wordcount: 1,898
posted: 03.22.20

This is written for both the More Than a Name Challenge and the Weasley Wizard Wheezes prompt challenge, both on the Harry Potter Fanfiction Challenges forum. I hope I used this prompt correctly. If not, this one-shot will probably become a two-shot. Enjoy!

For the record, Fred Weasley had never meant to prank Albus Severus Potter. Really, he didn't, Weasley's honor. For some people that may not have meant much, and even among the cousins it was a promise only meant to be taken at face value, but what else could he say? That he had actually been trying to prank his sister? That he had stolen his father's prototype products when he was left alone for two minutes? That the possibility of Albus Potter getting into Roxanne's candy - that the carton of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Jelly Beans was even meant for Albus in the first place - had never crossed his mind? That he didn't know just how bad this could get?

It was all true, really, it was. None of that was going to help his case though.

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It was a small box full of tan-colored jelly beans that Fred had found in one of the back rooms of his family's joke shop. He had only considered leaving it where it was for half a second before slipping it into his pocket and continuing the search for his father. If it was left someplace where Fred of all people could find it easily, then it had to be safe and just awaiting a few tests. Really, it was practically ready for sale, it had a label and a tagline and everything! And was it ever not an option to dump the entire box into Roxanne's candy? Sure, Fred was the first person she would look at once she discovered the prank, but what was she going to do? Hex him?

It was a coincidence that Fred had happened by the Unholy Trinity's table in the library. Seriously. He had needed a few books for his Divination essay and it was not his fault that the Dreadful Trio had taken residence in that section this year. He also knew that food was explicitly not allowed in the library, so they never should have been eating candy back there in the first place (not to mention, he attempted that prank on Roxanne so long ago he didn't even remember having stolen the prototype from his dad). So when Fred heard the first rip of flatulence, he couldn't help but giggle because, well, because it was flatulence and he's a guy what else was he going to do?

Even when he felt the burning hot gaze of his cousin on the side of his head, Fred continued to snicker, choosing not to verbally acknowledge him. Then game the uncharacteristic, wet belch, and Fred completely lost it.

"What did you do, Frederick?" that was Scorpius Malfoy, his voice dark and menacing as if he would actually attack someone. Everyone knew that as far as guard dogs went, Scorpius Malfoy was more of an adorable lap crup than a Cerberus. Fred laughed harder.

"Oh, my god, did it really take a month for that to work?" Fred asked through his laughter. Another flatus and he was crying, crouched on the floor trying hard not to outright fall over. If Albus decided he was going to curse him, Fred wanted to have at least a chance to run away.

"You've been planning this for a month?" said Scorpius-I'm-Not-Really-Threatening-Malfoy. Fred just kept laughing as another gusty sound graced his ears, followed almost immediately by a loud, wet belch.

And then his ear lit up in bright red pain and Fred shouted. He fell back onto the floor rubbing his ear and aimed a look at his sister. Then he blinked. Chuckled a bit when he noticed she was alone. Roxanne wasn't very intimidating either, though she made an honest attempt at it. She almost reminded Fred of their mother, from the glare and the cock of her hip, even the threatening grip on her wand. The only difference was that Fred actually took his mother seriously.

"What, they couldn't handle public embarrassment?" Fred grinned up at her.

"No, they're gone."

"So like I said."

"No, Gideon, I mean they belched and then disappeared." Fred sobered quickly. Roxanne getting angry and using his middle name was nothing new, but the disappearing was a little worrying.

"They did what now?"

"So I'll repeat, what did you do?" Fred almost flinched. Maybe his sister reminded him more of their mother than he liked to admit.

"I may or may not have borrowed something from a non-customer-facing room at the shop." The sparks that lit up the length of Roxanne's wand had Fred admitting, at least to himself, just how afraid of his sister he really was.

Scorpius reappeared first. Apparently, he had been displaced to the Gryffindor girls' dormitory and subsequently attacked by the seventh-years. Through a series of charades which Fred couldn't interpret but Roxanne seemed to understand instinctively, Scorpius would have saved himself the trip to the hospital wing had he not been restricted to speaking in a series of barks which may have been either Bird, Crupp, or an obscure tongue of some ancient, magical African race, Headmaster Flitwick wasn't quite certain. Roxanne seemed quite relieved to have her friend back, right up until Scorpius belched and disappeared yet again. Flitwick blinked at the spot his student had been standing then leveled a stern stare up at Fred.

"I didn't know!"

"This is why we don't take prototypes without permission!" Roxanne looked like the only thing preventing her from hexing Fred was the headmaster and school nurse standing in the room with them. As it was, her fingers flexed and twitched as if she were considering what she could get away with.

By that evening, neither Scorpius nor Albus had resurfaced. As much as Fred enjoyed chaos, he wasn't enjoying this. Roxanne had called in the rest of the cousins, including Simon, Meher, and Aditi to help locate the others, but by dinner time they had all concluded that neither was still in the castle. Fred now had a month's worth of detentions for "irresponsible use of magic" and Professor Flitwick was forced to Floo his parents. Which led to the bright scarlet envelope laying conspicuously beside his diner plate. As it started smoking in the corners, Fred internally debated what that punishment was going to be.

"Go ahead," Louis goaded. Fred glanced up at Louis. Even he was upset with Fred, more so because he had been left out of the prank than anything, but also because, in Louis's words, you know better, cousin. We always read the warning labels, even if we ignore them. Louis wasn't quite giving him the cold shoulder, but Louis was so rarely upset with him that Fred didn't know what to do with the indifference.

"No, no," said James. "Let him ignore it. I want them to hear Aunt Angie's screech all the way down in the dungeons." there was a vindictive tint to his tone and Fred figured he deserved it. He had, after all, lost his brother. Had it been James who pulled a prank that had Roxanne disappear without a trace, Fred didn't think he would have been able to sit and calmly eat dinner, let alone stop himself from turning James into a puddle with every curse he knew. "I want to watch it erupt into flames and burn him."

Fred considered letting James get what he wanted but in the end, he decided to go ahead and get it over with. Most of the Gryffindor table was already focused on him, all thanks to the numbers stares from his cousins. The Slytherin table was awfully quiet behind him as well, and the Hufflepuffs were beginning to take notice too. With a sigh, Fred put down his fork and tore open the side. The envelope quickly folded itself into the shape of a mouth and very calmly spoke. Fred's heart dropped into his stomach.

"I expected better."

Fred had never heard his father so disappointed in him.

Albus and Scorpius didn't show up the day after either.

Scorpius was sat at the Ravenclaw table on the second morning, but there was still no sign of Albus Potter. Scorpius was still restricted to that strange, barking language, but the prank product had run its course as far as the gas went, so he was done disappearing for the time being. According to Roxanne, their dad had been able to track him down and reassured her that he would be back to speaking English within the next eighteen hours.

Why his dad was able to track down Scorpius Malfoy and not Albus was not a question Fred felt that he had a right to ask. As it was, the cousins had spent the past two days shooting him with as many curses, hexes, and jinxes as they could reasonably get away with. And even a few that they got away with unreasonably (seriously, whoever claimed Professor Fawley didn't show favoritism lied, and Fred could swear Professor Longbottom was the one to cast that Rooting Curse on him this morning).

"I get it, I screwed up!" said Fred. He sat on a bench in an out-of-the-way corridor on the fifth floor, admiring the sky while he wallowed in self-pity. "They act like I don't know this. I feel bad too!" Fred could feel the lump in his throat, almost foreign, it had been so long since he had cried. He felt lonely. In a family like the Weasleys, that was hard to do. All because he had lost James? "James is a smart kid... wouldn't be surprised if he's been hiding for the last two days." It still hurt.

Fred sat there, leaning against the window for several long moments, fighting the urge to cry. The cool glass helped. The urge wasn't quite so strong anymore.

Suddenly there was a hand on his face; pressure on either side of his jaw was applied and his mouth opened before he realized what happened, several small somethings shoved inside. Fred opened his eyes, the tears he fought blurring his vision for a moment. He blinked them away to find his cousin Albus. The look on his face screamed murder, even if Fred was smart enough to know Albus would never actually murder his family. He hoped.

Albus opened his mouth to speak, but all that came out was a soft and menacing hissing. The anger in his eyes burned hotter and the wand at Fred's throat - when did that get there? - pressed worryingly into his jugular. Reflexively, Fred swallowed; the small things Albus has shoved into his mouth were swallowed as well. Albus smiled. The wand was removed from Fred's throat, the hand from his mouth. A small box was dropped into Fred's lap and he watched his cousin retreat down the corridor, not looking back even once. Fred blinked a few times, worry growing in the pit of his stomach.

Oh, wait, no, that wasn't exactly worry in his stomach.

After a moment, Fred belched, long, loud and wet and disappeared.