The first time they kissed it was fumbled and hasty, behind a tree in the orchard after Fred's funeral. They both knew it was wrong - or at least, not right - it was not the sort of kiss they could get lost in, rather they were aware of every breath of the breeze, every footstep on the grass.
And that's how they ended up a foot apart, guilt written all over their faces and dark tear tracks of mascara down Angelina's face, when Bill approached them through the trees.
"I thought I'd find you here," he said. "Just… please, leave it. Just for now… just until you've calmed down a bit…"
But George shot a look of daggers at his brother and stalked away into the wilderness.
Angelina started after him but Bill caught her arm.
"I'm sorry. I really am. But just wait until everything's settled a bit. Your emotions are too much of a mess right now – especially George's. You can't make it work while you're in this state…" he gestured towards her mascara tracks and her black silk dress, creased from being pushed against the tree. She began to sob quietly again and Bill gave her an awkward hug.
"Shh… shhh, it'll be all right."
"He – he looks… looks like…"
"Fred." Bill's voice shook. "I know. Listen to me Angelina." He pulled her from his chest to look at her. "Sex is an antidote to death – "
"But we weren't – " she suddenly looked horrified.
"I know." He almost smiled. "That includes kissing. I know how you feel. Empty. But… you and George… that's not going to stop your grief."
"I know," She nodded, throat tight.
"Okay. And, again, I'm sorry."
She nodded again, eyes bright, tears threatening to spill over.
Bill looked at her for a second and then turned away, going back to the house. As soon as he was out of sight, and she could no longer contain herself, she sank to the ground, sobs shaking her body.
The second time Angelina saw George she was visiting Diagon Alley for an interview at the apothecary for a job. It was five weeks after the funeral and George was back at Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, supposedly doing paper work through the back while Ron ran the shop, but when Angelina poked her head through the door to say hi, George was merely staring into space. He jumped when he caught sight of her. She looked as though she was coping, but that may have been pretence for the job. He looked as though he hadn't slept in days, his rumpled clothes hanging off him.
At first conversation was awkward, stilted, but they talked about the shop, their families, Angelina's (hopefully) new job, all the while without mentioning Fred.
And when it was time to go, she hugged his breakable body, and kissed him on the cheek but he kissed her on the lips and she hurried away, embarrassed, before she burst into tears.
The fourth time he arrived at her house in the late evening. She sneaked him upstairs and suddenly he wanted to talk about Fred. Everything seemed to come flooding out of him and Angelina sat in stunned silence, while a torrent of feeling inundated her.
"I miss him so much I feel like I'm going to break… There's this silence… I want him to finish my sentences… Sometimes I see him… I can remember things he said and I can't stop laughing… I try to stay away from my family because I know they see Fred in me… I don't want to hurt them… They're all hurting and I don't know how to help… I can't look in the mirror…" His words came out jumbled sometimes, and after nearly an hour the deluge dried up and Angelina opened her mouth but didn't know what to say.
He looked at the carpet for a long moment, thanked her for listening and got up, but she stopped him.
Not knowing what to say, she kissed him gently on the lips, and he kissed her back, and suddenly they were on her bed and his hands were everywhere, but it was too fast and she gasped, "Stop!"
He leapt off her immediately, looking horrified, blurted an apology and fled the room, leaving Angelina to collapse back onto the bed, feeling drained and confused.
Angelina stayed away after that, and two months healed all her physical scars and, thanks to her new job at the apothecary, she managed to sleep at night. She had kept in touch with most of her friends from Hogwarts – Katie, Alicia, Oliver and Lee and they wrote regularly, sometimes meeting up for a chat, helping each other grieve – but George was a grey area. Lee said he'd been helping at the shop, but George had stayed in the back and Katie had met up with him once, but he'd been silent and morose.
However, all five of the friends were invited to Ginny Weasley's coming of age birthday party and they arrived together, slightly confused.
What were you to say? Apologise for their loss, like at the funeral, or ask them how they're coping, or pretend nothing's happened and be normal, or be super-jolly and then run the risk of looking like you don't care?
As it happened, the problem was solved for them. As they made their way down the lane with groups of other guests – Luna and her father, the new Gryffindor Quidditch team, Kingsley Shacklebolt and his partner – Harry and Ginny came into sight, waiting to greet them, beaming, with his hand at her waist.
Everyone was greeted with hugs and kisses and handshakes, presents were handed over and thanks received. They were pointed through to the lawn, where two tables were already laden with presents and music blared, Fleur and Bill dancing madly on the lawn. Everyone who had arrived joined in, Lee spinning Ginny around, Hermione and Luna danced a little together. Charlie beckoned to Angelina and Harry and Oliver and they were soon deeply immersed in Quidditch talk.
More and more guests arrived and the party was soon in full swing. Harry looked happy and relaxed, Angelina was pleased to see, Ginny was flushed and excited, running this way and that, chatting and laughing, but always returning to Harry's side. Ron and Hermione were never more than three metres apart and Bill and Fleur looked as happily married as ever. Arthur was soon dancing with his daughter, and Molly even got dragged away from the kitchen for a quick whirl with Percy.
But there was no sign of George until the late afternoon. One minute, Angelina was craning her neck, but still couldn't see him. The next minute, he was by her side, asking for a quick word. She swallowed the last of her Cauldron Cake and followed him around the side of the crooked house, next to the broom shed.
He took a deep breath.
"I love you. I should have told you before, but Fred got there first. It was the one thing he doesn't know. I think he suspected, but I hid it as well as I could."
He wasn't looking at her.
"Every time I see you, I want to tell you, or kiss you, but I can't – couldn't. I thought it would be an insult to Fred's memory. But then I realised – " He looked her straight in the eye. "You're a person, too, and you're grieving and I've made this a whole lot harder for you, and I'm sorry. I'll wait, and when you're ready, I'm here. I love you, but I'm not Fred. I'm different, whatever people thought. We are – were different people."
He shrugged and walked away, back towards the party, leaving Angelina to stare at the broom shed, shocked. Whatever she had been expecting, it wasn't this.
Angelina spent the next ten minutes searching fruitlessly for George. She realised that, on some level, she had cared for both twins, but, as George said, Fred had got there first. If he hadn't, maybe things would have been different, but this was the way things were, and they needed to be sorted out. As she checked by the food tables, Angelina couldn't think that Fred would disapprove. It had been over three months since his death now, and he would want George to be as happy as possible.
Eventually, Harry told her that George was with Ginny at Fred's grave at the end of the garden. Angelina made her way along the twisting paths, through the herbs and flowers, until two red-heads came into sight, sitting in front of the grave. As she watched, Ginny stood up and patted George on the shoulder, then turned away and walked back up the path. Angelina could see that the younger girl had been crying, but Ginny smiled as she passed, not saying anything, just touching Angelina's arm lightly.
Angelina crept down the path and coughed lightly when she was a couple of metres from George, so as not to startle him. He looked around and smiled wanly: it lit his eyes, nonetheless – his time with Ginny had done him good. Angelina sat beside him, in the spot that his youngest sibling had just vacated.
"I think Fred would approve," said Angelina tentatively, nodding at the grave. George looked at her in surprise.
"What are you saying?"
Angelina pulled her gaze from the slab of stone before them and looked at George, smiling brightly.
"I think I love you, too."
George's face lit with something like happiness, something Angelina had not seen on his face for a long, long time.
He kissed her gently, and she kissed him, but this time they exercised self-restraint, and pulled apart after a couple of minutes. Silently, they stood up and walked back to the party, hand in hand.
Slow music was playing, and they joined the entwined couples on the dance floor: Mr and Mrs Weasley, Bill and Fleur, Neville and Luna, Harry and Ginny, Kingsley and his partner, Ron and Hermione, Lee and Katie, Oliver and Alicia… and now, Angelina and George.
A/N: Thanks to Holly, for reading everything, and to Arnel, for being my beta and assuring me that this isn't awful! This is dedeicated to Trine, for being the best friend a girl could have! Sorry you couldn't read it before now - enjoy!