Chapter 2 : Drink and Responsibility
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Before Hermione even had a chance to sit down on the couch George was already exploring. He was like a rocket or a hyperactive child, running up the stairs, looking in every room, bouncing on the beds, opening the cupboards. Hermione found it quite odd; maybe George hadn’t been in such a house for a long time? Hermione threw her work bag onto the kitchen counter and shouted up the stairs:
“George! I’ve got to go get the kids; I’ll be back in about half an hour, okay?”
George’s muffled reply of yes glided down the stairway. Hermione nodded. She didn’t know whether or not it was safe to leave George on his own in the house but she couldn’t exactly take him with her if he didn’t want to see his family. She resolved herself on this and disapparated.
Landing at the Burrow’s front door she reached out and knocked strongly on the wood. Hermione heard shouts inside and then a flustered looking Molly answered the door, an apron on as she usually did. Hermione smiled, she loved Molly but she so often reminded her of Ron.
“Hello Hermione, Rose and Hugo are just getting their things from upstairs, they’re sure to be down in a jiffy,” Molly grinned, wiping her hands on her apron, “do you want to come in?”
“No, not today Molly, I’ve got work to do and stuff at home and it’s all very hectic so…”
“Oh yes, Arthur told me about the troubles in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Aurors have been catching hundreds of Dark wizards lately haven’t they, your Department just can’t cope,” Molly said, eager to stop Hermione from leaving.
“Well, yes, we are coping but I’ve got a heavy load of paperwork to do and it’s getting a bit on top of me,” Hermione replied.
“Oh come on then dear, at least spare some time for a cup of tea so you can relax, then you can have the rest of the night for paperwork,” Molly grinned, gesturing for Hermione to come into the house.
Hermione didn’t know what to do. George was at her house, a complete mad man, on his own, there was no telling what he would be doing, but she did need a cup of tea and a chat with Molly. Surely George would be okay for a bit longer.
“Okay, I’ll come in, but just one cup of tea!” Hermione laughed and entered.
Rose and Hugo had reached the bottom of the stairs and grinned at Hermione as she came in. They both jumped on to the sofas as Hermione plonked herself down on one of the stools next to the fireplace. The fire was burning bright in the grate. That’s what Hermione loved about the Burrow; it was always nice and warm, homely. She probably preferred it to her own parents’ house really. The only bad thing about it was that it reminded her of Ron, but sometimes that was a good thing, the memories of Ron were the things she had to keep hold of, not forget.
Hermione had stayed at the Burrow for far too long. It was falling dark when she left and in the middle of summer that usually happened at around eight or nine at night. She couldn’t imagine what George had got up to in that time. Hermione grabbed Hugo’s and Rose’s hands and apparated to her house. Before she entered she crouched down in front of her children. She thought it best to tell her kids that there was a strange man in the house before they went in so they wouldn’t freak out.
“Right, Rose and Hugo, I had a problem at work today involving Uncle George, you remember Uncle George?” Hermione asked. Rose nodded but Hugo looked confused.
“Uncle George is your Dad’s older brother. He’s a bit strange at the moment, not like other people, so don’t get scared okay, he’s just ill that’s all. He’s going to be staying in the spare room for five months so he can get back on track, is that okay?” Hermione questioned. Rose and Hugo nodded. Hermione stood. She unlocked the door and stepped inside, letting Rose and Hugo in in front of her. It was clear straight away what George had been up to whilst Hermione had been away that was for sure.
George was laid on the couch completely unconscious, a bottle of empty fire whiskey in his right hand which dangled limply over the side of the sofa. Hermione groaned. Rose giggled. Hugo smiled. Hermione leant down and told her children to go upstairs and get ready for bed and that she would be up in a minute. The children obliged, giggling as they ran off up the stairs. Hermione shook her head.
She walked over and bent down, took the empty bottle from George’s floppy hand and placed it on the table. As she stood up again and ran her eyes along George’s body she noticed George had somehow managed to wet himself, this was quite a problem Hermione realised. He was also snoring very loudly which was rather annoying. She snapped her fingers in front of his face. George didn’t even stir. Hermione decided more noise was necessary, she shouted loudly in George’s ear.
“George, wake up!”
George didn’t stir once again. Hermione saw only one solution. She summoned a jug of water from her kitchen with her wand and chucked it onto George’s face. This worked. His eyes sprung open and he let out a yell of some kind.
“Oh hello George! Welcome back! Enjoy my supply of fire whiskey did you?” Hermione said, slamming the empty jug onto the table. George merely groaned. He was completely comatose, couldn’t even form words.
Hermione decided she’d just have to take charge. She grabbed him and hauled him to his feet so he was leaning on her. Boy he was heavy. Hermione slowly made it to the stairs and heaved him up. She was exhausted by the time she reached the top. Dropping dead was probably a good possibility when she eventually dropped George onto his bed. She couldn’t just leave him like that though. With dirty clothes, a beaten face and wet underwear. Hermione went through to her own room and found an old set of Ron’s pyjamas. George was about the same size so they’d fit perfect. Before Hermione left though she brought the pyjamas to her nose and took a deep breath. She didn’t know why she did it, it was quite an odd thing to do after all, but she felt almost disappointed when she pulled away, the pyjamas did not smell of Ron, merely the wardrobe they were kept in. Hermione went through and dumped the pyjamas on the bed next to George. She then went through to Rose’s room. Rose was already in bed, reading a picture book.
“Rose, have you brushed your teeth?” Hermione asked, picking up cuddly toys from the floor and putting them onto the shelf.
“Yes Mum,” Rose replied nonchalantly, seemingly engrossed in her book.
“Are you really okay with Uncle George staying here?” Hermione asked as she turned round to face her daughter.
“Yeah, I don’t mind him,” Rose said. Hermione nodded and leant forward to kiss Rose on the forehead. Rose didn’t even flinch; she was too busy reading her story. Hermione smiled, wished her goodnight and left the room, closing the door quietly behind her. She then went through to Hugo. He was much more alert and looked up at Hermione as soon as she entered. He grinned. His smile was extremely similar to Ron’s and it made Hermione’s heart flutter every time. She hugged him and kissed him on the cheek then ruffled his head of ginger hair before wishing him goodnight and going back through to George.
George was still laid on the bed when she got through, now totally unconscious and once again snoring quite loudly. Hermione felt like slapping him, he’d have a long lecture the next morning that was for sure. For now though she supposed she’d start off with the top; it was less embarrassing for all parties involved. Plus it gave time for George to come back to consciousness and be able to put his own trousers on, although it probably wasn’t likely. He was out of his head drunk.
George was wearing a brown woollen jumper, most likely one of the ones his mother had knitted him when he was younger. This was also made further obvious as the sleeves were a little short and there were a couple of burn holes in the material, which suggested he’d worn it during his pranking days. Hermione missed that George, the prankster, always bringing laughter to any morbid situation. She guessed that skill died with Fred. Hermione pulled the jumper off George’s head with difficulty; it was almost like undressing an oversized baby. She then pulled off the t-shirt from underneath. It was a plain white one, with what looked to be blood stains. There was a lot Hermione didn’t know about George she realised. Especially when she looked at the torso that had been hidden underneath the t-shirt and jumper. He was incredibly thin, his ribs stuck out and so did his shoulder blades. His arms looked like thick ropes, barely any muscle, and his stomach was very very flat, possibly too flat perhaps. It made Hermione quite sad really. George had once been a strong athletic Beater with a rather robust frame; it was amazing to see the effects lack of food and shelter, drug use and alcohol abuse could make on a body. Hermione pulled Ron’s pyjama top on over George’s head and decided she’d give him a rather large fry up for breakfast the next morning to go with the lecture. It would be Sunday, her weekly day off, so she could make sure George felt at home. Next she had to move on to the bottom half of George. This would be the worst. He’d wet himself and that meant having to change his entire attire down below.
Slowly Hermione pulled off George’s trousers and socks, throwing them straight into the laundry basket in the corner of the rather large room. George was now laid there in wet underwear and a clean pyjama top. She couldn’t leave him like this but she definitely didn’t want to do anything else. She supposed she’d have to. As swiftly as possible she pulled off George’s underwear and put the pyjama trousers on. It hadn’t been that bad really; maybe she had worked herself up too much. Next she rolled the covers back and dragged George backwards so his head was rested on the pillow. He groaned at this but then quickly resumed his loud snoring. Hermione pulled the cover back over George’s thin body and made sure he was nicely wrapped up. She then wished George a silent goodnight, kissed him lightly on the forehead and left, putting out the fire in the fireplace and closing the door on the way out. It was like George was an extra child almost. She felt obligated to help him, and she would.
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