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Chapter Eight: Lovely Changes
“Well, I was walking after you left me for a third year boy,” started George, explaining what had happened while he and Hermione had been apart. His tone of voice let her know that he was saying that part jokingly. “And I quite literally ran, or walked rather, into none other than The Slytherin Frog Prince himself. Hmm, I guess we're 'friends' now, though so I shouldn't make fun of him. Merlin, is that odd or what?”
“Alright, so you've told me both the beginning and end of that story, but left out the middle. You should know that I'm still utterly confused.”
George grinned a bit. “I guess I did, didn't I? Well anyways, so I walked into Malfoy, but the thing was, I didn't know it was Malfoy!”
“How did you not know?” Hermione interjected. “He's as inconspicuous as a blow-fish!”
George rolled his eyes. “Well if you would stop interrupting me, then maybe I could finish the story, love.” Hermione's silence led him to continue his tale. “Anyways,” he continued, “So I didn't know it was Malfoy because I was spacing out at the moment. I think he was spacing out too, so that's how we ran into each other. So after we stared each other down like in an old muggle western movie-”
“How could you have possibly ever seen-” George's glare sent Hermione's millionth interruption into silence.
“So we had a little spat about who's life sucked the most, but then Malfoy was like actually...nice. Well, at least nice for Malfoy anyways. He said that he was sorry and thank you! And, I did find out that his life seems to suck pretty badly. So, I offered him friendship and protection, and all that good stuff,” said George shrugging. “Who knows? Maybe he's changed? He could know things that could help the Order!”
“I'm sure it's possible, but I mean he's never said that he would just go completely on our side, has he?” asked Hermione tentatively, hoping not to get yelled at for interjecting again, but the story seemed to be over.
“Well....no, but I mean it could happen. Anyways, I think we should talk to him.”
“We, as in who?” asked Hermione skeptically, already being able to guess pretty well who he was referring to.
“We as in us. You and me,” he clarified.
By now, the two had reached Gryffindor Common Room, but hadn't really noticed that fact. The Fat Lady, who had been waiting patiently for probably the only time in her life as a portrait, asked for the password, which happened to be Mandrakes, so Hermione said it, and the two entered. Most everyone was still at dinner because no one tended to leave dinner twenty minutes early like the pair just had. Only a few other students were present, and they were having their own conversations in a corner of the room. Hermione and George decided to sit down on the couch to talk.
“So what do you think?” asked George quietly, so that no one would overhear their conversation.
“About what?” asked Hermione.
“About us trying to talk to Malfoy.”
“About you two, WHAT?” asked Fred's portrait, causing for the few members of the room to turn mid-conversation and look their way.
George groaned. “To get information, Fred. My goodness, you're nosy.”
“Well at least I'm not holey!” Fred countered.
Hermione snickered quietly. She hated to admit how much the twins cracked her up. She was supposed to be the voice of reason, but she had always really liked them, except for when they tortured first years of course. The twins started a little debate and Hermione smiled to herself wistfully. It was almost like old times, and if she closed her eyes, it was. She couldn't see that George had a hole where his ear was supposed to be, or that Fred wasn't even alive...
Hermione walked up the stairs to leave the twins to their banter and to also go to bed early. She thought about what had happened to George that day. Could Malfoy really have changed that much? She remembered that in her 6h year Harry had possessed an obsession with the fact that he speculated that Malfoy was a Death Eater. Of course, Hermione being her usual self had basically told him that he was insane to think that. She pretty much disbelieved him the whole year. Malfoy had used the Room of Requirement to bring in murderous convict Death Eaters into Hogwarts itself, and maybe if she had listened to Harry the whole time, then she could have helped to prevent it. Dumbledore could still be alive.
And George expected her to believe that Malfoy had spontaneously just changed? And even if he had, then what? Did the fact that he was good now outweigh the other horrendous crimes he'd previously committed? The good in her wanted to say yes, but she just wasn't sure if she could.
Sunday morning seemed to come very quickly, and Hermione felt like she had only slept for two hours when she had gotten at least twelve hours of sleep. Maybe the reason the morning seemed to come fast was because of the red head that was currently shaking her very roughly awake.
“Hermione!” Ginny cried way too cheerfully for it to be 8:30 in the morning.
“What?” Hermione groaned face-down into her pillow.
“Georgie-dearest says that if you don't get up right this instant, you'll regret that decision later.”
“He talks big for someone who can't even get up the Girls' staircases without sliding back down them,” Hermione muttered while her face was still in her pillow. It actually came out more like, “Ee tkls bg frr summun woo kinteevin gerruptuh gurrs sterkuses wout slying bickownem,” but Ginny, having known Hermione for years now, understood the gist of what she said.
“He says it's important,” Ginny said in a sickeningly sweet persuasive tone. “Hermione, if a man that I loved, mostly Harry, said he needed me, I would go no matter what time it was! In the morning, at night, in the rain, snow, sleet, dessert, or coniferous forest! It doesn't matter! I would-”
“FINE, GIN. Just shut up,” Hermione said though gritted teeth getting out of her bed and heading towards the bathroom. Once she was in there, Ginny quietly thrust her fist in the air. Ah, sweet success. She could always get her friend up, but the fact that Hermione hadn't objected to Ginny's accusation of her being in love with George didn't go unnoticed by either of them.
A half an hour later, Hermione walked downstairs to see George waiting impatiently on the couch.
“Finally,” he said when he saw her approach. “What took you so long?”
“I took a shower, and got ready,” said Hermione with a shrug.
“Remind me to never become a girl.”
“You have nothing to worry about,” Fred's portrait said.
“And what's that supposed to mean?” George countered.
“You already are one!”
Hermione quickly ushered George out of the room so he wouldn't do anything he regretted.
Once they were out of the Common Room they continued at their normal pace. “So what exactly is so important that I had to wake up at the crack of dawn for it?”
“Well, Hermione, if 8:30 is your crack of dawn then I'd hate to see what your 'late' is. Honestly, I thought that bookworms liked getting up early,” replied George, quite obviously ignoring her question.
“How many bookworms do you even know?” she asked.
“You'd be surprised,” said George with a grin.
Hermione scowled. “Hey...didn't I ask what you got me out of bed for?”
“You did. I just didn't answer you,” he responded in a matter-of-factly tone. Hermione shot him another nasty look. “Fine. Last night I sent an owl to Malfoy asking if he would meet with you and me. He replied this morning saying to meet him at 9:15 down by the Black Lake. A little bit too Slytherin for my taste, but I guess it's the best we're going to get.”
The two continued their long walk down to the Black Lake in silence. Hermione wondered what exactly they were in for once they started their little chat with Malfoy. In probably the longest conversation they'd ever had, she's backhanded him across the face. What a great history. But really, Hermione didn't know so much about him. How could she have known someone for seven years, but still not know the slightest bit about them? It seemed almost impossible to her, but it had turned out this way. Hermione Granger knew virtually nothing about Draco Malfoy.
At least with Voldemort, she'd known plenty things about him. She knew his real name, about his orphanage where he grew up, when he'd attended Hogwarts, what subjects he liked while he was there, even that he'd traveled to Albania. Ask Hermione about Voldemort, and she could tell you almost anything, but ask her about Draco Malfoy, and she could only give a highly limited perspective.
The truth was that Hermione was a little frightened. She didn't even know if Malfoy would be a threat to them or not. She had carefully avoided him since the war. Maybe it was because she knew that if she saw him, she would have to formally offer protection to him, and quite frankly, Hermione didn't know if she was even capable of doing that. But the thing was, George had solved her problem, hadn't he? He'd already offered Malfoy to enter their wonderful safety-blanket. If this was true, then why was Hermione still afraid?
Finally, they reached the waterfront. At first Hermione didn't see Malfoy. He was crouched beside a large willow tree on the farthest edge of the lake. He was focused, it seemed, on the depths of the cold water, and the pair wasn't even sure if he noticed their arrival. George led the way, and she followed closely behind.
“I wasn't aware that there were any other willows at Hogwarts quite as large as the Womping Willow,” Hermione commented to George when they got to were the Slytherin Prince himself was crouched.
“There are,” responded Malfoy, still looking out at the lake. “But thank Merlin, this one is actually stationary.”
Hermione found herself smiling. She loved a good witty comment even though most of them seemed to come from her own mouth. Hearing someone else say one was a pleasant change.
Malfoy stood up and turned on his heels to face them, all in one graceful move. Anyone else doing that same move would have looked like a bad Michael Jackson impersonator, but somehow, the ability to still look good while doing ridiculous moves just came with the whole Malfoy package.
“You rang?” asked Malfoy in his infamous drawl, “Or scribbled?” he corrected himself.
“Yes, we did. I think we should talk,” George responded, in a forced-polite way.
“The Yankees,” George said with sarcasm. “The Order, for Merlin's sake,” he clarified.
“What on earth are the Yankees?” Malfoy asked, suddenly curious.
“Do all men have an affinity for sports? Goodness,” Hermione groaned. Malfoy and George both stared at her, amused. “What?” she asked feeling oddly self conscious. She folded her arms, and looked up at the two.
“Are you cold?” asked George who had just ripped his light jacket off as quick as lightning and was offering it to Hermione.
Now that she thought about it, she was a little chilly down by the drafty Black Lake. She offered a warm smile and gratefully took the jacket, thinking to herself how odd it would have made George look if she hadn't accepted it. She put it on, and it smelled of him. It was a smell she couldn't really describe in words. It was just George's scent, manly like the woods or freshly cut grass, and like whatever cologne he used.
Malfoy raised his eyebrows, still amused. “Traded one Weasley in for the other, I see. At least this one doesn't act and look like a doofus. I approve.”
Hermione stared at him incredulously. However much his morals had changed, his cockiness still remained the same. “I didn't ask for your opinion on who and who I don't choose to date, Malfoy, so stop giving it. Nobody cares.”
George reacted internally a bit. Had Hermione just implied that they were dating? He even ignored the backhanded compliment Malfoy had just given him for a moment. When he finally remembered it, he figured it would probably be too late to yell out an offensive, 'Hey!'
Malfoy looked like he was going to give a comeback, probably something like, 'if you don't care about my opinion, then why are you going to such great lengths to yell at me about it, instead of just ignoring it?' but he decided against it. He grumbled a second, swallowed, and finally said, “We shouldn't argue, especially if we're allies. I do plan on helping you, unless you don't want my help...” he trailed off uncertainly. The effects of the war were finally showing because Malfoy had always been confident, but now his confidence level was probably only a fourth of what it had been before the war. Uncertainty was a weird emotion for him.
Hermione was the first to react. “As much as it pains me physically to say these words: you're right, Malfoy.”
“You are,” George agreed.
Hermione was as astonished as George had been the previous day when Malfoy said thank you. Apparently there were a lot of things she needed to get used to, and fast. Hermione and George talked to Malfoy for a long while after that rocky and awkward start to their conversation. By the end of the day, Malfoy was well on his way to becoming a member of the Order.
The two were walking back to the Common Room after a hearty supper that only either Hogwarts or Mrs. Weasley could make. In this case, it was the former. George and Hermione surprisingly hadn't felt awkward in their relationship, even after all the said and unsaid things that had occurred earlier in the day. George could admit that a few certain said things were bothering him slightly though. He couldn't take it anymore on the walk back.
“Hermione, can we talk?” he asked gently, but Hermione could tell something was weighing him down.
“Sure,” she said leading to an empty corridor where the Advanced Arithmancy Studies classroom was located.
“Arithmancy, a class I would never take in a million years,” George said with a reverence, looking at the closed classroom door with a frown strewn across his face. “Let alone at the advanced level.”
Hermione looked up him. Even with a frown on his face, he was quite something to look at, she decided. “I know that's not what you wanted to talk to me about,” said Hermione with a playful smile. “Unless, it is, then I can tell you all about it. It's my favorite subject.”
George looked down at her, his frown immediately changing into a smile. “Maybe another time,” he said. “You're right. I didn't want to talk to you about Arithmancy.”
“Then what do you want to talk to me about?” she asked, holding his gaze.
George sighed. “Today, it sounded as if you were implying that we were dating. Well, are we? I want to be prepared in case I have to get you a Valentine's Day present or something,” he joked.
Hermione laughed, the sound music to George's ears. “Do you think we are?” she asked.
“Well, one doesn't usually ask a question unless he knows the answer to it, unless they're trying to be annoying, or like Malfoy. I've always thought the two were one in the same though. Anyways, I'm neither annoying, hopefully, or Malfoy, definitely. So I genuinely don't know, Hermione.”
“Touché,” she responded. Then she asked nervously, “Do you want to be dating?”
George sighed. “I do Hermione, but I don't want to rush you into something you don't want to be in. You dated Ron. I don't know. It might be weird or wrong to you to date his brother. This is your choice. I won't say I'll be fine either way, because that would be untrue. If you didn't want to date me, then I'd be pretty devastated actually, but I'd still be here for you. My friendship to you would and will never change.”
Hermione smiled. “I want to be with you also,” she said.
George let out a sigh of relief and wrapped his arms around her waist. “Then, Hermione Granger, will you be my girlfriend?”
The two were both grinning like idiots by now, and still were when George bent down to kiss her for the first time on her lips. A weird and tense day for them ended with the most lovely and most perfect kiss. And school had only just started. What else could be in store for them?
A/N: Hey guys, sorry for the long wait, but I've had so much more new school work with the new semster! Thank goodness gym and biology are over! Now I have to get ready for this opera..yeah, I sing opera..teehee. Thanks for waiting with me guys, and staying with me! Keep reading, there's plenty more to come! Like I say all the time, I vow to finish this story, eventually! :) R&R please!
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