Clever Mischief, Chapter 8: Are You Stalking Me?Date: Saturday, September 3, 2005Location: Three BroomsticksCharacter: Fred, George, Hermione, RosmertaRating: Any AgeFred nearly always woke up earlier. He tended to have more energy in the mornings, his head full of ideas from dreams the night before. He woke with his hands itching to get to work and his mind full of mischief. Not to mention a rumble in his stomach.George, on the other hand, liked to sleep late. He rolled over with a groan as he heard his twin bustling around their horrid little room at the Three Broomsticks. They'd transfigured the one moldy, lumpy double bed into two equally moldy, lumpy twin beds, set them up against opposing walls, and tried not to drive each other spare. They'd had separate rooms for years in their flat in British Columbia, and it was odd to have to share such a small space again. They'd done it for a long time growing up, of course, but they were grown men in a cramped room, and it was easy to get in each other's space.George pulled the pillow over his head. "Oi. Keep it down. Not all of us like to rise before the sun."Fred pouted. "I slept in. It's past 8. Come on, George, get a move on. Plenty of orders to fill, and products to sneak up to the castle."George grunted and rolled over, mumbling something that sounded like, "One more hour, if you have any pity." Fred snickered. He checked the mirror, smoothed his hair into a ponytail, and exited, but not before he shot a lumos maximus over his shoulder, a sunburst of light catapulting into the room behind him. He shut the door to George's muffled cursing and wandered out to the pub proper.~*~It was a beautiful morning. Hermione always woke around dawn, sometimes even before the sun lit the morning sky, and considered early mornings one of her most productive times. On this particular morning, she'd woken shortly after dawn and written her weekly letters to her friends. After they were written, she showered and dressed and then went to the library to do a little paperwork before she took her usual trip to Hogsmeade. Every Saturday and Sunday morning would normally find her at the Three Broomsticks having breakfast before she'd meet up with Seamus, meet Ron and Harry for lunch, run any necessary errands, or whatever else happened to fall on her weekend chores list. This weekend was actually relatively empty. She had made plans to stop by and see Shay before returning to Hogwarts to get some work done in the library. She would probably also have Kingsley around shortly after she returned as he'd decided that the students were a bunch of miscreants this term who were determined to make his life hell because he'd caught two attempting to play pranks on their classmates during his class. He'd entertained her during dinner with his paranoid decision and had been unhappy with her for not supporting his suspicions. She'd buy him some white chocolate, his favorite, before returning to school. The Three Broomsticks was quiet when she stepped inside. She loved coming here early in the morning, before it became more crowded around lunchtime. She had never been particularly fond of crowds and was even less so than before. "Good morning! A glass of orange juice, please, Rosie," she requested with a friendly smile as she sat at a table near the back and out of the way. She removed her book from the pocket of her robe and began to read.Fred was about to grab their usual table when he heard the familiar voice. He first grinned, and then frowned at himself for grinning. He shouldn't be quite so happy that Hermione Granger was here, should he?He looked around. There was no way to sneak up on her so he decided for the direct approach, striding over to her table and sitting down across from her without being invited."Why Miss Granger, are you stalking me?" he asked in mock outrage, winking at Rosmerta, who just rolled her eyes."One could evaluate the situation and possibly draw the conclusion that you are stalking me, Mister Weasley, and not the other way around," she informed him crisply as she looked up from her book and arched a brow. Her lips quirked in amusement but she managed to conceal her surprise at seeing Fred sitting across from her. "After all, you've come to my place of my work and now my table. Are you plotting nefarious schemes in that brilliant mind of yours, Fred?""Always," Fred said winningly. He was happy that he didn't blush easily- brilliant mind? Who was she kidding? He reached out and snatched her book from her. "And what are we reading?""I am reading a detective novel," she said as she reached across and snatched the book back. "Hasn't anyone ever told you how rude it is to take someone's book while they're reading it? It seems you've lost your manners while off in the wilds of North America.""You weren't reading it, you were talking to me," Fred reasoned. "My dear Hermione, are you implying that I had manners to begin with? I've always done my utmost to appear the complete pig. I guess I'll have to try harder.""I was reading through osmosis, which could not occur when my book was being manhandled by you," she replied promptly. "Unfortunately, I've always had this need to look beyond the piggish exterior in the hopes that I'll be pleasantly surprised and see a hidden treasure beneath the ill-mannered façade. Perhaps I was mistaken in doing so."Fred snickered. "Sure you don't see anything you like?" he asked playfully, waggling his eyebrows at her.Hermione deliberately allowed her gaze to drift over his face, keeping her expression neutral even as she admired the angles of his face and confirmed that he was still handsome even if age and life's experiences had given his face a slight harshness that he shared with his twin. She met his gaze and smirked. "Not at the moment, no."He feigned his best hurt look, the one that he'd shown to his mother so many times. Maybe it would go over better with Hermione. "Miss Granger, first you accuse me of stalking you and then you insult my winsome good looks? You'd better buy me breakfast or I'll just have to turn tail and go straight back to Canada.""Perhaps I am merely toying with you and believe an insult will confirm whether or not you are, indeed, stalking me," she mused thoughtfully. "However, your company is proving to be somewhat enjoyable, I suppose, so I guess I can buy breakfast as I'd hate for you to return to Canada believing I've lost my manners."George wandered out of their room, bleary-eyed and in desperate need of coffee. He scanned the pub quickly, his eyes settling on one redhead and one brunette with her wild hair pulled up into a bun but doing its best to escape. He prowled forward and dropped into the chair next to his brother."Well look who's here," he said, voice still raspy with sleep. "Hallo Hermione. Come here often?" To Fred he said, "You do realise that I'm going to have to kill you, yeah?"Fred smiled sweetly. "Whatever for?""For burning out my bloody retinas.""Nonsense. You needed to wake up.""I was up until three a.m.," George muttered. "Unlike some of us who are snoring like a hippogriff by eleven."He turned his attention back to Hermione. "Did I hear that breakfast was on you? Excellent. We'll need to start with very strong coffee."It was quite obvious that George was not a morning person if his appearance and raspy voice were anything to go by. Hermione picked up her glass of juice and took a drink while she looked back and forth as the twins bantered, relieved that she was alert enough to actually follow them without developing a headache. "Yes, I'll buy breakfast. I did say if you two happened to return to Hogsmeade before you went back to Canada that I'd buy you a drink, after all." She signaled to Rosmerta to bring a cup of coffee for George. "Fred, what would you like?"Fred smirked. "Too early for beer, yeah?""You did say you wanted to prove that you were a complete pig and butterbeer on your breath before noon would do wonders in achieving that goal." She rolled her eyes. "Rosie, make that a cup of coffee for the early riser here and a glass of orange juice for the smart arse across from me."Rosmerta nodded. "You got it, honey. Either of you want any food to start?"Fred nodded enthusiastically. "I'm famished. Bangers and mash, Rosie? Extra greasy?" He batted his eyelashes at her, which she seemed to be immune to."Just a pot of coffee," George said, rolling his eyes at his brother."Got it, boys. Are you ready too, Hermione? Want your usual?"Hermione nodded. "Yes, the usual, please. And can you add pancakes and ham with plenty of syrup? Once this one over here," she motioned to George, "is awake, he'll be hungry."George mumbled something that might have been thanks had he not been falling asleep again, head drooping toward the table. Fred leaned back in his chair, looking Hermione over. Well, not looking her over, not like that. "First day of classes yesterday, Madam Granger. Any children defacing your books yet?""They wouldn't dare," she said smugly as she put her glass back down on the table. "I've let the rumor get out over the years that I've put charms on all books, you see, and word of mouth has embellished them so much that most first years hear that daring to drip even one drop of ink in one of my texts will result in hexes that even St. Mungo's won't cure. That's one rumor that I don't bother to discourage." She tucked a stray hair back into the messy bun she'd fixed earlier. The twins exchanged impressed glances, though Fred's was decidedly more awake than George's. "Why Hermione," Fred laughed, "that sounds like something we'd do.""That reminds me, though, that, while your method lacked finesse, I am most thankful for your assistance with the books the other day."Rosmerta reappeared before either twin could reply, arms laden with breakfast dishes, and she set the appropriate plate in front of each of them. George reached for the coffee automatically, blowing on it twice and then downing half of it despite the fact that it was steaming hot. A lazy smile spread across his face. "Thank you, love," he said, not indicating whether he meant Rosmerta for bringing him the coffee or Hermione for buying it.Fred grinned. "Oh look, he's going to turn into a human now."George sipped his coffee a bit more slowly, his eyes opening a little wider. "You're welcome, for the books.""I thought we finessed just fine," Fred said."It's all in the presentation," George agreed. He finally looked at Hermione. "And a proper good morning to you at last.""Good morning," Hermione said after she swallowed her bite of bacon. She reached across the table for the syrup and poured it over her pancakes. "I'd debate the presentation but it's far too early in the morning and I'd much rather eat my pancakes and find out why you're both lurking around the Three Broomsticks.""They have an excellent breakfast spread," George said cryptically, taking the syrup from Hermione and pouring himself a small puddle of it on the side of his pancakes before picking up knife and fork to cut them into ragged squares."Plus, we're crashing in Rosie's worst room," Fred said.George rolled his eyes. "And there's that."Fred shrugged. "Not quite ready to leave yet, you see.""Tell us about the first day, Hermione," George said, changing the subject before shoving a forkful of pancake into his mouth.She watched George cut his pancakes and smiled as she realized she'd missed seeing him methodically cut them and dip them into a pool of syrup. He was the only person she knew who ate his pancakes that way and it was nice to have that familiarity back, even briefly. She smothered hers in syrup and cut them as she ate them, licking the syrup from her lips before she asked, "You're staying here? I assumed you were staying at the Burrow. Why Hogsmeade?" She glanced at George and smiled. "The first day is always rather magical, you know? There are actually more students this year than there have been since Hogwarts re-opened, which is very exciting. It was a bit of a madhouse, though, and the library was crowded all morning."Fred attacked his own breakfast with gusto. "Mum likes her space, these days. Hard to believe, I know. This is fantastic!"George finished his first pancake and moved to the second. "We always thought it was magical.""New pranks on the horizon.""New teachers to terrorize.""New rules to break.""Definitely magical."Fred polished off his juice and stole the remainder of George's coffee. "What kind of insane students are in the library this early in the term?""I was always in the library on the first day of school," she pointed out with a slight frown. "As soon as classes were over, I'd go to my favorite table in the back and start my schedules for the school term. By the time I went to sleep on the first day of school, I'd have all known projects for my first classes plotted out for the term and I'd add the others as I learned them. I don't think wanting to gain knowledge automatically means someone is insane." She impulsively stuck her tongue out at them before she took a bite of her pancakes."Right, but you're you," Fred said philosophically. He and George stuck their tongues back out at her at the same time."Honestly, how many other people were there with you?" George asked."Other than Ron and Harry, if you dragged them with you.""Actually, they never let me drag them there the first day of school," she muttered as she stabbed her pancake with her fork. "Always claimed they had better things to do but they'd certainly be there when they needed help with their assignments.""Of course," George said with a shrug. "Knew you were both an excellent student and an excellent friend who would never leave them in need.""Ron groused often enough that you never actually let him copy, though," Fred pointed out."Yeah, you helped but you didn't let them cheat.""No, I most certainly did not," she said firmly. "If they were too lazy to do their own work, they could suffer the consequences. It was most fortunate for both of them that they had me around to make sure they didn't spend all their time on the Quidditch pitch or sleeping all hours of the day. They'd have never passed their OWLs without my guidance." She took a drink of her juice. "Regardless, that was years ago and there are actually some students who care about their studies and visit the library on the first day."George held up his mug in toast. "To the students!""The students!" Fred chorused. They smirked at each other. The students were indeed worth toasting- they'd bought a ridiculous amount of product yesterday. Soon enough Hermione and the other staff members would feel the effects and know that the Weasley twins were back for good.Happy Holidays to all of our readers! We wanted to thank you all for the support and encouragement for our little fic! Have a wonderful holiday season and we'll see y'all in 2006!
Hee! Rose has such a knack with the twins. *drool*