Got Your Back
"Hey, George, get up!"
George groaned and curled tighter into himself.
"Come on! We've got a Quiddich match!"
George felt his heart sink. He couldn't play Quiddich feeling like this. His head pounded, his throat was sore, and he felt entirely too cold, yet his sheets were soaked. On top of everything else, he had spent the night being sick.
"George?" Fred pulled back the curtains and looked at his twin. He didn't look good. He was pale and shaking, and the light had his eyes squeezed shut in pain. Fred stood next to the bed and pulled the curtains closed behind him. "What happened?"
George groaned, "Sick."
"I can see that. Do I need to go tell Wood?"
At that, George started struggling to get up. He couldn't let Wood down. There weren't any reserve Beaters, so if he couldn't make it, the match would be cancelled.
"Whoa, whoa. Are you sure you can pull this off? You look like death warmed over."
"I have to."
"Here, let me help."
George was grateful for his twin's assistance. To be honest, he could barely stand up by himself. His legs trembled and his stomach seemed to be doing flips. Also, the room was swaying dangerously, and he had started sweating. Why was it so hot?
As Fred helped George get ready, he watched him. It was fairly obvious that his twin would be lucky to stay on the broom through the game, needless to say actually play. Well, if he was determined to go, the least Fred could do was to give him all the help he could.
As they walked out on the field, George leaning heavily on Fred, Fred whispered to him, "I'll take both Bludgers. Just don't draw attention to yourself. I will get you through this."
George only nodded, not trusting himself to speak. Wood had made him eat breakfast, though he had tried to eat as little as possible. Now all he needed to do was keep it down and hope Harry would catch the Snitch quickly. Unfortunately, keeping it down was already becoming a problem, and he hadn't even mounted his broomstick yet.
The match passed as a blur. True to his word, Fred took care of both Bludgers, all George had to do was to stay on his broom. Good thing, too. He wasn't sure he could have managed anything else. His head throbbed in time with his heartbeat, and he alternated between feeling as if he was in a furnace and swearing that it was about to snow. Not long into the game his peripheral vision had turned gray, so everything looked like it was at the end of a tunnel. It was taking all his concentration to keep his breakfast down and stay on the broom. Several times he had to bite back a whimper at the last second.
After what seemed like an eternity, he heard the call from very far away, "And Harry Potter has caught the Snitch! Gryffindor wins!" Immediately, Fred was next to him, pressing his broom next to his. George leaned on his twin, barely aware of what he was doing. Together they landed and Fred helped him dismount. While everyone was still cheering, Fred helped his incredibly pale brother off the field. Once they were out of sight, George collapsed on the ground and curled up into a ball, shaking. Fred just sat there next to him and rubbed his back comfortingly. Soon, George couldn't hold it back any more. He made it up to all fours and was sick. Once he was done, he folded back into a ball. Fred pulled him over until his head was in his lap and draped his robe over him. For a while they just sat there, George trembling from fever and exhaustion, and Fred just letting him know that he was there for him. Eventually, Fred reluctantly shook George gently to get his attention.
"We need to get you to the hospital wing. Can you help me?"
"I- I'll try."
Fred helped George into a sitting position, then they worked their way up until they were both standing. George's face had lost the little color it had regained, and Fred was basically holding him up. With one arm wrapped around Fred for support, George kept his other arm wrapped tightly around his stomach. He wasn't sure if he was going to puke again or not, but the pressure seemed to help. Slowly and laboriously, they worked their way back to the castle. Everyone seemed to be off celebrating, so at least they didn't run into anyone and have to answer any awkward questions. Finally, after several rests and a couple of dry heaves, they made it to the hospital wing.
Madame Pompfrey took one look at George, who was at this point barely semiconscious, and quickly got him into bed. Fred pulled up a chair and sat down next to him.
"Fred?" George slurred.
"I'm right here," was the reply.
"Thanks," and with that, George surrendered to unconsciousness.
For the next few hours Fred just sat there and watched his brother sleep, pale and exhausted. Occasionally he would tense up, but he would relax as soon as Fred put his hand out and reassured him that he was still there.
He had done everything he could to help him out. He had taken both Bludgers, though now he knew why there were always two Beaters. He was exhausted, and he knew he would be sporting more than a few new bruises. Why is it so cold in here? He grabbed a blanket from one of the empty beds and wrapped it around himself before sitting back down. Eventually, though he fought it, he drifted off into a light sleep.
Fred woke up with a jolt and immediately sprinted into the bathroom, where he proceeded to lose everything in his stomach. It seemed that whatever it was that George had was contagious. Once he was done being sick, he made his way unsteadily back to his chair. The world seemed to be tilting, and it was hard to keep his footing. The throbbing in his head wasn't helping his concentration either. Once he got back, he noticed the blanket he had gotten earlier on the floor beneath the chair. Why on earth did I ever want a blanket? It's roasting in here!
Just then, Madame Pompfrey came back to check on George. When she saw his twin sitting there, identically pale and shaking, she quickly packed him into bed.
Fred's mind was a little fuzzy, but he knew one thing, he had to stay with George. When Madame Pompfrey tried to get him to leave, he resisted, albeit weakly.
"I can't leave him," the protest was barely whispered.
Madame Pompfrey solved the problem by moving the two beds so close together they were practically touching. Once Fred realized that he was still with his brother, he collapsed into the bed and surrendered into uneasy unconsciousness, just like his twin.
Harry was up in the Gryffindor common room, celebrating their victory, when he noticed the absence of Fred and George.
"Hey, Ron, have you seen the twins?"
"I haven't seen them since the match. Where d'you suppose they are?"
"I'll go find them. You enjoy the party."
With that, Harry discretely left the room to find his friends. He wondered where they could possibly be. It wasn't like them to miss a celebration. After looking in the Great Hall, the dungeons, and several other places, he had run out of ideas. Finally, as a last resort, he decided to look in the hospital wing. When he got there, Madame Pompfrey was there.
"I suppose you're here to see the two Mr. Weasleys."
With that, Harry went in and saw both Fred and George in beds only a hair's breadth apart. Both were exceptionally pale, as well as obviously feverish. At this point in time, Fred was in the middle of being sick into a pail next to his bed. Harry went over, sat down next to him, and rubbed his back soothingly. Once he was done, Fred looked blearily up at him. "Harry, why are you here? You should be celebrating."
"Well, you know, it's not really a celebration without you two."
A ghost of a smile appeared on Fred's white lips, then he was asleep once again.
Harry decided to stay with his friends. He pulled up a chair and settled back into it. Every so often, one of the two would wake up for a few moments, only to go right back to sleep. Harry doubted they were aware enough to even realize he was there. Finally, George seemed to wake up more fully.
"Hey, Harry. What are you doing here?"
"Well, you wouldn't have thought I'd leave you here alone, did you?"
"Look next to you," Harry replied, a smile tugging on his lips.
George looked over, then jumped a little when he realized how close his twin actually was.
"That's what I was hoping you would tell me. I just came in here and there the two of you were."
"I woke up this morning barely able to stand. I… didn't want to have the match called for me, so Fred helped me out and I somehow made it through the game. As soon as you caught the Snitch we… left… We sat outside the stands for a while, I'm not sure how long, and then I-I think we came here, but I… don't re-really remember it." While George was talking, his eyelids started to droop and he began losing color. However, it was obvious that he was concerned for the state of his twin.
Harry turned to Madame Pompfrey and asked, just as much for George as for himself, "What happened to Fred?"
"Well, he sat next to his brother for a few hours, then I left the room. When I came back, he was pale and shaking with vomit flecking his lips. I packed him into bed, though he fought. He didn't want to leave his brother, he said. Hence why their beds are so close."
Harry turned back to George. "I guess he got whatever you have."
"I guess so," George replied, looking both upset and guilty.
"You look terrible. Just rest, I'll look after him."
"Thanks…" and with that, George went back to sleep.
While George seemed to be recovering, Fred's illness had only just begun. Within a few hours, their roles had reversed. George was helping his brother, though Harry helped a little. Whatever the illness was, it was short term, but it took a lot out of you.
Now George was the one rubbing his brother's back and letting him know he was there. Fred was so miserable that he wasn't even ashamed when he laid his head down in George's lap and went to sleep. George, for his part, just let him sleep while gently rubbing between his shoulder blades. Whenever Fred was sick, Harry was there with a bucket, but other than that he mainly stayed out of the way. Occasionally Fred would wake up, but once he realized that George was there he went back to sleep.
Around midnight Madame Pompfrey made Harry leave, so he bade goodnight to George and expressed his hope that they both would be feeling better soon. Then he went back to his dormitory.
This left George alone in the hospital wing with Fred. He knew how his twin was feeling, and he wished there was something he could do. However, he knew that there wasn't much to do except be there for him.
Eventually, he fell asleep, still sitting up with Fred in his lap. When he woke several hours later, Fred was sitting up in his bed, looking exhausted but with a bit more color.
"Hey. You feeling better?"
"I know how you felt earlier. How on earth did you pull off a Quiddich match?"
"I don't remember, but I know I couldn't have done it without you."
Fred shifted position, but winced as he did so.
"Two Bludgers. Sometimes hitting one meant letting another hit me."
"Mostly just bruises. There's one spot on my thigh that really smarts, though."
"Let me see."
"I'm your brother and your twin. You took that Bludger for me. The least you can do is let me see."
Fred went to pull up his pants leg, but as soon as he pulled, his breath caught and he stopped, his eyes shut tight against the pain.
George leaned over and gently pulled the pants leg up, stopping whenever he could tell it hurt. Eventually, he got it up enough so that he could see the injury. It was a bruise, but that hardly seemed to cover it. It was a mass of blues, blacks, and purples, as well as being noticeably swollen.
"You took that for me?"
"It's there, isn't it?"
"How on earth did you manage to put any weight on it, needless to say yours and mine?" George's breath hitched as he thought about the pain he had put his brother through.
Fred noticed and put his hand on George's arm. "It's okay, really. I was running on adrenaline and barely felt it." This was not necessarily true. Fred had been just as relieved when they stopped to rest on the way inside as George had. However, he would have done it all over again if given the option.
At that point, George remembered where they were and called Madame Pompfrey over. As soon as she saw the injury, she brought a cream over to rub on it. As soon as she touched it, Fred let out a whimper. George reached out and gave him his hand. Fred squeezed it hard until Madame Pompfrey was done. By that time all color had fled from his face and his breath was coming in short gasps. George scooted over to his twin and wrapped his arm around him, holding him tight until he relaxed.
The next morning, George was released from the hospital wing, but Fred was still too weak, though his symptoms had abated. Although he was free to go, George stayed right beside his twin as he slept, always ready to reassure him of his presence.
By that night they were both allowed to go back to their dormitory, though they still had to refrain from any strenuous activity for another week. This might have been a problem, except that each twin was determined to make sure that the other followed the instruction. George let Fred lean on him as they made their way slowly back to the Gryffindor tower, since his leg still wouldn't take his full weight. By the time they made it back to their respective beds, they were both exhausted. Just before they fell asleep, Fred whispered,
"Thanks for sticking with me."
"Yeah, well you stuck with me first."
"See you tomorrow."