A/N: Greetings all! Thanks so much for the reviews. :o)
Disclaimer: I do not, unfortunately, own the Harry Potter characters or story lines (other than the bits I've created, duh.) If I did...well, things would be different for the Weasley's, wouldn't they? And there would be a new addition to the Potions Master's household. lol
The ghost smiled.
This can't be real. Fred is gone.
George's befuddled brain struggled to reach past the alcohol and grasp reason.
"Is this another dream?" His voice wavered.
Another smile. "No."
"But you're gone. You've left me…"
Fred's ashen smile dropped into a grimace.
"Sorry about that. Bloody wall came out of nowhere, you know?" Fred drifted closer. "But I've come back now. George? I've come back." It was too hesitant to be called a statement. This manifestation of his brother was asking for approval.
Not a dream? It's his spirit.
The thought shocked George. …Am I dead then as well? He's come to take me with him…
George stepped toward his twin, true hope surging for the first time since that horrible day.
"You've come back…." A slow smile spread as he walked faster. "You've come back!"
Fred laughed in delighted relief. "I came back."
"You came back!" They laughed together then, rushing towards each other.
"You…" George slowed to a stop, realization dawning. He reached slowly, brushing his fingers through the cold mist that was his brother.
A ghost. Not a guide, not a spirit. A ghost.
"You wanker!" George lunged suddenly at his brother, passing through him and stumbling to the ground. Fred spun, tendrils of grey vapor swirling around him.
"George! What the hell?"
"You tosser!" He was on his feet again, fists flying smoothly through his twin, infusing his blood with ice. "How could you do this to me?" He dropped to his knees, tears rolling again, dripping off his freckled nose. Fred knelt, hovering just above the floor.
"I don't understand, George. I thought…well it's better than the alternative, right?" Fred was getting angry. "I mean I could have moved on you know. I did have a choice."
George buried his face in his arms and mumbled something incoherent.
"What was that?"
"I said…" He lifted his face without looking Fred in the eye. "I thought you came back for me."
"I did! I'm here aren't I? George, what have you been drinking?"
"Fire whiskey, and that's hardly the point. I thought were taking me with you."
Understanding and regret flickered across Fred's face.
"George, you know that's not how it works. Although if I had waited a bit longer maybe you'd have drowned and I would be guiding you on…" Fred raised a spectral brow at the whiskey bottle.
"Don' look like that, 's empty." George defended.
Fred scoffed. "And what? You found it that way? I don't need a sense of smell to tell you're a bit beyond squiffy. This isn't like you George."
"Where the hell d'you geddoff?!" George reached to grab his brother's shoulders, and failed with and angry sob. He steadied himself against the floor with one hand, wiping angrily at his tears with the other.
"Which part's not me, Fred? The part where I walked in and saw your dead body? Pretty sure I hadn't done that one before." Fred looked taken back by his anger, and somehow George felt rewarded. "How 'bout putting you in the ground today? That's not too much like me either. Wanna yell at me about that too?"
"I wasn't yelling…"
"Le's talk about you Fred. Le's talk about, oh I dunno…DYING?! Not very like you. We've come close, you an' I, but to actually go through with it...an' leave me here. This…" George ran a finger literally through Fred's hair and quoted in a sing-song voice, "This isn't like you Fred."
"Stop it!" Fred jerked away from the phantom touch. "You act like I chose to get killed! Really George, what do you think? One second I'm joking with Percy, Percy for Godric's sake, and the next I'm throwing myself intentionally under a crashing wall? I'm the one who's back as a bloody ghost, and trust me, there were more promising options to choose from!"
Fred froze at the pained look on his brother's face.
"More promising than us?" George whispered, his face threatening to crumple into tears again. You could practically hear Fred's brain backpedaling.
"Of course not! Not, not really better - just a bit more…flash, y'know? But I'm back anyway." Fred's voice grew soft. "And I'm not going anywhere. Now how 'bout you sleep this off, then we'll talk some more, yeah?"
"Yeah…" George hiccupped and giggled at himself. "…sleep 's good."
Fred rolled his eyes. "Right, off to sleep then."
George's only reaction was a slow nod of the head. With a sigh, Fred leaned forward and held one long, hazy finger to the tip of his brother's freckled nose, smiling as George went cross-eyed. Twitching against the cold, George leaned back, quickly followed by Fred's finger, all the way to the floor. Fred watched as his brother sighed, rubbed his eyes, and relaxed. There were dark circles under his eyes, and Fred could see the sharp rise of his ribs as he breathed.
"It's just going to take a bit of getting used to, isn't it?" Fred whispered, lying down to hover next to his already sleeping twin. "Things'll get easier George. You'll see."
"Mmm…Yuthodizbad…" George mumbled, surprising Fred.
"I said…you thought I was bad…" George rolled onto his side, eyes still closed contentedly. "Wait'll you hafta tell mum…"
For a ghost, Fred paled considerably.