A/N: So you're all probably sick of me right now. The story's meant to be finished, right? But I had a request for Fred's POV of chapter 17 (the Snatcher chapter) from Carkey, and I kind of fell in love with the idea, but I had nowhere else to post it, hence it ended up as yet another chapter. So yes, for anyone who's interested in the idea, here it is. I prefer the original better, but hopefully this adds something to it :) Oh right, and as always, I have to thank everyone who reviewed the epilogue chapter. I don't know if there's any point in naming everyone because I don't know if you'll read this, but Shhayy-j11, Dimcairien, TeamGredAndForge, midnightstar19, PlantyPie, SolelyReader, snitch-bewitch, chocolateMnMs, Lone Torment, ncis-lady, SlyDevil. COOKIES and Atherin, I thank you all VERY much.
Chapter 17 (Fred's POV)
Fred struggled against the hands gripping him. He had almost believed they would get away; sure they could outrun their pursuers, until two Snatchers had surprised both Fred and George by apparating directly in front of them, cutting off their path. Glancing over, he saw the Snatcher holding George pull George's head back by his hair, his eyes examining George's face.
"And what do we have here?" The Snatcher asked, and Fred felt fury rise in his stomach at the taunting tone aimed at his brother.
"Let him go!" He yelled, trying to rip his arms out of the Snatcher's grasp. The only response he received was the arms around him tightening their hold, restricting him movements further.
"Oh, are you worried we're going to hurt your brother?" The Snatcher holding him asked mockingly. The other Snatchers had caught up by now, and Fred's breath caught in his throat as he observed the five men before him, realising just how much trouble they were in. He resumed his struggles, trying to aim his wand, and the Snatcher twisted his arm roughly, causing Fred to let out an involuntary cry of pain.
"Stop it!" George yelled, and he somehow managed to manoeuvre his elbow until it connected with his captor's side. The Snatcher holding George gasped in pain but refused to let go, and so George decided to do what he did best, and sank his teeth into the Snatcher's arm wrapped around his neck. The Snatcher released him immediately with a cry, and Fred felt a thrill of both excitement and terror; excitement that George had gotten free, but terror at what the Snatcher's would do if they caught George again. He watched, speechless, as George fell to the floor.
"Expelliarmus" George gasped out as he rolled over, and one of the Snatcher's went flying back. Fred watched in horror as a second Snatcher advanced on George, and he felt a shiver of foreboding course through his body. He began struggling violently, trying to get loose, but before he could the Snatcher had kicked George sharply in the ribs and Fred was left as breathless as George looked. George immediately curled into himself, his hands grasping at his chest in pain before his original captor yanked him to his feet and once again restrained him.
Fred was seeing red by this point, struggling manically against the arms holding him, wanting to murder the men who had hurt George but also desperately needing to get his brother to safety. Realizing through his anger that the hands weren't going to give way, he instead lifted his foot and slammed it back as hard as he could into his captor's knee. It worked: there was a resounding crack and the Snatcher let out a howl of pain, his arms releasing Fred, who immediately raised his wand at the man holding George.
"Stupefy!" Fred cried out, and the Snatcher who had been restraining George went flying backwards. George stumbled forward, and Fred felt a surge of relief that was short lived as the remaining Snatchers snapped into action, racing towards the twins. Fred and George backed away before turning around and sprinting forward, both forgetting that the alley had split into a fork. In their hurry to avoid being hit by the jets of light flying at them, George ended up running into the right fork, while Fred took the left.
The instant they separated, Fred felt an overwhelming urge to go back and find George. However the constant stream of spells aimed in his direction made it impossible for him to do, and instead Fred was forced further down the alley, further away from George. His heart was pounding from a combination of adrenaline and fear, his breaths coming out in short gasps as he took a sharp left and continued running. His heart clenched in fear as he realised that George would be running with at least one cracked, if not broken rib, and he turned and sent a curse at the Snatcher's chasing him as a way to relieve himself of the anger building up inside.
Unfortunately the curse missed, and Fred found himself being chased by three men instead of two. Evidently, the Snatcher whose knee he had dislocated had managed to heal himself and catch up to the rest of the group. He seemed to have taken Fred's attack personally, judging from the sheer number of curses and hexes he sent flying at Fred. Fred was forced to duck several times, swearing as curses narrowly missed hitting him. The only thing that kept him sane, kept him on his feet, was that he could hear the vague sounds of yelling to his right. The voices were distant, but as long as he could hear them, Fred knew that George was still on his feet, still running, still alive, and it was that thought alone that forced Fred onwards, stopping the fear from consuming him.
After a particularly close call with a curse that had Fred careening into a wall to stop himself from being hit, Fred decided he had had enough. Turning around mid stride, he pointed his wand at the section of wall residing between himself and the Snatchers. The wall exploded instantly, sending bricks flying everywhere. A cloud of dust and debris fell over everyone, and Fred could barely see anymore but he still ran forward, praying he wouldn't hit a wall or any other obstacle. Behind him, he could hear coughing and the sound of three different footsteps following him, at a slower pace than before.
Just when Fred though he had a chance of outrunning them, a sharp pain struck his leg. He stumbled sideways into a wall, pausing for a moment before pushing on through the pain, barely sparing a glance at his leg despite the throbbing. Glancing back, he spotted the Snatcher who had injured him; the man had his wand raised, this time aiming at Fred's heart. Fred ducked into another alley before turning several corners, determined to lose his pursuers. It was at that moment that he was struck with the realization that he could no longer hear yelling coming from the direction George had been running. Fred stumbled to a halt, breathing hard but finding himself breathless with fear at the same time. Surely George wasn't- he couldn't be- he would have felt if something had happened to George, surely-
Fred's thoughts were interrupted as two Snatcher's rounded a corner several metres ahead, leading them to face Fred. They spotted him instantly and ran forward, both leering. Fred spun around but the three Snatchers who had been chasing him had finally made it out of the dust cloud and wreckage, and were advancing quickly. Fred swallowed, eyes flickering between the two groups, unsure what to do, his mind a clouded haze of dread and panic that they had George, that he was too late, that he had failed his twin.
And then he was struck with the realisation that all the Snatchers were with him, minus the one who had been stunned by Fred. And if they were all with him, that meant that they weren't with George. Which meant that somehow, George had managed to get away. Fred felt a rush of relief so strong it left him feeling light-headed, and he found himself stumbling backwards, away from both approaching groups. George was alive. George was- where was he?
Fred pondered this quickly as he backed up against the wall. George had been in pain, and he had been scared. And when George felt afraid, he would often retreat to comfort… to Fred. But clearly that option had been unavailable, meaning George would have gone somewhere that he felt safe. Somewhere he could associate with happy memories, but also somewhere unlikely to be discovered, because George was clever like that. And suddenly, Fred knew exactly where his brother would have gone. Closing his eyes, ignoring the Snatchers that had nearly reached him, Fred focused on his destination, and twisted into the air, leaving five very angry Snatchers behind.
He found himself surrounded by large trees and bushes. Whoops, misjudged that a bit, Fred thought as he tried to determine which direction the clearing he and George had previously visited was in. Suddenly, his head shot up as he heard a soft groan in the distance. Fred immediately headed in the direction, pushing his way through the bushes, ignoring the branches that caught on his clothes and hair because he knew that groan.
"George?" He yelled out, disregarding the fact that anyone could be nearby, that he could have placed himself in an extremely dangerous situation, because it was George that had groaned, and all Fred could think of was that he had to get to George immediately. His calls received no answer, which only increased the fear Fred was feeling. Why didn't George answer? Maybe he can't, Fred's traitorous conscience answered. Maybe he's hurt so badly that he can't even- stop it, Fred chided himself. His conscience had no chance to reply because at that moment Fred finally found his brother.
George was on his knees, his fingers stark white in contrast to the fiery red hair they were gripping. His head was bowed and Fred couldn't see his face but he could tell from George's position that he was in serious pain. Fred dropped to his knees and grabbed George's shoulders as gently as he could when considering his heart was threatening to pound through his chest with fear. He felt George flinch under his hands, and that response hurt more than Fred thought it could.
"George it's me. It's Fred," he said reassuringly, and although George didn't reply, the tension left his shoulders slightly, although his breathing was still uneven. Fred began checking George over for any physical injuries, but he couldn't see anything that could cause the pain George was in. Which only left his head.
"George, is it your head?" Fred pressed, trying to hide the waver in his voice, but George didn't say anything, didn't even seem to hear Fred, and Fred felt a thrill of terror run up his spine because George always answered him.
"George?" He asked again, hands tightening their hold on George's shoulder as he waited for George to answer. After receiving no response, Fred moved his hands to George's head, resting them beside George's own hands, which were trembling.
"George, hey, it's okay, it's alright," Fred crooned, wishing desperately that he could do something to help. And then it struck him, and how could he have been so stupid? Fred groped in his pocket for his wand, yanking it out and pressing it against George's head lightly. Concentrating, he repeated the words he had read in a book so many months before, and a soft light left his wand, circling George's head once before glowing brightly and disappearing.
The pain on George's face eased, but there was still a slight tension in the way he was kneeling, his breathing still irregular, and Fred recalled the crack he had heard when the Snatcher's foot had connected with George's ribs. Moving his wand, fighting down the fury that had risen the moment he recalled the memory, he held it over George's rib cage, and echoed the same words. Much to his relief, the tension across George's face vanished, and he let out a soft sigh as his body slumped forward, only staying upright because of Fred's grasp.
"You're okay George," Fred said comfortingly, closing his eyes for a moment in gratitude that somehow he and George had made it, that they were still alive. His eyes flickered open seconds later, fixing upon George, who still hadn't made any movements.
And although Fred desperately wanted to ask George if he was okay, he stayed quiet, eyes never moving from his brother as he waited for George to look up, to confirm that he was alright. Which he eventually did, his eyes dark and thankfully painless. And there was so much that Fred wanted to say and do in that moment; tell George that he was so glad he was alright, recount how worried he had been that George was in danger, smother George in a hug and never let go. But staring into his brother's eyes, recognising that George was still weak, he somehow pushed down his emotions and took a deep breath.
"Hey," Fred said quietly.
Thank you very much for reading, and I hope you enjoyed :)