Dungeons, by definition, are always dank. The dungeons of Hogwarts were no different, being cold and dark with walls that were usually damp to the touch. Fred and George crept down the dungeon corridor as quietly as they could. They weren’t exactly out of bounds, but if they were discovered, it would mean trouble, and they knew it.
“Are you certain this is it?” Fred whispered, glancing at his twin.
“Lee said his cousin was a Slytherin. He met him once, at a reunion, and heard the stupid git talking about it, so he’s pretty certain,” George assured him.
“Eugh. Who would want to live down here?” Fred said, wrinkling his nose.
Though the dungeon corridor was only dimly lit, George could make out the greenish growth of fungus on the stone walls. A damp, musty odor filled the air, and he could imagine the spores of whatever was growing on those walls filling his lungs the longer they stayed.
“It stinks down here. The smell from one of these little beauties would be an improvement,” Fred said, grinning as he brandished a paper bag at his twin.
“Where do you reckon the entrance is, exactly?” George asked.
“No idea,” Fred answered, tapping his wand gently on the frame of a nearby portrait of an aged wizard, who promptly removed his pipe from his mouth just long enough to blow a raspberry at the twins.
Just then, a door slid open in a stretch of what had previously appeared to be blank stone wall. Marcus Flint emerged.
“What are you two doing down here? No Gryffindorks allowed,” he growled, starting towards the twins with a menacing grimace. Fred and George shuddered at the sight of the most crooked set of teeth they’d ever laid eyes on.
“We were looking for you. You stink so bad, we thought you could use some perfume,” Fred jeered.
George hurled one of the Dungbombs at Flint, who was too slow to jump out of the way. It exploded, releasing the foul stench of rancid dung and covering Flint and the surrounding walls and floor with filth. Fred and George high-fived each other and turned to run. Unfortunately, they then plowed headlong into the caretaker, Argus Filch.
“You two! Look at that mess! Dungbombs are prohibited inside the castle!” he screamed at them, grabbing them each by an ear before they could wrest themselves away. He pulled them alongside him back up to the ground floor and into his office. “I knew you two was trouble the moment I seen you. Unnatural little freaks,” he growled.
“But it was just a dungbomb!” said Fred. “It’s not like we did…”
“…any permanent damage,” George finished. “The smell will be gone in a day…”
“…or two,” Fred added, snickering.
“Quiet! And don’t either one of you move! It’s detention for you!” Filch snarled, as he noticed George inching backwards towards the door. “Now, where is that form?” he muttered, rifling through the papers which had been stacked haphazardly on a rickety looking desk.
George rolled his eyes. He glanced over towards the row of ancient, wooden filing cabinets. The label on the bottom drawer of the cabinet nearest him caught his eye. It read:
CONFISCATED AND HIGHLY DANGEROUS
Behind Filch’s back, George caught his brother’s eye and nodded his head towards the cabinet. Eyeing Filch carefully, who was now muttering about “the good old days” and “disembowelment” while rearranging his papers, Fred shuffled over towards George to get a better look. His eyes widened and he nodded at George, pointing at him, then at the drawer. Then he pointed at himself and Filch. George nodded and held out three fingers, counting backwards. When he reached one, he dived towards the cabinet.
“Lookout!” Fred screamed as loudly as possible, hurling his last Dungbomb at the caretaker.
The Dungbomb exploded against the desk with a hiss, and the pungent cloud surrounded Filch, even as he cried, “Aaaaah!” and threw himself across his desk, arms askew, knocking the papers in every direction. He lay there, sputtering and choking, unable to act.
“Got it!” George yelled.
Fred was already at the door. He jerked it open and together he and George sprinted down the corridor. Behind them, Filch was swearing loudly. George looked back to see the furious caretaker running after them as fast as his spindly legs would carry him, but the twins had a huge lead.
“Going left,” George said at the same time Fred called, “Going right!”
They reached the end of the corridor and split off into different directions. Filch could pursue only one of them, and he reached the end of the corridor in time to see a glint of George’s red hair vanish behind a tapestry. But by the time he reached it, it was too late. George was gone. Filch cursed again and turned around, walking rapidly towards Dumbledore’s office. He had complained to the Headmaster about those two little cretins, but Dumbledore had merely chuckled in an amused fashion.
“They’re just high-spirited, Argus. I can’t expel them on the basis of a few pranks. After all, their brothers have all been exemplary students, and the toilets righted themselves after a day. Give them a chance.”
Filch rubbed his hands together gleefully. At last, he had something concrete to give the Headmaster. The whelps had attacked him! The Headmaster couldn’t possibly ignore this incident. He vowed he would make the Headmaster understand that those two were trouble, and that Hogwarts was better off without them.
Fred and George arrived at the portrait of the Fat Lady at exactly the same time, though they had taken completely different routes. George brandished his pilfered item at Fred, who replied, “Brilliant!”
“Incorrect,” said the Fat Lady.
“I wasn’t talking to you,” Fred said smartly. The Fat Lady narrowed her eyes at him, and then sighed.
“Password?” she said in a weary voice.
“Dungbombs!” the twins replied together, giggling as the portrait swung open. Lee Jordan was waiting for them inside.
“Where’ve you been?” he said. “I expected you’d be back ages ago. How’d it go?”
Fred and George looked at each other, and the decision was made instantly.
“The plan went off without a hitch,” Fred said. “Pay up.”
Lee reached into one of his pockets, but hesitated. “How do I know you really did it?” he asked.
“Because it’ll take Flint a week to scrub the smell off,” George replied. “We got him good.”
“Oh, all right,” Lee grumbled, but he fished two Galleons out of his pocket and handed them to George.
“Thanks, mate,” George said as he accepted them both and gave one to Fred. Then he stretched and gave a huge yawn. “I’m for bed,” he said, giving his twin a significant look.
“Oh, yeah,” Fred agreed. “I’m completely knackered.”
“But it’s only seven,” Lee replied, confused. “I thought we were going to play Exploding Snap with Angelina and Alicia.”
“Not tonight,” George said, yawning again. “I couldn’t possibly keep my eyes open.”
Lee looked disappointed, but he accepted their explanation. Fred and George trooped up to their dormitory, locking the door behind them. George placed the item gently on his bed, as if he were afraid it might go off.
“What do you reckon it is?” he asked.
“Dunno, but it has to be something incredible, or it wouldn’t have been in that drawer,” Fred said.
The object was a large, square piece of parchment, yellowed with age and bearing numerous creases indicating it had been well used. It was also completely blank.
“Touch it,” George said.
“No, you!” replied Fred, backing away a step.
“I carried it here, didn’t I? Nothing happened,” said George, innocently holding his hands up for Fred to inspect.
“Oh, all right.” Fred reached out, but before he could touch the map, his brother spoke in a sly voice.
“Remember that book Dad told us about? The one that makes you fall down dead if you touch it?” George asked.
Fred gave him a shove. “Shut up, George. That’s not what he said at all. He said it burned your eyes out.”
He glanced back at the parchment warily. Having his eyes burned out didn’t seem to be a much better prospect than falling down dead, after all.
George laughed. “I’m only joking. Remember? I touched it and I’m still here, eyes intact.”
Fred gave a halfhearted laugh. “Yeah.” Still, his hand shook ever so slightly as he reached out and gently prodded the parchment, and then he breathed a sigh of relief when nothing happened. Feeling more confident, he grabbed it and waved it around.
“Doesn’t look so dangerous to me,” he said with a shrug.
“Let me have it!” George said, grabbing the parchment from Fred’s hands. “Oi!” he said, shaking the parchment wildly. “What’s the big deal? If you’re so dangerous, let’s see something, then!”
He let go of the parchment and watched as it fluttered harmlessly back to the bed.
“Oh, well. I guess it’s just an old bit of spare parchment somebody left in that drawer is all,” he said in disgust. “And to think we wasted—”
But then Fred grabbed his arm and pointed. Words were appearing on the parchment in what appeared to be neatly written script. The twins goggled at each other for a moment before clambering onto the bed so they could lean in closer to read.
Mr. Moony begs your pardon and bids the young gentlemen acknowledge that this is no ordinary parchment.
“Blimey,” said Fred in a near-whisper, as if he were afraid the parchment might hear him. “It talks. Wonder where it keeps its brain? Dad always said not to trust something that can think for itself…”
“…if you can’t see where it keeps its brain,” George finished.
However, they both waved as if to dismiss their father’s sage advice, and their eyes glowed with anticipation as a second line of text appeared under the first, this one in slightly messier handwriting.
Mr. Prongs agrees with Mr. Moony, and would like to add his thanks for liberating him from the clutches of Argus Filch. Dead boring that drawer was.
“Er, you’re welcome?” George said hesitantly.
Mr. Padfoot concurs. It’s been ages since we’ve had a spot of fun. Or a breath of fresh air. Filch’s office smells of codfish.
Before either Fred or George could respond, another line of script appeared on the page.
Mr. Wormtail would like to inquire, who the bloody hell are you?
“Rude!” George exclaimed, but Fred elbowed him in the side. “Ow. Git,” George complained, rubbing a spot under his ribs.
“We’re Fred and George Weasley,” Fred said to the parchment.
Lines of script began appearing rapidly on the page, one after the other, as if four separate persons were interrupting each other.
Oohhhhhhhh. It’s you two.
We’ve been wanting to meet you two…
Filch has complained about you daily since the term began…
Says you’re real mischief makers and vows to expel you before Christmas hols.
There was a pause, and then four lines appeared at once, but containing the same words.
So… what did you do?
“We didn’t do anything…”
“…much, really, just tossed a dungbomb…”
“…at the entrance to the Slytherin dungeon…”
“…only Marcus Flint was coming out just then…”
…the git,” the twins finished together.
Dungbombs, eh? So you boys are up to no good, then, are you?
The twins looked at each other warily. It was their firm policy never to admit to anything.
“No way!” they chorused together, out of habit.
The parchment didn’t reply.
“Hello?” Fred asked, prodding the parchment gently. It remained blank.
“Hey, where’d you go?” George said. He picked the parchment up and gave it a shake, but to no avail. “Damn, what’d we say?” he asked, looking at the parchment in disbelief.
Fred shrugged. “Aw, who needs a worthless bit of parchment anyway,” he said scathingly. “It’s probably a setup. I’ll bet anything Filch planted it there so we’d nick it and then he could use it to spy on us.”
George didn’t look convinced, but he nodded anyway. “You’re probably right. Should we burn it?”
“Nah,” Fred replied. “It might be good for a laugh sometime. If he’s really spying on us, then maybe we can use it. Make him think we’re causing trouble in the dungeons…”
“…when we’re really nicking food from the kitchens,” George chimed in, his eyes alight at the thought of all the puddings they could eat.
“Or at least call him lots of names, the dirty squib,” Fred said, scowling. He crumpled up the paper and tossed it onto his nightstand. “Let’s go play Exploding Snap.”
“But we said we were going to bed,” George reminded him.
“Like they believed us!” Fred scoffed. “Even Percy’s not that gullible. And if anyone says anything, we’ll just say we couldn’t sleep.”
They unlocked the door and left without giving the parchment another thought.
Fred groaned, “I’m so…”
“…bloody bored,” George finished his brother’s sentence.
It was November, and the snow covering the castle grounds was already two feet deep and falling faster every minute. It was too cold to go outside. It was too cold to explore the castle. All the best chairs in the common room were taken up by the older students, and it was too cold to sit in the chairs that were further away from the fire. Fred and George had reluctantly retreated to their dormitory just to get warm. The only other occupant, Lee Jordan, was convalescing in the infirmary with a nasty case of flu.
Fred flopped backwards onto his bed, scattering the cards he and his twin had been levitating for practice. They were from Charlie’s Exploding Snap deck, and they were so old that the charms had begun to wear off, so that they often exploded randomly, setting off a shower of sparks in midair.
“Say, have we sent a Christmas list to Mum, yet?” Fred asked in a dull voice.
“No,” George said morosely. “Why bother? You already know what we’re getting. A blue jumper and some socks.”
”Maybe if we send a really long list, and tell her how much we miss her, she’ll feel guilty enough to get us something else,” Fred said hopefully. He reached for a quill and a piece of parchment from his nightstand. “I need a new set of Gobstones. Mine squirt me in the face even when I win.”
He began to scrawl across the page, but the ink would not transfer to the parchment.
“Hey, what gives?” he said. Then he realized he had grabbed the wrong parchment as words appeared on their own across the page.
Mr. Moony kindly asks you to please refrain from defacing the Marauder’s Map with inferior ink.
“Map? What map?” Fred asked.
George had been rhythmically tapping his wand against the bedpost, sending puffs of smoke from the tip with each tap. At his brother’s puzzled question, he looked over. “What?”
Fred shoved the parchment at him. Eyebrows raised, George looked at the parchment with renewed interest as the ink slowly faded from view.
“Show us the map,” he said in a low voice that barely contained his excitement.
Mr. Prongs is afraid we are unable to comply… unless you say the magic words.
Fred wrinkled his brow in consternation.
“Please show us the map?” he tried.
Mr. Padfoot hopes you didn’t really expect that to work and encourages you to try again, and this time use your imagination.
“Well, it was worth a shot,” Fred said grumpily, his cheeks turning slightly pink beneath his freckles. “It always works on Mum.”
“Oh, let me try!” George said, and he grabbed the parchment before Fred could reply. “Alohomora!” he said confidently.
Fred simply snorted. Apparently, the parchment agreed with him, for another line of script appeared.
Mr. Wormtail would like to point out to young Master Weasley that even a first year should know that Alohomora works only on locked doors.
Fred nudged his brother. “Prat.”
“Let’s see you do better, then,” George retorted.
Fred thought for a moment, then with a smirk said, “Specialis Revelio!”
“You made that up!” George accused him.
“Did not!” Fred argued. “I heard Charlie use it on one of those flowery-smelling notes he gets from his girlfriend. Wish she’d change her perfume. The common room smells like gardenia for days afterwards.” He made a gagging motion and rolled his eyes.
In either case, the spell was no more effective than George’s attempt. The parchment remained blank for a long moment until finally, another line appeared.
Mr. Moony would respectfully inquire, are you up to no good?
“Well, not right bloody—” Fred began, but George clapped his hand over his twin’s mouth.
“Shhhh!” he said, a look of understanding dawning upon his face.
“Mmmph!” Fred grunted. He pushed George away and drew his hand across his mouth. “What was that for?” he demanded.
“Remember? That’s the same question it asked the last time—”
“…and when we said no…”
“…it stopped talking to us…”
They looked at each other and together said, “Ohhhhh.”
“All right then,” George said, grinning as he addressed the parchment. “Yeah, we’re up to no good.”
The previous words faded slowly. When they had vanished, another line appeared.
Mr. Prongs must know if you are willing to swear to that effect.
Grinning as well, Fred added, “Of course we swear.”
Unfortunately, this answer did not seem completely satisfactory to the parchment, for the text continued.
Mr. Padfoot would like to note what a solemn thing it is to swear.
Fred and George looked at each other, puzzled for a moment. “What?” they asked together.
The parchment seemed to erupt into an argument with itself, lines appearing in rapid succession.
Mr. Wormtail wonders if these two dunderheads will ever put it together…
Mr. Padfoot reminds Mr. Wormtail that he could never remember the bloody password even though he helped design the bloody map!
Mr. Prongs would dearly love to give Mr. Padfoot and Mr. Wormtail a good thumping, but alas, they are noncorporeal, as is he.
Mr. Moony wishes everyone would please shut it so that the dunderheads in question can get along with solemnly swearing already!
“Er… We solemnly swear that we are up to no good?” Fred said tentatively. After a long moment, another line appeared.
Mr. Padfoot solemnly swears that we have wound up in the hands of a couple of Muggles and urges the dunderheads in question to kindly hand us over forthwith to the nearest wizard or witch in possession of a wand.
At once, the twins scrambled for their wands. George had dropped his onto the floor and had to dive under the bed to get it. He let out a triumphant cry. A moment later Fred located his under his pillow.
“Go on, then. What are you waiting for?” he asked, but there was no hiding the disappointed tone in his voice.
George heaved an exasperated sigh. “What do you take me for? We’re in this together, aren’t we?”
Fred nodding, grinning once again. “Together, then?”
“One…” George began.
“Two…” Fred added
“Three…” George finished.
Together they said, “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”
Moving as one, they touched their wands to the parchment and held their breath. Slowly, ink bloomed across the surface, forming a blueprint. Small dots appeared then, wandering here and there, each with a name attached. Finally, across the top letters began appear. Fred and George followed along, reading aloud to each other:
Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs
Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief Makers
are proud to present
The Marauder’s Map
Simultaneously the twins each let out a low whistle.
“It’s Hogwarts!” said Fred excitedly.
“And it shows everyone!” George added.
“Look, there’s us!” Fred pointing at a room labeled, Gryffindor Tower, First-Years.
“And there’s Filch!” said George, pointing at the second-floor corridor.
Fred and George looked at one another grinning widely and said, “Excellent!”