Fred and George Weasley could be patient; very patient, in fact... when it suited their purposes. They could tinker with a new invention for hours, trying to find the tiny flaw or miscalculation that was responsible for a deviant result. Or they could redo a potion over and over again until they had it just right. And they could wait hours or days to pull a prank at just the right time. So they could be patient, very patient. But being cooped up in an old house in Muggle London didn't suit their purposes. On the contrary, it hindered them greatly as they were unable to come and go as they pleased to purchase supplies or to test their new inventions where they wouldn't get caught by their ever-present and attentive mother.
But that didn't stop them from plotting. They were determined to do as much as work as possible on their inventions and plans for their store while they were stuck at number 12 Grimmauld Place. Which was why they were sitting at the kitchen table, their heads together as they scribbled away furiously on a parchment.
"There you are," Harry said as he entered the room and caught sight of them.
"No, but your mother was wondering what you were up to," Harry replied as he approached the elongated table and sat down. "She thought it was too quiet."
"She doesn't trust us!" Fred declared sounding scandalized.
"As if we would dare do something bad!" George added.
Harry merely rested his elbow on the table and looked at the two of them. "I'm sure you wouldn't dream of it. So what were you doing then?"
"Do you think we should tell him, Fred?"
"I don't know, George. Can we trust him?"
"Not to tell? I don't know."
"Hey! Have I ever ratted on you?" Harry demanded indignantly.
"You see these--"
"--are business secrets."
"Though, I suppose--"
"--as our secret benefactor--"
"--that you have a right to know--"
"--how your generous donation--"
"--is being put to use."
"Argh, stop it," Harry exclaimed as his eyes ping-ponged back and forth between the two identical siblings. "I assume that you're working on plans for your joke shop?"
"Yes," George stated as he straightened. "We have already been in contact with the necessary authorities to buy a place in Diagon Alley."
"And we've been working on how we'll advertise before and after we open," Fred continued. "Though we expect a lot of it to happen through word of mouth."
"We'll be letting people know of our shop during the school year so that we'll already have some customers when we do open."
"And we've been thinking about how to organize everything for owl-ordering as that would require owls--"
"--which we can't afford at the moment. But we hope to be able to get a few within the first six months."
"Not to mention that we've been hard at work creating new pranks!"
"Just wait till the school year begins, it'll be the best one yet."
"Just as long as you don't pull them on me." Harry said.
"You insult us!" Fred exclaimed, bringing his hands up to his chest as if wounded.
"As if we'd ever prank our investor!"
"That would just be bad for business."
"But you also like me, and that has always made someone a prime target for you," Harry stated, not deterred in the least by their act.
"You know, George, I think he's caught on to us."
"I think you're right, Fred," George agreed as he regarded his twin and nodded solemnly. "We'll have to be more careful in the future."
"Indeed," Fred said before he turned his attention back to the raven-haired boy. "You must admit that the pranks we pull on friends are never the bad ones."
"Unlike what we can do to Slytherins."
"What do you have planned for this year?" Harry inquired as he leaned forward.
"Well..." George began, his voice dropping to a conspiratorial whisper.
"We have a few things in mind," Fred started but was interrupted as the kitchen door opened once more and Remus Lupin entered the room, his worn clothes, skin and hair covered in a thin layer of some white powder.
"Are you all right?" Harry asked as he saw the haggard look on his former professor's face.
"Yes, it's just old makeup of some kind," Remus replied as he moved to get a glass from the cupboard and filled it with pumpkin juice. "The doxies thought that if they toppled it to the ground, we'd perhaps leave them alone."
"As if a little makeup will make Mum leave them alone," Fred said as Lupin sat down across from them.
"It'll only make her more determined to spray the curtains with doxicide," George agreed as he touched his twin's arm under the table and looked significantly at the werewolf's cup.
"Indeed it has," Remus agreed with a small smile. "She's declared war on them and probably won't come down until she's sure she's gotten every last one."
"She'll be all right doing it alone?" Harry asked. "Aren't they poisonous?"
"Don't worry about Mum," Fred declared as he discreetly searched his pockets for the vial he knew was in there somewhere.
"She could take on a vampire and come out victorious," George added.
"She's one scary witch when she wants to be!"
"Molly?" Remus stated with a shake of head as his stomach rumbled loudly.
"You haven't seen her mad yet," George declared. "She may seem all nice and gentle now, but when she's mad--"
"Merlin himself would be afraid!" Fred finished as Lupin got up.
"And I'm sure you've never given her a reason to be mad at you?" Remus questioned as he looked at the biscuits he'd noticed earlier.
"Well, maybe once or twice," George said as Fred leaned forwards and in one smooth move uncorked a glass vial and poured its yellow contents into the werewolf's glass.
"Wh--" Harry began, but hesitated as he was suddenly targeted with twin pairs of pleading eyes.
"What's that, Harry?" Remus asked as he came back to the table with a plate and a biscuit.
"W... wouldn't it be prudent for someone else to be up there, vampires and all aside?" Harry asked, eyes darting to the now slightly paler pumpkin juice. "Just to be sure, you know?"
"Don't worry, Sirius is still up there with her," Remus assured him before he took a bite of his snack.
"Not anymore," George said as the door to the room opened again and Sirius Black entered the room, hints of white powder indicating that he too had been hit with the makeup.
"Not anymore, what?" Sirius asked as he glanced around and smiled at his godson.
"That you're not helping Molly anymore," Remus responded as he picked up his glass and took a drink.
"She chased me out of the room," Sirius explained with a shrug. "Something about me only getting in her way. What?" he demanded as his godson sniggered.
"Nothing," Harry replied innocently.
"Oh really, then what..." Sirius began as he approached the table but stopped when he saw his friend giving his glass a confused look. "Remus?"
"You all right?"
"Yes, I just thought that my juice tasted differently," Remus said.
"Oh," Sirius replied, before his eyes swiveled to Harry and the twins as they shared a significant look. "Wait a minute, here," he began but was interrupted as his friend suddenly leapt to his feet with a startled cry. "Remus?"
"I..." the werewolf began before his hands flew up to his head as his hair started to shift. "What in Merlin's name?"
The twins struggled to keep a straight face while Harry and Sirius could only stare as two white, furry stubs appeared through Lupin's hair and began to elongate. As they grew, a pinkish center became evident underneath the fluffy fur. All of a sudden Lupin's hands flew from examining his head to his face as it started to twitch uncontrollably. With a startled cry and a widening of his eyes, Remus pulled his hands back and the others could see thin, white whiskers emerging from the skin around his nose. His nose was also taking on a pinkish tint and was twitching. Just as the two stubs on his head became recognizable as rabbit ears, Lupin was forced to open his mouth as his two front teeth began to grow until they were halfway to his chin.
"Wh... what in..." Sirius began as he stared at his friend, fighting to keep a straight face but loosing the battle.
As his godfather's laughter began filling the room, Harry brought his hand to his face to hide his own smile as his former professor glared at Black.
"You two!" Remus accused as he turned to glare at the twins who had gotten up, though his voice came out considerably less clear than normal as his elongated teeth got in the way.
"But of course, good Sir," Fred acknowledged with a little bow.
"You seemed a bit down and in need of cheering," George explained.
"--we were happy--"
The twins' eyes grew large as the werewolf pulled out his wand, but they relaxed as he transformed his plate into a mirror and glanced into it. The shocked expression that crossed Remus' face was too much for Harry who could no longer contain himself and joined Sirius in peals of laughter, much to the twin's delight and satisfaction.
"I..." Remus began he touched his whiskers, causing his 'snout' to twitch in response. "My... I'm... A bunny?!"
"And such a cute one too!" Sirius exclaimed as he finally managed to stop laughing.
Remus simply glared at him, though the effect was almost entirely ruined due to is new appearance. That and the glitter of amusement that sparkled in his eyes despite his best efforts to kept it hidden. His glare vanished completely and became an expression of relief when he saw Harry relaxed and laughing.
"Don't worry, Remy," Sirius stated as he walked around the table to assure his friend. "I'll help you get revenge. They won't know what hit them."
"We won't--" George began.
"--will we?" Fred finished, challengingly.
"No, you won't. This means war," Sirius declared.
"Bring it on," Fred responded.
"Let the best win," George agreed.
"Uh, I really don't think you want to do that," Harry informed the twins from where he was slumped in his seat. "You don't know what you're getting yourselves into."
"And just what would that be?" George asked.
"Well," Harry began as he looked at his father's two friends. "Fred and George, may I present to you two of the Marauders, Messrs. Padfoot and Moony."
Dead silence cloaked the room at this announcement. Fred and George stood frozen in their place, identical expressions of shock etched into their faces and their mouths hanging open. Harry bit his lip to prevent himself from bursting out into laughter again. If he'd known they would react like this, he would have introduced them long ago.
"Padfoot--" Fred whispered.
"The one and only," Sirius confirmed smugly, though clearly confused.
"They're the ones who gave the map to me," Harry explained.
"I always wondered how you got that," Remus said.
Their trance broken, the twins glanced at each other and were around the table and on their knees before the Marauders in a flash. Before either man could react, Fred and George had grabbed hold of the edge of their robes.
"The Marauders--" George exclaimed.
"--our idols!" Fred continued. "We're not--"
"--worthy of such an honor."
"Please forgive us--"
"We would not--"
"--have dared to--"
"--prank such masters--"
"--in the field."
"Forgive our arrogance--"
Both Sirius and Remus could only stare in shock at the boys groveling before them. Harry, however, was unable to contain his mirth any longer and was leaning against the table for support as he laughed.
"Wait a minute," Remus said when he finally managed to find his voice again. "Are you saying that we've been your role models?"
"YES!" came the simultaneous reply.
"I never thought I'd see the day," Sirius stated, straightening slightly.
"What? That you'd be a role model as an adult?" Remus questioned. "I didn't think I'd see that day either."
"And for Merlin's sake, you two, get up," Remus continued, ignoring his friend.
"Where, if we may inquire,--" George began as they got to their feet.
"--are the other two Marauders?"
"Ah, well," Remus said uncomfortably.
"Prongs," Sirius whispered. "Prongs is dead, he died fourteen years ago."
"I'm sorry," George replied.
"We didn't mean to bring up painful memories." Fred assured them.
"That's okay, James would want his part to be known," Remus stated with a sad smile. "You see, Prongs was none other than James Potter, Harry's father."
"Hi, guys," Harry said as he suddenly found himself at the center of the twin's attention.
"You're the son--"
"--of a Marauder?"
"We certainly chose the right--"
"--person to give the map too."
"Indeed you did," Sirius agreed.
"What about Wormtail?" Fred asked looking back at them.
"Is he still alive?" George added.
"Unfortunately," Sirius spat out venomously, startling the two redheads.
"Wormtail is, was..." Remus began, unsure of how to tell the boys that one of their idols was a traitor.
"Scabbers," Harry stated. "Wormtail was Scabbers."
"WHAT?!" Fred and George shouted together.
"Are you saying--"
"--that Peter Pettigrew,--
"--that no good lying--"
"--rat and Death Eater,--"
"--was a Marauder?"
"Yes," Harry confirmed bitterly. "And more than that, he's the bastard who betrayed my parents."
"Oh," Fred said before an uncomfortable silence fell over the room.
"So, Harry tells me that you plan to open a joke shop after Hogwarts," Sirius said after a minute.
"Yes," George confirmed, eager to change the subject and get a Marauder's opinion on what they had planned. "Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes."
"In Diagon Alley," Fred added. "We've already got a whole line of new pranks created."
"And we're working on more. Want to see what we have?"
"That would be excellent," Sirius replied, rubbing his hands together in anticipation.
"Before you three get too carried away," Remus interjected. "I would appreciate the antidote to whatever you used on me."
"Umm, well, you see," Fred began, suddenly looking uncomfortable. "We..."
"We don't exactly have an antidote," George admitted as he shifted from one foot to the other.
"There'd be no fun in pulling a prank like this--"
"--if the victim could just take another potion and be rid of its effects."
"Don't have an antidote?" Remus repeated patiently. "And just how long will this transformation last?"
"It varies a little from person to person."
"I see," Remus stated. "I'll just have to wait it out then."
"Sorry," George offered.
"No you're not," Harry countered.
"Shh," Fred mock-whispered behind his hand.
"They only did it because they like you," Harry stated, ignoring the redhead.
"Like me?" Remus repeated.
"Yes," Fred admitted.
"You were the best Defense professor we ever had," George added.
"I remember those types of pranks," Sirius said, his eyes taking on a wishful gleam.
"You were lucky Professor Kieran and the Headmaster liked you so much, or you'd have been spending all your free time in detention."
"You pranked--" George began in disbelief.
"--the Headmaster?" Fred squeaked, his eyes wide as teacups.
"Only once or twice," Sirius said modestly.
"Thrice," Remus corrected. "Remember the one where you and James charmed his socks?"
"Merlin, how could I have forgotten that!" Sirius exclaimed with a chuckle, suddenly finding a twin on either side of him, clutching his arms.
"Please--" George began.
"--tell us what you did to him," Fred begged.
"And how you did it!"
"If you show me what else you've got," Sirius replied.
"Yes, yes, of course," Fred agreed eagerly.
"Right this way, good Sir," George motioned towards the door.
"And if you've got any suggestions--"
"--we'd be more than grateful."
"Well, I'd always wanted to bewitch the corridors so that they became impassab..." Sirius' voice trailed off as they exited the room.
"Well, that's not what I expected," Harry commented as the door shut behind the trio.
"Can't say that I'm surprised," Remus replied as he poured his pumpkin juice down the drain and refilled his glass. "Sirius never has been able to resist pulling a prank."
"A Marauder and the Weasley twins working together, I think it's going to be an interesting year."
Remus paused at the statement, glass halfway to his lips. "I think I'd rather not contemplate that," he finally said as the door to the kitchen opened once more and Molly Weasley entered, reading a parchment held in her hands. "Did you manage to get all of the Doxies?"
"Yes, every last one of them. I'll not have such pests in any house I'm keeping if I can help it," Molly stated as she walked towards the stove, finally looking up at Harry and Remus. She froze in place as she caught sight of the werewolf, her eyes widening briefly before her face started to turn red. "FRED! GEORGE!"