Chapter 1 : 1 of 1
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This year was different, though. My parents had passed away in the war, leaving me to fend for myself during such emotional, family-based holidays. This year was the first year that I would be spending it without them. Like Harry, I had nowhere else to go but the Burrow, which was always more than welcoming. It had been like a home away from home for years now.
Leaning back against the wall of the kitchen, I watched as Mrs. Weasley hustled around in an effort to finish preparing the meal on schedule. As far as I could tell, the stuffing, brussels sprouts, ham, mashed potatoes, roast vegetables, apple sauce, cranberry sauce and roasted potatoes were finished and we were waiting on the turkey. In any other household this would be considered perfect, being as supper was supposed to be served in a half an hour. However, this wasn’t any other household. This was a house filled with famished redheads who -apparently- hadn’t seen food in a decade. Or two.
"Hermione, dear," Mrs. Weasley began, leaning over to check the turkey for the eighteenth time in the last five minutes. "Do you remember where the storing closet is, just to the left of Ron’s room?"
"Of course," I said, pushing off of the wall and standing up straight. "It’s where you hid Ginny’s broom when you caught her with Harry that one time, remember?"
"Precisely," she laughed, her rosy cheeks and warm smile making that laughter infectious. "It also happens to be the place where I’m always forgetting the candlesticks for the dining room table every single year. Would you do me a favor and just run on up to check if they’re still there? I’d lose my head if it weren’t screwed onto my body."
"Silver or gold?" I asked, already heading for the doorway to the living room.
"Silver," she called out.
I smiled warmly at the Weasley’s and Harry as I passed through the room where they all sat, discussing one thing or another before they were called in for supper. As I climbed up the stairs toward the top level of the house I heard Mrs. Weasley shouting at Charlie to keep his "grubby paws" out of the potatoes until it was on the table. Leave it to Charlie to try to sneak food before his mother saw fit.
Sometimes I forgot how many floors there were in the Burrow. It seemed like forever before I was finally taking that last step onto the top floor. How did Ron do it every single night? Maybe I just needed a little exercise, or perhaps a break from Chocolate Frogs.
The closet was right where I had thought it was. Now that I looked back on it, Mrs. Weasley had been hiding more brooms than just Ginny’s here over the last few years. I could still recall Ron, Harry and even Charlie and Bill getting theirs taken away when they had all been playing chicken -you know, that stupid game where two idiots charge each other and whoever finally comes to his senses first, loses- and none had decided to back out. I’m pretty sure they broke a window on that one. Such dim-wits.
With a slight shake of my head and an amused smile at the thought, I opened the closet and stepped in before letting out a shriek of surprise when a hand reached out to push me aside just before the door shut heavily behind me with a resounding thud.
"Dammit! Now look what you’ve done," a deep voice exclaimed, sounding utterly pissed.
"What?" I asked dumbly, staring at the shadowed man who stood before me, with wide eyes. Why couldn’t this have been the one broom closet in all of Europe to have a blasted window?
"It’s locked," he explained, his tone fierce and accusing, "I’ve been trapped in this bloody closet for hours, and now we’re both stuck. What’d you go and do that for?"
George. It was George. Merlin, I really must be hated by whoever’s sick idea it was to trap me and this specific redhead in a closet together. He was completely unreasonable and had an amazing tendency to make me think of really imaginative hexes which I could use on him to open his eyes to what annoyance really is. Logical people just don’t mix well with those who are so . . . immature and obnoxious.
"Oh yes, I just came strolling up the stairs and thought to myself, ‘Why, Hermione, wouldn’t it be a grand old time to just purposely lock yourself in the one closet which no one in this house would ever possibly wander to, so you’d never get out? Oh! And wouldn’t it just be fantastic if George happened to be in the closet already, so we could just sit there for hours together?’ That’s exactly what happened!" I spat back at him before turning toward the door to make an unbelievably pointless attempt at being loud enough for those below to hear me over the incredibly noisy Christmas chatter.
"It’s no use, you’ll only damage that pretty little hand of yours," George scoffed as I lifted my fist to pound the door in. He moved dejectedly to go sit down on the floor in front of a shelf of various household objects. Those damned candlesticks were probably in there somewhere.
Retracting my hand and throwing a scowl over my shoulder at him, I glanced around the closet. It, at least, wasn’t too small, or even extremely dusty. What more can you asked for, right?
"How did you end up in here anyway?" I asked, crossing my arms over my chest and staring at him with as much distaste as I could summon.
"You mean, besides waiting for a certain scatterbrained brunette to come along and annoy the hell out of me?" he asked, his tone mockingly pleasant.
"Bite me," I quipped, leaning backwards against the door and slowly sinking to the floor.
"With pleasure," he said, tilting his head to the side, "How hard?"
"George," I sighed, shaking my head and rolling my eyes, "Must you?"
He sighed deeply, "I came in here to find a box of stuff that Fred left in here a few months ago. We liked to hide stuff from Mum in this closet, because it was where she hid stuff from us. She never figured it out. Happy now, Hermione?"
How insensitive could I possibly be? This was the first Christmas without his twin, and here I was being an insufferable twit. Sure, half of the time he deserved it, but he hadn’t taken Fred’s death lightly -for good reason- and he needed time to heal.
"I’m so sorry, George," I whispered, a blush creeping up to my cheeks in horror over my mistake.
"I’m fine," he responded automatically, the same way he had whenever someone had asked him how he was doing over the last couple of months.
The closet fell into complete silence for a while. Neither of us saying a word. How long had it been? An hour? Dinner was probably already finished and here I was, afraid to open my mouth again. Having already put my foot in it once, what’s to say I wouldn’t do it again? The last thing I needed was for George to really become upset while we were stuck in here. If that were to happen, I wouldn’t even know where to begin to help him.
I wasn’t exactly emotionally stable myself lately.
"I didn’t mean to make you feel so crappy earlier," he said suddenly, causing my head to jerk up from where I had been staring at the floor in my attempt to count every single grain in the wood. I had gotten to 1,578. "It’s not your fault we’re both stuck in here. It could have happened to anyone."
"It’s okay," I whispered in return, trying to hide how very bewildered I was. "Can I ask you a question, though?"
"Shoot," he said, leaning forward from where he sat as if anticipating something specific.
"Well, why do you think we don’t get along?" I asked, feeling slightly anxious as I summed up the courage to get it all out. "I mean, I’m on good terms with your entire family; yet, with you it’s almost impossible not to fight. Why don’t you like me?"
"That’s ridiculous," he said, chuckling to himself.
More than a little bit peeved by his blatant dismissal, I stood up from the ground and spun around to the door, "It was just a question. You don’t have to be such a git about it. But, that’s just the way it is with you, isn’t it? You have two modes, ‘Mama’s Boy,’ and ‘Total Arse.’ And there’s no middle ground. I’m so tired of it, too. Why can’t you just-"
The air left my lungs as I was spun around so that my back slammed against the door which I had just been facing. My heartbeat pounded ferociously in my ears as George removed his hands from my shoulders and slid them to rest flat against the door on either side of my head.
"I like you a lot, Hermione," he said, his breath tickling my forehead due to his amazing height. "You just don’t make it all that easy on a bloke."
"What do you mean?" I asked, my eyebrows furrowing in confusion.
"You’re intimidating, for the most part. You're also really damn opinionated and far too perfect," he explained, leaning close enough into me that our chests pressed against each other and his leg slid between mine intimately. Had he always been this . . . muscular?
Merlin help me.
Really charming, Hermione. Stop acting like you don’t comprehend the English language!
He pointed to himself with one hand.
He reached out a single finger to draw a heart over the area of my chest just beneath my collarbone.
"You," he finished, brushing back the group of curls which had fallen ungracefully into my face, with the back of his hand. When his fingers skimmed over my cheek in the lightest of caresses, my body felt light.
"You hate me," I said, completely bewildered and all too shocked at his close proximity.
"No, I hate being in the same room as you and not being able to touch you," he said, shaking his head while a smirk pulled at his lips deliciously. When was the last time that I had seen that smirk of his? I didn’t even realize how much I missed his clever, facetious ways until now. It was good to know that Fred didn’t take it with him into death. George deserved to be happy, no matter how completely frustrating he could be sometimes.
"I’ve fancied you since we were in school together," he continued, staring deeply into my eyes and causing my heart to leap into my throat. "I’m just not all that good at emotional bits, you know? That was Fred’s area. He knew how to act around a girl. It's not like you hide the way you feel about me either. We never can find a common ground."
"Please don’t say you’re sorry," George interrupted, dropping his hand from my cheek and letting it join his other one as it ran over my lower back where I was arched into him as if no touch could bring us close enough.
"I wasn’t going to," I whispered, shaking my head and peering up at him from my completely unremarkable height. "I was going to say that I feel the same way."
"No, you don’t," George said, his smile somewhat miserable. "You can hardly stand me. We never stop bickering when we're around each other."
I laughed, pushing myself up slightly and reaching a hand out to pull his head down to my level.
"Well, I’m not going to deny that. But that’s only because we never see eye to eye on anything. That doesn’t mean I don’t like you. It just means our relationship never gets old. I can’t help it that half the time we’re together I want to hex you into oblivion. We argue a lot and I just love seeing you all riled up . . ."
"Right back at you," he grinned roguishly, tilting my head up before crashing his lips down on my own and causing my breath to hitch.
Kissing George was like nothing that I’d ever experienced before. I mean, not that I really had the chance to experience it when the only man I’d ever kissed had been Viktor Krum in my fourth year. Nevertheless, George’s kisses made my stomach drop with a strange anticipation that I had no idea how to interpret. I’d never really lusted after anyone before, and feeling this kind of want was dizzying.
My hands began to wander over his back as one of his hands slipped under my shirt and over my rib cage. His other arm curled under my bottom and lifted me up enough for my legs to wrap around his lean torso. All while his lips persisted against mine hotly, and my own responded with equal fervor. I was beginning to love Christmas Day even more, especially when I felt the ripple of his muscles beneath my fingertips as he pressed me into the door hard enough to free both hands and draw my shirt over my head.
Then suddenly, the door was flung open and George and I toppled backwards. It was a chaotic tangle of limbs. Mine, George’s and -as it turned out- Ron’s. The later who then proceeded to shout, "My eyes!" at the top of his lungs after taking in my current state of undress. This was incredibly inappropriate being as the only part of my body touching him was my back after I had landed flat on top of him when we’d all tumbled to the floor. He hadn’t even seen my front yet, thank Merlin.
Finally seeming to come out of a daze, George released his tight hold on me and did me a favor by shifting his weight off of my body. If it weren’t for modern potions, I’d probably be stuck with massive amounts of bruises for days to come. Helping me to my feet, he let out a disbelieving laugh. I couldn’t blame him for that one.
I stood there for moment, trying to make my mind work properly. Everything was just a jumble of scenes replaying from moments before when I’d been feeling anything but platonically about one of Ron’s older brothers, whom I just happened to find totally immature and wickedly sexy at the same time.
"Here you go," George mumbled, holding out my discarded shirt and bringing my attention back to the fact that I was still standing there in nothing but a bra.
Blushing heavily, I threw it over my head and tucked my hair behind my ears.
"What the bloody hell was that?!" Ron bellowed, gesturing between George and I madly as he rose to his feet. "That’s why you weren’t at dinner?"
"Not entirely," I said, still as red as a tomato, I'm sure. "We were locked in and it just happened."
"Yes. Your mum sent me for candlesticks for the dining room table," I explained. "The door locks automatically, and I didn’t know. George was already stuck."
Why hadn’t Mrs. Weasley realized I was still gone and tried to find me?
"Candlesticks? We already have ‘em on the table. The silver ones," Ron said, looking at me as if I had just grown another head. "They’ve been there since last night."
"What do you mean?" I demanded, not understanding.
"He means that Mum set you up," George said with a sigh, shaking his head and looking toward the ceiling as if cursing the heavens for having such a manipulative mother. "She’s also the one who reminded me this morning of a prank I pulled with Fred last year. We always kept the list of stuff needed to pull it off in the box in the closet. She must have found out about it. She knew I would go looking for it."
Ron scratched the back of his head, looking uncomfortable, "Er, well I should probably go back downstairs and tell ‘em all I found you two. We’re just finishing opening up the presents."
He didn’t give either of us time to respond before he was off and trampling back down the stairs.
"So," George said, looking away from his brother and at me with a crooked smile. "I guess this is one Christmas we won’t be forgetting for a while."
I laughed, stepping into his embrace when he reached for my hips, "You could say that."
"Does this mean we’re good? You’ll give this a shot?" he asked, dropping his forehead down to press against my own.
I didn’t respond at first, just taking the time to scan over his features in the light from the hallway. From the tousled red hair that fell into his face, to the dotting of freckles that decorated his nose adorably. He was everything and more than I could possibly want. How could it have possibly taken a couple of hours in a broom closet to realize that? All those times we had fought . . . it had all been nothing but pent up tension.
"Happy Christmas, George," I smiled softly, nodding my agreement before leaning up on my tip-toes and pressing my lips to his as they turned up jovially in response.
Oh, it was definitely that. A happy Christmas, and so much more. I’d have to remember to thank Mrs. Weasley later.
AN: So, what did you think? Like it, hate it? Be sure to tell me! Feedback=Love. Happy Holidays everybody! By the way, for those of you who have read Non Mihi, Non Tibi, Sed Nobis, this is my first attempt to write one of the twins since I finished that story. ;-) Probably not the last, though.