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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: A special thank you to my beta for this tale, TenthWeasleyWriter! Also, thank you to all my followers/reviewers/favorite-ers/readers for the support! I look forward to hearing from you all, and congrats to those of you who have correctly guessed the next milestone!





Chapter Nine: Book Talk

George knew he was being a pansy. He was aware of it every time he turned his head when Hermione came up to him so that his good side faced her and his deformity faced away.

His ear, or lack thereof, had been bandaged since the mission to prevent infection and to stop the bleeding. His mum had said that they wouldn't be able to magically reconstruct it, and that he would have to live with the odd hole in his head for the rest of his life. One would think if you could re-grow bones, you could re-grow a bloody ear. Apparently, and unsurprisingly, the curse that Snape had used to slice it off had been Dark magic, so the ear couldn't be fixed. George didn't really care about the reason he'd have to grin and bear the strange, unbalanced feeling of his head or his moderate hearing loss. He just knew he had to.

That didn't make it easy. Fred had helped to lessen the blow, joking with George to distract from the severity of the problem. George knew his brother was trying hard not to feel upset by it. They'd always been identical, and now there was a gaping hole in the side of George's head that Fred didn't have. They'd probably never be mistaken for each other again, unless it was by some oblivious dunce. But that was no fun. It was only fun pranking people who should know better than to mistake them for each other, like Hermione or their mum. Nevertheless, George appreciated it every time Fred cracked a joke and tried to lighten his mood.

"At least you were always the smart twin. I've got the handsome thing covered. Don't worry, brother, we've still got it," Fred had told him shortly after the accident, slapping his back and winking audaciously. "Now you can turn your bad ear to Hermione when she goes on about house-elf equality and P.U.K.E., or whatever it was called. You'll never have to listen again! It's a perfect relationship, mate."

Another time, Fred had suggested that they grow their hair long. That way, George's hair would cover his ear and they could be identical again. It was a great idea, but George could vividly remember how Fred had pranced around like a dimwit, asking all the girls at school to touch his head, when they'd first decided to cut their hair shorter. He could remember Fred claiming that he'd never, ever grow his hair out again. Fred had stood on the Gryffindor table and dramatically announced to the Great Hall that long hair was a prison for the scalp and should be outlawed.

George smiled at the memory. He loved his brother for the offer, but he'd never make Fred do something that he didn't want to do, just to make him happy. It wasn't Fred's problem. It was George's. And George needed to learn to deal with it on his own.

It didn't help that he was in love with the most beautiful woman he'd ever met. Hermione had been great about it. Like Fred, she was treating him no differently than she had before his run-in with Snape's slicing curse. That didn't stop George from feeling self-conscious. Every time she turned her smile on him, he felt undeserving. He'd never exactly been lacking in confidence while growing up, but now he felt the looks that the rest of his family and friends were giving him. They pitied him. It only made sense that Hermione felt the same way. She was just better at masking it.

He sighed, leaning back in his chair and scratching at his bandage in frustration as he shut his eyes. He was upstairs in Fred's and his room. They'd taken to sleeping at the Burrow over the last few nights. Their shop was still open, but they were trying to keep their faces out of public eye as much as possible, especially after Moody's death. Lee and Verity had agreed that it'd be better if they ran the shop themselves since the Weasley family had a known relationship with Harry Potter. Fred and George had then decided to each only go into work one day of the week, preferably on weekends, since those were the busiest. They were going to use the time away to start preparations for a mail order branch of the business.

George was sure that being cooped up at the Burrow, instead of having fun doing what he loved, was only adding salt to his already wounded mood. The dreary weather and harsh sound of a downpour outside didn't help. It was early in the afternoon, yet the sky was so dark that it may as well have been late evening. It was the perfect weather for moping. Normally, Fred and George would have taken advantage of being inside to test some sweets and pranks, but George couldn't bring himself to put on a jolly face and cause mayhem today.

The door opened and then drifted shut behind him. He had been wondering when she'd find him. Hermione had been spending most of her time with the other two-thirds of her trio ever since Harry had arrived. George knew why they had locked themselves away from everyone else. He hated knowing what they were doing, what they were planning. It was no wonder he was so bent out of shape — everything was going to shite.

A hand gingerly came to a rest against his bandage-wrapped forehead, brushing back his fringe softly. He felt his heart start beating faster than usual, his normal reaction whenever she was close to him. He couldn't believe she was his. He knew he was lucky to have her, and therefore couldn't help but anxiously ponder whether she would move on to someone else once time had separated them. She would probably move on to someone with both ears intact.

He let his eyes slide open. He blinked against the light of a few candles he'd lit earlier in hopes that he'd be able to use the day to brainstorm inventions for the shop. If he was being honest with himself, he'd really come upstairs to hide. When he met Hermione's beautiful chocolate brown eyes, he forced himself to grin happily in greeting instead of begging her to leave him to his thoughts.

She didn't return the gesture. Instead, her dark eyes drifted across his face knowingly. "Don't smile when you don't mean it."

He sighed. He felt like he was doing a lot of that lately. He didn't know when he'd become so ruddy downbeat. "I'm sorry."

Hermione bit her lip, her face tight as she concentrated on him intently as if he were a particularly hard rune that she needed to decipher for class. In Hogwarts, George had secretly wondered on more than one occasion what it'd be like to be on the receiving end of Hermione's unwavering focus. He'd pretty much daydreamed about every bird he knew while at school. Back then she'd just been a pretty, yet bossy, swot. And in all of those daydreams, his pubescent mind had been strictly on sex. Right now — not so much. Now he just wanted her to stop being so damn caring and find something else to focus on. Her concern for him was frustrating, mostly because he hated for her to see him like this.

"Are we all right, George?" she questioned gently. Her tone was straightforward, yet the way she bit her lower lip incessantly gave away her anxiety.

He reached a hand up to lightly brush his thumb over the abused lip. "You're going to bite it off if you keep that up. Which is a shame, because I love that lip."

She smiled timidly, releasing the lip and moving a step closer to rest her hands on both of his shoulders. George wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her into his lap until she was straddling him completely. Her faint smile turned into a soft laugh. He gave a lopsided grin in return, loving the femininity reflected in that sound.

Maybe he did want her around.

Hermione settled against him, wrapping her arms around his neck and playing with the wispy hair at the nape. He felt himself calm at her touch. When he was with her, it was easy to forget about his doubts. When she was right in front of him, he felt like he was cherished. That didn't mean that his worries disappeared entirely. It just meant they took a hiatus. Once he was alone again, they'd return.

"Are you going to answer my question?" Hermione whispered expectantly. "Or do you only plan on discussing my mouth?"

George hummed contemplatively before leaning in to press a kiss to said mouth with a playful smirk.

Hermione pushed him away with a chuckle. "Seriously, I'm going to think you've gone mute if you don't start talking."

He shook his head, the smile abruptly falling from his face. "Not mute, just deaf."

She looked stricken, a sad pout pulling down the corners of her lips. "I know you've been having issues with your hearing, but it'll get easier. The shell of your ear is designed to help sound travel to your eardrum, so without it, it's only expected that you'll struggle until you get used to the loss."

"As sexy as you are when you lecture me, I don't think knowing that will help me any," he murmured self-consciously, looking over her shoulder at a spot on his wall. "All I need to know is that I lost my ear. That about sums up the entire dilemma."

"You'll get used to it," she said, cupping his cheeks in both her hands and tugging his eyes to hers. "It's still new. It won't get better overnight."

Her kindness made him irrationally angry, and he felt himself getting worked up by it. "It's never going to get better. I'm always going to have a hole in my head. No matter how much you and Fred pretend it's not there, it is," George stated begrudgingly, glowering at her.

She was off his lap in a heartbeat. Before George could voice any further objections, she was pacing in front of him. "Have you stopped to think at all during your bout of dramatic self-deprecation about why Fred and I have acted the way we have?"

He opened his mouth to comment but was silenced by her continued rant.

"We don't care if you've lost an ear. We wouldn't have cared if you lost your nose, eye, arm, or legs! We love you because you're the same George that you've always been, with or without a ruddy ear. And the fact that you've been hiding from me hurts. Do you think so little of me?"

Her last question was murmured so quietly and dejectedly that he was immediately shamed. "Gods, baby, I'm sorry," he said, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. "I didn't mean to make you feel like that... It's just that — I know I look dreadful. I'm –"

"You do not!" she protested.

"Embarrassed."

Hermione stepped toward him and dropped to her knees. "You are the handsomest man I've ever met, George Weasley. No ear would change that."

George shivered visibly as she ran her hand directly over the bandage on the injured side of his head, but he couldn't bring himself to respond. He was ashamed of his thinking that she would leave him for someone else. She'd never given him any reason to think such a thing, yet he irrationally was hovering on the idea.

"Is this just because of the ear?" she questioned cautiously, no doubt guessing there was more to it by watching the tip of his good ear and cheeks heat up drastically.

"Look," he started, grasping her hands and bringing them to his mouth for a kiss to distract himself from his humiliation. "You're so beautiful it hurts. Honestly, right now I feel like a beast next to you. And to make matters worse, you're leaving soon and I'll have no idea what you're up to for who knows how long. I know I'm being a twit, but I can't help thinking that you'll find someone more suited for you once you're away. Someone like my brother."

And there it was. The number one reason for his dramatic antics. She was going away without him, and she was going to be with the one person in the world he knew for a fact had wanted her for years.

"I love you so much, you complete idiot," she huffed in exasperation, standing up and stepping away as if the conversation was over.

"I love you, too," he replied in bewilderment. "As much as I love hearing that, is that all you have to say?"

"I'm not going to humor your momentary lapse in intelligence right now, George," she stated sternly, pointing a finger at him and narrowing her eyes. "I will not defend myself against melodramatic bull-crap."

He couldn't help but give an incredulous laugh at her wording. "Excuse me?"

"I made something for us," she said happily all of a sudden, her mood swing making his head spin. She moved to pick up a parcel from his bed. It was rather small, and was light when she handed it over. She must've put it down when she first came in.

He looked down at it blankly.

"It may help alleviate the need for this moronic conversation," Hermione grinned.

He looked up at her, feeling his love for her warm his entire being and cause his heart to jump. She was bloody crazy. It was why he had fallen for her so fast. She managed to make him feel both thick-witted and overwhelmingly loved, all in one breath. She was innocent, yet mischievous. There was so much more to her than he had ever realized growing up. He still couldn't believe just how complex the petite woman in front of him was, especially since she looked so innocent at first glance. He needed to stop being surprised when she did something unexpected, since he really should know by now that she would always keep him on his toes.

George shook his head in amusement before ripping into the gift. Once the wrapping fell away, he wrapped his hands around a plain black leather-bound book that was small enough to fit in the palm of his hand.

She must have sensed his hesitation, because she chuckled and pulled out another book, exactly like his, from behind her back. When he raised his eyebrows at her, she started to explain. "They're charmed to be twins. Everything that's written in one is also written in the other."

He paused to let the gift sink in for a moment. Then, he felt a smile split across his face. He knew the implications of the book. "You want to use them to stay in contact with each other while you're away?" he asked, reaching a hand out to grasp one of hers. "So we don't forget about each other."

"We'd never be able to simply forget about each other," she said confidently, placing her book down on his desk before sitting sideways on his lap. "But now when you're worried about our relationship or second-guess my feelings for you, you can write a letter to me. And I can do the same. I can't promise that I'll be able to write often, but I can promise I will as often as I can."

"This means a lot to me, Granger," George said, pressing a kiss to her temple as he felt the tension that had built up since his accident start to lessen. He knew he wouldn't feel better overnight, but her honest words were something he could cling to whenever he needed.

"It's not going to be easy," Hermione said seriously. "And I would never ask you to wait for me. But I hope we'll try our hardest to stay together."

George saw vulnerability in her eyes. He'd never stopped to think that she might be just as anxious about being parted from him as he was to be parted from her. He smoothed the crease between her brows with his thumb and tilted her chin up, dropping his book onto the desk by hers with his other hand. "I'm going to wait for you, Granger. You'll realize that when you open your book and find a letter from me every single day."

His lips covered hers softly. Unlike many of their other intense kisses, which were hurried, this kiss was a slow burn. He took his time devouring her, enjoying how she tasted of honey and strawberries. It drove him crazy. Before he could help himself, he had shifted her so she was straddling his lap once more. He heard her take in a sharp breath before realizing that his hands had found their way up her shirt. George groaned at the feel of her skin under his palms. He knew she could feel his excitement and had to fight a frustrated growl when she tore her lips from his.

"Do you remember that morning when this started?" she asked as she caught her breath.

As if he could forget. He could vividly picture how beautiful she had looked, sprawled across his bed in the moonlight. George had wanted her right then and there. Instead of voicing his impassioned thoughts, he chose to nod.

She ran her hands down his shoulders and arms before intertwining her fingers with his. "You told me then, after complimenting your locking spell, that I never had praised Fred's and your products before."

"Yes," he drawled slowly, cocking an eyebrow.

"I never said it then, but it wasn't true. I had praised your products before," she explained, smiling somewhat arrogantly at him.

He licked his lips. George loved when she got that look on her face. Her nose would crinkle adorably, her mouth would slide into a smirk, and her gorgeous eyes would flash in a way that said, "I know something you don't know."

Hermione leaned into him, letting her lips brush his in a whisper of a kiss that had him immediately straining for more. She persisted, leaning away each time he moved forward to close the distance completely. He was surprised when she started guiding his hands down her sides, running them over her body tantalizingly slowly until they came to a rest at the enticing curve of her hips. His breath caught in his throat, and he swallowed as he thought of the things he wanted to do with her. She surprised him further when she lifted up a bit off his lap to help slide his fingers into the pockets of her shorts.

He dropped his gaze from her eyes and lips to her pocket. He felt his fingertips brush against something and looked at her for reassurance before grabbing whatever it was and pulling it out. George was sure his confusion was obvious as he found himself looking at a shrunken box of Fred's and his Patented Daydream Charms.

"You kept it," he murmured after a moment's pause, staring at the box.

"When I first saw it, I said it was extraordinary magic. It was the reason that Fred gave me one," she said. "You see? I have complimented your products before."

"Why haven't you used it?" George looked up at her at last.

She bit her lip again. "I didn't want to waste it. Now I'm happy I still have it. I want it for when I'm gone."

He felt all the air in his lungs leave him. Merlin, he loved her.

"I want to use it to have a piece of you with me," she finished.

He reached out and placed the box gently on his desk where their books both rested. "I can pick some more up at the shop for you in a few days. My next shift is the day after Bill and Fleur's wedding. You're not leaving until then, right?"

Trying to keep his mind off dark thoughts of her leaving, George ran his hands up the smooth expanse of her legs. He loved the amount of creamy skin that showed there and silently praised the invention of short trousers. He felt Hermione lean into his touch, and knew she was just as intoxicated by the contact as he was.

"We came to a decision about that today, actually. We're leaving two days after the wedding, early in the morning."

"I may have to use a few charms of my own while you're gone," George whispered, pressing kisses down her neck and across her collar bone. "It sadly won't be as good as the real thing."

Hermione's body slid against his as she wrapped herself fully around him. He couldn't seem to help himself as his hands brushed up her thighs and his fingertips dabbed teasingly up the edges of her shorts. He wanted to see more of her, feel more of her.

"I don't know," she sighed playfully, nibbling on his remaining earlobe. "The real thing isn't all it's cracked up to be."

He smirked at her squeal of surprise as he suddenly shot to his feet, taking her with him since their bodies were so interwoven. George cupped the back of her neck and guided their lips together as he walked over to his bed. Their lips parted only while he dropped them onto the mattress, their breathless chuckles mingling until their mouths found each other again.

Before he even knew what was happening, clothes were being tossed from each other's bodies. They'd never let it get so far before. They'd only allowed innocent petting though their clothes, and intense snogging. Both of them had always taken things slow, not wanting to rush into anything when they already knew their relationship was progressing relatively fast. Now, however, any lines that they'd unknowingly drawn for their relationship were quickly being overstepped.

George felt like he was being driven mad by her. He felt like she was overwhelming all of his senses, making him forget all reason. When her small, soft hands ran down his chest to fiddle hesitantly with the waistband of his pants, he had to hold his breath in fear of an embarrassing moan. Yet, when she actually slid her dainty fingers beneath the fabric to stroke at the skin there, he lost all illusions of control.

Later, after thoroughly acquainting themselves with each other's bodies until all that was left was that final stage of togetherness, George pushed back to look down at the face of the woman who had imbedded herself so deeply beneath his skin. It shouldn't have been possible to love someone so much in so little time, and yet he did. He loved her so much that he felt his heart jump to his throat looking down at her in their shared, vulnerable moment. Her eyes were shimmering as if with unshed tears, but when she smiled, he knew she was happy.

With the arm that wasn't holding him up, he brushed a thumb over her cheek. Her crazy chestnut curls were flowing over his pillow like a wild river, and the flickering light from the candles in the room bounced off her dark emotion-filled eyes. She looked radiant. George was so captivated by her that it was only once she'd lifted her hand to touch his bandage that he realized she'd somehow made him feel whole again, like the old George Weasley with both ears. He smiled, leaning into her touch.

"Are you sure, baby?" he whispered, knowing there was no going back from this moment once it happened. They both knew from previous conversations that this was the first time for both of them. No matter what happened, it would be forever ingrained in their minds.

George felt like he was trembling all over as he stared down at her, enraptured by her presence.

"I love you," she whispered finally, before guiding him back toward her. Their lips met agonizingly softly as George let his body fall against hers. Any questions left between them were answered through their passionate caresses as they took each other to indulgent new heights.




"What's that you've got there, dear?"

George diverted his gaze from where he'd absentmindedly been washing dishes the Muggle way. He felt himself blush as he met his mum's curious eyes. It was horribly embarrassing to be caught reminiscing about his intimate afternoon — which he'd spent mapping out the curves of Hermione's body — by his mother.

His time with Hermione was all he could think about. All through supper, he'd stared at her with an obnoxious grin on his face without realizing it. He hadn't spoken to Fred alone yet, but he was sure that his twin knew something was up. And judging by the sly looks Fred had sent George during supper, he likely knew exactly why George was so giddy and pensive all of a sudden. It didn't help that Hermione had returned his glances enthusiastically, smiling at him in a way that made it apparent that naughty things were running through her head.

"Sorry, Mum, what?" he asked, putting down a dish and swiping his hands over his trousers to dry them off.

She pointed to his back pocket. "That book. What is it?"

George shrugged and pulled out the gift Hermione had given him. He handed it to his mum to look at before turning his back to her to continue working. "It's actually rather brilliant," he explained, unable to prevent a stupid grin from forming on his lips. "Hermione charmed it. When I write in it, the words show up in the twin book which Hermione kept for herself, and vice versa. We're going to use it to stay in contact while she's gone."

He craned his head backwards to look at his mum when she was silent for a long moment. He raised his eyebrows at her, expecting praise for his girlfriend's clever mind. He loved that his family knew about Hermione and him now. That way, he could talk openly about it. He liked that he didn't have to hide his childish excitement over Hermione's gift and how insanely happy it'd made him.

"Wicked, isn't it?" he prompted before turning back to the sink.

"Yes, it is," she stated.

"You can look at it for a moment, but put it on the counter once you're done. Wouldn't want to lose it just when I got it," he smiled.

He let his mind wander back to Hermione, thinking about her curves and the smooth expanse of her skin beneath his. She'd felt like heaven, and he already craved her all over again.

He was so lost in his memories that when his mum dropped the book on the counter five minutes later, he barely could remember having given it to her. All he could think about was how his life seemed so much brighter now that Hermione was in it.




AN: Thank you for reading! Please review and let me know what you think! Next chapter is the last before the wedding :)

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