A/N: Here's chapter one I hope you enjoy it. It's a Ge/Hr (George/Hermione) romance. There's not so much romance in this chapter, but there will be in later chapters! It's PG-13 for suggested things in later chapters.
The story begins in a town by the name of Sidmouth. It was a busy day in late July and the High Street of the small coastal town was swarming with Muggles. The weather was very hot, even for July, and sticky.
George Weasley was taking a well earned break from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. Fred had assured him that everyone at WWW wouldn't even notice he was gone, though George had his doubts. He was the more imaginative of the twins and it often fell upon him to develop new ideas whilst Fred negotiated business deals. However, George usually accompanied Fred to business meetings in case the person they were meeting with was a woman - Fred had a tendency to get distracted.
He was enjoying being in the quaint Muggle town, with its picturesque views and postcard shoreline. He liked the fact that no-one recognised him. Owing to the success of WWW, the Weasley twins had often been rated high in the lists of eligible bachelors.
Out of nowhere, a woman knocked into him and he fell clumsily to the ground. Slightly dazed, he looked up to see who had knocked him over. The woman had light brown hair in loose ringlets that had been turned golden by the sun and were left loose and violet-tinted sunglasses that she perched on her head. She was wearing a pair of faded jeans and a white vest top, over which was an olive-coloured blouse, left unbuttoned because of the heat.
She looked down at him and bit her lip. "I am so sorry!" she exclaimed. She held out her hand and helped George to his feet. "And the Klutz of the Year Award goes to Elizabeth Mason," she said with a laugh. George couldn't help but think she was familiar.
"Don't worry," he said. "The only thing that's bruised is my pride!"
"I'd love to stay and chat all day," Elizabeth said, "but I'm really late for an interview. Maybe we'll bump into each other again sometime? Not literally, of course! Anyway, it was nice seeing you, George. Bye!"
She turned and started to walk away, pulling her sunglasses down over her eyes, and it was in that instant that George realised why the woman was familiar. "How did you know my name?" he called confidently. She stopped in her tracks. She turned around to face him, her face expressionless. "Hermione?" George asked, hopefully.
"I, I don't know anyone called Hermione," she said, stumbling over her words slightly.
" Hermione. Hermione Granger," said George, more confidence in his voice. He couldn't understand why anyone would deny being Hermione Granger, one of the most powerful witches in the world and long time friend of Harry Potter and George's brother, Ron Weasley, both of whom were considered a couple of the greatest heroes of the last century. She was a heroine in her own right.
'Elizabeth Mason's' face paled under her slight tan. "Hermione hasn't existed for a long time," she said fiercely. "Excuse me, but I really should be going now. Good day, sir." Her tone was forceful, but George grabbed her arm to stop her leaving. She tried, unsuccessfully, to shrug him off.
"Why are you pretending you aren't Hermione, when I'm sure as hell you are?" George asked angrily, ignoring the strange looks from passers by.
Using her free hand, 'Elizabeth' wrenched George's hand from her arm and glared at him. "I may have been Hermione Granger several years ago, but she no longer exists. She's just another name in the history books; another memory."
George gaped at her. He looked wildly around and saw his chance. He seized her hand and pulled her down a small side alley that ran between a book shop and a greengrocers. Concentrating hard, he Apparated to his hotel room, Hermione in tow.
"Why've you bought me here?" she shouted.
"To talk," said George simply. "If you don't mind I'd rather you didn't shout - the hoteliers think I'm strange enoough as it is." He settled himself down on the edge of the bed. Seeing that he wasn't going to let her leave until they had talked, Hermione started to pace the length of the room.
"So," George began. "You, uh, live here as a Muggle?"
Hermione wrinkled her nose. "Nah. Well, not completely, anyway. I have a Muggle job but I still use magic at home." She removed her sunglasses and looked George straight in the eye. "That wasn't what you wanted to ask me, was it?" she asked, knowing exactly what George wanted to ask her.
George sighed. Hermione had always been more intelligent than him. "All right then. Why hasn't anyone seen or heard from you in five years? Why did you suddenly pack up and leave one night, without so much as a word to us?"
Hermione gave a sad smile. "That," she said, "is a question I have asked myself everyday for the past five years." She stopped pacing and sat on the small couch that was in the hotel room. "I'm not sure why I did it. I remember it like it was yesterday. We, meaning myself, Harry, Ron, Ginny and a couple of others, were at the Leaky Cauldron, just having a drink and a laugh. I remember we were discussing Ron's current girlfriend, some Spanish witch, and what we were going to do for Halloween."
All the time that she had been speaking, Hermione had been staring at the floor, not daring to make eye contact with George. She took a deep breath and continued, as if it hurt to talk about why she had left. George got the impression that she had thought many times over the past few years about what to say to anyone if they ever saw her again.
"When I got home that night, it was like something just clicked. Something told me that I had to leave; get out of there and stay out. I just packed up my belongings, took my wand and left. At first I travelled. I stayed mainly in Europe, but I did venture into Asia for about a month. France was great, Germany was amazing, Italy was... well, let's just say Italy holds a lot of memories. After about a year and a half which felt more like a lifetime, I came back to England. One of the first things I saw was a Wizard poster."
Wizard posters were posters that Wizards and Witches alone could see.
"Do you know what that poster was, George?" Hermione asked, for once looking at George. George shook his head, but as he did so, he realised what the poster must have said. "It was a missing poster. It was me. Me. I'd almost forgotten that I had left without saying anything or telling anyone, and I realised that I couldn't go back to the life I'd had before. So I changed my name and appearance, rented a flat and got a job as a Muggle journalist. For once I was actually happy with my life. Then today, I literally bump into you." She looked at George, an unreadable expression in her blue eyes. "What now?"
"What do you mean 'what now?'?" asked George, slightly perplexed by this question.
"I mean what happens now? I've come to believe that everything happens for a reason. I don't think me running into you was just a clumsy coincidence," said Hermione, giving him a small smile. "I think it means that it's the right time for me to go back."
"Go back?" echoed George. Hermione had always been able to confuse him.
"To being Hermione Granger. I think it's time to put Elizabeth Mason to rest."
"One question," said George. Hermione nodded, inviting him to ask her what it was he wanted to know. "Why Elizabeth Mason?"
Hermione's face broke into a broad smile, lighting up her face. "Elizabeth is my middle name and Mason was my mother's maiden name."
"When do you want to go back?" asked George. He was starting to get used to the idea of having Hermione back in everyone's lives again. Hermione looked worried at the idea and shrugged. "How about tonight?" George suggested, "I'll take you to the Burrow. Mum'll be glad to see you. She'd probably cook a feast!"
"T - tonight?" croaked Hermione. Then she sighed. "I might as well get it over and done with," she said. "Tonight it is."
At eight o'clock, Hermione met George at his hotel room. She was extremely nervous and kept pacing the room while George got ready. While she pace, she kept smoothing out imaginary creases and folds in her dress, which was a simple black dress, falling to just above her knees. She had a pale lavender-coloured blouse on as well, which was practically see through.
"Are you ready?" asked George, stepping out of the bathroom.
"As ready as I'll ever be," replied Hermione, smiling a fake smile. "Oh!" she exclaimed, glancing her reflection in the mirror. "One last thing." She pulled her wand out of the small bag she was carrying and waved it in front of her face, muttering something under her breath. When she turned around to face George again her eyes had returned to their normal deep brown colour, instead of the blue they had been previously.
She looked at George and nodded. "I'm ready," was all she said. Together, they Apparated to the Burrow, arriving just outside the front door. From inside they could hear sounds of laughter and people talking.
"Okay," said Hermione, sounding uneasy. "I know I haven't been here for a few years, but it's not normally this noisy, is it?"
"Not normally," agreed George. "But it's kind of a special day."
Hermione's eyes widened. "Oh no," she muttered. "It's not, is it? Please tell me it's not July the 31st! Please." The look on George 's face told her it was. "Why?" she asked. "Why today? Today of all days! You had to bring me here on Harry's birthday, didn't you?" George grinned sheepishly. "Argh!" she exclaimed, sitting down heavily on the doorstep. She looked up helplessly at George. "I can't do this!"
"Of course you can," said George gently.
"No I can't," said Hermione, angrily. "I walked out on Harry and Ron, on everyone, five years ago. I can't suddenly waltz back into their lives like nothing's happened, especially on Harry's birthday!" she said, tears starting to form in her eyes. "It's not right!"
She stood up, as if to Apparate away. "Where are you going?" asked George.
"Anywhere. Anywhere but here." She glanced behind her at the house. "I shouldn't have come. I should have just kept walking when I bumped into you, but I had to stop and help you up, didn't I? I had to be the Good Samaritan, didn't I?" She looked as if she was about to burst into tears, so instinctively, George wrapped his arms around her in a hug.
The door of the Burrow opened and someone called "Hey, George! Who's your new girlfriend?" The voice was playful and even slightly mocking, though it sounded as if the person it belonged to had had a couple of drinks. Hermione let go of George and turned around only to be greeted by the smiling face of Ron Weasley. Ron's eyes widened and he shook his head. "Oh. My. God. It can't be..." he said in a hushed voice.
"What's going on?" asked someone, coming up behind Ron. It was Harry. He stared at Hermione as if she were a ghost. "Hermione?" he asked quietly.
"I'm sorry!" she said. "I shouldn't have come." She turned back round to face George. "Don't bother looking for me," she told him. "You won't find me."
She was about to Disapparate away when Harry called "Stay." Hermione whirled around, and stared at him in surprise. "Please?" he asked.
"You don't really want me here," Hermione said, but to her surprised, Harry and Ron came out of the house and practically frog-marched her inside. When they walked into the living room where the small party was situated, the chatter stopped. There was a tinkle of glass as someone dropped their drink at the sight of Hermione, who was stood, pale faced, between Harry and Ron.
Hermione bit her lip an ran into the kitchen, not wanting to be the centre of attention. She was closely followed by Harry, Ron, Fred and George. She sat at the kitchen table and buried her head in her hands.
"We're not angry," said Ron, slipping into a seat beside her.
"No," agreed Harry. "Actually I think you're pretty brave. I've always wanted to get away from Ron, I've just never had the courage."
Hermione gave him a weak smile while Ron thumped him. "You're even less funny now than you were at Hogwarts," she told him.
"But I did get smile out of you," Harry pointed out.
"That you did," said Hermione. "So," she said, preparing herself. "Where is it?"
"Where's what?" asked Ron, thouroughly confused.
"The interrogation. You know - where have you been? What have you been doing for the last five years? Why haven't you been in contact? Why didn't you tell us you were going? Why did you just up and leave one night? Why..."
"Whoa, Hermione! We can give you the interrogation if you want, but if you don't want to tell us you don't have to," said Harry a lopsided grin on his face. "You're back and that's all that matters."
"And you have blonde hair," said Fred.
Hermione looked at Fred uneasily. "Ignore him," advised Ron. "He's been testing a new product. It's a love potion type thing." He pulled out a notepad and quill from the pocket of his robes. "Atracted to blondes," he muttered as he wrote it down. "Or possibly Hermione."
"You work for the twins?" asked Hermione. Ron nodded.
"With them, technically, but they like to think that they're above me."
"We are above you, and don't you forget it!" warned George, taking a seat opposite them at the table.
"So what bought you back here?" asked Harry kindly.
"I bumped into George this morning," said Hermione.
"I have the bruises to prove it," interupted George, which made Hermione grin.
"He persuaded me to come here tonight. Of course, I had no idea it was your birthday, Harry." She frowned. "I'm sorry if I ruined it for you," she said sadly.
"You have nothing to apologise for," said Harry. "This is probably the best birthday present I could ask for." He ran his fingers through his hair, which was still as messy as ever. "I'm glad you're back."
"Me too," said Hermione, smiling. She noticed the four male faces that were looking at her with the same expression and she sighed. "Okay! I'll tell you what happened while I was gone..." She launched into the story of her life for the past five years, telling them what she had told George earlier, but adding in a few extra details.
By the time she had finished, they had been joined by the rest of the Weasley children as well as their respective partners. They had also managed to get through several bottles of wine.
"Is there anyone special in your life at the moment?" asked Ron. He looked at her quizically.
"Come on, Hermione," piped up Ginny. "We want all the juicy details!" A few people laughed at this, and Hermione merely smiled.
"Depends on your definition of 'special', I suppose," Hermione stated, shrugging slightly. "If you mean dating; no. If you mean someone I like; possibly."
"Hermione's got a crush, Hermione's got a crush," Ron started to chant, dancing around the kitchen like a lunatic, even pulling Ginny over to dance the Tango with him.
Hermione leaned over to Harry. "Exactly how much has he had to drink?" she asked him. Harry held up his fingers to indicated that Ron had drunk seven glasses of wine. "Seven?" she asked, and Harry nodded. She gave a low whistle. "I never knew he was such a lightweight!" She pulled her wand out of her bag and pointed it at Ron. "Soberatum," she said, almost lazily.
Instantly Ron stopped dancing. He shook his head a few times and let go of Ginny. "Was I just dancing the Tango with my sister and singing 'Hermione's got a crush'?" he asked. Everyone nodded and Ron blushed furiously. He sat back down at the kitchen table. "Did you call me a lightweight?" he asked Hermione.
Hermione nodded, an evil grin spreading across her face. "Yup," she said. "Even I can drink more than you."
"Is that so?" asked Ron. He summoned a bottle of tequila and two shot glasses. "Everyone except Hermione out," he ordered as Hermione, took a drink from a bottle of Butterbeer.
Everyone looked at Hermione, who said "Do whatever he said," a smirk upon her face. The spectators left and went slowly back into the living room, wishing that they could see what was going to happen. At about three o'clock in the morning, George appeared in the kitchen. He was confronted with the sight of Ron lying face down on the table, and Hermione milling around at the stove preparing what looked like an enormous fry-up.
"What happened to him?" George asked Hermione, pointing to Ron. Hermione looked at Ron and grinned.
"He had a bit too much to drink and passed out a couple of hours ago. Has the party finished?" she asked.
"Yeah, at about midnight. Everyone's in bed. I couldn't sleep so I came down here to see what had happened to you two. I was half expecting to find..."
"George!" said Hermione indignantly, putting her hands on her hips. "Don't even say it. I know what you though, and for your information Ron is my friend. I wouldn't... ewww." She cracked an egg into the frying fan and threw the empty shell into the rubbish bin.
"So how did you do it?" George asked. "How did you make Ron drink so much that he passed out?"
"It was easy," said Hermione. "I had about three shots of tequila, then after that, every time I had a shot, I'd follow it up with some Butterbeer." The look on George's face told her that he didn't understand. She sighed and said "You drink a shot and spit it into the empty Butterbeer bottle. A little thing I learnt from a Muggle film. Ron was so stupid he actually fell for it. Poor guy: he's going to have one hell of a hangover when he wakes up."
She was just flipping over a piece of bacon when Harry walked into the kitchen. "What are you two doing up so early?" he asked. Then he spotted Ron. "I'm not even going to ask," he said, shaking his head.
"I couldn't sleep and Hermione has been up all night," explained George, while Hermione merely smiled as Ginny bounded into the kitchen.
"Morning, all!" she said, taking a seat at the table, a huge grin plastered over her face.
"Ginny," said Harry, "exactly how much of the fruit punch did you have?"
"That was all I was drinking! I don't like alchohol! Why?"
Harry looked at George who said "It was all Fred's idea," to which Harry simple rolled his eyes.
"What was wrong with the punch?" asked Hermione setting some plates of food down on the table. At the smell of freshly cooked bacon and eggs, Ron began to stir. When he opened his eyes, they were horribly bloodshot and the smell of alchohol hung around him.
"It's a new product we're testing," said George. "It's a Cheering Charm, but one that you can drink. Ginny here is going to have more pep that an entire American Muggle cheerleading squad for... well, we haven't quite figured out how long."
"I'm happy, happy, happy!" exclaimed Ginny, causing Ron to cover his ears and glower at her. Hermione set down a goblet in front of him.
"Drink," she instructed. "It's a hangover cure."
I hope you liked this chapter - please read and review - I like to hear people's views. :)