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Missing Moments It's Christmas at Grimmauld Place, with all of the folks from home. Our beloved metamorphmagus seems to be missing, though...or is she? Thanks JKR - I've been having fun playing with these characters. 

Chapter Four – 

Christmas Christmas Eve at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place was surprisingly pleasant. Remus Lupin had spent many Christmases alone over the years, and even a few in his wolf state. As compared to that, this drafty, dusty old house was a welcome change. There were children everywhere – mostly of the redheaded Weasley variety, although Hermione and Harry were there as well. He was so pleased to see Harry smiling – being with Sirius brought out he best in him, and made him feel like he had a family again. Remus felt a twinge of jealousy at Sirius’ relationship with the boy. He would have been thrilled to be a father-figure in Harry’s life, but he knew that in a strange way, Sirius needed Harry as much as Harry needed him. 

At the moment, Sirius, Harry and Ginny were decorating a giant tree in the sitting room. There were a few little fairies and enchanted candles offering a soft light, and the three were now attaching various little globes and bows. Every few minutes they would come across a Christmas ball that blew up in their hands, shouted festive obscenities or turned to stone the second it was placed on a branch, nearly toppling the tree. These were courtesy of Fred and George, who roared laughing at the success of their inventions. Ginny was clearly annoyed, but Harry and Sirius seemed genuinely amused by the occasional surprises. The tree fell twice, onto a cluster of very disgruntled fairies, whose glowing lights changed from softest pink to a fierce, angry red. The result was quite stunning, Remus decided. 

Once the tree was up, Sirius unveiled a giant punchbowl on the press that was filled with eggnog. He offered a cup to Remus, who accepted it thankfully. After a sip, however, Remus doubled-over and appeared to be choking. 

“What’s…in…this?” he sputtered. 

“Napoleon Brandy…and Firewhiskey…and, oh, I don’t know, eggs or something. Ginny added cinnamon, I think.” Sirius took a rather large swig from his own cup, and didn’t even flinch. Surprisingly, Molly did the same. The others were politely nursing theirs. Arthur, only recently back from St. Mungo's, tried to subtly throw his in the fire when no one was looking. Unfortunately, the vast concentration of alcohol caused the flames to rise about 5 feet, drawing attention to his actions and singeing the stockings that were hanging there . Ron managed to sneak a cup and was determined to drink it. He turned green after about two sips, however, and had to run off to the bathroom. When he returned, Hermione shot him a disapproving look, but then crossed the room to join him on the sofa. Remus chuckled a little. He wondered if those two would ever figure out how they felt about each other. Young love…it was very cute to watch. 

Within an hour, Sirius was very drunk, and was singing Christmas carols, badly, at the top of his lungs. Then he began kissing every man, woman and child within reach. Molly blushed when he dipped and kissed her, and Arthur chuckled and patted him on the head when he did the same to him. Ron appeared to be nervous, and declared that it was bed time at about 10:15. The rest of the children followed him upstairs. Harry waited until the others were gone, and then gave Sirius a long hug. Then he bounded up the stairs after his friends. 

Remus caught Sirius’ eyes, which were brimming with tears. He clapped him on the shoulder and said, forcefully “Merry Christmas, Padfoot.” 

Sirius sniffed, and shook Remus’ hand. “Merry Christmas, Moony. Bloody hell…it’s a good day.” It had been a good day. Only one thing was missing. Tonks. She was spending Christmas with her folks. Sirius had asked her to come to number Twelve, but she said that her father would be heartbroken to spend the holidays without her. Remus wasn’t ungrateful. This was easily his best Christmas in years, but having Tonks there would have made it perfect. He had to admit that to himself. At about midnight the adults turned in. Remus made his way to his room, on the second floor. It was very simply furnished, but was easily the cleanest room in the house. He rivaled Molly for tidiness. He summoned Kreacher, and sent him off to deliver presents to the various rooms in the house. Then he changed into pyjamas, crawled into bed, and drifted into a dreamless sleep. 

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He awakened early the next morning, showered quickly and quietly, and dressed. Molly had pressed his black trousers and white shirt, which looked decent for Christmas day. He managed to find a pair of socks with no holes in them, and was quite pleased with himself. It was only 5:30. No one else would be awake for hours, he reckoned, so he sat at his desk and began reading. 

He was startled, moments later, to hear footsteps on the stairs. He reached for his wand, and made his way stealthily to his door. Then he heard a soft thud and a hushed “bollocks!”, and breathed a sigh of relief. 

He opened his door. “Tonks! Crikey, you’re going to wake the whole house! Get in here!” 

He pulled her into his room and shut the door. 

“Wotcher, Moony! Happy Christmas!” she whispered to him. She was in a large black overcoat, and had not yet morphed herself for the day. He took a moment to appreciate her dark hair and unadorned features. Then something occurred to him. 

“How did you get in?” he asked. 

“Well, you know, I hadn’t thought that far ahead when I left Mom and Dad’s place. As it turned out, no one had locked any of the doors. That’s pretty dangerous, Moony. How drunk were you last night, anyway?” 

“Not too bad. A little hung over this morning, mind you.” 

“What did you drink?” “Sirius’ eggnog”. 

Tonks winced appreciatively. “I had Daddy’s hot buttered rum, so I’m in no better shape myself,” she added. There was a bit of uncomfortable silence. Remus didn’t quite know what to say or do with the pretty girl who had appeared in his room. 

“So…Tonks…what brings you here?” He attempted to sound calm. 

“Oh.” She blushed a little, placing a small bag on his bed. “Well, I didn’t have time to bring my presents by yesterday, so I thought I’d drop them off. My plan was to get in and get out unseen – what are the odds, eh? Actually, I did want to give you yours in person, though, so it’s good that you’re up.” 

Remus smiled a little. “I have something for you as well.” He went to his closet, and hauled out an elaborately wrapped box with a massive bow around it. She looked at it quizzically. “The girl in the shop wrapped it,” he offered, by way of explanation. She grabbed it, but before she could open it, he stopped her. 

“Now listen, Tonks. I saw this and thought that you would like it. I DON’T think that you’re a child, so please don’t be insulted. It just seemed like something you would want.” He held his breath as she tore open the paper. He hoped that she liked it. She had mentioned once that she had a fondness for muggle toys, and that her mother didn’t let her have them as a child. He’d seen this in a little shop in London, and felt she had to have it. He’d spent a little more than he should have on it, too, and was now feeling like a bit of a fool. What if she thought it was ridiculous? Tonks finally made her way through the layers of paper and ribbon, to expose the present beneath. It was a large, pink Barbie camper van with dolls and a picnic table and millions of other little accessories. She stared at it for a second. Remus was terrified. He didn’t need to be. Tonks began jumping up and down, and knocked over a chair. She was squealing, and Remus had to remind her again not to awaken the whole house. 

“I have ALWAYS wanted this! How did you know?!” she asked, grinning.
 
“Oh – you mentioned it once. I happened to see it in a shop, and I thought of you, and…” He couldn’t finish the sentence, because she had thrown her arms around him, and was still jumping up and down. “Alright, then, Nymphadora. Calm down.” He couldn’t help but enjoy her enthusiasm. 

They stayed quiet for a moment, and then Tonks spoke. “Well, I guess I might as well give you my gift, although it’s a bit of an anti-climax after this” she said, fingering the lines of the camper van as though they were precious. She dug in her bag, and pulled out something small, and unwrapped. She held it behind her back, and said “It’s nothing, really. I hope you like it.” She nervously passed it to him. 

It was a painting. A small, dark watercolour of a full moon. It was really quite lovely. “I painted it myself,” she added, as an explanation. 

“It’s beautiful” Remus said. He was about to say “Thank you” when he noticed something. The perspective in the painting was…familiar. “Tonks – did you paint this from my room?” he asked. 

She blushed a little. “Now Remus, please don’t be mad. You were ‘out of commission’ one night, and I came up and did it. I didn’t touch any of your things, or anything. I just…well, it was a beautiful night, and I knew you’d never be able to appreciate it from here, and I thought…oh…” she was getting quite flustered. She buried her face in her hands, and so was unable to see the smile that was spreading across Remus’ face. 

“Tonks…Nymphadora,” he took her hands down and looked into her now-misty eyes. “It’s the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever received. I’ll look at it every night, and think of your kindness. It’s wonderful.” Tonks smiled, and stared at him for just a moment. She seemed to find some confidence deep inside her, and when she spoke again, it was in a commanding tone. 

“Good. I got you something else, too.” 

“You could never top this, Nymphadora – it’s too much.” 

“Oh, don’t worry. This is something that’s for both of us. We can share it.” With that, she took off her large overcoat, to reveal what appeared to be her sleep attire underneath. She had on a tiny white tank top and a pair of boxer shorts with Santa Claus and reindeer all over them. Remus took a step back, looking terrified. “Oh, calm your hormones, handsome. It’s not as though I’ve got my ass wrapped in a bow for you.” He looked relieved. And maybe a touch disappointed, Tonks noted happily. 

She folded down the waistband of her boxers to reveal a tattoo high on her hip. The tattoo was of a rather beautiful wolf. Remus had no words. He just stared. “I’m sure there’s a great story that goes with it, but I’ll be rogered if I can remember it. I was out with the girls. I was very drunk. I woke up with this. I assume I was thinking of you when I had it done. So it’s ours. Yours and mine. We’re the only people who will ever see it, or touch it.” 

That seemed to shock Remus out of his reverie. “T-Touch it?!” he asked, still seeming terrified. 

“Sure – it’s part of your gift, Remus. Of course you get to touch it.” With that, she grabbed his right had, and placed it on her hip. At first he did nothing but continue to stare, but then, slowly, he began tracing the outline of the wolf with his thumb. He bit his lip and caught his breath. The sensation of rough skin on smooth was almost more than either of them could bear. He looked up into her expectant eyes, his thumb still making lazy circles on her hip. His other hand reached for her cheek, and he began to lean towards her. She closed her eyes. He could feel her breathing. She was so close. He closed his eyes, leaned further, and then… 

BANG! They heard a loud crash in the hallway, and jumped apart. Mrs. Black began to scream about HALF-BREEDS! and SCUM!, and Sirius swore violently at her. Then he rapped on Remus’ door and shouted “Happy Christmas, Moony! Time for breakfast! Bugger me, am I ever hung over!” He continued down the stairs, never discovering that Tonks was in the house. The result of the interruption, however, was instant. 

Tonks was blushing furiously, and collected her coat and her present. Remus murmured his thanks, and ushered her out of his room. Tonks did her best to tiptoe down the hall. 

“So close,” she muttered to herself as she clambered down the stairs. Remus sat on his bed and thought longingly of his presents. Then he shook his head, and rubbed the back of his neck distractedly. 

“Too close,” he told himself, and went down to join Sirius in the kitchen. 


(Got time to write a quick review? The constructive criticism would do me good. Thanks! Paloma)

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