For the next half hour, Fred and George’s room remained surprisingly quiet. So quiet in fact, that it had the rest of the family a little worried. “Alright, boys,” Arthur Weasley announced, opening the door to two sulking faces in the corner. “What happened now?” he asked, concerned for his birthday boys who were ordinarily anything but sulky.
“Splinter,” Fred said before his brother could shush him. Arthur stooped down, drew his wand and muttered something under his breath and George’s knee was all better.
“Thanks Dad!” Arthur got two arms around his neck, dragging him to the floor.
“Why didn’t you tell Mum about this?” he asked, frowning at the twins.
George scrunched up his face. “We thought she’d be mad at us for getting into more trouble.”
Arthur chuckled. “Boys, you’re not in any trouble. Besides, your mum’s not mad. She’s…” His words were interrupted by the clanging of pots and pans downstairs. He cleared his throat and continued. “She’s busy in the kitchen.”
Their faces weren’t convinced, still a little droopy. “Look, first magic is often tricky,” he explained to them. “We never know how it’s going to come out. We’re just happy the two of you weren’t hurt. Now step aside. Your presents are here.”
Arthur tucked his wand away and motioned through the door as Fred and George’s older brothers lugged the biggest box they’d ever seen into their room, followed by several more boxes. Charlie and Bill grunted as they put down the box and Percy slunk in behind them with a large sheaf of parchment. “Why do I have to carry it? Shouldn’t they have to help?” Arthur’s stern look shushed him as he placed the thick stack in his father’s hands. Pretty soon, little Ronnie came in too, followed by their baby sister. “I wanna see!”
Arthur shooed the rest of the family back down the stairs and directed the delivery men up with an even bigger box than before. Charlie took little Ronnie’s hand and led him away while Bill scooped up the baby. “Not a baby! I’m two-oo!” shrieked Ginny as Bill threw her over his shoulder. “That’s right Ginny, and I’m eleventy-one!” he told her as he carried her off. Percy’s complaints could still be heard one flight down. “I never got anything that big for my birthday!”
Arthur had paid extra for the special non-magical home delivery – he smiled at the intriguing Muggle-like tools; frowned at the fact that his twins had slept on the floor for three nights, frowned more as he signed the sales slip, and slipped back into a smile at the explosive way the twins had discovered their magic.
He could recall each of his older sons’ discoveries with clarity – his oldest, Bill had been levitating three feet above his bed in his sleep when Molly had gone in to wake him on his eighth birthday. Charlie had been eight as well when he reported that his Chuddley Cannons action figures were arguing failed plays with their rivals on the poster across the room. Percy’s toy broom had chased him madly around the house at age seven and a half. Arthur chuckled at how it had taken over an hour for his more excitable son to calm down. The poor boy still slept with the broom outside his door.
Fred and George had been three days shy of their sixth birthday. Being the most unpredictable of his children (and the most precocious: having learned to read so early was both a blessing and a daily trial), they had somehow managed to have all their bedroom furniture simultaneously explode and, with the exception of the splinter this morning, had miraculously remained unharmed in the process. His smile grew as he recalled them wide-eyed and giggling in the middle of all the splintered wood… and then faded as he began to read the assembly instructions.
The spell-resistant furniture had to be manually assembled in order to maintain its integrity, which was going to take longer than he’d expected. He flipped to the second page, and then the third. The diagrams were tricky and the text wasn’t clear. He’d been told by the store manager that the instructions were originally written by Nordic Elves. Obviously something had been lost in the translation.
“Can we help?” Two sets of hopeful eyes peeked up over the largest box in the room. Even Percy had come back in, too curious to stay away.
“We’re good with tools!” George chimed in.
“And we can read, see?” Fred scrambled around the box to stand in front of his father. “Uncle Merlin’s Perpetual…”
“Spell-resistant, anti-charm features…” interrupted his brother.
“Do we have an Uncle Merlin?” Fred scratched his head.
“…prevents spontaneous underage…”
“… magically advanced….”
“Ten year warrantee!” Fred exclaimed, reaching the end of his multisyllabic babble.
George looked at his brother, then back at Arthur. “It said ‘magically advanced’. Does that mean we’re brilliant?”
“Of course you are.” Arthur grinned down at his twins. All of his children were brilliant.
Fred jumped up and down. “Does it fly?”
“Is it blue?”
“Can we eat it?”
Arthur steered Fred and George away from the boxes and into the doorway. “It’s your new bed boys, and you’d better go downstairs while I put it together.” He could imagine all sorts of unhappy accidents with Fred and George in the room trying to help assemble the monstrosity. “And stay out of your mother’s way. Don’t touch your cake; she’s been working on it all morning.”
Their faces fell. “What are we supposed to do then?” asked George.
“Go play with Percy.” Percy gave him a horrified look and the twins put on their almost-six pouty faces.
“Do we have to?” whined George. “It’s our birthday.”
“Yes,” Arthur said, trying to sound grave. “You’re all brothers, even on your birthday.” If anyone could keep the twins out of trouble, it was Percy.
The brothers three sulked as they left the room and Arthur heard the twins’ exuberance return moments later. “Hey Percy! Wanna see a marble trick?”
“Ow Fred! That’s my ear!”
One hour, nine minutes and countless seconds to go, Fred and George bellied up under the living room couch, charged by Percy with watching little Ronnie while their baby sister napped in her playpen in the next room. It wasn’t so much that they had to watch their little brother, as it was having to watch him abuse their old toys.
“On our birthday even!”
“Well, we are almost six.”
“I guess that means we’re old enough to be in charge.”
“Not for another hour.”
Ronnie had nine blocks high now, and instead of reveling in his architectural accomplishment, the three-year-old knocked them over in a flurry of hands and feet and giggled.
“He’s not so brilliant,” George snickered.
Fred nodded. “Not like us. We’d have had the tower up to eleven blocks by now, even at his age.”
“Maybe you don’t get brilliant until you’re six.”
Ronnie’s tower was now ten blocks high, this time pummeled by a toy broom.
“Watch it, Ronnie! Don’t break that broom. It was my favorite!”
Arthur came downstairs unrolling his sleeves and looking a little frustrated, and then brightened at his youngest boy in the living room. “Alright, Ronnie.” He snatched the giggling boy off the floor and lifted him high in the air. “Bed’s done. Let’s go find your mum and see how she’s getting along.”
“Whee!” said Ronnie as they disappeared out the back door.
A full minute ticked by and no one else came in or out of the room. “Did he see us?” George asked.
“Not this time.”
They crawled out from under the couch and sat on the floor in silence. Fred looked at the living room clock and sighed. He hadn’t expected to be forgotten. Everyone else was busy and no one came in to ask them to help. If Charlie had said they were brilliant and Dad thought they were too…
His face brightened. “Let’s go be responsible!”
George giggled. “Right. I still want a baby dragon.”
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