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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: As usual, thank you to TenthWeasleyWriter for beta-ing this story! You're amazing! And thank you to all of you who support this story. It means a lot!

Chapter Eleven: The Storm

"Merlin, Hermione, you look fantastic!"

A blush spread across Hermione's cheeks and neck as she slid her hands self-consciously over the playful lilac fabric of her robes. Ginny had convinced her to go for the fun outfit over a more modest style, despite Hermione's protests that it may be too adventurous for her personal taste. Her fingers teased the beaded hem of the floral design that blossomed from her waist as she turned away from the mirror in Ginny's and her room to meet Harry's gaze.

"It isn't too much?" she asked. She couldn't help but feel shy under her friend's scrutiny.

Harry merely smiled in response before walking forward to place his hands on each of her shoulders in reassurance. His hands squeezed gently as if to ground her from her traitorously wary thoughts. "It's perfect. George won't know what hit him."

"Thank you," she breathed out in relief, reaching her hand up to cover one of his. It was times like these that she loved Harry more than anything. He had been her first true friend and she could always count on his support. He was so much more stable than Ron was, never leaving her to question where she stood in his eyes. She knew that she would always have Harry to lean on.

"While we're on the subject of George," the man in question sighed, scratching the back of his neck as he pulled away from her after one last squeeze. His hands dropped to fiddle with his robes anxiously. "What happened there? I hadn't even known you were really friends. Now you spend all your time with him when you aren't with Ron and me."

She raised her eyebrows at him in surprise at the sudden change in conversation before she slapped his hands away from his tie with an exasperated eye roll at his awful, fumbling attempts to correctly knot it. Her soft smile proved she wasn't upset in the least. "We started getting to know each other better after he Apparated me to the Burrow from my parents' house. I was terribly upset, of course, but he was so sweet about it. He made me smile that day, despite how sad I was. I guess I shouldn't have expected any less from one of the twins. He even offered to lend an ear if I needed one."

"He certainly lent an ear," Harry joked with a cheeky smile when she looked at him sharply. "Give it back soon, though. It's been awful trying to have a quiet conversation with him."

"Very funny," Hermione deadpanned, giving his tie a sharp tug up to his neck that had him coughing. She knew George was struggling with normal conversation. Everyone often had to repeat themselves so he could hear when in a crowd. He was at his best when talking to one person at a time in a quiet room, but it was still hard on him and she didn't find his struggle funny at all. Fred and George often joked about it, especially after she'd had that conversation with George about Fred and her not caring about his missing ear; however, Hermione knew George was still down about it, regardless of the brave face he'd put on. "Anyway, that first night here I kind of had a nightmare and ended up calling on George to talk me out of a dark place. Everything else just fell into place from there, I guess. He's been wonderful."

"It's funny seeing you with one of the twins," Harry commented as he fixed the tie that had been strangling him while stepping away from her. "Couldn't believe it when I first got here."

"The prankster and the prefect?" she chuckled. "It is rather funny."

Harry gave a short grin, his eyebrows drawing together thoughtfully. "Yeah, there's that. But then there's also the fact that I always thought you'd end up with Ron."

Hermione should have known where this conversation was headed the moment George was brought up. Harry wasn't one to stick his nose in others' business, yet he certainly was one to look out for his friends. "Harry..."

"Hear me out, Hermione," he quickly interrupted, meeting her eyes with a quiet resolve. "Ron doesn't have the nerve to tell you, but I know he loves you. And not in the way I know you love me and Ginny and your family. He's in love with you. Has been for a while now, I reckon. Seeing you with his brother is driving him mad."

"He hasn't said a word to me about it," Hermione responded crisply, putting her hands on her hips while desperately trying to ignore the pang of guilt in her heart. "Ronald is a big boy. He can fight his own battles."

The bespectacled man sighed. "You're right, but we're all going away together, and this is the last thing that needs to be on our minds. I'm not saying you shouldn't be with George. I love you, Hermione, and I want you to be happy. I just want to make sure you're aware of Ron's feelings before you accidentally rub the fact that you've moved on in his face. We need to be focused on our task."

"I would never purposely hurt Ron," she whispered, urging him to understand with a sad frown. "I can't help how I feel."

"I know. Gods, I know."

Hermione bit her lip, wanting to comfort Harry when he was obviously thinking about Ginny and how he couldn't help but love her, despite how dangerous it was. It was the reason he wouldn't allow them to be together. Part of Hermione felt she should take the same course with George. The weak part of her — her heart — screamed that that wasn't even an option. She wasn't as strong as Harry.

Hermione pulled Harry into a hug, leaning against him contently. She had missed his presence over the last few weeks. Being away from him was always hard. She may have been best friends with both Harry and Ron, yet her relationship with Ron had always been too volatile. Their feelings had gotten in the way ever since they'd first met. Maybe if they could push aside any romantic feelings, or inklings of romantic feelings, someday they could develop the same bond she had with Harry.

"I meant what I said earlier," he murmured against her shoulder as his head dropped down to rest against it. "You look beautiful."

"I think that's putting it lightly."

The pair looked up and toward the doorway.

"I'm sorry to interrupt," George smiled, striding confidently over to Hermione. He slid an arm around her waist, gently pulling her against his side and out of Harry's embrace. Her lips were already parted in surprise, making for a delectable picture, which he promptly cut short by swooping down to kiss her in greeting.

"Yeah, seems like you're really sorry," Harry observed, smirking at the blush that immediately formed on Hermione's cheeks, as well as the cocky wink that George gave him after she had pulled back in embarrassment.

"What can I say?" George shrugged. "My love for her is like diarrhea — I can't hold it in!"

Harry burst out in hearty laughter as Hermione yanked away from George in outrage and disgust. She swatted her boyfriend's arm, pushing him away as he chuckled at her reaction, reaching out to pull her back to him. "That was absolutely repulsive, George Weasley!"

"Baby, if you expect anything else from me, you've got to seriously reevaluate our relationship," he responded, giving her a lopsided grin that had her lips twitching in exasperated amusement. "See? You know you can't resist me, stupid humor or not."

"I'm going to head downstairs to find Ron," Harry said, heading to the door to give the couple a moment alone. "I'll see you both down there."

"Bye, Harry," Hermione laughed, squirming in George's arms as he tickled her playfully.

"Same," George said.

The moment Harry disappeared through the door, George tugged Hermione sharply forward so that she fell against his chest. His arms wrapped snuggly around her waist, one hand skimming the length of her robes ardently. Hermione found herself melting against him at the sensation that ran up her spine. Her eyes fell closed as she rested her cheek against his chest, just over his heart.

"Since you didn't quite like my roundabout way of saying it, I should mention that I love you," George murmured teasingly, pressing a kiss to the top of her head.

Hermione gave a long, peaceful exhale. "Whether you say it jokingly or romantically, I still know what you mean. I know you love me. And I love you too, quirks and all."

"I got you something." George pulled out a box from behind his back, smiling as Hermione's eyes lit up.

"You didn't have to do that, George."

"I know, but I wanted to," he responded, gently handing the box over to her.

Hermione smiled brightly at him before shimmying the lid of the box off. She bit her lower lip as she ruffled through some tissue paper and then found a clear package at the bottom. In the package lay a beautiful white rose corsage. Her eyes flew to George's in surprise.

"It's beautiful. I didn't know corsages were common in the wizarding world."

"They're not," he chuckled, pressing a kiss to her cheek before taking the package out of her hand. "And its beauty doesn't hold a candle to you."

"Ever the charmer," she murmured, watching as he popped the lid off the package and took out the corsage. He picked up her hand and effortlessly slipped the corsage onto her wrist. Hermione turned her wrist back and forth, loving the way the white of the rose looked with the purple of her robes. "Thank you for doing this, George."

"It was nothing," he smiled, taking her hands in his. "Plus it's pretty selfish on my part."

"Oh?" She raised an eyebrow at him curiously, returning his mischievous smile apprehensively as he led her to the door, presumably to head downstairs to the ceremony space.

"I'll tell you later."

The wedding was beautiful. Hermione had only ever been to one in her life, and she'd been just a small girl at the time. She barely could remember anything about it other than the fun it had been to stand in a crowd and try to catch the bride's bouquet. Those traditions didn't really apply to weddings in the wizarding world, though, so she really had no idea what to expect from Bill and Fleur's wedding.

It had far surpassed her wildest dreams. It was like a fairy tale come to life. The guests, on the other hand, were quite interesting. George's Aunt Muriel had told her before the ceremony that she had terrible posture and skinny ankles, while telling George his ears seemed lopsided. She had then, in a demeaning way, told them that she was thankful they had both found each other. George had had to pull Hermione away before she could tell the rude older woman off.

Now, as she watched the bride and groom dance across the reception space, Hermione felt herself swoon a bit. The couple looked so happy, staring at each other in complete adoration.


Hermione spun in the direction of the deeply-accented voice. She had seen Viktor earlier, but was unable to converse with him due to the hustle and bustle. She let herself slowly take in the man who had thought she was pretty even before she had grown more into her looks or dolled herself up for the Yule Ball.

"Viktor," she said in greeting, eyeing the older wizard kindly as he picked up her hand and pressed a gentle kiss to the back of it. She couldn't help but blush.

"It is marvelous seeing you. You look vonderf—"

Hermione watched awkwardly as her longtime pen-pal stopped speaking and wrinkled his nose at her all of a sudden. His whole face was transformed by a deep look of disgust. She gasped as he dropped her hand as if it had burned him, taking two large steps backwards in a blatant attempt to get away from her.

"Is everything all right?" she asked hesitantly.

Viktor brought a hand up to cover his mouth and nose, eyeing Hermione in alarm before turning away from her and briskly walking off.

Hermione could only stare after him in shock.

"What got into Vicky?"

Hermione gave a dazed shake of her head, shrugging as she turned toward Ron. She couldn't even bring herself to admonish him for the silly nickname. She knew her face reflected her confusion as he sidled up next to her, looking handsome in the dress robes that the twins had purchased for him after their shop had taken off. "I haven't the slightest clue, honestly. That was so bizarre."

"Well, would you like to —"

Ron's nervously mumbled question was immediately cut off as his slight smile dropped into a grimace. He gestured over his shoulder as if to tell her he had to be on his way before he disappeared into the nearest crowd.

Saying she was bewildered would have been a massive understatement. Hermione glared at the spot where the redhead had just stood before throwing up her hands in frustration, muttering a choice word or two beneath her breath. She didn't like feeling confused, and was thankful it didn't happen often, because it made her feel like a dimwit. Did she smell or something?

As she finally lowered her hands back to her sides in defeat, she caught sight of something out of the corners of her eyes — the beautiful corsage that George had given her.

"Plus it's pretty selfish on my part," he had said.

Hermione's eyes widened for only a fraction of a second before she turned abruptly on her heel, storming off to find her boyfriend. She found him over by a box of the twins' Exploding Whizz Poppers with Fred. Scowling at the products, Hermione vaguely mused that at least the twins hadn't decided to bring their Wildfire Whiz-bangs to this wedding, as they would have if it had been Percy's or Ron's.

"Hiya, Hermione," Fred greeted, waving in an overstated, wobbly manner that told her he may have to go easy on the Firewhiskey.

"Baby," George added simply as he reached out a hand, presumably to wrap an arm around her.

Hermione ignored both greetings, instead grasping George's outstretched hand in a tight hold and tugging him after her, refusing to stop her brisk stride in the process. She headed out of the grand tent where all the festivities were being held, dragging George off into the darkness.

"Excuse us, Fred," she shouted over her shoulder as an afterthought.

She headed toward the same clearing where they'd had their first fight. She briefly wondered if the clearing was cursed, since they seemed to never bicker when they were elsewhere.

"As much as I love the naughty possibilities implied by my girlfriend leading me away from the party while looking so ravishing, I feel the need to ask: Are you going to kill me?" George teased as they drew to a halt and Hermione released his hand. He gave her a large, amused grin. "You should know that my family actually might miss me. Maybe. A little."

Hermione closed her eyes for a moment to protect her wits from his devilish charm. "What did you do, George Weasley?" she demanded, waving the corsage in front of his face while pursing her lips knowingly. "Ron and Viktor ran away from me like I was Voldemort."

George seemed to bite back a laugh before looking at her seriously. "It isn't nice to scare innocent people."

"Oh, honestly!" she exclaimed in exasperation. "I know it was you. I think I know how to recognize the signs of your trickery by now."

"All right, all right," he relented, stepping toward her and wrapping an arm around her waist to tug her against him. Hermione eyed him hesitantly as he took out his wand and gently grasped her wrist before continuing. "It's a new product of ours. You were the final test before it hits our shelves."

"You tested a product on me?" she squeaked, eyes wide in surprise.

George nodded, having the presence of mind to look a bit apologetic. "I wouldn't have done it if there was even a slight possibility of causing you harm. It was just a silly joke." Hermione watched as he touched the tip of his wand to the corsage, murmuring an incantation beneath his breath. "There you go. Now it's just an ordinary – yet beautiful, if I do say so myself – flower."

"Thank you," Hermione sighed, relieved to no longer be a part of any of the twins' evil cleverness, especially the test stages of it. "What did it do, anyway?"

"It deterred anyone with romantic feelings toward you from being able to express those romantic feelings," George stated simply. "Except me, of course."

"I'm guessing only the person who gives the wearer the corsage is allowed to express said 'romantic feelings,'" Hermione said, quirking a smile at him. She couldn't help but think it was wonderful magic. Even when it was turned against her, she appreciated his brilliant mind. "That's very smart."

George's hand wandered to her lower back, pressing her chest to his as he leaned down to kiss an extremely sensitive spot of hers just beneath her ear, where her jaw met her neck. "I'm glad you think so."

"This doesn't mean I approve of you using me," she protested, unconsciously tilting her head further up so he could have better access.

"I didn't mean to," he replied, nuzzling her jaw with his nose before following the path with his lips a moment later. "It was selfish. I knew Krum was coming and you look so beautiful."

"I guess I forgive you," Hermione said, sounding dramatically reluctant. "It was a bit funny to watch Ron run away as if he'd just seen a spider."

"The man really hates spiders," George agreed, leaning back so that he could peer down into her eyes. His shimmered with humor. "Wonder why?"

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Yes, Fred and you had no part in that whatsoever."

"Told you about that, did he?"

"Yes," she said, fiddling with the buttons of his dashing robes. "It's made for some interesting stories over the years. In fact, during third year when Professor Lupin taught us about boggarts, Ron's was a spider."

George kissed the tip of her nose, causing her to flush under his penetrating gaze. "What was your biggest fear?" he questioned.


He nodded thoughtfully. "Is it still your biggest fear now?"

"I don't know. Probably not. I'd imagine my fear of losing those I love is worse," Hermione explained, wrapping her arms around him snugly.

George seemed to open his mouth to say something and then think better of it. Instead, he changed the subject. "I've always missed having Remus as a professor."

"He was so spectacular that sometimes I forget to remember the bad about my third year," Hermione said, reaching a finger up to touch her favorite freckle on George's cheek. "It's easy to focus on how wonderful it was to meet him and Sirius, instead of all the craziness."

George smiled, placing his palm on top of her hand to press it fully against his skin. "I've heard quite a story about you from Harry."

"And what's that?" she asked, matching his smile with her own before sliding her hands down his chest to playfully tickle his ribcage.

"I heard that you learned how to do an impressive imitation of a wolf howl," he let out breathlessly, before pulling away from her questing hands with a teasing wag of his finger in her direction.

She threw back her head and laughed at the memory. Of course Harry would tell the Weasleys such a silly detail. "I wouldn't say it's impressive."

George shook his head as if to say he didn't believe that for a second before gesturing for her to get on with it.

"No," she immediately refused, waving her hands back and forth in front of her. "Absolutely not. That's embarrassing."

"Aw, c'mon, baby," he whined, pouting at her. "Pretty please? I really want to hear."

She huffed out a sigh, shaking her head at him. "I must really love you," she muttered, grinning good-naturedly when he nodded as if that were the most asinine statement she could ever make.

Tipping her head back and cupping her hands around her mouth to create a soulful echo, Hermione bit back any last thoughts saying the whole ordeal was completely foolish. Instead, she howled. Her voice reverberated through the darkness around them in a haunting melody that caused the hair on the back of her neck to raise, similar to how it had when Professor Lupin had released a tragic howl in his werewolf form all those years ago.

When she stopped a few moments later and looked at George, his eyebrows were disappearing into his hair and his mouth was slightly agape. She gave him her best imitation of a Weasley twin smirk, loving the look of awe in his eyes.

George seemed to shake out of a trance before closing the distance between them, clasping the back of her neck, and slamming their lips together in a heated entanglement of tongues, lips, and teeth. Hermione felt as if she would surely collapse if George released his hold on her. Her ability to reason enough to function was temporarily swept from her mind as she moaned against him, curling her fingers into his vibrant red locks in an attempt to tug him even closer.

When George finally broke away, Hermione's back was pressed rather uncomfortably against a tree. Their bodies were so close that every part of her seemed to vibrate with the warmth of him. She felt the bark of the tree press into her skin, probably ruining the back of her robes, but didn't move. All she wanted was to feel him against her. He was like a drug that she couldn't get enough of.

"What was that for?" she panted, clutching at his robes to keep her balance.

"I have no bloody idea. Something about the way you just did that completely made me want to take you right against this tree," George said huskily, his hot breath sweetly caressing her face.

Hermione groaned. The man was making her into some wanton hussy. She'd caught herself undressing him with her eyes on various occasions since their first time together, and often could think of nothing but the next time they'd be able to sneak off alone. It'd made for some very absentminded meetings with Ron and Harry.

"Right against this tree?" she echoed breathlessly.

"Gods yes," he responded, leaning down to cover her neck with kisses. Hermione felt thankful for the tree in that moment, because she was sure she would have passed out from his actions otherwise. "Do that thing one more time."

Hermione gasped out a laugh. "Have a bit of a fetish, love?"

George nipped her shoulder playfully in response.

Still laughing, and only slightly paying attention to what she was doing due to his ceaseless kisses, Hermione once again tipped her head back to howl. The sound had barely left her mouth before another sound joined her voice. Another howl.

They stopped their kissing abruptly, the passionate haze that had surrounded their minds clearing instantly.

"What was that?" George asked quietly, clutching Hermione to him in a firm hold. "There're no wolves out here. D'you reckon Remus is expressing his frustration at having to wear fancy clothes?"

Hermione was about to respond teasingly when a new sound crashed around them, an odd flickering of light flashing across the sky. Her eyes narrowed in confusion while her heart stuttered in fear. When a crowd of screams suddenly chorused around her, she felt like she was going to be sick.

"Greyback," George bit out incredulously, naming the source of the second howl.

Hermione met his eyes in horror. "Death Eaters."

"Let's go," he grunted, drawing his wand out as she did the same before sprinting back in the way that they had come with their hands tightly clasped together.

The scene was one of utter chaos. There was fire and shattered glass. People cried and screamed, most begging for their loved ones in confused shock. The crack of Apparation could be heard from everywhere as people escaped. Everything that had once represented a fairy tale was now in ruins.

"George," Hermione shouted urgently, trying to be heard over the terror despite his hearing loss. He was slightly in front of her with his neck swinging from side to side, taking in the damage to his childhood backyard as they darted toward the bedlam.

His focus was riveted on their surroundings, so he didn't hear her. Instead he continued yanking her toward the tent, no doubt in search of his family. She knew she couldn't go with him, though. She had to find Harry and Ron. It was now or never. All of their planning had been for the day after tomorrow, but she luckily had had the foresight to pack in advance for a "just in case" scenario. She had to find where she had placed her beaded handbag earlier, grab Harry and Ron, and then leave.

Leave George.

Her heart skipped a beat sadly as her logic took the forefront of her mind and allowed her to do what her heart screamed not to. She ripped her hand, which had desperately clung to her boyfriend's, away and stumbled backwards. George's eyes flew to hers in surprise as he finally stopped running. With his attention on her completely, she tried to convey everything she wanted to in a brief glance. She tried to tell him that he was her everything. That no matter how dark the world became, it would always be light for her as long as he was in it. That he gave her hope for the future, and something worth fighting for. That her biggest fear in the world was losing this wonderful love that they had somehow managed to create between them in the last month.

"I love you," she whispered brokenly, trying not to get caught in his pain-filled eyes.

Before she could let him reply, Hermione spun away from George and let her body become numb. There was a battle going on and far more pertinent things to be done for the greater good. She counted on mere reflex and sheer force of will to get through her attackers until finally one hand was wrapped around her handbag, which she had left on the chair where she'd sat for dinner, and the other clutched desperately to Ron. He'd managed to find her, not the other way around.

"H-Barny!" she yelled now, frantically searching for "Cousin Barny" as Ron wrapped an arm around her waist to steady her. "Barny!"

As she caught a glimpse of him in the crowd, she surged forward with her hand outstretched desperately. She met Harry's eyes with slight relief, their hands coming in contact at long last. She squeezed his and Ron's hands tightly as she thought of where to take them quickly in her head, interlacing her fingers with theirs.

Then, just before that horrid twisting and stretching feeling could overtake them all, her eyes met another pair. A pair that was a beautiful brown with green specks, so often shimmering with mirth but now glistening with sadness.

Then she was gone.

"George, c'mon!"

George felt his twin tugging at his hand and could hear the panicked cries and casting of curses around him, yet he couldn't bring himself to move from his spot. He stared helplessly at the patch of grass where Hermione had stood, her hands desperately clutching Harry's and his brother's before meeting his eyes and leaving. He couldn't believe that was it.

"I never got to tell her my biggest fear," he muttered, his voice gruff and dazed.

"And what's that, Georgie?" Fred asked loudly, before cursing and throwing up a shield around them with his other hand.

George didn't even notice. "Losing you or her."

He heard Fred sigh before he was suddenly yanked forward. "Granger knows."

Fred tugged him away from tent, one hand holding George's while his other arm slid around Ginny to quickly guide the lot forward. When they had cleared the tent completely, Fred Apparated them away.

George sunk to the floor on his knees before he could even register where they were now. He couldn't even clear his mind to focus back on his family. Deep down, he knew he would have felt it in his being if something had happened to any of them. Instead, all he could think about was the fact that he may never get to see Hermione again. He hoped Fred was right and she knew his fear for her. He wished he had been able to tell her he loved her one last time before she had run away from him.

At least there was always the twin journal that he felt resting snugly against his thigh in the pocket of his robes.

AN: Now we're really getting into the gist of the story! :) Let me know what you thought of this chapter/the story so far, or if you have any good ideas as to where the story is going! I love to hear any sort of feedback!


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