Chapter 18 Reunion
Ginny couldn't sleep.
After what had happened last night, with Bellatrix and Greyback attacking, who could?
Her mother hadn't cried, which had surprised Ginny to no end. Their home had just been burnt to the ground. Sure, they had a lot they could replace, but there were a lot of personal things that would never be salvaged. It hurt.
They had gone to Grimmauld Place afterward. Some of them had belongings there, from when they had spent the last Christmas at Sirius's home. They hadn't returned there since his death, but now-there wasn't really any where else they could go.
Christmas Eve was a somber day. Harry and Ron had spent all day locked in their room, doing who knows what. George had stayed in his room all day as well. At one point, he had wanted to go back to the shop, but their mother wouldn't have any of it, saying that Christmas was a family holiday, and that everyone was going to be there.
Of course, no mention was made of Charlie, who was still in Romania, and of course the elephant in the room: Fred.
Ginny had studied. No one made a comment about that, though she knew it was way out of character for her. But there wasn't much else to do.
That night, going to bed, Ginny was surprised that her parents had somehow come up with a bunch of stockings, and had hung them over the fireplace. Each one had a name on it. Ginny had to swallow hard when she saw Fred had one too.
She tossed and turned in her bed until about midnight, and finally decided that she wouldn't be able to sleep. Making her way down the stairs, careful to avoid Mrs. Black's picture, she wasn't surprised to find George sitting on the couch. They were both in the pajamas, and Ginny was sporting her bathrobe-ironically, the only thing of hers that had survived the fire. Without saying anything, she just curled up on the couch next to her older brother, and they both just sat there, staring at the stocking that belonged to their missing family member.
Ginny must have drifted off at one point, when their fireplace roared to life. She jumped, and was a little surprised at how quickly George reacted, pulling his wand out from somewhere in his pajamas.
They both heaved a sigh of relief, though, when they realized it was just Lupin. But then Ginny did get worried. It was one in the morning, and Lupin was here? Why?
"George." Lupin said, seemingly not surprised to see the two out of bed. But Lupin didn't greet Ginny.
Her mind racing, she came to the conclusion that Lupin's visit had something to do with George. But then again, why so late?
It hit her.
No. It couldn't be because of-
George didn't seem to get it. But Ginny finally found her voice.
"Fred?" She cursed how her voice trembled, how so much hope, so much dread could be heard in that one word. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw George go white.
"Yes." Was the simple answer.
Ginny felt her knees go weak, and George actually fell to his.
"Alive?" The hope was stronger now, but Ginny was now cursing the fact that she couldn't seem to form a complete sentence.
Again, the answer was yes. Before she could ask the one word question "Where?", Lupin said, "He's at Hogwarts right now. Madam Pomfrey is looking after him."
Before Ginny knew she was doing it, she was racing away and up the stairs, shouting over and over.
"Wake up! Wake up! Fred is alive! He's at Hogwarts!"
Downstairs, George cried freely in Lupin's gentle embrace.
It was two hours later that the whole story had been told, and everyone was dressed in some manner or another, waiting anxiously outside the hospital wing at Hogwarts. Madam Pomfrey had made it very clear that they weren't to disturb Fred, that he was sleeping, and that she would allow two at a time to go in and look at him, to see with their own two eyes that he was alive. But she didn't want them to crowd "the poor boy." Their mother had shed some tears hearing that phrase.
Molly and Arthur went in first. When they came out ten minutes later, neither one had a dry eye, and Molly was leaning heavily on her husband.
George wanted so badly to go next, but he was scared. Scared of what he might find.
He let Bill and Ron go instead.
Then Ginny went in. He almost went with her, but had instead asked Harry to go with her. When they had come back out, Ginny had been crying, but Harry had a stony, almost angry look on his face.
He finally went in.
It took all his resolve not to break down immediately.
The first thought that went through his head was, We're no longer identical.
It was true. There was a visible scar across one side of his face, and he was pale, and too thin. There were numerous bandages that George knew would be hiding other injuries, maybe future scars.
And it made George feel sick.
He laid his head down on the bed and cried himself to sleep. And when Madam Pomfrey came in after his time had been up for a while, she bit back the scolding that had been on her tongue, and let him be.
Fred could feel the tears now coursing down his face, as he looked at his twin. It didn't escape his notice that it seemed as though George had been crying at some point as well, the tear tracks still visible on his own face. It took Fred a moment to realize that it was because of him.
Oh Godric. How much pain did I cause my family?
He must have made some sort of sound, because George suddenly jerked, and sat up, blinking the sleep out of his eyes.
Then he focused on Fred. They stared at each other for a moment, both with raging emotions swirling through their eyes, before George lunged forward, and pulled Fred into a crushing hug.
Fred grunted a bit, as his broken ribs protested, and that seemed to open the floodgates.
"Oh, I'm so sorry! Are you hurt? Should I get Madam Pomfrey? Did I-"
"Georgie!" Fred finally croaked out. "Just stop! I'm okay. Just-" Fred started to tear up again.
No more words were needed. George was crying in relief, and Fred was finally feeling everything that had happened crash down on him.
But no more. I'm safe. George is here, he'll keep me safe.
When Madam Pomfrey came back again, to check on how the twins were, she felt tears come to her own eyes as she looked at the brothers asleep in each others arms, both looking far more peaceful that they had before.
Ginny had heard the part of the story about how Malfoy had helped to rescue Fred.
It wasn't as though she didn't believe it. She was just angry.
Ron was downright furious, and he expressed it fully, as he and Harry made their way up to Gryffindor tower. They both seemed to think that Malfoy had some other agenda for rescuing Fred, and that the Slytherin was even less trustworthy than before. Ginny's parents seemed surprised, and so did Bill, but they walked off, seeming to no longer care about that particular aspect of Fred's escape.
Watching the twin's reunion from the doorway, Ginny fought the urge to run into the room and hug them both, but she restrained herself, knowing that this should be a private moment.
It was then that Ginny noticed him, standing in the shadows of the hall. He locked eyes with her, and they just stared.
Ginny didn't realize her feet were moving until she had reached out and slapped Draco Malfoy across the face. It would only be later that she realized she had picked the side that didn't have horrible claw marks on it.
Greyback. Lupin had said something about the other werewolf being involved.
After her hand had connected with the Slytherin's face, he stared at her in shock, as she poked her finger at his chest. "That's for being a coward and not getting him out of there sooner!"
Draco flinched back a little, and then his shock turned to surprise as Ginny stood up on her tiptoes, and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
Suddenly realizing what she had just done, she felt her face heat up. Staring at her toes, she stammered, "That's for being brave enough to get him out."
Then before she could make a bigger fool of herself, she turned on her heel, and followed Harry and Ron's previous route to Gryffindor tower.