RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
Disclaimer: I own nothing in this fiction except the plot idea, and make no money from it. JK Rowling's characters and locations are all hers: Thank you, JKR!
A/N: Okay. This is it. The big one!
CHAPTER 6: TO THE VICTOR
Saturday night, late September, Gryffindor Common Room
The Saturday night party in the Gryffindor common room was in full-swing. The twins had paid a secret visit to Hogsmeade earlier in the day and brought back supplies of drinks, snacks, and Zonko's novelties for the party, supplemented by their own Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. The room was loud, brightly-lit, and full of raucous laughter. In complete defiance of Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four, recently passed by Umbridge, High Inquisitor of Hogwarts, the Gryffindors were gathering together in as big a group as possible and playing as hard as they could.
"She didn't say anything in that Decree of hers about House parties, now did she!" chortled Fred. He kicked his legs over the arm of his comfy chair and gestured with his bottle of butterbeer that Angelina should join him. Giggling, Angela flopped into his lap rather heavily, raising a grunt from Fred and a snort of amusement from George.
"I don't know if I want to sit here, Fred," remarked Angelina. "It's rather lumpy." She squirmed around, pretending to be uncomfortable.
Fred grunted again and muttered, "It's only going to get lumpier if you keep that up!"
George, sitting on a nearby sofa, reached out and clinked his own butterbeer against Angelina's, winking at her. She smirked and took a sip. She lifted her chin towards a corner of the room, where Neville Longbottom, of all people, was currently being chatted up by Gryffindor girls of all ages. Neville's face was flushed red and he was grinning madly, even while his eyes were cast shyly down in puzzled embarrassment.
"What's up with Neville tonight? He's surrounded by women and doesn't know quite what to do! .… mind you, he IS looking rather dashing... I wonder what's different about him?" Angelina asked, her gaze focusing more on the shy fifth-year. George, delighted, leaned over and low-fived Fred briefly, who looked equally pleased with himself.
"Oh, well, he's..." George started to speak but was interrupted by Lee Jordan, who leapt over the back of the sofa and landed with an undulating thud next to him. He clinked his bottle against George's, passed around a bag of Bertie Bott's Every-Flavour Beans, and said, "Oi, guys, great party! And check that out, you don't see that every day! Neville is Man of the Hour right now!"
Fred and George nodded with self-satisfied looks on their faces.
Angelina's eyebrows rose as she noticed the twins' smug expressions. "Are you two are part of this? What did you do to poor Neville?"
Lee laughed, chewing a hot dog-flavoured bean with relish. He swallowed and asked, "Angelina, does Neville look like he's feeling 'poorly' to you?"
Alicia Spinnet came and sat next to Lee, squishing him over so she could sit between him and George. "Neville is looking fine to me! Just fine!" Her eyes twinkled as she looked over at Neville appreciatively.
"Is he, now?" asked George, pretending to take notes with imaginary parchment and quill. "Can you put a finger on what it is about him that seems appealing?"
Alicia gave Neville the once over again, then pursed her lips thoughtfully as she dug around in Lee's bag of beans, selecting a dark brown one. She popped it in her mouth. "Mmmm, beefcake!" she exclaimed. She turned to George. "I don't know what it is, really. Neville just … looks good! He's easy on the eyes tonight. I can't stop ogling him!"
George high-fived Fred again, who threw back his head and laughed. Lee looked from one grinning twin to the other and sat up a little straighter. "Okay, you two," he said. "Spill it. Last I knew you two were floundering around outside the library after Hermione got threatened by Pince. Did you actually manage to get the Ogle Fruits recipe?"
The twin grins simply widened even further as Alicia and Angelina asked together, "What Ogle Fruits recipe?"
"You sly dogs!" Lee was grinning like mad. "That's brilliant! You did get the Ogle Fruits recipe! Why didn't you tell me sooner?"
Again the girls said, "What Ogle Fruits recipe?"
Fred rolled his eyes skyward, pursing his lips as he tried to look serious. "What say you, George - should we tell them?"
George pondered for just a second or two as he swigged from his bottle. He nodded. "Yep, let's tell 'em. After all, Lee played a crucial role in our being able to accomplish this. He certainly deserves to know, and the girls, well, shucks," he winked. "They've been our friends forever."
"Darn right we have," said Angelina. She squirmed around as she settled herself more firmly in Fred's lap, enjoying the pained whimpers her movements elicited. "Spill it."
George leaned closer and, resting his elbows on his knees, began to speak quietly, causing Alicia and Lee to automatically lean forward to hear him over the noise of the party. Fred and Angelina bent closer too.
"First let me summarize. We've been trying to get hold of a particular book from the Restricted Section for ages, as it had a sweets recipe in it we wanted to try for Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes."
Fred added, "But, we got banned from the library for being honest, so we had to jump through a lot of hoops to make it possible for Hermione to ask for the book for us."
"Unfortunately, Madam Pince threatened Hermione with the same fate she gave us, so we were left hanging high and dry." George narrowed his eyes and took several gulps from his butterbeer.
Fred said, "We decided to do what we do best – be creative, cunning and clever – and get that book ourselves."
"How?" asked Angelina.
George grinned at her. "With the help of our friend Polly."
"Polly? Polly who?"
Saturday evening, two weeks prior
The Polyjuice Potion was hiding in the back of the drawer of George's bedside table, just where they'd left it. They'd used half of one of the bottles for Fred's Filch impersonation but there was still enough left, they hoped, for their plan. The other small bottle was still inactive, as it hadn't had the essential ingredient added yet: a hair from Madam Pince.
George lifted out both vials. Fred, meanwhile, was rummaging through his trunk for the manky old boots and old dress robes they'd used to make the Filch costume. He found them both – Oh good, I thought we'd given these robes back to Ron - and threw them on George's bed.
"There's your costume, George," Fred announced. "And these," he flourished a rather feminine-looking set of old-fashioned black school robes, "are going to be my Pince robes for the evening."
"Good ol' Ginny came through, heh? Excellent. She's so much more helpful than ickle Ronniekins."
"Yeah, Mum had given them to her. Hell if I know why, d'ya think Ginny would be caught dead wearing these? But they do look like Pince's robes. And, at least it will be at night, and Pince and Filch will both be out in Hogsmeade." Fred mused. "We don't have to be completely convincing. Who the heck's going to care?"
"Yeah, but she's probably going to be torturing some poor student in her office with that Blood Quill of hers tonight. She won't be hanging around the library."
"Good point! Put on your costume, I'll put on mine! It's almost eight. We've got a library to pillage!"
Back at the party...
"Wait a minute, you two broke into the library – dressed as Filch and Pince?" asked Alicia, her mouth agape.
"Au contraire, dear Alicia! Not dressed as Filch and Pince – we became Filch and Pince!" George wagged his finger. "That's how Polyjuice works!"
"Blimey..." Lee looked thoughtfully at Fred.
"What?" Fred asked.
"How was it? You know... being Pince? Is she as wrinkly as we suspect? Wait, don't answer that. I don't want that image in my head. How did you get her hair for the Polyjuice potion to work?" Lee queried.
Fred waved that aside. "Actually, that was easy … but first, we had to get inside the library. We snuck down to Filch's office and 'borrowed' his keys, then..."
Outside the library door...
"Clear. No one coming."
Fred rattled the door. "Locked," he affirmed.
George took out the small vial of Filchified Polyjuice Potion, pulled the stopper, and drained the contents in one go. He shuddered violently. Fred watched in horrified fascination as his brother's cheerful (and undoubtedly handsome, Fred thought) features transformed into the unsettling visage of Argus Filch, Hogwarts Caretaker and permanent thorn in the Weasley twins' sides. At the same time his body morphed into Filch's thin, humpbacked, crooked figure. Already wearing the disgusting dress robes Fred had used before, George was a sight to behold.
"How do I look?" George/Filch rasped.
"Wicked." George grinned with Filch's greying teeth. He was amazed at how arthritic, clumsy and awkward he felt in the caretaker's ancient body. Crikey, this sucks, he thought to himself. Then he remembered that Fred would soon take on the appearance of Pince. He smirked. This is so worth it.
Taking the borrowed keyring from his robe pocket, George/Filch shambled over to the door lock and fumbled with the keys until he found one that fit. The door creaked open, and he gave Fred a thumbs-up.
Together, the boys carefully entered the library, half-expecting an alarm to sound or a net to fall upon them. They wouldn't have put it past Madam Pince to have the place booby-trapped against their presence. Nothing happened, so the first order of business was to get Fred changed into the librarian. Fred cast Lumos to light his wand, and they approached her desk, George limping and Fred looking particularly uncomfortable in the too-short women's robes he was wearing.
"Why do I have to change into Pince, again?" He hoped he could find a flaw in George's reasons.
"Because," George muttered, as he opened and closed drawers. "You need to look like you belong here, in case Snape or Umbridge or some other annoying authority figure happens along." He looked carefully at the desk chair. "Fred and George Weasley are banned from the library, remember?" He peered at the sweater hanging on the back of the chair and gave a sudden, hoarse cry of triumph as he plucked a hair out of the grey knitted yarn.
Unfortunately for him, his yelp set off a frightening coughing fit that had him hacking and wheezing over the wastepaper bin for a good five minutes. George finally got control of his breathing again, but he'd lost the hair. Luckily, the sweater was full of other white hairs that had escaped from the dour librarian's bun, so it was quick work to secure another.
Fred, resigned to getting in touch with his feminine side, uncorked the little bottle of undoctored Polyjuice, dropped the hair into it, and once it stopped fizzing, saluted George with it and took a healthy swig.
"Eeeeyugh! Pince tastes like … like... library paste!" he gagged, then felt himself shrinking in height and size, his face beginning to pinch and a permanent scowl forming on his brow. His hair whitened and lengthened, and suddenly the world looked quite fuzzy. He squinted around, and suddenly heard muffled gruntings from next to the desk.
"George? I can't see very well, where are you?" Fred/Pince clapped his hands over his mouth as he heard the distinctly unpleasant voice of the librarian issuing forth.
Meanwhile, George/Filch was trying desperately not to fly into a fit of hysterical laughter. Watching his brother shrink and morph into a female was funny in its own right, but to see him become the nasty old crone that was Madam Pince was a riot. George/Filch finally lost control of his mirth and let loose a loud braying laugh when Fred/Pince, fumbling around with outstretched hands, tripped over the wastepaper bin and fell to the floor, cursing a blue streak.
"Fred!" he gasped, hands on knees, wheezing and spitting as he tried to regain composure. "I don't think Madam Pince would ever really say 'Wanking fucking bollocks'. Try to stay in character, would you?"
Fred/Pince got to his feet and scowled in George/Filch's general direction. He threw the two-fingered salute his way for good measure, earning himself another quick burst of chuckles from his twin.
"Damn it, I can't see, George! The old bat must really need those glasses! Help me out here, I can't get around!"
George paused to hawk up some phlegm and spit it into the bin, then he began to paw around in the librarian's sweater some more.
"Hold on, bro, I think I've found... yeah, here they are. Must be her spare set of specs." He lurched over to his brother and put the glasses, which were on a chain, around Fred's neck. Fred immediately grabbed them and put them on. They slid naturally to the end of his nose, and he found he was finally able to see clearly, peering through them like the nearsighted vulture Pince so often resembled.
"Transformation complete." George/Filch remarked.
"Shut up." Fred/Pince snarled. He reached down to scratch himself and suddenly was horrified to realize …
"My balls are gone!" he shrieked. Instinctively, he pulled the robes up to look down at his very Pince-y crotch, the sight of which made him recoil in terror and he fell over the wastepaper bin again.
George/Filch's eyes popped open in shared horror and revulsion for an instant, and then the increased hilarity of the situation struck George and he collapsed over the edge of the desk, snorting so loudly in his laughter that he couldn't stand up.
"That's … not all... that's missing... Freddie!" he gurgled.
Fred climbed to his feet and after casting a strong Stinging Hex at George's nether regions, stalked off through the library shelves. The resultant Yipe! this elicited from George/Filch was satisfyingly pained.
At least Pince is quite spry, he was pleased to note. Not like that git Filch, the walking corpse. He quickly out-paced his Filch-y brother.
"Come on, you sodding arsehole, we've wasted enough time as it is. We've got to get this done quickly! Keep up!" he called back over his shoulder.
George, whimpering from the Stinging Hex but unable to stop giggling, limped off after his brother. Tears were running down his face, snot dangled from his Filch nose, and he was enjoying himself immensely.
In the common room...
Lee was laughing uproariously, slumped all the way down on the sofa, legs outstretched, tears running down his face as he clutched his belly. Alicia and Angelina were both shrieking with glee, while George grinned toothily at Fred who sat stoically in the midst of the mirth. He drained his butterbeer bottle and rolled it across the floor to join its brothers in the growing pile of empties near the fireplace.
"Oh, sure. You laugh now. Someday, you'll all look back at this day and feel terrible that you took the piss out of my misfortune."
Lee wiped tears from his face as he said, "Man! Come on! You lost your balls! Not to mention your -"
"All right!" Fred snapped. "Geez. Would someone please get me another butterbeer?"
Alicia hopped up, smiling. "I think we could all use another round. Be right back." She weaved around rowdy Gryffindors as she headed to the drinks table to grab five more bottles.
Fred continued to grumble for a moment, but then looked up at Angelina, who was still seated in his lap, and winked. "Everything's back to normal now though, isn't it, Ang?"
Angelina ruffled his hair. "You got that right, Freddie-me-love." She smiled saucily and then thanked Alicia as she took the drink her friend proffered her.
Lee waggled his eyebrows, raised his bottle in a silent salute to Fred's complete recovery, and then turned back to George. "So, what happened next? How did you get into the Restricted Section?"
Alicia echoed his question, and George, who had been fiddling with the label on his bottle, cleared his throat and continued his tale.
"Well, Fred/Pince was walking ahead of me, right? So I ..."
In the library near the Restricted Section...
Fred/Pince felt a breeze on his legs. Then he felt it again. By the third time, he whipped around, glaring at George/Filch, who stood frozen in place with his wand guiltily upraised, his mouth open. The brothers stared at each other for a moment, then...
"Ventus," George/Filch whispered, rheumy eyes twinkling. The bottom of Fred/Pince's robe flipped up in the air once again.
"Stop. Playing. With. My. Robes!" Fred/Pince hissed.
"I can't help it, those librarian's legs of yours really get my manacles in a knot!" wheezed George/Filch.
"You need serious help, George. Seriously." Fred about-faced and stomped off towards the back of the library. He halted in front of the Restricted Section entrance. Here he pondered the innocent-appearing rope.
George/Filch caught up and clutched his chest as he looked at the rope, then Fred/Pince.
"Okay, Fred," he wheezed, hoarsely. "I'm done yanking your chain. You watched what Pince did at closing time. You're the expert here. What did she do?"
Fred/Pince pursed his lips, looking over the top of his spectacles and tapped his wand against his knee. He crossed his arms over his chest in thought, but was distracted for a moment when he realized that though he'd temporarily lost his family jewels, he'd gained a not half-bad pair of breasts. He started to squeeze them a little, but froze a second later. What am I doing? This is Pince! I'll never live this down if George catches me. He lowered his arms and aimed his lit wand at the rope.
"Pince cast some wards around the entrance, I remember. I wonder if they react to everyone trying to pass through, or if Pince would be allowed past without harm."
"I wonder if Filch would be exempt too?" George/Filch mused.
The brothers looked at each other's Polyjuiced faces. Their sour expressions broke into impish grins.
"Let's find out!"
Fred/Pince gripped the rope with one gnarled, feminine hand and, breathing out slowly, unhitched it from its hook and let it fall to the side.
"On the count of three. One..."
"THREE!" the brothers yelled as they leapt side-by-side into the Restricted Section.
The boys opened their eyes, not realized they'd closed them, and looked around. There were no flashing lights, no alarms, no magical traps being sprung.
"Hunh. Well, that's..."
George scanned the signs on the shelves. "Come on, we are reaching the end of our Polyjuice time. We need to find Lockhart's collection."
"Let's split up. First one to find Lockhart's stuff gets to eat the first Ogle Fruit."
George/Filch limped left, Fred/Pince scuttled right, each moving as fast as he could in his borrowed body. They scanned the shelf labels as they went, having to resist the great temptation to investigate the books. Time was of the essence and they had to find their prize.
It was Fred/Pince who found the Lockhart Collection, stowed away in six mauve and purple boxes on a bottom shelf near the back of the Restricted Section. He giggled and hummed to himself as he pulled the boxes out one by one, checking the contents, and shoving them back.
The Joye of Snacks was in the fifth box. Fred/Pince plucked it out with a cry of triumph. The book felt warm, alive, and imbued with sensual promise. On the cover was an illustration of a very pretty witch wearing only an apron, a chef's hat, and a brilliant smile.
Opening the book, Fred/Pince quickly scanned the table of contents. Yes, the "Ogle Fruits" recipe was there, on page 71. He punched the air in victory, which caused the book's pages to flip to the checkout card at the front of the book. His eyes fell to the list of names and there, to his surprise and satisfaction, he saw one very telling name: "Molly Prewett".
Well I'll be damned. Fred/Pince grinned hugely. I've just learned two things. One: that git Lockhart stole this book from the Hogwarts Library originally. Figures! And two: Mum herself checked this book out! No WONDER she didn't want George and me to know anything about it! This is brilliant!
Fred/Pince closed the book, still grinning, and examined the pretty witch on the cover again. She kept winking and puckering her lips at him. He held it up to his nearsighted eyes, gazing at it through Pince's spectacles, and he had a sudden urge to snog the volume. Giving in to the compulsion he pulled it forward and kissed the book's cover.
The book immediately latched onto his lips and nose and wouldn't let go. Alarmed, Fred/Pince yanked and tugged at it, grunting and straining to release its grip. He was thrashing around, banging against the shelves and rapidly losing oxygen. As he began to black out, he dreamily thought hey, I've met the girl of my dreams.
Just then he was roused by a liver-spotted hand clamping down on his shoulder. An identical hand grabbed the book and pulled hard, releasing the seal it had formed around his mouth and lips with a sound like a cork coming out of a champagne bottle. Gasping for air, Fred/Pince looked up into the horrible, scowling face of Filch.
For a disconcerting moment he thought it was the real Filch, until the old man in front of him broke into a wide, grey-toothed grin and asked, "Are you done snogging your new girlfriend? Because I'd really like to get the hell out of here!"
"Thanks, George!" Fred/Pince panted. "Let's go!"
He shoved the last box back onto the shelf as George/Filch stuffed the book into a pocket, and the two of them ran for the exit. The Polyjuice potion was rapidly wearing off, and they just had time to re-hook the Restricted Section rope before they finished transforming back into their 17-year-old selves. The rope sparked briefly as Fred's now-normal hand let go. He had the feeling they had narrowly avoided a nasty hex or curse.
They silently high-fived each other and tiptoed to the library entrance. They checked that everything had been replaced in its usual location, including the hapless wastepaper bin. They let themselves out, locked the door behind them, and then split up. George ran down to Filch's office to return the keys, while Fred high-tailed it back to Gryffindor tower with the book stuffed down the back of his trousers under the robes.
Once they were both back in their room, they hugged each other with abandon, doing a jig and whooping it up like loons. It was well-deserved joy; they had, at long last, acquired their prize.
The Gryffindor common room again, many bottles of butterbeer later...
"That's... amazing. You two have the luck of the devil. TWIN devils. You have to tell us the entire story in detail someday!" Alicia said, shaking her head in admiration for her friends' daring.
Lee had a lopsided grin on his face and he held his hand out to each twin in turn for a slap. Angelina eyed the two boys with a more calculating expression on her face.
"So this Ogle Fruit recipe was in there?" she asked.
"Oh yeah, and lots of others that look good too. You know, it is actually ridiculously easy, when you get right down to it," bragged Fred. "We were able to make the Ogle Fruits up no problem at all."
"How? Where? When?" Angelina pressed.
Fred tapped her on the end of the nose. "Now, love, we can't give away all our secrets!" Angelina shook his hand off irritably and turned to George.
"George, come on now, how were you able to ..." she began. George held a hand up.
"Angelina, really, someday we'll tell you, but for now, we'd like to keep things on the Q-T. For Wheezes research purposes and trade secrets and all that jazz." He blinked at her. "You seem a little upset, Ang, why?"
Angelina huffed in frustration. "I think you boys – more to the point, you, Fred, tested them out on me in class the other day." She shook a finger at Fred. "Don't tell me you didn't! Everyone was fawning all over you, pushing me aside. They were even groping you! I actually saw McGonagall giving you the once-over with her eyes! And worse, I couldn't drag myself away from the crowd around you even though I wanted to! I was drawn in just like everyone else. It was not a great feeling!" She bit her lip. " I felt terribly jealous and possessive and I am not that kind of person." She glowered at Fred. "I didn't like it!"
Fred shifted Angelina on his lap, looking uncomfortable. "Yeah, well... actually, I did try them out." She glared and he held his hands up in a 'what am I to do?' gesture. "That was our arrangement! I found the book first so I got to try them out! You know we always test new products on ourselves first!"
George chimed in, "I'm sorry, Ang... It was our first batch, and it ended up twice as potent as we'd been planning for the Weasleys' Ogle Fruit concoction. They enhance your pheromone production to make people attracted to you. We toned it down considerably for the latest batch." He indicated a smiling Neville with a sweep of his hand, around whom by now the crowd had largely dissipated except for a few smiling stragglers. One cheek showed the clear outline of a set of lips. Some daring girl had apparently given him a smooch earlier. On the whole, Neville looked quite satisfied with how the evening had gone.
Fred said, "See? Neville volunteered to be a beta tester for us, and you saw, he was being treated more like an interesting, cute guy - not like me the other day, being mauled like some major wizard rock star." He grinned as he remembered his own experience. Angelina cleared her throat. Fred quickly put on a serious expression. George rolled his eyes and spoke again.
"It wasn't meant to be anything, we were just trying them out like every new product, Ang. They work great now, producing increased, but not overpowering, interest for about an hour, then the effect gently subsides."
Angelina looked from one earnest expression to the other, then smiled, hugged Fred and gave him a peck on the cheek, and jumped up. "Okay. I won't hold it against you. I'm heading to bed now, it's been a long night."
Alicia got up too. "I'll come up with you, I'm bushed. See you boys later! Thanks for the entertainment and the party. It was wicked." The girls departed.
Lee's face split in half as he yawned loudly. "I'm calling it a night too. Great stuff guys, and congratulations. I want to be the next beta tester, all right?" He grinned and headed up the stairs to their room.
Fred and George were left alone. George was peeling another butterbeer label, while Fred was rolling an empty bottle back and forth on the floor with one foot. After a few contemplative moments, he spoke up.
"Do you think I should have told Angelina that what I'd used that day was actually our second batch of Ogle Fruits, and that we'd doubled its strength on purpose to see what would happen?"
George raised an eyebrow at his twin and shook his head adamantly.
"Not on your life, sport. Not on your life."
~ FIN ~
Well, there you have it! Fred and George survived their ordeal and achieved their goal: finding their recipe for success.
Thanks for reading! Please let me know what you think. I had a great time playing with Fred and George. I hope to have them over to play again soon.
Umbridge's Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four: "All Student Organisations, Societies, Teams, Groups, and Clubs are henceforth disbanded. An Organisation, Society, Team, Group, or Club is hereby defined as a regular meeting of three or more students.