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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
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
Christmas Eve, and he was alone.
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.
wasn’t as empty as he’d expected.
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
never known Kayla to write on violet
“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
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:
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 .Don’t bother cooking.See you
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
wand down, Kingsley, it’s only me.”
relief was short-lived.Was it already?
what are you doing on the floor?” asked Kingsley, offering Tonks his hand.
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?”
on earth did you ever become an Auror?”
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
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.
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.
were you at Headquarters tonight?”
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
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.”
dropped her fork.She looked up at
Kingsley, her eyes wide.“She didn’t.”
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.”
buried her face in her arm on the table.“What did you tell her?”
her that the last place Sirius Black had been sighted was in Jamaica,
and that they were still reporting lovely weather there.”
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
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.
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
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
“Wait.I have one for you as well.AccioTonks’s Present!”A box, neatly wrapped in plain red paper, flew across the room.
caught it.“You didn’t have to, you
at her.“Neither did you.”
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.”
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.
think…what is it?”
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.”
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.
this is… this is wonderful.”Yeah, wonderful, Shacklebolt.Now your gift for her will look foolish.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
as friends,” he answered hastily.
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.
she shrieked and Kingsley found himself with an arm full of Tonks, who had
thrown herself around his neck.
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!”
to embrace him once more, and before he realized what he was doing, Kingsley
pressed his lips against hers.
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.
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.
have the perfect excuse,” said Tonks breathlessly.“The mistletoe.”
couldn’t remember hanging any mistletoe, and sure enough, there was none
hanging when he looked up.“Tonks, there
is no mistletoe.”
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.
said Tonks, tossing the mistletoe aside, “Who needs an excuse anyway?”She leaned in slowly and Kingsley closed his
eyes in sweet anticipation.
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.”
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.
leaned in for another one.
Christmas, Kingsley,” Tonks whispered against his lips.
Kingsley’s clock struck , 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.
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.”
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
that, she Disapparated.
“Merry Christmas to you too, Tonks.”
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