April was Harry’s least favourite month. It hadn’t always been; as a child he’d hated December because the holiday season reminded him even more than the rest of the year how miserable his life with the Dursleys was. While Dudley got piles of presents and was taken to holiday parties Harry could look forward to nothing more than a week off of school (and really, what good was that?) and maybe a gift of a soccer ball Dudley had kicked so hard that it burst, wrapped up in a bit of old newspaper.
After he’d gone to Hogwarts, Harry had begun to despise July and August, for obvious reasons. The rest of the months were usually equally wonderful, save for the spots of bother he always seemed to get into around June. September felt like taking a big gulp of air after being under water too long and December was nothing short of absolute joy.
And then came the War, and the Battle of Hogwarts, and the problem with April.
The beginning of the month was terrible, of course. No one had ever been able to decide if Fred and George being born on April Fool’s Day was delicious serendipity or their first really great prank, but now it was just a reminder of what wasn’t anymore.
And the end of April was even worse, because of what was about to come.
Maybe Harry and all the Weasleys could hide themselves away on April Fool’s day — George had made it clear that no longer wanted to celebrate the occasion of his birth — but the days leading up to May second were different.
Harry and Hermione and Ron — and the rest of the family for that matter were needed then. There were stories and interviews and plans for ceremonies and there was no way to escape it all. If April was Harry’s least favourite month, then the second of May was his least favourite day, no contest.
He knew that everyone else felt that way too. Even the birth of Victoire a year later hadn’t really changed things. She was a delight and a joy and brought a smile — finally — back to Molly and Arthur’s faces, but it didn’t really change anything. Harry always looked forward to the Muggle bank holiday on May fourth; it meant they were all free of April for another year.
April Fool’s Day this year had been as quiet and solemn as always. Harry had gone with Ginny to Fred’s grave and held her the same way she always held him when they visited Godric’s Hollow on October 31st. Afterwards they had gone back to their flat and they’d talked and cried and laughed and then he’d made love to her silently in the dark, as if by not being able to see each other somehow made it okay to do that on Fred’s birthday.
So Harry was more than a little surprised when, several days later, George summoned him and Ginny to the shop after hours for a “very important discussion that must be kept secret from the powers that be — aka Mum and Dad.” The tenor of George’s note had been so cheerful, so . . . pre-Battle, that Harry worried George might have gone round the bend. Ginny wondered if someone else was impersonating her brother and the discovery that Ron and Hermione had gotten a similar letter made Harry question whether he should tell Kingsley where he was going — just in case.
In the end, it was the just the four of them, converging on the shop after it closed, but Harry gripped his wand tightly as they entered, his Auror senses on high alert.
“He didn’t say anything to me at work today,” Ron said behind him, for the third time.
“Maybe he wanted to wait until we were all here,” Hermione pointed out reasonably.
“Where is he?” asked Ginny, looking around. “George?” she called out to the empty shop.
Harry held her hand as they walked cautiously past eye-popping display cases, their moving and whirling parts stilled for the evening. She had her wand out like he did although Harry knew that hexing this particular brother was probably the last thing Ginny would want to do.
“Maybe it was a joke,” said Harry, thinking to himself that if so, it was of the poorest possible taste.
“You’re right,” said a voice. “It’s a joke.”
Harry spun around.
Emerging from the gloom of the storeroom was George. He was dressed in familiar robes of bright purple — robes none of them had seen in over three years. And he was smiling. A real, happy, slightly smirking kind of smile that had also been missing all that time as well.
“What’s a joke?” Ginny asked. Her voice was still careful as she looked at her brother.
“This life I’ve been leading since Fred died,” said George simply. “If you can call it a life.” He walked further towards them and pulled out his wand, grinning a bit ruefully when they all stiffened.
“Have I really been that bad?” he asked before conjuring up several extremely comfortable looking sofas and a table filled with sweets.” Harry let out his breath.
“Yes, you have,” said Ron, plopping down on a cushion and reaching for a pastry. “But I’ll forgive you.” He popped it in his mouth.
Next to him, Harry heard Ginny counting under her breath. “Three . . . two . . .” As she reached “one”, Ron suddenly sprouted a number of carrots out of the top of his head, from his ears, and dangling down out of his nose. He squeaked in surprise and stared at George, unable to speak past the carrots growing out of his mouth where teeth had been a moment before.
George was nodding to himself as Harry and the others sat carefully on the sofas. “Ahh yes, the carrot cake.” He looked sharply at the rest of them. “I’d stay away from the blueberry tarts if I were you.”
“Don’t worry,” muttered Hermione just as Ginny asked her brother, “So why are we here?”
“It’s like I said,” said George, his expression now serious. “I’m tired of mourning. I went to his grave on his birthday like I always do, and realized I had nothing to say that was any different than what I told him last year. It was pathetic. I’m pathetic. I was almost surprised he hadn’t come back just to smack me in the head for being such a downer. That’s not how we conduct business or life, you know.”
George’s voice had gotten grave but Harry noticed that for the first time since Fred died, George was talking about the two of them in plural. He was looking at them with more life than Harry had seen in ages. He stowed his wand in his pocket and leaned forward.
“So how can we help, mate?”
George smiled. “I’m going to throw Fred a Deathday party. And you are all going to help me.”
Later, Harry always thought that Fred would have been more than pleased with the way his twin commemorated May second that year. It was a Deathday party to remember, the first of many.
Although no one was quite sure what a Deathday party should be — Harry, Ron and Hermione could only suggest that they not serve maggoty haggis — it didn’t really matter. It was enough that everyone had something to think about other than the usual, at this time of year.
Somehow, thinking about Fred didn’t hurt as much when it was in regards to whether he would have preferred background music from the Screaming Hags or the Headless Goblins at the party, and George actually fell down from laughing so hard when Angelina (who’d volunteered to help) described in great detail how Fred had had to abort their first kiss during the Yule Ball because George had slipped a Ton-Tongue Toffee into his punch.
Any concerns Harry might have had that the good feelings would not survive the entire month were put to rest when Ginny suggested — rather hesitantly at first — that they hold a séance as the main attraction at the party. George’s eyes had lit up with glee at the idea and after Hermione lent him an enormous book titled “Beyond the Veil — Fact and Fiction”, they hadn’t seen him for three days.
Harry supposed that there were the same newspaper stories and interviews and speeches that month as in other years, but they seemed to fade into the background during late night discussions about whether to use real night fairies to provide light or if Glo-Orbs from the Wheezes stock would do. It had been a long time since the laughter in the Burrow’s kitchen felt so natural and when Harry took Ginny’s hand and slipped with her out to the garden he didn’t worry whether it was appropriate to be kissing her in sight of Fred’s grave.
The party was a rousing success, even if the séance was not. No one had believed — not really — that they would actually contact Fred’s spirit, but no one had noticed George sneak out of the room, either. When Fred appeared, floating oddly in the air above the table, the moment of shocked silence was quickly replaced by screams of laughter and then toasts of butterbeer and Firewhisky to his memory. George was the center of it all, smiling and talking and later, sneaking off with Angelina. Harry considered throwing a toffee at his back, but really, he didn’t want to break the mood.
Harry didn’t think he’d ever call April his favourite month, but planning and looking forward to Fred’s Deathday party made those thirty days not only bearable, but even enjoyable, at times. And May second saw the start of two new traditions. The party of course was one. The other was when Harry took Ginny home and made love to her - with the lights on.