Just a one-shot I wrote while in a rather strange mood a couple days ago. I always wondered what happened to George after the war, but everyone who's anyone (and even a few nobodies) has written a story like this, so I waited until I found what I hope is a unique way to present this.

If you are here because I am on your author alert list for Never Leave You, I'm really sorry. I have AWFUL writers block on it right now, so I probably won't update for some time.

As always, a shout out to my wonderful BETA LilMissCaprice who got this back to me in under three hours. Love ya girl!

Anyways, I hope you enjoy!

This day could not get any worse.

Not only did I get dragged to Diagon Alley by my mother for school supply shopping during the Easter Holidays, no less, but my stupid sister is being simply unbearable. Honestly, if underage magic was legal…

And to top it all off, mum had to bring her idiot of a new boyfriend along so that we could have some "family bonding time". I don't know why she bothers, really. That man still can't tell Hailey and I apart, and it's been six months!

It just really annoys me, especially when he just waves it off as if it doesn't matter. Just because we're twins doesn't mean that we aren't two separate people with two separate identities! There's Hailey (twelve minutes older, with a more pointed nose, a natural affinity for Transfiguration, and an obsession with anything that tastes like peppermint) and there's Kayla (me, with thinner eyebrows, a knack for potions that most Slytherins would envy, and a slightly abnormal love of peanut butter ice cream). These are not interchangeable. Peppermint makes me feel ill, and Hailey could blow up a cauldron just by looking at it the wrong way… Not to mention the personality differences! Hailey is much more calm than me, more level header and logical. I'm fiery, I blow up at the slightest provocation and I don't tend to think things through very well. We are so blatantly different that, I don't understand how he doesn't see it.

Currently, we are sitting in Fortescue's ice cream parlour for a quick snack before we head home. That man is paying, which almost made me refuse to buy anything at all out of spite, but the temptation of the greatest peanut butter ice cream I've ever eaten is too strong to resist.

My sister and mother are deep in conversation about the human transfiguration guide they purchased (with the money I was promised for more powdered unicorn horn and dragon scales, I might add…) and there's no way in hell I'm talking to that man unless I have to, so I tune them out and begin to people watch.

I don't spot anyone interesting for quite a while and I am about to give up and find something else to do when he catches my eye.

A young red-haired an has just taken a seat at the table next to ours. He is wearing the most outrageous lime green suit that I have ever seen, which totally clashes with his hair, and he looks completely at ease leaning back in his chair, casually observing his surroundings.

And yet… something about him appears to be slightly off. At first I think it is the fact that he is missing one of his ears (perhaps it was an injury from the War, which ended three years ago) but then I realise that it's something that runs a little bit deeper than that. It's the way his grin doesn't quite seem to reach his eyes when he places his order with the waitress, the sad little half-smile playing on his lips while he is staring off into space, the wistful expression that appears on his face when he glances our way.

Perhaps he lost his family in the War, the same way that he must have lost his ear?

My ponderings on the flame haired man are rudely interrupted by Hailey's voice.

"…don't you think so, Kayla?"

I blink.

"Sorry, what?"

Hailey puts on a pout. "You never listen to me, Kayla. What were you thinking about that was so much more interesting than Ulrich's Law of Human to Non-Living Transfiguration?"

"I was people watching."

I make it clear in my tone that I do not want to be talked to right now, and Hailey backs down.

My mother, unfortunately, does not understand my silent cues nearly as well as Hailey does, and in her strict, parental tone she says to me, "Are you still angry about the powdered unicorn horn? Honestly Kayla, you should be more considerate of your sister's feelings! This book was very important to her. And, let's be frank here, Transfiguration opens so many more doors for you than potio making ever will, you should really pay more attention to it like you sister does."

That's it.

I cannot take anymore of this 'your interests aren't as important as your sister's, your sister's happiness comes before yours, your sister is a much better daughter than you are' CRAP!

I snap.

"SHUT UP! STOP YOUR GOING ON ABOUT HOW MUCH BETTER TRANSFIGURATION IS THAN POTIONS, BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT! I'VE HAD ENOUGH OF YOUR STUPID HAILEY THIS AND HAILEY THAT. WE ARE TWO SEPARATE INDIVIDUALS SO STOP COMPARING US!"

I'm completely out of control now and I know it, as I turn to face that man to finally give him the tongue-lashing he thoroughly deserves. But… it's not nearly as satisfying as I thought it would be.

"AS FOR YOU, YOU REALLY NEED TO LEARN TO TELL US APART. TWO PEOPLE, TWO NAMES, TWO INDIVIDUALS, GOT IT? THEY ARE NOT INTERCHANGABLE AND IT DOES MATTER WHO YOU CALL WHAT NAME. SO STOP YOUR STUPID HAND WAVING AND GET IT RIGHT!"

I turn to Hailey last. She has done nothing wrong, but I feel inexplicable burning hot rage towards her in this moment, so I scream to the world;

"AND YOU, MISS HIGH-AND-MIGHTY! YOU'RE NO BETTER THAN ME!" I falter before yelling out, "I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU AND I WISH YOU WERE DEAD!"

I stand there for a moment (when had I stood up again?) and then I run.

I run and I don't stop until I stand behind the apothecary. I then slide to the ground, rest my head on my knees and sob.

What feels like an eternity later, I hear a voice above me.

"Are you alright?"

I look up to see the red headed man from the shop staring down at me. His startling blue eyes are full of concern, a tiny bit of amusement, an undercurrent of mischief, and underneath all that, a layer of pain and sadness so intense that it takes my breath away.

"Are you alright?" he asks again, and I nod my head slightly.

For a brief time silence falls, and he slides to the ground next to me.

"I couldn't help but overhear your- ah- dispute back at Fortescues…"

I groan and drop my head back to my knees. I was seriously beginning to regret my loss of control back there.

He chuckles softly at my obvious embarrassment and continues to speak as if there has been no interruption.

"And, well, I was wondering if you really meant what you said."

"Which part?" I moan into my knees, hoping to the Good Lord above that he doesn't intend to lecture me on my lack of respect towards my elders.

"The bit where you said you hated your sister."

"Yes, I did."

"Why?"

I feel another stirring of anger deep in my stomach as I remember why those words ever left my mouth. Stupid Hailey… Why did everyone seem to think that she was better then me? She was always the mature one, the one good student, who got better grades and, according to my mother, was the only one who truly belonged in Ravenclaw House. It makes me sick. She has absolutely nothing that I don't, we're bloody identical for God's sake, so why did everyone seem to think she was better than me?

And, on top of that, I'm tiered of being mistaken for her, tiered of being called by her name. There's Kayla and there's Hailey. We are two separate people. Kayla, and Hailey. Not HaileyandKayla. Two people, two names, two identities. Just because we're twins doesn't mean that we're the same. Why does everyone find that so difficult to grasp?

But how would this stranger know all this? He wouldn't, and I don't feel like explaining, so instead I say, "You wouldn't understand."

He raises his eyebrows. "Try me."

I snort. "Unless you're a twin, there's no way that you would get it."

He sighs. "I suppose I can't help you then, because I'm not a twin."

"Not anymore…" he adds, so quietly that I barely hear it.

My curiosity getting the better of me, I ask, "What do you mean by that?"

"Hmm? Oh, nothing. Forget about it. Doesn't matter."

And again there is silence.

I ponder his words. What could he mean, "not anymore"? Had me been disowned? Are he and his brother estranged? Is he actually a fraternal twin (which is jyst a whole different ball game)?

Again he breaks the silence with a question.

"What would you fell if your sister died tomorrow, and you had never gotten the chance to apologize to her?"

The question catches me off guard and I have to take a couple minutes to think about it before I can reply.

"I suppose I would be sad…? Maybe a little relieved because I could finally be an individual. Guilty, probably, because I told her I hated her… even if it is true…"

He shakes his head.

"You don't hate her. Not really. I think that you wouldn't know how to live without her. There would be an endless ache inside your chest, and it would never go away. every time you looked in the mirror, it would hurt, like a knife being driven just a little bit deeper into your heart, and you would wonder if there is even a point to living anymore. And almost nobody in the entire world would understand."

The pain has returned in his eyes, stronger than before, more obvious. I dare not interrupt, though I do wonder 'What the hell does he know?'

"Then comes the acceptance, which is absolutely horrible, because you begin to get used to living without them next to you. You stop pausing in the middle of sentences waiting for them to speak, stop looking to your left constantly to see if they're there, stop waiting for them to say their name first when you introduce yourself to someone new. And you feel really, truly awful for it, because it's almost like you're betraying them by moving on with your life."

We are no longer talking about if I hypothetically lost Hailey I realise. The stranger seems to be speaking from experience, and once again I wonder what in the world has happened to him.

He looks at me, a horrible emptiness filling his bright blue eyes and dulling them significantly. I feel a flash of pity deep in my chest- this is a very broken man.

"Never take what you have for granted, because you never know when it might be stolen away from you."

All at once, I feel the pity drain from my body to be replaced with white hot rage. How dare he lecture me? He doesn't even know me!

"How the hell would you know?" I spit, anger evident in my voice, as I stand, fists clenched at my sides, "How in the world would you know what it's like?"

He stands next to me and asks, "May I show you something?"

Once again his words have caught me off guard and I nod mutely before I really get a chance to think about it.

"Follow me." he says and that's when I finally realise what it is I have gotten into.

My imagination goes in to overdrive, as scenario after horrible scenario run through my head.

We stop in from of "Weasley's Wizard Wheezes", the biggest joke shop in all of Diagon Alley, and maybe even all of Britain, and I wonder what on earth is going on.

The red-head walks up to the door and reaches to open it when I see the sign. "Closed for Lunch," it says.

"Wait!" I cry out, and he turns to me, a puzzled expression on his face.

"You can't go in there, it's closed right now!"

He smirks. "I can go in whenever I want."

"No, you can't, that's against the law!"

"I'm telling you, I can… I own this shop."

And with that he waltzes through the door, leaving me shell-shocked behind him.

I shake myself out of my daze and follow him through the door.

It is quite strange to see this shop so empty and quiet' normally it is bursting with noise and chaos and people and various flying objects and laughter.

I follow the mop of red hair to the back of the store where he stops I front of a rather boring wooden door. He opens it and I gasp.

The interior of the decent sized room is like a giant memorial. Photographs, jumpers, all with large yellow F's on the front, a broomstick with a length of chain hanging from it, and what look to be original prototypes of some of the various products are not even half of what I see. On the far wall there is a plaque that reads, "In Loving Memory of Fred Gideon Weasley."

"Take a look around," the man says to me, "you're one of the very few people to ever have seen this place."

So, I do.

I start with the photographs pined up on the left wall. In all of them, there are two red headed boys, identical in every way, wearing large mischievous grins. Sometimes, they are joined by other red headed people, I count nine at the most in one photograph, and there are a fair few including a dark skinned boy wearing his hair in dreadlocks. A Quidditch team waves up at me from a frame, and I notice the colour of their robes- red and gold. Gryffindor House, then.

I move onto a pile of notes on a table by the pictures. They are all written in the same casual yet somehow neat scrawl. Their contents vary from potion instructions (which I eagerly drink up) to little reminders about just about everything;

George,

Don't forget, we need more milk!

-Fred

George,

Had to run out for more lacewing flies.

Be back soon,

Fred

George,

Mum's coming over for dinner tonight.

Be prepared…

-Fred

Forge,

I am holding your green jumper hostage until you return my purple socks.

-Gred

I set aside the notes and look at the newspaper articles piled next to them. Titles like "Weasley's Wizard Wheezes a Great Success", "War Heroes; Remembering Fred Weasley", "Unsung Heroes, Untold Stories: The Weasley Twin's Escape from Hogwarts" and "Weasley's Wizard Wheezes to Re-open After Six Month Closure" greet my eyes. I do not bother to actually read any of them, and instead focus on the products piled next to them.

They are all fairly old, and I dare not touch any of them, as you can never really tell what a Weasley product is going to do.

I skip over the jumpers, pausing only to observe that they are all identical save for the size, and focus on the final object in the room, aside from the broom, which really isn't that all interesting…

It is really quite random; an old leather boot. Then, I notice the slight blue-ish glow surrounding it, and I realise that it is a port key.

"Where does the port key go?" I find myself asking, before I can stop the words from leaving my mouth.

"Would you like me to show you?" the man, George I'm assuming, asks. At my look of confusion he adds, "I still have trouble saying it, even though it's been three years."

I need to stop and think for a minute because I feel like I am missing something major here. Why is he showing me all of this?

As though my body is on auto-pilot, I nod and walk forward to the boot. We both take hold of the port key, and I feel the familiar pull behind my navel.

A couple of minutes later, we are standing on a grassy hillside, underneath a twisted willow tree. There is a rather lopsided, tall house in the distance, and a gravestone in front of me, low to the ground.

Fred Gideon Weasley

April 1st, 1978- June 21st 1997

Beloved brother, son and friend

Scratched in below it are two words. They must be symbolic, but I have no idea what they mean.

Mischief Managed

As I stare at the tombstone, all of the pieces suddenly click into place in my head.

"I'm not a twin. Not anymore."

"Never take what you have for granted, because you never know when it might be stolen away from you…"

In all of them there are two red haired boys, identical in every way…

The Weasley Twin's Escape from Hogwarts…

In loving memory of Fred Gideon Weasley…

Oh my God.

I never even considered the possibility that he might have been a twin, that he might understand what I was going through. And I certainly never considered the possibility that his brother might have been dead… the though never even crossed my mind. It's just inconceivable!

So… Those things he was telling me… He knew. He understood them all. He would understand better than anybody in the world what it's like, and I… Oh my God.

As if sensing that I have worked everything out in my head, George begins to speak in a quiet, detached manner that breaks my heart more than any amount of tears ever could.

"He died in the Battle of Hogwarts, shortly before Harry defeated Lord Voldemort. Ron- my younger brother- told me about what happened. Apparently, Rockwood or someone blew up the wall near where they were standing. Everybody went flying, and when the dust cleared, there he was."

He paused to draw in a shuddering breath, regaining control of his emotions before continuing.

"I wasn't there when it happened. There have only been two times where we've been separated for more than a couple of hours at once, and both times, something bad has happened. The first time, Snape hexed off my ear," he gestures to the hole that I know is hidden under that artfully styled hair, "and the second time Fred… died." He winces as he says the word.

"For a long while after that, I couldn't even function without him there. I'm younger, see, so I had never lived in a world without him." A bitter laugh. "After I got out of the endless grief stage, I still did things the way I used to. I would stop part way through a sentence, expecting him to interject with words that would never come."

He looks away from the grave for the first time since we arrived, and I see that his eyes are brimming with unshed tears. Still, his voice barely wavers as he continues to speak.

"For my entire life it had been Fred and George. I wasn't sure- hell, I'm still not sure- how to just be George."

I stare at him, and feel the guilt crash over me in waves for the first time since this entire thing started. There were still a few rogue Death Eaters out there even now… how did I know that the last words I ever said to Hailey weren't going to be "I hate you"?

I had taken for granted the fact that I had always had someone to talk to, and I had figured that I always would. After all, what's one twin without the other? A half being, that's what.

Yet now, as I stare at George standing over his brother's grave, tears flowing freely ad shamelessly from his eyes, I realise that Hailey may not always be there by my side.

Life is too short, too precious, too fragile to waste time on hateful words, towards the ones you love especially. I realise that now. Never say something that you may end up regretting because, if every moment could be your last, it is never a certainty that you will see that person again to set things right.

I give George a couple more minutes to cry, out of newfound respect for him and all that he has taught me before I say, "I need to get back to Hailey."

George looks up and smiles, and this time it reaches his eyes.

He holds out his arm and says, "I'll Apparate us back, it'll be quicker," by way of explanation. I take hold of his arm and an instant of pressure later, we are back behind the Apothecary.

I walk out, blinking, into the sunlight and almost immediately spot Hailey calling for me, over by Eyelops Owl Emporium. I call her name and run to her, tackling her in a hug.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"

I feel my eyes welling up with tears, and I tighten my grip around Hailey's slender frame.

"I love you, Hailey."

"I-umm… Love you too, Kayla… What brought this on?"

Before I can answer, George walks up to us and says, "Everything alright, Kayla?"

Hailey looks at him cautiously, but I smile and nod. She gives me a look that says 'Who is this guy?' and I return it with one that says 'I'll tell you later.'

George has that wistful on his face again, and he looks so sad that I want nothing more than to hug him in that moment.

So, I do.

I catch him off guard, but after a moment he relaxes and wraps his arms around me.

"Thank you." I say to him as I pull away, "For everything."

He smiles. "Anytime. Oh, and Kayla?"

I turn around to face him again. He is holding out a piece of paper. As I take it, I realise that is is a photograph of him and Fred standing outside of their shop. I turn it over and read what it says on the back:

Opening Day at WWW

I solemnly swear that I am

up to no good!

What fitting words for the owners of a joke shop I think before looking back up at George to see him staring at me. For a moment, we just look at each other.

"Never forget." he says, still staring at me with solemn blue eyes, and I nod. He shoots me one last smile, turns and walks away.

"Who was that?" Hailey asks me.

"A friend." I reply. Deciding that she, at least, deserves a little bit better explanation I add. "Someone who understands."

To underline that point, I hold out the photograph for her to see. We lock eyes, and I can see that she doesn't really understand, but she seems to sense that this is something important.

Our moment is ruined by our mother calling, and rapid footsteps coming towards us.

"Kayla! Where have you been? We spent ages looking for you! Honestly, you should really try to consider the consequences before you pull stunts like that!"

I feel a surge of anger, but Georges words are still in the forefront of my mind, and I manage to keep calm.

"Sorry, mum," I say, as I inconspicuously slide the photograph into the pocket of my robes, "it won't happen again."

Both my mother and my sister look at me in surprise- I have never backed down from a fight so quickly, or so calmly before- and I smile. There is a flash of understanding in Hailey's eyes, and I wink at her.

I'm not the same person who came to the Alley this morning. Though I knew him for less than two hours, George Weasley taught me one of the most important and valuable lessons I have ever learned.

Love the best that you can, while you still can, and ever take anything for granted.

Because you never know when everything might end.

I'm not sure if I like how I ended this or not... Meh. Anyways, loved it? Hated it? Leave me a review, kay? I don't bite... often. ;P

~JM~