Beans for Breakfast (Part 1 of 2)
‘Mornin’, George. The usual?’
‘Yes, please. Thank you.’
George Weasley paid for his copy of The Daily Prophet – much improved after the dark days of the war – and his box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans and bade the shop-keep a good morning.
This he did every day.
It had become somewhat of a ritual within Diagon Alley. Business owners and regulars to the Alley had come to expect George Weasley to stop off at the wizarding newsagents’ on his way to Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes every morning without fail.
Regular as clockwork.
* * *
‘Mornin’, George,’ said the newsagent, as he always did. ‘I must say, you certainly like those Bertie Bott’s Beans, don’t you?’
George looked up from his change and smiled.
‘They do the job.’
‘Well, have a good day,’ said the newsagent, genially.
George exited the newsagents’ and nodded to the lady who owned Potage’s Cauldron Shop. It seemed a lifetime ago when he and Fred…
It had been just over a year since the Battle for Hogwarts, and Fred’s death (among others) defending the school, and it still hurt. George grimaced as he walked. Of course it still hurt. To lose a family member was one thing, but a brother, and a twin brother at that. George didn’t like to have a fuss made, but it was a special kind of pain to lose basically the mirror image of oneself.
But he had a job to do. A business to run.
Things needed tending to.
Shaking himself free of the black feelings that threatened to consume him, George continued on his way to the joke shop. He knew that if he let the darkness in he would never be able to get rid of it. That’s not what Fred would have wanted.
Not in the least.
Pull yourself together, Georgie boy, he’d say.
Walking along the Alley, George stopped to look at a poster that had been pasted to one of the walls. He’d seen many like it before, and probably would again. It was a Ministry wanted poster showing the Death Eaters still at large in the wizarding world. George ran his eye over it, recognising more faces than he cared to admit. He knew that the Ministry – now too, like The Daily Prophet, free of Voldemort and his supporters’ influence - would not rest until every arrest possible had been made. That gave George some comfort.
George arrived at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, hovered his wand near the lock and took a steadying breath. Back when it was him and Fred running things it was easy to deal in the joke trade. Being jovial for a living was easy when you had the perfect comedy partner.
It was a matter of pride that George continued to run the joke shop as best he could. He felt it would be an insult to Fred’s memory, and the Weasley name in general, if he let his personal feelings send the business under. So, he ran it single-handedly, graciously declining all offers of help from his family. Even Molly Weasley, matriarch of the Weasley clan, could see that this was something that George needed to do.
George opened the door and locked it again behind him once he was inside. It was still a few minutes until opening time, and he had to tend to some things in the back before he let the day’s business begin. Anyone waking past Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes at this time of a morning might hear, if they knew what they were listening for, the sound of a heavy door open and close somewhere within the building.
* * *
‘Have a good day, George,’ said the newsagent.
Just like before.
Regular as clockwork.
George was approaching the door to the joke shop when he saw something that stopped him dead in his tracks.
Movement. Someone was in the shop.
George drew his wand and readied himself. He moved cautiously up towards the shop frontage, his mind racing. He had been so careful, so precise. How could this have happened?
Bypassing the front door entirely, George slipped around the side of the building and stopped after several feet. He looked about him to see if anyone was watching – they were not – and he crouched down. Tapping one of the many bricks that made up the wall, a small tunnel appeared in the wall, allowing George access to the building. Learning from their time at Hogwarts, Fred and George had fitted the joke shop with any number of secret passages, entrances and exits. George could rattle off at least a dozen ways into the building that did not include using the front or back door.
Now within the shop, George allowed his eyes to grow accustomed to the gloom. He was in the back portion of the building, but he could hear scuffling and rummaging coming from the front. Standing up, but remaining ducked and tense, he made his way to the door that separated the shop itself from the back rooms.
Okay, whoever you are, time to realise what a mistake you have just made.
George stopped by the door, and reached out to take hold of the handle. His lips were set in a thin line, ready for whatever lay on the other side of the door.
And then he smelled it: that unmistakable odour of cheap aftershave and even cheaper tobacco. George frowned and let out a slow, furious exhale through his nose. He took hold of the doorknob, gripped it tightly and flung the door open.
A figure within the shop jolted as their wand was forced from their hand. There was a clatter as a leather bag fell to the floor, spilling various ill-gotten gains.
‘Dung!’ George strode across the shop floor to where the small, rodent-like frame of Mundungus Fletcher cowered in his gaudy jacket and shirt. His shifty little eyes did their best to look imploringly at George as he bore down on him.
‘George,’ he simpered. ‘I didn’t know you was home.’
‘I wasn’t,’ said George, grabbing the smaller man by the collar with one hand while he aimed his wand at him with the other. ‘What in the name of Merlin are you doing in my shop? My closed shop?’ Mundungus squirmed under George’s grip.
‘Just having a look around, is all.’
‘Dragon-shit!’ spat George. ‘You were turning the place over, weren’t you? Weren’t you?’ George was shouting. Mundungus cringed.
‘Don’t! Please!’ Mundungus’ pleading was interrupted by a muffled sound coming from the other side of the shop. It sounded like moaning. Both men stopped to listen to it. Mundungus used this interruption to shake himself free of George’s grip. George looked at Mundungus and then quickly back to where the noise had come from. His face looked panicked.
‘Got a bit of a ghost problem, have you?’ said Mundungus, eager to move the conversation off of him breaking into the shop.
‘Get out,’ said George.
‘Because I just might know a chap…’
‘Get out!’ George bellowed so loud that he surprised himself. He stood in the middle of his shop, breathing heavily and clutching his and Mundungus’ wands. Dung edged warily towards his wand, clutched in George’s hand. He snatched it free, scooped up his bag and Disapparated.
That was close.
George sat down in the chair by the counter and collected his thoughts. He had never been that hot on silencing charms. Fred was always so much better at that kind of thing. He had a mad little thought of asking Hermione Granger for help, but he could only imagine what she would say, and who she would tell.
No, he just had to be more careful.
George went into the back rooms and made himself a cup of tea. He had placed his copy of The Daily Prophet and his box of Bertie Bott’s Beans on the table when he came in. He drank his tea and picked up the beans. He would have to remember to renew that silencing charm more often.
* * *