The Sugar Quill
Author: Fitchburg Finch (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: A Little Diversion  Chapter: Default
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Fred and George Weasley sat in two of the best armchairs by the fire

Disclaimer:  J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter and his magical world.  This story is only for fun, not profit.

 

Thank you to NightZephyr, my beta-reader, for all of her help.

 

 

A Little Diversion

By

Fitchburg Finch

 

 

Fred and George Weasley lounged in a pair of armchairs by the crackling fire in the Gryffindor common room.  Though the room was filled with students, it was very hushed since the majority of them were studying.  Fred stretched out in his chair and propped his feet up on the table in front of him.  George held The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 7, on his lap, but was using it as a desk.  On the top of the book, George balanced a bottle of ink and a sheet of parchment that was filled with scribbled notes for new inventions for Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes. 

 

“We’re established here, so I think we can count on a good stream of business from students,” Fred explained.  “But our premises are in Diagon Alley, so we’ll be dealing mostly with adults during the school year.  If we’re going to make a go of this, we need to expand our range of merchandise so we can appeal to both the young and the young at heart.” 

 

“Right,” said George, reclining in his chair to think.  He tapped his quill absentmindedly against the bottle of ink.  “I have an idea,” he said brightly.  “What if we tried the reverse of Extendable Ears?  You know, something that could block sound.”

 

“Go on,” said Fred, intrigued by George’s suggestion.

 

“Say your mum has found out about something you’ve done, and she’s having a go at you.  Hypothetically speaking, of course,” said George, raising his eyebrows.

 

“Of course,” returned Fred.

 

“You’d pop these in your ears and you wouldn’t hear a thing,” George continued.  “I reckon they’d be good for adults, too.”

 

“It sounds good to me.  Of course we’d have no use for such a thing, but I’m sure loads of people would,” said Fred lightly.  “We could call them Shout Stoppers or something like that.”

 

“Yeah,” agreed George, jotting Fred’s idea down on the parchment.

           

The portrait hole opened and several first years entered the common room.  Fred recognized them as some of the students who had tested the Skiving Snackboxes earlier in the year.  He gave them a smile and a jaunty wave that caused them to turn pale and hurry away.

 

Fred and George returned to their work, looking up only when they noticed a shadow move across the parchment.

 

Ginny Weasley stood in front of her brothers.  Fred and George glanced up, said “Hi, Ginny,” and continued to work.

 

“I need to talk to you two,” said Ginny seriously.

 

“Not now, Ginny.  We’re busy,” said George, scratching out several lines.

 

Ginny looked between them and narrowed her eyes.  Taking George by surprise, she quickly snatched the parchment away from him. 

 

“Well, I suppose they didn’t make you Seeker for nothing,” said George, in a slightly impressed voice.

 

Ginny gave a small smile, and then added, “I was just talking to Harry, and he needs our help.”

 

“What for?  Why didn’t he ask us himself?”  Fred asked, frowning.

 

“He seems preoccupied, so I offered to talk to you,” she said simply.

 

“Well, step into our office,” said Fred, grandly waving his arm at the chair beside him. 

 

Ginny perched on the edge of the armchair and leaned close to Fred and George.  “Harry needs to talk to Sirius, but he can’t because Umbridge is watching the fires and the post,” she said quietly.

 

“What does he want to talk to Sirius for?  Does it have anything to with the Order?”  Fred asked in a somber voice.

 

“No, I don’t think so,” said Ginny, shaking her head.  “It didn’t seem like an emergency.  But I’m sure he wouldn’t go to so much trouble if he didn’t think it was worth it.  At any rate, he’s going to need help with Umbridge lurking about.”

 

“Where do we come in?”  George asked, with a sly grin.

 

“Well,” said Ginny, “the only way Harry could talk to Sirius would be Umbridge’s fire because it’s the only one in the school that isn’t monitored.  Obviously, the problem is keeping Umbridge away from her office.  Your Wildfire Whiz-Bangs kept her very busy, so I thought you might have something handy hanging around.  Something that would cause a little diversion,” she continued, returning George’s grin. 

 

“Ginny, are you suggesting that we deliberately cause a ruckus?”  George asked, in an artificially dramatic voice.  “They grow up so fast.  Don’t you agree, Fred?”

 

“Indeed,” Fred replied, pretending to wipe away a tear.

 

Ginny laughed, and nudged Fred’s arm.  “Alright, you two.  Do you have any ideas or not?” 

 

A wicked grin spread across Fred’s face.  “We have just the thing,” he said, with a meaningful glance at George.

 

George nodded and broke into an identical grin.

 

Looking between them, Ginny asked excitedly “What are you going to do?” 

 

“You’ll find out soon enough, little sis,” said Fred, reaching over and patting Ginny on the head.

 

Ginny glowered and swatted Fred’s hand away.  “What is this anyways?”  She asked, starting to unroll the parchment in her hand. 

 

Fred quickly snatched it back.  “I’ll take that, thank you,” he said, tucking it away inside his robes.

 

“What are you working on?”  Ginny asked suspiciously, her eyebrows raised.

 

“Would you believe schoolwork?”  George offered.

 

“No,” said Ginny, laughing.  “Are you two planning to study for your N.E.W.T.’s at all?” 

 

“We’ve been busy with other things.  Maybe tomorrow,” said Fred, standing and stretching.

 

“Or next week,” added George, rising out of his chair.

 

“Or not at all,” finished Fred with a grin.

 

“But it’s very kind of you to be concerned with our education, Ginny,” said George.

 

“I’m more concerned about what Mum will do to you when she sees your marks,” said Ginny seriously.

 

“There are plenty of ways to make your way in the world aside from marks,” said Fred casually, though he looked slightly anxious.  “Excuse us, Ginny, but we’ve got some planning to do.” 

 

As they wound their way out of the crowded common room, Fred whispered to George, “We might have a use for our invention after all when Mum sees our marks.”

 

Just as they reached the boys’ staircase, Crookshanks shot out from underneath a table.  He stopped abruptly and turned his squashed face up to them.  His yellow eyes seemed to register Hermione’s dissent in her absence. 

 

“Don’t give me that look,” said Fred, narrowing his eyes.  “We’re just trying to help a friend.”  He led the way up the boys’ staircase, followed by George.

 

Fred quietly opened the door to their dormitory and peered inside the empty room.  Fred walked across to his bed, knelt down, and pulled his trunk from underneath.  “I thought Lee might be here, but we’ll catch him later,” he said to George, who had shut the door and was now standing beside Fred. 

 

“This is the perfect time for phase two,” said Fred, looking up at George.  “Ginny’s right, the Wildfire Whiz-Bangs were a real problem for Umbridge.  But it seems like she’s settled down a bit, so now’s the time to shake her up again.  And we can do a little product demonstration in the process.” 

 

Fred’s trunk, like George’s, was crammed with items for Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes.  It was bursting with piles of fake wands and the new and improved Ton-Tongue Toffees, which, in addition to swelling a person’s tongue, could turn it one of ten different colors.  In a far corner, there was a small stack of Fred and George’s newest invention, Gold Grabber Galleons.  Taking their inspiration from Hermione’s D.A. Galleons, they had created fake, yet convincing, Galleons that left traces of red on the hand of anyone who tried to steal them.  Next to the Galleons, there was a slogan scrawled on a scrap of parchment that read: Has someone been nicking your pocket money?  Try Gold Grabber Galleons and catch them red-handed!

 

Fred took a small, soggy paper sack from the brimming trunk.  He pulled a face when its contents squished and sloshed as he reached inside.  Fred removed his hand and revealed a mess of greenish-brown muck.

 

“Ugh,” said George, covering his nose with his robes.  “It smells disgusting!  It turned out even better than I’d hoped!”  He said happily.

 

Fred laughed and prodded the slimy lump with his finger.

 

“I’ve got five left.  How many more do you have?”  George asked. 

 

“Four, I think,” Fred replied, looking over his shoulder at a larger bag that was dripping over a stack of old order forms.  “Once everyone gets a load of this, they’re going to go quick.”

 

“Yeah, we’d better make more soon,” said George.  “Recreating the Wildfire Whiz-Bangs has been enough trouble,” said George, pointing to several shards of burnt wood in Fred’s trunk.  “We can’t be running out of things once we’re in the shop.”

 

Fred nodded.  He looked at the miniature swamp in his hand, and then at the contents of his trunk.  “It’s safe to say that we’ll be remembered here after we leave.  But if this works half as well as I think it will, we could join the ranks of the Marauders,” said Fred, grinning madly.

 

“Yeah,” George replied, with a dreamy expression.  “But as much as I’d like to spring this on Umbridge now, I think we should wait until the end of the holidays.  Ginny said it’s not an emergency so we’ll have plenty of time to get ready.” 

 

“Exactly,” said Fred.  “The best time to do it would be after the last lesson of the day.  Everyone will be in the corridors, and the more people that see the swamp the quicker word will get back to Umbridge.  While she’s occupied with the swamp, Harry will have some time to talk to Sirius uninterrupted.”

 

The dormitory door creaked and opened.  Lee Jordan slouched inside carrying several large books under his arm.

 

“Hi, Lee!”  Fred said enthusiastically.  “Just the person we wanted to see!”

 

Lee looked between the twins, and then to the open trunk.  “What’s going on?” he asked, perking up.  He tossed the books on his bed and strode over to join the twins.

 

“How would you like to help give Umbridge exactly what she deserves and support a worthy cause in the process?”  George asked, slinging his arm around Lee’s shoulders.

 

“Excellent!”  Lee exclaimed.  “Count me in.  What’s the worthy cause?”

 

“Let’s just say we’d be helping a mutual friend,” said George, with a furtive glance at Fred.

 

“Good enough for me,” said Lee.  “When do we get started?”

 

“The first day back to lessons.  We want the maximum amount of mayhem,” Fred replied.

 

“Are you trying the Portable Swamp?”  Lee asked hopefully.

 

“Great minds think alike, mate,” said Fred, opening his hand to reveal the swamp.

 

Lee’s grin slipped away.  “Wait a minute.  I just thought of something.  Umbridge will be able to get rid of it easily enough.  I’m sure she’ll try to reduce it straight away.  Aside from the initial shock, it’ll be more of a nuisance than anything.”

 

“That’s where the special part of the plan comes in,” said George, with a devilish grin.  “You see, we prepared this particular swamp especially for Umbridge.  It’s much bigger than the others and it can only be activated by two people.”

 

“How’s that going to make a difference?”  Lee asked skeptically.

 

“Who’s the only person at Hogwarts who’s loyal to Umbridge?”  George asked, eager for Lee’s reaction.

 

“Filch,” said Lee simply.  Suddenly, his eyes grew wide.  “Filch is a Squib!  He’s the only person here who won’t be able to help Umbridge!”

 

Fred and George nodded proudly.  “Ron told us about Filch being a Squib ages ago, but we were waiting for the perfect opportunity to use it against him.  And what do you know?  That opportunity has presented itself,” said George.

 

“When Umbridge tries to reduce the swamp, it’ll spring right back,” Fred explained.  “She’ll be so riled up that she won’t even realize that one spell isn’t strong enough.  She’ll think that it didn’t work at all and she’ll try something else.  That’s the beauty of it, nothing she tries will work.” 

 

“She’ll have plenty of time to brood over it, then,” said Lee, laughing.  “I don’t think any of the other professors will be keen to help her.”

 

“Yeah, we’re sure Professor Flitwick will recognize the solution, but we hope he’ll let Umbridge bumble along for a bit,” said George.

 

“So, how big will the swamp get?”  Lee asked.

 

“We don’t know,” George responded.  “We tested one by the pitch, but it was a small one.  This one would get noticed if we tried to test it.  But it doesn’t matter, it’s much more fun with the element of surprise.”

 

“What do you need me to do?”  Lee wondered.

 

“The swamp is going to act as a diversion,” Fred began.  “So, we need you to keep watch for Umbridge while we activate it.  Can’t have her ruining all the fun now, can we?”

 

“We need to draw Umbridge away from her office, so the swamp should be as far away from it as possible,” George continued.  “That way she’ll have to cross the castle and we’ll have extra time.  I think we’ll be able to get about twenty minutes before she totally goes mad.  She’ll probably come looking for us right off, but by then we’ll have accomplished our goal and it won’t matter.”

 

Fred furrowed his brow thoughtfully.  “What do you think about using Gregory the Smarmy’s corridor in the East Wing?  It would be big enough for the swamp and it’s far from Umbridge’s office,” he suggested.

 

“That’d be perfect,” said George.  “I’m sure Gregory would approve of our plans.”

 

“How did you come up with the idea for these anyways?”  Lee asked in an impressed voice, scooping the muck out of Fred’s hand and examining it.

 

“Ginny told us that Neville Longbottom has a Mimbulus Mimbletonia.  It exploded on the Hogwarts Express and sprayed Stinksap all over her, Neville, Harry, and Loony Lovegood.  It gave us an idea,” George explained.

 

“Yeah,” Fred continued.  “Stinksap is totally disgusting, but it’s easy to remove.  We had to use it for something.  So we thought ‘Who wouldn’t want a swamp they could carry in their pocket?’” 

 

Lee laughed.  “You’re going to sell loads of these.”

 

“That’s the plan,” said George. 

 

“Then it’s settled,” said Fred, clapping his hands.  “All we need to do is discuss things with our friend and we’ll be ready.”

 

******************************

 

The remainder of the Easter holidays passed quickly, and soon the Sunday before lessons resumed was upon them.  That night Fred and George discussed their plan with Harry, Ron, and a pessimistic Hermione.  Their plan finalized, Fred and George spent a restless night in their beds.  Eager to begin the day, they rose early on Monday morning.  They dressed, collected the Portable Swamp from Fred’s trunk, and quietly left Gryffindor Tower for breakfast.

 

Once inside the Great Hall, they strode alongside the Gryffindor table, smiling at the other students as they went.  They sat down and pulled several dishes towards them. 

 

George rubbed his hands together and surveyed the food before him.  “Smells excellent, doesn’t it?” he asked cheerfully to several sleepy Gryffindors who did not respond.

 

As Fred and George finished their breakfast, Lee joined them at the table.  He yawned, stretched, and then piled food on his plate.  George glanced up and down the Gryffindor table for Harry.  Lee noticed and exchanged a concerned look with him. 

 

“Where do you think he is?”  George whispered to Fred and Lee. 

 

“Do you think he’s changed his mind?”  Lee wondered.

 

“Nah,” said Fred, confidently.  “He’s probably just running late.  We’ll see you in Binns’ class, Lee.”

 

Lee nodded, and Fred and George stood up to leave.  Hermione Granger entered the Great Hall and marched up the aisle.  She gave Fred and George a disapproving look as she swept past them.  They shrugged and continued through the Entrance Hall and up the Grand Staircase to class.

 

George passed the time in the tedious History of Magic lesson, the last one of the day, by drawing a picture of Umbridge trapped in the Portable Swamp.  George tapped the picture with his wand and the animated Umbridge flailed her arms as she sank in the muck.  George nudged Fred awake and slid the drawing over to him.  Fred laughed and passed it to Lee.  Lee snorted, though none of the other students heard since all of them had been lulled to sleep by Binns’ droning voice.  When the bell finally rang, startling the students awake, the class filed out into the corridor.  Fred, George, and Lee dashed out first and made their way to the fifth floor in the East Wing.

 

Lee set off for the end of the large corridor while Fred and George stood by the statue of Gregory the Smarmy.  George watched the opposite end of the corridor while Fred checked his watch.  “It’s five now, we’d better start.  Harry should be ready,” he said.

 

Fred removed the tiny swamp from his pocket and placed it at the foot of the statue.  Lee appeared at the end of the corridor and grinned at the twins.  Fred and George wound their way through the hall, now crowded with students, to the opposite end.  They withdrew their wands, waited for several students to pass so that they could aim properly, then pointed their wands at the swamp and shouted “Engorgio!

 

An ominous rumbling filled the corridor.  The Portable Swamp expanded and contracted, as if it were breathing.  A group of Hufflepuffs, who had just exited a nearby classroom, heard the sound and turned towards the swamp.  Then they spotted Fred and George with their wands out.  The students, realizing the connection between the Portable Swamp and the twins, pushed and shoved each other in a desperate attempt to escape.

 

Just as the group sprinted past Fred and George, a tremendous boom echoed throughout the corridor and the swamp exploded into a monstrous stretch of green mess.  Fred and George were thrown backwards by the force of the expanding swamp.  Fred smacked hard against the wall and slid down onto the floor in a heap. 

 

George grimaced as his head connected with the cold, stone floor.  He squeezed his eyes shut as a piercing pain sliced through the back of his head.  He could hear the screams of the other students becoming fainter as they ran away.  Though they were far away, the pounding of their feet resounded in George’s head.  He propped himself up on his elbow and with his other hand touched the back of his head.  He was relieved to see that there was no blood.  George scrambled to his feet and called “Fred!  Fred!”

 

“Over here,” said Fred, in a disgruntled voice.  George slid across the slippery floor and helped Fred up.  With an enormous plop, a wad of Stinksap fell from the ceiling landed on George’s already soaked robes.  George peered up and saw that the entire ceiling was covered in the thick, green substance.  The majority of it had already fallen back into the swamp leaving long, glistening threads suspended from the ceiling.  They reminded George of repulsive, green icicles.  When both of them were standing, they surveyed the Portable Swamp. 

 

For a moment, they were speechless.  The swamp stretched almost the entire length of the corridor, except for small areas at each end that were merely slippery with Stinksap.  There was a miniscule amount of marshy land that surrounded the swamp, which had the consistency of something between liquid and solid.  The surface bubbled as though something sinister were underneath, fighting its way out.  Huge opaque bubbles swelled until they burst, sending a revolting stench into the air.

 

Panicked yells broke the silence and Fred and George noticed for the first time that three students were trapped inside the Portable Swamp. 

 

Worried, they called to Lee.  “I’m alright, but there’s some kids trapped,” he called to them.  Fred and George could barely make Lee out at the end of the corridor.  The Stinksap had smeared the walls, making it dark and difficult to see.  Lee was now knee deep in the swamp, wading his way out to a frightened boy.

 

The other two were desperately trying to fight their way to the edge.  They scrapped and clawed, but could not grasp anything solid to hold onto.  Brittle branches poked here and there from the land but snapped off futilely in their hands when they attempted to grab them.

 

Fred and George immediately set to work.  George struggled through the swamp towards a boy who was close to him.  Fred squinted down the corridor at a tiny girl who was thrashing and screaming. 

 

“I’m going to get you out of there!”  Fred shouted as he pointed his wand authoritatively at her and exclaimed “Wingardium Leviosa!

 

The girl rose mere inches from the swamp, and then sunk further into the muck.  Fred felt the color drain from his face.  He looked at George, who had managed to drag the other boy to safety. 

 

“George, help!”  Fred shouted.  George raised his own wand and together they shouted “Wingardium Leviosa!

 

The girl rose slowly out of the mess.  Their arms quavered under her weight and the pull of the swamp.  Steadily, they moved her towards the more solid ground against the walls.  She was within a few feet of the edge when she fell back into the swamp with a great splash.  Fred shoved his wand inside his robes and shimmied along the slick wall with his back pressed against it. 

 

Fred reached the girl, knelt down, and stretched out his hand to her.  George had rushed along behind him and had grasped the back of Fred’s robes so that he could reach further.  The girl waved her arms back and forth, panic causing her to miss Fred’s outstretched hand. 

 

Finally, they connected.  Fred grasped her wrist, and together they pulled her out of the swamp and led her back to the end of the corridor.  Though shaken and covered in Stinksap, she was otherwise all right.  “Thanks,” she squeaked before she scampered around the corner and out of sight.

 

Fred scanned the opposite end of the corridor and called, “Alright, Lee?”

 

“Yeah,” said Lee, pushing several drenched dreadlocks off his forehead.  “I got him out, he’s long gone now.” 

 

“Well, aside from the stampede, and people getting stuck in the swamp, I’d say things worked according to plan,” said George.

 

Fred laughed, exhausted.  He put his hands on his hips while he caught his breath.

 

“Thanks for your help, Lee!”  George called.

 

“Anytime!”  Lee replied.  He pointed his wand at himself, and said “Scourgify!  He waved at the twins before disappearing down the stairs.

 

Fred and George took their cue and did the same.  The spell removed the majority of the Stinksap from their robes but the hem of their robes remained green.  Fred clapped George on the back and then said, “I think our twenty minutes are up, we should get out of here.  Hopefully, Umbridge is on her way here and Harry got to talk to Sirius.  She’s going to have loads of fun with this.”

 

They hastily left the corridor and joined the glut of students in the Entrance Hall.  The buzz of voices made it seem as though they were in a hive.  Peeves, floating above the students, seized the opportunity to startle some first-year girls by blowing raspberries near their ears. 

 

“Stop where you are,” said a drawling voice from behind Fred and George.  They slowly turned around and glared at Draco Malfoy, who was flanked by Crabbe and Goyle.  Fred snorted derisively at Malfoy; he turned to George and then said, “Come on, let’s go.” 

 

“Not so fast,” said Malfoy, his mouth twisting into a tight grin.  “I know you created that swamp.”

 

“What swamp?  Fred, do you know anything about a swamp?”  George asked innocently.

 

“Don’t get cute with me, Weasley,” sneered Malfoy.  “You’re not as clever as you think,” he said, pointing at the hem of George’s robes. 

 

“So,” said George nastily.  “Use your eyes, Malfoy.  We’re not the only ones with this stuff on us.  We just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.  You can’t prove anything.”

 

“Maybe not,” said Malfoy, with another twisted grin.  “But I’m sure that’ll be plenty of proof for Headmistress Umbridge to expel you.”

 

Fred and George laughed in Malfoy’s face and turned to leave. 

 

“You’re not going anywhere,” Malfoy snarled, his pale face pink with anger and embarrassment.  He quickly produced his wand and pointed it at the twins.  In a flash, Crabbe and Goyle had drawn their own wands.  Several other members of the Inquisitorial Squad materialized from the crowd with their wands out.

 

Suddenly, a breathless Umbridge appeared at the top of the stairs.  Her entire faced seemed purple with rage.

 

“We’ve got them, Headmistress,” said Malfoy, a smug smile on his face.  The other students backed away from Fred and George until the twins were left at the center of a large circle.  They turned to each other, realizing that they were cornered…

 

//
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