Harry heard a knock on the front door. It had been around a month since Hermione and George had had their argument and Hermione was still very upset, she came round often. Harry presumed it would of course be Hermione at the door, round with the kids. He was about to go and answer it when Ginny rushed down the stairs and got there before he could even make a move. He heard the door swing open and it was indeed Hermione’s voice that rang through the house.
“Hi Ginny, I thought I’d pop over, you’re not busy are you?”
“No, no, of course not, come on in!” Ginny ushered. A patter of feet sounded along the corridor and then the door swung open and Hugo ran through so fast Harry barely saw the flash of red hair. Rose followed him, much slower.
“Hello Uncle Harry, how’s your day been?” Rose asked politely, sitting herself in the middle of the floor on the rug. She’d always done that, she’d never wanted to sit on the sofas in the Potter household, always felt more comfortable on the floor.
“My day’s been very good thank you Rose, I had a good time at work and managed to catch a few bad guys,” Harry smiled. He barely noticed Hermione and Ginny enter the room and sit on the other couch.
“Your job sounds so fun!” Rose grinned, rocking back and forwards happily.
“It is! But it’s very dangerous too!” Harry nodded. Rose pondered this then replied.
“Why doesn’t Mum catch the bad guys?”
Harry glanced at Hermione, who was looking at him intently for his answer, then turned back to Rose.
“Well, your Mum is my boss, so she’s in charge of the Department that catches the bad guys but she doesn’t catch the bad guys herself, understand?”
“Yeah, kind of, it’s like bees isn’t it? Mum is the Queen Bee who’s in charge of all the worker bees but she doesn’t work herself, but all the worker bees, like you, do all the work for the Queen Bee, right?” Rose considered aloud.
“Yes, that’s the best way of understanding it,” Harry nodded, impressed by the little girl’s intelligence, clearly she took after Hermione, “anyway, Lily is upstairs Rose, if you want to go up and play?”
“Okay, see you later Uncle Harry, Auntie Ginny,” Rose smiled and stood, nodding at each of the adults in the room and bouncing out, the sound of her feet pounding up the stairs.
“She’s a clever one, I’ll give you that Hermione,” Harry grinned, looking over at Hermione properly for the first time since she’d arrived. He found it difficult meeting her eye nowadays, there always seemed to be an intense sadness there.
“Yes, I guess she must have got that from Ron,” Hermione nodded idly. Ginny frowned at her.
“I’m pretty sure Ron had the intelligence of a flea in comparison to you Hermione,” Ginny said. Hermione shook her head, seemingly returning back from whatever she was thinking about.
“Sorry, I was away with the fairies, thinking,” she smiled.
“It’s okay,” Ginny nodded understandingly, “what were you thinking about?”
“Just things,” Hermione replied.
“I think you should just go and see him Hermione,” Harry said. He didn’t know what had made him say it but seeing the sadness in her eyes and the way she’d been so absent-minded made him want to act. She’d been like this for almost a month, it wasn’t right; he wasn’t going to let her be miserable because of something he’d basically caused. Harry hadn’t checked the case notes before he’d sent Hermione into the interrogation room and he was devastated and distraught when he found out what he had done and what it had led to. He didn’t want anybody unhappy because of the repercussions to his stupid mistake, even if George and Hermione’s argument was about the shop and nothing to do with his mistake.
“What?” Hermione frowned, looking a little shocked.
“I think you should go to Diagon Alley and go to George’s shop and see him, you’re not yourself and I don’t like seeing you like this, the only way I know that will put you out of your misery is to see him,” Harry explained.
“Harry’s right Hermione,” Ginny agreed. Hermione looked between her two friends.
“You expect me to just waltz into his shop and demand for forgiveness?” she exclaimed.
“No, you don’t need to demand anything, you just go and you see him, say hello, I know George, he’ll be missing you too even if he is the most stubborn person alive and won’t admit it,” Ginny said.
“What if I don’t want to see him?” Hermione flailed.
“Don’t lie, of course you want to see him, look, go now, we’ll look after Rose and Hugo until you get back,” Ginny said.
“You want me to go now?”
“Better now than never, I’m not letting you talk yourself out of this, come on, I’ll take you,” Harry stated. He stood and although Hermione attempted to resist Harry he knew she did want to go, she was merely resisting for show. He reached down and took her arm, then, with a crack, they disapparated and landed on the cobbles of Diagon Alley.
The street was still lively, witches and wizards bustling along it even at the evening hour it was. Hermione hadn’t been to the street since her argument with George and now was the first time she’d seen the revamped Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, and she couldn’t deny it looked good. It was just as it had been before, colourful, bright and welcoming. She could see that inside there was a crowd of people, all laughing and chattering away. It was clear that George had succeeded in bringing the shop back to its former glory. Harry looked over at Hermione and noticed her smile.
“See, you’re already smiling, you’re proud, aren’t you?” Harry nudged Hermione shoulder. In response Hermione wrapped her arm round Harry’s and leant her head on his shoulder.
“I have to admit it, yes, this is amazing,” she replied.
“Will we go inside then?” Harry asked.
“You really think this is a good idea?”
“Come on then,” Harry smiled and then they stepped forward, one foot in front of the other. Each step felt like a lifetime to Hermione. She was excited to see George again, but nervous, she had hurt him and she felt guilty. Finally they stepped over the threshold and into the shop.
It was completely packed to the rafters, Hermione and Harry wouldn’t even bother trying to reach any of the products along the walls even if they wanted to. From where they were Harry could see the old classics that the shop had used to sell, the Skiving Snackboxes, the Nosebleed Nuggets and of course the Patented Daydream Charms Harry remembered Hermione being so interested in the first ever time they’d come into the shop in their sixth year. There was also an area full of girls, both young and old, it was the school holidays after all Harry realised, and they were surrounding multiple pink stalls. Harry remembered that from last time and how Fred had forbidden Ginny to go over there because she was “already being chased by about five boys”, he chuckled to himself. Hermione beside him also looked awestruck.
“You know the first time I was in here I had a black eye?” she thought aloud. She was amazed by it all. Along with the old classics she noticed many new products that George must have developed himself over the last month. There were many boxes of what Hermione saw to be called Pressure Pills and Ultra Ugly Chews; they seemed incredibly popular along with the Gordo Gobstoppers. If George forgave her she would have to ask him what each of these did.
“Yeah, I remember that, one of those telescopes had punched you,” Harry laughed. Then he pulled Hermione forward, pushing through the crowd, some people gave them foul stares but most, noticing the scar on Harry’s forehead and Hermione’s bushy brown hair, looked at them in awe, allowing them to go past easily. Soon they had reached the stairs. Harry stood on his tiptoes, looking around for George.
“I can’t see him anywhere,” Harry frowned. Hermione nodded then tapped a girl on the shoulder, she had magenta robes on, which suggested she was a staff member, well, that’s what Hermione hoped. The girl spun round to face her.
“Hello, can you tell me where Mr Weasley is?” Hermione asked politely.
“He’s there,” the girl replied tiredly, pointing over the crowd. Hermione followed her finger and laid eyes on him. He was laughing hysterically with a little boy, crouched and showing the boy a product. Hermione smiled and nodded thank you to the assistant who smiled back and bustled off.
“He’s over there,” Hermione nodded to Harry. Harry found him.
“Will we go across then?” Harry asked. Hermione felt a flutter of butterflies in her stomach, she hadn’t realised until now that she would actually be speaking to him.
“No, not yet,” Hermione said. She watched George for a minute. A man stepped up to him and started speaking. George was grinning and started talking animatedly, his hands waving. He then patted the man on the arm and led him over to the WonderWitch products Harry had seen earlier, holding different ones up. The man shook his head intermittently and then nodded as George held up a thin slender bottle. He ushered the man over to the till and bagged the bottle, handing the bag over to the man. Soon another customer had approached him and George listened to him intently.
“We’re going to have to go over Hermione, he’s not going to come to us in this crowd,” Harry said. Hermione felt the butterflies appear again.
“Harry, I’m not sure this is a good idea, I’m embarrassed,” Hermione said, looking up and focusing on George again. Just as she did so George nodded at the customer he’d been listening too and turned to point at a stand just behind Harry and Hermione. His gaze met hers and the smile was suddenly wiped off his face, his features turning cold. He turned back to the customer and seemed to tell him he’d be back in a moment and then began striding through the crowd towards Harry and Hermione. Hermione felt a bout of nerves wash over her, she suddenly felt very sick. She wanted to run away, she grabbed Harry’s arm and squeezed it just as George stopped in front of them.
“Hello,” George said, cheerier than Hermione had expected.
“Hi George,” Harry replied, smiling.
“What brings you here?” George asked, not looking at Hermione. Hermione felt awkward.
“We just came to have a look at the shop; you seem to have brought it back to its former glory!” Harry grinned.
“Thank you, somebody I know told me that if I didn’t work my damned hardest to get it back to its former glory I would have failed Fred, I had to agree,” George replied. Hermione knew exactly who that person he knew was and she felt a wave of some feeling she couldn’t understand wash over her, a lump caught in her throat.
“Well Fred certainly would have been proud of this,” Harry nodded, “anyway, I’m going to go and check out those Gordo Gobstoppers, if you don’t mind?”
Hermione felt like grabbing Harry by the ear and keeping him there, how dare he leave her alone with George.
“Of course, like I said all those years ago Harry, everything’s on the house for you,” George smiled.
“Not this time George, you’ve got somebody else to thank for all of this this time,” Harry replied and then disappeared into the crowd. George, with nobody else to look to, turned his gaze to Hermione who regarded him reproachfully.
“Hey Granger,” George said, his cheery tone disappearing to be replaced by something much darker.
“Hi George,” she choked back. George’s features were blank, showing no obvious emotion.
“How have you been?” George asked. Hermione decided to play it straight.
“How’s Oliver?” George asked, Hermione couldn’t help but hear the strange edge to George’s tone.
“I haven’t heard from him,” Hermione replied.
The conversation was getting incredibly forced, Hermione rubbed her arm nervously.
“Anyway, it’s nice to see you, and I’ve got to thank you too Hermione, this place would still be an empty dump if it hadn’t been for you,” George suddenly grinned, changing tact. Hermione felt the awkwardness lift slightly. The sudden mood change caught her off guard a little though. It was difficult to really see what George was feeling.
“Well it seems you’ve worked bloody hard over the last month to do all of this,” Hermione smiled in return. She studied George’s face. His eyes were twinkling; his smile was most definitely not forced.
“Only way to keep my mind off you,” George replied dismissively, “come on, I’ll show you the new products.”
George grabbed Hermione’s hand. Hermione felt a tickling at her heart as he did so, confusion too. George led her through the crowd towards the new line of merchandise. They stopped by the Pressure Pills. Harry, who had said he would be at the Gordo Gobstoppers, was nowhere to be seen.
“I was wondering what these do?” Hermione smiled, George had not yet let go of her hand.
“I was thinking of you when I made them actually,” George replied, “I remembered you always got really stressed out during the exams at Hogwarts so I thought I’d come up with some pills that would relieve the pressure, what do you think?”
“Brilliant, they would have been perfect for me,” Hermione nodded. Guilt hit her right in the stomach, clawing at her like a rabid animal. She pushed it away and pulled George over to the Ultra Ugly Chews. She had been expecting George to be angry, cold and possibly aggressive but instead he sounded cheery and joyous, as though Hermione kissing Wood had never happened, and it unnerved Hermione slightly.
“These are just a party trick, give one to somebody and their outside will turn as ugly as their inside is. So, let’s say Rose took one she would remain exactly the same because she’s beautiful inside and out, but if, I don’t know, I can’t use Voldemort because he was an ugly bugger anyway, if let’s say that Bellatrix Lestrange, I know she was ugly too, but if she took one she’d become the ugliest person on this earth,” George explained. Hermione was impressed.
“That’s impressive magic,” she said.
“I remember you saying that the first time you ever came in too.”
“I did?” Hermione frowned, “anyway, what would I turn out to look like if I took one of them.”
“You’ll have to buy one to find out,” George grinned, teasing. He dragged her over to the Gordo Gobstoppers.
“So, last new product, the Gordo Gobstopper,” George explained, “they seem very popular actually. Want to know what they do?”
“Please,” Hermione nodded. She kept her gaze focused on George.
“Well Gordo means fat in Spanish, so, if you suck on one of these Gobstoppers,” George said, picking up one of the gobstoppers and tossing it in the air before catching it deftly, “then you’ll gain twenty stone.”
“Isn’t that a bit dangerous to your health?” Hermione frowned.
“No, not at all, it only lasts for as long as you keep the Gobstopper in your mouth you see,” George explained, “don’t worry, all the products have been tested.”
“I see. What was that product you sold to that man before, the thin slender bottle?” Hermione asked.
“Oh, you saw that did you? That’s a new product as well, actually there are quite a few new WonderWitch products,” George said, a red glow appearing on his face, “you see, the first range of WonderWitch products was slightly flawed because the only experience Fred and I had of girls was Ginny, mum and well, you, but we didn’t know you that well, and neither of us had ever been in love, but now, well now I’m a bit older and, erm…”
George trailed off.
“And now you have a lot more experience?” Hermione asked, saving him from his babbling.
“Yes, exactly. That bottle I sold to that man was a perfume, just a perfume; he needed something for his wife, for her birthday.”
“It, well, it makes her smell more attractive,” George said, the red glow intensifying.
“That’s generally what perfumes are meant to do George,” Hermione pointed out.
“Okay, it makes her feel good about herself too,” George gulped, scanning Hermione’s face for her reaction. His hand had become slightly sweaty in hers. Hermione bit her lip, feeling the lump in her throat form again.
“And who did you think of when you made that product?” Hermione managed. She already knew the answer, it was clear in George’s face, she just needed to hear him say it.
“You,” George admitted, blinking and bowing his head, “I just, ever since I walked into your office all those months ago I thought you were so sad, like you thought yourself worthless, that there was nothing left for you, and I just thought if you were made to feel good about yourself you’d be better, you’d be the happy person I remembered you to be when Ron was alive, so that’s what I’ve tried to do these past few months, make you feel better about yourself. Once I managed that, well, I guess I got a bit emotionally attached to you to say the least. After we argued and I sat down to make these new products you were the only person I could think about, so a lot of these products are based on you, and I thought, if Hermione doesn’t feel good about herself then surely there must be tonnes of girls out there that are exactly the same, so I came up with that perfume, it just felt right.”
Hermione felt tears come to her eyes and escape down her cheeks. She gulped.
“I’m so sorry George, I really didn’t mean to hurt you, I made a massive mistake and I know sorry is only a small word but I mean it, I really mean it, I shouldn’t have ever taken you for granted, you make me so happy,” Hermione choked. George raised his head to look at her. Hermione sniffed.
“I forgive you Hermione,” George said, he sounded as though he too were holding back tears, “but please, never do something like that to me again.”
“I won’t, I promise,” Hermione nodded. Hermione’s eyes met George’s and seeing the twinkle in his eyes she launched herself at him, knocking him backwards slightly. He didn’t fall though. Hermione wrapped her arms round George’s neck and tucked her head in so her eyes were pressed against his jumper, soaking it with her tears. George responded, binding his arms round her body tightly and pressing his face into her hair, letting the familiar smell of her shampoo fill his nose. The sound of customers shouting and laughing around them seemed to drown out and they just stood there, for what felt like hours but was actually only a couple of minutes. Finally they pulled away from each other. Hermione wiped her eyes with the palms of her hands.
“Why have you forgiven me so easily? I don’t understand?” Hermione mumbled.
“I tried to be cold and angry towards you before, but it wasn’t working, I couldn’t keep it up because I knew if I did then there would be more chance of me losing you, so I decided to make amends. I made you angry and you did the first thing that came to your mind, just like I did when you caught me with Angelina,” George explained.
“I guess we’re both a little messed up in the head, aren’t we?” Hermione sighed.
George suddenly grinned, unable to keep a smile off his face. Hermione, seeing his expression, couldn’t help herself, she burst out laughing. Then they both descended into a fit of giggles, George had to steady himself on the shelf to stop himself from doubling over and Hermione felt new tears stream down her face as she clutched at her stomach.
“You know what? The worst thing is that it’s true, we are messed up in the head, totally and utterly messed up,” George managed, trying to get control over himself. Hermione could only nod; she couldn’t speak through the laughter that seemed to have completely taken over her.
Harry appeared out of nowhere, stopping just as he reached George and Hermione.
“I’ve been looking for you everywhere,” Harry panted, clearly exhausted from pushing his way through the crowds, “what are you laughing at?”
“Nothing,” George said, regaining control of himself. Hermione too miraculously managed to put a straight face on, although the giggles were eating away at her, attempting to force their way out again.
“Right,” Harry frowned, eyeing George wearily and then turning back to Hermione, “I think we should go Hermione, Ginny’s waiting at home and we still need to eat dinner.”
“Okay,” Hermione choked, smiling at George. George nodded in acceptance.
“I’ll catch you later Hermione, send you an owl, or I’ll find one of those Muggle telephone things, you have one of them at your house right?” George asked.
“Yeah, do you know my number?”
“Why would I need a number?” George questioned, confused. Hermione felt a smile creep across her face again, Harry next to her attempted to stifle a chuckle.
“Just send an owl George,” Hermione grinned.
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