A short one-shot from one half of that duo we all love so much.
It was exactly a week before Christmas, two hundred and thirty days since Fred Weasley had been killed. George apparated outside the back door of The Burrow and entered without knocking. He hadn't returned at all in the past week; the Christmas rush in the Joke shop had been manic and George had worked overtime every day with a little help from Ron and Ginny, but he was done for the Christmas holidays. He'd closed shop for two weeks, giving him a fortnight to spend entirely with family. Well, the family he had left.
In the time after the battle, George hadn't left his and Fred's apartment above the shop for two weeks. Every time he tried he'd get as far as the door and feel desperately lonely. After he'd finally managed to get past the doorway and open the shop, that was it: Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes became his refuge. Every little bit of energy he had, was thrown into marketing products and creating new ones, but he wouldn't let anybody help him. This went on for two months, until at last he rendered himself exhausted. When Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Harry turned up to help one morning, he was forced to oblige, and from then on, they helped out wherever September came and Ginny had to go back to school. Harry, Ron and Hermione went with her to complete their education, leaving George to hire new staff. Staff who could pass as Weasleys, of course.
Months passed and George carried on with their business, alone. Never truly alone; he had his staff and his family, but in the weeks leading up to Christmas, he'd barely had time to visit home.
"Hello," he called out as he walked into the kitchen. It was only three o'clock so there was a good chance that his parents weren't back from collecting his younger siblings from Kings Cross Station. He glanced up to the enchanted clock on the wall. All of the hands were pointed toward 'travelling', except for Charlie and Percy who were apparently at work and George, Fred and Molly who were pointed at 'home'. The first time George returned home after the battle, Fred's face pointed to 'lost', and George wondered why his wasn't in the same direction. It was only after George finally began to accept his twin's death that Fred's pointer began to move again; it started following George.
"Mum, where are you?" George called out again, but he needn't have bothered, as Molly Weasley appeared from the living room, clutching a green jumper with the knitting needles still attached, her eyes red with tears.
"Mum," he sighed, running forward to pull her into a hug. "What's wrong?"
Molly said nothing. She clung onto her son for dear life, squeezing him so tightly it almost hurt, but of course George didn't say anything. They stayed there like that, Molly sobbing into her son's shoulder, gripping onto him, and George returned her actions, squeezing her like he would as a child after a nightmare.
Eventually her sobs slowed to just tears, and she found herself able to speak.
"I was knitting your jumpers," she said in a quiet, shaky voice. "I didn't even realise... Until..." She took a step back and opened out the green jumper, showing the bold yellow F in the centre.
George hugged her again. "Oh, Mum..."
"And now I don't know what to do with it, see? I don't want to unravel it, but of course nobody will wear it, I'm being silly-"
"You're not," George insisted, his eyes filling with tears. "Don't unravel it. Finish it."
Molly shook her head. "I don't think I can..."
"Please? We'll give it to him, still. Put it on his grave. He'd like that, you know. He wouldn't want to be left out of the tradition."
Molly cracked a small smile. "Maybe you're right."
There was a moments silence as both mother and son took a minute to wipe away their tears.
"I suppose I'd better get back to work then," she smiled genuinely. "These jumpers aren't going to knit themselves. There are three more this year with Harry and Hermione and Fleur, and you know the post's slower now-a-days so I'll have to send Charlie's off sooner than usual." She was beginning to ramble, but then she stopped. "Am I wasting my time? You never wear them after Christmas anyway."
"That's because it's warm after Christmas, mum," he smiled. "Plus it wouldn't be Christmas without your jumpers."
Molly smiled warmly. "I'm being silly, aren't I?"
George smiled back at her and nodded. "D'you want any help?"
"Don't be silly, George, you don't know how to knit. Thank you for offering though."
George rolled his eyes. "Honestly, you don't think I'm capable of anything."
"Everyone settle down," Arthur commanded, although he himself was grinning like fool, giddy with excitement over Christmas. "Now, does everybody have their last present?" There was a chorus of confirmations, and a rustle of wrapping paper as everybody gripped their similarly shaped bundles tightly, every one of them knowing exactly what was inside.
"Right then, on the count of three. One, two, three, open!"
A crescendo of ripping and rustling of paper erupted as nine pairs of eager hands ripped through to their usual Christmas jumpers from Molly, each with their initials on the front.
"Thanks Mum!" Ron called out, holding up once again a maroon jumper, as did Percy, Harry and Ginny.
"Yeah, thanks Mrs Weasley," Harry exclaimed, causing the rest of the room to follow in their thanks. Molly's smile grew.
"Right, now, there's one last thing we have to do," insisted George, instantly pulling them out of their festive musings.
All eyes fell on him as he walked to the tree and rooted underneath it until he pulled out one last package.
Ron's face screwed up in confusion. "What's that?"
George didn't reply, but instead ripped off the paper to reveal the last Christmas jumper, which he'd knitted one line of.
"We need to go and give Fred his jumper," he said quietly.
That instant, a blanket of understanding and sorrow coated the room.
Everyone got to their feet in silence, and pulled on new jumpers, coats and boots without hesitation. There wasn't one person that didn't feel the pain, however no one felt the pain as much as George. He mourned not just a son or a brother or a friend, but his twin. The best friend he'd ever have.
Snow glazed the graveyard, not too deep, but deep enough that in better circumstances, George would have made a snowball to throw at someone. Brightly coloured flowers and reefs adorned most of the graves. The family paused as they passed by the grave of Remus and Tonks, the headstone of which was shaped like a book, with a multi-coloured gem set near the top, and was covered in many bunches of flowers and Christmas reefs.
Fred's grave was simple; a regular shaped headstone, with two overlapping W's engraved into the top. However, the headstone itself and the space around it was full so densely of flowers and presents, that it was overflowing a little into the grave to the right, which looked like it hadn't been tended to in years. The abundance of colours was a shock to the eye at first, but it all made George smile.
He and his brother had made such an impact on people's lives, he'd read every card on every gift left for Fred, and he'd never heard of half of them, but they'd heard of him. They knew who Fred was and they loved him enough to leave him a present at Christmas.
George hugged Fred's jumper tightly before he placed it neatly at the base of the headstone. His family and extended family stood behind him in silence, his mother and father closest to him, each with a hand on his shoulder and a hand holding the other's.
"Merry Christmas, Freddie," George smiled.
Please review! :) xx
Merry Christmas everyone! xx