Chapter 1 : To Become a Spy
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Fred busily stacked brightly-colored boxes of Skiving Snackboxes near the post in their shop. It hadn’t been a complete surprise when this product had turned into their best-seller. He reminded himself as he placed the last box on the stack that they would need to make another batch or two. He took a moment to look around him and smiled as his eyes drifted over all of their creations. The walls were completely filled with useful items: Extendable Ears, Canary Pasties, Invisibility Hats and so much more. Neither of them could wait until Harry saw their store for the first time, after all, he had made the initial investment that had actually allowed them to sell their jokes for a living and there was no way that they could repay him for that besides for buying their brother new dress robes, which they readily agreed to do. His generous gift also meant that they could fulfill their life-long dream: bringing laughter to people’s dreary lives. There had been only one point that they hadn’t expected and that was to have a thriving business so soon after their spectacular departure from Hogwarts.
George pushed open the cellar door with his arms filled with more boxes of fake wands which had turned into their other best-selling joke. Their first joke wand had turned into a chicken, and while it had been popular, they had quickly decided to add different articles the wands could change into. Their experiments had led to any particular wand changing into a chicken, a paper airplane, a toy mouse and a bouquet of flowers. There were still a number of choices that were currently in development. “Gred, when do you think that Harry will come back?” George asked as he put the wands on the counter next to the Peruvian Darkness display while he searched for a place to set them. He wiped his hands on his magenta robes before frowning at the bright blue streak on his hand. He tapped his wand on the offending stain and watched as it vanished.
Fred paused, holding their new red-and-gold Limited Edition Skiving Snackbox before shrugging. “I suspect whenever Professor Dumbledore springs him, Feorge, though sticking him back there is worse than spending detention with Filch.”
George glowered at the memory of having to pull bars off Harry’s window just before his Second Year even though Ron had told them that his relatives hadn’t tried that again. In addition, Professor Dumbledore was a very touchy subject for the both of them. They had also heard from Ron that Harry wasn’t speaking with Professor Dumbledore which had surprised them. More worrisome was that Harry wasn’t speaking to anyone anymore since the battle in the Department of Mysteries. What Professor Dumbledore had told Harry remained a hotly debated question.
“Had we still been in school, maybe they wouldn’t have…” Fred didn’t finish his statement. It still rankled that six members of the DA, all of them under-aged, had gone to the Ministry and fought Death Eaters when their own mother wouldn’t allow them to join the Order of the Phoenix even though they were of-age and more than willing to battle Voldemort. Only the knowledge that they had provided the distraction that had allowed the small group to go helped ease the feeling of being left out. Of course, that their younger brother and only sister had gone continued to darken their mood.
“…gone to the Ministry and gotten duped?” George finished his twin’s question with a grim smile. “I agree, or else we could have insisted on going with them and Sirius might still be alive.”
“Have you had any luck in speaking with Professor Dumbledore about joining the Order, Feorge?” Fred pushed another Skiving Snackbox closer to the other neatly stacked boxes, trying for a light tone as if he were asking about the time of day.
“No, Gred,” George picked up a handful of wands when he finally found a place for at least some of them and arranged them into an odd-looking display in a vivid purple chalice. “He hasn’t answered any of our letters and he won’t say anything when we ask him…”
The wind chimes over the door rang as it opened, interrupting their conversation. They turned to see Susan and Ernie standing just inside the door, surprise etched on their faces at the vibrant colors that either worked with each other or clashed horrendously. “Hello? I was told that you might be able to help us?” Ernie continued looking around at the store.
Fred and George exchanged identical looks of surprise. How could they have missed that Ernie and Susan were together after all the DA meetings they attended?
“Fred?” Susan asked hesitantly, uncertain which twin she was really addressing.
“I am Fred and George is over there, what help do you need?” George asked politely, even though it upset him that people didn’t try to identify him and instead only saw both of them as one, “We may have the answer.”
Ernie whispered urgently, “I heard you’ve been helping Professor Dumbledore in his fight against You-Know-Who and we overheard something about Harry.” Susan’s face showed her distress at the possibility that Harry was in trouble.
Fred raised his eyebrow, “What kind of information? What about Harry?”
“We didn’t get to hear all of it, but we suspect that they’re going after Harry.” Ernie whispered in a near hiss after looking furtively around the shop. “There isn’t any way that we’d ever get near enough to Harry to make sure that he’s fine…”
“You might be able to since he usually stays with you before going back to Hogwarts,” Susan finished.
“Why can’t either of you go?” George frowned at their explanation. “You’re friends with Harry and I’m certain…”
“What if the information that we heard is true and his guards are talking to us instead of watching him?” Ernie shook his head reluctantly. “After everything he did for us this past year, that’d be a poor way to repay him.”
“We hadn’t planned on visiting him so soon…” Fred trailed off as he exchanged a troubled look with George.
Both Ernie and Susan shook their heads, “There isn’t going to be much time, it sounded like it would be soon.”
Fred pulled George to the side, whispering, “Do you think…”
“…that Professor Dumbledore could have set this up?” George finished the question in a low voice.
“Possibly, I mean, what harm could it do to check on Harry? If those people arrive…” Fred’s voice trailed away.
“We can get more people there sooner than his guards could,” George agreed. He turned to face Ernie and Susan. “Alright, we’ll go check on Harry.”
Ernie handed Fred a rolled parchment. “This has all the information that we heard. Say hello to Harry for us.” As if that was their cue, they hurried out the door.
Fred followed them and looked outside, but he didn’t see them anywhere on the street. “They must be hiding,” he told George.
“So what does the parchment say?” George pointed, bringing Fred’s attention back to the note he held.
Fred unrolled the message carefully and just managed to catch a mirror that fell from it. He handed the mirror to George, cleared his throat in an imitation of the former Professor Umbridge and began to read. “It will take place on the twenty-ninth of June at four in the morning. The location will be in Little Whinging. Take note of who attends and what’s being done. If you see Death Eaters, then use the enclosed mirror to request help. You’re not to engage in a duel under no circumstances.” He looked up from the parchment, “That’s all it says.”
“Nothing else was written?” George shook his head with disbelief, “But that’s tonight.”
“Then I suppose that we’ll be going to Little Whinging at four in the morning, unless we should be there beforehand just to make sure that we’re not missing the action,” Fred considered out loud.
“Perhaps we should get there about two in that case,” George agreed. “We’ll need to find a place to hide.”
“I wonder if we’ll be able to stop and talk to Harry before we begin looking around,” Fred considered the message a second time.
George considered the suggestion carefully before answering. “It would help give us a reason to be in the area, but wouldn’t Harry be sleeping by then?”
In the darkness, they hunted for any signs of the Death Eaters in the area but the night remained silent and still. “Maybe we can go see Harry now,” George finally suggested when the playground had been searched and discovered empty.
“Go see him at three in the morning?” Fred asked incredulous, “Did you forget that the Order started guarding him during the summers? What do you think they’ll do if we try to see him now?”
George shrugged, “They don’t have to see us.”
“Harry doesn’t get enough sleep as it is with all those nightmares. Do you want to wake him from a possibly sound sleep?” Fred frowned at his twin.
They stopped at the end of Privet Drive, surprised that they had reached it again so quickly. “You don’t suppose that the Death Eaters could be coming here?” George asked as they looked at the street sign.
“Isn’t that what I suggested earlier?” Fred hissed back, keeping his voice near a whisper. Having to explain to the Order’s guards why they were here at this time of the morning wasn’t high on his list. “Let’s go find a place to hide.”
They crept along the street through the hedges until they reached Number Four Privet Drive and remained there still as statues as they waited for the appointed time to arrive. Both of them were about to drift off to sleep when a series of soft pops alerted them that something was happening. They stared in shock as they watched a group of several dark-cloaked people stand on the lawn, obviously waiting for a signal.
“Fred? Aren’t those Death Eaters on Harry’s front lawn?” George stammered softly. Now was not the time to draw attention to them. “Where’s the Order?”
“Where’s the mirror! We’ve got to call for help!” Fred gasped as he counted the cloaked people.
“Your pocket,” George kept his eyes on the group.
Fred pulled the mirror from his pocket and held it in front of him as the group of dark-cloaked people entered the house. “Hello?” he whispered to it.
An unfamiliar face appeared in the mirror, “Have you seen signs of Dark Activity?”
“Yes, at Number Four Privet Drive,” Fred whispered urgently, “Harry’s house.”
“There’s about eight Death Eaters and they’ve gone inside,” George added softly.
“We’ll be there with help,” the lady looked very worried, “Eight Death Eaters! You get yourselves out of there before we arrive.” She gave them one last troubled look before her face disappeared from the glass, leaving the twins looking at themselves in the mirror.
They exchanged an identical troubled look before Disapparating.
The next day, they went to Head Quarters around lunchtime to find everyone in an uproar instead of the cheerfulness they expected for Harry’s safe return to the wizarding world.
“How did they know that we were getting Harry at that time?” Kingsley demanded angrily, something that neither twin had seen before.
“I don’t know,” Tonks glowered at the gathered people, her hair a vibrant red. “It was obvious that they’d been told somehow because they ambushed us.”
“Hello?” Fred and George interjected jauntily into the silence following Tonks’ dark statement.
The gathered members of the Order turned nearly as one to look at them with suspicion. “Where were you two?” Snape finally demanded silkily. “I don’t recall having seen either of you laggards around here for several days.”
“We’ve been at our shop!” Fred snapped back, losing what little patience he had with his former professor.
“Did Harry get here safely?” George asked, trying to cover for Fred’s distress.
Molly glared at Snape before turning to her sons. She still looked ferocious when she answered them, telling them that something had gone terribly wrong. “He’s upstairs with Ron, Hermione and Ginny. Go on up, this is a meeting for members only.” She walked them to the door and shut it behind them firmly and they gave up any hope of hearing what had happened when it squelched. That was one charm they were still working on for the Extendable Ear.
Instead, they took another look about at the grim place and Apparated directly into Ron and Harry’s room where they stepped back at the angry glares that the four teenagers gave them. “Hello! We heard you were here!” Fred said in the unnatural silence, trying to be upbeat.
Harry’s eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly. “No thanks to the Death Eaters that showed up,” he finally replied sourly.
“Heard about that,” George answered brightly and earned another four looks of disbelief. “They’re talking about that downstairs.”
“So what happened?” Fred asked, leaning forward to invite a confidence.
“The Order showed up in dark cloaks because the plan was to fly our brooms to Headquarters like last year. The wanted it to be harder for anyone to see them or me. Everything was fine inside the house, but we were ambushed as we stepped outside. Professor Lupin decided not to wait for the signal and had the Order and me take off immediately. Kingsley and Tonks sent several Stunners backwards as we were taking off. I was surprised when we weren’t followed, but none of them had brought brooms.” Harry’s face darkened as he explained to the twins in a grim tone what had happened.
“He won’t be returning to Privet Drive next summer,” Ginny added darkly.
Fred was surprised at this piece of news. “Why? Why wouldn’t you be able to return?”
“Because those Muggles are in St. Mungo’s now,” Ron answered in a less than patient voice. “When the Death Eaters weren’t able to catch Harry, they turned their attention to the Muggles.”
“I think we’d best get going Fred,” George said after an uneasy silence had fallen. “You know about time…”
“Right,” Fred agreed hastily. Not saying another word, they Apparated downstairs and hurried from Headquarters.
In the upper room of their shop, the twins sat looking at each other with a mixture of concern and anxiety. The unfinished pranks were strewn about the room ready to be picked up on a moment’s notice or insight to either improve or fix the item in question. However, every single item lay forgotten where they had been dropped.
“We saw the Death Eaters enter the house,” Fred finally stated exactly what was on George’s mind. “We called for help.”
“Then how do you explain that only the Order entered the house? I mean, Harry wouldn’t make that up.” George countered with a frown. He shook his head because there was something not quite and yet he couldn’t put his finger on what had gone wrong. “Harry said they were ambushed outside of the house.”
“The Order was wearing dark cloaks so none of them would be seen flying at night,” Fred picked up one of the forgotten spheres that they had only started working on. They planned on each sphere cycling through a series of colors based on how quickly it moved. So far they had succeeded in adding only two colors: red and gold. He tossed it from hand to hand, watching it instead of looking at his twin for several moments before finally tossing it to George who caught it handily.
“So what happened?” George asked as he tossed the sphere into the air and then caught it again with only one hand.
“Not only that, but what do we do?” Fred asked back.
George put the sphere down on the table next to him. The colors flickered for a few more times before it turned clear once more. “We should tell Professor Dumbledore at the least. Perhaps he can make sense of the whole situation? After all, he set this test up for us, right?”
“Right,” Fred agreed with alacrity. “Let’s go.”
They entered Hogwarts by the road since they weren’t able to Apparate onto the grounds. Unfortunately, they were greeted by Mr. Filch who despised them though the only bright thing about that situation was that Mr. Filch took them to see Professor Dumbledore right away. Now they were sitting in chairs as they waited for Professor Dumbledore to speak. “You have something to tell me?” he finally asked, looking grave.
“We were wondering if we passed the test to join the Order,” Fred stated with a side-long glance at George.
“Passed your test to join the Order?” Professor Dumbledore considered both of them sharply. “What test?”
“The test you gave us last night in Little Whinging!” George answered. Had they gone through all that effort and failed? Was that why Professor Dumbledore looked so sternly at them?
Professor Dumbledore remained silent for a very long time as the Portraits murmured to each other in the background. “The only people who knew about last night were authorized members of the Order of the Phoenix and then only those selected few who were going to be escorting Harry from Privet Drive to Headquarters. How is it that you found out about this secret?”
The twins exchanged a look of dismay as a sinking feeling grew. “Well, we were told what was going to happen while we were in our shop. Then we went to Little Whinging and when we saw the Death Eaters we called for help.”
“Who told you?” Professor Dumbledore asked gravely, his fingers were steepled as he waited patiently for their answer.
“Ernie and Susan stopped by our shop and said that they overheard the information about Harry.” Fred finally told, not pleased about getting either student in trouble.
“Where were you when you saw these Death Eaters?” Professor Dumbledore asked instead of continuing questioning them about the information they had learned. His fingers tapped slowly as he once again waited for them to explain.
“We were under one of the hedges at the time.” George admitted after four minutes under his impassive gaze. “We saw them appear and go inside the house.”
“Then we called for help and were told to get out of there before we were seen,” Fred looked at the ground as he finished their explanation.
“So you saw these Death Eaters enter the house? I have had a report that the only people who entered the house to get Harry were from the Order.” Professor Dumbledore’s frown grew.
“We heard that when we stopped by Headquarters earlier today,” George whispered.
Professor Dumbledore remained silent, waiting for either of the twins to continue their explanation. He saw them chance a look up at him every few minutes before quickly looking back down.
“We found out what had happened,” Fred answered in a small voice.
“How did you call for help?” Professor Dumbledore suddenly asked, surprising them with the change in topics.
“With this,” Fred handed the mirror to Professor Dumbledore who took it gingerly.
“I don’t have to tell you the seriousness of your trouble, do I?” Professor Dumbledore asked as he looked at the mirror with curiosity before placing it mirror-side down on his desk.
“What do you mean?” George asked and exchanged a frown with Fred. “We called for the Order for help! When those…”
Professor Dumbledore was shaking his head regretfully. “You never contacted the Order for help. The Order does not have tests in order to join and that leaves only one choice.”
“What’s that?” Fred asked, his eyes starting to show his fear.
“I believe that you did, in fact, called for help, but it wasn’t the Order. As the Order was ambushed by Death Eaters, therefore…” Professor Dumbledore trailed off letting the twins work out the last bit for themselves.
“We called the Death Eaters,” George said with growing dread.
“We agreed to help,” Fred added somberly, “and it wasn’t for the Order, but for the Death Eaters.”
George looked sick now. “We left when we were told so we didn’t see the Death Eaters arrive.”
Professor Dumbledore nodded grimly, the twinkle missing from his eyes. “Now that you both understand the seriousness of the trouble that you’re in, let me explain your options.”
“We still have options?” Fred asked with a tiny bit of hope.
“You have two options. You agreed to help the Death Eaters but are not forsworn to Voldemort. You may choose to continue helping him, but…” Professor Dumbledore began explaining their choices.
“We don’t want to help him!” George stated emphatically.
“I presume that you’ll choose your other option?” Professor Dumbledore looked gravely at each of them. “Voldemort doesn’t tolerate turncoats which he’ll consider you both to be should you choose this option. You’ll be placing yourself in danger and your business could also suffer Voldemort’s displeasure.”
“We’ll just do owl orders then,” Fred nodded grimly.
“Harry had learned that even owls can be misled,” Professor Dumbledore shook his head slowly.
“We could just wait until he’s not around and then go on with business as usual,” George decided abruptly.
“What will you do until then?” Professor Dumbledore asked. When neither twin answered, he offered his solution. “You can repeat your Seventh Year and will gain you a year during which you can consider what to do next.”
The twins exchanged another look and nodded, “Seventh Year, it’ll have to be better this time.”
“Now, I expect that you two will return to Headquarters to live. As you are in school, you are unable to join the Order, but you understand why? Good. You will leave this mirror with me and I will dispose of it. You may decide when to tell Harry, your family and Hermione what truly happened.” Professor Dumbledore regarded them both seriously. “They will not find out from me, but I would suggest it be sooner rather than later.”
Fred and George nodded grimly.
“Very well, go straight to Headquarters and remain there,” Professor Dumbledore stated. “I will speak to your parents about your choice to take your N.E.W.T.’s.”
The twins stood quickly. “Thank you, Professor Dumbledore,” they said before hurrying from his office.
I wrote this story before “The Half-Blood Prince” was released, so it’s long since become AU. Fred and George were so intent on joining the Order of the Phoenix that I could see them being tricked into helping the wrong side, especially if it was presented to them that they would be helping the Order of the Phoenix.
I hope you have enjoyed this chapter especially with a glimpse into Fred and George’s new business. Do you find it plausible that they were tricked? If not, what did you find not believable about it? Please keep in mind this has become part of the Alternate Universe with the release of the last two books.
I have started removing thinking verbs from my stories and am using a small list of these verbs.
Thank you very much for your constructive criticism!
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