-Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the property of JK Rowling
I finally got around to fixing this up... I think the changes make the story much nicer so, I wanted to republish it. Thanks to everyone who loved and favorited the original and I hope you like this version just as much!
-The Dance Among the Hedgerows
George Weasley juggled an arm full of heavy packages as he struggled with the key for the front door. Were it up to him he would live in an area where he could just wave his wand and unlock the door, but his wife had fallen in love with this charming little house in Surrey, smack in the middle of the biggest bunch of muggles he had ever seen.
George could do a lot of things, but he could not deny Mrs. Weasley anything that made her as happy as their little house did.
"Daddy?" a soft voice called out as the door opened "Is that you?"
George smiled. He'd been incredibly happy since his children had arrived home for the holidays. He missed them so much when they were gone.
"Callie...come and help please." he called back, the pile in his arms held breakable object's, including a cut crystal angel for his wifes collection...it would be a tragedy if he dropped it and broke it after spending so much time hunting it down.
Callie Weasley squealed with delight as she spotted her father.
"Oh daddy!" She jumped up and down and clapped as she spied the gaily wrapped boxes in his arms "Presents!"
George laughed "Yes, and if you don't take a few they'll all be broken when I drop them."
Callie smiled as she rushed forward to help him "Can't have that."
Callie relieved half of his load and skipped into the family room to place them under the huge Christmas tree. George followed her, grinning as he watched her long curly bright read ponytail bounce up and down as she skipped.
The house was uncommonly quiet "Where is everyone?"
"Mum took them shopping for dress robes."
"Them" was in reference to George's oldest children, Fred was seventeen and George was fifteen. Callie brought up the end of the Weasley family, at thirteen.
"And you didn't want to go?"
Callie sighed "Why would I want to go? It's not like I get to go to that stupid ball. Third years can't go unless someone older asks them."
'That stupid ball' was the yule ball. Fifteen years ago the wizarding world had once again brought back the Tri-wizard tournament and this year it was being held at Hogwarts, as it had when George was in school. Remembering his own disappointment, he hadn't had it in him to refuse to allow Fred to enter his name in the Goblet of Fire...it was the first time ever he had refused to bow to his wife's pleading...but even she had to admit in the end that Fred really didn't need their permission...he was of age. It was better that he enter with their full support.
Fortunately Fred hadn't been selected by the Goblet to compete, that honor had gone to one of the Malfoy boys.
"So..." George smiled at Callie as he helped her arrange the new gifts in with the older ones. "It's a stupid ball now is it?"
"Yes." Her lips were stubbornly tight "It's just a dumb, stupid, ball."
George tried not to laugh.
"So, no one asked you?"
"Oh daddy!" Callie's face broke as she fell into his outstretched arm for a well needed hug. "I wanted to go so badly! Loads of girls from my year are going...but no one asked me! What's wrong with me?!"
"Oh sweetheart..." George patted her back "There's nothing wrong with you."
"There has to be Daddy! At least half the girls in my year are going! And some of them aren't even pretty or anything... I'm just a big nothing."
"Callie." George sat back and shook his head "You're not 'nothing'."
"I feel like it."She sniffled "I can't even get a date for the biggest event in my whole school existence!"
"You know..." George handed her his handkerchief " I went to the Yule ball the year your Uncle Harry was Hogwarts champion, but you know something? I was probably the only one in my year that didn't have a date."
"You?" Callie looked at him and sniffled. This was news to her...she was well aware of how popular her father and late Uncle had been in school, they were famous! There was even a portrait of them in the Gryffindor common room!
"Yes, me." he nodded
"But Dad...how can that be?" She shook her head "You and Uncle Fred..."
George nodded "Yes, I know we were well liked during our years in school...but there was no one I wanted to date, and your Uncle Fred wasn't about to allow me to stay in our room alone all night."
"That must have been horrible for you...going alone."
George smiled as the memory washed over him. "It was...but it wasn't..."
Hogwarts Yule Ball
George Weasley felt like he stuck out worse than a sore thumb. He felt like an idiot, being the only sixth year without a date. Sure, Fred and Angelina were being kind and including him as much as possible, but still he felt like something worse than a loser.
He'd meant to ask Katie Bell, but somehow he couldn't bring himself to do it. By the time he had managed an invitation, she had already agreed to go with Lee Jordan. He then turned to Alicia Spinnet, but she also already had a date. Even his git of a younger brother Ron had managed to secure a date at the last minute. Gritting his teeth, George had asked two others before he finally gave up and planned to spend the night in his room playing solitary.
Fred would have none of that.
And so, he found himself the third wheel...no matter where he turned.
As the night grew later fast songs became rare and slow, romantic music became the norm. In frustration, he sought out the garden hedgerows...likely the only place he would be able to find some peace.
He had no more than found a bench to sit and mope than a flash of pink caught the corner of his eye. George rolled his eyes...trust his luck to sit in the spot where another set of young lovers had sought out a private place to snog.
"Sorry." he called out, his mood turning surly "But you'll have to be the ones to find somewhere else to conduct your business...I'm not budging."
"Conduct what business?" the girls voice was soft, almost afraid
"Who's there?" George stood and looked around him, his eyes falling on a slight girl with very long blonde hair half way hidden behind a rose bush. She was vaguely familiar...he recognized her from the hallways, though he couldn't remember her name.
"Luna Lovegood." she said softly as she stepped out of the bush wearing a soft quilted pink bathrobe and matching slippers "And you're George Weasley."
George was mildly surprised that she was able to tell him from Fred...usually people they didn't know well confused them.
"I know I am." a small grin curved his lips "What are you doing here?"
"Well..." Luna stepped a little closer "You see...my father went on expedition in Sweden, he's hoping to catch a crumple horned snorkack on film."
"A what?" George was beginning to wonder if this was a joke.
"A crumple horned snorkack." Luna stepped around the bench "He left me behind at school for the holidays, he thought there was enough happening here that I wouldn't want to go with him...but then...I did lie to him."
George blinked in confusion. "You lied?"
"Yes...I told him I was going to the Yule Ball."
"And why haven't you gone? To the ball I mean."
Luna began to laugh. She laughed until fat tears sat on her eyelashes.
"Is something funny?"
"I'm only a third year." She continued to laugh, now holding her stomach.
"So?" George was beginning to wonder if figuring her out might be more complicated than he thought.
"Don't be silly!" She howled "Who in the world would ask me to a ball? Don't you know who I am?"
"You're Luna Lovegood." Now that he thought about it, George thought he might have heard his sister Ginny mention her a time or two, and he was familiar with the name Lovegood...they were neighbors...sort of.
"No!" Luna still laughed "I mean WHO I am."
George looked at her blankly.
"I'm LOONY Lovegood." Luna twirled her finger around her ear and crossed her eyes "Everyone knows I'm mad...or at least, that's what they think anyway, just because I believe in things they don't."
"Like crumble hosed..."
Luna smiled "Crumple horned Snorkacks...yes."
"Well..." George considered "I don't see how that makes you mad exactly. It maybe makes you different at most."
"Thank you George Weasley."Luna smiled "That's a very kind thing to say."
George motioned to the bench "Would you like to sit?"
Luna nodded and sat beside him on the bench. "I hope you won't think badly of me...since I told a such a horrible lie to my father."
"Who am I to think badly of you?" George shook his head "I've told plenty of lies myself."
"I saw you, you know. When you and your brother tried to sneak your names into the Goblet of Fire." Luna giggled a little "You looked very...funny... with long white beards."
"Arghhh" George groaned "That was very embarrassing...and itchy."
"I imagine it would be." Luna looked around them "Won't your date be looking for you?"
George looked away from her huge blue eyes, suddenly very embarrassed "I don't have a date." he admitted grudgingly.
"Oh." Luna's eyes grew even bigger "I find that very hard to believe."
"To be honest..." George shifted uncomfortably "I'm not very good at all this."
"Talking to girls."
"Oh." Luna smiled at him "Well, you're talking to me, and I'm a girl." she looked away, embarrassed "But I don't imagine you see me as much of a girl."
"Not much of a girl?" George looked at her and arched an eyebrow "What am I suppose to see you as? A hoot owl?"
"No, of course not. But..." Luna grinned suddenly "Maybe a girl hoot owl?"
George grinned and laughed with her "So tell me Luna...what are you doing down here? Wouldn't you be more comfortable in your room? I know I would be."
"Oh...well I..." It was Luna's turn to shift away
"You came to watch, didn't you?" George smiled kindly
"I might have liked to attend....or to have danced, at least once." Luna admitted shyly "But, no one asked me. I am Loony Lovegood after all."
"It's nice to meet you Loony Lovegood." George smiled and shifted his head until he caught her eye "I'm dateless George Weasley."
"Luna Lovegood? " George stood and smiled down at her, offering his hand. "Would you like to dance?"
Luna smiled up at him and took his hand...
"Oh dad..." Callie sighed "That's the sweetest story I have ever heard."
"You just be patient sweetheart. As beautiful as you are, you'll have your own dances someday soon."
As they hugged the front door swung open.
"Mum really!" George complained as he stomped up the stairs "I don't need to hear this!"
"Oh oh." George whispered to Callie "I think your mother has been giving the boys the 'safe sex' talk again."
"Hey Cal..." Fred burst into the room, his face beet red from the cold outside "Guess what?"
"We ran into Michael Frobrusher in Tyers Formal Wear, he's over his dragon pox so he needs a date for the Yule Ball."
Callie looked at him skeptically "So?"
"So..." Fred grinned from ear to ear "So he asked me and George if you had a date yet."
Callie shot to her feet "Not really?!"
"Yes! I swear!" His smile was so like his namesakes "He's coming over tonight after dinner to ask you."
"Oh God!" Callie screamed and jumped into her brothers arms to hug him as she bounced up and down "Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!"
"Erm... Callie." Her mother stepped into the room and cleared her throat "I don't think you've asked your fathers permission to go yet."
Callie whipped around so fast her ponytail hit Fred in the face "Can I dad? Oh please, please please?"
George considered teasing her for a few minutes...just for fun, but his conscience won out. "If your mother says it's okay."
"Mum?" Callie turned her expectant face to her mother.
She smiled "How could I say no to that face?"
Callie screamed and ran upstairs, her brother following close behind dictating a set of rules that Callie was to follow, unless she wanted to see Michael Frobrusher beaten into a bloody pulp by one of her older brothers.
"Make me the fall guy." George grinned at his wife.
"I guess I'm going shopping again tomorrow" She sighed as she stepped up to George and kissed him on the cheek.
"I suppose so." George grinned and put his arms around her "That is, unless she wants to borrow your old pink bathrobe." He winked "It worked nicely for you after all."