Playing tricks, taking the mickey, trying to wind each other up – the soundtrack of sibling war is the constant cry of ‘Stop it!’ and ‘That’s not funny!’ There have never been two people more committed to the art of prank-playing than the Weasley twins, whose Puking Pastilles, Canary Creams and Ton-Tongue Toffees showed the wizarding world that they were kings of the practical joke.
Fred and George were experts at winding their brothers (and sister) up, whether it was teaching Ron a made-up spell to turn Scabbers yellow, stealing Percy’s Prefect badge or attempting to cheer up Ginny by covering themselves with fur or boils and jumping out at her from behind statues. Of course, we always knew that the Weasley twins weren’t trying to be malicious, but was there anything funnier than Percy’s ‘Pinhead’ Prefect badge?
The Weasley twins’ tomfoolery lived on years later. At the end of Deathly Hallows, we saw a similar cheeky sibling in Harry’s son, James. As Albus prepared to take his first journey on the Hogwarts Express, James couldn’t resist tainting his brother’s special day, suggesting he might end up in Slytherin. There is nothing more tempting than the idea of playing on our siblings’ fears, and Albus’s first-term nerves were too good an opportunity for prankster James to miss. He perhaps got this teasing trait from his grandfather, the original James Potter, whose practical joking was so despised by the young Severus Snape.
There’s nothing worse than having a nosy sibling, desperate to know all our secrets so they can share them with the world – especially when those secrets have anything to do with our love lives. For Ron, this sibling tradition resulted in him throwing a knife at Fred when he suggested that Ron’s new girlfriend must have ‘extensive brain damage’ for wanting to go out with him.
Poor Ginny was mercilessly teased about her crush on Harry, too. Even when she moved on for a while, Ron was still outraged to hear about the dates she’d been on with Michael Corner. It was up to Hermione to remind him to keep his thoughts to himself.
‘Ron,’ she said severely as she turned and trod on his feet, ‘this is exactly why Ginny hasn’t told you she’s seeing Michael, she knew you’d take it badly. So don’t harp on about it, for heaven’s sake.’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
It wasn’t just Ron and Ginny who had to protect their crushes from nosy brothers. We all wondered what lovesick Percy was doing hiding in his bedroom all summer in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – but who can blame him, with Fred and George as brothers, for trying to keep his blossoming romance secret? We all knew what was on the cards once Ginny let slip the identity of Percy’s affections.
‘It’s that Ravenclaw Prefect, Penelope Clearwater,’ said Ginny. ‘That’s who he was writing to all last summer. He’s been meeting her all over the school in secret. I walked in on them kissing in an empty classroom one day. He was so upset when she was – you know – attacked. You won’t tease him, will you?’ she added anxiously.
‘Wouldn’t dream of it,’ said Fred, who was looking as if his birthday had come early.
‘Definitely not,’ said George, sniggering.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
It’s tough being one of the youngest, especially when our siblings seem to excel at everything they do – often there’s no room left to shine. Our hearts broke a little bit when Ron looked into the Mirror of Erised and saw himself as Head Boy and Quidditch captain, and holding the House Cup. His dream was to live up to his brothers’ achievements, and who can blame him? With brothers like Ron’s it was no wonder he felt left out of the limelight.
‘I’m the sixth in our family to go to Hogwarts. You could say I’ve got a lot to live up to. Bill and Charlie have already left – Bill was Head Boy and Charlie was captain of Quidditch. Now Percy’s a Prefect. Fred and George mess around a lot, but they still get really good marks and everyone thinks they’re really funny. Everyone expects me to do as well as the others, but if I do, it’s no big deal, because they did it first. You never get anything new, either, with five brothers. I’ve got Bill’s old robes, Charlie’s old wand and Percy’s old rat.’
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Not all siblings are able to forgive and forget. Sometimes it’s impossible to see past our jealous insecurities in order to rebuild broken relationships. The dark shadow cast by Petunia Dursley’s envy and anger meant that she rejected Harry as her nephew, punishing him for the wrongs she felt her younger sister had done.
When Harry viewed Snape’s final, and most personal, memories in the Pensieve we were given an insight into the young Petunia’s true feelings about her sister’s magic. When Lily enchanted the petals of a flower, Petunia was both entranced and angered.
‘It’s not right,’ said Petunia, but her eyes had followed the flower’s flight to the ground and lingered upon it. ‘How do you do it?’ she added, and there was definite longing in her voice.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
As Snape’s memories evolved we saw that Petunia was deeply jealous, not only of Lily’s magic but also of her friendship with Severus. The final confrontation, on platform nine and three-quarters, was the moment their relationship became perhaps irrevocably damaged. We found out that Petunia wrote to Dumbledore begging him to take her too, and that she was rejected. She hit out at Lily, calling Hogwarts ‘a special school for freaks’ and we started to see the idea that magic was wrong and dangerous taking shape in her mind.
But we also saw all the red flags of a simply jealous sister.