Chapter 5 : What Fred Would Say
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For everyone who gave a story of mine a chance that wasn't a next gen humor.
The guilt came later that evening. George left to buy some firewood at the front desk, leaving me alone with my book and some rusted embers. My thoughts wandered, as thoughts often do when you’re alone.
I couldn’t help but think of what George mentioned in his bedroom before the funeral. That Fred had been waiting for me. That he loved me.
Fred was gone. He couldn’t love me anymore. He couldn’t wait.
Though this nameless thing with George wasn’t exactly forming into a label. I didn’t want a label. I didn’t want ties. I wanted feeling.
Damn it, Fred. Damn you.
George was his brother. His twin! I couldn’t go snogging his twin when I knew damn well if Fred would have told me how he felt on any of my trips home I would have leapt into his arms, regardless of what I’d said before.
I couldn’t do this. It was too soon. Too wrong. We were both vulnerable and hurt. We latched on to each other. In more ways than one.
George shoved open the door with his hip a little while later and the logs landed in a pile by the door. “We can’t do this,” he blurted before I could say anything. “It’s not right.”
I looked up. “What?” I hadn’t expected that from him.
“We’re just vulnerable,” he said, echoing my thoughts. “It’s not real, is it?”
I had no idea what was reality and what was fantasy anymore.
“We’ll just pretend it didn’t happen.”
I didn’t want to pretend it didn’t happen.
“And we’ll just move on.”
I didn’t want to move on.
“And not kiss anymore.”
I wanted to kiss more.
George was right. We were both in fragile states. I was going to say the same thing, but hearing it come from him stung. Worse than I wanted to admit.
“Right.” I smiled and nodded in agreement. Because I agreed.
“Brilliant.” George busied himself with the fire and arranging the logs.
I walked into the kitchen, grabbed a bottle of white wine, and walked out onto the back porch. I sat in the darkness, uncorked it, and started to drink directly from the bottle. That was what people did to mask pain, right? Distractions. Distractions.
All of mine were spoiling around me.
I tossed back some more of the wine. This could distract me for a bit.
George peeked his head out of the door. “Angie?”
“Present,” I said, watching the moon flicker in the lake.
“Have I done something wrong?”
“I’ve done something wrong,” I replied. Shrouded in mystery. Just the way I liked myself when I did the opposite of what I told other people to do. “I’ll be inside in a minute.”
George let me stay outside for a while, though I knew he was watching me through the window. I kept drinking, polishing off the bottle, too lazy to walk (stumble) inside for another. The ease of the day had washed off and everything was now weighing heavily on my shoulders. Collar bone. Spine. Everything ached. I could still feel the stone rubbing against my lower back.
I could still feel his lips against mine.
When I woke, I was in George’s bed. He wasn’t there, of course. It was morning, judging by the thin streak of light in the break of the curtains. My head was throbbing. I vaguely remembered going inside for a second bottle of wine and downing it on the porch. I must have fallen asleep out there since I was still in my clothes.
Wine hangovers were nothing to be trifled with.
George must have heard me stir because he poked his head in the door. “Toast or a little hair of the dog?”
“I want to die,” I muttered, pulling a pillow over my face.
“Would you care to talk? Or still too early for that?”
“You don’t talk about things. Why should I?” I pressed the pillow against my ears because everything was loud.
“Look at you. Come out swinging, why don’t you?” A mug was placed on the bedside table. “It’s tea. Drink it. I’ll be on the porch cleaning up the empty bottles.”
I moaned. “Leave me here to die.”
“I would, but I don’t like sleeping on the sofa.” The door closed behind him.
Bloody George Weasley.
I felt around in the darkness for the mug. The tea burned my tongue, but I kept drinking. I needed to stop feeling like I was run over by a snow plow.
After the mug was finished, I hauled myself out of bed and peered around. My clothes were dirty. I had no change of clothes. I’d been washing my shirt in the bathroom and had been lucky my pants hadn’t been damaged. Until I snogged someone in the grass for a long time. Grass stains everywhere. Dirt.
I had to go home or at the very least to a store.
Home was probably a better option considering I felt both guilty about Fred and hurt by George. Way too many feelings.
While he was outside, I packed my small tote and ate a piece of toast. I remembered my book at the last minute. I closed the door softly behind me since my head was still pounding and the cottage did not believe in aspirin even with a wine cabinet that big.
George stared blankly from the chair I had occupied the previous evening. “Going somewhere?” he asked.
I shrugged. “Ran out of clothes,” I said. “Pants finally bit the dust. I have to go home. It’s probably better if I leave anyway. After yesterday.” My stomach crawled with nerves, which was unfamiliar around him. Heck, he’d asked me for snogging advice in fourth year.
Clearly he’d taken it. Just saying.
“You have to leave?” George echoed.
“Yeah.” I motioned to my pants. Grass stains and all.
“Can’t you just … not wear pants?”
I raised a brow. “Yes, that will make the guilt easier.” I waved. “I hope you come home soon. I know everyone will be missing you.” Yes. Keeping it casual to avoid anything happening. Good or bad.
“Ah.” George still looked stunned.
“See you.” I smiled and walked down the stairs and up the drive. He didn’t follow or call after me. It was for the best, anyway. I didn’t want to accidentally go kissing George Weasley again. That would bring about way too much trouble.
The stones were dry under my feet and I kicked a few on my way back to the front desk where I could be clear of enough cottages to Apparate home. My parents were probably worried sick. I’d have to stop by and see Mrs. Weasley and give her an update.
I paused just around the side of the building and looked back. No George.
For some reason I was sure he’d come.
Shaking my head, I disapparated.
Mrs. Weasley made us lunch while we talked. I told her a lot of what happened. How George felt. That he was getting better. His guilt at looking like his twin and how it impacted the family. She cried a little and I hugged her.
Mum was the only one home when I got there.
“You look like you’ve been drug through the pasture,” she said, eying my pants.
“Should have packed better,” I said, scrunching my nose and heading for my room.
“Something came for you in the post a little bit ago.” She tossed me a letter and settled onto the sofa. “Everything all right?”
I nodded, turning the corner into my familiar surroundings. I peeled off my clothes quickly, got into my pajamas, and sank into bed. “It’s all right now.” Now that I had one more thing to make me emotionally unstable.
I snuggled up under the covers and grabbed the beige envelope, sliding it open with my index finger. A folded piece of crisp, white paper was inside.
I would like to offer you the position of general manager at WWW. Yes, I know it isn’t glamorous and you won’t be on the cover of Quidditch magazines anytime soon, but I think you would enjoy it. Hear me out.
You are amazing as an authority figure. Sometimes I still watch my tongue with you.
You can boss people around and delegate tasks and get your shit done. You’re good at that sort of thing. I lack a lot of those qualities, letting some of my more well-endowed staff members (poor life decision) walk all over me.
You are also one of my dearest friends and someone I trust the most. Who else could I trust with the shop when I’m not there? No one, of course. Ron would probably nick something.
I’m coming home tonight. You’re right. Isolation only helped when there was someone to be isolated with me.
I understand if you want to keep playing Quidditch, but I’ll have robes ready if you change your mind. Among other things.
I stared at the letter for a while, thumbs rubbing the edges until they wrinkled. General Manager. I had always liked being an authority figure. Captain, obviously, but also during group activities and anything that happened over break. Even when we pulled pranks I was the one giving the orders and the twins were the ones giving the ideas.
But it was George.
He’d be my boss. We’d be working together.
We could get past it though. Work through it together. Leave the kissing and the touching behind. The tenderness.
I tossed the letter onto my bedside stand, pulled the blankets over my head, and wondered what Fred would say.
I already knew what Fred would say, though.
I shoved open the door and there was a clang somewhere in the back. It was just after eight and the shop had not been open ten minutes. A pretty girl cashier was flipping through Witch Weekly behind the register. I wondered why she wasn’t stocking or recovering or cleaning.
That was going to change.
“Is George around?” I asked.
“Do you have an appointment?” the girl said. She popped her gum.
“No,” I said. “Do I need one?”
“No.” She shrugged. “He’s in his office.”
Right. Okay. I could only assume her shirt was cut very low during her interview.
I walked down one of the long aisles to the back of the shop where I’d been recently. I knocked on the office door. “The robes better fit,” I said as it swung open.
George stared, grinning like an idiot. “They’ll fit,” he said, shoving some purple robes into my hands. “I’m glad you came. You won’t regret it.” He looked good. Liked he’d been sleeping.
“You’re really happy to be filling this position. Did the other interviews not work out?” I unfolded the robes and slid them on. He was right. They fit.
“I just banked on you coming,” George replied. “Should we get straight to training?”
“Sure.” I shrugged. “I’d like to fire your cashier.”
“Hilda? She’s so pretty though.”
“She popped her gum at me.”
“Ah.” He blushed. “She’ll have to go, huh?”
“Yes.” I rolled up the sleeves of the robes. “What’s first?”
George looked like he was fighting with himself, trying to figure out what to show me first. “I’m really sorry,” he said. “I’m a little scatterbrained.”
“Okay.” I looked around the office. “Just do whatever you want first. I’m game.”
He glanced up, eyes meeting mine. Then George shoved me back against the dry erase calendar and kissed me hard, his hands on my hips under the robes.
That time I shoved him away. “What’re you doing?” I said breathlessly. “What about – well, everything?”
“Bollocks on everything.” His eyes were glazed with lust. Something I’m sure mirrored in my own. “I’m not leaving again and hell, if I’m staying, I’m not letting you go. Not now.”
I still couldn’t quite catch my breath.
I smiled and kissed him. He picked me up and I wrapped my legs around his middle and we sank into the wall, kissing. At one point the cashier girl knocked on the door to ask about her break, but we didn’t answer. We didn’t care.
We had each other now and that was enough.
Fred would have said, “What took you so long, schnookums?”
A/N: Thank you again to everyone who stopped by to check out this story. It means a lot to me because, like I said before, it was a story I thought needed to be told. My biggest heartbreak in the HP series wasn't Remus and Tonks or Sirius or even Hedwig... it was the moment Fred died. And I'd partially seen it coming but was living in blissful denial all through the pages, only to throw my book at the wall (the dent in the spine is still there ... and in the wall) when it happened.
So when Freddo in "Hormones" mentioned the way his parents got together, I couldn't stop thinking about it. The story formed and here it is. So thank you to everyone who read this story. Thank you with hugs to those of you who volunarily shared your thoughts as I shared a story.
And I really hope at least one person who reads this realizes they're a hero. All of you are.
*pinches your cheeks*