by Bad Mum
April 1st 1980
It is the first thing George remembers – really remembers, rather than having been told about it afterwards and thinking that he does. Their second birthday. Sitting next to Fred at the head of the table, perched on cushions because they are too small to reach the table without them. The family singing, "Happy Birthday dear FredandGeorge, Happy birthday to you". (He was probably six before he realised that FredandGeorge wasn't actually one word.)
And then having a tantrum because their mother gives him and Fred slices of cake in separate bowls. They were supposed to share. Why two bowls? He is too young to explain of course, and his cake remains uneaten.
April 1st 1989
"Do you mind it?" Charlie asks curiously. "Sharing all the time?"
They are in the yard outside The Burrow. Fred is in the kitchen, having the gash on his forehead, from where he was hit by the new Bludger – the twins' birthday present – patched up. Bill took Fred in to their mother. Charlie kept George outside. The family know from experience that it is best to keep the twins apart when one of them is hurt, at least at first. The one who is okay always makes a lot more fuss than the injured party.
"What d'you mean?"
"You and Fred. You get joint birthday presents. You don't even get a birthday cake to yourself."
George shrugs, looking at the back door, willing Fred to come out and be alright and make a joke. He knows he will sooner or later. He was laughing even as Bill shepherded him into the house with his face covered in blood, but George can't help worrying.
"We're twins," he says flatly, as if that makes his answer obvious. "We always share. Anyway, you and Bill share things. You have joint birthday parties sometimes."
"It's different. We don't share presents. Or cakes. And he's older than me."
"I'm older than Fred."
Charlie rolls his eyes. "Nine minutes. Two years. Not the same thing."
"I'd mind sharing with Percy or Ron. I don't mind sharing with Fred." George is only eleven. It is the closest he can get to explaining that sharing with Fred is not like sharing at all, because Fred is the other half of himself.
April 1st 1998
Perhaps they should feel guilty at having a birthday party in the middle of a war, when their kid brother is off Godric-knows-where doing Godric-knows-what and their baby sister has to endure those bastards the Carrows at school. But feeling guilty is not the Weasley twins' style. Anyway, unless people continue to do normal things, to carry on living, You Know Who will have won already. If you think about it like that, it is their duty to enjoy their birthday.
"Happy birthday dear FredandGeorge, Happy birthday to you." The other customers in the Leaky Cauldron are not enjoying the noise they and their friends are making. Tom is glaring at them, and they take the hint and adjourn to the flat above the shop.
Oliver opens bottles of beer, and Katie puts on some music. Fred is laughing on the battered settee with Angelina on his lap. George is dancing with Alicia, Lee with Katie. Oliver is complaining, "Not fair. We're a girl short." Alicia takes pity on him, and abandons George, pulling Oliver out of the chair and draping herself round him as they dance. Not to be outdone, George grabs Angelina from Fred and starts to slow-dance with her. Fred glares at him for a minute, but then grins as he goes to kidnap Katie from Lee.
There will be time for words like "commitment" when they are as old as Bill. For now, they will share the girls, as they share everything else.
April 1st 1999
It is not as bad as it might have been, but it is bad enough. What George would really have liked to do is to go to bed on March 31st and not get up until April 2nd, but no one will let him do that. They assemble as many people as they can at The Burrow, friends and family, in the hope that the numbers and the noise will go some way to covering up the gap that none of them can ignore.
There is an impromptu Quidditch match, and Oliver's team thrashes Charlie's soundly. There is one of George's mother's marvellous meals.
Then there is the birthday cake. "Happy birthday dear Ge-orge, Happy birthday to you." There is a beat before the "George" where "Fredand" ought to go, but no one slips up and actually sings it. George does not look up as he blows out the candles. He has never had to do it on his own before, and he fails miserably to get them all in one go. When he does look up, he sees Lee sitting with his face buried in his hands, Angelina with tears on her face, and Charlie pushing his way through the crowd to get away before anyone sees him cry.
George is glad of Ginny's arms round him, so he can bury his face in her hair for a minute and hide his own tears.
The cake is one of his mother's best, but it tastes like sawdust in his mouth.
Birthdays should be shared.
April 1st 2019
"Happy birthday dear Ge-orge, happy birthday to you." There is no beat before the "George" any more, they are used to it just being him now. Anyway, there are several people fitting "Uncle"in before it, not to mention his own kids stretching "Da-ad" to fit, so that it is ragged enough that no one would notice if the missing beat is there or not.
He catches his mother's eye, and knows that she is thinking the same as he is. Forty-one years old. He has lived longer without his twin than with him. It isn't right.
"George, give your brother a turn."
"Fred, let George have his share."
"You'll have to share it, we can't afford one each."
"Happy birthday dear FredandGeorge."
There is a childhood of sharing lying between them. He raises his wine glass towards his mother and mouths Fred's name. She blinks back tears and smiles at him as she raises her own glass.
Birthdays should be shared.