Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling. I'm just having some fun with her characters, and receive no compensation for my play-time.
Hermione Granger walked into a madhouse.
After yet another spat with Ron, she'd stalked off to the library, ostensibly to revise, but primarily to sulk. She'd already finished her Potions essay and was nearly done with the Herbology one as well, and was the only student not to have Transfiguration homework in her year. So she sat among the quiet, familiar books, calming herself and reviewing all the ways in which she could get back at Ron, were she so inclined. Once she had written down fifty-four different charms she could use to make his life ever-more-uncomfortable, she felt better and decided it was safe to return to the Common Room. After all, even Hermione Granger didn't care to spend all of Saturday night in the library, contrary to popular belief.
And so it was that she appeared in the Common Room, a scene of utter chaos before her. It was like a Quidditch party, except that no Quidditch had been played that day; music was blaring from the Wizarding Wireless Network, there was loud talking and laughter, wild dancing, an abundance of food and a large quantity of suspicious red cups.
Most suspicious of all though was the figure of a Weasley twin leaning back in the shadows of the room, observing, instead of out in the middle of melee enjoying himself. To Hermione, it screamed 'Product Testing' and she could not believe no one else had picked up on this. Her eyes narrowed, her lips pursed, she strode purposefully over to the twin and opened her mouth.
He glanced down, his hazel eyes twinkling, and held up a hand. "I know, Ms. Prefect, what you are about to shriek at me, but hang on to your knitting. McGonagall's already been up here and shooed away the ickle young ones so we aren't corrupting them or setting a bad example."
Hermione's forehead creased and her mouth snapped shut, as she considered this. "Do you really expect me to believe that, George?" she asked with asperity.
"I'm Fred," he said automatically, a grin appearing on his face. "And yes, I do. Her exact words were 'There's no Quidditch to celebrate, and things are grim enough as it is. Just don't make me come up here again to tell you to quiet it down. And for Merlin's sake, don't disturb Umbridge, Weasley. And Weasley.'" The twin laughed at the memory and Hermione sensed he was telling the truth, about McGonagall's visit anyway.
"Fine, but it would be easier to believe that she came up here and gave you permission to perform your little experiment if you weren't lying about who are, George." Hermione leaned back against the wall and raised an eyebrow at the twin before her. If anything, his eyes lit up and his grin grew wider.
"You know, you are the only person besides Bill and Ginny to be able to tell us apart. We trade off all the time and no one notices. How can you tell?"
"Best not let Angelina find out; she's quite stroppy, you know. I'm not sure. It's something in the eyes. I mean, of course, you and Fred look alike, and try to act alike, but you aren't the same person. You're usually more quiet and observant than he is, I guess. There is a little more reservation in your eyes." Hermione studied him for a moment and then shook her head. "Anyway, what are you testing?"
"What makes you think I'm testing, then?" George asked, withholding comment on her observations.
Hermione snorted. "Really, George? I've been stopping you lot from product testing for ages, one. You're skulking about here in the shadows watching instead of reveling in the middle of the party, two. What else would you be doing?"
George considered that for a moment. "Excellent points, Granger. But you failed to consider that I might have taken a step back merely to observe or seek out someone. Perhaps I was snogging someone back here before you walked through the portrait hole, or maybe I was planning to do some business, and you've gone and scared away my customers."
"All possibilities, I grant you, but the expression on your face and the fact that Fred is just as watchful, even though he's acting like he's been drinking whatever you spiked with the punch with, tells me you are testing."
George laughed ruefully. "Never can pull one over you, can we, Granger? Too smart for your own good. Only we didn't spike the punch, Seamus Finnegan did. We may have encouraged it though, as a perfect opportunity to test two products."
"Which are?" Hermione asked sternly, arms crossed in front of her.
"One tasteless potion which should enhance the positive effects of the alcohol without increasing actual intoxication; essentially something which relieves inhibitions while leaving the witch or wizard in control of his or her faculties. Won't work on its own, mind, so we have to test it with alcohol. So after everyone indulged in the punch, we switched it out for some that wasn't spiked and hid the firewhiskey. Even if someone comes back up here, they won't find any alcohol. Except for the poor sods who are using up their own precious stores, that is."
Despite herself, Hermione was impressed. "And the other?"
"Hangover potions," George answered simply. "We perfected ours a long time ago, think it could be a real money maker. But we need to be sure we haven't fine tuned it to ourselves too much for general use." George was being serious, for once, continuing to observe. Hermione laughed softly.
"You two really are something else. So you actually do plan to go through with it then?"
George nodded absently, turning his attention more fully towards her and away from the crowd. "Of course. Only reason we're still here is product testing and development. It's convenient to have the library at our hands and our target demographic locked up with us."
"I don't understand. What about finishing school and taking your NEWTs?"
"Hermione, not everyone needs them or cares about them." She opened her mouth and he raised his hand. "I get that it is important to you, and that's great. I'm not even teasing you about it. But you're a bloody smart witch, think it through." He looked down at her.
"Of course. You're opening your own shop. But what if you want to do something else? Or the shop doesn't work out? What will you do then?" Hermione frowned.
"Hermione, we don't think that way. Fred and I tend to be a bit more spontaneous than you." George winked at her. "Besides, we're already making more than enough money to support ourselves just based on our owl-order business. I'm not worried in the least, 'specially since Zonko hasn't developed anything new in ages. We have more than enough already to completely kit out a shop, and we're just looking for the right place in Diagon Alley."
Her jaw dropped open. "What? You're sneaking off the grounds and going to London?"
George laughed but hushed her all the same, nudging her arm. "Shhhh. That's not for listening ears, Mione, and Merlin knows how many of them are about. Everyone knows how to cast the imperturbable charm now," he laughed. "Do you honestly think we care about getting in trouble? Again, you have to think these things through."
Hermione huffed and crossed her arms irritably. "Urgh. You two can be so irritating sometimes."
"And you can be bloody stubborn. You need to loosen up, Granger." George looked at her for a moment, standing stiffly before him, and surveyed the Common Room again. The commotion was overwhelming, but everyone seemed to be having a good time, for once not preoccupied with dread about Voldemort or the gloom cast by Umbridge. He looked back down at Hermione. "What do you say, Hermione? Going to descend and join the human race for once or head back to the library?" His voice was vaguely taunting.
Hermione narrowed her eyes. Her first instinct was to yell at him, but he was challenging her. He didn't believe she'd break the rules or be anything other than a prissy prefect. Her chin tilted up defiantly.
"Where's the potion, then?"
George grinned, a slow smile spreading across his face. "That's a girl. Here you are then. But you have to take it with alcohol for it to work, you know." He withdrew a small phial of lime green colored liquid and handed it to her, before crossing his arms and smirking down at her.
"Do I want to know what's in it?" she asked, eying it warily.
"Do you want to know what's in most potions?" he returned dryly.
"Good point. With alcohol?" George nodded, and Hermione crinkled her nose. "Fine. Accio firewhiskey!" she called out quietly, with a jerk of her wand. A half-empty bottle flew towards her from behind one of the long divans, but no one seemed to notice. George caught the bottle handily and conjured up two round glasses.
"Pour half the phial in each," he instructed. When she had done so, he poured in very generous helpings of Ogden's Best into each glass. He handed her one, before eying her. "Er, Hermione, have you ever had firewhiskey before?"
She sighed as she eyed the cup. "No. I've never had anything stronger than ale," she admitted.
"Right. Here, sit down first. This stuff is pretty powerful, it can literally knock you right off your feet." George dropped down into a cross-legged position, back propped up against the wall. Hermione followed suit, facing him. The din of the Common Room faded some, and tucked away in the dark corner as they were, they were practically invisible if you weren't looking for them.
"OK, now sip this at first. If you try to knock it back all at once, you'll choke, least until you've had more practice." George watched carefully as Hermione raised the glass to her lips and took a healthy sip. Her eyes grew round and watered, but she didn't splutter or choke. George saluted her with his glass and threw back half of the generous measure, then gave her a cocky grin.
"I'm not certain I entirely understand the applications of the potion," Hermione said thoughtfully, taking another burning sip. It was pleasant, as it slowly warmed her from the inside out.
"Well, given you're not much of a drinker, I'm not surprised. Thing is, when you're drinking, you start to feel good. Loose, free, funny. Your inhibitions slide, right?" Hermione nodded. "Well, you keep drinking to make that good feeling last longer, but the more you drink, the more impaired you become, right?" Again, Hermione nodded. "Well, it can actually be even more dangerous for a wizard or witch to be intoxicated."
"Because their control over their magic is weakened. Greater chance of doing something stupid like splinching during Apparition or having bouts of uncontrolled magic or not concentrating properly during spells," Hermione stated, her face thoughtful as her mind wrapped around the possibilities.
"Right in one. Five points to you, Granger," George said a bit mockingly before tossing back the rest of his drink and pouring himself another. Hermione took a larger swallow, but still had half the glass left. She was feeling pleasantly warm though.
"So the potion emulates the alcohol and the pleasant soporific effects of it without requiring additional consumption of alcohol, which limits impairment. Like a euphoria potion."
"Yes, but much less addictive or powerful. That's where the idea comes from though. It's also handy if you've got an important date, say, and want to indulge a bit and not make an utter prat of yourself."
Hermione giggled a bit. "Takes away all the excuses, then?"
George laughed in surprise. "Not entirely. Lowers inhibition, but not judgment. Drunk people find the stupidest ideas to be good ones. This would let you remember that trying to fly off the Astronomy Tower isn't a good plan, but might make you more likely to flirt with the bloke you fancy."
"Not me," Hermione said, before taking a rather large gulp of her drink. George tossed the remainder of his second down and poured again for both of them.
"You don't fancy blokes then?" he asked innocently.
Hermione laughed. "No, I do. I don't flirt though. Didn't you know? I'm an ice queen." The smile she gave him as she said this actually made his heart clinch a bit.
"I doubt that's true, Mione. I suspect that you'll be more than happy to flirt if you find someone that interests you. I just doubt Krum was the one to inspire that. And Ron definitely isn't. Unless you just don't know how and think nagging is somehow equivalent."
Hermione did choke on that swallow, but more due to George's words than the drink, to which she was becoming accustomed. Her fingers felt tingly and the room was a bit warm, but she still felt relatively sharp and in control. Once she'd conjured a handkerchief and wiped away the liquid that had dripped from one corner of her mouth, she glared at George.
"I do not. Whatever there might have been between Ron and I passed. We're just friends."
"So I'm right then, and you're just waiting for someone to practice on?" George was grinning. He set his glass aside, and drew his legs up to rest his arms on.
"This is what I mean by annoying George. You start to say something nice to me, then do nothing but patronize and tease me." She rolled her eyes and took a large swallow of her drink.
"You're easy to rile up, Granger," he said unapologetically, shrugging slightly. "And it's fun for us to do. Besides, you look pretty when you get all flushed like that. You underestimate yourself, you know. You may be a bit too in love with rules and books, but you are a really pretty and fun bird to hang round with."
Hermione blushed. "Stop that, George. It's not funny." She intended the words to be sharp, but they came out more wistfully than she realized.
"I've watched you for a long time, Mione. You use your knowledge and the rules like a defensive shield. If you let that go more often, you might be surprised at how people react to you. You're not an ice queen and we both know it." George was matter of fact, head tilted to the side, studying her.
Hermione slumped a little bit. "You're just saying that because you've had three firewhiskeys."
"Uh, Hermione? Remember that bit about the potion leaving you in charge of your faculties? You are right that I probably wouldn't normally say this to you. But neither would you normally be caught in a quiet dark corner with a mischief maker like me. That's just inhibitions loosening."
Hermione was quiet for a few moments, finishing her drink, and fiddling with the glass.
"You want another?" George asked. She shook her head. "That's probably for the best. Two is a fair amount for someone who doesn't drink, you know. Shouldn't need more for the potion to work well. How are you feeling?"
Hermione closed her eyes, frowning as she concentrated. "Warm and tingly. It's pleasant. I don't feel much like moving, but I do feel cheerful. Funny, considering the subject matter." She opened her eyes and smiled at George, pleased with her review.
He chuckled. "You don't care to be analyzed, do you?"
"Probably not. A good analysis of the effects of the potion though, so thanks. Very thorough. Oh, right." He dug in his pocket before removing another phial with a soothing blue liquid shimmering inside. "Take that, on me. Hangover potion. You'll want to take half before you go to bed and half in the morning when you wake up before you move, yeah?"
He reached out to hand it to her, and their hands brushed as she accepted it. The tingling feeling Hermione had in her limbs increased at the contact, and she let out a surprised "Oh!" before blushing again. George simply smirked at her.
"Definitely not an ice queen," he muttered. The effects of the firewhiskey on him were slightly different, and he remembered why he usually didn't take the potion himself. He made him feel a bit . . . keen. And the flush on Hermione's face and the brightness in her eyes made that worse. He found himself staring at her lips, before realizing she had spoken. "Sorry, what was that?"
"I asked if you had more potion for yourself." She looked at him a bit more closely, and felt her breath speed up just the tiniest bit.
"Oh, no. This isn't enough alcohol to require a hangover potion for me. I usually need a good bit more for that now. Lee's kept a well stocked liquor cabinet since our fourth year," he admitted before realizing he maybe ought to have kept that bit quiet.
Hermione simply shook her head. "I don't want to know. If I don't know, I can't worry about it."
"Why do you worry so much?" George was back to studying her and ignoring the warm flush overtaking his body.
"Why don't you worry more?" she countered.
"I don't see the point," he replied with a shrug. "It just takes up energy, and it's usually a bunch of fuss over something you've not got control over anyhow. I've better things to do with my time, that's all."
She frowned. "That sounds reasonable and all, but I don't know how not to worry. I guess I wasn't built with that off-switch."
"Off-switch? What's that? Like the plugs Dad keeps in the shed?"
"Er, Muggle expression, sorry. I just don't know how to stop myself from getting wound up about things. Especially with Harry, when he's always in danger. I never really had friends before Harry and Ron, so. . ." she shrugged.
George looked thoughtful. "That explains a lot, actually. I imagine it was difficult for you to grow up Muggleborn and have no idea you were a witch and have bursts of accidental magic and such. It was embarrassing enough when I knew exactly what it was. Must have been hard when you had no explanation for it."
"George, that's an amazingly perceptive comment. You really do observe more."
"Nah, Fred does it too. Well, maybe me a bit more than him. But if you want a prank to work best, you have to learn to read people, to know what will set them off and just how far to push it so you don't go too far. We're loud and we like a laugh, and we prank people all the time, so people assume we're pretty superficial, I guess." His voice was wry, a touch of exasperation in it.
"What observations have you made then?" Hermione asked in a teasing tone.
"Well, let's take some of the more interesting things, shall we? Harry is a remarkably good leader, but he's scared of it. He needs you to push him out there, but once you do, he's better at it than you, because he understands people more. Neville Longbottom there is so terrified of being a Squib he can't see that he's surprisingly adept at certain things. If he ever clues in, he'll end up being a formidable wizard. Never the most powerful, mind," he added, seeing Hermione's expression, "but more than capable. He's braver than he realizes." George stopped and looked at the room, at least the bit they could see of it.
"Ginny's with that Corner git now, and she'll probably have another boyfriend or two, but she's still in love with Harry. I heard about his disaster with Cho. He'll come round to Ginny eventually. Too early to say whether it'll work or not. Fred says yes, I'm not sure. He's bet me 10 galleons, he has."
"George! You shouldn't be betting on people's lives that way!" Hermione looked cross.
"Oi, don't poker up now, I'm getting to the good stuff. Fred and Angelina will probably be on and off for a fair bit. They're very attracted to each other, but it's a volatile mix, and it doesn't take much for them to explode. That sometimes leads to a fantastic shag, sometimes to an enormous fight."
"They're shagging?" Hermione asked with some curiosity.
"Of course, since the Yule Ball. We are in our seventh year Hermione. I doubt there is a Gryffindor left that hasn't shagged someone."
"Oh," was all that escaped.
"Well that answers that question. I bet Alicia that you weren't shagging Krum. Five galleons to me." George grinned at her in a self-satisfied way.
"Wait, you didn't actually bet on whether or not I was shagging Krum?" Hermione's voice was high-pitched, and she only kept the volume down with an effort.
"Of course I did. Sucker bet, that was. You and Krum were always in the library together. Couldn't have been sneaking off for a shag. Quick grope in the third floor broom cupboard, maybe, but who am I to pass up such easy money? Didn't mean to embarrass you."
"You seem very uninhibited right now." Hermione's lips were pursed, making George wonder how it would be to kiss those lips. He shook his head and blinked to clear himself of those thoughts.
"I suppose in many ways I am," he said unconcernedly.
"Explains why you have such a reputation, then." Hermione snorted.
"What exactly, Ice Queen, is my reputation, then?" George asked with some curiosity.
"Oh you know, that you are pretty casual about sex, enjoy a good time and an easy shag."
"Ahhhh. Well, much like your reputation for frigidity, it's overrated. I've heard some pretty wild and entertaining stories, but Fred or Lee started most of them. They aren't true."
"So you and Fred didn't shag all the chasers after winning the Cup two years ago?" Hermione said with a touch of mischief in her voice.
"Absolutely not. I shagged Katie Bell while we were dating, and visited a broom cupboard or two with Alicia before she decided she also preferred the fairer sex. But I'm just not that entertaining, I'm afraid."
Hermione giggled. "That's it? You have this reputation as some sort of modern-day Casanova, and you've only shagged one girl and snogged another?" Hermione couldn't seem to stop giggling, as she thought about this.
George just smiled and shook his head. "It doesn't necessarily help my reputation that I have an identical twin brother who is fairly casual about sex and doesn't mind an easy shag. But neither of us are that blatant and easy. Come on now," he said, nudging her. "Your turn to spill. Did you ever snog Krum?"
"Of course. We did date for nearly the entire second half of the year, and had some language barriers. He was very nice, you know."
"And that's it? Just Krum?" George's voice held an undertone that Hermione couldn't quite identify, but she was finding that she didn't much care.
"That's it," Hermione confirmed, with a shrug.
"Well there is your problem, Granger. You need to snog more, release some tension. You'll find that's a highly enjoyable way to take your mind off your worries." George looked pleased with himself.
"Ice queen, remember? No one is queuing up to snog me. Besides I doubt that really helps my situation," Hermione said wryly.
"Never know until you try, Dad always says." George's voice was low, and inviting, and Hermione couldn't help but notice the way his eyes kept drifting to her lips, or the way he ran a finger over his own, seemingly without noticing. Or the way her breathing hitched in response to that mindless movement.
"What, are you volunteering, George?" Hermione rolled her eyes at him, hoping to distance herself from the thoughts she'd begun entertaining.
"Sure, why not?" George grinned again, a devilish grin that was clearly challenging her, and Hermione felt herself flush further as she considered the possibility.
"Why not? Oh I can think of a hundred reasons off hand." George couldn't stop smiling, feeling as if he was closing in on something. Uninhibited indeed, this potion was a bloody menace. He was offering to snog Hermione Granger, and by Merlin, he meant it. George knew that if Fred ever found out, he would be teased until he died, but he didn't much care at this moment. There might not be anything more important in the world right now than coaxing her to agree and then snogging her senseless.
"We'll start with three, shall we? If I can't convince you then, I'll leave it alone."
Hermione eyed George. He was tall, handsome, ginger and Morgana knew she was attracted to that. But it was George! Ugh. She closed her eyes to avoid staring at his lips and imagining them on hers, which was exceedingly difficult. Something about either the potion or the firewhiskey was clouding her mind and making it hard to remember why something that sounded so pleasant would be such a terrible idea. A small voice whispered in her head that the potion wouldn't cloud her judgment, so maybe it wasn't a bad idea at all. She shook her head to rid it of traitorous voices that only confused her.
"Fine. One, you are not attracted me. Two, we are friends and I wouldn't even say we know each other particularly well. Three, what on earth would people think?" Feeling a mixture of triumph and disappointment, she opened her eyes and looked at George again.
"Oh, please, Hermione. One, says who? Haven't I already told you how pretty and fun you are this evening? Two, I'd say I've proven I know a fair bit more about you than you think, and the fact you are one of three people in the world who can tell Fred and I apart indicates that you are probably equally as knowledgeable as me. We are friends. So what? One trial snog doesn't have to change that if we don't want it to. And three, when have I ever given a damn what other people think? For that matter, it's another reason you worry too much, because you care too much what other people think. And if you are that concerned, I can get you out of here so that no one ever knows."
He smirked at her, and she blinked. She had no idea why she was even considering the possibility of snogging George Weasley, but much as before, the challenge on his face irked her. He was right, one snog wouldn't hurt anything. She lifted her chin, and held out her glass.
"Fine. Get us out without anyone seeing and we'll try this little theory of yours. But there is no way I've had enough to drink yet."
George's eyes widened for a second, then he chuckled and amusement danced in his eyes as he poured both of them another round. This time Hermione did toss it back as George had earlier, and it burned all the way down, and the warm, tingling feeling intensified. She could feel all her limbs, loose and relaxed and she was having trouble keeping her eyes off George's face. He stood up, leaving the remainder of the firewhiskey behind, vanishing the glasses, and then he turned to Hermione and offered his hand to help her stand up.
At the contact, Hermione shivered, just a bit. George ran his thumb over her hand and she drew her breath in quickly. He leaned down and whispered, "Right, so you go ahead and go out through the portrait hole, yeah? If anyone stops you, tell them you're doing rounds. No one will notice. Can you manage a disillusionment charm?" Hermione nodded, trying not to moan at the heat that washing over her from George's warm breath so tantalizingly close to her ear. "OK, I'm going to cast one now, and I'll be right behind you. Don't let the portrait hit me, yeah? Oh, and you might want to cast a fresh breath charm, so you don't smell like firewhiskey." Hermione nodded again, then watched as George faded away.
She surreptitiously cast the charm and heard a faint chuckle and glowered in that direction, and then tried not to close her eyes when she felt an invisible hand brush over her arm. She walked towards the portrait hole, and found that she needed to concentrate on her steps because her body did indeed feel very loose and her movements were a little uncoordinated. Interestingly, though, she could clearly analyze what was wrong and correct for it with a clear mind. Hermione stepped through the portrait without encountering anyone and held it open just a bit longer until she saw a blur of motion that she knew had to be George.
The portrait shut and Hermione looked about; the corridor was empty. To be safe though, she quickly cast the disillusionment charm and felt herself grow cold as it spread; an odd sensation when combined with the warmth of the firewhiskey she'd consumed. She felt George's hand close around hers. It was dry and a little rough, but warm. Hermione stood stock still for a moment, feeling heat radiating from where they were touching and the cold from the charm fading. A gentle tug pulled her along and she followed George to a blank wall at the end of the corridor. She heard a tap of his wand and a whispered incantation she couldn't quite make out and then the wall dissolved before them. George stepped through, then Hermione and after she'd taken three steps the wall reappeared and so did George. He lit his wand and she could see a dark passage before them, as Hermione canceled her own charm.
He wore a smug grin that was nearly a smirk and Hermione merely raised her eyebrows. "Secret passage?"
"Yeah. This one we discovered without the map, but we had a time trying to open it on our own."
"Where does it lead?" Hermione asked.
"Used to lead down to a passage that went out into the Forest, but the passage is blocked in. It's made a nice alcove now. Fred and I have spent a lot of time down there. Private, room to spread out, comfortable. Least, once we nicked some chairs from storage. Come on, then."
He led her down the sloping, winding passage which ended abruptly with a brick wall considerably newer than anything around it. George casually waved his wand and a plethora of candles lit themselves. Hermione's mouth dropped open as she took in what appeared to be a miniature potions lab and living room. George flopped onto the slightly ragged sofa, and smirked at Hermione.
"You'll catch flies if you aren't careful, Granger," he said, his voice full of warmth. "Come on, sit down. I won't bite." Hermione snapped her jaw closed and perched on the edge of the seat next to George. Half of her wanted to snuggle into him, half of her wanted to flee. She felt a vague sense of nervousness, but it was quieted by the warmth, relaxation and tingling at the nearness of him.
"So. Um." Hermione tried to say something, but couldn't think of what would be appropriate. What did one say when they'd followed a friend into a private, secluded space with the intention of snogging on a dare?
George sat forward, closing the distance between them. He cocked his head and looked intently at Hermione, and took her hand in his. Turning it in his own hand, he ran his fingers over her palm and she shivered a bit at his touch. He traced her fingers with his, rubbed his thumb over her hand as he held it gingerly in his.
"Hermione, you don't have to do anything, you know. It's alright by me if you'd rather just talk a bit and skip the snog. I know you've had a bit to drink, and the potion should help, but I wouldn't feel right if you thought I asked you here for a laugh or something."
"Why did you bring me down here, really, George?" She looked at him, at his hazel eyes, which lacked their usual mischievous twinkle.
"Because I want to snog you senseless," he replied simply.
"Why?" She wanted an answer, wanted very much to hear something other wanting a bit of fun on the side.
"Do you always interrogate blokes this way, Granger?" he asked, a hint of amusement showing on his face.
She blushed. "No, I just don't understand why you're interested. Is it just the alcohol?"
"Oh." There was silence as she considered that and as George ran his thumb slowly over her hand. It was difficult to concentrate when he did that, but she did not want him to stop.
George finally broke the silence. "Why did you come?"
"Oh. I, um. Well, it seemed a good idea at the time," Hermione said lamely.
George raised an eyebrow. "And now?"
"It seems like a bloody brilliant idea," she said with more conviction than she quite felt. Had she not consumed so much alcohol or taken the potion, Hermione doubted she'd have ever admitted any interest at all in one of the infamous, rule-breaking, easy-going Weasley twins. But since she had and she was here . . .
George grinned at her. "Does that mean I can kiss you?" Hermione gave him a tiny grin in response and nodded and he leaned into her, and touched his lips to hers lightly. At first, the kiss was chaste, just two pairs of lips pressed firmly together, but then George drew back briefly, and looked at Hermione. "Bollocks, I've been wanting to do that for ages."
Then, before she could respond, his lips were on hers again, this time, capturing hers, engaging them, and she returned the gesture, drawing his bottom lip between her own. The kiss deepened, and George took the chance to slide his tongue over Hermione's lips, and she did the same. George's hand came to rest on the back of Hermione's head, a comforting, gentle pressure, and as their tongues tasted each other, they shifted to move closer and give themselves a better angle.
The kiss continued, gaining depth and intensity until Hermione pulled away to catch her breath. "Oh, Merlin. I can't believe I'm doing this. With you." She closed her eyes and kissed George's lips again, and felt him chuckle.
"What does that mean, Hermione?" He grinned at her, the twinkle returned to his eyes, but something else lurked there as well.
She blushed as she realized what she'd said. "I don't mean, oh. I just meant that it's not seemed as if we've much in common and I never thought you saw me as anything other than Ron's little friend or a prefect swot."
"Well, I got a good look at you at the Yule Ball, Hermione. You are definitely more than Ron's little friend. I didn't think you'd ever be very interested though. What, exactly, is it that you are interested in?"
"Are we really going to discuss this now?" Hermione was hesitating. They'd shared a kiss. An amazing, spectacular kiss. But that's it. A single kiss.
"Good point. Can't possibly decide just on the strength of that. Need some real empirical evidence, don't you? I know how thorough you are in your research and you should know how hard I work to achieve my goals." He punctuated his words by wrapping an arm around Hermione and drawing her closer to him, and her arms wrapped around him in turn and they began kissing again, in earnest.
Time lost meaning, as they kissed, melted into each other and ceased to focus on anything except the urge to be closer, to be together. Hermione was peripherally aware of George's hand stroking up and down her back, and George had some idea that Hermione's fingers were tangled in his hair. After a time, they broke apart, but before Hermione could say anything, George was nuzzling her neck and jaw, and nipping at her earlobe and she heard his low, sexy voice and felt his warm breath in her ear.
"Mione, do you have any idea how good you are at that? I don't know why I'm surprised, you are good at everything you do."
The only reply she could muster was an incoherent "Mmmmmm." That was good enough for George and he returned to kissing her soundly. It was ages before they broke apart; Hermione felt incredible. This was so much better than any time she'd spent kissing Viktor. George was really quite good at kissing. Inventive, even, if one could apply that word to kissing. The way he manipulated her lips and deftly used his tongue so that she was lost in a euphoria of kissing was simply amazing. She looked a bit dazed when they broke apart.
It took Hermione a moment to catch her breath, and when she did, she found George studying her again. It made her feel vaguely uncomfortable, though she still felt the pleasing and tingling effects of the combination of firewhiskey and potion. She pushed her hair out of her face and her cheeks were a bit red.
"I, um. I wish I had something to drink," she blurted out.
George smiled, almost against his will. "Of what variety? We're fairly well stocked down here too. I can get you butterbeer or something stronger."
"Butterbeer is fine, thanks." George stood up and retrieved two bottles from a battered case that had clearly been expanded inside.
"Hot or cold?" he asked.
"Hot, please," she replied, and he cast two warming charms over the bottles before opening one and handing it to her. He then resumed his seat, though he kept some small distance between them. "Thank you."
"What, exactly, are you thanking me for?" he asked quietly.
"Er, the butterbeer. Though this evening has been. . . surprising." There was a shyness that had descended upon them, and Hermione was unsure how to break it.
"Right, well, you're quite welcome. I've rather enjoyed it as well," George responded dryly, shifting a bit before he took a long swig of his butterbeer. "Look, Hermione. I can't say that this wasn't wonderful, because this has been bloody fantastic and I'd really like to keep snogging you and see where that goes."
"But?" Hermione asked with a mixture of wariness and resignation in her voice.
"But, well, I'm not sure what it is you're looking for here, is all. I mean, you don't quite seem the type for a casual snog, if you see what I mean. And well, I'm not entirely sure how much longer Fred and I will be sticking around. I know Mum wants us to finish our NEWTs, but it's bloody miserable here. And we should have the store space soon. Once we've got that, well. I doubt it'll be worth hanging about. No Quidditch and classes only get in the way of our brewing times and the rules are a bit stifling for us."
Hermione leaned back against the cushions and considered. "Let me ask you something, George."
"Yeah, all right," he agreed.
"What is it you want?" Now Hermione was studying him.
He blinked for a moment. "I'm not sure I understand."
"It's quite simple, really, I think. Leave what I might be looking for or wanting out of it. What do you want here?"
George stared at her momentarily, then shook his head. "You're surprising, Granger, that much is certain. If it were up to me, I'd like to see what could happen between us. Take you out to Hogsmeade, catch you between classes for a quick snog in a broom cupboard, try and talk you into sneaking me into the prefect's bathroom." He grinned at her and she smiled back, despite the scolding tone she adopted.
"You know it's charmed against more than one person being in there at once, George."
"That's only if two people try to get through the main door, Hermione. There is a back entrance, you know. The point is, I guess I'd want to try and date you. But the reality is that I don't expect to be around long enough for it to matter." His grin slipped then, and he frowned, an expression Hermione found completely out of place.
"So you fancy me, do you?" she asked shyly.
"I do, yeah. I wouldn't have really thought so much before tonight, but you surprised me. And you are a bloody good kisser." George ran a hand through his hair, a nervous gesture Hermione had seen once or twice." But back to you then."
"I'd never really thought about this much. But I'd like to maybe give it a go." She looked at him directly, and her brown eyes were vulnerable.
"I don't know what'll happen, Hermione. I can't promise much," he warned.
"So don't. We'll take it one step at a time and see where it goes, yeah?" Suddenly, Hermione laughed. "This potion is something else, isn't it? Shouldn't that be your line?"
Her eyes were sparkling with humor, her cheeks were flushed with the heat of the firewhiskey and her lips a bit swollen with snogging. She looked bloody gorgeous and her laughter was infectious. George's lips quirked and then they were both laughing uproariously.
Which is how Fred and Angelina found them when they stumbled into the alcove, laughing and kissing, to stop short at the sight of the two unlikeliest people sharing a drink on the couch and laughing together. Fred's smiled remained, but his eyes were calculating, quickly taking in and assessing the scene before him.
"Oy, Georgie, what's all this now?" he said, and only his twin brother could detect the edge in his voice.
Before George could respond, Hermione very deliberately stood up, closed the distance between them, straddled George's lap and kissed him very, very thoroughly. Almost too thoroughly, truth be told, as he was having a hell of a time holding back baser instincts. Only the thought that she would be mortified when the effects of the potion wore off stopped him from escalating this kiss into something that would really leave his brother's mouth hanging open. As it was, he squeezed her leg lightly and she broke off. He gave her a gentle smile that broadened into a smirk as he looked over her shoulder at his twin.
"That answer your question, Freddie?" The twins held each other's gazes and there was a feeling of silent conversation flowing between them for an instant. Fred broke the quiet with a bark of laughter.
"Never thought you had it in you, Granger. Good for you then. However, I believe you promised the space to me and Angie tonight, George, so you'll have to clear out, I'm afraid." Angie smacked Fred's shoulder, but giggled. Hermione stood up, and George followed suit, wrapping his hand around Hermione's, almost protectively.
"Right, fair's fair. Do come back before dawn this time, Fred," he said with a wink at his twin. George pulled Hermione back down the passageway, casting a muffling charm over his shoulder and stopping before the entrance, to brush some hair out of her face and tuck it behind her ear.
"So, um, did you want to go back then?" he asked quietly. "I expect the party is still raging away, but if Fred's left, the potions should be wearing off soon."
"Let's wait a little longer. Is it safe to stay here a bit? Only, I'm a bit shaky on my feet," Hermione said, a bit shyly.
"Quite a display you put on for Fred," George said, after casting a cushioning charm and sitting down on the ground beside her.
"Yes, well. I know what he thinks of me, so I thought he might have an easier time believing it if he saw it. I wouldn't do that again." Her voice was wry.
"Fred likes you fine, Mione. When you aren't shrieking at us, that is. Give him a chance, anyway, you might be surprised." George took her hand in his again, but seemed to be examining it, almost trying to read it. "Look, I have to say this, all right? If you change your mind in the morning, no hard feelings, yeah?"
"Is that what you think of me?" Hermione asked, her eyes hooded. "That I'd take advantage of you for a snog and then be too ashamed to be seen with you unless I was under the influence of a potion?"
"No. I think a lot more highly of you than that. I just mean that if the potion wears off and you think it over and decide we'd be better off as friends after all, I'll still understand. Won't stop me trying to get into your knickers, mind," but he was cut off by Hermione's huff of annoyance.
"Come on, George. I'll go snog in you in the middle of the Common Room if it will make you feel better. Though if I do, everyone will wonder what sort of potion you fed me to make that happen. We're not a likely pair, then, are we?"
"No, but it could be more fun that way. I'll just tell everyone that I gave you a love potion. Course it means we'll have to start brewing them, because they'll be a massive success if people think it got you to fall for me."
"You are incorrigible, Weasley," Hermione said, smiling.
"Which is one of the reasons you like me, Granger," he responded genially. "Come on then, let's go shock our House mates. Bet you five galleons that Ron threatens me." George stood up and helped Hermione to her feet, and cast disillusionment charms on both of them.
"That's a foolish bet, George. Of course he will."
The wall dissolved again, and they moved quietly and carefully back to the portrait hole. Once safely inside the tower, George dissolved the charms, and they moved quietly back to the dim corner they'd inhabited previously, though this time, George pulled Hermione into his lap, where she settled comfortably.
"Well, if he's going to threaten me, may as well give him something to threaten me over," George whispered, just before capturing Hermione's lips with his own. She agreed whole-heartedly, but was too occupied to say so.
A/N: My first public piece! I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing.