Let’s face it, Fred is dead and that being said he wouldn’t want us crying at his deathbed. No, never known to be overly sentimental himself, he’d want everyone to rush out and spend all their money at Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes out of guilt. Given how much he means to nearly all of us, it is worth remembering him with jokes and laughter befitting his place as one of the comic leaders of the Harry Potter series.
For one thing, I’m sure he wouldn’t be dead at all if it weren’t for the fact that the Slytherins (such as You-Know-Who) have a tendency to play dirty (coughCHEATcough). And though I realize Professor McGonagall would never approve my pointing this type of thing out, it is clear that Slytherin house does bear much responsibility in his untimely death.
Anyway, cry if you must; it isn’t as if tears have never been shed for him in the past. Mostly they’ve been tears of mirth, that’s true, but occasionally tears of anguish stung the eyes of Fred’s “customers.” When I read that sign “Why are you worrying about You-Know Who? You should be worrying about U-No-Poo – the Constipation Sensation that’s gripping the nation!” 1 I certainly didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. So basically, the wizarding world and we Muggle readers are not unaccustomed to crying over Fred (and his holeyness George). So by all means, don’t hold back.
Whether juggling butterbeer bottles2 or feeding firecrackers to salamanders,3 Fred’s fun-loving nature brought the feeling of a party to every situation. In fact, about the only person who would likely be happy to see Fred go would be Mr. Filch. He certainly wasn’t one to appreciate either Weasley twin’s creativity or constant humor. Given their shared mischievous natures, it would be unsurprising to find George memorializing his twin by “haunting” Filch as Fred’s ghost. After all, the Weasley twins made Mr. Filch’s life even more miserable than it was (if that’s actually possible) for the six and one half years they spent at Hogwarts. In fact, it would be just like Filch to be back in his office now wishing George had got it as well.
From the moment Fred nicked the Marauder’s Map out of Filch’s cabinet while George caused a diversion, the two of them kept him (and his ever-present feline companion) running around the castle, never quite catching up with their antics. He might not have applied himself much to academics but Fred was as sharp as the sword of Godric Gryffindor. Fred didn’t limit himself to magical tricks either. He wasn’t too proud to pull out a hairpin to pick a lock if it would get him what he wanted. Harry learned to appreciate this skill the year Fred and George risked the wrath of their mum to fly that enchanted car to Surrey and rescue Harry from the Dursleys.4
That wasn’t the only time Fred helped Harry out either. Who can forget in the twin’s fourth year when he and George cleared a path for Harry, shouting “Make way for the Heir of Slytherin, seriously evil wizard coming through….” 5 Fred never took those accusations seriously; he was always loyal to his friends. Harry really appreciated the twins making light of the idea that he was the Heir of Slytherin. Jo wrote, “Harry didn’t mind; it made him feel better that Fred and George, at least, thought the idea of his being Slytherin’s heir was quite ludicrous.” 6 The loyalty that Fred and George felt toward Harry was demonstrated in their generosity to Harry time and again. Giving him the Marauder’s Map had to have been a difficult decision, as Fred said, “It’s a wrench, giving it to you, but we decided last night, your need’s greater than ours.” 7
Fred’s skills were not merely confined to the pranks he and George played, though. Reading about Fred taking out his opponents with a well-placed Bludger was some great entertainment! Even though Fred liked taking the mickey out of Wood, he always put on his best game, and helped make the Gryffindor Quidditch team the best Hogwarts has seen in a long time. Winning wasn’t essential to Fred’s happiness, but he always played his hardest. I suspect he was motivated by his joy of the after game victory parties.
Who can forget the long, white beards that Fred and George sported when they tried to get past Dumbledore’s age line to put their names in the Goblet of Fire?8 It takes a huge amount of confidence, even cockiness I’d say, to take on one of Dumbledore’s enchantments. That beard would have made a great accessory to Fred’s dress robes at the Yule Ball, but I imagine that the way he and Angelina were dancing it might have taken someone’s eye out.9
One of Fred’s finest hours was when he and George undermined that toad Umbridge’s siege of the school in their final year. The day they set off the Weasleys’ Wildfire Whiz-Bangs in the school was one of the most brilliant of the entire seven years (I’ll bet Umbridge’s kittens jumped right off their plates!). I will remember it until the day I join Fred in the great beyond. And who can forget his telling Peeves “Give her hell from us”?10 The portable swamp was easily the most impressive magical invention we saw in the Harry Potter series. I relish the fact that the staff allowed it to become a permanent part of Hogwarts. Fred always knew what he wanted to do and wasn’t afraid to take the next big step. One can imagine, even now, Fred busily passing suggestions to Peeves from the other side of the veil.
Of course Fred could have strived to be Prefect, Head Boy, and/or Quidditch Captain like his brothers Charlie, Bill, Ron, and that prat Percy. But it takes a big man to rise above such mediocrity to achieve his higher talents. And the king of some of the greatest jokes Hogwarts ever knew will surely go down in history. Explosions were so commonly heard from Fred and George’s room growing up that the sound didn’t faze anyone.11 And so, what started as a curious tendency to invent practical joke items (rubber haddock wands and canary creams not withstanding) blossomed into a full-fledged career. While Hermione may have been distressed by their testing methods, the ickle first years the twins used as test subjects seemed to come through unscathed. Fred and George, however, did not always get off as easily. Uncontrollable nose bleeds, unstoppable vomiting and painful boils in unmentionable places did not deter Fred from his creative pursuits. Though their mother saw no future for them, they were not deterred. They made sure that all their secret planning was worth it; the greatest joke shop in the wizard world was born. (Though I don’t think I’d ever want to skive off class badly enough to take one of their Skiving Snackboxes.)
I suppose Fred would have been disappointed to leave so much unfinished business behind. He never got to use any of his brilliant inventions to torment Percy at family affairs. I’d have loved to see Percy try to use a trick wand that punched him over the head or consume some Ton-Tongue Toffee (Percy definitely had it coming to him). And being one to follow instructions carefully, Fred must have felt disappointed never to have blown-up that toilet his mother requested in his third year. Perhaps Fred would have enjoyed giving Ron a magical black eye to match the dress robes he helped buy him. He might have been able to time this perfectly to coincide with Ron’s wedding day. Ah well, no one could put Ron in his place as well as Fred.
Fred was also quite a charmer with the women, having an apparent fondness for wizard and Muggle girls alike. This is a testament to his strong sense of equality between wizards and Muggles. So now Muggle mothers can breathe a collective sigh of relief knowing that one more threat to the hearts of their pretty daughters has been removed from the world.
But Fred accomplished much in his short life. He may have focused on getting a laugh but he was an ingenuous inventor and a successful entrepreneur. His mark will linger on the wizarding world. In fact, I find myself wishing that Dumbledore had relied on the Weasley twins to help him fight Lord Voldemort. They could have come up with a much more humorous plan for Voldemort’s defeat than assisted suicide and self-sacrifice. Replacing the Elder Wand with a rubber chicken wand would have been a grand start. Imagine Lord Voldemort’s surprise when he tried to use that wand: “Avada Ka… what the…?” It would have been a fitting surprise and given Dumbledore the last laugh from beyond the grave. And surely they could have protected the school from Lord Voldemort in a much more amusing manner than Snape ever could. I envision Vanishing Cabinets leading into Azkaban, a portable moat, feeding Voldemort’s army Skiving Snackboxes (with no antidote) … surely they could have trounced Lord Voldemort with a few of Fred and George’s ingenious ideas in place. Dumbledore’s need to keep secrets really hurt their defenses in this regard.
Fred always fought tyranny and hatred by bravely causing the most laughter and the biggest disruption imaginable. His fairness to others extended from practical jokes to acts of heroism. He served as a loyal friend who was able to put things properly back into perspective. He was quick with a witty joke, persistent in matters he viewed as important, and bravely fought evil to the end. The best we can do to honor him is the same. Let us toast to a life as brilliant and fiery as his stunning red hair, “Ear’s to Fred!”
1. Rowling, Half-Blood Prince, 116.
2. Ibid., Prisoner of Azkaban, 264.
3. Ibid., Chamber of Secrets, 130.
4. Ibid., 24.
5. Ibid., 210.
7. Ibid., Prisoner of Azkaban, 191.
8. Ibid., Goblet of Fire, 260.
9. Ibid., 420.
10. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 675.
11. Ibid., Chamber of Secrets, 42.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 1999.
———. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2000.
———. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2005.
———. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2003.
———. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 1999.