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Escaping the Acheron by kenpo
Chapter 3 : The Shopkeeper
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 7


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“Oy, get up. You’re going to be late. Your boss hates that!”

George threw a pillow at Ron’s face, who woke up with a start.

“Err... George, you git. You’re my boss,” he groaned.

“Yup,” Lee said, poking his head into the room, “and he hates when you’re late.”

Mumbling curses, Ron got up and threw himself in the shower. He heard the pop from the kitchen telling him that George and Lee had left. Ron stretched his back and yawned, turning on the shower. Wincing at the cold water, he bathed as quickly as he could. He wrapped a towel around himself before stepping out of the shower and wiped the mist off the broken mirror.

His appearance was probably never going to change much; he was still pale and covered with freckles. He quickly brushed his teeth and shook some of the water out of his hair. He crossed the hall and entered his closet of a room, which still felt incomplete without the Cannon Orange bedspread despite the fact that he’d been living there for over a month.

He yanked a blue t-shirt over his head and slid on a pair of jeans before stuffing his into his back pocket and going into the main room to make himself a piece of toast.

The toast still in his hand, he apparated to Diagon Alley. He looked up; the dark clouds were threatening to burst with rain. The weather had been horrible all summer. Ron was wishing he’d brought his jacket when he glanced down at his watch.

Shit, he thought, it’s half nine. He jogged to the entrance of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. When he entered, he was relieved to see that it wasn’t very busy. The previous week had been a nightmare, with all the Hogwarts students preparing for back to school. They’d almost run out of Canery Creams. They’d been sold out of Fever Fudge for days, much to the disappointment of young witches and wizards (much to the pleasure of those student’s mothers). Ron went to tidy a display of fireworks where number of Exploding Whizz Poppers had fallen to the ground.

As he repositioned the Peace Disturbers, an older wizard approached him.

“Excuse me, sir, do you work here?”

Ron stood and shook the man’s hand. “Yeah, nice to meet you. I’m Ron Weasley.”

The wizard looked delighted. People generally assumed that Ron was one of the founders and masterminds. He generally didn’t feel the need to correct them.

“Joel Lawson. Here’s the thing,” the wizard started, “my youngest son just started at Hogwarts, and… see, my wife is a bit strict… she doesn’t know I’m here. Lord, she doesn’t know. Anyways, I was wondering if you’d be able to help me choose some stuff to send him.”

“Oh, yeah. Sure, no problem.” Ron was happy to help so he could stop organizing.

Ron led him to a display case of trick wands. “Students always love these. They’re great for playing tricks on friends. Here,” Ron said, motioning to one of the wands, “try it.”

The wizard, Joel, picked up the wand and with a loud crack, it turned into an inflated hammer.

He laughed, saying, “That’s brilliant! He’ll love this! My older son was a first year when you and your brother made your grand exit. He talked about it for months! Still does sometimes!”

“Oh, sir, I’m not those Weasleys. You’re thinking of Fred and George. They were two years ahead of me. I’m Ron.”

He looked embarrassed. “Oh, my apologies. How are they? I’d love to tell my son I met them!”

Ron looked around awkwardly. “George should be here somewhere, but Fred passed in May.”

The wizard’s face fell with realization. ‘Passed in May’ meant one thing and one thing only. “I’m so sorry, I should’ve known.”

“Don’t think about it. How about I show you some of our other popular merchandise?”

Just then, probably having sensed the potential disaster, George appeared. “Hey, Ron, you scaring a customer away?” The poor wizard looked like he might die of awkwardness.

“Oh… you must be George. I’m sorry to hear about your brother. My son is a huge fan of yours.”

George shook off the mention of his loss. “He’s a fan of me?” He put his arm around Ron’s shoulders. “You should be here to see Ron! Harry Potter wouldn’t’ve been able to defeat You-Know-Who without him, you know!”

Joel’s eyes grew wider. “You’re THAT Ron? Lord, why didn’t you tell me?”

Ron smiled, his face getting red. “So, sir, what else can I show you?”

George winked at him before walking away. Ron helped Joel, who seemed exhilarated by disobeying his wife (Ron suspected she was a Molly Weasley type). He advised him on the packaging (“make sure you put some other stuff in there… make it look like a normal package… technically all of this is banned at Hogwarts.”) Joel left the shop with his arms full of merchandise and Ron felt very pleased with the sale.

Lee came by, saying, “Nice one. Don’t think you’ve ever sold that much in a day before - and it isn’t even noon!”

“Ah, shut it,” Ron growled, gently shoving Lee. “What have you sold today?”

He smirked. “Haven’t sold anything, but I’m going to get drinks with that witch after work.” He gestured to a witch standing outside the shop, standing near the door, outside of the rain.

“Oh, is that what you’re paid to do?” Ron joked. “Where is George? I’ve only seen him once all morning.”

“I think he’s back in the workshop,” Lee answered.

Ron frowned, and looked to the door at the back of the shop, where George and Fred had come up with many of their most famous ideas after their departure from Hogwarts. Ron walked into the room, and gently shut the door behind him.

His brother sat on a stool and was leaning against a large, wooden work table. Ron walked towards the other stool, but before he could sit down, George said, “That’s not your seat.”

Ron nodded, and perched himself on the table itself.

“I can’t think of anything,” George said. “I’m going to lose the business.”

Ron shook his head. “What? Have you gone mad? The shop is doing great, last week we had complaints from those blokes at Quality Quidditch Supplies because the crowd outside our door was so big nobody could get into their shop!”

George looked up at him. “How long will that last? People get bored fast. We need to keep innovating and improving. Fred usually came up with the basic ideas. I’d flesh them out and we’d figure out how to make them work. I can’t make something out of nothing.”

“Yes you can, George. Just give it time. Let Lee and I help. We’re not as useless and you think.”

George was suddenly infuriated by Ron’s words. He stood up and growled, “You will never be as good as Fred. You will never replace him.”

Ron rose to meet his brother. “Do you realize that you’re not the only person that lost him? Fred was my brother. I lost my brother, too.”

“You know that it isn’t the same. I’ve never been George before. I was Fredandgeorge for twenty years. I don’t know who George is.”

Ron took a deep breath and settled back down onto the table top. George followed him and took his place on the stool.

“Ron,” he said, “I don’t know how to make a joke. My business is my humor.”

“Hermione has been having trouble with Transfiguration. I told her she should go to St. Mungos, but she says that she just needs to give it time. She says that she needs to heal.”

George nodded, but didn’t seem entirely convinced. “I suppose you’re right.”

Ron chuckled, “I’m not right. She’s right. Did I tell you that we’re going to the Burrow for dinner tonight?”

“No.”

“Oh. We’re going to the Burrow for dinner tonight.”

George huffed, “Thanks for telling me.”

“I just did!” Ron sneered, “I’m going back into the store. Will you be okay back here?”

“Yeah,” George replied, “go do what I hired you for.”

The afternoon wasn’t nearly as eventful as the morning. After counting the money in the till, Ron turned off all the lights and locked the door. He followed Lee and George to the flat, where they quickly changed for dinner. Ron hurried to his room, hoping his owl would be back. Shrugging off his disappointment, he changed and met the other two men in the main room.

**

The smell of their mother’s cooking greeted the trio as they entered the Burrow. Molly came running to greet her sons.

“Ron! George!” She hugged them both tightly. “And, Lee, it’s always lovely to see you.” She gave him a very motherly hug. Ron glanced at the family clock. Since May, both George and Fred’s hands had been on “Lost”. Bill and Percy were traveling, Charlie at work, Ginny at school, and the rest at home.

“Are Bill and Percy coming, then?” he asked.

Molly beamed. “Yes, and Andromeda is bringing little Teddy!” Something fizzled in the kitchen, and, after cursing, she ran in to calm whatever it was.

Just then, Bill and Fleur came through the door, closely followed by Percy. A few minutes later, Andromeda entered, Teddy on her hip. Fleur immediately went to them and cooed over the infant, his hair a bright blue.

Ron, Lee, and George went to sit in the lounge with Arthur while the rest of the guests exchanged greetings. The house was much more tidy than usual. It felt more than settled, but empty. His entire childhood, his mother had spent a large portion of her day picking up after her seven children. Now, with all her sons moved out and her daughter away at school, there was nobody to make messes.

“Hello, boys,” Arthur said, looking up from his paper.

“What are you reading?” Lee asked.

Arthur looked pleased that he was given the chance to answer the question. “It’s a Muggle newspaper. You’d be surprised, they have almost as much news as we do.”

Lee laughed. “I know, Arthur. My Nan and Granddad are Muggles.”

“Really?” Arthur seemed fascinated by Lee’s family history. “George, why didn’t you ever tell me that Lee has so much Muggle family?”

George, however didn’t answer. He was staring distantly across the room.

“George?” Arthur questioned again, concerned.

“Damn. Sorry, Dad,” Ron said as he rose, realizing what was wrong. He crossed the room to a wall that had been previously cluttered with the coats of all the Weasleys. He brandished his wand and a curtain fell over the mirror that he hadn’t seen in years.

“Ron?” Arthur asked. “What was that?”

Ron shuffled awkwardly. His parents did not know about this particular quirk.

“George can’t be around mirrors,” Ron replied quietly. Just then, George crossed the room and removed the curtain. He turned his head so that his absent ear could not be noticed in the reflection.

Ron calmly moved towards him, saying, “George, come on. You know this is bad for you.” He grabbed his older brother’s shoulders, but George resisted movement.

Arthur got up from his chair and stood beside his sons. Lee, sensing a family moment, removed himself to the hallway, where the rest of the guests were still engaging in light conversation while Molly worked in the kitchen.

George started to look distressed, and Ron attempted to close the curtain. “George, come on. Just walk away.”

Arthur looked very uncomfortable with his new knowledge of George’s condition. “George? What’s wrong?”

Very suddenly, George’s fist swung up and met the mirror. As his fist split open, his trance broke and he frantically tried to repair the cracked mirror. His father grabbed him by the arm and sat him down on the same couch he’d laid when he was last injured. Ron quickly repaired the mirror and sat down on the coffee table.

Arthur was attempting to heal his son’s wounds, but his magic in that area was not nearly as strong as that of his wife.

“Dad, let me do it,” Ron said. With one wave of his wand, the wounds shrunk and closed. The blood dripping off his hand disappeared. “You alright?” he asked his brother.

George nodded. “I’m fine. Did I hear Bill come in? I’ll go see him.” He left the couch and joined his family in the hall.

“Where’d you learn Healing Spells like that?” Arthur asked.

“Last year, when we were going around the country. We had to use them quite a bit.”

Arthur frowned, sensing his youngest son’s lie. “Wouldn’t Hermione have taken care of that?”

Ron sighed and admitted, “Hermione taught me before she left so I could take care of this.”

Molly called from the kitchen for everyone to sit down for dinner.

“Don’t tell your mother,” Arthur said before joining the rest of his family.

In the kitchen, Fleur offered to help bring the food to the table, an offer that Molly begrudgingly accepted.

“Mum, this looks amazing!” Percy said, “I haven’t been eating well, with all the work for Kingsley at the Ministry.”

“It really does look ameezing, Molly. You’ll ‘ave to give me zee recipes,” Fleur added. Molly smiled at her, but gave no indication of any plans to share.

“How are Ginny and Hermione doing?” Andromeda asked, sensing the tension.

“Ginny wrote and said that Minerva is handling the transition very well. She did mention that the castle hasn’t been nearly as well prepared as they thought it’d be,” Molly answered.

“Oh, dear,” she sighed. “I hope its back to all its glory by the time little Teddy is ready to attend.”

Ron smiled as the baby, hearing his name, turned his hair green.

As everyone was finishing up dinner, Percy got up and went into the kitchen. He returned with glasses and a bottle of Firewhisky. “Anyone?”

Molly rolled her eyes, but didn’t object. Andromeda said, “No, thanks, I don’t keep my head very well when I drink Firewhisky! Do you have any Butterbeer?”

“I think we do. I’ll be right back,” Molly got up and went into the kitchen.

“I’ll just be having butterbeer az well, thanks,” Fleur said.

“Awww, come on Fleur. Have some fun!” George coaxed.

Fleur smiled, and glanced at Bill, who nodded. She grabbed his hand, and announced, “I’m pregnant.”

Cheers erupted, but none as loud as Molly’s.

The sound of glass shattering indicated that she’d dropped the bottles she’d been carrying. She pushed George out of the way and lunged at Fleur, hugging her tightly.

“A baby! A baby! I’m going to be a Nana! I’m going to get a grandbaby!”

Fleur looked terrified at the suddenly high level of physical contact between her and her mother-in-law.

“Mum, mum, let her go,” Bill laughed.

“Oh, I’m sorry, dear.” Molly released Fleur and wiped her eye. “It’s just so wonderful! A baby!”

Molly flashed her wand at the clock, and there appeared an additional hand – one for Fleur.

Fleur stood. “Oh, Molly, I can’t believe this! Ca fair mon affaire! Merci!”

The stood, hugging and crying. George filled drinks and passed them around.

“To Bill and Fleur!” he toasted. Ron leaned over to congratulate his oldest brother. Arthur beamed with pride over the announcement and sipped his Firewhiskey.

Ron moved to sit next to Andromeda. He picked up Teddy and placed him on his lap.

“How have you been?” Ron asked.

She sighed. “It’s hard, taking care of Teddy by myself. I’m not a young woman anymore. I get lonely. It’d be nice if Harry could visit. I hope he does more when Teddy gets older.”

Ron shook his head in disbelief. “Harry hasn’t been visiting? When was the last time he was over?”

“I don’t know, a month and a half now.”

“Has he written? Or sent anything?” Ron could feel his face turning red. He was raising his voice, and the other members of the family started to watch him.

“No,” Andromeda said, “I haven’t heard from him.”

Ron was furious. “Teddy is his godson. Family is the most important thing to Harry. I can’t believe he’d abandon him.”

Andromeda seemed taken aback by Ron’s reaction. “I’m sure he’s just busy.”

Ron cut her off, “Yeah, he is. Busy being the biggest git on the planet. He’ll be round to visit later this week, I can promise that.” Ron rose from his seat and went to Molly. “Mum, I’ve got something I need to do. Dinner was fantastic.” He kissed her cheek. “Fleur, Bill, I’m so happy for you. George, I’ll see you back at the flat later.”

He left, knowing exactly where he’d find Harry.
 

 

 


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