Scars To Move Laughter
"A secret?" cried Ginny. "And you knew this secret, didn't you, Ron? Why is he closing the shop?"
"Honestly, he wouldn't tell me. I just caught him one night carrying boxes of Canary Crèmes and he told me. But he made me swear not to tell any of you."
"Did he make you take the Unbreakable Vow?" accused Ginny. "Were you going to die if you hadn't have told us?" Ginny started to sound like an echo of her mother.
Ron looked red in the face and he replied weakly, "Well...no. He was probably afraid you would react exactly as you are now."
Hermione gave Ron a questioning glare. "And George gave no indication of why he's closing the joke shop?"
"He just said it was a business decision."
"I'm thinking there is more of a reason than just that."
"Why do you say that?" asked Ron innocently.
"If it was a mere business decision, why keep it a secret from us?"
Ron shrugged. "He didn't say."
Ginny spat, "And you didn't ask! We could help him, Ron, whatever the reason."
"I didn't think it was my business to get involved." He looked to Harry for validation. "Tell 'em, mate."
Harry felt nothing but anger and disappointment after hearing the news from Draco that George was closing Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. A business that Harry himself help finance in the first place. Why had George not told him? Furthermore, why hadn't his best friend told him when he found out? Did Ron not trust him enough? Harry knew Ron was headstrong, yet avoided conflict at any cost. Some of their greatest spats had been caused from that very reason. He couldn't excuse Ron's behavior, but he could understand it. Harry could not understand how George could end something that he and Fred had dreamed of doing all their lives. Because of that he couldn't agree with his friend.
"I'm sorry, Ron. It's not right. There's no reason why George has to close the shop."
"Maybe he has a good reason," Ron countered.
Ginny replied, "We know the reason."
"You don't know that," cried Ron.
Harry spoke up. "Do you know if George is at the shop now?"
"Why? You planning a visit?"
"Perhaps. Someone needs to knock some sense into the bloke."
Ginny noted, "He has been leaving early from the Burrows every day this week. I figured he was just tending to the shop."
Hermione said, "More like packing up everything."
"Then he should be there still this very moment. I say we go and stop him from doing something terribly stupid that he'll regret later."
"You think you can change his mind, Harry Potter?" cried Ron. "You know how stubborn he is once his mind is made up."
Harry shot back, "Yeah, he has a younger brother who is equally as stubborn."
"Is that so? Well, I have a best friend who thinks he has to always be the hero. Tired of going after Dark Lords, Harry Potter? Now you have to save my brother from his own decision?"
Harry set his mug down on the low rock wall hastily and lunged at Ron. "That's not fair, you git!"
Hermione stepped in between them. "Boys! Stop this! Incidentally, Ron, I agree with Harry. Not only will George regret this later, but you will as well knowing you could have stopped him."
"Oh, this is bloody brilliant. You know he's going to be mad finding us there."
Harry cried out, "I don't care, Ron. He shouldn't be doing this."
Ron asked, "Why do you care? It's none of your business."
"Actually, it is."
Ginny cut in to reply, "Because if George closes the joke shop, it will undermine everything we've done so he could keep the shop."
A silence fell over them as it was spelled out to Ron. Finally, Harry asked, "Who's with me?"
The two girls moved closer to Harry and Ron stood alone. Ron gave a surrendering smirk and said, "All right, mate. Let's go."
Harry asked Hermione, "I'm guessing we can apparate within Hogwarts now."
"Oh, yes. They haven't even begun the security measures yet."
"All right," said Harry, "Join hands and concentrate on the joke shop. #93 Diagon Alley. Ready?"
Immediately, the affects of apparating took over.
Harry never could like the feeling of being pulled into dimensional time by a mystical hook to teleport to another place instantly. Over the past year of apparating for the purpose of hiding, Harry got used to it. In an instant they were taken from the cold late afternoon air surrounding the remains of Hogwarts and into the warmth of the insides to a large room. There wasn't much light, but the small amount that there was came from a nearby window where a street lamp shone through. It gave off a yellowish glow to the insides of the room. Harry looked around and recognized the layout, including the staircase in the center. They arrived at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.
Immediately, they were shocked to see in the dim light the empty shelves where love potions and Extendable Ears once were sold. It was also quiet inside. It was quiet enough to hear various voices coming from outside the empty shop. Ron neared the window and looked out.
"There's actual people in Diagon Alley," he announced happily. The last time they were there, the alley was nearly deserted.
"Everyone is starting to come back," Hermione said sweetly.
"And George is the one leaving," said Ginny indignantly.
Harry walked in the opposite direction into another section of the room. He lifted his new wand out and cast, Lumos. The tip of the wand emitted a bright white light. Once he saw what was in the room, he called out, "Guys, come here and see this."
They all came to Harry's side and saw several boxes of various sizes stacked neatly end to end. They all had writing on each describing what was in the respective boxes. Basic Blaze Box, Fever Fudges, Instant Darkness Powder, and love potions.
Ron looked over the boxes and remarked, "Boy, he really packed everything."
Ginny reflected. "This is too sad. I thought they were developing new business after last year."
"They were," said Hermione absently.
Ron repeated in a low tone, "Yeah...they."
There was a sudden sound of an outside door opening and closing and in walked George Weasley. He was carrying a small box into the second room and froze when he saw Harry and the others. "What in blazes are you lot doing here?"
Harry replied sternly, "We were about to ask you the same question."
"Exactly what it looks like. Not that it's any of your business."
"It is when you consider I had a hand in helping you start this business. Remember the thousand galleons I gave you after I won the Triwizard Tournament? Or have you forgotten?"
"No, I haven't," said George just before he shot a look at Ron. "You couldn't keep your mouth shut, could you brother? I asked you one simple thing–"
"It wasn't me, you half-wit. Draco told them."
"Oh, that figures."
Harry added, "He actually thought we knew. He gave his condolences for your closing. He sounded sincere."
"Since when does Draco Malfoy sound sincere?"
Hermione answered, "Since he found out that his father's going to Azkaban."
George scoffed. "Whatever. So you know now. It's over. Done deal. Nothing can be done about it now."
Harry cried, "It can't be. You don't have to close the shop."
"I can't do it anymore. I can't keep up. The distributors we–I reached have backed out."
Hermione stepped in to explain. "You have to remember something, George. Those distributors were afraid of opening a new business at the height of Voldemort's control. Or they were Voldemort supporters to begin with."
Ginny added, "Yes, it's not like that now. People are less afraid. Shops are opening back up. Haven't you noticed?"
"Oh yes, I have. Ollivanders is even opening back up next week."
"Then why are you closing up?" asked Ginny.
"Fact is, this place was losing money. Our only business came from students either at the beginning or the end of the school year. There was no overhead after that. It wasn't enough."
"Rubbish!" cried Harry. "There is another reason you're not telling us. We can't let you close down this shop."
"Why? Because the great Harry Potter says I can't?"
Ginny cut in. "He's not the only one."
Then Hermione. "Nor is your sister."
George looked at Ron. "What about you, Ron? Care to join your gang against your brother?"
"They–we are not against you, brother. We just think you won't admit the other reason you're closing the shop."
"There is no other reason." George finally sat the small box he had been carrying the whole time on top of a larger one. "Now, if you don't mind I have things to do."
"Have you already sold the place?" asked Harry.
"It's in process. The future new owner will be here in the morning."
"Then cancel it," cried Harry. "We can help you with whatever you need to stay afloat."
"It's too late."
Harry suddenly came at George and grabbed him by the collar of his open robe. It was no small feat for Harry because George towered over Harry. The Potter determination took over. Harry shouted, "Listen to me, you half-wit, it's not too late. You have family and friends to help you now. I'm not going to let–" There was a sudden crash heard as the new box that George put down was knocked down when Harry pushed George back. There was a sound of tinkling glass broken from the inside and almost instantly a light blue mist started seeping out of the box.
Harry looked down at the mist and asked carefully, "What was in that box?"
George answered calmly, "Vials of Snicker Mist. It's a new invention that makes anyone laugh uncontrollably."
"What?" gasped Hermione. "Laughing gas?"
George explained, "Not a gas, per se. More like a spray."
"Right," Hermione continued. "Nitrous oxide. It's what my dentist parents use for anesthetic."
George asked to no one in particular, "What is she talking about? Is she speaking Muggese, again?"
"Never mind that," said Harry, "when does it...heeheehahahhah...take effect?"
George started to chuckle, "Heh heh, pretty much...heeheehaha...now."
Ron tried to get out, "That stuff...heeheehahaha...is bloody brilliant!"
Soon, they were all laughing with no sense of control or means to stop. Hermione had to hold her sides because she was laughing so hard.
Harry was also in hysterics yet still tried to talk to George. "Now, George...heeheehaha...let's try again. Why are you...heehahahaha...closing the joke shop?"
"I guess I figured...heheheheeehaha...what's the point?"
"The point?" Harry shouted? "I'll tell you...the point. We can get a... heeheehaha...Time Turner...and we go back in time. heheheheeehaha...back before the battle...and I can let Voldemort kill me.. heeheehaha...and he can have control of the magical world...heheheheeehaha...Then you can see... heheheheeehaha...the point...of what we did... heeheehaha...to save your family...from horrible torment... heeheehaha..."
Hermione tried to state in between laughs, "Harry... heeheehaha...a Time Turner can only go back... heeheehaha...hours at a time."
Ginny was bent over and using the railing of the staircase for support. She uttered, "Leave it to... heeheehaha...Hermione...to correct your facts... heeheehaha...at a time like this."
George was on the floor from laughing so hard but he still managed to get out, "It has nothing to do... heeheehaha...with that, Harry."
"Then what is it?"
"I just... heeheehaha...can't do this, anymore."
George couldn't answer. He was in the middle of a long hearty laugh that created tears in his eyes. He only could repeat, "I just can't... heeheehaha..I can't..."
Ron crawled to Hermione to ask her, "Is there... heeheehaha...something to stop this?"
Hermione tried to reach in her coat and got her wand. She aimed it the best way she could while still laughing and cast, "Solvos!" Instantly, the light blue mist coming from the box started to suck up into her wand like a vacuum. Once it all disappeared, Hermione cast, "Reparo!", at the box and the opening where the mist escaped was magically sealed.
It took them time to calm themselves and breathe normally after the long stretch of laughter against their will. Yet, George was still repeating, "I can't do it. I can't do it."
Once again, Harry asked in a normal voice this time, "What can't you do, George?"
"I can't do it...without him. I can't do this without Fred. I can't." The tears from his eyes were no longer from the laughter. They were from a pain that they all were familiar with. The pain that derived from the absence of a loved one. The pain of the hole left in their souls. And though Fred had been dear to them all, they had to admit that the largest portion of the hole belonged to George. He would forever see Fred every time he stood before a mirror. Harry wanted to console him, having his own holes from people he lost over the years. But he had only healed himself of that pain and he had help from the Resurrection Stone to do that. How does one console another's pain of losing someone close? For that, Harry Potter had no answer for.
But someone did.
Ginny came over to George and sat down before him. She took his hand. "We know, George. We can scarcely live without him either. But can't you see, George? If you close this shop, you will have destroyed everything that Fred's spirit meant to us. To you."
Hermione came over and sat down next to Ginny to say, "And think of this: all of the work and all of the loss we experienced in defeating Voldemort will have gone for naught if you close this shop. Voldemort will have won again even in death. People need and want to laugh again, George. And you can supply that for them."
Ron uttered, "Though not in the great amount we just had."
Hermione grinned and said, "Yeah, you might reconsider the Snicker Mist."
George muttered, "Maybe I can dilute the concentration a bit." It looked as though the girls were getting through to him as he started to pick himself up from the floor. "But...how...how can I..."
Ginny answered, "You have to be strong, George. I know that's easier said than done. But you don't have to be alone in this. Don't keep us in the dark. We can help you."
George looked confused when he asked, "Help with the shop...or coping...without Fred?"
"With anything," Ginny stated. She put her arms around George in a tight hug. Then Hermione joined in.
Ron and Harry stood dumbfounded as to what they should do. George lifted his head to say to Ron, "Too manly for a brotherly hug?"
"Well..it looks like you've got your hands full now."
"You owe me a handshake then. Guess you'll be helping too."
"On one condition," Ron said.
"All Weasley's, Potter's, and Granger's get a family friend discount."
"And you wonder why we couldn't make money. Done, then."
The girls parted from George and went to their respective beaus. As Ginny approached Harry, he could only think of how the female sex was the stronger of the two. He gazed at Ginny with a mix of admiration and wonderment. He didn't know the feeling he felt as he watched her. He knew he loved his best friends and his beloved family members, adopted and non-living. But this felt like...nothing he could describe with words.
Ginny took notice of his glare at her. "What? Why are you looking at me like that?"
"Like what?" Harry said innocently.
"I don't know."
"Actually, I don't either. I'm not positive, but I think I just witnessed something about you that made me love you even more."
In answer to this, Ginny literally jumped into Harry's arms and they started kissing.
As the two couples were locked together, George stood before the stacked boxes and said, bewildered, "Now I have to unpack everything."
Ron blurted, "We'll help you out in the morning."
Hermione gaped at him. "You doing work in the morning?"
"Hey, it's for my brother."
Hermione smiled and went back to kissing Ron.
Harry thought of something and he parted from Ginny's lips to ask George, "What about this bloke coming in the morning? He didn't sign anything yet?"
"No. I'll break it to him before he gets here. I think he wanted to open up a new bar."
Harry said sternly, "Well, if he gives you any flack just send him my way and I'll deal with him."
George chuckled. "That just might work. 'This is my financial partner, Harry Potter. You know, the one who killed Voldemort. You don't want to cross him.'"
A certain expression came across Hermione's face as she let go of Ron. Her sudden look prompted Ron to announce, "Oh, oh. Hermione's got an idea."
Instead of acknowledging Ron, she asked, "George, why don't you expand your product line?"
"Apparel, for instance."
"T-shirts? I don't know. Don't want to be another souvenir shop."
"It doesn't have to be. They would be funny. There's loads of them on the Internet. In fact, I just thought of a design that would definitely sell."
She released herself from Ron to go over to George. She held out her wand in front of George's plain white shirt underneath his robe. She started waving it as if it were a paintbrush. An image formed on the shirt that resembled a rough rendering of Harry Potter wielding his wand. She wrote a script to the side of the image: Don't Mess With Harry Potter!
They all smiled in agreement.
George said, "Yeah, those will sell nicely."
But Harry looked on and uttered, "Great. Another reputation I'll have to live up to."
"Harry," said Ginny, "you already have lived up to it."