Running into him at a bar was something Verity had not been expecting when she had walked into the local tavern, stopping by on her way home to her husband to rest her feet from a fitful day’s work. After running the shop with George for a while, things had… she always pushed the thought from her mind- thinking of why they had split always made her a little dizzy and that day the thought had been particularly prominent. If God was playing some kind of trick on her, he was doing a bloody good job of it. She worked at a another lower rate joke shop in London now, and walking into the place always reminded her of the times she and George had closed shop early, gone out, come back and just slept, loving each other like it was common practice.
And it had been for a long time. But then the war came and George changed after Fred had died. He was more quiet, more reserved. A lot of the things he once enjoyed, like running the joke shops (which were now in the control of Molly and Arthur with consent), he found noxious because they reminded him of his ghostly brother who, Verity thought, was much happier and more rascally in a better place. But George would have none of it and eventually things got so bad- the fighting, the separation, and the horrible way she felt when he left after a huge tiff, leaving for the night and not returning for the next day- that Verity left him, unbearably guilty about the additional pain she undoubtedly caused him.
Many times she wondered how he was and sometimes she wondered what would have happened if she’d have stayed - two years had seemed like such a traverse to give up and even now, three years later, she still had problems dealing with her decision.
So it had been funny when she was sitting at the bar, staring into her fire whiskey, the memory of their first drunken date buzzing in her mind, when a figure sat next to her. At first she paid no mind, but when he just sat and ordered nothing, she gazed up at him and gasped in shock.
“G-George?” She asked, his sad eyes looking back at her with a small smile.
“Verity. Fancy seeing you here.”
They ended up sitting on his porch and she didn’t really know how. With a quick text to her husband, she told him she had been kept late at the shop and that she’d be in as fast as she could. Any other time she would have felt badly about lying to him, considering it had to do with another man.
But this time she didn’t and she knew why.
On first arrival, they had gone into his small house for a bit and her heart sank when they did. The furniture was sparse and colorless and there were a couple of empty glasses on the coffee table, a bag of chips open towards the couch. The walls were barren except for one photo frame hanging on the wall, moving colorfully and almost lighting up the room in itself. It was Fred, beaming up at the camera - she remembered the portrait because she was the one who had taken it in the shop when they had first opened the Diagon Alley location. Her throat tightened when George ran into the picture, basically tackling his brother in the process. They both laughed and looked back up at the camera and then her voice, softly, emanated from the photo.
She was unaware of his presence behind her until she turned around and he was standing there with a photo book. She looked down at it, letting a small pocket of air she had been holding out.
She found herself laughing across from him in the swinging bench on the portico, the book in her lap as she went through the photos. A lot of the pictures were the three of them in the shop before it opened, getting things ready before the masses crowded upon them. The rest were of Fred and George and then in the very back, her breath caught. They had taken a trip to the beach one year, just before the war. Verity had coaxed George into doing it and he had gone, worried the entire way there. But eventually he had let loose his worry over what was happening back home and they spent the whole time drinking wine, laughing often and making love. A picture of him holding her up, her eyes brightly looking back at his was taped to the back page, taken by what she may of thought George himself with one of his toys, standing alone there. Underneath, there was a caption.
‘April '98. Me and my Verity.’
She looked up slowly, a sad, knowing smile on her face.