A Revelation, in Eight Parts
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Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. I do not own Harry Potter, its characters, or anything associated with it. I'm not making any money from this story, and I don't intend to.
Challenge & Summary: Challenge #54: Hanukah! fic: one of the pups celebrates Hanukah with the other.
Author Notes: Lyrics in italics are from Maoz Tsur-- pronounced "Mah-otz Tsoor," or if you're a goy, "Rahck of Ay-gez." A rambling bunch of inanity dedicated to Sara, the best friend and beta a girl could have--todah rabah, darling-- and to all fellow Jewish Remus/Sirius shippers out there, dreaming of kippah-wearing pups, forever kvetching and loving and being generally silly in a world without unwarranted drapery.
i. maoz tzur y’shuati
“It smells like onions. Why’s it smell like onions?”
“Well. Happy Hanukkah to you, too.”
The sound of keys plunking to polished hardwood floor is heard; a brief succession of tinkling, metallic thumps. The fluid shrug-off of a jacket comes next, also followed by a thump of sorts, though decidedly softer. Remus estimates a good four more seconds before the inevitable is asked—or, rather, demanded. Olive oil is sizzle-crackling sympathetically. He braces himself.
“Hanukkah,” Remus replies, somewhat irritably, an amused smile belying his tone. “Honestly, Padfoot, you can’t be so ignorant as to be unaware of religions besides your own.”
“Ha-nu-kkah.” Sirius tries the new word out on his tongue, rolling it around a bit before licking his lips. “Er,” he says, slowly and deliberately, now standing in the doorway to the kitchen, “it definitely reeks of onions. Whatever it is. Ha-nu-kkah.”
“It’s a holiday, you prat. Shoes out of the kitchen.”
“Holiday? Where’s the mistletoe? Where’s the Christmas Cheer? Where’s the stocki— Merlin’s beard, Moony, what is on your head?”
Remus’s face, already flushed with the heat of the stove, turns several shades darker. He wanted to do it right this year-- all of it, head-covering included. Having missed out on many a Hanukkah his nineteen years of existence, the annual eight days lost somewhere between Hogwarts’s peppermint-y pine needles and Christmas puddings and the whirlwind glory of a holiday season with friends, he decided to make up for lost time. Unfortunately, attempting to achieve anything morally redeeming around Sirius Black is a painfully lost cause, a lesson learned the hard way throughout the exhausting course of many a futile endeavor. Remus wonders faintly when, along the line, he decided he could—wanted to, with his skipped heartbeats and fluttering schoolboy stomach— be an exception to this rule. And what reactions will be elicited by the relatively larger garnishes of the holiday, because honestly, a round piece of fabric. Blue? He takes it off his head, gives it a scrutinizing look, and pats it back on. Royal blue. He blinks.
“Erm,” he says, finally. “Kippah?” It comes out as more of a question than intended. The oil emits a dying sound.
“You’re making kippers?” Sirius scrunches his nose; Remus is reminded briefly of a pug. “I don’t recall kippers smelling of onions. Eugh. I could get take-away instead, y’know. Chinese? Er. Wait, did you say a kipper is on your head?”
“I told you to get your shoes out of the kitchen,” Remus says, or at least tries to. It’s a noncommittal murmuring, somewhat lost in a last desperate attempt from the poor oil to make some form of communication with that which is human life. However, as it begins to doubt the sanity of said human life, it dies. Sizzle-crackles no more. And Remus is forced to flip the simmering potatoes—narrowly escaping a burn of epic proportions—onto nearby paper towels, making a two-second job of a funeral for the oil in the sink. They were Good Olives. They served him well.
“Bloody hell, Remus, you’re—”
“—A werewolf. Yes. Sorry. Thought you already knew. Don’t worry, I don’t bite….”
Throughout this, Sirius pummels onward, open mouth prolonging the two-syllable word to the length Remus’s entire sentence. “—Jewish?”
“…much,” Remus mumbles to himself, finishing his sentence and eyeing Sirius warily. “Quite frankly, Padfoot, I think you reacted with far more self-restraint, not to mention maturity, when you figured out what happens on the full moon.”
“Why didn’t I know this?”
Remus shrugs. “Head in the clouds? I don’t know.” He decides a peace offering is in order. “Latke?”
“La—okay, okay, one new vocabulary word at a time, here. A bloke can only take so much.”
Sirius stalks out. Remus shakes his head.
“Oy, vey,” he mutters, and pours some more oil.
ii. l’cha naeh l’shabeiach
When the sun hits his eyes and he finds the willpower to get up from the comforts of his bed, Remus stumbles in a sleep-induced haze into the kitchen, where he finds Sirius looking, for the first time in his life, uncomfortable in his surroundings.
“Hallo, I made you toast,” he says pseudo-cheerfully, sliding a plateful of the stuff over to the other man.
“’Nks,” Remus murmurs gratefully, yawning hugely and sitting down opposite Sirius. “What’re you looking so fidgety for?”
“Mmgh?” he says around a mouthful of toast and marmalade
“What’s the… your holiday? What is… I was thinking… d’you think you could explain it to me?”
Nearly choking, Remus manages to swallow. “Explain it? To you?”
“Well, yes,” Sirius says, affronted.
“Padfoot, it’d be like sitting through a History of Magic lesson. Trust me, you couldn’t care less—“
“No, no, Moony, but I do!” Sirius exclaims. “I am but your humble student, Professor Lupin. Do with me as you will; teach me the ways of your people,” he continues, grinning, and Remus nearly chokes on his food again. Defeated, he sighs.
“All right. But can I finish my breakfast?”
“Nope, unless you want me staring fixedly at you while you chew.”
“Not at all, Moony, not at all. I’m not using the hols for nothing. I get to sit around all day and intimidate you while you eat, hoping that you’ll do something weird like squirt milk out of your nose on some hapless piece of furniture. I find your eating habits most fascinating.”
“D’you want to hear this or not?”
“By all means, proceed.”
“Right, then,” Remus begins, pushing the plate to the side. For some reason, the idea—of teaching Sirius, of making him a part of the traditions of his upbringing—is slightly intoxicating, and he colors slightly as he clears his throat. “The abridged version, for persons with ADD.”
“So first there’s Alexander the Great, and he’s having fun going around conquering, right?”
“No, that’s not the point—“
“I always knew history was off its rocker, “ Sirius announces, with the air of someone who has just made a discovery vital to the future existence of mankind. “Okay. Continue, Professor.”
“So Alexander conquers Syria, Egypt, and Palestine, but decides to be a nice guy and let the people continue their ways with a fair amount of autonomy; that is, he let them practice their religions. He never forced his own culture on them.”
“Nice of him.”
“I wouldn’t do that if I conquered a country.”
“And this is precisely why I’d never let you do such a thing. So everything is fine and dandy until this guy Antiochus comes around. He’s not nearly as nice a ruler as Alexander was, and he decides to more or less start tyrannizing the Jews.”
“Yes, my people, if you’d like to put it that way. They were massacred, their temple was destroyed, and they were, needless to say, forbidden from practicing Judaism.”
“Well, that’s not very nice.”
“Astute observation, Padfoot.”
“I aim to please.”
“So then there’s this guy named Mattathias, and his son, Judah Maccabee. They form an army—known as the Maccabees—and revolt against Antiochus and his government, ultimately overthrowing it and thus getting their temple back.”
“All that for a bloody temple?”
“Sirius, they were being persecuted.”
“They could’ve just built a new one.”
“No, they couldn’t have. Don’t be daft. And you wanted to hear the story, so quit with the commentary. In any case, as they’re repairing the desecrated temple, they notice that the menorah—it’s like a candelabra, Pads, look the one in the windowsill over there— which is supposed to burn every night throughout the night, has only enough oil left for one day.”
“Yes, uh-oh. So they burn the oil anyway, and then the Miracle of Hanukkah happens.”
“This is getting good.”
“It burns for eight days and eight nights straight.”
“But there was only enough oil for one night.”
There is a silence in which Sirius contemplates and Remus regrets saying anything to begin with.
“Well, if that’s not the biggest load of bollocks I’ve ever heard,” Sirius says finally.
“That’s what we say about a virgin giving birth to the Son of God.”
iii. tikon beit t’filati
There is shrubbery walking into my flat, Remus thinks, and dwells only for a moment on the sense, or lack thereof, of the notion before amending: it is not walking, it is falling.
“Cmmphoohelmphheeoony?” the bush says, sounding uncannily like one Sirius Black.
“Padfoot, would it be safe for me to ask what in Merlin’s name you’re doing?” He pauses. “Trying to do?”
“Nope!” The cheerfully wind-mussed dark hair appears first, followed by a similarly wind-mussed grinning face. “I am helping you to celebrate your holiday,” he announces, sounding for all the world like a boy who just burned his first ant to a crisp with a magnifying glass on a smoldering summer afternoon: immensely pleased with himself. Remus feels just a little like said ant, and it is enough to make him nervously shift his weight from foot to foot exactly four times. Crispy. He raises an eyebrow.
“Do what, now?”
“Cchhanukah,” Sirius enunciates, not deigning to silence the ch, consequently making Remus wince and, recognizing the immeasurably satisfied look, ultimately decide not to bother with the phonetics. For now. At least he is trying. Good intentions. Er.
“Sirius, somehow I don’t think scattering pine needles every which way is doing anything to help me celebrate Hanukkah.” Sirius’s hand digs ominously into his left pocket and returns with a string of something blue and silver and very shiny. Remus is momentarily captivated by the glitter-glitz, and Sirius’s smirk is something very smug and pleased indeed.
“Cchhanukkah bush,” Sirius proclaims with a gratuitous amount of spittle, plunking the mass of pungent pine needles down smack in the middle of the living room floor and charming the string of lights to wrap itself decoratively around it.
It is probably something to do with the semi-correct pronunciation—or at least, that is what Remus tries to tell himself, with a fond smile on his face and a warm feeling from this childish but endearing effort— but in any case, he does not protest.
iv. v’sham todah n’zabeiach
“You don’t pronounce the ‘c’—“
“This is impossible!” Sirius throws his hands up in defeat, bringing them to a fold across his chest in a childish gesture of defiant impatience.
The clock reads 12:04 and Remus calls it a night.
v. l’eit tachin matbeiach
“So what’s tradition got to say about this?”
Sirius is leaning against the doorjamb, arms crossed, watching Remus with a smirk as he piles powdery pastries on a plate from an opened white box.
“Sffgnnt,” Remus says, blushing and not looking up.
“Didn’t anyone ever teach you not to talk with food in your mouth, Moony? Shame.” That annoyingly handsome smirk is still curving Sirius’s lips, and Remus swallows, blushing even more.
“Sufganyot,” he enunciates, licking his lips with what dignity he has left. “Jelly donuts. Remember the oil?”
“From the mah-now-rah? That supposedly burned for eight days and nights?”
“Excellent. Five points to Gryffindor,” Remus says dryly.
“Why, thank you, Professor!” Sirius exclaims, batting his eyelashes. “Anyway, what’s a bunch of donuts got to do with a candleholder, other than I will light one and put it to your head if you don’t let me have at those right now?”
“They’re fried in oil. Just like the latkes I was making before. It all leads back to the Miracle with the oil. So while you goyim are getting fat on Christmas pudding, we Jews are stuffing our faces with grease. Charming tradition, really.”
“Non-Jews,” Remus says smugly, putting another donut in his mouth. “Sufganya?”
“Who what, now? Er. I’ll take a donut, thanks. Or six.”
Sirius sits opposite Remus at the table, and the two gorge themselves on calories until Sirius’s curiosity gets the better of him, and he starts in on the awkwardly personal interrogations.
“So… Moony… about this… being Jewish.”
“You never actually explained why you didn’t say anything to us.”
Remus sighs, brushing his hands off over the table. The look Sirius is giving him is completely earnest, and Remus wants nothing more than to tell him everything. There is many a vacillation, belied by his calm face, but he ultimately figures that people like the man sitting across from him are the reason self-respect has been easier to come by, along with the capability to cope, and he takes a deep breath, letting go.
“I don’t really know where to start. I mean. I do. It’s not a big long rambling story, and it may sound foolish, but… being a—what I am… well, being different in any respect besides that kind of killed me. When I came to Hogwarts, I thought that maybe, if I could just keep everything quiet, I could… fit in.”
“Moony, you are so full of sh—“
“But it worked!” Remus says, eyes flashing. “It worked. God, Padfoot, I had friends for the first time, friends who cared, friends who weren’t Dark creatures and social outcasts and… haha, well, Jews. And I thought, well, anything to keep them, you know? And… that was the end of that.”
Sirius is silent, taking in the picture of the semi-flustered man, a little too thin and a little too tired and in need of a bit of a haircut, and doesn’t push him anymore, resisting the urge to hug him and never let go, and instead—
“You’ve got a bit of… on your mouth. No, here, let met get it.”
He reaches out to wipe away the sticky white powder from the corner of Remus’s mouth, holding his finger to the spot a little longer than necessary and smiles, conveying words that don’t need to be said but are understood, tacitly and between two friends of the closest nature.
vi. mitzar ham’nabeiach
“So are you sure you have all of this?”
“Nun is nothing, gimmel is all, hey is half, and shin is put back.”
“Pretty good for a shaigitz.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, so what’s this called again?”
“You people have the weirdest words.”
“I mean it! All your ich-ing and utz-ing and sch-ing is enough to drive a bloke mad.”
“Proud of it.”
vii. az egmor b’shir mizmor
The seventh and second-to-last night falls, inexplicably, on the full moon, the drama of which Sirius finds intriguing and Remus finds altogether rather irksome. The candles won’t be lit, he explains, feeling guilty all the while.
“Aw, Moony, ‘s not as if it’s your fault or anything.” Remus raises an eyebrow. “I’m sure you’ll be… forgiven, or whatever—you’re an exception, aren’t you? Being what you are. Is there a Ghost of Chanukah?”
“Pads, if you can’t pronounce it correctly, just say it with an h—“
“Well, is there?”
Remus sighs, more than a little tired of this—the questions, the inability to answer without feeling utterly foolish in the presence of this uncultured man who can’t pronounce anything foreign beyond French expletives, much less words involving the back of his throat, and despite Remus’s extensive and more or less accurate knowledge regarding his religion, the feeling of inferiority—of not impressing, of not living up to a standard whose enigmatic criteria is tacitly obligatory for Cool People Everywhere-- never quite dissipates. Sirius’s eyes, unwavering in their gaze, glowing with some strength not allowing one to look anywhere else but rather forcing one to ponder their subtle and unfathomable glory, are not helping the situation in the slightest, and—
“No,” is what he manages after what he later realizes was, embarrassingly, a bit of an awkward silence. “No, there’s not, this is nothing like Christmas, and there’s no such thing as A Hanukkah Carol. Hanukkah is actually the least important of the Jewish holidays, as some would be surprised to learn.”
“Huh,” Sirius says—Remus is beginning to feel more than a little uncomfortable what with the undivided attention-- sounding genuinely fascinated. Sirius looks at something on the floor, while Remus breathes an inaudible sigh of what could be described as relief, with something unnamed and cold mixed in, and he barely hears what Sirius mutters.
“Er. I could, you know. Do it for you. And then meet you at the Shack,” Sirius repeats, somewhat sheepishly. Remus lapses into momentary silence, thinking.
“Well… typically, all members of the… of the fam—household should be present,” he begins, pink rushing to his cheeks against his will.
“Can’t we bend the rules? All part and parcel of modern religious celebration, I say—and anyway, it’s that or it’s not getting it done, eh? Which is worse?”
“…Right. Yes, okay.”
“You’ll have to teach me how.”
“How to—oh, right. Yes, of course.” He moves to the window where the brass menorah, a little wax-covered and a little tarnished, sits tiredly, as if stuffed with candles one too many times.
“You’ll meet me at the Shack after?” Remus asks, hating how childish he sounds, so in need of verification and comfort. Not turning around, he’s methodically running his fingers over each individual candleholder, the patterns engraved in the base, the dried, cold wax around the edges. He jumps a bit when the answer is right in his ear—wasn’t he just on the couch? — low and comforting.
“I’ve never missed one yet, Moony,” and even though he has—only a few, nothing Sirius could do anything about, not one he hasn’t made up for in one way or another afterward the manner in which it is spoken inspires confidence enough, and Remus, smiling a little, believes him.
“So this one, here in the middle, is called the Shamash…”
viii. chanukat hamizbeiach
When Remus wakes for the second time—the first was on a frigid, damp floor, with Padfoot’s cold slobber in a pool on his naked belly—it is warm in his bed, with the smell of tea and the faint aroma of dark chocolate percolating the air.
He turns his head, sleep still fogging his vision, and his eyes meet hazily with the image of Sirius, kneeling beside the bed, devouring a good portion of the remaining gelt from their miserably unsuccessful dreidel game.
“G’morning, sunshine,” he says through the chocolate, and inclines his head toward the steaming mug on the nightstand. He swallows. “Made you tea. Peppermint. Hope you don’t mind. Peppermint’s s’posed to wake you up, see, and I wanted you to wake up, because I needed—I figured out—well, it’s, you know? Yes. Well. Wake-up time, anyway, and—“ he looks at the clock,” –will you look at that, it’s the afternoon, ahaha, oh gods, my arse is sore from sitting here.”
Remus blinks, still immensely sleepy. “Er.”
“Haha. I mean. Well, I’ve been sitting here a little… while—“
“Sirius,” Remus says, “did you—did you bring me back at dawn?”
“Have you been sitting here, watching me sleep, since dawn?”
“Drink up!” Sirius suddenly exclaims, the mug suddenly, inexplicably in his hands, shoving it at Remus, who is now fully awake.
“Chocolate, too. Here.” Sirius takes an already unwrapped piece of gelt and thrusts it against Remus’s lips, which reluctantly open to accept the candy.
“Sirius,” Remus says, after he’s swallowed.
“…I don’t know. But what are you on about?”
Sirius laughs a bit, grunts in the back of his throat, and mumbles a response.
“Fuck, Moony, I don’t know. Moony. Remus. Moony. I—I’ve been sitting here. And watching you—look, just bloody shut up, yes, keep chewing, here’s another—and, well, I was thinking. . I know I don’t think too much, haha, but I guess this has been eating away at me for a while, and I was watching you, right, and it all just sort of—well, it—fuck, I’m so inarticulate, and this week. With your holiday. I… this has been… I mean, I’ve lived with you for over a year now—well, much more than that, considering school, which is where I guess this all started. I mean. Well, yes, I suppose maybe even since the first day I met you, but, fuck, this isn’t coming out right at all, am I making any sense? No, don’t even answer that. Keep eating your chocolate. I’ve loved celebrating—you know what, I’m not even going to try to pronounce it—this thing with you. I’ve felt like I’ve almost become closer to you, with this, because I’m doing something that little Moony did as a kid, and you’ve never really spoken much of your childhood, you know? But Moony… fuck, what it all comes down to is— is—why are you grinning at me?”
“Out with it, Sirius, you bloody meshuggeneh, or I am going to shove this chocolate down your throat. Is it that difficult to make a love confession, especially when it’s painfully obvious that the other feels the same? All you say is, I am utterly, hopelessly, ridiculously in fucking love with you, Remus Lupin, and then—“
Sirius kisses him, hard, morning breath and chocolate and spilled peppermint tea and schoolboy nerves and gaucherie and perfection.
“You see,” Remus murmurs breathlessly against his mouth sometime later, “what would you do without me to translate your inane babble?”
“Wither and die,” is the response, hot breath and husky tone and affectionate annoyance. “Meshuggeneh. Now stop talking, for once in your life. I hate when you think and talk too much. It’s—mmm…”
It is, they later decide, lighting all nine candles for all the world— or at least all of London—to see, their free hands entwined as they say the blessings together, a very happy Hanukkah indeed.
With or without the ch.