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Chapter 6 : Fred Weasley
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When people speak about twins, they often say things like, ďThey were a teamĒ or ďYou never saw one without the otherĒ. And to an outsider, it might sound a little clichť. And I understand that. Certainly, it is hard to understand what it truly is like being a twin unless you are one, but growing up with twins gives you a little bit of insight into what itís like. Especially with a pair like Fred and George.
The twins were a team, neither was complete without the other. It was as simple as that. There were no ifs and buts about it. Though they both certainly had their own individual personalities, they were so close that you almost thought of them as one person. And that extended to everything they did. Where Fred was, George was. What George did, Fred did. It was that way for so long that it had almost gotten to the stage where it was strange seeing only one of the twins walking towards you.
It probably comes as a surprise to many that it was actually George who came up with Weasleysí Wizard Wheezes. No matter how much we all remember Fred and George as being an unstoppable force when put together, there is no doubt that Fred was the outspoken one and George, less so. Both were full of life and could easily make your head spin with all their jokes and humour, but there was no mistaking that Fred was always a little bit more boisterous than George.
George thought, while Fred did.
It was Fred who initially told me about the joke shop. The joke shop now is undoubtedly one of the most successful wizarding franchises and has expanded internationally over the years and, for what itís worth, I was the third person in the world who ever knew about it. My teenage self had thrived on knowing something that no one else did, but I think that has subdued over the years. What was once a secret that thrilled me to my toes is now something I laugh over. While itís true that it would be very rare for a person in the wizarding world to have never heard of the joke shop, I suppose you can only reverse so many spells that your three overly excited children love to use around the house before it starts to wear on you a little bit. I would never begrudge either of the twinsí successes, but I sometimes wonder if itís so necessary to give James eight free dungbombs or involve Albus so much in the testing of their products.
Fred had cornered me near the lake at Hogwarts. It was a windy day and I had come out for a breath of fresh air. Never one to enjoy being stuck indoors all day, I had raced outside the second the rain had stopped. My brothers knew it was dangerous to interrupt me when I was lying on the sweet smelling grass and watching the clouds chase each other through the sky, but not Fred.
Fred was always fearless.
I remember the excitement that had radiated from him that day. While he had always been an excitable person, this was something different. It was this warmth, this aura that I could feel from him. It was like his whole body had been incumbent for years and had suddenly been brought to life. He was bouncing on this toes, the smile on his face was one of the largest I had ever seen and, above all, he had this thrill in his eyes. Throughout my life, I had always remembered Fredís eyes to be happy and always smiling at you. Perhaps that was why it was so hard to take him seriously sometimes, you never knew if what he was saying was the truth or not and his eyes were always a dead giveaway.
Not this time.
This time, his eyes were unusually bright and as he told me in hurried whispers about his and Georgeís plans for the future, they sparkled at me with a determination and a life that I had never seen or associated Fred with before.
ďItís going to happen. Itís going to be huge,Ē he had whispered to me as we both lay down on the grass next to each other. And I as I looked at him, a small smile on his face and that excited glee in his eyes, I remember thinking that Fred had finally found something that he had wanted to do. Until that point, it was like he had just coasted through life and had taken whatever came at him with open arms. This was the first time that he had made the decision to pursue something he loved and if the nervous excitement that I felt from his body next to mine was any indication, I knew the joke shop would be a resounding success.
And, above all, I remember hoping that he would never forget that excitement, that his life would always be full of promise and his eyes would always be full of life.
Years later, as I sat in the Great Hall staring at the body of my older brother who was taken from the world too early, all I could do was stare at his face in utter shock. Someone had mercifully closed Fredís eyes and it looked like he was sleeping peacefully, a ghost of a smile still on his marred face. But, and I donít know if it was because I was delirious or just struck with grief, all I could imagine was what his body must have looked like just seconds after his death. All I could imagine was his eyes, grey and lifeless, the pupils staring at you, unfocussed and unblinking. Dull eyes with no vibrancy, no colour and, above all, no life.
It still haunts me.
I wake up sometimes in the middle of the night, shocked awake after a nightmare. I am not stranger to this and while it had steadily decreased over the years, I still find it difficult to sleep sometimes, even after so much time has passed since the horrors of yesterday. In my teenage years, my dreams were full of a boy whose seductive voice whispered all my insecurities to me. But after that horrible night, his face is always replaced by Fredís and his eyes become dull and lifeless, like what I imagined Fredís to be. And it unsettles me.
It unsettles me to think that Fred will never experience the true fruits of his labour, that he will never be able to stand by George at the twentieth anniversary of the shop and be able to take a moment to truly appreciate all the hard work that has gone into one of the most successful wizarding businesses of all time.
The rational part of me knows that, somewhere, Fred is walking around, carefree, full of joy and full of life. I still donít know if I believe in the afterlife, but it is impossible for me to accept that someone who was so full of life Fred can just cease to exist. His soul, that beautiful warmth and energy he brought to everyone, is still alive and I feel it all the time around me. I felt it on my wedding day, I felt it on the days when my children were born and I feel it whenever I wake up after another haunting nightmare about horrors past.
And I have to hold onto that. Because if I donít, the irrational part of me takes over. And I begin to think that Fredís life stopped. That he simply stopped existing. That his life, so full and vibrant one day, will now always be cold and lifeless. That I will never feel that excitement that I felt from him all those years ago ever again.
That image in my head of Fred lying, crumpled against a wall of Hogwarts, his limbs at awkward angles and his eyes staring blankly ahead, lifeless still haunts me. But every day it gets easier when I remember how much joy I saw in his eyes, lying next to him at the lake.
That joy lives on.
Fred lives on.
And so can I.
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