Her nose brushed against his and she felt him sigh into her mouth. He held tight to one of her hands still while the other rose to palm her cheek, sliding up her face slowly to bury the tips of his fingers in her unruly curls. She felt her heart jump erratically and her body seemed to rise in temperature until she found herself warming and tingling all over.

His tongue ran the seam of her lips and she found herself opening her mouth to him, despite the fact that warning bells rang distinctly in her head. This was Fred Weasley, her practical mind told her, mischief maker and Ron's older brother. He'd said himself that living past the war was unlikely and he was doing this because regrets weren't something he wanted to have. If she could relieve him of at least one then she should, shouldn't she? She could blame it all on the fact that he could very well die and only wanted one kiss. He was a friend of sorts. Someone she cared about, surely. But she found herself not wanting to make excuses. She liked the way she kissed. She found herself melting into his embrace. His mouth moved delicately against hers. Tongues tangling, teeth grazing, lips meeting and caressing. He tasted faintly of butterbeer and smelled of freshly mown grass. That thought triggered something in her mind but before she could ponder it she felt his tongue do something shiver worthy to the roof of her mouth.

She lost herself in him. She wasn't sure how long it lasted, but eventually it slowed to a few slow, soothing kisses. Her breathing slowed down and her heartbeat became less frenzied. Her eyes drifted open to half lidded and watching as he stared at her with a fond amazement that she never thought she'd arouse in him. He licked his lips as he parted from her, sucking his bottom into his mouth for a moment as he stared at her. She leaned back, her face flushed and her mouth still tingling. There was an anxiousness building in her chest and she wondered what it meant and what was going to come of it.

Fred smiled, slow and reassuring. “Just in case, right Granger?” She stared at him quizzically, her brow furrowed. “If the worst should happen, I have one less regret.”

Hermione nodded slowly, biting her lip nervously.

“No expectations, love. I'm not asking you to wait for me or even holding out hope that when it's all over you'll look twice at me.” She opened her mouth to rebut, but he overlapped her. “Hey, no lie that was one of the single best moments of my life. But that's what I'm supposed to fight for, yeah? The chance to have it again. It may not be with you and your next may not be with me, but hope doesn't have a face, right?” He shook his head, lifting a hand to cup her cheek. “Live or die, I don't think I'll ever forget that.”

She chuckled lightly, the sound rather choked as her eyes filled with tears.

“None of that,” he told her, his thumb brushing away a bead of sorrow from her cheek. “You just kissed Fred Weasley, my brilliant witch, you should be celebrating.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “You think you're worthy of a party?”

“More than worthy,” he exclaimed, smirking.

“Oh Fred, you silly man.” She shook her head. His smile slowly melted self consciously, but renewed with her next words. “I can't very well have a party with everyone asleep. It'll have to wait until later. We'll have fireworks, I'm sure, because really, a celebration is nothing without those.”

“I'll be sure to bring them,” he assured, nodding. “Are you sending out invitations?”

“Of course!” Her eyes lit up with embellished excitement. “We'll give out goody bags in the end too. And I'll need a banner! Oh, but what will I write on it?” she wondered, her voice tinged with feigned worry.

“Congratulations Hermione On The Best Kiss of Your Life,” he offered, lifting a brow. “I'll have it made in Hogsmeade.”

Snorting, Hermione rolled her eyes. “Don't be so modest.”

Fred shrugged. “Well, you did participate, so it's not all on me.”

“I did quite well if I do say so myself. Perhaps it's you who should be having the party,” she replied cheekily, her face lighting up with her amusement.

Fred's smile softened. “Thank you.”

Hermione shook her head. “There's nothing to thank me for. It was a mutual kiss, we both enjoyed it, no regrets.”

“No regrets,” he reiterated, nodding.

There was a noise by the stairs drawing their attention and they turned to see George stumbling toward the kitchen. He waved a sleepy hand, running the other through his hair and muttering to himself.

“We should get to bed,” Hermione murmured, her smile slipping.

“Why Granger, I'm appalled! I'm not some cheap trollop!” he told her, feigning insult.

Hermione chuckled, rolling her eyes. “Oh please, you should be so lucky. We're going to bed; separate beds,” she emphasized, rising from the couch and hoping the blush on her cheeks wasn't noticeable in the dark room.

Fred followed her up, his hand finding hers and holding on as they climbed the stairs. She looked over at him from the corner of her eyes, surprised that he made such an obvious gesture but he didn't look back, simply swinging their hands between them as they made their way down the hall. As they stopped outside of Ginny's room, he shifted on his feet, suddenly nervous again. Hermione brushed her thumb over his hand and bit her lip. She felt somewhere in her chest that this was one of those moments that would have to be put to the back of their minds until the chaos around them had settled. She couldn't promise that in the end her and Fred would live let alone get together. She had Ron to think of. A boy she had fancied for some time. She couldn't exactly give up on that, could she? She didn't know. Her and Ron had never kissed and she felt somewhere that Fred's kiss was quite likely one of a kind, something that would never truly be trumped. She considered telling him so but found her tongue tied. She stared up at him, words tangled in her throat.

“Remember, no expectations,” he whispered, leaning toward her so only she could hear. “I won't hate you if ickle Ronniekins grows a pair.” He smirked at her frown. Nodding, his smirk turning into a soft smile. “I don't think I'm so afraid anymore,” he admitted. She looked up at him, surprised. “I mean, obviously, I'm still a little scared of what's going to happen, but...” He swallowed. “I can be happy with never having explored the world and knowing that whether or not I play another prank, I've played legendary ones in the past.” He stared at her fondly a moment. “You helped with the one regret that I think would've haunted me.”

Hermione blushed, her eyes tingling with tears once more.

“I hope I die laughing,” he shared, a grin appearing.

Hermione felt grim reality clench her heart. “I hope you don't die at all.”

He nodded, his head ducking slightly. “Goodnight Hermione.”

She swallowed tightly, feeling his hand slowly let hers go. She grabbed it tightly and tugged him back as he turned to leave. Her other hand reached out, landing over where his heart lay, palm pressed close enough to feel the thrum beneath. She reached up, standing on the tips of her toes, and pressed her lips against his. It was hard and demanding and she felt the tears break down her cheeks without remorse. He kissed back with the same intensity, his hand slipping into her hair and holding her against his mouth a moment longer. There was desperation and longing and she didn't want to stop when the need for air forced them apart. They stayed close still, their heavy breathing mingling together as they simply stood, staring at one another. She reached up, brushing away the tears that slipped out of his green eyes and brushed the pad of her thumb over his bottom lip, smiling lightly as he kissed it.

“Just in case,” she murmured, looking up at him sadly.

He nodded, swallowing tightly. She fell back onto her flat feet and reached back for the handle of the door. She examined his face in the darkness of the hall, memorizing it one last time. Those freckles, those eyes, those lips. He winked at her, smiling gently and she nodded her goodbye before slipping inside Ginny's room.

She quickly made her way to her bed, her stomach tightening and her throat burning. Burying her face in the pillow, she let it soak up her silent tears. She fought hard against the clenching of her throat and let her body curl into itself as her stomach ached with the need to let her sorrow out. She never expected the events that followed his arrival in the room, but she knew it would be something she never forgot. He would be someone she could never dismiss or forget. He was ingrained in her now. Best kiss of her life indeed. She pressed a hand to her tingling mouth and fell asleep praying that whatever the war brought, it didn't take Fred Weasley with it.

End