Chapter 3 : Chapter 3: The Plan
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George had been shocked when he saw Hermione. She was so thin and exhausted. Of course, the last he had seen her wasn’t much comparison since it had been after the final battle at Hogwarts. Even still, the girl was a mere shadow of the Hermione he had known before. After she had disappeared up to Ginny’s room, he and Ron had returned to discussions of the party, but George’s mind just wasn’t on the topic anymore.
As Ron prattled on about arrangement, George thought back to the moment that he had realized he had fallen in love with Hermione Granger. He and Fred had just started the joke shop after leaving Hogwarts. It was just before term started and all the students were coming in to stock up on Skiving Snackboxes or Nose-Bleed Nugats or some other products for the semester. The Weasley’s had come in with Harry and Hermione in tow. As George was moving amongst the shoppers he had spotted Hermione examining the love potions that were on display.
“Got someone special in mind for that ‘Mione?” he asked her as he came over to the display.
Her cheeks flushed pink and she hastily put the vial that she was holding back. “No, I was just looking.” Something about her reaction made George realize something that he had been feeling for a while now. Hermione Granger was no longer just one of his younger brother’s friends and fellow Gryffindor; she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.
The Hermione Granger who had walked through his family’s front door a few minutes ago was not the smart, confident, wonderful witch that he remembered and fell in love with. She was a shattered image. George recognized a similar, but different hurt to his in her dull, haunted eyes. She had lost someone in the war, but instead of losing a sibling and best friend like he had, she had lost her self. As his mother called that lunch was ready George decided that he would make it his mission to help her find it again.
Hermione reached Ginny’s room on the third floor and sat on the extra bed that was pushed up against one wall. She set her bag down beside her as she gazed around the room that was as familiar to her as her own back home. There were the posters of famous Female Quidditch players and family photos posted on the walls. The bed was rumpled and clothes were hanging out of the wardrobe. Papers and parchment were haphazardly strewn across the writing desk crammed in one corner. Hermione shook her head at her friend. Between Ginny and Harry, Hermione cringed to think what their house must look like.
Pushing aside her thoughts she turned and rifled through her bag, pulling out a light, long-sleeved pale green shirt, a faded pair of jeans, and a battered pair of Converse that had literally been through a war and back. Hermione changed her clothes and made an honest attempt at taming her hair into a pony tail before she headed back downstairs.
The other three were already at the table when she came back down. Hermione took the empty seat next to George and surveyed the spread on the table before her. Even for just the four of them, Mrs. Weasley had put out enough sandwiches to feed a small army. Although as Hermione watched Ron and George put them way, she found herself wondering if there would be enough after all. She had forgotten how much the boys ate. She sat there and idly nibbled at half a sandwich while she listened to the conversation going back and forth around the table.
“So Hermione, what have you been up to lately?” George said turning the conversation over to her.
“Uh, not much of interest really. I’ve got a job at Flourish and Blotts. I like it pretty well.”
“Course you do, it’s books,” Ron interjected around a mouthful of sandwich.
“Honestly Ron, how many times have I told you not to talk with your mouthful,” Mrs. Weasley scolded her son.
He swallowed, “Sorry mum.”
“I’ve got my own apartment,” Hermione continued. “It’s a few blocks from the show, but it’s in Muggle London. Other than that I’m afraid there’s not much to tell,” she finished, eating the last bite of the sandwich.
“What about you George? How’s the shop coming along?” Hermione asked wanting to direct the conversation away from her.
A shadow passed over his face before he answered, “Business is pretty brisk, especially with the school year starting up. I expect we’ll be giving Filch a run for his money again this year.” There was a ghost of a smile on his face, but none of the gleeful enthusiasm he used to show whenever he mentioned Hogwart’s strict, rule-loving caretaker. Hermione also wondered at the use of we, but didn’t pursue the topic.
“I’m glad to hear it,” she said, but it sounded forced to her ears. When had just making simple small talk become so difficult? She had never been great at it, but now it was just awful. She really needed to sort out her life.
“I think I’m going to go outside for a while, if you all don’t mind. It’s such a nice day out today,” Hermione said surprising herself. She hardly ever went outside anymore except when she had to, but she had the strongest urge just to go and sit in the sun.
“Of course dear, just watch out for the gnomes in the garden, they’ve taken to wandering out in the fields on occasion,” Mrs. Weasley said.
“Mum, I’m sure that Hermione can handle a couple of gnomes without even thinking about it,” Ron said around another mouthful of food. Hermione gave him a brief smile as his mother turned and glared at him. She excused herself from the table and headed out the kitchen door.
A/N: Hey all my wonderful readers, please leave me a review in that nifty little box down below this. I'm having some issues with this story and feedback is much appreciated! Thanks~Naomi
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