Chapter 6- Love
The first thing George noticed was a slight pain in his body from remaining in the same position for so long. The second thing he noticed was that he could no long feel Fred's hand clasped in his own. And the third thing he noticed was that Fred wasn't awake.
"Fred?" He mumbled, sitting up straighter, the weight of Fred's body pressed against him. He reached for Fred's hand, startled at its coolness, and was about to speak when he distracted by the sound of a loud sob emanating from his mother.
"Georgie!" She cried out before dissolving into tears in Arthur's arms. His eyes flickered to his siblings, Fleur, Harry and Hermione, who all wore similar expressions of relief. Relief that he was awake and alive. But Fred…
George shook Fred's shoulder lightly with his hand.
"Fred, wake up," he whispered quietly, desperation leaking into his voice. "Come on Fred. Please." For several heart-stopping moments, Fred was completely still, his chest unmoving. George could hear his family murmuring around him. He glanced up and saw Charlie looking at him sadly, Bill avoiding his gaze. Then suddenly, Fred's eyes flew open as he started coughing.
"Fred!" The whole family cried out at the same time in disbelief, all rising from their various positions on the floor. George gripped his brother's right shoulder tightly as Fred turned his head away, still coughing harshly.
"Just breathe Fred," he coached gently, voice cracking slightly as tears formed in his eyes at the sight of Fred awake. Fred wheezed several times before his breathing seemed to return to a normal state. His eyes flickered to George, and in that instant the two brothers launched themselves into the other's arms. Fred pressed his cheek against George's hair as George burrowed his head into Fred's neck, relishing the fact that Fred was alive, that Fred was breathing in his arms. Tears began flowing down his face, and Fred tightened his hold on George.
"Don't cry George, I'm here. I'm right here," Fred whispered into his ear, and George could only sob in response. Fred chuckled weakly, but his hold on George never weakened. A second pair of hands wrapped around the twins, and George opened his eyes to see a pair of horn rimmed glasses above him.
"Fred," Percy choked out and his grip tightened on the twins as Fred wrapped an arm around Percy. The three were soon joined by the rest of the family, all who had tears streaming down their faces. In the midst of all the flaming red hair George caught a glimpse of Fleur, Hermione and Harry who had been pulled into the massive group hug as well. It was several minutes before the group began to separate, but George was reluctant to let go of his brother. They came to a compromise; George keeping one arm slung around Fred's shoulder, while Fred gripped the back of George's jacket. The twins gazed up at the rest of their family who were all beaming.
"Miracle… it's a miracle," Arthur kept uttering as Molly dabbed her eyes. The rest of the Weasley clan were murmuring in agreement.
"How did you…?" Ron asked George dazedly, glancing between Fred and George. "What… how?"
It was a few hours later when the twins finally found themselves alone with each other. Everyone else was rejoicing at the death of Voldemort and the end of the war. From where they were standing, Fred and George could see Harry being hoisted onto Hagrid's shoulders while everyone cheered. They could even see a few of their own fireworks being set off, lighting up the sky. But George found he could not join in with the celebration. He felt exhausted, both mentally and physically, and a quick glance at his brother showed he was not alone. Now that it was over, Fred seemed to be experiencing a combination of emotions, the latest evident from the tears making their way down his face.
"Fred?" George said in alarm, his hand reaching out to his brother. "Fred, what's wrong?" Fred shook his head, unable to speak, rubbing his eyes fiercely. George pulled his brother into his arms, already murmuring soothing phrases into his ear. "Hey, it's alright. Everything's okay, we're all okay Freddie."
Fred still said nothing, but George could feel his body shake slightly. Fred had always been a silent crier, for as long as they could remember. While George would hiccough, sob, and generally cause quite a commotion, Fred was often more discreet, his tears often going unnoticed by everyone except George. Charlie had always found it amusing that it was such a switch from their normal personalities. Right now though, George could only rock his brother back and forth soothingly, providing him with the comfort he seemed to so desperately seek.
Several minutes later, Fred seemed to gain his control of his vocal chords.
"Being stupid," he muttered as he pulled away, wiping his face. George rested his hand on the back of Fred's neck.
"It's not stupid Fred, you've been through a lot today," George admonished. Fred shook his head.
"I keep hearing… you. The other you, back in my mind. You were screaming in pain and there was nothing I could do, even when you begged me… I'm so sorry George," and the look Fred shot George was filled with so much pain and regret that George had to hug his brother again, holding him close and letting his embrace speak the words he could not.
"It wasn't me Fred," he finally said gently. "You didn't let me down; you've never let me down. Got it?" Fred chuckled weakly from within his arms.
"Got it," he murmured back.
"It's okay Fred," George told him quietly, and he heard Fred sniffed wetly as he drew back from the hug. The two looked back out to the crowd, shoulders touching. George broke the silence.
"How did you get through the mirror? I thought- I thought for a second there that I lost you."
"You almost did," Fred admitted. "The mirror shattered when I was halfway through. That was when I lost my grip on your hand. Then it was like I was lost in this mass of darkness, and I couldn't get out."
"So- how-?" George asked disjointedly, eyes fixed on Fred's face.
"I heard you calling for me," Fred said simply, eyes meeting George's. A look passed between the two and George nodded in understanding.
"So how does it feel to be back?" He asked in a weak attempt to change the topic. Fred shrugged.
"It feels a bit surreal," he commented, but George knew there was something he wasn't saying. He raised an eyebrow, and Fred sighed.
"I just don't understand" Fred admitted.
George frowned. "Don't understand what?"
"Why I'm alive when so many people died" Fred said bluntly, and George flinched.
"Don't- you make it sound like you want to be dead!" George said, sounding quite upset. Fred's gaze softened at George's distress.
"I don't want to be dead George, of course I don't, but I nearly was. I should be. So who decided that I have a second chance at life when so many people died?" Fred's voice was sorrowful, and George found that he had no words of comfort because he honestly didn't know.
"You can't think about it like that," a quiet voice disrupted their tense silence and Fred and George looked up in surprise to find Harry standing before them.
"How did you get out of that crowd?" George asked, bemused. Harry smirked.
"I have my ways." His expression turned serious as he looked at Fred.
"But Fred, you can't keep thinking about it. Believe me, you'll never find an answer. I've been asking myself that for years and I still don't know."
"So how do you do it? How do you go on living?" Fred's voice was deadly serious, his eyes filled with a pain George could understand because hadn't he been asking himself the same question only hours before? Why should he get to live, when his twin, his other half was dying?
"Well, I suppose you continue living for those who lost their lives. You cherish every moment you have, and you live your life in memory of those who couldn't." Harry looked sad for a moment as he reminisced on those close to him he had lost, and George felt the need to break the solemn mood.
"I suppose if you were going to listen to anyone Fred, it should be the boy who lived," George commented.
"Or whatever it is they're calling you now," Fred added, catching on quickly to George's plan.
"The boy who defeated the Dark Lord."
"The boy who lived twice."
"The defeater of death."
"Not to mention our future brother-in-law, if Ginny has anything to say about it."
Harry began laughing, cheeks already turning red. "Hey, I'm nearly eighteen now. Hardly a boy anymore," he protested.
"The man formerly known as the boy who lived!" Fred and George proclaimed together. Harry grinned, and then turned his head as he heard his name being called out.
"Looks like they're waiting for you, boy wonder," Fred smirked slightly. Harry smiled, and turned to go, when he suddenly turned back, looking slightly awkward.
"I just want you to know… I'm glad you survived Fred," He said. George watched as Fred's smirk changed into a genuine smile.
"Yeah well, right back at you Harry," Fred said, and grinned as Harry made his way back to the cheering crowd. George nudged Fred's shoulder lightly.
"I'm glad you survived too, Fred," he said quietly. Fred gazed at him.
"I wouldn't have survived without you," Fred admitted quietly. "I wouldn't be here if you hadn't-"
"Try not to think about it," George interrupted. He smiled weakly. "I know I'm not." Fred laughed, knowing full well that the past few hours would be imprinted in their minds for a very long time.
"You're a terrible liar George," he said affectionately, bumping their shoulders together.
"Shut up. I'm not as bad as you."
Fred's smile lingered on his lips for a few seconds before disappearing; painfully reminding George of the moment they had found Fred's body, his brother's lips frozen in a smile. His expression must have changed because Fred's own expression was one of regret as he gazed at his twin.
"Oh Georgie…" he muttered, before pulling George into a hug, and George didn't know how Fred knew he needed the contact, but he did. He wrapped his own arms around Fred, failing in his attempt to stop the tears which were leaking down Fred's neck. He opened his mouth to speak but couldn't find the right words to describe how he was feeling.
"I know, George," Fred murmured, and George was once again hit by the realization of how close he had come to losing the one person who knew him better than he knew himself. The person who knew when he needed to laugh or to cry before he himself knew. And in that moment, the only thing he could do was cry, sobbing in the arms of his best friend, his brother, his twin.
"God I'm such a sap," George laughed wetly a few minutes later when he felt himself gaining control of his emotions.
"I think we've cried more today than we have in our whole life," Fred said in agreement.
"Well that's just not true. I take it neither of you remember being two?" Bill's voice came from behind them. The twins turned around to see both Bill and Charlie approaching.
"What happened when we were two?" Fred asked, crossing his arms and raising an eyebrow. Bill looked at Fred for a moment, taking in the sight of his little brother alive before continuing.
"You and George used to cry all the time. We never even knew why half the time, we'd just turn around and George would be sobbing his eyes out and you would just sit there with tears streaming down your face. And I've never heard anyone cry so loud in my life, George!" Bill proclaimed. George huffed.
"And then of course you two would set off Ron, and meanwhile mum would be struggling with Ginny who of course had decide to compete with the volume, and Percy would come barrelling down the stairs saying you were all being too noisy… it was a nightmare!" Charlie finished, grinning despite his last statement. Fred looked at his older brothers, his face solemn.
"Well that's just not true."
"Yeah, we wouldn't just cry for no reason!"
"It's as if you're suggesting we enjoy causing trouble for others!"
"How could you even propose such a thing?"
Bill rolled his eyes, ruffling the twins' hair as he strolled down to join Fleur. Charlie made to follow him, before turning around and pulling both twins into his arms, embracing them.
"Oh Charlie, you're such a sap," Fred said, but his smile spoke volumes.
"You ever do anything like that again…" Charlie said warningly, shaking his finger at Fred, who laughed.
"Love you too Charlie."
Charlie left with a grin on his face. Meanwhile Fred was grimacing, trying to flatten his hair after Bill's exuberant hair ruffling. He exchanged a glance with George, who looked just as dishevelled.
"Sound like something we would do, doesn't it?" Fred remarked, referring to their misdemeanours as toddlers. George nodded, smirking.
"Causing mayhem at the tender age of two." He said proudly.
"Shall we go down and join the celebrations then?" Fred asked uncertainly, unsure whether George, or himself for that matter, was up to it. George looked thoughtfully at the large crowd for a moment.
"I suppose, yeah," he said with a sigh.
"Well there's no need to be so enthusiastic about it," Fred remarked.
"Oh shut up ," George said as he gave Fred a light shove.
"Come on then, let's go down together," Fred said as he began walking down the stairs. George gazed at his brother's retreating back.
"Together," he echoed, and he felt a swell of happiness flow through his body at the word.
"Oi, Saint Georgie, get moving already!" Fred shouted back at him. George grinned broadly as he ran down to meet his brother, the two of them joining in the celebrations with their ever contagious Weasley gusto.
A/N: Ta-da! All done. Hehe and you all thought I was going to kill Fred… Well, there you have it. Not really much action in this one, it was more emotional closure and what-not. But that's always fun to write. So, as always, big thanks to everyone who reviewed the last chapter: Weasleyismyking3, sparrowflyaway, Blastoise100, Cristina Weasley, cutietrp, chocolateMnMs, Tangleddove15, and Stars and Stripes. You guys are brilliant, and I hope the last chapter lived up to your expectations. And to everyone reading: it's been fun. Thank you very much, and please leave a review if you can.