Whoop-whoop! Chapter 3!
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Quote belongs to Kevin Welch. You'll know it when you see it.
Their feet hit the hard ground with a thud. They were in a spacious back-garden, not as big as the one at the Burrow, but big enough for a house on a terrace. There was a wooden shed down in one corner and various bicycles against the back wall. An old barbeque set stood near the back door. Angelina fished out her keys from her robes and opened the patio door.
"I haven't been here in five years." George mused.
"I had it rented out for the past two years but the tenants moved out in March and I came back in early April."
"Why didn't you come visit?"
"I tried the Burrow. The wards around the house were too strong for uninvited guests. I wrote to Fred though… he came over when he could. I thought he would have told you." Angelina finally managed to get the back door open and led George into the kitchen. "Sorry, the door sticks. Wasn't used very much, I don't think."
The kitchen was just as George remembered; mostly white tiles on the walls with green floor tiles. The layout was different though. Before it was a standard magical interior hidden inside a very muggle looking exterior. Now it had muggle appliances that George had never seen before, unless it was broken in his father's shed.
"When have you eaten last?"
"I'm not really hungry."
"I didn't ask if you were hungry, George. Eggs?"
"Sounds great." He smiled. Angelina set a pot of water to boil and pottered around the kitchen as George walked around the downstairs of the house. The living room had changed too and a television sat in the corner though a layer of dust covered it. George supposed Angelina didn't use to very much. The same sofas and armchairs existed, as well as the coffee table. There was a stack of magazines, mostly muggle but a few copies of Witch Weekly were thrown on top of the pile. An old record player was in the corner, which was considerably less dusty than the television set. Angelina also had various copies of her CV, each written out in perfect hand writing, not a drop of ink smudged.
The fireplace was blocked too by an electric fire though the fireplace itself was the same. George noticed a long picture frame containing three pictures on top of the mantelpiece. The left one was of Angelina's father; "Derek Johnson 1949-1988" was engraved in small lettering above it. The picture to the far right was of her mother; "Matilda Johnson 1952-1994" In the centre was a picture of the couple, their arms around each other and smiling. The quote engraved on the bottom of the frame however did not instil such joy. "There'll be two dates on your tombstone and all your friends will read them. But all that is going to matter is that little dash between them."
George lifted his hand and ran his fingers over the quote. His mind fell to Fred's little temporary cross. Fred Gideon Weasley 1978-1998. He had never thought of the tiny dash as one's life, as symbolic of second they had alive on the earth, every person they met, every laugh they shared and every tear they shed.
George's attention was pulled away from the picture as Angelina brought in two plates of poached eggs and sausages. She lay them down on the coffee table with knives and forms, tidied up the resumés and went back to the kitchen.
"Hey, do you want-" She shouted into the room.
"Don't say tea. I'm fucking sick of tea." George groaned, taking a seat on the couch.
"I was going to offer you a beer."
"That would be fantastic." George smiled.
They ate their food in silence, then reclined on the couch, beers in hand. "I like the pictures of our parents. The quote… it's…"
"It reminds me to never take a day for granted." Angelina smiled, taking a swig of her beer.
"It's nice. Are you going to let me in on the last past two years. I hardly saw you."
"Well I spent them in Ireland with my aunt. I worked in a respite centre for families affected by the war. Pre-Hogwarts age mostly. Sometimes it could be one man or woman there with his kids and then his nieces and nephews because the adults were fighting or working here still."
"Katie accused me of running away from the war and not helping… but I was. I just… I was helping those lucky enough to escape."
"If you could get away from it, you did. That's what it was like here… some people have just left."
"We even took in parents of Muggle-borns too. I had Dean Thomas's mother and little sister in, as well as Colin Creevy's parents. I… I went to Colin's funeral yesterday."
"Holding up… but Colin wasn't even supposed to have been there, George…"
"I know," he squeezed her hand. "Did you come back here much over the two years?"
"Only a handful of times… I swear I did write. Fred only replied to every second or third letter. I came to the shop once, to get some stuff for the kids in the Hostel… You were out. I asked Fred is it was Order business and he just shushed me and looked around like someone was watching him."
"We were being watched every day. We were often separated for Order work so we wouldn't have to close the shop and raise suspicion."
"Yeah I know… We eventually got talking when the shop closed. God I missed you two so much when I was away… and now I know I'll never see him again and it feels so much worse… I'll never get to apologise to him."
"What was the apology for?"
"We… Fred, he… Well you know we were kind of dating in school."
"Yeah I remember."
"When we left… we lost contact, as you know. I went to Ireland but we still saw each other. I'd come back every month or so for a night."
"I told you, I did write…"
"He never told me any of this. I don't understand…"
"I think… he-we both kind of wanted it to be just us sometimes."
"Yeah… but then we had this big fight. He told me he couldn't do it anymore he wouldn't tell me why."
"I got so mad at him. And I told him I was seeing someone over in Ireland."
"Please stop saying Oh. I can't ever take back what I said to him! He died thinking I was cheating on him."
"No, Angelina, he didn't…"
"He did though…" Her eyes started to water again and she looked up at the mantelpiece. "They taught me to always be honest and I lied. He was the only guy I was ever with and I ruined that."
"He ended it, Ange. Don't go thinking you ruined it."
"I can't apologise though. And if I did, I'd be known as a liar. Which is worse? A liar or a cheater?"
"Angelina, you are a really bad liar." George laughed a little. "I dare say he knew. Nobody knew you better than he did."
"Am I really that bad of a liar?"
"Damn. I don't think I ever told a lie to my mum or dad."
"I'm an expert at lying to my mum and dad."
"Oh I know," she smiled. "Tell me, what is happening with the shop?"
"I haven't really thought about it."
"Okay, I've been thinking about it a lot… we promised each other that if one didn't make it out, we wouldn't give up… and if we both died… we left the shop to Lee and Ron in our wills."
"I might wait until after Hogwarts has been rebuilt."
"I am hoping to stay here long enough to help rebuild but I am needed in Dublin. There are a lot of loose ends to tie up. Some kids don't have parents anymore. I have to get them relocated to foster parents."
"Don't leave it too long."
"I won't. I'll be job hunting as soon as I get back."
"I will help in any way you can."
"Thank you." Angelina reached out and gave his hand a squeeze, then plucked the empty beer bottle away from him left to fetch more.
I just want to let you all in on something that went on in Ireland in the 1960/70/80s. There was major conflict in Northern Ireland between two main groups of people who fought over British control in Northern Ireland, but also over the occupation of Protestants and Catholics in the same districts too. I am not great at trying to explain this to people who wouldn't know much about the history but basically there was a LOT of civil unrest, IRA bombings and civilians getting killed in riots and such. SO! Places in the south started opening up schools and other such buildings to offer respite 'holidays' to families, especially with young children. It took them out of the danger zone for a while. They could have a bit of peace of mind too and relax without worrying that their house could be beside the next car bomb to go off. Both my parents volunteered in one of the schools through the Order of Malta in Dublin. My Mam would tell me stories of the times and such so it gave me inspiration for Angelina's job.
I guess it's a bit like children being sent to the countryside during WWII so they wouldn't be harmed in the cities but more short term.