"The day is over," I point out with a small smile while adjusting my bag over my arm. "I have to go home."
"Have you given any thought to Hogsmeade this weekend? I know you live there...we could meet," William says, his voice full of eagerness. "Madam Puddifoot's?"
"I..." Trailing off, I look away, trying to find the best way to say no. I see Fred, far off, standing at the gate, waiting for me. My resolve stiffens and I return my focus on William. "I'm really flattered by the attention you've given me since I came here. You're a wonderful friend, William, it's just...I have a boyfriend."
"Him?" William asks, his nose wrinkling as he glances to where Fred is waiting. "He's old, Gabby."
Surprised, I release a quick giggle. "Old? He's twenty five!"
"You're seventeen. Isn't that a bit...icky?"
"William," I sigh, reaching out to touch his arm. "I want to stay friends with you. I like studying with you, watching you play Quidditch, but that's all there is. If that isn't acceptable to you, then we can't stay friends. Is that what you want?"
William is silent, pouting as he crosses his arms against his chest. Finally his shoulders slump and he sighs. "No, that isn't what I want. I've just never met anyone like you before."
I had a feeling he had never met a woman with Veela blood before and I found it difficult to believe he was interested in me as a person rather than my body, but it might be inappropriate to say so. "I'm sorry, William...."
"Hey, it's all right, no big deal." He shrugs and steps back as I turn to walk off the stone steps to Fred. "If you ever get tired of a shop owner, you know where I am."
I roll my eyes before turning to flash him a wide smile. "I do. Thanks." I leave him there, feeling a bit better now that I've told him where we stand. When I meet up with Fred, he takes my bag from me and slings it over his shoulder before taking my hand.
"All right, Gabrielle?"
"Of course." I wonder if he saw me with William, but he says nothing, only grins down at me as we walk back to Hogsmeade. "How is business today?"
"Slow, but this week is a Hogwarts weekend...so...well...I guess we'll have some business." I know he is thinking about the banned list he agreed to from McGonagall and I sigh softly, wishing I could find a way to help him.
"You know if you need money," I begin, but trail off when Fred shoots me a look.
"I don't need money, love. I have plenty of money. Besides, should I be saying that to you?"
I wince slightly, but it's true. My mother had cut me off from my allowances, and has even denied me access to my vault at Gringott's. I had nothing really, except Fred, who has been more than generous with his own Galleons. Thoughts of my mother disappear as I tune back into what Fred is saying.
"Weasley Wizard Wheezes of Dublin should be ready for opening soon." His voice holds a hint of excitement that makes me smile. "Cosmo has been working around the clock. Whizzy should be visiting soon, to check up on things for us." He glances at me when I scowl. "Still hacked off at Whizzy?"
"No," I bite, a bit too quickly. With a deep breath, I say again more calmly, "No. I still think he's a prat for what he did to Aveline, but he's your partner so I suppose I have to like him. At least until he makes it Whizzy's Wizard Wheezes of Dublin."
Fred snorts. "It has a nice ring to it."
"He has like...a billion Galleons. Aren't you afraid he'll buy you out and take the stores from you?"
"Whizzy wouldn't do that."
"You don't think so? Look at what he did to Charlie, marrying Tonks, then stealing her back from him again." Fred sighs but I press on as we walk quickly over the tracks into the village. "Whizzy is a businessman, an opportunist. He doesn't care about other peoples' feelings, obviously. If your stores make enough money, he's going to want more control."
"You're bias because of Aveline."
"And you should be bias because of Charlie."
"Are we going to argue this again?" Fred asks sharply and I scowl before falling silent. After a few moments of walking, he speaks again. "Charlie and Aveline are having a baby together. Maybe it wasn't planned, but they seem happy. You need to let it go."
I want to defend myself, to ask how Fred can trust a man like Whizzy Worthington, but I don't want to fight. Instead I stay silent until we enter Zonko's. Fred goes to speak with the clerk, and I am feeling rather pouty, so I continue up the stairs to our flat. I undress from my uniform and pull on a pair of jeans and a light t-shirt before I try to find something to make for dinner. Fred enters a few moments later, his gaze cautious as he toes off his shoes.
"Are you hacked off at me now?"
"No," I say flatly, pulling open the icebox. "I suppose I just don't understand how you can ignore loyalty to your family for a Galleon."
"Is that what you think I'm doing?"
I shut the icebox and face him, dinner forgotten. "Sometimes. I could never do to Aveline or Fleur what you're doing to Charlie with Whizzy."
Raking his hand through his hair, Fred crosses the flat to push open the doors to the balcony. "I thought we weren't going to talk about this."
"Fine." Pouty once more, I go to sit on the couch where I grab a Quidditch magazine. I begin to thumb through it, watching over the top as Fred undresses. I really liked his chest...solid, muscular but not overly so. Trim and lean...and that small patch of ginger hair that trails from his stomach down beneath his denims.
Uncomfortable now, I feel my blood heating, but I ignore him and focus on pretending to read the magazine. I tense when he crosses to me and pushes the magazine down. Annoyed, I look up to see him shirtless, looking gorgeous, and shooting me a rather irked look.
"Don't do this, Gabs."
"Play Ice Queen with me. I've told you where I stand with Whizzy, and with my brother. Charlie seems to have no problem with my business relationship. You shouldn't either."
I huff and say nothing, prompting Fred to pull the magazine from my hands and toss it to the side before he kneels before me. He takes my hands, kissing my knuckles before grinning at me. "It's a beautiful day outside, do you really want to waste it fighting?"
Stubborn, I shrug trying to hide the fact that my insides were melting every time his lips pressed against my wrists. "Maybe I do."
He chuckles and releases my hands before reaching for my waist. His fingers slide up underneath my t-shirt when he skims them over my ribcage. I shiver and release a short breath, prompting another smile from him. "I don't think you do."
Fred's hands cup my breasts and I close my eyes, biting my bottom lip as his thumbs fan over my nipples. "Fred." He rears up, latching his mouth to mine as my arms finally come up to wrap around him. He shifts me, pressing me into the couch where he lays on top, smoothing out my irritation while deepening our kiss. His tongue presses against mine and my legs fall open to cradle him. I arch, moaning when he pushes against my center.
"Don't want to fight," he mumbles before kissing me again, more passionately this time and I finally sigh in defeat and desire realizing that I didn't want to fight anymore either.