Disclaimer: All characters belong to JK Rowling, not I. I hope I won't embarrass her too much by what I do with them. : )
A/N: Sorry to those of you who are desperate for another chapter of The Promise Ring. It's all done, though! It's with the betas now - it will get there...A Shattered Mirror - by The White Lily
He could never remember crying so much in his life. It was like a part of his soul had been wrenched away when his twin, his other half, the only person he could ever have counted on to understand him completely, had died. He was no longer a part of Fred-and-George, the entity he had been a piece of for as long as he could remember. He was Fred.
He could never remember having so much of everything that he had always wished for in his life, although the one thing he had taken for granted had been torn away. He knew that one day, when the excruciating pain in his heart had receded to the dull ache that would never leave, he would look back on this day as the first in the rest of his life.
His wife's arms were soft around him as he clutched her to him broken-heartedly, the hard bulge of her stomach pushing against him. The twins deep within the girl he had loved since his sixth year were still for once, perhaps sensing the change on this terrible day. Fred had three wonderful reasons to go on living; he would not let them down.
At least it had been quick. They had been walking through Muggle London – just the two of them, like it had been before Angelina, although they were meeting her at a café just down the street from where the scaffolding had fallen and… He choked on a sob.
"Fred," whispered Angelina soothingly. "Just let it out. It's okay to cry." His mind began to drift back to the day in sixth year when his relationship with his twin had first started to change.
"Are we decided then?" asked Fred. "We flip a coin. Someone else's coin, so that we can both be sure that there was no cheating."
"I'm still not sure," complained George. "Shouldn't we leave it up to her?"
"She can't tell us apart, George! How could you possibly ask her to make a choice like that? And on what would she base her choice? When one of us shows a quality that she admires, she doesn't even know which of us it is!
"Look," Fred continued in a reasonable tone of voice. "It probably won't last very long anyway. It's just a date to the Yule Ball. We're only at school, George, it's not like we're flipping to see who gets to marry her! What else do you suggest? I can't stand this! Knowing that she fancies us and we both fancy her, but not being able to do anything because there's two of us."
George nodded dubiously. "You're right, I suppose. But I get to pick the person we borrow a coin from."
A fresh wave of tears poured onto Angelina's shoulder, mourning for the twin he had lost, the twin he had let slip away from him over the years. When Fred had won the toss of Neville Longbottom's coin, it had driven an almost imperceptible wedge between the two twins. No longer were they constantly in each other's pockets, although George seemed to feel the loss more keenly than Fred had, because Fred had Angelina to keep him busy.
The relationship that "probably won't last long," stretched into weeks, months, and years, and turned from fun, to serious, to engagement, to marriage. The twins were still incredibly close, the bond between them as powerful and immutable as it had ever been, but it was never quite the same as it always had been. Fred had another other half now and all three felt the strain of sharing him.
Today had been no different.
"Look, I just haven't found the right person!" protested George, slightly put out at his twin's pursuit of this line of questioning. "You're beginning to sound like Mum. 'Why don't you settle down, dear?' Pah! I'm too busy with all the accounting for the shop, anyway. Not everyone can be as lucky as you, Fred."
In truth, however, George couldn't help but think that Fred was right about his life. He went to work, he worked, he came home, he worked, he went to sleep, he woke up, and then he went to work again. His days blended into one big blur of mediocrity, nothing outstanding; nothing that made it really worth living, except for the moments with Fred, when he felt alive.
Fred's face blossomed into a grin as they rounded the corner and came into sight of the café were his heavily pregnant wife sat reading a book. It was a mark of how their relationship had changed that he seemed oblivious to his twin's gloom. "Yeah. I guess not. You don't blame me for winning that coin toss, do you?"
George took one look at his twin's contented face and his rancour died. After all, what had he done to deserve someone like Angelina anyway? "No, of course not," he sighed, "it just sometimes feels like you took the only good woman in the world." He kicked a stone idly, watching it skitter over the paving stones, bouncing irregularly. "I mean, it's not like I haven't been trying. Hell – I've been with a different woman every month in the two years since we left Hogwarts! But I can't… connect with anyone."
"Never mind, George," laughed his twin comfortingly. "You'll find someone eventually." Fred climbed lightly up the rough scaffolding on the side of a building, ignoring the "Keep Out" sign, and began strutting up and down, pushing up imaginary horn-rimmed glasses.
"Love is a rare gift," said Fred in a prissy voice and George couldn't help but laugh as he began reciting the exceptionally polished speech that Percy had delivered at Fred's wedding. "Treasure it above all things, for –"
He knew it instantly, the moment his twin died. It wasn't the loud crash the scaffolding made when it tore loose from the building. It wasn't the concrete pillar that crashed onto Fred's body, crushing his chest. It wasn't even the unnatural angle his neck was lying at, that he was completely still for the first time ever, or the trickle of blood dribbling from the corner of his brother's mouth onto the ground.
It was the feeling of a part of him dying; his soul tearing in two; his heart shattering; his stomach freezing; his chest searing with a burning heat. The mirror he had always looked into, even when they were apart, had shattered. He stared down at Fred's lifeless body, hardly comprehending what it all meant, desperately trying to adjust to being suddenly alone in the world.
"FRED!" the scream tore painfully from Angelina's throat. She was running gracelessly down the street, her enormous belly hindering her movement, her book left, forgotten, at the café. George responded, as he always did, to the name of his twin. As he watched her loping awkwardly towards him, he saw the despair and hope mixed in her eyes as she looked from the crushed body of her husband to his identical twin.
That was the moment when his decision had been made. For Angelina, he told himself, for the little twins he had felt kicking just that morning. Fred wouldn't have wanted Angelina to be sad. He stooped down as though to caress his brother's still-warm hand and palmed the wedding ring, slipping it on behind his back.
As Angelina reached the scene of the accident, he turned and caught her in his arms, crushing her to him as he had seen Fred do a million times. "Angel!" he whispered, clutching her like a drowning man as the tears ran down his face, his soul torn in two. He felt more alone than he had ever felt in his life, despite the embrace of the woman he had always loved. "Oh, Merlin, George! GEORGE!"
When you look into the mirror, the mirror looks back at you. After all, all mirrors have two sides. Why should the one they called Fred have to be the one to die?