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Chapter 1: Again
A/N: Hello, all! Sorry fans of "A Force of Wills" but this one-shot just slapped me in the face a few days ago and I just had to type it! Anyway, this is coming from my other story "This is Angelina" and follows a few scenes from the chapter "Aftermath". Please enjoy and much love.
There was a slight tremor in his hands.
George Weasley couldn’t help but ball his fingers into a tight fist as he stood in the darkened streets of Diagon Alley with his joke shop, Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes silent and shut down after a busy, if not dull day.
Although he hadn’t wanted to give up entirely on the shop, he had stayed away for months after Fred had died and left him here, not even wanting to look at the place that held all of his best memories with his brother. It seemed to mock him and life itself did that enough already.
Clenching his fist tighter, he tried to dull the shaking but there was nothing he could do to stop the images of that night from swarming into his mind and dulling his senses. The Battle of Hogwarts had been a year ago now, an entire year and still he woke with a shudder and tears streaming down his face no matter how hard he tried to fight them.
The things that he had seen and done that night haunted him in a way that he couldn’t begin to describe and it would only grow more difficult no matter if one year or twenty had passed. With the War having finally ended and the Wizarding world still in heavy repair, George still had the sense that he was all alone in a world that continued to move without him.
Everything seemed dull, silly and meaningless and the more he tried to fight it, the worse his despair seemed to be. More than once George thought that he was sinking into a big, dark hole and no one would ever notice that he was gone.
Thoughts like these were frequent on nights when he was nervous, upset or just plain tired of pretending to be happy. And knowing that he was actually giving in and going to her place after months of fighting it, didn’t make things any easier.
Because it had been too damn long.
Too damn long since he had seen her, talked to her and felt the heat of her fingers brushing against his. George had fought the ache to see her with all of his strength but he had found himself shrugging into his coat and wandering outside with the intent on seeing her more than once, even though he had no idea where she even lived. Things had changed in the past year and he was more than certain that she had as well and he was so terrified that he would do something he would regret.
His heart was clambering and pounding to a wild beat and he had to take deep, hard breaths to stop himself from going light headed but it did little good and for a moment, for the briefest of seconds he considered telling the others that he couldn’t go. Couldn’t….no, he wouldn’t go.
He wouldn’t….he wouldn’t…. “George?” it was Lee Jordan and his voice snapped him out of his thoughts and he hadn’t realized until now that he had paused in the dark street outside of his—no their joke shop, panting like a dog. “Are you sure you’re all right?” his friend asked in concern, his hands holding bags of food and fireworks.
George looked over at him, the night sky burnishing his friend’s skin like molten ink and he smiled at him weakly. It didn’t reach his eyes and he couldn’t remember the last time that he had really smiled about anything or had been happy… “Y…yeah, I’m fine. Just a little…” Nervous? Scared? Elated? He wasn’t sure anymore.
“If you want to wait until some other time, that’s fine but…” it was Alicia Spinnet now, stepping closer and coming out of her own thoughts and George saw her touch Lee’s arm while Oliver Wood regarded them all patiently, as if he could wait for years for them.
“But what?” George asked tonelessly. He and Alicia had never been particularly close even though they’d been on the Quidditch team together at Hogwarts but he’d always considered her to be like a sister to him. Her difficulty to continue only proved that they really didn’t have much to say to one another. “Just say it,” he said, exasperated.
Alicia searched his face for a moment before nodding. She pushed a lock of her blonde hair behind her ear, showcasing a nasty curse mark on her right cheek that always made George fight down a wince of sympathy. “It’s just that…” his friend started awkwardly.
George rolled his eyes a little and Lee shot him a look for it. He had no idea how the two of them had started seeing one another and he hardly cared but he said in a far more gentle tone that hurt his throat to force out. “Just tell me. What’s wrong?”
Alicia seemed to appreciate his attempt at being human and smiled at him fondly. They had fought and nearly died together and so, they would be friends forever but the fun times that they had had at Hogwarts before the War felt so dreamlike now, as if they had never happened, “I don’t want to worry you or anything, George but it’s just that, Angie’s in bad shape. We’re really worried about her.”
Of course they were.
George was worried about her too but he hadn’t seen her, he couldn’t, wouldn’t see her but the words refused to fly from his lips and it pained him. Angelina occupied more of his mind than he was willing to even admit to himself but he had given up ignoring it, “What do you think I can do to make it better?” he asked, his voice coming out sharply.
“We don’t know but if she saw you, for just a minute I think she’d be all right.” Alicia replied calmly, staring at him as if she didn’t know who he was. That made two of them then, George thought bitterly and he looked away, “you two have always been close.”
Close? George’s whole world had revolved around her without him even being aware of it and he felt a shock go up his arm, like he had on that night when he’d understood that he’d been in love with her. Just like then, it made him feel sick, “….Who says that she’ll want to see me?”
“She’ll want to see you,” Lee said with a grin. His smiles were weaker now too and he drank too much but Alicia was slowly, slowly turning him back into a human being and George felt a bolt of envy and he sort of hated them. “She always wants to see you.”
Always? Even after what he had done at Hogwarts and what she had seen him do? An image of a man flying out of a window due to his own curse flashed through his mind and George suddenly felt as if he would be gravely ill.
Angelina had been there when he had killed that man and although she hadn’t mentioned it after it was over, he knew that she hated him for it. He couldn’t bear to see her disappointment or worse, her revulsion, which was another reason why he hadn’t been to check on her and see if she needed him.
“She’s always asking after you.” This voice belonged to Oliver Wood, their former Quidditch captain and now a business man on the rise. Though he had mentioned his plans more than once, George had always blocked out the conversation, not understanding how they all could move on with everything that they had seen.
George hadn’t reacted to his friend’s voice but he looked up, spotting him a few inches away from Alicia and Lee. The happy couple, something nasty sneered in his mind. Everyone was happy except for him, “I’m pretty sure she doesn’t.” He muttered.
Oliver Wood narrowed his eyes a little in irritation. “She does and if you actually saw her for a change instead of holding up in the shop, you’d notice.” His tone wasn’t meant to be cruel and George didn’t flinch away from the truth. His friend had had the worst temper after the War and this was nothing in comparison.
Alicia smiled again, ready to say something but it was Lee who spoke. “George, we’re not trying to pressure you into doing something you don’t want to do. Angie misses you and I think you’re the only person that can really help her.”
George’s heart nearly collapsed at the words and a strange flush spread into his cheeks until he thought he would actually smile. “We should be heading back to Angie’s place in a few. I don’t like leaving her alone for too long,” Oliver said and George felt a spark of worry. “She’s not eating right and does too much, you know how she is,” his eyes scanned over the three of them familiarly.
Alicia and Lee nodded fondly but George was now concerned. Angie had a bad habit of pushing herself too hard, “If your girlfriend got here we’d be able to leave.” Lee now said, rolling his eyes a little at the mention of the fact that George had a girlfriend at all.
George shrugged his shoulder and before he could say a word, he heard footsteps coming towards them and angled his head to see his girlfriend for the past year, Natasha Orion coming towards them, looking winded.
She was short and pretty with brown hair and large doll-like blue eyes but nothing happened in his chest at the sight of her though but he managed a smile for her—it hurt. “Sorry that I’m late. I had to close shop by myself and we were being swamped,” the girl said, big blue eyes glancing around with a friendly gaze.
Alicia and the others made their greetings but George knew that they didn’t like her.
They tolerated her and were friendly for his sake but he knew that they didn’t like her and the fact that she had such a snide view on Muggles and the War itself was a major part of it. He had met her at her shop, intent on buying Lee a pair of panties over a lost bet and she’d struck up friendly conversation and he’d been seeing her ever since.
He had no idea why, but it gave him a purpose. Something to do but his family didn’t like her either and her cool regard for sorrow wasn’t at all charming.
“I thought you all would have left without me.” Natasha said now with a grin. Lee opened his mouth to say something to this but Alicia rammed her elbow into his ribs and he silenced himself before it was too late. “A few Muggle-born people came into the shop while we were swamped. They didn’t even know where to go, I swear that I don’t understand why they’re even allowed to have magic,” she said with a roll of her eyes.
“Why you—” Alicia began but Georg shot her a look and placed his hand on Natasha’s shoulder, which infuriated his three friends all the more.
George felt wrong for it but he had nothing else. It wasn’t as though she knew the truth about him and about the things that he had done and to her, he was nothing but an empty void, “It’s all right. We weren’t going to leave without you,” he said to her after giving her the softest, fairest of kisses on the mouth.
No fireworks. No cherubs…it was just a kiss.
Oliver was looking between them with a twist to his mouth that reminded George of Katie Bell, his wife and he recoiled. They were eerily alike and so blunt that he’d told them at some point to start carrying around a broad axe, “Have you made up your mind about seeing Angie?” he asked him now and George nodded, though Natasha was appearing confused.
But she didn’t press the issue.
She never asked.
She never worried.
She just never did anything.
George felt an urgent need to see Angelina then. He shouldn’t want to because all she would do was spoil him and fret and worry but…the thought of having her staring at him as if he were really there was too tempting to resist and his blood pounded, “I’ll go. It’s the least I can do,” for all the times when she had supported him, he could at least see her for a few hours.
Oliver and the others looked relieved and after a moment, they all gripped hands, George holding onto Natasha’s and hers linked pleasantly with Alicia’s and Disapparated. When they touched ground again, he opened his eyes to see a pleasant and orderly Muggle flat and his stomach burned with acid at the sight of it. Angelina had been doing well. Lee had told him already about her promotion and she was probably going to go join the Hollyhead Harpies now—how could she?
“Ready? Angie and Katie should be inside making dinner.” Oliver said with a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes as he glanced at Natasha. Katie and she often argued.
The night was pleasant but as they released each other’s hands and went inside the building, he might as well have been going to Hell. His hands were shaking, his heart was pounding and he almost pushed Lee and the others out of his way to find her and be with her again but he fought it down, mostly because he would look like a fool.
And partly because he had no damn idea where Angie’s door was, “I can smell chili!” Lee said with excitement as they stopped at a door. George’s stomach growled for the first real time in months. He hadn’t been eating much at home, “God, I could marry Angie and Katie.”
“Hey, now,” Oliver said with alarm and they laughed.
Alicia pulled out a key and opened the door with a flourish and they stepped inside with her calling out sweetly. “Angie darling where are you?!” and George was suddenly overcome with the need to run and run away as fast as he could.
Natasha was looking around the flat with interest, though she didn’t look impressed at all and George found that rather snobbish of her. Her family was rich and she owned a boutique so of course this wouldn’t mean much to her…it wouldn’t mean much to her at all, “Just a minute!” it was Angie’s voice and he almost lost his footing.
He had almost forgotten what she’d sounded like! Angie, Angie Angie…he wanted to run towards the sound of her voice but his feet remained motionless and still, as if they’d been weighted down with cement and he couldn’t see straight.
Distantly, he thought he felt himself moving a little and just as he did, the door opened and Angie appeared, looking down at her feet and saying distractedly while she gripped a photo in one hand. “Sorry, I had to make sure this dress of Katie’s actually fit me. She thinks that—”
George didn’t know why he spoke at all but he said, trying to smile even though he felt like rushing towards her and kneeling at her feet. “Looks good on you, Angie, Katie can do something right at least,” he could hear the other girl but he didn’t want to see her. There was only Angie…looking a bit thinner with bouncing curls along her shoulders…only her and no one else.
Just like always.
Angie paused at the sight of him, the color in her face darkening with warring emotions before the photo slid from her hand and crashed to the floor. The others were appearing concerned and Alicia asked tentatively, “Angie?” but her voice might as well have hit a brick wall.
A second paused before George watched her hurriedly crossing the space between them and he might have seen Natasha scowl and the others look relieved before her arms were around his neck.
The feel of her body against his— well, thrown, was nearly too much and he stumbled a little right before her mouth came onto his, again and again and again and his mind went blessedly numb. At last…every molecule seemed to scream, at last….but with more regret than he’d ever known, he pried her off and heard her shout, “Why haven’t I heard from you?!”
She hadn’t heard from him because he’d been afraid of this. Afraid and needful and pathetic and though he wanted to pull her back and hold her, he was aware of the others, of Natasha standing there but it hardly mattered. There was only Angie, just like there’d always been.
Thanks so much for reading and if you want to know more about this then I guess you can actually try reading "This is Angelina" if not, then happy reading elsewhere and much love from Gabbie.