Title: A Lid For Every Pot, George Weasley
Summary: Set a couple of years post-war. Still struggling with the absence of his twin, George Weasley needs some time away from the world he grew up in to heal. Alice Clark wants a flat mate who doesn't want to kill and eat her. It was perfect... Except not really. George/OC Ron/Hermione Harry/Ginny
Chapter Eighteen - Disloyalty
George walked with Alice along the hallway to her bedroom, keeping his steps deliberately slow as if he were escorting an unsteady elderly relative. He kept a gentle hand on her elbow, unsure what the sudden flooding of her system with Amortentia antidote would do to her sense of balance. At least that was what he told himself. As they reached her door, he let go and stepped back, suddenly feeling awkward and out of place "I um... I'll let you get some rest. I'll be just down the hall if you need anything." He mumbled, the intimacy of their earlier conversation evaporated. It seemed that outside of the confined space of the bathroom, he suddenly felt nervous around Alice once more.
She stared at him for a moment, still a little mussed from her most recent adventure. She should be exhausted, George thought to himself. Instead, although holding back a gigantic yawn, her eyes were bright and alert, a tiny frown wrinkling her brow as she attempted to assimilate what had just happened to her. Silently, she nodded and reached for the door handle. Stepping inside her room, she offered him a gentle smile and shut the door behind her. George sighed heavily and made his way along to his own bedroom, closing the door and leaning heavily against it. No sooner had he done so however, than there was a knock from the other side. Frowning, he opened the door to reveal Alice wearing a pyjama shirt but still in her jeans, presumably having been halfway through changing for bed when the need to speak with him had struck. George tried not to find this adorable. He opened his mouth to ask if she was alright but she beat him to it.
"Are you hungry?"
George stared at her for a few seconds, the words catching briefly in his throat before he could get them out "Starving."
X x X
"How did you know that you were magical?" Alice leaned forward over the kitchen table, which was littered with an array of food containers that she had had delivered to the house. They had fallen on the food like hungry animals the moment it had arrived, not bothering to find plates. Alice had fished a bottle of wine from the fridge and poured them both generous glasses. Despite his exhaustion, George was feeling satiated and warm as the alcohol loosened his tense limbs.
"It runs in some families. My parents are magical, as were their parents and so on." George shrugged "It was just something we grew up around."
Alice nodded, reaching for another spring roll "So everyone in your family can do what you did in the bathroom?"
George nodded "It doesn't always work like that, though. Just because you're born into a magical family doesn't mean you will have any magical talent - it's pretty rare but not impossible. Alternatively, some children are what we call Muggleborn - they have non-magical lineage but develop magical powers in childhood. Just before their eleventh birthday, they receive a visit from an elected official to explain everything to them and their family and inform them that they have a place in a magical school."
"There's a school?"
George nodded again "There are several. We went to Hogwarts." He thought he saw Alice blanch slightly at this but couldn't be sure. She stared at the leftover food meditatively for a moment "And you only know about this place if you're magical?"
"Or if someone in your immediate family is magical. Wizards and witches do marry muggles. I think for their safety they aren't allowed to be too familiar with magic and they aren't allowed to tell anyone else, but it does happen."
"Huh." Alice drained the rest of her wine "So the magic world is a pretty big secret?"
"The biggest. Alice, I'm begging you - please don't talk about this to anyone." George gave her a pleading look "It would put you in too much danger for me to be able to protect you. I know you've already been through so much today but I need you to promise you won't tell anyone you know about the Wizarding world."
Alice stared at him impassively for a moment "You know," she said finally "I think I've heard you say more words together today than I've heard you say since you've lived here."
George offered her a small smile "It's easier to keep a secret when you aren't talking." He said wryly.
Alice raised an eyebrow "It seems like it would be easier to flatshare with another wizard... How come you decided to live with me?"
"Because you let me." George tried his best to sound flippant, but his voice caught in his throat. Alice tipped her head sideways and gave him a scrutinising look "George."
He sighed sadly "After Fred died, I... Didn't know what to do. I couldn't face going back to the shop and living at home was just as painful. Everything I saw reminded me of him. Because of the war, a lot of magical families were applying for relocation - deciding to live as muggles. They couldn't bear to bring their children up in the wake of everything that had happened. I thought I would apply too, but a friend-" he smiled in spite of himself "-talked me out of deciding right away. She told me to try living as a muggle first to see if I could manage it, that she had a childhood friend looking for a new flatmate and thought that living with her would be good for me."
Alice stared at him, her mouth hanging open "You mean - Hermione is a - a-"
"Witch? Of course." George grinned across the table "Brightest Witch of her age, so it's been said."
"Well." Alice puffed out her cheeks, shaking her head incredulously "I mean - Well! I'm certainly going to be having words with her the next time I see her!"
"Actually, it might be best if you don't mention this to Hermione either..." George trailed off awkwardly. Alice gave him a confused frown and he said hurriedly "It's just that she works for the Wizarding government and they're rather... strict about these things."
"Could you... Get into a lot of trouble for telling me about magic?" Alice asked, suddenly concerned "Could you be arrested?"
George shifted uncomfortably in his chair, eyes cast downwards "We have a statute of secrecy that could result in a prison sentence if it gets breached. Technically speaking, I'm supposed to perform a spell that wipes your memory of everything magical..." He trailed off, glancing up at her from beneath his lashes. Alice stared back at him.
"Why haven't you?" She asked quietly. There was no fear in her voice, no accusation. George stared at her, trying to understand what she meant. Alice tried again "I mean... Wouldn't it be safer for you if I didn't know about..." She gestured at the empty air "all of this?"
"Are you saying that you want me to erase your memory?" George couldn't help but be surprised by the feeling of disappointment that this prospect gave him. Alice shook her head vehemently.
"Not at all! Don't get me wrong, today has been..." She scrabbled for the right word "surprising to say the least, but finding out that there's a whole other world living alongside mine is amazing. George, that thing you did with the water in the bathroom - I mean wow." She breathed, her eyes alight with a fire by which he found himself more warmed than he cared to admit "But if my knowing about magic would get you into trouble... George, I don't want you to be in danger because of me."
"You would allow your memory to be tampered with to keep me safe?" Alice nodded shyly and George felt a swell of feeling in his chest, followed by the crushing guilt caused by knowing that she was offering to sacrifice part of herself for him when he hadn't been entirely truthful with her "Alice, I have to tell you something..." What could he say? 'I think you might be unknowingly harbouring powerful repressed magic that could see you experimented on for the rest of your natural life and what's more, I think it may be the reason that a known war criminal is after you'? George floundered inwardly as he imagined her reaction to him revealing to her that he believed she was magical too; right now, she was merely an outside observer to a fascinating world. Would she feel the same once she found out that once upon a time she could have had a place in it but had somehow slipped through the net? He wondered how she could have been overlooked for a place at Hogwarts, how the Ministry could possibly have missed her. She would want to know, and right now he didn't know what to tell her. He needed to be able to give her more information. Arlene's face flashed into his mind. Perhaps he should talk to her before broaching the subject with Alice. Now he thought about it, it had been obvious all along that the older lady knew more than she had been letting on, and her sudden presence in the downstairs flat was clearly not as much a coincidence as it had appeared.
Alice stared at him expectantly, her expression trusting and hopeful. George swallowed his confession and sighed inwardly "Hermione was right - Living with you has been the best thing to happen to me for a long time." He could feel himself blushing as he realised the truth in what he was saying. He was still miles from feeling whole again but living here, in this homey and warm flat with this wonderfully bright and fiercely kind woman had started to breathe life back into him, started to make him feel like there may be some life left worth living.
The smile she gave him was radiant "I think that you living here may be one of the best things to happen to me too." She poured them each another glass of wine and glanced cheekily at him "Not least because I'm not sure who else would have been able to rescue me from the clutches of a love potion. Just think - I might have been stuck mooning after that horrible creep forever. Then again," she sighed mournfully "With my track record of falling in love with bastards, who would have noticed the difference?"
The words came tumbling out before he could stop them "I'd never forgive myself if you got hurt because of me."
The words hung between them as they stared at one another, processing what George had just said. Alice played with the stem of her wine glass as she studied him, her expression thoughtful. It seemed as though she was seeing him for the first time. George felt strangely vulnerable under her gaze, but willingly so. He felt as though she was opening him up, carefully dismantling the walls he had painstakingly constructed around his heart and looking at him, casting a tender light on his cold soul. She smiled again "And I'd never forgive myself if you got hurt because of me. So I suppose that means we're stuck with one another."
X X X
"You can't possibly be serious!" George gave a start as an incredulous yell jerked him from sleep. Panicked, he rose from his bed and stumbled out into the hallway, moving toward the sound. He and Alice had only gone to bed as it had gotten light, and a quick glance at his watch told him that he had been asleep for around four hours.
Arriving in the kitchen he was met with the sight of Alice, still in her pyjamas, arms crossed and glaring furiously at the man standing across from her. George recognised him as one of the other members of her band. He was a tall and rangy bloke, dressed in clothes that were far too young and fashionable for him "Al," he was saying "Daniel and Blake are completely up for this and you have to admit that it's a really good deal..."
"How is it a good deal, a Teddy?" Alice asked "The offer to play at the wedding of my sister and my ex-boyfriend?" She threw her hands in the air in frustration "Can't you see they're only asking us to make trouble for me? If I agree to it, it will look like I'm completely fine with the fact that they were shagging behind my back for months and if I don't agree to it, the rest of you will resent me for saying no!"
"So it has nothing to do with the fact that Saving Carla is a great band and deserves to be paid a lot of money?" Teddy looked annoyed "Plus the fact that your sister told me that she has some record producer friends who will be there who might be interested in us? Is it not possible that perhaps she's trying to help you? To maybe make up for what happened?"
Alice let out a bark of laughter "Record producers? Teddy, Sarah doesn't know any record producers! If you believe that, you'll believe anything..."
"What do you know? You barely speak with your sister! When she came to see Blake and I about booking the band, she said you'd always been cold towards her, that you'd always hated having to share your mother with her and your stepfather-"
"-You know what, Teddy?" Alice's eyes flashed dangerously and George heard a tiny crack. Glancing over at the kitchen window, he could see a few tiny hairline splinters appearing in the corner of the pane "You can do whatever you like. Play the wedding, don't play the wedding - it's up to you. But whatever you decide, you can count me out. I'm done. I don't want to see any of you ever again. Leave." Her voice quivered with barely controlled rage. Teddy glared at her for a moment, clenching and unclenching his fists before stomping out of the kitchen. Alice and George listened as he stormed down the corridor and slammed the front door, causing the cracked pane of glass in the kitchen window to shatter making them both jump.
"Unbelievable." Alice muttered, hurrying to the kitchen sink where most of the fragments had fallen. George joined her there, putting a hand on her shoulder to stop her reaching for the shards. Alice shook her head "It's OK George, I can manage..." She said with false brightness, though her eyes were glistening with unshed tears. George shook his head and gently moved her hands away. He whispered a quick 'Reparo', and seconds later, the windowpane was once again whole. Alice stared at the window for a moment, her mouth slightly open "I don't think I'll ever get used to that." She murmured, then a little sadly "I don't suppose that one works for fixing broken friendships, does it?"
"If it helps, you're probably better off without those kinds of friends..." George said gently "But I'm sorry that they hurt you." Alice gave him a wobbly smile before covering her face with her hands "Oh God George, this is such a mess…"
"Don't worry…" said George hurriedly, although inwardly he felt the tug of nervousness as he realised that Nott would almost certainly realise that Alice was no longer under the effects of the Amortentia when Teddy gave the band the news that Alice didn't want to see any of them - that was, if he hadn't already worked it out when she had failed to go and meet with him the day before "I promise you we'll figure something out." Hopefully before Nott turns up at the flat which he probably will sooner or later… George ran a hand over his face, quickly formulating a plan "Will you be alright here for a bit? There's someone I need to speak with."