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Disclaimer:  Harry Potter does not belong to me and I am making no profit in the creation of this story.

AN:  Thank you so much to my beta, TenthWeasleyWriter!

Chapter 4:  There For You

"And then she asked me to leave her alone.  She didn't recognize me.  They both died without ever remembering me..."  Hermione trailed off, turning her head to look out the window and into the fast approaching dawn.

The sun was casting a slight orange glow on the black of night as it neared the horizon.  It would be completely light out in less than two hours.  Hermione hadn't realized she'd been with George as long as she had.  The time had passed so quickly.  They hadn't even talked that much.  He'd been so comforting to be around, gently stroking her back until her breathing had stopped coming out erratically and her tears had crusted to the corners of her eyes.  She had fallen asleep on his lap with her head buried against him. 

She'd felt his head fall against hers in his sleep a couple hours later, the impact jarring her awake.  Hermione had then forced herself to reluctantly crawl off of him, feeling bashful about the position once she had calmed down.

George leaned up on his elbows from where he currently was sprawled out on his stomach next to her.  He had bided his time before finally coaxing Hermione to relay her nightmare to him.  He looked down at her as she finished the tale, watching her watch the sky from where she rested on her back.  The moon and stars weren't bright enough to reveal her entire face to him, yet through the shadows George could still make out the sad curve of her frown and the despairing shimmer of her eyes.

She tried not to notice his gaze.  Hermione could feel his eyes traveling across her skin, raising goose pimples on her shoulders and neck.  She wasn't used to having the older wizard's attention so focused upon her.  Her traitorous mind recalled the sighs and giggles of her female classmates during Hogwarts.  The Weasley twins had never been lacking in the department of fawning attention.  Who knew he was just as good at giving it as he was at receiving it?

"It was a nightmare, Granger," he whispered to her now.  "Your parents are safely on their way to Australia right now."

She sighed, rolling her head so that she could look up at him.  She reached an arm up to rest under her head.  "I know that, George, but that's only today.  There's always a chance that it will become a reality tomorrow.  Or the next day, or the day after that.  We don't know what will happen in the future."

They both greeted the truth of her words in silence.  George wanted to tell her that she was wrong and shouldn't worry, but he knew it would be a lie.  They really could lose any of their loved ones at any moment now that You-Know-Who was rampaging around Europe.  There were so many things that could go wrong in life.  The world was getting darker each and every day.  There were no more guarantees.  Even if they had a plan for how they thought their life would go, the plan now had to be tweaked.

In fact, there had been a time when George had had a very well-thought-out plan.  He had felt for certain that he was going to have a very successful joke shop with Fred, enjoy his youth, eventually settle down (after thoroughly enjoying the freedom of bachelorhood), and then have kids and live peacefully with his family all around him.  Fred and George had both even joked with their best mate, Lee Jordan, that they wanted to have enough kids between the lot of them to create their own Quidditch team.  Now all of those things were out of George's grasp.  Even his shop was questionable. Sure, it was still going fairly strong despite the difficult times, but one day soon it would need to be shut down for his safety and the safety of his family. 

Hermione had shut her eyes in the awkward silence, unable to keep staring into the saddened eyes of her friend as they gleamed at her through the darkness.  The twins weren't meant for drama and seriousness; they were there to bring on laughter in times when no one thought they would ever laugh again.  She hated being the cause for George's mood.  For the first time since she had Flooed him, Hermione regretted doing so.  She had dumped her woes on him and ruined his night.  She had woken him up from his sleep and caused him to worry about her in a time of war when he should have no worries other than his family and himself.  



"Sorry," they both said together.

They broke off with an embarrassed laugh, turning once more to look at each other. 

"You first," George said, smiling faintly. 
Hermione weakly returned the smile before taking a slow breath.  "I just wanted to apologize for this whole evening.  I really lost it after that dream, and you had been so sweet to me yesterday, so I knew you would listen to me.  But just because you were nice enough to listen doesn't mean you should have had to.  I'm terribly sorry for waking you up over a silly nightmare."

"You're upset that you told me about all of this?"  George attempted to summarize, unable to keep a frown from his lips as his eyebrows scrunched together in confusion.

"I'm upset I made you worry over something as inconsequential as a nightmare," she corrected.

George shook his head at her.  "I meant what I said yesterday, Hermione.  I wanted you to be able to talk to me about what you've been going through.  If you're uncomfortable talking to me about it, though, you don't have to.  I can go get Ron..." 

He really didn't want to get his brother.  George had thoroughly enjoyed the time he had spent with Hermione the past few hours.  He couldn't remember the last time he had just laid next to someone and let the silence wash over the room.  He could really only do that with Fred.  Also, he was fairly positive that the crush his younger brother had on the witch currently sprawled across his bed was still very much in effect.  George had been sickened on more than one occasion over the years just watching Ron salivate over the one girl he was scared silly of asking out.

A feeling of immense discomfort rose in his chest at the thought of Hermione sharing those looks with Ron.  George briefly wondered if she did, in fact, return the feelings that Ron had for her.  He felt suddenly very protective over her – which was ridiculous, because Hermione and Ron had been best friends since first year, whereas George could barely remember a time over the last six years when Hermione had breathed a word to him or his twin that wasn't a scolding over a product of theirs.

Except, of course, for yesterday and today. 

"No," Hermione said, shaking her head.  "I don't want to speak to him, and I didn't mean what I said in the way you interpreted it."

George looked at her expectantly.

"I've really enjoyed talking with you.  I feel much better now that we've spoken about it all," she murmured, blushing shyly.  She was really happy that it was still too dark for them to see each other as more than just shadows and floating eyes.

George, however, wished he could fully see her face after that confession. Her words made him feel warm, and he knew he was smiling just a tiny bit too much at her.  Any last shred of self-doubt he had left him, and he suddenly felt much more confident around Hermione than he had at the beginning of the visit. 

"Me too, Granger."

"I just feel bad about waking you and complaining about something that wasn't real," Hermione continued, sitting up on the bed and turning to face him with her legs tucked underneath her. 

"I don't mind in the slightest! Besides, how many chances does a bloke have to end up in bed with Hermione Granger?" George teased, feeling on top of the world from his conversation with her. 

George barely had time to cover his face with his hands before she started swatting him viciously with the pillow that seconds before had rested under George's chest.  They both laughed as George finally found his own weapon and returned her attack.  Hermione smacked him upside the head and attempted to duck as he hurled his own pillow across the bed and into her stomach.  It hit her and caused her to fall onto the floor, rolling with laughter.  George peeked over the side of the bed at her with a wide grin, but immediately shrunk back for cover as she chucked her pillow up at him. 

They both continued to laugh until they heard the sound of the pillow knocking over a lamp which had rested on a nightstand between Fred and George's beds.  The lamp teetered precariously on the edge of the desk, causing Hermione to remember the ink falling on Ron that afternoon.  George desperately reached his hand into the pocket of his pyjama trousers, attempting to find his wand.  By the time his hand closed around the handle, the lamp was hurtling to the ground.  It all happened way too fast for either of them to even think about catching it.  The crash sounded like an explosion as the sound resonated violently in the early morning quiet of the Burrow. 

George leaned back over the side of the bed and met Hermione's panicked wide eyes with his own.

"Did you cast a Silencing Charm?" Hermione asked worriedly.

The guilty look that he gave her was the only answer she needed.  She quickly rose to her feet and started twirling around the room, looking for a place to hide.  She was yanked off to a corner of the room on the other side of Fred's bed mid-twirl by George, however.  She had started to ask him where they were going when he suddenly threw open a door and shoved her inside. 
It wasn't until the door closed behind the pair of them that Hermione and George realized how uncomfortably small the closet was.  She blushed as she felt George's arm graze her cheek as he shifted to get comfortable, holding himself up using the shelf which Hermione's back rested against.  They were face to face, but neither could see exactly where each other was due to the pitch blackness of the space.  Hermione worriedly wondered just how far apart their faces were.  The thought made her skin flame in embarrassment.
George once again reached for his wand and cast a locking spell on the door.  He chose to cast the spell which he and his twin used growing up to keep their mother out of their products.  She'd had a tendency back then to throw them out, not understanding the genius that had usually gone into making them.  The locking spell they had come up with was an intricate ward that had come to them upon their discovery of the Marauder's Map in Hogwarts.  To get into anything, whether it be a trunk, closet, or drawer, with which the spell had been cast, one had to say "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."
Hermione cast a quick Silencing Charm as he put up the wards, explaining them to her as he went once he was sure that no one outside of the closet could hear them.

"That's brilliant, George," she said, genuinely delighted at the cleverness of the spell. 
"Don't sound too surprised, Granger," he responded while his ears turned red at the compliment.  "I don't think you have ever admired our work before."

"That's because you were always testing on first years, and my job was to tell you to stop.  I've always admired the wonderful magic Fred and you use for your products."
"Who would have thought?  Hermione Granger, a closet prankster!" he exclaimed with a smile.  "Get it?"

Hermione laughed, shaking her head at him despite the fact that he wouldn't be able to see it. "Yes, I get it.  It's funny because we're actually in a closet. Ha. Ha."

George smirked at her sarcastic tone before turning to press his ear against the closet door.  He was almost positive he heard the door to his room open.

"I wish I had known you appreciated our pranks all these years," he whispered back to her.
"Would it have made any difference?  I mean, what's one more adoring fan when you had an entire school’s worth?"

George was positive someone was in the room now.  There were footsteps, and he was fairly sure someone had picked the lamp up off the floor. The sound of glass hitting the floor reached his ears.
"After all –"

George reached backwards towards Hermione and placed a hand gently over her mouth, pulling her against his form so that he could silence her and continue to listen to what was happening on the other side of the door at the same time. Hermione gave a squeak of surprise, pressing her hands into his chest to maintain some distance between them in the already immensely tight space.  George hushed her gently before placing his ear once more to the door.

The person on the other side of the door (his mum, most likely) was suspicious enough to wander around the room a bit.  Then George felt the door knob of the closet twist.  He heard a frustrated sigh that told him he was correct in assuming it was his mother.  Then she muttered a quick "Alohomora," causing the door to shake lightly as the charm hit it.  When the door didn't open, there was suddenly complete silence.
George tried to listen intently to what was happening outside of the closet, yet he found himself having to fight desperately to keep his mind from wandering.  Hermione’s lips were pressed against his palm, her breath coming in soft puffs against his skin.  Her legs were tangled in his because the closet wasn't large enough for him to stand up straight, due to his rather impressive height.  Her hands were splayed against his chest in a manner that was meant to prevent them from getting too intimate, but resulted in exactly the opposite.  George found himself enjoying the warmth she was emitting through the simple touch.  He also couldn't help but appreciate the soft curve of her waist from where his hand had come to a rest on her side. Everything about their current position was absolutely distracting.

He listened for a few more moments before hearing the door to his room close.

"I think she's gone, but we should probably give it a few more moments before chancing it," he said quietly, dropping his hands from where they held Hermione against him.  "It probably wouldn't be good for us to be caught together so late.  Mum would think we were doing naughty things to each other."
Hermione blushed at his words.  The last thing she wanted right now was to have to listen to a long-winded lecture about the birds and bees, especially with George.  She probably would be incapable of looking at him for the rest of her life if that ever were to happen.  Therefore, the pair of them spent the next ten minutes chatting quietly in the dark closet in case Molly returned.

By the time they deemed it safe to emerge from their hiding spot, the sun was fully breaking over the horizon.  The household would be rising in no time at all.  Hermione allowed George to wrap his arms around her once more to Apparate them back to the living room. They both looked at each other hesitantly before finally stepping forward for a long, tender hug.  Hermione's face once again rested over George's heart, and he stroked her back.  Before he turned to go, Hermione leaned up and pressed a kiss to his cheek as she had done the previous day.  They smiled at each other, saying no more, as it wasn't necessary.  Then George stepped into the grate, shouted his destination, and was gone.
By the time Hermione was in her bed, she could hardly remember the nightmare that had caused all of her distress.  Instead, she fell back asleep with only the thought of a soft caress to her waist as she had been pressed into his chest. 

Hermione reached for the jam later that morning at breakfast.  Ron and Ginny had both had to jump on her bed in order to get her up.  She couldn't remember the last time she had slept in so late, but once she had awoken she knew she hadn't felt so well-rested in a very long time.

"Can you pass the pumpkin juice, Hermione?" Mr. Weasley asked.

Hermione reached across the table to the empty place setting across from her and grabbed the pitcher.  She smiled at the older man as she handed it to him.  It felt really good to be sitting down for a meal with her adoptive family.  Ginny sat to her left, Ron and Molly sat across from them, and Mr. Weasley sat at the head of the table.  Hermione sighed contently before biting into a crumpet.
Then there was the sound of the Floo Network being activated from the living room.  Hermione glanced up in time to see both Fred and George come through the doorway of the dining room with large smiles on their faces. 

"Morning!" they greeted together, falling into seats at the table.  George sat next to Ron and Fred sat across from him, next to Hermione. 
"What are you two doing here?" Molly asked delightedly, quickly rising from the table to give her boys a kiss and to pile food on their plates.

"Well, we needed to come over anyway to help with the new wards," Fred explained.

"So we decided to make a day out of it," George continued.

"Unless we're not welcomed," they said together, smiling expectantly. 
"Of course you're welcomed," Mr. Weasley laughed.  "What a lovely surprise!"

George took the opportunity to make eye contact with Hermione, noting to himself that she looked wonderful this morning.  She looked relaxed and rested.   Hermione returned his gaze with a gentle smile, which caused his heart to race.
"We just wanted to see you," he said, trying to pass it off as a reply to his father, though he knew it was really solely directed to the lovely bookworm that was getting under his skin and making him itch with a desire to be around her.

"That was sweet of you," his mum laughed, patting him affectionately on the head and effectively drawing his gaze away from the object of his attention.

Hermione couldn't help but stare at George as he grinned up at his mother while she piled enough food onto his plate to feed a whole Quidditch team.  Her heart was racing from his words.  Hermione almost felt as if the George she had seen last night was a secret for her and her alone. He even looked like an entirely different person to her in the light of day.  He was smiling and joking around with his twin, whereas this morning he had been sensitive and sweet for her eyes only.  She felt herself flush at the idea of having a part of the multifaceted man to herself.  It was an exhilarating thought.

AN:  There you go.  I hope you enjoyed a full chapter of George/Hermione goodness!  Please review and let me know what you think of it!

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