Ron had an orange Quidditch jersey, his favorite one, which sported the Chudley Cannons' hallmark. I hated that hideous jersey and the perpetual shade of bright, carroty orange that colored it.
Mum and Dad had bought him the blasted thing when he was eleven years old. Having never gained much weight over the years, Ron continued to wear it every summer he got the chance. I never quite understood my parents' thinking on the matter. That carroty orange was a horrible contrast to his red hair.
Fred stole it one day, before Ron set off on his little quest with Harry and Hermione.
I found it under his bed the day I was helping George clean out their room, which was now only his own. Holding it up to George with a sad smile, I remembered that one brilliant day when Ron went nutters trying to find it.
Fred rushes into the kitchen where I'm having a spot of tea before I finish cleaning out some cabinet or another. We're the only two in the room and he's grinning like a madman. I smile in turn, knowing there must be mischief afoot. He waves his prize at me as an explanation, finger pressed to him lips to tell me to be quiet.
"Where is it?" The words are a shout from upstairs; obviously, it's Ron.
I laugh silently, shoulders shaking. I've just realized what Fred has in his hand and it makes my cheeks burn from beaming at him. He tosses the hideous article of clothing toward me and I seize it from the air above me. Ironically, the part I catch has a snitch on it.
I giggle at my brother as he imitates Ron in his frantic search of the jersey. He lumbers about the kitchen slowly, looking something like a gorilla, and pulls open random drawers in his "search." I snicker, still not wanting Ron to hear us.
We halt our silly mocking as the sound of frantic footsteps on stairs reaches us. I swiftly toss the shirt to Fred, who safely tucks it away in a drawer filled with dusty silverware. I make a note to clean out the drawer at a later time as I sit down to finish my tea. It's cold now, making me scrunch up my nose in distaste.
Fred takes a seat next to me innocently and flicks his wand at my cuppa. It warms instantly, and I smile as I take a sip. Fred picks up the Quibbler and begins to read just when Ron bursts into the room. My smile widens at the incredibly anxious look on my older brother's face.
"H-Have either of you seen it?" he stammers, out of breath.
"What's that, Ronniekins? Your dignity? I swear it was just here earlier today," Fred replies, face still buried in the pages of the Quibbler.
I snort at the witty quip, covering it as a cough when Ron shoots me a funny look.
"No, you prat! My lucky jersey!"
I wonder why, all of a sudden, this jersey is lucky, but decide to keep the question to myself. It was hard enough not to laugh at his distressed mood without him adding to it by telling some ridiculous story that somehow proved the infallible auspiciousness of his shirt. My brother is quite the superstitious nut when he feels the need.
"No, Ronald, I haven't a clue where it could be."
The funny thing is, despite his proper tone, Fred sounds like he's telling the truth. He always calls his youngest brother Ronald when he's lying. I find this quite useful in some situations. Now, however, it's just funny.
"Perhaps you should pose an inquisition on my lovable twin for the whereabouts of said lucky jersey," he continues, tone still proper.
I stand and retrieve a biscuit from the cabinet, trying to find a way to hide my grin and keep my mouth busy. The mention of the younger of the twins makes me wonder where George is as well.
"How about you, Gin?" Ron asked. "Do you know where the bloody thing is?"
"No, I most certainly do not, Ron."
"Damn." He gives a huff and leaves the kitchen.
Fred and I are completely still until we hear his footsteps ascend the stairs and fade away. I look at him and he returns the gesture, his bright blue eyes twinkling. We burst into riotous laughter, remembering the look on his face. I cling to the counter top to keep standing, the laughter rolling through my body hysterically. When we finally calm down, there are tears in Fred's eyes.
"I'm gonna miss that idiot."
We both look away as the kitchen door swings open. George enters with a confused look on his face and a mess of rumpled red bed hair atop his head. He's obviously only just woken up, despite the late morning hour. "What's all this about a lucky shirt?"
I retrieve the blasted thing from the counter drawer and toss it to Fred, who holds it up for his twin's inspection. We recount the tell for his benefit and the three of us end up laughing again as Fred mirrors the ridiculous look on Ron's face.
I snapped out of my reverie at the sound of a sob. My attention snapped to George, who only looked as wretched as he had for weeks now. No tears wet his cheeks. I realized suddenly that the sob had escaped from my own throat as I clutched the shirt to my bosom. I shook with sobs, harder than the laughter I'd shaken with that one clear day before the world crashed.
George held me while I cried into Ron's hideous shirt, all the while missing Fred. Somehow, I couldn't bring myself to say I hated that shirt. I couldn't hate the orange hue. I didn't even hate the Chudley Cannons, even though I loved the Holyhead Harpies. All of these things made up that day in the kitchen. All of these things made up my favorite memory of Fred.
I couldn't bring myself to give Ron back his "lucky jersey," either. I had more of a claim to it now, as it were. I kept the blasted thing tucked away in one of my drawers until little Freddy, George's son, turned three.
We both cried when I slipped the too-big shirt on the little boy. Ron, however, was not so emotional.
"Is that my lucky jersey?"
Despite myself, I smiled and I knew Fred was smiling, too.