The small machine whirred and suddenly snow began to drift lightly from the ceiling.
“Argh!” he grumbled, reversing the spell with a tap of his wand upon the top of the metal piece.
With another rap on the contraption he called, “Refovio!”
The temperature in the room hopped up dramatically, skipping comfortable and hitting humid in the space of only a minute.
He cursed furiously, once again reversing the spell and sinking into his sofa, missing the additional knowledge of his lost partner. Standing up and pacing back and forth across the carpet, his mind couldn’t grasp the idea that Alana willingly let that pompous prat of a best friend touch her so.
Everyone knows relationships like that never work out.
George put a hand to his head. There was no way he could just let Macmillan get away with it. He sighed and stopped in front of the fireplace. Alana hadn’t contacted him since he’d left her with that ultimatum. He groaned. It was just another idiotic, impulsive move that he tried to quickly fix; a fix that didn’t conceal the true intention behind his words.
But what could he do? Running a hand through his hair he began pacing once more, muttering random ideas as his eyes flicked to the fireplace with every other step.
What he wouldn’t give to have some kind of message from the lovely blonde who haunted his dreams; any form of communication, any indication that she was alright, anything to tell him that he hadn’t completely mucked things up.
Yet the fireless brick cave tore him down to reality. She wasn’t going to call until she made a decision, and she couldn’t make a decision without knowing that she was doing the right thing. And she wouldn’t know what the right thing was until…
He smacked a hand to his forehead. Why had he not realised? Macmillan needed sense talked into him and he needed it now, before anything else got screwed up.
Succumbing to this rush of anger and bitterness, he pulled a light jacket on and rocketed from his flat, aiming for the Leaky Cauldron. Twisting and turning through the people finishing up their errands, their faces passing in a peachy blur, he made his way through the cobbled street quickly. Stepping over the threshold into the pub, the dank scent of age-old alcohol assaulted his senses, momentarily muddling his mind. Shaking off the sensation he loped towards the bar, hoping he portrayed the vision of a casual visit.
Two warlocks sat at the bar, deep in conversation with the barmaid. Moving towards the other end of the counter, he sat upon a worn wooden stool with dark grains highlighting a fading red mahogany stain.
His eye caught the blonde head bobbing in front of the other men, her glossy rose lips flapping in bright interest. As he folded his hands upon the countertop, still watching her carefully, her eyes flickered to him, highlighting with fear as she quickly refocused on those before her.
A couple minutes later she sidled over, anxiety etched into her youthful face.
“George.” Her previously bell-like voice now rang dull and low.
“Hannah,” he nodded curtly, contemplating his next statement.
“What can I get you?”
His brows bent together in frustration. “Nothing.”
Her mouth formed into a scowl as she leaned toward him, whispering feverishly, “then what do you want?” The words bit like the wind on a blustery winter day, but instead of filling him with fear it ignited the next stage of his anger.
“You already know, don’t you?” He threw the syllables in her face. “You already know what happened, why I’m here, and that’s why you’re so anxious!”
“Not true,” her voice chimed with a whine.
“Yeah? Then look me in the eye.”
Defensively she lifted cold, sharp eyes to his, letting them fall away seconds later.
“I knew it,” he bit once more. “Your annoyance can’t hide the truth.”
She watched him sourly, trying to put an explanation together in her head.
“Don’t apologise to me,” he spat. “I just want to know what your thoughts on this are.”
Hannah sighed deeply. “I can’t answer that.”
“Why not?” he growled.
“Because I’m not sure of the answer myself.”
“Would you tell me even if you did know?” he pressed.
He pushed his stool away from the bar, the wood scraping angrily against the floorboards, and stomped towards the door, wrenching it open, the cool evening air slapping him in the face. His fervour burned so hot that the effect melted away against his contorted features. He wanted to do something rash, something inexplicable, something that would scream his frustration.
As his foot touched the first step to his joke shop, his brain burst with the perfect plan, the best way to take care of the Ernie situation. It didn’t, however, placate his need to be nonsensical, to take a crazy risk.
He slumped down on the stairs and searched the emptying street for an idea, any idea, his leg bouncing up and down restlessly. He growled angrily, jumped up and pushed into the shop. Moving into the back room, he sifted through the pile of unfinished products. Boxes and bags flew to the floor as his failure to come up with a good idea only fuelled his frustration.
Suddenly he opened a bag and smiled. Pulling out a six foot long, shimmering blue cape his grin became more pronounced. Tying the strings around his neck, he heard Alana’s voice reprimanding him. He knew he would tell her; for once he wanted to be the irresponsible one, the one causing the worry instead of being burdened by it. The responsible side of his brain said that this was stupid and childish, unnecessary and vengeful. He ignored his subconscious and spun on his heel, appearing with a pop! beside a forest, a nearby cliff edge looking over miles of towering green trees.
Stepping toward the edge his resolution wavered as the sharp drop became more prominent. The product hadn’t been tested in four years; even then he and Fred only tried jumping off a rock into the Black Lake at Hogwarts, and
there had been a Cushioning Charm. He peeked through the trees, searching for the ground, but failed to see anything more than branches. Holding confident in his abilities to cast the charm, he pointed downward. The branches wiggled as the magic passed, but he couldn’t see where, or if
, it stopped.
He let out a ragged breath he hadn’t noticed he held. He couldn’t do it. There was no one for miles and the odds stood completely against him. Even if the cape did work long enough to hold him above the evergreens he had no knowledge on, or way to tell, how long it would do so. Fighting himself, he tried to prepare for the jump, but his legs refused to move any direction but backward.
George knew it was the right thing to do, the sensible thing to do, and yet his mind wandered to the future. He knew he’d tell Alana of this incident, could see them seated in her blue sitting room, the velvet of the sofa brushing against his skin. Her reaction would be fierce, sharp and logical; she could always weasel around his excuses. But he wanted the satisfaction of completing the dare to make it that much sweeter.
He sighed, his bedroom coming into focus as a crack echoed though the flat. He fell onto his bed, the homemade quilt reminding him of all the other people who cared about him: his parents and siblings.
Folding his hands under his head, he sighed once more. He focused on Alana so much that his lack of attention to other areas of his life bothered him. Yet every time he realised how long he’d gone without visiting or how often he overlooked the way they’d react to something he knew there was a good reason for it. They’d understand; they’d all been there. If not, he’d just keep telling himself that.
* * *
Ernie paced back and forth in his sitting room, brow crinkled in frustration, a look he felt too familiar with.
‘I’ll talk to you soon’. Yeah, right. It’s been a week and there hasn’t been hide or hair of her.
He snarled angrily, the battle between his frustration and conscience raging once more.
Well you did kind of spring that on her.
Oh, like she didn’t already know.
She may not have. You crossed a fine line between doing everything as best mates and telling her you love her.
You should’ve expected this then. If you love her that much, you would’ve known she’d act like this.
Covering his face with both hands and yelling into them, he moved into the kitchen and pulled down a bottle of Firewhiskey – the only thing that shut the voices up.
He wished he could feel some remorse, something he could use as backup to a fake apology. At the same time maybe everything was right, maybe things were supposed to happen this way.
He said something. That’s why she’s staying away.
Boosted by that thought, he pulled down a glass and poured some of the deep amber liquid into it. Sipping, he prepared to follow the tangent. Suddenly, a crisp crack echoed from his study and he eagerly rushed back. However, his expression of glee and excitement instantly fell from his face as the last person he wished to see came into focus.
“What the hell do you want?”
“To know what you plan on doing,” George stated firmly. “I’m sick of all your impulsive acts that mess everyone’s lives up.”
“That mess everyone’s lives up
?” Ernie gaped incredulously. “You have got to be joshing me.”
George’s scowl didn’t even twitch as he glowered at him.
“I haven’t messed up everyone’s lives, George,” Ernie spat. “Just yours.”
“That’s not true and you know it.”
“No? Then who else is unhappy because of the fact that I love a girl and reacted to that.”
George’s ears burned a bright shade of red as he bit his tongue, working very hard to keep control. “Mine, obviously. But what about Hannah? You think she doesn’t know that you’ve felt this way all along? You think she doesn’t know that she’s only second in your mind? That she was just a tool, something for you to throw away when you got the real prize?”
Ernie took a turn of silence, putting all his thought into creating the same mask of calm that George wore.
“I bet she hasn’t even contacted you.”
“Hannah?” he let a short laugh escape. “’Course she has. The girl only stays away because I told her that makes me happier.”
George shook his head, disgusted. “No. Alana.”
The look on Ernie’s face gave all the proof he needed.
“I thought not. She hasn’t been in touch with me either. You know why? Because she has no idea how to handle the situation. And you know what happens when she doesn’t know what to do? She runs. Runs as far away from the predicament as she possibly can.”
“Do you?!” The anger that began in George’s flat finally overpowered him. “I don’t think you do, Macmillan, or you wouldn’t be such an idiot to cause her pain like this over and over again.”
“What do you mean, over and over
?! You’re the one who left her all desolate and broken!” his tone matched the fury of George’s, his chest burning with the idea that the full blame resided with him.
“No. I didn’t.” George’s expression fell into sadness, almost despair, as his voice disappeared.
Ernie merely raised an eyebrow, holding no pity for the man standing sullenly before him.
With a swallow, George continued. “She made the decision for us to part ways almost four years ago now. I was on a mission for Dumbledore and there were certain restrictions I had to adhere to, she knew that. I guess it got to her or something.”
He scratched his neck and looked at the floor. “That’s when you re-entered her life. And I’m actually kind of glad you did.”
“Yeah.” George snorted a clipped laugh of disbelief. “Otherwise I’m sure the reclusive behaviour she’s employed the past year or so would’ve been much worse.”
He never fails to surprise me.
Ernie regarded George curiously. The feeling emanating off his being permeated the room and Ernie couldn’t help but understand where he came from. The devotion and way he cared about Alana clearly overpowered any other sense in his body, took over his mind, a feeling whose control he knew too well.
“Yeah. Probably.” What else could he say to something like that?
George shook his head. “Anyways, I really came just to ask you a favour. Don’t get anxious!” He quickly held up his hands. “It’s simple. I just want you to leave Alana to her own devices. Wait for her to come to you. And when she does, just accept the decision, and I’ll do the same. Alright?”
“I know. It’s not easy. But it’s fair. To her and to both of us.”
Putting a hand to his temple, Ernie closed his eyes, pondering.
A sigh fell from George’s lips. “Thank you.”
Without another word, he flicked his wand and disappeared, leaving nothing but a pop!
A.N. To anyone who's read this far, thank you! Words can't describe how grateful I am. I'd love for you to leave a review and make my day :D