Vexation (WTR Interlude #1)

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“It smells like a barn in here.”

“Go away,” George mutters, pulling the cover over his head as he buries his face into his pillow.

“You know that I never listen to you, George, so what makes you think I’m going to start now?”

Instead of replying, he ignores her. If he keeps his eyes closed and doesn’t talk to her, Angelina will leave, and then he can pretend that everything’s okay. It’s not healthy, he knows, but he just doesn’t bloody care. He made it through the roughest week of his life, was strong and capable so his family wouldn’t worry about him, and now he’s just ready to wallow for awhile.

“When’s the last time you had a shower?” Angelina asks. “Your mum said it’s been a few days since you were around, but that stench is definitely a week old, at least.”

Ignoring her isn’t working. He frowns into the pillow and resists the urge to sniff to see if it really smells as bad as she’s shrilly claiming. When he feels a hand on his foot, he kicks out, not caring that he’s being rude and immature. “Leave me alone.”

“I can’t hear you,” Angelina says in that annoying sing-song tone she had always used to taunt them in Quidditch practice during her reign as coach. “These sheets could stand up on their own, which means they need to be changed. Now, I can be nice and wait for you to get your sorry arse up so I can get them off, or I can roll you right off onto the floor if you keep ignoring me. Right now, I’m voting for the latter.”

George growls and raises his head, turning to look back at her. “I said leave it.”

Angelina arches a brow and taps her foot. “I’d suggest a more guttural tone if you’re going for intimidating. Right now, you're not even managing slightly scary.”

“Ange, just go home. Please? I’m alive, so you can tell my mum to stop worrying.”

“She doesn’t want you to just be alive, Weasley. She wants you clean and fed and active, not hiding beneath your covers.”

“You don’t know what she wants,” he says sharply. “So don’t stand there acting like you know anything at all, Johnson. I didn’t invite you here, so get the fuck out of my flat.”

Angelina flinches but doesn’t back down. If anything, she looks angrier, which makes him wonder if he went too far. She’s nearly as tall as him and one of the strongest women he knows, physically as well as mentally, so it isn’t cowardly to fear that she very well might kick his arse without even breaking a sweat.

“I know that it hurts me to see you like this, so I can bloody well imagine how your mum must feel. I also know that hiding away and pretending nothing’s happened isn’t going to bring Fred back!”

“Don’t talk about him!” George curls his fingers around his sheet as he glares up at her. “Just don’t!”

“I’m so disappointed in you, George,” she says with a snarl that makes him feel like he’s a child. He tenses automatically and narrows his eyes at her. “Do you think you’re the only one who is suffering? Do you think you’re the only person who feels like hiding away and wishing Fred was back to make it all better?”

“It’s not the same. He’s---he was my twin, my other half, and it’s only been two weeks since he left me but it feels like it’s been so much longer.” He stops shouting and ducks his head. His mum would smack the back of his head if she had any idea he’d just yelled at a woman. With a frustrated groan, he kicks his feet off the edge of the bed and sits up, rubbing his face as he avoids looking at her.

“I miss him every day. I can’t stop thinking that the last thing I said to him was to keep his eyes open. That’s it. I didn’t tell him I loved him or to stay alive or anything. No, I said ‘keep your eyes open’, and he winked at me and the next time I saw him, he was dead.”

“Yeah, well, the last thing I told him was we’d get a pint after the war. Like it was a Quidditch match instead of something that would change our entire world.” George laughs humorlessly. “And he said ‘Your treat, Gred’ before he ran off fighting.”

“At least you have more than a wink.“ She sighs. “I know he was your twin, but it’s selfish of you to think that no one else is hurting or missing him,” Angelina tells him. “You can’t do this. I won’t lose you, too.”

“I just miss him so much, Ange,” George admits, reaching up to wipe at his eyes. “I was able to make it until the funeral, but, God, that broke me. Seeing him, and the dirt, and then he was gone. Really gone. I just---” He trails off and reaches up to puts his hands over his face.

The mattress moves, and he feels her hand on his shoulder. “Fred would hate to see you this way, George. You know that he’d kick your arse,” she says bluntly. “Since he’s not here, I’ll just have to do it for you.”

He snorts and then sniffs, using the sheet to wipe his face. “I’d like to see you try, Captain.”

“Don’t tempt me.” She laughs softly and kisses his cheek. “Seriously, you’re scaring us. It’s not like we expect everything to be great, but we’re worried. If you don’t listen to me, then Granger’s coming by, and you know that girl’s scarier than me. She’d hex you into shape, too, whereas I’ll just beat you up.”

“Didn’t mean to worry anyone,” he mumbles, shrugging. “I just can’t handle it yet. Thought I could but it all came crashing down.”

“I’ll make you a deal. You get up and put the laundry on, eat whatever I can actually make from what little you have in the kitchen, and I’ll call off the cavalry for a few more days.”

George looks at her and nods slowly. “It’s a deal,” he murmurs. He reaches for her hand and squeezes. “He loved you a lot, you know? Used to tease him about it, from the time he was fourteen. I figure that wink was his way of telling you.”

“I know,” Angelina says, smiling as she leans her head against his shoulder. “And I like that theory. Now, get up and go take a shower. You stink.”

“Yeah, yeah. Quit your nagging,” he groans, kissing her forehead before he stands up and goes to shower. He listens to her muttering about smelly sheets and clothes on the floor, which makes him smile for the first time in weeks.

End Interlude