A/N: I feel terrible; I just can't seem to give George a break. Poor thing, he probably hates me. Well anyway, this is my celebratory post-exams story, which I hope you all enjoy :) I think it's my first fic completely based around the twins at school, haha. I knew I'd get there eventually. Oh right, to confirm, this is set during GoF, so sixth year for Fred and George. As always, apologies for any mistakes… I take full responsibility.
Disclaimer: Yeah… no, I don't own anything you recognise.
"You cannot acquire experience by making experiments. You cannot create experience. You must undergo it." - Albert Camus
Fool Me Once
It was a brisk spring day at Hogwarts. There was a slight chill in the air, and many students were still wearing their house scarves and gloves, but for the most part winter was over. The grounds were once again occupied during breaks, and with the threat of exams still several months away, students were in a relaxed, content mood.
Except for George.
George had woken up in the morning with a headache and blocked nose. His throat was sore, his eyes felt irritatingly itchy, and there was a constant dull throbbing echoing throughout his head which did not help improve his mood in the slightest.
"George, are you okay?" Fred asked in a bleary voice, still half asleep as he got changed. It took him several minutes to realise he was trying to put his shirt on back to front, but he somehow managed to pick up on George's condition right away. How, George would never know. "You don't look good."
"I'm fine," George mumbled, staggering out of bed and heading for the bathroom to splash some water on his face in the hope that it would make him feel better. He came out several minutes later, feeling more awake but by no means better. Ignoring the concerned glances Fred was shooting him, he got changed into his uniform and house robes and led the way to the Great Hall for breakfast. Lee followed them, too tired to notice anything strange. They sat down at the half empty Gryffindor table beside Harry, Hermione and Ron.
"George, you look a bit pale," Hermione noted worriedly across the table between sips of Pumpkin juice. Ron barely glanced up from his meal, but Harry nodded his head in agreement beside Fred.
"Are you feeling alright?" He asked, peering past Fred to look at George.
"I'm fine!" George snapped, glowering. Harry looked taken aback at the response, and George immediately felt bad for snapping at the kid.
"I'm sorry, I'm just… tired, that's all," he explained, offering Harry an apologetic smile. Harry nodded uncertainly before turning back to his breakfast. Hermione was still looking at George in concern, and to avoid her gaze he looked down at his own plate. Usually the smell of eggs, fried bacon, sausages and tomatoes would make his stomach grumble in hunger, but today he just felt a slight nausea rising in his stomach. But Fred was still shooting him suspicious looks, so George half heartedly pushed his food around, nibbling on his toast whenever anyone looked up.
Their first class of the day was Charms. They were meant to be turning vinegar into wine, but George spent most of the class trying not to breathe in the strong fumes which were making him dizzy. In the end Fred managed to get the closest to wine out of the three of them; Lee, who was still only half awake, had a goblet of bright pink sludge, and George's vinegar had begun boiling before a startled Professor Flitwick came to the rescue.
"More practise boys!" Flitwick told them in his squeaky voice before moving on to the next table.
"George?" Fred asked quietly, looking thoughtful.
"Yeah?" George answered somewhat apprehensively.
"It's… nothing," Fred mumbled, although George didn't miss the frown on his face.
By Transfiguration, George was feeling worse than ever. He could barely focus on the cushion he was meant to be conjuring, too busy trying to relieve his aching head. It didn't help that his body couldn't decide whether it was hot or cold; one minute George would be shivering inside his cloak, the next tugging on his tie, feeling stifled. Fred kept shooting him concerned glances; on the other side of Fred, Lee was frowning, picking up his conjured pillow which looked more like a misshapen ball with feathers sticking to it.
"What did I do?" Lee asked blankly, but Fred wasn't listening.
"George. George," he hissed, and George jerked to attention, glancing around.
"What?" He asked, confused, but instead of offering an explanation, Fred placed the back of his hand to George's forehead. He flinched at the heat emanating from it before withdrawing his hand.
"I knew it. You're sick," he accused, trying to keep his voice low so as not to attract the attention of their classmates. George blinked.
"What? No I'm not," he protested, wrapping his robe tighter around his body. The chills were back.
"Yes you are. You've been feeling sick since this morning George. Don't think I haven't noticed," Fred reprimanded, and George's temper, already unstable due to his headache, flared.
"Then why didn't you say anything?" He snapped, surprising himself with the viciousness of his voice.
"Because I didn't think you'd hide it from me." Fred shot back. He was clearly hurt; his voice, his posture, his eyes; everything about him gave it away, and George immediately felt guilty for trying to deceive him.
"Fred, I-" But he never got to finish because at that moment, his stomach lurched, sending George sliding off his chair onto the floor with an almighty crash, retching violently onto the cold stone floor as his stomach finally rebelled. He could hear several exclamations of worry and squeals of disgust as he emptied his stomach, and his arms were shaking so much from the effort that he feared they would collapse. Before they had a chance however, there was a reassuring hand rubbing his back and a hand gripping his arm firmly, holding him steady.
"Breathe George. It's okay," he heard Fred say gently in his ear, and George took in a shaky breath, wincing at the vile taste at the back of his throat. It was only then that he was aware that Lee was kneeling in front of him, that both Lee and Fred were using their bodies to block George from the prying eyes of their classmates, to try and offer George some privacy.
"Weasley, I think you need to visit the hospital wing," Professor McGonagall said as she reached the huddled group. "Looks like you've caught that nasty sickness that was going around. Weasley, think you can take him by yourself?" The question was directed at Fred, who nodded determinedly.
"Sorry Professor," George said weakly as he struggled to his feet, assisted by Fred.
"For what?" She asked, peering at him over her spectacles.
"The mess," George answered, glancing at the floor.
"Easily cleaned," McGonagall replied, demonstrating just how easily with her wand. "Besides, this wouldn't be the first time you've made a mess in my classroom would it?"
Both the twins and Lee grinned despite themselves, recalling the number of Dungbombs, Stink Pellets, and other various joke products they had dropped over the years.
"That's what I thought. Well, off you go, both of you. I'll inform your teachers that you'll both be missing from class today. Jordan, you stay here," she ordered, and Lee returned to his seat with a huff, trying to hide his cushion from McGonagall. Fred wrapped an arm around George's waist and directed him towards the door slowly, glaring at anyone who dared look at his twin. The last thing they heard before exiting the classroom was McGonagall examining Lee's cushion.
"Exactly what is this supposed to be, Jordan?"
They had only made it halfway to the hospital wing when George stumbled to a side and emptied his stomach for the second time at the feet of a statue of armour. The statue gave a visible shudder, and was on the verge of telling George off when Fred slammed its visor down ferociously.
"Don't you dare," he hissed, and the statue let out a disgruntled noise but nevertheless remained quiet, unwilling to test Fred's temper. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, George moved until he was sitting slumped against the wall, trying to gather enough energy to stand. Fred crouched before him, pulling out his wand.
"Honestly, why didn't you just tell me George?" Fred sighed as he vanished the mess.
"Because I knew you'd force me to go the hospital wing and I'd be stuck there for the whole day," George pouted as he rose slowly, steadying himself against the wall.
"Right, rather than the alternative where you throw up in Transfiguration and then go to the hospital wing?"
"I never said it was a better alternative," George mumbled, shivering slightly. The corridors were chilly, and the harsh wind felt like it was blowing right through him. Wordlessly, Fred pulled off his Gryffindor robe and wrapped it around George's shoulders, leaving him with only his thin school uniform.
"No, now you'll be cold," George protested, trying to pull the robe off, but Fred wouldn't let him.
"Leave it George." Reluctantly George complied, already feeling warmer with the extra layer of clothing. The two walked in silence for several metres before George sighed.
"I'm sorry, I should have told you," he groaned regretfully, feeling like a fool.
"No harm done. To me, that is. You on the other hand honestly look terrible George."
George grumbled but didn't reply.
"Anyway, in a way it was a good thing that you got sick," Fred continued. George, who had closed his eyes because the sun was making his eyes sore, snapped them open in surprise.
"A good thing?" He repeated.
"Yeah, I hadn't done the homework McGonagall set us," Fred replied with a grin. George shook his head, although his lips were curved into a smile.
"Hey, you know, maybe- maybe we could create something to make people sick!" Fred exclaimed, eyes bright with excitement. George raised an eyebrow.
"Fred, you've lost it."
"No, no, hear me out. Say you're in class and you've forgotten to do your homework, or you've got a test, and you need a quick exit. So you take something- like a potion or something- and it makes you sick immediately! The teacher has no choice but to let you go to the hospital wing!"
"Where you spend the rest of the day sick." George reminded him, still brooding slightly over his own fate. Fred's excitement didn't deflate in the slightest.
"No, because we would have made an antidote. You take it right after you get out of class, and voila, you're fine again."
George was silent for a moment, thinking it over. "You know, that's not half bad," he said slowly.
"Not half bad? It's brilliant!"
"And maybe we could expand the range a bit. It would have to be visible symptoms… we could have something that gives you nosebleeds, and maybe one that-"
"Knocks you unconscious momentarily?"
Fred rubbed his hands together excitedly. "This is going to be wicked," he proclaimed, before noting the slightly green tinge George's face had taken. "But perhaps we should get you to the hospital wing first," he said hastily, wrapping an arm around George's waist again.
Thanks for reading, and please review! :)