Full of Christmas Cheer
Author: Kates Brain
Archiving: All FQF will be archived solely at this site until January 30th, 2005. After that, it's yours to do with as you will.
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 #16: Sirius didn't get Remus's permission before putting both of their names on the Christmas gift they give Harry in OotP. Remus is not happy about this. (Kudos to therearenonames for noticing that Remus and Sirius seem to be avoiding each other on Christmas Day in OotP, but I'd like to imagine that it's because of something recent rather than because of something years ago.) Umbridge's crusade has left Remus feeling tense and reactive, which isn't the best of moods when he wants to discuss something that he's managed to avoid for over twenty years.
Author Notes: Thanks to Sue and Lee for the beta. Sections indicated are taken from Order of the Phoenix (OotP).
It had been a long day for Remus; he had been doing work for the Order, and he was tired. To add to his strained mood, that day he had found out about a new piece of legislation which had been passed by the Wizengamot at Delores Umbridge’s urging. As if it wasn’t hard enough trying to make his way as a werewolf, Umbridge had to make his life even more difficult. It also touched on a subject that already left him feeling insecure as it was. But it could have one useful side effect, he reasoned. Maybe it would finally give him the opportunity to let slip his sexual orientation to Sirius; Remus had realised a long time ago, but he had never felt comfortable enough to mention it, owing to the nature of his feelings towards Sirius.
When he arrived at Grimmauld Place, he found Sirius sprawled half-dressed in the living room, humming to himself and happily wrapping presents. Ignoring Sirius’s state of undress, Remus felt grateful--yet also guilty that he was stampeding over Sirius’s good mood--to have someone willing to listen to him as he began his tirade.
“Remus, calm down.”
“That...woman is so damn infuriating!”
“What’s the old dragon done now?”
“Passed yet another bloody restriction on werewolves. This time, if I actually manage to get a job in the Wizarding World, I’ve got to wear this,” Remus said as he thrust a palm-sized, pink and black badge into Sirius’s hands, “so all those who come into contact with me are aware of the…risk.”
“The risk to whoever I’m working for. Say, for example, I’m working in a shop, and I happen to serve someone who later finds out I’m a werewolf. Technically, they can sue the shop keeper for exposing them to a dark creature; if I wear the badge, then they can’t sue.”
“Sue?” Sirius spluttered. “You can sue someone for not publicly announcing the personal details of their staff?”
Remus nodded. “It’s something that seems to have rubbed off from the Muggle world. You can now sue and be sued for almost anything, as long as you have a good enough lawyer. Madam Puddifoot found that out yesterday, when she was dragged into the Ministry for ‘exposing the public’ to a waiter who’s a werewolf; she didn’t even know herself.” He stopped for a moment to run his hands distractedly through his hair. “I hate the idea of having to wear that... that thing.”
Sirius turned the badge over in his hands. “This symbol; I recognise it from somewhere...”
“Star of David. It’s on the Muggle flag of Israel; it’s a symbol of the Muggle religion of Judaism.”
“Why is it pink and black?”
“Someone’s idea of a joke, I guess. It represents just how much of an outcast I really am.” Remus let out a bitter laugh. “It goes back to the second Muggle world war. Basically, all those that didn’t fit in with the German ideal at the time were removed from society, sent to prison and later placed in concentration camps. They used different coloured triangles to show what sort of a prisoner you were.”
“But this is a star...”
“It’s made up of two triangles. The black one underneath was used for women who committed certain anti-social behaviours--”
“Well, you’re certainly no lady, Remus!”
“I’m so grateful that you’ve pointed that out to me,” Remus said dryly, “because I really wasn’t sure.” Sirius snickered at the sarcasm, and Remus continued. “These triangles are now the symbols for werewolves because we are seen by the Ministry as a minority group that has a ‘tendency towards anti-social behaviour’.”
“And what did the Germans use the pink triangle for?”
“That one... well, that denoted homosexuality.”
Sirius couldn’t help but let out a bark of laughter, and Remus winced at the reaction. But he supposed it probably was funny to Sirius, who had no idea just how close to the mark the pink triangle actually was. Well, he’d be finding out soon enough.
Remus glared at him. “Thanks for the sympathy, Sirius.”
“Sorry, but I can’t help it. They’re using symbols that denote women and homosexuality for werewolves. That is just... You’re right; it’s definitely someone’s idea of a joke. Remus, you might as well find the amusement in it: there’s nothing you can do to change things right now.” Sirius held out the parcel he had been wrapping. “Here, take your mind off of it for now. Sign this present for Harry.”
“What are you talking about? I haven’t got any present for Harry,” Remus said, startled at the sudden change in conversation that Sirius had prompted, dismayed that his perfect opening had been so quickly swept away, and even more disheartened at Sirius’s apparent lack of understanding.
“The books. You know; the ones I asked you to buy a couple of weeks back.”
“Don’t be silly. They’re from you.”
“But you went out and bought them for me. If it hadn’t been for you, Harry wouldn’t have a present at all,” Sirius said as he looked over the badge one more time before handing it back to Remus. Remus stared down at it, hating it and all that it represented--including all that went unspoken regarding his ever-present feelings towards Sirius. “I paid for it; you went to the shop to get it. It’s a present from us.”
Us... If only, Remus thought. But there is no ‘us’. He felt his frustration at the world surge inside him once more.
“You managed all right without me when it came to buying Harry’s Firebolt,” Remus snapped, knowing that he was overreacting but unable to hold back his misdirected venom. He stood up and made his way to the door. “It’s your present to your godson, Sirius. Don’t involve me.” His voice cracked slightly, and he struggled to keep up his tone of conviction. “I don’t want to get in the way of that. Besides, he’ll think it odd if an ex-teacher suddenly starts buying him presents.”
Remus paused, his hand resting on the door handle. “Yes?”
“Would you rather be at home and away from all of this?”
At the worried expression on Sirius’s face, Remus softened. “No, of course not. It’s... nice to spend time here...with you. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have snapped. I’m just not feeling one hundred percent today.”
“It’s okay; I understand. And Moony,” Sirius said, smiling warmly, “it’s good to have you here, too.”
Sirius’s delight at having the house full again, and especially at having Harry back, was infectious. He was no longer their sullen host of the summer; now he seemed determined that everyone should enjoy themselves as much, if not more than they would have done at Hogwarts, and he worked tirelessly in the run-up to Christmas Day, cleaning and decorating with their help, so that by the time they all went to bed on Christmas Eve the house was barely recognisable. -- OotP
It took a couple of days for Remus’s tension to dissipate, but the arrival of the Daily Prophet on Christmas day soon changed that. Umbridge now had another piece of werewolf legislation that she wanted to push through. This one would mean that all werewolves would have to wear the mark permanently when in public--whether they were at work or not.
He kept quiet for most of the morning, mulling over the news, while the others bustled around him in the living room. The sound of laughter, mindless chatter, and wrapping paper being enthusiastically torn from the remaining presents filled the room. But inside, he was still fuming, about Umbridge, badges, pink triangles, and for still feeling the way he did towards Sirius after all these years and yet being unable to even say the words “I’m gay”. He was brought out of his internal moping by the realisation that Harry had just spoken to him.
“I’m sorry, Harry; I wasn’t paying attention. What did you say?”
“Thank you for the present.”
It took Remus by surprise. The last thing he expected was to have a thank you from Harry for a Christmas present. He stared back at Harry, blankly.
“The books,” Harry prompted, “that you and Sirius bought for me.”
Remus gave a strained smile and said a quick, “You’re welcome,” before making his way out of the room, claiming that he was going to check on how the dinner was progressing.
So not even Sirius gives a damn about what I think, when it comes down to it, Remus thought as he made his way downstairs. He knew that he was just being silly, but he still needed a few moments alone to steady his nerves so he was less likely to overreact the next time he spoke to Sirius. After all, he knew it wasn’t Sirius whom he was really angry at; it was Umbridge.
He didn’t realise that Sirius was behind him until he went to close the kitchen door and had nearly shut it in Sirius’s face. Seeing his friend standing there and looking completely clueless about what he had done, Remus felt his hackles rise immediately.
“What’s up, Moony?”
“Don’t give me that. You’re still angry about that news report.” Sirius looked up at him with those expressive grey eyes, eyes that were filled with concern. “Look, it might not happen. There seems to be a lot more people against this one, or at least who are neutral about it. The last one was only pushed through by all of those employers who wanted to find a way to avoid being sued. This one just doesn’t have the same sort of support.”
“Well, I can still feel angry about it, can’t I?” Remus busied himself on one side of the kitchen. Everything seemed in order, but he continued to tinker with the food, wishing that Sirius would leave him alone and go back upstairs.
“You were all right ten minutes ago. What’s got you all hyped up about it again? Have you been stewing over it? Believe me, the Ministry won’t do this; they can’t…it’s ridiculous! As much as they want to keep people like Umbridge happy, they won’t let this happen. The Ministry will have to listen to the Werewolf Support Services over this one, and they don’t want werewolves to have to go through this sort of shit.”
“Sirius, even you can’t be bothered to give a damn how I feel; why should anyone at the Ministry care?” Remus practically shouted, knowing that he needed to calm down and wishing he could just send Sirius away there and then.
“What are you talking about?”
“That bloody present I told you I didn’t want to sign,” he automatically snapped. He hadn’t wanted to say anything of the sort; he knew it was petty. But it was too late now. And now that he’d started, he couldn’t seem to stop. “Hasn’t Harry got enough on his mind, without you unwittingly giving him an opportunity for more things to confuse him?”
“You don’t think that he might find it odd that we’ve got him a present… together?”
Sirius screwed his face up in puzzlement. Then a moment later, a dawning light appeared. “Oh!” He started to chuckle. “You’re still taking that pink triangle personally. You can’t really believe that Harry would think something like that? You and me!”
Sirius’s chuckles turned into a full belly laugh. Seeing him being so dismissive did nothing to abate the surge of emotion inside Remus.
“Yes, because that would be so funny!” he snapped, sarcasm dripping from his lips.
The instant he said it, he realised what he had done and saw the instantaneous frown on Sirius’s face. Remus had sounded just like a child, sulking because he couldn’t get his way, and he felt mortified that not only had he just let his secret of over twenty years slip but that he had done it in such a pathetic way. Giving Sirius one last awkward glance, he fled from the kitchen, going back to the living room, where he could avoid talking to Sirius.
When Mrs Weasley mentioned visiting St. Mungo’s that afternoon, Remus didn’t hesitate in offering to be a part of the escort, and over the next few days, he continued to keep himself to himself as much as possible, still feeling humiliated over how he felt and how badly he had dealt with it. Part of him knew he should apologise, but Remus wasn’t prepared to initiate any further conversation just yet: he had already said far more than he had intended. As far as he was concerned, if Sirius wanted to talk, then it was up to him--it wasn’t as if Remus was completely inaccessible.
[Sirius’s] cheerfulness was evaporating fast now that Christmas was over. As the date of their departure back to Hogwarts drew nearer, he became more and more prone to what Mrs Weasley called ‘fits of the sullens’, in which he would become taciturn and grumpy, often withdrawing to Buckbeak’s room for hours at a time. His gloom seeped through the house, oozing under doorways like some noxious gas, so that all of them became infected by it. -- OotP
In the end, it was Remus who initiated conversation between them.
The evening before Harry was due to return to Hogwarts, Remus arrived at Grimmauld Place to hear that Harry was going to receive Occlumency lessons with Severus Snape. Arthur Weasley didn’t hesitate to give Remus a full description of what he had walked in on earlier: Sirius and Snape at each other’s throats, with Harry caught in the middle as he tried to separate them. Sirius had already refused to say anything about it to Arthur, and so Remus reluctantly volunteered. He found Sirius in the attic with Buckbeak, sulking.
Poking his head around the door, he asked hesitantly, “Is it all right if I come in?”
Sirius grunted an affirmative, and Remus silently closed the door behind him before sitting on the floor, a couple of feet away from Sirius.
“I heard that you had a run-in with Snape earlier.”
“He said something about James...” Sirius gave Buckbeak a half-hearted pat and looked up at Remus. “What the hell is Albus doing, getting Snivellus to teach Harry Occlumency?”
“Albus can’t do it himself; you know that. And there is no one else who can be trusted.”
“As if I’d ever be able to trust Snape.”
“He might still be an arsehole at heart, but he’s not about to turn Harry over to Voldemort.”
“Doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
“But you don’t have to be so reactive, either. Have you thought about the danger you put Harry in? Or how difficult it could make things for him at school if he chooses to follow your example regarding Snape?”
“Of course, you’re all concerned with what’s going through Harry’s head at the moment, aren’t you!” Sirius glared at Remus, but the heat soon dissipated from his eyes. “I’m sorry, Moony.”
“No, you’re right,” Remus conceded. “I guess I wasn’t really thinking about Harry’s wellbeing the other day. But I am now. Harry needs to learn Occlumency, and you want him to be able protect himself, don’t you?” Sirius nodded. “It wouldn’t take much to provoke Snape into refusing to give Harry lessons. You can’t risk that happening.”
“But...he’s... he’s going to get inside Harry’s head; he’s going to find out things about my godson. I know so little about Harry as it is, and now that slimy git gets to know even more about him than I do. It’s not fair, Remus; I’ve missed out on so much of his life.”
Sirius was right: it wasn’t fair, but it was necessary. Remus smiled sympathetically, trying to think of some way that he could help.
Sirius continued. “And Snivellus knows exactly which strings to tweak to get a reaction out of me. I just... I want to pummel his head into the floor whenever he opens that mouth of his and spits out yet another venomous remark.”
“I can deal with him in future if you’d like: speak to him on your behalf about anything that involves Harry.”
“Thanks. He’d just better treat Harry right. I’m so worried that Snape is going to leave Harry in a state. He doesn’t give a stuff about the boy. I wish I was there--at Hogwarts--with him, whenever he needs me.”
“Wait here a moment.” Remus disappeared from the room briefly and then returned carrying a small package. As Remus unwrapped it, Sirius saw that the package contained a pair of mirrors. “Do you remember these? They’re the two-way mirrors that you and James had at school. We found them at Godric’s Hollow after James died, and I was keeping them for Harry.” He handed them over to Sirius. “You should keep one and give one to Harry; then he’d be able to contact you at any time. Just don’t tell Molly--she probably won’t approve of Harry using them.”
“Thanks, Moony.” Sirius looked them over with a huge smile on his face. “I can’t believe these have survived for so long; James and I certainly put them through the mill on several occasions... I’ll give Harry one of them in the morning before he leaves.”
“Just promise me you’ll try not to overreact in front of Harry in future?” Remus asked, standing up and making his way to the door, with the intention of taking himself to bed.
“We all overreact at times, Remus, in our own ways. Even you,” he said pointedly.
Remus stilled, and he cast his gaze to the floor. “I’m sorry I spoke so sharply to you on Christmas Day. All that business with Umbridge left me feeling oversensitive about...things.”
“Can I look at your badge, again?” Sirius asked. Remus walked across the floorboards to sit back down, and he passed the badge over to Sirius. “I thought you were just being paranoid about that gay symbol you have to wear; I never realised why that might be the case.” Sirius turned the badge over in his hands, looking at it. “How long have you felt like this?”
“Since the last couple of years at school,” Remus admitted. He shifted awkwardly on the floor, hoping that Sirius wouldn’t mind being the subject of his affections for so long.
“Bloody hell!” Sirius looked at him appraisingly. “And you never said anything?”
“I was too scared that you’d run a mile.”
“Well, I haven’t turned tail on you, now, have I?”
“You didn’t have to; I’ve managed to do that for you over the past few days.” Remus gave a weak laugh as he said this. “Seriously, the Muggle world was quite homophobic at the time, and that was being reflected in the Wizarding world, too. I wasn’t sure where any of you stood on the subject as a whole, and I wasn’t about to bring it up myself.”
“You know what I’m like; I probably would’ve treated it as another adventure. And it would have given me another way to piss my brother off!”
“Really?” Remus was stunned to think that if he had only been brave enough to speak up all those years ago, things could have been so different between him and Sirius.
“Yes, you idiot! Come on, think about it. If I was prepared to accept you as a werewolf, then this hardly would’ve rocked the boat any further.”
“Even so, having a close friend who’s attracted to you is a lot more upfront and personal. If it had been a question of me just being gay, then yes, I probably would have told...” Remus trailed off when he looked up and saw the surprised expression on Sirius’s face.
Putting his face in his hands, Remus groaned and said, “You thought that’s what I’ve been talking about all along: the fact that I’m gay,” which was all I had intended to tell you in the first place, he added silently. “You didn’t know I…. I thought you realised the other day, when I snapped at you.”
“No, I didn’t realise,” Sirius said slowly, and Remus didn’t know whether to feel relieved or not when he saw a look of amusement make its way across Sirius’s face. “So you started to see me that way at Hogwarts?” Remus nodded solemnly. “Now Hogwarts I can understand: after all, I was gorgeous at school,” Sirius said with a chuckle and a wink, and then he asked, “You still like me now?”
“Very much so. I’m sorry if this makes you feel awkward.”
“It’s not so much that; it’s more a case of you needing to get your eyes tested. Your taste has seriously gone downhill, Moony: I’m all skin and bones, and I’m covered in a mass of tattoos from that bloody hell hole--”
“You’re still beautiful.”
“Really. It’s not about what you look like; it’s about who you are. All those things you’ve pointed out, they’re parts of you, and you wouldn’t be who you are today if you didn’t have them. Being you makes them attractive.”
“Why, Moony, you’re a bit of a sly old charmer,” he chuckled. Then, in a softer tone of voice, he added, “Don’t stop.”
At this command, Remus snapped his head up and his eyes locked with Sirius’s; he could see curiosity and fondness reflected back at him, and it made his breath catch in his throat. Sirius raised his eyebrows, almost challengingly, and his lips twitched.
Instinctively, Remus reached over to cup Sirius’s face and leaned in to brush their lips together. Then he drew back to make sure he hadn’t got the wrong idea, giving Sirius an opportunity to back away if he hadn’t realised just how much his actions and words had led Remus on. But there was no resistance, so Remus leaned in and kissed him once more.
This time, Remus felt one of Sirius’s hands move immediately to the back of his head, fingers threading through his hair, sending a jolt of electricity straight to his groin. He was completely overcome by the fact that, finally, he knew what it felt like to taste Sirius’s lips, to slide their tongues together.
“I never knew you were...” Remus stuttered as he drew back for air.
“Neither did I, and I hadn’t even thought about it, until today--now. I guess it just shows what a bit of sweet talking can do,” Sirius said with a smirk before initiating yet another kiss.
Torn between wanting to explore every last inch of Sirius and not wanting to scare Sirius off, Remus let Sirius take the lead. But Remus needn’t have worried, as it seemed that Sirius was just as keen as he was. At some point, Sirius had the idea of transfiguring the moth-eaten blanket, on which he had been sitting, into cushions, pillows, and a duvet. But his transfiguration skills still seemed a little rusty from Azkaban--either that or his enthusiasm towards the situation had run over into the spell he cast--and he ended up smothering them with an excess of bedding.
Physically, they didn’t do much that night, but they did spend a lot of time touching and being as close to each other as they could. To be lying naked with Sirius, wrapped together, all limbs and skin, made for the best Christmas present that Remus had had in a long time. Not wanting to get up and end their first time together, it was inevitable that they would end up falling asleep in the attic, alongside a disgruntled Buckbeak.
Remus woke up with the sensation of the skin of his abdomen sticking to something, and the sound of knocking on the door. He smiled to see Sirius curled up next to him and affectionately watched as a half-awake Sirius turned over and gave a loud grunt, immediately after which, the door opened.
“Sirius, have you seen Re--,” Tonks began to ask as she poked her head into the attic. She blushed furiously. “Oh, sorry. It’s just that Molly’s started to get the kids up and breakfast won’t be long. I’ll...erm... I’ll see you downstairs.”
Sirius snickered, rolled over and gave Remus an amused grin. “Oops!”
They disentangled themselves from each other--and from the excess of cushions--before dressing and making their way down to the kitchen, where they found Molly, Arthur, and Tonks.
“That could’ve been Harry who walked in on you!” Molly chastised as soon as Sirius had closed the door behind him. Remus winced at the truth of what she had said; he would have been mortified if it had been Harry who had woken them.
“We weren’t doing anything...this morning,” Sirius said, and then, when Molly glared back, he added, “Do you really mean to tell me that none of your children have ever walked in on you and Arthur in bed?”
“No, but... does Harry actually know about you two?”
At this question, Sirius looked down at his feet and shifted guiltily.
“Not yet. And I don’t think it would be fair to drop this on him just before he goes back to school. I’ll...” he trailed off, looking up at Remus and smiling warmly, “We’ll tell him when he’s on his next break.”
Although Molly was intent on pursuing the conversation, anything else that she wanted to say was cut off as the door suddenly opened. An awkward silence prevailed as Harry, Ron, and Hermione entered the kitchen.
They were to return to Hogwarts on the Knight Bus ... escorted once again by Tonks and Lupin, both of whom were eating breakfast in the kitchen when Harry, Ron and Hermione came down next morning. The adults seemed to have been mid-way through a whispered conversation as Harry opened the door; all of them looked round hastily and fell silent. -- OotP