Chapter 1 : We only borrowed it and then we put it back.
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Fred Weasley sat on the bare floor of his bedroom, leaning against the wall. He and George had finally finished cleaning their room. It hadn’t gone quite as they’d planned, but if they ignored the blankets and pillows strewn about and pretended that the swept pile of broken wood in the corner was invisible, the room was spotless. Their older brother Charlie had told them that when it came to chores, all that really mattered was results. Right now, Fred wasn’t so sure about that.
Charlie said that their bulging closet doors proved that Fred and George were brilliant beyond a doubt. No one else (save Mum, of course) could have fit everything they owned into that small of a space. He smiled a little. They’d only had to give away their stuffy frogs and an old set of alphabet blocks – and they would be getting new stuff soon. Maybe Charlie was right, being ten already. Everyone knew that once you turned six, you knew everything (as his brother Percy kept saying over and over and over… not minutes after he turned six, Fred never forgot that). Fred glanced at the clock on his wall, right above where the dresser used to be. In two hours, thirty-seven minutes and twenty-six... no, wait. Twenty-five… four…three… Fred gave up on the seconds as they ticked away. “George, we’re almost six!” he announced triumphantly. “Soon it will be all the birthday cake and whipped topping we can eat!”
It wasn’t just any kind of whipped topping. No, it was the special Muggle kind that came in those metal cans that said “shake well before opening”. Dad had brought one home once and Fred had instantly fallen in love with the loud hissing sound, the way he could aim the nozzle into his dish, and the light, airy clouds of sweetness that covered whatever he sprayed. Dad had promised he’d get more, if they were good boys, and on their birthday, which wasn’t much longer. Fred and George had tried to be responsible, cleaning their room the fastest way they knew how. Their original plan had seemed simple enough. Mum muttered those cleaning spells at least a hundred times daily, and with Bill’s wand that they’d secretly borrowed while he was out… well, to be fair, Charlie had found it first. He was having trouble waiting another year for his own wand and had to have a look, just a little peek. After he was done, they’d wanted to see it too, promising to put it back…
Fred sat up straight all of a sudden. “You did put it back, didn’t you?”
George shifted his legs around, his head still stuck in a book, across the room from his brother. “Yeah. I told you. Right away.”
“In the box? With the…”
“Silver latch, in the bottom of his school trunk by the red and gold striped socks, yeah,” George confirmed, turning a page.
Fred considered a stray marble that had been forgotten a few feet away, but then thought better of it. Five-year-olds might pitch marbles at their brothers, but if he was going to be six in two hours, thirty-two minutes and forty-two… one… forty… Fred flicked the marble at the wall. Seconds were tricky, he thought as the marble bounced off the wall and flew into another direction entirely, landing on the hard floor and rolling to a stop at his brother’s feet.
Mum and Dad had said that if they could be extra good, they might even get to have a pet. All they had to do was keep their room clean (which they had, sort of), start helping around the house and watch their baby sister every once in a while. It wasn’t like being five. Six was almost grown up already.
Fred fidgeted with the marble while George sat perfectly still, staring at the pages in his book. The growing-up thing wasn’t going to happen for a few more hours. This time, he did flick the marble at his brother.
“Ow!” George finally looked up from his book and rubbed his ear. “What was that for?”
Fred shrugged. George pelted him back with the marble. “Ow, George!” Part of the problem for Fred was that his twin brother had an equally near-perfect aim when it came to flicking marbles. He stuck out his tongue at George and before he knew it, they were tousling on the floor, George’s book discarded in the corner.
“Wait, wait!” his brother cried out and all action ceased, mid-tumble.
“What is it?”
“Let’s see it,” Fred announced, scooting over to George so he could see. If they were going to have their very own pet, they should be able to handle a splinter. The minutes ticked by as Fred and George, and then George and Fred attempted to get the offending sliver of wood out of George’s knee.
“We might have to get Mum,” Fred offered.
“No, Fred. We can’t! Remember what she said?”
“Oh right.” Fred sulked. He’d thought about asking for something furry and soft, but George really wanted a baby dragon. There weren’t going to be any pets in their future if they couldn’t sit in their room for an hour without getting into trouble. He leaned back against the wall and surveyed the bare room. George scooted next to him, shoving a pillow under his knee and holding his blanket around him for comfort. George was brave, Fred decided. His brother was blinking back little tears, but he was strong, that George.
“Ow,” George sniffed. “Being responsible hurts.”
Usually, in times like this, Fred would dig a lolly out of his candy stash and offer it to his brother for comfort, but his lolly stash was gone, had been for three days, just like the furniture and all the toys that couldn’t fit in the closet – ever since the moment he’d discovered how brilliant he actually was – and George too, because they always did things together.
Fred scooted closer to his brother. He wasn’t feeling so brilliant now. They’d made a right mess of things, sneaking that wand, and his brother had gotten hurt. He didn’t have a lolly or a bed anymore. But he had an arm, so he patted George on the shoulder.
George sniffed again. “You think Mum will still let us have the whipped topping?”
“Sure she will. It’s our birthday!”
They nodded their heads together and Fred looked sideways at the clock. “We’ll get that splinter out, and then we’ll turn six and everything will be great.” They had plenty of time to come up with a brilliant plan: two hours, fifteen minutes and six, five, four…
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