A/N: After I wrote about Fred and Angelina in 'Halloween Treat', reviewers said that I couldn't stop there. I had to give George a girl too. Since the thought of the twins not being identical in happiness was insupportable, I hope you find this story delicious as a Christmas Sweet.
It was hard acting jolly when he was in a bit of a nark, but George Weasley pulled it off with his usual panache. To take his mind off his brother's impending engagement party, the young man had gone overboard in decorating the shop for the holidays. Most other establishments along Diagon Alley were satisfied with a bit of greenery and a candle or two. A few went and splurged on white fairy lights to brighten the shop windows. While Fred was busy finding mistletoe to kiss Angelina under, George had taken number 93 to a pinnacle of Christmas cheer unsurpassed in the Wizarding world.
Outside, children stood peering in the window outlined in multicoloured fairy lights. They had to shield their eyes from the brightness, but shoppers up and down the street were drawn by the holiday glow. On the glass, an enchanted painting of Father Christmas waved to passer by and called out,
Ho Ho Ho, Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes has something for everyone on your list- naughty or nice!
Inside, a tree decorated with gag ornaments was the centrepiece of a shop loaded with tinsel, garlands, and lights. Several emancipated house elves had been hired for the season. They dressed in green 'elf' suits to wait on customers. Hermione indignantly protested they were perpetuating a denigrating stereotype, but George had assured 'ickle Ronnikin's' girlfriend that the elves enjoyed wearing the costumes. They'd even bargained to keep the hats as a Boxing Day bonus. Mad about bells, they were.
Overseeing the hustle and bustle of his prosperous enterprise should've made George merry, but he felt more like a Scrooge. Every time he saw couples holding hands, snogging under mistletoe, or smiling into each other's eyes, the redhead wanted to say "Bah, Humbug!"
"Oy, George, we brought you back some chestnuts!"
Looking up from the inventory list he was in the process of updating, he asked, "Were they roasted over an open fire?"
"How do I know?" Fred laughed, "I got them from a vendor down the street."
Catching the bag thrown to him, George frowned, "I suppose they're edible."
"I'll eat them if you don't." Angelina said as she entered the office. Ignoring the second chair across from his desk, she plopped herself down on Fred's lap and smiled, "They're marvellous, or maybe they just tasted so good because your gorgeous brother fed them to me."
Fred mock-complained, "Now, love, what have I told you about complimenting me in front of George? You know he suffers from low self-esteem being the uglier twin."
Laughing as expected, George replied, "Actually, my low self-esteem comes from not having a date to your party tonight." The cuddling couple exchanged a look that made his stomach drop. Holding up his hands, George said, "Wait a minute, that wasn't an invitation to set me up. Not after last time…"
"I thought you liked Kathy Claiborne?" Angelina asked, the red and white beads in her braids clinking together as she shook her head in confusion.
"After she got through informing me of the misery she'd put her last date through, I was hardly going to say otherwise!" They all chuckled, but his was forced. George made the effort to say lightly, "Maybe I'll drop by the Spinnets' shop, see if Alicia's still dateless too." The pair glanced at each other again. It was annoying. Relieved when they left the office to go up to the flat, he tried to continue working. Giving up a short while later, George left his capable help in charge and exited the shop.
Hunching his shoulders beneath a dragon hide cloak, the wizard avoided looking at all the happy shoppers while making his way down to a shop decorated classically, if a trifle unimaginatively for his taste. Entering The Light Fantastic to the jingle of bells, he looked past the numerous varieties of candles, torches, and illumination orbs on display to find Alicia helping someone at the back while her mother rang up a customer at the till.
As always, George thought it was a shame that such a fine looking girl wasn't going with anyone. Since she'd left Hogwarts, his Gryffindor team mate had dropped by once or twice a week to have lunch with whoever was minding the shop. Mostly him nowadays, since Fred was spending his time Flooing to snatch an hour with Angelina. Not that they needed a third party to keep conversation going. He and Alicia were mates, and even though she liked girly stuff, Spinnet kept up with Quidditch, and could talk stats as good as any bloke he knew.
"My Gran will love this candle! Thank you."
"I was happy to help." Alicia's smile widened as her gaze travelled from the customer heading to the counter to make a purchase to her visitor.
A funny pang struck George as he looked into sparkling dark eyes. She always looked happy to see him. He'd never realised how nice that was before. His gaze narrowed. Had her dimples always been that cute? They made her softly rounded cheeks look sweet. Opening his mouth to jokingly tell her she looked like a Christmas angel, his eyes dropped to her blouse. George yelped instead, "Your mother lets you wear that in public?"
Alicia had been doing so well that week. She hadn't gone down the alley once to feed her hopeless obsession with George Weasley. Finally, at age twenty two, she was determined to let go of feelings that would never be returned and find someone to appreciate what she had to give. It was going to be her New Year's Resolution.
Then George walked into the shop. The lights burnished his red hair and made his brown eyes look dark and brooding. Resolution forgotten, she wanted nothing more than to make him smile- preferably in contentment after a long bout of snogging. Hearing his indignant comment, she looked down, and then glanced up. "It's a sheer red blouse over a matching camisole, what of it?"
"What of it?" Face flushed, George stepped close. "Put it this way, the view makes me wonder just what you're selling."
Cheeks heating, Alicia put her hands on her hips to repeat warningly, "The view?" If he got any closer, she might do something rash. Like kiss him.
Flicking a disdainful finger across her bodice, George said, "You look like a Scarlet Woman in more than colour, mate." She drew in an angry breath. He gasped, "Don't do that!"
Alicia deliberately breathed deeply again, just to see him jump. She noticed he didn't look away. Struck by the humour of the situation, she asked more calmly, "Did you come here to stare at my chest and critique my clothing, or did you have another reason for stopping by?"
George's face rivalled his hair in redness. It was endearing and sexy at the same time. Shaking his head so that the long fringe fell into his eyes, he denied, "I didn't come to stare at your…" His hands came up to mimic what he was too embarrassed to say, fingers spread wide. A giggle escaped her. Hearing it, he grinned sheepishly, "Actually, I wanted to know if you would come with me to the party tonight." Earnestly, he added, "I don't expect you to break a date or anything, just hoped…"
"I'd love to go with you." She should've said she already had a date, and owled her cousin Jude, but somehow her sane brain cells had been overruled by the insane-about-George ones.
The thought of watching the couple's happiness gave her a twinge of envy. George saw the shadow cross her face and said, "I think you're a big person to go at all. I mean, it must be hard, seeing Fred with someone else."
Gaping, Alicia croaked, "Are you mental? Why would it be hard?"
"I know you've got a thing for Fred."
She laughed until tears rolled down her cheeks.
George shifted uncomfortably. "Are you hysterical? Should I slap you?"
Controlling her only slightly hysteric mirth, Alicia answered, "You'd better not, but explain what you said before I jinx you."
"That mean you don't go for Fred?" She hoped it wasn't just her imagination that his grin look relieved. Seeing her head shake, George said, "Seventh year, Jordan said he heard you were secretly in love with a Weasley, and right after that, Fred was all over you during Quidditch practice."
She giggled. "Sorry, George, but Fred fell asleep and his head dropped onto my shoulder. It wasn't romantic."
"No, he drooled on me!"
His shout of laughter had customers craning their necks to see what was so funny. Bowing and waving to his audience, George announced, "Extendable Ears are half off at Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes!"
Two women rushed out of the shop. Alicia scowled playfully, "Insult my holiday ensemble; accuse me of lusting after your brother who's engaged to my friend, and now stealing my customers. I'm supposed to go with you after this treatment?"
Could anyone, anywhere, give a puppy-dog look better than a Weasley? Unable to deny the irresistible wretch anything, she sighed, "Alright. What time?"
All smiles, he told her and left the shop, admonishing, "And wear something else, something decent!"
"What's this about decent?" Anne Spinnet inquired, after George had left, seeming to take the brightness and colour with him.
Alicia exhaled sharply and made a resolution that wouldn't be broken. "Remember that dress you tried to get me to wear on my last blind date?"
"The one you said would give a man the wrong idea?"
"Yeah," Kissing her matchmaking Mum on both cheeks, she said, "I'm wearing it tonight."
Contemplating the contents of his wardrobe, George sighed despondently.
"What's wrong?" asked Fred, pulling on a blue jumper.
"I've got nothing…"
"To wear? Are you blind man?" laughed his twin.
Shaking his head, George complained, "Nothing's…"
"Merlin, no, that's not a problem." Throwing up his hands, George snatched out a dark blue dress shirt and said, "This is more like it." Holding it up to his chin, he grinned at his reflection in the wardrobe mirror. "It's…"
"Dull?" supplied Fred helpfully.
"Respectable," corrected George.
An evil grin crossed the newly engaged man's face. "Any particular reason you want to look like a ruddy banker?"
"Should there be?"
"You tell me."
"I asked you first."
Fred sniggered, "Trying to impress a girl, eh?"
Passing up maroon dragon hide trousers for a sedate black wool blend, George stated loftily, "Giving Mum an early Christmas present."
Sniggering harder, his twin said, "Yeah, right, for Mum. Nice try, now spill."
Heading to the dresser to peruse his collection of cologne, he denied, "Nothing to spill."
"Do you kiss Angelina with that mouth?"
"Every chance I get, which is why I'd like you to have a girl too." Fred's smile was wry. "I don't believe in that tosh about twins having some kind of telepathy, but I can put myself in your shoes easy peasy, and I wouldn't like feeling that I was losing my best mate."
George said flatly, "So you want me to have a girl so I won't miss losing my best mate, is that it?"
"No, you great stupid git, I want you to have a girl so you'll know that you'll always be my best mate, and nothing's ever going to change that."
Before he did something cheesy, like get choked up and hug his brother, George said gruffly, "If you think I'm going to take your turn opening the shop tomorrow…"
"No, I'm not…"
"Trying to sucker me into it? I know. That's why I'll do it."
"You're my favourite brother," said Fred.
"I know. You're mine too," said George.
"Excellent," they said in unison.
"Jinx, you owe me a beer," the twins chorused.
Shaking his head, George snickered, "I'll buy you a beer if you buy me one."
"At Finnigan's, tomorrow after work?" proposed Fred. When his brother nodded, he asked, "Mind if Angelina tags along?"
The thought didn't annoy George so much anymore. Smiling, he said, "Yeah. I might bring somebody too."
The twins left to meet Angelina and Alicia, grinning identical grins of anticipation.
"If he thought I was a Scarlet Woman before, what on earth will George think I am now?" Alicia asked her reflection.
"Red hot?" her Mum suggested, seated in a cosy chair before the fire. Lifting up her romance novel that depicted a wizard embracing a witch in scandalously sheer dress robes, Anne Spinnet smiled, "That's what my current hero thinks of the heroine, who he's been harbouring a secret obsession for." Waggling her brows in the way her late husband used to do so well, the woman added, "Sexual obsession."
"Darling, I hate to sound managing, but since George obviously likes your personality, I see nothing wrong with having him fancy you as well. If pouring my girl into a sexy dress gets me redheaded grandchildren, I'm more than happy to do it."
"We're just going as friends, Mum."
"Your father was my best friend, and the love of my life." Smiling nostalgically as she smoothed the book cover, Anne said, "That's why I read romance novels…brings back memories."
Glancing at the mantel where their family photograph still held pride of place, Alicia smiled mistily, "Well, if George sees this dress as an invitation to snog me, I'll be more than happy to have him take me up on it."
The wards on the front door chimed. Her mother advised, "Cover the dress with a cloak until you reach the party. That way he won't be able to insist you go change." When she saw her daughter's surprise, Anne reminded, "I went to Hogwarts with his mother, dear, and Arthur was always insistent that Molly cover up what he called 'dangerous curves'."
Fastening her matching red cloak, Alicia opened the door, still smiling over the idea of mild-mannered Mr. Weasley commanding his wife to wear something decent.
After greeting her mother, George grinned at Alicia, looking unusually elegant and understated. She was encouraged that he'd gone to the effort, knowing how both twins loved flashy clothing.
"You look…lovely, yeah, that's it…with your hair up and all." The famed Weasley charm faltered as George stood staring and smiling.
Alicia was flattered and emboldened to say, "You look very handsome, but then you always do."
He drew himself up with a satisfied air. "Think so? Thanks." In a tone of discovery, he looked into her eyes and returned, "You always look good too."
"Have a good time," her mother prompted.
Alicia blinked. How long had they been staring? George shook his head slightly and called, "Thanks, Mrs. Spinnet, Have a good night."
"I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that you do the same."
Shrugging as though she hadn't a clue what her Mum was blathering about; Alicia exited the flat, smiling.
The Burrow was packed to capacity with family and friends. Entering through the back door, George turned to Alicia and said, "I'll take your cloak." She hesitated for a moment before undoing the clasp. Eyes widening at the sight of the dress she wore, he bloody well knew why. "I told you to wear something decent!"
"I think that dress is much better than decent, brother. It's gorgeous!" Ginny exclaimed, coming into the kitchen with an empty tray. Picking up a filled platter of hors de oeuvres, she winked at Alicia, "Love the neckline. What's it called- sweetheart?"
Gazed glued to the area in question, George said accusingly, "Is that because you can practically see her heart beat, exposed as it is?"
When Ginny laughed while returning to the lounge with her new tray, Alicia looked her escort straight in the eye and said, "I never knew you were such a prude, George Weasley."
Flushing, he denied, "I'm no prude!" Collecting himself, he said grimly, "If you want to show the world what nature has so generously endowed, then fine, let's go!"
Dragging Alicia by the wrist into the lounge, George couldn't believe she'd deliberately gone and worn a dress that barely had enough slinky material to cover areas that were all too easy to imagine uncovered. Fuming, he pulled her from one group to the next, waiting for someone else to comment on such inappropriate attire.
"Beautiful dress," Katie Bell enthused.
The girl's boyfriend added, "She almost bought one like it in green."
George smirked as he said, "You told her not to buy it, right?"
Lee Jordan laughed, "Course not, I'm not stupid. She liked a gold one better." Turning to Katie, he said, "Remember earlier, when we were talking about the Yule Ball? I think he's doing it again!"
Alicia looked from George's set expression to Katie's merry one and asked, "Doing what?"
"Well, you know how I ended up going with George because Lee didn't ask me until the last minute, and I wasn't going to put up with that…"
"Ron was worse than me, and that has nothing to do with the story," protested Lee.
Ignoring her partner, Katie continued, "The entire night, I had to listen to George grumbling that your dress robes were too fitted, and indecent, and bound to be giving Lee the wrong idea."
"She cornered me in the common room later and asked what kind of ideas I'd got."
"He told me he'd got the idea to ask me to go with him, and kissed me," sighed Katie.
A tray of champagne glasses was offered by Fleur. "For ze toasts, sil vous plait." George rolled his eyes when his sister-in-law asked Alicia, "Zat dress, eet is French, oui?" Hearing the affirmative answer, long blonde tresses were tossed back as she commented before sashaying off, "I knew zat 'ad to be so."
After toasts were made, Alicia hugged Angelina and Fred while George kissed his 'future favourite-sister-in-law's' cheek and clapped his twin on the back. Leading his date to the kitchen when the Harpies team came up to offer their coach congratulations, the redhead asked, "Are you hungry too?"
"No, but I'll take a butterbeer."
George felt strangely self conscious with Alicia watching him eat a plate of nibbly things that he had to pile up just to have enough to fill his stomach. It was like they were on a real date, and he wanted to make a good impression, and didn't want her to think him a hopeless cause so she'd agree to see him again.
She smiled. That pang he'd felt earlier returned with a vengeance. He finally admitted to himself that he did want her to think well of him, always had, and didn't want anyone else but her to go with him to Finnigan's tomorrow. Picking up something to shove in his mouth before he could do something stupid, like ask if she'd go with him for more than a drink, George gulped when Alicia asked,
"Do you still like Katie?"
The pumpkin tartlet he'd inhaled went down the wrong way. When he finished coughing, George replied, "To quote you, "Are you mental? I like Katie, always have, but I don't like her."
"You asked her to the Yule Ball." Alicia tried to keep the hurt out of her voice, but George must've heard it, because he looked at her oddly.
"I was doing a mate a favour. Anyways, you said yes to Jordan."
"Because you asked Katie instead of me,"
"Ronald, I told you to eat before you came, but if you're that starved, I'll simply have to make you a sandwich." Hermione's voice had that secretly pleased tone that women get when they have to take care of their men. Alicia smiled at the pair entering the kitchen.
George frowned. Standing, he said to Alicia, "Let's go to my room."
Plopping himself down at the table, Ron snickered, "I wouldn't. He's got etchings up there."
The older brother stopped considering which of Percy's gifts to give to Ronnikins instead when Alicia smiled, "I'd love to see them."
Upstairs, alone with Alicia in the room he'd shared with his twin for so long, George said, "I don't have etchings. In fact, I've never brought a girl up here before."
She listened in a way that he'd never fully appreciated during all those lunches when she'd encouraged him to share his latest invention or scheme. Her silent understanding enabled him to admit, "Speaking of girls, I'm happy for Fred, but I already miss it being just us, best mates, does that make sense?"
Stepping close, she took his hand and gave it a comforting squeeze. "You share a bond as twins that can never be replaced, but…isn't your heart big enough to form another kind of bond, with someone else who will love you in a different, more intimate way?"
Slowly, he nodded, before bringing her hand up to his lips. Noting the faint blush on her cheeks, George confessed, "What Lee and Katie said downstairs. It was true. I was acting like I did at the Yule Ball." Touching one of the cute dimples in her cheeks, he said, "I was jealous that someone else might be appreciating what I was too uncomfortable to admit I did."
Had Father Christmas come early? It seemed like her wishes of Christmases past were coming true. Looking up into George's eyes, Alicia gathered the courage to ask, "Why didn't you ever do anything about it?"
"We were mates." He smiled self-deprecatingly. "I was so thick I thought you liked Fred."
"I was secretly in love with a Weasley, but it wasn't Fred."
George felt something similar to that first time he'd lit off a bunch of fireworks. He was amazed, and awed, and so dazzled that he could only respond with a kiss. Alicia stepped into his arms, and nothing had ever felt so right. Her curves pressed close were exactly where he wanted them to be. His fingers dislodged the pins in her dark hair. Hers clenched in his when he deepened the kiss, exploring the mouth that opened so readily. Tracing her curves with his fingertips as he became lost in the caress of her hands and lips and tongue, George was unsurprised when fireworks seemed to burst behind his eyelids.
Alicia had always thought 'seeing fireworks' was a figure of speech. That it was true made her smile against inventive lips. Several minutes passed before she realised that there were actual fireworks lighting the sky outside. Feathering kisses along George's jaw line, she murmured, "We're missing the show. Do you want to go downstairs?"
Her gaze told him that Alicia knew that until now, he and Fred had always set off the family's fireworks together. Secure in the knowledge that there would be other celebrations, other fireworks to share with his brother and best mate, George smiled tenderly, "No. I want to form another kind of bond with someone I'll love in a different, more intimate kind of way."
Neither thought it coincidence when beyond the window, a rocket burst into stars.