I don't own Harry Potter or any of the characters here (minus 'Remus' and the other vague 'grandchildren'), though I have been accused of kidnapping George on occasion. And yes, even 'Fred Jr.' is cannon.
65 Years Later
Harry smiled slightly as George's cough turned into a laugh. Had George not still been skinny and fairly tall, with no beard whatsoever, he could have passed off as Father Christmas: still chuckling away merrily at everything that happened, making toys and games that made everyone smile. Harry felt a pang of sadness akin to one he had felt decades earlier when George's twin brother, Fred, had been killed. Each brother would be a terrible loss to the wizarding world. And like it or not, George's time here was almost up.
Ginny, her hair long and white, patted George's hand and murmured something. George cupped his hand behind the hole in the side of his head. "You'll have to talk louder than that, Ginny. You forget I'm a little deaf in this ear," he chortled and winked.
Ginny laughed. "I said, 'Remus loves that new voodoo doll you sent him."
George grinned. "Excellent! Point for us, Ron," he croaked merrily to his younger brother, who was sitting on the other side of his bed, clutching his wife's hand. Ron managed a quick nod and small smile before looking down at the floor again.
Ginny continued. "The first thing he did was change it into Lily and put her on his toy broomstick." Harry smiled at the recollection of his godson's toddler making the miniature Lily fly in circles around his birthday cake.
"That's a very impressive bit of magic, George," Hermione offered softly. "I still don't quite understand how you can make a toy that changes into something else. That must be a very complex Transfiguration charm."
George winked at Hermione. "It's top-secret, Hermione. And Ron, if you ever tell her, I swear I'll force-feed you Puking Pastilles." he threatened. Even at eighty-six, Harry wouldn't have put it past George to make good on that threat.
Harry pushed his heavy glasses up further on the bridge of his nose. Everyone else seemed to see glasses as a sign of getting old, but to Harry, they were rather old friends. The scene was an odd one. All the Weasleys and the Potters, minus the grandchildren, gathered around the sickbed of George Weasley, knowing that the final moment would be soon, and was coming ever closer, and yet George didn't seem to care. There had been no talk of who would become the new junior partner in Weasley's Wizard Wheezes now that Fred Jr. was going to take his father's place. There was no mention of George's will, no parting "I love you's" for his family. For an hour now, he had sat there happily, chatting away about everything from Quidditch to the games of wizard's chess and Exploding Snap he had been playing with the grandchildren yesterday.
"Who's watching the grandkids?" George asked curiously, as if reading Harry's thoughts.
"Rose is," Hermione said quietly, the smiled. "Last I heard, they were playing Quidditch, and yours were flattening ours," she added, nodding to Ginny and Harry.
"Well they would be, wouldn't they," said George succinctly, "with grandparents like Ginny and Harry."
For the first time since he had arrived at the Burrow, Harry laughed. "Thanks, George."
"Not at all, Harry, not at all," George said, and smiled serenely. "I just hope they get right on the Gryffindor Quidditch team in a few years. Hearing the Hufflepuff has beaten Gryffindor two years running now… You'd think Oliver Wood was captain again."
Harry laughed outright at this. Oliver Wood had always been desperate to win the Quidditch House Cup, but had never succeeded until his final year. Ironically now, the win had been against Hufflepuff.
"Yeah, you'd think," he agreed.
There was a soft knock at the door, and two more people came hurrying into the room. One was George's wife, Danielle, and the other was his son, Fred, who looked astonishingly like his father. Harry had always found George's son to be rather, well, ghostly. It was as if his brother had died, only to be reborn as his only child. As both Danielle and George had been redheads, and George an identical twin, Fred had inherited the red hair, the long nose and tall, lean build, and wicked sense of humor from his parents. At Hogwarts, he had also had an uncanny knack for attracting trouble, until everyone who had known his uncle was absolutely certain that Fred was now channeling his late uncle's spirit.
George had absolutely cracked up when Neville Longbottom had mentioned it to him. "What on earth do you think Fred would have found more amusing than channeling his spirit through his look-a-like?" It was true, it was exactly the kind of thing that would have left Fred roaring with laughter.
"Ah, there you are!" George exclaimed a bit feebly, holding his hand out to his wife and child. "I was wondering if you'd forgotten about me."
"You need that like another hole in the head," Fred replied succinctly as his father laughed. It had long been a standing joke in the Weasley family, needing something like a hole in the head.
Ron vacated his spot at George's side to allow Danielle to sit down. She did so, pecking George on the cheek softly. "We got away as soon as we could, and you know it. I just have so much trouble Apparating these days…"
"Don't fuss, mother," Fred told her, kissing his father as well, "you know I'll make sure you don't end up with your rheumatic arm floating around in the China Sea."
"Such a comfort you are," George remarked calmly, rearranging himself on his pillows. "You'll never have to worry again, sweetheart. Not until he gives you a heart attack, at any rate." Everyone laughed, then looked at each other and laughed harder.
Harry didn't notice at first, because for some reason all he could hear was the family laughing. But someone was shouting, someone over by the wall… Harry turned his head to see who was shouting and realized that the wall was no longer there. In its place was a platform at a train station. For a panicky moment, Harry was sure he was dying. He hadn't seen King's Cross Station like this since Voldemort had attempted to murder him. He squinted at the bright light coming from the station, and heard the shouting again, this time more distinctly.
Harry frowned and looked back at the family. Nothing had changed. Mere seconds had passed. Ginny was now wiping a tear of glee from her eye. No one seemed to see the station.
Harry looked back to the station, and this time he could see the source of the voice. Slowly appearing out of the white light the station was bathed in, and moving quickly towards them, was a tall lean, ginger-headed person. Harry blinked, but the image didn't vanish. Instead, the person drew nearer.
It was all Harry could do to keep from calling out to the young man he'd not seen in decades, and missed sorely for more than half his life. But there he was, coming ever closer, and looking eager now.
Harry turned back to George. Could he hear Fred? Could he see him too? But George was not lying in his bed. Or rather, the George that Harry had expected to see was not there. Harry watched, amazed, as George, no longer an old man, but a healthy young man, with red hair grazing his ears –both ears—kicked the bedclothes aside. He was wearing jeans and sneakers, and a knitted sweater with a G stitched into it. George's face lit up into a grin identical to the one on Fred's face, and he launched himself out of the bed and ran towards his twin.
Harry remembered later that the laughter in the room had stopped, and that out of the corner of his eye, the family had converged upon the place where George was lying. But now that didn't seem terribly important. He watched fondly, not entirely certain why he could see what he was seeing, as Fred and George collided with each other with all the force of two Bludgers. Had one of them been a few pounds heavier than the other, or a slightly faster runner, one of them would have been knocked flat on the platform, but as they weren't, they crashed into a tangle of arms and laughter, rocketing around the platform like two red and brown blurs.
And then Harry heard another voice: one he had not heard for many years. A voice full of love and caring, often worry-worn, often high-pitched and scolding, but always loving.
"Fred! Don't clobber your brother the moment he gets here! Let him breathe!"
The twins turned, and Harry squinted into the white. Appearing from the same place Fred had, two more red-headed people came. With a rush of affection, Harry realized it was Mr. and Mrs. Weasley.
"That's the beauty of it, mum," called Fred, "he doesn't have to breathe anymore!"
Laughter, delicious and reminiscent of many happy dinners he had shared with the Weasleys at the Burrow, bubbled in Harry's throat as the twins and their parent's laughed.
"Still, Fred, I should think you'd be a bit kinder to him after all these years…" Mrs. Weasley shook her head and grinned at her husband for a moment, who nodded. "Oh well, all the same," she continued, "come here and give your mother a hug, Georgie."
"I'm George -" Fred said indignantly.
"--Honestly woman, you call yourself our mother," George finished.
"Sorry, George, dear," Mrs. Weasley sighed, echoing the words she had spoken to Fred and George the first time Harry had met them.
The twins grinned wickedly at each other. "I'm only joking, I'm Fred," said Fred. And with arms around the other's shoulders, Fred and George met their parents on the platform. Obediently, George hugged his mother tightly, then his father, clapping him on the back.
A train whistle sounded.
"There's our train," Mr. Weasley said, examining a watch he wore on a gold chain. "We'd better get going, or we'll be late. Everyone will be glad to see you're back safely, George."
"Yeah, everyone's been on about how I'm missing my other half," Fred added, putting his arm around George again.
"Odd, everyone's been saying the same thing about me," George answered.
As Harry watched, the station became even more obscured by white smoke coming from an engine waiting just beyond his sight. Rapidly, the train station was vanishing, taking the Weasleys with it. Just before it disappeared altogether, Harry heard Fred ask, "That reminds me, who was finishing all your sentences, anyway?"
There was laughter, and then the twins were gone.
Slowly, Harry let his consciousness filter back into the present moment. Ginny was holding George's hand, the tears on her face the tears of happiness from only minutes ago. Danielle and Fred looked resigned and sad. Ron bowed his head into his hands and wept. Harry swallowed the lump in his throat and touched Ginny's shoulder before moving around the bed and grasping Ron's arm. Ron looked up.
"Blimey…he's gone, Harry. Gone." His voice was weak and uncertain.
Harry squeezed Ron's arm bracingly. "Yes." He cleared his throat and raised his voice slightly. "But he's okay. He's with Fred."
The lined and wrinkled faces of his family and friends looked up at him. After a moment, Hermione voiced the question. "Did you…see Fred?"
Harry smiled softly. "Yes. And your mum and dad," he added quietly. "I don't know why."
He didn't need to say why, or elaborate anything more at present. They were all used to him seeing things, odd things, that usually turned out to be accurate. Another silence ensued, stinted by sniffing and quiet sobs, when Hermione spoke again. "I'll bet it's your scar, Harry."
Everyone looked at Hermione, who had her eyes firmly affixed on Harry's forehead, where the shadow of an eighty-four-year-old scar still stood. "It connected you to Voldemort, it might now connect you to those who died at Hogwarts that day."
Again, nobody said anything. Hermione was the one to analyze everything, even at the oddest moments. Frankly, no one else but perhaps Harry cared at that point. He nodded and shrugged.
After a few moments, Danielle pulled herself together enough to say something. "I'm glad he went laughing. He would have wanted it."
"So would Fred have," Ginny murmured.
"Makes it a bit easier, doesn't it?" Fred added softly.
Easy on any of them, it would not be. But everything was all right, Harry knew. As he eased himself down onto a chair behind his wife, he remembered something that Sirius had once told him in connection with his parents. "Remember Harry, the ones we love never truly leave us."