**Thank you all for reviewing, it makes me so happy to get them. :) I'm sorry that this chapter took me a little longer to do than the others, but I have finals this week and I just don't have a lot of time. The next chapter will probably take me a little longer to do as well.
Fred and George were sitting at the kitchen table peeling potatoes when Hermione came back inside. They glanced up at her simultaneously; taking in her damp, dirty clothes and her stringy hair. Her face was starting to pink; she had spent a great deal of time out in the sun today, and would probably be glowing later with a brilliant sunburn.
"What happened to you?" The twins asked in unison, "You look like you fell into a lake."
Hermione grimaced as she pulled a weed out of her hair, "a pond actually."
Fred and George smirked at her while they continued to peel potatoes. Hermione noticed that the kitchen was filled with bowls of potatoes and the table was covered with peels.
"What are you two doing anyway?" She asked raising an eyebrow.
"Well, it's a funny story about all of this..." Fred started but George cut in.
"It was funny till we got to the potato part of it."
"True," Fred agreed. "See, Percy was going out to meet some girl at the Leaky Cauldron this afternoon. And he was making such a fuss about his new robes. But you see Hermione, we don't think that Madame Malkin sized him right..." he looked at his brother with a wicked grin.
"They seemed a little too big for him. Percy is to busy working and he never eats enough." George tutted as he tossed a peeled potato into the bowl next to his leg.
"And we couldn't let Percy embarrass himself in front a soon to be girlfriend just because his robes didn't fit him." Fred handed George another potato as he spoke.
George slowly sliced the potato with a paring knife and started to shear the skin off in one long piece. Hermione knew that they were purposely dragging out their story for dramatic purposes. George pulled off the peel and grinned at her.
"So to save our dear brother from undue humiliation, we cast a shrinking charm on his robes."
"Right before he apparated." Fred added.
Hermione did her best to hold back a laugh and cast a disapproving glare at them. "Does it ever occur to you to leave Percy alone?"
Both twins looked aghast at her words. "Leave Percy alone?" They whispered.
"Are you crazy?" Fred exclaimed, "He needs us!"
"It is a constant battle to keep his ego from getting any more inflated!" George agreed, nodding at his twin.
"Percy came home right away after the...incident, little too late though I'm afraid." Fred said.
"We were shocked to see him wearing his under shorts and little else. I suppose we might have overdone the spell just a bit." George added. Hermione smiled as Fred and George tried to tell her that it was an accident.
"Mum was none to happy about it though, set us up down here, I have no idea what she's going to do with all these potatoes." Fred looked around them at the piles of naked potatoes.
"I hate potatoes," George grumbled.
Hermione just smiled at the twins, while she wouldn't tell them, she thought that they probably got what they deserved. They were constantly playing pranks on people. On the first day that she had arrived at the Burrow they had bewitched Ron's chess set. Ron hadn't been very happy about having his king turn into a tarantula when he had tried to checkmate Fred. Last night after dinner they had charmed Harry's glasses so that little polka dots would appear on them at odd intervals. They had spent an hour trying to convince him that he had come down with some obscure wizard disease. They had tested some new Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes products that were specially aimed at pets. Crookshanks had spent the first week a lovely shade of green. They had gotten to Hedwig this morning after breakfast. She wasn't very pleased with her new pink plumage, Pig, on the other hand, seemed delighted with his plaid print. Errol and Hermes had thus far gone unscathed because they constantly stayed near Mrs. Weasley. Now that Hermione thought about it, she seemed to be the only one in the Burrow who had gone prank free. There had been the tonic accident, but it had never been intended for her. Her forehead wrinkled slightly as she thought about it, trying to remember if they had pranked her.
"You know," she said softly, "I don't think you guys have tried to prank me this summer." She didn't want to say it, but she almost felt a little left out. It was as if there was some sort of Weasley initiation that she had somehow missed.
"Well it isn't like some of us haven't wanted to." Fred grumbled softly, giving his brother a slight glare. George just continued to peel a potato, pretending that he hadn't heard. Hermione mean while felt her face go very red, George had been protecting her. An awkward silence filled the kitchen as neither twin spoke. Hermione self-consciously twisted a strand of hair around her finger and noticed that it was filthy. She then remembered that all of her was filthy; she had fallen into a pond after all. The events of the day had been a little stressful thus far and a bath seemed like a lovely idea. She left the kitchen and passed the living room noticing that Harry was sleeping contently in an overstuffed armchair, his glasses askew. Slipping silently into the room, Hermione gently lifted them off his face and set them on a little table next to the chair. Smiling to herself she headed up the stairs, thinking about how pleasant it would be to sit in the bath and read her Arithmancy book.
An hour later she was back in the living room with Ron and Harry. Hermione was absent-mindedly petting Crookshanks as she read over Ron's essay for Professor McGonagall. Ron and Harry were engaged in a heated debate over Quidditch teams. Hermione now knew a good deal about Quidditch teams now due to her friends, but thinking about Quidditch made her think about Viktor. She didn't really want to think about Viktor; all in all she figured that things had worked out for the best. But the day's events had still been upsetting. Their picnic kept replaying in her mind. She didn't regret that their relationship had ended; it had to eventually. But his words still kept repeating themselves in her head. Especially concerning Ron. "What had he meant?" She asked herself not realizing that she was speaking out loud.
"Who meant what?" Harry asked. They had talked a little after her bath while Ron was upstairs getting cleaned up, but she hadn't gone into great detail over what had been said.
"Oh...nothing, just thinking out loud." She said handing Ron back his essay. "It's pretty good Ron, there were a few things that I'd change, but I marked those for you." It was a very obvious change of subject. Ron glanced at her quizzically but accepted his essay without a word. Neither boy seemed to feel up to pursuing it at the moment. It was very hot outside and they were all in a rather lackadaisical mood. Hermione laid back on the floor listening to Harry recount his adventures with the Dursleys. Dudley's exercise program sounded like pure torture. They were all in agreement that Harry had been lucky to get out when he had. He had just started to describe in rather exacting detail Dudley's exercise uniform, which consisted of different colored spandex when muffled voices started to drift in from the kitchen. Harry stopped talking and they all sat quietly listening while the muted voices started to rise.
"Is that the twins?" Harry whispered to Ron.
"Yeah," Ron nodded, "they've been like that for several days now."
"I thought they never fought." Harry said again cocking his head towards the doorway hoping to make out the intelligible voices.
"They usually don't. But Fred got back together with Angelina, again, and George doesn't approve. That's nothing new of course, but supposedly..." Ron leaned closer to the two of them, lowering his voice as he talked, "supposedly, George is involved with some girl now too, and it's Fred's turn to disapprove."
"Really?" Harry asked, "Who's the girl?"
"I'm not sure, they've both been really secretive about it." Ron leaned back against the sofa.
Hermione tried to look nonchalant, "do you know why Fred doesn't approve?"
"Nah, no clue. But I don't think that they would ever approve of anyone for each other." Ron answered. "They're both very picky. And can you really see either of them dating? They're practically joined at the hip. I'd feel sorry for any girl that tried to have a relationship with one of them. No wonder Angelina keeps breaking up with Fred. The twins should just marry each other." Ron and Harry broke into peals of laughter over this, but Hermione just frowned at them.
"Oh like you two can talk," she snapped. They both stopped laughing. Ron muttered something under his breath that sounded very much like "thanks mum", and started to fix his essay. But Harry was staring at her. His eyes widened a little with shock.
"Hermione?" He started to ask but she leapt to her feet and said something about needing to get a different quill and dashed up the stairs.
She sat silently in Ginny's room looking at nothing in particular. She wondered why Fred didn't approve. She also wondered why the idea that Harry and Ron might find out about George bothered her so much. She was dating Viktor anymore, she should be allowed to do what she wanted, why did she still feel guilty? More than anything, Hermione longed to be back at Hogwarts, everything seemed less complicated there; the Burrow was just one chaotic episode after another. At Hogwarts all she had to worry about were the classes and whatever nasty thing was trying to kill Harry that year. Sighing, she lay back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling. Her summers never use to be this stressful.
Supper that evening was rather quiet. Whatever truce that Fred and George had managed to reach that morning had been lost that afternoon. They sat opposite one another not looking at each other. Hermione was also very quiet; she didn't like the idea that part of the reason that they were fighting was because of her. Ron was reading a Quidditch magazine that had a prominent article about the Chudley Cannons and Harry was deeply involved in a conversation with Mr. Weasley. As always, Ron's father had insisted that Harry and Hermione sit near him so that he could ask them questions about life with Muggles. Harry was currently trying to explain computers to him. Mr. Weasley had already given up asking Hermione questions about dentistry. She had been rather untalkative that night. Which he had thought to be very disappointing indeed because he found drills to be rather interesting. Percy was also strangely silent. Hermione noticed that he seemed to look a little flushed; she imagined that he was still furious with the twins. After dinner Hermione helped Mrs. Weasley clear off the table. Not that there was a lot for her to do, cleaning is rather easy in the wizarding world, but it gave her a little time to avoid everyone else. But sooner than she would have liked, everything was clean and put away, with a deep sigh she went to find Ron and Harry. They were back in the living room playing chess. Ron grinned at her when she came in but Harry didn't look up from the board, he was desperately trying to find a way to last another round. Hermione curled up in the big armchair, pulled out her Arithmancy book and started to read. Ron glanced up at her as she sat there, a fire was blazing in the grate, it had been enchanted to not give off any heat since it was already warm inside. The light that it gave was making Hermione's normally deep brown hair a soft auburn color. It framed her face gently and she absent-mindedly tugged on a strand of it, twisting it around her finger. "She always bites her lower lip while reading." He smiled to himself as he looked at her.
"Check!" Harry said, his voice filled with glee. Startled Ron looked down at the chessboard. Sure enough Harry was very close to winning. Feeling the need for a victory Ron turned all of his attention back to the game.
"Check mate." Ron told Harry two moves later, smirking as Harry glared at his pieces.
"We were close this time guys." He muttered to them.
They stayed like that for quite some time. The room was full of contentment, the three friends together; they didn't need to talk. The peace was broken however when an owl flew in through the open door. It graciously dropped a letter into Harry's lap and flew right back out. Harry turned the letter over in his hands and smiled when he saw whom it was from.
"Snuffles," he told them.
Mrs. Weasley poked her head into the room, "who is that from dear?" She smiled warmly at them.
"Oh, it's mine," Hermione piped up quickly as she took in Harry and Ron's stunned faces, "it's a letter from..." she looked at the two boys hoping for some help but there was none forthcoming. "From Lavender." She settled upon a name and Mrs. Weasley seemed satisfied.
"We should go outside to read it I think." Harry whispered, "This house is full of Weasleys." Ron and Hermione nodded and got to their feet. They sneaked out of the house hoping to not catch the twin's attention. But as it turned out, the twins were already outside in the middle of a heated argument.
"So now she wants you back and just like that you go running to her? She'll only let you down again." George snapped at his twin.
"Would you get off Angelina? Like you have any business talking about letting someone down!" Fred retorted.
Hermione grabbed Harry and Ron and tried to pull them back; she had a sudden feeling that something bad was going to happen. She desperately wished that she were inside doing anything except this. But Harry and Ron were determined to eavesdrop and they pulled Hermione along with them, crouching behind some bushes only a few feet from Fred and George.
"We're not talking about her! We've already talked enough about her, you don't approve so what more should be said?" George glared angrily at his brother.
"Oh, so you can pass judgment on Angelina and I, but I can't say anything to you?" Fred growled. Hermione couldn't see his expression, his back was to them, but she figured that he was returning George's glare.
"What's going on with you and Angelina is completely different from what's going on with us." George muttered.
"Oh that's right," agreed Fred, "cause what you're doing is so much worse!"
Hermione felt a little dizzy, she knew that she had to get Harry and Ron away from this conversation. She tried to pull them back again but they just ignored her, paying rapt attention to the fight.
"There is nothing wrong with what I'm doing!" George yelled at Fred, flushing a deep crimson.
"Oh no, nothing wrong at all!" Fred furiously yelled back. "If you really believe that then why don't we go in and have a little chat with Ron? Why don't we go tell him that you've been going after the girl that you know he has a crush on? Let's go tell him that you kissed Hermione!" George took a threatening step towards Fred but Ron's voice cut in.
"I do not like Hermione!" He yelled coming out from the bushes, and then he paused, the true implications of what Fred had said were sinking in, "y...you kissed Hermione?"
Fred and George had both spun to look when Ron had yelled out. Fred looked desperately at his twin and then at Ron, Hermione could tell that he hadn't intended Ron to find out. Both twins just stood quietly looking at the ground. Ron spun to face Hermione.
"You kissed my brother?" He hissed at her. Hermione had never seen him so angry, his face was white, his voice was eerily calm. He stepped towards her but Harry moved in front of her.
"Ron," he said softly, "Ron you need to calm down."
"Calm down!" he hissed, "I won't calm down, not with a brother that can't be trusted and that...that scarlet woman standing there!"
Hermione flinched at these words, he had called her lots of names before, but he really meant this one. Ron mean while had turned and walked stiffly away from them into the night. Hermione stood thinking. She then plunged into the darkness after Ron not knowing if she wanted to apologize or smack him.
"Hermione!" George called after her but Fred grabbed his arm.
"Let her go George," he said softly.
Hermione looked miserably for Ron in the blackness, the Weasley's yard seemed much bigger in the dark. There was absolutely no sign of him. "Where would he go?" She asked herself. She continued to walk silently and eventually came upon the pond that she had found him by earlier. He was standing there now, leaning against a tree, looking out at the water.
"Ron?" She said approaching him cautiously. He ignored her. "Ron, I don't understand why you're so mad. I would think that you'd be happy for me." Ron just gave a derisive laugh. She stood in front of him now, his arms were crossed in front of him, he refused to make eye contact.
"Why should I be happy for you? You're using my brother while you date Vicky." He snapped.
"But I'm not dating Viktor anymore." He looked at her now, surprise overwhelming his anger for a fleet moment, a very fleet moment. "We broke up this afternoon." She added hoping that this might help.
"Oh and that's supposed to make what you've done forgivable?" He asked in that eerie voice of his.
"What's to forgive?" She snapped back at him, she could feel her anger rising. "You hate Viktor! Why should it bother you if I breakup with him and date George? That's not logical Ron, I don't understand why this would bother you."
"You don't understand why this would bother me?" He growled, "How can you not understand? It seems so obvious to everyone else!"
"Well it's not obvious to me!" Hermione retorted; she was getting so angry that her head was starting to pound.
"You know Hermione, for someone as smart as you, you sure can be stupid sometimes!" Ron was pacing back and forth while yelling at her, his hands clenched tightly by his sides.
Hermione was stunned by what Ron had said; his words hurt so much. She felt tears welling up but another surge of anger forced them back down. Her face had gone white and she was trembling all over. "You have no right," she hissed, "to say those things to me. No right to be mad at me."
Ron's eyes darkened and he stopped pacing very close to her. "You just don't get it do you Hermione?" His voice was low.
Ron suddenly grabbed Hermione and pulled her to him. Pinning her arms to her sides he kissed her. The kiss was brought on by anger but it was soon followed by passion. Hermione didn't even try to break Ron's embrace; she was too surprised. She almost thought that she was going to faint, everything seemed to be rushing quickly by her. The world was spinning. All she could see was Ron; his eyes were closed as he pressed his lips hungrily against hers. She felt her own eyes flutter shut and then imperceptibly leaned closer. And then as suddenly as it started, it came to crashing halt when he let go. He released her arms and stepped back, watching her. Without his strength to keep her standing, Hermione sank silently to the ground. Things stopped spinning and Hermione felt herself start to breathe again. Ron just stood there, she was aware of his eyes burning into her, but she didn't look up. Hermione could see him reach out to her, but then he pulled back. Turning around he walked back towards the Burrow leaving Hermione alone in the night.
**There will be another chapter, however, I think we're nearing the end! :)