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Title: A Grimmauld Merry Auld Christmas
Rating & Warnings: Pre-teens. Sirius is a bit of a potty mouth.
Characters: Remus Lupin, N. Tonks, Sirius Black, Hermione Granger, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Fred Weasley, George Weasley, Ginny Weasley, Molly Weasley, Buckbeak
Setting: Christmas – Order of the Phoenix
Format: Fic (~3,500 words)
Summary: Sirius made his way through the halls and down the stairs, humming merrily to himself and mentally reviewing his holiday preparations checklist. This was shaping up to be an excellent holiday for Harry.
Also Posted at: This was originally written for the metamorfic_moon Christmas Moon Fic Advent and posted here. My prompts were Spellotape and Father Christmas.
Disclaimer: I own none of this. J. K. Rowling and assorted companies including but not limited to Bloomsbury, Scholastic, and Warner Brothers own everything. They also make all the money. I am just having fun and in no way seek financial profit from their property.
Author’s Note: I should be good on the bonus points for Wizarding carols and my prompts. Hopfully the means you'll forgive me for the lack of Remus and Tonks in the first 1,000 words of this thing. Someday I'll figure out why Sirius decided to take over and head an ensemble cast, especially since I've never written from his POV before and feel a little shaky on his Grimmauld persona. Please do let me know what you think of his characterization here, along with anything else you may want to share. This fic won two awards at metamorfic_moon:







A Grimmauld Merry Auld Christmas


"Deck the halls with dancing fairies."

"Squaw – caw – caw – caw – squaaaw – caw – caw – caw – squaaaw."

"'Tis the season to be merry."

"Squaw – caw –caw – squaaaw…"

"No! No! No! How many times do I have to tell you, it's 'Fa –la – la – la – laaa'? You missed a la." Sirius glared reproachfully at the hippogriff who had taken up residence in his mother's bedroom. "Honestly, you listen about as well as that blasted house-elf."

Sirius barely had time to register the flash of anger in his companion's eyes before a hard beak rammed into him, shoving him roughly to the ground.

"Damn it, Buckbeak," Sirius growled. "What are you playing at?"

He attempted to rise, one hand pushing himself off the floor and the other reaching around to brush dust and old feathers from his possibly bruised arse, but was halted by the hippogriff, wings beating angrily, hovering above him. Sirius quickly backed away from the beak gnashing at his head and arms. Thus far, Buckbeak had kept his temper reigned in enough to not attack, but why risk it?

"Alright. Alright. I take it back!" he cried as he scurried away. Buckbeak paused and tilted his head to watch Sirius expectantly.

Sirius heaved a heavy sigh. "You're not as bad as that damned Kreacher. No one is. You happy?"

Buckbeak considered the apology for a moment then bent his head and nuzzled Sirius' shoulder with his beak. "I'm sorry," Sirius apologized again as he reached up to gently pat his friend. He really hadn't meant to insult the hippogriff. "What say we take a bit of a break and I'll go see what treats I can find in the kitchen?"

Buckbeak cooed happily and backed away so Sirius had plenty of room to rise. "Back in a bit," he promised as he slipped from the room.

Sirius made his way through the halls and down the stairs, humming merrily to himself and mentally reviewing his holiday preparations checklist. This was shaping up to be an excellent holiday for Harry. Molly was cooking up a feast in the kitchen. Dung had delivered the tree and no one had asked too many awkward questions about its origins. The decorating and wrapping assignments had been given and everyone in the house was hopefully hard at work on his or her task. The kids were more cheerful now that Arthur was clearly on the road to recovery though the flurries of snow coming from under the door of the parlor and sounds of laughter drifting down the hall indicated he should check to make sure the new levity wasn't distracting from the decorating.

At Sirius' push, the parlor door creaked open. The laughter abruptly stopped and Sirius was surprised to see the Weasley twins frozen in the center of the room, their wands drawn and their eyes wide in identical expressions of alarm.

"Oh. It's just you," Fred said testily. He turned from the door and aimed his wand at the corner, magical snow once again blasting from the tip.

"We thought you might be mum coming to tell us off," George explained with a shrug before rejoining his brother in conjuring mounds of magical snow to blanket the carpet.

Sirius matched George's shrug. "You're adults. Do whatever you want. Just get everyone out first if you decide to do us all a favor and burn this place to the ground."

He turned his attention to the other occupants of the room and caught Harry watching him intently, worry crinkling the corners of Lily's brilliant green eyes. Sirius smiled to show he was kidding. Mostly. Harry smiled back and reached into the box at his feet for a shimmering ball. Ron already held a ball and was staring at the chandelier above his head. He carefully took aim and, with a quick glance at Fred and George who were looking the other way, threw the ball so that it flew up between two of the arms of the chandelier. When it hit the ceiling, it exploded into a shower of sparks and silver and gold streamers. As the streamers came raining down, most caught on the chandelier and dangled down while only a few drifted lazily to the ground.

"Nice," Sirius and Harry both said in appreciation of the brilliant throw. They grinned at each other as Ron flushed slightly.

"How goes the rest of the decorating?" Sirius asked.

Harry absentmindedly pushed his glasses up his nose as he prepared for his own throw. "Fine."

"Except they're making the tree all girly." Ron waved vaguely in the direction of Ginny and Hermione and the tree they were decorating with sparkling fairies.

"They're not girly," Hermione protested. "They're just fairy lights."

Ginny cocked her head and contemplated the tree. "What else do you want us to put on it? Snidgets?"

"You can't do that," said Fred.

"It's not a wand tree," added George.

"You can't use snidgets to decorate any kind of tree. Honestly. I thought everyone knew that. Snidgets are endangered creatures and wizards aren't supposed to hold them in captivity."

Fred and George turned to Hermione with wicked grins.

"You can't ask a house-elf to work."

"You can't use snidgets to decorate a tree."

"But you can capture fairies and use them on trees?"

Hermione's hair flounced as she angrily whirled away from the tree to face the twins. "Fairies aren't as intelligent as house-elves and they aren't harmed by the light charms and can be released after the holidays. It is nearly impossible to catch a snidget without hurting it."

Hermione took a deep breath in preparation of continuing a tirade Sirius did not want to hear. "I'll just leave you kids to it then," he said before Hermione could speak and quickly left the room.

He continued on his way to the kitchen, singing all the way, though not as loudly as he would have liked since he would prefer his mother sleep through the holidays.

"And a snidget in a wand tree.

On the second day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
Two unicorns
And a snidget in a wand tree.

On the third day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
Three dress robes,
Two unicorns,
And a…

Remus, what do you think you're doing?"

Remus looked up from the house-elves on the wall, a red Father Christmas hat floating in the air midway between his wand and an elf head. One corner of his mouth twitched up in bemused confusion. "I think I'm fulfilling your demented request that I, how did you put it? 'Do something to make those bloody heads festive,' I believe it was."

Sirius came down the remainder of the stairs to stand next to his old friend and to look at the house-elf heads Remus had already decorated. "But it's so plain. It's so … red and white."

Remus allowed the newly conjured hat to drop on the head of an elf and turned his full attention to Sirius. "While I realize his appearance has changed over the years, the current incarnation of Father Christmas is generally depicted with a white beard and red hat."

"I know that, git." Sirius shoved Remus so he stumbled sideways for a moment before recovering his balance. "Can't you just add some color?"

Remus waved his wand at the house-elf heads. Every third Father Christmas hat became green. With a second wave, the hats to the left of the green ones became gold. "That better?"

Sirius wrinkled his nose with distaste. "No. You were right. The hats should be red. I'll just leave you to figure out some other way to add color to the decorations." He trotted off to the last flight of stairs to the basement kitchen, smiling as he heard Remus muttering things that sounded vaguely like "mangy" and "flea-ridden."

Sirius briefly tried to remember where he had been in his song but quickly decided it really didn't mater.

"On the fifth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
Five galleons gold,
Four sugar quills,
Three dress robes,
Two unicorns,
And a snidget in a wand tree."

"You willing to share any of those sugar quills?" Tonks asked as Sirius entered the kitchen.

"All those gifts and you want the sugar quills?" he teased the currently green-haired young Auror. "Molly," he grudgingly acknowledged the other witch's presence in the kitchen.

Molly sniffed and got up from the table where she and Tonks had obviously been chatting while Tonks wrapped presents. Without a glance in Sirius' direction, Molly returned to her cooking at the counters on the far side of the kitchen.

"Of course," Tonks merrily replied, seemingly oblivious to the tension in the room as she wildly waved one hand and cast the occasional dark look at the roll of spellotape on the table. "What would I do with unicorns and a snidget?"

Sirius plopped down in the chair across from her. "Good question. An even better one is 'what are you doing with the spellotape?'."

"At the moment, trying to get it off my fingers." She stopped flicking her hand and held it out so he could see the bit of tape affixed to two of her fingers.

"You know you could just pull it off, right?"

"But then it would just get stick to my other hand or someplace else."

"I guess that explains the piece currently sticking your hair to your forehead?" He reached out to pull the offending strip of spellotape off her face.

She crossed her eyes trying to focus on it as he pulled it away. "I was wondering where that went!"

"Looks like you could use it." He pointed to the stack of packages already wrapped in wrinkled, messy-looking paper. The end of one of the bulky and ungainly presents was peeling open, a bit of spellotape indicating that it had once been stuck down.

"Perfect!" Tonks placed the loose end of the tape still stuck to her fingers against the package and used her other hand to secure the tape firmly to the package rather than her. "Perfect!" she repeated as she sat back to admire her handiwork.

With the slightest of crinkles, the edge of the package again came unstuck and the flap began to unfold. Sirius laughed as Tonks' shoulders slumped in defeat. He stuck the flap down with the tape he had removed from her fringe. They both watched the package for a moment. When it showed no signs of again coming unstuck, Tonks sighed.

"I'm rubbish at wrapping packages," she moaned. "I can't do a straight cutting charm, the last time I tried a sticking charm instead of spellotape my dad finally got the paper off the present two months after his birthday, I get spellotape stuck everywhere but where it should be, and I can't do pretty, delicate folds."

"I was just telling Tonks," Molly suddenly chimed in from the other side of the kitchen, "that I'm sure Remus would love to help her."

Tonks blushed slightly and Sirius tried to hide his grimace. He hated it when Molly was right. Not nearly as much as he would hate it if Snivellus were right, but fortunately that would never happen.

"Yes, because Remus is the resident expert on all things pretty and delicate." Tonks' blush deepened at the thinly veiled meaning behind his apparent insult of Remus' masculinity. "He's currently botching his own job. Maybe you guys should switch? You'd be better than him at coming up with colorful decorations for the entry and hall. Your hair is certainly more festive than his is."

"This?" Tonks asked waving at her green spikes. "This is nothing. What do you think of this?" Tonks' face scrunched. Half her hair, scattered randomly about her head, became a bright red. After a moment, the other half became white. Her face relaxed and she reached up and began twirling red and white spikes together, making a candy cane pattern.

"Impressive. You're officially switching jobs with Remus. Go tell him to come wrap and you can decorate the hall."

"The kids will be coming down for lunch soon." Molly indicated the various meats, chesses, vegetables, and breads she was busily slicing.

"Fine," said Sirius. "Send the presents to the library and tell him to go there to finish wrapping them."

At a wave of her wand, all the presents but one disappeared. At Sirius' questioning eyebrow, Tonks glanced down at it, a shy smile creeping across her face. "That one's for Remus from me. I can't have him wrap it."

"Fine," Sirius said again in exasperation. He was trying to organize a merry Christmas. Why did people have to keep making it difficult? "Just hide it for now. Make it disappear. Whatever. You can worry about it later."

Without a word but looking slightly offended at his brusque tone, Tonks flicked her wand at the lone package, it disappeared, and she turned to leave.

"Tonks." She turned to look at him, frowning slightly. "I think you need more spellotape in your hair. Your twists are already coming undone."

Tonks smiled and rolled her eyes. "I'll put a gel charm on it later if I decide to put it back this way for Christmas day. For now…" Her face again scrunched, her hair returned to the bubble-gum pink that was the closest there'd been to a typical Tonks' hair color lately, and she left.

Sirius busied himself with gathering food for Buckbeak. It was difficult to work around Molly, especially without speaking, but he preferred his singing over talking to her. By the time he had a bucket of fresh water and a tray loaded with chicken and bread, he was almost done with his song. He left the kitchen, once again lowering his voice so as not to rouse his mother.

"On the eleventh day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
Eleven witches charming,
Ten owls flying,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids-a-milking,
Seven brooms for racing,
Six cauldrons bubbling…"

His singing subsided into humming as he paused to contemplate the hallway. Neither Remus nor Tonks was in sight, but the house-elves certainly looked better. Each head sported a red Father Christmas hat and a long, white beard. Additionally, a lush strand of green garland had been hung so that the top of each looping arch was attached to the wall between two house-elves and the long loops trailed down under the heads. The top of each loop was secured with a big bow and no two bows were the same color. It was brilliant.

Sirius resumed his song and bounded happily up the stairs, careful not to dump any of the food from the tray or spill the water in the bucket.

"On the twelfth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
Twelve wizards spelling,
Eleven witches charming,
Ten owls flying,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids-a-milking…"

Through the library door, he barely heard Tonks' surprised "What did he say?"

Sirius never faltered in his step or song. It was wrong to spy on people. Unless they were talking about you. Or you really wanted to. Then it was okay. Especially if they were going to be talking about you. But Sirius knew that if he suddenly stopped in his song or continued to sing while standing right outside the door, it would be pathetically obvious he was trying to listen to them. So he continued singing his way up the stairs, switching to God Rest Ye Merry Hippogriffs when he reached the end of the twelfth day. When he judged that he could no longer be heard from the library, he stopped singing, left the food and water for Buckbeak sitting on the landing, and quickly and quietly snuck back down the stairs.

The library door was cracked open and Sirius could just see Remus and Tonks. They were sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace with presents, wrapped and unwrapped, wrapping paper, and spellotape scattered around them and between them. Tonks' back was to the door, but Sirius could see Remus' face and his friend was singing in a soft, hoarse voice that was still perfectly in tune.

"Three French hens,
Two turtledoves,
And a partridge in a pear tree."

Everything was silent for a moment. Tonks finally spoke in a slightly breathless whisper. "That was beautiful. Where did you learn it?"

Sirius knew exactly where this conversation was going, but decided to stay to see Tonks' reaction.

"My mum taught me a lot of Muggle Christmas songs."

"I only know a few from my grandparents."

Remus shrugged easily. "I suppose that is a difference between having a Muggle-born parent versus a Muggle parent."

"Possibly. But that still doesn't explain why Sirius was singing nine ladies dancing and eight maids-a-milking."

"Ah, yes. One Christmas he was complaining about what kind of bastard would give someone eight house-elves cleaning. He said he didn't want the one house-elf he had at home, let alone eight. I told him the Muggles get eight maids-a-milking. If you can imagine a fifteen or sixteen year old Sirius, I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that he immediately latched on to that. He wanted to know the rest of the Muggle version. As you heard, he was also fond of the nine ladies dancing, though as far as I know he has nothing against the idea of nine goblins banking."

Tonks laughed. "Why does that not surprise me?"

"I don't know. Why doesn't it?"

Sirius was too far away to see it, but he could tell from Remus' tone that the man would have one eyebrow cocked.

"Cheeky."

Even from the doorway, Sirius could not miss the cocky and smug smile Remus was suddenly sporting. It was a look Sirius hadn't been entirely certain the old boy had in him. Way to go, Moony.

"I happen to like cheeky," Tonks continued.

"I hadn't noticed."

"Perhaps I should make it more obvious?"

"I certainly wouldn't object."

Tonks slid to her hands and knees and crawled across the wrapping paper to Remus. She clearly intended to kiss him, but Remus held up a hand to stop her. With his other hand, he grabbed the wand lying beside him and flicked it toward the door.

Before Sirius could react, everything went dark as something hot, heavy, and furry settled on his head and fell down over his eyes. He reached up and ripped the offending item from his head and was not surprised to find that it was a Father Christmas hat. Its unmistakable pink color was slightly more unexpected.

He pushed the library door open fully. Tonks was still on her hands and knees in front of Remus. Their lips were locked and he was slowly running his hands up-and-down her arms and over her shoulders. Sirius slipped into the room and closed the door behind him. He threw the Father Christmas hat at them, causing them to finally break their kiss.

They both turned to him. Remus tried to work up a glare, but Tonks didn't bother fighting her dreamy smile.

"You two need to be more careful if you don't want the kids cottoning on to what you're doing."

Remus finally managed a full glare, eyes narrowed and mouth compressed into a thin, annoyed line. "We were wrapping presents for them. I've got the door charmed so they can't get in or see in. Since we still have to wrap your present, I obviously should have blocked you out as well instead of assuming you had something better to do than snoop.

Sirius decided to take the rather pointed suggestion. "Buckbeak and I will be practicing our duet if you need me for anything."

"We won't," Remus said firmly.

"Have fun." Tonks sounded very much like she was trying not to laugh. "I can't wait to hear your snog. I mean song!"

As Tonks' cheeks turned a vivid pink to match her hair, Sirius quickly left Remus to respond to the slip without an audience. As he closed them in, he gave a half-hearted smile for what he knew they would be doing. He was happy for them. Really, he was. But they were just one more reminder that life was moving on, passing him by as he stagnated in this hell hole. With a slight shake of his head, he began climbing the stairs to finally bring Buckbeak his snack. He couldn't be down now. He had a Christmas to plan. For Harry. For now, that would have to be enough.



Just in case anyone cares but doesn't want to track them down throughout the story, the complete lyrics to my Wizarding 12 Days of Christmas are:

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
Twelve wizards spelling,
Eleven witches charming,
Ten owls flying,
Nine goblins banking,
Eight house-elves cleaning,
Seven brooms for racing,
Six cauldrons bubbling,
Five galleons gold,
Four sugar quills,
Three dress robes,
Two unicorns,
And a snidget in a wand tree."

Comments:

gilpin25
gilpin25 at 4:30 pm on 17 November 2008 (UTC) (Link)
LOL. Perhaps it's a sign that you ought to write another one for this Christmas? ;)
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 4:56 pm on 17 November 2008 (UTC) (Link)
My "to write" list is so long it is very scary. My current best guess is that I'll get around to writing any kind of fic in about five years.


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