For Bex, GGE May 2017, who updated her request to just be GeorgeSeamus.
The apartment is dark. The lights are off. The curtains are drawn.
George lies in bed and stares at the ceiling.
It is past midnight. He can hear the clock on the walk ticking, mocking him. You're still awake, it says. Still awake. Still awake. Still awake.
These days it seems like he's always still awake.
He can't sleep without the sound of Fred's snores from the next bed, or the next room.
He can't stop feeling alone.
It's been three months since… Since. George has lost two stone. Food tastes like straw. He hasn't slept more than three hours in a night, and even then, it's been broken by nightmares.
He wants to cry. He wants to give up. He wants it all to end.
But he knows that's not what Fred would want.
So he gets up. He stumbles over a jumper laying on the floor, and almost goes down.
He gets stuck, staring at the jumper, for too long. He can't seem to process it. He blinks at the jumper.
Eventually, he manages to pull on a dressing gown and wander downstairs into the shop.
He straightens the shelves. He takes inventory, and stocks from the back with what he can. After, he wanders into the inventing room, where it's thoroughly stocked with potions ingredients and various materials for complex spellwork. He sits down on the stool and stares at an empty cauldron.
Lee finds him there hours later. Lee sighs.
Slowly, George turns to face him.
"Did you sleep at all?" Lee asks. George shrugs, not quite wanting to admit that the answer is no.
Lee sighs again. He looks like he wants to say more, but in the last three months he's said everything it could. None of it has helped.
"If I tell you I've got the shop, will you try to sleep?"
George shrugs again. Lee grimaces.
He sets a book down on the counter George is leaning on. "Here. I picked this up for you."
Magickal and Mystickal Potions, it says. "It's supposed to have some unusual stuff in it. Thought maybe you could get something out of it."
George nods. It's thoughtful of Lee. When he can muster the effort, he appreciates all that Lee does to help.
Lee taps the cover absentmindedly, then lays a hand on George's shoulder. "I'm worried about you," he says softly.
George shrugs his hand off and goes back to staring at the empty cauldron. Lee sighs again and leaves the room to open the shop.
George doesn't look at the book until three days later, when his head is spinning and he needs something to focus on so that he doesn't go mad.
When he starts, he's flipping through it absentmindedly. Basic color changing. Stretching potion, that could be interesting. Shrinking potion, that's marketable.
The last potion is simply titled, For the Dead.
It's not what he expects. It's a potion to help the dead get across the River Styx — Greek mythos at its finest.
But it makes him think. And given where he's at right now, that's dangerous.
He doesn't ever mean to seriously consider it. He knows that anything that messes with death is Dark magic. He doesn't want to think that he's capable of that. He thinks of himself as an essentially good person. He likes pranks, yes, but he doesn't want to hurt anyone.
But who does resurrection harm, really?
So he starts looking into it. He gets a few books from Knockturn Alley. He gets McGonagall's permission to borrow a few books from the Restricted Section at Hogwarts — for his inventions, of course.
He wonders if the fact that he feels the need to hide what he's doing means he's doing something wrong.
But how can it be wrong when this is the most alive he's felt in three months?
Lee comes in to find him working in the inventing room, and Lee smiles.
How can it be wrong when it makes his best friend smile like that?
He winds up with a stack of seven books, and everyone knows seven is the most powerful, luckiest number in magic.
He looks at what the potions have in common, and where they differ. This is what he's good at — patterns and puzzles.
Bone of the dead is common, and not terribly surprising. Blood of a relative, but he was expecting that. Dark magic is often blood magic. Asphodel, lacewing flies, mandrake root.
He compiles them into a recipe that seems promising. It will take three weeks to brew.
The first time he leaves the shop since… Since, he goes to visit Fred's grave.
"Hey," he says, as he wipes droplets of fallen rain off the headstone. He steps back, looking at the pale grey grave marker.
1 April 1978 - 2 May 1998
He pulls in a shaky breath, and then exhales into the cool, grey August air.
"I… miss you," he says, his voice wobbling. "But it's going to be okay. I'm going to get you back."
He puts a hand on the headstone.
"I'm going to get you back," he whispers. He swallows.
He has to do the spell to summon the bone non-verbally, because he can no longer speak past the lump in his throat. Carefully, he cradles it in the towel he brought.
"I promise," he gets out. When he disapparates, the tears that have fallen on the grave are indistinguishable from the after-effects of the recent rain.
Three weeks later, he pulls the potion off the flame, and adds the final ingredient — three drops of his own blood, from a careful slice in his palm.
He looks around the room. Nothing has changed. He flips back through the books, but they all say it should be instantaneous from the addition of the blood. He doesn't understand. He doesn't understand.
He carves the cut in his palm a little deeper, adds a little more, looks around in desperation. He sinks his teeth deep into his bottom lip to keep from calling out for the brother he knows is still not here. He whirls around and whips the knife at the wall, where it sticks, standing straight out. Fury roars through his veins. He turns back around and shoves, tipping the cauldron over and covering the floor in three weeks of work and two months of hope. He grips one of the legs of the wooden stool and throws it at the wall of potions ingredients, where it hits with a satisfying shatter of glass.
The rage drains, leaving behind only disappointment.
He sinks to the floor, covering his knees with the remnants of a potion made from his brother's bone and his own blood, and he begins to cry.
Moments later, something mixes that shouldn't, and the world goes dark in an explosion of color.
He wakes up in a hospital bed, most of his body wrapped in bandages. He turns his head, making his neck ache, and finds Lee in the chair beside him.
"Hey," he says, the words scraping their way up his throat. He winces.
Lee smiles, but it's not a happy smile.
"Hey, George. Welcome back to the land of the living."
"Wha' 'appened?" he gets out.
"I think you're the only one who knows. I found you in the inventing room, sprawled out on the floor, your hand sliced open nearly to the bone, and sitting in a pool of spilled… Merlin only knows what. I thought you were dead." He shudders. "Please, please, don't ever put me through that again."
George winces. "Sorry," he mumbles.
Lee sighs. He seems to do that a lot lately. He takes George's good hand and squeezes it lightly. "I forgive you. But once is enough, okay?"
George gives him a lopsided attempt at a smile.
The Healer has opportune timing, saving them from further awkwardness or emotions, which neither of them are great at. He is a short, sandy haired man with a face full of freckles, and when he grins at them, it feels genuine.
"You're awake," he says brightly. "That's a good sign. I'm your Healer, Seamus Finnigan. I've come by to take off some of these bandages. Because of the odd mix of ingredients, we couldn't heal your wounds instantly, but most of them should be cleared up by now."
He steps up to the bed, and Lee grips George's hand and then releases it. "I'm going to go get a coffee, alright, mate?"
George nods and watches Lee as he goes.
"He's a good boyfriend," the Healer comments. George huffs out an amused breath.
"Lee? No, he's tragically straight. It's a travesty."
The Healer laughs as he begins taking off bandages. "Most of your injuries were from the explosion," he says as he reveals the clean skin of George's left arm. His hands are soft and careful.
"Explosion?" George asks.
"Ah, yes," says Seamus. "Some retrograde memory loss is to be expected surrounding an event like this. Something reacted and exploded, and that's how you wound up here. Most of them were fairly minor wounds, except that one on your palm," he says, nodding to the area in question. "That one was deep and nasty, and wound up infected from something floating in the sludge that was all over your floor."
George pulls in a breath and holds it for a moment before releasing it slowly. Explosion. He thinks of Lee's face, pleading with him to never do this again. He thinks of Freddie, ice cold and still.
The ache that has been lodged in his chest since… Since, grows a little heavier.
Seamus has apparently been chattering away as he removes the rest of George's bandages, because when George tunes back in, only his left hand is still wrapped.
"You're going to need to come back and see me in a week to get that looked at. In the meantime, I've made you an appointment with a Mind Healer, and after that, you can leave."
"What?" George asks incredulously. "I'm not crazy, I don't need someone poking around in my head!"
Seamus takes a step closer. His jovial smile softens into something serious.
"George, the cut in your palm came from a silver knife. And it was far too precise to have been an effect of the explosion. I don't know what you were doing, and I'm not asking you to tell me. I'm asking you to talk to the Mind Healer. If you see her, and you don't think she'll do you any good, then you can walk out of here, come back in a week for your hand, and then carry on with your life. But this is a condition of your release. You're not leaving until you've seen her."
George is impressed by the steel from the man who had previously seemed so amiable.
Eventually, he shrugs. He doesn't expect to want more than the one session, but if it's what he has to do to get out of here, he'll do it.
He sends Lee home while he sees the Mind Healer, because if she's going to make him talk about feelings, he's not going to do it in front of anyone.
She asks him a simple question, and then she sits there, and she lets him talk. Much to his surprise, he talks. And talks. And talks.
It's the most he's talked since… since Fred died.
And when he leaves, he books another appointment with her, for the next week. Right after he sees Seamus.
He spends the week cleaning up and re-stocking his inventing room. He sleeps even less than he has been, wakes up with nightmares every night, but he manages to eat a few actual meals. Lee checks on him daily, and helps him keep the shop afloat, and George thanks Merlin for Lee every damn day.
He takes the remnants of Fred's bone back to the grave.
He spells them back beneath the dirt, and then he sits down in the mud and the rain, and he cries. It feels almost cathartic.
The ache in his chest is heavy and it never fades, but for the first time since the war, he wonders if maybe he can bear the weight.
When he goes back to see Seamus, the Healer grins at him, and George manages a smile in return.
Seamus checks his hand, proclaims it healed, and then walks with George out of the exam room.
"George?" he says.
George hums in response.
"Now that you're officially not my patient anymore… would you like to go to dinner?"
George stares at him in shock. "Erm."
Seamus shrugs. "If you're not interested, don't worry. It's just… you're the first person in a while to make me feel like a kid with his first crush all over again."
George tips his head. A week ago, he would've said no without hesitating.
Fred is gone. And George is learning to let him go.
And maybe this is part of that. Being happy without him.
"I'm kind of… broken," George warns.
Seamus grins, lopsided and toothy. It's kind of adorable. "Aren't we all, at this point? I recommended Mel as a Mind Healer because she's who I see myself. And shit will get worse. The worst day? Might still be coming. But it will also get better." His grin morphs into a soft smile. "I don't believe that our wounds should keep us from seizing what we want. And they definitely shouldn't keep us from loving anew. But I don't want to pressure you."
George shakes his head. "It's not pressure. It's… I… Yes. I'd like that."
Seamus beams at him. It feels like the sun coming out for the first time in months. It feels like some kind of metaphor, some kind of prophecy.
It feels like hope.
Assignment: Necromancy. Task: Write about someone turning to dark magic to attempt to raise a loved one from the dead.
(Lyric Alley:My head is spinning and it won't bail out) (Liza's Loves 25. Black Magic - Write about someone performing dark magic) (Insane House: Location: Weasley Wizard Wheezes) (Library Lovers: Harry Potter; (word) Prophecy; (relationship) Best friends; (plot point) Good vs evil) (Cards 28. Sevens - write about someone considering the number seven lucky) (Lent (Other 7. Write about someone being tempted by dark or evil forces.)) (Snek 21. Copperhead - (setting) Weasley's Wizard Wheezes) (Love in Motion: Slash: George/Seamus) (Scavenger Hunt: Write a slash pairing) (Writing Month: 2304 words.)