A/N: I've always wanted to write Fred's funeral, but I didn't know how to approach it. But now, because of some personal circumstances, writing it became inevitable. It could have been a "Moments" chapter, I know, but somehow I felt like this needed to be on its own.
Not Touching Anyone
There is a coffin up there. It's right there, not that much of a distance from Ginny. Just a couple of feet away. A coffin. Containing someone dead. Someone dead is in a coffin. There's nothing unusual about that. It happens. She knows that. It happens. People die.
No. They don't. Not when they've just turned twenty. (They do, though, because this is a war and war doesn't care about people's ages before it kills them.) Not when they are her brother. Not when "they" means Fred Weasley. Fred doesn't die. There is nothing, nothing, normal about that. It's the way it is, though. Her brother is in a coffin. White, like he was when she first saw him lying in the Great Hall, in that horrible row of death. He's probably even whiter by now. All the living colour lost. From Fred.
She wonders if he is cold too. Somehow, she can't stand the fact that he might be cold. (She doesn't bother correcting herself that it doesn't matter if he's turned to ice or flame or is being tortured by the Cruciatus curse, because he's dead and he can't feel anything anymore. Somehow, it's easier not to.)
Death shouldn't be such an ungraspable concept to her. Ginny has seen death. She has lost Sirius, Dumbledore, Mad-Eye. That night, she saw the unseeing eyes of Remus and Tonks. Who had just had a baby. She also saw dead kids. She saw Colin, her friend. She has also spent an entire year imagining all the possible ways the man she loves, her favourite brother and her closest friend could have been murdered, knowing that it was the likely outcome of every day. She shouldn't be so shocked, now. She should be prepared. After all the worrying – shouldn't she be able to at least understand?
But she doesn't. It isn't real. Fred isn't there, in the coffin. Fred is just gone. For the moment. If she doesn't look too far to her left, she can even pretend that he is sitting right there, next to George. Where he should be. Always.
But she shouldn't be imagining. She should be grieving, to reach the desired acceptance. But Ginny doesn't grieve, and she doesn't want to accept anything. She's just numb.
She should be grieving. She should be feeling horrible despair and anguish. After all, this is her brother's funeral. She should be feeling a lot more than this hollow emptiness, shouldn't she? She should be overwhelmed by sorrow. She shouldn't even be able to form coherent thoughts. This isn't right. It just isn't.
She should be too absorbed in her own pain to notice anything going on around her. But Ginny sees the worried glances Harry sends her, through eyes brimming with tears he's trying furiously to bite back. She can tell that his battle is going to be lost, and soon. She is aware enough to debate with herself about if she's going to take his hand or not. She can't decide if she wants to, though. Or if it would help him or just make his fall harder. She isn't sure if she should be craving his comfort or not. It feels like maybe she should, since she loves him and needs him and maybe he'll think she doesn't if she ignores him now. But she's not sure. A part of her just needs to do this alone.
She spends more than a minute debating and it's not right. She shouldn't be focused on something like that. What is happening? She has no idea. She knows that Fred is there in a coffin, cold, and that Harry isn't yet crying. And she knows that she isn't touching anyone. She probably shouldn't even know that much right now. It feels like she's supposed to know nothing at all by this point.
She can't get over the horrible sensation that she is doing this all wrong. That she isn't reacting the way she's supposed to. That she's not grieving enough. Sure, she is crying. Tears are dropping down on her knees, and she has to wipe her finger discreetly under her nose a couple of times, hoping that no one notices (but she shouldn't be caring about that either anymore, should she, because nothing matters because Fred is dead). Yes, she is crying, but that doesn't mean anything. Anyone can cry. Every person in the room seems to be bawling their eyes out. She was (is?) his sister. It's different.
Yet, she isn't crying like she's his sister. She's crying like she's not even here, only a spectator, mildly affected by the atmosphere of despair, but only in a way that will pass within at least a month. She's crying like it's someone else's brother, like it's someone else's family who's been ripped apart permanently. But it's not. It's not.
It's not fair. Bloody unfair, actually. Their family has been so close, so many times before. Now, the worrying is over. Ron and Harry are miraculously still alive (even though Harry actually did die for a brief period, which she still can't quite get over), Percy has made an unexpected return andnearly all of them survived the battle that took so many lives. Voldemort is gone now. They are safe. But, the problem is – only nearly all of them made it. It's not enough. And it's bloody unfair. They had been so close to making it through this war, always narrowly escaping. Why the hell did their family's luck have to run out just when they were so close?
Maybe she should be angry. At who? The world, perhaps. Voldemort, but he's dead and gone now, so what's the point? Death Eaters? They're gone too, many dead, the rest in Azkaban. What's the point? Ginny's not angry, and that scares her. She's Ginny Weasley and she's always managed anger. It's her way of dealing. But, right now, she doesn't seem able to deal at all.
She feels the shudder that goes through George beside her, even if they're not touching. A part of her wants to reach out for him, stretch out a hand and grab his violently shaking one. Ginny knows better than to look straight at him, but out of the corner of her eye she sees the water running unnoticed from his dull, staring eyes. She forces down a sob that almost rises in her throat at the mere thought of him. George. Just George. And she can't touch him. Suddenly she sees herself with her arms around the distressed Fred, last year, after George had lost his ear. Things were different then. Her job was only to get him inside to his twin. She knows how to help the two of them. She has absolutely no idea how to comfort George alone. Her hand should be moving, but it's not. She can't.
Ginny watches in painful relief as her sobbing mother pulls herself out of her husband's embrace enough to take George's hand herself. He seems to barely notice, but Ginny can feel his shoulders relaxing, if only a little bit. She hates herself for still not being able to reach out for her brother's other hand.
Involuntarily, she turns abruptly when she hears the gasp from her other side. Harry has now lost his fight, and she sees the water flooding steadily down his cheeks, despite his efforts to hide them. Somehow, she's relieved that he's at least stopped looking at her. But she hates herself for still not being able to lean into him, or take his hand, or anything that includes touching him. She just can't, even if she knows that he needs her now, and that he doesn't have anyone else. Hermione, on his other side, has her full attention focused on Ron (who is looking ready to either pass out or throw up at any second), steadily rubbing his back, her own eyes watery and anguished.
But Ginny is frozen, unable to move. Even as she watches Bill and Fleur at the end of the row, her arms soothingly around him, her oldest brother shaking hard into his wife's embrace, hiding his face in her hair – she can't. Even if she's supposed to need them, to be sharing her grief with them – she just wants to get out of here and get the privacy she's been craving all day. If she only got a moment alone, maybe she'd get a chance to grasp this, to understand. If she didn't have to feel the eyes of sympathetic strangers burning her back, if she didn't have all these people she loves here to worry about. Maybe then she'd be able to feel herself. Maybe then she'd be able to stop this constant flood of thoughts that are getting in the way of her emotions. Because she shouldn't be thinking right now. She should just be feeling, but she can't. Not here. And that's wrong. She shouldn't care about strangers, or if she's doing this right. But she does. And that's wrong.
Even Charlie doesn't seem to bother about people seeing him in this state. He's hiding his face in his hands, which makes his crying all the more obvious to the people behind him than if he'd just kept staring straight ahead, like her. He doesn't care. He's beyond caring. Because he's lost his brother, and he can't care about being strong anymore. No one expects him to. No one expects Ginny to, either. But then why does she try to be so discreet in her attempts to wipe her running nose, cursing herself for not remembering to bring a handkerchief? Why can't she just let go? If Charlie can…
And Percy. Percy who never shows them feelings. His shoulders are trembling so hard that even Charlie notices. Charlie doesn't even have to look up to know. He simply removes one of his hands from his face, placing it on his younger brother's knee. Ginny's heart almost breaks at the whimper escaping Percy's throat at the touch. But she still isn't making a sound herself. Her crying is under control. Mute.
The noise seems to have awoken Hermione from her dazed staring at Ron, though. A quick glance around and she notices Harry's bowed head. Ginny turns hastily away as she feels her friend's concerned gaze on herself. She stares at the coffin again, without seeing it. Instead, she's overwhelmed by guilt. Because she's supposed to get through this with Harry. They're supposed to be helping each other. But she can't.
It's a while before she dares to move her eyes again, but when she does, Hermione has turned back to Ron, whose eyes are now almost as tightly shut as his mouth. Something has changed, though. The hand that Hermione isn't using to repeatedly rub small circles on Ron's back has grabbed Harry's. He's still staring at the floor, and still crying, but Ginny thinks she can hear a slight ease in his breathing.
Somehow, that's what does it for her. Her mum has taken care of George. Hermione has seen Harry's need. She doesn't have to do anything. And, suddenly, it hits her like a crushing blow to the stomach. Fred is dead. She'll never see him again, or talk to him, or even be able to just hear his name which she has spoke so carelessly often before. His name. "Fred and George". No. Now it's just George. They'll never be mixed up again. She'll never be able to take pride in that she's one of the very few who always can (could!) tell them apart. Because there's just George.
She feels like she's choking. Fred is in a coffin, up there, and she'll never see him again. Fred – her brother – is dead.
And she doesn't care that she's not touching anyone or if that's wrong. Because her brother – Fred – is gone.
A/N: Please let me know what you thought of this.
If anyone is interested, MBP and I have posted the second chapter of Near Fatal Accidents, which I kind of referred to a little in here with the bit about Ginny and Fred after George lost his ear. I strongly recommend that if you like my writing, or hers.