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Disclaimer: I do not own any characters used in this story, all recognizable names, locations, and characters are property of the wonderful JK Rowling, who was lovely enough to bless us with the Harry Potter books to become obsessed with as I have.

 

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Breakdown

 

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It had been three weeks since the Battle of Hogwarts and Harry’s defeat of Voldemort. It had also been three weeks since Fred, Remus, Tonks, Colin Creevey, and many more beloved people had died.

 

Since the Battle, Harry had been staying with the Weasleys. Eventually, he planned on finding a place of his own, but he didn’t want to quite yet. He loved the Weasleys, and he had loved Fred, and he wanted to be there for them. After all, the Weasleys were, quite literally, the family that he never had.

 

Things had been very subdued in the Burrow over the last few weeks. Hardly anyone talked, and it was practically a whisper whenever anyone did. They mostly stayed silent, contemplating why things had to be how they were. Why Fred had to die in order to stop Voldemort.

Mrs. Weasley was beside herself with grief, and swung wildly between complete, stoic silence and sobbing her heart out on somebody’s shoulder. When she was comforted by Ginny, she would often simply stroke her mother’s hair and hold onto her, silent tears of her own streaming down her face. When it was Harry’s or Ron’s shoulder, or one of the older boys, they would often mutter a string of comforts under their breath while they hugged her, desperately trying not to cry. George was never around, spending all of his time locked in his room with the occasional excursion to the bathroom or the kitchen.

 

But, when Mr. Weasley comforted his wife, he remained stoic. Since the day of the Battle, Harry had not seen Mr. Weasley cry once. He could tell that he was hurting, because he almost never spoke or made any sound at all, but Harry was unnerved by Mr. Weasley’s lack of emotion. Sure, everyone grieved in their own way, but Harry knew that Mr. Weasley needed to be comforted over the loss of his son, but it seemed that he refused any help. Since Sirius had died, Harry knew that bottling up your grief over a loss was never a good idea.

 

But, despite knowing that, eventually, Mr. Weasley was going to break down, Harry never expected himself to be the one to find him grieving.

 

It was very late on the night that it happened, and Harry was having trouble sleeping. Since Voldemort’s death, Harry had been sleeping a lot better than he used to, but tonight he couldn’t stop thinking about all the people that he had lost. His parents, Sirius, Dumbledore, Dobby, Fred, Remus, Tonks, Colin… all those people that he loved and who died protecting him. It had been hours since Ron’s snores filled the room, however Harry was no closer to falling asleep than he had been since he first laid down.

 

He decided that maybe some fresh air would help calm his overactive mind, so he slipped on his glasses, grabbed his wand, and made his way silently down the stairs, making sure to jump the ones that he knew were extra creaky.

 

When he made his way to the kitchen door, though, he paused. He could hear the sound of a man sobbing, and had a pretty good idea who it could be. He idly waved his wand over his shoulder toward the stairs and muttered “Muffliato” before slowly pushing the door open and making his way into the kitchen.

 

There, sitting at the scrubbed kitchen table and sobbing into his hands, was Mr. Weasley. He had put his wand and horn-rimmed glasses on the table in front of him, and Harry could see tears dripping onto the table from between his fingers. It seemed that Mr. Weasley hadn’t noticed when Harry walked in the room.

 

Harry walked forward slowly and, after a slight hesitation, lightly placed is hand on Mr. Weasley’s back, right on his left shoulder blade.

 

“Mr. Weasley?” he muttered.

 

Mr. Weasley straightened up in a flash, wiping his eyes on the back of his hand and stuffing his glasses back onto his face. “Oh, Harry. What are you doing up at this hour?” he asked with a sniff. Tears were still streaming down his face.

 

“Couldn’t sleep. Are you okay?” Harry asked.

 

“Of course, of course. I couldn’t sleep either, just thought I’d come out here so I wouldn’t bother Molly with my tossing and turning, you know.” Mr. Weasley muttered. A small sob escaped him in the middle of his sentence.

 

“Mr. Weasley…you know you don’t have to hide anything from me, right? I know you’re trying to stay strong for Mrs. Weasley and your kids but…that doesn’t mean you have to stay strong in front of me.” Harry said cautiously. He took his hand off Mr. Weasley’s back and sat in the chair beside him, turning it so he was facing the man.

 

“I’m fine, Harry, really. If anyone should be upset – ”

 

“You lost your son, Mr. Weasley. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but you have every right to be upset.” Harry cut him off.

 

Mr. Weasley opened his mouth as if to reply, then shut it again, stray tears leaking out of his eyes behind his glasses.

 

“I know you’re trying to stay strong for your family, but you can’t keep this up forever. Bottling up your grief will just leave you in more and more pain. Trust me, I tried doing the same thing after Sirius died. But, you have an advantage. After Sirius died, I was stuck was people who didn’t give a damn about me. They couldn’t care less that my godfather died. You have people that care about you, Mr. Weasley. You have Mrs. Weasley, Bill, Charlie, Percy, George, Ron, Ginny… and me. You aren’t alone in grieving for Fred, and you don’t have to hide that grief from everybody. You don’t have to be strong all the time.”

 

Mr. Weasley simply stared at Harry before gulping and dropping his head in his hands, making sure to take off his glasses again before doing so. Within no time, he was shaking with renewed sobs. Harry pulled chair closer to Mr. Weasley’s and gripped his shoulder tightly with his right hand. He grabbed his left hand and carefully lowered it from his face, and gripped that tightly with his own.

 

After a few minutes, in which Harry saw no improvement and Mr. Weasley continued to sob, Harry stood and grabbed both of the older man’s hands, pulling him up onto is feet. He muttered a small “C’mon, it’s all right…” as he did so. Once he had Mr. Weasley on his feet, he pulled him forward and hugged him tightly.

 

When Harry did this, Mr. Weasley let out an especially loud sob and buried his face in Harry’s shoulder. Harry started muttering a string of soothing words under his breath like he did with Mrs. Weasley as Mr. Weasley continued to cry.

 

“It’s all right, sir. It’s going to be okay. I’m sorry this happened. I hope you know that you are the best father that Fred could have every asked for. You’re fun, hard-working, loving, caring, and everything that a great father should be. You are certainly the best father figure I’ve ever had. I’m so glad I became friends with Ron on the train our first year, because otherwise I may not have met all of you, and my life would be all the worse for it. I love you and your family more than any of you know. You’re the first family I ever had, and I never want that to change…” he kept this up until Mr. Weasley had sobbed himself dry and pulled back from Harry. Even though there was a very large wet spot on the shoulder of Harry’s pajamas, he didn’t care in the slightest.

 

“Better, Mr. Weasley?” Harry asked.

 

Mr. Weasley gave him a watery smile. “Thank you, Harry. Really. And I want you to know that, not only do you love my family, but my whole family loves you as well. You really are part of our family, Harry. Never doubt that. I love you, son.”

 

Harry patted Mr. Weasley on the shoulder and made his way toward the stairs, lifting his Muffliato spell as he did so.

 

“I love you too, Mr. Weasley.”