"And there's its twin. Unnatural little beasts they are."
Fred didn't leave the hospital wing.
He seemed unable to move, drawn to his brother's side, his eyes unable to wrench themselves away from his bruised, broken body. Ron and Ginny sometimes joined him, but mostly his company was Harry and Lee, who seemed to have been drawn to the bed by the same mysterious force that was holding Fred captive.
"I asked Dumbledore if I could drop out of the tournament."
Fred didn't turn to Harry when he said this. He had ordered Lee to go to the Tower for some sleep, something none of them had had since the Task three days ago. His hand was clasping George's, his eyes searching his face for a glimmer of consciousness. "I didn't mind it when it was just me I was fighting for, but then they took George...he nearly drowned, Harry, and almost died because of those Grindylows." he took a deep, shuddering breath.
"Fred..." Harry's voice was quiet and low, "There's only one task left. You can beat this." he didn't like to think about Fred dropping out, though he knew how he was thinking. Fred thought that it was his fault George had been hurt. It wasn't true, of course, but that didn't matter to Fred. Harry didn't tell him how he had asked Dumbeldore the same thing.
"He said I couldn't."
They sat in silence for a while, watching George, who still lay unmoving in the bed. His chest was wrapped with a thick bandage, all the other cuts had been mended by magic right after he'd been taken from the lake. The bandage stood out oddly white against George's pale skin.
The sky outside the room darkened to a navy blue which entered quickly into a pitch black. Harry moved slightly. "You should come back to the Common Room, Fred. It doesn't look like you've slept properly since the last Task."
Fred smiled a little, gesturing to his twin, who lay, apparently sleeping in the hospital bed. "Can't Harry, I need to stay with him. I owe him that, at least. And I don't want him to wake up alone."
Harry shook his head, remembering something Ron had said years ago on their first train to Hogwarts. "Fred and George...well, they're a bit odd. I swear I wouldn't be able to recognize one if he were without the other. Living their lives in each other's pockets. I guess it's a twin thing. Must be."
Harry got up to leave. "Goodnight, Fred. I hope..." he left his sentance and shrugged, turning away. A small noise made him turn back.
"Oh, finally." Fred stood up over the bed, nearly hiding the form of George, but Harry could see the open eyes. He smiled and returned to the bed side. "How are you feeling, George?"
"Like I swollowed half the lake." George croaked, but managed a weak smile. "Wha' happened, Fred?"
Fred's hand again wound around George's, "Oh, nothing, you just nearly drowned." he smiled. "I was worried about you."
"How long was I out?" George glanced around the darkened infirmary, which was occupied by only the three of them.
"Three days." Harry answered, pushing his glasses back up the bridge of his nose, smiling at George. "Since the Second Task."
George looked surprised. "Oh...how'd it go? Did you win?" He gasped at a sudden pain and collapsed back into the pillows, his face green, his breathing erratic. Fred's grip tightened on George's fingers, as if he could take the pain awkay just by squeezing hard enough.
Harry glanced between the two boys, feeling as if he were intruding on something private. He bit his lip, then decided to answer the question as delicately as he could. "Er...no, George. You...you came in third, after me and Krum but before Fleur."
"Oh." George's look of disappointment at losing the Task seemed greater than his pain. He turned to his brother, who was still crouched beside his bed. "'M Sorry, Fred, that's all my fault."
Harry's eyebrows came together in the middle. "How do you work that one out, George?"
George swollowed, looking bashful. "Well, in the lake, I..." he paused before plunging on. "I heard your voice, Fred. And you sounded worried, and you were saying how you didn't know where I was, and how you thought something might have happened to me. And then I remembered that I didn't know where I was, and I...I woke up." he looked between the two other boys appologeticaly . "It was kind of the one thing Professor McGonagal told us not to do, you see."
"I still..." Fred began, looking confused, but George cut him off with his next statement."
"The merpeople weren't real pleased at me waking up. Partly cause I started choking because there was no air, but mostly because I was thrashing around, trying to get out." he fliched at the memory, as if by thinking it was causing him physical pain. "So one of them hit me here," he pointed to the bandage that covered his signature Weasley hair, "And they put me under the same spell McGonagal had all of us under. Merpeople have their own magic, like house-elves." he explained to Harry's questioning look.
"Then when I woke up the next time, we were sorounded by Grindylows, and Fred's Charm was starting to wear off, and there were fingers and teeth all around us. I panicked, started flailing again before I got this." this time he pointed to the cut in his chest. "After that...I don't remember much. But I must have slowed you up a lot, Fred. I'm sorry." he said again, looking down at his heavily bandaged hands, still entwined with Fred's equally injured ones.
Fred kissed the boys' hands, and Harry noticed tears in his eyes. "It's not your fault, George. It's mine, for not seeing those monsters. Or the Grindylows. Or the whole Tornament's fault." a single tear splashed onto the perfectly white bedsheet. "I don't care about winning anymore. I just want to get out of all of this, and I need you to come with me."
Harry, feeling awkward and unnoticed, took the moment of silence as a chance to slip out. Ron and Lee would be glad to know that George was awake. He would tell them, and wanr them not to worry if the twins didn't come back to the dormatory before the next morning.
Okay, that chapter took forever. It kept on getting deleated. Ugh. So if it isn't that great, blame the computer, which I currently hate.
But review. Like, soon.