George found Harry out in the orchard, leaning against a tree with his head resting on his knees and his eyes closed.
"You all right?" he asked.
Harry looked up. "I should be asking you that."
George shrugged. He wasn't all right, and he wouldn't be for a long time. There was a pause as he sat down next to Harry. "I don't blame you, you know. None of us do. Charlie's just upset."
"Yeah." Harry grinned faintly. "You should ask Ron and Hermione about our fifth year." He paused. "Although it's not really the same thing, I guess."
George took a few seconds to figure out what was going on during Harry, Ron, and Hermione's fifth year before figuring it out—Umbridge. And Harry had just watched Diggory die.
"How close were you and Diggory?" George asked.
A pained look crossed Harry's face.
"Sorry," George said quickly.
Harry shook his head. "No, it's okay. I wasn't as close to him as I was to Sirius, or Dumbledore, or Fr-Fred . . . or Colin . . . or Remus, or Tonks . . . or Dobby . . . or even Mad-Eye . . . but we kind of helped each other out in the tournament. I think I reacted so badly because it was the first death I saw, and nobody believed me. And it was a death I could have prevented, so I partly blamed myself. Still do, really."
George was curious, but if anybody had asked him about Fred the way he was asking Harry about Diggory he would have thrown them in the pond and tossed a couple of Grindylows in after them for good measure. "You don't have to answer, Harry. But how long did it take to get over it?"
Harry gave a short laugh. "I haven't. It's been overshadowed by other deaths, deaths of people I was closer to, but I haven't forgotten, and it still hurts, even though I barely knew him and didn't even particularly like him. Sorry, that probably doesn't help with . . ."
Harry paused before continuing. "Eventually, you realize they wouldn't want you to wither away grieving for them, and so you turn your grief into something productive, and then you get used to living without them. But it still hurts."
George spent the next ten minutes talking with Harry. He didn't know whether to be glad that Harry knew more about death and grief than probably anybody else and knew what George was going through, or upset because this was Harry, and George could still remember the innocent little eleven-year-old kid with the broken glasses and the too-big clothes who didn't know how to get onto the platform, and it just wasn't fair what this war had done to him, to all of them.
Eventually, Ginny joined them. "Harry?" she said calmly. "Is it true that you let Voldemort kill you?"
Harry's eyes widened comically, and George almost laughed. "Who told you that?" Harry asked.
"Ron," Ginny answered, still standing in front of Harry. "He punched Charlie for you, too. I would have hexed Charlie, too, but I figured Charlie should listen to what Ron was shouting at him."
"He's grown up, Ron has," George commented, but neither Harry nor Ginny understood. They were too young to remember exactly what Ron used to be like, all wimpy and whiny. 'Ickle Ronniekins' they had called him, and the name matched him exactly. And now he had gone and punched Charlie in the face. Charlie, the only brother Fred and George had always been careful not to annoy, at least not too much.
"But that's beside the point," Ginny continued. "Is it true that you let Voldemort kill you?"
"Obviously not, Ginny, as he's still here," George interjected.
But then Ginny glared at him and he withered. Ginny was probably even scarier than Charlie. She turned back to Harry. "Well?"
"I didn't have a choice," Harry said.
Wait, what? He had actually died?
Actually, that would explain why Voldemort had thought Harry was dead.
But Ginny had launched herself on Harry and was hitting him. "You . . . daft . . . prat . . . Harry . . . Potter," she said, accentuating every word with a blow, before stopping and hugging him.
Harry seemed confused as he returned the hug, but at least he knew the story Ron had told the others. George had no idea what was going on.
And then Charlie approached them. He still had blood dried under his nose, and he looked nervous, which caused George to smirk. Charlie glared at him, and George suddenly remembered Fred didn't have his back anymore.
"Look, Harry," Charlie began, "I didn't mean that. I don't actually blame you. . . ."
Harry nudged Ginny off him and got up, smiling. "No problem." Charlie smiled back, and that was that. It was rather anticlimactic, George thought.
Until Charlie caught sight of Harry and Ginny holding hands. "Oi, Potter! What do you think you're doing with my little sister?"