Disclaimer: I do not own anything from the Potterverse.
"What do you mean 'he took the map'?"
"Harry, please say this is a joke-"
"Surely, you jest-"
"You are too funny, Potter-"
Harry shook his head feebly, "I wish I was joking." He sighed and rubbed his face in frustration, "He took the map and it's in his office."
Fred and George looked at each other and then back at Harry.
"Harry, we gave you the map to keep it safe," George tugged on his hair, "not to get it snatched up by another teacher!"
"I know, I know," Harry paced, "I'm sorry."
George threw Fred a look, which Harry knew was their way of communicating without speaking. A sort of telepathy they shared when they would scheme or mock someone. Private conversations were of the utmost importance and where else to have them than in your connected brain?
"We'll get it back for you, Harry," George beamed.
"It'll cost you, though," Fred grinned.
"Anything," Harry pleaded. "I'll sing your praises, I'll carry your books, I'll even test out your candy!" Harry needed their help more than anyone else's. He knew the last time they were in possession of the Marauder's Map, they had stolen it from Filch's office. And, in comparison, Mad-Eye Moody, even with his freakish eye, didn't stand a chance against the plotting duo.
"Well," George started.
"I think 'Potter Approved' candy could sell quite well, George," Fred grinned wickedly, clapping a hand to Harry's shoulder. "You've got yourself a deal, Harry."
Harry felt slightly relieved, breathing lighter. He knew he was on Fred and George's good side, he didn't worry about them going against him. Besides, with the Marauder's Map in danger, Harry found it difficult to believe that Fred and George could focus on anything other than getting it back in their possession.
"Fantastic," Harry smiled. He could have hugged them both right then and there, but he knew, just from the look they were sharing, that he was not to interrupt. He waited patiently for what seemed like hours upon hours until, finally, they nodded in unison and looked back at Harry.
"Take a seat, Harry," Fred motioned to the sofa. Harry sat on the couch, accompanied by the twins, one on each side of him. "It's simple," Fred started. "All we need is a little lie."
"That shouldn't be too difficult for you two," Harry laughed. "You two are the biggest pair of liars I know."
"That hurts, Harry-"
"Stings like salt on a wound-"
"Maybe you should get your own map back-"
"After all, it was your responsibility-"
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Harry hid his face in his hands. "I'm sorry, please help me."
The twins exchanged menacing grins, "Don't worry, Harry-"
"We just like making you squirm."
Harry laughed nervously, "Alright, a lie. What sort of lie?"
George leaned in closer to the table in front of them, drawing out a list of things to do with his finger against the warm oak. "A simple lie. Assignments, test results, extra help, ponderings of the universe and it's mechanics," George smiled. "Anything."
"One of us goes in," Fred leaned in from the other side and drew a stick person against the shimmering table. "Get the map when Mad-Eye's distracted, pop in, pop out – it's simple."
Harry looked at the fingerprints left on the table, "Don't you two need a distraction?"
Fred laughed loudly, "When you look like us, Harry, your God-given facial features and striking physique are all the distraction you need."
"You don't think Mad-Eye will catch you?" Harry asked, looking at both the twins. "I mean, the man is, erm, well…"
"Any of the above mentioned," Harry sunk back into the couch. He tried his best to visualize how their heist would unfold. He saw a twin with a roll of parchment, sitting down in front of the desk, and waiting for Moody to turn around or leave the room briefly before snatching the map back. It went smoothly in his head, however; Harry was nervous at the real life threats that the twins would face. Deduction of points, detention – what if they got expelled? Harry wouldn't be able to deal with himself if he was the reason why the Weasley twins were to leave Hogwarts forever.
"Don't worry, Harry," Fred sunk back and looked at Harry. "I've got this all planned out. George wi-"
"Oh no, twin-of-mine," George laughed as he turned around to face the other two. "With you planning this, it will pose major threats to the success of this mission."
"Oh, I see," Fred crossed his arms. "Alright then, brother-dearest, what is the plan?"
"Well, Fred," George smiled. "You get to be the star of this one."
Fred clutched his Defense Against the Dark Arts textbook under his arm as he loosened his tie. There was no point in looking professional after class, it seemed pointless and this being Fred's last class of the day, he found it comforting to relax on his uniform.
Remember the plan.
Fred walked up to the front of the room, scratching his head nervously, "Er- Excuse me, Professor?"
Mad-Eye turned around swiftly, his heavy foot stomping loudly. "Yes, Mr. Weasley," he growled in his usual, meant-to-be-pleasant tone. "What is it that you need from me now?"
Fred looked down nervously to make sure his foot was not close to being stomped on, "I think I need some extra help," he smiled as warmly as he could. "I am determined to make my stunning spells more effective," he rubbed his neck, "you know, make them more powerful."
Mad-Eye nodded curtly, "When shall we meet, then?"
Fred shrugged, "I'm done for the day as of right now," he checked out the window to see where the sun sat in the sky. "I'm available from now until dinner and after that I'm available too."
"Good," Mad-Eye patted Fred hard on the back, causing Fred to almost fall over from the sheer force. "I look forward to teaching you a thing or two about spells, Mr. Weasley."
Fred knocked nervously on the door of the office. "Professor?" He pressed his ear against the door and could hear the shuffling around of footsteps and the frantic opening and closing of drawers. Fred laughed to himself, thinking of Moody prancing around his office in a tizzy, trying to make everything perfect for an outsider to come visit. He pictured Moody stumbling around the office, cleaning up bits of parchment that he had ripped up from plagiarized assignments and setting the pieces on fire. He would just leave the ashes there as a reminder of what he accomplished that afternoon, and then next class would just sprinkle into the lap of the unsuspecting student.
It wasn't until Fred heard a groan of pain that he began to worry, followed by a loud crash. He took out his wand and with a simple "Alohamora!", Fred unlocked the door and pushed his way inside. "Professor?" he frantically asked, looking about the whole office.
At first glance, the room looked empty; nothing but books that stacked up to the ceiling and the faint glow of the evening from the window. Fred looked around the room, wand at the ready, in case there was some sort of magical beast that had attacked his professor. He walked around to behind the teacher's desk and was confused as to what he saw.
A body lay sprawled out on the ground, as if in both pain and exhaustion. The figure wore all of Moody's clothes, however, in his hand there was something that Fred would not have imagined seeing in his wildest daydreams. Whoa, he's holding his eye!
Fred set his wand on the desk and kneeled down next to the man, trying his best to respect both teacher-student boundaries and still attempting to help a fellow human being. He rolled the man over on to his back and was startled at what he noticed. This wasn't Mad-Eye Moody – not even close. Certainly, it didn't look like him when he was lying down face into the ground either, but nonetheless, the difference was shocking. Fred staggered back, bumping into a trunk, which upon contact, began to scream. Fred jumped back, surprised to hear a trunk start to scream. He looked around the room, expecting to be ambushed by yet another surprise. He walked into a chair and fell into it sloppily as he watched the man behind the desk rise.
"You're… not Moody," Fred said slowly.
"Excellent observation, Mr. Weasley," the man brushed himself off. "I'll be sure to write home to your parents to tell them what a bright young pupil you are."
"I'm clever," the insulted ginger said, rubbing his arm nervously. "Erm, look, this is obviously something I wasn't supposed to see-"
"Mr. Weasley," the man sat in the chair behind the desk. He grabbed Fred's wand which lay on top of the oak desk and pinched it between his fingers. "Fredrick-"
"Excuse me," Fred scoffed. "No one calls me that."
"I would call you 'Fred' or 'Freddie', as George does," the man laughed, twirling Fred's wand between his fingers. "But I believe 'Fredrick' got your attention better. That is what I will call you and that is what you will respond to if you know what's good for you."
"If I know what's good for me?" Fred said, eyeing his wand. "That's mine."
"Fredrick, this whole playing dumb act," the man said sliding Fred's wand between his fingers. "It may fool everyone, but I know a thing or two about being something you're not."
"Obviously," Fred rolled his eyes slightly.
The man rested his elbows on the desk, grinning slightly, "My, my," he played with Fred's wand leisurely. "Snarky today, aren't we, Mr. Weasley?" He stuck his tongue in his cheek to keep from laughing, "The only way you ever let anyone see how smart you really are – by insulting them. How un-Gryffindor of you."
"Are you implying that I am a bad Gryffindor? Because, I will have you know that-"
"I think you harbour many Slytherin qualities," the man said, inspecting Fred's wand. "Are you seriously considering giving your final examinations with this wand?"
"Yes, I am, it has worked all my other years," Fred shook his head, trying to keep up with the changes in conversation. "If you don't mind me asking, who exactly are you?" He watched the mysterious person rise and walk over to the front of the desk, leaning up against it.
"Fredrick, if I told you, that would open up a nasty can of worms, don't you think?"
"Well, it's not like you're not going to obliviate me anyway," Fred said looking the man up and down. "I mean, really, student walking in on a teach transforming from a Polyjuice potion – you would be stupid to trust anyone to keep that a secret for long."
The man waved his wand and Fred heard the door lock. He waved it again, mumbling an incantation under his breath. "I suppose you are right, Fredrick." He man crossed his arms, holding both his own wand and Fred's. "I am not Professor Moody-"
"Thank you," Fred huffed. "I think I gathered that on my own." Fred stood up, brushing his uniform off, "I would like to know your name and why you are here."
"Say it with some authority, Fredrick," the man smirked. "Say it like you really mean it."
"I don't take instruction from my professors," Fred laughed, stepping closer. "What makes you think I'll listen to someone impersonating one?"
"Perhaps I was mistaken," the man handed Fred his wand. "You're either brave enough to be a Gryffindor or you really are unintelligent enough to try to challenge me magically."
Fred took his wand out of the imposter's hand, "I'm intelligent enough to know that if I were under Polyjuice, I would keep a store stocked for all sorts of situations, unlike yourself. Seems that you are the unintelligent one," he smirked, wand at the ready.
"I don't think twelve OWLs is anything to scoff at, Fredrick," he watched the ginger boy stand, ready to fight.
"Twelve?" Fred lowered his wand slightly. "Twelve OWLs? Hmm," Fred rubbed his neck with his free hand. "Percy got twelve too."
"Fascinating," the man said, totally unenthused. "How many, out of curiosity, did you receive?"
Fred shuffled uncomfortably, "OWLs really weren't my thing-"
"Oh Fredrick," the man pouted in mock disappointment. "It's not the OWLs that are your problem," he smiled. "It's your constant determination to be something you're not."
"Says the man who won't tell me his name," Fred laughed coldly. "What does it matter about my OWLs?"
"What did you receive your OWLs in, if you did receive any?" the man asked smirking. He watched Fred stalk across the room angrily, pointing his wand into his chest.
"Tell me who you are or I go straight to Dumbledore," Fred whispered threateningly.
The man laughed and whispered back, "Fredrick, you came here for a lesson," he peeled Fred's wand off his chest and raised his own. "And a lesson you will learn."
Fred raised his wand again, "What exactly do you have in mind?"
"You said after class today that you wished to know how to make your stunning spells more effective," he smiled. "I will show you a different spell, a far more useful spell." Fred raised his eyebrow, as if to prompt him to continue. "Well, Fredrick," he flicked his wand. "I am talking about the Cruciatus Curse."
"That's an Unfor-"
"Yes, yes," the man said, still smiling. "A minor technicality. Would you like to know how to use it?"
"Absolutely not," Fred said, hands on his hips. "I would rather be hit with it than learn how to hit others with it."
"Come now, Fredrick," his grin growing wider. "Do you really want me to hit you with a Cruciatus?"
"I stand by what I said," Fred said, putting his wand on the ground.
"What a good little Gryffindor," the man flicked his wand, sending Fred writhing to the floor. He lifted the curse after only a few moments. He bent down next to Fred's heavily breathing body, "How was that, Fredrick?"
Fred reached for his wand and jumped on top of the stranger, straddling his hips, jabbing his wand into his chest, "Maybe I lied."
The man squirmed under Fred's weight, his eyes widening in mock adoration, "What a good little Slytherin." He grabbed on to Fred's hand and jabbed his wand harder into his chest, "You have to mean it, Fredrick."
Fred struggled against his grasp. His grip was firm and there was no getting free. Fred knew he had to cast the curse to even have a chance at an escape, "Crucio!" he said loudly, sending the man beneath him into a fit of violent shaking and suppressed yelling. He let go of Fred's hand slightly, giving Fred the opportunity to break free of his grasp. He went to stand up quickly, when he realized his legs were being held on to.
"One more, Fredrick," the man panted. "Just one more."
"Let go of me," Fred shoved the stranger's shoulders into the office floor. "I don't want to have to do it again."
The man bit his lip, running his hands further up Fred's thigh. Fred jabbed the wand harder into the man's chest, making the stranger laugh quietly, "Fredrick, I didn't know it would be this easy to get you using Cruciatus. Had I only known, we could have skipped that whole conversation beforehand an-"
"Let go of me," Fred demanded, voice shaking slightly. "I promise I won't say anything, but please, just let me go."
"Fredrick, I need to make sure I can trust you," the stranger pulled on Fred's tie and whispered into the twin's ear softly, "I'm going to tell you my name."
"I don't care," Fred wiggled. His main goal was to just get out of the office all together. The stranger pulled him in closer, his warm breath against Fred's cheek.
"My name, Fredrick, is Barty Crouch Jr."
Fred froze, still leaning in, feeling the soft panting against his skin, "Why did you tell me that?"
"Well, Fredrick, it's simple," Barty said whispering softly, "now you can't tell anyone what's happened and if you do, I'll know it was you." He let go of Fred's tie, allowing the twin to straighten up and stumble to his feet.
"Couldn't you have just obliviated me?"
"No," Barty said, half-grin spread upon his face, "where would the fun be in that?"
Fred grabbed on to his head, pacing around the room nervously. He recalled the night that he and George had eavesdropped on the trio, hearing them discuss Barty Crouch Sr and his son. And at the time, he didn't care – he had nothing to worry about. But now! How could he possibly deal with knowing this? He had to go every one of those Defense Against the Dark Arts classes and look at that Polyjuiced face without saying a word. Knowing full well that if he said anything, anything at all, he would be killed.
"Now, Fredrick," Barty strode over to the desk triumphantly. "What's the lesson we learned today?"
Fred looked at his wand and back to Barty. He could send him flying back and possibly stun him long enough to get help. But his three OWLs which Barty had attempted to bring up in conversation haunted his choice. "How to use the Cruciatus Curse."
Barty laughed as he sat back behind his desk, "Lesson of the day: trying to steal from a professor is foolish; trying to steal from a professor like myself? Life threatening."
He huffed immaturely, "How did you know I was here to steal something?"
"Because Fredrick," Barty said folding up the Marauder's Map, stuffing it into a drawer, "I'm brilliant."