Keep On Fighting
By Poppy P
Summary: George and Fred have a conversation about risks and what's worth fighting for. Set during HBP after Ron's birthday. Originally posted at The Sugarquill on 8/15/07. Big thanks to Hallie for the Brit Pick and setting me right about British slang terms for certain parts of the male anatomy. As always, I own nothing and reviews are much appreciated.
"Two sons," murmured Molly, "My mother buried two sons." She leaned down and pushed Ron's hair off his forehead with a shaking hand. "When I think about losing one of my children…" She broke off, sobbing quietly.
"Molly, Molly," soothed Arthur, pulling her away from Ron's bed with a gentle hug. She sniffed on his shoulder and tried to master herself as she spotted her other children.
"Fred, George," she said letting go of Arthur and holding out her arms. "When did you get here, dears?"
"A little while ago," said Fred, kissing her on the cheek.
"We came up here as soon as we heard about Ron," said George, kissing her other cheek. "We were in the village waiting to give him his birthday present."
Molly kept a tight arm about both of their shoulders, looking at them with watery eyes. "Well it's best you both hurry home, then. It's not safe to travel so late. Owl me first thing in the morning; I want to know that you're safe."
They nodded sheepishly. Fred hugged his father goodnight. George bent over Ron's bed, ruffling his hair. "Sleep tight, little bro." Ginny hugged each of them in turn, and didn't even protest when Fred put a loud, smacking kiss on her forehead.
They left the castle quickly, walking towards the gates in silence. The slushy ground muffled their footsteps as they stepped carefully through the muck.
"Wet, this," said Fred catching at George's jacket as he stepped in a particularly muddy patch.
"Mmm," murmured George broodingly.
Fred tried again. "Do you reckon Ron will read that book we gave him? Ginny said he's really mucked up the Lavender business. Maybe it'll help him cotton on about Hermione finally. What do you think?"
"Doesn't look like he'll be fit to read anything, anytime soon, does it?" asked George in a low voice. "Besides, as it's from us, he'll probably think it's some kind of prank, won't he?"
"We'll just have to tell him that it's not a prank then," said Fred bracingly. "You said so yourself: that book is pure gold."
"Whatever," muttered George, causing Fred to glance over at him.
As they reached the gates, Fred asked, "So, you want to get a drink in the village? Or we can just grab some Firewhisky and Apparate on over to Lee's."
George shook his head and snapped, "Let's just go home, all right?"
"Sure, bro." said Fred shooting a worried glance at his twin before they turned on the Apparition spot.
Back at their flat, Fred bustled around their small kitchen making sandwiches. George had thrown himself on the couch the moment they got home. He sprawled there, pointing his wand at the wireless, unable to settle on a station.
"Budge up," said Fred, handing him a plate and a bottle of butterbeer.
"Not hungry," said George, putting the plate down on their coffee table with a loud thump. "I'm going to bed."
"Sit down!" ordered Fred, placing his plate on the table as well. "What's got your knickers in a twist? You heard Madame P: Ron's going to be just fine."
George opened his bottle of butterbeer with a hard twist. "Close call though, wasn't it?" he said taking a messy swig from the bottle and slopping butterbeer down the front of his robes. "Bah!" He tossed it aside. It hit the wall with a loud clank and slid down to the floor where it made a dark stain on the carpet.
"Oi!" protested Fred. "Mum's not around to pick up after you. Besides, it's like Dad said, we're lucky Harry was there."
George turned to Fred with a sneer. "Yeah, we're really lucky, aren't we?"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
George jumped up and started to pace. "Haven't you noticed how the Weasley injury rate has gone up since we met Harry?"
"What are you on about?"
"Oh don't play stupid with me, Fred Gideon."
"Well how about you start making sense, George Fabian?"
"Okay, let's see," started George sarcastically, "Since Ron's met Harry he's been smashed in the head by a giant chess set, chased through the forest by humungous spiders, had his leg broken, was attacked by mutant brains, and now he's been poisoned."
Fred shook his head incredulously. "But you can't blame Harry…"
"What about Ginny, eh? Remember the Chamber of Secrets? Remember what it felt like when…" his voice faltered, "when McGonagall told us about her being taken?"
"George…" began Fred in a pleading voice.
"No," protested George, continuing his pacing. "Then there was last year with her running around at the Ministry. She broke her ankle, but it could've easily been her neck."
Fred shook his head, but didn't interrupt as it was apparent that George was not done. "You haven't forgotten about Dad have you? Remember what Mad-eye said, about Harry being possessed by You-Know-Who?" George threw himself on the sofa again, his face in his hands. "Who's it going to be next?"
It was Fred's turn to jump up and pace. "I can't believe it," he said.
"Starting to see a pattern, eh?" said George, his voice muffled by his hands.
"No," said Fred sharply, "I can't believe you!"
George looked up quickly. "Me? What about me?"
"You're losing your nerve, that's what!"
"So what if I am?" shot back George. "What if it's Mum next? Or Bill, or Charlie. What if it's one of us?"
"Belt up, will you!" Fred shouted. He kicked the coffee table, sending the plates with their forgotten sandwiches flying about. He was silent for several minutes as he continued to pace. When he finally spoke, his voice was low and harsh.
"Do you honestly think that I've never thought about it?" About losing one of them, or…or losing you?" George glanced up at him. "We're at war," Fred continued, "and war's not pretty or fair, is it, mate?" He threw himself down on the couch next to George. "I…I never told you, but last summer, you know when S-sirius…" he trailed off.
"Died?" said George softly.
Fred nodded. "Yeah, well afterwards, I felt awful. You see, I kept thinking about Christmas at Grimmauld Place. Remember when we were waiting for news about Dad and I shouted at Sirius?"
"You told him that everything was easy for him 'because he wasn't out there risking his neck."
Fred winced. "Yeah, that. Only later, when he was gone, I kept going over that in my head." He turned away from George, his ears scarlet. "I kept wishing that I had apologized for that. Why did I ever say that to him?" Fred continued to look away from George.
George placed a hand on his shoulder and patted him. "We were all worried about Dad. Don't beat yourself up about it. I'm sure Sirius understood."
"I never got a chance to ask him though, did I? One minute a bloke's alive," Fred turned back towards his twin, "the next minute, he's…"
"Gone," finished George softly.
Fred nodded gravely. George tried to think of words of comfort, but failing continued to pat Fred on the shoulder. He was surprised to learn that Fred was bothered by such a thing. Fred rarely felt guilt about anything.
When Fred finally spoke, his voice was uncharacteristically soft, but his eyes were ablaze. "So yeah, I've thought about it, you know losing one of us. Hell, it'd even be a wretch to lose Percy, worthless, brainless, kiss-arse, git that he is." George smirked. Fred continued, "And losing you would be like losing an arm or a leg or a…a…"
"A nose?" said George helpfully.
"Work with me here," said Fred, slightly annoyed. "The analogy only works if the body part comes in a pair."
"Er, right," said George. "Okay, how about one of your knackers then?"
Fred cringed. "Painful, but yeah you get the point. I can't imagine anything more painful that losing one of those." George nodded fervently. Fred continued. "But no matter the loss, I'd keep on fighting and so would you, because it's the right thing to do."
George pondered this for a few minutes, and then nodded slowly. "Yeah, I suppose I would. We owed the D E's before we ever met Harry, didn't we?"
"We sure did." said Fred with an ugly look on his face. "Mum knows that as well. For all of her fussing, she's still in the Order, isn't she? We have to do whatever we can to bring Mouldy Vort down. Even if we'd never heard about Harry Potter, we'd still be in the thick of things."
The twins were both quiet for a few minutes. Finally George asked, "You reckon The Prophet's right about Harry being the Chosen One?"
Fred nodded thoughtfully. "Most likely. Who else could it be?"
"I hope the kid makes it," said George sincerely. "He's almost like another brother, what with Mum practically adopting him."
Fred grinned. "He may be our official brother yet, if Ginny has anything to say about it."
George shook his head ruefully. "Nah, he seems to be the only bloke at Hogwarts who's immune to our little sister's charms."
"Oh I wouldn't rule her out just yet. This is Ginny we're talking about. Besides, Harry doesn't seem as gormless as Ron. I reckon he'll get the point before ickle Ronniekins."
The twins were quiet again for a few minutes until Fred let out a snort. "One of your knackers?" he said, shaking his head.
"They come in a pair," insisted George, the corners of his mouth twitching as well.
They looked away from each other, identical smirks on their faces. When they finally couldn't hold the laughter in, they turned back and simultaneously launched themselves at each other in an impromptu wrestling match. They rolled around on the floor, the remnants of the forgotten sandwiches clinging to their hair and robes. After a few minutes, George finally gained the advantage and sat on Fred, shouting, "Say it!"
Fred struggled futilely. "Never!"
"Say it!" demanded George with a slight bounce on Fred's stomach.
"Okay, okay," gasped Fred. "I'm a big nancy boy who fancies Peeves!"
"Again!" said George with another bounce.
"I'm a big nancy boy who fancies Peeves!" shouted Fred, pushing George off of him with a mighty heave. "Get off you great wanker!"
"Takes one to know one," said George cheerfully.
They lay on the floor, panting with mirth. Fred was the first to get up, holding a hand out. George reach up as Fred grasped his arm below the elbow and pulled him to his feet. Fred continued to hold onto George's arm. He looked his twin in the eye. "Nothing's going to happen to any of us. You know that, right?"
"I know," said George confidently, "and if it did, we would…"
"Keep on fighting," finished Fred.
"That's a promise," said George, giving Fred's arm a squeeze before he dropped it.
"Besides," said Fred, "we're too brilliant for anything to happen to us."
"Not to mention handsome."
"Well, I am anyway."
Before George could retort, a familiar voice called out of their fireplace. "Oi!" shouted Lee.
"All right?" asked Fred, dropping to his knees on the hearth, George right beside him.
Lee's eyes swept over the little flat, taking in the upturned coffee table, the sandwiches mashed into the carpet, the dark butterbeer stain and finally the twins' dishevelled appearance. "What's all this and why wasn't I invited?"
"Come on over then, you tosser," said George flicking a piece of bread at Lee's head.
Lee grinned. "I can't. I'm entertaining a lady friend." They heard a muffled female giggle in the background. Fred wolf-whistled as George shook his head admiringly. "Listen," continued Lee, "why don't you lot come on over. She says she can summon a couple of friends."
"Excellent," said Fred brightly, "George?"
"Lead the way," said George agreeably.
"I always do."
AT THE FUNERAL…
George wondered if he would ever get used to people bursting into tears at the sight of him. It was four days since the Battle of Hogwarts and Mum still cried every time she laid eyes on him. Percy was even worse. His other brothers and Ginny tried, in vain, to fill the void by keeping him company his every waking minute. He hadn't even been allowed to sleep alone since the battle. George knew they meant well, but he longed for the moment when he could finally be alone, to mourn in peace. Even here at the funeral, their fourth in as many days, he felt unable to let go.
Mr. Weasley sidled up to George, avoiding his gaze and whispered, "It's almost time to close the coffin, son."
He nodded, and went forward. After four days, the sight of his twin's prone body still caused his stomach to clench horribly. Everybody stepped back and he was grateful. He would finally get a private moment with Fred. George leaned towards the coffin and looked at his twin for a long time. He was suddenly struck with the finality of seeing his own face upon another person for the last time.
He reached out a hand and ran it over Fred's features. Percy had told him how Fred had been laughing up until the last moment of his life.
A swift, humorous memory came to him and he found himself grinning back at Fred. He leaned down to whisper, "Fred, you were wrong. There is something worse than losing one of your knackers." A hollow laugh escaped from his lips. He felt the mourners all around him stir at the sound. The laugh turned into harsh, ragged sobs. At once two people rushed up to his side, Ginny and Lee. They each grabbed one of his arms and attempted to prise him away from the coffin.
"It's all right, mate," murmured Lee, with little conviction.
"George, it's time to go," whispered Ginny.
They attempted to steer him back towards the mourners, and he started to go with them. However, before they'd taken more than five steps, George pulled away from them and turned back. He leaned over the coffin once more. "I kept my promise though, Fred, didn't I? I kept on fighting until the end."
Lee and Ginny were at his side again. This time, he let them lead him away.
Rest in peace Fred….