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

AN: As always, thank you to my beta for this story — TenthWeasleyWriter! Also, thank you to the lovely folks who have taken the time out to review! I hope others start reviewing, as well. I love the feedback! :)






Chapter Six: Hopelessly Affected

The sky was dark and dreary, the kind of weather no one wants to leave the comfort of their bed in. Rain poured down heavily while the wind pounded against the side of the barn that the twins hid in for the night. The sound of the downpour on the barn's tin roof was enough to drive even the most patient person mad. George hadn't exactly grown up in a manor, but he'd definitely grown up in a house with soft beds and plenty of food. His tiny flat above the shop had never looked better as he cramped his large frame into the barn's small loft, next to the equally large frame of his brother.

The last few days had made him feel like he was living in Azkaban. He just wanted to be home in his bed, preferably not alone, with a large, delicious meal made by his mum. He knew he had to grow a pair and endure the rough situation for the Order, and he fully intended on seeing it through, but that didn't stop him from muttering curses under his breath now and then, much to Fred's amusement.

"Someone's cranky," Fred had chuckled once. "Feeling a bit too delicate for this spiffy venue, are we?"

"Yeah," George had replied. "I reckon I may catch a bug from spending too much time shoved up against you."

"That's what all the birds tell me, as well," his brother had smirked, eyes flashing with laughter.

George had smiled in return, enjoying the brief break from his harsh mood, only to have it return no more than five minutes later. George's patience was rapidly wearing thin, and he couldn't believe his terrible luck. Why did he have to get shipped off to live in a run-down barn in the hills of Scotland right after he had taken a huge step with Hermione?

It had been four days since he had last seen her. Four days of constantly trying to free his thoughts of her so that he could concentrate on his mission. He swore he could still feel how soft her hair had felt as he'd run his fingers through it. And he could still imagine how incredible it had been to press her body against his while they'd kissed. The memories had gotten so frustrating, in fact, that George had even asked Fred if he happened to have any Forget-Me-Shots on him — a part of their WonderWitch line which came in a tube that you drank to temporarily forget the person who most consumed your thoughts. George had regretted asking the moment his brother had turned a knowing grin on him.

What George found to be completely barmy about the whole situation was that they weren't even seeing much action. Despite the potential danger implied by a mission for the Order of the Phoenix, Fred and George had merely been playing cat and mouse for the entirety of their time in Scotland. The mission was not action-packed enough to focus George's attention away from Hermione, and definitely not action-packed enough to make it seem worthwhile to be apart from her just when he'd got her.

The twins' mission was basically to trail Fenrir Greyback wherever he went for a few days, which was outrageously frustrating, since the werewolf had scarred their older brother Bill just a few weeks ago, and they weren't authorized to do anything about it. Moody had been adamant that the mission remain solely surveillance-based. Greyback had been sent to roam around Great Britain looking for supporters of You-Know-Who who could serve as some sort of rogue Auror squad, according to an undercover source working for the Order. As far as George knew, these people would work under the Death Eaters with the job of smoking out Muggle-borns and "blood traitors."

The Order, therefore, needed to figure out exactly who Greyback was recruiting more than they needed to take him down. If they did take him down, then someone the Order wasn't already aware of would be assigned the same job. It was easier in the long run to let the werewolf lead them right to more of You-Know-Who's followers without stepping in to stop him, no matter how much the evil sod deserved it.

After all, thousands of lives were on the line — including Hermione's and his family's.

Over the last few days, Fred and George had had a miserable time playing hide-and-seek with Greyback. He had heightened hearing and sight, so it was nearly impossible for them to get close to him while he was on the move. They had taken to keeping hundreds of meters between them and him for the most part, often using Muggle binoculars to keep him in sight despite the distance.

When that wasn't enough, they'd found that they could use intricate variations of charms they used for products to get close enough to him to listen in on conversations he had with prospective recruits, without setting off his senses to their presence. Their ability with charms was exactly what had made Fred and George perfect for the job to begin with. They'd even been able to detect where Greyback would Apparate to by stealing some of his hair from a spot he'd slept one night after he had started moving again the next day. They'd managed to put a modified, less dark version of a tracking spell on the hair so that they could trace his magic. They figured once he Apparated too far away for them to trace, they'd finally be able to go home.

George couldn't wait.

Every time he shut his eyes for his turn to rest at night, he would dream of Hermione. He would vividly remember how she had looked when they'd said their goodbyes. She'd still been wearing his jumper, the material falling almost to her knees on her petite frame, the skirt of her sundress poking out a bit from underneath it. Her smile had been devastatingly beautiful as she had given him one last kiss, her eyes betraying her sadness.

His breath had caught as he'd looked down at her.

He couldn't believe he was so bloody overwhelmed by her. It made him feel like a pubescent teenager again. Even back then, he'd never gotten as crazy over a bird as he was over Hermione. Never in his life had he been so affected by a woman. Sure, he'd had a brief fling with Alicia Spinnet around the time of his sixth year, but it was nothing as staggering as what he felt for Hermione. There was just something so wonderful about her, like she radiated pure goodness. She was a sparkle of everything right in the world in such bleak times. Her light attracted him like a hopelessly pathetic moth to a flame, and he couldn't keep his thoughts away from her. During his mission he'd actually taken to humming to drown out his thoughts of her, much to Fred's dismay.

"You're driving me completely mad, Georgie," Fred groaned the fifth day of their trip, stopping the man in question with a hand to the chest. They'd been stealthily creeping through the woods about three hundred meters behind Greyback while protected by all sorts of charms to keep their cover. "Since when do you hum? It's getting old."

George rolled his eyes, trying to keep walking. "Since we've been trapped in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do."

"It's all right if you want to talk about her," Fred sighed, causing George's eyes to fly up to meet his brother's. "Don't give me that look. I know you better than I know myself, so I definitely know when you're pining after a bird like a desperate sod," Fred continued, smiling widely.

"I have no idea what you're talking about."

Fred wrapped his arm around George and started walking again, quickly raising his wand to make sure they were still headed in the right direction. "Hermione's lovely. I completely understand why you're tangled in her web like a sad, sad fly. She's a bossy little thing, which I'm sure helps the imagination while you long for her from a distance. Let me guess — in your dreams she's a professor who you've gotten detention with for being a naughty boy who needs to be punished?"

George shook his head in irritation while his cheeks grew warm.

"Unless you really don't fancy her, because then I'll take a whack at wooing her," Fred said lightly, looking forward with a smirk. "I bet she's a firecracker in bed. Plus, she obviously finds me quite dashing."

"And what makes you say that?" George asked, aiming to make his voice sound airy like his brother's, yet unable to keep his possessiveness from darkening his tone.

Fred laughed, pleased by George's reaction. "Because if she snogged my ugly twin's socks off, then I'm sure she'll completely have her wicked way with me once the opportunity presents itself."

George sighed then, knowing the jig was up, and not quite minding. He'd been dying to talk to Fred about Hermione ever since he'd gotten back to his flat after their morning together. George shared everything with Fred, and he didn't want this to be different. He'd just been worried about talking about it with someone before he had asked Hermione to be with him officially. Sometimes their time together seemed so fragile and perfect that he didn't want to share it with the world. He had to admit, though, that someone would have to be completely oblivious to not have noticed the change between them in the last two weeks.

"You saw that, huh?"

"Hard to miss, especially when one is hanging out a bedroom window with binoculars. Almost fell out!"

George snorted. "You're an arse. You would've deserved it."

"I love you, too."

They smiled at each other then, and released each other to direct their attention to their task. Fred did, however, breach the subject once more later that evening when they were settling down to watch Greyback as he rested. "You're going to have to ask Ron about Hermione. You know that, right?"

"Yeah."

"Good."

And George did know. He planned to ask Ron about his feelings for Hermione when he returned from the mission. George was hoping that his brother's embarrassment over his long-standing crush would keep him from speaking up about it. That way, George could manipulate the git into saying that he would be fine if she dated someone else. He knew it was downright slimy to approach it that way, but George knew Ron liked Hermione. He just couldn't bring himself to care anymore. Ron had had six years to tickle her fancy, and had wasted that time being pretty awful to her. Besides, George had forged a bond with her since she had arrived at the Burrow, and he knew she felt the same way.

The first time he'd grown confident in her feelings for him had been two days after the morning they'd spent together. She'd been sitting outside, curled up with a book as the sun radiated off of her. He could have sworn she was one of those angels that Muggles believed in. When he'd gotten close enough where she'd noticed his presence, she had shielded her eyes and looked up at him with a warm smile.

"Hello, George."

"Granger," he'd stated, grinning softly while vaguely realizing he'd never loved the way someone said his name more. Then, when she'd slid her gaze down to take in the broom clutched in his right hand, George had widened his smile. "Up for some Quidditch?"

Her lips had turned down. "I don't think so."

"C'mon, love, I'll help you. We'll be on the same team, and we'll be a combined Seeker so you can warm to it," he had urged, feeling far too excited by the concept than was warranted. "I'm pants at playing Seeker, so you'll outshine me for sure."

When she sighed and climbed to her feet after a moment's thought, he'd felt both ecstatic and surprised. She had shaken her head then, as if she couldn't believe what was happening. Before she could change her mind, he'd offered her the broom in hopes that the feel of it would help calm her down, since he knew she never played. Harry and Ron had been asking her for years, which had never gotten her further than acting as a referee from the ground.

When they reached the makeshift pitch, he'd finally relented and asked her why she'd suddenly given in to playing. Her response had stopped his heart.

"Because I doubt I could dislike anything I did with you, George."

The memory made him grin.

George knew their relationship was progressing too quickly; yet, they'd spent as much time as they could with each other since her arrival and he felt like he knew her for the first time in the six years since they'd met. Plus, he loved the way she made him feel, even though he felt like a nitwit at times because of it. In fact, George sometimes found himself wishing the entire concept of relationships came with a manual — not that he'd read it. He'd made it through Hogwarts without reading a single book and didn't plan to start now. He'd leave that to his lovely bookworm.

Gods, he was mad for her. He didn't care if it was rushed and he didn't care what others would say about it. He just couldn't wait to see her again. He'd never really ached for someone before. It was a new, exhilarating feeling.

He fell asleep imagining her slowly lifting his blue jumper over her head.

He awoke to the sound of an explosion.

 





On the morning of the sixth day since George had left, Hermione had awoken to a feeling of hopeless dread. He had told her they'd be gone for three days, and her anxiety regarding his safety had gotten progressively worse with each passing hour. In order to get to sleep at night, she'd started taking dreamless sleep potions. Between Fred, George, and her situation with her parents, she'd never get any rest without the extra kick. George had been the sole reason she had gotten rest following her arrival at the Burrow, his endless comfort surrounding her even when they were separated by miles. But this was different. She couldn't sleep when she had no idea how he was.

The Weasleys' family clock had shown both Fred and George to be in "Mortal Peril" since the moment they'd left, which had made Molly immediately start sobbing as soon as she'd noticed. Hermione had gone numb once she had seen it for herself. She'd then taken to stopping in front of the clock rather frequently. She would will the clock with every fiber of her being to move the hands with the twins' names on them to "Home." She felt at a loss for what to do besides wait, and she had never been known for her patience.

George had been hers for all of an hour before he'd had to leave her. His arms had desperately clutched her to his chest while he'd buried his face against her neck. She could remember how his touch had lingered before he'd turned to go, his hands trailing dejectedly away from her as if it were painful to break the contact. She knew it was silly, but she felt like she had a heavy weight pressing down upon her chest when he was gone. It was too soon to be so dependent upon him, but she couldn't help it. He was there for her in the worst time of her life.

"Hermione, dear," Molly said now, tearing Hermione from her thoughts. "Be a doll and go grab Ron and Ginny for supper."

Looking away from the clock she'd spent the better part of the day watching restlessly, she forced a tiny smile at the older woman. Molly looked as though the stress was taking years off her life, and Hermione would do anything to help make it easier for her, no matter how simple it may be. She hated that in a few short weeks she'd be doing the same thing to the older woman that Fred and George had done, except her disappearance with Harry and Ron wouldn't be through the Order, and would be for a very long time. She wondered how Molly would handle it.

"I'll be right back," Hermione murmured, ducking out of the kitchen to head upstairs.

She found Ginny and Ron together, obviously at a loss for what to do as they sat on the floor of Ron's room in silence. They both looked up when Hermione stepped into the room. They looked pained, a feeling she shared. It was so much worse knowing that something obviously had gone wrong, since Fred and George had been gone days passed when they should have returned. And there was no hope of knowing for sure what had happened until they got back, unless they were still missing a week following the day of their supposed return. The Order had a strict policy of waiting a week before looking for their members so as to not interrupt a mission that was merely taking longer than was expected.

"It's time for dinner," she said quietly, biting her lip to hold back sadness at the looks on her friends' faces.

As they marched down the stairs toward the dining room, Hermione felt her eyes naturally drift back to the clock on the kitchen wall. She couldn't seem to help herself. George was always on her mind, and the clock was the only connection she had to his whereabouts, no matter how vague it was. Any connection was better than no connection, because she feared the unknown. Hermione didn't know for sure if her parents were safe, and she didn't know for sure what the devil "Mortal Peril" meant for George. All missions could be qualified as such, no matter how dangerous they actually were. A mission for the Order always had the possibility of death attached to it.

Then Hermione saw something that caused her body to freeze and her neck to snap around to focus fully on the clock. The hands had moved. Her heart started racing in overdrive and she couldn't make her brain form a rational thought. The world seemed to stop as the clock's ticking echoed loudly in her head. She vaguely realized Ron and Ginny had kept walking, not noticing her reaction.

Then she was moving.

She couldn't remember tearing through the house to the back door. She couldn't remember sprinting passed a few Order guards stationed around the property, ignoring their grunts of surprise. All she knew was that she'd never run faster in her life. Hermione stopped for nothing until she finally spotted them by the garden.

The Weasley twins.

They hadn't seen her yet. Both seemed to be worse for wear from where Hermione was standing, panting hard as her heart squeezed in her chest painfully. The emotions were too much to handle. Tears started filling her eyes to the brim, falling down her cheeks as she blinked them away. Fred had turned to face her, seeing her before his brother did. She could tell that he was bruised and battered. She could only assume George looked the same way as he faced away from her, probably trying to catch his breath after Apparating.

"George," Fred stated with an expression she could only guess was relief.

"What?"

"Go get your girl, mate," Fred finished with a smile.

 





George spun around, surprise plainly written across his face as he saw her. She was wearing another sundress, a white one that made her look heavenly as it billowed out behind her in the soft summer breeze. His breath swooshed from his lungs as he looked at her, feeling like a starved man gazing upon a feast.

"You lied. You said you would come back without a scratch on you," Hermione called, stepping toward him tentatively.

George smiled at the sound of her voice. He couldn't believe she was actually in front on him. "Not a good way to start off a relationship, eh?"

She laughed, looking to the side and causing him to follow her gaze. Fred was slowly backing away from them with a cheeky grin. George appreciated the privacy his twin's departure would provide — the moment his mum saw them, she wouldn't let her babies go for a good long while. He wanted time alone with Hermione before the rest of the world came rushing in on them.

"No, it's not," Hermione agreed softly. "But we're not in a relationship. Actually, wasn't there something you wanted to ask me?"

The slow pace in which she approached him was killing him after being away from her for what felt like months. George's impatience won out as he suddenly closed the distance between them, unable to handle being apart from her any longer. He stopped when only a few centimeters separated their faces, their breath intermingling as he barely held himself together. He vaguely realized that her gorgeous white dress would be completely defiled the moment their bodies connected. He was absolutely disgusting following their tussle with some Death Eaters. He wished he could have made this reunion a bit more sanitary for her.

"Do you remember that morning we spent together in the closet? I told you that I wished you'd mentioned that you appreciated my pranks earlier?" he whispered huskily, tracing over her features with hungry eyes.

She nodded.

"I should have told you it meant a lot coming from you, because you are one of the few people who have ever seen us as more than immature pranksters."

Hermione sighed, stepping close enough where they molded together. Her hands slid up his chest to wrap around his neck. The contact felt thrilling after their time apart, and George couldn't help but notice that she didn't seem to mind his messy appearance. "I've always marveled at the things you and Fred make possible," she whispered.

"Yeah?" he asked, his voice rough as he ran the back of his hand over her cheek before trailing it down her neck. He then wrapped his arms securely around her waist and pressed her into his body as firmly as he could. He could never be close enough to her.

She nodded again. "You know, Ginny once told Harry that growing up with you and Fred, she started to think anything was possible as long as you had enough nerve. I think about that when I think about your joke shop and all the wonderful magic you use."

George sighed, basking in her words before leaning forward to run his nose over hers and then across her cheek inhaling deeply. She smelt exquisite, like vanilla. She was bloody intoxicating.

"That's why I should've known you would come back no matter what," she continued, closing her eyes and leaning into his touch. "It was just so hard not knowing whether you were all right."

He took in her appearance, noting the crease between her brows and the quiver of her bottom lip. Then, the last strand of his control snapped. He cupped the back of her neck and slammed their lips together in a passionate kiss. He felt all of his longing for her wash over him as she moaned into his mouth. His lips were firm and demanding as he slipped his hands down her thighs before lifting her up and gently coaxing her to wrap her legs around his waist.

He never wanted to leave her again. He didn't care that his feelings for her were crazy, and he didn't care that they were moving too fast. George couldn't explain why he felt the way he did. All he knew was that when the world inevitably went to shite, he wanted her by his side.

"Be with me," he groaned, tearing his lips from hers for a second before placing open-mouthed kisses down her neck as she gasped for air. "Be mine."

"Yes."







AN: Lots of fluff in this chapter! I mainly wanted to get across the idea that they're falling hard for each other, but they know it's crazy for it to be happening so fast. I wanted to portray the idea of them acknowledging that it was happening too quickly, but them not being able to help it. They can't explain the infatuation, they just know it's there. What do you think? Review please!

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