Soulmates were something Muggles struggled to believe in while the wizarding world embraced them completely. Maybe that’s why more magical people met and spent the rest of their lives with their soulmates while Muggles tended not to even hear their soulmate. They didn’t believe, so the magic of it never really connected them.
Hermione struggled with it. She believed in magic, of course, but there was a science to that. There was numbers and logic and reasoning involved. Soulmates had none of that. Was she really supposed to believe that some sort of divine fate knew who would suit her better than she did herself? Perhaps that’s why she spent so much of her life not hearing her soulmate. It was at the beginning of her third year that she started actually hearing them, just a whisper every now and then, a silly joke when she was feeling especially stressed or sad or angry. Irritatingly enough, it always helped. And it wasn’t until she was on the run with the boys that she started talking back.
He told her that he knew who she was, but Hermione asked him not to tell her who he was. She wasn’t ready for that yet, not when her world was nothing but war and running for her life. He accepted it, but he was always there. Every night when she would slip away from Ron and Harry so that she could cry by herself, her soulmate was there. Sometimes he would try to lighten the mood with jokes or silly stories, but other times he knew that she just needed his comfort. And he gave it out, in spades.
Hermione helped him when she could. He was stressed as well. He’d lost his business, his brother had almost been killed, and his family was also at the center of the war. Hermione tried her best to soothe him, recanting tells of her adventures with Ron and Harry or reciting him passages from her favorite books.
When the battle at Hogwarts started, Hermione at least knew that her soulmate was somewhere there, fighting with them. There was a part of her mind, small and nonintrusive, that was always taken up by her soulmate even when he wasn’t talking to her. It was a pleasant hum, a bright and happy feeling that was always with her. They both tried their best to keep their emotions and communication limited during the fighting. They needed to focus on keeping themselves alive, and they didn’t need the extra distraction of the other. But then he got hurt and it was too bad for him to close her out completely.
“Mi, love.” His weakening voice spoke in her head and his pain was leaking in as well, making Hermione stumble and have to brace herself on the wall nearest to her. “I’m not going to make it.”
Hermione closed her eyes against the surge of tears. “You will. You have to. Please.”
“Not that powerful of a wizard, unfortunately.” He chuckled but it was choked. “Can I tell you now?”
A sob caught in her throat and she pressed a hand to her mouth. “Tell me in person the next time you see me. Not like this.”
“I’ll try, Mi.” he sighed, his bright spot in her mind fading just a little. “If I don’t…someone will tell you. You’ll know, okay love?”
“Okay.” She whispered back, but Ron was urging her onwards and if they didn’t complete what they’d sat out to do, it wouldn’t just be her soulmate that was dying. So, she followed him onwards, but she continued whispering words of encouragement and peace to her soulmate.
When Voldemort gave them their break, Hermione followed Ron back into the Great Hall and her heart sank when they found the entire Weasley family crying together, minus the twins.
“What is it, Mum?” Ron asked in a panic. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s Fred, dear.” Molly cried. “They’ve taken him to St. Mungo’s but…oh.” She broke off on a sob and Arthur wrapped her up in a tight hug.
Hermione felt her heart skip, and she was overwhelmed with panic. Fred couldn’t die. He was too much laughter and happiness and mischievousness. There was too much light that followed him, even in the darkest of times. His family wouldn’t be the same, George wouldn’t be the same. Hermione wouldn’t be the same.
Without even realizing what she was doing, Hermione started running towards the nearest fireplace. She heard Ron and Harry calling after her, but she didn’t listen. Grabbing a handful of floo powder, she tossed it in and the next thing she knew she was stumbling out into the front lobby of St. Mungo’s. She knew it well enough from when they visited Arthur, so she took off towards the triage center where there was bustling mediwitches and organized chaos with all the people that had been brought it from the battle. It was easy enough to find the bed that held Fred. Both he and George’s red hair was like a beacon and she beelined straight for them, ignoring the protests from some of the staff.
George’s eyes widened when he saw her, but he didn’t let go of his grip on Fred’s hand.
“He told you, then?” he asked, but Hermione didn’t answer. Of course it was him. It never could have been anyone else.
“Tell me, George.” She demanded.
“They have him stable. He’s just…asleep they say. It’s up to him if he wakes up. They said to give him time, but…” he trailed off and Hermione rounded the bed so that she was on the other side of Fred. Bracing a hand on the bed next to his shoulder, she leaned down and pressed her lips to his. They were soft and warm, but they didn’t kiss her back. Squeezing her eyes shut, letting her tears fall to his cheeks, she pushed her words as firmly as she could into his mind.
“Wake up, Fred. You have to wake up.”
Just when she was starting to pull away, his lips moved under hers. Her stomach flipped when she realized he was kissing her back, softly and slowly.
“Anything you say, Mi.” he laughed weakly into her mind. “Just keep kissing me.”
So she did, for a little bit longer. But then she pulled back, holding her breath while his eyes fluttered open. He grinned tiredly at her before flicking his gaze towards his brother.
George laughed wetly. “You just couldn’t let me have the more dramatic near death story, could you?”
“You know I couldn’t.” Fred agreed with a wider smile.
“I’ll go find your parents.” Hermione offered, heart racing and a smile she wasn’t willing to fight on her face. “And the others.”
Fred looked back at her. Both his eyes were turning black and there was a nasty gash that had recently been sealed that cut across the right side of his skull and onto his temple. He was dirty and exhausted, but that twinkle in his eye was still there and Hermione was ridiculously happy that he was looking at her.
“You’ll come back with them?” he asked.
“I will.” She agreed, reaching out to smooth the backs of her fingers over his cheek. “You be good until I get back, okay?”
“No promises.” He winked and Hermione laughed lightly, but then it faded and her heart squeezed at just how close she’d come to losing him. More tears sprang into her eyes and Fred tried to reach for her, but winced in pain, so she came to him instead, kneeling at the side of the bed and pressing her forehead to his gently.
“I’m alright now, Mi.” he whispered, his hand lifting to cup the side of her face.
“I know.” She whispered back. “I know.”
“Show me that Gryffindor strength that I love so much, okay? Mum’s gonna be enough hysterics for all of us.”
With a sigh, Hermione pulled back enough to be able to look at him properly. “We’ve got a lot to talk about when I get back, Fred Weasley. So you better rest up.”
That crooked grin that always made her feel giddy inside spread across his face and his thumb rubbed gently along her cheek. “Yes ma’am.”