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Harry Potter: Private Eye

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Ron & Harry sauntered peaceably down Diagon alley, their general fame and ministry office robes drawing respectful nods from all but the most cantankerous of the Slytherin wizards.  They inspected ‘mood’ necklaces that changed their precious stones to match the emotions of the lady wizard wearing them, jewelry boxes with animated guardians of various kinds (none as impressive as Gryffindor’s lion), dress robes embroidered with paisleys and shimmering rainbows (they both went in for one of these for Ron’s Mum - the older Mrs. Weasley) and boxes of assorted chocolates “guaranteed to be your lady witch’s favorite flavors or your sickles back.”

Harry was most amused at the new inventions that he was well aware mimicked Muggle technology. The biggest seller of the season was a book that recorded the most famous witch & wizard concerts on every page. Although he wished he could have gotten Ginny an MP3 player, he settled for one of these. Popular music stations wouldn’t be carrying this book’s hits any time soon. When a chance breeze flipped open the pages to Berlinda Cautwaller’s infamous voice -jinxed rendition of “Hogwarts, I Yet Dream of Thee,” he thought that was perhaps a good thing.

In general, it was a far more pleasant expedition than most had been in their childhood. Ron could now afford most of what the shops offered and Harry could buy without choosing between feeling guilty at being so much better off financially and not having his best friend along.

Ron & Harry finished a pint at the Leaky Cauldron and regarded their purchases with satisfaction. “What do you think, Harry. Have we found enough stuff?”

Harry thought for a moment, ticking off their mutual relations and the loot he’d acquired for them. Mr. Weasley would have the newest Comet broom wrapped beside them, - let’s see, of Ron’s brothers -  Charlie, the dragon wrangler, would receive pairs of incombustible gloves, Bill the banker & Percy the bureaucrat would each receive a PGA -Personal Gnomic Assistant**  - “What about George?”

“What about George? Why don’t we go see him and ask?”

“Don’t be mental. We can’t ask him what he wants for Christmas.”

“We can look around and ask what he’s up to. Maybe get some ideas.”

“Well, at least we know what he doesn’t want.” Harry grinned at Ron … and they nearly said it together

“A sweater”

“Right. Good timing, Ron”

“Thank you.”

The joke shop sign still said Fred & George Weasley, proprietors, which made them both wince. Harry wondered for a second why George hadn’t taken his dead twin’s name off the sign, then realized that even considering the idea made his stomach tie up in a knot. If it was this hard for him, how hard must it be for George, one half of the inseparable pair?

They entered the door in a distinctly subdued frame of mind, but George was in good spirits and happy to see them. The shop was clearly still doing well. George had hired two young assistants, who he now directed to take over operations while he came to visit with them.

“Ron! Harry! Just in time to try out our new home security kit!”

Ron shot Harry an alarmed look. Had the loss gotten to George already? “Our…kit?”

George gave one of his more impish grins, “Well, not YOURS obviously. Don’t tell me you’ve gone senile already. Fred’s and mine of course. Come take a look.” George swept back the curtain over the door marked “private - professional jokesters only” and headed into the back room, with a somewhat anxious Ron and Harry in his wake.

A remarkable lab filled with mundane and insane objects cluttered the sideboards and cupboards. Harry thought he could see an amazingly neat, well-organized stockroom beyond it. George followed his gaze, “Oh yes. Percy insisted on ‘checking up on me’ earlier this week. So I put him to work.” Ron sniggered for a second, then choked, realizing he was doing the same. George just grinned at him and gestured toward the table.

“Your turn, my hearty relations. We need beta testers!” Harry blinked at the Muggle phrase but dutifully turned his attention to the boxes containing parchments, inks & quills on the central worktable. Harry walked over and picked up the nearest large parchment, which proved to be blank.

“What’s this, George? Writing kits…”

“Oh much more than that...” George’s voice seem to float from behind another curtained alcove to his right. “Show him brother.”

Ron had been about to take a seat but found a toad already sitting there contentedly chewing bubblegum. He froze, and looked at George. “Are you throwing your voice again? Honestly, George, that isn’t funny.”

George’s eyes twinkled. “Of course it is - or it would be, but that’s not my voice.” George swept back the curtain and revealed a full length, extra wide mirror, or so it seemed to be, until George turned back to face them while Fred continued to look out at them and laugh, and then Ron knew.

“Its his portrait! George, when did Fred have time to get that done?”

George smiled. “We didn’t finish in time, exactly. The shop was doing great, what with all that Ministry business and all - so Fred and I had started to have one done of the two of us as a present for Mum, show her how her ne’er-do-wells had made it and all that, but it wasn’t done yet on the fateful day. Still, Fred had gone to the sitters first.”

“You’re the one who needs a sitter,” teased Fred.

George continued, “I had the wizard artists finish using me as the model but didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up when Fred didn’t talk right away.”
He paused and gestured,  “Sleepyhead there only woke up recently.”  

“That’s because you finally said something interesting.”

Harry’s relief was obvious, “and what was that?”

“Why, we’ve rediscovered the Marauder’s map spell, of course!”

George turned to Harry, “You didn’t think we’d waste all our time hanging around that dusty old house, did you? Sirius was bored anyway, so we put him to work remembering what he could about it. We convinced him how useful it could be in the upcoming fight.”

Fred chimed in, “Seems your Dad was a bit of an evil genius, Harry. A lot of what made it work for Hogwarts was his doing, well - with a lot of research  from Sirius & a few tweaks by Lupin. Seems it started when Sirius had found an old dungeon master’s spell some evil ancestor had dreamed up for keeping an eye on his prisoners. He thought he’d adapt it for the upstairs rooms so he could see when that rotten old house elf Kreacher was sneaking up on him. It worked well enough but Kreacher’s apparition abilities made it just about useless at home. Sirius told his friends at Hogwarts about it and James immediately saw the possibilities. James realized that since no one could use that sort of transportation magic at Hogwarts you could get quite a bit of warning….(Harry nodded)..and since it wasn’t actually hostile magic, it might be allowed…”

George cut in, “Yeah, the Map doesn’t do anything to anybody or to Hogwarts itself.”  Ron nodded, now taking in why it didn’t set off Hogwarts’ inbuilt defenses. He’d never thought about it before.

Fred continued, “Just the same it took them awhile to get it right with all of the hidden rooms, changing staircases and the like. Hogwarts’ sheer size meant the spell had to be very strong, Harry. Sirius and Lupin thought it was more than they could have ever managed, but James did it, and even included the grounds, though even after all their talking about it his friends weren’t quite sure how.  Pettigrew didn’t do anything much.”

George agreed “Yeah, Pettigrew didn’t do anything. I don’t think he even understood it. But that was just as well - considering.”

They didn’t have to elaborate, Harry was already mentally shuddering at what several of their missions might have been like if Voldemort and the Ministry under Voldemort’s control had owned the Marauder’s Map Spell.

“Anyway, the old dungeon spell was still floating about Sirius’ house ~ literally sometimes, thanks to Kreacher. Sirius gave us a copy. And, now, with the good guys back in control again, it’s worth looking into, wouldn’t you say? At least give you a head’s up on when the boss is coming your way, eh?”

Harry spluttered, “You’ve made a Marauder’s Map of the Ministry complex?!”

“No. No. Not Yet. Nothing that large.” the twins said together.

“And that’s where YOU come in, Harry. Well, both of you, really,” announced George triumphantly. He presented the rest of the box to Harry with a flourish. “Introducing our home security map kit. Just follow the instructions and make an existing map of your home and grounds. You’ll need never wonder who is on your doorstop…”

“or in your chimney,” interrupted Fred

“or on your rooftop, ever again.” finished George.

“Perfect for the holidays.” they managed in unison.

Harry was still taking in what they said about his father when George, impatient with Harry’s lack of motion, handed him the small box. Ron accepted his with some skepticism. “How do you know you’ve got it working?”

“Aaha…the model of faith, our little brother,” retorted Fred.

“Honestly, Ron,” added George, How do you think?”  Before Ron could answer, “with my head, of course,” George walked over to a large plain poster board on the wall, tapped it with his wand and said those familiar words. “I honestly swear I am up to no good.”

The layout of the shop, front and back, appeared in brown ink…little footprints and names of the customers and employees out front wiggled around the front. George, Ron, and Harry’s names appeared solidly in back. Harry took the opportunity to establish that the gum-chewing toad was indeed a toad, and that Fred did not appear on the map. George seemed to read his mind. “No, this spell specifically exempts ghosts and living portraits, Harry. Just as well in Hogwarts or the whole parchment would have been permanently covered over, especially in the great hall.” Harry nodded, recalling the huge expanse of the great hall, several floors high,  nearly every inch not used for doors or windows were covered in extremely active paintings.

 

Harry held the box up a little. “Well, thank you, George.”

“Oh don’t thank me yet. Thank me when it allows you to avoid Dudley on your doorstep…” replied George.  “Besides, it’s a great present, right?”

“and a cheap one!” chortled Fred.

Ron made a face, but thanked the twins warmly enough for his box. George couldn’t be persuaded to name anything he might like for the holidays, with  Zonko’s shop still out of business. Fred teased that they could ‘mail’ his goodies to him.

Mentioning Zonko reminded Harry of the Rodanthuse case, and he asked George about those last, most dangerous objects on the Misuse of Magical Artifacts list.

“No, Harry. Items like that would be dangerous even for magical folk. Zonko never sold anything like that. The cursed dolls have a dark wizard’s touch, though you could probably make the handkerchief trap with several simple charms - a multiplier, entanglement, and movement spell together would do the trick. I can run a few tests and get back to you.”

George was still making notes as Harry and Ron made their way back out in the cheerful chaos of the main store.

Before leaving, Harry bought an assortment of Fred & George’s best sellers, including canary creams, wildfire whizbangs, a daydream cap, a trick wand and even a few puking pastilles, for old times’ sake, promising Ron not to put any in his stocking. “You’d better not, mate,” came the stony reply.

Ron had promised to meet Hermione for an early supper with her parents, so after arranging safe transport for their purchases thus far, the friends shook hands and Harry wandered on off on his own for a bit. Harry’s mind was now back on the case. Before going home, he took a bit more time looking up various shops that had been ripped off by Rodanthuse so long ago. Most of the storekeepers (and their assistants) had changed since then, but the few who remained added little to the case as he’d heard it. Most expressed surprise at the crimes that marked the end of Rodanthuse’s career, remarking that, whatever he looked like, the old wizard had seemed a puckish, gentle soul. “Wouldn’t transfigure a fly,” one said.
                                               
**with apologies & all acknowledgement to the inventive mind of Terry Pratchett