I longed to tell him everything was going to be ok, to tell him he would fine soon and all of his pain would fade. But I knew full well we'd both lose respect for me if I did.

Hell I'd just fought in a war, and I think that means I deserve to keep what little self-respect I have earned for a few days at least.

No, I couldn't lie to him. So instead I conjured a patronus to send to his sister, so she could call off the small gang of searchers and plonked myself heavily next to him, the height of the astronomy tower making neither of us uneasy, despite the precipice from which our legs dangled- though I didn't know whether it was his Quidditch or numbness which kept him up there.

"We were worried," I said softly after a while, keeping my gaze on the stars and giving him a chance to hide his tears- a chance he did not take. Choosing not to cover his pale cheeks, marred by tear tracks which shone unnaturally in the moonlight, he spoke.

"Sorry."

His voice was hoarse and rasping as though he had not used it in years and spiders had wound cobwebs around his vocal chords. "Didn't mean to-" he tried, coughing up more dust. But I cut him off, at this time he was feeling guilty? How did he have any room left to feel?

"I told them I'd found you, that you needed some space," I said. "I stopped your mother coming up."

He visibly flinched, we both knew he was too fragile for her at the moment.

"Now I know you're safe, do you want me to leave?" I asked, my tone soft so he knew I understood he might not want me there. He turned his head to lock eyes with me for a second and my heart almost broke in two.

Just like his must have seven hours ago, when he first saw the body, broken and cold on the Hufflepuff house table.

The grief, the hopeless longing and regret in my friend's eyes cut me up more than any death eater's curse ever could.

My friend… the broken man.

Slowly he shook his head.

"Stay with me Angey," he requested in such a small voice that if I hadn't been watching his lips I would have missed it.

"Of course Georgey," I murmured, scooting to his side and covering his large, freckled hand with my own. Revering the use of nicknames we had used in happier times, playing Quidditch, doing homework- or not in his case.

His returning smile of thanks was not a smile at all. It lacked all the vitally and humour I was so used to seeing etched into his expression.

It was a grimace, but he had tried and that was what mattered.

The look we shared spoke volumes, without uttering a single syllable.

I had not said how sorry I was for his loss, yet he knew the sentiment I could not voice. Then in the same look it was if he said to me. "I hope your pain fades quickly."

Because although we were both aware that he felt it more acutely, he knew the ache in my heart and how being strong for him was the only thing keeping me from sobbing myself dry, how as I climbed the staircase to him, I wiped the tears from cheeks and breathed exactly 27, long, slow breaths to calm my raging pulse and uncontrollable shaking.

I had no right to break down, not compared to him.

But he acknowledged my pain too.

Recognising the scratches of others is a selfless trait when you have been stabbed in the chest. And it was one I loved him for.

Yes, at this moment I loved George Weasley. Had done for years in fact- ever since he first chucked me a chocolate frog on our first journey on the Hogwarts express. He was one of my best friends, how could I not love with every fibre in my body, every ounce of my magic and with every soothing word I could bear to choke out?

And whatever had passed between his brother and I was a thing of the past, like everything in the twins' lives; never serious, always a bit of fun that hurt no one, a way to pass the time until their next prank.

George knew that I was hurting because I loved his brother just as I love him. Fierce friends until the last.

But after all this turmoil has passed, just a frightful memory which will wake us up screaming. George will have the distinction his brother never did. If my dear friend makes it through the ordeal of losing the other half of his whole, his best friend and twin brother he will be without a doubt the bravest man I could ever have the fortune of meeting.

And I can only hope that comes across in my gaze because I could never tell him out loud. Without breaking his gaze I conjure a sofa and blanket and force him up onto it.

And later, resting his head in my lap he falls into an uneasy sleep as I stroke his hair and hum snippets of every lullaby or muggle song I know.

And then I know he will get through this, because I have vowed to help in any way I can.

Later still, my thoughts stray to Fred and my humming trails off, George starts and I sooth him with more humming and caresses to the cheek.

"I'm alone," he chokes out.

"Shh," I say, pulling the blanket tighter around him. "I'm right here.

Even though I know that was not what he meant.

"I'm sorry Ange," he mutters before sighing and resting his head back in my lap. "Thank you for being here."

"Try to get some rest Georgey," I reply softly. "You're going to survive this."

There was so long a pause I was sure he had fallen back to sleep.

"Help me," came a small voice in the dark, as his hands knotted in my jumper. I had never heard a Weasley sound so sincere or terrified.

"Every step of the way," I confirm. "Now rest." I give a smile that is meant to be reassuring but I know just looks pathetic.

For the first time in his life he does what I tell him and closes his eyes.

"Ange," he whispers. "Is everything going to be alright?"

Another chance to lie to him.

I remain silent.