(Part of) Chapter 13
"Oh, George, one more thing; make sure you pack that parcel on the kitchen table for Hermione."
"I packed hours ago, Mum."
"Do it again. Oh, and Fred, those crumb cakes, keep them just for Ron; make sure Ginny doesn't get her hands in them. And I'm serious; they're just for Ron."
"Alright, Mum." Fred started, gritting his teeth as he grabbed his mother by the shoulders, looking into her eyes as he spoke slowly and clearly. "I'm gonna ask you one last time. Are you sure you don't want to come with us?"
Molly merely waved her hand as if the idea were preposterous, shaking her son off of her. "No, no, dear; I wouldn't want to - . . ."
"Look at me, Mum." he interrupted, grabbing hold of her. She paused, her eyes settling seriously. "No, look me in the eyes." he insisted, and waited for his mother to do so before sighing, continuing softly. "Seriously. Are you sure?"
"I'm sure." she whispered.
The fireplace illuminated blazenly, sparks of various tints and hues scattering into cinders as their esteemed guest entered their home. "Ah. A good morning to all." he chimed upon eyeing the three of them.
"Morning, Professor." the twins echoed in monotonous reaction, continuing on with their ongoing tasks.
"I hope I haven't come too late; I'm afraid I may have overslept just a bit."
"No, no, Albus. . ." Molly ventured, using the excuse to free herself from her son. "Ah, you've come with perfect time, look at that. . ." she remarked cheerfully, noting the clock ticking past time for visitors as she scurried into the kitchen. "Have a seat, Albus; I'll get up some tea straight away. . ."
"Mum," Fred called, thrown a little off course by the sudden visitor. "I really think I need - . . ."
"Do you prefer sugar or Griland Goss with your tea? Never mind; I'll bring the - "
"No need, Molly." Dumbledore interrupted passively, cleaning the remaining evidence of the floo from his spectacles. "I'm quite content at the moment, but - "
"Nonsense!" she argued, returning with a tray of tea and cookies, her face as bright and lively as ever. "I'll not have you leaving my house without proper entertaining; I'm sure you've a moment to spare for just a spot."
"Ah, your mother and her fine hosting skills. . ." he acknowledged, taking one of the nearest seats to the presented tray. "I suppose just a spot, then?" He chuckled slightly, extending a wink in the twins' direction before helping himself to a buttered crumpet.
"Come dears, join us; don't be rude."
"I'm not hungry." Fred announced brusquely, his expression hard as he focused on anything but his mother's face.
"Fred. . ." George warned.
"I'm not hungry." he growled under his breath, his eyes so finely displaying what, in fact, he might do to his twin if he so chose to keep the matter open for discussion.
Molly's face fell slightly, catching the corner of her son's eye.
"Yeah, sure, Mum." George agreed, sighing as he took the seat beside his mother. She stared at him, extending a fake smile towards him as he returned the glance awkwardly. ". . .I guess I should eat something. . ." he tried nervously.
"Oh, yes, dear; that would be smart of you." She nodded fervently, as if it really were such a splendid idea of his creation.
He swallowed slightly, taking a small plate and watching very carefully what he chose to take. No, not those cookies; those were store-bought. Okay, so those little cakes with the ginger frosting. . . Merlin, did they look fabulous. . . but no, wait; she hadn't made that either. Erm. . . The tarts with the red dots. . . yeah, Mum made those for Christmas last year; he'd inadvertently sent the whole first batch of them flying through the fireplace with a bum heating spell. They were safe to take. Okay, good. One down. Deep breaths; it'll all be over soon. What's next? Hmm. . . Should he spring for the tea? Ugh, licorice. Of course; she knew Dumbledore was coming, now, didn't she? Licorice tea was only expected. But ugh, so putrid. . . he couldn't possibly be expected to drink that. Ginger cake – so good. . . NO, no ginger cake! Focus!
"Have a cup, my boy." Dumbledore suggested suddenly, causing George to almost drop the whole plate from jumping so high in his seat.
"Oh, a cup!" he reacted, letting out an anxiously spirited laugh. "What an idea! I would have never thought of that! I suppose that's why you're the professor – always thinking on your toes. Excellent job, must say - . . ."
"Now, now; I'm not as deep as all that, I daresay."
"Ah, so modest!" George defended, waving his hand in the air rabidly as he spoke. "Honestly, Professor, you've got a keen eye for detail, there; but I suppose you would by now, yeah? Fred and I've never let ourselves get caught by obvious fingerprints, no, Sir; takes a true maniacal genius for that sort of detective skill, if I may. The most critical of oberservations are those not worth first observing, I always sa - "
"Will you just take the fucking tea?" Fred burst, his eyes ablaze with his angry irritation.
"Frederick!" Molly countered, her body nearly arresting in shock. She swallowed hard, her mouth gaping open for any words to come. "You. . . You apologize to Professor Dumbledore at once!"
"Fred, can I talk to you for a moment?" George said tersely, more of a blatant demand than request.
"No, George; no, you can't." he replied smugly.
"Now, Fred." His twin insisted, springing to his feet with ugly malice in his face. Fred made no movement of compliance. George positioned himself eye to eye with his brother in response, staring him down with little effect. "Now." he growled.
"Piss off." Came the response, laced with the very same intensity, and before the reaction was even registered, George grabbed him by the arm so abruptly that he nearly felt whiplashed as he was manhandled down the hall, thrashing against his brother wildly. "I swear to God, George, if you don't fucking - "
George made a sharp interruption, throwing him into their bedroom and slamming the door shut. "What the fuck is wrong with you? Are you serious? What exactly are you thinking, Fred, because I'm not seeing it!"
"I swear, George, I can't take another fucking second of that woman."
"That woman is your mother, you ass!"
"That woman standing in our living room right now is not our mother. Our mother died off two months ago, right along with any chance any of us had at being happy ever again."
"Oh, please. Don't give me that bullshit."
"It's not bullshit. You know, she expects us to be so sorry for her, George. And what're you doing? Encouraging her. What the hell was that out there, mate? 'Herm, I guess I should eat something. What do you think, Ma? Well, I'm not all that hungry after eating about every home-cooked meal you've ever attempted in the span of one hour last night, with profuse worship and all, but I guess you haven't had enough, so let's see what else I can swallow whole.' You're pathetic, you know that?"
"Yeah, well what about you, then? 'Are you sure you don't want to come with us, Mummy? Really sure? We can't last a day without you, we'd shrivel and die! Oh, say you'll come!'"
"I wanted her to see Ron, you asshole!" he screamed, his face burning with his intensity.
"I know that! You really think I'm that daft?"
"You're acting it!"
"Oh, dear Myrddin. All I'm saying is that there's nothing wrong with a little indulgence at this point, Fred; she's already lost one son, and now she's loosing another. How's that supposed to make her feel if even we find some way to prove how inadequate a mother she is and just fly off to London like he did?"
"Don't you bring Percy up now, you git. He's got nothing to do with this."
"Oh, yeah? You think so? Just because he's dead to the rest of us doesn't mean she's still not devastated over him. Percy was only the beginning; Bill's hardly ever home anymore, Charlie's in fucking Romania, for Merlin's sake, and Dad's become a complete workaholic ever since he found out about Ron, who's about to be sent off to Azkaban for one stupid, stupid mistake. And Ginny - Ginny's bound to get herself killed just for being attached to the name Harry Potter, of all the bloody wizards to choose from."
"Get to the point, George! The fricken point!"
"The fricken point, Fred, is that this family's accumulated a shiteload of baggage, and considering how alone the situation's leaving her, she's feeling it heavier than any of us! You think all that crap hasn't built up on her? You think she feels like she's done a good job with us? Is that what you really think?" He paused. Fred's expression stayed entirely still. "Like it or not, Fred, she does care about this family, so excuse me for thinking the woman's entitled to a little sympathy."
"She doesn't care." Fred countered quietly. "Not about us." George rolled his eyes, only fueling Fred's volume and temperament. "She just refused to come with us, mate. Outright refused. Let's face it, George; she's given up on us. She just couldn't handle it anymore. And she's not afraid to let us know straight up that she no longer has anything to do with us; she just proved that to me. She won't come see her son, she won't come see Hermione, no one. There is not one person who could be so deftly in jeopardy right now that could move her to leave this house."
"Fred, look - "
"Ron is going to die, George." Fred uttered quietly, freezing George in his place. "It's that simple. And all any of us can do is hold his blooming hand until the dementors come for him. We promised we'd try; that's all we could've offered him, and he grabbed at it like a pureblood at Gringott's. She couldn't bring herself to do even that. And now she wants our damn pity because she's gone though so much as our mother and she's worked so hard to make us good people and it's all blown up in her face. I don't feel sorry for her, George. Not one fucking bit."
Silence choked them as they stared at each other harder than ever before. They just stood there blankly, all the joy of life sucked from them forever. They didn't deserve it any longer. They'd finally failed.
Fred hung his head and held his fingers to the corners of his eyes, blinking away what little moisture had left with his hope. He sniffed just to hear the sound of it, and made no move to speak to his brother. They didn't deserve each other, either. Not now.
George swallowed, and Fred caught the sound of it from his position, listening for anything more. ". . .I'm sorry you feel that way." Fred grit his teeth at that, sniffing his disgust in the phrase. Knowing exactly that, George sighed. "She shouldn't have to watch her son die."
"Come on. She will not see Ron die – it's not like he's freaking diseased or anything."
"It sure doesn't change much, though, does it?"
"She should have the sense not to blame Ron for the entire family. She knows it's not him, yet –"
"No, it's not Ron. It's you."
Fred stopped short, staring at his brother incomprehensibly.
". . .or will be." George continued listlessly. "Our family. . . is on its final legs. We're finally falling apart. Completely and utterly apart." He swallowed, staring into Fred's eyes with mixed anxiety and anger and desperation all at once. "And if you are ultimately responsible for pushing everyone off the edge, I will kill you."
Fred took a second to process, his lips curling into a sickening sort of grin, emerging from his new level of insanity. "Oh, it won't be me. You can at least count on that."
George made no answer.
"Come on. Ron's waiting."
The door closed behind them finally, the room still echoing with the memory of their trust in humanity.
"Come on, come on. . ." Ron muttered impatiently, tapping his quill against the roll of his test paper. "'The role of Bernando Frivalia in the 1032 Concealment Reformation Council at the headquarters of the Italian Ministero di Magia can be best described as. . ." Blank. Completely blank. Dear God, where did these bloody teachers come off, giving a fill-in-the-blank essay question like that? 50 inches of it, no less? He growled lowly, his eyes darting up and scanning the room secretively, watching as they all scurried their quills across the page, so full of information that they almost seemed excited to be writing. If Hannah Abbott's smile grew any larger, he really did feel as if he would need to resist the urge to smack her.
. . . Er, that was an expression. Common expression. One of those thingys said but never meant, that are really kinda vulgar when looked at word-for-word; yeah, one of those. . .
Oh, stop sweating, you git. he ordered himself. We're past that, remember? He sighed at his own retort, shifting in his seat and staring up at the ceiling in silent torment. How in the hell would he pull this one off? He didn't study; with all the crap going on? Who did they think they were kidding? He never even so much as touched a book back when he was still a happy little virgin, why start now? And he could have sworn the name Bernidardino or Berturd or Bevelaqua or whatever the hell his name was had never so much as graced his ears even once. . . His name? He, right? Or was it. . .
"Mister Weasley!" The teacher barked from the front of the room, causing Ron to grunt louder than first intended. "Are you alright?"
"Oh, sure, Professor. . ." he chimed fakely, seating his chair upright. "Just concentrating real hard. . . Was a very loud sneeze, it was. . ." he commented, turning on his heel to find who had been sitting at the location his ears were pointing him to. . .
"Oh, sorry, mate." Harry said awkwardly. "Didn't realize."
Ron paused, staring at Harry for one long, slow moment. For some weird, inexplicable reason, he just couldn't look away from him. He almost couldn't stand the sight of him, yet he couldn't get himself to stop. There was just something about the boy's face, some twisted, ill presence in his features that set his nerves on end. It wasn't so much of an image as a feeling that they provided him; a hollow, empty sort of feeling, almost apathetic with vibrant sensation, if such a feeling could ever exist. . . was it defensive? Some reflexive form of self-protection, perhaps? No, not that; more like. . . neglect. Like some varied form of isolation and ill regret and. . .
Like Harry had finally let him down.
"Why, Mr. Weasley. . ." the professor drawled suddenly. "A face I doubted I'd ever see again."
"Aye, miss; but aren't you floating on clouds now that it's happened?"
Ron blinked. What? He was pretty sure he was the only Weasley, looking around, and yet. . . he could swear that was someone else who just answered. Who in bloody hell. . .
"Ron!" George hissed, waving his hand before his brother's eyes.
Ron jumped back, his chair clattering to the ground for the second time that period. Yet he barely bothered to even reach for it; George was much more an interesting topic. ". . . George! You. . ." he stopped, staring in disbelief. "You're here?"
"Aww, come on, now; don't act surprised. Professor," George called to the front. "May I take him?"
"If it will stop this constant interrupting during my testing period," she growled.
George chuckled. "Sorry, there. Come on, get your stuff. . ." he hissed, patting Ron away proddingly. His eyes turned. "Ah, Harry!" he chimed, catching his eye.
Harry smiled weakly. "George. . . hey there, mate. . ."
"How're you coming along, then? I hear Ginny's got – "
"Mister Weasley!" the professor roared.
"Oh." he whispered, hiding himself under his arms with a wink. "Sorry."
She merely 'humphed', turning her attention back to the papers in front of her.
"Okay." Ron said. "I'm done. . . let's just go."
"Aww, but I was just catching up with Harry, here. . ."
"Let's go." Ron finalized, giving Harry the oddest look as he left the room.
an: Oh WOWWWW it's been a while! My computer's been blocked from for MONTHS, and I only just discovered I can get back in about a week ago, and immediately started writing again… Jesus, how I missed it. This is just a short blurb in celebration of my resurrection, and I'll edit later to include everything this chapter is supposed to include. Thanks for your reviews/patience guys, I missed you! 33 Suki