This was written for the Review Lounge's Rainbow Project - a series of stories by different authors, each about a different character, and each having something to do with rainbows. If you haven't done so, I urge you to go and read the others - the link is in my favourites.
Please read and review!
Storms and Rainbows
Fred had never seen the attraction of rainbows. He supposed they were pretty enough, but they didn't do anything. He liked storms better. Thunder and lightning and lashing rain – with a howling gale thrown in if you were really lucky – satisfied his liking for action, for movement, for noise. He knew that George disagreed with him. George was frightened of storms (although no one except Fred knew that) and he liked rainbows, almost to the point of an obsession with them. Fred laughed at him about it; said rainbows were too pretty-pretty, too sissy, too girly. Mind you, he practically flattened Charlie when he agreed with him. Fred was allowed to say things like that to George; no one else was, not even their other brothers.
That was it, you see. There was the two of them - the twins, the Weasley twins, Fred-and-George, Gred-and-Forge, "which one are you, again?" - and there were the others. The others were okay. Well, mostly okay. Bill was cool, but too big-brother-bossy on occasion. Charlie was fun, and the one who looked most like him and George, but even he had his "I'm your older brother, do it my way" moments. Percy was so different from the rest of them that he and George seriously wondered if he really was one of their family, or whether Mum has somehow picked up the wrong baby by mistake. And a lot of the time, Percy was just a git. Ron was "Ickle Ronniekins", nothing more than their pesky little brother, good for teasing and as the butt of many a joke. And Ginny was – Ginny was their baby sister, and he and George would do practically anything to make sure she was safe and happy, short of letting on to her or to anyone else that that was how they felt about her.
But they were "the others". Okay, they were Weasleys-our-family-I'll-stick-up-for-you-against-all-comers, but they weren't part of the alliance that was Fred-and-George. Always Fred-and-George, never the other way round. That annoyed Fred a lot more than it did George. He knew that everyone saw him as the louder, brasher, crueller, more extrovert of the two of them (not that anyone in their wildest dreams could ever describe George as an introvert). Fred was louder. George was slightly less likely to play a joke that might hurt someone. Fred was readier to hit out in anger without even thinking about it, whereas George's anger was slower-burning but fiercer and longer-lasting once kindled. Fred was supposedly the ringleader, the one in front, the one who had the ideas. That was crap, of course. George had at least as many good ideas as he had, and he was more inclined to stick at the ones that didn't work first time, and make them work. If it had been left to him alone, Fred knew, half the products they sold in Weasley's Wizard Wheezes would never have made it to the shelves.
There were other differences between them of course. Some their family and close friends knew about. Others were known only to the twins themselves. Things like George not liking thunder. The fact that Fred hated being alone in the dark ( he said he hated it, rather than he was frightened of it because then he felt slightly less bad about it). The fact that Fred worried more about himself, while George worried more about other people (Fred wasn't particularly proud of that one, but he couldn't deny it was true.)
Ultimately he and George were a team, and the differences between them – whether other people could spot them or not – only made them stronger. But Fred had a suspicion – one that he had shared with no one at all, not even George – that if for some reason (Godric forbid) one of them ever had to get by without his twin, that George would make a much better shot at it than he would. Because the thing that frightened Fred most of all, but which somehow never seemed to worry George, was the thought of being separated from his twin. Not "oh dammit, I left my bag in the common room, meet you in Transfiguration" separated; not one-in-detention-and-the-other-not separated (not that that happened very often), but really separated for hours, or days, or weeks – or forever.
It started when they were five, and George had Dragon Pox badly enough that he had to be admitted to St. Mungo's. Fred screamed for most of the first night alone in their room. On the second night, their father (their mother was staying at the hospital with George) moved Charlie into George's bed so Fred would not be on his own. That was okay until morning came, and Fred, waking up and seeing someone who was not George in George's bed, leapt on Charlie, biting and kicking and hitting him. After that, Arthur moved Fred onto a camp bed in his own room, which worked better, although Fred still woke crying for his twin several times during the night. When George came home, Fred literally didn't let him out of his sight for a fortnight.
When the twins were eleven, their Hogwarts letters came. They were excited of course. They had wanted to go to Hogwarts ever since Bill started, when they were only four. But in the middle of the night two weeks before term began, an awful thought occurred to Fred. He sat bolt upright, and aimed a pillow at his sleeping twin, needing reassurance now that what he dreaded wouldn't happen.
"Wassamarra?" mumbled George, glaring at Fred, and throwing the pillow back into his brother's face with surprising accuracy for someone who had just been rudely awakened from a perfectly good dream.
"George, what if …?" Fred's idea had scared him so much he was practically in tears, and George scrambled out of his own bed to join Fred in his.
"What?" he demanded, his expression changing from one of irritation to one of concern. "Whassup?"
"What if the Sorting Hat puts us in different Houses at Hogwarts?" whispered Fred
As far as George was concerned, the question was so ridiculous he nearly laughed. "Don't be an idiot," he said, hugging his twin. "We'll be in Gryffindor. Weasleys are always in Gryffindor. Bill said so."
Fred shook his head. "Bill doesn't know that," he insisted. "Brothers aren't always in the same House. Just because everyone so far has been in Gryffindor doesn't mean we will be."
And nothing George could say persuaded Fred that his fears were unfounded. The idea that he might be separated from George at school haunted him over the next two weeks.
The very last day of the holidays was a stormy one. Despite George's misgivings, Fred and George took their brooms and flew out over the hills behind The Burrow. (Actually, that wasn't strictly accurate. The brooms they took were Bill's and Charlie's, which were better than theirs. But since Bill had left for his first job in Egypt a week earlier, and Charlie had gone to Diagon Alley with his latest girlfriend, the twins figured they were fairly safe from their older brothers' wrath.) They flew through the rain, dodging and chasing each other, Fred laughing at the thunder and lightning, and George pretending to, until they were both exhausted and soaked to the skin. They landed and collapsed on their backs, looking up at the sky as the rain eased off, and the thunder and lightning ceased (to Fred's disappointment and George's quiet relief).
Fred rolled over on his stomach and looked at his twin, a frown on his face.
"What?" demanded George, raising his eyebrows.
"What if we are separated tomorrow Georgie?"
"Are you really still worrying about that?" asked George. "We won't be. There's no way. Even if we didn't end up in Gryffindor – which we will – we'd be together somewhere else. The Hat wouldn't separate us, really it wouldn't."
"But …" began Fred, but George interrupted him.
"But what? We'll be together Fred, really we will. I wish you'd stop worrying about it."
Fred groaned. "I can't help it. I don't think I could stand it if they split us up. And they might. We are different, even if some people don't think we are. The Hat'll see that. Charlie says it can read your mind. It'll see all the stupid things I'm scared of and put me in Hufflepuff, and you'll go into Gryffindor without me." He was crying now, and hid his face in his arms so George couldn't see.
George knew anyway. "Don't be a git, Fred. You're miles braver than me about loads of things. Look, if it'll make you feel better, I'll promise you something."
"Wha'? You can't do anything about what the Hat decides, can you?"
"No. But I can do something about what I do about it," George replied, somewhat incoherently.
"What are you talking about?" asked Fred, wiping his sleeve across his eyes, and regarding his twin with a puzzled expression.
"I promise," said George, "that wherever the Hat puts you, I'll come and join you, whatever it says about me. I promise, Freddie."
"How d'you know I'll be first?" demanded Fred, wanting to believe George, but looking for a loophole in his logic.
"Because it's alphabetical, you idiot. F came before G last time I looked."
"You'll really do that?" Fred asked. "Even if it puts me in Slytherin?"
George grinned. "It'd better not. But if it does, I'll join you there. I might never talk to you again, mind. But I'll join you. I won't leave you on your own."
"Yeah, promise, Freddie."
The rain had stopped completely now, and a beautiful rainbow arched above the two boys.
"See?" said George. "Dad said Muggles have some weird idea about a rainbow being a sign of a promise. So I can't back out now. Happy?"
Fred smiled properly for the first time in a fortnight, and hugged his twin.
"Yeah. Happy. Thanks George. What would I do without you?"
He didn't have to find out, of course. The Sorting Hat took less than five seconds to place him in Gryffindor, and only took a little longer with George because it was musing: "Haven't I just done you? Oh no, I see the differences now; but still – Gryffindor!"
So the twins were together in Gryffindor, as everyone except Fred had always expected, and were together throughout their Hogwarts careers – from establishing themselves as Troublemakers-in-Chief early in their first year (to Percy's disgust and Charlie's secret amusement) right through to their spectacular exit in their seventh, flying together into a sunset that rivalled one of George's rainbows for the range and brightness of its colours. And together they began their biggest adventure, Weasleys Wizard Wheezes – much more of an adventure than a business venture – which looked like being a spectacular success.
Then, just over a year after their grand exit from Hogwarts, all Fred's old fears came back to haunt him, and the separation he had always secretly dreaded nearly took place. Both he and George drank the Polyjuice Potion to turn them into Harry, making a joke of it, as they did about everything, pretending to be each other, knowing it might be dangerous, but neither of them really believing anything would happen to them.
As Lupin and Arthur's brooms diverged, Fred, clinging round his father's waist on the back of their broom, saw George hit by the Sectumsempra curse, saw the blood, saw the way George slumped forward against Lupin, who was fighting to keep his broom steady, to keep George on it, and to get away from the Death Eaters on their tail. Fred was screaming at his father to stop and to turn back, but Arthur ignored him, grimly determined to do the job they had been given to do, not to compromise the effort to get Harry to safety whatever the cost. It was a different story once they got back to The Burrow an eternity or two later, their father nearly flattening Kingsley Shacklebolt who tried to establish his identity beyond doubt before letting him and Fred into the house to George.
Fred had never been as frightened in his life as he was on entering the familiar living room of The Burrow, and seeing George lying so still on the settee, covered in blood, and with a gaping hole in the side of his head where his left ear should have been. Even when George roused, his statement about feeling saintlike confused Fred utterly – as it would never have done on a normal occasion, however lame the joke – and scared him nearly as much as George's previous stillness had done. Once he understood, Fred continued the joke of course. He was Fred Weasley, everyone expected him to make a joke of things: he couldn't do anything else.
But the thought that he had nearly lost George, and his utter terror when he had seen him hit by the curse haunted Fred both day and night. After a fortnight when he scarcely let his twin out of his sight, at the point at which George was getting heartily sick both of that and of Fred's nightmares waking him every night, George spotted a beautiful rainbow arching high over Diagon Alley. It was nearly closing time and the shop was empty of customers. Verity had already gone home. George slapped the "Closed" sign on the door, and dragged his protesting twin outside.
"See the rainbow, Freddie?" George hadn't called him that for years – or not when he was being serious, as he clearly was now. What was going on?
"D'you remember what I told you about a rainbow meaning a promise? When you thought we'd end up in different Houses at school?"
"Yeah …" Fred said slowly, still not understanding what the hell his twin was talking about.
"I promised I'd never leave you on your own then, and I meant it. As far as I'm concerned, nothing's changed since…"
Suddenly George's meaning dawned on Fred, and his eyes widened.
"Yeah, promise, Freddie."
The twins hugged each other. Both of them slept easily in their beds after that.
There was a storm during the evening on the day of Fred's funeral. George sat curled in an armchair hating the storm, trying not to flinch at each crash of thunder, and hating even more that the one person who understood just how bad storms made him feel wasn't there any more to hold his hand (metaphorically at least) even as he laughed at him about his fears.
But then Charlie was leaving the settee where he had been sitting with Bill and Fleur, and perching on the arm of George's chair.
"It's only a storm, Georgie. Only a stupid storm." And George hid his tears in Charlie's old sweater, feeling Charlie's strong arms around him, and knowing that, even with Fred gone, he still had his family, and would never be completely on his own.
The thunder and lightning stopped, but Charlie continued to hold his little brother. Fleur walked over to the window. "Look, zere is un arc de ciel – que est-ce que c'est en Anglais?"
Bill joined her at the window and put his arm around her shoulders. "A rainbow," he told her. "A beautiful one."
George looked up at that, and freed himself from Charlie's arms. Going outside into the yard, he looked up at the most spectacular rainbow that he had ever seen.
"You're not on your own Georgie, you never will be." He heard Fred's voice as clearly as if he were standing next to him.
"Yeah, promise, Georgie."
And despite everything, George smiled. Rainbows meant even more to him after that.