A/N- Okay so originally this chapter involved a jump to Christmas from where we had previously been at the end of chapter 1. I deleted it this morning and wrote this instead. Here's the thing. I like reading stories where there's tension between character A and character B and unrequited love. But other times I hate it. I hate it because I don't think, after a war in which they lost everything, endured torture, starved, lost body parts, etc. that they would stand by and let their first chance at happiness just vanish from their sight or be too shy or uncertain to go after it. So I don't write unrequited love. That's just me. I pay all due deference to people who can write those stories. I like reading them, like I said. I just don't like writing them.
So anyway, I deleted the Christmas chapter because it ignored things I set up in chapter 1, like George's emotional rawness when he showed up and his little speech to himself in the bathroom mirror about being 'just George'. I gave him a monologue instead. Don't worry, more of his healing will be mentioned when he finally sees his family. I'm just trying to give him and Hermione some room to let their relationship go as it will and to establish what exactly they are to one another. I have a feeling the Weasleys will want to know what their relationship is too.
If a new update takes a little longer than this one does it's because I'm taking the story in a completely new direction. Whew sorry for the long Author's Note. On to the story!
The next day Hermione and George went to Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes together, and he immediately put her to work on the love potion variants for the Wonderwitch products. Hermione had never really thought about how much work Fred and George put into these items. Each had a different alteration that was subtle, but that changed the core of the potion substantially. It was surprising. And Hermione found it actually rather attractive that her boyfriend was this clever. When she had finished the potions, which were finally complete around lunchtime, she checked on George. "Ready to bottle?" He asked.
"Oh I'm permitted to do that? Just four hours ago you weren't sure I should know how to make the damn things."
George winked at her, "Can't have you running off and selling them for less than I do. Oh Merlin."
George shook his head, "We can't let anyone know that Perfect Prefect Granger is involved in this. Imagine the scandal it would create!" He waved his hands about as though to illustrate the magnitude of the supposed scandal.
"Such a scandal," Hermione covered her mouth with her hands to hide her laugh, "let's go bottle the potions George. We need food."
"Okay but I'm watching you to make sure you don't nick anything," he gave her his best Filch impression and she laughed, pulling him to her and kissing him. "It's cheating to use your womanly wiles on me."
"You're the first boy I know that thinks I have womanly wiles," she teased, "thank you."
"Quite welcome, milady," he bowed dramatically before her and they went off to bottle the potions. "I should create new products," he said after a long companionable silence between them. "Fred and I would create new products every month."
Hermione nodded, "If you need help I have some ideas for the shop."
"Like what?" George asked, curious.
She put the toppers on the vials of Crush Blush, "Well you have a love potion line. Why not a sex-related line? And why not have a pet line of products? Toys for cats and whatnot."
George screwed plungers onto the Calamity Lotion bottles as he thought about this. Actually that was a brilliant idea. He could see that working excellently. And it would bring new traffic into the store. He was so busy thinking about this he almost didn't hear what she said next, "And for people with scars I was thinking you could make some kind of makeup to cover them. You know how some girls get with their vanity." George thought about who he knew that was vain. Angelina Johnson, Katie Bell, and Alicia Spinnet weren't. Ginny and his mum weren't. Hermione wasn't. "George? Are you listening?"
He turned and looked at her, "Yeah, sorry. Just thinking about girls I know who are vain. I can't think of a one. Perk of hanging out with brilliance, I bet," he wrapped an arm around her, "Right?"
"Hardly," she rolled her eyes and George leaned in to kiss her, "More like perk of hanging out with Quidditch players. I just have to bottle the First Love Beguiling Bubbles with their wand and then we can continue that."
George nodded and took the items that Hermione had already placed in boxes, carrying them out to the Wonderwitch section and stocking the shelves. "Verity's going to walk in on Tuesday and the whole place will be restocked and the books taken care of…We're like those elves that helped that shoe cobbler out," he called out to the backroom. He heard Hermione laugh. Grinning, George restocked the Wonderwitch area.
Once they were done with that they went to the Leaky Cauldron for lunch, unabashedly holding hands. "I just wanted to tell you, your ideas are brilliant."
She smiled and blushed as they sat down and Tom handed them a couple of menus. "Thank you George."
"I really mean it. In fact, I was wondering…and if you say no it's okay I won't hold it against you…would you like to assist me in product development?"
Hermione just stared at him, eyes wide, surprised. Finally she pulled herself together, "George I don't know what to say. That's an amazing honor to offer me. Are you sure…I mean we just started dating. I don't want to run into any problems if anything should happen in either front." Well George hadn't thought of that. He frowned. "George?"
"I just…I guess I didn't think anything would go wrong between us. It's not like we're together out of the blue or anything."
She moved to his side of the booth and kissed him, "I'm not thinking that anything is going to go wrong with us, George. But if anything did, just hypothetically, then what would happen? Would we be working together as exes? Would we…" Hermione was cut off by George kissing her, his tongue cutting her off very effectively.
When they pulled apart for air he smiled at her, "I don't care. I…what's between us is stronger than a crush or a first date. We've known each other for 8 years, Hermione. Eight years of laughter, of teasing, of quiet respect. We can't turn that off anymore than we can turn off how we feel about each other. If I can walk back into that shop, without Fred, I can do anything. That was the greatest loss I could ever go through. I lost my twin. My other me. But thanks to you and your parents and the shop I'm fine. I can say his name and not feel my heart hit the floor. I can laugh about our antics growing up. I can enter that store and not crumple to the ground in tears. And I can do all of that because of you. You've made me feel like…well like me." He kissed her again and she smiled into it. "If you don't want to for any of those reasons you said, then just say no. But I'd like you to work with me. I'd like to put that renowned Granger brain to good use. I don't mind bragging that you're working with me, and you'd get paid for your work. You're bloody brilliant, Hermione. You're my bloody brilliant and beautiful girlfriend. If we added mischief maker to that title you'd be the perfect triple threat."
She looked at him. Never had she heard him voice any of that. Hermione kissed him, "Yes George. I'll do it."
"Fantastic!" He kissed her again and they only pulled apart when Tom arrived, smiling at the couple to take their order.