Summary: Susan is suffering from the holiday blues. All of her friends are couples, getting married, or soon to have babies. She feels completely alone – and then along comes a redhead.
Characters/Pairings: Susan Bones/ George Weasley, Susan Bones/Theodore Nott, Hannah/Neville, Ron/Hermione
Genre: Romance, hoping for fluff
Beta: M & Z
Word Count: part 2 - 3585
Can the Order post to Tumblr?: Yes
Susan woke up to the sun streaming in her window. She blinked heavily after a long night of dreaming. She heard the sounds of Justin rummaging in the kitchen. She slid out of bed and got ready for the day.
The girl that stepped out of her bedroom did not resemble the trembling mess that had gone in the night before. She stepped into the kitchen and kissed Justin on the cheek. “Thank you, darling.”
“Better this morning?” He gazed into her eyes concerned.
“Yes, much better. It is going to be a beautiful day. I saw the sun coming through my window. It can’t be a bad day if the sun is shining, right?” She smiled as she said the phrase that had been their mantra through many dark days.
“That’s right. Would you like some tea?”
“Mmm, you know me so well, Justin. Why couldn’t you be straight?” She laughed. It was something that was questioned every now and then.
Justin chuckled and turned back to the stove. He flipped his eggs over. “I would say that it has something to do with finding myself checking out Harry Potter instead of Hannah or any other number of girls. Besides, I make a much better friend than I do lover.”
Susan walked around and grabbed two mugs and filled them with the boiling water to brew their tea with. “I think I am going to go down and open a bit early. I think that might make a few people happy.”
“I think it might make you happy. You are always happiest when you are playing with your plants.” Justin filled a plate for himself. He left Susan’s empty knowing that she would probably not eat anything more than a slice of toast.
He was right. She picked up one slice and put some pumpkin butter on it. They sat down at her little table and shared breakfast, as they had many times in the past.
“You know, Susan, I don’t know what I would do if you ever decided to get together with someone.” He took a bite of his eggs.
“What do you mean, Justin?” She looked at him perplexed.
He simply glanced around. “Not many men would like their girlfriends having breakfast with another man.”
“I guess it is a good thing then that I’m not dating anyone.”
“It could happen, though.” He didn’t want to push her, but knew someone would have to do it.
Susan shook her head. “It could happen, but it hasn’t happened yet. I’m still the same girl I have been for the past five years. No one has looked twice at me.”
Justin put his fork down. “Darling, do you truly believe that no one has looked twice at you? Hannah and I have been fielding them for years. We would take one look at you when you met them and we would know that he would never be able to win your heart.”
“What?” She wrinkled her nose before taking a bite of her toast.
“You have had so many men wanting to be with you, but you weren’t ready. You were too oblivious to everyone else.”
“Justin, do we need to have this talk?” Susan was feeling a bit of fear coming from within her.
“Yes, we need to have this talk.” He scooted his chair around the table to take her hands. “Have you wondered what possibilities could happen with George?”
Susan sat back stunned. “George? No, he was just being friendly.”
Justin ran a hand through his perfectly styled hair. “Just being friendly? I saw that kiss. I don’t know where the mistletoe came from, but I can guarantee that the mistletoe that was hanging there was not there when I came into the shop. He could be the one that could help you live again.”
“No, listen to me. It is time you live again. Do you think that Theo would want you living this way? Do you think he died so that you could sit around and miss him every second of every day? Don’t make his sacrifice wasted. You aren’t living. You owe it to him to live again.”
A lone tear slid down her face. “I know.” She took a deep breath and exhaled painfully. “I know I need to live. I know I need to move on. We talked about it. How can I move on though? It isn’t as if they are knocking at the door.”
At that moment the buzzer sounded downstairs over the shop. Justin stood up and walked to the call box. “Yes, we will open shortly.”
“Hey, this is George. Is Susan around?”
Justin’s face broke out in a grin as he did a fist pump. “Yes, she is. I’m going to buzz you up. Just follow the stairs to the top.”
He turned and faced a shocked looking Susan. “You were saying?”
“It’s coincidence. Completely.”
There was a knock at the door and Justin went and opened it. “Hello, George. How are you this lovely morning?”
He laughed. He had a leather jacket on. “I’m good, Justin. Do you come from breakfast often?”
“Come on in, don’t stand in the doorway.” Justin ushered him into the flat. “I stayed in my room downstairs last night. I had to make sure Susan was okay.”
“Um…where is she?” George asked slightly nervous. Justin had never seen one of the twins lack confidence.
“Susan, darling, George is here. Where did you disappear to?” Justin walked towards the kitchen. “Come on George. Can I get you anything? We still have plenty left to eat.”
George grinned. “Sure. A Weasley never turns down food.”
Justin nodded his head and contained a grimace. “Please tell me your manners are better than Ron’s.”
The rich laughter coming from him sent shivers down Susan’s spine as she watched them come into the kitchen. “I have learned to control myself.”
He looked up and found Susan watching him. “Hi, Susan.”
“Good morning, George. You are up and about early today.” She filled another mug for him and pulled a plate from the cupboard.
“Yes, I decided that Ron could run the shop today. I need a day off.”
“Really?” Justin asked. “Susan, if I’m not mistaken you could use one too. You have been so busy around here lately.”
George grinned. He thought that he might end up liking this friend after all. “That means she should come and spend the day with me. I need someone to keep me out of trouble.”
Justin nodded his head. “Oh yes, she does need to come with you. If I remember correctly, trouble always followed you.”
The redhead nodded but kept watching Susan, waiting for an answer.
She licked her lips and glanced between Justin and George. “I guess I could keep you out of trouble, at least for a few hours.” She got an evil smirk on her face. “Justin, darling, you will have to make sure to get Mrs. Peabody the trimmings from the venomous toadstools. She is coming by this afternoon for them.”
“Damn you, Susan! You are evil! I can’t stand that woman.” Justin was outraged, or pretending it very well.
Susan took on an innocent look. “But you just said I need a day off.” She walked over and kissed him on the cheek. “Remember?” She continued to walk back to the table where she sat down the mug for George.
“Watch out for this one. She has a mean streak. I bet she is going to make sure that Mrs. Peabody comes in today whether she planned on it or not.” Justin cringed as he thought of the old witch that liked to pinch his cheeks, and not the ones on his face.
“I shall keep my eyes open for that mean streak. It may come in handy. Have you ever thought of being a tester for WWW?” He raised an eyebrow at Susan.
“A tester. I’m not sure I’m the kind of tester you would like. I like to get my hands dirty when I test it out.” She teased him, their easy banter coming quickly after last night.
“Oh, a girl that can get her hands dirty? Merlin, help me,” he put his hand on his heart, “I’m in love.”
Justin laughed behind the two of them. “Oh yes, Susan this is going to be a good day for you. You are both going to have your hands full.”
Justin leaned down and kissed the top of Susan’s head. “Now behave and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
George smiled at Justin. “So, Justin, what wouldn’t you do? Just so I know which boundaries to keep up.”
“Purely academic, of course, and quite frankly, not much of anything. I feel you must try everything at least once. I even dated a girl once. I do not recommend that one at all.”
“I guess it is a good thing that I don’t want to date a girl.”
“A very good thing,” George muttered under his breath. “Well, having dated a few, I think I will have to disagree on that one, Justin. Although, this was for Susan, so I will make sure that she doesn’t have time to even look at another girl.”
Justin laughed. “Oh Susan, darling, we must keep this one around. I like him.”
“Go to work, Justin. My shop should already be open!” Susan laughed at her friend.
“I can see why you like him,” George said much calmer. “He has a great sense of humor.”
“He is a fabulous friend. He will stand beside you through thick and thin. I think the only reason he works here is to make sure that I am okay.” Susan said.
“Are you, okay?” George asked gingerly.
She nodded her head. “I’m good. Justin worries about me. Just this morning, though, he was telling me that if I ever started to date again, my boyfriend might not like him being here for breakfast.”
George sat back and took a drink from his tea. “Well if he were an understanding boyfriend, he might realize that Justin was only a friend that was taking care of you.”
“Well, I told him he didn’t have anything to worry about because I didn’t have anyone knocking at my door anyway.” She was completely casual in her talk. Her own obliviousness covered the nervous butterflies in her stomach.
“What did he say to that?” George questioned.
Susan laughed. “It’s quite ironic. That is when you rang the bell.”
George joined her laughter. “Well, I guess it is a sign. Only those that knock would be bad for your friendship with Justin. Keep the ones around that ring the bell.”
Susan glanced at him suddenly, as if a light bulb were going off in her head. “So, if you were my boyfriend, you wouldn’t complain about Justin?”
George got out of his chair and moved closer to where she sat. “Susan, can I ask you a question?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Was Justin there for you when Theodore died?”
Susan felt a stab of pain in her heart. She closed her eyes and nodded. “Yes, he was there for me. If it weren’t for him, I would be dead. I know this.”
George grabbed her hand causing her to look him in the eye. “Then, if I should ever become your boyfriend, I wouldn’t even care if he lived in your flat and slept in your bed. He is a true friend.”
Susan smiled at him. “Okay, I will have to let Justin know that he doesn’t have to worry about breakfast. There is at least one person that would not run him away.”
George stood up. “Exactly. So, I need help. I realized that Christmas is in a week and I haven’t done any shopping.”
Susan looked at him perplexed. “Alright.”
He picked up his plate and took it into the kitchen. “I thought that since you know at least Ron and Hermione and maybe Ginny, that you could help me.”
“You need help picking out presents for your family?” Susan shook her head.
George nodded. “Yes, I want to shock them. The little ones are so much fun to buy for. Ron and Ginny help out in the store, so I know they don’t really want anything from there. My parents, well it’s still a rough time for them. They like to have everyone over so that they can have lots of noise. I try to not remind mum of Fred too much.” He swallowed as if that was difficult.
Susan stood up and walked over to him. She put her hand on his muscled arm. “Of course I will help you. I love shopping for presents and spending someone else’s money.”
George laughed. “Well come on, let’s get into London and spend my money. Are you familiar with London?”
“I think I can get us around without getting lost.” Susan grabbed her coat and slid it on. “Let’s go.”
He followed her down the stairs. She yelled goodbye to Justin who was in his apartment. They stepped out into the cold December air. The snow crunched under their feet as they walked. “Are we walking faster today than we did last night?” George asked.
“Of course we are. We have goals today. Let’s see, we have to go to Harrods’s, right? I am sure we can find a lovely bookshop for Hermione. Ron, you should find him something Muggle, too! He was keeper, so maybe a football. I think I remember seeing Dean playing with one.”
“This is just insane. In just a few short blocks, you have their presents already picked out? I am so impressed. What did I ever do without you?”
She smiled at him. “You gave gifts from your shop.”
He opened the gate from Diagon Alley to Muggle London. He slipped his hand into hers as they walked. They chatted until they got to a corner, then she hailed a cab for them. “A woman with all kinds of talents!”
“You know it.” Susan winked at him. She was having fun with him. She had the car take them to a quaint little area. She found a shop that had odds and ends vintage collectibles.
George walked in and was fascinated by the antique suitcases. “You know what? I bet I could get a charm on this and give it to mum. That way she can travel to see Bill and Fleur and take presents to the kids.”
Susan looked at it. “It is pretty, and unique. I think you should leave it without the charm until after the holiday. Maybe you could surprise your parents with a trip out of town for the weekend and it big enough for their stuff.”
George kissed the top of her head. “I was right in bringing you with me. You are brilliant.”
“I do try.” Susan said and moved into the store. Her heart was lighter than it was yesterday, but it was still heavy.
George watched her walk away. He made a face behind her back. “Dammit, what is it going to take to get through to her?”
“George, come here and look at this. Your dad loves strange things, right?” Susan was glowing as she looked back at the redhead.
“Yes, please don’t tell me it is spark plugs.” George walked to where she was.
She shook her head. “No, better. It is a collection of rubber ducks!”
George laughed. “How on earth do you know my father so well?”
Susan smiled. “What can I say? It is my job to find the perfect arrangement for everyone.”
George wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into a hug. “Thank you. I am going to have to keep you around. I’m so hopeless.”
They walked out of the store. George shrunk their purchases and they began to meander through the streets, laughing and talking. They soon found all of the presents for his family. Susan picked up a few for Justin and Hannah and a few other friends.
It snowed on and off through the day, just enough to make it magical. They stopped at a pub in London to eat. Susan smiled more than she had in years during those few short hours. “I guess we should go back,” she said unhappily.
George threaded his fingers through hers. “We could go back to my place and wrap the presents. I know you don’t think I can actually do that on my own.”
“You are such a baby! Who did you con into wrapping them other times? It was Hannah, wasn’t it?”
He put a hand over his heart. “You found me out. Not only do I use her for food, but for her mad wrapping skills.”
They slipped through the Leaky Cauldron, not stopping to say hi to Hannah who walked out from the back as they walked out the other side. They both missed the smile on her face as she went back to the kitchen to fire call Justin.
George pulled her into the shop only to be stopped at the door. “George! You are back early. Do you mind if I leave a bit early?”
George looked as if he was planning mutilation of Ron’s body within minutes. “No, I will be upstairs. You go on and take care of the customers. If you need to leave early after you are done, go on. Just lock the door behind you.”
“George?” Ron looked at him and then glanced behind him. “Susan! How are you doing? I haven’t seen you in about a month or two. How is the shop?”
“The shop is great, Ron. I should be getting in a shipment of those flowers that Hermione loved so much the last time.”
“Oh I will have to stop in. Um…why don’t you two go on upstairs? I have it under control down here.”
George laughed. “I thought you might. Come on Susan, let’s wrap his first. Best to torture him that way!”
“Wrap my what?”
“Oh, you have to wait, Ron. George, don’t forget you need to pick up some extra supplies for his present.” Susan winked at him.
“Right, how could I forget?” George walked over to a display and picked up a few of the items on the table.
Susan walked behind him and turned the corner. She stopped suddenly when she saw the glow in the dark paint. Her smile froze on her lips.
George slipped up behind her. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
She shook her head. “Nothing.”
George tilted her head up with his fingers. “Talk to me, Susan.”
“It was the paint we were experimenting with.” She spoke softly and George knew immediately what she was talking about.
“Well then, that was a happy memory, not something to be sad over.” George grabbed a box of all the colors. “Come on, let’s take these upstairs too.”
Susan followed behind him, leaving Ron gaping below. “Close your mouth, Ron, flies may land in.”
Ron was quick about spreading the word to Hermione. Not only was George out and about, but he was smiling. It was something they had all missed.
George opened the door to his flat and allowed Susan to enter first. “Let’s go and spread out by the fireplace.”
Susan looked around the flat. It was not very tidy. It wasn’t messy, but there were plans and possibly a few experiments lying around the room. “Is it safe? What is going to attack me?”
“I promise you will be perfectly fine. Just don’t touch anything that moves.” He winked at her and walked over to the tree.
“I feel really secure now.” Susan crossed to his sofa and sat down. “So, where is the wrapping paper?”
George pulled the parcels out of his pockets. It was the best thing about magic, being able to shop with your hands empty. “Hold on, let me resize them.”
“Next time you should keep one of the bags regular sized and just put them all into the bag.” She kicked off her boots and slid her feet up on the sofa beside her.
He rolled his eyes at her. “Alright, Miss Smarty-Pants, get your arse down here and help.”
She gasped in mock horror. “Is this how you treat the person that just saved you days worth of shopping?”
“You are right. Susan, come help me now please and I will give you a chocolate.”