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Chapter 3 : Orange Monkeys and Blue Owls
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When Hermione woke up this morning she didn’t expect that her day would consist of hiding in a cupboard with George, her white jumper with orange monkeys on was tickling George’s bare arms as they hid from the intruders and eavesdropped on their conversation.
For a while neither of them could hear a thing, until they both heard the unmistakable booming sound of Charlie laughing.
‘I can’t believe you’re still running on that broken record’ said Charlie with disbelief.
‘Please you just can’t believe that they still aren’t together’ replied Harry.
‘I told you once I’ll tell you again, if they’re meant to be they’ll do it in their own time, not at your command’ he said.
‘Urgh, I know you’re right but I want them together so badly, why can’t they see how perfect they’d be for each other?’ said Harry.
‘Because my brother and Hermione are special creatures, they don’t notice the obvious things that everyone else does; they’re too wrapped in their own lives’ said Charlie.
‘Fine, I’ll try to stop pushing them’ said Harry, ‘Back to work?’ he added.
‘Yeah’ replied Charlie.
Hermione and George stood as still as bricks for several seconds, each refusing to look at the other and each standing as far away as they could get. Overhearing something like that conversation was not going to be one they’d forget, you can’t just ignore the fact that your friends would like you and the significant other to get involved.
‘Well that was awkward’ said George nervously.
Hermione was having problems speaking, her mouth had gone all dry but she managed to reply with a ‘yeah’.
‘So…’ said George.
‘We should probably leave this cupboard’ said Hermione.
‘Yeah’ replied George.
Neither moved for a further couple of seconds before George finally clasped his fingers around the doorknob and pushed the door open. Light engulfed the two of them and there was now no hiding the red flush that dominated their faces.
‘I erh’ stuttered George.
‘See you at dinner?’ asked Hermione.
‘Oh yeah, take out and a movie right?’ replied George.
‘Yeah but its Harry’s turn to pick so who knows what we’ll be subjected to’ she said.
‘Ok, see you later then’ he said in response.
‘Oh em gee! You are kidding aren’t you?’ inquired Clara.
Hermione moaned her head resting against the table top in anguish, ‘No, it was so embarrassing’.
Clara giggled at her friend’s embarrassment before composing her face to look serious, ‘In light of that conversation though, how do you feel about George?’ she asked.
‘What do you mean by that?’ asked Hermione completely on defence.
‘I just mean you two are awfully close are you sure you’re just friends or do you feel something for him?’ asked Clara.
She watched as Hermione blushed a little, ‘Well?’ she demanded.
‘I do like George’ said Hermione.
‘As a friend or?’ prompted Clara.
‘I like him as a friend, he makes me laugh and we have great opinionated conversations. I love that when we watch a film or if I’m falling asleep he runs his fingers through my hair, strokes my face and tickles my neck. I like that he makes me feel safe and that I can be myself around him’ said Hermione.
Though she didn’t answer Clara’s question exactly, the close friend wasn’t going to be deterred from getting the answer she wanted, ‘How would you feel is George started dating someone?’
‘Angry’ replied Hermione quickly, ‘Sad and hurt’ she added.
‘Why do you think you’d feel like that?’ asked Clara.
‘Because he’d my friend, he should tell me if he’s going to date right, friends before significant others right?’
Clara waited a few more moments not feeling that her friend had finished answering the question.
‘George shouldn’t be with anyone other than me anyway’ whispered Hermione.
‘Why is that’ replied Clara equally as quiet.’
‘Because I love him’ replied Hermione with unshed tears lacing her eyes as she realised what everyone around her already saw.
‘So’ said Clara slowly, ‘what are you going to do about it?’
‘Harry told me time won’t wait forever’ said Hermione.
‘Well then you better get a move on!’ shouted Clara startling Hermione.
‘You can fix my love life all you want’ said Hermione, ‘I’ll only return the favour!’
Realising you loved someone wasn’t like the movies. There were no slow motion running towards your love ones, no heartfelt moments, no big declarations of love and adoration. Yes Hermione had been corner by two close friends into admitting her feelings for George but that didn’t bring her any closer to doing something.
Truthfully she was afraid. It’s always more terrifying when ones feelings were so deep. Hermione couldn’t work out when she started feeling this way towards George. Things had evolved so easily that it they’d moved from friends to something more without really realising it.
Their friendship or relationship was so strong and close that it baffled others. George was a very good looking man it stood to reason that he could get any girl he wanted and there were plenty out there who were blatantly ogling him.
Hermione wasn’t a fool, she knew the friendship she had with George was a good one and she didn’t want to risk losing it by admitting her feelings. Hermione wasn’t naïve, she knew she was valued for being intelligent and for her part in the war but she knew she wasn’t pretty like some of the other girls. She didn’t have an obvious beauty, she wasn’t stunning and she couldn’t be called sexy. She felt that she was passable. The small insecure voice inside her head told her to stop her deluded fantasies for surely someone as great and wonderful as George would never pick such a boring and plain girl.
Somehow George had managed to get himself into a troublesome situation, he wasn’t really sure how it had happened but it had and now he had to deal with the consequences.
One half of Weasley Wizard Wheezes, George knew how attractive he was to the opposite sex. He knew all about the gold diggers out there who just wanted a chance at grabbing his money and he also knew of the deluded girls who thought that being with George was the same as being with Fred – George had no intention of participating in these disgraceful girls fantasies.
George hadn’t been on the dating scene in a long time. After that disastrous encounter with Angelina he’d sworn off girls for a while. It wasn’t that he wasn’t interested in them, it was just that he hadn’t found one worth his time.
Sometimes his mind made up words concerning a very dear friend of his but he brushed them aside totally focused on the fact that she was his friend. He could look and admire her as long as he didn’t make a move; there were plenty of people that would be ready to murder him if he so much as blinked at her the wrong way. No however much he thought of it, it was much better to view the forbidden from afar.
It was all Harry’s fault really, that stupid conversation he’d had with him and then that other conversation that he’d overheard had messed with him mind. He’d begin to imagine things that had once been impossible.
Somehow through all this mumbo jumbo George had managed to find himself sitting opposite one Katie Bell on a date in the Leaky Cauldron. He hadn’t planned on this date, he had generally thought it would just be two friends meeting up for a couple of drinks and talking of old times. He’d been so wrong.
He’d only seen Hermione once; he’d mentioned his drinks with Katie and watched with curiosity when Hermione visibly paled at the mentioned name. George was an observant chap and he noticed with confusion the look of disappointment on Hermione’s face when George mentioned his evening plans.
Four Hours Previously
Hermione sighed as she rearranged items in her store. It had been a quiet morning, Clara wasn’t due to start work till the afternoon and Hermione was bored. Usually she’d have visited George by now but without Clara to watch over the shop she hadn’t been able to.
The door tinkled and Hermione brightened at the prospect of having a customer, until she saw who it was…
Katie Bell strode confidently into the shop her arrogance showing off her truly unpleasant nature. Katie had always been some sort of a bully towards Hermione at Hogwarts. Hermione didn’t know why, perhaps it was Hermione perchance for the rules, her pride and intelligence of perhaps it was just that their personalities rubbed each other up the wrong way. Hermione tried to make the best of things, she was polite and courteous but Katie was relentless in her belittling of Hermione and in the end Hermione stopped trying to be polite and kind.
‘Granger’ she said coldly.
‘Bell, how can I help you today?’ replied Hermione.
Perhaps it was Hermione’s kind attitude that set Katie off because as Hermione finished speaking Katie’s face transformed into a snarl.
‘Oh I’m not here for your tatty clothes; I wouldn’t be caught dead in them. I’m surprised you have any customers at all’ she said.
Hermione sighed, ‘What do you want?’
‘Stay away from George’ she said.
‘Excuse me?’ replied Hermione.
‘I’m going on a date with George tonight, it will be the first of many and I will win. So you better be good at a disappearing act’ she said.
‘What are you talking about George would never go on a date with you’ replied Hermione.
‘No, he would never go on a date with you! Which is why you can’t let go isn’t it, you love him’ mocked Katie.
‘Oh Katie are those insults all you’ve got’ sparred Hermione, not letting on how much Katie’s words had hurt.
‘I’ve always got plenty more Granger, but I think I made my point, stay away from George’ she said.
‘Or what?’ challenged Hermione.
‘Oh Granger you don’t want to know’ she said.
Hermione’s shoulders sank, she felt disappointed and betrayed that George would ever want to date someone like Katie.
‘I can see that stupid brain of yours working Granger, if you don’t believe me come by The Leaky Cauldron at 7, then you’ll see whose really won’ said Katie before leaving the shop.
Hermione sighed, her morning had got considerably worse. Now she had realised that she loved George, the prospect of him seeing Katie hurt all the more. She should have known that she would not be enough for George but that aside she had hoped he would have told her.
The rest of the day passed in a blur, Clara came in at lunch, clearly curious at Hermione’s sullen mood but she did not say anything. She merely let her boss struggle through all she was feeling and knew she would be there when Hermione wanted to talk.
George stopped by in the afternoon, Hermione was both happy and sad to see him. She had hoped that George would tell her it was all a lie and that he wasn’t really going out with Katie but alas fate was not kind to her this time.
‘Hermione!’ he exclaimed while hugging her, ‘No animal print today?’ he questioned.
‘Not yet’ she replied quietly.
George was confused by her quietness but didn’t dwell on it longer than necessary.
‘Guess who I saw today’ said George.
‘I don’t know’ replied Hermione.
George frowned, Hermione didn’t seem happy, ‘Katie, we’re going to the pub later for drinks and a catch up’ he said.
Hermione rolled her eyes, ‘drinks and a catch up’ she mumbled, ‘sure’.
‘What did you say? I missed that’ said George.
‘Oh nothing’ replied Hermione.
‘What’s wrong?’ asked George.
‘Nothing George, I’m sure you and Katie will be very happy together’ whispered Hermione.
‘Hermione, Katie and I we aren’t together, it’s just drinks’ replied George.
‘Yeah, of course’ replied Hermione.
Hermione knew she should be happy for George and that he was only calling it ‘drinks and a catch up’ to spare her feelings but try as she might she couldn’t muster the courage to feel happy for George. George and Katie wouldn’t be a good couple, they would be explosive in a bad way, and the only girl Hermione could see George with was herself.
‘Look I got to get back to the shop, I’ll see you later alright?’ said George.
‘Yeah, see you later’ replied Hermione.
Hermione had promised herself that she wouldn’t go to The Leaky Cauldron, it wouldn’t do her any good, it would only make her more upset and depressed. Yet that’s exactly where she ended up despite her best intentions to stay clear of the place.
She felt that she just had to see them, if she saw George happy then she knew she would have to leave well alone. If George was happy then Hermione could move on knowing that.
She peeked into the pub looking for George, she finally found him on one of those cosy corner tables. Katie was all over him, pawing him like a sickly puppy, it made Hermione’s heart clench painfully, and then she saw George’s face. It was not one of contentment or enjoyment; rather it looked like he was trying not to vomit. It could have just been a trick of the light but Hermione didn’t want to think of it like that. If she could feel even the tiniest bit of hope then she was going to take it.
She left then; she’d seen all she wanted to see.
She was home before Harry but she knew Charlie was around in the house somewhere. She didn’t really care, she changed into a tank top, some shorts and long knee high socks with blue owls on them. She proceeded to the lounge where instead of picking up a book from the shelf, she turned on some music up to full volume.
She began dancing around, arms in the air, singing loudly without a care in the world. Sometimes she felt like music was the best medicine; there was a song for every situation. Dancing around to the music definitely made Hermione feel better and she was so absorbed in dancing that she didn’t realise she had an audience. It wasn’t until she heard someone clapping that she turned around and realised that she wasn’t the only one in the room.
‘Didn’t know you had it in you Granger’ George smirked.
‘George!’ shrieked Hermione.
‘So you broke out the animal print then’ said George.
‘Of course, you know I have to annoy you in some way every day’ replied Hermione.
‘I’d say it’s more amusing than annoying’ said George smiling.
‘You’re back early’ said Hermione, ‘How was it?’ she asked tried not to sound too interested.
‘Not good’ replied George.
‘Oh, how so?’ asked Hermione.
‘We seemed to have got our wires crossed. I thought we were meeting up as friends for a catch up. She thought we were meeting up so she could throw herself at me and see if she could get her gold digging hands on my money’ said George matter-of-factly.
‘So you aren’t dating her?’ asked Hermione.
‘Hell no, what gave you that idea?’ asked George.
Hermione mumbled something that George couldn’t hear, but he summarised what she’d said anyhow.
‘Katie paid you a visit didn’t she’ said George, Hermione nodded.
‘She was never nice to you at school, I always noticed but I would have thought that she would have grown out of those tendencies, apparently I was wrong’ said George.
‘She’s your friend, there is nothing wrong with wanting to see the best in her’ replied Hermione.
‘She’s more an acquaintance than a friend. Besides I’ve got you, I don’t need any more female friends’ said George.
Hermione smiled weakly chastising herself for falling for Katie’s words so quickly.
‘You’re the only girl for me’ said George looking down at Hermione fondly.
Hermione smiled a real smile at George; she just wished he meant something more than a friend when he said those words to her.
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