A Million Hours Left to Think of You and Think of That


Story Summary:
George and Angelina make a mistake.

Chapter 01


A Million Hours Left to Think of You and Think of That

"Forget forgotten; I am moving past this, giving notice; I have to go, yes I know the feeling, know you're leaving. Calm down, I'm calling you to say I'm capsized, staring on the edge of safe" -- Tegan and Sara, "The Con"

George was already drunk when Angelina Johnson walked into the Leaky Cauldron, spotted him, and sat down beside him. By the time they left together, he was so sloshed that he could barely stand, let alone make a conscious effort to not do something stupid. Mostly the world spun, he felt variously ill and elated, and the rest of the night passed in a haze of blackness.

When he woke up, it was with a pounding headache and dry mouth, but it was also with the gratifying feeling of being in his own bed. The window was open slightly and Diagon Alley was quiet, except for the occasional quick patter of footsteps from someone out in the wee hours of the morning alone. He opened his eyes and was momentarily thrown off balance by something black and blurry hanging in his face. Swiping at it, he was surprised to find that it was lacy and -- a bra?

For the first time, he noticed that his bed was occupied by another body. He craned his neck to see who it was, and, upon identifying her, muttered, "Bollocks," under his breath.

George didn't know what had possessed him to sleep with Angelina -- well, actually he had a vague idea, and it had a lot to do with the amount of Firewhiskey he'd consumed -- but he couldn't bring himself to deal with the enormity of the situation just then. His hangover was simply too painful, and anyway, she had probably been just as pissed as him. Better to let her sleep it off. He watched the steady rise and fall of her chest and bit his lip, then gently drew the blankets over her. Somehow it felt wrong to be able to see...more of her.

Gingerly, he laid back down, and in the middle of wondering how he'd ever doze off with his skull splitting open, he fell soundly into a dreamless sleep.

It felt like he hadn't slept at all, though, when he was woken by movement on the other side of the bed. For a second, he considered feigning unconsciousness and letting her just get dressed and leave. This was embarrassing, it was awkward, it was...strange. And it was causing George to realize just how badly damaged he was, and that in the ten months and twenty-two days since Fred's death, he had allowed himself to spiral further and further downward. But then, just letting her walk out without a word would be cowardly, and maybe it was time to stop being that.

He opened his eyes to see Angelina staring down at him, a horrified expression on her face. Cracking a smile -- because he had to attempt to; he hadn't lost so much of himself yet that he wouldn't -- he said, "This might as well be an advert for imbibing sensibly."

Angelina did not laugh, but rather clutched the blanket more tightly around herself. "George..." she said, and her tone was so uncertain that it broke his heart.

"Yeah," he said gently. No one, not a soul, could possibly wish more that Fred were here and in his place, and most days George could barely deal with the solitude and loneliness. There were bad days, he would joke, and then there were worse days, and people usually laughed gratefully, glad that they didn't have to work out how to act around him; glad that they didn't have to acknowledge his unbearable grief. They thought he was coming to terms with it, but they didn't see him drinking himself into oblivion, nor shutting himself up in his flat for days on end. He'd gotten good at fooling people.

He wondered if Angelina had, too.

She covered her eyes with a hand and he saw her jaw clench and unclench several times. Then, taking her hand away, she looked at him and said, "Look, I'm...I'm really sorry, George. Um...God, this is awkward, isn't it?"

"It's definitely that." He reached over the side of the bed and picked her bra up off the floor, dangling it by a strap for her to see. "Yours, I think?"

Flushing, she took it quickly and angled her body away from him while she put it on. He turned to give her privacy and got up to dress, and he heard her slide out of bed as well.

"Are you...all right?" Even before the words left his mouth, he knew they were idiotic. If she were all right, what had just happened wouldn't have. Hell, if he were all right...

"Yeah, fine," she answered shortly, her tone harsh and bitter. "I do this sort of thing all the time, why shouldn't I be?"

George found his shirt, pulled it over his head, and turned to look at her. She was sitting on the edge of his bed, half dressed, with a hand over her face again. When her shoulders shuddered, he realized with a guilty start that she was crying, and he hesitantly went to sit beside her. He put a hand on her shoulder and began, "Angelina--"

"Don't." She jerked away. "Don't pretend that this was anything more than...than...a mistake."

"I know it was," he said, his eyebrows drawn together in concern. He'd caught a glimpse of her eyes, bloodshot and surrounded by smeared mascara, and full of a dark emotion that he couldn't put a name to but knew all too well. "It was just a mistake," he said kindly.

To his surprise, she laughed, though it was hard and humorless. "You're not going to say it?" She spun towards him and he met her gaze, but when he remained silent, she said, "I will, then." Abruptly, she stood up, snapping her top up from the floor and yanking it on.

George found that he couldn't muster up the emotion to ask her to stop. He felt cold -- he always felt cold, now -- and detached, and knowing what she was going to say didn't make him feel a thing. He was frozen, unable to feel at all anymore. Certainly he could not be hurt by mere words.

Angelina had not turned back to face him. She was standing in front of the window stiffly, hugging herself. "I wanted Fred back," she said tightly. "Just for one night, I wanted him back." She whirled to face him, and George recoiled a little at the bleak look on her face. "So that's pretty fucked up, isn't it?"

There was a long, drawn out, tense silence between them, and George almost told her, yes, yes it was; it should have made him feel used and discarded and worthless. But looking at her, so clearly broken, he couldn't. Because didn't he know how she felt?

He put a hand to his forehead and asked, without glancing at her, "So what now?"

"What do you mean, 'what now'?" she asked. Her tone was emotionless. "There isn't anything else. I'll just...go. That's it."

She moved around the flat, gathering the rest of her things, before approaching the door. Just as she put her hand to the knob, George said, one more time, "Angelina." Her shoulders tensed, but she paused, waiting for him to speak. He got to his feet heavily and moved towards her. "Angelina, we're..." He struggled to find the right words, which was impossible. There were no words, not that would make this better.

"What?" she asked, turning her head slightly. Her cheeks were still glistening with tears. "I have to go, George." There was a note of despair in her voice, and he wondered if she felt the same way he did; that their lives had both capsized while they tried to move beyond their grief; that neither of them had any idea how to fix themselves.

For a second, he wanted to put a hand back to her shoulder, turn her around, and make her look at him. For a second, he almost wanted to find the strength to make himself move on with his life, to have a life, and to do something for Angelina. Fred had loved her, after all. She deserved better than this.

But he didn't have that strength, did he? As he stared at Angelina and continued to find himself at a loss for words, he had to concede that that was the case.

Her expression remained completely impassive while he struggled to speak. "Nothing," he finally said. "Never mind."

She jerked her head and opened the door, stepping out onto the landing. Just as she started down the stairs, she hesitated, a hand on the railing. "Good-bye, George," she said, and he could tell that she was forcing herself to look him in the face.

George lifted a hand in a half-hearted wave and watched her walk away. He wished he could pretend, as she was, that he would move past this and forget it. But he knew he wouldn't. He was alive, rightly or wrongly, and he would have the rest of his life to think about this night.