Don't own Harry Potter

Right. Here goes - and I'm placing my reputation on the line here. Testing, testing, testing.

My name is George Weasley. It's half past eleven at night on Friday 28 April, and I'm fifteen years old today, as is my twin brother Fred.

Errmm...what else? Today we had Quidditch practice (Only Wood would do that to us. At last minute, to) And we were dive-bombing each other. Angelina came over and it actually got quite heated. Anyway, it resulted in her pushing me off my broom, knocking me into Fred which in turn pushed him off his broom, me grabbing onto my broom and him falling. Now say that five times fast. In one breath.

So Fred fell about twenty feet out of the air onto very wet, very squishy mud. (Which is great, because otherwise I'd be twinless and I wouldn't be writing this at all.) So I flew down there, as did everybody else on the team. Fred was kind of out of it, and his right leg was rather nasty looking, with a bone sticking out and blood all over. SoI rushed over to him, all worried and everything, and he looks at me and goes, "April Fools." I had to laugh at that. Fred was going to be just fine.

Oh, Madam Pomfry fixed up his leg alright, but she told us (I think this is the sixteenth time one of us had to get a bone mended) to stop dueling or whatever we were doing or we'd kill ourselves.

Shows how much she knows.

Well, I've waited an hour, and my deepest, darkest secrets don't appear to have been emblazoned in daisies on the castle lawn outside, or painted in green goo across the boys' lavatory ceiling, or anywhere else for that matter, this book hasn't exploded or changed into a toilet seat. And, more importantly, nobody's written back. Nothing at all of a magical or non-magical nature seems to have occurred.

In fact, I do believe that Fred's given me a serious birthday present for the first time in our lives. Okay, I know he said it was just a lockable book, but you don't believe what Fred says, do you?

Why on earth would he want to do that?

In fact, why would he want to give me a blank book in the first place? It's far too close to a diary for comfort, and I don't like diaries.

It's not like I have any secrets to record, after all. That's what being a twin is - at any rate that's being Fred's twin. We know each other completely, because we spend our lives in each others' pockets. I've heard a vile rumour that some twins are sort of semidetached, and I've sometimes wondered how exactly they do it. The Patil girls seem to manage it, somehow, but then they're in different houses, so they can't be that alike.

Oh well... Now I've put quill to parchment, lets talk about something else. Our seventeenth birthday. According to wizard law we're of age today. Quelle horreur. Fred and George Weasley, troublemakers extraordinary, are now legally old enough to vote, smoke, drink, own houses, get proper jobs, go to Azkaban, place bets... Actually, I think we'll leave it there. Gambling is a bit of a sore point at present.

Anyway, we celebrated our birthday in the approved style, by disrupting completely every lesson we attended today. Charms first, and we levitated Flitwick's cushions while he was sitting on them. Took both of us to do it - he's heavier than he looks. He thought it was funny though, he just carried on teaching as we whizzed him round and round the room. McGonagall didn't, though, when her desk turned into a sheep when she was writing on it. We lost twenty points for that.

My potions lesson was the best, thought. I managed to get some canary cream into every single cauldron in the room, without the Sniper noticing. Wonderful results - that stuff really shouldn't be added to acne cures. There were some really strange effects, and that Slytherin, Derrick, looked quite cute with a beak sticking out of his forehead. That's one up on Fred. He had Muggle Studies while I was at Potions, and all he did was pull the old fake wand trick a few times. We both got detention, of course. Mine was from Sniper (who else?) and I think Fred's was from Filch. He's only just got back now.

Oh yes, and we sent Percy a thin-bottomed cauldron with a fake letter of complaint. We've charmed it to turn into a rubber chicken when he measures the thickness. Annoying Percy is becoming a bit of a tradition as well.

I don't like to admit this, but I do actually feel a bit sorry for Percy. He's been stuck with the 'good boy' role since we were kids, and now look what he's turned into. I mean, Bill would probably have been the same, but for Charlie, but Percy's not really close to any of us, except mum. Bill's got Charlie, and I've got Fred, and Ron and Ginny are too young to want to know him. No wonder he's turned out a bit of a sad stick. Obviously Fred and I didn't play enough jokes on him when he was a kid.

But he's not the only one. Bill's had to spend his life setting us 'good examples' - no wonder he rebelled when he left Hogwarts. And Ron and Ginny get fed up of being at the bottom of the pile. I mean, whatever they do, we did it first. And better, though I say it myself. And Ron goes and makes friends with the two brightest stars of his year, so he's got them as competition as well, and poor Ginny is the girl mum's always wanted, so she's got just as much to live up to as Ron.

But that's just large families for you - people get dumped on. We seem such a big close family, and I suppose we are, and that's great, but it's also a real pain in the neck. (Fred would probably have a lower opinion. Sorry, bad joke.) Like there never being enough money, and having to show off to get noticed. Like the unspoken agreements that some topics are off-limits. We have this strange censorship system - there's some things we don't talk about, and questions we don't ask.

Take that gap for instance. There's this seven-year age gap between Charlie and Percy that nobody talks about. Not even Fred knows about this - I think I was the only person ever tactless or stupid enough to ask about it, and I've never said. Not that there is much to say. It was the Christmas we were ten, and Percy, Fred and the younger ones were all outside having this massive snowball fight. I was indoors with a bad cold, and mum wouldn't let me go out.

Anyway, I was in the kitchen with mum, dad, Bill and Charlie when I asked about it. I think I said something like "What went wrong?" And Bill and Charlie both turned and glared at me, and mum left the room very suddenly. Dad sent me up to our room. No shouting, no telling off, just "Go to your room." They never did explain, and I didn't ask again.

But it's weird, that. There's a year between Bill and Charlie, and two years between us and Percy, and another two between us and Ron. And then another year, and Ginny comes along. Seven years is a really long time. I wonder what did happen.

I can't believe I'm writing all this, actually. Especially in a book that Fred's probably booby-trapped with everything he's got. Not clever, Georgie.

Fred's asleep now. I can always tell, I don't know how. For some reason I feel more free - no, that's not right - more alive, when he's asleep. Like I've suddenly become George Weasley, instead of 'one of the Weasley twins'.

Most of the other kids think Fred and I are one person, with two mouths. I suppose most of the teachers do, too, not that we've ever tried to disillusion them. Even mum does, however hard she tries not to. She noticed that I got one more O.W.L. than Fred did, though. Divination, grade E. Impressive.

But Fred's just more than me. You know, faster, funnier, wilder. He's the one with the really lunatic ideas, and I'm the one who works out how to do them. He's the one who cracks these amazing jokes without pausing to think - I'm the one who fills in the punchline. I let him take the lead, and follow close like his shadow. I pick up his cues effortlessly, and we act like we're a unit, but it's always Fred who takes the lead. Always.

If I thought about it often, it would irritate me, like it's doing now. It's like I'm his echo, rather than a person in my own right - a shadow man.

But Fred's really No. I don't know what Fred is, really. He's just Fred. I mean, what does he think about in the silence of the night when the jokes aren't enough and there's nobody to play tricks on? What does he dream about? Maybe he doesn't need to - maybe it's just me.

Maybe that's why he gave me this book.

George Weasley, shadow man - that sounds so stupid. Fred would be laughing his guts out if he could read this, he really would.

Wow, cool, it's actually like, long.