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Chapter 4: An Impartial Adviser
Chapter IV: An Impartial Adviser
George, having spent many days with the letter circling his mind, and many hours staring at a piece of parchment with ‘To Ginny’ at the top of the page, was well and truly stumped. He had not discussed the matter with Lee, who had actually been avoiding him since his outburst a few days ago for some reason unknown to George, nor had he mentioned it when Percy had visited the day after the incident. As George had received no howler from his mother, he felt reassured that Ginny had not told her at least what he had said.
Well, perhaps she had. Their mother did not seem in much of a condition to make howlers at this point in time.
The problem was, not that George couldn’t find the words; it was that he was not even fully sorry yet. He wanted to feel sorry. Deep down, he was protective over Ginny to the point of being overbearing, and had always been that way. To resent her this much was painful.
George, just this once, needed advice and support. It was hard to even admit that to himself. But who? Who could support him without any judgement? George dwelled upon this as he served an extremely tall wizard, and as he left the shop, George suspected that he’d given him too much change.
As he was distracted by this and not dwelling upon the issue in hand, a sudden idea struck him like a bolt of lightening. The person who had been the most frank and honest with him would surely be the one who George should consult on such a matter of how best to…apologise to his sister. Someone who did not know him well enough to judge him. Luna Lovegood, the person who had told him that he should apologise in the first place. George almost cracked a smile to himself at the thought of her strange boldness.
Hastily, George rummaged in the drawers of the counter for a sheet of spare parchment. Finding one grubby and crumpled up, and snatching up the quill on the counter, he set to work. Or tried to. This began to seem like George would need an advisor to advise him on how to ask another person to advise him. George did not really know Luna, and this letter seemed far too awkward to be allowed. Then again, Luna seemed like she knew a thing or two about being awkward, judging by their past conversations, infrequent though they’d been. With a few more moments rolling the quill between his fingers thoughtfully, George began to write.
“Perce?” said George from behind a long sheet of order forms which was so long that is rolled out of his lap and hit the wall opposite.
“Mmhm?” replied Percy unconcernedly, at the desk piled with long lists of calculations.
“How often do you go to the Burrow?”
Percy sat up a little straighter (if possible) and frowned. To give himself waiting time, it seemed, he removed his horned rimmed glasses and polished them on a glasses wipe he retrieved from his pocket. George glanced sideways at him from the order forms.
“I go when I can.” Percy said in a tone which attempted to be casual, yet his crimson ears betrayed his strain in answering the question.
“Which is…?” edged George.
“I visit mother and father every couple of days for dinner, approximately.” Percy finally said, with a short, sheepish smile. George felt the ever so familiar feeling of guilt writhe in his stomach again. If Percy visited the Burrow that often, how terrible did that make George appear in the eyes of their parents?
“Maybe I should visit at some point.” He admitted.
“Perhaps,” Percy sighed “But I have to go there, don’t I? After how I have acted over the last couple of years.”
George contemplated this. Percy seemed as if he felt he had a debt to pay for how he had completely neglected his family. George remembered how he and his brothers had badmouthed Percy. Would George have a similar debt to pay one day?
“Are you going this evening?” George asked hesitantly.
“I’m going.” George announced, and shook the parchment in his hands defiantly, as if he were challenging Percy to challenge it. At least now, in the tense wait for Luna’s letter, George did not have to feel useless. Percy did not reply, but if George were to have watched the side of Percy’s face that was visible to him, he would have seen the side of Percy’s mouth lift.
After the sign on the door of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes had changed to ‘CLOSED’ at the end of what felt like an extremely long day, and Lee had closed the door behind him with a curt ‘See you, mate’, George braced himself for the visit to the Burrow. He changed from his stern work suit into a crisp white shirt and jeans, picked up the box of chocolate cauldrons he had bought, and glanced out of the window above the desk as a force of habit for any sign of the barn owl from Hogsmeade Owlery. Luna had to have received the letter by now. Perhaps she had simply ignored it. It was, after all, a fairly odd request for advice from somebody she barely knew.
Pushing this unwelcome thought into the back of his mind, George breathed in slowly, and without further ado, apparated out of that dusty little room and into the unkempt front garden of the Burrow.
It was exactly as he had remembered it, of course, as this was the one place where matters remained constant. Except for that one thing of course. The thing which could never return.
Chickens scattered fearfully as George strode towards the door, taking in the sense of the place. How could he ever have left? Before he’d even stretched his arm out to answer the door, it was thrown open by his eldest brother, Bill Weasley.
“Oh, it’s you!” He said, taken aback. George frowned. Bill didn’t even smile, instead considering George’s face with an almost pained expression, stretching his all too noticeable white scar with the scrunching of his nose. George bit back an angry retort which danced tantalizingly on his tongue.
“Yes.” He settled for saying. He hovered on the doorstep for a few moments awkwardly. Bill contrasted heavily with George’s glum and dejected appearance. Bill bore the signs of having someone who cared for him; his face was flushed, his clothes obviously pristine, and his long hair had been tired back neatly.
“Well then,” Bill said, he was obviously short for words “You might as well come in.”
Bill stepped to the side and allowed George to pass.
“S’been a while, Georgie.” Muttered Bill. He patted George on the back. George took this as a sign of acceptance, nodded at him, and walked into the achingly familiar kitchen, accompanied by the delicious smells of his mother’s cooking. George had totally forgotten how much of a good cook his mother was. Seeing her with her back to him, busy over numerous brass pots and pans made it feel like cotton wool had filled his throat. He could not think of a single word to say.
“Who was it, Bill?” She called out, just as Bill came to stand next to George.
“It’s George, Mum.” He said in a flat voice. George tried desperately to get his throat unstuck. His mother turned around with an incredulous expression on her lined and worn face. George coughed, and finally managed to splutter out a few words.
“D-d-didn’t Percy tell you I was coming?”
Molly Weasley, just as she had done in Diagon Alley, circled around the creaky wooden table in the middle of the kitchen, and gave George a bone-breaking hug, stroking his hair in the process affectionately.
“No, he didn’t. Why, did you tell him?” She asked unconcernedly, as she looked George critically up and down.
“Yeah, I did actually.” George muttered quietly.
“You’re very thin, George.” She said, and she pursed her lips in obvious anxiety. She left it at that, just as some putrid smelling black smoke came pouring out of one of the pots. She gasped and turned back to one of the pots.
“Go and see the rest in the sitting room, George, they’ll all want to see you!” She called, gesturing to the old wooden door.
“C’mon.” grunted Bill. He opened the door, and George followed him inside. On the old, sagging armchair, sat his father, bearing that stressed look which characterised a rough day at the office. Next to him, on a stiff wooden chair, sat Percy. Percy was consulting his father on a matter he had just observed in the Daily Prophet. On the sofa, sat the fantastic golden trio themselves, Ron, Hermione, and Harry. Harry appeared to be attempting to distance himself from the other two, as he had the crumpled copy of the Prophet in his hands, shielding his face from the two. They all looked up as Bill and George entered.
“George!” cried his father, and a smile lit his face. He jumped up from his well worn armchair and walked over to shake his hand and pat him on the shoulder. While George smiled, he could not help but shudder in guilt, remembering Ginny’s words from not so long ago. However, no matter what she had said, it was only Bill who’s greeting had been frosty in the slightest. Percy beamed at George in surprise; he had clearly not expected him to show up.
Ron boomed a jovial ‘Hi!’ at him, and Harry nodded at him, smiling. Harry had evidently not received any letter of complaint from Ginny. Yet Hermione, tanned brown from her time in Australia, did not seem as happy. She, like George’s mother, bore a pained expression.
“Percy’s been telling me about how well you’ve been doing!” his father carried on saying, escorting George over to another stiff backed chair that had appeared at the other side of the armchair. Behind George, Percy smiled in a self-satisfied way at the enthusiastic manner in which his brother and father talked.
“So, is business booming in Hogsmeade?” He pressed on.
“Slow, but good enough. More peaceful.” George asserted. George found it easy to slip into this conversation. As the rest of the occupants of the room resumed their previous exploits and Bill had gone upstairs, presumably to speak to Fleur, George and his father moulded into an easy conversation, of the sort which George had not experienced very often in the last few months. Nevertheless, the awkward undertone of the entire situation which had begun with Bill reminded George all too strongly of why he had asked Luna for help, and not anybody else. He wasn’t sure why, but more than anything, he longed for her complete and perhaps excessive honesty right at that moment.
Roughly half an hour later, George heard two pairs of footsteps coming down the stairs; one slow and sluggish, the other light and quick. Surprisingly, the slow footsteps trailing behind was actually Fleur, whereas the quicker belonged to Bill.
“Oh, ‘ello George. Bill told me you were ‘ere.” Yawned Fleur, rubbing her eyes.
“Yeah. Hi.” George said, embarrassed.
He noticed that under Fleur’s light blue jumper was a barely discernible curve, only evident due to Fleur’s already thin frame. George bit his lip again, preventing himself from saying anything which could lead to deep humiliation. There was a time when he would have made a loud and humorous remark at this.
Conveniently, this was the moment that his mother chose to yell ‘Ready!’ from the kitchen. They all headed eagerly into the suddenly very cramped kitchen, and crowded around the scrubbed wooden table, which was so full of crockery it was miraculous that it hadn’t required magic to keep it standing.
“Molly, ‘a am so sorry I couldn’t ‘elp you with dinner, it looks lovely.” Said Fleur sadly. And indeed it did; a steaming vat of shephard’s pie stood proudly on the table, as if waiting for compliment. Everyone else mumbled in agreement.
“Not at all, not at all, you need your rest!” said the cook herself, serving out incomprehensible sized portions, particularly making sure to add around a quarter extra onto George’s and Fleur’s plates.
Again, like the conversation between himself and his father, George slipped into an easy routine. He kept his silence listening to the words of others; Hermione was telling George’s highly interested father about her trip to Australia, how she had found her parents safe, and easily brought back their memories, while Percy conversing rapidly with Harry about recent events in the Auror office. On the other hand, Bill always kept one, slightly grumpy eye on George. At this, George felt his mind wander back to the letter he had sent to Luna, which would be the first step he had to take in re-building his relationship with his family.
A/N: Okay, I’m sorry. I know not much happened in this chapter, but I had to have this in order to fill some of the timeline. But there will be more George/Luna coming up soon. It has been a while, again, sorry! I’ve been so busy with my A2 exams coming up. A bit stressed, as you can imagine. Anyway, I hope you still liked it. Review pleeeeease! J