"Fred, are you listening to me?"
Fred Weasley lifted his head from the table and looked into the crazy-eyed face of Oliver Wood. "Yes, Oliver, I'm listening."
"Right, I want you two to keep those bludgers away from our seeker," the Gryffindor Quidditch team's captain and keeper said. "Remember, Harry's the important one." He rubbed his hands together, smiling.
"Oh, and we're not?" Angelina Johnson, a chaser on the team, snapped. "We do score the goals."
Oliver held up his hands in defense. "Oh, no, not to say the chasers aren't important! Of course, you're all vital to the team. But if we didn't have Harry, here, we'd never catch the snitch." He tousled the second year's hair.
Angelina rolled her eyes. "All right, Oliver, I'll let it slide this time. Next time you won't be so lucky." She rose from the table. "I have to get to class. Bye."
"Wait!" Oliver exclaimed. "I haven't finished explaining my strategy!"
"Oliver." She gave him a serious look, placing her hands on her hips. "I have to go. I don't want to be late for Potions."
"Fine! Go!" Oliver shouted after her. "But when we lose you'll know who to blame!"
The remaining members of the team listened to their captain rant on about the importance of discussing strategy and tactics before a game for ten minutes. Soon only two minutes were left until the first class of the day. Each went their separate ways. Fred and his twin, George, headed down to the dungeons for Potions.
There was something eerie about the dungeons, besides the constant presence of the Slytherin House ghost, the Bloody Baron. They were dark and damp, and quite spooky, really. Fred could understand why Snape loved the dungeons and chose to teach his class in them. The professor was a lot like a reptile, except for his pale, sallow skin. He was definitely cold-blooded and cruel. He had also taken a liking to Harry Potter, a seeker for the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Or rather, he liked picking on Harry, and using him as an excuse to take away points from Gryffindor.
It wasn't that he disliked Potions; it was Severus Snape, the Potions master that he didn't care for. Snape didn't enjoy Fred's company either, or that of George's. Of course, that might have had something to do with their constant pranks.
"Good morning, Mr. Weasley."
Fred looked up. Snape was standing outside the classroom with his arms crossed, hidden under billowing, black sleeves. "Oh, good morning, Professor. I hope your morning has been pleasant so far."
"Yes, how was your breakfast? The eggs were delicious, weren't they?" George asked sweetly, walking into the classroom.
Fred snickered, following his brother inside. Without the professor knowing, they had slipped a large amount of chili powder into Snape's breakfast plate. He took his seat next to Angelina, and soon after, the lesson began.
The entire class was very boring. Snape had them all take notes on the five deadliest potions that could be concocted. Fred found it hard to concentrate on that, however. He usually didn't worry about Quidditch matches, but for some reason, he was worried about this one. Maybe he felt pressured to win. After all, Oliver only had two years left at Hogwarts, being a sixth year, and the only thing the bloke strived for was to win the Quidditch Cup. They were up against Slytherin on Saturday, the first game of the season. But before Fred could think on it anymore, Snape's sharp voice interrupted his thoughts.
"Mr. Weasley, please stop daydreaming. This classroom is for learning, not sleeping."
"My sincerest apologies, Professor," George said suddenly, sending a wink in his brother's direction. "I was just thinking about how Angelina would look in a swimming suit."
Angelina rolled her eyes and flushed slightly, though she knew George was only joking.
Snape's upper lip curled. "Not you," he sneered, "the other one."
"After four years, you still don't know my name?" Fred questioned, smirking.
"Professor, does Slytherin lose points when you are unable to remember a student's name?" George asked, without the hint of a smile on his face.
The Gryffindors and most of the Hufflepuffs burst out laughing.
"Very well." When it seemed his eyes couldn't narrow any further and his face couldn't become any sourer, it did. "Ten points each will be taken from Gryffindor. And detention for both of you."
Angelina, who was sitting beside Fred, hit his shoulder lightly. "Nice going."
Fred didn't think much of it. He had gotten detention hundreds of times, and he and his brother had been responsible for most of Gryffindor's lost points.
The rest of Snape's lesson went along smoothly. A Hufflepuff girl had answered a question correctly and was awarded twenty-five points. However, when Angelina correctly answered a question, Snape gave no points to Gryffindor. This wasn't a normal occurrence. Usually Snape was very civil toward the third years' class. It was only when Fred or George made a comment that his anger flared up again.
When they were finally let out, the class filed out into the damp corridor. Gryffindors had History of Magic next, another boring class. Fortunately for Fred, there was no pop-quiz –though even that would have been more exciting than the usual lesson. The entire period was spent studying one of the more bloody battles in Wizarding history.
Before he knew it, however, Fred was walking back to his common room, hoping Wood wasn't going to force another lecture on him. But sure enough, when he stepped through the portrait hole, the first thing he saw was Wood pacing back and forth in front of the fire. Fred tried to sneak past him, up to his dormitory, but was defeated by a squeaky step on the stairs.
Wood's head snapped up. "Fred, I've been waiting for you. I think we can get in another practice before dinner. Hope you got enough to eat at lunch because you may have to forfeit the next meal."
Fred rolled his eyes. "Skip dinner? Aren't you the one who's always saying we need to eat to keep up our strength?" He slumped down into a fluffy, burgundy-colored armchair.
Oliver thought a moment before replying, "Well, yes, but that's the meal before a match. You've still got tomorrow's meals."
"Technically, tonight's supper is before the game," Fred pointed out.
"You don't seem to understand the importance of this game! Of –of every game!" Oliver began pacing again, shaking his head in frustration.
"Oliver, you have pulled us out of bed at the crack of dawn every Saturday since we got here!" Fred shouted, becoming angry himself. "That's nearly two straight months of being tired and wet, since most of the time, we were out in a storm!" He sighed. "Look, I want to enjoy the Halloween feast tonight, and get some rest before you wake me up at four in the morning tomorrow."
Oliver frowned, but nodded. "You're probably right. Maybe I should just relax. I know we're a good team. And we can beat the Slytherins even if we don't all have Nimbus Two Thousand and One broomsticks."
Fred smiled. "That's the spirit, Captain!" He proceeded to walk up to the dormitory, leaving Oliver behind.
The Keeper sighed, and collapsed onto an armchair. "We're going to lose!" he wailed.
"Where's Harry?" Wood asked worriedly. "He better not be sick. Not right before the match. I'd better find him –"
"Oliver!" Katie Bell, another Chaser on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, exclaimed. "I'm sure he's fine. He's probably just hanging out with his friends."
"Well, I'm his friend," Oliver said, looking a little gloomy.
"I meant his other friends," she clarified. "Look, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger aren't here either." She glanced at the row of teachers in the front of the hall, where a line of skeletons, each bearing a top hat and a cane, were dancing. "You know, those dancing skeletons really aren't what I expected them to be."
"What did you expect them to be?" George Weasley questioned from his seat on her right.
She smiled. "Well, better, I suppose."
On the other side of the table, the team's captain was still raving on. "I'd expect them not to be here, but Harry. He should know better. We could have gone over the tactics again!"
"Oliver, I don't think you understand the word 'enjoy', as in, I wanted to enjoy the Halloween feast," Fred said through gritted teeth. "Just eat your food, all right?" He bit into a pumpkin pasty and caught his twin's eye. They had a bit of a surprise for everyone tonight.
As the students continued to eat, the sky outside darkened. When the sun had fully set, all at once, the pumpkins lit up. And all at once, several of the pumpkins exploded, sending huge chunks of orange vegetable onto everyone's heads. The pumpkins had been very large that year, thanks to Hagrid, the gamekeeper at Hogwarts. The Great Hall erupted with screaming and laughter, as most everyone picked seeds and pumpkin out of their hair.
Fred and George both stifled their own laughter, because they had caused it to happen. Before the pumpkins had been set into place, they had placed Filibuster fireworks in them.
Fred looked at Angelina, as she pulled a rather large chunk out of her soup, and smiled. Surprisingly, she smiled back and laughed. "Nice going, Fred," she said again, though this time her tone was quite different.
"Enjoy myself? How am I supposed to enjoy myself with exploding fruit all around me?" Oliver exclaimed as they headed back to the common room.
"Actually, it's a vegetable," Fred said quietly.
"Am I to understand you are accusing us, George Weasley and my brother Fred, angels on earth, of this terrible crime?" Oliver nodded, crossing his arms. "Well, you're wrong, sir. You should stop talking to us and seek out the real criminal."
"And when you find him or her," Fred began, "you can whack 'em with your broomstick." He and George laughed.
"What's going on up there?" Angelina asked, pointing to a large gathering of people at the end of the corridor.
"I expect they've caught the criminal," George replied, not even cracking a smile.
The hallway suddenly became very quiet and someone shouted, "Enemies of the Heir, beware! You'll be next, Mudbloods!"
Angelina bristled. "It's that Draco Malfoy again," she hissed. "Slytherin Seeker."
Oliver nodded to her. "I remember."
"Get outta my way!" a gruff, unpleasant-looking man growled. He pushed Wood out of the way, then made his way through the rest of the crowd.
Fred heard the unpleasant man, who was actually Argus Filch, Hogwarts' caretaker, yelling. Then the headmaster and several other teachers rushed past.
Fred pushed through the crowd just in time to see his younger brother Ron, Harry, and Hermione disappear around a corner. He looked up and noticed the writing on the wall.