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Chapter Three: Books, Coffee, and Smiles
Hogwarts would have an interesting number of students that year. There would probably be less home-schooled children since the war was over and there would be a lot of returning students that previously hadn’t been allowed to attend because of being Muggle-born. Among some of the more interesting returnees were Hermione, George, and Luna.
Hermione was surprised when she learned from Ginny that Luna was returning. Luna, like everyone else who had participated in the Battle of Hogwarts, had also been offered an Auror Training position and even though Ron had really wanted her to accept the position, she must have declined. The fact that she had turned it down made Hermione have a rush of affection for the girl and made her remember why she considered her a good friend. Even though she was now publicly dating Ron, she still seemed to have a good head on her shoulders (well, as good as it could get for being Luna Lovegood) and Hermione had to accept the fact that she was still the same Luna that she had met in her 5th year of Hogwarts.
The summer was drawing to an end, and day after boring day in the Weasley household passed by. Hermione had told Mrs. Weasley that she felt like she was intruding, but of course, Mrs. Weasley had insisted that Hermione stay for the remainder of the summer. On the last Wednesday, before the start of school, Luna came over to the Burrow to visit.
“Oh, Luna! You look so thin and frail! Is Xeno feeding you at all? You must eat with us tonight! Oh, and you’re hair looks lovely dear! Those robes you are wearing are simply divine. They bring out your eyes! Here, come with me into the kitchen!” said Mrs. Weasley, all at once, to Luna.
“I remember when she used to fuss over me like that,” said Hermione quietly to George, who was sitting next to her on the couch. He looked at her in shock for a moment. She had appeared to be so absorbed in her book a moment ago that it didn’t even seem as if she had heard Mrs. Weasley’s fussing.
“Don’t worry about it, Hermione. I know that since you’re positively hideous, it will be hard, but I guess I could try to make a fuss over you, if you are feeling under appreciated,” he began, jokingly. “Hermione, today your hair looks so bushy. I think your chipped toenail polish brings out your pimples. Did your feet grow?” he asked, faking interest. Hermione smacked him with her book, but with a smile on her face. “I’m kidding!” he yelled in defeat as Hermione whacked him a few more times.
“Thanks Georgie! I feel oh so loved!” said Hermione sarcastically. “But honestly,” she added. “I think that I’m like a piece of gum stuck to the bottom of her shoe, like some kind of scum that she’s dying to scrub away. It doesn’t feel right being here.”
“Yes, scum. But very smart scum indeed,” George said with an evil grin.
“Be serious George,” said Hermione. A few years ago, telling George to be serious would have been a lost cause, but times had changed. “Am I really overstaying my welcome? I feel like I’m just a burden,” she said with a sigh.
“Of course you’re not a burden, Hermione. I can’t even believe you would think that. You’re pretty much a member of this family. No one minds you being here. I rather enjoy your company. Everyone makes this huge fuss over how I’m talking again, yet has anyone bothered to strike up a conversation with me? No,” he said, answering his own question. He continued, “But you always talk to me. Actually if you left I’d be quite lonely. Don’t leave me here with those… Weasleys,” he said with a fake shudder. Hermione giggled a bit and George’s face broke into a grin.
“Thanks George,” Hermione said while rolling her eyes, her smile, genuine. “I guess I didn’t realize how lonely you felt. I’ll try to stop reading then to keep you company. Plus, I’ve read this one a million times before anyways,” said Hermione, throwing, Hogwarts, A History, aside.
“Why don’t we go to Flourish and Blotts? You can buy a few new books and I could go and check on the shop.”
“I’ve really only got enough money for my school supplies,” said Hermione. “And a bit I’m saving for a rainy day.”
“Then I’ll get some for you!” exclaimed George. Then he added, “An early birthday present.”
“But my birthday’s not ‘til the 19th of September. I could never let you do that,” said Hermione defiantly. “Well be at Hogwarts on Monday. Then I’ll have all the library books I could ever want.”
“Your birthday isn’t that far away,” said George. “Well, if there isn’t a book in the wizarding world that you want, then maybe there’s one in the Muggle world?” asked George.
“’Well, I did want to read this new book by an American author I heard about,” said Hermione, “but that doesn’t give you permission to go off and buy it for me!” she added quickly.
“Why yes it does,” said George. “Hermione, I’m going to Muggle London and getting you a book whether you like it or not, even if I have to go by myself. And,” he added impressively, “You know for a fact that I barely even know what a book is, so if you end up with something horrifying, which I’m good at identifying, mind you, then it’ll be your fault.” This seemed to have done it and George laughed as Hermione pouted.
“Fine,” she said crossing her arms over her chest. George laughed again at her facial expression and she huffed in frustration. “I’m going to go get ready,” she said still sounding cross.
George watched her as she went up the stairs and he soon followed suit, proceeding to go to his own room. Hermione finished getting ready before George and went to his room to check on him. The door was slightly ajar, and Hermione peeked in. There, she saw George combing his hair and when he finished he looked in the mirror at himself. He looked wistfully for a while at the spot where his ear had been blown off by a spell in during the Battle of Hogwarts. Turning to the door, he squeaked in surprise as he found Hermione watching. It was Hermione’s turn to laugh as George tried to recover quickly.
“Checking me out, eh?” asked George playfully. “I knew you couldn’t resist.” He winked. Hermione ignored this, however.
“Do you miss it?” she asked, tentatively. He shrugged.
“I guess I do,” he said. “But then, when I do, I always scold myself for it, then I say to myself: At least you’re not dead. At least you don’t have a scars and bite marks so bad that it disfigures your face. At least both your parents are still alive.” Hermione gave a sad smile at George’s comment as a tear slid down her face. “I’m sorry Hermione,” said George quickly, “I didn’t mean to bring--” but Hermione pressed a single finger to his mouth.
“I’m going to fix your ear,” she said determinedly.
“I don’t know yet, but I’m going to figure out how to fix it. I promise,” she said, and he believed her. He nodded and smiled as she removed the finger.
“Thanks Hermione,” he said quietly. “Now let’s go get your birthday present!” he exclaimed, returning to his normal cheerful manor. Hermione didn’t object to the book idea anymore. They Apparated to a dark alley in the Muggle part of London, looking around to make sure no one saw them appear out of very thin air. The two emerged from the alley slowly and Hermione led the way to the nearest bookstore.
“Borders?” asked George suspiciously. “Seems like a very boring place so the name fits perfectly.” Hermione laughed as they entered the store. “Oh! Coffee!” said George. “Starbucks? Is that the kind of money that coffee place takes? Do you have any?” asked George. Hermione sighed.
“They take regular Muggle money George. Starbucks is just the name of the place. Do you have Muggle money with you?” she asked, raising her eyebrows.
“Of course I do,” said George proudly. “Fred and I used to go to Muggle joke shops and look at their products so we always carried some around with us.”
“Ah,” said Hermione, thoughtfully. “You two never cease to amaze me.”
“Thanks Hermione. Well, you go and get engrossed in books while I buy coffee,” said George excitedly. Hermione didn’t even have time to answer before George quickly sped off to join the queue for Starbucks. She had a bad feeling about George with coffee. In her opinion the two were a bad combination; George was already hyper enough as it was!
Fifteen minutes later, George found Hermione in the young adult section reading the summary of a book and had some stacked up behind her on the table. She didn’t even notice he was there until he asked her if she wanted some coffee. He held out a Caramel Frappuccino. At this point Hermione laughed at the childishly excited expression on his face. Yes, she’d seen George smile recently, but this look was the one he constantly used to wear in the presence of his twin. She hadn’t seen it in a while.
“Of course,” she said, closing the book and sitting it on the table before accepting the coffee. Who could refuse that look he was giving her? “Mmm…good!” Hermione exclaimed after several long gulps of the cold drink.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have given you coffee,” said George, smartly. “We don’t want a hyper Hermione running around.”
“I was just thinking the same thing about you,” she said with a slight smirk. “Ah darn, brain freeze!” she exclaimed.
“Press your thumb to the roof of your mouth,” said George and she did it.
“Wow, that actually worked,” she said, mildly surprised. “Where’d you learn that?”
“Old Muggle trick,” he said laughing. “Fred taught me actually. You know he dated around, probably a few Muggle girls too. He was always very knowledgeable on the subject.”
“So much about you guys I didn’t know. I wish I had gotten to know him better,” said Hermione, thoughtfully.
“He would’ve liked you the way you are now,” said George warmly.
“How do you know that?”
“Because, he likes who I like. And I definitely like you.” Hermione smiled at his comment.
“I like you too,” she said and then she hugged him quickly and awkwardly pulled away. George’s ear turned bright red.
“So…er, what books do you want?” he asked.
“Um,” she said, looking longingly at the stack of nine or ten books. George smiled.
“Why don’t we get them all?” he asked.
“No!” she cried, as soon as the words left his mouth. “That’s almost 75 pounds worth of books!”
“Hermione, please. I really want to do this for you,” he said quietly.
“Give me a good reason why I should let you buy 75 pounds worth of books for me,” asked Hermione with the hand that wasn’t grasping the coffee on her hip.
“Because Hermione, have you ever seen your face when you see a book?” he asked. “This beautiful smile breaks out and its like amazing and it captures everyone in your presence. I’m not trying to show off my money or anything. All I want to do is make you happy, so I can see your smile. You’re honestly the best friend someone could ask for.”
Hermione sat her cup down on the table, and this time embraced George for what seemed like hours.
“I guess I’ll let you buy them,” she said shyly. “You really like my smile that much?” she asked with a small hint of hope in her voice.
“It’s perfect,” he responded, leading the way to the cash register.
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