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Of Pranksters and Priers

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You go first!” whispered George, hiding behind the statue of the one-eyed witch.

“No, you go!” insisted Fred in an urgent, albeit low, tone of voice. He was crouching beside his brother, both on the lookout. It was night and they weren’t supposed to be outside of the common room -- but that had never stopped them before.

“Heads or tails?” suggested the other ginger, taking a sickle from his pocket.

Fred sighed. “Heads”, he agreed, as if he had no other option.

He actually didn’t. After over fifteen minutes fussing against his brother in the darkened corridor, risking being heard by Filch or that disguting cat of his, their only option of deciding who’d go first was heads or tails. It was always like this for them -- they’d either have a silent agreement on things that never needed to be discussed, or they’d never reach an agreement at all. The latter was usually the case.

Turns out, Fred won that round.

Their goal? Pranking Harry Potter.

Mind you, a first-year celebrity, apparently their younger brother’s best mate, and they discovered he was wandering about the castle at night all by his lonesome, doing something most likely against the school’s rules (not that this was a problem for either of them). Over Christmas, without Ron at the Burrow to prank, they had grown tired of everything very quickly. Going back to Hogwarts after the holidays was the finest opportunity to practice a bit of pranking.

They had planned to set Ron’s bet on fire or something, but as they were talking about it, they realised something: they had never pranked Harry Potter! And when they discovered his wandering abouts, albeit with a magic cloak, and decided it was the perfect opportunity to give him a good scare.

And so they mastered their plan to get him in one of those lonely nights. But they missed their cue when Harry left the dormitories, and now they had to wait for him to get back, very attentively in order not to miss his invisibility.

George got up from his crouching position with a snort and looked around. No sign of Filch or Mrs Norris. With his wand on his hand, he took a few steps towards the half-closed door where Harry went almost every night.

Fred followed a few steps behind. “What do you think he does there?” he enquired.

“I don’t know. And shush!”

When George approached the door, he could hear Harry’s whispering voice.

He didn’t want to pry. Neither him nor Fred were the prying type. Pranksters, yes, but not priers. However, at that moment, his curiosity got the best of him, and instead of bursting the room with a spell that would thunder with the voice of Professor Snape admonishing Harry and giving him the scare of a lifetime, George found himself leaning softly towards the crack on the door.

“You are really beautiful, mom. Everybody says I have your eyes, you know”. George froze, and with a quick motion of his hand, he stopped Fred. “I did good today at school... At least Professor Snape didn’t take any points from Gryffindor because of me”, and he chuckled.

But it was a sad chuckle. Fred approached, and looked flabbergasted at his brother. “I really like it here. Even Christmas... I got a jumper from Mrs Weasley, can you believe that? It was awesome. Much better than old socks, isn’t it?”

The twins exchanged a meaningful look. George felt his stomach lurch, and Fred gave a step backwards. He was feeling extremely uncomfortable.

“I wish I could give something back, Ron’s family have been so nice to me...” he trailed off. “I wish you could meet them. Oh, and dad, I'm loving Quidditch... They say I’m the youngest player in over a hundred years!”

George looked paler by the minute, Fred noticed. Even though Harry talked with enthusiasm, you could hear the sadness in his voice. The longing.

Up to that moment, neither of them seemed to remember why Harry was famous. He was the boy who lived -- but to be known as such, someone had to die. “We’ve got a game coming up. I’m practicing very hard, Oliver makes sure of that. And yesterday Professor McGonagall said I was ‘poorly improving’ in my spells! That’s a compliment, right?”

George shook his head and turned around. Fred did the same, and in silent agreement, they walked away.

There was no point in tormenting Harry. Life had already taken care of that.