I wake from what feels like a dreamless sleep. It doesn't take me long to figure out that the sensation I am feeling is not living. As I begin to sit up I notice not only can I see, touch, smell and hear but I can comprehend all that my former-self could not. I scan around my new surroundings. It seems familiar but in many other ways completely unrecognisable. To start with an inch of dust has not accumulated on every visible surface, the furniture was varnished, shiny and new, the rug on the floor still retained is colour and the windows have not fogged over with algae. I walk over to the window cautiously but am surprised to hear no creak in the floorboards as I step over it. It is dawn; the sun shines down over Hogsmede like I had never seen while alive at Hogwarts. I am in the Shrieking Shack though no longer does it feel like the most haunted building in Britain but cosy, just like home. I become intrigued by a teapot that is still steaming and as I reach out to touch it I feel a hand on my shoulder.
"I didn't expect to see you here."
I swivel round to see the young, unlined and cheerful face of Remus Lupin. I recognise him but he looks nothing like I ever remembered him as. He doesn't have that tiredness about him but full of life which is ironic considering that he is dead. His eyes are restless as if constantly searching for new knowledge.
"You are dead aren't you?" He asks seeing the surprise on my face as I realise I am not alone.
"No, I'm Fred. Although yes, I am also dead." I Joke.
"Haha, I'm glad you are here Fred. The others should be coming soon-you will get on well."
"What no one else died did they?" I ask trying to conceal the panic in my voice. Lupin chuckles.
"Lots of people died Fred. Though in the order it was just Tonks, you and I."
"You seem much happier now that you're dead." I say bluntly, still too overwhelmed by everything to say something intelligent.
"It's curious isn't it?" Lupin says. "But then again maybe not so, I had many problems in my life and in leaving life I left them there. I am now going to start afresh. I like it here as well, I find it impossible to be melancholy."
He was right, everything from the brightly coloured rug to the quaint steaming teapot just made you feel relaxed and warm inside.
"Sorry for my ignorance but is this heaven?" I ask. Lupin smiles.
"It almost could be couldn't it? But no, this is what we have nicknamed the station. I think it is a place of waiting before we go...well...on."
Lupin still remains remarkably happy, especially considering that no less than an hour ago we had both been murdered.
"What is 'on'?" I ask unoriginally.
"No idea, but there is no point in wasting your time pondering something that it was never intended for us to understand. Just relax and enjoy what is now rather than waiting for a next. Tea?" He offers.
"May as well." I reply as I notice two additional cups. "Who else are you expecting?" I ask.
"Oh they are already here." And right on queue Sirius Black and someone who I instantly recognise as James Potter come bounding through the door clearly exctited about something.
"It's done!" James yells triumphantly as he pulls up another lounger to the coffee table. "It took forever bit it's worth it."
"Well that's not strictly true," Sirius interjects " We need to do the front page and seal it but we thought we'd do that with you Moony." His face looks solemn and then happy when he notices my presence. "Fred! I didn't expect to see you here anytime soon. But you'll like this take a look." He takes out something that looks like a bit of old parchment but I know better.
"The Marauders Map!" I say trying to contain my excitement.
"Almost, but version two" James corrects. " Sirius has told me all about your family and you and your twins misadventures but I believe introductions are in order, I am James Potter, but you can call me Prongs if you like while I'm with these idiots." He says holding out his
"Fred Weasley," I say taking it. "You can call me Fred if you want. So what is so special about version two?"I ask.
"Sirius would you like to show him?" Suggests Lupin.
"I can open it." I volunteer brandishing my wand. "I solemnly swear I am up to no good."
The familiar ink began to swirl over the page but didn't form the words it was used to seeing it just continues to saunter round the page as if searching for some kind of purpose.
"We need to seal it before it will work." James says and taking out a quill he begins to write,
"Messers Moony, Padfoot and prongs... ah, it doesn't look all right, should we put our old wormy friend in there for old time's sake?"
"That treacherous rats name is not going on this map!" Sirius protested, "Put Fred on there, if you need another name. He is more of a Marauder than Wormtail has ever been." He continued.
"OK then. We can put Fred on. You have a nickname?" James queried.
"Um, I can't think. I was Rapier on Potter watch."
"Rapier it is!" James exclaims adding it to the list of nicknames of.
"Messers moony, Rapier, Padfoot and prongs proudly present to you, the marauders map version two." He writes proudly. "It even sounds right."
"Just out of interest what's the difference between version one and version two?" I enquire.
"Ah this is where it gets good." Serious says earnestly. "You remember what the first one show it?"
"Hogwarts, everyone and everything at any time doing anything."
"Right you are. But this beauty shows anywhere in the wizarding world." He kisses the piece of paper "Its brilliance."
"You really need a woman in your life Sirius, that piece of parchment is the only thing that your lips have touched since the Emeline Vance." James teases.
"Shut up." Sirius at James' on the head. Lupin hadn't said anything in a while.
"Moony, you care to do the charm?" Lupin took himself away from his tea and sprang up. With a careless it flick of his wand Lupin settled the dancing ink.
"Shall we?" He asks dubiously.
"Together." We replied in Unison.
"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."
Brown ink swam round the page slowly making up the wizarding world as I knew it, Hogsmede, Leaky Cauldron, the Ministry, everything was there. When the map of had finished its glorified routine I study Hogwarts, trying to see if I can work out what is going on. Then I see the feet of my brother, George Weasley sitting in the forbidden forest, with the annotation beneath his name 'holding the resurrection stone.'
Lupin of must have seen it to as he places his hand gently on my shoulder and says:
"I think you should have a word with your brother." I nod in agreement but then unfortunately remind myself that I am dead.
"Um-how exactly would I go about that?"
"See that chimney over there, its simple- Floo powder." Sirius tells me.
"Oh and remember to put some in your pocket before you leave otherwise you will find it hard to get back." James wisely advises me and then looks at the map evidently thinking hard. He glances up at me and says:
"-take this as well, I guess at your brother may need it more than us."
I'm completely lost for words but I managed to stammer a 'Thank you' and walk over to the fireplace. "The forbidden forest." Have a say clearly and then go up and green flames.
I land rather dignified on my arse. I don't think I suit being a ghostly figure-much too clumsy. I stand up and brush myself down. I am at the entrance to the forbidden forest.
"Right," I think "Time to find George." As I pull out the marauders map, I can't help but smile when I see my nickname on there. George will love it. Of have I walk towards where George is on the map. I would say it is just dawn but I'm not sure I have lost all perception of time since dying. I approached where George is sitting, cross legged and twiddling something that I know to be the resurrection stone' in his hand.
"Hey, Georgie." I say gently. He turns so quickly he clicks his neck.
"I have come from the dead." I tease doing my best impression of a ghost. He doesn't seem to have found the funny side and looks frankly dumbfounded as he looks at the resurrection stone' in shock. Understanding what he must be thinking I say:
"Oh no, don't worry you didn't resurrect me. I just thought I'd pay you a visit." He looks surprised. "And also to tell you not to resurrect me and to make sure you don't kill yourself over the loss of your tragically better looking twin."
"My mangled ear is better looking than any part of you." George joke surrendering to a smile.
"Hey!" I say in fake outrage. "You're not supposed to speak ill of the dead."
The smile vanished from his face.
"You really are gone aren't you?" He said solemnly.
"No," I say trying my hardest to sound relatively wise. "Dead, yes but never gone."
"I think that may have been the deepest thing you have ever said."
"It doesn't suit me does it?"
"Well, let's just say it's a good thing that we invested our money in jokes and not philosophy."
"Hmm I agree. So how is life without me?"
"Fine, but your after-life clearly sucks without me. "
"What makes you think that?" I ask.
"Well you have only been dead for a couple of hours and you have already come back to see me."
"I only did so you wouldn't try and raise me from the dead!"
"I was just thinking about it." George admits sullenly.
"It's not worth it; I never would have really been here if you had. You know how the story goes anyway. It's just not worth it."
"It's weird though, I always imagined Christmases at the Burrow when we were older where we would have our own kids running around causing mischief we would give everyone sweets from the shop in their stockings and all the puking pastels would drive Mum up the wall. The shop of would be famous and all our products would be banned at Hogwarts which would only cause more mischief and only when we were as old as a century would hand the joke shop over to our eldest children."
"Well take me out of the equation and I bet it won't be too different. We were one of the largest wizarding families; it would have been a miracle if we had all survived. Think about it, I'd rather it be me than someone like Mum or Ginny."
"Why though? Why did anyone have to?"
"Because people die George that's just what happens-only this time it was my turn." I feel a lump form in my throat, I tried to cough it down but I never really thought about what I had left behind until now. What I'd been saying that made me think of something that I never really worried about whilst alive. Oblivion. Not making any difference to anything. I'm just another victim of life whose personality and character is buried under the soil with his body. Just another grain of sand at the bottom of the sea bed.
"George, can I just ask you one thing? A favour?" I ask not making eye contact.
"Of course Freddie."
"Don't let me be forgotten, let your kids know they had an uncle, tell your grandkids of our adventures. Don't taboo my name just because I'm dead-after all I am still alive inside those who knew me."
"Fred, I promise- you will never be forgotten not by me, not by anyone."
"Give this to your kids when they are old enough-if you have them, that is. Say it's from the Uncle Fred." I pull out the marauders map and handed over to my twin. George takes its opens it.
"Rapier, that's you isn't it? But how? No way! When?"
"Some secrets have to stay with the grave." I tease. "I'm off, see you Georgie. I am sure I will see you again. " I reach into my pocket, pull out the sooty powder and go up in green flames and when I get back I'm no longer in the shrieking shack.