A/N: Bear in mind that I haven't written in quite awhile, and never with this book, nor these two particular characters. I loved the idea, and really wish that these two had gotten paired together much more often. It's an obvious choice. I don't own Harry Potter (though J.K. Rowling, I've heard, does.) This story is set after the Second Wizard War, and follows an AU plotline. Sort of. This chapter may not make a lot of sense at first, but I needed a scene in which to introduce my character's, their happiness, and pain, and the differences in their lives as of now. Thank you. Read and review!
Sunlight glanced of the surface of the lake, effectively blinding the tight clusters of Hogwarts students that had chosen to spend their Saturday afternoon enjoying the last few gorgeous days that autumn had to offer. Term had started nearly a week ago and, though Hermione had been attempting to bait them into starting their school work early (though most Professors had yet to hand out any homework), Harry and Ron had finally persuaded her to join them in reveling in the golden rays of the afternoon sun. One day of relaxation, they had argued, couldn't hurt, and then they'd have more than enough school work to keep them busy for the rest of the year. And what a year, they daydreamed; it was going to be…
You see, it was the Golden Trio's last year at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and they planned on making the most of it. The previous term, which had begun last September, had been ignored, what with the ongoing war with Lord Voldemort they had nearly all been involved in, and the losses they had taken. Professor McGonagall, now headmistress of Hogwarts, had announced last summer while students and family members helped rebuild the fallen castle that everyone would be returning to further, or in many of the older student's cases finish, their education, as it had been sorely interrupted. This being decided, it was arranged that those who had already been attending the school would remain in their respective years, and incoming first years would be placed with the previous year's first years for a combined class. Though this increased the number of students meandering the halls, and had the heads of houses enlarging first year dormitories on the first day back, no one complained, and all were welcome. There had even been a few cases in which students who had graduated from the school the spring before the war had asked to come back and complete their own educations, feeling that the devastation and destruction that Voldemort had encouraged had interrupted their learning far earlier than everyone had thought. Among these students, whom McGonagall had kindly allocated beds in the dormitories of the current seventh years, were George Weasley, Ron's older brother who had left the school before graduating due to unpleasant teaching techniques, and his best friend Lee Jordan. Most of the others were, of course, friendly and familiar faces, but had not come back as a part of Gryffindor House.
That's how, you understand, that on this particular day Hermione was introduced into a world the likes of which she never would have been able to conjure up, even in her wildest dreams. And she wasn't even aware of it.
"You two!" Hermione giggled, watching as Harry and Ron made faces at one another over the magical wizarding chessboard they had brought with them on to the grounds. This laughing comment, instead of embarrassing the boys into a mature state, just urged their childish antics higher and soon had them wrestling along the edge of the lake, rolling through the grimy surf, and causing bits of mud and seaweed to stick at odd angles out of their hair.
"Oi, Harry! Geroff me!" Ron shouted indignantly as Harry pulled him into a headlock, laughing even as he struggled fiercely against Harry's stranglehold. Harry, the slighter and shorter of the two, and so unused to being at such an advantage, refused, chuckling as his grip tightened still further. Ron's face was slowly turning a brilliant shade of purple as he puffed playfully, still attempting to roll over enough to flip Harry onto the ground in front of him. Hermione, though still laughing, was now considering calling Harry off so that they could eat the picnic she had packed for the three of them, when a familiar, though not enough to immediately recognize, voice sounded in her ear.
"Care to bet I could take the both of them? Single-handedly?" She turned slightly to see who it was who had managed to sneak up on her, and started when she found George Weasley, the surviving of Ron's twin brother's leaning in closer than she had expected. His face was so near her own she could practically feel his cheek touching hers, could feel his easy breaths upon the shell of her ear, and the warmth emanating from him had her shivering slightly, as if a chill breeze had suddenly blown over her. Quickly, she regained her composure, and offered him a cheerful smile, noticing the way his own lopsided grin still seemed a little forced, and didn't reach his eyes. It hadn't in awhile.
"I've got-let's see here…" She rummaged in the picnic basket, looking for something suitable to bet with, "I've got three Cauldron Cakes, five Chocolate Frogs, and, well, lunch with the three of us that says you can't." She looked up, expecting him to be studying the boys' ongoing wrestling match that had continue to move farther down the expanse of grounds leading to the lake. They were now dangerously close to pushing one another in. Instead though, she found his eyes, so intensely blue and filled with hidden depths, locked on her own person. She glanced away swiftly, feeling a blush rush to heat up her cheeks; despite the fact that she knew she shouldn't feel any embarrassment. She had, of course, known George for as long as she had known any of the others, going on eight years now, and if they were not extremely close, she still considered him a part of her magical family.
"As enticing as lunch with the, er, three of you sounds," George said, looking away to where Harry and Ron were now splashing one another with lake water, having already fallen in and soaked themselves, "Lee and I are planning a quick trip to Hogsmeade as soon as the clock strikes one." He grinned over at her conspiratorially, and she felt her breath hitch just a little, fortunately though, it was noticeable only to her. "I will, however, take you up on the desserts. Never miss a chance to decrease my health!" He laughed lowly, sardonically, as though he found the thoughts that accompanied his words somehow morbidly amusing. He rose from his crouching position beside her, slipped his wand from his robes, and gave it an experimental flick of his wrist. Satisfied, he waved it lazily in the direction of the lake, and Hermione watched with baited breathe as the water behind Harry and Ron began to gather, and slowly move towards them. As it advanced, it collected height as water rushed from its edges to give it increased volume and, once it had reached a good twelve feet and positioned itself just behind the boys, throwing a dark shadow over them, it stopped. The both of them, having noticed the sudden darkness, looked up, no doubt expecting to see a passing cloud blocking the otherwise luminous sunlight, and finally noticed the now fourteen foot wave. Twin expressions of panic flitted across their faces, and they turned, searching the shore line for where they had left Hermione, finally coming across George's tall figure.
"GEORGE!" Ron yelled angrily, shaking a wet fist in his brother's direction as he and Harry started running back to shore before the wave decided to topple on them.
George, however, was smirking slightly, and waved cheekily back at Ron and Harry, at the same time letting his wand, which had increased in height along with the wave, come to a swishing stop at his hip. He chuckled again as the wave washed over both Ron and Harry, and turned to Hermione to gather up his prizes before they could swim back to shore and attempt to overpower him.
"You're merciless." Hermione muttered out of the corner of her mouth, shoving the sweets in his direction, but she was smiling all the same, and struggling not to let out the full-fledged laugh that threatened to escape.
"To the core." George replied solemnly, before yet another half smile broke through the serious demeanor he had adopted, and his sparkling blue eyes locked onto her dancing brown ones. He tucked the last cake into his robes, his eyes never leaving her own, and reached out a long-fingered, masculine hand, complete with calluses, as if to brush a stray curl back, before he dropped it suddenly and turned, striding away in the direction of the castle. She watched him jog slowly up to the double doors where he met up with Lee, gave him a hardy pat on the back, and started off in the direction of Hogsmeade, her brow furrowed and her expression confused. She was brought quickly back to the present, however, when a soaking Ron flopped down beside her, followed by a thoroughly sodden Harry.
"'d you see what that great git did to us 'Mione?" Ron asked through a mouthful of corned beef and pumpkin juice. "'s unfair 'at was." She just laughed lightly and prodded the back of his head, replying that maybe if he wasn't such a clumsy brick head, he'd have managed to get out of Harry's stranglehold earlier, and have avoided the situation entirely. Harry agreed, and laughed at the expression on Ron's face that clearly told them that he'd expected a little more sympathy.
Minutes later though it was Hermione's turn to defend herself when, unfailingly, Harry managed to call her out on the missing cauldron cakes, "Hey 'Mione, you didn't eat ALL the cakes by yourself did you?" She sputtered indignantly, exclaiming that a girl would never eat all those sweets in one sitting.
"Even I have to watch my figure!" She'd shouted at them after what had to be their tenth weight insult.
"Well," Ron said, pretending to glower at her from under his lashes, "where did they all go then?"
Hermione, flustered now and remembering her odd encounter with the older Weasley brother, found herself not wanting to tell the boy's that her bet had caused their slight humiliation.
"You know, actually," Hermione ground out, glaring at the two of them, "maybe I WAS a little hungry."