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Better Traditions

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            Hermione Granger was a creature of habit. Methodic, organized and dedicated, Hermione made a habit of creating and making habits for herself, ever since she was nothing but a toddler. Whether it was the special pancakes that should be served for breakfast on weekends or the reading time set at right after she went to bed, but not too after it so she wouldn’t be sleepy yet; Hermione knew what she liked and didn’t like from a very young age, and one thing she did like was traditions.

            Fred Weasley was a creature of chaos. Mischievous, ingenious and full of energy, Fred made a habit of avoiding and trying to destroy habits ever since he was nothing but a toddler, for they were too predictable for his ever-evolving ideas. Whether feigning sickness, so that he and his twin brother, George, could have something different for lunch every other Sunday, or never going to sleep at the same time, so that he could disrupt and change the bed story time around; Fred did all that his charming personality could get him away with, and a little more, to try and break habits and traditions spread around him.

            From a very young age, little Fred knew what he liked and didn’t like, and one thing he didn’t like was to be stuck doing the same thing over and over with no reason whatsoever for it; namely, traditions.

            The first time Fred and Hermione met each other, it was due to Fred’s youngest brother, who had come home from school one day with his two best friends in tow, Harry and Hermione. Being two years older, and a big boy with his eleven years of age, Fred didn’t pay much attention to the newest additions to his baby brother’s side. He had better things to do, such as convincing his mom that lasagna was a much better dinner dish than the “guest special” meatloaf, and dyeing his older brother Percy’s date pants, whatever the heck a date was, pink. Hermione, being extremely observant as she was, had noticed Fred, but, having gone to her friend’s house so that they could do the assignment the teacher had asked, she had better things to do than paying attention to her friend’s brother. Studying during the appropriate time was a priority, so she focused on making her friends concentrate on the task at hand.

            As time passed, Harry and Hermione steadily became a part of the Weasley family, but Fred and Hermione’s relationship never quite progressed beyond arguments about following or not following rules and traditions - “Because they were created to be followed, Fred!”, “Actually, I believe they were created to be broken, my dear Hermione” - and pranking and scolding - “Frederick Weasley, that’s my book!”, “Oh, but where is the fun, ‘Mione?”. Their family and friends did nothing but smile fondly and carry on with what they’d been doing previously, so used to the displays that they were part of the daily activities. “Oil and water, those two”, they would say laughingly among each other.

            It wasn’t until Fred had reached his 20 years of age that annoying Hermione and arguing with her acquired a whole new meaning and purpose. That was when he first noticed that the behavior they had with each other was, basically, a tradition, especially on his part, and that that was a tradition he didn’t feel at all inclined to break, abandon or disrupt. Intrigued with his own reluctance in breaking that tradition, amazed and not just a little surprised at having created a tradition himself, he spent a few days mulling over his feelings and all the years passed with this “tradition”, trying to find the answer that almost everyone but himself and Hermione had already come to.

            A year later, he decided he wanted to create a new tradition, a kind of tradition to trump all other traditions. A tradition he wouldn’t have a problem taking part in.

            It was New Year’s Eve, and everyone, family and friends, was present at the Weasley house to celebrate the coming of the next year. There were only a few minutes left before the stroke of midnight and Fred was intently paying attention to Hermione, acutely aware that she had a particular tradition of her own on New Year’s Eve, a pretty annoying one, at that.

           She always extricated herself from the crowd when there were only a few minutes left for midnight and disappeared, only coming back after the stroke of midnight and the ensuing enthusiastic celebration, effectively “entering the year alone”. She’d never had an explanation for it when he asked, stating a weak “Because.” or a sad “It’s better this way.” and shrugging before turning on her heels and walking away.

           Well, this year, he wouldn’t let her.

           While he watched her calmly and slowly inching her way towards the door that led to the backyard, he made his decision. Not all traditions had to be bad, right? He could create a new type of tradition, a better one. He took a deep breath and his eyes met George’s across the living room. They had a prank planned for this New Year’s… But he saw his brother smile, shake his head slightly and then nod towards the door through which Hermione was just passing. Fred got the message. “Go after her”. He smiled to his brother and nodded, turning and following the same path Hermione had taken.

           Outside he saw her staring at the stars, her arms hugging herself.

           - Why do you always run near midnight? – He asked softly. Her sharp intake of breath was the only sign that she’d been surprised by hearing his voice.

           - Tradition. – She shrugged.

           - Hermione…

           She sighed and shrugged again, her gaze descending from the stars to stare at the grass.

           - It’s easier, I guess.

           He got closer to her, stopping by her side.

           - Than what?

           - Wanting things I can’t have. – She shrugged again, sounding resigned.

           - Hermione, you’re the most intelligent and amazing woman I’ve ever met. I don’t believe there’s anything that you put your mind to that you can’t have. – He was facing her now, her delicate profile illuminated by the lights coming from the house.

           She turned to him, a bitter little smile framing her lips.

           - You’d be surprised.

           He studied her closely, noticing how she avoided meeting his eyes; how she bit her lip the same way she always did when she was nervous. He took a chance, his voice low and soft.

          - What is it that you want?

          Her eyes darted to his, shocked, and then quickly to his lips before going back to stare at the floor. It was almost too fast to notice, but he saw it, and he smiled, happiness flooding through him. He took a step closer to her.

        - Hermione, look at me. – She bit her lip, but that was all.

        - Hermione… - She sighed and lifted her eyes.

        - What, Fred?

        He smiled and leaned towards her, lowering his head. Her breath hitched in her chest.

        - I want it too. – He whispered and then kissed her, with all the feelings that had been building and growing for so many years, right as midnight stroked, the fireworks going off above them.

       When they parted, he was grinning from ear to ear and she was blushing, her eyes shining and a little wide.

       - I thought you didn’t like traditions. – She was slightly breathless.

       - I don’t. – He grinned wider at her. – But our traditions are new traditions, improved traditions.

       She laughed.

       - Oh? How so?

       His eyes twinkled under the bright lights of the fireworks, his smile turning softer and more affectionate, and he lowered his head again, stopping just far enough for him to still be able to look her in the eyes.

       - ‘Cause ours will have a reason for existing and for being repeated.

       - And what will that reason be? – She whispered, unable to look anywhere else but into his magnetic eyes.

       - Love.

       With that, he kissed her again, already building a new tradition that he wouldn’t mind, at all, perpetuating during the years to come. He grinned in the kiss and felt her do the same. Not all traditions were bad after all, eh?