Title: April Fools 2
Fandom: Harry Potter
Disclaimer: The story is mine. EVERYTHING else is not. No rights. No money. Nothing.
Summary: Fred and a sick George scheme, but the day comes back to bite them.
Note: Started on April Fools Day 2004, finished on the morning of April 2nd
Fred and George sat pouring over the list in front of them. Pricing had always been their most difficult task. It was hard to place a price on true genius, they believed, and as they not only had a unique insight into the prankster's mind but opportunity and location, it was difficult not to add up all those advantages along with brilliance into a high price. Of course, their customers weren't the type to be able to pay a lot. They'd need to rely on quantity sold more than anything. Because once a Canary Cream was eaten, it was gone for good. Disposable, one-use pranks were certainly the most lucrative. But the cost of manufacturing was also quite high.
"Hey, Fred! George!" called Angelina, walking into the Gryffindor common room and spotting them huddled in the corner. She began giggling. "Happy April Fools Day. You always seem to top yourself every year. Last year with the switched around hallways. That was brilliant." She waved and headed up to the girls' dormitory.
Fred and George smiled at each other. "Brilliant, you see?" George said. "We can definitely charge two sickles for a Wall-top Wonder. We've got the alliteration thing going. We could make it our star product."
"They're all star products," Fred argued. "And of course she's going to say we're brilliant. She's Angelina."
"Yeah, but..." his breath caught and he bowed his head quickly, turning it away from the list. "huh-huhShahhh! hehShhhh! hahShuhhh!"
With a hand on George's chin, directing his head back, Fred bent his own head forward and touched their foreheads together. "Think your fever's getting worse," he said. "Think we should move operations back to bed for the afternoon."
"I'm okay," George insisted, but already felt himself slipping into Fred's control. Born minutes before, Fred had always been the more vibrant and controlling one. Which was saying a lot, considering how energetic and up-front George could be. "I'm not really tired. And I'd rather not get up." His eyes darted to the fire crackling just a few meters away. It was the beginning of April, but still cold and dreary outside and a nice warm fire was quite comforting.
"All right," Fred said, apparently convinced. "But if you start feeling any worse, I'm marching you straight up to bed. Got it?"
George agreed, sniffling, clearing his throat. He leaned a little closer to Fred. "So, what about these three?" he pointed to the bottom three on the list. Snack cakes that turned faces colors, levitated their eaters, and disappeared the moment the first bite was taken. "You reckon we could make a variety pack out of them? Sell them like wildflowers. Never know which is which."
"A surprise to the prankster as much as the victim..." mused Fred. "Yeah, that could work." He made a note of it on the form.
"Hey guys!" called Mark Waring, a sixth year who'd just entered the common room. "Just wanted to say that you're tops. Can't imagine an April Fools now without you blokes to liven things up. And this year's is the best yet!"
Before Fred and-or George could reply with thanks or anything else for that matter, several second years piped up as well. "Oohhh yes!" said one girl. "Really good."
"Brilliant!" agreed the boy playing chess with her.
They all looked so enraptured, that neither twin wanted to contradict them. "Thanks, everyone," Fred said with his normal charm. Then as soon as Mark had headed to their dormitory and the third years' attention returned to their game, Fred bowed his head.
George leaned in close, his face mirroring the concern. "What are they talking about?" George asked. "We haven't pulled an April Fools Day prank yet this year! We were going to do it at dinner."
"I know!" hissed Fred, his voice a whisper. "I've no clue what they're all about. Maybe they're taking our lack of a prank to be a prank in and of itself?"
George nodded in thought as he considered this. "Well it's true they wouldn't expect that from us. We've had everyone on edge all day. Even Madam Pomfrey was jumpy when we went down for Pepper-up." Not that it had helped George much. His cold had been too far along by that point. Fred's hadn't shown itself yet, but they both knew it was only a matter of time. When one got sick, the other was very quick to follow.
"hehShhhh! hihShahhh! hehShuhhh! hehShahhh!" George sneezed in quick succession, hand cupped to his face. His thin, longish hair bounced around on his head as he snapped forward at each sneeze, careful to catch each. Even if they both knew Fred was going to get sick, even they weren't going to risk things quite that much. He sniffled and recovered as quickly as he could.
"You sure you're feeling well enough to stay down here?" Fred pressed.
George nodded, though he was already rethinking the decision. "Sure. How about you. Any cold symptoms yet? Sore throat? Runny nose?"
Fred shook his head. "Nah, I feel great." He already spoke in a soft whisper, as they didn't want their plans leaking out to other students, but he lowered his voice even more. "Just wished you felt so well."
George gave him a soft smile. "I'll be all right. I've got you to look after me. And it's just a cold. Easy enough to put up with when there's so much more going on." They were both starting to worry a bit about this prank everyone was talking about. The staff and students were really expecting a lot from them this year.
Since they'd given the Marauder's Map to Harry earlier in the year, they'd had to be careful about what pranks they pulled, even on the prankster's holiday. They'd been using the morning to collect research from jokers and their targets in order to figure out which were their most marketable products for this particular day, and how much to discount things if they were to make a good sale. This year they'd been more concerned with the possibility of a store and spending the whole upcoming summer inventing. But they knew they had a reputation to uphold, even with one of them sick and had a good one planned for dinnertime that was sure to amuse everyone.
"I just don't get it," Fred shrugged. "They seem to think we've done something already... you gonna sneeze?"
George had that look about him, mouth hanging open, blankness passing over his face. He nodded and cupped a hand to his nose and mouth. "huhChhhh! huhShhhhh!" He sniffled hard, his nostrils still twitching with a tickle. George felt a hand against the back of his head, stroking gently. He closed his eyes and kept his hand raised, waiting for the sneeze to work itself up properly. This cold had brought with it a terribly mild fever and a scratchy throat, but mostly just a great deal of sneezing. "heh..." he tried luring it out, to little result.
"Can I do anything to help?" asked Fred softly, looking on sympathetically. He dug around in his pocket, searching for a tissue.
George shook his head, feeling helpless as well. He could do nothing except wait for it to strike. "hehh... hehhhh..." He waved his other hand in front of his face, signaling that it was close, that it was coming, and trying to get it to get there faster. "heh-heh-IHShhhhhh!" He sniffed hard and wiped his hand under his nose before he noticed the tissue Fred had in hand. He sighed and closed his eyes as Fred wiped his nose gently for him. "Thanks," he whispered, exhausted by the sneeze. He was starting to feel that maybe finishing this in bed might be a better strategy.
Before he could propose the move, Oliver Wood came through the portrait hole chuckling. He came right over, all smiles, even though there was a bit of concern in his eyes. "How're you two feeling?" he asked. "Still sure you'll be well for our game against Slytherin?"
"Positive," George said between sniffles.
"We're sure," Fred agreed, quickly pocketing the list They were still in the planning stage and they weren't about to have Oliver lecture them about needing to practice more than play at this joke shop idea. They got enough lectures from their mother and didn't need another from Oliver just now.
"Good," Oliver looked relieved. His smile spread into a grin. "Wanted to congratulate you on this year's April Fools. After last year I was doubtful you'd be able to top it, but this... completely through me for a loop, you know? I mean, you had me fooled for a while there before I remembered what day it was." He laughed. Nervous but as though they fully understood the joke, both twins joined in with the laughter. Oliver went on. "Brilliant, guys. And totally unexpected."
Fred and George exchanged looks, still faking their amusement. "Yeah, you're telling us!" Fred joked. George just coughed.
"I mean, I was expecting something big from you two like usual. Exploding books in the library or the giant squid flopping about in the great hall or something. But this... to spread a rumor. I had no idea you were so clever. You really had me fooled. And I wanted to say congratulations for that." He hit both of them on the sides of their arms, then stood and turned to go.
"Ah, Olly?" George piped up, stopping him. "Just... just because we know how rumors can snowball..."
"Which is what makes them so much fun," added Fred quickly, as though pretending that it was indeed their joke in the first place.
George nodded. "Can we ask exactly what it was you heard?"
Oliver shrugged. "Just the basic rumor, I assume. That you two are poofs and like doing it with each other." He chuckled. "Really brilliant, Guys. I was ready to kick you off the team and everything." The twins looked less amused and more shocked. "April Fools!" he exclaimed with a laugh. "Really, feel better. And great job." He waved a hand. Then he turned and left, leaving Fred and George rather frozen on the spot.
"Merlin!" George whispered.
"Shite!" Fred exclaimed simultaneously.
But further conversation on the topic was halted by the sudden arrival of the twins' friend, Lee Jordan. He waved his wand to pull a chair over to them at once and sat down, looking anxious. "I swear I didn't say a thing to anyone!" he said right off, which was usually a sure sign that the person had indeed said something. But Lee wasn't that type of person. He was loyal to a fault. "I don't have any clue how people found out!" he said. "But if it makes you feel any better, they all think it's just a joke."
"Oh, yeah," said Fred, rolling his eyes. George reached out and took his hand, giving it a squeeze. "Yeah, that makes me feel so much better!"
"Think I need to go lie down," George whispered, leaning to the side, against Fred for support. "I suddenly feel a whole lot worse, and I just don't mean my cold."
Fred wrapped his arm around George's back and, making sure no one was watching them except for Lee, kissed his cheek gently. "We'll make it through this," he reassured his twin, squeezing his hand tightly. "We can handle anything together, right?"
George nodded weakly. "Want to go upstairs now," he whispered, resting his head on Fred's shoulder as Fred rubbed a hand up and down his back. He cupped his hand to his face again. "hehIHHShhhh! hehShuhhhh!" He snapped forward with each, helpless against their strength.
"I'll help," Lee offered, flanking George on his other side. He and Fred pulled George up and led him upstairs and away from prying eyes. They made a line straight for George's bed, which Fred always slept anyway. Fred crawled beneath the covers even before George, getting the pillows and blankets adjusted then wrapping his arms around his twin as they settled into bed together.
"What should I say when people ask me?" Lee asked, absentmindedly tucking the covers around the twins.
George turned and snuggled into Fred's chest affectionately. He liked to listen to Fred's heartbeat to comfort himself. And Fred liked to stroke George's head to comfort himself. Though this time he found the hair a bit damp from the fever that was still supposedly mild. Fred sighed and shook his head. "Just laugh along with them, I guess."
"That's what I've been doing," Lee said. He was now straightening the things on the nightstand. Box of tissues. Empty glass. Book. He sighed as well. "Look, I'm just sorry. I wish there was more I could do. But I'll try my best to keep it under control at least."
Fred and George thanked him, and he left soon thereafter to give the twins much needed privacy. George broke away to pull the tissue box into bed with them. His nose was already tickling again. "hehhShuhhh! hahShhhh! hahShahhh!" Fred fed him tissues as he needed them for snuffling and rubbing and blowing his nose gently now and again.
"So do you think we should still do the prank tonight?" asked George, already thinking ahead once the sudden distraction of sneezes had left. "They might realize that was our prank and this rumor wasn't. And then the might put two and two together."
He made a good point. Fred ran his hand through George's hair as he thought. "But we've never gone an April Fools without playing at least one trick. I don't want this horrible thing and its horrible timing to make us break that tradition."
George understood. He hadn't wanted his badly timed cold to make them call it off, either. But at the same time, something would have to be done. They couldn't let the whole school think they were sleeping together. Even if that was true. "Nap?" George suggested, rubbing at his nose. "Maybe it will seem clearer when we wake up."
Fred agreed and they snuggled closer beneath the covers as they drifted off to sleep in thought.