AN: Thank you all for the support! It is deeply appreciated!
George tapped his finger against the counter and glanced at the aisles once more. Not a single customer as far as the eye could see. He wiped a speck of dust from the top of the register and sighed
An average of fifteen customers a day is not enough to keep the store afloat. Most good businessmen would have long since moved onto a new venture. Still, how can I allow the last vestige of Fred's memory to die?
He raised his head to the sky and muttered, "Wherever you are Fred, I could really use your help. At the very least, please make this place a little less boring."
George's eyes glistened. "Hello! What can I do for you?"
The second the last word left his mouth, George shuddered. His stomach knotted as the room spun around him.
Why would Severus Snape be in my store?
"I do not need anything," the figure answered. "At least, I do not believe I do."
George's chest froze. What could she be doing here?
The black clad figure approached him. "I need to speak with you about the Weasleys."
"I am more than happy to speak with you, Rose," George replied.
"Yes, my door is always open for you."
She stared at him as if he had just announced that he was a centaur.
"I did not believe that the revelation of my biological family was enough for you to begin caring about me," Rose began.
"I care about all my nieces," George replied.
Rose stopped in front of the counter. "The potential that I was your niece meant nothing when I was an infant. You were horrendous to both of my parents. My grandparents' opinion of you is not high either."
George bowed his head.
"That being said," Rose admitted. "I would not be so uncouth as to barge into one's place of business for the sole purpose of berating him."
He shifted in place.
"I came because," she put her hands on the counter. "Of all my uncles, Mum seems to have the nicest things to say about you."
He made eye contact with her. "What exactly does she say about me?"
Rose answered, "She said you used to make her laugh. That's more than she will say about anyone else with the last name of 'Weasley.'"
He grinned. "We did have some great times together."
"She also said you wrecked my grandparents' house on at least two occasions."
"I suppose it was wrong of me to test out my products on a muggle house."
"It was wrong of you to test your products out on anyone's house, save your own."
Rose pinched the bridge of her nose. "I am not coming off well."
"No, I deserve your criticism," George admitted. "I've behaved horribly towards you and your family these last few years, and I'm sorry."
Rose did not contradict him.
"Still, if there is anything I can do for you now, please let me know," he continued.
"I honestly do not know what you could do for me."
"Maybe I cannot do anything now, but if you need anything in the future I'll be right there."
"I appreciate that," Rose replied. "Though I honestly do not know what you could possibly do for me. I am not even sure what I am supposed to say to you right now."
"That's fine. If you need to, take some time to find your next words" George replied. "I'm in no hurry."
"Very well then," Rose paused. "How is this business going?"
George answered, "Very well, all things considered."
"Good," Rose drawled. "I would have visited it more often if I had known about our connection. Given that Dad does not tolerate this type of tomfoolery, though, I never felt a need to go inside."
"I would imagine he would not have been pleased to have my type of pranks in his house," George replied.
"No, he would not have," Rose replied.
"Do not get me wrong, Dad has a great sense of humor," Rose's lips curled up. "He can make the most hilariously dry quips imaginable."
"I could see that."
He nodded. "I would imagine that given the right circumstances, your father could be very funny."
"Are you only saying that because you do not want to upset me?" Rose asked.
"No," George replied. "It has always been my belief that people want very few things more than to have love and to have a good laugh. Even your dad must enjoy laughing."
"Indeed, he does," Rose answered.
"You are right in that he wouldn't enjoy any of my contraptions," George continued. "Yet if you would like, I would love to show you some of them."
"I suppose that would be acceptable," Rose replied.
George walked out from behind his desk and pointed to aisle four. "This contains the pranks which relate to the more bodily functions."
"Is this where the U-No-Poo comes from?" Rose asked.
George lowered his hand. "How do you know about U-No-Poo?"
"One of the first potions I made with Dad was the antidote to it," Rose replied.
"Oh yes," George chuckled. "I remember when he began advertising for the antidote. I had to tip my hat to him. After saving the world from lycanthropes very few people would turn their attention to constipation prevention."
"Dad said he had already deduced the cure before he married Mum. Unfortunately his poverty precluded him from having the means to create the potion."
"Still, it must have been liberating to work on a potion which did not involve saving the Wizarding World from a psychotic dark lord."
"I would imagine so," George exhaled. "I never did properly thank Severus Snape for curing Dad, Bill and Charlie. I made the excuse that after Ron took you I thought he wouldn't want me to contact him. Looking back, I could have at least sent him a thank you note, as well as a letter apologizing for allowing Ron to treat you and your mother as he did."
"There is still time to write that letter."
"True," George replied. "Only now I also need to thank him for raising you."
Rose raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me?"
"Look," George began. "I don't know exactly how Snape raised you, but by all accounts he did an excellent job. He deserves some credit for raising a child who did not share his bloodline. I need to begin writing that letter tomorrow."
Rose grabbed the edge of her cape. "I am at a loss for what to say."
"There is nothing to say," George answered. "It's about time I start acknowledging some things, including the fact that your father actually has a soul, is capable of love, and has helped the Wizarding World out of more crises than I can count. He deserves a huge 'thank you' from me, and I need to give it to him."
"Indeed," Rose answered.
"I also owe him an apology."
"I know," George took a deep breath. "I know that I turned a blind eye to Ron's actions when it came to how he treat 'Mione."
"Her name is Hermione."
"Yes, yes, Hermione," he answered "I kept quiet when I should have spoken up. Heck, I joined him in taunting your mother when she was pregnant with you."
"Yet after Ron kidnapped you, and I had children of my own, I realized how incredibly wrong my behavior was." George extended his hand. "If you could find it in your heart to forgive me, I would deeply appreciate it."
"It does not seem like I should be the one who is forgiving you," Rose replied. "Most of the harm you inflicted were against Mum and Dad."
"True, but I hurt you as well," George answered. "Your mother was pregnant with you when I bullied her. Not once did I consider that the stress would be harmful for her baby. I demanded that your dad find us a cure for lycanthropy, yet it never occurred to me that he was a new father trying to bond with his daughter. I made excuses for Ron, never thinking of how his actions not only almost landed you on the street, but could have cost you your life. For all of that, I apologize."
Rose took his hand and shook it. "I can forgive you. After all, my life has gone well enough in spite of your actions."
"It seems to have anyway," George answered.
Rose released his hand.
"Now," George pointed to another aisle. "Here is our line of WonderWitch products."
"Oh yes," Rose muttered. "The bane of Dad's existence."
"Excuse me?" George asked.
Rose smirked. "When I was eight, Dad taught me the counter potion to every single one of those products. He also taught me to recognize the symptoms of a love potion, claiming that I may be able to occlude my way through one until the effects wore off."
"Have you ever been infected with one of my WonderWitch products?"
"No. Violet says the greatest antidote to a love potion is knowing that a former Death Eater is your potential father-in-law."
George burst out laughing. "So it would be."
George pointed to another aisle. "Here are our toys…"
There was a spark in Rose's eyes. "You sell the Reusable Hangman?"
"I invented it," George answered.
She turned to him. "You did?"
"Mum bought this while she was still at Hogwarts. She used to play it with Victor, Violet, and me all the time. It was honestly one of my favorites."
"If you'd like, we can play a game right now."
"I think I would like that, assuming you are not too busy running the store."
George strolled over to the toy aisle. "It's almost closing time, and nobody's come in for hours. I think I can safely call it a day."
"If you say so," Rose replied.
George pulled out his wand and pointed it towards the door. With a flick of the wrist, the sign went from Open to Closed.
"Do you want to go first?" he asked as he put his wand away.
"Sure," she answered.
George picked up one of the hangmen from his shelves. He motioned for her to follow him to the counter. Rose complied.
For the first time in years, he felt Fred's presence in the store.