You stare the lowering casket and the only sound you hear is the soft pitter-patter of the rain around you. You are the only one standing in the rain, the only one freezing and shivering but you think it's appropriate. The sky is crying and hurting with you and you find comfort in the harsh raindrops that shower your entire body and soul. You hear, only vaguely, your mother's sobbing and your sister's soft sniffing and you want to say a joke that will make them laugh or glare at you — show any other emotion beside sadness and devastation.
But you can't. Your lips stay firmly shut and the natural urge to say something funny is squashed to non-existence. The only thought going through your head is — he's gone, he's gone — and you can't summon the will to do anything beside stare and slowly destroy yourself.
You know he isn't happy with you. He's probably glaring down at you and shouting at you to stop being a sodding git and get your act together. There are people who need you to make them happy, to make them smile and love life again. Your family is hurting and you know that it's your role to be the one to erase all the pain. But you can't. Not when there's a huge, gaping hole in your heart and your being, your past self, you identity, is slowly slinking away, escaping through your fingertips and meshing with the rain that just won't stop.
You slowly soak the soil beneath you until there's nothing left but an empty shell of what you used to be.
"What are you doing, George?" Your hear the voice in your heard, loud and clear, and you jerk — the first movement you've made since the funeral started. He does sound angry — no, he sounds furious, livid even. "Bloody hell, mate! Look around you! What the hell are you doing, feeling sorry for yourself when everyone else needs you?"
"I can't." You speak out loud and your voice is low and hoarse, and it breaks slightly. You haven't done much talking, lately. Only crying.
"You can't? Of course you can, you git! You're George Weasley! There is no "I can't" in your vocabulary! You can and you will! I'll find a way to get my hands on you and you'll be sorry for doing such a sordid job of being yourself!"
"Shut up." You mutter. You feel colder suddenly. You are pretty much freezing by this point, but there is a cold, harsh breeze that hits you in the face and nearly makes you stumble.
"Don't tell me to shut up but listen to me! I won't have you going into a depression, you hear me? The Joke Shop needs you! Our family needs you. Our friends need you. You can't be selfish now, Forge. It's time to start living again. I've allowed you to wallow this long but I won't have it anymore."
"Shut up! You don't know anything you. You don't understand.. you.. you.."
"I'm dead. Yeah. It sucks. I didn't want to die but it happens. We'll see each other again, George. Don't waste your life because you can't get over the loss of mine. I won't ever forgive you if you do that."
"George?" This voice is different. It's feminine, for one, and it's soft and without a trace of anger and indigence. You look on your left and you see Ginny standing there. Her eyes are red but there are no tears streaming down her face anymore. Her hair is wet and clings to her face and she reaches with one shaking hand to squeeze your shoulder. Her eyes are understanding but they long for you to say something, to assure her that it'll be okay.
She's only sixteen, you realise. She so so young. She's young and she's your younger sister and she needs you right now.
"George?" She repeats your name again and it ends like a question.
"Do it, George." Fred's voice tells you. "Help Ginny. This will help you too."
You pull Ginny in a sudden hug and you hear her suck in a breath in surprise and from your tight embrace. She hugs you back when she manages to get her arms around you and she squeezes you just as tightly. You open your eyes and you see your family looking at you. You try for a smile and after a few unsuccessful twitches of your lips, you manage something resembling your previous grins.
Your ghost of a smile is met by several hesitant smiles and sobbing from your mother, who pushes past your father and Percy and hugs both you and Ginny tightly to herself. She presses her face in the side of your arm and she continues to sob there. Your arms tighten around your sister and your mother. You close your eyes and Fred's voice once again fills your head.
"We'll see each other again, Forge. But for now... take care of them, all right? I don't want any of them joining me any time soon, you hear me?"
You chuckle. "All right."
"All right. I'm leaving them all to you, George. I know you can do it, even if I'm not there to distract them from that ugly mug of yours. I'll see you.. later, George."
"Goodbye, Fred." You mutter out loud unconsciously. Your mother and sister hear this and they look up at you.
"Let's go home." It's all you say to their red-cheeked, teary-eyed faces and they nod.
You turn your back to the grave and take a deep breath.
You have work to do and a prankster never fails to deliver.