Chapter 6 : Chapter Five
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I grabbed the bag of specially wrapped gifts that I would be distributing in the morning and a coat and Apparated out of my apartment to the yard outside of the Burrow. I hurried to the house so that I could get out of the cold, admiring the way that the fairy lights in the bushes were twinkling on the ice white of the snow on the ground. I reached the front door and before I could even raise my hand to knock I was being bustled inside by Mrs. Weasley.
“You must be freezing dear,” she said, looking at the way I was shivering. “Come in and I will get you a cup a tea.”
“Thanks Mrs. Weasley,” I said, sitting down at the kitchen table. “A cup of tea would be wonderful.”
“It’s no problem,” she said, levitating a cup over to the table and bringing over the teapot. “Supper will be ready soon and after that we will go into the living room to listen to some Christmas music.”
She tipped the teapot and filled my cup to the brim. I could practically feel the heat radiating off of it and gratefully sipped it, cradling the hot cup in my hands. Mrs. Weasley stirred a couple of things in pots before calling anybody in to help her.
“Ronald and Charlie get in here,” she yelled, opening up the oven to check on whatever was in there.
Said Weasleys came in the room, along with Harry. I turned as they came in and glanced at them before quickly turning around and taking another sip of my tea. I could feel my face heat up and I knew that it had nothing to do with the temperature of the tea.
“Harry dear, you didn’t need to come,” Mrs. Weasley said, shutting the oven door once again.
“It’s no problem Mrs. Weasley,” he said, his voice reassuring. “I am happy to help.”
“All right then, boys could you please get this table set and ready for supper?” she said, prodding the contents of one of the pots with her wand.
I saw Ron nod out of the corner of my eye and turned my gaze to the contents of my cup, pretending to be fascinated with the swirling brown liquid as I moved it around. There was a clattering of plates and jingling of silverware as the boys got out the needed materials to set the table. I could feel the atmosphere of the room change and I really didn’t want to look at the boys. Ron was just plain uncomfortable because of our recent break up, I wasn’t sure about my feelings about Charlie so that put him out, and I was afraid that Harry would be able to see my feelings in my eyes so that cut him out too.
“Glad that you could make it Hermione,” Charlie said, placing a plate in front of me. “I was worried that because of Ron breaking up with you then you wouldn’t come.”
Startled by his knowledge of my break up with Ron I jerked my head up so that I could see Charlie’s face. My heart raced as I saw his eyes twinkling almost in Dumbledore-like style and his lips curl up in a smile. Trying to not let my feelings show on my face I put on a look of confusion, wondering how he knew about Ron breaking up with me.
“Fred and George told me about your whole conversation on the stairs,” he said, his neck and face turning a bright red.
I felt my face heat up once again, knowing that it was turning crimson. I turned an even deeper shade of red as I realized that Fred and George had probably told him that I had said that I liked him. They wouldn’t have told him that I had only told them that so that they would shut up about it.
“You know, I only said that I liked you so that I could get the twins of my back,” I said, looking away from him so that he wouldn’t be able to see that in my heart I knew I was lying.
“I know that,” he said, his voice reassuring. “I found the situation a bit funny. Ron just has a Weasley temper you know.”
“I know that,” I said, setting down the teacup. I wanted to tell him that I had the feeling that our relationship hadn’t been quite working out anyway but I knew that Ron was listening in on what Charlie and I were talking about.
Charlie ruffled my hair in a brotherly way and it took all of my energy too not to make my motion apparent as shivers ran up and down my spine at his touch. I shook my head slightly to clear my thoughts about him. I didn’t like Charlie. That’s what I kept making run through my head anyway.
“Everybody, dinner is ready,” Mrs. Weasley yelled out the door and then repeating it yelling into the living room and up the stairs.
Weasleys drifted into the room and started taking their seats. I noticed that Harry made a point of sitting next to me and Charlie sat next to me on the other side. I almost send a desperate glance at Harry but then the twins sat in the seats in front of me, mischievous grins on their faces. Trying my hardest not to groan I drained my cup of its liquid and placed it on the table once again, a slight chinking noise sounding as it bumped against the plate.
“Would you like some more tea Hermione dear?” Mrs. Weasley asked as she set a couple of large bowls full of food on the table.
“Yes please Mrs. Weasley,” I said.
“Here you go dear,” she said, pointing her wand at my cup and filling it up with more tea.
With that she turned around and started to get more food. Conversation started to fill the air but I didn’t say anything. I didn’t feel like making my presence extremely known seeing as the whole family probably knew by now of my break up with Ron. I didn’t want to answer any questions about it and I knew that if I made my presence known I would have to answer questions about it.
I was grateful when the table was finally loaded with more food then I had ever seen on a table outside of Hogwarts. Putting spoonfuls and forkfuls of different foods onto my plate I silently begun to dig in, the food nearly melting in my mouth with its deliciousness. I had gotten halfway though my plate of food when Charlie turned to me and decided to start talking to me.
“So Hermione, how has your week been?” he asked politely, not directly asking how I was dealing with getting over Ron but with enough of a tone that told me that is what he was wanting to know without being rude and asking flat out.
“It has been good,” I said, putting on a smile that was only half fake. “It’s been relaxing not having to go to work every day. I have gotten quite a few things done that I have been meaning to get done but haven’t had the time to do due to the fact I had to work.”
“Well that is wonderful,” he said, smiling at me.
“So Hermione, you over little Ronniekins yet?” Fred asked, looking immensely interested.
“Yes, I am sure that everybody at this table would like to know,” George said, putting a bite of turkey into his mouth.
“Fred, George, I told you that you weren’t to bother her about that,” Mrs. Weasley said, her voice stern. “I told the whole family.”
“But Mum,” the twins said together in a whining voice that made then sound like two year olds.
“We just want to know if she is going to start going out with Charlie yet,” George said, looking at Charlie and me.
“Yeah, that’s all we wanted to know,” Fred said, joining his brother in looking.
I shifted in my chair uncomfortably. I really didn’t want to answer the question and I most definitely didn’t want to answer anything about Charlie. I felt my face turning red once again and heard Mrs. Weasley come to my rescue so that I wouldn’t have to say anything.
“Leave poor Hermione alone,” Mrs. Weasley said, looking at the twins with a warning look in her eyes. “I am surprised that she even came for Christmas considering the way that she knew you would treat her.”
“Sorry mum,” the twins said in unison, not looking sorry at all. They looked almost like they had gotten what they had wanted from asking me.
Suspecting that they had gotten it from the look on my face I looked down at my plate and started to eat again. There was silence for a moment except for the sound of silverware on the plates and the sipping as people took drinks of their beverage of choice before conversations started again, nobody trying to force me into their conversation.
I sat through the rest of the meal, not eating much. I could feel eyes on me every few moments and I knew that nobody could get what the twins had brought up off of their minds. I finished my meal and sat in silence as everybody else finished theirs. I shifted uncomfortably in my chair every so often and I could practically feel Harry’s concern about me radiating off of him.
“Everybody to the living room,” Mrs. Weasley called over the noise of conversations and laughing as she used her wand to whisk the dishes and food off of the table.
I got up and walked with Harry into the living room sitting down on a couch with me on one side of Harry and Ginny on the other. I knew that Harry would be focusing on Ginny but I didn’t mind. I knew that he wouldn’t completely abandon me to be silent for the night. Ron sat on the couch farthest away from me along with Mr. Weasley and Percy. Charlie sat on the couch diagonal from me with the twins and as soon as Mrs. Weasley came into the room Charlie moved down to the floor by the fireplace so that she would have room on the couch.
“Thank you dear,” she said, taking a seat next to George on the end that was nearest to where her husband was sitting.
“So, what is first Mrs. Weasley?” Harry asked, looking at the excited faces of the rest of the Weasleys.
“First we have to have our traditional sharing of what we have accomplished during the year since we have last been all gathered at Christmas time,” Mrs. Weasley said. “Then we can start getting into the things that the rest of these hooligans think are fun.”
The Weasleys laughed and I joined them. I knew as well as anybody else in the room that Mrs. Weasley’s idea of fun was certainly not the same idea as the others in the room.
“So, who will be first?” she asked, clapping her hands a couple of times to get attention.
“I will go Molly,” Mr. Weasley said, raising his hand slightly. “Since last Christmas Eve I have gotten a promotion and have managed to partially rebuild a relationship with the son that I thought I had lost.”
Mr. Weasley slung his arm over Percy’s shoulders and they both grinned widely. The group clapped quickly before Percy raised his hand.
“I will go next,” he said. “In the past year I have realized that family is more important than what I think I need to do to advance in my career and have thankfully had my family forgive me for being stupid.”
There was clapping and a couple of yells before it dying out at the sight of Harry’s hand going up in the air.
“I have accomplished so much this year in my career as an Auror but that is not the most important thing that I have done this year,” he said, giving Ginny a glance that I didn’t fail to notice. “I have won back my true love and I have never been happier.”
There was loud applause and a couple of cat calls from the direction of the twins. A moment of silence passed before Ginny raised her hand and began to speak.
“This year I got a wonderful job making clothes and doing various powerful spells on them,” she said, grinning. “It is putting my magic skills to use and, if I do say so myself, my wonderful fashion sense.”
She struck a pose in her seat and earned herself a laugh from the rest of the group. I joined in on a rather loud clapping and was one of the last ones to stop the clapping. The group looked at me expectantly but I was once again rescued by Mrs. Weasley raising her hand.
“This year I have used my free time to write a book and I have just recently finished it,” Mrs. Weasley said with a proud smile on her face. “It is a book of different household and cooking tips that I have figured out after years and years of taking care of you all.”
A hearty laugh echoed through the room and clapping followed it. Before everybody was finished clapping the sound had already been cut through by the voices of the twins.
“Now me, now me,” they said, both of them raising their hands and hitting at each other’s hand.
“George,” Mrs. Weasley said, pointing at the twin nearest to her.
Fred did a fake pouting look but it was only moments before it was gone and he was fully focused on what his twin was saying.
“In the past year I have found a way to bring world peace and have married the wonderful Minerva McGonagall,” he said and I was surprised that he was actually able to get it out with a straight face.
He held that straight face for only a second more as the rest of the group burst into gut wrenching laughter. I was laughing so hard that tears were running down my face and I was gasping for breath. Just the image of Professor McGonagall in a wedding dress walking down the aisle was too much for me to handle much less the thoughts of what she would have George like if they actually lived together. The raucous sound lasted for a good long while before it died out.
“Okay, in this past year I have developed a new line of prank hair products with the help of my wonderful twin,” George said, gesturing toward Fred. “Now it is your turn.”
“You just had to take the fun stuff didn’t you,” Fred said with a wide grin, looking at George.
“I left the thing about the business for you,” George said. “I thought that would be good enough.”
“Yeah right,” Fred said, rolling his eyes but I could tell that he was pleased at the fact that he was going to be able to deliver whatever news about the joke shop. “Anyway, this year I have managed some business dealings along with my dear brother and we have become successful enough to open up a joke shop over in the United States of America in the next year. George and I will of course run the joke shop here but we have a very trustworthy person set up to run the America shop.”
“Congratulations,” I said among the rest of the group giving their congratulations. “Who is going to run the shop in America?”
I was curious as to find out who the twins would trust with such a big and important job of running their new joke shop, especially without them there.
“Lee Jordan,” George said, turning toward me.
“Really?” I asked, slightly surprised. “I talked to him the other day and he didn’t mention anything about it.”
“That’s because we told him anybody until the new year,” Fred said, smiling with a proud look in his eyes. I didn’t know what it was for but at that moment I really didn’t care.
I nodded and sunk back into the cushions of the couch, curiosity satisfied. There were a few more minutes of various Weasleys and Harry asking the twins questions but they died out and a silence fell over the room as the group waited for somebody to volunteer to say what they did.
“I’ll go,” Charlie said, raising his hand after a glance at me. I think that he could tell that I really didn’t want to go and I appreciated him volunteering. “This year I have helped set up a new dragon reserve and have helped in the capture of five rogue dragons.”
There was another round of applause but I didn’t participate in it. I was too busy having a staring contest with Ron trying to get him to go so that I wouldn’t have to. It would have been easier if we were still dating but I also knew that if we were still dating I probably wouldn’t feel the need to disappear into the background and not say anything. The clapping died out and the uncomfortable and tense atmosphere raised levels before Harry came to my rescue.
“Come on Ron,” he said, smiling in his position with his arm around Ginny’s shoulders. “You haven’t said what you have accomplished this year yet.”
“Why me?” he asked, looking at Harry with surprise. “Why not Hermione?”
“Just tell Ronniekins,” George said, grinning. “What is it that our dear little Ronniekins has gotten accomplished this year?”
“Fine, I will go,” Ron said, glaring at George who was now smirking happily. “This year I have passed my Auror tests and gotten assigned to some missions.”
The group clapped with the twins wiping away fake tears and making fake amazed faces. Mrs. Weasley playfully slapped them each on the arm to get them to stop and turned to me.
“Well Hermione dear, it appears that it is your turn,” Mrs. Weasley said as the applause for Ron died down. “What have you accomplished this year?”
I looked around the room at the faces staring at me, trying to think of what to say. As much as I had enjoyed listening to what everybody else had to say I had not thought about what I was going to say when the time had came for me to actually say something.
“Well, um,” I said, clearing my throat. “I have worked my way up in the Muggle relations department at the Ministry and I have been given a new assignment of running a bookshop that sells both magical and Muggle books so as to help improve relations between witches and wizards and Muggles.”
There was a small applause like on all of the other people in the room and the attention quickly turned away from me to Mrs. Weasley.
“Okay, my thoughts were that we would hang our stockings and then start up the games and after that do the Christmas music sing alongs,” Mrs. Weasley said, looking around at the rest of the room’s occupants.
“What about eggnog dear?” Mr. Weasley asked. “It isn’t Christmas Eve without eggnog.”
“Oh dear, I forgot to grab it when I left the kitchen after dinner,” Mrs. Weasley said, starting to rise from the couch. “I will go get it.”
“Don’t be silly mum, I will go get it,” Charlie said from the floor, pushing himself and walking toward the kitchen before Mrs. Weasley could object.
“Well then, let’s get starting on hanging the stockings then shall we?” Mrs. Weasley said, finishing standing up before waving her wand to have her arms fill with Christmas stockings.
The Weasleys all swarmed around Mrs. Weasley, grabbing the stockings that were traditionally theirs. I took each one individually, noting how they related to the person that hung them. I couldn’t help but giggle slightly as I saw Mr. Weasley’s with its plugs and gnomes. Each of the Weasleys had their stockings except for Charlie who was still in the kitchen when Mrs. Weasley noticed that Harry and I had hung back from the rest of the crowd.
“Come on dears, I have made one for each of you,” she said, moving her arms up and down to show the stockings there to prove what she was saying.
A grin lit on Harry’s face and I knew that he was immensely happy to get a stocking to hang with the family that he had basically adopted as his own. I was a bit less happy but still put a smile on my face, I couldn’t help but feel like I was an intruder on a family tradition that wasn’t my own. I knew that part of the reason I felt that way was because I had always spent Christmas with my parents but I also knew that I was feeling that way because I wasn’t dating Ron anymore and therefore wasn’t really a part of the family.
I took the stocking that Mrs. Weasley was holding out for me and I couldn’t help but allow my face to light up as I took in the embroidered books and happy house elves with Santa hats on. I ran my fingers over the stitches, somehow knowing that Mrs. Weasley had done each of them herself to make the special stocking for me. I took it up to the fireplace mantle and hung it next to Harry’s. As I put the loop over the nail I glimpsed at Harry’s stocking, seeing that it was covered with broomsticks, Snitches, and dragons. I smiled at how thoughtful Mrs. Weasley was to be doing what she was doing for me and Harry but still couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable. Deciding that it would be best for me to get out so that the others could have a good time without me putting a damper on things I tried to think of a way to get out.
“This has been fun and I really wish that I could do more stuff but I am really tired,” I said as soon as I had thought of an excuse to get out of the room. “I am just going to go up to bed.”
“Are you sure dear?” Mrs. Weasley asked, looking around at all of the red heads and Harry standing up around her. “The games are so much fun.”
“I am sure Mrs. Weasley,” I said, not failing to catch the concerned looks in Ginny and Harry’s eyes.
“All right then,” she said, smiling. “You will be rooming with Ginny in her room. There is a second bed set up for you. It is the one with the brown and white striped sheets.”
“Thank you Mrs. Weasley,” I said. “I will see you all in the morning.”
There was a chorus of good nights as I turned around and headed out of the living room and into the kitchen. I didn’t see Charlie in the kitchen and I started to head toward the stairs when I heard steps coming down the stairs. I debated moving so that I wouldn’t have to bump into Charlie but right as I decided to move I stepped right in front of the bottom stair and saw a sparkling ring of golden lights go up around me.
Trying to move my feet I found that I couldn’t and groaned. Thinking fast I opened my mouth to shout a warning up to Charlie but before I could say anything he had entered the golden circle as well and lurched forward as his feet stuck.
“Well, hello,” I said, unconsciously moving my hand to pat my hair.
“Hi,” Charlie said, looking slightly confused. “Any idea why we can’t move?”
“Not a cl—“ I said but stopped mid sentence as I looked around the space that we were in. It only took a glance above us to tell me that my suspicions were correct.
“Mistletoe,” I said, pointing upwards. “Must have been charmed to force whoever walks under it to be stuck.”
“The twins’ Christmas prank,” Charlie sighed, running his hand through his hair. “I should have known that since their prank hadn’t become apparent yet they had done something that would have been long lasting.”
“What do you think that we have to do to make the spell let us go?” I asked, in my mind knowing what we would have to do but not wanting to believe it.
“Well, considering that we are under mistletoe I am thinking that the people trapped under it will have to kiss before the spell will allow them to leave the circle,” Charlie said, his face and neck turning a deep red once again.
I felt a blush rise to my cheeks and I looked down at my feet, occasionally glancing up at Charlie’s face. We stood there in uncomfortable silence for a few moments before Charlie decided to break it.
“Well, I suppose that we should get this over with,” he said. “What is a kiss between friends?”
“Right,” I said, feeling a shot of pain go through my heart at the sound of him saying that we were just friends.
He smiled and started too lean over to lower his face down to mine and I started tipping my face up toward him. There was a minute of me worrying before our lips met and all thoughts of worry disappeared from my mind. All I knew in that moment was that the feeling of his lips on mine was ecstasy and felt the shivers run up and down my back to a degree that was ten times greater than when he had ruffled my hair. The scent of him was overpowering with being so close to him, a smell almost like the one that lingered in the air right after a rainstorm with its freshness and a faint touch of fire.
I felt him break away and had to keep myself from wrapping my arms around his neck to bring his face back for another kiss. There was nothing that I wanted more in that moment then to just kiss him again but I knew that I needed to restrain myself. It wasn’t right for me to like my ex-boyfriend’s brother but I couldn’t help but feel like my kiss was the most right I have ever felt.
I looked away from Charlie, not wanting him to be able to see the emotions that I knew were written all over my face. I tested moving my feet and as soon as I was sure that they were both released from the spell I ran up the stairs, feeling the tears well up in my eyes and start to run down my face. I barely made it to Ginny’s room before the sobs started to rack my body as I opened the door. Spotting the bed made for me I collapsed onto it with my face in the pillow; my body shuddering with the emotions roiling inside of me and the sobs that I just couldn’t keep in.
A/N- Hope you all didn't mind the length of this chapter. I had to get everything that was supposed to be in this chapter in and it ended up running really long. Thanks for reading it. Super thanks to the wonderful Jessi for the fabulous word wars that got this chapter out so fast. Please leave a review everybody. I will be updating soon!
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