sheafrotherdon: (Default)
sheafrotherdon ([personal profile] sheafrotherdon) wrote on December 20th, 2004 at 07:21 pm
Fic: Two Wizards, One Gift, and a Duck-Billed Platypus
Fic: Two Wizards, One Gift, and a Duck-Billed Platypus
Author: [ profile] sheafrotherdon
Rating: PG
Pairing: R/S
Disclaimer: JKR owns the pups, I merely play with them
X-Posted: [ profile] remusxsirius and [ profile] shacking_up
Summary: It's Harry's first Christmas, and Sirius is convinced that Muggle toy stores will have the perfect gift for the boy. Poor Remus really should have known better.
A/N: For [ profile] thistlerose who supplied the prompt, and who beta'd everything into beautiful submission :).





“By all that makes Quidditch holy, Remus Lupin, I want to go to a Muggle toy store!”

Remus leaned back against the kitchen counter and folded his arms across his chest. “Does someone need a nap?”

Sirius narrowed his eyes and did his best to look threatening. It might have been effective had the man he was trying to intimidate not known he was wearing fluffy bunny boxer shorts beneath his jeans. It was hard to keep an air of rapscallion mystery about you when your boyfriend knew the deepest secrets of your underwear drawer. “Very bloody funny.”

Remus sighed. It was 7.45am on Saturday, December 20. His first cup of tea had barely had a chance to work its way into his system, he hadn’t seen Sirius in three days, and he wasn’t wearing socks. It seemed a matter of principle that a man shouldn’t be expected to squabble while his toes were bare, but then Sirius rarely waited for a fair moment to fight. Given the general state of all things wizard, it was perhaps a prudent approach to life – to grab at moments when you could, and not wait for things like Argyle wool to come along.

Grinding the heel of a hand into one eye, Remus realized he’d been insane to imagine it could be a simple thing to buy Harry a gift for his first Christmas. Sirius vibrated with the need for distraction, the opportunity to pour his energy into something that had nothing to do with this strange guerilla war or assignments for the Order. Without too much encouragement, mused Remus, the day could whip entirely out of hand. He cast his eyes about the kitchen and wondered if it was too early to start drinking as a preventative measure. “Sirius – what happened the last time we went shopping in Muggle London?”

“Oh!” Sirius smiled fondly at the memory. “I found that incredible toy . . . ”

Remus groaned and wandered into the living room, sitting bonelessly on the couch. “It was a parking meter.”

“It had handles and moving parts and things changed color when you did it right!”

“You broke it.”

Sirius hovered in the kitchen doorway, affronted. “I just got a little carried away.”

“And then there were the felt-tip pens.”

“But they’re wonderful!” said Sirius, bounding across the flat to sit with a ‘whumpf’ on the sofa. “So many different colors. And they never run out of ink.”

“They do, in fact, eventually run out of ink.”

“But a person would have to color things in for years, Moony, years before that could happen. I’m convinced of it. And think of the joy in between – no messy ink bottles to carry around, no inadvertent squirts of the quill . . . “

Remus snorted. “Inadvertent?”

“Well . . . “

“You used to say that quill squirting should be made a sport just so you could captain the national team.”

Sirius slumped to lay with his head on Remus’s lap, smiling up into the latter’s face. “I did say that,” he grinned. “I’m what’s popularly known as a wag.”

Remus raised an eyebrow, barely keeping his amusement in check. “You’re something,” he muttered.

“So can we go?”

“To the Wizard toy store? Absolutely.”

“Noo-ooo.” Sirius was twenty-one years old, and had spent part of every year of his life perfecting and polishing the tone of his whine. By now it was such a thing of beauty he felt sure it was worthy of a stage play, perhaps even an opera. “Muggle toys! Muggle!”

“But you don’t like Muggle toys. You hate that they don’t move or talk or disappear or become small turtles if you shake them.” Remus had begun to thread his fingers through Sirius’s hair despite himself.

“But that’s what makes it so fun,” grinned Sirius, feeling Remus’s resolve beginning to fracture. “It’s like visiting the zoo. It’s so completely and utterly weird.”

“Oh God.” Remus let his head thud against the back of the sofa. “This week on Great Wizarding Adventures of the Twentieth Century – expedition to deepest, darkest Regents Street.”

“AHA!” Sirius threw his arms into the air and crowed with delight. He enjoyed crowing, had entire theories about it, including the idea that it kept you regular. “I WIN! I BLOODY WIN!”

Remus muttered something quite unbookish in retaliation, and Sirius maintained for the rest of his life that his ears were singed by the words.


“This is brilliant,” said Sirius, plastered to the window of Hamley’s toy store, peering at the eight-foot high teddy-bear inside. “It’s dressed like a soldier, Moony. A bloody soldier.” He shook his head slightly, fascinated. “They’re insane. Why would you want to dress a bear?”

“Why would you want to dress a stuffed niffler?” Remus asked.

Sirius frowned. “That’s different. That was for luck. By my reckoning we’d have lost to Ravenclaw at least six times if not for that toy.”

Remus arched an eyebrow. “Perhaps this is for luck too. Maybe dressing giant bears in the colors of the Royal Guard is good luck for the Queen.” He shrugged at the baffled look Sirius threw his way. “She needs it. You’ve seen what she wears. Can you blame her for wanting a talisman against high winds in public places?”

“Pfft,” Sirius snorted. “Rubbish.”

“Right. Because a stuffed niffler dressed in a tiny Gryffindor jumper makes so much more sense.”

Sirius peeled himself away from the window, and stepped extremely close. “Don’t besmirch the sacred name of Nigel Niffler,” he said, turned on his heel, and disappeared into the store.

Remus plunged after him, dreading the idea of a lost and wandering Sirius loose among innocent Christmas shoppers. By virtue of apologetically nudging two old ladies out of the way and stepping over a large display of Lego, he was able to grab the end of Sirius’s scarf and yank him back in hand before he could get too far. “I’m very sorry to have cast aspersions on the character of Nigel,” he whispered in his boyfriend’s ear. “But please, please don’t wander off in here.”

Sirius turned, beaming. “Do the Muggles frighten you?” he asked, clearly thrilled by the idea. “They do get a bit vicious don’t they?” He gestured with a nod of the head to where two middle-aged women were making vague jabbing motions toward one another with long, pointy umbrellas. He tucked Remus’s hand under his elbow. “Don’t worry, Moony m’love, I’ll protect you.”

Remus immediately pulled his hand away and swatted Sirius about the head. “Daft bloody stupid . . .” Each word was punctuated by another swat.

“Don’t leave me, Padfoot!” Sirius cackled, trying to defend himself. “Don’t leave me here with the crazy people . . .!”

“Do they come,” – swat – “crazier than you?“


Both men froze, Remus’s left hand halfway to his pocket to pull out a glove for better thwapping. He turned his head toward the source of the voice, and smiled pleasantly at the grey-haired man eyeing him with frosty disdain. “Um.” He dropped his other hand. He wasn’t sure what else to say.

“Do we have a problem, gentlemen?”

Sirius sniggered most unhelpfully. Remus eyed the man’s badge (Eustace Grubb, Assistant Manager) and simply smiled. “No, no problem.”

“We at Hamley’s do not condone the . . .” The man pressed his lips together and appeared to have a very bad smell under his nose. “The horseplay in which you were beginning to engage.”

“Ah.” Remus thumped Sirius as discretely as possible. The latter was snorting up his coat sleeve and generally acting in a manner likely to have them tailed by store security for the rest of the day. “Absolutely.”

“Do I make myself clear?”

“Most clear.” Remus nodded his head slightly, in a gesture of eighteenth-century courtesy. “We will . . .” He smiled in a rather pained fashion as Sirius let out an exploding yelp of laughter that was only two steps removed from a belch. “Restrain ourselves,” he finished, as the assistant manager’s cheeks burned an ever brighter shade of red. “Excuse us.”

Sirius at least had the good sense to follow Remus onto the escalator and away from the scene of their first crime. “That bloke had a bit of a stick up his arse, eh?” he asked, grinning with wicked delight.

“Sirius . . . “ Remus pinched the bridge of his nose. “We haven’t been in the store for five minutes.”


“And you almost got us thrown out!”

Sirius assumed an innocent and vaguely injured air. “Was I the one who started assaulting a customer on the sales floor?” he asked.

Remus goggled. “Assaulting a . . . you? . . . with . . . “

Sirius wiggled an eyebrow. “Oh now, don’t go getting flustered. You know how it turns me on.”

Remus blushed, and stuck his hands in his pockets. “Present. For Harry,” he said, marshalling all his resources away from the lascivious smile plastered on Sirius’s face. “What should we get?”

Sirius shrugged. “I thought we’d just wander,” he said, stepping off the escalator and into the wild blue yonder.

Remus had never heard such a terrible idea in all his life.



“Why what?”

“Why so many?”

Remus stared at the shelves and shelves of stuffed toys. At least this area of the store was relatively deserted, lowering the chances that Sirius could create a scene. “Well . . . there are a lot of animals in the world,” he offered, feebly.

“Yes, but why do Muggles like the boring ones? Even they have stories about dragons.” Sirius picked up a stuffed pig. “I mean, what does this guy do? Does his tail have any fantastical properties?”



“I doubt it.”

Sirius huffed. “And this fish . . . it’s just, you know . . . fish-looking.” He spread his hands, pig in one, fish in another. “Boring. Boring boring boring.”

“Leaving aside your erudite mind and its tendency toward boredom – do you think Harry would enjoy these?”

“He’s a very smart boy, Remus. These toys are beneath him.”

Remus arched an eyebrow. “I love the child as much as you do,” he said, patiently. “But he sucks on his own feet. He’s entertained by Prongs making googly faces and disappearing under a blanket.”

Sirius laughed. “But it’s funny when Prongs disappears under a blanket.”

“Oh Merlin preserve me.” Remus let his head fall forward into a display of stuffed sheep.

“What about a lion? A lion would be OK. I mean, he’ll be a Gryffindor someday. Where are the lions?”

Remus lifted his head just enough to keep track of where Sirius wandered. “Sure. Lion.”

“Or . . . “ With a sudden yelp, Sirius disappeared from view to emerge seconds later with a large duck-billed platypus in his hands. “What the hell is this doing here?” he asked.

Remus straightened up. “Oh. They know about those.”

“The Muggles do?”

Remus nodded. “Since 1797.”

Sirius blinked. “The things you carry around in your head . . .”

“I can’t help it. It was on the Muggle Studies OWL.”

“You could have forgotten it, though, right? Like any other red-blooded wizard.” He gave Remus a look of pity. “Think of the Quidditch scores you could remember if only your poor brain wasn’t stuffed with useless things like the biography of the duck-billed platypus.”

“Quidditch stats being a much more fruitful use for my intellect.”

“Goes without saying. But fascinating as this is, can we return to the fact that the Muggles know?” Sirius waved the platypus in an alarming fashion.

“Well they don’t know know. They just know it exists. They don’t know what it does.” Remus wandered over to where Sirius stood, still a little stunned. “I once heard that the Aborigines of Australia think it’s the offspring of a duck and a rat. Race was no barrier to their love, I’ll have you know.”

Sirius laughed. “I don’t know whether to rejoice for poor Wormtail’s love life, or weep because Muggles can’t see what’s right in front of their nose.”

“Peter seems to be doing alright. What’s that woman he’s dating?”


“Melanie,” Remus remembered. “He must like her. He’s always spending time with her. Never really see him anymore.”

Sirius gazed off into the distance, clearly having lost interest in the conversation. “What about blocks? Things Harry could build with?”

“With which he could build . . .”

Sirius bounced the small stuffed pig off Remus’s head. “One of these days Remus Lupin, you’re going to choke on all that righteous grammar advice. Choke and splutter and generally lose vital breath and possibly your life because you can’t let a sentence go by without correcting it.”

“I’ll take my chances. You want to look for blocks?”

Sirius muttered something that might have been blocks and might have been “bollocks.” It was anyone’s guess.


Sirius knew it was a bit of a failing, the way his mind sometimes wandered. It was just that there was so much to see and do and think, and sometimes he was done with things long before everyone else.

Done with blocks, for example, long before Remus.

He’d wandered off, he admitted it, following a trail of tiny toy construction vehicles and wooden trains around a corner and up another escalator and suddenly . . .

Suddenly he was standing in the middle of a nightmare. Everything was pink – oh God, so very pink – and there were roughly seventy-four thousand little girls running hither and yon. He stared at the signs on the wall. “SINDY” read one. “BARBIE” read another.

GET OUT OF HERE, read the neon flashing sign in his head.

Getting out was a tricky business. The dizzying pink had bamboozled his sense of direction, and it was hard to pick a path toward anything without tripping over a small girl. There was also the fact that he looked generally reprehensible and not at all like the sort of bloke who should be standing in the middle of the Sindy section. His palms began to sweat a little as he tried to avoid making eye contact with other adults. He quickly realized this made him look even shiftier than ever.

By the time Remus found him, Sirius was sitting cross-legged beside a tiny pink table, pretending to drink tea out of tiny pink teacups. Several mothers were smiling benevolently at him as he complied with the playtime requests of their daughters, and Remus only hoped he’d secured the former’s approbation through legal means rather than a group Imperio. As he moved closer he was relieved to spot a passable impersonation of a store ID pinned to Sirius’s coat.

He edged closer to the table. “Excuse me, sir?”

Sirius looked up, eyes bloodshot with panic. The words HELP ME were all but written on his forehead.

“Ah, well . . . I see you’re busy . . . perhaps I should find another assistant . . . “


Remus chuckled at the utterly horrified expression on Sirius’s face. “Well, if you’re sure you’re available . . . could you direct me toward the learning toys?”

“Of course,” said Sirius, making a move to get up, voice brittle with stress. There was a collective moan of disappointment from the surrounding throng.

“But you didn’t eat your cake,” said one little girl.

“Had a big breakfast,” said Sirius, feebly patting his belly. “All caked out.”

Another girl pouted. “You never got to wear the special tiara.”

Sirius briefly looked as if he might have a seizure, but channeled his energy instead toward standing. “Very true. I didn’t.” He swallowed. “I’ll just help this nice gentleman to his toys and then . . . “ He squirmed awkwardly. “P’raps I’ll be back?”

There was a murmur of pleased assent from the crowd and Sirius sighed with relief, grabbing Remus by the sleeve and maneuvering him down an aisle of gaudy ballet dresses in lilac and gold.
“The exit’s that way . . . “ said Remus, pointing behind them.

“You . . . “ Sirius kept walking, but pointed an accusing finger in his direction, trembling with the effort of not breaking out in a sting of expletives. “You’re . . . SO on Santa’s naughty list for threatening to leave me with those children.”

Remus quirked an eyebrow. “Promises, promises.”

“I am scarred, Remus, scarred. It was play tea party or be eaten alive by tiny, tiny Muggle girls.”

“I’d heard rumors of cannibalism breaking out again, but really, never imagined a toy store would . . . “

Sirius stopped dead. “Do not say another word. Point me toward the escalators and do not say another word.”

Remus lifted a hand and gestured to their left. “This is what happens when you wander off . . .” he said, blatantly ignoring all instructions to keep quiet.

Sirius yanked him forward again, toward their escape. “I am scarred, I am sweating, and I need the loo. You win, alright, you bloody win, I concede, I should never be allowed out on my own.” He spotted the escalator and broke into a run. “Oh thank Merlin, good Merlin, sweet Merlin, Merlin of my dreams . . . “

Remus sighed happily, thinking sweet thoughts of future blackmail.


It was apt that Sirius felt deeply puzzled, considering he stood in the puzzle section of the store. He stared in bewilderment at the object in Remus’s hand. “What does it do?”

“Well you mess with it until all the squares are jumbled, see?” Remus pointed to the diagram on the outside of the box. “And when it’s jumbled you have to work out how to make it all go back together so that each side is one solid color.”

Sirius looked from Remus to the Rubik’s Cube, and back at Remus again. “They really are the daftest things alive, these Muggles.”

“Shh, they’ll hear you.” Remus put the box back on the shelf, his hand lingering for a moment.

Sirius blinked in sudden comprehension. “Oh my God, you want one of those things, don’t you?”

“Maybe.” Remus shifted from foot to foot. “I mean . . . maybe.”

“You want a cube that’s all perfect and solid colors on every side so that you can mess it up and then spend hours trying to make it unmessy?”

Remus ducked his head. “Sanzfum,” he muttered.

“Hmm? What?” Sirius cupped a helpful hand behind his ear.

Remus chuckled despite himself. “I said it sounds fun.”

Sirius sighed from the bottom of his soul. “Oh Moony. Moony, Moony, Moony. You are such a sad old git.” He picked up one of the boxes. “Why I indulge you is beyond me.”

“You don’t have to . . . “

“Pfft, pfft and pfft,” said Sirius, batting Remus’s hand away. “Have to get you something for Christmas, don’t I? And if a twirly cube of Muggle daftness is what you want, then a twirly cube of Muggle daftness is what you’ll get.” The fact that he’d already bought and hidden a small kingdom of presents for the man beside him was quite beside the point.

“But Sirius . . . “

Sirius raised his eyebrows, then smiled with pleasure as Remus backed down from whatever eloquent protest he was about to raise. “S’Christmas. Shut up.”

“Thank you,” said Remus, awkwardly. “Is there . . . is there something you want?”

Sirius pressed his lips together very hard so as not to blurt out exactly what he always wanted. “There is,” he managed at last. “And while it’s something you can buy, I’d hope neither of us would have to pay for it. And I certainly hope it’s not available here.”

Remus frowned for a second before his eyes became very wide. “It’s not like you don’t get that all the time.”

“But for Christmas maybe I can have it . . . twice? Maybe even three times. In one day,” he grinned.

Remus worried his bottom lip between his teeth. “Perhaps.” He smiled suddenly. “Except that works out rather well for me too.”

“So many gifts, Moony, however will you manage?”

“I’ll stretch first,” said Remus, drifting off into the crowds.

“Stretch first? I . . . “ Sirius blinked suddenly. “Oh!”

God but he loved his boyfriend.


After three more hours Remus had begun to muse that the stamina required for Sirius’s Christmas gift was far less than he currently needed to simply survive this day. They’d examined toy soldiers, mobiles, picture books, footballs, trumpets, puppets, and a thing whose purpose escaped them, although it did made cool noises and had flashing lights.

And now this.

“Hold still.”

“I really don’t like this.”

“Hold still.”

“Padfoot, please.”

Sirius took a step back, looking critically at Remus’s face. “Hmmm, that’s good.”

Remus turned to look in a nearby, mirrored pillar. “A kitten? You painted my face to look like a kitten?”

Sirius grinned. “You’re the cutest little kitten that ever did live.”

“I should kill you right here. Kill you dead on the spot.”

“Aw, but that would be so sad. Then poor little kitten would be put in jail or taken to the animal shelter and fed the cheap kitten food instead of the Mr. Kipling Mince Pies for which he has an alarming weakness . . . “

Remus flexed his hands in Sirius’s direction, as if ready to make good on his threat. “I’m not a bloody kitten. Who is less kitten-like than me, a bloody w . . . . “ He clamped his mouth shut. “You do this just to make me crazy.”

“Yeah.” Sirius grinned, showing all his teeth. “You make it so much fun.”

Remus glanced right and left, waved a hand over his face, and muttered something under his breath. The kitten face-paint disappeared with a tiny pop. “Harry,” he said, attempting to remind Sirius of their purpose.

Sirius pouted a little, lifting a hand to touch the end of Remus’s nose with a finger. “Bye-bye sweet little kitten nose,” he said, sadly.

Remus hiccoughed a painful choke of laughter that desperately wanted to break free. “Harry,” he said again.

“OK, OK . . . “ Sirius sighed, and put back the sample face-paint kit. “I guess we’re going to have to go to Diagon Alley unless . . . “

Remus shook his head at the pathetically hopeful face turned to his. “You are not buying him a Darth Vader figure.”

“But he was cool. And he had that big stick.”

“We don’t even know what this Star Wars thing is. It could be some evil cult for all we know. It could be an evil cult destined to destroy your astronomical name sake and those of the rest of your family.”

“I couldn’t give a toss about the rest of my family.”

“Do you want the night sky to lack a dog star?”


“Then he’s not getting Darth Vader or an X-Wing fighter.”

Sirius sighed. “Well then. I guess we should pay for this stuff and go . . . elsewhere.”

Remus eyed him, perplexed. “I thought you already paid for the Cube?”

Sirius put his hand in his pocket and held up a giant tub of Playdough. “A keepsake,” he said, dreamily.

“You utter bastard,” said Remus “You want a keepsake to help you remember me pitching to my doom amid the Playdough display of death?”

Sirius shrugged happily. “But if you’d died amid the Playdough, Remus, think of how good you’d have smelled in the afterlife.”

Which was when Remus came very close to hitting him with the slug-spitting curse.


It was almost 8pm by the time Remus sank thankfully onto their sofa, shopping bags still clutched a little desperately in his hands. His coat was buttoned to the chin and his nose bright pink from the cold outside.

“Have you died?” asked Sirius, dropping his own mountain of bags in front of the fireplace.


Sirius eyed him for a second, lips quirked in a speculative half-smile. “Planning to take your coat off?”

Remus groaned. “Can’t move.”

“Sudden onset of twenty-four hour paralysis?”


“Ahhh.” Sirius crossed the room to gently take the bags from Remus’s hands. “Better?” he asked, adding them to the pile he’d made.


Sirius chuckled and shrugged out of his own coat, banishing it to the hall with a wave of his wand, sending the bags to the spare room in a similar fashion. “Long day,” he said, bending over the buttons of Remus’s faded wool jacket.

“Hmmmm.” Remus’s eyes had drifted closed.

“Don’t fall asleep on me.”


“You’re doing a passable impersonation of someone who is.”

Remus smiled and opened his eyes again, although it looked as if the effort cost him dearly. “M’wake.”

Sirius’s dipped his head to brush a kiss over the rough lips he loved so well. “For how long?” His hands worked steadily over the rest of the buttons.

Remus sighed, and moved enough to shrug out of the coat. “I’m sorry,” he said.

Sirius banished the coat and flopped down beside him. “Sorry isn’t generally thought of as a unit of time,” he said, taking one of Remus’s hands in his own and threading their fingers together.

“No . . . right. . . it’s just that segue is . . . “ Remus sighed and gave up.

Sirius chuckled. “Ok.”

“I thought Diagon Alley would be better.”

“Forgot about the wands, didn’t you?”

“Completely forgot. Armed Christmas shoppers . . . “ Remus shuddered.

“My favorite was the purple-haired witch . . . “

“In Odds and Bodkins?”

“ . . . who wanted the last Parliamentary Auror figure.”

Remus made some sad noise of remembrance. “Turning that other witch’s hands into enormous potato mashers was really very cruel.”

“Effective though.”

Remus couldn’t hold back a snort of amusement. “Hard to pick anything up when you have metal kitchen implements for hands.”

“Although very handy for leaving grid marks on the faces of people you don’t like.”


“Can’t believe it was all for a Parliamentary Auror figure. What are kids coming to? Why were there two dozen Flash Vehicle Division Aurors left untouched?”

“I think it’s because of Thatcher.”

“The Prime Minister?”

“Well she’s a Death Eater. Has to be. The kids are getting prepared.”

Sirius laughed and leaned in to press a seemingly chaste kiss to the side of Remus’s neck. Remus made a low, pleased noise at the back of his throat, causing Sirius’s fingers to clench and release with a will of their own. “You think Harry will like what we bought?”

Remus turned his head against the back of the sofa, the better to see Sirius’s slightly worried frown. “I think Harry will spend Christmas drooling and burping and laughing at table legs. If he remembers anything of this Christmas it’ll be the slightly faded sense that he was always loved. . . not the gift we spent eleven hours tracking down.”

Sirius lifted a hand to cup Remus’s cheek, absorbing the stubble-rough texture that prickled beneath his palm. “You say things like that and I want to . . . “

“Weep like a girl?”

“Shag you rotten.”

Remus laughed, turning his head to press a kiss into Sirius’s hand. “How I wish I had the energy to comply.”

Sirius slipped his hand to the back of Remus’s neck, exerting just enough pressure to pull him closer. “Maybe later,” he whispered, breath hot and close and slightly damp against the chill swiftly vanishing from Remus’s skin.

“Maybe . . . “ Remus closed the gap between them, sucking gently on Sirius’s full bottom lip until the latter groaned, nipping with his teeth before he pulled away and Sirius followed. Tongues touched and teased in unhurried playfulness, tiny sounds of pleasure circling between them until they were dizzy.

“Mmmmmm,” murmured Sirius, breaking away to press a kiss to Remus’s nose. “I’ve missed this.”

“Missed it?”

Sirius rested his head against the back of the sofa, so close Remus almost couldn’t focus. “Too much time away. Both of us. I miss all of this.”

“You miss eleven hour days spent shopping for gifts?”

He smiled. “No. Miss being with you. Miss the squabbling and the silliness and the fact that I can always trust you to rescue me from Muggle girls who want to eat my spleen.”

Remus smiled, gently – here was the thing, the quietly desperate thing that had hovered behind Sirius’s manic behavior all day. “Things won’t always be like this.”

“I know, but . . . ”

“And no matter what happens . . .”

“ . . . they could get worse . . . “

“No matter . . . “

“ . . .and there’s ugliness we can’t imagine . . . “

“No matter . . .”

“ . . . I worry. I worry we’ll forget . . . ”

“We won’t forget.” Remus spoke with such quiet determination that Sirius was almost taken aback. “If needs be we’ll take a leaf from Harry’s book. No matter what else fades, we won’t lose the memory of this Christmas. We’ll remember being well loved.”

It seemed such an insubstantial thing to pit against the coming year, but Sirius nodded. “A pact then.”

“A pact.”

They squeezed hands over it. Sirius paused for a moment. “And maybe a mince pie?”

Remus snorted. “I believe monarchs and wizarding potentates through the ages have always solidified such agreements with a nice bit of Mr. Kipling.”

“In the non-cannibalistic sense, of course.”

“Of course.”

Sirius kissed him hard and quick, before standing to move to the kitchen. He paused with a dazzling smile. “Happy Christmas, you sad old git.”

Remus grinned. “My favorite irredeemable bastard. Happy Christmas, warts and all.”

Light Amid Darkness, a Grimmauld Place sequel to this story, can be found here.
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