“Hope is the thing with feathers, That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words, And never stops at all…” - Emily Dickenson
“People can live without pleasure but not without hope.”
- Nechama Tec
Normally, they would have just crept quietly past the sitting room and up the stairs to deposit their products but something about the scene stopped them in their tracks.
Wordlessly, they shared a look before turning and setting their packages down on the kitchen table.
“Mum?” asked Fred quietly, coming into the living room and folding his lanky form down onto the carpet among the boxes surrounding their mother.
“What is it?” added George gently, perching on the footstool on the other side of her and placing a hand on her shoulder. She was shaking slightly and there were silent tears trailing down her cheeks. “What’s wrong?”
Sniffling strongly, she gestured to the open, half-empty boxes covering the floor and all the chairs, their contents strewn around the room.
“I can’t do it,” she said softly. “I just can’t do it this year.”
The twins glanced around taking in the barren Christmas tree in the corner, the ornaments and strings of lights and tinsel thrown around or still unpacked.
“We’re scattered every which-way this year, our every move watched. Bill and Fleur don’t dare leave their house, Charlie can’t come home for fear he won’t be allowed to leave, and Percy – ” Her voice broke but she continued. “Percy’s in so deep I don’t know what will become of him.”
Over her bowed head, Fred and George shared a hard look, but neither said anything.
“I just don’t see the point of being festive this year, boys,” she finished softly.
“Well, there is still us…” suggested Fred quietly.
“…and Ginny and Dad,” added George pointedly.
“I know that, boys, and I’m not trying to ruin your holiday, but…” she trailed off, her crying lessoning as a different emotion started to leak through. “I can’t see the point of getting my house all decorated when at any moment someone could come and drag us all away from it!”
Fred stood up suddenly, his face firm. “But, Mum, that’s exactly why we need to do it!” he said loudly as George joined him on his feet.
Their mother stared at them.
“Fred’s right, Mum,” said George earnestly. “We have to celebrate, and go all out this year. Because if the Death Eaters are gonna come in the middle of the night and drag me from my bed to torture or kill me – ”
He watched his mum gasp at his words but he didn’t take them back. They’d known for a long time this wasn’t a game they were part of.
“ – then they are bloody well gonna have to walk through the biggest, brightest Christmas display ever known, just out of spite,” finished Fred solemnly. “We might not be able to stop them from coming eventually, but we refuse to act like we’re waiting for them.”
Their mum sniffled again, tears once again glinting in her eyes, whether from their fool-hearty bravery or her worry for them they didn’t know. Probably both.
Fred sighed and bent back down, sitting on the stool George had just vacated. “Look, Mum,” he said gently, picking up the ornaments she had been holding carefully in her lap since they had walked in. They were nothing special, just some reindeer made of popsicle sticks and glue, but both boys knew exactly why she was holding them so tenderly. They’d been made by Ron and Harry, last Christmas, in one of the handful of peaceful, fun times the family had spent together in the last few years. “You know we wish more than anything that we were out there helping them, protecting them. We would have gone with them in a heartbeat, but for some reason Harry felt he couldn’t ask us.” He stopped, again wondering why he and George had been left behind, but knowing he couldn’t change it. “But I’m going to tell you something Harry once told us, when he gave us his Triwazard winnings.”
“Forced us to take them is more like it,” added George.
Fred nodded in agreement before continuing. “He said to get working on our joke shop because he could do with a few laughs. Said he had a feeling we were going to need them more than usual before long.*”
“So don’t you see, Mum,” George picked up, knowing exactly where his twin was going with this. “That’s the real reason we have to celebrate, we have to keep up our hope. For them. Because somewhere, Ron and Harry and Hermione are out there, doing Merlin only knows what, but whatever it is, it’s so that we can win this war.”
“That’s why we laugh, Mum,” said Fred earnestly, standing up and hanging the two ornaments on the tree with great care. “And joke and sell toys and pranks, even now. Because we have hope that someday, things will be right again. Because if we stopped, it would feel like a huge betrayal of hope and faith in those three and everything they’re risking and suffering for us.”
“And it would be just one more way for the bad guys to win,” added George with a shrug.
“Which really cheeses us off, actually,” Fred couldn’t help throwing out there.
Their mum hadn’t said a word for a long time, but now she sighed, wiping a hand across her cheeks as she started wearily to her feet. “I don’t know why I keep underestimated you two like this, but I should really learn not to.”
“Yeah, Mum, you really should,” said George cheekily, giving her a hand to finish getting up.
“We’ve been telling you that for years, you know…” said Fred, feigning hurt. “You know we’ll always be here for you, right, George and I?”
“Of course I do, boys,” she said, reaching up to give each twin a loving pat on the cheek.
“Excellent,” replied Fred, rubbing his hands together gleefully. “Now, what do you say we light this place up like…well, a Christmas tree, before Dad and Ginny get home?”
“I suppose we’d better,” agreed their mum, her smile still weary but her tears dried. “For Ron.”
“And Hermione,” added George, giving a mock salute to the air.
“And Harry,” finished Fred. “The hope of us all.”
* Paraphrased quote from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 37, p 733.