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"What are you drinking?"

"It's hot chocolate." Hermione looks up from her mug of steaming chocolate and reaches up to rub her eyes. "You're not really here."

"That's what they say," Fred agrees, shrugging before he sits across from her. "Is it good?"

"It's too hot to drink yet," she whispers, looking around to see if anyone else is awake. It's unlikely since it's after three in the morning, but the Burrow is so crowded right now that it's rare to find any privacy.

"They're sleeping." Fred smiles, but it doesn't reach his eyes, which makes her feel even more sad. "George takes longer than anyone. Hurts, to see him like that and know it's my fault."

It doesn't feel like a dream. She's had dreams before, odd ones that felt like she was awake until she found herself lying in bed. This isn't like those, though. This feels real, but that's not possible. Fred isn't a ghost. She's met those at Hogwarts, so she knows the difference.

"Sometimes, there are things that you just can't figure out, Granger," Fred tells her, leaning forward as he studies her. "So, you and Ron?"

"What?" She blushes and shakes her head. "No. I mean, maybe one day but no."

"Good." He nods and grins, looking so real that she wants to reach across the table to touch him but she doesn't because she knows he's gone. "Love Ron, he's my baby brother, but you and he don't fit right. Need someone else to make you happy."

"And being dead has given you some sort of insight?" she asks before she can stop herself. She bites her lip and looks at the table. "Sorry."

"Why? I am dead, Hermione. Took me a while to figure that out, but I know it now. Won't be here much longer, either. Think George is why I still am, but maybe not. I'm not really here, after all. You're probably just dreaming and I'm off lazing around a paradise somewhere with scantily clad birds all around while I work on ways to prank important dead people."

"Stop," she whispers, blinking away tears as she stares at her mug of chocolate.

"I wish I'd kissed you," he says suddenly, almost whispering.

She looks up at him and sighs as she thinks of the beautiful summer morning when she thought Fred might have wanted to kiss her. "I wish you had, too."

"You were Ron's," he says simply. "Couldn't do that to my brother, even if I wanted to. Now, well, if I'd known I'd die, I wouldn't bloody well care. Brother or not, I'd have kissed you until your toes curled."

"I miss you," she admits softly. "I can't really talk to anyone about it, because they wouldn't really understand, but it hurts."

"I don't want to ever be a hurt, Hermione. I don't want anyone I love to feel so bloody sad. George should be smiling, not crying himself to sleep when he thinks no one can hear. Charlie and Percy want to blame themselves, for not arriving soon enough or for not being the one to die. Mum and Dad look so lost, and Gin and Ron are so sad, and Bill finds it hard to look at George. I want to go because I don't want to see this. Have no idea if you'll even remember this. Fuck. I just had to try to talk, in case I'll not be here anymore."

"We loved you, and it hurts to lose you." It's not something she can really explain, and her head is starting to hurt from the crying. "What do you want us to do? Have a party?"

"I don't know." Fred looks at her. "Never forget me but keep living, I guess. Talk to George. He knew, about what I wanted and was too bloody honorable to try, and he needs help because he scares me."

"I will," she promises, not sure if it counts if it's a promise to a figment of her imagination or not. It probably does. "We could never forget you, Fred."

"Yeah, I know. I'm unforgettable." He grins and winks as he starts to fade. "Drink your chocolate before it gets cold, Granger. And remember. You promised me."

She wipes her eyes and looks at the now empty chair as she whispers, "I'll remember."