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Chapter 29 : Chapter 29: Half of One
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Harry went to bed Christmas night feeling almost completely happy. It had been his best Christmas ever. Christmas Eve had passed with no visions of murder and mayhem, giving him a peaceful night's sleep, and he had woken to Christmas presents, festivities, and most important of all, the people he considered his family: the Weasleys and Remus Lupin. As he settled comfortably into his camp cot, he cast his silencing charm casually, not expecting to need it that night. He thought that there was very little else he could ask for in this life, and he fell almost immediately into the deep sleep brought on only by good times and too much good food.
It was nearly five a.m. when Harry's sleep was interrupted by the flashes of green and red light that he had come to associate with the beginning of his visions of Voldemort's cruelty. Almost immediately, however, he realized that this one was different than the others; it was clear that this time, rather than an attack on an unsuspecting Muggle family, a battle was being waged. A battle with two sides...a battle between Death Eaters and wizards. Harry, once again trapped behind Voldemort's eyes, watched in horror as one of his greatest fears came to life: once again, Voldemort was attacking Harry's family, for it had quickly become clear as the setting materialized that the battle was taking place in a location that he held almost as dear as Hogwarts or the Burrow, a location that he had helped build, a location that brought laughter to so many through the hard times brought on by war. The battle was taking place on Diagon Alley, inside Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.
A young wizard in a brilliant red dressing gown ran down the stairs, no sign of sleepiness about him besides his tousled red hair, his wand held at the ready. Harry hardly recognized George Weasley. The young man's usually cheerful face was screwed up with determination and rage, and he began firing spells as soon as the Death Eaters attacking his shop came into view.
"Stupefy!" he yelled, his wand pointed at a masked Death Eater who was attempting to get past him and up the stairs. The Death Eater went down, but before George had time to react, four spells were shot at him from different directions, and he was forced to defend himself rather than attack.
"Protego!" George cried, and Harry felt a surge of pride for the former DA member as the jets of light hit the George's invisible barrier and bounced back towards their originators, who quickly dodged. A tremendous crash sounded as the errant spells hit shelves of Fred and George's joke merchandise.
"You'll pay for that!" called a new voice from the middle of the small stairwell, and Harry's viewpoint changed as Voldemort turned to the source of the new sound.
"Tarantellegra!" Fred shouted, pointing his wand at the back of the Death Eater who was dueling directly with George. The spell hit its mark, and the Death Eater's legs began to dance out of control.
"Stupefy!" George pointed his wand at the man. The dancing stopped immediately and the man dropped to the ground, stunned. "Don't mess around, Fred!" he shouted. "Take them down!"
"Incarcerous!" Long ropes flew out of the tip of Fred's wand, binding the stunned Death Eater, and George followed suit with the still-stunned Death Eater from his first spell at the bottom of the stairs.
Before Fred and George had turned from the two felled Death Eaters, three more appeared from behind a shelf of fake wands, and spells began to fly between the twins and their foes. Harry's sense of sick foreboding gave way to fierce pride as the twins, working as a flawless team, fought and matched all three Death Eaters. It helped that they were on their own turf, as they were familiar with the products on the shelf and not hesitant to use them.
"This one looks like he wants to skive off his classes, Fred!" George called, continuing to duel with one Death Eater while indicating another, who was advancing upon him.
"Right you are, George," Fred responded, pointing his wand at the display that held brightly colored double-ended sweet, and then at the advancing Death Eater. "Waddiwasi!"
A purple sweet shot out of the display case and its wrapper and forced itself straight through the Death Eater's mask and down his throat. Immediately, blood began pour from underneath the mask, and the man behind it was only able to muster an easily deflected "Diffindo" before collapsing on the floor.
"Good thing we strengthened those up, isn't it?" George asked cheerfully as he dodged another jet of red light.
"Petrificus Totalus!" The jet of purple light hit George squarely in the chest, and his arms and legs snapped straight as he fell, the grin frozen grotesquely on his face, his eyes unable to blink.
"George!" Fred yelled, racing towards his brother. "Impedimenta!" he cried, shooting the spell over his shoulder. It connected with the Death Eater on his tail, and there was another loud crash as the man shot backwards and slammed into a wall of Invisibility Hats. Harry could not help but notice how odd the man looked with various chunks of his body invisible as the comical hats showered over him. "Reducto!" Fred continued, again aiming the spell over his shoulder. The shelf above the Death Eater broke apart and collapsed, burying the man in rubble and brightly colored merchandise.
"Stupefy!" The Death Eater who had petrified George turned his attention to Fred as he quickly raised a shield to deflect the spell.
Just in time, Fred dropped to the ground. The Unforgivable Spell went over his head, reducing the shelves behind them to dust. He used the moment of surprise to aim a stunner at the Death Eater, who immediately fell to the ground. Unfortunately, Fred did not see the large chunk of ceiling begin to fall towards him. Before he had a chance to react it hit him on the head, leaving him momentarily confused.
Harry surveyed the scene with a growing amount of fear. Five Death Eaters down, George petrified, and Fred still reeling from a knock to the head it would have seemed like a victory, but what the twins did not know was that Voldemort himself was waiting, carefully concealed with three of his most loyal followers.
"Ah, yes," Voldemort said softly to the three Death Eaters waiting alongside him. "They are twins, are they not? Dolohov, take the first. Leave him petrified but make sure he is able to see what happens to those who openly defy Lord Voldemort. Bellatrix, the other is yours, my most loyal follower, and to you I give license to do with him what you wish. Malfoy, you will see that we remain undetected. You cast the appropriate charms, I take it?"
"Yes, my Lord," Malfoy answered dutifully as Dolohov lifted the still-petrified George with little effort and propped him up against the counter.
Bellatrix advanced slowly, cat-like, on Fred, her wand still at the ready. As Fred blinked and opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was George, propped weirdly against the front counter, and as he tried to jump up, Bellatrix began her attack.
Fred dropped to his knees, his screams echoing through the destroyed store.
Harry's insides boiled with rage that he did not bother trying to control and hopelessness threatened to overwhelm him. He tried unsuccessfully to wake himself up, hoping upon hope that if he could, he could get help in time. He remained, however, trapped behind the eyes of the most evil wizard of all time.
Bellatrix lifted the spell and Fred shakily got to his feet, his eyes ablaze with pain and defiance, and raised his wand to point it not at Bellatrix, but at Dolohov, his brother's tormentor.
"You fool!" Voldemort spat as he waved his wand, sending Fred's flying to the other side of the shop. Fred looked straight at him without fear. "You cannot save him now, or yourself. It is time the blood traitors learn what it means to defy Lord Voldemort. Bellatrix, continue the lesson."
"Diffindo!" Bellatrix purred the incantation almost lovingly as she swept her wand in a slashing motion over Fred's chest. Fred did not scream as blood began to pour from the laceration which now ran diagonally across his entire torso. Instead, he continued to gaze unblinkingly at Voldemort, a slow grin beginning to spread over his face even as the color drained from his skin.
"What are you smiling at?" Bellatrix demanded, raising her wand once again.
"Him," Fred said weakly but clearly, nodding his head towards Voldemort. "Your master,' isn't he?"
"Do not dare to mock the Dark Lord," Bellatrix whispered, moving threateningly closer to Fred, her wand even with his heart.
"Mock him?" Fred actually laughed, although by this point he had become so weak he could hardly make himself heard. "He's a coward. He doesn't have the guts to attack Harry Potter or Dumbledore, so he goes after Muggles, and not just any Muggles women and children."
"You dare...you..." Bellatrix seemed to be too angry to complete her thought as she raised her wand once more. Harry's heart broke as she uttered the words of the most unforgivable of the Unforgivable Curses. "Avada Kedavra!"
The jet of green light raced towards Fred, who never tore his gaze from the face of Lord Voldemort. Soundlessly, he fell.
"Finish the other one," Voldemort ordered Dolohov, and Harry's line of sight changed as they walked through the rubble of the store and outside onto a still-sleeping Diagon Alley.
"Do not cast the Mark," Voldemort ordered Malfoy. "Leave their bodies to be found at first light, as a lesson to those who would challenge me."
Harry woke silently in the small bedroom he shared with Ron, his face streaming with tears, his voice once again raw from silent screams. He knew he had to alert the Weasleys or Lupin...but he couldn't bring himself to do it just yet. The twins were dead. Nothing would change that, and the news would tear the Weasley family apart. Outside Ron's window, the sky was just beginning to take on the paleness of first light, and Harry headed blindly down to the kitchen, out of habit more than anything else. He hardly noticed his own tears as he stumbled down the stairs, and his eyes saw nothing until he felt the soft hand of Mrs. Weasley on his shoulder only a moment later.
Harry shook his head in disbelief as Mrs. Weasley screamed, and he had to glance at the clock again before he believed what he had seen. How could he have been so stupid? The hand which had once borne Fred's name had gone black, but even now, the hand bearing George's was pointed steadily at "mortal peril." George was still alive!
"Mrs. Weasley!" Harry shouted, grabbing her arm. "Listen to me!" It took him a moment to understand why no sound came out. He desperately cast the counter-charm and repeated himself.
Molly did not respond immediately as her scream ceased. For a moment, she simply stared at the clock in disbelief, her face pale.
"Mrs. Weasley!" Harry shouted again, shaking her slightly.
"Harry!" Arthur Weasley shouted as he came running into the room, his thin hair disheveled, rubbing sleep from his eyes. "What's happened? Molly? What's wrong?" He went immediately to her.
"Fred," Molly whispered, pointing to the clock. As Arthur saw the black hand that used to bear the name of his third son, he sank into a chair, holding his wife's hand.
Before Harry had a chance to continue shouting, Remus Lupin, also looking as though he had been woken from a very deep sleep, hurried into the room.
"Moony!" Harry shouted urgently. "Listen to me! You've got to get to Diagon Alley, to the shop! George is still alive! Voldemort
"Harry!" Lupin interrupted, taking him by the shoulders. "What's happened?"
"Voldemort attacked Fred and George's shop!" Harry said desperately. "You have to get there! George is still alive, look!" He pointed at George's hand on the clock, which was still pointed at "mortal peril."
"Arthur!" Lupin said firmly. "We've got to go! Molly, get Dumbledore and Tonks, and any other Order member you can raise."
Arthur, having finally realized what was happening, jumped up to follow Lupin as Mrs. Weasley nodded numbly and sprang up to go to the kitchen fire. She grabbed her wand and shot the silvery signal from it, and did not hesitate before she threw Floo powder into the grate and stuck her head in. As she did this, Harry heard the distinctive "pops" that surely meant that Lupin, Arthur, Bill and Charlie had disapparated.
"Harry?" asked a soft voice behind him, and he turned, his heart heavy, to face Ginny and Ron, who were standing at the foot of the stairs, staring in horror at the family clock. For a moment, all they could do was stare at one another, and then Ginny suddenly burst into tears and ran past Harry into the arms of her mother, who had just emerged from the fire.
Ron sat down heavily at the kitchen table, his face pale, staring blankly straight ahead. Harry joined him, but Molly and Ginny remained standing, their arms wrapped around one another, Ginny's body shaking with silent sobs, Molly's face lined with grief but stoic, holding on for the sake of her other children.
It seemed like an eternity passed before the fire burned green and Remus Lupin spun into the grate. He crossed directly to Molly and put two shaky hands on her shoulders. Harry noticed that his hands and sleeves were bloodstained, and he glanced uneasily at the clock.
"Molly," Lupin said softly, "we got there in time to get George. He was being held by Bellatrix Lestrange and Antoin Dolohov, but they disapparated before we could capture them. He's very badly hurt, and Arthur, Bill and Charlie are on their way to St. Mungo's with him now."
"He's not going to...to..." Mrs. Weasley couldn't say the word as she looked pleadingly into Lupin's grave face.
"It's too early to tell," Lupin said gently. "Arthur suggested that I bring you and the others to the hospital straight away."
"And Fred?" Molly asked weakly. Even though she already knew the answer, she needed to hear it confirmed before she could believe it.
"I'm so sorry, Molly," Lupin whispered, his voice breaking for the first time that day.
Harry and Ron dressed as quickly as they could, not speaking to one another as they pulled on mismatched robes and socks. They did not bother to comb their hair, but ran down the stairs at top speed the very second they had laced their trainers. They nearly ran into Ginny on the way down, and all three of them burst into the kitchen, where Mrs. Weasley was standing, fully dressed, her hand already in the pot of Floo Powder. She remained silent as she threw a handful of glittering powder into the flames, stepped in, shouted "St. Mungo's," and spun away out of sight. Ron and then Ginny followed her, but before Harry could take a handful of powder himself, he felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Harry," Remus Lupin said seriously. "We need to talk. Professor Dumbledore will be joining us shortly."
"But St. Mungo's - " Harry began.
"It's going to be some time before we know anything," Lupin interrupted, "and Molly knew I would be keeping you behind."
Harry nodded numbly. He should have been expecting this, he supposed.
"You saw what happened, didn't you, Harry?" Lupin asked, sitting down at the kitchen table and motioning for Harry to be seated across from him.
Harry nodded at him, pulling the chair out from the table, resigned to telling the story. He knew this would not be the last time he would have to do so.
Harry and his guardian sat in silence for a few moments before they heard the tell-tale "pop" from the direction of the lounge. They were surprised, however, when the first pop was followed by another slightly louder one. They did not have to wonder long, however; in one moment's time, Dumbledore swept into the kitchen, followed closely by a very grave Professor McGonagall.
"Harry," Dumbledore said, inclining his head towards Harry, who noticed that, not only was their usual twinkle gone, but they were heavy and sad.
"Professor," Harry replied hoarsely. He didn't know what else he was supposed to say.
"Mr. Potter," McGonagall said, and she made a motion towards him as if she wanted to offer him some comfort, but remained where she was. Her eyes were over bright, as if she had been or was trying not to cry.
Harry nodded at her, but said nothing.
"Professors," Lupin greeted them solemnly. "Please, have a seat."
"Tea?" Dumbledore inquired politely, and without waiting for an answer, he waved his wand, conjuring a large silver teapot and four cups. Another wave of his wand, and the tea service began serving them one by one.
"Harry," Lupin began, looking intently at him across the table. "The first thing I want to say to you is that no matter what you saw, no matter what happened, this is not your fault. You did nothing wrong."
"It is imperative when one is taking part in a war," Dumbledore said softly and seriously, "to remember that casualties are bound to occur. It is inevitable, Harry. What you must also remember is that each and every one of us is fighting by choice. Our side does not coerce obedience by threats and trickery, and we do not force our members to do anything they would not otherwise choose to do. Fred and George Weasley knew the risks of joining the Order, and they took them on willingly." The Headmaster's voice broke slightly as he said the twins' names, and he looked away slightly as he blinked his eyes several times in succession. Professor McGonagall was also forced to take a moment to control her emotions, but Lupin spoke straight through his own, his voice laced with grief as he addressed Harry.
"Harry, you have to remember that you were not actually there. I know you wanted to fight, I know you would have done anything you could have to change things, but the fact of the matter is that you had no ability to take any kind of control in that situation. I repeat: there is nothing you could have done."
"I tried to wake up," Harry whispered. "When Bellatrix was coming at Fred, I tried to wake up so I could do something, but I couldn't."
"Why could he not wake himself, Albus?" Remus asked. "It seems as though, with that level of awareness as well as Harry's skill in Occlumency, he would have been able to pull himself out of the vision."
"I believe that under normal circumstances, he certainly would have been able to," Dumbledore replied. "However, Voldemort's emotions run so high during these attacks, this one in particular, that the tie was too strong even for someone as skilled as Harry to break. It is fortunate, however, that his Occlumency skills have become great enough that Voldemort is no longer aware of the intrusion, and that Harry himself is no longer forced to experience Voldemort's emotions in the manner he was forced to last year."
"It didn't matter that I couldn't feel his emotions!" Harry interjected, his voice cracking bitterly.
"I know, Harry," Lupin said gently. "I can't even imagine what it must have been like for you."
"Potter," Professor McGonagall said in a kind tone, "is there anything at all we can say or do to help you?"
Harry stared at her in surprise. This was not the Professor McGonagall he was accustomed to. Her tone of voice was gentle, almost motherly, as she looked at him with sadness etching her face. He was so surprised, as a matter of fact, that he could not reply to her.
"Just remember," McGonagall continued, "that the members of the Order are there to assist you if you need it. You are not in this alone."
Harry nodded at her, still rather taken aback by her unusual attitude.
"And now, Harry, I am afraid it is time to do what we must do," Dumbledore said softly. "I know you are hurting, but we must know what happened this morning on Diagon Alley. Will you tell us?"
Harry's stomach turned and a lump rose into his throat as he began to speak. At some point during the tale, Lupin got up from his seat and went to stand behind Harry, placing his hands on his shoulders as a sign of comfort and solidarity.
No one interrupted him as he spoke of the events that had taken place only hours before. Occasionally, Lupin squeezed his shoulders comfortingly, and when Harry got to the end of the battle in which he described Fred's defiance through torture and death, Professor McGonagall also left her seat and stood beside Harry, placing a hand on his shoulder next to Lupin's.
"After Voldemort told Dolohov to kill George," Harry concluded, his voice hard and still hoarse, "he left, and I guess he disapparated. That's when I woke up. I thought both of the twins were dead. I came downstairs. I was trying to figure out how I was going to tell Mr. and Mrs. Weasley when Mrs. Weasley came downstairs, and I saw the clock and realized that George was still alive." Harry's voice began to rise. "If I hadn't been so stupid, we might have gotten to George sooner. We might have
"Harry, stop," Lupin said firmly, moving to sit beside Harry, and holding his chin to force Harry to look at him. "What counts is that you did alert us in time. We got to George, and we hope he is going to make a full recovery. However, even if he does not, you did every single thing that you could do. None of this is your fault."
"I waited too long, Moony," Harry said, looking his guardian straight in the eyes. "If Mrs. Weasley hadn't come down right after I did, I never would have even seen the clock."
"But you did see it, Harry, and you did not wait so long. We reached the shop only a couple of minutes after Fred's death. Not much time had passed at all," Lupin said fervently, knowing that if Harry continued down this course of guilt, he would begin to self-destruct, opening him up to attack, just like what had happened following Sirius's death.
Before Harry could reply, the fireplace burned green and Hermione stepped out of the fire, her bushy hair wild, a frantic expression on her face.
"Professor Lupin!" she cried, not bothering to brush the ash off her cloak before she crossed the kitchen to him. "What's happened? I got a message from you saying I ought to come as quickly as possible. What's going on? Harry? Are you all right? Are you hurt? Have you seen another attack? What
"Hermione," Lupin interrupted, turning to her. "Slow down." Hermione looked at all of them in some confusion.
"It's Fred, Hermione," Harry said with great difficulty.
"Fred?" Hermione asked, her eyes already filling with tears.
"Voldemort and eight Death Eaters attacked Fred and George's shop early today," Dumbledore said heavily. "Bellatrix Lestrange killed Fred Weasley at approximately five o'clock this morning." Hearing it stated so plainly caused Harry a jolt of pain and rage. He hated Bellatrix Lestrange more than he had ever hated anyone in his life, with the exception of Voldemort himself.
Hermione's face was now streaked with tears, but she whispered, "George?"
"He is alive, Miss Granger," Professor McGonagall answered, still in her unnaturally gentle voice. "Mr. Potter alerted the Weasleys and Professor Lupin, and the Order arrived on Diagon Alley in time to take Mr. Weasley to St. Mungo's."
"Where's Ron?" Hermione asked.
"St. Mungo's," Lupin answered. "Harry and I were about to join the Weasleys there. Would you like to accompany us?"
Hermione nodded through her tears, and when Harry stood up, she immediately went to him and wrapped him in a tight hug. "Oh, Harry," she said, starting to cry in earnest. Harry felt the lump in his throat grow larger, and he struggled to contain himself as he patted Hermione awkwardly on the back.
One after the other, Harry, Hermione, Lupin, Dumbledore, and McGonagall reached into the pot of Floo Powder and sped through the grates to St. Mungo's hospital.
The small waiting room outside the Critical Care Wing of St. Mungo's was a sea of bright red hair as the Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Bill, Charlie, Ron, and Ginny paced anxiously, their faces lined with grief and worry. After Mr. Weasley had told them what he knew about George's condition, none of them talked. They simply paced, occasionally stopping to offer comfort to one another, and hoped beyond hope that George would survive.
When Dumbledore, Lupin, McGonagall, Harry and Hermione arrived from the Burrow nearly an hour later, there had still been little news.
"The Death Eaters used the Cruciatus curse on George," Mr. Weasley told them, his voice cracking. "They did it without taking the body bind off of him. As we came in, Bellatrix Lestrange used the Diffindo curse...just like...just like she did on Fred..." Tears once again fell down the usually jovial face of Mr. Weasley as he thought of his sons, one who was beyond saving, and one who may not even have the will to live without his brother. "He lost a lot of blood, and..." he trailed off, not even attempting to stifle his emotion.
Harry shuddered, remembering only too well the pain of the Cruciatus curse from the end of his fourth year at Hogwarts, when he had watched Lord Voldemort resume his bodily form. He could not imagine having the curse performed on him while his body was paralyzed.
"Any word on his condition now, Arthur?" Lupin asked as Molly joined them, her face pale and without expression.
"The Healers are having trouble reversing the body bind," Arthur continued, putting his arm around Molly and pulling her close. "They have not seen the effects of the combination of those two spells before, and they are having trouble finding the correct counter-curse. He lost so much blood that the blood-replenishing potions are not working fast enough. His condition is very serious," he finished brokenly.
At this, Hermione crossed to Ron and led him away from the adults, putting her arms gently around his waist and pulling him to her. This gesture was all that was needed to break the dam of grief and worry that had lodged itself in the teenaged boy's chest, and Ron's body began to shake in huge, racking sobs as he bent to bury his face in Hermione's neck to hide his tears from the rest.
Harry went to Ginny as well, but when he attempted to put his arms around her, she stiffened involuntarily, and rather than giving into her emotions as she had in her mother's arms, she returned Harry's hug awkwardly and without any real warmth. Harry pulled away and tried to look into her eyes, tried to see what was wrong, but she would not look straight at him, instead focusing on some point over his left shoulder.
Ginny did not stay with Harry for long, never looking at him as she broke the embrace and returned to her mother's side. Harry stood awkwardly next to Lupin. He loved the Weasleys like family, but in a moment like this, he knew there was no comfort he could offer anyone, even Ginny. He kept his face stoic as they waited, refusing to give into the howl of rage and despair that was trying to fight its way up his throat, hoping with the rest that the Order had arrived in time to save one twin.
It seemed as though hours passed while they waited in silence. At one point, Professor McGonagall departed and returned with a tray of sandwiches and a jug of pumpkin juice, but no one could eat and the sandwiches began to grow stale before Lupin waved his wand and they vanished.
A little past noon, the doors to the small waiting room began to creak slowly open, and every pair of eyes in the room shifted in that direction. They hoped to see the Healer in charge of George's care, but they also dreaded seeing her, knowing that she could be the bearer of horrible tidings as easily as good ones. So tense was the environment that for a moment nobody responded as a young man with well-kept red hair and immaculately pressed business robes walked slowly into the room.
No trace of the usual smugness was present on the pale face of Percy Weasley as he visibly gulped, looking into the grief- and worry-stricken eyes of his parents, brothers and sister. No one spoke or moved, until Percy seemed to gather himself just enough to whisper, "I just heard. Mother...Father..." Percy did not cry, but it was easily apparent that he was as shocked and grief-stricken as the rest, perhaps even more shocked since he had not been kept privy to the goings-on of the Order, and may not have even known that Fred and George had joined up.
Before Mr. or Mrs. Weasley could react, a roar of rage issued from the opposite corner of the room, where Ron had been sitting with Hermione. He moved so quickly that his hair seemed only a streak of red as he barreled across the room.
"You!" Ron yelled fiercely. "You bloody, stinking, good-for-nothing coward!" He flung himself at Percy, and before anyone could stop him, landed a hard punch across Percy's face, sending his glasses flying to the floor.
Harry, his reflexes honed from his hours of training with Tonks and Kingsley Shacklebolt, was the first to reach Ron, only a fraction of a second too late to stop him from hitting his brother at all. He grabbed the back of Ron's robes and pulled him away from Percy, who was standing stock-still, ignoring the small stream of blood which was now streaming from his nose.
"Percy?" Mrs. Weasley asked weakly, but before she could continue, the waiting room door opened again.
"Mr. and Mrs. Weasley?" the assistant Healer inquired, ignoring the obvious tension in the room. "You may see him now."
So great was Mrs. Weasley's need to see George that she took Mr. Weasley's arm and followed the Healer from the room without another glance at Percy or any of the others.
"He's awake," the Healer told Mr. and Mrs. Weasley as they hurried down the long corridor. "The body bind has been partially removed, allowing him to speak and move his head, and the blood-replenishing potions have done their work. The damage from the Diffindo curse was easily repaired, but the effects of the Cruciatus combined with the Full Body-Bind are quite serious."
Mrs. Weasley gasped.
"However, we believe your son will make a full recovery with time," the Healer continued as they stopped in front of a heavy-looking wooden door. Mrs. Weasley buried her face in her husband's chest as she sobbed in relief. The Healer allowed her a moment to pull herself together; in her short career in the Critical Care Wing of St. Mungo's, she had grown quite accustomed to moments like these.
"Mr. and Mrs. Weasley," the Healer continued, reaching out to stop them before Molly could move to open the door to George's room. "Your son needs your assurances right now. The death of his twin has affected him gravely, and if he is to make a full recovery, he has to be convinced of the need to continue fighting."
At the mention of Fred's death, both Mr. and Mrs. Weasley's eyes filled once again with tears, but their faces remained determined. They had to help their living son now. They both knew there would be time to mourn Fred...a lifetime of time to mourn him, for he would never return to them. Their focus now had to be on the remaining twin, the one who would have to learn how to live without the brother from whom he had never been separated.
Nodding seriously at the Healer, Arthur stepped forward and opened the door to George's room. Grasping his wife's hand, he entered the room, and the last thing the young Healer saw before the door swung magically shut were the concerned expressions on the face of each parent. She admired Molly and Arthur Weasley for the strength they would show to their son. She had seen many parents in similar situations fall apart in grief for the dead, paying little to no attention to the living, who would inevitably fade into a pattern of grief and guilt, and never again live a full life. The Healer could feel the strength coming from Molly Weasley, and she smiled slightly as she walked back to the Healer's Quarters. It would take time, but she knew George Weasley would not suffer that fate.
Author's Note: I'd like to thank harrypotterroxs for her faithful review of every chapter of this fic!
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