13

Draco Malfoy manages to bring Death Eaters into Hogwarts during his sixth year partly by using Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder from Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes:

"Anyway," Ginny went on, "he must have been checking whether the coast was clear to let the Death Eaters out, because the moment he saw us he threw something into the air and it all went pitch black-"

"Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder," said Ron bitterly. "Fred and George's. I'm going to be having a word with them about who they let buy their products."

Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 29, The Phoenix Lament

Ron seems to have a point. Fred and George weren't stupid. They knew they were in the middle of war in which the Malfoys were known antagonists. It seems strange that they would've sold Draco a product that was "handy if you want to make a quick escape" (chapter 6) in the light of the fact that:

  • Arthur and Lucius had had a very public punch-up in Flourish & Blotts four years previously.
  • Lucius had publicly called for the withdrawal of Arthur's Muggle Protection Act that same year.
  • Draco has had a fierce rivalry with their brother for some years now.
  • Lucius Malfoy at least was known to be a Death Eater to the Order (and so the Weasleys).
  • Lucius had tried to kill both Ron and Ginny within the last few weeks/months!

I'm curious:

  1. Did Draco or Narcissa buy the Powder on the day they were spotted in Diagon Alley during 'Draco's Detour'?
  2. Why did Fred and George not straight-up refuse to sell anything to Draco when he walked into their shop?
  3. If they did refuse him service, in what other way would he manage to procure the Powder?
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    Kids have been buying beer and cigarettes for years, even though in theory they are age-gated. All you need is a middle man.
    – Xantec
    Apr 21, 2016 at 22:38
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    Getting somebody else to buy for you isn't remotely challenging... Likely there were plenty of students at Hogwarts who had bought products from Fred and George, he could have just bought it off of one of them. Apr 21, 2016 at 23:17
  • 2
    mail order duh!!
    – Himarm
    Apr 21, 2016 at 23:54
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    It was stated in both the book and the movie that the twins imported this product from Peru. The twins didn't created it. The Malfoys are extremely wealthy, I believe it is possible that Draco just figured it out how to order it from abroad.
    – burcu
    Apr 22, 2016 at 5:53
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    @apollo True. Ron says Malfoy's powder is from Fred and George's like it's obvious, but he may be mistaken.
    – Pwassonne
    Apr 22, 2016 at 21:05

3 Answers 3

27

Weasley Wizard Wheezes started off as a mail order operation, and continued to feature this option as their primary market is Hogwarts students who are at school 3/4th's of the year.

"Well, we haven’t had a chance to get premises yet," said Fred, dropping his voice even lower as Mrs Weasley mopped her brow with her scarf before returning to the attack, "so we’re running it as a mail-order service at the moment. We put advertisements in the Daily Prophet last week." - Order of the Phoenix

Fred and George send them disguised as perfumes and cough potions,” said Hermione. “It’s part of their Owl Order Service.” - Half Blood Prince

Getting an item with a fake name, or having someone else purchase an item for you via mail is fairly simple.

Also as @harry Johnston states, they also have an assistant

"There’s a customer out here looking for a joke cauldron, Mr Weasley and Mr Weasley," she said. Harry found it very odd to hear Fred and George called "Mr Weasley", but they took it in their stride.

"Right you are, Verity, I’m coming," said George promptly. "Harry, you help yourself to anything you want, all right? No charge."

Verity most likely handles the actual paperwork and shipping details, while the twins are busy producing the product.

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    Not hard for someone like Malfoy to buy out or bully someone else into getting him things, either.
    – user31178
    Apr 22, 2016 at 1:42
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    In addition to that, the Instant Darkness Powder was part of a line intended to be bought by many people who would've been seeking defense from Death Eaters (as seen when Fred and George show off the products at the shop). So the entire "combat"/"defense" line would've been in heavy demand, and any individual order presumably under less scrutiny or less suspicious, especially when being bought by a random third party.
    – DariM
    Apr 22, 2016 at 2:01
  • @DariM exactly, half the students in the school probably had these items
    – Himarm
    Apr 22, 2016 at 2:03
  • +1, completely agree, it would have been easy for Malfoy to order/have a "friend" buy it for him. I'd add that in some countries, Muggle laws prevent shopkeepers from refusing to sell a product to a patron (as long as he's ready to pay, got the right age for alcohol aso). Maybe there's an equivalent rule in the wizarding economic world...
    – LilyM
    Apr 22, 2016 at 11:25
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    'Getting an item with a fake name, or having someone else purchase an item for you via mail is fairly simple.' Makes me think of how Sirius bought Harry a certain broom...
    – Pryftan
    Apr 18, 2018 at 2:59
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Most sales, including mail orders, were probably carried out by the sales assistants rather than by Fred and George personally. It simply never occurred to them to specifically instruct their staff not to sell to the Malfoys. (Though it probably wouldn't have helped anyway, since the order could always have been placed under a fake name or via a third party.)

3

Draco didn’t have to buy it directly from Fred and George.

Fred and George themselves almost certainly wouldn’t knowingly and willingly sell to Draco, but that doesn’t mean Draco couldn’t possibly get their products, even if they’d put up a big sign in their shop with people they wouldn’t sell to so that anyone else working in the shop knew who not to sell to. Their shop was very popular - lots of people were buying their products.

“Your mum said the shop’s going well,’ said Harry. ‘Said Fred and George have got a real flair for business.’

‘That’s an understatement,’ said Ron. ‘They’re raking in the Galleons!”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 5 (An Excess of Phlegm)

All that Draco would have to do is find someone else who was willing to sell him some, and since he was rich, he could certainly offer enough money to make it worth their time. Filch had banned their products at Hogwarts, so there were likely students selling them in an “underground market” sort of way.

“… and Mr Filch, our caretaker, has asked me to say that there is a blanket ban on any joke items bought at the shop called Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 8 (Snape Victorious)

If banning Fred and George’s products had anything like the effect that banning the Quibbler did, Draco would surely have a way to “stealthily” get it in Hogwarts. Fred and George could control who they sell to, and even who their employees sell to if they’d thought of it, but they can’t control if anyone who buys something chooses to resell and who they sell to.

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