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Last time, on Holey...

 

Emma’s eyes widened in surprise and—realizing she was staring rudely—she turned her head quickly back to Professor Flitwick and Bobby. Noticing her odd behavior, the men quickly turned their heads in the direction she had been looking.


 

Emma ducked her head, mortified. You weren’t supposed to ogle at people who had lost body parts. You weren’t supposed to stare, but now, not only had she stared at him, but Flitwick and Bobby were. She was a horrible person. He probably hated her now. And he had had such beautiful eyes….


 

“Mr. Weasley!” came the squeaky voice of the little professor. Emma slanted her eyes to surreptitiously look from beneath her bangs to see what was going on. What met her gaze terrified her.


 

The earless man was coming right towards her!


 




 

How was Emma supposed to look him in the eye when he knew that she had been staring so rudely? And how was she supposed to keep her eyes on his face when the space where his ear had been was so interesting?

 

 

 

“Mrs. Yearling, this is Mr. Weasley, a former student of mine!” Flitwick announced happily.

 

 

 

“Good to meet-cha!” Mr. Weasley said with a smile, holding out a hand for Emma to shake. His eyes twinkled as their hands met, as though he knew exactly why she was blushing.


 

Emma blushed harder.

 

 

 

“And this is Robert Yearling,” continued the professor. Mr. Weasley switched his attention from Emma to Bobby.


 

“Good for you mate, catching such a pretty girl!” teased the red-head. He was acting so normal that Emma started feeling more comfortable. Maybe he hadn’t seen, or maybe he was just an easy-going bloke and didn’t care.

 

 

 

“She’s not my girl, she’s my aunt!” laughed Bobby, waving his ice cream spoon so violently that a few of the sparkling sprinkles landed on the ground, fizzing colours and onto the sidewalk.

 

 

 

“What? A stud like you walking about without a gal on each arm?” grinned Mr. Weasley. An iron grate fence separated him from the small group, and he leaned on it, wiggling his eyebrows at Bobby. “Don’t worry, there will be plenty of girls for you at Hogwarts!”

 

 

 

“Why would I want girls?” questioned Bobby with an expression of disgust. The adults laughed at this, and the earless Mr. Weasley looked at Emma with a curious smile that made her blush return.

 

 

 

“How are your parents, George?” inquired Flitwick. “I haven’t seen Molly and Arthur since your sister’s graduation.”

 

 

 

“They’re great, yeah. Mum’s in fits, though. Apparently now that the war’s over, she’s ready for us all to be married and out of her house. Charlie’s been getting an earful.”


 

At this, Emma’s eyes zeroed in on the place where his ear was not. The two wizards were laughing, but Emma couldn’t pay attention to the conversation. It was like she was watching a silent movie: their lips were moving but she couldn’t hear the conversation. How was it this hard for her to focus on a good looking man?


 

“—But by then Charlie had escaped while the ghoul distracted the rest of us!” The other three were laughing, Flitwick so hard that he nearly fell off his chair. Emma had only been half listening and didn’t really understand half the terminology that the red-haired man had used, but she smiled anyway, caught up in the mirth of the others.

 

 

 

“Well, some of us have actual jobs to get back to,” George said, tipping an imaginary hat at Flitwick, Bobby, and then Emma. “We can’t all laze around eating ice-cream.”

 

 

 

The trio at the table said their goodbyes as the red haired man walked towards a shop on the other side of the street and then vanished into its doors. Emma stared after him, watching the little flurries of activities behind the windows of the shop. When she finally turned, she caught Flitwick staring at her with a conspiratorial smile and Emma blushed without knowing why.

 

 

 

“So,” Emma began, changing the subject from her embarrassing staring. “What’s next on the supplies list?”

 

 

 

“Oh!” squeaked the little Professor enthusiastically, “You will certainly enjoy our next item. We need to get Robert an owl!”

 

 

 

Oh,’ thought Emma. ‘What is he going to do with an owl?’



  

Present Day (October 29, 2000)



 

 

 

 Emma Yearling hurried down the street feeling frustrated and tired. Life had seemed much easier only three years ago. She had just been at the top of her class, just starting her university career with the full backing of her family. Suddenly the Uni was so hard. It was a struggle to keep at the top of her classes. It was so disheartening, realizing that she wasn’t perfect. 


 

  Her arms ached from holding her books and her groceries and her feet hurt from standing all day. As Emma finally reached the door to her flat she felt her exhaustion absorb her. She looked down at the load in her arms and thought about all the work she still had to do once she got home. 


 

 Making a decision, she quickly unlocked her door and rushed inside. Once she reached the kitchen counter, Emma dumped her armload unceremoniously on the surface. Taking just a moment to refrigerate her milk and eggs, Emma left as quickly as she had come, pulling the down shut behind her with a decisive click. Emma skipped down the steps of her building and hurried down her street. It was late in the afternoon, so the sun was beginning to fade, turning the light into a burnt orange and causing the shadows to lengthen. Emma pulled her jacket closer to ward off the slight chill in the air and quickened her steps. She wasn’t far from her destination and if she hurried, she would be back before it got too dark.


 

Emma ignored the other Londoners scurrying down the street, focusing instead on her treat—she couldn’t wait to get there. Yes, there were much more important things she could be doing. She really didn’t have the luxury of this little distraction, but sometimes, when she was about go out of her mind with stress, she snuck off for a little time to herself. 

 

 

 

With a sigh of relief, Emma realized that she had reached her destination. She stood across the street from a Bookshop and a records shop. Emma sat heavily onto a bench and watched crowds of people—muggles, she smiled to herself—walking passed the scene as though there was nothing different about this particular bookstore and that specific record shop. But all Emma had to do was concentrate and squint her eyes a little and she could make out the watery image of a pub. 


 

 Over the last few months, with all the things that she had to deal with, Emma had gotten into the habit of coming to visit the entrance to Diagon Ally. It reminded her that there was a magical world, just beyond her sight. It gave her something special to focus on when the pressure of her normal life got the better of her.


 

Emma sat there a while longer, focusing and un-focusing her eyes to bring the pub in and out of her view until she gave herself a headache. She felt calmer, and less as though she was being buried alive under her work load. Just as she decided to head for home, a vaguely familiar voice stopped her.

 

 

 

“Hello!” came the surprised hailing of Mr. George Weasley. Well, maybe it wasn’t the voice that stopped her so much as the fact that Emma nearly collided with the redhead when she got up from the bench. Emma began apologizing profusely. She had startled him and caused him to drop a few of his packages. They both knelt to the ground and began collecting the strewn belongings before they could be trampled.

 

 

 

“I can understand you being excited to see me,” Mr. Weasley teased,” what with my shear animal magnetism and all, but next time try being drawn to me a little less forcefully, alright?”


 

Emma blushed in humiliation, feeling the stress from earlier in the day come flooding back as Mr. Weasley picked up a particularly smashed package and shake it, eliciting the sound of broken parts. Smiling despite Emma’s feeling of abject humiliation, Mr. Weasley winked at her and looked conspiratorially up and down the street, as though checking to see if anyone was watching. Seeming to see that no one was, he slipped something out of his jacket sleeve and Emma saw a long wand in his hand. There was a quick flick/swish motion with the want and a feeling like goose bumps climbing up her arms and the packages, each and every one, returned to its original state. 

 

 

 

“I’m so sorry,” Emma reiterated.


 

“Well there’s no use crying over spilled packages,” the taller man said wisely, offering her a hand up from the ground. “George. George Weasley.”

 

 

 

“Emma Yearling.” Somehow George managed to balance his arm load as he extended a hand for her to shake. The air was chilly, but Emma felt warmed by the genuine happiness in George Weasley’s eyes.

 

 

 

“I saw you in Fortescue’s, didn’t I?” Emma couldn’t help but be flattered that she had been remembered.


 

“Yes, it was my first time. Is it just me or is ice-cream better when its…you know.” She meant magic, but that fact that she wouldn’t say it told George that she was definitely not a witch.

 

 

 

“So what were you doing—before you ran me into the ground?” George asked. “Trying to get to Diagon?”

 

 

 

“Oh, no. Just watching.” George arched an eyebrow.


 

“You know, because sometimes, people go in.” Now he just looked amused, as if wondering if muggles lives were really so boring that they watched streets for fun

 

 

 

“Listen, I know you are used to it, but this…magic ally thing…its new to me. And I’m the only one who can see it, I’m the only one who knows its there. Those people over there, they have no idea that the man in the top hat is going to turn into a pub that they can’t see and go to a street that doesn’t exist.”

 

 

 

George waved at the man in the top hat, who tipped his hat in return. “Alright,” George conceded,” but wouldn’t it be more fun for you if you went inside?”

 

 

 

“When would I have the time? I have two papers due this week and I am already behind in all my classes. And besides, how would I get in?”


 

“Well, you could walk in with me now.” There was one moment, just one, where Emma wanted nothing more than to follow George into the magical world and give up on the university, the bills, and all the pressure. But that moment passes. Wanting to go was wonderful, but she had responsibilities.

 

 

 

As if seeing her answer in her face, George laughed a said,” Well when do you have time?”

 

 

 

Never,’ thought Emma sarcastically.

 

 

 

“There must be some time,” George continued. “What about this Friday? What could you possibly have to do then.”

 

 

 

There was a list of things that she should be doing on Friday, but somehow in between thinking she should say no and actually saying it, Emma lost the word.


 

“Alright.” Where had that come from?


 

“What about meeting here at six, so we can eat dinner at the Leaky Cauldron before your night on the town?”

 

 

 

Emma’s face fell. She still couldn’t figure out Wizarding money—when she had bought Bobbie’s school things, Flitwick had counted out her money for her. It was mortifying. But more embarrassing was the fact that she didn’t even have the muggle money to change into Wizarding money for her to be embarrassed about. She was scraping by eating peanut butter sandwiches—she didn’t have the extra money to buy...whatever food it was that Wizard’s bought in a place called the ‘Leaky Cauldron.’

 

 

 

But what Emma didn’t know is that Mr. George Weasley had been in her situation for most of his life and could guess, by her pause, that she didn’t have the money to eat out. It was still a new luxury that he had money to spare and George delighted in using it.

 

 

 

“Since it is your first excursion into the Wizarding World, I—gentleman that I am—will pay.” He swept a little ironic bow as Emma murmured, “No, I couldn’t….”

 

 

 

“Of course you could.”


 

“Its not even my first time going to Diagon Ally! Its my second! And I even got onto the half-way platform!”


 

“The ‘half-way platform.’” George was laughing at her, which annoyed Emma—he obviously didn’t understand how savvy she was with the magical world! And besides, she couldn’t just go out with strangers on the street and let them pay for her meals. She just…couldn’t.

 

 

 

But his eyes were so blue and he laughed so engagingly and he was so—

 

 

 

“You know what I mean,” Emma protested.

 

 

 

“I’ll see you at six,” George didn’t even acknowledge her previous objections. Emma sighed in a final defeat.


 

“You had better make it six-thirty. Traffic is terrible Friday nights and I usually leave the university late.” George smiled his mischievous smile and stuck out his hand to finalize the deal. For the first time in a long time Emma felt giddy an happy. They said their goodbyes and Emma watched as Mr. George Weasley crossed the street and disappeared, seemingly between two buildings.


 

Ready to leave—it was already dark—Emma reached for her purse on the bench next to her and saw something out of the corner of her eye.  She had no idea how it had gotten there.  George was good, she hadn't even noticed him write it.  Or maybe it was magic, but somehow, on her hand, written in cramped, messy handwriting was an address.  


 

         G. Weasley



 

         The Burrow near the little


 

         village of Ottery St. Catchpole


 

         --The owl will know the way


 

 


 

The owl? Emma snorted. 

 

 

 

If George Weasley thought she was going to brave and owl for him, he had another thing coming.


He wasn't that cute.

 






Author's Note:  This chapter will probably undergo many changes--its not exactly like I wanted, but I still wanted to publish it as soon as possible.  So its time for constructive criticism folks!  What do you think about this chapter?

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