Disclaimer: I am not the wonderful JK Rowling. Since I am not her, it's obvious that I don't own HP.
"This idiot – " Ron yelled, while he was desperately looking for his cloak.
"I know," Harry said.
"This fool – "
"I agree," Harry answered and looked around, hoping that Hermione would show up, although he knew that she was probably still in her parents' house, blissfully unaware of what was going on.
"Never thinks of anyone else but himself – " Ron went on venting, and Harry had to nod again and again, while they were hurrying outside to Apparate. He knew how unfair it was and he knew that Ron was aware of it, too, but he was just too worried and that rant made him feel better. Feel better? Ha! As if somehow can feel better on this date.
This damned date.
God, how Harry hated this day! He hadn't been able to sleep at all last night, knowing for sure that sleep would have brought them all back – Dumbledore, Remus, Tonks, Colin Creevy… Fred. They would have come to him just like they had once been, smiling friendly, their eyes shining with eagerness, intelligence, and life. And then he would have woken up, dizzy with relief and happiness, only to see them fading away. Better no sleep at all than that.
He had seen Ginny only briefly in the morning. Although she had been trying to act normally, putting a brave mask on, her eyes had been red and puffy. And Ron, when Harry had seen him later in the flat that the two of them shared, had not looked better than her, but then, neither had Harry.
And yet, it he was not the one who had lost a brother exactly two years ago.
Neither was he the one who now had to face the possibility of losing a brother again.
Before they joined the rest of the Weasley family in St. Mungo's halls, Ron stopped for a moment and Harry tried to cheer him up. "He'll be fine, Ron. He is a survivor and you know that. He's young and strong. He'll make it."
"Yes." But Ron's voice held no conviction. Would George survive? Did he want to survive? Why had he drunk all that alcohol, if he hadn't meant to - ? Neither Ron, nor Harry wanted to finish this thought.
Ron sighed and straightened up a bit. "Let's go," he said and the two of them went to find the rest of the Weasley family.
It was worse than they had imagined. Molly was desperately trying not to cry, but she was not very good at it. Arthur did his best to calm her down despite the worry that filled her own eyes. Ginny was weeping openly, holding little brown-haired Teddy in her lap. The kid obviously felt very confused, not realizing what was going on. To think that I took him from one weeping woman only to hand him to the next one, Harry thought. Andromeda Tonks, Teddy's grandmother, took perfectly good care of him, but for the last few days with the approaching anniversary of her husband and daughter's death, she had been feeling so depressed and feeble that she had been forced to give the child to his godfather until she was able to provide adequate care. This morning, Harry had given him to Ginny to take him to the Burrow and get him ready for the celebration and the memorial service at Hogwarts.
Of course, they had never made it to Hogwarts, thanks to the news that George had poisoned himself with all the alcohol that he had consumed.
Did he do it on purpose, Harry wondered. His friend had been looking so much better lately. They had all thought that he had finally started to recover from the awful blow that Fred's death had been for him. Had he just deceived them all? Could George – the daring, joking, mischievous, bold George Weasley – have tried to commit a suicide?
Of course, he was not the old daring, joking, mischievous, bold George Weasley anymore.
Percy looked very worried. Charlie's face bore an expression of mixed concern and fury that he would direct at George as soon as he opened his eyes – oh Merlin, let him open his eyes, Harry thought. No one here can deal with another loss, not now, when we thought everything was over. Bill's expression was very similar to Charlie's, although he seemed to feel a little guilty, too – about what, Harry could never imagine. Fleur, who at that point was heavily pregnant, was fidgeting uncomfortably in her seat. She should be resting in bed, Harry thought. St. Mungo is no place for a woman in her condition.
A few steps away, Lee Jordan, Alicia Spinet, and Katie Bell were whispering among themselves, their faces concerned. They probably felt guilty that they hadn't watched George closely for any symptoms of depression. Angelina Johnson, however, was not present. Since she and George had split up a few weeks earlier, it wasn't too surprising, but anyway, they had been friends for ten bloody years! Couldn't she show at least some concern about would he live or die?
"What do Healers say?" Ron asked Bill.
His eldest brother shrugged. "Basically anything… They just keep repeating that we should wait and see."
Ron sighed. "At least he isn't worse," he said, for both his and Bill's sake.
"Yeah, and that is saying something – "
Harry went to Ginny and Teddy. At seeing him, his godson's face immediately lit up and he held his tiny hands out for him, his hair changing to excited blue. Harry reached for him and took him up, feeling the small body relax against him. He touched Ginny's cheek. "He'll be all right, Ginny," he soothed.
She tried to smile. "I know." Then, she noticed the change in Teddy's hair and sniffed. "I am sorry," she told the toddler. "I really am. I suppose I wasn't a good company, but I'll make it up to you, Teddy Bear. I promise."
But the nickname that George, in his rare moments of almost returning to his old self, had given the baby only made her cry harder and that, in turn, made Teddy's eyes water too. He started fidgeting in Harry's arms and his godfather quickly carried him away, before he could burst in tears, too. There had been too much tears in Teddy's life as it was: Andromeda, Ginny, Hermione, Molly, Harry and Ron – there was not a single one of those who took care of the kid who hadn't been broken by the war.
Teddy had spoken later than most children – he was well over his past birthday, when he had spoken, in the crowded kitchen of the Burrow, his first words, which were, as everyone would remember with guilt and shame, "Don't cry, Grandma Molly."
Now, Harry was looking at him, unable to chase away the ugly thought that kept dancing in his mind, "We all keep saying that it was for you. It really was and it gave you freedom – you and the children like you who will grow without fear. But was it worth it? All we gave you is tears." He looked at Fleur's big stomach and wondered whether all her unborn child would have would be freedom and tears. Was that all the war had been for? He knew, without doubt, that it had been worth it, but sometimes he wondered... just wondered…
With great relief, he noticed Hermione's arrival. She would make things better for Ron during the long waiting that Harry just knew lied ahead of them.
The day continued like this – without any news. George's condition seemed to have been stabilized, they were told, but no one knew whether he would make a recovery or not. And that did not give answer to the question that no one dared to say aloud: had he tried to take his own life away? Depressed both by the anniversary of Fred's death and his recent breakup with Angelina, could he have tried to commit a suicide?
Hermione tried to broach the subject as delicately as she could with Alicia and Katie, but all she received was a deadly glare from both ex-Chasers.
"Um, girls – " Lee tried to intervene.
"Don't 'um, girls' us, Lee!" Alicia snapped. "You know what Hermione is implying and you know that it isn't true."
"I do," he agreed.
"Then tell that to her!"
Lee turned to Hermione. "It's true, Hermione," he said. "I don't know what happened, but I am sure that George didn't do it on purpose. He was much better."
"Yes." But Hermione's voice was doubtful.
"He was," Lee insisted. "He and Angelina were happy, they were in love and they had everything to live for."
It was the first time when someone had voiced the suspicion that had been nagging all of them.
"Oh really?" Ginny asked, angrily wiping her tears off. "Where is she then? Why isn't she here?"
Her concern was turning into fury and the absent Angelina was a good target for it.
"She had to leave a few days ago," Katie explained. "Her grandmother in USA was not feeling good."
Ginny relented, but she was still unconvinced about George. "And you think it's a coincidence that he poisons himself with drinking just after the two of them split up?"
Lee shrugged. "George wasn't that concerned. About the breakup, I mean. He was angry with her, but he never took their separation for final."
"Then why did he do it?"
Her brother's best friend sighed. "I don't know, Ginny. I don't have any answers. The only thing I know is that George didn't try to end his life. To drink himself into stupor- yes, easily. But not the… the other thing. Something must have gone terribly wrong."
The calm conviction in his voice suddenly made everyone relax a bit. If everyone could say what George was thinking and feeling, it was Lee. He would have known if George had gone worse and if he was sure that it had been an accident – well, then it must have been an accident, right?
"I need coffee," Ginny announced, and Percy left to gather the black liquid that everyone needed. Desperately. Charlie grinned broadly, and Molly looked at Lee with gratitude. Then, a small intake of breath drew her attention to Fleur, who was smiling bravely, but not enough convincingly to delude her mother in-law.
"How often do they come?" Molly asked softly, sitting next to Fleur.
"Five minutes," Fleur answered, her voice holding fear, excitement, relief that someone had finally noticed that she was in labour, and horror. "I didn't want to give birth on this date, but – "
"Dear, it is not up to you," Molly said gently. For a moment, she felt glad to push her worry for George aside and instead concentrate on the frightened child in front of her. "Come on, five minutes is a pretty decent interval. You'll probably be ready in a few hours."
"Do you think so?" Fleur asked nervously.
Molly patted her hand. "I know so, dear. You are young, and strong, and you want this child. Everything will be okay."
Fleur clenched her teeth against the new wave of pain. "Even less than five minutes," Molly corrected herself. "You must tell Bill. Fortunately, we are in the best place of all for such a situation – "
Fleur nodded and Molly stood up. "Bill," she said, "there is something Fleur wants to tell you."
Her son quickly returned to his wife's side, his worry evident. "Are you feeling good?"
Fleur smiled faintly. "Better than ever," she said. "Bill, I don't think I'll give birth to the baby in two weeks' time."
"Because I will give birth to it here. Very soon."
And that, my dear readers, was the first part of the day Victoire was born. Anyone interested in the second one?