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Chapter 1: Stay and Suffer
-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x- September 1, 2017-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-
"Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live."
George Weasley sat behind the counter of Weasley’s Wizarding Wheeze’s, staring off into space. His eyes became unfocused and his mouth sagged slightly. A few young kids passed by the shop window, only to be hustled along by their parents, who exchanged dark looks. The war had changed so many people’s lives, but George Weasley had a harder hit then most, and everyone knew that. It was rumored so often that old George was going crazy that it had become a known fact, as if a healer had really proved it. The children gasped whenever they saw his missing ear and found it a fantastic form of entertainment. But to the wise adults, George Weasley had lost his twin brother; his other half. He had lost the person that had known him inside and out; his best friend. Even nineteen years after the war, he never forgot.
How could he forget? It’s not easy to forget when a part of you dyes away. This wasn’t merrily a game, this was real life. Fred Weasley wouldn’t laugh his musical laugh anymore, or grin mischievously when he thought of something clever. Nor would he ever even breathe. He was truly gone and nothing anyone did could change that. George sighed deeply and returned his focus to the present. He looked around and his eyes involuntarily went to the door. He remembered, with a horrible jerk, of the day he and Fred had first walked into here. They had been so happy that day. They had promised each other to spend the rest of their lives selling jokes, together.
Fred and George had invented everything in this shop and made it out to be one of the best in Diagon Alley. Not even Zonko’s could compete, for Weasley’s Wizarding Wheeze’s was becoming very famous indeed. George remembered painfully of the time Fred had awoke him in the dead of night and announced they had officially become rich, business wizards. They couldn’t keep the joy inside, so they naturally woke everyone in the Burrow and told them this exciting news. George had caught Fred’s eye and they had both been so happy that they had embraced so tightly and vowed to keep their promise of being mischief makers for as long as they could.
The door jingled suddenly, cranking George from his reverie, and in came Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione. They all stared at George sympathetically as they walked towards him.
“How are you, George?” Ron asked, his voice deep, having grown considerably since that Fateful Night.
“Hullo. I’m good. How’re you guys?” George said flatly. The foursome shared surprised looks at the tone of George’s voice.
“We’re good. Just took the kids onto the Hogwarts Express.” Harry answered.
“Oh, sorry, I forgot that was today. Lost track of time, I suppose. Where are Lily and Hugo?” George asked. He had taken a great liking to all his nieces and nephews. Never once wasting time with teaching them pranks, he had won all of their deepest admiration.
Ginny answered this time, tying back her silky red hair in a long ponytail. “Dropped them off at Luna’s. Hunting for minked minkinskacks.”
George laughed but it didn’t reach his eyes, which looked hollow and dead.
“Err, George, is anything wrong?” Hermione asked nervously. He shot her a quizzical look.
“No. Can I get you lot some tea?” George asked. They nodded and he conjured up a teapot which automatically steamed. He served them all some and fell silent. Ron inspected and rattled his teacup and looked up at George.
“George, there is something wrong. This teacup isn’t one of those fake ones you’re always using on us.”
“So you want me to give you a teacup that changes into a skunk? Why didn’t you say so?” George asked, and grinned to show them there was nothing wrong. Unfortunately for him, they weren’t deceived.
“Please, this is serious. How are you really?” Ron asked his elder brother, resting his hand on his. “I think it’s about time you found a girl and settled down, mate.”
George shook his head. “I’m doing fine by myself, thanks. It’s just that I’ve…I’ve been thinking of s-sellingthejokeshop.” He said the last words quickly and then seemed surprised by his own words.
“Excuse me? Didn’t quite catch that…” Hermione said, her eyebrows arching up. George sighed and thought it best to tell them or he’d never hear the end of this.
“I’m thinking of selling this shop.” He said, motioning the store with a nod of his chin. They all gasped and began at once.
“That’s simply absurd-!”
“You’re kidding, right-?!”
“Guys, take it easy. I guess I didn’t really know myself until I said it…And we all know I’m too cowardly to do it anyway.” George responded, his eyes losing any light that was in there. The shop went dead quiet.
“You’re not cowardly, George. You lost your twin brother and you never once did anything stupid because of it. We’re proud of you.” Harry said quietly. The others nodded in unison.
George shook his head hopelessly, and to everyone’s amazement, he began to sob. Not the loud, whining ones, but the kind of sob that takes out all the pain and agony that had been held in the chest. The kind of sob which defines how hard a person has been holding on to reality, just to slip and fall until they let go completely. The kind of sob which cleanses the heart of any bad emotions and cleanses the brain of all the fog. George knew he had to follow his brain but his heart was telling him something else. Remember Fred.
“You guys never lost your other half! Fred was everything to me and without him I’m nothing! We thought the same thoughts, we learned the same things, and we even looked the same! We both learned to ride broomsticks together and when one of us got detention, we both did! We copied each others homework, we even bloody laughed at the same things! He was the last face I saw before bed and the first I saw in the morning! When I needed advice, he was always there! And we’ve helped each other through some rough times. Do you know what he last said to me? He said ‘we’re gonna win this war, George, I can feel it!’ Do you think he knew he was gonna die and leave me behind to try and collect the broken shards and piece them back together without any hope?!” George was screaming now, and his face matched his red hair. Tears leaked out of his eyes and anger such as he never felt before rose inside of him like a fire, and threatened to engulf his body. He was standing up, his eyes bulging slightly, and for the first time, they all noticed how he had changed.
George’s face held thin worry lines and laughter was gone from his words. His figure drooped and he no longer craved attention. On the contrary, he starved for isolation. His once lively brown eyes were now nothing more than brown dead orbs hanging onto his frail body. George’s weight had even gone down very much, and his once handsome appearance and stunning personality were now replaced with a weak body and a mild tongue. Even his red hair, despite his age, had gray streaks here and there.
With tears cascading down her own face and speaking in a rather strained voice, Ginny recovered first. “G-George, I’m s-so sorry. I-I-I didn’t re-realize how y-you felt.”
“No one ever knows how I feel. You can’t possibly compare.” George said softly, taking a seat behind the counter again and rubbing the tears away with the back of his hand.
“We’re here for you, George. We promise.” Harry said his voice hoarse, as if he was holding back tears. George stared at Harry and nodded.
“You know the other day Lee Jordan stopped by. He’s going to work in America from now on.” George said, obviously changing the subject. The rest obliged without complaint.
Ron cleared his throat. “Really, why would he do that?”
“You know, Angelina Johnson? Well, they got engaged. They want to start a new life.” George said. Then he paused and looked at Ron as if he had just seen him there. “Ron! I’ve been meaning to thank you for, you know, helping out with the shop after the war.”
This time, the shop went dead quiet as they all stared at George, open-mouthed. Not only had he already thanked Ron a million times for helping out, but he had never even mentioned the war in so many years. Every time someone came close to mentioning anything from the Fateful Night, he’d clear his throat loudly and space out. Never before had he made any indication towards the war happening at all.
“George, m-mum and d-dad have b-been worried about you. We all have been worried about you. If you want to t-talk about the…the war, just do it.” Ginny finally broke the silence.
George shook his head once more and stood up. He paced around the shop, thinking hard of his final decision. With the air of someone heading to the gallows, he turned to the people he loved. They were the people who had known how tight he and Fred were. They had to understand his decision; he couldn’t handle the growing agony spreading inside of him like a cancer.
“Guys, I’m not closing the shop, but it’s going out of business for a while. Lee offered me to accompany him and Angelina to America. I’ll go for a year and get my priorities sorted out.” George paused, thinking, and then gestured around the shop with his hand. “Harry, Ginny, tell James to take care of my shop during the summer. I daresay he’d love to take my place.”
“George, when will you leave?” Ginny whimpered.
George looked her straight in the eyes and smiled sadly. “I’ll be leaving tonight. Tell mum and dad I’ll be seeing them next Christmas. Don’t forget me.”
-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x- December 23, 2018x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-
“UNCLE GEORGE! OVER HERE!” James Potter yelled excitedly when he spotted his favorite uncle in the distance. “Mum, dad, he’s right there!”
Everyone’s head snapped to the right, where they saw George walking along hand in hand with a pretty blonde woman…holding a newborn baby. Molly Weasley and Arthur Weasley exchanged shocked looks. Ginny Potter’s and Harry Potter’s jaws dropped. Hermione Weasley and Ron Weasley choked on their drinks. They were all thinking the same thing, but it seemed so unreal. Who was that with George?
“Hello everyone!” George yelled. Several Muggles on the station turned to stare at him. As he neared the group, his family all saw with even more shock that the glimmer of mischief in his eyes had returned. “This is my wife Cloe and our son Fredrick Arthur.”
As soon as George finished this new announcement, Molly burst into tears of joy and went to embrace her son, his wife, and their newborn son. Everyone else stood transfixed, while the children all went to go give their uncle a hug. Then, all of a sudden, the Weasley and Potter family began to introduce themselves to Cloe, who had straight blonde hair and twinkling green eyes that seemed calming.
George pulled his father aside and whispered, excitedly “She’s even a muggleborn, dad! I was feeling a bit down when I got to America and I decided to visit a joke shop. She owned it dad, and we spent a good hour talking about different pranks. I’m so happy I found her.”
Arthur Weasley’s white beard quivered and when George looked into his fathers eyes, he saw tears. “G-George. You named the baby after your b-brother. You never forgot him, did you?”
George surprised his dad by grinning suddenly. “You know dad, I reckon if Fred’s watching us now, he’d be delighted. We promised each other to name our first sons after each other, and that’s just what I did.”
Molly Weasley emerged from the crowd around Cloe, looking proud. Her red hair was now starting to grow a tender white and as George watched her, a knot formed in his throat. She had cared so much for her kids throughout the years, and she had taken revenge that Fateful Night when she killed Bellatrix. George’s mind traveled steadily to when they were dragging Fred’s body into the Great Hall. Molly had refused to leave her son and George…well George had kneeled at his brothers body and began to sob harder than he ever had before.
George’s mind jerked to the present when James tapped his uncle’s shoulder. “Er, Uncle George, I don’t know how to say this but, err…your pants are ripped.”
While George looked down flabbergasted, James roared with laughter. “James, where’s the rip?”
“You fell for it!” James snickered. “You have gone sensitive.”
“Yeah? Well at least my fly isn’t undone.” George retorted, laughing.
James looked down and blushed. “That’s not fair! You did that by magic! I’ll get you yet! I took good care of your shop, by the way. I also took lots of jokes. I hid a puking pastille in Grandma’s pie and Albus didn’t stop vomiting all night. Then Grandma noticed me laughing and she yelled at me. Mind you, it was worth seeing Albus puke.”
George gazed at his nephew and smirked. He reminded him so much of himself, that it scared him sometimes. “So you’re saying you’ll hide puking pastilles in my pie? Well, James, I have a lot more jokes that not even you know about. Just keep your eyes peeled. After all, I’m full of surprises.”
-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x- Christmas 2018x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-
George Weasley woke with a start and looked around for the source of the noise. Beside him, baby Fred was sleeping innocently. On the other side of baby Fred, Cloe was also fast asleep. He got up gently, and looked out the window, to the dark, snowy night. Consulting his watch, he realized it was three in the morning and it was officially Christmas. He had an idea that the noise was probably James looking through the presents downstairs. Deciding to go send him to bed, or maybe help him open the presents secretly, he headed downstairs. But the Potter’s living room was empty.
George couldn’t go back to sleep anyway so he went into the kitchen, made himself some eggnog and sat in the dining room. In a few hours, Percy, his wife Penelope, and their two teenage kids, Page and Phil, would be coming. Charlie, his wife Lana, and their only child, Fabien would also be coming. And Bill, Fleur, and Victoire promised to drop by as soon as Teddy woke up (he slept late). Basically every Weasley (including Teddy Lupin) was coming here, to Harry and Ginny’s place. George felt warm yet empty, so with a lot of inner argument, he decided to do the thing he had promised himself never to do, so he wouldn’t get hurt, but he had too. He had dreamed of doing it since he went to America. Grabbing his jacket, putting on his dragon hide gloves and boots, he sighed and apparated to a Wizard Graveyard.
There was a whole section devoted to the Weasley family, and that’s where George walked confidently. His boots made crunching noises as he walked on the falling snow and the wind whistled violently. Finally, he saw Fred’s gravestone reaching for the dark sky. George felt a lurch in his stomach and felt as if he were reliving the funeral all over again. Seeing Fred’s smiling cold face had been outright torture. George sighed and sat down beside the gravestone. He didn’t say anything for an hour, just stared at the surrounding graves of his uncles, aunts, grandparents.
“I’m sorry I was an inconsiderate git all these years, Fred. I can’t believe I haven’t visited in twenty years.” George paused, thinking if he was insane to be talking to a grave, but decided to continue anyway. “I closed down the shop but I’m reopening it. My wife Cloe is a jokester too, and she has new and brilliant idea for the shop. Mind you, I can’t wait to find out. I also have a son now. I named him Fredrick Arthur and I’m gonna teach him everything.”
George swallowed the lump in his throat and realized that if he kept talking, he wouldn’t feel the aching cold that was dawning upon him. “You know, the day I officially closed down the shop, I felt selfish and evil for disrespecting your wishes. James, Harry and Ginny’s son, he took care of it for me during the summer holidays. Anyway, that day I was moving things around in the shop, I found that pendent you lost about twenty three years ago. Remember, the one we bought mum? The one that we thought got stolen? Yeah, well, I found it behind some old boxes. I mailed it to mum.” George paused again. “I forgot to ask if she got it. Any mention of your name and she turns into a hosepipe. ‘Course I can’t talk, because at the mention of your name and I feel helpless.”
George looked around and thought of how weird it would look if someone were to look into the graveyard. He was surrounded by many tombstones and his dark jacket camouflaged with Fred’s tombstone. Sitting on the snow, he felt his butt grow wetter and colder by every second but he didn’t care much. Snow was falling down and the whole thing looked like a Christmas card. Except in Christmas cards, people are happy. George was anything but happy.
“I miss you, Fred. When you died, nothing felt the same again. Of course, I wouldn’t let anyone move around your stuff at our place. I still live above our shop, and your beds still there. I might have to make a few changes now that I’m married, but not too much.” George sighed. “I hate changes. I’ve hated them ever since you left us. Everything’s so different, you know? I thought for sure we would die together. I hoped we’d die together. I mean, we came into this world together, we lived through it together, and we should die together.”
Suddenly, tears began falling from Georges eyes into his fists. When the cold winter air hit the tears, they froze on his face. He didn’t say anything and didn’t stop the tears; just let them flow for his greatly missed brother. The dark sky slowly began to turn shades of pink and orange, and the snow eventually stopped falling. George sat for a long time, until the sun began to rise completely. He stood up, stumbling, and smiled through the frozen tears.
“I promise to visit more from now on. I may be the world’s biggest jerk, but that can change as fast as we sold our Nosebleed Nougats. I won’t forget you ever, Fred. You’re the best brother I’ve ever had, and don’t ever think I’ll change my mind.” George sighed deeply, and apparated before he began to cry again. But the moment he was being jerked away he though he saw a cloud shaped like Fred smiling. Now I’m going crazy.
As soon as he got home, or rather Harry and Ginny’s house, his mood changed abruptly. The curtains were wide open and he could see his whole family in there opening presents, laughing, hugging, and acting…like family should act. Not a soul looked sad; on the contrary, they looked like they were having the times of their lives.
“George! George, dear, where were you? We were so worried!” Molly Weasley said running through the snow towards her son. She noticed his tears and she automatically knew where he was. “George, honey, we understand.”
George looked at his mother and smiled through the tears. “You can’t possibly understand, mum. Besides, it’s not like Fred isn’t with us. He’ll always be with us. As long as we don’t forget him, he’ll live inside of us forever.” Then without warning, George picked up his mother easily, as though she was a pillow, and carried her to the house, ignoring her protests.
Fred’s death wouldn’t be forgotten. He had died trying to protect everyone, and died laughing. Sure it was quick but Fred would have wanted the last thing he did was to laugh. And that’s just how it happened. Everyone was proud of him and somewhere Fred was looking down at them, making jokes with a fellow angel about how Percy had a ‘call me an elf’ sign on his back courtesy of his nephews Phil and James. As long as they lived their lives, remembering Fred, everything would be okay.
A/N: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, if you've read it, just take a minute, or even a second, or even maybe a nanosecond, to leave a review. i'd appreciate it a lottt! :] and it wouldnt hurt, now would it? like it, hate it, ?? REVIEWWW! :D thanks!