For things that don't exist; I mean beginnings.
Ends and beginnings - there are no such things.
There are only middles. Robert Frost
By the ORDER of the MUGGLE-BORN REGISTRATION COMMISSION:
All half-breeds (part- or full-blooded mer-people, giants, vampires, warlocks, banshees) and unnatural beings (identical twins, werewolves) MUST present themselves for questioning by the Department for the Regulation and Control of Creatures. Failure to comply before 25 November will result in imprisonment or death.
Umbridge's first major order since the Educational Decrees in Hogwarts was issued on the day Lee's family was murdered.
He was working with the twins now, trying at night to set up a radio station that he was sure would never get off the ground in the present political environment, which was Lee's way of saying he had been taken off the air twice since trying to get a time slot and sent not-so-subtle messages that any further involvement would lead to dire consequences.
"I can't do it here." Lee said one night, lifting a package to its place on a high shelf. George was on his back on the floor, one arm thrown over his head. Lee wondered, vaguely, if he was aware he was covering the hole that used to be his ear. Fred came over and kicked him until they were both lying flat with arms thrown over their heads. Identical to the last freckle.
"Can't do what here?" George demanded sleepily, yawning. Fred leaned over and poked the spot where his ear used to be, causing George to bolt upright and lay directly across his brother, affectively pinning him to the ground.
"I can't do my radio station." Lee had acquired patience over many years of dealing with the twins. Fred and George had the attention spans of goldfish when it came to things they didn't deem worthy, but he knew anything he had to say would be heard, recorded, listened to when they had a few seconds away from scheming their next plan.
It took several minutes of wrestling before Fred rolled over onto his stomach, face serious. "Why not? And don't say you're worried about getting us in trouble. We're blood-traitors, mate, we're in trouble as it is."
Lee literally growled in frustration and threw himself into a nearby chair, staring morosely at the pile of Pygmy Puffs. "I'm trying to save you two from even more trouble. You're already harboring a Mudblood, which I believe is life sentence in Azkaban at the moment."
"Hey!" Both Weasleys said at the same time, picking themselves up with identical looks of outrage plastered across their faces. "Don't call yourself a Mudblood!" Fred yelled at the same time that George said, in a voice more rational than Fred's "You don't even know if you are a Mudblood."
"It doesn't matter, Fred." Lee said, "Really, it doesn't. I don't care about the name anymore – it doesn't mean anything to me, and George," He flicked his gaze to the other boy. "There's a good chance I am a Mudblood. My mum remarried and she refuses to tell me who my biological father is. No one else in my family is a wizard…" Lee shrugged. "It doesn't hurt me any, but I won't let it endanger you two."
"Come off it, Lee." When the twins were serious, someone who'd known them for a while, like their brothers, like Lee, could tell my their voices, which dropped in volume and pitch and were gentler, smoother, "We're among the most-wanted, too --"
"Don't you think the Ministry knows –"
"That our family actually believes Harry and Dumbledore –"
"Even if they are both old bats?"
"See?" This was Fred. It had taken Lee all of two minutes to learn how to tell the twins apart (really, how could you mix them up? George was rational, quieter, good with money. Fred was…not) and he'd always been a little proud to be able to pull off a feat that, as far as he could tell, only the other Weasley brothers (certainly not their parents) and Harry could perform.
But Fred continued, "We're in this together, Lee. That radio station in important. Someone needs to get out accurate information --"
"Without scaring half the country away." George continued, then glanced at the clocks that hung over the door. One told time – it was very late – and the other was a replica of the Weasley family clock at the Burrow. Every one of the hands pointed at 'mortal peril'.
Lee followed the man's gaze and stood up, thinking of home, where his mother and brother were waiting. He turned to the twins and looked at the clock again.
"No signs of Ron, then?" He knew that Fred and George had assumed the duty of haphazardly caring for Ron, in their own way. He knew that they'd somehow helped him avoid the now-stringent Truancy laws, enabling him to go with Harry.
Fred started at the mention of his younger brother's name, but then said, in a voice as hollow as Lee could remember, "Not since the thing at the Ministry, and that was ages ago."
"At least Harry's not dead." George muttered, "We'd know if that happened. There's always hope. Those three are fighters."
"Yeah." They were silent for a moment, and Lee was remembering the other times he'd seen his friends like this, scared for their family but helpless to do much more than try to help with a few laughs. Like when Ginny had been taken down into the Chamber of Secrets, or all the times Ron had been injured by helping Harry. Like when they'd realized one of their products had helped to hurt their oldest brother, who they so admired.
Or…Lee shuddered from either the memory or the cold breeze coming through the door. November was announcing herself early, it seemed…when Lee had run into the shop one day in July, summoned by a distressed Fred. He'd walked in on a harassed-looking, one-eared George. "Anyone want to explain to me what happened?" But he was staring at Fred. Lee thought later that he might have been the only one who'd noticed the expression of intense vulnerability spread so plainly across Fred's features. The only person other than George, who knew his brother so well they were sometimes mistaken to be, bizarrely, the same person.
"Aren't you heading home, Lee? We'll finish up here." George flashed Lee a knowing smile, which Lee did his best to return before heading out the door. Most nights he stayed with the twins in their flat above the shop, because it was convenient, because he didn't want to impose on his mother and step-father, who often took in wayward people for nights or weeks on end.
His mother, the saint. Lee couldn't begin to count the number of nights he'd been woken up by his mother, asking him if he couldn't set up the cots in the basement, there were some people who needed their help.
When Lee did venture home, usually on Saturday nights, he'd stay in his old room, which he now shared with Julian. Julian had been born during Lee's second year of Hogwarts and though the two were, technically, only half-brothers and only saw each other during breaks, Lee was very fond of the young boy, who showed absolutely no signs of magic but was still extremely interested in all things Hogwarts, especially the joke shop.
"Yeah, I'm going home." He stood up, began heading to the back of the shop where he had left the radio he would probably never have reason to use again. It sat next to a box of older jokes, half-broken. "Mind if I take these with me? Julian will get a kick out of them."
"Go ahead." The twins said in unison. Lee performed a simple spell to make the boxes feather-light before meeting the brothers back out in the main show room. Both Weasleys had their wands out (Lee had never seen wands as identical or as pure white as Fred and George's) and were in the process of locking up the shop.
"Meet us at the Leaky Cauldron tomorrow?" George asked. Lee had his back to the door, pressing it open with his weight. He nodded, smiled, waved once, and vanished twenty meters from the front door of Weasley Wizard Wheezes.
Diagon Alley was dark, quiet, at one o' clock in the morning. When Lee Apparated onto the lawn of his old, secluded house, he was bombarded by the noise, by the sights and smells of anarchy in progress.
Since we started on Fanfiction, we've wanted to write a story that was solely and completely about the twins. This idea crept up on us in the usual way... "What if?" What if Umbridge held a grudge against the twins? What if she designed an Order just for them? What if Lee got caught in the middle?
Coming off our last story, we're on a kind of high, so reviews and critiques would be appreciated, for nothing other than to bring us down to Earth.