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Balancing Act

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Looking back, Harry wasn't entirely certain how he'd ended up working for the twins. With the twins. One of those, at least.

It had just sort of happened, sometime during those dark months following the Battle of Hogwarts. They'd asked him to come by the joke shop one day, to give them a hand with cleaning up and preparing for reopening since Fred was still healing, and then it had slowly but surely become part of his daily routine.

Harry supposed it made sense, from a certain point of view. Hermione and Ron had been completely preoccupied with each other, while he and Ginny had still been in that awkward stage of avoidance where they were trying not to let their breakup cause strains with any of their other relationships but mostly failing miserable. He'd been somewhat adrift, not entirely certain what to do with his time, and he'd jumped at Fred and George's offer as if it had been a lifeline.

In some ways, it had been one.

Besides, working in the joke shop was fun. Or, at the very least, it was simple. Helping them rebuild, working on something that wasn't life or death for once. It was as different from how he'd spent the last year as it could possibly be, and in a lot of ways he needed that.

Of course, he hadn't expected anything long term to come out of it. He should have known by then, though, that nothing ever went the way he was expecting.


Harry jerked his head in Fred's direction at the sound of swearing. Even as he turned, George shoved past him in something close to a sprint.

Fred was hunched over, the candies he'd been putting out on one of the shelves on the floor around him. He was clutching his right arm, the one that that had been hit by a curse back during the battle, and his normally ruddy skin had gone almost grey.

"Fuck," Harry muttered under his breath before hurrying in that direction as well.

George was already there, his arms wrapped tightly around his brother as he whispered something too softly for Harry to hear in Fred's ear.

"I'm fine," Fred said, trying to straighten up. He didn't make it very far before hissing in pain. "Really, I'm fine."

Harry met George's gaze and raised an eyebrow. George just shook his head, the look on his face a mixture of fondness and exasperation.

"Help me take him upstairs?" George asked.

"Sure." Harry took a step forward, getting ready to help. Before he could, though, Fred shrugged out of George's grasp and straightened up.

Fred's face was still paler than it should have been, and he was holding his arm tightly against his chest. He glared at both of them. "I said that I'm fine," he repeated, his voice stronger than before.

If Harry had learned anything over the years, it was that arguing with a Weasley wasn't even remotely worth the hassle. His eyes flickered in George's direction, to see what he was going to do, but Harry knew better than to say anything. People called him the Boy Who Lived for a reason. It would be a damn shame for him to survive Voldemort only to be taken out by Fred Weasley.

George studied his brother's face before a long moment before nodding. "Will you at least sit down for a little while?" he asked.

Fred opened his mouth as if he was about to reply.

"Please?" George continued, cutting him off before he could say anything.

Fred rolled his eyes, but he didn't argue as George started pulling him towards the chair sitting behind the nearby counter.

Harry watched the two of them walk away, a sharp thread of worry running through his chest that he couldn't quite push down. There wasn't anything he could do to help, not with this.

With a sigh, he turned his back on them and headed back to the shelves he'd been working on.


It wasn't actually Harry's turn to pick up takeaway, but considering how the day had gone he'd volunteered.

He didn't officially live with Fred and George in the flat they shared over the shop. In theory, at least, he was staying in Grimmauld Place. In actuality, he was well aware that lately he'd been spending more nights with the twins than not.

Grimmauld Place was too large for just him, full of memories that he wasn't ready to confront just then. And he'd gotten used to not being alone over the last year or so. It was harder than he'd expected slipping back into old patterns.

"Please say you didn't get Chinese again!" George called out from the kitchen as Harry Apparated into the flat, several paper containers balanced carefully in his arms.

Harry shook his head, grinning a little, before making his way into the kitchen himself. "Curry," he said as he stepped in the door, winking at George. "I thought we'd mix it up for once."

"Sounds good to me," Fred said with a tired grin. He had been resting his head on the table, his arms crossed under it, but he sat back up as Harry walked in.

Harry eyed him warily, but he knew better than to say anything. He and George had learned quickly that there was a fine line they had to tread, keeping an eye on Fred when he was having a bad day without taking away his autonomy.

"Red for you, right?" was all he asked, putting one of the boxes down in front of Fred.

"Thanks," Fred said with a grin. It didn't quite meet his eyes, but it came close. "I didn't think you'd remember."

Harry snorted. "I'm not the one missing an ear," he said pointedly, gesturing back at George.

"Hey!" George protested.

"And you threw a fit last time when I got the wrong type," Harry continued, ignoring George completely. "The kind of one that's hard not to listen to."

Fred's grin grew a bit more genuine. "Curry is very serious business," he said with a blatantly false solemnity.

Harry just rolled his eyes. "So I've been told.


Harry didn't join them in bed every night. Well over the half the time he stayed at their flat, he slept on their rickety sofa. Sometimes, though, they'd ask him to join them. Usually on the bad nights.

It had been clear all day that it was going to be one of the bad nights.

"How's your arm?" George asked quietly, wrapping his arms around Fred from behind as they settled into the bed. There was a thread of protectiveness running through his voice that he wasn't even remotely trying to hide.

As Harry watched from the doorway, George leaned in and pressed a kiss against the back of his brother's shoulder. There was a flash of something on his face, there and gone in an instant, that looked suspiciously like worry.

Fred's response was to roll his eyes and twist his body so that he could press a kiss against George's lips. Or, at least, in the general vicinity of George's lips. It was fairly obvious that it was more the gesture that was important than anything else. He was still holding his bad arm just a bit too close to his chest, but other than everything seemed almost normal.

George chuckled when Fred pulled away a moment later. "Point taken," he said lightly.

Fred shifted somewhat suggestively, his hand slipping under the sheets. "Not yet."

Harry couldn't help but let out a snort of laughter. He'd kept it quiet, but it was still enough to draw both of their gazes towards him.

"Coming?" George asked, raising an eyebrow.

Fred grinned. "Not yet," he said very pointedly.

There was a long pause before George groaned. "That wasn't even a good one."

"I thought it was," Fred shot back.

Harry rolled his eyes and started towards the bed. It was enough to at least draw their gazes towards him. He'd learned from past experience that once they started bickering, they rarely stopped unless something else got their attention.

"You're still wearing clothes," George said, shaking his head. "You should—"

Harry's robes dropped to the floor, revealing exactly what he was wearing underneath it. Or not wearing as the case might be.

George cut off abruptly, his mouth twisting into a grin.

Fred let out an appreciative whistle.

If he said so himself, Harry was pretty good at getting their attention.