In George's Eyes
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.
10/04/11 - Well, this is it: the epilogue. But wait ... it's not the real epilogue! What am I on about? Well ... you'll just have to read to the end to see, won't you? A while earlier I ran a poll on my profile for people's preferred ending, and I was pleasantly surprised that the winner was exactly what I wanted to write, too. :D So, without further ado on my part...
Epilogue – Now
"You were holding to me
Like a someone broken
And I couldn't tell you but I'm telling you now…
We would stand in the wind
We were free like water
Under the warmth of the sun
Now it's cold and we're scared
And we've both been shaken
Look at us
Man, this doesn't need to be the end."
-Ever the Same, Rob Thomas
"Fred. Fred, wake up."
Blearily Fred opened his eyes; someone was whispering urgently, prodding his shoulder. "'s too early," he slurred, burrowing back into his pillow. The figure overhead, undeterred, only poked his shoulder harder.
"Ow – fine, I'm up," Fred grumped, lifting himself up on his elbows and blinking in the pale dawn light accentuating the darkened dormitory. George stood over his bed, his face half-aglow; there was something of a different light gleaming in his eyes. Fred only yawned, "You realize it's Monday morning?"
George tilted his head, his frown almost a reprimand. "I have to show you something," was his only reply. He thrust a bundle of clothing at his twin and waited imploringly until Fred had staggered to his feet, making an effort to pull on his robes. Then, now semi-awake, yawning grandly and his robes rumbled, Fred trooped in George's footsteps from the sluggish dormitory.
Downstairs, an eerie silence captivated the Gryffindor common room; embers flickered and glowed in the grate, the orange light dancing across the chamber. Any evidence of the numerous and lengthy Easter Break parties had been obliterated by the house elves' meticulous handiwork, leaving the room readied for the last stretch of term until summer.
"So, what's this you have to show me?" Fred asked. George didn't answer him, crossing the familiar path to the portrait hole. Out the passage, tiptoeing past the Fat Lady's dozing portrait, and down the deserted corridors – Fred, his mind now wide awake and racing wonderingly, maintained a sharp eye on his brother's back. George's course along the hallways was sure, however, and Fred, looking around in the silence, couldn't help but reminisce at how but a few days ago their fireworks had lit up these halls, sparking in dazzling sound and fury every few meters. If only they hadn't used their whole stock earlier, Fred mused with faint regret. What a beautiful send-off they would have made ...
With that thought Fred recalled this would be maybe the last time he could call the old castle home; no, he and George had been prepared to leave for weeks now, and they had given Harry their word. One last morning indulging in the memories was all they could hope to hold on to.
Before long, they had descended the marble staircase into the Entrance Hall. Here Fred lingered a moment, longingly looking toward the nearly deserted Great Hall; his stomach rumbled. Halfway across the Hall already, George faltered and glanced over his shoulder; the silent question passed between them and Fred, ceding, jogged to catch up.
George shoved the main doors open and the two trooped out into the dazzling sunlight; Fred squinted, raising a hand to his brow, whereas George turned his head instinctively toward the light, drinking it in as hungrily as a sunflower. Casting along the rich green lawns, Fred registered that winter was finally nothing more than a dark memory, reminiscent in the last resilient patches of slush and dampness that seeped into their shoes as they sloshed across the grass, George in the lead again. They passed by the glassy surface of the sapphire lake, but George made no sign to have registered it; his pace was steady toward the line of dark trees on the horizon. Nestled alongside the Forbidden Forest, a plume of smoke curled upward from Hagrid's hut; but George stopped short before they reached the cabin, instead purposefully stepping between the trees.
Something like fear rose up in Fred's consciousness, but he overruled it in faith of George's judgment. Ahead of him, his twin's pace had slowed, arms outstretched as he manoeuvred, brushing aside spindly branches. Fred, trailing him, cleared his throat.
"In a minute." George waved him off and resumed his course, a slight furrow to his brow.
Then, without warning, he stopped short; Fred, glancing around, registered no difference in the thick growth around them or the crackle of pine needles beneath his feet. Unnerved, he edged a bit closer to his brother as George reached within his robes, withdrawing a piece of toast. He whistled softly.
For a moment, nothing happened; then with a suddenness that made the hairs on his neck stand on end Fred heard the snapping of twigs in front of them. He squinted into the darkness, one hand held readied to grab his wand if the interloper made to attack; the other clenched tightly to George's arm.
"There you are," George said amiably. "Kept you waiting, didn't I? You can blame this right lump who wouldn't get out of bed."
"Hey..." Fred protested, his complaint gone ignored by George, who shrugged off his hand and stepped forward, offering out the treat. Fred, hesitating a moment, trailed after him. Grinning now, George raised his other hand as though stroking an invisible beast.
"A Thestral, right?" Fred hardly dared breathe.
George nodded slightly, shifting sideways. "Teyla, this is Fred. Fred ... Teyla. Be patient with him," he continued to the invisible creature, "he's a bit slow sometimes."
Fred rolled his eyes.
"C'mon," George said. "She won't bite." He held out his hand and Fred, uncertainly, took it; he allowed George to guide his hand forward through air until, very suddenly, he hit upon leathery flesh.
George heard Fred's sharp intake of breath, for he grinned wryly. "See? Not as crazy as I look, am I?" His grip on Fred's wrist, he trailed his twin's hand downward, along what must have been the Thestral's neck. Teyla's muscles shivered with excitement beneath his fingertips.
"Can you see her?" George asked.
Fred snorted, about to tell him that was a stupid question – but George cut him off.
"Not with your eyes, stupid. Close your eyes," he added as an afterthought. "See her with your hands. Slowly, now, or you'll startle her."
Fred nodded at his instructions, closing his eyes. Without the foolery of his vision, then, the leathery feel of the Thestral in front of him was vividly real; he could feel the warmth radiating off her skin, the faintest shiver of her flank with every breath. He shifted along her neck, tracing the bony contours of her elongated head, her warm nostrils, her flicking ears. Fred's heart was pounding and he knew his gestures were fumbling and awkward, yet Teyla was perfectly docile with George beside him stroking her forehead. And then with a sudden rush of feeling Fred understood: this was George's world that he laid out so plainly for him now, the uncertainty and tentative coming to terms with what could never be seen.
Fred, reopening his eyes, glanced over at his twin. There was the slightest focused crease to his brow, but George was also smiling, absently rubbing between Teyla's ears. Beneath Fred's touch the Thestral shook her head faintly, snorting. Smiling as well, Fred turned away.
"You're right, Forge ... she is beautiful..."
George smirked at him, "Of course I am." He turned back to Teyla and his gaze became distant. "Fred," he said suddenly. "We should ride."
Fred glanced sharply at him. "What?"
But a familiar determined sort of mischief had come into George's eyes as he shifted over, trailing his hand along Teyla's neck until he was standing at her bony withers. Then, both hands pressed to her back, he hefted himself upward. Fred instinctively moved to stand behind him, but George – after a bit of fumbling – now of his own accord perched tall atop Teyla's back, his knees squeezed in front of her wing joints, his hands wrapped around the complacent Thestral's neck.
George peered down at him. "C'mon, Fred. It'll be fun."
Fred hesitated; George, still grinning, proffered his hand. Warily Fred regarded him on his invisible mount, a small part of his mind warning him that this had to be ridiculously dangerous. And yet ...
Ceding, he hoisted himself up onto the Thestral's back behind his brother. Leathery wings caught under his legs and beneath him poked what felt like every bone of Teyla's spine. Uneasily Fred eyed the ground shifting beneath him, churned with the hoof marks of their invisible ride. This was all a bit too surreal even for him, and swallowing hard he implored his brother, "You're sure this is safe?"
Without turning around, George barked a laugh. "Never thought I'd hear those words from you. But don't worry ... I've done this before."
Fred eyed the back of his head incredulously. "When -?"
At that moment Teyla set off at an ambling walk and what had previously been a somewhat stable perch sloped and rocked with her movement. Fred barely stifled a surprised cry and leaned forward to keep his balance, catching his arms around his twin. Branches whipped by on either side as Teyla accelerated, plunging deeper into the thick forest; Fred's eyes were streaming and he squinted, his face half-pressed against his twin's shoulder. With a mind of her own, Teyla abandoned the clear-cut trails and plunged deep into the knotted undergrowth, the twins bouncing along on her back with the crash of her echoing hoof-beats filling their ears.
Through the trees up ahead, Fred apperceived a log leaned across the brush; yet Teyla charged directly onward in oblivion. They wouldn't be able to stop in time – Fred's grip tightened on George and he tensed, about to shout some warning.
The obstacle rushed toward them in his vision; but a split-second before they collided head-on with the log, Teyla's front hooves left the ground. Fred's breath seized in his chest as for a suspended moment the three of them were airborne: then with a crackle of leaves Teyla's hooves beat the ground once more as she charged onward.
" – flying!" George shouted, his voice lost in the rush of wind. But Fred grinned, the same wild excitement making his heart pound. It wasn't even comparable to riding a broomstick – but George's companion wasn't half bad, once Fred got past the bruises on his tailbone.
Teyla whinnied loudly as if in echo to their sentiments; and surrendering to the wild, free joy of their flight they soared together through the trees, an echo of their laughter carrying on the wind.
"So!" Professor Umbridge said with a sniff of triumph, drawing herself up on the top step of the marble staircase. Down below, students shuffled to get out of the way, forming a solemn ring around the Entrance Hall. "You found it amusing, did you, to turn an upstairs corridor into a swamp?"
"Pretty amusing, yeah," Fred concurred lightly, tilting his head up at her without the slightest trace of fear. At his side George stared out over the crowd, similarly impassive.
There was a scuffle of motion and the Inquisitorial Squad in their silver badges had clustered below Umbridge, their faces shining with eagerness and their wands raised. At their head, Draco Malfoy sneered; Fred raised an eyebrow slightly at him and then smirked.
A wheezing figure appeared next to Umbridge; Filch held out a roll of parchment, his red face nevertheless gleaming with an ugly sort of joy. "I got the form, Headmistress! I've got the form and the whips waiting ... oh, let me do it now..."
Umbridge smiled coldly, taking the parchment without looking at him. "You two," she savoured her words, "are about to learn what happens to troublemakers in my school."
Fred considered her words briefly. "You know what, George," he said conversationally, turning to his twin, "I don't think we are. I think we've outgrown a full-time education, don't you?"
George nodded pensively. "Yeah, I've been feeling that way myself."
"Time to test our talents in the real world, d'you reckon?" Fred pressed.
They might have decided the outcome weeks ago; but when George turned to him and grinned, Fred thought for an instant he recognized the utter faith in his eyes. "I think, Fred, we shall."
Professor Umbridge's face had been steadily turning an interesting shade of magenta as they amiably debated in front of her; now she took a step forward, one chubby finger raised menacingly. "Stop them -!"
The Inquisitorial Squad clumsily started forward, but at the same time Fred and George raised their wands and chorused, "Accio brooms!"
"You've nowhere to run," snarled Montague, withdrawing his wand. The Slytherins fanned out around them, the crowd backing away uneasily from the brewing confrontation. Still grinning, Fred kept one ear out for the sound of the approaching brooms as he stepped forward, George moving to guard his back.
"Who said –"
"– we were running?"
Draco Malfoy's sneer broadened as the Slytherins closed in; Fred could tell by their gleaming expressions that they thought they'd won already, all of them ganged up on the blind one and his brother.
Well, unfortunately for them, Fred had one last ace up his sleeve.
"Expecto Patronum!" they bellowed as one; at once a silvery mist fell over the opposing sides and Fred grinned maliciously to see the eagle diving with claws raked forward straight at Malfoy's face. The Slytherins panicked; under the Patronuses' shroud they could barely tell friend from foe and one spell shot off randomly, the red light ricocheting off the floor and striking a nearby suit of armour with a clamour. Laughing, Fred urged his Patronus on into the fray, unconsciously aware that at his back George was doing the same.
A fist grabbed his sleeve; Fred understood the signal and, wheeling about, caught sight of two Cleansweeps breaking through the mist and jerking to a halt in front of them with a faint jingle. He grabbed the first broom and tossed it to George; then catching the other he swung one leg over it and kicked off, instantly shooting ten feet above the crowd, accompanied by the faint jingle of bells attached to the handle.
He looked across the chamber: at George hovering beside him, panting slightly from the fray, the students milling in confusion down below. Umbridge stood out like a sore thumb in garish pink, shouting to her struggling minions; but Fred knew they had won, there was nothing else that hag could do to them. He grinned down at the student population, unable to resist one last jab.
"Anyone who fancies buying a Portable Swamp, as demonstrated upstairs, need only come along to number ninety-three, Diagon alley - Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, our new premises!"
"Special discounts to Hogwarts students who swear they're going to use our products to get rid of this old bat," George added, twisting his head in Umbridge's direction.
Satisfied that they had done their part for Hogwarts, Fred shot one last look around the grand Hall and grinned at Peeves the Poltergeist floating at their level. "Give her hell from us, Peeves!" he shouted before he wheeled about and flew through the open doors, George on his heels.
The subsequent roaring cheer followed them down the sweeping green lawns and out and over the gate tipped with winged boars; the twins didn't slow down and didn't look back as Hogwarts faded into a dark blot on the horizon behind them. For a long while they didn't have any destination in mind, flying through the low-lying clouds and enjoying the pure rush of adrenaline of defying the world. George kept pace with his brother evenly, guided by the faint jingling of Fred's broom, smiling as he tilted his head into the breeze.
"Well..." Fred said at last, breaking the silence. George, stirred from his reverie, grinned sideways at him.
"Well. It all is well, isn't it?"
And Fred, grinning in agreement, reached for George's sleeve as he now angled their broomsticks toward Diagon Alley, London and the new future on the horizon.
...And all was well.
Yes, I couldn't resist slipping that in. And so there you have it: an alternate 'ending' for the twins instead of - what seemed to me, anyway - a cruel writing-off in the last book. Perhaps there was much turmoil and psychological torture along the way, but I still consider this story to be about healing and hope: that they will continue to survive with what life's given them and live it to the absolute fullest.
Old fans will notice the first half of the epilogue here is similar, and that Charlie's bell idea that previously helped George play Quidditch again still came into effect. :D
Now, I made most of my remarks about my 2011 rewrite in the first chapter, but again, if you want to read the old version, it can be found on my livejournal (jedigoat) in its complete form. This story has greatly changed along the way of my editing and I really do feel that it's a better, more complete work, now that I have a bit more experience with writing. :) I would love any and all feedback on this story, and once again I must say a huge and heartfelt "Thank you!" to all my readers out there and those who stuck with me through my admittedly slower updates. You guys helped this story become what it is today!
Now, as you're wondering what I meant by epilogue above ... There is no sequel to In George's Eyes in my current plans, but I have written an epilogue of sorts about Fred and George setting up their shop, if you are interested: Of Dawn and Darkness, which can of course be found on my profile. It follows almost immediately after the updated version's conclusion, but still fits cohesively enough with the old version.
Lastly, I just want to conclude with a few of my current Fred and George-related endeavors: you probably know by now I'm working on Fanfic100, with 100 stories featuring the twins - so if you'd like to take a look at some of my short stories featuring our beloved troublemakers, or if you like FredxHermione, you'll find them on my profile. :D Also, my newest project is another attempt at rectifying DH: For Want of an Ear, which involves George and Hermione travelling back in time to GoF, and trying not to butcher the timeline too much along the way (yeah, right...) and promises to be an exciting ride. And finally, for those with odd tastes like myself, there's Hoshi no Hikari, which is about the adventures of amateur Soul Reaper Fred. :D
So ... I think this Author's Note is long enough, so I'll leave you with a final note of thanks, and until next time!
-Jedi Goat, 2011