A visit to the Weasley twins' joke shop...
SPECIAL DISCLAIMER: I'm going to bring in some of the Weasley twins' goods which appeared in Book 6, because it saves me the trouble of having to come up with lots of new things myself (and to be honest, I liked some of their ideas). I'm also going to be using some of the descriptions of these things, as well as some dialogue, from Book 6 (or, more specifically, Chapter Six, "Draco's Detour"). But hey, it's all fanfiction with all the necessary disclaimers so it's all fair game, right?
CHAPTER 7: NUMBER 93, DIAGON ALLEY
On Saturday morning, Harry made sure he dressed well in his best casual Muggle clothes (Harry had managed to persuade his relatives to buy him decent Muggle clothes, not hand-me-downs from Dudley) and waited for Lupin to come by to get him. Harry had just finished cleaning out Hedwig's cage and clipping her talons, and was stroking her feathers when there was a knock on the door at five to one.
The Dursleys silently acknowledged the situation as Harry came down the stairs, and Lupin strolled in. He smiled warmly and said, "Hello again, Harry."
"Hello, Professor," Harry said.
"Ready to go?"
"Yep." Turning to the Dursleys, he said, "I'll be back later this evening."
"We're going by Portkey, Harry," Lupin said as he took out a used-looking quill.
Harry took the Portkey. Lupin counted down, "Three... two... one..."
Harry barely registered the Dursleys screaming in surprise as the Portkey whisked him and Lupin away through space and time, through a dizzying blur of colors and sounds. A few moments later, they were standing in a big alcove in a building which Harry didn't recognize.
"Where are we?" Harry asked shakily, trying to regain his bearings.
"We're in the Portkey Room at the Leaky Cauldron," Remus whispered hoarsely. "Come, follow me."
Harry followed Lupin out of the alcove, and turned around to find another one just like it, right next to it. Just then, an elderly wizard walked past them into the other alcove, took out a Portkey, waited a moment, and was gone.
"Most wizarding buildings and establishments have Portkey Rooms, so that there isn't any chaos or confusion if someone were to suddenly appear or disappear in the middle of one of the more crowded areas of the building," Lupin explained. Harry had a sudden mental vision of someone traveling by Portkey suddenly landing on top of someone's meal on a table in the Leaky Cauldron, and said, "I think I can see what you mean."
Lupin nodded and led Harry out through the back door, into the courtyard where Diagon Alley lay beyond. Lupin counted the bricks, tapped his wand on the correct brick, and the archway opened up to reveal Diagon Alley to them.
The general tone of Diagon Alley seemed to be a mix of excitement and fear; excitement, because of the Weasley twins' store, and fear, because the Dark Lord and his minions could attack at any moment, and the fact that this occasion might prove to be too irresistible to ruin. Whoever was in the alley moved quickly, quick to get to one place or to depart from another. Products which were normally on display in the windows of their stores were now hidden behind huge, blown-up notices from the Ministry of Magic; some of them were safety guidelines which had been mailed recently to all witches and wizards, while others were moving black-and-white photographs of whichever Death Eaters were on the loose. Bellatrix Lestrange in particular looked particularly menacing, and Harry did his best not to think about her and what she had done to Sirius...
Harry stuck close to Lupin as they made their way through the narrow alley, and soon enough, they were at Fred and George's store, Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes.
"Here we are," Lupin said with a grin. He had already been here before, and he had greatly enjoyed it.
Harry made a startled sound of surprise; evidently, whatever he had been expecting from their store front alone, this wasn't it.
Fred and George's store easily stood out from those which surrounded it, and its very appearance seemed to assault the senses, with its windows dazzlingly full of an assortment of goods that revolved, popped, flashed, bounced, and shrieked. Even the name of the store glowed above the doorway in what looked like Muggle neon lights, with WEASLEYS' WIZARD WHEEZES reading in a glowing red and NUMBER 93, DIAGON ALLEY reading in green just under that.
"Come on, they're expecting you," Lupin said cheerfully.
"I know," Harry said, still staring at the visually amazing display in the window.
With that, they both entered.
The shop was practically packed with customers. It was so packed that Harry could barely get towards the shelves. Looking around, he could see that piles were stacked up to the ceiling. The items which the twins had sold at Hogwarts last year before they left, such as Skiving Snackboxes and Nosebleed Nougats, were there, but there were also lots of new items. There were bins full of trick wands, the cheapest merely turning into rubber chickens or pairs of briefs when waved, and the most expensive of which beating the unwary user around the head and neck, and there were also boxes of quills, which came in Self-Inking, Spell-Checking, and Smart-Answer varieties. As Harry was able to move through, he could see a product which featured a tiny little wooden man slowly ascending the steps to a real set of gallows, both perched on a box which read: REUSABLE HANGMAN - SPELL IT OR HE'LL SWING!
Next, Harry went to inspect something called "Patented Daydream Charms." Harry picked up one of the boxes, which bore a highly colored picture of a handsome youth and a swooning girl who were standing on the deck of the pirate ship. "'One simple incantation and you will enter a top-quality, highly realistic, thirty-minute daydream, easy to fit into the average school lesson and virtually undetectable (side effects include vacant expression and minor drooling). Not sale for under-sixteens.' You know, I can easily see people using these in Binns' History of Magic classes," Harry mused.
"Yeah, we thought so too," said a voice from behind him and Lupin.
A beaming Fred stood before them, wearing a set of magenta robes that clashed magnificently with his flaming hair.
"How are you, Harry?" They shook hands. "And you, Remus?"
"Very well, thanks," Lupin said as they shook hands. "This place seems even more impressive since the last time I dropped by."
"That was only a few days ago," Fred pointed out.
"I know, that was my point," Lupin elaborated.
Fred's face lit up with understanding. "Ah, of course." After taking a quick look around, Fred said, "Why don't I give you both a tour?" In a more hushed voice, he then added, "You know, being our first investor and the last Marauder..."
"Please, lead the way," Lupin said with a cheerful smile.
Harry was still coming to terms with how the thousand Galleons which he gave to Fred and George more than a year ago was able to contribute to all of this. However, he put those thoughts aside and followed the twins along with his mentor.
The two of them followed Fred toward the back of the shop, where he saw a stand of card and rope tricks.
"Muggle magic tricks!" said Fred happily, pointing them out. "For freaks like Dad, you know, who love Muggle stuff. It's not a big earner, but we do fairly steady business, they're great novelties. ...Oh, here's George..."
Fred's twin shook Harry's hand energetically, and then did the same with Lupin.
"Giving them the tour? Come through the back, Harry, Remus, that's where we're making the real money - pocket anything, you, and you'll pay in more than Galleons!" he added warningly to a small boy who hastily whipped his hand out of the tub which said something but had it crossed out.
"What was in that tub originally?" Harry asked as the boy ran away, peering closely at the crossed-out words which he could just barely make out: EDIBLE DARK MARKS - THEY'LL MAKE ANYONE SICK!
"Well, originally," George explained, "we had these products called 'Edible Dark Marks,' as you can see."
"But then we realized something which would mean trouble for us," Fred added.
"That Voldemort wouldn't appreciate you using his mark like that?" Harry speculated.
"Not just that," George admitted.
"What if You-Know-Who had a /lawyer/?" Fred muttered.
They both gave a small shudder which seemed to be genuine.
"Good thinking," Harry admitted.
"Right," Fred said, clearly wanting to change the subject. "Now, moving on..."
George pushed back a curtain beside the Muggle tricks and Harry saw a darker, less crowded room. The packaging on the products lining these shelves was more subdued.
"We've just developed this more serious line," said Fred. "Funny how it happened..."
"You wouldn't believe how many people, even people who work at the Ministry, can't do a decent Shield Charm," said George. "'Course, they didn't have you teaching them, Harry."
"So we started tinkering with these ideas for products which could be used, not to prank people, but to protect people," Fred explained. "Everyone - Ministry employees or otherwise - could really benefit from what we have to offer and can come up with."
"But at the same time, anyone with secret connections to You-Know-Who or his Death Eaters could just as easily walk into our store and buy it for themselves," George pointed out.
"So, we sent an owl to the Ministry of Magic, proposing that we could come up with inventions for them - weapons if you want to call them that - which could help defend them and innocent people or take down evil wizards," Fred summed up.
"Interesting idea," Harry commented, intrigued. "But what about corruption in the Ministry?"
"That occurred to us, Harry," Lupin told him. "However, the Ministry is currently investigating into all of its employees right now, even as we speak. I believe Professor Dumbledore is there right now, discussing something with Madame Bones. We're making sure that we can do whatever we can to make sure potential weapons don't fall into the wrong hands."
"In the meantime, while we're still waiting to hear back from them, we're still continuing our research and development," George continued. "For example, look at this... Instant Darkness Powder, which we're importing from Peru. Handy if you want to make a quick escape. Of course, we're making sure that no one gets their hands on this just yet..."
"And our Decoy Detectors are walking off the shelves, look," said Fred, pointing at a number of weird-looking black horn-type objects that were indeed attempting to scurry out of sight. "You just drop one surreptitiously and it'll turn off and make a nice loud noise out of sight, giving you a diversion if you need one."
"Handy," said Harry, impressed.
"Here," said George, catching a couple and throwing them to Harry.
"Thanks," Harry said, pocketing them. "So, what sorts of 'weapons' are you currently working on? Something like those Portable Swamps?"
Both Fred and George looked surprised. "Wow, you're a good guesser, because guess what?" George said with a grin. "As a matter of fact, we are. We're also going to throw in plenty of nasty things along with it, too."
"But, since we can trust you both, why don't we show you?" Fred proposed to him and Lupin with a wink.
With that, the twins led them both to a trapdoor on the opposite end of the room. George climbed down first while Fred watched to make sure that no one had seen or followed them.
Inside was a huge underground cellar, underneath the store above, filled with all kinds of random objects in various states of disrepair from being tinkered with and taken apart. The walls, floor and ceiling were all made of the same drab, huge gray building stones. There were mannequins, umbrellas, music players, television sets... and was that a Muggle limousine being disassembled over there?
"Ah, here we go," Fred said, walking over to a huge tank with a dark curtain over it.
"Lo and behold, Harry," George said with suspense, "the Portable Swamp for Aurors!"
Together, they ripped the curtain away, revealing a tank filled with a Portable Swamp so big that the Muggle limousine could have easily been submerged in it. Strange things lurked in its murky depths, which came up to the surface only to breathe.
"I think I see hinkypunks, grindylows... and is that a Kappa in there?" Harry asked, squinting. He peered closer, until his face was a few inches away from the glass. The next moment, something he couldn't quite recognize suddenly pressed itself against the glass and made a disgusting squelching sound, causing Harry to gasp in surprise and stumble backwards and fall flat on his backside.
The twins sniggered and even Lupin gave a small grin. "Yes, I believe that was a Kappa, Harry," Lupin said, offering his hand to help Harry up. "Glad to see I taught you well."
"Thanks," Harry grunted as Lupin helped him back up onto his feet.
"So, what do you think?" Fred asked him.
"I think," Harry said slowly and slyly, "that I just might pity any Death Eaters who find themselves dealing with your products designed to fight them... such as this version of the Portable Swamp."
"Ah, such an endorsement from the Boy Who Lived himself!" George said, clutching his chest with mock shock.
"Anyway, we also have some smaller, more deceptive things over here," Fred said, walking over to a work station with a table. He rummaged around on it, and turned around to face them again, holding a bright red quill in one hand and a neon blue quill in the other.
"Surprise Quillls - or at least we're calling them that until we think of better names for them," Fred explained. "The red quill is designed to explode. The blue quill is designed to deliver a severe electric shock."
"Observe," Geroge said as he accepted the red quill from his twin and walked over to a bunch of concrete cinderblocks stacked in a sort of pyramid shape, which was several meters away. As he walked, he took out his wand, tapped the quill twice with it and said, "Verbi magici sunt 'Quill go boom.'" George dropped it into the pile of cinderblocks, briskly strode back over, and said loud enough for all to hear, "Quill go boom!"
Seven seconds later, the pile of cinderblocks then exploded and collapsed in a pile of rubbish, dust and smoke. A few small chunks actually went flying in various directions; a particularly big chunk actually hit the limousine, causing the alarm to go off. However, the alarm sounded garbled somehow, and died off after a minute or so.
"Eh, it always does that," George said with a shrug. "Pay it no heed."
"Now as for the other quill," Fred said, "Watch and observe..."
Fred then walked over to the tank where the creatures still lurked in the special Portable Swamp, muttering the same incantation as George did. He then tossed it up over the edge of the tank and walked back. He then said aloud, "Quill go boom!"
Seven seconds later, there was a sudden flash of light from inside the tank as the quill went off, electrocuting all the creatures which were inside.
"Eh, don't worry, they'll be fine," George said, waving it aside even though the creatures began floating to the surface and a bit of smoke was coming off of them.
"If you say so," Harry shrugged innocently. "Although I actually got a couple of ideas for such 'weapons' just now..."
"Really?" Fred asked, his interest perking up.
"Well, then, let's hear them," George encouraged their investor.
"For some reason, that day we first met at Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters sticks out," Harry confessed, "especially with the thing about the Hogwarts toilet seat."
"Wait, what are you proposing, a Tackling Toilet Seat or something?" Fred asked with a chuckle.
Harry shrugged. "Something like that, I guess..."
"Brilliant!" George exclaimed, slapping his hand on Harry's back. "Perfect way to attack unwitting evil-doers in the bathroom!"
"I think I may have just unwittingly given new meaning to the term 'toilet humor,'" Harry muttered. Lupin stifled his own laughter.
"Ah Harry, you really are the son of a Marauder," Fred sighed. "Your mischievous powers and talents just go unused..."
"Yes indeed, dear brother," George added. "It seems that Prongs Junior does not care for the Marauders' legacy..."
"Alright, that's enough, you two," Harry snapped. Taking a deep breath to calm himself, he went on, "And so, for my other idea... I dunno, some sort of trick carpet to mess up anyone walking on it..."
"You mean like a conveyer belt or something?" George supplied helpfully.
"Yeah, I suppose," Harry confessed.
"Conveyer Belt Carpets..." Fred muttered. Both twins' faces light up as they realized the possibilities. "Brilliant!" they shouted as one.
Just then, there was a clatter, and all four of them turned to see a tea set fall off a table and onto the floor... but show no signs of damage whatsoever.
"Oh, that," George said, gesturing towards it with his hand. "Just a prototype for our Tackling Tea Set design..."
"Okay, now I have to ask, what is that?" Harry said, unable to look away from it and wondering how it might attack something or someone.
"Observe," Fred announced, and with a wave of his wand, he shouted "Activate!"
Suddenly, the tea set came to life. The four teacups landed on the floor upside-down and the tray floated upside-down mere inches above those. However, looking closer, Harry could see that there were things like red strings connecting the tray to the teacups by their handles. The teapot itself, also connected by a sort of red string, floated barely an inch or so above the tray like a kind of head. The spoon that went with the tea set flicked behind it like some sort of tail. All in all, it looked like some strange parody of a turtle.
Turning its "head," the Tackling Tea Pot "saw" the four of them. Like some bizarre imitation of a dog, it whistled and trotted over to them.
"I think it likes you, Harry," Lupin commented with a grin as it fawned at Harry's legs.
"You think?" Harry muttered as he discretely moved away a few inches, only to have the enchanted item simply come up next to him again.
"As you can see, we're still working on having it actually tackle people," George explained.
"Notably those whom it should be attacking, such as Death Eaters," Fred added.
For whatever reason, Harry then had a sudden mental image of Wormtail trying to serve Voldemort tea with what was really a Tackling Tea Pot, only to have one or both of them get tackled by it. He uncontrollably snickered for a moment before getting control of himself.
Just then, however, he felt something wet at his feet. Alarmed, he looked down to see the "head" of the thing pouring tea at his feet.
Fred, George and Lupin were all grinning and vainly trying to stop themselves from laughing as Harry looked down at it, repulsed.
"Well," Lupin said after a moment, although his voice trembled with laughter, "it could be worse, you know... like if a dog tried to -"
"Not one more word, Professor," Harry said warningly.
"Deactivate!" Fred said, and the thing became inactive once again, flipping itself onto its back, having its "red strings" disappear and taking on the appearance of a completely normal, innocent-looking tea set.
"Well, that's all we really have to show you for the moment," George told Harry. "However, there is one other thing... nah, you might not want to see it..."
"No, it's okay, I'm curious now," Harry said. "What is it?"
"Follow us," George said, leading them over to another counter across the room from the Muggle limousine. On it was what looked like a Muggle cereal box. On the front of it, in flashy letters in rainbow colors, were the words "WEASLEY MUNCHIES," and under that was a blurb which read: A chuckle in every bowl!
Harry raised an eyebrow. Turning to the twins, he said, "I'm almost afraid to ask."
"Then don't, and just let us demonstrate," Fred said with a grin. With a wave of his wand, he shouted, "Activate!"
Suddenly, both Fred and George ran back, and Harry began to shout, "Hey, wait a minute-!"
The box of cereal literally exploded in Harry's face. As the pieces of cereal rained down, Harry slowly turned around to look at the smirking twins.
"Very funny," he said flatly, as he tried to fight back his own grin.
"You got some of it in your hair, Harry," Lupin politely pointed out.
"Thanks," he muttered, trying to remove it all as best he could.
Just then, both twins whipped out their watches in perfect sync, and both shouted, "Merlin's beard!"
"What's wrong?" Harry asked, removing the last bits of their exploding cereal from his messy hair.
"We have an appointment with another potential investor or two," Fred explained.
"Our products are really turning heads, Harry," George added.
"There have been rumors of us trying to run Gambol & Japes out of business-"
"Maybe even Zonko's in Hogsmeade-"
"But the truth of the matter is... we really don't want to do that to either store."
"Those places, both here in Diagon Alley and there in Hogsmeade, were our sources of inspiration, our sanctuaries, when we were still Hogwarts students ourselves."
"We know it's the nature of the game when you own a business to be able to survive among the competition, and sometimes to force the competition out of if you truly have to, but all the same, we don't have the will or the intent to deliberately drive them out of business and take their place."
"We only plan to take their place if they want to give it up because they want to retire or something."
"How noble of you," Harry said to the twins with completely sincerity.
"Thanks, we know we are," Fred and George said as one.
And with that, they led their guests back out to the back room above.
A young witch with short blonde hair poked her hair around the curtain; Harry saw that she too was wearing magenta staff robes.
"Your potential new investor is here, Mr. Weasley and Mr. Weasley," she said. "He's out waiting by the joke cauldrons."
Harry found it very odd to hear Fred and George called "Mr. Weasley," but they took it in their stride.
"Right you are, Verity, we'll be right there," said George promptly. "Harry, you help yourself to anything you want, all right? No charge."
"I can't do that!" said Harry, who had already pulled out his money bag to pay for the Decoy Detonators.
"You don't pay here," said Fred firmly, waving away Harry's gold.
"You gave us our start-up loan, we haven't forgotten," said George sternly. "Take whatever you like, and just remember to tell people where you got it, if they ask."
George swept off through the curtain to help with the new investor, and Fred led Harry back into the main part of the shop, with Lupin following behind them.
"Ah, and there he is," said Fred. Turning to Harry and Lupin, he said, "Well, I'm sure you two will manage. Cheers!" And with that, the twins were away, looking forward to talking with a new customer and potential investor.
"So, going to get anything, Harry?" Lupin asked as he browsed through their selections of fake wands.
"I dunno... I guess I just feel bad about taking any of this stuff from Fred and George, even if I did help them," Hary confessed.
"I know how you feel about fame and gratitude, Harry," Lupin said as he selected a fake wand which turned into a ferret and pocketed it, "but sometimes you just have to accept these little honors as you go along."
"I suppose so," Harry said. "If I do get anything for free from them, it will probably be some of their defensive things which they were showing us earlier." (He said this is a quiet voice, since there were other people around, and the twins' projects were still secret in their development.)
Several minutes later, the twins returned from their meeting with their potential new investor, a portly middle-aged wizard with graying hair and a boyish smile on his face. As he walked out with a joke cauldron filled with a few other goods, Fred and George came back to Harry and Lupin, wearing pleased smiles on their faces.
"Well, we've got a new investor on our side," Fred said. "He certainly chose well."
"Yeah, Mum will probably be very pleased with how well we're doing with our business these days," George added. "And we've only been open for a few months!"
Harry turned to the twins. "By the way, however did your mum support what you were doing?"
"Well, when we told her that you funded us-" started Fred.
"And showed her our projected sales for the next year or so-" continued George.
"We offered to cut her five percent of our profits-"
"She thought for a few seconds-"
"Wrapped us into a big hug-"
"And told us-"
"'I'M SO PROUD OF YOU TWO!'" the both finished dramatically.
Harry laughed at this and went over to inspect some more products. He was just looking at something called "U-No-Poo" when someone softly and politely cleared her throat behind him. He turned around to see who it was.
It was Cho Chang.
"Can we talk?"
(End of Chapter 7.)
A/N: So, was this funny?
Regarding the concept of a "Portkey Room"... what do you think? I thought it made sense.
The trick quill as a weapon which could either electrocute the victim or even explode was inspired by the pen grenade in my favorite James Bond movie, 007: GoldenEye/. More than a year ago, I wanted to write a /Harry Potter parody of GoldenEye in time for the movie's tenth anniversary, but that never happened. I don't know if I'll ever be able to write it, but I at least wanted to put in this fic what my take on a magical, Harry Potter version of that pen grenade might be in such a parody.
Also, as for the Exploding Cereal... I got the idea for that from watching /Kill Bill/. In the beginning of the first half of the movie, there's a scene where Copperhead (Vivica A. Fox) tries to kill Black Mamba (Uma Thurman) with a gun concealed in a cereal box, which reads "KABOOM" on it. It seems that Quentin Tarantino has a thing for obscure cereals. Funny.
"Verbi magici sunt..." is Latin for "The magic words are..." In other words (no pun intended), it's the incantation needed to set the special phrase for the quill.