The Sugar Quill
Author: Genesse (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Friendly Twin Advice  Chapter: From Dumbledore, Early Summer
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Important Legal Jargon: As much as I want to, I do not own anything you recognise in this story.



Friendly Twin Advice


From Dumbledore, Early Summer

‘Oy! It’s the barmy old codger!’

At the stone gargoyle’s rude comment, Fred Weasley’s head snapped up from the day’s edition of The Daily Prophet. ‘Professor Dumbledore!’ he said, surprised, as the old headmaster did not make it a habit to frequent Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes.

‘Good afternoon, Mr Weasley.’ Dumbledore looked up at the gargoyle sitting above the doorway. ‘I see you are not worried about offending your customers.’ His eyes glinted behind his glasses.

We really need to do something about that thing, Fred thought. He raised an eyebrow at the gargoyle.

‘Don’t let him fool you! He told me to call him that the last time he was here.’

They both laughed. The gargoyle was probably telling the truth.

Fred looked expectantly at Dumbledore. Surely another member of the Order of the Phoenix would be at the shop soon and then the two of them would quietly move into the storage room in the back of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, which was charmed soundproof so that members of the Order could hold private impromptu meetings. Those impromptu meetings had stared to occur more and more frequently in the week since Harry had been take to the Burrow for the remainder of the summer holidays, but Fred and George were not often included in the meetings.

But Dumbledore merely looked steadily back at Fred. Dumbledore’s visit had a purpose: he wanted to speak with the Weasleys specifically about Harry living at the Burrow. Having just received a loving and biased account from Molly, he wanted Fred and George’s opinion.

The tips of Fred’s ears grew warm under Dumbledore’s gaze; he knew from the pointed silence that Dumbledore wasn’t waiting for another Order member to arrive. He grinned to himself, pleased at his and George’s change of status within the Order as he beckoned his old Headmaster to the back of the shop.

After Dumbledore walked past him, Fred pointed his wand at the door to the shop to lock it and turn the Open sign to Closed.

‘Professor Dumbledore!’ George was saying as Fred entered the storeroom. George looked at the door, expecting to see other Order members in Dumbledore’s wake but was surprised to only see his twin. George raised his eyebrows at Fred, who grinned widely in response.

George stood up from the bench he’d been sitting at, pouring over scrolls detailing the shop’s inventory. Fred helped him gather the scrolls and quills on the bench. They quickly stacked them on an empty shelf amid potion ingredients and empty flasks.

Dumbledore gingerly sat down on the wobbly stool George had occupied. ‘I am glad that I’m able to talk to both of you today.’

The twins did not immediately respond to such a statement. There was a general air of apprehension in the untidy storage room. ‘Can we offer you some refreshment, Professor Dumbledore?’ George finally asked warily.

‘No, no thank you. I was just with your mother and she made sure that I was well watered and fed.’ He smiled at the twins’ anxious expressions. Harry’s occupancy at the Burrow and how he was coping in a familial setting could wait a moment or two, as he gauged Fred and George’s confidence in their new roles as qualified wizards with ties to the Order of the Phoenix. ‘How is the Sincerity Sweet production coming along?’

‘Well,’ Fred said, ‘we’re not entirely sure how long the shelf life is but from all accounts it’s rather short, so we haven’t been able to test them—’

‘Miss Granger said differently this morning.’

‘Er, yes, well…’ Fred started to say, the half-truth dying on his lips.

‘And is the rosemary I suggested working well enough?’

‘It’s quite strong—’

‘—Fred reeked of it for two days—’

‘—so we lowered the dosage, but haven’t got the same results.’

‘Er, Professor Dumbledore,’ Fred started hesitatingly, then looked at George, who nodded encouragingly. ‘Could you explain why these Sincerity Sweets are so important? We—we want to help the Order in any way, you know that, but it would help us with production if we know how they are going to help.’

Dumbledore knew the twins would ask the question, and he was inclined to let them know the answer—that it was a precaution for those who would be closely associated with Harry in the coming weeks he would spend at the Burrow. Fidelity to Harry would be imperative and Dumbledore did not want to put any of them in a position where their intentions would be called into question. He nodded. ‘Yes, I think that the two of you deserve to know how you are helping the Order.’

Fred and George shared satisfied smiles with each other and nodded.

Dumbledore, on the other hand, was not so satisfied with their reaction. He scrutinized the twins. He knew that they were eager to present themselves as fully-qualified wizards and adults, but their sense of modesty—or rather their lack of modesty—was preventing many of the Order from regarding the Weasley twins seriously, in particular with their proximity to Harry Potter. He decided to test their patience a bit.

‘As you know, Fred and George, you have a bit of a Van Gogh-like reputation among the Order—’

‘Van Gogh?’ George asked.

‘Van Gogh was a renowned potato painter. I read an article once in which Picasso blathered enthusiastically about Van Gogh’s potato painting ability.’

‘Picasso?’ Fred asked.

‘Did you not study Art History in Muggle Studies?’

They shook their heads no.

‘Just as well. I meant that the two of you have talents for which some of the Order have admiration.’

‘Well, that’s friendly of them.’ George said slowly.

‘These talents, like Van Gogh’s ability to depict potatoes in a painting, are such that are unique to you. And the Order would like to see you use those talents to make some progress for our cause in the war.’

‘Do you really think that Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes can help in the war?’ Fred asked.

‘Yes, I do. I think you can contribute a great amount, and not just in the war, if your hearts and minds are striving for the right purpose. The nice thing about this day and age is that it’s a win-win universe.’

‘A win-win universe?’ George asked, taking a glance at Fred to make sure he was equally confused.

‘Or a lose-lose universe, depending on the purpose of your intentions.’

‘What does that mean, Professor Dumbledore?’

Dumbledore withdrew his wand from his robes and gave it a little wave. A taunt golden web appeared in the air between him and the twins. He tapped it and a series of white points began to traverse the span of the uppermost threads of the web. One more tap sent the white points slowly spiraling down the web to the lowest reaches in perfect synchronization. The lamps in the storage room went out.

‘One timely, well-intentioned push creates a thing a beauty and reason.’ he said softly.

He waved his wand below the web. The white points began spiraling upwards, faster than before. Some of the points collided and disappeared but the others continued independently.

‘One untimely but well-intentioned push can make a mess of a thing that didn’t need improving.’

He waved his wand yet again below the web. Some of the points changed direction mid-course. All the points increased speed, creating discord, bumping into one another. A few points, after colliding, stayed on-course, but most of the points disappeared until the Weasley twins and Dumbledore were standing in the storage room in the utter dark.

‘One meanly-intended push can create dissonance, destroying that thing that was once beautiful, which, of course, was the intention of that push.’

Dumbledore lit the lamps with another wave of his wand.

Fred looked pensive. ‘So, you’re saying that if you intend to win, you will win?’

‘In a way. Sometimes the thing we win is not what we intended to win at the outset.’

‘Then how do you know if you’ve won or lost?’ George asked.

‘You cannot lose if your efforts and purposes are well-intended.’

George and Fred glanced at each other and then looked back at Dumbledore. ‘Er?’ they both said tentatively.

‘I’m starting to sound very complicated to myself,’ Dumbledore said, amused.

Fred and George exchanged bemused looks.

Noticing, Dumbledore felt an irrepressible need to explain. ‘I intentionally try to be ambiguous.’

‘Bless your heart,’ Fred responded, still perplexed.

Dumbledore decided to get to the real point of his visit. The testing of the twins’ patience would have to be an on-going process. ‘How is Harry doing? I know that your mother means well, but I need slightly less-invested opinion.’

‘Well, he’s alive…’ George wavered.

‘But he is still heartsick? I expected as much.’

‘Sometimes he’s okay. He likes to be alone, but sometimes he’s up for pranks and experiments. He volunteered to try the low-rosemary dosage Sincerity Sweets, but only after we told him that they probably wouldn’t work.’

‘Did you tell him about the properties of rosemary?’

‘No.’ Fred shook his emphatically.

‘Good. One less thing for him to worry about.’ He gave the twins a significant look. ‘Although, I wonder…’

‘What’s that?’ George asked.

‘You said he’s been up for pranks?’

‘Yes, sir.’ George grinned widely. ‘We got Ginny good yesterday, although we don’t think she knows it yet.’

‘It would be better that she didn’t know. The longer it takes for her to notice, the better,’ Fred pointed out.

‘But if she should get her knickers in a twist—’

‘—let’s just say she’d better not be wearing those knickers.’ Dumbledore suppressed his inclination to roll his eyes at the twins’ thoughtlessness. He never had a sister, but he knew enough to not interfere with a lady’s knickers, however close the relationship. And he was not entirely sure that it was proper that he was listening to the twins go on about one of his student’s knickers. Change the subject, he thought.

‘While I was at the Burrow, I did not have the opportunity of seeing Ginny. Does she get on well with Harry?’

‘Why do you ask?’ Fred asked suspiciously.

‘I believe that Harry could use as many female influences in his life as possible. Miss Weasley is naturally one to whom Harry would connect himself.’

‘They get on all right,’ Fred said slowly.

‘You are concealing something from me. Perhaps you were able to extract a bit of information from Harry while he was under the influence of Sincerity Sweets?’ suggested Dumbledore.

‘Harry looks at Ginny sometimes when he thinks we’re not watching him,’ George said slowly.

‘And he and Ginny have walked around the garden a few times—’

‘—but we all go out into the garden to get away from Ron and Hermione when they’re having a row.’

Dumbledore decided to ignore the comment about Ron and Hermione. ‘Harry and Miss Weasley have talked? I am worried that he is dwelling too much on Sirius and Voldemort, and not enough on healing and the other things in his life that need attention. Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was Harry’s age. I remember a young lady in Ravenclaw for whom I had a fondness—’

Both twins interrupted with cat-calls.

‘Professor Dumbledore!’

‘A lady’s man!’

‘What was your best chat-up line?’

Dans mes bras! Dans mes bras! Que je t’embrasse!

‘Professor Dumbledore, does the phrase “Ooh la la” come from France?’

They both laughed heartily. Dumbledore was a little confused at their use of French but was also not amused at the crass manner the twins had addressed his relationship with the former Miss Victoria Gilmore.

‘There are not many people who would stand to hear you say such things about a lady many years older than you who is not of your acquaintance.’

‘Yes, you’re right, Professor,’ Fred said, looking at the ground, properly shamed. George looked at the ground in shame as well.

A smile played on Dumbledore’s lips. He knew their regret was genuine. A landmark on the way to responsibility, he thought. He left them looking at the floor for a couple of moments before saying, ‘Miss Tonks, for instance, would take extreme exception to that remark.’

‘How is Tonks these days?’ Fred asked.

‘She has been quite busy developing a relationship with Remus Lupin.’

Fred and George exchanged looks of surprise.

‘Good thing you told me that. I was going to ask her out,’ Fred said.

It was Dumbledore’s turn to look surprised.

‘Fred likes his little joke,’ George managed to say through muffled laughter.

Dumbledore watched Fred as he carefully thought out the things he wanted to express.

‘You wonder if the timing is proper for Miss Tonks and Mr Lupin to start a relationship.’

‘Well, yes. We’re in the middle of a war, and Sirius—well, I’m just surprised that with all the things that’re going on around them, how they can, you know, fall in love?’

‘Just because they both are suffering with the loss of Sirius right now does not mean that their hearts are going to stop working. They are human beings and it is helping them to survive and to heal. That’s the only purpose magnificent enough for a human life—not just to love but to continue in love, even though there is pain in the world.’

Fred nodded, understanding the implications of that statement in his own life.

After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, Dumbledore recalled that he was needed at the Ministry and took his leave. ‘This has been a delightful visit. Thank you for your time. We will speak again soon, I hope.’

‘Any time, Professor Dumbledore,’ George said as he opened the storage room door. He walked with Dumbledore to the entry.

‘Could I bother you for a few of those Flatulus Frogs, Mr Weasley? I believe that my brother Aberforth would particularly enjoy them.’

‘Oh. Sure, Professor.’ He handed Dumbledore a handful of packages. ‘With our compliments.’

‘Brother? I bet he uses them at staff meetings!’ the gargoyle shouted at them.

George rolled his eyes as Dumbledore chuckled softly.

‘Good afternoon, Mr Weasley.’ Dumbledore silently Disapparated in the designated Order Apparition spot.

George headed back to the storage room. It wasn’t like Fred to stay behind, much less as quietly as he was doing at the moment.

Fred was sitting at the work bench looking down at his hands. He looked up as George entered the room. ‘Do you reckon he was talking about us? About the purpose of our intentions?’

‘Maybe. He gets around, that one.’

‘Yeah, he gets around,’ Fred said softly.

‘Do you think he bagged her? That Ravenclaw?’

‘Do you want to imagine Dumbledore sowing his wild oats?’

They burst into laughter as they left the storage room to reopen the shop.



______________________________________________


A/N: The stone gargoyle above the door and Flatulus Frogs appear in this story courtesy of ivy & Gracie.
“Continue in love” quote is rephrased from The Secret Lives of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.
Many thanks to my lovely beta Chary; to St. Margarets and Beverly, for not letting Dumbledore do or say anything he shouldn't; and to Kit the Brave, NorwegianBlue, Pineapple Queen, redlightspecial, magicaljules, and grover53 for their input and encouragement.
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