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Chapter 28 : Amongst Friends
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Chapter Twenty-Eight: Amongst Friends
“You are uneasy, my friend.” Remus put his hand on Sirius’ shoulder. “You’re acting like, well, like someone else.”
“I don’t know what you mean.” Sirius glanced at Hermione as nonchalantly as possible, who seemed to be in deep conversation with Dobby, who had stopped by with a gift (undoubtedly of socks) for Juliette. She glanced his direction and gave her a half smile before turning his attention back to Remus. “I’m having a great time.”
He glanced around the darkened room, softly lit by fire light and candles dotted around the room. Juliette had decorated this room last – especially for him. Unlike the over done décor that enlivened most of Grimmauld, Juliette had created this room just for him. Fresh pine cones sat in a basket on the hearth, waiting for anyone who passed by to cast one into the fire and let off a simmering scent of fresh pine. She’d placed no tinsel, no wreaths but had merely placed fresh greenery and berries in strategic places around the room. It was quiet, subdued…a retreat for Sirius where he would know it was Christmas but not be forced to be jovial for the sake of others. How she knew he would need such a place as the holidays closed in was anyone’s guess, but he’d never been more grateful in his life.
“You know,” Remus leaned closer to him, “if the two of you want to run off to bed early, we won’t be offended in the least.”
Sirius’ quick jerk caused Remus to laugh out loud. “Tonks’ pink hair has warped your brain.”
“I’m just saying that you are amongst friends, here, Sirius.” Remus shrugged. “It you two walk around each other one more time Tonks and I are both going to call you on it. However, should you choose you choose to curl up on the sofa with her and stop acting like a damn moronic prat, we’ll be happy to keep our comments private so as not to embarrass you.”
“That’s it?” Sirius raised an eyebrow in disbelief.
“Oh, hell no.” Remus shook his head. “This will require a lengthy detailed conversation and lecture between the two of us but, tonight is Christmas Eve. Tonks would never forgive me for ruining what she sees as one of the most romantic nights of the year.”
Sirius nodded. Remus was giving him a gift, he knew that. But a quick glance to Hermione told him she would never accept it. She hadn’t, of course, been with the two of them growing up. She would never realize that Remus would judge neither of them. His heart would break for them, yes, but he wouldn’t judge them.
“Best present you’ve given,” Hermione suggested as she carried out a new tray of snacks, oblivious to the undercurrent of tension in the room. She got halfway to the coffee table before Sirius waved his hand and floated them out of her hands and onto the table with a grimace. He ignored the irritated glance she sent his way but it stirred something inside him that he couldn’t contain.
“I gave my mum a bouquet of dead roses once,” Sirius offered laughing as he stood up to go refill his drink.
“I put bubblegum in Sirius’ fur while he was in dog form one year,” Remus laughed. “Or is that not what you meant?”
“Not exactly,” she replied smiling, and tried to move away from the punchbowl as Sirius’ form loomed above her. He blocked her with a well placed hand on her waist though, deftly turning her back to lean against his chest as he reached for the punch bowl. She could hear Tonks bubbling away about a story, her drunken voice making everything seem more amusing. Sirius’ soft breath on her neck was distracting, though, and although she tried to pull away in the seconds it took him to fix his glass, she couldn’t seem to out maneuver him. “What are you doing?” she hissed.
“Calling your bluff,” he whispered and slipped his hand into hers. “Come sit with me.”
“Are you nuts?”
“Certified even,” he nodded, his eyes glinting mischievously. “Chicken,” he chuckled and moved away from her.
She whirled to face him, anger flushing her face. He had already moved to the sofa, though, propping one leg up on the cushion while the other hung loosely off the edge. He had interrupted Tonks’ story to tell of the bubblegum incident, and the trio were laughing uproariously. He sent her a cocky grin and she couldn’t resist his challenge. Taking her drink in hand, she moved to the sofa, sliding into place between his legs. She leaned back against his chest, taking a sip of her drink as nonchalantly as possible.
“What about you, Hermione? Best gift you’ve given?” Remus asked, smiling but acting as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened.
Tonks, unfortunately, was unable to conceal the drunken giggle that escaped her lips. “She just gave it.” She shook her head and, as an afterthought, added, “I really should not drink.”
“I gave Juliette a picture of Harry,” Hermione whispered, making the room fall quiet. She could feel the stares of Remus and Tonks on her, their disbelief that she was finally admitted this to them evident on their face. They glanced to Sirius questioningly and he wrapped an arm around her chest, pulling her tighter into him and giving her a kiss on the top of her head…it was all the courage she needed. “She doesn’t understand yet, of course, but I gave it to her anyway.”
“Six years,” Tonks whispered, tears forming in her eyes as she dropped to Hermione’s side and took hold of her hand. “We’ve waited six years for you to trust us enough.”
“I know and I’m so sorry,” she whispered, patting Tonks head as if she was a child. “I just couldn’t face it…everything.”
“It’s all right, Hermione,” Remus nodded and pulled Tonks back to his side. He sent a glance to Sirius that Sirius couldn’t quite discern. “And that will turn out to be the best gift, I’m certain.”
Hermione gave him a faint smile. “Thank you.” She shuffled in Sirius’ arms, gazing up at him. “And you? You are the only one left.”
“I’m much better at getting than giving,” he answered vaguely.
“Sirius,” Remus chided but a quiet, almost sullen look had come over Sirius and Remus immediately quieted.
“It’s yet to be given,” he replied quietly then offered them all a brief smile. “But that’s a rather dull response. Music and dancing that’s what we need to cap off the evening.” Without waiting for a reply, he pulled Hermione onto the dance floor her giggles carrying them all across the room.
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