Chapter 4 : Red Hippos
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AN: Two separate lines = a change in pov.
She woke to find herself dressed all in white, the dress long, flowing and simple, the veil short and transparent. There were flowers in her hand and a rather handsome man before her, though his face was distorted. They had all come for her wedding reception, she could see her Mother waving happily while clutching a camera and ordering people about. She saw her Father off to the side, talking to the other gentlemen and pretending that he wasn’t as emotional as he felt.
Her Mother insisted that they have photos of all the family members, sorted into height order and all standing sideways. The photos seemed to go on forever, each getting more and more ludicrous, however she didn’t have the heart to tell her Mother off when she was having so much fun.
She turned away from the excitement and the love of her supposed husband and found herself stranded on a broken dock. The only way across to the other side was to swing across by a long rope. The thought of swinging across a sea of water in her wedding dress made her pale considerably, but she suddenly had an overwhelming desire to be reunited with her husband and she knew she’d only get to see him if she was brave enough to swing across.
She screamed loud and shrilly as she swung from one side to the other, the first time she hadn’t swung far enough but the second time she managed to reach the other side and let go before she fell over or plummeted to her death. The land on the other side of the broken dock was different, and she wasn’t entirely sure where she was.
As she moved she passed various people in various levels of distress. There was a man weeping over a box of journals and pictures, a woman whispering sweet nothings to thin air, a child calling for its Mother, and an old man watching with sad eyes as the world past him by and forgot about him. One after the other she encountered people who had lost love or never found it. Her heart felt heavy with the sorrow of these people, she wanted desperately to find her husband, yet he seemed to be nowhere in sight and the air was becoming thick and clouded.
How was she to find her husband in this clouded mess of a place, she called out to him but he didn’t answer. A flash of red here, another flash there, like something was stalking her and she couldn’t help but fear the worst. As she became more distressed, her vision became worse, the fog became thicker and she found she couldn’t breathe.
Falling, falling into the blackness, she screamed his name, begging that he would find her and save her from this destiny, always the flash of red taunting her, mocking her, till the world went black.
Hermione woke up with a start, the bed sheets tangled in up on her legs, sweat dripping from her body. Somebody was banging loudly on her door, banishing her mind from the terror it had just felt.
‘Come in’ she spoke somewhat shakily.
The door opened and Charlie appeared, panting slightly, a look of concern on his face.
‘Blimey Hermione, are you alright?’ he asked, taking long strides to reach her bed quickly.
‘Yeah, I’m fine, why?’ she asked.
‘I heard you scream, really loud, and then it just kept going. I thought something terrible was happening to you, then when I got up here I kept knocking but I couldn’t open the door’ said Charlie.
‘I screamed?’ she sounded confused, ‘Oh, I thought that was just my dream’ she muttered.
‘Dream?’ asked Charlie.
‘Hmm, I had a dream, a nightmare maybe’.
‘Oh’ said Charlie, ‘Do you want to talk about it?’ he asked.
‘No’ replied Hermione quickly.
Charlie smiled, ‘Well I’m here if you change your mind’.
‘Listen’ began Charlie, nervously rubbing his hand on the back of his neck, ‘I heard what happened yesterday with Katie and George, are you alright?’
Hermione sighed, in all honestly she’d forgotten all about that, remembering it only bought back the fact that George’s words meant something different to her than the way he’d said them.
‘I’m ok Charlie’ said Hermione quietly.
Charlie didn’t seem convinced, but he was one of those people who knew when not to push someone, he knew (and Hermione knew) that he’d be there waiting when she was ready to talk.
‘So what animal related clothing are you wearing today?’ he asked in a teasing manor.
She punched him lightly on the arm, ‘Red Hippo arm warmers’ she replied.
Charlie raised his eyebrow mockingly.
‘What?’ she cried, ‘It’s cold out today’.
‘How would you know? You haven’t even gotten out of bed yet’.
‘How do I know? Hello brightest witch of her age’ she responded teasingly.
‘Oh how could I have been so stupid!?’ he exclaimed.
‘Don’t worry Charlie, happens to the best of us’ said Hermione using a singsong voice.
Charlie chuckled (manly), Hermione could brighten up anyone’s day.
‘Now get out’ she said, punching him on the arm.
He pretended to be hurt, ‘What was that for? Why am I being kicked from your room?’ he cried.
‘Because I want a shower and you aren’t staying for that!’ she replied.
‘Fine, I’m going’ said Charlie, leaving her to it.
On his way down the corridor (still chuckling), he bumped into George.
‘What’s made you so happy this morning?’ asked George.
‘Hermione’ replied Charlie.
‘What’s she done?’
‘Kicked me out of her room, apparently I’m not allowed to watch her in the shower’ said Charlie – noting with glee the way George clenched his hands into fists and the colour rose to his face.
‘George, what’s up with your face it’s all red’ said Charlie innocently.
‘What? Oh nothing’ replied George, storming down the corridor with as much noise as possible, mumbling about his angry thoughts as he went.
Oh this could be so much fun thought Charlie, the perfect way to start a day!
So since seeing his brother this morning, George had been over analysing his words for the better part of an hour – his work lay untouched and unfinished on the desk before him. George wasn’t a guy to fall in love, that didn’t mean he didn’t want to fall in love; it just meant that it hadn’t happened yet. Sure he’d had plenty of girlfriends but none of them had ‘lit the spark’ or given him more than just casual fun. He supposed he was that kind of guy, the one that flirted with all the girls and got through them equally as quickly. He was nice about it thought, treated them all with respect and was a one woman guy.
Hermione Granger was an enigma, he’d long since thought that he would never find the one he was destined to be with (or some other such soppy declaration line), Fred always used to say that his time was coming and that he just had to hold on, for when it did happen it was sure to be explosive. Hermione was pushing all his buttons and it was driving him crazy. Though he may have admitted to himself that he did indeed have feeling for the young witch, he was no closer to acting upon those feelings.
That disastrous evening with Katie had proven that much, he’d tried to tell Hermione that she was the only girl for him; he’d hoped that she’d have leaped into his arm upon hearing that declaration and shower him with kisses. However, that evidently didn’t happen. Instead he saw a wash of emotions flit across her face, most importantly crushing disappointment, and then a blushing fake smile.
He supposed that sort of hurt, having her not realise how he meant those words to sound but then they’d never talked about being anything other than friends so perhaps it was a bad move on his part.
Give George a prank, an invention, an idea and he was set. Those were things that came naturally to him, he was well versed in what it took to make, work and complete those things. Wooing and flirting also came naturally, as did burning food. Planning the seduction of his best friend (who he now fancied – madly) wasn’t part of his Curriculum Vite. He was quickly realising that he knew nothing really of matters of the heart, and therefore had no idea on how to woo Hermione.
Any normal wizard would have asked friends or family for help but George wasn’t a normal wizard and he couldn’t stand the looks on Harry and Charlie’s faces if he did actually ask for help. He imagined the conversation would start with ‘We told you so’ and end with some dramatic plan that would undoubtedly go wrong and end up making him look the fool. No, George was in this boat alone, and by Jove; he was going to rock the boat all the way to the shore.
She hadn’t been in to see him, Hermione that is. He suspected she was avoiding him after yesterday, but she always made a point on dropping in on him each day. Well, George was a man of (little) action, if Hermione refused to go to him then he would go to her. Besides he hadn’t visited her shop for a while, and he knew however much he found it annoying, he was actually a little interested to see what animal related clothing she would be wearing today.
Turns out that when he arrived Hermione had seen him coming and hidden in the back room leaving Clara to entertain an annoyed George, George was having none of that and promptly shouted, ‘Not going to show off your animal print for me Granger?!’
Two pieces of rolled up material were thrown at him in response, untangling them he was presented with red hippo printed hand warmers – ridiculous.
‘She’s not going to come out is she?’ George asked Clara.
‘I doubt it’ replied Clara, ‘She been mumbling all day, I caught a few of her words but I honestly didn’t understand’.
‘What did you hear?’ asked George.
‘There was something about a wedding, flashes of red, some very rude comments about your brother, and then a lot of moaning about you and why it had to be her’ said Clara.
George had smirked when Clara mentioned Hermione had been moaning about him, his mind (as any boy’s would) had immediately fallen into the gutter but his smirk had dropped once Clara had finished speaking.
George sighed heavily, picking non-existent flint off his jacket, ‘If you could please let her know that I intend on cooking dinner if she doesn’t come and talk to me by closing time today, I’d be grateful’ said George.
Clara smiled at George’s antics, he really knew Hermione too well, there was no way she would risk his cooking by not talking to him. Chances are, he’d get his conversation well before closing time, as the last time George had attempted to cook; he’d blown up half the kitchen. Clara rolled her eyes at George’s retreating back; dear George and Hermione were certainly leading a merry dance around each other.
Hermione huffed and puffed, she’d tried all day to ignore George’s threat of cooking but it was like a nagging remark in the back of her mind. She was stupid of course to have let a mere dream affect her so much. She couldn’t help herself though; the dream had been too strong, so powerful, that it had kept irritating her all day. Besides, she couldn’t honestly risk the fact that George might actually cook food. She didn’t think the kitchen could last another blast. She liked cooking, she wasn’t forced into it, she actually enjoyed it – besides, and the boys always bought her gifts and presents as thanks for her daily cooking.
So in she walked to George’s shop, ignoring the young children running around and the spelled objects flying around in the air. She knew he’d be out the back in the inventing room; he usually spent all his afternoons there sketching, modelling and rambling to himself. It was the best time for him to get all his anger and annoyance out into something productive.
Hermione’s hair was more wild and untamed than it usually was a sign that she was irritated. Her fingers cracked and twitched as she opened the door into George’s inventing room. It was almost as if he could feel her presence and knew exactly where she was because he turned around almost as soon as she opened the door.
‘Finished ignoring me Granger?’ he smirked, his tone challenging.
‘I wasn’t ignoring you, I was busy’ Hermione huffed.
‘Of course you were dear. I mean your shop has practically been flooded with customers all day’ he mocked.
‘Fine, so perhaps I was avoiding you a little’ she replied.
‘Why? Because of yesterday?’ he asked concerned.
‘Yes and no. I was being silly, I had a dream that scared me’ she mumbled.
‘Is that why Charlie was in your room this morning?’ he asked.
‘Yes’ she replied.
‘You should have come to me, I would have comforted you’ he said.
Hermione said nothing for her chest had turned into knots.
‘I did mean what I said yesterday when I said you were the only girl for me’ whispered George, coming to stand before Hermione and stroking her cheek with his finger.
Hermione blushed brightly before coming to her senses, ‘I’ve got to go’ she said quickly, running from the arms she so longed to hold.
George watched her go with a smile on his face. She may have run but he’d get her yet.
AN: Hermione’s dream is partially based on a dream I had a couple of nights ago. I was happy all day after waking up.
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