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Chapter 72: Decode
A/N: YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST. THE BEST EVER. Thank you to the lovely people who have favorited this story, and to the people who reviewed! This chapter's fun! The really good stuff is coming up soon, though -- I love the next chapter myself :) but enjoy, and remember -- if you're a bird, i'm a bird!!!
Oh and I also said that I would write a poem for those lovely people who reviewed me. (I love poetry!!!) So here it is:
If you're looking for someone who can brighten your day,
I recommend that you speak to Margot and K.
Their words were inspiring and they made me smile
I guarantee they've made me happy for quite a while.
I'm sorry to say that this poem's not my best
To be fair, the masterful reviews they wrote make it no contest
They're perfect and lovely and they made me glow
I wish upon them a thousand smiles and a rainbow!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU!!! TO THE CHAPTER!!!
The couple was again in the same position that they had been in months before.
By this point, the Slytherins knew enough to not get anywhere near their vicinity. The two had occupied the couch during evenings on a daily basis now, and, though most nights were spent in silence, neither of them were opposed to the routine. Theodore, originally uninterested and indifferent to his sister’s persistence, now saw it as his sole comfort, and believed that, despite everything, she and their time together on the couch was the only remaining constant in his life. Georgiana was also dependent in the assurances of her brother’s presence; however, she additionally came because she was attempting to gauge her brother’s to the whole of the fiasco, trying to piece everything together, for no other motivation than concern and worry.
As the night of February 18 fell on them, though, Georgiana was not compelled to sit where she was for the same reasons. After all, she had already—unfortunately—become aware of Theodore’s reaction, and as far as her dependence went... Well, Theodore certainly was not assuring her. So it was difficult to say that she was really able to be dependent on him without running the risk of becoming excruciatingly frustrated.
She did not know why the relationship that had begun between Ambrose and Theodore angered her and disappointed her so much. Perhaps there was a small—miniscule, mind you, she was not very sentimental—part of her that still believed that, sooner or later, Scarlett and Theodore would rekindle their romance and everything would be as it had been before. Perhaps there was a part of her that thought that Theodore would be happy and without his mind torturing him with the image of Scarlett and Sirius together.
It was an irrational thing to be thinking, yes, but she couldn't be blamed. After all, with all of the change already coming as her marriage to Avery approached, she could not help but feel overwhelmed, despite what cool attitude she let off. In instants, small moments compiled as weeks passed, she began to change from a fairly easygoing, lighthearted teenager into... an adult. A Death Eater. A wife.
She just couldn't help it getting to her in the form of irrational thoughts like that.
Regardless, it was not difficult whatsoever to create excuses for her hostility towards their relationship. It was her best friend and her brother; that alone was enough to create some skepticism in the entire thing.
Plus, it was Ambrose. Georgiana had been friends with Ambrose since second year, and, even then, she had displayed signs of natural charm, beauty, and indifference, traits that all intensified as she matured. Georgiana had seen Ambrose catch the eye of every boy in Hogwarts and, more importantly, had seen her take advantage of their feelings, of their vulnerability. She had seen Ambrose juggle multiple boys just for pure sport, and, when Georgiana asked, she was never met with a response that indicated that Ambrose felt anything other than lust for them.
And while this was an acceptable—if not hilarious—characteristic for a friend to notice about another, as a sister of Theodore's she could not help but feel some worry. She had always been observant, hadn't she? She knew Ambrose's tricks, and she could see them being used on Theodore.
Although she wasn't sure about how Theodore exactly felt about Ambrose—to be truthful, Georgiana believed Scarlett had more of an effect on him than he displayed, which really said something, and certainly was more long-lasting than she would have believed at first—she had difficulty believing that he was not a little bit, at least, swayed. She was a quality flirt, a professional temptress, and Georgiana knew this all too well and could not help but feel worry over the situation.
More than anything, though, more than Ambrose, or sisterly concern, or irrational thoughts of a reconciliation between Theodore and Scarlett, Georgiana was frightened most because it was just so uncharacteristic of Theodore.
Georgiana had spent more than enough time around her brother. When they had first arrived at Hogwarts, she had been nothing more than a gangly, frizzy mess of strawberry blonde hair with a socially awkward demeanor. Despite being friends at the time with Scarlett, Bellatrix, and Narcissa, the friendship had not been as close as it had become in later years, and, at the time, Theodore had been everything.
Though they were close to the same age, Theodore was always calmer, always more mature. He was always reliable. And when she had been unused to the work required in classes—when she had been questioning her placement as a Ravenclaw—hell, when she had been questioning her placement as a socialite, as a Death Eater—he had always, always been there for her. When she had spent nights, like the one they were in now, on the same couch, wiping tears sloppily off her face because they weren't in the same House, he had comforted her. When boys had made fun of her for her freckles, he had defended her. And throughout all of this he had spoken calmly to her, reassuring her, always knowing what to do next.
And now, even with everything else changing, she had depended on him to stay the same. She had depended on him to comfort her and reassure her and defend her as he had years before.
The fact that he wasn't now—the fact that he was not being reasonable or calm and had seemed to have lost all that had made him such a loving brother in the past—was terrifying.
So Georgiana had good reason, absolutely good reason, to have different motives to approach Theodore this night. She had made her distaste of the relationship clear—to Ambrose, at least, who was guaranteed to pay Georgiana no attention. Maybe it was a small hope that Theodore, more than Ambrose, would pay attention to reason.
But it was all that Georgiana had left. It was the only thing that she could do.
"Theodore," Georgiana started, pulling her hair back, and Theodore looked over, raising his eyebrows at her words. "I have to talk to you."
Theodore did not respond for a few seconds, clearly still surprised that their routine of silence—which had been established over months—was broken.
After clearing his throat, Theodore said quietly, "Yes?"
Georgiana stared at the fire, now contemplating her words, before replying. "I... want you to watch out," she murmured. "I don't think that this is a good idea."
Theodore looked down at his hands, which were folded on his lap, and replied, "I knew that you didn't approve, Georgiana."
Georgiana was silent as Theodore continued. "I can understand why," he said, "not that I agree with it. You were always incredibly close with Ambrose. You probably know her better than I could ever hope to.
"Plus," he added, "the last time we went through this, you were right, weren't you?"
"Theo," Georgiana said softly, turning towards him. "This isn't about Scarlett. This is about Ambrose."
Theodore shook his head and smiled, but Georgiana had never before seen him smile like that and was again reminded of just how changed Theodore had become. "It's not," he contradicted. "This is always going to be about Scarlett, Georgiana.
"You know," he said, and raised his left hand closer to his face, "we're still married, Scarlett and I."
Georgiana winced as Theodore looked at the ring on his ring finger with some fascination and disgust. "You could always divorce," she suggested, though the words were half-hearted as they passed her lips. She knew his response before she had spoken.
"It's impossible," Theodore said. "We bound. We got married in front of how many socialites..." he put his head in his hands. "There's just no way," he said blankly. "No matter how much either of us might want to divorce, it's impossible."
Georgiana put her hand on Theodore's back as he sighed deeply. "I don't know why you're so against Ambrose and I," he said. "I'm lucky to have her. I mean...how many people would ever consider me... married, for Merlin's sake... and obviously not good enough?"
A surge of searing anger erupted in Georgiana's stomach as Theodore's expression crumbled for the slightest of seconds before masking itself as always. "This is what I mean," he said, his tone abruptly changing to the same anger that coursed through her stomach. "Always about Scarlett. I'm so tired of it. We're talking about Ambrose and it just—" he grimaced—"always leads its way back..."
She groaned. "Listen to me, Theodore," she stated firmly. "Scarlett is done." She tugged on the ends of her hair. "This isn't about her, it's about Ambrose," she reaffirmed. "You should really stop worrying about Scarlett, Theodore, honestly. She was a mistake for all of us." She sighed. "But just because we all were wrong about Scarlett doesn't mean that Ambrose is the solution."
Theodore shrugged. "She's not bad, Georgiana," he said, defensive. "She's just—"
"Theo, you know Ambrose," Georgiana interrupted. "You fancied her in fourth year, for Merlin's sake, and you know as well as I do about what happened with that."
"We were fourteen," Theodore said, rolling his eyes. "That's hardly a time to judge anybody's character, especially when it comes to stuff like that. I mean, at that time, you fancied Remus Lupin."
Georgiana's cheeks reddened involuntarily as she thought of Remus Lupin, a boy who she had increasingly spent time with on her Prefect routes. "That's—um—totally beside the point," she stammered, and she wondered why Theodore's mentioning of Remus had such an effect on her. "Anyway," she said, clearing her throat to try and compose herself, "anyway, it's not the same. Remus Lupin is a timid Gryffindor that happens to be extremely attractive. Ambrose—"
"Wait," Theodore interjected, frowning. "'Happens to be'? As opposed to 'was'?"
The scarlet in Georgiana's cheeks strengthened. "I don't judge House on looks," she said after a second. "He is what he is, and that is not the point, and you know that."
Theodore gave her a long look and then said flatly, "You don't fancy him now, do you?"
Georgiana glared and put her hands on her cheeks in a failed attempt to cool them down. "No," she replied. "No, I don't make the same mistake twice." She glanced at Theodore. "Ambrose is a mistake."
Theodore looked back at her, annoyed. "You seem awfully overeager to throw your best friend under the bus," he observed. "Why can't you just be happy for me, for once, Georgiana? Why do you—ugh—" Theodore rubbed his eyes. "Why do you always have to do this?"
Georgiana recoiled, stung. Letting her hair curtain her face, she said, "I'm just trying to help, Theodore."
Theodore did not take into account what effect his previous words had had on her as he said mercilessly, "Well, you should really stop. It's not any of your business in the first place, all right? I'm happy with Ambrose. When did that become an excuse for you to lecture me?"
"Merlin," said Georgiana, almost laughing even though her voice was strained. "You're not happy with Ambrose, Theodore. You're never going to be happy with Ambrose..."
"You don't know, though, Georgiana," he said. "You can call back to any of Ambrose's past boyfriends if you want. I don't care. I don't care if you keep up disapproving of Ambrose and me, because it is not going to change anything. Let's face it, the only reason you even bother with this is because of your own problems—"
"My own problems?" Georgiana said. "I'm trying to help you!"
"—and I'm tired of having to deal with it, Georgiana," he said. "Ambrose and I are fine."
As if on cue, a surge of Slytherins suddenly entered the common room, Ambrose the nucleus of the group. Breaking apart from them, her eyes glanced towards the couch—as she, too, had become aware of Georgiana and Theodore's time together—and smiled as she sought out her boyfriend. "Theo," she greeted, walking towards them, and at her voice Theodore turned his head towards her, standing as he did so.
"Hey," he said warmly, a stark contrast to his tone with Georgiana. "How are you?"
Ambrose smiled and kissed him, and Georgiana looked on, noting with disgust that Ambrose absolutely reeked of chocolate and grass—a scent that, while undeniably tempting to Georgiana, was recognized to be her personal interpretation of Amortentia.
"Better," Ambrose said as their kiss broke. "Georgie doesn't mind if I steal you for a bit, does she?"
Theodore looked at Georgiana, and his eyes were bleak as he faced Ambrose again and said, "I'm sure she doesn't. Where are we going?"
"New place," she replied. "Just for you, obviously."
They kissed again; Georgiana rolled her eyes and looked towards the fire. "I wouldn't leave him out for too long, Ambrose," Georgiana advised, her voice dull. "We have a practice tomorrow morning at four."
Ambrose winked at Georgiana. "No worries," she assured her. "He'll be back in no time."
She walked towards the common room exit, beckoning for him to follow her, but Theodore stalled, looking at Georgiana once more. "See," he said quietly. "We're fine."
He began to walk away from Georgiana—he had, after all, made his point—but, before he was out of her vicinity, she responded. "Famous last words," she said, and, while she did not bother to even glance at him again, Theodore's head snapped towards her for the briefest of seconds.
Both had heard the words before.
And they had been proven right, Georgiana thought angrily to herself, as Theodore recuperated and left with Ambrose. She had been right about Scarlett, no matter how close they had been at the time. She had been so, so right about the affair, so right that something had been off with Scarlett.
But, it obviously did not matter how correct Georgiana was in accusing Scarlett of taking advantage of Theodore and Ambrose of doing the same. No matter how apt she was at observation, it was useless when it fell on deaf ears, and, if anything, it made her more frustrated that when she spoke she was wasting her energy.
She thought that she deserved more from Theodore. While it was nosy of her, admittedly, she could not believe that he had the nerve to lecture her for trying to be a good sister. All she was doing was being protective of him. She was looking out for him.
But, it did not matter. Trying to fill the role of Theodore that he had so graciously given up was useless. Trying to make things right, avoid things from changing, was impossible, and Georgiana should have known that Theodore would not always thank her for her warnings.
And, in a true testament to change, she could not help but sigh and realize that for the first time in months, she was all alone on the couch.