AN: For Emily, who always seems to end up getting sad fics from me. I tried to write some Hermione/George for your birthday but this is what came out.
We All Need Comfort
We All Need Comfort
George looked up to find Hermione standing in front of him, a cold butterbeer held forward. He watched the condensation drip down the glass bottle to the lawn below.
"I think I might need something a bit stronger than that," he told her. He wanted to smile as he said it; tried to smile but couldn't. That part of his soul that made him laugh everyday had been ripped away. Nothing had come to take its place yet. He didn't know if he wanted anything to. He didn't think anything could.
"Ron said that as well, but I don't think you're so foolish as to think drinking will do any more than numb you temporarily."
"I'm already numb," he mumbled.
She sighed and sat beside him on the step, butterbeer placed between their feet.
"I don't think anyone can know what you're going through," she admitted softly as the wind blew her hair across to tickle the skin of his neck. "We're all still here for you though. I know it may not amount to much right now, but your family loves you; and that includes Harry and me."
Her fingers twitched twice before she reached across to squeeze his hand. He was surprised to find himself squeezing back.
"Thank you." His voice was hoarse and he wondered if she knew it was because he was trying to stop crying. He hadn't felt the heat or tasted the salt of his own tears since they were eight years old and had gotten themselves lost in London after seeing their brothers board the Hogwarts Express. Now he was getting used to the feeling and he didn't like it.
They sat in companionable silence, hands still entwined as they watched the trees sway in the breeze. Deep in the house George could faintly hear his mother breaking down again. Another tear made its way down his cheek.
"What was the deal with the toilet seat?"
He jumped at the sound of Hermione's voice, and turned to her. "What?"
"The toilet seat that you two tried to send Harry after the incident with Quirrel. Ron seemed to think it was hilarious but he refused to tell me why."
The corner of his lip twitched and he closed his eyes to relish the serene feeling that passed over him at the mere thought of laughing honestly.
"You could have always asked us."
"I know. But, well to be honest, you two were still a bit scary at the time."
George did laugh then, and his body embraced the feeling so whole-heartedly that it took him a while to calm down, and even then he was short of breath.
"You think we're scary?"
Hermione blushed, looking away from him in embarrassment. "Oh, hush. You were both much bigger than me, and loud and causing trouble. You talked back to the professors! Do you have any idea how that looked to me?"
She shook her head exasperatedly. "No. It was dangerous and rude. I thought you had to be both brave and crazy to do that."
"Brave and crazy, huh? I think we can live with that... I can live with that."
She sighed, then leaned closer to rest her head on his shoulder. "Brave, crazy, and incredibly stupid," she told him, carrying on as if he hadn't slipped. He was grateful to her for that.
"Oi. The Weasley Twins may be a lot of things, but stupid ain't one of them."
"Stupid isn't one of them."
"I hardly consider being intelligent an insult."
"It is when it comes packaged with being boring and prudish."
She rolled her eyes, nudging his arm with her shoulder. "I'm not that boring, am I? A bit plain I suppose."
"No you're not."
His voice came out so forcefully that she turned her face towards his instantly. He cleared his throat and looked out towards the horizon, finally letting go of her hand.
"Plain, that is," he clarified. "You can be a bit boring, and definitely a prude, but you're not plain."
"Oh. Thanks, I guess."
She shifted slightly and George could feel the atmosphere jump from comfortable to awkward. He wasn't quite ready for her to walk away yet.
"We met Harry at King's Cross," he explained. "Poor Ginny was so upset that she wasn't coming so we promised to send her a toilet seat from Hogwarts. We never did, since Mum would've murdered us if we had, but we thought Harry might appreciate it."
Hermione smiled and her stance relaxed, both of their bodies shifting closer.
"Who came up with the idea for the portable swamps?"
"That one was all Fred. He said a toad like Umbridge should be caged in its natural habitat." George couldn't help smiling at the memory.
They carried on like that for some time; Hermione asking questions and George answering. It wasn't anywhere near as painful as he expected, and in fact it was a comfort to remember all of the happiness in his twin's too short life.
Ron and Harry came out near dusk, but somehow the two found the propriety to not interrupt, both boys simply sitting on the porch to listen. Bill and Fleur came next, then Charlie, Percy and Ginny. They all had stories to tell.
It was fully dark out, the moon hanging high in the sky, when their parents emerged. They both sat in chairs overlooking their family and listening as nine young adults worked through their loss by discussing the legendary life of Fred Weasley.
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