A/N: So this is the first in a series of one shots, all of which will be published to this story. The categories will range from humor, to general, to hurt/comfort, ect… though all of the one shots will feature Fred and George and generally at least one other character from the Harry Potter cast. For our first one we have Ginny Weasley. This takes place very shortly after Harry and Ron bust her out of the Chamber of Secrets. Without further ado, hope you enjoy.
Fred Weasley rolled over for what felt like the hundredth time in the past twenty minutes, his normally agreeable bed sheets feeling suddenly heavy and stifling as they tangled themselves around his legs and middle. It was a mystery to him why sleep had chosen to be so elusive that night. What with Slytherin's monster finally defeated, his sister Ginny safely retrieved from the Chamber of Secrets, and McGonagall's announcement regarding the cancellation of end of term exams, sleep should have found him faster than Snape could outrun shampoo. Yet here he was, staring up at the rather boring bottom side of his four poster bed, just as awake now as he had been hours ago during the pajama party that had taken place in the Great Hall following the demise of the basilisk.
An absence of heavy breathing from the bed next to his told him that his twin, George Weasley, was every bit as awake as he. Fred wondered, not for the first time, if his brother was feeling any bit of the uncomfortable guilt currently gnawing away at his own stomach. Guilt was not something Fred came to terms with often and he generally found, on the rare occasion he did find himself dealing with it, the sensation was always a rather uncomfortable one. Practical jokes and clever pranks were he and George's life's breath, their bread and butter of sorts; something that came as easily to them as studying came to Hermione, or being a royal prat came to Percy. They rarely felt guilty about any of the stunts they pulled or any of the higher ups they happened to displease. Yet it was another matter entirely when it came to family and their little, and only, sister especially.
This wasn't to say that their family got off easy on any account. Oh no the Weasleys had become used to being the unwilling guinea pigs of many a Fred and George stunt throughout the years. Even so the twins always did their best to make sure none of their pranks ended in actual harm or hurt feelings (though if someone's pride, namely Percy's, happened to get slightly trodden on in the process, well the twins had never considered themselves angels and some things just couldn't be avoided…).
It had obviously come as something of a shock to Fred when he and George had been pulled aside by their father earlier that night and told in brief detail who, by no fault of her own, had been opening the Chamber of Secrets throughout the course of term. With a queasy feeling in his stomach Fred had recalled the multiple times he and George had covered themselves in fur or boils and jumped out at their unsuspecting sister from behind tapestries or suits of armor. Their actions had seemed all in good fun at the time but now made his insides knot uncomfortably. Cleary he and George's attempts at cheering up the youngest Weasley sibling had backfired horribly, and it was no wonder she had gone to Ron and Harry instead of himself and George mere hours before she'd been taken into the Chamber. (Ron had filled them in on all the details their father hadn't informed them of earlier during the feast).
Upon later attempting to visit their sister in the hospital wing, they had been turned away at the door by Percy. The boy had stated loudly that Ginny was finally sleeping under their mother's watchful gaze and if they cared at all for their younger sister's well being, they would let her get some much needed rest. Feeling slightly put out, the twins had returned to the feasting and celebrations before eventually retiring to bed.
Finally coming to terms with the fact that he was not going to be sleeping anytime soon Fred rolled over for the hundred and first time, fixed his eyes on the other Weasley and hissed:
"Psst, George!" Said twin rolled over as well, his brown eyes meeting Fred's own, not appearing surprised in the slightest that his brother was also completely and totally awake.
"Yeah?" he inquired, keeping his voice at a barely audible whisper so as to not disturb the snoring Lee Jordan who was slumbering away contentedly in a bed mere feet from his own.
"What say you to a midnight stroll with a little help from our good friends Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs? I think a visit to our dear Ginevra is a bit overdue," Fred stated, propping himself onto one elbow, the corner of his mouth quirking up in an all too familiar smirk.
"I'd say that's an excellent idea Fred," George responded quietly and without another word he rolled from the comfort of his mattress to land catlike on the wooden floor beneath him before tiptoeing over to the large trunk at the end of his bed and carefully pushing it open. Fred joined him seconds later, watching silently as George shoved aside old textbooks, Quidditch robes, Zonko's merchandise, and tattered quills before a muttered "ah-ha" finally left his lips. The boy's head disappeared momentarily as he reached for the map stowed at the bottom of the trunk, not noticing the single Filibuster firework that had been shoved precariously to the top of a large pile of dirty socks.
Fred realized what was going to happen seconds before it did and time seemed to slow as he made a wild dive for the firework right as George's elbow knocked it off the pile. The rocket twirled end over end through the air, missing Fred's outstretched fingers by centimeters and instead crashing into the floor, immediately going off with a thunderous boom! Sparks and little firecrackers spiraled off in all directions, popping and fizzing loudly as they weaved and bobbed excitedly across the enclosed dormitory. The twins ducked as the tiny flames whizzed over their heads, shrieking noisily before vanishing, all their magic spent. There was a moment's silence after the firework finally fizzled out, a moment in which Fred and George merely stared at each other, before a grin split across George's face and he nonchalantly got to his feet, dusting himself off and saying:
"I reckon that's why Harry's seeker and not you mate. Spectacular dive though, I'd have given it an eight out of ten personally."
"Wh-wh-what's going on?" The twin's glanced over to see that in the raucous caused by the firework, Lee Jordan had indeed woken up and was now attempting to speak through the large yawn that had just taken over half his face.
"Filibuster Firework. Nothing life threatening. Go back to sleep," Fred responded shortly, standing as well and nailing George in the head with a well aimed pillow from his bedside. Lee Jordan, either incredibly tired or perhaps just used to displays such as these, promptly did just that, his guttural snores audible not twenty seconds later. Deciding that tomorrow would be a much better time to deal with the disheveled trunk, Fred grabbed his wand from the bedside table and tossed George his own before quietly making his way toward the door leading out to the spiral staircase and the Gryffindor common room below.
Together the twins crept down the stairs, keeping an ear open for Percy or anyone else who might still be awake following the festivities. Yet the late hour had finally seen everyone to bed and the common room was deserted when the two set foot at the bottom of the stairs. The fire in the hearth had dwindled down to glowing embers, providing just enough light for the twins to make their way uninhibited to the backside of the Fat Lady's painting. Pausing inches from the entrance Fred pulled out his wand and whispered "lumos," providing enough light for George to see the crinkled parchment as he placed his wand on it and murmured:
"I solemnly swear I am up to no good."
The twins watched as the contents of the map spider webbed out in front of them, keeping an eye on the ink blobs that read Filch, and Mrs. Norris respectively. The cat was pawing along a corridor near the prefects bathroom on the fifth floor while the caretaker was skulking around the trophy room on the third. After checking briefly for Peeves (bobbing along on the fourth floor near the library), Fred and George quietly pushed the portrait of the Fat Lady open and slipped carefully into the corridor beyond.
"Do you have any idea what time it is?" The Fat Lady sniffed from behind them, sounding more than a little put out.
"Oh shove it," Fred hissed before he and George started off along the hallway, the later shooting the Marauder's Map careful glances before every turn or twist in the corridor. The festive cheer had rapidly left the interior of the castle once the students and teachers had retired to bed and Fred wouldn't have been the least bit surprised to find that, despite the short amount of term remaining, there would still be plenty of time for detention were he and George to be discovered. Then there was always house points to consider, though Gryffindor most definitely had a rather upright lead thanks to the solid amount of points awarded to Harry and Ron earlier that evening.
Still Fred would much rather spend the last days of his fourth year outside in the sunshine as opposed to inside under the austere gaze of Filch, McGonagall, or Snape. More intimidating still was the knowledge that his mother was sleeping somewhere within the castle walls and were he and George discovered, he had no doubts that she would hear of it and be the first to distribute a thorough tongue lashing.
It was with this thought in mind that the twins stole as silently as possible down to the third floor, making their way quickly and cautiously in the direction of the Hospital Wing. They had nearly reached the large double doors when George suddenly stopped in his tracks, his eyes grazing the map wildly before he grabbed Fred's wrist and pulled him sideways into the shadows behind a well concealed suit of armor.
"What-" Fred started but shut up immediately as George trod rather painfully on his foot, a warning look in his eyes. Not two seconds later Filch ambled into view around the corner, muttering to himself about extra festivities causing excessive amounts of mess, illegal fireworks, unnecessary raucous, the list went on. The twins shrank back as the caretaker passed them by, hardly daring to breathe as his eyes swept over their hiding place. He seemed to pause for the briefest of moments before shaking his great, greasy head and continuing along the corridor, muttering to himself the whole way. Only after they were sure the danger had passed did the two step out of hiding, George shooting the map a grateful look as he placed it back in his pocket, crossing the hall to the Hospital Wing in three short strides. Sighing Fred followed him.
"Almost a shame he didn't see us really," he muttered. "I've been wanting to curse Filch for ages."
"Doubt you could have made him much uglier though," George replied with a nonchalant shrug of his shoulders. Fred grinned at him before pulling his wand from his pocket, tapping it on the handle of the door and whispering: "alohomora." With a barely audible click the door unbolted itself and Fred and George slid silently inside, keeping one wary eye open for Madam Pomfrey. Somehow they doubted the head nurse would be glad to see them despite the obvious purity of their intentions.
Since the departure of the basilisk victims the hospital wing was a rather empty place, only two or three of the beds now occupied by students requiring medical attention at some point in the recent past. Ginny was not hard to locate as her flaming red hair stood out quite vividly against the stark white of the pillow resting beneath her head.
"Probably be a bad idea to sneak up on her eh?" Fred whispered to his twin who snorted his agreement. Right then however they heard a sound that pushed any further ideas for joking from their minds. It was a soft sniffle unmistakably emanating from the direction of their younger sister's bed. The twins exchanged a quick look of alarm, identical expressions of dismay sliding across their features. The job of comforting the 'little ones' had always fallen to their mother as Fred and George's idea of cheering someone up always seemed to end in explosions, incredibly enlarged body parts, facial deformities, or the transformation of unsuspecting blokes into some type of fowl animal. Somehow the two didn't feel as though one of these more practical methods would be quite what Ginny was looking for in her current situation.
George shot Fred a look that stated quite plainly: proceed with caution to which Fred nodded mutely. The two then carefully made their way forward, hoping they wouldn't startle the younger girl too much and thus alert their presence to the hospital wing's watchful head nurse. Fred felt for sure he would rather be back in the corridor facing Filch than dealing with Madam Pomfrey when she was in a temper.
"Ginny? Shh, Gin it's us!" George hissed as Ginny had turned toward them, her face alive with terror for a moment before her eyes rested on the twins and she visibly relaxed.
"Think we were going to attack you?" Fred whispered, bringing a hand up to his heart. "I'm hurt." Ginny sniffed again before wiping furiously at her eyes, the tips of her ears turning as red as her hair.
"What are you two doing here?" she whispered, her voice quivering dangerously as the twins took the seats by her bedside that had no doubt been occupied by Arthur and Molly earlier that day. "You shouldn't be in the hospital wing after hours."
"And you shouldn't be awake right now yet here we all are," George responded, raising an eyebrow and giving her a small grin to which Ginny snorted and shook her head.
"All things considered I'm surprised mum didn't end up staying with you all night," Fred remarked, glancing around the hospital wing as though he expected Molly to appear suddenly from beneath one of the beds. Ginny shot him a look, bringing her knees up to rest protectively underneath her chin.
"She wanted to but I told her I would be fine. I'm not a little girl, I don't need her and dad fawning over me all the time," she mumbled, though something in her voice told the twins this might not be quite true, at least not tonight.
"And she went, just like that?" George asked skeptically. Ginny shook her head.
"Not at first," she sniffed. "But Dumbledore came back in a little later and convinced her that I was in good hands and that she looked like she could use some rest herself. She and dad left pretty quickly after that." Fred and George exchanged another quick look that went unnoticed by their little sister. It was more than obvious she had been lying about not wanting her parents with her, a fact that didn't come as a surprise to either of them. Even at her young age Ginny was not one to depend too much on others and was even less inclined to become emotionally unstable in front of them. She would have felt very childish indeed asking her mother to stay with her through the entirety of the night though the twins had no doubt Molly would have been more than happy to do so.
"Are you sure you don't want mum here Gin? I mean honestly you look a bit like a house elf that's been hitting the mead," Fred stated bluntly, a statement he immediately wished he could take back as Ginny shot him a furious look and immediately pulled the blanket over her head, sinking as far as she could into her pillows.
"Just leave Fred. Please I'm trying to sleep," she hissed and with a start of guilt, a feeling he was becoming all too familiar with lately, Fred heard that the watery quality had returned to her voice. There was a moment's pause in which George took a deep breath before ever so carefully placing his hands on the top of the sheet in an attempt to pull it out of his sister's tightly clenched fists.
"We're sorry, Fred's sorry. Really we're just trying to help. If my exceedingly stupid, insensitive, ugly-"
"-witty, intelligent," Fred broke in.
"-git of a twin brother keeps his mouth shut will you please tell us what's bothering you?" George asked, pointedly ignoring his brother.
For awhile all they could hear from beneath the white sheet was muffled sniffles, George finally gave up trying to wrestle the blanket from her hands, and Fred was just beginning to wonder if they really should leave when an incomprehensible mumble finally emanated from where he imagined his sister's mouth must be. Blinking the twins glanced at each other, Fred raised an eyebrow and George shrugged.
"Sorry, didn't quite catch that," Fred remarked, leaning closer to the form of their sister still hidden beneath the sheet. A brief silence followed his question before Ginny said in a very tiny voice:
"What if someone had died? It really w-would have b-been all my f-fault!" And the sniffles and sobs returned, louder and fiercer than they had been since the twins had arrived. Fred swallowed, hesitating a moment before cautiously placing a hand on the white bed sheet, finally succeeding in pulling it away from his little sister's tear stained face.
"Come on Gin…" he began but was cut off as Ginny suddenly, and unexpectedly, threw herself into his chest, wrapped her arms around his neck in a vice grip he would be hard pressed to break, and sobbed uncontrollably into his shoulder. Fred blinked repeatedly. Of all the reactions he had expected, this certainly had not been one of them. Clearing his throat he patted his sister's shoulder awkwardly, shooting George a look that stated quite plainly: help me out here! Apparently his twin got the message as not two seconds later George shifted from sitting on the chair to settling himself down on the bedside next to Ginny, carefully patting her other shoulder while shooting an anxious glance in the direction of Madam Pomfrey's office.
Several minutes ticked by before Ginny was able to detach herself from Fred, her brown eyes as red and watery as ever, the girl appearing almost fishlike as she took deep gaping breaths in an attempt to calm herself down. Deeming it safe to talk George spoke up, one hand still resting on his sister's quivering shoulder.
"Dumbledore said it wasn't your fault didn't he? He said that older and wiser wizards had been done in by You-Know-Who and I guarantee you none of them could control what they were doing either. So even if someone had snuffed it-"
"-which no one did," Fred put in helpfully.
"-it wouldn't have been your fault," George concluded. Ginny swallowed, wiping her eyes with the palm of her hand before a small, watery smile snuck onto her lips and her head gave the slightest of nods.
"R-right," she murmured, suddenly becoming fascinated with the blanket in front of her. "Thanks Fred, George." Fred nodded before getting quietly to his feet and shooting Ginny a grin.
"Well we'd better go. Wouldn't want to keep you awake any longer than we need to and I don't fancy the idea of a run in with the higher ups," he stated, jerking his head towards Madame Pomfrey's office. A brief silence followed this statement broken only by the light scuffling sound of George rising from his chair, turning his back on Ginny for a spell and scanning his eyes over the map.
"We're clear to go," he muttered in Fred's ear before turning back to Ginny and returning the map to his pocket. "See you tomorrow little sister."
"Can you stay?" The question was phrased so quietly the twins thought they might have imagined it if they hadn't seen the younger girl's lips move.
"What?" Fred asked loudly, forgetting for a moment to keep his voice down and remembering only when George kicked him in the shins. Ginny's whole face had turned a brilliant shade of fuchsia, her hands were shaking and she was staring all the more determinedly at her bed sheets.
"C-can you stay?" she asked again, even quieter this time. Fred and George looked at each other, a silent conversation only they could understand rapidly taking place over their sister's head. Fred glanced from Ginny to George and back again, his eyes scanning over her flushed face, shaking hands, tear stained cheeks, and slightly quivering shoulders and in that instant made up his mind. Since when had he cared for trivial things like school rules and curfew anyway? Quietly he slid back into the seat he had just vacated, George filling the one next to him.
"Course," he replied. A soft sigh of relief escaped Ginny's lips and she burrowed under her covers, facing the two chairs her older brothers had seated themselves in, blinking at them sleepily before closing her eyes. Fred and George sat in silence, watching their youngest sibling slip peacefully into the world of dreams, a small smile remaining on her lips. Finally George spoke up.
"Reckon we'll probably get in trouble for this," he murmured, sliding lower into his chair and letting his head rest against the seat's stiff back. Fred nodded his agreement.
"Presumably," he responded with a slight shrug of his shoulders.
"You care?" George asked, yawning widely. Fred snorted.
"Not in the slightest. You?" George's answering grin was response enough.
It was a surprising yet heart warming scene that greeted Madame Pomfrey upon her arrival to the hospital wing the next morning. Ginny Weasley lay curled up in her bed, her knees pulled up to her chest, red hair fanning over the pillow, exactly like the nurse had last seen her the night before. Now however one of her hands was gently holding onto Fred Weasley's own, her brother sitting sound asleep in a chair beside her bed with his head lolling onto his twin George Weasley's shoulder. George himself was sound asleep in the seat beside Fred's, his head resting rather comfortably against the stiff back of his chair.
Huffing exasperatedly yet unable to stop the warm smile that crept onto her lips, Madame Pomfrey continued on her way out the door and into the hallway towards the staff room. Visiting hours had by no means begun yet perhaps, just this once, she would make an exception.
So there you have it. The first of a series of one shots featuring Fred and George. They should be mostly in order according to the books but you never know, I might get an idea for something that happened before a chapter that's already been written. I'll let you know in the authors note. I hope you all enjoyed. Writing Fred and George in a more comforting environment was rather difficult seeing how you rarely see them in it and hopefully all was portrayed okay. Thank you for taking the time to read, let me know what you thought!