Half of Me
George Weasley stared at the mahogany coffin that encased his brother's lifeless body. His expression, as it had been since the loss of Fred, was unreceptive; prior to the war, George's chocolate-brown eyes would continuously sparkle with a jovial nature, enough to make anyone's chest blossom with warmth. Nowadays George was liable to having jaded eyes, no matter how hard he attempted to feign a smile. As unfortunate as it was to acknowledge, but most people could sense that George’s smile wasn’t genuine. There was a hint of disenchantment, one that shone through the façade and exposed the fragility of George’s emotions. It was only natural for George to be taking this the hardest. Once, he and Fred stood as a team, and now George was present at his brother's funeral with trembling hands that held a scrap of parchment.
No one had ever anticipated the separation of Fred and George Weasley. Many assumed, including George himself, that the two would meet their end in some sort of potions disaster, as the boisterous duo conjured up a new addition to their business. George had no idea how he would manage the shop on his own - every aspect reminded him gravely of his brother, to the extent of bringing unwanted tears to his eyes. Maybe one of his siblings would offer to help, which the ginger would be awfully thankful for... But George knew it wouldn't be the same.
He tried so hard to be strong for everyone. George understood that he wasn't the only one who had suffered such a significant loss. Everyone, good or bad, had lost someone they cared for. And whilst George had never been one to consider a stranger's feelings, thoughts such as that had been preoccupying his mind, along with the evident thoughts and qualms. That was why George had claimed the position of giving a speech at Fred's funeral. The writing process was rather difficult, especially as George refused the help of anyone else, however he handled it in due time. Memorising the oration was proven to be extremely thorny as well, hence the prompt scrunched up in George's hand.
A voice abruptly interrupted George's reflection time, dragging him back to the harsh reality of his world. The gloomy sight of the funeral became one of clarity, and George sighed as he felt a drizzle of rain begin to fall from the dreary sky. It was time. George heaved himself up to the podium.
Deep breaths, George, he told himself firmly, Collapsing isn't going to help anyone!
George wasn't nervous. Not really, anyway. His chest was so tight with feelings he couldn't ever communicate, and his head was pounding out the beat of his heart. It felt like he was in a dream; no, a nightmare. A horrific one, one that claimed his senses and tossed his mind into a dark pool of meaningless emotions. A void of misery.
George swallowed back a lump forming in his throat, but to no avail. His eyes surveyed the crowd in front of him; friends, family, guests, all who knew Fred Weasley in some way or another. George could imagine his brother's reaction to the dull clothing they all possessed. An utter scandal! Fred would have hated such a serious funeral for himself. George refrained from chuckling at his brother's absurdity; life was meant to be enjoyed, wasn't it? George had believed this for as long as he could remember. Fred wouldn't want people mourning over his death. Of course, Fred couldn't prevent people from feeling what they felt... But George would respect his brother's wishes.
In a strange, twisted way, George didn't feel like he had lost his brother. He knew there would be days where he'd miss Fred terribly, most days at the end of it. But Fred was still a part of his life, no matter where he was. They were attached by a bond too powerful to be broken by anything, let alone the infamous killing curse. Just like Harry Potter, Fred Weasley was a boy would lived. Lived on, within the memories of his loved ones, and lived through the life George would survive for them both.
George hadn't even begun speaking, yet tears blurred his vision. He drew a shaky breath, knowing that it was just about time to say goodbye to Fred Weasley.
"You all know who I am; George Weasley. Forge Weasley to some," George said in a lame attempt to ease the atmosphere. An incoherent titter washed over the crowd for a nanosecond, howbeit George knew it was too painful to crack a joke. He glared down at the smudged ink on the parchment in hand before tossing the paper away, hands curled up into fists.
"Today, we are here to commemorate one of the greatest heroes who sacrificed himself for the freedom of us all. There were many heroes, each of whom never thought they'd be seen as one! But they are the greatest, without a doubt. Without them, we'd be nothing right now. And I am standing in front of you all to say goodbye to my brother with you all, who was one of the many heroes we lost that night. Fred Weasley. Some of you will see him standing in front of you and speaking, not me. That's okay though. Fred was a part of me; our relationship is indescribable. He wasn't just my twin brother. Fred Weasley was also my best friend. My fellow idiot, my partner in crime, and my hero in many ways. The two of us had some wicked times. We laughed, we cried, we laughed some more. We never really argued. Not properly anyway. It was such a blessed relationship. My heart now has an empty space that cannot be filled ever again. I hate to have to admit that, however it is the absolute truth. People always say that time heals all wounds. I can't say I agree with that in my case especially, because the loss of a loved one is nothing like a wound, is it? It's more like a fire inside of you that grows inside of you, until the day it extinguishes. Even then, you're hurting on the inside and you're scarred in places you can't feel."
George paused for a moment, taking in the looks of the crowd. His hair was beginning to grow damp and he shivered a little, though something told him it wasn't because of the cold. “Fred was a hero to all of us, in a way. Whether he was able to help you smile during the darkest of times, or whether his life aided the downfall of a notorious man, Fred completed his duty for the entire population. A true Gryffindor - No! Sorry, I mean, a true Hogwarts student. Brave. Now, I know Fred better than I know the back of my hand. His wishes and goals in life, they were the same as mine. Sometimes when we started having a more emotional conversation, Fred would tell me; 'Georgie, you've got to keep fighting if something happens to me. I know that if I lost you, I'd lose myself entirely. But I don't want you to feel the same way if I go.' Initially I took it with a pinch of salt, for I never expected to lose Fred. I understand now that I'm still going to have to keep fighting, for both Fred and I. He is my responsibility because I aspired to make him as happy as I could. That's one reason I'm here, talking about him, regardless of how much it destroys me on the inside. He wouldn't want anyone else to have done this. My brother, if he could hear me now, I'd tell him that my life is his life too. From the moment we were born, our lives were intertwined and fused together. We were kind of like a mirror in a literal sense. When one of us laughed, the other would laugh too. If one of us was angry - Dear Merlin, good luck to whoever ticked one of us off! If one cried... The other would probably laugh at them before sharing the tears. Freddie, we'll end this together, no matter what. It was always supposed to be our end, not just yours-"
George stopped speaking as a previously suppressed sob broke past his lips, and he pinched the bridge of his nose as he took a few moments to calm himself. "S- Sorry," He muttered, clearing his throat after stopping himself from worsening. "As I was saying... Look, Fred adored his friends and family. Mum, Dad, Bill, Charlie, Percy, Ron and Ginny... You were his absolute treasures. Mine too, of course. It hurts so much, I know - But Fred wouldn't want you to experience pure agony for however long! Live a life for him to be proud of. If Fred was here... He'd thank you all, I know it. Harry, Lee and Hermione, I haven't forgotten you guys. You know how much Fred cared for you, in his own special way. He cared for everyone here, whether he expressed it outright or not."
Again, hesitation. There was a peculiar warmth beginning to form inside his chest, almost comforting, encouraging him to speak. George blinked back the sharp stinging sensation in his eyes, pressing on with his speech. “Losing Fred taught me a lot, as sad as it is to admit. I learnt a lot about having to face my own demons independently. I think all death offers a teaching – Blimey that sounds barmy coming from someone like me! But it’s true, and that’s the strangest aspect of it all,” George managed a wicked grin, even if it lasted for less than a second, “It reminds you of the mortality of life. The pain that comes with every journey. It makes you appreciate being alive more. I can’t say I enjoy being alive without my brother, ‘cause every time I look in the mirror, I feel a sense of betrayal and regret. But at the same time, it’s like I can see him staring at me… He feels betrayed by me being stuck on something I can never change. Like, life is bloody short. Even shorter if you’re a muggle! It’s understandable that there are some deaths you can never move on from, but it’s a life skill to learn to live anyway – Something I’ve learnt from many people sitting in the crowd in front of me.”
Another pause. This time, George spoke more firmly, with a calmer facade. "I'll never be a role model, nor do I ever wish to be. Why, you may ask? Because I'm only strong when I don't have any other choice. Fred's absence has made me carry a strength for many. It's my obligation, not a choice. I won't lie to you; if I had the choice, I'd rather be the one crying all the time whilst everyone consoles me. I cannot allow that though. I have to be strong for him. For Fred. Our Fred. An intelligent, witty, loving and hilarious man. An absolute, soggy git, with a heart of gold. They say that when you suffer a great loss, the pain moulds you into a kinder figure. I agree with this, for I am now only half the idiot I used to be, literally. He was my other half. And as a thank you, I'm going to make him proud of me."
George's breath hitched in his throat, wiping his eyes with the sleeve of his robes, "I don't know what comes after death. No one here does. I just hope that Fred's holy reward," He gestured to his ear for those who would understand, a joke made out of the sheer complexity of his emotions, "will be as great as his sacrifice. He may be gone from us, but may his presence forever linger in our memories and hearts. I love you Fred Weasley. You'll always be my brother, best friend and a breath of happiness to this world. Thank you for everything you have done for us. Goodbye, dearest Fred."