Chapter 1 : A Very Gryffie Holiday: The Communicable Nature of Weasleyishness
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A special shout out is owed to Pixileanin for beta’ing for me. Thanks so much! Your help and inspiration were crucial. And to all of you out there in Potterdom, let me wish you a very “Harry Christmas,” as my dear friend, siledubghlase used to say.
“Seriously! If he leaves his underwear on the bathroom floor one more time, I’m going to glue them to his nose with a sticking charm!” Hermione hissed.
Harry simply wasn’t ready for that. He began to laugh so hard he stumbled, nearly dropping the armful of presents he was carrying, all over the snow-covered sidewalk.
Hermione’s eyes narrowed. “It isn’t funny!”
“Yes,” Harry managed between gasps for breath, “it is.”
Then, the smile she was fighting finally won out. “I guess it is.” She joined in the laughter.
Harry adjusted the presents, as they wended their way down the High Street. Hogsmeade was crowded with wizards and witches rushing to finish their Christmas shopping.
“Well, Ginny has her moments. No question. Mornings are always a challenge. Best not to look the monster in the eyes before it gets its caffeine fix.”
Hermione couldn’t help but smirk. “That’s genetic. Ron’s just as bad. But it isn’t caffeine he needs first thing.”
“Course not. He’s unbearable until he gets his morning feed,” Harry added.
“Rashers of bacon work better than a cross or garlic, that’s for sure,” Hermione said with a laugh. “If he doesn’t get a proper start to the day, there’s no telling what he’ll do.”
Harry shook his head. “You mean like his ridiculous idea of going Dragon-Tipping?”
Hermione cast a sideways glance at her best friend. “You were both to blame for that!”
Harry shot an offended look at Hermione. “I really didn’t know what was happening. One minute we were walking through the Dragon Preserve, the next Ron’s snickering while he topples a sleeping Horntail. I should’ve stopped him…”
“It’s alright,” Hermione sighed. “I know how he is. But when I saw the two of you sprinting to our campsite, screaming ‘Run for it!’…” She shook her head. “I could’ve used a gentler wake up call.”
Harry chuckled, ruefully, as he dodged around some ice on the sidewalk.
Hermione cleared her throat. “Your fiancée is no picnic either. Dragging me into her fights with Molly, especially the one last Sunday…”
“That wasn’t pretty. Sorry about that,” Harry replied. “There’s no controlling Gin when she and her mum go at it.”
Hermione huffed, “Merlin’s grudge match! Was it really worth a fight over the flower choice for your wedding!” She shook her head, then started to laugh again. “I didn’t have a clue what to say without getting myself hexed out of the Burrow by one of them.”
“Don’t I know it! I think they fight just for the pure joy of it; and, it never fails that I’m pulled into it.” Harry smirked at Hermione. “I was actually glad you were there to be Ginny’s ‘Second,’ instead of me for a change.” He laughed.
Hermione cocked an eyebrow at Harry. “After all I’ve done for you? You throw me to Molly?”
Harry looked sheepish. Then Hermione let him off the hook by breaking into a heartfelt laugh. Harry joined in, after a pause to make sure that the topic hadn’t ruined Hermione’s mood.
“We don’t do this enough,” Harry said, finally catching his breath. “Hang out. Just the two of us.”
Hermione smiled. “We should probably form a support group: ‘How To Cope With Your Weasley.’”
“H.T.C.W.Y.W? Not as catchy as S.P.E.W., but Merlin knows we could use the help. Meetings once a week at the Leaky would help me keep what little sanity I’ve got left,” Harry said.
“Should we include Angelina, Fleur and Audrey?” Hermione asked with a wry smile.
Harry pondered the suggestion, putting on his best Dumbledore face. “No. They haven’t suffered nearly as long as we have. They don’t need it as much as we do.”
“True. By the way, which twin is Angelina dating again?” Hermione asked.
“Erm…dunno,” Harry responded.
“Doesn’t matter, I suppose,” she added. Then she smirked. “Of course, the other non-Weasley’s sanity is secure as long as they don’t buy any Christmas lights from the twins, unlike certain Head Aurors I know.”
That caught Harry off guard. “Did I miss something or did you just take the mickey?”
Hermione laughed. “Guess I did. Ron’s influence.”
Harry feigned horror. “Weasleyishness is contagious. You should see a healer.”
Hermione rolled her eyes.
Harry said, “Still, those bloody Christmas lights from Triple W’s were almost the death of me last year. Trying to get them lit nearly made me go spare.”
“Nearly? I was there. Remember?” Hermione asked. “You could say you were obsessing, don’t you think? Just the tiniest bit?” She smirked.
Harry sighed. “Really shoulda just hexed Fred and George and been done with it.”
Then, something happened that Harry didn’t think was possible. A truly devilish smile split Hermione’s face. It was so unexpected, it brought him up short. “What?” He asked with a touch of concern in his voice.
Hermione glanced sideways at the wizard who’d become the brother she never had. “Well, I just had a thought.”
“Pranking Ron and Ginny. Might as well get the Pranksters-in-Chief, too.”
If Harry’s eyebrows could’ve shot up any further into his hairline, they would’ve flown off his head. “You can’t be serious.”
Hermione cocked her head, a very Weasley-like grin covering her face.
Harry was gob smacked. “Sweet Merlin. It’s finally happened. Ron’s completely corrupted you.”
Hermione nodded toward the Three Broomsticks. “C’mon. I’ll buy you a Butterbeer and we can talk about it.”
Slowly, Harry’s smile started to reflect Hermione’s. “A little payback from the H.T.C.W.Y.W? Maybe us non-Weasleys should finally have our day.”
Hermione giggled. “Something like that.” She held the door open for Harry as they trudged in from the cold.
Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes was doing a booming business. The store was packed and the bell over the door never ceased to ring; Fred already replaced the hinges, and the bell, once this season. Patrons jostled with one another, trying to get the last of the daydream spells, or to grab the love potions that were popular year-round.
However, this Christmas Season’s best-seller had been a collaboration in creation, but purely George’s baby when it came to implementation: The Mini Quidditch Pitch. Fred couldn’t figure out for the life of him how George had managed to get the necessary permissions from Magical Games and Sports as well as the players and the teams, but every single team and team member was represented, in miniature, in a board version of Quidditch that made Wizarding Chess look like Gobstones. At the stroke of a wand, a Magi could set their favorite teams against each other or recreate their favorite Quidditch Matches. And the twins were making a killing, even with the hefty cut the Ministry and the League demanded of their profits in order for the twins to market the game. Royalties aside, what galled Fred most was the ten-Galleon bet he’d lost to George as to whether they would get the necessary copyrights.
But even through the holiday bustle, they weren’t about to let their baby brother’s beautiful and brilliant fiancée come into the shop without a proper welcome.
“Hermione!” Fred shouted over the din.
She wended her way through the crowd. “Hi, Fred!”
“I’m George,” Fred replied.
“No. You’re definitely Fred,” Hermione responded, with a grin.
George closed the distance first, enveloping Hermione in a hug. “Now, how’d you know that?”
“Because you’re more handsome than he is,” she responded as she turned to Fred, giving him a hug of his own.
Fred couldn’t help but laugh. “You know what’s happening here, Georgie?”
“She’s becoming a Weasley,” George replied. “Suppose it was only a matter of time.”
Hermione smiled. “I should be so lucky.”
That spurred a huge smile from the twins. Fred asked, “So what can we help you with?” Then he had to shoo away a customer. “Sorry, family here – Verity will be with you in a minute.”
Hermione shot him a smile. “Well, I’ll take one of those Mini Quidditch Pitches for Ron of course, but there is something else I need.”
“Name it,” the twins chorused.
“Can we talk in the back?”
“Ominous,” Fred replied.
“Extremely,” George responded.
Hermione shook her head. “To a degree, I suppose. I need your help on something that calls for your unique talents.” That Weasley grin that Harry had seen earlier spread across her face.
George looked at Fred. Fred looked at George. “Absolutely!”
“Those tossers!” Ron hissed.
Harry just nodded, his lips tight.
Ginny’s eyes began to blaze Fiendfyre, a sure sign that her temper was building. “When did you find out they were planning to prank us?” she asked her fiancé.
“Overheard them this morning when I went to the shop,” Harry lied. “Not sure what the two of you did to get the twins so riled up.” Ron, Harry and Ginny had met up at the Three Broomsticks shortly after Hermione had headed off to get Ron’s present at Triple W’s. They were huddled over Butterbeers, shaking off the December chill.
Slowly, a grin split Ron’s face. “Actually, this may be the first time in my life I can actually turn the tables on them.” His smile grew wider and more devilish. “Prank them before they prank us. Blimey! This is brilliant!”
Harry smirked. “Yes, I was thinking the same. You and I should…”
“Not so fast, Harry James!” Ginny interjected.
“What?” Harry asked, feigning a befuddled look.
“This isn’t your fight,” she responded.
“Look, Gin, Ron and I can…”
“I held my own against the twins just fine before I met you, Mr. Chosen One.” She cocked an eyebrow at her fiancé, giving him her best Molly Weasley scold. “This doesn’t concern you.”
Ginny silenced him with a firm look. “Ron and I are quite capable of taking care of this on our own, thank you very much.”
Ron gave a firm nod. “She’s right, mate. We’ve got this.” Then he stood, grabbing his travelling cloak. “I think we should start at Zonko’s. See what new stuff they’ve got that might come in handy.”
Ginny rose as well. “Good thinking and I’ve got some ideas of my own.”
The two Weasleys walked arm in arm out the door to the High Street, whispering conspiratorially.
Harry sat back in his chair, a huge smile covering his face as he downed the last of his Butterbeer. “Hermione was right. It’s almost unfair how easy this is. Like hexing Flobberworms in a barrel.”
“Amazing! Our ickle Ronniekins is all grown up and thinks he can trade pranks with the big Wizards now,” Fred said with a grin. He was hunched over his desk in the back room. “He’s gonna regret coming after us.”
George sat in his desk chair, his feet propped up on a trash bin. “And Ginny, too. Gone mental, they have,” he finished with a smile. “But, Granger, why are you telling us this?”
Hermione leaned forward from the wing backed chair she was sitting in. This part of her scheme wouldn’t even require a lie. “Dragon Tipping.” She let the words slip from her lips with a slightly exasperated hiss.
Fred laughed. “One bone-headed scheme too many from our little brother, eh?”
Hermione slowly nodded. “I think I’ve been more than patient with his antics. And if Ginny puts me in between her and Molly one more time…”
“Easy, Hermione, we know what it’s like to be caught in that crossfire,” George added.
“Battle of Hogwarts was safer,” Fred offered.
“Now,” Hermione said, “here’s what I think we …”
“Not so fast, Granger,” Fred cut across her.
Hermione sensed one of the Twins’ dizzying tennis-match conversations was coming. She braced herself, hoping it wouldn’t make her sea sick as her eyes went from George to Fred and back again.
“You may be an honorary Weasley…”
“…and we’re happy to have you in the family…"
“…but this truly is a matter just between us.”
“Besides, we’ve been doing this for years…”
“…and it takes a certain flexible mind.”
“Not that you aren’t brilliant in your own right.”
“Definitely, but there’s no need for you to get your hands dirty…"
“…so just sit back and enjoy my brilliance.”
George’s head swung to his brother. “Your brilliance?"
Fred smiled. “Everyone knows I’m the brains of the outfit.”
George rolled his eyes. “Then again, Hermione, maybe you should be ready with Mum’s emergency Portkey to St. Mungo’s.”
“Or bail money,” Fred interjected.
Hermione laughed. “Just make sure I’ve got the antidotes and counter curses for whatever you brew up.”
“Oh, for the love of Merlin!” Fred shouted, breathlessly, to his brother, whom he was levitating up to the sign in front of their Shop. “Can’t you work any faster?”
A crowd had gathered around them, drawn by the Caterwauling Charm that had gone off at 4:00 p.m. on the dot, Christmas Eve.
Fred grunted, “Arg! Two more minutes and I’ll have it.”
George gasped, straining to keep his brother in the air. “You said that fifteen minutes ago. One more minute and you won’t have a twin anymore.”
“Drama Queen,” Fred replied. “Hang on.” He hefted his wand again, trying to remove the ward that protected the glamour that had changed “W.W.W.” into “M.M.M.” Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes had, for the last half hour, been re-Christened “Molly’s Momma’s-boys Mementos.”
“Got it!” Fred shouted triumphantly as the Caterwauling Charm finally stopped and their sign changed back to normal.
George’s voice filled the deafening silence that followed. “Sweet Merlin’s corset!”
“What?” Fred glanced down at his twin. Then a horrified look covered his face. “Please tell me you’re the only one wearing a pink cocktail dress?”
George didn’t have to answer. The raucous laughter that crashed into Fred from the crowd below was all the confirmation he needed. But George did offer a reply, nonetheless. “No worries there. Yours is puce.”
“Gin, that’s brilliant!” Harry was laughing so hard, he couldn’t button his shirt. “Who came up with the clothing charm?”
Ginny was sitting in front of her vanity in her slip, doing her make up; she loosed a diabolical laugh. “That was all Ron. I’m sure he got the idea from those horrid dress robes he had to wear to the Yule Ball; the clothing charms were set to go off once the twins managed to cancel the glamour on the sign. I never knew Ron had such a wicked streak. There’s hope for that boy, yet.”
Harry grabbed his dress shoes out of the closet and sat on the bed as he put them on. “Nice work with the sign and getting the twins out in the street surrounded by a large crowd like that,” Harry chuckled.
Ginny rose as she grabbed her dress off the bed. “I have my moments of brilliance.”
“That you do.” Harry leaned in to kiss his fiancée. Then he heard a whoosh of flame from the fireplace in the sitting room.
“That’ll be the first of the guests,” Harry added. The Christmas Eve Party at Grimmauld Place had become something of a tradition since the Battle of Hogwarts. “I’ll tell them you’ll be right down,” he said as he left the bedroom.
As Harry reached the sitting room, he was met with a very smug looking Hermione.
“Happy Christmas, fellow conspirator,” Harry said, enveloping her in a hug.
She laughed. “And to you, too. Everything seems to be going according to plan.”
“Yes, indeed. I’ve got the counter curses from Ron and Ginny. You got the same from the twins?” Harry asked.
“Yes. We’re all set.”
Then he motioned to the fireplace. “Where’s Ron?”
“He’s bringing the wine. Should be along in a tick.” Then Hermione nodded toward the magnificent tree that illuminated the room, covered in thousands of No Hassle, No Tassel, Christmas Lights from Triple W’s. The “No Hassle” part of their name proved to be outright false advertising the year before. “I see you got it lit this year with no trouble.”
“Well, after me, Ron and the twins exercised our magical prowess on it last year, I was pretty sure it was a permanent fix,” he said with an air of pride.
“Really?” Hermione asked, sarcastically. Then she flicked her wand and the room went dark.
She flicked her wand again and the Christmas lights came back on, revealing a smirking Hermione with her arms crossed over her chest.
Harry was gob smacked. “Sweet Merlin! You fixed them? How?”
She couldn’t contain her laugh. “Yes. I Confunded you and Gin hit the lights with the Bat Bogey Hex, which is what finally did it. “
Harry could only shake his head. “Why?”
“Because you four were being such obsessive, chauvinistic gits, we knew you’d never listen to my solution. Only way to get it done was to make sure you didn’t know it was us. So, don’t be too smug there, Mr. Chosen One. Oh, and one more thing. Throw me in between Molly and Ginny again, and I’ll make sure those lights go back to how they were last year.” Then she shot him a truly devilish smile.
Harry looked at the tree and then back at Hermione. Then he broke down laughing. “Remind me never to get on your bad side.”
She returned the laugh. “No worries. “ She shot him a smile. “Now, where is Ron?”
The words had hardly escaped her mouth when her fiancé emerged in a whoosh of green flame. “Happy Christmas, Harry!”
“Happy Christmas, mate! Let me help you with that.” Harry grabbed one of the cases of wine Ron was holding. “Mione, Gin will be down in a second. Would you mind greeting the guests while Ron and I put these in the kitchen?”
“Sure,” she replied.
As they headed toward the back of the house, Ron scratched his head. “Like the new hair style?” He was sporting a slicked-back look.
“Smashing,” Harry deadpanned.
“New hair gel. Bugger if it doesn’t itch though.”
Harry smiled. “By the way, brilliant work on that prank, mate.”
Ron chortled. “Thanks! I was pretty pleased with it. It’s gotta be one of my finer moments. Have to have them add it to my Chocolate Frog Card.” Then he trailed off, a befuddled look on his face. “Do you hear music?”
“I keep hearing Carol of the Bells and that gods-awful Puddlemere United Fight Song. Comes and goes in snatches,” Ron responded.
“Puddlemere Untied Fight Song? Oh! The one with that line about the Chudley Cannons?”
Ron nodded angrily. “Cannons misfire and turn to chutney. And that bloody Carol always gave me the willies.”
In the sitting room, Hermione, soon joined by Ginny, were busily greeting the guests. Luna and Rolf, Neville and Hannah, as well as Seamus and Susan Bones were all happily drinking Butterbeer and eating the magnificent spread that Kreacher had laid out. Bill and Fleur had just arrived, after a stop at Andromeda’s to drop off Victoire for the night. Molly and Arthur were right behind them, followed by Charlie, Angelina, Percy and Audrey.
Molly enveloped Hermione and Ginny in a hug, “Happy Christmas, dears!”
“And to you too,” they replied.
“Twins aren’t here yet?” Arthur asked.
Hermione was about to answer when another whoosh of green flame exploded from the fireplace, revealing two soot-covered, red headed wizards. One was clad in a skimpy pink cocktail dress, the other, in puce.
“Merry Christmas to all!” Fred shouted.
“And to all a good night!” George finished.
The room fell silent, and then erupted in laughter.
Molly spluttered, “What are you two wearing?!”
“The latest from Madam Malkin’s, I think,” Fred replied.
“But the shoes…I dunno. We may need to rethink the pumps,” George added.
Arthur was beside himself, he was laughing so hard. “That’s not what your mother meant, boys.”
Fred shot his father a cockeyed smirk. “As far as we can figure it, your two youngest are to blame for this.” He dropped a nod of grudging respect at his sister. She curtsied, grandly.
“Couldn’t lift the spell. But we decided to roll with the punches and come as we are,” George finished. “Where’s the Butterbeer?”
Arthur gave Ginny a very proud smile, but Molly was trying to figure out who to scold first. “Where is Ron?”
Fred smiled. “Ah, yes. You mean the Rondeer?”
“The what?” Arthur asked.
Before either twin could answer, they heard a loud shout from the kitchen, followed by the unmistakable strains of Carol of the Bells and then a chorus of what sounded suspiciously like the Puddlemere United Fight Song. As Ron dashed into the sitting room, everyone realized the music was coming from Ron, or, more accurately, from the gigantic antlers that had sprung from “the Rondeer’s” head. Harry was right behind him, trying to contain his grin.
Ron stopped short when he saw the twins. His face contorted from outrage, to anger and then to a full on laugh when he saw the twins in their cocktail attire. “Cursed the hair gel, eh? Nicely played, you evil geniuses."
The twins bowed. Ron returned the gesture.
Then the whole crowd gasped; every eye turned to Ginny.
“What?” Ginny asked, a note of worry in her voice.
“Gin…You better look in the mirror,” Harry said.
She did. What looked back at her made her jump: green skin, hooked nose, complete with a giant wart.
“My makeup…” She wheeled on the twins. “You!!”
Arthur grabbed her wand hand. “Ah, ah, ah…temper, Gin-Gin. If you’re gonna play with the boys, what did I tell you?”
Ginny smirked at her father. “Take as good as you give.” Then, she finally smiled and shook her head at her twin brothers. They smiled back.
Harry shot a glance at Hermione. They were both sporting huge grins. They shared a nod.
“Ginny, Ron, I think I can help with that,” Hermione said.
Harry waved to Fred and George. “I might be able to get you out of those dresses.”
Seamus cocked an eyebrow. “Poor choice of words, mate.” That drew another round of laughter from the crowd.
A few wand flourishes later, everyone was returned to normal. Well, as normal as the Weasley clan can be. But then, Luna’s voice broke over the din of the party.
“Well, I guess this means Harry and Hermione are officially Weasleys now.”
Ron looked at Luna. “Come again?”
“Well, they instigated the pranks, of course. That’s how they knew the counter curses,” she added.
Harry and Hermione traded nervous looks.
“But I don’t think they wanted to admit that yet,” Luna said airily. “Odd, though. This is the ending. There should be a big reveal here, I reckon.”
Ron turned to Fred. “Harry told us you were planning on pranking us.”
Fred cocked an eyebrow at Ron. “Hermione said the same about you two.”
Then, four Weasleys, with mischief in their eyes, turned on Harry and Hermione.
Harry looked at Hermione with a nervous grin. “Run for it!”
Hermione squeaked as she and Harry raced for the stairs, with Ron, Ginny, Fred and George in hot pursuit. The shouts that drifted down from the second floor had more laughter than anger in them.
Arthur handed his wife a glass of wine. “Well, Mollywobbles, looks like Luna was right. The family’s properly expanded by two. Although I doubt I’d call it a Christmas miracle.”
Molly let out a resigned sigh. “Arthur, what have we unleashed on the world?”
He smiled. “A loving family. Mental, but loving. And it appears to be contagious.”
Then Molly saw Charlie, Percy and Bill, their heads together, exchanging money while Percy furiously scribbled on a piece of parchment.
“Boys, what are you doing?” their mother asked, archly.
Charlie answered a little sheepishly, “It’s a pool, Mum. We’re betting on who’ll get even first.”
Molly fixed her sons with a stern look. Then she shook her head. “I’ve got five Galleons on Ginny.”