“George?” Angelina opened the door a crack and peered around it. No one seemed to be home. She walked through the small flat, listening to the mournful Christmas jazz coming from the wireless in the kitchen. It was the only acknowledgement of the holiday that she could see in the flat. There was no tree, no decorations, no cards. Only the dreary grey sky out the small windows.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be light
From now on our troubles will be out of sight
The shop downstairs was open and bustling with last-minute Christmas shoppers, and George's little brother Ron had cheerfully told her that George was upstairs getting ready to spend Christmas at the Burrow. Angelina had been checking up on George weekly ever since the war had ended earlier that year, and had thought to make a quick stop in on him before she went home to her mother's for the holiday, but George was nowhere to be seen.
She knocked once on the bedroom door that had once belonged to both twins but now was George's alone. The mound of blankets on the bed indicated George was under there somewhere, hiding. She went in and pulled back the edges of the covers until she found him.
“Hey Angelina,” he said in a hoarse voice. She could see he'd been crying, and she thought her heart would break all over again. He didn't have to say why, she knew exactly what was wrong.
It was his first Christmas without Fred.
Angelina crawled into the bed next to him, and George slid over, making room for her, before pulling the blankets up again over both of them, so they were in a warm cocoon together. Angelina laid her head on the pillow next to George, watching his face.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas, make the yuletide gay
From now on our troubles will be miles away
He sniffed and gave her a crooked smile. “Sorry. I couldn't seem to drag myself out of bed today.”
“It's okay, George. We all miss Fred.” She put a hand on George's cheek, and he closed his eyes and let out a weary breath.
“I don't think I can handle the Burrow right now. I'm supposed to go home today,” he said, sniffing. “I can't do it by myself. I need Fred back.”
Angelina could feel tears welling up as she watched her friend. George's misery was heart-rending. She didn't know what to say to soothe him, so she scooted closer and put her arms around him. George tucked his head into the crook of her neck, and she held him close.
“I don't know how to be just George
,” he said in a whisper, as if confessing a deep, dark secret. “I've never been by myself like this. What do I do without Fred?”
She hugged him a little tighter, and he wrapped his arms around her. She couldn't imagine how hard it must be on him, to lose his twin. There hadn't been a moment that those two had been apart, not since their conception, and now he would go the rest of his life as a half of the whole he'd once been. She couldn't bear to think of it.
“You just have to hang on for everyone else's sake, then. We can't lose both of you. I can't lose both of you,” she added in a voice barely above a whisper.
Here we are as in older days, happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us gather near to us once more
George looked up, and she kept her arms around him. His face was inches from hers, and she could see all the tiny details that made that face so different than Fred's in her eyes, though they were so alike.
His eyes were clear as he studied her face, then he leaned forward and kissed her.
She'd kissed Fred any number of times at Hogwarts when they'd gone out, and had expected George's kiss to be an echo of his twin's. It wasn't. George's kiss was as different as he was similar to his brother. She kissed him back gently, knowing he was still hurting inside, and hoping she could help him heal just a little bit.
But the kiss quickly became something more, and she forgot about her empathy for George's pain, and he was kissing her as if he'd forgotten it too. She kissed him not for his sorrow, not because he was Fred's twin, but because he was George.
When they finally broke apart, he put his forehead against hers for a moment and took a deep breath.
She looked up into those liquid blue eyes, and felt something shift inside her. He was looking at her as if he'd never really seen her before. She'd dated his twin. She'd thought about asking George out, but she'd always thought it would be weird to go out with him after she'd been with Fred. Maybe he'd thought the same about her. But now it seemed the clear path for both of them.
Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.
“What just happened?” she whispered.
“I think we kissed.” George kissed her again, briefly this time. “It seemed a lot like that.”
“Smart-ass,” she said.
George settled down onto the pillow next to her again, the blankets still tented over their heads. “Are you okay, Angelina?”
His long face was drawn, his eyes sad again. “No. I'm not sure what I am any more, but I'm definitely not okay.”
“Yeah,” she agreed softly. “I know.”
“Stay with me,” he said suddenly, his eyes entreating her. “I don't want to be alone.”
This time she burrowed into his arms, and he held her close. It wasn't like when Fred had held her, but the difference was good.
“Happy Christmas,” she whispered.
“Yeah right,” George said thoughtfully, and there was an echo of his twin in his voice. “Happy.”
“It's okay to be happy, George. I know you're always going to be sad about Fred, but it's okay to be happy sometimes, too.” She didn't know what made her say it, but the urge to see George happy again was strong. It wasn't fair that he should suffer the rest of his life, that they both should suffer because Fred was gone. She wanted him to smile, to laugh again the way he used to.
His hand was stroking her arm, and he said mildly, “I know.”
They stayed there for a while, hiding from the world, safe together under the blankets, and then Angelina made him get up and get dressed to go home to his family. He seemed a little more like his old self as he whistled along to the radio, waving to her as she left the flat. She knew he still missed his twin, but maybe she'd given him something new to think about. She'd certainly given herself something to think about.
“Happy Christmas, Angelina,” Ron called cheerfully as she passed through the shop.
“Happy Christmas, Ron.” Angelina went outside and stopped in the middle of the snowy road. She looked up at the windows above the shop for a moment, thinking about George's kisses, then set off down the street.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas now.