From Boys to Men

Chapter One

Ten million soldiers to the war have gone,
Who may never return again

"Did you get it?"

The boy nodded eagerly, his hair, bright red, was sticking slightly to his pale and freckled face from the light rain. He wore slightly faded clothes, the dull colours also contrasting furiously with his hair. His coat was bulging peculiarly, poorly concealing the object hidden inside.

"I got it. Had to swipe it from old Mrs Wilde's window sill, but I got it."

The bulge in his coat jolted slightly as he jumped down onto the lower level of pavement where his companion waited. He withdrew the item, which now presented itself to be a small, dial in radio, and tossed it to his brother.

"Excellent." George grinned, turning it over in his fingers and settling himself down on an overturned packing crate, and crossing his legs comfortably.

They were at the docks, a great iron ship anchored firmly in the harbour, from a distance and close range it served as an intimidating shape. This had become a habit of the twins now. Every week or so they would 'borrow' a radio, go down to the docks and watch the activity there. That specific ship had been docked there for the past week.

"I wonder how Bill and Charlie are doing…they'd better be alright…" Their oldest brothers were already off fighting in the war. The only contact the family had with them was the occasional letter and even then it was always the same words. 'Missing home, love you Mum, we're alright, Charlie got shot in the arm…again…but he's fine.'

"They really get all the fun don't they?" Fred sighed, his eyes firmly fixed on the great boat before them.

George stared at him incredulously as though his twin had just sprouted a second head.
"Are you serious? You WANT to go to war?"

Fred shrugged "Kind of I guess, it would be an experience."

"One you could lose your head in!"

His twin plucked the radio back out of George's hands and leant against George's crate. Resting the radio on his knees he began to tweak the switches, his tongue protruding slightly from the corner of his lips as he did so. They sat in silence for several minutes, the crackling of the radio and the like patter of the rain serving as the only sound to interrupt that.

"Ah ha!"

"…an estimate of 308 British casualties thus far…"

Ten million mother's hearts must break
For the ones who died in vain

"Hell…that's a fair few…" George swallowed slightly, the thought of war scared him but he wasn't about to admit that. Instead he focused his attention on a crate that had just toppled over, he was quite sure he could see guns in that crate.

"Oi, you still with me?"

George snapped his head back "You say something?"

"Yeah…" Fred rolled his eyes "I said that there will be more soon enough. Casualties."

"You're not wrong, mate…you don't think-"

"Nah. Not them…definitely not. Bill and Charlie will be fine." Fred forced a smile, he wasn't nearly as sure as he pretended to be.

"Charlie's just so damn accident prone though…every letter he's got a new injury."

The rain was getting steadily heavier but it didn't bother either of the twins in the least as they lapsed into silence again, with the exception of the radio crackling quietly. Fred broke the twins' silence this time.

"Kind of a scary thought though isn't it? All those people dying because of a bloody war."

George stared at him "You literally just said that you wanted to fight."

"I've had a change of heart in the past ten minutes. What of it?"

George scoffed and rolled his eyes "Shall we go?"

Fred said nothing, but switched of the radio and, using his twin's crate to support himself, got to his feet. He didn't wait for his brother and made directly for the stone steps that led up from the docks to the cobbled streets of London.

His twin, childishly, got to his feet on top of the crate and jumped, landing a foot away from Fred.

Upon ascending the steps they walked straight for several minutes, occasionally stepping in the odd puddle. Or rather intentionally pushing one another into them.

"On a lighter note…" Fred grinned, shaking water from his shoe and promptly stepping right into another puddle. "It's our birthday next week."

"Sure is! Seventeen at last."

Head bowed down in sorrow in her lonely years,
I heard a mother murmur through her tears

"Not sure why I'm so excited really…" George mused, tilting his head sideways.

"Me neither actually, doesn't it feel like something's gonna happen next week though? No idea what or course." Fred was walking backwards now, almost slipping several times.

"I know, it really does…watch it!"

Before Fred could stop himself he had walked right into someone. Turning around he blinked, muttering an apology.

"Sorry about that, mate…"

The man, clad in pale green and brown with an odd sort of utility belt strapped around his waist, was standing in front of him. He said nothing. His face was tired and worn and he looked much older than he probably was. A mess of dark sandy hair was plastered to his forehead, no doubt from the rain. Under his arm he carried a tin hat, on which Fred could see the name 'Moony' printed in thick black letters.
As he passed by the twin, George could have sworn he heard the soldier mutter. "Poor buggers."

I didn't raise my boy to be a soldier

They waited until he was safely out of earshot before speaking.

"Did you see his face?"

"What, the scars? Yeah…looked pretty nasty didn't they?" George winced, glancing back over his shoulder for the man had prominent scars stretching across his face. Fading but every bit as visible as they had probably been when they were fresh.

Fred shook his head "No…well yes, but that's not what I meant. I mean his expression, his eyes looked really…I dunno, hard."

"Well, yeah, war would do that to you wouldn't it?" The twins may never have been to war but they were far from ignorant of what it could do.

They lapsed once again into silence; George had darted up onto the curb and was balancing precariously there.

He sighed "Quit being so glum, it ain't like you."

Fred scowled and playfully shoved his twin from his perch "I ain't bein' glum you bloody git!"

George threw back his head and laughed gleefully "There we go, that's better!"

I brought him up to be my pride and joy

"Think we should go home yet?"

"Yeah, probably." Fred blinked drops of rain from his eyelashes and continued, his pace slower. Neither of the twins making any effort to actually head in the direction of their home. He tossed the radio over in his hands and examined it.
"Do you think we could just keep it? Save us pinching another one next week."

George shrugged "Alright but if Mrs Wilde catches you I'm saying it was all your fault and I had nothing to do with this."

"You're forgetting that we're twins. I can just say that I'm you and she'll never know the difference."

George snorted and lightly punched his brother's shoulder. "Fair enough."

They walked on, passing the occasional passer-by who braved the rain, finally ducking down an alley and against the wall under the overhanging ledge of a roof.

After a minute Fred slid down the wall into a seating position, balanced the radio on his knees and began the tedious attempt of tuning it in, his tongue protruding slightly from the corner or his lips as he concentrated.

"What are you expecting to hear on that?" George looked down at him.

Who dares to put a musket on his shoulder

Fred only shrugged and grunted, a moment later voices crackled into the air.

"…ship due to depart one week from now from London. Also, due to a lack in enlistment numbers, to be enforced one week from now, a law is to be passed that all men of and over the age of seventeen are required to fight in the War. Any man failing to comply with this without an acceptable excuse will be charged a sum of two hundred and fifty pounds and be required to do his duty to his country."

The radio slipped from Fred's fingers and the blood raging in his ears drowned out all sound as it struck the stones. A spark or two flew and the radio fell lifeless. Very stiffly Fred turned to George who was slipping slowly down the wall to his level.

Neither spoke, they just stared at each other, each of their expression's mirrored on the other's face. Both sets of identical blue eyes wide and incredulous and mouths open wide.

George's heart thundered thickly in his throat before slipping right down to his feet. He physically felt his face paling. They had to go to war…one week before turning seventeen and they would have to go to war the very next week…

"What timing…" Fred said thickly "What bloody, rotten timing…"

"We have no choice do we?" George muttered, blinking quickly, trying not to cry, he didn't want to seem childish. "Our family can't afford the fine and we'd have to go anyway."

And shoot some other mother's darling boy

"We should go…" Fred sighed and stood, still in a daze, offering his twin a hand.

George ignored it and pushed himself to his feet. "Mum will want us back for dinner I suppose…"

"Oh God…do you think she knows?"

xxxXxxx

As they reached the small gate, white paint fading and peeling off in places, a girl, her hair every bit as red as her brothers', darted out of the door to meet them. She glared as first Fred and then George made their way down the path, now almost entirely overgrown with weeds.

"You two took your time! We've been waiting for you for ages, dinner's already on the tab-hey what's wrong with you?"

They said nothing and brushed past her into the house, walking almost immediately into the small kitchen to be immediately jumped upon by their mother. She was a plump woman with a generally kind face and a temper like a dragon. Like the rest of the family her hair too was red and, like her only daughter, had brown eyes that were more often than not blazing.

There'd be no war today,
If mothers all would say

"Where HAVE YOU BEEN? YOU'RE SOAKING WET!"

Fred rolled his eyes "Calm down, it's raining! It's always raining!"

"I DON'T CARE YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN BACK AN HOUR AGO!" She sighed, trying her hardest to calm down, behind her thirteen year old daughter slipped calming into her seat. Completely unperturbed by the commotion, it was entirely normal.
"And Mrs Wilde called by…says her radio was missing! I ASSUME you know something about THAT?"

George grunted and exchanged a look with his twin "Bit that for that. It's broke now."

Molly opened her mouth to shout some more before their father, a balding man who shared his sons' blue eyes, placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Molly dear, calm down, there's time for that later. Let the boys eat."

She glared at him and her husband cringed back. She whirled back to the twins, barely noticing their unusually downcast expression.
"Oh…go and dry off and hurry up about it!"

xxxXxxx

"Doesn't look like she knows, does it?" Fred sighed, tugging off his sopping shirt and tossing it aside. When his brother didn't reply he turned around. "Hey, you okay?"

George, perched on the edge of his bed and staring unseeingly at the floorboards, hurriedly wiped his eyes with the back of his hands. He didn't want to seem childish.

"Are you crying, George? You never cry…"

"I ain't crying, you tosspot…" He muttered, looking away and trying not to sniff.

"Come on, mate." Fred slowly sat down next to him "What's wrong?"

George didn't reply at first, trying desperately to keep his emotions in check but when he did his voice was wavering.
"I don't think I want to turn seventeen anymore…Fred, I don't want to go to war…"

"I know, mate…" Fred placed a hand on his brother's shoulder. "I don't either…but we'll get to see Bill and Charlie again…"

George sniffed again and ignored Fred. He got up and tugged off his own wet shirt in exchange for a dry cotton one.

"FRED! GEORGE! DINNER'S GETTING COLD! RONALD, YOU TOO!"

"Blimey…she's worse than the war…" Fred muttered, opening the door. "Coming?"

George nodded slowly "I'm fine."

xxxXxxx

"Thought we heard your dulcet tones, Mum." Fred arched his eyebrows, slipping into a seat.

"Here." She sighed, bustling around the table and pressing bowls of stew into the twins' hands.

It was a rather uneasy, almost tense silence, George still hadn't taken a seat and was standing staring down into the bowl. To the untrained eye he seemed perfectly fine. One had to be incredibly observant to see the slight tremble in George's fingers.

A smash and the bowl that had been in his hands only a second ago was lying in pieces on the floorboards of the kitchen. His siblings and parents jumped violently and his mother jolted up from the seat she had just settled into.

"George!"

He whimpered and stared at the shattered remains on the floor.

I didn't raise my boy to be a solider

His lips parted and, without really registering it, he allowed the words to slip through his lips.

"We're going to war…"

xxxXxxx

A moment later another red haired person entered the kitchen. The twins' younger brother, almost fifteen years old now, blinked at the scene.

"What did I miss?"

xxxXxxx

Well, there you have it!

So I was looking through Potter fanfiction for some good AU ones, I mean AU in the sense of an ENTIRELY different universe, NON magical. I couldn't really find ANY. So I decided to write one myself revolving around the War. I really hope you guys like it because I have so many ideas for it and I'm pretty excited about it!

Tell me what you think :)