A/N: Dialogue from OoTP to start us off here, not claiming it as my own in any way.
"Look at today!" Ron's voice piped up from the Gryffindor table where three of the summer inhabitants of Grimmauld Place were grouped together, and Fred rerouted them towards the trio without even a glance in George's direction. "History of Magic, double Potions, Divination, and double Defence Against the Dark Arts... Binns, Snape, Trelawney, and that Umbridge woman all in one day! I wish Fred and George'd hurry up and get those Skiving Snackboxes sorted..." At that the twins did glance at each other before squishing in, George between Harry and Hermione and Fred on the other side of Ron.
It was the first day of class for everyone and the very last first day at Hogwarts for the seventh years. Fred and George had spent most of yesterday on the train with Lee planning out how to make the absolute most of their last year in the castle. First hand data was the most valuable, and they would be milking the student population for the year before launching their store in the hopes that they would make their entrance into the business of jokes with a bang.
"Do mine ears deceive me?" Fred settled with a gleam in his eye and George grinned back at him. "Hogwarts Prefects surely don't wish to skive off lessons?"
"Look what we've got today," Ron growled and shoved his schedule under Fred's nearby nose. "That's the worst Monday I've ever seen."
"Fair point, little bro," Fred's eyebrows flew into his hair line as he scanned down the day ahead for the fifth years. "You can have a bit of Nosebleed Nougat cheap if you like."
"Why's it cheap?" Ron asked and Hermione's stance straightened beside George. He could see the backbone extend and felt her take a deep breath to berate her fellow Prefect for his lax morals and on the very first day, too. George grinned down at the table and skimmed the options for breakfast.
"Because you'll keep bleeding till you shrivel up, we haven't got an antidote yet," he answered and purposefully interrupted the beginnings of Hermione's tirade, choosing a kipper.
"Cheers," Ron grumbled in response. "But I think I'll take the lessons."
"And speaking of your Skiving Snackboxes," said Hermione, watching the twins carefully as she spoke up, "you can't advertise for testers on the Gryffindor notice board."
"Says who?" George flicked his eyes to Fred's knowingly for a brief moment before giving Hermione a look of astonishment. They had just been talking last night about how difficult Miss Granger would make their year of data collection.
"Says me," she asserted. "And Ron."
"Leave me out of it," Ron replied quickly, eager to distance himself from any effort Hermione might make to deter them from their goal. He received a glare and the twins sniggered at their brother as he proceeded to stuff his face with breakfast as an excuse not to talk any more on the subject.
"You'll be singing a different tune soon enough, Hermione," said Fred, buttering his crumpet lovingly as he did so. "You're starting your fifth year, you'll be begging us for a Snackbox before long."
As if Fred hadn't attracted enough attention from the small Prefect who already had it out for their plans, he gave the girl a cheeky wink before singing his teeth into his breakfast at hand and George grimaced. Why did he have to get her going? George felt her bristle at his side and he sighed.
"And why wold starting fifth year mean I want a Skiving Snackbox?" she snipped.
"Fifth year's O.W.L. year," answered George, hoping to diffuse the conversation with talk of classes.
"So?" she bit. No luck then on the diffusing, it seemed.
"You've got your exams coming up, haven't you?" Fred swallowed and took a gulp of sugary tea. "They'll be keeping your noses so hard to that grindstone they'll be rubbed raw," he finished with latent satisfaction. Ron paled and Harry gulped.
"Half of our year had minor breakdowns coming up to O.W.L.s," George nodded and Hermione shifted her hard gaze to him. "Tears and tantrums... Patricia Stimpson kept coming over faint..." George nodded at her pointedly and she scowled.
"Kenneth Towler came out in boils, d'you remember?" Fred reminisced.
"That's 'cause you put Bulbadox Powder in his pyjamas," George snorted, pouring himself a glass of orange juice.
"Oh yeah," Fred grinned. "I'd forgotten... Hard to keep up sometimes, isn't it?"
"Anyway, it's a nightmare of a year, the fifth," George commented, hoping that the fact that Hermione had not redirected the conversation back to their Snackboxes and her objections meant that she had been derailed. "If you care about exam results anyway. Fred and I managed to keep out spirits up somehow.
"Yeah... you got, what is it, three O.W.L.s each?" said Ron.
"Yep," Fred replied for them both lightly. "But we feel our futures lie outside the world of Academic achievement."
"We seriously debated whether we were going to bother coming back for out seventh year," George added brightly, "now that we've got -"
Harry sent him a sharp look and George mentally smacked himself.
"-Now that we've got out O.W.L.s," George finished smoothly. "I mean, do we really need N.E.W.T.s? But we didn't think Mum could take us leaving school early, not on top of Percy turning out to be the world's biggest prat."
Smooth, because it was true.
All three fifth years bought it, though George had the sneaking suspicion Harry knew he was fibbing, regardless of how true it was in essence.
"We're not going to waste out last year here, though. We're going to use it to do a bit of market research, find out exactly what the average Hogwarts student requires from his joke shop, carefully evaluate the results of our research, and then produce the products to fit the demand," Fred spouted surely.
"But where are you going to get the gold to start a joke shop?" asked Hermione, her eyes narrowed shrewdly. "You're going to need all the ingredients and materials - and premises too, I suppose..."
George cursed her curious logical side inwardly and Harry made a spectacularly fake fumble for his fork in order to get out of Hermione's line of sight, diving for it as it clattered to the floor under the table.
"Ask us no questions and we'll tell you no lies, Hermione," Fred answered cryptically. "C'mon, George, if we get there early we might be able to sell a few Extendable Ears before Herbology."
George grabbed some toast and stood, stepping back into the aisle and setting off for the Entrance Hall with Fred.
"She is going to put up a right kicking fight, Freddie," he grinned.
"I'm not bothered," Fred glanced at him out of the corner of his eye.
Hermione watched the retreating back of the twins as they left the Hall and made for Herbology. It was the first day, and they had already made a stand against her.
Trying her very hardest to not let the twins dampen her first day of fifth year classes, Hermione finished her breakfast and folded up the Prophet, slipping it into her bag before Harry, Ron and her left for History of Magic. Taking diligent notes, Hermione scowled at Ron and Harry who spent the 45 minutes of Binns' lecture scribbling on a bit of parchment and not paying attention to the very best of their abilities.
How were they ever going to pass their O.W.L.s this year? She wouldn't be helping them, not this time. They had to learn eventually. It was time to put her foot down.
Making their way to Potions was a constant stream of hissing arguments with Ron that only ceased when they entered the dungeon classroom and settled huffily next to each other. Thankfully, the class passed without much disaster and Hermione finished with a perfect potion, silver vapour included. Ron had managed to botch his potion but Harry's potion was vanished by Snape. Perhaps if he concentrated on his work... Hermione shook her head.
After Harry stormed off and Hermione and Ron had had a short conversation about trying not to argue, for Harry's sake, Ron left for Divination and she hopped up to the seventh floor for Arithmancy. Pulling out her materials and unstopping her inkwell, Hermione's thoughts roamed back to the problem with the Twins.
Should she tell McGonagall?
Surely the older Head of Gryffindor House knew that they were up to something already... But perhaps not. The Twins had kept their schemes under wraps quite well over the summer. Mrs. Weasley hadn't found much in the way of their products, and that was with the knowledge that they were concocting things and squirrelling others away.
Perhaps she should write Mrs. Weasley... That was always an option, seeing as the Weasleys tended to be more scared of the matriarch bearing the same last name than of any punishment they might face in school.
Arithmancy passed quite without any distractions for Hermione and she relished in the complex theories they had already started brushing on. Professor Vector had always set the class to a challenge and made it perfectly clear what was expected of them and what they should be able to calculate come the end of the year. Hermione was already breaking down her study schedule by the time she made it to her last class of the day and met up with Harry and Ron again. Thankfully the two of them seemed to be in milder moods, the friction of earlier subsiding slightly.
And then Defence happened.
"How can Dumbledore have let this happen?" Hermione cried, settling in her favourite chair by the fire in the Common Room after a very tense dinner. This new Professor Umbridge was proving to be more of a pain than she had originally thought. No use of magic in what one might call the most important class they were enrolled in, considering that state of the war raging on silently outside the protective walls of the castle. Hermione felt her fists clench in anger and she buffeted them harshly against the arms of her chair. "How can he let that terrible woman teach us? And in our O.W.L. year too!"
The woman was completely infuriating. She had interrupted everyone who had spoken up and the whole class had finally gone silent after she and Harry had come nose to nose, for all intents and purposes. The Ministry was certainly keeping an ear out for any troublemakers who were trying to disturb the relative quiet they had created by denying the return of Voldemort at every turn. This of course was disregarding all the evidence on the contrary; disappearances and odd happenings be damned.
"Well, we've never had great Defence Against the ark Arts teachers, have we?" Harry said and Hermione knew he was right, not counting Professor Lupin who, aside from his werewolf status, had been perfect. The only reason that statement was true was because of the perceived dangerous of werewolves and the stereotypes that followed them; Lupin had not fit any of them but unfortunately the wizarding world did not accept that he was on the same level as the rest of them, and he had regrettably been forced to leave the school. "You know what it's like, Hagrid told us, nobody wants the job, they say it's jinxed."
"Yes, but to employ someone who's actually refusing to let us do magic! What's Dumbledore playing at?" she huffed, feeling her anger flood into her cheeks and chest hotly.
"And she's trying to get people to spy for her," Ron remarked lowly with a dark look. "Remember when she said she wanted us to come and tell her is we hear anyone saying You-Know-Who's back?"
"Of course she's here to spy on us all, that's obvious, why else would Fudge have wanted her to come?" Hermione snapped and immediately regretted it. She had promised Ron that she would try to be less snippy and she had just failed.
"Don't start arguing again," Harry interjected tiredly and Ron shut his mouth. "Can't we just... Let's do that homework, get it out of the way..."
People were starting arrive back from dinner and as Hermione, Ron and Harry started pulling out their books and parchment, Hermione caught sight of the twins gathering a group of small students around their tall frames.
Oh, this did not bode well. She didn't want to deal with this right now! As soon as she saw the brown bag Fred was holding out to them, she jumped up.
"No, I'm sorry, They've gone too far," she brushed her skirt down and felt her anger well up again, seeping readily into the places it had just receded from over their conversation about Umbridge. "Come on, Ron."
"I - what? No - come on, Hermione - we can't tell them off for giving out sweets..."
"You know perfectly well that those are bits of Nosebleed Nougat or - or Puking Pastilles or -"
"Fainting Fancies?" Harry offered, just as the first years started crumpling to the Common Room floor or hanging over chairs and each other.
Hermione let out a calming breath and stood up taller, marching over to where Fred and George were holding on to clip boards and making observations at the first years, who were out cold at their feet.
"That's enough!" Hermione demanded forcefully, noting rather too late the Ron hadn't followed her over to where his twin brothers were testing their potentially unsafe products on defenceless first years.
George looked up at her first, surprise written all over his features.
"Yeah, you're right, this dosage looks strong enough, doesn't it?" he nodded and went back to filling something out on his parchment.
"I told you this morning, you can't test your rubbish on students!" Hermione seethed, her cheeks flaring.
"We're paying them!" Fred snorted lightly, brushing her forcefulness off smoothly.
"I don't care, it could be dangerous!" Hermione pressed.
"Rubbish," Fred shook his head and George grimaced.
"Calm down, Hermione, they're fine!" Lee tried to be reassuring as he popped what Hermione could only assume was the antidote into the open mouths of the tiny first years stupid enough to sign up for this.
"Yeah, look, they're coming round now," George offered.
Hermione watched with the twins and Lee as they started to shift and open their eyes, thankfully seeming to possess all their wits apart from wondering how they had managed to end up on the floor or in someone else's personal space.
"Feel alright?" George asked a small girl lying on the floor who was shaking her head clear.
"I - I think so," she mumbled.
"Excellent," Fred said and with a flourish, began making notes on his board. Boiling, Hermione reached out and snatched the notes and the bag of Fainting Fancies from his hands quickly.
"It is NOT excellent!"
How could they not see how much danger they were putting these students in? Unnecessary danger. In a time when they or their families might be taken away at any point, how could these seventh years add to that panic of uncertainty by landing someone's child in the hospital wing, or worse?
"'Course it is, they're alive, aren't they?" Fred's voice took on an angry edge and Hermione snapped her attention to him quickly. Suddenly she realised that he was quite a bit taller than her, a quite a bit stronger as well.
"You can't do this, what if you made one of them really ill?" she tried to persuade them to see it her way, though she doubted very much that that would help.
"We're not going to make them ill, we've already tested them all on ourselves, this is just to see if everyone reacts the same -
"If you don't stop doing it, I'm going to -" Hermione threatened, but Fred interrupted her.
"Put us in detention?"
"Make us write lines?" George piped in, diverting Hermione wrath onto himself. His eyes gleamed in a challenge and Hermione knew that the entire Common Room was watching their exchange intently and that most people would be on the side of the jokesters.
"No," Hermione said after a breath. "But I will write to your mother."
"That girl is going to be the death if us," Fred cursed as they stomped down the corridor outside the Fat Lady a minute later.
"Not that I don't appreciate her tenacity, but I wish she would just direct her attentions elsewhere until we're through," George nodded.
"We'll just have to be more careful in the future," Lee shrugged, trotting along beside them. "D'you think she could be paid off?"
"Are you mad? The mere suggestion would have one of us to be facing a childless future," George laughed and shook his head.
"Maybe we could persuade Ginny to sway her mind. Or keep her occupied by talking about exams constantly. Keep her mind off us?" Fred suggested as they rounded the corner and let themselves into their favourite unused classroom.
"The fact of the matter is we can't pass up this year for market research; it's too important for the shop. We have to find a way to mellow her out that doesn't involve slipping a Draught of Peace into her morning juice every day," George lamented.
"No slipping her things," Lee gave them a look as they settled and squished their lanky bodies into the desks there, "but maybe a charm? A mild Cheering Charm? Or something to distract her? Like a Notice-Me-Not but somehow tailored for her?"
"That's something," Fred rubbed his chin. "Let's just try to keep out of her line of sight tomorrow and maybe make a trip to the library and see what might be floating around there."
George had the distinct feeling that this year was going to be unpleasant. If Hermione could just mellow out a bit, it would make the whole thing much easier for all of them. They stressed her out, she stressed them out. It was a vicious circle, couldn't she see that?
Boy, could she get going though. Brassed off Hermione was... something. She was something alright. Not something pleasant, but something.
The next morning, the three seventh years managed to wake early enough to sneak to the Great Hall and grab breakfast and leave before the female prefect had made an appearance and they all breathed a sigh of relief as they trekked up to the library still chewing on toast.
"I was thinking," Fred started and George grinned. "Last night, about our bushy-haired problem and I think the best route to go would be to find something to take her anger down a notch or perhaps her intensity... I can deal with ticked-off-Hermione, but enraged-and-threatening-to-out-us-to-Mum-Hermione is another thing altogether."
"Not that we can't handle her, of course," George nodded and Lee agreed with a grunt.
"Just rather not waste the energy and limited time battling it out with her over every little thing," Lee added.
It was a general consensus that the Charms section would be the best to start with, concentrating on mood-altering enchantments and spells and trying to find one that suited the situation the best. They didn't want to affect anything other than her targeted ire, lest she fail an O.W.L. and find out they had interfered with her in any way.
The boys spent every moment they could spare in the library over the next few days trying to find a solution to their problem of over-excitable Hermione Granger. If they solved this puzzle, it would be smooth sailing from here on out. If they could just get her to lie off, things would be much more flexible in the long run.
"We may only get the one shot to get her with something, so it needs to be long lasting, enough to get us through the new year, I'd wager..." George poured over open tomes in a far corner of the quiet library, far from where they had observed Hermione sitting under the light of a lamp into the night.
"Mhm, and it has to be subtle enough that she wouldn't think anything of it, and neither would the people who know her best. The last thing we need if her going to Pomfrey screeching about things being amiss..." Fred commented. "God forbid she only studies six hours instead of seven."
Lee snorted and flipped open another book, resigned to helping the twins since he had just as much at stake.
"Ah!" hissed Fred, pointing out to a page in the old book he was holding. "This is... this might be the one, gents! Listen; The Delinio Temperantia charm is purported to be the leading-most charm for long-term use in the area of anger management and is often used by Healers when a patient is resisting traditional forms of therapy in regards to their overall mental health. The charm works gradually, starting quite slow and mild and building over time, allowing the recipient to adjust to their new attitudes with ease, so that by the time the charm starts to fade months later, the patient may be in a better position to keep themselves calm without aid of magical intervention."
A/N: As you can see, we started off with scenes from Order of The Phoenix but from here on out you will encounter very few familiar scenes. Some, granted, but it's not going to be made up of interactions you've already read in canon. I am going to try and weave it in with the set timeline in the book though, and any parts therein I feel I need to include.
I know this hardly gives you much of an idea of where this is going, but leave me a note anyhow, and include any thoughts you might be having over Fred and George literally charming Hermione.
Let me know if you came over from The Injunction!