Chapter 19 All Together...Almost
When Fred woke up again, he was disoriented at first, but looking around the room, everything came back to him. Seeing George asleep next to him made his heart feel lighter than a feather. Sitting back against the pillows, he heaved as big a sigh as he could with his still healing ribs. He sat there for a moment, just relishing in the sound of George's even breathing.
"So, you two really do fit in one bed."
Fred jumped, and snapped his head to the side. Seeing Draco leaning up against the wall, hidden partially in shadow, he said, "Godric, Malfoy! How ironic would you think it would be if you went through all you did to get me here, just to have me die of a heart attack?!"
Draco smirked, and Fred huffed.
"How's your face?"
Draco gave a one arm shrug, as he moved over to sit in a chair that was sitting beside the bed. "It still stings a bit, but Snape was able to come up with a proper counter curse, to get the bleeding to finally stop. It's gonna scar, but I hear that the ladies like scars, so I'm not too worried. Fred absently reached up to touch his own scar on his face, remembering that someone-he didn't know now who had said it-told him it was going to scar as well. Seeing Draco watch the gesture, his face full of guilt, Fred quickly came up with something to distract the younger boy.
"What?" Fred said mockingly. "You're not worried about marring your beautiful face?"
Draco put his hand over his heart in a mock touched gesture. "Why, I didn't know you cared!"
"Ugh. I don't care what you two went through, stop flirting! Or at least do it when I'm not in the room!"
Both Fred and Draco jumped as George sat up, blinking the sleep out of his eyes.
"It's not like that, we were just joking!"
George held up his hands in a defensive gesture. "Okay! Sorry! But seriously, don't let anyone else hear you talking like that, they might get the wrong idea."
"Says the guy who shared a bed with another guy last night," Draco muttered.
"Hey, don't pin this on George, you did the same thing the other night!"
Fred blinked a moment, and the three boys exchanged looks with each other. Then they burst out laughing.
"Oh man! I don't think I've laughed that hard in ages!" Fred finally gasped out, wincing as he clutched at his sore side.
"S-same here!" George responded in kind. He was panting, still letting a small giggle out once in a while. The twins looked at Draco, who was still going.
"Malfoy? Hey Draco, calm down!" Fred was beginning to worry. Draco looked like he was about to pull an I'm-laughing-but-now-I'm-gonna-cry stunt.
"I-I don't know i-if I've ever l-laughed like that before. Great-t, now I sound like L-libby." As soon as Draco said it, Fred knew it was coming. Pushing himself up, ignoring a confused George, he managed to pull Draco-he was hardly resisting-out of the chair and onto the already crowded bed. "Libby." Draco choked out, and the floodgates let loose.
As George had done for him a few hours before, now he did for Draco, pulling the younger boy to him for a hug. Fred ignored how his ribs protested to him sitting up, and he kept up a vigil rubbing Draco's back as Draco's tears soaked Fred's pajama shirt. Fred looked at George over Draco's shoulder, and quietly said, "Libby was his house elf. She helped Draco out when I was badly injured after he came home for the holidays, and then I think Bellatrix killed her because she was annoying her."
As a look of understanding crossed George's face, Draco's crying started to calm, and he pulled back, wiping his tears off his face with the back of his hand. "Sorry," he said, looking at the large wet spot on Fred's shoulder.
"Don't worry 'bout it."
Suddenly very self conscious, Draco turned around to look at George. Fred realized that Draco was unsure how George would react to everything. Draco opened his mouth, probably to apologize for his part in Fred's captivity, but George held up his hand.
"Don't apologize. And
yeah, it was kinda obvious that's what you were going to do. But while
you could have done things differently and saved everyone involved a lot
of grief, I just wanted to say thank you. I never thought I'd see Fred
again." As he said the last part of his sentence, his voice sounded a
bit thick, and Fred felt his eye's tear up again.
Draco nodded his head. "You're welcome, and I really am sorry." Looking between the two, it seemed as though he wanted to say something more, but decided it could wait. Fred figured the look Draco gave him was trying to convey some sort of message, but Fred had no idea what. Unless, oh. Last night. Dumbledore's conversation.
"I have to go," the Slytherin said, and stood up.
Fred nodded, and said "Talk to you later?" while trying to give his own look, unsure if it was coming across right. Ugh. How was it possible to feel like your brain had a gnome running around in circles in it?
Draco nodded, and walked away.
Fred looked at George.
"So..." Fred said.
They sat in silence for a moment, both unsure of what to say. Finally, George spoke up, but Fred had been dreading this moment.
"What happened to your arm?"
Fred swallowed hard a few times, and tried to speak, but no words would come out. He shut his eyes tightly for a moment, trying not to think of the burning pain, Bellatrix's laugh, the knife, the blood-
"Fred!" he heard George say. He blinked, and focused in on George's concerned face.
"Huh?" he managed.
"I called you several times, but you didn't answer." George audibly swallowed, and looking as though he was approaching a wounded animal, he said, "Freddie, what happened to your arm?"
Taking a deep breath, Fred started to unwrap the bandages.
"No, stop!" George said, lunging to stop Fred's actions.
"You asked! Now let me show you! I-I can't, I just-" Fred started wheezing.
Air, he needed air!
Vaguely, he could hear George calling his name, trying to get his attention. Just focus on my voice, George was saying.
When Fred had finally calmed down, he was surprised to feel tears on his face, and he sniffed, trying in vain to keep his nose from running. Without thinking about it, he took the offered handkerchief from George, and blew his nose loudly.
"You okay?" George's question was anticipated, but he wasn't sure how to answer. He wanted to say, No Georgie, I'm not ever going to be okay. But he nodded his head, hoping that it would placate his twin somewhat.
As he reached for the bandages once again, George looked as though he was about to protest once again, but Fred stopped him. "No, I have to show you. I don't think I can say it. Please."
George backed off, and nodded his head.
Fred looked away, not willing to look at the hideous lettering on his arm, as he was fully aware of George's eyes on it.
After what seemed to be an eternity, George finally spoke. "Oh, Fred." Fred winced at all the pain he heard in his name, and felt a wave of guilt wash over him.
"Wha-why?" George demanded. Fred finally looked over at him, and wasn't surprised to see the tears streaking down George's face.
"Because it's causing you pain. If I had just not gotten caught-"
"Stop it right now! Don't you dare blame yourself! You're just a victim, and had no control over what happened. Yes, I'm upset, but not because of anything you did. Not ever."
Fred was hunched over sobbing again, and for the third time in a few hours, he was hugging someone.
It was while they were sitting there, both calming down, when the rest of the family came in.
Ginny was the first one to reach them. Fred grunted a bit when she threw herself into his arms, and he heard his mother scolding her. "Sorry," Ginny muttered apologetically before reaching out and hugging him again. "Oh, Fred! I'm so glad you're here, and alive!"
Fred huffed a quick laugh. "I'm glad I'm alive too!"
Next was Bill, who, being the big brother and all, was trying to keep himself a little more composed than everyone else, but Fred still heard the slight crack in his voice as Bill said, "Glad to have you back Freddie."
Ron's eyes were red, but Fred was pretty sure he wasn't going to let himself cry. He'd learned a long time ago to be careful where Fred and George was involved, and who knew when something like crying would be used against him in some prank later? But Fred was still happy to hear Ron say, "Happy to see you, git."
"Right back at you."
"Oh, Freddie!" This time, Fred really had to fight back the tears, as his mother swooped in for a hug. "My goodness, you're way too thin! Just wait until I can get some proper food in you. I'll have you fattened up in no time!" Fred just laughed. How many times in the last few months had he been wising for his mother's home cooked meals?
"Fred," his father said. Fred looked up. Usually his father tried to let his mother get all emotional, but this time, there was no mistaking the tears in his eyes. Fred hadn't hugged his father a lot in his life, and relished in the embrace now.
"Merry Christmas," Fred heard, and looked over to see Harry standing beside his bed.
"Hello Harry!" This time, Fred felt his face split into a wide grin as Harry moved in to give him a hug.
"Wait until Hermione hears about this, she'll be so happy."
Yes, it was a perfect holiday. Fred couldn't be happier.
Draco felt a strange sensation building up in his chest, as he watched the Weasley family reunion. There was so much love, real caring.
That was what a family was supposed to be like.
Feeling a lump rising in his throat, he turned away from the hospital room, but not before he noticed Potter's glare thrown his way. But he wouldn't let Potter get the better of him. Sticking his chin up, Draco turned and stalked away.
But every step he took seemed to make the strange sensation seem that much heavier.
Please be alright Mum.