George Weasley walked alone down the lane. He had Apparated to his family's home, the Burrow, for breakfast like every other Sunday. But this day was different than all the rest. Today was the one year anniversary of his twin brother's death. One year ago, Fred Weasley had died in the final battle of the war against Voldemort.
George wasn't feeling very hungry so he decided to skip the morning meal. He wanted to visit his twin alone before everyone else showed up. He loved his family dearly, but most of the time they were loud and obnoxious…well, actually that was his and Ron's fault lately. Ron had been working at the shop with George and Lee for a while now. George knew it was because the family still believed he wasn't as happy as he acted. He knew it was true. His laughter and jokes was all a mask. He was hiding from their sympathy and looks of understanding. They didn't understand. No one understood the pain he was going through.
He and Fred had made a promise early in the war, shortly after buying the shop. George remembered it clearer than anything from the last year. The last year was all a haze, along with most of his memories from before That Day and scattered memories that for some reason were stronger than all the rest. The one memory he could bring forth with such strong clarity is the day he and Fred made their promises.
"Hey George, I gotta talk to you mate. Come in here," Fred called from the back room. George set down the boxes and dusted his hands on his trousers. Before he turned to walk to the back room he looked around.
The shop they bought still had plain white walls and ordinary tile floors. But not for long. They had planned on a purple and orange theme for the main merchandise rooms. Those two colours were fairly opposite and strange. They had boxes and boxes of Snackboxes, and treats for any prank imaginable and some not so imaginable doozies.
He started back to the room Fred was located in at the moment and passed a stack of raw supplies. He grabbed the box and brought it with him. He entered the room and set the box down on the work table and glanced over. Fred was sitting in a comfortable lime green recliner sipping a Firewhiskey. They had toasted a half an hour before after signing the ownership papers and George had done his shot and passed on another. They had plenty of work to do for the opening in two weeks, and getting pissed would only slow them down for the night. Fred on the other hand had nursed his original drink and then called George back to the work room.
"Pull up a chair mate. I want to discuss something with you of a serious matter," his twin said with a smile.
George conjured up a bright orange chair similar to Fred's, poured himself a drink, and sat down. He and Fred made a habit of being somewhat serious about business and so when either of them said they were to be serious they didn't joke about it. Contrary to popular belief the Twins weren't all fun and games when they were alone. They could be very sombre if need be. This was obviously one of those times.
"George, my favourite brother, my twin, I'd like to discuss something with you. It may seem a bit morbid at first but I want you to hear me out. We are entering into a war. Three nights ago we were inducted into the Order and we made a vow to help our brethren and fellow wizards and witches if they need it. We can protect others with our pranks as well as have fun. We may not have finished school, but we have a successful business, a great family…minus Percy, and smoking hot girlfriends. But most of all we have each other. Am I right that we would do anything for each other?"
"Yeah, anything short of murder I guess," he replied, wondering where this was going.
"Smashing, I was hoping you'd say that. Now, I know the odds that our entire family coming through this war isn't great. Don't say anything yet! I know it sounds morbid and defeatist but it's true. A family our size where all of us are fighting, someone very well might not make it out in the end. Now a real possibility is one us might not make it out. Hopefully, if one of us goes the other goes too, but since the odds of that happening isn't very good, I want us to do two things tonight.
"One, make an Oath. I want us to agree that if one of us goes we keep the shop running, moves on without the other one, and keeps living. It would be hard, probably the hardest thing ever, but we have to agree to it. The second thing I want us to do is write a letter to each other. The letter won't be opened unless one of us dies, and only exactly a year after the death. Do you think you can do that?" asked Fred.
George wanted to laugh. Could his brother be seriously thinking this morbid idea? Write a letter to his future dead twin? Who comes up with this kind of thing? But one look at Fred's eyes told George that Fred had really thought this through and wanted it done. George's thoughts took a different track. What would he do if Fred died? The idea was so unbelievably horrible he couldn't think of it for long without nearly panicking. Yes, a letter might not be so bad.
"I think I can handle that, my twin. When should we have this letter done, and what will we do with them?" he asked.
Fred smiled a wide, lopsided grin. "Okay, we should have them done as soon as possible; you never know when a fight will occur. What we do with them? You know that wall safe in the flat upstairs? We shall keep them in there. But first, our pact. Stand up, brother mine."
They both stood up and poured a shot of Firewhiskey and held the tiny glass in their left hands. Their right hands they clasped together in between them. Fred spoke first.
"We promise, as twins, if one of us shall perish in this war we shall do the following: Keep Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes running in memory of the dead twin and continue to invent items of pranking amusement; shall get married and have lots of babies, but the first born son shall be named after the dead twin; and lastly, we shall never forget each other and visit the dead twin's grave every year on the anniversary of their death to regale the dead twin with the past years events We promise to never give up and never forget. Do you promise this, Forge Weasley twin of Gred Weasley?"
George smiled, "I promise this, as a twin and brother to Gred Weasley. Do you promise this Gred Weasley twin of Forge Weasley?"
"I promise this, as a twin and brother to Forge Weasley."
They finished in unison, "Brothers and Twins forever," and then swallowed the shot of liquor in their other hand. A glowing white light surrounded their hands and seemed to sink into their skin. A warm tingle spread through their bodies and as soon as the warm tingle faded they unclasped their hands.
"Huh, we haven't made a Twin Oath in a long time," said George.
"Yeah, since third year after we nearly blew up the greenhouses over Greta Dowson. They really should put a warning on the bags of Dragon Dung saying Flammable," replied Fred.
"Well, that or someone shouldn't be setting off fireworks next to manure. But Greta was almost worth it. Remember her," said George as he gestured his hands in a cup shape over his chest.
"Oh yes, I remember them well…they were practically twins themselves."
The two joked for a while, and then returned to their unpacking. They spent the next few days decorating and setting out merchandise. They hired a few people to work the counters leaving them time to work the floors, give demonstrations, and continue inventing. Verity, Tyson, and Artemis were wonderful help getting the store ready in the two weeks before the Grand Opening. The twins were so busy they both almost forgot the letter they were supposed to write, but three weeks after their talk, they had a letter written and sealed.
"Is yours ready?" asked Fred.
"It is my good twin. Yours?" asked George.
"That is it. Shall we?"
They opened the safe behind the giant portrait they had made of Mister Zonko and hung behind the orange and green swirled sofa. They both switched letters and then placed the other twins' letter in the bottom of the safe, next to the ownership documents for the shop, their birth certificates, and their master copies of all their records on every invention and how they originally developed them including testing records, ingredient lists and a sample of each item. The safe was fairly packed.
"Okay, Forge. Let's get back to work."
George smiled at the memory. He now held the letter from Fred in his hands. Their Twin Oath dictated that he visit Fred's grave today, not that he wouldn't, and he had visited it every Sunday for the last year. Today was the day that marked when he's stop visiting every week and instead visit once a month. It was his way of moving on. He was slowly regaining the ability to enjoy life. Laughing at something didn't make him feel depressed and guilty as often as it used too. He didn't wake up in the morning and start making breakfast for two and only remember there was only one person halfway through cooking, only to throw away the food because he suddenly wasn't hungry anymore. He didn't cry himself to sleep anymore.
George arrived at the marker he'd visited fifty two times already, rain or snow, and sat down.
"Hey brother-mine…" He stopped. At first talking to a stone had been awkward and strange. This stone wasn't Fred, so why would he need to talk to it? But after a while he grew accustomed to greeting Fred in his old manner and then talking about his week. The difficulty he had with the shop and moving on.
He remembered the first time he came to the grave stone.
George had Flooed over to the Burrow that morning for breakfast. He sat down at the table after giving his mum the usual one armed squeeze and "Morning," greeting. He stared at the empty plate in front of him for several long minutes until Ron, who had sat down next to him, slopped a giant pile of mash in the centre, and piled several bangers next to the mash. Several pieces of toast were slipped onto the plate next by Percy on his other side and from across the table Ginny poured a tall glass of Pumpkin juice and slid it next to his plate.
George looked up and around him and saw several sets of eyes on him.
"What?" he asked. "What are you all looking at?"
"George, dear, have you gotten any sleep since you moved back to your flat? Eaten anything?" asked his mother in a timid, worried tone.
"Or showered?" muttered Percy. Bill, on Percy's left, smacked him upside the head.
"I think what Percy means is—" started his father, while sending a warning glance at Percy.
"I know what he means dad, and no to all your questions, thank you. I wasn't aware I stunk; I'll just go home before I make you lose your breakfast, then. I'm sorry for the trouble," replied George in a monotone voice. He pushed his chair back and made to stand up but felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked over and saw Ron looking directly into his eyes.
"You don't have to leave, George. We're just worried about you. Please let us help you," he said softly.
George looked around the room into everyone's eyes before speaking.
"You can't help me. No one can help me," he whispered before shrugging Ron's hand off his shoulder and standing up. He walked to the door, opened it, and stepped outside.
Molly stood up abruptly and made to follow, tears streaming down her cheeks, but was held back by her husband.
"Just give him some time, Molly. He'll come back," he said just loud enough for the room's occupants to hear.
"Someone needs to go with him, Arthur. What he just said…scares me. He shouldn't be alone, he shouldn't have moved back there so fast. If we don't do something, we'll lose him too," she finished as she burst into sobs. He stood up and wrapped her in his arms, tears filling his eyes.
"I know, dear. But we can't push him either or we'll just loose him a different way. I just don't know what to do," he said quietly.
All five of the other Weasley children were at a loss as what to think. Their father always knew what to do. Hearing him admit he was unable to come up with a way to help George scared them all more than anything. Harry and Hermione both shared a glance before looking down at their plates.
Outside, George had walked down the lane towards the only place he knew he could find comfort: his twin. He wandered down the lane for several minutes and took the branch off the road into the town cemetery. It had only been a week since Fred had been buried and ten days since his death, but George saw that the grass over the plot had been magically re-grown and several flowers had been planted next to the stone. He hadn't seen the stone yet, but what he saw made him smile through his tears.
Fred Alan Weasley
Twin, Brother, Son
April 1st, 1978 - May 1st, 1998
"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."
He'd have to thank Harry for that small favour. He knew it had to have been Harry who added that part, no one else knew about the map. He wiped away the tears from his eyes and sat down on the grass in front of the stone and stared at his dead twin's name. Fred.
"I miss you so much," he whispered. Tears began falling and dripping off his chin. Slowly he began to sob quietly, his eyes never leaving that one word. After several minutes of staring at the stone, his eyes closed and he rested his forehead in his hands while he continued to weep.
It was like a dam had burst. All week he'd been lying in his bed staring at the ceiling of his room unable to cry. Wondering what was wrong with himself. After a few days he took to drinking to dull the pain and soon was lying in bed staring at a circling ceiling ready to throw up, and still unable to cry. He'd remembered to set an alarm for breakfast that morning early enough to make it to his family home, but it was one of the only things he'd done in the last week.
Now, sitting in front of this cold, hard stone reality hit and it hit hard. Fred was never coming back. He was all alone forever now. The weight of this knowledge felt like it was about to crush him into the ground and into the casket with Fred. Suddenly George's chest felt tight. His mouth was dry and he could barely breathe. He tipped over and lay on the ground, curled into a ball. He was breathing shallowly and black spots were clouding his vision. All the sounds around him dulled, the wind disappeared, the birds stopped chirping, and all he could hear was his own choppy shallow breaths.
He glanced over and saw green eyes staring into his own.
"Breathe mate, come on and breathe!" Harry shouted at George but he didn't care anymore. If this was what dying felt like, he welcomed it. Anything to escape the pain he was feeling right now.
George heard the whisper as if the wind was simply blowing past his ear.
"Fred?" he muttered. He completely ignored Harry who had stopped talking when George whispered.
"What do you mean 'Fred', George? I'm Harry."
"You promised me twin…never give up…never forget…"
"I tried Fred, I really did try. I just can't…I miss you…I want you back," George whispered. He closed his eyes and whimpered as he started to cry again. Harry stared at him, not knowing what was going on or what to do. So he did the only thing he could think of, he pulled George's head into his lap and waited.
Several minutes went by in silence before George lifted his head and sat up. He pulled his knees up and rested his forehead on them. Harry just waited.
"No one understands…it feels…like someone ripped out half of my…soul, and fed it to a Dementor. There's no way I can get it back, but…how can I live a life with only half a soul?" he finally whispered. Harry had to strain to hear George's statement.
"I'm not really sure how to answer that George. All I know is that we can't give up," he replied weakly.
"Why can't we?" asked George.
"Because…it would be too easy. A wise man once told me that everyone is faced with instances in their lives where they must choose between what is right and what is easy. Giving up would be the easy way out but think of how everyone else would feel. Your mum and dad, brothers and sister, your friends, we're all here to help in any way we can. But you can't just shut us out. I may not know exactly what you're going through, mate, but if there is anyone who knows about losing someone they love and finding the strength to move on, it's me. And my advice? Talk. Talk with us, with your family and friends and we can help you. Do the right thing, and be strong, if not for anyone but Fred's memory. He of all people wouldn't want you to give up, right?" asked Harry softly.
George sat for several moments contemplating Harry's reply. Slowly he started nodding.
"You're right mate. I just…it's hard. What do I talk about?" he asked quietly.
"Well," Harry said while thinking quickly, "Why don't you start with telling me a story about something you two did that I don't know about." George nodded slowly, thinking.
"Has anyone ever told you the story of how Ron became terrified of Spiders?" he asked finally. Harry shook his head. George had a faint smile on his lips before talking.
"Well, one day Fred and I were outside. We were about eight years old. We were taking turns throwing apples to each other and batting them away with beater bats while on brooms, when we heard a scream coming from the yard behind the house. We took off on our brooms thinking something was wrong or someone was hurt. We arrived around the same time as mum to find Ginny running around the centre of the yard drenched in honey being chased by gnomes. Fred and I of course burst out laughing until we realized that Ginny was also bleeding from several bites and running and crying terrified of the gnomes. I flew down and plucked her onto my broom to get her away from the little buggers while Fred flew over and grabbed Ron by the back of the shirt and carried him about fifteen feet above the ground towards the house.
"Mum was furious with Ron for his little prank and by extension furious with us two for 'Putting ideas into his little head.' Apparently he'd overheard Charlie tell Percy not to eat his peanut butter and honey sandwich in the yard because gnomes are attracted to honey so much that they'll attack en masse to get some. So he filled a balloon with honey and when Ginny was out picking dandelions for mum, he threw it at her, causing it to explode on her and drenching her in honey. The gnomes swarmed her and bit her several times, and that's when she screamed and we all came running.
"Anyways, mum decided to punish Fred and me instead of Ronniekins, so we decided to get him back. We knew he didn't like spiders since we had accidently turned his teddy into one a few years before, so we snuck up to his window on our brooms with mum's wand and got into his room. We didn't know an incantation or wand movement but we knew what we wanted to happen so Fred waved the wand over the bed and whispered 'Spiders' while imagining a bed filled with little black spiders. We left Ron's room and later when he went to bed, we heard his delightfully girly scream and knew sweet payback."
By the time George had finished his story he was smiling and staring off into the distance imagining Ron crawling into bed, and pulling back the covers to find hundreds of creepy crawlies, and his subsequent scream. Harry chuckled.
"You know the first prank I ever saw you and Fred pull?" Harry asked. George thought for a moment.
"The toilet seat we promised Ginny before yours and Ron's first year?" he asked.
"Nope, that wasn't so much a prank than a weird gesture of older brother fun. I'm talking about turning Scabbers yellow. What was the rhyme again?" Harry said thinking hard.
"Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow, turn this stupid fat rat yellow," said Ron from the pathway. He had been standing there listening with Ginny, Bill, Charlie, Percy and Hermione. Bill and Charlie snickered at the childish rhyme, Hermione and Ginny rolled their eyes and Percy just raised an eyebrow.
George smiled. "I can't believe you fell for that one, Ron. Merlin, a toddler could have figured that one out," he chuckled.
"Yeah, I figured it was a joke, but you never know. It might have worked," Ron replied.
"What surprises me is that you remembered that silly rhyme all this time," said Harry. Hermione chuckled.
The others joined Harry and George sitting on the grass surrounding Fred's stone. They swapped stories and jokes or pranks the twins had accomplished over the last dozen years or so for several hours. George couldn't help but cry at some of the stories, but he wasn't alone in his tears. Not an eye was dry that day, but smiles graced everyone's faces many times.
George remembered returning to his parents' house, and smelling dinner on the oven and for the first time in a week and a half, he was hungry again. He ate his fill that night quietly, just listening to his family around him. His mum tried to get him to eat thirds, but after a week of nearly starving himself, even seconds was almost too much. She warned him that she would be visiting his flat later that week to make sure there was food there for him, and if there wasn't she was dragging him home and keeping him there for as long as it took him to heal. He smiled and assured her that he would take care of himself.
That night when he got home he took the liquor from the flat and poured it down the drain. He went to Fred's bedroom and sat on the bed and just looked around him for a while before retiring to his own room. The next day he got up and went down to the shop and started cleaning, he sent owls to his former employees informing them of their jobs being available again, and started making new products for sale. It only took a week for the re-opening of the WWW to occur. If there was anything he knew how to do, it was pranks, and he had a promise to keep.
George had lain down on the grass and was staring at the blue, cloud speckled sky while he was reminiscing. He thought of something new to say since the week before. Nothing new had really happened.
"I don't know what to say mate, not much has changed since last week. Worked in the shop, took Angie out to eat at this new Italian place across from the Leaky Cauldron in Muggle London. Great food there, but the prices are just too damn high. I might take her there for her birthday in a month, but it's definitely not an everyday date place. Really only good for special occasions."
He pulled the letter out of his robe pocket and flipped it around and back again. He stared at his name on the plain white envelope for a long time before sitting back up.
"I can't believe it's already been a year, twin. In a way it feels like the time has just flown by, but also crept slowly through the mud and slime of our portable swamps. I guess the time flew by because I really didn't allow myself to wallow in pity all year. I didn't give myself any wallow time, so it flew by. But the whole time, even when I was with Angie, I felt all alone, so that's why it also crawled by too. Listen to me just ramble on. I've waited all year to read this damn letter, and now…I can't even bring myself to open it."
He stared at the envelope and waited, as if passing the time until someone else arrived to help him over this last hurdle. There had been several times when he'd wanted to just lie down and never get up again over the past year. The last time had been only a month before. April first, nineteen ninety-nine: George's twenty-first birthday, but not Fred's. The family had decided to throw a party, but no one was in the mood to actually celebrate, least of all George. He had only arrived because Ginny had come to his flat.
Knock! Knock! Knock!
George rolled over and groaned as he looked at his alarm clock.
"Eight thirty in the bloody morning on a…" he looked over at a calendar on the wall, "Thursday?" he mumbled as he rolled off his bed and stood up. He heard the knocking again and shouted, "I'm coming! Hold your hippogriffs." He stumbled towards the door and wrenched it open. Ginny was staring at him wide eyed, which made him realize he'd opened the door in his underwear. He saw her blush and look up to avoid looking down at his orange pants covered in flying green fairies. He chuckled and invited her in.
"To what do I owe this early morning visit for, little sister?" he asked. He walked over to the sofa and grabbed a pair of trousers off a pile of dirty laundry. She looked the other way as he put them on and she answered.
"I just wanted to be here to wish you a Happy Birthday, and make sure you were still coming tonight. Mum's making all your favourites," she ended weakly. George had stopped dead in his tracks as soon as she had uttered the B-word. He had forgotten. This week was the beginning of sales for the new line of sweets and he had been working late every night on making all the new products not to mention the months worth of late nights working on developing them all. Actually, he'd been working late for the last several months and all the days had begun running into one long slew of day/night and work/sleep schedules. He didn't even know what day of the week it was if he missed a mark on the calendar. Every night before bed, he'd slash a black line through the day's box. Once he'd missed a mark, and was off by one day of the week for an entire month before someone corrected him.
"To—today's April first?" he asked stunned.
"Yeah, I'd thought this might happen. You've been working so hard lately, and the mishap with the day of the week, I wanted to make sure you had remembered. I'm sorry, George," she said with a sad smile. He looked over at her and then back at the shirt he was holding in his hand and sighed.
"What time does mum expect me to be there? The shop doesn't close until six thirty, but I could probably get Verity to work late."
"Mum just wants you to come for dinner and family time afterwards. I think she was planning on visiting Fred's grave later tonight also as a family. Charlie said he won't be able to make it like usual and Bill said Fleur is too big to travel right now, but everyone else will be there," she said.
"Oh joy," he muttered. He wandered to the kitchenette and cast the heating spell on the pot of tea from the day before, poured himself a cup and took a deep swig, grimaced and emptied the cup. He poured another and dumped several spoonfuls of sugar into the cup and swirled it before taking a tentative sip, he shrugged, added another spoonful and headed back to the living room.
"Tell mum I'll be there for dinner, but I've got a lot of work to do tonight, so I'll probably not stay long afterwards," he said. He brought his cup to his lips and took a gulp.
"George, you can take one night off. You own the shop, make Verity or Lee work tonight; it could be a present from them to you. Just please join us as a family for one night…please?" she pleaded. He barely showed her a glance as he headed back to his bedroom while he answered.
"Maybe, it all depends on how today goes. I'll see you later, Ginny," he said as he shut his bedroom door with a click. She sighed and shook her head before heading down the stairs to the alley next to the shop. She Apparated away and George sighed after hearing the Pop. He dumped his too sugary tea into the dead house plant on his desk and lay back down.
Suddenly he jumped back up, ran down to the shop and left a note on the counter for when Verity opened up at nine.
Verity dear, I want you to arrange a 50% off on all items discount today, call it the Fred Weasley Prank day special. I'm sorry to leave like this, but I won't be down today. I've got a lot of planning to do for a new item I dreamed of last night, so if you need help (which you probably will) call up Lee and Artemis to come in. If anyone comes in looking for me, say I'm out for the day. Thanks, G. Weasley.
He left the note next to the register and ran back upstairs and grabbed a bottle of Firewhiskey on his way to the other bedroom. When he walked into the still messy room, he shoved aside a pile of laundry on the desk chair and sat down. He took a long drag on the bottle as he looked at the stuff on the desk. A pile of paperwork was in one corner, mostly written documents on things Fred had been working on alone for the shop. George still had to work up the courage to look through them.
Another pile of receipts told stories of the places he took Becca, his girlfriend, on dates before they had to leave and go into hiding. The top one was for something called Annie's Arcade. George wondered what Becca was doing this day of all days. Was she thinking of Fred right now? Maybe visiting his grave with some flowers, crying about her loss. Or had she moved on? Gotten a new boyfriend, one who wasn't wild and a prankster, someone she could relate to...
The third pile was what George had come for. Before he reached over and picked it up, he took another long swig of the liquor, then another. Finally, he picked up the pile of pictures Fred had been meaning to put in an album for many months but had never gotten around to it. The first picture was of Fred, Becca, George and Talia, his old girlfriend. Both of the twins had reached over and kissed their girl on the cheek just as the picture had been taken, so the image went from posing, to kiss, to laughter, and then back to posing. He smiled at the memory, and then frowned. Two days after this had been taken Talia had dumped George. She was a Muggle and hated that he never told her anything about his life. A month later the twins had left for hiding. It was all for the best anyway…George was dating Angelina now.
He flipped that picture to the back and chuckled at the second image. Fred and George had taken the girls to the London Zoo and spent the day goofing off. This particular image was the two guys in front of the gorilla shelter scratching their heads and underarms and making ridiculous faces at the camera.
George spent a few hours going through the several dozen pictures and an entire bottle of whiskey. By eleven o'clock he was entirely pissed and out of ideas of what to do. He couldn't visit Fred's grave in this state, what if his mum decided to take a walk down there, not to mention he was in no shape to Apparate. So he lay down on Fred's bed over the clothes and a magazine, and closed his eyes.
A couple hours later he opened his eyes after hearing a noise. He blearily looked around and then closed his eyes again. A moment later he heard, "Oh George." He opened his eyes again to see Ginny and Harry standing in the doorway of the bedroom. He had sprawled out on his stomach and didn't remember taking off his trousers, but once again, he was in his knickers. Ginny gave Harry a look and she walked back out to the living room.
Harry walked over to the bed and pulled George to his feet. He swayed but Harry never let go.
"Come on, mate. You're taking a cold shower while Ginny gets you a sobering potion ready. We're not going to let you wallow today." Harry pulled George towards the small bathroom and sat the drunken man on the toilet while he started the water. When Harry pulled back he lifted his wand and levitated George straight into the stream of icy water pants and all.
George let out a shriek to match any banshee and started cursing Harry to the highest deity he could think of, Merlin. Harry just shrugged and continued to levitate George and eventually threw him a bottle of soap and a rag.
"Wash up, your coming with us today, and you can't smell like a street bum," Harry said. He had turned to the side and wasn't watching as George peeled off his soaking wet boxers, so he didn't see the underwear being flung at him. They slapped him upside the head and wrapped around his face a bit, dripping freezing water down his neck. Harry shrieked and did a strange pirouette as he reached up and ripped the boxers off his face. George gave a derisive snicker as he soaped up. Harry glared at the wall and shuddered, which George didn't miss.
"Bloody well serves you right mate," he said matter-of-factly.
Once his shower was done, and he'd drank the sobering potion Ginny had made they set off. The two were babysitting for Andromeda Tonks for the day and after Ginny's morning visit, they had decided to drag George along with them. He spent the day watching Ginny and Harry play house with Teddy and he couldn't help but think that the three of them, especially when Teddy changed his hair colour to Black or Red, made a cute picture. But when Teddy crawled over to him and reached his arms up, he couldn't help but humour the tot. He picked up Teddy and rocked him to and fro for a moment. What caught him completely off guard was when Teddy reached up and patted George's cheek and said, "Sad."
George blinked. Sad was right, but how did the little runt catch on to that fact? He was barely one year old. Perceptive little bugger, George thought to himself.
"No, I'm not sad, little guy. I'm happy, see, I'm smiling," he said calmly with a grin. Harry and Ginny shared a glance before Harry stepped forward.
"I think it's time for a bath little man, granny's going to be home soon, and she will expect her little bug to be nice and clean for bedtime. Come on," Harry said as he plucked Teddy from George's arms. George gave him a thankful look as Harry walked to the bathroom.
Ginny and George sat down on the sofa and waved their wands at the toy filled floor. The toys packed themselves away in a jiffy and the brother and sister could finally relax. They could hear Teddy splashing around and Harry scolding the tot for getting him wet and they chuckled.
George looked over at his sister and saw a look on her face that he didn't want to see just then. He saw her open her mouth to say something he didn't want to hear, so he interrupted.
"Don't, Ginny. Just don't, not right now, not today. I don't need a lecture, not from you, not from anyone, just don't," he said firmly.
"All I'm going to say is this: If I ever find you like that again I will tell mum and dad," she said.
"Is that a threat?" he asked.
"Yes, and you better take it seriously because mum and dad won't let you act this way. I'm warning you now, George. We won't lose you too," she said softly. He shook his head and made to reply, but the Floo flared at that moment and Andromeda arrived home.
"Hello Ginny, George. Where's Harry and Teddy?" she asked as she set her bags down.
"Harry is giving Teddy a bath before bed. He ate really well tonight. The only thing he avoided was the mashed peas," replied Ginny.
"And it wasn't so much that he avoided them, as he stuck his hand right in them and threw them at us all," replied George, with a raised eyebrow. Ginny chuckled.
"Well George you started it. You riled the baby up right before dinner, of course he was going to be playful," she said with a grin. "Oh, George, speaking of peas, you have something right…" she pointed to her right eyebrow.
George's eyes widened and he ran to a mirror. "I swear I thought I got it all—" He stopped when he saw nothing on his face. He turned and saw Ginny giggling, and Andromeda trying to hide a smile.
"I'll get you back for that, Firecracker," George said menacingly.
"Firecracker?" asked Harry from the doorway. He was holding a bundled up Teddy in his arms who, as soon as he saw the new addition to the room, shouted at the top of his lungs and began to squirm.
"NANA!" he screamed. Harry, to avoid dropping the child, squatted down and chuckled.
"Ok, runt, but you're going to get cold," he said as he set the child down. Teddy found his feet and charged at his grandmother; losing his towel on the way and running free and naked, his hair suddenly bright turquoise. George and Ginny burst out laughing while Harry chuckled. Andromeda scooped up her grandson and kissed him several times on his little face.
"Oh, I missed you too Bug. Let's get you ready for beddey-bye time. Thanks again, Harry, Ginny. It was nice meeting you George. Harry will you be by again this weekend?" she asked as she took the towel from Harry. He applied a quick warming charm to it before she re-wrapped the tot and George thought that was a truly caring thing to do, something a daddy would do. Cold towels were the worst on a naked body.
"Yeah I'll be back then. Are you sure the whole weekend is okay with you?" he asked.
"Of course it is. I love my little Bug, but I really need a weekend alone. I think you can handle him, you're wonderful with him," she replied. "Besides, I've already booked a weekend spa day with some girl friends of mine. Nana needs some TLC." She chuckled and raised her eyebrows when they laughed.
"Alright, well be best be off. We've got a family dinner to get to. Bah-Bye runt. I'll see you tomorrow night buddy." Harry reached up and kissed the child's head. When Teddy heard 'bah-bye' he started to cry and hold his arms out to Harry.
"No," he whimpered. Harry took Teddy for a moment and squeezed him tight giving him several kisses all over his face until Teddy was giggling like crazy. George felt a sudden desire for children of his own, and was smiling to himself. Suddenly, he felt horrible because he knew Fred would never get to have kids of his own and his smile faded. George just wanted to go home and down a bottle of whiskey instead of the family dinner. Unbeknownst to him, Ginny saw all this and knew what he was thinking.
"We should get going. Mum's going to have dinner ready any time now," she said. Harry nodded and handed the baby back.
"Alright Bug, time for bed, let's go," said the smiling woman.
She left the room carrying Teddy and the three adults Flooed to the Burrow.
George spent the night with a fake smile pasted on his face, and thanking his mum for all the work she'd done. He received several wonderful gifts, but each one made him want to sink deeper into the floor. From his mum and dad, he'd received a set of Muggle joke cards, and something called a Whoopee Cushion. From Hermione, he'd received a book about Mass Production and another on some guy named Ken Kesey. From Bill and Fleur he'd gotten an envelope, in it was a letter and a black piece of parchment. The letter dictated not to reveal the content in front of their parents. He was intrigued by this and wished to return home to see what it was, but finished opening presents. From Charlie he'd discovered a large box, when opened he found a bright yellow Dragon hide vest. It had swirls of green and orange in it also, but only vague hints when the light hit it right.
The last gift was from Harry and Ginny. He'd pulled the huge box to him and huffed out when he found it was fairly heavy. He reached in and felt around and found a smaller box and several smaller heavy box shapes. He pulled one out and discovered a brick. He looked at Harry confused.
"It's a Muggle thing I guess. It disguises the real item inside, because you feel the weight, and then mistake it for something else. The present is in the other box," he said as he shrugged.
George pulled out the second box and set it on his lap. It was slightly flatter than the other gifts, but thicker than the vest box. He looked over at Ginny and Harry and saw them share a hesitant glance then look back at him. He ripped off the tape and pulled out a brown paper wrapped object. He ripped the paper off and saw an amazing painting of himself. Then he realized it wasn't himself, but Fred. The painting yawned and stretched before looking out at everyone.
"Hello all!" he said. George nearly dropped the painting. Harry watched as George's jaw dropped and his eyes widened.
"Well, what's everyone looking at? Haven't you ever seen a portrait before?" said Fred.
"Fred? You…" George stuttered. He looked over at Harry. "You?" he asked.
"I was helping Molly with something a few weeks ago and we found some of Fred's stuff. In the box was an old hair comb, and it still had some hair in it. I grabbed it before anyone threw it away, and went to talk to Dean Thomas. He's going to Muggle Art School right now, to learn the basics and he's got several books on magical portraits. I asked him if I got him a picture from somewhere, could he recreate it and give it his personality using the hair I'd found and he said yes. I hope you don't mind, or think I overstepped my bounds, but I made two. One for you, and one for Molly and Arthur."
Molly, who had been crying since the painting had been uncovered, gasped and burst into new tears. Everyone else was teary eyed and smiling. George was stunned into silence. He set the painting to the side and stood up. He walked over to where Harry was standing and gave him the tightest hug he could manage.
"Awe…so touching…Now will someone please put me somewhere other than the floor? A little respect for the dearly departed perhaps?" said the painting. Everyone chuckled when George turned and smiled at the painting.
"I know the perfect place for such a highly honoured portrait as this one…" a few minutes later they could hear Fred's painting shouting from the bathroom.
George spent the rest of the time at his parents in a much better mood. He didn't feel so alone anymore.
That had been a month ago. Since then George had been talking with his twin's portrait and working through his grief that way. He was surprised how little it hurt to talk to a portrait instead of his living brother. He had imagined that seeing Fred in a frame would make him sadder than not seeing him at all, but Fred was quick to assure George that he preferred it this way, if the only other way was no portrait.
At first George had thought to hang Fred's painting in his bedroom, but being woken through the night to shouting about snoring too loudly, and being woken again at the crack of dawn to farting noises, he'd decided to place Fred in the living room above the small mantle. Fred just laughed loudly at George's grumbling, but had this sage piece of advice, "What if you brought a girl home, mate? Would you really want to get busy with her under my very watchful gaze?" After that comment, George stopped grumbling.
He chuckled at the memory of telling Fred he was visiting his grave today. He'd told his twin that morning after breakfast what the day was. Fred was surprised to say the least. He'd even asked George to take him with, but George refused. As much as the painting Fred acted and remembered as much as the real Fred, it wasn't quite the same.
"Maybe that's why this is so much more difficult to talk to you. I know your portrait is at home and at least can answer back." But that Fred didn't remember the letters, or at least didn't mention them when George hinted at the day. So George had one reason to go to the grave today, if any reason but to say, "Hi," and remember his twin.
He stared at the envelope in his hands for the umpteenth time and wondered what was in it. He sighed and decided that time wasn't going to stop for him and wait, so he turned the envelope over and slid his finger in. He paused before sliding it down the length of the paper, but once he'd finished he flipped open the flap, and pulled out a set of parchment. Blank parchment it was too.
"Is this some kind of joke, Fred? Because if it is, I may have to go back in time to wallop you one good," he said. After he finished saying it, Fred's loopy, playful script was seen in one line across the paper.
You know the words.
George smiled before saying, "I solemnly swear I am up to no good."
Keep going you're almost there, Twin.
This gave him a moment of pause. That was the statement, unless he meant, "Mischief managed?"
There you go. That it is for me twin. My mischief has been managed since you're reading this. At least in the land of living it is. Imagine me playfully pranking our delightful uncles, or maybe even our beloved Marauders. If Dumbledore is gone then he will eventually fall victim to me too, brother dear. Just know that wherever I am, I didn't let our life goal slip away too.
Now, I know it's been a year since the unfortunate instance of my death. Since you are reading this, I'm gone but you are alive. Awful luck mate, I'm just saying. I know you miss me, (how could you not, everyone loves me) but you have to move on mate. Just remember our Twin oath, we made promises to each other that if the unfortunate should happen, we both would know the other can't back out of our plans.
Now, if you're smart, you'd make a portrait of me, but since I've heard that it's really hard to do and get right without the person being alive and planning for it, I'll understand if that isn't to be. I didn't plan for it at least, so if it hasn't occurred to you until now…it may be harder to get some hair or what the Muggles call DNA. Not sure what it stands for, but its blood and saliva and yummy things like that. If you do end up wanting to make a portrait of me, you might have some luck with finding a toenail clipping of mine under my bed. Mum would be ashamed of the filth under there, but you never know what might come in handy in that "filth".
If you do end up getting a portrait of me, ask me for advice with the shop. I still have many ideas locked in the depths of my brain for excellent pranks, and you never know what might come out. We always knew I was the brains and you were the…wait, you were the brains I was the hunk of beautifulness that came up with ideas.
I just want you to know George, I love you…wow talk about cheesy lines…but really mate, you're my twin, there's no bond that's stronger in my humble opinion. If I were to sit and imagine for a while what it would be like without you, I'm sure it comes nowhere near actually feeling the absence of my awesomeness. I can't imagine what you're going through, but I know it must be hard.
I will point out a few things though. One, it will probably be really hard, but you have to move on, or bloody hell, I will come back and haunt your arse until you do. Two, don't separate yourself from the family. We spent all our lives being the Dynamic Duo that we were always a little bit separate from the family and I'm a little worried that if either of us dies we'll have a hard time re-joining the family as a single person. Share with them and laugh with them. Tell them stories about our adventures, and pranks we pulled that no one found out about. They deserve to know what an awesome person I was…and you too I guess. Three, the one person who has probably lost enough people to understand what you may be going through is our silent partner. Harry has lost many people in his life and more than anyone else we know, could probably help you out the most when it comes to the 'how do I move on' part of all this. Talk to him, and he can help. And finally, four…don't ever forget that you are, ARE! Forge Weasley. We are a part of each other no matter what happens to the other person. If I die, I live on in you, and if you die, you live on in me. We are twins, and twins we will be till we both die and meet again in…where ever we go afterwards.
Now there are some final touches to this oh so humble letter. Don't forget that since I'm dead, you have to name your first born son after me. Now, if somehow you are cursed to have only little Georgette's, name your little girl Fredina, you can call her Dina for short, or Freddie, or just Fred. But as long as I have a namesake, I won't haunt you. Better yet, name a child after me, or I'll come back as a poltergeist and haunt your kids…*evil chuckle* you know I would too. Whoa! Brainstorm…if you have twins mate, you have to…HAVE TO name them after us…even if they're girls. They could be Georgette and Fredina, Hogwarts worst nightmares return in female style. Best. Idea. EVER.
Well this sob-fest is getting long enough. I think I've said all I wanted too. Don't let the shop fall to ruin, please, please, please, don't let that happen. It was our dream and just because one of us isn't there doesn't mean it should go down the hole. Now that you've reduced me to begging (how could you, your own twin?! For shame…) I'll say good bye. I love you mate, and I'm sure I'll miss you where ever I am. But we will be together again someday. Live your life, blah-blah-blah, and tell mum and dad I love them too. Hell, tell them you love them also. We never say it enough. I'm rambling now…
One last prank I'd like you to do for me ... if it hasn't happened yet, get Ronniekins and Hermione together as a couple. They both need a good—
Love ya twin,
George was laughing too hard to cry at the letters contents. It would be just like Fred to turn this sad occasion into a laugh fest. Many of the things he'd said in the letter George knew already. The whole naming of the children was new, but not unexpected. George even thought Georgette was a cute name, Fredina left a little to be desired, but Dina was a good nickname.
George sat and pondered what it would be like to have twin girls to take on the legacy of the Weasley twins. He imagined the two girls wreaking havoc on Hogwarts and their grandparents and aunts and uncles. He didn't realize he was laughing out loud until he heard someone say, "I think he's finally cracked. Someone Floo St. Mungo's." He looked over and saw his whole family, plus Harry and Hermione standing there watching him leaning against the stone, letter in his hand, and staring at the sky with a smile on his face.
His parents were watching him with worried frowns, and the others were mixed between worry and strange smiles on their faces. Harry on the other hand was smiling warmly at him.
"Hey everyone," George said. "Pull up some grass, join me." The others looked at each other before circling the stone and sitting down. His parents on either side of him and the others spread out.
"Where's Bill and Fleur?" he asked.
"Bill said Fleur is really about to pop and has been having false labour pains for a few days now. They didn't want to risk it since little Weasley should be born any day now. Bill said he might stop by later though. You okay George?" said Charlie.
"I'm…okay Charlie, better than I have been in a while. By no means am I ever going to be completely healed, but I can see a future now again. Something that's been hard to see over the last year," he replied. The others were shocked that he'd said what he felt, but pleased with the positive answer.
"What do you have there, George?" asked Harry.
"This?" asked George waving the letter. "Oh, it's nothing really. Just a letter from Fred…" he said trailing off with a vague smile.
Molly and Arthur gasped and Percy leaned over his father to see a better look.
"But it's blank," he stated.
"Is it?" George asked surprised. He looked down and could still see the letter in plain sight.
"Yes, it's just blank parchment," restated Percy.
"Perhaps, it has a For-Your-Eyes-Only spell on it," said Hermione quickly. "Can you read anything, George?"
"Yes, I can see it perfectly. That's strange; he never said they should have that spell on them."
"Them?" asked Molly.
"Yes, Fred and I made a promise right after buying the shop. We wrote each other letters and made a Twin Oath, which I can't really discuss, but I can read the letter to you if you all would like?" he finished.
The others shared looks and then Arthur spoke.
"George, you don't have to share that with us. We'd love to know what Fred said, but you don't have to feel obligated to tell us. It was obviously meant for your eyes only, so you don't have to tell us," he said softly.
George smiled sadly before holding the letter up and read a certain part to everyone.
"Two, don't separate yourself from the family. We spent all our lives being the Dynamic Duo that we were always a little bit separate from the family and I'm a little worried that if either of us dies we'll have a hard time re-joining the family as a single person. Share with them and laugh with them. Tell them stories about our adventures, and pranks we pulled that no one found out about. They deserve to know what an awesome person I was…and you too I guess." He looked up to see several of his family laughing silently, but his mum and dad were tearing up.
"I know I don't have to share it with you, but I want to. First though, I think I need to tell you a story…"
George told of that night when they bought the shop and made their Twin Oath. Part of the magic of the Oath was that it can't be shared with others unless pertinent to the Oath's purpose so he skimmed that part, but everything else he shared. Finally he came to the letter. Reading it to them all was more painful that reading it to himself, but Fred's personality practically poured off the pages, and everyone was laughing through their tears by the end of it anyway. Ron and Hermione in particular blushed brightly at the end which caused everyone to laugh more.
George reached over and hugged his mum, then his dad. The family then spent the rest of the day talking about Fred and the twins' exploits over the years until late in the afternoon. Soon enough, several Weasley stomachs were grumbling for sustenance and they headed back to the Burrow.
When they walked in the door they all headed towards the living room. Molly stopped in the kitchen to put on a pot for tea and saw a piece of paper on the table.
She shrieked for Arthur after reading it and when he and the family came running they found her crying and waving the piece of paper around, dancing on the spot.
"Molly, what's wrong?" asked Arthur.
"I'm going to be a Grandma!" she wailed as she handed the paper to her husband who read it out loud.
"Family-Fleur in labour. At Mungo's. 3 pm. Come soon! Bill," he said. He looked up smiling. "Well, what are we waiting for, let's get going! We've got a new Weasley to welcome to the world!"
As everyone was running around getting ready, George couldn't help thinking to himself. One family member dies, and a year later, almost exactly to the day, a new family member is welcomed into the world. It was a strange balance, but he was finally able to accept his brother's death, and to celebrate he gets to become an uncle on the same day.
Twelve hours later, Victoire Amelia Weasley graced the world with her presence. Born at 4:44 in the morning on May second, 1999 she became the first of the third generation of Weasleys. George was the first to hold her after her parents and grandparents. He smiled at her and whispered in her ear, "I will train you well, my minion. You will raise hell for your parents all in the name of your Uncle Fred." She grasped his finger tightly and farted on his arm in response creating her first real smile. From that day on, George was her favourite uncle, and she was his favourite niece.
A/N: so I just had to do this story. It's been in my head since I wrote chapter 6, "George's Attempt" of my story Harry Potter and the Summer After. Fred was one of my favourite characters, and I felt strong sense of anger at JKR for killing off Fred. Personally, if she had to kill off a Weasley, it should have been Percy. I'm sorry, but to bring back a missing character since about book 5 at the end of the series and kill off someone else...that's just not good planning. I have nothing against Percy...I just liked Fred better.
As always, please review and tell me what you think! Did I hit the right amount of emotion? Does it feel like he's healing or just confused? Let me know, i can only grow by hearing what I did wrong and learning from my mistakes.
Thanks to my beta, Teufel1987 for editing so quickly! Also, this oneshot is dedicated to my mom, Happy Mother's Day mom! One day I'll write a real story, and dedicate it to you, but for now this should hold. :D