Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the property of JK Rowling
A/N Just a little something that came to me after watching Deathly Hallows Part II last night. Just a note to my readers who are following Rise of the Phoenix - I just finished NaNoWriMo over the weekend, so I haven't had a chance to work on updates for a while. I will be starting work on that again soon.
Enjoy this though - I know it has probably been done a million times, but you know, I had to make it a million and one. ; )
An Eternity of Tears
It was almost as if he were floating, yet he could feel a solid surface under his cheek, neither cold nor warm - it just was.
He just was as well, neither cold nor warm, almost as if he had no senses. No scent reached his nose, no sound reached his ears, just the slightest sensation that told him he was lying on something flat.
It occurred to him then that maybe he should be afraid. This was odd, something he had never experienced before and as a human being he was supposed to be afraid of the unknown. At the very least, he was supposed to feel some sort of caution, he was supposed to feel something- anything-wasn't he? The only thing that alarmed him was the fact that he wasn't alarmed.
Maybe - perhaps, it would help if he opened his eyes.
And so he opened them, slowly becoming aware of his surroundings, and yet - there was nothing to see. Nothing but white. It was as if he was standing in white puffy clouds, the sort that he had always imagined would be billowy soft to the touch, like cotton- though he knew clouds were nothing but water.
He sat up slowly, realizing as he did that he was naked. Strange, he had never had a problem with nudity in the past, yet here - in this place- he felt vulnerable and exposed and he wished he had robes. He looked around himself, down near his feet was a pile of white cloth that he hadn't noticed before. He picked it up and pulled it on, then fastened the clasps to secure it.
He pushed himself to his feet and took in his surroundings. Everything was ghostly white, surrounding him were pale walls covered in box-filled shelves that were faintly familiar. It looked a bit like his shop back in Diagon Alley, though he couldn't really be sure.
"Where am I?" He asked softly, his voice echoing in his ears, almost as if he were speaking inside his mind rather than verbally.
The voice came as a disjointed echo, as if it too came from inside him. "You don't know?"
He spun around, his eyes searching wildly, for the voice was achingly familiar. Like his own, but not quite. "Fred?"
From the mist a figure began to take form, a shock of bright red hair, hands - feet, and then a face - the most wonderful face he had ever seen.
"Fred!" He ran forward to embrace, his arms tight, his face buried against his brothers neck while tears poured down his face.
"George," Fred's grip was equally as tight. As much as he hated that George had followed him here, he couldn't deny that a selfish part of him - the tiny human part that still lingered - was happy for this chance to see him. In just the few hours they had been apart, he had missed him terribly.
"Fred, they told me…I saw you…" George trembled in his brothers arms, his hands clenched tightly in the robes at his back. "I thought you were dead!"
A swift and terrible jolt of pain shot through him. He had been trying so hard to come to grips with it, despite the help he had gotten from the others, having to leave his family - having to leave George - was nearly unbearable. To be called back to this place made it even worse. But he had had to come. He was the only one who could do what needed to be done.
"I am dead Georgie." Very gently he pulled away, forcing George to look at him - to really look at him. For the first time, George noticed the difference. Fred was paler now, his skin unwrinkled and smooth. Scars that had lingered after their bout with dragon pox were gone, the scar where he had fallen off the old tree behind the Burrow was gone from his chin. It was as if his body had somehow become perfect, unmarred by ever having been … alive.
"I don't understand." He stumbled back, trying to take it all in. If Fred had died, if he really was dead, then…
"If you're dead, then how is it I am seeing you? Why are we together?"
Fred straightened his back, a mixture of emotions flickering in his eyes. Sadness, anger and fear, all joined together, and being directed at him.
"You don't remember, do you?" Of course he didn't, he didn't remember how he had died either.
A feeling George didn't like clenched in his stomach, he didn't remember - but he suspected. "No, I … I don't remember."
"Then let me show you."
Fred raised an arm and for the first time George realized he was holding a wand. He waved it, yet he said no words. A large pool appeared before them, like a massive pensieve. Inside it, a hazy silver mist swirled, then Fred waved the wand again and Hogwarts appeared…
He woke with a start in Gryffindor tower, Fred's face still alive behind his eyes, so cold - so covered in blood. The ache came again, bringing with it the tears and soul shattering grief. He looked across the room, at the bed where his brother had slept for seven years, then rose and caressed the curtain covered wooden planks before turning for the door.
The castle was dark, everyone sleeping. Tomorrow, he knew, they would all be leaving. They would take Fred home and then they would bury him in the cold lonely ground. Tomorrow they would be separated, but he could be with him tonight. So he went to the cool potions dungeons where the bodies had been prepared for burial - Fred was the only one who remained.
He pulled a chair up the table where Fred lay, then pulled the sheet back, picked up his hand and held it to his cheek. He looked a little better now, the dirt and blood had been cleaned away, the horrible bruises removed by magic. But nothing could make his eyes open again, nothing could bring back his smile - not even the ghost smile that Percy had said lingered after his death.
The pain came, he lay his cheek on Fred's chest and let the sobs come, his body shaking violently. He quieted for a moment, thinking he heard someone in the hall. He didn't much care about being seen anymore, so he waited for the door to open - it never did.
He thought again about the funeral. Tomorrow, they would put his brother in his best robes, they would put him in a box and they would cry while they lowered him into the ground. They would be separated - Fred and George Weasley who were never seen one without the other - would be apart. It was wrong, it was unfair -
It wasn't to be allowed.
He sat up, looking about the room. In the corner, by Professor Slughorns desk, was a shelf containing small bottles - bottles that he knew contained various poisons.
He could end this, he could end it all now. The pain, the suffering, he could…he could be with Fred, they need never be separated.
He rose from the chair, crossing to the shelf, then picked up the largest bottle and returned to Fred's side. He pulled the stopper, then bent and kissed Fred's forehead before raising the bottle to his lips and draining it.
"I drank the poison." George said "I remember now."
"Yes," Fred looked at him angrily, his eyes full of censure and disgust. "You did."
"I did it to be with you," He said, his tone defensive. Couldn't he see, didn't he understand? "I did it so we could stay together!"
"You did it because you are selfish!" Fred's face was inches from his, his pale brown eyes glaring hatefully into his brothers. "You didn't want to be sad anymore, well boo-hoo, poor little Georgie! You think you're the only one sad? You think you are the only one hurting? Can't you hear them; don't you see them?"
He pointed the wand at the pensieve again and the quiet was filled with the sound of sobbing. "Look!"
Nervously, George stepped to the edge again and looked over the rim. There were many faces now - a man and a woman, a boy he vaguely knew at their side. He remembered the boy's brother was fond of taking pictures. A woman held a baby boy with bright pink hair while she sat at table which held two photographs - one of her husband, the second of daughter and her husband - the boys parents.
A girl with curly blond hair lay in a hospital bed in an overcrowded ward, her face and body bandaged from head to toe. He saw Harry, sitting quietly alone while he held an empty flask that had once held memories. Then - he saw his own family, gathered together, their faces white and tear streaked while his mother sobbed in his fathers arms.
George turned away, but the sound of the crying didn't stop. It went on around him, painful proof that he hadn't been suffering alone, that perhaps Fred was right - he had been selfish. But it didn't change anything, not really, not now that the deed was done.
"I'm not done with you yet." Fred took his arm and spun him around to face the pensieve again.
The crying became louder, so loud that George had to cover his ears. It echoed off the walls and reverberated inside him until he felt like he might be sick, he fell to his knees - his face hung over the side of the pensieve. In it, he saw his mother on the ground in a cemetery, her face in her hands while she screamed out in grief. His father and bothers knelt next to her, trying to urge her to her feet. To the side, Ginny stood, her face horrified, streaming with tears - Ron and Hermione next to her, Harry stood away from them all, his face turned away in shame, his expression saying what his mouth did not. "My fault - all my fault."
George turned away, if he could have, he would have vomited. "Your funeral…"
"Ours." Fred corrected, kneeling in front of him, his face full of hatred "You did this to them George. When I died they were able to accept it because my death had a purpose, I died fighting for something. You died for nothing."
He stood, his eyes not wavering, the expression shifting between hate and sadness. "Don't you know George what I would give to be able to go back, to have what you had? A future - a chance to marry, to have children and grow old with someone special by your side. I would give anything to have that. You had it and you tossed it away - like it was nothing - like it meant nothing. I died so you could have all that, and you made my sacrifice worthless."
George looked up at him, aghast, sickened that he could even think such a thing. How could he ever think his sacrifice was worthless?
He put out his hand, his face sad now, his eyes pleading. "There is one more thing you need to see."
George accepted the hand and as he did, the many sobs around him went dim. Now, he heard one person - a single person sobbing. But this wasn't surrounding him - it was inside him - inside his heart.
"I don't under…" He started to gag, a horrible choking like someone shoving something down his throat. He looked at Fred questioningly.
"She's trying to save you." He motioned to the pensieve and George looked over again. In the mist, he saw himself on the floor of the potions dungeon, his face covered in foamy bile that bubbled from his mouth. A girl knelt over him, his head in her lap while she poked her finger deep into his throat.
"Breathe," She pleaded softly while tears fell down her face "Please George, please breathe!"
She let her forehead rest against his, her fingers splayed over his cheek while she rocked back and forth and sobbed.
George looked at Fred questioningly.
"She saw you on the stairs and followed you. She felt she was being intrusive so she let you be, but she couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong and she went back and found you on the floor. You were seizing," He nodded to the pensive, "She's just put a bezoar down your throat, hoping she found you in time."
He looked away from Fred again, watching the girl through the mist of the pensieve. Seeing her like that-crying over his body- reminded him of his mother crying over Fred's and it filled him with a new pain. Pain built on a foundation of selfishness - of knowing that you had brought pain on someone else. He felt a sharp jerk in the center of his stomach and he looked at Fred again.
"It's the bezoar." Fred explained "It's trying to work."
George nodded, thinking about how sad he would be to leave Fred again if the bezoar worked. The idea of living without him, spending the rest of his life apart from him, it made the pain return.
"What if I don't want to go back?" He asked "What if I want to stay with you?"
Fred looked at him angrily for a moment, then his face relaxed again. Could he really blame him when he knew he would have battled the same feelings if the situations had been reversed?
"Then you can stay." He shrugged "But you should know, in staying you will live for an eternity in tears."
George looked at him, confused.
"The crying - you will hear it for as long as they do. As long as they mourn you, their crying will haunt you, even here."
He nodded to the pensieve, the girl brushed her fingers through his hair, her head on his chest now while she pleaded with him to come back.
"She blames herself you know. She thinks that if she hadn't left you to yourself you wouldn't have drank the poison, and it's the truth. She will carry the guilt with her for the rest of her life. She will never stop crying for you, you will never stop hearing her." Fred looked at the girl sadly and a single tear slipped down his cheek. "Have you noticed that you hear her differently than the others?"
"Yeah, I…" He felt the jerk again, stronger this time. Was it a sign? Was he doubting what he wanted? Did he really want to go back? "It's like it's in my heart."
"In your soul too." Fred smiled, his eyes still on the girl "It's because she loves you. She has for a long time, but she is afraid to tell you. If you're feeling her there it means that you will love her too, even though you don't know it yet."
"I don't under…" He gasped, feeling the jerk again, even stronger this time.
"She could be a sister - in - law, a best friend, a lover, your future wife." Fred shrugged "Love has many faces. The only thing for certain is that if you go back, one day, you will love her very much."
He felt the jerk again, strong enough to pull him backwards several inches. He looked at Fred in alarm - had his heart already decided?. His mind, his senses - they longed to stay, they wanted just a moment more, and another after that. "Fred - I don't want to …"
And yet, he felt the jerk again.
"I think you do." Fred smiled, George had already started to fade. "It will be hard, it is for me too, but I'll be watching out for you. Her too -" He jerked his head towards the fountain where her image was starting to fade as well. "I owe her a debt of gratitude for saving you."
He knew it was right, it wasn't his time to be here. Not now, not yet.
"We'll be together again someday?" He asked
"Yes George, we will. And instead of the tears you would have if you stayed now," Fred smiled "We will spend eternity laughing."
George smiled. An eternity of laughter - it seemed fitting for Fred and George Weasley. So much more than an eternity of tears.
"Love you Fred," He reached out, his arms barely able to grasp his brother - they embraced for only a moment, just before Fred became mist, but his voice echoed one final time…
"Love you George."
He was cold, so cold he thought he might shiver into pieces, and yet there was warmth above him. The sound of soft sobs echoed off the stone walls and he remembered the girl, the girl he had seen weeping in the pensieve.
"George," She whispered, her gentle fingers brushed over his cheek, wiping the disgusting foam away. "You can't do this. Please, please come back."
He tried to raise his hand, to give her some sign that he was alive. He was so weak, his body felt leaden and exhausted, it felt like it was a Herculean effort to raise his hand to her arm.
"Luna," His whisper was faint and hoarse, his throat felt as if someone had poured tar down it.
"George?" Her voice was soft, almost afraid that she was dreaming. It had been so long since she had put the bezoar down his throat, over a minute since she had felt a pulse. She sat up and put her fingers to his neck - it was there, weak and thready, but it was there. "Oh George - thank Merlin."
"No," he croaked with a faint shake of head. It felt like it weighed a ton. "Thank you."
She smiled and lay his head on the floor, then pulled off her sweater and put it over him. "I need to fetch Madam Pomfrey, I'll be right back, okay?"
He nodded, watching silently while she ran from the room. There was going to be hell to pay when his family found out what he had done, Ginny would probably hit him, maybe even his mum too. It would be a long time before any of them let him out of their sight, they might even put him in St. Mungo's for a spell. He was okay with that. Maybe he needed someone to talk to about all of this, someone to help him come to peace with his feelings over losing Fred. But he got it now -he didn't have to go it alone anymore - he'd never had to in the first place.
And Luna - she would be by his side. He looked forward to that, though he barely knew anything about her. She was a promise; a promise of friendship, a promise of love - it didn't matter which. Luna was a promise for the future - she was hope.
George lay quietly, waiting for the sound of footsteps on the stone stairs. He rolled his head to the side, seeing the overturned chair and the empty bottle of poison on the floor next to him. A shudder went through him as he thought of how close he had come to tossing it all away.
He looked up, seeing the sheet that covered Fred's body. The painful ache came once again and his eyes filled with tears while he thought of Fred's words - all the things he had lost and would have given anything to have back. A chance to marry, to have children and grow old with someone special by his side. He couldn't give Fred his life back -but he could live enough for both of them. He would live enough for both of them.
A faint sound came to him from the top of the stairs and he tensed, afraid for the returning sound of tears. They were foot steps, many foot steps. Luna had returned with Madam Pomfrey.
"It's going to be okay George," Luna knelt down next to him, then took his hand and smiled brightly "Madam Pomfrey is going to take you to the Hospital Wing now. She has potions that will help you get better, Professor McGonagall has gone to wake your family."
She started to let his hand go, then began to move away to give Madam Pomfrey room to work, instead, George gripped her hand tightly, refusing to let her go.
"Stay with me," He whispered "Please?"
She looked at Madam Pomfrey, who nodded in return, giving permission. Luna took his hand in hers again.
"I'll stay as long as you want me to."
He squeezed her hand, warmed by the smile on her face - it was beautiful, like sunshine, so much nicer than her tears. He hoped he would never see her cry again, and more than anything else, he hoped that his heart would remain as it was at that moment.
Reviews are, as always, appreciated.