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Chapter 1: The soup
“Don’t you dare put that in my soup!”
George Weasley paused; hand over the simmering saucepan of leek and potato liquid. At hearing this shriek, a cheeky, but hopeful grin spread over his face.
He spun round to look at the doorway, where a firm woman stood with her hands on her hips and her apron on. Her eyes were narrowed, and she was gripping her spoon, as if she wasn’t afraid to use it. Unfortunately, George didn’t doubt that she would, if the occasion arose.
“Open your hand.”
Reluctantly, George showed her what was in it. It was a handful of, what looked like, pepper granules.
To any normal person, this would have been curious; why was this woman getting so cross about the man who had only wanted to put pepper in her soup? But anyone who knew the pair would realise what was going on.
This was the home of George Weasley and Angelina Johnson, the former being one of the greatest practical jokes inventors the world had ever seen.
“A new invention?” Angelina asked, her voice curiously light. However, the male sensed the danger in it, and moves away from the cooker.
“Flavour enhancing pellets.” He invented, quickly and wildly, not entirely sure if the product existed. “Very handy in the kitchen.”
“George Fabian Weasley that is the biggest lie I’ve ever heard.” She paused, “Good idea though. Might wanna write that down.”
But her strangely approving voice only stayed for a moment, and she then moved into the kitchen, slowly, holding her damp spoon [she’d only gone across the hall to answer a fire call] like a weapon. Backing away to the kitchen door, the redheaded twin tried to look guilty.
“Look, Ange, now. C’mon-”
“Don’t try and hush it up – What. Are. Those?” She punctuated every word with a flick of her spoon. Knowing he wouldn’t have time to get out the back door before Angelina had her want out, George quickly tried to think up something to distract her.
“Hey!” He said, brightly, “Heard from your mother today – she wrote a letter and the owl left it on the kitchen table. She sounds well. Apart from that disagreement she had with the milkman about the exploding bottles. Now she has to go out to the shops to buy it every morning, just to know it’s safe. Tragic, really.”
He could see almost instantly that this wasn’t working, so tried another approach.
“Um, y’know that order at ’Wheezes I was going on about? I better check if that’s- uh, um…”
He tailed off into pathetic silence as Angelina just raised an eyebrow at him, not even considering believing George’s hasty tales.
“What are the pellets, Weasley?”
“They’re ‘none-of-your-business’ pellets, Johnson.”
After a good long stare from Ange, George finally muttered,
“Look, I’m sorry about the exploding milk bottles – I thought your mother would find them funny! I had no idea she’d call in the muggle bomb squad-”
“I don’t care about that.” The dark-haired girl replied. “What are the pellets?”
“They’re an experiment.” George said, somewhat reluctantly. “I can’t explain them – Top Secret.”
“So what are they doing in my kitchen?” Angelina hissed, poking George’s chest with her wooden spoon.
“It’s not just yours!” George said quickly, seeing a way out. “It’s mine too! So I really have the right to experiment-”
“NOT IN THE KITCHEN!”
Finally, after a few moments silence, George finally gave in. It was wrong of him to experiment in the kitchen; especially in the dinner.
“Sorry.” He mumbled.
Suddenly, Angelina’s face lost all its anger, and instead filled with sorrow.
“I shouldn’t be shouting,” She said, backing away from George quickly, heading over towards the cooker again. “You were just experimenting, I didn’t-”
“Angelina.” George’s voice silences hers, the deep rumble of it echoing around their kitchen. They both knew exactly what had made Angelina stop. It was haunting them both.
George looked much less alive than he had two minutes before; half dead, almost. He’d grown a decade in ten seconds, is eyes drooping and not bothering to stand as tall.
Slowly, he made his way over to Angeline, who was trying hard to compose herself. When he finally stopped, just behind her, then she spoke; soup long forgotten, even though she was facing the cooker.
“Every day,” Angelina started, quietly, “I see him in you. I know that sounds ridiculous, you were twins for Gods sakes! But it’s still so weird. To know…”
She used her apron to wipe her face.
“Ange…” George went to put his hand on her shoulder, but she moves away from the cooker beore he could touch her.
“I’m being ridiculous. I’m sorry – eat the soup, I’ll just, um, get an early nigh-”
“Angelina we can’t just hush over it.”
His voice was quiet but it was enough. The kitchen was usually warm and inviting with the honey-coloured wood table and worktops, and something always cooking. But in the past minute it had started to suffocate them both, the memories of George’s other half.
All the summers and Hogwarts, the Christmas holidays, they Hogsmeade trips - even the regular lessons, were floating around their minds. Everyone had tried to forget, but it was just too difficult. He was too memorable. Everyone had known his name, had known him. But everyone had grieved; he had always been the more likable of the two twins, saying hello first of being the one to strike up a conversation. And it had always been Fred and George. Never George and Fred – it didn’t sound right.
Even strangers who came into the shop had pity in their eyes; a horrid, judging pity that George hated. Like everyone thought he was a hopeless soul that needed taking care of. He’d grown up now.
But somehow the wound still stung.
It had taken months to get out of the Burrow. In fact, it had taken almost two to get out of his bedroom, and that had been because of the temptation of food and the fact it was Harry’s birthday.
He would never stop owing the Boy Who Lived. Even though he’d blamed him for Fred’s death at first, a harsh slap from Ginny had brought him back down to Earth. He could never stop owing the person that was responsible for the lives of the entire world. Thanks to him, eight out of nine Weasleys were still alive, and that was an incredible amount compared to other families.
“I still catch Mum staring at me.” George said, suddenly wanting to let his feelings out. “She thinks I don’t notice but…”
The redhead took a deep breath, about to indulge something he’d never said before.
“Ange, I’m guilty I didn’t die that day.”
Her eyes snapped up to meet his, knowing that this was something he’d never talked about before.
“But George, it wasn’t your-”
“I know it wasn’t my fault,” George was slightly angry that Angelina had automatically jumped to this conclusion. He thought she was different. “But I still feel guilty. He had so much more to live for than I did! He was the better twin, and he shouldn’t have died.”
Suddenly, Angelina took a few large strides over the kitchen floor and slapped George hard across the cheek.
“Don’t you dare,” She hissed, her eyes alive with anger, “say he was the better twin.”
But George merely stared at her. Why couldn’t she see? He had had nothing to live for. Maybe his family and a few close friends but Fred had so much more. He had his family, he had so many people who he called his friends, he had Quidditch, which he absolutely adored, the business which he’d thrown himself into, and George could honestly say he never lived life like George did.
And what’s more, Fred was afraid of the death that awaited him. Afraid like George never had been. The night before the battle, when the rumours of Harry Potter were still rumours, when there wasn’t any hope nearby to scrounge off, when You-Know-Who was at his strongest – it was on this night that Fred cracked.
George had tried to forget the conversation, but parts of it still came to the front of his mind. Fred’s pasty face and wild eyes, his nervous stuttering…
“George… When you joined the Order, were you…” Fred visibly swallowed. “Did you know something like this… that it was gonna happen?”
“Well, I imagined we’d have comfier sleeping arrangements,” George tried, pathetically, to cheer him up, “but I guess we all knew something like this was coming; a showdown of sorts.”
“Are you- I mean, are-?”
“Oi, Fred!” Lee Jordan’s voice called from a few metres away, but quietly. If being in there had taught them something, it was how to be quiet. None of them knew whether there was a silencing charm, of sorts, on the room, and no-one really wanted to test it. “Fancy a game of Exploding Snap?”
Fred shook his head, “Maybe later, Lee.”
“George?” The tired boy said, hopefully, but George had shaken his head also. Grumbling slightly, Lee went to go and sit with Alicia, who was changing the colour of her hair with her wand.
There had been silence between the pair for a minute or so as they both listened to everyone around them. But just as George was about to go and offer the guy on the radio a break, Fred blurted out.
“Are you afraid of dying, George?”
George froze. It wasn’t the question he was expecting.
“I-” He paused. Was he? “I suppose. Are… Are you?”
Fred put his head in his hands. He couldn’t take it anymore.
“Yeah... I’m absolutely terrified.”
And then it went fuzzy. George had completely phased it out of his brain because he didn’t want to go through it again. It was too painful.
“George?” Angelina’s voice broke into his thoughts. She hadn’t moved from when she had slapped him, her eyes looking up into his.
Deep thoughts were flitting through her brain - that much, George could tell. Maybe she too was thinking about all the times she’d spent with Fred. They’d certainly spent a while together after the Triwizard Ball. But then they went back to just being friends, which no-one ever really understood. Had there been a relationship in the first place?
“George?” Angelina asked again, a little more urgently. “I… I have something to say.”
He looked back down at her, and slowly took her hands, which were resting on his chest.
“We must talk about him every day, you hear me?”
“I-” Angelina looked torn, but George held onto her hands.
“Every day. About who he was, and the way he spoke, and just him, okay?”
Angelina swallowed. She knew that she had to tell him but she couldn’t. Her fists lay in balls on his chest from their spat earlier. His eyes were looking straight into hers.
“Every day.” She confirmed.
At this, George relaxed. He knew that they had to talk. They needed to keep his memory alive.
“George,” Angelina uncurled her fists, taking a step back. She was gathering her courage for what she had to do. “I-, I’m pregnant.”
Silence hung in the kitchen, filling out into all the nooks and crannies, expanding quicker than Angelina thought possible. But that wasn’t what she was focused on.
The man in front of her was wearing a mask, and she wanted to do was take it off and see his reaction. Would he be happy that he was bringing another child into the world? Or would he be angry that he let it happen? Angelina knew everything about the baby, the due date, the gender, how heavy it was expected to be; but did he even care?
He took a deep breath, and Angelina noticed his knuckles were white from holding onto the top of the chair so hard. The dark-haired girl started to shake slightly. He didn’t want it.
“His- Your birthday.”
She licked her lips, nervous as hell. Should she just apparate over to Alicia’s? Then get Katie round and they could all talk about it and cry on each other’s shoulders. Well, Angelina crying on their shoulders but they were free to join in if they liked.
“George, I’m just going-”
Shocked, Angelina looked up. A strangely boyish grin was spreading across his face.
“I-, seriously Ange, this is…”
A bubble of hope burst up inside them both. A child. They were bringing a child into the world.
Suddenly, George let out a yelp of joy and ran at Angelina, startling her slightly. The wooden spoon lay left on the floor, and Angelina realised that she must have taken more steps back than she realised, as George jumped over it and barrelled at her, throwing her over his shoulder and spinning her round and round the kitchen until their laughs filled the whole house.
It stayed that way for many years. When Fred II was born, the laughter increased tenfold. Then they moved out of the small family home and into a bigger one, where Roxanne grew up. But when the pair’s ages finally clashed, and they both went to Hogwarts together, no-one was sad. The memory of them and everyone in their family kept them alive, kept them happy.
And Fred’s memory was never forgotten. True to their word, Angelina and George mentioned him at least once a day – eventually encouraging the rest of the Weasleys to do the same. He died a noble hero, and was remembered for generations.