I watched Gwen lick her ice cream, mentally capturing the image of her with blobs of ice-cream on her nose, left cheek and chin.
“What?” she said, looking at me in a mock-irritated expression, “quit staring at me!”
“Fine, but only if we can go and finish the shopping after this!”
“Why? What could you possibly have left to buy?” she said, looking at the plethora of shopping bags I was carrying with me already.
“Robes, quill, ink, some sweets, potions set, broomstick” I reeled off the remainder of my shopping list.
“Do I have to?”
“You don’t, but I do.”
“Hmph,” she grunted, “fine, you go buy whatever you need to, and I’ll wait here.”
“Seriously? Are you sure you won’t burn the place down?”
“Alright, I’m off then,” I span on my heels, and headed to the door.
I shot her a look, “don’t ever say that again.”
“Sure thing, butterfly wing,” she yelled through the door.
“Bye bye, fruit fly!”
I groaned and speed-walked into Madame Malkin’s.
After half an hour of admiring the various shops’ windows, standing in queues and mentally battling between the wood and silver finish on the broomstick, I was finally ready to head to Gambol and Japes. Gambol and Japes was my favourite shop in the entirety of Diagon Alley. It was the joke shop. Now, to everyone in Hogwarts, I was far from the practical joker. In fact, I was pretty much the clumsy girl with good intentions. But the joke shop was my favourite place to be. It was so wonderfully vibrant, in looks and atmosphere. When I walked in the room, my ears were filled with the various sounds of bells, whistles and animated chatter amongst a host of yet to be identified noises. I immediately zoned in on a jar of colourful looking sweets.
‘Tongue tiers,’ the jar said, ‘ just one sweet and the victim will be placed in a state of silence for upto 4 hours! Only 10 knuts a jar!’
“Nice,” I mused aloud.
“They are quite,” said a voice behind me, “but not as nice as you.”
I span around. It was Fred Weasley.
“Hi Fred!” I grinned.
“Sorry,” he blushed, “I thought you were someone else.”
“Did you now?”
“He did,” George Weasley appeared, from behind some shelves, “he thought you were-”
“Shut up George!”
“Anyway,” Fred turned to me, “what are you doing here, Arianna?”
“Yeah! Go away! Fred wants his Angie-boo-boo here!”
Fred replied with a hard punch on George’s shoulder.
“No, what I meant was, you’re hardly known as the prankster...”
“I like it here,” I shrugged, “what about you?”
“Ah, now we’re here for market research,” said George.
“Yes, we’re opening up a business…”
“In Hogwarts. We’re calling it…”
“Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. It’s going to be…”
“Awesome. Way better than all…
“The junk they’ve got out here.”
“Can you stop doing that?” I looked at the two of them.
“Doing what?” they chorused.
“Finishing each other’s sentences. It’s slightly freaky,”
“Freaky?” they both grinned, giving a new definition to the word freaky.
“Whatever," I looked at my wristwatch, "I’ve got to go meet Gwen now.”
“Gwen? You mean the creepy goth chick?”
“Yes. Gwen, the creepy goth chick.”
“Shall we come? You know, to protect you from all her dark magic?”
“She’s my friend.”
“Really? Arianna is friends with the creepy goth chick?”
“Yes. Yes I am.”
“Well now, this has to be a mistake. We’ll have to see it to believe it, won’t we, Fred?”
“Indeed we will, George.”
“Let’s go then!” I smiled. This was going to be fun.
I didn’t end up finding Gwen at the ice cream parlour, actually far from it. We were walking towards Florean Fortescue’s, when we heard a terrible screeching noise come from the Magical Menagerie. Fred and George ran inside, almost instantly, with me following after. Inside was a dark, furry catastrophe. And at the centre of all of it, who other than Gwen?
“I’m ok!” she said, coughing and spluttering from under the large assortment of magical creatures piled on top of her.
“Gwen?” I asked.
“Yup!” she picked herself up and sprang onto her feet, “and I see you brought company.”
“So… Tweedle dum and tweedle dumber?”
“Fred and George.”
“Gred and Forge?”
“If you want.”
“Hey!” Fred said, interrupting me, “That was once! Four whole years ago!”
“So?” Gwen grinned. She had a funny habit of knowing things that she wasn’t supposed to, I’d noticed.
“Gwen…” I looked around, “what are you doing here?”
“I wanted to buy something!”
Gwen pulled out a little glass jar from her pocket, inside which I could make out a strange, fluorescent orange blob, “say hello to Phyllis.”
“Phyllis?” the twins chorused.
“She’s beautiful,” I said, “but you know Hogwarts will never let you keep her.”
“It’s a he,” Gwen looked at me gravely,
“A male snail called Phyllis!” George burst out laughing, “Pass him here, will you, I’ve got to have a look at this.”
“Yes,” she said, gently lifting the snail out of the jar and handing him over to George, “And you three are going to help me protect him.”
“What?” I said, “Gwen, I am not getting kicked out of Hogwarts for some snail.”
“It’s not just some snail! It’s Phyllis! Besides, you won’t get kicked out of Hogwarts, so long as we don’t get caught.”
I glanced at George playing with Phyllis, “he’s poisonous, you know. There’s no way we can keep him.”
“But he’s adorable!” George said.
“Isn’t he just,” Fred said, stroking the back of Phyllis’ shell.
“Look, even they agree!” Gwen widened her eyes.
“Fine," I said, "but don’t count on me to feed him."