Wheezing with the Weasleys

A/N - Wow, I came back to fanfiction after a gap of a good few years. I may be a bit rusty so apologies for that. This might be a one-shot, might not, depends on the response I get/how inspired I feel.

The main character in this is someone that JK only mentions once in HBP, a short blonde-haired witch called Verity, who works as a shop assistant at Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. I thought it might be fun to make up a little background on her and how she came to get the job. Enjoy!

"Number 93...let's see, 91, 92, ah, 93!" The wet street glistened with the result of a summer rainstorm as a young witch came to a halt in front of a large empty shop. 93 Diagon Alley had been abandoned for a while now, the owners having fled to Brazil after news of Voldemort's return surfaced. Despite the muggy weather, Verity shivered a little as she nervously looked up and down the street. Only a few days ago had her great aunt Matilda vanished seemingly into thin air, and her father lived in fear, simply because he was a muggle-born. These were dark days indeed.

Pushing her short blonde hair behind her ears, Verity sighed as she remembered the giddy happiness of graduating from Hogwarts. The hope, the excitement, the tears, the promises of reunion. And all for what? For piles of debt, pretending to be a muggle to get a cleaning job, and now...this. Standing outside a dank building, about to be interviewed for a shop job. After seeing the advert in the Daily Prophet, Verity was none the wiser as to what the job was actually for, the ad merely saying it was an "exciting new venture". God knows I could use some excitement, thought Verity gloomily, as she knocked on the door.

To her surprise it opened at once all by itself. A hastily-scribbled floating paper sign hovered before her bearing the words "Go up the stairs and through the red door. Don't touch the custard creams." She frowned a little and made sure she hadn't misread the sign. Yep, don't touch the custard creams. She made her way up the stairs, feeling slightly disheartened by the soft spongy carpet that made strange squelching noises at every step. There was the red door, and beside it on a chair was a small plate of custard cream biscuits.

Verity wasn't quite sure what came over her then. Perhaps it was the all-invading sense of hysteria slowly infecting life after Voldemort's return. Perhaps it was her annoyance at the complete lack of information she'd been given about this interview. Or perhaps it was because she hadn't eaten anything since breakfast. But whatever it was, she shrugged and quickly picked up a biscuit and stuffed it into her mouth. Her cheeks bulging, she felt a triumphant sense of satisfaction as she chewed and swallowed, brushing the crumbs off her coat as she knocked on the door. What misers, she thought, one biscuit can't hurt.

The next thing she knew, a loud POP sounded out and she felt an odd tingling sensation all over her body. Looking down at her hands, she tried to shriek as she saw that they had turned into bright yellow wings. But instead of shrieking, a loud "TWEET" came from her mouth. Unable to register what on earth had just happened, she tried to move but overbalanced on her tiny bird feet, the momentum sending her flying forwards. With perfect timing, the door swung open and Verity had just enough time to glimpse two grinning freckled faces before crashing down on top of them both. After a few confused moments of crashing limbs and yellow feathers flying everywhere, there was another loud POP and Verity managed to struggle to her feet, human once again.

"What...what in the bloody HELL was that? Did you just transfigure me? Who are you?" she spluttered, spitting out a long bright yellow feather. She blinked in surprise as the two men got to their feet. They were twins, almost exact copies of one another, right down to the last strand of red hair and freckle.

"He's Fred..." said one. "And I'm George" said the other, as they both stood beaming in front of her. "Oh no wait, I'm Fred," said one, putting out his hand for Verity to shake. She took it dubiously. "And like I said, I'm George," said the other, grabbing hold of her other hand so that she was shaking both of their hands at once. "You must be Verity," said Fred, "Ecstatic to meet you my dear, and congratulations for getting the job!"

"Positively brimming with excitement to have you on the team aren't we Fred?" said George. "We certainly are George," replied Fred, "Time to crack open some celebratory Firewhiskey me thinks."

By now Verity was utterly confused. "So...are you the people who are interviewing me?" she asked bewildered. "Why did you turn me into a bird?"

"You weren't just a bird Verity, you were a canary," replied George slowly, as if this explained everything, "And we are indeed the people interviewing you – you passed with flying colours!"

"But I haven't done anything!" Verity cried, exasperated, "I don't even know what this stupid job is for!"

"On the contrary my dear, you have done all that's required to land a job at our most exemplary of establishments – Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes! For all your joke shop needs, whether it be a Puking Pastille or a Fainting Fancy, come on down to 93 Diagon Alley! Time to laugh, time to cry, time for a custard pie in the eye with the Weasley twins! Always reasonably priced, superfluous, super-fantabulous –"

"Alright George, don't be a git," chuckled Fred, as he interrupted George's spiel. He turned to Verity and smiled kindly. "Basically, the test in the interview was to see if you'd ignore our sign and eat the custard cream. It's not really a biscuit even though it tastes just like one, they're actually our own patented Canary Creams (7 sickles each if you want to buy one). Eat one and for a few short moments you're a beautiful canary."

"We don't want any sticklers for rules around here you see," continued George, "How boring would that be? These products are made to flout authority, and we wanted to find another mischief-maker like ourselves, not some fuddy duddy with a broomstick up their bum. You're perfect – you even provided a brilliant comedy entrance by falling on us. Genius that was."

"Genius," agreed Fred.

Verity didn't really know what to say. "Um, thanks I guess," she laughed, trying to pretend that her own clumsiness had been planned all along. "My mum always says I'm funny." She immediately cringed inside. Why did I say that, why did I say that, could I possibly seem anymore uncool, she thought, looking around the room to disguise her burning cheeks.

"So...Firewhiskey?" ventured George. "We're sorry about the whole turning you into a canary thing, but that's just the way we operate. We've never been one for sit-down interviews."

"Literally never," quipped Fred, "This is our first venture into the world of shop-keeping."

He conjured up some chairs and a table with a flick of his wand and brought out a small bottle of Firewhiskey from within his cloak. George busied himself with pouring out amounts into three glasses, and offered one to Verity.

"Here's to a fabulous future together eh?"

Fred interrupted, casting a worried glance at Verity. "You do actually want the job, right? We're really not that bad, we like a practical joke every now and again, but we could do with a pretty face behind the counter rather than our ugly mugs. Guaranteed to scare customers away!"

Verity paused for a moment, looking at the twins. They were very odd, there was no denying that, in their matching green knitted jumpers with their wiry red hair and mismatched shoes. Was a joke shop even the right place for her? She'd been hoping to get a place in the Ministry but money was money. Perhaps they were right, perhaps there was a spark of mischief in her that was dying to get out. The more she thought of the soulless Ministry, with its office jobs and endless paperwork, the more attractive the Weasleys' proposition seemed. And they were just so...likeable, George grinning away holding out the glass full of drink and Fred looking abashed at her with pleading eyes.

"Please," said Fred in a low voice, interrupting her reverie, "It's been so hard to even get people to come and have an interview, especially in these times."

Their eyes met and with a slight shock Verity noticed the quiet desperation hidden behind the smile. These two were jokers, but they were also vulnerable, and this was a big risk for them. With a sudden movement she seized the glass offered to her, and downed it in one fiery gulp.

"I'm in."

A/N - You like? Review!