"Gabrielle, is something wrong?"
"I need your help," I tell him, rounding the counter and taking his wrist. I tug at him and pull him toward the back. He stammers, then tells his clerk he'll return in a moment before I push the stock room open. I release him and turn toward him quickly, my teeth gnawing on my lower lip.
"All right? You look flushed."
"I need your opinion," I admit, wringing my hands. I didn't know who else to run too, after school ended. Fleur was my first instinct but I didn't want to hear any kind of "I told you so" lecture. I needed a man's advice and who better to get that opinion than from Fred's twin brother?
George looks hesitant, his hands resting loosely on his hips. "Well, I suppose I can help you out...er...I wouldn't say that skirt makes your bum look big, it's actually quite nicely rounded--"
"George!" I interrupt quickly, lifting my palm before he could go any further. "That's not what I meant."
He grins quickly, relieved. "Oh? Brilliant then, follow me, love." He ushers me into a chair near the desk before sitting across from me. "What's going on?"
"I...want to do something really nice for Fred."
Both eyebrows lift then, and his fingers press together as he leans back in the chair. I can't help but smile a bit. He is Fred right down to...well, right before the curve of his...manhood. Fred's hair is only slightly longer but the physique is the same, the smile, the twinkle in his blue eyes. What was best is that George seemed to have the same, warm nature as Fred, even if he was a bit more introverted.
"You want to do something nice..." he repeats slowly. "I..ah..I don't know if I'm the right person to get ideas from."
"You know Fred better than anyone," I remind him. "Better than me. I need to do something for him to show him how much I love him."
George shifts uncomfortably in his chair. "Er, well, he might a corset...feather...thing..." He blushes when I lift an eyebrow and then he stands quickly. "Right, yeah maybe I'll go get Cho for you."
"No!" I reach up and grab his hand. "A boy...at school tried to...well, he..." I pause, my tongue tied around the feelings of guilt that wash over me. I release George's hand and grip the arms of the chair I am sitting him, shooting him a pained look. George seems to catch on and he steps back a moment, studying me closely.
"Did you kiss a guy at school?"
"Me? No!" Eyes wide I jump out of the chair and shake my head. "Goddess, no. Never. I love Fred. He walked me out to the gate today, after school. Usually Fred comes for me, but he had inventory run late at Zonko's. William took my hand, kissed it. He asked me to go with him to Hogsmeade this weekend..." George remains quiet and I take it as a sign to continue. "I said....Goddess, I said I'd think about it."
George looks surprised. "Why the hell would you say that?"
"I don't know," I wail, burying my face in my hands and sucking in a breath. "I didn't want to say that. I don't like him, not like that. I was flustered, caught off guard. All I wanted was to get away and I felt the only way he would let me go is to say maybe. He kissed me on the cheek and I ran...I came here instead of Zonko's. I just...after the fight we had about Katie, I felt like such a hypocrite." Tears well in my eyes but to my relief they don't spill over.
"Well, bloody hell, I think this bloke needs to...wait, Katie? Katie Bell?"
I nod, still miserable over the knowledge that I could have lost Fred. "She...they became friends, while I was busy at Hogwarts. While I was studying with William. She wanted Fred, took off her clothes and..."
"Tried to shag him?" George asks. "She had a crush on Fred since first year but he and Angelina...well, that's not important," he adds when my eyes narrow. "He didn't tell me about Katie."
I turn away, running my fingers over the desk. "It's nothing to worry about now, he's not friends with her anymore. My problem is, I was so angry with him for not seeing how much she wanted him but I'm guilty of the same thing. I didn't see William's intentions. I don't know what to do."
George crosses his arms over his chest as I turn back toward him. "So you want to do something nice for Fred because you feel guilty?"
It sounds so immature but it's true. I sit on the edge of the desk and sigh. "I guess, yes."
"Gabrielle," George begins slowly. "I think the best thing you can do is be up front, tell William you're not interested, and if he doesn't stop pursuing you, put an end to the friendship. If Fred did that for you with Katie..."
"I know." I chew on my lower lip. "I never had to reject a man before."
"Just be gentle, we blokes have fragile egos when it comes to beautiful girls like yourself."
I blush and smile. "Thanks, George. You don't think Fred is going to be angry with me?"
"As long as you're honest, he'd be a wanker if he were."
I nod, feeling much better. I would talk to William and tell him we can only be friends...and then I would tell Fred. It was better to be up front about this, even if Fred said 'I told you so' I suppose I would have to accept it. I was as blind to William as Fred was to Katie, and I wasn't about to mess up and lose him.
I push away from the desk and hug George quickly. He pats my back awkwardly and I laugh and look up at him. "Don't be so shy. I saw you naked, remember? I touched your penis?"
"Oh, was that you? I had forgotten," he jokes, blushing deeply.
Pulling away, I wave quickly. "Thanks for the advice."
I reach the door and look back at him curiously. "A corset, hmm?"
"Er, feathers, yeah...he'd like feathers."
I grin quickly and slip from the room, waving at the clerk before I head home to Fred.