Disclaimer: "Harry Potter" is the property of J.K. Rowling. Title from "Half Acre" by Hem.
So We Carry Every Sadness With Us
She didn't work up the nerve to approach him until the funeral was almost over. Even then, her stomach was in knots, from grief and loneliness and knowing that he was feeling everything that she was, only a hundred times worse, not to mention that she was half afraid to look him in the face at all, not trusting herself to not...well, God knew what. Call him Fred or something. When she'd Apparated to the Burrow and seen him for the first time, a hard jolt had gone through her upon seeing him. She still didn't know if she'd actually mistaken him for his twin or if she'd allowed herself to hope, absurdly, for one second, that she was looking at Fred.
He was pale; his freckles stood out starkly against his white face, but his eyes were dry. Unlike hers -- she'd been crying intermittently for the last week. He barely looked like himself; certainly he did not look like Fred, and that was odd and a little frightening, but gratifying all the same. Mostly, he looked half-dead. And she hadn't thought that she could feel anything else through her own pain, but she felt a sharp stab of pity and sadness for him -- for this young man, her friend from practically the moment she'd begun her life at Hogwarts, who had lost what had to feel like everything. She certainly felt like she had.
"Hey, Angelina," he said quietly, his gaze meeting hers and almost immediately sliding away. "How are you?"
She didn't miss the bitter ghost of a smile on his face. "Horrible," Angelina answered truthfully, with what she imagined was a similar expression. Then she had to look away, at someone, something, anyone and anything other than George. He was the one person in the world who understood how she felt, knew what she had lost, yet standing there with him was one of the most difficult things she'd ever done.
"Yeah," she heard him say around a hard swallow. "Me too."
Squeezing her eyes shut and feeling a few tears leak out, she drew a long, shuddering breath. "I thought about not coming today, can you believe that? I mean--" Her eyes snapped open and she looked at George, who was blurring from her tears. "You know I loved F-Fred, it's not that, I just -- I just didn't know i-if I c-could--"
She hiccoughed with a sob and pressed the heel of her hand into her forehead. Maybe if she put enough pressure there, it would take away some of the pain that she felt everywhere else, like she'd been bowled over and trampled upon, which was insane; it was insane that she should feel as though she'd taken physical blows, but it did, it really did, and not to mention there was a gaping darkness where her heart should have been, sucking all of her into it, and Fred was gone, really gone, he wasn't ever going to Apparate to her flat at one in the morning and wake her up (and she'd pretend to be grouchy when she couldn't be further from, and he knew but played along anyway), she'd never see his smile again or the way he looked at her sometimes, that complete adoration that made her heart swoop, or his delighted laughter, and she'd never wake up with his arms around her, ever again, comforted by his warmth and strength and nearness...
She willed herself not to cry again. It didn't make her feel better like everyone said it should, it only made her feel empty and ill when she was too exhausted to sob anymore. And George was staring at her, and he looked so lost, and that only made the dark loom larger.
Then, he reached out and took her hand in his. It felt like they were bridging a chasm between them, and her hand was so cold that it could slip from his at any moment, but he wrapped his fingers tightly around hers. The rest of the world slowed and ceased to exist around them.
"I don't know what to do," she whispered.
"That makes two of us," he replied, his voice choking off at the end of the sentence.
She gripped his hand more tightly for a second, and then pulled him into a hug, unsure if it was more for his benefit or hers. Maybe it didn't matter.
For a moment, frozen and eternal, they stood that way, and then the world restarted around them, tugged at them, trying to catch them up in its swirling, chaotic eddies of loss and desolation once more. And for a moment, George had been more to her, something she couldn't describe. Now he was just her lover's brother, his twin, the man who looked just like the one she would have spent her life with (he didn't, not really, but she couldn't let herself get near enough to see that, not now).
"I'm sorry, George," she finally said, as if they were strangers or casual acquaintances. It was not an acknowledgment of grief so much as a boundary, a marker to show him and herself that everything was different now, that she, of all people, could not bear Fred having a twin. She'd lost him. It was torture seeing his face on someone else.
George knew. Angelina could tell he did. He didn't say a word, but then he reached out and touched her face, lightly, in what may have been intended as a comforting gesture.
And then he was gone, swallowed up by the funeral, by Fred's funeral, and Angelina turned and walked away as well.
She had been right to avoid George. He made her feel too much, and she didn't want to sort out the good from the bad. The effort was too much, would always be too much, or at least that was how she felt, and she didn't want to try. At anything. She didn't think she'd want to ever again.