Rated: R-ish
Warnings: Twincest, showering, slash
Notes: Gift fic for Colette1me, who likes the twins - sexually. In case anyone was wondering, THIS is why UC didn't update on schedule...sorry...

This isn't my best writing ever, alas. Better luck next time, maybe? This whole thing is really just an excuse to save Fred from his canon fate in a twincestularly slashy not so un-canon-y way, so maybe it does at least that. Also, do not be deterred by the angsty start; it really is like 90 percent fluff.

Disclaimer: I am not, nor ever have been, JK Rowling, nor do I not claim to own her characters. Don't sue me, kay? Thanks...

ETA: as of 21 August, 2008, this has been proofread (by me, so, if you see stuff that's still wrong, holler), and lightly brit-picked (also by me, using my very scanty knowledge of the english which is british, so if you actually do speak british, and see stuff, again, don't hesitate to point it out).


George could feel the precise moment when his brother was hit – they had been fighting back to back just like Percy and an unidentifiable Order member were a bit farther down the hall, and then suddenly, Fred's weight was gone from George's back as his body slumped to the ground. George hadn't realized how he had been leaning on Fred to keep up until his support fell away, and George crumpled to the ground with him, twisting around to catch sight of his brother, to survey the damage.

A curse sailed over their heads but he paid it no heed. The world outside had faded away; all that mattered was making sure Fred was alright. He had to be alright. In just a few minutes he would sit up, shake of the momentary stun, and they would go on fighting. George realized that he was kneeling by his brother's side, staring into his face, willing him to get up.

And then Fred's eyelids fluttered, and George's world narrowed down to that one point. Even the sounds of the battle fell away.

"Fred! Fred, can you hear me?" George's cries edged on desperate.

Fred's eyes opened, slowly, with great difficulty, and he smiled up at George sleepily.

"Yeah, can hear you. I love you," he said, before his head fell back, too heavy.

People always say that twins have a special connection, like telepathy, or a private language. Fred and George didn't have this all the time – who did, really? – but there had always been times when they understood each other perfectly without having to share more than a few words, leaving observers mystified. This was one of those times. George knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, and without being able to explain how he knew, that Fred didn't mean ordinary brotherly love. He meant love.

And then he exhaled, and his eyes fluttered shut again.

George yelled his name, with no response, and tore frantically at his twin's robes until he had exposed bare skin. He dropped, pressing his good ear against Fred's chest, and listened harder than he had ever listened to anything in his life. And there it was, the heartbeat, faint but still present. George stayed like that, just listening to it say life, life, life, as his own heart slowly stopped racing. All was not lost yet.

The bubble of relief rising in his chest was halted, though, when he realized that the beat was not steady, but was inexorably slowing, slowing –

He tore himself away, unable to listen to it stop, unwilling to hear the beat that might be the last. If he didn't hear it, it wouldn't happen. It couldn't.

The light of St. Mungo's was entirely too bright; the staff moved around entirely too fast. It only made for a greater contrast with murky battle and stunned survivors who moved as if through thick soup, the place he had just come from.

George could hardly tear his attention away from the bed in the middle of the room long enough to listen to the healer's words, or to embrace his mother. Why was she crying anyway? They had said Fred was still alive, hadn't they? And it had to be true; they didn't put dead people in hospital beds and set so many different monitoring spells on them, or stand there patiently and explain things calmly to the gathered family, as the healer was doing now. When you were dead you were just dead.

The healer, a youngish-looking wizard with prematurely thinning wispy blond hair and an increasingly harried expression on his face, stopped what he was saying as Mr. Weasley stepped into the already-crowded room. The family had been scattered around the Hogwarts grounds when the battle finally ended, and had heard the news about Fred at different times. The fact that they kept arriving at the hospital and interrupting the healer's explanation probably went far to explain his harried look.

"Is that everyone? I'll just summarize what we know so far about –" he checked the chart attached to the end of Fred's bed – "Fred's condition, because most of you have heard it before. According to what you told us, he seems to have been hit by an unknown curse during the battle. We're still working on which one, since no one heard an incantation or saw a telltale jet of light..."

George drifted off for a while, the healer's words washing over him unheard. Fred loved him, and Fred was alive.

"..and then we'll be able to start working on a counter-curse for it. Right now our scans show the symptoms to be stable; the curse slowed his breathing and heart rate to near-hibernation levels, so our current plan is to just keep him in safely the coma until our team can determine that there will be no pernicious side-effects."

He finished cheerily and looked around the room as if expecting someone to congratulate his team on their brilliant thinking, but no one did.

"How long do you think that all will take?" asked Mrs. Weasley, after she had dabbed her eyes again with an already soaking handkerchief.

"Well, we can't be sure at this point. If it turns out that the coma is the only effect, and has no magical permanence, then we can start the awakening cycles right away, but it will take our team at least a week to complete the research – I'm sorry, Mrs. Weasley, but we have a full roster of cases to attend to at the moment, as I'm sure you understand."

George understood. He had all the time in the world for patient waiting, now. As long as Fred was coming back.

The one week stretched into multiple weeks as the healers continued to draw a blank in their research. There seemed to be nothing wrong with Fred save that he wouldn't wake up – no sign of a curse entry point, no sign that anything magical was keeping Fred asleep. Yet they continued to urge caution – waking him up when they didn't know what was going on could still be dangerous, and his condition was perfectly stable as it was.

The healers had assured a near-frantic Mrs. Weasley that they would find the answer in the end, and besides, it was likely that her son would wake up on his own before then. George offered to help them if they needed any, but the balding healer assured him that the hospital had well-tested ways of dealing with situations like this, and it was all under control.

George spent the first couple of days rattling about aimlessly in the Burrow, not knowing what to do with himself, but eventually his own restlessness and his mother's mournful sighs whenever he walked into a room with her in it drove him back to Diagon Alley.

Their shop had been partially demolished during the war, like so much else on Diagon Alley, but they still owned the premises and rebuilding was far less expensive than getting a new location entirely. George split his days between sitting at his brother's bedside until the staff kicked him out, and working on the shop. The first thing he fixed was the roof, so that he could erect a camp bed in the upper floor – most of the walls that had separated the rooms had been destroyed – so that he could spend nights there and pick up work right where he left off in the morning. He made fast progress, and with the aid of a book on magical construction methods, had the walls up and was working on finishing finer details within a week.

The unwonted solitude (the Welcome Witch at St. Mungo's didn't count as company) gave him plenty of time to think. And he had plenty to think about. Fred's declaration of love and subsequent near-fatal coma had sent George on an emotional dragon ride.

George had never seriously entertained the thought of losing Fred before that moment in the battle; even with the war on it seemed inconceivable that anything could part them; after all, weren't they practically the same person? George supposed that he had implicitly assumed that he would share his brother's fate, whatever that was, but really, his thoughts hadn't even gone that far. When they were together, that was enough – there really wasn't anything else to think about.

And it was as though once the one assumption had been shaken, it opened up the door to a whole host of other things he had never thought to think about. He had never thought to ask himself how he felt about his and Fred's relationship, it just was. And it wasn't like he was unhappy with things the way they had always been. But still, the more he thought about it (and there was little else to do but think when sitting at Fred's bedside or working on the flat), the more he realized that he wanted more. He couldn't put his finger on exactly what, more – he and Fred were already practically as close as two people could be without sharing the same thoughts – but it had something to do with the way Fred had said I love you before he passed out, and with the feel of his warm chest against his ear and the sound of his heartbeat beneath the skin. It was something like love.

Work on the flat above the shop was finished, and George was moving onto reconstructing the shop itself, when the owl from St. Mungo's arrived. By the time he apparated there, still covered in sawdust, and made his way hurriedly to Fred's room, his entire family was there, watching in breathless anticipation as Fred's eyes fluttered minutely. The same wispy-haired healer was there, trying to explain how the scans had alerted them that Fred had started coming out of his coma spontaneously just a few minutes ago, and sorry for the short notice, and to give him some air for Merlin's sake, but no one was paying any attention.

When his eyes finally did open all the way, the first person he saw was their mum, of course, since she had planted herself firmly by the head of the bed and no one dared challenge her right there. George was the one who got to take him home, however, after much argument, and that was good enough for him. Mrs. Weasley had flat-out refused, at first, saying that Fred shouldn't even be moved in his state, but the healer said that all his scans checked out at perfectly normal levels, and there was absolutely no reason for him not to be moved.

She had then insisted that Fred be brought back to the Burrow, but George (with a little help from Fred: "I'm fine, mum, I swear! Felt like I just woke up from a nap – how long was I out for anyway? No, it doesn't feel like there's anything wrong with me, mum, asking again won't change the answer!") had managed to convince her in the end. After all, it had been a matter of years since the twins had lived full-time in the Burrow, and now that the flat was rebuilt, there was no reason not to go there.

The twins had finally been released only after receiving many admonishments to George to take good care of Fred, for Fred to firecall both his parents, Percy, and St. Mungo's if and when he felt even the slightest bit off, and for Fred not to dare Apparating in this state, (that was what the Floo was for!); a staggering number of hugs and kisses (mostly intended for Fred, but some landed on George anyway), and a promise extracted from both of them that they would come to the Burrow as soon as possible – preferably tomorrow.

George couldn't help feeling concerned for Fred despite his many assurances that yes, he did, really, honestly, feel fine, (people don't just wake up from comas like that, George's brain kept telling him), so he fed Fred a light dinner and made him go straight to bed. Fred's heavy snores not long after confirmed George's suspicion that Fred had been exaggerating his "fine"-ness – after all, while lying flat on one's back for a few weeks wasn't the most demanding thing one could do, it should still take some time to gain one's strength back.

Lying in his own bed that night, with his brother's snores coming in faintly through the wall, George couldn't help thinking about the realization he had come to while Fred was in St. Mungo's. The new feelings, whatever they were, were still as strong as before – stronger, illogically enough, now that Fred had actually returned. George would have to tell Fred about it, and see what he thought. He briefly wondered if that was the right thing to do, but only briefly. The twins had never kept anything from each other before, and if something big like this was on George's mind, Fred wouldn't appreciate being kept out of it.

The next morning at breakfast, George made his first attempt. He had spent the greater part of the morning trying to cook something resembling actual food, and by the time it was done, Fred wandered out of his room sleepily, claiming to have been awaken by too many pot-and-pan noises.

"Morning, Fred. It's nice to see you among the living, finally."

"Oh, very funny," Fred yawned as he slouched into his chair at the table. "You're supposed to be sensitive to recovering curse victims, not make light of their situation."

George put on an innocent face. "What? Curse? Oh, I was just referring to the uncommonly late hour of your rising, when some of us have actually been trying to do something useful with our morning." He caught Fred's eyes, and it was only a moment before they both burst out laughing.

"Good one, George; I'll have to make sure never to sleep in again…"

George was still grinning. It felt good to have his brother back.

Still, though, that made him all the more eager to share his new insight, so he waited impatiently until Fred had eaten most of the food on his plate (he was never really awake in the mornings until he had had something to eat), and then launched into his confession.

"You know, Fred –"

"Mmmm?" Fred looked up from his plate, mouth full of sausage.

"I really missed you, while you were at St. Mungo's. Really." George tried to look earnest, but this wasn't coming out exactly right. Hopefully Fred would, in one of those rare moments of twin communication, understand what he meant anyway.

He didn't. "Really? Well, I don't blame you. I must have been fine company, stuck as a sleeping beauty all that time."

George could feel himself blushing at the imagery for some reason, but Fred had his eyes closed and hands folded on the side of his face, mimicking a sleeping beauty, and didn't notice. "Well, yeah, but that's not quite what I meant..."

Presently, Fred opened his eyes and set about finishing the food on his plate, while George tried to think of how to frame his ideas so that he could explain what he really did mean, if Fred asked him. Fred asked no such thing, however; he simply finished his sausages and then started postulating what they might do that day. George cleared the dishes and started them washing themselves - he had learned a few things from his mother that were useful for living on their own - and listened to Fred decide that they should probably visit the Burrow sometime today, before their mum came over to get them herself, and that he would really like to go down and look around the shop at some point, and catch up with Lee, when he could...

George stopped him before he planned too much for his first day awake, but agreed that they could work in the shop a bit (there wasn't much he could have done without Fred at this point anyway), and that they would over to the Burrow for lunch - or dinner, depending on how involved they got with the shop.

They spent a healthy part of the day in the shop, setting up shelves and planning out how they would arrange their products when they reopened. George kept a subtle eye on his brother, but he didn't see any signs of fatigue. Fred was able to keep up with him the entire time they were working, and after twenty years of knowing him, George would have been able to tell if his twin was hiding signs of weakness, and he wasn't. He had a hard time believing that after so many long weeks of waiting and hoping, Fred could just be with him, totally with him, so suddenly, but there it was.

They flooed over to the Burrow for dinner that night, and were made much of, and forcibly invited to come again the next night, and Fred was forced to eat approximately three times a normal amount of food by their mum - not that he appeared to mind.

There was a difference between Fred and the rest of the family that George had never noticed before, but which was made blindingly apparent when they were all together like this. George occupied himself while Fred was getting triple helpings of everything by going around the table and trying to work out exactly what it was that made Fred different from the others. Ginny - no, he was definitely quite happy if his relationship with Ginny never changed. And Ron - eurgh. He could never imagine wanting to think about Ron in that way, much less snog him like...wait, snog?

This was a new development in George's thoughts, but it didn't really come as a surprise to him that the two - snogging, Fred - were connected. It just seemed right that they were. And now that it had occurred to him, he kicked himself for not noticing it before. He had been trying to figure out his feelings toward Fred as if they were something totally new and unheard-of, but really, he should have noticed it sooner, shouldn't have let the fact that Fred was his brother confuse him. It wasn't just like being in love with a girl; it was like being in love with Fred. And wanting to snog him. Preferably a lot...

George stared in Fred's direction and entertained several varieties of the thought, until Fred noticed him staring and made a face. George made a face back, and continued to mull over the situation...so it had something to do with love, and snogging, then. He felt like he was really beginning to understand this, and had to suppress the urge to share the revelation with him then and there. The others probably wouldn't understand, and Fred probably wouldn't take him seriously. Still...his mind drifted back to its former train of snogging-thoughts, and he felt his face heat up. It would probably be best to tell Fred soon.

After dinner was over, they all drifted into the living room, and toasts were given, and the hour grew very late. Everyone wanted to soak up as much of Fred's company as they could, and the atmosphere grew progressively more celebratory. When it was finally generally agreed upon that bedtime had arrived, George was bone-tired, and the twins both collapsed straight into their respective beds when they flooed back to their flat. Important confessions were not so important that they couldn't wait for the morning.

The second time that George tried to tell Fred was the next morning at breakfast. Well, the meal was happening much closer to lunchtime than breakfast time, but it involved tea and toast and was their first meal of the day, so they were calling it breakfast. He pored himself tea, passed the pot to Fred, nervously consumed an entire piece of toast, cleared his throat, and waited until he had Fred's full attention.

"Mmm?" Fred looked up.

"I've been thinking, about what you said to me, right before you went under...you know, in the battle."

Fred just nodded pensively, so George continued. "When you said you loved me...I could tell that you really meant it...and well, I do too." He grinned. If only Fred knew how much...well, that could wait for later.

Fred looked pensive for a moment longer, and then his face broke into an equally large grin, and he reached across the table to clap George on the shoulder. "Really, George, you didn't have to come out and make a big deal of it like that. We all know you love yourself already, but isn't this taking the egomania a bit far?"

"No, no! That's not what I meant to say!" George defended himself in vain.

"Sure, it isn't...," Fred said in tones of broad incredulity, still grinning.

"No, what I meant is, like in love. With y -"

Fred held up a hand. "Now that's just gross, George. Love yourself all you want, but spare me the details, will you?"

George gave up trying to go further. Had he really been misunderstood by his own twin, now twice in a row? It was a totally new experience to have something to say that his brother just didn't seem to understand. It almost seemed willful on Fred's part, like he was trying to be obtuse, but then George remembered how long it had taken him to come to his realization. He had needed some time to work it out, and he would never have started to question their relationship at all if it hadn't been for Fred being hit. Fred would understandably need some time, too, and George was willing to keep at it. If he tried enough times, eventually he would get through to him.

The third time he tried was on the third morning - after that last failed attempt, their day had passed much as the last one, with the adjustment of Lee coming over to help them work on the shop in the afternoon, and Bill being at the Burrow that evening, necessitating a whole new round of toasts and revelry. This was more or less the first time they had been alone together (and fully conscious) since the previous morning, and George was determined to try out a new tack. If he could only show Fred rather than tell him, he couldn't possibly be misunderstood.

Fred, who had woken up marginally earlier, was standing by the counter making tea, and George walked up behind him and looked over his shoulder.

"Morning," he said with a slight yawn, and wrapped his arms around Fred's waist, close enough that he could lean on Fred's thinly t-shirt clad back.

"Morning," Fred replied, and didn't move to shake George off. Since the two weren't usually all that physically affectionate (enthusiastic hugs after successful Quidditch games pretty much covered the range of their physical repretoire), George took this as a good sign.

"Look, Fred, there's something I've been wanting to tell you for a while..." He trailed off. What had he been saying? It was hard to pay attention. Fred's body was right there, solid and warm against his own, like he could never remember it having been before. Then he remembered gratefully that he was trying to do this without words this time, so he leaned forward and planted a lingering kiss on Fred's slightly scratchy cheek, imagining he could sense the taste of warm, sleepy skin, and feel the faint creases from his pillow. He tried not to overdo it, lifting his lips from Fred's cheek before it would have become awkward. Fred might have leaned back into the embrace, but it might have just been George's imagination.

Then, "My, you sure get sentimental in the morning. No one's switched you for mum in the night, have they?" said Fred in jocular tone, effectively destroying the mood.

"Ha, ha, very funny," George said as he dropped his arms from around Fred's waist. "At least I'm not the one who used mum's shampoo when I was fifteen because I thought it would give my hair more "body." What is that, anyway?"

"Touché," said Fred, grinning. "You want some of this?" He gestured with the tea pot.

"Yeah," said George, fetching down the cups.

"What was it you wanted to tell me, anyway?" asked Fred as they made their way to the table.

"Ummmm, do you want to go to the pub with me tonight?" said George, improvising. "It's like we haven't had any time alone since you got back from St. Mungo's, and it might be nice to just go out and relax - you know, catch up, get out of the flat..."

"Good idea!" agreed Fred enthusiastically, buttering himself some toast. "Though I won't have very much to catch you up on, you know...'I was asleep - and then, I was still asleep - and, no, no dreams, thank you very much - just black, standard sleep-type stuff, don't even remember much of it really -'" Fred cracked into a grin.

George smiled sheepishly. "Well, yeah, obviously..but still, it's weird not to have had you around for so long..."

"Huh, I really did have the better side of the bargain then, since I don't remember it - and it is a good idea," reassured Fred. "It'll be a nice excuse to get away from mum; god knows I love the woman, but she's getting to be a bit much already - don't think I can take one more dinner of her overfeeding me and staring wistfully into my face for hours at a time while everyone else tries to act totally normal. And I know just the place we can go." Fred winked a bit roguishly, but George knew he had to be just joking around. Fred didn't have anything to be roguish about, yet, thanks to George's multiple failed attempts at communication.

They arrived at the place Fred had picked out just as things were picking up for the night, and they had to make their way through several knots of milling patrons before they arrived at an empty booth.

"What is this place?" asked George, looking around as he slid into his seat. The place was dimly lit, but not seedily so, as the Hog's Head was. Loud music of an indiscriminate genre was blaring, and a few brave people were already starting to gyrate on what appeared to be a dance floor past the bar. The place was already easily more packed than the Three Broomsticks had ever been on a Hogsmeade weekend.

"This, my brother," said Fred, looking roguish again, "is a Muggle bar."

"Why..." George started, but Fred cut him off.

"Hold that thought, I'm going to go get us something to drink. Don't finish the peanuts before I get back." And with a warning glance, he was off.

George sighed, and reached for a peanut. This place wouldn't have been half bad, either, if it weren't so inappropriate for the purposes he had in mind. He had wanted somewhere where he could have a nice talk with Fred, not somewhere with a ready-made party. They could have had a party if they wanted one, if they had accepted Lee's invitation to go over to his place after they were done working in the shop...

Before George had even had a fair chance to make a dent in the bowl of peanuts, Fred came back from his trip to the bar with several beers in one arm, and a girl on the other. She was dressed in flawless muggle attire, wearing blocky spectacles not wholly unlike Harry's, and was grinning effervescently. She slid into the other side of the booth after Fred, her massive amounts of pink-streaked dark hair swinging everywhere, and shot a shy smile at George. George resented her presence immediately.

"See, told you you would hardly miss me!" Fred slid a beer across the table to George. George caught it and leaned across the table to Fred.

"Is that a muggle?" he hissed. "Fred, what are you thinking -"

"Yes, she is," said Fred, not bothering to whisper. "Pretty young thing, isn't she?" He slung an arm over the back of the booth, and the girl giggled and gave him moon-eyes. "There's plenty more at the bar if you want in, George. Told you this was a good place!"

"No, of course I don't want in. I'm fine," said George. Because I came here to be with you, he thought, but didn't say it aloud. They weren't alone anymore.

The evening passed in a blur of loud music and bubbly conversation, and though he did his part to stay in the conversation, George was bored enough to make good headway on finishing those peanuts. The only thing that kept him from finishing too much beer, too, was the vague hope that he might be able to talk to Fred after they got home - and he was not letting him bring that muggle back to their flat - and if so, he sincerely didn't want to mess it up this time. As important and pressing as his discovery had seemed when he made it, it was seeming like he was just not fated to share it with Fred. Fred probably wouldn't want to hear it anyway; George was beginning to doubt his earlier assumption that Fred would understand if only George could explain properly.

Fred seemed to be pulling out all the stops on his manly charm this evening, if the response of the girl sitting next to him - he never had introduced her to George, and probably didn't even know her name himself - was any indication. She kept smiling, and giggling, and the distance between her and his brother kept growing progressively smaller throughout the evening, though George could swear he never saw them moving. At intervals, she would glance between Fred and George like she had never seen a pair of twins before, blush, and giggle all the louder. Probably wondering if their skills in bed were the same, as well as their looks. She was practically snuggled up against Fred now, and George couldn't suppress the growing tide of jealousy. That was supposed to be his place, closest to Fred, feeling his heart, soaking up his warmth...

Of course they had both been with girls before, but it was different, now. George hadn't known he was in love, before.

Finally, mercifully, last call was issued and the remaining patrons began to disperse and head home. George was more than happy to wave the bubbly muggle goodbye at the bar, and walk out alone with his brother. They headed down the street in silence until they reached a safe distance to Apparate, and then they turned on the spot simultaneously and landed back in their flat.

"I'm tuckered," announced Fred with a yawn as he pulled off his shirt and staggered toward the bathroom. "I call dibs on the shower."

"Drunk is more like it," grumbled George as he followed him, feeling overly-aware of the fact that he was half-naked. "And you shouldn't be going anywhere near the shower in your state, you can save that for the morning."

"But I need one, I feel all grimy. Can't go to sleep like this," Fred whined petulantly.

George couldn't say no to him, like that. What harm could a shower do, anyway? "Oh, fine, but only if you let me stay in here while you go. You're liable to fall and hit your head on the tiles, like that. And I just put in those tiles," he added.

"Ok, whatever," said Fred agreeably, and set about trying to undo his trousers.

George took a seat on the closed toilet and tried to ignore the awkwardness of the situation. He pretended not to notice his brother undressing shamelessly in front of him, revealing one fit, freckled body part after another. He averted his eyes to keep from being caught staring, but once Fred was in the shower, he lost this excuse. George cursed himself for installing glass doors instead of a regular, opaque, curtain. He could see everything that was going on in the shower, every rivulet of soapy water running down Fred's body... With alarm, he realized that his nether regions were starting to take interest, and he forced himself to look away. He would be able to hear if Fred fell.

What he did not expect to hear was Fred's voice a couple minutes later, asking innocently over the noise of the water, "George...would you wash my back, please?"

Oh no. This was not happening. It was like a bad porn movie, only Fred had no idea what he was saying. "Can't you wash it yourself?" George asked, turning back around despite his better judgment. And there was Fred, in the shower, trying to wash his back himself, arching in a way that surely had to be forbidden...

"No," came the strained-sounding answer from the shower. "I can't reach. Please?"

"No," said George, rather more callously than he had meant to sound. Fred could live with a dirty back for one night. Anything, as long as he didn't have to go in there with all that hot water and wet Fred. He knew he wouldn't be able to control himself.

"Please?" said Fred one more time, trying pathetically to reach his back from an entirely wrong - but completely sexy - angle.

"Oh, all right!" George grunted. He would just get it over and done with without thinking about it, so Fred would stop talking to him in that tone of voice which had such completely inappropriate effects on George. George slid the shower door open and stuck his head in, trying to avoid the spray. He didn't think that the rest of the door was quite hiding the now-prominent tenting in his trousers, but he also doubted that Fred would turn around and notice.

"All right, hand me the flannel," George said, extending a hand and trying valiantly not to let his eyes wander lower than his brother's dripping shoulders.

"A flannel? I couldn't find one; I was just using my hands." Fred shrugged, causing the muscles in his shoulders to ripple. George tried to picture what a mass of vomited-up spinach and blood sausage would look like, and managed to keep himself from jumping Fred then and there.

"All right, well, I think I'm going to go get one," said George. If he had to touch him, he didn't think even the most revolting mental image he could come up with would be much help. A thorough search turned up no flannels though; they were apparently all in the laundry. George vowed that this would be the last time he left laundry till the last minute, if it was what got him into situations like this – he was painfully aware that he desperately wanted his brother, but also that taking advantage of him when he was this drunk, and George near to sober, would be tantamount to rape. George would never be able to live with himself if he did something like that to Fred, of all people.

After delaying returning to the steamy bathroom for as long as possible, George stuck his head back in the shower. "I couldn't find one either. Do you still need help?" Maybe he had managed to do it himself while George was away. One could always hope.

"Yeah I do," said Fred in a sleepy-sounding voice. "I washed everything else already."

George tried to refrain from thinking about what the everything else might be, but images of steaming, sudsy body parts filled his head anyway. He banished them. "Alright, Fred, I'm not coming in because I'd get my clothes wet, but can you back up over here a bit?"

Fred sighed and obligingly took a step back, bringing himself within easy arm's reach of George. George grabbed the soap and tried not to think of what he was doing as he lathered up his brother's back. He had meant to finish up quickly, just so he could say he had done it, but it was like once he had started, he couldn't stop. And there was no harm in it, right? After all, this was only what Fred had asked him to do.

He set the soap aside and began to work his way down Fred's back, using both hands to massage the freckled skin. He lingered around the shoulders and neck, working his hands into the bunched muscles, trying to soothe away the tension, and then rubbed little circles down his spine and out along his shoulder blades, relishing the feeling of the silky skin under the sheeting water. He dug his knuckles into Fred's lower back, knowing how he himself always got kinks there, and was rewarded with a shuddered exhalation from Fred, who arched into the touch. George worked out the kinks there for a while, and then his hands slid lower still along the skin, making a show at sweeping away the suds that had long since been rinsed away by the water.

He hesitated, his touch now fingertip-light – any lower, and he would be entering forbidden territory. The urge to simply forget it all, to keep sliding his fingers down so they made furrows in the soft flesh of that perfectly tight arse, and just – but he remembered himself in time, and balled his needy hands into fists. "All done!" he said, giving Fred a brotherly slap on the shoulder and not letting his eyes wander again. Fred grunted his thanks as George leaned out of the shower and took a towel to his arms.

"Think you can manage to get to bed yourself?" he asked, and without really waiting for the answer, escaped the bathroom without looking back. If George did not have a wank right now, he would not be responsible for his actions. Fred should be sobering up by now anyway, and capable of at least getting into bed without hurting himself.

George thought he heard the water turning off and the bedroom door opening and closing, but by that time he was behind his own locked door, jeans pooled around his ankles, pulling himself off to images of broad muscular backs, and rivulets of soapy water streaming past freckles, and ginger hair darkened by water and plastered over ears and neck as though his life depended on it. When he came, the tension only spiraled out and coalesced deeper in his gut, and it was not a release.

It wasn't until the following evening that George got his next chance.

Fred collapsed on the couch with a groan and picked up a Quidditch magazine. "Funny," he said. "Pretty long day, but I don't feel near to tired yet."

"Yeah, me either," said George, pointing his wand at their small fireplace to light it before collapsing on the couch himself. "Don't suppose it has anything to do with having slept in past noon today?"

"Only because Lee was banging down our door, though. I could have slept longer." Fred chuckled and flipped a page in his magazine, and a comfortable silence fell. George stared into the fire. Now would be a good time, his mind told him. If he was going to have one last go at it, conditions wouldn't get much better than this.

"Hey, Fred," George said, making up his mind. This time he wasn't going to give up at the first little thing; he was going to get through to his brother even if it took all night. It was either tell him like a civilized human being now, and see how he reacted, or do something unfortunate and quite possibly unwanted to him next time he decided he needed a drunk shower.

"Mmmm?" Fred turned another page.

"I've got something to tell you." George was getting tired of the words. What had seemed so frank and candid when he first started trying now seemed trite and cheapened by overuse.

"Again?" said Fred, his eyebrows raising over the edge of his magazine. Clearly he had noticed the repetition too.

"No, seriously - just listen for a bit, ok? And then I promise I'll stop bugging you with it."

Fred put down his magazine on the table and turned his gaze on his twin.

George smiled. "So, the thing is, I got to do a lot of thinking while you were at St Mungo's...and I guess it has something to do with realizing that I really could lose you; that had never even really occurred to me before..." He saw Fred's expression, and hastily added, "No, I'm not turning into mum here! It just got me thinking along a different track, is all...You probably don't remember, but you said something to me right before you went out, and it made me think that we could be...closer. Even more than we are now, I mean. And I would want that. A lot," he finished, with a shrug.

Fred definitely looked interested now, but still a bit skeptical. "What do you mean, closer? We're twins, we live together, we finish practically all of each others' sentences…"

George let out and exasperated sigh and rubbed the back of his neck. "I've been trying to tell you for ages; I don't think I can do any better than that...it's just bloody hard to put into words..."

Fred tipped his head to the side and looked pensive for a moment. "Well, do you think you could show me, then?" The roguish gleam was back in his eyes.

Now this, George could do. It was only what he had been dying to do, for untold days and weeks… He scooted over on the couch and pulled Fred roughly into his arms, shifting until they were nestled together snugly. A curl of heat awakened in his belly and grew. This was the way things should be.

"Like this?" Fred joked, his voice vibrating against George's chest. "We could have gotten away with buying a smaller couch, if -"

And then his words turned into a small mew of surprise as George reached out and grasped Fred's chin, tipping it up, so he was looking into his eyes. And then George pressed his lips to Fred's and the surprise-sound changed into a soft moan of surrender. George felt a hand sliding up his back, and then it was pressing on the back of George's neck, inviting him to deepen the kiss. He slanted his mouth across Fred's and brushed his tongue against Fred's lips, and made him make that sound again. Then Fred opened his mouth and their tongues mingled and wrestled, and George felt himself growing dizzy with the unexpected sensuality of it. George shifted to get a better angle, and began to move his mouth more forcefully, and was delighted when Fred matched his intensity, the kiss becoming more urgent by the moment.

George reached back to untuck Fred's shirt from his pants, and then hungrily slipped his hands under the fabric to explore that broad expanse of back which had so stirred his desire last night. It was so much better, like this, with Fred awake and fully responding to him, and his mouth on George's, and his hands in George's hair, and George knew he wanted it.

They broke the kiss long enough for George to lift the shirt over his twin's head and discard it, and then, after a brief but furious snog as if to reassure each other that they were still there, again, to do the same with George's shirt. This shift brought them into full contact, and George gasped at the shock of so much skin against his own. Fred was now straddling one of George's legs, and his shock was doubled when he felt the pressure of what was certainly not Fred's leg pressing into him. This seemed to send a signal directly to his own cock which said hard, and it obeyed at once. George didn't think he had ever been so turned on in his life.

He pulled Fred closer and tried to grind against his leg to relieve some of the pressure, and Fred enthusiastically followed suit. George moved his hips faster, chasing after that delicious friction, and Fred pressed closer and did the same, until they found their cadence. Soon the kiss was forgotten save for furtive mouthings to the neck in between panted breaths; bites to broad shoulders to ground oneself to something solid within all the motion.

"I'm gonna -" Fred gasped, and then he came, his hips bucking out of control against George's leg, and that did him in - he came too, with a sound somewhere between a grunt and a shout ripped out from deep within him, digging his fingers into Fred's back. They held on like that until the last aftershocks had rippled through them, and then Fred rolled off and sprawled on the couch, still breathing heavily and coated in a sheen of sweat that made his skin glow in the firelight. He swung his legs into George's lap, who had dropped his head back on the back of the couch and was staring at the ceiling.

"Hey," said Fred in a husky voice. "Was that more like what you meant?"

George turned toward his twin and grinned lazily. "Prat. Yeah, that was what I meant. Knew I'd get it across to you eventually."

Fred smiled too. "And it only took you...four days to say it. Clearly, you are the better man!" He chuckled fondly.

George sat up a little straighter. "What're you talking about? I was the only one trying to say this, there's no comparison to be...wait, are you saying...?"

Fred nodded. "Git. Thinking you had come up with it first, when we all know I'm the smart one...I figured out that I felt this way long before the possibility had even occurred to you; only I couldn't figure out how to tell you...It was bloody awkward, is what it was. And you just wouldn't seem to hear me, no matter how I said it."

"You never did!" George interrupted. "I would have noticed!"

"Nope," said Fred, ruefully. "Maybe it just never came out quite right...I suppose I could have taken this route -" he gestured at their sprawled, sweaty bodies "-but I didn't want to scare you off, and I wanted you to understand all of it. This isn't just a physical thing for me, you know," he said, looking earnestly into George's eyes as if he were unsure he would understand even now.

"Me neither," said George, his voice cracking. "I'm so glad - I hoped... I don't think I could have explained it, if you didn't feel it too," he said. Once again, he was pretty sure that words had failed to convey what he really meant, but now he knew that they didn't have to. Fred felt exactly the same way that George did, so he just knew. All was right in the world again. Except...

"What do you mean, you knew before I did? How long did you know? And how come you're acting like you engineered this whole situation just to get me to realize too...?"

Fred's grin could have rivaled the Cheshire Cat's. "Because that, dear brother, is exactly what I did. I figured you were too complacent in our relationship to ever notice on your own that anything could change, so I needed to shake things up a bit..."

George's mind was already leaping beyond Fred's words. "So you mean - the battle - the curse - that was all part of your plan? But you could have gotten us killed! You could have died! For god's sake, that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of anyone doing. How'd you do it?" he asked, without even pausing.

"Modified Draught of Living Death, made in a dissolvable capsule to keep in my mouth. It's virtually undetectable once it's in the body, you know. And then, when it wears off - poof! - I'm awake, and no worse for the wear. Curse mysteriously lifted." His roguish grin softened. "And honestly, stop being so serious. I wasn't going to die. Wouldn't have swallowed it if the battle wasn't already dying down, and Perce had it under control anyway. And nothing happened, did it?" He spread his arms to exhibit the utter lack of bodily harm he had sustained. "I would have done something else if I could, but honestly, that was the only thing that would have gotten through to you. You know I'm right."

George sighed. Yes, Fred was right, like he always was about George. He had only started thinking of Fred like this because of the shock of the "curse". And nothing had happened, so he couldn't really complain. "Just - just promise to never do anything like that again, ok? I could never dream of losing you for real."

"Aw, look who's getting all mushy now!" Fred made kiss-kiss faces, and George swatted at his feet, which were still resting in George's lap. His thoughts ran past the battle, past Fred's joyful reawakening, back to the frustration of the past few days, and he hit them again, harder.

"Hey! Those are attached!" Fred yelped.

"You knew, this whole time, and you still put me through all that? The insults, the utter ignorance, the subject changes – everything was fake?"

"Of course. I had to suffer through several months of the same, if not worse, from you. It's only fair. I knew you'd manage to spit it out eventually, even though yesterday morning, I was sorely tempted to just give in..." His eyes took on a dreamy cast, and George blushed as he remembered their embrace in a new light.

"And the shower, too?" George had to ask.

Fred laughed. "If I had really been drunk, I wouldn't have been able to stop myself from turning around and jumping you there and then. It was damned near impossible as it was…has anyone ever told you you have a way with your hands? I was terrified you would move and see the size of my hard-on though; that would have given the game away too early!"

George laughed. "Lucky for you I was trying my hardest not to look, then."

"Not even one tiny peek? Honestly, you don't know what you're missing…"

"Wanker," he said affectionately, and tapped Fred's feet in his lap one more time. Fred made a show of kicking back, and silence fell again.

Presently, Fred broke it.

"Is this what you had in mind, then? You said 'closer,' and I think snogging the life out of each other and getting off definitely counts as closer..."

"But?" asked George, who could sense restlessness in his brother's tone.

"Well…" insinuated Fred, his eyes searching George's face.

"I didn't have anything in particular in mind," said George. "I just wanted more; I wanted you, and I think we pretty much covered that. We're all the way close now, aren't we?" George knew he was being cruel, but that's what made it so fun. Two could play the broken-communication game.

"Oh, I can think of plenty of ways to get a lot closer." A feral glint shone in the back of his eyes, and he levered himself up and began advancing toward George's end of the couch. "If that's okay with you," he said in a low, husky voice into George's ear. George hardly had time to moan his assent before Fred reached for the button of George's pants. Fred's hands slid inside as his tongue slid along the line of George's collarbone, gathering the salt from his sweat.

"I'm about to show you how to take communication to a whole other level," he said into George's skin. "You'll be good at this."

And, as it turned out, George was.


So there you have it, my first twincest. You may be pleased to know that a companion piece is indeed in the works. (Do feel free to prod me though; the writing goes slowly and I am easily distracted.) In the meantime, reviews are highly appreciated, should the urge strike you!