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Minimum Wage To True Love by Proud Hufflepuff

Format: Novella
Chapters: 16
Word Count: 25,167
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Mild Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme, Contains Spoilers

Genres: Drama, Romance, Angst
Characters: Fred, George, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: Other Pairing, Arthur/Molly, Bill/Fleur, Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione

First Published: 08/08/2007
Last Chapter: 11/19/2007
Last Updated: 11/19/2007

Summary:

First, she was his employee, then she slowly turned into one of his best friends. Romance came last.
-Banner: silv3r_ic3 @ TDA-


Chapter 1: The Test
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Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes was bursting at the seams with customers, as it typically was. U-No-Poo was slowly becoming one of the more popular products; drawing in Dumbledore’s younger supporters like water attracts mosquitoes.

“Verity,” Fred said to their newest, and only, employee.

“Coming, Mr. Weasley,” Verity said, walking over to where one of her two bosses was. George was standing next to his twin and going down the check list of things they needed to make more of.

“Today we have a possible employee coming in for an interview,” George said, a bit bored in his tone, while he continued with the check list. Glancing at it, he could see that they needed some more of their Self-Inking, Spell-Checking, and Smart-Answer quills. Those buggers sold out fast; no wonder, anyone would want them. Not having to worry about your spelling and your answers was heaven. The Skiving Snack Boxes were rather popular as well, but having known that, they made more than enough.

“As George said, we have an interviewee coming today. She should be here any moment. We need you to make sure that no one nicks stuff while one of us is interviewing her and the other is working on making more of the things we’re running low on,” Fred said, looking at Verity.

“Of course, Mr. Weasley and Mr. Weasley,” she said as Fred dismissed her.

“Easy to work with,” he said when Verity was out of ear shot. George nodded and handed Fred the check list to double check. They always double checked each other, just in case one missed something, the other would catch the mistake.

Looking to the door, George saw a young woman walk in. She carried herself with confidence, but not so much confidence that it was arrogant. Her blonde locks fell just below her shoulder and were complimented with eyes the color of coffee. As she drew nearer to him, he saw that she was only a few inches shorter than his stocky stature.

“I’m looking for a Fred or a George Weasley,” she said, looking down at the piece of parchment she was holding in her hands. Her voice was smooth, like honey, and something about it made him think of the calming effects of chamomile tea.

“George Weasley, at your service,” George said, sticking his hand out for her to shake. She took it and shook it firmly before he let go.

“I’m Catherine Miller. I applied for a job here.”

“Ah, yes. Right this way.” George led her through the crowd of people that seemed to cover each tiny millimeter of the shop. When he finally got to the small office in the back of the store, he pushed opened the door and told her to sit in the armchair across from the mahogany desk that was covered in sketches for new products. His blue eyes looked around the desk for her application. He finally found it and glanced over it.

“All right,” he said, his sapphire eyes meeting her chocolate ones.

“Yes?” she said.

“What would you do if someone started puking all of a sudden?”

“I would give them the other end of a Puking Pastille.”

“Ah, so you’re a customer?”

Her sun kissed cheeks turned the lightest shade of red that George had ever seen anyone blush. He smirked, but not mockingly, at her visible embarrassment.

“No, I just remember my seventh year very well,” she said, the red disappearing from her cheeks. George raised his ginger eyebrow with curiosity.

“When was your seventh year?”

“Last year. This is my first summer out of Hogwarts.”

“Very good…It says here that you play Quidditch,” George said, a smile curling upon his lips. He watched as she playfully smirked.

“I never said that I played on a team or that I played well,” she slyly replied.

“But you enjoy the game?”

She tilted her head to the side in thought for a brief moment before nodding. Quickly, George called for his brother. Catherine waited patiently for Fred to join in on the interview.

“We’re ready for the test,” George said as Fred arrived in the office. Fred looked from his brother to the young woman sitting across from him.

“The test?” Fred said. George nodded.

“What test?” Catherine said, visibly confused.

“I’ll go get it,” Fred said, leaving the room.

“The test is a simple way to show your knowledge of the world of joking,” George said. “It can be anything from pulling a prank to juggling.”

“Okay,” she said. Her features spelled out nervousness.

“Don’t worry, Catherine—” George started.

“Cate. You can call me Cate.”

“Okay, Cate, nothing illegal is ever involved.”

“What a relief,” she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. Fred came in moments later and dropped a deck of cards in her lap. She looked at them, deeply confused once more. Slowly and carefully, she dumped the cards out of the box and shuffled them in her hands.

“What do you want me to do with them?” Cate said, looking from Fred to George and then concentrating on her hands as she watched the smooth cards slip between each other.

“Perform a trick, of course,” Fred said, leaning against the wall lazily. She raised both of her eyebrows and looked at the twins. She then shrugged her shoulders and shuffled them once more.

“Take a card and don’t show it to me,” she said, holding the deck out. George cautiously took a card. Ah, the queen of spades. She was pointing her scepter at him and demanding that he put her back with the king of spades. George sighed and kept a hold of it.

“Okay, now what?” Fred said, reading his twin’s mind perfectly.

“Give me a few moments and I’ll tell you what card that is,” Cate said, not taking her eyes off the cards she was holding. George knew that by looking at the cards, she couldn’t tell what card he had. That was simply ridiculous and unheard of; there were too many cards in the deck to do that, but he let her continue. She appeared to be moving the cards around in her hand as Fred glanced over to George. He shook his head to tell Fred that he didn’t know what she was doing either.

“You have the queen of spades,” she said.

“Y—yes, I do,” George said, astonished. Fred’s facial expression told George that his twin was also amazed. George handed Cate the card and she looked pleased with herself as she handed the deck back to Fred.

“Here’s the uniform,” Fred said, handing Cate a wad of the magenta robes that clashed magnificently with the traditional Weasley red hair. “Be here at eight o’clock tomorrow morning and we’ll go over the basics.”

“Thank you,” she said, leaving the shop with the robes in hand. The tinkling sound that the bell on the door sounded, signaling that she had left. With that simple sound, Fred and George returned to work.

A/N: Let the saga begin! Oh, and don't forget to review. I'd also like to thank Minda at the forums for the fantastic title. =)

Chapter 2: Just Right
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Slowly, George grew used to the idea of having another employee. It turns out that she knew the trick because her father is a Muggle so had taught her those card tricks as a child.

“Hey, Cate, can I see you after close?” George said to her. She looked over to him and furrowed her eyebrow in confusion, but nodded in acceptance. She continued about entertaining some children with another one of her Muggle card tricks. It always made George smile for some reason. He never could figure out why, but it did. Perhaps it was the profit he would make if she impressed people enough with the tricks they could do with the cards. That didn’t seem as though it was it, though.

“Did she do something wrong?” Fred whispered to George, having heard what the latter had said to Cate.

Shaking his head, George said: “Do you think she’s pretty?”

“Not really, why? Were you thinking of asking her out?” Fred said.

“Yeah.” George thought she was incredibly beautiful, though perhaps it was the spell she put on him when she spoke. No, that couldn’t be it. After dealing with her voice for six months, it couldn’t be that that made him think she was beautiful. It was something else… Maybe it was the way her eyes sparkled in the light and her curls bounced around. He shook the thought from his head. Why was he letting his employee’s beauty fill his head? No, his friend’s beauty. Why was he letting one of his best friend’s beauty fill his mind?

It was true that Cate had grown to be one of his close friends. There was no denying that George enjoyed having a woman to confide in rather than his brother or their friend, Lee Jordan. She seemed to understand his feelings about things better.

The clock hanging in the corner of the shop was pure agony to look at. The second hand moved slower as the hour hand neared the six. One measly little centimeter was all the hour and minute hands needed to move, and then he could finally talk to Cate.

“All right! It’s six o’clock! Everyone out!” Fred shouted to the remaining few customers. The child Cate was helping at the register looked frightened by Fred’s demand. George watched for her reaction, intrigued.

“It’s all right. Just give me one of your knuts and two of your sickles in addition to what you gave me, then I’ll give you back one galleon,” she said soothingly to the child, whose mother was standing outside the store, waiting for him.

“Thank you!” the child said as Cate handed him the bag with his purchases and the galleon she promised.

“You’re welcome,” she said as he ran from the store. A smile slowly curled on George’s lips when he remembered that he had something to tell her. He cautiously sauntered over to her as she slipped her coat on.

“Hey, I wanted to ask you something,” George said as she turned around to face him. A few tendrils of her hair hung in her soft eyes and she pushed them away. A loss of words suddenly came of him. This never happened; you could ask his mum if you wanted. He and Fred had a very difficult time keeping their mouths shut.

Slowly, he eyed Fred, who was leaving the shop to go upstairs. Whoever had said that twins had an unspoken language was right. Fred and George knew what the other wanted to say without needing it to be said.

The room fell silent as George struggled with his words. He shouldn’t be nervous. He knew everything about her from when her sister gave her the scar on her toe to the time she fainted before giving a speech at her Muggle primary school. Hell, he even knew that her middle name was Ophelia and that her birthday fell four days before his. He could also tell you her exact height, five feet six and a half inches, not that he stalked her or something of the sort. He simply knew her well.

You will not chicken out, George, he kept telling himself. You will not chicken out. You’re a Gryffindor for god’s sake! A Gryffindor! You’re brave; just ask her out. C’mon, the words will come, mate.

“Did you want hang out tonight?” George said. Wonderful. He chickened out; the precise thing that he told himself not to do. Cate thoughtfully pulled her golden curtain hair out of the collar of her coat and bit her lip in thought.

“Sure,” Cate said. “What did you have in mind?”

Shit. That was something that he hadn’t thought of. The plan was to go out on Friday night to dinner, but that fell through because of his loss of courage. They could go see the Quidditch game that was taking place tonight. Yes, that was a good plan; they both liked to watch Quidditch.

“Did you want to go to the Quidditch game?” he said.

“You have to let me pay for my own ticket,” she said slyly, as though she knew he would attempt to pay. “Or I won’t come.”

Cate always kept her word and George desperately wanted her to come.

“I promise that you can pay for your own ticket.”

----------

Ah, the excitement of a Quidditch game. Fans shouting and the sweet smell of the dirt and grime left over from the previous game were two of George’s favorite parts of a Quidditch game. The rush that each person got despite what team they were rooting for was priceless.

Today’s players were the Falmouth Falcons, fading into the cloudy sky with their silvery gray robes, highlighted by white. The other set of players were the Pride of Portree. Their royally purple robes flowed behind them while the gold stars on each of their chests glinted in the setting sun.

George watched as each team flew past the stands like peacocks showing of their feathers to impress others. As they did this, the sky slowly turned different shades of pink, orange, purple, and blue from the large ball in the sky that was changing directions. He was intrigued by how self absorbed some Quidditch players seemed to be. The sport was more important, though, so George didn’t pay too much attention to their vanity.

“Is this your first professional Quidditch game?” George shouted about the roaring crowd. She nodded vigorously as she followed the players with her eyes. He kindly pointed out which player was which, seeing as she had never attended a match. She didn’t seem to mind that he was telling her who was who, for she asked again to clarify what he was telling her.

“We’re not going for any team in particular, unless you prefer one over the other,” he said, leaning in close to her so that she could hear what he was telling her over the restless witches and wizards enjoying the game. Her scent innocently tantalized him to kiss her smooth cheek, but he didn’t. He just breathed in the sweet, fruity scent, which he associated only with Cate, as subtly as possible. As he gaze slowly met his, and his palms became sweaty. He nervously ran his fingers through his mop of ginger hair and pointed to the field.

“The, er, the Falcons got a Quaffle through the hoop,” he said.

“Yeah,” Cate said, her tone telling George that she was a bit disappointed about something. She turned to watch the game again.

George let the winter wind whip on his face brutally. Why, oh, why hadn’t he just said something to her? What had happened to his Gryffindor courage? Wasn’t he the one who left Hogwarts, in spite of Umbridge being in the Ministry, and didn’t care that he got in trouble for hitting Malfoy the same year? He could do all that, but he couldn’t kiss the woman standing next to him.

----------

“Would you like to come in for a few moments?” Cate said as George dropped her off at her flat. He had been there many times before, but now seemed different. The wooden floors and the deep red walls seemed to be telling him something tonight. They were telling him to leave.

“Sure,” George said, not caring what her flat was telling him to do. She flicked her wand softly, allowing light to be shed on her home. He took his coat off and put it on the rack by the door, following her lead.

Sitting on the couch next to her, George’s mind fought the urge to lean over and kiss her. The raging war in his mind was bringing him to insanity as was the perfect order of everything in her apartment. He knew very well that she was an organization nut, but he hadn’t thought anything of it until a few weeks ago.

“Are you okay?” Cate said, shaking George abruptly from his thoughts.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Why?”

“You’re very quiet tonight.”

“Did you enjoy the Quidditch game?”

“Oh, yeah. I did; very different from the ones at Hogwarts, I must say.”

“A smidge louder, yeah?”

“Mhmm,” she said, her tone suggesting that she was bored on the subject that had been brought up. Subconsciously, George moved closer to her on the couch, keeping his mouth shut. Their eyes locked, making him feel nervous once again, yet completely at ease.

“Are you okay?” Cate said for the second time that evening. Her soothing voice seemed to make George melt a bit, but not so much that he lost his composure.

“Is it normal for your palms to sweat and your heart to beat fifteen times the normal pace?” he said, his chest rising and falling slowly.

“Not at all,” she said, her voice softening in volume. Slowly, George leaned in closer to her, allowing their noses to touch gently. Cate’s eyes slowly closed as their lips met in a tender first kiss. Her lips were just as soft as they looked and tasted as sweet as she smelled. It felt perfect to George, not too soon and not too late. Just right.

A/N: Well, whaddya think? I'd really like to know. *hints at the gray box at the bottom of the screen*

Chapter 3: Blind
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“Did you have a good time at the Quidditch game last night?” George asked the next morning as the twins were getting the shop ready for the day. He knew that his twin had also gone to the same Quidditch game, but with his girlfriend, Angelina Johnson.

“Yeah, it was a good game. Did you ask Cate out?” Fred said as he put some more Skiving Snack Boxes on the dusty shelf.

“No.” He could feel a violent heat creeping up his neck to his cheeks as he said that word. Fred playfully smirked as his twin restocked the barrels of school help quills. Before he could say anything more to George, Verity and Cate walked in promptly at eight o’clock. They were laughing about something, presumably the child running around in circles across the cobblestone street. As soon as Fred and George raised their eyebrows at their two workers, the women stopped their giggling and went to their proper work stations. Cate was going to be on the floor today to help customers while Verity manned the cash register.

If an employee was working on the sales floor, they would also keep things in order on the shelves and help the customers in the most general meaning of the term. Fred and George typically put Cate on the floor because she seemed to be a bit more personable than Verity. Verity was one of those people who always did what they were asked and only answered “yes” and “no”. Cate, on the other hand, would personally make sure that the customer got what he or she wanted.

The day dragged on forever for George. It was hard to look at Cate and not remember their kiss. The difficulty rose as the tasks that came from being her boss came up throughout the day. He hated bossing his girlfriend around, for it made him feel like a control freak. When the end of the day neared, relief washed over him. Luckily, Fred and Angelina were going to yet another Quidditch game (the latter held season passes), so George was free to spend his evening with Cate.

“See you later, George! Don’t forget to eat dinner,” Fred joked as he exited the store, leaving only George and Cate while she helped him clean up.

“Hey, you,” he said, wrapping his arms around her slim waist after the shop was clear of all workers and customers. Cate put the products she was balancing in her hands down and placed her hand on George’s cheek.

“Hey,” she said as he kissed her cheek. She picked the love potions back up and started placing them on the shelf. He continued pecking her cheek as she placed the little boxes in their proper places.

----------

This is how their relationship worked: in little secrets. Their affections were hidden when Fred, Verity, or their friends were near. Alone, the two were very open with each other.

“I love you,” George said for the first time to Cate six months into their romantic relationship. He felt his palms grow sweaty as she just looked at him, her brown eyes large with curiosity.

“Really?” she breathed, moving closer to him on her couch. He could feel her skin touching his tantalizingly as she sat on his lap, wrapping her long, lean legs around his hips.

“Yes,” he said. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him romantically, her soft lips lingering on his for a few short moments before saying something. As if to tease him, she kissed his cheek before saying whatever it was that she had wanted to say.

“I love you too.” It was George who fulfilled the need for a kiss this time. He sucked on her vanilla flavored bottom lip for a few moments. Cate slowly deepened their kiss as George stood up, Cate still attached to him. He hadn’t the faintest clue as to where he was going, but he figured it out as he carried her down the hall of her flat. She groped around at a door for its knob without breaking the sensual kiss. Something inside George made him turn the knob for her.

This action allowed him to enter her bedroom. It was in as perfect order as the rest of her home. Not a speck of dust could be located on her dark wood furniture. Even her bed was made.

“I love you,” Cate whispered into his ear as she bit the bottom of it lustfully. Shivers ran up George’s spine as he placed her on the bed and lie down on top of her, sucking on her neck. His lips moved as far down on her body as they could until her shirt covered her skin. He fumbled with the buttons on Cate’s shirt while she pulled his shirt out of his pants so that it was no longer tucked. George could feel her shudder as he kissed her chest and stomach.

Tantalizingly slow, Cate unbuttoned George’s shirt as he finished doing the same to hers. Their lips met once again in a passionate kiss filled with more love than George had ever known. Not soon enough, George and Cate had managed to undress each other and were looking into the other’s eyes with want and desire. Cate’s eyes slowly closed as George rubbed circles on the inside of her thighs and kissed her cheek.

As they became one, Cate let out a sharp gasp. Though George was afraid that he had done something to hurt her, there was no hiding his pleasure. He was reassured when she moaned with the same pleasure he was keeping to himself. Nothing would ever make him happier than being so close to Cate.

----------

George woke up the next morning with a smile on his face. He was going to forget about what he had to do that night; he was going to forget about Fred; he was going to enjoy the memory of the night before and the sight in front of him.

The sun wasn’t too terribly bright, but it was bright enough to illuminate Cate’s sickeningly clean bedroom. It annoyed him that everything was so clean, but he loved Cate and would learn to get over that.

“Good morning,” Cate said as she woke up laughing.

“What’s so funny?” George said, kissing her lovingly.

“Your hair is sticking up in every direction imaginable.” He chose not to comment upon the fact that her blonde hair was in a frizzy mess. Cate reached over to George and ran her fingers through his hair while he cupped his hand on her cheek.

“What’s today?” he said.

“The day that you have to do something but won’t tell me what it is.” He sighed and loosened his hand from Cate’s cheek. It was in fact the day he had hoped it wasn’t. The day of the seven Potters had come.

----------

Work that day was hard. Not only could he not look at Cate without thinking of her as his lover rather than his employee, but he was anxious for the day to end. He knew that he was risking everything by doing this for Harry, but the poor kid deserved to be safe. Especially with the unknown task the Dumbledore had given Harry, he deserved to be safe for a while at least.

So at the end of the day, George told Fred that he needed to go to the restroom. This is why George was standing in a cramped and incredibly dark coat closet with Cate as she bundled him up as though it was the dead of winter rather than the middle of summer.

“Now, I want you to come back to me in one piece, all right?” Cate said as she zipped up a jacket and proceeded to take a heavy coat from a hanger and put it on George.

“I will, but why are you dressing me as though it’s…as though it’s far below freezing?” George said as he stopped her from grabbing a scarf that his mother had knitted him. She slowly took off the layers of jackets she had put on him and kissed him on the cheek.

“I just don’t want anything to happen to you, George. I love you,” she said, kissing him again as though she would never be able to do it again.

“Look, Cate, I won’t be gone long. I can be at your place when I’m done doing what I have to do.” He placed his hands on her waist to reassure her that he would, in fact, come back to her in the one piece she had asked for.

“Do you promise?” She ran her fingers along each line of his face as though to imprint it in her memory forever.

“I do. I promise.” George looked at her and saw something in her eyes that she had never shown before: Fear. Cate wasn’t one to show a feeling that could be perceived as weakness even though she knew it wasn’t weakness. Quickly, she flung her arms around George’s neck and sobbed into his shoulder. They each knew what this war was doing to people. The things that they didn’t know were that it would soon hit them in an unexpected way and that George would not uphold his promise to come back to her in once piece.

Chapter 4: Rash Decisions
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“I lied,” George muttered to Fred when they were trying to sleep at their flat. He had lost his ear. He didn’t come back in one place. He had lied.

“You’re saint like, remember? Saints don’t lie,” Fred joked as he turned in his bed to face George’s bed.

The dark was not as comforting as one would have thought after such a long day. The dark just made him think more about having lied to Cate. At the time of losing his ear, he thought nothing of it. He just thought about how lucky he was to be alive and how many jokes he could crack about it. Now, it was all he could think of. He had told her a lie. He had broken a promise.

“But I lied,” George murmured.

“Who did you lie to?” Fred said, all jokes ceasing when he had detected the seriousness in his twin’s tone. George looked to the ceiling now, watching as the shadows of passersby darted across.

“Cate.”

----------

“Cate?” George whispered. He had risked Apparition to visit her in the middle of the night. Actually, it was two in the morning, but he needed her to know that he hadn’t forgotten.

“George?” Cate said quietly as he nudged her body to wake her. He nodded and sat on the edge of her bed. She gently placed her hand on his cheek and smiled.

“You came back,” she whispered as she fingered his hair. The way she was touching him made him think that he was dead and she would never see him again. Lovingly, George placed his hand over hers.

“I came back.” Cate sat up when he said this.

“I came back,” he repeated. “But I’m saint like, now.” Cate furrowed her eyebrow, visibly confused.

“Are you feeling all right?” she said, pressing the back of her hand to George’s forehead to check for fever. He laughed as she did this.

“I’m holy too, you know?”

“George, do you need to go see a Healer?”

“No, no, love. I’m holey, get it?”

“I don’t get it. Please help me understand.”

Nervously, George pushed back some of the hair over his left ear. Cate’s face screwed up in disgust as she placed her hand over the hole where his ear once resided. Tears began to fall from her gentle brown eyes as she realized that he would never have two ears again.

“Does it hurt?” she said, the tears still falling.

“A little,” George replied as Cate placed her hand on his thigh, but didn’t remove her eyes from the side of his head.

“Can you still hear?”

“Out of my right ear.”

“How did it happen?”

“A battle.”

“Already?”

“It’s been going on for years, Cate.”

“I know…”

She buried her head into his shoulder as he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her as tightly to him as he could. He could feel her tears fall as he kissed her cheek.

“It’s okay,” he whispered. She balled her hands into fists against his chest. As he kissed her blonde curls, she shook her head. No words came to his mouth to help calm her down. They each knew that it wasn’t okay that innocent people were being hurt. She slowly removed her head from its burrow in his shoulder and looked up at him. Her brown eyes were blood shot.

“Are you sure it doesn’t hurt?” she said.

“I’m positive. When you’re a saint, like me, you don’t feel pain,” George joked, putting his index finger under her chin and tilting her head up so that she would look him in the eye. Cate laughed for the first time that night and wiped the tears from her eyes.

“See? I’m still the same George,” he said, reassuring her that he hadn’t changed just because he was missing an ear. She smiled and kissed him tenderly. He placed his hand on her cheek and rubbed his thumb over it. Her smile didn’t fade, but it grew a bit wider, in spite of what had just happened to her boyfriend.

“I love you,” she said, kissing him again and burrowing her head into the crook of his neck.

“I love you too,” George whispered into her ear.

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“Happy Monday!” Cate said as she walked into work the next morning. Both Fred and George looked disgusted that someone could be so happy about Monday. But every Monday morning, Cate came into work in a perfectly happy mood.

“Oh, I stopped by Verity’s flat this morning. She’s not feeling too well, so she’s not coming into work today,” she said as she hung her purse on the coat rack behind the counter.

“Wonderful,” Fred muttered sarcastically. “We have Miss Peppy to ourselves today.” George nodded with the same sarcasm as his twin. Fred put down the box he had been sorting through and walked over to Cate.

“Okay, today, we want you to stay on the floor, got it?” Fred said.

“Yes,” Cate said, catching the hint that her mood was overkill. “But I can understand English. You don’t have to talk to me like I’m four.” With those words, Cate greeted the customers had just come in the door.

“Did she just…talk back to me?” Fred said, dumbfounded.

“Yes, I think she did,” George said.

----------

George walked Cate home from work that evening. He fingered an impulse buy that was sitting in his pocket, just waiting to be used. Looking around, he decided now would be as good of a time as any. No, no. He’d wait a few more moments. Cate took his hand as she unlocked the door to her flat.

“Do you want to come in?” she said, holding the door opened for him. He nodded and stepped inside, shivering at the neatness of her apartment.

“Is something bothering you, George?”

“No, no. It’s just so…clean.”

“That’s the way I like it.” Cate walked into her kitchen to get them something to drink while George pondered. He took the velvet box out of his back pocket and opened it. The ring certainly was beautiful, and he wouldn’t give her anything that wasn’t. The band was gold and had one simple diamond in the center.

“Here you go,” Cate said, shaking George from his thoughts and handing him a glass of water.

“Thank you,” George said, not thinking about the ring he was holding. Cate was looking at it, unbeknownst to him.

“That’s a pretty ring,” she said.

“Oh, er, yeah.”

“Who’s it for?”

“You,” George said.

“What?”

“I want you to marry me.” He held the box out to her. “Right now.”

“Right now?” she said.

“Yes.”

“Right now? As in, right now at this very moment?”

“Precisely.”

Cate smiled. Her spontaneous personality was going to come in handy now. She kissed George as he blindly put the ring on her finger.

“Yes, I’ll marry you,” she said.

“Right now?”

“Yes, right now.” She laughed as she said this. George took her by the hand, dropped the box on the sofa, and led her out of her own door.

“Where are we going?” Cate said as he dragged her through Diagon Alley and into London.

“Right here,” he said as they arrived in front of a building just outside the Leaky Cauldron. It was the Muggles’ ‘City Hall’. He had seen couples come out of the building with marriage licenses.

“Are you sure we should do this?” Cate said as she watched a couple leave the building with a certificate of marriage in hand. George nodded and pulled her through the doors of the building.

“Are you sure that you want to do this?” George whispered as they waited in line at the receptionist’s desk. Cate nodded with a smile on her face as George wrapped his arm around her shoulders. As the couple in front of them walked down the hall, George walked up to the desk.

“What can I do for you, sweetheart?” the older-looking woman behind the desk said.

“We’d like a marriage license,” George said.

“Down the hall, first door on the right. Congratulations!”

“Thank you,” Cate said as they headed down the hall.

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“We have to tell someone eventually, you know,” Cate said the next morning as they ate breakfast. They had spent their first night married at her flat. George spit his milk and cereal back in the bowl, spraying some of the liquid on Cate.

“Very polite,” she said, wiping her face off with a napkin.

“I’d rather go to Hell than tell my parents that I eloped,” George said.

“Hey, you’re the one who suggested that we run away and get married.”

“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean that I want to face my parents.”

“I’m going to tell my parents.”

“Good luck with that.”

“Gee, thanks for the support, honey.”

“Any time, dear.”

Cate slowly raised her coffee mug to her lips and took a sip of the piping hot liquid. She blinked from its heat as she swallowed it. George couldn’t help but smile. Cate raised her eyebrow and looked to his ring finger.

“Are you going to wear your wedding band?” she said.

“Are you?”

“Yes.”

“No.”

“Why aren’t you going to wear your ring?”

“I really don’t feel like explaining to Fred a, why I wasn’t there last night, and b, why I’m wearing a wedding ring.”

“So you’re afraid?”

“No.”

“I’ll remember that when you don’t tell Fred where you were last night.” When she had walked down the hall to change for work, George stuck his tongue out at her childishly.

Chapter 5: What If?
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“Where were you last night?” Fred said as George walked in that morning. Cate was following close behind him and he was loosely holding her hand. Raising his eyebrow, Fred walked over to the newly wed couple.

“I did something reckless,” George said, looking over to Cate who was blushing sheepishly. He could feel one of the classic, stupid Weasley grins sliding onto his face as Fred opened his mouth.

“What did you do?”

“We, er, Cate and I, we—” George started.

“We got married,” Cate finished, smiling widely. Fred dropped the Skiving Snack Boxes that he had been taking over to the shelf and looked at his twin. Tension was running high and George could feel it. It was beginning to rub off some of his wedded bliss.

“You did what?” Fred said, as though he hadn’t heard what his employee had just said. George and Cate scrambled to Fred in order to assist him in picking up the spilled sweets.

“We got married,” George repeated, using Cate’s exact words.

“How long have you two known each other?”

“Over a year,” Cate said.

“Have you even dated?”

“Yes; for six months,” George said. Fred shrugged and went back to work.

“He seems angry,” Cate whispered. George also shrugged and joined Fred in restocking some items while Cate greeted the customers who were beginning to pour in.

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Sitting in bed at Cate’s that night; he picked up a book on her night stand. The title informed him that the book was about how to tell a fake marriage license from a real one. He shrugged off the assumption that their marriage certificate was a fake and waited for her to finish getting ready for bed.

“George,” Cate said, looking at their marriage license and then at him. She sat down next to him, bending one of her legs in a way that made the edge of that foot touch the inside of her thigh. He looked up at her as she continued to examine the piece of paper.

Putting his hand comfortingly on her thigh, he said: “It’s not a phony. I wouldn’t have paid for a phony.”

“It is a fake, though. Look,” she said. Upon looking where she had pointed her long finger, he read that it was valid only in France. In addition to this discovery, he noted that it was supposed to have been issued in France as well.

“They even spelled your name wrong,” she said, pointing to where it said “Wesley” instead of “Weasley”. Sighing, she looked out her bedroom window at the passersby. George looked around the spotless room while Cate people watched.

“Cate?” he said.

“Mhmm,” she replied absently.

“Why is everything so clean?”

“What do you mean?” Her attention snapped to her boyfriend quizzically.

“It’s just so…not dirty.”

“Well, no. I don’t like it dirty.”

“It’s so…unnaturally clean.”

“What’s wrong with clean?” Her tone was becoming defensive now.

“I don’t know; I guess that I’m not the cleanest person. I mean, I don’t like four inches of dust on my dresser, but if it’s a thin film I don’t worry too much about it.”

“Well, I don’t like even a thin film of dust.”

“Merlin’s pants, Cate! Lighten up about cleanness!”

“Go to bed!” she ordered.

“Since when are you the boss?”

“Good night, George.” With those words, she crawled under the blankets and switched off the light. Since she was turned around, George stuck his tongue out at her from behind.

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“I’m sorry about last night,” George said as he woke up the next morning. He put his hand on Cate’s side of the bed, only to find that she wasn’t there. He sat up and looked around the room, as though perhaps she was simply hiding from him. Still convinced that she was hiding, he looked under the bed.

Damn, she doesn’t even have dust under the bed. 

“What are you doing?” Cate said as she walked into her bedroom. George drew his eyes upward as he sat up. She was fastening a towel around herself and wringing out her wet hair. This made George stand up and walk over to her. Slyly, she moved away from him, sitting on the edge of her bed and knotting her damp hair into a braid.

“Are you trying to tempt me?” George joked as she wrung the end of the braid out and tiny beads of water slid down the part of her chest that was showing.

“Not at all.” Slowly, George walked over to where she was sitting and sat down next to her. He kissed her neck and knew that her eyes were closing as she tried to envelop herself in the moment.

“You are aware that it is ten in the morning, right?” she informed him. He sighed and backed away from her, the taste of the water droplets still on his tongue. Her hand fell to his knee as she rested her damp head on his shoulder. He rested his cheek on her hair and wove his arm under hers in order to place his hand lovingly on her knee.

“I love you,” Cate said, her voice sounded groggy, as though it were ten o’clock at night rather than in the morning.

“I know,” George said, kissing the top of her head. She sighed and stood up, leaving the room after she had taken something from her dresser. He didn’t ask questions and collapsed on his back.

Left alone, his thoughts began to go wild. What if Harry didn’t return and Ginny was left miserable and alone? What if Ron didn’t come back and left his family heartbroken? What if Fred didn’t make it through the war and left George alone to run the shop and alone in general? What if Cate didn’t make it through and left George without someone to love? These what-ifs were becoming evil.

“George?” Cate’s voice was like a life ring. It interrupted his thought process and brought him to the present rather than the future. He didn’t even realize that he was sitting up during his whole what if spasm.

“George, why are you crying?” He held onto her as if she would disintegrate if he let go. He let the salty, painful water droplets fall onto her shoulder as she whispered comforting things in his ear.

“Please don’t cry,” she said softly.

“I can’t help it.” He looked up at her and saw that her brown eyes were clouded with tears that she wouldn’t let fall. The same eyes were curious as to why he could not help but cry.

“I couldn’t stand it if Harry didn’t come back and my sister was left heartbroken. What if my brother doesn’t come back and left my whole family upset? If Fred doesn’t make it through the war, I’ll be left without someone to run the shop with. If you don’t make it…”

“Don’t say that,” Cate said, the tears now flowing down her cheeks. “Nothing will happen to your family…or me. I promise.”

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The winter air bit at George’s face as he held tightly to Cate’s hand. Though many months had passed since his spasm of what-ifs, they still lingered. The only thing he could think of to do was split his time between his loved ones. Most nights he stayed at the flat above Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, but at least one day during the weekends, he stayed with Cate. He even found time to go to the Burrow with Fred. On this January evening, he was taking his fiancée to meet his family. They had agreed to continue with their plan to marry, but some details still needed to be smoothed over.

“What if they don’t like me?” Cate said as they walked through Ottery St. Catchpole, simply to have some time alone before it was time to go to his childhood home. George laughed at her worry.

“How couldn’t they like you? I love you.” He leaned over and kissed her icy cheek. This seemed to make her smile a bit and look up at the towering house in front of them.

“Is that where you used to live?”

“Yes. Are you ready?”

“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”

Chapter 6: A Reason For Being
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“I’m going to be sick,” Cate whispered hastily as George knocked his fist against the rickety door.

“No you aren’t,” he whispered back. “Hey, Mum!” Cate suddenly put a smile on her face, yet clung tighter to George’s hand causing him to believe that her smile was a fake one.

“You must be Cate,” Mrs. Weasley said, cocking her head to the side and grinning.

“Yes,” Cate said, her tone awkward. George laughed as his mother tried to pull Cate into the house. It was only then that she realized she was standing still and about to walk into a house full of laughing redheads. He kept his laughter to himself when he looked down to find her glaring at him.

“C’mon, Cate. Be nice to them,” George whispered jokingly in her ear as he pushed her the rest of the way in the house. The welcoming feel of togetherness overcame him, as did the scent of treacle tart baking in the oven.

“I’m Charlie,” the stocky and freckled redhead standing closest to the door said as he stuck his hand out for Cate to shake. He must have shaken her hand rather hard, for she snapped her wrist a few times to loosen it up.

“Hullo, Charlie,” George said, giving his brother a hug. He looked up at Fred, who was still snickering at Cate’s resistance to entering the house. As the rest of the family, save Ron and Ginny, introduced themselves to Cate, George could see anger burning behind her brown eyes. This anger told him that once he took her home that night, there would be hell to pay.

“Tell us a little bit about yourself,” Mr. Weasley said as they all sat down at the table for a Saturday supper. Cate looked at George as though he was supposed to tell his family a little bit about Cate.

“If I tell them about you,” he whispered, leaning as close to her as possible so that no one would hear what he was going to say. “I’ll tell them that you’re good in bed.” Her eyes went wide and she elbowed his gut with so much force that he coughed for a moment. As his brothers, sister in law, and parents stared at him; he put on a fake smile.

“It’s a joke,” he said, nodding. Cate gave him a strange look and then smiled sweetly.

“Well, my father is a Muggle,” she said. George wanted to smack himself for that.

“Really?” Mr. Weasley said, genuinely intrigued. “So, how exactly does an automobile function if it isn’t bewitched?”

Cate looked utterly frightened at this. She looked to George, unsure of what she was supposed to say to that.

“Well, I don’t really know. I don’t drive; I’m sorry,” she said. Mr. Weasley’s wrinkles softened in defeat as he dug into his dinner.

“Do you have any siblings?” Bill asked with his mouth partially full of steak. His part-Veela wife looked partly disgusted.

“Oh, yes. I have an eleven year old brother,” she said. George laughed as she said this. She had showed him a picture and her brother was one of the most awkward looking children he had ever seen. There was no other word to describe Cate’s almost look a like brother. The boy had the same blonde hair and brown eyes, but had freckles, glasses, and a tall, lanky figure in addition to that.

“What are you laughing at George?” Mrs. Weasley said, looking at her son. He knew that he would get the “I thought I raised you better” speech after dinner.

“He thinks that my brother is ‘awkward looking’ simply because he’s tall and wears glasses. But it’s okay, I suppose, as long as he doesn’t say anything in front of Mark.”

Mrs. Weasley still looked a bit disappointed in her son.

“What’s it like having a brother who’s so much younger than you?” Fred said.

“I don’t really know because I don’t have any siblings closer to my age.”

Conversation went on for two hours. It made George happy that his family was accepting Cate as part of it. They accepted that she would be a part of their family even if they had only just met her.

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“They don’t like me,” Cate said as she and George lay in bed that night. He sighed; they had already been over this at least one hundred times since they left the Burrow. He comfortingly ran his fingers through her hair as he tried to gain eye contact with her.

“They like you, Cate. I don’t know where you’re getting that idea from,” he said.

“But they won’t like me if they find out that you stay here sometimes. They’ll really hate me then.”

“They don’t have to find out.”

“But still, they’ll hate me when we get married. They’ll want to go after me with pitchforks.” He chuckled heartily at this.

“Just go to sleep. We can talk in the morning.”

“I don’t want to go to sleep.” George wrapped his arms around her and pulled her tightly to him. She exhaled and burrowed her head into his chest. Her words were incoherent as she slowly drifted off to sleep. Holding her body to his was oddly comforting. It made him feel as though he had a reason, other than running a joke shop, to be in this world. He had someone to love and who wanted to love him. He had someone who he held dear. He had someone he could tell anything to, even things he didn’t want to tell Fred. He had someone who appreciated him for just being himself, even if he wasn’t being funny.

“I love you,” he whispered, even if she couldn’t hear him.

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“Good morning,” Cate said as George sat up. She was sitting up in bed with a book in her lap. Luckily, this one wasn’t about how to tell a fake marriage license from a real one. This one was about planning a wedding.

“’Morning,” he said, kissing the top of her head as he looked over her shoulder at the book. This page was about elopements and it caused George to start laughing. Cate didn’t look at him, but continued reading.

“So what made you ‘marry’ me over the summer?” he said, attempting to stop laughing. She gingerly put the book down in front of her, closing it as she did so. Looking thoughtfully up at George, she bit her lip in thought.

“This is war, and you don’t know what will happen tomorrow. You take risks you wouldn’t usually take…and that’s what happened. When you love someone and don’t know if they’ll be alive tomorrow, you do whatever you can to be with them,” she said, leaning to rest her head on George’s shoulder.

Chapter 7: Battle. War. Hogwarts.
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“Good morning,” Cate said as she walked out of the bedroom one spring morning. Though it was late in the spring, the heat was already rising to summer temperatures. The sun hanging high in the sky didn’t help matters of heat either. He tapped his spoon on the edge of the bowl impatient for his hunger to kick in.

“What’s wrong?” she asked as she sat down across from him and put some fruit in her bowl. It almost made him feel nauseous to watch as she popped the juicy, red strawberry in her mouth. Her eyes were wide with concern as she continued to nibble on the berry.

“I feel like something bad is going to happen today,” George admitted. Cate opened her eyes wider with curiosity. A small, innocent smirk was played out upon her rosy lips. The spring breeze hit the back of his head gently, but he didn’t let this bother him. He really did feel as though something terrible was bound to happen. His gut sank every time he thought about it, and he couldn’t stop thinking about it.

“Are you okay?” Concern filled her soft eyes when she realized that he was not playing a joke or kidding. Her gentle hand fell to his comfortingly, but it brought no reassurance.

“No,” he confessed as Cate shoved the tart fruit in his mouth. He swallowed it unwillingly, but this was obviously enough to satisfy her. Sometimes, she reminded him of a mother who was worried sick about her child. Cate always made sure he was fed and well rested. He hated it at times, like now, but loved that she cared so much most of the time.

“Maybe you should go back to bed,” she suggested when he didn’t eat anymore after being force fed.

“I’m fine.”

“You don’t look so good. You look a bit flushed. I really think that you should go back to bed.”

“I have to work today, and so do you.”

“Don’t you deserve a day off sometimes? I am convinced that you’re sick, George.”

“I’m fine, okay. I just have a bad feeling about today.”

Cate said nothing, but looked at her bowl to avoid eye contact. Sighing, George stood up.

“I’m going to get dressed.”

He couldn’t stand being in that kitchen for much longer. The fact that Cate seemed down in the dumps with him was bad enough, but in addition to his gut feeling, it combined to make a deadly compound in his brain.

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Battle. War. Hogwarts. Those three words echoed through his mind with the visions of the various people who had spoken them in the last year. Fred had said ‘battle’ most recently…before it happened. Now, George was staring at his twin’s face. Fred’s lips were curled the way they did when he laughed. His eyes sparkled as though he was laughing at the face of death.

Tears fell on Fred’s lifeless face. George knew he had been there far too long for his own good, but he couldn’t leave Fred alone. If it was him lying dead, he wouldn’t want to be alone.

“George?” He felt a hand fall onto his shoulder. He looked at the bodies around him. Many of the ones that had been there were gone. Those were alone, seeing as the wanted bodies had been claimed.

“Mum wants—Mum wants to…his body.” Ginny’s voice stalled before she said ‘body’. George looked up at his sister. It almost killed him inside to see her the way she was. Her eyes were bloodshot, the beautiful brown hue of them barely visible under the tears that were clouding her eyes.

“Will he be alone?” George said, his voice faltering as he looked away from his sister and down at his twin. The courageous smile was forever imprinted into his mind at this point in time. Never would a day pass without that image going through his mind.

“I suppose so.” Ginny’s voice cracked as she sniffled.

“Then Mum can’t have him.” It sounded ridiculous, but he wasn’t letting Fred go anywhere if he had to be alone.

“George…” Ginny sat down next to him and kept her eyes glued to her living brother, avoiding her dead one at all costs. It was as though she wanted to avoid the inevitable.

“He can’t be alone!”

“He’s…he’s dead.”

“So?”

“He needs to go with Mum and Dad so that he can be…be buried at his funeral tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?” His throat was dry and the world had stopped. Nothing was moving and nothing had happened. All was at a complete standstill. Even the bursting ball of energy that was his sister sat still.

“It doesn’t seem real,” Ginny said once both of their tears had run out. They sat silently once more, both with stinging eyes from so many salty tears. He shook his head and watched as his other brothers, parents, and Harry came over to George and Ginny. He noted that his mother was not with them.

“We really need to take Fred,” Bill said as Percy and Ron tried to comfort a visibly broken Mr. Weasley. Percy looked as though his mind was racing with thoughts that it was his fault that Fred had been killed. George defiantly shook his head, refusing the offer for the second time.

“You can’t leave him here,” Ron said as Mr. Weasley kneeled down next to his dead son.

“I’m not going to leave him here. He can’t be alone,” George informed his family.

“George,” Percy said, showing some pity toward his brother for once. “He won’t be alone when you let him go. He’ll be with the others who have passed on.”

More tears welled up in George’s blue eyes as he looked sternly into Percy’s.

“I can’t do that. He can’t be buried.” He looked to his other siblings and Harry for some back up on the matter.

“He has to be buried, George,” Charlie said intensely.

“Tell your mother that…that she can take him,” Mr. Weasley said slowly, without making eye contact with any of his children. He avoided George with extra care.

“Just do it,” he ordered when none of his children moved. George watched in agony as Bill held Fred’s body in his muscular arms and Apparated away. He automatically stood up, but was barred by Charlie.

“You can’t do this!” George shouted when Ron grabbed his other arm. He put up a weak fight with his brothers before sitting on the ground once more, his head in his hands.

“You…can’t…do this,” he said as more tears began to fall.

Chapter 8: One Last Look
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The house was somber. As he lay in Charlie’s old bedroom, he stared at the ceiling. He would have stayed in his old bedroom…but Fred…Fred…He angrily turned over in bed, burying his head in his pillow to escape the bright morning light. However bright the sun was shining, it was the precise amount of sadness that was filtering through the typically happy household.

A soft tap came at the door.

“George, it’s Cate. Can I come in?” Her voice was gentle and understanding, yet George wanted to scream at her. What had she lost? She had lost nothing. Nothing at all. She hadn’t even lost dignity for all he knew.

“Go away!” he shouted. He took the pillow away from himself and stood at the door, for he knew that she would just open it against his will.

“Please let me in,” she pleaded. George heard heavy footsteps pounding down the hall and in front of the door next to Cate.

“Open then damn door, George!” Ron said, pushing at it.

“Thank you,” Cate said when Ron had wedged the door opened it. She shut it behind her and looked at George. She looked bedraggled and as though she hadn’t slept or showered the night before. Her hair was thrown carelessly into a ponytail as though she had dressed in a hurry.

“I want you to leave,” George ordered, his voice dangerously low. He pointed to the door and to his dismay, Cate simply sat on the bed. Upon closer inspection of his fiancée, he noticed that her brown eyes were bloodshot from lack of sleep and from crying.

“I’m not leaving you alone like this.” She gingerly placed her hand on his cheek, looking into his eyes for an answer of some sort. Her eyes were filled with concern as George attempted to turn away from her.

“Please don’t do this to me,” she pleaded.

“Do what?! I’m not doing anything!”

“Yes you are. You’re acting like a completely different person. I understand that you’re depressed about Fred, but you…you can’t live your life like this.”

Angrily, George stood up and paced the room. Cate followed him with her eyes.

“How is your family?” he asked, albeit bitterly.

“They—they’re all fine.”

“Good for you.”

“George—”

“Go!”

With that command, Cate looked at him helplessly and left. George let out an agonized grunt and forced himself onto the bed with too much exertion. He didn’t care when the bed creaked loudly beneath him. How is it that he always drove the people who cared about him away when he needed them?

“George?” Another soft tap came on the door, but it wasn’t Cate’s voice that accompanied it. He grunted in response. The caller apparently took that grunt as a ‘you may came in’ for Percy walked in the door. Never had George seen Percy show emotion, but he was standing before George with puffy eyes and crust around his blue eyes from tears.

“What do you want?” George snapped.

“We don’t need you around if you’re going to act like this. No one wants to deal with your anger; we’re all angry and upset, all right? Just go home and get cleaned up for the funeral. Mum doesn’t need everyone to be down in the dumps,” Percy ordered. George narrowed his eyes at his least favorite brother, but followed his instructions.

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“George?”

“What are you doing here?”

Cate’s half-hearted grin faded and she stepped away from George. She wrung her hands anxiously as he walked over to his dresser, looking for something suitable to wear to the funeral.

“I—I was worried about you,” Cate stuttered. He heard the clicking of her heeled shoes grow closer to him. Looking to his left, he saw that she was standing next to him. Lovingly, she placed her hand on his shoulder. Again, she smiled. It was a kind of smile that was supposed to be comforting, but it wasn’t. It just reminded him of Fred; the first time he had seen Cate’s smile was with Fred.

“Yeah? Well don’t worry about me, okay?”

“Why not? I love you, George; I’m going to worry about you.”

“Just…just don’t. I have a mother, you know.” She drew her hand from his shoulder and her smile faded from her rose colored lips. Her eyes formed watery tears as she watched him throw things from his bureau and onto the floor. She turned away as he threw a glass cologne bottle to the ground.

“Don’t do this, George,” she pleaded, flicking her wand to pick the shattered pieces of glass and the spilt liquid from the dirty floor. The glass pieces came back together to form the crystal bottle once more and the liquid mopped itself up.

“I’m not doing anything!” he shouted as he fastened the buttons on one of the nicer sets of robes that he owned.

“Let’s just go.” Cate rolled her eyes as George took her hand so that they could Side-Along Apparate to the place where he would see his twin one last time.

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“I can’t do this Cate,” he whispered when they reached the front of the Burrow. She gave his hand a reassuring squeeze, which surprised him. For being angry with him, she was being a big comfort to him. Though, knowing his recent luck, he would likely be in deep trouble with her when they got back to wherever it was they were going after the memorial service.

“It’s okay. You’ll be fine. Just cry if you need to; I’ll be here if you need me,” she said as she straightened the collar on his deep blue cloak. Her lips gently brushed his cheek as she took his hand again, giving it yet another reassuring squeeze.

“I already am crying. Look at me, I’m a train wreck.” Cate looked at him with a sad gleam in her usually happy eyes.

“C’mon, your family needs you.” She tugged on his hand and they walked as slowly as they could without going backwards. He examined as many things as he could without looking straight ahead. Instead of looking where he was going, he let Cate be his guide as to where he was going.

George swallowed hard when he realized that Cate had stopped and he had no where to go. The grip she had on his hand was too tight for him to wriggle out of and his mother was walking up to him.

“Oh, George,” Mrs. Weasley sobbed as she held George in a death grip of a hug and sobbed into his robes. Cate’s fingers lingered on the tips of his for a brief moment before she walked away; leaving George feeling lost and scared. If he couldn’t have Fred by his side, he had to have Cate next to him.

He did his best to comfort his mother until Mr. Weasley finished talking to one of their family members. From there, his mum was comforted by his dad, allowing him to go find his fiancée. He found her chatting with one of his many red-headed cousins. He could tell that it was one of his younger cousins, likely about fourteen or fifteen years old. The closer he grew to them, the louder their conversation got. Cate was laughing in a forced manner.

“Now, I don’t think that a funeral is the best place to hit on women. Maybe you should go back to your siblings and parents,” she said nervously, pointing to who George knew to be his Aunt Amelia. Having seen that, he knew that the cousin Cate was talking to was Nathanial.

“Hey there, Nate,” George said, clapping his hand on his rather short cousin’s shoulder. To his own relief, Cate looked as though a weight had just been lifted from her shoulders.

“Hullo. I was just telling her how incredibly curvaceous she is,” Nate said, nodding approvingly at his older cousin as though hitting on someone at a funeral was something to be proud of. Cate’s cheeks were tinged an incredible shade of red from embarrassment or anger, even perhaps both. Her eyes were also wide as though George was supposed to do something; he simply chuckled.

“I see you’ve met my fiancée.”

“Oh, I’m sorry!” Nate scurried off after that. Cate smiled as he ran off to his mother and George took her hand.

“Hey, I didn’t think you were supposed to laugh at funerals,” she said. This was when his somewhat good mood stopped. He was in front of Fred’s casket. Looking down at his twin lying there, cold and dead, was agonizing. He held Cate’s hand tighter yet as he traced the lines of Fred’s now-clean face. The dimples in his cheeks looked as though he had just smiled and was waiting for George to crack the next part of the joke. Oddly enough, he couldn’t look away.

“George, are you okay?” Cate said softly as his tears began to fall for the first time that day. He shook his head, but didn’t look to his girlfriend. Instead, he kept his eyes glued to his brother’s lifeless body. The dull blue eyes and the eerie smile would forever be haunting George’s memory, yet he couldn’t look away. This was the last time that he would see Fred’s face.

The rest of the funeral was a blur of tears and sobs to George. He remembered people coming up to him and giving him their condolences. He remembered Cate kissing his cheek and telling him that it would be okay. He remembered Ginny crying into his chest and he remembered his mother never moving away from Fred’s casket. Now, it was time to say his last goodbye. He watched, terrified, as Bill and Charlie put the lid over Fred’s dead body. Something in George made him dart out of his seat.

“Don’t!” he shouted as Cate tried to get him to sit down. When she saw what he wanted, she gently let go, allowing him to walk up to his brothers. He tilted the lid up from the casket and touched Fred’s face one last time. Then, he put the lid back on and told a confused Bill and Charlie to go away. Flicking his wand, a six foot deep Fred-sized hole was made in the ground, causing the dirt to fly around the garden. It luckily avoided the guests in attendance to the funeral. He could hear sobs behind him as Percy stood up and took one end of the casket.

“You can’t do this alone,” Percy whispered so that only George could hear. George nodded and they picked the casket up, dropping it into the hole as gently as possible. It was Percy who flicked his wand this time and the dirt covered the hole that George had made. They each turned around and sat down in their seats, surrounded by sobs and people blowing their noses on handkerchiefs.

“I need to get out of here, Cate,” George said quietly. She nodded and they walked away from the gathering of ginger heads.

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“Can I get you anything?” she said after she had taken them back to her apartment.

“Yes, something strong,” he requested. Cate laughed but came back with coffee, not the kind of strong he had been suggesting. He gratefully took in spite that it wasn’t what he wanted.

“It’s going to be all right.” Her voice was kind and understanding as she placed her hand comfortingly on his thigh. He placed his mug next to hers on the coffee table and held her close, crying into her shoulder. She held her hand on the back of his neck and gently rubbed his back with the other.

“Shh, it’s okay,” she whispered as she kissed his cheek.

When his tears ran out, he still held tightly to Cate. She let him cling to her for a few extra moments until she pulled away. Though she didn’t break physical contact with him, he still felt cold and alone.

“George, I want you to stay here with me until you’re back to yourself. I can’t let you stay alone like this,” Cate said solemnly, running her fingers through his hair and resting her hand on his cheek.

“I can take care of myself,” he argued.

“I know that, but what if…what if you get too depressed and you don’t have anyone around? I could never forgive myself for that.”

“But it wouldn’t be your fault. It’d be my fault.”

“Still, I would have to live every day knowing that I could have intervened. Please, just do this for my sanity if you won’t do it for yours.”

“All right. I’ll stay here, but only for a few months.”

Cate smiled her first genuine smile of the day and hugged George, kissing his cheek as she did.

“Thank you.”

Chapter 9: The First Time
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His breathing was sharp as the warm, salty tears fell onto the photo album before him. Though it was hard to see the photographs in the dark living room, George was staring at the childhood photo book that Mrs. Weasley had complied of Fred and George. He was looking at the page that held moving pictures of Fred and George after their first major punishment; it was for nearly making Ron take an unbreakable vow. As funny as it was, he couldn’t bring himself to laugh, let alone smile.

“George?” Cate’s voice startled him and he dropped the leather bound book to the floor. He quickly turned around from his position on the sofa to look at her. She was standing in the door frame that separated the living area and the small hall, her arms around her ribcage as she stood. Her eyes were brimming with concern for the broken man before her. He motioned for her to come over to him.

“It’s three in the morning; you really should come to bed,” she said softly as she placed her hand on his shoulder lovingly. She then leaned over and picked up the picture album, opening it on her lap. George quickly shut it, causing Cate to look at him with a confused expression on her face. He stared back, his eyes empty and lost.

“Don’t scare me like that,” he solemnly ordered, causing her to remove her hand from his shoulder. She sighed heavily and looked at George, her eyes intense.

“Please don’t start this again. You’ve been doing so well for the past month.” He felt her hand rubbing circles on his back as if to encourage him to act the way he did before that awful battle. Bodies still hadn’t been claimed, even though it was nearly two months after the battle. Therefore, the memorial service had been postponed until all of the bodies were claimed and identified. The tears began to spill because he knew that some of those people never would be identified and that they would never get the respect they deserved.

“Don’t cry,” Cate pleaded, holding him tightly and allowing him to cry onto her shoulder. The calming effect her voice had on him soon played its part and the tears stopped falling, his breath becoming finally steady.

“You know what I think would be good for you?” she asked, her voice gentle. He raised his eyebrow to tell her that he was confused. “I think that you need to go back to the shop.” His heart sunk and his face turned a ghastly white.

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“We have to go now?” George said, attempting to put off his first visit to his shop since his twin’s death. Cate always went to work instead of him and she brought home inventory checks and things that he needed to do. He simply couldn’t bring himself to go into that shop.

“Yes, now,” Cate told him, as she looked at her watch. He knew the time for he had just asked her a couple of minutes prior. It would be nearly eight o’clock in the morning now. Though the sun was shining brightly in the blue sky and children were running around the streets whilst their parents tried to control them, George felt cold and numb inside.

“C’mon, your family is there to support you,” she whispered, for they were standing in front of the doors. He swallowed back the nausea took the gold key from Cate. She smiled softly and allowed him to take the lead. He pushed the key in the door, smiling in a bittersweet day as he felt his Cate’s hand on his back, supporting him mentally and physically. Briefly, he looked at his fiancée who was standing next to him with a reassuring grin. That was enough encouragement for him to open the door. When he did, his siblings and parents were standing in front of the staircase that led to the flat above.

“I’m over here, unless you’re waiting to see the stairs,” George joked. His family suddenly turned around and enveloped him in a Weasley bear hug. Even Harry and Hermione were part of this; when he saw that Cate was smiling from the outside, he took her hand and pulled her in between himself and Charlie.

“I love you,” she whispered so that only he could hear.

“Now let’s play Quidditch!” Ron said as they all broke apart. Something about this made Cate start laughing so hard that she had to lean on George for support.

“Do they seriously think that’s what we do? Play games?” she whispered, still fighting her bouts of laughter. She took a deep breath and stood up to her full height, calming down slightly. Now was one of those times when he had to wonder why he loved her.

“We thought you would come in that way, dear,” Mrs. Weasley said, trying to veer the subject from Cate’s sporadic fit of laughter. She pointed to the door that had stairs behind it and led up to the above flat. George knew now that he had the choice of a smart ass comment or to flush of all color and let Cate answer the informal question.

“Mum, Dad, everyone, this is my roommate,” he said, pushing Cate in front of him. She clung to his hand tightly, disabling him from pushing her too far in front of him.

“Hi,” Cate said, waving her hand in a nervous manner. The room fell silent and George looked from his mother’s disappointed and angry face to his father’s thoughtful one. He started laughing nervously as though this would spark someone to say something, anything. Then, he eyed Ron who would have to be the second loudest of the Weasley children. Ron’s blue eyes were looking down at Hermione as if she had an answer for everything. He next looked at Ginny but she was staring straight ahead at their parents, waiting for their reaction. Bill locked his eyes with George and mouthed a statement that he knew meant ‘say something’.

“This is a bit awkward,” Ron said after what seemed like millenniums had passed.

“Well, if you two love each other and are going to be married,” Mr. Weasley began before his wife glared at him angrily. This was when George knew that he needed to either run or face the facts.

“I mean that is an incredibly irrational and ridiculous thing to do,” Mr. Weasley corrected himself. Cate gently tugged on his sleeve, causing him to look down at her.

“Maybe I should go,” she whispered, looking straight ahead. George tightened his grip on her so that she wouldn’t leave and rolled his eyes causing her to become slightly angry. He could tell from the way her jaw was clenched; this was something he noticed she did when she was even the slightest bit angered by something.

“You’re not going anywhere,” he said, copying her whisper as his mum began ranting about this to his dad.

“You can’t tell me what to do and what not to do.” Her tone was becoming passionately angry as she loosened her grip on his sleeve. She drew her eyes to his.

“ARTHUR! THEY LIVE WITH EACH OTHER AND AREN’T MARRIED! AM I SUPPOSED TO BE RATIONAL ABOUT IT?!” Mrs. Weasley shouted, causing a slight uproar between the Weasleys as George and Cate’s whisper-argument intensified.

“C’mon, Mum. Times have changed,” Bill commented in an attempt to calm the room.

“If you want to keep your hair as it is, I’d keep it quiet if I were you,” Ron muttered to his eldest brother.

“RONALD!”

George and Cate’s argument stopped when the room fell into a deathly silence and then suddenly louder than a Weird Sisters’ concert. Her brown eyes grew wide in shock as each Weasley yelled something rude to another. She seemed most shocked when Ginny called Percy a bastard when he told her that she should stay out of the family feud.

Ginny then slapped him across the jaw while Harry tried to hold her back. Ron then came behind Percy whilst Hermione tugged on Ron’s coat sleeve.

“Let me go, ‘Mione! He knows what’s coming!” he yelled.

From that point, the day was a blur. All George knew was that now that he was sitting at home with a bruise under his eye and that Cate was holding a cold towel to it. She kissed his cheek and placed her hand on his forehead, leaving the towel on his cheek.

“Are you okay? Ron gave you a nasty blow,” she whispered softly as she placed her hand back on the rag to hold it in place. He nodded and put his hand on top of hers.

“I should be asking you that question. You were just stuck in the middle of a wee argument between my family.” She laughed quietly and kissed the top of his nose lovingly.

“Your mum was rather upset about us living together,” Cate commented after a few moments of silence passed. “I mean, we’re going to be living together the rest of our lives, so, no offense, should she get used to it?” She rambled on for a while before George put his hand on her cheek and kissed her tenderly.

“Just shut up,” he joked.

Chapter 10: Car Trip
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“George, c’mon, it’s just my parents. You’re not meeting the Minister of Magic!” Cate exclaimed as she tied George’s tie for him. Her fingers moved swiftly, though he wasn’t paying much attention to that. When Cate saw that he was having trouble with his tie that he had not one reason to wear, she stopped buttoning her top in order to help him. His thoughts were not on what was coming out of her mouth but rather on her chest.

“What did I just tell you?” she demanded as she buttoned her shirt the rest of the way and took his tie off, throwing the bright orange piece of fabric on the bed as though it was worthless.

“That’s right, I already know the Minister,” he grunted. Cate rolled her eyes, fed up, and flicked her wand. This action sent her coat from the closet and into her arms. She glared at George, waiting for him to finish getting dressed. Mumbling curses under his breath, he buckled his belt, taking his own coat off the bed. The curses weren’t only retaliation from Cate’s bitterness, but fear for his life. She was going to drive. She was going to drive him all the way from London to Surrey. Maybe it wasn’t too terribly long, but this trip would last a lifetime.

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“The map says to go left here, Cate,” George said, pointing viciously and poking the window with his index finger so hard that he wanted to yelp. He shoved the now crinkled map over to Cate, who subsequently ignored him and missed the turn. She had now driven in a complete circle around a street in some run down town.

“I know where I am going!” she shouted, giving a driver who honked at her a rude hand gesture. She then proceeded to rant, using words that George had never before heard a woman use. If there were a word or a phrase to describe the way she was cursing, it would be ‘she had the mouth of a sailor’.

“Really, you need to go left.”

“GOD DAMN IT, GEORGE! I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING AND WHERE IN THE HELL I’M GOING! DO YOU THINK I DON’T KNOW WHERE MY OWN PARENTS’ HOUSE IS?!”

She took a deep breath and continued going straight, making the circle for the fourth time. George rolled his eyes, relaxing in his seat and forgetting about the map. If the driver did not want the help of a map, there was no reason for him to worry about it. Hours could have passed before Cate pulled over, still in the same little town.

“I think I’m going the wrong way,” she said, picking the map up from its resting place on George’s lap. “Why didn’t you tell me that I should’ve turned left?” Sighing, he rested his head on the cold, glass window and tried to fall asleep before he had to deal with anymore of Cate’s lack of listening.

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“We’re here,” Cate said, poking George hard enough to wake up but not hard enough to hurt him. He looked up at the home before him only to find that it was not a home but more of a mansion. Suddenly, he felt ashamed of his childhood home as he stared at where Cate had likely grown up.

“You…you lived here?” he stuttered. She laughed as though it was nothing and nodded as she cut off the engine. He found himself staring at the white columns that stood on either side of the doorway of the massive brick house rather than getting out of the vehicle. It took Cate opening his door for him to realize that he was supposed to get out and get his things out of the trunk of the car. He had forgotten that they were spending the whole weekend at the Millers’.

As he drew his eyes away from the trunk and to the door, a woman much shorter than both Cate and George was walking toward the car and out of the house. The woman looked middle-aged but appeared to be rather fit for her age. When she came nearer to the car, George noted many similarities between Cate and presumably her mother. They shared the same blonde curls and chocolate eyes that always seemed to sparkle.

“You must be George,” the woman said softly as she hugged him. Unsure of what to do, he drew his eyes to Cate who was nodding to encourage him to hug her mother.

“This is my mum, Margaret,” Cate informed George as Mrs. Miller pulled out of the hug and gave her daughter a quick squeeze. It was a loving gesture, though quick. Mrs. Miller took her daughter’s hand and led her into the home, George close on their heels.

When they got into the home, it was much less extravagant than the exterior. Though the things inside the home were a bit nicer than the things in his parents’ home, it seemed more normal and homey. He felt more at ease with the warm colors and simple décor of the room.

“I hope you like chicken and vegetables,” Mrs. Miller said kindly as they walked into the kitchen. It did smell rather good, but it was nothing compared to his own mother’s cooking. And on the occasion, it did not compare to Cate’s cooking. George nodded as Cate tugged on his hand gently as if to tell him to answer.

“Mark, come downstairs, love,” Mrs. Miller shouted as he and Cate left the kitchen and she let him upstairs. They met an awkwardly tall boy along the way. A smile grew across his freckled face when he saw Cate.

“Hey,” he said, pushing his glasses further up on his nose as he shook some of his blonde hair out of his eyes.

“Could you show George your room, love? I think I’ll help Mum in the kitchen,” Cate said as she gave Mark her suitcase and smiled at the two. She was gone before George could say anything. Mark seemed unfazed by the fact that George was confused by what was happening. Why was he being showed Mark’s room? Wasn’t he going to stay with Cate?

“George, I take it?” Mark said, sounding a bit old for thirteen. He held his sister’s suitcase tighter in his grip and led George down the hallway. Occasionally, Mark would point out things such as photographs or things that he or Cate had made when they were younger. Cate had made the most god-awful piece of pottery that her parents proudly displayed on a dark wooden table in the hallway outside Mark’s room.
“Well, this is my room. You’ll be staying in here while I sleep on the couch,” Mark grumbled as he dropped Cate’s suitcase on the floor with a loud thud. George was slightly shocked by his soon to be brother-in-law’s behavior. Cate had described him as being sweet and gentle, but the side that George was seeing was everything but.

“Do you not want me here, because I can leave?” George said, not wanting to intrude. He didn’t set his suitcase down but instead stood, rigid, and watched Mark for a reaction of some sort. All he did was glare at George and turn out the door, leaving George shocked. What kind of mess had he gotten himself into by being engaged to Cate?

Chapter 11: Awkard Moments With The Millers
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“George?” Cate said softly. He was still standing in the middle of Mark’s pig-sty of a bedroom with his suitcase in hand. Cate slowly walked over to him and took his luggage from him.

“Yeah?” he said, his reaction delayed. Willingly, he gave her the suitcase and sat down on the bed next to her. Her smile was soft, as though she understood what Mark had done to him. She rested her head on his shoulder and waited for him to talk. Rubbing his arm against her shoulder, he tried to buy some time. He didn’t want to turn her against her brother yet she needed to know how her brother was treating him.
“What did he say to you?”

“He was being a pain in the ass, that’s all.”

“George!” She smacked his arm, causing him to be slightly shocked from the sudden pain.

“What? He was. It’s like he doesn’t want me here.”

“He does so want you here! He told me that he looked forward to meeting you!”

They sat silently for what could have been hours. George kept his eyes locked on Cate as she anxiously twisted her engagement ring around her finger. This seemed to be a habit whenever she was anxious or nervous. He hadn’t noticed until about two weeks prior. Exasperatedly, Cate sighed and looked up at George.

“Look, I know that he may be uncomfortable with you being around because—” Cate began before he cut her off.

“Why would he be uncomfortable? We’re getting married; he ought to get used to my being around,” George huffed.

“You’ll see,” she said, rolling her eyes and dragging George down the stairs for dinner.

The smell of a home cooked meal overtook George’s senses when he came downstairs. Neither Cate nor George had had something cooked in a while. They typically just put a frozen dinner in a Muggle microwave so that they could get some rest after their long days at work.

“This is my dad,” Cate said proudly, presenting a balding, thin man to George. Smiling a large, toothy grin, the man shook his hand.

“I’ve heard so much about you,” Mr. Miller said. “Good things, of course.”

“Good to hear,” George replied, looking over to Cate after Mr. Miller had dropped his hand. She was standing with Mark and whispering something to him incoherently. Mark’s face was pale, as though he was ill and needed to vomit. Cate was lovingly rubbing his back as though to soothe his impending illness.

“Let’s all sit down,” Mrs. Miller suggested, gesturing to the table filled with food from one end to the other. Mark was shaking his head as though he wanted nothing to do with the food on the table. George could tell that Cate was pushing him with all the strength she had and her brother still would not move.

“C’mon, Mark,” Mr. Miller ordered, pulling his son to the table and planting him in a chair.

Mark still didn’t seem well as everyone around him ate. It was as though all food sickened him or he was a vampire, thirsting only for blood. His skin was pale enough to be that of a vampire’s, at least. Something about how…mortified Mark looked made George nervous. Cate seemed a bit anxious as well, though she masked it much better than her brother.

With one hand, she gave George’s arm a squeeze, draping her other arm around Mark’s shoulder comfortingly.

“Do you have a date set?” Mrs. Miller said sweetly as she cut her chicken breast and ate the tiny, delicate bite. George looked to Cate, who was beaming as though she knew something that he did not. This made him more nervous than he was before, but for a completely different reason.

“Tell them, George,” she said, signaling that he was supposed to know the date of their wedding. He spit his mashed potatoes out on his plate, causing Cate and her mother to scrunch their noses up in disgust. Mark seemed to loosen his tension a bit when he saw how informal George was.

“You don’t remember?” she asked.

“Of course I do!” he defended. “I just thought it would be better if you told them.”

“You don’t remember! It’s on June fifteenth. The day we met two years ago,” she said, grinning and looking at George. How could he forget that? One of the easiest dates to remember and he could not recall it.

“That’s in six months!” Mrs. Miller exclaimed, shocked.

“I know, Mum, but…I don’t know.”

“Now, now, Margaret. Cate’s a grown woman. She can make her own decisions,” Mr. Miller butted in. Cate smiled while Mrs. Miller had a defeated expression on her face. She sighed and went back to eating her supper.

“Mark, did you show George the guest room?” Mr. Miller said, trying to start a new conversation. He looked to his youngest child with interest.

“No, Mum told me to show him my room.”

“I think she meant so that he could get the feel of the house. Mark, you know he’s staying in the guest room with me,” Cate said, a bit confused with the whole situation that was presented to her. Relief washed over George knowing that he didn’t have to be alone in such a large house. Again, Mark’s face flushed off the little color it possessed.

“Oh, that’s right!” Mr. Miller exclaimed, his mouth full of food. He spit it out of his mouth and it tumbled onto the plate much to his wife’s and daughter’s disgust. Even George was slightly disgusted at the regurgitated orange mound on his soon to be father in law’s plate.

“Dad,” Cate warned cautiously, holding her fork tensely.

“Catherine, I’m just doing my job.”

George was more perplexed than he had ever been in his life at this point in time. He looked from each of the three anxious Millers and to the one that exuded confidence. Mr. Miller’s face was overcome with child-like pride while his wife looked like the child’s mother after he had done something wrong. Cate’s face was worried, as though her father was going to say something to embarrass her. Mark was pale, as he had been.

“Dad, no,” she repeated, this time much more urgently.

“Catherine Ophelia Miller!”

“Dad!”

“It is my job to ask people about their sex lives!”

The dinner was a blur from there. Everything he could recall played through his head like a film. First, Cate made sure that George hadn’t passed out. From there, he remembered Mrs. Miller rushing to Mark, who had fainted. Someone he didn’t know had come in the door and then…then Cate led him up the stairs, confusing him more yet.

“I’m sorry about that,” Cate said, throwing his suitcase off the large bed and onto the floor with a loud thud. The noise snapped him out of his dreamlike state and back into reality. It was then that he realized he was on a plush bed with a thin canopy of gold fabric hanging over him. Cate opened the curtain and collapsed next to him, visibly angry at her father.

“Erm, it’s…okay?”

“No, no it’s not! He has no business asking anyone except his patients questions like that! It’s rude!” she shouted, as though she wanted her father to hear.

She sighed and rolled onto her back, looking at the iron scrollwork that held the canopy above the bed. Grabbing her hand gently, he kissed her on the cheek. A small smile crept upon her lips as he softly brushed them with his own. Her hand found the back of his neck and her lips molded to his. Then, he pulled out of the kiss leaving Cate with an adorable, at least to him, expression of confusion on her face. Her lip was in the same kind of pout a child put on her mouth when the child didn’t get a toy she wanted.

“If you go too much further than that, I might be tempted,” he explained. Her pout remained as she tried to think of a cunning remark. While concentrating, she bit her lip as though that would bring on a flood of ideas for a comeback. When she turned her head, George knew he was in trouble.

“My father wouldn’t mind,” she muttered before turning her attention back to the golden metal that made up the frame of the opulent bed.

Sighing, he took her hand again and put it to his chest as though it would make her forgive him. She simply turned her head to face the wall opposite George’s half of the bed. Though her fingers remained laced in his, there was still tension in their touch. As Cate turned back to face him, relief was immediate. She was grinning again as she rested her head on his chest.

“We can leave tomorrow morning,” she whispered, a hint of lust in her tone. George closed his eyes as though everything around him was a dream. Oddly, he shook his head. Cate didn’t get to see her family very often and she deserved this chance. She sighed, knowing that she had been defeated, and stepped out of bed to gather her sleeping clothes. She tossed his tee shirt and sweat pants too him before stepping behind the gold trimmed dressing screen to change. Again sighing, he quickly shimmied into his pajamas.

“Good night,” she said softly in his ear as she turned out the lights and snuggled up against him.

She kept her head on his pillow as she entwined her leg around his, causing him to smile. Even though she was angry with him, she still loved him. That was an odd thing about her; even when she was angry, she would somewhat easily forgive. In this case, he’d likely just hear about it once they got home, though. He pushed the thought from his head and smoothed down her soft curls. The texture of them in his fingers was like velvet; so tantalizing, but he knew that he couldn’t.

“I love you,” he whispered into her ear. In return, she kissed his chest lovingly before she allowed her lips to touch the crook of his neck. Though he smiled, they both knew that now wasn’t the time or place. At least, he hoped that she saw that. Her soft snores filled the air and he realized that now would be a good time to fall asleep.

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“Oh Mum! It’s beautiful!” Cate’s muffled voice exclaimed. Disoriented, George groped around for her hand, only to find that he was alone in the bed that was too large for even two people. He got up and changed quickly into suitable clothes to show himself in.

Following Cate’s voice proved to lead him into a room with a large, leather sofa and a Muggle contraption called a television. Mark was on the floor cross legged and watching a program that seemed to make him laugh. Cate and her mum were sitting on the couch gaping at jewelry.

“Good morning, love,” Cate greeted blindly as she fingered an old-fashioned pearl necklace. Mark patted the floor next to him for George to sit down. The carpeting was just as soft as the bed he had just rolled out of. Mark handed him an unfamiliar piece of equipment that even Mr. Weasley likely wouldn’t have known about.

“Want to play me?” Mark asked, an excited sparkle in his brown eyes. George shrugged his shoulders and took the contraption that Mark called a controller. It turned out that he was not watching a television show, but playing a ‘video game’. Though rather violent, the game was entertaining. It was a bit fun to kill enemies, though Cate disapproved of the method of entertainment. Perhaps visiting her family wasn’t as bad as it seemed destined to be.

Chapter 12: Training
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“We’re home,” Cate whispered seductively into George’s ear. Her arms were slung around his neck, her lips on his jaw line. Closing his eyes, he gave into Cate’s not so subtle suggestion. Her hands were warm and wanting on his chest, though all she had done was slip them underneath his shirt.

“I’m about to fall asleep, love,” George resisted. He honestly was tired. That video game Mark taught him how to play was exhausting, especially the part where they came face to face with their virtual enemy. Rather than listening to her fiancé, Cate continued kissing his neck and biting his ear.

“I’ll help,” she said, unbuttoning his shirt for him. Sighing, he gave into Cate’s desire. Maybe it would be good for him, considering the stress they’d be under rather soon.

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The bright morning sun did wonders for George’s lack of energy. He was happy, incredibly happy, but he was still tired. Looking over to Cate, he smiled. Her face was buried in her pillow and she was hugging the blankets to her body. Soft, muffled snores came from her mouth and nose as she slept. Unknowingly, George placed his hand on her head, finger through her tangled mess of curls.

He couldn’t help but smile. He was happiest with Cate and if he could, he would marry her at that moment. Rolling onto his side, he wrapped his arm around her waist. Burying his head in the crook of Cate’s neck, he kissed the smooth skin upon it softly. She laughed softly, signaling George that she had woken up. She turned over onto her back and placed her hand on his cheek.

“Good morning,” George whispered against her hair.

She smiled as he kissed her cheek, slowly allowing his lips to find hers. Her hand remained upon his cheek as she gently rubbed his face with her thumb. The action put a soothing spell over George’s body, though he was fully rested. Just as her voice put that same spell upon him, her touch did at times as well.

“Did you sleep well?” she asked quietly as she fingered his ginger locks. He nodded before he broke out of her grip. Today, unfortunately, was Monday. Though he could hear Cate sighing in resistance, he knew that she knew that they needed to go to work. Besides, Ron needed training for his job. George had hired Ron to help around the shop upon Cate’s insistence.

“What’re you going to wear today?” Cate said as she hugged his bathrobe around her half naked body. Turning around, George faced her for he knew that she would wind up picking something for him anyway. A grin broke across her face and she gestured for him to choose. George shook his head. How could someone change her mind so often? He felt her lips on his cheek and then she was gone. Shaking his head, he smiled.

“Hurry up! It’s almost seven fifty!” Cate shouted. That meant ten minutes until the shop opened. Time was not on their side this morning.

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When George and Cate had finally arrived to the shop, the door was already unlocked. Before he began to panic, George remembered that Ron had the key to get in and seeing that the two were late, Ron likely would have let himself into the shop.

“Good morning!” Cate said as she and George came into the shop. Not surprisingly, Ron was leaning on the counter with a biscuit in his mouth, likely baked by Mrs. Weasley. From the look on Cate’s face, George could tell that she was suppressing a giggle. George leaned over and brushed her cheek with his lips softly before Ron would be paying enough attention to notice.

“Hermione?” George said, confused as to why Ron’s bushy-haired girlfriend was there. The young woman simply smiled and waved. He looked to his left, where Cate was supposed to be, but she was already getting busy with work. She was straightening up some shelves as she listened in on the conversation.

“I told her she could come,” Ron mumbled as Cate giggled quietly so that only George could hear. He jokingly stuck his tongue out at her. A smile crept across her face as she continued with cleaning up the shelves.

“Okay, okay,” George muttered as he directed Ron to the store room and pulled more of the many products that Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes sold out of their boxes for Cate to shelf. Ron followed him like a lost puppy, nearly causing George’s easy-going attitude to turn sour. Cate smirked playfully at George’s frustrated expression as he gave her the stack of Skiving Snack Boxes.

“Do I get to learn how that works?” Ron asked, excited at the prospect of using an ancient cash register.

He pointed toward it like a child who wanted a specific toy at the toy shop but knew he would never get it. Sighing, George began to show Ron the different keys and telling him what each one did. As he did so, he felt as though his brother was not listening to a single word he was trying to say.

“Ron!” George shouted, still punching keys on the register. As he looked up at his youngest brother, he smacked Ron across the cheek. Ron blinked his blue eyes a few times in shock and George glared at him.

“You do not look at that! That is mine! You have one to look at! That one is mine!” George whispered angrily as he held Ron’s ear. How could his brother look at his fiancée’s ass? Was that even moral or ethical? The woman was going to be his sister-in-law. It would be like Ron looking at Ginny’s rear end in the same way. George shuddered at the thought.

“If you want to hold your job, I would recommend never looking at my girlfriend’s ass or any other part of her that way again,” he warned. Ron didn’t look frightened, but instead he seemed jealous. Pouting, Ron watched as George showed him where everything was.

----------

As Cate sat on the edge of the bed and combed through her soaked through blonde curls, George traced the patterns on the quilt. Though it was not particularly entertaining, it passed the time while she brushed her hair. He finally gave up on waiting and sat up straight, wrapping his arms around her midsection. She smiled and put the brush down, leaning against his chest.

“I love you,” George whispered softly as he kissed her smooth cheek. He lay down and hugged her to him, never wanting to let go. Cate rested her hand on his chest, cuddling up to his side.

“I want to show you something,” she said, getting up and opening a drawer on her bed side table. When she sat down next to him again, she opened a thick, black book. George smiled, for he knew what it was. It was her book of wedding plans. For some reason, she was infatuated with making a scrapbook of every decision they made about their wedding ceremony.

“What’s that?” George asked, taking a photograph out. It was a picture of Fred, George, and Cate at the shop goofing off one day after Verity had gone home for the evening. Each of the people in the photograph looked genuinely happy. Fred and George wore identical smiles while the latter gave a giggling Cate bunny ears with his fingers.

“I’m sorry,” Cate whispered, taking the photograph out of the book and stuffing it in a drawer. She handed George a tissue to wipe away his bittersweet tears as she sifted through a shoebox of photographs for one that hopefully wouldn’t make him cry.

“Don’t be sorry.”

Ignoring this statement, Cate showed him a completely different picture. This one made George smile and suck up his tears. In the photograph, there was just the couple. They weren’t doing anything spectacular. All they were doing was sitting and looking at the camera, waving.

“What’s it for anyway?”

“To put on our invitations which I need to have made tomorrow,” Cate said, quickly jotting down a note to herself. George sighed, curious as to how Cate planned to finish the wedding plans in two months.

Chapter 13: You Had Me From Hello
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“How’re you feeling?” Cate whispered as she kissed George’s cheek.

Only about six hours remained of George being a real bachelor. Of course, he had been committed to Cate for three years but if one wanted to be technical that still made him a bachelor. There was no paper saying that he was attached to someone lawfully even if he was emotionally.

“Like I need to puke,” George said, taking the vitamins that Cate had convinced him to a few months prior. She had read an article about how fish oil of some sort was good for your brain, thus imposing a completely new vitamin regimen upon them both. Smiling, Cate gave him another kiss.

“I need to go to the church in a few hours. What are you doing today?” Her tone was giddy and anxious as she stood next to him, gulping down her glass of acidic orange juice. Sometimes, George had to wonder how on earth she got him to drink that when he was feeling under the weather. He personally thought that the drink tasted awful. If he wanted something citric, he would just eat an orange.

“Nothing,” George said, lying. Rather than focus on making himself ‘presentable’, he was going to listen to the Quidditch game with his brothers and Harry. That was, of course, the reasonable thing to do on the day of your wedding. Why would he want to look nice for a day he’d remember for the rest of his life? The thought almost disgusted him.

“Just don’t forget to be nice to my dad and Mark.”

“I won’t, love.”

Cate smiled, happy that George was going to be ‘nice’ to her brother and father. She kissed him, but this time on the mouth. At this point in time, both were smiling. He began laughing and pulled her to him. Softly, she kissed his shoulder and continued grinning.

“Six more hours,” she whispered.

“Six more hours,” he repeated.

----------

After Cate had left, George found himself lounging on the sofa and flicking through different stations on the wireless. Just as he found a channel to his liking, a knock came on the door. Sighing, George got up to answer it. As he fumbled with the lock, the loud pounding continued.

“I’m coming!” he shouted at the caller.

“Hi,” Ron said, his grin wider and brighter than the morning sun. George raised his eyebrow and invited his brother into the apartment he shared with Cate. The way Ron’s eyes were glistening with happiness made George nearly need to turn away. Sure, it was great that his brother was happy, but from the look in his eyes, George would rather not know why he was.

“The game doesn’t start for another hour,” George commented. Ron nodded, but invited himself to sit down. Rolling his eyes, George joined his brother on the couch. Resting his back on the arm of the sofa, he stretched one leg out while leaving the other crossed. Ron’s grin seemed to keep growing, as if it was fun to keep George waiting.

“I know.”

“Ron, if you’re trying to flaunt something, it’s not making me jealous.”

Pouting like a child, Ron turned away from George and the brothers sat in silence until their siblings and Harry arrived. Tossing each of his brothers, Harry included, a butter beer, Ron’s pouting melted into a smile. Whoever said that wedding days were about the couple was wrong. Wedding days were about families, not about a couple joining in union. They were about families coming together as a couple joined in marriage.

----------

“How’re you doing?” Bill said, clapping his hand to George’s back as Ginny tried to get his tie tied. They were doing things the Muggle way, for half of Cate’s family was Muggles. Both figured that it would be best if the Wizarding World stay hidden from them to prevent any more craziness.

“I’m going to puke,” George informed everyone standing in the room blatantly.

“God damn it, George! Hold still unless you want to walk down the aisle looking like more of a moron than you already are!” Ginny shouted angrily.

Luckily, Mrs. Weasley was in a different room at the moment. She was trying to keep Mr. Weasley from frightening away Cate’s family. This wouldn’t be the ideal way for the two families to meet, George thought. George smiled at the thought and allowed Ginny to finish with his tie while Harry and his brothers joked behind them. Again, he smiled but this time wider. His family was together and completely happy for the first time since…it.

A soft knock came on the door just as Ginny had finished buttoning George’s midnight blue tuxedo jacket. The door creaked opened slowly and George grinned anxiously when he saw Mr. Miller standing in the doorway. His brothers, Harry, and Ginny all looked at each other nervously. They’d all been told the story of George’s first meeting with the Millers.

“Can I, er, talk to you?” Mr. Miller said as he stepped into the room. George nodded, as did his family.

“Alone,” he added.

George swallowed hard and waved his siblings (who included Harry in George’s mind) away. They quickly scrambled from the room and he received one sympathetic look from Ginny as she shut the door behind them. Mr. Miller paced the room as though he couldn’t put what he wanted to tell George into words. Something in his gut told him what his almost father in law was going to say, but he didn’t want to guess.

“Yes?” George asked, following Mr. Miller with his eyes.

“What I guess I want to say is…er…Please, please take care of my daughter.”

“I will.”

“Can you promise that? I just don’t want my little girl to get hurt.”

“I’d never hurt her.”

----------

George watched, his smile growing wider by the second, as Cate walked down the daisy-lined aisle. Though people were looking at her, grinning, she looked straight ahead. Her eyes only looked toward George, not caring that her mother was crying and sniffling.

The closer Cate got, the more beautiful George thought she looked. Her golden curls were sitting softly on her bare shoulders and back with no veil to cover her chocolate eyes. He quite liked that, for she had told him that the eyes were the window to one’s soul and he believed it. His mood dampened a bit when he saw that the back of her ivory gown was buttoned from her shoulder blades to her lower back. That would be a challenge to undo.

As Cate’s father let go of her hand, tears fell from his youthful blue eyes. For the first time, George saw Mr. Miller as Cate’s father rather than a slightly creepy sex therapist. She leaned down and whispered something in his ear that George thought sounded like “You’re not losing me, Dad. I’m just losing my last name.”

An old priest stood at the altar as George and Cate took each others’ hands. His words sounded like a buzzing while the two waited for the time for them to say their vows to each other. Their choice was to write their own. When that time finally came, George felt nervous. What if Cate had written an epic poem about their love while he had simply a few lines? He pushed the thought to the back of his mind and pulled a sheet of paper from the pocket of his tuxedo.

“Cate, I love you with all my heart. You’ve done more for me than you could ever imagine. Through the war, through this blasted loss of an ear, through everything in the past three years, you’ve been there for me. You’ve never once turned your back on me and when I needed you the most, you went out of your way to make me feel happy again. Hell, you didn’t even leave when you found out I took you for a fake marriage license. That takes a lot of courage if I do say so myself,” he began. His posture was stiff, like a board, as he remembered how she had been while he was depressed. She had literally changed her lifestyle so that he could be partially happy again. She had given up her perfectionism and nit-picky clean routine. Everything in her life had changed after…he died. But Cate always had a sense of humor to cheer him up with, even if it didn’t work at times. He smiled as he looked down at the rest of his vows.

“Of course we’ve had good times too,” he said, his posture relaxing as he remembered the nights they’d spent at home, enjoying each others’ company. “You put up with my over-enthusiastic Quidditch comments, even when you think I’ve gone over the top.”

Chuckles from their families and friends followed this. The loudest were from Lee Jordan and Oliver Wood, old friends who George had invited. He grinned at them, remembering his time on the Quidditch team at Hogwarts.

“Not many women would put up with that; I know someone personally who learned that well,” he commented, glancing toward Oliver, whose eyes were glistening happily. “The best time—at least that I can mention—would have to be a day three years ago. That’s the day that I first met you. Remember? I made you perform a card trick, even though I think all three of us knew that you’d get the job.” Cate nodded in agreement about the best time that he could mention. They both knew they each had different ideas of the best time. “I suppose that what I’m trying to say is: I love you. Oh, and a few other things that I would be hexed for, but I can save them for later.”

Cate smiled softly as he said his second to last line. From the look in her eyes, she would have preferred that he hadn’t said the very last one. She unfolded the piece of paper that she had been holding in her hands and glanced over it briefly. Taking a deep breath, she smiled again.

“Just a warning, mine’s not going to be too humorous. Well, I guess now’s as good a time as any to say these things. This way, Dad, you know that I meant it when I told you that I love him. I really do. To be frank, I don’t think I’d ever been in love before. And the one time I don’t think anything about it, I am,” she smiled a bit before casting her eyes down to the paper to get a quick look at it. As she took a deep breath, she looked at George and crumpled the paper in her hand. “You know what? I’m going to forget about that and be honest rather than sappy. There’s no use for that. Why should I be something I’m not?” She took yet another deep breath and continued.

“I think I realized that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you when I woke up with you next to me for the first time. I think it was then that I realized any day without you was going to be, quite frankly, one that sucked. So, here I am, marrying you. I’m going to spend the rest of my life with you because I love you and I will forever.”

----------

George watched in a bittersweet manner as Cate danced with her father. He wasn’t sad that he wasn’t the one dancing with her, but he felt bad for her father. George had stolen his little girl, but he knew it was part of life. One day, some bastard (that’s what he called this unknown man) would steal his own little girl from him.

Soon, it was George’s turn to dance with Cate. He smiled, hoping to be a comfort, as he passed a Mr. Miller who was on the verge of tears. Taking Cate’s hand, George gave it a squeeze. Cate had let him choose the song and he smiled as it begun to play. It was literally the perfect song. Bittersweet, but incredibly perfect.

One word, that's all you said
Something in your voice called me, turned my head
Your smile, just captured me
You were in my future as far as I could see
And I don’t know how it happens, but it happens still
You asked me if I love you, if I always will


“I’m looking for a Fred or a George Weasley,” she said, looking down at the piece of parchment she was holding in her hands. Her voice was smooth, like honey, and something about it made him think of the calming effects of chamomile tea.

“George Weasley, at your service,” George said, sticking his hand out for her to shake. She took it and shook it firmly before he let go.

“I’m Catherine Miller. I applied for a job here.”


The scene replayed in his head as he listened to the lovely lyrics of the song. Cate softly kissed his cheek, such a tender gesture that his heart melted. He was allowed to be gushy for one evening, and tonight was that evening. The same smiled sprawled out across her face now was the same one that he had seen during that first hello.

Well you had me from hello
I felt love start to grow
The moment I looked into your eyes you won me
It was over from the start you completely stole my heart
And now you won't let go
I never even had a chance you know
You had me from hello


“Don’t worry, Catherine—” George started.

“Cate. You can call me Cate.”

“Okay, Cate, nothing illegal is ever involved.”

“What a relief,” she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. Fred came in moments later and dropped a deck of cards in her lap. She looked at them, deeply confused once more. Slowly and carefully, she dumped the cards out of the box and shuffled them in her hands.

Though that memory included Fred, it was likely one of George’s favorite memories to look back on. This time, it was George who kissed Cate. She nuzzled her head into his neck as they swayed to the soft music. Though he could hear his mother’s sniffling in the background, he was incredibly happy.

Inside I built a wall
So high around my heart, I thought I'd never fall
One touch, you brought it down
The bricks of my defenses scattered on the ground
And I swore to me I wasn't going to love again
The last time was the last time I'd let someone in


At the beginning of the war, girls had cooties. But by the time he was fifteen, it was time for girls. He had seen what war had done to people, though. He didn’t want the same thing to happen to him, so he vowed to never fall in love. Though Fred was with Angelina, George never wanted that. He couldn’t bear to be hurt that way, but here he was with Cate. Both of them were happy and that would never change.

“Oh, sometimes I just want to kill my brother, you know?” Cate said, trying to make George feel better one night when Fred had left him alone for the fifth day in a row to go out with Angelina.

“No, it’s not like that. I want to kill Angie,” George ranted. Cate laughed softly, though she knew he did not find this humorous at all.

“Well, maybe you should talk to him?”

“Yeah, talk to him.”


Of course, George never took his now-wife’s advice. But it seemed to have paid off for after that night, whenever George needed someone to talk to, he went to Cate.

But you had me from hello
I felt love start to grow
The moment I looked into your eyes you won me
It was over from the start you completely stole my heart
And now you won’t let go
I never even had a chance you know
You had me from hello


“Did you want hang out tonight?” George said. Wonderful. He chickened out; the precise thing that he told himself not to do. Cate thoughtfully pulled her golden curtain of hair out of the collar of her coat and bit her lip in thought.

“Sure,” Cate said. “What did you have in mind?”


This was one of a few memories that popped into George’s mind as he danced softly with Cate. He was convinced that she was nearly asleep on his shoulder.

“Are you okay?” Cate said for the second time that evening. Her soothing voice seemed to make George melt a bit, but not so much that he lost his composure.

“Is it normal for your palms to sweat and your heart to beat fifteen times the normal pace?” he said, his chest rising and falling slowly.

“Not at all,” she said, her voice softening in volume. Slowly, George leaned in closer to her, allowing their noses to touch gently. Cate’s eyes slowly closed as their lips met in a tender first kiss. Her lips were just as soft as they looked and tasted as sweet as she smelled.


He laughed quietly at this memory. He could somehow remember that same exact, oddly worded question. Cate softly kissed his nose, interrupting his small fit of laughter.

“I love you,” George said for the first time to Cate six months into their romantic relationship. He felt his palms grow sweaty as she just looked at him, her brown eyes large with curiosity.

“Really?” she breathed, moving closer to him on her couch. He could feel her skin touching his tantalizingly as she sat on his lap, wrapping her long, lean legs around his hips.


“It’s true, you know that?” George whispered, his nose against her hair while his lips nearly touched her ear.

“What is?” Cate asked, her voice also a whisper.

“You did have me from hello.”

That’s all you said
Something in your voice calls me, turns my head
You had me from hello
You had me from hello
Girl, I've loved you from hello

Cate shook her head coyly, as though she wanted to believe her husband’s words, but she couldn’t.

“It’s true. You’ve never let go, either,” he said, kissing the top of her head. As the song ended, another began. George watched as Ron danced with Hermione and Harry with Ginny. Part of him wanted to hit Harry for dancing with his sister, but if he wanted to have a good honeymoon, it was best not to do that.

“I’m going to dance with Mark,” Cate whispered as she walked off to find her brother.

He watched from the side of the dance floor as she twirled her brother around, laughing when he tried to do the same for her. Though Mark was tall and lanky for his age, his sister was still taller than he. George chuckled at this. As he did so, he felt a soft tap on his shoulder. Turning around, he saw his one and a half year old niece, Victoire. He smiled as she tugged on his pant leg.

“Would you like to dance?” he asked as he hoisted her on his hip and took her tiny hand in his larger one. She giggled as George spun in circles, causing her silvery blonde locks to whip around her face. Her giggle was like the ring of a bell, so sweet and innocent.

As the night weaned down, they followed Muggle traditions that went with wedding receptions. George tossed Cate’s garter and Mark caught it before handing it to someone else. He found it awkward to be holding it so he passed it off to Charlie, who was standing next to him. When Cate threw her bouquet of daisies, Ginny caught it causing George to clench his fists. All in all, though, he thought that their wedding went very well.


A/N: The song is called "You Had Me From Hello" and belongs to Kenny Chesney.

Chapter 14: You Half-Wit
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George blinked rapidly as the bright morning sun shone through the curtains. That was something odd he had noticed about their hotel room; there were no blinds, only curtains. But that was fine, for they held shut well which was all that really mattered.

The Madrid sun continued shining vividly as George turned on his side to face Cate. She was still asleep but he fingered her tangled curls anyway. Softly, he kissed her cheek and wrapped his arm around her and pulling her close to him. Now, Cate was his and no one else’s. Of course, she was never anyone else’s but now everyone would know that.

“Good morning,” Cate yawned as she rested her head on George’s bare chest. George smiled a ridiculous smile and kissed her tenderly on the top of her head. Now, she joined him in grinning.

“Good morning, Mrs. Weasley,” he whispered, smoothing down her frizzy locks of hair. Smiling, Cate kissed his cheek lovingly, her hand extended toward the other. Pulling her closer to him, he kissed the top of her head once more.

“Does this get to happen every morning?” she asked.

“Does what get to happen?”

“You and me, smiling.”

“You want that?”

“Yes. I also want kids.”

“Oh, Cate. Not now, please?”

“Why not? It’s going to come up eventually. Why not now?”

“Okay, talk.”

Part of him wanted to hear what she wanted out of their marriage, but the other part of him just wanted to do what one was supposed to on one’s honeymoon. It did make him happy that she looked happy; even if it wasn’t for the reason he wanted her to. Sighing, George tried to figure out what he had just said in his head.

“I want at least two,” she said, her voice dreamy as she likely imagined what their future looked like. As she continued telling George every little detail of what she wanted in the next five years, she twisted a loose thread from the sheet around her finger. When she got excited, she would tighten her grip around George’s waist as if to emphasize what she was saying.

“Cate, are you sure now is the best time to start a family?” he asked, curious as to her opinion on the matter. He honestly wasn’t ready for a family; they had just gotten married and he wanted to spend some time with her alone.

“Yes, I’m sure. You said I could have what I wanted, remember?”

He sighed. He had told her that they could start a family whenever she was ready. Of course, when he told her that he did not think that she would want one right away. His belief had been that she would want to wait a few years. A soft smile crept on Cate’s lips as George hugged her tighter to him. He kissed her hair lovingly and combed through the tangles.

“Let’s take a walk,” she suggested. George shook his head. If she was going to get her way with a family, he was going to get his way for their honeymoon. Cate sighed, for he knew that she had wanted to sightsee. Of course, they had only two days in a foreign country. He debated to get out of bed or not to for what could have been hours. When he finally chose that they could take a walk, Cate had fallen back asleep on his chest.

----------

One last quiet snore came from Cate before she opened her eyes. George smiled and laughed mockingly. She stuck her tongue out at him childishly and sat up, holding the blankets around her chest. She relaxed against the headboard and looked down at him. Oddly enough, she wasn’t pouting that it was the middle of the night and it was their last night and she hadn’t gotten to see anything. She was beaming as bright as the moon shone.

“You’ve been asleep all day,” he informed her.

“No I haven’t.”

“Yes you have.”

“I was up for a while while you slept.”

“Why were you up?”

“I was sick.”

“Oh. Are you feeling better, then?”

“Much.” She smiled again and rested her head against the headboard. Pushing up the sleeves on the sweater he had just noticed she was wearing, Cate pushed a strand of hair from George’s eyes. He took her hand and sat up next to her.

“Are you cold?”

“No, I just went outside to get ice while you were asleep and a sweater was the first thing I found.”

“Are you all right?”

She didn’t look as though she was feeling well. Her face was a bit pale though she kept smiling. Suddenly, she started laughing causing George to be rather confused. She grasped his hand tighter and looked him in the eye, trying to pull a serious look upon her face.

“Have you seriously not figured it out?” she asked, stunned.

“Was I supposed to?”

“Yes!”

“Then just tell me.”

“I’m pregnant, you half-wit.”

----------

George sifted through a pamphlet of houses that were for sale in Muggle London. Cate had insisted that if they must buy a house now that it was in a Muggle neighborhood, that way her family could visit. He did find that fair even though he had no clue how to convert the currency and decide what they could afford. He looked over to his wife (he found it rather awesome to be able to say that) and smiled as she looked through the income book, double checking his arithmetic.

“You added wrong,” Cate said, redoing his math for him. He rolled his eyes; sometimes her perfectionism got on his nerves. But then again, he was the one who asked her to double check his work.

“Where are you going?” George asked as she got out of her position on the couch next to him and ran for the bathroom. He cringed when the sound of her vomiting echoed through the tiny space of their flat. This had to be the fifth time in the last hour or two that she had gotten sick. Her being pregnant was going to take some getting used to.

Chapter 15: The Unknown
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George softly kissed Cate’s forehead as he unlocked the front doors to his shop. His eyes went down to her swollen belly and a small smile crept upon his lips. For being slightly upset about Cate being pregnant so soon after their marriage, he sure was happy about it, he thought wistfully. Sometimes he felt as though his emotions changed as quickly as hers these days, especially towards become a father. Of course, Cate was excited all the time about having a baby but that was the only real difference.

“I really wish you’d just stay at home,” George said as he let Cate in. She rolled her eyes, fed up, as she always did when he insisted upon her staying home.

“I’m a pregnant woman, not an invalid,” she replied, as usual. He helped her out of her coat and stuck his tongue out at her, causing Ron to laugh as he came out of the store room. Cate glared at him; perhaps George was wearing out the whole ‘I’m going to stick my tongue out at you because you won’t listen to me’ act, for she had obviously figured it out.

“Yes, dear,” George grunted as she walked behind the counter and slipped on the last layer of robes that went with her uniform. Though the temperatures were below freezing, she insisted that she was warm and chose not to wear every layer of her uniform on their daily commute to the shop. He did win half the battle, though. He was able to convince her to wear a coat.

“Was Mum ever like this pregnant?” Ron whispered hastily as Cate straightened up a few shelves, dusting them as she did so. George shook his head as he removed his smooth, brown leather gloves from his thin fingers.

“How would I know? I was always too busy playing pranks with Fred,” he whispered as Cate handed him a plastic rat that she had found. Grinning sheepishly, he looked to Ron. Though the grin was still plastered on his face, his eyes were burning with fury. Ron shrugged as though he was innocent of this joke. Shouldn’t his own brother know not to anger Cate? Virtually anything angered her and she was in a partially good mood today. George made a mental note to hex Ron one day in the foreseeable future.

“Which one of you two did this?” she said, drawing her words out slowly and carefully. Her eyes met each set opposite her as she tried to get an answer. Verity puttered about anxiously around the store as she waited for her instructions for the day.

“Caty, I hate to rat my own brother out, but Ronniekins here did it,” George said, hoping that the use of his nickname for her would come in handy. She raised her eyebrow cautiously and dropped the disgusting toy into her brother-in-law’s hand. He blushed and turned around, pretending not to listen to the lovers’ quarrel that was soon to ensue.

“What were you thinking? What if I had a phobia of rats? Huh? Did you think about that? No! You thought about your bloody entertainment. If you want entertainment, I’ll take you home and give you some entertainment,” she whispered sharply.

“That offer still good?”

“No!”

----------

“I’m sorry about this morning. I just started my day off all wrong. The baby was kicking me all night and all I want is sleep,” Cate said as she collapsed on the sofa, propping her swollen ankles up on the coffee table. George sat down next to her and pulled her feet onto his lap. She smiled softly and allowed him to rub her feet. Though he found touching her feet highly disgusting, it took a few weights off her shoulders.

“You don’t have to do this, you know,” she whispered as she pulled her feet out of his lap. Sighing, he allowed her to sit between his legs and he rested his hands on her enormous belly. She placed a hand on his cheek and smiled. Her thumb softly stroked his face as he rubbed circles on her belly.

“I love you, George.”

“I know.”

Cate buried her head into his chest as he wiped some of the strands of hair from her eyes. His lips gently brushed her hair as she nodded off to sleep against his chest. As uncomfortable as it was, the least he could do was let her sleep. If she had to carry his child for another two months, he could at least give her that.

----------

“Cate,” George said, shooting awake in bed that night. She grumbled something incoherently and turned on the light on that sat on her night stand. If looks could kill, George should have dropped dead at the glare that Cate was giving him.

“I’m scared,” he told her cautiously. Her eyes softened slightly but they remained angry with him.

“You decide to tell me this on a night the baby isn’t kicking me and I can sleep? What kind of a husband are you?” she accused, partially joking.

“I don’t know how to be a father,” he said, ignoring his wife completely. Sighing, he fell back into a horizontal position and looked at Cate. He felt her hand on his forehead and smiled. At least he hadn’t made her too angry this evening. She kissed his cheek lovingly.

“Our dads didn’t either,” she commented softly. Though her comment made him feel slightly reassured, the unknown of what was to come still frightened him. Cate seemed able to sense that he was still scared and she lay down next to him, twisting her leg around his.

“Sometimes, when I’m alone, I sit at home and cry because I don’t know what do to,” she whispered. “I think that the one thing everyone is scared of is the unknown, and for us the unknown is raising a child. But we’ll learn how to do it well, just like our parents did. Maybe we won’t even learn at all and we’ll just have to make it up as we go along.”

George laughed quietly at her last sentence. If she was afraid of screwing their kid up, making it up as they went along would definitely do the trick. He reached over and fingered her velvety locks in his hands. Smiling softly, Cate craned her neck and kissed George romantically. Grinning, he held her as tightly to him as he could. He slipped his hand under her nightshirt and rubbed the smooth surface of her pregnant belly.

“I have a feeling that you’ll do just fine,” she whispered softly, resting her hand on top of his and guiding it to a spot where the baby was kicking. The sensation of little feet against her belly was odd, yet it seemed completely natural. Kissing her neck lovingly, George smiled. He wasn’t completely sure why, but he thought that perhaps it was the fact that Cate had admitted weakness.

“I have faith in you,” she added.

“I don’t have faith in myself.”

“Oh god, what happened to the confident and slightly cocky boy I went to school with?” she asked, holding back her laughter. She placed her hand on his cheek and watched him, waiting for an answer.

“You really want to know?”

“Yes.”

“He’s lying down next to you.”

“Is he really?”

“Yes, and he’s rather holey.”

Cate smiled happily and kissed him tenderly.

“Did you find him?” he asked.

“Yes I did.”

Chapter 16: There Goes My Life
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“I would marry you all over again if I could, you know that?” George whispered as he fingered Cate's hair, one of his hands on her swollen belly. She smiled and buried her head in the hollow of his neck. Small vibrations tickled his neck but he didn't ask her which incoherent words she had murmured. Instead, he kissed her softly on the top of her head. Suddenly, Cate pulled her head from its burrow in his neck and stared at him.

“George, I think my water broke,” she said softly.

“Huh?”

“I'm going into labor, Einstein!”

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“George!” Mrs. Weasley shrieked as George left the delivery room. He took a deep breath, breathing in as much of the cool air of the waiting room as he could, and wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead. As his mother rushed toward him, he exhaled and smiled. Mrs. Weasley's hug was warm and comforting. He kissed his mother's gray streaked ginger hair.

“Is it a girl or a boy?” Ginny asked as she dragged a reluctant Ron behind her. George smiled slyly at this.

“Both,” he said simply.

“What?” Mrs. Weasley said as she pushed her way through the barrier George had created with his body blocking the door.

“Thank you,” Ron said as he leaned against the side of the door frame opposite the youngest of his older brothers. Confusion filled George's exhausted eyes. He cocked his head to the side and watched Ron carefully.

“All day she has been obnoxious, wondering if you and Cate were all right,” he explained. George nodded, understanding, as he walked up to the side of his wife's bed. In her arms, Cate was cradling two tiny babies. Unlike Fred and George, George and Cate's twins were fraternal. The one she cradled in her right arm looked exactly like his father, save his bare skin. This child bore no freckles. Their daughter had George's eyes, her mother's hair, and freckles dancing across her pale skin.

“What are their names?” Charlie asked from behind his father.

“Zooey Michelle and,” George paused for a moment, choking back his tears. “Zooey and Fred Christoph.”

Cate smiled softly and gently touched George's arm with her fingertips. He felt somewhat relieved at her touch and gave her a grin back. This was the beginning of a beautiful future, he thought to himself as he glanced at his enormous family.

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“Zooey! Fred!” Cate shouted from the top of the stairway in the home they had purchased nearly a few years prior. George looked to his son standing before him and pulled the night shirt over Fred's head, patting his ginger hair lovingly.

“It's time for bed,” George said softly as he looked at Zooey's tiny, sleeping form on the sofa. Fred toddled up the stairs as George carried the other twin cautiously behind. He patted down Zooey's gentle curls as he lay her down in the pink crib.

“They'll be gone before we know it,” Cate whispered from behind him. She had already put Fred in his bedroom and had come to check on her husband and son. Smiling gently, she gave George a kiss on the cheek. He grinned back and pulled the covers over Zooey. Taking Cate's hand, he led her out of the little, frilly nursery and through the halls of their home.

Walking through those halls, hand in hand with Cate, George felt as though he was eighteen again and gallivanting through Diagon Alley with her before the world turned evil on their lives. Their little angels weren't the evil; the battle was. Sometimes, when he played Quidditch action figures with his son, George forgot that he was an adult and his son was not his brother. It sickened him at times to even look at his son; he always saw Fred's youthful, naïve joy in the toddler Fred.

Zooey was different in so many ways. She seemed to be rather serious and reminded George of one of his elder brothers, Percy. Despite her bubbly looks, she always seemed to know when to quit playing even if she wanted to continue. She never wanted to dirty up the lacy, frilly little dresses that her mother bought for her frequently.

“Are you okay?” Cate asked, interrupting George's train of thought. He looked at Cate, her brown eyes still full of the same light that he had seen for the last seven years. Nodding, he pulled her into their bedroom and kissed her soft curls lovingly. She placed her hands on his chest, sending electric shocks to his heart as she kissed his neck.

“I love you,” she said.

“I always have,” he whispered back.

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