A George Christmas Carol


Story Summary:
On the first Christmas after his brother's death, George is all Scrooged up. Luckily, Fred isn't having any of that.

A George Christmas Carol

Author's Note:
This is a Christmas gift-fic I wrote for Tayoel. Buon Natale! Spero ti piaccia! This was beta-read by dear QueenBtchoftheUniverse, thank you for putting up with me. Enjoy and Happy Christmas!

A George Christmas Carol

Stave I: All Scrooged Up

Fred was dead to begin with...


George reckoned that the impact had been quite violent for being only a little five-year-old-looking boy.

"I'm sorry Sir," sobbed the child in a tiny voice.

George didn't look up from his precious stash of Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder scattered on the snow in Diagon Alley. He growled though, as he tried to summon the little bags of the powder into the box once again. "You should pay attention to where you go," he barked, "instead of bumping into people's legs." He looked at the child and noticed that he was sitting in the snow where he had landed, one of his gloves a few feet away. "Haven't your parents taught you anything?" he continued in a hiss. "Running through the streets when it's this crowded and slippery."

"I'm sorry Sir," repeated the child, tears forming at the corners of his eyes.

"Sorry won't help me here." He looked down again and tried to rearrange the bags in the box in a fashionable way. He had to send them to Zonko's before the post office closed. Apparently it was an item that sold well on Christmas day, in fact many people wanted to leave their relatives' houses unnoticed after the umpteenth Christmas game and shot of eggnog.

"Oh my," said a voice out of the blue, "I didn't know there was a Grinch in town."

George looked up in time to see Angelina Johnson helping the child to his feet and kneeling in front of him as she summoned his glove. "Oh, the old grumpy man made you cry, didn't he?" she said sweetly, brushing away the child's tears as he nodded softly. "Don't worry. I know what will make you feel better." She waved her wand and conjured a mug of steaming hot chocolate out of thin air. She grabbed it and offered it to the child. Before he could actually take it, though, she stopped and tapped the rim of the mug with her wand. A scoop of whipped cream in the shape of a snowman appeared on the surface of the liquid and the child finally smiled as she handed him the cup.

"Thank you!" he cried happily.

Angelina beamed at him as he ran away with his mug of hot chocolate and joined a couple who had just walked out of Madam Malkin's.

It was only after the child had waved at her that she turned to look at George, and somehow he felt the urge to lower his eyes and try to hide the fact that he was staring at her. "Hello Angelina," he said slowly once he was happy with the way he had arranged the bags in the box once again.

"Hello Grinch," she replied simply.

George glanced warily at her as he stood up, his knees soggy with melted snow. "What's a Grinch?" he asked suspiciously.

She shook her head. "Just a Muggle Christmas tale," she replied sweetly.

George nodded, clutching his hands around the box as a group of children ran by him. "Well, it was nice to see you," he said softly, "but I have to go to the post office before it closes and--"

"How about that!" exclaimed Angelina, grinning. "I do too." She produced a stash of letters from the pocket of her coat and smiled. "Christmas cards," she explained, pocketing them again and starting to walk towards the post office.

George was caught off guard at her sudden departure and hurried to follow her, sliding and stumbling on the snow-covered street.

"Are you going to your parents' tomorrow?" she asked as he caught up with her.

George shook his head. "I have to work," he replied.

Angelina looked at him with wide eyes. "But it's Christmas," she pointed out, apparent horror in her voice as she stared at him. "You should spend it with the people you love," she continued, "not working! You should wake up early, open your presents, have so much food that you have to loosen your belt, doze off next to the fireplace, sing Christmas carols, laugh, joke..."

He cocked an eyebrow at her. "Well, someone has her Christmas day all planned out," he said.

She sighed and shook her head softly. "I wish," she replied quietly, "my parents are off to Australia to spend Christmas with my brother and his wife, but I couldn't go because I had to work until yesterday." She sighed again as if to stress her despair. "I'm stuck here all alone for the day."

"Oh," was all George could say, imagining that yes, it was too late in the evening to arrange a Portkey to Australia and that Inter-country Apparition to not spend Christmas alone was definitely not worth the risk of Splinching. He was starting to feel rather uneasy next to his former classmate. He hadn't seen her in months, ever since the last Battle at Hogwarts, and all of a sudden she seemed to want to suggest something to him, something like, let's spend Christmas day together! That was hardly feasible though, because George had planned to work all day and in the evening to sink in the depths of despair for having spent his first Christmas without Fred.

"It's here, George," giggled Angelina as she grabbed his forearm and pointed towards a window filled with owls.

"Right," he replied, flushing slightly. He pushed the door open and tried to keep it open for Angelina, but all he accomplished was to push it with too much force and have it bounce back into his box.

Angelina giggled again. "I'll do it," she said, pushing it open for him to go through.

"Thank you," mumbled George, flushing even darker at the thought that a girl had to keep the door open for him.

Inside, the post office was bustling with last minute clients who needed to send cards and presents to relatives and friends all over the world. A woman elbowed George in his ribs and a fat, red-faced man stepped gingerly on his toes, and George did his best to reply that it was no problem at all when they profoundly excused themselves.

"I need to send twelve letters," George heard Angelina say as he placed the box on the counter. "Two to Australia and the rest are all local."

In the end she had to pay more than himself, especially because of the ones destined to Australia. He paid his good five Galleons though, for his box was heavy and the weather was apparently not good up in Hogsmeade that night.

"You know what I'd love to do now?" asked Angelina as they walked once again outside into the cold air of the evening.

George bit his bottom lip. He knew what he wanted to do, which was going back to his apartment above his shop to stare at the ceiling until he fell asleep. He was a bit concerned that whatever Angelina wanted to do she didn't want to do it alone. "Go home and have a hot chocolate?" he suggested.

Angelina grabbed his forearm and dragged him towards the decorated windows of the Leaky Cauldron. "Almost," she said cheerfully, "I want a hot chocolate in a pub."

Before George could even try to protest or to dig his heels in the slushy snow, Angelina had opened the door and dragged him inside the inn. The air was warm and scented with chocolate and peppermint and Butterbeer, and the voices of the people in there seemed cheerful enough for being the night before Christmas.

There wasn't a single free table in the whole inn, but Angelina didn't seem too bothered as she made her way to the counter and sat on one of the high stools there. She turned to look at George and patted the stool next to hers.

He tried to cock his eyebrows in the wariest way possible, but she had already looked away and was ordering two hot chocolates with cinnamon and whipped cream on top.

"They're on me," she let him know gleefully as George slumped on the seat next to her.

"Oh no," he replied hastily, "I'm not poor anymore, I can pay for myself."

Angelina glanced at him as if that were a peculiar answer. "I know," she said slowly, "I just wanted to be nice."

George flushed once again and tried to focus his attention to the beverages that appeared in front of them. The whipped cream in his mug had the shape of a big snowflake and it turned and turned without melting. "Right," he mumbled after a while, "thank you then."

She let out a soft chuckle and George glanced at her as she sipped her hot chocolate. When she put the mug back down she had to lick a cream moustache off her upper lip. She turned and laughed as if she were a child and found it all very amusing. "So, do you still live over the shop?"

George tapped his fingers over his mug. "Yes," he replied.

"That's not far from here, is it?" she asked, scrunching her eyes a little to probably think about the geography of Diagon Alley.

George shook his head and finally brought the mug to his lips. The liquid was warm and sweet and thick, and George felt it warming him up instantaneously. "Where do you live?" he asked her, licking the whipped cream from his lips now.

She smiled at the question and he really couldn't imagine why. "Oh not too far either," she replied, "right next to Flourish and Blotts. It's quite convenient for work, you know."

George frowned slightly. "Where do you work?"

"Quality Quidditch Supplies," she replied, grinning. "Like you didn't know!"

George eyed her without understanding. "I didn't." How could he? He hadn't seen her in months.

Angelina cocked her head, studying him as if to determine if that was a joke or not. "You came in last month," she reminded him, "you wanted to buy a present for your brother, Bill, remember? You bought a Chudley Cannons t-shirt."

George did remember the shop and the present, he couldn't remember having talked to Angelina though. "Yes, of course," he replied quickly, "I just... forgot..."

She beamed again, unfazed by his lapse of memory. "That's okay," she said cheerfully, "did he like it?"


"Bill. Did he like the t-shirt you got him?"

How did she remember what he got for his brother a month before? George almost didn't remember himself. "Yes," he finally replied, bringing the mug to his lips and sipping some more hot chocolate.

"Good," she said, and she seemed to really think that, "what did you get them for Christmas?"


"Your family, I mean," she said.

"Oh," he replied. He should have figured that that was a standard Christmas Eve conversation topic. "Nothing."

She looked at him surprised and a bit disappointed. "Nothing?"

He shook his head. "I told Ginny to buy the presents and we would have split the price," he explained.

Angelina seemed to relax at the news that he would have had presents for his family after all. As if she really actually cared. "Why Ginny?" she asked amusedly.

"Because, believe it or not, she is the best at buying presents, she always knows perfectly well what to get to everybody." He smiled softly at the thought of his little sister.

"And what did you buy her?"

"I told Mum I would have put money in her present to Ginny."

Angelina pulled a lock of hair behind her ear. "So you missed all the fun that is Christmas shopping, this year," she said matter-of-factly.

"I hate Christmas shopping," he replied flatly.

Angelina looked away. "Okay," she murmured softly.

George felt a weird sensation at the pit of his stomach, as if he felt guilty for something he had said without actually understanding what that was. He hadn't said much anyway, right? Nothing impolite or aggressive, correct? He felt the urge to add something though. "You like Christmas, don't you?" he asked slowly.

Angelina nodded and bit her bottom lip. "I love it," she admitted, "and I can't stand the fact that I'll have to spend it alone tomorrow."

An uncomfortable silence followed that statement. George knew that the right thing would have been for him to invite her to his apartment and spend the day drinking hot chocolate and laughing and opening non-existent presents. He felt a slight panic at the thought that if she said that she was going to be alone another time he might have proposed that to her. He had to get out of there. He didn't want to spend that Christmas with anybody at all. He didn't want to be happy that year.

"Yes," he said distractedly, looking at his wrist. "Merlin, Angelina, it's so late. I really have to go..."

"You don't even have a watch," she pointed out, nodding at his arm.

"Right," he replied, flushing, "but it's late. I have to go." He downed his chocolate and stood up. "But it was nice seeing you." He stretched a hand for her to shake. "Happy Christmas."

She looked up at him, delusion painting over her face as she shook his hand. "Happy Christmas, George," she said, and her voice seemed truly pained by the fact that he was leaving.

George did his best to ignore it, he smiled to her for a fraction of a second before turning to give her his back and walk towards the door.

The cold air slapped his cheeks as if it wanted him to know what a horrible, horrible person he was and George just scowled at the wind. Yes, probably he had been kind of rude with Angelina - now that he thought about it, did he thank her for the chocolate at all? -, but she hadn't lost a brother only a few months before, she didn't know what he was going through. She and all her Christmas cheerfulness... he didn't want any of that. He just wanted to curl into a ball and stare at the walls of his apartment until he fell into a dreamless sleep.

He walked with difficulty on the slimy pebbles of Diagon Alley, his hand pushed deeply into his pockets. He had to brush aside a whole group of carollers who were trying to convince him to sing with them, and two little girls who asked him to help them finding their Pygmy Puff. Apparently, it jumped in the snow and they lost it for good.

He replied quite rudely to all of them and made his way towards the Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes side door. He turned a rusty key in the lock and opened it with a sinister creaking sound. Fitting, he thought curtly. He climbed up the stairs that brought him to his small and gloomy apartment, dragging his legs as if he were eighty years old instead of twenty.

He had never considered his apartment small nor gloomy when Fred was alive, but somehow now it seemed dark and stifling to George. And the fact that everywhere he looked he could see something that had belonged to his brother didn't help his mood either.

He shed his clothes and wore pyjamas with ducks on them and his newest Weasley jumper on top, for it was really cold in his apartment that night. He glanced warily at the presents he had piled in a corner. One from each of his siblings and one from his parents. One from Harry and one from Hermione. His mother had told him that he would have gotten nothing at all if he didn't go to the Burrow to spend Christmas with them, but then she had started crying and he had started serving another client and their little argument had ended there. And that morning he had found Ron and Hermione at his door with their arms full of presents. "At least you'll have something to open tomorrow," said Hermione, her eyes shining with tears.

He thanked them rather curtly and looked as they walked out of his shop hand in hand. Ron was on holiday, even though he had insisted to stay and help during the holidays, George had sent him home. He wanted to stay alone with his pain, no need to have Ickle Ronniekins around while all he wanted to do was drowning in his sorrow by himself.

George made his way to the kitchen and took out a portion of frozen lasagne that his mother had made for him the week before. He warmed it a little and ate half of it over the sink. When he was quite sated, he put the leftovers away and crawled to his bed. There was no fire in the fireplace, no Christmas tree in the corner, no stocking on the mantelpiece. If it weren't for the snow outside, the lights in the window shops in the streets and the voices of the carollers, one wouldn't have known that it was Christmas at all.

He drew the covers up to his nose and closed his eyes. He tried to void his mind of anything Christmas and Fred-related. He wasn't sure he succeeded when he felt something warm wetting his cheeks as he fell into a dreamless sleep.


Stave II: The First of the Three Spirits (a.k.a. Fred)


George was actually aware of the voice, but he didn't stir. To be honest, this wasn't the first time he heard his brother's voice in the middle of the night, and every time he did he just opened his eyes and turned on the light to stare at his empty apartment with irritation.


George frowned slightly and brought the covers up to his nose. He tried to push his face into the pillow and curl up into a ball to fall asleep again.

"Your Holeyness."

George was still quite reluctant when he slowly opened his weary eyes. The apartment was mostly dark and exactly as he had left it when he had closed his eyes a few hours back, except... George pushed the covers back and sat up, rubbing his eyes vigorously... except for a glow coming from the foot of his bed.

"Merlin, you snore so loudly. I have no idea how I managed to sleep next to you for twenty years."

George narrowed his eyes as Fred floated in thin air in front of him. He looked like he was sitting on something that George couldn't see, his legs crossed at the knee, his head cocked and a smirk over his face as he looked at his twin. His appearance was very ghost-like, George could look at him and at the same time look through him and at the wall behind.

George stared at him for a long moment before shaking his head and sliding back down under the covers. He closed his eyes again and again he tried to fall asleep.

"What are you doing, Gred?" Fred asked him.

He shook his head. "Going back to sleep," replied George curtly, "you are not here. You are just another dream."

"Another? Aww," said Fred mockingly, "you dream about me!"

"Just go away," growled George with annoyance.

Fred chuckled. "I hardly think so, Georgie," he replied, "we need to talk."

"I'm not listening to you," snapped George, drawing the covers up to his forehead. He heard Fred saying a few other things over the covers, but he pushed his hand against his good ear and cut off every sound. He smiled at the silence that engulfed him then.

It didn't last, though.


George cried out in pain as he brought a hand to where his left ear used to be. He jumped up, the covers rolling off his face and bobbing in his lap. He scrunched his eyes up for the pain and glared at Fred. "What the heck are you doing?" he barked at him.

Fred grinned and raised a pink and floating ear in front of George. "Do you recognize her, Georgie?" he asked him. "I called her Georgina." He brought it to his mouth. "Do you like the name?" he said into it.

George brought his hand to his left side again, the words echoing inside his mind as if Fred had spoken them next to the hole in his head.

"We are inseparable," he let him know as he pocketed the ear.

George narrowed his eyes as he looked at his twin. "Okay," he said heatedly, "is this the cinnamon that there was in Angelina's hot chocolate? Or maybe Mum's lasagne?"

"Beg your pardon?" asked Fred, rolling on his stomach in mid-air and propping his head on his hands. "Oh, I get it," he continued, "you think I'm a food-generated dream, right?"

George grunted, "What else?"

Fred's ghostly eyes shone as a smirk spread his lips. "I'm the Ghost of Christmas Past!"

George eyed him warily. "Yes, right," he said slowly, "great. Definitely the lasagne. I should have warmed them up a bit more, they were definitely still kind of frozen inside."

Fred fluctuated until he was only a few inches from George. "Indeed you should have," he said thoughtfully, "but I'm not a dream."

But George didn't listen to him. He drew the covers up to his nose and looked sullenly at what he was certain was a food-generated-hallucination. Fred, on the other hand, stared down at him with amusement.

George closed his eyes. That thing hovering over his bed was not real. He just knew that. He should have tried to go back to sleep and forget about it. He flashed his eyes open for the briefest moment to see if the hallucination was still there and let out a groan when he saw Fred pretending to swim in thin air above his bed.

"Think about something," murmured George to himself, "think about anything... about Ron and the fact that he still doesn't know where the Daydream Charms go on the shelves of the shop... think about Fleur's pregnancy and how she is driving Bill crazy with her requests for escargots... think about Percy and that poor Audrey girl who is trying to get his attention but he is too daft to notice..."

"Ha, that's rich, Georgie!"

He opened his eyes a little to look at Fred, who was sitting on the post of his bed, his legs dangling like a child.

He didn't even know why - probably it was because after all that hallucination didn't seem to want to fade away anytime soon - but he spoke to him. "Beg your pardon?" he asked coldly.

Fred raised his red eyebrows on his transparent forehead. "I say that it's rich!" he exclaimed. "You judging Percy for not noticing that a girl is throwing herself at him when you are exactly like him!"

George's hands pushed the covers down to his chest. "I am not like Percy," he protested weakly. "I don't even know what you're talking about." He eyed him with diffidence. "And if you take Percy's side then I am sure that you are not the real Fred."

Fred fluctuated closer to George, his legs dangling as if he were sitting on something invisible. "I'm not taking Percy's side," he said with a grin, "I'm just saying that you're just like him."

George rolled his eyes as he sat up on the bed. This hallucination was becoming quite annoying. "How on earth am I just--"

But his complaints were cut short by Fred's hand on his wrist. It was cold and vaguely solid, as if after all this was not a hallucination or a dream at all. George looked down at it before raising his eyes on Fred's face again, this time sporting a surprised expression.

"I'll show you how," said Fred, and as he tightened his fingers around his arm the room became dark and George's jaw dropped in surprise as he was yanked from his bed.


They landed quite gracelessly on a mountain of snow in a field. Well, George landed gracelessly - head first, bum in the air -, Fred, on the other hand, reached the even surface of the snow as if he were as light as a snowflake. He laughed out loud as George stood up and shook the white, flour-like snow from his pyjamas.

"You let me go in midair!" George accused him, shooting him a glare.

"Did I?" chuckled Fred, "I must have thought we had already reached the ground."

George glared at his twin another time, and he opened his mouth to tell him what he thought about him at that very moment, but was somehow prevented from doing so by a little crowd of redheads walking past them and singing Christmas Carols.

George's mouth fell open as he stared at them. The oldest should have been around twelve years old, he was tall and thin and looked like he was certainly the one in charge of the fellowship. The youngest siblings were about four and identical, and they were trailing behind the others and throwing snowballs to a child slightly older than them, while another boy walked right behind the first one.

"That's us," said George in disbelief, walking hastily next to the children.

"And aren't we adorable?" nodded Fred.

"And that's Percy," continued George, "and Charlie and Bill..."

Fred nodded again, fluctuating next to his twin. "Yes, the little Weasley gang," he agreed, "all ready to celebrate another Christmas."

George waved a hand in front of Charlie's face. "And they can't see me?"


He stared as his siblings and himself made their way to the Burrow. The place looked like one of those winter wonderlands portrayed on vintage Christmas cards that one could find at Flourish and Blotts for a few Sickles.

The door of their childhood house opened and George and Fred followed the children inside, laughing and shaking snow from their heads and arms.

"Mum, we're home!" called Bill as they divested of their coats and wellington boots.

A much younger and slimmer Molly than George could ever remember appeared on the kitchen door with a smile on her face and a baby Ginny in her arms. Next to her, hiding behind her legs, a very little, very red-eyed Ron glared at them all.

"What's wrong with Ickle Ronniekins?" asked George, nodding towards his youngest brother.

Fred grinned. "We had to leave him behind," he explained, "he was too young for a stroll in the snow with his brothers."

George stared as a little Fred gestured to Ron to get closer to him. "I brought you something," he said to him. Ron's mouth opened in a huge grin as he followed his brother's directions to place his hands together and close his eyes. Then it happened all really quickly, Fred put the spider - and afterwards he would have said that a spider was a priceless gift in the middle of winter - in Ron's small hands and as soon as his baby brother felt it crawling around he opened his eyes and screamed in fear. Fred was given a time out on a stool in a corner of the kitchen before he could even open his mouth to protest.

"So mean," murmured George, without being able to restrain a grin.

Fred fluctuated in front of him and raised his eyebrows. "Hey, that's you," he said, nodding to the twin in the corner.

"No," George corrected him, "that's you."

"Yeah, but I'm dead," he pointed out, "you can't speak ill of the dead."

George eyed Fred and swallowed. It had been all so rushed, so quick, that he hadn't even thought about what was happening to him as this spirit/ghost/hallucination grabbed him and made him fall in the snow in front of the Burrow. But now that he looked at the floating imagine of his twin, he furrowed his brow to try to understand what he was. Was he real? He was definitely not alive, but George didn't expect him to be. Was he really a ghost? He said he was the Ghost of Christmas Past, not the ghost of Fred Weasley...

George felt like he wasn't half as surprised or as shocked as he should have been, but after all he had read the book... Everybody in the Wizarding World had read it, and apparently - as he had heard Hermione saying once - even the Muggles had, thanks to a rather indiscreet, XIX-Century-wizard.

"Fred?" said George tentatively, his voice a bit chocked.

"Shh!" he shushed him. "This is good." He nodded towards the living room as their father walked out of the fireplace.

"Daddy!" screamed Ron, running towards him and grasping his knees.

Arthur beamed as he grabbed his youngest son under his armpits and brought him up to his face to kiss him. "Uh oh," he said, brushing his big hands against Ron's cheeks, "someone's been crying."

Ron hid his face in the crook of his father's neck and nodded.

Arthur laughed and hugged him tightly. "Well, Daddy's here now," he said, patting his son's back, "and he's going to tell you a story."

"A Christmas story?" asked Bill, walking up to them as Arthur sat on his armchair with Ickle Ronniekins in his arms. Bill sat on the floor at his father's feet.

"A Christmas story," confirmed Arthur as Percy and George walked to the couch, climbed on it and sunk amongst the colourful pillows.

"Oh, Arthur, no stories before dinner," said Molly as she entered the living room with Charlie trailing behind her. "You know that they always go on forever and then the children never want to eat when I call them."

A chorus of "No! Mum!" and "Please!" had Molly rolling her eyes playfully. She detached little Ginny from herself and put her down between Bill's legs. "Fred," she called him, "come here, Daddy's going to tell you a Christmas story."

Fred jumped from the stool and soon was sitting next to his twin, his short legs dangling from the couch. "Wicked," he said, his eyes shining in anticipation.

Arthur cleared his throat. "Well," he started, his eyes wandering from one child to another, "it was the night before Christmas..."

"Like tonight?" asked Charlie.

"Like tonight," replied Arthur, "and every child in Ottery St. Catchpole was asleep in his bed, while the snow was falling all around the village..."

"Don't I look just adorable on that couch?" asked Fred, fluctuating in front of George.

George shushed him brusquely and waved a hand in front of him as if he could move him away like fog. "I want to listen," he whispered, as if he were afraid that they could have heard him.

"Oh, you've listened to that story for twenty years," said Fred, leisurely swimming back in front of his twin, "that's not why I brought you here."

George looked up at him and frowned slightly. "Why then?"

Fred sat gracefully next to him and a nodded towards the scene that was unfolding in front of them. "Look at us," he said softly, "look at you. So happy..."

George growled. "Of course I'm happy," he snorted, "it's Christmas Eve, what kind of git wouldn't be happy on Christmas Eve?"

Fred looked at him and grinned. "You?"

"I meant as a child," he hissed.

"Why? Because you have to be a child to like Christmas?"

George rolled his eyes. "I like Christmas," he protested weakly. "I'm just..."

"Let's go," said Fred, grabbing his arm again, "I think you've seen enough." Like the first time, the living room of the Burrow went dark and George felt as if he were falling down a pitch black well. Then there was light and this time there were stone walls all around him. When George felt once again Fred's hand leaving his forearm he opened his eyes wide and tried to grab his twin. His hand shot through the ethereal consistence of the ghost though, and soon he was crashing against the hard and cold floor of the Great Hall of Hogwarts.

"Merlin!" laughed Fred. "You should see your face!"

George glared at him as he pushed himself to his feet. "You let me go again!" he spat.

Fred waved a hand in dismissal. "It's not as if you could have died, Gred," he said distractedly, "you can't even feel pain, can you?"

"No," he admitted reluctantly as he touched his face to check the damage after the impact with the floor, "but still, it was not very nice what you--"

"Shh," Fred silenced him again, "we're coming!"

George looked as himself and his twin made their way to the centre of the hall. Fred had Angelina linked to his arm and she was looking adoringly at him. George was laughing with Alicia, but she didn't look half as interested in him as Angelina was in his brother. Both twins pushed their dates to the centre of the Great Hall and started dancing completely off music. Angelina seemed to be laughing her head off and Fred looked at her as if he could see only her in the whole hall. George and Alicia seemed slightly less harmonious, but still it looked like they were having fun.

"Why are we here, pray tell?" asked George coldly.

Fred cocked an eyebrow. "You sound like Mum," he let him know. "No, not even. You really sound like Percy."

George rolled his eyes as Ginny and Neville swayed with the music right next to them. "Well, was this a good Christmas? Is that what you are trying to say?"

"Wasn't it?"

George shrugged a shoulder.

Fred landed next to him. "Come on," he said, pushing him towards the buffet. "You need to listen to this."

He tried to dig his heels in the stone floor, but somehow he seemed like he just couldn't do anything but listen to Fred.

"Are you having fun, George?" asked Angelina as she apparently waited for Fred to bring her something to drink.

"Course, I am," he replied gingerly, "are you?"

Angelina laughed, her perfectly white teeth flashing at him. "Merlin, yes," she said, "Fred is fantastic."

George - actually both of them - eyed her with a fond smile. "So I've heard..."

The music stopped for a couple of seconds before the Weird Sisters started playing their hit song Can You Dance Like a Hippogriff?

"I love this song!" exclaimed Alicia, grabbing George and dragging him back to the dance-floor.

"You're quite fantastic too," murmured Angelina as they disappeared through the crowd.

George turned to look at Fred's ghost, his brow furrowed, now quite sure why he was witnessing this. "Excuse me, what is that supposed to mean?" he asked slowly. "She thought I was fantastic? Well, lots of girls did... I'm sure even... I don't know... Alicia or Katie thought that I was fantastic..." He looked at Fred's ghost and shrugged a shoulder. "I was the handsome one between the two of us..."

Fred flashed him a smile. "Really?" he asked softly. "As long as you think so..."

"Course... but anyway, that's a useless piece of information." He looked at Angelina. "That she thought that I was fantastic, I mean, after all, she went to the Yule Ball with you," he added softly.

Fred fluctuated in front of George and nodded. "Yes, only because you can be worse than Ron when you have to ask out a girl."

"Worse than Ron?" exclaimed George, outraged. "First Percy and now Ron. Are you trying to insult me?"

Fred laughed as he lay on his back in midair. "Almost as bad as Ron, then... if in seven years you are still moping about being lonely and alone then I'll know that you are just as bad as he is..."

George crossed his arms on his chest. "I don't mope, for your information," he grunted.

Fred laughed again. "Please, I'm your brother, I know you mope late at night when you're there all alone in your apartment over the shop."

George darkened. "Okay," he muttered, "I think I've seen enough, can we go now? I have to open the shop early tomorrow."

Sixth-year-Fred and Angelina joined George and Alicia on the dance floor and George felt his twin's hand on his upper arm once again. "We can go, but not home just yet," he whispered into his good ear.

Once again George felt like he was falling. Once again Fred was laughing next to him and once again he let go of him before they could reach the ground. George fell face first on a bed, but - just like before - he didn't feel any pain.

He didn't even look up. "Where are we now?" he asked, annoyance in his voice.

Fred didn't reply, but someone walked next to the bed, followed closely by someone else.

"Fred," said a slightly younger George, "have you wrapped Mum and Dad's presents?"

"I'm on it," replied Fred, waving his hand.

George looked at himself and his twin, as Fred's ghost swam his way across the room.

"Look at you, Georgie," said Fred, "look at you. So young and handsome and with two ears."

George rolled his eyes, but he had to admit that his face framed with two ears didn't look too bad at all...

"Come on, Freddie," said George impatiently. "We are going to be late for Christmas dinner, and you know Mum."

"So eager to go spending Christmas at the Burrow," said Fred thoughtfully, "I wonder what changed..."

George shot him a glare, evaluating if he were serious or not. "You," he hissed.

Fred laughed at him and swam back in front of his twin. "Just because I died?" he asked amusedly.

George eyed him warily. "Yes," he muttered, "just because of that."

Fred laughed even harder, his ghostly mouth opening wide in front of George.

"Could you be a bit less insensitive?" asked George as he looked back at himself and Fred, getting ready to go to the Burrow.

"No," chuckled Fred, "it's my death, I can be as insensitive as I want..."

George crossed his arms and sat on the bed where he had landed, his eyes still fixed on the twins grabbing a fistful of Floo Powder. "I know what happens next," he murmured, "we go to the Burrow and have a nice Christmas, Mum is happy, Dad is happy, everybody is happy, except for Harry who is never quite happy, and for Ron who didn't invite Hermione because he is with Lavender. We eat a lot, we play games, we sleep and we--"

"Great," Fred's voice was almost coldish as he spoke. He got closer to George and grabbed his wrist. "Then let's go back home."


Stave III: The Second of the Three Spirits (a.k.a. Fred)

George jerked awake. His cold, dark apartment was still and silent. He shivered and proceeded to bring the covers up to his nose. It had all been just a dream. A silly, food-induced dream featuring Fred. Nothing new there actually, he had dreamed of Fred so many times before, he was used to getting up all bothered by the dreams he had had. But never had a dream been so vivid and realistic. He could almost still feel the snow under his feet and the music in the Great Hall and Fred's presence in the room... He shook his head and rolled his eyes. It was just a dream. A dream. A fudging dream.

He closed his eyes and tried to go back to sleep, even though the very thought of having another nightmare just like that one worried him quite a bit. He had to wake up early and open the shop. Christmas day was surely going to be a busy day. Maybe he should have kept the shop open longer just in case people needed some extreme, last minute Christmas shopping.

As he nurtured the idea of keeping open until midnight, a rattle of chains and a low, guttural "boo" echoed through the apartment.

George had just the time to peer over the covers when a boo-ish "George Weasley..." was spoken right above his bed. "I'm the ghost of Christmas Present."

"What the he--"

"Language!" was the ghostly reprimand.

George glared at the owner of the voice and his eyebrows raised questioningly for the briefest moment before furrowing in disappointment. In front of him, hovering about twenty inches from the floor, a white sheet-covered figure with chains coming from under the linen and two holes for the eyes looked down at him with expectancy.

"That is one of my favourite bed linens," he said gruffly.

The ghost stopped and looked down at him, and even though George could only barely see his blue eyes through the holes in the sheet, he could tell that the ghost was amused. "You have favourite bed linens?" booed the ghost, trying hard to restrain the laughter.

George glared at him. "Yes," he replied curtly, "and you don't get to laugh at me, because you are only a dream. Go away already!"

"Oh come on, Gred," cooed the ghost.

George rolled his eyes. "I just want to sleep and forget about tonight, Fred," he growled. "Just leave me alone."

The ghost was quiet for a long time before actually replying, "I'm not Fred. I'm the Ghost of Christmas Present."

"Nobody calls me Gred except for you, Fred," muttered George, "nobody called me, I mean."

The ghost groaned. "Oh Merlin. You are so unsupportive, and to think that I was all dressed up for the occasion."

"Dressed up? You wore a sheet and cut two holes through it," scolded George, "tell me at least that they won't be there tomorrow morning."

"I can't promise anything," said Fred. He hovered closer to George and stretched a white, long hand in his direction. "We need to go, now."

George groaned. "Go? Go when?"

Fred shook his head and the chains rattled all around him. "Not when, where, this time," he corrected him, "Christmas Present remember?"

"I thought that meant that you were giving me a Christmas present this time."

Fred's eyes looked intently at him from behind the sheet. "Was that a joke?" he asked amusedly. "A lousy one, naturally, but still... was that the first joke ever since I died?"

George rolled his eyes. "Let's just go," he groaned.

As Fred laughed for the umpteenth time that night, the window burst open and George's cover flew off the bed. He cried in surprise as he was lifted off the bed. "This way," chuckled Fred, "and don't shriek like a woman."

George had just the time to say, "I don't," before he was hauled out of the window with Fred at his right.

Diagon Alley was colourful, but silent under him, and deserted for that matter. It was covered in snow, fresh and soft and immaculate and the only sound audible was the jingle of far distant bells. Father Christmas must have been somewhere nearby. As they flew, George couldn't help thinking that being lifted into the air and looking down without having to clutch to a broom or any other magical device was quite nice. Without even noticing, he was smiling as he looked inside every window and saw who was sleeping and who was still awake.

"This way," said Fred, pointing towards a window.

George looked at the closed window that Fred meant and frowned slightly. How to stop? At that speed he would have certainly... "Stop! Fred! Merlin, it's shut! It's shut!"

Fred laughed at George as he went through the window as if it were made of clear jelly. He landed roughly on the floor, rolling and coughing at the impact with a carpet.

"You are hilarious," chuckled Fred, softly floating in front of him under the sheet and with chains rattling again.

George glared at him. "Cheers," he hissed sarcastically.

"Yes, Mum," someone said, "I know what I said, it's just that it's Christmas Eve and I'm not quite sure that I... yes, no, I know that you asked me to come with you and dad... I just..."

George looked up and stared at a headless body that knelt in front of a chimney. Green flames enveloped the head, but George recognized that voice and that long, thick mane of raven hair.

"Angelina?" he called hoarsely.

"Can't hear us," Fred reminded him, his own eyes fixed on her. "But, Merlin, she is hot, isn't she?"

George furrowed his brow at his words, but had a good look at her body from behind; her long, perfect back, her round buttocks, her small, whitish feet, her long-fingered hands pressed against the carpet. She was definitely... hot, yes, he agreed with Fred. Well, of course he agreed with Fred, Fred was not there, that was still just a dream. He was sure about that. Wasn't it just a dream? No, he wasn't so sure anymore...

"Yes, I understand, Mum," said Angelina, "I know. Yes. Hmm. Happy Christmas to you too, yes. Bye."

The green flames disappeared and Angelina's head appeared in the fireplace. She shook her long locks and ash fell on the floor, right next to her hands which pushed on the carpet as she helped herself up.

She turned and George couldn't help noticing that her eyes were all shiny and red, as if she had been crying until a moment before. She sighed loudly and walked to her big, four-poster bed covered in crimson and green covers. She lay down and as she hugged the pillow with both arms she started to cry in earnest.

Suddenly, George felt both embarrassed and sad to be witnessing such a moment in the life of his former classmate. "Why is she crying?" asked George softly.

"Because she has to spend Christmas Day all by herself in her apartment," replied Fred, walking towards the bed and sitting on it. His hand ghosted on her ankle, before she shivered and withdrew it.

"She could have gone to Australia with her parents," pointed out George, rather coldly.

Fred glared at him from under the sheet. "She kind of had other plans," he said almost hissing. He sounded quite very annoyed with his brother, almost as if he were trying to protect Angelina from George's stupidity.

"And they didn't work out?" asked George, trying to sound breezy. "The other plans, I mean."

"Nope," said Fred, "she didn't expect the other plan to be so dumb."

George narrowed his eyes. "Hey, wait a second," he said, almost amused, "you don't think that I was the other plan, do you?"

Fred didn't reply, but turned his attention to Angelina.

George started to pace the room. He did feel like Ron or Percy right at that moment. Had he just completely ignored a girl who was throwing herself at his feet? Well, something like that. "But she didn't say anything clearly," he said out loud, not sure he was talking to Fred or himself, "I mean she didn't say that she wanted to spend the day with me... she could have said it out loud."

"She said she was alone," Fred reminded him, his voice was calm, almost as if he tried to explain something very difficult to a child, "and she asked about your day. And she said that she loved to spend Christmas with people she loved..."

"Yeah," groaned George, looking down at Angelina as she swallowed her tears, "yeah, she said that, but... but she didn't... it wasn't clear..."

"Did you need a drawing?"

George glared at him again. "I'm not that thick," he said without conviction.

Fred stared at him for a long moment, George imagined his face scrunched in a sceptical expression, but he couldn't see him from behind the sheet, so he didn't dwell on it. "And you knew perfectly well what she meant..." the ghost added.

"Are we quite done here?" he asked, his voice tiny as he looked everywhere but at Angelina.

Fred shrugged under the sheet. "Yes," he said calmly, "we can proceed to go and have a look at the woman whose heart you have broken this Christmas." He nodded towards Angelina. "Apart from your future wife."

George gasped. "My--what?!"

Fred giggled like Ginny would do. "Spoiler alert, I'm sorry."

George didn't even have time to cast another glance to... his future wife? ...before he was once again pulled from the floor and was flying quickly out of there. Again, they flew over Diagon Alley and again the street was deserted. Then slowly, they left the Magical world behind and London - in all its Christmassy glory - appeared in front of them. George was almost breathless as he stared at the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square and at the lights that adorned Harrods. He marvelled at the decorations in Oxford Street and at the almost blinding white of St. Paul's Cathedral. Suddenly, he understood why his father loved Muggles so much. They were remarkable creatures, at least when it was up to decorate for the holidays, that was for sure.

Then even London and its suburbs were left behind and, slowly, villages were replaced with fields and fields with isolated houses and deserted stations. Until Ottery St. Catchpole was finally visible in front of them.

George groaned, but his groan was lost in the wind. "You were talking about Mum?" he asked dejectedly.

"Who else?" chuckled Fred.

The Burrow appeared in front of them, and as they got closer and closer, George was reminded that there was no brake. "I'm going to crash against the floor again," he muttered almost resignedly.

Fred nodded. "I know you like it, Georgie," he laughed.

Well, he wasn't completely wrong. For as much as it was annoying to have been hauled out of bed in the middle of the night and thrown through windows, on floors or on beds, he couldn't deny that the fact that he didn't feel any pain helped him actually enjoy the landing. He imagined it was a bit like one of those Muggle rollercoaster that Harry and Hermione talked about sometimes...

He landed in the middle of the living room, face down, and braced himself to hear cries and sniffles and sobs coming from his mother.

Instead there was a smooching sound of a very wet and passionate kissing session and a slight panting coming from a corner.

George raised his eyes to the couch and groaned.

His sister. His little, sweet, adorable sister. There, sitting on Harry's lap. Her arms around his neck as she looked like she wanted to melt their two bodies together. Harry's hands squeezed her hipbone as he pushed back against her body, then his long fingers wandered towards her buttock.

"Hey," protested George weakly, "don't kiss my sister like that!"

Fred was silent next to him, but he was looking at the couple as well. "Here's someone who doesn't need a drawing..." he pointed out quietly.

"Here's someone who won't miss me tomorrow," retorted George.

The slap on his head was loud and it hurt more than it should have, since it had been a ghost who gave it to him. "Hey!" he exclaimed, rubbing his scalp. "I felt that!"

"Good," replied Fred placidly, "that was the point."

"Do you hear that?" asked Ginny suddenly.

For a moment George thought Ginny and Harry could actually hear them and his eyes widened at the very thought, then he heard it too and knew that Ginny was not talking about him.

"It's your Mum," said Harry hastily, as Ginny landed on the couch next to him and tried to look as presentable as possible. Harry opened the Daily Prophet upside down and Ginny leaned back with her shoulder blades against the armrest and her feet in Harry's lap. Picking up a nail file, she started to pretend to be filing her nails.

George scowled at them when his mother walked into the living room, long knitting needles under her arm and a bag filled with red wool.

Ginny looked up at her and smiled softly. "A last minute jumper, Mum?" she asked gently, an innocent smile upon her lips.

Again, George scowled at her.

Molly nodded softly and sat on Arthur's armchair, taking out her knitting needles and wool and spelling them to knit one of her famous Weasley jumpers. "I'm making one for George," she said, her voice a whisper filled with despair.

"Another one?" asked Ginny at the same time as George.

Molly nodded. "I want to bring it to him tomorrow," she admitted, "I'll tell him that I forgot I had already given him one." She looked into the fire. "I just want to see him on Christmas Day."

"I know, Mum," murmured Ginny.

Harry put the Prophet down and smiled awkwardly. "Maybe, he'll come," he said weakly, "maybe he'll know that we are all just waiting for him to come."

Molly sniffled loudly as if she was ready to start crying. "I don't know, Harry," she murmured, "I don't think he will."

Ginny looked at her mother with big, brown eyes and sighed. "Oh Mum," she whispered, "maybe he'll come and it'll be a Christmas miracle."

Molly didn't reply, but George could see her eyes shining in the dim light of the fire-lit room. He had to look away for he didn't want to see his mother crying. Again. On Christmas night. Because of him.

"Fred," he murmured, "I want to go home."

Fred floated in front of him with a great fluttering of sheet. "You are home," he replied quietly. "If you want the Burrow to be home."

George looked back at his mother and at his sister who was now hugging her and they were both shaking with sobs. "No," he murmured, "no..."

Then the fire became less bright and the scene disappeared in front of his eyes.


Stave IV: The Last of the Three Spirits (a.k.a. Fred)

When George jerked awake again he was no more under his covers. His body was lying half on the bed and half on the floor. His cold face was pressed against the even colder floor of his bedroom, his knees dunked into the mattress, his feet barely covered with the twisted sheets. He groaned loudly as he pushed his hands next to his face and tried to stand up, but all he managed was to slide his legs to the floor and lie there for a few seconds before grasping the mattress and pulling himself up.

"Merlin," he muttered, rubbing his legs and back. "I feel like I've been dumped onto the floor..."

"Oh but you have!"

George's head snapped up to look at Fred. He was floating from the door of the kitchen, wearing only an old nightgown that fluttered silently around his ankles and a long cap that ended with a pom-pom. George wasn't even surprised anymore to constantly find his dead brother in front of him every time he woke up. He just eyed him with diffidence and cracked a smile at his appearance. "What the devil are you wearing?" he asked amusedly.

Fred twirled like a little girl. "I'm the Ghost of Christmas Future," he let him know.

"And in the future men will wear nightgowns?"

Fred pursued his lips thoughtfully. "No," he said simply, "I just wanted another change of clothes so that you wouldn't be confused." He waved a hand in front of him and shrugged a shoulder. "Since you don't get three ghosts like Scrooge, but only me..." He seemed to think hard about something then added, "Even though both Remus and Nymphadora offered to come and play one of the parts." He grinned sheepishly. "I told them I would have stayed out of their business when Teddy needs his own Christmas Carol..."

"Teddy?" asked George, slightly confused. Teddy was just a baby now, when would he need to find himself in a situation like George's?

"Yes," explained Fred, "when he will need help to overcome his fear of getting attached to someone the moment he falls in love with Victoire..."


Fred snorted. "Bloody hell, Gred," he said, "I can't tell you everything, now, can I?" Something glinted in his eyes and a smirk appeared on his transparent face. "But, blimey! I need to tell you that Ron's daughter will marry a Malfoy!" He took a deep breath and grinned. "Oh, that's a great weight off my mind!"

George looked at him without really understanding if he were serious or not and suddenly he realized that he wasn't wondering anymore if he were real or not. Maybe he had gone off the rails, but he really believed that that spirit in a nightgown that looked so much like himself was the real Fred.

"You can't tell Ron," continued Fred, "absolutely not. Nay. Niet. Nein. Non." He shook his head forcefully to stress that. "Otherwise he will convince Hermione to never have children."

George smiled softly at his twin. "Right," he agreed. "Anything else that I shouldn't know about the future?"

Fred seemed to think hard at this words. "No," he finally replied, "but if you fail to call your firstborn 'Fred' then I will haunt you for the rest of your life."

George cocked his head. "That doesn't sound so bad," he admitted with a little smile. The thought of Fred being constantly next to him wasn't bad at all.

"I'll spy on you and Angelina having sex," pointed out Fred.

George's eyes widened at the thought. "Never mind, then," he replied hastily, "Fred? I like that name, I used to know someone called Fred..."

"Someone cool, I am sure."

"Yeah, I guess he was quite a decent fellow," murmured George.

Fred cocked his ghostly head and beamed. "You're joking," he said cheerfully, "I'm such a good Ghost of Christmas, am I not? I managed to make you joke again!"

George didn't reply, he bit his bottom lip and nodded unsurely.

"Great," said Fred, placing his bare feet on the ground and walking towards George. "Now let's go!"

George opened his mouth to ask where they were going, but he didn't have time to utter a word before he was pulled forward and his little apartment seemed to disintegrated around him into a million stars. He opened his mouth to scream, but again any noise he tried to make was swallowed by the force with which he was pulled forward.

Then the million stars that used to be his flat pulled themselves together and a big, beautiful - if a bit gloomy - living room appeared around them.

George looked around himself without understanding what, where and why they were in a place that he couldn't even recognize. "Where are we?" he asked, looking at the massive pieces of furniture which adorned the room and at the silver and green decorations that let you know that it was Christmas.

"At the Flints residence," said Fred, jumping on the couch. "And this is so soft..."

George furrowed his brow. "The Flints? The Flints as in Marcus Flint?"

Fred nodded as he pushed his head in a furry cushion. "As in Marcus and Angelina Flint."

"WHAT?" George's voice echoed for the room and as if in reply to it a door slammed open and a tall woman in her fifties wrapped in a delicious green dress walked into the living room briskly, her face was dark and she looked annoyed as if she had just had an argument with someone.

"Angelina," murmured George, stretching a hand towards her as she collapsed on the couch next to Fred.

"I was talking to you, witch!" bellowed a voice from the other side of the door. "And you don't walk out of a room when I talk to you."

Angelina rolled her eyes and grabbed a pillow to scream into it. "I'll do whatever I want, Marcus!" she cried back.

Marcus Flint appeared on the door and George couldn't help noticing how ugly he still was. He walked swiftly into the room and came to stand in front of his wife, his arms crossed on his chest. "I don't want to hear another word about that issue," he screamed, "do you understand me?"

"But you promised!" she screamed right back at him.

Marcus darkened. "I don't bloody care," he growled, "did you see them? Did they look like they were worthy of the Flint household?"

"I couldn't care less what they looked like," cried Angelina, "they were just poor, little orphans. And you promised me a child!"

"It's not my fault if we can't have children," snapped Marcus.

Angelina fisted the cushion in her lap. "Yes, it is! The Healer said it's all your fault," she cried, "after that Quidditch accident and you knew all along you wouldn't have been able to have children!"

Marcus rolled his eyes. "And I didn't think that it would have created so many problems," he snorted, "if I knew I would have never offered you that drink that Christmas Day of thirty years ago!"

"And I would have never accepted it!"

"Good!" cried Marcus.

"Good!" screamed Angelina.

Fred eyed George amusedly. "Trouble in paradise," he said as Marcus stormed out of the room and banged the door at his back and Angelina collapsed with her head hidden in the cushions and started to sob loudly.

Fred patted her back. "Poor thing," he murmured, looking at George, "had she not had to spend that Christmas Day all alone that year... Had she not gone into the Leaky Cauldron... Had Flint not got her drunk and brought her upstairs... Had he not asked her to marry him..."

George swallowed. "Is that my fault?" he asked uncertainly. "I mean, is it really my fault? I just didn't... I didn't know..."

Fred grinned at him. "I told you, you are just like Ron. You don't have a clue sometimes." Then he stood from the couch and walked to George. "Let's go."

"Again?" whined George. "I got it, alright? I don't want to see anything else... please..."

Fred laughed with mirth. "Yes, it looks like you got it, so this is just going to be a little reinforcement." He grabbed his wrist and again the house exploded in a myriad of stars. They were pulled forward again and again George was unable to find the strength to say anything. Then the stars came back together and George found himself in his shop.

Well, what was left of his shop. It was definitely the Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, but it looked darker, smaller, less supplied... as if George had to downsize it because the business wasn't going particularly well.

"Is this my shop?" he asked, his mouth hanging wide.

Fred nodded. "Ever since Ron left the shop because you were driving him up the wall, this what happened to your business, Georgie," he said matter-of-factly, "not going too well, indeed..."

"I drove Ron up the wall?" he asked a bit dejectedly.

"Oh yes," Fred assured him, "oh, here you come!"

A much older, and a much balder George made his way to the counter and as soon as he sat behind it, George could see his dark face and the many wrinkles that lined his forehead, as if he had been furrowing his brow way too much in the past years.

George observed his older self, horror-struck as he sat there and started to count the money that he had taken out of the register.

"Excuse me?"

Both Georges looked at the direction of tiny voice who had dared to address one of them. It was a young girl, fifteen probably, with flaming red hair and glasses. She was well wrapped in a furry coat and had a colourful hat that covered her ears and matching scarf and gloves. She looked up at George with apprehension as if she were scared to approach him.

"Yes?" asked George, perching over the counter to look down at her. "What would you like to buy?"

"Nothing," said the girl, "I brought you a present, Uncle George."

Both Georges seemed surprised to hear that she was his niece.

"Uncle George?" muttered the older George from behind the counter. He didn't seem particularly happy to have been called 'uncle' by the little girl.

"I'm your brother's daughter," replied the little girl, swallowing almost noisily.

George snorted. "You have to do better than that if you want to help me remember whose offspring you are," he pointed out, "I've quite a lot of brothers."

The girl nodded. "I'm Percy's daughter."

George, both of them actually, looked down at her with eyes slightly wider than usual. "Percy found the time to make a daughter!" they exclaimed at the same time.

"Actually, he found the time for two daughters," she corrected him. "I'm Lucy, his youngest."

The older George looked at the child warily, while the younger one gave her a surprised and amused look. That was what Percy's daughter would look like! He couldn't help wondering if her life was made of continuous studying under her father's guidance and if she had no sense of humour like Percy.

"And what is that you want?" asked George coldly.

The girl raised her hands and only then did they notice a gift-wrapped rectangular object that she placed carefully on the counter. "To give you your Christmas present," she said softly.

George grabbed it quickly and touched it until a smirk appeared on his lips. "A book," he almost snapped, "I should have known!"

"My dad picked it," she said almost sheepishly.

George sneered. "And I'm sure that Hermione and Ron's will be another book," he barked, "what an original family you all are."

The girl looked at him with eyes as huge and as shiny as those of a house-elf. She opened her tiny mouth to reply something, but nothing came out of it.

The younger George felt the urge to slap himself so hard he would have made those wrinkles disappear and the hair grow back on his head.

"Charming fellow, aren't you?" chuckled Fred, sitting on a shelf. "I'm sure that's the last time that poor Lucy here brings you a present."

George looked at his brother and swallowed. "So, that's it then," he said softly, "I will become an old, crusty wizard... just like Scrooge."

"Only if you don't mend your ways, son," replied Fred, mimicking their father's voice, "only if you don't mend your ways..."

"Get out of here, little girl," grunted George to Lucy, "unless you want me to use a Bang Bang Boggart Banger on you!"

The girl gasped as she turned on her heels and hurried to get out of the shop. George stared crestfallen at his older self laughing his head off at the reaction of their niece.

"Fred," George's voice was almost chocked as he spoke, "take me home, Fred. I get it. I really do. I'm sorry." He looked as his twin made his way towards him and grabbed his arms almost painfully. "I'm sorry. I understand now. I do."

Fred smiled and said something to him, but George couldn't hear a thing as everything became dark and he was falling again.


Stave V: The End of It

The sun was already up in the sky when George jerked awake on Christmas morning. His eyes opened so wide that for a moment he feared that they would pop out of his head.

"Merlin!" he exclaimed out loud as the memory of the night before flooded his still sleepy brain. "Merlin!" he repeated. He jumped out of the bed and tripped on something on the floor. He turned and found himself face to face with a white sheet.

"What the..." He grabbed it in his hands and started to run his fingers through the fabric. He was both ecstatic and slightly shocked to find two round holes in it.

"Merlin, Fred..." he breathed, "...you prankster..."

He smiled dumbly at the sheet and brought it to his face to inhale his brother's scent. Probably there wasn't any scent at all, but he imagined it and it was enough. He folded the sheet carefully and walked briskly to the mirror.

Thick hair. Check. Smooth forehead. Check. Affable expression. Check. Ears. Still only one, but that was okay. He was handsome enough to not need two ears like everybody else on the planet.

"And stay like that," he said to himself sternly, "otherwise, Angelina will never--blimey! Angelina!" All he had to do was say her name, and then he remembered her as he saw her the night before. Before he could even notice, he leapt for the door and ran down the stairs.

It was only when he felt a weird wet and cold sensation on the heels of his feet that he noticed that he was still wearing slippers as he made his way through Diagon Alley, and it was only when someone laughed as he walked by that he noticed that he was still in his pyjamas and with only an old, battered nightgown loosely tied around his waist.

"George?" Madam Malkin called him as he walked past her closed shop. "I understood you would keep open today..." She eyed him warily as if there she had it, the proof that he had gone off the rails as he made his way through the snow in his pyjamas.

"Not today," replied George cheerfully, "it's Christmas today, Madam Malkin!" He grabbed her hands and made her twirl. Then he leaned towards her and kissed her on her cheek. "And a wonderful Christmas at that!"

When he let her go, Madam Malkin let out a shrilly laugh as she took a few, unstable steps. "Happy Christmas, then," she called after him.

He waved at her as he walked quickly backwards a grin plastered on his face. "And to you, Madam Malkin!"


George fell backwards in a small mountain of snow as he tripped over something. He had to shake the snow off his eyes to finally see the cause of his fall. The same boy who had run into him the night before looked at him with a terrorized expression.

"I'm sorry Sir," he whined, "I didn't see you. I was just scooping up some snow for a snowball fight... I didn't mean to send you into the snow again... I'm sorry..."

George's grin grew impossibly wide. "A snowball fight?" he exclaimed. "Marvellous!"

The child's expression was priceless as George gathered a generous scoop of snow and threw it at him. Suddenly, they were both laughing and soon people had to dodge the snowballs that were thrown this and that way. An old lady muttered something that sounded like "children" as a snowball hit her in her voluminous backside.

"Look at this," said George as a snowball hit his head. He took out his wand and soon he was casting the Bewitched Snowball charm and a small crowd of children was forming around them and laughed every time the snowballs hit them on their backs and heads. George looked at the child and grinned. "This charm is very powerful," he admitted, "I once hit Voldemort in the face with it."

The child gasped in adoration and George chuckled as he wished them all a Happy Christmas and made his way further along the closed shops of Diagon Alley.

Somehow he knew perfectly well what building was the one where Angelina lived, despite having been thrown in there through a window in the middle of the night, somehow, deep down, he knew what front gate to knock on and what stairs to take to reach the door that brought to her flat.

And there he was, before he could even realize it or stop and think at what to say to her, he was banging his fist on the door that sported the name Johnson near a little brass bell that polite people should have used to announce their presence at the door.

"Angelina!" he said cheerfully.

He couldn't hear anything for some long, unnerving seconds and suddenly he imagined to be too late. Was she already at the Leaky Cauldron? What was the time again? Was she already drinking? Trying to drown her sorrow in litres of Butterbeer? Was she already with Marcus Flint?

"Angelina!" he tried again, this time his voice a bit less strong than before, his knocking slightly less powerful. "Angelina?"

Then there were steps, and there was a door opening, and there was Angelina, in a red and festive dress looking at him as if he were crazy, then she was only able to say, "You're wearing your pyjamas," before he stepped to her, cupped her cheeks and proceeded to kiss the daylight out of her.

"I'm sorry," he said, between kisses, "you're right. I'm a Grinch. I don't even know what it is, but I certainly am one."

Angelina giggled in such a girly way that George couldn't help grinning when his lips were not busy snogging her. "You... not... a Grinch..." she tried to say to him.

He detached himself from her and looked into her dark eyes with gravity. "You are not going to marry Flint," he almost ordered her.

Her jaw dropped as she stared back at him. "Beg your pardon?"

He nodded seriously. "You are going to marry me," he continued, "and we'll name our firstborn Fred." He took a deep breath. "Otherwise Fred - my brother - will spy on us as we have sex."

Angelina's shocked expression became almost worried as she leaned a hand on his forehead. "Do you have a temperature?" she asked hoarsely. "You are quite hot," she added probably almost relieved to find a logical explanation to his behaviour. "You shouldn't wander in the snow in your pyjamas, George."

George grinned. "I'm all hot for you," he said smugly, before bringing his head down to kiss her again.

She moaned softly against his lips, her hand still on his forehead.

He brought his hands around her shoulders and pulled her supple body to him in a bone-crushing hug. Then his mouth left her lips and he kissed his way to her ear. "Come to the Burrow with me," he murmured, nuzzling at her earlobe, "for the day, I mean."

She groaned as he licked her neck. "I thought you weren't going," she said throatily, "I thought you were working."

"There shall be no work on Christmas Day," he whispered. "So? What do you say?" he added before sucking at her pulsing vein right under her ear.

"Yes!" she let out breathily. "Oh Merlin, yes, George!"

He grinned against her skin as he pulled her in a side-along Apparition. She let out a chocked cry as they left her comfortable apartment for the infinite, white fields around Ottery St. Catchpole. The Burrow in front of them.

"But I don't have anything to bring to your mother!" protested Angelina suddenly. "I thought we could have popped into the Leaky Cauldron and--"

"You're not going near the Leaky Cauldron, today," he growled softly, dragging her towards the door.

"And you're still wearing your pyjamas," she pointed out as he knocked on the door, "they are going to think that we..."

But then all her protestations were soon forgotten when the door burst open and then Molly Weasley was crying at the sight of her son; and then Arthur was patting his shoulders, his blue eyes shiny with tears that he didn't want to shed; and Ginny was jumping at his neck, calling it a Christmas miracle and Harry was shaking his hand and wincing slightly at the vice-like grasp of George's fingers; and Ron was looking at him questioningly as George laughed and said 'Malfoy' and 'daughter', and Hermione was crying as well... and then George didn't understand anything as everybody pushed him into the living room and they opened the presents and had Christmas dinner and laughed and joked and sang Christmas carols and in the end they all had to loosen their belts to be more comfortable as they lay and dozed off near the fire.

And at the end of the day, Angelina asked George what had made him change his mind about Christmas. And she smiled awkwardly when he finished his fantastic tale, as if she thought that he had just dreamed it all.

But, Merlin, was she surprised when Ron and Hermione's daughter married a Malfoy; when Percy had two daughters and called the second one Lucy; and when Teddy fell in love with Victoire, who happened to be Bill and Fleur's daughter!

And Fred laughed again at George's jokes, and before Fred II was born he spied on him and Angelina as they had sex. And after Fred II was born he swooned next to his mother as she held him for the first time. And he laughed with George when Rose told Ron that she loved Scorpius Malfoy.

And sometimes, just to amuse himself, Fred took out George's ear from his pocket and screamed into it on Christmas Day. And when George startled and screeched like a girl, Fred laughed.

And then George laughed as well and somehow he knew that he was happy again, and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so God bless Us, Every One!