At First Sight
“You know this is bloody pathetic, right mate?” Why did he invite Fred? Fred who already had a girlfriend and couldn’t possibly understand the fact that he thought he may have found the one, just hadn’t plucked up the courage to introduce himself yet. This was not normal George Weasley behavior. George Weasley was witty and charming and hilarious. George Weasley didn’t get tongue tied when he talked to women. George Weasley’s palms didn’t get all sweaty and his throat didn’t get all dry and he didn’t start stammering like Professor Quirrell. And George Weasley most certainly didn’t sit at the bar at the Three Broomsticks with a firewhiskey in hand, watching a girl he’d never spoken to carry on and have a good time. However, for the last three Friday nights that is exactly where he found himself. “It’s not normal mate… it’s almost… stalking.”
George was all but ignoring Fred at this point. He wasn’t stalking her. Three Thursdays ago he hadn’t even known this girl existed. He was out with Lee and Fred, just having some fun, unwinding from a particularly long day at the shop, when he heard something. In all the commotion he hadn’t been able to decipher it at first, but as the night went on he came to realize it was a laugh. And the most beautiful one he’d ever heard at that. The sort of laugh that makes you want to tell joke after joke, just so you can keep hearing it. Any girl with that laugh is one he wanted to meet. Then he matched the laugh to a face and his heart almost stopped for a moment. She had long, flowing blonde hair that fell in waves down well past her shoulders, clear blue eyes that reminded him of the sun reflecting on water, a smile that could light up room, and freckles splayed in the perfect amount across her face.
After first laying eyes on her, he had had trouble the remainder of the night focusing on anything else and when Fred noticed this he of course relentlessly teased George about it. Telling him to man up and go talk to the girl. But to George that was easier said than done. His throat went dry and his mind went numb every time he considered going over and striking up a conversation. Besides two out of the three times he’d seen her, she’d been laughing and carrying on with some other bloke, even though it didn’t look like they were attached, it was excuse enough for George not to risk making a fool of himself. But out of curiosity he returned the following Friday around the same time, and sure enough, whether it was dumb luck or something else, there she was. This was the third Friday in a row and he still hadn’t gathered enough bloody courage to utter a single word to her. Fred kept insisting that he should keep drinking, get some liquid courage, but the last thing George wanted was to be sloshed on his first impression to this girl.
“…yes, two please. Thanks Rosmerta.” It was, in fact, that very woman’s voice that pulled him from whatever thoughts he had fallen into. She was standing not two bar stools over from him, leaning over the counter as she waited for whatever drinks she had just ordered. George caught Fred’s eye, who was twitching his head quite obviously in the blonde girl’s direction. His eyes flickered back to her, and his mouth opened as if he were going to say something. She must have felt his eyes on her though, because her head turned to look at him and his eyes locked on hers for a moment.
“Hullo…” She said, almost nervously, before she scooped up the two shot glasses and hurried away, George just barely noticing a blush on her cheeks in the dim lighting. It took him a moment to figure out what had just happened. Then he realized what he must have looked like, staring at her with a dumb expression, gaping like a fish out of water. Being sloshed probably would’ve been an improvement.
“I’m an idiot…” George mumbled and took a swig of firewhiskey. Fred clapped him on the shoulder.
“At least we’re both on the same page, mate.”
“Oi, Iz, what’s with the bloke?” Isabel’s friend Frank asked, nodding to the odd ginger at the bar, as she set their drinks on the table. He must have only noticed her blush then because he stood abruptly to his feet. “Wha’d the git say to you?!”
“Oh, sit down you big brute.” She muttered and took her own seat, he followed suit. Talking about stature alone, big brute was a pretty good description of Frank. He was six-foot four as compared to her five-foot six and was built like a heavyweight wrestler. But for the most part, he was like an oversized teddy bear-- albeit a bit overprotective-- and had been Isabel’s best friend since they were only children, even before they went to Hogwarts together. Now that they were both graduated, Isabel working as a healer at St. Mungos and Frank working for the Ministry, they had designated Friday nights as their time together. Their other friend Sarah usually came out with them too, but she had been called away for an interview last minute.
“Do I have something on my face or something? He was just... staring at me...” She was positive there must be something and instinctively wiped her face with her hand. After not finding anything on her face she looked down, thinking maybe her outfit was in some way appalling. The strange man had clearly been looking at her before she noticed and after she had he stared awkwardly until she rushed away. Maybe she smelled…
“Oi, you look fine Izzy.” He patted her head with one of his large mitts of a hand, then downed his shot in a single gulp. Frank had noticed the ginger watching her. He looked like some pansy trying build the courage to ask her out. But Isabel was oblivious to those sorts of things, almost a bit naive in a way and he wasn’t going to be the one to inform her. “So, what say we get completely smashed tonight? In celebration. You only turn 20 once in your life you know.” Frank gave a booming chuckle and a lopsided grin.
“You’re an awful influence. You know that Franky?” Isabel laughed in return.
“It’s the only reason you keep me around.” He said, nudging her own shot glass toward her. With a slightly mischievous glint in her eye, she picked up the small glass and downed hers as well.
The more fun it appeared the girl was having, the more George assumed his chances were tanking, and the worse his mood became. He decided he rather disliked that large troll of a man who seemed to be able to make her laugh at every turn. The other two times there had been another girl who seemed about the same age as the other two, but this time it was only the two and George wasn’t liking it a bit, feeling a pang of jealousy every time he made her laugh. Fred, who had gotten tired of watching George brood, left to go meet his girlfriend Angelina somewhere. So now it was just George and his barely touched firewhiskey.
He was actually getting sick of himself at this point. The worst thing she could do was say no right? George looked at his drink, considering finishing it off but deciding against it, and set the glass back on the bar, then stood from his stool. Of course right at that moment the door swung open, the door bell chiming as it clanged against the door. He wouldn’t have paid much attention to it normally, but the person who entered came right into his path to his blonde mystery girl, blocking his line of vision and interrupting his plans.
“Iz!” Isabel turned around, hearing a familiar voice call her name. Sarah was grinning and practically glowing, navigating around tables toward her. “Iz, I got the job! I’ll start as the new Transfiguration professor this fall at Hogwarts!” Isabel grinned at her friend and hugged her in a congratulatory fashion.
“That’s great!” She laughed and pushed a glass into Sarah’s hand. “And cause for celebration!”
“Looks like you two already started that without me. Happy birthday by the way.” Sarah laughed. Frank’s booming laugh was heard next when he clapped his large palm on Sarah’s shoulder, nearing toppling the petite girl.
“Yeah, congrats Freckles. Now drink up.” He clinked his glass on Sarah’s, sloshing some of the amber liquid over his fingers. Sarah laughed good-naturedly and shook her head.
“And if I get drunk off my rocker, who’s gonna apparate the two of you home?”
“Oi! I am not drunk, just a bit squiffy is all.” Isabel protested with a giggle. “Franky’s the drunk one, he drank half of my drinks and has ordered twice as many.”
“‘Ave not!” He argued, but Isabel chuckled and pushed his shoulder with her forefinger to prove her point. Frank stumbled back a step or two before righting himself, then gave a toothy smile before finishing the drink in his hand.
“Yup. ‘Snuff for you.” Sarah took the empty glass from his hand and set it on the table.
“Yes, mum.” Frank said, giving her a look. Sarah rolled her eyes.
“Anymore and you’ll be singing the Weird Sisters a top the bar again.”
“Oi, a bloke gets carried away one time...”
“I believe that happened on more than one occasion actually.” Isabel laughed.
“Regardless!” Frank said, changing the topic with a smirk. “You two-” He poked each of them playfully in the center of their forehead. “-can’t stop me.” Though despite what he said, Frank’s next drink was a cup of coffee.
George watched the happy exchange a moment and then as the three of them left. He had taken too long to act and now all he could do was hope she’d come back the following week. But much to his disappointment, she didn’t. She wasn’t there the Friday after that either. In fact, a whole month went by and he didn’t catch a single glimpse of her. After that George was starting to believe he had missed his chance and Fred, worried for his twin, kept George busy and out of the Three Broomsticks on Friday nights. Fred, with the purest of intentions, even convinced him to go on a double date with him and Angelina. Though the date ended in disaster. The girl was pretty enough, but had a snide remark for everything and it didn’t take long for George to get thoroughly annoyed. He tried to be polite and at least mask his distaste for her attitude, she was Angelina’s friend afterall, by telling jokes. Though the girl just had a generally unpleasant way about her, far too stuck up for George’s taste. He managed through the first half of the date, but when she started in on how “working in a joke shop isn’t a legitimate career,” he had to excuse himself. He went back to the shop and didn’t return for the rest of the night.
George didn’t believe in love at first sight, but he couldn’t deny that immediately liking he had felt for that girl in the Three Broomsticks. So much so that even after all these weeks, he couldn’t get her out of his head, and every potential date was compared to that laugh. To that face. And he simply couldn’t find one that measured up in his book.
“Have you seen my-” Isabel’s best friend and flatmate, Sarah, tossed her her lime green uniform robe embroidered with the Healer’s symbol of a crossed wand and bone. “Oh, haha, thanks.”
“Sure Iz. Going into work on an off shift again are we?” Sarah asked a bit incredulously. Things had been crazy at St. Mungos since the summer started and Isabel had been called in so many times, it was to the point she couldn’t do laundry fast enough and barely had a moment to sleep let alone do anything else.
“Yeah... Tell Franky I’m sorry. Gotta cancel on you two again.”
“You know, I’m starting to forget what you look like. Sometimes I think I’m sharing this flat with an invisible person.” Sarah chuckled softly, only half joking.
“Sorry, Sarah.” Isabel frowned a bit, truly regretful on how little time she had for her friends as of late. “Hopefully it’ll slow down soon, but for now...”
“I know, Iz, you don’t have to apologize to me. I understand.”
“Right,” Isabel grabbed her wand and threw on her robe, fastening the front over her tank top and shorts as she headed out the door. “Oh! I’d been meaning to ask. How’re things going with Ben?” She asked and Sarah beamed in return.
“Great! I’ll tell you more later, sometime after you get back from work.” Sarah said, watching her friend scurrying to get ready for work and trying not to laugh.
“Oi, right...well, see you...ha...when I see you I guess.” Isabel laughed softly, though she still felt a bit bad that she seemed to never have time for her friends.
“Right, see you when I see you, now get going, you’re already late.”
“Right...oh-” Isabel glanced at the clock. “Right! Merlin!” She grabbed her knapsack and headed out the door. Sarah watched her friend go and sighed. She understood, but that didn’t stop her from being disappointed a bit.
She stood and finished getting ready to meet Frank. They were going to a muggle movie theater to watch one of those “moving pictures” and they didn’t even use magic! Frank had a theory that witches and wizards secretly made the movies and sold them to muggles, but Isabel thought that was pretty far fetched and Sarah said it wasn’t true. She had been looking forward this night for weeks, it really stunk that she had to miss it for work. This line of thinking sent Sarah into a mental monologue about everything she was going to miss while she was off living her dream job this school year. Although in that respect, it wouldn’t be terribly different from being at Beauxbatons, apart from the fact that Hogwarts was her dream job, if the rest of the summer went this way, she wouldn’t see blonde head nor tail of Isabel before she left.
And that all led her to think about Ben. Even though Sarah had known him for over a year now, they had only really been dating these last couple months, when she returned from Bauxbatons for the summer. She was nearly twenty and he was the first serious relationship she had ever had. She couldn’t help wondering if the time apart would affect them. He already knew about her career and it’s demand and had reassured her that he’d be visiting whenever he could and they would make plans for the holidays. But Sarah was good at worrying and over thinking and she just couldn’t help it. She didn’t realize how much her inner thoughts and rambling had distracted her until a large black bear, that she recognized as Frank’s patronus, appeared in her living room and spoke in Frank’s booming voice--which oddly enough quite suited the bear.
“Oh stop primping and talking to yourself and get over here. I don’t want to miss a moment of the movie!” Sarah stuck her tongue out at the bear, even though she knew Frank couldn’t actually see or hear her and added.
“How would you know if I’m talking to myself? Bloody oaf...”
“Now, put that tongue back in your mouth and get over here! Oh, and it isn’t polite to call names.” The bear disappeared and Sarah glared at the spot it had just gone from for a moment.
“Blooming giant... thinks he knows everything.” Sarah took her time after that, straightening her hair even though originally she was just gonna throw it up, and then grabbing her purse and heading out the door. Her and Isabel lived in a flat in a complex in the muggle city of London. It was amazing how easy it was to conceal their existence there too. All they needed was a simple charm that made the hall appear to end before their flat door, a few muggle deterring spells, and some expansion charms and they had a full size house to their own. The narrow four by six segment of hallway outside their door between the physical barriers of the walls and the magical barrier of their charm was the designated apparating space. Though it was more important for apparating in, it was force of habit to go there for apparating out as well. And then Sarah was gone with a pop, reappearing many miles away at the Three Broomsticks.
The cozy pub had become somewhat of a meeting place for them, no matter where they were going or what they were doing, they waited on each other there. Sometimes enjoying a frothy mug of butterbeer by the fireplace, other times conversing with the largely diverse patrons that passed through. At any rate, it had become somewhat of a tradition for them to meet there before hand. This time though, Frank was waiting outside for Sarah and as soon as he saw her he hurried over.
“About bloody time!” He said, taking her arm in the standard form for side-along apparation.
“Well maybe if-” But Sarah was abruptly silenced by the overwhelming sensation of apparating. They reappeared in the Leaky Cauldron, from which they would use muggle transportation, specifically the Underground, to get to the muggle movie theater. Once on solid ground again though, Sarah yanked her arm from Frank’s grip and pushed his shoulder. He didn’t even budge an inch. “Git.”
“Huh? ‘Sthat Freckles?” He chuckled and ruffled her hair, earning a glare from Sarah.
“Nothing, ‘Sget to that movie before we miss the whole thing.” She laughed and gave him another great push before running ahead of him. Of course Frank had caught her in two bounds and grabbed her around the middle, lifting her off the ground and tucking her under his arm as if she were a great watermelon. “Oi! Pu’me down you big brute!” Sarah demanded, kicking her legs out behind them.
“Now, you know better than that.” He patted her head with his free hand. “What do you say?” She craned her neck to glare up at him.
“Pu’me down, or you’ll be puking slugs for a week.” Frank had known Sarah long enough to know that ninety-nine percent of the time she was more talk than bite, though it was the one percent that scared him. Her and Isabel were quite alike in that way. It took a lot to get either of them truly upset, but once you got there, it wasn’t pretty. But he was fairly certain this was included in the ninety-nine percentile and simply grinned. He had known her since first year after all and had gotten pretty good at discerning this. Frank opened his mouth to respond, but another voice cut him off.
“Ben!” Frank let Sarah out of his grasp and she ran straight into Ben’s arms, hugging him tightly. “What’re you doing here? I thought you weren’t gonna be able to make it?” She was beaming up at him, clearly excited that he had ended up making it. Frank, however, did not share her enthusiasm. He didn’t care for this Ben bloke, something didn’t sit right. Though Isabel said Frank was just being overprotective as he had a tendency to be, he just didn’t like the man. Ben was even wearing that arrogant smirk that some would mistake for a genuine smile.
“I managed to get out of my prior commitment, so I could be here with you.” Ben smiled down at Sarah and brushed a piece of her flyaway hair into place, earning a soft giggle from her. Frank rolled his eyes.
“Wonderful. We’re late. Let’s get a move on you two.”
“Hm, yes. Don’t want to miss the movie.” Ben wrapped an arm around Sarah’s back, walking with her and sending Frank a look. Frank returned it with one of his own and moved to Sarah’s other side. He’d be keeping an eye on him. There wasn’t a single thing he liked about this pretty boy.