Chapter 1: Prologue
"Hey George," Fred called through the third-floor bathroom door as he knocked. "Breakfast is ready. You better hurry before Ron eats all of the good stuff."
"I'll be down there in a second," George called back as he looked at his reflection in the mirror. "Just save me something."
George continued to look at his reflection in the mirror as he heard his footsteps fade away. He could hear Ron rushing down the stairs from his room and then he knew that he was alone upstairs. He sighed and splashed water on his face before looking at his reflection once more.
A slightly different version of Fred stared back at him. His hair used to fall into his eyes but he had recently cut it short because of his Mum's wishes, but it was more like nagging to him. Unlike Fred, George had a mole on the right side of his neck and by his nose. That was the only way Fred and George were different.
But George could see something else.
He pulled his t-shirt off over his head and looked at his stomach. Someone else would have seen a flat, hard stomach. But what he saw was flab. He pinched his stomach skin as his breath came out shaky.
'That's the only difference between Fred and I' George though as he let go of his skin and looked up at his pale face. 'I'm uglier than him. I'm bigger than him. If I can see it the others can too. How come I've never noticed it before?' He rested his hands on the sink as he lowered his head and tried not to cry. 'Why can't I be as skinny as Fred? He's slim and muscular and I'm just a blob.'
George could hear the scraping of silverware over plates down in the kitchen as he grabbed his t-shirt and pulled it down over his head. 'Fred and I are supposed to be alike, otherwise we wouldn't get away with our tricks.' George spun that theory around in his head. 'I have to get thinner.'
Chapter 2: Dear Diary...
George slowly made himself walk down the three flights of stairs to get to the kitchen. The sounds of talking and scraping got louder as he got closer and closer to the kitchen. He finally came down and saw Fred, Ginny, Ron, his mother, and his father sitting at the table. He sat down and looked at the end of the table that was empty. Things were somewhat quieter now that Percy had moved out after that row he had had with his parents.
Sometimes he missed having Percy around, the only form of entertainment that he and Fred now had was to play small tricks on Ron. Besides that they were too busy creating new jokes and tricks that they would use to open up their own joke shop with the money that Harry had given them the year before.
"Is that all you're going to eat?" Fred spoke up so suddenly George jumped in his seat. He looked down at his plate and saw that he only had two pieces of sausage sitting on his plate.
"Yeah, I'm not that hungry," George responded as he shrugged and stabbed a sausage link with his fork. Across the table Ginny gave him a suspicious look but she didn't say anything as she continued eating her breakfast. A loud bang caused them all to jump and they turned to see that their owl, Errol, had crashed into the window again.
"George, go fetch Errol," Mrs. Weasley told him. He nodded before pushing back his chair and going to the window. He held out his hand and Errol jumped onto his palm. He ran a finger along the owl's wings and across the smooth feathers. George smiled slightly before taking the letter that was in his beak and looking at the front as he walked back to his seat.
"It's for you, Mum," he said as he held it out. "Dad too."
Mr. Weasley took the letter from George before he sat down. He stabbed his sausage with his fork and stared at it before taking a small bite. He engrossed himself in a conversation that Fred, Ginny, and Ron were having about Quidditch teams, not that he cared much. Sure, he loved Quidditch as much as the next person but sometimes he wanted peace and quiet too.
"Fred, George, Ron, it's time to degnome the garden again," Mrs. Weasley quickly added as she rushed back into the room. "Ginny, clean your room and then clean the bathroom." Ginny's brother's laughed at the look of disdain that was on Ginny's face before she stood and gathered her plates.
"Get finished as fast as you can," Fred whispered to Ginny. "Then you can come out and play Extreme Exploding Snap with us."
"We have to be more careful this time," Ron pointed out. "Mum practically had a fit when George lost his eyebrows. And that was an accident."
Fred and George laughed at the memory before following Ron outside to the front lawn. George stopped to turn around and take a look at their house. Other people would see it as a run down shack that was about to fall over but George saw it as home. Ever since he was younger he loved the look of it, how it was the most original house in the whole neighborhood. Sure, he had to deal with the taunts from other families, namely the Malfoys, but he tried to ignore it the best he could.
"George, look out!" Fred suddenly cried. George turned his head to see a garden gnome flying towards him. He whopped out his wand and quickly cast a levitating spell and the gnome hovered in midair. He turned and tossed the gnome over the fence. "Sorry, mate," Fred apologized as he clapped George on the arm. "I didn't meant to throw it at you. It just bit my finger, that's all."
"No harm done, Fred," George said with a small smile. Fred smiled back before he went to find another gnome that was wandering around. George's smile faded as he turned to find a gnome of his own to grab. Each one he got tried to beat him up before he put a stunning spell on them, which cracked Fred up. George bit his lip before spinning around and letting one go so it went flying over the fence. They did that for about twenty more minutes before all of the gnomes were cleared. George turned to go back inside the house.
"George, aren't you going to play with us?" Fred asked. "It's better when there are four people playing."
"Yeah, I'll be there in a few, I just want to do something," he responded before lifting the window and opening the back door to the kitchen. He closed it behind himself before rushing up the stairs. He passed by Ginny's room and paused in the door way to see her throwing clothes into a pile as she pulled them from underneath her bed. "Having fun?" He asked with a laugh.
"I'd have more fun if you'd help me," she responded as she backed up and placed her hands on her hips. George looked around, pulled out his wand, and muttered a levitating spell. He directed the pile of clothes over to the basket that was in the corner of her room. He then put a spell on that and made the basket soar out of the room and down to the area where the clothes are washed. He flicked his wand once more and everything in the room that was messy was put back into place. The entire room was back in order. "Thanks George, I owe you one," she said as she hugged him.
He stiffened when her arms wrapped around him. 'She can probably feel my fat spilling over the top of my pants.' He couldn't stop the thought from coming into his head but he pushed it away when he hugged her back. "I'll keep you on that offer," he said as he ruffled her hair. "Hurry up outside. I'll be out there in a few minutes."
Ginny rushed out of her room, her red hair flying behind her like a trail of fire. George watched her go before continuing up to his room. He closed the door behind himself and flicked his wand as he fell onto his bed. He caught his diary which flew towards him and opened it. He sighed heavily when he looked at the entries that he put in during the school year.
October 31 st
Halloween is finally here! I love Halloween at Hogwarts. Fred and I can get away with any trick that we wanted. The other students would blame it on Peeves. Halloween is my Christmas. Fred and I are thinking of a big trick to play on Professor Flitwick but we need a lot of supplies to get it done. I was going to play a trick on Ron since he's so afraid of spiders but Fred beat me to it. He had a better idea too, he turned Ron's pillow into a spider in the middle of his sleep. You should have heard his screams! Sometimes I wonder how Fred comes up with these awesome tricks but he does so badly in some of our classes. Well, we always believed that our lives would be lived better outside of academic achievement. I can't wait until I get out of Hogwarts one day. But I'm also scared at the same time. I don't want to leave Fred but I know eventually I'll have to. I hope that time doesn't come too soon. He's my best friend.
George flipped a couple of pages before looking at another entry that was written in somewhat poor handwriting. Only because he was rushing to write it.
January 17 th
Fred has been spending a lot of time with Angelina. He really likes her but he won't admit it. He's too afraid even tell me. The only way I know is because I've been following him around, trying to figure out why he's been blowing me off lately. It really hurts to know that Fred would rather be with Angelina than me. Well, we are around each other a lot more than other siblings are. And we do have to spend some time separated. But when Fred blows me off just to go hang out with one of my friends it gets me thinking.
Is there something wrong with me?
He flipped some more pages and got to an entry that was written in red ink.
March 12 th
I never realizes it until now but Fred seems to be the controlling one out of us. Don't get me wrong, sometimes he is smarter than me in some fields but I would like to get my opinion across too. It bothers me when he doesn't listen to what I have to say. Usually they stop us from getting in trouble or from being blown up. He just doesn't listen sometimes. I guess it's my own fault for not sticking up for myself. I asked Alicia and Katie how they would describe Fred and me. They said Fred's the loud one, always charging into action. They said I'm the quiet one and I always think things through. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Fred lets me take charge in what we're doing sometimes but most times I think he doesn't let me because I usually have second thoughts when we do it. I never realized how different Fred and I actually are. Maybe it's a good thing we're not the same or else we'd be lumped together for the rest of our lives. Not that it's a bad thing, but sometimes I'd like to do things on my own.
Is it so bad to want to be by myself and be my own person?
Sighing, George pulled an ink bottle down onto his bed as he picked up a quill. He dipped it in the ink before writing.
June 4 th
It's the first week of summer and I finally found the once HUGE difference between Fred and I. After long years of searching I have come to a conclusion. I'm fatter than Fred is. This is the only time I don't want to be different from him. I don't know how this happened, maybe it's from all of the candy that I ate every year for Halloween. They finally took their toll. I have to take the weight off somehow. I heard about how some Muggles lose weight by lowering their food intake. That seems to help, maybe I can try that.
George closed his diary and picked up his wand to move it back to where he hid it. Not even Fred knew where it was. George quickly grabbed it and stuffed it under his pillow when Fred burst into the room. That was the only thing that got on George's nerves the most about him, he never knocked. He just bared right in. It was his room too so George never complained about it as much, but he hated it when Fred came in when he was changing.
"C'mon Georgie, we're waiting for you," Fred said. "So get your lazy arse out of bed. Mum and Dad are in their room so we can get away with it this time. They're busy with something. And it's not that kind of something."
"All right," George said as he moved his ink bottle to the nightstand to his right before getting off of his bed.
"Are you ok?" Fred asked in concern. "You don't seem…excited. And this is your favorite game?"
"I'm still a bit tired, that's all," George responded.
Chapter 3: My Protector, Always...
"Aww, George, I'm sorry," Fred apologized as the two burst into their bedroom. George was holding his head as Fred, holding onto his arm, guided him over to his bed. He sat George down and tried to get him to move his hand but George held it in the same spot. "George, I can't heal you if you won't move your hand," he said patiently as I pulled his wand out of his pocket.
"I can do it myself," George said hastily as he tried to push Fred away.
"Let me, I all ready have my wand out," Fred said as he pushed George's hand away. He winced a little when he saw the bleeding gash that was on George's forehead. It started at his hair line and moved down to his right eyebrow.
"Do you want to kill me with that too? Or did the branch do enough damage?" George asked bitterly as he wiped the blood off of his forehead but it started to bleed once more. He growled in frustration as he continued to wipe the blood. With his free hand, Fred grasped the hand that George was using to stop the bleeding.
"Episkey," Fred muttered as he lightly pressed his wand against George's gash. George sucked in a breath of air when the wand tip pressed against his gash, causing pain to shoot through his head. He let go of his breath when the gash healed itself and the blood rested on his skin. "Scourgify." The blood on George's forehead disappeared as Fred removed his wand. "There you go, mate. You're all better."
"That's the last time I play that game with you. It's always me who ends up getting hurt."
"You don't mean that," Fred said with a laugh. "You can take much worse things than a game of Extreme Exploding Snap. I mean, you take on bludgers at every Quidditch game and we take on Snape, who is pretty scary in his own way."
George stayed silent as he glared at the wall; the poster of The April Fool moved above him, silently laughing about a paint-bomb exploding in a victim's face. It only cheered George up a little bit. George heard his mattress groan as Fred lay down on the bed next to him. George rolled over so he was looking right into Fred's brown eyes.
"George, what's been bothering you lately?" Fred asked as he squinted at his twin. "You're more irritable. You're acting like a girl. Not that they're bad, but their mood swings are dangerous things."
"Nothing," George said as he shook his head. "I'm just...stressed. Thinking of new inventions and such, no big deal. I'm fine."
Fred sighed before he responded, "I wish you would stop lying to me, George." He let the sentence hang in the air before rolling off the bed and getting to his feet. He crossed the room, opened the door, and all but slammed it shut behind him. George let out his breath and lifted his eyes so he was looking at a picture that was sitting on his dresser. It was of Fred and him when they were younger and they went to their first Qudditch World Cup. The two were sitting on the bottom bunk of their bunk bed. The picture started to move and it showed them throwing dungbombs at Percy when he wasn't paying attention. He was dragged along and was determined to not have any fun and the twins wanted to make their stay more enjoyable.
That same day they went off to explore the woods. George got attacked by an unknown creature and Fred fended it off by throwing rocks at it. Like always, Fred has to protect me. I guess I'm the weakest Weasley. Even Ginny is better at magic than me. Where do I fit?
Chapter 4: Relocation...
"Ok, I think this one will work," Fred announced as he held up what looked like a worm.
"Why don't you test it?" George mumbled from his bed as he held his stomach. The twins were trying to create their own candy that they thought of selling to students. The candy was designed to make the buyer sick if they chewed one end, that way they could get out of class. If the buyer chewed the other than they would suddenly feel better than before. Fred has created several different types of candy and each one he had made George test, causing different effects. One piece of candy even caused George to hiccup foam. George hiccuped so much that it must have seeped underneath the door and onto the stairwell because their mother burst in, almost catching them. Fred managed to make the foam disappear before she came in.
"If I test it on myself I might end up like you are right now," Fred responded with massive amounts of 'duh' oozing from his words.
"It's nice to know you care," George snapped as he continued to hold his stomach and stare up at the ceiling. He shifted his attention when what looked like a piece of a candy bar floated into his view. He glanced over at Fred with an accusatory look on his face.
"It's safe," Fred told him.
"The word safe coming out of your mouth makes me scared," George mumbled although he smiled a bit.
Fred rolled his eyes. "Will you just eat it? It'll make your stomach ache go away, I promise." Fred placed his hand over his heart and George knew that he was telling the truth, which was actually hard to believe because Fred took to spinning tales instead of telling the truth any day. He grabbed the candy out of the air and stuffed it into his mouth. He could tell that Fred was watching him chew. George swallowed and waited for a couple of seconds. Suddenly, the ache in his stomach dissapeared. George sat up, smiling at Fred. "Told you so." Suddenly, pounding footsteps reached their ears and they quickly waved their wands to put everything away. Right as the last thing settled into place Molly burst into their room.
"Hey! Have you ever heard of the word 'privacy'?" Fred asked.
"We don't go bursting into yours and dad's room," George added. Then he shuddered."I don't even want to know what goes on in there."
"We don't have time for this boys," Molly said as she waved her wand. Trunks appeared out of nowhere and their clothes came zooming out of their closets. Fred ducked when a book when flying past his head.
"What's going on, Mum?" George asked, just then noticing the scared look that was on her face. Fred noticed it too and the smile dropped from his face so their faces were identical and laced with concern.
"Pack you things. And meet us downstairs and don't delay," was all she said before she scurried out of the room. Once the door closed Fred went back to his desk.
"Fred!" George cried out.
"What?" Fred asked in annoyance.
"You heard Mum."
"How can I not? She's always yelling at me, even when I don't do anything wrong."
"She said to pack up and meet downstairs," George told him.
"I said I heard her, Georgie."
"So? Aren't you going to do what she said?"
"When have I ever done what Mum said?" Fred asked as he turned in his chair to face George, with a raised eyebrow.
"True," George admitted. "But I think Mum meant it this time."
"When hasn't she-"
"Ok, ok!" Fred put his hands up in surrender. "I admit, Mum was kind of off." He waved his wand and everything went into his trunk in perfect order. He waved his wand again and the two trunks were lifted into the air and zoomed out of the room. The twins followed the trunks all the way down into the kitchen where the rest of the family was gathered. Ron and Ginny looked confused and concerend at the same time as their parents rushed around the kitchen. "Mum, what's going on?"
"We have to leave for a little bit," Molly responded as Arthur went out the door, the trunks following him to the car.
"Why?" Ginny asked. "What's wrong with the Burrow?"
"Nothing, dear. We just have to leave."
"Where are we going?" Ron asked once Arthur came back in and ushered them outside.
"No time for questions, just get in the car," Arthur said before getting into the drivers seat. Fred, George, Ginny, and Ron all sat in the back as Molly joined Arthur in the front. Before they knew it they were flying high above the clouds. Fred, Ginny, and Ron eventually fell asleep while George stayed awake, looking out the window. He felt Fred's head rest on his shoulder before feeling his slow breathing on his neck. George smiled a little as he looked at the peaceful look on his brother's face.
Chapter 5: Our New Home...
George shifted slightly when a bump caused him to come back to consciousness. He blinked his eyes and yawned as he lifted a hand to rub his face. He felt a weight on his shoulder and looked down to see Fred still sleeping. George smiled as he watched his brother sleep. He had an innocent look on his face which would take away any thought that he was a mischievous young man if anyone looked at him.
A stray strand of hair fell into Fred's face. In his sleep he wrinkled his nose when his hair tickled it. George laughed a little before lightly brushing the strand out of Fred's face and Fred instantly relaxed again.
"George?" He looked to the front of the car and saw that Molly was looking at him. She had turned around in her seat and her reddish hair was unkempt. "We're here; could you wake everyone else up so we can get in as soon as possible?"
"Sure Mum," George said as he yawned again before poking his brother in the cheek. Fred's face scrunched up as George laughed a little. "Wake up, Freddy."
"Not now, Mum," Fred moaned as he swatted George's hand away from his face.
"C'mon Fred," George said as he shook Fred until he forced open his eyes. "We're here. Wake Ginny, Ron, and Hermione."
They had stopped over in a random town to pick up Hermione. She, like the rest of them, also didn't know why they had to be relocated. She asked many questions but Molly and Arthur wouldn't supply an answer to them. Eventually she gave up and read the Daily Prophet before she, too, eventually fell asleep.
"Fiiiiiine," he said as he heaved a huge sigh. George lifted his arms above his head and stretched them as he yawned again. He flinched when he felt a finger poke him in the ribs. He quickly lowered his arms and looked at Fred who was grinning evilly. He knew that tickling and/or poking me in the ribs was my weak spot.
George opened the door and got out, almost falling over in the process because his legs got numb. He could hear Fred's laughter from the other side of the car get closer before he was yanked to his feet.
"Do you want me to hold your hand? It's dangerous to step out of a car," he said in a mocking tone. George made a face and he pulled his arm out of his twin's grasp. "Georgie, I'm just kidding."
"I'm not in the mood," George muttered.
"What's your problem?"
"Look," George hissed as he yanked Fred closer so only he could hear George. "Something bad is going on; why else do you think we had to leave home? It won't do you any good to get on Mum's bad side."
Fred just shook his head a little bit before going to the back of the car and grabbed his trunk. George let out a breath before turning around and looking at what was to be our new home. It looked like the other building next to it but...older. 'I don't remember seeing it there when I woke Fred up.' George glanced around and saw that he had stopped in front of Number 12 Grimmauld place. He has never heard of it before but he was sure his Mum and Dad had, seeing as they were there and they got there without trouble.
George followed his family across the street and onto the sidewalk. George noticed that the sidewalk led to a worn set of front steps. The front steps led to a battered front door. On the door was a silver knocker in the shape of a twisted serpent, with no keyholes, handles, or anything else that would indicate it to be a door.
"This is weird," Ron muttered to Ginny who nodded in agreement. They blinked and the next thing they knew they were being ushered into the very dirty house. They stepped into a long hallway, lit with gas lamps and a large overhead chandelier. The house was gloomy and cobwebby, with the wallpaper peeling off and the carpet worn thin. George made a face at the state of the place but Fred had an amazed look on his.
"Molly, Arthur, I was afraid you wouldn't make it."
Fred and George both jumped at the sudden intrusion. They whirled around to see the familiar shaggy haired man, Sirius Black. They, Ginny, and Ron exchanged beyond confused glances as Molly and Arthur went over to him, whispering quietly.
"How much do you want to bet that there are spiders here?" Fred asked with an evil grin. He made sure his voice was loud enough so Ron could hear him.
"Judging by all of the spider webs? I don't want to place a bet that I'm going to lose," George responded, an identically evil grin was on his face before the two turned to look at Ron. He was pretending to have not had paid attention but they could tell by how his bottom lip was trembling that he was terrified, which was the reaction that they wanted.
"You are childish, the both of you," Hermione said as she shook her head and glared at the twins.
"Childish? Us?" Fred asked in mock innocence. "Why, Hermione, we are appalled that you would say such a thing."
Hermione lifted an eyebrow as she crossed her arms over her chest.
"Oy, stop looking at us like that," George told her.
"Yes, it is starting to make us feel...what's the word?' Fred asked.
"Guilty?" George supplied.
"No!" Fred gasped as he covered his mouth with his hands. He caught the look in George's eye before the two started laughing. Hermione let out a breath and rolled her eyes as Molly and Arthur came back to them.
"Kids, your rooms are upstairs," she said as she ushered them towards the stairs. "Fred and George in one, Ginny and Hermione in another."
"Wait, why does Ron get a room to himself?" Fred asked, stopping with one foot on the stair.
"Because she can tolerate me," Ron muttered under his breath.
"Did you say something?" Fred asked as he advanced towards Ron, his wand raised. Ron didn't say anything; he just kept his eyes on the wand as Fred glared down at him. "Didn't think so."
"Fred, not now. Please, just do as I say," Molly said with a sigh. "And be careful going up the stairs."
"Oh, we can be careful," Fred said as he nudged George. The two grabbed their trunks and smiled before they disappeared with a loud crack causing everyone else to jump. A second later the two were standing in a room that was about the size of their old one, just grayer, dustier, and drearier.
"This is just sad," Fred said as he looked around the room. "Anyway, do you want to try and find out what Mum and Dad are talking about?"
"How're we going to do that?" George asked in confusion.
"In our rush to leave I managed to grab some of our Extendable Ears," He announced as he pulled them out of his pocket. "We could only test it once, but I'm sure they'll work here."
"You go ahead, I want to ask Hermione something," George responded. Fred gave him an incredulous look. "I didn't say I didn't want to do it," George quickly told him.
"Ok, fine," Fred said before leaving the room. George let out a breath and listened to Ginny and Ron arguing about Ron moving too slow up the stairs. He waited until all was quiet before he left his room. He walked around, looking in different rooms before he finally found Ginny and Hermione unpacking their things.
"Hey Gin, can you leave for a moment. I need to ask Hermione something," George told her as he stood in the doorway. Ginny and Hermione exchanged a look before Ginny stood.
"I'll go see what Fred's doing," she announced before leaving the room completely. George watched her leave the room before looking over at Hermione who was waiting patiently. "I'm sure you brought some of your...non-magic folk type books with you," George started.
"Yes, I did," Hermione confirmed.
"Well you see," George paused. "Dad wants to borrow one of those books that hold a lot of information. I think it starts with an 'E'. It's Encycle something." He bit his tongue, a punishment for lying. He knew not to lie to Hermione, she would eventually find out the truth but he didn't want her to know the truth about his curiosity.
"Encyclopedia," Hermione told him before going over to her trunk. "Which volume do you want?"
"Er...the first one?" His statement came out more like a question. She handed the book over and he was about to grab it when she pulled it out of his reach.
"I expect it back in the same condition," she said in a warning tone. George knew better than to test her anger so he quickly nodded, thanked her, and went back to his room, book in hand.
Chapter 6: Changes...
'I know I read about it somewhere...' George thought as he frantically flipped the pages of the Encyclopedia at a fast pace. He quickly pulled his hand away when he felt a sharp pain on his finger. He frowned when he saw the paper cut he received. He picked up his wand and muttered a simple healing spell before he continued flipping. 'It started with an A I think.'
He trailed his finger down the rows of words as he tried to find the word he was looking for. He could hear his family laughing about something, which George found strange. Being in this new place he didn't think that they would be able to find something to do.
'Who'm I kidding; I don't even know what I'm looking for.' He closed the book with a heavy sigh and tossed it onto the end of his bed. He leaned backwards so his head was resting on his pillow as he stared up at the ceiling. 'I wonder why we left home in the first place.'
George pulled one of his favorite books out of his bag and started reading, trying to ignore the shrieks and screams coming from his brother and sister. Eventually he fell asleep and found himself dreaming of being ignored by all of his friends and his family. It was more of a nightmare to him. He knew that he and Fred were different; Fred was more outgoing than he was, but it was always his worst nightmare to be forgotten by everyone he cared about.
He didn't know how long he had stayed up there but the next thing he knew he was being shaken awake by Fred, who was grinning from ear to ear about something. George didn't want to know so he kept his mouth shut as he sat up and stretched.
"C'mon fatty, Mum's waiting," Fred said as he poked George in the stomach, causing George to quickly pull his arms back down as he grasped his midsection. Fred knew that George was ticklish and he used that to his advantage, especially when they were wrestling.
As George followed Fred down the stairs he could help but notice how soft his midsection had become. Playing Quidditch all those years helped keep him in shape and he usually stayed in shape while he waited for the next school year. 'How could Fred notice it? He never commented on it before. That's it; I'm going to get back into shape no matter what I have to do to get there.'
Fred and George walked into the kitchen only to stop when they saw that the Weasley family wasn't alone. Besides Hermione and Sirius, Remus Lupin sat at the table along with Mad-Eye Moody, Shacklebolt, Bill, Charlie, and a woman who had shoulder length bubblegum pink hair.
"This is Nymphadora Tonks," Ginny told her brothers as they sat down at the table, across from her. "She's a metamorphmagus."
"Ahhh," George and Fred muttered in unison as they looked around the room. They were happy to see that their older brothers were there but they didn't understand why some of their teachers were there with them and why they were there in the first place,
Fred made it obvious that he wanted to know what was going on because he bluntly asked Sirius and Remus why they were there but they continued to change the subject. After a while Fred turned his attention to scold Tonks who was imitating him and who had changed her hair color and facial features to resemble one of them.
George wanted to laugh but it was caught in his throat for some reason. He stayed quiet but listened as Tonks told Ginny about how she got away with things when she was younger because of her power. After eating two plates of food George felt full and could feel his stomach pressing against the waist line of his pants.
He excused himself from the table and walked out of the room. Once he was out of the kitchen he ran up the stairs, searching for the bathroom. Once he found it he closed the door and locked it behind himself. Surprisingly it was the only clean room in the house. George pulled his shirt off over his head and grimaced at his reflection. He turned to the side and stared at his stomach, where a bulge had formed from eating so much.
He stared at the toilet as his stomach made a squelching sound. He made a face and ran a hand over his stomach as he weighed the pros and cons in his mind. He could hear Fred laughing about something downstairs and that's what fueled him to continue.
He lifted the lid of the toilet and checked to make sure the door was locked. He got down on his knees and stared at his reflection in the water. He took a couple of deep breaths to calm himself down before he took the plunge.
He took another deep breath and slowly lifted his hand to his open mouth. The water in the toilet reflected the fear in his eyes and made it seem more real to him. He knew what he was doing was wrong, but he felt that he had no other choice. He had to get the food out somehow, he couldn't risk getting any bigger. He tried hitting himself in the stomach but that only gave himself a stomach ache. He tried as many spells as he could think of but nothing worked. And then it hit him. He could use the 'snack's that he and Fred were creating.
He dug in his pocket hoping that he had one and pulled it out. He was about to take a bite of one end but hesitated. He didn't remember the color codes for them, Fred knew them. He could end up with a bloody nose instead...
Taking his chances he bit the end and chewed slowly, making sure to keep listening to footsteps. Suddenly his stomach lurched, he felt acid burn his throat, and his food was floating in the toilet bowl. He continued to bring up the food until his stomach was empty and he brought up stomach acid instead. In between each hurl he tried to lift the other end of the candy to his mouth but he couldn't get it there. He started to panic. Was it possible to puke yourself to death?
Tears fell down George's face as his throat stung from the acid. Finally he managed to force the other end into his mouth. He made a face at the sweet taste mixed with the few chunks of food left in his mouth. He immediately felt better once the 'snack' went down. 'Note to self: don't do that again.'
Chapter 7: Another Part of Me...
"Georgie," Fred called as he placed a hand on his brother's shoulder and shook him. George stirred before rolling over and pulling his covers over his head. Fred continued to shake George as he groaned in protest. "Georgie, wake up already."
"What is it, Fred?" George asked sleepily as he sat up and looked at his twin from half-lidded eyes.
"Wow," Fred said as he backed away and waved his hand in front of his face. "I knew Dad's cooking was hard to handle sometimes but your breath reeks."
"If that's all you wanted to say..." George's voice trailed off before he flopped back down onto his bed and buried his face into his pillow.
"What's wrong?" Fred asked as he sat on the end of George's bed. He stared at the lump that was his brother, waiting for a response with a concerned look on his face. Usually he had a good feeling about what was going on in George's head, like he could read his mind, but now it was like George was a different person to him. He didn't want to do anything that he enjoyed before and it was really starting to worry him.
"Nothing," George's muffled voice finally replied.
"Something is wrong, you can't lie to me," Fred said as he moved forward and leaned over where he thought George's head was. "George, come on, tell me what's bothering you. I know something is bothering you, I can feel it." He balanced himself on one hand and pulled the covers down with the other. Light brown eyes locked as they stared at each other in a silent game to see who would back down first.
George was the one to lose because he tore his gaze away from his brother's to hit him with a pillow, knocking his arm from underneath him, causing him to fall onto George. He grunted in pain and tried to get Fred off of him but he didn't budge. "Get offa me," he snapped.
"Not until you tell me what's wrong," Fred responded as he flicked George on the nose. He knew George wouldn't be able to do anything because his arms were pinned by Fred's weight. George struggled to get out from underneath him but let out a breath of frustration.
"I hate not knowing," George told him as he tilted his head so he wouldn't have to deal with Fred's intense gaze. "About why we're here and why Lupin is here and what they're doing. Every time they get ready to say something we're kicked out of the room. I mean, we're of age right? We should be able to hear what they have to say."
"I've been feeling the same way, buddy," Fred said with a nod when George looked at him. "Which is why I knew bringing the Extendable Ears would be a good idea. I used it while you were sleeping to try and hear something but Mum closed the door when she heard me coming down the stairs. I tried to get the ear closer but Crookshanks started to attack it." He pulled the mangled ear out of his pocket and held it in front of George's face. "That bloody cat."
George couldn't help but laugh as he covered his mouth with his hands. Fred wasn't a big cat fan and he never liked Crookshanks in the first place. While they were at Hogwarts he even got into a competition of sorts with Crookshanks. He claimed that the cat was out to get him. Whenever Hermione was out of the common room he tried to get rid of him but somehow the cat seemed to be able to outsmart him, which made Fred hate it even more.
"You brought more, right?" Fred continued as he rolled onto his side so he was looking at George as he propped his head up on his palm. "I have to find out what's going on."
"Good luck with that," George muttered as he got ready to go back to sleep. His eyes shot open when he felt Fred prodding him in the stomach. "What are you doing?" George demanded as he squirmed away from Fred.
"I've noticed that you're beginning to get soft around the middle. You really need more Quidditch practices," he responded. George let the words sink in before he pressed his foot against Fred's stomach and kicked him off of the bed. He fell to the floor with a loud thump as George pulled his covers over his head once more.
"Have you gone mental?" Fred demanded as he got to his knees as he rubbed his side. "That hurt, if you care."
"I don't!" George's muffled voice responded. "Good night."
"Sheesh, someone has mood swings," Fred muttered under his breath as George heard him moving over to his own bed.
George covered his head with his pillow and bit his lip as he used his free hand to poke himself in the stomach. 'How could Fred tell that easily? He's made jokes about it before but he's never actually said anything about it. Why would he say something like that? Ever since we left home all he's done is make fun of me. Why?'
"Are you crying?" Fred's voice suddenly asked, next to his ear. George jumped and, in the process, accidentally smacked Fred in the face.
"Sorry," George apologized as Fred grabbed his nose.
"Don't apologize, I'm the one who upset you," Fred said as he lowered his hands. "I was just kidding around. I'm just really bored here, there's nothing to do, especially since Mum watches us like hawk. You're not fat, really you're not. I just had to poke fun at something or else I would've gone insane from not being able to have any fun. And you are right here..."
"Is that supposed to make me feel better?" George asked as he raised an eyebrow.
"Well, it makes me feel better," Fred admitted. "You've been off lately and I know it has nothing to do with our new living arrangements."
"I keep having these dreams," George admitted after a few minutes of silence.
"About what?" Fred asked, suddenly full of curiosity.
"About us," George responded. "At school. The only thing that's different ism in my dream, it's like I don't exist. No one talks to me; no one spends time with me, nothing. It's like...you're the only Weasley around. Even Ron gave you the time of day. The only time someone talked to me was if they ran into me and they blamed me, or they were saying something along the lines of me being a waste of space and that they wish it was only you around."
He hadn't realized that he started crying until Fred wiped the tears off of George's face. "George, they're just dreams. And you know I wouldn't let anyone treat you like that, we're a team and we always will be. You're not just my brother, you're my twin, and you're another part of me. Wherever I go I always want you to be there right by my side. And they're just dreams, unless you have the power to have premonitions or something it won't come true." George sighed with relief at his words. "But that would be really cool. You could go into a fortune telling business or something."
"Nah, that's not exactly for me," George responded. "Besides, we have to focus on our Joke Shop."
"Exactly!" Fred said as he snapped his fingers.
"How're the Skiving Snack Boxes coming along by the way? I assume that you've been working on them today," George commented, suddenly wide awake and ignoring the sudden lurch in his stomach at the memory of eating one. He couldn't stop the smile that graced his lips as Fred enthusiastically started thinking about what they could put in it to get some of the snacks to work. George suddenly noticed the way Fred's eyes lit up whenever they talked about running a joke shop, which was their dream that they were steadily fulfilling. George couldn't see himself running it without Fred by his side and, at that moment, he was glad that he was a twin because he could trust Fred with anything.
'Well...maybe not anything,' George thought solemnly.
Chapter 8: Fred vs Crookshanks...
"Why do you think Mum won't let us know what's going on down there?" Fred asked the next day. He was absentmindedly running his fingers through his hair and making it stick up in random ways. George shrugged from across the room as he returned his attention to the drawing that was in his hands, his quill moving over the paper at a high speed. He scrunched up his face before ripping off the piece of paper and crumpling it up in his hand. The enchanted quill started making another picture before his eyes.
"Do you hear that?" George asked suddenly, his hand was raised in mid crumple.
"Hear what?" Fred asked as he turned his head to look at George. George held up a finger and listened intently. A slow smile came to Fred's face when he heard the yelling coming from the room below them. "Want to take a look?"
"Let's go." George moved over to Fred's bed before they closed their eyes and disappeared with a loud crack before reappearing next to Harry, who looked startled. "Hello, Harry," said George, beaming at him. "We thought we heard your dulcet tones."
"You don't want to bottle up your anger like that, Harry, let it all out," said Fred, also beaming.
"If you're all done shouting..." George started.
"Do you wanna hear something a little more interesting?" Fred finished. Hermione, Ron, and Harry nodded eagerly before Fred and George lead them out of the room. Fred quickly went up to his room before coming back with a skin colored string with an ear attached to the end.
Fred slowly lowered it down below them as George held the other ear so they could listen to what was going on. George's eyebrows knitted together when he recognized the angry voices of Molly and Sirius. He has never heard those two arguing before.
"...if it wasn't for Harry we wouldn't even know Voldemort was back! He isn't a child, Molly!" They could hear Sirius tell her in a tight voice.
"...Well he's not an adult either! He's not James, Sirius."
George lifts his eyes when she sees Ginny approach. He tried to hide his knowing smile when Ginny mouthed 'hi' to Harry.
"Well he isn't your son!" Sirius shot back.
"He's as good as! Who else has he got?" Molly questioned.
"He's got me!" He responded.
"How touchingly paternal, Black. Perhaps Potter will grow up to be a felon, just like his Godfather," Snape's voice floated to the ear.
"You stay out of this, Snivellus-" Sirius growled.
Fred suddenly felt a tug on the end of the Extendable Ear. He leaned forward slightly to see Crookshanks staring at the ear, his golden eyes locked on the ear as he licked his lips. Before Fred could do anything Crookshanks dove for the ear.
"Get off it!" Fred hissed.
"Crookshanks, no!" Hermione whispered from the top of the stairs. "Get off!"
"Get off you stupid cat!"
The ear dropped off the string and Crookshanks grabbed it between his jaws before running out of the stairwell.
"Hermione, I hate your stupid cat," Fred muttered as he pulled the string up and stared at her, accusing her for what the cat did. Hermione gave them an apologetic look before Harry, Ron, and Hermione went back to Harry's and Ron's room. Ginny went down the hallway to her room and Fred and George disapparated back to their room. "What a bust. If that fuzzball hadn't gotten in the way..."
"Who knows what we would have been able to find out," George said wistfully as he leaned back so he was placing his weight on his arms. "Is this why we had to leave home?" He asked suddenly.
"Hmmm?" Fred asked in a distracted tone as he looked at the flesh colored string that was in his hands.
"Is this why we had to leave home?" George repeated. "Because of whatever Mum was arguing about with Sirius? I bet it is. That has to be why Lupin and Tonks and Mad-Eye are here. Maybe Bill and Charlie know, do you think we should ask them?"
"What?" Fred asked as he looked up at George and gave him a look as if he had just entered the room.
"You weren't listening to me," George said with a sigh. "Get over it, Fred, we can make another ear," he said when he noticed the string that was clenched tightly in Fred's shaking fist.
"It's not about the ear, little brother," Fred said as his hand shook a little more violently. "It's the fact that I spent months on this! Months! And that bloody cat destroyed it in less than five seconds! I will get my revenge on Crookshanks. I don't know when, and I don't know how, but I will get my revenge on that cat!"
George slowly shook his head at his twin's crazed state. "You are off your rocker."
"Supper's ready, kids!" They heard their mother shout up the stairs.
George stood to leave the room but Fred stopped him by throwing his wand at the back of his head. It hit the ground and clattered against the wooden floorboards. "Did you forget that we can use magic now?" Fred asked as he spun his wand around in his fingers. George smiled a little before the two disappeared with a crack before reappearing down stairs next to their mother, successfully startling her.
"Oh! Just because you can use magic doesn't mean you can whip your wands out for everything!" Molly scolded as Fred and George moved out of her way to make sure they didn't get slapped on the arms. They grinned at each other before taking their seats at the table across from Ginny and Tonks. Tonks had changed her hair color so instead of it being bubblegum pink it was Weasley family red. Tonks could easily be mistaken for Ginny's older sister.
"So...were you born like that or did you obtain that power?" George asked.
"A Metamorphamagus means that I was born with the power, so I can change my appearance anytime I want. You could always take a Polyjuice Potion to change you appearance, seeing as it is the only other way, but it takes some time to make and it doesn't taste very good."
George nodded and glanced over at Fred who had his hands folded and he was resting his chin on his hands. George looked in the direction that Fred was glaring and sighed when he saw that he had locked eyes with Crookshanks.
"Leave it alone," George whispered.
"I can't, Georgie," Fred responded. "That fuzzball is going to learn not to eat other's inventions, inventions that could change the world as we know it."
George sighed and remained silent as he began eating dinner, making a face at the lurch in his stomach. It was cut short when silence fell across the table when Harry spoke up about what they had heard. Fred and George sunk in their seats a little when they saw their mother's eyes flicker their way.
"What makes her think we had something to do with this?" Fred whispered as he barely moved his lips.
"The fact that it's something we'd do and it's Mum," George responded as he, too, barley moved his lips. Sirius had started to explain things to Harry when their mother stepped in, claiming that Harry was too young. George and Fred loudly protested about wanting to hear what happened, since they were of age, but their mother shooed them all out of the room.
"Harry, you had better get some sleep if you want to be well rested for your hearing," Hermione suddenly spoke up as the group started up the stairs. Fred and George whirled around so fast she was surprised that they didn't fall back down the stairs.
"Hearing?" They repeated. "What did you do?" They asked with huge smiles on their faces.
Harry then told them the whole story about how Dementors attacked him and his cousin in his neighborhood and now he has to go to a hearing to see if his wand would be taken away from him. Fred, George, and Ron seemed to find the fact that Harry could get his wand taken away really exciting and Hermione, like usual, scolded them for it.
Fred was about to respond that she should keep her nose out of other people's business when Crookshanks went tearing up the stairs past him. "Oh no you don't, you bloody cat!" he shouted before chasing after it. George let out a groan before slowly starting up the stairs after him as he held his stomach.
'Should I do it again?' He asked himself. 'I'm sure no one would be able to hear me with Fred banging around up there. But they could always come right in if they happened to hear something. Oh man, I knew I shouldn't have eaten dinner, but it was too good. Mum just has to be a good cook. I need to get rid of this food.' George flinched when he heard a crash.
George ran up the rest of the stairs before swinging into his room to see feathers floating everywhere, as if it were snow. His eyes were wide as he looked around the room to spot his brother. Crookshanks was sitting on a stack of books that was on George's side of the room. "Fred?" George called.
A large pile of clothes moved before Fred's red head was seen sticking out of it. George smiled as Fred spat feathers off of his tongue. "I don't want to hear a peep out of you!" Fred snapped as he shook his head.
"Ok," George responded before closing the door, leaned against it, and burst out laughing. He stopped a couple of seconds later and went back into the room. He waved his wand and muttered "Scourgify" before the room became clean, revealing Fred to by lying down in a crooked heap.
"I'm going to get that cat," Fred growled as Crookshanks ran out of the room. "You mark my words, I will get it."
"Right," George said with an eye roll.
Chapter 9: Awkward Bonding...
George's throat muscles convulsed as he felt his previously eaten food come back up into the toilet. He squeezed his eyes shut as his throat burned from the stomach acid that came up along with his food. Once again he struggled to get the other end of the 'snack' into his mouth but he fared better this time than before. Once it was all up he couched and wiped spit away from his mouth, turning his face away from the toilet so he could take his nose away from the foul smell.
He slowly took in deep breaths to calm his racing heart, pausing briefly to wipe away the tears from his eyes. He hated how his throat burned, he hated how his eyes watered, and he hated how it seemed like he was getting bigger than smaller. He didn't understand why nothing was working. George's head shot up when there was a sharp knocking on the door.
"George?" Molly called through the bathroom door. "George, are you ok in there?"
"Um...yeah Mum," George called back as he tried to get to his feet. He still felt shaky so he had to grab onto the counter of the sink, only to pull his hands back in disgust when a thin grimy like substance covered his fingers. "I'm fine." He looked at his hands and made a face before frantically wiping his hands on his shirt. He then made a face and pulled his wand out of his pocket, waving it as he muttered, "Scourgify." Seconds later his hands were clean.
He pulled open the bathroom door so quickly Molly jumped in fright. She let a small smile come onto her face as George looked at her. "Are you sure you're all right? You've been in there for quite a while."
"It's the only place I can go to think without having my own face in my face," George replied slowly, making up an excuse as he spoke to her. Molly smiled before pulling him into a hug, which made him blush, partly because he wasn't the touchy-feely type person and partly because he wasn't used to it, despite her hugging him a lot when they grew up. "Umm, Mum, you can let go now," George muttered after a few seconds.
Molly let go and smiled at him before continuing down the hallway. George watched her walking briskly down the hall, probably to check on Ginny. He went back to his room to see Fred sitting on his bed reading, which surprised him.
"You're reading?" he commented, closing the door behind himself.
Fred lowered the book that was resting on his chest and glared at his twin. "Just because I don't like to pick up a book at school doesn't mean that I don't like to read."
"Don't be so defensive." George crossed the room and flopped onto his bed, letting out a long sigh of frustration. 'I hate being here. I want to go home where we don't have to worry about being confined.'
"What's wrong now, Georgie?" Fred called across the room.
"Nothing, and stop calling me Georgie," George muttered, rolling onto his side so his back was facing Fred. He stared down at his comforter and traced the faded design with his finger. He could feel Fred's eyes burning holes into his back but he ignored it, entertaining himself.
"You didn't care before."
"Well, I care now."
George heard the distinct sound of a book snapping shut and being placed on a table. He suddenly felt his bed sink so he knew that Fred was either sitting on the edge or kneeling on it, but he was still staring at his twin because he could still feel the burning in his back.
"What's wrong with you?" Fred demanded. George shrugged. "Don't shrug at me, I want an answer. You're not acting like yourself. You don't want to help me invent anymore, you don't want to play with us, and you don't want to experiment with the substances we find around this place for our joke stuff. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know something is wrong with you...whatever that is..."
"A rocket scientist is a scientist who studies rockets and aerospace engineering," George rattled off as he turned to face Fred, who had a look of confusion and bewilderment on his face. "I was bored during O.W.L. week and I didn't want to do anything school related so I nicked one of Hermione's books and read it for a while."
"That proves that there's something wrong with you," Fred declared, poking George in the side. "Since when did you like to read Muggle stuff?"
"Since I know everything that I need to know about our world." George shrugged. "Muggle things sound interesting; at least Dad makes it sound interesting. So I decided to take one of Hermione's books and read it." Fred stared at his twin, barley blinking, as if trying to read what was going on in George's mind. He knew that Fred couldn't do it; he never paid attention in their Occumulency classes to be able to see into George's mind. "I'm not dumb," he stated.
"I never said you were! George, talk to me," Fred all but begged. "I hate feeling that you're keeping something from me. We never keep secrets. So why start now?" George bit his tongue. Fred wouldn't understand if I told him what I've been doing to myself. He wouldn't look at me the same way again. He turned his head so he wouldn't have to look into Fred's eyes. He pressed his face into his pillow but he could sense Fred leaning over him. "George? Come on, tell me."
George mumbled something into his pillow, but Fred couldn't understand him. Fred grabbed the pillow and started hitting George with it. Not a playful hit either; he actually used all of his strength to make George hurt a little bit so he knew that he was being serious. "Knock it off!" George shouted, springing up so he could grab the pillow from Fred, but Fred held him at arm's length, continuing to hit him. "What's your problem?"
"You are since you're keeping things from me! Oof!" George knocked Fred off of the bed so he landed on the floor, with George on top of me. "Get off me!" He knocked George away from him and rolled over to get away easier. Before he could even move George had landed on his back, practically knocking the wind out of him. "What have you been eating lately, bricks?"
The pillow was pulled out of Fred's hand and he was pushed onto his back so he was staring up at George's furious face. "What do you want from me?" He hissed. "Do you want to make a comment on how you're a better Beater than me? Why wait for Quidditch season to start to put me down. Go ahead, do it now. Or do you want to comment on my weight some more?"
Fred gazed up at his twin, curiously and in confusion. He has never seen George that angry before. George was a happy-go-lucky type of person; he never let anything bring his mood down. So what changed him? Fred's eyes narrowed as he sucked in his breath. He hated seeing how his brother changed but not noticing it himself. He felt like a bad brother.
"What's going on?" Fred asked quietly, afraid he'd be yelled at.
"I hate this!" George replied, backing off of Fred and sitting down, pulling his knees up to his chest. He lowered his head so his forehead rested on his knees.
"Hate what?" Fred asked, moving closer to George.
"Being here!" George replied, lifting his head. Fred could see a tear forming in the corner of his eye. Fred avoided George's gaze, feeling very awkward to see his brother being so emotional. "I hate it here. I want to go home. I want our old life back but something is telling me that we're not going to get it back, not with You-Know-Who getting stronger."
"How-?" Fred started.
"Don't you read the Daily Prophet anymore?" George asked.
"Yeah, but I stopped when the only thing that came out of their mouths was that Harry's accusations were lies," Fred admitted. George let out a breath of frustration. "We'll be back at school soon," he brought up, trying to cheer his twin up.
"What's the point in going back? It's only going to be the same thing as last year. It's so boring now, nothing ever changes," George muttered and he shrugged. "My heart's just not in it anymore. I think I learned everything I need to know to survive on our own. And our joke shop? With school in the way it'll take longer to get it started."
"Tell that to Mum." Fred sat down next to George and draped an arm around his shoulders. George rested his head on Fred's shoulder, his head fitting perfectly in the crook of Fred's neck. "Going back would be good advertisement," Fred continued. "We only have one year left. Once we're out we can start the shop. We can pass out samples to the other students so we know which ones would be a hit while the others we can...get rid of or sell. Then we can use the proceeds to make newer, better stuff."
George made a sound as if he were considering what Fred was saying. Minutes of silence passed by before George spoke. "I just thought of something...who's going to be our Quidditch captain now?"
"Hmmm...Alicia or Angelina is my guess," Fred replied. "They've been on the team as long as we have, but I'm sure Wood wouldn't want to pass down his captain position to one of us." He laughed. "'Those two would besmirch Gryffindor's name'" Fred joke, imitating Oliver Wood's voice perfectly.
"So...do you still fancy her?" George asked suddenly, catching Fred off guard. George lifted his head slightly so he could look at Fred's face properly. In the process he gently blew on Fred's neck, causing a shiver to run up Fred's spine, but he ignored his reaction.
"Who?" Fred asked. George stared at him. "Angelina?" George nodded. "No," Fred scoffed. "I just asked her to the Yule Ball so I'd have a date."
"Ok, good." George moved away from Fred and stood before walking towards the door.
"Waddya mean, 'good'?" Fred demanded, scrambling to his feet.
"Just good," George replied, fighting the smile that was trying to form on his lips. His first real smile in a long time.
Chapter 10: Nostalgia...
"Well, if you get expelled Harry, you can start our Joke Shop for us," Fred commented as George started laughing. A shadow of a smile crossed Harry's features as he pulled on a coat. The fact that Harry could get expelled for using magic in front of a Muggle for protection amused Fred, especially because he used it in front of Dudley, whom Fred and George tormented once before.
Glancing at George's face, Fred could tell he was thinking about the Ton-Tongue Toffee incident too. Sure, they got into a lot of trouble for it but it was worth it to hear how long his tongue got. They would definitely keep that for their joke shop...or use it on Ron, whichever one came first.
"I'll keep that in mind, Fred," Harry said with a small laugh as he adjusted his shirt.
"Good luck, mate," George said as he slapped Harry on the shoulder. "If you don't come back to Hogwarts, we'll send you a toilet seat."
Harry gave them an odd look and was about to ask about it when Arthur called him from downstairs to go. He gave them a small wave before walking out of the room. They watched him leave before whipping their heads around to Ron who spoke up.
"So, if I did something like that would you trust me to run your Joke Shop for you?" Ron questioned.
"Of course not," Fred replied instantly. "Don't be thick. You don't have the spunk for it."
Ron made a face and rolled his eyes, which Fred and George returned the gesture simultaneously. Fred slapped George's arm and signaled form him to leave the room. George followed obediently, mentally kicking himself as he left the room.
Why do you always follow Fred? Why don't you be the leader for once? He's only older by five minutes, big deal. You can be the leader if you ever speak up!
George shook his head before the twins entered their room. George flopped down on his bed and Fred landed next to him. George has gotten used to Fred's random moments when he'd decide to lay on George's bed, only because it was closer to the door. George watched as Fred let out a breath and draped an arm over his eyes. His other arm was resting lazily on his stomach, slowly moving up and down as he inhaled and exhaled.
"When do you think we're going to leave?" Fred asked suddenly.
"Hard to say. It depends on why we're here in the first place," George responded, keeping his eyes on Fred's face. "It has something to do with the Order, that's for sure."
"I still don't get why we can't be a part of it," Fred muttered bitterly without moving from his position. "We're of age now. We're adults; we should be able to do what we want. Instead, we're stuck living underneath our parents' roof, going by their rules, and having to hide in our rooms like prisoners if we want to do anything with our joke stuff. It's not fair!"
George remained silent. I'll tell you what's not fair! Having to be overshadowed by your twin brother and not being brave enough to speak up about it for the past seventeen years! That's not fair! George screamed in his head but he kept his lips tightly shut.
Fred angrily slammed his arms down on the bed and let out a puff of air, which caused some of his hair to fall into his face. George reached out and gently moved his hair out of the way. Fred's eyes shifted in his direction and George quickly pulled his hand back, suddenly aware of what he just did.
"Sorry," he apologized.
Fred shrugged and rolled onto his stomach so he could see George better. "I envy you sometimes," Fred blurted out.
George's eyebrows knitted together in confusion. "Me? Why?"
"Because you're the sensitive one." The confused look never left George's face so Fred continued. "When people talk to me they automatically think that I'm going to do something for a laugh or as a joke. When people talk to you, it's when they want someone to listen to them. No one takes me seriously, at least as not as seriously as they take you."
Fred started picking at his fingernails as George stared at his face. It never occurred to him that Fred could be jealous of him about something. Fred's jealous about nothing. He has the popularity; he's the first one people turn to when they want to be cheered up. He was the one with the date to the Yule Ball, I couldn't even get Katie or Alicia to go with me, and they're my good friends. He's not fat either. George poked his stomach and winced on the inside when he felt a little bit of his stomach jiggle. He's jealous of nothing.
There was a knock on the door. Fred and George lifted their heads as the door open and Ginny stepped into the room. "Letters came in. School starts soon. We're going shopping later today for books." She came in a little further. "What're you two doing?"
"Nothing," the twins responded in unison.
"At all?" There was no mistake that shock was in Ginny's voice. "I figured you two would be exploring this place. Or destroying it, whichever one came first."
Fred chuckled as a shadow of a smile came to George's face. "Ginny, come here." Fred and George sat up as Fred patted an empty space on George's bed. Ginny hesitated a second before crossing the room and sitting down where Fred indicated. "You've become one observant little girl."
"I'm hardly little, Fred," Ginny said with an eye roll.
"I remember when you were three, you were one stubborn little girl. You were picky with your food and your toys. You were picky with which one of us you liked too. Bill you got along fine with. Charlie you were scared of at first because of his obsession with dragons. Percy you were OK with. Ron you hated all together. You always started to cry when he came near you." Ginny and George chuckled a little. "You always grew up chasing us around and tagging along. And now you're in your fourth year at Hogwarts. Time flies."
"George, why's he being so sentimental?" Ginny asked, turning to look at George who shrugged, clearly at a loss of Fred's point to his nostalgia.
"It's our last year here, remember?" Fred asked, rapping his knuckles on Ginny's forehead. "We don't have much time together, little sister."
"Oh, don't start that," Ginny spoke up, her voice suddenly harsh and her eyes hard.
"Why? You going to cry? You're going to miss us!" Fred said as he started poking her in the side. She laughed a little as she squirmed away from him. George started poking her on the other side. "You're going to miss us! Admit it! Admit it!"
"N...no!" Ginny gasped in between laughter as Fred and George started tickling her. They dug their fingers into her side as she tried to roll away from them, laughing harder. "S-stop i-it!" She gasped.
"Not until you admit you'll miss us!" Fred said in a sing-song voice.
"F-fine! I'll miss you guys. I'll miss you, happy now?"
"Yep!" Fred and George stopped tickling her as her laughter subsided but the smile stayed on her face.
"I will miss you two," she admitted. "But we still have this year together, make the most of it." Her head turned towards the door as if she heard something. "Mum's probably wondering where I am." Ginny slid off of the bed and went to the door. "See you," she called over her shoulder before leaving the room entirely.
"George!" Fred gasped, looking at his twin.
"What?" George asked curiously.
"You're smiling!" Fred replied, poking his brother in the cheek, causing his smile to get bigger. "This is the first time I've seen you smiling in a while. I've missed it." Fred then smiled at George. George's smile faltered slightly when a strange feeling fleeted through his stomach. It was if he had been punched or a quaffle had connected with his gut. "You want to play Wizard's Chess with Ron? I'm sure I can squeeze a Sickle out of him."
"Nah, go ahead," George replied.
"Are you sure?" Fred asked, rolling off of the bed and getting to his feet.
"I'm sure." George watched Fred leave the room, sighing when the strange feeling seemed to leave with him. Maybe now I can find out what game he's playing
"George...wake up. We're here."
George stirred when he felt a light hand on his head. He slowly blinked his eyes open and yawned, suddenly aware of the tell-tale signs that they had arrived at Platform 9 ¾. George sat up and stretched, looking over at Katie and nodding his thanks. She smiled in response and stood to stretch herself.
Time flew by and before he knew it he was back at his second home. He couldn't say that he was looking forward to it, but it was better than being stuck at Number 12 Grimmauld Place all summer.
Scaring Ron with spiders and messing with his head gave Fred big kicks but it didn't amuse George as much anymore, and he couldn't understand why. Everything fun that he used to do bored him, that's one reason why he was sitting in a compartment with Katie, Alicia, and Angelina. Fred and Lee had gone off to cause some mischief but George stayed behind because he said he was tried. He didn't know if Fred could tell if he were lying. If he knew, he kept it to himself. The truth was that George didn't want to have to fake having fun causing mischief for a little bit.
George followed the three girls down the path to the carriage that was waiting for them. George peered at the carriage. He still never knew what pulled them, he gave up trying to find out years ago, but it still puzzled him how they were able to pull them forward. Magic was the most logical answer, but he felt deep don that that wasn't it.
"Thanks," Katie smiled brightly at George when he helped her into the carriage. He smiled a little before helping Alicia and Angelina in before getting in himself. A second later Lee and Fred jumped onto the carriage. "Cutting it close, boys."
"We had to get away from the little ones," Lee responded as he looked around them when the carriage lurched forward.
"Why? What'd you do now?" Angelina asked as she narrowed her eyes, trying to see into their minds.
"Geeze, Angie, don't stare like that. Your face could get stuck that way," Fred commented.
"Don't call me Angie. And what did you do?" She growled.
"You tricked them, didn't you?" Alicia gasped.
"They eagerly participated in our experiment. We didn't trick them," Lee corrected.
"Unbelievable!" Angelina scoffed. "Less than three minutes into the year and all ready you're scamming little kids."
Fred and Angelina started fighting as well as Lee and Alicia. George couldn't stop the smile that spread on his face. He couldn't help it. It reminded him of when they all first met.
That made him happy.
If only for a little while.
Chapter 11: The Old Routine...
"Oh, come on George. We're back at Hogwarts with the power of Seventh Years…but here you are, sleeping," Fred said as he shook his head, staring down at his brother.
"Trying to sleep, to be precise," George replied without opening his eyes. "What do you want? I'm tired," he muttered because he knew that Fred hadn't left the dormitory.
"It's time for us to put our Skiving Snackboxes to work, little brother," Fred responded, sitting down at the edge of George's bed. "We have many little first years to test them on. It's perfect. Now we don't have to test them on each other."
"The Wet Blanket will try to put a stop to it," George pointed out. Fred knew that George was referring to Hermione, whom they dubbed the Wet Blanket. (Of course they would never refer to her as that to her face). She always found a way to ruin their fun. She reminded them of their mother so much, they tried to avoid her whenever possible, but that was hard when they longed to make fun of their little brother and she was always around him.
"Who cares about her? We have what we need with us. Just 'cause she's a Prefect you're scared of her?" Fred asked in amusement. George grunted his reply. "She's a girl, for Merlin's sake. We can take her."
"Have you seen her cast a spell?"
"Have you seen Ginny cast a spell? Ginny puts her to shame. I'm more afraid of her than I am of Hermione. Don't start wimping out on me. I'm not going to do this alone, but I don't not want to do this either. Either you're with me or this joke shop dream goes down the tubes."
"Don't give me an ultimatum," George groaned.
"Think about it later. As for now, its dinner time and I'm starving." George didn't move. He didn't want to go to dinner. "Come on, Georgie." Fred grabbed his brother's arm and pulled him off of the bed. George rubbed his eyes and allowed Fred to pull him out of the dormitory and into the common room. They followed the large crowd of people into the Dining Hall where the volume of people talking got louder as more people came into the room.
Fred and George waited in annoyance for the First Year students to file in and get sorted into their houses. "See, look at all these little First Years. They're so scared, they'd be happy to work with Seventh Year students to try and fit in," Fred whispered to George.
"And they wouldn't say anything to Hermione, being a Prefect at all. Ron probably wouldn't say anything if he found out. I still can't believe he's a Prefect," George muttered as he shook his head.
"I can't believe how happy Mum is," Fred added. "I mean, it's like we weren't even born she was that happy. Whatever, I don't care that we're not Prefects. We aren't meant for that job anyway. We've caused too much trouble."
"Fun trouble…but trouble."
Just then food and drinks appeared on the table. Everyone else started reaching out for their food while the First Years sat in shock, like always. George's stomach growled but it pained him at the same time. He watched as everyone else reached for the food in front of them and started to eat as if they've never eaten before.
George glanced down at his stomach when it rumbled again. He held it as it cried out for food. 'If you eat now, you'll surely gain weight' he told himself as his eyes darted around at the delicious looking food. 'Eat now and work it off later when you're practicing Quidditch. That's all you have to do.'
"Good evening children," Dumbledore called over the noise of talking students. Everyone shushed each other and the Hall quickly fell silent. "Now we have two changes in staffing this year. We are pleased to welcome back Professor Grubbly-Plank, who'll be taking Care of Magical Creatures while professor Hagrid is on temporary leave. We also wish to welcome our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Professor Dolores Umbridge. And I'm sure you'll all join me in wishing the professor good luck." Fred snorted, causing Dumbledore to pause slightly. "Now, as usual, our caretaker, Mr. Filch, has asked me to remind you–"
"Hem hem." Everyone's eyes shifted to Professor Umbridge as she lifted her pink bag onto the table, got up from her seat, and moved to the front of the Great Hall. "Thank, Headmaster, for those kind words of welcome," Professor Umbridge said as she walked to the front of the Great Hall, "and how lovely to see all your bright happy faces smiling up at me." George didn't have to look around to know that no one was smiling at her. The corner of his mouth twitched as he tried not to laugh. Fred lightly tapped his back. George turned to look at him to see that he felt the same way. "I'm sure we're all going to be very good friends."
"That's likely," they muttered in unison, accompanied with an eye roll as they turned back around to listen to what the toad-creature was saying.
"The Ministry of Magic has always considered the education of young witches and wizards to be a vital importance," she continued, looking around the room as if trying to burn people's faces with her stare. "Although each Headmaster had brought something new to this historic school"—she paused to smile at Dumbledore—"progress for the sake of progress must be discouraged. Let us preserve what must to be preserved, perfect what can be perfected, and prune practices that out to be prohibited."
Fred flinched at her little giggle as she made her way back to her seat. Dumbledore went on with the rest of his announcements but no one was paying attention. They were wondering about Professor Umbridge and why Dumbledore would hire someone like her.
"I think she's going to be a piece of work," Lee commented as they lay spread around the Common Room. He, Katie, Alicia, Angelina, Fred, and George were sitting around the radio. A song by The Weird Sisters was playing but they weren't paying too much attention to it.
"She does seem a little…" Katie let her voice trail off as she thought of a word.
"Annoying?" Fred asked.
"No," Katie said as she shook her head.
"Bothersome?" George guessed.
"Irritating?" Fred asked, a grin forming on his face when he saw the frustrated look on Katie's.
"Aggravating?" George joined in on Fred's plan.
"I was going to say high-strung," Katie interrupted them, glaring at them at the same time. "But all of those work too."
"You haven't given her chance. I bet she isn't like that at all," Alicia spoke up as she pulled at a loose thread on her robe.
"She made an awful first impression," Lee commented, swinging his leg through the air from the way he was sitting in the chair by the window. "Just watch, she going to be exactly how we think of her. Why would Dumbledore hire someone like her? She treats us like we're First Years."
"'I'm sure we're all going to be very good friends'" Angelina imitated in a high pitched voice. The boys howled with laughter. Katie laughed a little but Alicia was the one who stayed silent. "C'mon girl, you have to admit that they way she talks to us is pretty strange. We haven't been talked to like that for years."
"That was strange, I'll admit," Alicia agreed. "But I still think we should give her a chance."
"You're too nice, you know that?" George commented.
"My parents like that about me," she said with a shrug before standing and stretching. "I'll see you guys later."
"You're going to sleep all ready? The sun's barely set," Lee said as he looked into the distance from the castle window.
"I'm getting away from you guys for my own good. I'm afraid that ignorance is contagious," she commented before leaving the common room.
"Ha ha. You're very funny!" Fred called after her as he rolled his eyes. Alicia threw a smirk at him over her shoulder before turning the corner of the stairs and disappearing from sight. "Is she being serious?" He asked Angelina.
"When is she not serious?" She replied. "I kind of get where she's coming from, though. I say we try to be nice to her."
"Not you too!" Fred gasped.
"Fred, it's not going to be the end of the world to be nice to someone."
"I'm nice to people."
"That's not in your family," Angelina said with a challenging look in her eye. George sighed, knowing that Fred would never back out of a challenge.
"He doesn't count either," she said with an eye roll.
"Why doesn't he count? He's not my family," Fred pointed out.
"He's Ron's best friend, he's practically your brother. He doesn't count."
"Not again," Katie sighed. "Guys, we just got back. Please don't fight." She tried to stop Fred and Angelina but they were too far gone. "We've lost 'em boys," she told Lee and George. "No point in staying. They're going to be arguing all night."
"Good point. See you in the morning." Katie waved over her shoulder as Lee and George waved back.
"You coming?" Lee asked, motioning to the dormitories. George nodded and followed Lee up the stairs. Instead of going straight to their room he went into the bathroom. He made sure no one else was in there before rushing into a stall and closing the door.
He got onto his knees and held his head over the toilet. He shoved his fingers down his throat and quickly pulled them out of the way when he felt his throat muscles convulsing. The next thing he knew his dinner was floating in the toilet and he was spiting away the taste of stomach acid. He felt shaky and grabbed onto the toilet rim to steady himself before finally getting to his feet. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve and flushed the toilet.
He left the stall, washed his hands, and returned to his room to find Fred sitting on his bed, visibly fuming. "Do I want to know?" George asked, sitting down on his own bed and looking over at his twin.
"A stupid argument, like usual," Lee responded.
"Angelina did mention something about Quidditch," Fred spoke up. George leaned forward as he waited for Fred to explain. With Oliver gone it was no surprise to them that Angelina had been named captain, but they knew that they needed a new Keeper for their team. "We're going to hold Keeper tryouts once practice starts. She said she's looking for someone who throws well, saves well, and gets along with everyone else. She doesn't want someone who would fight with the rest of us because she thinks it would bring our team down and mess up our chances of winning the cup."
"Who can try out? I've seen some of these people fly, they're rubbish," George said as he made a face.
"We'll get a good laugh out of it," Lee pointed out.
Fred chuckled a little before turning his gaze to George. "Where were you? You've been gone for about ten minutes."
"I was in the bathroom," George responded. Fred continued to stare at him as if waiting for him to explain further. "I felt sick."
"You've been feeling sick a lot the past couple of weeks," Fred said slowly as he studied George's face. George made sure to breathe steadily or else he would give away the fact that he was nervous under Fred's stare. "Are you sure you're not sick? Do we need to take you to the Hospital Wing?"
"I'm fine Fred," George replied. "I, uh, my stomach's been unsettled recently. I think it's something Mum made. I feel better now."
Fred cast him a suspicious look. "If you're sure."
Chapter 12: Fred...
Fred couldn't sleep. He tossed and turned but couldn't feel drowsiness washing over him. He sat up and bed and looked next to him. George was sleeping peacefully. His red hair was sprawled across the pillow in every which way. The moonlight that streamed into the room illuminated the serene look on his face. His freckles stood out a bit more in that light.
Fred rolled onto his stomach and let out a frustrated breath. He could tell George was hiding something from him, but he couldn't work out what it was. That was a curse of being the pranksters of the family, they could easily tell a convincing lie. Who knows whether or not George was telling the truth? Sometimes Fred himself didn't even know if he was telling the truth or not. His mind has been programmed to lie to get out of trouble for so long he didn't think he was capable of telling the truth anymore.
But George, George was different. He was the one who actually had a conscience. Fred could care less, but George actually looked out for their own well being and the well being of others. He didn't want anyone to get hurt with their tricks. Of course, that wasn't what Fred set out to do, but if someone got hurt he usually found it funny. Their pranks were good but not good enough that someone would get hurt. George made sure of that.
"What is going on with him?" Fred asked himself, rolling onto his stomach and looking out the window. "I can't believe I don't know, and he's my twin. More than that, he's my brother."
Fred finally fell into a light sleep. He kept waking up whenever he heard George let out a sigh in his sleep, which stood out to him. George never made sounds in his sleep. He slept like a rock. But now he was making more noise than a Howler that their mother had sent back in their fourth year for "borrowing" their flying car. Really, she was mat at Harry and Ron for taking the car to get to Hogwarts. Their Howler had been heard by everyone in the Great Hall. Fred and George got one later in the day in the Common Room, it mainly said how their mother was blaming them for Ron and Harry's idea and that they had set a bad example for them.
Fred smiled a bit at the thought. He never considered them as bad influences, more like…eye openers. He helped others realize that it was ok to break the rules sometimes, especially if it's meant to get a laugh out of them. What's the harm in that, getting people to laugh? That's when it hit Fred. He needed to get George to laugh. That'll make everything better!
"Wake up, Georgie," Fred said as he grabbed his twin's elbow and shook him hard. George's eyes flew open as Fred jostled him. "Whoa, wake up on the wrong side of the bed?"
"Waddya mean?" He asked sleepily, rubbing his eyes.
"You're not…cheery and usually I want to punch you in the face in the morning because your smile is so blinding," Fred replied bluntly.
George smiled a sleepy smile which must've been contagious because Fred started smiling as well. "C'mon, Georgie, if we don't get down there Ron'll eat all of the good food and we'll be left with dung that's uncannily identical to Mum's stuff."
"Don't let her hear you say that," George said as he pushed himself out of bed and stretched. Fred tilted his head slightly as he watched his brother stretch and yawn. Something about him was odd. It was his shirt. It looked so big on him, and it hung off of him like a big blanket on the thin branches of a tree. "What?" George asked once he noticed Fred looking at him.
"Nuthin'," Fred replied, shaking his head.
"That's the best insult you can come up with?"
"I didn't get any sleep last night, all right? My brain's not working just yet."
"There's no surprise."
George threw his pillow at Fred. Fred easily caught it and tossed it back, turning to put on some clothes. He couldn't get the image of George out of his mind. He noticed that George was a little bit thinner than usual and he constantly seemed tired. He didn't even want to play Wizard's Chess like they always did before they went to sleep. Now, George just slept whenever he could and when he wasn't sleeping he was going to class and doing homework. Yes, George actually did his homework. That was the first thing that tipped Fred off that something was wrong with his beloved twin.
"C'mon, slowpoke," Fred sighed, tapping his foot.
"You go ahead," George replied, pulling back the covers on his bed. "Get me some food though."
Fred nodded and motioned for Lee to follow him. The Common Room was partially filled, which surprised him. Usually as soon as soon as the students woke up for breakfast they would clear out and get there as soon as their sleepy feet would allow them. "That's odd," he muttered.
"Maybe they're rushing to finish homework," Lee suggested, looking in the direction that Fred was looking in.
"Ah, to be young and to not do homework." Fred said with a smile. "I'm going to miss that."
"How? You don't do your homework now. It's not going to make that much of a difference."
Fred fought to roll his eyes when Angelina's voice reached his ears. He turned and gave her a pleasant smile, half forced half genuine. Alicia and Katie raised their eyebrows at his smile but didn't say anything. Angelina ignored it all together. "Hello, ladies. How are you doing on this lovely day?"
"What's gotten you so chipper?" Angelina demanded. Fred couldn't miss the suspicion that was in her voice as she crossed her arms over her chest. "Did you drop a dung beetle in Ron's pudding again?"
"No, but that's a very good idea. Thanks for the suggestion." Fred winked as Lee chuckled and the two left the portrait hole. He could practically see the look of disgust on her face as well as the scowl. For some reason she didn't seem to enjoy their tricks as much as he did. Go figure, everyone likes a good laugh. Except for her and the only thing it did was fuel Fred to get her to laugh even more.
That would be his mission for the day: to get George and Angelina to laugh.
He wanted George to laugh 'cause Fred knew that it would return his twin to his old state. Angelina, she was a different case.
He wanted her to laugh because he loved her smile.
Chapter 13: Uh Oh...
George sighed and held his head in his hands. Classes at Hogwarts were so boring to him nowadays. It didn't feel like he was learning anything new or anything that he really needed to learn, anyway. He and Fred held onto the thought that they would learn more in the real world facing life head on instead of talking about it in the classroom. That's probably why Harry had a lot more fun at school. Of course, he didn't think it was fun because his life was on the line all of the time. Fred and George liked to see it a different way, at least he got to have adventures and no one punished him for it. It seemed as if every time Fred and George got an idea they would be shut down before it started.
This day was no exception.
It's too bad we couldn't get those kate thingys to work. I'll work on getting them to not explode.
George smiled at Fred's innocence when it came to Muggle things. What Fred was really talking about was the Muggle toy, a kite. Fred and George wanted to charm a few of them so they spelled out words in the sky depending on how the person moved the kite. However something in them backfired and they exploded as soon as sunlight touched them.
Because of that the twins were put in detention with Filch. They've been put in detention so many times no one knew what to do with them anymore. Somehow they would end up making it fun so Mr. Filch ended up leaving their detention as them sitting across the room from each other, not talking, not doing homework, just sitting there, while Filch watched them.
However, what he didn't know was that Fred and George could communicate with each other easily with a new spell they have perfected. Basically it took whatever the other was thinking and wrote itself on the desk in front of them. After a couple of seconds it would disappear just in case someone walked around.
It's called a kite, Freddy, and the exploding part may not need to be fixed.
Don't call me Freddy, and why not?
We could sell 'em in Zonkos. We could get hefty Galleons out of it.
I like the way you think, Georgie.
Wait, if you can call me Georgie, why can't I call you Freddy?
'Cause you never said anything about me calling you Georgie, little brother.
George rolled his eyes. He hated, more than anything, to be simply called Little Brother. It drove him mad and unfortunately Fred knew it.
I hate it when you call me that.
You love it.
Technically, I'm not even talking, Little Brother.
You're so annoying.
Look in a mirror, buddy.
That doesn't make any sense! A mirror has nothing to do with it.
So you think…
Fred was grinning from across the room. He was lying halfway across his desk, his face propped up by his palm. The smile on his face was a lazy smile, George could tell instantly. It wasn't that much different than his bored smile but George has been around Fred for so long he could even differentiate the sighs he made.
George slumped in his chair and looked up at the stone ceiling. There was no point in counting the cracks anymore, there were 5,278; he's counted five times all ready. There wasn't ever a time he could remember being this bored, not even with Fred in the room. But now…
George turned his head and looking out the window. How he longed to be out on the lawns on this beautiful day. He stared enviously at the other students that were running around, playing at the edge of the lake, or sitting around talking with each other. He longed to be outside and not worry about school work or exams or anything that could bring on stress of any shape or form.
George sucked in his breath when he felt a rolling pain in his stomach. That's been happening to him since he woke up that morning. The first thing he saw when he woke up that morning was Fred stretching, his back turned to George. George couldn't help but watch the muscles in Fred's back moving as if they were liquid. He looked down at his own body and saw nothing but fat. No matter which way he looked at himself in the mirror he didn't see Fred looking back at him like he usually did, all he saw was a blob of fat with red hair and freckles.
That's what urged him to not eat breakfast that morning. He wanted…needed to look like Fred again. That's all he knew how to do, be like Fred, listen to Fred, follow Fred. He was Fred's right hand man and he didn't want anything jeopardizing his position. What if one day they became so different they weren't able to trick anyone anymore? Then their lives as twins would be over and George didn't want to be the reason for that.
George blinked and looked at Fred who was waving his wand in the air, lazily writing something. His smile steadily grew wider the more he wrote. Things like Filch can kiss my saggy left buttock filled the air and it was obvious that Filch wasn't taking a particular liking to any of it because of the way he was glaring at Fred. Fred knew Filch couldn't really do anything about it; he lived off of the adrenaline of anger that was directed towards them. He lived for it, loved it.
George leaned back in his chair and smiled a bit. Fred waved his wand faster and faster, muttering something under his breath. Suddenly thick, putrid smoke filled the room faster than flames. George jumped out of his seat and tried to call out Fred's name but inhaled the smoke instead. Instantly his eyes started to water and his throat burned. Squinting through the smoke he could barely makeout Fred's dark shadow.
"F,,,fr,,,Fred!" He choked out, reaching through the smoke to try and grab his brother. He reached into his pocket and held out his hand, wand raised. He went through every spell he could think of that would make the smoke go away but it stayed put. "Fred! Fred!" He called in between coughing.
"Georgie!" Fred's voice was heard around him somewhere. George whipped his head around, squinting, trying to find his brother. He groped in the smoke, reaching, searching for his twin. His heart beat faster against his chest as if it were beating for two, not one. That's when he felt something graze his hand. He reached out again and sighed when he felt Fred's hand clasp his own.
He turned Fred's hand over and squeezed his hand tight to make sure that his brother was actually there. Suddenly he felt excruciating pain in his head, as if knives were being shoved through his skull. He dropped Fred's hand and sank to his knees, holding his head, clenching his teeth.
"George! George!" Fred's voice was far away. He could hear the desperation in his voice. He sounded scared. "George!"
As soon as the pain started it stopped. George took a few deep breaths suddenly feeling the cold stone ground on his forehead. He placed his clammy palms on the floor and lifted his head. The smoke was gone, everything was back to normal.
"George!" Fred rushed to his brother's side and pulled him to his feet. "Are you ok? George, say something, mate!" he begged, grabbing his twin's shoulders and shaking him hard, his eyes wild with fear.
"How'd you do that?" George finally asked, looking around the room. He made a soft snorting sound. Leave it to Filch to run at the first sign of danger but whenever he can be somewhere to stick the blame on someone he will.
"I don't understand more than half the things I do let alone how I did this," Fred replied, slowly shaking his head and smiling. "Are you ok?" he repeated.
George slowly nodded his head, finally looking his brother in the eye, finally noticing the fear that was in his eyes which was now mixed with concern and relief. "I've been through worse."
"Nothing can get worse than Mum's yelling," Fred agreed.
George smiled. "Nothing."
Chapter 14: Fred vs George...
Fred went around wondering how long it would take for whatever effect the smoke had on them to do something. Blow them up, make them grow beards, disfigured their faces, something! He was going crazy trying to figure out what it was. He was even close enough to go to Hermione and ask her what effects smoke could have on them. It was the Wizarding World after all, it could do anything to them if they weren't careful, but Fred managed to stop himself. The last thing he wanted was for Hermione to put him down like she always does in her Hermione way.
"Hey Fred!" Fred jumped when his name was called and whirled around to see Lee with a large smile on his face and something hidden in his enclosed hands. "Do you want to scare some of the girls? I have a really good trick this time." Fred chuckled at Lee's enthusiasm. He always tried to play tricks on the girls that were as good as his and George's but Fred knew, sadly, that Lee wouldn't be able to match their high jinks, they were twins after all and they practically had the same brain, just two of them to help aid them in their tricks. The only way Lee would be able to match them would be if he had a clone or something.
"No thanks. Hey, do you know where George is?" Fred questioned. Lee's mouth fell open in shock. "What?" He asked in confusion. "Do I have anything on my face aside from this handsomeness?" He asked with a slight air of arrogance.
"No, it's not that," Lee said, shaking his head. "You, Fred Weasley, just turned down scaring the girls. Are you sick, mate? Do you need to go to the Hospital Wing?"
Fred laughed. "I'm fine, Lee. I just need to talk to George. Again I ask, do you know where he is?"
"Try the Quidditch Pith. I think he said something about practicing," Lee replied.
Fred nodded his thanks and frowned when he turned around. Why was George practicing by himself? He and George always practiced Quidditch together when they weren't with the team. He and George used to do everything together. Fred couldn't ignore George's obvious attempts to be by himself more often than not. Even Ron noticed it; Fred of course said it was nothing and for him to stick his big nose elsewhere, suggesting where the sun doesn't shine as the perfect place.
Fred couldn't deny the hurt he was feeling, at his own twin's hands. George must've known how Fred was feeling, right? He must, they could feel each other's emotions. Fred never knew if it was because they were twins or because they were wizards, though. The power worked on and off, sometimes Fred could feel when George was really angry about something and sometimes George could feel Fred's pain even if he was on the other side of the school in a different class.
Fred shoved his hands into his pockets, whistling a random tune as he neared the Quidditch pitch, he could see a solitary figure flying around the pitch, flying in crazy shapes and designs, diving towards the ground before pulling up at the last second. Aside from the shock of red hair Fred knew immediately that it was George, no one else was as brave as them to play chicken on their broomsticks. Everyone else wimped out, Ron especially. Harry, they convinced once or twice, was almost as good as them. Almost.
Fred walked onto the pitch and tilted his head back, watching as George now flew by slowly, laying on his back on the broom, arms behind his head. It looked as if the handle was digging into his spine, Fred was surprised that George could stand it.
"Galleon, for them," Fred called. George rolled over onto his stomach, managing not to fall in the process. "What's going on?"
George shrugged. "I don't know what you mean."
Fred made a noise of disbelief. "George, we share a brain, we share a heart even, I know when something is bothering you and I'd appreciate it if you'd stop treating me like…Ron." He wrinkled his nose.
George locked his twin's eyes. "Do you have your broom with you?" Fred lifted his eyebrows. "I'm not talking on the ground where others can hear me," George rolled his eyes.
"Since when do you care what others think?" Fred demanded.
"Since always, Fred!" George cried out. "I've always cared."
Fred blinked rapidly and crossed his arms over his chest. "This is news to me. How come you didn't say anything?"
"I don't have to tell you everything," George said dully.
Fred felt a weird tingling sensation somewhere deep in his chest but he ignored it. "I never said you did but that doesn't stop us, well I guess it didn't."
"Don't you hate it, Fred?" George asked, turning to look at his brother with moist eyes. Fred's eyebrows knitted together. Since when was George so sensitive?
"The accusations, the stares, the put downs," George sighed, leaning against his broomstick as if for support. Fred couldn't help but compare George to the broomstick. He was taller, of course, but now George seemed to be giving the broomstick a run for its money at how thin he was. Fred couldn't deny that George was smaller than usual and he was tired all of the time and he was more tired than usual. However, whenever he tried to get George to tell him what was going on he kept saying that it was nothing and that Fred needed to mind his own business. "I just…I hate it all. I hate how Mum and Dad think so highly of Charlie and Bill. I hate how they like Ron and Ginny because they're friends of Harry's. What are we, next door neighbours?"
Fred chuckled. George had asked the same thing earlier when the two were annoyed by how their mother was showing Ron so much praise for being Prefect. "Gred, how long has this been bothering you? More importantly why didn't you talk to me about it? I could've easily pushed those nasty thoughts out of your head."
George jerked away from Fred's touch, his eyes wild. "Stop it, Fred! I'm trying to tell you something here. Stop trying to make things into a joke!"
"Someone's wand must be shoved where the sun don't shine," Fred muttered. "George, tell me what's running through your mind."
George slowly shook his head and looked at the sky, packing a bit before scratching his head. "I just hate the way people talk about us, Forge," George sighed, sitting down on the grass. Fred sat down next to him. "'Oh, Fred and George? You don't have to worry about them; they won't amount to anything in life. They'll just continue on as if life's one big joke'," George imitated their Aunt Muriel spot on and shook his head. "'It'll only be a matter of time until they kill themselves with their jokes'." He sighed and leaned backwards so he was looking up at the sky. "I want to show them all that we can actually do something in this world but at the same time I don't see a point because no one will take us seriously."
"That's good," Fred replied, rolling onto his side so he could look at his brother. "This way we can slip under the radar, do whatever we want. We wouldn't be who we are if Mum knew about half of the things we've done."
"I know, it's just…" he paused. "Sometimes I wish people would actually think that we have feelings."
"You actually care about what people think?"
"Of course! You don't?"
"Nope." Fred shook his head.
"I don't believe you."
"Really, I don't."
"I bet you'd care if Angelina said something about you."
"She says something about me all the time, I learned to tune it out," Fred replied with an eye roll "George, if you pay too much attention caring about what others think you're never going to be happy because they're going to constantly try and bring you down and tear you apart and change who you are."
George shook his head as if shaking a thought away. "They don't care," he muttered.
"What?" George was confusing him. First he said that people cared enough to make comments and now he was saying they didn't care?
"Everyone else, they don't care enough to tear me apart and change who I am. According to them I'm a packaged deal." There was trace of bitterness in his voice that Fred has enver heard before. "Wherever's George there's Fred, you can have one Weasley Twin without the other. They don't get that sometimes I just want to be by myself, be known as George, not a Weasley Twin."
"Oh, I get it." Fred rolled onto his stomach and pushed himself backwards until he was kneeling above his brother. George couldn't help but notice that way Fred's arm muscles flexed as he pushed himself onto his knees. George lifted his head a bit to look at his arms and saw no improvement. He's been working out like crazy but still nothing has happened. George sighed and looked back up at the sky. "I get it now. You don't want to be a twin anymore."
"What?" George sat up. "That's not what I said."
"That's what you meant, wasn't it? You don't want to be a twin anymore?" George stayed silent. "Fine then. From this moment on we're not twins. We're not brothers."
"Don't be ridiculous…"
"I'm not! You're the one who keeps boo-hooing about how no one knows who you are and they know us as twins and shit." Fred got to his feet. "Do whatever you want, I don't care, because from this moment on I don't have a twin!" He turned and stomped off.
George watched him go, hugging his knees to his chest. He rested his forehead on his knees and bit his lip hard, telling himself not to cry. He could feel tears building in the corner of his eyes. Sucking in his breath he stood, grabbed his broom, and threw it in anger, letting out a scream of rage before stomping back to the change rooms.
I'll make sure they know who I am from now on, he vowed to himself as he locked himself in a stall and knelt in front of the toilet. I'll make sure of it, no matter what it takes. No one will mistake me for Fred ever again.
Chapter 15: Caught...
George lifted his head and blinked rapidly, looking around the Common Room. It was dark outside the windows, stars barely shinning in the sky because of the clouds that passed by. He looked down at the book in his heads and groaned, noticing that he hadn't even made it fast the first page of assigned reading. He shifted his feet to make room for Ginny who plopped down at the end of the couch. One look at her face and he could tell she knew what was going on. "Fred told you?" He questioned. Ginny nodded but didn't say anything. "Well? Aren't you going to say something?"
"I think Fred blew things out of proportion," Ginny said slowly.
"That's what I think too," George agreed.
"But at the same time I think you did too."
"Huh?" George looked up from the book and shut it. He knew there was no way he was going to be able to do his homework now. He could probably just get Alicia or Angelina to do it for him, if Fred didn't turn them against him or something. "How did I blow things out of proportion? I blow things up not out."
Ginny laughed a little at his joke. "I mean, I think you were a bit too hard on Fred. You have to admit the idea of you wanting to be known only as you, George, is hard for Fred to hear. Don't you understand? Fred lives his life around yours and you just suddenly saying that you don't want to be known as a Weasley twin his hard for time to take."
"He has to be getting annoyed with me as well," George said as he turned his attention back to his homework. He scratched his head as he tried to understand what the book was saying but he couldn't get it. It was as if it were written in a different language. "Wouldn't you? If you had a twin and you two were really different and people still couldn't tell you apart and just summed you up as a Weasley Twin, wouldn't that get on your nerves?"
"It would, I guess, but at the same time I'd like it," Ginny replied.
"You're no help," George sighed, closing his book.
"Is that what this is about? People not being able to tell you and Fred apart?"
"Maybe," he mumbled, putting his books into his bag.
"If that's what this fight is about then you two are acting like gits," Ginny sighed. "That's what you love about being a twin! Being able to trick anyone and everyone who meets you. being able to stay out of trouble by easily claiming you were someone else and then creating a clever lie to claim that you were nowhere near the trouble in the first place. You're giving up a gift, George."
"I'm not giving up anything, ok? Is it a crime to want to be known as a separate person?" George demanded. Ginny didn't respond and let George stalk angrily out of the room. He sighed and rubbed his forehead at the headache that was coming on. He didn't mean to get angry with Ginny but it was just that she didn't understand. No one did. They weren't a twin, they wouldn't understand no matter how hard they tried.
George threw his things onto the bed and went in search for the bathroom. He only had power over one thing and it was the only thing that could make him feel better about himself right now. He's measured himself and he's lost about an inch on his waist but that wasn't enough. He didn't feel better, he needed to feel and look it. Then people would notice that he wasn't Fred.
George knelt in front of a toilet and shoved a Puking Pastille down his throat. The contents in his stomach easily came back up as mush and fell into the toilet bowl. He shook his head, spit out the foul taste of stomach acid and stuck another piece in his mouth, bringing up some more food. The smell of stomach acid burned his nose once against but it wasn't as strong as it used to be. His eyes still watered but not as much as before. He smiled to himself, glad that he was getting used to the twisting feeling that filled his stomach whenever he emptied it. Now all he had to do was train a bit more and he'll be set for the rest of the day. Then he could eat whatever he wanted at dinner.
He shoved the other side of the Pastille into his mouth and almost instantly his stomach settled. He stood and flushed the toilet, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. He pushed open the stall door and froze when his mirror reflection stared back at him. However, there was no mirror standing in front of him.
It was Fred.
"Sick again?" Fred demanded, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Yes," George replied curtly. "It happens." He moved past his brother and went over to the sink to wash his hands.
"But for a week straight?" Fred demanded following him.
"It's a stomach thing," George mumbled.
"Yet you're the only one to have it and you seem to have it when you're upset about something," Fred continued, standing behind his brother and glaring at him through the mirror. "You're working out a lot more as well."
"So? It's a free country, I can work out as much as I want," George sighed. "Don't you want our team to be in tip top shape? We can't beat Slytherin if we aren't in shape."
"Oh, so your shape is a stick?" Fred asked, lifting his eyebrows.
George finally stood and looked at his brother. "What do you want, Fred?"
"I want to know what's going on."
"You want to know something about someone you claim you don't know anymore?" George asked.
"Come off it, George! Some of our snacks are missing. You're doing something, I don't know what it is, but I know it's bad and you need to stop."
"I'm not doing anything, Fred," George said calmly. "I feel sick sometimes, so what? Otherwise, I've never felt better. Why do you care anyway? I thought you didn't have a twin."
"With pleasure!" George stomped away from his brother, pulling the door open so hard that it crashed against the opposite wall causing Fred to jump.
Fred kicked at the sink as the door slowly started to close. "Dammit, George!"
Chapter 16: Worry...
"Ginny! Ginny! Oy!" Fred yelled as he waved his arms back and forth over his head. Ginny glanced at him out of her corner of her eye but went back to talking to her friends. He dropped his arms and his lip curled into an evil smile. You want to ignore me, Gin? Then you'll suffer the consequences. He walked between the two long tables of Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, not taking his eyes off of his little sister. He waited until the girls burst into giggles to make his move. He busted out in boisterous laughter, earning weird looks from the girls and put his arm around Ginny's shoulder. "Hahaha, you know what's really funny? One time, when Ginny was four, she—"
Fred grinned when Ginny jumped up, grabbed his arm, and yanked him back towards the doors of the Great Hall. "What do you think you were doing?" She hissed, whipping around so fast he was surprised her hair didn't attack him.
"Getting my dear little sister's attention," Fred replied. "Did you not see me trying to get it before?"
"I saw you waving your arms around and screeching like a monkey but there's nothing new with that," she shot back, crossing her arms over her chest and popping a hip out. Fred lifted his eyebrows at the attitude she was displaying but he let it slide. She was growing up after all and he didn't really have a say in how she acted. Until it had something to do with boys. Then he would put his foot down but until then he didn't want to deal with her famous rage. "What do you want, Fred?"
"I want your help," Fred replied. It was Ginny's turn to lift her eyebrows. "It's about George."
"What's wrong with you two now?" She asked.
"Besides the fact that he's not talking to me?" Fred asked glumly. Ginny's eyebrows knitted together. Before Fred was fine with not talking to George, or so he had said; now Ginny realized just how much Fred was suffering.
Fred and George were like the black sheep of the family. They were always off by themselves, whether they wanted to be or not. Ginny was following after Ron, even when they were younger, and as she got older she made her own friends. Charlie and Bill were off to their jobs, talking about them constantly and getting a lot of praise from their parents. Percy…well, he was more loyal to the Ministry than the family so they didn't speak about him much but it was always Fred and George that were off by themselves. A good portion of the time was because they were in trouble because of a prank they pulled but otherwise it was because the rest of the children edged them out.
It's only been a couple of days since the twins stopped talking but it was long enough for Fred to stop thinking up pranks to play on people. It was long enough for George to actually put his school work first and heed by the new rules that Umbridge was putting everywhere. That alone was what tipped everyone else off that something was wrong with the twins. Ginny felt like she didn't know them anymore and it scared her.
"Did you try?" Ginny asked.
"Of course I tried. I live in the same room as him and he can only ignore me for so long," Fred responded. "But George won't budge and…" Fred hesitated as Ginny lifted her eyebrow. "I think he's mad that I saw something."
"What? We know it's a shock that he's actually doing homework now but the rest of us have gotten used to it," Ginny pointed out.
"No, something else." He glanced around and made sure they weren't being overheard. "I had gone to the bathroom and—"
"Fred, I don't want to hear about George's…third nipple or something along the like," Ginny said in exasperation, waving her arms.
"What? No, that's not it!" Fred then paused. "George has a third nipple?" He asked lifting his eyebrows. Then he mentally slapped himself, telling himself to worry about George's oddities later. "No he…he claims he's been sick lately but I don't buy it."
"People get sick all the time," Ginny sighed.
"Not like this. And he's been working out a lot more than usual. And not eating as much as he used to. He used to eat like a…a, oh it doesn't even matter! George is hurting himself, I just…I don't know how but he is."
"So talk to him about it," Ginny said with a roll of her eyes. She didn't have time for her brother's stupidity, she and her friends were going to go to Hogsmeade to try and help another friend get over her recent breakup with her boyfriend.
"I would if he would talk to me," Fred replied, throwing his arms into the air.
"Fred, you're the one who said he wasn't your twin anymore. You made this mess, you fix it," Ginny ordered, backing away from him and shaking her head.
Fred let out a groan and turned to go back to his room. He didn't know what else to do. He regretted telling George that he wasn't his brother as soon as the words came out of his mouth and the hurt look settled on George's face. That look alone hurt him as well and now he was sitting with an empty space in his heart that he knew wouldn't be filled until things were right again, he just didn't know how to make things right.
"Hey, is, um, is George in there?" Fred asked a few Second Years who came out of the Fat Lady's portrait. They shook their heads and ran off. Fred stepped through the portrait and walked straight over to Alicia, Angelina, and Katie who were sitting by the fire, talking about something or other. Fred usually didn't care what they talked about and ignored them, maybe play a prank or two on them but right now he knew that they would be the only ones that would listen to him. "Hey ladies," he greeted them with a charming smile.
"What do you want?" Angelina asked, suddenly on the defense.
"What? I can't talk to my favorite girls?" Fred asked innocently as Angelina glared at him.
"You never call us ladies unless you want something," Alicia pointed out.
"You don't want us to try those…treat things again, do you?" Katie asked, worry lacing her voice.
Fred smiled at her nervousness and shook his head. "No, but I do need a favor from one of you."
"What do we get in return?" Angelina asked, lifting an eyebrow.
"My eternal thanks," Fred replied.
"I'd like something that I could actually wrap my and around."
"Well then," Fred grinned and put an arm around her shoulders, "I figured you'd want to go on a date first, but if you're willing to jump that far—" He laughed and blocked the pillow that Angelina started to hit him with. "All right, all right, I'll pay you."
Angelina scoffed and slid off of the couch and onto the floor where Alicia was spreading out her books. "That isn't nearly emough for the favor that you'd want us to do."
"We're his friends, we shouldn't be paid to do him a favor," Katie pointed out, closing the book she was reading and turned to Fred with a kind smile on her face. "I'll help you, Fred, free of charge."
"Well thank you," he said with massive amounts of innocence. "At least someone likes me enough to want to help without jumping to conclusions that I'm up to something wrong."
Angelina rolled her eyes but didn't respond. Fred stuck his tongue out at the back of her head, causing Katie to giggle. He then turned his attention to her and gave her a lopsided smile. "I'm sure you've noticed that George and I aren't really on speaking terms right now," he started.
"Yes, and it has me worried," Katie replied honestly. "I've never seen George so upset or alone before. Did you two get into a fight?"
"Something like that. That's where you come in. You see, George has been acting weird and I'm sure you've noticed it as well. I want to know what it is but, I'm not talking to him."
"So you want me to try and get information out of him," Katie guessed.
"Exactly," Fred replied, nodding.
"You want one of us to butt into George's privacy?" Angelina demanded.
"No, I want one of you to get George to talk to me again," Fred protested.
"Maybe he's not talking to you for a reason."
"And maybe you need to pull that stick out of your arse." Katie and Alicia snickered as Angelina's cheeks darkened. With a huff she gathered up her books and stomped out of the Common Room.
"That was a little harsh," Alicia pointed out.
"Oh she knows I don't mean it," Fred said with a dismissal wave of his hand. "So, Katie, will you do it for me? Please?" he gave her the best smile he could muster.
"Sure," Katie said with a laugh. "I'll think of my payment later."
"I thought you said you didn't want payment."
"That was before I remembered you could help me get out of my Ancient Runes Class."
Chapter 17: Blind...
"George, get your head out of the clouds and focus!" Angelina barked at him as he rushed by on his broomstick.
George clenched his teeth and pulled back on his broomstick, hovering above Angelina, Katie, and Alicia as they zoomed around the pitch, tossing the Quaffle back and forth to each other. George glared at Angelina as she scored yet another goal on Ron. Couldn't she see he was trying his best? Why didn't she yell at Fred for a change?
But George already knew the answer to that. Everyone loved Fred because he was funny and not afraid to get into trouble. George knew Angelina had a soft spot for him, despite not showing it. They did go to the Yule Ball together, after all, and George has never seen her smile like that before. Especially not at him.
No girl was ever interested in him, only Fred, which was ridiculous because they were twins. They were basically the same person but, like always, Fred was the one the girls wanted to talk to and spend time with. Why be with the wet-blanket when you could be with the life of the party?
"George, look out!"
George blinked and turned to look at Katie, who had just yelled at him, only to get a Bludger to the face. He could feel the heavy iron bashing into his face and felt the fleeting pain of his nose breaking. The loud cracking sound echoed through his skull and the next thing he knew his world had flipped and the ground was rushing up to meet him.
He felt a hard yank on his back and he suddenly stopped falling. He corrected himself and put his feet on the ground. His hands immediately went to his face where blood was dripping out of his nose. His whole face seemed to throb in time with his heartbeat and tears of pain had collected in his eyes.
"George, are you alright?" Alicia asked, rushing to his side, leaving her broomstick behind.
"I think my nose is broken," he replied, holding onto his nose as if he were afraid it would fall off if he let go.
"Move your hands—I can fix it," Alicia said, whipping out her wand. George hesitantly lowered his hands and she grimaced at the bloody mess that used to hold his nose. She pulled her wand out of her scarlet and gold practice robes and pointed it straight at George's face. She waved it and muttered, "Episkey." George let out a groan at the loud crack that seemed to echo across the pitch.
"Here." George turned to be met with Katie's wand in his face. "Evanesco." The blood that was dripping from George's upper lip disappeared and his face was returned to normal.
"Thanks," George muttered, wiping at his face to make sure that the blood was gone. He gingerly touched his nose and let out a sigh of relief when it didn't throb in pain or felt broken under his skin.
"What did you think you were doing? Picking daisies? We have a match to prepare for, George! It'd help if you were actually trying to pay attention!" Angelina barked once she was on the ground. "We have a match against Slytherin soon and I'd appreciate it if we could get through one practice without someone, bleeding to death!" She added, swinging her head in Fred's direction.
He lifted his eyebrows. "Come off it, Ange, that was one time and it was an accident. And look, Katie's fine. It's not like we…" he paused and his eyebrows crinkled together. He glanced at George briefly before continuing, "It's not like I was trying to hurt her."
"Right, just like you weren't trying to hurt me," George mumbled.
"What was that?" Fred demanded.
"You hit that Bludger in my face on purpose!" George accused.
A slow smile formed on Fred's face. "I think that Bludger hit you too hard. The point of the game is to make sure I injure the other plays so we can win. Remember?"
"That doesn't mean you can give me a concussion."
The smile faded from Fred's face. "Wait, you think I did that to you? On purpose?"
"I wouldn't put it past you."
"Come on, you two—"Angelina started.
Fred lifted a hand and silenced her. Angelina sighed and backed away with Alicia and Katie by her side. She shook her head and crossed her arms over her chest, glaring daggers at Fred. It wasn't because he was interrupting their practice for petty reasons but it was because he and his brother were arguing about something stupid and they couldn't see how childish they were acting.
"You honestly think I hit you with the Bludger?" Fred demanded. His voice was so icy it made a chill run down the girls' spines. Never have they seen the twins so angry with each other. The random times they were mad at each other it'd go away with their laughter over something five seconds later. Katie's skin crawled at the look of venom in both their eyes. "I didn't do it."
"Whatever." George grabbed his abandoned broomstick and stomped off. George swore he heard Fred say something along the lines of "I'd never do that to you" but the blood was rushing in his ears that it drowned out anything he had said.
"George, we're not finished with practice yet!" Angelina yelled after him.
"I'm not playing on the same team as him! Find someone else," George yelled over his shoulder, heading towards the changing area as fast as his legs would carry him. He knew Fred had beaten the Bludger at him on purpose, he could tell. Fred's jealous, that's all. He's jealous that I'm a better Beater than he is! That has to be it!
George angrily threw his broom across the changing tent and started pacing rapidly. What does he want from me? We're not brothers anymore! Why can't he just leave me alone? Why can't he get out of my face? George rubbed at his chest when a sudden dull pain suddenly erupted. His breathing started to get heavy and his temples started to throb. And then all of a sudden it was replaced with a strong feeling of fury, something that he's never felt before. He could practically feel it burning under his skin, taking over every sense he had. What's going on?
"George—are you decent?" Katie's voice came out from the other side of the changing area.
"You can come in, Katie," George replied, stumbling over to a bench and collapsing no it, holding his head in his hands. He took in a deep breath and let out it slowly, repeating the process as the feeling of fury slowly subsided and he was left feeling drained.
"George, what's going on?" Katie demanded, sitting next to him.
"Nothing really. I'm just starting to think I'm going crazy. Oh, and my brother hates me so…" George let his sentence trail off as he rubbed his temples.
"I'm sure Fred doesn't hate you," Katie said softly.
"He beat me with a Bludger."
"George, to be fair, you weren't paying attention today. You have eyes like a hawk, you always notice when a Bludger is coming your way. "She paused and added, "It's not that hard, really, to tell when a ball of iron is flying at you, though." He cracked a smile and she sat up straighter. "What's going on between you two?" She asked gently.
George shrugged. "We're just fighting."
"That's what's worrying us. That you are fighting. You two don't fight. You…practically share a brain. You're so close it's scary and now you two are at each other's throats. I don't understand."
"That's just it, Katie. I hate…that."
"Being compared to Fred all the time."
Katie lifted her eyebrows. "George, no one compares you to Fred."
George scoffed. "Not to my face, but I know what they're thinking. I know what they're all saying. They life Fred better than me, they all do." His hands were clasped together and his foot was bouncing rapidlu as a faraway look formed in his eyes. "Ever since we were little, everyone likes him better." Now he was more talking to himself than he was talking to Katie. She didn't know if he remembered that she was there, he seemed to be off in his own world. "Mum never said it but I could tell she liked him better, when she was not fawning over Percy or Charlie or Bill at least. I could always tell. She loved his humor, despite trying to hide it most of the time. If I ever tried anything I'd get in trouble for it. But not him. Not perfect Fred. I'm always the quiet one, the one in the shadows. The one no one notices."
Katie grabbed his arm. "George, snap out of it!" She snapped. He blinked and looked at her as if seeing her for the first time. "Stop it," she repeated, quietly. "No one compares you to Fred and if they do they're mental for not being able to tell that you two are very different people who just so happen to look alike."
"Everybody likes Fred better…"
Katie shook her head. "I don't. I mean, I don't want to sound like a prat for saying this but Fred can be amusing but a little on the cruel side. You, at least, take people's feelings into account. And you're very smart, not that Fred isn't, but you're more of a thinker than he is, which is a very admirable quality."
George leaned back on the bench and let out a long breath. "Thanks, Katie," he mumbled. She didn't know if he actually meant it but decided to accept his gratitude anyway. He gave her a smile and swung an arm around her shoulder. "What would I do without you?"
"Not pass any of your classes?" She joked, knocking his arm off of her shoulder, feeling a flush creep up her neck. "This fight you're having is petty. Don't you miss talking to Fred?"
George's smile instantly dropped from his face. "No, not really."
"Katie, drop it," George said firmly, standing. He noticed the hurt look on her face and said, "Why don't you help me with History of Magic? I have two feet of parchment due tomorrow."
She crossed her arms over her chest. "George Weasley, tell me you've at least started."
She got a sheepish grin as a reply.
"George…you're not listening to me are you?"
Katie's voice was faint in the back of George's mind. He didn't mean to be looking—well, staring—in their direction but his eyes were always drawn to her. He didn't get it. Fred always picked on Angelina; always had since they first met back in First Year, but now there was something different about their teasing and their arguing.
And it irked George.
He blinked and looked at Katie as soon as she pulled her hand out of his face. "Glad you've joined me back on Earth."
"Sorry, Katie," George sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I just have a lot on my mind."
"Mmm, or someone," she replied.
George sat up straight and Katie looked back at him, watching him, studying him. "How'd you know?" He asked. He thought he kept it a very well hidden secret. Even Fred didn't know…
Katie smiled. "I'm a girl, George, we know these things. Except Angelina, she's pretty blind. Only has one thing on her mind lately and if it has nothing to do with Quidditch then it's not important in her book."
George rolled his eyes. "Thanks for the pep talk." Katie shrugged a shoulder. George did his best to ignore the twisting and turning feeling that plagued his stomach every time he looked at them. His lip curled when she laughed at something Fred said. Absentmindedly he ran a hand across his stomach, feeling the little dips and grooves of his abs. He was getting to where he wanted to be but he wasn't close.
Maybe if he got his body in shape to a certain point Angelina would look twice at him.
"Will you excuse me?" George asked, standing. Katie gave him a warning look which he laughed at. "I'll be back," he told her and he dashed up the stairs towards the common room.
Katie sighed and dipped her quill in ink, almost knocking the bottle over when Alicia plopped down on the couch next to her; a knowing look was on her face. "Stop looking at me like that," Katie groaned.
"Trying to sabotage your own friend," Alicia sighed, shaking her head. "Katie, Katie, Katie, a boy's not worth it. Angelina's your friend, our best friend."
"I know," Katie replied. "It's just…I don't know what he sees in her that he doesn't see in me," she finished with a soft sigh.
Chapter 18: Up to No Good...
Fred quietly got out of bed one morning, careful not to wake the others. With a heavy sigh he changed his clothes as quietly as possible and left the dormitories. He glanced out the window on the stairs and looked off in the distance in the direction of Hogsmeade. It was getting close to the time where they could start visiting the popular village once more but Fred was considering not going. It wasn't fun going without George and so far George has kept his word on not talking to him.
He didn't think it would be this hard; not talking to his brother, but it was like not having half of his heart. George wasn't just his twin, he was his other half. No one knew him as well as George did, even if they tried to pick his brain they wouldn't be able to understand their connection. It was as if they could speak with each other without having to open their mouths.
It was the only way they could terrorize Ron when they were younger. Winter was the best time to do so because they were always stuck in the house. They got too antsy which in turn meant that they would pick on Ron, turning his teddy bear into a spider, building an Exploding Snap card house on top of him while he slept; little things that got a laugh out of them despite them being punished by their mother.
Fred breathed onto the window that he was standing in front of and, solemnly drew a frowny face on it. It disappeared as time passed until the window was clear again, as if the face never existed. Much like how Fred felt at the moment, that, according to George, he didn't exist. Sure, Fred had said it first, but he didn't mean it. He never meant an ill thing he said towards George but, this one time, George took it to heart.
And Fred still didn't know why.
Fred lumbered into the Common Room and took a look around. It was nearly empty, which didn't surprise Fred. He normally wasn't up that early in the morning. He joined Alicia by the fire, collapsing onto the couch. She had a large book in her lap. Her hair was pulled back and piled onto her head and a few strands fell into her face which she constantly brushed away. Fred chuckled in amusement.
"What's so amusing?" Alicia asked without looking up from her book.
"You are," Fred replied with a yawn. "What're you doing up so early?"
"I couldn't get any studying done," she replied. "The girls were up all night talking about Merlin knows what. I decided I could get some studying in before the weekend rush." She finally looked up at him, her hazel eyes twinkling. "Why are you up so early?"
Fred shrugged. "I don't know," he replied. "I've been having trouble sleeping lately."
"Long nights filled with experimenting?" Alicia questioned, finally lifting her head to look at him.
His eyes squinted slightly and then he shook his head. "No, I'm not…I haven't been in the mood," he replied and cleared his throat. Alicia nodded and went back to reading her book. Fred stretched out on the couch and looked up at the ceiling while the pages in Alicia's book steadily turned. "What're you reading?" He finally asked, breaking the silence.
He didn't expect Alicia to answer him. Whenever her nose was buried in a book it was hard to get her attention but she closed the book with a lazy wave of her wand and it closed with a loud snap. She let out a soft sigh and turned to look at him. He slowly pulled his knees towards his chest while she stood and sat in the space that had formed. The look on her face was beginning to scare him, and he didn't scare that easily.
She looked down at her folded hands and then looked up at him, looking him right in his brown eyes. She let out a sigh again and rested a hand on his knee. "Fred," she said slowly. "There's something wrong with George." Fred didn't reply. His heart was beating hard against his chest. Blood pumped in his ears as he strained to hear what she had to say. "It's something bigger than you two being in a fight, but that is something wrong all in its own. He's been acting differently. Have you noticed?"
Fred fought the urge to roll his eyes and laugh in Alicia's face. Of course he noticed something different about George. Just because they weren't talking didn't mean he ignored his brother altogether. Being the oldest is was Fred's job to make sure that nothing harmed George or his younger siblings. "I guess," he finally replied after a few minutes of silence. "I've noticed he has a weaker bladder than usual," he added with a little laugh. The situation wasn't funny but the idea of it was.
"That's what I've noticed as well," Alicia agreed with a nod. "Whenever I've asked he said he's been ill or he ate something bad. He makes a lot of excuses."
"Well, would you like to share the reason why you go to the bathroom?" Fred asked with a lifted eyebrow. "Specifically around the beginning of the month every month?"
Alicia's cheeks blossomed red and she slapped his knee hard. He grabbed his knee as it started to throb in pain but his smile got bigger. He hadn't smiled that much in a long time. Not without… He cleared his head of the thought before it even finished completely. He didn't want to ruin his mood.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Fred apologized, pressing his hands together. "Now, what was it you were going on about, Miss Spinnet?"
Alicia rolled her eyes. "George is usually a bottomless pit when he eats, much like Ron, I've noticed. You are too. Lately, he hasn't been eating much at all, but when he does, he eats a lot. He doesn't take breaks in between, he just…keeps going. As if in a race. He's working out a bit more, as well. I've never seen him work so hard during Quidditch practices. Sometimes I see him out on the pitch hours after practices are over."
"I don't blame him," Fred replied. "We have to make sure we're in top shape if we want to beat Slytherin this year and make sure we don't get knocked out of the House Cup too early."
"But Fred, it's excessive," Alicia replied. She looked out the window behind his head and a faraway look came to her eyes. "I stay up waiting for him to come back. Sometimes he's not back until three in the morning."
"So? He can do whatever he wants. I don't—" Fred's words were cut off at the sudden contraction of his stomach. He could feel his stomach bubbling and turning. He crossed his arms over his stomach as if that would keep whatever it was that was trying to come out stay down. He felt an odd sensation in the back of his throat, as if something was trying to be shoved down it.
"Fred?" Alicia said his name, worry lacing her words. "Fred, what's wrong?"
Fred swung his feet to the ground to try and get up but he felt too dizzy. His stomach was tossing and turning. He felt stomach acid in the back of his mouth. He tried to swallow it down but the coppery taste got stronger. The next thing he knew his head was in between his knees and his dinner from the knight before was on the floor, forming a puddle between his feet. He lifted his head slightly only to bend over once more as more digested food pushed its way through his lips.
He gave out a little cough and hung his head while waiting for more food to come up. When it didn't he lifted his head and blinked his watery eyes. A few tears slipped down his cheeks but he brushed them away, ignoring the sting in the back of his throat.
"Evanesco," Alicia muttered, waving her wand. In an instant the puddle went away and he was all cleaned up. "Are you alright?" She asked, putting a hand on his shoulder.
"Yeah…" Fred replied, breathing heavily and holding his stomach. "Yeah, I—I'm fine." His body trembled slightly from the force of pushing up his food and he didn't speak until he stopped shaking. "That was odd," he mused.
"What was?" Alicia asked.
"I felt fine and then, suddenly, my stomach started tossing," Fred replied. "It felt like…something was being forced down my throat and the next thing I knew…my dinner was on the floor."
"Some kind of magic?" Alicia asked as she looked around, as if someone would show up from around the corner.
"No, I don't think that was it," Fred replied, still clutching his stomach. A sudden overwhelming feeling of guilt washed over him. His eyebrows crinkled together in confusion. Lately he hasn't had any control over his emotions at all.
He was beginning to think he was crazy.
George's chest heaved as he touched one edge of the Quidditch pitch before turning and running back in the direction that he came in. He's been on the pitch, running back and forth for a while now. He got up early every morning to run wherever his legs took him. By the time he got back to the castle he didn't feel hungry anymore so he would shower, change, and get to his classes.
George liked how empty the grounds were in the mornings. His shoes crunched with every step he took on the dewy grass. His breath formed small clouds in front of his face every time he exhaled. His cheeks stung from the chilly, biting air but it made him feel alive.
Finally George touched the other end of the pitch and slowed down to a walk, resting his hands on his hips while he walked around. His heart beat hard against his chest and he couldn't help but smile. He loved that feeling, it made him feel alive.
He moved his hands from his hips to his stomach and his smile got bigger. After days of working out and working hard he could feel results. All that he needed now was for everyone to realize that he and Fred were two different people and, hopefully, get a date with Angelina. They were good friends, he rationalized, it shouldn't be too hard. It seemed like she liked him more than she liked Fred anyhow.
As George stood and started working on some stationary stretches he looked up and saw the large three-goal hoops tower over him. They sparkled like they were covered in diamonds as the sun rose over the pitch.
A smile tugged at his lips as he thought back to the many Quidditch games he played over the years. It faded slightly as memories came to his mind, memories that Fred was a part of just because they were the two beaters on the team.
George laughed at the thought that they weren't even thinking of trying out for the Quidditch team when their older brother, Charlie, told them that they were the new beaters on the team. They were in their second year and Charlie was in his seventh and, at the time, he was the captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team.
Fred and George wanted to wreak some havoc so they snuck into the tryouts and tried to bewitch the bludger bats into attacking the Beaters instead of the bluders. While they tried two bludgers were released from the box and sent flying their way. They used the Beater bats as protection and sent the two bludgers flying, grabbing Charlie's attention and earning a spot on the team in that instant. They grew to love the sport and stayed on the team from that moment on.
George blinked and turned away from the goal posts, taking the long walk back up to the castle. He waved to Hagrid on his way up to the castle. He passed through the Entrance Courtyard and through the archway of the large castle when he stumbled across the large gathering of students in the foyer.
"What's going on?" George asked, once he had spotted Lee in the crowd and forced his way to the front.
"Read," Lee simply replied and pointed.
George looked up and groaned when he saw another Educational Decree plaque hanging on the wall. He squinted and managed to make out the words on the latest news bulletin:
Educational Decree No. 23
Dolores Jane Umbridge has been appointed to the post of Hogwarts' High Inquisitor
"Give the bat more power," George groaned.
"You're going to want to look at that one, mate," Lee sighed, pointing at a different one.
George followed his friend's finger and this time read the plaque out loud: "Educational Decree No. 30: All Weasley products will be…banned immediately!" George spluttered. That couldn't happen, not after all their hard work.
"They can't do this!" Fred roared. His yell seemed to break the spell over the crowds and they all took a step back, forming a circle around Fred and George. George turned to look at his twin, noticing an expressionless mask on Fred's face as Fred looked back at him. George cleared his throat and turned away, scanning the other plaques that were on the wall before looking at Fred again.
"No," George said slowly. "They can't," he agreed.
A smile flitted across Fred's face but it disappeared as fast as it formed. Katie, who was standing nearby, let out a very soft sigh of relief, her shoulders slumping. On either side of her Angelina and Alicia smiled at each other.
Fred gave a very subtle tilt to his head but George caught it and nodded, also subtly. The crowd parted as the two moved, as if in unison, away from the group. They took the stairs two at a time, making sure to time their ascent with the changing staircase.
"Where were you?" Fred asked over his shoulder.
"Quidditch pitch," George replied, following his twin. "Why?"
"You smell like it, mate," was all Fred replied. With his back to George he couldn't see the smile that had formed on Fred's face as he tried not to laugh out loud.
"Git," George muttered under his breath. Fred gave the Fat Lady the password and they entered the Common Room. Fred checked around to make sure the coast was clear before turning back to his brother.
"You can still consider me, or not consider me for this matter, your brother, but you're the only one who can help me with this," Fred said before George could even speak up. "After this is all done we can go back to not talking if you want, but I'll need your help. I…I can't do this alone."
George's ears buzzed. Fred never admitted that he needed him before, even though George always knew he wanted to hear that he was needed at least once in his life. Now that he finally heard it he couldn't believe it but he could tell by the way his twin's brown eyes were boring into him that he meant every word.
George nodded and licked his lips. "Do you have a plan?"
"I was hoping you had one," Fred admitted.
George rubbed his chin."Let's see, Exploding Snap cards? No that'd—"
"—Not leave a lasting effect, yeah," Fred finished form him. George bit his lip to keep from smiling this time. It was a comforting thought to know that their minds were back in sync. "Gobstones?"
"What would you want to do? Enchant them to follow her? That's too juvenile," George replied with an eye roll. "We need to do something big. If our Defense Against the Dark Arts class is any example, the Ol' Bat is going to be a massive pain in the arse, which needs to be stopped but only with the best plan to make sure she gets the point."
"Ah, so it looks like this is going to take a while," Fred sighed, crossing his arms over his chest. "How much time do we have?"
"Until N.E.W.T.S, possibly the new term," George replied, calculating in his head. "I have an idea…if you want to hear it," George said slowly.
Fred's eyebrows lifted. "Of course, Georgie, lay it on me," Fred replied, prompting him to speak. Fred was starting to get frustrated with George, but he couldn't blame him. Usually their plans started with an idea that Fred had that George managed to bring to life, with tweaks and modifications on Fred's part. That's how they always worked; it was a little out of the ordinary to hear that George had an idea.
"What if all of this was to, say, blow up in her face?" George asked slowly, lifting an eyebrow.
Fred's smile split his face. "What do you have in mind?"
"I think we need to have a little talk with Seamus," George replied.
That way he had a valid excuse to skip breakfast.
Chapter 19: Girls...
"I think things have finally gone back to normal," Angelina said happily. She, Kate, and Alicia were walking down the slopes of the vast lawn to find a place to sit and do their homework. It was a beautiful day and they didn't want to spend it inside the castle when the weather was perfect.
"Nothing's normal around here, Ange," Katie pointed out with a laugh as the girls set their things down and sat down on the grass. Katie reached forward and took off her shoes and socks and smiled at the feeling of the soft grass tickling her feet.
"I mean with Fred and George," Angelina corrected herself with a small roll of her eyes.
"You noticed as well?" Alicia asked. When Angelina and Katie nodded she continued speaking. "I'm glad they're finally speaking again. Who knew it would take a toad such as Umbridge to make that happen?"
"You can't call her that," Katie said in a hushed whisper.
"Oh, relax! It's not like she's out here," Angelina said with a roll of her eyes. "And don't tell me you think her rules—I'm sorry, decrees—are something you jump up and down about."
"Of course not, I think they aren't needed," Katie replied. "What harm are Fred and George's snacks doing, anyhow? Some people need to take mental days; I don't see the problem with it. I'm just saying we shouldn't call her a toad…despite looking like one."
Angelina and Alicia laughed as Katie brushed her blonde hair behind her ears. She leaned back until she was lying down on the grass, her arms resting behind her head. Screw studying and doing homework, she just wanted to spend the time enjoying the weather with her friends. But something kept bugging her.
It wasn't necessarily weird that Fred and George started talking again. A common enemy bonds even the most estranged friends. It was weird how they stopped talking in the first place. They've never gotten into bad fights before so something must've triggered it.
"Whew," Alicia muttered, rubbing her arms. A biting chill had just rustled the grass. The sun was strong enough that the wind wasn't too cold but it was noticeable. "It's getting colder," she commented. "That means it's close to our first Hogsmeade trip."
"Oh, I can't wait," Angelina gushed, putting down her quill. "I really want a Butterbeer and I want to see if I can get more quills. Mine seem to keep disappearing."
"Gee, I wonder who the culprit is," Alicia said with a roll of her eyes. Angelina and Katie didn't even need to ask who she was referring to. Whenever something went missing they usually turn up later as part of a prank by Fred, Lee, and George.
"So, are you going to ask anyone to go to Hogsmeade with you?" Angelina asked Alicia, wiggling her eyebrows.
"What? No," Alicia laughed. "Who would I ask?"
"I don't know. Maybe Liam in Ravenclaw," Angelina replied, staring at Alicia hard while Alicia's cheeks blossomed red. Katie sat up and looked at her friend.
"Wait a tick, you like Liam?" Katie asked, her mouth falling open.
"Maybe," Alicia squirmed. "Why? Is that a bad thing?" She asked, her eyes widening in fear. "I mean, he's really nice and he knows his stuff."
"So I guess that's why he was put into Ravenclaw, huh, Leese?" Katie joked.
"What about you?" Alicia asked, turning the tables on her.
Katie's heart fell. She knew what Alicia was getting at. Even thinking about asking George to Hogsmeade would be painful because she knew that he'd want to go with Angelina. Alicia knew how Katie felt about him, why bring it up in front of Angelina?
Katie stalled while pulling at an invisible string on the bottom of her skirt. It was hard liking George, especially since he liked Angelina so much. Angelina was her friend—her best friend—and it seemed like she always got something that Katie wanted.
Angelina was great at Charms and Ancient Runes, two classes that Katie struggled in. Angelina made them seem so simple. She was even a better Chaser than Katie was. Well, Katie had to give herself credit, she did get the team out of sticky situations sometimes in time for Harry to get the snitch and help them win. She even became a sort of manager of the team to Oliver's persuasion. Who else was going to make sure that he didn't lose his cool on everyone when one small thing went wrong?
"Little Katie has her eye on some bloke?" Angelina asked with a laugh. She nudged Katie's arm. "Who is he, then?" Katie fought the frown that was coming to her mouth. It was one thing for her to be surprised that she liked a guy but it was another for her to put her age down. Or maybe she was being too sensitive…? Alicia quickly looked at Katie and then looked away. "Come on, come on."
"Actually," Katie said slowly, a plan forming in her mind. "I was thinking about asking Oliver. He should be able to get one day off, right?"
Angelina looked at her as if she had grown a second head. "Wood? That Oliver? Oliver Wood?" She asked.
"Yes," Kate replied simply. "Why, is that a problem?" Alicia lifted her eyebrows at Katie's tone as Angelina continued to look flabbergasted.
"Wha…no, it's not a problem. It's just…I didn't think you fancied Wood," Angelina replied. "I thought you always thought he was a raging Quidditch-loving lunatic."
"On most occasions I do think that," Katie replied. "But on others I think his determination is very…fetching."
"Who are you and what have you done with Katie?" Angelina asked.
Katie wanted to laugh. Sure she thought those things about Oliver once before but she didn't fancy him much, not like George. She just wanted to spend a day in Hogsmeade with a friend and she and Oliver have kept in touch as soon as he had graduated. What was the harm in that? Apparently a lot considering Angelina looked as if she were about to blow her top.
"What's the big deal, Ange?" Alicia asked, trying to diffuse the situation. "They're just friends.
"Right, we're just friends," Katie agreed.
"I wanted to spend the first Hogsmeade weekend with just us girls," Angelina replied. She brightened in almost an instant. "But, if Oliver comes, I can talk to him about the Quidditch season and how to hold proper tryouts and what plays to use and—"
"Oh no! Run, Katie, it's Oliver Jr.!" Alicia laughed, grabbing her books. She and Katie gathered their things and ran away laughing.
"Oi, wait for me you too!" Angelina yelled, scrambling to get her things and get to her feet. "You two aren't funny!"
Chapter 20: Awakening…
George gripped his stomach. Maybe skipping breakfast wasn't a good idea. He could practically feel his stomach turning inside out from hunger. He swallowed and tried to get himself to pay attention to whatever it was that Professor Umbridge was telling them but it was impossible for him to listen to her voice. It was about the same frequency that dogs could hear, it hurt his ears so much. And it wasn't like she was actually teaching them anything. They weren't even allowed to bring their wands to class anymore. George felt like he was a First Year student again.
George very lightly turned his head when he felt a nudge in his side. Fred was resting with his arms and chin on his desk. Being crouched down at the back of the room helped them get away with talking on most occasions. Umbridge hadn't said anything if she ever caught them or not.
"Are you alright?" Fred asked. George fought the urge to roll his eyes. That's the only thing that came out of Fred's mouth lately. He appreciated that his brother cared but he was caring a bit too much.
"Yeah, just a little hungry," George replied, his lips barely moving.
"I can fetch something for you," Fred told him, his lips also barely moving.
"You'll get in trouble."
"Not if you create a diversion."
"Right, then." George slowly lifted his wand out of a concealed pocket in his robes. He held it under his desk, pointing it at a book that Umbridge had given them at the start of class, Dark Arts Defense: Basics for Beginners. George wanted to hit the ol' bat with it as soon as he saw it. Once her back was turned he quietly whispered, "Expulso." The book exploded with a loud bang and caused the Hufflepuff student who was sitting behind it to fall backwards in his chair. George pressed his lips together to keep from laughing out loud at the stunned look on Umbridge's face. He could hear Fred laughing quietly next to him as he slipped off his chair. "Expulso. Expulso. Expulso."
One by one books on their desks exploded, some explosions were bigger than others. One explosion, for example, knocked a Slytherin student into the wall that he was sitting next to, causing books to fall off of the shelves.
"Order! Order! I will have order!" Umbridge shrieked as some of the female students' shrieks got louder when the books started to explode near them. All the while George was chuckling. He wiped his smile off of his face when he saw Angelina whip her head around and glare in their general direction. Finally the commotion died down. A pungent smell of gunpowder drifted past his nose as burned remains of books lay on the table in perfect circles as if a bomb went off. At the front of the room Umbridge's face matched the color of her pink robes and her chest was heaving as her beady eyes moved around the room to find the culprit. "Who dares to disrupt my class?" Umbridge demanded.
"Don't you know? The Weasley Twins are always the culprit when something goes wrong around here," A pinch-faced Slytherin said as he turned in his chair to look at George.
George made a face at the Slytherin student and wiped his face clean. "How could I have done it? I don't have my wand on me. Last I checked it was forbidden to have our wands in a Defense Against the Dark Arts calls," George said as innocently as he could, putting emphasis on certain words to help Umbridge realize how ridiculous her rules were.
Umbridge's lips twitched as she tried to find something to say. Her eyes never left his face until she turned around and stalked to the front of the room. "Twenty points from Gryffindor for the interruption," she barked.
George's mouth dropped open. "That's not fair!" He cried out among the other Gryffindors in the room.
"And Mr. Weasley I'll see you in detention," Umbridge added.
"What? Me? Why?"
"I've been told specifically by Mr. Filch about you and your brother," Umbridge replied, waving her wand. The pile of ashes that used to be their book pressed together and formed a brand new version of their books, as if they weren't left in a smoldering pile of ash in the first place. A sinister smile formed on her face but, to anyone else, it would've looked like a sweet smile. "Many things," she clarified at the confused look on George's face. "And I know that you have something to do with this disruption as well as trying to cover up the disappearance of the other Mr. Weasley."
"What do you mean?" Fred asked so suddenly that George almost jumped. He didn't even notice that Fred had gotten back to his seat, which meant he did his job well, but at what price? "I've been sitting here the whole time."
"Twenty more points from Gryffindor for lying," Umbridge announced, causing the Gryffindor students to groan again. This time Angelina shot a fiery glare in Fred's direction, which was nothing new. It didn't faze him as he resumed his position on his desk, this time rolling his eyes. "Now, as I was saying about the Stunning Spell…"
"Sorry," Fred whispered. Underneath the table he pressed a Pumpkin Pasty into George's hand. "I can help get you out of Detention."
"No, it's alright. What's she going to make me do? Alphabetize our drawer in Filch's office for every little thing we did wrong?" George asked with a roll of his eyes. "It shouldn't be too bad."
"But with the way Angelina was glaring at is she made it look like you killed her parents," Fred replied. "Oh, Quidditch," he said nonchalantly. Angelina had been acting a bit like Oliver Wood since she was made Captain but a bit more on the bite side. However, it didn't scare Fred and George since they knew her weaknesses and knew how to give out "The Weasley Charm" to off-put her anger. "You might be late?"
"Doubtful, this is my last class. I can just do detention and then go right out to Quidditch after that," George replied. He tilted his head and feigned to wipe it and took a bite of his Pumpkin Pasty. His stomach constricted at the food that went down but he kept it down and gave Fred a thankful smile. On top of his desk his free hand started to curl and his knuckles drummed against the table. His lips quivered slightly and he pulled the bottom one between his teeth to keep from puking right then and there. Come on, you have to keep it down or else Fred will get suspicious,' he told himself.
Time in the class dragged by. George felt like a wanted criminal by the way Umbridge kept looking at him. He did make books explode, but it was a little joke He didn't splinch someone's arm off and beat them over the head with it. He curled his lip in disgust whenever she called on him, as if waiting to catch him off guard. Just because he didn't like to study didn't mean he didn't know what was going on. He answered every question with ease, practically repeating the text word from word. His frowned turned to a smirk every time he answered a question right and the smile on her face turned sour.
"I'm telling you, she has it out for you," Lee said as he, Fred, and George left the dark classroom.
"She's just a sour old toad," Fred added. "Do you want me to talk to her?" he asked, lightly nudging George.
George shook his head. "I can handle it," he replied.
"Hey, you never finished your pasty," Fred noted.
"Saving it for later," George replied. "I had an upset stomach. Something I ate last night, I think."
"But…you didn't eat much."
Internally George started to panic. He was slipping up. "I ate something after everyone went to bed." He lowered his voice so only Fred could hear him over the other students. "I snuck into the kitchens. The elves were happy to give me something extra but I'm kind of worried about where it's been."
Fred laughed. "OK, we're going to wreak some havoc. If you're late to practice I'll try and talk Angelina down."
"Thanks mate." George turned right back around and went into the classroom. He took the few set of stairs and knocked on the door. He heard a very soft and muffled answer so he entered. The sight of the lace and the moving kitten pictures along the pink wall made him want to throw-up right then and there. He looked around at the room of pink in horror as Umbridge calmly poured sugar into her tea and then stirred it. "Look, can we get this over with? I have Quidditch practice," George said impatiently.
Umbridge smiled at him in a way that made his skin crawl. "Ah, Mr. Weasley, please take a seat," she said, indicating to the lone desk and chair that was in front of her desk.
He collapsed into it with a thud, glaring at her. She got up and slowly walked over to him. "The one thing I won't accept is someone disrupting my class, but I always don't accept pranks or jokes of any kind."
"More like any fun of any kind," George muttered under his breath. He was already bored and he hadn't done anything yet.
Umbridge paused but continued. "I want you to write 'I must not pull pranks'," she said as she presented him with a piece of paper and a quill.
"How many lines?" George asked. Most teachers made him write something at least twenty times and then clean something wandless. He was a fast writer and he figured he could knock them both out easily.
The malicious smile returned to her lips. "Until it sinks in," she replied.
"You won't need it."
"Mental, that one is," George muttered before pressing his quill to the paper. A few scratches into the surface and he felt a strange prickly feeling in the back of his left hand. He ignored it and kept writing, but the prickling to worse. He looked at his hand and saw that the back of it was red when it was pale skin before. Shrugging, he went back to work, writing. This time he sucked in his breath when he felt like the back of his hand had been cut open with a needle. Words in shiny, red ink started to form on the paper. George's eyebrows crinkled together as he studied the quill, wondering where the red ink came from.
He made another scratched to start the next line and let out a startled cry of pain. He looked at the back of his hand and saw a scratch; little beads of blood already made it to the surface and were starting to blend together. At the pause in scratching Umbridge lifted her head and looked at George.
"Is there a problem, Mr. Weasley?" She asked.
George bit his lip to keep himself from going off on the woman so he went back to writing. The more he wrote the more the phrase was scratched into the back of his hand. After a while it felt like someone was pouring hot water onto the back of his hand. Blood was slowly dripping onto the desk and by the time Umbridge stopped him it was curled into a fist, one he wanted to smash into her face.
As soon as he left the classroom the school bell grabbed his attention. "Oh great," he groaned, grabbing his stomach as it screamed for food. He'd have to miss lunch now and go straight to Quidditch practice. As he walked down the slopes of the lawn towards the Quidditch pitch he tried to think of the best spell to make his 'injury' less noticeable, at least that's what he planned on referring to his hand.
He quickly changed into his uniform and grabbed his broom. He got to the back of the crowd this team had formed as soon as Angelina wrapped up her speech. George heard it a million times before but Ron, being new to the team as their Keeper, was listening as if Angelina's speech was riveting.
"It's about time you showed up," she commented. Everyone's eyes turned to George who leaned against his broom nonchalantly.
"I felt like skipping the lecture. You tend to repeat things that Wood has said and I'm not really fond of hearing it again," he explained. "So, you ready to fly everyone?"
George took the Beater bat that Fred was holding out to him and straddled his brook. With one hard kick off the ground he was in the air, the wind whistled in his ears as he quickly climbed up into the sky. He loved the feeling of being on a brook and in the air. There was nothing more freeing than that.
"Hey, how was detention?" Fred asked, flying near him.
"Not too bad," George replied with a shrug. "She made me write lines." He felt a pang of guilt for lying to Fred's face, but it wasn't a complete lie. He did write lines. Fred didn't need to know about the rest.
"What'd she make you write?" Fred asked.
"'I must not pull pranks'," George replied. "Come on, it wasn't even intended to be a prank. It was supposed to be a diverse but of course ol' Toad Face doesn't know the difference."
"Hey, Weasleys," Angelina called from her broomstick.
"Yes, Madam Captain?" Fred asked. Next to him, George snickered. Fred felt his heart swell. It was good to be talking and joking with George again. Fred had felt like half of him was missing when they weren't talking.
"Cute," Angelina mumbled. "We have a match to prepare for! Pay attention, please."
The twins smirked at each other before wheeling their brooms around and racing around the pitch going in two different directions. They eventually turned it into a race, who could reach a certain goal post first, or who could hit this one Bludger first? It was fun that Fred hadn't had at Qudittich practice in a while and it relaxed him, more than going to Hogsmeade did or a lazy Saturday on the lawn near the lake.
Fred quickly rolled over his broom, much like a sloth, until he was sitting upright on it again. He heard George's unmistakable laughter. Music to his ears. "What're you laughing at, Gred, you could've killed me!" Fred yelled to him.
"Wouldn't have to worry about it if you were paying attention," George replied.
"We'll see who's paying attention," Fred muttered, grabbing the handle of his broom and racing off. He searched around for the nearest Bludger to hit at George to get him back. He found one hurtling towards Katie who was racing with the Quaffle past Angelina and Katie who tried to block her while Harry circled above, looking for the snitch.
Fred brought his arm back and swung. With a successful crack the bat hit the ball and was sent flying at George. Fred laughed at George's surprised face but the look instantly disappeared when it hit George's hand and he clutched it to his chest.
"I'm sorry, Georgie, I was just joking around," Fred apologized as he followed George to the ground. Above him Angelina's whistle sounded and the next thing he knew he was surrounded by scarlet and gold on the ground.
"Oh, it's just a scratch," George said as he waved his hand, as if to flick the blood off. Fred's eyebrows crinkled together. He knew the Bludger hit his twin but he didn't think it was hard enough to cause him to bleed like that.
"Let me see," Angelina said, pushing forward.
"No, I got it," Katie said quickly, taking out her wand. She grasped George's hand and tapped the back of it lightly. "Tergeo."
George tensed as the blood was sucked off the back of his hand and into the wand. He quickly pulled his hand out of Katie's grip but gave her a smile. Fred noticed a hurt look flashed in her eyes before it was quickly replaced with a smile in return.
"Are you alright?" Alicia asked George. When he nodded she rounded on Fred. "You shouldn't have done that!"
"But I—" Fred started, his mouth falling open.
"I don't care if it was a joke! He could've really gotten hurt!"
"Wha-? But I—he…he started!" Fred spluttered, pointing at George.
"Yeah, Leese, it was all my fault," George jumped in. "I shouldn't have provoked him. I not hurt, really. I'm fine."
"Yeah, but in this case I'm finishing practice now just in case you two decide to behead each other for fun," Angelina replied, picking up her broom and walking off with Alicia and Katie. Katie gave George a little wave over her shoulder.
"I think she fancies you," Fred told him while watching Harry and Ron walk off. Ron glanced at them over his shoulder and Fred pulled a face, causing Ron to quickly turn back around.
"Who?" George asked.
"Katie," Fred replied. "It's obvious."
"Kate?" George repeated and then he shook his head. "Nah, we're just friends."
"That doesn't matter, I still think she fancies you. She was quick to help her Ickle Georgie," Fred said, pinching George's cheek. "Which is another matter. Your hand—"
"Oh, the Bludger just grazed me, that's all," George replied. "Come on; let's get back to the castle before Ron eats everything. You know his appetite."
"Yeah…" Fred said slowly, following his brother back to the castle. They dropped their brooms off in a closet along the way and raced each other back to the castle. Fred went straight to dinner in the Great Hall but George decided to take a shower first. He finally came back when the dessert came out.
"Huh, guess I was in the shower longer than I thought," George muttered as Fred pushed a large bowl of pudding in front of him.
"Saved you your favorite dessert," Fred said proudly. George smiled his thanks and took a spoonful. "So I was thinking, about our snacks, maybe we can do something on the funny side. Like, make some that will give people acne that spell words like 'git' or 'prat' on their forehead." Fred looked up when he noticed that George hadn't said anything and laughed when he saw George wolfing down his dessert. "Whoa, George. You're acting like you've never eaten before."
George paused with his tongue on his spoon. Lee, Alicia, and Katie were laughing while Angelina frowned at them. She seemed to be doing that a lot lately, as if Quidditch took away her funny bone. George blushed and put his spoon down, wiping his mouth with his bandaged hand.
"The food here's really good, almost better than Mum's," he explained.
"Don't let her hear you say that," Alicia laughed. "I went to their house for Christmas one time and every time we weren't eating she'd try to give me more food. I swear, she was trying to fatten me up."
"Mum gets a little overzealous when people come over," George explained. "She likes for them to feel right at home."
"Ok, well, enough of this chit-chat. Lee, George, we have some business to do," Fred said as he got up from the table. "I'll see you lovely ladies later," he added with a wink in the girls' direction. Katie and Alicia smiled and waved them goodbye while Angelina scowled and stabbed her fork into her mini gelatin mold.
Lee, George, and Fred and made it through the portrait hole when they were stopped by Hermione. Her arms were crossed over her chest and her jaw was clenched. "Whoa, she looks like Mum did the time we bewitched mud to fly around the house," Fred muttered.
"And we only wanted to give the Burrow some color," George agreed.
Lee shrank away from Hermione's gaze. Behind her Harry and Ron stood, looking uncomfortable. Fred gave Hermione his best charming smile. "To what do we owe this pleasure?" He asked her.
"George?" She asked, looking back and forth between the twins.
"Yes?" The twins asked simultaneously.
A muscle in Hermione's jaw jumped. "What happened to his hand?" Hermione asked, nodding towards George.
"Bludger accident," George and Fred replied in unison.
"Ron says something different."
"Does he now?" George asked, turning to Ron.
"Yes, and I have an idea of what it is," Hermione continued. "If you'd let me see your hand."
"Why, Hermione, are you trying to ask me out? Is that why you want me hand?" George asked. Hermione huffed. "I'm flattered, Hermione, really I am, but you're just not my type. You're a little too much on the goody-goody side, you know?"
Fred made a snorting sound as he tried not to laugh. "Did you have detention today?" Hermione demanded.
"That's a little private—whoa!" Before George could even move Hermione dove for his hand and had his bandages on the floor in a matter of seconds. She grabbed his hand and held it out to the others.
"You see! I told you Harry," Hermione said triumphantly.
"Told you what?" George demanded, snatching his hand back.
"What was that?" Fred asked quietly. George turned his panicked eyes to his brother. Fred took his hand and looked at the back. He lightly traced his finger over the words that was carved into his skin. "Detention?" Fred asked. George took his hand away and nodded. "What did the bat do to you?"
"It's a Blood Quill," Harry spoke up. He lifted his hand as well.
At the confused look on Fred's face Hermione clarified, "A blood quill is a type of quill that does not require ink, as it writes with the blood of the person using it. What the user writes will be imprinted onto the back of their hand, and an amount of blood will be magically siphoned and be used as ink on the parchment. Continuous use of it will eventually scar the back of the hand."
"Do you have to go back?" Fred demanded.
George nodded. "A couple more times," he whispered.
"Over my dead body! This is ridiculous! We're students, not inmates! She has to be stopped, or taught a lesson."
"Our thoughts exactly," Hermione spoke up for Harry and Ron. "The first Hogsmeade weekend, we're holding a meeting for people who want to learn how to use defensive spells, all that bit. Would you two be interested?"
"Any way to get her out of here," George replied, rubbing the back of his hand.
"Quite right. Nobody hurts my brother and gets away with it," Fred replied. The look in his eye and the tone of his voice were so dark George actually shivered.
Chapter 21: Skin and Bones...
"Why are we going to the Hog's Head?" George asked Fred curiously as they walked down the snow-covered streets of the near-by village. He tightened his gold and red scarf around his neck before crossing his arms over his chest.
He cautioned a quick glance in Fred's direction before tears sprang to his eyes from the cold, biting wind. Fred looked comfortable while walking against the wind down the streets of Hogsmeade. The only sign of him being cold was the red tinge in his cheeks. George burrowed deeper into his sweater. No matter how many layers he wore he could feel the cold seeping into his skin.
"Hermione said to meet her there if we want to do something about Umbridge," Fred replied. "Whatever we devide she deserves what's coming to her." George grabbed onto Fred's sleeve. Fred looked past his brother's windswept hair and into his blue eyes. "What?" Fred asked, impatiently.
"You don't have to worry, I'm fine," George told him. He could see the fire in Fred's eyes die down a little bit. Fred pulled his arm out of George's grasp.
"I'm not," he replied. "No one hurts my family."
George rolled his eyes. "I'm your twin, not your baby brother—"
"You're younger than me, remember?"
"—so you don't have to freak out. My hand is feeling a lot better. I may have a scar but the distraction was worth it." He forced a smile. "You should've seen her face while the books exploded. I swore her face was going to stay in that position. Maybe we can make a sort of pastry that freezes people's faces. That sounds like a laugh, yeah?"
Fred cracked a smile. Before he could say anything else Lee rushed over to them. The bags in his arms were bursting with products and other merchandise from Zonko's. The trio stood in the middle of the streets, taking the time to look at the different items and tested them out to see what they would do. After a few minutes of standing outside they trooped into the Hog's Head and saw that it was already crowded.
"Oh, are we the last ones?" Fred asked over the noise as they tried to find a seat. He then noticed the slightly annoyed look on Hermione's face of being the last ones to arrive. "Sorry, about that. We have some unfinished business to take care of." Then he took a look around the room before noticing the barman in the corner. Before anyone could move he reached the bar. "Hi, could we have…twenty-five butterbeers, please?" He asked, doing a quick headcount. He waited patiently for the barman to bring out the drinks which he and George passed around. "Cheers," he said happily. "Cough up, everyone. I haven't got enough gold for all of these…"
"Speaking of, you still owe me for the last butterbeer," Angelina spoke up before taking a sip.
"Why don't you go on a date with me and we'll call it even?" He asked with a wink. She scoffed and shook her head while Alicia and Katie laughed softly on either side of her. Fred and George quickly took their seats as Hermione stood and looked around the room.
"Well…erm…well, you know why you're here," Hermione started, her voice shaky. "Erm…well, Harry here had the idea –– I mean –– I had the idea –– that it might be good if people who wanted to study Defense Against the Dark Arts –– and I mean, really study it, you know, not the rubbish that Umbridge is doing with us because nobody could call that Defense Against the Dark Arts. Well, I thought it would be good if we, well, took matters into our own hands." By the time Hermione stopped speaking she was wringing her hands despite her voice being strong and confident. She paused and looked at Harry. "And by that I mean learning how to defend ourselves properly, not just theory but the real spells—"
Fred and George sat back in their seats, listening carefully as an argument broke out by some Hufflepuff named Zacharias Smith and Ron. George stifled a yawn. He's hears so many stories about the things that Harry has accomplished before, he didn't want to hear them again. He wanted to figure out what they were doing to take the old hag down and found out how he could help. It wasn't until Smith basically called Harry's bluff that George jumped into the conversation.
"Would you like us to clean out your ears for you?" George asked. He pulled a long and lethal-looking metal instrument out from his Zonko's bag.
A sinister smile formed on Fred's face. "Or any part of your body, really, we're not fussy about where we stick this," he added. Smith seemed to deflate under their stares and George smiled smugly. A few more arguments interrupted the meeting and the longer they dragged on the more restless George was becoming. He wanted to try out the products and get something to eat to squash the strange sensation of a rock sitting on his chest.
Finally they signed a piece of parchment, or contract as Hermione put it, and were on their way. Fred was talking excitedly about starting a revolution and all that but the only thing George was thinking about was getting some food and lots of it. His stomach twisted and turned, begging him to put something in it. He clenched his hands into fists and tried to squash the feeling. He was so close to his goal, he could feel it. He's felt better than he ever had in weeks. He was even doing better during Quidditch. With the weight he lost he could move around the pitch faster, something that Angelina has noticed.
"I don't know what you're doing George, but you should keep on doing it," she had said with a wide grin.
The comment was enough for him to continue on his path, but become a bit more discrete about it. Alicia was acting strangely around him, as if she suspected something. That in itself wasn't new, he was used to those looks. His mother and Hermione gave him that particular look all the time but it was Alicia. She was the Hermione of their year and if she suspected something was wrong she was sure to find a solution.
"Where are you going?" Fred asked suddenly when George started to go off down another hallway than the one he was turning into. "Let me guess, you feel sick again?"
George's eyebrows crinkled. "No, I have detention with Umbridge, remember?" He waved his left hand for emphasis. "I have two more and then I'm free from her clutches."
Fred frowned. "I can take your place. She won't ever know the difference." George firmly shook his head. "George, come on—"
"I can handle it, Fred. It's no big deal, alright?" He practically shoved his bag of Zonko's merchandise into his brother's arms. "I'll meet you at dinner."
"You won't be late this time?" Fred asked, studying his twin's eyes to see if he was hiding something, or trying to hide something.
"C'mon, let's get out of his wind," Angelina said over the whistling as she, Alicia, and Katie walked arm-in-arm down the streets of Hogsmeade Village. After the little meeting the girls had walked around, looking in the shops. They stopped in Gladrags to get a few new items for Angelina's wardrobe, Scrivenshaft's Quill Shop to get Alicia new quills, and the hairdresser for Katie. She now sported loose ringlets instead of her usual plait which hung down her back.
The three managed to maneuver themselves and their bags into the Three Broomsticks where a waiter came to take their order. They ordered three Butterbeers and waited for the feeling to return to their cheeks as the waiter went to get their drinks.
"That hairstyle's really cute, Kate," Alicia told her with a smile.
"Thanks," Katie beamed, running her fingers through her hair for the third time in the past ten minutes. "I really love it too."
"Don't forget to tie it back during our match against Slytherin. I don't want you getting distracted from hair in your face," Angelina warned her while drumming her fingers on the table top. "Gosh, I wish it were time for the match now. I can't wait another week! We're sure to crush them this year. Man, why did we have to go against them first?"
Angelina seemed to tune the other two out as Alicia and Katie carried on a conversation between each other, quietly. "I'm sure George will notice your hair," Alicia told Katie with a smirk. Katie smiled sheepishly while lowering her hand.
"You think?" Katie asked, wrinkling her nose. "I mean, boys can be oblivious sometimes….But I don't want him to think I changed it for him, because I didn't."
"I know, Kate, relax," Alicia laughed. "He'll love it."
"Hey," Angelina said so suddenly that the two jumped. "Whatever happened to you two having company, huh?" She lifted her eyebrows and waited for their explanations.
Katie bit her lip. She didn't really want to go to Hogsmeade with Oliver, it was just something she came up with on the spot to keep Angelina away from knowing that she was hoping to go with George. How would she be able to explain that? "Oh, um, Oliver ended up too busy to come. But he said to keep him posted on the team's Quidditch results." She gave an eyeroll for emphasis. He never really said those things but it is an Oliver-like thing to say.
"Liam already promised his friends that they'd hang out, but I convinced him to come to a meeting," Alicia explained, moving out of the way of the waiter who put down their glass mugs filled with Butterbeer. "He says he's excited to take Umbridge down."
"Next thing you know she's going to have rules against us breathing a certain way," Angelina grumbled before taking a hearty gulp. "Or we have to kiss her feet whenever she passes us in the halls." She made a face at the thought.
"Just makes me glad we're doing something about it," Katie sighed.
"I'm surprised Fred and George haven't gotten to her yet."
"Speaking of Fred and George," Alicia said quietly, leaning forward so her elbows were resting against the table. Instinctively, Katie and Angelina pushed their drinks aside and leaned forward as well so their heads were close to touching. It was the easiest way to talk to each other without someone overhearing. The closer they were, the quieter they could talk to each other. "I can't be the only one who's noticed that there's something different about George."
"Yeah, he's flying better than I've ever seen him," Angelina gushed. "Slytherin won't stand a chance!"
"Not everything's about Quidditch, Angie," Katie said with a small eyeroll and a playful flick to the forehead.
"Back to important matters!" Alicia huffed. "I've been watching him. He eats on some days, others he doesn't. He's working harder than I've ever seen him work in my life. He doesn't even work on schoolwork that hard, if at all."
"Yeah, and Fred's still slacking off as he usually does," Angelina muttered as she rubbed her chin. "What would cause the sudden change of heart?"
"I don't know," Alicia sighed.
"Wait…he's been going to the bathroom a lot more often," Katie sad slowly. Her eyes were crinkled in the corners while she looked deep in thought. "He keeps saying he's sick. George has never been sick a day in his life. At least, without the help of their Skiving Snackboxes."
"So, what do you think is wrong, if anything?" Angelina asked.
"Hard to say," Alicia replied. "I've been looking up his symptoms and I haven't found anything so far. The only thing I know is that it can't be good. The only thing we can do is watch him and make sure nothing happens. Meanwhile I'll continue to find out anything that I can. We shouldn't alert him to us worrying, yeah?"
"Yeah," Katie and Angelina replied in unison, reaching for their butterbeers. Their topic of conversation switched to their newly formed Anti-Umbridge group but Katie's mind was in a far off place.
George waved his stinging hand as he walked quickly through the hallways to get to the Great Hall. His stomach growled the entire time he served his detention and he was sure that The Troll was punishing him for it by keeping him later. He was sure he missed the chicken that was for dinner that night. He could still smell the savory meat down the hall as he got closer to the Great Hall. His stomach dropped when he saw that it was already time for dessert.
Grumpily, he pressed his hand to his stomach and plopped down in the free seat between Fred and Katie.
"I thought you said—" Fred started but George held up his hand to stop him.
"She held me over, that troll," George grumbled, reaching for the pie with his good hand. He turned to reach for his fork and noticed Katie was staring at him. "What are you looking at me like that for?" He asked, using his fork to cut a slice of pie.
"No reason," Katie said quickly, turning away and tucking her hair behind her ears.
"Oh-kaaaaay." George took a bite of his pie and closed his eyes at the taste. "I haven't eaten all day, sue me," he grumbled once he noticed his friends looking at him funny.
"Why's that?" Alicia asked, leaning forward in her seat.
"Lay off the man, Alicia," Lee spoke up. "He's been trying out the Snackboxes, of course he wouldn't have an appetite."
"Speaking of which," Fred said suddenly standing up. "George, I found a little…malfunction in one of the Fever Fudges and I wanted to test the others out to make sure they weren't bad."
George paused with another piece of pie close to his mouth. "What's supposed to happen if I eat one?"
"What makes you think I'm going to test it on you?" Fred asked innocently.
George scoffed. "Because I'm your brother."
Fred shrugged. "Good point." He grabbed George's arm and tugged him to his feet. George leaned over to get another bite of his pie. A troubled look formed on Fred's face which he quickly wiped away. His fingers wrapped around George's arm a little bit too easily.
Something was wrong.
"OK, I'm coming," George said with a full mouth as Fred started to pull him away. "Oh, Katie, I like what you did with your hair," he commented.
"She did something with her hair?" Fred paused, leaned over, and looked at Katie's head. "Oh yeah, looks nice," he said dismissively and pulled his brother out of the Great Hall. He managed to tug George all the way up the stairs to the Gryffindor Tower and into their dormitory.
"Geeze, something must be really wrong with the snacks," George commented.
"No, there's nothing wrong," Fred replied. "It's…she has a point."
George sat down on his bed and bent over to take off his shoe. "Who has a point about what?"
"Alicia," Fred replied. "She has a point about your eating habits."
George scoffed. "What about them?" He pulled his other shoe off and laid back on his bed.
"Well, sometimes you don't eat," Fred said slowly, watching his brother. "And, when you do you eat as if you've never seen food before. And you always go to the bathroom after you eat—"
"Since when's it against the law to go to the bathroom?" George asked with a hint of annoyance in his voice.
"It's not," Fred said quietly. "We're worried."
George let out an aggravated sigh. "I'm fine. I'm just…trying a different diet."
"For Quidditch. If you haven't noticed Ron's on the team and, I'm going to be honest, he's only slightly better than those blundering idiots that follow Malfoy around. He's going to need more defensive help and that's where we come along. I'm trying to protect his skin," George explained.
Fred lifted one eyebrow. "Since when do you protect Ron instead of letting him go down in flames by his own doing?"
George sat up and gave Fred his full attention. "Do you remember how nervous you were before your first match?" Fred remained silent. "It helped with Charlie being there for us. I think we should be there for him as well."
Fred sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "OK, whatever. Do you want to play Wizard Chess?"
George nodded. "Let me change first."
"Sure." Fred moved to walk out of the room. He had his hand on the doorknob but something stopped him. Where he was standing he could see George's reflection in the mirror. What he saw horrified him. In the mirror's reflection, he watch as George lifted his shirt over his head.
Fred could see George's shoulder blades protruding from his back.
Chapter 22: Hostility...
Fred couldn't believe his eyes. He moved down the stairs to the Common Room in a daze, trying to unsee what he just saw. How could his brother look like that? How could George do that to himself without him knowing? He knew something was wrong with George but…he didn't know how far it got.
Fred angrily punched at a wall as soon as he got to the Common Room. A few second years nearby jumped at the sound and scurried away. Fred barely felt the pain that was surging through his fingers. How could he not see what was happening? Worst of all, how could Fred not know what George was doing? Fred was baffled. A few days he wasn't eating and a few days he was stuffing his face. That wouldn't make him lose weight, right?
"Fred, I know you're upset but you don't have to punch a wall," Katie said so suddenly that Fred jumped. "Angelina's upset as well. We all are."
Fred blinked and looked at her. "Huh?" He uttered.
Katie nodded. "Yeah. Angie looks like she's going to cry. I've never seen her so upset. Just look at everyone. They're really taking it hard." She motioned around the room. A lot of Gryffindors were slumped in their seats looking lost or severely down.
Now Fred was even more confused. "Um, Kates, what're you talking about?" Fred asked.
"You…you haven't seen it yet?" Katie asked.
Fred shook his head. "Seen what?"
"Come here." He gently took Fred's elbow and lead him over to the Gryffindor notice board. Fred smiled a little when he saw their own ad for testers for their newest inventions but his eyes then drifted over to an official looking sign that grabbed his attention.
Educational Decree No. 24
By Order of
The High Inquisitor of Hogwarts
All Student Organizations, Societies, Teams, Groups, and Clubs are henceforth disbanded. An Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club is hereby defined as a regular meeting of three or more students. Permission to re-form may be sought from the High Inquisitor (Professor Umbridge). No Student Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club may exist without the knowledge and approval of the High Inquisitor. Any student fond to have formed, or to belong to, an Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club that has not been approved by the High Inquisitor will be expelled.
Signed, Dolores Umbridge
Fred's mouth fell open in silent horror. She must know, but how? No one said anything. No one would be stupid enough and there weren't any Slytherins at the Hog's Head. "Wait, why's Angelina upset? The…the group hardly lifted off the ground," Fred said in confusion.
"Fred, she's upset because that means it includes Quidditch as well," Katie said in a hushed whisper, glancing at the fire again. Angelina was sitting on the floor in front of the fire place, staring deep into the flames, not moving at all. "She just got made Captain, Fred. Don't you think this hurts her? That Umbridge woman is evil."
"You don't have to convince me," Fred told her. "So, if I try to talk to her will she bite my head off or-?"
"I think you'll be fine," Katie said with a gentle smile and a pat on the arm. She twisted her hands while she watched Fred walk over to Angelina. She hastily wiped at her eyes while he sat down next to her. A small smile formed on Katie's face when she saw that Angelina was laughing at something Fred had said.
"Hey, what's going on?" George asked, scratching behind his ear. Katie turned and smiled at him. Her smile slipped slightly when she saw the way his shirt was hanging off of his thin frame. "Did someone die?" He asked with a little lift to his voice as he looked around the Common Room.
"Just people's fun," Katie replied. She pointed out the notice and George read it carefully, his eyes moving quickly. By the time he finished reading he was actually shaking in rage. Katie placed her hand on his arm to keep him from going off. He seemed to relax at her touch, something that made her elated. "It includes Quidditch," she told him.
"No!" he gasped, his eyes widening. "Quidditch is the only reason I'm still at this dang school. She can't take it away from me."
"We're hurting too, George," Katie told him. "Everything will work out. Angelina will ask if we can reform the team, that's all."
"Ange," George muttered. "How's she taking it? This was such a big deal for her." He studied Katie's face before looking around the room, searching for her. His eyes narrowed slightly when he spotted his brother's head and then saw that they were talking quietly to each other. "I guess Wizard Chess is out of the question," he muttered bitterly.
"Why don't we take a walk?" Katie offered. "It's only eight so we wouldn't have to worry about curfew." George didn't budge. "Come on, we haven't spent time together, just us two, in a while," she said, nudging him with her elbow.
"I'm not in the mood," he replied.
"Oh, ok," Katie said with a small smile, doing her best not to let on how upset she was.
George's face softened. "We can hang out later, yeah? Merlin knows we'll have plenty of time now that Quidditch is done with."
Katie let out a little laugh. "Yeah, you're right. I'll see you later then?" George nodded and Katie went to join Alicia by the window. She collapsed into her chair and Alicia looked up from her book, startled from the noise. "I don't get it, Leese," Katie sighed. "He complimented me on my hair and everything but he's still into Angelina. Should I just give up on him?"
Alicia gave her a small smile. "He's suffering from boy syndrome. The way I see it, you can't push it. If he doesn't like you then you can't make him like you. Just keep letting him see how wonderful you are and he'll eventually notice you. If not, it's his loss. Not yours. Besides, I don't think either one of 'em will get with her," Alicia said while turning her attention back to her books.
"What makes you say that?" Katie asked.
"Because Lee's been asking her out since we were first years."
"Was that supposed to make me feel better?" Katie asked. Alicia shrugged and gave an apologetic smile. "George looks so small," she randomly commented. Alicia looked up and across the room at George who was talking to a few students, probably about their Skiving Snackboxes.
"He does," Alicia agreed.
"You know, he's kind of acting like my cousin," Katie said as she twirled her finger in one of her loose ringlets. "My Muggle cousin," she clarified. Alicia nodded and urged her to continue. "I usually spend two weeks at her house over the summer. Last summer I couldn't go because my auntie said she was sick. Sick with something, I think she called it bullimmia or something like that. When I finally saw her again she was so small and I could see her ribs through her shirt."
"You don't think that's what George is doing, do you?" Alicia asked.
Katie shrugged. "He could just be working out and losing weight."
"But he'd gain muscle weight." Alicia snapped her book shut and stood.
"Where are you going?"
"The library. There must be something in there, maybe some Muggle books. If that doesn't work I'll ask Hermione. She has something, a book called the Encyclopda or something." Alicia shoved her books into her bag and shook her head. "There's something wrong with him and, truthfully, I'm scared."
"Me too," Katie sighed.
The next morning the school was filled with abuzz about the newest decree. Fred, George and some of the others got to Harry at breakfast and wanted to know what they'd do. To many people's approval Harry said they'd meet again anyway.
The news that made some people happy did last long, especially for Angelina. Umbridge still wouldn't give the Gryffindor permission to practice again, but she already gave it to the Slytherins which everyone was sure that she was doing to ensure that they had a chance to win the Quidditch Cup.
It was as if the life was sucked out of the students as they moved on autopilot from class to class. Without clubs or anything for the students to do to occupy their time some of them were actually ahead in their school work and lounged around the Common Rooms without much to do.
Angelina was able to get the Gryffindor Quidditch team reinstated after a couple of days and their team's spirits went up, until they actually got onto the pitch and practiced. It was no surprise that Ron was the weakest link on the team and it showed every time he fumbled the Quaffle or missed it altogether he got worse and worse. The conditions of the practice didn't help much either, with it raining and being very windy. It also didn't help that Fred and George were suffering from side effects from their Fever Fudge to be able to stay on their brooms properly.
Finally, the first meeting of the Umbridge Rebellion, as some people were calling it, had arrive and Fred, Geroge, Alicia, Angelina, Katie, and Lee found themselves on the seventh floor searching for the location Hermione had given them.
"Whoa," George muttered as soon as they walked into the crowded room. "Fred, wasn't this a broom cupboard we hid in last time?"
"Yeah, when we were hiding form Filch," Fred agreed. They quickly settled in with their friends and listened intently as Harry opened up the meeting. The quickly established a leader (Harry, of course) and a name (Dumbledore's Army) before starting their first practice. In this one they would be practicing the Expelliarmus spell. Fred and George partnered up, as usual, Katie and Alicia paired up and so did Angelina and Lee, to Lee's happiness Katie noted.
The room was filled with cries of the disarming spell. George felt stupid at first, doing such an easy spell but he knew Harry was onto something when he saw it was important. After a while Fred and George got bored so they continued to disarm Zacharias Smith whenever he opened his mouth. They continued with their joke until the caught Harry's eye.
"Sorry Harry, couldn't resist," George said with a sheepish grin while elbowing Fred.
Fred frowned at the contact. George's elbow was so pointy, so boney… Fred and George decided to watch the others disarm each other.
"Who's the bloke?" Fred asked, pointing his chin in Ginny's direction.
"Michael Corner," George replied. "Ginny's boyfriend."
"Huh," Fred muttered. "I always thought she fancied Harry. Talked about him enough, made me wonder if they were married already." George chuckled and then pulled a face, rubbing at his chest. It was then that Fred noticed that George's cheeks were puffy as well, not as much as the Muggle sickness the mumps but it was a difference. "George…?"
George looked at Fred and gave a smile. "I'm ok. Bludger to the chest, still kind of sore."
"Maybe you should get it checked out," Alicia said eagerly, jumping into the conversation. "I'm sure Madam Pomfrey has something to help."
George didn't like the way she was looking at him. He glanced around and saw that Katie, Lee, and Angelina were looking at him out of the corner of their eyes as well. He took a step away from them. "I'm fine," he told them.
"You're always saying that," Katie said quietly. "There's something wrong with you, George."
"No there's not!" George bristled, shifting his weight to move past them but Fred stopped him. "Fred, let go!"
"You're not telling us something, Georgie," Fred said.
"There's nothing to tell, Freddie. Let me go." They managed to keep their voices hushed while Harry patrolled the area to help those who needed improvement.
"George, listen. We're all worried about you, mate," Lee spoke up.
George wanted to sink his fists in their faces. This was all Fred's fault. There was nothing wrong with him. He was feeling fine. Great, even. He hasn't felt that way in weeks and he didn't want it to go away. There was nothing wrong with him. He had to alter his workout schedule and make sure he ate something in front of them but apparently that wasn't working so much. Whatever happened to privacy?
"You don't have to worry about me, worry about Ron. He's the one that's stopping us from having a good chance of winning the match against Slytherin," George said, changing the subject. He knew it was a low blow but it was needed to get the attention off him.
"Don't change the subject."
"Back off!" George snapped, drawing out his wand.
"Get your wand out of my face," Fred said as calmly as possible.
George held his brother's gaze before slowly bringing his wand down to his side. "What're you looking at?" He barked at a few fourth year Hufflepuffs that were looking at him. They scattered at his outburst.
"George, calm down," Alicia begged. "We just want to help you."
"I don't need help," George sighed in exasperation. "I feel great."
"You're not eating," Alicia shot back.
"I'm…nervous for the match," George replied. Fred scoffed. "We haven't had as much practice time as the Slytherin team and we have…we have Ron. We're going to need to score early to make sure we don't lose. Do you know how long it'll take to convince everyone that we just so happen to have the same last name if we lose? And Ange, you must be nervous as well considering it's your first match you're playing as Captain in." Angelina bit her lip and George automatically knew he had her sold. As long as her mind was on the match the attention wouldn't be on him.
Katie opened her mouth to say something but Harry calling the end to the meeting stopped her. George bid them a lame goodbye and rushed out of the room.
"Did any of you buy that?" Fred asked, watching his brother run off.
"No," his friends replied in unison.
"Me neither. Just checking." Fred's eyes turned stony.
"What can we do?" Katie asked, her voice small.
"Nothing," Fred replied.
"Nothing?" Alicia and Angelina repeated.
Fred nodded. "George won't get help until he's too far gone. We're just going to have to wait." No matter how much it's going to kill me.
Chapter 23: I'm Sorry...
Fred was slowly dying inside.
He hated sitting around and watching George wither away in front of his eyes. But he couldn't do anything about it. George wouldn't listen to anything he or his friends said to him. Fred had had enough of it. He was going to do something about it. George had his chance to come clean about whatever it was he was doing but now Fred wasn't going to go easy on him.
"Quidditch today," George said happily one morning as Fred slowly got out of bed. Fred made a grunting sound and rifled through his trunk to get his uniform on. He always felt the need to wear his uniform as soon as possible. He always felt like he got a rush of energy from putting on the robes. When he was wearing them, he felt important. He wasn't just a prankster; he was part of a team. A popular team.
"I know, I can't wait," Fred replied in what he hoped was the best convincing voice he could muster.
"Did you see those badges that Slytherin has on?"
"'Potter Stinks' again? Don't they have anything else to do?" Fred mumbled, tugging on his boots.
"I know. But no matter, we'll make sure those slime balls get what they deserve."
"Mhm." Fred got his robes on faster than usual. He turned around to say something to George and his mouth dropped, almost falling all of the way to the floor. His shoulder blades stuck out even more than usual, and now he could see George's spine, almost every single individual bone. Fred couldn't stifle the gasp that came out of his mouth in time. George turned around to look at him, his shirt halfway up his arms. The movement made his bones stick out even more.
"What?" George asked, looking at Fred. George didn't like the way Fred was looking at him. It was a look of pity and he thought he had escaped it.
"George," Fred started.
George tensed. He instantly knew what Fred was getting at. He'd been getting the looks and the talks from his friends and his brother all week. Every time he saw them or they opened their mouths he could feel what it was they were going to say.
They didn't understand. He liked the way he felt, so what if his body was different? He hasn't been mistaken for Fred in days, and he liked that feeling. Was it wrong to want to be seen as an individual every now and then? He liked being known as one half of the Weasley Twins but he liked being known as George too.
Was that too much to ask?
"I'm fine," George grunted.
"I wasn't even going to ask that," Fred said. George moved swiftly to get out of the dormitory but his twin blocked his path.
"Dammit, Fred! Get out of my way!"
"George, no!" Fred replied, blocking the doorway. "I'm not going to move until you get help!"
"You're sick! You're doing something to yourself which isn't good! Why can't you see that?"
"Why can't you see that I'm happy?" George shot back. "I'm finally happy, Fred."
"What do you mean by that?" Fred asked. Maybe if he could stall George he could get his brother to see things his way.
George scoffed. "Don't you get it, Freddie? No one mistakes me for you anymore. I'm George. I'm me. I can finally be myself without being dragged down with your name." Ouch. Fred bit his lip. He had no idea George felt that way. Judging by his harsh tone George had been keeping that bottled up for ages. But it still shook Fred down to his core. "If you don't have anything to say, let's get down to the pitch and get this match over with." George had moved past the door and was about to leave when Fred uttered some words.
"I'm sorry," Fred said.
George paused and looked at him. "What?"
"I'm sorry," Fred repeated.
"What're you sorry for?"
"...I just am. Let's go."
The match was intense. Fred and George put their argument aside to fight off the bludgers that were chasing after their teammates. Fred sent a good one at Malfoy. The little ferret deserved it. He and the rest of his merry band of Slytherins made up a song to try and distract Ron from playing well. Unfortunately, it was working well. It was up to Harry and the girls to make sure they got a good lead to win.
George sat back and watched as the other players flew around the pitch. He reacted quickly when a bludger was sent at him, grinning, he swung it at Draco who was now racing Harry to get to the Snitch. George pulled his broom around and started moving again, just in case Draco somehow managed to miss the bludger.
"YES!" George cheered, punching his fists into the air when he saw that Harry had caught the snitch. If that didn't shut up the Slytherins, he didn't know what would. Out of habit he flashed a smile in Fred's direction. Fred gave a half smile in returned before the twins rocketed towards the ground to congratulate Harry on their win.
George was in the middle of clapping Harry on the back when he heard it. Malfoy taunting them. Taunting his mother and father and his home life in general. He felt the blood inside of him boil as his hands clenched into fists and he stiffened. Malfoy kept talking and George had it. He lunged at Draco, yelling curses at him and swinging his fists but Harry held him back. He could hear Fred struggling and, out of the corner of his eye, saw Angelina, Alicia, and Katie all holding onto Fred to keep him back.
The next thing George knew Harry had released him and the two were sprinting at Draco. George could hear the girls calling for him but blood was rushing in his ears, it made them sound muffled. He fought for a little while before Madam Hooch's spell blasted them apart. He was sporting a swollen lip when she demanded that they go to Professor McGonagall.
He and Harry trudged back to the castle, not saying a word to each other but panting heavily. George angrily plopped down in his chair next to Harry and waited for Professor McGonagall to start speaking to them.
"Well?" She barked. "I have never seen such a disgraceful exhibition. Two on one! Explain yourselves!" She ordered sharply.
George stayed quiet and let Harry do all of the talking. He was afraid if he spoke he would shoot off more curses and he didn't want to get in trouble with her. Truth be told, he was afraid of her. She was in the middle of reprimanding them when George heard it.
That voice sent a shiver down his spine and made his anger flare up once more. How dare she show her toad like face? George listened quietly as Professor McGonagall fought with Umbridge about whether a week's worth of detention was the right punishment.
"So…I really think I will have to ban these two from playing Quidditch ever again," Umbridge said with her large, toad-like grin. George's entire body went numb. Not play Quidditch? Ever again? She couldn't do that! Quidditch was the only thing keeping him there. He loved the sport too much to give it up. "And I think, to be safe, this young man's twin ought to be banned too – if his teammates had not restrained him, I feel sure he would have attacked young Malfoy as well."
"You're damn right!" George wanted to say but he couldn't move. He didn't even move when Professor McGonagall asked Harry to leave and for him to stay in a tight voice. For a few minutes she was silence, pinching the bridge of her nose. Finally, she sighed and looked at George. "It's been brought to my attention by many students that they feel you are…sick."
George blinked. "I'm not sick, Professor," he replied.
"Yes, well, their concerns are cause for concern. They say you've been…shedding pounds and, frankly, your current physique is a cause for concern. I will be keeping a close eye on you to be sure that they shouldn't be worrying. As for now I want you go to Madam Pomfrey."
"But I'm not sick!" he protested.
"It's to heal your lip, Mr. Weasley," she replied, frostily.
George finally forced his legs to move. He got out of the chair and, stiffly, left the office and walked around the slowly filling school to get to the hospital wing. He didn't want to go but he figured he would be in and out in a second. His lip swelling was already beginning to go down. He pushed open the door and stopped in his tracks at what he saw. His mother, with tear stained cheeks, his father with his mouth pressed in a line, Ginny who stared at him, Ron who looked anywhere but at him, and Fred who was looking down at the ground. Madam Pomfrey had her arms crossed over her chest.
"I'm sorry," Fred repeated, his small voice echoing in the vast room.
Chapter 24: Backed in a Corner...
Almost instantly George's chest tightened. His breathing became shallow as he looked at everyone. He knew just by looking at them why he was there. He just knew. He could feel it. But…they didn't know what was going on. Maybe Fred didn't know what was going on?
So why was George reacting this way? His eyes darted around the room as if looking for a place to escape, something that was faster than just going through the door behind him. He was sure Fred would be there to stop him. Fred was always there. Always. It was amazing how one fact that used to bring him comfort was now scaring him.
"W…what's going on?" George managed to ask. He made sure to keep his voice as steady as possible but he wanted to strangle Fred. How many times had he said that nothing was wrong with him? And then he went and pulled something like this.
He looked everyone in the eye. He looked at his mother who turned her head away, shaking it as her body started to tremble. It crushed George's heart to see his mother like that. Why should it hurt? I'm not doing anything! George reasoned. He looked up at his father who was rubbing his mother's shoulder. Ron was looking at him strangely, as if not seeing George but someone else standing there. Ginny's lips were pressed tight in a thin line. She couldn't even look at him. But Fred…Fred was looking right at George, right through him it seemed, into his soul and his brain, picking away at his thoughts. Fred's eyes burned George's skin.
"You know," Fred replied.
"No I don't," George replied, shaking his head. "I don't know what you're talking about and I don't know what's going on."
"Mr. Weasley, you have been called here under the suspicion that you're not eating properly," Madam Pomfrey broke in the conversation. "As you are a Quidditch player I can't stress how important it is for you to keep a balanced diet."
George's mouth fell open and his cheeks burned. He was probably the same color as his hair. He'd be more embarrassed about his accusation if he weren't so angry at his twin and so called best friend. "I don't have an eating problem," George protested, spluttering slightly. "That's ridiculous!" He shook his head and scoffed. "I've endured Oliver's nit-picky ways about making sure we're eating right, I wouldn't want to tempt the fates and have that mental-case come back and talk my ear off about the importance of eating."
George gave a little roll of his eyes to show how ridiculous the whole thing sounded when, all he wanted to do was bash his brother's face in with his fists. George turned his attention to his mother's tear-streaked face. "Mum, stop," he muttered when she squished his cheeks between her hands. "Mum, what—"
"Now you answer honestly, George Fabian Weasley!" Mrs. Weasley said in the tone that made George scared. Fred and George were hardly scared of anything but there was one certain tone that she had to use that made them feel like they were five all over again. "Have you been eating?"
"Yes," George replied, his voice cracking so slightly he hoped that no one else had heard him. It wasn't a big lie, he told himself. He did eat, but it was mainly a puking pastille after having inhaled dinner or breakfast. "Mum, I'm eating. I'm fine."
"You're skinnier than before," Ginny spoke up. George had almost forgotten she was in the room. She turned her steely gaze towards him. George flinched internally at how much Ginny could duplicate the glare that her mother had perfected ages ago. "It feels weird when I hug you, like there isn't enough of you to hug anymore."
"Ginny, I'm fine!" George sighed in exasperation. "All of you, I'm fine. I'm eating. There's nothing wrong with me."
"Even so I'm going to closely monitor your food intake," Madam Pomfrey replied. George started to protest but she held her hand up to stop him from talking. "Minerva and Albus both agree that it should be done. We've seen cases like this before in plenty of women who've attended this school and if what Mr. Weasley here says is true then we have a reason to be concerned."
"Well, there's your problem right there," George said with a wave of his hand. "I'm not a woman, thankfully. I like 'em a lot but not enough to want to be one, might I add. Complex creatures, those women are. I'd rather live amongst them than live as them." When he realized he was rambling he cleared his throat a little. "I don't have a problem, Madam Pomfrey. You can tell Professor McGonagall and Professor Dumbledore that as well. I'm eating fine. I've just been…nervous about this upcoming match so I've altered my training schedule. That's why no one has seen me eating much lately but I can assure that I have been."
George paused to throw a glare at Fred who turned his head away from his twin. George's glare weakened when he felt a heavy hand on his shoulder and met with his father's look of concern. "Dad?" George muttered.
"George, as soon as Molly and I were contacted by Madam Pomfrey I have been looking into this book called an…En-sy-clow-pee-dee-uh," Mr. Weasley said slowly, stretching out each syllable of the word. George resisted the urge to laugh at the faces he was pulling while trying to say the word. "Interesting book, that one, you should take a look at it one day." At the slap of his arm from his wife the look of excitement in Mr. Weasley's eyes changed. "Anyway, this muggle book has everything inside of it. Even this…illness they think you have."
"Illness?" George repeated with a lift of his eyebrows. "But I'm not sick. I don't have a fever or anything." He looked at Madam Pomfrey. "You're making a mistake."
"We might be making a mistake, Mr. Weasley," Madam Pomfrey continued. "However we have reason to believe that you're suffering from the early stages of anorexia nervosa."
"I don't have some muggle sickness," George loudly protested. He didn't want to be here anymore. He wanted to go somewhere to get his thoughts straight. He still hadn't processed that he had been banned from Quidditch for the rest of his Hogwarts career. Quidditch was all he had and now that it was taken away from him…his mind couldn't focus on one thing and he felt like he was slowly drowning. Having everyone accuse him of something that he was sure wasn't true wasn't making him feel any better. This was not how he wanted to spend the afternoon after the first—and his last—Quidditch match of the season.
"Mr. Weasley you are to report to me after breakfast and dinner every day for the next two weeks," Madam Pomfrey told George. He loudly protested but it seemed to fall on deaf ears as she continued to say that'd she'd make sure he come and that she'd keep McGonagall informed as well if he turned up or not.
George grumbled under his breath as his parents quickly bid them farewell and left the room, closely followed by Ginny. She had paused and tired to give George a hug, out of pity or because she felt sorry for him he didn't know because he backed out of her grip. A twinge of guilt flooded his insides at the hurt look in her eyes while she carried on her merry way.
"I was brought here just to hear you're not eating?" Ron asked while shaking his head. "I was expecting you and Fred finally getting what's coming to you two. Going to St. Mungo's for your mental illnesses or Azkaban maybe with the magic you two use."
"Don't give me a reason to go to Azkaban," George threatened through clenched teeth as he went for his wand. Ron turned and dashed out of the Hospital Wing. As soon as Ron was out of the room George turned on Fred. "Well? Did you get your jollies from that? Having to see your…ex-brother get interrogated for no reason? I hope it's been a fun day for you, a way to turn it around after getting kicked off the Quidditch team."
Fred got to his feet and looked his brother in the eye. "I made a mistake," Fred said quietly.
"I'd say you did. You just—" George practically exploded. The look in Fred's eye stopped him.
"I made a mistake for letting this continue on and not doing anything about it," Fred continued. "I made a mistake for watching you waste away in front of my own eyes without getting help sooner. I made the mistake of waiting to actually see something wrong with you and waiting for you to figure it out on your own. I'm not going to stand by and let you do this to yourself, George."
"What am I doing?" George challenged Fred. "Huh? Since you seem to know everything, brother, what am I doing then?"
Fred looked his brother in the eye. "You're killing yourself."
Chapter 25: Going Overboard...
Katie rested her chin in her palms. She couldn't pay attention to anything that was coming out of the professor's mouth. No matter how many times she told herself to listen to him and looked in his direction, her eyes would always travel back to George. He didn't seem to have much life in him anymore and she didn't know if it was because he was sick or because he couldn't play Quidditch. Either way, it was sad to see him that upset and not letting Fred into his life.
For the past couple of days the two didn't even sit next to each other, let alone acknowledge of the other's existence. George would sit with Lee or Alicia and Fred would always sit with Angelina, as if the others were blocking them from having to interact with each other. If Katie weren't in some advanced classes, she wouldn't have realized how badly things were turning out.
After George returned to the Common Room from the Hospital Wing and the Quidditch match against Slytherin, he had a scowl so deep she thought it would be embedded on his face forever. He didn't look at anyone or talked to anyone at all. He walked past them and acted as if he were the only thing in the room, or like he was off in his own world where no one could bother him. And when they tried he would fix them with a glare so strong Katie was pleasantly surprised they hadn't withered up and died right on the spot. It didn't take too long for him to finally get fed up with being around people and leave the room.
Now she felt as if their group of friends were divided right down the middle, George on one side with herself and Alicia while Fred was on the other with Angelina and Lee. That wasn't how things were supposed to turn out. They were supposed to make it through graduation together (or as much as they could fulfill such a dream with Katie being a year below them). At this rate she would be surprised if they were able to get through the next couple of days without one blowing up at the other. But it was odd, Fred and George were fine a couple of days prior and all of a sudden they were on the outs again. Katie wanted to ask what happened but she decided to hold her tongue; getting information out of them was nearly impossible sometimes. They were known to jump around the point, adding in jokes here and there. It was frustrating.
As soon as the class ended the group split up with Katie and George heading towards the library to get some studying in. It was a shock to Katie as well that George wanted to study but who was she to turn down spending time with him? Maybe now she could get to the bottom of everything and figure out at way to repair their broken friendship and brotherhood. She did not want to be in the crossfire of their glares much longer.
Once reaching the library Katie gathered up the books they would need to prepare for their Charms essays that were to be due soon. Hers, being a sixth year, was to cover the topic of the Aguamenti charm and his was to cover the Imperturbable Charm, Imperturbare. She did not know why she was bothering, though, for she knew that he wouldn't put much effort into the essay. Not as the days slowly dragged by. The more time passed the more he spoke about not wanting to work anymore and just leave and experience what the world had to offer. However everyone else was probably on the same page as him ever since Umbridge came under ruling.
"George, what're you doing?" Katie asked as she came back to the table, peering over the top of her tall stack of books. George looked up and shoved an item into his bag as Katie staggered forward. George stood and easily lifted the stack of books out of her arms and set them down on the table. "What were you doing?"
"Eating," George responded while picking up the book from the top of the stack. He leaned back in his chair, stretching out his long legs underneath the table, and let out a long breath. The ruffling pages temporarily displaced his short red hair.
Katie looked around. "You know Madam Pince doesn't like it when there's food around the books."
"Madam Pince doesn't like it when someone looks at a book funny," George responded evenly. "Besides, it's only Bertie Bott's Beans. Nothing to get worked up over. It's practically mess proof." He reached back into his bag and pulled out a handful of beans, dropping them into his mouth. He bit down on all of them at once and made a slight face at the strange concoction of flavor that exploded in his mouth. But he sucked on every one in turn until it was soft enough to be swallowed whole. He learned long ago that it was easier to swallow than to chew, less of the flavors were released that way. Good and bad ones.
Closing the book with a small snap he went onto the next one. Katie sat back and watched as his light brown eyes moved across the page at high speeds. She wondered briefly if he was even taking in what he was reading, his movements almost seemed robotic. Katie's eyes swooped down to his arm whenever he reached into his bag for candy. Compared to the shirt he was wearing his arm looked so thin, like a stick.
It was scary.
George's eyes seemed sunken into the sockets, faint circles had begun to form around them and he looked so frail and sickly now. Not as he was before, healthy and muscular… Katie ducked her head behind her book as her cheeks warmed. She peered at him over the top of her book again before letting her eyes drop back down to the words on the page. But they swam before her. She just couldn't focus when her friend sitting before her looked like a living skeleton.
"I know I'm devilishly handsome but you can stop staring," George commented with a kind smile. Katie shook her head behind her book and let out a soft chuckle. "What is it?" He asked while drawing in a breath.
"It's just…" Katie slowly set her book down on the table and crossed her arms on top of it. "I don't understand what's going on, George. You and Fred…things were fine before the Quidditch match and now you're on the outs again. We don't like seeing you two like this."
George scoffed and rolled his eyes. "You think I do? If only he'd keep his nose out of my business." He picked up his quill and began to scribble something on his parchment with so much fury she was surprised that it didn't rip a hole in his paper. A few seconds later and slammed the feathered writing implement down. "You all would do best to drop this whole thing. There is nothing wrong with me, I'm fine!"
"George, you're not," Katie said patiently while tugging on the end of her plait. Really all she wanted to do was take him by the shoulders and shake him until some sense and clarity fell into his head. According to Ron, that would take a few centuries worth of shakes.
"But I am! You lot are starting to make me barmy," George said while rubbing at his eyes with his hands. He had the feeling that he would end up regretting spending time with Katie and now he knew why. He should have seen this coming but he did not for he thought he could trust that Katie would not bring it up. "I'm eating fine. I just…changed my diet a little bit. I finally…no one…" He let out a frustrated growl and started shoving his things into his bag.
"Wait, George, where are you going?" Katie asked frantically. He couldn't leave but she didn't know what else to say to keep him there.
"I need some air," he mumbled and slung his bag over his shoulder. "I'll see you later." Before Katie could move or utter a sound he stalked off. A slight smirk fell onto his lips at Madam Pince's sudden explosion from behind him: "You dare to bring teeth-rotting filth into this library, around these books?" It was almost enough for him to forget about their conversation and focus on the mental state, or lack thereof, of the elderly library patron.
He was just so tired of it, of people worrying about him. He was finally happy. Well, happier than he was before. He had the body he wanted and he felt great! And yet, no one else could see that, all they could see that he was sick. George shook his head. If he wanted to get them off his back he'd have to make them think nothing was wrong.
And that was what he did.
Any time someone was in his line of sight he would make sure he was eating something: sweets, biscuits nicked from breakfast, sandwiches from lunch, apples, anything he could get his hands on. All he did was eat and eat and eat. He couldn't do anything else besides study and do homework, two things that he felt there was no such point in doing anymore. He was a seventh year, grades didn't matter much anymore. Neither did the idea of a diploma matter to him, he just wanted to get out and go. To be able to live his life without having anyone to answer to. Without the accusing stares and looks of pity. Without feeling like he was slowly suffocating in a school that he once loved but now felt like was his own personal prison.
He didn't give himself time to speak to anyone, what was there to talk about now? All of the conversations ended up turning back to him and that was a topic he wanted to stay away from. He tried speaking to Fred about his ideas of creating a new type of firework, an enchanted one, but Fred wouldn't hear of it. It felt as if all of the plans they had made didn't matter to his twin anymore and that frustrated George the most out of the whole thing.
One night George had found himself in the Great Hall. He had arrived late for dinner and he swore he could feel many eyes on him as she walked in between the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff tables to get to his seat beside Katie. He checked his nose and his clothes just in case something was there but found nothing. He hadn't pulled a prank so why were they all looking at him?
"A new DA meeting is coming soon," Angelina was saying as George sat down. Almost immediately his golden plate filled itself and his goblet held the common orange colored drink of Pumpkin Juice. "What do you think we're going to learn this time?"
"Hopefully something that can drive Umbridge out," Lee grumbled while stabbing his fork at his food. He held a grudge against the toad-resembling woman because she had taken points away from the Gryffindor house simply because he had brought an "unauthorized" book with him to his Defense Against the Dark Arts class.
"I'm sure she'd catch onto that idea quickly," Alicia commented. "What with the Slytherin spies she has all around the castle now. Matter of fact I saw Montague interrogating Edgecombe the other day just because she looked at him sideways." She shook her head, her dark ponytail swishing this way and that with every turn. "Made me want to jinx him but that'd only end up with me in detention and I'm not in the mood to see her face longer than I need to."
That made the group of friends snicker. Alicia was known as the sweet one of the group, never having a bad thing to say about anyone. But when she did it came out more funny than intimidating. Much like seeing a baby kitten trying to get angry. It didn't help that she had a baby face which no one could take seriously.
As the situation changed to what spells they would learn from Harry in the upcoming meeting George only have listened as he timed when to take a bite of food and when to take a drink. The longer he practiced this regime the more his stomach began to hurt and clench but he pushed on with it. He cut his food into little pieces and began to eat slower, but he didn't stop eating completely. He wanted to let the others know that there was nothing wrong with him and, as soon as this dinner was over, they would.
Finally the bell rang throughout the castle signaling the end of the dinner period. George put a hand to his distended stomach as he stood. He felt nauseous and full and most of all he felt fat. Disgusting. He mentally yelled at himself. How could he stuff so much inside of him? He was undoing everything he worked hard to accomplish.
"Georgie—get your head out of the clouds!" George blinked and looked at Fred who was waving a hand in his face. "Ah, there we go. Lee and I were saying that we need to have a meeting, to discuss a more…concealed way of pushing our products. Are you coming?"
George slowly nodded his head. "Yeah, I just have to…return a book to the library first. I'll meet you in the Common Room."
"Careful, don't spend too much time there. You'll go nutty."
George let out a laugh while following his brother out of the Great Hall, but made a different turn in the direction of the library. Once he was out of sight of the others he made a beeline for the washrooms. He checked to make sure every stall was closed before going into one and began his normal yet secret routine. It took a few tries for him to empty his stomach and by then his throat was hurting as if the acids in his stomach were stripping it raw.
But he felt lighter and that made him smile.
George sucked in a sharp breath at the sudden sting that burned on the back of his hand. He jerked his hand away from the spray of the warm water and shook it out, frowning slightly at the few red droplets that landed against the shower wall. He brought his hand up to his face and watched the small amount of blood seep from the words that were etched onto the back of his hand.
Curling his fingers into a fist he slammed it against the wall, tilting his head forward as the warm water hit his head, ran down his neck, and trickled down the length of his body. He didn't know how it was possible that Umbridge was still around. She was a monster! Everyone knew it but because the Ministry was filled with a bunch of cowardly gits there was nothing they could do about it. So he and the rest of the school had to suffer at her hands while she tried to make Hogwarts better.
George brushed his matted hair off of his forehead and stepped loser to the shower head. He reached out and grasped the handle of the faucet to make the water warmer but it wouldn't budge. Frowning George blinked rapidly and peered closer. The handle was pointing over to the H.
"That's not possible," George muttered. He wiped at his eyes and looked harder but the vision in front of him didn't change. He glanced down at his skin and saw that it had turned red in the pales that the water pressure had hit but he hardly felt a thing. He was shivering too much.
He brought his hands up to rub at his arms, shifting the warm water but to no avail. That did not work either. George might as well have stood underneath a shower head that spouted out ice cubes. He moved forward to grab at his soap when a sudden wave of dizziness washed over him and he had to put a hand on the wall to steady himself. His other hand went to his head which began to pound. He let out a breath and brought it back in slowly, repeating the process until the dizziness went away but it was quickly replaced by a strong feeling of hunger.
Not that he could do anything about it. For the past couple of weeks anything he tried to eat his stomach would reject on its own. He didn't have to stick his fingers down his throat or eat a Puking Pastille any longer. His body was doing his dirty work for him. It was just too easy.
Grumbling, George reached out for the knob and turned it to the off position. No point in torturing myself. Stepping out he grabbed a towel and wrapped it around his waist. He had begun to reach for another towel to wrap around his shoulders when it felt as if he were hit by the Aresto Momentum spell. It felt like an eternity had passed before his fingers brushed against the rough fabric of the towel. He pressed his lips together and concentrated on curling his fingers into the towel but he couldn't muster up enough energy to do so.
His focus then immediately switched to his line of vision that had begun to tilt. It took a few seconds for him to realize that he was falling over. A few seconds too late. He had moved his hands to break his fall but his body wasn't working right. The fall itself seemed to take a lifetime. Seconds felt like minutes as the stone ground loomed closer and closer.
And then all at once a sharp pain engulfed his left arm and shoulder and his cheek met the cold stone floor. His breath was knocked out of him in one blow. He struggled to get into a kneeling position but his body wasn't working with him. He felt as if his energy was slowly being sapped from his body and no matter how hard he tried to move it felt as if his muscles were being replaced with the heaviest metal.
He took in one more shuddering breath before he lost consciousness.
"Is he alright?"
"He looks like a ghost. He's so pale."
"I think he's coming to."
"Someone stick a sock under his nose. Lee, volunteer yours. That thing is lethal."
"We want to wake him, not kill him."
"That fall is enough to kill him, I reckon."
"Alright, that's enough! Give him some room! I thought I only said one visitor…"
"Fred doesn't go anywhere without a crowd," George croaked out as he tried to open his eyes. It felt as if there were weights resting on his eyelids. It took him a couple of tries for him to open his eyes fully but once he did he had to slam them shut again from the bright light that was pouring into this vision. "Someone turn off the sun."
That earned him a few laughs, nervous laughter he noticed. Sighing he tried to open his eyes again and this time was able to keep them open for a few seconds, blinking rapidly to get them to adjust to the light. He began to move but stopped when his head began to pound.
"Merlin," he grumbled.
"Well what do you expect falling around here?" Madam Pomfrey asked sharply while shoving something underneath his nose. "Drink up, Mr. Weasley."
"Wha' izzit?" George mumbled.
"Something important that you need to drink," Madam Pomfrey responded, using the same tone as before.
Releasing a breath through his nose George lifted his hands above the blankets, with a little bit of difficulty, and took the cup that was in her hands. He couldn't take a sip until his hands stopped shaking, which took a few moments. He swallowed the lump in his throat and brought the cup up to his mouth. He managed to swallow the liquid that quenched his thirst but lacked in taste and leaned back against the pillows once more.
"Wha' happened?" George rasped.
"Lee found you passed in the showers," Alicia replied. "You hit your head pretty hard."
"Of course with how thick their skulls are it shouldn't make that much of a difference," Angelina laughed. The others chuckled slightly but it was tense. Fred was the only one who didn't laugh. In fact he didn't say a word; he just sat back and watched George closely, as if trying to look through him. George shivered and pulled his blankets up to his neck and curled up into a ball. "How're you feeling now, George?"
"'M fine, I guess," George responded. "A little cold. You think with a castle being around for so long they'd heat the place," he tried to joke. Again the only laughter that moved around the room was tense. "Geeze, mates, who died?"
"Don't," Fred said sharply. George turned his head only to flinch at the way Fred was looking at him. Not once in his life has he ever seen such anger reflected in eyes that he looked at over the years, sharing silent conversations, amused glances, and identical sentiments. Fred was usually never angry with anyone but now George could feel the anger right down to his own toes and it struck his heart in a way that pained him more than his head was doing at the moment. "If you don't mind…" he addressed, turning to his friends.
With a few "no, it's alright", "We understand", and "feel better, George" the group left the room. Katie lingered by the door, looking right at George in a peculiar way. It made him shift in his bed and shift his gaze to one of the windows across the room from him. He let out a breath that he wasn't realizing he was holding as soon as the door had closed.
"What's gotten your knickers in such a twist?" George asked while tugging at a thread on his blankets. "Did Lee put a dungbomb in your tea again?"
"I'm in no mood for jokes, George," Fred said sternly. George gave him a look as if he had grown another head. Fred not being in the mood for a joke? That was unheard of! Like the idea of Pansy Parkinson being nice, those things just didn't happen. "Don't give me that look."
"Geeze, Fred, did someone ask Angelina out before you could?" He asked.
"Stop it," Fred snapped. "You know what this is about. There's something wrong with you."
George tensed and glared at his twin. "There's nothing wrong with me," he growled. "I'm fine! Like I always am whenever you get mental like this."
"You're not fine," Fred insisted. "George, you're…small."
"That's not something any guy likes to hear," he deadpanned.
"Stop joking around. Madam Pomfrey says you're…you're, ah…a-knee-mee-ic," Fred said slowly, his face scrunching up slightly as he tried to come up with the word. George echoed the face that Fred was making at the foreign word.
"What in the world is that? Some type of food?" George asked.
"Anemia is a muggle condition," Madam Pomfrey commented as she returned from her office. Her arms were crossed tight over her chest and her lips were pressed into a straight line so much so that the skin around it started to turn white.
"A muggle condition?" George repeated. He looked at his arms and turned them over. "But I feel fine."
"But you have been tearing your body apart, Mr. Weasley," Madam Pomfrey said sharply. "While a few muggle ailments are seen in our world we have to be trained to recognize the signs of them to be able to treat our patients, or our students in this case, properly. In your case anemia is not your only concern. I have been come to many a time lately with concern from your peers that you have not been eating properly. And, as you remember, this is not your first time coming here with that accusation."
"I'm sorry but I don't get what any of this has to do with me. I'm fine," George stressed.
"You're anemic, Mr. Weasley. Your red blood cell count is low. Have you noticed a change in energy? Any headaches? Numbness in your hands or feet? Or how about dizziness?" Madam Pomfrey asked.
George was about to open his mouth and say no to all of her questions until she got to the last one. His mouth shut and he thought back. He did feel dizzy right before he fell and passed out but he probably moved too quickly. Not from…a-macadamia or whatever it was that he supposedly had.
"It's also what is causing you to shiver," Madam Pomfrey continued. "Your body temperature is too low. But this didn't occur overnight. Mr. Weasley, we have reasons to believe that you have an eating disorder. Do you think that could be true?"
"No," George denied immediately.
"Your cooperation would make this a lot easier, Mr. Weasley."
"There is nothing wrong with me!" George bellowed.
"Don't listen to him," Fred said, addressing the older woman. "He hides food around the room. Sometimes he doesn't eat a lot and sometimes when he does he eats a lot. He goes to the bathroom a lot too and once he was sick and—"
"And you said it yourself, I was sick, that's all," George interrupted him. "I had an upset stomach."
Fred shook his head. "It's not random, Madam Pomfrey. We…we were making a potion once and it exploded in our faces. I think something in it…did something to us. Whatever he does I can feel. I think it's some weird side effect on us. Whenever he stubs his toe or burns his hand from a wand backfire it happens to me too. Sometimes…sometimes I get this weird feeling as if…" His words trailed off when he saw the way George was looking at him.
George's eyes were wide and he was slowly shaking his head. Fred paused and bit down on his lip, locking eyes with his brother. It made Fred's heart lurch to see how sunken in George's face was, how deep his eyes were sitting in their sockets, how pale his skin had become and how much his cheek bones were sticking out.
It was almost as if he resembled the walking dead.
"Sometimes I get this feeling as if something is being shoved down my throat and it triggers my gag reflex," Fred continued, his words shaky. "I think George is doing something to himself…to make himself sick."
Silence hung in the air. Both Fred and Madam Pomfrey had turned to look at George and George looked back at them as if he were a deer caught in headlights. His eyes were wide and his lips were parted slightly, as if he were about to make a comment to diffuse the situation or change the subject but nothing came out of his mouth except for his heavy breathing.
The next few hours went by in a blur, as if everything around George was moving in fast motion and he was the lone person going at normal speed. Fred and Madam Pomfrey went off to talk about something. In that moment George tried to escape but the Hospital Win was guarded by some of the suits of armor to keep him inside. Later Ginny and Ron came to visit him, Ginny chewed him out but Ron stayed silent, only speaking up once by calling George a "git" and an "idiot" for doing what he did to himself. He couldn't remember, there was a lot of shouting going on, not only from them but from his mother as well that everything sounded to same to him.
He wasn't allowed to say a word. He could only keep his mouth shut and sit and take all of the accusations, the sad words, the stares. The stares were the worst part. Everyone that came to see him would do a double take and then scan his body, making faces but not outright saying whatever it was that was on their minds. McGonagall even stuttered a little bit as she tried to come to terms with George's predicament, giving him looks that made him want to curl up into a ball and hide in a hole.
He just wanted to disappear from the world at the moment from the prying eyes and the looks of pity and the whispers. He didn't have to leave the Hospital Wing to know that he was being talked about in the halls. No one's business was a secret around the school. Everyone knew everyone's business.
And now they knew who George was.
He sighed. That was what he wanted, for others to know the difference between him and Fred. But he didn't want this.
"George, you need to eat something."
George sighed and poked his fork at the pudding which sat perfectly in the bowl. Anytime he poked at it the dessert he would make a face when it jiggled. He pressed his lips together. He didn't see the pudding anymore, he saw his own stomach, bouncing, jiggling, shaking…
Shaking his head he pushed the food away. "I don't want it," he rasped. "I don't want it."
"George you have to eat," Katie repeated, pushing the food back at him. "We want you to be healthy."
"You're not." Katie shifted in her chair and leaned forward, taking George's hand into her own. Her breath got caught in her throat s she felt his bones though his thin skin. The corners of her mouth turned down and her shoulders dropped. His hands used to be soft to the touch but now they were cold. Too cold. "It's not healthy to not eat."
"I feel fine," George rebuffed.
Katie's shoulders lifted and dropped along with her sigh. "We're not the bad guys here. We want to help you get better. And the only way you can do that is if you eat something." His fingers tapped against the bowl but he didn't make an effort to lift the spoon to his mouth. Even if he did he wasn't so sure his brain would transmit a message for him to open his mouth. The voices in his head were beginning to overpower his brain. The ones that continually told him to stick to his plan and everything would be fine.
He sighed as he heard voices grow louder outside of the Hospital Wing and then grow fainter as the people passed by. He could practically hear the wind rushing in his ears, feel the broom handle vibrating in his hands, and see the blur of colors flying past his face. The sights and sounds of freedom were at his fingertips but he was still stuck.
Maybe if I convinced them that I'm alright I can finally leave this place.
He suddenly grabbed the bowl, picked up the spoon, and shoved the dessert into his mouth. The sweet taste sat on his tongue and overwhelmed his senses. His throat slammed shut and he began to dry heave.
"George?" Katie asked in alarm. "George, are you alright?" She stood and leaned over him, rubbing his back as he continued to make retching sounds. "Are you choking?"
George shook his head and, through tear covered eyes, grabbed the bowl of pudding and spat the dessert back into it. He faintly heard Katie making a groaning sound in disgust as he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He swiped his tongue against his skin multiple times to be sure that he got the disgustingly sweet flavor off of his tongue.
"That's awful," he rasped.
"It's just chocolate pudding," Katie told him, her voice quieter than her normal, bubbly and loud tone. "It's your favorite."
"It's…it's rancid. It's too sweet," George mumbled as he shook his head. "It'd only make me—" He stopped and pressed his lips together.
"What?" Katie asked.
George sighed and fell back against the pillows. "Nothing," he responded.
Katie's eyebrows came together as she studied him. The pillows had puffed up around his head and seemed to be swallowing him into the middle. It still scare her to see him like this, so small and frail but any time she had tried to comment on it he'd stop her and change the subject. She bit her lip and made noises of beginning sentences that she let die. How was she going to come up with something that wouldn't anger him?
She sighed herself. It was way past that now, thinking he'd get angry. Hell, she was angry that he'd do this to himself so it was fine time he hear how he was affecting the others.
"No," she said firmly, looking him in the way. "It'd only make you what?"
"It's not nothing, George!" She snapped. "Look at you! You're lying in the Hospital Wing, as small as a twig, looking like he's one step away from death! You're practically a skeleton! And look!" She grabbed his wrist and wraped her forefinger and thumb around it. "You're so small!"
"Good!" George shot back. "That's what I want!"
"You want to die?"
George growled. "No! I want to be…different."
"You're only killing yourself by doing this to your body! Can't you see that?" Hot tears began to spill down Katie's cheeks and she wiped them away with the back of her hand.
"No, Katie! Because all I see is fat!" George exploded, sitting up so he could get closer to her face. "No matter what I do all I see is a large pile of goo that's trailing after Fred. And even then people still got me wrong. Now people know I'm George. That's all I wanted. For people to realize that I'm not Fred. So they won't confuse us again."
"At the risk of your own health?" Katie threw her arms into the air. "George, I can garauntee you no one saw you as one person around here. They always talk about the Weasley Twins. They know who you are."
George nodded. "They definitely do now and now I can be sure they won't ever get us mixed up again. I'm not Fred."
"You're right," Katie sighed. "You're George. My best friend. The guy who taught me the art of pulling a good trick, of which Oliver still isn't too fond of. The guy who helped me get onto the Quidditch team. The guy who always protected me from Flint. George Weasley is the sweetest, funniest, most kind person I've ever met and I'm not too keen on losing you just yet." She stood and gathered her jacket. "I have some homework to finish, please…just eat one thing. For me. That's all I want."
She hesitated for a moment but leaned forward and quickly kissed his forehead. George swore he caught a glimpse of a blush on her cheeks but she had turned and rushed away from him before he was sure.
Katie gathered her jacket closer to her chest and briskly walked to the doors, keeping her eyes straight ahead. She had barely made it out the door when it swung open. She let out a little shriek when she bumped into Fred. He stumbled a bit from the shock and then grinned when he looked at her.
"Heyyyy, it's Bell! Bell, Bell, beautiful Bell," Fred slurred and laughed in her face. Katie wrinkled her nose and waved a hand in front of her face. "Aww, Bell, don't be like that," he continued and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, his hand clutching a bottle of Firewhiskey tight.
Katie stepped away from him and looked at him and then over her shoulder to George who had an unreadable expression on his face. "I think you two really need each other," she whispered and side stepped him to hurry off.
"Bah! Who needs her?" Fred asked while waving his hand. He managed to make his way over to George's bed without falling but landed ungracefully in the chair. "You and me…all we need is each other, alright? We don't need anyone else. Yeah? 'Cause I'm here for you, Georgie Porgie. Although…I kinda failed you with this whole eating thing…but I'm here for you now. I promise."
"Yeah," George stretched his words while nodding. He took in his brother's disheveled hair, bloodshot eyes, and off-kilter smile. He sighed and put his face in his hands while shaking his head.
Fred wouldn't be like this if it weren't for me. I…I did this to him. Fred,please forgive me.
"Fred," George mumbled while lifting his head. Fred tilted his head to one side and then quickly corrected himself before falling over sideways.
George took a deep breath in and let it out slowly. "I…I need help," he uttered, his words shaking. Not just his words but his body began to shake as well.
Fred blinked a few times before laughing with glee. "Right you do, George, right you do! And Imma help you. But first!" He held his finger in George's face. "We need to get rid of the toad!"
"Merlin, what a long day," Fred sighed as he trudged up the stairs of their new home. He couldn't stop the smile that came to his face at the very thought that they owned it. It was theirs. They could come and go whenever they wanted and finally live their dreams. And after a day filled with excitement and chaos since they woke up that morning all he wanted to do was sleep.
"Mhm," George mumbled in response, slowly following Fred up the stairs. "Did you see the toad's face?"
"I won't be able to get it out of my mind," Fred laughed gleefully. "Man, what an exit, huh? I'll bet that one goes down in history books. Fireworks. We might be up there with the Marauders now."
"One can only hope or else that was all for nothing."
Fred opened the door to their flat above their shop and started to look around as George immediately crashed on the couch.
"That's a good idea," Fred said as he stood above his brother, looking down on him. "Getting some sleep. You'll need it. Things are going to change, starting tomorrow. I'm going to get you all the help you need, okay?" He bit down on his lip as his eyes swept over George's sunken-in cheek bones. "I'll get something to eat. You can have some of it once you wake up," he said suddenly and then moved towards the door.
George shifted on the couch, bringing a cushion underneath his head. "Fred?" He called out without opening his eyes.
Fred hesitated by the door. "Yeah?"
It took a moment for George to reply. "Thanks," he uttered.
George couldn't see the smile that Fred directed at the door but he heard Fred's soft sigh. "Anytime, George," Fred replied earnestly with a touch of affection. "Anytime."
A small smile formed on George's face before his muscles relaxed and he drifted off to sleep.
My last fic update of the decade. Thanks to all who have left reviews and left kudos and convinced me to keep going with crossposting this fic. It breathed new life that I didn't expect but am very appreciative of. Please let me know what you think and thank you for sticking around with me to the end!