Written for The Twin Exchange Monthly Challenge
Summary: It was noisy, crowded, and probably not the best place to be during rush hour. The Tube. London's Underground railway and Hermione's favorite place to disappear. HermionexGeorge
Two words. Two simple, everyday words: The Tube.
It was noisy, crowded, and probably not the best place to be during rush hour. Strangers uncomfortably close together, all fighting for the one seat left or be forced to stand next to the suspiciously homeless looking person with a strange stain on his shirt. Luckily, Hermione had just enough street smarts to get by whenever she used this mean of transportation.
The question being why she rode The Underground in the first place- as a perfectly capable witch she was able to simply apperate to any location she wished. Why she wanted to sit next to a complete and udder stranger was not exactly general knowledge.
And that's exactly how Hermione liked it.
She didn't know quite what about the Muggle transportation appealed her so much; perhaps it was the familiarity the ride provided, the memories of Hermione's childhood rides with her mum giving her a sense of nostalgia that was difficult to find nowadays, or it might be the the ability it gave her to blend into the crowds easily. The Tube gave her a chance to breathe, to take a break from her hectic life and just enjoy herself for a little bit.
Even if she was sitting next to a grimy window, sharing the car with a man that smelled suspiciously homeless.
"Mind if I sit here?" A voice asked, Hermione absent-mindedly shook her head. Biting her lip uncomfortably as the person's leg brushed up against her own as they sat down.
"Thanks. Say, do I know you from somewhere?" The brunette glanced up, dismay beginning to build up inside of her at the thought of her hiding place being discovered.
"Oh, um, I don't believe–" She stopped as she made eye contact with the person, all worry quickly disappearing at the sight of the familiar red hair and blue eyes. "George!" Hermione laughed, pleasantly surprised at the sight of her old friend. "What are doing here?"
The man laughed, his grin brightening the gloomy train considerably as more passengers filed in. "I'm going to go visit Freddie, wish him a happy new year and such."
"Oh, that's... Nice." Hermione finished lamely, fidgeted uncomfortably in her seat for a moment. Even after four years, she always found herself at loss for words when he was mentioned; guilt finding its way into her heart. Hermione felt as though the twin's death was her fault, even though everyone else had accepted and moved on.
There was an awkward silence, the only other noises were the loud clamor of the other passenger and the gentle rocking of the train. After a few minutes, George spoke up, turning towards the brunette slowly, as if hesitant to begin a conversation again. "What are you doing here, Granger?"
Hermione grinned as she met George's gaze again; relieved for the change of subject. "Nowhere in particular, I just like to ride."
George burst out laughing, making the woman sheepishly return her gaze towards the floor. "Well that's a good as reason as anything, I suppose. You look great, we all missed you at Christmas this year."
Hermione tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, a light blush spreading across her cheeks at the compliment. "Thank you, and I didn't know if I was welcome, after mine and Ron's breakup,"
George looked Hermione in the eye, his voice oddly serious for once. "You're always welcome at the Weasley house; no matter what. Don't forget, you're still family." Hermione looked at George, slightly startled by the man's uncharacteristic seriousness.
"Alright," she murmured softly. "Thank you." He grinned and lightly punched her shoulder.
"Lighten up, Granger. Say, since you're going nowhere in particular, would you care to join me?"
Hermione thought about it for a moment, then found herself nodding. She had missed George, and since she really was going nowhere, Hermione figured she might as well spend the remainder of the afternoon with the Weasley. "Yeah, alright."
He grinned and the train slid into a not-so-smooth stop; George stood up and offered Hermione his hand, which she gratefully took. Sitting in the same spot for half an hour can make one's legs quite jelly-like, after all.
The walked out of the car, hand in hand, and up into the streets of downtown Muggle London.
They were still walking hand in hand when they neared the Wizard neighborhood; and Hermione knew that she should have let go of his hand long ago, but the way her hand fit in his felt... Right. And George wasn't making any moves to suggest he was uncomfortable with the situation, so they continued walking in comfortable silence, hand in hand, through Godric's Hollow.
"Is it just me, or is it cold outside?"
Hermione grinned and shook her head, "It's London, during the winter, George. Unfortunately it's going to be cold no matter what,"
George feigned mock-disbelief and dropped her hand, crossing his over his chest. "Well aren't you just a little know-it-all?" Hermione just laughed hugged her arms around herself, slightly disappointed that he had let go of her hand.
"Are you cold?" He asked softly, acknowledging the change of mood.
Hermione shrugged, shivering slightly. "Just a bit, I'll be fine though." But before she could even finish, Hermione felt his arm wrap itself around her slender shoulders; warmth beginning to spread throughout her body as she snuggled closer to George.
"Thanks," She whispered, a small smile on her lips as she wrapped her hand around his waist.
They strolled around for a few minutes, talking about everything under the sky. They discussed the recent weather ("No snow recently, don't you think that's a bit odd?"), Ginny's Quidditch matches ("When she went up against that Austrailia team I thought for sure they were going to lose, but they somehow pulled through!"), and George's shop ("Well you see, I'm trying to perfect this new treat, that whoever eats it turns a sparkly purple... But every time I try it out, they just break out in purple acne."), and many more incredibly interesting topics that never left Hermione bored for one moment.
"Say, how did your and Ron's relationship end? Ron wasn't up for telling at the holiday," Hermione looked at George, slightly taken aback by his bluntness. But his tone wasn't mean or scorning as she feared it may be; it was more curious than anything else.
She shrugged, kicking a loose stone in the cobbled street, attempting to organize her thoughts, before daring to open her mouth. "I don't know. I loved your brother; and I thought that I was going to marry him and everything. But, it just sort of... Fizzled out over the last year. And then we didn't feel the same way anymore and our relationship was't healthy. So we mutually split," The brunette took a breath, her cheeks slowly growing pink from the embarrassment of her story. "And I suppose that's it. What about you and Ang? Won't this be your... Third year together?"
George was silent for a moment before answering, "We broke up last month; with her traveling all the time, and me running the shop, it just wasn't working out,"
"Oh," she whispered, biting her lip. "I'm sorry to hear that, you two were so wonderful together." And she did mean it, there had been plenty of times when she was almost jealous of the two for having such a wonderful relationship. Plenty of times she'd been jealous of Angelina...
There was a moment of silence as they turned a corner; the only other people in the graveyard fellow mourners coming to visit their loved ones before the holidays were over. Hermione, despite George's body heat, shivered in the wind that abruptly began to blow, making the leave swirl at their feet as they walked down the street.
"You know," Hermione said quietly to George, "I used to have the largest crush on one of you."
She blushed and looked down at the ground. "Yes, I never knew which one of you it was, but somebody would leave me little notes every once and a while. I'd find them in the most ridiculous places!"
Hermione laughed, completely unaware of George's growing smile as she looked up at the sky, her eyes distant as she remembered her school days. "I once found one in my socks, nicely tucked into them. I didn't notice it until I actually had both my sock and shoe on!"
George's smile widened, not even bothering to hold back his boisterous laughter. "That's brilliant! But how did you know that it was one of us and not Ron? And why have I never heard of this before?"
"Because whoever left the note always signed 'Half a Weasley'. And I suppose that I never told anyone because... Well... I suppose I was childish and I liked the idea of having a secret, of having someone like me."
George nodded thoughtfully, "I suppose that makes sense. Personally I wold have been blabbering about my secret admirer to anyone that could hear!"
Hermione chuckled and slowly rested her head on his shoulder, "I suppose that's why I never found out who it was. I never bothered to tell anyone..."
George smiled and gently squeezed Hermione's shoulders, coming to a halt.
And there it was; white marble and with the writing that was bewitched to change color every few minutes.
'We laughed at him because he was different
He laughed at us because we were all the same
We will never laugh the same again.
1 April, 1978 - 2 May, 1998'
Hermione felt her eye prickle with tears when she saw those words. It was a bit uncharacteristic compared to the other engravings- but it seemed to fit Fred. They never would laugh the same again. And unlike the surrounding stones, with only a few flowers, or maybe an enchanted wreath, Fred's grave was wrapped in lights. The soft, twinkling glowing orbs illuminating the engraving and bringing a source of light into the dreary scenery. And instead of looking sad, it looked oddly... Cheerful.
"Did you do is?" Hermione asked silently, silently begging for the tears to go away.
George nodded, "Yeah, me and Ginny right before Christmas. We figured he would've wanted to be a part of the festivities too."
Hermione, despite better judgement, let out a small laugh as she wiped her eyes. "I could see him saying that. As ridiculous as it is." After a moment, Hermione looked at George; curiosity welling up inside her. She wondered how he could be happy again, after losing someone so dear and close. Literally his other half. Yet here he was, laughing and joking just like before. And then the question was out before she could help herself, "Do you miss him?
"Do I have to answer that?"
Hermione bit her lip and shook her head, knowing that it was a stupid question the moment that it left her lips. Of course he missed his brother- he was probably coping with it in a different way than her. And that was perfectly alright; everybody dealt with it differently. Fred was brilliant, hilarious, and one of those people that could make any situation better by just walking into the room. He was sorely missed by all those who knew him, and those who didn't.
She couldn't help herself but think about his twin also. George. He was much different than his brother, but in a more subtle way. He was sweet, kind, brilliant, and Hermione honestly liked being around him. And unlike Fred, he knew when to be serious, he knew how to listen, he... He was perfect.
All this left Hermione's head spinning, her feelings in slight disarray inside her chest as she tried to organize her thoughts and emotions. Then it hit her like a stupify spell.
Both she and George opened their mouths at the same time;
"Hey George, I need to discuss something with you,"
"Hermione, there's something I want to tell you,"
"You go first," Hermione said with a smile, her cheeks turning a light pink. George turned to face her directly, his hands falling from her shoulders as they moved to nervously ruffle his red hair.
He took a deep breath, steadying his voice. "I'm Half a Wesley." It only took Hermione a moment of thought before their lips met for the first time.
Hermione wanted to sigh in pure happiness. Nothing could have been more perfect, the way her lips melted against against his; the way that it was entirely effortless and natural at the same time.
The moment was flawless; and then it began to snow.
The couple broke apart and looked up at the sky, a look of slight disbelief on both their faces. George began to laugh, quickly wrapping his arms around Hermione's slender waist and planting another kiss on her forehead.
Hermione smiled silently to herself as she enjoyed George's embrace, never wanting this moment to end.
"How about we head home, love?" He whispered softly in her ear.
Hermione glanced up at George, her face slightly pink from the cold and a smile comfortably settling onto her lips. "Muggle or Wizard way?"
"How about we take The Tube?" George suggested, placing Hermione under his arm as they began their way out, everything else forgotten.
They were two words. Two simple, everyday words: The Tube.
It was noisy, crowded, and probably not the best place to be during rush hour. Strangers uncomfortably close together, all fighting for the one seat left or be forced to stand next to the suspiciously homeless looking person with a strange stain on his shirt.
But to Hermione Granger, it was the best place on Earth. Not because of the nostalgic feelings or the privacy it gave her; but because on that dirty, grimy train- she finally found who she was looking for.
A/N: I swear this thing wanted to kill me. The hardest piece I have ever written, it took me twenty days, several rough drafts, and dozens of cups of coffee to write this- and I'm still not happy with it.
But, it's been a wonderful challenge, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy every minute of it.
Sorry if it's a bit rough- I really just wanted to get it out there for the Twin Exchange Monthly challenge, I'll probably come back to it and redo it :)
Reviews are always appreciated, and if you liked it enough, and would be tickled pink if you vote for me on the Twin Exchange profile!