Title: The Year After
Author: Martine Lewis
Genre: Drama, Romance, Angst
Setting: Post DH
Summary: A year after the war, George Weasley deals with the lost of his brother.
Author's Notes: I would like to give a special thanks to my beta Lilly103 for taking the time to review my story.
Oh! And let's not forget that I don't own Harry Potter and the Potterverse. It is all property of JK Rowling.
Thursday April 1, 1999
"Hurry, hurry! George will be here any minute now!" said Mrs Weasley, putting the final touch to the table which was full of George's favourite food.
All the family, at the insistence of Mrs Weasley, had gathered to celebrate George's birthday. Even Ginny had been pulled from school for the occasion, and Mrs Weasley had made it abundantly clear that her children's attendance was not an option. Everybody knew how hard this birthday celebration would be for George and had not had the courage to fight Mrs Weasley, who also found it hard to celebrate on April 1 without the presence of one of her sons.
They had gathered in the living room, with some of George's Hogwarts friends, and were waiting for George to arrive. Time trickled by, and George was not there. After an hour, everybody began to look at their watch, worried. The food on the table was growing cold and George had yet to make an appearance.
"He will be here any minute now," said Mrs Weasley, with a sad smile.
A few minutes later, Angelina stood up and walked to Mrs Weasley.
"Mrs Weasley, let me go see what's holding him," she said gently.
During the last few months, Angelina and George had grown close.
"That would be lovely, dear," said Mrs Weasley.
Angelina walked to the fireplace and threw Floo powder on the fire.
"Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes," she called, as she walked into the fireplace.
The Wheezes was deserted. Not only was it deserted, it was closed, even at this early hour, which was very unusual. Angelina made her way to the stairs and climbed to the first floor, where George's living quarters were situated.
George was there, sitting on the floor, visibly drunk. With a shaking hand, he was pouring himself a Firewhiskey and once his glass was full to the point of overflowing, poured some more in the already full glasses across from him. The liquid spilled from the glass onto the table, and then to the floor. His hand still shaking, George put back the bottle on the table with a loud bang.
"George," called Angelina softly.
"I keep on drinking and I keep on pouring, but his glass never gets empty. Why isn't he drinking with me, Angelina? It's our birthday! He should be drinking with me!" slurred George.
"Oh! George," she said sadly, sitting next to him and pushing the glass of Firewhiskey away from him. "I know... I wish he was here to drink with you too."
"Angelina, it should have been me," said George, tears running down his eyes. "He should have been the one to survive. He would have known what to do to get better. He would have known how to survive without me."
"I think he would have been as lost as you," she said gently, taking him in her arms.
"How can that be?" he asked, breaking down in distress, sobs shaking his body. "He was the one who always knew what to do... he was the one with all the plans," he added, holding on to her.
"Shush George. It will be okay... It will be okay."
As he sobbed against her shoulder, Angelina took her wand and called forth her Patronus. She sent a message to the Weasleys, informing them there would not be any celebration that night.
Monday May 3, 1999
The crowd was slowly gathering on Hogwarts' grounds for the first year anniversary of the end of the Second Wizarding War. An area, near Dumbledore's resting place, had been set, with white wooden chairs facing the lake and a white stage facing the school. Mourners, mostly wearing black, except for Luna and her father who were dressed in bright yellow, were discussing quietly among themselves. More than a few had tissues in their hands and tears in their eyes.
Ron did not look forward to the ceremony. He remembered very well how, a month ago, his brother reacted to the loss of his twin and was wary of his reaction on this day of collective mourning. He looked around to try and find him, but could not see him anywhere.
"Hermione, have you seen George?"
Hermione, who was standing next to him, looked around then shook her head.
"I don't like this," said Ron.
"Ron, he'll be fine," said Hermione.
"We all thought that on his birthday and look what happened."
"He's been doing better for the last month," she said gently. "Have a little faith."
A few moments later, Minister Shacklebolt walked on the stage, effectively silencing the mourners who took their seat. George arrived at a run and took his seat next to Ron.
"Alright, George?" asked Ron.
George nodded and turned his attention to the Minister.
"On this day, we gather here to celebrate, but also to mourn. Had it not been for the courage of all who were involved, we wouldn't be here today. We would be fighting for our lives in a world filled with darkness."
The Minister went on, prizing the valour of all involved and recognizing the sacrifice of many. He reminded everybody why the war had been fought.
"We have gathered here today to celebrate our heroes and mourn our lost friends. Let us keep a moment of silence in honour of our lost ones," he concluded.
As silence descended on the crowd, a fizzling sound could be heard, followed by another one, and then a sparkling sound, and a loud bang. Everybody looked around, searching where the sounds had come from.
"Look, Mummy," said a small boy, pointing towards the lake.
The crowd turned as one in the direction of the lake, just in time to hear another fizzling sound followed by a bright red firework which wrote 'Remember'. A moment later, a full blown Weasleys' Wildfire Whiz-bangs exploded all over the lake and, every so often, instead of its usual profanities, the names of the fallen would be spelled out in bright colours.
Smiles slowly appeared on the mourners' faces, smiles mixed with tears as each of the names appeared. While the occasion was indeed sad, the fireworks seemed to make the crowd realise that someone, somewhere, had taken the time to create this display of joy in remembrance of the fallen. The message was clear: the fallen may have died, but was it not for their sacrifice, nobody would be able to find joy.
As the fireworks progressed, people began to laugh and applaud, timidly at first, and then enthusiastically. Ron turned to his brother and found a wide grin on his face.
"You did this, didn't you?"
"Of course, little brother!" answered George, keeping his eyes on the display. "Fred would have hated to see all of us cry like that... He would have definitely wanted a firework. So I told myself I might as well provide one for everybody."
"George, this is brilliant!" said Hermione, smiling widely.
"Son," said Mr Weasley, approaching George.
He looked up at his son with a proud smile on his face.
"You could not have done better," he finally said.
George grinned at his dad. Fred may be dead, but Angelina was right: he would have wanted everybody to celebrate, everyday, until the day they joined him in death.