At the sound of Voldemort's voice, the Death Eater George Weasley had been fighting disappeared. His bangs were soaked with sweat and his throat was dry and scratchy. He was exhausted and more than anything he wanted to lie down and catch his breath. But they'd been given only one hour and people lay on the floor among the dead bodies, moaning in agony.
"Mind giving me a hand?"
George turned, startled, a seventh year was supporting one of her fellow classmates who was barely conscious; he was covered in deep gashes. George slung one of his arms over one shoulder and the boy groaned in pain.
"It's gonna be alright mate." George assured him, "In fact, I'd call you one of the lucky ones! All you've gotta do now is lie in a hospital bed in complete agony while the rest of us spend the next hour carrying courageous blokes like yourself up to hospital wing and then fight more Death Eaters!"
The girl helping smiled, "I don't think now's the best time to be making jokes."
"There's never a bad to be making jokes! If they don't brighten the mood, they piss off your little sister, and that's always fun to watch."
She let out a small laugh, "I'm Lucy"
They smiled and continued hauling the boy across the floor. Suddenly, George saw a head of flaming red Weasley hair round the corner, he stopped, turned his head, saw George and began running straight for him.
The figure had hair as bright as Georges. He ran towards them like there was no tomorrow. Lucy wondered if they should get out of his way. But right when he was about to collide with them, he stopped. He looked a lot like George, but a few years older. His face was red, puffy, and wet with tears. Rage, grief, confusion, and overall shock filled his face. He opened his mouth, but no sound emerged. He just stared at George, eyes wide.
"What cat's got your tongue, Percy?" George asked.
A squeaky sound came from his mouth followed by a wave of fractured sentences. "I don't know what happened…couldn't believe…joking…got distracted…flash…gone."
"What are you talking about, Perce?" George asked, concern in his voice.
Percy took in a deep breathe before shakily saying, "Fred…"
The color from George's face drained. Horror flashed in his eyes. Lucy thought she could see his heart breaking in his eyes. George opened his mouth; no sound emerged for a few moments. Time stopped, Lucy dared not breathe, she waited for him to say something, anything. When he did, it was a pile of questions, "What happened? He's ok? Where is he?"
Percy just stood there, gestured George to follow him, and began running. George shot after him like a bullet. Leaving Lucy to carry her classmate across the hall by herself. She didn't get very far before she heard a deafening scream.
"NO WAY! NO WAY!"
Harry stood at a distance away from the Weasleys. He heard George scream for his brother to snap out of it, while clinging to his body. He saw Ginny supporting Ron with her shaking body. He saw Mr. and Mrs. Weasley lying beside the body of their son, sobbing. He felt their pain. A tear ran down his cheek before he continued walking towards Dumbledore's office.
George wrapped his arms around his twin's body. "NO WAY! NO WAY!" George screamed. Fred gone. It couldn't be. Fred was his business partner, his best friend, his brother. They were Fred and George. They were never apart. How was he supposed to live without him?
Eventually, the rest of the family left Fred's body to go and help. George hardly noticed. In the background he heard people moaning in agony, others were crying, every now and then he would hear panicked voices asking about Harry. All he could think about was his brother. He didn't know how long he'd been there when Percy desperately pulled him to his feet, "Harry's disappeared and they're gonna be back in five minutes! You've got to pull yourself together and fight, now!"
George didn't respond.
"What would Fred want!?" Percy demanded.
George knew Fred would've wanted him to keep fighting. Fred had died helping to defeat Voldemort. Fred would not die in vain.
He picked up Fred's lifeless body and carried it to a room filled with the bodies of those who had died fighting for the freedom of the wizarding world. For a moment, just a moment, George's grief was overshadowed with a sense of pride for his brother. He had died a hero.
Minutes later, George stood among the others, wands at the ready. Waiting. Waiting for the Death Eaters to return. Waiting for chaos to once again take place. But it never came. Instead, when the castle door's opened, a large figure emergered, no doubt it was Hagrid. Beside him was Voldemort, Death Eaters followed behind them. George's eyes dropped to Hagrid's arms, he caught a glimpse of raven black hair. It hit George like a rock. Harry was dead. In that moment, all hope left George. Everything went into a blur after that. Voldemort's voice rang through the hall, followed by cries of anger, grief, shock, and overall helplessness. He heard Ron, Hermione, and Ginny drown everyone out with their cries for Harry. A circle formed around Voldemort and the body. In his confusion, he just stood and stared, he wanted to fight back, but it was like he was in a dream, he had no control over what he did. His tongue was in a knot, his feet were lead bricks, his eyes and ears only took in half of what was going on. He saw the flaming red hair of his sister fly across the room and onto Harry's lifeless body, her hair mixed in with flames that emerged atop someone's head. Voldemort's voiced droned on. George heard nothing of it. He heard someone shout something about the body disappearing. The next thing he knew, chaos had once again ensued. With a limited sense of his surroundings, George shot every hex he knew at every dark figure he saw. He let his rage overtake him. He fought with a passion he didn't know he had in him. Every breathe, every drop of sweat, every hex, it was all for Fred. Out of nowhere, a cheer erupted in the crowd and any Death Eater still breathing disappeared. It took a moment for George to realize what had happened. He let a small laugh escape him. It was over.
Ron walked down the tower staircase close behind Harry. He searched the room and found his family sitting at a table. Everyone leaning on each other. There was only one person he didn't see. He slipped in beside Ginny, who was resting her head on her mother's shoulder.
"Where's George?" he whispered.
"He went to see the body" she replied.
Ron and Hermione sat at the table holding each other and crying. It seemed like hours before he heard his mother clear her throat and, in a shaky voice, tell Ginny to get her brother.
The cheers of people celebrating rang in his ears. George took no notice. He just stood there. Staring at Fred's body. His eyes were closed and his mouth remained a thin line, no longer bearing the smile it usually did. George's head swarmed with thoughts. He didn't know what he was going to do now. He and Fred had only ever worked together. Neither of them had ever completed a project without the other's help. He didn't know how long he'd been standing there when his sister's hand wrapped around his wrist and they apparated to the Burrow.
The funeral was two days later. Hogwarts repair hadn't even started yet. This was more important. It was beautiful. Fred's body lay among hundreds of others beside the Hogwarts lake. Each grave was marked with a white marble gravestone. In front of the graves stood a great statue of a phoenix with its wings outstretched. Etched on the square base were the names of everyone who had died in the battle. Thousands sat in front of the stage listening to Minister Shacklebolt give his speech, followed by Professor McGonagall. Both speeches were met and ended with enthusiastic applause, but when Harry marched on to the stage, the crowd's reaction was deafening. George quickly noticed that Harry wasn't gifted with public speeches, but his was definitely the best. He provided no details about his doings the past year except that he couldn't have done it without Ron and Hermione, he told of how proud he was of everyone's bravery, and that if it weren't for the help of everyone at the battle, Voldemort would still be at large. Not one person flinched when Harry stated the dark wizard's name.
The ceremony followed with a lovely reception. Friends and family sat at tables, offering each other condolences. Through all the tears, people began gathering towards one table in particular. A table occupied mostly by red heads. Through the tears, laughter could be heard at stories of pranks pulled by one of the deceased. Eventually, other happy stories were told of other deceased people. A great amount of pain was ceased that day for all. Well, almost. Through the laughter, George sat, staring blankly into space, not knowing what to feel.
George didn't know how much time had gone by since Fred's death. For him, there was no day or night, no hours or minutes, no yesterdays or tomorrows, there was just moment after moment, each one the same. The Burrow was quiet. The whole family was there, Bill, Charlie, Percy, Ginny Ron, Mum, and Dad. At first none of them left the house. They sat and talked about Fred, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying. Other than that, nothing. You ate when you were hungry, you slept when you were tired, you washed clothes when there was nothing to wear. Slowly the routine altered slightly. They started eating together, friends visited them, and they visited friends. Still, to George, without Fred, life was a blur. He found himself falling into an endless pit of despair. Everything around him reminded him of Fred, sleep was no escape, his dreams haunted him with Fred's dead eyes. The dead eyes that no matter how funny a joke you cracked, they wouldn't laugh back. He often left the Burrow and walked wherever his feet would take him. One crisp morning he found himself sitting at a bus stop, watching people pass him. He sat a state somewhere between awake and asleep. Then, out of nowhere, he noticed something. It wasn't the sudden cool breeze or the flash of light that came out of nowhere, it was the voice that followed.
"Sorry if that startled you, but I couldn't let that moment slip," the voice was childlike and loud, but George never thought he had heard a more beautiful sound in his life. He looked up to find a young woman. She looked to be about his age, Her hair and eyes were dark brown, her skin fair and flawless. She looked like she could be a goddess, but her baggy jeans and dark paint covered sweatshirt through of the effect. He found himself suddenly alert, something he hadn't felt since Fred's death. And the sudden lurch back into the real world startled him, he found himself lost for words. The young woman saw this and attempted to yet again explain her actions. "My name's Peach. I'm an artist. I take pictures of whatever inspires me and go home and paint them. You inspired me."
George hadn't spoken in months. Not to anyone, no matter what they said, he had no desire for conversation. But she gave him desire. Taking notice of the camera dangling from her neck, he pieced together the events that had just taken place and responded. "I thought photographers didn't talk to their subjects," he realized his voice didn't have the spark it used to, or the confidence.
She smiled. Her smile was warm and full, "I told you, I'm an artist. I find I can put more feeling into my paintings if I know who I'm painting."
"So you think by chit chatting with me for a few minutes will help you know me?" George hadn't wanted to sound cross, but he could hear a hint of anger in his voice.
Peach seemed a little startled at first, fear flashed in her eyes, but they were quickly replaced with smugness, "Good point," she said, "Why don't we go on a walk. I can tell I'm going to like you. And I'm sure you'll find I'm very loveable."
George wanted to be alone. He had wanted to be alone ever since Fred was gone. He had been alone ever since Fred was gone. But something inside him screamed to go with Peach, to walk with her, to learn about her. He liked talking with her. She stood up. Without thinking, he stood up with her. She smiled at him and he asked, "Where do you want to go?"
Her smile grew wider, "Wherever our feet take us.