A/N: If you've not read Deathly Hallows, read no further. This is a 3 in the morning creation that I wrote at ten p.m. last night, when I was suppossed to be studying for an A.P. U.S. History test. Harry Potter is more important anyway, right?
So anyway, this is going to end up as one of my favorites. It starts pretty sad, but the ending is happy(-er). I don't care if it's cliche, so don't tell me that. Let me know if there are spelling errors: my beta moved to college and I didn't feel like e-mailing her the document to check it over. If you tell me, I will fix it. It bugs me just as much as it bugs you. Now, I'm going to shut up and let you read.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, or the random names mentioned in the story near the bottom (the ones stated in A/N II). I just enjoy making them cry...
High above the Stars
They haven't cried since April Fools' Day. Harry says he's numb, and Ron says nothing. Ginny seems a little distracted all the time and Hermione keeps trying to smile, but always fails. Percy locked himself in misery for a month before he would talk to a living soul. Bill is quieter and doesn't laugh as loud. Charlie was sent home from Romania with a burned hand where he hadn't dodged a flame in time, and because the dragons were agitated by his restlessness. Arthur is working harder than ever at the Ministry, staying late to avoid coming home to the quiet house. Molly says she's sleeping, but she doesn't look like it. And Hermione worries that she doesn't eat as much as she used to. But no one is worse than George.
There are no more explosions from the bedroom on the fourth floor of the Burrow. De-gnoming the garden takes more time because there is one less person to help. Harry can't remember the last owl-order form that was sent out, but he thinks it was dated five months ago. Number Ninety-Three Diagon Alley is still full of people, but the posters in the windows are less colorful, and a set of unused magenta robes hang on a peg in the staffroom, because no one has the heart to move them from where He left them. At staff meetings in the morning, the squashy red chair at the end of the table is empty and the coffee-pot is never turned on. Ginny hasn't laughed in months—no one has. There haven't been any tricks or jokes. Molly hasn't yelled at any of her boys since June. Arthur continually checks his coat pocket to make sure the old picture is still there. The sixth hand on the magical clock spins wildly around the face, because it doesn't know what to point to. But no one is worse than George.
They wonder if He can see them in their misery. They know He would want them to be smiling, and laughing, and happy. But it is hard to laugh when He's not there to laugh with them. And it's hard to smile when they don't know if He's smiling back. And it's hard to be happy when He's not there to make them so. It's hard to carry on when your heart is broken.
But there's a whisper in their minds, like a wind. And it tells them it's been a year, and it's time to pick up the pieces, and try to put them back together. They've waited long enough.
Ginny said something the other day. She said the sunshine seems cooler, and the shadows darker. The light is a little less bright, and the stars don't twinkle as much. Summer doesn't quite seem like summer this year. Something is missing from the world. But they should keep moving on, because just over the horizon and high above the stars, he is waiting for them to laugh again.
Ron doesn't say anything, but he fixes the clock so that the crazy hand pointed to a new phrase—Above the Stars. Molly hugs him and cries when he does this, and Hermione smiles for the first time in months.
Harry leaves the Burrow one evening with a determined look on his face. When he returns, he has a large crate with him. He calls everyone out into the yard, and sends a spell at the box. The fireworks that explode from it make them all smile at the memory of the Great Escape from Umbridge. The sparklers and Catherine wheels last until the next morning.
Hermione finds an old box of half-finished trick-sweets, and sits down in the garden with an old cauldron and her sixth year Potions book. There is a new shelf in the joke shop now, and Memory-Inducing Sweets are one of the best sellers.
Percy writes a poem when he's supposed to be writing a report for work. It is full of imagery and metaphors that remind them all of Him. Molly has it framed and hangs it in the kitchen. They all brush their hands against it when they pass for luck and mischief.
Bill and Charlie were working on their secret project for a week before they bring it out at dinner one night. The wreath of ever-lasting lilies sparkles with gold-dust and glitters with dragon scales. They drape it over the small standing stone that marks the grave, and every time they see it, they laugh to think what He would say about the gaudiness of the golden flowers.
Molly cooks all His favorite foods on April Fools' Day and they have a party for the birthday boy not in attendance. They all manage to make each other laugh and cry by telling stories that all seem to start, "Remember that time when…" Lee Jordan stops by, and he joins in when they all promise not to cry anymore, because that's not what He would want.
Arthur finds out all he can about Muggle "magic" tricks, and this causes the joke shop's Muggle section to have a boom in interest. He manages to get the store laughing again, and the brightly colored posters are back in the windows of Number Ninety-Three.
But even after all this, George still isn't over it. He's the one Hermione is most worried about. Molly gives him the most hugs. Arthur talks to him more than anyone else. Bill and Charlie try to help him keep new inventions coming in, and Percy is working with words in advertising. Harry, Ron and Hermione spend the most time with him, providing support and comfort. But Ginny is the only one he'll smile for. He hasn't laughed since June, and it hurts the others to see him in so much pain.
He wonders why it had to be him left by himself. He's confused without his other half. It feels like there's a hole in his heart. He finds himself still talking in the plural, as if He's still there and still agrees with him. He can't help turning around when someone calls his name and looking for someone else. He finds himself looking over his shoulder, and wondering where He's got off too. He wonders if he's just looking in all the wrong places, and that's why He can't be found.
George Apparates to the shop on the day of the reunion. The Order of the Phoenix and all those who fought a year ago are going to get together at the Leaky Cauldron for a memorial service and celebration. He doesn't want to hear those names again, so he goes to the shop instead. He makes his way downstairs to the basement where the shipping and receiving is, hoping to get some work done—inventory or shipping orders, or something of the like—but he stops at the entrance to the empty office. He wonders is there's anything left. He goes inside and turns on the light.
Everything is the same as it used to be. The desk is still a mess of papers and random objects. There's a trick wand that somebody brought over because it turned into half a rubber haddock, half a tin parrot. There are the mouldy remains of what had been a bit of Fever Fudge. There's a sign idea Mr. Bernstein drew up that they were reviewing for printing. There's the form for the order Mr. Blanck had placed almost a year and a half ago. And there was Mrs. Belmont's phone number, because she had seen their advertisements in a neighbor's strange newspaper and thought they were a very odd Muggle corporation and wanted conformation of her suspicions that they were wack-jobs. The corners of George's mouth turned up in a tiny smile, and he continued rifling through the contents of the desk that hadn't been used in a year.
Near the bottom of a stack of order forms, he finds a piece of blue paper that only has a few lines written on it. Curious, he pulls it free and reads it.
Hey George, Remember that we're always up to no good and our mischief is always managed. If we die, just remember to keep laughing. Just keep laughing. Love.
He hadn't signed it, but George knows who it was. He smiles slightly and pockets the slip of paper. He decides not to cry, because He wouldn't have wanted that. He would have laughed. So George decides to laugh. He runs upstairs to the staffroom and takes the magenta robes from the peg. He lays them across the squashy red chair neatly, and turns the coffee-pot on. Then he goes into the storeroom. He finds the crates he's looking for and takes them outside.
The customers inside Number Ninety-Three can see what's going to happen before it does. The other shops up and down Diagon Alley have no warning. There is a bang that sets off a few more explosions. Everyone in the street jumps, and most scream. A few stacks of books in Flourish and Blotts topple over; one of Mr. Olivander's shelves collapses, sending wands spinning everywhere; and Madam Malkin sticks a pin into Draco Malfoy, who she is fitting up with new dress robes. There is a whoop from outside and everyone turns toward the Gringotts end of the street. George is swooping around on his broomstick, setting off box after box of the fireworks entitled Weasleys' Wildfire Whizbangs. The people call up to him and he lands on top of Quality Quidditch Supplies to hear them.
"What's going on?" they shout.
"The Minister is having a party to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts," George answers, nodding toward the door to the Leaky Cauldron, which is filling with old Order members crowding over to see the spectacle. "You can't have a proper celebration without fireworks." He sets off another hidden crate, and takes off into the sky, laughing.
"Mischief managed," he says to the stars that are just coming out. "Here's to you, Fred." And he laughs again. For a moment, he thinks he can hear someone else laughing from just over the horizon and high above the stars.
A/N II: So, um, yeah. I cried while writing. I hope you enjoyed it. Oh, any reader who recognises the names of Mr. Bernstein, Mr. Blanck, and Mrs. Belmont, the random Weasley's Wizard Wheezes customers, recieves a cookie or two. Pawz and Swiftfoot and Curlz are not allowed to play for the prize. You three just get a hug if you review. Thank you, and Happy Reading! Shadow.