A/N: So I know a lot of you are waiting anxiously for the next sequel in the Balcony series and I am working diligently on writing and editing that story. But I had to take a break to write this. I was in the middle of some writer's block and this idea popped into my head. I had recently finished rereading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and I cried (again) when Fred died. And I couldn't help but wonder what happened in those following weeks after the Battle of Hogwarts ended. Mostly from the perspectives of the Weasley siblings. So I sat down and wrote this in about two hours. I hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: I am not J.K. Rowling and therefore own absolutely nothing in this story. No matter how much I wish I did.
It had never been so eerily quiet at the Burrow before. With so many people running around, quiet had always been hard to come by. They all hated the quiet. It simply reminded them of what they had lost. But recently no one knew what to say or even do. For this reason alone, desolate silence seeped through every crack of the house. On that particular June morning, most of the Weasleys were still sleeping or at least pretending to sleep and they embraced the silence in that moment, fearing the storm that was about to erupt. None of them were in a hurry to fill that eerie quiet. None of them were in a hurry to get up. And none of them were in any sort of hurry to memorialize one of their own.
Four weeks had gone by since the Battle of Hogwarts. Since the fateful day that took the lives of many. The Ministry stepped in and scheduled the funerals in alphabetical order for there were so many unfortunate funerals to plan. As ghastly and unfeeling as an alphabetical order sounds, there wasn't really another solution for coping with the repercussions of the end of the war. So Fred's funeral was one of the last that everyone had to endure. For four weeks now, sobbing for other families had been typical behavior for the Weasleys. They watched the Creevy family grieve for their lost son. They stood by Andromeda and Ted Tonks and held tightly on to their grandson as their daughter was lowered into the ground. They cried with the hundreds of people who showed up at Remus' funeral. And never had so many proud people stood in one room than at Severus Snape's funeral. But now it was time to grieve for themselves.
Charlie was the only one in the kitchen that early morning. After a night of tossing and turning, he eventually gave up. Just being in his childhood bedroom was enough to bring back the many memories he had once shared with his brother.
He was standing at the kitchen sink stiffly, staring out the window with a permanent frown on his face. The coffee in his mug was cold but he still slowly sipped it. It kept him busy. He was staring out in the distance, at the open field that he and his family used to play Quidditch on during the sunny summer days. They had all been actively avoiding that quiet, empty field, too many memories seeping from it. Having six siblings and plenty of friends to go around came in handy when they all wanted to get in a good day's workout. He had been told by others in the past that he probably could have graduated Hogwarts and gone on to play for a high-quality professional Quidditch team, but he had always preferred those simple, quiet games in the backyard when it was just him, his siblings, and the comfort of familiarity.
Thoughts of Quidditch were freed from his mind when he heart soft footsteps behind him. Out of habit, he reached for his wand in his pocket as he hastily turned around.
"Put that thing away," Ron grunted, sliding into an empty seat at the kitchen table. He reached for a muffin and practically stuffed the whole thing in his mouth.
"Sorry," murmured Charlie guiltily, repocketing the wand. He pointed to the coffee pot. "Coffee?"
"You know I can't stand the stuff."
Charlie only shrugged and turned back towards the window. It was hazy out but it didn't appear to be raining. The clouds were grey and there was a cool breeze in the air, gently rustling the tree tops. The sun had just risen and left a distant glow of pink in the air. "Where's Hermione? Still sleeping?"
Ron winced. While Hermione was supposed to be sleeping on the cot in Ginny's room, she had been sneaking into Ron's room almost every night for the past four weeks. He wasn't surprised that Charlie knew. "Yes," Ron muttered, his ears turning pink. "I didn't want to wake her."
"If Mum finds out Hermione's been sleeping in your room, she's going to kill-" Charlie stopped short, the words catching in his throat. A shiver ran down his spine.
Ron glanced up from the plate of muffins, his heart beating a mile a minute. "Doesn't have the same ring to it anymore, does it." His voice was cold and uninviting.
"No," Charlie murmured. "It doesn't."
Ron didn't say anything. There was nothing for him to say.
"A muffin eez not nourishment enough," a voice spoke out from the stairwell. Ron and Charlie both turned to greet Fleur, who was nodding at them. "Give me a few minutes. I will whip somezing up."
"There's no need," Charlie pleaded. He quickly shut his mouth when she shot him a look. It wasn't a mean look. Simply a look that showed she felt desperate to help.
She threw on an apron from the pantry and started flicking her wand around to grab the necessary ingredients to make pancakes.
"I'm actually fine with a muffin," Ron murmured, slumping down in his chair. He didn't dare and try to eat anything more substantial.
"Please," she whispered, her eyes on the stove. "Let me do somezing."
Ron shared a look with Charlie, who could only nod. "Okay," Ron gave in. "Let me go change first."
They all knew that Ron's intentions weren't to go change but neither questioned it. Ron slowly trudged up the stairs to his bedroom, pausing only briefly before knocking. He didn't think Hermione would appreciate him barging in on her even if it was his own room. He was still trying to respect her privacy. He didn't hear a response so he slowly creaked open the door. She was still lying in his bed but by the sound of her even breathing, he had a feeling she wasn't actually sleeping.
"Hey," he whispered, instinctively kissing her cheek.
She stirred slightly, glancing over her shoulder. "Where'd you go?"
"Are those pancakes I smell?"
"Fleur's cooking," Ron muttered. "I didn't have the heart to tell her that it's pointless. No one will be eating anything today."
Ron wasn't surprised when he saw tears glistening in Hermione's eyelids. He slowly climbed back into the bed, wrapping her up in his arms and drawing her close to him. It felt so right, so comfortable, to have her in his arms. After so many years of ignoring his feelings for her, he finally had the girl of his dreams. He still couldn't believe it.
"Ron, I don't know what to say," she admitted.
He cracked a smile. "Well, that's certainly a first."
She gazed up at him with a grim frown, concern laden on her face. "Ron," she said softly. "I'm-"
"Please don't," he begged, cutting off the apology as he bit down on the inside of his lip. "You…you don't have to say anything. Just…just lie here with me."
She nodded, burying her head in his arms.
Three floors down, the atmosphere was a bit different. While Molly had intended Harry to obviously be staying in Ron's room, Ron and Harry had struck a deal. Hermione could stay in Ron's room if Harry could sneak into Ginny's room. Normally, Ron would have immediately refused and sent a hex at Harry for even suggesting it. But seeing as Ginny was barely speaking to anyone and when she did, it was often in a frenzied half-screaming manner, Ron wasn't terribly worried about Harry in Ginny's room. He knew that Harry was just sleeping on the cot in the middle of the room and not in Ginny's bed with her. And seeing as Ron hadn't been able to get Ginny to talk about Fred, he had hoped that perhaps Harry could. Unfortunately, Harry hadn't had any luck either.
Harry was wide awake and he could smell pancakes emanating from the kitchen. But it wasn't pancakes he was thinking of; it was Ginny. She hadn't cried a single tear since Fred's death and Harry couldn't help but pray that Ginny would let out her emotions sooner rather than later. He couldn't stand by and watch her bottle her emotions any more, the pain evident in every word and movement she made even though she tried hard to fight it.
Harry glanced over at Ginny and frowned. She had her quilt buried over her head and she was curled up in a tiny ball, her feet sticking out ever-so-slightly from the end of her quilt.
"I can feel you staring at me," a muffled voice came from underneath the quilt.
Harry jumped slightly. "Ginny" was all he could think to say.
"Why do you insist on sleeping down here?" she grunted. "This room is a tiny hellhole. You have more room in Ron's bedroom."
"I don't care about the space," he said softly.
Ginny threw off the quilt and Harry wasn't surprised to see a glare on her face. That glare seemed permanent recently. There were heavy shadows under her eyes and her face was colorless. She had a single scratch above her right eye, the only remnant from the Battle of Hogwarts. "I need to get changed."
Harry nodded. He knew that was his cue to exit her bedroom. "I'm here for you, Ginny. " It was the same five words he uttered every morning before disappearing out of her room.
"Don't be." It was the same response he heard every morning as well.
He made the long, winding trip up to Ron's bedroom, a million thoughts swirling through his head. The same thoughts he had been having for four weeks now. He couldn't help but wonder if Ginny subconsciously blamed him for Fred's murder.
Harry opened Ron's bedroom door and entered, wincing as he saw his two best friends mid-liplock. "I need to learn how to knock."
"Sorry," Hermione muttered, blushing a deep red. "How's Ginny?"
Harry frowned, choosing not to respond as he glided over to his trunk and searched for a good pair of black robes.
"That bad, hm?"
Harry shrugged. "I don't know how to help her."
"None of us do," Hermione reassured. "Just give her time."
Harry continued busying himself by reaching for a pair of robes and repacking his trunk. He eventually turned back to his two friends. "And you, Ron?"
Ron hesitated, his heart speeding up slightly. "I'm fine." It was a blatant lie.
Harry and Hermione exchanged a quick look but neither said anything. They had learned it was better to remain silent than try and offer what seemed like dense, partial heartfelt condolences.
"We should head downstairs," Ron continued, changing the subject quickly like he so often did when uncomfortable. He had become a pro at changing the subject in the last four weeks. "I'd hate for Fleur to go to all that trouble for nothing."
Hermione gently pressed her lips against his cheek before slipping out of his bed and out of the room. She ran smack into Bill coming out of the bathroom and she cringed, her face glowing bright red. "Morning," she murmured.
Bill couldn't help but offer her a sly smile, quickly tying his ragged, too-small-for-him bathrobe around his waist. He made a slight motion that he was going to head down the stairs but halted at the last minute. He turned around to face her. "I'm glad you're here for him. He might not show it, but he's pretty torn up about all of this."
Hermione's heart skipped a beat. "I know he is," she whispered softly.
"All he really needs is someone to hold his hand," Bill admitted with a shrug. "And to be perfectly honest, I don't think he'd accept anyone's hand but yours."
She blushed, smiling feebly. "I just wish it could change what happened."
Bill hesitated, dropping his gaze from hers. "Nothing can do that." His eyes were filled with disappointment and regret, his gratitude quickly dissipating into futility. He offered her a curt nod before leading them both back down towards the first floor. He disappeared into his bedroom and Hermione knocked lightly on Ginny's door.
"I told you to go away!"
Hermione sighed. She never knew such anger could come from Ginny and she sincerely wished that there was some way she could help her, but Ginny had been making it perfectly clear that not only did she not want anyone's help but that she just wanted to be left alone. She had made the necessary appearances at the funerals, her eyes remaining dry and void of any feeling, and had disapparated quickly after each one. She often shut herself up in her bedroom, or if it was a nice enough day she would disappear for hours, claiming to be taking leisurely strolls along the outskirts of their property. No matter how much they all tried to offer some sort of comfort, she always quickly rejected it.
"Ginny, it's me."
There was silence on the other side of the door and Hermione heard Ginny whisper "Alohomora!"
When Hermione walked into the bedroom, she wasn't surprised to still see Ginny in bed. Her quilt had been pushed down to the end of the bed and Ginny's arms were wrapped around her pillow, her back facing Hermione. "Fleur's making pancakes."
Ginny snorted. "Yeah, sure, like pancakes are really going to make us forget what today is."
"I don't think Fleur intends for them to make us forget," Hermione said softly.
Every time Hermione glanced at Ginny, she wanted to cry. It was obvious that Ginny was hurting and Hermione wished that Ginny would just let someone in. Anyone in. It didn't even have to be her.
Hermione meandered over to her trunk, searching for the black dress she had brought for the occasion. "We should get dressed," Hermione said gently.
"I'm not going."
Hermione froze, whirling around. "What did you say?"
"You heard me."
"But…you have to go."
"No," Ginny said firmly, her voice rigid and vehement. "No, I don't. Not this way."
Hermione frowned. "Not what way?"
Ginny didn't respond. She gripped her pillow tighter in her arms and simply shook her head. "Do you mind locking the door on your way out?"
Hermione stood in the middle of the room, frozen with shock and confusion. She had always been so good with words and logic and now, she was finding it impossible to speak. She had no idea what to say to Ginny. She had a good feeling that no matter what she said, Ginny wouldn't listen. "Don't you want closure?" she pleaded.
"No. What I want is for you to lock the door on your way out."
She was cut off. "Please, Hermione."
There was such desperation in Ginny's voice, filling Hermione's eyes with blurred tears. She quickly brushed them aside. She was afraid if she started crying now, she may never stop. "Okay," she whispered hoarsely. She knew that she wasn't the right person to convince Ginny that attending Fred's funeral was the right thing to do.
The kitchen was bustling with people when Hermione arrived. Fleur was at the stove, flipping pancakes, while Arthur was by the china cabinet, levitating a set of plates over to the kitchen table. Bill was beside Fleur at the sink, helping her wash the dishes, while Charlie remained stoic at the kitchen table with his same coffee mug in his hand. Percy was attempting to shine his shoes, his pin-striped suit looking rather lavish for the occasion. He still had a large black and blue bruise on the side of his face from when Rookwood attacked him nearly four weeks earlier. Ron and Harry were sitting at one end of the table with a plate of pancakes in front of them, though neither were really eating them. They were merely moving the pieces of food around on their plates.
"Do you need help, Fleur?" Hermione asked, clearing her throat. She was desperate for something to distract her thoughts.
Fleur glanced up. Her initial reaction was to say no, but the look on Hermione's face made her change her mind. "You can help with ze eggs." She wasn't originally planning on making eggs but she couldn't think of anything else to say.
Hermione let out a sigh of relief and scurried over to the refrigerator to search for eggs. She was very aware of Ron's eyes on her the entire time and she couldn't help but blush. The look of admiration on his face told Hermione he thought she looked pretty in her dress. But it wasn't the day to express compliments, so Hermione wasn't disappointed when Ron didn't speak up.
"What's all this?"
Everyone froze, their eyes lifting to meet Molly's gaze who had just entered the room in a simple and yet elegant black lace dress. Her eyes were on the pancakes and eggs on the stove.
"Um…breakfast," Fleur stammered.
Tears brimmed in Molly's eyes as she slowly took an empty seat at the table. "None for me, thanks. I'll just have tea."
"You need to eat, Mum," Bill pleaded, offering his mother a look of desperation.
Molly opened her mouth to argue once again, but found that the only thing that would come out were sobs. As she glanced around the room at all of her sons and daughters and their friends and family, she couldn't help but feel that there was a strong presence missing from that room. "Oh, I'm s-sorry!" she babbled, dabbing her eyes with a napkin.
Arthur quickly scrambled to her side, reaching for her hand. "No need to apologize, dear," he whispered, stroking her hair. "I have a feeling that's going to happen a lot around here today."
Molly merely nodded as she whisked herself away to the nearest bathroom.
An eerie silence spread across the kitchen. Only the sounds of utensils clanging against dishes and the occasional splatter from the stove and the squeaky racket from Percy's shoes filled the room.
"Is Ginny almost ready?" Charlie's voice finally broke the silence. He glanced over at Hermione.
She froze, her eyes fixating on the scrambled eggs in front of her. "I don't know," she admitted, her heart pounding. "She…um…" she trailed off, too embarrassed to admit that Ginny didn't want to attend her own brother's funeral.
"She doesn't want to go, does she?" Harry wondered aloud.
Hermione could only shake her head.
Arthur was about to chime in when another familiar voice filled the room. A voice that had once been filled with such joy and laughter and had been recently replaced with deep sorrow and grief. "Like hell she won't. If I have to suffer through today, so does she."
Chills ran down everyone's spines as their heads all turned to face George who was standing at the bottom of the stairs in his frayed bathrobe that appeared to be too short and tight in the middle. He looked exhausted and his face was quite pale. There were heavy bags under his eyes and frown lines creased the sides of his mouth. His eyes were red and swollen and he was hunched over, his eyes fixating on the floor than dare look his family in the eyes.
"George," his father spoke.
"Was anyone going to wake me?"
"We were giving you time," said Bill.
"What the hell is time going to do?" he snorted.
No one had a response.
"That's what I thought," he murmured, his voice cracking. "I'm going back to bed. Wake me up when it's tomorrow."
"George, please join us," Arthur spoke again, his voice firmer. "Fleur made breakfast."
George shook his head. "I'm sorry if food is the last thing on my mind right now," he whispered hoarsely. He looked so helpless and vulnerable in that moment, something that none of them were particularly used to seeing from George. Before any of them could convince him to stay, he quickly skipped up the two flights of stairs and raced into his room. They all heard the door slam and knew that George was crawling back into his bed at that very moment.
"I'll go talk to him," Bill suggested, throwing the washcloth on to the kitchen counter.
"No," Percy said hoarsely. It was the first words he had spoken that morning. "We should all go."
The four brothers all exchanged looks and nodded simultaneously.
"Harry, you coming?" Charlie asked at the bottom of the stairs.
Harry looked up, startled. "What?"
"You're practically a Weasley," Ron chimed in.
Harry offered them a weak smile. "Thanks, but I think this is something that you guys should do alone." Truth was, Harry had been finding it difficult to look George in the eyes. No matter how many times the Weasleys reassured him that they didn't blame him for Fred's death, Harry couldn't help but feel responsible. With every funeral he attended, he felt a stab in the heart at the reminder that no one would be buried if it wasn't for him.
The four brothers headed cautiously up the two flights of stairs to George's room. It was still hard to think of it as just George's room, especially when a sign that read "Gred and Forge's room: Enter if you dare!" adorned their door. While George and Fred had moved out of the Burrow two years earlier, that room would still always belong to them. They spent more than enough time there during the war.
They all stood outside the door for several minutes before Bill finally knocked. It came as no surprise when there was no response on the other side of the door. Bill let himself into the room and his brothers followed.
There was a light glow from the sun peeking in through the window drapes, revealing the room as if it had never changed. George was curled up in a ball on his bed, facing the wall with his pillow pulled over his head and his quilt was wrapped tightly around himself. Fred's bed remained unmade just as he left it last. Old remnants of Weasley Wizard Wheezes lay atop Fred's old bureau with a collection of Wild-fire Whiz-bangs strewn haphazardly and used decoy detonators were discarded and old wrappers from what used to be fever fudges and nosebleed nougats were cast off to the side. On Fred's bed lay old, dirty clothes and on the floor were discarded paper plates and soda cans that once held his afternoon snacks. In a way, it was a reminder of the messy, unorganized person that Fred had been. George had always complained about his brother's lack of organizational skills but George didn't have the heart to throw anything out. As if once he did, George would have to face the fact that his twin brother really was gone.
"George," Bill said lightly.
"Go away," he croaked, tightening the pillow around his head.
The four other brothers exchanged looks, none of them knowing really what to say. They had been giving George his space lately, knowing that that was what he needed. But that day was about all of them.
"George, please," Charlie spoke up, his voice full of desperation.
George sat upright at the sound of Charlie's voice. His eyes narrowed at all of his brothers standing around his bed. "What the hell is this, an ambush?"
"We just wanted to be here for you," said Bill.
"Well, you all standing huddled around my bed is more creepy than it is comforting," he murmured, rolling his eyes and turning back over, throwing his quilt over his head.
"Look, we all know that today is going to be difficult," Bill continued, hanging his head as a wave of misery rushed through him, "But we're not going to be able to do it alone. And thankfully, we don't have to. "
"Yeah, that big family of ours has really paid off," George said sarcastically. "We may have to deal with only two washrooms and that whole hand-me-downs thing has really sucked, but at least we can be there for each other at one of our own brother's funeral."
The room fell silent. Percy felt the tears rush to his eyes and he turned away from his brothers, rubbing his eye as if something had just flown into it in order to stop the tears from falling. He had pushed his family away for nearly three years and every day for the past four weeks, Percy awoke in the morning feeling regretful and guilty. He had lost out on three precious years that could have been spent with his younger brother and now he'd never get the chance to appreciate Fred for who he was. He would never forget that it was Fred who was the first to forgive him for the way he had disowned his family. Fred was the first to extend his hand out to him and he'd never forget the compassion and kindness that Fred truly embraced.
There was a flicker of irritation in Bill's eyes from George's unnecessary sarcasm. He strode over to George's bed and wrenched the covers off of George, tossing them to the side. He grabbed the pillow underneath George's head, ignoring George's complaints, and shoved it into Charlie's hands. "You want to use crude humor to ease your pain, George, you go right ahead. But you will get up and you will get dressed and you will go downstairs and eat some of my lovely wife's bloody breakfast and you will pretend to enjoy it, you hear me? Today isn't just about you," he croaked, choking on the end of his words. He had to swallow hard and catch his breath before continuing. "We…we all lost not only a brother four weeks ago, but we lost a friend. And nothing we do or say is going to change that. But at least we have each other. At least…at least we don't have to go through this alone. You have us, George. You always will." He crumbled on the end of George's bed, his eyes fixated on Fred's messy bed. The quilt was tangled in the sheets, bunched up in a ball at the end of the bed with the pillow askew at the top. A Quidditch poster hung lopsided above the head of the bed and there were magazine clippings of young models and actresses plastered on the wall. Photos of his family and friends were taped unevenly against the side of his bed. No one was smiling in the photos.
George hung his head shamefully and slowly sat up, pulling his knees into his body. "Humor is the only way I…I can deal with it," he said softly. "It's almost as if I…" he trailed off, blushing.
"What?" Ron urged.
George swallowed the lump from his throat, chewing on the inside of his lip to stop the tears that were threatening to form. "It's as if every time I let out a joke, I can still hear him laugh."
Silence filled the room and they all took that time to think about the memories they've shared with Fred in that very room. All of their eyes were drawn to Fred's bed, as if they might find him jumping on the mattress springs like he so often did as a young kid.
"I'll get up and get dressed," George finally broke the silence, mostly because he didn't want to talk about Fred anymore. He strolled over to his closet and threw open the door, searching for his black robes. "Has anyone talked some sense into Ginny yet?"
No one responded. Truth was, they had all been very good at avoiding Ginny recently. Every time someone tried to talk to her, she barked at them. They all felt helpless in her vicinity. They were her older brothers and were supposed to know how to help her and it was difficult knowing she was doing all she possibly could to push each and every one of them away.
"Ah, still scared of her?" George murmured with a hint of his smile on his face. A sad smile, but at least it was a smile.
"Aren't you?" Ron snorted.
"Hell, yeah!" George agreed immediately. "I don't think I've said two words to her since we returned to the Burrow."
"She needs us," Bill pointed out.
"Yes, maybe," said George, "But until she asks for our help, we won't be able to do anything for her. Stubbornness does run in the family." He turned back around to face his brothers, who were all nodding their understanding. "Now as charming as it is to have you all squished into our small bedroom," he murmured. The use of the word 'our' didn't go unnoticed by any of them. "I'm not going to get changed while you all watch. So kindly get out."
No one made a movement.
George rolled his eyes. "Do you want to take my mattress and pillow just to be sure I won't crawl back into bed?"
"Kind-of," Ron chimed in.
George didn't laugh. He didn't even crack a smile. He turned back towards his closet. "I just want to get today over with."
"We all do," Percy whispered, finally speaking up.
George glanced up at Percy, who was staring intently on a stain on the carpet. Percy had been avoiding eye contact with George since Fred's death, though George hadn't been really concerned with why.
Percy was the first one to depart, nodding curtly at George before doing so. There was nothing else to say so the rest of them started filing out as well. Bill stopped at the doorway, glancing back towards George, whose gaze was fixed on the left side of the closet where all of Fred's old clothes hung. George's hands reached out to one of Fred's black robes, his bottom lip trembling.
"Wear it," Bill said.
George jumped, turning towards the door. "I thought you left."
"Wear his robes, George. He would have wanted that."
George offered a curt nod, avoiding eye contact with his brother. He couldn't respond, a lump forming in his throat that wouldn't disappear.
Bill slowly walked over to George and placed his hand on his shoulder. "We're here for you, George."
He shut his eyes tightly, nodding again. "I know," he croaked out. He hesitated, glancing over his shoulder at the eldest Weasley. His eyes looked weary and yet concerned. There were wrinkles creased along his forehead and he looked pale. George suddenly wondered when the last time he had shown any sense of empathy for the rest of his brothers. "I'm here for you, too, y'know."
"I know," Bill said, dropping his hand from George's shoulder as he shuffled towards the door. "See you downstairs?"
George hesitated before nodding. "I'm going to stop in Ginny's room first."
Bill's heart skipped a beat. "Okay." They had all tried talking to Ginny at one point or another with very little luck, except for George. George hadn't been lying before; he and Ginny hadn't exchanged many words since returning to the Burrow after the Battle at Hogwarts. George didn't know what to say to her and she clearly didn't know what to say to him. George had the sense that Ginny didn't want to talk about it at all and he had taken a similar approach. But George now wondered if there was something else going through Ginny's mind. Something deeper that none of them had been able to decipher. And it was time that George was there for Ginny, even if she claimed that she didn't want him to be.
Ginny was wrapped up in her quilt , her pillow covering her head, when George entered her room without so much as a knock.
She heard someone moving around and let out a throaty growl. "Can't you all just leave me the hell alone?"
She froze, not expecting George's voice at all. She slowly poked her head out from underneath her pillow and gazed up at her brother. He hadn't entered Ginny's room since Fred's death. "What are you doing here?" she croaked out.
George perched on the cot in the middle of the room. "I hear you want to skip the funeral."
Ginny shrugged coolly. "Yes."
He frowned, not taking his eyes off her. "Why?"
"I…he…" she dithered, swallowing hard. She sat upright, pulling the quilt up underneath her chin. "I just can't."
"Well, did you ever think that maybe we need you there?"
She dropped her gaze from his guiltily. "I can't go, George," she said firmly, shaking her head vehemently. "Not like this."
"Not like what?"
She hesitated, biting down on her bottom lip like she so often did when feeling vulnerable. George was suddenly struck with the reminder that Ginny was no longer that baby sister of his. She had somewhere over the years turned into a woman.
"Ginny," he said softly when she didn't respond, getting up off the cot and resting on the edge of her bed beside her. "What's going on?"
"Nothing," she urged, the words spewing bitterly. She crossed her arms, staring across the room at a crack in the wall.
"Talk to me, Gin-"
"Why should I?" she spouted, glaring at him. "You haven't paid any attention to me in the past month, so why should I bother speaking to you now?"
George pursed his lips. "Well, you've made it perfectly clear that you didn't want anyone speaking to you. I was just trying to respect your wishes."
"Because every time someone opens their mouth, they want to talk about…about him, and I have no desire to dredge up the past! Why can't we just move on!"
"That's what the funeral is supposed to be about," George said softly. "Moving on."
"No, this funeral is a crock," she snapped immediately, jumping off her bed and rushing towards her closet.
George was speechless, taken aback by her accusation. "Er…what?"
She remained silent, digging through her closet for nothing in particular. She was just trying to keep busy so as not to glance in her brother's direction.
His voice was soft and hoarse, filled with concern and compassion. She whirled around and glared at him. "This isn't what Fred would have wanted, George," she murmured slowly.
"What do you mean?"
She pointed to him. "This!" she cried out, gesturing to his robes. "Fred wouldn't have wanted us all to get dressed in black and cry endlessly over him. He would have hated all of this sentimental, sappy crap. He would have wanted…wanted fireworks and he would have wanted us to tell the…the funny stories from his past so that people laugh. He would have wanted us to be able to go on with our lives normally and remember the good times. He would have wanted his funeral to be a…a circus or a carnival, not a dull interment." She swallowed hard, blinking back the tears that were forming. The first sign of tears in four weeks. "He wouldn't have wanted his funeral to be like every other funeral we've unfortunately had to attend these past few weeks."
In seconds, George was by her side with his hand placed comfortingly on her shoulder. He pointed to a yellow floral dress in her closet. "So wear this."
She whirled around, glancing at him curiously. "What?"
George swallowed hard and glanced down at his own brother's robes. "You're right, Ginny," he whispered. "He wouldn't have wanted any of this. He would have hated it. He's probably staring down at us right now screaming at us for even considering showing up to his funeral looking like a bunch of dementors."
Ginny hesitated, expecting there to be a catch.
"I have the dragon-skin suits in our closet we bought for the opening of our joke shop," George contemplated. "I'll wear that."
"And I still have a box of Wildfire Whizzbangs up in our room. We can use those."
"Unfortunately, I don't know if I can stop everyone else from crying, but I have a lot of funny stories from our past I can tell."
"It won't be anything near a circus or a carnival, but it's something."
He glanced down at her. "What?"
She turned around, placing her palm on his cheek adoringly. "I don't expect you to save the day," she whispered, shaking her head slowly. "This day is far from salvageable."
A moan caught in George's throat and he turned back around, slowly wandering over to the only window in her room, the morning light peeking in. "I know I can't save the day," he murmured eventually. "But…"
He let out a deep sigh. "I couldn't save his day," he continued. He didn't have to explain who 'he' was. "The least I could do is try and save the day for someone else in my family."
Ginny was standing by his side in a heartbeat, resting her head against his arm. "You couldn't have saved him, George."
He blinked, glancing out at the stream that ran parallel to the house. "I know," he murmured, hanging his head shamefully. "I just…"
He didn't respond immediately. His eyes didn't stray from the trickling water as an image of his brother in the explosion attacked his mind. "Why him?" he whispered. It had been the question on his mind since his brother's death. "Why Fred? There were others around during that explosion. Percy and Thicknesse and…and Ron and Harry and Hermione were all there. Why did they all live through it but…but Fred had to die? Why is it that I had my ear blown off and lived through it, but a single explosion killed my twin brother?"
Ginny responded, "You can't beat yourself up thinking about it. It's not healthy."
George could only nod, trying to blink away the tears that were forming. "It's not fair," he whispered, his voice cracking.
Ginny tightly embraced her brother, who stood stiffly in her arms. "I know, George," she said softly.
He eventually stepped out of her arms and plopped back down on the cot, brushing away any evidence of tears from his eyes. "He was my twin brother," he muttered. "I…I should have known what he wanted for today and yet…you are the only one who thought about it."
"You've been focused on grief, George."
He offered a curt nod and remained quiet, swallowing hard. He didn't offer a response and Ginny didn't say anything else. George remained stoic on the bed and Ginny hovered uncomfortably by the window. She glanced outward, noticing a dark cloud in the mere distance, the sun fighting to peek through. She was startled by the sound of George's voice. "Wear the yellow dress, Ginny."
She froze, slowly turning around. He offered her a sad smile. "We can't turn today into a carnival or a circus, but we can try and give Fred the memorial service he deserves."
She nodded. "Alright."
He strode to the door, hesitating as he opened it. "Are you going to be okay?"
Ginny hesitated, Fred's face suddenly flashing through her mind. "Not now," she admitted in a soft whisper. "But someday I will be."
He locked eyes with her briefly before disappearing out of her room. Ginny glanced sideways at her bed, wanting nothing more than to crawl into it and bury herself underneath her quilt and pillow. But she was reminded of George's words from earlier.
"Well, did you ever think that maybe we need you there?"
Ginny strode over to her closet and pulled out the yellow dress.
George returned to Ginny's room in the tawdry dragon-hide suit and smiled at the sight of his younger sister brushing her hair in front of the mirror wearing the yellow dress. She had been surrounded by males growing up and he was sure she was going to become a tomboy. And up until age fifteen, she had worn oversized T-shirts and thrown her hair up into a ponytail every chance she got. But when Michael Corner asked her out, she had changed in an instant. His younger sister who barely knew what make-up was and rarely spent longer than a few minutes getting dressed had become a young adult who used lip gloss and started buying thin-strapped dresses to wear during the summers. He was proud of the person she turned into. "You look beautiful," he said.
Ginny jumped, turning around to face her brother. "What do you think everyone else is going to say?"
He shrugged. "Only one way to find out."
She cracked a slight smile. She slipped on her heels and followed George out of her room.
All eyes were on the two of them as they walked in. Everyone was seated around the long kitchen table, plates of pancakes resting on the table in front of them. Ron and Hermione were holding hands under the table and Arthur's arm was draped around Molly's shoulders, her head on his shoulder. Arthur was the first to speak, his eyes bursting with confusion as he stared at the outfit choices of George and Ginny. "What are you…" he trailed off, unable to finish the question.
Ginny swallowed hard, dropping her eyes to the floor. "It's what he would have wanted," she said in a small voice.
Silence filled the room as they realized what she was saying. Realizing that she was right. Wearing black was something that Fred would have hated Percy was the first to push his chair back and stand up. "I have a red tie I could wear," Percy eventually spoke.
"And I have a pink and white dress," Hermione chimed in, squeezing her boyfriend's hand. She glanced over at him, who hesitated.
"I have maroon robes," he eventually said, slowly climbing out of his chair and gesturing for Hermione to join him.
They all started murmuring the brightly-colored clothes they had in their closets, standing up one-by-one, leaving only Molly and Arthur seated in awe.
"Mom?" said Ginny.
The tears glazed over her mother's eyes, slowly spilling out. She placed her palm on her heart as her eyes scanned the faces of her children, their loved ones, and their friends. "I am so proud of all of you," she whispered. "Go change. I shall wear my turquoise dress."
Everyone besides Ginny and George hurried out of the room. Before her mother could shuffle up the stairs, she reached out and embraced her only daughter. "I love you, Ginevra."
Ginny didn't dare respond, afraid she might cry. She was suddenly reminded of the numerous times that Fred had called her by her full name, always for the same reason: because she was mad at him and he was trying to get a rise out of her. Being the youngest Weasley and the only girl, she often found herself on the unfortunate end of his pranks. She would give him the silent treatment to the best of her ability and he would call her Ginevra, knowing she'd feel the compulsive urge to scream at him for using the name she had tried so hard to bury.
George's eyes locked with Ginny over their mother's shoulder and Ginny wondered briefly if he was thinking the same thing that she was.
A little under an hour later, two Ministry cars pulled up outside their front door, waiting for the eleven people inside the Burrow to climb inside in order to take them to the church. It was Fleur who saw the two black cars roll up to the home as she was in the middle of washing the dishes. She froze, an image of a Hearse flooding her memory. "Ze cars are 'ere," she said softly, slowly glancing over her shoulder at the members of the Weasley family.
They all stiffened, refusing to meet anyone's eyes.
Bill, Fleur, Charlie, Ron, Hermione, and Harry filed into one car (much to the silent protest of Harry. Even though Ginny was doing her best to push Harry away, he had wanted to be with her every step of the way. But Ginny had whispered for him to go with his friends and he unwillingly obliged). The other car consisted of Ginny, Percy, George, Arthur, and Molly.
When they rolled up to the church, a light drizzle had begun and they saw an abundance of people flooding the sidewalk. Lee Jordan was waiting outside with Angelina Johnson and Katie Bell. George saw Oliver Wood slowly traipsing into the church with Alicia Spinnet. He noticed McGonagall, Flitwick, and Hagrid all huddling around the entrance, trying to direct people into the church. Kingsley Shacklebolt had just apparated and a hush fell over the crowd of people. He had been named the new Minister of Magic and people had already been impressed with the way he had handled the aftermath. Luna was waiting with her father. There were hundreds of old Hogwarts students adorning the streets and wandering into the church from Gryffindor and Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff: Neville Longbottom was there beside Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas; Hannah Abbot; the Patil twins were holding on to each other; Zacharias Smith was standing talking to Ernie MacMillian; Romilda Vane; Justin Flinch-Fletchley and Susan Bones were holding hands; Cormac Mclaggen; Lavender Brown; Cho Chang; Penelope Clearwater. And with those students were their parents and their brothers and their sisters and their aunts and their uncles and their grandmothers. The church was overflowing with people and it ached George's heart to know they were all there to offer their condolences and support him and his family during their time of need while they dealt with their own grief.
Arthur and Molly climbed out of the car right behind Ginny. George froze, feeling himself unable to get out of the car. He saw Bill, Fleur, Charlie, Ron, Hermione and Harry fall out of the car in front of him one-by-one, Ron refusing to let go of Hermione's hand with Harry right by their side. George watched old Gryffindor students flock to the three of them and wasn't sure he could handle dealing with the hundred apologies and sad eyes. If anyone thought any confusion over their choice of outfits, it didn't appear that they said anything.
"I-I can't do it."
It wasn't George's voice that spoke, however. George tore his eyes off of his younger brother and his friends and glanced towards Percy. His face was white, his eyes widened with fear. George couldn't remember a time he didn't see Percy composed and put together so this anxious panic had George slightly worried. "Perce?"
He shook his head frantically. "I-I can't go in there, George."
George furrowed his brow, confused, as he leaned over and patted his brother's knee. Percy flinched and felt the tears burst from his eyes, streaming down his face. "George, I have to tell you something," he said softly, staring at the floor earnestly. "And…and you might hate me afterward, but…but I can't lie to you anymore."
There might have been a hundred people right outside that Ministry car, but George felt as if he and Percy were the only ones there. He felt a chill slip down his back. "Lie about what?"
"It's…it's my fault," he whispered barely audibly, the tears blurring his vision. "It's my fault he died. He was…he was looking at me. Laughing at my joke."
George was taken aback by the sudden confession. "Well, that doesn't sound like you," he said with a hint of a smile, clearly trying to ease the tension.
"I know! That's exactly what…what he said," Percy whispered. "He…said that he hadn't heard me joke in…in…"
"In what?" George asked pleadingly. He had never been told what Fred's last words were and in a way, this felt comforting.
"I don't know!" Percy squeaked, burying his head in his hands as sobs erupted from his mouth. "I don't know because that's when the explosion came! One minute, I was feeling glad that for once, Fred was appreciating me, and the next minute, I-I was holding his stiff, bloody hand trying to shake him awake."
George placed his hand on Percy's shoulder comfortingly, waiting for Percy's sobs to subside. "Percy," he whispered.
"I'm so sorry!" Percy blubbered, shaking his head in disbelief.
"Percy," George said sternly.
Percy hiccupped before glancing up in George's eyes for the first time since the explosion. "What?"
"Fred always appreciated you," he explained softly, a lump forming in his throat. "We…we might have mocked you from time to time, but…but you were still our brother. You will always be a Weasley. And therefore, we will always appreciate you."
Percy could only nod, a lump forming in his throat.
"You couldn't have saved him," George whispered. "Even if you hadn't made a joke and even if Fred wasn't laughing in his last moment on Earth, he…he would have died anyway. And honestly, I think going out with a laugh is just the way Fred would have wanted it to happen."
Percy swallowed hard, nodding again.
"And if you really need to feel appreciated, I think Fred would have really appreciated you giving him his last laugh."
Percy knew George was saying it as a way to comfort him, but it just made another round of tears slide down his cheeks. "He would have rather had you there, George."
George hesitated before shaking his head, slumping down on the seat. "No," he murmured. "He wouldn't have wanted me to…to see him die."
They both fell silent, the sound of the rain hitting the tin of the car the only noise they could hear. George felt the tears well up inside of him and suddenly they were pouring out, thinking of his twin brother's last moments on Earth. He doubled over quickly, trying to calm his sobs down. Percy reached out and patted his brother's shoulder, his own eyes glazed with tears. "What…what exactly were his last words?" George begged.
Percy froze and shut his eyes tightly. He could still hear Fred's voice in response to his words. They were words that Percy would never be able to forget.
"Hello, Minister! Did I mention I'm resigning?"
"You're joking, Perce! You actually are joking... I don't think I've heard you joke since you were –"
When Percy opened his eyes he saw a sense of resolution in his brother's eyes. The tears were gone from his eyes, although still streaked on his cheeks, and a smile tugged on the end of his mouth. "Thank you," George whispered. Instinctively, he reached over and embraced his brother tightly. Neither knew how long they sat there but eventually Percy pulled apart.
"We need to go in there," George said matter-of-factly.
Percy could only nod.
George started to climb out of the car, but quickly turned back around to his brother. "I don't blame you, Percy," he said firmly. "No one does. It wasn't your fault."
Percy didn't respond and George could see a flicker of uncertainty in his eyes. But he knew better than to question it. It would be a long time until they all stopped blaming themselves.
George offered Percy a lopsided weak smile before climbing out of the car. He was met with over a hundred stares. He blamed it on the dragon-hide suit, but he had a feeling it had nothing to do with that. He blinked back the tears that were forming and while ignoring the stares, he walked into the church.
"Fred wasn't just a brother," George said. He hesitated as his eyes glanced out over the crowd of people, all crammed into the pews and spread out against the back of the church. "And he wasn't just the co-owner of my shop. He…he was my best friend." He tried frantically to rid the tears that were forming. In the sea of people, he found his eyes migrating towards his sister in the front pew. He had promised her funny stories, and he was determined to deliver. But it wasn't all for her; it was for him, too. Sentimentality would just force him into tears and in that moment, he was determined to hold it together. He dove into stories of their pranks and the April Fool's jokes they used to play and the elaborate plans they schemed during their Hogwarts days and the crazy Quidditch rules they used to come up with to make their matches more entertaining and the snowball fights they used to start and the many detentions they spent cleaning trophies or bedpans. "The night before…before the Battle of Hogwarts," he continued, not bearing to say the night before Fred's death, "he and I were sitting in our living room with our younger sister and our older brother." Ginny and Charlie exchanged a knowing look. "We had already played about six games of wizarding chess and were getting extremely antsy and impatient. To this day, I have no idea what we were thinking going along with it, but Fred came up with his own game that he titled Exploding Wizarding Quidditch Chess Snaps. Now I apologize if I've muddled the details a tad, but I believe we had to hover on brooms juggling quaffles while playing a game of wizarding chess where all of the chess pieces were replaced by Exploding Snap cards. As you can imagine, it didn't go too well, though we ended up attempting to play that game for over three hours until Mom came into the room and grounded us for eternity. I don't think she appreciated the scorch marks on her ceiling. But it was worth it." He met his mother's gaze. Tears were streaming down her face, but a smile played her lips. He continued. "During a war, we often forgot how to smile. But Fred always found a way to make us remember."
Ginny sat stiffly in the front pew, trying to force a smile on her face. But all she felt was sorrow. All she felt was distress. All she felt was heartbreak. She vehemently blinked back the tears forming in her eyes, and focused on the hardwood floor, trying to drown out George's words before she broke out into hysterics.
She jumped slightly back to reality when she felt someone to her right grab hold of her hand. She didn't look at him or acknowledge that Harry was squeezing her hand. She just let him.
George eyes lingered briefly on Ginny's stoic expression before daring to glimpse in the eyes of the other members of his family. His father's arm was placed tightly around his mother who was weeping into her hands. Ron's eyes were nearly closed as he attempted to cry discreetly, Hermione's two hands gripping tightly on to Ron's. Tears were slipping down Bill's cheeks but he made no attempt to swat them away. Fleur's eyes were on Bill the entire time, concern weighing her expression down. Charlie smiled up at George through his tears and when George's eyes met Harry's, Harry nodded curtly as if to say it was all going to be okay. George found it comforting.
He had to take a few breaths before he was able to continue. "And that's the part that's really tough," George said softly, his words catching in his throat. "It's hard remembering how to smile when the guy who was a pro at putting a smile on our faces is gone. Who's going to make us laugh now? Who's going to remind us to be happy?" He tried without success to wipe the tears from his face. He shut his eyes, squeezing them tightly. A part of him hoped that if he just kept his eyes closed for the time-being that when he opened them up again, this would all be a dream.
No such luck.
"I-I promised my sister that I'd get up here and focus on the good times that I've had with him and here I am blubbering like an idiot," he murmured, bringing his hand to his face as a sob escape. He shared a weak smile with Ginny. "But…but before I become completely incoherent, I just need to say that…that I loved him. As a brother, as my coworker, and most definitely as my best friend. I know that he'd want me to be happy. That he'd want all of us to be happy. So I'm going to try my damndest to do so. And…and I know that I will always think of him whenever I see someone smile. And when I smile, it will be for him. For always."
It was the perfect end to a perfect speech, one that resulted in an eruption of sobs and cries from all of the people packed into that church. The bawling momentarily halted, however, when George sent a Wildfire Whizzbang towards the ceiling. Bright colors flashed and everyone looked up in awe as silence filled the room while they all thought of Fred Weasley.
The silence was interrupted by George's shaky voice. "That's for you, bro."
The weather had cleared up and the sun was peeking out behind the clouds by the time they all returned to the Burrow. The Weasleys were hosting a reception at their home underneath the same white tents that had been used for Bill and Fleur's wedding.
Ron felt a sense of calm easing over him as he stepped back into his home. As if holding the funeral was the first step to moving on. He knew he'd never forget his brother. His brave brother. But it's like George had said: Fred would have wanted him to smile. So he was trying his damndest.
Ron glanced behind him at the familiar voice and patted the grassy knoll beside him before returning to gaze to some frogs hopping from stone to stone. Moments after returning to the Burrow, he headed down to the stream behind his home. He had had enough of the apologies and condolences. He needed some alone time.
But he had never been more grateful for Hermione's company.
She hesitantly sat down beside him and followed his gaze to a small toad struggling in the weeds growing in the stream. She reached down and untangled the toad, letting it hop off on the opposite side of the stream.
They didn't say anything, but they didn't have to. Tears brimmed in both their eyes and they both tried blinking them away furiously.
Eventually, Hermione broke the silence. "How are you doing, Ron?"
"Fine," he murmured, the lie coming out so easily.
She shook her head slowly. "I know you're not fine," she whispered. "And I'm sorry that you're not. I'm sorry that you're hurting."
He shrugged briskly, a lump forming in his throat. She was right. He wasn't fine. But he prayed that one day he might be.
He reached for her hand and she gripped it tightly. "Thank you for being here, Hermione," he whispered.
She glanced up, locking eyes with him. "Thank you for letting me be here."
They both knew she was indirectly referring to the way Ginny was determined to push everyone out of her life recently, including Harry. Ron was as stubborn as they come, but he knew he couldn't waste anymore time hiding from his feelings for Hermione. Life was short. Fred's death taught him that.
"Where's Harry?" Ron asked curiously, changing the sentimental subject. He was never good at talking about his emotions.
Hermione sighed. "He's gone looking for Ginny."
Hermione's heart skipped a beat. She didn't respond immediately, an overwhelming rush of sorrow filling inside of her. "Yes," she eventually whispered, swallowing hard. "She's missing."
Ron gazed down at Hermione after hearing the desperation in her voice and saw distress in her eyes. He suddenly realized she wasn't talking of Ginny's physical appearance but her mental one. He sighed, squeezing her hand. "Yeah," he said softly. "I know."
A tear slid down Hermione's face and she hastily tried wiping it away. She was trying so hard to remain strong for Ron, but she was finding it nearly impossible. Every time a thought of Fred crept into her mind, she wanted to burst into tears. Not just for her, but for every single Weasley. They had lost one of their own and she couldn't even imagine what that felt like. She knew that Ron was brokenhearted and crushed. He had shut down emotionally for the first week, his face remaining expressionless and his eyes dead of emotion. He went along his day like any other, but the days slowly mixed together and after a while, funerals had become so routine, he had forgotten what day of the week it was. Mondays felt like Fridays. He awoke not remembering if it was Colin Creevey's funeral he was attending or if it was another one of his old schoolmates he had never gotten to know. He rarely shed a tear and when he spoke, it was in a monotone voice. Hermione had been gone for the first six days, spending that time with her parents once she brought them back from Australia. But Harry had sent her a letter desperately requesting her assistance and she immediately rushed over to the Burrow. She had been staying there ever since. There were times she felt like she wasn't doing any good, but it was in the moments when Ron squeezed her hand or pressed his lips against her cheek that she felt grateful to be there for him.
"I want this day to be over," Ron murmured, breaking Hermione from her thoughts.
She rested her head against his shoulder. "We all do," she whispered.
Ron swallowed the lump forming in his throat and jerked his head back towards the tent out on the back lawn. "Should we head back?"
Hermione hesitated, gazing up at him. She knew she should have said yes, being the responsible one she was. But in that moment, all she wanted was to watch the frogs hop from stone to stone while holding on to Ron's hand. "No," she said softly, shaking her head slowly. "Let's stay here for a while."
Ron let out a slight sigh of relief and nodded.
Harry wasn't surprised to find Ginny back in the comfort and security of her own bed, the covers pulled over her head. There was only a slight tuft of red hair that gave Harry enough reason to believe she was there.
He cleared his throat, but there was no movement from the bed. He swallowed hard and said, "I'm going to go."
"Oh, good, so you can take a hint," Ginny spat out with a derisive chortle.
Harry sighed. "No, I mean…" he trailed off, shrugging as if she could see the awkward wavering. "I-I'm going to leave the Burrow."
There was a slight hesitation before Ginny peeked her head out of her bedspread. "What?" she asked, confused. "And where are you going to go?"
"I don't know," he murmured. "But…but I have money. I'll figure it out. I just…I just know I can't stay here anymore."
"And why the hell not?"
"You know why not, Ginny," he said softly.
"No, I really don't," she retorted, a hint of desperation seeping through. "Enlighten-"
Harry cut Ginny off. "You don't think I realize that those fifty deaths that occurred on May 2nd occurred because of me?" he spat out, his voice hoarse and filled with endless guilt. "Voldemort wanted me and only me. And I kept fighting. But while I kept fighting, people kept dying. I-I should have given myself up years ago."
"Harry," Ginny whispered.
"I should have been the only one to die."
"Don't you dare," Ginny spat out in a hurt whisper, her bottom lip trembling. "Stop blaming yourself."
"But I do," he muttered. "And so do you. So does everyone. Being the Boy Who Lived isn't such a hero's tale in the end, Ginny. It's really just a tale of…of a selfish boy who was too afraid-"
"It was selfish of you to be the only one to find the answer of how to destroy You-Know-Who?"
Harry hung his head shamefully. "It was selfish of me to take as long as I did to find that answer, putting so many people in harm's way. I should have just…" he trailed off, the words catching in his throat.
"Just what?" Ginny spat. "Just died?"
Harry didn't respond, unable to rid the lump that had formed in his throat.
Ginny's face grew ashen as her bottom lip began to tremble uncontrollably. "So now you're…you're what? Feeling guilty that you lived while so many died?"
He shrugged awkwardly, willing to look anywhere else but into her eyes. "You can't look me in the eye, Ginny," he croaked out. "You don't think I realize what you're thinking? What you're all thinking?"
There was silence as Ginny collected her thoughts. "You don't know a damn thing about what I'm thinking," she whispered.
"Yeah, because you won't talk to me," Harry muttered.
She frowned, slowly sitting upright. "I-I don't know how to talk to you," she admitted in a small voice.
Harry's heart sank. That wasn't something he wanted to hear from the girl he fancied. "I know," he murmured. "Which is why I-I think it's best if I just go."
"No, Harry, you misunderstood," Ginny quickly argued, shaking her head slowly. She took a deep breath in, her eyes fixating on the wallpaper on the opposite side of the room. A piece of it was starting to peel off and she found it easier staring at that than even attempting to glance over at what she knew was a slightly heartbroken Harry. "I don't know how to talk to you because…because…" she trailed off, not sure if she was ready to explain why she had been acting so especially cold and distant towards Harry. Because in the end, it had nothing to do with him and everything to do with her own selfishness.
"Because why?" Harry asked hesitantly.
"It's nothing," she murmured, hastily crawling out of her bed and heading towards her door. "Forget I mentioned anything. You hungry? We should-"
"Ginny," Harry said softly, grabbing her arm to keep her from breezing past him.
"Talk to me," he urged.
For the first time in four weeks, she slowly lifted her gaze and locked eyes with Harry. She saw concern and anxiety in his stare, and she realized then how worried he had been about her. "You don't know what it was like, Harry," she whispered, her bottom lip trembling. "To…to have been back in the castle by myself without a clue where the rest of my family was or where my friends were. I had no idea who else was being attacked and who else was going to die. And…and then You-Know-Who's voice rang out to say you were dead, telling me one of my worst fears."
Harry's heart skipped a beat. He had never even thought about what must have gone through everyone's minds when Voldemort had told everyone he was dead.
She pulled her arm away from his gentle touch. "So I'm sorry if you're feeling like I'm ignoring you, Harry, but I can't help but be furious with you!"
He jerked his head up, surprised. "What?"
Regret was swimming in her eyes as she gazed up at Harry. Her bottom lip trembled, her teeth gritting together with frustration. "I am so mad at you, Harry, for being willing to die without saying goodbye to me," she spat out in a hurt whisper.
Shock registered on Harry's face. "Ginny-"
She didn't let him get in another word. "I know that's selfish," she continued, bitterness spewing from her words. "I know you did what you thought you had to do. But…but when You-know-who said that had surrendered yourself, I…I…" the words caught in her throat and she had to shut her eyes lightly, needing to get Harry's concerned eyes out of her head. "He made us all believe that our fighting and determination had…had been for nothing. He had us believing you were dead, Harry." Her voice was tough and yet shaky. "And I was all alone in the castle. Mom and Ron and Hermione and George and Dad and…and everyone I loved was elsewhere. I…I had to mourn your loss on my own and…and I didn't know what to do or say. I froze, my heart broke into a million pieces, I fell to my knees, everything around me stopped. Nothing else mattered. It was over. My biggest fear came true. You were gone."
Harry could only shake his head guiltily. He had never once thought of his potential death from Ginny's perspective. From any of his friends' perspectives. He was so wrapped up in his own guilty thoughts, blaming himself for Fred's death, that he never once stopped to realize that guilt for everyone else's deaths wasn't the only emotion he should be focusing on. "I saw you," he blurted out before even realizing it.
Her eyebrows darted upward. "What?"
Harry felt his heart constrict at the reminder. He remembered passing through the castle and seeing Ginny standing over a younger student who was crying for her mother. Harry remembered feeling proud of her. Because during a time of utter turmoil, Ginny could still stand strong for someone who needed her to be. "I walked past you," he said softly. "On my way to the Forbidden Forest that day, I saw you. I wanted nothing more than to reach out to you, to say something. Anything."
"Why didn't you?" she asked in a hushed tone.
"I couldn't say good-bye," spoke Harry with a heavy tone. "If I had spoken to you, if I looked you in the eye, if I-I touched your hand, I wouldn't have been able to do what I knew I had to do. I knew you would have tried stopping me and I would have let you. And we'd all still be fighting this war."
She didn't respond and Harry was thankful. He hoped that she would one day understand.
"I'm sorry for not saying good-bye," Harry murmured lamely, running his fingers through his hair haggardly. "But as hard as it was for you to hear that I surrendered myself without saying goodbye to you, it was ten times harder for me. I wanted to reach out to every single person who fought on my behalf. I wanted to thank those who stood by me. I wanted to tell my friends how important they were to me." He lifted his gaze and met her concerned eyes. He offered her a sad smile. "And I wanted to tell you that it broke my heart knowing I had to leave you behind."
Her heart skipped a beat. "Really?"
He nodded awkwardly. This conversation was suddenly becoming a bid too intimate for his tastes. "Yeah, really," he said softly. He cleared his throat. "And…and I'm sorry if this isn't the outcome you were hoping for, Ginny, but I-"
Harry frowned. "It's my fault that Fred's dead," he repeated for a second time that afternoon. "And if I could trade places with him, I would." Ginny glared at him and opened her mouth to argue, but Harry hastily continued. "I would do it in a heartbeat. For you. For Ron. For George. For all of your brothers. For your parents. For the rest of my life, I-I'm going to have to live with the fact that I alone let so many die. I-I know that I wasn't the one who made that explosive go off, but it was an indirect action of everything I did and didn't do."
Ginny glared at him, a glare filled with frustration and sorrow. "No, it was a direct action of everything that You-know-who did and didn't do. So stop blaming yourself," she spat out in a hurt whisper, her voice strained with agony. "You were doing what you needed to do to protect the wizarding world. And…and we were all doing what we thought we needed to do to protect the wizarding world. You're alive, Harry," she said softly. "And I know that my brother never would have wanted you to be regretful over the fact that he died while you lived. So don't you dare stand there and tell me you wish it was you. Because I sure as hell don't."
Harry gazed down at her, confused. "What?"
A small pool of tears formed in her eyelids, but she brushed them away immediately. She turned her back to him, slowly perching herself on the edge of her disheveled bed. "You want to know why I-I can't seem to look you in the eye, Harry? You want to know why I can't face you?" she whispered, her voice breaking.
Harry hesitated, wondering how one person could have so many different emotions running through them at one time. He could only nod.
Her look suddenly softened and she reached out to grab his hand, shocking both of them. She met his gaze and Harry sat down beside her, instinctively reached over to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear. "It's not motivated by fury. It's not even motivated by sadness. It's because I am so damned happy that you're alive."
Harry didn't know what he had expected, but that certainly wasn't it. He stared at her in shock, no words forming in his mind.
"And that makes me feel so guilty and so ashamed," she said in a small voice, biting down on the inside of her lip "Because when I saw you running through the crowd very much alive, it wasn't Fred I was thinking about. My…my older brother was dead on a slab of table and…and I was smiling. I was overjoyed that my mourning period for you was over. But that shouldn't have meant my mourning period for my brother was over. Yet, all I could think about was you. Just you."
Harry's heart fluttered anxiously. He squeezed her hand, not tearing his eyes from hers.
"Every time I see you or you talk to me or when I hear you slip into that cot every night, I don't know how to be sad," she whispered guiltily. "I forget to think about Fred and instead, I think about how glad I am that you didn't die in that forest. What kind of person does that make me?" Her eyes swarmed with regret, her voice heavy with guilt. "What kind of sister does that make me?"
Harry wrapped his arm around her shoulder and she hesitantly leaned over, resting her head on his shoulder. "You know," Harry said softly, "Fred would want you to be happy."
Ginny's entire body stiffened and she lifted her head from his shoulder and dropped his hand immediately. "No, he wouldn't," she murmured.
Harry's brow crinkled. "Of course he would."
"You don't get it," Ginny murmured, hastily getting up off her bed and wandering over to her window.
Harry didn't respond. He sensed hesitance emanating from Ginny and wasn't sure why. Her shoulders sagged, an expression of scorn crossing over her face.
"It's not your fault that Fred died, Harry," she said softly, staring down at her hands awkwardly. She turned back around to face him. "It's mine."
"Right before the Battle of Hogwarts broke out, I-I was at home with Fred and George," she interrupted, fixating her stare on the cracked floorboard in front of her. "Mom and Dad were at an Order meeting. George and Fred were downstairs listening to the radio and I was in my room, flipping through my 7th year Charms textbook. The Dumbledore's Army coin was in my pocket and…and I felt it heat up. I knew I knew it was Neville. He had promised me he'd let me know when…" she trailed off, her gaze finally locking eyes with Harry. "He said he would tell me if you ever showed up at Hogwarts."
Harry nodded slowly, remembering the brief conversation he had with Neville in the Room of Requirement. Neville had said the same thing to him. With everything that had occurred that day, Harry was surprised he even remembered.
Ginny averted her eyes once again towards the ground. "I knew it was…was time to go back to Hogwarts. I knew a battle was about to break out. And…and selfishly, I was dying to see you again."
Harry tried not to feel grateful for that.
"A part of me just wanted to see you to see you. But a bigger part of me wanted to see you just to…to know that you were okay. To know that you were still alive. So…so I ran downstairs to tell Fred and George that a revolution was about to break out and we needed to get to Hogwarts," Ginny said softly, tears glistening her eyes. She furiously blinked them away. "It was me, Harry. If I hadn't kept that stupid coin in my pocket, if I hadn't convinced Fred that we needed to get to Hogwarts, if I wasn't so desperate to see you, if I just continued reading that damned Charms book, Fred would still be-" she couldn't finish her sentence as the sobs overshadowed her words. Tears fell from her eyes and for the first time since Fred died, Ginny cried for him.
Harry was startled, but quickly rushed off the bed and forced his way over to Ginny, doing the only thing he could think of: he wrapped his arms around her tightly. There was so much regret and pain staring back up at him. All he wanted to do was never let her go. He wanted to be able to protect her from any more harm and agony. She looked so lost and broken and he wanted to make her whole again.
She attempted to wriggle free, embarrassed by her sudden display of emotion, but Harry's grasp was too strong. Eventually, she fell into his touch and cried into his robes. She cried for herself. She cried for Harry. But most of all, she cried for Fred.
"I really wish people would stop blaming themselves."
Startled by the familiar voice, both Harry and Ginny turned to the doorway where George was absentmindedly leaning against the doorframe, his arms crossed.
He shrugged curtly. "Sorry, couldn't help but overhear."
"You using extendable ears again?" Ginny murmured, wiping away the stray tears and embarrassedly stepping back from Harry. His arms fell to his side limply and she stumbled backwards, balancing herself on the windowsill.
George ignored the question. "Damnit, Ginny, we chose to fight," he continued. "Just because you helped us into the castle doesn't mean that you're responsible. Someone else would have contacted us. We would have found out. We would have found our way into that castle that night. Fred and I chose our own fates that night. We…we knew going into it that something bad could happen and we chose to fight anyway. It was a choice that I was proud to make and so was Fred." His voice was rigid, yet desperation shone through. He turned to glare at Harry. "And damnit, Harry, stop blaming yourself! We weren't there to just fight on your behalf. We were there to fight on the behalf of the last remaining good of the wizarding world! If you had given yourself up earlier, Harry, we would still be fighting. Voldemort would still be out there."
Both Ginny and Harry exchanged embarrassed, remorseful expressions.
George swallowed hard, glancing at the two of them. "It's not your fault, Ginny. It's not your fault, Harry. It's not Percy's fault either! It's-"
"Percy?" Ginny asked, confused.
George shook his head dismissively. "We all chose our sides a long time ago," he said softly. "We knew war was inevitable and you either had to fight for what you believed in or hide like a coward. Fred and I might have been a lot of things, immature jokesters for one thing, but we sure as hell weren't cowards. So stop avoiding everyone, Ginny," he pleaded, giving her a knowing look. "We can either become so wrapped up with placing blame on ourselves and with living in the past or we can try to move on with our lives. And as difficult as that may be, I choose the latter."
Harry and Ginny shared another look, a look filled with complacency and determination. They both knew George was right. Placing blame on themselves wasn't going to change anything. It was about time they all stopped dwelling on the past and started focusing on the future. A future that was now Voldemort-free.
Harry wanted to reach out and embrace Ginny again. He wanted to feel her in his arms. He wanted to remember how good it felt to be with her again. He wanted to move on with her by his side. But with George awkwardly peering at the two of them, Harry simply nodded. "Okay," he muttered, somewhat unconvincingly. It would take a lot more than a motivational speech from George to make Harry forget all of the trouble he had caused. But he could at least try. For Fred.
"Ginny?" said George curiously.
She met his gaze, quickly looking away. "Sounds like it'll be easier said than done," she whispered.
George frowned, blinking in surprise. Silence engulfed the three of them, neither sure what the next words should be. Eventually, George spoke, his voice raspy and remorseful. "At least you don't have to look in the mirror every day and see your twin brother staring back at you," he whispered.
Harry and Ginny both glanced at him, dumbfounded. "George," Ginny said softly.
"Do you think I don't realize why Mom bursts into tears every time I walk into the room? I'm a constant reminder that her son died. Do you think I don't realize why you can barely look me in the eye? It's hard to stare at the brother who just so happens to look identical to a brother who we will have to live without for the rest of our lives. I hide in my room because I don't want to bring any more pain to this family," George said, his voice cracking with regret. "I…I'm trying to move forward. I'm trying to move past my brother's death. But you're right. It's a lot easier said than done when your other half is gone forever."
George gazed up at his sister and was surprised to see disapproval in her eyes. "Mom cries every time she sees you because you lost your best friend, George. And she hates that you'll have to go through life without him," she spat out, shaking her head in disbelief. "And you think that after all of these years, I look at you and see Fred?"
He shrugged. "How can you not?"
She rolled her eyes. "To everyone else, you may have been a combined FredandGeorge," she said softly, acquiescence replacing her irritation. Her bottom lip trembled as she glanced up into her brother's eyes. "But to me, you've always been and always will be my older brother George."
George hung his head shamefully.
Ginny stepped forward, a hint of a smile on her face. "Besides," she said softly, "You don't exactly look like Fred anymore." She was gesturing towards his absent ear.
Immediate shock registered on his face, but he felt a laugh building up from within. He couldn't remember the last time he laughed. He thought of Fred in that moment. It's like he had said at the memorial service: Fred would have wanted them all to be able to smile.
"This is all very difficult," George whispered. "But we will get through it. We have to get through it."
"I know," Ginny said. "For Fred."
"For Fred," Harry agreed, nodding.
George hesitated, glancing into the full-length mirror on the wall. For the first time since Fred's death, he stopped looking for Fred in his features. He just saw himself. And he was determined to live the life that Fred would have wanted him to life.
He turned back towards Ginny and Harry and smiled. A real smile, one with a surprising feeling of acceptance and contentment behind it. "For Fred."
Ginny, George, and Harry left the confines of Ginny's room and made their way back outdoors to reunite with the rest of their family and friends. Ginny knew it was time to stop hiding and living in shame, and she was grateful that both Harry and George hadn't given up on her. She was grateful that she hadn't given up on herself.
George joined up with Lee Jordan and Angelina Johnson and in no time, they were laughing about the times they used to share with Fred. The Yule Ball, the crazy after-Quidditch parties, the times they snuck out into Hogsmeade, the many detentions they shared. Harry and Ginny found Neville and Luna sitting in a corner and embraced their company. While Luna offered her condolences to Ginny, Harry surveyed the area and found Ron and Hermione missing. He excused himself and quickly found Ron and Hermione down by the stream behind the Burrow.
He sat down beside them without saying anything. Silence had become somewhat of a given recently.
"How's Ginny?" Hermione finally asked, lifting her head from Ron's shoulder.
Harry smiled sadly. "She's going to be okay."
Both Hermione and Ron turned to look at him. "Really?" Ron asked, surprised.
Harry nodded. "She blames herself," he said softly.
Silence fell over them. "Who doesn't?" Ron eventually responded, grabbing a pebble from the grass and chucking it into the stream with an irate frown.
Hermione turned to him, startled. "This wasn't anyone's fault, Ron," she said desperately.
"I know," he said quickly, bringing his knees up to his chest with a sigh. "But…but it's hard not to think about the what-ifs and the what-could-have-beens. Like what if Fred had been standing only a few feet to his right? What if he had been looking straight ahead at Rookwood and not at Percy? What if I had been the one standing there instead of him? What if we had dueled those Death Eaters sooner and hurried down the hallway just a mere seconds before? What if…" he trailed off, shaking his head. Questions swarmed his mind no matter how hard he tried to get rid of them.
Hermione reached for his hand, squeezing it tightly. "We can't live in a world of what-ifs," she said softly. "We can't live in the past."
Harry nodded all too knowingly. "When I was in Ginny's room earlier, George said something that I think we all need to remember. He said that we can either stand around placing blame on ourselves and living in the past or we can move on with our lives," spoke Harry, his voice wavering slightly.
Ron met Harry's concerned gaze. "It's going to take a lot more than a few encouraging words to forget all that has happened."
"It's not about forgetting," Hermione interjected, frowning. "How can any of us forget all of the people that died? How can we forget the families that have been affected? How can we forget the duels that occurred in the hallways and all of those people we had to see mourning in the Great Hall? How can we forget that…that Harry had surrendered himself? How can we forget that Voldemort and his followers effectively destroyed the wizarding world? How can we forget that it will take years for all of us to heal? How can we forget, Ron?"
Ron didn't respond, his eyes fixated on the ripples of the stream.
"We don't," Hermione answered her own rhetorical question, meeting Harry's gaze over Ron's head. "Nor do we try to. That day will forever live in infamy and by remembering those who fought gallantly, they will remain with us forever. I know it's no consolation, but…but it's the best we can do."
Ron offered a curt nod, his eyes never straying from the water. He had no idea what to think anymore. It was impossible not seeing Fred's face every time he closed his eyes. It was impossible trying to remember Fred as a hero who died a noble death than as their brother who was fatefully killed.
Harry cleared his throat, disturbing Ron's thoughts. "Guys, I-I want to apologize," he muttered shamefully.
Ron finally lifted his gaze from the stream to glance at Harry, Hermione's gaze following suit. "For what?" Ron asked, confused.
"For not saying goodbye before surrendering myself to Voldemort."
He blurted it out in a single, hasty breath, but it was the words themselves that threw them both for a loop. They both stared over at him with a mixture of angst and confusion.
Harry frowned sullenly. He had already recounted the entire story of that night to Ron and Hermione, a few times actually when one of them had a question about that night, but he had never once apologized for being so willing to die without thanking them for all they had done for him. "I-I needed to not say goodbye," he whispered. "Because I knew you two would first try to fight me on my decision and then when you knew I wouldn't back down, you would insist on coming with me to the Forest for some sort of solace and…and I knew I wouldn't have said no. And that was something I needed to do on my own."
Harry cut Hermione off. "But I don't know if you two would have ever forgiven me for leaving you behind without so much as an explanation. And I wouldn't have blamed you if you didn't."
"You didn't die, though," Hermione said, desperation seeping from her words. "This is all moot."
"I know," Harry said softly, shrugging. "But I'm still sorry."
Hermione and Ron merely nodded, accepting the unexpected apology. They knew that Harry's apology was more about him ridding himself of yet another guilt he had unfortunately had to cope with than it was about earning his friends' acceptance. They all looked out over the hazy landscape, the sun now shining brightly down over them. It was difficult to appreciate the weather under the circumstances, however.
Eventually, Hermione broke the silence. "So what now?" she asked in a hushed tone.
Ron and Harry turned to her with matching expressions of hopelessness. Neither responded, silence embracing the still moment. It was a question they had all often asked themselves numerous times over the past four weeks. What now? With so much bad that had occurred, it wasn't easy focusing on the good that had come from the Battle of Hogwarts. So what was supposed to come next? All they had been doing for four weeks was attend funeral after funeral and memorial service after memorial service. After the funerals wrapped up, it was hard to imagine what their futures could possibly hold.
With Fred still very much on his mind, Ron was surprised to feel a smile permeate his expression. "We live," Ron suggested.
The three of them now had so much to live for and it was time to remember that the future existed. They didn't have to live day by day anymore. Without Voldemort causing them to fear their lives, they could remember what it felt like to just live again. It was a feeling that none of them were used to. And it felt good.
Hermione and Harry found themselves smiling, too. Hermione squeezed Ron's hand and instinctively reached over to grab Harry's hand as well. "We live," she whispered.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione eventually made their way back to the reception. It was a relief and it was satisfying to hear laughter ringing out. Ron wrapped his arm around Hermione's shoulder casually and steered them all over to the corner of the tent where his brothers and sister all sat, talking politely with Hagrid.
"There you are," George said as Ron approached. "Where have you been?"
"Down by the stream," he murmured with a shrug, falling into an empty seat. Hermione stood over him, keeping her hand on his shoulder comfortingly. "Hey, Hagrid."
Hagrid grunted. "Ron, I just wanted to say how sor-"
"I know," he interrupted with a sigh, offering his old professor a sad smile. He was getting tired of the apologies, no matter how sincere they were.
"I'll leave you all alone," Hagrid said before whisking himself away.
Silence engulfed them all, which was highly unusual in the Weasley family. But words couldn't express what they felt.
Eventually, Ginny spoke. "I wish he was here," she whispered.
All eyes turned to gaze at her, nods following. "Me, too," said Bill, running his fingers through his hair with a sigh.
"We all do," George responded, shutting his eyes lightly. "I know that we all tried preparing for…for something like this. We knew we were on the verge of a war. We knew we had to take a stand and fight for what was right. And we knew we would…would lose some valuable people along the way. But even though we knew this could happen, we hoped it wouldn't. We prayed it wouldn't. And it still hurts knowing that…" he trailed off, the words catching in his throat.
"Knowing that Fred is never coming back," Ron filled in the words. The words that all of them had been too afraid to admit before then.
George met Ron's gaze and nodded. "He will be missed."
"Always," Charlie interjected. They all shared looks, looks filled with dignity and pride, with nostalgia and commemoration, with compassion and sympathy. But most of all, the looks shared hope. Hope for a better future. Hope for the power of forgiveness and advancement. Hope that Fred's death won't be in vain. Hope for not only themselves but for everyone around them. Hope for the ability to live their lives to the fullest.
George's gaze moved past his brother to the vast field off in the far distance, remembering all of those fun-filled Quidditch matches he and his siblings used to share. Hermione and Ron shared a look of longing, willing themselves to smile. Charlie shut his eyes, wishing that Fred was there standing by his side. Fleur ran her fingers soothingly through her husband's hair, who was staring at Ginny with concern and yet pride. Percy let out a long sigh, his eyes never wavering from George. He was so mad at himself for wasting so many years at the Ministry instead of spending necessary time with Fred, but he was grateful that George didn't for a second blame him for what had happened to Fred. Ginny met Harry's gaze and after a seconds of silent guilt passed over the two of them, Ginny reached for his hand. She smiled apologetically and he returned the smile, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear as the resistance of the past four weeks was put behind them.
They all were startled when George's voice broke the moments each of them were grasping. "Who wants to ditch this reception and play a game of Quidditch?" George suggested quietly, his eyes still fixated on the field in the distance.
Nine pairs of surprised eyes stared up at him.
George shrugged. "It's what he would have wanted."
A smile crept onto Ginny's lips. She stood up and reached for George's hand with determination and adoration. "How about a game of Exploding Wizarding Quidditch Chess Snaps?"
The nine of them strode out to the vacant grassy field and weren't surprised when they were later joined by their friends. That evening, they played Fred's favorite sport for hours, late into the night. Some watched, some played, some cheered, some reminisced. For the first time in four weeks, they found themselves enjoying the moment. Living in the moment.
They stopped blaming Fred's death on themselves. They stopped crying over the mere thought that Fred should be beside them all laughing along to the jokes. They stopped wondering about the what-ifs. They stopped running through the horrible events that occurred at the Battle of Hogwarts. They stopped referring to that day as Fred's funeral and started referring to it as the beginning of the rest of their lives. They stopped their misery from getting the better of them.
And for the first time in four weeks, they all thought that maybe, just maybe, things were going to be okay.
A/N: I hope that this at least provided some closure and comfort after Fred's death. I tried to keep to each character as well as I could, though like I mentioned earlier, I am not J.K. Rowling and therefore, can never be absolutely sure how any of these characters would have responded to losing Fred Weasley. But I hope I did most, if not all, of them some justice. I know it was probably a lot of information stuffed into one chapter, but I couldn't help but see how Fred's death affected almost each and every one of them, specifically Percy, Ginny, Harry, and George.