Sequel to A Night in the Rain, written for HO homework prompts and Ravenclaw common room prompt: broken promises, the sea, Gringotts, sugar quills, a spilt potion and "Do you really think that's what he/she/name would want?"
I own neither Harry Potter nor the song from which this fic toook its name: the former is the property of the wonderful JK Rowling; and the latter belongs to the fabulous Panic! at the Disco.
Katie folded the letter in half and placed it on the table in front of her, then picked it up again and read it through once more, just to be sure.
George and I were wondering if you wanted to come and stay for a few days, to help us celebrate our engagement.
You've been such a good friend to us both these past few years, helping us get together, and we want to thank you, me in particular. I owe everything I have now to you. Please, please say you'll come - it wouldn't be quite the same without you.
Write back soon and let us know when you're coming,
Katie screwed up the letter and threw it hard against the opposite wall, then stood up and shooed the owl who had delivered Angelina's carelessly breezy missive out of the window. It clicked its beak at her and ruffled its feathers, clearly annoyed, but she pushed it off the sill and quickly pulled the window shut behind it.
What was really annoying, what really rankled, was the obnoxious insensitivity of the letter. Even if Angelina didn't know the full extent of Katie and George's history (and Katie hoped to Merlin that she didn't), she did know that Katie had had a crush on - no, been in love with, she was certain it was love - George at Hogwarts, even if she was blissfully unaware of Katie's still loving him, despite everything that had passed between them; and of the night Katie had spent at the shop, just after Fred's death, that night of thunderstorms and breakfast and realising he loved her too. At least, that's what he'd told her; she knew now that it had not been enough.
Despite all this, however, it had to be said that Angelina was one of her best friends in the world, the one who had seen her potential and persuaded Wood to put her on the Quidditch team in the first place.
As a result, Katie felt like she owed Angelina a not inconsiderable debt. Scowling slightly, and muttering incomprehensibly under her breath, she called to her owl, and scribbled a quick reply as it soared towards her:
I'd love to come - is tomorrow OK?
Let me know,
She read it through once or twice, decided it would do and tied the parchment to the owl's leg. It nipped her affectionately on her finger and took off, flying through the window that Katie hurriedly opened.
She felt a twinge of guilt, half-hoping that Angelina wouldn't reply in time, or that George would contoct a wild excuse and beg her not to come...
No. Why would he? He had barely spoken to her for three years, since Angelina had inexplicably begun to show an interest in him, the "love of her life's" twin brother. He was obviously too much of a coward to face up to all his broken promises and hollow words, so why would he offer her a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card now? No, she didn't hold out much hope of a last-minute reprieve.
Whilst she waited for Angelina's reply (because, of course, she would reply, and almost certainly in the affirmative), she wandered into the kitchen and pulled out one of the sugar quills she hid there for occasions such as this. She knew it was a little childish, God knows her parents teased her enough about it, but the sugar boost always helped her to calm down. She sucked on it as she scanned the skies, feeling the sugar swirl through her system and her anger fade a little.
She couldn't really blame it all on George, or even Angelina. She, Katie, had to take some responsibilty too, for her current state of mixed fury and depression and for George's heightened recklessness and desperation as well - some of the things he had done in the weeks leading up to Angelina's proposal had been ridiculously dangerous, even for George, one of the infamous Weasley Twins who had flown out of Hogwarts on their broomsticks after turning the East Wing into a swamp.
She had to take her portion of the blame because, after all, she had been the one encouraging Angelina and persuading George to talk with Angelina about Fred, reminding him how much talking to her had helped him, that night long ago in the rain. The subsequent relationship and engagement hadn't been part of the plan - she'd encouraged Angelina only because she couldn't find a polite way of saying that George wouldn't be intersted without trying to explain their...understanding (she supposed that was the best word to describe it). Obviously, George hadn't either, and hadn't loved her enough to tell Angelina so.
Whilst she had been thinking, she hadn't noticed her owl fly through the window and settle itself on top of its cage in the corner of the room. It wasn't carrying a letter, and Katie hoped she had been spared, but then three more owls soared through the still-open window. One was the pretty snowy owl that had delivered Angelina's first message, so Katie was sure this contained her reply. The second bore an official-looking envelope of heavy parchment; when she turned the letter over, she saw it was from the wizarding bank, Gringotts. Well, that could wait: far more interesting than anything Gringotts could offer her was the other owl, fluttering near the lampshade. They were probably only trying to offer her a loan anyway.
She turned her attention to the last owl, a tiny, fidgety thing, twittering and flitting above her head. It looked oddly familiar...wasn't its name Pig? Yes, it was - she remembered it zooming around the Gryffindor common room whilst she had been at Hogwarts, delivering letters to Ron Weasley. That could only mean one thing.
She pulled the roll of parchment off of the tiny owl's leg and quickly unrolled it. Yes, her instinct had been correct: George had dared to write to her after three years of the silent treatment and being cold-shouldered at every turn.
First off: I'm sorry. Angelina can't begin to imagine how much her letter must have hurt you. I can, though, and I want to say sorry for that, as well. It's my fault she doesn't know I still love you, my fault I'm engaged to her. I would try to explain why I accepted her proposal, but it would take far too long, and I owe it to you to tell you in person.
I don't particularly want you to come, want you to see me making one of the biggest mistakes of my life, but I need you to, need you here. If you think you can without killing me, please come tomorrow and I promise I will try and explain.
I love you and I'm sorry.
She hated it, but her heart leapt and stomach twisted into knots just at the sight of his handwriting. How dare he say he loved her? Didn't he know how those words tore her to shreds?
If she had been in any doubt whether to definitely accept Angelina's invatation, the choice had been made for her now. As much as she might deny it, as much as she hated to admit it, she still loved him with her whole heart and body and soul, more than enough to do as he asked.
Now knowing what Angelina's letter must say, Katie took the scroll from the owl, but sent it away, along with the Gringotts owl and Pig, without bothering to open it. Instead, she went upstairs and had a shower, letting the scalding water ease the muscles along her back and shoulders that were stiff and tense.
Stepping out of the shower, she wrapped herself in a soft yellow towel and squeezed the excess moisture from her hair. She quickly gave up any idea of dinner - she was too queasy, her stomach still doing nauseating backflips. Rather than trying to force down some food, which was suddenly extremely unappetising, she just went to bed, where she curled under the duvet and tried to halt the sudden shivers that spread through her body, shaking her uncontrollably.
The next morning she woke still cold and shaking, curled in a tiny ball. Her stomach flipped again as she thought of what today would bring, and she opted to avoid food again, sipping black coffee instead. She crept back up the stairs, dressed hurriedly and threw some clothes and books into a bag. Then she went back downstairs and retrieved Angelina's first letter, checking for an address.
Right, she thought, Canton Cottage, Polzeath in Cornwall; and with a loud crack she Disapparated.
A second or so later, she reappeared outside a pretty white cottage at the end of a lane overlooking the sea. The door was painted a bright shade of blue and honeysuckle curled around a dark-stained trellis arch. It was picture-postcard perfect, and Katie felt her stomach twist around itself again.
She hesitated for a moment, contemplating just going straight back home, but she waited a moment too long: before she had the chance to move at all, let alone Disapparate, Angelina had appeared at the door and dash down the path towards, enveloping her in a tight hug.
"You came! And so quickly! Oh, I'm so glad to see you! Come in..."
She tugged on Katie's hand and dragged her inside the house, where she was pushed into a chair by the window whilst Angelina bustled off to make some tea. She could see the sea from the window, and hear waves crashing on the sand, the sound filling the room.
It's beautiful, she thought, staring at the dunes of soft white sand. Then there was a creak of wood and someone was in the room with her.
"Ange, when's Katie - Oh, you're here." George blinked at her, like he couldn't quite focus on her properly.
"Yeah, I, er, just got here."
A tense, heavy silence fell. Katie waited for him to say something, to offer her his amazing explanation, but he just stood by the staircase, blinking occasionally, and she eventually accepted that he wasn't going to bother. She had wasted her time, coming here; and she felt sick to her stomach. It was pathetic, the way she continued to moon over him. I'm going to forget about him, she promised herself. I'll forget about everything that happened and move on. It can't be that hard.
Angelina tripped back into the room carrying a teatray piled with sandwiches and cakes. She set it down on the table, not seeming to notice the awkward silence or the tension that the pretty silver cake knife would struggle to slice through. She turned and smiled at her fiancé.
"I'm going to nip out and get something for dinner, OK, George? There's nothing in the house at all. You two will be OK alone for an hour or so, right?"
"'Course we will, Ange," said George. Katie nodded her agreement.
Angelina smiled again and then walked out of the room. A few seconds later, Katie heard the door click closed.
Katie looked up from her inspection of her finger nails to see George looking at her intently from across the room. She felt herself blush and hung her head. This had been a mistake; she shouldn't have come here.
"Look, it was stupid, me coming here. I'll...just go now," she said, trying to avoid his penetrating gaze. "Tell Ange...Hell, tell Ange whatever you want. Tell her the truth, if you want - it'd make a change."
All of a sudden George was standing next to her, his hand wrapped around her wrist. She couldn't wrench it out of his grip - she'd forgotten how strong he was.
"Why are you going, Katie? What will that solve? Do you really think that's what Angelina would want? Some half-arsed explanation from me as to why her best friend ran out of her house whlist she was out, on the verge of tears?"
Katie hadn't felt this furious in years. She wasn't on the verge of tears! "If you want me to stay that much, give me a reason! Where's this explanation you promised me? What happened to "I love you, I want to marry you", huh? What happened to us?"
George almost visibly deflated and he dropped Katie's wrist from his grasp. "I guess...I guess I owe you an explanation."
Yeah, you do, Katie thought; instead of saying so, however, she just nodded and went and sat on the sofa by the window. George followed her, but she moved away from him when he sat next to her.
"Right, OK, fine..."
"Explanation?" Katie reminded him, after several seconds of silence.
"When Fred died, I was...a wreck. And then you came along and it was like the sun had finally risen after the longest night of my life. I realised that I'd loved you for a long time without even knowing it; and I thought everything was finally going to be all right again. We'd get married, have kids...
"And then you told me to speak with Angelina about Fred. That was fine. I was happy to help her. But she was...different. Clingy and over-affectionate. It didn't take me long to work out what she wanted.
"I told her to back off, told her I was with you; but she just said that you'd been encouraging her, giving her tips, even, and that you obviously weren't as interested as I thought you were. So I said yes when she asked me out, and then we were an item, at least to her."
Katie hissed under her breath. "But why did you agree to marry her? You've seen me since you started going out with her, you can see I still love you!"
"I could, and I don't have a good reason for what I've done anymore, not really. When she proposed to me, I told her that I still loved you, but she reminded me of a promise I'd made to Fred before he died. He made me promise that if anything happened to him, I would look after Angelina; and he promised to look out for you if I died. She said that agreeing to marry her would be the best way to keep that promise.
"I'm not proud of what I've done, but I want to make things right. I'm going to break it off with Angelina and - if you want me - I'm yours."
Katie took a few deep breaths. Emotions flooded through her, thick and fast until she couldn't tell which was which, which was right. Tears pricked her eyes, but she wiped them away quickly: there was no use crying over spilt potion, after all, and she knew what she had to do.
"No," she said, so quietly it was almost as if she was speaking to herself.
"What?" George said, looking confused.
"I said, no," Katie repeated, clutching at her sides. This was going to hurt, so much. "I love you , I love you, but I...can't. Your reasons...it's not enough, and I don't want to hurt myself, and Ange, anymore. So, I'm sorry, but...no."
George looked dazed, and she took advantage of his disorientation: she picked up her bag and ran out of the house as fast as she knew how, looking back over her shoulder all the time, to make sure she wasn't being followed. She didn't know what she'd do if he tried to run after her.
She ran and ran and ran, as the Heavens opened and rain poured from the sky, just like the night he said "I love you". She didn't even think to Disapparate until she reached the end of the narrow little lane on a cliff behind the sea.
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