Title: To Being Half A Person
Word Count: ~3,600
Spoilers: S5 of Supernatural, All of Harry Potter, Vile Violent Vacations and The Letter in the demented'verse.
A/N: A couple of weeks ago, I asked if you guys wanted a demented'timestamp that didn't really go anywhere or do anything - you responded with a resounding "yes," so, here you are!
A/N#2: khek gave me the idea for half this fic in a comment on The Letter, so if you like it, thank khek too! If you don't like it...it's totally khek 's fault. ;)
Time: This story takes place both months after Sam's fall and during the final chapter of Vile Violent Vacations.
Summary: Dean gets an unexpected visitor and we find out where George and Dean got to when they momentarily disappeared from the party.
George apparated into the park at the end of the street. It was a Saturday, children were playing, the sun was shining, and no one had seen him appear out of thin air – so far so good. He eyed the children in the playground. None of them looked familiar, but then, he supposed, that didn’t really mean anything. He took a moment to get his bearings, nodded at a group of older children who were milling about with their bicycles, and then started walking in what he hoped was the right direction.
He had only gone past three houses, when one of the kids from the park coasted past him on a bicycle. George smiled. The kid gave him a suspicious and calculating stare, and George revised his earlier opinion and smiled wider – apparently one of the kids looked familiar after all.
George had just finished telling the story of the swamp in the hallway, when Bill pulled Sam into a conversation with Fleur that seemed to be about politics. “When Fred and I dropped out,” George continued to Dean, “we set off these fireworks we had made – when you tried to get them to stop going off, they’d just split into even more fireworks.” “Man, you must have really hated that teacher,” Dean laughed. “You don’t know the half of it – banned Fred from playing Quidditch, even though it’d only been me who’d got in a fight, and then when we found out about what she’d been doing to Harry – well, and the other kids in detention – that was one of the last straws, you know,” George explained. “Plus, she was a bloody racist.” “What’d she do to Harry and the kids in detention?” Dean asked. “Oh, you know,” George shrugged, gesturing to the back of his hand, “the scars.”
“I must not tell lies,” Dean recited. “She...carved that into him?”
George realized he might be overstepping – maybe this wasn’t a story Harry wanted told. Still, it was too late now, and it was decades ago. “No,” George shook his head. “She never touched him – had him do it to himself, didn’t she. Our friend Lee got ‘I must respect authority’ scarred into him. Mind, he had it taken care of after. Erased.” “She had him- How in the hell do you get someone to carve into the back of their own hand?” Dean asked. “Blood-quill,” George answered, then considered, before he offered softly, “do you want to see?” Dean glanced over at Sam, who was now leaning away from them fully engaged in what Bill and Fleur were saying. Dean nodded. “Come on,” George said, and moved out of the room. He waited while Dean and Sam exchanged a series of facial expressions that seemed to encompass an entire conversation in the span of three second...and soon enough George and Dean were by the fireplace in the kitchen with a handful of floo powder.
Dean was just sitting down with a beer, when the front door slammed open in the way that told Dean that Ben was home.
“Dean?” Ben called, though he was already poking his head in the room, a little out of breath. Dean felt his instincts kick in immediately.
“What is it?”
“There’s...” Ben started, but then hesitated as though second guessing himself.
“Spit it out,” Dean ordered. Lisa appeared in the doorway now as well. Dean knew she hated it as much as he did when he accidentally used that voice on Ben.
“There’s a strange man,” Ben answered. “I think he’s coming here.”
“Strange how?” Dean asked. “Is he wearing a trench-coat?”
Ben gave Dean an impatient look, and shook his head.
“He’s not a flasher, Dean – he just...looks strange, and I saw him in the park, and he’s walking. He’s wearing a hat. It’s not...normal.”
Dean didn’t bother explaining that Ben had misinterpreted the question, instead he put the beer down on the table and tried to think of who he know that wore hats...and could be described as looking strange...and would be walking. Unsurprisingly, he came up with no one.
“What makes you think he’s coming here?” Dean asked, though he was already standing and walking towards the door.
“Because...” again Ben paused, “...because you live here, and you...”
‘Aren’t normal either,’ Dean finished in his head, but out loud he just looked at Lisa, and said. “I’ll see if I know him.”
Lisa moved towards Ben, standing behind him, but placing her hands protectively over Ben’s shoulders.
It felt weird to walk to the door unarmed, but it was broad daylight and there was a devil’s trap under the welcome mat. Dean paused in the open doorway at the sight of the man who was now casually leaning against Dean’s truck, smiling widely.
“My first visit to America and I get my very own Paul Revere,” George Weasley laughed.
The apartment felt unlived in. It wasn’t empty, nor was there a layer of dust on everything that Dean usually encountered in unused apartments. Instead, it had the feeling of being accidentally abandoned. It felt like an apartment belonging to the recently departed. George smiled at him and moved towards one of the bedrooms. Dean glanced into the open door of the second bedroom on the way by and discovered that it was empty, save for an old bed frame and bare mattress. The bedroom George had entered still had the linens on the bed, unmade. Despite the evidence of life, Dean still felt like he was on a job with Sam – breaking into some poor bastard’s house to figure out what had killed him. George pulled a stool over as he opened a very large floor to ceiling wardrobe. He climbed up and started shuffling boxes around on the top shelf. Dean glanced around the room, and spotted a moving picture sitting on a dresser just as George made a triumphant grunting noise and pulled one of the boxes out. “Is that your fiancé?” Dean asked, pointing towards the picture. George glanced over. “That’s Angelina, yeah,” George smiled. “She’s a little older now, though.” “Man, how old are you in this picture?” Dean asked. “Were you two high school sweethearts or something?” “Fred’s sixteen there,” George answered. Dean looked back at the picture, trying to see a difference in Fred - something that would indicate that it wasn’t George. He and Angelina had their faces pressed together, both beaming at the camera, Fred moved to kiss Angelina on the cheek, and then she playfully pushed him away, before the scene repeated. Fred just looked like a younger, happier, George, and Dean realized, with an almost physical pain, that was the difference right there – the difference between Fred and George was that Fred would never get old. “Do you find it weird, dating your brother’s girl?” Dean asked, turning his attention back to the beautiful dark-skinned girl in the photograph, before looking over at George who was rummaging around in the box on the floor. George looked up at him and smiled widely. “No,” George said, “already knew she liked the look of me, didn’t I?” Dean laughed.
“No, it’s Fred, can’t you tell us apart?” George replied, his smile turning into a mockery of itself. “Oh wait, that joke hasn’t worked for over thirteen years.”
“Probably not the best audience for it right now either,” Dean replied, walking down to stand at the bottom of the front steps.
“Good point,” George said. There was a moment of awkward silence, before George smiled again, and walked over to Dean. “So, what gave me away?”
“Bowler hats aren’t really that popular these days,” Dean said. “Also, you were walking.”
“Wizard,” George said. “Still, I’ve been told Muggles have legs as well.”
“Yeah, but we don’t usually use them, especially in the suburbs,” Dean smiled. “What are you doing here, George? It’s not that I’m not glad to see you. It’s just that I figured if anyone came it’d be Harry, and I’d maybe get a little warning.”
“I felt like visiting,” George said with a shrug. “I can leave if you want me to. Harry doesn’t know I’m here. I nicked Bobby Singer’s address off Hermione, and went through one hell of a screening process to get your address from him. If you say the word though, I’ll go back whence I came.”
“Dean?” Lisa’s voice came from behind him full of concern and curiosity. Bobby would occasionally phone, but no one had ever come to see Dean since he had arrived months ago. Dean turned and gave her a reassuring smile.
“This is my friend George,” Dean introduced. “George, this is Lisa.” George smiled and tipped his ridiculous hat. “Do you mind if George joins us for supper?” Dean wasn’t sure who smiled more, Lisa or George. Dean, not for the first time, felt like some sort of feral child that everyone was attempting to domesticate.
George pulled a sleek wooden case out from the bottom of the box, and brought it over to the desk. He opened one of the drawers of the desk and pulled out a roll of parchment. “When Fred found out about the blood quill, he wanted to get one. He wanted to see how it worked,” George explained. “He liked to figure out what made magical items work, in case we could apply similar principals to other things and make a product for the shop.” George flipped open the case to reveal a feathered quill. It looked normal – not that Dean had much experience with quills. “Something like this,” George said, “we shouldn’t have. Fred was curious though. I like to invent from scratch, but Fred liked to bend things that already existed to suit his purposes – people don’t really know that about us. Don’t know which ideas were mine and which were his – sometimes we didn’t know either – sometimes we did. Don’t tell Harry we have it though, yeah?” “I won’t,” Dean promised, picking up the quill carefully and studying it. “Does it scar immediately? Does it only affect the back of the hand?” “Only the back of the hand, yeah,” George answered. “But it won’t scar – it’ll actually heal itself up immediately after the cut.” “So how come Harry’s hand is scarred?” Dean asked. “It doesn’t heal completely,” George explained. “Eventually after repetitive use, the charm that heals can’t compete with the charm that wounds. The cuts remain open and bleeding. If the person doesn’t consult a medi-witch or -wizard for healing, then it’ll scar like any other unattended cut.” “How much use does it take to scar?” Dean asked. “A couple of hours a day, for a few weeks,” George answered. “He was in detention for nearly the entire first month of school. Ron didn’t even know until he saw the blood one night. Harry made him promise not to tell anyone. Pretty typical of Harry, really, – he always hid any abuse he suffered.” “You said your friend got the scars erased somehow, why do you think Harry never did?” Dean asked. “Harry says that scars can come in handy at times,” George shrugged. “I’m inclined to believe him, given his relative expertise in the matter.” “You know,” Dean said, laughing, “I think he’s right. When I first met him, well – I thought he’d chosen the words himself. It made me trust him a little more than I would have otherwise. I guess he should be glad that I didn’t know he got the scar as a punishment.” “Either way, you were right to trust him,” George said. “He got the scars because he told the truth.”
“So, how do you know Dean?” Lisa asked, as she brought George a beer on the back deck where Dean was firing up the barbeque.
“He helped my brother-in-law a couple of times,” George smiled. “I was introduced when he came to London.”
“You’ve been to London?” Lisa said. “You never told me that.”
“Back in January, yeah,” Dean answered. “We were there for a week. Mostly business.” And there, Dean did it again – if there was one thing he could do, it seemed, it was kill a conversation. Lisa’s smile only faltered for a second though, and then she was talking as though Dean weren’t a kill joy.
“You must have gotten some sightseeing in, though,” Lisa said. Ben sat on the nearest lawn chair and looked at Dean expectantly. Dean knew that the kid had never been out of his own state.
“Yeah,” Dean said. “We saw um...the tower of London, and where the Queen lives...and um, you know, stuff like that. We even went up to Scotland too. We, uh, saw a castle. It was cool. Sam really-...it was pretty awesome.”
“Are you like Dean?” Ben asked.
“Ben,” Dean and Lisa both said.
“If you mean are we both fine looking men, then yes, I believe I am,” George smiled and winked at Lisa. Dean rolled eyes.
“George owns a store, Ben,” Dean answered.
“Does your brother-in-law do the same...job as Dean?” Ben pressed.
“No,” George answered. “He’s sort of like a policeman. He catches criminals – human criminals.”
“What kind of store do you own, George?” Lisa asked, given Ben a look that had him shrinking in his seat a little.
“A joke shop,” George smiled, “magic tricks, that sort of thing.”
“Is it real magic?” Ben asked.
“Just tricks,” Dean said, as George took a step toward Ben, reached an empty hand to the side of Ben’s head, and pulled his hand back holding a gold coin. He flipped the coin in the air. Dean recognized it as a wizard coin, before it appeared to vanish into thin air.
“How’d you do that?” Ben asked.
“Magic,” George replied.
“I thought it was just a trick,” Ben said.
“The trick is in how you use the magic,” George winked. Ben rolled his eyes, apparently deciding that they were making fun of him.
“How about you go in and set the table, Ben,” Dean said.
“Okay,” Ben said and disappeared into the house.
“So, how’s it going, man?” Dean said, steering the conversation away from anything magic related. “Are you still engaged to...Angelina, wasn’t it?”
“Married now,” George replied, holding up a hand with a wedding ring displayed, “and expecting.”
“Oh, that’s exciting,” Lisa said. “How far along is she? Do you have names picked out?”
“Three months,” George answered, “we’re naming it Fred.”
“What if it’s a girl?” Dean smiled.
“Well then, the joke’s on him,” George replied.
“Do you want me to demonstrate?” George asked, eyeing the quill in Dean’s hand. “No,” Dean said, “I’ll do it. What should I write?” “Just write anything,” George said.
While they ate, it was all small talk and catching up. George told them about his wedding, about how Harry, Ginny, and the kids were doing, and about how Teddy was getting on in school. Dean told him about working construction. Lisa talked about her job, and Ben answered George’s questions about how he was doing in school.
After dinner, Lisa and Ben retreated to other rooms, leaving George and Dean alone in the kitchen. George watched as Dean reached into a cupboard and pulled out a bottle of whiskey and two glasses.
“Might as well pull out two more,” George said. Dean raised an eyebrow in question, “for our ghosts.”
There was only a second’s delay before the words began to slice themselves into Dean’s skin. It was the sting and burn of a rough cut, rather than one made with a precision blade. It was as though it really were the nib of the quill that was slicing Dean’s hand. The edges of the cuts were jagged, the blood swelling up to fill them immediately.
Dean couldn’t help but think of all the possible applications. Dean may have been a prodigy with a blade, but Alistair had always bested him when it came to the torture of a well chosen word. To carve words into skin – it combined both methods perfectly. No one ever realized the power of words, but Dean knew. Words could dehumanize, words could destroy, and words could rip apart a soul just as well as any blade.
They sat in silence for a moment. Two people. Four glasses of whiskey.
“They’re trying to find a way to save him,” George said.
“Have they found anything?”
“You’d know before I would, if they did,” George answered. “It’s insulting really – as though I don’t know the difference between our circumstances.”
“They’re worried you’d want to bring Fred back,” Dean said.
“I wouldn’t,” George said. “I know it’s different. Fred’s in heaven – or, I’d like to believe he is. Sam’s...”
George took a drink, and Dean tried not to picture where Sam was.
“I’ve been to Heaven, you know,” Dean said.
“What?” George asked.
“After, um...after I last saw you, me and Sam were killed by these two idiots – we both went to Heaven, ‘cause...well, it’s a long story. Anyway, we were resurrected again, but yeah...”
Dean waited as George gave him an assessing look, and then finally asked what Dean expected him to ask.
“What’s it like?”
Dean wondered briefly if he should have brought it up at all. It wasn’t Dean’s idea of Heaven – too controlled, too not-life, too inevitably depressing in the end. He looked over at George, and realized that soul-mates or not, George’s Heaven would be much different than Dean and Sam’s.
“You know those stories you tell?” Dean said, “About you and Fred in school, and starting your shop, and playing pranks and sports and...everything?”
“Yeah,” George said.
“That’s where he is,” Dean said.
“What do you mean?” George asked.
“That’s what Heaven is like – Fred is living in those stories, laughing it up like it’s the first time,” Dean explained. “All those stories you share and probably some that you don’t even know about – like, maybe some Angelina knows about, or stories you’ve forgotten, but he hasn’t. So, um, if you want to picture where Fred is, just tell your stories – because I’m willing to bet that you’re just narrating his Heaven. And when you die, I think...I think you’ll join him, and you’ll be able to show him the stories he’s missed out on too.”
Dean kept his attention on the whiskey bottle, in order to give George as many seconds of privacy as he could. He looked up when George laughed.
“You’re a right bastard, you are,” George smiled through wet eyes. “This visit was supposed to be about me consoling you, not the other way ‘round.”
Dean laughed softly and topped up George’s drink for him.
“Thank you,” George said.
After George had put away the quill and Dean had burned the piece of parchment with his blood on it. Dean took another look around the room and realized why the apartment felt unlived in. Fred’s room wasn’t the empty one across the hall. “You left it how it was when he died,” Dean stated, as George closed the wardrobe. “Sometimes I like to pretend that he’s just gone out for milk,” George shrugged. “How do you do it?” Dean asked. “I couldn’t last two days without- and Sam, he...how do you do it?” “I wake up in the morning, I shower, and I eat breakfast,” George said. “That’s really the hardest part – once I’ve done all that, well, then I stay alive until it’s time to go to sleep. Somewhere in there, sometimes, I find myself living.” “They say it’s gotta be me or him that dies,” Dean said. “Well, really, they say it’s gotta be him. Maybe it makes me selfish - I know it makes me selfish – but I don’t even care what happens to the rest of the world, I just want it to be me so that I don’t have to live without him.”
Lisa fussed over George leaving. They assured her that Dean was walking him to get a cab back to his hotel, where he had left his car.
“What are your plans now?” George asked, as they walked towards the park.
“Well, tomorrow I thought I’d wake up, maybe shower, have breakfast,” Dean said, “then stay alive until it’s time to go back to sleep.”
“That sound like a splendid plan,” George smiled.
“Well, someone very wise once told me that it worked for them,” Dean said.
“Wise, are we?” George laughed.
“As one high school drop-out to another,” Dean said, “I’d say you’re doing okay.”
“Thanks,” George said. He pulled a souvenir coaster of Chicago out of his pocket. “Well, this is me.”
“Thanks for dropping by,” Dean said. “I didn’t think...I mean, I practically told Harry and them not to, but...it was nice.”
“Yeah?” George said, “I’m surprised, because I kind of feel like a useless sod.”
“Yeah,” Dean said, “so do I.”
“They really are trying to find a way to save him,” George said. “And I’m not saying that to give you false hope. I just want you to know that there are more people out there who care about him, who want to save him...and who know how important he is to you.”
“Thank you,” Dean said.
The souvenir coaster turned blue in George’s hand, and Dean watched him disappear a moment later. He waited before wandering back to the house. It was a beautiful night – perfect for stargazing.
“That’s...different,” George said, as Dean watched the letters on the back of his hand heal. “What is?” Dean asked. “Well, it’s just, usually, when you tell someone to write anything, they write their own name.” Dean looked down at the piece of parchment on the desk, at the letters written by his own hand in his own blood.