Chapter 1 : Stay Warm
| ||Rating: Mature||Chapter Reviews: 1|
Change Background: Change Font color:
‘And this has been hard enough on you
I know it's been hard enough on me
Been telling myself that I can roll with the changes’
~ Brandon Flowers
And that was it. That was what he left with, the words still echoing into the air long after he had re-entered the castle to deliver news that would ruin people’s lives.
She had to give Kingsley credit – he was brave. As a member of The Order, he knew the Weasley family well. He’d have to give devastating news to people that was devastating him too, and remain perfectly calm whilst doing so.
She was left to stand there, just outside the broken entrance to the great hall, the harsh wind attacking her.
Why was it so cold? It was May, for God’s sake.
All around, just hours before, fires had spread through Hogwarts, devouring anything they could. The heat had been tremendous as sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers... heroes fell all around.
As she had battled through the castle, battled around the grounds, the sweat had built up on her brow. It was on everyone’s – a show of their struggle.
But now it was so cold, so dead, as opposed to the lively atmosphere in the midst of the nightmare that was the battle.
It all seemed so empty. So dead. So, so cold...
Her lips were still slightly parted, dry from keeping still so long in the wind.
Her sweet, chocolate brown eyes were wide and glassy.
And all of a sudden, like a train, roaring down the tracks from a distance at full speed, the realisation crashed into her, knocking her onto the ground, leaving her breathless.
The pain was overwhelming, coming from everywhere.
How? When? Who? Why?
Her whole body was shaking violently. It hurt too much.
She couldn’t speak. She couldn’t stand. She couldn’t think.
“Angelina?” she heard a voice call out her name from not too far away.
She tried to respond, but words failed her. Her teeth chattered threateningly every time she opened her mouth. She gave up.
She could hear the fall of his feet on the cement, and soon he was in front of her, kneeling down, his rough, large hands holding her face carefully.
She’d never been treated so delicately. She was a strong girl. Everyone knew that.
“Ange, what it is?” Oliver demanded. “Are you hurt?”
“H-h-h-he...” she trailed off. She couldn’t do it. Tears formed in her eyes, blurring her vision.
How long had it been since she cried? Angelina was a strong girl. Why was she crying?
“He’s gone,” Oliver whispered, as if reading Angelina like a book. She’d never been so open to anyone but him. He was always good at that, better than anyone else...
Why would someone do this?
“I’m so sorry, love. I’m so, so sorry,” he said quietly, his voice shaking with his own tears that began to flow freely down his face. He wrapped his arms around her, and she leaned into them, sobbing into his large frame.
How could Fred be gone?
“Love, I’m gonna have to go home tonight to get some more clothes and to make sure Lee’s doing okay. Is that alright? I’ll be back as soon as I can. Before tomorrow night definitely,” she murmured, stroking the soft, tousled red hair. “I’ll stay until you go to sleep.”
“It’s fine, Ange. I don’t need to be taken care of,” George replied numbly.
“This is what I want to do,” she responded truthfully, but she knew, she knew how much George needed her there. “I want to be with you.”
He simply nodded and closed his eyes, the purple bruises under them prominent even in the dark.
Angelina stayed there with George until he fell asleep, before she gently got up, kissing his forehead, and left his bedroom.
It was way past midnight as she silently crept through The Burrow, but nonetheless, she found Harry in the kitchen, perched on a counter.
He looked up at her as she walked through, offering her a tired smile
He’d been having worse trouble than even George sleeping. She weakly smiled back.
“How’re you doing?” he asked her.
She shrugged. “I’m fine. George is my priority right now.”
“George is always your priority,” Harry argued. “You’re allowed a break Ange.”
“I’ll be fine, Harry,” she sighed tiredly. “How are you? What are you still doing up?”
“Thinking. I don’t really feel like sleeping recently.”
“When was the last time you got any sleep?” she asked suspiciously.
“It’s alright, Ange, don’t worry. Molly’s one set of bags under my eyes away from slipping a potion into my coffee to knock me out,” he reassured her.
“There aren’t any bags under your eyes,” she replied, confused.
“Oh the wonders of magic...” he smiled cheekily.
“Careful there Harry,” Angelina warned him.
“It’s better for her. She doesn’t need me to think about. She’s having a hard enough time as it is. I’ll be fine. Now you go home and get some sleep in your own bed. You haven’t stopped all week.”
She simply nodded, bid him a good night, and left through the backdoor.
She apparated into an alley near Lee’s house, and let herself in with her key.
When she got to his bedroom, she found him already fast asleep, empty bottles of firewhiskey and butterbeer littering the floor.
With a few flicks of her wand, Angelina had cleaned the house.
She left a brief note so Lee wouldn’t panic when he woke up, a hangover potion and a kiss on his forehead, before apparating into her apartment.
It was cold. It was really, really cold, and yet, for some reason unknown to Angelina, she couldn’t bring herself to flick her wand at the fire place.
She could actually see her breath, floating away from her lips freely.
She wished she could float away, could be that free, could let go...
But she was trapped, and that’s the way she accepted life to be – a prison.
She huddled herself into the corner, wrapping her orange blanket tighter around her arms.
She remembered the day Fred had given her this blanket.
It’d been the night before the Christmas holidays, second year, and Fred, George, Alicia, Lee and Angelina had crept out of the castle at midnight to create their own small firework display; a Christmas for friends, prior to the Christmas for family.
Fred and George had trailed their wands along the sky, around in odd patterns, whispering words that sounded entirely random, looking as if they were doing some kind of dance.
Their friends laughed at them, feeling on top of the world with the excitement and adrenaline of managing to escape the castle without getting caught, but knowing that Hagrid, Filch or perhaps some unknown creature could come wandering in their direction at any time, but also with the happiness they got from being with each other.
Eventually, Fred and George gently placed their wands in the ground, a good distance away from where their friends sat.
They seemed to emerge from the pitch black, identical, mischievous, Weasley twin grins plastered on their faces.
They plonked themselves on either side of Angelina, the thick white snow crunching underneath the huge blanket they’d brought out with them, having put a spell on it beforehand to keep it warm.
And then all of a sudden, a golden trail began to curl upwards into the sky over their heads.
Simultaneously, they lay back on the blanket, watching reds, greens and silvers sprinkle across the night sky like glitter, emerald and scarlet streams that twisted and turned with beautifully complicated patterns before exploding in every direction.
The sight was breathtaking, and each one of them, uncharacteristically stayed silent, soaking in the magic of the night.
They lost track of time, lying out there quietly in the cold night air, but as the fireworks erupted across the sky in a splendid finale, a million colours bursting out across the sky, they let out gasps of innocent delight and pleasure.
The thin tongs of every colour flowed back into the wands and the group sighed, sitting up slowly, colours still flashing behind their eyelids. It was a night that no one would forget.
They stood up, and George ran to recover the wands.
As Alicia and Lee collected the blanket together, Fred noticed Angelina shiver.
He reached out and wrapped her freezing hand in his warm one. “Bloody hell, Ange! You’re freezing!”
She laughed. “I got caught up in the fireworks. I didn’t even realise.”
“Here,” he replied softly. He reached into his bag which he’d brought the huge blanket in and pulled out another blanket, bright orange, and wrapped it around her.
“I was gonna leave it until tomorrow, but happy Christmas,” he smiled.
“You got me a blanket?” she asked softly.
Angelina’s close friends had recently discovered her deepest secret – she had one soft spot, and that was blankets. She had fond memories of when things were more together, more functional in her family. When she was happy.
Fred bit his lip, looking slightly nervous. “You’re happy now, aren’t you?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean... now you have us. Are you happy?”
And she smiled up at him and said, with her whole heart, “More than I ever thought I could be.”
And the twelve year old boy did something odd for most mischievous twelve year old boys. He reached out and squeezed his friend’s hand gently. And she squeezed back.
“Whenever you have this blanket, it’ll remind you of something even happier than the memories you have of when you were younger. You can remember tonight, and you can remember being this happy. And you can remember me. And it’ll stay warm... mrphgphgphggphhh...” he mumbled, his cheeks turning pink.
“What?” she’d asked, confused.
“Nothing!” he replied cheerily, the usual Fred grin on his face, and the friends walked back up to the castle.
Tears began to stream down Angelina’s face as Fred’s smile filled her mind.
Thick drops stained the blanket she was now clutching in her shaking hands.
She threw the blanket down, hugging herself, sobbing.
She’d never felt so much pain, so much pressure. She had George to look after, and Lee. Alicia was with her family, grieving the loss of her cousin.
Angelina was alone, left to save everyone when she needed saving. But the only hero she knew was in the sky, too far away for Angelina to reach.
She didn’t know how to cope. She’d never felt so abandoned, so alone before. She’d never been in this deep, no matter how bad things had gotten.
He and his twin had always been there to help her out before she got in too deep.
All of a sudden, rage took over. She stood up swiftly, grabbed a vase sitting on the cabinet, and with all the strength she possessed, she hurled it at the opposite wall.
The shattering sound seemed to reflect just how out of control things were.
She thrust her hand into her dark hair, tears blurring her vision, and breathed in and out slowly.
When she’d calmed down, she silently began to collect up the broken shards of glass.
As she was picking up the last piece, she pricked her finger. It made her jump.
She inspected the shard. It was thick and jagged. It would hurt if you were to scrape your arm on it, she speculated.
But not as much as this, she thought bitterly. Nothing would ever hurt as much as this. As her grief, her loss. Her hopeless, lonely state.
And in thinking this, she found herself unable to put down the glass. She looked from it to her arm constantly, not knowing what to do.
Finally, she decided to concentrate the pain, so she could let go of it, for a second, she could let go of everything...
Ten minutes later, she gasped, feeling sick as she watched, as she finally saw the crimson stream flowing down her arm that she’d been staring at blankly since the glass made contact with her tanned skin.
She threw the glass to the ground, shaking violently, and ran straight for the door, barely stopping to lock the door.
And she ran away, down the corridor, down the stairs, down the street, she ran away from her pain and her grief and herself, the tears and blood still flowing, and she didn’t stop sprinting until her legs finally gave out beneath her and her eyes closed and she drifted away from all of it.
Angelina shuddered, and sat bolt upright, looking around madly, her heart thudding in her chest.
Her head spun and her vision blurred for a minute. She clutched her head and blinked until the dizziness faded.
She took in her surroundings. She was sat on a black couch, a grey blanket covering her legs. Around the room, she spotted framed pictures of Quidditch teams, professional and Hogwarts.
She was surprised to catch her own face smiling down at her, stood right next to... right next to him. He was smiling and waving and putting his arms around her and his brother, and Angelina knew she could’ve stared at him forever, but she tore her eyes away, knowing it was no good.
There was something familiar about the place. She was sure she’d been here before.
“Oh thank God you’re awake. I was only gonna give you another hour before I took you to St Mungo’s,” a voice she instantly recognised confessed.
She looked over her shoulder to see Oliver stood in a doorway, what appeared to be a kitchen behind him.
She instantly felt relieved that she was with Oliver. He had nothing on Fred, but he could make her feel safe. “Hey,” she croaked.
He smiled sadly in response and raised a bottle of water, as if ready to throw it, but thought the better of it, and passed it to her, sitting at the end of the couch. She crossed her legs to allow space for him.
Was she really so weak that her Quidditch captain wouldn’t throw to her?
She downed the water appreciatively and quickly, noticing how cracked her lips were as the water dampened them, how dry her throat was as it flowed down, soothing it. She felt her whole body rehydrate and awaken.
She finished the drink, much more aware, and looked up at Oliver, who had been politely waiting for her to finish. He took the bottle and placed it on the coffee table, before turning his full attention to Angelina.
A crease appeared on his forehead, his handsome face contorted with grief and worry as he stared at this girl he’d known since she was eleven.
He knew she had potential, even then. Back then, he wasn’t making the calls, but he saw something in Angelina, all along. And this wasn’t just in terms of Quidditch. She had a spark about her, in her personality. And he watched the elation, the freedom she took out of being on a broom.
He also saw her channel her anger and frustration and sorrow and focus into her game.
Back then, they weren’t close enough, he wouldn’t ask, just admire and secretly relate.
They had grown closer, and though the two were all about proving to the world that they could each be strong, independent, leaders, they could always fall back on one another when they couldn’t be strong all alone, and it would remain a secret to the rest of the world.
It was normally Oliver who needed Angelina, but there were exceptions.
This was an exception.
“Angelina, I found you collapsed on a street, with a bunch of muggles surrounding you. It was lucky I managed to find a picture of us so I could prove I wasn’t trying to abduct you before the ambulance showed up to take you to a muggle hospital. I’m not a healer, Angie, so I’m gonna take you to St Mungo’s, but not yet. I thought I’d let you rest first.”
Angelina was horrified. “You can’t!” she cried. “You can’t take me to St Mungo’s! George’ll-“
“Hey, hey, hey!” he cut her off, smoothing out her hair and taking her small hands into his big, rough ones. “I wasn’t gonna tell anyone. Just between me and you, alright? Just so we can be sure you’re okay,” he reassured her gently.
She reluctantly nodded as he soothingly rubbed his thumb up and down her hand, when she suddenly winced, and looked down to see the bandage wrapped around her wrist.
“And that,” he sighed, looking at her. “We have to talk about this.”
Angelina stared at the grey blanket covering her lap guiltily.
“When you collapsed, you were bleeding. There was blood drying on your arm already. I was wondering if that might’ve been the reason you collapsed. But the real thing I’m wondering, though I think I already know the answer, is where that cut came from. Angelina?” he asked.
She continued to stare at the blanket.
He sighed. “Angie, Love please, you have to look at me!”
The desperation in his tone forced Angelina to look up, shocked, and she saw sadness and disappointment shining in his eyes.
“You’re disappointed,” she stated, her voice a mere whisper. She was so ashamed of herself. She’d let herself down, she’d let Oliver down, she’d let George down...
Ultimately, she had let Fred down.
“Not in you, Angie. In myself. I should’ve realised sooner how much strain would be put on you to take care of everyone else when you need taking care of too.”
“I... I d-don’t need to be looked after...” she trailed off, shocked and confused.
“Angelina, you don’t have to be strong right now. This is your time to mourn too. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to need help. It’s okay to cry. You’ve rushed yourself into being strong when you’re not ready yet. Just take your time to grieve.”
As she looked up at this boy, who over the years, had become a brother to her, she felt tears well up in her eyes, and spill over. She sobbed like she had done after she heard about Fred’s death, into Oliver’s chest, and she realised, she didn’t have to be alone.
She was going to look out for the others, but there would be someone watching over her too.
She had Oliver. And she had Fred.
She stayed there, sobbing, until she had no more tears, and finally she felt better. Like maybe, there was a hope, a light, something that wasn’t misery and darkness.
Escape, and not in the way she had found it. In a way that might hurt Fred for a while, as he watched her cry, but if he did, soon enough he’d be watching her smile, and she’d make up for what she’d done, and she’d make him proud.
“Come on,” Oliver said, a gentle smile at his lips. “There’s something I want you to see.”
He gave her a hoodie, far too big for her frame, but it was warm, and it was Quidditch, and it was Oliver, so it was okay. He took her hand and they disapparated together.
Angelina took in the wide field. A million shades of green blending together, spreading all over the area. She recognised it faster than she recognised Oliver’s apartment.
Sure enough, when she swivelled round, she could see the crooked figure of the burrow in the distance. It filled her heart with longing. Longing to laugh and talk and just be with George... and Fred.
“We used to come out here to play Quidditch,” she recalled in a murmur. “Every summer...”
Oliver smiled sadly. “You know where we are then?”
“You know where we’re going?”
Her chocolate eyes met his honey ones, searching them.
Eventually she murmured, “I have a strong suspicion.”
He offered her his hand, and she looked reluctant, but took it. “Lead me,” she whispered.
He nodded, and gently pulled her through the field.
The natural, constant atmosphere of freedom in the field seemed to slip away from Angelina as she approached the woods ahead.
Though she was still slightly shaken up, Angelina managed not to trip and stumble too much as they passed over rocks and twigs, the trees lining their bumpy path.
Finally they broke out into a beautiful, wide patch of land, spreading out before them magnificently.
The grass was even and neat, the flowers fresh and blooming, and the small butterflies and bumble bees engulfed in the blossoms in the trees.
And row upon row, generously spaced out but in rows all the same, of grey head stones.
She’d guessed correctly.
She sighed and composed herself. Just for the moment.
Oliver had been silently taking in the serene, beautiful garden, chosen to honour the heroes who had fallen in the war. Finally he looked at her. “You ready?”
“Can…” she hesitated, but she was a Gryffindor. She knew in her heart she wanted to do this. She just had to build up her bravery. And she had done. “Can I go alone? Just for the minute?”
He didn’t seem shocked at all. In fact there was a knowing look in his gentle smile. “Take as much time as you need. But call me over if you need me.”
She nodded and took a deep breath. Then she took a step forward, and then her mind and heart and body were set on their destination. She wove through the grave yard graciously, as if her legs were carrying her there of their own accord. She glided through slowly, delicately around the head stones, like she was being pulled to where she needed to go.
She stumbled to a stop. “Straight ahead, Angelina,” she whispered to herself. “Just keep going.”
Angelina swallowed, nodded to herself, and walked straight ahead.
And there it was. Gleaming and intact, shining in the early, early morning sunlight.
Brother, son, friend, twin, hero.
Each word fell on her like the weight of the world, presenting beautiful memories of each devious twinkle in his eyes and each mischievous grin that lit up his face. There were different smiles for different people and different situations, a look to reflect each of his million shining qualities, but always, always the same, undeniable Fred Weasley.
Words to say what he meant to us wouldn’t fit on this rock. Fred was our hearts, our love, our being, and he still is and always will be. He has taken this from each of us into the life he lives now, somewhere beyond here. You already shone brighter than the angels, Freddy. Keep shining. With love always and forever, you will never be forgotten. Our hero. Our Freddy.
“Fred…” she whispered, and tears gleamed in her eyes. She fell with a soft thud to her knees.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry I wasn’t there. I’m sorry I haven’t been enough for George. I tried… honestly, I’m trying, and I swear to you, I will never give up on him. But you can’t either. You can’t just… give up on us. We need you. I- I need you. I always did, and you never could’ve imagined how much. I could never have put it in words. But I mean… I just hope… I hope you had an idea of how much I love you. I hope you never underestimated that. And I know that you loved me too. And thank you. Thank you so much,” she breathed, as hot tears rolled down her cheeks. “I’m sorry that I let you down. I’m sorry for what I did, for everything I did… I’m just lost and alone and scared and devastated and cold.”
She was sobbing now. She had voiced her true feelings to a stone. But something in her heart told her that Fred was listening.
A small portrait of Fred smiled gently up at her. She attempted a polite yet watery smile back at him. She shook her head and stared at her hands in resting on her knees.
“The blanket will keep you warm.”
She looked up, startled, at the portrait. “The blanket will stay warm for as long as…”
“Please,” she begged desperately, tears running down her face. “Please, tell me!”
“The blanket will stay warm for as long as he loves you.”
Angelina wasn’t sure if she’d imagined it. Slowly, she turned her head and looked upwards.
And there he was.
Every bit what really defined a Weasley twin beyond the obvious.
But he was his own person too. Lacking aspects of Fred and having qualities his brother never showed.
He was George.
“What?” she asked timidly, sniffling and wiping a few tears from her face. She hated he’d caught her at her most vulnerable, but how could she deny it now? It was as clear as anything. She was lost.
“He told me,” George began, pain throbbing in his eyes. He swallowed thickly. She reached up her hand and took his, squeezing it gently. “He told me it will stay warm for as long as he loves you.”
She gasped. “B-but… It was… the blanket was warm, just a few hours ago. Are you sure he meant it like that George?”
For the first time in a long time, there was life in George’s eyes. “Honestly, Lina,” he insisted. “We tested that spell a hundred times for a hundred different circumstances, it worked just how we wanted it to.”
She was confused. “Then… what does that mean?”
George knelt down next to her. Tears welled in his eyes. “It means…”
And that was the first time that George Weasley smiled since he lost his twin.
It was a broken smile, a smile full of pain and loss and grief and it wasn’t like the way George Weasley used to smile; his eyes didn’t sparkle with excitement or amusement or mischief or wisdom or pride or love, they simply sparkled with the tears that were flowing freely down his cheeks, but he smiled nonetheless.
“It means that he’s still watching over us. He’s still here with us. He still loves us.”
Angelina froze. It was hard to take in the idea. George sat by her patiently.
Oliver stood not too far away, trying to keep up his calm façade that was slowly crumbling. He was quite sure no one’s attention was on his, but as a precaution, he backed further into the distance where he hoped Angelina wouldn’t notice the glint of tears on his cheeks.
Her lips were slightly parted and she didn’t seem to be breathing. And then, without her even knowing it was going to happen, a sob escaped her, and she began to cry freely.
On the run over from The Burrow, George had furiously cursed himself for what he had done to Angelina; how he had second guessed her pain, and not shared his with her, just become a heavy burden for her to carry on her fragile shoulders.
He had become a shell of himself for her, never opening up, never considering how she felt, as she had done herself, only she had always considered his feelings before anything. In the end they had only hurt themselves more. But now he had come to terms with himself and knew the only thing left was to improve, to be better for her from now on.
And so he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into his chest. And he let sobs escape from deep inside him too, and his tears ran down his cheeks onto her dark hair.
And she was just a little bit warmer.
“I miss him,” she stated shakily, followed by another round of sobs.
“I know, I know Angel, I do too,” he choked out. He pressed his lips to her head.
They realised rather suddenly than rain had begun to drip onto them. By the time their sobs had died down and all that was left was their embrace, the rain was falling heavily.
“Guys,” Oliver announced, his voice soft and empathetic. “I think we should get out of the rain.”
He took Angelina’s hand and pulled her up gently, balancing her as she swung onto her feet. He offered his hand to George and waited for him. George looked up at Oliver for a moment, before taking his hand and bouncing onto his feet. They each took one of Angelina’s hands and the trio headed back to The Burrow in silence.
Angelina sat with her knees drawn to her chest in Ginny’s abandoned bedroom. She felt like this was the first time she’d stopped to breathe in a century. Everything seemed… calmer now. At peace.
That was new. Even once the war had ended, everything had been pain and fear and worry… now she could breathe in and out, and it didn’t hurt so much.
Molly had welcomed the trio in warmly. Her son’s absence had sparked something of her old self up. As he entered through the back door, she proceeded to beat him feistily with a wooden spoon and shriek about how he worried her sick and if he ever left again without a note saying where he was going, what he was doing and who he was going with in a place where she was sure to find it, she’d be sure to use her frying pan on him, or her wand, or both. Furthermore, if she didn’t approve of any of the previously mentioned aspects of his trip, she would use her wand to fix him to a chair and have it float around a metre away from her at all times.
Needless to say, Oliver and Angelina were incredibly amused. It was the first time in a long time Angelina’s carefree laugh had been heard. And George felt as if his heart…moved, because of her laugh. He missed that sound more than he’d realised.
Angelina had thought about going back to her apartment to shower, but the thought of the blood on the floor, possibly on her blanket, turned her stomach. Molly planned on keeping the three around for the whole day. It was a miracle to see George away from his bedroom, and that look in his eyes, as if he wasn’t dead, numb. She saw the corner of his lips pull up occasionally and every time it stopped her heart.
Oliver had intervened, insisting he had to take Angelina back to his apartment. She was reluctant to leave George, but wasn’t ready to abruptly admit to what she had done.
They apparated to a deserted road around the corner from a muggle hospital and headed up, talking about George and Fred and war and Angelina realised… it didn’t hurt quite as much as it used to.
She’d been patched up and given the number for a therapist. Angelina swore she’d use it if she ever needed it and they allowed her to leave. She was emotionally drained and exhausted, and she’d fallen asleep in George’s room as he slept with his arms around her. She wasn’t sure how she got to Ginny’s room, but it was familiar and safe and quiet and she could stop and think and breathe.
And what she was thinking about was something she hadn’t allowed herself to think about in a long time, something Fred had taken to his grave, the only person who knew. She was thinking about her feelings for George. She knew that he’d never be interested in her. Besides, he’d never get over Fred. It would take someone beyond amazing to heal him, someone beyond Angelina.
But if she was the kind of friend he wanted and needed, she was honoured, and she was there. And if she could have him when she needed him, she was even more honoured. And she knew Oliver would always be there for her.
She was startled from her thoughts by a knock on the door.
George opened it and stepped in quietly. He closed it behind him and leant against it, facing her.
“Hey,” he greeted. “Mind some company?”
She smiled welcomingly and nodded. “Sure.”
George sat down at the end of Ginny’s bed and looked down at his fidgeting fingers before he faced her with a sigh, a regretful, ashamed look on his face, hinting apology. Angelina frowned, confused.
“What’s wrong?” she asked gently.
He took in a breath. “I need to apologise. It’s not that I didn’t think of you and what you were going through; it’s that I knew I wasn’t strong enough to help. Not you, not myself, not anyone. I was just waiting to die. But you… you wouldn’t let me. And I thought that I didn’t want that. I knew I didn’t want to hurt you, and I knew I was hurting you. I tried to drive you away sometimes to protect you from what I was becoming… but you never left me, and I realised when I got Oliver’s patronus that you’re the only reason I hadn’t put my wand to my throat and finished myself off. You kept me going, Lina, and I didn’t do the same for you.”
“That’s not true,” she protested fiercely. “You were something to care about, something to hold onto. You needed me, and that gave me a reason to stay alive.”
“But you couldn’t cope under the pressure. How can you mend something broken when you’re in pieces yourself?”
“Come on, Ange, don’t you think it’s about time we started being honest with each other? I know you only just learnt to be honest with yourself, but I feel like maybe I can help now. Maybe we can help each other. Would that be okay?”
She took him in, thinking. Slowly, a hint of a smile turned up one corner of her mouth. “Yeah. I think… maybe it would,” she replied quietly.
Without thinking anymore about it, George leapt up, marched across the room and pulled her into a tight hug. She was initially stunned but responded quickly. They held each other close.
And then, right there in their embrace, something… slid into place. And the young adults realised that they should’ve been here all along. She felt as if nothing could pull her from his arms, and he felt as if he would never let go of her, no matter what.
But of course, they couldn’t stay there forever. A knock on the door and an enthusiastic Molly insisting they come down for dinner interrupted them.
But it was okay, because now they knew that genuine smiles were possible. Happiness was somewhere out there. Laughter would show up one day. Hope existed.
That night, Angelina returned home with Oliver. He cleaned up all traces of the night before, leaving the blanket undisturbed, and departed.
Walking through to her bedroom, Angelina picked up the blanket. She sat down on the bed and ran it over her face and through her fingers slowly. She could still feel the heat.
She couldn’t help the single tear that rolled down her cheek. But she knew it was okay. She thought back to everything that had changed in the last 24 hours. She thought of the breaking the glass, waking up in Oliver’s apartment, kneeling down besides Fred’s grave, and the sheer power of the feeling when George’s arms enclosed her.
“I miss you so much, Fred. I love you,” she whispered. She gently pressed her lips to the orange fabric. She closed her eyes and lay down. When she reopened them, they grew to the size of saucers as she watched, amazed. Words were scrawling across the blanket slowly in black ink, small but clear.
I love you too. Always have, always will. I’m always gonna be here, even if you don’t know that I am. This is going to stay warm for as long as I love you. So I can promise you, you’ll never get cold.
And there it was. It was the message he wanted to be one of his first and without a doubt his final, planned for hard summer or winter breaks without him, or perhaps when they were old and greying and he slipped into the deepest sleep a little before she did, or maybe when they graduated and went their separate ways, for as long as they were apart, he wanted her to know he was still there, and he still loved her, and nothing, no matter how it seemed, could ever change that feeling.
So she looked up to the sky, and she let her eyes say a million words she couldn’t speak, and she prayed to God that he was watching over her. And draping the warm blanket around her as she curled up in her bed, she knew that he was, and he always would be.
A/N: Nothing belongs to me. Thank you for reading. Please let me know what you think, and how I can improve. Reviews make me smile! :)