The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.
This story was
inspired by characters and events created and owned by J.K.
Rowling. No copyright infringement is intended. The sentimental Christmas
ballad playing in the foyer is “A Christmas Love Song,” lyrics by Alan and
Marilyn Bergman. Also Remus makes a passing reference to a classic seasonal poem
by Clement Moore. Can you spot it?
tale is set during Christmas 2000. (Yes, I know, it’s January. Think of this as
a belated holiday greeting, arriving just in time for the January doldrums.) Remus
is married to Angela (née Hawkins) and has twin boys, named Sirius and James in
remembrance of his old mates. Snape also has survived the war and has married
Angela’s wealthy, pure-blood cousin, Ravena.
are owed to my friend and beta reader, Mrs. Lovegood,
for her suggestions and editing talents.
A passing light streaming through
the bedroom window washed over Angela’s bare shoulders and bathed her face in
its light. Her eyes remained closed, unaware of Remus’ stare. Soft tresses lay
across her cheek, begging for his touch. His fingers wove through the silky
Angela stirred. Sleepy eyes peered
over at him through a tangle of curls. She smiled. She scooted over on the bed
and nestled her body against his. He pulled her close. The warmth of her skin
radiated through his pajamas. Angela’s breath blew hot against his ear. A
contented murmur, soft and low, escaped her lips. His
He kissed her cheek, working his
way to her mouth. His hand wandered down the length of her back to rest on her
backside, a deliberate trajectory. Her fingers conducted a search of their own,
tracing a tingling path down his torso. Sweet Merlin, yes.
A child’s panicked cry pierced the
For Agrippa’s sake, not again. Remus
caught his breath. Perhaps the child would go back to sleep. Perhaps it was
Angela pulled away. She froze
motionless, her ear tuned to the cry. The siren wail increased in pitch and
intensity, joined now in dissonant harmony by the cries of the child’s twin
brother. Angela shot Remus an apologetic glance, then moved from the bed.
“Please don’t go,” he whispered. He
grabbed for her, but the look on Angela’s face told him that he could not
change her mind. He tried another tack. “You stay here. I’ll go this time. I’ll
be back before you know it.”
He jumped out of bed and pulled his
dressing gown over his pajamas, muttering under his breath. What could it be?
Whatever it was, he would quickly put it right and go back to his wife. Perhaps
the mood would not be spoiled.
He sprinted across the corridor to
the boys’ room and opened the door. High-pitched squeals assaulted his ears.
His three-year-old twin boys clutched each other on the bed, four blue eyes
wide with fright.
“What’s going on in here?” he
“Daddy, Daddy, monster unner bed,” James, the first twin, yelled.
“There are no monsters under the
bed,” Remus said. He uttered an exasperated sigh and ran a hand through his
hair. Of all the childish excuses. Remus shook his
noises.” James’ chubby arms flailed in panic.
eat us,” Sirius, his brother, added. Both children erupted in hysterical
“Calm down,” Remus said. “Monsters
don’t hide under children’s bed. That’s just an old wives’ tale.”
The children’s terrified wails rose
to an ear-splitting pitch. He should have known better than to try logic on a
couple of screaming tots. He sighed.
“Look, I’ll show you.”
Remus crouched to his knees and peered
under the bed. A set of gleaming white teeth and two glowing eyes stared back
from between an assortment of children’s toys. The creature emitted a menacing
growl. Then a fur covered object shot out from under the bed and ran straight
toward him, sending a flurry of shredded paper flying about the room.
“Oy!” Remus straightened with surprise.
He dodged the hairy attacker and
whipped his wand from the pocket of his dressing gown. He cast the first spell
that came to mind. The hex hit. The creature stopped dead in its tracks. A
tendril of smoke rose from its singed fur.
The two boys catapulted from the
bed and ran pell-mell from the room amid more shrieks and screams. Remus
approached the stunned creature and picked it up. The Children’s Book of Monster Tales, he read. A
gift from Hagrid.
The clock in the hall chimed . Christmas morning
already. No children nestled all snug in their beds. No visions of
sugarplums. No Christmas magic with his wife. He sighed. This night was not
going well at all.
* * *
A mahogany table stretched across
the dining room of the HawkinsMansion
like an endless black ribbon. The bounteous holiday feast lay upon its polished
surface: salvers of turkey with all the trimmings, tureens of vegetables,
turnips, and potatoes, Christmas puddings and mince pies. A massive ice
sculpture surrounded by evergreen boughs graced the center. James Hawkins,
Angela’s uncle, sat at the head of the table with his extended family bunched
up on one end. This house was nothing like the comfortable Lupin cottage with
worn and familiar furnishings that Remus shared with his wife and two
rambunctious boys. Remus took an idle jab at his roast turkey.
He fingered his water goblet,
eyeing his reflection in the shiny polished surface. His forty-one years showed
in the deepened crow’s feet about his eyes and the abundance of gray around his
temples. Good Godric, he even looked tired, and it
had been two weeks since the last full moon.
The events of the previous night
ran through his head. By the time he had rounded up his two little boys, calmed
them, and tucked them back into bed, more than an hour had passed. He’d returned
to his own room only to find Angela asleep. He didn’t have the heart to wake
He inhaled. The smell of the pine
boughs decorating the dining hall filled his nostrils. The pungent scent,
reminiscent of the ForbiddenForest,
reawakened his remembrance. Light bounced off the crystal chandeliers floating
above the table and glistened against the ceiling like a million tiny stars on
a blanket of sky.The ice sculpture in the shape of a buck
beckoned to him. Was it his imagination? Or did that centerpiece look
Remus’ thoughts strayed to those
nights when he roamed the grounds of Hogwarts with his friends, young and wild.
The impulse swelled in his breast, an irresistible calling spurred on by his
desperation and…he could no longer deny it…lust.
He cast a yearning glance at Angela.
Her long locks of chestnut hair were pulled back into a prim bun. But a stray
tendril had escaped the confines of the upsweep and fell to her shoulders. If
only he could loosen every strand of those curls and bury
his face in them. His right hand slid under the table, his fingers searching for
and finding her thigh. How he longed to finish what had been interrupted the
At his touch, Angela’s head turned
to face him. Her green eyes meet his gaze, mirroring his longing. She dropped
her head. That familiar smile crept over her lips. Her left hand slipped under
the table to entwine with his.
He only desired what was rightfully
his. Who could deny him a few, undisturbed moments of intimacy with his wife? Standing
in his way were three of the most formidable adversaries that he’d ever faced:
his twin boys and a certain nosy, meddlesome Potions master.
The curly-headed tots sat on
conjured cushions, stacked on their seats in precarious piles. James shoveled
his peas between the cushions, then bounced. A slimy
mess oozed out from between the poufs. Where did they get these notions?
“James, what are you doing?” Remus
asked, eyeing the child with curiosity.
“Daddy, I can’t feel peas,” James said,
with a sincere, wide-eyed stare. “The pwincess did.
Ah! Remus suppressed a wry grin. Why
had his wife read them The Princess and
the Pea? And why did they insist on acting out every fairy tale?
“Because she’s a princess and you’re
not,” he said in a matter-of-fact tone. “Now tuck in.”
Remus released Angela’s hand,
pulled his wand from his belt, and uttered an incantation. The mess
disappeared. He patted the light brown curls that topped the boy’s head.
Sirius, the second twin, also played
with the food on his plate. He mashed bits of turkey into the potatoes and
molded the lot into different monsters. Loud growls and snarls accompanied his
actions. Then he lowered his head to the plate and chomped off his latest
Severus Snape looked down at the
child over his hooked nose with his most disapproving glare. His lip curled in
scorn. He cast Lupin an icy stare.
“The family resemblance is uncanny,
Lupin,” Snape sneered. “Can’t you control them?” He dabbed his mouth with his
napkin and tossed it on the table. “I seem to have lost my appetite.”
Always sticking his over-large nose in Remus’ business.
Why? Did morbid curiosity drive Snape to track his every movement as if he were
a hunted animal? Or did he simply want to spoil Remus’ fun? Surely, it couldn’t
Emma Lupin, Remus’ snowy-haired
mother, gave the children an indulgent smile. She patted Sirius on the head.
The child looked up at his grandmother with his most angelic stare. Then the
impish tot turned to Snape and stuck out his tongue. Snape scowled.
“Oh, let them be,” Emma said,
turning to Snape. “It’s Christmas. And boys will be boys.”
Sirius’ food-smeared hand reached
for his mother. Angela waved her wand. Conjured soap bubbles scrubbed the pink
cheeks and hands clean. Then she drew the child into her lap and smothered him
with her kisses.
Remus watched the exchange between
mother and son, eyeing his pint-sized adversary. Ah, yes, innocent son. More
like wily competition.
If he wanted that private moment
with his wife, he would have to do something drastic. Desperate times call for
desperate measures. He needed a plan of action. Time for the
Marauder to reawaken.
The guests filed from the dinner
table to the drawing room for games and music. Remus’ boys skipped ahead in the
company of their grandmother. The promise of Christmas crackers sent them
clinging to her skirts.
For the gentlemen, it was a time
for cigars, brandies, and conversation. Severus Snape walked ahead in the
company of James Hawkins, Snape’s father-in-law. Remus caught snippets of a
conversation about gold futures. Given the Lupin’s
modest income, he was lucky to have two sickles to rub together at the end of
the month. They certainly would not miss him. He smiled.
Remus hung back, calculating his
move. With his adversaries occupied, he spied his opportunity. Time to seize the day.Or rather, his
He looped a hand around Angela’s
waist and shunted her into a side passage out of sight. An exclamation of
surprise escaped her lips. She met him with a questioning gaze. But he pressed
a finger to those inviting lips to silence her, and cast a stealthy glance up
What was he doing? For Merlin’s
sake, he’d acted on impulse. He didn’t even have a plan. What could he be
thinking in a house full of guests? Not even his own
house, at that.
Once all the other guests were out
of sight, he looked back at his wife. Angela’s luminous eyes sparkled in the
flickering gaslight of the hall. Her lips curled into a welcoming smile. He
felt the warmth of her body in his embrace. A sudden rush of adrenaline surged
up through his limbs. He kissed her. An eager, hungry kiss.Sheer bliss. His resolve returned.
Snape’s cold voice echoed down the hall, sending icy shivers up Remus’ spine.
Then the loping tread of the
Potions Master’s steps could be heard moving down the corridor toward them.
Angela’s eyes flew open wide.
“Follow me,” she said in a
She seized Remus’ hand and darted
into the library. He stumbled after her, hoping that she had a plan. But she
ran to the bookcases and stopped. A dead end.
Angela studied the titles of the
books, her face drawn in full concentration. She muttered words of gibberish.
What could she be thinking? This was no time for selecting books.
Remus glanced back at the door.
Snape’s inky shadow fell across the threshold. Remus looked back at Angela. Her
slender fingers stroked the leather spines of the books. At first, it seemed a
random sequence, but soon he saw the pattern: a pentagram. Then books rearranged
themselves on the shelves, shifting and sliding across the mahogany surface. An
opening appeared just large enough to allow a small person to squeeze through.
Angela ducked and stepped into the abyss. “In here.”
Remus crouched and followed his
wife into the darkness. He glanced back into the library. Snape’s sneering face
loomed into view. The Potions master rushed toward the bookcase after him, but
the magical opening slid shut, slamming Snape’s fingers between the heavy
leather-bound tomes. Remus heard a stream of cuss words not fit for polite
company, then a series of spells. But the wall of books would not yield to
Remus whispered in the dark.
A blue flame sparked from the end
of his wand, lighting his surroundings and Angela’s snickering face. She was
shaking with mirth, unable to hide her delight at their escape or Snape’s
foiled efforts to follow them. Remus chuckled.
“How on earth—” he began.
“My Aunt Medea,” Angela whispered
between giggles, “may she rest in peace. She thought children should be seen
and not heard. My cousin and I spent our childhood roaming these passages to
avoid her wrath. There are secret passages, like this one, all over this old
“Brilliant,” he mused.
Remus raised his wand and peered
into the gloom. A steep wooden stairway laced with cobwebs ascended before him.
“Where does this lead?” he asked,
motioning up the staircase.
“You’ll see,” Angela said with a
wink. “Follow me.”
She lit her wand and turned toward
the crooked staircase. A spider scurried across the first tread and disappeared
between the cracks in the floor boards. She hesitated, the smile fading from
“I’ll lead,” Remus said.
He mounted the steep steps,
brushing the cobwebs from his path and sending arachnids scuttling for cover.
Angela followed close behind, clutching his sleeve. Her grip tightened around
him whenever a large spider crossed their path. He felt a guilty thrill,
knowing that her closeness was a consequence of her discomfort.
The stairway ended in a landing facing a small
door. Angela stepped forward and tapped the lock with her wand. The door swung
open. Remus crept through and found himself in a storage room filled with
wardrobes. The lamps in the room flickered to life.
“What in the…?” Remus said,
glancing at the wardrobes.
“Old clothes and furs mostly,”
She approached an intricately-carved
wardrobe and reached for the handle. The cupboard rattled and shook. Angela’s
hand withdrew with a jerk. She cast Remus a fearful stare.
creature.A boggart, most likely. Remus knew he
could handle a boggart, but he wasn’t so sure about his wife. At the Dark Arts,
she was a hopeless case. He could just imagine her screams, alerting the whole
house to their presence here. That would surely put an end to their adventures.
“A boggart probably,” Remus
remarked. “Best leave that one alone.”
Angela reached for the next
wardrobe instead. She opened the door and, to his surprise, crawled inside.
Dozens of floor-length fur coats of ermine, fox, and mink hung from hangers. Angela
was nowhere to be seen.
He pressed into the soft blankets
of fur and parted the coats. Hidden behind them, the cupboard extended the size
of a child’s playhouse. There, his wife was busy laying coats on the floor to
create a fur-lined den. She reclined on an ermine cape and beckoned him
forward. An inviting smile played on her lips. An impish twinkle lit her eyes.
Remus smirked. He couldn’t have planned this better himself.
He crawled into the cupboard. The
door clicked closed behind him, plunging him into pitch blackness. A stifling
smell of mothballs assaulted his nostrils, but then he caught the delicate
scent of his wife’s perfume. His fingers searched in the furs, finding the
cottony folds of his wife’s best dress and the smoothness of her skin. She
giggled and pulled him close. Peppermint breath, crisp and sweet.A kiss, then another. His fingers fumbled for the
buttons on her dress. Blasted tiny buttons.Too small for clumsy fingers.
“I’ll get it,” she whispered, her
panting breath warming his face.
His hand slid down her body over
her dress. Then he reversed direction, running his hand under her skirts up the
length of her thigh.
Giggling squeals and pattering
footsteps sounded just outside the cupboards. Remus froze, his breath catching
in his throat. Not again! Did those children possess some kind of supernatural
a high-pitched voice pleaded.
Remus heard a rattle and clank, but
it did not come from their wardrobe. Angela held stock still in his embrace. He
could feel her heart pounding against his chest and his own blood pulsating in
“Mummy’s in dere,”
three-year-old Sirius replied.
She wrested herself from Remus’
embrace and lunged for the cupboard door. Remus bolted out after her. His son’s
little fingers grasped the handle of the boggart’s
wardrobe and pulled. The door creaked ajar. Angela gasped. Remus raced for his
sons, snatched both cubs in his arms, and dragged them away from the wardrobe.
Shrill screams of terror filled the room. A flash of red light flew past Remus’
vision and crashed against the wardrobe door. The cupboard slammed shut with a
More footsteps echoed in the
hallways. Muffled voices sounded in the stairwells, drawn by the commotion. Both
tots hid their faces against Remus’ chest and whimpered in fear. He tightened
his grip on them and uttered soothing sounds to calm their crying.
He shot a glance at his wife. Her
green eyes were wide and round, her drawn wand still clasped in her fingers.
Her once neat hair fell in disheveled curls around her shoulders. The bodice of
her dress undone. If discovered, there would be no doubt what they had been up
to. He couldn’t allow that.
“Quick, inside!” he said. He
gestured toward the cloak wardrobe.
Angela darted back inside. Remus
followed and handed his sons into her waiting arms. She hugged her boys, kissed
their golden brown heads, and rocked them in her lap. The boys clung to their mother,
“Listen pups.” Remus said in his
most calming voice. “We’re playing a little game. Hide and seek.”
The waterworks shut off in an
instant at the mention of a game. Both little faces turned to their father with
bright blue-eyed stares.
Remus put a finger to his lips. “We’re hiding from Mr. Snape. We can’t let him
find us. Can you be very quiet?”
Both boys nodded in vigorous
“Good,” Remus said. “Now hold
still. I’ll need to put a Disillusionment Charm on you.”
He tapped both boys on their heads.
The children’s bodies were now camouflaged perfectly against their mother’s
skirts. Remus crawled into the cupboard beside his family and closed the doors
Once again, darkness shrouded him.
Both boys began to whimper. Damn. How could he forget? The boys were afraid of
“It’s all right,” Angela soothed.
Muted footsteps crossed the room.
The little boys fidgeted and squirmed. Angela’s dress rustled. A child’s squeal
of fright boomed like a canon in Remus’ ear. Angela whispered a soft hush. The
footsteps came closer. Remus whispered an incantation. His skin prickled, as
the Disillusionment Charm took effect. The wardrobe door creaked open.
The sullen face of the Potions
Master peered through the curtain of pelts. His nostrils flared as he sniffed
the air as if trying to detect their scent. Blue light from his wand glowed in
the blackness of the cupboard. Remus flattened his back against the wardrobe
and held still. Where his wife had been, a fox was curled around his two sons,
looking just like an old fur stole. His twin sons did not make a sound, their
bodies camouflaged against the fur of the fox.
“What are you doing up here,
Severus?” a woman’s voice asked.
Snape jerked his head from the
wardrobe and whipped around to face the woman. There stood Ravena, Snape’s wife.
Remus could see her curvaceous form silhouetted in the doorway to the storage
room. She strolled over to her husband’s side.
“I heard a noise up here,” Snape
said in his silkiest tones. “I thought that perhaps those Lupin brats had been prying
into things. We wouldn’t want them to get into trouble now, would we?”
Remus gritted his teeth. So now
Severus was concerned for his sons’ safety? How kind of him to take the
children’s best interest to heart. Could that hooked nose grow any bigger?
“And you heard them up here?”
“Yes,” Snape replied, his voice
dripping with contempt. “I could have sworn that I heard a child’s delightful screech
coming from that wardrobe.”
thin eyebrows shot up with surprise. She parted the furs and peered into the
cupboard. A dim light flickered in the gloom, sending shadows dancing against
the back of the cupboard. A slender hand rested on the fox stole and skimmed
across the fur. Then fingers tickled across a child’s belly. The tot erupted in
a fit of giggles. Remus suppressed a groan. The game was up.
“Well,” Ravena said, scooping a
child from the cupboard. “Look what we have here. James, is it? How clever of
you to find my childhood hiding place. And how did you manage to put a
Disillusionment Charm on yourself?”
Hide an’ Seek,” the child said with obvious glee. “Me and Siwius.”
The second child tumbled out of the
cupboard after his brother. Ravena tapped their heads and removed the charm.
The two boys were restored to their normal forms. Snape’s face worked into an
enormous and most unpleasant sneer of satisfaction.
“Your childhood hiding place,
Ravena?” he asked.
“Of course,” Ravena replied.
“There’s a hidden passage from the library to this room. Angela and I used it
all the time as children. We had a secret clubhouse in this very cupboard.”
“Did you?” Snape’s eyebrows shot
up. A knowing look glistened in his black eyes. He eyed the cupboard with a
suspicious stare. “And where do you suppose Lupin and your cousin are now?”
Remus?”Ravena’s face assumed a most innocent
look. “I’ve no idea. I haven’t seen them since dinner.”
James tugged on Ravena’s
skirt and pointed a chubby finger toward the wardrobe. Remus shook his head.
Damn that Disillusionment Charm. Of course, the child couldn’t see him.
“Mummy an’ Daddy are in dere,” the tot said.
“What an imagination!” Ravena
replied, rolling her eyes. “Now come along. I have some chocolate downstairs
for two clever little boys.”
She had said the magic words.
Nothing could distract those boys as readily as the promise of sweets. The
little tykes pranced around Ravena’s skirts amid more
shrieks of excitement. Remus breathed a sigh of relief. That was close. Too close.
“Do come, Severus dear,” Ravena
said, casting him her most engaging smile.
“In a moment,” Snape replied,
eyeing the cupboard.
Ravena disappeared through the
doorway with the boys at her heels. Snape turned back to the cupboard. An evil
glint flashed in his dark eyes. He thrust aside the coats and peered back into
the wardrobe. Remus held his breath. The Potions master’s gaze raked over the
fox stole and the ermine cape on the floor. Then Snape jerked the coats closed
with a hiss of frustration. The cupboard door slammed shut. Air gushed from
Remus’ lungs in relief.
Then he heard a rattle and creak
from the other cupboard. The boggart.
Snape hissed with triumph.
BANG! Snape uttered an exclamation
of surprise. Remus opened the wardrobe door just a crack and peered out. But
his curiosity would not be satisfied. The door to the boggart’s
wardrobe blocked his view of the shape that the dark creature had assumed. But
Snape’s expression was clearly visible. His sallow face had gone completely
white. His mouth hung open in shocked disbelief.
The shock lasted only an instant.
Snape’s normal expression snapped back into place like a mask as the
realization hit. Then a string of exploding hexes rocked the cupboard. With a
swish of the black robes and a stream of unmentionable swear words, Snape retreated
down the hallway.
Remus chuckled, holding his sides
to contain his amusement. His wife erupted in sniggers at his feet. She opened
the cupboard door and climbed out, her human form replacing the Animagus fox. Tears of laughter streamed down her blushing
“Where to now?” she asked, swiping
her eyes and stifling her giggles.
A twinge of remorse seized Remus.
His more noble instincts arose, checking his recklessness.Prongs, Padfoot,
and Wormtail were not here this time to squelch them.
The fun had ended.
“I think our game is up,” Remus
replied with a sigh.
Angela said. Her face fell, disappointment in her eyes.
“Look at you,” he remarked. “Your dress.Your hair. Imagine
what our relatives would say if we got caught.”
Angela glanced down at her best
dress, all wrinkled and mussed. Her fingers flew to secure the buttons and
shake the creases from her skirt. Then she swiped a stray curl from the path of
her eyes and gazed up at him with admiration. A winsome smile overcame her flushed
“That was so thrilling,” she said.
“I can’t remember when I’ve had such fun.” She cast him a shy glance. “Perhaps
we could persuade Mother to watch the children and you could join me for
lunch…some day…at Hogwarts?” A mischievous glint sparked in her eyes.
Was she suggesting a midday
rendezvous? Remus chuckled. He had an accomplice, after all. Who would have
expected this of his mild-mannered wife? It’s always the quiet ones.
“Come,” he said, grabbing her hand.
“Remus,” Angela whispered. “Where
are you taking me?”
held a finger to his lips and motioned for her to follow. “It’s a surprise!”
He lead her down the spiral stairs
to the front foyer, a massive entry of marble decorated with great floating orbs
of mistletoe, holly, and red velvet ribbons. The tinkling tinny sounds of a
sentimental Christmas ballad filtered from the rafters, like the tune from a
giant calliope. Remus drew Angela into a slow dance under the largest cluster
“But Remus,” Angela whispered.
“Everyone will find us here.”
“Out in the open?” Remus shook his
head. “This is the last place they’ll look.” He drew Angela close and rocked in
rhythm to the melody. “All I want for Christmas is you,” he sang softly in her
Angela sniggered at his off-key
rendition, laughter sparkling like emeralds in her green eyes. Remus twirled
Angela in dizzy spirals, then caught her in his arms. There
under the largest cluster of mistletoe, he planted a passionate kiss on her
The pitter-patter of footsteps,
accompanied by high-pitched giggles, approached from the adjoining hallway.
Remus shut his eyes and willed himself to ignore them. He drew Angela tighter
into his embrace. She pulled away from his kiss, but rested her cheek against
“We have an audience,” she
whispered, still clinging to him.
Out of the corner of his eye, Remus
caught the stares of his two little boys. The tiny tots watched wide-eyed, the chocolate-smeared
mouths hanging open. Their giggles had
fallen silent, now replaced by cherubic grins.
“Let them watch,” Remus whispered.
“I have a right to dance with my wife and kiss her under the mistletoe, if I
choose. It’s Christmas. And boys will be boys.”
Remus held Angela close and resumed
the slow dance.
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