Disclaimer and author's note: Harry Potter is the property of JK Rowling. Title from the Vedera song of the same name. This was written for Anonymity Effect's Breakup Challenge.
The shouting downstairs in the shop was what first alerted Fred to the fact that he was being asked after.
"—and if you don't tell him to bring his pathetic, jumped-up arse down here right this instant, I will personally—" The yelling abruptly cut off, and Fred put an ear to the door of the flat, his t-shirt only half pulled on, to try and hear what was going on. There was a low voice – that'd be George – but then the shouting started again, becoming more like shrieking. "I AM NOT THINKING ABOUT YOUR BLOODY BROTHER'S ARSE, GEORGE WEASLEY, EXCEPT IN SO FAR AS IT RELATES TO ME KICKING IT!"
The flat door was flung open and Fred jumped back, only narrowly avoiding being smacked in the head with it, to find himself staring at George. Fright, shock, and amusement were battling for preeminence on his face. Amusement seemed to be winning. "Er, Angelina's stopped by, Fred," George said casually.
"Tell her I'm not here," Fred hissed.
George glanced over his shoulder, apparently to make certain that she wasn't on the staircase behind him, before he leant forward and said, "Not bloody likely. She'll kill me. She's mental. I've never seen her like this. You told her we were leaving school, didn't you?"
Fred finished pulling his shirt on. "Possibly. Not. I mean, possibly not. Not exactly."
Looking appalled, George said, "And we told her where we'd be."
"I meant to," Fred groaned. "I'd meant to that week but we went ahead with the plan ahead of schedule, and she just—"
"—got lost in the shuffle?" George asked. "Yeah, well, I'm sure she'll be delighted to hear that, so I'll just send her up, won't I—"
"No!" Fred exclaimed, grabbing at George's sleeve to prevent him from descending the staircase again. Then, to his horror, a face darkened by rage appeared at the foot of the stairs, giving him a look that he was surprised didn't Petrify him where he stood.
George furrowed his brow at the sudden change of expression on Fred's face, then glanced down the stairs at Angelina Johnson. "Oh," he said delicately, and then, rapidly, "Well, there's Verity needing help working out the till again!" As he clattered down the stairs, Fred glaring after him, he said, "See you, Angelina."
"What makes you say that?" she snarled, causing the smile to slip from his face as George himself slipped from sight.
For a long moment, Fred and Angelina just stared at each other, he at the top of the stairs, and she at the bottom. Then, she came storming up them, her trainers pounding on the warped steps. Fred took several steps back from the door and was considering going out the window, but then she entered the flat and slammed the door behind her so hard that the windowpanes rattled, and he knew she'd just follow him, anyway.
The wrath on her face would have terrified a lesser man, and he decided that the best way to handle her might be to deploy some of the casual suaveness that had got him satisfyingly far with several ladies that he'd met since leaving school. "Angelina," he began, "you're looking well—" 'Withering' somehow did not quite do justice to the expression on her face. "—er, I expect you've...sat your NEWTs by now..."
"My NEWTs?" Angelina asked in a very low, very dangerous voice; a voice which said clearly that it was about to erupt into furious shouting, and he couldn't let her do that. It was bad for business, her screaming like that, after all. Her fists were clenched and she seemed to make an effort to relax them. "I've come here," she began, breathing deeply in what Fred rather thought was some sort of badly-gone-wrong relaxation technique, "to your...shop—" and he couldn't help but be somewhat insulted by the delicate and condescending emphasis that she'd put on that last word, "—to inform you that I think you're an absolute wanker. You and your brother both."
"Ah," he said. "George and I—"
"But of the two of you," she interrupted, her tone growing furious again, "you are by far the worst."
"Er," he said.
"And if you think," she went on, her voice gathering steam – and volume – "that you're going to stand here and make small talk, when you've acted the way you have—"
"Don't call me that!" she flared at him.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you we were leaving!" he said in a rush.
A calm followed these words and for a moment, Fred congratulated himself on working out why she was really upset and the right thing to say to set it right.
"DO YOU THINK I CARE THAT YOU DIDN'T TELL ME YOU WERE LEAVING?" she shouted, balling her fists up again. "DO YOU THINK I GIVE A DAMN?"
"Er...I had done, yeah..."
She looked apoplectic. "YOU ARE THE MOST INSUFFERABLE, BOORISH, SELF-CENTRED—"
A banging on the ceiling stopped her tirade and Fred said in what he hoped was a mild tone, "George can hear you."
"I bloody well know George can hear me!" she spat, though the volume was markedly lower. "You're the one who doesn't seem able to hear me, ever—" Fred thought that was quite unfair, as he was listening to her at that very moment. Well, not much of a choice, really. "—anyway you deserve to be shouted at, you tosser—"
"Angelina, can you just tell me what I did wrong?" Fred asked helplessly.
She was silent for a long moment, so long that Fred was half convinced she wasn't going to speak and would just leave without another word to him. He could see her swallowing and gritting her teeth, fighting to get her anger under control. Finally, though, she said, "You left me with that foul, evil, horrid toad of a woman."
"Left you?" Fred asked, flabbergasted.
She was staring at him very directly. "You and George, you stupid bloody arses. What d'you think was getting me through those last horrid months at Hogwarts?"
"Um," Fred said, wondering if she really wanted him to guess.
At the look she shot him, he decided probably not, and she informed him. "The two of you. Quidditch was rubbish; unmitigated disaster—"
"You won the Quidditch Cup," Fred pointed out, though it pained him to admit it. Judging by the look she shot him, this had not been what she'd wanted to hear, so he hastily amended, "But yeah, I can see what you mean. Quidditch – absolute rubbish. Never the same after George and I left."
"It wasn't," she muttered. "You, me – George, Alicia, Katie and Harry – we'd all played together for years, hadn't we? You don't just ban three players and expect everything to go on like it was." Then, she shook herself and drew a deep breath, as though she were getting ready to start yelling again. "But that's not the point, the point is—"
"I'm sorry," Fred interrupted her. "I'm sorry we left; we didn't think that anyone would miss us—"
"That's the point, you didn't think, as usual—" Angelina interrupted, but Fred kept on before he could be derailed,
"—but there was no point us staying, and we thought we could do some good leaving then, which we did, didn't we? Didn't you lot start giving Umbridge hell after we left?"
"Spurred on by the Weasley twins," she said, like it was an unwilling admission. "As usual." She shook her head. "Sometimes I don't know why I bother with the two of you."
"So if you're so upset at both of us, why aren't you shouting at George, as well?" Fred demanded, though thinking back, he couldn't remember a time that Angelina had ever raised her voice at his brother.
She leveled a frank stare at him. "Because George is a better man than you," she said flatly, "and he would've told me if he hadn't thought you were going to tell me first. And then he would've let me shout at him because he'd know he deserved it."
"He say that to you?" Fred muttered, making a note to remind his brother that twins weren't supposed to sell each other out.
Rolling her eyes, she said, "Please. He'd never rat you out."
"And I have been letting you shout at me, haven't I?"
Angelina sniffed but didn't answer, just looked around the flat with one eyebrow arched slightly. "I suppose you think it was worth it, for all this?"
Fred stared at her. Was she mad? "'Do you think it was worth it?'" he repeated.
"I suppose I know the answer to that," she said, her eyes flickering over his face. He thought he caught the tiniest glimmer of amusement in her eyes. She picked up a trick wand from the arm of the couch and stared at it. "Flitwick left part of the swamp cordoned off," she informed him, still staring at the trick wand.
He'd heard; Ginny had written that Flitwick had got rid of the swamp between classes after Umbridge had gone. "Chuffed to hear that, I am," he said, then added when she looked up at him and rolled her eyes, "He's a good teacher, Flitwick is."
She didn't respond; for a moment, she only stared at him levelly, as though deciding what to say next. Then, she just shrugged. "That's what I came to say, then," she said shortly. "I suppose I'll see you."
"Angelina," he said, catching her arm as she turned to go. She stopped and arched a cool eyebrow at him. "Stay for – dinner," he said, figuring the offer of a meal was better than just the offer of staying.
Her nose crinkled. "You two don't cook?"
"Extremely poorly," Fred admitted. "But we'd make a special effort for you." He paused. "I'd make a special effort for you."
Almost imperceptibly, her eyes narrowed, but when she spoke, it was in a surprisingly gentle tone. "I don't think I ought to, Fred. I think—you know, well, that is, you've the shop, you and George; you're just starting out…"
"We close at six," he said. "We do take time for sleeping and eating."
There was a flash of exasperation in her eyes and her tone was far less gentle as she continued, "Do you really; it hadn't occurred to me. What I'm trying to say to you, Weasley, is that I rather think eating dinner with you is out of the question. Not just tonight; any night."
"You're still angry," he said, feeling a little offended by that.
Angelina laughed and put her hand over her eyes. "Yes," she said, "yes, you're cottoning on. I'm still angry. But Fred, it's not just that I'm angry, it's—" She stopped and chewed at her lip before going on, "Look, the Ballycastle Bats have got a Chaser spot opening up on their team. Oliver's put me in touch with them – my trial's in two weeks. I've got to train, and then…anyway, I meant it. You're busy with the shop. It's packed down there."
"It is, isn't it?" he said proudly.
She smiled at him. "It's brilliant. I know how much it means to you."
His own smile faded a little. "But—Angelina, am I being given to understand that you're sacking me off?"
Her brow furrowed. "Were we ever going out?"
Fred shrugged. Now didn't seem the time to tell her how brilliant it was seeing her in his flat, above his shop, radiant with anger and passion and…well, just herself. He supposed two people had to be going out before they could break up, and she was right, their relationship had never had that sort of formality. Still, whatever was happening here – it bloody well felt like he was being ditched, and the force of the stab that went through his chest surprised him. Angelina Johnson was funny and fit and smart and a brilliant Chaser, and he'd fancied her for years, but suddenly it felt like a lot more than fancying.
"If I make the team," she said, "I'm going to be really busy. Loads busier than I've ever been. You—us—I mean, there's never really been an us, but you know what I mean—"
"—it was nice enough at school, but, you know, I think we should leave it at that." She looked uncomfortable for the first time, as if aware of the effect her words were having on him. But she couldn't, could she? He'd never be so obvious.
"So," he began, when it became apparent that she'd said what she wanted to.
"So," she echoed.
They stared at each other for a long moment and he felt sure that, just for an instant, there was regret in her eyes. It was gone before he could really be certain, though. Anyway, what was he going to do? Ask her to take him back? Well, not really back, as there was the aforementioned never-having-been-properly-together. That'd be pathetic. Unbefitting of one of the Weasley twins to ever let a girl get to him that much. And yet, as he looked at her, her braided hair framing her face in lines that brought out the strength in her cheekbones, he thought, for a split second, that she might be worth all the begging in the world.
"Well," she said, just as the silence was growing awkward, "'bye, then." She pivoted neatly and opened the door, only a step behind her because she'd never come any further into the flat, and started to leave, but Fred couldn't quite bring himself to let her walk away.
"Angie," he said. She turned around, catching her hand on the edge of the door as she opened it. For a moment, he couldn't think of what to say. Or rather, what he should say, as he knew exactly what he wanted to say. What he wanted to say was don't go; we can't break up if we never went out, and maybe we should try the going out bit; be a proper couple for once. Instead, he smiled at her and said, "Good luck with your trial. You'll be brilliant. 'Spect I'm looking at a future Chaser for the Ballycastle Bats at the minute."
She pressed her lips together and turned her head to look down the staircase, like she was going to leave without speaking to him again. Then she sighed, and Fred thought he caught a smile flicker across her face. "Fred," she started, then immediately hesitated. When she spoke again, there was something careful in her tone. "My trial's on the twentieth. You can send me an owl to see how I did, if you like."
Fred raised his eyebrows. "And maybe take you out for a celebratory dinner."
"Oy, I've ditched you," she said, though her smile was slightly more than a flicker this time.
"Right, well, a friendly dinner," he amended breezily.
For a moment, she was silent, but then her smile got the better of her. "Maybe. We'll see how I'm feeling."
"Only, I think you should be given the chance to throw me over after we've actually been going out."
She snorted with laughter and quickly clamped her mouth shut, but not before he'd seen the flash of emotion in her eyes. Regret, and affection, and something else that he thought might be the same something that was causing the ache in his chest at her leaving. "Send me that owl, Weasley."
With that, she stepped out onto the landing and tromped down the stairs. Fred stood in the doorway for a moment, listening as she talked with George, though the words were indistinguishable and all he could hear was the indistinct murmur of their voices. He wondered if she'd meant it that he'd been getting her through her last months at Hogwarts. He wondered how much she'd really missed him after George and him had gone.
He wondered how long he needed to wait, after her Quidditch trial, to send her that owl.