Happy Birthday Fred and George! In honor of their birthday, I'm posting this commentary I've been working on regarding this fic. I've gone ahead and covered far more than you ever wanted to know but I know I missed something, so feel free to ask anything else you've been wondering and I'll answer those questions below.
Also, MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD, SO YE BEWARE!
First, some credit where credit is due:
* George having a raccoon for his Patronus was not my own idea. What he has is never mentioned in canon, so while I searched for anyone who might have an idea, I stumbled upon Pen-umbra's deviantART page, and loved what I saw. Seriously guys, her Patronus depictions are cool. Go look at them right now.
* I don't think I said so elsewhere, but I want to give an extra shout out to partyhat, whose review for Ch. 9 was not only greatly appreciated for its in-depthness, but it also helped to make Ch. 10 better. To elaborate, this person inspired me to add the bit about George getting hurt in his younger body and forgetting to heal himself before leaving. It was exactly what the story needed at the time.
* Also, a thanks to my friend Arn, who inspired me to rough up Voldemort a bit more than I originally planned.
* And just thanks to everyone who read and/or reviewed this fic! You're all awesome!
And before we get into the questions, here's a bunch of useless information that just goes to show I've put way too much thought into all of this:
* The name "James Oliver" did not come out of thin air. It was a direct homage to the actors who play Fred and George in the movies. The surname Remus "picked out of a hat" for his own cover-identity is in reference to his own film actor.
* I didn't come up with the Lysander idea during the hiatus. I knew exactly who the Trickster was back when I posted Chapter 1. I didn't know whether I'd be able to reveal that fact in the actual story at the time, but I'm happy I found something that made sense.
* I wonder whether Chapters 17-20 are really necessary. Sure some of it was fun, but hardly anything that happens in the twins' second year is relevant to the main story at all. I'm considering putting a note for future readers in Ch. 16 saying that they can skip those chapters (or at least Ch. 20 since it ended up being so boring), but I haven't decided yet. Edited to Add: I've decided to leave the original text alone for now. Less confusing for everyone that way.
* There is a grand total of zero scenes from Young George's perspective, which was intentional from the beginning. Fred was perfectly capable of conveying his twin's state of mind and it wasn't worth reader confusion over which George I was talking about. Besides, it kind of subliminally showed that Fred was in the driver's seat between him and his twin and that Old George had been without Fred long enough to be his own leader.
* Before Old George retrieved Pettigrew, he made sure that Mrs. Lovegood didn't do something stupid that night. She, in fact, did not attempt the experiment and so she's still alive. It will be a long time, though, before someone gets around to telling her or Luna the full truth.
* In the April Fool's Day chapter, in the scene where Lee is supposedly being chased by rubber chickens, that was actually just Old George under Polyjuice. He's sneaky like that and no one ever realized that it was him.
** Speaking of which, Chapter 10 and Chapter 11 used to be the same chapter. I split it to cut down on the mood whiplash. That doesn't account for all the other instances of mood whiplash, of course, but I usually wanted it when I left it in those times.
* The spell to send someone back in time is very bad Latin for "break the fourth wall," or, more accurately, "squash the fourth wall."
* Most of the "meaningless" memory fragments mentioned in that one paragraph in the final chapter are originally from the Sorting Hat, but two of them are from George himself: the image of a dead ginger is obviously Fred in the old timeline, but what's not as obvious is that the woman with an infant is Angelina with Fred Jr. when he was born. I feel a bit guilty about not talking about George's future family very much, but I decided early on that they would distract too much and I threw in a hand wave about deadening George's connection to them at the beginning.
** On a side note, what Lysander did to remove that emotional connection was simply extracting George's memories of his family in the future. The way I understand it, one does not lose complete access to one's memories, if Slughorn being able to divulge the Horcrux memory twice (albeit of differing quality) was any indication. On the other hand, there's the whole "casting memories away" thing. The logical conclusion is that removing a memory from your mind leeches away the emotional potency of that memory so that you can be more objective while reobserving it through the Pensieve.
* I tried to keep my OC's to a minimum, but I probably could have cut some (and I might still go back and edit out names that add nothing to the story). There are two exceptions I can think of at the moment: Charlemagne and Healer Dorsi. Charlemagne stays because he gets zero screentime while being plot-relevant. Dorsi stays because I wanted to break tradition on Andromeda Tonks being employed at St. Mungo's because that is pure fanon. It is only established in canon that she has healing skills, which does not in any way require her to be an professional Healer. Edited to add: Okay, I just checked the Harry Potter Wiki again, and it seems that I overlooked one Hippocrates Smethwyck, who would have worked in Dorsi's place, except for a few details. I'll review the original text again and decide if I want to change that later. Edited even later to add: As noted a few paragraphs above, I'm leaving the original text alone for now.
* As George was rambling in the Chamber, he starts quoting A Very Potter Musical. He is familiar with his former universe's version of it and those bits were some of his last intact true memories until those too were torn to shreds. As soon as he stops quoting, he's got nothing solid of himself left but a bit of desire to please Voldemort and a strong compulsion to kill the snake after Harry "dies."
* George claiming to become a germaphobe after getting a "transplant" (in this case Voldemort) should sound familiar to some of you. It was a shout out to my mom, who got a kidney a few years back and since has developed a fondness for Purell and not shaking hands. I keep bugging her to read this story but she still hasn't got around to finishing it. When she finally hits Chapter 23, though, boy is she going to tearbend. Yes, I want to make my mother cry, don't you?
And now the questions I'm expecting someone to have sooner or later (and that some of you already have):
* That's it? That's the end? Yes, this story ended exactly where it needed to. I probably could have drawn out the last few chapters a little more, but I stopped myself before the story took over my life anymore than it already did. I'm in school and I should be working on tests and papers instead of this, not the other way around.
* You left a lot of stuff available for sequels (Remus, Lysander, etc.). Do you want to do more with this multiverse? As I have indicated in my Author's Notes in previous chapters, I do not intend to write any sequels, prequels, midquels, etc.—the most you might get out of me is a bonus scene or two. I do think that sequels could be cool, so if you think you could pull it off, go for it! I've left a list of writing prompts at the bottom to help you get started, if you're interested. Edited to add: I lied. See next chapter for full details.
* Why oh why did you do that to George? I'm evil. Mwahahaha. But seriously, George's main fault is that he doesn't always see the full consequences of his actions, and those consequences tend to bite with a vengeance. Still, George was willing to do anything so that Fred might live. For him, the consequences were worth it.
* Will George ever really heal? Maybe. Probably not completely, but I'd like to think that he'll at least get out of St. Mungo's one day.
** Wait, wasn't George supposed to be all better now? No, definitely not. He wasn't even really conscious of what he was saying. Quoting Fred's last words was instinctive on his part. Honestly, it was amazing that he was able to do anything at all so fast.
* Why did Young George and the Sorting Hat say George had schizophrenia? The Sorting Hat was predicting a worst-case scenario (which, in fact, did eventually happen) and Young George was quoting the hat. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the clinical definition, schizophrenia is when someone has a difficult time distinguishing between fantasy and reality (and it is not having a split personality, contrary to popular belief). George was able to keep a hold of himself through his Occlumency (thank you, Snape). He made his mental stronghold contain everything that he knows is his true self and he left everything else outside it, which makes distinguishing reality fairly easy. After Voldemort raided the stronghold and George destroyed his own mind, though, there was almost nothing to help George keep track of what was and wasn't real, and eventually he went catatonic. Because I wanted the story to not be totally depressing, I let George start to reemerge thanks to help from his family. It may not be a completely realistic depiction of a real-world medical issue, but there's magic in this setting, so I think I'm allowed some leeway.
* Why didn't Fred try drinking pumpkin juice again after Old George's "death"? He was worried that doing so might end up killing Young George too at worst and have Old George's status confirmed at best. It just wasn't worth the risk after Harry said he was dead.
* Was George surviving a cop-out? No. I seriously considered letting him die, but the thing that stopped me was the fact that, in canon, no one died after Harry's sacrifice. Well, that might just be because we don't see any Killing Curses except for the one that kills Voldemort, but the fact that there is protection from Voldemort had to be taken into account with George. I don't know if one sacrifice from Harry was enough to save George's life, but I think two (even if Harry didn't know that Oliver was George at the time) would work just fine.
** In that case, why didn't Voldemort burn when he first possessed George? George let Voldemort in as a free choice, just as Harry allowed Voldemort to kill him.
** And why didn't Voldemort shooting a Killing Curse at George make it rebound on him? I think that it was a side-effect of Lily's blood magic being so powerful, given the great love and blood she shared with Harry. George has enough of Harry's blood protection to keep himself alive, but not enough to make Voldie a wraith again. Besides, killing Voldemort is Harry's destiny, not George's. If it really bothers you, pretend that the Killing Curse hit the snake and not George.
* You said in this story that Lily knew what she was going to do with her blood magic, but Harry obviously didn't. Why the discrepancy? Whatever Lily did to start her blood magic was transferred to Harry, so he didn't have to do that part himself, only the actual sacrifice bit. That's my answer and I'm sticking to it.
* What got George into blood magic anyway? He and Fred tried to see if blood warding could be useful for their Defence products. The war ended before they had a usable product and George never had the heart to develop it further.
* Why has George been carrying around that sword in his pocket for so long? I haven't decided which to consider "correct" but there's two ways George could have gotten the sword and he would have different motives for each. The first method is that Snape's assumption was correct and that George has in fact been keeping Gryffindor's sword in his pocket at least since his last trip to Britain before coming to Albania. This would fit with George's intention to be on hand in case something went wrong with Snape, as having a Horcrux destroyer can be quite handy. The second way is that George, via professor comments, instructed Fred to sneak the sword in his robe pocket while asleep, since he could penetrate the blood ward without Voldemort being the wiser. In this case, the sword acts primarily as a means of getting around the Unbreakable Vow: he vowed to never bring his wand against Voldemort, but he never said anything about a sword.
* Why go through all the rigamarole of making Harry Master of the Elder Wand again? The Elder Wand is what killed Voldemort last time and George wanted to recreate the original circumstances as best as he could, just in case. Obviously using the phoenix-feather wands would have been a bad idea, but there's too much unknown about wandlore to know if it was any sufficiently loyal wand that would backfire like it did or if that was a trait that belonged to the Deathstick alone.
* What does the school think happened in the Chamber? Snape told McGonagall and she told the rest of the school that Professors Oliver and Dumbledore laid down their lives for the school and stopped the Heir of Slytherin. From a certain point of view, Snape was telling the truth, and he decided that a full disclosure wasn't necessary.
* So Voldemort and Dumbledore were the only casualties this time? And Tommy-boy's snakes! Don't forget about them! But yes, that's right. George was really successful at making Voldemort put off his killing spree, always saying that deaths would make Dumbledore more suspicious than mere attacks.
* Why was there only petrifaction in the first place? The best I can tell, there was only non-mortal attacks when Tom opened the Chamber the first time around, until Myrtle spotted him in the bathroom. I don't think everyone who had an indirect look did so by coincidence. As a 16-year-old, I think Tom may have been reluctant to kill until he got Myrtle, which may have been him panicking for all we know. Of course, he could have just been playing it cool so that the school didn't close, but the original point still stands: Tom almost certainly arranged situations so that people didn't die the first time around so he would be able to do so again in George's time. It's too much of a coincidence otherwise.
* Why did Hermione get petrified earlier this time around? George knew that his future sister-in-law was the most likely candidate to figure out the big secret of the year. It may not have been particularly probable, but he wanted to make sure Hermione didn't figure out something she wasn't supposed to before it was time. And besides, George being around made the "troll in the bathroom" incident unlikely and Hermione would have no trouble catching up on several months of curriculum after waking up. She also has plenty of time to get to know Harry and Ron, even if they may not become fire-forged friends this time through.
* George told Voldemort that certain behaviors are what James Oliver is "supposed to be." But just what are those behaviors? Hehe. That was mostly an excuse to let George do whatever he wanted while being possessed. As Voldemort understands it, "James Oliver" is a nice guy who doesn't like to talk about where his dueling skills came from. He generally keeps a cool head and can be wise at times, but he's nothing too special. Extreme paper-grading wasn't part of that persona, but was rather something that supposedly helped keep the "James" that Voldemort knew sane. Voldemort, not being much of a people person, soon forgot that part and assumed that almost everything "James Oliver" did was part of his persona. One must wonder about what Quirrell went through in the old timeline if Voldemort considered Professor Oliver boring and spineless.
* Why was Nagini around so early in the new timeline? Back in the old timeline, Quirrell did not take months and months to find Voldemort like Snape did, and Voldemort never got the opportunity to meet his favorite familiar. I think it's unlikely that she was an actual Horcrux this time around, but it was better to be safe than sorry. We do have, at minimum, three days where Voldemort had no one but his snake and he might have taken the opportunity to kill some random Muggle and split his soul further.
* Why did Voldemort change from using charmed skeletons to guard his Horcux to inferi when he got around to making the protections for the locket? Even though inferi have a major weakness in that fire is highly effective, charmed skeletons simply do not have the longevity that inferi have. It's simple: bones plus body lasts longer than bones sans body, and I think the lake was put there to help preserve the inferi over time as much as it was to lessen the threat of fire.
** So why did he use charmed skeletons at all? Well, back when Voldie-poo was protecting the ring, he had yet to master inferi magic, so he just used some skeletons he likely stole from a bunch of graves. After he had been killing lots of people for a while, he may or may not have used his victims' fresh bodies to make his inferi horde for guarding the locket. Yep, Tom Riddle is a very horrible person and I am so glad Harry got rid of him.
* What were your favorite parts? Here, let me put that in list format:
A Handy List of pisoprano's Favorite Parts of GWatCE
1. Snape. Just everything Snape. He's annoyed at everything, which I find exceedingly hilarious. Special mention goes to him threatening Harry with expulsion to make him go away while he's still in a daze about vanquishing Voldemort. I know it's supposed to be a serious scene, but that moment makes me smile.
2. The Quidditch prank. The PC games instilled in me a bit of hatred for gnomes after they stole my beans one too many times and using them in place of a Beater's bat would be much preferred. For those of you who think I'm being cruel, I'm positive that the gnomes will be able to withstand more than a few hits to their thick skulls just fine.
3. "Elvendork! It's unisex!" If you do not know where that comes from, go read the Harry Potter Prequel. This shout out almost happened by accident. I was just writing along and fakecrazy!George started babbling about Padfoot's gender and calling him Elvendork just popped into my head and it was too good to not leave out.
4. When the twins et al. find out who the Saintlike One is. Basically everything written before this was written to get to this point, which is why I ended up on hiatus afterwards since I wasn't sure what to do next besides find a way to get rid of Voldemort.
5. All of Ch. 23, especially after the attack on the stronghold. I'm usually rubbish at endings, but this one worked so well. That may or may not be because I've distilled the climaxes of five of the books in the process, but...
6. Anytime George says something that sounds completely insane. Special mention goes to his plan to catch a unicorn.
7. The wand George claims to get from Gregorovitch. It is literally the stupidest wand I could come up with. For those of you who don't know what a Chizpurfle is, it's a tiny parasitic critter that attacks magic, including wands. The alder dyed silver lime was a bit of foreshadowing on my part (Quirrell's wand is alder, silver lime is usually for seers) but it's still ridiculous for a wandmaker to tell you he dyed the wood. Also, the wand is far longer than anyone else's. I'll let you draw your own conclusions about that.
8. The plot to annoy Lord Voldemort. Special mention goes to annoying him via extreme boredom. Also, in retrospect, I should have incorporated some from Amanda Lack's list of ways to annoy him. Let's pretend that some of those happened offscreen.
9. "My turban is cool." The Eleventh Doctor in Doctor Who acquires a fez at one point and goes through a similar ordeal that Professor Oliver does with his turban. Unfortunately, the Doctor's fez was killed, so I made its spiritual brother, the turban, survive. Also, Voldemort was rather attached to the turban, so he couldn't lose it yet.
10. The last line. Originally, I was just going to have Old George laugh and Young George and Fred share a quiet moment together where they vowed to keep helping George get his mind back. I decided that the other Weasleys needed to be more involved and while adding their support, I realized that Fred's final words were the perfect conclusion to this story, albeit somewhat garbled since Saint George isn't up for much talking yet.
* Why did you leave so many "Handy Lists"? Because they were handy.
* What was the deal with Broderick Bode learning George's secret? I wanted the knowledge of long-range available if someone else needs it. If we're really lucky, someone might be able to go back in time to stop George from trying to help Snape with Voldemort. It's unlikely, since someone would have to jump back however many hundreds of years in one jump (there wouldn't be enough latent temporal energy to allow for multiple jumps), but it's still a possibility.
* Why did you spend so much time on the relationships of Remus, Tonks, and Charlie? I like the "Remus and Tonks" relationship being canon. Remus, however, was the only canon character I could think of that George might send further back in time (and given how much I had to stretch canon for him, that's saying something). So I did my best to give everyone good reasons to go along with this significant change to the original story. I probably overdid it, but oh well.
* Isn't Old George's dueling skills a bit unrealistic? Maybe a little. He had DA training and lived through the war, but those alone didn't make him as fast and instinctual as he is in the story—that was more a result of the fact that he worked in a joke shop and many a kid has tried to pull a prank on him over the years, so he got quite good at protecting himself from the unexpected hex. Though having George hold off future-Auror Tonks without even thinking about it is a bit much, I'll admit.
* What happened to the Philosopher's Stone? It hasn't been destroyed this time. Dumbledore advised Mr. and Mrs. Flamel to lie low for a year with the Stone to make sure Voldemort didn't find out that Snape was lying about that.
* So how did Sirius get his hands on Riddle's diary? He won't tell me. I assume it's because it was so anticlimactic that he finds it more amusing to act all mysterious about it.
Added 25 December 2014:
* Why does George go back in time to 1989? Tradition. I've read a lot of time-travel fics and it's ridiculously common to start it during the time-traveler's first year because it's a time of being a clean slate, when hardly anyone starts wondering why their personality has matured a decade or more all of a sudden. It just so happens that most of those other fics almost always start in 1991 because that's Harry's first year. Since the Weasley twins are older, I pushed it back a couple years to compensate, and that gave me some leeway time to pull some more unique things off.
** But why not have him go back to his birth year? Lysander didn't bring this up because he was afraid of George interfering with Voldemort at the height of his power—so many chances for that to backfire and it wasn't worth the risk. Also, he wanted George to be close enough to the time of Pandora Lovegood's death that he could do something about it without worrying about years of timeline-altering decisions changing things too drastically.
* Why did Lysander push the possession thing so hard on George? Lysander has heard about how brilliant Dumbledore is, especially at mind magic. The best way to keep Dumbledore from reading your mind is for not all of your mind to be there when you talk to him. George accepted it because he wasn't thinking about the ramifications of possession, he was just applying tropes from "his nieces' and nephews' stories," (*cough* all the fanfic yours truly has read *cough*) particularly Mental Time Travel. Most of the time his Genre Savvy was helpful; this time, however, it backfired.
* Couldn't Andromeda going back have worked well too? Yes, yes it could. I hadn't thought of her while I was brainstorming this story, but Andromeda's life certainly ended up pretty awful, getting estranged by her pureblood family and then having her husband, daughter, and son-in-law all kick the bucket to leave her with only an infant grandson to take care of. I've got an idea for a one-shot dealing with this, but who knows if I'll ever get around to writing it. I'll add this to the list of writing prompts below in any case.
Some Writing Prompts:
1. Lysander Scamander has jumped back in time to when James Sirius Potter, Fred Jr., and all the other Next Generation characters are in school in order to stop something horrible from happening. As a bonus goal, give a secondary reason for removing George Weasley from the timeline shortly after Lysander's arrival.
2. Remus Lupin has jumped back in time to 1960 and must figure out how to prevent Voldemort's rise to power while keeping his lycanthropy a secret from everyone. As a bonus goal, make Broderick Bode an important character or give Remus a relationship with Pomona Sprout.
3. Fabian and/or Gideon Prewett jump back in time to prevent something horrible from happening. As a bonus goal, involve Carlotta Pinkstone in some way.
4. Old George's road to recovery and consequences of his actions. As a bonus goal, have Healers consistently worry about his progress when their patient insists that he's George Weasley or have someone attempting to become an "artificial seer" too.
5. A centuries-old Parvati Patil decides to jump back in time to 1991, using a method protected by the Department of Mysteries until the temporal energies renewed themselves enough for the jump, so that she can stop her old Defence professor from going insane and maybe stop something else that's horrible from happening. As a bonus goal, involve the Philosopher's Stone in some way.
6. The discovery of twin time travel. As a bonus goal, show how they discover the rule about being silent for a year about the time travel.
7. The real story behind the Fat Lady and Godric Gryffindor. As a bonus goal, write it in Old English.
8. (NEW!) Andromeda Tonks jumps back in time to save her family and/or stop the war. As a bonus goal, have another character that I overlooked as a time-travel candidate volunteer to go with her.
Update (3 April 2013): Invisi has started writing a fic based on the fourth of the above prompts entitled "George Weasley and the Road to Recovery." I'm excited to see where it goes. If you want more story, you might as well start there.
Update (25 December 2014): The bad news is Invisi discontinued aforementioned fic. The good news is I've taken prompt #2. See next chapter for details. The other bad news is that I didn't fulfill the bonus goals.