WARNING: DEATHLY HALLOWS SPOILERS!!! DON'T READ IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE SPOILED!!!
So here we are... I told you I'd write a sequel to "Can you feel 'nothing'?", so here it is. For those who haven't read my previous story: it's not really necessary to know it, but I'd be glad if you read it anyway, of course!
I don't know how many chapters I'll write, all I know is that I want to show George's way back into a life without Fred. It begins right after George has been at Fred's grave after the funeral.
As always, I ask you to review if you read this story, I don't like people who read but never leave a comment... If you find some grave mistakes, e.g. words that are just wrong, or bad grammar mistakes, just tell me. I'm not a native speaker, and I'm always glad to learn something new!
Oh, and I'm a slow writer, due to my work and my horse I only find time to write in the evening - if I find it at all. So don't be impatient, please!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, no copyright infringement intended.
And now... let's get this started!
Learning to feel again
1. Haunted Nights
Night was already setting in when he entered the house, and he wasn't surprised at all to find them together in the sitting room, his whole family giving him worried looks – No!, a small voice reminded him painfully, Not the whole family… But George tried not to listen to it as he came nearer to where they were assembled. He was leaving wet spots on the floor, but for the first time in his life, his mother didn't complain. In fact, her eyes were filled with nothing but deep love and concern, and he cast down his eyes so that he didn't have to look at her. He knew he had hurt her by running away so shortly after… He swallowed hard. The funeral. He had never known that only thinking of a word could ache so much.
He was aware of everyone watching him, how he was standing in the doorway in drenched clothes, water dripping from his hair that was plastered at his forehead, and he realized that he had to look as crappy as never before.
"I… I'll just get changed… okay?", he managed to say, adressing nobody in particular. He turned round before anyone could even answer, let alone ask him where he'd been.
George didn't notice the looks his parents exchanged, he didn't see Ron jump up and being pulled back by Hermione, and he didn't hear his little sister calling his name.
He stumbled up the stairs, he needed to get out of these clothes, he didn't want to be reminded of the last hours, all he wanted was to forget it. He had made a promise he wasn't so sure he could keep, but he also knew that breaking it would break him, too…
He pushed the door open, the room was dark and he turned on the light without thinking, it came instictively – and the moment the bright light extinguished the darkness, he froze, his eyes widening in horror and understanding. His eyes scanned the walls surrounding him, the two beds on each side, the window right opposite him from which someone was staring at him, just as terrified as himself, and he staggered as his feet moved forwards. And the figure moved, too, coming closer, and he reached out his shaking hand, "Fred…"
And it was only then that the truth hit him, and he closed his eyes to not look at the reflexion again, nothing – no one but his very own reflexion.
He felt his eyes stinging again, and he bit his lips to stop them from trembling, but there was no way of easing the sharp pain that ran through his body as he failed to repress the sobs that emerged from somewhere deep within.
Blinded by his own tears, he stepped back, he had to get out of this room now, but where should he go to? He felt helpless and exhausted and in a strange way so entirely furious. Why? The question was burning inside him, why couldn't he act normal for more than a second, why wasn't he able to accept the truth, and above all, why for Merlin's sake was he here and Fred was not? It just wasn't fair, and he remembered what he had once been told, that life was never fair. It was only fairer than death, nothing more.
Suddenly he felt a firm hand on his shoulder, and he didn't need to turn around to know who was there.
She was pulling him gently to herself, and he inhaled her familiar scent as he sobbed into her blouse. The sobs came uncontrollably, he was shaking with grief, for the brother he'd lost, and for his mother who was holding him. With a jolt of guilt he realized that he had never allowed her to hold him like this since the day their lives had been changed so dramatically forever.
"Mum, I…", he started, but the lump in his throat made it impossible to speak. And it wasn't necessary. His hands clenched the fabric tightly as the tears streamed onto it, and with a soothing voice she murmured words of comfort that slowly reached him through the mist surrounding him.
"Hush… hush, my boy…"
She was crying, too, he didn't need to see it, he could simply tell by the way her shoulders were shivering violently at his chest. He had never been more aware of how he had outgrown his mother, but he had never felt more fragile in her arms before, either.
He tried to calm down, to breathe somewhat regularly, but he wasn't able to fight down the sobs yet. He swallowed hard, he had to say something, but the words wouldn't come out.
"George", his mother said tenderly, her voice tear-soaked but stronger again, "if you don't want to…" She hesitated, as if she was unsure what words were best, and finally George looked at her. "Well, if you want to stay here… I'd be more than glad to have you around, love."
How could she know? He had planned to return to Diagon Alley in the same night, but now he didn't think he'd make it through the night alone. But on the other hand the thought of sleeping in this room scared him to the bone, he wouldn't be able to sleep here when the ghosts of the past were hiding in every corner.
"Maybe… you could share with Percy?"
She asked this carefully, and George didn't reply immediately. The thoughts whirled inside his head, he had never shared a room with anyone but his twin, and wouldn't it be treachery if he did it now, wouldn't it be better to go home? But as he saw the silent plea in his mother's eyes, he shoved the thoughts aside. He had made a promise to Fred, but that did definitely not mean to forget about those who were left to him. If he couldn't do it for himself, he could still do it for his mother.
The house was quiet. Even the ghoul seemed to be asleep, George thought while he was lying awake, staring into the darkness. He was wrapped in the bed sheets, but he still felt cold, and he couldn't sleep – something he was getting used to with every passing night. He turned on his right side, his face buried in the pillow. The silence was like thunder in his ear, he wished for something to disturb it, because it made the voices in his head even louder, and he couldn't do anything to shut them out.
But then, when he didn't believe he'd ever get rid of them, he heard a noise from the other bed in the room, a voice that made him stir immediately.
"No – no – no!"
George gazed over at his brother who was turning around from one side to the other in his bed, and the words he was muttering made him stay still in terror.
"No! Fred, no! No!"
The last word came as a quiet scream, a sound of so much agony that George began to shake just like the silhouette he could see on the bed. With a tip of his wand he switched on the light. He managed to get up slowly, and he approached Percy's bed without even knowing what he wanted to do.
"No, no… It wasn't, please, it wasn't… I didn't want it, no, please…"
Percy's voice turned into whimpering, and although his eyes were shut tightly, tears were leaving shimmering traces on his face.
Carefully George sat down on the edge of the bed, insecure about what to do. But without thinking of it, he suddenly watched himself stroking his elder brother's shoulders, and he heard his own words penetrating the silence.
"Hey… it's okay mate. It's okay."
The shaking eased, he could feel Percy's muscles relax underneath his hand, and after a while he opened his eyes, looking at his younger brother in confusion.
"George, what are you…"
George forced himself to a weak smile as he watched the pale face on the white pillow.
"You had a nightmare, I guess. Just some bad dream."
But something told him that he had just witnessed more than a simple nightmare, and the way Percy looked at him, terrified and sad, proved him right.
"I was there", Percy choked out, and his eyes filled with tears again. "I was there, and… and…" He closed his eyes, and George sat there, a part of him wanting to hear it, another part urging him to just go back to sleep. But before he could even make a decision, his brother opened his eyes again, and his words were filled with despair as he stared at George.
"I couldn't do anything, he was lying there, and he… he… he was smiling at me, George, and I was screaming, but he wouldn't get up, he just wouldn't get up…" He was crying now, and George barely noticed himself gripping the bed sheets tightly. "I have those dreams every f-fucking night, it's always the same, and he stares at me, telling me it's… it's my fault, and he asks… he asks why I didn't protect him, but I tried, George, believe me, I tried… I tried…"
"Hush", George whispered, and he was surprised that he was able to say something at all with his face all wet from tears, "I know you did."
He remained sitting there for almost an hour, watching his elder brother drifting to sleep in the end, the expression on his pale face at least a bit less haunted than before. He had told him the truth. Although as a first emotional reaction after the numbness, he had tried to blame Percy for what had happened. After all, he had been there, so why hadn't he done anything? Why – and his insides twisted painfully as he remembered those thoughts – hadn't it been him instead, him who had already brought so much hurt to his family? But he had had to realize that it wasn't that easy. He couldn't blame Percy for not saving Fred. At least he had been there – and that was more than he could say for himself. No, Percy was definitely not the one to blame.