The Sugar Quill
Author: The Morning Starr (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: A Kingsley Christmas  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Disclaimer: Excuse me while I borrow J

Disclaimer: Excuse me while I borrow J.K. Rowling’s wonderful universe for a bit.

 

Author’s Notes: This plot bunny attacked me right after I finished reading OotP.  I finally got around to writing it months later.

 

Heaps of thanks go to the SQ Workshop 2 women for their encouragement and feedback, and to Ara Kane, friend, workshopper, and SQ Beta Reader extraordinaire. 

 

 

A Kingsley Christmas

 

 

            He was alone.

 

            It was Christmas Eve, and he was alone.

 

            It was Christmas Eve, and Kingsley Shacklebolt had put in a full day at the office in order to let the other Aurors spend the day with their families, just to come home to an empty flat.

 

            Only it wasn’t as empty as he’d expected.

 

            Waiting for him outside his door was a tawny owl.  Probably from Kayla, he thought, an image of his younger sister’s face coming to mind.  Most likely demanding that I Apparate over to her place tomorrow for dinner.  Of course, that wasn’t going to be possible.  He’d already agreed to work a double shift the next day, and then he had guard duty at the Department of Mysteries, though it wasn’t as if he could explain that to his sister.

 

            Odd, he’d never known Kayla to write on violet parchment.

 

            “What have you brought me?” asked Kingsley, looking at the bird suspiciously. The owl stuck its leg out in reply.  “Come on.  I’ve got treats in the kitchen.  I’ll give you an extra, as it’s Christmas.”

 

            Kingsley muttered three unlocking charms (each one progressively more difficult) and switched on the electric lights that he used to keep his Muggle landlord from getting suspicious about his low electric bill.  He held the door open to let the owl swoop inside and land on the windowsill in the kitchen.  Kingsley locked the door behind him with three different locking charms, as he liked to vary them—just in case.  He once kept anti-Apparation wards up as well, but as he was rarely home he no longer saw the use for them.

 

            He hung up his cloak on the rack near the door before making his way to the kitchen.  He gave the owl some treats and then removed the vivid parchment from its leg.  The owl flapped its wings, signaling to Kingsley that it was ready to go.  He opened the kitchen window and watched the bird fly off into the cold night.

 

            One look at the gold ink in which his name was written let him know who the letter was from.  He unfolded the parchment and as soon as his eyes adjusted to the gold on violet, he read:

 

            Wotcher Kingsley!

 

            Happy Christmas, you great workaholic!  As I’m willing to bet this month’s wages that you don’t have any plans for Christmas, I’ll be coming by tonight to bring your present.  You’ll probably work late, so I’ll come around half past nine.  Don’t bother cooking.  See you then!

 

            Tonks

 

            Kingsley felt his lips curve into a stupid grin.  He suspected she might visit, and he couldn’t pretend that he wasn’t glad for it.  For the first time in his life since he became an Auror, he had friends, a social life, decent meals.  The fact that being a member of the Order meant that his life and career were on the line didn’t matter.  Kingsley felt alive.

 

            He had felt alive before, years ago, when he first became an Auror.  The fast-paced, exciting assignments sending him on field investigations of varying degrees of danger had led him to throw himself into his work.  Kingsley hadn’t dated much in those early years: he was married to his work, and most witches were looking for someone who would be home at night.  The overtime he put in led to promotions, and he quickly moved from lowly field investigator to leading the investigations.  With that new position, he spent even more time at work, leading to further promotions.  He’d lost count of how many nights he slept at the office, after an evening looking over evidence, reading the eyewitness accounts, and piecing together clues.  Nights that other Aurors spent at home with their families, Kingsley also spent with his, but his family consisted of his wand and his file folders.

 

            Eventually the promotions led to desk jobs, and Kingsley found himself spending more time in the office and less time in the field.  His job became monotonous, but he’d spent so many years with no life outside of work that he had nothing to go home to.  The number of hours he worked per week never decreased, but his enjoyment certainly did.  Even when he was assigned the Sirius Black case, he hardly cared.  He wasn’t the one who got to Disapparate to different countries each week to investigate a sighting.  It was his job to piece together the field notes of his subordinates, and their notes were never as concise as his own.

 

            When Dumbledore asked him to join the Order, he jumped at the chance.  He gradually began to lessen his time at the office, and as everyone thought it was about time he got a life outside of work, no one really said much.  His fellow Aurors simply assumed that he had finally found a girlfriend, and they only bothered him for details about this non-existent woman.

 

            Kingsley had been introduced to Nymphadora Tonks on his second visit to Number Twelve Grimmauld Place.  He recognized her immediately as one of the new Aurors (few as they were coming these days), but he’d never spoken to her much at the office.  Tonks had been assigned to another case, owing to the fact that she was related to Sirius Black.  The two Aurors had formed a quick friendship, being able to talk to one another about work and Order business, covering for one another at the office, allowing rumors circulate about their relationship in order to keep their co-workers from catching on to what they were really up to in the evenings.

 

            Add to that Molly Weasley’s cooking, and Kingsley couldn’t imagine life without the Order.  Sure, it was dangerous work, but he thrived on that part of it.  After all, he wasn’t doing anything riskier than his early days as an Auror, and now he was being fed and he had real friends.

 

            It was ironic that after so many evenings with only his files to keep him company, suddenly the prospect of coming home to an empty flat suffocated him with loneliness.

 

            He read the note again.  Tonks had a present for him.  Of course, he had one for her as well, but up until now he wasn’t sure if he wanted to give it.  Looking at his watch told him that he still had a few more minutes to decide.

 

            The only part of the note that alarmed him was the “don’t bother cooking” statement.  Kingsley wasn’t sure if she meant that she was bringing Molly’s cooking or if Tonks was going to attempt to cook herself.  The prospect of the latter made him grimace.  Tonks was a great friend and a brilliant Auror, but her skills in the kitchen left much to be desired.  But it wasn’t as if his own cooking compared with Molly’s either, so perhaps he shouldn’t criticize.

 

            Kingsley set the parchment down on the table before wandering aimlessly to the washroom.  Without being able to explain why, he found himself freshening up, checking his teeth in the mirror, making sure his hoop earring wasn’t tarnished, and generally feeling like he was back at Hogwarts and about to take a girl to Hogsmeade.

 

            Groaning, he let his forehead fall forward and hit the mirror, gently banging it a couple of times.  “Come on, Shacklebolt,” he said aloud.  “Get it together.”

 

            He left the washroom and was determined to go straight back to the kitchen.  The stale office smell on his robes, however, led him into his bedroom, and he found himself staring at his wardrobe for a full seven minutes trying to choose a fresh pair of robes.  In the spirit of Christmas, he chose the forest green robes with the red and gold trim.  Kayla had given them to him last year, so perhaps they met female approval.

 

            While inspecting his appearance in the mirror, he kept smoothing out his robes in spite of himself, all the while trying to convince his pulse that it was normal to want to freshen up for a guest.  Feeling at the height of foolishness, he yanked a pair of plain, slate blue robes out of the wardrobe and was about to change into them when a crash in the front hallway caught his attention.

 

            Thinking quickly, Kingsley collected his wand off of his bed and silently moved down the hallway, holding it steady in front of him.  He rounded the corner slowly.  A cloaked and hooded figure was crouching down, facing away from Kingsley.  He pointed his wand at the figure and was about to shout out a Stunning charm when the figure spoke.

 

            “Put your wand down, Kingsley, it’s only me.”

 

            Kingsley’s relief was short-lived.  Was it half past nine already?

 

            “Tonks, what are you doing on the floor?” asked Kingsley, offering Tonks his hand. 

 

            “My hands were full, so I couldn’t knock.  I decided to Apparate inside, but I forgot you kept this ruddy coat-rack here.  I Apparated right into it and dropped all the food Molly sent over.”  Tonks gestured with her head to the containers she had stacked in her arms.  “It’s a good thing she put Sealing Charms on them, eh?”

 

            “Tonks, how on earth did you ever become an Auror?”

 

            “Not sure, but the answer to that is probably kept at the Department of Mysteries.  It certainly qualifies as one.”  She shoved the food containers into his arms.  “Take these so I can get my cloak off.”

 

            Kingsley did as he was told, and Tonks hung her cloak on the rack that had just caused all of the commotion.  Her hair, to Kingsley’s amusement, was red and green and hanging in ringlets that reminded him of curled ribbon. 

 

            Turning back to Kingsley, Tonks took in his attire.  “Well, aren’t you merry?  Dumbledore would be quite proud.  You should’ve seen his robes tonight.  He looked more festive than Father Christmas himself!”  She followed him into the kitchen.

 

            “How long were you at Headquarters tonight?”

 

            “Just long enough to get my assignment for tomorrow and pick up some food to bring here.  Spent most of the day with Mum and Dad.  Lupin and Mad-Eye are taking the Weasleys to St. Mungo’s tomorrow, so I get the lovely task of guarding Headquarters alone with the warm-hearted Kreacher muttering about me being a half-blood.”  Tonks let out a heavy sigh as she shook her head.  “How was the office today?”

 

            Kingsley had just unsealed the containers of food and was inhaling the savory aromas.  Realizing he didn’t have any clean dishes, he conjured two plates and some silverware.  “Incredibly boring.  I spent most of the day pretending to follow leads on Sirius that I knew were false.  Some of them were rumors I’d started myself.”  Kingsley split up the steak and kidney pies between them.  “The highlight of the day was when I received a lovely Floo from your mother.”

 

            Tonks dropped her fork.  She looked up at Kingsley, her eyes wide.  “She didn’t.”

 

            Kingsley nodded, an amused grin plastered on his face.  “After wishing me a Merry Christmas, she then scolded me for being in a nice, warm office while her cousin was probably lost in the snow somewhere.  Apparently my time would be better spent out there finding him and making sure he received a trial this time.”

 

            Tonks had buried her face in her arm on the table.  “What did you tell her?”

 

            “I assured her that the last place Sirius Black had been sighted was in Jamaica, and that they were still reporting lovely weather there.”

 

            Tonks giggled.  “I’m sorry, Kingsley.  This time of year is just hard on her.  Of course, she was doing okay until she got into the Dragon Rum.  She must have called you some time afterwards.”

 

            The two ate in a comforting silence for a few moments.  Then Tonks spoke quietly.  “I wish I could tell her, Kingsley,” she said while looking down at her plate.  “She always insisted on his innocence.  She’d called Mr. Crouch every day demanding a trial for Sirius.  She deserves to know the truth.  She needs to know.  He’s all she has left of her family, especially since another Christmas will probably go by without so much as a piece of scrap parchment from Narcissa.”

 

            Kingsley’s heart went out to Tonks.  He thought briefly what it would be like for him if Kayla no longer spoke to him.  The idea alone made him nauseated.  He couldn’t imagine what it must be like for Andromeda Tonks to be disowned by most of her family and then to deal with the imprisonment of the one cousin who’d stuck by her. 

 

            And Tonks looked up to her mother greatly.  It wasn’t easy on her either.  He was struck by a sudden urge to embrace his friend, but was instantly embarrassed by the thought.  He settled for fidgeting with his fork.

 

            Tonks stood unexpectedly.  “Enough about my family woes,” she said brightly, blinking her eyes rapidly.  “I’ll be right back.”  She hurried out of the kitchen, and returned a moment later, a small package wrapped in paper printed with Father Christmases that really chuckled, “Ho, ho, ho!”  She thrust the package in his arms.  “Happy Christmas, Kingsley.”

 

            “Wait.  I have one for you as well.  Accio Tonks’s Present!  A box, neatly wrapped in plain red paper, flew across the room.

 

            Tonks caught it.  “You didn’t have to, you know.”

 

            He smiled at her.  “Neither did you.”

 

            “You first.” 

 

            Kingsley started carefully removing the Spellotape from the paper.  He was slow and methodical in his task and finally Tonks yelled, “It doesn’t bite; just open the bloody thing.”

 

            Kingsley laughed at himself and ripped at the remaining wrapping.  Inside was a box about the length of a wand.  He removed the top, and inside was a strip of soft cloth-like material that was taking on the color of the inside of the box.

 

            “Do you like it?”

 

            “I think…what is it?”

 

            “It’s a Wand Concealer.  It’s partly made from Demiguise hair so that it will blend with your arm, allowing for quick and subtle wand removal.  Here, I’ll show you how to put it on.” 

 

            She walked around the table to where Kingsley was sitting and picked up his left hand.  His pulse quickened, and Tonks must have been able to feel it, as Kingsley noticed her cheeks had gone slightly pink.  He was silently thankful that his dark cheeks hid his own blush.  She removed the Wand Concealer from its box and fastened the straps around his arm, the first just above his wrist and the second closer to his elbow.  It immediately blended with his skin so that it was hardly visible.  Tonks then took his wand from the table and placed it gently inside the Concealer.  It was odd because Kingsley could feel his wand against his forearm, but he could barely see it.  She stood again, and stepped back as if to admire him.

 

            “How is it?”

 

            “Tonks, this is… this is wonderful.”  Yeah, wonderful, Shacklebolt.  Now your gift for her will look foolish.

 

            “Good. I was hoping you’d like it.  I found it at Ollivander’s, and I thought it would be perfect.”  She was smiling softly, but she suddenly seemed unable to look at him and began fidgeting with her own wand.

 

            “It is… the perfect gift.  But now you can’t open yours.  It’s silly.  I’ll get you something else.”  He made a move to grab the package, but she beat him to it.

 

            “Don’t be ridiculous.  I’m sure that whatever it is, I’ll love it.”  She began unwrapping the package slowly, the same way Kingsley had earlier.  She looked up him, her grin mischievous.  “See how much suspense this causes?”  Tonks chuckled at herself before ripping the rest of the paper off.

 

            She looked at the white shirt-sized box only a second before ripping through that as well.  Her eyes fell on the small sheet of parchment lying on top of a shirt.  Kingsley cringed inwardly as she read it out loud.

 

            “This I.O.U. is redeemable for two tickets to next Weird Sisters concert of your choice.”  He saw her squint to read the smaller writing underneath.  “I didn’t know what our assignments would look like, so the next time you’re free, I’ll buy the tickets then.”  She met his eyes, her cheeks almost as red as the wrapping paper discarded on the floor.  “Why, Kingsley Shacklebolt, are you asking me out?”

 

            Kingsley tried to remain calm as he ran a hand over his bald head and sat there in his ridiculous Christmas robes that he should have never put on.  Of course she wouldn’t want to go.  This was the worst gift he could have chosen for her, and now she was going to be self-conscious around him as she tried to let him down easily.

 

            “Just…erm…just as friends,” he answered hastily.

 

            Tonks winked at him and then lifted the t-shirt out of the box.  It was a Weird Sisters World Tour shirt that Kingsley had been assured was a collector’s item.  He assumed it was, as it was from their first ever tour.  On the front was a picture of the band and on the back was a list of the cities and dates of the concerts.  Tonks looked at the shirt as if it were something fragile, running her hand tenderly along the fabric, her eyes steadily widening as if she was just realizing what it was.

 

            Suddenly she shrieked and Kingsley found himself with an arm full of Tonks, who had thrown herself around his neck. 

 

            She pulled away, nearly bouncing.  “Do you realize what this is?  This is a first ever World Tour Shirt.  Merlin’s beard, Kingsley!  This is the best!”

 

            Tonks moved to embrace him once more, and before he realized what he was doing, Kingsley pressed his lips against hers.

 

            When he tried to back away in embarrassment, Tonks slid her hand behind his head and pulled him to her, much to his surprise and delight.  At that point, Kingsley lost himself in the kiss as he wrapped his own arms around her waist and drew her in closer to him.  He could feel her heart beating fast against his chest—though perhaps that was his own.  He tried to remind himself to breathe.

 

            After a moment of pure bliss, Kingsley’s humiliation set in again.  What was he doing?  Tonks was his co-worker, his friend.  He pulled away, this time resisting her when she tried to kiss him again.

 

            “Tonks, we can’t…we shouldn’t.”

 

            “But we have the perfect excuse,” said Tonks breathlessly.  “The mistletoe.”

 

            Kingsley couldn’t remember hanging any mistletoe, and sure enough, there was none hanging when he looked up.  “Tonks, there is no mistletoe.”

 

            Leaning across him (and knocking the fork off of his plate), Tonks plucked her wand from the table and promptly conjured some mistletoe.  Kingsley couldn’t help but laugh.

 

            “Besides,” said Tonks, tossing the mistletoe aside, “Who needs an excuse anyway?”  She leaned in slowly and Kingsley closed his eyes in sweet anticipation.

 

            A sharp pain on the bridge of his nose caused him to open his eyes again.  Tonks was holding her own nose behind her hands, apparently hurt as well.  “Ouch.  Sorry about that.  Here, let me fix it.”  She scrunched up her face the way Kingsley had seen her do many times before, yet he still watched in amazement as her nose shrunk into a cute button shape before his eyes.  “Perhaps now it won’t get in the way.”

 

            Without thinking, Kingsley raised his hand to her cheek and caressed it, realizing for the first time that he didn’t have a favorite “look” for Tonks.  There was something about her that shone through, no matter what her hair or her nose looked like on a given day.  She somehow always looked like Tonks to him, and something about kissing her just made sense.

 

            So he leaned in for another one.

 

            “Merry Christmas, Kingsley,” Tonks whispered against his lips.

           

~*~*~

 

            When Kingsley’s clock struck midnight, the reality of reporting to the office in six hours hit him and finally pried himself out of Tonk’s embrace.  She stuck out her bottom lip in a pout, and Kingsley stifled a laugh as he insisted he get some sleep before putting in another long day at the office.

 

            He stood up and begrudgingly led her by the hand to his front door.  She removed her cloak from the coat rack (almost knocking it down again) and threw it on.

 

            “We’re having turkey for Christmas dinner tomorrow,” said Tonks as she fastened the buttons.  “I’ll bring some over to you at the office before they head to St. Mungo’s.”

 

            She seized Kingsley by his robes and pulled him into a final kiss.  Then she stepped back, hugging her Weird Sisters World Tour shirt, and looked him up and down.

 

            “Oh, and Shacklebolt,” said Tonks with a raised eyebrow, “next time you ask me out, don’t give me any of this just as friends bollocks.  It’s a load of Doxy droppings.”  With that, she Disapparated.

 

            “Merry Christmas to you too, Tonks.”

 

~*~*~

//
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