A/N: Not Rowling.
"Hello, Minister!" bellowed Percy, sending a neat jinx straight at Thicknesse, who dropped his wand and clawed at the front of his robes, apparently in awful discomfort. "Did I mention I'm resigning?"
"You're joking, Perce!" shouted Fred as the Death Eater he was battling collapsed under the weight of three separate Stunning Spells. Thicknesse had fallen to the ground with tiny spikes erupting all over him; he seemed to be turning into some form of sea urchin. Fred looked at Percy with glee.
"You actually are joking, Perce…I don't think I've heard you joke since you were—"
The air exploded. They had been grouped together, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Fred, and Percy, the two Death Eaters at their feet, one Stunned, the other Transfigured; and in that fragment of a moment, when danger seemed temporarily at bay, the world was rent apart, Harry felt himself flying through the air, and all he could do was hold as tightly as possible to that thin stick of wood that was his one and only weapon, and shield his head in his arms: He heard the screams and yells of his companions without a hope of knowing what had happened to them—
And then the world resolved itself into pain and semidarkness: He was half buried in the wreckage of a corridor that had been subjected to a terrible attack. Cold air told him that the side of the castle had been blown away, and hot stickiness on his cheek told him that he was bleeding copiously. Then he heard a terrible cry that pulled at his insides, that expressed agony of a kind neither flame nor curse could cause, and he stood up, swaying, more frightened than he had been that day, more frightened, perhaps, than he had been in his life…
And Hermione was struggling to her feet in the wreckage, and three redheaded men were grouped on the ground where the wall had blasted apart. Harry grabbed Hermione's hand as they staggered and stumbled over stone and wood.
"No—no—no!" someone was shouting. "No! Fred! No!" And Percy was shaking his brother, and Ron was kneeling beside them, and Fred's eyes stared without seeing, the ghost of his last laugh still etched upon his face.
One hour later
It was a ceasefire, and everyone walked over to the Great Hall. They were all sluggish from battling, and everyone wanted to tend to the injured, and see who all was dead. But Bill was not expecting to see one of the people on the line of the deceased. He wasn't expecting to see his little brother there. He had always hoped that his family would be one of the lucky families that made it through the war with no losses.
But that was not to be. His slumped down to his knees, crouching over Fred's body. His eyes filled with tears, and he was unable to keep himself from sobbing. The tears fell onto Fred's still body. He didn't notice that the others were coming in, but he felt hands on him, lifting him and pulling him into a hug. Fleur held him, and he could feel her shaking with sobs as well.
He knew he could count on her to be there.
George stalked in and saw Bill standing there sobbing with Fleur. He walked over to them, knowing they had lost someone in their family. He was about to ask them who it was before he looked down at the body of his twin brother. He staggered. No, it couldn't be Fred. He wasn't supposed to die yet. He was supposed to live to make everyone's hair turn grey before it was meant to. Fred was supposed to live.
"No. No. No. Fred."
He sank down to the floor right next to his twin and sobbed. But Fred just lay there. He did not jump up and yell, "Gotcha!" But George knew that he would never have done that. Not at this point.
"Fred, why? Why did you have to be the one to die? Why couldn't it be me?"
Bill saw his sobbing brother, and he knew that whatever pain he was feeling, George was feeling it tenfold. He knew that George would have a void in him for the rest of his life. They all would, but George would have it greatest of them all. He kneeled down and put his hand on George's shoulder, letting him know that he was there, but still allowing him to sob.
Ginny and Charlie came in together. Charlie had his hand on her shoulders, and she was happy for his support. She didn't know where Harry was, or where Ron and Hermione were either, and so she was worried. Add on the worry of what might happen to her brothers and parents, she had broken down in the halls. Emotionally, and just a bit mentally. Charlie had been coming into the Entrance Hall when he saw her sobbing, rocking back and forth. He sat down and put his arms around her, trying to calm her down.
Ginny said nothing in response, just looked up at Charlie. She looked at her brother, who was nine years older than her. She had no idea what to say. Except, "We're not all going to make it, are we?"
Charlie didn't know what to say. He wanted to be hopeful, and to tell her that they would all make it. But at the same time, he didn't want to lie, so he said, "I don't know Ginny." He stood up and held out his hands. "There is only one way to find out, and that is to go in and see."
She took his hand and stood up. The two of them walked into the Great Hall to see who they might face. On the right, they saw Colin and Dennis Creevey, both who had lost their lives before it was their time. On the left, she saw Lavender, and her eyes darkened. Ginny had never been fond of her, but she knew that she didn't deserve to die the way she did…or at all.
But front and center, Ginny saw her family there. And she saw her brothers kneeling on the floor at someone's feet. She saw Fred, or was it George, kneeling over someone, sobbing. And then her heart stopped. There was only one person in the family who could get a reaction like that from one of the twins, and that was the other twin. Ginny tried to breathe, but she couldn't keep the tears from coming out. One of the brothers, who had sent her a toilet seat when she was ten, was dead.
Charlie saw her sobbing, so he put his arms around her to keep her from running and killing someone. He may have been nine years older, but he knew that she had a wicked way of firing off spells, and as much as he wanted a lot of Death Eaters gone, but he knew she might be killed.
So he held her tight until she stopped yelling and cursing and thrashing around in his arms. Once she had calmed down, she broke down sobbing, knowing that she could do nothing to get back at the bastards who had taken her brother before his time. It wasn't until she had sobbed herself dry that Charlie released her.
Molly came in right then with Arthur. They were hurrying to see why their daughter was cursing everyone she could. She knew her daughter's voice, even from far away, and once she had heard her voice, she had starting running as fast as she could. She had been relieved to see her husband alive, but she kept running, and he had followed her.
"Ginny, what's wrong?"
"One of the twins…"
Ginny didn't even need to finish for Molly to know what she was going to say, so she went over to see which one. The moment she saw her son lying there still, with his eyes closed, she, like her children before, knelt down and started sobbing. It wasn't fair that she had lost one of her sons, and who knew, maybe Percy and Ron were gone too. She sobbed for Fred, and for everyone who she hadn't seen alive yet.
Arthur stood there. His heart was torn to shreds. Fred, one of the sons who he had promised to protect, was dead. He had failed Fred. Fred had lost his life, and it had been his fault. He went over to one of the benches on the side of the room and sat down. He shed some tears, but for right now, he wasn't sobbing. He was just sitting in disbelief.
Ron came into the room with Harry and Hermione. Ron ran over, and George ran and hugged him. He was still crying, but Ron understood right away. Fred was dead. Fred, who had tried to make him do an unbreakable vow; and who had tried to burn a hole through his tongue; and who had given him his fear of spiders; was dead. Ron knelt down right next to his mother and sobbed. He sobbed to say everything he didn't say earlier. 'I love you, you git, so wake up,' he thought. But nothing he did brought his brother back.
Percy had been there when Fred had been killed. Same as Ron, but Ron wasn't at fault. Percy had made Fred laugh, and he had distracted him when he needed to be alert. If Percy had not come back, Fred would not have died. He would still be alive, and most likely go on to hate him for being a prick, and for abandoning the family. It would all be his fault.
"Percy Ignatius Weasley. You get your bloody arse up and stop wallowing."
It was Audrey Clayworth, his secretary at the Ministry, and the girl he was in love with. She didn't know of course, and she never would find out. Percy feared he wasn't good enough, because she valued her family more than anything, and he had walked out on his family.
"What do you mean?"
"Your brother is dead. You were there. If you don't go and talk to your family, and tell your family you're sorry, and how bad you feel about what you did all those years ago, they will never forgive you. They will think of you as a coward, and then you will have lost your family forever, and you will never get them back. So please, go."
"Audrey, I can't. It's my fault. I distracted him. If not for me, he'd still be alive. If not for me, my family would not have lost him. How can I apologize for that?"
"Stop feeling bad about that. How were you supposed to know that you might distract him? How were you to know that he would stop fighting? How were you to know –"
Percy didn't let her finish. He knew she was right, as she often was. But he didn't let her continue. Instead, he kissed her rather abruptly. She didn't fight him, but rather brought him closer. And they continued until he heard a cough behind his back.
"Geez, Perce. Seeing you snog is like seeing the sun revolve around the earth. Not something you see all the time." It was Charlie. Surprisingly, he had heard the whole thing, and unfortunately for his eyes, he had seen it as well. "Mum sent me out to see if you might be coming in. Audrey…do you mind if I talk to Percy alone?"
"Sure, I will go and help with the injured."
She walked away and Percy and Charlie looked at each other.
"So…Fred's dead. But you know that."
"And you think it's your fault?"
Charlie looked at him. "Did you distract him on purpose?"
"Then you're an idiot if you think it's your fault he died."
Percy didn't reply for a few moments, until he said, "Come on. Let's go and see the family."
The two walked in together and over to the family. Percy saw his mother sobbing and he went over to put his arm around her and comfort her. As soon as she looked up, he knew she had forgiven him.
Two weeks later
"When I come to the end of my journey
And I travel my last weary mile
Just forget if you can, that I ever frowned
And remember only the smile
Forget unkind words I have spoken
Remember some good I have done
Forget that I ever had heartache
And remember I've had loads of fun
Forget that I've stumbled and blundered
And sometimes fell by the way
Remember I have fought some hard battles
And won, ere the close of the day
Then forget to grieve for my going
I would not have you sad for a day
But in summer just gather some flowers
And remember the place where I lay
And come in the shade of evening
When the sun paints the sky in the west
Stand for a few moments beside me
And remember only my best."
Arthur Weasley spoke these words, trying not to break down, but he knew that if he did break down, it would be accepted by the crowd of people who had come to witness Fred's burial. Everyone knew Fred Weasley, either from his days at Hogwarts, where he had been loved by almost everyone, even by most of the Slytherins; from his shop, which had been a crowd pleaser, and had even put Zonko's out of business; and from his days in the Order, where although no one wanted to admit, but his happiness and jokester attitude was appreciated.
Arthur remembered the day he first held Fred. He had been the smaller twin, and the younger one. He had been the first of the twins that Arthur had held in his arms, and Arthur had promised to take care of him as much as he could, whether it was before he left for Hogwarts, during, or the rest of his life. He had promised to be there if he needed help with future children, or with a future wife, in case she was insane.
"I made a promise to Fred when he was just a newborn baby, and I promised that I would protect him. From everything. That included death. If I could go back and die in his place, I would. I would do anything to allow him to live, and to keep my promise one last time." He paused for a few minutes, before he continued. "For the first few days, I felt like a failure for the first time in a long time. I felt like I had done something wrong to allow them to fight, before I realized that he would have done so himself."
He put his hand to his face, before he finished. "We all stayed at Hogwarts for the following week, to help them clean up a little, but when we returned to our home, I saw this laying on my pillow, asking me to read it here. So here it is:
I wanted to write this letter, to wrap up all the loose ends. I have a feeling that I may not be coming home alive, and I wanted you all to know how much I love you.
Dad, when I was a child, you always told me that you would protect me from everything. And you did. You did an amazing job at being a father. I wished I could have been a father, and if I could have been half the man you are, I would have been happy. Just know, if I do end up dying, I want you to know, I chose to fight. I chose this fate. I know you couldn't be around me and protect me from everything, as well as the others. If I die, then you can't feel like a failure. You are not.
Mum, I am sorry for all the strife I caused you. I know that you wanted the best for me, and I know you wanted me to have a good, secure future. I am sorry that I couldn't live the future that you wanted for me, and that I couldn't marry a woman that you would know straight away was the right woman for me. I am sorry I couldn't give you grandchildren.
Bill, I am sorry for the time I put beetles in your soup in Egypt. And that I always teased you about your relationship with Fleur. I knew she was the one for you, and I knew she made you, and continues to make you happy. I hope that you will grow to have some great children. Let them go to Beauxbatons if they wish. Make sure they know that I died to help them be safe.
Charlie, I know that I caused you strife when you lived here, and I am sorry that I never took the chance to go to Romania and visit you, and get to know you after Hogwarts. I wish that I would have focused on our relationship more, rather than only on the joke store products. Continue with the dragons.
Percy, I know we have had a hard past. I know that I should have respected you and the fact that you wanted to do something more with your life than joke around. I know I should have taken you seriously, and done nothing. I met Audrey, and I know she's the girl you're in love with, because I stalked you at the Ministry to make sure you were alright. Well, sort of stalked. I couldn't do anything after the takeover.
George, you are my twin. No matter what, you will always be my twin. I may not be there, but you have to promise you will not follow me here. I need you to help watch over the others, and to make sure that they don't do anything rash. Make sure that Ron marries Hermione, and make sure that Ginny marries Harry. Make sure Angelina moves on and finds another man. Hell, if you marry her, then great. Just make sure she doesn't wallow in grief. Same with Lee. Make sure to keep him close. Continue with the store. I know that you may not want to for a while, and that's fine, but don't keep it closed forever. And stay positive. Life without me won't be terrible. You'll see.
Ron, if you didn't kiss Hermione, then I will allow her to release the birds on you again, because I know it will be great. And if you don't marry her, then I will haunt you for the rest of your life, because you should never let the people you love get away. When you marry her, let her have a say in raising the kids. I mean, she basically raised you. Hell, she even made me fear her.
Ginny, Harry loves you, and you love him. Don't let him get away. He needs you and this family. And you need him. I know that being raised with six brothers made you tough, and made you into a badass, but let your walls down, because you can't push everyone out. The family needs you, just like it needs everyone else, to get through this. Watch over everyone, and follow your dream of becoming a Healer.
I love everyone. My money is to be split evenly eight ways. Be there for one another. That is my last wish.
I love you.
Love, Fred," he finished the letter and tears were building up inside, just as they had done the first time he had read the letter. "Fred, wherever you are, I love you."
It would take time, but they would all be able to stop feeling bad about his death. And eventually remember all his good deeds.
A/N: Review please!