Disclaimer: "Harry Potter" is the property of JK Rowling.
A/N: "Innocentia disperitum" is Latin for "innocence lost." If anyone thinks my translation is off, though, let me know, because it's been awhile since I've done participles.
They'd always been his kid brothers. It was hard for Bill to think of them any other way, when, at the time, it had felt like all he'd done was take care of them. What with the new baby in the house, he'd been stuck feeding them, which always involved a lengthy struggle to strap them into high chairs, since they refused to sit still while they ate. This caused plenty of shouting from Mum that the other boys had managed to eat like human beings when they were toddlers, which in turn usually encouraged the two of them to chuck their dinners at each other. Most of it ended up on the walls.
He'd had to watch them all summer to make sure they didn't cause too much trouble or injury to themselves. They'd already started doing magic by the time Ron was born, though of course, at two years old, they couldn't control it (not for lack of trying), and he spent plenty of time patching up cuts, scrapes, and bruises from their misadventures, at least until Mum could get there. Poor Mum, she'd been so sure she'd finally get a girl; instead, there were the twins.
And they were terrors. He was so happy to finally be off to Hogwarts, to leave Charlie in charge and to be responsible for himself and no one else. Of course, he'd taken on more and more responsibility at school, and sometimes he thought it was because he didn't know how to not take charge. Being the eldest brother of Fred and George always felt as though it had demanded far more energy than being Head Boy.
They were always eager to see him on breaks; eager to impress him, to show him what they'd learned and got up to while he was gone, and Mum never approved, obviously. But they made him laugh. Their exuberance had a tendency to be catching.
And then he'd finished at Hogwarts and gone off to Egypt and never managed to get a minute's holiday for practically three years, and when he'd returned his little brothers had turned into boisterous teenagers, Beaters on the House team, pranksters with plenty of exploits to brag about, and, not to mention, girl-crazy. It was a profound shock.
Every time he saw them through those years, he was amazed to see how much they'd grown up. They wreaked ever more sophisticated havoc, they were running their own business, they had girlfriends. When they turned seventeen, they weren't content to sit out the fight with You-Know-Who, and the rows with Mum that ensued were ear-splitting at their most mild. He tried, really he did, to stop thinking of them as his kid brothers, to recognize that they'd grown up, that they'd change further still once they finished school.
He'd just gotten used to thinking of Fred and George as adults, as members of the Order, as the future uncles of his future children. He'd been happy to be able to watch, for once, as they underwent the transition in their lives from adolescents to young men and to see how that changed them. Sometimes they still acted like those little boys that he'd soothed after they'd accidentally magicked the broom to thwack themselves, and he'd hoped that they'd never lose that.
That was what made Bill so angry as he stared at the lifeless body stretched out on the table. He'd come to terms with all of this, and now Fred would never change. He would remain forever twenty years old, just on the cusp of everything. And George would change, oh yes, but looking at his face, frozen in disbelief and horror, Bill had a terrible feeling that it might be a change that could destroy his little brother. This was beyond patching up a cut or a scrape; no one was coming to make this better, for George or any of them, and Bill felt a spasm of harsh pain for his brother, who had lost his innocence once and for all tonight.