More I Cannot Wish You
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 #21: A Christmas Wish comes true. You decide who makes the wish and what it is.
Author Notes: The word “wish” reminded me immediately of the Irish-style ballad “More I Cannot Wish You,” words and music by Frank Loesser, from the Musical “Guys and Dolls.” I’ve structured the story around some of the lyrics from that song. Also, my grateful thanks to my bloody beta, Nyx.
More I Cannot Wish You
Velvet I can wish you,
For the collar of your coat
And fortune smiling all along your way
He was strong.
He was seventeen years old, and had been a werewolf for thirteen of those years; he knew how to take care of himself. He certainly didn’t enjoy the transformations, but he was used to them, was used to the trauma of physical struggle and to the bone-wearied exhaustion that followed. He might be tired, but he wasn’t helpless.
Nonetheless, it was nice to have Sirius there, very nice indeed to feel the other boy’s arm around his waist. Remus turned his collar up, and drew his coat in more tightly, huddling into the warmth of the fabric. Sirius felt him shiver, and snuggled just a little closer – a difficult feat, since they were walking.
James and Peter had gone home at the start of the winter holidays; Remus – who felt his mother had quite enough to take care of, thank you – decided to stay at Hogwarts until after the full moon had passed. Now he, Sirius, and a handful of other students – mostly first-years suffering from sudden, urgent homesickness – waited for the Hogwarts Christmas Day Express.
They boarded, taking the car farthest back, as per Marauder tradition. The witch who ran the sweets trolley started from the back of the train, and the Marauders liked to have first inspection of her wares.
“I’ll never understand why these cars aren’t fought for tooth and nail,” said Sirius, stowing away the smaller pieces of their luggage.
“With rotten tooth and broken nail, you mean,” answered Remus, laughing. “I’m sure she must re-stock at some stage. There’s probably someone who always sits by the re-stocking point and counts himself as very clever. Which he is.”
“Why ‘rotten tooth and broken nail,’ Moony?”
“Well, from all the sugar.”
“That’ll do for the rotten teeth, but what about the broken nails?”
“Oh, I assumed that was from the continual fighting over sweets.”
Sirius snorted, and snuggled up to his boyfriend. Remus drew close, and let himself relax, let the nervous tension he needed for walking and staying upright fade from his body. Sirius tenderly kissed his forehead.
“How did I ever manage to sucker in someone as wonderful as you?” asked Remus.
“Fortune favors the bold,” said Sirius.
Mansions I can wish you,
Seven footmen all in red,
And calling cards upon a silver tray.
The ride on the Express, and on the Knight Bus after, had given Remus time to recover enough physically to walk the quarter-mile from where the Bus left them to Lupin Cottage. The area was sparsely populated, and happily, the few families who lived there were wizarding, so that the boys could Leviosa their luggage. The small trunks bobbed along merrily after them.
As they walked up the garden path, Sirius once again marveled at how the tiny cottage nonetheless seemed so much larger than his own home. It was small – it had no basement, a tiny attic, three rooms on the bottom floor and only two rooms on the floor above. The architect who designed it had clearly been thinking of the word ‘quaint,’ and had probably never even heard the word ‘menacing.’ But despite its size, there was something about Lupin Cottage that was so warm, so friendly, so expansive, that to Sirius it seemed three times the size of Grimmauld Place.
Remus tapped his wand against the door, and it opened for him; with another flick of his wand, he directed their luggage up to his room.
“Mum? We’re home!”
“Oh, my darling binary,” said Mrs. Lupin, coming to the door, “You’re early! Thank goodness you didn’t try to floo; I still have a fire going.”
“I thought you might have; that’s why we didn’t try.” Mother and son – who shared the same delicate features, if not the same coloring – hesitated awkwardly for a moment; then Nola Lupin drew her son into her arms, and held him tightly, stroking his hair. “Happy Christmas, Remus.”
“Happy Christmas, Mum.”
Sirius turned away to give them privacy. He busied himself with shutting the door, and when this monumental tasked was ended, he made a thorough study of the unremarkable doorknob. Walt Lupin had died the previous March; Remus had gone home for the funeral, accompanied by Sirius, and of course Remus had gone home for the summer hols. But this was the first Christmas the Lupin family was spending without its patriarch. Sirius hadn’t seen Mrs. Lupin since the funeral.
He felt a gentle tugging at his robes, and turned back.
“Hello, my dear boy,” said Nola softly.
“Hello, Mrs. Lupin. I hope I’m not imposing.”
“Nonsense, someone who is so dear to my favorite son could never impose.” She embraced him; over her shoulder, just as the hug ended, Sirius caught Remus’ eye. Remus quickly shook his head: No, I haven’t told her about us.
“Mum,” said Remus loudly, partly to distract, “I’m not your favorite son, I’m your only son. In fact, I’m your only child.”
“Well,” said Nola Lupin, “We do have that cat. And I don’t let his friends come over whenever they want.”
Music I can wish you,
Merry music while you’re young
And wisdom when your hair has turned to gray.
“Surely no one enjoys playing the harmonium,” said Mrs. Lupin.
“Oh, I think it must be much better to play it than to hear it played,” said Sirius. “My cousin quite enjoyed inflicting it on us. She’d go at it for hours, pumping away on the pedals and pounding the keys as if they were trying to escape.”
“Perhaps they were,” said Remus.
“I shall never mock the humble accordion again,” murmured Mrs. Lupin.
“We’d have these ghastly after-dinner entertainments in the front parlor,” Sirius continued. “They were desperately boring. Andromeda would sing a little song, Narcissa would declaim a short poem, and then Bella would attack that damned harmonium interminably. Regulus and I once had a breath-holding contest to just to pass the time.”
“Who won?” asked Mrs. Lupin.
“Hard to say, really,” said Sirius. “Regulus passed out first, I think.”
“And this was every night?”
“Oh no, usually only once a month, when we had the lesser branch of the family over. Normally after dinner, we’d retire to father’s study and he’d make us recite precepts for the wise.”
“Such as, ‘An apple a day keeps the healer at bay’?” asked Remus.
“I don’t know that one. Just the usual boring stuff – you know, ‘Blood is thicker than water, but flows quickly from an open vein’.” Mother and son stared at him with identical expressions of horror.
“Mrs. Potter has a saying painted on a decorative plate,” Sirius went on quickly. “It says, ‘Everything is lovely when the geese honk high’.”
“How mysterious,” said Mrs. Lupin.
“Well, Mrs. Potter is a healer,” said Remus. “Maybe it has something to do with her profession.”
“No,” said Sirius. “I asked about it, and she said she got it at a Muggle shop in Brighton.”
“How strange,” said Mrs. Lupin. “I’m a Muggle, and I’m not familiar with that saying. But then, I’m not a farm girl. I have no idea how to judge how high a flock of geese is flying, or what different flight paths might bode.” She and Sirius both looked over to Remus, anticipating his next remark, and instead found him struggling to keep his eyes open as exhaustion overwhelmed him again.
“You should take a nap before dinner, my darling binary.”
“No, Mum, I’m fine.”
“Don’t be silly,” said Mrs. Lupin, a hint of scolding in her voice. “
Sirius will take you upstairs and get you settled while I clear away tea. Then he’ ll come down again and help me set the dinner table.”
But More I Cannot Wish You
Than to wish you find your love
Your own true love this day
“You’ve learned to set an admirable table.” Sirius gave a little laugh. “Well, I’m glad I picked up something useful back in the family mausoleum.”
As he put the last piece in place, Mrs. Lupin said, “Would you like to lick the bowl?”
“I – I’m sorry?”
“The frosting bowl, dear. I’ve just finished icing the cake. There’s always icing left in the bowl, and usually Remus likes to lick up the remnants. With a spoon, of course.”
Sirius smiled, and happily accepted the proffered bowl and spoon. “Thanks, I’ ve never got to do this before.”
“Your mother isn’t the baking type?”
“Definitely not. Everything is done by house-elves. I doubt my mother has ever set foot in the kitchen in her life. She probably doesn’t even know where it is.”
Nola Lupin nodded, as if to say, I know the type. She held out a chair for Sirius, and pulled one for herself opposite him.
“My son is very lucky to have you.”
“Not as lucky as I am.”
“You’ve got a titch on your nose – there, you’ve got it now. You know he writes home once a week?”
Sirius nodded. “The novelty of teasing him about it wore off in third or fourth year, I think.”
“Yes, thank you. Can I –?”
“Done? I’ll take them, thank you, dear.” They traded.
“Yes,” she continued, putting the bowl and spoon in the sink, “He writes home faithfully. His letters are the sweetest things. They’re always filled with ‘Sirius said this’ or ‘Sirius did that.’ Quite like the letters I used to send home when I was at boarding school. There was a boy I fancied very much – though of course I didn’t end up marrying him – but I filled my letters home with his deeds and exploits.”
Sirius’ mouth dropped open. “But – I mean – Mrs. Lupin –”
She sat down again at the table. “A blind man could see it, dear” she said gently. “So too could anyone who paid attention.”
“Are – are you angry?”
“No,” said Nola Lupin quietly. “You know I’m an astronomer, yes? There are quite a lot of maths in astronomy, with terribly complicated equations. And most people tend to see life the same way – filled with complicated equations – when that notion couldn’t be farther from the truth.
“When my son was bitten, when he was changed, I was forced to decide: Is this still my son? Do I still love him? The answer was of course yes, on both counts. Really, the equation is a very simple one. And so when I realized that he was in love with you, with another boy, I had already made that decision, hadn’t I? He is and will always be my son; I do and will always love him. Nothing he does, nothing he decides, nothing will ever change that.”
Sirius nodded. Mrs. Lupin found and met his eyes.
“Sirius, are you in love with my son?”
“Oh – yes!” As much to his own surprise as Mrs. Lupin’s, he shouted it, not in anger but with elation. Both startled, they began to laugh. Nola Lupin reached across the table and held one of Sirius’ hands, squeezing his fingers.
“My husband is gone now,” she said quietly, “but oh, how we loved each other! And that is the simplest equation of them all. It’s all I’ve ever really wished for my son – that he be truly in love, and have that love returned.
“I’ve always loved him,” said Sirius. “I always will. Nothing will ever change that.”
Nola smiled, perhaps a little sadly. “Then more I cannot wish you.”