why am I doing this and not sleeping.
disclaimer; if I owned either franchise, I'd own a franchise. Fancy that.
George yawned. Even it being only ten in the morning, it was far too early for his taste. Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes looms large over his head. The keys are in his hand, hand on the door, and he enters. Bit slow, but to be expected. It's years later, after that horrible day at Hogwarts when...when he lost Fred.
No, he shakes the thought away, he's fine.
Ron should be here, but there's been talk of marriage, and Hermoine's apparently been at the Burrow a lot-her parents too. They seem amazed at the size and scope of things still-though after, when they'd come and seen that Fred's spoon pointed to lost, they hadn't the heart to ask.
Apparently Hermione told them later, quietly, when George had gone.
George likes the Grangers. They're sweet folks, and they love their daughter and all the strangeness she brings along with her now.
There's an odd noise outside the door, and George looks up from sorting out new joke candies. The Alley is starting to come to life now, customers here and there. It's still summer, so, too soon for Hogwarts students.
People trickle past, and George goes back to his work (and half an hour later, still nothing from Ron. No owl or anything) until he hears chattering in a language that he only recognizes barely as Japanese.
(Angelina tried to get him to learn languages one day not too far behind them. George only could manage some french and latin and then the two had gotten rather distracted. He liked Angelina; clever and pretty and she knew him apart from Fred even before there was just one of them. She held his hand and told him she missed Fred too-but they were different senses of loss. Fred was Angelina's friend, and George his twin. She knew the difference and however shallow of him it felt, George appreciated it)
The voices drew louder and two boistrous young men-one with hair bright as copper, the other dark (and dyed so, by the look of the roots) tumbled into the shop. They looked at each other, gave a shove, and...they were arguing, he could see...nearly upended a just-stocked display of Peruvian Darkness powder.
Only at the noise of George clearing his throat did they look up, and George nearly blanched.
It was like seeing he and Fred, younger and stranger but it was like a strange mirror.
"Can I help you?" he tries, but they just sort of look at him. He shuffles through his mind for a spell to conquer a language barrier-but there is none. But there is a...well, it's not candy but it is, and the Ministry abroad did wonders with it-ah. Beneath the counter, he pulls out an item he can't recall the name of. but he knows the property. He takes a bite, swallows (and fights back a dry heave, lord, the taste) before trying again.
"Boys, need help?"
"Ah, yeah," the ginger haired one looks sheepish, "we're lost."
"Wouldn't be if you'd just listened, Kao-ow, don't elbow me!" the other muttered.
"Lost, eh? You must be from way outside of Britain, eh? You exchange students?"
Bit odd, though, exchange students. Was there a wizarding school in Japan? There were wizards there-someone had to train them. A group of folks blessedly far from...that Man's regime, he prayed.
"No, we're on holiday," the ginger says again, and the words sound a bit strained, like he's tried to say holiday in English, "we're supposed to be heading to...uh, crap..."
and Kaoru (at least, that's what the other boy called him) is fumbling through his pockets for a map or something but his brother rolls his eyes.
"Can you just help us get back to the nearest Underground station? We just landed a few hours ago, still jetlagged."
Jetlagged? From what? Wizards didn't take airplanes, not if they were skilled at apparating, unless they were still underage, but judging by their appearance, they were breaching seventeen any day no-
Muggles in the Alley?
George sighed, unsure of how they'd stumbled in-perhaps followed a wizard by accident or maybe there was a touch of magical blood somewhere in their lineage. Neither seemed to believe the only slightly odd things they must have seen on their way to the shop. George was nominally open, and it was early, so nothing too 'magical' about the alley was going.
"Yeah, sure, I've got to call my brother Ron anyhow, I'll show you."
"Don't you have a phone in the shop?"
"yeah, but he don't answer. Mum's on him to propose to his girlfriend, so maybe that'll give him a reason to pick up"
He takes the boys a mild, back way out of the Alley and onto the rushing London streets. People bustling by without knowledge of what lay just beyond the surface. George makes conversation, but the dark-haired one stops at one point and looks at him strange.
"You look like you're missing something."
George gives him the strangest look back, and the boy shrinks away a bit. The other, who had pulled a small mobile phone from his pocket, looked over, apologetic. They pass a newsstand with the date big and bold-nearly the end of March. It'd be his birthday soon.
"Well, yeah. It's...it'd be my brother Fred's birthday soon. Mine too. Same day, same year," and George knows he probably looks pained. The dark haired boy looks from his brother back to George.
"Oh, I...I'm sorry," and his brother echoes it. They don't press, though he can see them questioning in their eyes, they are possessing of some tact.
"S'alright, really. You two remind me of him and I, actually-I saw you trying to chat up those girls in the Alley"
Neither boy looked ashamed.
"Ah," and George smiled, "yeah, that's a twin thing. You should treasure it-really. You'll miss each other. AH, here we are, closest station to the Alley."
"Sorry, but what's the Alley?" the ginger asks again, looking apologetic.
"Diagon Alley. How d'you end up there by mistake?" he asks, seriously. Nature abhors a vacuum, he's heard, and for one piercing moment he thinks something worse than that tall man with the thin high voice had started among them.
The dark haired boy laughs sheepishly, and his brother mutters a "shut up, Hikaru" under his breath.
"Curiosity, actually. Saw someone head in...England's weird, by the way...and mimicked what they did and it let us in. We couldn't, er, get out, though. What, are we...not supposed to be there?"
He looked much like a kid with his hand caught in the biscuit tin.
Must be something magical somewhere, but George highly doubted muggles, the majority of which believed in no such thing as magic (even as it rent their cities and lives apart) would care enough to break into the wizarding world. Perhaps they were squibs, or Japan, in its pursuit of excellence, was putting a damper on magic and preferred to deny it over teaching their children.
"Yeah, you're fine. It's one of those strange things where if you're not supposed to be there you can't find it. It's...,"
The boys chimed "complicated?" at the same time and a pang of loss struck George.
"Let's call it a twin thing. Well then, off you go. Have fun visiting!"
"Sorry," the red hair teen calls back when they are halfway down the stairs, "what's your name?"
"George Weasley. You?"
"Kaoru Hitachiin," and he points to his brother, "and that's Hikaru."
The dark haired boy nods curtly, more focused on the ringing phone in his hand. He looks annoyed before shoving it back in his pocket.
"Good to meet you."
They disappeared into the mid-morning rush, leaving George with his memories. He'd tried to ignore when he'd seen twins, but whether cruel trick or really bad senses of direction had brought the boys along, all he could see was Fred.
He sat in the store later, until Ron arrived by Floo Powder, coughing and murmuring about his mum and Hermione's.
"Oi, George. It's noon, why's the store closed? George?"
The elder brother looked up, smiled but didn't.
"Ah, yeah, sorry, weird day."
Ron looked at him.
"It's nearly April...if you don't want to work on the first, I under-"
"Yeah, I wasn't gonna, who works on their birthday?" he replies, trying to sound jovial.
"Me," Ron mutters half-heartedly, "last year."
"Oh, yeah. Sorry."
"S'alright. You okay? Seem a bit shaken or somethin', like you've seen a ghost"
George quirks an eyebrow, and Ron smiles sheepishly.
"Sorry, muggle phrase. Hermione's dad says it sometimes."
"Ah. You ever see something and feel like you've seen it before?"
"A set of twins-like, Fred and me," god, he still hurts to say the name, still feels sad when he sees Weasleys' and knows it doesn't mean him and his twin, "with the hair and everything, came into the shop. From Japan. Weird boys, but...I don't know. It was like seeing him again."
George doesn't even realize how distant his voice sounds until Ron nearly whispers, "It's only been three years, mate. It's still gonna hurt."
"I know. Strangest thing though...it made me think of Fred and-no just listen, Ron-and how our family is and I'm glad I'm here. Fred's gone, but there's still me, and the shop, and all that we built together."
And he smiles. Small and sad but he smiles back at the corner of the room that houses a little tribute to Fred Weasley and the friends they'd lost that night.