Ron's ears perked up. It sounded like Fred was calling to him. Fred and George never called for him, or much talked to him even, finding him too 'young' for whatever antics they might be up to. But Ron loved it when his older brothers did decide to include him.
"Ron!" George's voice. "Come here. Fred and I have got something that we need your help with."
Ron smiled, abandoned his little toy trains, and waddled out of his room into the twins'. "What?" the four-year-old said, eyes eager as they looked back and forth between each of his brothers.
Fred crouched down so he was eye-level with his younger brother. "We want to try out a spell with you," he said. "We've taken Mum's wand too." He held up a short brown stick, clutched tight in his fist as he grinned at Ron. "But we need three people to make this work."
"Okay!" Ron shouted, jumping up and down.
"Shh!" the twins hissed simultaneously, and now George got on his knees beside his twin. "But you have to be quiet about it, Ron," George told him softly. "We don't want Mum or Dad knowing that we are practicing magic, all right?"
Ron nodded, putting a small finger to his lips to show his understanding of quiet. "Okay."
Fred smiled, patted Ron the shoulder, and stood up. "Great. So, you and George need to move closer to each other . . . very good . . . and now you hold hands . . .no, not like that, one on top of the other . . . right, that's better . . ." Fred placed the tip of the wand on their clasped hands with a dramatic flourish. "Take it away, George."
Ron was nearly bouncing on the balls of his feet with excitement. It was rare enough that Fred and George included him in anything, it was even rarer that they included him in something involving magic!
"Now, Ron," said George solemnly, "I'm going to ask you a few questions, and all you have to do is say yes to all of them. Okay?"
"Okay! I mean . . ." Ron lowered his voice dramatically. "Okay," he breathed.
"Will you, Ronald Weasley, promise to serve your elder brothers willingly, and without question?" George asked.
"Yeah," said Ron.
"Say 'I will'," George prompted.
"I will," said Ron.
A flame shot from the tip of the wand and wound itself around their joined hands. Ron squeaked in fear and tried to pull his hand away, but George gripped him firmly. "It's all right," George assured him, "it's not going to burn you or anything. Now . . ."
"George, you don't have to talk so adult-like with the vows," Fred said, rolling his eyes.
"It's more professional!" said George, rearing up defensively, and then he turned back to Ron. "Will you, Ronald Weasley, do whatever your brothers ask you to do, even if it puts you in a state of mortal peril?"
"I will," said Ron, puffing up his chest importantly, as a second strip of flame whisked from the wand and around their joined hands.
"And will you, Ronald Weasley, swear to – "
"Fred? George? Ron? Where are you?" It was Arthur Weasley's voice, carrying up the stairs.
"Daddy's home from work!" Ron squealed, and made to leave. George held the younger boy's hand tighter in slight panic.
"Hold on, Ron," said Fred quickly, darting his gaze towards the door and then back to his two brothers kneeling on the floor. "We've got to finish here."
"Will you, Ronald Weasley," George started again, speaking a little faster this time, "swe – "
"FRED AND GEORGE, YOU RELEASE YOUR BROTHER'S HAND RIGHT THIS INSTANT!"
Caught in the act with no defenses nor excuses, George dropped Ron's hand as though it had scalded him; Fred stumbled back and Molly Weasley's wand clattered to the floor. The tongues of flame vanished instantly.
"What were you thinking?" Arthur roared, stepping into the room angrily. "Trying to make an Unbreakable Vow? Are you boys mad? Do you realize how dangerous those are, do you know what happens if you break one? Why, I never . . ."
Ron, thinking he had done something wrong, began to wail and sob, hurling himself at his father's legs. "I-I'm s-s-sorry, Daddy . . ."
Arthur scooped his youngest son into his arms. "It's your brothers who will be sorry, Ron. You did not do anything wrong."
"What are you going to do to us?" Fred asked nervously.
Arthur thought for a moment as he cuddled the sniffling Ron to his chest. Then his face broke into a wide grin. "Maybe I will have the both of you take an Unbreakable Vow to never pull another prank again . . ."
"DAD!" the twins shouted in unison.