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Goodbye, Fred ((SPOILERS HP7p2!))
"You're joking, Perce!" shouted Fred as the Death Eater he was battling collapsed under the weight of three separate Stunning Spells. Thicknesse had fallen to the ground with tiny spikes erupting all over him; he seemed to be turning into some form of sea urchin. Fred looked at Percy with glee.
"You actually are joking, Perce. . . . I don't think I've heard you joke since you were--"
The air exploded. They had been grouped together, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Fred, Percy, the two Death Eaters at their feet, one Stunned, the other Transfigured; and in that fragment of a moment, when danger seemed temporarily at bay, the world was rent apart. Harry felt himself flying through the air, and all he could do was hold as tightly as possible to that thin stick of wood that was his one and only weapon, and shield his head in his arms: He heard the screams and yells of his companions without a hope of knowing what had happened to them--
And then the world resolved itself into pain and semidarkness: He was half buried in the wreckage of a corridor that had been subjected to a terrible attack.Cold air told him that the side of the castle had been blown away, and hot stickiness on his cheek told him that he was bleeding copiously. Then he heard a terrible cry that pulled at his insides, that expressed agony of a kind neither flame nor curse could cause, and he stood up, swaying, more frightened than he had been that day, more frightened, perhaps, than he had been in his life. . . .
And Hermione was struggling to her feet in the wreckage, and three redheaded men were grouped on the ground where the wall had blasted apart. Harry grabbed Hermione's hand as they staggered and stumbled over stone and wood.
"No--no--no!" someone was shouting. "No! Fred! No!"
And Percy was shaking his brother, and Ron was kneeling beside them, and Fred's eyes stared without seeing, the ghost of his last laugh still etched upon his face.
* * * *
"We've done it!" someone was shouting, around an hour later. "The battle is over! WE'VE WON!"
Cheering erupted from every angle. George clapped his friends on the back, then giving in and hugging everyone he could see. Matted hair and a dirt-caked face, he probably looked like rubbish--but he felt like a million galleons. The battle was over. The good side had won-Voldemort was dead! Finally, he thought.
George caught side of families huddling together, people kissing, people hugging--and then he saw the wreckage around them all.
Hardly anything had been left in tact. There were bodies everywhere, most of them with glossy eyes staring unseeing up into the night sky. It was too much to handle, overwhelming. And horrifying.
He shook his head and ran a nervous hand through his terribly mussed-up hair, eyes darting around the area for any sign that his family had been harmed. Fortunately, there were none.
And so he shrugged off the bad thoughts that were threatening to drag him under, pushed away the horrible images that floated through his mind. The Weasleys would be okay. Nothing would be wrong.
Instead of continuing to ponder the terror, George thought about what it would be like when he and Fred could keep up the shop. They'd sell more than ever now that Voldemort was gone, and business would boom. They would be able to afford a new house for their mum and family, and maybe even one of their own.
A faint smile gently tugged at the corners of his lips. Fred would like that, he knew. Not having to worry about Mum breathing down their necks all the time.
Speaking of Fred... he thought. Where was his twin brother?
George glanced around again, but there was no sign of his redheaded mirror-image.
"Hey!" he said, stopping someone he recognize a bit whom was walking in front of him. "Have you seen Fred? My twin--he looks just like me?" But she shook her head no, and so he continued walking.
Every person he asked had no idea, until finally he got the slightest bit of a clue where he might be able to find his brother. "Professor McGonagall!" he shouted, rushing over to the elderly woman. She was still in her nightclothes, looking extremely disheveled.
George asked, "Have you seen Fred anywhere?"
The Professor's eyes were bloodshot, but they gazed down at him with a gentleness. "Last I saw of him, he was dueling with your brother Percy up on the fifth floor. Oh, not on opposite sides of course--but there's my answer for you," she concluded. Then she nodded and squeezed his shoulder, making her way in the opposite direction.
George's hopes were through the roof. If he could just see Fred, see his family and know that everything was okay. . . .
But that didn't exactly happen, and what he saw began to surface his worries again. Almost the entire fifth floor had been blasted to smithereens, a gaping hole in the wall the size of. . . well, it was huge.
The small smile he had began to slowly fade as he walked along the mounds of crushed stone and wood, hoping against all hope that nothing had happened to his family in that place.
Everything is fine, George told himself. No one is gone. We're all okay.
The voice had erupted in the silence, causing him to recoil and spin around.
But it wasn't anything--or anyone--bad. Just a filthy Lee Jordan, caked in dirt with a grim expression on his face. "George. You're family's been looking for you in the Great Hall. I told them you're all right--but you'd better get down there."
The Weasley boy wasn't all that happy with the tone of his friend's voice, but he nodded and began to make his way down the stairs yet again.
Deep breath, he told himself. Nothing is wrong. The family just wants to make sure you're perfectly fine.
Although he wasn't quite convinced, he hurried down the last flight of stairs and finally spotted the Oak doors that led into the Hall, which were, surprisingly, open.
George's heart rate began to speed up. Everything's okay, he told himself again. Nothing is wrong.
However, when he got into the Hall, his hopes plummeted to below his feet. He felt a lump rise in his throat and tried to swallow the bile that had come with it, gaping at all of the bodies laying everywhere in the place.
George tried not to focus on any of the faces, but he did see the unmistakable purple hair of Nymphadora Tonks, and the scarred face of Remus Lupin laying beside her. He gulped again and then spotted a group of gingers huddled around something in the corner.
Oh, no. Oh, no no no no. Something's happened.
Reluctantly, George took steps toward his family, trying not to make out his mother's muffled sobs as she nuzzled into his father's chest. Oh, God what's happening? he thought.
He walked over to stand around them, pushing his way through Hermione and Ron's embrace, her tear-streaked face turning to look at him.
And then he noticed who it was, laying there on the table.
George felt his knees buckling beneath him, the world spinning around him. This could not be happening, this wasn't happening--
But it was. And his twin brother's eyes were glassed over, looking up at the ceiling he could not see. There was still a trace of happiness on his face--and so George knew that he'd died happy.
"Fred," he murmured, his voice cracking. "Fred!" George had begun to tremble violently, and was shaking his brother, as if trying to wake him up though he knew it would never happen. "FRED!" he screamed, tears making tracks down his dirty face. "You're not dead, Fred! I know it! YOU'RE STILL HERE! Fred, you CAN'T BE GONE!"
George was sobbing now, shaking the limp body of his brother. He shrugged off the comforting hand that his father placed on his arm.
"It's not fair," he whispered, kneeling on the bench next to the table where Fred's body was laying. "IT'S NOT FAIR! FRED SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN THE ONE TO DIE!" He pounded his fists on the table, completely ignoring the pain.
"My twin brother," he said to the body, voice cracking again. "You're my twin brother. The better-looking one. My partner in crime. My perfect playmate.
"My best friend," George whispered. "And now you're gone."
Ginny came over and wrapped her arms around him, but he did not return the embrace. His face was wet and sobs wracked his stout frame, eyes never straying from where he dead brother lay, the perfect companion that he had always enjoyed having again, gone forever. It felt like the world had ended,
* * *
As George screamed and denied the fact that his twin brother was dead, Fred's ghost stood behind him, tears streaming down his own face. It hurt himself to see his brother sobbing like that--but he could do nothing for him. Only hope that things would get better for him.
Don't worry, George, I'm going to heaven! Want to know how I know? Because you're holy, and I'm... dead. Please don't cry.
In loving memory of Fred Weasley, 1978-1997.