"Ow!" George fell back. He looked around wildly. "Who's there?" he asked loudly, a look of pure terror on his face. The air on the ground in front of him rippled and Hermione appeared, scowling, clutching Harry's invisibility cloak.

"What are you doing here?" she hissed. "It's after midnight!"

George took a breath, relieved he hadn't run into Filch. "I was taking a shower." Hermione noticed his wet hair, his pajamas, and the towel poking out of his bag.

"In the middle of the night?" she asked, still glaring at him.

"I was in the Room of Requirement. The showers everywhere else are awful." He stopped, looking at Hermione curiously, and glanced at the cloak. "And what exactly have you been up to?"

Hermione bristled. "I have been gathering books from the library. I wasn't finished with my homework when Madame Pince sent me to bed. I was on my way to the Room of Requirement to finish."

"Well," George said, getting up and offering Hermione a hand, "I'm up now. I'll go with you if you'd like."

Hermione dusted off her robes and grabbed her bag. "Great. You can carry my books. They're awfully heavy." She threw the bag at George, and nearly twenty books slammed into his gut, nearly knocking him over for a second time. Hermione threw the cloak over them and they set off. Their only interruption was only two hallways away from the Room of Requirement. They saw Peeves pelting down the hall, ringing a very loud bell and cackling evilly, no doubt trying to wake up the whole school. "Quick!" Hermione whispered. "In here!" She opened the door to a nearby broom cupboard, threw George inside, shoved herself in, and closed the door quietly. The closet was tiny and cramped. George and Hermione were pressed together, unable to move. Hermione put her ear on the door and listened hard. She heard Filch chasing after Peeves, swearing, Mrs. Norris surely at his feet. Peeves cackled again and they heard the unmistakable SPLASH of a water balloon smashing into Filch. Mrs. Norris shrieked and hissed, and Filch cursed louder. More footsteps echoed in the hall.

A familiar cool drawl came from the second faculty member. "Peeves," Snape said, "hand them over."

"Hand what over Mister Professor, Sir?" Peeves replied with a faux politeness.

"Everything. Unless I have to inform the Headmaster." Peeves paused and the bell and several other items clanged to the floor. "Good. Now, Filch, if you could kindly retrieve the Bloody Baron?" Filch left and the hall was silent again.

Hermione straightened herself. She couldn't see a thing but could feel George practically on top of her. Hermione felt the lump below George's waist grow firm. "George! You perverted prat!" she spat. George tried to apologize but was babbling too much. He pressed himself against the wall behind him as best he could and covered himself with his hands. Before he could get a real word out he stopped, listening to Filch returning.

"PEEVES!" the Bloody Baron roared. Peeves whimpered.

"I'll let you handle this from here, Baron," said Snape, and he left. Filch left the other way and the Baron followed, dragging Peeves away. They heard Peeves' begging growing fainter.

"Please, Your Bloodiness, it was just a joke." Hermione opened the closet door and tumbled out, then turned on George.

"George Weasley you disgusting slime-"

"I'm sorry! It has a mind of its own!" Hermione stalked off to the Room of Requirement and paced the hall thinking A place to study, A place to study. The wall in front of her began to shift and change and a door appeared in the stone. Hermione and George entered and closed the door quietly.

Inside was a long desk and a fireplace with a large, red couch that looked comfortable. George dumped the bag of books onto the desk and examined a filing cabinet he noticed near a row of bookshelves. Hermione sat and extracted from her bag her quill, ink, and several rolls of parchment. George stood in front of the cabinet and saw that it contained several cauldrons, jars of potion ingredients, and various divination supplies.

Still extremely embarrassed and wishing to be helpful, George picked up a cauldron and asked Hermione if she was going to make any potions. Hermione found a list of homework and said, "Yes, I'll need to make a bone-mending serum." She glanced up. "Maybe I'll need two vials: one for class and one for you when I kick your ass for getting hard in that cupboard." George went as red as his hair and placed the cauldron by the fire, then laid down on the couch.

Hermione found the book she needed to read for Muggle Studies and went to the couch. George sat up to let her sit with him. They sat there in silence for a long while. Hermione felt her eyelids droop and she struggled to comprehend the words on the page. She leaned against George's shoulder and laid the book down. George put her arm around her, but she was too tired to object.

Just as Hermione felt like she was about to doze off, the door to the Room of Requirement banged open. George and Hermione bolted off the couch and stared, afraid that a teacher had found them. It was Fred however, that barged into the room, groping Angelina Johnson while her face was glued to his. They broke apart, saw George and Hermione, and froze.

"Er... Hey, George. Hermione." Fred was looking very awkward. Angelina waved and looked at the floor, abashed. Fred looked between Hermione and George, then looked curious. "We'll, uh, let you be then."

Hermione started. "No, we weren't-"

But Fred winked and withdrew. Angelina giggled and swept after him.

Hermione was red now. "We were studying!" but they were gone, and the door was closed. "How could he think we were... doing something? As if I would be doing anything with you!"

George laughed. "Yeah, like if I took a girl in here it would be you!" Hermione crossed her arms.

"And what exactly is wrong with me?" George flustered.

"I... uh... I meant-" Hermione laughed and strolled back to the couch.

"I understand," she said airily. "Just silly old fifth-year Granger. I'm sure you could find much prettier."

George quickly sat down. "No, no, that's not what I meant. I mean... Well, you're beautiful, it's just that you're Ron's friend and a fifth-year..." Hermione smirked and picked up her book again, but she couldn't keep her attention on the discovery of electricity. She kept sneaking glances at George. She had never really noticed how... handsome he was. His hair was even brighter in the glow of the fire. His chin came to a cute little point and his brown eyes were the color of Honeyduke's milk chocolate. He was still blushing, which gave him a rather boyish charm. But they could never be together. He was older than her. Better than her. He could get a lot of girls much cuter than she was. Evan still, she put down the book and leaned on his shoulder once more, but she wasn't tired. George leaned back and Hermione laid on him. He wrapped his arms around her but kept staring into the fire intently, as he had been for some time. Her whole brain told her not to, but Hermione moved her face closer to George's. George looked at her. "Er... Hermione-" but she pressed her lips into his. George was in shock for a moment, unmoving, but eventually parted his lips and tongued back.

Hermione felt a rush of excitement when he kissed back. She sat up and pulled her robes off, revealing her school sweater and a pair of jeans. She pressed her body onto his and resumed kissing him, and felt his hands on her back, then sliding down to her butt and squeezing. Hermione ran her hands to the hem of his T-shirt and moved them onto his bare chest. George paused to take off his shirt and threw it to the floor with Hermione's robes. Her sweater soon joined the pile, and George rubbed her breasts as he began to kiss her neck. Hermione suddenly realized what she was doing.

"Shit. It's nearly three in the morning. George, I'm so sorry, we shouldn't be doing this." She got up and threw her clothes back on.

George went red again and pulled his shirt back on. Why had that just happened? He was so stupid. But she was so gorgeous. And intelligent. And kind, and funny. George shook his head. Everyone knew that she was with Ron, and he shouldn't come between that.

Hermione threw the cloak over herself and pelted from the room, leaving George alone to amble back up to Gryffindor Tower alone.