Chapter 6 : Finding a Common Ground
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When George entered the clearing, giving views of the Shrieking Shack, it is fair to say he was more concerned about the alarming rate in which his toes were becoming numb, rather than the disintegrating relationship between himself and his sister. George clutched his coat around him, shivering violently. He grimaced at the sight of the tauntingly innocent snowflakes, which had only begun to fall in the last ten minutes or so. Trust Luna to pick such a place in November.
However, the look which Ginny was giving him was frostier than snow could ever be. Realising George had arrived she crossed her arms resolutely, and narrowed her eyes at him. In stark contrast, Luna was sitting on the fence separating the clearing from the Shrieking Shack. Her smile was placid, and she nodded at George as he approached.
“C-could we go somewhere warmer?” George asked, stuttering.
“You have a wand, don’t you? You can’t be completely useless.” said Ginny in a dry voice. Luna shook her head behind Ginny, and to George’s surprise she actually tutted at Ginny.
“No, no. This really won’t do.” Luna muttered, more to herself than anything else. She hopped down from the fence, the bobble on her yellow woolly hat shaking, emphasising her eccentricity more than was needed. Both George and Ginny stared at her incredulously as Luna stood between both of them with a defiant expression on her face, contrasting starkly with her usual serene air.
“You aren’t fighting about anything that matters are you?” She asked, hands on her hips in a way that was forcibly reminiscent of George’s mother. Ginny looked furious.
“Anything that matters? Only the fact that George has become so selfish he won’t even realise that other people grieve too!” She yelled, her small hands balled themselves into fists.
George’s face remained blank. He was rendered speechless. Ginny had single handedly made him feel so useless, so incredibly inept that George felt that if he stayed stood in that spot for the rest of his life, it wouldn’t matter. Yet this was the horrible irony; he felt sick that he’d put so much pressure on his family by becoming a burden, but felt equally as nauseated at the prospect of doing anything about it.
“Do you have anything to say to that, George?” Luna turned to George, speaking so quietly, Ginny couldn’t hear it. George’s gaze turned to Luna and he took a deep breath, attempting to brace himself.
“I’ve tried Ginny, I’ve been home a lot more recently.” George confessed in a low voice.
“And I bet you were the life and soul of the party!” She spat.
The feeling of being useless overwhelmed George again. Visiting the Burrow had been excruciating enough, what with all the memories which were attached to the place. George glanced at Luna again, seemingly for support. Standing there in the middle of this family conflict, Luna should have appeared out of place and uncomfortable. Yet as the air she exuded was so awkward, as if she was simply placed out of the blue in every situation by some foreign entity, she was simply at home in peculiar situations.
“You’re being a little unfair, Ginny.” Her small, quiet voice spoke up with surprising authority. Ginny’s jaw set rigidly, angry at being outnumbered two-to-one.
“When did you become so friendly with each other, eh?” Ginny shot at them, looking at Luna in particular. It was almost as if Ginny was personally offended that she had been betrayed by her friend. The atmosphere grew colder still, even without the increasing velocity of the snowflakes. George and Ginny’s red hair was now so dotted with white it was almost as if they had aged fifty years in the space of five minutes.
“George would have consulted anybody else, if he could have.” Luna stated, smiling serenely.
“I’m sure!” Ginny retorted, giving George a derisive look.
“Grief divided is made lighter.” Luna said so solemnly, it was absurd. George could have laughed, and Ginny’s scowl softened a fraction.
“I have to go anyway. I did tell you I couldn’t stay long, Luna” Ginny said, and now she had dropped the scathing tone. She avoided George’s eye, but said in a low voice, barely discernible over the now howling wind “, I’ll see you at Christmas, George.”
And then Ginny’s footsteps, making a crunching noise in the newly forming snow, began to die away, and all was left was silence between George and Luna.
“Thanks.” George said flatly, which prompted a wide grin from Luna. The effect was that Luna’s usually tranquil expression of happiness was replaced by wild ecstasy, making her look far younger than usual.
“You did really well!” She insisted. George briefly allowed a corner of his mouth to turn up in an acknowledgement of her words, but then turned to lean on the fence, facing the Shrieking Shack.
“Ginny was right about something though. Why are you so willing to help me?” George asked, not looking at Luna. Luna considered him for a moment, before leaning on the fence next to him. The difference in their height was almost comical.
“Do unto others as you would have done unto you” Luna said in a sing-song voice.
“So that’s it, is it?” George asked, incredulously.
“I lost somebody who was near to a half of me as I could get. I would have liked somebody to have listened who was outside my situation.” Luna confessed. What was odd was that there was no tone of sadness or melancholy in her words. Luna was merely stating a fact. And in return, George felt no stab of pain at the mention of losing a half.
“Who was that, if you don’t mind me asking?” George’s voice turned careful. It was strange that George was treating Luna like the ‘ticking time bomb of grief’ that others had treated him as.
“My mother, when I was nine.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” George said, shocked. Luna giggled softly, and George raised his eyebrow, confused.
“You don’t need to be, it was a while ago” She smiled at him “, but if you want to move on, you will. Your brother wouldn’t have wanted you to do nothing now, would he?”
George grimaced, and began to feel a lump in his throat, and he shivered more violently than ever. George knew that Fred, as the twin who initiated most of their antics, relied on George to carry it through and keep them grounded. They had been part of a well oiled machine, which worked without a hitch. But now Fred could not be grounded, as he had drifted to somewhere George could not reach. Would this mean that machine would now have to halt?
George had not replied, but Luna only smiled into the distance. She placed her hand wearing a purple mitten on George’s arm briefly, before quickly removing it.
“You’ll be fine.” She said. She seemed totally certain. George wondered for a moment how she could be so sure, but decided to leave it.
“We’ll see. Anyway, thanks a lot.”
George looked down to his right at Luna and smiled appreciatively. However, just then, a strong gust of wind seemed to shake George to his very core, and he began to cough uncontrollably.
“You should go back to work.” Luna said, smiling at him.
“I suppose you’re right,” George sighed, resigned to the fact that he’d have to spend the afternoon serving the rest of the giggling and screaming Hogwarts students. On the bright side, at least he’d be warm “See you, Luna.”
George turned to leave, and for one moment, felt childish pleasure at hearing the sound of the crunching snow beneath his feet.
“George!” Luna called behind him, over the sounds of the wind which was louder than ever. George turned around, somewhat surprised.
“Make sure you don’t get too cold, you’ll get Frigidulus disease!” She shouted, anxiously.
“What!?” George yelled back, unsure of whether what he’d heard was right.
“Frigidulous!” She almost screamed “It makes you chatter your teeth forever, and you will only be able to speak in tongues!”
Speaking to Luna Lovegood had its perks.
That night, George dreamt of Fred.
It wasn’t snowing at the Shrieking Shack, it was, in fact, a balmy evening. The sky was beginning to turn a soft shade of red, posing as a picturesque background to the rickety old hut. George was sat on the tree stump that he had seen Luna sitting on the first time he had seen her there, and he was wearing her yellow woollen hat. It did not occur to George that this might be remotely strange at all. There were faint sounds of birds, which sounded somewhat artificial; as if they were being played on the Wizarding Wireless Network that had been the soundtrack to George’s childhood.
Suddenly, George spied something which was stranger still in the distance. He couldn’t be sure, but it seemed that the front door of the Shrieking Shack was being pushed open. The person pushing it must have been either extremely weak, or very cautious, as the speed in which it was being pushed was excruciatingly slow.
It opened at an odd angle, and finally swung to the side. George saw his mirror image step out from the dingy darkness of the hut. The boy was slightly taller than George, however, it was only distinguishable to the well educated mind on the matter. His face split in a grin, and he ran over to George, leaping over the slight bumps in the field. Yet Fred Weasley stopped a few meters before the fence, though George himself stood up carefully from the tree stump, barely allowing himself to believe it.
“Has much changed while I’ve been away?” His doppelganger asked jovially, though George had noticed that the smile did not fully reach his eyes; most irregular for Fred.
“Percy’s less of a git.” George replied. He sensed that they’d already begun to avoid a great topic, one which prevented an honest discussion. George had never felt this before. Meanwhile, the birds in the background began to increase in volume.
“Is he the one with a fang earring now? Bloody hell.” Fred laughed. George grinned sheepishly.
“How is it…you know…over there?” George asked tentatively. Fred smiled that knowing, secretive smile George knew so well; the one which preceded mischief and mayhem. Though this time, the difference was, was that George was not in on the joke.
“I’ll never tell, Georgie! Wouldn’t ruin the surprise for you, would I?” Fred tapped his nose. George felt a small twinge of irritation, but he shook it off.
Something small then came to George’s head. Fred’s image shimmered oddly, as if he were only a reflection in water. His colour was also perturbing; he was lighter than was normal, as if he was merely a coloured ghost. Perhaps that was actually close to the truth. Fred didn’t seem a black and white kind of person, even if he was dead.
“Okay, fair enough,” George acceded, smiling faintly “seen anyone we know?”
“It’s not like we’re sitting in a corner of the Three Broomsticks throwing down tankards of Butterbeer, is it?” Fred said wryly. He hadn’t lost his sense of humour, one thing was apparent. George sniggered. Fred’s face turned abruptly grave and serious before George had the chance to stop laughing.
“There’s one thing I wanted to say to you, George. It took a lot for me to get here, so I should say it before I have to go.”
“You have to go? How come you have to-
“George! Just listen to me for one second!” Fred said, something desperate in his voice was discernible “You can’t just do nothing for the rest of your life, do you understand me?”
“What?” George gaped, dumbstruck.
“Do you understand me?” Fred hissed at him. While Fred spoke, the birdsong increased in volume until it completely surrounded them.
“Yes, of course.” George said, shocked. He glanced into the woods, then to the field beyond the shack, frantically searching for the source of the birdsong.
“And one more thing, George.” said Fred, and it was only then when George realised how dishevelled Fred appeared, dressed in a holey discoloured t shirt and ripped jeans, similar to what he’d been wearing on the night of his death.
“Don’t leave me behind.”
And George sat up, sweat drenching his face, breathing heavily and quickly. Birds chirped happily and sweetly from the only window, but the atmosphere of the room was only cold and unfriendly. Though even with this potent reminder of the dream, the only element of the dream which remained in George’s memory was Fred’s last sentence, which echoed horribly around in his head.
This chapter isn’t too weird, is it? I hope you liked it anyway, I can carry on writing a bit faster now because my exams are finished! Yayyyyy! But also I've been a bit stupid because I've suddenly started writing many things at once. Genius -.- ... Even so, I'll still be writing at least a little faster :) But as a magical favour, could you review pleaaaaaasse *wobbles lip* even if you think it's bad...or don't think anything at all. But yeah, review, and bye!
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