Chapter 1 : Mischief Wins the War.
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Hey there, everyone! Here's a product of my long tiresome vacation. :)
“It’s the eternal struggle, Pudge. The good versus the naughty...Sometimes you lose a battle. But mischief always wins the war.”
— John Green (Looking for Alaska)
“George Weasley, that was not funny at all!” a shrill woman’s voice broke through the quiet hum of the magic that filled the workshop in the back of the Weasley Wizard Wheezes shop in Diagon Alley. The woman was absolutely infuriated with him, and he did not dare respond to her in order to protect himself.
Honestly, George had thought it was quite funny. He had watched her as she carefully calculated the rows and rows of numbers sloppily printed in the leather-bound accounting books he kept under the front counter, and when she was thoroughly engrossed in counting up the shop’s expenses from the previous month, he waved his wand in her direction. The book immediately transfigured into a large Siamese cat, and as Angelina glared at its piercing blue eyes, she swatted it away and stormed into the workshop.
“Is it necessary for you to torture me all the time?” she snapped at him, her hands on her hips.
Angelina Johnson had been working with George for three months now. It had been two full years since the end of the war, one year since the store had opened, and only three months since George had felt even partially up to his usual prankster ways. He was taking the need to prank out on Angelina whenever he had the chance, but after Fred’s death, she had lost her tolerance for such antics and became incredibly exasperated.
“I’m not torturing you, Angie,” he replied honestly.
He was not torturing her, truly he was not. George was putting forth as much effort as possible to help Angelina; he knew the woman was still so hurt over his brother’s death, as was he. That was the lone reason she even worked at the store. She seemed to love the memories of Fred it held, but every memory of Fred that George held she rejected. She rejected George in general, to be honest. He knew that the best way Fred would want her to recover would be to smile, laugh, and maybe even fall for a prankster that was uncannily similar to himself.
Angelina did not respond. She glared at George viciously.
“It was just a joke,” he told her. “Lighten up a little, yeah? I just want to make you laugh once in a while.”
She made a disgusted noise. “I don’t have a reason to laugh.”
Angelina rapidly gathered up her things from the desk she had taken over when she first began to work at the shop, huffing under her breath about how exasperating George was to work with. Within a few seconds, she had grabbed a pinch of Floo powder, and with the words “Johnson Flat!”, she was gone in a cloud of green.
George stared at his fireplace in her absence. Once again, he had lost the battle. He only wanted to see her smile again, the way she had once smiled. He knew she was so deeply damaged by the loss of Fred, but he was too. They could smile together, slowly recover together, and grow old… together. He loved Angelina Johnson; he had known that from the very first day they met. Her brown eyes were not to be denied, he had always told himself. However, they were brown eyes that constantly did the denying.
He could not remember the last time she had even responded positively to something he said to her. She was the first woman he had found himself attracted to in many years, and she had absolutely no interest in him- more than likely because of the identical traits he possessed with her onetime love. Angelina would chose the good path, the path without memories and without laughs, over the naughty path every time. He knew that was simply the way she was now, but he longed to change that. Three months ago, he began with small pranks. Slowly, he was building them up and trying his hardest.
“Verity,” he called out to the other woman who worked in the store with Angelina and himself, walking towards the fireplace and taking a pinch of Floo powder. “You don’t mind closing up, do you? I have somewhere to be.”
One day, he would win one single battle. After that, he would win her over completely. Everyone knows that the mischievous always win the war in the end.
An intelligent man would stop trying so hard. A man with the tiniest bit of dignity would abandon his efforts to win her over and realize it would never work. A man who was aware that he was nothing she wanted would accept that fact and walk away. George was intelligent, he had dignity, and he knew she did not want him; however, that did not seem to persuade him to surrender. White flags were not a part of who he was. He had given up on persisting once, after the death of his brother, and that had caused him to fall into a depression so deep that once recovered, he swore he would never give up again. Therefore, he would fight for Angelina, until the very end.
This time around, George was standing outside the door to her flat, holding a bouquet of real flowers- yellow tulips, her favorite kind- in one hand and a bouquet of obviously-fake flowers that would transform into butterflies whenever she touched them. He knew she would take the tulips. It did not take an ounce of common sense to know that. But no less, he held out hope that she would change her mind this time, take the fake flowers and laugh at his magic, and let him win- just this one time.
“Oi, Angelina,” he called out, knocking on the door before pushing it open.
She was strange about doors. She was so cautious after the war that she proceeded to have anti-Apparation charms on the flat and closed the Floo portal through her fireplace, except the one that attached it to the store, and yet, she left her doors unlocked. He did not understand that about her, but she was Angelina, and he loved her for every weird quirk she possessed. Including her strange aversion to locking doors.
“Angelina, are you home?”
“Yes, I’m home,” she replied in a strange tone he could not quite identify.
He turned into her living room, where she was sitting, legs crossed underneath her, on the low sofa in the middle of the room. Her long hair fell in loose waves over her shoulders, and her dark skin seemed to be almost ghostlike. She looked up at him cautiously, with brown eyes that held no emotion whatsoever. He was used to that; it was either anger or nothing at all. Truthfully, he preferred the anger.
“You brought flowers?” she raised one eyebrow.
George walked over to her, dropping down on the couch beside her. “I knew you were angry with me when you left. I don’t like leaving people angry with me, you know. Especially you.”
It was true. Every time she stormed out of the shop, completely furious with him for trying to elicit a laugh or even a simple smile from her, he would follow shortly after, another prank in hand to gain her forgiveness. He hated the thought of her falling asleep still angry with him.
“One of them is a prank, isn’t it?”
“I wouldn’t be myself if it wasn’t.”
Angelina sighed. “You know I have no interest in pranks since… since, well. You know when I lost my interest in them, don’t you?”
“When Fred died,” he responded, and she visibly cringed.
“Don’t say that.”
George dropped the bouquets on the ground, throwing his arms up in the air. He had not planned to bring any of this up with her just yet, not before won a single battle, but when she tried to pretend like Fred’s death never happened, it made him furious.
“Why not? It happened, didn’t it? Do you really expect to go through the rest of your life avoiding that it happened?”
“It’s worked so far!”
“When was the last time you smiled?” George asked her seriously.
Angelina paused, hesitating before she allowed herself to respond. “I smile all the time, George,” she told him, forcing out a grimace as an example. “All the time.”
“I mean a real smile- a real Angelina Johnson smile. When you really smile, your entire face smiles with you. Your eyes light up. Your teeth- they’re actually visible when you smile.”
“I smile all the time, George.”
“Fine, then- you smile all the time,” George sighed. “Why never at me? Even when I try so hard, you never smile at me.”
“Of course I don’t! You’re… you’re his brother!”
“He would want you to be happy!”
“You don’t know what he wants!” she shrieked in response to that, sliding farther away from George on the sofa. Her brown eyes flashed at him. “He wouldn’t want me to be happy if it meant me falling for his bloody brother, would he?”
George glared back at her. “He would want you to be happy no matter- wait, what?”
“Oh- oh! I shouldn’t have-”
“You like me.”
“If you want to be oh-so mature about it, yes.”
“And you act like you hate me because…?”
“Because I loved your brother. In what world is the right thing to do falling for his twin after he… dies?” she choked out the final word, and then narrowed her eyes almost as if she was glaring at herself. It was kind of cute. “He would want me to be happy, but… not with you!”
“Fred wouldn’t want you to walk around like a rock, Angie,” George informed her somberly. “If he saw you could be happy with me… I think he would understand. No, I know he would. He would want you to be happy. No matter what. Even if that meant you would be with me. You aren’t happy without me, are you?”
“I’m just fine.”
“Do you remember the last time you smiled?”
Her face hardened, and she stood up, walking over the spot where he had tossed the two bouquets of flowers. He knew that face. It was a face he had always loved, a face he had not seen in so long. She put her hands on her hips, looking down at them and tapping her toes on the floor. It was the trademark Angelina Johnson pose of stubbornness. She had a point to prove.
“Which one is the prank?”
“The fake bouquet,” he told her.
Angelina leaned down to scoop it up. The minute it registered that her hands were holding it, one hundred yellow butterflies transformed from the bouquet, flying into the air above her head. They quickly configured into the words I love you, hovering in front of her, and he watched as her lips spread and her eyes lit up. She had not expected that, he could tell, and she had thought she would need to force a smile to appear. She thought it would be a normal prank, one of his usual ideas; but he was far past the basics by then. He had moved on to the real things, the meaningful things. She was surprised. The emotionless look was wiped from her face, replaced by that simple smile. This was natural and easy for her, and she spun around to face him.
“I do, Angelina. I do. I love you. All I wanted was for you to smile,” George told her, standing up and taking a few steps forward in her direction. He was only about ten centimeters away from her face now. “That’s all I wanted.”
“That’s all you wanted?”
“One tiny battle won. That’s good enough for me.”
“You’re right, you know,” Angelina mused. “Fred would want me to be happy.”
Gently, ever so gently, she leaned forward, closing the tiny gap between the two of them. She tilted her head forward and pressed her lips against his for a fleeting second. When she backed away, she smiled again.
It was an adorable moment, he thought. She smiled at him still, her eyes locked on his, and she reached out to hold his hands. It was so different from how she had been before, and he loved seeing her like this now. It would have continued to be a cute, romantic moment in their lives, but George was himself. Always himself.
“And mischief wins the war!”