AN: It has been over a year since I last updated this fic, and for that I apologize. I wish I could promise updates will be coming regularly but unfortunately I cannot. I've been out of any fandom for quite a while now and writing just doesn't come as easily as it used to. Be that as it may, I am committed to continuing and finishing this fic… eventually. I appreciate your patience and continued support in the meantime : )
Also, sorry for such a short chapter but I really wanted this scene to stand on its own.
Chapter Six: Passing Time
Fred failed to reappear at Hermione's flat after the night she'd forced him to shower. Her best guess was that her falling asleep next to him had really put him at unease, and she couldn't blame him.
She did, however, expect him to show up eventually and began to grow concerned after three days of no contact. Even after the incident at Eyelop's he'd come by within a day, and she found herself unable to focus on any other weekend task. Eager to clear her mind and do something at least a little productive, she left early on Sunday morning to visit George, stopping at a bakery on the way.
When she arrived, George took a brief look at the pink box in her hands before shaking his head. "Sugar for breakfast?"
"Absolutely. I usually try to eat healthy, but Sundays are my one exception. Calories don't count on Sundays." She smiled genially while George rolled his eyes.
"Somehow I think there's a flaw in your logic, but I'm willing to accept it if there's a jam pasty in there."
"What kind of friend would I be if there wasn't?" She opened the box, revealing the mixed assortment of pastries she had purchased. The jam pasty lay directly on top as she'd know he'd ask for one first and foremost.
"You," he said emphatically, grabbing the pasty, "are an angel. Sometimes I think you know us better than the rest of the family."
Hermione blushed. "I'm certain that's not true. I just have a habit of paying attention to the details."
"No." George shook his head. "That's not all. You genuinely care about people. It matters to you that you buy a scarf in someone's favorite color, or bring just the right desert for breakfast."
"Thank you George. I… I don't know what to say."
He smiled gently. "You don't have to say anything. I just… I'm glad you're here. I just thought I should say that."
Hermione engulfed him in a hug, nearly knocking over a display of Muggle playing cards. "I'm glad I'm here too." She pulled back, looking over his relaxed features and brushing his bangs out of his eyes. "What's happened to you? It's like the weight is gone."
He shook his head. "No, it's not gone. But it feels a bit lighter with you around."
Hermione pulled back and gave him a gentle tap on the shoulder. "Glad to be of service. Now, how about those pastries?"
George stuffed his pasty in his mouth and reached into the box to pull out an éclair. "This yours?"
"Of course." She took it far more delicately than he had grabbed it. "How'd you know?"
"You always go for the ones with chocolate on top."
"And you said that I know you well."
George smiled, pulling the top off of a muffin and tossing the rest back in the box. "We were always observant. Makes pulling pranks far easier when you know your target well."
"That makes sense." Hermione bit into her éclair, then frowned. "But you've never pranked me, so why pay me any attention."
He shrugged. "Habit I guess. How are things at work?"
"Pretty good. I'm working on some research that could have… exciting results."
"Mmm. Magical Creature Regulation does get dreadfully exciting."
"Ha ha, you're so funny." Hermione stuck her tongue out, trying to fight back her smile. Eventually she cracked, her smiling only growing larger when George started to laugh at her. She felt a strange sensation as the sound of his laughter echoed through the store while her mind wandered to the fact that she'd have access to the ministry archives the next day.