The Sugar Quill
Author: Mizaya (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Funeral for a Friend  Chapter: Default
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George Weasley never imagined he’d have to attend this funeral

George Weasley never imagined he’d have to attend this funeral. He looked around and sighed. He was sitting exactly at the center of the Burrow’s rough Quidditch Pitch, where he’d spent a great portion of his youth, running around, learning to fly, collecting insects to put in Percy’s bed. The evening breeze was warm, and the grass swayed in great sweeping curves. Dots of bright yellow and white marked wildflowers that always bloomed this time of year. It was a perfect day. He couldn’t have asked for better.

Looking back to his immediate surroundings, he took in the absurdity of it all: the rectangular hole dug in the ground in front of him, the little garden gnomes standing around it, dressed against their will in black mourning attire. They struggled feebly to get away, but their feet were pinned to the ground with Sticking Charms, and so they just swayed like the grass, occasionally letting out rather colorful swears that he’d helped teach them long ago.

"I can’t believe we’re doing this," he said, voicing his thoughts.

"And why not?" said his twin, who sat on the opposite side of the hole. "It’s an event that calls for some pomp and circumstance."

"You seem more attached to my ear than I ever was, and I was fairly attached to it. Been together since birth and all."

"Brother mine," said Fred, "you’re thinking only of your loss. Think of our loss! This isn’t the mere death of an ear, it’s the death of our identicalness, of our very twinhood! No more can we play the old ‘Just pulling your leg, Mum, I really am Fred’ game. No longer can we use our mirror images as a gimmick at the shop. Never again can we switch in the middle of a double date if we decide we fancy each other’s birds. It is a sad day for us both!"

"Come off it. You’re just jealous because you know girls like to play sympathetic nursemaid. ‘Oh Georgie, you poor thing, let me kiss it better.’"

Fred shook his head solemnly. "In time, you will grieve as I do. When the sympathy wears off and they all decide you’re an asymmetrical mess. If one of us had to lose an ear, it should have been me; you need all the help you can get in the romance department."

George snorted. "This coming from the man who had two birds slap him at the same time when they found out he was dating both of them at once."

"We’re getting off track," Fred said quickly. "The dearly departed, if you please."

George reached into his robe pocket and pulled out the shriveled, lifeless bit of flesh. It was barely recognizable as an ear anymore. Actually, it was rather disgusting looking now, twisted and discolored and much smaller than the one he still had.

"Amazing you managed to hold on to it, really."

"I wasn’t going to lose it without a fight," George said, though in reality he wasn’t sure how he’d managed to save it. Instinct, he supposed, had had him clutching for his ear the moment Snape began cutting it off. He’d found it held tight in his hand after he’d woken up on the sofa. It could never be reattached, of course. He’d considered binning it, but the idea of throwing away his ear was too bizarre. Then Fred had come up with this funeral nonsense, and there was no stopping Fred once he had an idea in his head.

George offered the ear to his brother, who lifted it with his wand and set it down ceremoniously into the orange Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes box he’d brought along as a coffin. Then he pulled something from his own pocket—a long bit of flesh-colored string, an Extendable Ear—and placed it in the small box before closing the lid.

At George’s curious look he said, "It wouldn’t be right to bury it without a beloved trinket."

"A beloved trinket? It never expressed any fondness for Extendable Ears to me."

"Au contraire!" Fred said. "Your ear loved Extendables. You couldn’t see, of course, it being on the side of your head, but that ear of yours positively twitched with excitement whenever you used one."

"I never knew," George said. It was silly, talking about his ear like this, but it felt good to play along. "What else didn’t I know about my ear, I wonder?"

"The stories I could tell you!"

George smiled at his twin. "Maybe another time. The gnomes are getting impatient."

They were at that. The one nearest Fred had managed to unstick a foot, and he was balancing comically on the one that remained fixed to the ground. Fred eyed him menacingly and he put the free foot back on the ground and grimaced.

"Get ready, you louts," Fred told the gnomes. He swung his wand like a conductor’s baton and the bumpy little creatures all took a deep breath and began singing. George thought it might be the most dreadful noise he’d ever heard. For the first time, he was glad he only had one ear.

"I taught them last night," Fred shouted over their screeching cacophony. "They could use a bit more practice."

George didn’t think any amount of practice would help. He clapped a hand over his working ear and cringed throughout the rest of the song.

"What the hell was that supposed to be?" he asked Fred when the gnomes finally trailed off. A couple of them kept warbling until George shot Silencio at them.

"A funeral march," Fred said in a disappointed tone. "Might be more suited for Mandrakes, though."

"I think even Mandrakes would have a hard time listening to that. But it was a valiant effort."

Fred made an awkward half-bow from his kneeling position, spreading his arm in a wide gesture. "You’re too kind. Shall we get on with it?"

"If we must."

Shooting him a glare, Fred used his wand to carefully lower the box into the narrow hole, which was several feet deep. Dirt began streaming into it from a pile next to George, and soon there was a neat, rounded mound of a grave.

"Should we mark it with something?" George asked.

"A step ahead of you, as always." Fred took out a flattish stone from inside his robes. He placed it firmly on top of the mound and read the miniscule engraving aloud. "Here lies George’s ear. Dear friend, trusted listener, master eavesdropper."

"That’s all you could come up with?"

Fred shrugged. "I was in a hurry. You can change it if you want to. I only used a simple Carving Spell."

"It’s fine." George reached into the grass beside him and plucked a few wildflowers, which he laid on top of the little headstone. "There." He stood to leave, but Fred stopped him.

"One last thing." He pulled something else from his robes—George was beginning to wonder if he’d used an Undetectable Extension Charm on his pocket. They were Whiz-Bangs. "Thought we’d give it a nice send-off," he said as he lit them.

They weren’t regular Whiz-Bangs, George soon found out. They were the leftover testers from a batch they’d deemed too loud and low flying. They whistled and exploded right over their heads, showering them with multi-colored, glittering sparks.

"For your listening pleasure," Fred yelled.

"Are you trying to make me completely deaf?" George yelled back.

Fred just grinned.

After the fireworks had died out, they released the gnomes (who went scattering in all directions, tearing off the black garments as they ran) and started walking back toward the Burrow. George shot one last look over his shoulder, at the spot where he knew the grave was, though it was hidden now by the tall grass.

"Fred," he said, "I appreciate what you did and all, but if I die before you, please don’t let my actual funeral be anything like that."

"Too many garden gnomes?"

"Among other things." He fancied himself a pretty simple person, when it came down to it. Fred was the extravagant one.

"Well if I die before you," Fred said, "I want my funeral to be exactly like that. On a much bigger scale, of course. Family and friends and all. I want it to be an enormous party. Gallons of firewhisky, loads of fireworks. No moping around." After a moment he added, "Though the gnome chorus could stand to be a bit more rehearsed. And I’d prefer them to sing something a little more upbeat, maybe a Weird Sisters tune..."

Fred described his ideal memorial service the whole way back, but George only half-listened—which, really, was all he could do anymore. He had a feeling that he and Fred would have the next hundred years to plan their funerals.

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