The Sugar Quill
Author: Mrs Weasley (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: One Thousand Galleons  Chapter: Default
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Dragon-Hide Gloves

One Thousand Galleons

A short Fred and George story.

Summary: Fred and George get used to the idea of having a thousand galleons to spend on their dream…Post GoF.

Disclaimers: These characters belong to JK Rowling, apart from a few I've added. At the beginning of this story, several paragraphs are borrowed directly from GoF, as readers will instantly realise.

Author's Notes: I really wanted to manage to finish something before the fifth book came out, and realised I had no chance of finishing one of my longer stories, but I might have a crack at finishing this one. Nearly all my stories have been Harry-centric. This is my first go at getting to know the wonderful Weasley twins. It's also the first time I've ever written a non-speaking role for my darling Ron. I hope he will forgive me…

* * * * *

"Listen," said Harry firmly. "If you don't take it, I'm throwing it down the drain. I don't want it and I don't need it. But I could do with a few laughs. We could all do with a few laughs. I've got a feeling we're going to need them more than usual before long."

"Harry," said George weakly, weighing the money bag in his hands, "there's got to be a thousand Galleons in here."

"Yeah," said Harry, grinning. "Think how many Canary Creams that is."

The twins stared at him.

"Just don't tell your mum where you got it…although she might not be so keen for you to join the Ministry any more, come to think of it…"

"Harry," Fred began, but Harry pulled out his wand.

"Look," he said flatly, "take it, or I'll hex you. I know some good ones now. Just do me one favour, OK? Buy Ron some different dress robes, and say they're from you."

He left the compartment before they could say another word, stepping over Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle, who were still lying on the floor, covered in hex marks.

Fred caught himself still staring at the compartment door some time after Harry had disappeared through it. He tore his gaze away and looked at George, who was staring blankly at the heavy money bag in his hands.

"Well," said Fred.

"Yeah, I know," said George, and in those few syllables they understood each other perfectly.

There was a sudden groan from the direction of the floor. Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle were stirring slightly.

Fred jerked his head towards the door. "Better get out of here, before their loving mums and dads come looking for them."

"Yeah, and Mum comes looking for us."

The train corridors were almost clear now, as most of the Hogwarts students had fought their way off the train already to join the milling throng on platform nine-and-three-quarters. Fred and George made their way back to the compartment where they had left their trunks. George crammed the bag of Galleons inside his trunk and locked it again, before they dragged their trunks off the train and on to the teeming platform.

Standing on the train step and looking over a sea of heads towards the barrier, George spotted Harry, Ron and Hermione just passing through the gateway to the Muggle world.

"Oi! Lee! See you!" Fred yelled, waving at Lee Jordan, who was being hugged by his mother. Lee waved back, as did his parents. It took Fred and George several more minutes to work their way through the crowd towards the barrier, since they kept being stopped by friends wanting to wish them a good holiday, and exchanging promises to owl.

"What will you be working on in the holidays - Flamingo Fondant Fancies?" Katie Bell called across to them.

"Ha ha," George called back, before saying to Fred in an undertone, "Good name though - make a note of that one." Fred nodded, as they detoured through the crowd to avoid bumping into the Malfoys' chauffeur, who was frowning as he scanned faces, searching for the missing Draco.

Beyond the barrier, the twins found the rest of the Weasleys standing in a group. Harry was just turning away from Ron and Hermione towards his grim-faced Muggle of an uncle, who was waiting impatiently a few feet away. The twins hurried forwards to catch Harry before he left.

"Harry - thanks," George muttered, too quietly for the other Weasleys to hear him. Fred nodded fervently, still stunned at the thought of the unimaginable wealth now stashed in George's trunk. Harry winked at them, turned away, and disappeared into the bustling throng of Muggle travellers.

* * * * *

Fred opened the bedroom door with some trepidation, took a swift look around and turned to George.

"Well?"

"Yup, she's been tidying again," Fred confirmed, as they both dragged their trunks into their room at The Burrow. It certainly was tidier than when they had left it last September. Despite it being empty for so many months, there was no dust anywhere in the room, and the rather worn covers on the beds were freshly laundered. The two cupboards, which they had left open months ago with a jumble of items spilling out on to the floor, now had their doors tidily closed. Even the tatty books in the one bookcase looked as if they had been straightened into military lines.

"She didn't find you-know-what, did she?"

"Nah - we'd have had a Howler."

"Better check, though."

George made sure the door was completely closed, while Fred crouched in front of the bookcase and began to empty the books from the bottom shelf. Dog-eared copies of Billy's First Broomstick, Ten Little Nifflers and other ancient children's books from the twins' extreme youth were soon scattered on the threadbare carpet. When the shelf was empty, Fred inserted his fingers under it and prised it up, revealing a shallow rectangular cavity in the base of the bookcase. He felt around inside the secret cavity and withdrew a rolled bundle of parchment, tied with a ribbon.

"'S'okay, she didn't find it." They both sighed with relief as Fred quickly unrolled the price lists and recipes for the Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes they had been working on the previous summer.

"The beginning of a great business empire, eh George?" murmured Fred, rolling up the parchments again. "Especially when we add all the new stuff we've invented this year."

George opened his trunk and pulled out the lumpy sack of Galleons, which clinked as he handled it. "Will this fit in there? We'd better hide it."

Fred took the bag and thrust it inside the secret space. It just fitted, with enough room for the slim roll of parchment to be replaced on the top.

"Fred! George! Dinner's ready!" Mrs. Weasley's voice, carrying from downstairs, made the twins jump guiltily.

"Coming, Mum!" Within a minute, the shelf was replaced, the books hastily stuffed on top of it, and the twins were thundering down the rickety stairs to the kitchen.

* * * * *

Two weeks later…

Mrs. Weasley glanced at the clock anxiously as she slammed sausages from the pan on to the plates. Two weeks into the summer holidays, Mr. Weasley had never yet made it home in time for the beginning of breakfast. He was working incredibly long hours these days, and not just to keep up with the normal workload of his department at the Ministry, because in addition to this he was continually seeking out colleagues in other departments, trying to find out which of them might be persuaded not to believe the Ministry's official line in the cover-up over the death of Cedric Diggory.

This morning, yet again, Mr. Weasley's hand on the family clock rested on "At Work", and the worried frown rested on Mrs. Weasley's face. Already seated at the table, Fred and George shared glances, and an unspoken agreement that now was not the right time to persuade her into agreeing with their plan for the day. It was, in fact, a plan they had been forced to postpone, due to an unfortunate mishap which had made the twins very unpopular with their mother for several days. They had spent hours unwillingly de-gnoming the garden, emptying dustbins and folding laundry to make up for the misguided experiment which had dyed Percy's hair and face purple, forcing him to take three days sick-leave from the Ministry until he was restored to his usual colouring. Percy had now gone to stay with an old friend from Hogwarts for a few days, complaining that he couldn't be expected to put up with living under the same roof as Fred and George for the entire summer.

"Ronald Weasley!" Mrs. Weasley had put down the frying pan and was now yelling in the direction of the stairs. "Get up now, your breakfast's already on the table, if I have to call you again there'll be-"

She was interrupted by a sharp tapping noise on the window. A barn owl was perched on the sill outside, shifting impatiently from foot to foot, with a beak full of letters and the Daily Prophet. The post tended to arrive earlier on the mornings when the Weasleys' own owl, the ancient Errol, was not delivering it. Errol had been sent off to Percy yesterday with a parcel of clean socks from Mrs. Weasley, so he was unlikely to make it home for several days.

Ginny got up from her chair, opened the window and retrieved the post, taking a few Knuts from the jar by the sink to pay for the Daily Prophet. She returned to the table, sorting out letters, as Mrs. Weasley cast an irritable Scouring Charm on the frying pan and flumped into her seat. Her frown relaxed slightly as she heard the sound of Ron's door finally slamming open, several floors above. "Anything for me, Ginny dear?"

"Yes, the Daily Prophet, and your copy of Witch Weekly, and…a catalogue from Gwendolene's Gardening Gadgets." Ginny laid these items in a pile in front of her mother and continued to flick through the letters. "Three for Dad - one for me, from Colin - one for Fred and George - one for Ron, from Hermione, I think - oh, and a letter for you, Mum - is that from Auntie Mavis?"

"Oh, good!" Mrs. Weasley took the letter eagerly. "I wonder how her foot is - nasty things, those Shrinking Solutions, if you spill them - "

Ginny yelped as Fred snatched the letter addressed to himself and George from her hand. "I was going to give it to you," she said huffily. "Who's it from, anyway?"

"Just a mate from Hogwarts," George said hastily, glancing at the back of the envelope. "Keep your nose out, Ginja."

"That's nice, I must say -"

A potential argument was deflected by the belated arrival of Ron, tousle-headed and scowling. He never liked getting up in the holidays.

"Don't blame me if your breakfast's cold, it's been on your plate for five minutes," Mrs. Weasley snapped, before turning her attention back to her own letter. "Mavis has regrown most of her toes now, she says, poor love. She'll be more careful the next time she tries to get rid of a wart- "

Ginny was not going to let the twins off so easily. "So, who is your letter from?" she persisted.

"Oy, Ron!" Fred bellowed into his brother's ear, as Ron slumped into the chair beside him. "You've got a letter from the lovely Hermione, do tell us if she's been to Bulgaria yet -"

As the twins had hoped, the brief fight which broke out between Fred and Ron, as they tussled for Hermione's letter, completely distracted Ginny from asking any more questions. Meanwhile, while Mrs. Weasley shrieked at the combatants to behave themselves, George took advantage of the uproar to sneak the Daily Prophet across the table and settled down to checking the Quidditch League summer transfer news.

* * * * *

"So? What does he say?"

Breakfast was over. Ginny and Ron were helping Mrs. Weasley with the housework - Ginny voluntarily, Ron under orders to make up for his lateness for breakfast. The twins had managed to escape to their room in order to open their letter in private. They had been anxiously awaiting this letter for several days. On the back of the envelope it bore a large red Z - the logo of Zonko's Joke Shop in Hogsmeade.

George scanned the letter quickly while Fred peered over his shoulder. "Well, he's not turning us down flat…he's interested in stocking the Canary Creams, the Confunding Cauldrons, the fake wands, the Ton-Tongue Toffees and a few other things…"

"Yeah, but it says here he wants to buy the rights to our stuff - sell it under the Zonko's label." The twins looked at each other, and, in unison, shook their heads firmly.

"It's not on," George said. "Our stuff isn't going to be sold under anyone else's label. It's got to be branded as Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, otherwise how else can we build up brand recognition?"

Fred and George's friends and family would have been surprised at the seriousness with which Fred and George had already discussed their plans for setting up their joke shop business. With only one more year at Hogwarts, they were determined to plan for the future. Reading the rest of Mr. Zonko's letters, they were pleased with his enthusiasm for their inventions, but less impressed with his suggestion that he should merely stock their products in Zonko's. He did, however, give them some good advice; that they should look closely at all the joke products now available in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, so that they could decide if there were any gaps in the market when thinking of future inventions. Fred and George were already keen to do this - it was for this reason that they were waiting for a good opportunity to persuade Mrs. Weasley to let them visit Diagon Alley.

"We could make some money selling stuff to Zonko's to start off with," Fred said, "but what we really want is our own shop, of course."

"Yeah…" They had had this conversation a hundred times during the past year, but…George looked across the room to the bookcase which hid the bag containing the thousand Galleons. Perhaps now things were different? Suddenly, the almost impossible was looking like a distinct possibility.

"Fred! George!" From the sound of her voice, Mrs. Weasley was marching rapidly upstairs, almost at their door. In seconds, the letter from Mr. Zonko was stuffed down the front of Fred's shirt, just as Mrs. Weasley opened the bedroom door.

"What are you two up to?" she asked, obviously recognising the signs of a secret in the air. The twins tried hard not to look guilty. Mrs. Weasley looked closely at them. "Anyway," she said. "I've just come to tell you that I'm going to pop over to see your Auntie Mavis. She still can't get about much until her feet are better, I thought I'd see if she needs any help; give her a bit of company. I'll be back by tea-time, and I'm expecting all of you to behave yourselves while I'm gone."

"Don't worry Mum, we'll be fine," said Fred, in what he hoped was a reassuring voice.

"You can give your sister a hand with the housework -" The twins nodded in unison. "-You could sweep the stairs, for instance-" The twins nodded again. "-you could clean the bedroom windows-" More nods. "-and NO mixing any more Purple Pansy, or whatever that awful stuff was you used on poor Percy-"

"Purple Pandemonium," Fred murmured.

Mrs. Weasley pretended she hadn't heard this. "Is that clear?"

"Clear as crystal," said George. "See you tonight then, Mum. Love to Auntie Mavis."

Mrs. Weasley gave him a long, suspicious look and the twins held their breath. After a moment, she nodded and left the room. Fred and George were both quiet, waiting as they heard her going downstairs and calling goodbye to Ginny before Disapparating. When they were sure she had left the house, the twins let their breath go in two long, relieved sighs.

"Excellent," said Fred. "We've got all day. Let's get going."

This summer, for the first time, Fred and George were enjoying the pleasures of being of age. Having had their seventeenth birthday during their sixth year at Hogwarts, this summer they had not been issued with the traditional warning that underage students should not perform magic during the summer holidays. This had not stopped Mrs. Weasley from issuing dark warnings of her own, concerning what would happen if she caught Fred or George misusing magic at the Burrow. This morning, however, their freedom to perform spells outside school was about to come in useful.

"That's done," said George ten minutes later, surveying the gleaming, dust-free staircase with satisfaction. Being able to use Cleaning Charms had allowed the twins to complete their tasks in a much shorter time than Mrs. Weasley had probably envisaged. While George tackled the stairs, Fred had been magically polishing up the windows, which now sparkled dazzlingly in the summer sunshine.

"Right, let's go."

There was only one obstacle between the twins and the kitchen fire, which they would need to use in order to travel by Floo to Diagon Alley. Ginny was peeling potatoes at the kitchen table, and she was highly unlikely to let her brothers take off for Diagon Alley without asking a lot of awkward questions.

"All right, Ginny? Where's Ron, then?"

"He's outside, de-gnoming the garden," Ginny replied, looking up. Her eyes narrowed in suspicion as she took in the twins' outdoor robes and would-be casual air. "What are you up to?"

"Up to? What does she mean, George?"

"Dunno, Fred. She can't realise that we've just been working like house-elves, doing all that cleaning."

"Exhausted, we are."

"You've been cleaning?" asked Ginny, doubtfully.

"Of course we have," said George, in an injured tone. "Just check the evidence, if you don't believe me. You could eat your dinner off that staircase."

"And those bedroom windows are spotless."

"So we were thinking that as we've done all our jobs, and we need one or two things, we might just pop out for a couple of hours."

"We'll be back before Mum is, she need never know we were gone -"

"Unless I tell her," said Ginny, tipping the potato peelings into the bin. "I don't think she'd like-"

"Now, what would you want to go telling her for? You'll only worry her," Fred protested, grabbing a biscuit from the tin on the table.

"Where are you going, anyway?" Ginny asked.

"Diagon Alley," said George truthfully, although adding less truthfully, "We thought we'd meet Lee, just hang out for a while."

"We could bring you a present," Fred said cunningly, through a mouthful of biscuit crumbs. "Is there any little thing you need, Gin?"

Ginny looked thoughtful, having had years of experience of striking bargains with her brothers in return for keeping them out of trouble. "It would have to be something really nice, of course," she said, folding her arms and looking meaningfully at Fred. "To make it worth my while."

"You'll love it," he assured her promptly.

"Because if Ron asks where you've gone, I'll have to think of a good excuse for him…"

"We'll get you something amazing," George promised. "And something for Ron as well." He turned to the jar of Floo Powder on the mantelpiece. "So that's settled, then, well, must be getting along -"

"Wait a minute," said Ginny slowly, as George sprinkled the Floo Powder and green flames whooshed up in the fireplace, "where are you going to get the money from to buy me something amazing?"

"See you later, Ginny!"

"Yeah, back soon, bye!" Having pretended not to hear her last words, both twins disappeared in a cloud of emerald green smoke, waving cheerily. "Diagon Alley!"

* * * * *

It was a beautiful summer's day in Diagon Alley, and the twisting cobbled street was packed with shoppers. Outside Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour, young witches and wizards were relaxing with ice-cold treats. Fred and George were tempted to dip into their heavy bag of Galleons (now concealed beneath George's robes) for an ice-cream, but they refrained. Somehow, they both felt that the magnificent gift from Harry was dedicated to the great enterprise of Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes, and not to be frittered away on Raspberry Ripples. They were committed to using it for a few other purchases, however. Their first stop was at Madam Malkin's Robes For All Occasions.

"D'you think Ronniekins would fancy that?" Fred enquired, pointing to a bolt of fabric which was striped in cream and bubble-gum pink.

"I don't think that was what Harry had in mind," George said dryly.

At this point they were swooped upon by one of Madam Malkin's assistants, and had to explain their errand.

"He's about this much taller than us - great lanky thing - "

" - and he doesn't like maroon - he's got a complex about it - "

" - something classy, mind -"

The assistant, who was amused by Fred and George, entered into the spirit of the quest, and helpfully pulled out a stack of ready-made robes, seeming to enjoy the twins' comments on some of the selection. "What is his colouring like?" she enquired.

George gestured solemnly to his own fiery head, then to his freckled face. "Erm…this?"

"Mm…well, this might be just what you're looking for." She rifled through the stack of robes once more and pulled out some indigo blue robes, classically plain-cut and unadorned except for a narrow band of matching braid around the cuffs. "Twenty-five Galleons. How's this?"

Fred and George looked at each other. "Perfect."

* * * * *

Choosing Ron's robes turned out to be the simplest of the twins' tasks that day. They spent the next two hours trudging up and down Diagon Alley, carefully examining any wizarding joke or trick product which had been produced by one of their future business rivals. By far the biggest establishment of that kind in Diagon Alley was Gambol and Japes Wizarding Joke Shop, an old and favourite haunt of the Weasleys.

"Their stock's not changed much in the last few years, though," Fred pointed out, as they finally left the shop. "They've got some good stuff, but it's the same stuff they were selling in our first year at Hogwarts."

George nodded. "You can't stand still in business. You have to keep developing new products," he said sagely. "They haven't got half as much stock as Zonko's, either."

Not many other shops in Diagon Alley had more than a handful of joke products. By the time they had exhausted the opportunities for checking out rival products, the twins were getting weary.

"We haven't got anything for Ginny yet," George said, pausing in front of the window display in Forsythia Flack's Fabulous Footwear. "D'you think she'd like some shoes?" Getting no answer from his twin, he repeated the question. "Fred?"

Turning, George saw Fred gazing into the window of a small shop round the corner. It had no name above the door, and the rather dirty bow window was packed with a higgledy-piggledy mass of objects. The red paint on the door had apparently been flaking off for years.

"What a load of old junk," George commented, looking over Fred's shoulder. Since the first objects visible at the front of the window were a broken wand, a chipped crystal ball and a book with no cover, he had a point.

The twins were startled when the tatty red door opened abruptly, causing the small golden bell above it to jingle loudly. An elderly wizard peered out at them. He was dressed in a moth-eaten-looking crimson velvet robe and a pair of carpet slippers. From beneath a shock of white hair, he surveyed the twins through gold-rimmed spectacles.

"Looking for something, gentlemen?"

"Erm…just browsing, really," Fred said hastily. "Looking for something for our sister." He had enough tact not to add, "But she wouldn't fancy anything in your shop."

"Ah. In that case, do come in and have a better look."

Exchanging doubtful glances, the two Weasleys entered the shop, which was just as crowded as the window display had suggested.

"I think I may have just the thing for a young lady of taste," the old man murmured, moving aside stacks of old parchment and tarnished telescopes.

"I…um…I don't think I've ever been in here before," George said, wondering how long it would be before they could make their escape. "Been here a long time, has it, this shop?"

"Ah yes, many years," the old man replied. "It was my grandfather's shop, you see - Septimus Smethwyck's Wizarding Supplies, founded in 1821 - I am Septimus Smethwyck the Second, you understand." Still rummaging through piles of rather dog-eared "wizarding supplies", he sighed. "A great pity that in just one more year this business will be no more."

"Why's that?" asked Fred. "Are you retiring?"

Septimus Smethwyck nodded. "It will be very difficult for me to leave my shop," he said. "But I have a daughter - I hoped at one time she might take over the business, but, alas, she met a Chaser from the Moutohora Macaws and moved to live with him in New Zealand. She's been asking me for years to go and live with her - she's a grandmother now, would you believe? - and I have finally agreed to go next year. When I have had a chance to wind up the business - aha!" From the bottom of a stack, he had just unearthed a flat, black leather box. "This is what I was looking for. What do you think?" He blew a cloud of dust off the top of the box and handed it to Fred.

Not looking too excited, Fred managed to dislodge the stiff catch on the box and open it. When he had lifted a layer of yellowed cotton wool from inside it, however, both twins stared, agreeably surprised. Inside the box was a dainty necklace made from tiny mother-of-pearl shells, the shells so small that it was hard to see how anyone could possibly have strung them together, even using magic. It fastened with a delicate gold clasp.

"Pretty, isn't it?" said Septimus Smethwyck with a smile. "Belonged to a mermaid originally, you know. Better quality than most mer-work, of course - came from Italy. Most of our British mermaids seem to be satisfied with an old rope with a few pebbles strung on it."

"Er - how much is it?" asked George.

"Oh, well, shall we say…two Galleons?"

"Are you sure?" asked Fred, while George dipped his hand into their money bag. "I mean, it doesn't seem very much for something that nice."

"Quite sure." Septimus Smethwyck reached for an ancient cash-box to store away the two Galleons George had just handed to him, while the twins muttered their thanks. The old man studied them, seeming to appraise them. "I'm delighted that I had something of interest to yourselves. Do tell me - who have I had the pleasure of serving?"

Fred and George introduced themselves.

"Ah yes, I know your father by reputation, of course - a well-respected member of our Ministry. And are you still at Hogwarts?"

"Just starting our last year," Fred explained. "NEWTs and all that."

"And what do you intend to do after that?"

The twins exchanged looks. Although their ambition was common knowledge now amongst their friends and family, it still felt unusual to be telling a stranger about it. "We're planning to open a joke shop," said George, and they waited for Septimus Smethwyck to look at them with amused disbelief, as most adults did.

But he didn't. He looked at them through his gold-rimmed spectacles with an expression that was speculative rather than disbelieving.

"Indeed?" he said. "Then you are obviously young men of vision. Might I ask if you have considered the question of…suitable premises?"

* * * * *

It was still only a small shop. The bow window was still packed with an assortment of junk and the red paint on the door was still flaking off, but by the time Fred and George left Septimus Smethwyck's Wizarding Supplies twenty minutes later, they were looking at its shabby exterior in a very different light. Their money bag was fifty Galleons lighter - and in George's pocket was a signed agreement. It stated plainly that the money they had just paid as a deposit would ensure the transfer of the shop's lease, from Mr. Septimus Smethwyck to Messrs. Fred and George Weasley, in exactly one year from now.

Fred gazed at the front of the shop and saw, in his mind's eye, the exterior newly-painted in eye-catching scarlet; a red sign above it proclaiming Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes in large gold letters. Dozens of shoppers walking down Diagon Alley carrying red bags marked with a gold WWW

George gazed at the front of the shop and heard the jingle of the gold bell above the door as it closed behind them. In his imagination he could hear the jingle of many Galleons, Sickles and Knuts being scooped into a till. They'd have to advertise in the Daily Prophet, of course…give away free gifts…

It was several minutes before the twins managed to tear themselves away from their dreams of the future, and remember that they needed to get back to the Burrow before Mrs. Weasley did.

But today, it seemed, luck was with them. They reached the Burrow just in time, and found the kitchen empty, Ron and Ginny being outside in the garden. Fred nipped upstairs and left mysterious packages under both Ron's and Ginny's pillows, while George found his brother and sister, and managed to stave off Ron and Ginny's curious questions by promising them surprises later on. When Mrs. Weasley arrived home shortly afterwards, she was in a good mood. Apparently Auntie Mavis's feet were much better, and after a day's fruitful gossiping Mrs. Weasley was full of stories to tell and not much in the mood for listening to anyone else. She was especially pleased to find the Burrow spick-and-span, including the stairs and the bedroom windows, so the twins made the most of her good mood and were careful not to annoy her during the evening.

Fred and George did not get the chance to talk privately again until they were in their bedroom getting ready for bed. Then Fred looked across at George, and his freckled face broke into a huge grin.

"Diagon Alley, George."

"I know."

"We couldn't be anywhere better. I know we talked about starting off in Hogsmeade, but then we'd have to compete directly with Zonko's - but I never thought we'd be able to start off in Diagon Alley…"

"Yeah. I know." And George grinned back at him.

They were startled by a knock on the door, and the sound of Ginny's voice calling, "Are you decent? Can I come in?" Without waiting for an answer, she appeared. She had a black leather box in her hand, and she was looking pleased, but perplexed.

"I - er - just wanted to say thanks. For this. It's really pretty."

"No need to sound so surprised," said George. "I told you we'd get you something amazing."

"I'm not surprised! I'm just - er -" Ginny paused, then said suspiciously, "It's not hexed, is it?"

The twins laughed. "No. Honestly. It's quite safe," Fred told her.

Ginny laughed, too. "Well. Then - thanks." She hugged both her brothers before they could duck. "I suppose you wouldn't tell me where you got it from?"

"S'right. We wouldn't. Night, Ginny."

"Night, night!" She closed the door. There was no visit from Ron in the following ten minutes - either he had not yet discovered the robes beneath his pillow, or he was planning to quiz his brothers in the morning.

Fred and George climbed into their beds. Fred looked across the room. In the secret compartment beneath the bookshelves, the remaining nine hundred and twenty-three Galleons rested safely. Beneath them lay a folded piece of paper - the agreement with Mr. Smethwyck.

"Night, George."

"Night, Fred."

The candle went out, and the Weasley twins settled down to happy dreams - dreams which might finally become reality, just one year from now.

//
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