Disclaimer: I own nothing Harry Potter related. It all belongs to JKR and Warner Bros and all of those lucky bastards…
Author's Note: This is my very first slash fanfic that is neither Snarry nor Drarry. Please be gentle!
When Harry James Potter awoke on December fourth in the year 2000, his first instinct was to roll over and go back to sleep. One look out the window told him it was another cold, grey, snowy day in London. However, Ron and Hermione were coming over that morning. So, with a sigh he pulled himself out of bed and trudged into the bathroom to relieve his bladder and take care of other such morning duties.
After a quick shower, he dressed and made his way to the kitchen, where a fresh pot of coffee awaited him. He poured himself a cup and inhaled the delicious aroma, thanking whatever deity for the man who invented the timed brewer.
A rapid tapping on his window announced the arrival of the morning paper. He let the poor owl inside, along with a frigid burst of winter air, and again reminded himself to sign up for the door-to-door delivery service. He allowed the creature to perch on his mantle and warm herself by the fire for a while, giving her a gracious helping of treats, before duty called once more and she had to leave.
He sat at the kitchen table with his coffee and The Daily Prophet and read through the various reports. Three more Death Eater trials and convictions… it was hard to believe that after two and a half years they still hadn't apprehended them all. The latest attempt at an uprising was quashed before it had time to gain any kind of momentum. And, of course, there were the usual tabloids speculating on his personal life.
He sighed. People were still wondering why he chose to live in the muggle world. And why he didn't become an auror. And why he still hadn't found a nice witch or wizard to settle down with.
The latest story going around was that the amount of magic he used to defeat Voldemort drained him, rendering him a squib. If only they knew how wrong that was…
Since he defeated Voldemort, his magic had spiked. He only had to think the spell for it to work. No wand, no words, just raw magic. And when he was upset… well, it was sometimes borderline painful to get his magic back under control.
A soft ding announced the use of his floo and the arrival of his two best friends.
"Harry?" Hermione called.
"Kitchen!" he called back.
They walked into the room and sat down at the table. He folded his paper and set it aside, looking at them expectantly. "Now what is it that you needed to talk about? And why couldn't it wait until a less unholy hour?"
"First of all, it's ten o'clock," Hermione said, grinning, "Normal people are awake right now."
"And second of all," Ron continued soberly, "It's George."
Harry sighed, sensing a headache coming on. It was simply too early for this.
"What is it now?" he asked.
"Just the usual," Hermione said.
"Except now he's refusing to even see anybody," Ron stated, "Nobody can figure out how to get through to him! He just sits up in that flat and tries to drink himself to death!"
"Which brings us to why we came to you," Hermione said, "We'd like you to talk to him."
"And why do you think I'll be able to get through to him where his own family couldn't?" he asked.
"Because… you've lost more to that madman than anybody else," Ron replied, "If anybody understands what he's going through, it's you."
"But- you've all lost brothers and sons and friends… you understand just as well," Harry said.
"George didn't just lose brother. He lost his twin," Hermione explained, "Their entire lives, they were 'Fred and George'. One entity in two bodies. Their own mother could barely tell them apart. The only one who ever identified them as individuals was you."
Harry sighed. "I can try."
They smiled appreciatively.
"But don't get disappointed if I fail," he added.
"We won't. It's enough that you're going to try, mate," Ron said.
"So… do you have any plans for tonight?" Hermione asked.
"Besides going over to speak with George? Not particularly," Harry replied, "What about you guys?"
"Dinner with Ginny and Neville," Ron said, sounding less than enthusiastic about it.
Harry laughed, making Hermione scowl. "Honestly, 'Mione… you have to admit that they are one of the most sickeningly sweet couples you've ever seen!"
"Second only to Lavender and 'Won-Won'!" Hermione quipped.
Ron groaned. "I thought we agreed to never speak of that!"
She laughed. "Just remember that Ginny is your sister and Neville is your friend and that you only want them to be happy. And they are. Okay?"
"Yeah, I know…" Ron sighed.
Hermione smiled and shook her head.
"Hey, do you guys want to go get some breakfast? I don't much feel like cooking," Harry said.
"We've already eaten…" Hermione said.
"But we'd love to! I'm starving!" Ron exclaimed.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "I swear he'd eat through all of his money if he could."
"Don't worry. My treat," Harry said.
"It'd better be," she said, mock glaring.
After breakfast, they parted ways. Harry said he'd call them to let them know how went with George and made his way back to his flat. He saw a nice sit-down with the telly in his future.
On the way back, he mused over what Ron had requested of him. What on earth could he do to snap George out of his depression? Talking obviously wasn't working. Of course, if anybody tried talking to him about his parents or Sirius or Dumbledore or Remus… he would have just gotten more upset. After all, none of them knew exactly how he felt. They weren't him, so how could they?
Had anybody ever tried just listening? Of course, then there's the question of how to get George to talk. Remus had always gotten him to talk by bringing up old memories. But sometimes that just made it even more painful. Dumbledore… Dumbledore had had the best method. He'd just ask him what was on his mind and sit patiently while Harry vented all of his worries and frustrations.
He smiled at the memory of his mentor, pulling his scarf up to shield his face from the harsh wind. He was never so grateful for the long, black wool coat that Hermione had gotten him the previous Christmas as he was on this day.
Just as he reached his building, he heard the click of a camera shutter and sighed, turning to greet whatever paparazzi was waiting for him. However, the person standing there smiling was Dennis Creevey. He grinned at the young man.
"Heya, Harry!" Dennis exclaimed, walking over to him.
"Hullo, Dennis. It's been a while, hasn't it?" Harry said.
"Too long, if you ask me," Dennis replied, "So, how've you been?"
Harry grinned. "As much as I love the snow, I'd prefer a place that's a bit- warmer. Would you like to come up?"
His face lit up at the invitation and he nodded fervently, making Harry chuckle. Same old Creevey enthusiasm.
"You can hang your coat there, by the door," Harry said when they entered his home.
"Wow… this place is huge!" Dennis said, following Harry into the sitting room.
"Money's never really been an issue," he replied, "Have a seat."
"So… you really are living as a muggle? Just like the papers said?" Dennis asked, eyeing the television and house phone.
"Sort of. The fireplace is connected to the floo network and I still get post by owl," Harry said, "But I like to do a lot of things the muggle way."
"You're not a squib, then?"
He laughed. "Not at all."
To demonstrate, he summoned a book from the shelf across the room.
"Wow! Wandless magic! You really must be the most powerful wizard in the world!" Dennis said in awe.
Harry blushed and decided it was time for a change of subject. "You graduated earlier this year, didn't you? What have you been up to since then?"
"Right now I'm just doing some freelance photography and an internship with the Quibbler. Luna's really turned it around since she took over. It's much more respectable. And it's gaining popularity every day!"
"That doesn't seem like a very steady paycheck," Harry said, grinning, "Trying it as a starving artist type?"
Dennis laughed. "Not really. I also work at the coffee house down the street. Actually, I was at work when I spotted you walking past." He blushed and chuckled nervously. "That sounds a bit like I'm stalking you, doesn't it?"
"No. I understand. So, how much is a picture of me going for these days?" Harry asked, truly curious.
"A lot," Dennis replied seriously, "They're pretty hard to come by, you see…"
"I try to keep a low profile," he said, "But since you're a friend, I don't mind if you snap one of me every so often. After all, you work right up the street and I pass by that place pretty often."
Dennis smiled, practically bursting with excitement. "Do you mean it? Man, that would be a huge help! It would seriously boost my chances of going pro sooner!"
"Really? Then maybe I'll give you one of those anonymous tips," he said, smirking, "And tell you that if you hang around Renaldi's Bistro on Saturday around… twelve-thirty, you might snap one that'll make you infamous."
"What's that?" Dennis asked.
"Harry Potter having lunch with former arch-rival, Draco Malfoy!"
"No! Seriously? But you two hated each other so much!"
"Time to grow up, I suppose," he shrugged, "Besides, he runs a lot of the charities that I donate to. It's partially business."
"You sure have changed, Harry," Dennis said.
"You think so?"
"Yeah…" Dennis said with a flash of teeth, "But it's a good change. Like… you're more comfortable in your own skin."
"Well, thanks. I think?" he said, making the young man laugh, "So, anything else new? Got a girlfriend?"
"Is that a yes?"
"No… I mean- not really…" he said, "The thing is… I'm not really- into girls…"
"Really?" Harry said, surprised, "Then… have you got a boyfriend?"
Dennis looked at him strangely. "It doesn't freak you out? You don't think I'm gross?"
"Why would I? Listen, the world is a lot more open to homosexual relationships than you think. And the wizarding community is even more so. It's perfectly normal," Harry explained.
"Really?" Dennis said.
"Well, yeah! I know a lot of gay guys. Seamus and Dean are together, did you know?" Harry said, "And Charlie Weasley and- you did not hear this from me- so is Draco."
"Wow… I never would have guessed," Dennis said.
"So, nobody ever had this talk with you, either, huh?" Harry said.
"No. I never brought it up to any… wait. Me 'either'?" Dennis said.
Harry smiled warmly. "Yep. Me, too. Did I forget to mention that?"
"Yeah. You did," Dennis said, grinning.
"Well… it's not something I like to spread around. I figured it out just a few months after… you know. It's why Ginny and I never got back together," he said, "I had to get 'the talk' from Arthur and Molly Weasley. You can just imagine how awkward that was." He laughed.
"What kinds of things did they tell you?" Dennis asked.
"To be careful and always use protection and birth control spells," Harry said, "That's the less embarrassing version anyway."
"Birth control? But- if we're both guys…" Dennis stated.
Harry chuckled. "That's what I said. But wizards can get pregnant by another wizard."
"How?!" Dennis exclaimed.
Harry blushed. "You're really going to make me explain, aren't you?" He sighed and steeled himself. "First of all, are you a bottom or a top?"
"I- I don't know…" Dennis stuttered.
"When you fantasize, which are you?" he asked.
"B-bottom…" Dennis said quietly.
"Alright… so- basically what happens is- the… seed is absorbed by the- er… anal walls and you body creates a magical- womb," Harry explained, feeling that his face was on the brink of spontaneous combustion, "You'd have to get a Cesarean, or a C-section, because there is no birth canal, but it's not any less painful than it is for a woman. Yes, you do gain weight, and get the baby belly, and the odd cravings, and, yes, even the mood swings. Just like women. Can we stop now? Do you have any questions? Please say you don't."
"Which are you?" Dennis asked.
"What?" Harry said.
"Which are you?" Dennis repeated, "Top or bottom?"
Harry blinked a few times, still not believing what he was hearing.
"I promise not to tell anybody. I'm just curious," Dennis said, his eyes pleading.
"I'm- a bottom…"
"Really? That's difficult to picture," Dennis stated, brows furrowed.
"You shouldn't be trying to picture it!" Harry exclaimed.
They looked at each other for a moment before bursting into laughter, breaking the awkward tension that inevitable followed 'the talk'.
"So… I hope you don't this is an impertinent question, but… how does it feel?" Dennis asked.
"How does what feel?"
"Oh, honestly! Sex! How does sex feel?" Dennis laughed, "You're so dense!"
Harry grinned. "I wouldn't know. Never had it."
Dennis' eyes widened. "Really?"
"Yes, really, and that doesn't leave this room," Harry said.
"I won't tell anybody, I promise!" Dennis said.
Harry smiled. "No, no significant other to speak of… got your eye on anybody in particular?"
"Yeah…" Dennis said, blushing, "His name's Rick and he works at The Quibbler as a reporter."
"I see… have you approached him at all?" Harry asked.
"No! Merlin, no! I don't even know if he's… y'know… if he likes guys…" Dennis said, "But he's really smart and funny and handsome and he likes my photography! He's even taken me with him on a few interviews."
"But you've never told him how you feel or asked him to grab lunch or a cup of coffee or anything?" Harry said. Dennis shook his head. "Why not? Go for it, mate!"
"I can't! What if he says no or he has a girlfriend? It'd be too embarrassing!" Dennis said.
"What if he says yes and really likes you?" Harry countered.
Dennis just sighed.
"Alright, how about this… when are you going to be at The Quibbler next?" Harry asked.
"Tomorrow, why?" Dennis replied.
"Because… I'm going to take you to lunch. And scope out Rick for you," Harry said.
"You don't have to do that," Dennis said.
Harry laughed. "Don't worry… I'm not going to scare him off. I'm just going to ask him to lunch with us. It'll be less awkward if it's a group thing and it'll give you a chance to get to know him on a more personal level, rather than just a professional one."
Dennis sighed in relief. It would be easier to talk to Rick with Harry there as a social buffer. "Alright, I suppose that would be fun…"
"That's the spirit!" Harry said.
"Since we're on the subject," Dennis stated, "Do you have any love interests?"
Not a one," Harry said.
"Why not?" Dennis asked.
"I don't know. I guess nobody's really caught my eye…" he said, shrugging, "I don't really meet new people."
"Why is that?" Dennis said.
"Because it's hard to tell if they're really interested in me as a person, or me as the 'Savior of the World'…"
"Oh… well, you'll never know if you never give anybody a chance," Dennis said.
Harry grinned. "Maybe you're right. But I'm happy with my life right now. If I eventually meet someone that I'm interested in romantically, that's great. However, I see no reason to actively seek out a relationship."
"Are you sure you're happy?" Dennis asked, eyeing him suspiciously.
"I'm positive!" he laughed.
"Well… I should probably get going. I told my boss I'd be back soon and…" he looked at his watch, "I'll be lucky if I even have a job!"
"Is your boss witch or muggle?" Harry asked.
"Muggle-born wizard," Dennis replied, putting his coat on.
"Then just tell him you were talking to Harry Potter," he said, grinning.
"Are you sure it's okay to use your fame like that?" Dennis asked.
"Usually, it's not. But in this case, it's an exception," Harry said, "After all, it was my fault. I'm the one who invited you in and made you lose track of time."
"Thanks a lot," Dennis said, "See you later, Harry!"
"Bye, Dennis. Don't forget about lunch tomorrow!" Harry called as he shut the door.
He looked at the clock. Still a while before he planned to go see George… what to do until then? He seated himself on the sofa, summoning one of his favorite books, and settled in for a quiet afternoon.
Eventually, the time came for him to leave. He quickly gathered some Pepper-Up potions and the special surprise he wanted to bring George, grabbed his coat and scarf, and flooed to The Leaky Cauldron. From there, he walked to the Weasley's Wizard Wheezes shop and up to the flat above it.
"George?" he said loudly, knocking on the door.
"Who is it?" came a groggy voice from within.
"It's Harry. Can I come in?" he asked.
There was silence.
"George, let me in," he said.
Still, silence was the only answer he received.
"I guess I'll just let myself in…" he muttered to himself.
There were a series of complicated locking and warding spells on the door, but Harry breezed through them with little effort. He stepped into the spacious apartment and first thought was that it didn't look like anybody even lived there anymore. All furniture and pictures and decorations had been completely removed, leaving the place looking bare and depressing.
"George?" he said, closing the door behind him.
The read-headed man peered around the corner from the kitchen. "How the hell did you get in?"
"Easily," Harry lauged, "Don't worry, though. Your wards are more than adequate for most people."
He walked into the kitchen and found what looked like a sea of empty bottles. 'Well…' he thought, 'At least it looks lived in…'
"Okay, then… why are you here?" George asked.
"One good guess," Harry replied, raising an eyebrow.
"Ron asked you to come," George said.
"Bingo!" Harry said, chuckling, "They said you were refusing to see anybody."
"Well, yeah! I'm tired of them always fussing over me. I'm perfectly f-fine!" George stated, grabbing a bottle of Firewhiskey and stumbling into the empty sitting room.
"I can see that…" Harry said skeptically, following him.
"Oh, not you, too!" George exclaimed, flopping down onto the soft carpet, "I suppose you're here to tell me how Freddy would have wanted me to a happy life. And how you understand what I'm going through and how I need to stop drinking and take better care of myself."
Harry sat down across from him, crossing his legs. "Not at all. I'm simply here to give you a little care package and to listen if you feel like talking."
George scoffed disbelievingly.
"Look… I'm not about to tell you what Fred would have wanted. I'm not him and nobody will ever know what would want you to do because he's not here to say. I'm not going to tell you to stop drinking because you're an adult and you can make your own decisions," Harry said, sighing, "But- out of everybody, I think I do understand what you're going through. At least, more than most."
"How can you understand?" George said, taking a huge drink straight from the bottle.
Harry handed him one of the potions. "I want you sober for this conversation." When he downed the entire thing and set aside the bottle, Harry continued. "I lost both of my parents when I was a baby. I grew up in a loveless household where I was neglected and verbally abused at every opportunity and I didn't even have memories of a happier time to comfort myself. I lost Sirius, my Godfather and last chance at a happy family, and Remus, the last remaining connection to my parents. I lost Dumbledore, the closest thing I ever had to a father figure. And I lost friends. Fred was among them. Now, I've never lost a twin, or even a brother, so no, I don't know exactly what that feels like. But… but I do know what it feels like to have a part of your soul that you've lived with all you life ripped away. I know it is to feel empty and lost, like you're missing something vital. To feel lonely even when you're surrounded by friends and family."
"How could you possibly know all of that?" George said, his head in his hands.
"Because I've lived with it since I killed Voldemort." Harry took a deep breath. "What I'm about to tell you goes no further than this room. I've never even told Ron or Hermione about this. I was a horcrux. When Voldemort tried to kill me as a baby, he transferred a part of his soul into me. I had to sacrifice myself to the killing curse to destroy that piece of him. I survived- and please don't ask how, because you wouldn't believe me if I told you- and then it was just a constant battle to keep myself from self-destructing. However, with time it's gotten easier… having my friends around helped a lot… and now I hardly ever really think about it. You just- find something to live for. You learn to enjoy life again."
George just looked at him in a mixture of awe and pity. Which made him feel extremely uncomfortable.
"Of course, I'm not the one who's supposed to be talking here," he said in an effort to lighten the mood… or get rid of that awful vulnerable feeling.
"I- just don't know what you want me to say," George said, "I'm not as strong as you, Harry. You live with people who hated you and I'm sure it was terrible, but it taught you to be independent. You relied on yourself. I- I've always depended on Fred. We were each other's support system. Without him, I feel like I've got nobody. We were always 'the twins'. Fred and George. Now that it's just George, I don't know what to do with myself." He paused, taking a shaky breath and obviously trying not to cry. "I can't even face my family because I feel like they blame me. Harry, I- I turned away. In the middle of a battle, I turned away from him! It was one second- one second!- and when I turned back, he was just- lying there… and- it's my fault!"
"It's really not, though. Fred could handle himself. He was tough. They were just… a little bit tougher," Harry said.
"I know, alright? I know! But I can't help feeling responsible!" George exclaimed.
"Yeah… if there's one thing I understand, it's feeling guilty over a death that, even though there was ultimately nothing you could have done to prevent it, you still feel you played a part in," Harry said quietly, "But- drinking is not going to make the guilt and sadness and pain go away. And it's certainly not going to bring Fred back."
"I know…" George sniffed, setting his head back in his hands, "I know…"
Harry scooted closer until their sides were touching, offering silent comfort to the distraught man. When George had calmed himself, he brought out his surprise and placed it on the floor in front of him.
"What's that?" George asked.
"See for yourself," Harry replied.
George picked up the large, heavy book and opened the cover. When he saw the seal on the inside, his eyes widened almost comically. "Is this…? Really…?"
"Yep! The Marauders official log book," Harry said proudly, "It's only a copy, though. I've got the original in a high security vault. But… it's got everything in it. All of their pranks, all of the spells and potions that they invented. Even some that they thought up but never attempted or couldn't get the kinks out of." He grinned, nudging George with an elbow. "I know that you haven't come up with any new products in a while and I thought this might inspire you."
"When Fred died, I locked the door to our workroom. I haven't been in there since then…" George stated.
"I don't expect you to jump right back into work or anything," Harry said, "It's just something to think about."
They sat in silence for a bit when Harry's stomach made itself known and he realized he hadn't eaten anything since he'd gotten breakfast with Ron and Hermione.
"What have you been eating?" he asked George.
"Mostly take out. When I do eat, anyway…" George replied sheepishly.
"Do you have any food here?" he said. George just quirked an eyebrow at him. "I suppose you wouldn't, would you? Well, I'm hungry. Since I'm assuming you don't want to go out in public, would you like to come over and I'll make us something? I'm sure it's been a fair while since you've had a home cooked meal."
For a moment George looked as though he might refuse the offer. But then, for the first time since Harry arrived, he smiled. "Sounds good to me."
"Is your floo still active?" Harry asked.
"Yeah. It just won't let anybody in but me," George replied.
"How else would you get your daily serving of alcohol?" Harry joked, standing.
"Haha… alright, funny-man, let's get to this home cooked," George said.
They flooed to Harry's flat, where he took off his coat and scarf and laid it over the back of the chair. "What are you in the mood for?"
"I have no preferences. I'll eat anything," George said.
"Okay, Ron…" he muttered.
"I heard that!" George called, making him laugh.
"How does chicken fettuccini alfredo with breadsticks and steamed vegetables sound?" Harry asked.
"Great! Italian is my favorite," George said, walking over to the bookshelf and perusing its contents. There were a lot of muggle classics, as well as every issue of The Quibbler that had come out in over two years. That made him chuckle. Of course, one of Harry's best friends ran the magazine, so it made sense. What didn't make sense was that Harry owned all of the potions journals written by Severus Tobias Snape. He's have to ask him it sometime. There was probably quite a story behind it.
He finally pulled himself away from the books and looked around. The place was rather cozy, full of soft plush furniture and picture upon picture of Harry's family and friends, including a full Weasley family portrait.
Before he knew it, dinner was ready and Harry called him into the dining room.
"I'm nowhere near as good as your mum, but it should be edible…" he joked.
George sat down and grinned. He took a bite and was honestly surprised. In all the years he'd known Harry, he never figured the guy could cook. "This is amazing! Where'd you learn how to cook?"
"I cooked for the Dursleys all of the time," Harry replied.
"I can tell…" George said, looking at the enormous amounts of food.
Dinner was a friendly affair. They spoke mostly about what was going on in Harry's life and about the past. Harry was glad to see that whenever they spoke of Fred, George was usually smiling or laughing, only falling into that sad, contemplative kind of silence once or twice throughout the entire evening.
When the time came for George to leave, Harry didn't want to see him go. Having George around made everything seem more pleasant, more fun. However, he didn't ask him to stay.
"So… do you think you could stop by again tomorrow?" George asked, "I'd like to talk some more."
Harry smiled excitedly. "Sure! I've just got lunch with Dennis and I'll be over after that?"
George looked at him strangely. "Who's Dennis?"
"Dennis Creevey. From school?" Harry said, "I'm trying to help him get together with a guy he works with. Long story… But I'll be over tomorrow at about one or two, alright?"
George nodded and disappeared in the flames.
Once he was gone, Harry felt oddly disheartened. His large flat seemed even more vast and empty without George there. However, he didn't give himself time to dwell on it as he set about cleaning up after dinner. Once that task was accomplished, he took a shower and dressed for bed, watching a bit of television before finally retiring.
Thinking of the days events and all that tomorrow held in store for him, Harry felt happier than he had in a very long time. He hadn't much time to ponder the cause of that happiness, for sleep took him quickly. And with sleep, came dreams filled with a smiling face, gentle hands, and laughing blue eyes…
Bwahahaha! Wow… Long for a first chapter… I was rather surprised at myself when Dennis Creevey suddenly jumped out of my pen. I mean… where did THAT come from? Talk about a minor freaking character! Lol. But I like him! He's so cute! Anyway… please review! I live off of reviews! I CRAVE them! Until next time, my lovelies!