Warning: Implied self-harm.
Submitted for round two of the Diversity Competition on HPFC. Prompt: Trio-era romance.
"Georgie?" Angelina asks as she lets herself into his flat – she's had a key for three years now.
Silence is the only response. Angelina sighs. Today, apparently, is one of George's bad days. It happens. She's used to it; she'd even go so far as to say she understands it. But it isn't easy. It never is.
"George?" she calls softly. "Where are you?"
"Bedroom," comes the reply. The only proper adjective for the voice is heavy – his voice is full of the weight of all the things he can't let go. It's full of missing him.
Angelina sighs again, slipping out of her coat and draping it over a chair in the small breakfast nook in the kitchen. She winds her way through the stacks of boxes and half-finished projects to the bedroom at the back of the flat. George is flopped on top of the gold blanket, staring listlessly at the ceiling. The mirror that sits on top of the dresser is shattered, which scares her a bit. Apparently today is worse than usual.
Angelina shoots two simultaneous spells at it, repairing it and turning it to face the wall. She breathes out, and the sound is heavy in the silent flat. She places her wand on the dresser in front of the backward mirror and turns to face George.
A thin line of sunlight streams in through the tiny crack in the curtains, which have clearly been deliberately drawn. The overhead lamp is dark, leaving the room tinged in a faint pink as the sun shimmers through the thin, scarlet curtains. It should be a soft, peaceful color. It should lighten the atmosphere of the room.
But it doesn't.
The air in the small bedroom is thick, dense. Oppressive.
Angelina smiles softly in an attempt to lighten things, but it doesn't reach her eyes. "Hey there, George."
He turns to face her finally, and Angelina exhales in a whoosh that she barely keeps from being a gasp. "Oh, George," she murmurs before she can stop herself. His eyes are dull and bloodshot. Salty trails streak his cheeks, and the skin beneath his eyes is puffed out. A small shard of reflective glass is embedded in his temple, and he doesn't seem to have noticed it. A trail of red follows a line of torn skin down the left side of his face.
Angelina knees on the floor beside the bed, cupping the right side of his face in her hand, her long fingers resting on his temple. Wetness builds behind her eyes, but she shoves it back. "What happened?"
But Angelina's not sure she's going to like the answer to that.
George can't meet her eyes. "I don't want to see him in the mirror any more, Ange," he says, his voice rough and raspy.
"I know, baby. I know," she murmurs softly. "C'mon. Sit up for me."
Angelina helps him right himself. He swings his legs over the side of the bed, resting his elbows on his knees. His head sags.
She turns around, grabbing her wand off the dresser. When she turns to face him again, though, George catches her wrist. His grip is stronger than she'd expected it to be. The fingers of his other hand are playing at the top of the long cut down the side of his face.
"Don't, Ange." He finally meets her eyes, and what she sees in them scares her. Pain, yes, but she'd expected that. Sadness, yes, also expected. What she didn't expect, though, is the sheer amount of desperation there. It shines from their depths, and it terrifies her. Desperate people do scary things.
"Georgie," she says softly, conveying so much more with just the one simple word. He holds her gaze firmly, adamant.
"Give me this, Angie."
Her eyes are wide, pained. "I can't." He hasn't moved his fingers from the top of the cut. The block of lead in Angelina's stomach forces her to acknowledge what she's known since the first glimpse of George's face; that long cut didn't happen by accident.
Angelina raises her right hand, the one not holding her wand, and gently takes George's left, pulling it away from the cut and interlacing their fingers. She leans in and softly kisses the top of his hand just below the knuckles.
Raising her wand, Angelina vanishes the shard of glass in his temple and seals the cut. She moves the tip of her wand to the longer wound and traces over it as lightly as possible, watching the skin knit itself together. She purposely leaves it shiny and white – an unnecessary scar, under normal circumstances. But these are not normal circumstances, she thinks, and right now, it's probably not unnecessary.
George's right hand comes up to feel the too-smooth skin and the corner of his lips twitch up into a distorted caricature of a smile – as close as he ever gets when he's in a mood like today.
Angelina just shakes her head. She puts her palm back on his cheek. "This isn't living, George. You're getting by, you're surviving, but you aren't living."
He drops her gaze, unable to look her in the eye. "I'm sorry, Ange. I'm sorry."
The corners of her mouth curve in an almost-bitter smile. "Don't apologize. Not to me. It's not me that you're hurting the most. It's you."
George shrugs. "I don't matter enough for that to bother me."
"You matter to me," Angelina responds without hesitation.
He blinks, looking up at her. "Do I?"
Eyebrows furrowing, she can't entirely keep the snappishness out of her voice as she returns, "Yes! You do, and don't you dare try to say that you don't, George Weasley. I wouldn't be here if you didn't."
"Wouldn't you?" His mouth twists into a cruel, bitter smile, and Angelina frowns internally. They've not gone down this road before, and she's a little bit wary of where it's leading. "Do you care about me, Angelina, honestly? Or is it just that you're still in love with him?"
And Angelina knows that she shouldn't be mad at George; she knows that it's only grief planting mad ideas in his head. But she desperately wants to attempt to slap some sense into him.
"Don't you dare, George! Don't you dare even go there! One time. One time! We went to one ball together, and, if you recall, he asked me!" Her eyes are hard, angry. She's quaking with fury, because that one stupid day won't leave her alone. Everyone always wonders, and Angelina is really sick of having her motives questioned. "Just because you look alike, doesn't mean I think you're the same person," she says firmly.
"Then you're better off than I am," he says quietly.
Angelina lifts her hand, tracing the shiny, new, white scar. "I could always tell it was you. I don't need something like this – I always knew."
"I didn't," George confesses. "It sounds strange, I know, but it's true. That's why I…" he hesitates, and then carries on as if he didn't. "So that I'd know, when I looked in the mirror, that it was really me. So that I'd stop thinking it was him again."
She touches the side of his head – the space where an ear used to be. The question doesn't need to be asked aloud.
"It's not obvious enough. It's on the side, and covered by hair."
She nods, understanding.
George sighs. "I don't deserve you," he murmurs. Angelina frowns.
"I don't think that's exactly for you to decide."
He blinks, surprised at her response. "What?"
She purses her lips. "It's up to me who deserves my time, my effort. George, you're worth it to me."
"I'm sorry," he says again, only this time she's not quite sure what he's apologizing for.
"That I'm not him."
Angelina runs a hand through her dark hair, wondering how on Earth they've gone four years without expressing any of this. She had no idea that this was what George was holding inside. No wonder he can't move on.
"You don't have to be Fred–" George flinches at the name, and Angelina continues as if not noticing "–for me, George. I don't think you understand. It was you. It was always you. He was my friend, but you were the one who could make me smile just by the way your eyes dance when you laugh. You were the one who could make me feel so alive, just by being in the room. It has always been you. The only reason… The only reason I even said I'd go with him to that Yule Ball was because of the way he asked – offhandedly, like it didn't matter to him either way. And I knew you'd never ask after I turned him down.
"I love you, George."
His mouth is smiling, but his eyes are sad. "I'm not… I'm not who I was then, Angie. I'm broken."
Angelina can't stop the sharp, bitter laugh from escaping her lips. "Are any of us whole anymore?" She sobers. "I love you–" she reaches out a hand to trace the shiny, white line "–scars and all. Shattered and all."
"But why?" he asks, and she can hear in his voice that this is the question he most desperately needs an answer to.
"Because on the days that I want to scream at the world, you understand that no words are necessary, and you just wrap your arms around me. Because I've never once had to tell you that I was cold – you just know, and I think maybe you even know that sometimes I shiver on purpose because I love the smell of your jacket wrapped around my shoulders, and you let me pretend I'm actually cold. Because on the days when nothing goes right, you are the only one who can make me laugh again. Because on the days when all I want is to hold on to my anger, you make me let go, because it's what I need to do."
"What about the days like this?" he asks quietly. "What about the days when all I do is take from you, and make you pick up the pieces?"
Angelina smiles softly. "That's what love is, Georgie. When you love someone, you're there for them every bit as much as you know they're there for you. It's mutual. It's not one person being perfect and another being flawed; that's not how love works."
He finally stand up, albeit shakily. He takes her face in his hands. "I still don't think I deserve someone as amazing as you, Ange. I love you, so much." And he kisses her softly.
"I love you, too, George. Always," she breathes, and then she kisses him the second time.
And it's not like that's it. George doesn't immediately stop feeling like he's only a replacement for him in her mind, she knows. Things don't work that way. Emotions don't work that way. But now that she knows that he does think that, somewhere deep inside, she tells him every day that she loves him. She shows a little more of Broken Angelina – who usually stays so neatly inside – so that George doesn't feel like he's the only one. And while he'll never be perfectly whole and unmarred, finally, finally, George begins to heal.