2-6-10. Hullo, fanfictioners. It's 10:30 in the morning here in not-so-sunny California (stupid rain), and I'm in a rather good mood despite the gloomy weather. Thus, I have decided to publish one of my favorite one-shots. It does end on a bit of a depressing note – it seems as though almost all my stories do, how queer – but there's a bit of humor in it (or, at least, my lame attempt at humor), and I thoroughly enjoyed writing it. It's inspired by the last line of Fred and George Weasley's page on HP-Lexicon (my favorite source for all things Harry Potter): "Sadly, though, [George] never completely recovered from the loss of his twin brother and best friend." Reviews to me are like cherries on top of an ice cream sundae!

Disclaimer: Fred and George are merely on loan to me on the moment; however, I'm seriously contemplating whether I should lie and say I lost them so I don't have to give them back.


Sweet Dreams, a George Weasley one-shot

When George Weasley woke up, the sun was already peeking into the room from behind the draped window. The brightness was very unusual for a mid-October day in London, but George welcomed it nevertheless. He fumbled for his wand on the bedside table and pointed it at the curtains, which flew apart and let the sunshine flood in.

"Oi, George!" A head topped with flaming red hair popped out of the bathroom. "Can I use your razor? Mine's gone mental; it keeps trying to shave off my eyebrows."

"What the bloody – Oof!"

George fell out of bed and tumbled onto the hard, wooden floor. He recovered quickly, scrambled clumsily to the bathroom, and dropped his jaw in disbelief at the sight before him. He couldn't believe it. This wasn't real. The identical figure standing at the sink, ordering his razor to go back over the slight stubble on its chin, had to be an illusion.

George reached out his arm, gasping when his fingertips brushed flesh. No, he had imagined it. The feeling wasn't real. He prodded it again, only harder this time. It yelped. There was no denying it: It was as real as he was.

"Hey, you prat, you made me cut my chin!" It grabbed the wand from George's slack grip, pointed it at its face, and said, "Episkey." The gash immediately healed.

"F- Fred? Is that really you?"

It raised its eyebrow.

"Well, it's not you, and as far as I know there are only two of us. Unless Mum and Dad forgot to tell us something."

"But- but – what about – the war – You – and Percy – Death Eaters – You-Know-Who – and then the wall exploded –!"

Fred sent him a strange look.

"War? Death Eaters? What kind of nonsense are you blabbering on about, George?" He paused, frowning. "But the most important question is, what in Merlin's name does Percy have anything to do with anything?"

"But –" began George again helplessly, but something made him stop short. He did a double-take, staring at his reflection in the mirror, and what he saw made his head spin.

His ear. His right ear. He had a right ear. He could see it, and . . . and he could touch it. He could touch it. He had a right ear!

He stood there, tugging at the skin, massaging his earlobe, feeling how it attached to his head, sticking his finger in and pulling out a tiny ball of wax, until Fred waved a hand in front of his face and knocked him out of his reverie.

"George, are you alright?" he asked, and his face held a look of real concern. "Did you sniff the cauldron I have brewing in the storage room? I told you not to go near it; it's supposed to create a temporary Euphoria, but it's got all my testers walking into walls and groping each other. I think I added too many Billywig stings and not enough Glumbumble – Ah! What the – Geroffme!"

George had jumped on Fred, hugging him so tightly he lifted him off the ground. Fred was here. Fred was back. Fred was alive. Fred was wrestling out of George's death grip and thwacking him hard on the head.

"If you didn't want me using your razor, you could've just said so," said Fred crossly. He left George in awe in the bathroom, dressed quickly, and headed down the rickety steps into the shop below. "And when you've gained sanity, come down here and help restock the shelves," he called back up to his brother. "I can't find where you put the box of WonderWitch Pimple Vanisher."

George followed, not really knowing what he was doing, trusting his feet to lead him wherever he was supposed to go. His mind was elsewhere, still unbelieving at Fred's mere presence. What in the name of Merlin's saggy left buttock was going on?

George was so caught up in his musings that he tripped down the last few steps and fell flat on his face on the floor of their joke shop. Fred's howling laughter came from above him, and George frowned. He had forgotten how much of a nuisance his brother could be.

"You should've seen your face, mate!" Fred managed to gasp out between laughs, his eyes tearing. "You looked like Great-Aunt Muriel when Dad tries to show her a Muggle magic trick!"

George grunted, deciding to let his brother off easy. After all, George hadn't seen Fred since he, er – died five years ago. But due to the current circumstances, he was starting to believe that that had failed to happen in the weird, alternate universe he had stumbled into.

He faltered as he pushed himself up, his slight stagger not entirely caused by the fact that he just got the wind knocked out of him. He simply couldn't wrap his head around the wonderful sound of Fred's loud guffaws, even if it was at his expense.

For the rest of the day, the twins bustled around the crowded shop, too busy to even catch a breath. A boy had knocked over a display of punching telescopes (George suspected the charm holding it together had been hastily performed), and they went wild in the shop, punching at everyone's ankles. Many customers left, bruised and distraught, before Fred and George could sort out the mess.

Near closing time, Fred asked George to head over to their Hogsmeade branch and pick something up.

"It should be in the storage room; you'll see it right away," Fred told him, and with a nod and a spin, George vanished into nothingness.

He reappeared in front of the Three Broomsticks with a loud crack! and began walking along High Street toward the shop that had previously been Zonko's. It was now decorated in a similar fashion to the Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes in Diagon Alley that George had just come from, the vibrant colors and eye-popping posters and displays drawing the attention of every witch, wizard, and creature that walked by.

George went in and headed straight for the storage room in the back of the shop. Business was slow here, most likely because the Hogwarts students weren't in town for their monthly visit.

When he opened the door to the storage room, George didn't see anything "right away," as Fred had said he would. On the contrary, he barely saw anything. All there was in the tiny room more fitting for a broom closet were a couple of dusty boxes stacked untidily against the walls.

"Are you looking for this, George?"

He jumped, startled. He turned around; Ron, his younger brother, was standing before him, holding a fancily wrapped package in his hands.

"Er – I guess? Fred didn't tell me what exactly it was I came here to get. Why are you here, anyway?"

Ron looked at him strangely, much like Fred had done only a few hours earlier.

"I work here."

"You do?"

"Yes . . . I manage your shop here in Hogsmeade, remember?"

George scratched his head.

"You do?"

George was dumbfounded. After the war, Ron had landed himself a job in the Ministry's Department of Magical Games and Sports. What was he doing working for his twin brothers?

Ron didn't bother answering; instead, he shoved the package into George's hands and rather forcefully led George out of the shop.

"I'll see you tonight, George. But maybe you should – er – lie down for a while first. You know, get your head on straight. You seem a bit out of it today."

"Wait! What's tonight?" asked George, but Ron had already disappeared back into the jungle of bright colors and magical pranks.

George sighed. He didn't need to lie down. What he needed was answers. Where was he? This certainly wasn't the world he was familiar with. Why was Fred alive, why did he have a full set of ears, and why had Ron demoted himself to a lowly shop manager?

Just as George was about to leave for Diagon Alley, someone called out his name. He squinted in the sun's brilliant light, unable to clearly make out the person heading toward him through the crowd. It looked like an old man with a flowing beard and colorful robes, and as he came nearer, George could make out a pair of twinkling blue eyes behind half-moon spectacles – MERLIN'S BEARD, PROFESSOR DUMBLEDORE?

"P- Professor?" George was dumbstruck now. Out of all the odd things that had happened today, this was by far the weirdest. Had Harry not watched him fall from the Astronomy Tower? Had there not been a grand funeral in his honor? Hadn't his death been the reason why He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named gained such immense power?

"Ah, George Weasley. How are you, dear boy? I must say, it's always a delight to see graduates from Hogwarts, especially when they're in their element," Dumbledore gestured toward Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes and smiled.

"Wait a minute, Professor. Did you just say that I graduated?"

"Why, of course! I remember your graduation most clearly, as a matter of fact." He chuckled fondly. "You and your brother set off some of your 'whiz-bangs' during the ceremony; they really frightened Professor Snape. He still jumps when he hears an explosion, I've been told. Quite unfortunate for him really, since explosions are perfectly common in the Potions classroom."

"But, Professor, Snape is dead."

"Sorry, Mr. Weasley?" Dumbledore looked around, seemingly surprised to find George standing bemusedly before him. "I must have lost myself in my thoughts. Old age, I'm afraid." He winked, and George managed a weak smile.

"You know, George, we must think ourselves very lucky. With the power us wizards possess, I'm surprised there has been no major conflict." He paused, mulling over his words. "Ah well, with great power comes great responsibility. We all own up to it very well, I think."

George didn't know what to say. What did Dumbledore mean, no major conflict? If he's alive now, he must have been present at the Battle of Hogwarts. And he was certainly there for the First Wizarding War. He was the bloke You-Know-Who feared most, for Merlin's sake!

Unless, George thought, and it came upon him suddenly, You-Know-Who never existed. That had to be it. There was no other explanation. Wherever George found himself, in this alternate universe, Tom Riddle had never been born.

Just as he was about to confirm his theory with Dumbledore, the wizened old wizard tipped his pointed hat at him and said, "Alas, Mr. Weasley, I must be off. Forgive me for sounding bigheaded, but I have trouble believing my school can manage very long without me."

And with a wave, a smile, and a turn, Dumbledore was gone.

When George apparated back to Diagon Alley, Fred was waiting impatiently for him. The shop had already been closed and locked for the day, and Fred stood in front of it, holding two jackets and tapping his foot, annoyed.

"What took you so long? Have you got the present? Let's hurry and get a move on then, Alicia and Angelina are waiting for us."

"Er – waiting for us where?"

Fred looked at him funnily.

"At the Burrow," he said, speaking slowly and annunciating every syllable as if scared George wouldn't understand. "It's Bill's birthday today, remember?" When George's face gave away that he didn't, Fred swore. "What is wrong with you today? It's as if you got hit over the head with a Bludger or something!"

Before George could retaliate, Fred shoved the second jacket in his hands and turned on the spot. Sighing, George followed suit.

The next thing he knew, he was standing in a swamp. It was obvious his mind was still too preoccupied to apparate correctly; he was lucky he hadn't been splinched. He muttered a few choice swear words under his breath as he trekked toward the crooked, oversized pigpen that had once been his home.

"What happened to you?"

George arrived in the Burrow's vast yard and immediately collapsed into one of the chairs set around the magically enlarged table; due to the number of guests, there was no way everyone would fit inside the kitchen.

"I landed in the swamp on the other side of Ottery St. Catchpole." His tone was flat, and it was obvious he didn't want to discuss it. "Hi, Mum," he croaked wearily as she came bustling out of the house, levitating a large pot toward the table.

"Oh, hello dear," she said, and planted a kiss on his cheek. He didn't even bother to wipe it off. "We'll be starting dinner in a minute; we're just waiting for Percy and Penelope."

George nodded and looked around the table. Harry and Ginny were talking animatedly across from him, Dad and Fred were conversing off to the side, Bill was laughing along with a woman George had never seen before – wait, where was Fleur? Then it dawned on him. If You-Know-Who never existed, Harry would never have been entered into the Triwizard Tournament, Bill and Mum would have never come to support him during the final task, and the two would have never known each other. It was a pity; he fancied looking at her.

George spotted Ron slumped low in his seat, glaring across the table. Following his gaze, what he saw almost made his eyes pop. Malfoy was getting cozy with Hermione, and the peculiar thing was, no one was doing anything about it.

"What is he doing here?" he shouted, standing and pointing at the blond-haired git. Everyone stopped what they were doing and stared at him.

"What's going on, love?"

It was Angelina. She and Alicia had just come out of the kitchen, carrying plates piled high with food.

"What do you mean, what's going on? Malfoy and Hermione are practically shagging! How can you let this happen? You of all people, Hermione! He plotted to kill Dumbledore!"

"Told you he's gone mental," George heard Fred mumble, and George flushed, his face turning as red as his hair. Oh, right. He had just seen Dumbledore not more than an hour ago in Hogsmeade.

"I mean, he's a Slytherin," he covered lamely, but it was no use. At once, everyone started buzzing. All George could do was sit back down and rub his head. This day was giving him a headache.

Once Percy and his wife arrived, they all tucked in. George stayed silent throughout the whole meal, feeling isolated and uncomfortable as they chattered around him. He didn't belong here; he wanted to go back, back to the world he knew. Yes, Fred and Dumbledore were back among the living, and no one knew who You-Know-Who was (or, rather, You-Don't-Know-Who), and the Gryffindors and Slytherins had somehow managed to set aside their differences and live in harmony (aside from Ron, who had surprisingly barely touched his food and kept shooting dark looks at the interhouse couple), but frankly, he was miserable. He'd much rather dwell on the many happy memories he had of his brother than live the rest of his life with his whole family thinking he's a loon. He understood now that everything happened because it had to, and –

BOOM!

Yells filled the air.

BOOM!

"What was that?" Alicia asked, frightened. Fred put a comforting arm around her shoulders.

BOOM!

"It sounds as if someone's bombing the Muggle town!" said Hermione, and everyone aside from Harry and Penelope looked at her strangely. She sighed, exasperated.

BOOM!

"It's a muggle weapon, very dangerous. We should get out of here, quickly."

BOOM!

"Now wait just a minute," Malfoy spoke up, "We're wizards. We're not really going to be put out by a bunch of useless Muggles, are we?" Arrogance and pride were evident in his voice, and George wanted so badly to deck him. By the looks of Ron's face, he wasn't the only one.

BOOM!

Malfoy's eyes flashed and his expression changed from haughty to petrified.

"Come on Hermione, let's go," he said and grabbed her hand. George rolled his eyes, but he followed them as everyone gathered their things and prepared to apparate. The sounds were coming closer.

BOOM!

George opened his eyes with a start. His heart was racing, his hands were clammy, and a fresh sheen of sweat covered his entire body. Wait. Had all that been a dream?

He surveyed his surroundings. Sure enough, he was back in the flat above the shop, on the floor and entangled in his sheets. He must have fallen out of bed. He glanced at the watch his mum and dad had given him for his seventeenth birthday. 3:00 AM.

BOOM!

He hurried to the window, tripping more than once in the process. He looked out onto the dark street of Diagon Alley, searching for the source of the noise. Near the Leaky Cauldron, a group of underage wizards were huddled together, setting off a huge pile of Decoy Detonators. George remembered them. They came into the shop yesterday and bought almost his entire stock.

He sighed. His neighbors would definitely be complaining to him about this in the morning. Many of them had already poked their heads out of their windows and were yelling at the teens to stop.

George retreated back to his bed, determined to make the most of his last few hours of sleep before his day actually began and he had to deal with reality again. The dream had really shaken him up; pulling out his old potions kit, he quickly mixed himself a Sleeping Draught and fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.