Twins’ Tall Tales: The Nefarious Painting
The Burrow buzzed with post-breakfast contentment as the Weasleys finished their wholesome breakfast of sausage, toast, and fresh pumpkin juice. Mrs. Weasley gave the unpleasant task of Muggle clean-up to Fred, George, and Ginny, who shuffled in a chorus of moans to the sink. Fred and George watched Mrs. Weasley closely as she paraded out into the over-grown garden clutching Gilderoy Lockhart’s Guide to Household Pests to her chest. Fred and George shared a mischievous grin before approaching their oblivious sister.
“Ginny,” Fred said as he swung his soapy arm around his sister, “as your older, much more experienced brothers, we feel we are bound by duty to warn you of the dangers of your future scholastic endeavors.”
“Indeed, little sis, we must prepare you, for your own safety,” agreed George.
“What we’re about to tell you is not comfortable, but it is essential,” declared Fred.
Ginny gave them a quizzical glance, her face pale in contrast to her bright spattering of freckles. Despite the knowledge of her brothers’ extensive pranking history, her underlying Hogwarts anxiety overcame her skepticism.
“What are you talking about?” she asked fearfully.
“First years must prove themselves on many accounts,” Fred said, “but we don’t want our sister to be caught unawares. You know, of course, that Hogwarts has thousands of portraits displayed on the walls. Like all photographs or paintings, they move and converse with you. We were naïve in our first year. We thought that the paintings were like any other. Boy, were we wrong!”
George continued, “There we were, walking down a secret passage on our way to Transfiguration when we saw it: the painting that all students pray they never see. Our hearts raced, chests clenched in an instant of terror. The portrait of the mystery specter stood ten feet tall, the sleek creature crouched in anticipation, its silver eyes illuminating the dark hallway. At first, we thought it wouldn’t hurt to investigate the ominous painting. What’s the worst that could happen? We walked forward slowly until we arrived at the base of its shimmering black spikes. I thought it might be a werewolf. Fred likened it to Percy before his early-morning regimen. Enthralled in the contentious matter of Weasley hair care, we failed to notice the sharp talons of the beast inching toward my hand, which was leaning against its ornate frame. With a snarl that ripped all warmth from the air, the monster dragged me backward into a world of twisted shadows.”
George dramatically embellished his tale with an expressive physical reenactment, his “clawed” fingers grasping at his throat. Ginny gasped in terror.
“It – it brought you inside the painting?” Ginny asked in awe.
“That’s right, and it would have gobbled me up if it hadn’t been for Fred,” George responded with a nod to his twin.
“Before that furry git could wrap its jaw around George, I thrust my torso into the painting and grabbed George’s robes. I pulled with all my might, shot a stunning jinx at the beast, and finally tugged Fred back into the corridor. We ran as fast as we could to Professor McGonagall’s office. She accompanied us to the crime scene, but when we returned to the passageway, the painting was gone.”
“What was it? Are all paintings like that one?” Ginny trembled at the prospect.
“Only that one. The Nefarious Painting is a Hogwarts legend. No one knows where it came from. The painting only appears to vulnerable first years, hoping to satiate its hunger for innocent blood. The only way to keep yourself safe from the beast is to smell of beans and garlic. If you’re careful, you have nothing to fear,” Fred reassured Ginny.
Fred gave George a meaningful glance and slammed a large can of beans and a head of garlic on the counter. The twins patted their sister on the head and hid gales of laughter until they made it safely to their room. As soon as Fred and George rounded the corner, Ginny threw herself at the food items, stuffing a whole clove of garlic into her mouth with painful gusto.
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