Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling. Title from 'Getaways Turned Holidays' by Meg & Dia.
She finds him in the men's toilet on the second floor.
Angelina doesn't have to go inside to spot him – not that she'd have been deterred; the idea of privacy at the minute seems quite absurd – because a piece is blasted out of the wall and she can see straight through to the sink and the mirror on the far wall. The flash of ginger through the gray stone arrests her progress down the corridor; for a second she studies him in the mirror to make sure she's about to approach the right twin until it hits her in the chest all over again so that she has to put a hand to the wall to steady herself – Fred is gone.
It'll be no trouble telling them apart ever again (not that it's been since July anyway, that missing ear of George's that he never grew his hair long enough to cover setting him apart easily enough).
He's washing up, and when she opens the door his shoulders stiffen and he glances into the mirror, flinches at his own reflection, and then meets her eyes. "It's just me," she says unnecessarily. She takes a few steps closer and sees that there's blood caked all up his arms, and that makes her rush forward the remaining distance. "George, are you—" she begins frantically. And all she can think is not both of them, please not both of them.
He takes a scoop of water and rubs it up his arm, and the blood thins from red to pink and dribbles off his skin, and she sees then that it's spattered on his shirt as well, some spots dried to rusty brown but others fresher, and she doesn't dare ask whose it is. "It's not mine," he says, as though reading her mind. She's surprised by the strength of his voice; she somehow expects that he wouldn't be able to speak.
For the first time, she notices legs sprawling out from one of the cubicles, and she starts, though God knows she's seen enough bodies tonight that it shouldn't surprise her. "Death Eater," George says, staring fixedly down at his arms as he scrubs at the blood there. "He was in our year. Lovitt, you remember him?"
"Slytherin," she says, her mouth dry. "He used to sit behind me in Charms and pull my braids."
"Git," he remarks, though there doesn't seem to be much feeling in it.
She's on the side with the missing ear. She never needed such a stark difference to tell them apart, but plenty did. She wonders if the Death Eater who'd killed Fred knew which twin it was. "George," she says, and her voice catches so she tries again, "George, why aren't you with your family?" His eyes are still downcast and he's working at a particularly stubborn patch of dried blood that's spread out over a cluster of freckles that she knows so well from Fred's arm. She grabs his wrist to stop him. "George."
Tinted water drips off his fingertips. "Because I'm covered in gore," he finally replies. "And it looks bad."
Her eyes sting and, contrarily, she feels absurdly like she might laugh. "You're joking."
"I so wish I was." He curls his fingertips round the edge of the sink. A curse has hit it and there's a big chunk knocked out. "I don't think my family can handle both of us covered in his blood." Before she has a chance to ask whose, he adds, "Fred's. You knew that though, right?" She just shakes her head mutely, though she's had some idea; can't really imagine why else he's so keen to get it off now of all times. Under his freckles he's pale, and there are lines in his face that she's never seen before, and a lost look in his eyes that makes her feel like she's looking at a third Weasley twin that she's never met, because she's never seen one of them look like this, never. Her broken heart is breaking further. "You're not crying," he observes, a flatness to his voice.
"Neither are you," she says.
Water is dripping somewhere in the toilet – at least she hopes it's water – in a steady plink that's deepened by the echoes in the room. George has left the sink running and the water splatters up and around the basin. Someone's wailing somewhere nearby in a tortured keen that stands Angelina's hair on end. There are so many dead.
"You came looking for me," he says, not a question in itself so much as an expression of vague curiosity, as though it surprises him that she'd do such a thing. "My family send you?"
She shakes her head and feels the crushing blow to her chest again, struggles past it to reply, "I had to find you."
Now he's blunt. "Why?"
He really is covered in blood. There's so much of it on his shirt. She has to close her eyes for a second at the renewed realisation that it's Fred's. Her mind can't accept his absence – he has always been; Fred and George Weasley, there from her first moment on the Hogwarts Express, and now one of them is gone. Just gone. There's his body downstairs, and there's this blood on his brother's shirt, and that's all Fred Weasley is anymore. She shakes her head, willing her throat to open enough to speak. "Just—couldn't see you anywhere down there."
"No, well I wasn't there, was I?"
"George." His name feels like much more than that right now.
He sweeps a hand across his forehead to brush his hair aside, and when he brings it away there's a dab of blood above his left eyebrow. "It's kind of funny, really. We always talked about the party we'd throw when You-Know-Who finally snuffed it. Developing a special Wildfire Whizbang, we were; meant for it to spell out some…hilarious crudity…" His voice hitches and he leans forward, almost like he's tipping, so that his forehead rests against the mirror. "It's okay, Ange," he says, his voice flattened by its proximity to the wall. "You can go. I'm fine."
"For God's sake, George, you're so far from fine right now," she says fiercely. She sees his eyes squeeze shut for a moment, and then she takes another step forward and grasps his arm just above his elbow, pulling him to make him turn towards her. There's no resistance in him but he's heavy like his muscles have all been turned to lead, and she knows exactly how he feels.
They're staring at each other now and he's looking a little like he wants to tell her off – she'd want to tell herself off if she was him so she doesn't blame him – but then she chokes on her grief and wraps her arms around him, and after a second just standing limp in her embrace, his arms come up and around her back and he buries his head in her shoulder. They're almost exactly the same height. George is taller. Taller than her, and taller than Fred. The difference is miniscule. They'd been surprised when she'd noticed.
At first his arms are loose around her, but when she puts a hand to his head and rests her cheek against his hair they tighten, and she clamps her eyes shut and forces herself not to cry, because maybe she was going to marry Fred but George has just lost part of himself. She knows that, and she's going to be some kind of comfort to the surviving Weasley twin if she can.
"What am I going to do?" he mumbles into her shoulder.
Her hand closes around a fistful of his hair; she forces her fingers to unclench and smoothes it back down and says into the messy ginger, "I d– I dunno. George, I'm so—"
"Fucked?" he says, his voice still muffled against her sweatshirt.
"I was going to say sorry."
There's an empty laugh from him, hollow and a little scary, before it gets strangled off. "Ange, don't, you can't – don't be sorry, don't—you lost him as well—"
He won't say it but she understands. He doesn't want to be left to deal with the gaping emptiness alone, and so she doesn't separate herself from this young man who she's always loved (just in a different way from his twin); she doesn't put up the barrier that says you are the bereaved and I am distinct from that. "Live with the misery and miss him," she finally whispers as the answer to his question, "until it gets better. I suppose. There's nothing else, is there?"
He straightens up and they're looking into each other's eyes. They don't break their embrace. Angelina thinks it's the only thing keeping them upright. "It won't get better," he says.
"It will." She doesn't really believe herself but what else can she say? Her hands shift so that they're both on the sides of his head, one covering the empty spot where his ear had been. It feels strange, but not as strange as she'd thought it would. "It has to," she says, forcing all her grief and conviction into those three words. Then she leans forward and pulls him at the same time, so their foreheads rest together and their noses touch. He raises a hand and slides it under her hair till it rests on the back of her neck for a minute. It feels ice-cold. Then he moves and wraps that arm around her shoulders while the other stays firmly fitted around her waist, and she lets her hands fall until her arms are around his neck.
The desire to speak rises in her but she doesn't know what to say; suspects, really, that there's nothing to say and maybe she should just shut it. They stand there in the men's toilet, the steady drip of water the only accompaniment to their breathing, the dead Death Eater on the floor that's mute testimony to the destruction that's gone on round them tonight. They stand there and she never wants to let go of George Weasley.
It's a long time before either of them move. It's him that does, as he puts one hand to the back of her head and pulls back from her, drawing in a deep, juddering breath as he does so. "You should go," he says, and then he attempts a smile and it's killing her that he's even trying. "They're probably going mental down there wondering what's happened to you."
Angelina puts her hands on either side of his face again, leans forward, and kisses him on the forehead. "And you," she says. She's filled with an intense longing to hold him again, to both comfort and be comforted by his arms around her. Instead, she drops her arms to her sides. "Let me help you wash up," she says quietly.
For a second, she's sure he'll refuse, but she doesn't care; she's already pulling her sweatshirt off so she can use it to scrub his arms. Then, without a word, he grabs her hand tightly in his. "D'you know," he says, "I think I know why Fred loves you."
She doesn't correct his use of the present tense. "I'll take that as a compliment, Weasley," she murmurs, though she doesn't try to accompany the words with the smile that they should have. She thinks she may've lost the ability, anyway. Or maybe she'll teach herself how to laugh again when she sees George do it; a proper laugh, not the frightening grimace that's only an inch from ragged sobbing.
Light shines through the single mullioned window in the toilet, a clear, clean morning light that's at odds with the blood-red sunrise of earlier. It falls on George's face and illuminates half of it, and her eyes travel from his mouth, pressed into a thin line, up past his nose and thick freckles to his brown eyes. She's always liked George's eyes; they've always been more thoughtful, more gentle, than Fred's. Like George himself, but that hardness in Fred suited her. She finds herself hoping that George doesn't become harder. She finds herself hoping, ridiculously, that George won't change. She wants the moment in the Battle back that they were fighting alongside each other and he yelled at her, "Johnson, you think you're going to take down any Death Eaters with that sort of shoddy wrist work?" and she'd shouted back, "What about you, with that horrid pronunciation?"
As she soaks her sweatshirt with water, wincing as dribbles run into cuts on her hands that she'd not known she had, George says, "Ange, when I said that I see why Fred loves you, I didn't mean that I...er...don't...you know. Just not like he does."
For a second, she just holds her dripping sweatshirt. Then, she leans closer to him, letting their shoulders just barely touch. "I know, George," she says. "Me too."