Fanfic: Home for christmas by Ralina (Free to read, 564,411Clicks)

Description:

After the war Hermione decided to move away from her friends and Britain, leaving her old life behind. But with Christmas approaching, she starts feeling more and more lonely. That is, until an old friends suddenly comes to pay her a visit.

Characters:

No Archive Warnings ApplyHermione Granger/Fred WeasleyHermione Granger Fred WeasleyChristmas Fluff Post-War fairy safe

Summary:

Summary:

After the war Hermione decided to move away from her friends and Britain, leaving her old life behind. But with Christmas approaching, she starts feeling more and more lonely. That is, until an old friends suddenly comes to pay her a visit.

Notes:

This story was written for the Fremione Fanatics 2021 Yule fest.I used a prompt that was kindly provided by Jukava.Also, I was lucky to not only have LSUsweetie as my alpha, but also moonfairy13 as my beta and brit picker. I am one lucky author. :-)Hopefully you can all enjoy this bit of Christmas fluff. If you do, please tell me in the comments.

Chapter 1: Runaway

Chapter Text

 
With a wistful sigh, Hermione watched a small family that reminded her of her own. The mother and father nodded and smiled as their young daughter gestured enthusiastically in the direction of a bookshop. As they disappeared inside, a couple who appeared to be in their early twenties walked past hand in hand as they laughed at something the man had just said. Seeing all of the happy couples and families reminded her of just how alone she was. No one was supposed to spend Christmas alone, they said, and yet Hermione had decided to do just that. This was a new chapter of her life, she told herself over and over again, her heart painfully contracting at the picture of happy couples and families doing their Christmas shopping. Christmas was a time for family and friends. A time to share the joy with loved ones. But she didn’t have a family, and there was certainly no boyfriend to fill her time.
 
Shaking off the melancholy that threatened to overwhelm her, Hermione carried a tray holding tea and cakes towards a little table in the corner of the cosy cafe
where she had decided to spend the afternoon. Some things simply weren’t meant to be, at least not for her. And in a way, it was her own fault. It had been her decision to obliviate her parents and send them away during the war. Yes, Hermione had done it to protect her parents. There was no question that the Death Eaters would have tried to get to her through them, so sending them away had been the logical choice. She’d always hoped that she could get them back one day, that there would be a way to undo the spell, but now she had to accept that she’d taken away too many of their memories. Monica and Wendel Wilkins were two completely different people and no healer could change them back into the people they’d once been. Emma and Dan Granger were gone and they weren’t coming back. They had lost too many memories and lived without them for too long. Her parents were gone and it was all her fault. 
 
Inhaling deeply, Hermione sat down and took a long sip from her spiced tea. Losing her parents had been the first in a series of events that ultimately led her to leave England. It had been surprisingly easy to sell her parents’ house. The tidy home was situated in a good neighbourhood, which had brought a good price, much more than she had expected. It would be enough to start over, Hermione thought, and letting her eyes travel across the snowy streets of Munich she realised that she had. 
 
“Mind if I join you?”
 
Hermione blinked, turning her head towards the voice addressing her. She knew that voice, but it couldn’t be. Only it was. 
 
“Fred? What are you doing here?”
 
The redhead smiled at her, his brown eyes twinkling. “Right now? Well, I’d planned to drink this coffee. But your cake looks bloody delicious, too. So if you feel like sharing…” 
 
Before she could even begin to form a response, he shrugged off his brown leather jacket and slid casually into the red armchair across from her. Without another word, he reached for his cup, demonstratively taking a sip of his coffee. Hermione couldn’t help but stare at him.
 
“No, seriously, Fred. What are you doing here?”
 
“I’m visiting a friend.” Shrugging, he put his cup back, smiling at her. “I might also do some Christmas shopping, now that I’m here. Some of those little muggle shops seem to have pretty fun stuff.”
 
Hermione was speechless. All she could do was gape at the redhead, her tea and cake forgotten. How had he found her? She’d been very careful to not let anybody know where she’d gone.  Not even Harry knew where she was living. And Ron was another story entirely. Things had become difficult between them after the end of the war when Hermione had announced her plan to return to Hogwarts to finish her education. Then, when Ron had brought Lavender to her graduation party, introducing her as his girlfriend had been the final straw. 
 
“I could also get you a present for Christmas if you like.” 
 
Hermione looked at him, sighing. “If you came here just to convince me to come to The Burrow for Christmas, you’re wasting your time. I’m staying here, in my flat. A present, no matter how lovely, won’t change that.”
 
“Doesn’t mean I can’t get you a present though,” he told her, smiling. She shrugged, not sure what to say to him. Instead, she picked up her cup and drank, her eyes slowly travelling out of the window. Soon it would be completely dark, the streets illuminated by the countless lights the people here placed into their windows. Seeing them reminded her of the last Christmas she’d spent with her parents abroad- they’d been skiing. Looking back, that had been one of the last times she’d been completely happy. How she wished to be able to go back to the past if only to enjoy these carefree days once again.
 
“So, you live here now? In Germany? Why?” Fred’s voice startled her out of her thoughts and when Hermione looked back at him, she found that his brown eyes were studying her. 
 
“Why not? Being a witch it doesn’t really matter where I live. Everything is only a portkey away, isn’t it?” Hermione knew she was avoiding his question but she wasn’t ready to admit the truth, especially not to him. Fred was Ron’s brother, after all.
 
“It is, isn’t it? So why haven’t you shown up for family lunches for the last few months? I haven’t seen you since the summer, Hermione, and I can’t shake the feeling that you’ve been avoiding us.”
 
“Nonsense,” Hermione protested, taking a spoonful of her cake. “I haven’t been avoiding you, Fred. Why would I? I barely know you.”
 
The redhead bowed his head. “True. So you didn’t run away? Because that’s what everybody’s been saying.”

 

Hermione bristled. “I didn’t run away. I moved on,” she explained, hastily taking another bite of her cake. It was delicious, her favourite cake really, yet it suddenly tasted like ash in her mouth. 
 
“Moved on from what? Ron?”
 
There it was, the elephant in the room. And Fred didn’t shy away from mentioning it. He’d never been one to sugarcoat things or to sweep them under the carpet.  
 
“Not only Ron. I’ll admit he was one of the reasons that I moved abroad, but he wasn’t the only one.”
 
Fred nodded, casually leaning forward on his armchair. Resting his elbows on his knees, he studied her, the look in his eyes impossible to interpret. “You sure you don’t want to share that cake?”
 
Hermione rolled her eyes at him. “Quite. Get your own piece. It’s too good to share.” 
 
The redhead grinned at her before he got up, going back to the counter to place his order. She couldn’t help but follow him with her eyes, taking in his broad shoulders and the way he smiled at the girl behind the counter. Fred hadn’t changed one bit, she thought, which was strange considering that she’d barely seen him since he and George had left Hogwarts at the end of their seventh year. He’d filled out a little more, yes, but all in all he still appeared to be the same man, while Hermione felt the war had changed her into a completely different person. 
 
“You’re right. This is really good.” 
 
She must have zoned out again, because suddenly Fred was back on his armchair, eating his piece of cake with wide, excited eyes. “Merlin, Mum would kill to get a recipe for this. Do you know how it’s made?”
 
Hermione shrugged. “I’m sure we could find out.”
 
Fred grinned at her. “We? Does that mean I’m invited for the evening? Brilliant! I could take you out for dinner if you know a good place.”
 
She couldn’t help but blink at him. “I… we… you don’t have to, Fred. Didn’t you say you’re here to visit a friend?”
 
“I’m here to visit

you

, Hermione,” he told her, rolling his eyes. “Because we

are

friends, right?”
 
Were they? Hermione didn’t know. Fred had always been Ron’s brother, and they had been friendly, but… “Right.” She wasn’t about to brush him off when he asked a question like this. Obviously, Fred wanted to be her friend, or he wouldn’t have come all the way to Germany to see her. She still wondered why that was. Hermione had visited him at the hospital after he’d come so close to dying after the Battle of Hogwarts. She’d been there a few times, but never alone and never for long. But as far as she remembered, there had never been a moment when they sat together and talked like this, just the two of them.  
 
“Brilliant. Then let’s have dinner together. And until then… You could show me your place if you want to. Or… we could walk around and do some sightseeing…” Fred suggested, charming her with his smile. It was the first time he’d looked at her like this and Hermione wasn’t sure if her poor heart could handle the full impact of his rakish Weasley charm. Going by the way it thudded against her ribcage it probably couldn’t.
 
“I think for dinner I’d like to change into something… nicer,” Hermione mumbled, motioning towards her thick woollen sweater and her jeans. “I suppose we can go to my place until we get hungry again. It’s not far…”
 
The redhead smiled at her, looking very pleased with her answer. Hermione forced herself to smile at him, ignoring the nervous flutter of her heart. Fred had never been anything but friendly towards her. Taking him to her flat was no big deal. Right? She hesitated.
 
“Fred? Before we go… When I came to your shop for the first time, you gave me something because I’d stumbled across something stored in your old room. Do you remember what that was?”
 
The boy’s mouth twitched. “You found one of our old punching telescopes. I gave you a salve to make the bruise go away.” 
 
Hermione sighed in relief. “Right. Sorry, I just had to make sure…”
 
“That it’s really me?” He winked at her.
 
She nodded. “Yes. There are still some of them out there. I’d rather be careful…”
 
“Of course,” Fred said, nodding at her in understanding. “Don’t worry. I didn’t tell anyone where I am. Well… Georgie knows, but he’ll keep his mouth shut.”
 
“Good. Thank you,” Hermione answered, sending him a shy smile. “Do you want to go? Or stay a little longer?” 
 
“Let’s go. If I eat any more of that cake, dinner is out. Do you want me to carry your bag?” He pointed towards her shopping back on the floor.
 
“No, I’m fine,” Hermione assured him, quickly picking it up herself. “Come on then.” She hurried towards the exit, Fred trailing behind her with quick steps. She couldn’t help but wonder why he was here, with her. At first, she had assumed one of the other Weasleys had sent him, but he had just assured her that they didn’t know where he was. But why else would he seek her out? Was there something he wanted? And if so: what?

~~~

As Fred followed Hermione through the narrow cobblestone streets of Munich, he couldn’t help but take in the details around him with a happy smile. He’d found her, he’d really done it, and by some stroke of luck, he’d even managed to convince the girl to have dinner with him. Things had gone better than he’d expected, and Fred couldn’t believe his luck. After almost three months of looking for Hermione, he’d finally found her. He definitely owed Percy a pint for giving him the final clue.
Having a brother with a high-ranking position in the Department for Magical Transportation certainly had its merits.
 
As Hermione had promised, it wasn’t far to her flat. She lived on the second floor of a neat little house, and Fred wasn’t at all surprised to find a bookshop on the ground floor of the building.
 
“You opened a bookshop?” he found himself asking, curiously studying the muggle books that had been neatly arranged in the shop window. 
 
“No. I might want to, someday, but for now, I’m only working there as a sales assistant. Maybe once I’ve saved enough money to buy something for myself…” She trailed off, unlocking the front door of the house. Soon, they stepped into a dimly lit hallway, and Fred had to resist the urge to cast a Lumos when he followed the girl up the wooden staircase, towards her flat. Even since he’d been buried beneath a mountain of stones he found himself disliking dark, narrow places, but that wasn’t something he wanted Hermione to find out. At least not yet… Today was all about making a good impression and getting to know each other a little better. Taking a few deep breaths, he managed to control his panic and follow Hermione upstairs, his wand remaining tucked away safely in the inner pocket of his jacket. 
 
“Of course.” Fred could have sworn his voice sounded a little hoarse when he answered but, if Hermione noticed, she didn’t comment on it. Instead, she calmly unlocked the unimposing wooden door that led into her flat. There, Hermione switched on the light, before taking off her coat and scarf and hanging them up on a coat rack. 
 
“You can hang up your stuff here,” she instructed him while pointing towards the empty hooks. Fred nodded and did as he was told, unsuspiciously taking in the empty white walls and the neatly arranged boxes in the hallways. Hermione still hadn’t unpacked them, he realised, hope traitorously blooming in his chest. Maybe it wasn’t too late…
 
“How long have you lived here?”
he found himself asking as he followed Hermione through the small flat. She pointed out the bathroom where a claw foot bath dominated the space
and a cosily furnished living room with an integrated kitchenette. The other door in the hallway led to a bedroom, Hermione told him, though she chose not to show him that particular room. 
 
“I moved in about four months ago,” Hermione explained, sitting down on the cosy dark green sofa with a sigh. “I left two weeks after I got my NEWTs.”
 
So, it was just as Fred had expected. “How much of a prick has my little brother been, Hermione? Do you want me to prank him? I’ll totally do so if you tell me to.”
 
The girl shook her head. “No… he… I suppose we just had different expectations. After the war, I thought… I assumed that he and I would end up together. But apparently, he had different ideas. It’s all good, really…”
 
Fred challenged her with a smile. “So you’re not avoiding Christmas at The Burrow because you don’t want to see ickle Ronnekinns and Lavlav suck each other’s faces?”
 
Hermione rolled her eyes. “Nothing I haven’t seen before. They were doing that for most of our sixth year.”
 
“Still, it will totally put me off my punch, and I’m sure I won’t be the only one. If it’s not that… what’s keeping you away, Hermione?”
 
The girl looked at him, her brown eyes searching his face. “Is that why you’re here Fred? To convince me to come back?”
 

Yes

, he thought, but aloud he said: “I’m here to visit a friend. I want to understand what happened because everyone’s been asking but no one seems to know. It’s not like you to simply disappear, so…”
 
“Not like me? Harry, Ron and I disappeared for several months.”
 
“Because it was necessary. But this?” He motioned around her flat. 
 
“Maybe I just needed a fresh start.” 
 
Fred wanted to groan in frustration. There was nothing he could say because, in fact, it wasn’t any of his fucking business. “Because of the load of dung Skeeter has been publishing about you? She’s written a lot of crap about all of us. I’ve been told she had a grand time while I was stuck in St. Mungo’s.”
 
Hermione sighed. “It’s not only her either. It’s as if everybody had a plan for me, including myself. Everyone has been pushing and pulling, expecting me to do things. Start a career at the Ministry, give interviews, show up at charity events… Hell, some of them expected me to marry Viktor Krum! You have no idea how many letters I’ve been getting. Not all of them have been friendly…”
 
His heart sank. “That’s why all of our owls came back, isn’t it? You’ve put up wards around your flat.”
 
Hermione nodded. “I have. No owls, no apparition and no floo connection. It’s the only way they’ll leave me alone.”
 
“Do you want me to leave you alone as well?” he asked, carefully studying her face. To his relief, Hermione shook her head. 
 
“No. I don’t see you as someone who’d start putting pressure on me. I mean… you…” Fred smiled at her, curious what she was going to say. “Well… I feel like you and George also had lots of things that were expected of you. But in the end, you followed your own path, without caring if it got you into trouble.”
 
“That’s true. Believe me, I know what pressure feels like and I surely won’t start demanding things from you. I know how crap that feels.”
 
“It does,” Hermione agreed, the smile she sent him full of relief. “I’m glad you understand.”
 
He did, but that made his situation even more difficult. All he wanted was to bring her home, and not because the others expected him to. He wanted to have her there, have a chance to see her now and then, to flirt and to celebrate Christmas with her. Yet he could understand Hermione’s need to break out, to get away from all that pressure and build a life for herself. It was what he’d done himself. Now he couldn’t fault her for doing the same thing no matter how rubbish it made him feel. 

~~~

“And? How’d it go? Did you find Hermione?”
 
Fred saw George look up from his newest sketch as soon as he stumbled into their flat, his belly stuffed with the mountain of food he’d consumed. Stretching the evening with Hermione out for as long as he could, he’d ordered far too much food, claiming to want to try several variants of German dessert. They had all been delicious, without question, yet Fred wasn’t sure if it had been a very good idea to eat so much before using an international portkey. Probably not, he realised, noting the violent clenching of his stomach. 
 
“Yes, I found her,” Fred answered, sinking onto the sofa with a pained groan. “She didn’t send me away and even invited me to her flat. We had dinner together. She’s not coming back though…” He summed up the evening, not knowing if he should be thrilled or disappointed with the progress he’d made. He’d had such high hopes and yet what he got was much more than he’d hoped to achieve after Hermione had completely disappeared on them. 
 
“Huh. I bet she has her reasons, even though that does put a stopper onto your plans to bring her home for Christmas, doesn’t it?”
 
“Yes. No. Maybe,” Fred answered, rubbing his face. He really hadn’t thought this through before he’d taken off on an impulse, determined to find Hermione and make her his girlfriend. He’d had a crush on her for a long time now, nothing serious at first, but over the years Fred had to realise that he still kept looking at her, unsuspiciously watching her from afar or wondering where she was and what she did. When Hermione suddenly disappeared on them, things had only become worse. He found that he couldn’t get her out of his head, constantly wondering what had happened to her and what had prompted her to leave. Now Fred knew and he realised that it wasn’t nearly enough. “I’m not giving up, that’s for sure.”
 
“Didn’t expect you to,” George said, rolling his eyes at him. “But this sounds like you’ll need to alter your plan. No waltzing in and snogging her until she changes her mind.”
 
Fred snorted. “I admit that was a bloody awful plan.
That probably would have earned me a slap across the face.

 
George chuckled. “Yeah. Now what? Will you spend Christmas Eve moping and drinking eggnog?”
 
“And watch Ron and Lavlav being thoughtless idiots again? I don’t think so, no.”
 
“Then what? Drink yourself into oblivion?”
 
“Nope. Not doing that again,” Fred said, sending his twin a wry grin. Doing that once had been more than enough. “It’s as you said. I think I need to change my plans, not just in general. I think I’m going to change my plans for Christmas as well.”
 
George’s eyes widened. “No Christmas Eve at The Burrow? Mum won’t like that, you know?” 
 
“She’ll have to suck it up for this year. You’ll just have to make it up to her, make enough chaos for the both of us. And I’ll be there for Christmas lunch the following day.”
 
His brother snorted. “Alright. You know I’d do anything for you, Freddie. Go and get your woman, brother.”
 
“Hermione isn’t

my

woman,” Fred protested.
 
George grinned at him. “At least not yet.”

~~~

Sighing, Hermione curled up in her bed, nestling a purring Crooks against her chest. It had been a long day and, even though she was physically and emotionally drained now, she felt like she hadn’t had such an exciting day in months. Seeing Fred here had certainly been a surprise. They’d never been particularly close, but that only made it easier for her to talk to him tonight. He was a neutral third party and therefore she didn’t feel the need to hide from him, like she did with Harry or Ron. Apart from pressuring her to do certain things, they’d also seen her at her worst and Hermione neither wanted their pitying looks nor did she want to be reminded of the darkest moments of her life.  
 
Fred did neither of those things and when she’d explained some of her reasons for moving away, he’d understood, truly understood. That had made him the perfect conversation partner. Hermione had told him things that no one else was aware of and it had felt good. In fact, Hermione wished she’d see Fred again, but as the man was living hundreds of miles away, that was rather unlikely. And she hated it. 
 
“Well Crooksy, now it’s just you and me again,” Hermione mumbled, burying her face into Crooks’ soft fur. She received a long purr as an answer. “But that’s alright. We only need each other,” Hermione murmured, snuggling closer. But part of her knew that it was a lie. After Fred had taken his portkey back to Britain, Hermione felt more alone than ever and even though she kept telling herself she was fine, she secretly knew she was anything but.

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