Of Pranks and Pranksters
by Aaran St Vines
Posted elsewhere as "Dudders and the Twins."
Loads of gratitude go to my wonderful betas, Ozma and Ninkenate.
Special note at the end for fans of "Great Scott, Potter, This is War!"
Who would have ever thought that Dudley Dursley had a sense of humor?
Come on. Most people require a literate mind to be funny, and Harry never suspected that his cousin had a brain in his head.
Somehow Dudders kept getting promoted to the next year, but Harry had always thought his teachers moved him forward out of fear of having him in their classes again. Though in the same school together until they were eleven years old, they'd never had the same teachers. Harry had suspected his aunt had arranged this so Dudley wouldn't be embarrassed by his slower, stupider cousin. Their first report showed that Harry had done better than Dudley, so from then on Dudley never showed his marks to Harry. Uncle Vernon only saw the reports and he rewarded the boys accordingly - according to how he'd always given everything to Dudley and nothing to his nephew.
Harry went off to Hogwarts and his cousin went to Smeltings. Dudley always arrived home for summer holidays seven or eight days before Harry did. Nothing regarding either lad's marks was ever mentioned again. Oh, sure, Dudley had several new gifts from his parents for 'doing so well this past year,' but many of them were broken by the time Harry reentered residence at number four, Privet Drive.
After being re-ensconced in 'Dudley's second bedroom,' Harry had to rearrange Dudley's Discards, the pile of broken paraphernalia that had grown bigger since he'd left the Dursleys' the past summer.
It wasn't that Dudley really had a sense of humor, but in the past school year he had discovered pranks and practical joke items. The night that he returned from Hogwarts, Harry sat down on a whoopee cushion at the dinner table. Aunt Petunia was particularly disconcerted by the sound, but Vernon and Dudley roared with laughter at Harry's embarrassment.
Next, Harry couldn't stop spilling water down his shirt as he tried to drink. He'd made it a practice to keep his eyes averted from his relatives during meals, so it wasn't until his second attempted drink, and the consequential spill, that he heard his two male relatives giggling and snorting at his wet tee-shirt.
Harry was drinking from a dribble glass. He hadn't really noticed that his glassware differed from the rest on the table. Petunia was mortified at the mess being created.
At the end of the meal, Dudley forced on Harry a stick of chewing gum. Of course Harry dropped it on his cleaned plate like it had been on fire. He saw nothing odd about it, but his cousin and uncle's assurances of its genuineness did anything but give him a desire to pop it in his mouth. He leaned over and smelled it, stopping before his nose was less than ten inches from the gum.
It was dirt-flavored gum. Petunia finally spoke.
"That's enough boys, all three of you. Take your pranks away from the table - out in the garden would be best, I think."
Then Harry made the inevitable verbal faux pas. "I should owl Fred and George for more Ton-Tongue Toffee. Maybe Nose-Bleed Nougats also."
His aunt and uncle started shouting all at once, and Harry found himself bolted in his room before he knew it. Vernon yelled through the door, "Boy, if you use that bloody pigeon tonight, I'll fricassee it in the morning."
The next evening, Harry found himself in the park in their estate. Like a bad penny, he found Dudley and his gang of ruffians together, but they were not in their usual vandalism or bullying mode. Instead, they were knocking over tin cans with slingshots. These weren't simple slingshots made from 'Y' shaped branches, these were rather expensive metal slingshots used in hunting small game. Of course Harry was unaware of that particular use of the designs.
Our hero walked past them in the shadows and was not seen by Big D's followers, but Dudley did see him.
As Harry walked speedily home he heard, "Oi, Potter! Wait up! I want to talk to you."
Dudley was still huge and carried a lot of extra weight, but he'd continued his boxing. The coach had him running and weight lifting and Dudley was carrying the excess weight better than Harry had ever seen him carry it. Dudley panted a little as he approached. Harry looked around and found a tree to stand partially behind as Dudley came near.
"Er, Potter... Harry. I'm not going to beat you up. You'll just pull that wand of yours and I'll have another pig's tail, or worse."
There seemed to be some degree of earnestness in his cousin, so Harry hesitantly stepped from behind the tree, but he kept his right hand near his back pocket where he'd hidden his wand under his un-tucked tee-shirt.
"What do you want, Dudley?"
With a suspicious sincerity, Dudley said, "I've thought a lot about it over the past year. You probably saved my life or something last summer, so..." holding out his hand, he continued, "Put 'er there."
Harry almost shook his hand, but he remembered the most hackneyed gag in Muggle existence. "Put the hand buzzer away, Dudley. I'm not stupid, you know."
Dudley looked disappointed but said after a while, "No, 'sppose you're not. Figg told me about you."
"What? Mrs. Figg talked to you? What... what did...?"
"Relax, Potter, er, Harry. She explained what you did for me. She told me that what you did was remarkable, that many grown-up wizards couldn't do it. We talked at Christmas time and I stormed out of her house, angry. How could you be so special? But after several months it hit me that you can be special and it doesn't make me any worse or any better."
"Who are you? Where's the real Dudley?" They both laughed at that.
Dudley went on to explain that he'd gone to the school counselor when he kept having bad dreams about the dementors. Though he had not told the counselor that the dreams had been a real memory, their sessions together had helped. "The counselor's the one who suggested I take up pranks and practical jokes rather than hitting people. So, Harry, where do I get hold of some of those great pranks like Ton-Tongue Toffee?"
That evening Harry wrote to his partners at Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes. He told them of Dudley's strange turn around, and suggested that the two consider a Muggle line of prank items. A Skiving Snackbox for Muggles, sans magic, should be a big underground bestseller among school-aged kids all over. Harry and Fred and George corresponded for several days, and Dudley participated with a few fairly good ideas of his own.
At first, the twins did not want to believe that Harry's cousin could be legitimately friendly with their silent partner. Like in many good families, the twins were more offended for Harry than he was for himself. Finally, Dudley volunteered to be the test subject for anything developed - for Muggle or magical pranks.
It was a time in the summer before Harry's sixth year, when all of those in the Order of the Phoenix, at Dumbledore's behest, were trying very hard to make Harry's life more enjoyable than it had been. The threat at the train station had been taken to heart by the Dursleys, and they fearfully let Harry do whatever he wanted so long as they did not see or hear anything abnormal.
Harry had a number of magical visitors who came and went in normal cars dressed like normal people and behaving like any normal person would. Petunia allowed the visitors to sit with Harry in their back garden under the shade trees, and talk quietly. The minders that watched Harry's summer residence were always there, but they were under Invisibility Cloaks. They cast Silencing and Disillusionment Charms the moment Harry and his visitors had settled. The discussions could be raucous and most active, and the Dursleys would never know.
The only restrictions placed on these visits by Harry's aunt and uncle was that no 'appearing and disappearing' occur, and no fireplace traveling. One more restriction was placed on the proceedings when five redheads arrived: Mr. Weasley, along with Fred, George, Ron, and Ginny.
Vernon said, "No more than two red heads of hair at once, and these two that gave my son that... that piece of abnormality that turned his tongue... They must leave RIGHT NOW!"
The twins Disapparated immediately, which upset Vernon even more. It took Arthur Weasley nearly a half hour, and a mildly veiled threat of 'more serious interest in Harry,' to settle everyone back to the routine that had been established. So no twin visits were possible to test products designed for Muggles in general and Dudley in specific.
Harry, having the best summer he'd ever had, did not mind this restriction. Dudley, having a good summer and not wanting to admit it, did argue, but to no avail.
Vernon and Petunia had planned a long weekend at a swimming beach starting first thing on a Friday morning. Dudley refused to go, and since a large, non-refundable deposit had been paid, his parents hesitantly left their Duddikins alone in the same house with 'that boy.'
Harry and Dudley had been owling and planning for a week. Right after Vernon and Petunia left, the two cousins set out to visit London and Diagon Alley. They planned to make a relaxing daytrip out of it, and thought it might be memorable. They would be correct.
A bike ride, a bus ride, two train rides, and a walk later, and they were entering Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes - Makers of Fine Pranks since 1996 A.D.
"We welcome to our humble establishment..."
"...the great Harry Potter and his great big cousin," Fred and George spoke, sharing the sentence.
"What do you..."
"...think, Harry? We didn't spend too much..."
"...on decorations yet, only on research..."
"...and development, and inventory." The two split the sentences fairly evenly.
Dudders asked, "How do you two talk like that?"
"...what?" the two asked, before all four of them broke up laughing.
Harry watched as the three jokesters started sparring like duelists. Fred offered Dudley a Canary Creme, and Dudley offered the twins dirt-flavored gum. All three received rude awakenings. Dudley finished molting about the time Fred and George had finished spitting out the gum and drinking a potion they'd developed out of necessity for themselves to remove foul testing tastes.
The twins had never seen the corniest old Muggle pranks. They'd only explored the slightly unseemly side of Muggle life, such as lock picks, but not Muggle gags.
It was Dudley's idea that any Muggle pranks the two developed for skiving off school should look like existing Muggle candies and snacks. He'd brought with him any number of such small packages. He promised that he'd not tampered with any of them, and in short order the four were sampling different types of gums, gum drops, toffees, taffies, pastilles, bars of chocolate - with and without nuts and creme fillings - and other confectionary delights.
Dudley had agreed to test a number of products for the twins, but first they decided to go to an early lunch at Florean Fortescue's. Dudley continued to amaze the three by ordering a dragon burger and pumpkin juice, and anything else on the menu that was strange sounding - the more abnormal the better.
The two minders watching Harry this day were Hestia Jones and Mundungus Fletcher. There had been no activity by Death Eaters since the Department of Mysteries battle, and a period of 'doing-nothing' seemed to be in effect.
As the twin brothers and two cousins approached the joke shop, two red stunner bolts came out of nowhere, and completely immobilized Jones and Fletcher, who were not cloaked.
Four Death Eaters revealed themselves from under two Invisibility Cloaks. One went further, removing her mask. "Wittle Har-ree comes out to pway with the other wittle tykes, I see." It was Bellatrix Lestrange.
The three young wizards shot a variety of spells and curses at the four as they pushed Dudley into the joke shop and ran in after him. "It will only be a few minutes before Aurors arrive," said George. "We can hold them off in here-"
At that moment, the first of eight Reductor curses ripped the front off of most of their shop and caved in large parts of the ceiling. No one was hurt, but they all coughed a bit before returning accurate counter-spells.
At first, Dudley was terrified. He kept trying to shrink as a target and he moved behind the limited cover towards the back of the shop. While doing this he discovered the large bag of sweets he'd brought with him.
"Harry, they destroyed my sweets bag."
"Not now, Dudley!"
"But I spent over twenty pounds on different-"
"NOT NOW, Dudley, can't you see-" Harry was cut off, ducking an incoming Body-Bind Spell.
"But who's going to pay-"
"NOT NOW, DUDLEY!" all three shouted over their shoulders.
"I'll pay, Dudley," said Bellatrix in a whining, yet seductive voice.
Before anyone could stop him, Dudley looked up - and dodged the spell heading his way with his boxer's reflexes.
"Harry, she tried to kill me." The disbelief was evident in his voice.
"She just tried to stun you. For some reason they haven't tried to kill anyone yet."
"But she tried to kill me! And she destroyed all my sweets." Dudley was not listening, and the other three couldn't help chuckling.
At that moment, all four Death Eaters charged the shop, blazing away with their wands. Time was getting tight, as more of the shop ceiling came down on the four youngsters.
Harry and the twins stopped the first three attacking, but Bellatrix disarmed all three young defenders. "Expelliarmus!"
Bellatrix advanced cautiously, wand at the ready. "Harry, take hold of this Portkey, or I'll kill your three friends."
"Don't do it, Harry!" the twins yelled raggedly in unison.
George was under a good bit of debris, and was the most visible to their assailant. Bella aimed her wand at him. "Avada Ke- Ogk! Ack!"
The curse had stopped in mid-cast. Harry looked and saw Bella's tongue sticking out of her mouth over nine inches, and still visibly growing. He looked back and noticed his cousin standing there with his slingshot in his hand, another Ton-Tongue Toffee in the pouch, ready to interfere with any other spell pronunciation.
As Harry and the twins ran for their wands, several Aurors Apparated into the battle zone.
After they had firmly secured all four Death Eaters, Tonks made her way to Harry's side. "Wotcher, Harry. What happened here?"
"Tonks, you are NOT going to believe it," he said shaking his head.
In the background Harry heard, "But, George, who's going to pay for all my smashed sweets?"
"I'm not George, I'm Fred."
For "Great Scott, Potter, This is War" Fans - Chapter Nine of "Great Scott" has been posted at PhoenixSong.net. It has been rewritten and updated from what has been posted here on SQ. You may want to go back to the last section of chapter seven there, and read about how Harry Potter became a Spell Monger - a much maligned and inappropriately feared forger of new magical spells and charms, hexes, curses, and jinxes for sale.
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Disclaimer--- What belongs to J K Rowling is J K Rowling's. Everything left is mine,
I guess, but remember the old adage: "There is nothing new under the sun."
However, that which is mine is copyright 2006 Aaran St Vines.