Twinkle and Smile

Gina frowned as she looked at the black diary that had somehow found its way into her bag. She could have sworn she left that upstairs… The girl shrugged and tossed the book onto the side counter in the entry room on her way to the door. She certainly didn't need a diary while she was out in Diagon Alley.

The diary landed on the counter on its spine until she closed the door; but after a moment of laying open it flipped shut with a malicious snap that startled the House Elf Gonny into screaming and popping to the other end of the Manor. When the elf returned to the entry room, he found that someone else had already moved the bad-dark-book.


Merlin save me from the raucous masses, Lucius Malfoy thought to himself without letting any emotion slip onto his face. A crowd around the wand-choosing of the scholarship children was to be expected, but this was completely beyond the pale! He was hoping to avoid this and go ahead to Flourish and Blotts, it was still possible to get Draco's books before Lockhart's ridiculous book signing filled the place with screaming witches with no sense of propriety, but his son insisted they attend to show support for his 'friend,' Weasley.

"They are over there, Father." Draco pulled his attention away and to where, Merlin, were there seven of them? What curse did Weasley incur to suffer five children?

"I would prefer not being dragged into the throng, Draco," Lucius said diplomatically, "but feel free to go and say 'hello.'"

While Draco went to speak with the redheads, Lucius made his way to where he saw Goyle standing with his wife and son, as well as a young girl with white-blonde hair that he didn't recognize, "Hello Goyle," he dipped his head to the woman, "Madam. Is this your daughter? Are you excited to get your wand?"

"Oh, I am sure Angelina is most excited." The blonde replied, turning her extremely wide eyes to Lucius, "But I am not her. My name is Luna Lovegood. It is nice to meet you, Lord Malfoy."

"L-Lovegood?" Lucius paled, having no idea why someone like that was hanging around, "My apologies."

His momentary focus on the girl meant that Lucius didn't see the look that passed over Goyle's face. Lord Malfoy may have never met Gina before, but to think that Luna was related to him, when both he and his wife had dark hair, was just negligent.

"She's Gina's friend." Goyle explained when Lucius looked at him, "Her father had an errand, and we agreed to watch her so she could be here for the wand choosing. Been helping Gina with her muggle homework, 'till it was time for the children to go up."

"Angelina is rather smart, Lord Goyle." Luna offered, oblivious to the appreciative smile that Lord Goyle and his wife gave her, "She only needed help on the most difficult problems that Mrs. Entwhistle assigned us. My friend Ginevra asked me about them yesterday as well, and Angelina was much farther along than her."


Petunia sighed in relief when the wave of redheads approached them, she was starting to worry that something had happened. Ronald warned her that his family was late for everything, but this was serious! She had to skip the pleasantries after saying a simple 'Good morning' and pushed Ginny over to where the other children were waiting.

"I'm sorry for the rush," Remus shook Arthur's hand and accepted a teary hug from Molly, "Harry and Petunia already spoke with Mister Olivander and the press. We are trying to keep to the schedule so that we can ensure everyone gets their all school supplies. The bookstore is likely to take some time."

"Mrs. Dursley, a pleasure as always;" Garrick Ollivander greeted her when she returned with the last of the No Wand Left Unclaimed scholarship children, "and look at all of these bright smiles! It took some doing, but I moved most of my regular stock out onto these tables for the process." All the children unconsciously turned to look at the boxes stacked up on the tables beside him, "Shall we get started, then? I daresay that these people are anxious to see something interesting. Ladies first, what do we say? But before that, just briefly, would you come up here Miss Polkiss? You have already been chosen by a wand, but I am sure your friends here would like to know about it like you will know about theirs.."

"Of course, sir." Tina accepted her wand from her mother, who kept it in her handbag, "Here it is."

"Yes, I remember every wand I have ever sold," Ollivander reverently took the wand and held it up so that the press could see it, "and this one was most curious to me initially. Eleven and three quarter inches, Elm wood with a singular unicorn hair as its core. Also decently flexible and with much spring to it. A perfect wand for dextrous casting, as well as spreading one's focus. Have you respected your wand with the trust it showed you in choosing you?"

Tina nodded, "Not at first. I had to get used to it, but now I like using it."

"Excellent," Garrick enthused while he handed back the wand, "the Unicorn who donated that hair placed absolute trust in me, and through me, you. I told you when you first received it, your wand deserves that you reciprocate that trust. I expect interesting things from you, Miss Polkiss. I have never had an elm wand choose to be the first wand to a muggleborn witch before."

"Yes sir." Tina answered while she backed up.

"Well, who is next?" Ollivander's attention was immediately onto the next two, "Misses Goyle and Weasley? Would you like to flip a Galleon? No? Alphabetically would be better, I suppose. Miss Goyle?"

"M-me?" She took an involuntary step back, "Um, G-Ginny can go."

"Well, if you insist." The wandmaker smiled warmly and turned to the red haired girl, "Miss Weasley, if you would?" He reached forward and pulled her by the hand up to the table so she couldn't deny him as well.

"Um, what should I do?" Ginny tried to calm her nerves while floating string and tapes took measurements of her arm, hand, and head.

"Just stand still for a minute," the tape-measure rolled itself up, "I am just about done."

"Try this." The old wandmaker offered her a wand from one of the boxes on his table, "Ten inches exactly, Poplar with unicorn hair; flexible. Well give it a wave, my girl!" He exclaimed when she held the wand unsure what to do. A stinging wave of heat and dryness flashed from the wand and he quickly snatched it back, "Absolutely not. Maybe a different wood, first? Ah! Nine and four fifths inches, Pine. Still unicorn hair, but I wonder if that isn't right. This one is more rigid than the last."

Ginny waved the wand for him, careful to keep it pointed away from the crowd, who had all taken a collective step back after her first attempt. With a flick of the wand's tip, a red flash of light flashed against the wall of Ollivander's shop, drawing gasps from some in the audience.

"On the right track," Ollivander seemed giddy, "but not quite. Perhaps something with more bite to it."

The third wand he presented was very dark, almost black, unlike the lighter woods of the previous wands, "Ten and one-half inches, Yew wood. It also has a core of dragon heartstring, call it a hunch. Sturdy, but inflexible."

Ginny didn't need to move the wand to know this was the right one. The moment she touched it a tingle surged up her arm and the tip released red and green sparks that cascaded into a series of tiny fireworks, "That feels really good."

"I should hope so, my girl." Ollivander's broad smile was infectious and all the children were mirroring his excited reaction, "I have not seen such a strong connection made that quickly in quite some time."

Ginny then got to give Mister Ollivander the seven Galleons to pay for her wand. The Foundation had dispersed money so the children could buy things for themselves, under adult supervision. While most people in the crowd didn't know why Ginny was fighting not to cry, she couldn't help it. She spent the majority of the year prior to being offered this scholarship dreading having to go to school with a Family wand. Her mother had already been through them all with her and confirmed that none would work very well for her, but a couple "would do until the Family could afford better."

"Miss Goyle?" Ollivander smiled warmly and bent down to look at her on her level, "It is your turn."

She looked even more uncomfortable than Ginny had while the wandmaker's string and tape took measurements and he asked her simple questions about her hobbies. Some of the magicals gathered to watch were chuckling at her discomfort, remembering their own time being examined by the oddly serious craftsman. The gap between his normal, affable personality and the way he was while matching someone to a wand was unsettling enough to leave a lasting impression.

"I believe I know just the thing for you, Miss Goyle." The wandmaker selected a box from a small pile set aside from the others, "Try this one. Ten and a quarter inches, swishy. Of proper English Oak, with hair from a unicorn's mane. Odd, that; they tend to prefer when we wandmakers take tail hairs when they offer."

Gina was wondering what the old man was doing when he seemed to give Ginny wands to try at random, but had to concede when he apparently found a match on the third try that he must know what he was doing. That didn't mean she was ready for the strangely welcoming and accepting feeling that ran up her arm as a gentle breeze blew through her hair when she picked up the very first one, "Wow."

"I suspected as much." Ollivander was grinning widely, "Several generations of Goyle, for a few centuries even, were chosen by wands from the same copse of Oak trees." Behind the other parents of the scholarship members, Lord Goyle stood up straighter and focused on the wandmaker, "That one is no different, taken from a tree growing in the same spot as the one whose wood forms your father's wand."

"What happened to the tree that gave papa's wand?" She asked while gingerly holding the length of wood between her fingers.

Gina hadn't taken her eyes off her wand for more than a moment since she picked it up, so she missed the strained look that crossed the wandmaker's face when he glanced over at Wesley Oakes, who spoke up, "It was probably burned in nineteen-eighty. You-Know-Who did it."

"Yes… well… That is true, but one must not look only at the past with these things." Ollivander tried to salvage the mood after Wesley Oakes' proclamation, "Your wand's very existence is proof that the scars of the war are healing, one might say."

"Thank you sir." Angelina dipped her head to suppress a shudder. She wasn't sure that her father would approve of what the man said. Sneaking a glance behind her, she found a giant grin, or what passed for one for her father, plastered on his face and Luna giving her a thumbs up. Gina let out a small breath she didn't know she was holding and paid Mister Olivander with the Galleons Mrs. Tonks had given her.


Albus popped another lemon candy into his mouth while Minerva paced back and forth in front of him. Every time she turned to walk the other way she slipped a Gaelic curse into her rant, and his disappointment in Remus and Sirius grew.

"-and seriously Albus," she demanded of him, "what were you thinking? Not telling anyone until it was almost literally dragged out of you? You are not a young man anymore! What if something were to have happened to you? Would you have taken that knowledge, and the world's only chance against that monster, to your grave out of pride?"

Albus winced at that. It was almost exactly the accusation Remus had leveled at him after divulging the prophecy at the end of last term.

"Albus, even if You-Know-Who did return right this very day just as powerful as he was before, and with all of his Death Eaters beside him, could you do anything to truly stop him?" She looked at him with an honest question in her eyes, "Could you actually lead us against him like you did with Grindelwald? No one knows who he is for sure, but You-Know-Who couldn't be more than half your age."

"I understand, Minerva." Dumbledore sighed, "I understand. I have been compiling some of my theories concerning Voldemort and will be sharing that with you and a few other people I can trust. Understand though; outside of the prophecy, there is just about nothing that I know for certain, and I have already shared that with Remus."

If Fawkes weren't out flying he would likely be squawking at Albus for that, but Minvera accepted his words and changed topic to yet another headache.

"I also noted that you have yet to convince Mister Lockhart to add a proper textbook to his supply list." Her stern gaze, one that had broken many a guilty troublemaker in her tenure as professor, leveled at him, "While I share your faith that the man is more than capable, I must also agree with Petunia that novels and autobiographies are not suitable texts for Defense."

Somehow, Albus knew that a kindly smile and an assurance that the man would be capable weren't going to cut it.


Colin Creevey was nice, but had an absolutely annoying habit of asking questions even when it was obvious no one wanted to answer them. Tina grumbled quietly as her parents led her away from the other scholarship students towards Gringotts while the boy was still pestering his father about why she was going separately. It wasn't that she was trying to keep things from her new friends, but she just didn't want to tell them she was going to see the person who insisted she go to a mind healer.

"Are you sure you want to see him today?" Her father asked while they walked, "You said L-layk-"

"Laeknr Firewound. With an 'eye' sound." She corrected.

"You said he wanted to see you again when you were well." He continued, "I just… you still see your healer regularly and-"

"Timothy!" Angela hushed him.

"It's okay mum," Tina assured her, "I'm doing a lot better. I… I'm fine, okay? I promise I'll talk to Harry and Dudley before we get to Hogwarts."

"As long as you are honest with us, we just want you to be safe."


"Timothy Polkiss," he answered the teller, "my family is here for a meeting with Laeknr Firewound. I have this." He added, handing over the letter detailing the time of their meeting.

At the next booth, a wizard scoffed and Timothy and Tina both glared at him. He just scoffed a second time and returned to his business, oblivious to the cold look the teller in front of him wore. When they looked back at Grimeclaw, the teller handed back the parchment and gave the briefest of nods to the family.

"Proceed through that door." He indicated a gilded door nearby, but not the one that led down to the vaults, "Two guards will escort you to the meeting chamber."

"Thank you for your time, Teller Grimeclaw." Timothy nodded back and led his family away.


At Flourish and Blotts, the Wolfstar Foundation scholars were doing their level best to grab the required school books while not getting separated from parents or knocked down by the throng of mostly witches crowded in front of a man doing a book signing. None of the students knew who he was, but if they did they wouldn't have been lining up for autographs. Petunia unconsciously frowned when she caught sight of the man. No wonder he was so popular, though; there was no way a man's face could be that perfect without magical help. Idly, she wondered where such a prolific monster hunter found the time to become so proficient at personal hygiene charms.

"He certainly looks the part." She muttered to Remus, "Do you think it's an illusion?"

"No, actually." He shook his head and chuckled, "Lockhart was a couple of years ahead of us, and was always that obsessed with his appearance. He must have gotten a lot better after we graduated though, I don't remember him being more than a below-average practical student."

"Wait, ahead?" Petunia pursed her lips, she could have sworn that his bio said he was younger than that.

"At least he agreed to offer that discount for students." Remus changed the subject as they came to the table to the side of the signing, where dozens of pre-bundled books were sitting.

"It couldn't be!" The loud exclamation from Lockhart interrupted Petunia's retort that it was still almost half again as expensive as the required books for the previous year, "Harry Potter!"

Drat! Petunia stumbled as she bumped against the display table and began roughly pushing her way through the crowd. Her eyes narrowed when she saw the man's arm holding Harry in place while a Daily Prophet photographer lined up a shot. When Lockhart turned his head and whispered something directly into Harry's ear, she saw red.

I'll give you something to take a picture of, "Unhand my nephew!" Crack, her hand slapped across the man's face before he formulated a response and Petunia pulled his hand off Harry's shoulder, "Are you alright, dear? Weren't you with Dudley?"

"I'm fine Aunt Petunia," Harry said clearly, then pointed at a man standing near Lockhart, "he pushed me forward and I-"

"Oh, well that is unacceptable!" Lockhart gasped, affronted, as he turned to his assistant, "I had thought young Harry was as excited to see me as I was him! Why would you do that, Bobbins?"

"Uh… sorry Mister Lockhart." The man's mouth continued working, but he didn't continue. Clearly, he was shocked at being called out.

"Terribly sorry for your distress, my lady." Lockhart affected his affable grin, making sure to turn slightly towards the photographer, but Petunia could see him wince ever-so-slightly. So it really isn't an illusion, "Completely my fault for making assumptions."

"Yes it was." She answered shortly, "Now if you will excuse us."

The nearby news camera flashed as Petunia led Harry back to Remus and Dudley, perfectly capturing a grumbling Gilderoy Lockhart massaging the red handprint on his face. Hopefully the smirk Petunia developed once her back was turned wouldn't show up.

"Honestly, how dare that man try to rope you into his publicity stunt here after we spent so long arguing with his agent to make those books affordable?"

"Enjoying your turn on the front page, Potter?" Draco snarked as Harry and Petunia walked by him, "Stealing his moment again? I heard Lockhart originally planned to announce being chosen as a professor today, before your guardian spoiled it for him."

Someone scoffed from behind them, where the Weasleys were gathered, but before one of them could jump to Harry's defense unnecessarily, he shrugged and answered, "Hardly. That man grabbed me and dragged me up there." Harry rubbed his wrist, it wasn't really sore but the man definitely had a grip, "If he wanted his own moment he definitely picked the wrong way to do it."

"Ha!" Draco scoffed before his father pushed him towards the counter, a mask of indifference on his face, "Your cousin has the books you dropped, by the way."

"Why not ask Potter to join your crew?" Lucius asked with a smirk when they were out of earshot.

"Because he didn't enjoy the film." Draco answered dryly, as though that were obvious and needed no further explanation, "He and his cousin were both distracted the entire time it was on. I don't need that kind of negativity from my crew."

Lucius had no idea what his son was talking about, and only a vague idea of what a 'film' was, but the serious way he said it was just too much. His carefully crafted public face cracked; and Lucius Malfoy snorted a laugh into his hand.


Whatever Laeknr Firewound was looking for in his examination, he was clearly pleased to find it. Neither Timothy nor Angela could remember a time when a goblin actually seemed to be properly smiling. Grins and smirks they had seen plenty of, but the old goblin seemed genuinely happy as he poked at Tina's arms and face. That was another weird thing; they had never seen an old goblin before, wrinkles just seemed like part of the package. Laeknr Firewound looked absolutely ancient, which was astounding considering goblins were supposed to be able to live for a few centuries.

"You have peace with your magic now," Firewound said, nodding thoughtfully, "but the feel is still sluggish."

"Um," Tina blushed and looked away, "Healer Withering says I need to talk to my friends, Harry and Dudley. I'm going to do it before we get to Hogwarts I just…"

"It is fine, child." Firewound stopped her, "Just do not neglect to do as your mind healer instructs you."

"Yes sir. I will."

The two chatted for a couple more minutes, but the goblin healer didn't appreciate the waste of time that small talk was and quickly pulled himself away to speak to Timothy and Angela, "Her magic is much smoother." He quietly told the pair without preamble, "But she still has… hesitation. Such that I could feel it in her magic. Do not let her ignore her mind healer."


Sirius wasn't joking around when he said the wards on the store would be as strong as he and Remus could legally make them. Four vandalism attempts were made in the week following their renovations to the front; and the aurors took in four would-be vandals after freeing them from various disturbing curses delivered by those wards. The shop was still at least a couple more weeks from opening in full, but some things were being set up for display and it seemed some people didn't approve of a Diagon Alley business designed to cater to muggleborn and muggle parents' needs.

Working with Remus again was a great form of therapy for the animagus as well. Especially their work on some of the fun additions to the shop, so much like creating the Marauder's Map back in school. The ideas they were getting from Vernon and Arthur were quite fun to piece together, starting with the front door; the only automatic door in Diagon Alley, and it was going to function entirely off magic.

Sirius grinned at his handiwork when the glass door slid sideways into the wall at Remus and Petunia's approach. Rather than the muggle way of having a full pocket for holding the sliding doors, they had reverse engineered the rune and enchantments needed for expanding spaces. It was really a bit lazy of the bag's creators not to hide their methods better, especially as no ministry had successfully figured out how to craft proper copyright laws for spells and enchantments. A pocket only an inch deep held the entire door when it opened, while the lion's share of the runes involved in the automatic open-close feature were now hidden inside the expanded space where it was all but impossible to analyze them.

"Well that certainly has some of the other shopkeepers talking." Petunia smiled after the door closed behind them, "I wonder how long before someone tries to buy one?"

Probably not any time soon, Sirius thought to himself. Any shop that wanted one would need to remodel their front entrance, so they weren't hurrying to get sellable models done yet, "I'm sure it'll happen eventually. How are you and Vernon coming on organizing that Potions book?"

"It should be ready for release soon." She sighed, her wrists were aching last night after a long session typing, "A shame it won't be finished before the children go back to school, but I have already let the other parents know about it. Strangely, Mister Lovegood asked for us to reserve a copy for him as well."

"Well at least it sounds like we can have the book on the shelves when we open." Remus added while deactivating the rune that triggered the door on the outside, "Now, you said Hermione found something?"

"Yes, she called me early this morning to tell me about a book on prophecies she found in Paris. There were a few methods described to tell if a prophecy was true or not," she handed a hastily scribbled note to Remus, "but most of them are things we cannot confirm. The only concrete answer would come from petitioning the Ministry to let us check, but that could be a bad idea."

The werewolf was listening, but as he scanned down the list there was one that stood out, 'a true prophecy always ends with at least partial repetition of the first line.' Did it though?

"I must say one more time my boy," Albus leaned forward and dropped the silvery strand of magical memory into the rune-carved bowl, "this information cannot be allowed to spread. Especially now that more people are aware of Voldemort's continued existence."

"I understand sir. I will not divulge the actual wording of the prophecy, even to Sirius and Harry, only a general sense of its meaning."

"Alright, well," Albus drew his wand and pointed at the bowl, "now that the memory is in the pensieve I will project it above the bowl like so. Fully entering the memory is hardly necessary for something so ironically simple; I was merely interviewing the now-professor for the position of Divination instructor. Most of the interview was less than promising, however something remarkable happened as I was preparing to tell her I would contact her at a later date if she were hired. Observe."

Remus gazed intently as an illusory projection of a slightly younger Albus sitting across from Professor Sybill Trelawney. Moments after the projection began playing back the memory, Sybill's eyes widened dramatically and her body froze upright with such alarming speed that Remus wondered if she had pulled something.

"My girl, are you well?" Projection Albus asked, reaching across the table only to draw his hand back in shock when she gasped a lungful of air and began speaking with an otherworldly echo underpinning her normal voice.

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have a power the Dark Lord knows not…" Sybill took a breath and appeared to relax, and Albus stopped the projection.

"You see?" Albus hurriedly asked, "We must be careful that this information does not fall into the wrong hands… and also work to discover what the 'power the Dark Lord knows not' could be."

"Could it be their wandless abilities? Harry's parseltongue?"

"Possibly on the first, though I do not think so," Albus answered, "and almost assuredly not the second. Voldemort is obviously well acquainted with parseltongue, and was also a skilled wandless practitioner. Though I suppose it is possible that Harry and his friends learning wandless magic so early in their development could be the catalyst for something else which could qualify."

"I'm planning to tell Petunia and Sirius that the prophecy implies a special skill on Harry's part, as well as how Harry is identified in it." Remus ignored the headmaster's disappointed look, "It's possible that Petunia could even shed some insight into what it might be. She does know Harry better than anyone else, I think."

"True enough."

"No…" Remus' mind came back to the present while Sirius and Petunia were talking about what other books they wanted to order to sell. It was a frustrating process, as for the first year of business they were not permitted to carry a book that wasn't also offered by Flourish and Blotts unless it was their own work; not the only shop owner to use their influence to add extra stipulations against the new business on the Alley.

"I beg your pardon?" Petunia stopped what she was saying.

"When you get a chance I would like you to call Hermione back and ask her about this one again." He pointed to the item on her list of prophecy criteria, "I am sure that that didn't happen when Dumbledore showed me the memory of the prophecy. I think he may have cut off the memory early. It did feel a bit hasty, but I didn't have a real reason to question him further. For all I know he just cut off where he consoled Professor Trelawney after she came out of her trance."

"So you just let it go?"

"We did discuss a few things about the prophecy. Including ways we could potentially figure out whatever 'power' Harry is supposed to have. But eventually we ran out of new topics and he sent me out with that annoying twinkle in his eye." Remus shook his head, "I did check out 'Professor' Trelawney before I left and the woman is a staggering day drinker. A rather sloppy one."

"You're kidding?" Sirius wasn't sure whether to laugh or not until his friend glared at him, "Damn."

"I've already told our four closest that they aren't allowed to sign up for her class, based on Remus' estimation of her. I don't think it's a required course for anything they would want to do, thankfully."

"So," Remus said to change the subject, "ingredients and supplies; how large are we starting?"


Lucius looked over the amended text of Weasley's bill in mild disbelief; just about all of the actual problems his business would have faced from it were removed or revised in such a way he could work around them, "You say Lord Nott provided the insight for these revisions?"

"He and the elder Flint helped," Arthur amended, "they met with Lord Black's representative a time or two and worked out several of these alterations to the bill. I thought you might be interested in a sneak peek before we present the final version with that content included."

The Malfoy patriarch sighed and placed the folder of parchment on the table in front of Arthur; not only would he be able to work around everything there, there was also a chance for some profit now that he wouldn't be worrying about random raids on his family home, "I was planning to ask this after the final vote was finished so that it wouldn't come off as trying to ask for something from you, but if this is what you plan to present to the Wizengamot then I will not be voting against it." Arthur Weasley nodded, taking up the folder, "My son has expressed a desire to invite your son Ronald over for a time before the summer ends. Draco tells me the pair of them enjoyed sailing at the mu-er-muggle camp before the wandless classes began, and wanted to extend an invitation to young Ronald to sail on something larger than was offered then."

"Obviously I have to ask him to be sure, but I think Ronald would love to. As much as it surprised me, no offense intended, he had almost nothing but good things to say about Draco."

"Indeed," Lucius inclined his head, "likewise. My family is planning a trip out of the country for the last week before Hogwarts' term resumes, would a period of time in the week preceding be acceptable?"


"The Weasley twins said they were going to ask their parents if we could some time this summer at their house." Harry explained to his aunt and uncle over dinner, "They were trying for the second-to-last week, just for a couple days. When they convince their parents, would that be okay?"

"Oh, that sounds brilliant." Dudley added, "Why didn't they tell me?"

"Probably still scared after you threatened them over pranking Cedric last year even after I asked them to knock it off." Harry chuckled before filling his mouth so he wouldn't have to elaborate.

"I think that will be fine." Petunia allowed after a shared look between her and Vernon, "Assuming Arthur and Molly agree and extend the invitation. Vernon and I were discussing earlier this week how we felt you two needed a chance to experience living in a magical home for a little while. Sirius' cottage and the Tonks' home are both less-than-stellar choices for different reasons."

Dudley couldn't help drawing attention to himself again, "Are they really scared? Those two?"

"When they asked me to tell you for them George was rubbing his shoulder and Fred crossed his legs." Harry answered, causing Vernon and Petunia to turn a stern gaze on their son.

"What did you do, Duddikins?" Petunia asked in the sugary-sweet voice that caused the two boys' spines to shiver.

He heard them just a moment before turning the corner, stopping and paying attention to the fact that his wand was moving a little in its holster. Dudley listened closer, and heard the barely contained chuckles. The first year wasn't in any hurry at the moment, so he elected to backtrack and come to the hallway from the other direction. A couple of minutes later, Dudley quietly rounded the corner to find Cedric Diggory, along with a pair of Ravenclaws in his year, muttering in annoyance while trying to undo the spell on their robes that rendered all of them the most hideous imaginable shades of their respective House colors.

"Okay, this is getting out of hand." Dudley muttered to himself, "It's way too close to exams for this. First, reinforcements."

Getting help to shut down the Weasley Twins wasn't hard at all, he just went to the elves in the kitchen. The elves may love all the students, especially ones like the Twins who are generally kind and come to visit them, but they are still busibodies. When the twins' antics stray from fun to bothersome and interfere with school work, the elves are happy to help a student who wants to set them straight. One bribe of stink bombs, made in-house by the elves to avoid being confiscated by Mr. Filch, and the real accomplice was speeding off and cackling with glee. After all, it wasn't often that Peeves the Poltergeist was bribed to target the Twins instead of by them to target someone else.

On his way back to his House, Dudley found himself quickly spun around by a Weasley who demanded, "You did this, didn't you!?"

Dudley didn't really register that though, as some sort of spell was canceled by the other twin causing the smell hit him at the same time as the words and he grabbed the redhead by the arm and flipped him into his brother. The Hufflepuff grabbed his nose and bolted away through watery eyes, ignoring the moan of pain behind him. Technically, it wasn't Peeves' fault that Dudley had to smell the stink bomb, so he wouldn't even be able to go complain to the poltergeist.

"I guess I hit Fred with George?" Dudley wondered aloud, then winced when he realized what he said.

"Is that so?" Petunia glared at him, ignoring Harry's snickering.