Ginny kept on waiting for the worst part.
At first, she thought it was her father’s face when he said he thought he’d lost three children in three hours.
Then, she thought it was her long conversation with Ron and Hermione, hidden in the dustiest corner of the Restricted Section, where not even Madam Pince bothered to look. There, they put together everything they knew about the past nine months, and especially the last twenty-four hours. Untangling all the mysteries and secrets and trying to convince themselves it was worth it.
Except the shared sorrow of friendship was nothing to the bitter feelings of hatred and betrayal. Ron and Hermione had told her about the memories Harry had rescued as Snape died, and they all realized where he would have taken them.
Tears glistened down Dumbledore’s cheeks when they barged, screaming for explanations, into his office, and Ginny didn’t care. He only gestured to the pensieve and said, “Of course you have the right to see what he saw.” As if he had any right to tell them what they could or could not see anymore. They were soldiers. They had won a war. And he was just an old, secretive, and very dead man.
When she burst out of the penseive, ears full of the last orders Harry Potter ever received, she seized a jar of ink from the desk and hurled it at Dumbledore’s portrait, shrieking, “Murderer!”
The jar met its mark, of course. She was a bloody good Chaser. It exploded, splattering ink over the walls, but left Dumbledore’s portrait unscathed.
“Miss Weasley . . .” he began, sad, but not the least bit contrite.
“He trusted you!” Hermione screamed, “We all trusted you! All those nights wandering every godforsaken corner of Britain trying to put together your bloody clues, and it was all for this!”
“I did everything I could to . . .”
Ron reached into his robes, pulled out a strange, metal device, and threw it at the portrait, “You knew us all so bloody well, didn’t you. You knew he’d go through with it!”
“Harry was so very . . .”
“You don’t get to say what he was!” Ginny roared, “He was a child, and he was scared, and you groomed him! You groomed him just like Tom fucking Riddle!”
“Miss Weasley, please . . .”
But Ginny couldn’t stand to look at him anymore, couldn’t stand to be in the place where Dumbledore had warped and twisted Harry’s mind just like Riddle had twisted hers.
She got drunk with Aberforth that night. She’d drunk with Aberforth a lot over the past year when she was feeling particularly defeated but didn’t dare admit it to the others, not even Luna and Neville.
“I hope Albus bloody Dumbledore is rotting in the same place as Tom fucking Riddle,” she said. Aberforth just nodded and poured her another drink.
It was supposed to feel better when she finally went home. It wasn’t. Not when everything, from Fred’s favorite spoon to one of Harry’s stray socks, reminded her of what she lost.
She wanted to curl under her blankets and not think or do anything again, but she couldn’t. There were funerals to plan.
Hermione arranged Fred’s, with Ron interjecting here. No one else could bring themselves to help.
Hermione transfigured Fred’s bed from the Burrow into his coffin. Ginny didn’t ask how Hermione knew that was wizarding tradition when a child died, but she didn’t miss her Mum’s grateful tears. Ron went to a Muggle store and bought a dozen cans of brightly colored paint—hot pink and lilac and a neon green that hurt Ginny’s eyes. Then he spent an entire morning painting Fred’s coffin, stopping every once and a while to sob into the ground while Hermione rubbed his shoulders and kissed his brow.
Mum and Dad were always together. Mum cleaned obsessively, scrubbing pots that had been charred black for as long as Ginny could remember. Dad sometimes helped, sometimes just sat in the same room staring at his hands or one of Fred’s old jumpers or a picture of Harry laughing with Ron the first time he’d stayed at the Burrow a hundred years ago.
Bill and Fleur, ever practical, were dealing with Fred and Harry’s finances. Ginny only knew this because Bill pulled her aside after breakfast a couple of days after the Battle.
“Gin, I’m so, so sorry to ask, but Ron and Hermione don’t know anything and . . .”
“Spit it out Bill,” she wasn’t in the mood for politeness.
Bill took a deep breath, “Did Harry ever say to you what he wanted done with his vault if . . .” he trailed off.
“Are you seriously asking me if my boyfriend told me about his will!” Ginny didn’t realize she was shouting until she her parents rushed from the kitchen.
“Everything okay?” Dad asked, pale and wide-eyed as Mum looked around, as if expecting to find another battle instead of her eldest son being an absolute prat.
“Everything’s fine. Bill was just asking if he could steal some of Harry’s fortune.”
“Zat iz not true!” Fleur shouted from across the room, “We are worried zat ze ministry will try to zteal ‘arry’s fortune while no one iz looking!”
“Then let them!” Ginny roared, “They’ve already taken everything else from him, haven’t they!”
Before anyone could answer, before she could feel guilty for what she’d said, she marched upstairs and to her room, slamming the door behind her, and kicking the wall with a howl of rage.
“Couldn’t agree more,” a voice said. Ginny spun around and found George sitting in the corner beneath her poster of Gwenog Jones.
“I’m hiding,” he said, “Want to join?”
Ginny sat across from him, leaning her head against the side of her mattress. Her room was an odd L-shape, so their toes nearly touched each other.
For a long time, neither of them spoke. Ginny didn’t even look up from her study of the floor.
Finally, she broke the silence. “I just can’t stand to see them all,” she waved her hand vaguely, “Have someone. Mum and Dad. Bill and Fleur. Ron and Hermione.”
George nodded, “Charlie and Percy have been inseparable. They keep asking if I want to join, he smirked, “As if that’ll make it feel better.”
“It just feels worse,” Ginny agreed.
They fell back into silence. Ginny could hear people moving below her, chairs scraping, the sound of voice. It was all too quiet, too still, as if . . .
Ginny snorted. As if someone had died.
“I thought you were trying to kill yourself,” George said suddenly.
It was a relief to hear him say it. Everyone else had tiptoed around those words, had assumed, probably still believed, that she had been lying when she said she knew how to kill Voldemort.
George nodded, “I know. You’ve always been good at noticing things. Fred and I celebrated for a week when we finally made a fake wand that fooled you. It’s because Harry died for us, right? That’s why the curse backfired.”
“How’d you know?”
George shrugged, “It’s the only thought I’ve had . . . since. I’d have gladly died if for Fred to still be here.”
Ginny didn’t respond to that at first, “When I . . . lost consciousness, I saw Harry.”
George raised his eyebrows, “As in, wet dream Harry, or wise warlock Harry?”
She laughed, properly laughed, and even George smiled a little.
“Neither. Just Harry. The real Harry,” her smile disappeared, “He came to say goodbye, I guess. I could have gone with him, gone on . . .”
“Why didn’t you?” George was frowning now, and Ginny’s heart tore.
“Lots of reasons, I guess.”
“Seriously Ginny, why wouldn’t you go with him?”
George was staring at her, unable to comprehend why she’d choose to sit across from him in this sad, empty house instead of spending eternity surrounded by everyone they’d lost.
This is it, she realized. This is the worst moment.
The thought rendered her speechless.
“Because it would make it all, everything they sacrificed, for nothing,” she managed.
George slumped against the wall, “I was hoping you’d come up with a shitty answer.”
“Harry told me something,” Ginny blurted, because George of all people should know, "About Fred.”
George’s head snapped up.
“He said his Mum and Dad were looking after Fred, and I’m sure he meant it.”
George didn’t speak for a long time, and Ginny was beginning to wonder if she had made a terrible mistake.
“Thank you,” he said finally, “That helps. I hated the thought of him alone up there with only Uncle Bilius for company.”
Ginny shook her head, “He’s not. He’s laughing with Harry and his parents, I’m sure of it.”
“Probably at our expense,” George agreed, “As they should. Look at us,” he gestured between them, “Sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves. Harry and Fred would be ashamed.” He stood and pulled her to her feet, “What would they do if they were here?”
“Easy. Harry would do something stupidly brave and Fred would pull a prank.”
“Right. You’ve already handled the stupidly brave bit, but no one’s so much as sprouted feathers in days.”
“Catastrophic and reprehensible,” Ginny agreed, “What do you suggest?”
They buried Fred under an apple tree in a multi-colored coffin that was both horrendous and the most beautiful thing Ginny had ever seen. As the old wizard who officiated every wedding or funeral Ginny had ever attended got up to speak, looking a little tired but mostly bored, the orchard was filled with a strange, low rumbling sound.
The attendees all stared at each other. The officiant hesitated but continued on.
The rumblings grew louder, and whispers quickly broke out.
“Did you plan this?”
“No, did you?”
“You hear that, right?”
“It sounds like a choir.”
“A choir of ugly bull frogs maybe.”
It was not a choir of ugly bull frogs, but a choir of ugly gnomes, which emerged from the tall grass, dressed in hideous black dresses and mourning veils.
The singing grew louder, quickly drowning out the officiant.
“Are ze saying what I think ze are zaying?” Fleur asked, the first to speak in a normal tone.
“I think so,” Bill said, already hiding his snickers in the sleeve of his robes.
Soon there could be no doubt what the choir of ugly gnomes was singing.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuckity Fucking fuck.
This really fucking sucks.
It’s really shitty stuff.
Everyone turned to stare at George, who was bent over laughing, and Ginny, who wrapped her arm around George’s shoulders to stop herself from falling over with glee.
That was all it took for everyone else—including a previously sobbing Mrs. Weasley and an inconsolable Percy—to burst out into laughs. The officiant then gave up and disapparated, but no one noticed. They were too busy laughing, and crying, and joining the gnomes in song.
The smiles Ginny and George wore as they watched Fred’s coffin sink into the ground to a crescendo of cursing chorus of gnomes were pained, but they were smiles all the same.