Disclaimer: I forgot last time. I'm sorry. All hail JKR! This isn't anything I came up with. Well, *this* is. The concept and characters and anything you recognize isn't.

Hi. Sorry? Can we be friends again? This is an interlude, a little thing to get me back into this. We had a semi-happy moment and I lost it for a minute. Plus I had hella stuff going on. Anyway, enough excuses. Expect a longer chapter this week, I swear. I'm on Spring Break. So. I have the time. I have the energy. I have the devotion to you, my wonderful readers. *grin*

I'm so glad to be working on this again.

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"open your eyes, look right into the sunrise, it's waiting only for you"

-matthew sweet, "morning song"

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The sun was streaming through the window and reflecting off the walls, throwing a warm glow through out the room when Hermione woke up the next morning. She rolled over to look at the clock, taking a minute to stretch luxuriously before smiling at Crookshanks, who was sleeping at the foot of her bed. A brief frown marred her sleep-warm features as she remembered her encounter with Harry last night. The frown was quickly replaced by a thoughtful look as she reviewed the rest of the evening.

She had kissed George Weasley. Well, he had kissed her. Either way, she had participated in a kiss with George Weasley. And it had happened right in front of her building, on the street, like something out of a silent movie. Her momentarily serious face broke into a smile as she swung her legs out of bed. Leaving her pajamas on, she wandered into the kitchen, where she started a pot of coffee. It was a little after nine a.m. and, while it was late for her, she was surprised to hear noises from the flats above and below hers. She hadn't figured Alison or Caitlin would be awake this early, especially since they had stayed at the party even later than she had. She wondered if she should see how the rest of the event had gone, before deciding that she'd rather have the morning to herself to prepare for the banquet.

In the second after she'd completed that thought, though, she heard a knock on the door. Remembering her thought last night about how nice it would be to have some female companionship for once, she grinned ruefully and walked to the door, opening it to reveal Alison, who was still wearing her pajamas and talking a mile a minute.

"Oh, Hermione," the girl breathed, pulling Hermione into a quick hug before moving past her into the living room and sitting cross-legged on the couch, "last night was so cool! I can't believe that happened!"

Hermione was puzzled for a minute before she realized what Alison must have been referring to. "Oh, George intervening? I could've handled it." Before Alison had a chance to respond, Hermione looked back up at her, a small frown on her face. "It was nice of him. It would've been nicer had the situation not arisen at all."

Alison looked sympathetic for a minute. "It is a shame that your friend acted like that." Seeing the look on Hermione's face, she quickly added, "Not that he's your friend anymore. But! George walked you home and I'm dying to know how that was. We would've done it, but he told Caitlin that Oliver was there and. . .well, she had to go check."

Hermione had the grace to look a little guilty after that statement. "Oh, that. George mentioned something about that not necessarily being true after we left.

"Yes, yes," Alison murmured impatiently, "that's all fine and well, but what happened afterwards?"

Hermione got up and smiled to herself as she refilled her coffee cup. "Coffee? No? Okay, then." Returning to the living room, she sat down on the unoccupied end of the couch before leisurely responding. "He walked me home. Just like he said he was going to."

Alison gave Hermione a look that could only be described as withering before pressing for details. "And?"

"And, what?" So this was what it was like, Hermione thought to herself. Here she was, the night after a party, teasing someone with information. She wasn't explaining away any attention she had gotten, she wasn't hiding because she didn't want to hear about anyone's exploits. She was sitting here hiding her own. Or, at least, not revealing everything. While she was still cautiously optimistic about being friends with these two girls, she had to admit that she was having a bit of fun.

"Oh, god, Hermione, out with it." Hermione was jerked out of her reverie by a poke in the side. She shot Alison her very best Head Girl look before she caught herself and was dismayed to see the pretty American's face slide into a look of distaste. Hermione wasn't terribly surprised, she had once made Professor Sinastra flinch, entirely by accident, with that look during a particularly stressful meeting.

"Well, girl, if you'd rather not, I won't push." Alison started to get up, but was stopped by Hermione placing a restraining hand on her arm.

"I'm sorry, Alison," Hermione said quietly and with an apologetic smile, "I'm still getting used to the idea." She gestured around, encompassing the room and the two of them. "I'm still getting used to all the ideas, really." She was relieved when Alison's face softened and the girl settled back into the couch.

"That's fine, honey." Alison laughed, the silvery sound filling the living room. "It's a good thing you moved here. We'll give you plenty of time to 'be a girl', as you put it last night. Tell me what you want to tell me, if you want to tell me anything at all."

Hermione bit her lip before muttering, "He kissed me. Right in the street. Anyone could've been looking."

Alison laughed louder this time, peals that bounced off the walls, making Hermione reluctantly smile. Though she wasn't quite sure what was so funny about making a public spectacle out of her first kiss since that fateful June night.

"Oh, Hermione, I'm sorry. It's just that this is a research block. The reason we're all in this building is not only because Caitlin and I are from the States, but because we're practically the only people under eighty on the whole block. Which isn't necessarily old, but most of our neighbors tend to be early to bed types. I doubt anyone saw you. Say," Alison started, "was it good? The Weasleys are a fairly sexy group, I'm bitterly envious that you've known them for so long."

Hermione turned a deep scarlet before muttering something nearly incoherent.

"What," Alison said, obviously prodding the other girl, "I didn't quite catch that."

"Yes. It was great. It was amazing." Hermione looked like she was considering more, but decided to keep anything else to herself. Alison, taking the hint, started to unfold herself from the couch and moving towards the door.

"Awesome. While I hate to pry and run, I know you have that banquet later tonight and," throwing a mischievous wink at Hermione, Alison slyly paused, "I know you want to look your best."

Hermione looked up at a clock in the kitchen and noticed the time herself. "Oh! I hadn't realized - it's almost eleven! I wanted to do some reading before tonight."

"I'm sure you do," Alison smirked, "and I'm sure that George won't pop by at all early today. No, no," she continued, openly grinning at Hermione's look of dismay, "he didn't say anything, it's just a hunch. I'll leave you to it."

With a final wave, Alison moved through the door but didn't, Hermione noted, go upstairs, choosing to move down to the lower level instead. Well, she thought, this was what it was like to be one of the girls. Alison had swept in here like a thunderstorm, gotten the information and left. She'd seen Lavender do it to unsuspecting victims a million times. Smiling at the thought, she stood up and moved towards the bathroom, deciding that maybe she'd indulge and do her reading while she was having a good soak.

It was at the end of this good soak, having made significant progress in a book she was reading about the results of the Cruciatus curse on middle- aged wizards, that she heard the strange tapping that could only mean one thing.

Hermione, it seemed, had mail. She grinned sardonically at herself as she realized that she actively wanted it to be from George. Shrugging into a robe, she took a moment to put her hair up into a towel while she thought about it. Did that mean she wanted to be actively involved with George? If it was his owl, did that mean he wanted to be actively involved with her? She hadn't thought much about their shared moment in the moonlight, other than as a potential source of embarrassment. She'd admitted to Alison that she enjoyed it, though. And she hadn't lied, she really had enjoyed it. George Weasley had done something few were able to do these days - he had surprised her. He was intelligent, thoughtful and managed to get past her warily placed defenses. And while she was hesitant about admitting anything even to herself, she was, she realized, open to exploring the option. She obviously didn't know George as well as she thought, judging from his behavior the last few days. Who knew what else she hadn't noticed before?

Shaking away her ponderous thoughts and moving from the bathroom to the window in the living room, she was both surprised and relieved to see Gratiano. That answers that, she thought to herself, noting the odd feeling in the pit of her stomach when she saw the bright owl - she did want it to be George. And since it likely was, she was curious to see what he held in the bundle clutched in his talons. Shooing Crookshanks from his position in front of the window, where he was observing the owl, his tail twitching, she unlatched the window, allowing the owl to swoop in, drop his bundle on the table and perch for a moment on the back of her chair.

"Hey, there, little bird," she cooed, petting him and smiling when he reached out to give her fingers an affectionate nip before he held out his leg, where a note was attached with her name on the outside of the scroll. Taking the scroll, she hesitated, wondering if she should open the package or the letter first.

"What do you think, clever owl? Do I need to read this or should I open the package." The owl hooted softly, seemingly swiveling his head towards the letter. "Listen to me, talking to owls. . ." Hermione decided to read the letter first, but decided she'd better see Gratiano off first since she wanted to take her time. Digging some owl treats out of a drawer, she put them in a bowl and placed them in front of the bird, who carefully selected some before softly hooting once more and through the open window to the sunshine that filled the air.

Hermione decided to leave the window open and moved to the couch, where Crookshanks was still looking at the window as if he hoped the owl would return. Preferably when his mistress wasn't there to intervene.

"Oh, Crooks, you haven't gotten used to them yet, have you? Silly cat." She stroked his fur while she looked at the letter. She was almost afraid to open it. What if it was a letter saying he couldn't make it tonight? What if it was from Fred and not George? And, her primary nature surfacing, she wondered if she should ward a small area to open it all. This was still Gred and Forge she was dealing with, no matter how sweet and sensitive the latter seemed to be. She was, unsurprisingly, still a little wary after the Portkey incident. Swallowing her nervousness while scolding herself for being silly, she opened the letter, only to find it wasn't a letter. Not as such, per se. One line, not even a signature.

"I couldn't think of anyone I'd rather test these on."

It wasn't signed, but Hermione was nothing if not observant. The handwriting matched the letter she had gotten from George when he had covered her room in glitter. It could've been Fred, she acknowledged, but the handwriting was absolutely identical. Besides, George was right- handed, Fred preferred his left, which changed the way the letters would slant. Right, then, she breathed, this is from George. Moving over to the bundle and holding it cautiously, she untied the string that held an outer layer of paper around whatever it was.

She smiled, her breath leaving her in a rush, as she saw bright red flowers spilling out of the wrapping. Tulips, she noted. He'd sent her tulips, live ones, even. Picking them up, she held them to her nose, inhaling deeply.

She almost dropped them, though, when the flowers rustled and started to emit sound.

"Roses are red, violets are blue, not a witch in England is as smashing as you."

Laughing out loud at the silly poem, she was inordinately pleased to note that it was George's voice reciting the absurd variation of the old childhood valentine.

Well, she thought, settling back into her chair with the flowers gently resting in her lap, that certainly solved *that* puzzle. How could she not be interested in George? She just needed to figure out now was how she felt about that. Pursing her lips, Hermione immediately started thinking about the implications of her attraction to George. There were a million things to consider. What would her parents think of him, how would Ron react, would he be able to deal with her schedule? Would he distract her from work? Was he serious about her or was this a fling for him? She thought about it for a moment, but all she could focus clearly on was how his hands felt on her waist last night as he kissed her.

Answering questions, she thought for possibly the first time in her life, could wait. Smiling, she stood up and moved to put the tulips in water, smelling them once more and hearing the charming couplets erupt into her kitchen, she decided she was going to finish her book. Then, she thought, she'd go consult her new in-house fashion consultants and she'd whip up some snacks and she'd sit down and relax for a minute with a boy she adored.

One that, for once, might adore her back.

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Again, I'm sorry. Again, I promise to be a better author and not leave you hanging forever. In fact, George and Hermione are going to the banquet next chapter, aren't you thrilled? C'mon, I know you are. No? Well, Oliver and Caitlin will be there. . .perhaps a professor or two. . .you never know. . .