Dedicated to anyone who cried at Fred's death, or came close. I came close, but it was past midnight and I'd been reading almost non-stop for twelve hours. How many people actually cried?
Remember To Laugh Again
Summary: Part of my Again series. Can be read independently though. Fred disliked being serious. It just wasn't who he was. But something about being dead made it hard to laugh and joke.
Fred Weasley had always disliked being serious. It wasn't who he was, never had been. He and George had found it easy to laugh, to joke, and make people laugh. Why spend time being serious and miserable, when there was so much fun to be had out of life?
Sure, sometimes you had to work really hard to get the fun out of life's greedy jaws, but Fred and George were always skilled at doing so.
Sometimes, though, the situation you were in called for seriousness, even misery. Sometimes, you could ignore that call and laugh and joke anyway.
Not this time. Jokes eluded him. Laughter had abandoned him.
He was in the kitchen at The Burrow. How many times had he stood here, or sat at that table, or pulled cutlery or plates from the drawers and cupboards?
Never again, though. He knew he'd never do it again.
How could he be dead?
For he was sure he was. He still remembered his last moments, the fight, the laughter. For even in a situation like that, when he was filled with fear that his family, his friends, would die, he'd found the laughter.
He'd hadn't ever, not really, considered that he might die. He'd been too worried about everyone else to consider that he might not make it through this. He was only twenty, too young to die, yet too old to be murdered.
Or so he'd assumed, in the way the young always do. Invulnerable. Immortal. It'll never happen to me. Anyone else, maybe. But never me.
He wasn't sure what to do now. Surly he wasn't supposed to hang around in this kitchen forever?
And then a sudden thought turned his blood cold.
Was he supposed to be waiting for someone else? His family? Was he -
He jumped, spun round, his hand reaching for the wand he no longer had, as the kitchen door creaked slowly open. And then a man stepped through it, a man who was familiar, and yet so much younger than he'd remembered, a man he hadn't seen in years.
"Sirius." Fred said, his eyes wide with surprise. Sirius smiled slightly, moved forward, and a second man stepped through the gap. At first glance, while his mind was still fuzzy from surprise, he thought it was Harry. Then he saw the eyes, and took in the other subtle differences, and understood, for the first time completely understood, what everyone meant when they said Harry looked just like his father.
"Hi." James Potter stuck out his hand. "I'm James."
"Harry's dad." Fred nodded, shaking his hand.
"Yep." James said, nodding proudly.
"Why are you two here?" Fred asked, when James released his hand.
"Fred...do you understand that you're...dead?" Sirius asked, obviously trying to soften the blow.
Did he understand? Of course he did. His heart didn't beat, and his lungs didn't breathe, and he didn't know if he could even bleed anymore. Of course he understood.
"Yes." He said simply.
"Sorry, mate." James said sympathetically. Fred just nodded, having no reply to this.
"What now?" He asked quietly.
"Well...now you have to go on." Sirius told him. "When you're ready, of course. We're here to...well, make it easier, I suppose."
"Count yourself lucky. No one came to meet Lily and me, we had to figure it all out on our own." James told him lightly, then glanced over his shoulder. "So...ready?"
"James." Sirius murmured, rolling his eyes. "You know you can't rush him."
"Right. Sure. Yeah." James muttered. "Sorry, mate. It's just...well, Harry's still in the fight, and we're watching and...I just wanted to get back and make sure he's OK."
"Watching? Like...there? Like invisible or something?"
"No." James smiled. "You'll see."
"So the fight's still...still happening." He said, as the truth finally sank in properly. He was dead. And he filled with fear, because his family and his friends were still down their fighting, and worry, because how would they react when they found out he was gone? How would his mother cope? And an overwhelming sense of loss flooded him, too.
Because he'd lost his life.
He didn't want to be dead.
"Don't worry. Your family..." James said softly. "You're the only one to die. Out of your family, I mean. There's a lot of people who're...dying, tonight."
"Who?" Fred asked, almost auto-matically. Maybe he didn't completly believe his family would all survive.
"Remus, for one." Sirius told him. "Tonks, for another."
"Oh. Well, that's not good." Fred murmured, surprised. Tonks and Remus just didn't seem the type to die...as the thought finished, he wanted to roll his eyes at himself. Everyone was the type to die. Everyone died.
"No. Not really. We're meeting them, too. In a little while."
"What about Harry?" He asked, wondering if he'd have died for nothing...if Voldemort was going to win.
"We don't know. That isn't...decided." James said, almost bitterly. "It's not set in stone. You were destined to die tonight, as were the others. But Harry and Voldemort...it could go either way."
Fred saw, heard, the worry, and knew he should just move on, let them all get back to watching the battle - he wanted to watch it too, actually - but he wasn't quite ready to let go, not yet.
"Why you two?" He asked, partly because he was curious, partly because he wanted to stall.
"What?" Sirius frowned a little, and Fred decided his question wasn't clear.
"Why is it you two that are meeting me?"
"Oh. Well." Sirius grinned a little. "I'd've thought Harry or Ron would've mentioned it, but they never did. I suppose it never occurred to them."
"The Marauder's Map." James explained. "We wrote it."
"You?" Fred didn't even bother to hide his surprise.
"Yup." James smirked. "Prongs. Nice to meet you."
"Padfoot." Sirius said, shrugging one shoulder.
"And Remus was Moony, and...Peter..." James bit the word off, sounding disgusted. "Was Wormtail."
"Really?" Fred asked, and raised his eyebrows. "Well...I never guessed." And that, actually, made him feel a little stupid. He'd heard people mention Wormtail, hadn't he? But he and George had dismissed idea that it could be the Wormtail from the map.
"Yup." Sirius nodded.
"I heard you telling Harry how much you owe us." James told him. "You're welcome."
"Well...yeah. I mean, me and George, we learned loads from that thing." He tried to suppress another wave of loss - he was doing this alone, without George. He and George always did everything together...they'd be born together...but he'd died alone.
"And I'm glad you passed it on to Harry." James continued. "Filch took it off us near the end of our last year, see, but I was always planning to tell Harry about it, and I hoped he'd steal it."
"Took us ages to make, too." Sirius muttered.
Fred nodded, a little bemused. Sirius and Remus and Harry's dad. Who'd've guessed?
After a brief pause, where Fred looked around the kitchen a little sadly, James spoke quietly.
"Are you ready?"
"Yes." Fred said, without even thinking about it. "I'm ready."
"Then let's go." Sirius murmured, and turned, strode back out of the kitchen door.
"After you." James said, stepped sideways so Fred could access it better.
"The kitchen door?" Fred raised his eyebrows, smirked a little. "This is my big crossover? I walk through my kitchen door? Do you know how many times I've walked through that thing before?"
"What did you expect? A big golden gate, harps playing, and doves soaring above you?" James asked, smirking too.
"I expected more than my kitchen door." Fred grinned. It felt good to grin, to be amused.
"Well, I'm sure you'll get over your disappointment." James said consolingly. "Now, go on, before Sirius comes back for us."
With a loud, exaggerated sigh, Fred stepped forward, through the door, and knew that he wouldn't have to be serious or miserable.
He could find the laughter again.