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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 story, TenthWeasleyWriter!

Chapter Ten: The Calm Before the Storm

Hermione dropped her head with a loud thud against the floor of Ron's room as she let out an aggravated huff. She was so used to hard work and patience resulting in positive results. It was a formula that had met with much success while she was in school. She had never known a problem that hadn't been solved with her work ethic, logical reasoning skills, and diligence. Unfortunately, it appeared she'd finally met her match, and she couldn't help but be massively frustrated by it.

There was a deep chuckle to her side, causing her to lift her head enough to glare at the wizard. "It isn't funny."

She watched as he gave a one-shouldered shrug before turning the page of the book he was reading across from her as he leaned backwards against Ron's bed frame. "You're right, it's not funny that we don't know the location of the next Horcrux and have no idea who R. A. B. is," he affirmed, nodding his head up and down absently. "It is, however, funny that Hermione Granger just thumped her head against the ground in frustration. Never thought I'd see the day."

She rolled her eyes in response. "Shut it, Harry."

Harry's unruly jet-black hair fell into his green eyes as he looked over at her through his fringe. An amused smile tilted up a corner of his lips just as Ron bounded into the room with a tray of crumpets. The lanky redhead plopped down almost completely on top of Hermione before setting down the plate with a pleased expression on his face, as if he'd hunted a wild boar to bring back to them instead of pastries.

"Mum made some morning snacks," he announced. "Nicked them just before she could somehow use them as leverage to bribe us back to Hogwarts."

Hermione snorted rather unattractively, rolling to sit up cross-legged as she reached for a crumpet. "She's been a bit ridiculous trying to keep us away from each other recently. I doubt there's anything she wouldn't do to get us to see the light."

"Probably would offer to let us test the twins' sweets on her," Ron said, a slow grin forming at the idea.

"She'd tell us we don't have to de-gnome the garden ever again," Harry tittered, placing his book to the side.

Hermione smiled, nudging Ron's shoulder. "She'd promise to rid the world of all spiders, and other critters with far too many legs."

Ron held up a finger good-naturedly. "Let's add Blast-Ended Skrewts to that list. Or anything else that's bloody terrifying."

"Know what your mum would do to get us back to Hogwarts?" Harry asked, jumping to his feet and swiping his hand out in front of him dramatically. "She'd offer to valiantly slay Lord Voldemort herself!"

The trio burst into a peal of laughter, all falling over. Hermione clutched Ron tightly to keep from crumpling to the floor completely while the redhead nearly tipped onto the plate of crumpets himself from where he sat. Harry fell backwards onto the bed, clutching his belly while his eyes shut with mirth.

Once their laughter had died down to a few chuckles here and there, Hermione stared up at the ceiling from where she'd finally tipped over to lay on her back. She felt Ron shift beside her from where their legs lay across each other's. She could see Harry's legs hanging over the side of Ron's bed just out of the corner of her eyes. It was during moments like these that she felt like everything was going to work out in the end, because no matter what, she'd have her best friends in the world by her side through thick and thin.

"Feels weird that in a couple days we'll be far away from here, doesn't it? It'll be just the three of us. We won't have to worry about my mum acting bloody mad – or anyone else, for that matter," Ron whispered, interrupting their quiet moment.

Hermione tilted her head to look over at him, surprised to find that he was already looking right back at her. She felt herself release a long sigh as she took in the emotion in his eyes. It was the same emotion that had reflected back at her from those blue depths for a while now. It had become increasingly harder to ignore over the years.

At one point, she knew she had felt the same as he did. In fact, if George hadn't been the one to come get her that day at the beginning of the month — if Ron was better at Apparating, perhaps — then maybe it would have been different. Maybe she would not look at George the way Ron looked at her. And maybe she wouldn't feel oddly guilty for the few times she'd made love to his older brother over the past few days.

"Yeah," Harry responded despondently after they were silent for a moment, no doubt thinking of his nonexistent relationship with Ginny, before propping himself up on his elbows to peer over the side of the bed at them. "It's going to be really different."

Hermione held Ron's gaze meaningfully. "Even when we're miles upon miles away from those we love, they'll still be with us."

Harry raised his eyebrows thoughtfully. "Very deep, Hermione."

"Yet true," she corrected.

Ron's eyes narrowed at her. "We'll see."

"Are you finally going to stop avoiding me?"

George glanced up from his notes on a product which, when finished, would result in anyone who consumed it to blend into their surroundings for a few hours like a chameleon. It'd be perfect for surveillance, and had actually come to him while on his mission with Fred weeks before. They could have really used it at the time.

"I haven't been avoiding you," George responded, rolling his eyes at his twin's disbelieving scowl.

"Oh, really? So I must've just imagined that you literally jumped out the kitchen window this morning to get away from me?"

"Mum wanted me to fetch Tonks from outside. She was on guard duty."

"And the fastest way to get her was through the window?"

"Keeps me limber."

"Makes you look like a dunce."

"You'll joke until you do it yourself and realize I'm right," George declared knowingly before shuffling his notes into a neat pile only to throw them across his desk and send them flying into disarray a moment later.

Fred sat down on his own bed, resting his elbows on his knees as he leaned toward George. "Speaking of limber-ness –"

"Or lack thereof."

"Right," Fred nodded, a smirk crossing his features. "Anyway, when were you planning on telling little old me that you got your knob polished yesterday?"

George grimaced in disgust. "Please don't ever refer to sex like that again."

"Hermione's rubbing off on you... No, wait! Hermione's rubbing you off!" Fred exclaimed, throwing his arms out to the side, clearly impressed with his own cleverness.

If George was being honest with himself, he'd have to admit that, two months ago, he would have laughed at his brother's antics. Now, however, it just felt wrong. He didn't want to talk about Hermione like she was some unimportant tramp. She was so much more than a one-off. She might just be the woman he'd spend the rest of his life with. She definitely hadn't "rubbed him off," as Fred had so eloquently put it. They'd made love to each other. He knew his brother wouldn't understand that, though. To Fred, sex was sex.

"And you want to know why I didn't want to tell you," George deadpanned, raising his eyebrows.

Fred grinned. "I don't know what you're implying."

"That really doesn't surprise me."

"Know what surprises me?"

"My not telling you about Hermione?"

"Your not telling me about Hermione!" Fred echoed obnoxiously, leaping up to point a finger dramatically in George's face. "How dare you! And you're supposed to be my brother — nay, my twin!"

"You're right. How insensitive of me," George nodded, looking disappointed in himself. "I don't know what I was thinking. You should have been the first to know. How dare I even tell Hermione before you?"

Fred placed a reassuring hand on his arm and gave him a sickeningly sweet smile. "It's all right this time, Georgie. Let's just make sure it won't happen again."

George chuckled, smacking his twin's hand away from him half-heartedly. Fred might be insane, and often offensive, but it was part of his charm. And when it came down to the wire, he'd always be there to support George's decisions. Because frankly, George was insane too.

Fred sat back down on his bed, letting the theatrics drop so that a genuine grin could show through. "So, you and Granger, huh?"

George nodded, letting himself give in to the large smile that wanted to overtake his face in return.

Fred waved a hand expectantly as he dropped his other hand to rest beneath his chin. He looked completely attentive, like he'd hang on every word that George spoke from then on. The way Fred paid attention to stories about women was the way Hermione paid attention to Arithmancy and Ancient Runes. "C'mon, mate. Don't make me work for it. I've already been chasing you down for a day. Last night you gave yourself a Sleeping Draught, so I couldn't wake you up and bombard you with questions."

"Realized that, did you?"

"I kicked you and you didn't wake up," Fred said dryly.

"I reckon that's the reason I have a bruise on my hip."

"You're lucky I didn't do worse."

"Like give me boils?"

"Or turn you into a Pygmy Puff," Fred snickered. "Then Hermione could cuddle you into her bosom wherever she went."

"Sounds like heaven," George swooned teasingly in return, reaching forward to ruffle his brother's hair.

Fred huffed and batted away the attention. "Oi! Would you tell me about the shag already?"

Standing up and moving over to the window, George let his brother stew in the silence as he searched the grounds of the Burrow for the object of his affections. He found her sitting under a tree by the pond, just where she'd said she was heading earlier when he'd last seen her. Even from a distance, he could see her wild curls blowing into her face as she read. Her hands flew up to bat away the traitorous locks in frustration, and George could imagine her muttering angrily beneath her breath from where he stood.

He smiled fondly, ideas forming in his head about the fun they could have in the pond together to sooth her mood.

"No, brother, I won't tell you."

That side of Hermione was for him and him alone.

Fingertips rough from years of wielding a Beater's bat trailed up the delicate curve of Hermione's spine, dancing across her skin in a manner that made her ache, as if she hadn't just been as close as someone could possibly get to another human with him moments prior. She moaned appreciatively as she felt the tickling of his hair against her back when his mouth dropped to follow in the wake of his caressing hands.

"Feels good?" George asked gently, his voice thick with desire as he brushed her wild mane off of one of her shoulders in order to continue his quest to taste every inch of her quivering body. Every fiber of her being was awoken by the burning path of his touch.

Hermione sighed contently in response, letting her head loll to the side to rest against the warm sheets of his bed where she was sprawled on her stomach. "If you stop, I may have to kill you," Hermione purred in warning, opening one eye to catch his gaze as he caressed her shoulder with his lips and tongue. She wondered vaguely if she had as many love bites across her skin as he did across his.

"It'd be a shame to die," he whispered huskily, wrapping his arm around her naked midriff before swiftly turning her to face him so that her chest met his. "I guess I have no choice but to never stop. I'll just have to grin and bear it. Woe is me."

She laughed breathlessly at his jest, exhilarated by the thought alone as she let her hands drop to his abdomen to run along his taunt muscles. The more she saw of his naked body, the more she appreciated his short but muscular build, unlike Ron's, Bill's, and Percy's. Truth be told, George wasn't even considered short by normal standards. He still stood a full head taller than she did. He was only short in respect to his beanstalk-like brothers.

George's muscles rippled under her touch as he took a deep breath in and pressed their bodies together deliciously. Hermione let her eyes drift closed as he kissed her. She wondered if she'd ever get enough of him. They'd made love multiple times since their first go at it, and each time had felt new and exhilarating. She loved being able to learn what to do with him, to experiment. She wanted to experience everything that she possibly could with George, because she felt completely adored every time his darkened gaze ran across her body. It made her feel invincible.

"Gods, I want you," George groaned, breaking the kiss to press his bandaged forehead against hers. "You're intoxicating."

"That's what you said yesterday in this bed, this morning in the pond, and three hours ago in the broom cupboard across from Percy's old room," she whispered affably, licking her lips.

"And then two hours ago in Percy's room," he supplied, grinning devilishly. "That was the most fun that bed has seen... ever."

"Don't remind me." Hermione brought a hand to her forehead in disbelief. "I have no idea how you talked me into that. We cleaned those sheets thoroughly, right?"

George snickered. "I don't think I talked you into it at all. I don't think there was much conversation involved in that decision."

"You're an arse," she admonished, shoving him playfully and pressing him back against the mattress. Hermione pulled herself up and maneuvered to straddle him, looking down at him in an overly haughty manner.

"I can't see how this is supposed to make me see the error of my ways," he teased, letting his palms slide up her thighs to rest at her waist. "I've got a thing for women who take charge. Especially when they're clever bookworms with bloody magnificent bodies."

Hermione felt a shiver run through her as she let her eyes trace over him slowly. She loved the sound of his voice when he was aroused and the way the sheets twisted around his waist, barely covering his more intimate parts. She felt her mouth start to water as she gently followed the line of his bicep with the tip of her finger, biting her lower lip when her eyes met his. She was beginning to adore the lustful looks he always gave her in private, so only she could see. The green in his brown eyes would darken until it was almost black. Then he would narrow those passion-filled orbs at her, as if waiting for her next move. She loved that she had such control over him in those moments, because most of the time she felt like she had no control over her feelings for him whatsoever.

"Beautiful," he breathed, his eyes burning paths across her bare chest.

She let her hand trail up his arms before lightly tracing an unseen pattern over the thick bandage around his head. Over the last few days since his accident, she'd found that she often completely forgot about the fact that he was now missing an ear. It was easy to push to the side when he was overwhelming her senses with one simple touch.

"I can't believe it doesn't bother you."

Hermione tilted her head, unsure of what he meant.

"My ear. The bandage," George stated simply, unconsciously tugging at the wrapping. "It's not exactly subtle, Granger. Most of the top of my head is covered."

Hermione stared down at him thoughtfully for a second. When she suddenly reached out to grasp the edges of the wrapping from where his left ear had been sliced off in battle, he jolted in surprise.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm taking off the bandage. You know – that thing that's not exactly subtle and is covering most of the top of your head?"

George groaned as she mocked him. "You're beginning to sound as frustrating as Fred."

"Did you really just compare me to your brother while I straddle you naked after just having sex with you?" Hermione asked, quirking an eyebrow in amusement.

"That's a valid, yet sickening, point."

"He may hear you and chose to retract his offer to give us the night alone in your room," she added.

"Salt to the wound, baby."

Hermione shook her head, rolling her eyes before once more reaching for the bandage. She shushed George when he started to protest again. Gently, she started to unravel the wrapping from his head, carefully watching his face to make sure he didn't experience any pain. She frowned when he winced as the last bit fell away to reveal the source of his tension.

Without saying a word to him, Hermione reached out to his nightstand to grab her wand. She intently examined the wound before murmuring a spell to clear away the remaining blood that had dried to his skin by the hole where his ear had once been. She could feel the intensity of George's eyes on her face, gauging her reaction. She made sure there was none until she had finished the spell. Then Hermione smiled softly and leaned toward the scarred side of his head. When her lips were just centimeters away from the hole, she let her warm breath caress the wound. "I love you, George Weasley," she murmured resolutely, raising her voice a notch more in volume so that he could hear her despite his moderate hearing loss.

She knew she had done the right thing when George groaned his appreciation before spinning her so that she was pressed into the mattress. His lips met hers in a hungry battle, tongues tangling before they proceeded to worship each other's bodies, this time without the bandage covering up who he really was now. George may have been scarred, but he was still perfect. With or without his ear.

The morning of Bill and Fleur's wedding started with George immediately in good spirits. He decided as he awoke to a warm, soft body curled into the crevice of his own that he'd never had a better wake-up call. Careful not to disturb the slumbering witch spooned in his arms, he dropped his face to the pillow where her hair fanned out like a halo and let himself gulp in the irresistible scent of her. Even in sleep, she managed to ignite a fire in his blood.

Their relationship had only really begun a month ago now, yet he couldn't imagine how he had ever seen her differently that he did now. She'd only ever been Ickle Ronniekins's bookish best friend before this summer started. The only time George have ever thought of her as a girl prior to this month was when his twisted pubescent mind would concoct dirty thoughts and dreams when he was in school with her. That really didn't count, though, because he'd even had thoughts of Madame Pomfrey and Professor Sprout back then. He had wanted to tear his eyes out after those particularly disturbing dreams.

Now, as her deceptively soft curls tickled his nose, George felt true contentment. It didn't matter that he'd been blind before. What really mattered was that he'd finally taken his head out of his arse after six years of knowing her and made Hermione his, because he was completely hers, and really had been since the very first day when she'd turned the corner under that old weeping willow outside of her parent's home. His mind had just had to catch up to his heart.

"Are you sniffing me?"

Hermione's sleep-worn voice was husky and alluring, the sound seeming to rumble through George with a pleasant shiver that had him tightening his hold around her hips to press her into the cradle of his own. Her back arched as she stretched her body to help it fully awaken. George smiled against the side of her neck and exaggeratedly nuzzled her, drawing in air through his nose loudly. "Didn't know you were dating a mutt, eh?"

"I guess I could have woken to something more strange. At least Fred didn't decide to join us halfway through the evening," she said groggily, turning around in his arms to cuddle up against his chest while her hands slid up his bare back. "I half expected to wake up with him in the bed with us."

"I'm sure he'll be up here soon. He spent the night in your room with Ginny, and I doubt she'll be so kind as to keep him down there much longer," George said, tucking a stray curl behind her ear before letting his hand trail lazily over her cheek. "It's an impossible task."

"We should probably get up," Hermione sighed, looking up at him as if that was the very last thing she wanted them to do. "I should go find Fleur, and I'm sure Bill will be looking for you and your brothers."

"No," he whined playfully, ducking his forehead down to rest against her shoulder. "How about one more go first?"

She laughed at his suggestion before pushing away from him to slide out of bed. George watched as Hermione's naked form was exposed to him in his own private show, the sheet that had been wrapped snugly around her falling to pool on the floor at her feet. She was breathtaking in her nakedness. Her curves were delicious, and George felt his breathing quicken as he caught sight of the marks he had both knowingly and unknowingly left on her skin during their latest escapades. Sometimes it seemed he just couldn't help himself.

He felt like a voyeur for being unable to look away from her bared body, despite all his deeply buried chivalry telling him he ought to. When she gave him a confident smile over her shoulder while bending to pick up her discarded clothes, however, he knew she didn't mind his attention in the slightest. George gave her a charming smile in return, enjoying the thought that her confidence was directly correlated to him. After their first time together, they'd both been bashful as they'd quickly dressed for supper. Despite their love, it'd been strange to be so vulnerable once the haze of lust had lifted in those first moments. Now, after their sensual explorations of each other over the past couple of days, she was just as comfortable under his watchful gaze as he was under hers. George loved that he was the one person in the world who knew her so intimately.

"If you keep looking at me like that, your wish may be my command," she teased, tugging her T-shirt from the previous night over her head and shaking her head at him in a mock scolding.

"How am I looking at you?" he asked as he leaned up on the bed with a wolfish grin.

Hermione shimmied her knickers up her legs and then stepped into a pair of cotton shorts she liked to sleep in. "Like I'm one of those Exploding Bonbons you love to eat so much. Let me also add that it's completely unsurprising that you love a sweet that explodes if you don't eat it quickly enough. You're getting awfully predictable in your old age, sir."

"We can't all be as shocking as you are, ma'am. Let me guess — Sugar Quills?" He quirked a brow knowingly as she broke into laughter.

"I won't deny it," she said, leaning over to kiss him sweetly. "I guess we're perfectly monotonous. I'm just a simple bookworm and you're just a silly prankster."

He hummed his agreement against her lips. "Together we're quite the shock though, yeah? No one would have thought we'd be together. It's a bit laughable — the rule-breaker and the prefect."

"True," she nodded, smiling as she ran a hand over the side of his face. George felt a spark run through him as her fingertips brushed the scarred skin on the left side of his face. "But I wouldn't bet against us."

With one more kiss, she was gone, slipping quietly from his room and leaving George to fall back on his pillows in the hopes of having one more minute to himself before having to start the day.

AN: This was the last chapter before the wedding, so I tried to get in some good George/Hermione moments while also focusing on some of our other favorite characters (like Fred!). Let me know what you think will happen next chapter and how it may vary from the book now that George is with Hermione! Also, I am currently taking requests for a pairing for my next story, so if you have any ideas let me know! I'm currently focusing on Hermione with another male character, but I'm open to ideas. The front runners are Hermione/Fred, Hermione/George, and Hermione/Harry! Let me know what you think :) Thanks for reading and please review!

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