Seven Sleepless Nights by WeasleyForMe
With swirling thoughts and a hectic schedule, Hermione finds herself unable to sleep. When George shares his secret with her and keeps her company, she finds another, sweeter reason to stay up late.
Thanks to Clover Bay for beta reading!
It was difficult to determine the precise reason, but Hermione had been unable to sleep for a full night in weeks. She equated it to stress. There were too many things going on around Hogwarts this year, and very few of them were pleasant. Everything had been going well enough with Dumbledore's Army, but of course that only really served as a reminder that they were on the brink of war. And, not only did she have to worry about studying for OWLs, she also had to watch her every step around the castle with Professor Umbridge on the prowl.
As she turned over in her four poster bed in the Gryffindor dormitory, Hermione rubbed the back of her hand which had been torn apart during detention the previous week. Professor Umbridge had made her write "I will not speak out" until her eyes were brimmed with unshed tears and her teeth were chattering in pain. All the while, the customized quill sliced gashes deep into her flesh. Harry had been right about the pain; she still felt tinges of soreness, even after a week of soaking in Essence of Murlap.
Sleep would not be coming readily, and suddenly the column of moonlight streaking in through the window forced her the rest of the way awake. Hermione sat up in her bed, letting her feet hit the cold floor next to her slippers. She quickly stuffed her toes into the fuzzy warmth while she stood and pulled her light blue robe over her matching shirt and pyjama pants.
As she grabbed her Transfiguration text from her night stand, she turned to see that Lavender's bed was empty. Undoubtedly she was off snogging Ron, and Hermione hated the thought of it. She was over him, there was no doubt in her mind, but she loathed the way they had to flaunt it in front of her face. He had, in many ways, chosen Lavender over her, and their friendship was suffering.
With a quick pause, Hermione reached under her pillow for her wand. If Ron and Lavender were snogging in the Common Room, she would at least have the proper means with witch to hex them. With a small smile she headed down the stairs into a completely empty Common Room and took a seat on a large crimson loveseat and started to read.
She had read two full chapters before the clock on the mantle chimed one o'clock in the morning on Monday, startling her from the pages. She set down the book and stretched her arms just as she heard footsteps coming from the stairs that led from the boys' dormitory. As soon as she saw a flash of red hair, she drew her wand, but she was relieved to see that it was George instead of Ron who emerged.
"Hey, Hermione," George said carefully. He had come to a complete halt when he saw that she had pulled her wand on him.
With a small chuckle, Hermione tucked her wand back into her robe pocket. "Hi, George."
Nervously, without moving fully into the Common Room, George asked, "What are you doing up so late?"
Hermione smiled at him. "Well I'm tired, but I can't seem to sleep."
"I know what you mean. There's just too much going on this year for me to get my brain wrapped around everything." George shifted uncomfortably where he stood. He didn't like the idea of anyone catching on to what he had been doing for the past few weeks.
Raising an eyebrow, Hermione asked, "What are you hiding behind your back?"
George swallowed guiltily. "Nothing." It was just his luck to stumble upon a Prefect in the middle of the night.
"What is it? I swear I'm not going to turn you in for anything," she promised. "Especially if you're doing something that will irritate Umbridge."
Grinning, George pulled a broom out from behind his back and held up his other hand. "You promised, Granger!"
Hermione returned his smile and stood to check out the broom. "That's not even your broom."
"How did you know that?"
"This is a Nimbus, and you have a Cleansweep," she answered, still examining the broomstick.
George looked quite surprised that Hermione knew which type of racing broom he owned. "Right you are. But how did you know?"
Hermione crossed her arms and huffed. "I pay a bit more attention to Quidditch than most people think I do." When she noticed George's eyes go wide, she realized that by crossing her arms, she had managed to pull her thin night shirt a little lower and taut across her chest. Blushing, she wrapped her robe around herself and tied it in place. When she managed to meet his eyes again, she was somewhat relieved to see him blushing as well, having seen a bit more of her than any other boy at Hogwarts.
George cleared his throat three times before saying, "I just never took you for a big Quidditch fan. And well, now, that's all I'm allowed to be. A fan."
"Yeah, I'm sorry about the Quidditch ban," Hermione told him sincerely. "Does Umbridge still have your broom?" she asked, turning back to the loveseat and curling up in one corner.
She watched as George pouted, and she realized it was kind of cute. He set the broom on the floor and followed suit, taking a seat at the end opposite Hermione. "Yes, that bloody awful woman still has my broom chained up along with Fred's and Harry's. Can you imagine? She actually put a nail through Harry's Firebolt and chained it to her wall!"
Hermione chewed her lower lip, hoping to change the subject. She knew how much the boys missed playing Quidditch. "Well whose broom is that, and why do you have it?" she questioned, gesturing to the Nimbus on the Common Room floor.
George raked his hand through his already messy hair; nobody knew about his secret, other than Fred. He wasn't sure why exactly, but he felt like it wouldn't be bad to share it with Hermione. "It's Ginny's broom. I've been sneaking out at night, taking a few laps around the Quidditch pitch and then heading back to the dorms to sleep."
Hermione cocked her head, slightly confused. She obviously still didn't quite grasp George's need to borrow a broom and sneak around well into the night.
George sighed and scooted a little closer to her. "Close your eyes and imagine this," he told her, and she obeyed. "You are in the library one day, and you're just having a bloody awful day. Well, suddenly, Malfoy comes at you out of nowhere, and he does something to really make you angry. Like perhaps he steals your homework and threatens to burn it up so you have to re-do all of your hard work. So, you retaliate, just like any Gryffindor would, and you send a nasty little hex his way. But, what you didn't know was that Umbridge saw you do it, and she in turn takes away all of your library privileges."
Hermione's eyes snapped open, and she was face to face with a very serious looking George. "I get it. She took away the one thing that gives you the most enjoyment, the thing that allows you to express yourself and makes you happy without fail."
With a nod, George settled back into the cushions once more, satisfied that Hermione understood why he needed to borrow Ginny's Nimbus.
"I'm really sorry, George… Hey wait a moment, are you making fun of me for enjoying the library?" Hermione asked, eyes narrowed.
George burst into sudden laughter, causing Hermione to smile a little. "Only if you're making fun of me for enjoying flying."
"Never," she whispered with a grin.
"Then you just keep enjoying your books." George stood and winked. "Say, why don't you come with me? We can do some laps around the castle."
"Me? Fly with you?" she asked, fully perplexed.
"Yeah, come on. Grab a coat," he told her as he bent down to pick up the broom.
Hermione giggled and shook her head. "I don't really do flying, but perhaps another night? Let me sleep on it."
George pretended to pout. "Well if you're still up this late, you probably won't sleep on it at all!"
"Just go enjoy your flight, George," she told him, biting her lower lip. "And your secret is safe with me."
"Good night, Hermione," George whispered just loudly enough for her to hear as he disappeared through the portrait hole.
Before returning to her Transfiguration text, Hermione stared dreamily out of one of the tall windows, trying to catch a glimpse of someone flying past.
Well I had been wanting to start this story for awhile, and I hope you all enjoy it. If you have any thoughts or ideas for the upcoming six chapters, let me know! I'd love to hear from you!
Also, I sort of pushed Ron and Lavender together a year early... just to make more friction and whatnot. I hope you can deal with that :\
Thanks for reading and please review!