As long as I can remember, we were never apart. It was like we weren't separate people, always Fred and George, the twins. We got sick at the same time. It was always us, everything the same. So how are you supposed to act when someone like that, someone who has been by your side your whole life, is suddenly torn away from you?
You always think how hard it will be when your parents die, but your best friend, brother, twin?
Months have passed since the great battle. Memorials have been built, celebrating the dead, the fighters, the heroes. Everywhere I went, I saw his name, heard his name. People looked at me in the streets. I could see it in their eyes: the pity.
But I didn't want their bloody pity.
I just wanted my brother back.
People told me it would get better. Maybe it did, a little. But for me, it was unnoticeable. It still hurt as much as when I first saw Fred lying on the ground, smiling. How ironic: he died smiling, and now I could hardly even force myself to smile.
The worst part of it was for everyone else, it seemed to be getting better. Ginny was back with Harry, Ron and Hermione were inseparable. Bill had Fleur to distract him, and Charlie, his dragons in Romania. Hell, Mum and Dad even had each other. Percy was the only other one who didn't really have anyone else, but he had been missing from the family for years before the battle. And even when he'd been here, he had never really been that chummy with us.
Even though it wasn't getting better, I knew that I had to make an effort to act like it was even if just for my family's sake. I don't know if you've ever had to lose someone that important and then pretend you're okay, but this is basically how it goes: during the day, you walk around, you fake a smile, you pretend the world isn't ending. But when the night comes, you curl up in a ball, clinging to anything you can find of the person you lost, pain racking your body, wishing the world would end so you wouldn't have to face it anymore.
Day into night, back to day, into night again. I wasn't living, simply surviving. I couldn't be living, because this wasn't life. There wasn't life without Fred. I wasn't even sure I was surviving, just existing.
Everything the same.
It's enough to drive anyone mad.
And it was on a day completely indistinguishable that the barriers I'd put up around me started to crack.
I still lived in the flat above the shop. I was hardly ever in the shop anymore, let it be run by the employees. I couldn't stand to be in the shop, but at the same time I couldn't bear to lose it, or the flat. I spent most of my time in here, because even though it was hard to live surrounded by everything that reminded me of him, it was still harder to walk around outside and pretend everything is fine.
I was lying on my bed, tears rolling down my face, twisting a sweater with a F emblazoned on the front in my hands, staring across the room at my brother's side of the room. It was still the way it had been the last time we left together. The way the room looked, he could just be walking down the street, about to come back any moment. But he wasn't, that was the problem.
I heard a creak as my door opened. I didn't care enough to turn and see who it was. "George?" I knew I would find out soon enough. "George, are you in he- oh my god, George!"
Ginny. Why was she here?
"George." She sat down next to me and gathered me up in her arms, hugging me. Sobs continued to rip their way out of my throat. I couldn't stop crying. I wanted to stop, I was ashamed of crying, but I couldn't stop. Ginny's hands rubbed circles on my back. Trying to calm me. My throat felt ragged, my face drenched as thoroughly as if I had been walking in the poring rain. "George, you can't keep this from all of us. Keeping it to yourself is going to kill you."
"Maybe that would be better."
"Don't say that!" She hugged tighter. "Please, don't even say that."
"So what am I supposed to do? Let you all see me a wreck like this?"
"You're supposed to let us help."
"Nothing can help this." I let her hug me, but I was limp. I didn't look at her, I didn't hug her back. Just stared at one place on the wall, where there was nothing. Just space.
"George, it's alright to miss him, it's alright to cry."
"You're wrong." I pulled away suddenly. She stared at me, obviously shocked by my reaction. "It isn't alright to miss him, it isn't alright to cry."
"How can you say that?" Her voice was barely a whisper, her eyes shining with tears.
"Because it's true." She wanted in? She wanted to help me? Okay, then she'd have to be prepared for everything. "It's not alright, because nothing will be alright ever again."