By Poppy P
A/N: As always, I’m grateful to Hallie for
the Brit pick and Zsenya for the beta. Credit to Z for the “chastity charm”. J
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Bill crept into
the Burrow as quietly as possible, careful not to let the door slam. He and
Remus had just returned from trying to find Moody’s body, with no luck. Molly
had been adamant about Remus and Tonks spending the night, since it was very
late. Bill had insisted that Remus go on up to bed while he saw to the Thestrals
that they had used during the mission.
He slipped into the living room
and was surprised to see that it wasn’t empty. Fred was sprawled out on the
shabby sofa, fast asleep. George was slouching in the armchair, staring
broodingly into the fire.
“George,” said Bill softly.
“What are you two doing here?”
George startled slightly at the
sound of Bill’s voice. “Hey, Bill. I forgot you were still out there.”
“What are you doing here?” repeated
Bill, his eyes glancing over Fred’s sleeping form.
George made an exasperated
noise. “Mum,” he said shortly. “She insisted on me staying over so she could
look over my wound in the morning. Fred said he’d stay as well. I think it’s
mostly because it’s his turn to cook breakfast tomorrow.”
Bill crouched down in front of
the armchair and took George’s face in his hands. He turned him so that the
light from the fire hit the side where George had lost his ear. “Mum did a
good job,” he said, appraisingly.
George shrugged. “I guess so,”
he said. “There wasn’t much she could do for it.”
Bill took a seat
in the other armchair. They were both quiet for a few minutes, listening to
Fred’s snores. “So what are you two doing down here? Why didn’t Mum set up
camp beds for you in my room?”
George flashed his
brother a grin. “She did, but we thought it’d be best to make ourselves scarce.
You know, in case you and Fleur wanted to do some pre-nuptial canoodling.” He
waggled his eyebrows suggestively. Bill felt his face grow warm.
“Are you mental?” asked
Bill. “I'm pretty certain that Mum's placed a chastity charm on Fleur's bed.
Besides, do you honestly think I could get away with that under Mum’s roof?”
twenty-seven years old. Are you telling me that Mum still scares you?” asked
“Mum doesn’t scare
me,” countered Bill. “She terrifies me.” Both of the brothers chortled
“Join the club,”
Said George. “Shush,” he added, as Fred grunted in his sleep and turned over.
They watched Fred for a few seconds; until they were assured that he was still
asleep. “You know, he’s taking the ear thing pretty hard.”
“It’s not even his
ear!” protested Bill. “What’s he upset about?”
“He thinks it’s the end of his life as he knows it. We can’t fool Mum anymore.
And now he’ll have to juggle all of his women by himself.”
broadly, though it caused the scars on his face to tighten. “Fred still likes
to live dangerously then?”
“You bet,” said
George. “He’s juggling three at the moment.” He rubbed the side of his head
thoughtfully. “Although as thick as they are, maybe they won’t even notice the
“He’s lucky Mum
doesn’t know about him messing around like that. You know how she hammered the
‘respect for women’ thing into us,” said Bill.
George, “He’s lucky Ginny doesn’t know. She probably hex him into tomorrow.
Although, some of those witches…er…” he trailed off.
“Yeah,” said Bill
in an encouraging tone.
It was George’s
turn to blush now. “They’re pretty curious about the whole twin thing.” Bill
still looked confused. “You know,” explained George, “they want to go out with
both of us, at the same time, to find out if we’re really identical.
You know what I mean?”
“That’s disturbing. It’s not exactly an image I like to associate with my
little brothers.” George shrugged in a ‘what can you do’ gesture. “Besides,”
Bill added, “you’re not.”
“We’re not what?”
identical everywhere,” said Bill decisively.
“I’m almost afraid
to ask,” said George with trepidation.
“You have a crescent
shaped birthmark on your bum,” Bill said simply.
quite frightened now. “And you’d know this because…”
“Who do you think
changed your nappies when Mum was laid up from Ron?” asked Bill.
“Oh,” said George,
wrinkling his nose, “And here we envied you because you never had to wear
hand-me-downs. I forgot about you having to do nappies.” At that moment, Fred
rolled over again, knocking his blanket to the floor.
Bill got up and
stretched it over him again, smiling fondly. “I had to do a lot of this as
well. Fred always was a wild sleeper.”
George nodded distractedly,
running his hand over the side of his head again, as though willing his ear to
“So,” he said quietly, “you two bringing dates for my wedding?”
George, turning back to Bill, “Oh dates? Nah, Fred thought it’d be better for
us to scope out our options.”
“Good plan,” said
Bill. “Fleur does have some fairly attractive cousins.”
George perked up.
Bill grinned and
nodded in confirmation.
expression clouded again.
Bill gently, “what’s wrong?”
George rubbed the
side of his head. “I guess this isn’t exactly going to make me popular with
the witches, is it?” He shook his head, trying to pull himself out of it.
“It’s not a big deal, really. I’m alive, that’s what’s important. I mean,
look at Moody. And it’s not like it completely ruined my good looks…” He
looked up suddenly, aghast. “B-bill…I…I’m sorry, mate. I d-didn’t mean…”
George looked up at his brother, eyes wide.
“Forget about it,”
said Bill gruffly.
George shook his
head, stricken. “No, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have…”
“I said forget
about it,” insisted Bill. “Look, ever since Greyback, people keep giving me
that annoying, sympathetic look.” He glanced at George. “Oh yeah, I guess
you’ll be in for some as well now.” George managed a wry grin. “Only three
people have never given me that look; you, Fred and Fleur.” He swallowed,
having trouble putting his thoughts into words. “I can’t tell you how much
it’s meant to me, that you’ve treated me absolutely the same.”
the same,” said George firmly. “You’re still our big brother Bill. Nothing’s
changed. And Fleur,” he shook his head admiringly, “she’s mad about you.”
Bill tried to suppress
a smile, but failed. “Yes she is, and I’m mad about her.”
“But she was in
love with you before, you know…” George looked down at his feet, “before everything
happened. It won’t be the same for me.” He shook himself, rubbing his hands
over his face. “I don’t even know why we’re talking about this. Mad-Eye and
too much Firewhisky,” he mumbled.
“George,” said Bill placing a
comforting hand on his knee, “it’s okay for you to be sad.”
“Sad?” said George, his mouth
trembling slightly, “I’m not sad. I told you, it’s Fred who’s taking it hard.”
Bill watched him pluck at a
frayed thread on the armchair. He was strongly reminded of the five-year-old
who used to beg to sleep in his bed because ‘Fred had had a nightmare’.
George drew a
long, quavering sigh. “Anyway, you never felt sorry for yourself, did you?”
“Of course I did,”
countered Bill. “Took me ages just to pluck up the courage to look in the
“I never knew
that,” said George quietly.
something I advertise,” said Bill. He reached up and took the elastic out of
his long, pony tail. He shook his hair out and gathered it up again.
“Say Bill,” said
George suddenly, “how long do you suppose it would take me to grow my hair that
“Well, as you’ve been a wizard for what, nineteen years now, is it? I’d say,
as long as you want it to take.”
“Oh, yeah,” said
George with a rueful grin. “Forgot about that.”
Bill looked at
George critically. “I don’t think you should grow it as long as mine. I think
collar length would suit you better.”
“You think?” asked
George. “Let’s see.” He pointed his wand at his head, closed his eyes and
muttered an incantation. “There,” he said, opening his eyes, “How does it look?”
Bill. He glanced over at Fred. “Shouldn’t you have cleared it with him
George gave him a
kidding,” said Bill with a grin. “You know, Mum’s going to hate it.”
brightly. “That’s an added bonus.”
It covers up the
ear nicely,” said Bill.
George blushed. “I’m
not that fussed about it, really. It’s just…” he paused, glancing over at
Fred, who was now snoring lightly, “I kind of fancy someone, and…”
“Whoever she is, if she doesn’t appreciate the fact that you were injured
fighting You-Know-Who, then you don’t need her. You’re a bloody hero!”
thing,” said George softly, “she wouldn’t understand because she’s, well, a
widened in surprise. “A Muggle, really?”
“It’s nothing official. Her name’s Iris. She’s from the village; she works in
the paper shop there. I’ve seen her a few times and we’ve, you know, flirted
repeated Bill. “Oh that’s it. You’ll be Dad’s favourite now.”
softly. “I guess Dad will be pleased won’t he?”
grinned. “I reckon you’ll inherit the Burrow.”
George nodded vaguely.
“It’s just difficult.” He rubbed the side of his head that was missing the
ear. “How do you explain something like this, to a Muggle?”
George cast him a
disparaging look. “I lost an ear in a car crash? Is that even possible?”
“Hell, I don’t
know,” replied Bill. “Why don’t you ask Harry? He ought to know about stuff
“I can’t ask
Harry,” said George, shaking his head sadly. “That kid feels responsible for
everyone and everything. I swear, if you farted next to him, he’d say ‘pardon
said Bill, “She’d probably think of something clever.”
his chin pensively. “Maybe.”
blurted Bill, “you’re supposed to be the creative one. I’m sure you can think
of something if this girl’s really worth it…”
“She is!” said
George vehemently. “You should see her Bill. She’s got these amazing, brown
eyes, and…and this hair…it’s just…” he broke off, unable to articulate any
“Yes, hair is
generally attractive on a woman,” said Bill, amused.
“Git,” said George
with an awkward grin. “If I wanted the mickey taken out of me, I’d have told
shot upwards. “You mean he doesn’t know?”
became very interested in the fingernails on his left hand. “I reckon he knows
that I fancy her. I mean, he’s always been there when I’ve seen her. But then
Fred thinks every girl’s a potential shag.”
Bill studied his
younger brother. “Am I to understand that you’ve got more than that in mind?”
“I want to go out
on a date with her and be able to talk about my brother the curse breaker,”
said George rapidly. “I want to tell her about my Mum who charms a mean
cheese.” He slapped the arm of his chair in agitation, sending a cloud of dust
into the air. “Hell, I’d like to tell her about the wizarding shop I’m
The only sound for
the next several seconds was that of Fred’s light snoring. Finally Bill said,
“George, things are hard enough right now, don’t you think? Perhaps you
shouldn’t pursue this until we see where this war is headed.”
“I’m not a
coward,” said George hotly, causing Fred to stir in his sleep again.
“I didn’t say you
were,” said Bill patiently. “But inducting a Muggle into our world at this
point is probably not the safest thing you can do for her.”
“So what am I
supposed to do?” asked George fiercely, “Not live until Voldemort’s defeated?”
Bill winced at the name. “That sounds like a load of dung coming from a man
who’s planning his wedding in the middle of a bloody war zone.”
Bill was hurt.
“That’s not fair. It’s different; Fleur’s a witch.”
“So you have some
kind of double standard?” asked George, his voice hoarse from trying to argue
“Don’t get shirty
with me,” said Bill, affecting his older brother tone. “I was raised by Arthur
Weasley as well, you know.”
“Go to bed,” said
Bill kindly. “Everything will look better in the morning.”
George’s ear,” said Fred, sitting up suddenly and drawing a deep, sleepy
breath, “And your face, Bill.”
“You arsehole!” said
George, colouring slightly. “You’re awake!”
“And this would be
why Mum calls George her ‘little, sensitive twin’ and not you, Fred,” said
Bill, pinching George’s cheek.
“Shut up!” said
George, flipping a couch cushion at Bill’s face. “Besides, Fred’s the closet
Celestina Warbeck fan.”
“You take that
back!” said Fred angrily, struggling to stand up from the saggy couch.
“Not on your ‘Cauldron
Full of Hot, Strong Love’,” sang George, ducking the cushion that Fred sent
flying at him.
Bill shook his
head, grinning. “I suppose at least one of you had to be a Warbeck fan. I
think Mum and Dad actually conceived you two to one of her songs. Which one
was it again? Ah yes, “When Two Wands Ignite.”
Fred and George
exchanged a look of revulsion. “That’s disgusting, Bill,” they said.
laughed and ducked as two cushions were sent his way now. The cushions hit a
lamp, causing it to topple over with a spectacular crash. They were so busy
laughing, that they didn’t hear the quick, angry steps on the stairs.
“Mum!” said George
“What are you
doing up?” asked Fred trying to fix the lamp with his wand without Molly
“It is two o’clock in the morning,” said Molly in a deadly tone. “Do you have any idea how much
noise you three are making?”
All three of her
sons shook their heads guiltily.
“I thought Death
Eaters had broken in, for Merlin’s sake!” she said, clutching her heart. “I’m
surprised at you, Bill. George is still recovering,” said Molly, her eyes
softening somewhat. “Don’t you think it would be a good idea for him to get
Bill nodded, the
twins looking sheepish. “Sorry, Mum,” said George contritely, kissing her on
the cheek. “We’ll go to bed now.”
Bill and Fred
followed close behind George, kissing their mother good-night as they passed
her on their way towards the stairs.
Fred had reached
the third step when he muttered, “Last one to the room gets the lumpy bed.” Immediately
there was a scuffling on the stairs as they tried to beat each other to Bill’s
Molly tried to
keep the smile out of her voice as she called up the stairs, “Don’t make me go
Half an hour
later, Bill’s thunderous snores filled the room. George lay in Bill’s bed
having beaten both of his brothers to the room. He wondered briefly if they
had gone easy on him because of his injury. No, thought George gratefully, as
he rubbed a sore spot on his ribs; Fred had cheated as usual.
Fred softly, over Bills snores, “are you awake?”
“So, you really
George’s sigh was
more sleepy than annoyed. “I think so.”
“I figured you
did,” said Fred, his voice tinged with something that sounded like
resignation. “Is it…are you…in love?” he asked, hesitant.
George was very
grateful for the darkness which covered the spectacular flush that crept up his
face. “Maybe,” he admitted.
“Does it feel
nice?” asked Fred.
Fred rolled onto
his stomach, the rickety bed creaking as he turned his face towards George’s
direction. “Look, perhaps Bill’s right. It’s probably best not to start
anything serious until we kick Voldie’s arse.”
answer immediately. He had suddenly become in engrossed in punching his pillow
into a more comfortable shape.
“She’ll wait for
you,” said Fred, answering George’s unspoken concern.
“How do you know?”
really likes you too.”
“You think so?”
George could’ve kicked himself at the eagerness in his voice.
“Yes, I do,” said
Fred, and George could hear the sincerity in his tone. “Who knows why she
picked you instead of me. I guess there’s no accounting for taste.”
“When all of this
is over,” said Fred though a tremendous yawn, “I’ll help you win the girl.
Then, you can get married. I’ll be the best man, naturally. Next, you can
name me godfather to all of the sproglets who will all be named after me, of
course: Fred, Fredrika, Freddy, Fredrique, Fredrick, Fredette, Fredigard….”
George fell asleep
to Fred’s litany, dreaming of his future life filled with Iris, their many
red-headed children and their favourite Uncle Fred, spoiling them senseless.