It's really terrible to lose your brother.
"We didn't lose him. He was taken from us." Ginny corrected, her eyes were colder then usual. Then before. A bit more distant.
"Taken. Yeah. Course." Ron mumbled. Because nothing he could say was right. So he was used to this behavior. Not just from Ginny, but everyone in their family.
Molly was making dinner one night. She dropped a pan, and she never dropped a pan. "Bullocks", she curses. And she never used to curse.
Ron smiles, "Remember when Fred—"
And he doesn't even have to finish the name before she flinches.
"Not now Ronald, I have to make dinner. Your father will be home soon…"
She knows Arthur never makes it in for dinner anymore though. Never before the sun goes down, anyway.
"Perce," Ron will say, as they are doing the chores of their childhood, degnoming the garden. "Where do you think Angelina is right now? Do you think she misses Fred?"
Percy doesn't even pretend he didn't hear Ron, he just ignores him. Throwing the gnomes with a new ferocity.
Bill and Charlie don't answer owls.
Ron tells Hermione about the troubles with his family. Asking, what the bloody hell is wrong with him? Don't they think I miss him too? That I need to talk about it?
"Well," Hermione is biting her lip. And this is why he asked her, because he wanted a thoughtful answer. "I suppose they all missing him in their own way."
"I know that, he was my brother Hermione—"
"No, I mean…yes. He was your brother. And he was your mom's son. He was Ginny's older brother, protector, and the one she was closest to. Percy…well I'm sure Percy blames himself. Because he was there Ron. And it was his younger brother. Bill and Charlie are so removed from the situation, physically I mean, they have no clue how to deal with it. You're dad is burying himself in work. And then George…"
Nobody had to explain how bad off George was.
"We're a sad lot." Ron says.
"You get to be." Hermione says.
But even knowing where they are coming from doesn't help Ron. Because they are all so quiet about it. They tiptoe around Fred's absence. And Fred was anything but quiet. Fred was life.
Ron goes to Diagon Alley, to Weasely's Wizarding Weezes. The front is shut down. A closed sign hanging dilapetadely on the door. Indefinitely. Posted under it, scrawled right on the window.
"George?" Ron calls, a cloud of dust appears as the door squeaks open.
"Hello, Ronald." A dull voice calls. "What brings you here? I'm still not giving you a fucking family discount."
"You sound…not drunk." Ron goes around the counter where the register is, and George is sitting on the floor. Looking very out of place. He's clean, washed, dressed in neat clothes.
"I've gotten past the drinking stage. I know the rest of them will be sad to hear, but I'm not an alcoholic. Haven't been since…May 8th, I suppose. Weeks clean, that's me."
"Well, erm, that's good."
Ron sits down next to him on the floor. There's a spider on the ground, but he breathes in, and ignores it.
"How've you been."
"It's been great. Really living the dream here."
"You haven't been by in a while."
"They don't want to see me."
"Sure they do, mum's worried sick, and Ginny…"
"No, Ron. They don't want…to look at me."
"And here you are."
Ron doesn't know what else to say, so he just glances over at his brother, George, always smiling, laughing. George, sitting there silent. Arms on his knees, hands clasped in front of his face. George, never without Fred. George, now, tears streaking down his face.
"I miss him, Ron. I miss him. It hurts to breath sometimes."
"And he would be so mad at us. The lot of us. He was all giggles and jokes and ponies. Here we are. Silence and nothing. A fucking shell of our family."
"It wasn't supposed to be him. I was supposed to go with Percy." George is sobbing. "I was supposed to go with Perce…And Fred was going to go with Lee. But then Lee and I were talking…I don't even remember what now. So I told Fred to bug off with Percy. And I said something to him. But I don't know what it was…I don't remember the last thing I said to Fred. I don't…I don't…"
"Later we should come up with candy to turn naughty kids into turkeys."
George and Ron whip their heads to look at who spoke.
Percy clears his throat, looking awkward. "You and Lee were talking about new candy ideas for the shop. And you said you should make turkey candy. Called them Gobbling Goodies or something."
George is staring at Percy, like he's not really there.
"Lame name, George." Ron says.
Percy and George both ignore Ron…what's new.
"He was my little brother, George. I failed him. Me, not you. If it had been you instead of him…then I would have just failed you. It's not your fault. It's not."
George is shaking his head, wringing his hands in front of him.
Percy leans down, grabbing onto Ron with his right hand, George with his left. Like he needs to make them understand. Like they need to know.
"Let me carry this one, George. We need you. It was me. Okay?"
George finally looks at Percy. "I don't blame you, Perce."
"Just stop blaming yourself."
George and Ron are reaching for each other, and meet somewhere in the middle.
"Oh look mummy, it's back open! I can't wait. I've been saving up for this…"
"No." She sounds tired. "You're not to buy anything that can turn your sister's hair blue again, or that might blow up the house, or try to transform the cat."
"You're no fun, mummy."
"I would just like to be a touch sane, Patrick."
A small redheaded boy runs into the store, stopping short when he sees the ring of other redheads on the floor.
"Are you open? Who owns this? I've been waiting for you to open back up, I've even been trying to make my own stuff. But now I don't get a door to my room anymore…"
"Me and my brothers do." Percy says. Blinking a few times. "And we'll be back open tomorrow. Stop by then, and you'll get a discount."
Ron mutters something about everyone and their aunt getting a discount.
George is still looking at Percy.
"What?" Percy says. "You're a terrible businessman."
"Couldn't agree more Perce." George is actually almost smiling. "But tomorrow's a bit ambitious, looking at the state of the shop."
"We're Weasleys." He says it like it'll solve things.
And who knows.
Maybe it's a step in the right direction.