Disclaimer: I do not own the Harry Potter series or any of its characters or plot.
Was it alright to wish that his twin was dead too? Fred looked back into the depths of the lake. Hurry up, Georgie, he thought. 'M waiting for you.
The air exploded. Fred gasped, feeling his feet lift, but everything was too quick, too fast, the world was rushing by in his ears—rock and stone and wood flew in his direction and he knew it was not enough—
And then he was gone.
Fred opened his eyes slowly. He sat up.
It was a long moment before he realized he was in Zonko's. The walls were newly painted, and the products were better. He laughed out loud. He had loved it here when he was young, but of course it was nothing compared to Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes now. But the last time he had seen this place, the shop was closed; the Death Eaters had proved too much of a danger for the shop to remain open. But then how...
It was then that Fred realized he was naked. Oh. He supposed he must have gone overboard with the Firewhiskey again. That explained a lot. He found some clothes in one of the drawers and put them on, wondering absently whether George was passed out in the bathroom or the basement.
"Well, if it isn't Fred Gideon Weasley, named after—"
Fred froze. He'd know that voice anywhere. He'd cried for days when he realized he would never hear it again.
Uncle Gideon stood there, right there, and he looked younger and happier and ten times the prankster he was when Fred had last seen him. Fred's feet seemed to run of their own accord, and he wrapped his arms around his uncle, laughing harder than he had in two years.
"You're alive," he said in wonder.
But Uncle Gideon shook his head. "Not exactly."
Fred frowned. "You're... a ghost? Hey, are you like Peeves, then? I mean, you can still touch me, so—"
His uncle sighed. "No, no, Frederick. You—you're... not alive, either."
Fred blinked. "So... I'm dead?" Uncle Gideon smiled in a mournful sort of way. He nodded.
Fred blinked again. "Well... you could've said it sooner, I s'pose." He walked around. "I don't feel dead," he said, honestly surprised. Uncle Gideon snorted at him. "But I'll take your word for it. Where's Gred?"
Uncle Gideon winced a little. "Earth, Freddie. Come on."
Fred stilled. For a few seconds he stared after his uncle, who was walking steadily out of the shop, before running after him, but as soon as he stepped out of the shop he was walking in nothing—just white. There was laughter in the distance. "What—?"
"Oh, not you too!"
Fred's mouth dropped open. "Diggory?" he spluttered.
Cedric Diggory shrugged and grinned. He looked young. "Weasley," he said. He nodded at Uncle Gideon. "I've been watching Dad." The scenery around him changed, and they were in Hogwarts. The lake shone before him, and Amos Diggory duelled fiercely in its reflection, exchanging curses with another man—a Death Eater. Cedric did not look worried, and his father emerged victorious.
"So he's..." Fred scrunched up his eyebrows. This death thing was bloody confusing. "Alive? And you're watching him... while he's down there?"
Cedric grinned wider. "You caught on faster than I did."
Fred looked over. Uncle Fabian was strolling casually towards him, hands outstretched, and Fred hugged him tightly.
"Missed you, Droobles," his (other) uncle said fondly.
"Hate that name," said Fred.
"'S your fault for sticking gum in my hair when you were a kid. Made the name stick just as good."
"Can I see what happened to George?"
The lake rippled, and before Fred knew what was happening George appeared in the water; his twin was talking quietly with his family, but there was something in his brother's eyes—something gone, actually, Fred realized. He felt an odd pang in his chest. He turned away.
"Ah, well," said a new voice. "It's always worse when you've just died, really. When I kicked the bucket I saw Sirius sobbing his heart out. For some reason, it didn't occur to me I should've gotten a camera."
"Shut it, Prongs."
Fred gasped. James Potter and Sirius Black were walking up to him, grinning gamely. "You're—"
"Dead," nodded James seriously.
"Just like you," added Sirius.
Fred blinked. Twice.
"Scare the poor man out of his wits, why don't you," said another person, much more familiar than the other two. But then that meant—
"Professor!" Cedric said in surprise.
"Remus?" Fred asked. "But—I didn't know you were dead!"
"I didn't know it either," said Uncle Fabian, and Uncle Gideon together.
"Yes, well," Remus shrugged. "I got here only a moment ago. With Tonks. And none of that, Cedric—I have had far too many people calling me Professor, you know? It's starting to get a little exhausting."
"Well, it's your own fault," said James, grinning. "Anyway, we need a fourth man—"
"Move over, Potter! I need to see—is Harry—"
Lily Potter came running towards them, her face wearing the same motherly expression as Fred often saw on his own mum. "Oh, hello, there, Fred, Remus," she said, as though she saw until-recentlyalive people every day. She glanced at the lake, and Harry appeared in its waves. There was blood on his clothes and dirt on his face. He looked like death. There was a stone in his hand. He turned it three times.
James released a shaky breath, and said, "I guess we're needed, then?" Sirius grinned, shoving his hands into his pockets. Remus closed his eyes contentedly. Lily folded his hands in her lap and smiled. "Albus did say something about leaving, if only for a while."
Together they disappeared. Fred's mouth fell open. "Where'd they go?"
Uncle Fabian put an arm on his shoulders. "Sometimes," he said, "people need a little encouragement."
"Nah, Harry's just a special case," said yet another voice, and Tonks appeared by his side. She frowned at the lake, where Harry's reflection still stood. "Damn. I always get left out." From seemingly far away, Fred heard Cedric laugh.
Fred thought of George again. Could he give George encouragement, then? But somehow he knew it was impossible; Harry was just, like Tonks said (was he supposed to call her Tonks or Lupin? Fred never really understood that), a special case, and Fred would not resent him for it.
But was it alright to wish that his twin was dead too? Fred looked back into the depths of the lake. Hurry up, Georgie, he thought. 'M waiting for you. As though in response, the lake gave him a picture of George again, but this time he did not look like war and grief and hurt. The George the lake showed was older, and happier, and he held a child.
Angelina was in a bed beside Fred's twin, and she murmured, "George?"
"Yeah, Ange?" said Fred's brother.
Angelina grasped the newborn baby's hands. "I... I think he's a Fred, dear."
Fred grinned, watching the lake ripple once more.
AN: It's the middle of the night and mum's going to mad at me for being up late again, but anyway I read about a thousand afterlife stories and just had to do one of my own. Original, aren't I.
Truth and Lies is coming up soon, promise! Of course, that depends on how soon is soon...