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I Don't Have a Choice (But I'd Still Choose You) by KeepCalmAndWriteSomething

Format: Novella
Chapters: 11
Word Count: 17,153
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Mild violence, Scenes of a sexual nature

Genres: Drama, Humor, Romance
Characters: Hermione, George
Pairings: Hermione/FredOrGeorge, Harry/Ginny, Ron/Luna

First Published: 05/25/2016
Last Chapter: 08/17/2016
Last Updated: 08/17/2016

Summary:






Banner by beyond the rain at TDA 

Hermione Granger is struggling to find her place in the aftermath of the war. Then, the tenuous peace is threatened when the Protection of the Wizarding Population Act, a marriage law created in 1442, is implemented once more. How will she handle being paired with the last person she expected? And will two quite different people be able to come together as one?


Chapter 9: A Friendly Wager

Hermione gave a growl of frustration as one of her curls sprang out rebelliously from the spot that she had it pinned. She had been fussing with her hair for the last twenty minutes, trying, in vain it seemed, to make it look at least somewhat presentable. Every time that she thought she had it, it would spring out even more wild and unruly than before.

She muttered a few foul words beneath her breath as Ginny giggled from her position on the bed. "I don't know why you're so worked up over this. It's not like he hasn't seen your hair before."

Hermione glared at the other girl through the mirror. "This is different, Ginny. I don't want to go out looking like Medusa tonight, so would you please just get over here and help me!"

She wasn't sure why she was feeling so nervous. It wasn't as if this was the first time she had hung out with him, or even the first time they had been alone together. It had been almost a month since the letters had arrived, and they had spent plenty of time with one another. But this night had a different air about it.

Ginny rolled her eyes at her dramatics, but stood from the bed and positioned herself behind her friend. "Hold still," she murmured as she began to twist her curls into a long braid. "There, all done. You look great."

Hermione's reflection frowned back at her as she fidgeted with the hem of the navy blue dress that she was wearing. "You really think so?"

Ginny smiled. "Of course. You're gorgeous. He's gonna love it. He's gonna love you."

A light blush settled into her cheeks. Hermione glanced out the window to the darkness beyond. George hadn't told her where they were going, only when to be ready. "Thank you. He should be here soon."

"Let's go downstairs and wait."

Hermione nodded at her suggestion and both girls trudged down the stairs to the sitting room. They sat next to each other on the sofa. Ginny shot her friend a grin when her leg began to twitch.

Finally, after what felt like an age, there was a pop from the backyard and then the sound of the kitchen door opening. Hermione jumped up, realizing how frantic she must have seemed when Ginny gave a snort.

George appeared in the doorway, looking as gorgeous as ever in a teal shirt and jeans. "Wow, Granger. You look beautiful."

"Thank you. You're looking quite handsome yourself."

He took her hand in his, and she beamed when he leaned down to place a gentle peck on her cheek. "Are you ready to go?" he asked.

Hermione nodded. "Where are we going?"

"Tut, tut, no spoiling the surprise," he replied with a smirk. "See ya later, Ginny."

His sister waved at them as George led her from the room. "Bye!" she cried in a singsong manner. "You two be sure to behave."

Hermione followed George into the backyard where he paused and offered her his arm. The instant she took it, she felt the familiar tugging sensation as he Apparated them. She blinked and they were standing in a field with a great, weeping willow looming overhead, its branches swaying gently in the breeze.

Her brow furrowed. "What are we doing here?"

George's only response was a gentle smile. He took her by the hand once more and led her towards the tree. He lifted his other hand and pushed aside some of the hanging branches.

George flicked his wand and several candles lit themselves. Peering inside, she could see that there was enough space for two people to sit comfortably. There was a blanket spread over the ground and a wicker basket tucked off to the side.

"After you, love."

Hermione moved to sit on the blanket and George soon followed. The branches moved back into place, curtaining them off from the rest of the world. It was just her and George now. The candles were dancing, the shadows turning George's face into a menagerie of light and dark.

Hermione laughed in delight. "George, this is wonderful. Where are we?"

"A couple miles from the house," he told her. He shrugged dismissively, but Hermione could tell that he was pleased that she approved. "Fred and I found this place when we were riding our brooms one day."

Hermione's eyes misted over and she quickly blinked the moisture away. "Thank you for putting so much thought into this."

He placed his hand on her cheek, rubbing his thumb along her cheekbone. "This is my job now. To take care of you and make you happy. That's all I want to do."

Hermione placed her hand atop his and gave him a watery smile. "I'm so glad it was you, George." She felt her face redden. "This past month with you has been amazing."

He leaned forward to ghost his lips over hers. So softly she might've imagined it. "I feel the same way, love." George was silent for a moment, seemingly thinking over what he was about to say. "About the other day at the shop …"

Hermione groaned and buried her face in her hands. "I don't want to talk about it."

He reached out to gently pry her hands away and then gripped her chin between his fingers so that she couldn't look away. "Listen, you have nothing to be embarrassed about. It wasn't your fault." George grinned at her. "Besides, I'm used to girls throwing themselves at me."

"Yes, it must be because you're so humble." The eye contact was more than she could handle at the moment. But his hands kept her from turning away. "But … thank you. For not taking advantage."

He let his hands fall away from her face and shrugged again. George's lips thinned into a line. "You shouldn't thank me for that. Any halfway decent person would have done the same."

Hermione wanted to argue. Wanted to say that she knew a lot of people who would have gone through with it. But instead she just smiled and let the subject drop.

George chuckled and reached for the basket. "You haven't even heard the best part yet," he said as he opened it and began to dig inside. Seeing as his arm disappeared to his shoulder, she assumed that there was an Extension Charm on it. "I asked Mum to make us some snacks. Aha, here they are."

He removed a tin from the basket, taking off the lid and passing it to her. It was filled with oatmeal cookies. "They're your favorite, right?"

Hermione's jaw dropped ever so slightly. "How did you know that?"

He scoffed and raised a brow. A half smile played about his lips. "Granger, I've known you a long time. I know a lot about you."

"Oh yeah?" Her eyes narrowed in challenge. "Like what?"

He moved so that he was leaning back on his hands, still watching her with that same raised brow. "You really want to do this?"

When she nodded, George smirked wickedly. "How about we make a friendly wager?"

The way he was eyeing her made her stomach do flips. "What exactly did you have in mind?"

He reached into the basket and pulled out another tin. This one was filled with brownies. "You ask me three questions about yourself and if I get them all right, I win."

Hermione bit into her cookie. "You win what?"

His smirk grew even more sinful. "If I win, you have to come home with me tonight."

She took a sudden breath and inhaled a bit of cookie. Hermione coughed and spluttered for a few moments as George watched on in amusement. When she could finally speak, she squealed, "What?"

George laughed for a long time, tilting his head back and clutching at his stomach. He wiped a tear from the corner of his eye. "You heard me. You have to spend the night with me."

Her heart began to thump wildly in her chest. His words conjured delicious images of what they might do together in the night. A fierce blush swept across her face as she tried to push those thoughts from her mind.

Hermione's mouth was suddenly dry and she cleared her throat several times. "Um … well … I suppose … Yes, alright."

George seemed very entertained by the whole situation. He seemed to be struggling not to burst out in laughter. "Why so nervous, Granger?"

She glared at him. "Shut up, George. Okay, what's my favorite color?"

The corners of his mouth twitched and his dark eyes were dancing with mirth. "Dark blue. Like the color of your dress."

He was right. That was the only reason she'd bought the dress. Because she loved the color of it.

Hermione pursed her lips. "Correct. What's my favorite book that was written by a Muggle?"

George was looking rather smug. "Pride and Prejudice."

Hermione's stomach dropped. He'd already gotten two out of three correct. She honestly hadn't expected him to know those things. She couldn't recall ever talking about it with him. Apparently, she hadn't been giving him enough credit.

"Alright. Final question. What's my favorite flower?"

George looked about him and then picked up a small twig off of the ground. With a flick of his wand he'd transfigured it into a sunflower, which he then handed to her. Hermione was speechless and all she could do for a long time was stare at the flower in her hands.

"How did you know that?" she asked softly, her eyes shimmering again.

"I've gotten pretty good at listening to people and remembering what they say." He was watching her intently. "That's why the shop does so well, I think. Fred and I are able to figure out what products people would enjoy by listening to them speak."

"Well, I'm very impressed."

That wicked smirk had returned. He leaned forward and she could feel his warm breath washing over her face. "I won. And that means that you're coming home with me, love."


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