(Soul)Mates, 15+, Hermione/George, Chapter 1/??
Category: Harry Potter
Warning(s): Language, Substance Abuse, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Contains Spoilers
Summary: Walking into the Leaky Cauldron that night had changed her life. It hadn't all been good; there'd been the accidental marriage, the case of the stolen sweaters, and that time she'd walked in on the guys in that compromising position... Yet, for all the ups and downs and tears and embarrassment, she wouldn't trade a chance to go through life with five soul mates for anything.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter does not belong to me and I am making no profit in the creation of this story.
AN: Thank you to my beta, wolfgirl! You're the best Ellie!
Chapter One: Three Years Later
Hermione burst into the Leaky Cauldron with the force of a wild Bludger. The day had seemed so innocently beautiful earlier when she'd left her flat, grabbing an umbrella to protect her from the light, playful rain that was so typical of this time of year. She'd always enjoyed early spring when Diagon Alley was coming back to life after the chill of winter. She liked the misty spring showers before summer took hold. Yet, no amount of seasonal love could make up for what may have been the worst date she'd ever been on.
She forced herself to take deep, calming breaths in an effort to relax before moving through the crowded pub to get to her friends.
"Whoa," was all Lee said in response to her entrance, stretching out the word as he slid down the bench to make room for her at their usual booth. He was watching her wearily, as if wondering whether or not she was about to blow. Hermione didn't think she could blame him; she'd never been so embarrassed and so angry in her life. She was sure she looked like a crazy person as the strange mixture of emotions left her feeling flushed and ready to hit something.
"I'd watch my words if I were you," she cautioned, glaring at him before plopping down and dropping her umbrella by her feet. "You may find yourself missing a beloved piece of anatomy."
"Careful with your words, love. You know I get all hot and bothered when you say such sexy things," he teased, careful to keep himself as far from her as possible on the other side of the bench.
"I will kill you," she assured him gravely, enunciating clearly in case he hadn't understood the depth of her emotions the first time.
He flashed his teeth in a wide smile. "I'm so turned on by you."
"Stop being a prat, Lee. What's the matter, Hermione? " Ginny asked, leaning forward across the table with genuine concern.
Harry scratched at the back of his head. "Didn't you have that date with…? Er, what was his name again?"
Ron snapped his fingers together, searching his memory for their old schoolmate's name. "It was Andrew. Or Charles. No, Brandon!"
"And you're the top students of your Auror class?" Lee asked, cocking his head to the side at the two men. "I'm concerned about the safety of the general public."
"It was something like Christopher," Harry continued as though Lee hadn't spoken. "Oh! It was Marcus!"
"That is nothing like Christopher," Lee deadpanned.
"They're getting worse, not better," Ginny broke in disbelievingly, sharing a look with Hermione before rolling her eyes. "I have no idea why we keep them around."
"Like you're one to talk. Do you remember his name?" Harry asked her, dropping his elbow onto the table so he could turn to her doubtfully.
"I do," Ginny insisted, flipping her hair over her shoulder primly. She bit her lower lip before glancing away. "It was Bla –"
"You don't want to finish that, darling," Lee chuckled. "That's not right either."
"It was Anthony," Hermione growled in annoyance, dropping her head against the seatback to look up at the ceiling. "Anthony Goldstein."
"I was close with Andrew," Ron shrugged.
"I don't know, I think Brandon was what really rang a bell," Ginny said seriously in response.
Hermione dropped her forehead onto the table with a loud thud. She squeezed her eyes shut against the cool wood and brought her arms up to cover her head. "I hate you all."
"What'd you do to Granger? Is she broken?"
She turned her head slightly at the sound of the new voice, peering up at George through her curls as he approached them. When her eyes caught his, he grinned roguishly and dropped a palm to slide through her hair in greeting. She blinked at the contact before lifting herself back up and pressing closer to Lee to make room for George in his usual spot. They always sat in the same seats at their table as they'd sat during that first trip to the Leaky three years ago. It was an unspoken tradition.
"Care to clue me in?" George asked, carefully reading Hermione's expression before shrugging off his coat and draping an arm behind her back. "Sorry I'm late, by the way. Had to clear the shop myself."
"Isn't it your job to help him?" Ginny asked, looking at Lee with a raised eyebrow.
Lee smirked innocently. "I'm more of a freelance worker."
"What my associate means to say is that he's a lazy sod who only works on days when Verity is around to look at," George corrected, flicking Lee's ear over Hermione's head. Lee immediately swatted back at him causing Hermione to pinch both men's sides in rebuttal.
"Sorry baby," George murmured, tugging softly on a stray curl of hers in apology. He rubbed at his wounded side with his free hand. "As I was saying, Lee only works when Verity is around to attempt to seduce. She doesn't work on Fridays, meaning he doesn't either. So I manned the shop alone today."
"I don't attempt to seduce her," Lee argued, leaning forward and raising his hands up as if to clear the air of such blasphemy. "I'll have you all know that I haven't even tried to seduce Verity yet. I've just been laying the foundation. You know, wooing her."
"I call bullshit," Harry announced immediately. "There's no way you haven't made a pass at her yet. It's against all laws of science and magic."
Ron snorted into his pint. "And even if by some act of Merlin himself you haven't, it still sounds pathetic."
"Seriously, mate. It's not a good sign if you have to spend months convincing a woman to shag you," Harry reasoned. "If she hasn't yet, she's never going to."
"That's not true," Hermione interjected. "It's not uncommon for women to want to wait before jumping into bed with someone. Some people like having an actual relationship with the other person beforehand. This may come as a surprise to you all, but men actually do have to grow on a woman. It's not always lust at first sight."
"She's right, boys. Besides, who're you to talk Harry? We dated for a year and a half before I slept with you," Ginny finished, giving her boyfriend a no-nonsense glare.
George and Ron both groaned.
"Why must you always bring up shagging?" George asked.
"You brought up shagging," Harry corrected.
"I brought up Lee's desire to shag Verity. That's a very specific brand of shagging," the older redhead argued.
"So we can talk about the shagging habits of everyone except Ginny and me?"
"Absolutely," George and Ron chimed together.
Lee took a swig of his beer before wiping at his mouth with the back of his hand. "Let's venture past the fact that your sister and Harry go at it like rabbits, shall we?"
Ginny shook her head at them. "Yes, let's. Anyway, I think it's nice that Lee is trying to woo Verity slowly. This may be the longest a woman has ever held his interest. It's probably the closest to monogamy he'll ever get."
George gave a smug chuckle. "Oh Ginny, my naïve little sister. Lee's been shagging other women besides Verity. She only maintains his interest for as long as it takes for her to walk into his line of sight and then cross out of it," he declared, miming Verity's passage from one side to the other with his hand.
"I bet I can get her to sleep with me by the end of the summer," Lee grinned wickedly, unperturbed by the conversation. He sent Ginny a wink. "In the meantime, I saw this bird at Gringotts today with the perkiest –"
"Please don't finish that sentence," Hermione sighed, squeezing his knee in warning. "Save it for after Gin and I leave, if you must."
"But you leave when we leave," he whined, pouting at her.
He stopped and pressed his lips together for a moment of thought. Then, coming to terms with the end of his story, he dropped a kiss to Hermione's temple. "Ah, the things I do for you."
"Yes, you show such restraint," Hermione responded sarcastically, her tired frown giving way to a small smile at his silliness.
"Now, tell us about your date 'Mione," Ginny urged with delight, glad to be back on track. "C'mon, we're curious."
"I didn't know you had a date tonight," George said in surprise, turning to look at Hermione as he scratched at his bad ear. "How was it? Lust at first sight?"
Hermione reached up to rub her shoulders in the hope of easing some tension as her mind went back to her time with Anthony. She covered her mouth with her hand after a moment, wondering if she should tell them. It was almost too embarrassing to be real.
"That bad, huh?" George asked, smiling brightly before waving to get Tom's attention behind the bar. He held up two fingers as his drink order. The barkeeper nodded his acknowledgment.
"Eelikdmuhface," Hermione blurted out suddenly from behind her hand, flushing a deep red. She figured she should just get it over with as quickly as possible. It wasn't as if she really could keep something from them anyway. Her friends had an uncanny skill for unearthing details of each other's lives whether they wanted to or not.
"Pardon?" Harry asked as they all gave a confused chuckle.
Hermione covered her face in mortification. "He. Licked. My. Face."
The admission was met with silence.
Tom came over and placed two pints on the table, one in front of George and the other in front of Hermione after George motioned for him to do so. As soon as the older wizard moved away, Ron, Harry, Ginny, George, and Lee gave an obnoxious roar of amusement.
"It's not funny!" Hermione exclaimed, throwing up her hands. "It was horrifying!"
"I think we need a bit of backstory," Ron chortled after a few long moments of nothing but their mirth.
"Well, we had dinner earlier and that was relatively normal enough. He's a bit boring but quite nice, which is why I said alright when he offered to walk me to the flat," Hermione explained, swatting at George when he continued to laugh as she spoke. "I reckoned the walk would be romantic. You know, sharing an umbrella through the rain and all that. Anyway, he walks me home and when we get to the stoop he goes in for the goodnight kiss. So I lean in for the peck, but he bypasses my lips and instead… he licks my face."
"How extensive was this lick?" Harry asked, leaning forward with a smile that was way too large to be supportive.
"Chin to cheek," Hermione mumbled, blushing as they all started snickering again.
"Wait a second," Ginny said, struggling to catch her breath. She wiped a tear from her eye before continuing, "Wasn't this your second date with Anthony Goldstein?"
Biting her lip in humiliation, Hermione nodded. She took a moment to take three large gulps of the beer George had gotten her in an effort to chase away the memories.
"Well, did he do this the first time?" Lee questioned, nudging her with his elbow. "Give your cheek a good tonguing, I mean."
Hermione squeezed her eyes shut. "Yes."
"And you decided you wanted seconds?" George teased, turning fully in his seat to look at her with a gigantic smirk.
"I thought he knew I didn't like it after the first time and wouldn't do it again!" Hermione insisted wildly. "I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt!"
"How'd that work out for you?" Harry tittered, trying and failing to sound serious.
Hermione huffed before grumbling miserably, "He told me I was a bad kisser."
That was the last of the conversation, because all of her friends were immediately lost in their laughter at the hilarity of the tale.
Hermione was sloshed, which was made obvious as she stumbled out of the Leaky after her friends at around three o'clock in the morning. After they'd finished teasing her, they'd banded together and spent the remainder of the night buying her enough drinks to put Anthony from her mind completely. Lee'd even been kind enough to valiantly offer to snog her senseless to prove she wasn't the bad kisser her date had said she was. Ginny dragged him off to the bar by his ear as soon as he went in for the kill.
Now, the group paused outside the pub so that Harry could lock up after them with the keys Tom had offered them a few months ago. The elderly man had realized it was easier to let them leave when they were good and ready to, instead of staying up waiting for them or kicking them out early. It was in his financial advantage to let them all continue purchasing drinks well into the morning hours. Plus, he was getting too old to be staying up that late anymore.
"You good, baby?" George asked, sidling up to Hermione as she leaned heavily against the wall of the building. Harry was in the process of wrestling various keys into the keyhole, sure they were all exactly the same in his drunken state.
Hermione watched as Ginny plucked the keys from Harry's grasp and locked the door herself. "I'm good. Just tired," she answered, moving her eyes to George's so she could blink up at him sleepily.
"Let me walk you home," he urged, placing a hand on her arm. "And before you argue, I assure you that I am saying this because I want to walk you, not because I feel obligated."
Hermione gave a knackered smile, reaching out to poke his chest. "You know me so well, sir."
"I'm a fast learner," he admitted with a dimpled grin. "I've heard your lecture on how you are not a damsel in distress before."
"Many times," she corrected.
"True," he agreed before spinning back to the others. "Oi! Lee! I'm walking Granger home. See you back at the flat."
Hermione waved as Lee and Ron took off in the direction of their perspective homes. After the war, Harry, Ron, and Hermione had moved into a flat together in Diagon Alley. Once Harry and Ginny had started getting serious two years later, Ron offered to move out so that Ginny could move in. He'd reasoned that he was happy for the couple, but couldn't live in the same flat as them together. He'd insisted that it'd be too weird. So, now Hermione lived with Harry and Ginny while Ron lived in his own place. Lee lived above the shop with George.
George reached for Hermione's hand to drag her with him as he followed a few steps behind a wavering Harry as Ginny led him forward with an arm around his waist.
"Too fast," Hermione whispered, putting a hand to her forehead as her balance was thrown off.
"Sorry," George said, stopping long enough to wrap an arm around her and pull her against his side. He slowed his pace to help her along. She sighed her gratitude and snuggled against him as they began strolling through the foggy, wet streets of Diagon Alley. The air was still cool from the earlier rainstorm, so Hermione was content with the proximity.
"George, I've been thinking –"
She glared up at him playfully before resting her head against his arm again. "I've been thinking that I'm ready to not date anymore."
"Sick of looking for lust at first sight?" George guessed, his hand on her hip as he looked down at her fondly.
She nodded, closing her eyes and trusting him to lead her home instead of to her death. "I'm sick of looking for lust at first sight and I'm sick of waiting for someone to grow on me. I hate dating. I'm bad at it."
"That's doubtful," he murmured.
"You're just saying that because you're my best friend," she objected. "Either way, I don't want to date anymore. I'm ready to find the right guy, settle down, and have a family."
"I know you are, baby," George breathed, kissing the top of her head and tugging her even closer. "I know you are."
AN: Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I have to say that this plot-bunny has really inspired me. I'm very excited to be able to share it with you all! Also, if you haven't already, don't forget to pop over to my profile and take my poll. Please review and let me know what you think!