Fred and George Weasley and the Monster's Shoes

A monster lived in the wardrobe in Fred and George Weasley's room when they were very young. He was blue with red feet and hands, a green nose and big sharp teeth. His name was Harpy, and he liked eating cornflakes, dog food, mice and little boys.

The twins knew that Harpy was real because Charlie told them so.

Charlie was ten, and they were not quite five, so it made perfect sense that Charlie would know about the monster before they did. He told them all about the monster one cold morning in January when they were sitting around the fire with mugs of hot chocolate after a morning playing in the snowy garden. Mummy was cooking soup for lunch, Percy was curled up in an armchair with a book (Percy liked books), and the babies were both asleep upstairs, so no one else heard Charlie's story. It was just as well, Charlie told the twins seriously, Ronnie and Ginny were far too young to know about the monster, and Percy would only get scared. Even though he was older than Fred and George, Percy was not nearly as brave as they were, Charlie told them nodding wisely. It was better if he did not know.

"What about Mummy and Daddy?" George asked worriedly. He wasn't sure he could be very brave about a monster living in his own bedroom. "Do they know about it?"

Charlie looked around carefully to see if their mother was listening, but she was singing along with Celestina Warbeck on the radio, and taking no notice of them.

"Well, they do," Charlie said, lowering his voice mysteriously. "But they don't like talking about it. It's one of those things people don't talk about, you know?"

The twins nodded solemnly. They didn't know, but Charlie obviously expected them to, so they pretended.

"How come we've never seen him?" Fred asked. "We open the wardrobe lots of times, so does Mummy to put our stuff away. Why don't we see the monster then?"

Charlie waved his hands airily. "Oh, he's very good at hiding," he said. "Sometimes he squeezes himself up on the little shelf at the top or sometimes he hides behind things in the wardrobe. And sometimes, if he hears someone coming, he sneaks out and hides under one of the beds."

"Our beds?" George asked tremulously. He was liking this less and less.

"Usually," Charlie said. "Sometimes he goes to someone else's room, just for a change. That's how I found out his name. He was hiding under Bill's bed the day after he went back to school, and I saw him and asked him."

The twins gaped at him.

"Weren't you scared?" Fred asked in awestruck tones.

Charlie shook his head. "Oh no!" he said easily. "Monsters don't scare me! I like monsters."

"But you said he eats little boys," George said. "Why didn't he eat you?"

Charlie drained the last of his hot chocolate and grinned. "Oh he wouldn't eat me!" he said. "I'm a big boy! But you two..." He looked at Fred and George seriously. "You need to be careful. He might want to eat you because you're only small." He looked into the fire and scratched his head, frowning as if thinking deeply. After what seemed a very long time, he clapped his hands.

"Got it!" he exclaimed. "I know how to keep you safe from Harpy." He lowered his voice conspiratorially. "Monsters don't wear clothes. That's because they don't need to 'cos they're monsters, but they really really like shoes."

"Shoes?" the twins asked together, and Charlie hushed them quickly as their mother, momentarily distracted from her cooking and the radio, looked over.

"Hush! Don't let Mummy hear," he warned. "Yes, they really like shoes. Bill read it in a book somewhere and he told me. If a monster has shoes, he's so happy he forgets all about eating anyone. That's what the book said, Bill told me."

The twins were convinced. Bill was twelve and he went to school. He knew practically everything there was to know. If he said it, it must be true.

"So all we have to do is get the monster some shoes, and we'll be okay?" George asked, and Charlie nodded seriously.

"That's all," he said. "I think Uncle Bilius' old shoes are still in the broomshed. He left them here when he came at Christmas because they got so muddy. He went home in Dad's slippers. Do you remember? I'll go out and nick them this this afternoon, and all you have to do is sneak them into your wardrobe for Harpy and you'll be fine. He won't want to eat you - or anyone else - with shoes on his feet."

"What if they don't fit him?" George asked. He was still inclined to be worried about the whole idea of the monster in the wardrobe.

But Fred laughed. "'Course they'll fit him, Georgie!" he said happily. "Uncle Bilius has got enormous feet. I bet Harpy's aren't bigger. They'll fit him alright."

A monster lived in the wardrobe in Fred and George Weasley's room when they were very young. He was blue with red feet and hands, a green nose and big sharp teeth. His name was Harpy, and he like eating cornflakes, dog food, mice and little boys.

Fred and George weren't worried about the monster. He had a pair of Uncle Bilius' old shoes to wear, and monsters like shoes. He wouldn't hurt anyone while he was wearing the shoes.

They knew it was true because Charlie told them so.