Heeey guys, sorry I was gone for a while. I couldn't think of any ideas to write!! (AKA. I was being lazy) BUT I am back. So, onto the meat of the Authors Note: DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT Own Harry Potter.Shame, really. I'd enjoy all that money. "And this million goes to the SPCA, and this million goes to funds for alternate fuel, and this million goes to my brother to help him with college..." Hahah, whatever, anyway...onto the ficcie!! OHz, and sorry for the continuously-depressing Post-DH fics. It's how I find closure, by writing them out...so sorry if they depress you and put a damper on your day.
Ps. This is totally set around Christmas time, as in...Christmas Eve-ish day...but I'm posting it NOW because of Christmas in July!! (okay that's a lie...but just PRETEND it's in season! Mmkay?)
Haha and yes the "Short Weasley, Tall Weasley" referances come from The Starhorse's fan fiction Fox Ears. It's very good, go read it!
Flurries of snow falling around the windows of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes lost their crystal white shine and instead constantly changed different colours in time with the flashing products and posters on display for passerby. The street of the normally full and re-constructed Diagon Alley was unusually silent as everyone was at home, holed up next to the fire with their family and a nice warm flagon of butterbeer (unless they were locked up in Azkaban).
George Weasley slipped out the front door of their joke shop wearing a deep blue traveling cloak that matched in no way whatsoever with his magenta work robes. He whipped out a gold key that caught the light and shimmered as he inserted it in the lock. George turned the key, heard the satisfying clunk that meant the lock had slid into place, and withdrew the key once more. Placing the key back into his pocket and grasping his wand, George stepped back and raised his wand to begin casting the normal enchantments that protected their shop while he was away.
Stepping back further to observe the successful shop that was their dream, George chortled at little as he examined the products in the window. Yes, he thought, Fred certainly would have approved. With that George turned and headed down to the Leaky Cauldron where he was planning to Apparate to the cold, most likely deserted, graveyard so he could visit Fred before he headed to the Burrow to see the rest of the family.
"Ah, George, heading home, I presume?" Tom the bartender of the Leaky Cauldren greeted George as he stepped gratefully out of the harsh wind.
"That I am, Tom." He noted how the barman flinched slightly at the sound of his name. George wouldn't enjoy having the same name as the Dark Lord, either, "Wish I had time for a butterbeer, but you know my mother and Ginny. There'll be reckoning if I'm so much as five minutes late."
Tom and George shared a short laugh before George continued on his way. He stepped out of the dingy pub and glanced around to make sure no muggles were watching, then pictured his destination clearly in his mind as he'd done so many times in the last 7 months and spun on his heal.
George landed right next to the old rusted gate that led to the cemetery where Fred now lay quite dead. George examined the gate for a moment, noticing how the snow around it had recently been upset. Glancing at the lock confirmed his suspicions that someone else was visiting the grim site today. George sighed and pushed the gate open, surprised as ever when the iron obliged silently and didn't creak eerily.
George began the depressing walk through the snow-laden frozen world, keeping his eyes open for whoever it was that had arrived before him. Inwardly he hoped that it was just a muggle coming to say hi to a relative, but deep down he knew it was probably one of his family or friends, and this disappointed him. Was he really that predictable? George immediately reprimanded himself for such a thought. If someone he knew was there, it was for Fred, not because they wished to push their presence on George.
Finally he was just a few graves away from the one he yearned to be at. He was unsuprised to find a hunched figure with shocking redhair sitting infront of the stone he wished most to be at alone. George paused for a moment and decided he would try to guess who it was.
Whoever it was was sobbing heavily and George noted how this person seemed to have a deeper voice. George contemplated the surroundings as well, taking in what, or rather whowas not there. This person was obviously not Ron, or else Hermione wouldn't be far from his side. He'd already ruled out Ginny because if it were her, Harry would be there and the man's hair would be much longer. He most certainly wasn't Bill, or Fleur would be there as well, probably muttering phrases in French in a low consoling voice. Nor could he be Charlie, who George new wouldn't arrive until Christmas morning the next day. This left only two people, and as one of the two options was dead, it clearly was not him.
"Percy! What are you doing in the desolate area on Christmas eve day, hmm? Shouldn't you be at the Ministry enjoying your job, or at home listening to Mum fuss over the state of your robes or the fact you haven't a girlfriend yet?" George dared to call out to his grieving brother.
The hunched figure started and glanced up to reveal the pale, tired, red-rimmed-eyed, sad face of Percy Weasley.
"Hullo, George. I should ask you the same thing. Or did you decide to close the shop up for the next week?" Percy asked dully as George walked over to stand beside him. George took note of how his older brother had a layer of snow on his brilliant red hair that proved to be the same shade as the twins. One of the few things he had ever had in common with Fred and George.
"Yeah, I decided I'd spread enough festive joy for the year." George said lightly taking a seat in snow. He flinched slightly as the cold cut through his clothes and idly wondered why he didn't bother to melt the snow with a charm before sitting down. However, before he could begin to contemplate the answer to this question, Percy spoke.
"George, I...I'm sorry. I didn't tell you that, did I?" He asked in strangled voice.
"Hmmm. No, I'm pretty sure you apologized enough to the entire family for turning your back on us."
"No...I mean for...for Fred!"
"Oh, no I guess..." George honestly couldn't think of anything intelligent to say to this, so he let his half-finished sentence trail off and be lost in the wind. For once, he realized, he wasn't waiting for Fred to finish for him, as he had done only too often since the Final Battle.
Percy gazed at George for a moment, then, sensing that George wasn't waiting for Fred out of habit, continued to speak again, "I'm sorry, I should have done something. I was right there, he was laughing, I'm his brother...I just should have...I don't know but..." Percy couldn't finish.
George remained silent and continued to stare at the tombstone that was all that was left of his twin.
Percy decided to try again, "Maybe if I had come back sooner, it wouldn't have happened, or if I hadn't let him duel on the seventh floor, or if I had been paying attention, or I should have pushed him out of the way, I would be six feet under now instead of him, and you wouldn't be here right now and --"
"Oh shut up Weatherby."
Mouth open and at a loss for words at the resurrection of this old name, Percy simply stared at George, who smiled sadly at him. Percy blinked quickly and checked again. No, it wasn't a smirk. This only shocked Percy further.
"For someone who's such a grammar freak, you sure were talking in a run-on sentence right then." George said in a very quiet un-George-like voice. Percy had to strain to hear, because his words were almost lost in the wind like his earlier un-finished sentence.
They were silent for several more heartbeats, every moment stretching out to feel like eternity. George pondered at how Fred would laugh at the cliche' feelings they were experiancing now.
Finally George broke the silence, "I don't blame you, it should never have been you, either. Fred wouldn't have wanted that. As for all this 'maybe' stuff, just drop it. It was war, things like this happen, as unfair as they are. Life isn't fair, we all know that. If we keep going on about 'maybe this, maybe that' we can't live. Maybe if Rookwood hadn't shown up at that exact time, Fred wouldn't have died, but maybe Bill would have gotten killed out on the grounds. Maybe if I had been on that side of the castle, at that secret entrance, then maybe we'd both be laughing back at the shop, but maybe Lee wouldn't be. Maybe we would both be dead, maybe, maybe maybe." George finished his monologue and locked gazes with his brother, who's eyes were welling with tears that would freeze the moment they fell. George wasn't crying.
Percy suppressed the onslaught of sobs he felt stirring inside him. He fought the pain in his heart and managed to choke out in a weak voice, "George, how...how do you keep going? Of all of us...never once...cried"
In all honesty, Percy hadn't expected an answer. George hadn't spoken about Fred to anyone, except to make them ('them' usually meaning Harry) stop feeling guilty. Therefore, he was once more amazed when George began to speak, to honestly answer his question. Percy had thought that if of all of them, George would talk to Ginny first. He knew the twins had a soft spot for her, they all did. The last person he expected George to share anything with was him, they had never been on the best speaking terms, and Percy had never been the twins favorite brother. As such, he listened intently when George spoke his words of wisdom that could only come from someone who knew Fred best.
"How do I keep going? Because that's what he would have wanted. Yeah, that's what you expect to hear isn't it?" George paused to glance at Percy before continuing, he had taken up stairing at the stone again, "But that's not just it. I could cry, and I could mope, but I'm closer to him when I laugh. Think about it. He spent most of the time laughing and pranking, if I cried, it would be an insult to his memory. If I laugh, then I'm keeping his memory alive in the true sense of who he was. It also means that it keeps the little part of him that I still have, well, him.
"He didn't die so we could cry, he died so we could live. But, he wouldn't want me just living for him. He'd want me to live for myself, which is what I'm doing. I can't let his memory get me down. We'll see each other again someday, and until then, I'm going to live my life like I would have if he'd lived. I'm going to fulfill my dream, which luckily happens to be the same as his so I can do both, keep alive his memory and live my life. In a way, I am living for him, but I'm living for how he wanted me to live, the way I wanted to. It's kind of half and half, a bit of both, just like the two us were -- no, just like the two of us are.
"Yeah, a part of me died with him. A big part, but there's still a part of me that's alive in me, too. A part of me that knows how to laugh and joke. There's also a part of Fred in me, and he's in you, Perce. How could he not be? You spent 18 years in our presence. He lives on in every one of us, and cliche' as that is, I feel it's something worth living for."
George finished his speech defiantly, determination blazing in his eyes. Percy now understood his little brother so much better. They had all thought George was living for Fred, so Fred could live through him. They were wrong. George was living for both of them, Fred as much as himself, perhaps more for himself. It didn't make him selfish, it just meant that he knew he had to keep going, and he knew how to do so.
Percy sighed, his eyes still glazed over and glassy with wetness, his cheeks frozen from the wind and icy tears.
"Don't tell me you're still depressed after I just told you what I would never tell another soul?" George asked exasperated.
Shaking his head, Percy said very quietly, "I can't think of a happy memory of Fred...do you know why?" George simply shook his head, so Percy continued, "Because you two spent too much time disrupting me, not listening to me as Prefect and Head Boy, locking me in a Pyramid, stealing my books so I couldn't read, pulling pranks on me. You never let up."
George stared at Percy, pure disbelief etched on his face. Eventually, he managed to form words, "You...You're depressed...because we pulled pranks on you...for the benefit of seeing people laugh and smile?"
"That sounds about right."
George stared at Percy a moment longer, and his gaze turned thoughtful and measured. Then he burst out laughing. Percy couldn't help but smile and soon the two of them were rolling around in the foot-deep snow, howling with laughter. It was a long while before they could honestly look at each other without slipping into a fit of laughter that set the chain off again. When they were finally composed enough to look one another in the eye, George gave Percy a fleeting smile before turning to the stone and gripping it so he could hoist himself to his feet.
"C'mon Perce, let's get home and get Mum to make us some hot cocoa. My legs are too numb to Apparate properly, so you'll have to help us out a bit." George informed him. Indeed they had been sitting in the snow so long that every part of them felt horribly numb...all except for their hearts, which seemed to have thawed a little from the pangs of loneliness they'd been feeling since the Final Battle.
Percy obliged and using the hand that George offered to him, pulled himself to his very cold feet. George threw his arm over Percy's shoulder in a brotherly gester that was, though unexpected, not unwelcomed. Percy slung his arm over George's shoulder, which was easier for him because George was a fair amount shorter (being a short Weasley where as Percy was a tall Weasley).
Together the brothers managed their way through the cemetary, joking and laughing as they did so. When they reached the gates, George smirked and said, "Wait until spring, Perce. Then Fred will get to find out that he was buried under a tree the blooms pink flowers. You know, because pink and flowers are so manly."
Percy wouldn't help but crack another smile, "Excellent choice of placing, George. But don't forget you'll be next to him one of these days."
George replied in a serious voice, "No, because when mytime comes, I'm going to charm the tree to have permanent orange flowers, or red. Maybe red and gold, you know, for Gryffindor."
"I'm not sure that's possible...gold flowers?"
"You forget who you're talking too, I excel at impossible.
"Right, I forgot."
Finally the unlikely duo pushed open the gates they had bee paused at for awhile now. As they did, George turned back to look at the gravestone that really wasn't all that was left of his twin. It was just a stone, the real Fred Weasley was kept alive by the laughs and memories of his family and of his friends.
Quite suddenly, George was possessed to wish his twin a Happy Christmas, so he called out, "Happy Christmas, Fred. Don't drink too much of that heavenly eggnogg, though I do expect some interesting Christmas stories once I get up there!"
Percy smiled and called out, "Don't do anything to embarrassing, Fred! Lest you wish to be on the receiving ends of my jokes once I join you!"
George winked at the gravestone before turning to look at Percy, "Oh, and you can joke? Well, I'd think that the threat of hearing any of yourjokes would be cause enough to keep anyone from doing something stupid, even under the influence of -ah- questionable drinks."
"My jokes aren't that bad!" Percy replied indignatly. And George just shook his head, tutting as he did so.
The wind that had been blowing fiercely let up for a few short moments in which a voice so like George's could be heard saying joyfully, "Cheers, Holey, Weatherby! Do bother to hideously embarrass yourselves, I could do with a pair of good joking targets for the rest of eternity!"
George stopped dead in his tracks and looked at Percy, who, in turn, looked slightly alarmed.
"Did you just...?" George began.
"Hear Fred?" Percy finished (George found it strange that Percyof all people was finish a sentence for him, but these were unusual circumstances). Percy seemed to have realized what he had done because he shifted slightly and then continued, "Yes, I heard him...and he called me Weatherby!"
George decided to make a joke of the whole thing, unsure whether the two of them were delusional or not, "Well, you'll always be Weatherby to us." Percy glanced at him reproachfully, but George didn't let him say anything and finished his thought, "Because you wouldn't be our brother if you weren't."
Percy blinked gratefully at George. Once again they found themselves in a comfortable silence as they overlooked the cemetery and shut the iron gates behind them that did not, as usual, make that eerie creaking sound.
George and Percy glanced at eachother and in silent agreement decided it was time to leave. Just before they apparated, George said, "Oh, and Percy, if it was you under that ground, and not Fred, we would have been here today to visit you. He forgave you, I forgive you."
Percy opened his mouth to say something, perhaps to apologize again, but George cut him off as he said for the second time that night, "Oh shut up, Weatherby."
Then, laughing at the look on Percy's face where idignation at being called Weatherby thrice over in the last hour mingled with a simi-amused expression, George spun around, finally heading home. Fred might not be there, but his memory, which was much warmer than a faceless stone, was there at the Burrow with their family.