The Sugar Quill
Author: Poppy P (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Just Like You  Chapter: Chapter 1 – Even If He Wasn’t My Twin Brother…
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Chapter 1

Just Like You

By Poppy P

Standard disclaimer applies: I am not writing this for profit, only hoping to entertain.  The characters don’t belong to me; they are the product of the great J.K. Rowling.

A/N:  Hope you enjoy this George-centric fic set during the CoS.  All feedback is encouraged; I love to hear from readers!  A big thanks to Zsenya for the beta and Katie (Soupytwist) for the Brit-picking.  Incidentally, the title of this fic was inspired by a song of the same name by Keb’ Mo’ off the soundtrack for the movie “Holes”.  Enjoy… 

Chapter 1 – Even If He Wasn’t My Twin Brother…

Fred and I huddled on the first floor landing, quiet as mice.  I shifted a bit, trying to find a more comfortable position and caused the floorboards to creak. 

“Be still, will you,” hissed Fred, glaring at me. 

Normally, nothing much winds up my twin brother.  However, the owl that mum received from Professor McGonagall this morning was unnerving him.  Not that I could blame him.  We’d both been a bit on edge ever since it had turned up this morning at breakfast.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Weasley,

I trust that you are well and enjoying having your children home for the summer holidays.  Although considering that you have Fred and George home, I’m sure you’re quite busy so I will make this as brief as possible. 

As you know from the countless owls that I’ve sent you throughout the school year, Fred and George are a handful.  When the staff met briefly last week to discuss the appointment of prefects, the subject of Fred and George Weasley was brought up.  Despite the chaos that they cause, many of the staff members, myself included, feel that the twins are rather intelligent.  Filius Flitwick thinks that their affinity for Charms borders on genius.  Even Severus Snape had a compliment for them; I believe his exact words were, ‘for Gryffindors, they are competent potion brewers’ (and from Severus, that is high praise indeed!). 

The problem of course, lies in their penchant for trouble.  We feel that the twins may benefit from some time away from each other.  Engaging them individually in a special project may be very beneficial to them (as well as the staff!). 

That said, we would like to request your permission to have George use his exceptional skills in Charms to tutor students who are having trouble with this subject.  Professor Flitwick will supervise him in this project.  Professor Trelawney thinks that Fred may have the Sight and requests his assistance in organizing a Divination Club.  I have my doubts about this, but I’ll leave that to your discretion.  We feel that this would be a viable solution for all parties involved.  Argus Filch suggested many different alternatives, none of which would be to the boys’ benefit. 

I will await your owl regarding this matter.

Yours Sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall,

Deputy Headmistress

            Mum was currently pacing the living room, discussing the letter with Dad.  They thought that we were in bed of course. 

            “This is entirely your fault!  You encourage those boys far too much!”

            Dad muttered something inaudible. 

            I felt my insides squirming guiltily.  I hate to hear Mum and Dad fighting, especially when it’s about us (which it usually is).  However, Mum was soon sounding resigned. 

            “I suppose you’re right.  There’s no use punishing them now.  It’s not as though I can lay them across my knee anymore.  The last time I used a broom on George’s backside, it broke in half.”

            Fred and I collapsed in silent snickers at the mention of that incident.  It had been Fred’s idea to Charm our bums like that.  He got the idea from a Muggle exercise program we saw at our best friend Lee Jordan’s house when we visited him during the summer hols last year.  I swear, even if he wasn’t my twin brother, Fred would still be my best friend; he always manages to save my arse.

            “You’re right, of course, dear,” said Dad tiredly.  “Write back to McGonagall tomorrow and let her know that we agree with their solution.”

In the dim light of the stairway I saw a look of deep disgust on my brother’s face.

“Can you believe our own parents are going to sell us out like that?” He brightened suddenly.  “Funny about Trelawney though.  When I made that prediction about Quirrell being in grave danger, I meant from us, not You-Know-Who.  Well, I suppose it could be a laugh, messing with old Trelawney.”

            Fred has always had a knack for looking on the bright side of things.  Nothing ever really gets him down.  He’s not one to over analyze anything.  It’s why he’s such a successful mischief-maker.  He never thinks about consequences; he just forges ahead.  I, on the other hand, tend to think things through a bit more, which is really good because I’ve managed to keep us out of more serious trouble, which has worked out okay.  In other words, I make sure we don’t physically hurt anyone.  Except for Ron, but that’s another story…

            Fred stood up, scratching his stomach and yawning widely.  “Let’s go to bed.  No sense worrying about next term until it gets here.”  He started up the stairs towards our room. 

            I stood up to follow him, but stopped as I heard Mum say something about Harry Potter which caught my attention. He is my teammate after all, and even though he’s Ron’s best mate, he’s not a bad kid. 

            “…and he hasn’t answered any of Ronnie’s letters.  Do you think something’s wrong?  Should we owl Dumbledore?”  Mum sounded really anxious.

            I looked towards Fred, but he was gone, apparently already in our room.  I leaned towards the sound of my parent’s voices, curious.

            “There now, Molly.  I reckon Dumbledore’s on it.  He keeps a tight handle on anything concerning Harry.  Maybe those Muggles he lives with have taken him on holiday somewhere.  Yes, I expect that’s it.”

            Mum still sounded somewhat uncertain.  “Well, I suppose you’re right…but still, what if the boy’s in trouble?”

            I heard our old couch creak.  No doubt Dad had pulled Mum down to sit beside him. 

            “Don’t worry yourself about it.  If he doesn’t write to Ron soon, we’ll look into it, yes?” said Dad in a soothing voice.

            They were quiet for a second and I turned towards the stairs, keen to get away before I heard kissing or some other disgusting activity.  However, the next thing I heard was Mum’s voice again and the quality of it made me pause once more. 

            “Did you get a chance to talk to Mafalda about your pay increase?” 

            I’ve always admired Mum’s ability to sound both tentative and firm.  It’s a gift, (or a curse, depending on what side of it you’re on).

            “Er…well…yes, yes I did.”  Dad stuttered.

            “And?”

            I knew how much my parents had been counting on that pay increase, so I listened hard, gripping the banister with white knuckles.

            “Now, dear…she didn’t rule it out completely… but she said…er…it probably won’t happen this year.”

            “Oh Arthur!” cried Mum, her voice awash in disappointment.  “We could’ve used that money.  The boys are growing so fast, and it’s hard for them to keep using hand-me-downs.  The twins have been making due with Charlie’s old robes, but they really need new ones.  It’s not so bad with Ron, he uses Percy’s cast-offs, but Ginny needs new things too and…”

            I got a sick, tight feeling in my throat at the despair in Mum’s voice.  I didn’t care if I had to wear Charlie’s old robes until they were see-through as long as I didn’t have to hear Mum go on like that.  I was pretty sure Fred would feel the same way. 

            Dad’s voice sounded sad and tired as he attempted to comfort Mum.  “We’ll think of something, Dear.  Don’t fret now.”

            Mum’s voice sounded oddly muffled.  “I’m sure we will.  We always manage.”

            I slunk up the stairs to our room.  I think I would’ve preferred to overhear them snogging after all.

****

            It took me a while to figure out why I felt so miserable when I woke up the next morning.  Fred and I generally aren’t morning people, but today I felt an odd, heavy sensation in my chest that was weighing me down.  Suddenly I remembered my parents’ discussion about Dad’s pay raise (or lack of), and I understood.  It must’ve shown because Fred unexpectedly slapped his pillow across my face.  He hates to see me down.

            “What’s your problem?  You look like you’ve just been told you have to go on a date with Filch.  What’s wrong?”

            I hesitated.  I can talk to Fred about anything, but somehow I didn’t think I could tell him about the scene between our parents last night.  He’d probably just try to make light of it and I didn’t feel like treating it that way.  It was an odd sensation, withholding something from him like that.

            “Er…it’s Mum.  I think I saw her looking something up in Gilderoy Lockhart’s Guide to Household Pests last night before we went to bed.  She’s probably thinking of new ways to make us de-gnome the garden.”  I sighed loudly and added, “Bugger!” for good measure.

            Fred looked skeptical for a fraction of a second before bursting out in a grin.  “Ah, she just likes mooning over that picture of Lockhart on the cover.  We de-gnomed yesterday, remember?  She won’t be after us for at least a week.”

            “Yeah, you’re right,” I said, managing a weak grin.  “Let’s go down to breakfast,” I said by way of changing the subject.  Food is usually a good way to distract him.

            Fred, however, looked at me closely, his eyes doubtful.  “Are you sure you’re all right?”  He’s pretty perceptive sometimes. 

            “Er…I heard Mum and Dad talking last night…”

            “And?” he prodded.

            “They were talking about Harry Potter,” I said in a rush.  “Mum’s really worried about him not answering Ron’s letters and I was thinking…” I struggled to find a plausible story under Fred’s unwavering gaze.  “You see, I was thinking…what if something has happened to him, what’s going to happen to the Quidditch team?”

            Fred accepted this explanation immediately.  Quidditch is something he can understand.  “You’re right, we can’t lose Potter.  He’s the best thing that’s happened to the team since…” he screwed up his face in concentration, “since us!”

            Suddenly, a loud ‘crack’ rent the air, followed by a muffled curse and the sound of a body thumping on the floor. 

            “Charlie!” said Fred, moving to pick up our older brother off of the floor.  Charlie was on a two-week holiday from work.  He likes to visit during the summer when most of us are home.  Only our oldest brother Bill hadn’t managed to get time off from his job this year. 

            “Damn!” said Charlie, dragging himself into a sitting position from his spot on the worn carpet.  “I was trying to Apparate into my own room so that I wouldn’t catch it from Mum.”  He rubbed his head ruefully.  “I must be more pissed than I thought.”

            I exchanged a bemused look with Fred before asking Charlie, “Where’ve you been?”

            He smirked.  “Been in the village, soaking up some of the local Muggle culture.”

            “You’ve been soaking up something, all right,” said Fred, waving his hand in front of his nose.  “You smell like whisky and cheap perfume.”

            “Muggle mating customs, George,” slurred Charlie.

            “I’m George,” I corrected him.  “And do you mean to say you’ve been in the village all night?”

            “Snuck out of the house after midnight.  You know how Mum doesn’t approve of us going down to the village.  Dad knows though.  He lent me the car.”  Charlie’s eyes widened in horror.  “The car!  I left it down in the village!”  He slumped over in misery.  “Now Mum’s going to find out and kill Dad too.”

            Fred, never one to miss out on a business opportunity, gave me a brief glance and threw himself down next to Charlie.  “Tough break, bro,” he said sympathetically.

            Picking up my twin’s line of thought, I followed with, “It looks like you’ll have to face Mum after all, unless-“

            “-someone helps you out-“

            “-which we’d be happy to do-“

            “-for a small fee-“

            “-say, three galleons-

            “-each-“

            “Six galleons!” said Charlie, sitting straight up in his outrage.  “Forget it!  I’ll sneak back down to the village myself and get the car.  I’m not paying you two anything.”

            Fred and I exchanged a grin.  We know when someone’s about to fall into our trap.

            “You could do that, but-“

            “-do you really want to risk Apparating again in your state?”

            “Not to mention driving the car?”

            “Seems pretty dodgy to me, considering-“

            “-Apparation is not one of your strengths-“

            “-and you may face dragons at work-“

            “-but they’re nothing compared to Mum-“

 “I get it!  I get it!”  Charlie interrupted me.  “Here are your six galleons.  Take it and go get that car.”  He hauled himself off the floor.  “I’m going to bed before you two extort any more gold out of me.  Here are the keys.  Tell Mum I have a headache and I won’t be coming down for breakfast.”

With a crack he disappeared from our room.  The next minute we heard Ginny squealing, “Charlie get out, you stupid prat!  I’m dressing!”

            Fred and I laughed until tears ran down our faces. 

A/N2:  Hope you all enjoyed!  This story will be several chapters, covering George’s perspective during CoS.  Visit my live journal (Poppy’s Place) for some George-centric discussion

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