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Hermione adjusted the strap of the bag on her shoulder as she navigated the crowds of Diagon Alley. It was such a nice day that the people were out in droves.

She had popped out to do a bit of shopping. She'd needed some more parchment and ink. And maybe a new book or two. Or twenty. A smile crept across her face at the thought. She'd never been able to resist the siren song of a bookstore.

"Hermione? Is that you?"

The voice that called to her was vaguely familiar. When she looked up, she had to clench her teeth to keep back the groan that was building in her throat. Cormac McLaggen stood before her wearing the same smirk she remembered from their school years.

Hermione felt his gaze rake up and down her figure. "Well, Hermione. You're looking good. It's been a long time, hasn't it?"

She rolled her eyes as he moved a bit closer. "Yes, it has."

Not long enough, really.

The last time she'd spoken to the boy had been when she'd told him off at Slughorn's Christmas party. She remembered that Cormac had backed her into a dark corner and tried to snog her. Which would have been bad enough, but then he'd grabbed her bum. He was lucky that he'd escaped with just a tongue lashing and not a physical one.

His mouth turned up into an arrogant smile. "You know, I'm working at the Ministry now. The Minister and I are rather close friends." He laughed, leaning towards her and whispered conspiratorially, "Actually, I don't think he could get by a day without me."

Hermione's eyes glazed over as she started to look for an escape from the conversation. She nodded. "Oh, that's great."

She didn't buy his attempts to impress her. Most of the things he told her were probably lies anyway. Cormac reached out to rest his hand on her arm. She hid a grimace as she took a step backwards. He didn't seem to notice.

"You know, there's going to be a party at the Ministry next week. You should come as my date. I mean, I remember that huge crush you had on me when we were in Hogwarts."

Her mouth almost dropped open at his arrogance. Was it possible that he was really that ignorant? Hermione felt a wave of frustration wash over her and she opened her mouth to argue.

But suddenly, there was a weight around her shoulders and she saw a flash of red out of the corner of her eye. Turning her head, she saw that George Weasley, wearing fluorescent magenta robes that bore his shop's logo, had appeared out of nowhere. He was now standing next to her with his arm around her and a devilish smirk on his face.

"There you are, love. I've been looking all over for you," George said. A mischievous glint filled his brown eyes as he waited for her reaction.

Hermione was dumbfounded for a moment. After all, she hadn't seen either one of the Weasley twins since she had left to find her parents a month before. And in all of the years that she'd known him, George had never once called her "love".

She wondered if this was the start of some practical joke, but found she didn't really mind too much if it got her out of talking to Cormac. She quickly seized the escape that George had provided her.

She adopted what she hoped was a sheepish look and patted his chest. She felt the hard muscle through his shirt and a fierce blush settled on her cheeks. "Sorry, dear. I saw something in one of the shops that I just had to look at."

She turned back to Cormac, who had a somewhat put out expression. "George, you remember Cormac? We were just catching up."

George nodded and held his hand out for the other man to shake. "Of course. Good to see you again, McLaggen."

"So, you two are together then?" Cormac asked, gesturing to the two of them.

"Oh, yeah." George smiled as he pulled her closer. "Been about a year now. Love this bird to death."

Hermione saw the corners of George's mouth twitch in amusement before he leaned to place a kiss on her cheek. She fought to keep her expression neutral, but her whole face was burning. Especially the spot where his lips had been.

Going for adoration, she smiled. "I love you too, George."

Cormac's smile was tight. "How lovely. Well, I really must get going. I'll see you both around."

Hermione watched Cormac swagger away before she turned to George, her eyebrows raised and a smirk on her lips. "Thanks for that, love."

He still had his arm around her as he laughed and said, "Anytime, dear."

George pointed to a nearby bench in front of one of the shops, indicating that they should sit. When they were situated, she asked, "How did you know I needed help?"

He grinned. "Well, I was on my way back to the shop when I saw you. Most people don't scowl when talking to people they like, so I figured that you needed saving. Just call me Prince Charming," he finished with a wink.

Hermione scoffed. "And what does that make me? The damsel in distress?"

"No, Granger. You're anything but that," he replied with a chuckle. "Anyway, when did you get back from Australia? How did it go?"

"Just yesterday, actually. Everything went as planned, for once. I found my parents and restored their memories. They remember everything." Hermione hesitated, staring into the crowds that passed them by. "Though, they're a bit miffed at me. They told me that I had no right to do what I did. That they should have had the choice, and they never would've chosen to give me up."

George watched her intently as her eyes misted over. "Hey, you did what you had to do. And it's all over now. It all turned out fine in the end. They'll come around eventually."

She blinked a few times to rid herself of the tears. Then she looked at him and smiled. "That's very sweet of you to say, George. And until they do, your mother said that I could stay at the Burrow."

"Well, of course she did. My mother would never turn you down. I'm pretty sure she's had the adoption papers ready since the day she met you." George sighed. "I should get back to the shop. Fred is probably getting lonely. But Mum invited us for dinner tomorrow, so I suppose I'll see you then."

Hermione nodded and waved goodbye as he disappeared into the crowd. She placed a hand to her cheek where the imprint of his lips still burned.


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