Chapter 1 : Hey, Fred
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A/N: Thank you so much to everyone for the support and the amazing reviews! I know I take forever to respond but I appreciate every single one. Winning the Dobby meant so much to me and without all of you, that would have never happened. It's incredibly touching that even now there are still people reading this; thank you again!
a one-shot for our beloved Weasley twins
“Exciting night, isn’t it? Bets on how long they're going to last against us...?”
Those were the last words he ever heard from his twin. He didn’t know it then, but that was the last time he’d ever see him alive.
He said it in the Room of Requirement, and after that they were out in the castle and spells were all around them and bodies surrounded them and they didn’t know which way to turn, which way meant death and which way led to momentary relief, before they were submerged in the battle once again. And it was in one of these moments that his twin made the wrong turn, and was lost forever. Before he knew it, Fred was gone, running in a different direction. And the tide of battle pulled George away so that he couldn’t follow them. His head suddenly filled with terrible thoughts, his heart pounded, his hands grew unsteady. And before he could react, he was pushed back against a wall by some bright light and he ducked before the source sent another jet at him. And then it was battle again – screams and yells rose up, flying bodies and brilliantly colored spells cut the air. And he ran, ran in the direction his twin had gone. He couldn’t tell friend from enemy, Dark spell from jinx and hex in the colorful twilight that was battle.
And then he could not go on, for there was a pain in his head unlike anything he had ever felt in his life, a pain that ripped and pulled at his soul, tearing it out of him and cutting it into little screaming pieces as he saw in his mind, halfway across the castle, a wall collapsing in the background as his twin brother fell.
“It’s been a week, Fred. A whole week. I’ve never gone so long without talking to you. I mean, I’m talking to you now, but you’re not saying anything back. I know you’re listening, I know it. I can feel it. But I hate that you can’t say anything back. I’ve never had to do this before. I’ve never had to be alone. I don’t know how to be alone, Fred! I can’t do it! How could you just – just leave me here? How could you? Don’t you care at all? Don’t you care?”
“I’m sorry I yelled at you, Fred. Sorry I ran away. I just got so mad. I don’t understand why. There’s a lot of things I don’t understand anymore. Life is so different now. Why did you leave? Could you just tell me that? If there’s one thing you ever do for me again, just tell me that. Why did you have to leave me here all alone?”
“Yesterday was your funeral, Fred. I’m not going to tell you about it. It’d be too painful. Anyway, I know you were there. Did you see me cry, Fred? I haven’t cried since we were three, and Charlie gave you chocolate and not me until I realized you’d taken both.
“Now I have a grave to visit every day. Before, we talked in our room. Now I’m sitting by your grave, Fred. What a horrible word. I’ve never had to think of you and a grave together. It just doesn’t fit. Nothing fits.”
“I talked to Harry this morning. Do you remember him? Harry Potter. He told me about Sirius. How he dealt with it. He told me what Nearly Headless Nick – you remember him too, right? – what Nick told him about ghosts. I don’t think you’ll ever come back, Fred. I think you’ve gone on. You’re not the kind of person to be afraid of death. Hell, you aren’t the kind of person to be afraid of anything. That’s something I’ve always admired in you, Fred. You, you were never scared of anything. D’you remember how they used to say that I was always the more sensible one? Well, not that either of us were exactly sensible, but I was a tiny bit of a fraction more sensible than you. Just by a little bit. But they did, Fred – that’s what they said. And I’m not like you – I’m scared. I’m scared to go on without you. I’ve never had to be alone before.”
“Here are some flowers for you, Fred. From Hermione and Ginny. D’you like them? I’ll plant them here, beside this tree. That way they’ll get lots of sunlight… How’s that, Fred?
“Lee Jordan visited today. We… we talked a bit about the shop. I’m glad he thought to close it and put a sign on the door. A sign about you. I bet they already know, though. Any great Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes shopper knows. Hell, I bet everyone in the Wizarding World knows. How does it feel, Fred? How does it feel to be famous?”
Slowly the leaves turn brown and fall. The autumn breezes carry them gently to the ground as the sky darkens each day, as the sun hides more often. And soon the storms come, and it rains, driving icy waters and snow onto the ground, onto the grave. But still he comes, every day, to visit his twin brother.
“Hey, Fred. Happy Christmas. This is our first Christmas apart. I still got you a few things, though. Mum didn’t make you a sweater this year, so I tried. Here – it looks more like a blob of cloth, though. But I think the F has a little shape – at least we won’t forget we’re called Gred and Forge, eh? I’ll just put it right here, shall I? And here’s some chocolate frogs, and some Bertie Botts as well. I also got you a candle and scarf, hat and gloves, just in case it gets cold up where you are. I know I’m freezing. Come summer I’ll probably get you some new shoes – you know, like the ones we used to wear to the river every summer. Your old ones will be a bit too small by now – I know mine were a bit squishy this year. Let me know if you need anything else.”
“How’s that sweater, Fred? Warm enough up there? Brr… I’m freezing to death down here.
“You missed a great Christmas dinner. Mum made that roast chicken stuff that you always loved. I tried to sneak some away for you, but Mum caught me. You can imagine what happened…
“I think I’m going to return to the shop after New Year. I’ve been getting the feeling you want me to – you do, don’t you? I think I’ll hire Lee. Haha, feels weird to be saying I’ll hire him. Should I pay him? Well, if I don’t, it’d be kind of rude, huh? Yeah, I’ll hire him. And I need someone to keep the back rooms clean too. You know what – I’ll have him do that. He’s gonna hate me… Nah, d’you know what, I’ll have him help me invent stuff. Well, we’ll figure something out. Let me know if you have any ideas.
“Remember all that junk we left in our old room at the Burrow? And that little punching telescope that gave Hermione a black eye a while ago? I think I’ll take it all to the shop and work on it. I’ll bring some of it back sometime to show you.
“Gotta go. See you, Fred.”
“Hey. How’re you doing, Fred? Good? I’m good too. I’ve just been thinking…
“Lupin and Tonks didn’t make it either. Did I tell you that? They both left, too. I’m not gonna call it ‘died’ because none of you did die - not you, or them, Colin Creevey, or even Snape. He turned out to be good, did you know that? Really, he was. If you see him up there anywhere, let him know that Harry’s sorry, okay? You guys just left a bit ahead of us, you know. We’ll catch up. Someday…”
“Happy New Year, Fred.
“It’s cold. D’you mind if I borrow your sweater? Thanks.
“I think I’ll go back to the shop tomorrow. Think that’s a good idea? I’ve been packing up all our old stuff to take over. I think Mum’s gonna be mad when I tell her I’m moving back to the flat up above the shop. She’s been insisting that we all stay at the Burrow – everyone who’s not at school or in St. Mungo’s has been here since June. Even Bill and Fleur are here. Hey – guess what? Fleur’s pregnant. We just found out last night. Mum’s gone insane. Not letting her out of the house. Remember how much they used to argue? Now it’s like Fleur’s Mum’s new baby. You’d think Ginny’d be going ballistic, but she’s pretty calm about it. She’s spending a lot of time in the village with Harry. Wonder what they’re doing. She’s due back at Hogwarts next week. Honestly, I’m a bit surprised they reopened it for this year – half the school’s still laying in ruins. And remember ol’ Loony Lovegood? Ginny said she was thinking of applying for Care of Magical Creatures teacher once Hagrid retired. Imagine that, Fred! I think I’d go to one of those classes, just to see what she comes up with.
“I think I’d better go home now. Mum will be making lunch. See you tomorrow, Fred.”
Again the seasons start to change. The snow melts slowly, creating little flowing rivers. The sun shines warmly, melting the blanket of ice that covers everything. Green grass pokes up between the last pools of melted snow, flowers rise and grow. Trees bloom bright and colorful in the sunlight that is spring. The graveyard grows beautiful and warm, awoken each morning by the twittering of birds and put to sleep every night as the sun gives way to the moon. And still he comes, every day, to visit his twin brother.
“The customers are quiet. They give me weird looks, Fred. It’s like I’m some different species to be gawked at in a museum. I don’t feel any different. There’s nothing about me that’s not like it always was. Unless I have a purple face and three orange horns, like Loony Lovegood’s Backsports or whatever they are. It’s hard to do everything myself. I think I’ll hire Lee.”
“Ron and Hermione are going out now, did I tell you? Something about basilisk fangs and house-elves. Anyway, they came to the shop today. Apparently, I’m wandering around the shop like a ghost while Lee takes care of everything. No wonder people are giving me weird looks. I think I’ll try being more helpful tomorrow. Sorry, Fred. I didn’t realize. I feel so lost in there – it seems a lot bigger. I didn’t get around to inventing either – it was hard enough walking into our old bedroom without you, I couldn’t bear to open that door to our inventing room as well.
“I’ll try tomorrow though. I swear I will. I’ll go in there, and… I dunno. The boxes are standing out in the hall right now. I’ll put them in there tomorrow. I swear I will.”
“Oh god, Fred. Oh god. I can’t go in there. It’s still all messy from our last experiment – you know, the one with the frog? I totally forgot about it. Well, the frog died – it smells horrible. And that potion we were inventing? It exploded or something. I have never seen anything as messy.
“I’ll devote tomorrow to cleaning it up. And the day after that, I’ll invent something.”
“Happy birthday, Fred. Everyone was so sad this morning. I don’t understand why – it’s our birthday, so why not be happy about it and celebrate? I tried to explain that to them, but no one understood. Ginny sent some flowers for you, and included a note from Loony Lovegood for me to go pick some Elemeisterdoodles from the edge of the rivers. D’you know what Elemeisterdoodles are? I have no idea. She wrote that they’ll help with loneliness or something. I dunno why though – I’m not exactly lonely, am I? I’ve got you. Anyway, here’s some chocolate from me. Somehow, no one seems to remember you’re here too – I’m getting all the presents and you’re not getting anything. Unfair, isn’t it? Well, I’ll go try to sneak some birthday cake for you. See ya, Fred.”
The sun shines down on the graveyard. Flowers are in full bloom now, and a warm little river flows just outside the gate, creating a soft splattering sound in the background. A large oak tree stands by the fence, branches spread wide, casting a few feet of shade and protection from the hot sun. Little paths of trampled grass create a criss-crossed pattern on the ground. Birds twitter happily in the distance, ignorant of the dark cloud of death that poisons the air all around. It’s hot now, summer. And still he comes, every day, to visit his twin brother.
“Hey, Fred. You know how I said I’d clean the back room? I’m still not done. Crazy, huh? I decided to clean the whole thing out, so that’s why it’s taking so long. I found a lot of stuff that we’ve been looking for forever – remember the Latin book we lost ages ago? It was behind the filing cabinet. Haha, now I’m gonna have to do that research that we were arguing over who should do it. You’d have a tough time with it, huh? Unless there’s a Latin professor up there somewhere.
“You know, we really should ask Professor McGonagall to introduce a Latin class at Hogwarts. Most of the spells are based in Latin anyway – it would provide a much better understanding of magic to all those little students.
“Remember when we were just two of those little midgets going into their first year at Hogwarts? Remember how good life used to be? I wish it was still like that. Maybe it will be like that again, some day in the future when I come up to wherever you are.”
“I started working on that one project we started a few months back. The one we needed the Latin book for. Remember that? I thought I’d change it up a bit – instead of it being a long-term shield against jinxes and hexes, I thought I’d try something a little bigger – a shield against the Unforgivables.
“I know they say there’s no countercurse for any of them, but Harry, he survived, didn’t he? Twice! So it’s got to be possible somehow. And they did say, didn’t they, in History of Magic, that those kinds of curses could never be created, and now here we are, proven wrong? Why can’t that happen again? I know I can do this, Fred. I know I can.”
“The shop’s pretty busy again. I introduced the basilisk candies that we developed a while ago, and they’re a huge success. Obviously I modified them some – the spell lasts one minute now, instead of forever. Everyone loves them – I heard from Ginny that people are falling over paralyzed all over Hogwarts. Lee’s proving to be a big help too – bigger than you ever were. Nah, only joking, ol’ Freddie. No one could ever replace you.
“I researched the Unforgivables a bit too. Lee wanted to know why I was shutting myself up in that room so much, but I didn’t say. It’ll be our secret for now, okay? And when we come out with it… oh, I can just imagine everyone’s reactions…
“Some updates on everyone else. Ron and Hermione are still together. Ginny complained in her last letter how boring it is at Hogwarts without them. Harry just got into an Auror school – he’ll be going next fall. He seemed a bit nervous about it – something about loosing his wand. Dunno why that’s such a big deal. He’s staying at the Burrow ‘till then. Bill and Fleur are too – they’re not allowed to go ‘till the baby’s born, which should be soon. I think Mum still wants more company ‘round the house. Oh, and Percy’s there too – he came back. Kingsley Shackelbolt’s minister right now, and Percy’s his assistant. He’s changed lots – he isn’t all that much of a prat anymore. I think seeing you… seeing you leave knocked some sense into him. Thanks, Fred. Thanks for everything.”
The sun sets behind a ridge of clouds on the horizon. It casts a blood-red light across the gravestones, creating long, dark shadows across the fading grass. Leaves drift slowly from the oak tree, getting caught in the autumn breeze. They twirl around each other, performing little dances in the evening twilight. Soft winds blow through the graveyard, rustling across the dead leaves littering over the ground. He no longer comes every day – sometimes he skips a few days here and there. And after a while of this, he only comes once a week to visit his twin brother.
“Hi, Fred. How’re you doing? Sorry I’m not coming so much anymore. The shop’s taking up a lot of my time, and I have to babysit Victoire too… Oh yeah, Bill and Fleur’s daughter was born a few weeks ago. Victoire. Charlie came over from Romania to visit because of it. Hey – we’re uncles, Fred! Haha, that sounds funny. Should I tell her hi from Uncle Freddie? Haha, I will.
“Lee and I have invented some new things. I brought you a few – here you go. It’s just a big bag of stuff we’ve done. There’s that punching telescope in there, modified a bit. And some more candies. We also developed some more Muggle card tricks. The Ministry’s still putting in huge orders for our defense line. We also decided to create a line of specials only for the exclusive members. That’s where the really special stuff is. We even want to develop copies of the Marauder’s Map, if that’s possible. We’re still debating about that one though – I’m still pretty firm on the fact that it’s special and shouldn’t just be duplicated and sold. But Lee likes the idea of selling copies – it’d sell pretty fast. My main argument right now, though, is that none of the original creators are around to give us permission. You do know, don’t you – we knew all of them. And all four are up there with you right now – Moony was Lupin, Wormtail was Peter Pettigrew, Padfoot was Sirius, and Prongs was James Potter. It’s sad to think – the four of them were such good friends once, and it was all because of Pettigrew’s fault that we’re here today, like this.”
“I think I forgot to tell you about the Unforgivables Project last time. Well, it’s coming along nicely. I’ve been testing on snails. I’m obviously not going to use people, and I’m a bit hesitant about frogs now too. I already found a bit for the Imperius Curse – it’s really only a sort of help in keeping your mind clear. I used what Moody taught us in sixth – how you have to resist it and stuff? Well, I took that and I’m trying to create a powerful charm that’ll strengthen your mind in that kind of thing. I think I’m going to bring Harry in and ask him for help on it, since he can resist it so well. We’ll see what I can come up with.
“That’s pretty much all for now – Ginny graduated from Hogwarts in June, Harry left for Auror school last month, and Ron and Hermione are still together. I think they’re going to announce their engagement any day now. And Harry said something about Neville Longbottom and Hannah Abbott getting married in the spring. Remember them? From Dumbledore’s Army. Oh yeah – Ginny and Luna kept it going all of last year. They had a good Defense teacher, but the got permission from McGonagall to keep it going as an extracurricular club. I think it’s still going on now, too.
“You know what I said about introducing a Latin class? I think I’ll discuss it with Hermione. She’d be a big help.
“See you, Fred. If I don’t come for a while, I’m sorry. The shop’s taking up a lot of time lately. I’ll just stay longer and talk more, haha…”
“Harry and I have been working on weekends to perfect the Imperius Shield. We’re really close to getting it right, and it’s working so well. He’s been a huge help, and once this is done, I swear I’ll bring him here and we can show you. I brought a few of our notes today though – here are some of the diagrams. They aren’t going to make much sense, I don’t think, but the idea does – this one’s a diagram of the mind, showing what processes go on where and how to manipulate and disrupt them. It’s been really difficult to get here – a lot of research involved. But it’s working. Lee’s beginning to get really curious, but still, I’m not telling him. I swear I’ll tell him once the Imperius Shield is done, though.”
“Hermione and I talked to McGonagall yesterday. She was a bit iffy about starting a whole class on it, since once you learn what magic is based in, you could create any spells you like, and that could be a problem with Snape- and Voldemort-like students. So she said we could create a club focused around it, and to join, the students would need a signed permission slip from all of their teachers, their Head of House, and the Headmistress. Just to ensure safety, you know. And Hermione will be teaching it every weekend. I think it’s going to work out great.
“It’s exam time for Harry, so he can’t come on the weekends. I’ve been working a bit on the others while he’s away, but I haven’t really come up with anything. We’ll see, though. It took a while for the Imperius shield to get started, but once it did, it’s really been taking off.
“Remember Angelina? From the Quidditch team? She's been traveling since... since you left. I think she was finding it hard to deal with it. She's back now, and she's staying with us. She's not herself. I'll tell her hi from you, eh? Maybe she'll feel better then.”
Winter melts into spring, and spring into summer. Summer passes too, and it is autumn once again. The oak tree by the fence grows ever larger, the graves ever more mossy. Less paths are visible between the neat rows, and the flowers planted on the graves slowly die out from a lack of human care. Ivy grows across the gate and fence, and the graveyard acquires a slightly haunted look. People don’t wander this way anymore. Neither does he. He only comes once a month now. And as time passes, he comes only once a year, on his birthday mostly, to visit his twin brother.
“Happy Birthday, Fred. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Sorry I’m not really coming anymore. The shop’s busy, as always. The Imperius Shield is completely done now, but we haven’t released it yet. I told Lee a while back what we were doing, and the next morning I woke up to find huge posters out front – Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes is developing their most important product yet! We won’t reveal quite what it is yet, but we will say that it’s unlike anything ever seen before. Stay tuned for more information. Or something to that effect. It’s certainly bringing in more business. We’ve decided that we’re releasing the Imperius shield this time next year. That way we’ll have time to work on the other two parts of the project as well.
“Oh! Did I tell you what I discovered for the Cruciatus Curse? I don’t think I did… Anyway, I thought we aught to reduce the pain in this one, but I discovered that, just like with the Imperius Curse, it’s all in your head. It’s really weird, but it’s all based on your mind – you’re not feeling any pain at all. It’s a psychological thing. So we’re thinking about doing something to the same effect of the Imperius Shield, only instead of helping you clear your mind, it would just block attacks on your brain. Well, it could work for the Imperius curse as well then, couldn’t it? Nah, but I think the Imperius Shield would be safer and foolproof for the actual Imperius Curse. We’ll see. I’ll keep you updated, okay?
“Remember what I said about Angelina? She's decided to work with us as well. She's a great help. I think she's getting attached to us, and to the shop. I think we can help her get over it. She was really depressed in the beginning, not eating or talking. I wonder how she survived those years before she came here. You know, she loved you.”
“We released both of them last week. Both shields. We changed our pan a bit though – instead of releasing them to the general public, we’re releasing them only to the Ministry. That way, they have even more protection for when they round up those last few free Death Eaters.
“And even though I think it’s pretty impossible, I think I’m still going to try a shield for the Avada Kedavra. It’d finish it all off nicely, don’t you think? Yeah, it would. I dunno how we could go about that though – I’m pretty sure that one isn’t only in your mind. Maybe something to cancel out the magic entirely? I dunno yet. We’ll see.
“It’s been pretty crazy. The Daily Prophet wants to interview me after they’ve seen the Shields in action. Everyone’s going absolutely ballistic. I guess I can understand that though – no one’s ever managed to create a shield against the Unforgivables. I guess it just takes a team like you and me to whip up an idea like that, though, eh?”
“Angelina surprised me yesterday. She said that she'd been thinking... about you, and me, and us, and she thought that I was helping her get over it all, move on past everything. She's improved loads. I see her smile so much more - she's more like the happy, beautiful girl we always knew at Hogwarts. I've missed that side of her. Thank you, Fred, thank you for not taking that part of her with you when you left.
“No news yet on the Avada Kedavra Project, although Harry and Lee are both helping me look. It’s really nice of them. I’ve been doing a lot of interviews still. I guess I’m famous now. Funny, I always thought you were the one that was.
“One of the interview ladies didn’t… didn’t even know about you. I guess she was one of those young ones, the ones that weren’t at Hogwarts yet in our time. She asked me how I got the idea for this project and I told her that me twin brother Fred and I had come up with it together, she was surprised and said she didn’t know I had a twin. I guess people just don’t know about you anymore. It isn’t fair – you were a wonderful person, Fred. And they don’t seem to understand that I can still talk to you, either – they seem to think I’m just pretending, or something. Of course I’m not, though. You’re here, and you’re listening to every word I’m saying. I know you are, Fred.”
“How’re you doing, Fred? It’s been, what, 15 years? That’s a long time. Just thought I’d let you know how everyone else is doing. Ron and Hermione are married, as you know, and have two kids – Rose and Hugo. I still don’t understand why they named them that – Hugo’s gonna be the most teased kid at Hogwarts for years. I feel bad for the little guy. He’s all set to start soon… Harry and Ginny are married too, with three kids now. Lily, James, and Albus. Albus Severus. Isn’t that sweet of him? Haha… Lee’s married too. To Alicia Spinnet. Remember her? From the Gryffindor Quidditch team. He’s commentating at some of the World Cup matches, too – Oliver Wood got him into it. Neville Longbottom’s teaching Herbology, and Hermione’s still doing the Latin club. The DA is still strong too. Hogwarts is going great – the current Headmaster is Dennis Creevey. Remember him? He’s grown up a lot since Colin died. Not so hyper and excited anymore. He’s learned lots – Ginny even tells me he was Head Boy in his seventh year. Yeah, they keep in touch. Probably have a secret Harry Potter Fan Club going in memory of Colin. Haha… I think I’ll tell him my suspicions. Victoire and Teddy are… well… I’m starting to be quite suspicious of the pair. They are spending way too much time alone together to be considered friends. We’ll see what happens between them. Mum and Dad are doing fine, too. They’re not as young as they once were, but they’re okay. Bill and Charlie are great too, and Percy’s having loads of fun at the Ministry. They’re even talking about promoting him. He’s got no idea. It’ll be great to see his face when they come out with it.
“Angelina is wonderful. I love her so much - she's changed so much from our Hogwarts years, she's grown so much. But there's still that happy, lovely girlish side to her that you always loved. I'm sorry I took her, Fred. I love her. I hope you understand. There are children now, too. A daughter, Roxanne. And a son. I named him Fred. For you. Thank you, Fred, thank you for everything.
“The Unforgivables Project has been a huge success so far. I’m still not as far as I’d like with the Avada Kedavra Shield, but I guess that’s the hardest one out of them. I dunno if it’ll work. The Ministry has been hugely supportive of it, but we’re still not going to release the Shields to the public. It’s going to be exclusively for the Ministry.
“Well, I’ve got to go, Fred. Lee and Angelina will be needing me at the shop. The afternoon’s always the busiest. I’ll try to find more time to come soon. See you.”
“Hey, Fred. Long time, no see. Happy 96th birthday. It’s been a long, long time, hasn’t it? Several years since I was last here. Those years have been quite hard on me. It’s hard to walk. Hell, it’s hard to move. I’m old, Fred. Really old. I know you’re waiting up there, patiently. I’d never be able to be so patient. I’ll be there soon, Fred. I promise. Don’t worry about our shop once I leave. It’s in good hands – our kids are taking care of it. Mainly my son. Fred. And Angelina is with you now. Thank you for letting me love her for my share. She's yours again now, Fred. But maybe when I'm up there, too, we can all be together. And someday little Fred'll be with us too, and we'll be the proper family I've always dreamed of. Mum and Dad are up there too, you know that, right? So is Charlie. He was attacked by a vicious Horntail a few years ago and died in the hospital. Tell them all hello for me, would you? Well, I’ll tell them myself once I come. I don’t think I’ve got all that long now – somehow I feel myself getting weaker by the day. I’ll be there soon, Fred. I can feel it. I can tell."
The lamp on the desk is turned on, sending a few weak beams of light throughout the room. Around it papers are scattered, diagrams and notes scribbled on. There is an empty ink bottle off to the side, the quill resting beside it. The curtains are drawn across the window; the door is closed. He hobbles over to the bed and sits down. He sighs. There is a pain in his body. He is tired. He lays back against the pillow, pulls the sheets up to his chin, and sleeps.
When he wakes up, he is no longer in his own bed. He is sitting alone in a soft chair like the one in the shop. But this place is not like the shop – it seems to be forming around him as he looks at it. Shapes are emerging from the strange vapor surrounding him, and gradually he recognizes the place. He is in the shop, but it is different. The shelves not arranged the way he remembers, and they seem to fade from his sight as he looks away. He stands up, realizing that this simple action requires much less effort than he is used to. He walks around, noticing dimly that he seems to be more flexible, more agile. His hair swings across his eyes, and he sees that it is red and not grey. He smiles. He realizes that he is not alone any longer and looks around. There, out of the mist, walks his twin, smiling at him.
“Hey, George,” he says.