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It had been a long hot day. James's hair stuck to the back of his neck as he walked down the path to the gate in front of his parent's cottage. He leaned over it, sighing, as there was no sign of life moving along the dirt road. The wind was picking up now, rolling across the field that bordered the road, rippling it as though it were a great golden ocean. Dark clouds were appearing on the horizon, framing the gold with dark blue. James looked over into Mrs. Wittle's yard, where the well endowed Mrs. Wittle herself was hastily pulling down her laundry in anticipation of the impending storm. She glanced at the clouds worryingly as she pulled down her last pair of pinstriped knickers, catching James in her eyesight and waving. James waved back, watching as she turned and collected her lawn gnomes and took them inside with her. James turned his attention back to the road, ruffling his hair in the wind. No sign of Sirius yet, but his excitement was mounting as the clouds approached. The darker it got, the higher the buzz rose in his stomach. He loved storms. All the better to run around in. He turned his back to the road once more, observing his home lazily. It was a traditional english cottage, boring enough, but pleasant for his parents. It was the woods just behind it that he enjoyed. He grinned sheepishly to himself, imagining his parent's faces if only they knew that he ran around in there turning into a great big - BAM! James spun around, his mouth dropping as thousands of glittering sparks rained down into the field, followed by a faint noise. There was a speck on the horizon, and it was laughing hysterically. The speck grew larger and larger to take the shape of a sixteen year old boy on a broomstick with several trunks swinging below him. Sirius Black had not yet landed, and yet he had already flown from London on a broomstick, in daylight, performed underage magic, in daylight, and had caused enough of a spectacle to draw Mrs. Wittle to her window. In daylight. James could not have been grinning wider as he threw open the gate to meet Sirius as he landed a few yards away.
"Nice" James laughed,
"And how are you?" Sirius grinning wildly, his black hair whipping in the wind.
"Fantastic, though I think Mrs. Wittle disapproves." James gestured with his thumb behind him. Sirius leaned sideways, looking past James to wave at the pursed-lipped Mrs. Wittle, who promptly shook her head and disappeared into her house.
"How wonderful, a neighbor!" Sirius smiled as James helped him untie all of his worldly belongings from the broom. "You know, I've always fancied this place. Peaceful. Desperately in need of my presence." He grinned, meeting James's eyes. James couldn't stop smiling as he took in his dearest friend. Sirius's black hair had grown just past his ears now. He was wearing an open collared maroon shirt, with the sleeves rolled up past his elbows, overtop of a black v-neck that was coupled with tight black jeans, dragon hide boots and black arm bands. This was the child he was about introduce to his parents as their temporary son. They had spoken to Sirius at the train station before, yes, but generally he had not been wearing anything that might give the impression that he had just come from the scene of a mugging on those occasions. It was perfect. The wind was blowing up both of their shirts, the dark clouds were on top of them and Sirius was moving in. James couldn't imagine a better day. Other than perhaps one that involved Lily confessing her complete and utter love for him in the great hall in front of everyone at school. But this was still a fantastic day.

Sirius was practically prancing up the path to James's front door, with James following along behind just as enthusiastically. Sirius paused at the door, looking back to James.
"Open it! It's your house too now," James laughed, as Sirius grinned widely, opening the door. The two boys stood in the entrance hall, kicking off their footwear. James took the lead past the living room where his parents were reading to the background tones of an old radio. They both looked up, smiling warmly as Sirius came to a halt before them,
"Thank you so much for this, I promise I'll look for a place of my own for next summer" Sirius mumbled as Mrs. Potter flew to her feet, taking him into an embrace.
"You can stay here as long as you like, Sirius." She said, patting his cheek, "we're so happy to have you. Plus it will be nice for James to have someone his age.." She looked to James, who smiled looking from his mother to his best friend. Mrs. Potter released Sirius,
"James will show you your room - it's just an old guest room, I'm afraid, but I hope you'll feel at home there. If there is anything at all that you need, just ask" She smiled,. Sirius nodded, smiling a rare smile of gratitude. James gestured towards the hall, and Sirius followed after him. james walked past his own room, plastered in posters of quidditch players and popular singers to a slightly smaller room, painted completely in white. Sirius threw his trunk on the bed, spinning around on the spot. James opened his mouth to apologize about the size when Sirius burst out,
"THIS IS BRILLIANT!"
"Really?" James asked,
"Oh my god, James, your parents... this is more than I imagined. When I wrote you I was hoping for maybe a spot on your floor or in your basement ... never a room for myself." Sirius blinked, looking around again.
"Oh, well perfect!" James laughed, "Mum said we can paint it any colour you'd like, so we can go into the Muggle village tomorrow and buy some."
"Really? That's amazing. Truly, wickedly amazing, mate." Sirius grinned as the rain began pouring down outside, hitting the bedroom window in sheets of white.

Sirius and James spent the evening unpacking, their talking and laughing mixing like a medley with the thunder above. Towards the end of the night James found himself rolling on the floor with laughter after having caught Sirius attempting to slyly slip a stack of WickedWitches magazines under his new pillows. He was roused from his fits of laugher by Mrs. Potter calling them both to the kitchen. Sirius tossed the dirty magazines aside as they both headed out the door. Mrs. Potter had two large bowls of strawberries mixed with whipped cream on the table for them. She set her wand on the counter as the boys entered the kitchen, and passed them the bowls.
"You can eat wherever you like" She smiled, "mind there's a lovely light show going on outside," she gestured out the window at the chairs on the covered porch with a wink as she returned to the living room. Once the two empty bowls were resting on the wet edge of the deck, the two teenage wizards stood staring out into the inviting shadow of the woods against a flash of lightning. James looked over to Sirius who had his wand tucked into his back pocket. The buzz in his stomach had returned. They were immortal, really. Nothing could hurt them as long as they had their wands. That, coupled with their animagus forms and their undoubtably unparalleled wit - they were invincible. James's eyes caught Sirius's in another flash of lightning, who had an eyebrow arched over his reckless grin.
"Care for a run?" Sirius asked casually,
"Sounds freshening" James breathed,  and without another word Sirius took off towards the woods. James took off at a run right behind him, their slim silhouettes caught in several flashes of light as they neared the edge of the trees. Sirius whipped out his wand with a bark of laugher and shot off red sparks into the sky to challenge the lightning's domain.  James laughed, running through the trees parallel to Sirius at a dangerous speed. They shot sparks and disarming spells at each other, the sound of their roaring laughter and ricocheting spells drowned out by the storm. Branches scratched their arms, and mud splashed up their legs and they ran on, laughing and ducking each others shots. James lost sight of Sirius in the dark, and fell back to a stop to catch his breath. Just as he bent over to think, a giant bear like dog jumped off a tree and landed with a thunderous bark just feet away from him. James yelled, stumbling back over branches, landing in a fit of laughter as the dog stood over him, placing a heavy paw on his chest to declare victory. James rolled himself back onto his feet, still panting. He stuck his wand in a nearby tree, and he took off his sweater and tied it around the trunk. James turned back to Sirius-the-dog with a wild look in his eyes and dove towards him in the dark, the figure of a large stag replacing him in the next flash of light. The two large creatures ran on through the woods, leaping over fallen trees and dislodging bark and branches from the standing trees in their way.  

*

A beam of sunlight had found its way right on top of James's eyelids the following morning. James lifted a hand over his eyes in a shooing motion, before he rolled onto his side, moaning as he opened them. He was laying sideways on his bed, fully clothed, and covered in mud. He untangled himself from his blankets to find his clothes mostly torn beyond repair. He slipped on sweatpants and a t-shirt before sticking his muddy head out into the hall to detect wether or not his parents were around, before tip-toeing over to the next room. A muddy lump James took to be Sirius was curled up in a ball on the end of his bed, tangled in his own blanket. James snorted, shutting Sirius's door and darting to the bathroom for a shower. Twenty minutes later, a freshly clean James returned to the dormant Sirius's room, and pelted him with a wet towel. Sirius woke with a start, unsure of where he was, and fell to the floor in a heap of mud, hair and torn fabric.

After a shower and breakfast, Sirius joined James for a sheepish walk in the woods to retrieve their wants. James had no trouble finding his along with his sweater, and after permitting Sirius five minutes of dignity to try and locate his on his own, performed a summoning spell and retrieved it for him. The two boys stowed their wands in their back pockets and headed towards the dirt road, destined for the muggle town. It was a twenty minute walk shortened by their retellings of last night's escapades, and Sirius swearing he had spotted a rogue hippogriff in he woods. Once they reached the town, they stopped for tea at a muggle shop. Sirius watched, eyebrows raised, as James smoothly made the transaction with muggle money. He did not, however miss the chance to wink as the pretty cash girl on their way out. They had to be careful here, for where it was alright to use magic around James's house, in the muggle village it would be asking for a nice plump letter from the Improper Use of Magic office. The boys next stopped at the paint shop, where Sirius took half an hour choosing between a variety of greys. Though after being reassured that he could literally do anything he wanted with the walls in his room, he purchased a large can of red and another of gold. James paid again, and they embarked on the long painful walk back to James's place, resentful that magic could not carry the forty pounds of paint for them. Back at the cottage Mrs. Potter had laid a plastic sheet over all of Sirius's belongings (and had removed the muddy sheets) for them. The boys enthusiastically began painting in a style Sirius described as worthy of the Louvre, which consisted of the two wizards pointing their wands at the paint cans, and splattering the walls with the gryffindor colours in an wildly abstract pattern. Soon enough the two of them were red and gold themselves, and again, clothes were being destroyed. James caught a mouth full of paint splatter as he laughed at Sirius's self painted paw print tattoos on his shoulders.
"I'll get these for real one day," Sirius laughed as James sputtered gold all over the plastic sheets. "Once we're out of school and we all move somewhere close to each other - you, me, Remus and Pete - it will be the best times ever. And I'll have tattoos and a motorcycle, and Remus will have us on the full moon, and we'll all have money."
"And Lily will be my girlfriend." James nodded,
"Yes," Sirius rolled his eyes laughing, "Lily Evans will be your girlfriend."
And so, covered in paint,  James and Sirius continued to laugh, as they dreamed aloud about their futures and all the fun that was yet to be had.
"It will be brilliant."
Yeah.. fanfiction. I used to write so much marauder fanfiction when I was 12, but I just stopped. Anyway. This isn't that good, I did it all in one sitting earlier today.

Anywayyy... some James and Sirius love for y'all.
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God, the corridor was in ruins.  George ducked his head through the haze of smoke and debris and struggled down the hallway.  He was sure he had heard Percy yelling, but now the floor was deserted.  Flashes and bangs echoed from up ahead, but they were already in the stairwell.  He held his wand out in front of him, waiting for the slightest movement.

He ran over the litany of his family members as he struggled down the hallway.  He had just seen Bill going after Fenrir Greyback mere minutes ago; Fleur and Kingsley were with him, so he pushed them aside.  His mother and father, the last he had seen, had been fighting on the second floor; they had attempted to follow Tonks and Lupin onto the grounds but were cut off by several Death Eaters.  He had no idea where Charlie or Ginny were; his stomach churned.  If Ginny got killed… he tripped over a fragmented suit of armor.  Ron and Percy, he was sure, had been in this hallway with Harry and Hermione.  He hoped Fred was with them.  He and Fred had been fighting back to back; he grinned remembering… they had been something to see, throwing curses and dodging hexes like clockwork.  But then George had seen Dolohov and had yelled at Fred to come along, streaking off down the hallway.  That was the last he knew of where Fred was, and that was over fifteen minutes ago.  He hoped Fred was with Percy and Ron; if anything happened to Percy, after just getting over being a git, George would kick himself (and Fred too), and Ron…

“Ickle Ronnie,” George muttered under his breath.

The haze in the hallway was clearing, and George was almost free of the rubble.  There was a gaping hole in the wall and a chill breeze blew through from the grounds.  Yells and flashes reverberated in the empty corridor, filtering up from the battle outside.  He lifted his leg to step over a chunk of the wall when a flash of ginger caught his eye.

“Lumos!”

His beam of light fell into the dark crevice where a suit of armor normally stood; he knew because he and Fred used to hide extra stashes of Dungbombs in it during the school year.  But now the suit was gone and the space was occupied, instead, by a hunched over figure with red hair.

“Fred?”

The figure didn’t move.

“Fred, are you hurt?”

There was a bang from down the hallway and a faint cry.  George glanced back down the corridor and directed his wand at his twin.

“Rennervate!  Now come on, you prat, I think Perce is in trouble, and I haven’t seen Ginny at all… Fred?”

His twin still hadn’t moved.  George blinked.

“Rennervate!”

He jumped over the rubble and landed next to the still form.  His movement dislodged his twin’s shoulder and he rolled out into the hallway, face up.

George dropped to his knees, jabbed his wand directly onto Fred’s heart and shouted, “Rennervate!”

Fred’s eyes fluttered open, and he grinned. “Strong stuff, our Fainting Fancies, aren’t they?”  And he began to laugh…

George’s eyes flew open, his breathing heavy.  He stared at the ceiling, the darkness obscuring the many smoke stains and scorch marks from his and Fred’s experiments.  An owl hooted from somewhere outside.

For the past two weeks, his dream had been the same, except for that last line.  But it was always a last line.  Fred always woke up, each time with a new retort.  George rolled over onto his side, away from his twin’s empty bunk across from him.  The right side of his head throbbed where his ear should be.

Each night it was the same; instead of remaining cold and motionless on the stone of the destroyed hallway, his brother woke up.  But George had no idea what came after that, for he was always jolted awake by his twin’s laughter and failed to fall back asleep afterwards.  He leaned over in bed and shoved his window open, letting the early morning chill slide into his room.  George shivered and wrapped himself more tightly in his quilt, knowing he would not be able to get back to sleep; knowing he’d have to wait out the two hours left before dawn in dark, contemplative silence while waiting to face the day he had been dreading for two weeks.

This was the day he was going back to Diagon Alley.  He had made up his mind; Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes had been closed for over a year now; he wouldn’t be surprised if his and Fred’s protective spells had worn off and all their wares had been stolen.  He didn’t care much at the moment about their stock, but he needed to get back and see what shape the store was in.  

He was dreading it so much that his stomach had been in a perpetual knot ever since he had told his father his plan.

“George, you should take someone with you.”

He had shaken his head. “I’m going alone.”

“People could have broken in… Death Eaters… you had some advanced stuff in there… the darkness powder… there could be residual curses in the place.”

His mother had had different reasons.  

“Oh Georgie,” she nearly whispered to him. “Take Charlie or Ron with you.  You need someone with you… that whole place… you and Freddie…”

“No, Mum.  I’m going by myself.”

She hadn’t had another chance to argue with him, mostly because he took pains now to stay away from his family.  He saw the hopeless way their eyes lit up when he entered a room, as if Fred had suddenly Apparated into their midst, before the grief of realization took hold that no—it was not Fred.  It was just George.

He understood it perhaps better than any of them, but it didn’t make him feel any more apt to be sympathetic.  Every time he passed a mirror, he jumped at the pale and hollow reflection of his twin staring back at him, until the twin slowly morphed back into himself.  His dreams didn’t help erase the image of his brother, his twin, his other half, himself lying there in the corridor, unresponsive to his attempts at reviving the lifeless form…

George squeezed his eyes shut tight against the charcoal morning sky, remembering how the events afterwards had happened in slow motion, as if moving through water.  He had kneeled, eyes locked on his face reflected back up at him, wan, still, and cold, until he could no longer tell whether it was he who was dead and Fred staring down at him.  Then he had Summoned Fred’s wand, shattered, and hoisted the body of his brother over his shoulder, stumbling back down the hallway.

It had never occurred to him to worry that his twin would be killed—obviously he knew that it was a possibility, but in his whole time wondering whether any of his family were left alive, he had never dwelled on Fred, because Fred couldn’t die.  Fred was invincible, a force of nature.  

He had met no resistance as he struggled back to the Great Hall.  He was coming down the main staircase, chunked and stained from the battle raging in the castle, when he heard a cry from behind him.

“George… Fred… no, no!”

He half turned to see his father flying down the stairs towards him.  “Who… which…” his eyes flew to George’s missing ear.  “Fred,” he whispered. “Fred… no… no!”

Arthur had fallen upon them both, all three sinking to the ground.  Sobs began to rack his father’s frame as he searched Fred’s face for any signs of life.  

He heard his mother’s scream.  The whole world seemed to jump into sharp, brutal focus when the high-pitched wail rent the air.  George struggled backwards from the body of Fred as his mother threw herself onto his twin’s still chest.

George had gotten to his feet and run away from the Great Hall, the pounding of his feet drowned by the roaring in his ears and the cries from the castle.  He headed for the door to the grounds, suddenly wishing to be out in the open, somewhere where he would be found by an opponent too skilled to fight against and win.  The great double doors had been blown off their hinges, and he made for the opening to the flashing and boiling grounds, wanting only to come to the end of a wand, any wand, that would end the horrible nightmare he was running through…

He came up short as figures struggled through the doorway.  He did not raise his wand; he couldn’t even feel his body.

“Who’s that?” came a sharp, deep voice. “I’m warning you… Weasley!  Fred!  Or George?  Ah, George, your ear, I see.  Move those rafters for me, will you?”

Kingsley’s voice sounded oddly strained as he pushed his way through the wreckage of the doors, and soon George saw why.  The man passed him, carrying a figure over his back much as George had done with his twin, and the light from his still-lit wand fell across the silent face of Remus Lupin.  Bill was following closely behind, Tonks draped in his arms.  Her hair was brown.

“Fred… no, sorry, George.” Bill’s voice cracked. “They fell… almost together.  They practically died in each other’s arms… they went down fighting… God, I’ll never forget… have you see Mum and Dad?  Help us get these two to the Great Hall… George, what’s wrong?”

George stared at the frozen faces of Lupin and Tonks as Kingsley moved farther into the hallway.  

“George?” Bill shifted Tonks in his arms.  “George, what’s happened?”

He pulled his eyes away from Tonks and looked up at his brother.  “Fred… he…”

Bill hesitated, staring at George, then pivoted on the spot and ran into the hall.  George gazed straight ahead, out onto the grounds, hearing his mother’s renewed cries at the arrival of Lupin and Tonks and his older brother’s hoarse yell.

Someone else was running to the doors, hair flying in dark ropes, but there was a figure chasing her… she didn’t see him… she wasn’t going to make it.  Without thinking, George hurtled through the doorway.

“STUPEFY!”

His red jet shot past Angelina Johnson and sent Dolohov backwards, slamming him motionless to the ground.  His hand shook as he held it out in front of him.

“Fred!”

Her hands grabbed his t-shirt, and she whirled him around, laughing, and kissed him full on the mouth.  “Marry me, Weasley.  Promise me if we get out of this alive, you’ll marry me and we’ll—George!”

She dropped him like a hot coal.  “I’m sorry George, I thought you were your brother…where is he?”  She grinned again.  “I have to make him promise to—”

“Angelina,” he interrupted, “he’s dead.”

The smile froze on her face, seconds slid by, and then her expression became replaced by a look of horror.  For the second time, she grabbed his shirt. “No, George, no…”

But now hot torrents of tears suddenly burst forth from his eyes at the realization of what he had just said aloud, was happening to him, what his world was going to be like…

And he had been right.  He shifted in his bed, pressing his face into his pillow.  His mother, on three occasions, had drawn him tightly to her, crying into his hair, murmuring “Freddie, Freddie,” until George had to remind her who he was.  He constantly regretted this, though, as it made her feel worse.

“George, dear,” she said to him one night last week after finding him on the roof. “You know I love you, you know we all do.  These coming weeks will be so hard for us, and for you.  Georgie, you just have to understand, you look—”

“—exactly like him,” he finished for her.  “I know, Mum, I grew up with him for twenty years.”

He shivered again in the chill breeze coming through his window and flung his quilt away from him.  He couldn’t keep lying in bed, going back over the last two weeks until the sun rose.  He pulled on a pair of trousers and a button-down shirt, and then slid silently from his room and down the hall, moving as quietly as he could.  

He passed Ginny and Percy’s rooms, efficiently avoiding the boards he knew creaked.  Harry was upstairs in Ron’s room, but Hermione had hop-scotched continents, Apparating until she got to Australia, where she revived her parents’ memories.  As far as he knew, she was still there.  He wished she would hurry up and get back; Ron was even more silent and touchy with her gone.

He reached the dim kitchen and scribbled a note hastily for his mother.  He didn’t plan on coming back to the house that day, and he didn’t want her to worry more than he knew she already would.  He left the note on the scrubbed table and opened the door onto the 4 am drizzle.  

He walked for a while up to the hill where he and his brothers used to play Quidditch.  His breath fogged in front of him, despite the fact that August was closing in upon Ottery St. Catchpole.  As he neared the crest of the hill, ringed with trees, he suddenly turned and headed to his left, where a small wall of stones marked the graveyard of the Weasley family.

He weaved in and out among the silent tombstones, the dewy grass soaking his shoes and numbing his feet.  He finally reached the freshest grave, the one that had been dug just six days prior.  His knees buckled and he sat down hard on the settling earth, facing the cold headstone.

He didn’t speak for a while, staring at the motionless, carved marks representing his brother’s name.  FRED WEASLEY, it read.  BELOVED GIFT OF LAUGHTER.  Strewn about the base were various items others had left there during and after the ceremony; several King of Hearts playing cards, some flowers that were beginning to wither, a Gryffindor badge, a miniature beater’s club.  Harry’s first Golden Snitch, its wings finally still.  

The ceremony had been extremely uncomfortable for George.  He sat at the end of his family, next to Charlie.  On his other side was Angelina Johnson, who sat through the service with her head bowed and one hand over her mouth, as if to keep all her grief from pouring out.  During Lee Jordan’s eulogy, a sharp, dry sob broke through her fingers, and George reached out and took her free hand in his.  She squeezed it in return and let her tears fall down her face.  

George had been asked to give a eulogy after Lee.  He had declined.  There was no way he could weave any kind of meaningful message into a string of words, so limited in their expression of what he needed to say about his brother.  So Ron had stepped up to speak instead.  He did a good job, but George couldn’t look at him.

He had asked, however, to be a pallbearer.  He hoisted the box holding his brother’s body onto his shoulder, feeling the weight of his twenty years sink down into his chest.  With Bill, Charlie, Ron, Percy, and Lee, they had carried Fred to the mouth in the ground and allowed him to be swallowed by the earth.  

During the reception back at the Burrow, George had been quiet and still, tucked into a corner of the lawn.  He watched as people milled around and greeted each other, embracing.  Some laughed, some cried.  They stayed away from him, casting furtive glances in his direction before looking quickly away.

Two people, one of his older aunts and a second cousin, had come within hearing range, but they hadn’t noticed George sitting among the hedge.

“—poor Molly just doesn’t know what to do with herself; did you see her during the ceremony?”

“It’s a hard thing, to be sure, but maybe it’s the best of the situation, or perhaps the worst, depending on your point of view.”

“Well, as I told Myrna, Fred will always be young, he will always be beautiful…”

“But that’s just it, don’t you see?  He won’t be either of those things at all.”

“How awful of you to say!  What do you mean?”

“Only this: when someone dies, then yes, their memory is preserved as they were in life, in Fred’s case, indeed, young, exuberant, charming… but his spitting image is still alive, isn’t he?  Fred won’t be remembered the way Fred was; Fred will be remembered the way George is.  They were inseparable during life, and I’m afraid they’re going to continue being inseparable.”

“But surely you don’t… what a horrible thing to suggest… as if… as if one could take the place of the other!”

“I didn’t say interchangeable, did I?  But if you want to get right down to it…”

George hadn’t stayed to hear more.  He rolled backwards, right through the hedge, coming out into the field on the opposite side.  He picked himself up and set off at a brisk and determined walk.  At the edge of the field was a shed where his mother kept gardening tools and old brooms.  He wrenched open the door and kneeled down on the wooden floor.

He set his wand against a plank with a crescent-shaped chunk missing from it.  “Zebedeo Zonko is my hero,” he said aloud.  

The crescent divot stretched into a mouth and began to squeak with laughter before opening up and revealing an impressive stash of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes; boxes of discarded Snackbox ideas (the Palpitating Petit-Fours never worked quite right), dangerously strong love potions (Charlie had developed a frightening obsession with a Muggle short-order waitress until they had managed to slip him an antidote), Decoy Detonators that ran for miles until finally exploding, and a large cache of Wildfire Whiz-bangs.  George leaned in and scooped up as many of the fireworks as he could carry, bewitching the others to float along after him.  Shifting them in his arms, he replaced the board, whispered, “the fun is done” to lock it, and left the shed.

Fred didn’t want Lee Jordan and Angelina Johnson dressed in black, kneeling over a piece of stone.  He didn’t want his mother crying unceasingly and his father unable to keep a steady hold on his wand.  He didn’t want Ron, Bill, Percy, Charlie, and Ginny to be hugged and consoled by relatives they hardly knew.  And hell, he did not want his twin brother to be avoided and whispered about or satisfied with lowering a coffin into the ground.

Fred wanted to go out with a bang.

“Fecking git,” George said out as he reached the hedge once more.  He dropped his armload of fireworks and began to arrange them.  “You really are, Fred, I hope you realize.  We’ve hardly tested some of these.  I hope one hits Muriel; it would take something about as dire as a meteor crash to finish her off.  Shite.  At the very least one might hit the house; maybe it’ll explode in our room.  That would be a suitable goodbye from you, don’t you think?  Bullocks.”

He stepped back, pointed his wand at the first volley, and sent a jet of sparks into its midst.

George was blown off his feet as the set went whistling and cart-wheeling into the air, rending the night sky with smoke and fire.  He heard momentary cries from the lawn.  Scrambling back to his knees, he set off the next wave, sending streaks of blue and green sparks three stories into the air.  The cries began to turn to applause and shouts of laughter.  He heard Ginny and Lee begin to chant Fred’s name as he set off a volley of Catherine Wheels.  Some of these rocketed into the heavens, others just barely made it over the hedge and went whirling off to wreak havoc on the lawn.  Reports and stars rained down over the Burrow; tides of skyrockets, roman candles, and night parachutes blazed through the air and set the clouds alight.  He lit a fistful of strobes and hurled them over the hedge, making the lawn flash in a dozen different colors.  Double and triple aerial shells split the dazzling sky with fountains of red and gold, some petering out halfway through, others exploding into spheres of light a quarter of a mile wide.  His face blackened and his dress robes scorched, George sent a final jet of sparks into his last and most uncertain pile of cakes; he then streaked off in the opposite direction and flung himself into a ditch as the volley went off like a round of Muggle artillery fire.  He lifted his head and watched the final display, silently praising himself and his twin for their superb handiwork.  Glittering phoenixes burst from the flames and sailed off into the skies; dragons and snakes and winged horses swept over the crowd and into the clouds.  After a final, terrifying report, a massive scarlet F split the night.

“Damn you, Fred,” George said, half laughing, half choking as tears ran in sooty rivulets down his smoke-stained face. “That was supposed to be a W.”

George leaned forward and brushed the damp headstone with his fingers.  A chaotic fireworks display was definitely more suitable for a tribute to Fred than a lifeless stone was.  After leaving the sanctity of the ditch, George had Apparated back inside, scrubbed his face, and locked himself in his room.  Each of his family members rapped on his door as they came back in, one by one, after the reception ended.  He didn’t answer any of them, and they all left him alone, except for Ginny.

“George,” she said through the wall. “I know you’re not asleep, and I know you won’t come out, but that was brilliant, what you did tonight.  It was perfect… you know, a Catherine Wheel nearly destroyed Aunt Muriel… Dad had to do the protego charm to keep her from being steamrollered… food was flying everywhere… the gnomes were terrified beyond their wits… Percy’s best cauldron has a great melted split up the side… George.”  She was crying.  “I just wanted to tell you that.  It’s how he would have wanted to go.  Anyway.  Goodnight.  I love you, Weasley, and you know he loves you, too.”

A watery pink fringe was spreading across the horizon.  George rubbed his eyes, bleary and ringed from his two-week long insomnia, and got to his feet.

“I’m going back to the shop today,” he said, gazing down at the headstone.  “Just to see how much damage has been done.  Just to get a feel for…” he took a breath. “I don’t know if I can do it, mate.  Keep it up, that is.  I don’t know how I can work there… now.  I don’t know what I’ll do instead, though… we never did come up with any other options… Dad’d always give me a job… or chasing dragons with Charlie wouldn’t be so bad…”  He trailed off, running down the list of things his twin would have called him had he ever suggested switching to a Ministry career.  “I think I’ll go now, to avoid the morning crowd,” he said, more to himself than Fred.  “Repair crews are starting to show up, I’ve heard, and some businesses have already reopened.”  He pushed his toe into the dirt by the headstone.  “So… that’s what I’ll be doing.  You have a nice long rest for me; catch up on the forty or so hours of sleep I’ve lost in the last two weeks…”

He stood a moment longer in front of Fred’s grave, and then turned sharply on the spot and Apparated to London.

The Leaky Cauldron was completely empty, which George was thankful for as he passed quietly through.  Tapping the bricks on the wall behind the pub, he marveled briefly over how much Diagon Alley had transformed in the year he had been gone.  

The cobbled street had a darkness about it that was not due to the gray morning light.  Almost every opening was boarded, every surface grimy with neglect.  There was absolutely no one out.  Even at this hour before the war, there would have been bakers, vendors, and shopkeepers setting out their wares and sweeping out their stores.  He and Fred had never liked getting up that early, but there were a few times it had been necessary, and the Alley was a completely different world than during the day; serene, peaceful, and quiet.  Now the silence was ominous and heavy, and traces of smoke and acid stung the dewy air.  He passed Florean Fortescue’s empty ice cream parlor and the stained display cases of Flourish and Blott’s.  With a wrench of his heart, he walked past Ollivander’s, the windows smashed and foul words scrawled around the doorframe.  No doubt every wand inside had been stolen or tampered with.  He clutched his own wand tightly in his hand, remembering the day he had gotten it with Fred in Ollivander’s eight years before.  The finish was wearing off and the tip was scorched from many an experiment gone awry, but it had never failed him yet.  He and Fred both had unicorn-hair cores, not twin ones, but from a pair of males who had been foaled together.  He passed by the dilapidated store, recalling the fragments of Fred’s wand that had been buried with him.  All except a shard of the tip.  George had kept that one.

He neared Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes and couldn’t decide whether he was relieved or dejected that the window was still intact.  The bright orange and purple lettering had faded slightly, and the glass was scratched and filmed with dirt, making it impossible to see inside.  He placed his hand on the doorknob, but the lock charm was still, surprisingly, effective.  

“Alohomora,” he murmured, proceeding to lift the half-dozen protective spells encasing the storefront.  He then lit his wand, took a short, sharp breath, and pushed the door open.  

His wand cast a watery, dismal light as he stepped over the threshold, throwing shelves and boxes into shadow.  His tired eyes swept the room.  Cobwebs lay thickly over every surface, and the floor was carpeted with dust.  A few items blinked and glittered feebly in the pale light, still attempting to work properly, and something somewhere was emitting a faint peeping sound, which the Canary Creams tended to do after they had lived out their shelf life.  Almost everything else, however, was silent and still.  

George paused, realizing the enormity of what this shop was—his and Fred’s entire life was stacked in here; countless results of tireless testing, conniving, and chiding that they had been working on since they could first perform levitating charms.  He took his hand off of the doorknob and stepped further into the room.

The hex was immediate.  George’s legs and arms snapped to his sides; his wand clattered to the floor and rolled away, still lit, under one of the shelves.  He twisted jerkily to avoid landing on his face as he crashed to the dusty wooden floor of the shop.

Bloody hell, he thought, his jaw locked shut.  Shite.  Bullocks.  Damn, damn, damn.

How stupid could he get?  He and Fred had always had a great laugh from having someone enter their shop before they had lifted the Full-Body Bind curse from the perimeter.  They had pulled it on Lee, and on Ron, and also on Ginny (although her Bat-Bogey hex made them slightly regret it later).  Why the hell had he forgotten about it?  He struggled, thinking that maybe the spell had lost some of its potency in its dormant months, but he remained completely paralyzed, his cheek pressed into the inch-thick dirt.  His nose tickled, but he couldn’t move it; with his mouth shut, he was inhaling streams of dust… his eyes began to water, he couldn’t sneeze… this could be painful…

“George?”

It felt as though a great iron fist had suddenly opened around him; he rolled onto his back and sneezed explosively three times in succession.  Wiping his teary eyes on his sleeve, he looked up into the doorway to see two dark figures silhouetted against the lightening morning sky.  The taller one was waving her wand, lifting the Body Bind curse.  The shorter one stepped forward and pulled George to his feet.

“Serves you right,” Lee Jordan said, beating the dust away from George with enough strength to repel a Bludger. “You pulled that on me once, remember?  ‘Oh, go ahead, Lee, we just have to nip over to our Gringott’s vault...’  Are you alright?”

“Yeah,” he replied, blinking as warm light flooded the room.  Angelina Johnson put her wand down.  “How did you know I was here?”

“Your mum Flooed my fireplace ten minutes ago,” Lee answered.  “Scared the hell out of me.  Said you had left a note in the kitchen and that she didn’t want you here by yourself.  Angelina’s staying with me until her parents get back from the Kazembes’ funeral in Senegal.”

“You look awful, George,” she said.  “Haven’t you slept at all?”

“Hardly,” he answered.  “The git keeps waking me up at wee hours of the morning.  Somebody Summon my wand, will you?”

The thin stick of wood came shooting out from underneath the shelf.  Angelina caught it and handed it to him.  “Thanks,” he said, glancing at her. “No offense, Johnson, I love you dearly, but you’re really not one to talk about me looking awful.”

She shrugged her tired shoulders, a heaviness weighing down her normally upbeat features.  “What can I say, George, I wanted to marry your brother.”

Lee had walked further into the shop.  “It looks like all your crap is still here, Weasley.  Most of it’s kaput, and these Canary Creams seem to be molting everywhere, but at least nobody’s nicked anything.”

George began to follow Lee, weaving up and down the shelves, brushing his fingers over the piles of his and Fred’s handiwork.  Everything was silent and forlorn.  The Decoy Detonators lay on their sides with their little legs splayed out, the Headless Hats were half-vanished, and a few Nose-Biting Teacups had wearily clamped themselves onto confused fake wands.  

Everything he passed made his heart rend and shatter, until he felt as though his whole body was an old rag that had been squeezed and wrung out too many times.  Fred had once blown a hole in his dorm bed hangings while testing those Christmas Crackers; Fred had once made a second-year Gryffindor girl fall madly in love with Professor Flitwick when his love potion flask exploded at the breakfast table; Fred had once turned the entire Slytherin Quidditch team into canaries an hour before their match with Hufflepuff…

He reached the back wall and stopped, leaning on a shelf.  Tears pricked his eyes; this was why he had wanted to come alone.  He heard Lee and Angelina moving slowly up the next row.  George rubbed his eyes furiously and rested his forehead against the wood of the shelf, feeling a Whizgigging Warbler tap wearily against his head.  

A pair of brown arms wrapped around his chest, hugging him tightly.  He heard a sharp sniff as Angelina laid her head against his shoulder.  He paused a moment, then wriggled away from her and turned around.

“I’m not Fred,” he said hoarsely.  “I never was Fred, I’ll never be Fred.”  He felt everything he wanted to say to his mother and father and every last relative come shooting full force out at Angelina, who stood silently, tears sparkling in her eyes.  “No matter how much we look alike, no matter how much we sound alike, or… or talk or walk or think alike, we’re not the same person.  We’re not interchangeable.”  Lee had come around the row of shelves and stood next to Angelina, his eyebrows snapped down at George’s raised voice.  “You—both of you—all of you—you think I’m… I’m like Fred reincarnated or something, like I can be both him and me… But I’m not, I won’t…”  He gripped his wand as if he expected to be attacked; red sparks spat out the end of it.  “You can’t make me be Fred.”

“You git—” Lee began, but Angelina cut him off.

“Don’t flatter yourself,” she said flatly.  “I never loved you the way I loved him.  Yeah, you two look exactly alike, but believe me, after one gets over the temporary shock of thinking they’re seeing Fred, no one could ever think you were anyone but yourself.”  She had meant it to be hurtful, but her voice broke halfway through, and tears began to stream down her face.  She looked directly at him and said in a different, more anguished voice, “You said it yourself, George.  You’re not Fred; you never were and you never will be.”

Gratitude burst forth from George like a spring flood, he leaned back against the shelves with both hands over his face, crying as he had not allowed himself to cry yet, not even when he was cradling his dead twin’s head in his hands two weeks ago.  Two pairs of arms wrapped around him; the three friends cried unabashedly at the hole in their lives left by George’s twin and the solace they now found in simply being together, that some shred of normalcy was left after the ravages left by the war.  Some arbitrary toy on a shelf registered their noise and began to wail as well, which set off the rest of its shelf, and soon every noise-making item in the store was adding its own sounds to the chorus of cries.  George, Angelina, and Lee stood pressed together amid the mourning shop, their cries slowly turning into laughter at the ridiculous noise.  

“I’m sorry,” George said to Angelina once he had finally regained control of his voice.  “I didn’t mean to go off on you like that… I know you didn’t mean anything… but everybody… at the funeral, and my mum and all, it’s just been driving me up the wall…”

“I know,” she replied, squeezing him and kissing his cheek. “You have a very rough couple of months coming ahead of you, George Weasley, but you know we’ll always be right by your side.”

“Hell,” Lee said hoarsely, wiping his damp cheeks. “I’d be more by your side if I had something to eat… it’s nearly time for breakfast.  You still have that stash of Pumpkin Pasties in the back?”  He made for the store room.

“They’ve surely all gone stale by now,” George called after him. “There should be some unopened bottles of butterbeer, though, that might still be good.”

Five minutes later, the trio sat around the front counter with a pile of slightly stale pasties and Cauldron Cakes between them and a bottle of butterbeer each.  They sipped their bottles in silence, each absorbed in a different string of thoughts.

“You know what you should do, George,” Angelina said.  She was sitting in front of the counter and was staring at the wall behind it.  Currently, it was plastered with promotional posters and merchandise.  “You should sanction off this wall and make it a tribute… you know, cover it with pictures of Fred… I have two or three you could put up…”

“Yeah,” Lee put in. “But you should put up everybody, you know, people we’ve lost along the way.  Remus and Tonks… Dumbledore, Diggory, Mad-Eye… Sirius Black, too.  Heck, throw Snape up there, if you feel so inclined.  I’m sure lots of the Order have pictures… and Dumbledore’s on Chocolate Frog cards…”

“I guess,” George answered, staring down into his bottle.  

“What do you mean, ‘you guess’?  I think it’s a great idea.  What else are you going to do with that wall?”

George looked up at the both of them and then back down in the bottle.  “I just… I’m still not sure… that I want to keep this up.”

Lee set his butterbeer down.  “Keep what up?”

“The shop.  I don’t know if I can, now that Fred’s gone.  I don’t mean run it by myself, I know I can do that, we used to switch off all the time… that’s not the problem…”  He looked back up at them, their faces blank.  “I just don’t know that I want to.”

Lee and Angelina were silent.  The rogue Canary Cream started its peeping again from the shelves.

“What will you do instead?” Angelina finally asked, her voice unreadable.

George shook his head. “I don’t know.  We never had any other plans.  This was our lives’ ambition.  I hear the Ministry is going to undergo some major overhauls, though… I could find a job there… I wouldn’t mind being an Auror, I suppose… or Charlie might be able to find me a job with the dragon keepers…”

“You can’t,” Lee said quietly.  

“Why not?  A handful of them got killed off, too, they’re going to need more Stunners…”

“You know what I mean,” Lee replied.  “You can’t close this shop.  What would Fred say?”

“Well, we’ll never know, will we, as he was flattened—”

“He’s right, George,” Angelina interjected. “You’ve been planning this since you were eight.  You can’t go and get a Ministry job; can you just imagine?  George Weasley, famed Hogwarts escape artist and creative genius extraordinaire, sitting in a cubicle filing papers…”

“Don’t…”

“Maybe you can start writing reports on cauldron bottoms, if Percy needs an assistant…”

“Shut it…”

“Just think, George!” she said, her voice rising.  “You know very well what Fred would say!  He’d call you a git for thinking about chucking all your work into the dustbin, a pansy for thinking of a Ministry job, and probably a jaded son of a—”

“Now listen,” he burst in angrily.  “You think I want to just deep six everything we worked for?  Can you imagine, no Angelina, listen to me, just imagine coming into this place every day, over and over, being reminded constantly that Fred is dead, gone, and then trying to sell Nosebleed Nougats and Puking Pastilles as if it mattered?  It was fun in school, throwing ideas around, being the center of attention, and then when we opened, we felt like were helping to raise the mood… give people a few laughs…”  He looked at his two friends with weary eyes.  “But it doesn’t feel like that anymore.  It feels childish, petty, insignificant…”
“So you want to go shelve reports on dragon dung instead?” Lee asked flatly.

“No!  I don’t know.  I just…it’s going to be so hard…”

“Since when were you anyone to step down just because something was hard?” Angelina asked pointedly.

“I’ll help you,” Lee said quietly.  “I’m getting tired of doing promotional work for Cleansweep… I was hoping to get into the sportscasting circuit, but I’m kind of in a rut… I’ll help you here.  If you’d want me, that is.  I realize I could never take his place, ever, but you’ll need an assistant, not to mention someone to test your products on.  We’ll get the place fixed up, mate, we could reopen in a month if you really wanted to…”

“It’s what Fred would want,” Angelina said, taking George’s hand.  “Do it for the people who care about him, who care about you.  Of course it’s going to be hard, of course you’ll think of him, and it’ll be painful for a long while.  But I think it will become less so, in time.  It’ll be a way to celebrate him, George, not just simply remember him.”

“Besides,” Lee continued with a weak grin, “what in the name of Zebedeo Zonko will you do with all this stuff, if not sell it?”

George was silent, gazing out through the window into the alley beyond.  A few solitary figures moved down the street now.  A faint waft of baking pastries filtered in over the smell of smoke.  Somebody out of sight was whistling Puddlemere United’s team anthem.  The reddish glow of sunrise had begun to filter in through the grimy glass, illuminating the items in the front display case.  Underneath a year’s worth of dirt and dust, the Whiz-Bangs still had a faint purple glitter to them and the lettering on the boxes of U-NO-POO feebly flashed their changing colors.  

George looked back at his friends.  “You’ll help me?”

“Of course, idjit, what did you think?” Lee ran a finger over the grubby counter and held it up, coated with dust.  “That we would just leave you out to sea?”

From somewhere in the back of his mind, an image swam into view: Fred sitting on the floor of their room, his wand smoking.  A Whizgigging Warbler he had been attempting to grow wings on had suddenly sprouted feet and run across the room before hitting the far wall and exploding.  Thus, the idea for their Decoy Detonators had been born.  “Hey, mate,” Fred had said later when they were planning out the finer details.  “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”


One year later

“Oi!” shouted the picture on the wall. “You in the green!  Buy that Snackbox!  Don’t put it down, you git, buy it!  You think any professor with a knut for a brain is really going to buy that lame ‘I have a stomachache’ story?  You need quality products, and Weasleys’ is the best!  While you’re at it, you might pick up a couple bottles of Daydreaming Delights as well, you look about as imaginative as the backside of a…”

“Lee!” shouted George over the noise. “I need a couple of Basic Blaze Boxes; that last group wiped us out.  And can it, will you?” he addressed the large picture of Fred on the wall.  “You’re antagonizing the customers.”

“Just doing business,” the image of his twin replied, glancing across the store. “IF YOU BEND IT, YOU BUY IT, SMARMY!” he yelled, making several Hogwarts students-to-be jump.  

“Here,” Lee said, dropping a pile of Whiz-Bang boxes onto the counter.  “We need another order of Frog-Spawn Soap, when we have the time to send an owl.”  

“Maybe if you’d quit snogging my girlfriend, you’d have spare time,” yelled Fred’s picture over the din of the shop.

“Oh shove it, you,” Lee replied. “I only went with her to see Wood playing against Ballycastle.  Keep your shirt on.”

The bell over the door, never quiet for very long anymore, jangled.  Ron strode into the bustling shop.

“Ickle Ronniekins!” Fred’s picture called. “Has Hermione asked you to get a Headless Hat yet?  Or are you still together?”

“Hi Fred.  Lee, George.”

“What brings you here?” George asked as he took the pile of Blaze Boxes to the window.  “Percy’s not wanting more Smart-Answer quills, is he?”

“Fleur had her kid,” he answered. “Bill’s been at St. Mungo’s all day.  It’s a girl.”

“No kidding!” George straightened and turned back.  “I’ll have to nip over there after we close… what are they naming the baby Veela?”

“Victoire,” he replied, helping George arrange the stack.  “Fleur’s pretty disappointed that she has freckles, figures they’ll mar her skin or something later in life, but Mum thinks she’s beautiful.  All blonde tufty hair and everything.  Can you believe it?”

“Yeah,” George answered, frowning at the Blaze Boxes. “You think Mungo’s would object to me letting off one of these in the ward as celebration?  Or should I go for the Deluxe package?”

“Fleur’d probably destroy you.  ‘You are ze most ‘orrible oncle in ze world…’”  He jerked his thumb at the wall over the counter. “You have a few new pictures up.”

“Yeah, Angelina found that Quidditch one in an old album, and Viktor Krum sent us a signed picture.”

“ONLY THE BEST AT WEASLEYS’ WIZARD WHEEZES!” Fred’s picture roared. “BUY ALL YOUR TOP-NOTCH TOMFOOLERY FROM ONE-EARED GEORGE AND DEAD FRED!”

“I see you haven’t bewitched any of the others to talk,” Ron said.

“Yeah,” George replied, grinning at his twin’s picture.  “Lee and I figured Fred does enough damage single-handedly.”

Ron looked around at the jam-packed shop and then checked his watch. “I have to run; Mum wants to know if you’ll be at the Burrow for supper.”

“Yeah, I will, after I go see Bill and Fleur.”

“Alright then.  See you tonight.  Bye Lee!  Bye Fred!”

“Bye Ronnie!” shouted the picture.  

“Congratulations, Weasley, you’re an uncle,” said a girl wearing the green and pink robes of the shop.  She was carrying a stack of boxed Portable Swamps.  These had been an especially big hit item with returning Hogwarts students.  

“Thanks, Verity,” he replied just as Lee poked his head around the shelf nearest him.  

“We’re out of Extendable Ears, and I have a queue of first-years begging me for them,” he said.  

“Urgh,” George replied.

“Oh, there are more in the back,” Verity said. “Under that monstrous stack of order forms you’ve yet to sort through.  I’ll get them.”

“Ah Verity,” George said as she walked off. “Where would I be without you?”

She gave him a grin over her shoulder and he felt a swooping sensation in his stomach.  She had been having that effect on him lately.

The day was one of their busiest yet as customers came and went in a steady stream.  When the last shoppers finally left with stacks of Deflagration Deluxe, George waved off the lights and booted Lee and Verity out of the shop (Lee had opted not to move into George’s flat above the store; he lived instead in his own apartment outside of London).  He then went around the store laying down protective charms and came to a halt in front of the wall behind the counter.

It was plastered with so many pictures that they were spilling onto the ceiling and over the doorframe.  Lupin and Tonks hugged each other, Mad-Eye glared around the empty store, Dumbledore smiled from his Chocolate Frog card, Cedric waved in his yellow Quidditch robes, Sirius turned into a dog and back, Snape glowered, Oliver Wood laughed, Krum scowled, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione beamed from their photos covering the walls.  Grinning down at him from all angles was Fred, waving from an Egyptian pyramid, slinging his beater’s club, dancing with Angelina, exploding things with Lee, and standing with his arm around his twin brother.  

George was very much aware that the picture in the middle was not Fred.  It was only his image, bewitched to talk.  It couldn’t think like Fred had; if George got too complex whilst speaking to it, the photo would fall silent and make firecrackers burst from the end of its wand until George let it recuperate.  

But it was a window; a glimpse of his twin whom he loved and missed with all his heart.  He liked to think, too, that perhaps it was a glimpse of himself from wherever Fred was at the moment; no doubt wreaking havoc with the Marauders.  There had been a few times that the picture had uttered words that no charm could have generated.  When business was low, or when George was having trouble with a new product, or when he was simply sitting silently in the shop, reminiscing, he’d hear a quip or a phrase that sounded so much like Fred, the real Fred, that he had to look around and make sure his twin hadn’t suddenly popped out from behind the Snackboxes.  

George stood in front of the framed picture, captioned by the words “In celebration of Fred Weasley.”  

“Verity likes you,” his twin’s photo said.

George shrugged.

“You like Verity.”

“Maybe.”

“Bring my picture to the wedding so I can take the mickey out of you.”

“Shut it.”

Fred’s picture snickered as George headed for the door. “Say hi to Bill for me.”

“Alright.” George turned, his hand on the knob.  He gazed back into the shop, full to the brim with items of complete nonsense, things to make people laugh.  “Things turned out alright, eh?”

His twin’s grin mirrored his own.  “The best,” Fred answered.
Several people asked about that one-shot fanfic I alluded to in the comments of my last pic. So here it is. Sorry it's so long. I hate reading long stuff, but alas, what can you do.
I don't know how long I'll keep this up, because it weirds me out having something I've written up online. I don't really plan on revising it or writing more of it.
Everything obviously belongs to JKR, except I made up Whizgigging Warblers, Zebedeo Zonko's first name, the Kazembes, and the random character of Myrna.
Related illustrations:
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ETA: At someone's suggestion, I posted this on Harry Potter fanfiction under the penname Deisi. If you're a member of this board, feel free to promote it, as I only joined it to put up this story. Here it is: [link]
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He could be at home listening to what would probably pan out to be the most important game of the Quidditch season. He could be working on his new motorcycle. Hell, it was 1:00, he could probably be at the bar already. Surely there'd be some flock of lonely housewives around that time...

Instead, Sirius was stuck in the monochrome hospital waiting room, sitting on a hard chair and drinking bitter coffee from a styrofoam cup, listening to the wails of pregnant women, the woes of expectant fathers and whines of newborn children. He made no attempt to hide his distaste, punctuating every second breath with an impatient huff or mumble.

"Padfoot!" Remus hissed sharply in reprimand as Sirius' moans grew too loud and drew attention.

Sirius sighed and straightened up in the horrid, cold chair, as he found that he'd been slowly sinking lower with every second. He rubbed his eyes and slumped forward, resting his elbow on his knee and his chin on his hand. Remus chuckled quietly to himself.

"What?" Sirius grumbled.

"Oh, nothing much." Remus replied in that insufferable, self-amused tone, "I just find it funny that, even in a delivery ward, you still manage to act like the only child in the room."

Sirius rolled his eyes and sat back, stretching his long back before settling into a more comfortable position.

"I think you need some more coffee, Moony." he shot back lazily, "You're not up to your usual standard, humor-wise."

Remus scoffed, "That's interesting. I was always under the impression that you and James thought I had no sense of humor whatsoever."

"Oh, contraire, Moony, my friend," Sirius shook his head, "I've always quite enjoyed your humor."

Remus scoffed again, louder this time, "Yeah, right. I doubt you're even aware of half the jokes I make."

"Oh, I'm aware of them, they're just not funny." Sirius teased.

"Sure, Sirius, whatever you say. I have it under good authority that I'm quite humorous, you're head is just too full of sand to understand political humor."

"Boring humor, you mean." Sirius laughed, "And the fact that you describe it as 'quite humorous' tells me the exact opposite."

Remus dropped it there, deciding to get more coffee rather than argue with a brick wall, leaving Sirius on his own and twice as bored. He watched the double doors marked 'Delivery' like a hawk, waiting for James to burst through them and announce that the whole ordeal was over. Then Sirius could go home, wash the hospital smell off and enjoy the night.

It wasn't that Sirius wasn't happy for his best friend. In fact, he was ecstatic. He couldn't think of anyone more suited for fatherhood than James Potter, who had matured so much since graduation (Sirius was well aware that he, on the other hand, probably still belonged in kindergarten). But did Sirius really have to be there in the cold waiting room for three hours?

"You could try and look a bit more excited, this isn't a funeral, you know?" Remus had returned with his coffee.

"I know." mumbled Sirius, "A funeral would be over by now."

Remus sighed, "You would think you'd be at least a little happy. This is your godson being born, you know?"

"I know, I know, I'm over the moon," Sirius snapped, "But really, the kid won't even remember I'm here, and we've got the rest of our lives to bond."

Remus made an unimpressed noise but said nothing.

"Really, I think it's rude of us to be here." Sirius continued, jutting out his chin slightly, a remnant of his heritage, "If I were James and Lily, I wouldn't want a crowd, I'd want my kid all to myself."

"Don't try and play the good guy, Sirius, all you care about is your own entertainment." Remus chided.

Sirius' retort was cut short as a sudden yell emitted from delivery.

"IT'S A BOY!" the voice boomed, "IT'S A BOY!"

The waiting room tittered in amusement. Remus and Sirius exchanged a knowing look.

"A boy..." Remus murmured, "Wow."

They were then approached by a tired looking woman in blue scrubs.

"You're with the Potter's?"

Sirius gave an unintelligible grunt. Remus nodded enthusiastically.

"We're finally finished." the nurse puffed, wiping sweat from her brow, "It was a long one, but we got there."

Sirius made another unimpressed sound.

"Mother and child are completely healthy, father is bouncing off the walls. I'm sure you already heard that it's a boy. I'll come back out and let you know when you can visit."

Remus glanced at his watch anxiously, "Actually, I have an interview I need to get to..."

Sirius' head snapped up, "What?"

"I'll come by afterwards..."

"You're leaving?" Sirius barked.

"Could you give them my best?"

The nurse nodded and turned on her heel, disappearing behind the doors again.

Remus picked up his old coat from the chair and folded it over his arm.

"You can't leave!" Sirius groaned.

"I have to, Sirius, I've got a good feeling about this job and I need to take anything I can get." Remus explained tiredly.

"Since when did Remus Lupin set any store in 'good feelings'?" Sirius complained as Remus turned.

"Bye, Sirius." Remus called amusedly over his shoulder.

-
Four hours later, Sirius was seriously considering running through to the emergency ward, as both of his buttocks had grown so numb he was sure they'd never wake again. This, he decided, had gone so far past ridiculous that it was ridiculous again. Didn't James remember that he had the attention span of a squirrel? Things had gotten so grim that he'd even taken to reading the pamphlets on the little magazine table. He now knew more about the transition to menopause than he'd ever wished to know. Next he'd struck up conversations with some surprisingly attractive new mothers, but the presence of new fathers and new children had put a dampen on his natural charm. Finally, he resigned himself to counting the little red dots on the blue rug.

He was almost halfway across the rug when the nurse mercifully returned.

Sirius sat bolt upright, pulling every muscle below his shoulders in the process.

"So?" he snapped, unintentionally harsh.

The woman pursed her lips at him and then sighed, resigned, "Normally, we give parents a few more hours to bond, but Mr Potter insisted that you join them before visiting hours end. Follow me."

Sirius clambered to his feet and trailed after the nurse, steeling himself. Truth be told, he'd never been too good with babies. The only baby he'd held was his brother, Regulus, and the git had gone right ahead and thrown up over his shoulder. He was honored that the Potter's had chosen him to be the kid's godfather and he wanted to prove that he was worthy, but he guessed that a lot of it would be forced. At least until Baby Potter was old enough to do anything interesting.

The nurse led him through a short hall and then into the maternity ward. The room was large and eerily quiet. There were eight beds, all occupied, though he didn't have any time to look around. His arms were immediately filled with a sobbing boy, and not the one he was expecting.

"Um... There, there?" Sirius stammered, patting James awkwardly on the back. As close as the two were, they were never really the type for hugs, nor much emotion. And yet, here was James, openly bawling over his shoulder, each sob punctuated with maniac sort of laugh.

"He's... I'm... daddy... boy..." James wailed.

Sirius managed to free himself from his best mate's grasp to look at his face, and immediately relaxed. Nothing was wrong, James was crying with happiness. He couldn't help the silly grin that graced his face then; he was sure he'd never seen James so happy.

"All good?" Sirius confirmed.

James nodded feverishly, "All good. Come and meet him!"

Sirius felt a pang of nervousness. Okay, he told himself, relax and remember the routine. He had, indeed, built a routine during his period in the waiting room. From watching the other couples with their babies, he could identify a set of signature moves. He'd take the baby when given, support it's head and smile, pat his head and coo and then return him. Easy.

James led Sirius to the end of the room to Lily's bed. The fiery red head was visibly exhausted but she sat up on the pillows with a wrapped bundle in her arms and a broad smile on her face. She threw an affectionate glance James's way before turning to Sirius.

"Hey, Pads." she murmured, "Sorry for the wait."

Sirius bit back his complaints and shrugged indifferently. There'd be plenty of time to make James pay for that later, right now he couldn't bare to wipe those smiles off their faces. Lily held out the bundle (Sirius noticed James had wasted no time in wrapping him in a Gryffindor scarf) for him to take.

"Harry." she stated simply.

Sirius gulped and stepped forward, stretching his arms out gingerly. Lily placed the baby in his arms and he pulled it back to his chest. It took him an embarrassingly long time to locate the head amongst the red and gold fabric. Support it's head, he reminded himself, Smile, idiot, smile!

But then Sirius really looked. Harry Potter's hair was the exact shade and consistency of his father's. His large, emerald eyes peered up at him in wonder for a moment before, whether Sirius imagined it or not, they brightened. Sirius was thunderstruck. This was nothing like holding his screaming, smelly brother. Baby Prongs was quiet and innocent, a fragile little thing that was barely as long as Sirius' forearm.

"He's beautiful." Sirius murmured, shocking James and Lily with his tone.

Harry gave a small gurgle.

"In a totally manly way." he corrected, smiling down at the boy.

The scarf shifted as Harry pulled his little arms out of his wrapping. Instinctively, Sirius shifted the baby into one arm and presented his free hand to the boy. Harry's tiny fingers immediately latched around Sirius's finger, squeezing. The pressure was barely there but Sirius could tell he was using all his strength.

All at once, Sirius forgot the seven hour wait, his aching muscles, the sterile smell of the hospital and, most disturbingly, menopause. None of that mattered anymore because his world had shifted. This child, Harry James Potter, was worth it all and then some. This tiny boy with his hand latched onto Sirius' finger was the most important thing.

"He's healthy?" Sirius asked, tearing his eyes away from Harry to look at James.

James nodded, "Completely. Hopefully he'll get his mother's perfect eyesight to match the colour."

Lily smiled, "I think he looks like James, mostly."

Sirius shook his head, "Nah, he's too handsome. Takes after his godfather."

Right on cue, Harry let out a happy note.

"Visiting hours are up in ten minutes!" the nurse from before announced at the door.

Sirius frowned. It hadn't yet occurred to him that he might have to give Harry back.

"You can come back tomorrow." Lily assured him, observant as always, "And bring Remus along."

"And Pete, if you can find him." James added, "I wasn't able to get in touch with him before we got here. I haven't heard from him in a few weeks, actually. I hope he's okay..."

Sirius nodded, barely listening. He'd turned his attentions back to Harry who still clutched his finger in earnest. He wondered how he could have ever been bored waiting for this moment.

"Plans tonight, Padfoot?" James asked conversationally.

Sirius shook his head. He had completely lost interest in going out. He guessed he'd still be in shock for a good week after this moment.

"Wanna stay at the Hollow?" James offered.

Sirius frowned, "You're not staying?"

"'Strictly no overnight visitors!'" James mocked the nurse, rolling his eyes, "I would if I could. I'm coming back first thing in the morning, though. We can pick up Moony on the way."

"Sure, sounds great. The heating in my apartment's busted, anyway." Sirius agreed. He could sense it was nearing the appropriate time to say goodbye to mother and child but he was milking every second he could get.

Harry finally released his finger, resting that hand and using his other to clutch at the tassel on the end of the scarf.

"It'll be nice and safe, too." Lily said, bitterness evident in her tone.

Sirius raised his eyebrows questioningly.

"Dumbledore came by the other day and put some more protections on the house." James explained, running a calming hand through Lily's hair.

"I came home from my parents' at 3:30 and didn't get inside until 4." Lily complained grumpily.

"I know, it's annoying." James soothed softly, "But you know it's necessary. Especially now."

He pointed her gaze to Harry. Sirius looked down, too. He hadn't even thought about the danger the baby was in. Harry had been born in the middle of war, possibly condemned to grow up in the shadows, hidden until he was equipped to take care of himself. And what if those shadows were compromised? The thought of those green eyes closing before they'd even seen the world sent a wave of pure terror through Sirius that was so intense, it frightened him.

He made a promise with himself then and there. Whatever happened; whatever bird he was chasing, whatever Quidditch game he was playing and, more importantly, whoever it meant fighting, he would protect Harry Potter. He had to.

"Visiting hours are over. Strictly no overnight guests in the maternity ward, sorry gents. Everyone out!"

James stood up, stretching his arms over his head before leaning down to kiss Lily tenderly.

"C'mon, Pads. We can probably hear the highlights of the game if we hurry." he suggested.

"Thanks for waiting around, Sirius," Lily added, "It means a lot."

Sirius smiled at her as James outstretched his arms.

"You two are getting a bit too cozy there, I think," he teased, "Mind if I say goodbye to my son?"

Sirius looked down at Harry. The baby had buried his face against the warmth of Sirius' chest and was breathing slowly, as if asleep.

"Bye Harry." he choked out, hardly able to keep his voice even.

Never let anything hurt you, he thought, Promise to protect you.
The nurse had started to tap her foot impatiently. Sirius repeated the vow in his mind over and over as he inched closer to James.

"Come on, Padfoot." James said softly, completely knowingly, and then his tone brightened, "Punt 'im over!"

-

He was older now, 13 years old, if Sirius calculated correctly. He did look like James, strikingly so, except for those enchanting eyes which were now behind circular frames. He was still small. Too small, Sirius thought worriedly. He sat on the curb of the street with his belongings. From the ruckus he'd heard in number 4 Privet Drive, it was clear to Sirius that Harry had been kicked out. The sky was darkening by the minute and soon Harry started to shiver from the cold. He pulled his oversized, obviously second hand jacket tighter around his shaking shoulders. Even from the way the boy sat, it was clear the type of kid he was. Quiet, polite, unobtrusive. He looked so vulnerable in his baggy clothes and underfed frame. It pained Sirius to admit it, but this was clearly a boy subject to neglect, there were no two ways about it. After all, it had been James Potter who had identified those signs in Sirius all those years ago.

After twelve years in Azkaban, seeing Harry Potter again should have been his happiest moment, but Sirius' sorrow was making it hard for him to breathe. Elation and affection were dull, dwarfed by Sirius' overwhelming guilt that, in the end, he had broken his promise.
Title: Damned Promises
Fandom: Harry Potter
Setting: 1980 (Post-Hogwarts Marauder Era)
Characters: Sirius Black, Harry Potter, James Potter & Lily Potter
Word Count: 2654

Phew, this took a surprisingly long time, considering the length. I guess it was because I kept going back and rereading each paragraph to make sure it was perfect. I guess I just love these ideas so much, I didn't want the writing to be sloppy. Hopefully my effort shows. Well, this is just about all I wanted to say on that matter.

This is very much inspired by a picture I wanted to draw but when the picture got too hard I turned it into a fan fiction. I'll probably go back and try the drawing again in the morning but for now, this will keep me satisfied.

Side note, can you tell I don't write about Lily very often? Hahaha! >.<


Harry Potter and all characters belong to J.K Rowling.
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You were walking past a butterbeer cart, admiring your new robes, when you spotted a familiar blond mop.

"HEY ARTY!" you called to your new British friend, Arthur Kirkland.  He was waiting for you on the bridge between the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Jurassic Park.

Arthur turned and only had enough time to raise his hand for a wave before you hug-tackled him.

"U-uhm..." he stuttered.  After a tense moment, he relaxed and put his hands around your waist.

Suddenly there was a bright flash and loud laughter.  "HA-HAAA!  Francis will never believe this!  Arthur got a girlfriend!!"

You and Arthur separated and looked at a tall, blonde haired man in surprise.  His bright blue eyes were gazing mischievously at a digital camera.

"ALFRED, YOU BLOODY WANK-"   Arthur stopped abruptly.

Alfred grinned.  "What?  Cat got your tongue?"

Arthur turned his head away indignantly.  "No.  It's just that a true gentleman would never swear in the presence of a lady."

"Aww, aren't you nice!"  You nudged him playfully with your elbow.  You didn't really mind the swearing, but it was sweet that he thought of the gentlemanly thing to do.

He smiled down at you, and your heart practically melted.

"Pfft, yeah okay."  Alfred said, quickly losing interest.

"Can I see that picture?"  You inquired, genuinely interested in how it turned out.  "I'm ________, by the way."

"Sure thing!"  He positioned the camera to where you could see the screen.  "I'm the hero, but you can just call me Alfred."

You giggled at Arthur's interesting friend and leaned in to see the picture better.

The first thing you noticed was the small smile that accompanied a deep blush on the British man's face.  Then you smiled at yourself; you were grinning like a complete idiot as you hugged him.  The next thing you noticed was Hogwarts.  It was sitting majestically in the background of the picture, looking amazing in the morning sun.

You stared straight into Alfred's eyes, the most serious expression on your face.  "Can I get multiple copies of this?  I'm dead serious; I want it blown up and everything."

"Alfred laughed loudly at your request.  "Of course!"

"What?!  Let me see!"  Arthur squeezed in next to you, getting quite close.  He smiled fondly at the sight of the picture.  "I…I actually like it!" he announced.

"YAY!"  Alfred yelled.  He faced you.  "So, did you guys meet here?  I always said that Arthur would be nicer if he had a girlfriend, so this is gr-"

"Al…We're not dating…" said the embarrassed Brit.

"Well, you totally should!"

Arthur sighed, his face as red as a tomato.  "Al…Just leave."

"Ohhhh!  I get it!"  He winked at Arthur.  "I'll leave you guys to your date!"  The hyper blonde turned and ran away towards Jurassic Park before Arthur could say anything.

"Sorry about him…He's a little…"

"Overexcited?" you offered.  "It's fine; I thought he was kind of funny…"

He laughed humorlessly.  "Yeah….Funny."  Arthur rolled his eyes at the thought of Alfred.  Then he fixed his gaze on you, and his eyes immediately softened.  "So, what do you want to do today?"

"I have an idea…"  You grabbed his arm and linked your elbow around it.  "C'mon buddy!"  With that, you two set off into Hogsmeade.


"________..."  Arthur looked away, blushing madly.  "You look lovely in those robes."

"Aw, thanks Arty!"  You said, smiling widely.  "I think you look very handsome in those Slytherin robes."  And he did.  The Slytherin green really brought out the amazing color of his eyes.

"Thank you."

You two continued through the crowded streets of Hogsmeade and into Diagon Alley in comfortable silence.  A couple of times you caught Arthur sneaking a sideways glance at you.  You just smiled contentedly and pretended not to notice.

You and Arthur reached your destination, the many screams of terrified people echoing in your ears.  You gaped up at the entrance to 'The Dragon Challenge' in awe.  The mechanical sound of the roller coaster sparked the excitement in you.

"Let's go on it!" you yelled.

Arthur looked at you dubiously.  "I don't know, ________."

"Oh come on, you have to!" you said, giving him your most intense puppy-dog eyes.

He faltered a bit.  "W-well…"

Your expression turned to sadness.  "Arty, if you don't go on it with me, who's going to hold my hand at the scary parts?"  You were actually anxious about the ride and wanted someone there to comfort you.

His expression set into determination.  "Okay.  I'll go on it…For you."

You whooped in delight and dragged Arthur through the entrance.  There was hardly any line, so you ran down the path leading to the ride in a hyper stupor.

You two caught up with the short line and stopped to catch your breath.

"Why'd we have to run?!"  Arthur asked, breathing a bit heavier than usual.

"Cause I'm excited and anxious at the same time!" you yelled, jumping up and down to relieve your nerves and excitement.  "It's really not a good combination."

Arthur suddenly grabbed your hand.  You stopped jumping and stared at him.  "Calm down, _______."  He was averting his gaze again, a slight blush creeping onto his cheeks.

'He's so cute when he's embarrassed." You thought.  You giggled at him and moved up in the line.

You and Arthur were the next to go on, but you felt no anxiety.  You glanced over at your crush and smiled.  As long as you were with him, you were fine.

When it was time to go, you both lifted down the harness on the roller coaster, still holding hands.  The lady who worked at the park smiled at the sight as she made sure neither of you would fly out of the seat mid ride.

"This is so exciting!!" you exclaimed as the ride started up slowly.  You swung your feet around happily.

"Yeah, it i-"  Arthur never finished that sentence because at that moment, the ride was taken through a series of high droops, insane loops, and fast turns.

You screamed the whole way through.  You could hear Arthur yelling obscenities beside you.

The ride finally slowed down and made its way into the station.  You were laughing your head off at Arthur's reaction.  "You sure have a colorful vocabulary, Arty."

He smiled weakly at you, still clenching your hand for dear life.

You both exited the ride.  Arthur seemed like he was still getting used to walking on land again when you suddenly hugged him.

"Thanks for comforting me, Arty!" you said into his chest.  You backed away from him and smiled.  Arthur looked like he was in deep thought about something.

"Listen, ______..." he mumbled while his face grew redder by the second.

"Yes?"

"I…really like you," he said, averting his gaze again.  "And yesterday and today have been the best days of my life…Because of you."

You just stood there in shock.  Then your brain processed what he'd said.

"I really like you too, Arty!" you yelled and threw your arms around his neck.  You felt his arms wrap around your waist.

You pulled back, about to ask him something, when a pair of lips crashed down onto yours.

Your surprise lasted only a second before you kissed him back.  It was a sweet, simple kiss, but still amazing at the same time.

You both pulled back.  Arthur fixed you with a serious look.  "______.  I don't want it to be the end for us after we leave Universal…I was hoping I could see you afterwards, as well."

You smiled widely.  "Of course!"  You both were prepared to do anything to be with each other.

Arthur kissed you again, and you felt like you were the happiest girl in the world.

'Thanks, Harry Potter, for bringing us together.'

~~~~~~Extended Ending~~~~~~~

You and Arthur were sitting on a bench, sipping on some delicious butterbeer, when…

"So, ______."  Arthur looked like he was trying hard not to laugh.  "If I were to look into the Mirror of Erised*, I'd see the two of us together."

You almost spat out your butterbeer.  You tried to put on a pokerface.  "Are you using the Confundus Charm* or are you just naturally mind blowing?"

"I'd like to get my basilisk in your chamber of secrets."  Neither you nor Arthur was keeping a straight face at this point.

"My name may not be Luna, but I sure know how to love good!"

You both were laughing uncontrollably when a large shadow fell on you.  You looked up to see a scandalized Alfred.

"YOU DIRTY PERVERTS!"


END!
~For anyone who's not a Harry Potter nerd and didn't get those pick-up lines~
*The Mirror of Erised shows the deepest and most desperate desire of ones heart. (So, you're supposed to go all "D'AAW" an' junk.)
*Confundus Charm causes a person or animated object to become highly confused.
The other ones are pretty obvious, but if you know absolutely NOTHING about Harry Potter, than don't be afraid to ask the meaning...
(By the way, I just could NOT write this story without putting Harry Potter themed pick-up lines in it. I would've been ashamed of myself for not doing it. :iconimseriousplz:)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

But anyway, I really wanna say thanks to anyone who commented on/faved Part One of this story ([link]) I really appreciate your reviews. :iconloveloveplz:

And a special thanks to :iconzeldarulez10123:. She probably doesn't it know it, but she gave me the idea for the 'Dragon Challenge' ride in the comments on the first story. :iconimhappyplz:

And sorry for any OOC-ness on Arthur's part. ^^' Still trying to get a hold of these reader-inserts thing.
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Ok, bit more pleased with this one more than the chamber of secrets one, remeber they're in their third year :)

Disclaimed: I don't own Harry Potter or the front picture

heres the link to it on ff if it doesnt come up on your computer :) [link]
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She still remembers the first time she saw him.

His hair was a light brown almost golden in appearance when hit with the right light. Although she was stricken with his eyes the most.

Really there was something about them. They weren't really green or blue, but rather a combination that seemed to vary from each eye, so one seemed to be greener while the other stayed the palest of blues.

She thought he was pretty, in a way.

Almost endearing with the way his hair fell and his eyes seemed to twinkle with hidden knowledge – a bit like Dumbledore's but this man's eyes seemed to be sadder, less jolly and more reserved she would dare to venture kinder even.

She realized he was quite a bit older then her as well, which didn't faze her in the least working were she did she was used to older wizards and really the only bad thing about it was that they could be compared to a piece of day old toast.

Not as interesting – or as tasty – as a fresh one would be, but still quite good, and they had that wise air about them that she was slowly getting used to.

She was about to go up and speak to the new arrival until she was intercepted by another member of the Order and lost sight of the man.

When she finally could see again, he was gone.

Well damn, and he looked like an interesting one to.

.

.

.

.

The second time was under far less pleasant terms.

It was after Harry Potter was attacked.

Naturally the whole place was in an uproar and she was about to kick someone's ass, if they didn't regain some sense of control.

She had nearly been knocked over three times and she was getting ready to do something about it, when someone pulled her out of the way of yet another attempt to land her on the ground.

She noted it was the man from before with the brown hair – although closer up she noted it was slightly gray at the roots – and she was about to ask him what the hell was everyone thinking, that this utter madness wasn't helping anything, when he uttered an unforgivable.

"Nymphadora?"

She twitched. "Tonks, call me Tonks. Not that horrid excuse for a name my mother thought she would gift me with."

The man looked a little confused. "Fine, Tonks. You should come with me; I promise not everything is as disorganized as it appears."

She nodded and let the man drag her by her hand through the flurry of activity. She was half way through contemplating why his hand felt so right – so perfect – in hers, when she realized she didn't even know his name.

"Sir?"

He looked back at her.

"What's your name?"

"Remus, Remus Lupin."

She rolled it around in his her head a few times. Remus Lupin. It seemed to fit him in an odd way.

She liked it.

And here she thought that the Order would be all work and no play. Oh no she is going to get to know him and then their shall be plenty of play.
.

.

.

.

She's wants so badly to kiss him. It is quite literally the elephant in the room, but she isn't so brash as to rush into anything and so she waits. But she's never been big on patience and a week later she's at her wits end with the dreams and decides it's time for a midnight walk.

With a partner of course.

She quickly dressed and padded out of her room.

He wouldn't think that this was anything but a midnight walk between friends and he would come without hesitation. That was her plan anyway then after they had been walking and talking for a little while she would ask.

She had to know. It wasn't as simple as just ignoring everything now, not only did she desire him in every way a woman can a man, but she was almost positive that she was falling in love with him. She could ignore lust, love was not so simple.

Cracking open the door she peeked inside and stopped.

Asleep on Remus's bed was a wolf.

Stepping quietly into the room she drew her wand and crept quietly around the bed circling around like a predator would its prey. The full moon's light illuminated the bed in an almost halo effect casting a glow on the fur of the beast.

The fur looked like Remus's hair and she was tempted to go up and pet it…

CREEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAK.

She froze staring down at the floor board in horror, slowly she turned her eyes onto the large creature that had begun to stir. She was stuck; she was too far away from the door to make a clean getaway and even if she could have the bed was in the path of the door.

She was trapped and she was scarred and she decided that if she would go down then she would go down looking into the eyes of her killer not franticly searching for an escape route. She turned her head towards the bed and stopped.

Staring at her was a set of eyes. One eye was blue the other was green.

She knew those eyes.

The brown wolf tipped its head to the side almost sleepily and she realized he wasn't even fully awake. She had to go; there would be no midnight walk tonight.

Silently she crossed the room and paused in the open doorway turning back to the bed.

"Goodnight, Remus."

She could have sworn she saw the bushy light brown tail twitch before his head dropped back down in sleep.

She traveled swiftly through the hallways before sitting down on the bed. Remus was a werewolf. That was the only explanation. She probably should be freaking, she should totally be freaking out. She knew she should be so very frightened but she wasn't.

She knew him, this changed nothing, and well okay it changed a lot of things, just like it explained a lot of things. But it changed nothing about how she felt, she was quite sure it only made her care for him even more, plus she had to say he was quite adorable.

All in all, she thinks that she's not afraid of him, she thinks that perhaps it's only endeared him to her more.

Perhaps she will think later this was the beginning of everything that she could have never foreseen for herself.

.

.

.

.

Tonks shifted in the straight backed chair, he hadn't so much as spoken to her in three months, no matter how hard she tried to speak to him, his only concern was getting her as far away from him as he could not sparing how that made her feel any thought

He just didn't get it, no matter who he was – what he was, as the case may be – he had captured her in his web like a spider and its fly.

And even if she wished to – just like that fly – she couldn't fight it or escape it, and she had given up trying to escape. Now all that mattered was him.

She was fed up, so very fed up with this charade, she wasn't very patient and she was as love struck as any fool could ever dream of being, she loved him for every little thing that made him – well him, and what he was made little difference to her.

She knew and it changed nothing.

It didn't change how she felt in the least, if anything it made her love him more, distance made the heart grow fonder and all that, and he had certainly tried to put distance between them.

So when she caught sight of the heavy red construction paper laying on the desk and the scissors next to it she knew what she was going to do. Tomorrow was that day of the year after all.

Shifting again, she picked up the scissors – she preferred the muggle methods for these things – and began to cut out a slightly irregular and lopsided heart.

With a lopsided grin herself, she began to write.

.

.

.

.

Remus Lupin nearly collapses onto the bed when he gets back in. Turning over he decides no matter the hour – it was nearly noon – a nap was just what he needed, or that was before he caught sight of the innocent red heart lying on the desk.

His interest peaked he stood and took cautious before picking up the little heart.

Flipping it over, he read:

Dear Remus,

You don't want to talk to me, okay. I get it. But I'm going to talk anyway because that's the kind of person I am. Remus, I don't care if you're a werewolf, you're my friend, you're the best person I have met in a long time, and I care so very much about you. More than a friend should as the case may be.

Someday you're going to stop running, and realize that I'm not mistaken that I want you, hell I don't risk cutting of my own hand – you know I'm clumsy and clumsy people with scissors are never a great combo – for anyone.

So Remus no matter how much you push me away – no matter how much it hurts – when you're ready to stop running away from the truth I'll be here for you.

Love always,

Tonks.

PS You really didn't think I would use that dreaded name did you? No you know me better than that.

He is left staring dumbfounded for a long time.

.

.

.

.

It's four months later when she is injured – and he's beyond any anger that he has ever felt before that he realizes she may mean more to him than he originally thought.

And so while she sits in that room recovering she receives a little red heart that's a few months late.

Dear Tonks,

I care too.

Remus

She smiles.She still remembers the first time she saw him.

His hair was a light brown almost golden in appearance when hit with the right light. Although she was stricken with his eyes the most.

Really there was something about them. They weren't really green or blue, but rather a combination that seemed to vary from each eye, so one seemed to be greener while the other stayed the palest of blues.

She thought he was pretty, in a way.

Almost endearing with the way his hair fell and his eyes seemed to twinkle with hidden knowledge – a bit like Dumbledore's but this man's eyes seemed to be sadder, less jolly and more reserved she would dare to venture kinder even.

She realized he was quite a bit older then her as well, which didn't faze her in the least working were she did she was used to older wizards and really the only bad thing about it was that they could be compared to a piece of day old toast.

Not as interesting – or as tasty – as a fresh one would be, but still quite good, and they had that wise air about them that she was slowly getting used to.

She was about to go up and speak to the new arrival until she was intercepted by another member of the Order and lost sight of the man.

When she finally could see again, he was gone.

Well damn, and he looked like an interesting one to.

.

.

.

.

The second time was under far less pleasant terms.

It was after Harry Potter was attacked.

Naturally the whole place was in an uproar and she was about to kick someone's ass, if they didn't regain some sense of control.

She had nearly been knocked over three times and she was getting ready to do something about it, when someone pulled her out of the way of yet another attempt to land her on the ground.

She noted it was the man from before with the brown hair – although closer up she noted it was slightly gray at the roots – and she was about to ask him what the hell was everyone thinking, that this utter madness wasn't helping anything, when he uttered an unforgivable.

"Nymphadora?"

She twitched. "Tonks, call me Tonks. Not that horrid excuse for a name my mother thought she would gift me with."

The man looked a little confused. "Fine, Tonks. You should come with me; I promise not everything is as disorganized as it appears."

She nodded and let the man drag her by her hand through the flurry of activity. She was half way through contemplating why his hand felt so right – so perfect – in hers, when she realized she didn't even know his name.

"Sir?"

He looked back at her.

"What's your name?"

"Remus, Remus Lupin."

She rolled it around in his her head a few times. Remus Lupin. It seemed to fit him in an odd way.

She liked it.

And here she thought that the Order would be all work and no play. Oh no she is going to get to know him and then their shall be plenty of play.

.

.

.

.

She's wants so badly to kiss him. It is quite literally the elephant in the room, but she isn't so brash as to rush into anything and so she waits. But she's never been big on patience and a week later she's at her wits end with the dreams and decides it's time for a midnight walk.

With a partner of course.

She quickly dressed and padded out of her room.

He wouldn't think that this was anything but a midnight walk between friends and he would come without hesitation. That was her plan anyway then after they had been walking and talking for a little while she would ask.

She had to know. It wasn't as simple as just ignoring everything now, not only did she desire him in every way a woman can a man, but she was almost positive that she was falling in love with him. She could ignore lust, love was not so simple.

Cracking open the door she peeked inside and stopped.

Asleep on Remus's bed was a wolf.

Stepping quietly into the room she drew her wand and crept quietly around the bed circling around like a predator would its prey. The full moon's light illuminated the bed in an almost halo effect casting a glow on the fur of the beast.

The fur looked like Remus's hair and she was tempted to go up and pet it…

CREEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAK.

She froze staring down at the floor board in horror, slowly she turned her eyes onto the large creature that had begun to stir. She was stuck; she was too far away from the door to make a clean getaway and even if she could have the bed was in the path of the door.

She was trapped and she was scarred and she decided that if she would go down then she would go down looking into the eyes of her killer not franticly searching for an escape route. She turned her head towards the bed and stopped.

Staring at her was a set of eyes. One eye was blue the other was green.

She knew those eyes.

The brown wolf tipped its head to the side almost sleepily and she realized he wasn't even fully awake. She had to go; there would be no midnight walk tonight.

Silently she crossed the room and paused in the open doorway turning back to the bed.

"Goodnight, Remus."

She could have sworn she saw the bushy light brown tail twitch before his head dropped back down in sleep.

She traveled swiftly through the hallways before sitting down on the bed. Remus was a werewolf. That was the only explanation. She probably should be freaking, she should totally be freaking out. She knew she should be so very frightened but she wasn't.

She knew him, this changed nothing, and well okay it changed a lot of things, just like it explained a lot of things. But it changed nothing about how she felt, she was quite sure it only made her care for him even more, plus she had to say he was quite adorable.

All in all, she thinks that she's not afraid of him, she thinks that perhaps it's only endeared him to her more.

Perhaps she will think later this was the beginning of everything that she could have never foreseen for herself.
.

.

.

.

Tonks shifted in the straight backed chair, he hadn't so much as spoken to her in three months, no matter how hard she tried to speak to him, his only concern was getting her as far away from him as he could not sparing how that made her feel any thought

He just didn't get it, no matter who he was – what he was, as the case may be – he had captured her in his web like a spider and its fly.

And even if she wished to – just like that fly – she couldn't fight it or escape it, and she had given up trying to escape. Now all that mattered was him.

She was fed up, so very fed up with this charade, she wasn't very patient and she was as love struck as any fool could ever dream of being, she loved him for every little thing that made him – well him, and what he was made little difference to her.

She knew and it changed nothing.

It didn't change how she felt in the least, if anything it made her love him more, distance made the heart grow fonder and all that, and he had certainly tried to put distance between them.

So when she caught sight of the heavy red construction paper laying on the desk and the scissors next to it she knew what she was going to do. Tomorrow was that day of the year after all.

Shifting again, she picked up the scissors – she preferred the muggle methods for these things – and began to cut out a slightly irregular and lopsided heart.

With a lopsided grin herself, she began to write.

Dear Remus,

.

.

.

.

Remus Lupin nearly collapses onto the bed when he gets back in. Turning over he decides no matter the hour – it was nearly noon – a nap was just what he needed, or that was before he caught sight of the innocent red heart lying on the desk.

His interest peaked he stood and took cautious before picking up the little heart.

Flipping it over, he read:

Dear Remus,

You don't want to talk to me, okay. I get it. But I'm going to talk anyway because that's the kind of person I am. Remus, I don't care if you're a werewolf, you're my friend, you're the best person I have met in a long time, and I care so very much about you. More than a friend should as the case may be.

Someday you're going to stop running, and realize that I'm not mistaken that I want you, hell I don't risk cutting of my own hand – you know I'm clumsy and clumsy people with scissors are never a great combo – for anyone.

So Remus no matter how much you push me away – no matter how much it hurts – when you're ready to stop running away from the truth I'll be here for you.

Love always,

Tonks.

PS You really didn't think I would use that dreaded name did you? No you know me better than that.

He is left staring dumbfounded for a long time.

.

.

.

.

It's four months later when she is injured – and he's beyond any anger that he has ever felt before that he realizes she may mean more to him than he originally thought.

And so while she sits in that room recovering she receives a little red heart that's a few months late.

Dear Tonks,

I care too.

Remus

She smiles.
:iconfaveandcomment1plz::iconfaveandcomment2plz:

I'm back with this. Yup I've been working on this ever since i got my letter and number and I'm finally satisfied It's a Valentines HP contest entry for here :iconharry-potter-club:

So it's later then i hoped it would be, but i finished!

So do any of you dear watchers watch Once Upon A Time because i absolutely adore the show along with Rumplestiltskin and Belle of course, I cannot wait for their story to continue. ( i heard in the 19th episode)

Move over SasuSaku, Itachi, and Harry Potter stuff, i have a new obsession!

lovely cover art by :iconlandersova:
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Summary: A Harry Potter one-shot, featuring five times that the Weasleys missed Percy and one time when they didn't have to anymore. Contains cursing, slight sexual references and character death. Canon compliant. Complete.


(Five Times That the Weasleys Missed Percy...)

(Arthur)

Arthur was slowly cleaning out his desk, getting ready for his move to the Office for the Detection and Confiscation of Counterfeit Defensive Spells and Protective Objects.

He was feeling a touch nostalgic, to be honest. He had always loved working for the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office.

He took the last spark plugs out of his drawer and placed it carefully in the box with his other things, turning his attention to the top of his desk. There wasn't much there that needed moving, except for the picture of his family. He picked it up for a moment and smiled to himself—more nostalgia, as the photo was a few years old, with Molly having a different hairstyle and Ron being several inches shorter and Percy—

...not there. He had walked out of the picture a year ago.

Arthur stormed up the stairs after him, feeling his hands ball into fists at his side. "There are some things more important than a bloody job, you know!"

Percy didn't turn, but he let out a harsh, humorless laugh. "You should talk!"

Arthur shook his head, trying to dispel the memory.

Thankfully, at that moment the door to the cramped office opened and Perkins came in. He paused at his desk, blinking blearily at the lack of posters on the wall and the missing Muggle artifacts covering Arthur's desk. "Dear me," he said, letting out a nervous chuckle. "It's starting to seem like you're actually leaving!"

Arthur smiled wanly, hefting the box into his arms. "I'm afraid so. It's all yours now, Mr. Department Head."

"Like I need the extra workload," Perkins said, but then he smiled. "'Course, once I Vanish the extra desk it'll be nice to finally spread my legs."

Arthur laughed, just as nervously, and then rearranged the box so he could awkwardly shake Perkins' hand. "I'll miss working with you, mate."

"Same here. Hope you don't get too bored without all your outlets and car motors to tinker with."

"Well, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't going to miss the old place." Arthur gave a lopsided smile. "But Molly's really happy that I'm taking this new job. And, well..."

He glanced down at the box, with the imperfect photo of his family lying on top. His brow furrowed.

"And what's that supposed to mean?!" Arthur demanded, coming to a stop and glaring up at the back of his son's head.

Percy finally spun around to face him, looking like he had never looked before, with his glasses slipping off of his face and his lip curled back in a furious snarl.

"I'm just saying, Father, maybe if you didn't care so much about playing with your STUPID MUGGLE TOYS, you could have gotten a job that actually let you FEED YOUR DAMN FAMILY!"

"...it's just time for me to move on," Arthur murmured, his tone quite soft and emotionless now. "And we could use the extra gold. You know...Bill's wedding coming up, that sort of thing."

"Hmm." Perkins seemed to notice the shift in Arthur's mood, but he didn't comment. "Well, good luck, then. I hope Eudora and I can see you and Molly for lunch soon."

"Of course. Definitely," Arthur said, giving him a smile that didn't look the least bit natural.

A moment later Arthur was walking down the corridor toward his new office. His eyes were clouded, and his mouth was drooping into a little frown. He couldn't seem to get Percy's face out of his head, his vicious snarl echoing in his ears.

It had been a family joke for years, even before Percy was old enough for Hogwarts. "Percy is going places." "Percy is going to become Minister for Magic." "Now, now, Perce, you're going to be nice to your old dad when you're his boss one day, right?"

Arthur had always known that his children were destined for great things. And, truth be told, he had always known that he wasn't. It had never really bothered him before that his kids might be more successful than him, or even that one of them, like Percy, would make his way up farther on the Ministry totem pole while he just hung around in his office of choice.

What did bother him was that his children might resent him for that. That they might see him fiddling away with engines and spark plugs and quietly hate him for only giving them hand-me-down robes and secondhand spellbooks. That they might think he cared more about his Muggle hobby than their material welfare.

He tried to tell himself that Percy was wrong. Arthur worked hard, after all. The Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office was a lot of work. Work that he enjoyed, true, but what was wrong with that? The family got by well enough. He didn't need a new job, just because Ron's pajamas were a little short and Fred and George's brooms were a little old and, well, they did have to occasionally struggle with the food budget a bit...

He wondered if Percy had heard about his promotion.

He paused at the lift, and for one wild moment he considered taking it to Percy's office, box still in his arms, and show his more-successful son that he really did want to provide for his family, that he could put real life ahead of his own peculiar hobby.

Then he sighed, looked at the Percyless picture in his box and took the lift to his new office instead.


(Fred and George)

Fred added another drop to the potion, which glowed a sudden, brilliant purple before settling back to sickly green. He leaned back in his seat, a look of triumph and awe glowing on his face.

"This will revolutionize all of Wizarding society. It could very well be the greatest discovery since Nicholas Flamel developed the Philosopher's Stone."

George raised an eyebrow. "But we don't want the laxative to be too strong, remember? There are laws about this sort of thing."

"Yeah," said Fred, who sounded rather bitter about that fact. "One of us will need to test it."

"Cheers," George said. And then, "Too bad Percy's gone." That had become their standard joke since the estrangement began, as they imagined using their brother to test all their most painful and embarrassing experiments.

Fred's face remained stoic, however, and he turned back to the cauldron to give their formula another stir. "Yeah. It would really stink if we never saw the old swot again."

George, who had been consulting their workbook, paused. He was searching for the sarcasm in his twin's voice and coming up empty.

"...Are you serious, Fred?"

"Yeah," he said quietly, giving George a curious look. "Don't you think so?"

George shrugged. "I'm not too bothered, honestly. Percy always was a bit of a prat."

"Yeah," Fred repeated. There was a long pause. "But I'm starting to think I shouldn't have thrown that parsnip at him at Christmas."

"I did that."

"Okay, so it's your fault that Mum spent the next month crying."

"Ginny did it."

"Agreed."

Fred went back to stirring the potion, and George regarded him with a slightly confused expression. It was odd, because Fred had always been the more mischievous and impulsive of the pair—but then, he was also a bit more sensitive as well. George had just never realized "caring about Percy" was within his emotional spectrum.

George, on the other hand...well, he wasn't exactly happy that the family had been divided. He supposed he missed Percy—a bit. He replayed the Christmas scene in his head again, wondering—maybe Mum had been right, and he did want to make up with the family? He brought Scrimgeour around to see Harry, but George supposed the two things weren't mutually exclusive. And if nothing else, Mum had been so happy for those first few minutes...

"Well, it doesn't matter, anyway," Fred decided, and his tone was suddenly a lot more cheerful. "He'll come back eventually."

George raised an eyebrow again. "What makes you so sure?"

"He has to," Fred said simply. "Just because he didn't get our family's magnetic charm doesn't mean he's immune from it. And hey—" He grinned, patting the side of the cauldron. "By then we'll have this thing perfected and ready for maximum humor."

George smirked, and their eyes locked, a moment of contentment settling over their flat once more. Then George's face fell.

"We still need to test this, don't we?"

"'Fraid so."

George sighed, pulling a Galleon out of his pocket. "I call heads."

"Is that a two-headed coin?"

"Maybe."


(Bill and Charlie)

"So...how do I look?" Bill asked, holding out his arms so that Charlie could get a good look at his dress robes.

His brother smirked. "Like a total prat."

"Ah. Perfect, then."

Bill turned back to the mirror and sighed, tracing one of his new scars with his finger. "Well, good enough, anyway. Though these might spoil the wedding photos a bit."

Charlie gave him a playful (but painful) punch in the arm. "Ah, don't worry about it! You should have heard the way Fleur was going on—oh, Beel's scars, zey make me so 'ot, I do not theenk I can make eet to ze wedding night without jumping 'is bones—"

Bill pushed Charlie away, grinning. "So, everything's almost ready out there, then?"

"Pretty much. Tent's all set up—security measures are in place—pretty much every living relative we have is here—you know, except..."

He trailed off, and Bill frowned again. He hesitated.

"You don't think there's any chance he'll show up, do you? Like at Christmas?"

Charlie raised an eyebrow. "Are you hopeful or worried? Because, you know, that ended in a food fight."

"Heh, yeah." Bill chuckled a bit, but his face remained downcast.

It felt...weird...having one of his brothers absent on his wedding day. In fact, to Bill it had never quite stopped being weird that Percy was gone. He loved all his younger siblings, but he had spent a lot more time with Percy than with any of the younger set—Fred and George had been four when he went off to Hogwarts, after all. Bill could remember babysitting Percy, teaching him to ride a broom, and a hundred other little things that suddenly seemed very important now that they were adults who rarely even spoke to each other.

"Fleur wanted the wedding party to be even," Bill said, trying to sound conversational. "You know, with a second groomsman. I considered writing to ask Percy, but..."

Charlie hesitated for a moment. "For what it's worth, I'm sure he'd want to be here with you," Charlie said. "It's just—you know. With Dad and everybody else here..."

"Yeah."

A moment's silence passed, and then Charlie threw his arm around Bill's shoulder, forcing humor into his voice again. "Now, now, buck up. You're about to marry a smoking-hot veela babe! Who's French! I don't want to have to cast a Cheering Charm on you before we send you down the aisle."

"Okay, okay. Big smile, see?" Bill feigned a huge, toothy grin that looked faintly terrifying.

"Attaboy! And besides, at every wedding something is destined to go wrong. Think about how much worse it could be. Remember Great-Uncle Julius' second marriage?"

"Agh, don't remind me!"

"Yeah, you see? If Percy not being here is the worst thing that happens today, we can consider ourselves lucky!"


(Ron)

Bill's owl had returned to Shell Cottage without any return message. Bill frowned as he regarded it, then shut it in its cage and returned to the dinner table. Ron watched him quietly as he picked at his food.

"I wish I knew what this means. It might be that he just doesn't want to talk, but it might mean he doesn't feel safe saying anything without his owl being read."

"I theenk 'ee could find a way eef 'ee wanted," Fleur sniffed.

"I know. I just worry about him—right in the hornet's nest, in some ways in even more danger than Dad." He paused. "And it's Christmas in a couple days. He must be lonely."

"Eef 'ee wanted to, 'ee could come, either 'eer or to ze Burrow," Fleur repeated, taking a sip of her drink. "You need to stop blameeng yourself for 'im. Eet is not your fault 'ee chose to abandon 'is loved ones—"

Clink.

Ron's silverware fell onto his half-empty plate. He was suddenly frozen, a dead look on his face.

Bill and Fleur glanced at each other before the former put his hand on his brother's arm. "You alright, Ron?"

"I—" He licked his lips, which were suddenly very dry. He pushed his chair back and stood. "I'm not very hungry. Excuse me—"

He pulled away from Bill and ran upstairs to the guestroom without another word. He threw himself down on his bed with the lights off, his breathing slower and more ragged than usual.

Bill knocked a moment later, asking if he wanted to talk. Fleur came by a few minutes after that, anxiously apologizing "eef anytheeng I said upset you." He remained silent, pretending to be asleep. It was only after he heard them turn in that he sat up on the edge of the bed and hunched his shoulders. He kept his eyes closed, listening to the sound of the waves outside his window.

It is not your fault he chose to abandon his loved ones—

—abandon his loved ones—</i>

Ron let out a groan, covering his face with his hands.

He had hated telling Bill about what happened between him, Harry and Hermione. He hated thinking about it, and even worse was thinking about what came before it—sitting there in the tent with nothing to do, stewing. Listening to Harry and Hermione talk, feeling his stomach twist, his hands shake in anger. It was that damn locket that did it—every time he put it on he started thinking about how much he hated Harry, hated Hermione, how they had always used him and made fun of him and now they were sneaking around and probably shagging in the forest and laughing at him every time he went to sleep—

Then he'd pass the locket on and the thoughts would fade.

Mostly.

That was the scary thing. The locket made it all worse, but he knew...somehow, deep down...that the thoughts weren't really coming from there. They were his thoughts, his feelings, ones that he had buried but which were still festering somewhere in his brain. And every time he took off the locket, they would still be echoing in his ears. It had finally gotten to the point where he just ran away, leaving his best friends (Rat! Bitch! he had thought) to carry on their mission without him.

Ron remembered a few weeks before, when he had first seen Bill writing to Percy. "I don't see why you bother," he had said dully. "It's not like he cares enough to reply."

Bill had turned around and looked at him, then gone back to his letter. His voice had been soft but pointed. "Sometimes people get angry, Ron. Sometimes people are holding in a lot of pain. That doesn't mean they don't care."

His meaning was obvious, but Ron, horrorstruck, had spent the last several weeks trying to convince himself that his situation was completely different. After all, Percy didn't have anything to feel miserable about. Percy hadn't been carrying a piece of You-Know-Who's soul around his neck. He was nothing like Percy.

But now he remembered how shocking those horrible thoughts had been, but also so familiar, and he saw himself storming out of the tent, juxtaposed to Percy storming up the stairs away from their father...

He suddenly hoped that Percy would answer Bill's next letter.

Maybe Ron wouldn't feel so guilty if there was another traitor around to sympathize with him.


(Ginny)

It was late at night in the D.A. Headquarters, but Neville still scratching out a letter with slow, careful quill-strokes by candlelight.

Ginny was the only one else still awake. She came over to sit next to him.

"What are you writing?"

"A letter to Edmund O'Deluga's parents."

"Oh." Edmund O'Deluga was a Hufflepuff second-year who had been caught helping the D.A. He had managed to escape from the castle, somehow. Nobody knew where he was now.

Neville sighed, putting his quill back in his ink bottle. "I don't know what to say. I can't tell them he's alright. I can't tell them he's not alright. All I can do is tell them he might turn up home soon." He paused. "I'm worried about him."

Ginny gave a mirthless scoff. "I don't know if I can worry about anybody else. There's already us, our families, Luna, Harry, Hermione..."

"Misery loves company," Neville said, smiling wryly. He picked up the quill and began to write again. A long moment passed in silence.

"Do you remember your brother? You know, the oldest one, Percy?"

Ginny stiffened. "He's not my oldest brother, just the oldest one you've met. And yeah, I remember him. Unfortunately."

"Oh. Well, that year with the Chamber of Secrets...you know, when you were kidnapped at the end—" Ginny grew even stiffer, though as far as she knew Neville did not understand exactly what had happened "—he wrote a letter for your parents. I remember him sitting in the Gryffindor Common Room...his hands were shaking the whole time—"

"What's your point?" Ginny asked loudly.

Neville's hand froze on the parchment as he turned to look at her. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you. I just—I just think of him every time I write one of these. I just sort of...wonder what it was he finally wrote. Wish I'd asked him."

He looked away, embarrassed. He probably thought it was mentioning the Chamber of Secrets that upset her—which it did, but it wasn't the only thing. She wrinkled her nose, absentmindedly turning her wand around in her hands.

"Percy isn't really on speaking terms with the family these days. He thought siding with the Ministry was a better idea than helping the people actually trying to stop You-Know-Who."

"Oh," Neville said again. "Sorry."

"Don't be. I'm not."

Neville went back to his letter, but then, after a moment, said "I'm sort of surprised. I always got the feeling everyone in your family was really close to each other."

"We are. Percy's just made it clear that he doesn't want to be a part of our family anymore."

Neville signed his name on the letter and rolled it up. He stood, began to walk away, stopped, hesitated, and then turned back to her.

"Well—I know I didn't know him particularly well—but for what it's worth, I don't believe that. And I don't think you would, either, if you'd seen him writing that letter."

He disappeared into the tunnel, where he would pass the letter on to Aberforth to mail to the O'Deluga family.

Ginny sat in the darkness, her expression stony, trying not to think.

After all, she was worried about enough people already. She didn't want to have to add Percy to the list.


(...and One Time That They Didn't Have to Anymore)

(Percy)

Percy sat on the step of the Burrow's back door, staring at the yard that seemed both alien and familiar.

He was not crying anymore. though he was finding it rather difficult to breathe correctly.

He should have been happy. He had finally patched things up with his family; he was finally back at the Burrow, the place he instinctively thought of as "home" even after three years living in his own London flat. But then, just as he'd come back, just as the Weasley family was finally whole once again...

"Fred."

Fred had been the first one in the family to welcome Percy back when he apologized. That had honestly surprised him. Percy had never been close to him or George—in fact he had been butting heads with them constantly ever since they were children. He had expected a huge fight, with them being the last ones to acknowledge him...but no. Fred welcomed him back, and just like that he had been forgiven by everybody.

It had been astounding, that brief bit of time. Percy had not even realized how large the weight on his shoulders was until it was lifted. He went into the Battle of Hogwarts giddy—he had almost felt like Fred and George's triplet. He had been so happy that it hardly even occurred to him that something could go wrong, that Fred...Fred, practically in the same hour as he had welcomed him back, could...

Percy closed his eyes. He took another deep, painful breath.

They had buried him that morning.

The backdoor opened. Percy couldn't even muster the energy to turn around and see who it was until they spoke.

"Oh. Hey, Perce."

It was George. Percy felt as if his heart had stopped beating.

Like Percy, George was not crying, but that was because he hardly seemed to be emoting at all. As far as Percy knew he had not cried since the morning the battle ended; now his face was just blank, his voice soft and his eyes vacant. Something about it almost scared Percy. He was so pale that he almost looked like an Inferius.

Percy took another deep breath. "Hello." His voice was thick, and he cleared it, keeping his eyes on his shoes sticking out from the hem of his dress robes.

George sat down on the steps next to him. Percy wished that he hadn't. As happy as he had been to reunite with them for that glorious hour a few nights ago, at the moment Percy could not stand to be around anyone in his family. His own thoughts were too muddled and miserable, and just being in the same room as them brought on a crushing sense of guilt. Fred had been his redeemer; with him gone Percy almost felt like he had been exiled from the family again, as if he were a gate-crasher intruding on their grief.

That feeling was especially potent with George. He kept feeling like he should babble out his condolences, even though Fred had obviously been his brother as well. But of course, the two of them couldn't compare. Percy and Fred might have been brothers, but George and Fred almost seemed like two sides of a single person.

The two sat there in silence for what might have been a minute or an hour. Percy was still panting. George was very quiet as he looked out over the tangled yard, and Percy wondered if maybe he was taking some sort of comfort from the scene or was just too dazed to be feeling anything at all.

"Fred was really happy to see you, you know."

Percy turned to his brother, so surprised that all he could do was stare.

"He told me that. I mean, not after you showed up, but—before." The words were tumbling out of George's mouth in sharp gasps, as if they hurt to keep in and needed to be painfully extracted. "He told me he missed you, and I could tell he was really happy when you came back. He said you would come back eventually, and I'm glad you did. It was really important to him. I could tell."

His voice was starting to tremble now, and so was Percy's when he said "George—"

"And I'm really happy you came back when you did," George said, his voice growing louder. "Even if—it was only at the end, right before. Because he got to see you. And I—" His eyes began to water for the first time in days. "I just keep thinking—it's lucky that you showed up before the battle, because otherwise—if you had decided not to come back until like, today, or even if you were just a little late, y-you know, when the battle was halfway through or s-something—"

Percy's eyes were burning. "George—"

"Y-You would have missed him, and he was so glad—he—h-he really wanted you back, Perce, and I—I—"

Before Percy knew what was happening George's face was on his shoulder, and he was bawling, and without even realizing it Percy started to bawl on his shoulder, each of them gripping the other so tightly it was painful.

"G-George, I—I'm so s-sorry—"

"Don't—"

They both lost the ability to speak after that and just kept sobbing, staining each other's robes with tears.

After what felt like a very long time they stopped crying but kept clutching each other, each of them trembling, neither of them speaking.

And at the very end of that long embrace, for only a moment, each of them forgot that they were supposed to missing Fred and felt a moment of contentment as they realized that they didn't have to be missing each other anymore.

I've been thinking about Percy a lot lately (see my recent fic "Odd One Out"), and you know what really bugs me? Other than Molly and kind-of Arthur, nobody in his family ever acts sad that he's gone. They act angry, but is there any indication that they actually feel bad about him leaving? Anger can certainly be used to mask hurt, but that's not really the sense I get from any of the Weasley siblings in the book. Their apparent indifference makes the whole thing feel even more oversimplistic and one-sided.

So you know what? I'm shoehorning in some brotherly love for that most boring of brothers. Thanks to everyone who helped inspire this, and hope you enjoy!
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Disclaimer: I own none of the characters in the Harry Potter universe; they belong to JK Rowling, and I make no money off of this

"What do you think you're doing, Granger?"


"You're doing it wrong! If you just dump all the spider eggs in at once, your cauldron is going to explode."


"I'll have you know that my O.W.L. score in potions was Outstanding."


"Stop being such a Malfoy. Look--"


Draco gave Hermione a small shove. Hermione pushed back. Draco's cauldron hit the floor, spewing blue goo everywhere. They both turned to look at Snape, who was regarding them with a flat stare. "Five points from Gryffindor."


"And none from Slytherin? That's so unfair," Hermione complained.


"And detention for Miss Granger."


The other Slytherins snickered. Draco gave Hermione another small shove. "Serves you right, you uppity, mouthy Muggle-born." She bumped up against another table, dumping Crabbe's cauldron right in his lap.


Snape clutched his forehead and muttered something under his breath. "Detention for you, too, Malfoy. And clean up that mess, both of you, before the spiders start hatching. Without using magic. Granger, get Crabbe's robes."


...........


Later that day, Hermione and Draco were presented with a huge pile of dirty cauldrons from the first year students' class. Some of them were hissing and smoking. Well, it was still better than cleaning up Crabbe, Hermione thought. The over-sized boy had enjoyed it a bit too much.


"Number one, you will get all of these cauldrons done. If you do not finish today, you will come back tomorrow. Number two, do you see that orb sitting on my desk?" The two students looked. It was about the size of a standard globe, and sitting in a filigreed silver stand. Violet, lavender, and purple smoke swirled inside of it. "If even one of your feet leave the floor for more than fifteen seconds, it will release a noxious gas. It will do the same if anyone besides me tries to touch it or tamper with it on any way. Am I clear?'


"Quite." Hermione couldn't suppress a tiny smile.


"Please bear in mind, this is a classroom, not a love nest." Snape strode from the room.


They were able to hold in their giggles just long enough for the potions master to get out of earshot. "Love nest? Who says that?" Hermione asked as she peeked out into the corridor.


"I don't know what a love nest is, but maybe we should get one. It might come in handy someday." Draco helped jam the door shut with a stool. "Now that no one else can get in, maybe this is a love nest."


"Let's find out." Still, giggly, they kissed a bit. "Hmm... No, it doesn't seem very nest-y in here. And it smells funny," Hermione said.


"The smell is getting worse." Draco grimaced. "The first years were doing something with sulphur."


They got to work cleaning the stinkier cauldrons. Hermione smirked at Draco, whose soft, manicured hands were not accustomed to such work. She laughed when he winced over a broken nail. "Want me to kiss it all better?"


"All right. Then I'll hurt some of my other parts."


That made Hermione blush. And have thoughts. "Um, maybe we should look at those books now."


The books on Snape's desk were huge and ancient-looking. The one on top was the smallest, and Hermione could barely carry it. Draco took the tome underneath. They sat across from each other at a table. Hermione studied the brass lock that secured the velvet-covered volume before her, noticing that there was no keyhole. "Alohomora!" That didn't work. She stroked its spine, as if it was 'The Monster Book of Monsters'. Nothing.


"My father has some books with locks like that." Draco reached across the table and tapped a complicated rhythm on the lock. The metal began to glow red. "Oh, no, a self-destruct lock!" He kept tapping at it, cursing as his fingers got burned. "No no no no, Snape will kill us." The lock emitted an ear-piercing screech and frosted over so suddenly that one of Draco's fingers was frozen to it. He hissed in pain as he pulled it away, leaving skin behind.


"Maybe we should look at the other books first," Hermione ventured.


"A book isn't protected like this because it has recipes for wrinkle-removing potions. There's something juicy in here." He continued tapping away with his other hand while sucking on his injured fingers. The lock let out a nasty, sparking shock, and Draco displayed an impressive ability to swear, even with his mouth full. "Well, there's another thing I can try, but I'm going to look rather idiotic doing it."


"Looking idiotic is better than losing all your fingers."


Draco leaned down and put his lips on the lock. The book let out a sigh and the lock opened with a snicking sound. "My father's poison manual opens that way. I'm not supposed to know, but I used to spy on him."


Hermione flipped to the table of contents, and there it was: 'Veritaserum Antidote, Otherwise Known as Obfuscerum............ Page 1578.' She flipped through the pages in a fever of excitement. At this point, making the antidote was now a personal challenge for Hermione, a puzzle she had to solve, a way to flex her mental and magical muscle. And so she took it rather personally when all of page 1578 was entirely blacked out.


"You're cute when you growl," Draco said. He tore the page out, and Hermione squealed in horror at the desecration of a book. "Don't worry. I can fix it." He held the page up to the light and squinted. " 'Obfuscerum must be stirred under moonlight by the hand of a virgin'. There go my plans for tomorrow." Hermione blushed again. "Hmm... peryton feathers, unicorn hair, aaaand... venomous toadwart."


"Let me guess. We have to go into the Forbidden Forest for venomous toadwart."


"No, I'm pretty sure I've seen that at Dogweed and Deathcap."


"And we need to go there anyway, to see if we can get you a position there for the summer."


"And tomorrow is a Hogsmeade day!"


"Perfect!" Hermione leaned across the table for a kiss. Very quickly, the table between them became an annoyance, and Draco moved his stool next to hers. But keeping both feet on the floor while sitting and snogging was hard on their necks, so they stood up. Pressing the full length of her body against Draco's felt absolutely heavenly. Beyond thinking clearly, she picked up one foot, drawing it up his leg caressingly. Draco made a sweet sound against her mouth as she climbed up him.


Hsssssssssssssssssss.

The room filled with purple and violet smoke, and they both began to cough and wheeze. They unjammed the door and spilled into the hallway, wiping their eyes and gagging.


Once their stinging eyes could see again, Snape was standing before them. "Ah. Looks like the two of you will be back tomorrow. I'll see you at ten."

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Draco tearing a page out of a book... I have no problem with using movie-only stuff in my book-based fics XD
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Rating: PG


Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe belongs to JK Rowling, and I make no money from this


...............


Ron came back with a pajama-clad, yawning Harry and a sealed vial. "All right, who are we going to test this on?" he asked eagerly.


Hermione took a deep breath. "It should be me." If there was something in her potion that would, say, cause one to sprout donkey ears within twenty-four hours, she should be the one to carry those consequences. After all, it was her own lying lips that led to this situation. She popped open both vials. The Veritaserum left no impression on her taste buds. The glittery liquid she and Draco had concocted tasted like pineapple.


Ron rubbed his hands together and grinned. "I'm going to ask the first question. Who were you with last night, Hermione?"


"Malfoy." Oh, dear. Whatever the glittery liquid was, it was not Obfuscerum.


Ron and Harry gave each other triumphant looks. "It works, it works, it works!" Ron did a little happy jig.


"I want to play this game, too," said Harry, "What did you and Malfoy do together last night?"


"We--we made the antidote. Then we hugged, and kissed, and he put his hands under my--"
Hermione wished for an earthquake, a meteor strike, anything. Her face was burning, and sweat was popping out on her upper lip. She tried to fight it, but the Veritaserum was making her mouth open, her tongue move, her vocal cords vibrate. "Under my shirt."


"I saw the whole thing," a small voice piped up, "and it was positively revolting." The talking rat! Hermione kicked at it, and it zoomed under a sagging couch.


"What on the name of Merlin was that?" Ron exclaimed, kneeling down to grope under the couch. He pulled the rat out by its tail.


The rat squirmed frantically. "Put me down, you stupid ginger!"


Ron poked at the rodent with his wand. "What did you see, then?"


"That trollop there, cavorting shamelessly with a boy."


"And what did this boy look like?"


Ron was going to have to die. It was the only solution.


That was when Crookshanks, taking a running leap, swiped at both the rat and Ron's hand with claws unsheathed. Ron yelped and dropped the rat. The rat sped away and squeezed through a crack in the wall where no cat could follow. Hermione was going to have to beg some sort of tidbits from the kitchen elves to reward Crookshanks, as she had no doubt that he had sensed her distress and had deliberately come to her rescue. She picked the cat up in both arms, letting out a little 'oof' because of his weight, and gave him a thorough cuddling.


"I hate that bloody cat," Ron griped. He put his hand to his mouth and sucked on his scratches.


"I hate spying little rats worse," said Hermione.


…………


Hermione was studying while sitting on her favorite lake-side bench. A note folded into the shape of a bunny's head floated to her, and she smiled. Draco was getting good at origami. "Good afternoon, Beautiful. I'm sorry to hear that it didn't work. Now you've got to stay a you-know-what a little longer. Meet me in the Astronomy Tower tonight? D"


"Is that one of your customers asking how much for the night?" Pansy Parkinson made a grab for the note, but only got a shock on her fingers before it turned into sparks and ashes. She glared at Hermione. "You really think you're something special, don't you? But you're wrong. You're common as mud." She stalked away, leading her gang.


"Slag," Millicent Bulstrode hissed.


"Slapper," Daphne Greengrass spat.


Hermione just sat there on the stone bench doing a slow burn. Oh, how she wanted to throw that fact that she, common-as-mud Hermione Granger, was the one that Draco loved right in Parkinson's pug-like face. She wrote a note, and folded it into a star. "Yes, yes, I most certainly will meet you. I'm going to put my arms around you and I'm going to kiss you and, oh, how I wish I could tell all the world that you're mine. H"


Hermione walked back to the castle, chin up. She refused to acknowledge the stares and whispers that followed wherever she went. She refused to cover up the mark on her neck. And she refused to be shamed for something that she knew was very, very right.

Chapter One [link]
Chapter Thirteen [link]
Chapter Fifteen [link]

A shorter chapter again--but there are big things afoot in the next chapter.
Happy Dramione!

Update 9/29 Some revisions, due tp the fact that George and Fred were no longer in school at this point. I'm totally messing with JKR's timeline, anyway, I should at least try to be consistent with my own AU XD
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.............

"Aren't you worried about the Trace?" Hermione asked.


"My father bribed someone at the MInistry to remove mine years ago."


"Honestly, Draco, why do you know so much advanced magic?"


Draco had Hermione by the hand, and he was leading her through a narrow alley to the back of the church. "My father has had me tutored intensively for the past two years so I can be a good little soldier for the Dark Lord. It worked against him tonight, though. He was afraid to take me on. He knows I'm as good as he is, these days." They paused before the rectory door. "Ready?" he asked as he reached for the lion-headed door-knocker.


"No. But go ahead." Hermione didn't ask what was going on. She was pretty sure she knew.


After a few minutes of knocking, a sixtyish woman in a bathrobe and nightcap answered. When she was able to focus her sleepy eyes on them, she said, "And so it begins again. Come in." She stood aside so they could walk past her as she held the door, which led right into a snug living room. "Two children on my doorstep in the middle of the night, holding hands. In times like these, it can only mean one thing. I haven't performed a Shield Marriage since the first war, but I stocked up on supplies anyway. I knew it was only a matter of time."


Shield Marriage. It was what Hermione suspected, but hearing it put into words was a shock. Her heart was pounding and her palms were damp.


"Sit, sit." The vicar gestured at her overstuffed loveseat. "Now, you do realize the serious nature of what you are about to undertake, right? Once you're married, if one of you dies, the other dies, too."


"I'm Pure Blood, and she's Muggle-born. My father knows about us now, and I know he'll kill her."


The vicar looked hard at Draco. "You're the Malfoy boy, aren't you? I had dealings with your father twenty years ago. Performing these marriages made me a blood traitor in his eyes. I don't doubt that your father is capable of killing to preserve his family's honor."


BAM BAM BAM. "I know my son is in there!" It was Lucius' voice. Hermione jumped, then drew even closer to Draco.


"Don't worry. I have very strong wards up. It would take him three days to get in."


"You cannot marry them! They're not of age!" Lucius shouted.


The vicar walked to the door, but didn't open it. "You know very well that Shield Marriages are exempt, Lucius Malfoy."


Lucius replied with a string of vile epithets.


"You come with me, young lady." The vicar led her down a hall and to a closet, and started briskly rummaging around. "I'm Aislin Connor."


"Hermione Granger. He's Draco."


"I wish we could have met under better circumstances. Ah. Here." Aislin pressed a vial into Hermione's hand. "One sip of this will prevent pregnancy for a month. Use it, for heaven's sake. This is no time for a baby. And, here, just a little something for the wedding night. It looks about your size." It was a little satiny pink wisp of a night-gown. Hermione blushed as she tucked it and the vial in her pocket. "And the certificate and rings. We are ready to go."


Lucius was no longer banging on the door when Hermione returned to the living room. He was in an argument with a couple of men, from the sound of it. "Good, hard-working people are trying to sleep, you arrogant popinjay!" bellowed a deep, froggy voice.


"Get your filthy hands off of me!" Lucius snapped.


"Get off our street!" yelled a third, reedy voice.


"You misbegotten mongrels--AHHHH!" There was a loud crack.


"Is he gone, Normie?" Aislin called.


"Yeah," said the reedy voice.


"Thank you and good night, men!" Aislin handed one ring to Hermione and one to Draco. They were a dull brass color. "We'll make this short and sweet, so you can leave before he comes back. Draco, as you slip the ring on her finger, say 'I, Draco Malfoy, will be your husband and your shield, and none shall part us, even unto death'."


Hermione couldn't help trembling as Draco said the words. The ring adjusted itself to her finger with a tickly rippling motion. Without prompting from Aislin, she took Draco's hand and said the words. "I, Hermione Granger, will be your wife and your shield, and none shall part us, even unto death."


"Hold hands so your rings touch." Aislin held her wand over their clasped left hands and chanted. The rings, which looked like they were made of polished gold now, began to glow. A line of white, sparkling light came out of each ring and entered the other. Hermione watched, fascinated. It was a very powerful bit of magic. The rings would glow until their deaths, or until they both willingly agreed to dissolve the marriage under circumstances completely free of duress. The spell was partially based on the Unbreakable Vow, but there was a mystery at the heart of it. There were those who maintained that the glow was caused by a tiny bit of the other's soul in the ring; like a Horcrux, but, since it was freely given out of selfless love, it didn't require murder. Others believed no such thing was possible, and it was actually love itself illuminating the rings. There were some who thought that Shield Marriages should be outlawed until the magic behind them was better understood.


"There. It's done. You're married," Aislin said. She bent over her coffee table and started filling our the marriage certificate.


Draco put his arms around Hermione's waist and drew her close. As their lips met, she started crying again. Feeling the wet on his cheeks, Draco pulled back. "I'm not that bad at kissing, am I?"


Hermione swiped at her cheeks. "It's just that I always expected my parents... you know, my father giving me away and all."


"When all this is over with, and your parents are back, we'll have a real wedding, all right?"


Hermione nodded and tried to smile. Draco kissed her on the forehead.


"Sorry to interrupt, dearies, but I need you two to sign the certificate, and then you'd better go. I wouldn't be surprised if Lucius came back with some of his Death Eater playmates." Aislin held out a quill. The spaces for the witnesses' signatures had 'not applicable/Shield Marriage' scrawled across them. Draco and Hermione signed.


"I don't know how to thank you for this," Draco said to Aislin. He looked near tears himself. He took the older woman's hand and shook it.


Aislin smiled. "Just fight the good fight."


Out on the street again, the two newlyweds walked hand in hand past all the closed shops, a three-quarters moon overhead. "What now?" Hermione asked.


Draco gently pushed her against a wall and pressed his entire body up against hers. "We get a room at the Leaky Cauldron for the rest of the night."


"We'll be in trouble when we go back to Hogwarts in the morning."


"These rings don't come off, you know.They'll know we were out."


Hermione's body felt hot all over. "Let's do it, then. It'll be our honeymoon." Only heaven knew what consequences they'd be facing for tonight. Why not have one good night alone together?


Draco grinned. "Let's go, then." He tried to pick her up. He dropped her and went for his wand when there was a faint scraping sound behind them.


"Expelliarmus!"

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Part 3: [link]

More AU Dramione action.
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