Fred Weasley poked his head out from beside the bed. He had run for cover behind it when George had volunteered to taste test one of their new products. You never knew what could go wrong with their experiments: A slight altercation could set off the biggest explosion with the worst kinds of consequences.
“It’s a good thing you put that silencing charm up before you tested it, it’s a loud one, that is,” Fred exclaimed, calling from behind the bed, “it’ll sell for sure!” When there was no response but for a slightly aggravated choking sound, Fred crawled out from behind the bed and stood up to find George sprawled on the ground, facedown, his robes singed and his hair sticking up every which way.
Finally, after a bit more spluttering, George turned around to face Fred, and it was suddenly apparent why his twin hadn’t said anything yet. George’s face was bright blue, clashing horribly with his hair, his lips swollen and tinged green, and his eyes watering from the impact of the explosion.
“Well,” George wheezed, “I think we added too much of the Lovage. My head feels like it’s about to fall off.”
“It looks like it’s about to fall off,” Fred said, poking his twin. “How are you holding up otherwise, though? The Tentacula seeds don’t make you nauseous, do they?”
George spluttered in response, holding a finger up for silence. “No, not nauseous, just a bit temperamental – will you stop poking me?! It bloody hurts!”
Fred huffed; there was no need to get angry, he was only trying to help. Walking to the other side of the room, he picked up the ladle in the cauldron and poured some of the prepared potion in a goblet, handing it to George without a word.
George, after gulping down the contents of his goblet, sighed contentedly. “Thanks. Sorry I snapped, but you really needed to stop poking. It’s like poking a sleeping dragon!”
“I don’t know about dragons, but you sure breathe fire,” Fred mumbled, glaring at his brother as he exited that room and walked into another.
“Come off it! How many times have I gotten my head ripped off when you had to test one of our new products? And besides, you should’ve known I was going to be a bit difficult to handle. You’re the one who added the Venomous Tentacula seeds anyway!” George exclaimed gesturing wildly, following Fred around the room as he gathered the ingredients for a new experiment. “It should have clued you in at the very least.”
Fred sighed. He had added the seeds, but that shouldn’t have landed the blame on him. He was about to say so, when a sudden thought popped into his head. He smirked. “Imagine if we gave one of those to mum. She’d go barmy,” he laughed gleefully, “She wouldn’t be able to string a sentence together because she’d be so angry,” he looked at George, seriously. “Should we, then?”
“Try it on mum? Are you bloody mad?! She’d have our heads! And besides, we wouldn’t be able to attend the wedding; you know how important the wedding is.”
“Well then, we don’t really have anyone else to try it on, now do we? Mum would be the ideal subject this time, we haven’t done anything to make her laugh in the last few months.”
“How about Ginny? She seems to be in need of a pick-me-up!”
“Excellent idea, George! Then we can get her to try some more of those Babbling Buttons and have her try to Bat Bogey Hex us again!” Fred responded sarcastically, bouncing on the balls of his feet with enthusiasm. “Because I absolutely love running for my life from murderous women. Honestly, I don’t know what’s happened to you these last few days…I think that you’ve been trying so hard to get Katie to come into your Daydream Charms, it’s messed up your head,” he said with a furtive look at his twin. “You know that she isn’t going to let you do that little brother, no matter how much brain power you lose trying to convince her.”
“I don’t try to get her in there!” George said, scandalized, “She comes in of her own free will. And besides, Ron’s your little brother; I’m your big brother.”
Fred snickered. “Too right you are, can’t fit you through a normal doorway because you’re so big.”
“Well,” George huffed, his temper rising again, “I seem to remember when we – or rather you – asked Ginny to eat the Babbling Buttons. You were so innocent about it all; I can’t believe she actually fell for it.”
“Me?! It was you who told her to eat one. Don’t you remember?” He asked George, throwing in a sprig of holly into the now simmering cauldron. “She owed us that favor for helping Harry, and because it was your turn to test it, you made her do it. You told me that you didn’t want anything embarrassing to come out of your mouth.”
“I did not!”
Fred raised one eyebrow and walked toward a small table lined with various ingredients. He picked up a jar labeled Murtlap tentacles, and looked thoughtfully at George. “You don’t suppose that some of these would help the swelling of the brain go down for the new product? What should we call it anyway?”
“The Blasting Bean,” George replied without missing a beat, “’It’ll leave your enemies bumbling, blasting, and blue for hours.’ We only have to figure out how to get rid of the green lips. Doesn’t really add to the appeal of it, does it?” He asked, turning to face the ornate mirror in the corner of the room (“You’re going to put a crack in me if you don’t look away soon!”) and staring at his reflection with distaste.
“That mirror sounds a lot like mum. You don’t suppose she gave it to us so she could keep track of us even here, do you?” George asked turning to face Fred, who was now looming over another cauldron and adding the tentacles into it carefully.
“I dunno, but I don’t really think the green takes away from the look; it’s only because it’s on you that you don’t like it. If it was Percy that had taken it, you would say it was a job well done.”
“True, that, but unfortunately, mum would skin us alive if we did give it to him. I think we should try it on ourselves before we give it to anyone else.”
“You mean I should try it,” Fred said, his eyes narrowing. “You know what happened to me last time I tried the new products. WonderWitch it was.” He shuddered. “Angelina wouldn’t come near me for a week.”
It was George’s turn to snicker. “I really should have taken a picture. Would’ve probably had everyone roaring with laughter.”
“It would not have been good for sales, though, and that’s what we really care about. Besides, doesn’t Ginny owe you a favor for something? You can always try and get her to do it.”
“I already told you, dear brother,” George bit out, “it was you who asked her, not me!”
As Fred opened his mouth for a snappy retort, a slight whoosh signaled the arrival of someone through the Floo. They turned to look at the fireplace, and to their surprise, a long mane of red hair and a short, slim body landed roughly on the hearthrug.
“Ah, speak of the devil!” Fred exclaimed, rushing to his sister, George close behind. “What are you doing here?” He asked, before promptly enfolding Ginny in what they called ‘a Weasley-Sandwich’.
“Fred! George! Geroff!” She yelled in frustration, though her face (squished into George’s shoulder) belied her happiness at seeing them. She sighed in relief as they finally let her breathe, “I thought mum told you I was coming today?”
“We didn’t get the memo, Ginners, but we’re glad to have you all the same,” Fred beamed down at her as she scowled at the nickname he had given her. “And besides, George wanted to ask you something.”
George glared at his brother. “That’s right, Ginny, you’re always welcome here.”
At this, Ginny narrowed her eyes in suspicion. Her brothers never missed an opportunity to bother her with the vile name they had chosen, unless, of course, they wanted something she had.
“What’s the deal, George?” She asked, walking into one of the various rooms lining the hall, and wasting no time in prodding the new red Pygmy Puffs that they had created. “And why are you blue?” She added, a smirk crossing her lips for a moment.
“Er…You might not want to do that Gin; they tend to get a bit –”
BANG! All of sudden, the largest, reddest, Pygmy Puff of them all jumped forward in the cage, and latched onto the bars with pointed teeth. Ginny backpedaled quickly, bumping into the table behind her, then shot a look at her brothers. “Angry much?” She asked sardonically.
“Our new inventions,” George explained, grimacing as he attempted to pry off the angry Pygmy Puff with a long rod. “We’re trying to get them to act according to their colors: the blue ones are smug, the red think they rule the cage; that’s why they don’t like to be messed with – ”
“– the yellow ones are a bit thick and the green are –”
“– I don’t think she needs to know that Fred!” George butted in, his blue eyes wide in his equally blue face. “She’s our little sister, for Merlin’s sake! You can’t go around using that sort of language with her! We have to protect her from the vile words that the abominable world uses!” He said, with a pointed look at his twin.
“Too true, brother, though I think she uses them, anyway.” Fred responded with a shrewd look at Ginny.
Ginny rolled her eyes and turned around to look at the cage filled with the green Pygmy Puffs. Inside, what she saw nearly made her guffaw – a thought that instantly brought Ron to mind. The green Pygmy Puffs were the sort that she and her friends would keep to amuse themselves – they were all of the female variety, sporting thick, black lashes, and white high heels for feet. She now understood why George had cut his twin off – these balls of fluff were sexy. She giggled out loud as she approached the tiny creatures, and poked her finger in the cage. The little fur balls giggled likewise and began rubbing up against her fingers, much as a cat would, but quite a bit more sensually. She was also sure, that had these Pygmy Puffs not been so furry, they would have been buxom as well to add to their appearance.
“Don’t you think these are too – mature – for your audience?” She asked, grinning from ear to ear.
“Erm, yes, we actually got the idea from an advert for Muggle sweets.” George replied, squirming. “Listen, Ginny, I wanted to ask you something,” then, as if hurrying to bring her attention away from the Pygmy Puffs, he led her into their backroom. “Can you help us with a new project? We need you to test something.”
“And end up looking like you? No chance, sorry George,” she said, shrugging him off, and going to explore the ingredients on the table. “Venomous Tentacula seeds?” She asked incredulously, “Where’d you get these?” She held one up to her ear, hearing it rattle, and shaking it in return.
“Hey! No messing with the equipment!” Fred said, taking the seed from her. “Especially not with the poisonous equipment – not for our ickle Ginners!”
“I thought you wanted me to do something for you?” She asked, snatching the seed back. “So if you want me to do it – without telling Mum – then you’d best let me do what I want first.”
“She always did know how to get the best of us, didn’t she George?” Fred said proudly, as he turned to his brother. Then, without wasting any time, examined his blue face, poking and prodding some more. “Looks like the blue is fading a little, maybe you should try some more of the Calming Draught that I made,” he added thoughtfully.
“Maybe,” George growled, “you should stop poking so I won’t bite your HEAD OFF!”
Silence followed George’s profound statement, and when he looked back up at his siblings, he found that both wore similar expressions of surprise. George rarely became angry, and certainly never because of an experiment.
“And you two wanted me to try this new product of yours?” Ginny asked, incredulously. “Do you honestly want bats and bogeys flying out of your noses? Because I can tell you now that I’m probably not going to be as calm as George,” she turned to Fred. “What are they called anyway?”
“Ah, fits well,” she said, nodding and turning back to fiddle with the pod in her hands. “Why do you want me to try it? Don’t you two remember last time I had one of your new inventions?” She asked, shuddering internally at the memory.
“Yes, about that,” George began, “Who was it that gave you the Babbling Button anyway? Fred and I –”
“– we’ve just been discussing it, and George won’t tell the truth about –”
“– how Fred asked you to taste it.”
“I’m telling you, man, I did not ask her! You did!”
Ginny cut George off as he opened his mouth to respond to this obvious falsity; “I’ll tell you who it really was if you’ll both just shut up! Mum sent me here so that she could go shopping with Fleur for the decorations, not so I could hear you two going at each other like Ron and Hermione!”
“Eugh, Ginny, we’re nothing like Ron and Hermione, we don’t run off and snog after we’ve had a fight.”
“Ron and Hermione have started snogging, then?” George asked, the wonder apparent in his eyes. “Took them long enough, I reckon, almost seven years.”
“I know,” Fred nodded with his brother, “Ron needs to pick up his pace. At the rate they’re going, they’ll be married at the age of –”
“– fifty. Just perfect I reckon – for them anyway.”
“Enough about Ron and Hermione! Honestly, you’d think you had the tact to be at least a bit sensitive about them!” Ginny cried in mock defensiveness, “You know that fifty is much too early, they’ll be dead by the time they’re ready to marry.” She took on a solemn tone now, shaking her head morosely. “And you call yourselves Ron’s brothers, such a shame.”
Her brothers chuckled at her antics, and suddenly a new invention popped into mind. “Say Ginny, speaking of snogging, we heard from Ron that you’d been getting around a bit too much, if you know what I mean,” George said, giving her a shrewd glance.
“Right, we’ve been meaning to talk to you about that. First that Corner bloke, then Dean Thomas, and now what’s this we hear about Harry Potter?” Fred asked in a similar manner.
“Whatever you’ve heard from Ron is a big lie.” She replied turning around in order to hide her coloring cheeks. “He only wishes it were true with himself and Hermione.” She picked up one of the Blasting Beans and held it in front of her. “And if you two don’t want me to blow up at you while eating this one, then I suggest that you two leave my love life out of this!”
“Wait! Ginny – don’t eat it yet! We still haven’t resolved who gave you the Babbling Button first!” George replied somewhat haggardly, his face becoming a pale blue under his fiery mop of hair.
“You want to know who gave it to me? Fine, then, I’ll tell you, but after this, don’t tell me I’ve ruined the fun of it all!” She warned, and launched into her story.
Ginny Weasley trudged down the rickety stairs of The Burrow to the kitchen. With her eyes half shut with sleep and her small mouth stretched wide with an incoming yawn that could rival Ron’s in its girth, she walked past the living room, and into the dining area where, instead of finding a sea of red heads sitting for breakfast, she found an empty table with a plate of pancakes, a glass of milk, and some toast with marmalade waiting for her.
Looking out the kitchen window, she let her gaze run over the backyard. Fred and George were de-gnoming the garden, her dad was fidgeting with a new Muggle contraption that he had brought home from work, and Ron was sitting on the bench watching his brothers’ progress as he munched on a piece of toast.
Her stomach growled and reminded her of the reason she had awoken in the first place. Sitting down at the table she helped herself to the pile of pancakes and began ticking things she’d already prepared for her fourth year at Hogwarts. Time really seemed to go by so fast. She still remembered the day that she had gone to pick up her brothers after Ron’s first year. She tried so hard to get a glimpse at Harry Potter, but had only succeeded in getting a fleeting glance at his thin face before he turned and walked off to his relatives.
Her heart began to beat faster, and her cheeks began to flush. She really had to stop thinking about him. She already had a potential boyfriend waiting for her at school, and she’d promised herself, that she was going to get over her crush on Harry and move on with her life. Hermione had even unknowingly helped Ginny along the way. She had said that Harry seemed to fancy Cho Chang from Ravenclaw, and even though that news had broken Ginny’s heart, it had strengthened her resolve. Hermione’s advice was clear in her mind; “When he sees the real you, Ginny, he’ll see what he’s missing.” And that had been the last encouragement that she needed to help her on her way. Now, she had a letter waiting for Michael in her room upstairs, and a promising candidate for her first boyfriend.
The backyard door banged open. “Well if you hadn’t shown Mum our new product, then we wouldn’t have had to de-gnome the garden!” The twins walked into the kitchen, trailing dirt in behind them as they walked.
“It’s not my fault you can’t keep your mouth shut!”
“My mouth?! George, you’re the one that was blabbering about the whole thing to Mum! To Mum of all people, what were you thinking?!”
George was silent a moment. “It was me, wasn’t it?” Shaking his head sadly he walked to the table where Ginny sat and plopped down beside her. “I can’t believe I did that!” He wailed rather pathetically.
“Too true, brother of mine,” Fred said, emptying his pockets on the kitchen counter, “but at least you didn’t tell her about the Extendable Ears,” he held up a flesh colored string in his hand. George looked at him miserably.
“I’m going to wash up. I feel disgustingly dim.”
Fred followed his twin up the stairs, whispering quietly to him, obviously for one of their newer inventions. Ginny watched them as they left and stood up as well to place her dishes in the sink.
The back door opened, and her mother walked in with a bouquet of freshly picked daisies, chrysanthemums, and carnations. “Oh you’re awake!” She exclaimed as she looked at Ginny above the flowers. “We didn’t want to wake you dear, you know, what with all the packing you’ve been doing for the past few days,” she huffed angrily, “ I can’t believe we’re going to be staying at that dreadful place. It’s not fit for human habitation, no matter what Dumbledore says about the security of the place.” She placed the flowered vase on the kitchen counter and, still arranging the flowers, muttered under her breath about Sirius’ hospitality.
“I don’t know, mum,” Ginny began, wiping her hands dry on a towel as she spoke. “I think it’ll be kind of fun to live somewhere else for a change.”
Her mother stiffened. “You’re to go nowhere outside the premises we set for you, Ginny,” she said sternly, “I don’t trust that house, and neither should you. Merlin only knows why that was the only place Dumbledore suggested.” Molly continued to mutter aggressively at Dumbledore’s choice of headquarters.
Ginny morosely picked at a spot on the towel. Her parents had been overly protective of her since her first year at Hogwarts, and now, at Grimmauld Place, she didn’t think it would be any different. Unless of course, her mother clung to her as desperately as she had done the first summer after her year at Hogwarts. In a house that had been full of supporters of Dark Magic in the past (her father had inspected it as soon as he had heard news of headquarters), she would be surprised if her mother let her sleep in her own room, let alone explore every nook and cranny.
A loud squawk sounded suddenly followed by a rather louder CRACK! as something hit the kitchen window, effectively rousing Ginny from her musings. Mrs. Weasley hurried toward it, and saw, to her dismay, their post owl, Errol, hooting feebly in her potted geraniums. She clucked her tongue, “I don’t think Errol will be able to make any more deliveries anytime soon; seems he’s broken his wing this time.”
Ginny watched as her mum took the owl gingerly in her hands and carried him into the garden. Seconds later, she heard her father’s voice and exclamation at the situation. She absently ran her hand across the cool surface of the kitchen counter, and laid her head upon it, closing her eyes and sighing in resignation. She hated feeling this way. Her mum had always been protective of her as a child; she was Molly’s only daughter, it was understandable. But what wasn’t, was the fact that recently, in the few weeks that Ginny had been home, Molly had constantly wanted her daughter by her side. Even at night, when Ginny was dozing off to sleep, she could hear her mum’s footsteps right outside her door, checking to see that she was sleeping soundly. Her mum was worried, but of what, Ginny had yet to find out.
She sighed again, and with her cheek still resting on the counter she opened her eyes, and saw, curiously enough, a chocolate candy the size of a gumdrop sitting hidden behind the flowerpot. She picked it up at once, never one to forego a piece of chocolate, and inhaled the chocolaty goodness. She smiled, It smelled like heaven. She Loved chocolate – with a capital L – any kind would do; dark, milk, nutty, as long as the taste of chocolate was guaranteed, Ginny was sure to enjoy the little morsel until there was none left.
She popped it in her mouth. It tasted sweeter than she thought possible, with a slightly bitter taste following afterward. She scrunched her face in thought, it seemed to be a mix of milk and dark. Not too sweet, nor too bitter, but just in the middle…just perfect. She smiled contentedly as she chewed.
Molly walked back into the kitchen, holding her wand in one hand, and levitating a mini stretcher holding poor Errol in her wake. “Ginny, would you be a dear and get the letter from the window,” she asked as she set the stretcher down on the table, “it must have fallen when Errol hit the window.”
Ginny obediently followed her mother’s orders and handed it to her without a word, lest the wonderful taste slip from her tongue into the air. As Molly scanned the parchment, she let out a slight gasp. “Harry’s going to arrive at Grimmauld Place next week! We should have been there by now, the poor boy should have everything he needs the moment we get there…” Molly’s words faded as she hurriedly tended to Errol’s wing.
Hmm…Ginny thought, Harry. Her heart began to beat faster. Harry. Her stomach gave a little lurch. “Mum, did you say Harry is going to be there?” Molly looked up, her eyes curiously set upon her daughter. “Because if Harry is going to be there, I should start getting ready. He can’t see me like this!” Her eyes widening as she took in what her daughter blurted. “ It’s Harry! He’s…he’s… perfect!” Ginny began to panic, the pink on her cheeks brightening to a full on scarlet . What was she saying? And to her mother no less, the woman who was worried sick about her as it was. She was babbling on and on about a boy – to her mother! “I – I – I have to go!” Ginny scrambled from the kitchen, and walked toward the stairs as fast as she could, her mother’s wide eyes following her as she left the kitchen.
Ginny’s own eyes were widened in terror as she recalled what she blurted in the kitchen. She climbed the steps absently as she tried to remember what it was that made her say what she did.
“Hey Gin, did I just hear Harry’s name there?”
Fred was on the landing just ahead of her in front of his bedroom door. She stopped climbing, her eyes narrowing on her brother. Foggily, she remembered: extendable ears, some lint from his pocket, a few chocolate frog cards…and then – aha! It was Fred! Fred had emptied his pockets on the counter, the chocolate must have been his! She rejoiced as she stood there on the steps feeling accomplished and highly intelligent from her discovery. Then her stomach sank as she realized what her little investigation led to.
If that chocolate was indeed from Fred’s pockets, it must have been one of their inventions, a test product that they hadn’t intended to let out into the public.
“Ginny! Ginny, you there?” Fred was waving his hand in front of her face. “What did mum say about Harry?”
“Harry?” Ginny asked weakly, unable to stop the little lurch of her stomach and the dreaded flow of words from her mouth, “Harry’s so handsome, isn’t he Fred?” She clapped her hands to her mouth in horror. What was wrong with her?
Fred’s mouth fell open as his eyebrows raised dangerously close to his hairline. Slowly but surely, as she suspected it would, a mischievous smile dawned onto his face, “What did you say?”
“I said mrphmmrphm!” She covered her mouth at the last minute, giving him a knowing glare. “Don’t you dare ask me anything, Fred Weasley!” She yelled as he opened his mouth again, her fists now balled at her sides in anger and embarrassment.
“What’s this I hear about Harry?” George had just come out of the bathroom, and evidently had heard Harry’s name in their exchange.
“Harry’s the most wonderful boy that I’ve ever seen!” Ginny’s cheeks deepened to a dark crimson as she blurted uncontrollably. “Shut up, both of you! Either of you say anything, and I mean anything that involves his name, you will regret it!” She whipped out her wand, and noticed with some satisfaction that their eyes had widened in horror. “I’m honestly going to hex the both of you if you don’t tell me what you put in that thing!”
“So that’s it? That’s how you ate the Babbling Button?” George asked incredulously. He didn’t seem to believe it. “How did that happen? How is it that neither of us tricked you into eating it?”
“I think you were too busy pitying yourself, George,” Ginny said, looking curiously at the bluish tablet in her hands. “Now, do you want me to test your Blasting Bean, or not?”
Fred and George looked at one another in abject terror.
“No, really, Gin-Gin, we don’t need another test subject.” Fred said, weakly taking the little capsule from her hands.
“Too right,” George sighed in relief, his face relaxing and his color slowly fading back to his original complexion. “We can’t have you blowing up at us like that again. How would you explain it to Mum if you told her we had bat bogeys for the wedding?”
“I think they would look rather nice,” Ginny said with a smirk. “Better than now anyway,” she laughed as she scampered away laughing gleefully through the halls of their flat.
A/N: So…this was a difficult one for me to write. I kept going back and changing the scenes and the sequences – and then changing them back to the way they were…and then back again. It was aggravating to say the least. I’m honestly not at all comfortable with writing purely comical lines, but I did my best to stay in context with Fred and George, and Ginny’s relationship with them. This was a particularly heart-wrenching one for me personally, because the entire time I wanted to write a comedy scene with Fred, I kept thinking he’s going to die! Morbid thoughts, I know, but I couldn’t help it; I miss daydreaming about Fred’s future with his family and WWW.