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Chapter 16 : Chapter 16: Apart
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Hermione walked into the busy Great Hall for breakfast. She smiled and greeted her friends as if everything was normal. It was just over a week since George had left and Hermione had managed to perfect the art of pretending she couldn’t care less whether he was at school at not but it only took a second glance to see the hurt she was really feeling deep down.
“No news on George,” Fred informed her as he had every morning since George left but as usual she neglected to respond though he noticed the slight turn of her lips as if she were about to frown. Conversation picked up as they ate and they talked as if nothing was wrong and no one was missing.
After lessons that day Fred hunted Hermione down. He, Ginny and Harry had all made countless attempts at trying to talk to her about what was happening and everything she was feeling but it was to no avail. Whenever they tried she reacted harshly, angrily or just ignored it completely.
“We need to talk,” he told her seriously.
“About what?” she asked though she was fairly certain she knew.
“About George, Hermione,” he told her.
“I don’t really have anything to say about him,” she said and her voice had turned icy cold. The mere mention of his name brought a new air to her mannerism and he sighed loudly making sure his exasperation was as obvious as possible. Considering how smart Hermione was Fred couldn’t understand why she did stupid things to make things worse for herself.
“Come on, let’s go for a walk,” he said and gave her no option to decline as he took her hand and led her outside. They remained silent for a while and then finally sat out in the grass.
“Talk,” Fred told her softly.
“I don’t know what you want me to say,” Hermione admitted but the edge to her voice had not gone. Fred knew she was sad and that was understandable but he also felt she was angry, not just at George but at the world and everyone in it.
“I know you miss him,” Fred said at the same time she spoke.
“You know I miss him, Fred,” Hermione said at the exact same time and they both laughed a little. “But do you know how much I hate him too? How could he leave? How could he just turn his back and walk away. He told me he loved me and then he just left. What am I supposed to do now? Sit and cry? Go out looking for him? Or just get on with it?”
“I don’t know, Hermione,” he sighed and put an arm around her, pulling her into him.
“See this is why I didn’t want to talk Fred,” she snapped at him and pushed him away quickly. “Because you think you can talk to me, comfort me or whatever but the truth is there is nothing you can say because your twin is a fool and I’m a fool for falling for him.”
“Hermione...” he began.
“Just don’t, Fred,” she said coldly. “There’s nothing you can say.” And Fred knew she was right. He couldn’t defend his twin, as much as he wanted to, his twin was being an idiot and there was no way around it.
“He just didn’t want to hurt Ron,” Fred said and it was a weak argument but it was all he had.
“And you think I did? But I didn’t run away. Because I love George so much I was willing to make it work somehow. We could have talked about it together, talked to Ron, found a way so we could be happy together. He clearly didn’t want that as much as I do,” Hermione said, voice raised.
“Hermione you know that’s not true. He never wanted to hurt you. He wanted to stop you falling for him to protect you. He was hurting himself so he could save you,” Fred told her.
“Is that supposed to be a comfort? Fred, open your eyes. What are you telling me? Because what I got from that is that when he comes back it won’t even matter because he and I can never be more than friends. Well, don’t I feel so much better,” Hermione said.
“Hermione he’s going to come to his senses eventually and realise it can’t go on like this,” Fred told her.
"Come to his senses?" Hermione asked, half-laughing. "If it's taking him this bloody long and he still hasn’t realised he's an idiot then l doubt he ever will. Maybe we are just not meant to be."
"Don't say that," Fred said. "I've never seen George so happy as these last few months where you and him have become so close. So just don't say that because he loves you and you love him," Fred told her.
"I can't just sit here and do nothing, Fred," Hermione snapped. "What does he expect? I know about Ron and the fact he cares so much for his brothers happiness just makes me love him more but... I don't know I just don’t know. What am I supposed to do? I’m angry at him but all I want is for him to walk back in so I know he’s safe," Hermione said.
"Just come out and say it Hermione. Why can't you just openly admit that you miss him so much that it’s killing you? You miss him and until you're back together with him you will never truly be happy!" Fred said exasperatedly. Hermione was only hurting herself with her little act and it was painful for him to watch.
"Why? I'll tell you why. Because if he doesn’t come back or he decides we can’t be together then my whole future will be there in words. And I would never be happy again. I just want to give myself a chance," Hermione told him.
Fred nodded. "He's going to come back," he assured her.
"Who knows?" Hermione said.
"I know. He's George he would never stay away," Fred told her.
"Well, I thought I knew things too but the truth is I didn’t think he would ever leave. But he did that," Hermione said and stood. “Great talking to you Fred,” she said sarcastically and glared at him.
"Just stop pretending you don’t care," Fred told her. "You're only going to make it harder on yourself."
"Who says I’m pretending," Hermione said and began walking away leaving Fred sat alone. “Maybe I stopped caring when he did, when he didn’t care enough to stick around.”
Fred groaned as she disappeared. That wasn’t what he wanted. He didn’t want to argue with Hermione, he didn’t want her to feel anymore alone or isolated than she was already. For God’s sake the girl was basically his sister he only wanted her to open up, to know that she could talk to him. But he had taken everything she said too personally, he was too quick to jump to defend his twin when he really couldn’t. He felt a sudden rush of resentment for his twin for leaving her and for leaving him.
“Idiot,” he muttered under his breath as he walked back up to the castle. After dinner he entered the Common Room and found Hermione sat in front of the fire, looking lost and distant.
He sat beside her and covered her hand with his own. “I’m sorry about earlier Hermione.”
She looked up at him with a small smile, “You don’t have to apologise. It was my fault. I just...”
“It wasn’t you. It was me. I don’t want you to feel like you’re alone and you can’t talk to anyone. I want you to know that I miss him too and you can talk to me. The point of earlier wasn’t supposed to be so I could tell you you’re wrong for feeling the way you do because you’re not and really I wasn’t trying to comfort you either. I just think you have to open up to someone because bottling it all up is just making it worse for you,” he told her sincerely.
“Thanks,” she murmured and rested her head on his shoulder. “I appreciate it.”
“Don’t mention it,” he said and they sat in silence for a moment.
“I miss him so much. I love him but...I don’t know what to expect when he comes back and I’m scared to think I will have to continue my life around him and not be able to be with him,” Hermione admitted.
Fred nodded but didn’t speak. Neither of them moved or spoke for a while they just sat, feeling each other’s pain and hurt and wishing he would just walk back in.
“I know where he is,” Fred said finally.
“What?” Hermione asked. “How?”
“George would never be able to face a relative about this and if he did then I guarantee they would have told everyone by now but there’s one person outside of our family that we would trust with anything. And I wrote to him when George left to ask if he knew anything but he never replied. I know Lee. For something this serious he would have written back straight away asking what had happened so the only reason he wouldn’t would be...”
“If he already knew that George was okay,” Hermione pieced together.
“Exactly,” Fred nodded.
“So what are you going to do?” Hermione asked.
“I don’t know,” Fred sighed. “I don’t know if I should go and talk to him or if I just need to give him some time.”
“I...” Hermione considered what to say carefully and frowned. “I think that maybe you need to just leave him. He wanted to get away for a bit, he’ll come back when he’s ready.”
Fred sighed and nodded. He knew she was right and he had agreed with her but he just wanted to drag his twin back to Hogwarts and sort everything out. They had never been apart for so long.
Ron watched Fred and Hermione, frowning to himself. He had been listening carefully to their conversation and considered the revelation of where George was. He knew why his brother had left but he tried not to think about it. He didn’t know how he should feel about the situation and so he tried not to feel anything about it at all but he felt a distant guilt and responsibility for what was happening.
Fred and Hermione spent the rest of the evening there, rarely speaking just sitting, watching the flames and contemplating everything going on. None of it even seemed real. Hermione had to cling to the memory of her and George’s kiss afraid that it would leave her too. Hermione had never been a girl whose entire life depended on a boy and she still wasn’t but in this case that boy was George Weasley. And she didn’t just have a school girl crush or mild obsession with the way he looked. She was in love with him.
George sat in Lee’s living room feeling lost and distracted. All he could do was think about Hermione, he missed her so much. He wasn’t doing well at trying to stop loving her and he now realised it was impossible. He would always love her and it wouldn’t change.
“Want to talk?” Lee asked.
“If you don’t mind,” George said as his friend flopped down beside him.
“You have to go back,” Lee told him bluntly.
“I’m not ready yet,” he sighed and looked away. “I want to be with her more than anything but no matter what I do it just seems there’s no way around the Ron problem.”
“Have you thought about just talking to him?” Lee asked and was unsure whether this simple sounding idea would just be ridiculed.
“Yeah, because that would be just great. Hey Ron, would it be okay if I go out with the love of your life who broke your heart?” George said sarcastically.
“Well I wouldn’t phrase it like that,” Lee grinned and they both laughed.
“What would you say?” George asked.
“Um...I don’t know...something along the lines of: Ron you’re my brother and I love you. I would never want to hurt you, which is why I left in the first place, but I love Hermione. Before I can be with her I need to know how you would feel about it,” Lee said. “Or something like that I don’t know.”
“When you say it like that you make it seem easy,” George chuckled. “But what would he say?”
“It doesn’t matter what he’d say,” Lee told him. “Because you’ve done your part as a brother, you cared for his happiness and really it should be his turn to care about yours.”
“That’s not what I want though. I don’t want to say he should just let me be happy because I would do the same,” George explained. “And I don’t see him ever saying it would be okay with him because he loves her just as much as I do.
“He had his chance, George,” Lee reminded him. “It’s your turn now.”
“You’ve got to go back George,” Lee said and disappeared into his own room. He couldn’t help being fed up with George because he was stopping himself from being happy, he was stopping Hermione from being happy and in the mean time Ron still wasn’t happy.
“You’ve got to go back,” he called through the door and George sighed. It was the third time Lee had said that in a single day. He wanted to go back more than anything. But he couldn’t. He wasn’t ready.
Hope you enjoyed the chapter! I promise I will update again soon and I know I always say that but this time it's actually going to happen! What did you think? Drop me a review please, I love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading! Jenna :)
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