Chapter 4 : George Weasley
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George wandered into the garden and watched as the gnomes scurried about to try to hide from him. He had told his mother that he would try to de-gnome the garden, but he was sure that she knew as well as he did, that it was just an empty promise.
Most of the things the George had said lately had no real meaning. He liked to keep it that way. He didn’t want to think and he didn’t want to talk. He just wanted to be left alone. Unfortunately, no one wanted to allow him to be alone. Everyone wanted to talk to him. Everyone wanted to know how he was feeling.
He wanted to tell them the truth, but he knew they didn’t really want to know. They were just being polite. No one really knew what to say to him. They all would fidget uncomfortably and try to make their small talk. He would give them the answers he knew that they wanted to hear, before eventually releasing them from their discomfort while still fulfilling their self-imposed need to check up on him.
No one really needed to know how deep the wounds upon his heart truly were. There wasn’t one person that could even begin to understand how empty George felt. Never in his life had he ever felt so alone and lost. He had never been parted from Fred for anything longer than two days and that had only been because George had been quarantined thanks to a particularly nasty case of dragon pox.
Of course, Fred had never let a small thing like quarantine keep him from hanging out with his brother. He had charmed their chessboard to allow it to alternately traverse through the windows between the room the two of them had shared where George had been holed up and Ron’s room where Fred had been forced to stay until his brother was feeling better. It had been great fun and had nearly helped him forget that he had been ill. At least until a gust of wind had blown nearly all of their pieces off the board and into the garden where they had been promptly picked up and carried away by the gnomes.
With a sigh, George mentally shook himself out of his nostalgia and walked on towards the orchard. He forced himself to concentrate on clearing his mind as he walked the perimeter of the empty field. As he walked he realized that this was the first time that he had been back here in the orchard since the memorial.
That had been the worst day thus far. He knew that everyone wanted to be happy and celebrate Voldemort's defeat, but they were forced to suppress it all for the solemn occasion. They had all spoken in hushed whispers, and more than once he caught someone pointing at him and shaking their heads sadly.
He let them have their moments of pathetic pity. None of it mattered to him. He saw through their outwardly noble displays of sympathy to the truth behind their actions that were no more than obligatory acts of societal responsibilities void of any true feelings of remorse or grief.
So many people had come that George had barely even been able to see them all. If he were being honest, he hadn’t wanted to see most of them. He had been surprised that so many of their old schoolmates had come. While George had tried to be grateful that they had come to pay their respects, he nearly broke down completely as the memories that they had brought with them almost overwhelmed him. He knew that they had only had the best of intentions, but George did not want to remember any of it with them. Thankfully Angelina Johnson had picked up on his mood and silently redirected everyone away from where he had been trying so hard to hold it together.
Harry, of course, had been there, but then again he had also been living at The Burrow since the war had ended. Surprisingly, George had been grateful for his presence. Harry never tried to engage in the petty small talk, nor did he try to placate George with hollow words of condolences. For Harry, more so than anyone else, was horribly familiar with the raw ache that could only come from of losing the ones you love.
It had been Harry who had first called attention to the unmistakable signs that Fred had been sending to his twin throughout the ceremony. First had been the mysterious traveling stain on Fleur’s exquisitely designed French dress. She had desperately tried to clean it several times throughout the day only to have it appear elsewhere on her dress until found and scrubbed again later. Then had been the annoying large crow that seemed to squawk exceptionally loud whenever Percy opened his mouth to speak. The oddest part about it besides the fact that it was eerily quiet except for those times that Percy had tried to speak was that the crowing sounded like it had been saying “Peeerrfect Peeeerrrcy”. He hadn’t been sure if anyone else had picked up on it, but to George it was as clear as day.
The deciding factor, however, had been when an unseasonably strong wind had swept the seated mourners catching the large and ornate hat of Muriel Prewett, the obnoxious great-aunt of George and his siblings. Much to the amusement of everyone gathered, the hat was not the only thing that had been absconded with by the wayward wind. A mangled mess of a hairpiece that had apparently been held into place by the hat was also sailing through the sky and into the cornfield just beyond the edge of The Burrow’s property line. The existence of a hairpiece had been a frequent topic of speculation between Fred & George and solidified the awareness his beloved brother presence.
Whether or not Harry had been surprised by the intensity of the hug or confused by the whispered words of thanks that George had bestowed upon him was unclear. He hadn’t been able to stick around to explain anyway. The tears had begun to flow and he had retreated to his room for the duration of the day.
As he felt his eyes beginning to burn he realized that he had lingered to long in one place again. He quickly made his way to the lane that lead to the small muggle village of Ottery St Catchpole. He had made this journey several times a day since coming back to The Burrow. He found that he enjoyed the isolation of the road and the silence that came with it.
The familiar landscape along the lane was a relaxing escape into a world that required no thought or consideration from him. He quickly fell into the familiar and safe state of numbness that he constantly worked toward just attempt to appear as if he were a functional member of society.
He knew that eventually everyone would begin to forget and he would be expected to behave as though he was moving on. The whispers would change from ones of exaggerated sorrow to ones that question his continued state of bereavement and unwanted observations of the amount of time that has passed as if he were seriously delinquent on some secret timetable of expected mourning.
He would never be okay, but he knew that when the time was right he would plaster a smile on his face and press on as was expected of him. He supposed there might be a time when the pain would diminish, but he knew that he would never quit feeling as though half of him was missing. He would never be the person that he was before that fateful day.
Coming at last to the freshly disturbed mound of dirt that would eventually flatten out, but would forever stand between the two brothers, George dropped to his knees.
“Hey Freddie. I told you that I’d be back. Sorry I didn’t stay longer, but I’ve been kinda restless lately. Mom keeps calling it nervous energy, but I dunno. I just think too much if I stay in one place for too long,” he said with a sigh. “Nothing feels right without you. Dad keeps trying to convince me to open the shop back up, but it hurts too much to even think about it. I don’t know what I’m doing without you,” he whispered miserably.
He laid back and relaxed into the soft grass as the wind blew across the grounds and rustled the trees around him. He smiled to himself as he imagined the whispered words that he knew his brother had likely been sending along with the chilly gust.
“Don’t get yourself all worked up. I am not daft enough to throw away everything. I’m just not ready to return yet,” he replied to the unseen presence. “But I will. And when I do, I will make it the place that we always talked about. I’ll do it for you Freddie. Just like everything else I do. I will keep breathing; I will keep moving on and I will make you proud of me. I just need more time.”
George pulled himself up from the ground and knelt in front of the temporary headstone that would eventually be replaced by the magnificent marble one he had insisted on purchasing. He wiped a few stray tears away with the back of his hand and stared up into the sky.
“I need to keep moving, Freddie, but I’ll be back later.”
George left the cemetery with a whispered, “I love you,” and was comforted by the sound of distant thunder on this otherwise clear day. He knew that Fred hadn’t truly left him and would always be there for him whenever he was needed the most. He just needed to keep moving to find the strength to get through each day and hope that his brother would continue to watch over him for those days in which he felt the weakest.
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