I sit quietly, anxiously, while George opens his birthday presents. One-by-one the paper is torn or peeling away from each box to reveal a collection of gifts. All of them are opened but the last one and George sits in the middle of the lounge in our flat, his eyes passing over each item with great longing. Finally, he sits still with the last package resting in his lap and looks at me. Confusion is quite evident on his otherwise happy face. He slowly lifts his hand to the back of his head and scratches his scalp.
“Um, wow,” he stutters, “I appreciate all of this, Cho, I really do, but you do know that I can’t use any of it, don’t you, luv?”
I grit my teeth in response. I was afraid this would happen. I cannot hide my bewilderment as I look at the collection of presents: a new Bludger bat; leather shin, knee, arm, and elbow guards; weatherproof hooded red Quidditch robes; dragon hide gloves; padded chest guard; indestructible goggles; reinforced Quidditch boots; a shiny set of brand new Quidditch balls; and a bottomless shrinking equipment duffel. I knew all this was a mistake but I wanted to get him something I knew he would want for himself.
“You’ve spent way too much, Cho,” he shakes his head in amazement. “Why did you get me all this? I can’t use it.”
I just stare at him. I had hoped he would understand. My eyes begin to brim with tears and George places the last present aside and quickly crawls forward to where I am sitting on the floor in front of him.
“Oh Merlin, Cho,” he stammers, “I’m a complete git. I’m so sorry.” He enfolds me in his arms and holds me as if I were a small child. “I’m so sorry. I’m an insensitive prat.”
“I only wanted to give you something I knew you would want,” I sniffle. “I thought about not getting you these things because of the sacrifice you made for me and my mum and dad. But I know they will come back soon, George; I just know…and, and,” I hiccup, “You will be playing again in no time at all and when you do you will have brand new equipment. The best anyone could own.” I fight back my tears but I am so prone to cry when I get emotional. George leans in and kisses my cheeks where the tear stains remain.
“I know, luv,” he whispers, “I know.”
I turn toward his body and bury my face in his shirt. “I just miss them both so much and I wanted to give you something special to thank you for what you’ve done for me. I love you so much.”
“I love you to, Wonton,” he pets the side of my head as I gaze up at him.
“I have been thinking about the other time that you could not play Quidditch. My sixth year when you and Harry pummeled the shite out of Draco Malfoy and that Umbridge woman banned you from Quidditch for life.” As I talk, George furrows his brow at the memory of that day long ago. “I was glad you pounded his arse. I guess you could say I took serious notice of you that day but I was too caught up in my own life to do anything about it. I was pretty messed up back then, anyway.”
“I was pretty messed up too,” he says as he ducks his head, “Leaving school like I did. Kind of cursing my nose off despite my face.” I feel his arms tighten around me. “But I happen to think things have worked out for the better now.”
“But you got to play Quidditch again,” I remind him, “And it will be the same this time too.” I lift up and kiss him softly on his lips. “I thought that we could put the equipment somewhere where we could see it and it could remind us of all we have to look forward to, all the wonderful things that are going to happen to us in the next year.” George turns and studies the new Quidditch equipment, a thoughtful expression on his face.
“That’s true,” he replies as he looks back at me. “This is the most thoughtful birthday present I’ve ever gotten, Wonton. You and your Ravenclaw mind are remarkable; I never would have thought of this.” I suddenly remember that there is one more present to open and I reach over and grab the box and hand it to George. He smiles and waits a moment before he rips the wrapping paper from it like a rabid Niffler locked in Gringott’s. When the box is open, he carefully lifts out his last present: a red Quidditch jersey with the name ‘Weasley’ across the back.
“Whoa, this is nice,” he beams as he admires the work on the jersey. “Any particular reason for the red? Gryffindors usually wear burgundy.” He holds it up to his body. “You don’t think it clashes with my hair, do you?” He makes a silly show of running his fingers through his hair while he rolls his eyes.
“In China, red represents good luck and good fortune.” I smile brightly. “It will be the color of my wedding dress; it’s tradition.”
“Better tell my mum before she sees you walking down the aisle in it,” he laughs, “She’s likely to faint.” We each have a good chuckle before George sees that there is something more in the bottom of the box. He reaches in and pulls out another jersey, one identical to his; only this one is much, much smaller. “Luv,” he pauses as he holds up the garment. “You left Fred’s gift in the bottom with mine and I don’t think it’s going to fit him.” George turns the jersey around to look at the bold ‘Weasley’ stitched across them back.
“That is not for Fred,” I smile proudly as I reach out and take the shirt from George’s hands and place the jersey against my chest with the ‘Weasley’ side facing him. “This one is mine.”