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Where There's Smoke by magnolia_magic
Chapter 2 : George
 
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It was not possible.

For the first half second I just gaped, my mind absent of any thought but no. in a way I knew what I was seeing, but there was no way it could be real. After all the fighting, after overcoming so much sacrifice and heartbreak, my brother could not be dead.

If Fred was gone, who was with him? And who would be here with me?

Fred and I were two halves of the same self. We always had been. Everyone had joked about it; the inseparable twins, so alike that not even their own mother could tell one from the other. It wasn’t quite true, of course, but we’d always let people think we were interchangeable. It was funny to see people’s faces when we tricked them. And really, it didn’t usually make much difference to anyone; I could recall very few times when it had truly been important for one of us to be present instead of the other. We were Fred-and-George; where he ended, I seamlessly began. In the eyes of many, we were one and the same.

We were different, though, in some ways. Of the two of us, I was slightly more reserved, just a hair more cautious. Neither of us were real thinkers, but I was always the first to point out limitations, possible obstacles. “Nice one, George, good thinking,” he’d say, and we would proceed to tear the obstacles down. And if I was really honest, I could say that he was the leader to my follower. His was the first name that came to everyone’s tongue, the first one people thought about. Whenever we spoke, his answers usually came just a heartbeat before mine. And there were plenty of times when he just spoke for us both.

But whatever differences there were, they were inconsequential. I had to dig hard to come up with them. For all intents and purposes we were the same person, and I had always enjoyed it. Instead of being just George, I was half of Fred-and-George; a super-person. I got to pick up where he left off, always, and we were both stronger for it. One of us could not be without the other.

He wouldn’t leave me. I knew he wouldn’t be so cruel. But Percy was yelling, half-crying almost, and Fred was in his arms, terribly limp. Staring at something I couldn’t see. Gone off alone, where I could not be there with him. If I couldn’t be there to think for him, who would?

I thought I heard someone screaming. It might even have been me. But no one came to shake me awake; no one was listening. Later I would realize that they had their own dead to avenge; their lives were shattering just as mine was. But at that moment all I saw was red. No one else existed but me and my silent twin.

There wasn’t really thought after that. There were only flashing lights and crashes from above and behind. And the red in my vision still flared angrily. Everything was chaos, but it seemed to flow around me like water. I walked on, but I wasn’t really deciding where I went; my mind was still back there under that archway, staring at my own mirror image dead on the ground.

There was only one thing to do, and that was to fight. But what was I fighting? Order members, Death Eaters…they all blurred together until I could scarcely tell who was who. Did it matter? They were all armed. Any of them could have been the one to take him away from us. Until the dust settled and I found out who had struck the blow—if I ever found out—they were all to blame.

A tiny voice at the back of my mind warned me not to think that way. We have a cause, remember? There are still friends, and enemies. But I couldn’t tell who I needed to rely on. They were all wizards with wands, and wasn’t it a wizard with a wand who had killed my brother? The other half of myself. The Fred to my George. They’d sent him somewhere I could not follow.

It was a wonder that I didn’t just start firing off Killing Curses wherever I turned. God knew I wanted to. How was it fair that anyone should live while Fred couldn’t? I would never be Fred-and-George again, ever again. I was only myself, pathetically small compared to the unstoppable force that was our brotherhood. A George without Fred was no George at all.

I finally began to use the wand in my hand. My spells were shooting in all directions, and really, I wasn’t even sure what spells I was casting. It seemed that I had gone beyond incantations and was simply willing the magic to flow through me and out of my wand. I could have cursed someone. I could have killed someone. It didn’t matter.

I thought that I could have carried on that way until the battle ended and beyond, forever. But something caught my eye, and I looked down. And as I looked, the madness that had possessed me began to recede. I was, after all, the slower twin, the step behind, the one who held back. It seemed that that would be true even without my brother.

What had stopped me? It was the body of a boy, lifeless and still, lying half-propped against the wall. Someone had moved him out of the way, so he could escape the worst of the fighting. But they had moved him too late. And no one had closed his eyes.

I thought I might have recognized him from school, might have seen him walking the halls in the sea of students. Back when everything had been all right. I had never known his name, but someone had. Maybe a lot of people. Maybe he had a brother too, a brother who didn’t know how to function without him.

At this, I thought I might have to succumb to tears. But I didn’t, not yet. Instead, I lowered my wand. I backed into the momentary safety of a corner. And I thought, because that was what I did. It was strange, though, not to be thinking for two anymore. There was no Fred anymore. But there was still a George.

It was not enough to hate the world. Even if I used the force of my hatred and grief to hurt everyone in the castle, everyone in the world, it wouldn’t do anything to avenge Fred’s death. He had died doing something important, and maybe because of him the Order was just a little closer to achieving what they’d set out to achieve. Now, though, he couldn’t help them any longer.

But I could.

I could pick up where he had left off, just one more time. I could take all of this hate that seemed too big for me, and I could put it where it belonged; at the feet of Voldemort himself. My brother didn’t have to die for no reason at all.

There was only one thing to do, and that was to pick up my wand again and fight for the right side. There would be time, later, for grief and rage. There would be time for tears. Now, though, was the time to clear the red from my vision and continue the mission that Fred had given his life for. I could begin where he had ended. Just one more time.

Nice one, George. Good thinking.

I heard the voice, and I could not tell whether it was his or mine. But really, it didn’t make much difference. Even though he was impossibly far away, we were still two halves of the same self. Maybe I would always hear his voice as though it was my own.

Good thinking, George. Now, we’ve got a battle to win.


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