In the Wee Hours of the Morning

Summary: Romance finds Hermione in the Weasley's garden. A simple little Hermione/George, after Bill and Fleur's wedding and before the horcrux hunt. Written post HBP.

Author's Note: I've got a crush on the idea of Hermione with George. It just feels nice. In case you're worried, I don't go bashing Ron or rewriting history. I'm all for a canon Ron/Hermione relationship, but fanfic is for exploration, hence George. The sequel to this story can be found in my profile under the name, Everything in Disarray.

(As of 2 Dec 2007 this story has been edited for small errors that I missed the first time round. The story remains the same with a few little tweaks here and there.)

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Bill and Fleur Weasley's wedding had been over for hours now. The guests had all gone home, and every member of the Weasley family, save one, was sleeping. Hermione Granger was lying on a bench in the garden staring up at the stars, still wearing her party dress. She drew lines between stars with her outstretched finger, naming constellations as she went.

The wedding had been wonderful, if a little lavish. At dusk the bride and groom had exchanged their vows, their smiling faces illuminated by an archway covered in glowing white flowers. The twins had set off surprisingly tasteful golden fireworks as the new Mr. and Mrs. Weasley had walked back down the aisle. The fireworks had continued to spin and pop all during the reception that followed, and had only recently faded out. Ginny had gotten her dance with Harry, which presumably led to a long snog in Ginny's bedroom. Ron had asked Hermione to dance, but so far as Hermione could tell his intentions towards her had only been friendly.

Hermione sighed, frustrated with Ron and herself. Things had been so much easier before. Before Lavender. Before Viktor. Before they'd started playing this game that didn't seem to get them anywhere. She wasn't even sure if she wanted to play anymore.

And in a few short hours she, Harry, and Ron would be leaving. There were horcruxes to be destroyed and a Dark Lord to vanquish. Somehow the fate of the world rested on the shoulders of three teenagers. Hermione laughed to herself. The situation seemed impossible.

Harry and Ron seemed almost excited to get started, but she felt terrified. She was facing the unknown, something that couldn't be scheduled in any homework planner. She didn't know where to find information on the horcruxes. She didn't know how they were created, much less how to destroy them without endangering their lives.

She couldn't bear it if Harry or Ron was killed.

It seemed like too real a possibility.

She shut her eyes against the onslaught of emotions. She wouldn't think of these things right now. She opened her eyes again, and focused hard on the stars above her.

Cassiopeia with her dress flying up over her head. Orion with his belt and sword. Ursa Major, Ursa Minor…

The sound of the Burrow's back door opening and shutting startled her, and she sat up quickly, smoothing her dress down. The figure walking towards her was too short to be Ron and too tall to be Harry. It must be one of the twins, and since Fred had needed to be levitated up the stairs earlier, it could only be George.

Handsome, dashing, mellow George. Hermione smiled slightly at him as he plopped down on the bench beside her.

"Hello lovely."

"Hi," she said simply, glad for his company. If anyone could keep her from her dark thoughts, it was the boy (No. Man, Hermione corrected herself) grinning at her.

"What are you doing out here?"

"I was just giving Ginny and Harry some privacy."

"What? Potter is in Ginny's room? Right now?" George stood sharply and turned towards the Burrow to save his sister's compromised virtue. "Why, that ballsy little seeker! Well, he's not going to get my sister's snitch." He stopped abruptly, whirling back to face Hermione when her hand latched onto his elbow.

"Leave them alone, George."

He looked momentarily troubled, but the look disappeared when he caught sight of the smirk on Hermione's face. "Besides," she continued, "if anyone's 'snitch' is in danger up there, it's Harry's."

He let out a surprised bark of laughter. "I did not need to know that about my little sister."

"And I shouldn't have told you," she said, smiling. George had the wonderful ability to put her in an irrepressible good mood. "Maybe I had too much champagne."

He sat down, stretching his legs out in front of him, and laying his arm along the back of the bench. "You and Fred both. He snores like a hippogriff when he's drunk."

"Can't sleep then?"

He shook his head and looked up, admiring the same stars that had held Hermione's interest earlier. She watched him silently. He had grown into a very attractive man. His jaw was strong and squared. Sweet boy-next-door good looks. Shaggy, sandy-red hair. His lips just right for kissing. He caught her blatant stare, and his kissable lips split in a wide grin, "See something you like, Mione?"

Hermione simply raised an eyebrow, unwilling to feed his ego, but unable to deny anything.

She started slightly when she felt his fingertips glide along the side of her neck, but didn't pull away. Her eyes slid shut for a moment and she took a deep breath. George lightly took her hand, and looked down at her smaller hand in his own and lightly traced her heart line with his thumb. She shivered and heard her breath catch.

"We didn't dance tonight," he said quietly.

It took all Hermione's will to respond. "Your dance card was a bit full."

He smiled slightly, still tracing lines on her palm and watching her fingers react. "Yes, obligation dances all of them. Mum, Ginny, Fleur, Gabrielle. I should have asked you, just to shake things up."

"Yes, you should have." She was surprised at how bold the words sounded coming out of her mouth. It must have been the combined effects of champagne, starlight, impending doom, and a remarkably good-looking boy holding her hand.

"We could dance now."

Hermione smiled widely. "My feet are tired."

"Oh, good," he said. "I'm exhausted."

They both turned smiling to look at the sky again. He wrapped his arm firmly around her shoulder, and she settled comfortably against him.

"Tell me a secret," George said.

She snorted incredulously. "No. You'll tell."

"I will not," he said. "Come on. Pinky swear."

Hermione turned her head slightly, looking straight into his eyes. His mouth was mere inches away from her own. She looked down at their hands, and George locked his pinky finger around hers.

"All right," she said, looking back to the stars and gathering her nerve. "Sometimes… I wish I were a normal girl. Just a girl who didn't have to help rid the world of evil. I wish I could laugh with Ginny, or even Parvati and Lavender about the articles and quizzes in Witch Weekly. I wish a new bottle of nail polish was enough to make my day better…"

"Wish you could just giggle about boys?"

She smiled, and nodded. He pulled her hand to his mouth and kissed the back of it.

"If you were one of those girls," he said slowly, "would you go to your friends and giggle about what's happening right now?"

"Definitely," Hermione sighed, and George kissed her open palm. Even just as she is, she may have to wake Ginny up about this.

"Okay, my turn," George said. Hermione turned to look at him, but it was his turn to stare at the sky. She supposed that telling secrets right into someone else's eyes is too difficult for anyone, even for someone as daring as George. She squeezed his hand in hers, offering silent support.

His voice was clear and strong, and it hit her like a stunner to the stomach. "I have a crush on my brother's girl."

She shouldn't be as surprised as she is, given how close they're sitting, and the way his fingers are curled possessively around hers. Questions like, "Why?" and, "For how long?" and, "What about Ron?" needed answering, but for now she chose not to ask. This didn't feel like a night for questions. She felt reckless, teetering on the edge of an unknown future, but just for tonight she could afford to be reckless. She watched his Adam's apple bob in his throat, and willed her tongue to form words.

"I'm not Ron's girl."

He bit his bottom lip, still not daring to look her way. Hermione reached her free hand out to slide along his jaw. His eyes locked on hers, and she smiled at the sheer sincerity she saw in them.

"George, kiss me."

He grinned slightly, tightening his arm around her shoulders and cupping her cheek with his other hand. Their lips met slowly, deliberately, tasting each other. Together they tasted like the sharp zing of champagne and wedding cake, sugary with a hint of vanilla. She reveled in the buzz in her skin, and the curling heat in the pit of her stomach. It had been so long since she'd been kissed… She lightly bit his bottom lip, and felt a thrill when he groaned and pulled her closer.

When they finally pulled away from each other, she heard his nearly silent, "Oh, Merlin."

"Mm hmm," she murmured in complete agreement. His mouth started kissing a path from her ear down the column of her neck, licking her collarbone. When his hot tongue dipped into the hollow at her throat, she moaned, unable to hold the noises back any longer. Her hands clutched at his shoulders, wanting more and wanting less, if only to catch her breath.

"Yeah," he mumbled against the curve of her neck, his breath skating across her skin. "This is going to get out of hand really quickly."

Hermione nodded, not sure whether she welcomed losing control of the situation or not. It hadn't been like this with Viktor. He'd made her feel breathless, and sent her skin buzzing, but he'd let her take control, and things had always been slow and deliberate. Not like this.

Their mouths met in a fury of lips and tongues, both set on the same goal. He pulled her closer, till she was sitting in his lap. His hand slid down her side, skimming the side of her breast. She gasped, and ran her fingers through his hair. A naughty voice in her head chanted, "More, more, more."

George pulled back, making a regretful noise. "We need to stop."

Hermione nodded and took a much needed breath.

He beamed at her, and chuckled, smoothing a hand over her hair, which had come loose from her previously sleek up do. "You're so beautiful." She smiled and ducked her head, bringing her hands up to her hair and began to pull out bobby pins. George dutifully held out his hand, and she placed the pins there one by one until her hair was free. She knew her curls were hopelessly wild, certainly at their bushiest, and she raised an eyebrow at George, daring him to make a smart comment. He only smirked and pulled at a lock that was falling in her face, and watched it bounce back.

"It's wild," he said, smiling.

"You're the potion maker. You could create something to control wild hair like mine."

"Never," he said, threading his fingers in her curls. "I just want to get lost in it." His eyes held hungry promises that sent a shot of heat straight to her center. She felt her breaths quicken, and claimed his mouth once again. Gods, but she never wanted to stop. Recklessness had completely taken her over and she liked it. There was only one logical place that this could go, and she felt like racing towards it, and Merlin help George if he wasn't running with her.

He moaned something that sounded like her name into her mouth, even as he pushed lightly at her shoulders. She made a disappointed noise and pulled away.

"Gods," he said breathlessly, "You have no idea how hard this is for me." Hermione thought she had a pretty good idea, all this starting and stopping was making her insides twist in frustration. "I want you so badly, but… this isn't the right… I don't know." She had to admit that he had a point, and if she was feeling more like herself she may have been the one to slow things down earlier. There was his family to think about, as they were in full view of the Burrow's windows, and there was the Ron issue that really ought to be addressed. She sighed, defeated, and nodded, sliding off his lap. The cool bench was a bit of a shock, and she clenched her hands around the edge and breathed deeply of the night air. She thought she may never feel completely calm again.

George stood and took a step backwards, as if needing some distance from temptation. "Come in and sleep with me."

She looked at him incredulously. "George, if you want to slow things down, that's probably not the best way to go about it."

"No," he said quickly, and she was sure his ears were blushing. "Just to sleep. In the living room. No funny business."

She bit her lip and nodded. Merlin knows she wasn't going to waste this night and sleep in Ginny's room

George led her by the hand into the house, and said in a low voice, "Mind you keep your sexy little noises down." Hermione giggled softly, and let him pull her down onto the couch. They settled in, wrapping arms around the other, finding moderately appropriate places for their hands to rest.

Hermione wondered if it was strange to feel this comfortable and attached to someone in so short a space of time. She supposed that it wasn't. She and George had known each other for years, even if they hadn't been close for most of them. She had even had the occasional daydream about him. Always George. Never Fred. And then there was the intensifying war, and how it made her feel like she ought to grab onto anything good within reach and hold on as long as possible.

"Let's stay like this forever," George whispered into her ear. She felt his lips curl into a grin against the shell of her ear and she shivered, holding him tighter against herself.

She wished they could. She wished his mouth would never leave her skin. She wished that morning wouldn't come.

"I'm sorry," she said quietly, their breath mingling.

George let out a small huff of laughter. "For what?"

"You're going to be angry with me tomorrow, and I want you to know that I'm sorry."

The smile fell from George's face, and Hermione could read the worry in his eyes. "Hermione, what's going to happen tomorrow?"

She shook her head, but looked like it pained her not to tell him.

"It's important, then?"

Hermione nodded.

"Okay," he said. "Well, we still have tonight, right?"

"Yes."

George smiled again, and caught her lips in a sweet kiss. "Let's make the most of it."

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Hermione woke to someone shaking her shoulder roughly. She moaned and pulled away from the offending hand, burrowing herself deeper into George's embrace.

Oh no. George. She turned her head to see Ron standing over them, glowering.

Bloody hell.

"We have to go!" he hissed angrily.

Hermione nodded, feeling guilty and hating it. She extracted herself from George's arms, and raced past Ron up the stairs to Ginny's bedroom. Ginny was still sleeping, snoring softly, for which Hermione was thankful. She didn't think she could stand another pair of angry Weasley eyes this morning. Her wrinkled party dress quickly found itself in a heap on the floor, and Hermione pulled on the clothes she had laid out for herself yesterday. All her things were already packed, shrunk and stuffed into a single backpack. She left her dress where it lay, knowing that Ginny would take care of it.

She found the boys in the kitchen, Ron looking like he wanted to punch something, or someone, and Harry looking like he wished he could leave the both of them behind.

"Sorry," she said hastily, plucking an apple from the bowl on the kitchen table. "Let's go."

Ron made a growling noise in his throat, and pushed the door open violently.

Harry hung back, and spared her a sympathetic look. "Are you all right, Hermione?"

"Yes, I'm fine. Let's go before anyone wakes up."

"Too late for that," a rough, sleepy voice said from behind her. Hermione turned slowly, and met George's amused gaze.

"Harry, I'll be out in a minute, okay?"

"Sure. Take your time."

When she heard the door snick closed, she pulled George into a desperate hug. "I'm sorry," she whispered in his ear. "I'm so sorry."

He squeezed her back just as tightly. "Wherever you're going, I'm going to miss you."

"I'll miss you too."

Their lips met in a kiss that was more about fighting tears than it was about desire. "This is so unfair," he said against her mouth. She nodded in agreement, catching his lips again.

She pulled away from him. "I have to go." She turned away from him, telling herself that she needs to be stronger than this.

As she opened the door he pushed it shut, and pulled her roughly against him, claiming her mouth in a desperate, nearly violent kiss. He tore away, resting his forehead on hers, both of them breathing heavily. "All right," he said shakily. "Now you can go."

"Goodbye, George."

"Stay safe, Hermione."

She took a long hard look at him, imprinting just how he looked at that moment into her memory. Sleep tousled hair, wrinkled pajamas, lips bruised from kissing her all night long. She tucked the image safely away as she walked out the door into the light of morning, preparing herself for all the questions and harassment that would come from Ron, and all the trials and terrors that she and her two best friends would face. She would save that image of George for when things became too difficult in the coming months, and she would remember and be happy for the few hours that George had let her be just a girl.

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A/N: The sequel to this story is called Everything in Disarray, and can be found in my profile. Happy reading!