Kira awoke the next morning and saw that George had spent the night on an overstuffed chair that had a pink floral brocade pattern, covered by his newspaper. He didn't look very comfortable. She got out of bed and padded over to him. "George," she said, touching his shoulder. "Wake up. I have to go to the bathroom. Why don't you go sleep in the bed a while?"
"Mmmmph, thanks," he said, getting up and diving into the bed. He buried his face into the pillow. It smelled like a mixture of coconut and vanilla. George smiled and fell back to sleep.
Kira sneaked back into the room and saw that George was sound asleep. She gathered a clean set of clothes from her backpack and set them on the dresser. Then she sat in the chair that George had slept on and realized that it had not been in the room the night before. She picked up the newspaper George had been reading and began to read it. She recognized some names and issues that the Weasleys had spoken of the day before.
After a while she got bored and wished George would wake up. She was starving. To kill time, she slipped the hair bobble from her ponytail and stood in front of the mirror to brush her hair. She dug in her purse for some make-up and added a little eye shadow, blush and lipstick. It was nice to be able to put on make-up without having to worry about her father noticing and calling her a tramp.
In the mirror, she saw the reflection of George in the bed and experienced a rush of bitterness at the unfairness of it all. It should be Fred in that bed, and she should be lying in it next to him. No, she scolded herself, don't go there. You can't let yourself think about that or you'll lose it. You have to stay strong. She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths to regain her equilibrium. Then, remembering the motorcycle ride she had ahead of her, she began to plait her hair in a French braid to keep it from becoming a mass of tangles.
George woke up and watched Kira at the dresser as she did her hair. Coming from a family so filled with boys, he wasn't used to spending so much time with girls. Sure, there was his mother and Ginny, but they didn't count. After all, one's mother isn't a real girl. And as for Ginny, she'd always been tough—a tomboy. Kira seemed so much softer, more vulnerable, feminine. Her walk, her every movement, was graceful—like Fleur but subtle, and without the condescension.
Unlike Ginny and his mother, Kira was quiet. She seemed to live inside herself. George suddenly wished he were skilled at Legilimency so he could learn what went on inside her head when her eyes became dark and unsettled or when they grew soft and a secret, enigmatic smile touched the corners of her lips. Did Fred fill her mind at those moments?
George couldn't remember the last time he laughed. He hadn't since Fred died. He still held silent dialogs with Fred—with himself, actually, inside his head. But now they fell flat. Until two days ago, when Kira had been dumped off at the house, he had felt apathetic about everything. But now he had a purpose. Kira and the baby had provided him with a renewed interest in life.
When Fred had first begun seeing Kira, George had suspected that he had been merely playing her because he'd known that George was interested. Where girls were concerned, the two of them had enjoyed a little game of oneupmanship from time to time. They made a game of scamming the Muggle girls in the village, often switching back and forth between them.
At first, that was how they'd planned on playing Kira. But when he had mentioned that he might stop by the butcher shop to see Kira, Fred had gotten steely. "Don't even go there, George," he'd warned. "She's not like the others."
Suddenly, George couldn't stand not knowing anymore.
"Kira," he said, startling her. She jumped and dropped her comb.
"George," she said, recovering, "You're awake. Can you go down and get us some breakfast? I'm starving."
"Oh, sure. Sorry. You should have woken me up."
"I wanted you to get some rest. I felt bad that you had to spend the night on that chair."
"Kira, all our lives, nobody, not even our mother, could tell us apart with any consistency. But you could. How did you know I was me and Fred was Fred?"
Kira smiled that small, secretive smile and her eyes grew a deeper shade of blue. "When Fred smiled, the left side of his mouth raised first. He was left-handed. You're not. And his laugh was different." She stopped and gave a short laugh. "He had this habit of playing with the hair behind his ear. And his eyes were lighter than yours."
"Why did you like him better than me?"
"When he looked at me, he...I guess maybe he wanted me. He looked at me like I was Christmas, Easter, and his birthday all wrapped up in one. Nobody had ever looked at me like that. You didn't. Actually, I'd had the feeling you didn't even like me very much."
George got up and walked to the door. With his hand on he knob, he stopped and said, "I liked you, Kira," before opening it and going downstairs to get them something to eat.
On the way down, George mentally kicked himself. Of the two of them, Fred had always been the more demonstrative twin. He had never held anything back. George preferred to keep his feelings hidden, under control. He felt it gave him an edge. In this instance, it had cost him.
Once downstairs, George had to put up with Chester's good natured ribbing about his upcoming marriage and baby. George hoped that the Redfords wouldn't mention it in front of Kira.
By the time he got back upstairs with their breakfast, Kira had gotten dressed in a pair of jeans and a long, loose light blue top. She was laying flat on her back on the bed, trying to get the zipper of her jeans done up. Sh gave up and looked at him in annoyance.
"I don't suppose you could wave your wand and make me thinner, can you?"
As the tray floated over to the table, George looked down at her. "Um, even if I could, I wouldn't. It would not be very healthy for you or the baby."
"Oh, right," said Kira. "I didn't think of that. I'll just leave the jeans open. The top is long enough to cover it. I was only joking anyway. Whatever happened to your sense of humor?"
"It died three months ago," George said, his voice testy. He immediately felt sorry he'd snapped at her. She was right. He was getting stodgy and humorless. "Actually, though, I can do an engorgement charm on the jeans and make them bigger."
"Really? That would be great. They're really too tight. And I'm always worried that they'll fall down because I can't do them up."
"Well...um...you'd have to take them off. I can't do the spell while you're wearing them."
Kira stared at him a moment. Then her eyes lit with mischief. "That's got to be the most original line a guy has ever used to get a girl out of her clothes," she said.
George couldn't help it. It was exactly the sort of quip that Fred would have said. For the first time since Fred's death, George heard himself burst out laughing. He laughed so hard he couldn't stand, so he sat on the side of the bed, next to where Kira lay.
Kira laughed too. She had never had much laughter in her life, at least not until Fred and George had stopped inside her father's shop that day so long ago. Laughter and a disregard for anything serious was the gift they had given her. It had helped her to survive.
"Um...George, you know, it wasn't THAT funny," she said. Then she noticed he was no longer laughing. His laughter had turned to tears.
"Oh, George," she said, putting her arms around him.
George felt like he was losing his mind. Since Fred had died at the Battle of Hogwarts, he had been walking around in a cocoon, not allowing himself to feel anything. Even at the mass funeral that had been held at Hogwarts, where all those who had fallen in the battle were buried, George had remained outwardly stoic. As one marble tomb appeared after another, surrounding Dumbledore's, George had merely sat and counted them, letting disillusionment with humanity and anger fill his soul. And he had held onto that, nurtured the negativity until it had shut out all else.
He felt Kira's arms around him and he turned toward her. She just held him while he cried. He cried over losing his twin. He cried for all the people he had seen die that day. He cried for how jaded he felt whenever he looked at another human being and realized, anew, their potential for evil.
Kira cried too, for having lost the only person she'd ever loved, who had ever really loved her, for her baby, who'd never know his father. And she cried because she, at last, had a friend who understood and shared her pain.
After a time, their tears subsided. George had his face buried in her hair and realized that the scent he'd noticed on the pillow earlier was actually her. He raised his head and looked down at her face, wanting to kiss her, but knowing that it wouldn't be right—at least not yet.
They began to talk. Kira told him about how alone she'd felt after Fred had gone off to take care of whatever it was he had to take care of. She spoke of her guilt when George had told her he'd been killed. She had begun to doubt Fred, had begun to believe that her father had been right all along, and that he had just been using her.
George spoke of his grief, his inability to relate to anyone, the feeling that he was disconnected, somehow, from the rest of the human race. He told her how guilty he felt over still being alive while Fred wasn't., and how all the joy in the world seemed to have vanished. He felt that even his ability to create new products for his store had died with Fred.
"Fred wouldn't want either one of us to go through life unhappy," Kira said, placing her hand on his cheek. "He'd want the baby to hear the sound of laughter every day of his life."
George smiled and nodded. "Yes, he would," he said. He kissed her on the head and got up. He noticed the forgotten breakfast on the table. "We'd better eat," he said. "We still have a two hour ride ahead of us to London."
"It's probably gotten cold," she said.
"Ah," said George, taking out his wand,"but you forget; you're with a wizard. Let me amaze and astound you with my culinary reheating skills."
You must be logged in to post a review on this story.