A/N: Thanks so much to everyone who read and reviewed this! This is the end of this particular story, but I've come to love G/A almost as much as F/A, and so I will definitely be writing more about them.
"Are you ready maybe, are you willing to run? Are you ready to let yourself drown? Are you holding your breath, are you ready or not?" -- Texas, "Put Your Arms Around Me"
The changing rooms were dark when Angelina arrived, wringing the leavings of a March rain shower out of her hair, and for a minute, she stood, with the lights off, enjoying the silence. There was something magical about getting to the stadium before everyone else, something about the way the air smelled and the fact that she was the first to breathe it that day, and the promise of being airborne soon.
She slowly changed out of her clothes and into her Quidditch robes. A month had passed since she'd seen George, and she was impressed with how she'd handled herself -- no drinking, mostly, which meant she was unlikely to engage in other activities. But she'd spent the better part of five years pining for someone she could never have, and she didn't want to start that all over again, especially for someone whom she could see in an instant.
Sometimes she wondered why she didn't just go speak with George. Not to try to talk him out of his decision, necessarily, but just to look at him, say something, anything to him. Pride, she supposed, held her back. And it was stupid, she knew that. But then again, she wasn't going to beg or cry that she wanted to be with him. Either he wanted her or he didn't, and he could come find her and make things different.
Just as she finished strapping on her guards, Mehreen Khan sailed in, with Octavia Hughes on her heels. Neither the Beater nor the Keeper (respectively) seemed surprised to find Angelina there.
"Hey," Mehreen said cheerfully. "Good weekend?"
"Not bad. Yours?"
"Octavia dragged me to some club. A few cute blokes, but nothing too exciting. And none as handsome as your red-haired admirer." Mehreen waggled her eyebrows ridiculously and Angelina laughed.
"What a whinger," Octavia said in a stage-whisper, which Mehreen responded to by chucking a shin guard at her.
"Well, I'm glad you two enjoyed yourselves," Angelina said. "I stayed in and educated myself on the uses of Murtlap tentacles in cooking."
"You need to find yourself a man, Johnson," Mehreen offered sagely. "Liven your Saturday nights up a bit."
"And Sunday mornings," Octavia added fairly.
Angelina pretended to be scandalised. "What a load of rude insinuations!"
With a cheeky grin, Mehreen said, "While we're on the subject, what's happened to your admirer? I haven't seen him waiting for you lately."
"No," Angelina said in an attempt at an offhand tone, "Nor have I."
"Not livening up any of your nights, then?"
The Team Captain, Theodosia Kostas, came in with Aodheen at that moment, and the former barked at them (in a not entirely serious fashion, but still) to stop chattering and get changed. They hastened to do so and joined their male teammates on the pitch, but as they walked outside, Aodheen fell into step beside Angelina and said, "Talking of your admirer, I saw him come in."
"What?" Angelina practically yelped.
Aodheen grinned. "Check the stands."
Sure enough, there he was, sitting about halfway up with his feet propped up on the seat in front of him. She didn't give him any indication that she'd spotted him, nor he her, and he was much too far away for her to make out his expression. Her stomach twisted immediately into knots as she imagined what he had to say to her. For some reason, she wasn't necessarily convinced she was going to like it.
For the first ten minutes of practice, she found his presence so distracting that she flew rather badly, dropped the Quaffle several times, and nearly got hit in the face by a Bludger from the team's other Beater, Benjamin Gale, who yelled an apology at her. After she felt the iron ball brush past her ear, she wrenched herself into concentrating on Quidditch, not what George Weasley was thinking, which would not help her one bit if she lost her place on the team.
After that, she wasn't exactly brilliant, but she did pull off what she thought was an excellent double reverse pass while coming out of a roll, so the day's training wasn't a complete loss.
When Theodosia's whistle sounded several hours later, the team landed on the pitch. Angelina nearly followed them back inside to the changing rooms, unsure, at this last moment of decision, if she even wanted to face George. But then, her pesky subconscious demanded, Have you or have you not faced torture and death at the hands of Death Eaters? This is nothing, and you're not a coward, even if you like to pretend you are.
With a deep sigh, she mounted her broom again and zipped up the stands to where George was sitting.
He stood up at her approach, a cautious smile on his face. "Hi," he said when she landed and planted her broomstick on the bench.
"Hi," she returned, keeping her voice casual. "Why aren't you at the shop?"
George stuck his hands in his pockets. "Ron's there today. I told him I had something important to do."
"Oh? What's that?"
He looked her directly in the eye, and she didn't know if she was grateful for this or not. There was a determined glint in his gaze that she hadn't an inkling about the meaning of. She just hoped he wouldn't cause a scene in front of her teammates. Come to that, maybe that should have occurred to her before she decided to speak to him in full view of them.
Clearing his throat, George told her, "I wanted to apologise. For the things I said to you." She must have looked blank, because he clarified, "When I saw you last."
In fact, if she looked blank, it was because this was the last thing she wanted to hear. An apology? Was he joking? She wanted this weird state of romantic limbo to end, either in a declaration of his undying devotion to her (extreme, maybe, but obviously preferable) or a denial of any feelings altogether.
She furrowed her brow. "Oh. George, that's fine. I'm not...angry at you, or anything."
"Well, I'm glad for that."
"Did you think I was?"
"I was a git to you, why shouldn't you be angry? No warning or anything, I just spewed all of that at you."
Against her will, she giggled a little -- so he was sure to pick up on her nervousness, because she didn't giggle at any other time -- and said, "That's a lovely way of putting it."
"Definitely," she replied, raising an eyebrow.
"So, I'm sorry. I was..." He hesitated. "...out of order, at the very least."
Angelina sobered quickly. For a second, things had seemed normal between them again, but now they were back to awkwardness. "I don't need an apology. There's nothing to apologise for. That's the way you feel, and I'm an adult, I can handle it."
"I think you're missing the point --"
Annoyance flared within her. It was one thing for him to give her a meaningless apology, but it was quite another for him to condescend to her. So she was missing the point, was she?
"Don't you dare," she interrupted sharply, glaring at him. He looked as though he'd been slapped. "Do not patronise me, George, or treat me like a child, or pretend that this is somehow a misunderstanding that's just going to be cleared up. I'm not interested in playing games -- I love you, for Merlin's sake!" She clamped her mouth shut, nostrils flaring. That wasn't supposed to have come out.
"You...you do?" He sounded dazed and not necessarily pleased with her exclamation.
"Would I say it if it weren't true?" she responded brusquely.
He blinked and said weakly, "Angelina..."
She snapped her broom back up. "Leave it. I'll see you, George." Whirling, she stomped down the stands, shoulders set resolutely and robes fluttering from the suddenness of her departure. She refused to think about what had just happened or feel anything about it. She especially didn't want to feel anything about it.
There was a sudden clamor behind her and before she had a chance to do anything, she felt George's hand gripping her arm. She prepared herself to say something biting as he turned her towards him and she looked into those wonderful, warm brown eyes of his.
But before she had a chance to make a sound, his lips were on hers and he was kissing her fiercely, and she was kissing him back and his arm was around her waist and her hands were on his shoulders, and she thwacked him in the side of the head with her broom (which she hadn't had time to even think about letting go of) but he didn't seem to care at all.
He pulled away and put his hands on either side of her face. "That," he said softly, "was what I came here to do. If you'll have me, of course. Because I love you, too."
"I was hoping to hear you say that," she said, fighting to keep her smile from becoming too idiotic looking (failing miserably, however).
A wide grin broke out on George's face, which she would have loved to look at longer, except she also felt that that first kiss had been far too short. She threw her arms around his neck exuberantly (dropping her broom in the process) and he wrapped his arms around her waist, and they bumped their faces together, which both of them laughed at and which prompted George to comment, "We obviously need more practice at this," and her agreement became a bit muffled as they kissed again, deeply and with every intention of savouring the moment -- several moments, really, it was hard to keep track of time with George's arms around her and his mouth on hers and their bodies pressed together and her stomach and head feeling distinctly and exhilaratingly like she was in a continuous barrel roll one hundred feet up in the air.
They were interrupted by shrill wolf whistles and whoops from the other side of the pitch, and they broke apart again to see half of the Ballycastle Bats standing there, setting up a raucous cry. Angelina laughed and waved cheerfully at them.
"Shall we give them a real show?" George asked, quirking an eyebrow and grinning crookedly.
She snorted. "It depends on what you mean."
"Well," he said, "I don't know about you, but I always imagined fireworks for moments like this." To her amusement, he pulled a handful of Weasleys' Wildfire Whiz-bangs out of his robes.
"You just happened to have those on you?" she asked, laughing.
"Best to be prepared for anything," he replied solemnly -- or at least, he would have done if he hadn't been grinning so broadly. "I thought if my stirring and heartfelt words didn't convince you, these might."
Then, he threw them into the air above the pitch and ignited them with his wand. They exploded into pin-wheeling bursts of bright colour, and at any other time she would have watched them with delight -- because no one did pyrotechnics quite like the Weasleys, after all -- but George was running his hands down her back insistently, and she turned to face him so they could continue where they'd left off.
Fireworks, she mused distantly, seemed to be the most auspicious and fitting beginning to life with George Weasley.