Disclaimer: "Harry Potter" is the property of J.K. Rowling. Title from "Good-bye" by Natalie Imbruglia.

There's No Easy Way to Say Good-Bye

George sat close to the coffin, staring at it without really seeing it, his brown eyes unfocussed and his mind far away. It was a beautiful June day -- wouldn't it figure that on one of the worst days of his life, the weather would be unrelentingly cheerful? He had gotten to this point through sheer force of will and the knowledge that, if their positions were reversed -- if he were the one in that coffin -- Fred would have soldiered on. He would have stood up to the horrible crushing grief, not let it consume him. Fred also probably would have done better with all the people that had come to the funeral. It was incredible, how many people were there, and George was touched, really he was, but he just couldn't face talking to anyone else right then. Their sadness, their sympathy, their outstretched hands offering nothing but comfort, was more than he could deal with at this moment.

He knew it wasn't fair, but he felt as though no one could come anywhere close to understanding the gaping hole in him. None of them knew what it was like to never be alone, ever, and then to suddenly have the person you loved most in the world ripped away from you. More than that -- his other half had been torn from him, and he knew he'd never be whole again. In a way, he was at his own funeral, and people certainly wouldn't understand that. He was the lucky one, after all. He was a comfort to his mother. Hadn't he heard that enough times? Thank God he was still here. One of the Weasley twins had survived, at least. As if they were just interchangeable enough to comfort others, but not enough that George should be left permanently broken. That didn't seem to occur to anyone. The two of them had never been completely separate people in anyone's minds, except now that it was convenient for them to be so.

He knew it wasn't fair to think this way, because he wasn't the only one who'd lost someone he loved so dearly. But that couldn't stop him feeling it, anyway. And there was no one to speak to, even if he wanted to. No one wanted to hear these things. No one wanted to think about the lives that had been destroyed now You-Know-Who was finally gone.

A throat cleared behind him, breaking into his thoughts, followed by a voice. "Everyone's going to want you to eat something. I think they must have some idea that if you've got enough food in you, there won't be room for anything else."

George turned his head and looked up at Harry, who appeared pale and shaken. He also looked like he'd been crying, and George envied him his ability to do so. He hadn't. Not once since Fred had died. His throat ached constantly with the strain of the held-back tears and there was a permanent pressure on his chest. Half the time he could barely speak from it. It was a wonder he'd been able to deliver the eulogy, really, without choking on his grief. Everyone else had seemed impressed with him as well. Katie Bell had come up to him, tears running down her face, and told him she didn't know how he'd managed.

"Maybe they're right, in a way," George said, amazed that his voice came out sounding almost normal. "Maybe I'm not hungry because I'm so full of...everything else."

Harry sat down a couple chairs away. "That's true."

They sat in silence for several minutes, which George appreciated more, he was certain, than he could ever express. But Harry had, after all, been through this enough times -- he'd managed to lose almost everyone close to him in only seventeen years.

"I think," Harry said at last, in a hesitant tone, "that people can't stand the thought that there's nothing they can do to help. That's hard."

George turned back to his brother's coffin. "Why do they try, then? If they know they can't do anything?"

"No one likes to see someone they care about in pain," Harry replied quietly.

"Well, they'd better get used to it," George said, a savage undertone creeping into his voice, "because I'm never going to stop being in pain."

To his immense satisfaction, Harry did not come back with some tripe about how he knew it seemed impossible now, but eventually it would get easier. Of course everyone who said that was just trying to reassure him that every day wouldn't be such a struggle, that he wouldn't spend the rest of his life waking up in the morning, exhausted from having barely slept, wondering if there was any point in getting out of bed. Wondering if he even could get out of bed. Thank God Mum hadn't put him in their old room, or he'd probably have gone mad by now. It wasn't as though he'd be able to move away from everything that reminded him of Fred, not when they had shared practically everything. Not when every time he looked in the mirror he saw his twin's face.

"Harry," he said, his tone suddenly desperate, "how do you do it? How do you..." His voice gave out as his chest tightened, and he swallowed painfully.

Harry bit his lip and glanced away, gazing into the distance. For a long moment, he didn't speak. Then, he began, "You just...you don't think you can. At first. You really just don't care anymore...about anything. It's horrible. But..." He took a deep breath. "You just have to keep going. As best you can. And if you're lucky, you've got people around you to help you." Looking back at George, he said, "You do. Your family, they..." He trailed off, looking as though he was biting back tears.

It helped. For some reason, it helped to hear something truthful. "Thanks," he said softly.

Standing up, Harry put a hand on George's shoulder, then walked away to rejoin the rest of the Weasleys. Nothing that Harry had said was new to him, of course. There was nothing that he hadn't thought of himself. He looked back to Fred's coffin, knowing that it would not be easy -- it would never be easy, in fact -- but he had to try. He'd stay here for just a bit longer, and then he would go to be with his family.