A/N This was written for the Reviews Lounge Summer Challenge. My character was George and we had to include the prompt Summer. It is also published under The Review's Lounge profile in the collaborated story In The Summertime. Make sure you make your way over to that fic and check out all the other wonderful stories that had been written for this challenge.
George sat on the top step that went up to his front porch. The sun was setting and George was watching it while he drank a butterbeer. It was his favorite time of the day, watching the sunset because it meant that he had made it through another day. He took a drink from his bottle as he thought back on those first days, the days when he didn't know how he was going to live or what he was suppose to do. It had been then that he started to watch the sunset, finding some comfort in knowing that the day had ended and he had somehow managed to survive it. There were still bad days, George suspected there always would be, but the times when the bad days had outnumbered the good ones had long since pasted. Now only little things would sneak up on him and take George by surprise that made up the bad days.
George took another drink from his bottle as he watched the reds and oranges fill the sky creating a surreal picture. Off in the distance he could hear the shrieks of laughter from children as they tried to cram in one last game of Quidditch before it became to dark to see. Inside he could hear his wife singing along with the WWN as she cleaned the kitchen up for the night. He took another drink of his butterbeer and smiled.
George was startled when he heard footsteps coming from behind him and turned around only to see his oldest son, Freddie, standing nervously on the front porch. George frowned as he wondered what his fifteen-year-old son had managed to do now, most likely with help from his cousin and best friend James Potter.
"Err… I was just wondering if I could join you Dad," Freddie stammered and George nodded as he patted a spot on the step beside him.
Freddie sat down beside George, and opened his own butterbeer that he had brought outside with him. As his son took a drink of it, George could not help but marvel, as he often did, about how much Freddie resembled his namesake.
George sighed as he took another sip from his bottle before asking, "So what did you blow up this time?"
"Nothing Dad, I swear," Freddie exclaimed, "I just wanted to ask if I could go over to Uncle Bill's house tomorrow."
George arched an eyebrow, "Why do you want to go to Bill's place?"
"Err… because he's my favorite Uncle?" Freddie responded before quickly taking another sip.
George laughed, "It wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that it's summer and Bill just happens to live between both a Wizarding beach and a Muggle beach would it?"
Freddie grinned and gave his father a wink, "Why do you think Uncle Bill is my favorite Uncle?"
George let out a chuckle, "And here Charlie thinks he's everyone's favorite since he works with those bloody dragons over in Wales."
Freddie laughed as well, "Uncle Charlie just thinks everyone likes him the best. Outside of yours and Uncle Ron's kids, most of the cousins think you or Uncle Ron are their favorite uncles."
George chocked on his butterbeer since he was not expecting Freddie to tell him that, "What?"
"Don't act surprised Dad," Freddie commented before absorbing his father's face, "Hold on Dad, don't tell me that you didn't know that!"
"Who all thinks like that?" George asked.
"Oh lets see, all of them," Freddie teased, "Something about how you two own the greatest joke shop the wizarding world has ever seen."
George just stared at his oldest child as he took another drink of his butterbeer.
"So, can I go to Uncle Bill's tomorrow? Tante Fleur said James and I could stay for a week if it was okay with our parents," Freddie pressed.
This caused George to chuckle again, "If it's okay with your Mum it is fine with me. Just make sure you are able to drag yourself away from that beach one afternoon so you can go to Diagon Alley and get your school things. Hogwarts does start back up again in a couple of weeks. It probably would be the first time in Hogwarts history that a Prefect arrived without their school supplies if you don't."
"Thanks Dad," Freddie stated.
"And, there will be no blowing anything up while you're over there, you understand me?" George added causing Freddie to nod, "How you ever made Prefect I'll never understand."
"It's not like James and I blow things up on purpose. Besides, you do know that Tante Fleur is part Veela right? It makes her quite scary when she gets pissed." Freddie commented, "And Professor Longbottom has already told you why he made me a Prefect so don't start on that one again."
George smiled as he leaned back against the step and returned his attention back to what was left of the sunset. To his surprise, Freddie stayed sitting beside him instead of running off as he had expected him to.
"Dad, can I ask you something?" Freddie asked nervously.
"I can't promise that I'll answer you Freddie, but go ahead and ask." George responded.
Beside him George heard Freddie taking a deep breath before speaking, "I was just wondering why you always sit out here every night, that's all. For as long as I can remember you have always been outside watching the sunset and I was just wondering why."
George sighed as he glanced at his son from the corner of his eye, noting the serious expression on his face. He did not respond, but instead finished off his butterbeer. The two of them remained in silence for sometime before George spoke, not looking at Freddie.
"Are you sure you want to know Freddie? Make sure you really want to hear this Freddie," George spoke softly.
It was silent again for a while before Freddie answered, "I want to know Dad."
Sighing once again, George stared off at the last rays of red and orange, "The Battle of Hogwarts ended in the early hours of the morning; in fact it was just starting to become light outside when it was all over with. I hope you never have to experience that feeling of relief, guilt and grief all at once, but that morning that was exactly how I felt. All at once, the war was over, we didn't have to fight anymore. For a better part of a year, Fred and I along with the majority of the wizarding world had been doing everything they could to just stay alive, to end all the destruction and all the deaths. Lee, you know my friend Lee, anyway Lee had slapped me across the back and we were both standing there grinning and cheering along with everyone else.
"Then it was like a buldger had hit me in the gut because Fred wasn't there. He was off to one side of the Great Hall, lying among the others who had died that night. I had lost my brother and best friend all in one stroke. Lee told me later that I just fell to my knees, I don't remember that, but I do remember Oliver and Lee helping me up to the Gryffindor Common Room.
"Lee found a bottle of Never Ending Firewhiskey and we just sat there, the three of us, getting drunk. I don't remember much about that day Freddie, all I remember was I didn't sleep and that Lee and Oliver sat with me the entire time. Apparently I wouldn't let any of the family come near me, I would just freak out if anyone got to close, and so Lee and Oliver just wouldn't let any of them insight of me."
George paused then as he struggled to keep his tears in check, "Is that why Granny doesn't like Lee Jordan and Oliver Wood very much? She's always turning the WWN off when Lee comes on air and one day she just about pounced on Louis when she heard him say that Oliver Wood was one of the best players Puddlemere ever had."
"Oh Mum likes the two of them just fine. She just thinks that Lee's program is a little vulgar at times, or most of the time. As for her getting after Louis for bringing up Oliver, it's only when she's really thinking about that time that she doesn't want to hear about Lee or Oliver because all the anger she was feeling then returns. Just between us though, Mum has sent the two of them a Weasley jumper every year since that last battle," George commented, "Anyway, so we spent the entire day getting drunk. The only other thing I remember about that day was the Common Room started to fill up with these red and orange colors that were coming from the window. I remember standing up and stumbling towards one of the windows and looking out to see the sun setting. Lee and Oliver must have followed me because they each placed a hand on my shoulders and I remember Oliver saying, 'That's one day you got yourself through mate.'
"That night I went back to the Burrow and locked myself in Charlie's bedroom. I couldn't bring myself to go to the bedroom that Fred and I had shared for most of our lives and Charlie's room was the only one that was empty at the time since he had stayed behind at Hogwarts to help get those who hadn't survived back to their relatives. I stayed locked in that bedroom all night and all of the next of the day, well I won't get into any of the details but it wasn't pretty.
"At sunset I was sitting at Charlie's window staring at the bright colors when Charlie was finally able to break his bedroom door down. He didn't say anything at first, just crossed his bedroom and sat down beside me. 'Just take it one day at a time George, that's all you can do,' Charlie told me as we watched the sunset.
"Everyday was hard, harder then you will ever know Freddie and I pray you will never have to know first hand how hard it was. Some how I managed to get through the days, with a lot of help from the family and Lee and Oliver, and I started to look forward to seeing the sunset because that symbolized another day that I had survived without Fred."
There were tears now escaping George's eyes, but he ignored them. He chanced a glimpse at Freddie only to find him staring blankly up at the sky. "I guess I never really thought about how hard it was for you Dad, losing Uncle Fred and all. He's always just seemed like some… what does Aunt Hermione call them… Oh! He's always just seemed like some superhero from our bedtime stories. Uncle Fred was just someone who chased the monsters from our closets and protected us when we had to do something that we were scared to do. It was like I know Uncle Fred was a real person, but sometimes he seemed about as real as Aunt Hermione's Santa Clause."
George sat on that step, the summer breeze blowing around him absorbing what Freddie had said. He always knew that would be how all the kids would think about Fred. How could they not when ever since they were little George and his siblings would tell them that there was nothing to be scared of at night because Uncle Fred had chased away the bad guys or that the kids had nothing to be scared about because Uncle Fred was always with them, especially when they really needed someone there.
"I'm sorry Dad, I didn't mean for that to sound as bad as it did," Freddie apologized, most likely because of the silence coming from George.
"There's no need to apologize Freddie. It was hard, it still is. Just know that right after the Battle I didn't have any good days. Then slowly a good day would appear until they started to out number the bad ones. It has been a very long time since I have had any day that was like those first few days without Fred," George stated firmly, "And I always suspected that was how you and the others would feel about Fred. I accepted that not long after Victoire was born."
Father and son sat in silence again, the darkness engulfing them as they sat on the front porch.
"Dad, you didn't really tell us stories though, at least not make believe stories. If you think about it, Uncle Fred really did chase all the monsters away for Victoire, James, myself… all of us actually. However, he wasn't the only one. You did too, so did all the rest of the family," Freddie softly stated.
George had to control his emotions as he spoke, "And Fred is with you whenever you need him. I've always known that Freddie, just like I know Bill or Ginny or anyone else is there for you guys."
"What was it like Dad, losing Uncle Fred?" Freddie inquired.
"Remember when James caught that bad case of Dragon Pox a couple of years ago and no one was sure if he would survive or not?" George whispered causing Freddie to nod, "Imagine how you felt then, but times it by a hundred."
George heard Freddie curse under his breath but neither one said anything. They sat together lost in their own thoughts and George wasn't sure how much time had past before Freddie stood up.
"Thanks for telling me Dad, it means a lot to me," Freddie said, "You think when I get back from Uncle Bill's house next week I can watch the sunset with you?"
George looked up at his son and nodded, "Anytime you want to join me out here Freddie you are more then welcome to."
Freddie nodded, "Well, goodnight then Dad."
"Goodnight Freddie," George stated as he watched his son walk across the front porch to the door. He paused when he reached the door just as George turned his attention back to the night skies.
"I'm really glad you made it through another day Dad," Freddie commented before opening the door and walking into the house.
Raising a hand and wiping at his eyes, George murmured, "Me too Freddie. Me too."