Disclaimer: Alas, I do not own Harry Potter.
A/N: Written for the Twin Exchange October Challenge. Thanks to oOoJadedoOo for the beta-read and suggestions!
A Missing Item
"Nobody said it was going to be easy"
"October Fools!" the twins cheered at an irate Hermione, who was now covered in yellow feathers. Only Fred and George would use their half birthday as an excuse to prank their employees. Although she had been judiciously preparing her own lunches ever since the unfortunate Nosebleed Nougat incident in July, it hadn't prevented a well placed canary transfiguration hex on her chocolate biscuit while she was in the loo. She inflicted her deadliest stare on the redheads as the feathers molted, only triggering their increased laughter.
"Honestly, I don't know why I ever agreed to come work for you two," Hermione fumed.
"Nobody said it was going to be easy, love," Fred said, giving her a cheeky wink, earning him a smack on the arm and another glare.
"I would have been much better off if I'd stayed at the Ministry," she ranted. "I can't even enjoy my lunch without being transfigured!"
"Don't say that Hermione," George said, plucking a stray feather out of her hair. "We both know you were bored to tears up in that cubicle of yours. Besides, I knew you'd be mad, so I made you a present." He looked quite pleased with himself.
Hermione fixed him with a stern look. "It had better not be another coupon for an all-night threesome," she said, making Fred snicker.
"Seeing as it's our half birthday, we kind of hoped that would be yourpresent to us," Fred said, giving her an eyebrow wiggle. Hermione just rolled her eyes.
As Fred went back to the front of the shop, George grabbed her hand and led her up the stairs to the flat. He ignored her protests, determined to give her his gift. On the table were three brightly wrapped boxes. George picked a slim box, which was covered in an offensive orange paper and topped with a shiny gold bow, and handed it to a cautious looking Hermione. George's bright, excited smile did nothing to alleviate her apprehension. With a sigh, she pulled off the length of ribbon and carefully cracked open the lid.
Inside the box was a small, silvery headband that looked charmed to sparkle like diamonds in the sun. Inspecting it more closely, Hermione realized it was a miniaturized showing of Wildfire Whiz-bangs, blue and white and silver, continuously colliding into each other. She smiled, completely in awe that George would take such an ostentatious product and turn it into such a beautiful accessory.
"It's beautiful, George, thank you," Hermione said, her brief interlude as a canary forgotten. The smile he gave her then was nothing like the one he wore after a successful prank--it was actually quite disarming. Luckily, she had no time to wonder why her insides had suddenly turned to mush, as Fred appeared with a loud CRACK! to drag them back downstairs to help with the noon hour rush.
For the next hour, when she wasn't helping customers, Hermione helped change the shop's front display windows in anticipation of the twin's second-favorite holiday--after their birthday, of course. To the first window, she added several large jack-o-lanterns, which were charmed to make a variety of faces at passers-by, as well as an abundant amount of cobwebs. At George's insistence, she also released a cage of a dozen live bats into the glass case, unable to repress a small shudder as she did so.
In the second window, she posted a yellow and orange sign that read: Deflagration Deluxe - Halloween Edition. She placed two boxes of the advertised product inside and lit them, watching as a veritable minefield of orange, black, and green fireworks collided with each other in the small space. With a slightly sappy smile, Hermione realized where George had gotten the idea for her present.
"Smashing good work there, Hermione," Fred said, draping his arm across her shoulders.
"Yes, a fantastic display of our spectacular products," George added, casually snaking his arm around her waist.
It was then that, exactly six hours after her morning shower, Hermione's hair turned a fantastic shade of purple.
Fred shot George an incredulous look, taken aback at the passionate color her hair had turned while she stood between the two of them. "Are you sure about that threesome, pet?" he asked. Hermione's hair turned a violent shade of red only half a second before she threw her elbow into Fred's stomach.
Just then, the door swung open, a gust of autumn wind blowing one angry red curl astray from the messy knot at the back of Hermione's neck. She held it in front of her face, a confused look on her face as it turned to a murky brown before returning to red. Her eyes were livid as she turned to the jokesters, the on-the-warpath shade her hair had become only increasing their trepidation as they faced the consequences of their prank. Fred rushed off to help the customer that had just come in, and a frightened George quickly grabbed her hand, Apparating them to the flat before the yelling and hexing started.
"What did you do to my hair?" Hermione growled through clenched teeth.
"Erm. We may have added a color-changing potion to your shampoo bottle," George answered, trying to keep his wide eyes from staring at the mass of scarlet curls. He picked up another box, this one wrapped in magenta and emerald paper. "Present?" he asked, holding it out to her enticingly.
Hermione crossed her arms. "What are you going to do before you give me that one?" she asked, nodding at the last gift on the table. A tint of copper was flickering in her red locks, as if she was trying to stay angry but couldn't help being amused by his antics. George shook his head and held out the package.
"How long is my hair going to stay like this," she asked, glancing at the stray curl, "and why is it copper?"
George grinned. "Because you're amused."
The lock shifted to brown while she processed his comment. "My hair is mood sensitive? George, that's brilliant!" she exclaimed, leaping into his arms as her hair became a joyous gold. George held her tightly against his chest, watching with an amused expression as her mood changed yet again.
"What's purple for?" she asked, hoping her attraction wasn't glaringly obvious.
"Passion," George answered her with a smirk, his eyes smoldering. Hermione's hair immediately became a vibrant orange, her embarrassment evident. George mercifully let her go, and finally got her to open the second box.
"Shoes?" Hermione questioned, giving the strappy low-heeled number a curious look.
"Try them on," George replied.
Kicking off her trainers and socks, she slipped into the shoes, nearly tripping over them when they turned orange. She nearly doubled over with laughter as they shone a bright gold, perfectly matching the shade of her mood sensitive hair. George wondered if the months spent working at the shop had addled her brain a bit, but was happy to see that he probably wouldn't be getting hexed in the near future.
"Oh, George, these are fantastic," Hermione said, twisting around to see the footwear from a different angle. "Much better than that blasted hair potion." She tried to glare at him, but the corners of her mouth kept twitching upwards as she held back her grin. After carefully placing the shoes back in their box, Hermione followed George downstairs to finish the workday.
As much as she appreciated the George's thoughtfulness, Hermione had no intention of being pranked a third time in one day. She wasn't foolish enough to accept any of the many food items the twins offered her throughout the afternoon, even if they ate half of the treats themselves to lure her into a false sense of security. She was no longer frustrated by their attempts to trick her, apparent by the shining gold and copper tones of her curls. Wanting to give her his final present, George eventually resorted to replacing her wand with a fake. Hermione noticed her wand was missing from her pocket, but was distracted enough to assume she must have left it on a nearby shelf. As she tried to levitate a box of charmed Pumpkin Pasties (Turn any bumpkin as orange as a pumpkin!), she found herself waving about a rubber chicken.
Giving George a puzzled glance, she said, "That was rather anticlimactic, you know."
Having long since run out of patience, George simply grabbed her hand and Apparated them to the flat, not wanting to waste time on silly things like walking up the stairs. He picked up the last box, hesitating a moment before handing it over. Hermione thought he seemed a bit nervous, a state that was entirely out of character for him. She yanked off the blindingly yellow ribbon and opened the lid, finding only two small pieces of crisp parchment.
"Witch Weekly's Halloween Ball?" Hermione asked. Not even her universally known war hero status was enough to receive an invitation to such an exclusive event. "How in Merlin's name did you get these?"
"Did you forget that Fred and I were featured in Witch Weekly's Most Eligible Wizarding Bachelors calendar this year?" George smirked, enjoying the light blush that appeared on the witch's cheeks. "Hermione Granger," he continued, "will you do me the great honor of accompanying me, George Weasley, Bachelor Extraordinaire, to the Halloween Ball?"
With a grin and golden hair, Hermione sealed their date with an enthusiastic kiss.
A/N: Thanks to I'm Just Drawn That Way for the color suggestions; be sure to check out her fic, Secrets of the Heart, which features color-changing ink. :)