Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe belongs to JK Rowling. Since you're reading this online and it's not being sold to millions of readers around the world, you can guess that I'm not JK Rowling.
A/N: I'd like to thank AS, HK, and a few of my cousins for helping me out with this story as well as my awesome betas, Ivy and Kelleypen.
"Hermione, you don't need to get all upset about this," Ron called through Ginny's locked bedroom door. "It's okay if you don't know everything. You'll figure out how You-Know-Who got into the Department of Mysteries. You always do."
Hermione's sobs only increased.
"Come on, open the door. We can go down to the city library tomorrow and take out all the books you want." Ron waited for a response. When none came, he sighed and climbed the stairs to his room. A few minutes later, Hermione finally decided to answer.
"It's hard knowing that we can find so much danger in a place as safe as the Ministry of Magic. How can Death Eaters completely empty the Ministry and enter it without anyone knowing? There are six hundred and forty-two Ministry employees, including the Aurors and the Magical Law Enforcement Squad. Granted it was evening, but some people are bound to work late. And there are always at least thirty security guards on duty around the clock, and entering the Atrium after hours is strictly forbidden unless you are directly affiliated with the Ministry." Hermione continued to rant on about the probability of breaking into a government building unnoticed to the empty hallway for several more minutes.
George and Charlie rolled their eyes as they walked past. "Ron, are you listening to me?" Hermione demanded upon hearing footsteps on the soft carpet that only Charlie's new dragonhide boots could produce. "Are even out there?"
"Of course I am, and standing in rapt attention to that fascinating lecture," George responded, cheerfully taking advantage of the tendency of all the males in his family to have the same voice.
"I'm sorry, Ron. I found out that I got a bad score on my Astronomy O.W.L., you know, that night Hagrid was arrested, and it got me thinking about my role in this war."
"Yes, I've heard that after O.W.L.s many people take up entirely new lifestyles, as they're such an major landmark in life and all," George commented, snickering quietly.
"I mean, what's the point of all the reading and the memorization if I can't apply it when the pressure's on?"
"Hermione, none of us would have survived down in the Department of Mysteries if it weren't for you," Charlie pointed out, joining George in masquerading as Ron.
"That's not true."
"But you're always the one who knows what's going on and what to do. You're absolutely brilliant, Hermione. I don't know what I'd do without you."
"Really?" Hermione responded.
"You have been there for me whenever I needed you ever since our first year," George put in solemnly, then turned to grin mischievously at Charlie. "You mean the world to me. The thing I'm trying to say is, um, Hermione, well, to be honest, I rather fancy you," George said solemnly, grinning broadly at Charlie.
"Eyie?" Hermione squeaked. Charlie, never able to play the part of the stern older brother the way Percy and Bill did, doubled over, laughing silently.
"I've loved you since I was thirteen years old," George declared, striking a princely pose, one hand over his heart and the other reaching out to her, mainly for the benefit of his audience. He was gratified to see tears of repressed laughter rolling down Charlie's cheeks.
"But. . .but. . . the Yule Ball."
"The only reason I didn't ask you was because I was afraid you'd say no." Charlie clamped his hands over his mouth, sinking down the floor. "And then you went with Victor Krum. You're my best friend. I guess I thought you'd always be there, and then all of a sudden, someone else came and took you away. And I hated him for it."
Although he couldn't manage to keep a straight face, George was a decent actor, sounding shy, hesitant, and sincere in all the right places.
"Oh, Ron." Charlie was rather surprised by Hermione's immediate acceptance of George's lie, considering that she was supposedly the cleverest girl in her year. He certainly couldn't imagine Ron ever being so sensitive.
The doorknob rattled. "Why won't this thing open?" Hermione asked.
"It must be that new charm Ginny fixed on her room. You cover the doorknob with this potion and it locks the door whenever an unwanted sibling tries to get. Must have activated during the argument," George explained. "I'll try to work on it. Well, back to my point: I can't stand by anymore and let anyone else have you," George continued as Ron appeared in the hallway.
George forced his face into a solemn, passionate expression, and said, "Hermione, I truly, deeply, love you."
Ron gave him a look that said, "That's just plain stupid. As if she'd fall for that."
A sniffle came from Ginny's room, and then the words, "I love you too!"
Ron let out a shriek, and promptly fell down. Charlie quickly pulled out his wand and performed a Silencing Charm to keep him quiet.
"I've loved you since we met on the Hogwarts Express," Hermione continued, oblivious to the noise. "But then I thought you hated me, and later on I didn't want to risk your friendship by telling you! Oh, I'm so glad we can finally be together!" She could clearly be heard crying. "All these years we've been so stupid to not realize it!"
Ron looked ready to cry himself.
"I want to be with you forever!" George declared as he fiddled with the lock.
"Me too," Hermione responded as George triumphantly flung the door open.
Hermione, running out with her arms outstretched, was greeted with the sight of George with his hands clasped over his heart.
She halted as if frozen in time, her only movement in her face, her expression turning to disgust. "George?!" she gasped, preparing to take a step back.
"It is I my love!" George proclaimed, leaping into her still open arms. Hermione staggered backwards under his weight, her wand falling out of her pocket as he wrapped his arms around her neck to keep himself up.
"Oh!" George sighed, throwing back his head and daintily resting the back of his hand upon his forehead. "Long have I awaited this moment. To be held in your strong arms while your bushy hair dances across my cheeks," he whispered, blowing a couple strands out of his face. "Let us be married at once, and let nothing, neither Death Eaters nor charmed doors ever keep us apart!" He moved his hand from his forehead to the back of Hermione's neck and slowly pulled her face to his.
"Bleagh!" Hermione whipped her head to the side and threw him to the floor, accidentally kicking her wand under the mess covering Ginny's floor.
"Oh, you irritating little prat!" Hermione shrieked, kicking him in the leg as her shock turning to utter fury. "Of all the callous uncivilized—urgh! Where's my wand? You knew I wasn't talking about you! It's too bad insensitivity isn't liquid; at least then you would have drowned by--"
"Would you like to share with us who you were talking about then?" George asked smoothly, immune to Hermione's wrath due to years of facing the rage of Molly Weasley. "Hmm, who in this house do we know who Hermione met on the Hogwarts Express? Fred's at the shop, and Percy's at the ministry, the Boy who Lived is at Privet Drive, and we know it's not me. I daresay I'm stumped."
Hermione's eyes widened. "Where is that wand?" she growled, streaking back into Ginny's room to find it among her things.
George chuckled, taking the Silencing Charm off Ron with a flick of his wand. "Yes, well, I've got to go see a chap in Bristol who appears to have overdosed on one of our fine products, so I'll just be on my way," he called into the room as Hermione ripped through the piles of laundry Ginny had the habit of leaving on the floor. "Perhaps you'd like to have a chat with Ron while I'm gone. I truly believe he'd make a better match for you. I adore you, I really do, but it just wouldn't work out between us." He sighed dramatically. "I'm sorry, love. Maybe if things were different. Another place, another time, we could be together." He cackled happily and skipped away.
Charlie leaned over to Ron. "You know how she feels. Let her know you feel the same way about her and you two could have something wonderful. Don't blow it," he advised, punching Ron on the shoulder before following George to the stairway at the end of the hall.
"Aha!" Hermione shouted and ran to the door, triumphantly holding her wand in front of her, ready for battle, but finding the hallway empty except for Ron, who stood alone in front of her looking very unsure of himself.
He took a deep breath. "Hermione, there's something I have to tell you."
"That was a bit cruel, you know," Charlie scolded George as they crouched at the top step, listening to the events outside Ginny's room.
"Cruel? Charlie, I am offended. They could have gone their entire lives as nothing more than friends. Our poor little Ronnie was looking at a lifetime of unhappiness and unfulfilled dreams. It was my job to do something about it. Brotherly duty that was. Brotherly duty."
A/N: Please note the comment on how the Death Eaters got into the Ministry. J I've found it kinda funny how none of the Summer After Fifth Year Fics I've read never talk about it. Reminds me how after fourth year almost none of the fics address the effects of Rita Skeeter's article and the public's perception of Harry. (Urgh. Doesn't the tone of that really show that I've spent way too much time at school?) I'm thinking about writing about it myself, but I don't think I'm a good enough writer to do a novel-length fic. And I don't have the stamina; I seriously started this one in November or earlier. Due to general laziness, it's only getting out now. And just a few days ago Mr. Flying Fingers posted his story "Binding" that has a scene a lot like this story. And it looks pretty interesting. Y'all should read it. J Well, that's what I get for being so slow. Anyway, thanks for reading, and please review!