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AN: This tale takes place in a reality just to the left of the Crusadiverse; a world in which Fred survived the Battle of Hogwarts. It is betaed by and dedicated to the Mighty Farmgirl. Merry Christmas Little Sis!

And a very Harry Christmas to you all from theelderwand!

(The toys belong to JKR; she just lets us play with them.)

***

Ron Weasley pulled the collar of his travelling cloak up around his neck to try and shut out the bone-chilling night air, as the snow whisked around him. Off in the distance he heard carolers singing “Carol of the Bells.”

Song always gave me the willies, Ron thought with a shiver and tried to force it from his mind. He had other more pressing matters to deal with.

Ginny’s Patronus-message had been short and ominous: It’s happened again! Come quick!

He’d dropped everything at work, left Seamus in charge of the Auror Office and flew out of the Ministry as fast as his long legs would carry him. Once shut of the Ministry, he’d Apparated to Grimmauld Place, a block from Number 12, where Harry and Ginny had lived for the past year and a half. He didn’t dare use the floo; he’d done that the last time this had happened, with disastrous results. Instead, he made for the back door.

Mounting the stairs to the back porch, he steeled himself before reaching for the doorknob. Steady, Weasley. You can do this.

He’d hardly touched it when the door flew open and a disheveled Ginny threw herself at him. “Ron!”

Despite his large frame, the force of his sister crashing into him made him rock backwards. “Easy, sis. It’s okay. I’m here now.”

She broke her embrace, looking up at her brother. “Ron, you don’t understand. It’s bad. Really bad.”

Ron let out a breath. “It can’t be worse than last year.”

Ginny glared at her brother with such incredulous rage, the tall redhead nearly backed up a step. When she cocked her head and placed her hands on her hips, Ron braced himself for the truly terrifying sight of his baby sister transfiguring into their mother.

“Ronald Bilius Weasley, don’t even try to belittle this. You have absolutely no idea what it’s been like here for the past ten hours!”

At that, Ron did retreat a step. “Alright! I’m sorry. It’s just…”

She cut across him. “You know how he gets! Ever since the last time…” She shook her head and visibly slumped. “I’m sorry, Ron. I shouldn’t have vented at you like that. It’s just…I don’t know what to do with him when he gets like this.”

The tall redhead nodded slowly as he again approached his sister, giving her another hug. “I know. It’s not your fault.”

She smiled, weakly up at him. “Come in before you catch your death.”

The two walked into the kitchen. Ron stamped the snow from his Auror boots as he took off his travelling cloak. Immediately he heard shouting and swearing from the front of the house. “Oh, bugger.”

“Yes. He’s been like that for hours, now.”

“How long’s it been since he’s had anything to eat or drink?”

“Breakfast this morning. It’s like he’s obsessed. At first, I just humored him, hoping it would pass.” Ginny’s face fell. “But then he started murmuring, ‘It’s like a vendetta, now! A vendetta!’ It only got worse from there.”

Ron let out a sigh. “He’s in the sitting room?”

Ginny nodded.

“Alright. Don’t come in there unless I call for you.” He looked firmly at his sister. She only stared back at him, frowning. “I’m serious, Gin!”

Letting out a breath, she nodded again.

“Good.” Bucking up his courage, Ron headed off toward the sounds of swearing, which got steadily louder with each step. Can’t risk startling him. “Harry?”

“Vendetta! They’ll pay. OH! They’ll pay!”

It’s worse than I thought. “Harry, mate?”

“Hours of my life. Hours! I’ll show them. They think Riddle got it bad? Evil twins, I swear…”

“Harry? Brother, you okay?” Ron asked gently.

Harry’s head snapped around. “Ron! What are you doing here?!”

Gotta move slowly, don’t want him to feel threatened. Ron eased himself into a chair near the fireplace. “Just dropped by, mate. Spreading the holiday cheer and all that.”

“Holiday cheer…” Harry let loose a diabolical laugh that curdled Ron’s blood.

The redhead tried to measure his words. “We fixed it before. We can do it again. It’s okay.”

“OKAY?” Harry exploded. “LOOK AT THIS!”

Ron took in the scene. On the sofa, on the settee, on the coffee tables, the stairs and every piece of furniture were strings and strings of Magical Christmas Lights, hundreds, maybe thousands of them.

None of them were lit.

Just to Harry’s right were piles of empty boxes from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, with the caption: “Triple W’s Magical, No Hassle, No Tassel, Christmas Lights! Just cast Lumos! Guaranteed to light up your Holiday!”

The words were out of Ron’s mouth before he could stop himself. “Did you cast Lumos?”

If looks could kill, Hermione Granger would be living alone.

The tall redhead blanched.

Then Harry sighed, laughing slightly as he made some room on the sofa to sit. He shot Ron a tired smile. “Ginny Patronused you, didn’t she?”

“You could say she thought you were about to pull a Peeves, yeah.”

“Sorry, mate…Wait a minute… You had the duty this Saturday; so who’s running the Auror Office?”

“Don’t worry, boss. I left Seamus in charge. I only had an hour left on my shift anyway.” Ron looked again at the piles of lights. “Besides, seems to me that my partner needs me here more than he needs me minding the store.”

Harry began to fume again. “Ron, I swear I’m about to Lumos Kedavra the whole bloody batch! I’ve been at it for hours. They’ll light up for a split second and then go out. So then I change some of the bulbs, try again and….” Harry buried his head in his hands. “Fred and George deserve Azkaban for this.”

Ron stood and began to roll up his sleeves. “Any clue what spell we used last year to get the bloody things to work?”

Harry’s jaw clenched. “Ronald, if I remembered the bloody spell…”

“Right,” Ron said quietly.

Harry let out a breath. “Apologies, again.”

“No worries. How ‘bout we try Lumos from both ends?”

“Tried it with Ginny. No luck.”

“Levitate and shake?”

“Repeatedly for the past nine hours.”

Lumos Maximus?”

“Repeatedly for the past eight.”

Reparo?”

“For the past seven.”

Episkey?”

“Been there.”

Erecto?”

“Done that.”

Crucio?” Ron asked with a smirk.

Harry’s face fell.

“POTTER!!”

“I’m sorry, alright!” Harry shouted defensively. “It’s just an inanimate object, okay? I…I…Oh, bugger!” He covered his face with his hands.

Ron could only shake his head. “Only a matter of time and we’ll get them to light. So let’s get to it.”

Four hours later…

Crucio!!”

“Yes!” Harry shouted, diabolically. “Again!”

Crucio!” Ron screamed with savage glee.

From the kitchen, Ginny could only shake her head as she muttered to herself, “Christmas spirit is definitely lacking this season…What was I thinking? Calling Ron to help is like casting Engorgio on Devil’s Snare.”

She was just about to send a Patronus off to fetch Hermione when a whoosh of green flame exploded from the fireplace.

“A Merry Christmas to all!” Fred announced as he ducked under the mantle and stepped into the sitting room.

“And to all a good night!” George finished as he followed behind his twin.

“Good night?” Ron seethed. “I’ll show you two menaces a good night!”

His wand was out in a flash, stopped only by a slightly less addle-brained Harry. “NO! Don’t kill them yet! See if they can help first; if they can’t, then we feed them to a Horntail!”

“You’re too bloody forgiving, mate!” Ron hissed.

Fred and George both threw their hands up in mock surrender. Then Fred spoke first. “Easy. We’re family. Can’t kill us.”

Ron was shaking with rage. “So’s Aunt Muriel. You really want to use that argument?”

“He’s got a point, George,” Fred added with a smirk.

“True. But do you really think we deserve such a tragic end?” George asked.

“With our dashing charm? Definitely not,” Fred responded.

Harry took three calming breaths. “This really isn’t the time for jokes. Where have you two been? We sent you a Patronus two hours ago! And these bloody lights…”

George rested a calming hand on Harry’s shoulder. “Easy, mate. These are the Unicorn Series; we always had trouble with them. Fred’s fault.”

“My fault? How’s it my fault? You’re the one that was doing the quality testing!”

“Enough!” Harry let out another breath. “Triple W’s still guarantees its products, doesn’t it?”

George looked offended. “Of course.”

“Then help us make these buggers work!” Harry demanded.

Fred and George took off their cloaks, draping them across one of the new wing backed chairs Ginny had only recently purchased during her never ending redecorating of Grimmauld Place. “What’ve you tried so far?”

Ron sighed. “What haven’t we tried?”

Lumos from both ends?” George asked.

“Do you want to Crucio him or should I?” Ron asked.

Harry crossed his arms over his chest. “You’ve earned the right. Go ahead.”

Fred ignored the banter. “Levitate and shake?”

Harry looked at Ron; Ron looked at Harry. “Amazed you didn’t kill them growing up.”

“I came close. Several times,” Ron responded.

Lumos Maximus?” George asked.

Deathly silence.

“Okay,” Fred slowly responded. “We can refund your money; get you a new set…”

“NO!!” Harry and Ron both shouted.

“Then what…”George asked.

Harry cut across him. “I don’t want new ones. These bloody things WILL LIGHT!”

Fred looked sheepishly at Harry. “Mate?”

“What?” Harry snapped.

“There’s a slight problem…” Fred cast his eyes at the floor.

Ron was gob smacked. “You don’t have a clue how to fix these blasted things, do you?”

George raised his hands in a pleading gesture. “Well, we didn’t say that! It’s just…”

“We don’t have a clue how to fix the blasted things,” Fred finished.

Harry stood stock still as every eye turned to him. Everyone was waiting for the room to explode with unintentional magic. But when Harry finally broke the silence, his tone was devoid of emotion. “Roll up your sleeves, gentlemen. We’ve got work to do.”

Three hours later…

Crucio!” George shrilled.

“Again!” Fred shouted with sadistic glee.

In the kitchen, Ginny let out an exasperated sigh. She set a cup of tea in front of Hermione and then collapsed, wearily into a chair across the table from her.

“You should’ve Patronused me earlier.” Hermione lifted her tea and blew on it.

“Don’t start,” Gin responded, curtly.

“How long now?”

“Since this morning.”

“You mean ‘yesterday morning,’” the brown-haired witch corrected, motioning to the clock that had only just struck One.

Ginny frowned and brushed her frazzled hair from her face. “Seventeen hours, now.”

Hermione’s tea splashed out of the cup as she roughly set it on the table. “That long? Ginevra!”

“What was I supposed to do?!” Ginny pleaded. “You know how Harry gets with this kind of thing. He’s completely mental, obsessive even. And gods forbid I call in female help. Men!”

Hermione sighed. Then her attention was drawn back to the sitting room as more shouting and cursing erupted in a heated burst. “Merlin’s blue streak.”

Ginny shot an imploring look across the table at her best friend. “I’m at wits end here. Please, you’ve got to help.”

“Without them knowing?”

Ginny sighed. “That would be preferable. This has really gotten out of hand.”

Hermione stared off in the distance. “Merlin, Gin, I dunno…”

Ginny was desperate. “Hermione, in thirty-eight hours the whole family will be here for the Christmas Eve party. You have to do something!”

Hermione furrowed her brow, cocked her head and then said with conviction, “Bat Bogey Hex.”

“Fine. Which one first? I’d be happy to curse the lot of them at this point.”

Hermione laughed. “Not those gits.”

“Then who?” Gin asked, incredulously.

“The lights, Gin. I’ll need your help on this. You’ve never taught me how to cast it.”

“I Bat Bogey the lights?” Ginny was starting to worry that she was the only sane person left at Grimmauld Place.

Hermione nodded. “I’ll Confund the boys. You hit the lights with the Hex and then we pretend they managed to fix them on their own.”

Ginny let out an exhausted laugh. “Hermione, those idiots have been Crucioing the bloody things for hours with no luck. So, how in Merlin’s name will a simple Bat Bogey Hex fix them?”

Hermione launched into lecture mode. “Crucio is designed to over stimulate the nervous system. Believe it or not, it might actually work if the lights were Muggle-made, as it would send a charge through the wire. But it’s ineffective on magical ones, not that it matters to those geniuses at this point.” Hermione rolled her eyes and then continued. “The Bat Bogey, unless I miss my guess, is based on transfiguration. Somewhere in that cursed strand of lights is a spell that’s, well, ‘disfigured’ is the best word I can come up with. A transfiguration hex should correct it. But it has to be a powerful one. Your signature hex is the only one I can think of that might work.”

Slowly, a relieved smile spread across Ginny’s careworn face. “Hermione, I owe you one. No doubt.”

The brown-haired witch smiled back. “Remember that at the party and keep my glass of wassail full.”

Ginny chortled. “My pleasure.”

Twenty minutes later…

“…and that, lovely ladies, is what the concerted effort of four highly skilled wizards can accomplish.” Fred puffed out his chest and hefted his butterbeer.

They had all gathered in the sitting room. With an aire of smug superiority, the four wizards admired the brilliant glow of the Triple W’s Magical Christmas Lights that were elegantly draped over the fireplace, the banister and the massive twelve-foot tree that adorned the room.

“Really?” Ginny asked. “It wasn’t just a Christmas miracle?”

“Humbug!” Ron shouted and tinked his butterbeer against Harry’s. The wizards shared a hearty laugh at Ron’s joke, as Hermione and Ginny shot knowing glances at each other. “It really is a beautiful tree, mate. Even better than last year’s,” Ron finished.

“That it is.” Harry grinned and wrapped an arm around Ginny’s shoulders. “But not as beautiful as you, love.” He gave her a peck on the cheek.

She melted into his shoulder as she gazed at the lights, welcoming the warm embrace.

Hermione leaned into Ron as she took in the beautiful glow of the decorations. “I never doubted you.”

Ron smiled. Then he shot her a cockeyed grin. “And it was that support that carried me through my time of trouble. The love of a good woman; no substitute for that. Except maybe for my brilliant wand work.”

Fred and George shared a look. Then Fred batted his eyelashes at George. George feigned a swoon. Then Fred summoned up the worst falsetto he could muster. “Oh George! How could I ever exist without your stunning brilliance? Hold me!”

Despite himself, Harry started laughing.

Ron turned bright red, well, redder than normal, at his brothers’ mocking. “Oi! Knock it off. You two are lucky you’re still invited to the party tomorrow.”

Harry smiled at the twins. “He’s got a point. I was ready to hex you two into the New Year.”

“Now, what fun would the party be without us?” Fred asked.

“Honestly,” George added. “We definitely put the ‘Happy’ in ‘Happy Christmas.’”

Ginny eyed her best friend and whispered, “Men.”


Fin

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