Round 5 of the Qudditch League Fanfiction Competition.

Preparations

The window display was being adjusted and most of their new items were on the shelf. Their mother had finally ceased her yelling at them from the other side of the door a couple of hours ago and had gone home, vowing to return and make them listen. The twins were content with their new home in Diagon Alley and were ready for their opening day tomorrow. George was currently upstairs making adjustments to their new flat over the shop, a bunch of little details like making a list of food they needed to buy, fixing a shelf and trying to fix some problem with the bathroom sink. There was something wrong with the shower, it sounded like there was something living in one of the pipes and a small hole in the roof of their living room. The place needed a little work.

The past couple of days they had been visited by their new neighbors who had brought by and assortment of food to welcome them to the alley. Mrs. Palmer one of the restaurant owners nearby had brought them an assortment of samples from her menu. In exchange George promised to pass out some fliers about her half-price Wednesday dessert deal. Fred agreed to it for another of her son's chocolate cakes.

Fred looked up from the window display he was adjusting only to see Mrs. Palmer carrying a large container with a lot of papers balanced carefully on the top of the plastic container. That plastic container hopefully held the much fabled and desired double chocolate cake.

He made a final adjustment to the fireworks display before getting up to unlock and hold the door open for Mrs. Palmer as she arrived on the doorstep and pushed the cake into his hands. "Here you go dear, and take those extra flyers on the top. You may need them, you are going to have an incredible opening day."

"How can you tell?" There were a lot of kids looking, but children tended to have adult supervision when out in public. A little hard to slip them Geyser Goblets as a handout with a sternly on looking mother eyeing them both like they had each just sprouted an extra head.

"I just know." She paused for a moment, "You need to read the crowds, you get really good at it after a few years of knowing which shops will stay open and which ones will attract a particular sort of clientele." She motioned out the window to the bookshop across the street from the Wheeze, which had an old man sitting out front watching with interest from a rocking chair. "Like that shop for example, shady people are in and out of there all the time."

Fred got closer to the window and squinted his eyes for a better look. It was a worn looking building that looked like it was one of the oldest in the alley by about fifty years. The man in the rocking chair looked up and locked eyes with Fred before unrolling his copy of the Daily Prophet to read. If he ran a shady shop, maybe he could tell them were to get some of the harder to find ingredients for some of their other in development products? He took a closer look, what kind of shady dealings could be done out of a bookshop? An underground encyclopedia ring?

"I left Tony alone at the counter, so I better head back. You two enjoy that cake."

"Don't worry, we will."

She stopped at the door for a moment, "A word of advice, I'd get to know your neighbors. We're a decent lot and we like seeing each other succeed. If you boys need help or advice, we'll be glad to offer it."

"George and I will definitely take advantage of that offer." They would really; George's good sense would only work for so long. They knew very little about building care and organization in general. There were also safety codes to follow from the Ministry, as if they cared about that, but they did not need to be shut down for blatantly throwing the law in the government's face. Later maybe.

She smiled and opened the door, "You two take care of yourselves, and share that cake with your brother." The woman walked out the door leaving Fred standing alone holding some fliers, a chocolate cake and a strange heavy feeling in his chest.

Every person that had introduced themselves had been very nice to a couple of ambitious teenagers with big ideas, who had dropped out of Hogwarts in spectacular fashion and were on their own for the first time. He had not really expected that. If either he or George were doing this by themselves, the shop would probably not work. Fred was the idea guy, and George made the ideas work. They were a team and two halves of the same whole.

When he was three, he realized he really disliked being without the twin brother. It was distressing for him to be apart from George. He would emotionally cling to him for dear life. He had never been without his brother; it had always been reassuring to step out of his identity to assume George's for a joke and a quick laugh. George was the emotionally stronger of the two; he could cope without Fred if he had too.

The shop was mostly George's idea, he had that management mindset, he could understand what the people would want in a practical joke and had no problem making Fred's schemes work when they were children. They would judge their success by three factors, how many people laughed, how long they were lectured (if it was an hour lecture from mum or Percy, full points), the third criteria was measured in reaction screams from the victims.

Fred put the fliers on the checkout counter and carried the cake to the workroom in the back; this room was not finished yet. There were still stacks of unsorted supplies that Fred had volunteered to sort through while he basked in his and his brother's eventually success.

He put the cake on the desk and flicked his wand to sort through the delivery boxes. Snails, newts' tails, rat eyes, and frogspawn were sent to different sections of the workroom and stacked as tightly as Fred could make them.

This place was their dream, it could not, (would not) fail. They had invested too much and had too much success with their samples at Hogwarts. He and George would be fine. They had no chance of failure; after all they were an unstoppable team. Nothing could stop them if they worked together.

There was a yell from George from the flat above. Fred whisked the last supply box into the correct area before looking up at the ceiling.

"George, are you okay?"

"Fred! There's something living in here!" There was pause and Fred could hear George stepping back onto a squeaky floorboard. "It looks like a puffskein nest."

"Really?" Fred tapped the walls of the workroom with his knuckles as he put his ear firmly against the wall and listened carefully. If it was an infestation they might have a problem. He waited a few moments before tapping again to hear the rustle of movement and little squeaking noises that told him exactly how large this infestation was.

Fred had a suddenly flash of an idea, he would have to bring it up with George but maybe with some careful breeding they could sell puffskeins in the shop…


AN- I had another idea for this, but I realized it would be far to long for the challenge and it may work better multi-chaptered. I'll write that during my downtime at school, I have a lot of that.