Chapter 5 : Aftermath
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“Congratulations!” Katie cried and Angelina, who had been standing quite still and lost in her thoughts, was abruptly yanked out of them. When she jumped a bit and turned round, butcher knife in hand, her old friend gaped, “Merlin, don’t stab me!”
Angelina let out a relieved breath and placed the knife back down on the cutting board, a weary sigh coming from her lips. She hadn’t thought that she would be found in her own apartment, nearly a year after Hogwarts celebrating anything when just getting through the day without screaming exhausted her, “Sorry, but you scared me!”
Katie looked a bit concerned and she held up her hands to fend her off, which put her very pregnant belly in display. She and Oliver had promptly married just a few short months after Hogwarts and while it had made her very happy, seeing them blending so well together only left a bitter tang in her own heart, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to! But you’re so jumpy!”
Angelina was unable to tell her that it was still because she assumed that Death Eaters would appear from around every corner with bloodlust in their eyes. The nightmares were enough and the aching loneliness she felt couldn’t be soothed no matter how much she tried, “You shouldn’t sneak up on people!” she said with a laugh.
Katie looked apologetic but Angelina waved it away and went back to slicing meat, her fingers shaking, as they often did now, just a bit. “I’m just so happy for you, Angie. Everything seems to be going in the right direction lately.”
It was a very kind compliment but Angelina found that no matter if she were getting promoted at the Department for Magical Games and Sports and had been offered a chance to join the Holyhead Harpies this summer as replacement Chaser great news.
The thought that she would be alone while she gained more Galleons and went across the country to Ireland to train, if she went, only sent her spiraling into a deep, dark hole, “…You could say that.” Angelina whispered.
There was an uncomfortable silence and while Katie had had to have some physical therapy for her wounded arm, the emotional damage she had suffered had been largely taken care of by Oliver’s constant and loving support.
Alicia and Lee had grown closer this past year as well and Angelina scented that they would be together for quite some time while she remained alone, “Get out of the kitchen for a while and I’ll finish making the chili.”
Angelina reluctantly left the meat aside and was a bit uncomfortable having a party tonight to celebrate how great her life had benefited her when in fact her life had given her nothing. She was so empty inside that she could barely roll out of bed in the morning, “Where are the others? I thought they’d be back by now.”
Katie shook her head a bit before dragging her from the stove and forcing her into a chair at her small dinette. “They had to stop by for a few more things.” She said evasively and Angelina narrowed her eyes on her as she went about flicking her wand at vegetables, pots and various sauces, “you know, Angie I’ve been a bit worried for you.”
“Why?” Angelina asked sharply.
“Don’t get an attitude with me!” Katie warned while briefly turning around and glaring at her, looking very much like a mother. “I’m just concerned, is all. You’re so unhappy, I just want you to take a step forward, find someone to make you happy.” A horrible pang settled into her chest and Angelina shook her head a bit, unable to really find the words that could make this conversation cease. “There’s this really nice bloke that lives next to Oliver and me, I could introduce you.”
Angelina wanted to tell her that she didn’t need to date but in truth it was just that she didn’t want to. “I’d only muck things up.”
Katie let out a slew of curses that had her brow rising, “Angie, for Merlin’s sake! You’re tall, your curvy, your legs go on for miles and you’re probably the nicest person that I know besides Geo—” she hastily covered herself up by saying, “if I were a guy, I’d be all over you.”
Angelina felt her heart do a nasty jolt and she stood up hastily and said. “I’m going to find something else to put on, I can’t celebrate in this old thing,” she lied, as her jeans and t-shirt were completely devoid of burns, tears or lint.
Katie scowled at her. “Put the dress I bought for you on!” she commanded.
Angelina gave her a grateful smile before rushing away and going into her bedroom and slamming the door. Why did she have to bring up George? Every moment with him replayed itself over and over again until her brain felt as if it were going to implode. She missed him terribly but they hadn’t spoken since before Fred’s funeral.
Just then, her eyes welled with tears and she covered her mouth to hold in the silent scream that was bubbling up. She often had nightmares about him and his last smile before she woke up at night, screaming for George, for anyone and finding that, like always, she was left to sob into her pillowcase alone. It was still hard, missing him and so many others.
If someone could simply hold her for a moment she would be fine but Angelina couldn’t depend on her friends when they had their own lives to tend to and she appreciated the comfort that they did give her.
But it just wasn’t the same without George. He would know exactly what to say and what to do for her and she would be able to smile again without feeling her lips ache, he would know exactly how to make her happy.
The sound of her apartment door opening and closing, with voices and laughter flooding inside caused her to snap out of her thoughts. Angelina shakily wandered further into her bedroom to hold her other guests off, spotting a few photographs on her nightstand.
They were mostly of the gang from Hogwarts and she sadly walked up to grab her favorite of them all together after a particularly rowdy practice, their arms around each other.
She traced Fred’s face for a moment before deciding to show Katie, who didn’t have nearly enough things for her and Oliver’s apartment. “Angie, darling where are you?!” It was Alicia and she sounded very happy.
Very in love, even and Angelina called back. “Just a minute!” and spent a long moment or two wiping at her eyes before shrugging out of her clothes, so as not to alarm Katie and putting on the simple blue dress that she had bought for her.
It fit nice and after slipping on a pair of different shoes, she took the picture and made a great show of looking down at her feet as she walked out. “Sorry, I had to make sure this dress of Katie’s actually fit me. She thinks that—”
“Looks good on you, Angie, Katie can do something right at least,” someone said and Angelina’s head jerked up in both surprise and disbelief. George was standing there with a wide, if not weak smile on his face between Oliver and Lee.
Alicia had somehow melted away into the kitchen to grab Katie but Angelina hardly cared that they were obviously waiting for some sort of dramatic reaction. Her fingers were shaking uncontrollably and the photo in her hand slipped and crashed to the floor, though she didn’t hear the sound. “Angie?” someone asked in concern.
It had to be some sort of joke.
She had been so worried about him and the sight of him now brought an unholy urge in her entire being and before she was aware of what she was doing, she was hurriedly crossing the space between them.
Oliver and Lee leapt away just as her arms wrapped around his neck and she kissed him hard on the mouth, over and over again until he gripped her upper arms to fend her off, “Why haven’t I heard from you?!” she screamed.
George didn’t blush very easily but his face was entirely red, his eyes wide with shock and yet, he wasn’t looking at her as an unknown voice spoke up.
“…Uhm, are you going to introduce me or what?” and Angelina jolted out of her emotions to spot a girl standing awkwardly in her hallway, tiny and cute and everything she was not.
Alicia spared her from the most humiliating moment of her life by rushing up and taking her hand. “Sorry about that Natasha, it’s been a while since they’ve seen each other! This is Angelina, we told you about her the last time we were over?” she said hastily.
Blood was rushing to her face and Angelina saw that the rest of her friends avoided her eyes guiltily and she frowned angrily.
They had been seeing him for the past year, on secret get-togethers without her and her eyes flashed to George’s and she saw that he couldn’t look at her, there was a deeply forced smile on his face that made her ache.
It was a betrayal of the worst kind and Angelina felt her face paling and her hands shaking even more and Alicia gave her a squeeze. Though she didn’t want her touching her just now, “Oh, uhm…hi?” the girl said nervously, coming up.
Angelina stared down at the girl and quickly ran her eyes over her pretty form, her immaculate skin and the thick, shortly styled brown hair.
Her eyes were very big, like a doll’s and were a deep, piercing blue, her lips pouty and red and to add salt into her wounds, she was dressed nicely as well and stunk of wealth. “Hi, sorry about that, I’m Angelina Johnson,” she said, offering her hand.
“Natasha Orion, it’s nice to finally meet you, I suppose. From the way Lee was describing you, I expected you to be a lot bigger and decked out in armor,” Natasha said with a laugh while giving her hand an enthusiastic shake. “Oh, dear, why are you trembling? Am I that ugly?”
That caused George to laugh, Oliver as well and Angelina was aware that these were her typical words to break the ice. She quickly let go of her hand and clenched her fists to her side, “Just a little overexcited,” she lied.
Alicia was still holding her other hand and gave it a squeeze again before saying to Natasha happily. “Angie here fought five Death Eaters at once! She’s an amazing fighter!”
“Wow, cool!” Natasha said while staring into Angelina’s face curiously. “And you’re so pretty! I’d never think that you wrestled trolls!”
Angelina felt her lips twitching and she asked dryly. “And who said that I did?” Lee made a nervous sounding cough and she glared over at him. “Git!”
“Sorry, but it’s probably true! I mean, look at you!” Lee cried nervously and she knew that though Natasha couldn’t tell, her long-time friends knew when she was growing a bit of a temper.
It wasn’t nearly as strong as it could have been though. It was more like a numb, constricting ache, more hurt than rage that they had excluded her from their activities, “Tasha, she could pop my head right off.” Oliver said in agreement, chuckling.
Natasha roared with laughter and she walked over to George and touched his arm, which made him look down at her with a fond smile. Angelina’s lungs seemed to squeeze the last bit of air from her body and she yanked her hand from Alicia’s and shakily walked into the kitchen, “Why’re you looking so glum rouge? You look as if you’ve seen a ghost!”
George’s reply was drowned out by whatever Oliver was saying to them, laughing comfortably but Angelina was so upset that she couldn’t even bask in the sound of his voice. Why hadn’t he tried to speak with her?
After all that they’d been through…she hadn’t expected him to distance himself from her so strongly, she knew that everyone grieved differently but it was almost as if he were trying to keep himself from her.
How her friends had been together with him and his new girlfriend without inviting her along to join in only caused her to feel the most painful bitterness. She couldn’t stop the tears from welling in her eyes, her hands shaking so badly that it hurt.
“Angie…?” she flinched a bit at the sound of George’s voice and she didn’t bother to turn around, making herself busy by gathering bowls and spoons. Oliver and Lee wandered into the kitchen at some point and she glanced back at them, “we brought some more food and some butterbeer. Lee was wondering if you wanted to let off some fireworks.”
Lee grinned at her when Angelina turned around to give him a warning look. “I won’t blow anything up this time, I promise!” he said, as he had nearly blown up her parent’s house at her birthday party several months before. “It’s a warm night and you’ve got a great back garden—”
“Do not let off the really fancy ones or the Muggles will think something is up!” Angelina warned, her voice sounding like a croak. Lee gave her a grin before nudging Oliver and whispering something to him as they unloaded their food and drinks onto her dinette.
George was standing awkwardly in her kitchen, having never been in her apartment before and she promptly turned back to gathering dishes. The chili was nearly ready and she swallowed hard as he made a jerking motion toward her, “I wanted to get you something but I didn’t know what you’d like.”
“It doesn’t matter.” Angelina replied crisply. Oliver and Lee were making a lot of noise and she asked angrily, “what are you two nutters doing? Do not break anything!” she warned.
“We didn’t break anything!” Oliver said and he sounded very happy and she felt another bitter taste invading her mouth.
Katie wandered in to say something to him and he roared with laughter, Natasha and Alicia were making conversation in her living room, getting along so well that it was almost a sin.
George was staring at her but Angelina couldn’t bring herself to look at him and when he made a step forward to touch her, she flinched visibly. “…I’ll leave you alone.” He said as he took the hint and walked out, his head down.
Angelina felt her lips trembling and looked over at the others, who were giving her concerned looks and she smiled weakly. “I’m okay, really. I didn’t know he was going to be here, so I might run out of dishes and we’ll have to eat outside, it probably won’t rain.”
Katie was wringing her hands together nervously, as if she expected her to explode but when Angelina simply stared at her unblinkingly, she said. “We’re sorry, we wanted to surprise you.”
“You surprised me all right,” Angelina said tersely.
Oliver bit on his lower lip. “It’s really not that we hadn’t tried—”
Angelina overrode him. “I don’t care. Stop talking about it!” she commanded and the three of them flinched before letting the issue drop. “Could you all move everything outside? We might have to elongate the kitchenette magically but I’ve got some extra chairs in the closet in the living room.”
The command was sharp and Oliver and Lee bustled off with her kitchenette, being careful not to allow the food to topple off.
Katie stared at her for a while longer before sighing and going back into the living room to get the extra chairs and Angelina turned back to gathering the bowls, spoons and briefly checking on the pot of chili. “Need some help with that?” Alicia asked her, coming inside.
Angelina shook her head as she flicked her wand at the objects and watched as they floated in the air, and began to follow her as she made her way out into the back garden.
The night air was warm and the stars alight. It was a very pretty evening but she couldn’t glory in it, “I’m fine.” She said tightly.
“Angie, don’t be so mad at us.” Alicia pleaded worriedly.
“Let it go, Alicia, I don’t want to talk about it.” Angelina snapped angrily and her voice carried a bit, which alerted George and Natasha as they stood in the living room, chatting.
They looked over at her in surprise but she smiled disarmingly and forced herself to look away before flicking her wand and causing the bowls and spoons to situate themselves on the dinette.
Oliver and the others were arranging food but none of them were able to look her in the eye and for a moment she almost asked them to leave her alone. But she loved them all too much and sighed irritably before turning round to get back inside. “George is going to get the chili for you! He thought it might be too heavy.” Natasha said happily as she walked out, looking very cute as she skipped over to the others.
“Oh,” Angelina said softly. She didn’t want to be around him anymore than she had to when it felt as if her heart was breaking into small little pieces so she walked back to the dinette, barely noticing as Katie came out with more chairs and situated them around it, “that was nice of him.”
Natasha looked at her with a quirked brow but she didn’t say anything to it and made herself comfortably besides Alicia, grinning wildly. “He’s a dear, isn’t he, Licia?”
Angelina felt her eyes welling with tears and wondered who this girl was in the first place to have made George so happy in the past year. Of course, it was not a surprise after years and years of watching him with other girls but the pain didn’t ease when she’d needed him so badly for her own comfort, wanting to make him smile for herself as well.
The fact that she couldn’t and would never be able to be with him caused her breath to catch raggedly before she gathered herself and sat down next to Katie, who took her hand so she could rub her stomach for her.
“Is the baby kicking?” Angelina asked in delight as she felt little feet pushing against her palm as if it were dying to be freed.
Katie nodded in annoyance, her brow furrowed. “I found out that I’m having more than one, actually and these little beasts are ripping my insides apart.” She complained and Oliver laughed beside her.
Angelina was very surprised and she asked excitedly. “You’re having twins? That’s amazing news!” she cried, hugging her and briefly forgetting about her anger. “Have you found out what you’re having?”
Oliver snorted disbelievingly. ‘There’s no way of knowing that!”
“Yes there is. Muggles have all sorts of things that allow you to know what sex your baby will be and they can take pictures from inside the womb.” Angelina said knowingly and Oliver and Katie looked very stunned, even frightened. “My mum told me all about it, she’s Muggle-born.”
Natasha looked unimpressed and Angelina shot her a look underneath her lashes, wondering if she were some pureblood who had previously supported Voldemort, like the Malfoy’s. Though from what she had heard, Lucius Malfoy was in St. Mungo’s for spell damage to his brain and then when he recovered enough, he would be sent to Azkaban.
Angelina hadn't heard much more but she figured that there was nothing no one could do, even though his wife and son had been pardoned by the Ministry for what little they had done. She had only heard these little details from the Daily Prophet, as they were keeping tabs on any family, friends or business associates that had been involved with either Voldemort or his followers.
“So you’re Muggle-born…?” Natasha asked her curiously, bringing her back into the conversation and Angelina blinked her thoughts away.
“No, I’m half-blood. My father is a pureblood,” Angelina replied with a slight smile as she said to the others, “he told me the other day that he made the greatest decision in marrying my mum, he said that no one else can punch him as good.”
Alicia roared with laughter while Natasha politely smiled back, looking a bit confused by the flow of the conversation. “Your parents are so stuffy! I can’t imagine that!”
Angelina knew that it was very true but she had learned that the two of them had arrived at the Battle of Hogwarts sometime before sunrise and had fought and saved various people. She was very proud of them but the aftermath of what might have been if they had lost her caused them to be rather overprotective now, expecting an owl at least three times a day and constant visits to check up on her.
While it was comforting, it was also stifling and Angelina tried hard not to hurt their feelings and kept it to herself, knowing how lucky she was just to have them. “I can’t imagine it either, but they make it work somehow.”
“Well, at least some people do.” Alicia said bitterly and Angelina knew that she was referring to how Seamus had broken up with her some months after the War to elope with that Abbott girl. She had never gone into detail about why things hadn’t worked out between them but Angelina had a feeling that it had been their age differences and whatever pain that had marked them both, “though I still can’t see your mum throwing a punch.”
“Me neither but my dad swears that she can! When she was in labor with me, he claims to this day that she punched him right in the eye.” Angelina said with a weak laugh. “And after they found out about me being a girl, he also claims that she kicked him in the groin for wishing I was a boy.”
Katie was laughing so hard that tears were streaming down her face and Oliver was rubbing her stomach, Angelina absently patting it as well. “Do you really think that Muggles have a way of looking inside me? It sounds scary!”
“Sounds like a fantasy,” Oliver corrected and she grinned.
Lee sounded very amazed and rubbed his chin a bit as if he had come up with the idea and she was able to spot his two missing fingers easily. “Amazing junk that those Muggles come up with,” he said with a grin. “Maybe they’ll tell you how fat they’ll be, since Katie weighs a ton.”
Katie glowered at him. “Shut up!”
Angelina laughed a bit and a slight distraction came in the form of George maneuvering the large pot of chili and various drinks with his wand, looking grim. “Do you need help with that?” Oliver asked in alarm.
“Nah, if my mum can do it with eight of us, then I can do it too.” George said distractedly and Angelina felt a small ripple go among the group as he had counted Fred among the members of his family that were still alive.
Natasha looked a bit confused by the silence that fell but she ended up standing to help George, her wand drawn and a grin on her face. “You do too much, rouge,” she teased as they managed to get everything on the magically elongated table, the weight of all the food and drinks threatening to make it cave.
Angelina frowned at the pet name that she had given him but her limited French told her that rouge meant red and the apparent closeness between them made her feel all the more miserable. “You didn’t have to do that.” She said to George shortly.
“It’s the least I could do, Angie,” George said while avoiding her eyes and sitting beside his girlfriend and fidgeting. When an awkward silence fell, he demanded, “so? Who’s going to fill my bowl? I’m starved!”
Katie did it for Angelina, who couldn’t bring her hands to stop shaking and ladled out heavy helpings for everyone around. Butterbeer, chips and various other treats were rotated around but Angelina merely played with her food until her friend snapped, “Eat! You’ll lose that delicious figure if you don’t stuff yourself!”
Lee was giving her a worried look but he asked Katie suspiciously. “And why would you be concerned with her figure?”
“Haven’t you looked at her?” Katie asked dryly.
Oliver snorted into his food as Natasha asked curiously. “You all seem to know each other really well. How long have you all been friends?” there was a frown on her face as she glanced at Angelina though and she sent her a thin smile.
“Since Hogwarts,” George said after swallowing his food and holding out his bowl for Katie to refill for him, which she did with a roll of her eyes. “I met Alicia and Angie on the Express, Lee was my dorm mate and Oliver was our Quidditch captain for a while and Katie joined later on,”
Natasha looked down at Angelina and then back at George with a suspicious frown. “You never told me you met Angelina on the train! Why didn’t you tell me? That’s such a long time to be friends, I’m jealous! I didn’t have any friends until second year! Everyone said I talked too much.” She laughed.
George didn’t answer her and Angelina gave him a hurt expression before digging into her food before Alicia said happily. “Angie never smiled, we all had to gang bang her,” Lee spluttered his drink all over his lap, “Fred said—”
The name caused them all to stiffen a bit and Angelina shot a look at George to see that his hand had stilled on his drink. “Fred said what?” he asked after a while.
Alicia shook her head and said with a very weak smile. “Ah, nothing. But it was really fun getting to run my hands all over Angie though,” she gave Angelina a cocky grin that had her smile for the first time without it hurting too badly. “Oh, the memories…”
Natasha looked a bit uncomfortable but she waved it away as they continued to tease and joke, Angelina so accustomed to it that she barely interrupted them. “You all are so strange! Rouge, why didn’t you tell me that your friends were so strange when they got together?”
“You couldn’t tell when you met them a few months ago?” George asked in surprise and she gave him a playful nudge with her arm before he shrugged. “We’re all just used to each other, I suppose. That sort of thing happens when you go swimming naked in the Black Lake. And other places…”
Katie spluttered at the memory but Oliver was looking very envious of this as he demanded with a heated look. “You all went without me lately?” he asked and George shook his head, laughing a little. “Merlin, it’s been ages since we did something like that. We should do it again sometime,”
Angelina rolled her eyes and shuddered. “I’d rather not.”
Lee waved his spoon at her, sending beans and meat flying in all directions. “You finally went swimming naked but you didn’t go with us! George here was the only one who got to see the goods, which is totally unfair!” George shot him a dark look and he coughed, “I mean, I might have seen a glimpse of that mole you got down by you—”
“Would you shut up?” Angelina cried embarrassingly as Natasha shot George a look from underneath her lashes. She had quite forgotten about that time over the past year, “and I don’t have any moles!”
Lee pursed his lips and Alicia opened her mouth to say something to that, as she had seen her naked a few times when they’d been younger but Katie struck up a completely different conversation and asked Natasha, “So, how is your boutique doing?”
Angelina felt her irritation with life spiking a bit but she listened only marginally as the girl went on about a boutique that she owned in Diagon Alley with her younger sister. It was a very lucrative business that sold naughty lingerie.
George had wandered into the shop apparently to buy some for Lee, as their friend had lost some sort of bet and they’d struck up a funny conversation and had been dating ever since. And while she tried not to let it depress her, it was hard not to.
Natasha was bright and bubbly, supportive and kind, with a decent love for jokes and was obviously hinting at moving in with George sometime later this year.
“That’s great news for you two! I hadn’t thought that George would ever settle down.” Alicia said with a slightly forced smile as George smiled thinly. “It seems like everyone is getting hitched or hooking up lately.”
Lee nodded as he gave her a cheeky grin that made her blush and smack his shoulder in a warning way. “Angie, why aren’t you showing off that gorgeous figure to some lucky bloke?” he asked curiously and she gave him a startled look before she shook her head. “Ah, not wanting to get attached before you go to Ireland, I bet.”
George placed his spoon down abruptly and he turned and stared at her, a hurt look coming across his face before he quickly reeled it in. “So you’re leaving m—” hastily he covered up his words and asked with a false smirk, “so you’re taking the offer to join the Holyhead's?”
“I haven’t really decided.” Angelina said while her brows shot up warily, as he hadn’t spoken to her in so long to really care where she went. “It might be good for me, change of pace and everything.”
Katie looked relieved that she was trying but Oliver was frowning a bit as he probably recalled his experiences as reserve Keeper. “You’ll have to take loads of pictures for us, Angie.” She sent him a slight smirk, “oh, and George, have you told her about how you’ve expanded the shop?”
Angelina blinked a bit at the tears that were threatening to fall and hastily dabbed at the corner of her eyes, trying to appear overwhelmed with happiness.
Katie put more chili in her bowl with a frown, giving her a stern look when she just stared at her, “…No, he hasn’t said a word.”
George looked very uncomfortable but he smiled faintly as Natasha placed her hand on his arm and gave him an encouraging smile. “Well, I was talking with Perce a while back and he said that it would be great if I expanded the shop to some places in Scotland and Ireland, maybe Germany. Business is going so well that I’ve got a lot of offers for spreading mischief.” He said with a ghost of a smirk.
“That’s amazing news, George, I’m happy for you.” Angelina said truthfully while wondering why he couldn’t quite look at her anymore without frowning. Her heart started to pain her a bit but she forced herself to eat more of her food, “I’ll have to stop by and see some of your new products.”
It was said absently and though she would want to very badly, George’s face hardened a bit and the offer was not taken with a delighted expression. Lee instantly covered up the nasty silence and regaled Natasha with battle stories, making her grimace and gasp at the right moments as he talked about how he had lost his fingers and how he had been saved by a very pretty girl.
Alicia of course rolled her eyes during this but Angelina didn’t join in on the conversation, it was hard to let Hogwarts go. Images swam through her mind as her friends talked and joked with one another and if this had started out as a party for her, it was quickly becoming a party for George and Natasha, who were apparently so happy together that nothing could tear them apart.
They touched and whispered to one another, made each other smile when they thought no one was looking and Angelina felt a crushing blow each and every time until she was more than relieved when the food was gone.
Alicia had collapsed in a stupor on Lee’s shoulder, complaining loudly about how fat she would be and making him laugh. Katie was yawning but Oliver proposed, “Angie would you like us to let off some fireworks? It is your party after all. You got a raise, might be going to Ireland to be an amazing Chaser,” he tried to say confidently.
The expression on her face must have been very downtrodden because Katie gave her a very worried look before Lee could get up. “I don’t think you touching fireworks is a good idea!” she said.
Lee pouted. “But I won’t blow anything up!”
Angelina stood and started gathering plates, her hands shaking again but she tried to appear calm as she said. “Go on, then. It won’t be a bother, just don’t use the fancy ones! Did you get them from the joke shop?” she asked Lee curiously.
“For my birthday. George loves me after all,” Lee said dramatically and George snorted doubtfully. “I’ll keep it simple, Angie. Don’t wanna frighten the Muggles.”
Natasha was barely able to hold in her sneer but Angelina narrowed her eyes on her before gathering more bowls and utensils. “I’ll help you out, Lee!” she said to her friend, rushing out of her chair and practically pouncing on him.
Alicia laughed. “She’s rather lively, isn’t she?”
Angelina said nothing, as the comment was directed at her and made her way back into her flat, struggling just a little.
When she walked back inside, she dumped everything into the sink and started the water, adding a bit of liquid soap and losing herself in the continuous scrubbing, rubbing and scraping, determined to get away from George and the others.
The force of her loneliness was only made worse as she heard their laughter and chatter, the night being riddled with lights and booms from the fireworks that Lee had just lit. Not for her, but for that girl and George.
Bitterness welled up and she dabbed at her eyes with her wrist before scrubbing the last plate, her fingers shaking terribly, “Why do you always insist on doing too much?” George’s voice asked irritably from behind her.
Angelina turned in surprise and the wet plate slipped from her shaking hands and crashed to the floor, though she couldn’t hear the sound. It was like a distant echo from someone else’s mind, “What do you want?” the question was harsher than she had intended and his face hardened.
“Are you going to get that up?” George asked instead of replying to the question right away.
“It’s okay where it’s at,” Angelina said sharply, turning away and letting the water out of the sink and watching as the dirt and bits of food started to vanish. She wished that she could do the same, “what do you want, George?”
George laughed bitterly and she glanced over her shoulder to see that he was staring at her loose hair, as she had given up on her braids quite some time ago. “I didn’t know your hair was naturally curly, it’s really cute.” Angelina ignored the compliment and simply eyed him coldly. “Angie, I’m here, what else do you want out of me?”
“I want some sort of explanation on why I haven’t seen you. And why you’re being so distant with me, you’ve never been that way before unless something was really bothering you, Georgia,” Angelina said with a pointed look. The old nickname caused an annoyed flush to his cheeks and she took him in a bit more, noting the bags under his eyes and his severely cut red hair. “You look like Percy,” she said after a moment, “something must be wrong.”
George flinched a bit and then glared at her, completely disarmed at how easily she had almost made him smile. “Don’t mention Perce, Angie.”
Angelina was instantly concerned. “Why the hell not? I haven’t spoken to him at the Ministry lately,” though she probably hadn’t been paying attention, she tended to simply slouch her way in and out of work. And on the few times that she had paid attention to Percy, he had seemed distant, depressed and lost in his own thoughts and she hadn't wanted to disturb him, “Is something wrong with him?”
“He’s run off,” George said uneasily after a while and it was apparent that he hadn’t shared this information with anyone else and she stared at him in horror, a million questions bubbling inside of her before he explained. “A few days ago, he quit his job and ran off to only Merlin knows where.”
“Have you all looked for him? Told everyone?” Angelina asked in alarm.
George nodded and he made a jerking motion towards her but stopped himself, as if he were afraid to even touch her. “Charlie is on the hunt for him, Bill is doing his best at Gringotts but Percy is nowhere to be found, it’s almost as if he’s vanished off the face of the earth.”
Angelina would have never expected something like this from the Percy that she had briefly known at Hogwarts and she felt her heart hurting for his family. “I’m so sorry, Georgie. You should have told me! I would have come and helped you all search for him, you know that I would have.”
George ignored the declaration by snorting under his breath and she felt her chest constrict a bit at the brimming anger around him. It seemed as though it were settling on her shoulders, “We don’t need your help, don’t you do enough already? The promotion, this flat, going to Ireland—”
“I haven’t decided if I should go or not.” Angelina interrupted firmly, frowning at him for his nerve to sound upset. “Why would you even care where I go? We haven’t spoken since—”
The words wouldn’t come out and George said it for her, almost as if he were spitting on her own future grave. “Since before Freddie’s funeral, I know. But I did it on purpose.” That must not have been something he had meant to say because he cursed hotly under his breath.
“Why?” Angelina asked him painfully. “George—”
“We’re looking for Percy. He was never right after Fred died, he was the last person to be with him other than Harry and the others,” George said and his lips thinned a bit as his eyes flicked to hers, as if he were dying to blame her for something.
Angelina waited for him to explode, as he always did when he was trying to hold his emotions in but when nothing happened, she let it fall. “How are you handling all of this with Natasha? She must be just as upset about everything.”
George looked surprised that she had brought his girlfriend up but he folded his arms and briefly closed his eyes. “I don’t talk about my family with her, they don’t really—” Angelina had a feeling that he meant to say that his family didn’t care for her much and she was confused as to why they wouldn’t, though there was something about her that rankled. “Bill says she’s a gold digger. Ron says that she’s a snob and reminds him of a female Malfoy.”
“Why would he say that?” Angelina asked gently.
“Because of the look she gave Hermione after she found out she was Muggle-born. She was all politeness and sugar but you could tell that she was faking it,” George muttered and his brow furrowed. “I like her, we get along and she doesn’t ask too many questions or tries to butt in.”
Angelina swallowed hard for a moment before saying with a concerned frown. “That sounds like an empty relationship,” and he glared at her. “But I have no business asking about her or your feelings for her, I’m not your ex or some girl you had a fling with.”
George didn’t appreciate the slight reprimand and he gave a crude sounding laugh that made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. “I would never sleep with you.”
“…Well, that’s good to know.” Angelina shot back, trying not to allow the words to hurt her as much as they were meant to. “We’ve always just been…like brother and sister.”
“You could say that. I relied on you so much in school,” George replied sardonically and Angelina was briefly surprised by this, “the best part of my day.” He said more to himself than to her and she felt an uncomfortable flush spreading to her cheeks.
Angelina turned away from him for a moment to gather her breathing, longing to tell him how hard it had been not to have him by her side.
Something told her not to say so as rampant images of how lost and faded he had been after the battle infested her brain, “I’m glad that you think so.”
“Thought so.” George corrected dryly. “So, are you seeing anyone?”
“No.” Angelina replied shortly. It was impossible to form a relationship with anyone when she was so broken on the inside and only wanted one man, a man that stood with her now that she was forbidden to touch, “…there’s no one.”
George let out a sigh and she thought that it sounded oddly relieved before he abruptly went on in a supposedly calm tone. “Why not? You are gorgeous.”
Angelina looked back at him and quirked her brow. “So you say,” George made a motion to touch her but his hand fell short, “but I can’t be with anyone the way that I am now. There’s too much to say and not enough ears to go round.”
“You could just get an Extendable Ear,” George suggested gently but when this failed to make her smile, he went on with a faded grin. “Remember after I saw you naked in the Black Lake and you told me all sorts of naughty things that you did with your boyfriend?”
Angelina’s cheeks flamed and she recalled that while he had finally convinced her to go swimming with him, he had practically bullied her into getting naked.It had been fun, embarrassing but she had had one of her wildest fantasies come to life because that memory of George Weasley soaking wet with not a stich on still made her giggle, if she could find the time to.
The image struck her just now and she corrected hastily. “You forced the answers out of me! You were tickling me!” it had left them both with bruised skin though and because Angelina had gotten mad at him for taking a feel out of her butt, it had resulted in him alone getting a black eye.
George grinned widely and ran his hand over his chin flirtatiously. “And what a tickle fight that was, eh? I still blush when I think about how much fun it would have been to make you wet everywhere.”
“Prat!” Angelina said, flushing furiously and tossing a towel at him. He dodged it easily and held up his hands to fend her off, “Merlin, you’re such a pervert, I’ve forgotten.” She said warily. “And anyway, I was dating someone.”
“Someone that always left you hanging, if you know what I mean. Wouldn’t have had to worry about that with me,” George said suggestively and she blushed again. The sight caused him to roar with laughter, the first real laugh that she had heard from him all night. “Do you even look at yourself naked, Angie?”
“I do all the time, my reflection swoons.” Angelina shot back and he laughed again before he began to choke and she instantly went to him and patted his back roughly. “Merlin, would you breathe?”
George had tears in his eyes and he gripped her hand as she rested it worriedly on his arm and squeezed it tightly. “I’m okay, I’ve missed you so much.” He said after a moment and Angelina felt her heart stutter to life, “Katie and the others have been worried about you. They wanted me to show up and give you sweet dreams.”
Angelina’s smile sobered a little and she settled herself next to him and began nudging his arm until he returned the playful action. “Why haven’t you seen me before? I’ve been worried sick about you.”
“…Do we have to talk about that just now? Come on, Angie, make me laugh again. Tell me that you want to get naked with me,” George said in her ear and she rolled her eyes. “No? My ego just took a dive.”
Angelina angled her face to retort that he didn’t have much of an ego to begin with when she saw the expression on his face. There was so much regret in his eyes that it made her wish that she could read his mind, “What’s the matter Georgia?” For a moment it appeared as if he would say something to her but instead, he pressed his forehead against her own in that familiar way that she had been without for so long.
“Even if I were dating someone, you’d still be my main guy, George. I’m a wreck without you, I don’t know what I’d do without you.” She said with a faint smile.
His lips turned up in a cheeky grin and she felt him pressing closer, the feel of his lips nearly touching her own when they heard a loud cough.
“I rather like the sound of that name,” Katie said as they broke apart, Angelina moving as far from him as she could, unsettled, “Georgia…I was going to name one of the babies after Fred but I rather like having a girl named Georgia,”
George was looking as unsettled as Angelina and he gave her a shamefaced look before he made some sort of excuse and walked out. Katie watched him leave and then shot her a sly grin, “Trying to steal him away from that insufferable brat?”
“You don’t like her?” Angelina asked in surprise. “Why didn’t any of you tell me that you had seen him over the past year?” she demanded angrily, all of her hurt coming out. Katie gave her a soft smile and touched her arm.
“We didn’t think that you were ready to see each other. He’s been such a mess and he made Oliver and I swear not to bring you to him while he was…indisposed,” Katie said as some distant memory struck her.
“You’ve been so down, Angie and we wanted to really give you a boost but I don’t think any of us would have thought he’d literally melt into the ground.”
Angelina snorted in disbelief and gave her an irritated glance but was unable to stay angry with any of them. Talking to George for just a while had left her feeling as if she could fly, “I leapt at him and snogged him. He did not melt!”
Katie walked up to her and smacked her on the hip with her wand as if she had said something very naughty.
Angelina let out a reluctant laugh, “Oh, yes he did. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him turn that red and he kissed you back. Which is why that spoiled little rich girl interrupted.”
“Katie, really?” Angelina asked in annoyance.
Her friend threw up her arms in a very childish manner and said sourly. “Oh, Angie, she’s horrid. She’s so bubbly and perfect!” she emphasized in a girlish voice.
“You all seem to like her just fine to me,” Angelina said sourly and Katie snorted at the tone of jealousy in her voice. “I mean, you’re all fawning over her!”
“Fawning? We’re trying not to scream. I swear— she doesn’t play Quidditch, she doesn’t know anything about George really other than what he’s told her and she doesn’t show any real sympathy for Fred,” Katie sounded most upset about this. “And I think she’s a Muggle hater.”
Angelina was worried about all of these things as well but she was still too hurt by George’s arrival and seeing them together so happily to really worry. “I’m sure they’ll grow closer and that everything will be solved,”
Katie groaned in irritation. “He wants you, not her. All you have to do is fuck him.”
Angelina gaped at her. “Katie!”
“It’s true! Merlin, just pounce on him, rip his clothes off and do all the things you’ve been dying to do with him since we were kids.” Katie said dramatically and Angelina rolled her eyes while trying very hard not to laugh out loud.
“I couldn’t do something like that, Katie. My God, what sort of monster are you?” Angelina asked in alarm before saying worriedly, “George doesn’t want me around him, I can tell. Whatever the issue is, I want him to tell me. I won’t barge in on his life, not after so long,” she said firmly and Katie snorted.
After a moment, Lee stumbled back inside and Angelina roared with laughter at the sight of his bald head and the patches on his clothes. “Blew up your tree in the back, didn’t mean to. God, I think I might have those please- men over here in a minute.”
Angelina felt a bolt of irritation and fondness. “You mean the police you git!” she said while Alicia rushed inside with Natasha, Oliver and George following in concern.She could hear the distant sirens of the police and even a fire truck and she wondered how much of her back garden was demolished and how many of her neighbors they had scared. “Lee, I swear to Merlin, I’ll skin you alive!”
“Don’t, cause I know you mean it!” Lee said with a horrified look.
Angelina ran a hand down her face before saying sharply to everyone. “Wands away, do not mention any wizard things and for all that is holy, Alicia, will you go get some towels to clean him up? I’ll grow your hair back for you later,” she promised to Lee before smoothing down her dress and flipping her hair over her shoulder.
Natasha looked a bit alarmed but a bit amused as she put her wand away. “So these are Muggle people coming?” she asked to George. Angelina shot her a dark look from under her lashes, “why should we be afraid of them?”
“We’re not striking a fight with them.” Angelina said firmly just as the doorbell rang and she started to pass them by. As she moved past George, she felt his fingers grip her wrist in the slightest of touches and the heat she got from them carried her through the most exhausting interrogation of her life.
“Angie, I am so sorry for this!” Lee said for about the millionth time as he ran his hand over his short brown hair that she had regrown for him.
The police had come over and had given her a hefty fine after she had told them that she and her friends had started a bonfire. Which had gotten out of hand and with all of her friends gawping and whispering, they’d also thought they’d been on drugs.
“Lee, its okay. I’ll pay the fine, you’ll get cleaned up and we’ll have to do this again.” Angelina said while she stood with them all near the door, waving them off.
Katie was rubbing her belly and she said with a laugh. “If I’m having another girl, Lee, I’ll name her after you for the sheer delight of knowing that you were bald.” Lee shot her a look.
Oliver laughed uneasily. “You already said you were naming one after George!”
Angelina smiled a bit as George tried to smirk smugly but when he caught her eyes, his entire face turned a bit pink and he hastily looked away.
Natasha looked a bit sour but she had a feeling that the brush with Muggles wasn’t sitting well on her stomach, “If you do, know that I was the one that helped you out. Georgia is a lovely name.”
“Angie,” George said wearily.
She ignored him by hugging Alicia and Lee, who tried to kiss her and then stretching upwards a bit to hug Oliver. Katie was harder to wrap her arms around but she eventually managed before seeing them out the door, where they would walk outside, find a dark place and Disapparate home, “…It was nice meeting you.” Angelina now said after they were gone to Natasha.
“Yeah, this was fun.” Natasha said with a friendly smile that never quite reached her eyes and Angelina tried very hard not to frown. For George’s sake, she smiled, shook the girl’s hand and then gave him a jerky nod of farewell, “have a nice night. Sorry about the mess.”
Angelina waved it away absently as George stared at her, looking indecisive and angry. “Its not a problem, I’ll clean it all up.” Natasha looked relieved before tugging on George’s arm and she said with a false smile. “…I hope to see you again. Goodnight,”
George’s entire frame flinched and he stared at her in disbelief, as if she had said something incredibly rude. “Goodnight Angie,” he said in return and whatever expression Natasha saw on his face when she looked away must have alarmed her because she coughed impatiently, “I’ll see you around.”
“All right,” Angelina said with a faint smile in his direction. George tried to stall for just a moment longer but Natasha pulled at his arm and he was forced to turn away from her and she walked with them to the door for a moment before letting them go. “Keep me updated, Georgia!”
A flinch tore across George’s back but he waved back at her and she was surprised to see that his eyes were a bit red. It took all of her power not to run after him. But she forced herself to let him go, Natasha’s arm locked with his possessively as she talked and distracted him from her and Angelina inhaled a bit before closing the door.
Emptiness greeted her and it took more than an hour for her to clean up the mess that everyone had made of her apartment but the work gave her something to do. It took her mind briefly off of George and she tried hard not to cry as the night progressed and the last of the trash was put away and with nothing more to do, she quickly showered, dressed in her night clothes and prepared for nightmares.
Angelina had barely been asleep for thirty minutes when she heard someone knocking at her door, the sound haunting and unfamiliar in her weary state. Thinking that it might be the police or a neighbor coming to complain about how much noise she had made during the night, she reluctantly rolled from bed and wandered back to the living room, down her hallway and said, “I’m coming, hold on a moment, would you?”
Heaving a sigh, she smoothed out her hair before opening the door and finding George standing there, looking as if he had been torn apart. “Angie, let me in.” He said desperately, “I’m a wreck without you.” Angelina barely became aware of moving aside, feeling the most unbearable ache as his eyes briefly flicked to hers.
Here it is, my favorite chapter in the whole story! Thanks for reading and please leave a review if you like! Much love of course.
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