They got to the Great Hall and sat down opposite Fred and George who were already there. They smiled innocently at Hermione who gave them both disapproving looks and they then showed her the thumbs up. Hermione shook her head at them but couldn’t help a smile they laughed and winked at her knowing she wasn’t angry but worried.
George glanced at his watch and began counting down from ten. Fred joined him but everyone else seemed confused.
“When I bought that watch I didn’t intend for you to use it for evil like this,” Hermione said between seven and six.
“Mischief not evil,” George said stopping counting for a couple of numbers before joining his twin again.
As they got to zero they grinned. “Transfigured now when does she get here?” Fred asked.
“Harry do you have the map on you?” asked George.
Harry looked at Hermione and the twins followed his eyes.
“Hermione give us the map please,” Fred said sweetly.
Hermione gave them the parchment.
They tapped it under the table and searched for Umbridge’s dot which they found was racing towards the Great Hall.
“Now!” the twins said in unison quiet so only their small group could hear and a massive lion bounded in.
It headed straight for the teachers table; the screams around them seemed not to bother it at all. Countless students raised their wands and threw random spells at the lion causing it to fly about the hall slamming into walls. McGonagall was the first teacher to act and wand raised she yelled ‘stupefy.’ The lion was thrown back with a thud but seemed to recover quicker due to its strength. It leapt up again and then Flitwick had his turn.
“Petrificus Totalus,” he squeaked. The lion froze and fell to the floor.
“Dear God,” McGonagall said approaching the animal. “How does a lion get into the castle?”
“It wasn’t me,” said Professor Sprout as if this was helpful.
Heads across the hall turned to Hagrid who they knew had a liking for strange pets and creatures. “It weren’t me I can tell you that,” he said indignantly.
“Hold on, this isn’t a real lion,” McGonagall announced.
“Not a real lion Minerva?” Snape inquired.
“A transfiguration charm has been used here. A very advanced transfiguration charm,” McGonagall stated.
“Ah I expect this is the work of those Weasley boys- always have tricks like these up their sleeves,” Snape said bitterly.
The twins’ pretended to be lost and acted very much affronted by Snape’s words.
“Severus when I say advanced I mean I can just about manage it, it’s just not possible for the twins’ to have accomplished this. Either way there would be no way for a student to gain knowledge of such a charm,” McGonagall told him sternly though as she spoke her eyes flickered towards Hermione.
Hermione felt a wave of guilt wash over her. McGonagall had trusted her and she’d taken advantage of it.
“Can you reverse the charm?” asked Snape.
“You underestimate me Severus?” McGonagall challenged.
“No I was merely assuring the fact. Who is it or what is it that has been transfigured?”
“I don’t know yet all I see is a lion can you see anything else?” McGonagall hissed. Clearly Snape’s comments were especially irritating to her at the moment.
“Shall we complete the reversal charm?” Snape asked ignoring her previous snap.
“We shall do nothing. I will complete the reversal charm. Now stand back I haven’t done anything this severe in a while,” McGonagall instructed.
Students stood on the benches to watch McGonagall at work and see the lion transform. They gasped as a bright gold spark shot from the tip of McGonagall’s wand to the lion in front of her which rose from the ground slightly, hovering above the floor. Slowly it’s features began to morph into new shapes. Several silent minutes later it became obvious who it was and then a little while later Umbridge was back fully.
“Who did it?” were the first words out of her mouth as she scrambled to her feet glaring around the hall at all the students.
“I don’t believe it could have been a student. None of them would have knowledge of that type of charm nor have the advanced skill to complete it,” McGonagall explained.
“Well who else do you expect it was Minerva?” she spat. “Hmm...Who? Of course it was one of these little brats- probably one of the Gryffindor lot out for revenge after I took away their beloved Dumbledore.”
“That is quite enough Dolores. You do not insult my house or place blame on them that you have absolutely no clue or proof about. I don’t know if it’s a side effect of the spell but you seem more arrogant than usual,” McGonagall snapped. “Now get yourself to the hospital wing to be checked out and don’t point your filthy, fat fingers in the wrong direction or I’ll have you back as that lion in seconds. Then again maybe a rat or toad would be more fitting,” McGonagall said with a glare and upmost pride as she strode out of the Great Hall.
The other teachers restored calm and sat back at their table. Umbridge remained where she was looking stunned beyond belief.
“Hey Professor,” George called out to her.
“What?” she demanded.
“Honestly I just wanted to make sure you were okay,” George said innocently but then a wicked grin spread across his face.
“Yeah because you just got seriously burned,” Fred said loudly earning a roar of laughter from everyone but the Slytherins’.
“Oh and Professor,” George said, “You dropped something on the floor...your dignity and pride.” Another roar of laughter erupted.
“Don’t be silly Georgie! What could she possibly have to be proud of?” Fred asked loudly earning yet more laughter.
“Let’s go, it stinks of evil, old toad in here,” George said as he, Fred, Hermione, Harry, Ron, Lee, Dean, Seamus, Neville, Angelina and Alicia left in fits of laughter.
“I have to say that was your best yet,” came a voice in the corridor.
“Professor we- I mean what do you mean?” Fred asked trying to be innocent.
“I’m aware it was you and I’m aware of how you got the information,” McGonagall said glancing at Hermione.
“Professor Hermione didn’t have anything to do with it. I took the book from her bag and I...” George started.
“Mr. Weasley Miss Granger is not in trouble for her actions and neither are yourself or you Mr. Weasley,” she said glancing at Fred. “I believe in action and taking a stand so I’m proud. Also that was some outstanding magic I have to say I’m extremely impressed. I’m awarding thirty points to Gryffindor for a well thought out plan, impressive transfiguration skills and a very funny performance. Now off to the Common room all of you,” she said with a smile as she disappeared around the corner.
“Did she just...”
“...Award us points for...”
“...Transfiguring the new head teacher....”
“...into a lion?” asked Fred and George between themselves.
“She wasn’t even angry...” Hermione said disbelievingly.
“I know right? Talk about a major personality change,” George said.
“You’re all insane. You missed the big picture,” Lee said to them earning him quizzical looks. “McGonagall smiled,” he laughed and everyone joined in.
“Hermione good to know we can count on you,” Fred said. And everyone turned to look at her.
“What did you do?” asked Harry arching an eyebrow at his friend.
“I got Fred and George a book from the library,” she shrugged.
“Nu-uh Hermione don’t sell yourself short. Hermione lied to McGonagall to get a dangerous book from the restricted section of the library and then hand delivered us the book that pieced the entire plan together,” George said with a grin enjoying the look on Hermione’s face which was between horror and embarrassment.
“Hermione I thought you were a sweet, innocent, trusted student,” Lee said playing along.
“Mistrusted Lee,” Fred said shaking his head at Hermione.
“Leave the poor girl alone,” said Angelina.
“Whatever do you mean darling?” asked Fred slipping his arm round her waist.
“She helped you out don’t push your luck by teasing her or next time she won’t be so kind,” Angelina told him.
“Teasing her?” George asked incredulously. “Whenever have we done such a thing to our dear Hermione?”
“Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week,” Hermione answered.
“Fair enough,” Fred shrugged.
They walked back up to the Common room.
“Hey, remember...” Fred began swapping his voice to Snape’s cold, sneering voice. “I expect it was those Weasley boys’ always have tricks like this up their sleeves.”
They all laughed loudly.
“I know I mean I was like...” George paused to change his voice to high pitched and girly. “Oh Severus stop it, don’t flatter me so much just stop it right now. Look I’m blushing,” he gave a rather girly giggle and covered his mouth.
This had them all in fits of laughter.
The next couple of weeks passed quickly in a blur of pranks by the Weasley twins including a Portable swamp incident. Despite the many laughs hand delivered by the twins Hermione was becoming more and more stressed out. With Umbridge at every corner turning the school upside down and running it ‘the ministry’s way’, Harry’s nightmares and clips of Voldemort’s mind becoming more frequent causing his scar to burn more often and the threat of an impending war bearing down upon them and obviously George. She felt she’d explode now with everything plus it was the week of OWLs.
She skipped dinner one night and was trying and failing to revise as her mind wondered and the most heart breaking and inevitable thought kept creeping up on her. George would be leaving any day now, she noticed him trying to get as much quality time with herself, Ginny, Ron, Harry, Lee, Alicia and Angelina as he could, he was being more caring towards them all. Fred was doing the same though seemed more conscious of his twin and how he was dealing with the fact they were leaving soon.
“Hermione,” George whispered.
Hermione jumped having not even noticed him take a seat beside her. “Hi George,” she said in a small voice. She avoided his eye. It wasn’t that he was leaving that affected her so much because she’d see him in the holidays and things but it was the fact he just wouldn’t be there. He wouldn’t be there when she needed someone to talk to, wouldn’t be there when she needed comfort, wouldn’t be there when no one else would understand, wouldn’t be there when she needed advice, wouldn’t be there when she was down, wouldn’t be there to make her laugh and smile, wouldn’t be there when she was all alone and needed company. He just wouldn’t be there and that killed her, and if he wasn’t there then they couldn’t be together.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered softly.
She gazed into his deep eyes and gave a low chuckle, “I don’t want you to be sorry. I just want so much of you and I can’t have everything. I want you to get out there and make yourself into that successful business man that I see burning within you but I want you here with me as well but mostly I want you to be happy.”
“You make me happy,” he said his voice shaky and he wasn’t certain of what or why he was saying things but it felt right and it was the truth.
Tears streamed down her cheeks as she held his hand tightly.
“George, you make me happy too but if you love something you have to let it go,” Hermione said strongly remembering one of their other conversations in which she’d discovered how much the old saying applied to her.
“And if it loves you too it will come back,” George spoke unsurely. “I’ll come back or we’ll be back together one day,” he said more certainly.
“We’re going tomorrow.”
“I had a feeling you were,” Hermione sighed. “I’ll miss you.”
“Trust me when I say I’ll miss you more,” George wrapped his arms around her tightly.
“Promise you’ll write?”
“Every week if not more often,” George promised her.
“Good,” she nodded moving closer into his body.
At some point everyone had come up from dinner but nobody had spoken instead they had all whispered to each other and gone to their dormitories.
“Are you asleep?” George whispered.
“No, I’m just more comfortable than I have been in ages. Maybe it’s just you...” Hermione said lost in her thoughts.
“What I bore you to the brink of sleep?” George asked jokingly.
“You’re my biggest interest George, you don’t put me to sleep but you just make me feel so safe- so protected- so loved. When you’re near I’m never alone,” she sighed.
“Hermione...you don’t believe me when I say I feel exactly the same but it really is the truth,” George told her.
“I believe you,” Hermione whispered.
“Why don’t you go put your pyjamas on since it’s already twelve and I will head down to the kitchens and grab us some dinner as neither of us ate,” George said and Hermione nodded heading for the girls’ dormitory but stopping on the top stair to watch George disappear out the portrait hole.
‘So he feels the same. Ha...bit late for that. He’s leaving tomorrow. It’s never too late. I didn’t say it was too late. So you’re going to go for it? No but another day- sometime in the future, when a relationship is more practical for both of us...Sounds like you’re chickening out. Am not but now it’s just not the right time...I can’t make a long distance relationship work. How can you say that you haven’t exactly tried, have you? Shut up this is my decision and if I’m comfortable with it then I’m sticking with it.’
Hermione shunned the nagging voice in her mind which contradicted her every word as she slipped into her pyjamas before putting on some slippers and a dressing gown. She left silently as not to disturb her sleeping roommates and walked eagerly to the Common room. For one reason she was starving and second she just wanted to be near George a feeling she wouldn’t be able to have by tomorrow evening. The thought brought tears to her eyes but she wanted to make the most of her limited time with George so she wouldn’t waste time with tears.
She arrived at the common room to find a table covered in a pale blue table cloth with candles and roast lamb with potatoes on two plates. Amazing as it was there was something missing or someone...George.
“Right here beautiful,” a voice whispered into her ear from behind. She turned to see George also in his pyjamas and grinned.
“George what’s all this?” she asked.
“A goodbye dinner for the girl I’m going to miss like crazy,” George said.
“I should leave then I expect she’ll be here soon,” Hermione joked.
“Don’t be silly ‘Mione. You know it’s you,” said George pulling out a seat for her to sit before taking his seat opposite her.
They ate whilst conversation topics varied from little things to the joke shop and then to Order matters. After dessert which was a strawberry cheese cake shared between the two of them and still not finished George cleared everything away with a flick of his wand and they returned to their seats on the sofa in front of the fire.
“Thanks for dinner George,” Hermione said as his arms once again wrapped themselves around her.
“Mm...” mumbled George as he pulled her closer allowing her to rest her head on his chest.
They stayed like that for a while. Not speaking because there was no need to speak, the moment was perfect because they were together and that was all they needed.
George glanced at his watch as the dragon materialised and realised that it was two am.
“Hermione it’s really late we should get to bed.”
“I know but I don’t want to leave...this evening was perfect George.”
“You’re perfect,” George replied softly as he played with her hair.
“I’m far from it but thanks anyway. You’re the perfect one,” Hermione told him.
“That’s sweet of you to say but I strongly disagree.” George spoke as he pulled Hermione to her feet and she immediately wrapped her arms around his neck tightly.
He hugged her back making her feel safe in his warm embrace. He rested his forehead against hers and took in a deep, shaky breath.
“Hermione I...” George couldn’t seem to get the words out of his mouth.
“I know George,” Hermione whispered softly, “and I do too. I understand I do- I really do and I don’t blame you for anything I blame myself and Umbridge and everything else but it’s okay. I wish you the best for your joke shop and I’ll be there every step of the way, right behind you with endless support and...”
‘Why was it so hard to just say the word? Love, love, love, LOVE! I physically can’t say the word.’ Hermione thought to herself.
George laughed lightly, “I know. Thanks Hermione. For being you, for being so understanding and...”
Hermione just stretched up and kissed his cheek slowly and gently stopping him talking.
“Boy am I going to miss you,” George said touching the spot on his cheek she’d kissed.
“Trust me the feeling is more than mutual,” Hermione replied.
“Oh Hermione I really- I just...” he couldn’t say it
“George, I know. I’m telling you I can’t say it either but I know and I feel the same.”
“What am I going to do without you? You’re my angel and I need you by my side,” George said and Hermione could hear the strain in his voice telling her he was fighting tears.
“George whenever you need me I’m just an owl away but most importantly I’ll always be with you- right in there,” she told him ghosting her hand over his chest.
“Always,” George promised with a grin.
“Good night George,” she whispered pulling away from his arms.
“Good night ‘Mione, see you in the morning,” George said.
Hermione nodded tears spilling down her cheeks knowing that the day after tomorrow she wouldn’t see him in the morning.
Each of them went back to their dormitories and both found themselves in tears.
“He’s leaving?” Lavender asked as she woke to find sobs coming from the bed beside hers. Hermione nodded her response before burying her face in her hands.
“Tomorrow...” she whispered, “He’s leaving tomorrow.”
George sunk into his bed finally letting out the tears he’d held back for months.
“Say goodbye?” Fred asked him with a look of concern. George nodded.
“I said goodbye to Angie as well,” Fred said with a look of deep understanding.
George looked round the dormitory then at Lee before returning his eyes to his twin and giving the weakest of smiles. “This is the beginning of a new chapter of our lives.”
“But that doesn’t mean we’re leaving anyone or anything behind,” Fred assured him.
“I know,” George said before repeating it with a stronger tone, “I know.”
One word for you...'REVIEW'
Ok now some more important words! Thanks so much for reading and I really appreciate any feed back so feel free to review because they make me happy! What do you think of the story so far? What do you think is going to happen next or is nothing going to happen? Hope you continue to read and enjoy the story! Jenna :)