"The world isn't split into good people and death eaters." JK Rowling.
"Fred?" Ron said, at the same time as everyone started greeting each other.
They couldn't believe it. The two parties discarded wands and bags and embraced fondly. Lee couldn't help but notice that, if he and the twins hadn't had much of an appetite these last months, the Golden Trio must have been starving. Hermione felt particularly breakable.
The twins decided to focus on something different, and decidedly more upbeat, as was their usual tactic. "Geeze Ronnikins, do you ever cut your hair?"
"We had Lee do ours -"
"And we think it looks rather dashing -"
"But here you are, not taking advantage of a woman's touch? Shame on you!"
Ron's hands flew up to his hair, which was halfway to his shoulders, though not nearly as shaggy as Harry's, which looked like a frightened black cat had come to rest on his head. "Well it's not like we get out much." He protested feebly, "There's no reason to keep it proper, is there?"
Fred rolled his eyes, "Not if you don't want to impress anyone there isn't -"
"But we know that isn't the case here, little bro." The wink in Hermione's direction was more than enough to make the teenage girl flush scarlet.
Lee put out a hand to Harry, enveloping the teen in a hug when he went to shake it. "Let's make this an old-fashioned camp out. There's so much to talk about."
The exclamations Harry, Ron, and Hermione made over the sight of food made Lee's heart clench, and he pulled out all the stops to make sure they would feast like kings. "Do you guys have enough food?" He asked, pulling open another can of mushrooms.
Harry looked hesitantly between the three older men, then nodded, expression tight and grim. Hermione on the other hand shook her head emphatically. "No we don't. We can't risk even walking into muggle villages anymore. We didn't pack any food and what we can't find in the forests we steal."
"'Mione." Ron murmured, flushing with embarrassment.
"Take ours." George said immediately, summoning everything out of the duffel until they were surrounded by cans and boxes of food. "Take it all – Lee can still go by stores without being recognized and Bill was paranoid - he emptied his whole kitchen before we left."
"No." Both boys said, embarrassed. Hermione was past pride and put her arms around first George's, then Fred's necks.
When a small exclamation of pain, mostly swallowed, emanated from Fred, she withdrew and looked at him, concerned, then gasped in realization. "Your ear!"
Now Harry and Ron took closer looks at Fred's head, which he tried to turn before they could catch a glimpse of his mutilated ear. Ron swore. Harry turned pale, than fiery with rage, "Who did it?"
"Death Eaters. They've been after us for a while – George and I have Traces that we can't shake. The first time they caught us they were going to haul us in, 'cept they noticed George was down an ear and I wasn't."
"It was pretty nasty." George said fervently, "At least Snape was decent enough to do mine with sectumsempra. They hacked Fred's off."
"And we didn't have enough Dittany, not after fleeing Shell Cottage." Lee put in, only because he hoped that Hermione knew more about medicinal magic than he. "I'm afraid it got infected and Fred's too stubborn to admit it."
And Fred couldn't deny that. Couldn't, because since the wound he'd had fevers so high he would push off the blankets and step out into the frigid winter and hope for respite from the inferno. He nodded, submitting to Hermione's gentle touch with a few small jokes and a look of relief.
As Hermione slowly rubbed a salve over the infected hole, Harry turned to Lee, "That radio show…it's brilliant."
"We listen to it every week." Ron added, "It's about the only thing there is to talk about out here."
"How'd you get Kingsley and Lupin on the show?" Hermione asked. "We heard they were in hiding."
"New ears." George said, smiling when he realized the pun in that statement. "According to Lee they work something like a telephone."
"That's brilliant." Hermione beamed while Harry gave Ron a refresher in what a telephone was.
"Yeah." Fred touched Ron's shoulder, "We got through to mum. She was in a right state when she heard from us. Apparently our big brother, in his infinite wisdom, decided to spread the nasty rumor that we were dead."
"He told me that." Ron murmured, "Seemed to think the less people who knew about you the better, but then we stumbled over the radio show and the secret kind of came out."
Lee mentally berated himself for not helping the rumor that the twins were dead. It wouldn't stop those dedicated few Death Eaters from having a go, but at least it might have deterred other attackers.
"Where'd you meet Bill?" Lee asked as soon as he processed Ron's statement. "He's not on the run, too, is he?"
"No," For some reason, Ron looked embarrassed. "No, your tip wasn't for nothing, Lee, he managed to save Lupin and Tonks and a couple of his goblin friends with your heads-up, and then he holed up good. He and Fleur can't really get out much, but she's pregnant, anyway. Did you know Veela's get prettier when they're pregnant?"
"Really?" Lee would like to see that, although his picture of Fleur always included her strong, curse-breaker husband. "But you managed to get a message to Bill? Going into the inventing business, too?"
"No," again, the embarrassment, and Harry patted his friend's arm before wandering over to make sure George kept some of the food. "I…well, I kind of…walked out on Harry a couple months ago. I heard something about the twins…about them being killed…and I kind of snapped. Yelled, too, then stormed out."
"What?" This wasn't Lee, but Fred and George in unison.
"One second, Hermione, I got to deal with my idiot brother."
It was funny to watch Fred and George bundle Ron out of the tent, Fred with his wound re-opened and dripping blood on the grass. Snippets of the tirade made it back to Lee, who suddenly felt very awkward in a tent with the very people he'd been talking about for months.
"Do you have any idea how important Harry is?" Fred's voice drifted in from the cold, and Harry turned red under his shag of hair.
"Not to mention we just might like him better than you -" Lee knew for a fact that George was exaggerating. Their constant attempts to contact their family just to see if they'd had word of Ron was tribute the fact.
"Especially after this stunt. Seriously, Ron -"
"We're Weasleys, we're supposed to be the sidekicks -"
"And the comic relief."
"You don't get to walk out on anybody."
"Not Harry and not -"
"Especially not Hermione!"
"He came back." Hermione murmured, half-listening, helping Harry separate the supplies. "And he saved Harry, too."
Lee nodded absent-mindedly, wondering vaguely if the twins were his sidekicks or vice versa. "Listen, Harry, in all seriousness…do you think you can do this?"
Fred and George continued their conversation with Ron, quieter, and Harry met Lee's gaze. "Promise this isn't going on the show?"
Lee smirked, "Cross my heart." It was a Gryffindor thing, meaning that the secret-teller had no chance in hell of his secret being kept. And secrets were always told anyway.
So Lee sat down while Harry and Hermione explained the concept of Hallows and Horcruxes. Somewhere along the way Ron came in, and mentioned that they'd destroyed the locket, the diary, the ring, but they still needed the snake, the cup, and something of Ravenclaw's.
Fred nudged George, who nudged Lee, who suddenly stood up, excited. "We used to crash Ravenclaw's Common Room all the time -" At this point he was used to being cut off by the twins, but he was a little put-out when they talked over him just then.
"It's way nicer than the Gryffindor Room -"
"Less supervision -"
"Plus, Lee had the biggest crush on this sixth year…"
"It's the diadem." Lee cut in, "That's the only thing that makes sense. The diadem of Ravenclaw was her most prized possession: it was said to contain some supplement for her wisdom, something to strengthen or add to it."
"It was totally important -"
"And we know where it is."