Yeah, I know I have a chapter of "Birthdays" to finish. Yeah, I know I don't need to start any more fics. But this idea is stuck in my head, and won't go away.

Lots of Fred-angst...

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Aftermath – Before the Funeral


He is trying to be strong for everyone else, but he knows that he is not fooling anyone. The fact he keeps disappearing into his shed is a bit of a giveaway.

He feels guilt as well as pain and overwhelming loss.

He feels guilty about Molly. How is it possible to love someone so much, and feel their pain as your own, yet be able to do absolutely nothing to stop it? He holds her when she cries in the night, when she breaks down during the day – as she does often. But he cannot help her. His pain and hers are the same. They have lost their son, and they feel lost themselves. But they can do nothing to help each other except hold on and hope that the waves of grief will pass and leave them exhausted and drained but somehow still whole.

He feels guilty that Bill is arranging Fred's funeral, and walking the tightrope between Molly and George's ideas about what Fred's headstone should say. That should be Arthur's job, but he cannot bring himself to do it. No father should have to arrange his son's funeral. (But no one should have to arrange their younger brother's either. Not when the younger brother was barely twenty.) He feels guilty that Bill feels that he has to be the strong one. If he was doing a better job of being strong himself, Bill would not feel like that.

He feels guilty about Charlie's anger. He doesn't know what to do about it, and he feels that he should.

He feels guilty about Percy's guilt… About Ron's pain, and Ginny's. They are his children, and he cannot help them. He can barely keep going himself – how can he help anyone else? But he is their father. He should be able to help them.

Most of all he feels guilty about George. George, who sits beside his brother's coffin; or on his own in the corner of the room, oblivious to all that is going on around him; or who hides away in his own room. He tries to talk to him – they all do – but no one seems able to get through to him. It is as if they have lost him as well as Fred. Arthur feels he should be holding onto him tighter, keeping him safe as he failed to keep Fred safe, but he does not know how to do it.

And he cannot look at George. Or not properly. He just can't. Not because he looks like Fred – he knows that is why Charlie can't look at him, but that is not the problem for him. He cannot look at George because he no longer looks like George. And Arthur has no idea at all how to bring him back.

So he feels guilt as well as pain. He tries to be strong, but knows he is failing. How can he keep his family together when he can barely keep himself together?

Arthur knows that the best he can do is not enough. Not for this.