Chapter 16 : Chapter 16: Gone
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Kate woke up early in the morning to find her dress strewn across the floor of the familiar carpeting of George’s bedroom. The sum peeked through the curtains at her, washing over her skin like a warm breeze. Faint snoring caught her attention.
George’s hair was a tumbled mess against his pillow. The bruise around his noise was slightly purple, but he still looked like himself all the same. Kate sighed and forced herself out of the bed despite her small hangover. She gathered her shoes and clothing as quietly as she could. Each time George rolled over or moved, she felt her heart sink inside of her chest. Fear enveloped her.
‘How could you be so stupid?’ she thought to herself. ‘Having a one night stand with anyone! Even someone you love! Disgusting.’
Mrs. Weasley was all smiles at the Burrow even though Kate suspected the woman knew exactly what had transpired the previous evening.
“So, Ron and Hermione have left for France. She said she’ll tell you all about it when they get home,” the woman babbled excitedly as she set a cup of tea in front of the girl, whose eyes were ashamed and heavy.
“That’s lovely, really,” Kate murmured as enthusiastically as she could. Mr. Weasley ran her fingers through the girl’s untidy bun, causing all of her hair to fall.
“And your evening… I feel awful,” Mrs. Weasley admitted. “Neville punching George like that! Hmph! You were the maid of honor. It’s almost as bad as ruining Hermione’s day for her. It’s a privilege and an honor to be chosen to stand with your friend! And for a young man to ruin it…”
“Come off it, Mum,” she whispered. “It may have been about a year ago, but we’re all still children inside… A few of us anyways. He was just jealous.”
Mrs. Weasley smiled at her, and offered her a plate of fresh eggs. The girl took without argument, knowing how skinny the Weasley mother thought her to be.
“How was your evening after all the Merlin forsaken drama?” Mrs. Weasley asked, and Kate’s cheeks burned red. “After all, you didn’t come home last night. Arthur and I were very worried, you know! Especially with how much you decided to drink after that little scene!”
Kate took a long, deep breath, and refusing to lie to the one woman who had mothered her, she whispered wit ha voice full of shame, “I was with George last night.”
Against all of her expectations, Mrs. Weasley continued to smile.
“I knew it! I told Arthur we shouldn’t worry so. George would never let you get hurt. We know that… He’d stand in front of a spell for you, he would.”
Fred stared at her from across the bench. His smile was warm.
“Been a long time, Kate,” he joked in his own way, knowing damn well it wasn’t funny to the young lady at all.
“You think everything’s a joke. You and you’re brother,” she whispered in disbelief.
“Maybe it’s better to think of everything as a joke than to run around a feeling less git forever,” he argued.
Kate watched as he ran his ringers through his own hair. He let out a deep breath.
“He’s afraid for it to become anything real, you know,” Fred explained after a few seconds of silence.
“Real?” Kate raised her eyebrow, giving herself a rather quizzical look.
“You two,” he said matter-of-factly. “He feels wrong for what he did to Angelina. He loves you, but he can’t let himself let her go… Because of me.” His smile melted into a soft frown, and his eyes looked at her apologetically. “I want him to be with you, Kate. You’re right for each other… But he can’t let go of anything because of me… You may have to let him go.”
Kate stood up, dizziness filling her head. She fell to her knees almost instantly, tears falling down her face. Fred kneeled down beside her.
“But you’ll always have a piece of him…” He pointed to her chest, then down to her stomach. “In here, and there.”
Kate’s mouth fell, and she nearly screamed out, “What the hell do you mean?”
Fred just smiled and held her as she cried, rocking her back and forth, as he stroked her hair.
“But,” he whispered into the crying girl’s hair, “his heart may change… Soon. Angelina’s a bit much for him to handle. He likes your simplicity. He likes your kindness, even when you’re angry or you can’t stand to be around him. He loves you… And once he has the closure he needs, he will let her go… And he will be with you.”
“He doesn’t love me the way he loves her, obviously…” Kate whispered and trailed off. “How can you be so sure his heart will change? And when it does, how do I know… How do YOU know… We’ll be together for the rest of our days?”
Fred smiled and kissed her forehead, then held her closer still.
“Because I know.”
They heard a voice calling faintly, “Kate?’ The room began to shake. “Kate? Kate?”
“He’s trying to wake you up,” Fred laughed.
The girl hugged him tighter.
“Just in case this was… You… And not only a dream… I miss you… So much.”
She looked up at George, who’s smile wasn’t sincere.
“Good morning,” he whispered before leaning in closer to her face. Kate put two fingers against his pursed lips and shook her head.
He sat up, and stared down at his feet.
“I’ve been thinking a lot… About Ang lately…”
Kate shrugged and sat up in her bed. She held back the tears as she hugged him.
“I know you feel awful for what you did to her. It’s okay.”
His arms were tight around her. Their eyes met, and against what had happened, he kissed her anyway.
“You know I’ll always love you?” he whispered, his voice harsh and gritty. It was as if even he knew it was wrong.
Angelina had been more polite, knowing she had won, when she would see Kate working in the shop. They would talk and laugh, and Kate could see why the twins would like her. She was all-together a silly person, and they were the silliest of them all. She enjoyed Quidditch and the jokes George had to tell, unlike Kate, who only liked playing the games and had heard all of the jokes.
She realized she talked to Angelina more than her own boss, but she was thankful. It kept her from any real heartache.
It was nearly two months later, but Angelina was as friendly as ever.
“Kate!” the woman exclaimed excitedly as she entered the shop with George. “Oliver’s sent us tickets to watch the Holyhead Harpies! But it’s only going to be Katie Bell and I… But there’s three tickets! Would you like to join us?”
Kate looked to George, and asked, “But… What about…?”
“Don’t be silly! This is girls’ only, and I couldn’t think of anyone else to go with us!”
Kate smiled, as fake but convincing as she could, and accepted the offer. The woman jumped in place.
“I’ve got to go tell Katie we’ve our third girl!” She kissed George and bid him goodbye before leaving the shop.
The silence was awkward and the tension was thick between the two of them. George finally cleared his throat.
“You really don’t have to go, you know,” he muttered. Kate shrugged her shoulders.
“Whatever makes her happy. We’ve pretty much agreed that’s all we’re about, haven’t we? Keeping Ang happy. I gave you to her. Might as well get a free Quidditch game out of it.”
It was the most they had spoken since the wedding.
“How do you know that’s what we’re all about?” he asked. He seemed offended. Kate didn’t care.
“You felt guilty about leaving her for someone you loved. And now, you’re with her and I’m positively miserable. Life works that way.”
“I don’t love her like I love you.”
“That’s what Fred said.” Before she could stop herself, the sentence was hanging in the air. Her eyes got wide, and she stared at her employer. His mouth had fallen open.
“What do you mean that’s what Fred said?” His voice was angry. “He’s been dead a while, unless you haven’t noticed.”
“Don’t get your knickers in a bunch,” the girl whispered. “It was just a dream… So he was probably saying what I wanted him to say anyways.”
George’s face was red. He looked as if he might scream.
“Why didn’t you talk to me about this? HOW COULD YOU KEEP THIS FROM ME?”
Kate whispered, “I thought it would hurt you.” She found herself being thankful she was behind the counter. He was scaring her.
“HE WAS THE ONLY PERSON I EVER TRULY HAD IN THIS WORLD, YOU GIT! YOU ARESE! YOU SECRET-KEEPING BITCH!” This was a side of George Kate had never witnessed, and she wished to herself it would be the only time she saw it. She felt the warm tears on her cheeks. He neared the counter, his voice never faltering. “YOU LEFT ME, REMEMBER? SIX MONTHS! NOT AN OWL, NOT A VISIT, NOT ANYTHING! I WAS LEFT TO DEAL WITH THE DEATH OF FRED BY MYSELF, THE ONLY PERSON WHO WOULD HAVE UNDERSTOOD GONE! THE ONLY PERSON I TRUSTED, GONE! THEN COMES ANGELINA, WHO LOVED HIM, WHO KNEW HIM, WHO WANTED NOTHING MORE THAN A SHOULDER TO CRY ON! AND I BECAME THAT SHOULDER…” He finally stopped yelling and grabbed her wrist from across the counter. His voice was now a harsh whisper. “I gave up something good I had because you came back into my life… You turned up and I knew how much I truly loved you…”
“George, you’re hurting me…”
“I betrayed her because of you… Why did you come back? WHY COULDN’T YOU HAVE STAYED AWAY?”
He held onto her wrist, forcing her to accompany him to the storage room.
“I know you’re angry,” Kate cried. “That’s why I told you it was okay. I know I cocked up, George. Isn’t that obvious? Do you think I would ever really let you go?”
“Then you with that prat Neville… That… That ass.” He turned back to her. “Him? What was so good about him? Why him?” He let out a breath and let go of her, then sat on a box. “You said you loved him.”
“Not the way I loved you.”
“Loved?” he asked.
“I loved you a lot less then,” she answered. “I was angry and bitter, but it was my fault.”
George sat quietly and stared at her, before finally stating, “Killing those men couldn’t have been the only reason you left.”
Kate’s mouth fell open, and she looked up to the ceiling, seeing past it, right to Fred in heaven. She let out a deep breath.
“I was ashamed… And guilty.”
“I said besides killing those men.”
“THIS ISN’T ABOUT THEM!” she yelled, then smacked a hand over her mouth. He watched her pace in the small room. “I was guilty,” she finally muttered, “because you were protecting me… And not Fred.”
George walked the streets of Diagon Alley for hours, wishing he could take some of it back.
“I betrayed her because of you… Why did you come back? WHY COULDN’T YOU HAVE STAYED AWAY?”
Had he really said that to her? Had he really yelled at her for running away? He looked down at her for doing the one thing everyone had wished they had done, and she had some place to go. It’s not like he had absolutely no idea where she could be. And he didn’t make an effort to see her, either.
He ran his fingers through his ginger hair, and watched as the people passed him. Faces were happier. Children were no longer scared. He had a part in that.
Fred had died for that.
So many good soldiers- ‘Yes, soldiers,’ he thought to himself- had perished to make this street walkable. To make life livable. To make the world a better place.
He thought of Teddy and how he had neither of his parents. He was a “Potter” story. Luckily for him, he would always have his grandmother and his godfather.
Fenrir had attacked Lavender. Bellatrix had laughed in his mother’s face about the death of her son. Colin Creevey had been killed in battle. Oliver had been wounded. Kate had made an enemy of herself by killing three men.
He watched the small children dance around their mother, who’s smile was the brightest as she passed around candies to them all. It looked like his own family before Voldemort had come around again.
He arrived at the Burrow to find his mother in tears. He sat beside her, and took her hand.
“Mum,” he muttered. The woman shook her head.
The only words she could manage finally came out: “She packed her bag and left.”
George rushed up the stairs, throwing the bedroom to his old bedroom open. The walls were bare. The dresser drawers were open and empty. The bed was made and a note made itself at home on a pillow.
I’ve gone. You’re right. I shouldn’t have come back. Only Hermione knows where I’m going… And she’s sworn to secrecy. She and Ron will be the only ones visiting, though I will be writing to your mother. I miss you already, and I haven’t even left yet. Silly, isn’t it? Oh well. But I’ll miss you. I’ll miss you with all of my heart. I just can’t keep you from what you want anymore. So, here it is, in black ink on parchment: My resignation from your family. I’m sorry for all the pain I have caused you. Please, one day, look back and think of me fondly. I love you.
George sat on the bed, staring at the signature. Tears came to his eyes, and he cried.
Loving you always and forever yours,
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