Disclaimer: I don't own it, but I will declare that Fred is not dead! (Rowling had no idea what she was talking about.)
A dream is a wish your heart makes when you're fast asleep.-Cinderella
The minutes ticked by inconsequentially, and Hermione hardly noticed them, she was so wrapped up in the unconscious figure laying in the bed across from her. It was strange, of all the people in this room, of all the people in Hogwarts that were in this room, it was him she couldn't look away from.
She'd been there when he had been hit, she'd watched him fall and ran to his side along with the rest of his family in a vain attempt to save him. They were sure he was already dead, but hope, that annoying, wonderful thing, would not let them alone, so they dug him out. Hope kept pushing them on, insisting they free him from the rocks. They had, and they'd found a barely audible pulse.
She'd been hit by a curse immediately after that, and rushed to the hospital wing as well. It had been three days since that night. Three days since Voldemort had been killed and Harry had won a victory for everyone against truly impossible odds. Three long days of rebuilding, revisions, healing, and hurting.
Yet still he slept. Most everyone else had awakened, but they couldn't figure out why he hadn't. His twin hadn't left his side, he hadn't said anything or looked at anyone the entire time either. They'd both turned in on themselves, and no one could bring either one out of it. He was lying on one edge of the bed, his twin curled around him as though he were trying to protect him. Both looked to be fast asleep, the paleness of their skin the only thing that showed they weren't well. All around the bed the other Weasley's, Molly, Arthur, Bill, Charlie, Percy, and Ginny, were fast asleep, finally having succumbed to the rest they needed. It was well past midnight, and Hermione knew she should have been asleep, but she simply could not sleep.
The war was over, the battle she'd been fighting in for her entire magical life was finally finished, she should have been celebrating-they all should have been- but it had managed to leave them this last dark mark.
"He'll wake up, don't worry." Hermione started at the voice, turning slightly so she could look at the speaker. She knew the cadence and the gentle caring in the tone so well that she already knew who it was without looking.
"I'm sure he will, Ron." She said quietly, grasping his hand where it was resting on top of the blanket. Harry stirred beside them and they both looked over, smiling softly when he sat up, his glasses skewed and his crazy hair even more mussed. "Are you alright?" Hermione questioned quietly, studying him. He nodded his head, moving his neck stiffly as his eyes found Fred and George across the room, narrowing in worrying as his green eyes grew more sad.
Ron and Hermione both frowned with him, fearful for Fred and George, and guilty at seeing their best mate once again sad.
They'll be alright. Hermione kept telling herself. Maybe if she repeated it enough times she'd actually start to believe it. As it was, she knew she couldn't, wouldn't rest until Fred and George were both laughing at some ridiculous prank they'd pulled on someone.
"Do you think he's in pain?" Ron asked quietly, his voice weary and strained. She let her eyes rest on Fred and George's sleeping frames again, taking note of the peaceful expression on Fred's face, and shook her head.
"No, he's peaceful. I don't think he's feeling any pain, he looks like he's having a nice dream." She commented quickly. Harry nodded his head in agreement, scooting back on the bed and leaning his head against the back board. The trio grew quiet again, contemplating various things, mostly what was going to happen now that the battle was over. Slowly their eyes all drifted back to the two sleeping figures, secretly wondering what it would take to wake them.
"NURSE!" George suddenly screamed out, sitting up and opening his eyes for the first time in three days. Hermione jumped at the unexpected shout, knocking Harry off the bed and sending Ron scrambling for the bed post to keep himself up. All the other Weasley's keeping watch around the bed woke up, worried looks in their eyes until they found George and Fred.
His eyes were wide and he looked terrified. His breath was coming in short gasp as he turned in his seat, his hands groping around to find Fred's again. Hermione shot out of bed as quickly as she could, grabbing onto a just rising Harry for support. He stumbled for a moment, and then righted himself, wrapping his arm around her so that she could lean on him for support. Her leg had been hit by a curse and she'd been having trouble walking on it since. The healers had no idea how to go about repairing it, but they were confident they could. In the mean time she had an annoying, painful limp and couldn't move terribly fast.
"What is it?" Mrs. Weasley asked, stepping up to her son and grabbing his arm as the door at the end of the ward flew open. A healer ran into the room, pushing Mrs. Weasley side and grabbing hold of George, pulling him off the bed to get a better look at him.
Fred started to convulse the minute she pulled George away, growing even paler as his lips turned a bluish hue. George, with a wild look in his eyes, pushed the nurse out of the way, lunging for his twin and grabbing hold of him. Fred stopped convulsing at the touch but didn't regain his color.
"What's going on?" Mrs. Weasley cried, sounding slightly hysterical as she grabbed onto her husband for support.
"I'm not sure." The healer yelped, rounding on the other side of the bed and taking Fred's vitals.
"He's fading." George said, his voice broken. He turned his head towards the trio, his eyes completely crazy. "Hermione! Get over here!"
"What?" She stuttered, stumbling forward as Harry tugged her towards the bed. George's voice held a commanding note in it that Harry apparently wasn't about to question. She was next to Fred a moment later, and George grabbed her shaking hand, forcing it onto Fred's surprisingly cold arm. A shock went through her body at the touch, and she couldn't help but let out a small yelp at the feel of it. Fred let out a sigh and relaxed, regaining some of his color as Hermione took in a deep calming breath, trying to regain control of her senses after the startling shock. It felt like someone or thing had been trying to short circuit her body. She'd never felt that way when she'd touched anyone.
She didn't have time to question what that meant though. "Sir?" The healer questioned, turning towards Charlie. "Would you go get Healer Rosak? He specializes in these cases. Just go to the desk outside and have them get him." Charlie nodded his head and then ran for the doors without waiting for further instructions.
"What's going on?" Hermione asked with a shaky voice, her eyes lifting up from Fred to lock on George.
"I'm not sure, I just know he needed your touch." George said, his eyes scanning Fred with a slightly desperate air. Hermione had to bite her lip in an attempt to stop the questions that wanted to spill from her. Now wasn't the time to ask questions, she told herself, but she would not be able to hold them off for long.
George sat down in the chair Charlie had just vacated and heaved a great sigh, his face ragged and pale. He still held Fred's hand, and his other arm was on his shoulder, gently rubbing it up and down. Hermione was still holding onto Harry, trying to relieve the pressure on her leg which was giving off a dull ache and telling her she needed to sit down. She gritted her teeth and ignored the pain, focusing on the unconscious wizard beneath her fingertips instead.
The doors burst back open and a healer, followed closely by Charlie, ran into the room. He stopped by Fred's side and felt his forehead. He then reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wand, waving it in circles over Fred's body. He did that for a few moments, and then a smile broke out across his face.
"He's going to awaken soon." He stated, turning towards Mr. Weasley. George let out a strangled sort of moan and sat back in his chair, bringing his free hand up to his face and covering it with it. Ginny and Charlie moved to his side, each placing a hand on his back in a comforting manner. George leaned into the touch, his shoulders sagging in obvious relief. Hermione felt herself shaking as well, she couldn't believe he was really going to be waking, it seemed like it was so impossible. He'd been unconscious for three and a half days, never showing any sign of waking, could he really just wake?
"However, there is something extremely urgent I need to discuss with you before he does so."
"Pardon?" Mrs. Weasley asked, looking nervously at her son. "Is he going to be hurt?"
"No ma'am, not exactly." He sighed and shifted his feet, his face taking on a contemplative quality. "Let me see, how to explain…"
"Why not just tell us?" Mr. Weasley asked, his voice extremely tired.
"Very well. Your son has been in a coma for the last four days, correct?"
"It's only been four days for us, but for him, it's been much longer."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, he has been locked in a dream world his mind has concocted to help him escape from the pain and trauma his body had received. He has been living in that world for what will feel like a very long time. He'll believe its real, whatever he dreamed up he will think really happened. It's likely he has reconstructed some aspect of his past. Rearranged something so that events happened the way he originally wished they had."
"I don't understand, you mean to say that he has re-imagined his past?" Mrs. Weasley asked.
"Yes, precisely." The healer declared, looking excited.
"So?" Hermione questioned, sensing that he was leaving the most important part out.
"So, when he awakes he's going to be shocked to find out it hasn't really happened at all. It might be enough of a shock to send him back into a coma."
"What?" Everyone around the bed exclaimed. Mrs. Weasley swayed on her feet and George turned even paler, the wild look rising back up in his eyes.
"If what he has recreated is important enough to him, the shock of it not being true might send him back to this state. He might not be able to deal with the reality that whatever it is has not happened."
"So," George said, speaking for the first time. He looked haggard, his eyes blood shot and his skin ashen. The pain and toll the last few days had caused for him was obvious. "Whatever he has imagined, we have to go with it. That's what you're telling us, right?"
"What if it's something we can't fake?"
"Then I would suggest you give him a sleeping potion until you figure out a way to." Hermione cocked her eyebrow at that and frowned fiercely.
"Are you serious? That's your only suggestion? 'Figure out a way to?' There are some things we can't possibly fake, and he can't live his whole life that way. Isn't there someway to slowly break the news to him in such a way that he won't go into shock?" She questioned, keeping her gaze leveled on the healer as she adjusted the way she was standing in an attempt to relieve the pressure on her bad leg. The doctor turned towards her with a frown, his eyes taking in her mangled leg before moving to the hand she still had resting on Fred's arm.
"Of course, he can't go through his entire life that way." The doctor said with an exasperated frown. He looked at Hermione as though he didn't think she was all that intelligent, causing Hermione to narrow her eyes even more in annoyance. "However, I have to figure out a way to prevent him returning to a coma before you, or anyone else, tells him he's and imaginative loon. "
"How do we know what has changed?" George asked, looking at his twin again. That was a good question, it could be anything, big or small, how would they know?
"He should make it obvious fairly quickly. His subconscious knows its not true, so he'll want to prove it wrong by confronting the false reality."
"So if he says something completely barmy you want us to just go with it?" Bill summed up.
"Precisely!" He exclaimed, rounding on Bill with a grin and eyes that showed he thought he was the only bright one here. "Just go with it." He turned back to Mr. Weasley and inclined his head. "I'm going back to my office now, he should wake soon." And then the healer turned around and headed out the door, leaving everyone speechless and shocked.
A/N: I hope you all enjoy the start of this. I'm not sure how long it will be, but it'll be fun. My internet has been terribly spotty, and I've been trying to upload this for the last two hours. I finally managed to make it work, but I'm not sure how long it'll last. I'll try to update everyday like usual, but we'll have to see if I can with the internet...
Anyway, enjoy this first installment. Also, for anyone who has already seen DH II and is feeling extremely depressed about Fred, then I would reccomend the story "Fox Ears" by TheStarhorse for a quick fix. It's very well written and book complient.
So, I hope you enjoy, and don't forget to review!