Another result of going to LeakyCon is that I temporarily lost my inhibitions about writing fan fiction. I wrote the following story on the plane ride home. It’s loosely a sequel to a very sad story I wrote last year. But unlike its predecessor, this story has dialogue. So I’m looking for feedback about the three characters as manifested through their voices: Can you tell them apart? Do they sound like men (something I always worry about)? Do they interact like brothers? And–this is very important to me–do you like them?
That fall, the Weasley men, including Harry, spent a weekend at Shell Cottage. Everyone kept finding reasons to propose toasts to Fred and tell each other what he would have been doing if he were there. Fred’s absence wasn’t the only thing that made the old easy camaraderie impossible to recreate. Charlie had just moved back to England and was out of step with the family in little ways–nothing significant, but he would forget things, like the fact that Bill didn’t like pumpkin juice. Ron sometimes retreated inside his head or had long whispered conversations with Harry. Percy was very quiet and unnecessarily deferential.
But there were plenty of happy moments that weekend, and one of the best was on the last night when they built a bonfire on the beach and ate supper out there, telling embarrassing stories from when they were kids. When it started getting dark, Arthur, Bill, Ron, and Harry went inside to talk to their wives and girlfriends by Floo network. The wind had begun picking up when the sun began to set, and there was a definite chill in the air as George walked across the sand toward the fire, where Percy was still sitting.
“I brought you your pretty little jumper,” George said and threw a grey pullover at his brother’s head.
“Too kind of you,” said Percy with a wry face.
“Where’s Charlie?” George asked.
“He’s down there trying to skip rocks in the ocean. Which I’m pretty certain is impossible.”
In the twilight George could just make out Charlie’s stocky figure. “Well, let’s go tell the poor lad he’s getting himself all worked up for nothing.” He started walking down toward the shoreline, and Percy followed, pulling on his sweater.
Charlie was, indeed, hurling bits of shingle into the choppy water. “Oy!” George called. “What are you doing that for?”
Charlie turned and wiped his wet hands on the back of his jeans. “I dunno. Something to do.”
“Well, come along with us. I need to talk to you two gentlemen.” George started walking backward along the edge of the water, facing his brothers.
“Is this about how strange Ron has been acting?” Percy asked.
“No, this is about how strange you two have been acting.” Charlie and Percy looked at each other. George turned around and fell into step with his brothers. “Listen, I need some advice. I have this brother who’s just moved back to the country, supposedly because he wants to be with his family, but we all really know it’s because he’s after Rubeus Hagrid’s job.”
Charlie snorted. “Your brother sounds like a real git.”
George nodded emphatically. “That he is. Anyway, Hagrid won’t retire until he’s dead, and that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. So my brother needs some gainful employment for the meantime, and he hates working in an office. That’s problem number one.”
“Well, maybe I can help you with that,” said Charlie. “But can we walk up to the fire? I’m freezing.”
“That’s because your trousers are all wet,” Percy said.
“Yes, Mum,” said Charlie.
“Stop fighting, kiddies,” George said, angling back toward the bonfire. “Let me tell you about my second problem. I’ve got this other brother who hates his job. He’s working at the Ministry, in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office. But that’s really not his kind of work, and besides, that whole big dark ugly building has given him lots of bad memories. But he doesn’t want to quit because he feels like that’s his only option, and he doesn’t want to hurt Dad’s feelings.”
Percy had stopped walking. “I never told you any of that,” he said.
George shrugged. “You didn’t need to. You’re an open book, mate.”
Percy shook his head and walked faster to catch up with his brothers. They had nearly reached the bonfire.
“Now, here’s the third and most important piece of my little story,” said George. He didn’t add anything until they had all sat down by the fire. “All right.” He ran his fingers through his hair, which meant that there was something he didn’t know how to say. This rarely happened. “Listen, I know it’s stupid to say things like ‘I know Fred would have wanted this,’ because how can we really know.”
Charlie mumbled an agreement; Percy nodded. “But I spent nine months in the womb with him,” George went on, “so if anyone has a right to say stuff like that, I guess it’s me. And”–he ran his fingers through his hair again–“I think Fred would want me to open the shop back up.”
“I think that sounds great–” Charlie began to say something awkwardly affirmative, but George kept going.
“And, I think it would be nice if my unemployed brother and my unsatisfactorily employed brother would join me in business.”
“Oh,” said Percy after a brief pause, evidently dumbstruck. “In your joke shop?”
Charlie laughed. “I think you’ve just blown out little prefect’s mind.”
“Yes, in Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes,” said George, quite seriously. “It’s always been a family business, you see.”
“But surely you don’t expect us to–invent joke products?” Percy asked.
“Heaven forbid,” George said, finally cracking a smile. “No, I’ll do the inventing, and you two can do the boring things like running the till and making sure we don’t go bankrupt.”
“Oh.” Percy’s expression relaxed. “I can do those things.”
George grinned. “Also, Charlie, I’m hoping you can use your international connection to help me get hold of some rare magical items.”
Charlie looked very impish all of a sudden. “Do you mean like dragon stuff?”
“Among other things,” said George. “Rumor has it that you and your Romanian colleagues have been known to engage in some serious mischief.”
“That may be true,” said Charlie with a lopsided smile. “I confess nothing.”
There was a silence, and then George asked, “But will you tell me later?” Charlie and George burst out laughing.
Percy finally allowed himself a small smile, though he still looked overwhelmed. “So we’re going into business, then?”
“We are going into business, lads,” said George. “And I think the sooner the better.”
“We should shake on it,” Charlie said.
Percy, thinking this was a good idea, leaned over to shake George’s hand.
“Or you could just give me a hug, you two jobless gits,” said George.
And that’s what they did.