A/N: Right, yet another Fred and George story. Those two just won't leave me alone. I don't know if this has been done yet- probably has, but I was just thinking about ears (in terms of George losing one, I do NOT randomly think about ears in my spare time), and I started wondering how there were no side effects when George lost his. So I did some research, and came up with…. this. I don't really know if it's AU, because while it's not mentioned in the book, it could have happened and we just wouldn't know. So yeah. I hope you guys enjoy it, and please review!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything in this story (except the plot). But if I did….the things I could do…
Look Beyond What You See
In the days following the Battle over Little Whinging, George found that he- or to be more precise, his ear- was a constant source of concern for his family.
The day after the attack, he could feel everyone's gaze flicker to the hole in his head as he sat down at the table. George could handle the glances at first, but after several days it was beginning to frustrate him to no end. There were several times where he had been on the verge of snapping, but a warning look from Fred had kept his mouth shut.
Fred, who had been a constant source of support to George since he had lost his ear. Fred had kept the jokes going in front of their family, to the point where any mention of the words 'ear', 'saint' or 'holey' would cause a loud collective groan from all the occupants of the Burrow, whether it was intended as a pun or not. However when they were alone Fred would drop the act, becoming the person George could complain to and provide comfort when George woke up in the middle of the night in pain.
It was during the wedding reception when George first realised that there was more to his ear injury than just the physical damage. He and Fred had been outside flirting with two of Fleur's stunning Veela cousins when they had all seen a bright light rapidly approaching.
"What is that?" Fred asked, squinting.
"It kind of looks like…" George's voice trailed off as they both realised the light was in the shape of a lynx.
"…a patronus," Fred finished, and with a quick glance at each other they took off, sprinting back towards the tent, leaving Fleur's cousins behind. Panting, they arrived just in time to hear Kingsley's deep voice echo from the middle of the dance floor, where his patronus had presumably landed.
"The ministry has fallen. Scrimgeour is dead. They are coming."
There was a pause for a few seconds as the entire crowd fell silent, trying to accommodate this new knowledge. Then, a scream pierced the air and all of a sudden there was mass chaos as everyone began to panic, running for the exits. Fred and George both pulled their wands out and ran into the crowd, trying to find members of their immediate family. George had just spotted Bill and was about to head over when Fred grabbed his arm.
"George!" He yelled, and it was only then that George noticed the cloaked and masked figures making their way to the crowd, their wands raised warningly. He heard several people cast protective spells nearby, and his grip tightened on his wand as he prepared to cast his own.
"Protego!" He yelled, hearing Fred do the same beside him. George watched as several spells aimed at them were reflected back to the death eaters. Around them, he could hear people disapperating rapidly, plates and glassware shattering from stray spells. One side of the canopy had caught fire and the guests were frantically running away from it; however he and Fred maintained their positions, determined to protect their family.
All of a sudden, George felt the world begin to spin. He looked around anxiously, trying to find an explanation, but was unable to get a grasp on his moving surroundings. The tables, chairs, people all merged into one swirling mass, and George reached out desperately, searching for something to grip onto but all his hand could sense was air. Around him, he could hear voices and sounds, but they were strangely muffled, as though something was covering his ears. His breathing quickened as he felt his vision began to darken, and he felt a sense of nausea begin to grow in his stomach, threatening to overtake him.
In the midst of his confusion he suddenly felt a pair of hands grip his sides, wrapping around him, holding him steady, keeping him upright as his knees threatened to buckle. George clung to the person's shoulders, his vision still spinning.
"George? George?" The person was saying urgently, and George would have smiled if he wasn't feeling so dizzy. Fred. Of course it was Fred. It would always be Fred.
George maintained his weak grip on Fred's shoulders, his head bowed as he struggled to breathe through the darkness threatening to surround him. His stomach lurched as both he and Fred suddenly dropped to the ground; George's first thought was that his knees had finally given way, but as Fred pushed him behind a table he realised Fred was trying to protect them from the spells still being cast.
"Stupefy!" He heard Fred yell before he turned back to George, swearing as a stray jet of red light barely missed them. "George, what is it?" He asked urgently. George swallowed, attempting to fight back the nausea. His vision was slowly returning to normal, although objects continued to swim in and out of focus.
"My- my head," he managed to get out.
"Hey. Hey, look at me George," Fred commanded, tightening his grip on George, and George wearily focused his attention on his twin. To his utter relief, Fred's head was completely stable and in focus, the only steady thing in George's vision. Beyond Fred, he could see the blurred figures of people shouting, but George could barely hear what they were saying.
"Fred-" But George was cut off as another bought of nausea hit.
"Just keep looking at me George," Fred encouraged, although his own eyes were frantically darting around them. George reluctantly kept his eyes open and focused on his twin, and after several minutes he found that his surroundings had stopped spinning, the nausea slowly diminishing.
"How did you..?" George asked as he struggled to rise to his feet.
"Never mind that, we need to get out of here," Fred said as he hauled George to his feet whilst looking for their family.
"Fred! George!" Molly came running up to the twins, looking hassled. Beyond her they could see Charlie and Ginny struggling to put out the flames that were enveloping the canopy.
"Are you okay? I thought I saw one of you get hit by a spell…" she glanced at both of them, looking for injuries.
"We're fine mum," Fred reassured her.
"You two need to go to your flat. There's nothing else you can do here," Molly said immediately.
"What? No, we want to help-" George began but Molly shook her head.
"No, you'll be safer there."
George looked to Fred, expecting him to join in the protest, but to his complete shock Fred was nodding in agreement.
"No! Fred, we can't just- Fred!"George yelled, trying to get his brother's attention, but Fred just hugged their mother before grabbing George's hand tightly.
"I'm sorry about this, George," he said, and George was about to open his mouth to ask why when he felt Fred turn on the spot and the darkness was pressing against him again, but this time it was physical, it almost felt as though the universe was trying to mould him into something else. He had no sense of time or direction, and it was a relief when he felt a firm floor beneath his feet again. Until he felt the dizziness return with double the force.
"Ohh…" George let out an involuntary moan as he stumbled backwards, his vision once again reduced to swirls of colour and objects. He felt two hands on his shoulders, guiding him towards what turned out to be a bed. George sat down heavily on the soft mattress, his hands gripping the bedspread tightly in a vain attempt to keep himself centred and conscious. He felt someone squat on the floor before him and looked up from the bedspread to see an out-of-focus Fred staring back at him.
"Breathe, George," the unfocused Fred told him, and it was only then that George realised his heart was racing, his breathing ragged.
"I'm sorry. I know side-along apparition probably made it worse, but I had to get you out of there and you were in no condition to apparate on your own," Fred said regretfully, still sliding in and out of focus.
"Wh-why?" George asked as soon as he had his breathing under control. Fred winced slightly at the accusing tone.
"George, you collapsed in the middle of the fight-" Fred tried to explain, but George wasn't in the mood to hear Fred's reasoning.
"We just left our family back there!" He half yelled, beginning to rise from the bed before thinking twice and staying seated as his vision spun again. "They could be getting tortured or killed for all we know, and you just apparated us away!"
"I didn't have a choice! You heard mum, there was nothing else we could do! They would have just pulled us in for questioning with everyone else!"
"Then we should have stayed and been questioned with everyone else! That's what families do!"
"You just collapsed George! Do you have any idea how bloody worried I was? You could have been hit, you could have died you stupid git!" Fred exploded as he rose to his feet. "So don't you dare lecture me on what families do, George. You think I don't know what could be happening to everyone else right now?"
Fred's cheeks were flushed in anger, and it was only then that George realised how scared Fred was.
"I'm…. I'm sorry Fred, I didn't mean it like that. God, I'm just- anything could be happening to them right now and we're just stuck here waiting." George sighed as he rubbed his eyes wearily, glad his vision had returned to normal again. He felt the bed shift as Fred sat next to him silently.
"Why did I collapse?" George eventually burst out bitterly. "It's never happened before, why did it have to happen now of all times?"
"About that. I umm… I have a theory," Fred said hesitantly. George turned to him with raised eyebrows.
"I was talking to Hermione before, about your ear. And she was saying that she was surprised you weren't displaying any symptoms of dizziness or nausea because apparently the ear has an important role in our sense of balance or something like that."
George was silent for a moment, his hand unconsciously rising to feel the side of his head where his ear had been.
"You think all this… was caused by my missing ear?" He asked eventually.
"Well, it would explain why you collapsed at the reception. You've never done that before. Maybe it was because of all the noise and chaos and everything," Fred said, shrugging. George was quiet, lost in his thoughts.
"Well, I have been feeling a bit dizzy lately, but I thought that was just because of the blood loss," he finally spoke, frowning.
"Maybe it was something more than that. We don't know what other damage the curse causes. Maybe when it hit your ear, it also disrupted something in your head," Fred suggested.
"Oh great," George sighed, lying back on the bed. "Not only am I missing an ear, now there's a chance something's wrong with my brain. Bloody brilliant."
"Hey, there's nothing wrong with your brain,' Fred said firmly as he stood up. "You're perfectly fine; we just have to find something to stop the dizziness. And preferably the fainting. You're bloody heavy, George."
"Oi, I didn't faint," George said indignantly, sitting up. "And I weigh the same as you!"
"Or really? So what would you call your little swoon then?" Fred asked, brows raised, arms folded in front of his chest.
"I was just… I was… oh shove off," George said grumpily as Fred burst out laughing.
"So what are we going to do?" Fred asked when he finally stopped chuckling.
"What can we do?" George asked grumpily, arms crossed.
"Maybe we can go to St Mungo's?" Fred proposed.
"Is it safe? I mean, you heard Kingsley's patronus. The ministry's fallen. What's to say St Mungo's isn't in death eater hands too?"
Fred considered this, frowning.
"Well maybe we can ask dad."
"We'll have to wait until we get an all clear from someone though," George added, glancing at his watch. Fred sat down heavily on his own bed, propping his back against the headboard.
"Do you think they're all okay?" He asked.
"I don't know. I suppose Ron went off with Harry and Hermione on whatever quest they have. The others…" George's voice trailed off.
"Well come on," Fred said, rising from his bed.
"Where are we going?" George asked cautiously.
"Kitchen. You nearly fainted George, if mum finds out I didn't force feed you to get your energy levels back, we'll both get an earful."
"Well I'd love to 'ear that," George asked, lip twitching.
"That's the spirit!" Fred said with a wink.
George caught Fred's eye and the two burst out laughing as they headed downstairs.
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