Well I had to reunite them, didn't I? Title sucks, I know.
Double The Laughter Again
Summary: George learned to adjust. What else could he do? He'd had a twin for twenty years, but he'd learned to live without him. But now, it's his time, and guess who's there to help him cross over? Part of my Again series.
George Weasley had lived a long, relatively happy life. He'd learned to adjust, to adapt, because there was nothing else for him to do.
Eventually, not having a twin didn't seem so weird any more. Eventually, not having a twin seemed normal.
And, of course, that made him sting with guilt.
Because he never forgot Fred. Maybe a part of him never got over Fred's death. Maybe a little piece of him was gone, had died with his twin.
It hadn't been easy. Running the store, living in the flat, getting married and having kids of his own, all without Fred. The first twenty years of his life had been spent with a twin, with a connection, someone who shared all his thoughts and ambitions.
The next twenty were spent missing him, regretting his death, adjusting to him not being there.
And after that, being singular, being just George, not Fred-and-George, became somewhat normal, became somewhat easier. Even if he did sometimes feel that something was missing, or that he'd forgotten something.
Strangely, he'd never wished himself dead. Even in his darkest moments he'd never considered taking his own life. It just wasn't him, wasn't in his make-up, his personality. Death wasn't to be chosen, or rushed, or forced. Death was to be put off for as long as it could be, fought every bloody inch of the way until you'd gotten all you could out of life.
That's how he and Fred had always seen it.
Now, however, death had chosen him. It wasn't rushed, or forced. George had lived long, lived happy, and his death wasn't hard to accept. And now, standing in the kitchen of his childhood home - the home his parents still lived in - George wasn't afraid, or upset, or mad. George was ready.
Death wouldn't have come for him if he hadn't been. Death had taken his twin early. Death owed him.
George surveyed the kitchen idly, wondering vaguely why he was here. A place to adjust to the idea of no longer living? A place to be judged, before moving on?
He didn't really care. What interested him the most was his appearance. He looked exactly as he had at twenty years old. It was a little strange, actually, to find yourself so young, when you'd long ago accepted that you were growing old, and balding, and wrinkly.
But strange in a good way.
"Well, it's about time." The voice was familiar, and caused George to grin widely as he turned to the sound of it.
"I could say the same." He told his long-ago-lost twin. "I've been wondering when you'd turn up."
"What made you so sure I would?" Fred asked, his own grin a perfect copy of George's.
"I didn't think they'd expect to figure it out alone. And I knew you'd love to be the one to tell me I'd died."
"So you already noticed, then?" Fred said, with mock-disappointment.
"Well, opening my eyes to find myself slumped naked on a kitchen chair was a big clue." George pointed out. It was so easy, even after all this time, to slip back into the old rhythm.
"Did you notice your ear's back?" Fred asked, leaning casually against the worktop. With a little surprise, George reached up and touched what had previously been a blank space on the side of his head. After so long without it, it was rather strange to have an ear there.
"Well. Isn't that nice."
"James says they do stuff like that - fix stuff - so you won't be so upset about dying. Like, sorry you're not alive anymore, here's the ear you lost so long ago you stopped missing it."
"I see the logic." George nodded. After a brief pause, he blinked. "James?"
"Hmm? Oh. Harry's dad. Him and Sirius and Remus...always a laugh when you get them together."
"Harry's dad, Sirius and Remus?" George repeated, his eyebrows raised.
"Yup. They wrote the Marauder's Map, you know."
"Yeah, Harry mentioned it a little while ago. Well, he told his kids, and James - Harry's son - told me. Harry didn't realise he never told us."
"Bit of shock, isn't it?"
"I know. To think we'd wondered about Wormtail, too. So much for a ridiculous idea."
"I know. And hey, what's with the store? Or, should I say, stores. What, I die and you decide to get rich?"
"Well, it was a painful decision to make, but I decided I'd rather not be poor and homeless because my brother went and got himself killed."
"How very selfish of you." Fred replied.
"I know. How could I?" George agreed.
"At least my name's still on most of the merchandise."
"And Ron's. Who've thought out little brother could come up with some pretty good ideas?"
"I have to admit, it was a surprise. I suppose we should've given him more credit."
"Probably." George agreed.
"I don't know. Shops all over the world, huh? And mum thought it was a stupid idea."
"Not anymore. Used to tell anyone who'd listen all about how we were inventing before we'd even taken our O.W.Ls - never mentioned how many O.W.Ls we actually got - and how many stores we got, and how much money we're making, and how well known we are..."
"That's all she goes on about now." Fred shrugged.
"Bet she still doesn't remember telling us a joke shop was a waste of time." George commented.
"Conveniently, no." Fred nodded.
"Right." George said after a brief pause. "So, why are we standing around here?"
"We've got to wait until you're ready to go on."
"You'll see." Fred said absently, glancing around. "You know, I was in our kitchen, too. Bit of a let down really." He waved a hand at the kitchen door. "That, my friend, is our big welcome. Our entrance. The kitchen door."
"I'll admit I expected more than that." George said, looking at the kitchen door with a decidedly unimpressed expression.
"Join the club." Fred murmured. "So, are you ready?"
"Are you kidding? I've been ready since I got here. Was just waiting for you to shut up."
"Well then, let's go." Fred said, and waved his brother ahead of him. George shrugged, and moved towards the door.
"Oh, and George?" Fred said, in a would-be innocent voice just before George stepped through the door. "I loved that beard you tried to grow..."
Their laughter rang around the room as they left it. Maybe it never died.