Warning (highlight to view): For the implied previous death of Ron.
Word Count: 1020
Summary: Hermione decides to get back in the game.
Disclaimer: This piece is based on characters and situations created by J. K. Rowling, and owned by J. K. Rowling and various publishers, including but not limited to: Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made from and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended by the posting of this fic.
Author's Note: arynwy asked me at some point in the past for some George/Hermione, and here it finally is.
Hermione emerged from the Burrow's kitchen door with a pitcher of pumpkin juice just in time to see her daughter knock Scorpius from his broom in the orchard. "Rose! Stop that right now!"
"No, don't scold her," George said, laying a hand on her arm. "She's playing at Shuntbumps, not fighting."
Scorpius laughed and mounted his Shooting Star while the other children egged him on for another go, and Hermione moved to the table and began filling tumblers with juice.
"Is that anything like jousting?" she asked, feeling the weight of George's gaze upon her.
He chuckled. "It's exactly like that."
"They're too high off the ground."
"Four feet isn't that high, and Shuntbumps isn't as boring as the Swivenhodge they were playing."
Hermione turned her attention from the table to George. "You taught them to play that?"
"There's nothing more depressing than watching a group of eight-year-olds smacking a pig's bladder back and forth across a hedge that one could step over. Let them have their fun. This is a birthday party, after all."
George's eyes held a warmth that Hermione found all too familiar, and it scared her. "I wish Ron were here."
"Well, er, of course you do," George said, his smile wavering. "Here, I'll help you. The cake's in the pantry, is it?"
"No!" Hermione exclaimed. "I mean, yes, it is, but . . . but it isn't finished."
George rolled his eyes and laughed. "I wondered where Mum and Dad'd gone off to."
Hermione flushed. "I should know better by now than to walk into any room in this house without knocking first, shouldn't I?"
"They probably didn't even notice you. I wouldn't worry—and to make you feel better about the 'jousting', I'll return to my avuncular duties now."
"I, well," Hermione said, her hand absentmindedly brushing the place on her arm where George had touched her, "you're right. They're fine."
"You want me to stay?"
Hermione bit her lip at the note of hope in George's tone.
"I don't mean to push you," he said.
"You're not. You haven't. I'm the one who kissed you. I just . . . this is awkward."
"I snogged you back, so it isn't 'this' that's awkward. It's us, but we don't have to be, awkward, I mean."
"How can we not be?" Hermione asked, looking over her shoulder into the orchard as childish squealing met her ears.
When she turned back, George was so close to her that they were almost touching.
"It's easy," he murmured, pushing her hair out of her face. "We just need to kiss again. With practice, I might even rate more than an 'awkward'."
"But we can't. Not here," she whispered in protest. "Your family will see."
"Our family's seen—"
"Well, don't just stand there, get on with—I mean, go get the cake. The children will be wanting it, soon," Molly told them, emerging from the house and moving to take up Hermione's pitcher.
Hermione blushed in confusion as George, laughing, led her back into the house.
They passed Arthur, who winked and said with unrepentant cheerfulness, "Pantry's free."
"Oh, God. They know!" Hermione exclaimed, as George closed the pantry door behind them. "They think we're in here kissing! Quick, George, help me with the cake. We have to—"
She stopped speaking as George took her hands away from the cake platter to hold them firmly in his own, his expression suddenly serious.
"Hermione, Ron's been gone for over two years, now."
"I know, but . . . ."
"For over two years," George continued, lightly squeezing her hands before releasing them, "and while I can accept that you might not be . . . up for Quidditch, yet, I think it's about time we at least tried to play at Shuntbumps because Swivenhodge is a boring, useless game."
Missing his touch, Hermione leant gently against him. She wanted him as much as she knew he wanted her, but she still wasn't sure of him. What she did know was that she had no intention of becoming just another member of "Team George."
Her voice trembling, she asked, "Is it always about sport with you?"
"It used to be, I can't deny that. It used to be all about my bludger—but you know very well that I haven't played with anyone else in months. How can I? I only want you."
Hermione found herself seizing George's shirt in two tight, possessive handfuls. "Really?"
"For a such a smart girl, you're awfully thick, someti—mph!"
There was nothing playful about their kiss, and the press of George's lips against her own made Hermione feel anything but awkward. It was only when George slid his hands up under her skirt, cupped her arse, and pulled her against him that Hermione broke their embrace.
"We can't. Not now. We've cake to dish out."
"I hate cake," George replied, mock-glowering at the large confection as he dutifully released her and adjusted himself.
"You do not. You love it."
George stilled and gazed at her with an unfamiliar intensity. "Yeah, Hermione, I do."
Immediately, several light-hearted, gently dismissive responses rose in Hermione's mind as she prepared to put George off as she'd done so often, but she couldn't bring herself to utter any of them. She didn't want to put him off, she realised. She hadn't for a while—but it was hard to know what to say to George when he was looking at her so expectantly.
Feeling stupid and shy, she made a go of it, anyway. "I don't know why I've been so worried about . . . about Quidditch. I love it almost as much as I love cake."
George released the breath he'd apparently been holding and beamed at her. "Then we'll just have to work on your game—after the party?"
Hermione issued a nervous laugh.
"Sorry. I said I wouldn't push, and here I am, pushing. Shuntbumps, then?"
"Definitely at least Shuntbumps—after the party, of course."
Still grinning, George picked up the platter and said cheerfully, "I hate parties."
And I, Hermione thought, as she followed him out to the garden, hate Swivenhodge.
But she had to admit that she loved being a part of Team Weasley.