Chapter 5 : Battle of the Minds
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“Hey Hermione, here to pick the kids up?” Ginny grinned, letting them in. She took Hermione’s and George’s coats and led them into the living room. Harry was sat on the sofa digging into a bacon sandwich. He grunted a hello as Hermione and George settled themselves down on the larger couch, a noticeable gap between them.
“Harry, I was meaning to talk to you earlier, I need to speak to you at some point about one of the wizards you caught earlier in the week, can you maybe come by my office tomorrow afternoon?” Hermione asked.
“Yes boss,” Harry smiled, gulping down his food in a noisy fashion and giving her a cheeky salute, “George, how did that interview of yours go yesterday?”
“Well, I got the job,” George smiled, nodding his head.
“Aw, that’s brilliant George!” Ginny grinned, giving her brother a quick hug. Rose and Hugo came bounding down the stairs.
“Mum! Uncle Harry learnt me to ride a broom; I reckon I’ll be a Beater when I’m older, like Uncle George!” Hugo shouted as he jumped to the floor and ran over to them. Hermione gathered him up in her arms and sat him on her knees.
“That’s brilliant Hugo! Remember though that Uncle Harry taught you, he didn’t learnt you, okay? Hermione smiled down at the beaming face of her little boy.
“I used the bat and I hit the ball and I still kept my balance and I never fell off and James and Albus thought I was really good and that I could be like Auntie Ginny when I’m older and be a professional!” Hugo exclaimed excitably. Hermione laughed and George leaned over and messed up his hair.
“I’ll have to teach you a few of my tricks then Hugo if you want to be a Beater?” George laughed.
“Yes! Yes! But first you need to buy me a broom?” Hugo giggled.
“Yes, I think Mummy will buy you a broom in due course,” Hermione smiled.
“No, I want Uncle George to buy me a broom; you don’t know anything about brooms!” Hugo frowned determinedly. Harry burst out laughing, bacon bits flying from his mouth. Hermione’s face turned cold but a smile was clearly trying to reach her lips. George let out a guffaw.
“Looks like he knows you too well,” George grinned.
“Shut up,” Hermione growled.
“Touchy?” George laughed and stood up, clearly ignoring the fact that Hermione was still in a mood with him, “Hey Hugo, I think we could go out today and buy you a broom, what do you think about that?”
“Yes, yes!” Hugo grinned, bouncing from his Mum’s lap and jumping up into George’s arms. He wrapped his arms around the lanky man’s neck and wrapped his podgy legs around George’s middle.
“Looks like you’ve been replaced as favourite Uncle eh Harry?” Ginny smiled, taking Harry’s empty plate and bustling off to the kitchen.
“Looks like it,” Harry sighed.
Hermione landed in the grate and stepped out, wiping the soot from her clothing.
“Ergh, I hate flu powder,” she groaned. George merely laughed and took Rose’s and Hugo’s hands. He set off down the street before Hermione could say another word. She trotted after them as quickly as she could.
“Well, here we are Hugo, come on, let’s go inside and take a look at the brooms,” George smiled as they reached the broom shop window. He picked Hugo up and took him inside. Hermione just caught up as the bell on the door clanged.
“Mum, can we go and see the owls after?” Rose asked, pulling at Hermione’s shirt.
“Yeah, I’m sure we can darling, let’s just get Hugo’s broom first shall we?” Hermione smiled, pulling her into the shop.
The store was light and airy. Quidditch Robes of all kinds, even the Chudley Cannons, hung along one wall and on the other was a collection of the balls used in the sport. Hermione didn’t much care what each was used for. Along the other wall were stacked loads of assorted brooms from infant to adult sized. The whole store reminded Hermione of a ski shop she’d been to with her parents on a skiing trip in France. She hadn’t seen her parents in years. She’d gone to give them their memory back after the defeat of Voldemort but they’d wanted to stay out in Australia so now she never saw them. She could apparate there but usually she was so busy at work she never felt like she needed to, which was bad really.
“So Hugo, do you see one you like?” George asked. Hugo shook his head.
“Well, me and Fred always thought brooms were very like wands, the broom chooses the wizard. My favourite broom would have to be the Comet 360 but it’s different for everyone, the Comet range offers control but the Firebolt range, your Uncle Harry had one of them, they offer speed and agility. The Nimbus range is a bit of both. It’s really up to you but seeing as you’re a little one at the moment I’d go for control so the Comet Junior I think would be perfect for a tyke like you, what do you think?” George explained. Hermione felt a streak of pride. Hearing George explain such a subject so confidently, one that she’d never be able to explain, made her feel proud, not happy because she was still angry with him, but proud. She watched as Hugo nodded and George pulled out the desired broom. He turned and winked at Hermione. She didn’t respond, even if she was proud of George it didn’t mean she was going to suddenly going to forgive him. She wouldn’t let him off in that much of a hurry. George seemed to ignore her nonresponsive attitude though.
“So my little man, that’ll cost you five Galleons, have you got enough pocket money?” George teased Hugo. Hugo frowned.
“No, I only get four Knuts a week and I spend it on Chocolate Frogs.”
“I’m only teasing you, I’m going to pay for it,” George laughed. Hugo’s frown turned upside down. Hermione tapped George on the shoulder as they went up to the counter.
“Do you have enough money for this?” she hissed in his ear. George nodded.
“Left over from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, don’t you worry,” he smiled. Hermione nodded for him to carry on with the transaction. He paid for the broom and the woman at the counter wrapped it in brown paper before handing it to Hugo who grinned happily. George dropped him down to his feet and Hugo ran out of the shop, the bell clanging as he pulled the door open. Hermione, George and Rose chased after him.
Hermione tucked the duvet up so it was wrapped around Hugo’s miniscule frame. He was still grinning from the day’s purchase and was extremely excitable.
“Shh, it’s time to go to sleep, you can have another go on your broom tomorrow morning,” Hermione cooed, stroking Hugo’s hair softly.
“Promise?” Hugo smiled.
“I promise, now close your eyes,” Hermione said. Hugo did as he was told, a smile still recognisable on his lips. Hermione turned off the light and closed the door quietly behind her. Rose was already asleep, she’d conked out ages ago, Hugo had just been a little harder to put down. Hermione went into her own bedroom and quickly got ready for bed. She was so tired she thought she’d fall asleep instantly but there was no such luck, the tears that came every night crept up on her again.
She pressed her face into her pillow, trying to muffle the sound of her sobs. She was used to this but she still found it difficult to stop the tears from falling and the moans from escaping, even after five lonely years. Hermione would kill to have one more night with Ron beside her and she knew crying wasn’t going to bring him back but it was the only thing she could think to do. Usually it would only last half an hour and then she would be too tired to continue and would fall into a restless slumber. She wasn’t unhappy, far from it, she had Harry and Ginny and all her other friends, no, she was definitely not unhappy. She just found it difficult without him, even though he’d been gone almost as long as half the time she’d known him. The five years Ron had been gone felt way longer than the twelve years he’d been with her though. Hermione didn’t even notice the door opening and a figure moving into the room and round the other side of her bed. The tears kept falling and her pillow got wetter and wetter. She only raised her head when she felt arms wrap around her waist. They felt strong and made her feel safe, like he had, like Ron had.
“Ron,” Hermione breathed, opening her eyes.
“No, it’s me, it’s George,” the person whispered. His breath fanned across her neck, his mouth must have been just inches away from her skin. Hermione rolled away and off the bed incredibly quickly, possibly the fastest she had got out of bed in years, her mouth opening wide in shock. George blinked in surprise.
“What are you doing?” Hermione hissed so’s not to wake the kids.
“I wasn’t going to do anything I promise, I just, I heard you crying and I wanted to help,” George explained.
“You scared me! What are you playing at! Get out!”
“Look, what’s your problem with me all of a sudden? I know you caught me with Angelina but what has that got to do with you? I promised I wouldn’t do it again, what more do you want?” George replied, his voice rising in volume slightly.
“Now don’t put this on me as if… as if…”
“As if what Granger?”
“As if I’m the one that’s done something wrong! And I told you, don’t call me Granger!” Hermione stormed.
“What exactly have I done wrong? Just because you’re celibate doesn’t mean everyone else in the world is or should be!”
“You…you arsehole! Just get out, get out now,” Hermione growled, feeling her face flushing. Luckily in the darkness George probably hadn’t noticed.
“I’m not leaving,” George said. Hermione shook her head.
“I’m not getting back into bed then,” Hermione replied.
“Fine, it’s up to you.”
Hermione knew George had won. She didn’t want to go and sleep in the spare room and the only other option was the couch, and she never slept well on the couch. She reluctantly got back into the bed.
“There we go,” George whispered into her neck.
“Don’t touch me.”
“Fine, I’ll just roll over and face away from you,” George replied. Hermione felt his arms leave her waist and the bed squeak as he rolled over. She felt a slight stab of longing to have his arms back around her but she ignored it and pulled the covers up to her neck. Closing her eyes she fell asleep almost instantly. Maybe having George next to her did help after all.
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