The Sugar Quill
Author: Menya  Story: Managing Mischief  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Disclaimer: All the characters, settings, etc. belong to JK Rowling.

Managing Mischief



"You see anybody?" hissed Fred, peaking around the corner from behind a statue.

"No," George, keeping lookout, hissed back. "Do it now!" He tossed a small bag at Fred, who nimbly caught it.

The First Year Weasley twins were in a deserted corridor of the Dungeons, just around the corner from where they had previously figured out the entrance to the Slytherin Common room lie. Although they couldn't get inside, they could still do some mischief outside.

"Hurry up!" insisted George.

Fred held up a hand, "Wait just a second! I see Mrs. Norris coming. I want her to be in range first."

"Good idea," nodded George. "Just don't take too long. Wherever she is, Filch is never too far behind."

"She's almost there..."

George looked around and whispered, "The coast is still clear."

"Ready..." Fred scooped something out of the bag. "Set..." He held the tip of his wand to the lump and it started to fizzle. "Go!" He lobbed the fizzing blob around the corner into the middle of the hallway, just outside the Slytherin entrance. It landed just a few inches from Mrs. Norris, a thin, grey cat, who sniffed at it suspiciously before -

BANG!

It exploded in a puff of black, foul smelling smoke, leaving a gooey, nondescript splattering all over everything - the walls, the floor, even the ceiling. A noxious smell permeated the area. Mrs. Norris, absolutely covered in the stuff, hissed loudly.

Fred and George beat a hasty retreat, nearly doubling up with laughter as they ran. They paused on a landing, listening for sounds of pursuit. Hearing none, they were satisfied they'd gotten away with it.

"That was excellent!" beamed George, taking the bag back from Fred and sticking it in his pocket.

"A brilliant stroke of luck, Mrs. Norris showing up when she did," agreed Fred, wiping tears from his eyes.

Feeling quite pleased with themselves, the twins skipped their way up a flight of steps, rounded a corner - and came face to face with Filch, the caretaker and owner of Mrs. Norris, who was waiting for them. Mrs. Norris, whose eyes were the only thing recognizable about her anymore, hissed at them accusingly from between Filch's feet. Filch was absolutely livid.

"That is it! I've had it with you two!" His face was red and his voice shook with rage. "Into my office! Now!"

Mrs. Norris ran ahead, leaving a great reek in her wake as Filch stormed along the corridor, the twins trailing behind with their noses pinched. Filch stopped and unlocked one of his mop closets, opening it only enough for Mrs. Norris to slip through.

"I'll be with you in a moment, my sweet," Filch called in to her in a consoling voice before softly shutting the door. He glowered at the two boys before leading them to another door, going through a series of locks to open it.

"Don't be getting any ideas," he glared at them as he did this. "These locks are charmed, so no spells will work on them." He impatiently flung the door open.

"In!" he jabbed a finger into the room. The boys walked nonchalantly inside, looking around with great interest. They had never been inside his office before. Filch slammed the door behind him and immediately started yelling.

"Dungbombs! Do you two have any idea how horrid those are to clean up? They're stubborn and need to be scrubbed and scraped off everything. It takes forever! But would you two care about that? No! As long as you can have your little fun. But now...now you've gone too far! You've covered my poor, sweet, innocent Mrs. Norris."

Fred and George exchanged looks. Mrs. Norris was anything but sweet and innocent. She was a menace, always sneaking around, trying to catch students breaking rules so she could alert Filch.

"I'm going to make sure you two get punished for this!" Filch rifled through a desk drawer until he produced a particular piece of parchment. He angrily scribbled on it as he continued his tirade. "It'll be detention for both of you! Although I daresay that's too good for you. You both ought to be hung by your thumbs from the ceiling. Time was when corporal punishment was perfectly acceptable, before folks started getting too soft. I tell you, sometimes a good torturing is the only thing that'll get through to rapscallions like you. You two are the worst terrors I've seen in over a decade...."

He continued ranting, but Fred and George had long since tuned him out. Truthfully, they were starting to get a little bored. And antsy. That's when Fred spotted something. Just to the right of Filch's desk was a file cabinet. That wasn't so unusual, his office had dozens of them. But what caught Fred's attention was the label on one of the drawers: 'Confiscated and Highly Dangerous', and that drawer was ajar! This was just too good to pass up. With a mischievous twinkle in his eye, he looked over at George and gave a slight nod in that direction. George glanced at the filing cabinet, smiled a secret smile at Fred and barely touched his pocket. Fred nodded imperceptibly. They both looked back to Filch just as he finished filling out the form, slamming the quill down on his desk so hard he nearly broke the tip off. He looked from Fred to George, who now wore identical, blank, vaguely innocent looks on their faces with their hands behind their backs. Filch narrowed his eyes.

"Hmph!" he snorted, offended his scolding hadn't had more of an effect on them. "Now, this is going straight to Professor McGonagall. Let's see what you have to say for yourselves when she gets through with you. Bet you'll be sorry then. What the - ?" for he'd heard a fizzing sound and saw George kick at something.

BANG!

Another Dungbomb exploded. Right underneath his desk. A bit of it splattered on his face and in his eye. As he reeled from the shock and wiped furiously at his eyes, Fred took his cue. He made a mad dash for the cabinet, deftly opened the top drawer, made a blind grab, and hastily stuck a few items in his pocket before shutting the drawer and rejoining George before Filch managed to clear his eyes.

"Why you little!...It's straight off to McGonagall, for both of you!" he cried and marched them directly to the head of Gryffindor House's office. Professor McGonagall was none too pleased at being disturbed on a Saturday.

Fred and George left her office a short while later. She had taken 50 points from Gryffindor, the most amount of points the twins had lost thus far. Rather than a delayed detention, however, their punishment was to clean up the mess - without magic - straight away. Filch thought they had gotten off way too easily and said as much. He didn't trust to leave the two of them alone, so he kept a close supervision on them as they worked, taking great delight in gloating, "You see? It's not so easy to clean, now is it?" or in tormenting, "You missed a spot!"

After hours of scrubbing, Filch finally sniffed, "Well, I guess that's the best that can be expected of you two," when both the hall and his entire office were spotless. He then escorted them straight back to Gryffindor Tower to prevent them from doing anymore mischief. As if they had the energy to do anything more than head straight for bed, their arms aching terribly.

"What happened to you two?" Lee Jordan asked when they got to their room. "You look awful!"

"Don't ask!" groaned George as he flopped down on his bed without changing.

"Got caught by Filch," Fred explained wearily, slowly taking off his shoes.

"That bad, huh?" Lee sympathized. "What'd you do this time?"

"Oh, nothing really," yawned George.

"Just set off a Dungbomb in the corridor," said Fred as he got undressed.

"And let off another one in Filch's office," George added. "I mean, you'd think we'd seriously offended him or something!"

"Just because both he and Mrs. Norris got splattered with some of it - "

"Most of it - "

"It could've happened to anybody. I mean, Mrs. Norris wasn't even supposed to be there!"

"It was just an added bonus."

"Now what was the harm in any of it? Filch just doesn't know how to have fun."

"No sense of humor whatsoever."

Lee grinned, "You really got both Mrs. Norris and Filch? Brilliant!"

"Yeah," agreed Fred, crawling into bed. "It would've been better if we hadn't gotten caught, though. I sure could've done without the scrubbing workout."

"We almost got away, too," lamented George. "Then Filch showed up out of nowhere..."

"There ought to be a way to keep track of Filch," Lee said.

"Yeah," agreed Fred, "But short of putting a bell around his neck, there really is no good way to do it. Right, George?" But George had already fallen asleep.

******


The next morning the twins slept late. The other three had long since gone to breakfast, so the boys had the room to themselves. George woke up first and threw a pillow at Fred to wake him up.

"Oi! What you do that for?" Fred asked grumpily, sitting up. He had slept hard on one side and now had pillow creases on his face and a major case of Bed Head. One side of his red hair was either plastered to his head or sticking straight up.

George snorted, "Nice hair style you got going there, Fred."

"You should talk," Fred retorted, eyeing the wrinkled mess that was George's robes.

George shrugged and stood up. He grabbed his wand and preformed a simple de-wrinkle charm on them. "Good thing I've seen Mum perform this spell a thousand times before."

"Yeah, well, with the sorry state you keep your clothes, it's no wonder," Fred remarked as he lay back down, turning his back on George.

"Come on!" George shook Fred. "Get up already!"

"Stop it! It's Sunday," Fred said lazily. "What's the point?"

"The point is," George lectured, "that I for one want to see what it is exactly that you managed to grab out of Filch's files!"

Fred sat up, suddenly wide awake. He sprang from bed and grabbed his robe off the chair. "It'd better be worth what we went through to get it," he remarked, digging around in his pockets.

"Come on! Come on!" George urged.

Fred gave up and dumped the contents of his robe - a small green disc, an old piece of parchment, and a pack of Exploding Snap cards - onto his bed. They surveyed the contents a moment.

"Hey, isn't that the pack of Super-Charged Exploding Snap cards that Filch caught us with three months ago?"

Fred examined them more carefully.

"Sure is," he grinned and put the pack away in his trunk. "Glad to have them back again." He then pointed to the small green disc, "Wonder what that does?"

"Dunno," George shrugged. "But I can't wait to find out!"

Fred frowned and picked up a very old and worn piece of parchment.

"Wonder why this was in there?" he asked as he examined it.

"That's not yours?" George asked.

"No," Fred shook his head. "I pulled it out of the drawer." He carefully unfolded it and turned it over. "It's blank!"

"Well, that certainly doesn't look very dangerous, now does it?" George wondered as he took the parchment to examine. "Maybe Filch dropped it in there by mistake?"

"Hmmm...maybe. But I don't think so...I mean, it's obviously old, which means it's been there for a very long time. Surely Filch would've noticed by now if he had put it there by mistake."

"Good point. Then what could possibly be so bad about a blank piece of parchment?"

They thought a moment.

"Maybe it repels ink or something?" Fred suggested.

George shrugged. "Well, let's find out."

George set the parchment back on the bed and dug out his ink bottle. He brought it over to the parchment and uncapped it.

"What do you think you're doing?" Fred asked.

"I'm going to splash a bit on it and see what happens," George explained.

"Not on my bed you're not! I don't want ink all over my sheets."

George shrugged and set the parchment on the floor. Fred moved around the bed so he could see better. George carefully poured a few drops onto the parchment. They waited....nothing happened. The ink just stayed in a pool on the parchment.

"Maybe we should try writing on it?" Fred suggested.

George produced a quill from his pocket and dipped it in the ink pool on the parchment. Fred gave him a puzzled look.

"Well it's there, why not use it?" George shrugged. He took the quill and scribbled a little doodle. The ink just stayed in little rivers, barely touching the paper, then ran together and collected in the creases.

"Yeah, definitely a repelling charm on it," Fred noted.

George, never one to waste anything, be it materials or opportunities, carefully picked up the parchment, bent it in a trough, and poured the ink back in the bottle.

"Well, while this is slightly amusing," he said as he put the ink bottle away, "I just don't think it's 'dangerous'. Don't get me wrong, it might be fun to loan a spare bit of parchment to someone and watch their reaction, but..." He shoved the quill back in his pocket without wiping the tip off. "I just don't see why Filch would keep it in that drawer. 'Highly dangerous?' Maybe only to your hands and clothes when you smear ink on them from writing on it." Here he held out his own hands to demonstrate. Fred didn't say anything, he was looking at the parchment and thinking. George licked one finger and attempted to rub the ink off his hands.

"There must be something..." Fred muttered.

"What's that?" George asked distractedly, having succeeded only in making a larger smear.

"It's just that, you're right."

"Of course I am!...What am I right about?"

"Filch wouldn't have put it in there if that was all there were to it," Fred said slowly as he was working it out. "That parchment must be hiding something...And maybe that ink repelling charm is protecting it from getting damaged! Yes, that's it! I bet there is an anti-rip charm on it as well." He picked it up and gingerly tore at a corner. The parchment bent slightly, but refused to tear, not even when both Fred and George pulled at opposite ends.

"Whatever it is, it must be pretty important for someone to go to all this trouble," George remarked. "It must be pretty bad for Filch to have confiscated it."

"Or pretty good, depending on your point of view."

They were interrupted from further speculation when they heard footsteps and voices of boys talking as they came up the stairs. Fred hastily put the parchment back on his bed and flung the bed sheets over it and the green disc just as Lee and Wesley, two of their roommates, burst in the room.

"Glad to see you two sleeping beauties finally woke up," Lee said. "I was beginning to think you were waiting for a prince to come give you both a wake up kiss!" George made to grab him, but Lee dodged away, making kissing noises.

As George chased Lee around the room, Wesley looked at Fred's unusually messy bed and hair. He raised his eyebrows questioningly. Fred looked back at him innocently.

"Nice hair," Wesley commented as George managed to catch Lee with a flying tackle.

Fred reached his hands up and attempted to smooth his hair down.

"What? I just woke up, all right?"

Wesley just stared at him.

"You two are plotting something, aren't you?"

"I don't know what you mean," Fred said as he went to get dressed, stepping over George and Lee who were now trying to wrestle on the floor, but were laughing too hard to be successful. Wesley grinned.

"Just be sure to tell us about whatever it is when you've done it, all right?"

Lee sat up, out of breath, "Oh, I'm sure we will hear all about it once they've done it. Knowing these two, the whole school will."

Fred and George decided to go downstairs since they no longer had any privacy in their room. But the Common room was uncommonly populated as well. George raised his eyebrows at Fred as if to say 'now what?' Fred shrugged.

"What have you two been up to now?" Percy, their older brother, accused them as soon as they entered the room.

"Nothing!" said Fred, exasperated.

"We've only just woken up!" George added.

"Well, Gryffindor lost fifty points last night! You want to tell me why?" Percy demanded.

"Not really."

"I don't know why you two just can't behave!" Percy mumbled as he went to rejoin the other Third Years.

Fred and George decided to go to the library to do a bit of research, and although it didn't yield any information about the parchment, they did discover what the green disc was. With no information from the library, they didn't have another opportunity to explore the mystery of the parchment further until later that afternoon. But this time they were armed with a plan. They returned to Gryffindor Tower and asked Lee to gather a group of Gryffindors together for an impromptu snowball fight, which the twins then opted out of so they'd have their room all to themselves. A few boys wondered why they didn't join them, but Lee shushed them with, "Oh, those two have more important things to attend to!"

Percy overheard this and strode over with his hands on his hips in full lecture mode.

"Oh? And what could be so important to you two that you'd pass up the opportunity to play around? You'd better not be planning on breaking any more school rules. You've already caused enough trouble don't you think?"

"We're not going anywhere," Fred insisted. "Just up to our room."

"To plot something," Percy accused.

"To study."

Percy narrowed his eyes.

"It's true," George held up his Charms book as evidence.

"We've learned our lesson," Fred added. "Fifty points was a lot to lose. You're right. We should behave."

Percy looked suspicious, "You're mocking me, aren't you?"

George raised his eyebrows, "Now, would we do that?"

"Absolutely."

Fred put his hand on Percy's shoulder and looked him in the eyes.

"Percy," he said solemnly, "I swear, we have decided we should follow your good example."

Percy looked flattered. He knew Fred only said 'I swear' when he wanted someone to know he was being absolutely truthful.

"Really?" Percy said with disbelief, looking from one to the other.

George shrugged, "People can change, you know."

Percy beamed, "Well, well...I...I'm speechless. I'm proud of you two."

"Thanks Percy!" George ruffled his hair good-naturedly, much to Percy's chagrin.

"Well, you can't expect us to change all at once," George said with an apologetic grin.

Percy straightened his glasses. "Apparently not."

Fred and George skipped up the stairs to their room.

"Do you think we should feel bad about lying to Percy like that?" George asked when they were safely inside.

"Why? Everything we said is true. I said we should follow his example, I didn't say we were going to." They laughed.

"Now, let's get studying!" George exclaimed, taking the Charms book and leafing through it while Fred retrieved the parchment.

"There has got to be some sort of revealing charm in here," George muttered.

Fred carefully spread the parchment out on his bed and looked over George's shoulder.

"Let's try this one," he pointed, then tapped the map with his wand as he said the charm.

Nothing.

George tried a charm next.

Nothing.

The two boys combed through the entire Charm book and tried any charm they found that might be useful, but all their attempts failed. Finally, George tossed the book aside with disgust. Discouraged, they both put their hands in their chins and pouted. After a few minutes of silence, Fred picked up the book again.

"What are you doing?" George asked wearily.

"Looking for an igniting charm so we can burn the blasted thing!" Fred said in frustration. "I'm beginning to think the only thing dangerous about that object is that it'll drive you mad trying to figure the bloody thing out!"

George sighed, picked up the parchment and idly tapped it with his wand.

"Reveal!" he commanded. Nothing happened. Fred looked up at him from the book.

"Well, it was worth a try," George shrugged.

"Right, like it'd be that simple," Fred said crossly.

"Oh? But you expect to learn the answer from a First Level Charms book?"

Fred ignored him, then suddenly sat straight up.

"Hey! You might be on to something!" he exclaimed. "It says here that some objects can be charmed to conceal their true intent or purpose!"

"Yeah," said George, not impressed, "you already figured that out, remember?"

"Shush! It also says that these objects can usually only reveal their secrets through the use of a special password assigned to it by whoever performed the charm."

"Yeah, that makes sense. It's like the portrait of the Fat Lady who guards the entrance to our tower. You have to give her the password to pass through."

"Right," Fred shut the book. "Anyone who knows the password can reverse the charm!"

"So, all we have to do is discover the password!"

"Exactly!" Fred said triumphantly.

"But it could be anything! It might take years!"

They both sat back and pondered this a few minutes.

"Well, we'll either have to try guessing the password or we just give up now and never know what the parchment is hiding," George said.

"What? Give up? After what we had to go through to get our hands on it? No way!"

George grinned, "I was hoping you'd say that."

"Hmm...Now if I were going to set up a password, what would I chose?"

"It'd have to be something that's not easy to guess if it's guarding something important."

"Or maybe it's really simple, to throw people off. You know, they'd be expecting something super hard and overlook it could be something simple."

"Something obvious, even?"

"Well, you already tried 'Reveal'....How about," Fred touched his wand to the parchment, "Password!"

"Oh, that's a good one!"

Nothing.

George cleared his throat and tapped his wand on the parchment. "Reveal yourself!" he commanded. They waited a few moments. Fred was just about to try a different word when suddenly writing started to appear all on its own. They both stared at it eagerly.

"Mr. Prongs would like to know, just what sort of request is that, you weirdo?"

Fred and George exchanged confused looks.

"Mr. Padfoot would like to know, just what sort of pervert would request such a thing?"

More writing followed.

"Mr. Moony would like to add that whoever you are, you have some cheek."

And finally:

"Mr. Wormtail would like to suggest that you should refrain from such a request - at least until we know each other better."

"What the...?" Fred raised an eyebrow, "Who are you?"

Nothing happened, except the writing vanished.

"Maybe it only responds to commands?" George mused.

"Tell us who you are!" Fred commanded, touching his wand to the parchment. The writing reappeared.

"Mr. Prongs would like to point out that we already told you that, you git."

"Mr. Moony would like to ask just who YOU are? And just how one of such wit could have possibly gotten hold of this parchment?"

"Mr. Padfoot would like to add that you should put down your wand now and back away slowly, as you're obviously too stupid to own one."

"Mr. Wormtail cordially agrees with all of the above and adds that if you still can't figure it out, then you're illiterate."

"I like these fellows!" George exclaimed. "Let me try." He tapped the parchment, "Tell us the password!"

"Mr. Moony happily complies and would like to tell you: 'The Password'."

"That's not what I meant," George rolled his eyes, his wand still on the paper.

"Mr. Moony fails to see what else you could have meant."

"Tell us the password to unlock this parchment," George said slowly, adding under his breath, "Is that clear enough for you?"

"Mr. Prongs wonders what you are talking about, as this parchment is in no way bound and locked, at least not by us. If you've found it otherwise, may I suggest a key?"

There was a short pause, then more writing appeared.

"Mr. Padfoot believes he knows a password that would be useful. That password is 'sugar quill'."

"All right then," George tapped his wand, "sugar quill!"

"Mr. Prongs wonders why you are wasting your time using the password to unlock the Prefects bath here."

"He told me that was the password to this!"

"Mr. Padfoot did say that was the password. I did not say what it was a password for."

"Mr. Wormtail notes that you are very gullible."

"I'm beginning to understand how Percy feels when we do this sort of thing to him," George said.

"We need a new tactic," Fred said. He held his wand to the paper, "This parchment was found in Filch's 'Highly Dangerous' file. I demand to know why!"

"Mr. Moony suggests that you ask that cantankerous creep yourself."

"Mr. Wormtail wonders how anyone could have gotten into that drawer to find out this was in there, unless they were helping him to begin with?"

"Mr. Padfoot adds that we would not willingly help that Squib."

"Besides, Mr. Prongs would like to note, Filch puts anything he cannot understand in that drawer. It should only be a matter of time before he puts all of Hogwarts in there."

"We're not helping that git!" Fred cried, indignant.

"Certainly not!"

The parchment doesn't respond. Desperate, Fred touched his wand to the parchment:

"I swear that I am not helping Filch," he said earnestly.

"Swear? As in a solemn vow? Mr. Prongs would like to help you, but wonders what you might manage with this?"

"Mr. Wormtail agrees. This information cannot go to just anybody, after all."

"Absolutely. We wouldn't want this to go to someone who's...up to no good, now would we?"

"Excellent point, Mr. Padfoot. Mr. Moony points out that those who know us should know our stand on mischief."

The twins finished reading this.

"Wait!" said George, "That makes no sense. They've done nothing but tease and insult us all the while purposely avoiding giving us the password."

"They sort of remind me of us."

"Exactly. Now people like that, like us, I'd imagine would be all for mischief..." George stared at the writing, rereading the words over a few times. "Oh!" he exclaimed.

"What?"

"These fellows are clever. Look at the way they phrased this last stuff. The last line for example: 'Those who know us should know our stand on mischief'. He never said they were against it."

"Like I said, they remind me of us...Hey, remember how we made fun of Percy just now? You need to pay attention to exactly what is being said to get the true meaning."

George scanned the words again. "Right...So, this can't go to just anybody. So who can it go to?"

"Well, if they are for mischief, then they'd want a mischief maker to have it, I bet." He pointed to a line. "'We wouldn't want this to go to someone who's up to no good, now would we?' That is, in fact, what they want."

"But that's an odd way to word it."

"What I don't understand is the first part. Why is Mr. Prongs making a big deal about a 'solemn vow'?"

George thought a moment, concentrating on the words. Suddenly he smiled.

"They're telling us the password!" He touched his wand to the parchment and stated slowly, "We swear...we are...up to no good."

The writing slowly faded away until only the word "solemn" and a letter "i" remained. They lingered a few moments before vanishing as well.

"Oh." George cleared his throat, "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."

Intricate lines now appeared from the place on the parchment where his wand had touched it, slowly spreading out to the edges.

"By George, I think you've got it!" Fred joked. George playfully punched him in the arm. They watched the lines eagerly until words were formed:


Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs
Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief Makers
are proud to present
The Marauder's Map



"A map!" George exclaimed excitedly.

"Wonder where it'll lead us?" Fred asked.

The writing again vanished and lines started to spread out, forming an intricate pattern, tracing out the castle corridors and immediate grounds. All over the map, what appeared to be tiny bugs started popping up and crawling around. Fred and George exchanged looks, then leaned in for a closer examination. The "bugs" were in fact tiny dots with minuscule writing underneath. Fred squinted at one of the dots moving along the second floor. The dot suddenly became a tiny figure with the label "Nora Davison".

"Whoa!" Fred exclaimed and blinked. The figure became a dot again. Fred then stared at a cluster of dots in the Transfiguration classroom. The classroom enlarged slightly and the dots became tiny figures of students each individually labeled. Fred nudged George who was busy examining a few dots for himself. He pointed to the classroom.

"Excellent," George said, "But look what I discovered." He pointed to a larger dot in the cluster of dots in the Charms classroom. It became Professor Flitwick. "The larger dots are the staff!" George declared proudly. "But, wonder where we are?"

"In the Gryffindor boys dormitory, silly!"

A blinking caught their attention and, sure enough, two blinking tiny dots in Gryffindor Tower became "Fred" and "George".

"Oh, this is brilliant!"

"Genius!"

"Can you imagine the good use we'll put this to?"

"Bless those Messieurs hearts."

"We can sneak around now without getting caught. Whenever we want."

"Where is Filch, anyway?"

A larger blinking dot drew their eye to the entrance hall, where the tiny figure "Filch" was mopping the floor.

"Hey! I wonder if this shows Mrs. Norris?"

They scanned the map eagerly and spotted a flashing dot that became "Mrs. Norris" prowling around the first level dungeons.

"Oh, what a beautiful sight!" Fred sighed.

"Almost brings a tear to my eye," George nodded.

Fred patted the map affectionately, "This is certainly quite a treasure."

"Well, what are we waiting for then? Let's try it out!" George grinned mischievously.

They spent the rest of the afternoon plotting. Then once the plan had been carefully laid out, they used the remaining time discovering the entrances to some of the secret passages within the school. They knew they'd have to wait until they had more time, perhaps the next weekend, before they dared explore the ones leading off the map.

At last they gave up playing and went to their room, crawling into bed still fully dressed. They listened for sounds of the other three boys preparing for sleep. When the room was quiet again, George peeked out of his bed curtain and Fred peeked through from his. They nodded at each other and slipped silently down to the now empty common room. Fred pulled the map out of his pocket and scanned for Filch and Mrs. Norris.

"Well, all the teachers must've turned in for the night, I don't see them wandering around...Filch is on the fifth floor and Mrs. Norris...is by the Library."

"Let's go, then."

Without fear or hesitation, the boys walked the corridors that night, stopping by a moonlit window now and then to check the positions of their adversaries. They moved along much faster now that they didn't need to stick to shadows or stop at every doorway to listen for sounds of footsteps.

Soon they found themselves back at a familiar, heavily locked door. George pulled the green disc out of his pocket. He carefully turned the top half a notch and it let out a soft hiss! George placed it on the door and tapped it twice with his wand. They heard a series of soft clicks from the other side of the door. Snick! The door unlatched. George easily pulled it open all the way. With one last look at the map to confirm they'd be undisturbed for a while, they both entered Filch's office. It was dark, so they lit the lantern they'd brought along and set to work.

"Let's first see what else is in that file cabinet," Fred said eagerly. But to their dismay, the drawer marked "Confiscated and Highly Dangerous" was locked fast, and not even Alohomora could unlock it.

George shrugged, "Well, at least we still have our other plan." They both rolled up their sleeves.

"Wingardium Leviosa!" Fred said and pointed his wand at Filch's desk, which then began to levitate. He directed it to the opposite side of the room and set it down again. Next, George levitated the chairs and then Fred started in on the filing cabinets. One or the other would pause now and then to check the map, and in less than half an hour they were done. Filch's office was a mirror image of what it had been. All Filch's file cabinets, his chairs and his desk were arranged neatly into the exact same position they had been, just that they were now on the exact opposite side of the room. Satisfied with their decorating job, they extinguished the lantern and exited the room.

George closed the door and gave a sharp tap to the disc. They could hear the door locking up again, then the disc dislodged itself from the door, dropped heavily to the floor and rolled a little before George scooped it up. He examined it closely, then let out a disappointed sigh.

"It's done for!"

"Maybe we can fix it?"

George shook his head, "No, it wasn't the fall. I believed it was designed as a one-time-use-only device." He stuffed in his pocket. "Well," he shrugged, "at least we put it to good use."

"We should get rid of it. If someone finds it on us, they'll know for sure who's done this, and exactly how." Fred studied the map a moment. "I've got it! Follow me."

Fred led them not too far out of their way to a bathroom.

"Wait a second! That's the girls' toilets!" George said.

"So? No one's going to be in there at this hour, are they? It's closer than the boys' one." Fred didn't add that he was rather curious to see what it'd look like inside a girls' bathroom.

Once inside, George dropped the disc in the last stall with a solemn, "You served us well," and flushed. He looked to Fred.

"Well, that's done. Now where're Filch and Mrs. Norris?"

"Mrs. Norris...is by the Muggle Studies room, Filch...looks like he's heading back to his office!"

"Great! We made it just in time then."

"Too bad we can't be there to see the look on his face," George lamented.

"Yeah, but we'd have to be invisible for that," Fred agreed. "Still, all in all it's been a very good day."

They hurried now up to the entrance to Gryffindor Tower.

"Password?" the Fat Lady asked sleepily.

"Wait!" George put his hand on Fred's arm.

"What?" Fred asked, "Whatever it is, it can wait until we're inside." He stepped towards the portrait, "Dancing Dragon."

"No!" George insisted, pulling Fred away.

"Do try and make up your minds, boys," the Fat Lady chided.

"Well? What is it?" Fred tapped his foot.

"What about the map?" George hissed.

"What about it? It's safe in my pocket."

"Well, I just thought of something. It's still in map form, right?"

"Yeah...so?" Fred raised his eyebrows.

"Well, what if someone else were to find it? They'd be able to read it."

"Believe me, I'd know if someone stuck their hand inside my robe."

"But what if it fell out or something?"

"It didn't."

"I know. Just listen. When we found the map, it was blank. We had to say the password to get to it."

"I remember, I was there," Fred said impatiently.

"Well, there must be a way to get it back to that blank parchment state. That way, we'd be sure no one else could read it."

Fred took out his wand and the map. He unfolded it and looked expectantly at George.

"Well? This was your idea. What do you suggest?"

"Hey, look!" The map showed the two dots of the boys, only Fred had a tiny bubble above his head with the tiniest writing in it. Fred read it carefully.

"Mischief Managed!" he announced.

Promptly the lines and dots vanished, rendering the map a blank piece of parchment again. Fred folded it up with a smile and placed it back in his pocket.

"Hey, why do you get to keep it?"

"I can only imagine what would happen to it in your robe."

They approached the Fat Lady.

"Dancing Dragon," Fred stated.

"Are you sure this time?" the Fat Lady asked.

"Absolutely," George nodded.

******


The twins headed for bed and quickly settled down, content about the day. As George drifted off to sleep, dreaming pleasant dreams of Filch's reaction to his newly redecorated office, down below in the lake Moaning Myrtle was drifting aimlessly, having been flushed along with the disc. She stared up at the Full Moon that shimmered and danced through the water, wondering miserably why everyone had to torment her in life and in her death. That same moon drifted in and out of the clouds over a run-down country home, where a wolf howled mournfully at it from inside, it's cry silenced by a charm around the house. It shone clear at the Burrow where a rat, the pet of the youngest boy, looked wistfully at it out the window, remembering better times. It slanted through a high up, tiny barred window far away, striping silver a big black dog curled upon the dirt floor, who no longer noticed the moon. It shone bright over a quiet cemetery, where the bare branches of the tree created an intricate design on two over-grown graves. And the moon streaked through a crack in Fred's bed curtain, where he lay awake, wondering about the mysterious Mssrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs, and where they are now.
//
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