More Than a Brother
There had been so many funerals to go through. The war had taken many lives, and yet, it had affected so many more. But, as George Weasley stared up at the ceiling in his bedroom at the Burrow, his thoughts turned to one funeral in particular.
Burying Fred had been tremendously hard on the Weasley family, but none had been affected more than George. He was not ashamed to say that he had broken down in his Mum's arms as they lowered the casket that held his twin. His heart had felt like it was tearing in half. Fred had meant so much to all the Weasley's. They had lost a wonderful son, and an amazing brother. But to George, Fred had been so much more than that.
Fred had been there his whole life. He and George had done everything together. They were partners in crime, partners in business, and partners in life. Now, George didn't know what to do. He had lost his twin, his best friend, and his other half, all at once. It was the cruelest thing he could ever think of. From the first day he had been born, George had never had to worry about being alone, yet now he felt like the loneliest person in the world.
He had felt disconnected from everyone since Fred's death. The past few days had been miserable, the most miserable of his life. He had attended dozens of friends funerals, each of which had only served to further remind him of the loss of Fred. He had not been very good company to anyone. He had received pitying looks wherever he went. Words of sorrow were spoken to him from people he had never even met before. He resented these people. They had no idea what he was going through. None of them did. Though, he didn't quite know himself. All he knew was that so far, life without Fred was not worth living.
He didn't want to believe that Fred would never smile at him again. He couldn't fathom waking up every morning, and not seeing his brother lying there in the next bed. He didn't want to think about getting dressed, and not being able to consult his twin about what they should wear. He now had a pair of nearly everything he owned, but he would trade it all just to hear that laugh once more.
All of these thoughts were making him more and more depressed until finally, George sat up in his bed. Maybe splashing some water on his face would help clear his head, he thought. It was very late and everyone at the Burrow would be asleep. George got up and made his way silently to the loo. He washed his hands and splashed his face with the cool water. Feeling slightly better, he grabbed a towel and dried himself before looking in the mirror. That was a mistake.
As soon as he looked in the mirror, a wave of heart wrenching sadness swept over him. Staring back at him in the mirror was the face of the person that he had been wanting to see more than anything. Tears began to flood down his cheeks. He couldn't help it. It was Fred, George thought. His identical twin, down to the last freckle, was smiling back at him. But then, as George took a closer look, he realised that it wasn't Fred, just himself. He looked away quickly.
George had looked in a mirror since Fred's death, but this time the emotions he had been feeling just came pouring out. He kept his head down, not daring to look back in the mirror. 'Scared of your own refection,' he thought, 'now your really losing it.' He steeled himself and he slowly looked up to stare at his reflection in the mirror once more. He noticed the differences now. His missing right ear stood out among them. Tears still continued to flow as he brought his hand up to the mirror, and touched it to the face of his reflection.
He turned his head, hiding his missing ear. "Fred," George said tearfully. No one responded. Though he knew, no one would ever respond. Not anymore.
George backed away from the mirror until he was leaning against the door. He slid down and collapsed to the floor. He buried his face in his hands. How could he go on without Fred?
He stayed like that for a while, before he heard a knock on the bathroom door. He quickly wiped his face and fixed himself up. When he opened the door, he found Harry standing there, a look of concern on his face.
"George, is everything alright?" Harry asked.
"Yeah," he lied, "Why wouldn't it be?"
"Oh, no reason. I just didn't know who was in there and I noticed a shadow pressed up against the door," said Harry.
"How perceptive of you Harry. Well there's no need to worry, everything's fine. You can go in now, I'm done," said George as he brushed past Harry.
"Oh, uh, thanks," Harry said confused. He stepped into the bathroom and was about to close the door when he heard George call his name.
"Harry," George called.
"Yeah," said Harry.
"That was rude. I bit your head off when you didn't even do anything. I'm sorry," said George sincerely.
"That's alright, I don't blame you," Harry said sympathetically. He moved to close the door again.
Harry stopped, "Yes."
George looked pleadingly at him, "How do you do it?"
"Do what?" Harry inquired.
"Go on? You know, after your parents. . ."
Harry was taken aback by George's question. He had definitely not been expecting this when he had walked down from Ron's room in the attic to use the bathroom.
George had been so devastated by Fred's loss, but Harry would have expected him to turn to Mr. Weasley, or Bill for guidance, and definitely not him. He was not ready for this. He observed George for a moment. He looked so lost without his twin. Harry thought he looked rather like he had lost a part of himself. He didn't know what to say, but he knew he had to say something. George had come to him for a reason, because he knew Harry had also suffered and endured a terrible loss, the loss of his parents. Or, Harry thought, perhaps it was just because he was standing there at a time when George needed assurance. It didn't matter to Harry, George had come to him and if he needed advice, comfort, or anything, Harry was going to give it. He just didn't know where to start.
"I don't know what to tell you George. I don't really remember all that much. I mean I was only a baby when my parents died," Harry said sadly.
George looked down, he seemed to have placed a lot of hope in whatever Harry was about to say. Now, he looked even more dejected, if that was possible.
Harry was frantic. He needed time to think. "I know George, why don't you meet me down in the kitchen in a bit and we can talk?"
George looked up, the tiniest glint of hope in his eyes, "Alright."
As George walked down the stairs to the kitchen, Harry willed his mind to think of what to say to him. George was very close to Harry. He thought of him as if he was an older brother. He and Fred had been always been kind to him, ever since Harry had started at Hogwarts. They had always supported him and were always on his side no matter what anyone said about him. Harry had always been deeply touched by their loyalty, and he rather appreciated their unusual ways of trying to cheer him up when he was down.
After finishing in the bathroom, Harry realised he still had nothing. What was he supposed to say to him? 'Sorry. My deepest sympathies. I know what you're going through.' Those were all empty words that wouldn't mean anything. Harry had heard those words too many times before. He hated hearing those words. He did not want to use those words on George.
Harry entered the kitchen and stared at George. He was sitting at the table staring into space, as if he was seeing something, or someone who wasn't there. Harry couldn't imagine what he was feeling at this moment. But, then again, he had experienced plenty of loss in his life, so he had some idea.
When Sirius died, Harry had thought that he would never be able to go on. Sirius' death had hit him the hardest. Sirius was his Godfather, yet he had never been able to spend any real time with Harry. After spending twelve years in Azkaban he escaped, despite being innocent the entire time. After they met and his innocence was revealed, he had still been denied any time with Harry. When Sirius' house was used as the Headquarters for the Order, he and Harry had finally been able to spend time together. Harry had grown very close to Sirius that year over the summer months and then again at Christmas. Harry loved his Godfather. He had never actually said it to him but he knew it to be true. He hoped Sirius knew. But, after finally growing close, Sirius had been killed by his psychotic cousin Bellatrix Lestrange, right in front of his eyes. There had never even been a way to bury him.
Harry had been so angry at the time, with Bellatrix, himself, and with Dumbledore. After Dumbledore revealed the prophecy to Harry, and why he had never told him before, Harry had ended up growing closer to Dumbledore as well. He taught him about Voldemort and the importance of the Horcruxes. They had even gone together to retrieve the locket. Harry had been forced to make Dumbledore gulp down a potion that caused him unbearable pain. But they had survived the cave and lake full of Inferi together. Then just as soon as they had had bonded over that experience, Harry had lost him too. He had watched helpless as Dumbledore fell from the Astronomy Tower. Harry felt like he couldn't get close to anyone, because he would only end up losing them. He thought that his life was meant to only ever be accompanied by tragedy and loss.
But then, his best friends proved to him how wrong he was. Ron and Hermione had shown him the value of true friendship, and the lengths to which they would go to show it. Both of them risked their lives to accompany him on his quest, despite the danger, as well as the odds. He couldn't have done any of it without their help. Looking back, Harry figured that without the two of them he would have been killed, or gone crazy from being left all alone. They showed him that as long as he had them by his side, he would have people who cared about him, and would follow him until the end. He couldn't express what they meant to him.
Then there was Ginny. He had never really had much luck in relationships with girls, until her that is. She was Ron's sister, and Harry had been stupid enough to let that get in the way. Once he had 'smartened up' as she put it, he had discovered a whole new world of possibilities. She had revealed to him that his life did not always have to be full of misery and darkness. When they had got together last year, Harry, for the first time in his life, had known what true happiness felt like. He still remembered that first kiss with her. He had been hugging her in front of nearly every Gryffindor in the common room after the Quidditch final before spontaneously kissing her. After that, there was not a day that went by when she wasn't on his mind. When he went into the forest to meet death, his last thought had been of Ginny, kissing him the year before on his birthday. He knew, with that one kiss, she had saved his life. Because of the time he had spent with her, and because of that kiss and what it could mean, he had come back. He didn't know what the future would hold for him, he just hoped that it would include Ginny. She, Hermione, Ron and the rest of the Weasley's had shown him that he had something to look forward to in life. Harry smiled to himself. That was exactly what George needed to hear, he thought.
While discovering this thought, Harry realised something else. It really did not matter what words he said to George, as long as he meant them. It wouldn't matter if he explained to George that he had something to live for, if he didn't express his own belief that it was true. If he couldn't do that, the words would have no effect. But, he thought, as long as he spoke sincerely and from the heart, then whatever he said would mean something.
George finally noticed Harry only when he was standing in front of him. He hadn't even noticed him come down the stairs.
"Would you like some tea?" Harry asked him.
"Yeah, tea's fine."
Harry went over and began brewing the tea before he sat down again.
"So George, how are you?"
George was thrown by the question. People usually always asked if he was okay, which irritated him. Of course he wasn't okay. George looked thoughtful. "I'm alright."
"That's not much of an answer George."
George scoffed. "Alright then, you want the truth? I'm terrible. I can't do anything without being reminded of Fred. Everything I do reminds me of him."
"When I wake up, I expect to see him there in the room. When I get dressed, I still think of what we should wear. When I go anywhere or do anything, I expect to see him there beside me. I've never been alone in my entire life, not really. I don't know what to do now that he's gone," George stammered. He buried his face in his hands.
Harry looked thoughtful, "I see. You both relied on each other your whole lives. You leaned on each other for support. But, now that Fred's not here by your side you feel like you can't do anything without him."
"Exactly," George murmured through his hands.
"I won't tell you that these feelings are gonna go away George, because they probably never will. There are plenty of times when I still miss Sirius, and my parents, even if I only have a few memories of them. But I treasure those memories, they are precious to me. Just like all of your memories of Fred should be," Harry said determinedly. He leaned over and put a comforting hand on George's back. George met his eyes as he did so. "Things will never really get better, because you'll always miss having them with you and you'll always wish they were still here. But eventually, it will get easier. As time passes it will hurt less to think of them. Until one day it won't really hurt at all. By then when you think of Fred, you will only think of the good times you spent together, and it won't be so sad to look back on those times, just comforting," said Harry wisely.
Harry watched as George sat there unmoving. He gave him a sympathetic pat on the back before getting up to fix their tea. He sat back down and placed a cup in front of George.
George took the cup and looked up at him with tears in his eyes. "You really believe that Harry? You actually believe it'll get easier."
"Eventually, I hope so. You have to believe it will get easier. That's how you move on. Plus, it has become easier, at least for me,"said Harry.
"How so?" George asked.
Well, when I was younger I never thought I would have any friends, let alone one's who would risk their lives for me. When I was little I never dreamed that I would have people who cared about me, the Dursley's certainly didn't. Your family showed me what that could truly feel like. When your Mum told Sirius that I was as good as her son, I didn't mention it at the time, but that meant more to me than she'll ever know," Harry said wistfully.
"Oh, she knows. She always knows," said George.
Harry smiled, "Probably. I'll never forget that. I can never repay her or any of your family for what you've all done for me. I always looked forward to being here at the Burrow during the summer. That first summer with you guys was the happiest summer I can remember. When you and Fred came with Ron to get me from the Dursley's, I'll never forget that. You guys gave me the greatest birthday present I have ever got."
Well, second greatest, Harry thought. Ginny had topped that list with last year's gift. Though, he didn't dare mention that to George.
George smiled, finally. "I remember that. That was great. Didn't we make your Uncle fall out of the window?"
Harry laughed, "Yeah, he was holding my ankle when you all pulled me into the car and when Fred pushed the gas he ended up face first in the bushes."
George laughed, "That's right, I remember, didn't you say-."
"See you next summer, yeah," Harry said smiling.
"Priceless. That really was a fun ride home wasn't it," George said fondly. "I haven't thought about that in years. Fred didn't even know how to drive the car either."
"Yeah, George laughed, "Don't you remember, he was barely paying attention to where he was going."
Harry thought back, "Oh yeah, you kept having to tell him to drive west."
George smirked, "Yup, I'm surprised he even found the house, let alone landed the car safely."
Harry smiled, "How about when we got here and your Mum came running outside."
George grimaced. "Oh yeah, Mum was right pissed. I've never seen her so angry."
"Well, she wasn't angry at me," Harry said with a smirk.
"Oh no, of course not, she just loved you," George said sarcastically. "Cooked you a right feast, she did. She really wanted to fatten you up, because you really were a scrawny, little git back then. Still are actually."
Harry laughed again. George cracked a smile. "Thanks Harry. I needed that. It feels good to remember Fred in a positive way. He wouldn't want me to sit here moping over him anyway."
Harry smiled. "No I don't believe he would. Glad I could help, George."
"So what about you then, Harry?" George asked. "How are you holding up?"
Harry looked thoughtful. "Well, it's been really hard being constantly reminded of how many people we lost now what with all of the funerals." George nodded in agreement. "I hate that everywhere I go I'm hounded by reporters. Though things have become much better now that Rita Skeeter got sacked for being an unregistered animagus. Don't know where that anonymous tip came from?" Harry said mischievously. George smirked.
"Hermione," they said simultaneously, before laughing.
Harry recovered first. "Other than that I don't know what to tell you, George."
"You mean you don't feel any different, now that he's gone?"
Well honestly, it hasn't really hit me yet that he's gone. I mean I still look over my shoulder all the time, as if someone's about to attack me. That will probably never go away if I'm to be an Auror."
"Isn't that what you always wanted?" George asked.
"Yeah it is. I've always seen myself trying to protect others from dark wizards. I mean I've been doing it all my life. I suppose it's all a part of my 'saving people thing,' as Hermione calls it. It is one of the only things I'm good at, besides Quidditch of course."
"It just seems like a lot for one bloke to deal with," said George.
"But I that's just it, I won't be alone in this. There are other, older Aurors to help as well. And I'll have Ron with me. You know that nothing bad happens when we're together."
George snorted. "Well there's that."
Harry smiled, "Don't worry about me. Honestly George, I'm doing alright. Plus, I have Ginny to keep me in line."
"Yeah you do. I am still going to watch out for you Harry, like I do with Ron. I feel the same way with you as I do with him. You're like a little brother to me," said George.
Harry thought he heard him wrong. Had George really just said that to him? He was nearly overwhelmed. "Thank you George, I can't tell you how much that means to me," he stammered.
"Don't mention it Harry. You're a part of this family now. Mum and Dad see you as their youngest son, you know. I can speak for the rest of my brothers, Percy included, and say that we all think of you as our youngest brother."
Harry was speechless. Nothing could fully express his elation at hearing those words. He had never known what a real family was, until he had met the Weasley's. Now George was taking it upon himself to tell Harry that he was already a member of that wonderful family, or at least as good as. This was something that Harry had only dreamed of. He fought back tears as he stood up. George followed his lead and the two embraced in a brotherly hug for the first time.
"I don't know what to say George, I've never really been a part of a family before."
"Well you are now, get used to it."
George smiled at Harry and held him at arms length. He noticed Harry looked concerned about something.
"A Knut for your thoughts, Harry."
Harry looked apprehensive, "Do you think Fred would have minded me being a part of the family."
George stared at Harry in surprise. He knew Harry was very self conscious, always downplaying his achievements or abilities. Sometimes he forgot just how insecure Harry was. He probably thought that he didn't deserve to be happy, or some other nonsense. George was quick to ease his mind.
"Harry, I believe Fred would have loved having you as a member of this family. Why do you ask?"
Harry looked sheepish, "I just don't want anyone to think I'm trying to replace him or something."
"Is that what you're afraid of? Harry, I know you don't want that," George assured him. "We'll always want Fred back, but that doesn't mean we don't want you as our brother as well," he added. Harry smiled at him, finally.
George smiled back at him. "You are not replacing anyone Harry, you're just taking your rightful place as a member of this family. You deserve to be happy Harry.
Harry held back the tears that threatened to escape. "Thank you."
"No Harry, thank you. For everything."
Harry smiled. George used his wand to reheat their cold tea and placed his cup back in front of him. He sat down and took a sip. Harry had thought that he was coming downstairs to help out George when in actuality, they had ended up helping each other. Guess that's what brothers do, Harry thought. He figured he would have to get used to pleasant surprises like that. Because Harry knew that being a Weasley meant that there would be surprises around every corner. He smiled at that thought.
George watched as Harry drank his tea. After taking a sip, Harry sighed in pleasure. George grinned as he sat back down and sipped at his own tea. His Mum had always said that a nice cuppa tea was the best remedy she knew. George couldn't help but agree. He glanced sideways at the raven haired boy sitting next to him, and smiled. George had thought that without Fred, life would not be worth living. He realised how foolish that assumption was now. Especially with Harry sitting next to him. Harry had survived death not once but twice, which meant that he certainly thought life was worth living. He finally seemed happy, George thought, and if Harry could find some semblance of happiness after all he'd been through, then maybe life wasn't so cruel after all.