Chapter 3 : The Two of Us
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The spicy, unfamiliar scents of cooking meat, seared vegetables and sauces were the first indication that the Muggle Cuisine restaurant was heaven on earth. George's first impression of the building as the four of them had wandered up to it had been of a rather dull outer shell that boasted no bright colors or banners. And yet, the scent of the place as soon as the hostess opened the door seemed to melt every bit of doubt from his mind, replacing it with curiosity and hunger.
It wasn't a large place, just a one level foundation that reminded him of an intricate maze that twisted and turned in all directions, leading to round tables, green booths or lonely one tables. The carpet was plush, blue and done in designs that he didn't have long enough to look at and as the hostess led them to a booth, he found his eyes taking everything in.
There seemed to be a bit of the world tucked into the space and he found his eyes sliding to pictures on the walls of places that he had only seen in books. Once, he and his family had gone to Egypt to visit Bill and he had found it too hot even as the pyramids had been pretty interesting, though he and Fred hadn't locked Percy in one.
Temples from Greece and Rome twisted away to the Grand Canyon in America, which faded off to the bustling streets in India. “Isn't it something?” Angelina asked him, surprising him as she suddenly appeared by his side, “really makes you want to travel, doesn't it?” she said with a grin up at him.
George had thought of traveling every so often but he'd mostly felt a slight panic at the thought of ever leaving home. There was fine food all over the world but no one made beef casserole like his mum, “Thinking of going somewhere Angie?” he asked her curiously, noticing the wistful look on her face.
“Not at the moment,” Angelina replied with a teasing look at him. She had been relieved of her shopping bags earlier and George flicked his gaze up ahead where Terrence and Fred were now thanking the hostess, who had led them to a nice little green booth. “You?” she asked.
George didn't reply, merely shrugged because he was suddenly distracted by the sight of Terrence sliding his gaze over him. While Fred made himself a bit more comfortable, still looking around and completely oblivious, it would have taken an idiot to miss the look of pure hatred the other boy was giving him. “Am I that cute?” he found himself asking with a stiff smile at the imposter.
Terrence looked startled by the question, as if he had expected him not to say anything at all and as Angelina slipped in beside him, there was a laugh. “Especially,” was the bland reply and George had to stop himself from raising his upper lip so as not to appear too much like someone related to Percy.
“You're so gorgeous George that I'm thinking of marrying you.” Fred said easily, breaking up the tense moment like a needle going into a water balloon, “sit down already, you're like a giant carrot.”
Angelina laughed but Terrence only lifted his mouth, which was amazingly sculpted, ever so slightly. George gave his brother a look, “You're just jealous that you're not as tasty.” That really had Angelina going but Fred appeared aghast that he would ever say such a thing, “probably leave a nasty flavor in someone's mouth.”
Fred snorted doubtfully. “I'm almost too sweet to handle.” Glancing at Terrence's expression, he roared with laughter and gave him a smack on the back, “not giving yourself a good impression George.”
Who the hell cared? Terrence wasn't anyone that he was dying to impress and he gave the stranger a mocking half smile. “Sorry, you don't know us well enough to join in just yet. All the best jokes don't even come from us,”
Terrence raised his brows a little, glancing between them. He probably saw nothing but two brothers that looked eerily alike and none of the differences and that, including the slight frown on his mouth, annoyed George. “They don't? Even in my year, they talk about you two like you're gods or something,” he laughed a little before naming off some of their more precious pranks over the past few years.
Fred was blushing with pleasure and Angelina nudged Terrence playfully in his ribs, which were probably meaty and powerful. The sight irritated George a little and it didn't exactly help when the bloke draped an arm around her shoulders as if they were oh-so close, “Stop making it sound like you're so old!” she laughed.
George wanted to know why he appeared so much more mature than they were but he figured it was probably just an act. No one was that perfect or poised and he was able to smirk a little as a waitress appeared with their menus, asked them what they would like to drink and then quickly departed.
“So you said that you're a Ravenclaw right?” Fred asked him now while flipping open his menu absently. “What year are you in? I'm sure we would have seen you at some point.”
Terrence had opened his menu with his free hand, the other draped lightly on Angelina's shoulder. George could see his fingers stroking and pressing and he felt a scowl forming, “I'm in my last year, you guys are so young and impressionable.” He replied with a mock weary sigh that had Fred laughing, “I'd only ever heard of you from other people in my House.”
Angelina had been staring at George, looking thoughtful as his lips turned into a nasty looking frown but said to her boyfriend. Her boyfriend, even the words made him feel sick to his stomach, “You two might be shocked to know this but he's sort of a major nerd.” Fred and George, who nearly choked, appeared horrified and she burst out laughing in that way that made the whole room brighter.
“Well, ouch,” Terrence said, eyes going wide. He didn't look all that sorry about being a lame little book worm like Hermione but just as George was starting to feel a little better about the image of him pressing his nose into the books, he had to ruin it by saying. “If I want to be an Auror, I have to study. Not that I like it that much,” he said with a playful look at Angelina, who was still snickering.
So he had to be impossibly gorgeous, ripped with steely muscle, have Angelina and be an overachiever? “Fucking fantastic,” George muttered underneath his breath.
Fred sent him an amused glance before regarding Terrence critically before saying to Angelina. “So when's the wedding?” George felt his fists clenching tightly but something stopped him from punching his brother.
It made Angelina splutter. “Wedding?” Terrence appeared more thoughtful though and she said, obviously embarrassed, “he hasn't even met my mum and dad or given me a bloody ring! Fred, you can be a real prat sometimes.”
George watched his brother roar with laughter at that but he wondered if Terrence was the sort of person that Angelina would marry. Would he have to continue seeing her wrapped around Terrence for the remainder of their friendship?
He and Angelina had been friends since the Express, when he had spotted her looking so sad and alone, obviously in need of a good old laugh. He'd invited her in to his compartment that he'd been sharing with Fred and the little known Alicia Spinnet at the time and though he hadn't understood it then, something about Angelina was addictive.
Maybe it was her smile or the fact that she was just there. George couldn't think of a time when he had needed her and she hadn't been there for him, in some way or some form, cheering him up and making him laugh to the point where his sides hurt. There was no one on earth like Angelina and it had always been the two of them.
And he didn't feel like sharing. “Ready to order?” their waitress was back with a tray and after a while of setting their drinks on little napkins with a print of the Great Wall of China on the front, she moved back.
They shook their heads and the waitress didn't seem to mind and spent a moment looking between the four of them in a friendly way. George saw her eyes go a bit round as she took in the sheer brilliance of Terrence. It didn't help that he sent her a smile that showed off his amazing dimples (Fred sighed wistfully beside him), “Erm, or I could come back?” she asked, sounding hopeful.
Angelina didn't seem to mind that another girl was ogling her delicious looking boyfriend and George could see that she was more amused. She flipped open her menu, scanned it quickly and said with a hungry gleam in her brown eyes, “Philly cheese steak with extra onions and a side of the thickest crisps you've got.”
“Your breaths gonna smell bad, Angie,” Fred said in alarm while he looked down at his own menu before telling the blushing waitress (She was practically swaying on her feet and George didn't think he'd catch her) he wanted tamales and a thick burrito.
Terrence laughed while Angelina shrugged it off with a hungry glance at the menu in front of her. George had a feeling that the picture was something far too tempting to resist, “I'll still kiss her anyway. She eats a lot of smelly stuff but I've managed to survive so far,” he said with a grin at her.
Angelina shot him a look, though she was smiling. George had never seen her smile like that before, there was something about it that made his own skin heat up and he found himself hissing at the blushing waitress, “Sushi and some of these spicy ramen noodles that's on here.”
The waitress looked a little surprised. “You might want to be careful with that ramen. We've got the best chef around and when he says its spicy, its like eating dragon fire,” she warned, making an exaggerated motion by fanning her tongue.
George glared at her a little but said stiffly. “I can handle some noodles.” And he'd never had sushi before either so he wasn't going to change his order, “make it as hot as you can.”
“You're asking for your intestines to burn off.” The waitress said warningly even as she took out a notepad (She had a lot of pockets apparently) which floated near her shoulder. After extracting a floating quill from her hip, she asked for their orders again, the quill scratching over the pad quickly before she turned, blushing to Terrence, “and did you decide?” she asked breathlessly.
Fred snickered. Terrence thought about it for a moment or two before he shot George a slightly challenging look that made him look far too spectacular before saying to the girl, “I'll try the ramen. Make mine extra spicy too, I'm in the mood to prove a point.”
George felt his hackles rising but it was Angelina who asked, looking slightly wary as she glanced at him. “What sort of point?”
“Just that I can handle my hot food a lot better than George over there.” Terrence made his words teasing, saying them in the way that Lee or any of his brothers would have but George caught the nastiness in between them. Fred was sending him a pitying look, his fingers tapping on the table to a merry tune of his own, “I love spicy food.”
Before George could even say anything and ask just who the hell he thought he was, the waitress laughed. Her quill had stopped writing and she snatched it from the air along with the notepad and said, “You're gonna regret that gorgeous,” she glanced at George dismissively, “you too. Not sure why you're ready to die today,” and with that, she floated away.
Even the bloody waitress was against him. George glowered a little but fell back against the booth and found himself asking something that had bothered him the moment he'd seen the stranger on Angelina's arm, “So, how'd you two meet? I'd have thought I'd notice if you were getting snogged all in the corridor, Angie,”
Angelina rolled her eyes and ran her eyes quickly over him and he knew that she sensed his anger. Strangely, she knew him better than any of their other friends and he sort of squirmed uncomfortably underneath her gaze, “So glad that you decided to join in on the conversation, George.”
“Don't mind him, Angie, he's just a--” Fred started.
George interrupted. “Maybe I'm not finding it all that thrilling, Angie?” he countered back to her and she narrowed her eyes slightly. Terrence was glancing between them as if he wanted to say something or ask a question of his own. “No one's going on about how amazing I am.”
Fred was shaking his head, as if he found him to be simply the most idiotic person on the face of the earth. “That's cause you're not.” He said and that made Terrence laugh while Angelina shot him a warning glance that had him wondering just whose side she was on in the first place. “Don't mind him, Angie, he's just mad because we've got school in a few days.”
Angelina didn't appear as if she believed him at all and while George knew that that the two of them weren't as close, it was obvious that Fred was lying. But when she only nodded a little, saying with a sigh, “I can't wait for it all to be over,” he felt the slightest bit of relief.
So she wasn't going to tear his face off. Or yell at him. Or turn him into a gelatinous blob. “Just one more year and its off to the Holyhead tryouts for you and I've got Auror training,” Terrence said with a reassuring kiss on Angelina's temple. George briefly saw red and Fred nudged him out of his stupor with a not-so-subtle ramming of his elbow into his side.
“Already got accepted?” George bit out because everything about him was just too good to be true. Fred was shaking his head at him, looking shamed, “I thought there was a bit more studying after Hogwarts before you were even ready to try out for the job.”
“I took a few practice tests when I went up to the Ministry and was told that I had a high chance of making it,” Terrence replied easily, looking pleased and rather smug. It was the sort of look that came from hours and hours of hard work and George had no real idea if making jokes and disastrous toys would equal the same things to someone like him. “An aunt of mine was an Auror for a while so I think I've got some good genes for it.”
Angelina was giving him an encouraging smile that made the knot in George's stomach increase almost painfully. She looked at him that way whenever he talked about the joke shop and had it only been a few days that she had been at the Burrow with him?
It felt like months ago now that he had lain with her on the grass, talking about a life and future that he dreamed would happen someday. “Just be careful or you'll turn out mental like Mad Eye,” Fred warned to Terrence and they shared a laugh at that.
That bloke was pretty mad and George thought that it would only be fitting if the oh-so perfect Terrence lost a leg. Or went bonkers from dealing with curses and Death Eaters for a while.
The thought must have shown on his face because Angelina was giving him an annoyed look. She wouldn't say anything now but George dreaded the moment that she got him alone and wrung the life from his throat, “So what about this year? You two thinking you'll actually pay attention in class?” Angelina asked, flicking her cool gaze away from George.
Fred slouched a little in his seat, rubbing a hand over his face as he considered her words. “Not exactly, Angie. I'm just waiting for some big money to come in and then me and George will be seeing you in another life,” when Angelina appeared awfully curious and mock hurt by the words, he explained about Bagman.
Terrence appeared horrified when he finished. “You spent all your savings on a bet?” he shook his head at their nerve and while George felt a spark of pride, the boy asked, “what are you going to do if he doesn't give you the money?”
“Well, obviously we'd be broke. And then we'd go insane and wind up living on our mum's couch for the rest of our lives,” Fred said easily, even though the two of them had spoken about this privately. While George knew that he would be pissed, his brother might go out for blood or threats, “but you two'll be married with babies to remember us.”
Angelina looked very uncomfortable. “I don't really want kids though.”
Fred waggled his eyebrows at her. “So you just like seeing if you can make them?” when she gave him a venomous look, even while George was more than certain that she was blushing, he roared with laughter. “Come on, Angie! You tell the best dirty jokes and have the nerve to blush?”
“I don't go around talking about all my intimate moments like you two!” Angelina snapped while Terrence laughed. She gave him a dark look, “don't you make him feel better about it either!” but he only laughed harder until she said annoyingly. “You two are made for each other.”
Terrence and Fred burst out laughing, sounding like old friends and George scowled miserably. “I'm one lucky bastard then. Terrence, I'd be more than glad to have your babies,” George heard his twin say and it took all his strength not to roll his eyes and wish him luck.
“I'm honored,” Terrence said, doing a sexy little thing with his eyebrows that probably gave women under ninety a heart attack. Angelina laughed, “and if Angie and I ever have a rough patch, you'll find me in your room.”
George died a little on the inside and by the time their food was brought to them, the steaming bowls of ramen being handled with meticulous care, he would have given anything to be alone. Or with Angelina and laugh like nothing was coming between them, “You sure you can handle that?” the waitress asked him as he picked up his fork and hoped his nose hairs weren't burning off from the spicy smell.
“I'll live.” George grumbled and the girl gave him a doubtful look, smiled at the others and moved away. Angelina was digging into a monstrosity of bread, cheese and thick meat with gusto, onions flying every which way while Terrence went to eating his ramen as if the smell alone wasn't burning his skin. Fred nudged him in the ribs, “what?”
Fred was giving him a grin that made him feel slightly better. Terrence and Angelina were too busy eating, talking and making those secretive little smiles that only couples did when they thought no one was looking to pay them any attention. “Tough luck,” he said, breaking whatever bit of good feeling he'd had, “tough damn luck, George. You should have said something sooner.”
George glared at him in pure irritation, not understanding what he meant by that when he and Angelina had only been friends. At Hogwarts and over the summer, they had been friends and he relied on her to keep him going when he fell but those weren't the sort of thoughts that he could ever voice out loud. Even to his brother, “Shut up Fred.” He said instead, turning away and digging into his meal, which turned out to be a horrible mistake on his part as nearly every bite burnt its way down his throat.
“It was real nice getting to know you,” Fred was saying a while later as they concluded their lunch with Terrence and Angelina near Quality Quidditch Supplies. Bill would be coming to pick them up shortly, since George had a feeling that he wasn't too far away, probably reacquainting himself with friends from Hogwarts.
Diagon Alley was winding down a little, though George saw that a few last minute shoppers were moving about, looking out of breath and when he glanced up, he knew why. The sky had turned into an ominous grey expanse that boasted a very nasty storm and he hoped that Bill hurried up soon so they wouldn't get drenched.
He didn't think he could stand another five minutes with Terrence. While he had forced every bit of the ramen down his burning throat as toughly as he could (The sushi had been forgotten) the prat had eaten it as if it weren't made from pure lava, laughing and talking all the while.
The very sight of those damned dimples in his cheeks was driving him mental and he had to conclude that he didn't just dislike him. George sort of hated him. And it wasn't merely because his every movement seemed to capture Angelina's attention with one of those loving smiles, it was his attitude.
Smug and full of himself and even though he wished it weren't true, he had a lot of reasons to be feeling as if he could take on the world. He had such a promising future before him.
Auror training after Hogwarts, a pretty girl on his arm and that fantastic physique...well, shit, how was anyone supposed to compete with that? Not that he needed to, George wanted to tell himself. It didn't matter to him that he was so bloody fantastic or that Angelina was completely happy in a way that he'd never seen before.
Those things hardly mattered. “Yeah, it was great meeting you too. We'll see each other again pretty soon at Hogwarts,” Terrence was saying to Fred, sounding as if he wouldn't mind.
Seeing him at least, George thought dryly. The prat hadn't said anything remotely friendly towards him the entire afternoon and he found himself drifting away from the pair, looking around for the familiar swagger of his oldest brother.
“Georgie?” Angelina asked, her footsteps so light that he hadn't heard her sneaking up on him. George angled his head back at her, smiling weakly and she returned it for a brief moment before asking, “what's wrong with you?”
Here it was. She was going to beat him up, “Nothing's wrong with me,” George lied easily, noticing that her eyes ran over his entire face as if she knew it far better than he did. It was most likely true, even if it was a little uncomfortable, “just sort of tired.”
Angelina rolled her eyes and glanced down at her hands. She was holding her bags from earlier and she offered to him, “You want to see that Dye Powder I got at Zonko's?” when he looked a little put out that she'd gone without him, she explained, “you and Fred were taking so long that Terrence took me on his break.”
George found himself rolling his eyes. “Right,” he muttered, his eyes sliding over to the stranger that was in a hilarious conversation with his traitor of a brother. They looked like such good friends and it made his stomach boil, “Terrence.”
“You don't like him do you?” Angelina said, not even bothering to phrase it as a question. George appeared to look surprised but she saw through him easily, “look, he's not a bad guy so I don't want you worrying about me or anything. Or making stupid comments when you have no reason to.”
George felt his mouth falling open in aggravation. Hadn't she heard anything that that prat had said to him? “He hasn't exactly been warm and cuddly to me either, Angie. I don't know what his problem is but I'm not going to take it like a bitch and act like he can say whatever he likes,”
Angelina flushed a little, though her eyes appeared guilty. “I noticed and I'll make sure to talk to him. Before you two showed up, I'd told him a lot about you.” When George raised his brows at her for that, she explained awkwardly. “You're one of my favorite people and I guess I was bragging and he got the wrong idea about us.”
George wasn't sure if he should blush or not at the thought of Angelina bragging about him or worry about what she'd just said. “Angie, we're just friends, right?”
“...Right,” Angelina said after a slight, strange hesitation. George ran his fingers through his hair, starting to smile. “What are you smiling about?” she asked warily.
The smile that was brightening on his face was one of pure, scalding relief that things weren't changing so quickly. Angelina was his friend, his one bright spot of calm when nothing else was working out and that was something even perfect Terrence couldn't take away from him, “Nothing, Angie.”
“I'm sorry that you and Terrnce didn't hit it off,” Angelina replied curiously, though she was giving him a fond little smile. “He's tense now, but he'll lighten up.”
George didn't know why, but he teased flirtatiously. “He's got nothing to be jealous about. Not like you've polished my broomstick anytime lately or I've tweaked your ass.”
“George!” Angelina cried hotly, even while she laughed. She gave him a good punch on the arm and he took the blow with exaggerated groans and grunts, “prat, stop being silly for just one second. I've got a present for you,”
Curious, George stopped clutching his chest and watched as she dug into one of her bags, shoulders relaxed. Terrence and Fred were still talking, laughing and joking but he blocked them out, his every focus on Angelina, “What'd you get me?”
When she extracted a small, square box, his curiosity grew. “This is for you, since I didn't have time to give it to you a few days ago.” Angelina replied while giving it to him and watching with a fond smile as he gave her a shy glance and fluttered his lashes at her, “George, with what happened at the Cup, are you feeling all right?”
Only Angelina would ask and get an honest answer from him. “It was scary, to be honest. The way those people just showed up, it was enough to give me a little wake up call about how things can get,” George found himself saying, his eyes leaving the box and locking onto her face. “I didn't like being unprepared.”
“I wouldn't have liked that feeling either. Things are just getting to the point where you don't know what's going to happen and I'd like to take as much happiness as I can,” Angelina said and he nodded his head in agreement, knowing that they understood each other well.
There was only the briefest of pauses then, but it was a comfortable pressure that they'd developed over the years. Most of those times had been spent stargazing on the shore of the Black Lake, her fingertips barely brushing against his and making the queerest sensation spiral in his heart. Nothing on earth could compare to that.
“I was really worried when I got your owl the other night. I'd heard about it from my dad but it took a lot for me not to sneak over and make sure that you and Fred weren't bleeding or...” Angelina trailed off, her eyes showing all of her hidden fears.
The thought that she cared that much caused a little ache to form in his chest and he gave her a reassuring smile. “Nothing is going to ever happen to me or Fred, okay, Angie? You worry way too much.” He reached out to pinch her chin and she gently smacked his hand away, smiling faintly, “but I really don't know what I'd do without you if you didn't.”
Angelina gave him a weird look then and oddly, she blushed. “Thanks. I'm a wreck without you too,” was all that she said and he could have died happily then and there, with those soft words ringing in his ears. “Now, Georgia, open your present.”
Shaking off the feeling that he wanted a bit more from her, George found himself opening her little gift. After popping the lid off and pushing away thin, white paper, he took one look at the fabric inside and roared with laughter, “Angie, you think you're funny, don't you?” he demanded, pinching her.
Angelina was grinning wildly, fending him off. “You like it?” she asked while George held up a pair of very lacy, very sexy green panties, “You lost the Quidditch game at the Burrow, remember? They'll match your hair real well. I couldn't find a bra in your size though,” she teased impishly.
“I swear I'll get you back for this one.” George threatened playfully and she laughed, giving him that smile that was simply his. As he toyed with the fabric for a minute, he asked lightly, trying not to appear as if it mattered, “so you like this bloke or what?”
Angelina was smoothing over his jacket gently with her fingertips. “Hm?” she asked, having been lost in thought and when George repeated the question, noticing that Terrence and Fred were coming over, she said with a soft smile. “Yeah, I like him. I met him here, in Quality Quidditch Supplies two months ago.” She jerked her head at the shop near them and he grunted.
“And what? He gave you a discount or something?” George asked dryly. He found himself putting the panties back in their box and placing the lid back on before Fred could ask him what he was holding. “Flashed his dimples at you?”
Angelina gave him a very exasperated look but she dropped her fingers almost reluctantly from his jacket. “No, he didn't, Georgia. I went in hunting for a present for my mum and when he was going out to lunch, he asked if I wanted to tag along and we just got to talking. I kept coming back to see him after that...” she said, trailing off.
“So you like him?” George asked, frowning.
Angelina nodded slowly. “...I do like him. He asked me to be his girlfriend a little while before I went to the Burrow to see you,” she admitted, looking embarrassed.
“So how come you said yes?” George asked, not sure why he did.
Angelina sighed sadly. “Because I got tired of waiting.” But he never figured out what she meant by that because Terrence and Fred were upon them and whatever peace he had gotten at having her to himself was broken.
By the time Bill eventually showed up to take them home (He and Terrence had a few words) whispering. “Tough luck, George,” in his ear, he was too busy watching the familiar shape of Angelina walking away from him, her arm linked with someone else's.
Thanks for reading and much love from Gabbie. Uragh, I think I've got Audrey and her Weasley next. Right? I need an assistant. :p
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