Chapter 15 : Chapter 15: Almost
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George stepped onto the stairs leading to the girls’ dormitories cautiously. He was unsure whether it would activate the slide or not and was thankful when it didn’t. He proceeded to run up the stairs and paused outside the seventh year dormitory. He knocked slowly.
“Come in,” Hermione called.
He entered the room hesitantly and attempted a smile at Hermione whose eyes narrowed at him.
“How was your date?” she spat though she maintained a manner of calmness.
“Hermione...” George began though not entirely sure what he would say.
“Why lie to me? Why not just tell me you were going out with her?” Hermione questioned him.
“Did you feel sorry for me? Is that it? Did you think ‘oh Hermione is going to be pathetic and alone so I can’t tell her I’d rather spend time with Jane’?” Hermione asked with accusation in her voice.
“No,” George said shaking his head. “Hermione, that’s not it at all.”
“What is it then, George? Because to be honest I just don’t understand,” she told him exasperatedly.
"I just...listen, I did... I really did want to go out with you today," George told her.
"Really? Because that's not what it seemed like to me," Hermione said.
"Well, I did... but I couldn't...I couldn't...I..." George didn't have a story to tell her he only had the truth and he definitely didn't want to tell her that. As if reading his mind Hermione spoke.
"If you aren't going to tell me the truth then you can leave right now," she told him staring at him trying to decipher what he was doing.
"I- I'll tell you the truth but you can't...I mean....just..." George continued to stutter and stumble over his words.
"George," Hermione said her voice softer now as she watched him. "Just tell me."
"I just couldn't go out with you on Valentine's Day...because- well, because of Ron. Because I can't hurt him," George told her.
"But it was just as friends..." Hermione said unsurely and wondered suddenly if George felt the same way she did. Her heart skipped a beat as she awaited his words.
"But he wouldn't have seen it that way. When he saw the Daily Prophet article I thought he was going to kill me. He must always see us together, not realising it's completely innocent, and feel so rejected and betrayed and like he's not good enough. I wasn't going to let him feel like that today," George told her seriously though it was not the full truth.
Somehow tears had filled Hermione's eyes, "I never thought of it that way... he must feel horrible..." Hermione had hoped that maybe he would say he liked her and that was what he meant when he said he didn’t want to hurt Ron but what he had said made more sense. And it was true and sincere and so sweet and considerate of him that she felt herself falling even deeper in love with him.
"Yeah...and I knew if he saw me with Jane it would make him feel better to know you and I aren't together," he explained further. ‘Liar. Liar. She trusts you and you’re lying to her. Well, I can’t tell her the truth. It would never work.’
"I understand," Hermione told him.
"I never wanted to hurt you, Hermione. I just didn't want to hurt Ron either," George told her.
"You're a good brother," Hermione smiled at him.
"I try to be," he said.
"You can sit down now, if you want. I won't throw you out."
"Promise?" he chuckled as he sat beside her on the bed.
"Promise," she smiled. They sat for a moment in silence, George in relief that she had forgiven him even without the entire truth.
"You must be excited for the wedding?" Hermione said after a while.
"I really am. I'm going to be the best ‘best man’ there's ever been," George grinned though in the back of his mind the mere mention of his twin’s wedding reminded him that he needed to apologise to his twin. He couldn’t stand it when they fought.
"I have no doubts there," she said.
"It's weird though. We've been through everything together and now I'm just watching him go through the next phase," George said.
"But you will be going through this with him, that's why you're his Best Man you get to personally be there with him," Hermione told him. "It might be a new stage in his life but it's clear you're still going to be part of it."
"I know, I just...I expected us to do everything together and at the same time but that's not the way it works," George said.
"I know what you mean but don't worry when it's your turn to stand at the altar Fred will be right there with you," Hermione said.
"Yeah...now I just need a girl to stand next to me at the altar," he sighed.
"I thought you said you found your perfect girl?" Hermione asked.
"I did but it's complicated. I can never be with her," George said.
"Why?" Hermione asked, curiosity getting the better of her. Though her heart felt heavy at the thought of George and a girl that wasn't her.
"Because... never mind. It doesn't matter," he said trying to brush off the subject.
"Okay," Hermione said but somehow couldn’t just let it go. "Do I know her?"
"Yes," George said and looked away, unsure why he was answering these questions.
"It's not Jane, is it?"
"Please tell me you're joking," George said slightly insulted. "Of course it's not her."
"Why won't you tell me who it is?" Hermione asked.
"I can't," he mumbled and turned back to her realising how close they were sitting.
"You really can trust me. I swear I would never tell anyone," she told him.
"Hermione I would trust you with my life. Trust is not the issue here," he reassured her.
"Then what is?" She asked and looked up at him through her long, dark lashes and bit her lip.
George slowly leant towards her and her eyes widened as he did. He paused with less than a centimetre between their lips feeling the warmth of her breath before his eyes closed, “this is,” he murmured and his lips met hers. Their lips moved against each other and Hermione's hands found her way to his hair as he placed his on her back. There was so much passion in the kiss and she couldn't help but smile against his lips causing him to do the same. Every inch of their bodies was touched by the single kiss, electricity ran through their veins and they melted into each other.
They pulled apart and smiled at each other.
"Wow," Hermione breathed unable to stop smiling. "So..."
George grinned at her loving the faint dust of pink on her face. “You’re perfect,” he whispered to her and he moved a large hand round and rested it on the side of her face, admiring her. She blushed and moved her head to the side slightly to watch him as he watched her.
Slowly George’s mind caught up with his actions and his smile shrunk, twisting into a grimace. He drew his hand back swiftly as if she had burnt him.
"No..." he breathed and shook his head repeating the word in a whisper, "No. No. No. I'm sorry. I’m so sorry. I can’t...I...That was a mistake."
"A mistake?" Hermione asked in hurt and confusion.
"I can't do this," George said. "I'm sorry." He repeated and stood backing away slowly. He looked at her for a moment a lump forming in his throat and tears beginning to fill his eyes before he ran from the room and into the common room.
Hermione followed him quickly. "George, wait!"
"I-I can't. I'm sorry," he said as he looked to her and backed up towards the portrait hole. The busy common room fell silent.
"George?" Fred asked standing quickly.
"George please," she begged. "I don't understand."
"I can't do this to Ron, Hermione. I can't," he told her.
"Where are you going?" She asked desperately.
"I don't know. Away. Away from here. Away from you. I need to sort out my head," he said about to step out of the portrait hole.
"Wait! George! Please!" She called. "George I...I love you," she screamed at him with desperation in her voice.
George stared at her in shock. He crossed the common room quickly to stand in front of her. He took both of her hands in his own and stared deep into her eyes. Sadness controlled every single feature on his handsome face.
"I love you too," he told her, his voice trembling. "But I love Ron as well and I won't hurt him just so I can be happy."
"George, what are you doing?" Fred asked staring at him in confusion. “Just wait we can talk, we’ll sort whatever it is out.”
"I'm sorry. I can't stay here," he breathed and turned from them leaving the room.
Tears streamed down Hermione's face as she watched him go. She chased after him, Fred beside her but the stairs moved before they got there. They ran to the nearest staircase trying to get to him and continued to run aimlessly before realising it was no use. He was gone and they had no idea where.
Hermione and Fred looked at each other. Fred took in her tearstained face and she noticed his own eyes had filled with tears.
“The map,” he murmured to himself before repeating, “The map!” Fred took off back up the stairs into the Common room.
“Harry, where’s the map?” he asked desperately.
“It’s in my trunk,” Harry said.
“Cheers,” Fred called already half way up the stairs followed closely by Hermione. They rifled through his trunk until they came across it. “I solemnly swear I’m up to no good,” he said tapping the parchment with his wand.
They watched intently, searching for his dot but after what felt like hours their hearts sank as they realised it was not there.
“He’s not in the school grounds,” Hermione said slowly.
“The Room of Requirement...he could be...” Fred started.
“Let’s go,” Hermione decided and they took off again. They ran through the common room indifferent to the calls from their friends.
They paced back and forth before the room and after a while the door appeared. Sadly the room was empty.
“He’s gone. He’s not here,” Fred said panic and worry in his voice as he held his face in his hands.
“Where would he go?” Hermione asked tears filling her eyes once more.
“I don’t know,” he said shaking his head and placing his hands on top of his head in a helpless gesture.
“What are we going to do? We need to...we need to go and look for him and tell the teachers and...” Hermione said unable to concentrate.
“First thing we write to my parents, then we tell McGonagall and we’ll go from there,” Fred said trying to think logically.
“Okay. Let’s go,” Hermione said and nodded slowly starting towards the Owlery.
“What’s he doing?” Fred yelled in frustration, his hands raking through his hair before he rubbed his face, chewing the side of his thumb.
“It’s my fault,” Hermione said and shook her head. “I never realised...I never thought...I just...”
“You love him,” Fred said. “That’s not a bad thing and this isn’t your fault. It’s George being all messed up. He feels so guilty about Ron.”
“So do I. But we could have talked about it...why would he just walk away? I told him I loved him, he said he loved me and then he just left.” Fred glanced at her with sympathetic eyes but said no more.
After writing to the Weasley household and informing McGonagall, Fred and Hermione returned to the Common room.
“Any news?” Ginny asked quickly as they came in.
“No. Nobody has heard from him at all, nobody has seen him and nobody knows where he’s gone,” Fred said.
“Are you guys okay?” Angelina asked.
“No,” Fred sighed and fell into the chair beside her allowing her arms to wrap around him as he laid his head on her shoulder.
“Hermione?” Harry asked softly.
“I’m fine,” she said abruptly. “Life goes on, right? He left, that was his choice. Doesn’t mean I’m going to breakdown and cry until he comes back.”
Nobody seemed to have a response to this. They stared at her in silence for a few moments.
“Anyways, I have a potions essay to finish. I’ll be in the library,” Hermione smiled and waved goodbye to the group.
The group of friends exchanged glances all unsure what to think. “It’s all a front,” Ginny said after a while. “She’s really hurt.”
“I would be if I were her too. Just being me I’m hurt,” Fred admitted. “He shouldn’t have just walked away. Not from her and not from me.” Fred didn’t know what to do. He and George were impossibly close, any problems either had they went to each other with and they’d work through it. But he didn’t bother to ask him this time. He didn’t even stop to think. He just left.
George had no idea what he was doing or where he was going. All he knew was that he had started to panic and then his instincts had told him to run. Now he was stood in the middle of Hogsmeade with no specific destination in mind.
He knew he had to clear his head and sort himself out before he went back but he needed somewhere to stay to do so. He couldn’t go to the Burrow because he could not face explaining himself to his parents but it suddenly struck him that there was someone else who was not a relative and was not currently at Hogwarts that he would trust and he could talk to and stay with.
He entered the store anxiously, it was closed but being part owner of it meant the door knew to allow him in. He walked up the stairs to where the apartment was and paused outside door. He sighed and knocked. There were footsteps and then the door opened and he was greeted by a friendly familiar face. The twins had allowed Lee to move into the apartment above Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes after the war when they decided they wanted to live with their family again.
“George, what are you doing here?” Lee asked as he ushered him in.
“I...” George hesitated. He sighed and ran his hands through his hair, pushing it back. He bit down hard on his bottom lip.
Lee noticed his eyes fill with tears and though none escaped it was clear to see. “Come sit down,” he said and pulled him into the living room, sitting beside him on the sofa. “What’s going on?”
“I fell for her, Lee,” George said and groaned. He held his face in his hands. “I fell for her hard. But then when I realised how heartbroken Ron was I knew that I could never be with her. But then she fell for me too and it felt so amazing in the few minutes it lasted but then it felt horrible. I couldn’t handle it...I couldn’t do it to my own brother so I just left...” George told him.
“Okay. I need to hear the full story. What happened?” Lee asked trying to get a better understanding of the situation. George started with his new feelings for her and went on to explain everything from Christmas Eve to the night Ron had hit her and then the events of the day.
Lee sat for a while in silence. “Running away wasn’t the solution,” he said finally.
“I need to clear my head. Just for a little bit. Could I stay here?” he asked.
“Of course but...” Lee began.
“I know you probably don’t understand why I’m acting this way. But I just don’t know what to do. And you can tell me what you think is right but in the end I have to decide this on my own,” George told him.
Lee nodded. “Just take as long as you need I guess. But don’t you think you should write to them and let them know you’re okay?”
“No it will be fine. Please you can’t tell anyone I’m here, alright?” George said.
“I um...okay...” Lee said unsurely.
“I promise,” Lee sighed.
Moments later an owl tapped at the window. Lee allowed it in and read the letter aloud.
How are you? Something happened up at the school and George left. It’s a long story but when I get a chance I will explain. Nobody knows where he is but we are all really worried about him. Please if you hear from him or if you have any ideas of where you think he would go then let me know.
George hardly moved, “Please don’t say anything.”
“This isn’t right, George,” Lee said and shook his head before leaving the room.
George sighed. He couldn’t get her out of his head. Her long brown curls, deep caramel eyes, flawless skin, thick eyelashes and soft pink lips that had felt so good against his. He kicked himself mentally, the whole reason he was there was to get over her and this wasn’t a good start.
He wondered for a moment about his situation. If there was someone you really loved, with all of your heart could you ever really stop loving them? Because from what he was feeling if you ever loved someone you always will.
What was he going to do?
Alright so be honest, how many of you really just hate me after that chapter? If I'm honest I think I hate myself. Why do I have to be so cruel? Why won't I just let them be happy? I must be very twisted to do this to all of you lovely readers. Please review and let me know what you thought. I really appreciate all feedback, even just a word. Thanks for reading and sticking with the story even though I'm rubbish with updates!
Thanks again for reading and just go ahead and feed Steve the review box for me. He's starving! Jenna :)
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