Chapter 2 : Just Right
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“Hey, Cate, can I see you after close?” George said to her. She looked over to him and furrowed her eyebrow in confusion, but nodded in acceptance. She continued about entertaining some children with another one of her Muggle card tricks. It always made George smile for some reason. He never could figure out why, but it did. Perhaps it was the profit he would make if she impressed people enough with the tricks they could do with the cards. That didn’t seem as though it was it, though.
“Did she do something wrong?” Fred whispered to George, having heard what the latter had said to Cate.
Shaking his head, George said: “Do you think she’s pretty?”
“Not really, why? Were you thinking of asking her out?” Fred said.
“Yeah.” George thought she was incredibly beautiful, though perhaps it was the spell she put on him when she spoke. No, that couldn’t be it. After dealing with her voice for six months, it couldn’t be that that made him think she was beautiful. It was something else… Maybe it was the way her eyes sparkled in the light and her curls bounced around. He shook the thought from his head. Why was he letting his employee’s beauty fill his head? No, his friend’s beauty. Why was he letting one of his best friend’s beauty fill his mind?
It was true that Cate had grown to be one of his close friends. There was no denying that George enjoyed having a woman to confide in rather than his brother or their friend, Lee Jordan. She seemed to understand his feelings about things better.
The clock hanging in the corner of the shop was pure agony to look at. The second hand moved slower as the hour hand neared the six. One measly little centimeter was all the hour and minute hands needed to move, and then he could finally talk to Cate.
“All right! It’s six o’clock! Everyone out!” Fred shouted to the remaining few customers. The child Cate was helping at the register looked frightened by Fred’s demand. George watched for her reaction, intrigued.
“It’s all right. Just give me one of your knuts and two of your sickles in addition to what you gave me, then I’ll give you back one galleon,” she said soothingly to the child, whose mother was standing outside the store, waiting for him.
“Thank you!” the child said as Cate handed him the bag with his purchases and the galleon she promised.
“You’re welcome,” she said as he ran from the store. A smile slowly curled on George’s lips when he remembered that he had something to tell her. He cautiously sauntered over to her as she slipped her coat on.
“Hey, I wanted to ask you something,” George said as she turned around to face him. A few tendrils of her hair hung in her soft eyes and she pushed them away. A loss of words suddenly came of him. This never happened; you could ask his mum if you wanted. He and Fred had a very difficult time keeping their mouths shut.
Slowly, he eyed Fred, who was leaving the shop to go upstairs. Whoever had said that twins had an unspoken language was right. Fred and George knew what the other wanted to say without needing it to be said.
The room fell silent as George struggled with his words. He shouldn’t be nervous. He knew everything about her from when her sister gave her the scar on her toe to the time she fainted before giving a speech at her Muggle primary school. Hell, he even knew that her middle name was Ophelia and that her birthday fell four days before his. He could also tell you her exact height, five feet six and a half inches, not that he stalked her or something of the sort. He simply knew her well.
You will not chicken out, George, he kept telling himself. You will not chicken out. You’re a Gryffindor for god’s sake! A Gryffindor! You’re brave; just ask her out. C’mon, the words will come, mate.
“Did you want hang out tonight?” George said. Wonderful. He chickened out; the precise thing that he told himself not to do. Cate thoughtfully pulled her golden curtain hair out of the collar of her coat and bit her lip in thought.
“Sure,” Cate said. “What did you have in mind?”
Shit. That was something that he hadn’t thought of. The plan was to go out on Friday night to dinner, but that fell through because of his loss of courage. They could go see the Quidditch game that was taking place tonight. Yes, that was a good plan; they both liked to watch Quidditch.
“Did you want to go to the Quidditch game?” he said.
“You have to let me pay for my own ticket,” she said slyly, as though she knew he would attempt to pay. “Or I won’t come.”
Cate always kept her word and George desperately wanted her to come.
“I promise that you can pay for your own ticket.”
Ah, the excitement of a Quidditch game. Fans shouting and the sweet smell of the dirt and grime left over from the previous game were two of George’s favorite parts of a Quidditch game. The rush that each person got despite what team they were rooting for was priceless.
Today’s players were the Falmouth Falcons, fading into the cloudy sky with their silvery gray robes, highlighted by white. The other set of players were the Pride of Portree. Their royally purple robes flowed behind them while the gold stars on each of their chests glinted in the setting sun.
George watched as each team flew past the stands like peacocks showing of their feathers to impress others. As they did this, the sky slowly turned different shades of pink, orange, purple, and blue from the large ball in the sky that was changing directions. He was intrigued by how self absorbed some Quidditch players seemed to be. The sport was more important, though, so George didn’t pay too much attention to their vanity.
“Is this your first professional Quidditch game?” George shouted about the roaring crowd. She nodded vigorously as she followed the players with her eyes. He kindly pointed out which player was which, seeing as she had never attended a match. She didn’t seem to mind that he was telling her who was who, for she asked again to clarify what he was telling her.
“We’re not going for any team in particular, unless you prefer one over the other,” he said, leaning in close to her so that she could hear what he was telling her over the restless witches and wizards enjoying the game. Her scent innocently tantalized him to kiss her smooth cheek, but he didn’t. He just breathed in the sweet, fruity scent, which he associated only with Cate, as subtly as possible. As he gaze slowly met his, and his palms became sweaty. He nervously ran his fingers through his mop of ginger hair and pointed to the field.
“The, er, the Falcons got a Quaffle through the hoop,” he said.
“Yeah,” Cate said, her tone telling George that she was a bit disappointed about something. She turned to watch the game again.
George let the winter wind whip on his face brutally. Why, oh, why hadn’t he just said something to her? What had happened to his Gryffindor courage? Wasn’t he the one who left Hogwarts, in spite of Umbridge being in the Ministry, and didn’t care that he got in trouble for hitting Malfoy the same year? He could do all that, but he couldn’t kiss the woman standing next to him.
“Would you like to come in for a few moments?” Cate said as George dropped her off at her flat. He had been there many times before, but now seemed different. The wooden floors and the deep red walls seemed to be telling him something tonight. They were telling him to leave.
“Sure,” George said, not caring what her flat was telling him to do. She flicked her wand softly, allowing light to be shed on her home. He took his coat off and put it on the rack by the door, following her lead.
Sitting on the couch next to her, George’s mind fought the urge to lean over and kiss her. The raging war in his mind was bringing him to insanity as was the perfect order of everything in her apartment. He knew very well that she was an organization nut, but he hadn’t thought anything of it until a few weeks ago.
“Are you okay?” Cate said, shaking George abruptly from his thoughts.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Why?”
“You’re very quiet tonight.”
“Did you enjoy the Quidditch game?”
“Oh, yeah. I did; very different from the ones at Hogwarts, I must say.”
“A smidge louder, yeah?”
“Mhmm,” she said, her tone suggesting that she was bored on the subject that had been brought up. Subconsciously, George moved closer to her on the couch, keeping his mouth shut. Their eyes locked, making him feel nervous once again, yet completely at ease.
“Are you okay?” Cate said for the second time that evening. Her soothing voice seemed to make George melt a bit, but not so much that he lost his composure.
“Is it normal for your palms to sweat and your heart to beat fifteen times the normal pace?” he said, his chest rising and falling slowly.
“Not at all,” she said, her voice softening in volume. Slowly, George leaned in closer to her, allowing their noses to touch gently. Cate’s eyes slowly closed as their lips met in a tender first kiss. Her lips were just as soft as they looked and tasted as sweet as she smelled. It felt perfect to George, not too soon and not too late. Just right.
A/N: Well, whaddya think? I'd really like to know. *hints at the gray box at the bottom of the screen*
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