Moody was staring at me.
That in itself wasn't a surprise; I was a (albeit kidnapped) visitor from another world who was clearly very dangerous and very insane. I had already proven that if I disliked someone and they got in my way, I would remove them. Painfully.
It wasn't even surprising that he'd been staring at me for three hours. What was strange was that he hadn't pulled his wand on me and attempted to shove veritaserum down my throat yet. Then again, he might have thought it not worth losing another limb or three.
Another surprising thing was that he wasn't actually staring at me, per se, but my younger, alternate, Fredded self.
Mini-Me had been fidgeting under Moody's gaze for quite a while, ever since he realized he was being watched by the old ex-Auror. I had been switching my gaze from the several real estate pamphlets in front of me to the scene before me. The twins were working on things for the shop, and occasionally pestering me with questions about the future alternate world I had come from.
Moody kept staring. When was Mini-Me going to speak up? Honestly. I had never been that quiet at that age.
I cleared my throat. All three of them, Moody, Fred, and Mini-Me, jumped, making me snigger.
Moody scowled at me. "Decide where you want yet, Weasley?"
I tapped one of the pamphlets against my chin as I feigned thoughtfulness. There was no way in Dumbles' fluffy beard I was picking a wizard home. No one would expect a wizard worth his wand to live in an actual Muggle home, no matter how I warded it. Moody didn't know that, of course. "Perhaps, Mad Eye, perhaps."
His scowl deepened.
"You know, if you don't trust me, you could just say so. You don't have to take it out on Junior."
Mini-Me stiffened. "I said to stop calling me that!"
Fred nudged his shoulder playfully. "It's you. He won't."
Moody's scowl deepened even more. He looked ready to explode. Just a few more seconds…
"How'd I die?" He practically spat it out.
I slowly set the pamphlets back down. I had been waiting for him to ask. His paranoia practically demanded it. "You think you died?"
He snorted. "'Course I did. I'm old. I can't handle another war, and yeh said yerself almost everyone was killed."
I nodded. It was true. Of course, the night Moody died was also the night I lost my ear. I didn't like thinking about that any more than I did thinking about Fred's funeral, but Moody should know.
Maybe it would make him shorten those insane broom rides of his.
"It was almost Harry's seventeenth birthday," I said carefully, eyeing the twins who were suddenly paying very close attention. "We were taking him to the Burrow so he wouldn't be at the Dursleys when Lily's blood wards fell. Fourteen of us were there; six of us took polyjuice, so there were seven Potters flying around. We were flying across England on broomsticks at night, being chased by Death Eaters."
"You were flying across England at night on broomsticks?" Moody asked skeptically. "Whose stupid idea was that?"
I titled my head as I tried to remember. "Snape, I think. But you're the one who made us do it."
His face was a perfect picture of shocked disbelief and complete horror. "I died because I listened to Snape? No wonder!"
"That's also the battle I lost my ear, since I'm sure the twins here are dying to know."
Mini-Me flinched. He kept doing that every time I mentioned something happening to me or Fred in the war. Speaking of, I hadn't told them Fred was dead yet.
Someone should probably tell them about the apprenticeships too.
I tossed the pamphlet onto the stack, leaned back, and crossed my feet on top of the table. "Fred? Junior?"
Mini-Me refused to look at me [defiant teenagers], but Fred [notminedon'tthinknotmine] glanced at me.
I uncrossed my feet, and crossed them again, unsure how to start. It was a strange feeling. I always knew what to do. That, or at least how to bluff my way out. I cleared my throat and started again. By this time I had all three of their attentions.
"I told you about the Last Battle?"
Both Mini-Me and Fred frowned.
"You said Harry crushed You-Know—"
I interrupted Fred. "Riddle."
He shot me a nasty look. "You said Harry crushed Riddle in a massive epic smack down for the sake of the planet."
That was true. I had told them that, and the Harry/Riddle showdown had been quite epic. Although it was fairly embarrassing that a simple disarming jinx took down the dark lord.
I titled the chair back and studied their faces. If the room had been any darker, I doubt I would have been able to tell the two apart. "Lots of people died in that battle, you know."
They both nodded. Moody frowned, apparently realizing what I was planning to do.
I opened my mouth to continue, then paused. "Did Dumbledore do the paperwork?"
Everyone blinked. They reminded me of fish.
"What?" Moody stared at me like I was some strange sort of new species.
"Paperwork," I prompted. "With the Ministry? To make the summoning legal?"
"Summonings are legal?" the twins asked in surprised unison.
I shrugged. "Only if the paperwork's filled out with the Department of Mysteries."
"Errr…" Moody stared at me like I'd lost my mind, which I supposed I had. "No, lad. I don't think he did."
I frowned. "I'm not legal?"
"Damn. Now I'm going to have to make an extra trip." I'd needed to go to the Ministry anyway, come to think of it.
"Wait!" Mini-Me jumped up. "Before you go."
I waved my hand at the pamphlets, which vanished and rematerialized in my pockets. "Yeah?"
"You were saying something about the Last Battle?"
Oh. Right. On second thought, it might be better if I wasn't here to suffer the backlash of that. "Yeah. 2nd May, 1998. That's the night Fred was killed."
It was shocking just how low the security was around the Ministry. I could have killed every one of them in minutes and still had time for tea.
I jinxed the guard at the entrance so he kept getting a wedgie. I walked past as he was distracted with his hand shoved into his robes as he tried to fix his underwear. All the other passerby were staring at him, so I had no reason to do anything to them.
That didn't mean I didn't. That scrawny five year old will be trying to unfreeze his tongue from his nose for a while. His mother should have warned him about making faces at strangers.
I skipped the lift and ran down the dusty, web-covered stairs that no one used now/here and everyone used in my time/world. Did these people have no idea how easy it was to get trapped on a lift? They might not have had the second war yet, but they had lived [or not] through the first one.
Merlin. No wonder so many of us were killed.
Fortunately, the Department of Mysteries was much as I remembered: a large, circular room made out of obsidian with sealed, handle-less doors. No one stopped me as I strode into the center of the room. No one was there at all, in fact.
I stopped in the center of the room and planted my feet shoulder-width apart. I held out Fred's wand in my right hand. If I remembered correctly, there was a fairly easy way to find the offices…
A silent diffindo made a shallow slice across my left palm. I closed my fingers in a fist, and dark red blood dripped onto the floor, squeezing and leaking out from between my fingers. The resulting sting from the cut felt reassuring. It was good to know I could still feel something on occasion.
My blood dripped onto the floor. Only three drops were needed, but a few more wouldn't hurt.
"Show me," I whispered. The doors rotated slowly with a quiet, creaking groan until they stopped. Rather suddenly, too, I thought. I strolled over to the one directly in front of me and strode inside, not bothering to nock. My hand was still dripping blood.
Neville's uncle, Algernon Croaker, the Head of the Unspeakables, jumped to his feet and pulled his wand out seconds after I put Fred's away. "Wha-? Who the hell are you?!"
I waved my bleeding hand nonchalantly, spattering red droplets everywhere. "Someone summoned me from an alternate universe, incorrectly, I might add, and forgot to fill out the paperwork. I came here to do it for them."
He didn't relax. "Oh?"
Usually, protocol dictates that anyone who wants to do something that needs paperwork from the Department of Mysteries needs a full interview complete with veritaserum. I didn't want that, so I reached into my pocket and pulled out my bigger-on-the-inside-thanks-to-Hermione wallet. "The packets are six hundred galleons each, right?"
Of course they weren't. They were about three. Croaker didn't know I knew that, though, and I figured the idiot who would drop a child out a window would jump at the chance for six hundred galleons.
I was right.
Besides, I was rich. I could spare a few thousand galleons and not notice they were missing.
"Six hundred fifty," he said, his gray eyes practically glowing with greed as he bluffed. "Alternate reality, you said?"
"Yeah. And I need a 1507, too."
His eyes widened. "A 1507?"
I heaved a sigh. Did no one listen here? "Yes, a 1507. 'Permission for World-Saving Murder' Sheet. That's the same cost, right?"
If I really was going to kill Riddle, I might as well make that legal, too. If I made a big deal out of everything being legal, then the Order wouldn't question me when strange things started happening.
"Right." I poured the money out onto his desk. The gleam and size of his eyes grew with every clink and coin. "That enough?"
"Anything else, sir?"
"Yeah. They forgot to summon my familiar. I want the tools for that. They're so hard to find nowadays, you know?" As if. I only needed three things, and I had all of them. Well, maybe not the compass…
"There's always the Black Market," he said, nodding his head as he started ruffling through his desk. I wasn't sure if he meant the tools or familiars. "But I have everything here. Tell you what, as a favor for you doing everything legally, I'll give 'em to you free."
Seemed he was worried I might realize he was cheating me.
"I'd appreciate that."
"And something for your hand?"
I looked down to where my blood was still dripping onto the obsidian floor. "No, I'm good."
The Unspeakable didn't look so certain. He was probably worried about it staining. "You sure?"
I opened and closed my hand, watching as more blood flowed from the wound. I willed it to close. It did so, much to the shock of poor Croaker.
"I'll just…get you that paperwork, then. Sir."
The Unspeakables' waiting room wasn't very welcoming. There were no seats, and it was freezing cold. It looked very much like a miniature version of the entrance room with only two doors.
I felt I had valid reason to redecorate.
Croaker came to a screeching halt when he reentered the room and saw the immensely fluffy, skull shaped armchairs that may or may not have actually been enlarged-beanbags-that-would-give-you-blue-freckles-if-you-sat-in-them in disguise. There was an indented shelf along the ceiling which held rows of alternately flaming green and orange skulls. The walls and floor were still obsidian, as that was a pain in the neck to completely transfigure, but the walls were completely smooth and the floor appeared to be tiled.
"You…" he appeared to be at a loss for words.
"Me?" I feigned innocence. "This wasn't me. It was that blonde Unspeakable who came through just a minute ago. Said you'd hired him for this."
Croaker spluttered again. "No Unspeakable would ever do this!" He paused for a moment, thinking. "There are no blonde Unspeakables!"
Birds, meet stone. "I think he said his name was Malloy. Mallory? Mafey. No, wait…"
"Malfoy?!" Croaker gnashed his teeth. "I see." He shoved a brown bag at me. "Your things."
I opened it and took a peek inside. Perfect.
I dissaparated, which isn't supposed to be possible inside the Ministry. Especially inside the Department of Mysteries.
I only wished I could have seen the look on Croaker's face.
I found a very nice three-story house in the country side. It had a small attic and a damp basement, and every single room smelled like dust. The house itself came with forty acres of land.
The elderly Muggle couple I liberated it from would just have to spend the rest of their days living it up in the Bahamas. I had bought them a very nice condo; they should appreciate it, and if they were a bit disoriented for a few days from the memory charms, well...
I stashed the things from Croaker inside, and got to work on the wards. I didn't have time to do anything fancy, but I needed some security. Between my inventiveness and Bill's teaching, my wards were unique, humiliating, and dangerous.
First was the Keep-Away Ward, which worked on both Muggles and wizards. I made three and intertwined them together, then added a few defenses behind each of them incase one or more fell. A few backup defenses were put in behind the defenses. No use being stingy.
I'd add some more later.
The second set of wards I put up tied to the house itself. Everyone [me] and everything in it [not much at the moment] was keyed to those wards. That didn't mean my things could walk up and leave as they pleased. It meant everything in the house and property was accounted for, and the wards would activate if something wasn't. At first glance it looked like a sort of anti-theft ward, but it also let the wards know if something was there that wasn't supposed to be.
Only I could add or remove items [or people].
The third thing I did was to tie that second ward directly to me. Now I'd know not only exactly what everything in the house/property was and where it was, I'd also know everyone who was there, where they were, and whether or not they had been invited.
Bill had warned me that having that much information inside your head at once would make someone mad, but it hadn't bothered me when I did it to the flat and shop. I had learned to push it in the back of my head, so the only time I really noticed was when something was very wrong.
I could also forcibly make unwanted guests portkey either back out through the wards or anywhere inside the wards. Since the basement was already wet, I enlarged it, filled it with icy cold saltwater, and transfigured some nearby sticks and stones into jellyfish and crabs.
I'd get some real ones later.
…Which reminded me about a nice little pond a mile or so up the slope. If I filled it with saltwater and enlarged it, it would make a good shark home.
I'd get to that later. I had some decorating to do.
Hours later, I put my wands away and wiped the sweat off my forehead. The house looked far more like something I would live in. The walls had been painted in a rainbow of colors sure to hurt everyone's eyes, and most of the doorways and windows now had very odd shapes. The color collage had been accomplished by randomly pointing and shooting off a color-changing spell. The flooring, to my grief, was fairly normal, because I would not risk slipping while dueling or experimenting. For my future workroom I had transfigured the previously pink carpet into gray stone tiles, which was less likely to soak up spilled potions.
I glanced out the window. The sun was peeking over a nearby hill.
Oh dear. That meant two nights without sleep, now. I'd been busy the first night, back in my world, because I had been working on my potion, and last night had been whittled away with amateurish home decorating.
I yawned into the crook of my arm. I couldn't go to sleep now. I had more work to do. Speaking of which…
I sat down in a quickly conjured chair in the kitchen and dumped the contents of Croaker's bag on a quickly conjured table. I pushed the familiar-summoning tools, few there were, across the table, and grabbed the papers.
What had Dumbledore been thinking, summoning me illegally? If I remembered correctly, he was already out of the game politically (which was good), and the only position he had left, publicly, was Hogwarts (which was not good). This could get him sent to Azkaban…not that that would bother him.
I summoned a quill from…well, one of my pockets, and started initialing and signing where needed. I went through about thirty pages before I finally reached the end.
Summonings were a hard business.
The 1507 was easy. All I had to do was say who I wanted to kill (Tom Marvelo Riddle, AKA Voldemort), why (he was a madman who wanted the world on a platter, and he'd killed some of my family on top of it), and why the Ministry should let me (he'd caused them problems before, and even if he was truly dead (which he wasn't) it couldn't hurt to let me try (yeah right)).
I glanced over at the familiar-summoning tools. They were similar to what I'd suppose Dumbledore had used, but the ritual wasn't near as difficult, since a familiar could find their bonded anywhere. Mine in particular could probably get here by himself, but last I had heard he'd been visiting Fleur's relatives, and he did have a thing for transformed Veelas…
With the summoning, my familiar would get here whether he liked it or not. I figured he'd be angry with me for a bit, but once he heard the available options, he'd be crowing like a chicken.
Croaker pulled his wand on me the second I walked into his office.
"What're you doing here again?!"
I slapped the papers on his desk. "Dropping these off. Don't have an owl at the moment. You?"
He stowed his wand stiffly, and glared at me. "How'd you do that yesterday?"
"Do what?" What I had done yesterday? Many things. To which one he was referring to, I wasn't sure.
"You Dissapparated straight out of here!"
Oh. That. Time to lie. "Oh, that. Yeah, I lent a portkey from my summoner. Sorry 'bout that."
The Unspeakable visibly relaxed. "Oh. Of course. Sorry about that. It's just that security's so tight…"
"Of course it is." I pretended to agree with him. "Anything else?"
His eyes shifted slyly. "I realized we didn't introduce ourselves. I'm Algernon Croaker."
Ah. He wanted to know who I was. Well, it wouldn't hurt to have word out that there were two George Weasleys running around. In fact, it would certainly piss off Dumbles, and that wouldn't hurt at all.
He made a small jerk of surprise, but offered his hand, which I shook somewhat suspiciously.
"Good day then!"
I made several shops around both Diagon Alley and Muggle London. I needed more things for my house, after all. Clothes were probably necessary as well.
I avoided Gringotts like the plague. I didn't trust the goblins. All my gold was kept in the safest place I could find: my pockets. I had a few spare stores stashed in warded areas in the flat, which I assumed Angelina would use for the kids now that I was gone, but they only held a couple thousand galleons each.
I hadn't been kidding when I told the Order I was rich. I was more loaded then Malfoy. Of course, it wasn't all from the shop. With the Ministry being so small, lots of people had started subtly enchanting items and selling them to Muggles. Dad's department had actually gotten things under control pretty quick.
I still can't believe Dad actually made it legal. The few guidelines he made were easy enough to follow. I think he fined maybe two people a year for breaking them. Even Malfoy had gotten in on the gig, once he realized exactly how decimated our numbers were.
I somehow finished all the shopping and ordering by six. I suppose that's what happens when one starts the day at dawn.
Since I didn't feel like cooking or going back to Grimmauld Place, I stopped by the Cauldron for a quick bite to eat.
Tom brought me a sandwich and a glass of firewhiskey. Merlin knew I needed the alcohol.
"You seem familiar, mate," he said, eyeing me up. "But I don' remember yer face 'round here afore."
I downed the glass in a large gulp, enjoying the long-familiar burn in my throat. I grinned at him loosely. "No? Well, that's to be expected. Some idiot summoned here from another world. I'm just getting settled in."
All noise stopped as all eyes turned towards me and the old bartender.
Tom stared at me. "Another world? Haven't ever served no one from another world afore."
"I'm not surprised. It doesn't happen often."
"Does the Ministry know?"
His face blanched in shock, and several people in the room gasped.
I grinned at him again. "Just finished the paperwork with the Department of Mysteries this morning."
Tom's face was a strange mix of white, pink, and dirt. "The Department o' Mysteries? So that's what they do down there, summon people like you?"
I shook my head and picked up my sandwich. It looked like some kind of turkey. "Not usually. They just provide the paperwork. The Ministry will let you do just about anything, so long as you let them know and pay them enough. In this case, my summoner seemed to forget that and did it illegally. I don't want to get carted off as an illegal alien, so I did it myself."
"Right." He watched me eat for a few moments. "If this is a'nuther world, do you exist here too?"
I swallowed a bite. It was a good sandwich, even better than the ones in my world. Maybe I was just hungry; it had been almost two days since I'd last eaten. "George Weasley."
Several things happened at once, all of which I took great delight in. Tom teetered backward, a few witches and the odd wizard or two in the back shrieked and fainted, and everyone else just kept on staring at me.
Was that a beetle I saw on Tom's apron?
"G-George W-W-Weasley?" the poor man stuttered.
"That's me." I titled my empty glass towards him. He took the hint and filled it up.
"Who summoned yeh 'ere, then?"
I could almost see the wheels turning in his head as he pondered the bragging benefits of having a grown-up Weasley twin from another world sitting at his bar drinking a large amount of firewhiskey and eating all his turkey sandwiches.
I took another swig from my glass. The Ministry hadn't specified whether or not I was supposed to tell others details of my summoning, so I decided to go for it.
At least Skeeter would appreciate it.
"Dumbledore," I answered.
"Dumbledore?" an old wizened wizard sitting at the middle table asked. "Why?"
"Wants a proper hero to off Riddle," I answered. "Thinks Harry's too young, and for once, he's right."
Everyone leaned forward.
"Who's Riddle?" Tom asked excitedly, leaning over the counter.
"Tom Marvelo Riddle. Hypocritical half-blooded heir of Slytherin who goes around calling himself He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named." I finished my sandwich, and ignored the gasps. "Don't see why. What if someone doesn't know who he is?"
Tom took a step back, looking decidedly worried. Probably about my sanity; everyone always wondered about my sanity. "Er…"
I faked a glance at my watches. "Good talk, but I really must be going. If anyone's interested in details, I've been looking for a Rita Skeeter. If she's anything like the one I'm used to, the interview should be pretty interesting. I'll see you later, Tom."
I plopped down a handful of Galleons [rather too many for the meal, but I was a fan of over-tipping] and Apparated home. Skeeter should be trying to owl soon, if that really was her and not just some random beetle flying around the Alley.
The moment I appeared, my new wards started going berserk. There was some sort of advanced tracking charm on me.
I contemplated just canceling it, but I couldn't recall having been around anyone today who knew that sort of charm. I closed my eyes and reached a little deeper into my connection with the wards; dangerous and tricky, since they were so new and unfamiliar.
It paid off. I was rewarded with hearing a loud splash and a high-pitched scream from below as the intruder was yanked into the basement. My transfigured rock collection would keep him busy for a while. The wards had sent his wand to my would-be workroom.
That was good. I didn't want my prisoner escaping. I might be forced to do something rash.
"Ahhh…Croaker, my friend!" I cried gleefully as I peered into the blob-filled water. It was only six feet deep, since the basement was only about nine feet deep and I needed some room for me to crouch on the stairs, but Croaker wasn't past five seven.
The foolish, unfortunate man was covered in bluish and pink blobs of jelly. A large crab was clamped onto his nose. He was barely keeping himself on his tiptoes.
"Weasley!" he croaked. "Get me out of here!"
I wagged a finger at him. "Not so fast, Algie. You're the one who placed a tracking charm on me."
His voice cracked. "I just needed to know where yeh were going! I swear! Ministry business!"
"Or personal curiosity?" I wondered idly. "Either way, someone needs to be punished. How about I drop you out a window? Or off a dock? You sure are fond of dropping people off things."
He spluttered as water and jellies sloshed into his mouth. "How'd you know 'bout that?"
"I happen to be a good friend of your alternate nephew."
I was in a bit of a tight spot tight here. There was no way on this Earth or the other I was going to just let him go. Croaker had tried tracking me, and I couldn't allow that. In all honesty, I should have checked myself for charms right after leaving the Ministry. I'd checked the sales clerks at all the stores, and the food at the Leaky, but I'd forgotten myself. How could I have been so risky?
The problem was, I had nowhere to put him at the moment. I supposed I could just leave him in the Jelly Basement for a bit while I fixed up another room. Yeah, that sounded good.
Croaker was still babbling about how it was part of his job to track other-worldly visitors and whatnot, but he stopped immediately when he found Fred's wand pointed in his direction.
"You're going to stay here for bit, my friend, while I go arrange less comfortable quarters for an unwelcome guest such as yourself," I told him, mildly enjoying the look of distress which crept over his unshaved face. "Don't worry, it won't be that long."
And it wasn't.
It took me maybe an hour to make a second basement below the Jelly Basement. This one could only be accessed through my workroom, unless someone happened to land in the jellyfish. I spent a lot of time equipping it, maybe about forty minutes, although it was nowhere near what I'd have liked it to be.
I really missed the flat above the shop. Freddie and I had had spent months equipping the family interrogation room. It had been a real work of art, that. We hadn't needed to worry about shoplifters ever since.
I put five stone cells with iron bars along one wall, various interrogation equipment along the other, and a large oak table in the middle of the room. The lighting was superb, as I needed to be able to see clearly when I was working on people. It was not good to accidentally kill a guest with vital information because I was too foolish to put in proper lighting.
I was arranging my knives when I remembered the gatecrasher. I whispered a few words, and the wards materialized him onto the table. Zip ties fastened around him with no words necessary.
Croaker stopped screaming at once and immediately started wriggling. Or maybe that was just his hypothermia. "What are these things?" he shrilled. "What are you doing? You can't do this to me! I'm an Unspeakable! A Ministry official!"
I picked up a bottle of veritaserum I had placed on a shelf and examined it. I had a few more in my pockets somewhere, but this one was only about three years old and I didn't need it on me. "They're zip ties. Muggle things. I've found they work very well. Near damn impossible to get out of."
"What are you doing?!" He didn't stop struggling, but the ties kept him secure.
"Wondering whether I should waste a perfectly good truth potion on you or dirty my knives," I lied.
The Unspeakable froze. "You wouldn't. That's illegal! I…I thought you said you were a friend of my nephew's?"
"The one you dropped out of a window?"
He didn't respond.
I walked over, the potion in one hand and a knife in the other. "Why don't you decide?"
Croaker had put the tracking charm on me because he wanted to know where I was going. He hadn't written up a report, and he hadn't told anyone. Since he happened to be nothing more than an unusually large rock at the moment, I highly doubted he'd ever tell anyone.
Oh, and he'd sent someone after Malfoy to demand details of the 'vandalism'.
I was whistling a whimsical tune as I apparated to Grimmauld Place. It was around twelve by now, and I assumed everyone would be asleep.
The moment I popped in I was assaulted by red heads, fluffy beards, and peg legs. Odd, since everyone but Mad Eye and Dumbledore would normally have been sleeping. The kids weren't there, but almost every Order member was.
"George! Where have you been?"
"Why did you tell the twins Fred died?!"
"What did yeh mean 'bout things bein' legal?"
"My boy, I would greatly appreciate it if you didn't run off again…"
I dissaparated and reappeared in the twins' room, making both of them jump with little squeaks.
"When did you get here?" Fred demanded.
They were sitting, curled up under the blankets, on the same bed. George was clutching Fred like a lifeline, and both twins had heavy bags under their defiant eyes. The dim light from a lumos cast deep shadows on their faces.
I hopped backwards onto the empty bed and crossed my legs. "Sorry 'bout earlier."
Their ears turned red.
"Sorry?" Mini-Me's tone was dangerously low. "Sorry?! You told us Fred died, and then left!"
I shrugged, not really feeling guilty. "Would you have rather I'd stayed?"
"I'd rather have gotten a straight answer!"
"You never asked a direct question. You sure you want details?" I fixed my eyes on both their gazes. "I wasn't even there. I heard it second hand from Ron and Harry. Do you really want me to tell you anything else?"
Their eyes lowered and they shifted uncomfortably.
My voice dropped to almost a whisper. "It wasn't you, Fred. He was my twin. He had the same name, the same face, probably the same memories. But he wasn't you, and you won't become him."
"Why not?" It was George this time.
I turned to look out the window. The sky was clear, but it was raining. Whether that was because of me again or just a random star shower, I truly didn't know. It could have been the twins. Maybe it had been raining at Grimmauld for two days.
"We were four years older than you two are now when Fred was killed. A lot can change in four years."
They looked back up.
"That's why you're staying, aren't you?" Mini-Me asked. "Not to stop You-Know—Riddle, but to make sure we both make it this time."
I shrugged. "Don't let Dumbledore know. I have a feeling he wouldn't approve." Not to mention I'd rather let Fred die all over again than trust the old bastard.
The twins grinned at me, and although I doubted anyone else would be able to tell they'd been crying, I knew myself and Fred like—well, like myself and my twin.
"Tell you what. Dumbles forgot to bring my familiar, so when I stopped by the Ministry today I got the proper tools. What do you think?"
It didn't take long to quiet Mum down. A few tears and rushed explanations that were spoken too quickly to understand had her concentrating on stopping her own waterworks. The twins looked amazed that they'd been shown a way to halt Mum in her tracks without her even realizing it.
And no. I didn't feel guilty. Mum hadn't realized any of us were grown up until Harry offed Riddle and Fred died. I'd be damned if I was going to wait another four years, or however long it took.
"Right!" I said, standing up to examine my circle. A familiar-summoning circle was much easier to make and use than the kind Dumbledore had somehow found and used on me. Most people shied away from using one even for the rare times when their familiars wandered off because the circle had to be drawn in the caster's blood.
I wondered whose blood Dumbledore had used for me.
"As you can see," I explained to all five kids and the assembled order, whom I had woken up and demanded to play audience, "I've used a chalk base to make the circle, then I drew it in my blood. Any thoughts on why it has to be mine? Potter!"
Harry jumped. "Um…"
"Wrong! Try again!" I'd thought he would understand more about blood after the ritual with Riddle. Guess not.
Ron leaned over to his friend. "Blimey, he's as bad as Moody."
"Ronald! For that little comment, you can answer."
Ron turned pale as Harry and the twins snickered. "Er…'cause it's your circle?"
I frowned in disappointment. "No. Because it's my familiar."
Hermione was trying to reach the ceiling. I ignored the strange quirks of my alternate future-sister-in-law and turned back to the class.
"I've drawn up the basic calling runes around the edges—see them there? The repeating ones? There's only three, but they need to be very precise or the whole thing will blow up. I've also—"
"Mr. Weasley!" Hermione was still trying to reach the ceiling.
"Yeah? What do you want, Granger?"
She blushed. "No offense meant, George, but why couldn't you just get another owl here?"
I titled my head, confused. "What? My familiar's not an owl. I'll get an owl if I need post delivered, thanks. I tried bonding with owls a few times, but it never worked out."
Mum and Dumbledore were making very noticeable quieting movements behind the silencing wards I had placed around the Order.
"So a pet's not a familiar?" Harry sounded confused.
I stared at them all for a moment, than wacked myself on the forehead. "Of course! I forgot Hogwarts doesn't teach that! Very good question, Potter. Sorry 'bout that, Hermione, didn't know what you meant. No, a familiar is an animal, sometimes magical, sometimes not, who has literally bonded to your soul."
They all looked suitably impressed, even a little scared.
"Your soul?" Hermione asked, her voice high and squeaky.
I nodded. "They live only as long as you do, so if it's a magical animal, they're normally giving up quite bit. Of course, you also adapt quite a bit of their powers as well. Obviously it doesn't always end up well."
"How do you mean?" Harry asked. "If you got some of their powers, wouldn't that make you stronger?"
"Depends. I once heard of someone who bonded to a nundu. They supposedly lived in a bubble to keep the poisonous breath away before giving up and going to live in the jungle. I actually met a fellow once who happened to bond to a malaclaw. Talk about bad luck," I joked.
Hermione gasped. "A malaclaw? But they bring bad fortune! Did he—"
She gasped again.
I continued on. "Everyone he touched had bad luck like you wouldn't believe for at least a week."
Everyone, even people like Dumbledore and Bill, who were already aware of familiars, took a step away from me.
"Oh, come on," I scoffed. "I've been here two days and nothing has happened!"
"Is your familiar magical?" Ron asked, rubbing his eyes.
"You'll have to wait and find out, Ronniekins. Now, where was I? Oh yeah. When you meet your familiar, there's a sort of…tingling along your skin. It can be real faint if someone's suppressed it or the like, but it'll always be there. Mind you, you can choose not to complete the bond. I haven't heard of someone ever not doing it, though."
I turned back to the circle and gestured at some of the markings. "Anyone figure out what these are?"
Hermione's hand was up again.
"They point in the four cardinal directions."
"You figure out why?"
She looked uncertain. "…I—"
"It's to give him directions," I interrupted impatiently. "Now, mine's magical—"
Ron gave a small victory cry.
"—Shut up, Ron—so where I would normally put a sample of all four elements, I only need one." I reached into my pocket and pulled out a box of matches, making my dad beam and my mother huff.
I lit four, and placed them in front of each cardinal marking. "Anyone figure out what he is yet?"
A grin crept upon my face as I watched Dumbledore start to frown.
"No? Anyone? All right then." I stepped back and raised Fred's wand. I closed my eyes and concentrated only on the [somewhat feeble, thanks to Dumbledore's summoning] link to my friend. It was there, thankfully.
I grasped it, and yanked.
I forgot he had been away visiting Fleur's relatives, so Fawkes landed in what had to be a very embarrassing and compromising position on the floor. His feathery arse was in the air, his feathers themselves were covered in sand, and he appeared to be nuzzling thin air, if it was possible to actually nuzzle with a beak.
"Fleur's cousins liked you then?" I grinned at him.
Fawkes' eyes snapped open and his long neck spun to stare at me.
"Crrrk?" he chirped angrily, quickly righting himself and ruffling his feathers so he looked like a red pillow.
Everyone gasped at the phoenix.
"Is that really him?" Harry asked.
Hermione pursed her lips. "Isn't he Dumbledore's familiar?"
Dumbledore found himself the sudden center of attention, much to Fawkes' appreciation.
Then the bird realized who he was. The phoenix went for the kill, and I somehow managed to both grab the angry bird and drop the silencing wards without anyone noticing.
"Ow!" I grappled with Fawkes as he bit and pecked at me. "Stop that, you stupid bird! See if I let you go on vacation again!"
The attention was back to us now.
"Wha-aaat are you doing?" Fred drawled, his lips twitching.
"Ow! What does it look like I'm doing?" I bopped Fawkes on the head and tried to grab his beak. He bit my fingers and refused to let go.
"Uh…" Harry looked like he desperately wanted to ask a question. "Isn't Fawkes Dumbledore's phoenix?"
"No. He's Dumbledore's pet. OW!"
At 'pet', Fawkes spit flame at me. Fire may not injure me, but it still stung!
I sent the enraged bird a very brief summary of what happened. Talking to Fawkes through our link was sort of like a strange mix of telepathy, empathy, and a whole lot of misunderstandings.
He let go of my finger and chirped at me angrily, understanding temporarily tempering his ire.
"Sorry," I whispered, holding out my arm for him to perch on. "Right, everyone, sorry. Where were we?"
AN: It is SOOO much fun writing an insane person's POV! I don't mean to be insensitive or anything, but it's true. :)
George Weasley rocks no matter his mental state.