Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Sometimes, it's tricky being a multiple. We act like we're inseparable. Like three parts of a whole. And yet we each have our own problems and concerns. Things that can consume your consciousness until you stop thinking about what someone else might be dealing with. With something from my other life seeping into my present life I found myself thinking more and more about myself and less and less about my other parts. Until one day I looked up and noticed a clot had development in out triplet dynamic. "George, you okay?" I asked; a piece of buttered toast lifted halfway to my mouth. It was Tuesday. Three days since I learned that there might be people who existed both in Holly's and Jessie's worlds. I hadn't stopped thinking about it. Making it near impossible to sleep or focus on anything else. But when your brother adopts the sad eyes of a basset hound, you tend to snap back to the present.
The generally positive and enjoyable George briefly made eye contact with me before frowning into his glass of pumpkin juice. "I'm fine" he mumbled. Uh-huh, sure. I thought as a moment passes with me staring at my brother who's staring at his breakfast. The only sounds being the ticking for the grandfather clock and the clucking of the hens out in the garden. In a rare occurrence, both of us had the kitchen to ourselves, having woken up late. Dad had already left for work. Percy had secluded himself in his room, as was the norm. While Mum was trying to get Ginny and Ron to help with chores instead of bickering. And Fred… well, I hadn't seen Fred yet this morning.
"Want to try saying that again to make it sound more believable?" I asked.
George sighed as he set his glass down. "Holly", he started to say as his eyes connected with mine. "What does Fred have that I don't?"
His question had me repeating it to myself in my head. What did Fred have that George didn't? Was this a riddle? I dropped my toast onto my plate. "Nothing" I answered slowly. "I mean that literally. You're identical. You share clothes." I trailed off. Was that the problem? "Do you want to have something that Fred doesn't?" It would make sense. When I'm around we are referred to as the triplets. When I am absent, Fred and George are called Fred and George as if they were interchangeable. Kind of like the twins from that muggle book "The Lord of the Flies" by William Golding. Being so closely identified with someone else could probably give anyone a complex.
"What about personality?" George asked. Either ignoring my question or not hearing it.
Where was this coming from? "Well, Fred's a bit more extroverted than you are. But not enough for most people to really notice. And you tend to be less impulsive than him".
George wrinkled his nose. "Are extroverts more attractive?"
I wrinkled my nose back at him. Where was he going with this? "George, where's Fred?"
George slumped down in his chair and shifted until he is back to gazing into the depths of his pumpkin juice. "He's replying to a letter he got this morning". Okay, that told me very specifically what my other triplet was doing, but that didn't tell me why it was causing George to be so gloomy.
"And the letter is bad?" I asked slowly.
Exhaling loudly through his nose, George said, "It was from Angela". The first of the dots started to connect. "And it was addressed to just Fred, instead of both of us like usual".
This was uncharted territory. "And you both… like her?" I asked pausing in the middle of my questions to see if I could gauge his reaction.
George nodded forlornly. "Yeah, but I could never do anything because Fred called dibs first, and now that she's showing interest in him…"
Right, well setting aside the fact they were calling dibs on girls… "This would be one of the few times you two can't share". I finished his sentence for him, leaning back in my chair as I thought. Oh, bother, I'm not sure I'm ready for my brothers to be interested in girls. As far as relationship drama goes, I have enough of that for all three of us.
George makes eye contact, locking me into what is going to be an uncomfortable conversation. "You know the future. Who ends up with Angelina?"
I sighed. "Well I don't know the future", I reminded him. "I know a different version of the future".
"And what happened in it?" George demanded to know, determined to know who conquered in their school romance.
I clicked my tongue as I thought about how to answer. The problem is… technically they both got the girl. But this time around…. I was hoping George didn't get Angelina's affections. But how do I get that across without hurting his feelings? "So, that dance that I mentioned that's going to happen two years from now…." George nods his head to show me that he remembers. "Well, Fred takes Angelina. I don't know if they date after that". George's face falls even further, like an avalanche. Unbeknownst to him, I haven't even gotten to the really painful part yet. "But in Jessie's version, you marry Angelina after we've all grown up. You two would have two kids. Fred the second and Roxanne". I let that sink in, hoping he noticed that I said would instead of will. But being the fourteen-year-old boy that he is, he only hears the part he wants to hear.
"She chooses me" he breathes, his facial expression doing a one-eighty.
I smile at my brother, and I hope it reflects all the empathy I am feeling for him. "In that version, technically she does choose you", I allow. "But Fred is also dead in that version". As George took in the meaning of my words, I felt like I was watching a man who had just been cured of cancer only to be run over by a car seconds after leaving the hospital.
George sinks back into himself, the hope he had was fleeting. "And we're not going to let him die".
I shift awkwardly in my seat. "That is the plan", I agreed. Thankfully, George has never been the jealous type. Thankfully, the Weasley clan is family-oriented. Otherwise, this may have been the start of a murder plot.
If there was tension between Fred and George, no one else in the house noticed. At mealtimes, and joint chores, they remained glued to each other's' sides. Laughing at each other's comments, and teaming up to get under Percy's skin. But Fred was spending an increasing amount of time in their bedroom alone. While George had begun to take solo flights around our homemade quidditch pitch. It was sort of like watching a couple that you knew was going to get a divorce, but they themselves didn't know it yet. And, well…. I can't have that. One afternoon while George was flying, I left Ginny who was playing with a crossword from the Daily Prophet and headed up the stairs to Fred and George's room. The door is shut, which is unsurprising. It wouldn't do for Mum to accidentally discover the amount of contraband my brothers have. I don't knock as I enter the room. I never do. Other than me with my girl stuff, the three of us have never had a need for privacy. "Hey, Fred" I greeted as I closed the door behind him. Fred sits at his desk, hunched over a piece of parchment. Just as George said, the letters between him and Angelina was becoming a daily thing. Balls of crunched up parchment littered his desktop and the floor; speaking past drafts that didn't live up to his expectations. He grunted at me as I climbed up onto his bed and shifted until I was lying on my stomach with my chin propped up in my hands. Not once did he look up from what he was doing. In the back of my head, I hoped this isn't what I look like when writing to Adrian. Of course, I'm not trying to capture or maintain Adrian's attention. I just like giving him a reminder that I'm thinking about him.
A moment passes of just me watching Fred as he scratches out his thoughts with quill and parchment. It gives me a flashback to Jessie sitting with a boyfriend who had just gotten a new video game. Finally, I said, "Fred, have you noticed that something is missing?"
Fred rubs his right eyebrow with the hand that he is holding his quill with. "I know, I know," He said. But does he really? "It needs a salutation. But I think Dear Angelina would be something our Mum would write. Hi is too casual. It should be funny, shouldn't it? I mean, I'm funny. She'll expect it to be funny".
Aw, yes. First love. I have forgotten how all-consuming it can be. Fred somehow seemed to believe that I knew what was in his stupid letter. "I meant in the room, Fred. What's missing?"
Slightly cross-eyed from focusing on one object for so long, Fred turns to look at me from over his shoulder. He squints his eyes as if he can read the answer on my face. I keep my expression neutral. There's really not anything Fred is doing that is wrong. But with a family as big as ours, someone's toes will always be stepped on. We don't need to be apologetic about it, but we do need to be sensitive. Especially us triplets, since we have plans that will change the course of our futures. If they haven't already. When it becomes apparent that I'm not going to give him any clues, Fred glances around. He starts by the furthest corner by the door and ends over by the boys' shared wardrobe. If he gets this wrong, I might have to throw something at him. "Where's George?" Fred asked, sounding like father that forgot to pick his kid up from the babysitter.
"Outside" I answered as Fred shifts so he could look at me again. "flying around and looking like a sad goose without a gaggle".
"What's a gaggle?" Fred asked.
Not what I wanted him to take away from that statement. "you know, a gaggle. Like a herd of horses, a flock of birds" I explained through examples, talking with my hands. "… a gaggle of geese".
"And why do you think George looks like a goose?" Fred asked, snickering over the last word.
I rolled my eyes and ran a hand over the top of my head to pull hair out of my face. "When someone is flying around in circles by themselves at a slow speed, they look like a depressed goose. How about we focus on why one-third of us looks sad."
Fred sets his quill down and turn until he's sitting sideways in his chair. His eyebrows slanted inwards in an expression of concern. "Jolly Holly, do you we need to have a talk?"
I shifted my eyes left and right. Is there is a correlation between the Y chromosome and being dense? "That is literally what we are doing right now". I said speaking slowly. If it's not magic, sports, or humor related it goes straight over Fred's head. George's too. Maybe it's a developmental thing.
It was Fred's turn to roll his eyes. "Yeah, metaphorically right? George's fine and it's you who's the sad goose". I could feel my eyes bulging. How did he get that out of that? "Did Pucey do something? Cause you know we have been working on something that would make his nose bleed for an endless amount of time". Merlin, kill me.
"Let's go back to the fact that George is the one who isn't here and I am. Remember, when you looked around the room and realized that George isn't here?" And Fred just stares. "And the fact that you didn't even realize that he wasn't here…." Still nothing. "and that I had to point it out to you".
Fred's face blanched as the dots connected. "You're right", he said, running an ink-stained hand down his face. "What's wrong with George?" The million-dollar question, right there.
"This isn't what I had in mind when you invited me over to study", Adrian snarked. We were sitting in the upstairs window seat, the one that faces the garden, since Ginny was in our shared bedroom and Adrian and I were not allowed to be behind closed doors together.
"Shh," I hushed him, flapping a hand in his general direction as I leaned closer to the glass. "This is important".
I could feel Adrian's eyes on me, asking for more information. But my focus remained on the front garden. I had spent the majority of the day helping Fred figure out what was bugging George, sort out his own feelings, and make some sort of plan about how he could talk to George. Because the three of us can not be out of sorts for any reason. The world stops turning and nothing makes sense when the three of us are out of whack.
I hear a thump as Adrian closes his potions book. I'm glad that he's getting on board. "He's talking with his hands," I said, speaking about Fred who was standing in front of George by Mum's vegetable garden. "Do you think their positive or negative hand gestures?" I asked. Of course, the time I spent with Fred was about how we could help George feel better without ignoring his own feels for Angelina. But I know my brothers. Even if they accomplish every milestone and solve every problem together, they are still competitive as brothers tend to be. Both of them liking the same girl might be more than we can handle.
"I think," Adrian said, as he placed his hand on top of mine. "That whatever they're doing doesn't concern us and they don't need you to sort out whatever is happening down there". He waved his free hand at the window.
I looked away so I could frown at him. "It's a triplet thing. You wouldn't understand". I said before turning back to the window. It looked like George's turn to talk. He had his arms crossed, but at least he was looking Fred in the eyes.
Adrian sighs, tugging on my hand to draw me back in. "It's a good thing you're good at multitasking". Willingly, I allow my whole body to turn towards Adrian. If he was about to make a point, I wanted to make sure I could blunt it. I liked our back and forth too much to allow either of us to actually one-up the other. "Otherwise, I don't think I would ever be able to hold your attention," Adrian said softly, his voice acting as a beacon designed to draw me in. I didn't think this was the type of point he was going to make. I was expecting something more sarcastic.
Falling into an instinctual drive, I lean in until I am breaching Adrian's personal space. If he's not going to be sarcastic, then neither will I. "On the contrary", I said, matching his volume. "You are the best distraction I've ever had".
"Yeah?" Adrian asked, leaning in closer.
"Yeah," I agreed, setting the scene taking place in the garden aside for the moment. What can I say? Just like my brothers, I can also be competitive. And it's been a very long time since I've last kissed a boy. Fourteen years to be specific.
"What are you doing?" A high-pitched voice asked.
Immediately, Adrian squints his eyes shuts and moves back as far as the window seat will allow. He sighs and reaches up to pinch the bridge of his nose.
"Ginny!" I complained as I moved back to my original spot, creating a socially acceptable amount of space between me and Adrian. I even go as far as turning my body away from the boy so I can fully glare at my little sister.
And like most little siblings, my ire is completely lost on her. She stands at the top of the stairway with a book in her hand. "Can I join you?" She asked.
"No, go away," I said, shortly. And while I wouldn't usually talk to her like that, my words are completely justifiable. It doesn't feel good to be gearing up for a major milestone in your second life (such as a first kiss) only to be disturbed by your little sister. And now the mood was officially shot.
Still, she is persistent. The litter bugger. "But I thought since I am going to start school this year, I should study with you guys".
With his face a little red, Adrian coughs as he picks up his potions book. I don't blame him. If Ginny wasn't my sibling, I would have done the same. I take a deep breath before saying as evenly as I could, "Ginny, there's nothing for you to study. Why don't you…. I don't know", I admitted with a wave of my hand as I tried to think of something. "Go draw a picture for Mum".
Ginny huffs as if I'm the one that just spoiled a potentially important moment. "I'm too old to do that. I'm a Hogwarts student now", she said. Even going as far as straightening her spine in an effort to make herself seem more mature. Merlin, kill me.
But before I can open my mouth and let out exactly what I thought Ginny's misconceived maturity, Pucey grabbed my hand again. "Holly", he said with his voice harder than before. He had my full attention at once. "I don't know who is who, but I think one of your brothers just punched the other.
"What!" I sputtered as I spun around on the window seat and pressed my face up against the glass. Fred and George had never fought before. Bicker? Sure. Argue? Of course. They are brothers after all. But never had they physically lashed out at each other. Out in the Garden, was George, standing over Fred. Fred sat on his bum in the grass, with one of his hands covering his nose and mouth. While George was yelling something at him; waving his arms around like a mad man. My fingers started to twitch as I struggled to think of something I could do. That hadn't been a part of Fred's and my plan!
"I'll go tell Mum" Ginny declared before I heard her clomping down the stairs in an attempt to be helpful.
With Adrian still holding my hand, I look over at the boy. Why was he the least complicated thing in my life? "I think the next time we study we should go to your house".