Disclaimer: I am only borrowing from the world of J.K. Rowling.
Chapter Twelve: Close to the Home
George looked as the people started arriving, admiring his handiwork. The tables were set up nicely thanks to him and Charlie. He was in a tree in the distance, and there was a seat for Fred right next to him. Fred wouldn’t be joining them though, and he remembered his talk with Ginny earlier.
His little sister was an adult. She had already made her mark on the world, and from what he’d heard captured the heart of all too hormonal teenage boys. The only one that mattered to her though, was currently the savior of the wizarding world and George thought that he was a pretty cool guy who would be right for her. While she had denied that they were dating, he had seen it in her eyes that they practically were. And, damn he was proud of her. She was, in his mind, one of the true Weasleys all the way to the core, and she was going to be one of the only ones to give up her surname. Not that she minded probably. Hell, George thought, every since she heard about Harry Potter she was going on about how she was going to be Ginny Potter.
Luckily, after he and Charlie had set everything up, Charlie had helped him smuggle a bottle of firewhiskey out of the cabinet and into his room. He had checked with Ginny that everyone there was over the age of seventeen, so Mum couldn’t be mad when he passed some around and spiked the punch. Or whatever they happened to be serving.
The tree creaked and George jumped off. Ginny would kill him if he spent too much time sulking. He walked back to the house tracing the place where his ear used to be and saw as several of her friends arrived. They were young, and yet they were scarred. Not in the physical way, but most of them had fought in a war. And they had lost people.
And image of Fred flashed in his mind, and he shook it out. He couldn’t get all emotional today. He had to be strong. He opened the door, and was immediately hit with a wave of chaos.
“Oh, George can you help Harry set the table?” Mum shouted at him as she mixed several pots.
Ron hurried past him, and Neville looked around and kept asking if he could help. Several people ran in and out of the kitchen and George just stood there before understanding that he was needed.
He went outside to see Harry was almost done. “So, do you need my help?” George asked.
“What?” Harry asked and then said, “Sure, you can help on that table.”
George took the necessary utensils and began to place them on the second table. “You know Harry?”
“Know what?” Harry asked.
“You’re alright.” George said and smiled.
Harry raised an eyebrow bewildered. “What makes you say that?”
“Well, you’ve helped me out along the way. I suppose I sort of helped you out, and all in all, you seem like you got a level head.” George said.
“Er, thanks?” Harry said. “Is there any particular reason why you’re telling me this now?”
“Maybe.” George said. “But I wouldn’t count on me telling you.”
“So who will?” Harry asked. He seemed to be getting more confused as George went on, much to George’s delight.
“I’ll give you one hint.” George said. “Only one. You ready?” Harry nodded. “They are neither muggle or squib.”
Harry shook his head. “Here I was getting excited.”
“That is a pretty good hint, is it not? I think mum would praise me on my use of grammar.”
“At least you haven’t lost it.” Harry said.
“I thank you for that.” George said as he put the last fork on and then bowed with a flourish. He didn’t know if Harry really knew what he meant, but if he didn’t, then he would find out soon enough. Or, he would be able to guess. I mean, it wasn’t like people like him just go around complimenting people. Then again, lots of people complimented Harry, it must be something to do with the savior of the wizarding world part.
Another pop signaled the arrival of someone else and George rushed into the house to almost run into Fleur. “Slow down.” she said.
“Sorry,” George said, and smiled at her. “You look flustered.”
She laughed and George looked around wondering if she was alright. “You would be too if your mother-in-law kept telling you to have kids.”
George laughed and then hurried up to his old room letting Fleur go on her way. He cleared the dust off of some boxes and a picture frame. He stared at the picture as Fred and him smiled and waved back. If only they knew, he thought, what was going to happen in a couple of years. He did notice that they were slighter shorter than he was now, and he was fairly sure that this was taken in the summer of Quidditch World Cup. They would get richer, thanks to Harry, and smaller.
He wiped a tear away and sat on the bed which bursted with dust as soon as he touched it. He stayed there, heard the volume increase as more guests arrived. A look out the window signaled that the food was served. The sun was going down. This would be the perfect time. As everyone was admiring the sunset, he would sneak behind and deliver something to really get the party started. Or make it amusingly funny. This would be a good time, for, the boy that died that was in Ginny’s class, Colin, he believed. From what he remembered Harry saying, the boy never left without his camera, or something like that.
He took the bottle from its hiding place, slipped it under the robes, and started uncorking it on his way down. He entered the yard and he saw Charlie wink at him, and like a good brother he winked back. The satisfying pop sounded from the bottle and luckily no one was getting a drink so he proceeded to dump the contents into the punch.
He slipped the bottle behind a bush and then joined his mother in the kitchen. “Help me carry this out.” She said gesturing to the food, and with a flick of his wand he carried it out. “If you drop that.” She warned. He smiled and then laid it on various tables, and everyone settled into various spots at the tables. He noticed a pile of presents were stacked and he took his from his robes and placed it on the stack.
He took his place and noticed that Neville was getting himself a drink. He smiled, plan equals success. “Now, let us begin.” Mum said and everyone began to tuck in. George smiled and got himself a bit of potatoes.
He loaded his plate up and Ron began to talk quidditch. He joined in, but he was mostly keeping his eyes on the people around him. It seemed that everyone would cough a little or choke slightly when they first tasted it, but he noticed that they gradually began to loosen. Luckily, his mum had brought out an adult beverage as she called it, even though everyone was technically an adult. They wouldn’t know about the punch. Adults, George mused were very predictable.
He glanced down at Ginny who was grinning broadly.
No one was hysterically drunk, at least not yet, and George was staying away from the punch. Perhaps when it was later in the night, well when it was later in the night, he would start drinking, but he didn’t want to miss out on any of the hilarious things that might happen.
The dinner was soon over, and a wireless was bewitched to sound louder and all over the garden. The music played and the warm summer air eased the crowd. Some dancing began to take place as others mingled and talked. When Ginny was talking to someone, they would bring her over to the pile of presents and she would open theirs.
George watched as Bill refilled the punch on the little that was left, and George smiled. The firewhiskey would still exist. He also noticed that Harry was wearing long sleeves. George scratched his head and reexamined the scene. He had seen it right the first time and George just stared. It was the middle of summer, no one should be wearing long sleeves.
George remembered his words earlier that day and put down his cup. “Harry!” he said.
“George.” Harry said. George looked at him and saw that his eyes seemed to be tinted slightly from the alcohol.
“How are you liking it?” George said motioning to the yard.
“It’s nice.” He said gruffly and seemed to be edging away from George.
George wasn’t going to give up that easy. “How come you’re wearing long sleeves? It’s plenty hot out.”
“I like this shirt.” He said shortly.
“Come on, loosen up.” George said. “It’s a time of celebrating.”
“I really like this shirt.” Harry said. George snatched the cup away, and Harry took out his wand. “Give that back.” he said his eyes flashed.
“No.” George said and began turning away from the party and into the house. If Harry was going to blow up, he was not going to ruin everyone else’s good time. As they entered the house, George cast a silencing charm on the door.
“Give it here.” Harry said. He held out his hand.
“No. Only if you tell me why you’re wearing a long sleeve shirt. Did you get a tattoo?” George asked.
“No.” Harry said. “I just like this shirt.”
George lunged and the alcohol slowed Harry’s reflexes and George, the stronger man by far, snatched the wand out of his hand.
“GIVE THAT BACK!” Harry screamed and George laughed.
“No one can hear you.” George taunted and shook his head. This didn’t seem like Harry, or the Harry he knew. “I really shouldn’t have spiked the punch. What’s your problem?” he asked.
“You, you spiked the punch?” Harry asked.
“Yeah, that’s why you’re so grouchy.” George answered.
“Oh,” Harry said “oh.”
“What’s oh?” George asked.
Harry sat down, “You won’t tell anyone? You promise.” George nodded. “When I disappeared before Fred’s funeral, I was hiding out in Grimmauld Place. I, I was beating myself up and trying to attack myself the best I could. I developed into a cycle of drinking and other things. I really must be thankful to Kreacher for helping me get out of it, but some things don’t heal as fast as I would like them too.” Harry said.
“Oh.” George said. “What do you mean other things?”
“Guess.” Harry said. “There is a reason to why I’m wearing a long sleeve shirt.” He walked out the door, and George was left, dumbfounded.
Why would he wear a long-sleeve shirt? Sleeves cover arms, but George knew that Harry wouldn’t drag himself out of the house to get a tattoo like he had suggested earlier. If it wasn’t that, it had to be something else. Confused, he walked out of the house. Someone asked him where he went and he said something about the bathroom. He glanced at Harry who was laughing at something Ginny said. And why had he just went out and confessed to George? That had to be something about the alcohol talking.
George steered his sister away as Harry turned to talk to someone else and he presented his gift to her. As she exclaimed over the merchandise he had given her, he wondered if what he had told both of them earlier was the best thing. He felt as though something touched his soul and he thought, the boy saved the world, he has a couple troubles and nothing is going to be totally clear cut right now. Once he gets his life sorted, he will be just as good as the man that was brave enough to stand up to Voldemort. Or maybe, George thought, making him want to hide himself even more, he needed someone like his sister to care for him. To hold him. To tell him that everything is going to be alright. George remembered the day at the Dursley’s and how they kept shooting the looks at Harry and how they didn’t seem to love him. He had never had someone who deeply cared for him like that and George looked down at his own drink. He looked up and smiled weakly at Neville. I can think about it in the morning, George thought, now it’s time to have an awesome time at a party.