*sniff* What a beautiful eulogy for Fred. You know, I don't really read stories written in the second-person, and even too many references to "you"--such as in this story--irritates me usually. It didn't here, though. I felt like I was being granted the honor to listen in on a very private, intimate conversation.
I didn't quite feel the emotions myself, so I'm not sure I would describe this as an absolutely wrenching story. However, Percy's pain was broadcast loud and clear, so this obviously was wretched for him.
It was Fred who was the first to shake his hand or hug him or whatever in the Room of Requirement, wasn't it? (Maybe George. But I think Fred.) So in a way, Fred was the first to officially welcome him back into the family. And then he dies. I wonder if Percy ever felt he'd taken Fred's place in the family when he came back, if he felt that the Weasley family size had already shrunken to eight, and when he came back, someone else had to go to make room for him.
Ah, well, now I'm speculating a bit beyond the bounds of your story. It was beautifully written, though very heavy and sad. :-(
Author's Response: You know, I got a little worried when I realized you were reviewing my old stories, because there are a few of my older fics that I'm really not that proud of - I think I've improved quite a bit over the past year. But this story is one that I still like, and it still holds a special place in my heart, so I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it!
I'm a bit wary of second person as well. I think I'd like to try writing in true second person someday - I've done a few stories like this, where it seems like second person but is actually a character speaking in the first person and addressing another character, but I'd like to try my hand at second person just to see how it works out. It would probably be rubbish, but you can't sink all your shots, can you? :-)
I see what you mean, about you as the reader not really getting the full force of the emotions. That said, I really jumped for joy when I read that you felt you were listening in on an intimate conversation - that's exactly what I was going for. I really wanted it to be about Percy's emotions (not least of all, to prove that he actually has them!!)
I grabbed my copy of DH and looked it up, and, by golly, it was Fred who shook Percy's hand first (after calling him a "Ministry-loving, family-disowning, power-hungry moron"). I'm sure JKR must have done that intentionally. It's actually interesting - having re-read the books a couple of times, I've come to the conclusion that Fred was what is often called the "dominant twin." So that might have something to do with him being the first to welcome Percy back as well.
I think you make an interesting point, about how Percy might have looked at the family as having already shrunk to 8. I imagine he must have felt quite awkward, trying to figure out how to fit himself back into the family dynamic. You've really got the wheels turning in my head now! You make a poignant observation.
Thank you again for the review!