A/N: OK, this is just a little oneshot I wrote as a sort of Christmas present for Emperor Sunny, whose stories I've been betaing. (Check them out, they're great!) This is a little Christmas thing based in his "world". So for an explanation of any characters you don't know, check out his story "The Twins Potter." But it should make sense regardless. This is really just a bit of fluff, and a lot of it is based on my own Christmas experience, such as the invitations, so it was pretty fun to write. So a big thanks to Emperor Sunny! If anyone is actually still reading my other story, "Consequences of Change", first of all I'd like to apologise for the appalling wait, and secondly, I should have at least one chapter (hopefully more) out by the end of feb.
Anyway, read on and, hopefully, enjoy!
Christmas at the Burrow
Sixteen year old James Dean Potter stepped out of the floo with no small amount of trepidation. Christmas at the Burrow was always chaotic, but no doubt this year would be even more explosive than the last, explosive being the key word. Knowing his brothers were following behind, he took a deep breath and stepped forward. The sight that greeted him was nothing less than pure havoc. Fred and George were cackling delightedly as they threw a garden gnome back and forth in the living room, several wet-start, no-heat fireworks zooming around their heads.
James gave the room a quick scan, curious as to why Molly Weasley had yet to put a halt to their fun. The answer was soon clear. A large table had been set up along the length of the room, with Fleur Delacour-soon-to-be-Weasley at the head, directing a veritable production line involved in attaching dimantes and making bows of ribbon for the one hundred and thirty hand-made wedding invitations. At one end, surrounded by reams of ribbon and cardboard, Ginny was cutting pieces of ribbon at exact intervals, while Hermione next to her was meticulously folding the edges in to meet the middle, with a second, contrasting colour overlayed on top. The two girls were obviously working against their wills, judging by their furious scowls and Ginny's angry shouts that "five point two centimetres was bloody well good enough!" The ribbon was passed along to Molly next, who, in between half rising from her chair to yell at the twins, was wrapping a smaller piece of ribbon around the bows to create the centre. Arthur was next, carefully sticking the little bows to the invitations before passing them to a heavily scowling Ron.
James had to bite back a laugh at this point. It seemed that while Fleur may have been able to charm Ron into helping, not even she could force him to enjoy it. Ron was glaring furiously at the cardboard invitation as he carefully lined up a piece of patterned pink paper to meet the corners. Fleur was hovering over his shoulder, exclaiming loudly that "non, non, non! Ze edge ees too crooked! Again, again!" Ron seemed to be very seriously considering shoving the cardboard up her nose. James wondered idly if the table would ever be cleared for dinner.
Turning back to the fireplace, he realised that all three of his brothers, their parents, and Emma had all emerged, each looking equally dumbstruck at the sight before them. Just then, Molly happened to glance their way, and within seconds, both Lily and Em had been enlisted into the invitation making team, gluing different sized dimantes onto the places outlined on the cardboard. At Ginny's pointed glare, Harry quickly went over to join her, nervously picking up a roll of ribbon as Ginny showed him where to cut. Before he could be dragged into the mess, James Dean, followed closely by Travis and Brian, escaped to the back porch, where they found Charlie, Bill and Remus drinking firewhiskey.
"If anyone asks, we're discussing extremely important Order plans," Bill said with a wink to the three boys. James noticed that each of them were standing well away from the window, where they could be called upon to help.
"So, is dinner ready at least, or do we have to wait for them to finish before we even start cooking?" Brian asked, grabbing a bottle of Butterbeer from the esky and throwing one to James and Travis.
Charlie shook his head. "Mum finished the cooking this morning. We're eating at two, after we open presents."
"Right, just after Tania gets here," Bill said, directing a teasing grin at Charlie. Charlie gave him a light-hearted shove, nearly sending him toppling off his perch on the porch railing.
"Who's Tania?" Travis asked in confusion.
"Charlie's new gurrlfriend. Though we're still not sure she really exists, since none of us have ever met her," Bill laughed, dodging Charlie's out swept foot. Remus attempted to cover his smile with his glass.
Charlie opened his mouth, presumably to defend himself, when an almighty shriek came from inside the house. On edge due to the current state of the world, they each drew their wands and hurried inside.
James burst into the living room, his wand raised threateningly as the others crowded in behind. Taking in the scene, he slowly lowered his wand, trying valiantly not to laugh. Fleur was staring in horror at what James could only assume had once been her new bridal veil. It was now in tatters, having been hit by one of the twins' Katherine Wheel fireworks, which was spluttering along half-heartedly behind her. As Bill and Lily attempted to calm Fleur, and Molly screamed at Fred and George, the others decided that now would be an ideal time to check on dinner. Only eight invitations were unfinished, and everyone was anxious to open their presents and eat.
"Don't know what she's so upset about," James muttered to Brian as they hurried past the commotion, shooting Fred and George covet thumbs up behind their mothers' backs. "If you ask me, it looks much better now. Did you see the lace monstrosity before?"
Brian grinned, ducking slightly to avoid another stray firework. Dodging yet another, James shared a commiserating glance with Harry, still stuck at the table. He mimed a whipping motion as Harry grimaced, discreetly flipping him the bird when he was sure neither Ginny, Hermione, or his mother were watching.
James merely grinned.
"They've been working on those invites since seven this morning," Charlie, seeing what had caught James' attention, confided to the boys as they entered the kitchen. "Fleur is pedantic about the placement of the dimantes, and the perfect way to make the bows. And then we discovered the trial ones had spelt her name wrong. Quite funny, really, since I don't have to do them. Though Hermione had to stop Ginny from Bat Bogeying Fleur earlier. Too bad, really. Ginny's been practicing."
By the time the invites were done and the presents opened, it was nearing three o'clock, and though Charlie's elusive girlfriend had yet to show up, Molly decided it was time to serve lunch. All of those under twenty one were seated at one end of the table with the adults at the other, and conversation and Butterbeer were flowing freely. The Hogwarts students (James Dean, Travis, Brian, Em, Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny) were listening to Fred and George recount some of their finest pranks, James and the others occasionally chiming in with stories of their own.
"We were in grade three, I think," Fred said.
"No, four, definitely four," George argued.
"Whatever," Fred dismissed. "The point was, we were still in Muggle primary school, and we had this teacher."
"Nasty old bat."
"But very strict. Proper-like. Took great pride in her appearance, she did."
"Never a hair out of place. Anyway, we decided to play a little joke."
"A harmless little prank, really. Totally mild."
"Right, nothing permanent at all. What we did, was, we cast a little spell on her skirt..."
"Kiddy stuff, really. The spell Mum used to do on us whenever we'd forget to undo our zips before pulling our jumpers off and they'd get stuck on our head."
"So for about an hour, this zip is slowly working its way down, with her none the wiser. Then, she's standing up in front of everyone, feels, that it's a little off–"
"Probably thought it was stuck in her undies, or something–"
"-So she gives it a tug, and the whole thing comes straight down. Funniest thing I've ever seen. She was standing behind her desk, so she ducked straight down, but she was absolutely mortified."
"It was classic," Fred finished.
The others were nearly bursting themselves laughing, though Hermione seemed equally horrified as amused, when they heard the characteristic whoosh of the floo, and a small witch with blond hair fell out of the grate.
Charlie jumped forward to help her up as the table burst into a frenzy of whispering.
"So this is Tania!"
"She looks so tiny next to Charlie."
"Hey Harry, she's almost as bad at flooing as you!"
"I wonder what she does for a living, Charlie's told us absolutely nothing about her!"
Ignoring the buzzing from the table, Charlie brought Tania forward to the head of the table where Arthur and Molly sat.
"These are my parents, and this is..." he trailed off, eyes sweeping the crowded table. "Everyone else. Take a seat."
Unfortunately, the only seat left was between Charlie and George, and the twins immediately started in on their newest victim.
"So, Tania, is it?" one asked. "Can't say we've heard too much about you, why is that, I wonder?"
"Just what exactly are your intentions towards young Charles here?" asked the other, affecting a posh accent.
"You are aware he tames dragons for a living, aren't you? Dangerous job, that. Do you think you can handle it?" Brian added.
"Although you know what they say about Dragon tamers, hey Charlie?" James joked, exchanging a wicked grin with George, as Charlie squirmed uncomfortably in his seat. "Very…passionate lot, aren't they?" he finished suggestively, ignoring the smack Emma aimed at his head.
"Do you want kids? How many?" George asked.
"You know the Weasley's always have big families, and they like to start early. Twelve kids, you wanted wasn't it, Charlie?" James was looking earnestly at Tania, who was wearing a look somewhat reminiscent of being on the receiving end of one of Luna's mad theories. That is to say, she was rather overwhelmed.
"How long before the wedding?"
They were firing off questions faster than she could handle them, with the rest of the table occasionally joining in the good natured ribbing.
Charlie turned to Tania with an apologetic look, shoving away the notebook Fred had conjured and was diligently scribbling his observations into.
"Not very talkative, are you?" Fred mused, glancing lowering a pair of conjured spectacles. "Got something to hide, have you?"
"Don't mind my family, they're all mad," Charlie said, aiming a swift kick at Fred's leg.
"Oh, don't worry about it, my parents were first cousins."
Tania's announcement cut off Fred's yelp of indignation, as the entire table went silent, nobody particularly sure how to take this seemingly random comment.
"Oh gross," Ron said, ever tactful. "Gin, that's like you marrying cousin Brian! You know, the one with the terrible breath who thinks he's Merlin's gift to women?"
In a rare moment of sympathy for Tania, who had turned Weasley red under everyone's scrutiny, the twins leapt at the opening.
"Ooh, I can see it now. Little Ginny-kins and cousin Brian, walking down the aisle. Looks like Harry's got some competition!"
"He's a head shorter than me!" Ginny protested.
"Isn't he the one who wears his pants up to his armpits?" James asked, smirking at Ginny's appalled expression.
"Can you imagine their kids? Brian's not the smartest tool in the shed as it is..."
"If you're suggesting that – "
Ginny's indignant exclamation was cut short at Hermione's sharp intake of breath. In an attempt to divert the conversation, Hermione had grabbed an invitation to show Tania. Halfway back to the table, she had gasped and quickly pulled all one hundred and thirty finished invitations from the box, searching through them frantically.
"What?" Fleur asked, half rising from her seat.
"There's – there's no date," Hermione whispered, her face a mask of horror.
"I was just reading through the top one, and it – it doesn't have the date of the wedding! None of them do!"
"You've got to be kidding me!" Ginny cried, moving around the table to peer over Hermione's shoulder. James didn't even try to fight back the grin threatening to break free, and burst out laughing at their expressions of horror.
"Do you mean," he asked, suppressing his chuckle. "That all of those invites – hours of work – they're all useless?"
"But we double checked them!" Ginny seemed to be in shock. "I checked them, Fleur checked them, Mum checked them, Hermione checked them! How did we miss that?"
"We looked for mistakes in the spelling, not things that weren't written at all." Molly, too, seemed to be in shock. Fleur had buried her face in her arms,
"It's all right," Lily said placatingly. "We can fix it, it's alright. We'll make a little attachment to hang off on a little piece of ribbon. It'll look charming!"
Having succeeded in getting Fleur to raise her head, Molly and Lily began drawing little diagrams on the serviettes, as Hermione and Emma searched through the kitchen draws for more ribbon, unearthing another two fireworks along the way.
Wrapping an arm around Ginny's waist, Harry said idly, "When we get married, we're making the invitations with magic."
Watching his brother's face go red as he realised what he had said, Ginny looking up at him in wide-eyed shock, James Dean scanned the room. As Harry stumbled over an explanation as to why he was considering wedding details when they had only been dating two months., his father, Arthur and Remus were examining a musical Santa doll Lily had given Arthur while it belted out Christmas Carols. Molly was yelling at Bill to serve the Plum pudding, while Bill was attempting to place another firework down the back of Charlie's top. Charlie, meanwhile, was trying to convince Tania that "of course his family liked her." Em and Hermione had been pulled into an indoor snowball fight with Travis and Brian, and the twins had just succeeded in breaking the vase Molly's Aunty Muriel had sent over that very morning, with something that looked suspiciously like a Lightsaber. And as he aimed his own snowball at Bill's unsuspecting head, James Dean decided that though Christmas at the Burrow was always somewhat mad, it just wouldn't be Christmas any other way.