My Little Brother's Advice

Percy had wondered if he had caused irreparable damage to his family in the years that he had spent away from them. When he had realized his mistake he had wondered if they would accept him back into their lives, if things would be different when he went back. He had wondered how different their lives were, how they had changed and if when he returned to them if things could ever be the same again.

He knew now that they couldn't ever be the same. That there was a giant hole in the middle of their family that his presence back in their lives would do nothing to repair. Fred was gone. Percy was standing in front of a room full of people who had loved him and in a matter of moments he was supposed to get up and speak about his brother.

In the months when Percy hadn't been brave enough to try to leave the Ministry he'd still managed to catch the occasional Potterwatch. Hearing his brothers' voices had been the only connection he'd had to his family and they'd brought more comfort then he could ever voice. There had been times, even before he'd realized how daft he was, that he had missed his family so much that it physically hurt. Times when he would be so bogged down in work that he wanted nothing more than to find a "fertilizer sample" in his inbox. He had always put on the front that his twin brothers drove him craziest out of his entire crazy family and he'd never admitted to anyone that they were the ones who kept him most sane, dragging him back into the land of the living.

"Fred was my polar opposite." Percy cleared his throat, forcing himself not to look at his mother or there would be no way he could deliver the eulogy. "Anyone who knows both of us could vouch for that." Knows? Knew? Percy didn't know the appropriate tense - he just knew that he couldn't bring himself to use a past tense in reference to his brother. "I'm boring and straight laced, and, well you're all here so I'm sure it's safe to say that Fred is Fred. He was passionate about life, he did what he wanted and he lived life his own way."

Percy paused to take a deep breath, focusing his gaze on a random stranger in the back. He was unwilling to let his emotions get out of check. He had turned his back on his family and this was the only way he had to make this up to Fred, to give him the tribute he deserved.

"The thing about Fred, though, was that even if he and George had the largest file of rules broken in Hogwarts history; even if it was a miracle that he didn't blow the house up experimenting on Merlin knows what. He had a strong sense of what was right and wrong. He was by far one of the bravest people I knew." Had he really just said that? Knew. The realization of what he had said took his breath away for a minute. "He had the courage to speak the truth, when doing so could risk everything. He didn't stop twice to consider the potential danger when he chose to go to war."

Unbidden the vision of Fred in his last moments made it nearly impossible for Percy to continue. The battle with the tears he'd been fighting for more than an hour was over, the evidence running down his cheeks. There was no use fighting them now, he could hear her mother's soul crushing sobs as she and his father clung to each other in the front row.

"There were so many brave people during that day." Percy's eyes slid quickly over Harry, who looked as miserable as the rest of his family with a protective arm wrapped around Ginny. "The thing about Fred was he was always Fred. Even in those moments, in the face of serious dangers he could make you smile, make you realize that nothing was ever as serious as it appeared to be, which was a lesson he was always willing to illustrate for me so I thought we should head outside. Because standing around talking about what a great person Fred was would have suited him for about five seconds. If he was here he would have told me to lighten up, and have some fun. So I'm finally going to take my little brother's advice."

Percy left his prepared speech on the podium, it had been stiff and he'd been unable to bring himself to say any of it even though he'd locked himself in his old room yesterday trying to come up with the words. Making his way down the aisle toward the outdoors Percy was aware that everyone from the memorial was following behind him and out into the afternoon air. With a flick of his wand Percy set off a round of fireworks that he had "borrowed" from the joke shop. It was the only thing he had ever taken by less than honorable means but really Percy felt that it was something Fred would have appreciated.

There was a table that had been prepared with the help of Kreacher, spread with a mix of Fred's favorite foods and his favorite edible inventions. It was a party Fred would have loved, fully of eating and drinking and the occasional person turning into a canary.

Percy spent a couple of minutes observing everyone, through their tears they were laughing. That was the effect Fred had on people. Laughter in spite of danger. The mourning process was only just beginning and Percy wondered if there would ever be a time when they didn't notice the gaping hole that Fred had left behind; but forever they would carry memories of Fred with them. Memories that even through their tears they wouldn't be able to help but laugh just a little bit. Laughter in spite of loss.