Charms, I'm sure
Disclaimer: Not mine, JK Rowling's. Only my second story and I'm quite self-conscious about writing – so please be kind! Thanks!
Summary: Eight years after fighting the Battle at Hogwarts, George Weasley never anticipated a return to the castle. He certainly never anticipated reuniting with an old friend in a very new way. A George/Hermione story.
Author's Note: Story is cannon up until the epilogue. For the most part, the epilogue is ignored. Also, I'm really sorry that I kept the whole Fred thing the same, it seemed necessary for the story even though I hate it. It is Eight years after the battle of Hogwarts and that is where this story starts. Thank you to anyone reading!
Author's Note: Starts on a bit of a downer note, but it's going to pick up. So if the initial tone is turning you off, don't worry, it won't last. I haven't really determined the overall direction, so any suggestions would be fantastic.
George Weasley slunk into his flat and cast a spell to bring light to the room. Without care, he tossed his bright magenta Weasley Wizard Wheezes robes over the back of his couch. Following his typical evening routine he poured several fingers of firewhiskey into a glass tumbler and sank into the couch. His flat was only noteworthy for its starkness. The beige walls were a far cry from the bright orange ones of his previous abode. It lacked any sort of embellishments or friendly personal touches. His sister, Ginny, had brought over pictures and some of these adorned the mantle, tiny images of their family waving from the yard of the Burrow or on past vacations. Pictures of George or his twin were noticeably absent. His little sister referred to a flat as a work in progress, but George knew that after eight years, he was unlikely to make it any cozier. After the final battle at Hogwarts, he had vacated his flat over his joke shop and settled in a smaller place several blocks off of Diagon Alley in a popular residence on Waverington Avenue. The new flat may have been missing the warmth of the last, but it perfectly sufficed for its function; namely a place to eat and a place to sleep.
With only the silence surrounding him, George sipped his drink. The first few tastes of the rich, bold whiskey started to clear his head and would, he knew, help him fall into a deep-enough slumber later that night. Quickly flicking his wand and mumbling a simple spell, George produced tiny, holograph images, which whirled around above his coffee table. Curling his feet beneath him, he studied the images, trying to find the familiar red-head on her broom. He easily spotted his little sister; she was all over the pitch, performing dizzying maneuvers, completing whirling top-speed turns, and easily scoring on the Cannons' hapless Keeper.
George sighed and swirled his drink before taking another gratifying sip. If Ginny had her way, he would have been at the match, sitting in the stands, cheering along with his parents, Ron, Harry, and young Teddy. George watched as the tiny hologram of his baby sister set up a spectacular give-and-go which led to another goal; putting the Harpies well ahead of the bottom-dwelling Cannons. He imagined his family members in the bleachers, matching in burgundy Harpies' hats and scarves, leading the supporters in cheers for the feisty Chaser, and wondered if he should have joined them at the match.
"Probably for the best I didn't," He mentally concluded. Even close to a decade after his twin's passing, his family still treaded lightly around George, seemingly convinced that the tiniest thing could spiral him back into the darkness he had faced following the battle. Images of his Mum's fussing, of Ginny's sympathetic smiles, and Harry and Ron's forced attempts at strained conversation rendered him decidedly content in his decision to stay late at the joke shop and to come straight away to his flat after everything at work was in order. The times when Molly or Ginny managed to coax George over to the Burrow were certainly not unpleasant, but George always felt somewhat uncomfortable. Everyone had seemed eager to move on following the culminating battle. Ginny and Harry had quickly married a few short years after and were already discussing having children once Ginny retired from Quidditch. Ron was happily living in the twins' old flat with Anna, his new girlfriend, while working as a respected Auror. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were simply content to entertain the five grandchildren Bill and Percy had given them. That George's life had become a bit stagnant was not lost on anyone. He had been working at the same shop for close to ten years – albeit a lucrative business which he owned – and, even though he was approaching his thirties, had yet to settle down and start a family.
George stared at his now-empty glass, contemplating a refill, when his pondering was disturbed by a sharp tapping on his flat's window. Wandering over to the window, his bright blue eyes peered though the pane, into the darkness, in an attempt to discern what was causing the disturbance. He couldn't get a sense of what created the noise, but the tapping continued so he opened his window slightly. A large, charcoal grey, barn owl pushed its way into George's living space. It fluttered across the room and perched on the coffee table, disturbing the holographic Quidditch match.
"What do you got there boy?" George spoke out loud to the bird before relieving it of the parchment in its beak. The large owl hovered around the living room while George located a treat for it. Cocking its head to the side the bird looked at George expectantly. George slid open the window slightly wider and the animal flew out into the late twilight before George even had a chance to unseal the letter in his hand. Turning his thoughts from the bird, George carefully broke the deep red seal, unfolded the parchment, and deciphered the tight, slanted cursive.
"Mr. George Weasley," – The letter read – "I require your presence immediately. Sincerely, Hogwarts Headmistress, Minerva McGonagall."
George eyed the letter with confusion. Professional McGonagall was often economical with her words, but it wasn't like her to be so cryptic. Pushing aside concerns related to the correspondence, George set down his glass and shut off the Quidditch match.
"I'll go see McGonagall tomorrow," He figured, headed towards his bed, hoping for an undisturbed night's sleep.
George awoke early as he always did. He was mildly surprised to be greeted by a bright, morning light pouring in his bedroom window, landing on his bed in a split-up pattern from the blinds. Sunshine was never a guarantee in England, not even in late August. George contemplated rolling over and trying to get back to sleep. He wasn't going to go into the shop so there was no immediate need for him to be up and about. Weasley Wizard Wheezes barely required George's presence in order to function. He only really needed to go in on occasion to ensure that the stock was current and that the employees were happy. Nevertheless, George could usually be located in the cluttered workroom at the back of the shop, experimenting with new products or fiddling with old ones. It was the best task for keeping his mind off of reality. Other than the instances where he would instinctively glance up, eager to show his twin a new improvement or an interesting progress, it was the ideal distraction. Fortunately, such moments were growing fewer and further between.
Getting up won out over staying in and George slid off his double bed, curious to discover why Professor McGonagall had insisted on presence. He gulped; every previous time McGonagall had asked him to her office the results had been undesirable – usually George having to spend time in detention. Even secure in the knowledge that he could no longer receive discipline at Hogwarts, George still felt somewhat nervous.
Pulling on his nicest pair of jeans, he discarded his t-shirt in favour of an unwrinkled, grey button down. For formality sake, he dug his old black dress robe out of his closet and hung it over his shoulders. His orange hair had grown well past his one good ear and brushed his shoulders. He hoped Professor McGonagall wouldn't be as disproving of the shaggy locks as his mum. Regretfully he looked around his room for a comb he already knew didn't exist, and settled on running a hand through his hair in a fruitless attempt to make it look less messy.
He wandered the several blocks from Waverington Avenue to the appropriate apparition zone on Diagon Alley. As he walked, he kept his head down, wanting to avoid forced pleasantries with anyone who might recognize him. Reaching the apparaton zone, he quickly disappeared and rematerialized in almost the same instance in Hogsmeade. The town was quiet, but not deserted. There were some people milling around, going from shop to shop or stopping for late breakfasts. George did is best to keep his eyes diverted. The tall red head knew that he was still a recognizable figure in the wizard community. He passed the Hogsmeade branch of Weasley Wizard Wheezes, but declined entering; there was no need for him to check out the shop he already knew was running smoothly.
With some surprise, George had discovered that the mouth of one of his old tunnels had been reopened. Slinking behind Honeydukes, he noticed the two unfolding doors on the ground. They looked as if they merely led to a cellar, but years of experience had taught George otherwise. Stooping down to unhinge the door, George leapt into the dark, gaping hole, landing with a gentle thud on the packed down dirt.
"Lumos," He muttered, bringing a dim source of light to the tunnel. It was smaller than he remembered. Hunching over and being mindful to not rub his sleeve on the dirt, he made his way down the passage. Gradually the tunnel grew larger and he was able to almost walk upright. Soon the darkness faded and light appeared ahead of him. He kept walking until he stumbled into one of Hogwarts third-floor corridors. The wide hallway was empty except for a few clay busts and several free-standing suits of armor. George was confused momentarily until he recalled that he had never been at Hogwarts during a period when there had not been students inhabiting the castle. As he walked, the eyes of dozens of portraits turned to follow him. George noticed some differences in the halls from the last time he had been in the building, but did his best to repress any such memories.
Eventually, George approached the end of the main floor corridor where the base of the headmaster's tower lay. He assumed this was where the now Headmistress McGonagall had her office. He'd never been to the office without being taken there and when he reached the appropriate location neither a door nor an entrance way was detectable. The wall was adorned with portraits and several kitschy paintings of cabins. A large, gothic stone statue of a crouched cat sat in the corner. George studied the brick of the wall, hoping to find an opening.
"Ahh, Professor McGonagall? Are you there?" He inquired aloud.
"Who, may I ask, is looking for her?" The stone cat turned its head with a creak to face George. It continued in a deep, regal voice: "And what is your business?"
"Ahh – G-George Weasley," George stuttered, shocked at having received a response from the statue. "I'm here because Pro-er, Headmistress McGonagall wanted to see me."
"Very well. Wait here." The feline commanded firmly. Abruptly the statute crumbled into to the stone floor, leaving a pile of rubble behind. George stared at the place where the cat used to stand. Before he could consider any other options than simply standing still, the floor vibrated slightly and the cluttered pieces of stones and dust began to stack themselves back into place. Clicking rhythmically the pile of rubble soon began to readopt a cat-like form. With one final shake, the statue had resumed its feline appearance.
"Headmistress McGonagall is willing to see you now," The statute purred. On cue, one of the cottage paintings expanded in size until it took up the better part of the wall. The door of the painted lodge swung open and the stone cat lifted a paw, indicating that George was to enter through the acrylic door.
"Er, thanks mate," George said with a quick wave to the statue and stooped to enter the doorway.
Professor McGonagall's office was far warmer than he had anticipated from his knowledge of the severe Transfiguration instructor. The walls were draped in rich, burgundy fabric curtains. A soft beige couch and a matching beige chair sat in front of a large, granite fireplace which housed flames sparking with reds, golds, and occasional greens. Formidable bronze candle holders stood on either side of the fireplace, providing light to the room. A floating globe hovered between the couch and the chair, flickering with pinhole lights at random. Where the curtains hung open, George was able to note that the room was encircled by bookshelves. They extended to the ceiling and were stocked full of mainly hardcover, bound books of various sizes and colors. On one side of the office a large, sturdy, mahogany desk stood, strewn with a collection of books and parchments. In a high-backed, chair covered in green velvet, Professor McGonagall sat sorting though the parchments, making occasional notes with a fine, feather quill.
"Ah, Weasley. Lovely. Thank you for visiting me." McGonagall spoke kindly and rose from her chair. She removed her glasses and let them hang around her neck, secured by a delicate chain. The lines on her face had deepened since the battle and her hair had completely turned white. George thought she looked much older and more tired than she had when he had last seen her. Of course, he also did.
"Why did you want to see me, Professor McGonagall?" George asked after the proper greetings were engaged. McGonagall sank into the chair by the fireplace and motioned to the couch.
"Have a seat Weasley. Would you care for some tea?" George shook his head and McGonagall continued. "I'm afraid we're in a bit of a pinch. Term starts shortly and Hogwarts is without a professor of Charms."
"And I was hoping that you would be willing to accept the position." McGonagall stated straightforwardly.
"Yes, you, Weasley." McGonagall's dark eyes stared over her nose at the red-head in such a way that George was immediately transported back to the times when he was a student and facing detention.
"But-but, I'm hardly qualified. I mean, you remember how I left school. I didn't even complete seven full years."
"Of course I recall that, Weasley" – McGonagall replied; George wondered if he saw a smile flicker on the corner of her mouth – "However, I'm sure we can both agree that you left under, well, extenuating circumstances. Besides, I am well aware that you returned a short time after to complete your tests. Your NEWT scores were exceptional and, in particular, your Charms marks were in the top percentile that I have seen in my lengthy tenure at Hogwarts. Also, I am familiar with your work and, although I do not approve of its nature, I must admit that the magic is, at the very least, incredibly remarkable."
"Er." George felt a tinge of embarrassment to receive praise from the usually reserved Headmistress. "B-but, I've never taught before,"
"And yet, it seems as if many of our students have learned so much from you," George was certain that McGonagall's grin was no longer merely in his imagination.
"Surely you must have more qualified candidates, Professor McGonagall," George spoke hesitantly, attempting to find another excuse to avoid the position. He couldn't comprehend why he, of all people, was being considered for professorship.
"Well, you see, unfortunately we're in a bit of a bind. When Fil-Professor Flitwick passed so suddenly –" McGonagall's voice strained at the mention of the departure of her old friend – "We were left without anyone to fill the role. Frankly, Weasley, you would really be helping us out of a tight spot should you accept."
"And you think I could really be the Charms instructor?" George asked incredulously; he had always seen his future lying well outside the academic realm.
"I really do. George" – McGonagall addressed him by his given name; an unusual gesture from the woman – "We are quite at a lost. Even if you were to just come on for a year, you'd really be paying me a sizable favour. And besides, I see here that you're almost thirty,"
"I'm only twenty-seven." George interjected.
"As I was saying, you're almost thirty – surely you could use a new adventure."
George contemplated what she said. McGonagall was right; his life did need a jolt from somewhere, something to coax him out of his rut. He never considered returning to Hogwarts, not given how many bad memories were associated with the place. However, there was something in his old professor's words or tone that resounded with him. Perhaps she was right; perhaps the instructor's job was exactly what he needed. Also, if there was one thing a Weasley twin could never shy away from, it was the prospect of a new adventure.
"You really think I can do this?" George asked, feeling uncharacteristic self-doubt.
"I wouldn't ask you if I didn't Weasley,"
"Just a year?"
"Just for a year," Professor McGonagall's normally severe face broke into a certain softness and George sensed that she did have confidence in him, even if it was perhaps misguided. His curiosity and need to discover if he could manage the roll overwhelmed his concerns and the ease of merely remaining with the status quo.
"You know what, Professor McGonagall, I don't know why, but I will take the job." George breathed deeply feeling a tinge of nerves. Notwithstanding, he instinctively smiled after offering his confirmation; something told him he was making the right decision.
"Excellent. And as we're to be colleagues, I think it best you call me Minerva."
"Alright. When shall I start, Pro-er, Minerva, um, Professor McGonagall?"
Author's Note: Thanks for reading! Second chapter is ready to go and will be posted tomorrow.