Fred is Dead?
Summary: George is having trouble accepting the reality of his brother's death. As a result, he tries to recreate the life he once had with him. Not twincest, sorry. Totes brotherly love.
"I've been dreaming all the things I've learnt about a boy." –Badly Drawn Boy
O O O
George stood, dispassionate, as his brother's casket was lowered into the ground. His mourning mother also stood beside him, dark robes worn and in stark contrast to George's bright orange attire. Tears ran freely down her face as George's visage rested dryly against the warm summer wind. His mother listened to the ceremony with two ears, while George listened with one, a gaping hole where one ear used to lay. His mother and George were opposite, and he felt it, alienated in looks as well as feelings.
George didn't feel anything.
An array of wizards and witches solemnly stared at the lowering of George's best friend and favorite brother. And, while George was glad his twin had an array of friends, family, and admirers willing to come and memorialize him, he also longed for them to make an exodus so he could spend the last few moments with his brother alone, at least above ground. Until that moment, which George imagined but knew would never come, George detached himself from the situation.
Instead, he could not bring himself to try to feel anything except for little more than what he felt like during one of Professor Binns's history lectures on the goblin wars of the nineteenth century, or perhaps when his Great Auntie gossiped about people of which he knew nothing nor cared. He felt in the same daze as then: his mind buzzed and drifted into senseless thoughts like counting the number of people surrounding him and deciding which ones his brother would have deemed important enough to attend their funeral.
A shovel was abruptly thrust towards George. Stoically, he grabbed the tool, dirt flinging off of it and dusting a hideous pant leg. Why did they expect him to want to be the first to pour dirt over his brother's casket? He didn't. In fact, he wished he were anywhere but the burial of his best friend and favorite brother. But, knowing it was expected, George furrowed his brow and nudged the shovel into and under the pile of dirt next to the grave. As he poured the generous amount of earth on the casket part where his brother's face was, he felt, somehow, even emptier inside than before.
"Good boy, Georgie," his mother said. She patted his shoulder and kissed his forehead after he obediently hunched over. He felt nothing of what she called him, as he did not feel anything except perhaps a dull ache now. But, as he watched more dirt thrown on his brother by various persons, the ache seemed to grow with the amount of earth keeping his best friend from him. George felt farther than ever from his brother, despite the fact that he saw his brother die four days prior and had known his brother to be dead for just as long.
George stood up tall and went through the rest of the burial. By the end of it, he felt more despondent than even before. People kept coming up to him and telling him about how great his brother was and how George could continue their legacy. The thing was, George didn't need people to tell him this, even in sentimentality. He realized how wonderful and genius his brother was a long time ago; way before most had even met him. He realized he could try to continue inventing, too. How effective he would be, only time would tell.
His brother had a way of supporting George and vice versa. Ever since they were little, they would scheme together, initiate schemes together, and get in trouble for said schemes together. Quite understandable, that George would feel a bit confused after losing such a part of himself so suddenly.
Fred. Fred was dead. As in the pale-cold-clammy-rotting-corpse-never-coming-back dead. And how did this affect George? He didn't know. Odd it was, waking up in a room with two beds and seeing one still unmade yet chilly and abandoned while the other had a body to warm it up: this much he knew. But George couldn't seem to hold onto the full body of the situation. For all George felt, Fred could have just gone on a long, faraway vacation. George missed him, and he his life was dull without him, but he somehow had yet to process the meaning of a death. Fred's death.
The burial was soon over, and George dutifully went to the after-ceremony at his childhood home where only Fred's close family and friends were invited.
As George sipped at the near-tasteless tea, he glanced around the Burrow's living room, filled with people. The last time he came here, Fred had been with him. They had ventured up to their old room and stole back amateur prank items and laughed about them.
George stared intently into his teacup as though trying to watch the scene in a Pensieve. Unable to recreate the moment, he sat down on the couch, next to his sister and Harry. They were holding hands and sitting extremely close, and George couldn't even register how they could start up a relationship at such a time. He suddenly felt. It was anger, though, and not a positive emotion.
"Canoodling at Fred's death party?" George asked. It was maybe the longest sentence he had said all day. He hadn't even spoken at Fred's funeral, unlike his older brother Bill and father. Immediately, Ginny and Harry sheepishly broke apart. George instantly felt guilty. Who was he to judge the two, who went through just as much, if not more, than George during the war? George was missing Fred now, more heavily than he had since it happened, but that was no reason for him to lash out at two innocent people who were trying to find comfort in each other. "Forget it," George muttered to the apologetic pair. "I'm going back to ou—my flat if mum asks."
There was no way his sister and Harry missed his slip up, so George went outside and Apparated home before anyone could stop him.
Entering his flat, he inhaled deeply, still smelling the usual scent of it, as if nothing had changed from the week before. George went to the bedroom and saw the clothes Fred had discarded along the floor. George had yet to lay finger or foot on them, too afraid that if he moved them, this hellish dream would become a living nightmare. He walked over and sat on his bed. Now that he was back at his flat, he didn't know what to do. He stared around the room that had yet to change from its previous condition except a slight rumpling around on George's dresser, bed, and nightstand. He sat, unmoving, for a long time before he became struck by an idea.
Transfiguring the unused alarm clock into a large, body-length pillow, George hesitated only briefly before wandering over to Fred's side of the room. Barely daring to breathe, for reasons unknown to George, he laid the pillow on Fred's bed, making sure some of it rested on the pillow near the headboard. He grasped at Fred's quilt with shaky hands before throwing them on top of the pillow. He carefully angled the pillow's angles to resemble that of a sleeping person. The quilt was adjusted so that the supposed-face of the pillow faced towards the wall.
Using the same charm that Fred and he used on some of the livelier products in their shop, George cast it on the human-like bundle on Fred's bed. Immediately, soft, very Fred-like snores filled the room and the pillow rose and fell as though breathing. With a racing heart, George backed away from his work and collapsed on his bed. He kicked off his shoes, lay down in his own bed, and turned off the lights. He fell asleep easily for the first time in days.
O O O
George was up and running the shop within a week. His mother came by the shop, along with various others in his family, to express their shock. They hadn't expected him to feel up for work so quickly. George shrugged off their concerns, citing that "Fred would have wanted it this way." But George really didn't think that. He knew Fred would be worried about him and the way he hadn't dealt with the death in any right way. In fact, Fred would probably argue that George hadn't dealt with his death in any way at all.
George, for his part, ignored what his brother would have thought and tried to continue through his day as normally as possible, minus his right hand man. Lee had stopped by briefly, as well as Verity, but neither Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes employees felt ready to come back to work so soon after Fred's dismissal, so George was all on his own for business.
At the end of the day, George dealt with the last of his customers, nosy teenagers, mostly, who merely wished to find out more about Fred, and closed up. Wiping his brow after the long day of avoiding curious glances, not hearing personal questions, and general work, George was ready to rest.
Climbing the stairs to his flat above the shop, George opened the door and went to the bedroom. He began changing into his pajamas, purple and yellow striped, talking to the impromptu-Fred pillow.
"Today was a long day of work," George said, tossing a sock into the hamper. "You wouldn't believe how many customers were asking around about you. I didn't answer any of their questions, of course. They were all just nosy sods wanting to gossip, and I had no place for them in my busy day. It's too bad you weren't feeling well enough to come down again today, Fred, because Lee and Verity aren't any help lately. You've always been the best salesperson for our shop. Other than me, of course; but we're twins, so, sometimes, it's hard to tell who is doing the better job because we get so mixed up all the time."
George, of course, knew Fred wouldn't respond. Fred wasn't really there, but George felt comforted by his fake-presence nonetheless.
George prepared dinner, Fred's favorite soup and bread for the side along with a butterbeer. He sat down in his chair, which he had placed next to Fred's empty one. In front of Fred's place was a set for him, as there was one in front of George. George had filled Fred's bowl up with soup and put a slice of the buttered bread on the plate next to the bowl. He did the same for himself.
"I know you haven't been eating a lot lately, Fred, so I made this meal just for you so you would finish it. And you can't complain about it being too cheesy because I made sure I didn't add too much, and you can't say it's too crumby because I didn't add any crumbs. Now, I'm going to eat my dinner, and you're going to eat yours."
George finished his meal in the almost peaceful silence. He buttered his own bread and ate it with painstaking slowness. He ate it slowly in hopes that perhaps Fred's meal would get finished in that time. But, like all the other nights and meals he had done this, the food merely aired out and became stale and cold.
George stood up when he was finished and cleaned out all the dishes, ignoring the large globs of soup he poured down the sink from Fred's bowl and the buttered bread he threw in the trashcan.
He got ready to sleep, cast the snoring charm over Fred's bed, and then quietly got in his own. After all, Fred was a light sleeper.
O O O
He had not been expecting a visit that day. Three months, one week, and two days after Fred's death, George was not expecting his older brother, Bill, to Floo into his kitchen while he ate lunch from his plate and left Fred's plate, as usual, full of untouched food. Today, they were having ham sandwiches and snapping potato chips that would bite you if you didn't crunch them with your teeth fast enough.
When Bill Floo'd in, George was taken aback. Whenever he had had visitors for the past few months, he had always had advanced warning, or he was visited downstairs in the shop. He had to have time to clean up around before anyone came, or else they may see exactly how far he went to pretend that Fred wasn't dead.
George laid out extra shoes by the door—Fred's shoes to be exact—in order for it to appear that Fred was still there. He left Fred's coat hanging up, untouched. He had Fred's wand laying out on the kitchen counter, along with a book Fred had been reading, opened up to the page he had bookmarked. In the living room, George had scattered Fred's belongings haphazardly throughout the space. In the bathroom, George left out Fred's toothbrush and fuzzy robe, of course also unused. George hadn't cleaned Fred's sink out yet, so dried toothpaste lay stuck to its bottom. George had carefully removed the soap and shampoo from the shower that Fred used and placed it on the sink's counter. And, of course, in the bedroom, the snoring pillow mannequin lay underneath Fred's quilt as well as Fred's dusty clothes scattered among the floor.
So, when Bill stepped through the fireplace and saw not one, but two, places set on George's kitchen table, he asked, "You have company?"
George stood quickly, coughed, and greeted his eldest brother. "Hello, Bill. For what do I owe this visit?"
Bill seemed surprised at George's uncomfortable subject change. "Uh, well, Fleur and I were hoping you'd stop by for dinner tonight. We haven't seen you for a while, and I know you've practically lived in your shop for the past few months. But, I can see you have company. She is also welcome to come, of course." Bill smirked, and George smiled nervously with him.
"Yeah, maybe," he said, praying for Bill to leave soon. The bedroom door was cracked open, and George could see he forgot to take off the snoring charm that morning. "I'd love to come over tonight. Catch up and all."
Bill saw where George was eying and laughed. "That your pretty girl in there?" He stepped closer to the door.
But it was too late. Bill had walked into the bedroom and was right next to Fred's dirty clothes and snoring pillow. And it was obviously a pillow. There was no mistaking George's creation for anything but that.
Bill turned to George in confusion, but George, uncharacteristically horrified, had buried his face in his hand and turned half away.
"George?" Bill asked.
"Yes, Bill?" George responded, mortified.
"Why is your pillow snoring?" George mumbled. "Sorry, didn't catch that."
"What does Fred—Oh. Oooh." George peeked through his fingers at his brother, who had caught onto the meaning of George's confession. He looked more pitying than anything else, as well as a bit shocked. "And that meal in there wasn't for a girl, it was for—" Bill couldn't even finish his sentence.
"I know it's crazy," George said, collapsing onto his own bed. He had finally moved his hands down from his face, preparing to face whatever his brother had in store for him.
"What else?" Bill asked. And, just like that, George confessed what he had been living like. He told him about all the personal touches he added to make it seem like he was still surrounded by his long-dead twin. He told him about the snoring and breathing body pillow lulling him to sleep at night and the Fred-set meals that made him feel a bit less alone. George felt like a dam burst open inside him, and here he was, pouring out the most private, secret parts of his life to his oldest brother.
"Why?" his brother asked.
"I miss him," said George. "I don't even feel anything anymore except this ache inside me where I swear he used to be. I want him all the time, and doing these little things bring him closer to me. It makes it seem like he's still here with me. I just want my best friend back."
Bill sat next to George and drew him into a hug. George drew a shuddering breath, for the first time on the verge of tears. "George, Fred will always be with you in memory. The sooner you accept his death, the easier it's going to get."
"If I accept it, I might forget him. I don't ever want to forget him, even a little."
Bill sighed, rubbing George's shoulder. George felt like a kid again, the way he was being treated, but he had to begrudgingly admit it felt calming.
"George, maybe you should see someone—like a therapist. Or maybe move out to another flat for a while, just to get away from this." Bill gestured around the room, releasing George partially. "You can come live with Fleur and I for a while," he offered.
George shook his head and pulled away from his brother regretfully. "I don't know. I don't know how I can give him up." He put his head in his hands, this time the tears making definite notice.
"You're not giving him up, George. By accepting Fred's death, you can live your life the way it's meant to be lived. Fred will always be a part of you, but you can't let him pull you down. You know Fred wouldn't want to see you like this. He loved you. You were the most important person in the world to him, just like he is to you. You would never, not even a little bit," Bill nudged the crying George, urging a pained laugh from him, "forget your twin brother."
George sniffled and sat up, wiping away at the tears. "That's the first time I've done that since he died," George admitted.
"What, cried?" Bill asked. George nodded. "No wonder you've been like this!" George winced, and Bill quickly amended, "You know, unable to accept his death. I would have trouble too if I had suppressed my emotions for three months."
"Three months, one week, and two days," corrected George automatically. Then he laughed as Bill raised an eyebrow. "I really am screwed up, aren't I?"
Bill grinned a little but shook his head. "No, just recovering."
George nodded. He liked that word: recovering. It made it seem like he wasn't so pathetic for being so obsessed with his twin's death.
"So, dinner tonight?" asked Bill.
"I'll be there."
O O O
A/N: Wrote that all in one sitting, so we'll see how you liked it. Review!