The angry shouting of Harry Potter alerted us to his arrival better than if we'd seen him arrive. If you asked my mother he was not only Ron's best mate but also our surrogate brother. Nobody'd asked us if that's how we thought of him, but I guess we already have so many brothers that one more hardly matters. Harry's one more person to prank on a regular basis without feeling guilt or remorse, so we're okay with that. Plus, we can't exactly be impartial to the bloke who gave us quite a bit of money to start a joke shop, and who also just so happens to be the savior of the wizarding world, now can we? So yeah, Harry's pretty fun to prank. No guilt with family! Not that we can even feel guilt. Actually, I'm pretty sure we're immune to it. Although Hermione, our little brother Ron's other best friend, sure tries to induce that particular feeling in us. And fails. Really gets on our nerves sometimes, that one.
We had been simultaneously working on some of our new joke products and brainstorming ways to spy on the Order meetings, trying to find the Extendable Ears that Mum hadn't already confiscated. Which wasn't exactly fair as we are of age. But there's no arguing with Mum when she gets her mind set on something. Whether it be banning our products or banning us from the Order. And nobody can change her mind, not even Dad. We had heard them arguing over it just the other night:
"They're still in school, Arthur, we can't possibly allow them to join the Order," Mum said with equal parts frustration and concern as we slid our extendable ears under the kitchen door.
"Yes," Dad interrupted sternly, "but they are of age. Plus, what with the Ministry…"
"They're not still thinking of implementing that," Mum asked quietly, obviously in shock. Naturally, this peaked our curiosity.
"Not only that, but they've almost gotten it pushed through the ministry,"
"Surely Fudge wouldn't," Mum insisted. Dad sighed heavily.
"Fudge is a wild card at this point: there's no telling what he'll do. He's already infiltrated Hogwarts, for Merlin's sake."
"But…" Mum was sounding slightly panicked now, "surely Dumbledore wouldn't allow…""There's nothing he can do, my dear," Dad insisted gravely.
"But our boys, Arthur, our poor boys," Mum sobbed disconsolately. This also peaked our curiosity, and it didn't even take our supremely awesome sleuthing skills to know with absolute certainty that the ministry was up to no good.
"It'll be okay, Mollywobbles," Dad comforted, completely throwing us for a loop. We looked at each other in shock and disgust as odd noises floated from the kitchen…like someone was being snogged. Realization hit with alarming force as we scrambled backwards and avoided each other's gaze. This was not something one wanted to hear in relation to one's mother. Apparently we were being loud and obnoxious, what with the gagging and all. To our dismay, Mum burst through the door.
"What have you two been doing," she asked loudly with her eyes narrowed and her hands on her hips.
"Er…nothing," we stammered, thrown off guard by the knowledge of what our parents had been doing moments before and our getting caught unexpectedly. We tried to hide the flesh-colored Extendable Ears in our pockets. Mum's eyes flashed angrily.
"Give me those," she grabbed them herself, making her request unnecessary and pointless. "Honestly, when will the two of you grow up? You want me to treat you like adults but then you go and pull a stunt like this!"
"Well maybe," I said angrily, "we wouldn't have to,"
"Pull 'stunts like these,'" my twin continued.
"If you'd let us join the Order!" We finished together.
"You're still in school," Mum hissed, "and you certainly act like it, too," at this point we stopped listening to Mum innumerate our many faults. We'd heard it all before. Paying strict attention would lead to depression, certainly not something we'd allow. Suddenly Dad stepped out of the kitchen and joined us in the gloomy corridor. I watched him curiously, was Dad finally going to stand up for our rights? But Dad's face was emotionless with shock.
"Dumbledore just flooed. Harry," he continued simply, "has been attacked by Dementors." We all shuddered as if the horrible beasts were actually in the room with us instead of far away attacking innocent young boys. Mum's eye's became teary.
"Is he alright?" Mum asked with bated breath.
"What?" Dad asked distractedly, "Oh, yes, he's just fine now. Figg had to give away her cover, and his cousin is probably scarred for life, but I suppose everyone is fine. But, Molly, he had to cast a patronus." Mum blanched. Fred and I watched on with concern, apparently Mum and Dad had forgotten we were there to speak so openly.
"He had to use magic! But the ministry,"
"Has expelled him," Dad explained angrily, Mum looked ready to faint, Fred and I were murderous. "But Dumbledore's on the case. I swear there's nothing that man can't do." Suddenly Mum realized we were listening to the conversation with interest. This not only concerned our adopted brother, but was also the most information we'd gotten since we'd arrived at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place.
"What are you two doing," she shrieked, "get up to bed immediately and don't let me catch you snooping again!"
"Yes, Mum," we chorused, heading up to bed. And adding, but only in our minds, 'we won't let you catch us!'
I glanced over at Fred as Harry's angry voice screamed through the house, yelling at Ron and Hermione. It was more than a little strange, to be honest. It was usually Ron and Hermione yelling at each other and Harry playing peacekeeper. I give it 10 years for them to get married, but Fred only gives it 5. If you ask me that's a little young to be getting married, but Fred insists that the suppressed passion behind their arguments will build and build until…well, you get the picture. Personally I wish someone would obliviate that particular picture from my mind. It's not exactly something I want to think about. At least, not about my goofy, gangly little brother and his bushy-haired, know-it-all friend. As for us, well, I suspect we'll be happy bachelors all our lives. And hopefully own a very successful joke shop.
Fred inclined his head slightly, and in the way of twins I knew exactly what he meant. We apparated into the boy's room within milliseconds o each other, still holding the newly found (or re-found, depending on how you look at it) Extendable Ears. As usual, our presence dissolved the tension in the room.
Harry's arrival helped to break up the monotony somewhat. For one thing, we finally got included in some Order secrets. Although, needing a fifth year to arrive in order to finally get any information when you've been spying around fro weeks and are technically adults, irks somewhat. Plus, we got him to tell us about the dementor attack. I only wish I could see his fat oaf of a cousin try to punch one out like Harry's stupid walrus-ey Uncle suggested.
It wasn't until later in the week, though, that things got really interesting. Both of our pockets were filled to the brim with mysterious liquids, powders, and creams. We weren't exactly sure what all of them were, but they'd probably work out great in some product or other of ours. And that was how Dad found us. Opening a door off the hallway a crack, making sure we were alone, then ushering us in with a hurried and paranoid wave of his hand.
"Er, Dad," Fred began.
"We're not sure what this is about," I continued.
"But if it's mysterious,""And possibly illegal,"
"We're in!" Our grins were identical and devious.
"No, no," Dad waved our words away with distracted impatience, "this is important. Ministry business."
"We don't' want to," I huffed.
"Hear about the bloody Ministry,"And their crackpot prat of a Minister,"
"I know lately the Ministry's been a bit…" Dad sighed, trailing off.
"Yes," Dad sighed again, "but at it's base it's,""Stupid, moronic,"
"Idiotic, and blind?"
Dad's eyes closed as if calling on deep stores of patience within. Fred and I exchanged a worried glance. Maybe we should go easy on Dad for awhile: it hasn't exactly been a good time for him lately. We both grabbed Dad's arms. As we led him gently over to the couch I noticed for the first time that we are now about the same size. Dad sank deep into the cushions wearily. If I ever run into Percy, that git, I'm going to kill him. Or at least jinx him within an inch of his life. And I won't be the only one, either. His departure from the family has been difficult on Mum and Dad to say the least.
"Boys," Dad started, "there's been talk at the ministry of a new…set of guidelines. They'll be aimed at a good portion of people, including you two." Dad rubbed his forehead wearily.
"So what?" Fred asked.
"When have we ever listened to those gits, anyways," I asked, confused. Dad stared up at the ceiling as if praying for strength or some sort of divine intervention. We often have that affect on people, especially when we're together.
"We think," he paused, "that their main goal is to draw support away from Dumbledore and fighting the Ministry. All in a very roundabout way, of course.""Don't worry," I watched him with concern: Dad is rarely this downcast. I looked around for something muggle to distract him with.
"We'll never," Fred was also glancing around the room with a similar purpose.
"Let the Ministry," I continued, eyeing a strange device in the corner.
"Control us," we finished together, deciding the device was definitely magical.
"You might not have that choice," Dad insisted.
"We'll just ignore the stupid Ministry 'guidelines,'" I interrupted, but Dad just shook his head morosely. Fred jerked his head away from his renewed search sharply to watch Dad.
"There's been talk," he said carefully, "of punishments," he waited for a reaction, "severe punishments." Our faces remained identically impassive. Dad sighed for the umpteenth time. "Azkaban," he added. With that one word our stubbornness melted away, our newfound adulthood fled, and we were just two kids looking to our Dad for guidance."What are these so-called 'guidelines,'" Fred wondered with a audible quaver in his voice.
"Anti-Order rules," I guessed.
"Like I said: it's pretty roundabout. It's true meaning is covered up with a bunch of Ministry nonsense," Dad explained. "But I can't tell you what they are," Dad held up a hand to stifle our annoyed splutters, "word of this can't leave the room. I'll tell your older brothers when they're back from…er. Anyway, you'll find out soon enough once you're back at school, I suppose. Just remember to think of this not as ruining your lives but as expanding your futures." We stared at him.
"What did you do, swallow a muggle Hallmark store?" Fred rolled his eyes.
"A what?" Dad wondered excitedly, his eyes wide.
"Er…a store muggles go to buy cheesy sayings, or something like that. We overheard Hermione telling Rom," I explained. Whenever the two of them went off alone we followed closely behind, hoping to catch them doing something incriminating. So far all we'd learned was that our brother, bless him, is absolutely hopeless with girls as well as blind. As his older brothers we could either help him out or watch his antics with amusement. Guess which one we chose.
"Really?" Dad asked, totally fascinated, a glazed faraway look in his eyes. With that I knew we had succeeded in distracting Dad from whatever was bothering him. Unfortunately that came at the cost of further knowledge on the strange new Ministry 'guidelines' that were so mysterious and well-enforced. The whole situation felt horribly like last year when Dad and Percy, the git, knew what was going on with the Triwizard Tournament and dropped hints left right and center but didn't really tell us anything.
"Dad," I started, but Fred cut me off with a sharp look. This was odd because we're normally on the same page. I returned his gaze with a pointedly questioning look and he nodded towards Dad's happily oblivious visage. Oh, so apparently Fred wants to play the nice guy for once. I rolled my eyes and we continued on our way, much more confused than before, back to our room to stash our ill-gotten ingredients in a Mum-free zone.
The remainder of our holiday was okay. Nothing terrific, what with all the forced cleaning and un-infiltrated Order meetings, but nothing too horrible either. Our darling brother Ronniekins and his bushy-haired future wife were made prefects, the only upside to which was the ensuing party. At said party important business connections were made, none of which Mum would entirely approve. Actually, who am I kidding? One connection was made, that being Mundungus. And Mum would go bonkers at the very idea of a joke shop, not even mentioning the lengths we've been going to start it. The other good thing that happened was Harry was cleared of all charges at a hearing. An actual hearing, if you'll believe that. Harry Potter the Boy-Who-Freakin'-Lived went to a full trial, an honor Fred and I have only ever dreamed of, the lucky sod. And, before we knew it, and without much more thought to the Ministry mystery, September the first was upon us.
I saw them enter Platform 9 and ¾ from where I was comfortably seated on the train. The two of them kissing their Mum goodbye despite the catcalls from their friends, looking all innocent and sweet. But I know better. Beneath the two identical faces which many girl's had the audacity to call 'cute,' 'handsome,' or the always disgusting 'mischievous,' lay the very soul of evil. Anyone who'd say otherwise is brainwashed, or…or blackmailed or in some way decieved. Because those two good for nothings, selfish boys are the reason I'm sitting in this compartment. The 'losers' compartment as those compassionate students have come to call it.
I sighed and watched them laugh will Lee Jordan as they neared the train. Lee was no doubt teasing them about their 'little good-bye kiss with Mummy.' Studying them as they came closer I really couldn't make myself hate them, despite my little rant. They weren't evil, really, just shortsighted. The twins couldn't see the effect their pranks had on innocent bystanders, or victims. I was evidence enough of that. And as such I really couldn't bring myself to like them either. With this in mind, I cracked open my window and stuck out my wand tip inconspicuously. Aiming it at one of the two oblivious goons, I muttered a spell under my breath. Immediately the twin, Fred, let out a loud hiccup. My work done, I closed the window, cracked open a book and waited for the Trolley Lady to come by. The hiccups would start out slow, say once every hour or so, but then they would increase in frequency until they inhibited speech and someone eventually found the counter spell. They'd reach their climax during the sorting or soon after, I figured. No one would suspect me, the meek little Hufflepuff without any friends.
I suppose, like the rest of the world, you like the Weasley twins, probably think they're pretty funny. Well, I do have my reasons for hating and pranking them, you know. I could have chosen to thank the twins for their rather cruel and unintentional intervention in my horrible and slightly masochistic friendship or chosen to start an invisible and mysterious campaign of retribution, a prank war if you will. Guess which immeasurably more entertaining option I chose.
The shrill giggles of the gaggle of girls I had just passed in the corridor between 4th year DADA and 4th year Transfiguration grated heavily on my nerves. Just what did they find so very hilarious? A loud guffaw, so unlike the feminine laughs my eardrums had only just recovered from, interrupted me from my frustrated contemplation. The red locks of the guffaw-er pointing at me in unconcealed amusement alerted me to the fact that the Weasley twins were nearby. They had never had much to do with me, despite having nearly identical timetables for the past 4 years. In first year they blew up the potions lab because of some issue with the Slytherins with whom they were sharing class. Ever since then the teachers have thought it prudent to keep them separated from the Slytherins. Not that they've said as much. The last time I had seen them I was helping up a Slytherin first year that had been hit with a trip jinx, probably by one of the twins. But they wouldn't have sought revenge for something as petty as that, would they? I was wrong.
Anyway, the very fact that they were now pointing at me merrily and laughing at my bewilderment did not bode well. It was at that moment that I realized I'd been pranked in some way. Also, there was no doubt in my mind, that the Weasley twins were somehow responsible. Those red-headed devils were always up to something, and it was hardly ever anything good. Still, it could be something lighthearted and meant to be funny not humiliating. More peals of unpleasant laughter followed me to the bathroom.
Surprisingly, I saw nothing strange about my appearance in the mirror. My hair was still its usual dark brown. Slightly frizzy, but that was normal. Their wasn't a note taped to my back saying 'Kick Me,' or some other such nonsense. I also wasn't sprouting tentacles, wings, or even a pig's tail. Deciding that I might as well use this trip to the restroom to my advantage so I wouldn't need to beg a pass off of McGonagall, I headed into a stall. As soon as I slid the bolt I heard two voices gossiping as they entered the bathroom, one of them achingly familiar. Startled by the sound of my name, I sat up on the tank and pulled my feet up out of sight.
"So they're saying that Isabel," started the voice of Tess, my only friend at Hogwarts. I had been a shy little firstie, and she'd been the only one to take to me. I think she liked that I rarely talked, only listened to her rant as much as she liked without complaint.
"Frizzy Izzy," corrected an unknown voice. I expected Tess to protest, to say that name-calling was uncalled for. Disappointingly, she remained quiet. I wished fervently to see her face. Shoes squeaked across the tile and a faucet turned on briefly.
"That she is an ugly lesbian who picks her nose and devours men like a praying mantis?" Tess clarified. I gasped at the garbage spewing calmly from the mouth of my once trusted friend. For the record, I am deeply attracted to men.
The rest of the conversation hurt too much and I tuned out most of it. The gist of the matter was that I was now friendless and facing a castle full of people who believed me to be attracted to women. Tess vowed to avoid me, lest people get ideas about our relationship. The whispering and the catcalls continued for a month without abating much.
To their credit, the twins eventually 'fessed up and the rumor was swiftly discredited. But I shunned my former friend and the school still called me 'Frizzy Izzy' and avoided my company. I took to wearing dull clothing to become more invisible and avoided human company. To this day I catch people whispering about me as I pass them.
What started out as a barrage of pranks against the twins eventually turned into a fun little hobby. Mostly I don't prank them directly. I usually just do fun pranks against the entire school, like turn all the school benches into laffy taffy simultaneously or bewitch the all food to turn into assorted potato products when the house elves send it up (that one lasted all of three meals).
How, you ask, does this qualify as a prank war against the twins if it affects everyone equally? Well, who do you think gets blamed? The teachers punish them, of course, but the best part is when the other students congratulate them. They always accept, but the extravagant praise irks them. For instance: "That was your best prank yet, Fred," actually they were talking to George, "the teachers are going nuts, I can eat my own bench, and I don't have to wait a month for my hair to turn back to its normal color like last time!" I can tell that they are grudgingly impressed with my pranks, but angry that they didn't think of something better. The only times that I do prank them directly is meant as a reminder, a sort of "Remember me? You know, the person who's a better prankster than you?" Thus the hiccupping jinx I cast on Fred on the Platform. After something like that they usually renew their efforts to 'trap' me. Attempts that I find quite amusing. Ah, sweet revenge.