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. Written for my kaitydid33087
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 3 - 5383
Can the Order post to Tumblr?: Yes
“You are right. Susan, come help me now please and I will give you a chocolate.”
Susan laughed. “As if I would trust any food item from here. What are you trying to do?”
He finished pulling the packages out and resized them all. Then he went to the table and brought over a piece of chocolate. “See, it looks innocent enough.”
The smell of the chocolate was so tempting. “So what does it do?” She took it from him and looked it over carefully.
“Oh you are a wise woman, you look it over first. I can tell you have done research on the products now.” George’s grin was huge. “Just try it. I promise it won’t make you sick, make your tongue grow, or do any other horrible things to your body. This one is special.”
“I’m not going to be spouting poetry in a minute am I?” Susan asked.
George shook his head. “No, not even a love potion built into it.”
Susan took a small bit of it and the gooey center of a chocolate covered cherry filled her mouth. “Mmm, oh my goodness, this is heavenly.” She put the rest of it in her mouth, closing her eyes as she savored the taste of it. “Is it safe to open my eyes? What did you do and I think it might be worth it.”
George leaned in and kissed her softly. “You are adorable. Do you know that?”
She opened an eye and looked at him. “So you manufactured chocolate to make a person kissable?”
George laughed and pulled her into a hug. “Where have you been hiding?”
She looked up at him. “I haven’t been hiding; I have been in plain sight.” She moved out of his arms and sat down on the floor. She accio’d the tape and pulled the scissors close to her. “Are you going to help or are you just going to stand there?” She took the first present and began to wrap it.
George standing behind her ran his hands through his hair as if he were ready to pull it out. “Yeah, let’s shrink my mum’s and put it into a really small box. I know a spell to make it enlarge when she opens it.”
Susan nodded and continued to wrap Hermione’s new scarf and gloves. She put the finishing touches on the present and slid it over.
Together, they worked on the presents. When Ron snuck up the stairs all he heard was laughter coming from inside the flat. He slipped out the door and ran to the Leaky Cauldron. The smile on his face could light any room. “I think this is a good thing,” he said when he got to the table where his friends were gathered. He had started the chain to get everyone in. “George came into the shop and was happy and alive.”
Hannah looked at in concerned. “What about Susan? How was she doing?”
“I would not have believed it, if I had not seen it. The two of them were glowing and laughing and joking.”
“Oh thank, God. She may actually realize that some guy likes her,” Justin said with a sigh. “Do you have anything stronger to drink? After the day I have had, I need it. I had to deal with Mrs. Peabody to get her out of the store!”
Hermione sat back and listened. “Do either of them know that you are doing this?” She looked between Ron, Hannah, and Justin.
“It makes perfect sense, Hermione.” Hannah replied. “Both of them stay by themselves whenever they can. Both of them avoid holidays and parties. I mean George is much more outgoing, but haven’t you watched him. At a certain point, Fred is mentioned and he stares off into the distance.”
“It isn’t easy for him, Hannah. It isn’t easy for any of us,” Ron said quietly.
“That’s the point, isn’t it? You have kept living your life. You and Hermione are now married and having a baby. This is wonderful. Ginny is off playing Quidditch. Everyone else is moving on. They remember, but they are moving on.”
Hermione nodded. “The reasoning is sound, but trying to force the two of them together, are they going to be happy about that?”
Justin took a drink from the fire whiskey Hannah had a server bring him. “They don’t know they were being forced together. If I’m not mistaken, Hannah just did a little bit of work. She wanted to see Susan and had her come for dinner last night. George came in. He didn’t have to walk her home last night. He didn’t have to kiss her in the middle of the shop last night.”
Hannah’s eyes grew wide. “He kissed her? Oh my goodness, really? And she let him?”
“Hannah, darling, I’m still not too happy with what you did last night. She was too emotional to see it last night. I did see her glow for a minute until the door shut behind him. That is when she crumpled.”
“It has been five years!”
Hermione watched Hannah’s reaction. “Five years of mourning the person you planned on spending the rest of your life with? I can understand her reactions. I don’t know that I wouldn’t go to the extremes. Susan and I talked about it. We really talked about it. I bet you didn’t even know that she had been pregnant when he died.”
Hannah’s face turned white. “What?”
Hermione nodded. “She had just found out. They had their plans and were getting ready to leave the castle when the battle was beginning. He was protecting his family when he died.”
Hannah had tears falling down her face. “She never told me.”
Justin just as pale as his friend said, “You would not have listened. How many times did she try to talk to you before she just stopped? She didn’t even tell me the last part. I knew all about the rest.”
Hermione slid her hand over onto Justin’s and squeezed it. “I am only telling you because I want you all to remember that she has had some huge losses because of the war. This isn’t just a game to find someone she can date. When he fell on top of her, it started the miscarriage.” Hermione stopped talking for a moment, trying to gather her courage. She never finished her thought because the door opened and in strolled George and Susan.
They walked back to their normal table. “Hi, everyone,” she said as she slid into the booth next to Justin. She kissed his cheek. “How was the day at the shop? How was Mrs. Peabody?”
Justin blinked quickly creating the dramatic. “Oh, hello, Justin. How have you been? You have been such a naughty boy. I ask Susan over and over again to make sure you come to work more frequently.” He shivered. “Then she pinched my cheeks – and you know which ones I’m talking about.”
Everyone laughed to diffuse the tension. Justin had been complaining about her for years. “You know, even if I should be the slightest bit straight; that woman would have made sure I never looked at another female again.”
“Oh, Justin. I’m so sorry. Tomorrow I will stay in the shop all day long and help you.” Susan laughed with everyone else.
George looked around perplexed at their friends. He could see there had been tension when they walked up. They were hiding something. He was not sure what it could be, but he would find out. “I guess I can stay at work tomorrow, too. Ron may have given out the wrong chocolates.”
Susan looked over at him. “Have you told them about the chocolates you are working on, or is it a secret?”
The girls all faced him at the thought of chocolate. “Please don’t tell me it tastes disgusting.”
“It’s still in the beginning stages. I can’t really talk about it too much. Susan, if you are going to be my secret partner, you are going to have to withhold information.” George smiled at her softly.
She sighed. “I’m sorry. It was just so divine; I could have sworn they were ready.”
“Not just yet. Maybe on Valentine’s Day. You know we might want to make sure that we test them quite a bit between now and then.” He slid his arm around her and whispered into her ear. “Keep telling them how divine they are and they won’t know what hit them by Valentine’s Day. They will try it with no fear.”
She giggled as he whispered. “I don’t know that I want to wait that long.”
“Alright you two. I hate to say this, but am I going to have to separate you?” Hermione said with a laugh. “You are going to encourage him, aren’t you, Susan.”
Susan nodded her head. “I am. You do not know how absolutely delicious it is. I don’t know who else likes chocolate covered…”
George put his hand over her mouth. “No, no more secrets! We will have to let them try it later.”
Hermione glanced between the two. “So, what is the reaction so far?”
George looked over at Hermione and winked at her. “It makes a person utterly kissable.”
“Wow! That is awesome, George. Where do you come up with these ideas?” Hannah rattled on.
George watched Hermione’s face for the moment when she realized what he said. “Really?”
The table turned and looked at the brunette that had just walked up. “Pansy, hi! How have you been?”
Pansy smiled at Susan. “So, you slip out of the dungeons and go slumming, Bones?”
“You could say that, Parkinson,” Ron said anger building within him.
Susan looked at him. “Oh hush, Ron. She means nothing by it. Do you want to join us?”
Pansy shook her head. “I was passing through and I saw you. I haven’t heard back from you about our annual Christmas Party. I do hope you are coming and bringing someone this year.” Pansy kept her eyes on Susan.
Susan closed her eyes and nodded. “Of course, I’m coming. I wouldn’t miss it. I just hadn’t sent out my response yet. I’m sorry.”
“Now you must make sure that you bring someone this year. Blaise has already set his sights on seducing you this year.”
Susan’s face filled with horror. “No! He can’t, that would just be wrong.”
Justin touched her arm. “I will go and fight off lover boy for you. The things I do for you sweetheart.”
“Thank you, Justin.” Susan smiled at her best friend. She missed the look between Hermione and Pansy.
“Oh yes, I forgot, Justin you got your own invitation this year. I hope the owl didn’t get lost.”
Justin looked up at her with a question of his face. “Oh Pansy, that’s wonderful.” Susan was smiling at her.
“Apparently you have finally wormed your way into the hearts of a few of the lads,” she said quickly. She turned back to Susan. “That means you will have to bring a date, darling. Justin is coming on his own merits this year.”
Susan face crumbled. “A date?”
“I will protect you from the evil clutches of Zabini if you want, Susan.” George said quietly.
Her face lit up. “Yes, that is perfect. You would get along so well at the party! Why didn’t I think of that?”
Pansy watched the interaction with interest. “Well, we will see you three tomorrow night at the Manor. Ta ta for now.”
“Bye, Pansy. I will see you tomorrow night. All three of us will.” Susan smiled at her friend as she walked off.
“Excuse me for a minute,” Hermione said. “I have to go and check on the status of a book that I have ordered.” She got up and rushed after Pansy.
Susan leaned her head on George’s shoulder as everyone began to talk around them. She felt her eyes begin to close. She was not sure at what part she drifted off. It had been a full day and now it was moving on into the night.
The next thing she was aware of was George lifting her from the table to carry her. “George.”
“Shh, its okay, Susan. Me and Justin have this.” He held her tightly. She felt him turn his body.
“Does she normally fall so sound asleep?”
“Only when she doesn’t sleep. I know last night was bad,” he whispered. “Can you apparate directly in?”
“I’m sure I have it. I will concentrate on the sofa.” She loved hearing the rumble of his voice under her ears. It felt so pleasant, like there was nothing wrong in the world. She turned into his body more and wrapped her arms around his neck.
Then she felt the sensation of being sucked through a portal. She hated apparating, but since she wasn’t the one doing it, she could forgive him.
“Where is her room? That door?”
“Yeah, let me turn on the light for you. Thank you, George.”
She hated the moment he laid her into the bed. She moaned softly at the loss of contact. Then she felt his hand on her head, combing his fingers through her hair. She felt a soft kiss on her forehead.
“Where has she been all this time? I swear, I never even noticed her before yesterday. Now I can’t think of why I didn’t see her before.”
“She is good like that. She melts into the background. That is what she and Theo did all the time. You would be surprised by what the two of them managed. She was almost an outcast from our so-called friends because of him. Then they managed to turn around and wage a war against the Carrows. They led the revolution in Slytherin. There were fewer marked than the rest of us knew. Susan was slipping them out whenever she could, especially during the final battle. She managed to separate the kids that were Death Eaters and the others. The others she led to another room in the castle. She told them to wait there until someone let them out. That was me. None of that mattered. She was in the middle of the battle surrounded by death eaters.”
“That sounds bad. I know that was when Fred…”
“Yeah, I know. It’s okay.”
“She is so strong and determined. She is sly and cunning. She works hard to accomplish what needs to be done. She was finally getting ready to leave the castle when he was pulled away. She ran after him and well, that was it.”
“Shh, Susie Q, go to sleep.”
“It’s okay baby. It’s okay. George is here. He is going to take care of you.”
She smiled softly. “George. M’kay.”
George leaned down and kissed her again softly. “I’m not going anywhere now.”
She sighed as she fell into a deep sleep again.
Susan stumbled into the kitchen the next morning to find both George and Justin sitting at the table.
“Oh Merlin, please tell me I really didn’t fall asleep at the Leaky Cauldron.”
Justin smiled at her. “I would happily tell you that, but you know I hate lying on an empty stomach.”
Susan grabbed a cup and fixed her tea. “So, George, you are here early.”
The two men laughed. “No, please tell me I …”
George stood up and walked over to her. He hugged her. “Don’t worry about what you did or didn’t do. Later this week we need to go shopping for you a new couch. It is not very comfortable.”
Susan felt horror. “You stayed. Oh my goodness. When I ramble, you don’t have to listen.” She buried her head in his chest.
“I promised I would stay, so I did. Justin even took care of me. He gave me one of your pillows and plenty of blankets. He even tried to kiss me goodnight.”
Justin bit back a laugh.
“Justin! How could you? You have to be nice to George!” Susan moved out of George’s arms and leaned against the wall.
George took his seat at the table again. “He’s joking, sweetie. I promise I was a perfect gentleman. Besides, I think he would much rather have a lovely lady for some strange reason.”
Susan held in a sigh. “Well, it’s going to be a long day. We need to get ready to open up and then close early. I am going to have to get a new dress.”
“Don’t worry about the dress. I will have one for you.” Justin grabbed his plate and took it to the kitchen.
“Thank you. Don’t forget your present. Pansy may like some flowers, exotic ones.”
“Yes, mother. I shall take care of it. Stop worrying so much.” He walked over and kissed her on top of the head. “I’m going to go on and open up so that we can get the worst of it over.”
George stood up as if to follow him but crossed to where Susan was standing. “Hey, sleepy head.”
She smacked his chest. “Morning. I guess I should say thank you.”
He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her. “I’m happy to help.” He kissed the top of her head, just as Justin did. “I should get to the shop, though. I need to get as much done as possible before tonight.”
Susan smiled up at him. “I will see you tonight then. About seven downstairs?”
“You mentioned a present to Justin; do I need to bring something?”
“Oh no, George. I have it taken care of. I mean, I know they would love anything from the shop, but they wouldn’t expect it from you.” Susan tried to reassure him quickly.
He chucked her under the chin. “If you say so. Maybe I will fix up a box of some of my classics with a few new ones tucked in.”
Susan smiled. “Sounds perfect.”
George kissed her head one last time before he turned to run out the door. “I’ll see you tonight, Susan.”
Susan found herself humming her way through the day. They closed the shop at noon so Justin could take her out to try on a dress he had found. It was a lovely green satin that hugged her curves. “You are beautiful darling.”
Susan studied herself in the mirror. “I don’t know. You don’t think it is too revealing?”
Justin closed his eyes and counted to ten. “Sweetheart, you need to be a bit more revealing. One of these days you are going to wake up and realize that you are ready to live and that you have a wonderful person waiting for you to notice him.”
“I know, Justin. I know. I’m through saying I need time. I do need time, but I’m through saying it.”
They made it back to the flat and managed to get ready just in time for the bell to ring. Justin rang George in. When George arrived in the flat, he exchanged pleasantries with Justin until Susan walked out of her room.
“What is it?” Susan asked, smoothing out her dress.
“You are simply beautiful. I’m going to have my hands full keeping Zabini off of you, aren’t I?”
George walked over to her and held out his arm for her to take.
Susan rolled her eyes. “You shouldn’t have an issue. You are supposed to be my date, right?”
George grinned. “Yes, I am your date, aren’t I?” His chest seemed to puff out.
“Well, kiddies, I hate to interrupt, but it is time for us to be running along. The ceremony starts promptly at seven. You know that.”
“Ceremony?” George looked over at Justin.
“Yes, a simple ceremony they started after the war. It is their way of remembering the fallen,” Justin filled George in.
George swallowed the lump in his throat. “Right, that is a good thing to do.”
The three grabbed hold of the portkey to Malfoy Manor. They landed just outside of the gates. Susan greeted the gate keeper and led the others forward.
George looked around the sprawling manor he had been told about. He was beginning to breathe a bit heavier. Susan was walking slightly ahead of him and never saw his discomfort. Justin turned to glance at him.
“Are you going to be okay?” he asked quietly.
“I have to be. This is for Susan.” George said, not taking his eyes off of the woman leading them into the manor.
“It is actually pretty helpful. You may find that you are thankful you came.”
George nodded as they stepped closer to Susan. “Hello, Draco,” she said pleasantly. Susan was met with a hug from the Slytherin.
“I’m so glad you were able to make it this year, Susan. It’s going to be a special night.” He kissed her hand before greeting Justin and George. His manners were impeccable.
“Susan if you do not mind showing the others to the ballroom. That is where we will begin.”
“Sure thing, Draco.” Susan smiled at the many faces they had gone to school with. She was hugged by so many different Slytherins.
George was quiet during all of the interchanges. He knew he would be tested tonight. He could see it in all of their faces. Susan was someone special to them. Susan was being watched over by more than she even knew. He picked up her hand and kissed it softly. “You are stunning tonight. The men can’t keep their eyes off of you.”
“Susan, darling. You look absolutely edible tonight.” Susan was pulled from George’s grasp and locked into a hug.
“Oh Blaise, the things you say. I’m not edible.” Susan tried to push herself away from his body.
Blaise rolled his eyes. “Yes, you are. I shall prove it.”
He began to kiss her neck allowing his hands to trail down her body.
“Blaise, stop it.” Susan began to push him away.
Blaise lifted his head. “One of these days you are going to give in to me.”
George chose that moment to walk over. He slid his arm possessively around Susan’s shoulder. “Zabini, good to see you again.”
Blaise stared down his nose at the newcomer. “Weasley. Yes, a pleasure. So these rumors are true, Susan. You are betraying us with the dorks?”
Susan’s face contorted with rage. “Yes, Blaise, I am cheating most specifically on you with people that have been my friends for years.”
“Blaise, control yourself at my house.” Draco entered the drawing room where they were. He walked over to Susan and kissed her on the cheek. “Susan can fraternize with whomever she chooses. One of these days you may very well see her marry one of those Gryffindors. That is unless I can convince her to become the next Mrs. Malfoy.”
Susan laughed. “Sorry, Draco. I would never manage to follow your mother’s footsteps.” She grinned at him.
He kissed her hand. “I guess this means I need to keep looking.” Draco held out his arm for Susan to walk with him into the other room. “It’s time.”
George and Justin stayed back, just watching. Justin had been in the midst of all the snakes before, but it was always an experience. George had only ever been able to watch from the outside. “When in Rome,” he said with a wink to Justin and held out his arm.
Justin laughed and took his arm, leaving Blaise to follow them into the other room. “I do believe I am going to enjoy this evening’s festivities.”
Blaise shook his head as he followed the others into the room. The lights were dimmed to just the twinkling of fairy lights. There were many couples and groups spaced throughout the room. George noticed that it seemed to mostly be people from their age group.
“Thank you everyone for coming to our annual Yule party. Before we begin our festivities, we must take a moment to remember those not with us.” Draco stood in the center of the room, all eyes were on him.
“Vincent Crabbe.” He raised his glass in salute to his friend.
Pansy stepped up beside him. She squeezed his hand. “Colin Creevey.” She lifted her glass and took a drink.
George glanced at Justin. He realized that the other man was prepared for this. George felt himself trembling.
Susan stepped up beside Pansy. She smiled at her friend. “Theodore Nott.” The candlelight caught the gleam of the tear rolling down her face.
George made the decision quickly. He watched her face and made a decision. He stood next to her. “Fred Weasley.”
Susan slipped her hand into his as he took the drink. He squeezed her hand back.
Justin followed George. Around the room names were called out, death eaters and non death eaters alike. As the last person stepped forward, Draco waved his wand. All of the names that were said were suspended in mid-air, floating where all could see them. Above the names was a picture of each person that died.
George held tightly to Susan’s hand as Fred’s picture danced merrily through the others. She turned and wrapped her arms around him and buried her head in his chest. He wrapped his arms around her and kept his eyes on the other figure right before them. The face of her lover watched him. He was not sure what possessed him, but he nodded to the image. He thought he saw a vague smile cross over the face of his rival.
George held her close and kissed the top of her head. “Come on, let’s go dance.” His voice was filled with emotion from the ceremony, to seeing the images interacting with others, to watching Susan’s face as she looked at Theodore’s face.
Susan let him lead her onto the dance floor. He wrapped his arms around her tightly as they began to move to the music.
Justin stood to the side and watched them. Pansy walked up beside him. “So is what Granger said true? Is she coming out of it finally?”
“Just look at her; before she would not be out there with anyone but me. Watch her. She is still completely oblivious. I know George has had it rough, but I can see that he wants to know her better.”
“She is oblivious. I can see the fire in her beginning.”
Justin nodded as George spun Susan around. “It is doing her good. She has actually gotten some sleep in the last couple of days. She isn’t just sitting at home anymore.”
“She brought him here. She knows that each image holds a bit of the person. She held his hand and hugged him.”
Justin nodded. “I don’t think he will be afraid of her past. I think that he could be the one to break the spell.”
“I think that one could have fit into Slytherin, so I don’t think we will actually lose her.”
Justin smiled. “Don’t think you can lose her. Once you are a part of her life, you are stuck.”
Pansy brushed past him. “Thank Salazar for that one.”
Justin slipped into the crowd and began to talk to the Slytherins that he had gotten to know after five years of escorting Susan to the ball.
Susan twirled in George’s arms, smiling up at him. She laughed as he told her jokes. He waltzed her over to the punch bowl to get them a drink. He had just picked up the cup when something exploded in the corner.
George and Susan looked over to where Blaise had been standing. A red stain was covering his white shirt.
“I did nothing, Zabini.”
“Not you, your brother.” Blaise wiped his hands on his pants on began to stalk out of the room. “Next year make sure he comes with a few more manners.”
George laughed. “Give him hell, Fred.” He turned to face Zabini. “I’m sure he will behave himself better next year if you are not pawing my girlfriend.”
Susan stared up at George while she laughed. “George.”
He shook his head at her. He knew better than to rush her at this point. “I guess this means you have a date next year, too.”
Susan turned around and looked at the picture of Fred. He seemed to be laughing. Next to him floated the image of Theo. She watched them. She knew parts of their personality came into the pictures, but she had never seen any of them pull any pranks. Granted, Fred Weasley had never been a part of it before. Her eyes watched the man she loved. She walked over to the image and almost raised her hand to touch it. To touch one, would make it disappear. “I love you, Theo,” she whispered. He smiled sadly at her. She felt two arms come around her. She saw his sad smile before he nodded to the man behind her. Susan leaned back into the chest behind her and felt the tears ready to fall from her eyes.
“I’m ready to go, George,” she said quietly.
He didn’t say a word, but just took her arm. He led her to the foyer where they could leave by floo. Draco and Pansy walked them out. Susan stepped into the fireplace as soon as she said goodbye.
“Weasley, wait.” Draco stopped him. The blond held onto his arm. “Take care of her. If she gets hurt, you will regret ever meeting her.”
“I plan on it. It was a lovely evening. Thank you for having me.” George nodded to Draco.
“Just make sure you plan on attending next year. She may date a Gryffindor, but that does not mean that she will not be welcomed here. She is a part of our family.”
“I realize that. I will don Slytherin clothes just for the purpose of making sure she does not lose anyone.”
He stepped into the floo and followed her into her flat. He followed the light shining from her room. “Susan.”
She stepped out of the bathroom. Her eyes were red. “Thank you for going with me tonight. It meant a lot to me.”
“Thank you for taking me. I think I have garnered an invite of my own for next year.”
Susan smiled. “I guess you won’t need me then.”
“I don’t know why you think that. I think I just might need you.” George pulled her to him. He wrapped his arms around her. “You are definitely a special person, Susan. I would want you there with me.”
She smiled as she hugged him. “You made tonight so much easier. Sometimes it is hard seeing them, but I know I would hate it if I couldn’t make it.”