Disclaimer: Everything belongs to J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros.
He Reminds Me
Professor Granger didn't look up from her writing as the boy stuck his sandy head through the door. Quill scratching incessantly across the page, she merely hummed in acknowledgement when he asked if he could come in. He strolled across her tiny room, slipping into the seat before her like he owned it. While his expression remained innocuously blank, his eyes took in the all too familiar sight of her office with open amusement.
Fifteen year old Walden McGregor of Hufflepuff had been called down to Professor Granger's office more times over the years than he cared to admit. Yes it had been a while but this little visit was nothing new.
They sat there in silence, the minutes ticking away as he stared at her and she continued to ignore him. It always started out like this. His dear professor had long ago come to the conclusion that it just wasn't worth it to stress over Walden too much, lest he drive her frizzy hair to an early grey. He'd once overheard her saying to Professor Longbottom that she liked to let him sit there, make him sweat. She thought it might have some sort of impact on him in a way her words did not. Professor Longbottom had thought it a good idea, he'd said the tactic had some merit. Walden thought the tactic was cute.
Humming to himself, the fifth year settled more comfortably into his chair and began to swing his feet absently. She clearly intended to keep him in for the long haul this time so he might as well relax a bit.
Time ticked on, as it often does. Walden was just beginning to really consider whether reaching for a handful of Bertie Bott's from the bowl on the edge of the professor's desk would land him in even hotter water when a soft chuckle caught his attention. Glancing sharply to the left, the Hufflepuff found himself face to face with the smirking portrait of a man.
It took Walden a few seconds to fully recognize who he was looking at, but when he did, he felt his chest burst with excitement.
Walden glanced surreptitiously at his professor. Her quill was still scribbling away.
He turned and grinned widely up at the painting.
The immortalized Fred Weasley grinned back.
X X X
Hermione knew without looking that Walden was up to something. She could feel him moving ever so slowly, just on the edge of her peripheral. She smiled to herself. Fred just couldn't help himself sometimes. Even from beyond the grave, he had to stir up trouble. When she'd called the young Hufflepuff down to her office, it had truly been with the intention to try and talk some sense into the boy for the umpteenth time. Walden had proven to have a willful streak a mile wide and Hermione knew that if he could just focus himself a little bit, he would achieve great things.
Very great things.
The key was actually getting him to focus on something that mattered.
Peeking out from under her lashes, quill still moving aimlessly across the page, she watched as Fred silently mouthed instructions to the boy, who was now attempting to quietly use his wand to draw out the rest of the jelly beans she'd stored in the cupboard just that morning. Wand twitching, brow furrowed and the barest whisper of a spell on his lips, Walden was intensely focused. And it was paying off.
Smirking as the bag specifically enchanted against thievery began to float low across the floor toward his seat, Hermione stopped writing, looked up and cleared her throat.
The poor kid jerked in his chair, concentration broken, and whipped around to face her. The bag of beans hit the ground with a resounding thud.
Hands folded demurely in his lap with his wand shoved hastily under his leg, he gave her a look of such wide-eyed innocence that she wanted to laugh out loud. Instead she simply raised an eyebrow, smirk still firmly in place.
A muffled snort rang out from the portrait to their left.
"Come now, 'mione. Even you have to admit that was impressive." The deceased redhead crowed.
"It certainly was." She granted.
"And do you know what else I find impressive Mr. McGregor?" She let her rhetorical question hang in the air for a moment.
"My impeccable taste in sweets?" the boy tried, a hint of a smile on his face.
"Well yes, but I was thinking more along the lines of your continued casual disregard for the rules." She wasn't going to cut him any slack, she told herself. Enough was enough. No matter how endearing she found his antics, Hermione had promised the Headmistress she'd really try to get him under thumb this time. She'd become very fond of her friendship with Minerva over the years and the last thing she wanted to do was disappoint her old teacher.
"Come on Professor, you know as well as I do that I was merely doing the student body a service." He insisted emphatically.
"And in what way is trying to traumatize an old man into retiring a service?"
"But he's just so old! Not even that, ancient, Professor he's ancient. I've never heard anyone speak so slow, ever, in my life. My brain practically starts bleeding every time he get's into one of his speeches. The man just drones on and on. It's torture! The sheer monotony, I just can't take it."
Privately, Hermione had to agree with him. It was a miracle in and of itself that Professor Binns was still living, let alone teaching. It was almost dreadful really. As the oldest living member of the Hogwarts staff, the man spent his days droning slowly on and on, living in a fog. His classes always ran late because he never seemed to be quite able to get to the point of whatever it was he wanted to say. The only time he perked up was when someone mentioned the possibility of retirement. And that was just so he could tell them "No, thank you".
X X X
Fred listened quietly as Hermione and the boy continued on in a battle of wits, neither willing to give the other much ground, but both clearly still enjoying the game. He knew that Hermione didn't feel half as harshly toward Walden as she was attempting to come across. Her fondness for him was all too easy to pick up in her eyes.
The young Hufflepuff left not long after with a bright promise of reform on his lips. Fred smiled to himself, not believing it for a second. He'd made the same oath time and again while he'd been alive, enough so to recognize the delightfully innocent look twinkling in the lad's eye.
Walden would definitely be back, it was only a matter of time.
Turning back to crack a joke to the lovely woman on his left, Fred was startled by the look on her face. Bittersweet smile gracing her features, she looked far more fragile in that moment than he'd ever seen her.
"...Are you alright 'mione…?" he asked confused. What had happened to make his bright witch so sad?
She turned kind but tired eyes up to him and swallowed, visibly steeling herself. Taking a deep breathe, she quickly looked away, shuffling the papers around her desk in a distracted gesture.
"I'm quite fine Fred, really." She paused, "I… no, no it's not important, think nothing of it." Shaking her head, Hermione rose to cross the room, clearly meaning to make a hasty retreat. "I think I'll just pop down to the kitchens for a bit, see if there's anything from lunch left."
She stopped. Biting his lip, Fred wished, not for the first time, that he wasn't confined to this wretched picture frame.
It took her a while to answer.
"He just…" she didn't turn around when she spoke, "He reminds me of you."
Glancing over her shoulder, Hermione shot him a rueful smile.
"He reminds me of you so much and suddenly it's like we're back in school again and you're right there in front of me and sometimes I just forget who I'm talking to." She finished in a rush. "That's all. Stupid really."
Fred felt his gaze burning as he stared softly back at her. They had never acknowledged their feelings for one another. Hadn't had the chance while he was alive and now… Well, sometimes she'd have this look in her eye as she'd throw her head back and laugh, his endless cheer warming the room on a rainy afternoon. Or sometimes he'd catch her staring when she thought he wasn't looking, taking him in. And on those late nights, with the fire roaring and a sense of peace in the air, sometimes on those nights Fred felt like there was something right there, on the tip of both their tongues. Yet they never gave it voice.
No they had never acknowledged their feelings.
Because it would never be enough.
But sometimes, in moments like these, when she'd look at him just like that and he smiles softly back at her…
In moments like these, he knew they didn't have to.
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