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peskywhistpaw in rs_small_gifts

Fic: The (Often Forgotten) Mission at Hand for archduck

Title: The (Often Forgotten) Mission at Hand
Author: peskywhistpaw
Recipient: archduck
Rating: PG-13
Highlight for Warnings: *Silly boys, allusions to lycanthropic PMS*
Word Count: ~1,400
Summary: “What’s all this ‘oh’ business?” Sirius demands, much too awake. He’s probably been caffeinated. A small snapshot of how the boys spend their Christmas Eves at Hogwarts.
Author’s Notes: I hope you enjoy this! For the prompt: “Sleeping is giving in, no matter what the time is. Sleeping is giving in, so lift those heavy eyelids.” Arcade Fire - Rebellion (Lies). Also at my LJ here.



The (Often Forgotten) Mission at Hand


Remus nods in his chair wearily, chin tucked down into his chest. Mother hen, and all that: curled up in his perch, presiding over his riotous brood with one eye open almost all the time.

Sirius sits in wait for the moment that eye closes—and when it does, he leans over to give Remus a sharp poke in the side.

“WAKE UP!” he cries gleefully.

“WAKE UP!” James choruses.

“WAKE UP!” Peter chimes in.

“Oh,” Remus replies a little sadly, although it isn’t as if he wasn’t expecting this. He opens his eyes slowly, as though they’ve only just begun to glue themselves shut, and are sticky with the reluctance of consciousness.

“What’s all this ‘oh’ business?” Sirius demands, much too awake. He’s probably been caffeinated.

“There’s no business,” Remus says.

“Like ‘oh’ business,” Peter adds.

“No,” Remus says, “there’s no business like no business.”

Sirius draws back and speculates. “Moony, you sour old tart. One might think you’d be inclined to be a bit more cheery, seeing as it’s Christmas Eve, ‘n all.”

“I was cheery,” Remus grumbles, because he had been, but several hours ago. Now, his heavy eyelids are pressing down uncomfortably, and he’d like nothing more than to burrow his nose into the upholstery of his chair. He can’t help it that he seems to need more sleep than the others—or at least, that he wakes up much earlier than they do, and therefore needs to go to bed earlier, as well.

“That was ages ago, Moony,” James says.

“Right. Lovely,” Remus yawns. “I know.”

Sirius leaps up. “No sleeping!” he cries with the exuberance of a child who has just caught a parent sticking his hand in the cookie jar.

A small voice in the back of Remus’s mind wants to moan, But why? in a very petulant, very whingeing sort of tone. Except that he knows why, and it delights and amuses him as much as it makes him want to ram his head repeatedly against a wall.

As if hearing the small, annoying voice in Remus’s mind, Sirius continues. “Sleeping is giving in,” he says.

“It’s four in the morning, Sirius.”

Sirius, in turn, pretends to be scandalized—and Remus wonders if perhaps he really is, just a little. “Did you hear that, Prongs? Wormtail? Did you hear that?”

“Loud and clear, Padfoot,” James replies somberly.

Peter sadly shakes his head.

“We are on a mission, Moony. A mission. And need I remind you that it is a mission of utmost importance? The fate of the world rests in our hands.” Sirius is pacing now, though with three boys sprawled out upon various chairs with various limbs hanging lazily over the sides, there isn’t much room in which to do so. By consequence, Sirius can only move a few paces before he must turn back round again and pace the other way—that is, if he doesn’t want to hit anything. Which, of course, he doesn’t, except for Remus. So every time that Sirius passes by, he makes certain to run into Remus’s leg, or tread on his feet; and every time, in spite of Remus’s exhausted state, he feels a flutter of excitement in his chest. There are some things, it seems, that simply can’t be helped.

Remus swallows the lump in his throat in favor of sarcasm. “Right. Because the world surely and truly needs to know the identity of Father Christmas.”

“No, Moony,” James shakes his head. “Father Christmas is Father Christmas.”

Sirius nods at James. “We’re trying to discover who’s going round putting presents out at Hogwarts tonight,” he says. Declares, practically.

“As it isn’t Father Christmas,” Peter adds sagely.

Remus crosses his arms. “Who’s to say it isn’t, then?”

James and Sirius exchange a look, and Sirius stops pacing so that he can unabashedly prod Remus with his bare toes.

“Moony,” Sirius says at length. “I reckon we ought to sit down and have a talk. ‘Spect it’s been a long time coming, and it should’ve come sooner. Now, I don’t want you to be alarmed, but, being fifteen years old, you really ought to know that—”

But the subject is dropped when Remus immediately silences him with a glare.

“Right,” says Sirius.

“Right,” says James.

“Right,” says Peter.

“Y’know,” Sirius begins, “we do this every year, and you’re usually a right bit keener on it.”

“Yeah,” Peter frowns. “What’s wrong with you?”

Remus blinks at them both. “Yes,” he says. “We do this every year, and every year, everyone falls asleep before anything is discovered. The closest we ever came was last year, and that mistake took a bit of explaining, didn’t it?”

The four of them look thoughtful for a moment.

(“YOU THERE! STOP!”

“Wobbly is just cleaning the fireplace, sirs.”

“Ha! A likely story! Prongs, grab the rope!”)

“Yeah, well, there weren’t s’posed to be any witnesses,” Sirius says after a pause, waving an impatient hand.

“Except us, you mean.”

“I mean Evans wasn’t s’posed to find us wrestling a house-elf in the common room.”

James looks pained.

“Well...” Peter is trying to be optimistic. “S’not as bad as the year before that.”

There is a collective groan. Sirius abruptly stops prodding Remus with his foot and looks away, and Remus blushes. It’s the Christmas that was also the first time any of them had ever been rightly drunk, sprawled out before the fireplace like the lords of an estate.

“I mean,” Peter continues obliviously, merrily, gesturing at Remus and Sirius, “with you lot randomly starting to snog each other, n’ all.”

(“Mmmmm—hic!—Crima, Moooooonnnnyyyy.”

“Wha?”

“Mmmmmmmerry Ch-rist-masss, Moooooo-nnyyyy.”

“Merry—mmph!”)

Remus feels a flush prickling his neck, too, remembers his heart thudding wildly. Remembers Sirius breaking it off to stare soberly at him for a moment before passing out across his lap. They’ve never talked about that Christmas, though it’s not as if it’s some sort of rule set in stone. The funny thing is that he’s not sure whether the memory wants to make him bury his head in shame, or grin from ear to ear until someone becomes disturbed and forces him to look at pictures of dead kittens to make him stop. That’s probably what it would take, he thinks. Dead kittens. Or a naked Filch. There’s this feeling he gets when he looks at Sirius, sometimes, that he’s afraid he’ll never be able to squash—that he’s afraid (probably) he doesn’t want to.

James rubs at the back of his neck. “So we’ve not had the most successful time of it, yeah.”

Silence settles momentarily.

Remus casts a furtive glance at Sirius, only to discover that Sirius is doing the same. Their eyes glance off each other. Then Sirius laughs, and flops down on the oversized armchair next to Remus, their fingers twitching unintentionally—Remus thinks—toward each other, but not quite touching.

“Tell me, Moony,” Sirius begins gravely, changing the subject (or maybe he isn’t). His fingers drum with purpose on the back of Remus’s hand now. “Is it that time of the month? I mean, I know it’s a natural process, n’all that, but it’s Christmas, so d’you reckon maybe—?”

Remus scowls. (He seems to be doing a lot of that tonight.) “If you’ve something to say, just spit it out.”

Sirius beams at him innocently. “S’just that... you’re late this month, s’all.”

James lets out an impressive snort, and Remus worries, for a moment, that Peter is having a heart attack. But he isn’t, of course. He just has this odd way of laughing that’ll probably put him in a coma one day, or something.

And maybe this is what gets to Remus, finally: his best mates gasping and wheezing for breath in their own immaturity, gathered together as their own personal tradition dictates. So he feels his bottom lip beginning to twitch, and then it resonates into the corners of his mouth and the depths of his throat, and he puts a sighing hand to his shaking head. Then he laughs like butterbeer on a cold afternoon.

And just like that—just like that—he doesn’t feel so exhausted anymore.

Remus leans into Sirius’s shoulder. James reaches over to resuscitate Peter. The night carries on. The fire wanes.

All is well, for now.

(And they never do find what they’re looking for. Not even when a pair of twinkling blue eyes finds them fast asleep as grey, early morning light starts to peer in through the windows.)

Comments

This was truly brilliant - for many a reason. Not only was it funny as hell, but you really manage to capture the essence of being witty, teenaged boys with conflicting emotions. There is such a lovely, subtle change of tone from the lets-pick-on-Remus beginning to the rather touching completion, that it feels both natural and compelling.

And bless you and your witty Peter:
“What’s all this ‘oh’ business?” Sirius demands, much too awake. He’s probably been caffeinated.

“There’s no business,” Remus says.

“Like ‘oh’ business,” Peter adds.

“No,” Remus says, “there’s no business like no business.”

Sadly, I was thinking the same thing as Peter and Remus riffed it further, so bless him.

Siriusly, though, all in all, this was darling and fun and the perfect antidote to a cold, snowy morning. And the image of Remus and Sirius the previous Christmas? Darling.
Remus feels a flush prickling his neck, too, remembers his heart thudding wildly. Remembers Sirius breaking it off to stare soberly at him for a moment before passing out across his lap.


Loved it!
Thank you so much! I feel like Peter wouldn't have many witty things to say, but sometimes he'd surprise everyone by blurting out something clever. Hee. I'm glad you enjoyed this!
Thank you!
Aw, I loved this, especially the last line. ♥
I'm glad you enjoyed it! :D
So sweet! I love the idea of ~someone~ setting out presents in Hogwarts... as well as all the tales of awkward Christmases past. Well done :)
Thank you! :D
Awwww, I love immature teenage boys ACTING like immature teenage boys <3

“There’s no business,” Remus says.

“Like ‘oh’ business,” Peter adds.


*bursts into giggles*

And the PMS... god that was hilarious.
Hee. Glad you enjoyed it! :D
This was so very Marauderly. =)
I like the focus on all of them as friends, with Remus and Sirius maybe being a little bit more (but not quite yet), but still all of them enjoying the holiday and traditions (no matter how silly) together. Nice work!
Thank you! :D
I LOVE THIS!!!

Your use of the prompt is perfect. I love the idea of them staying up to catch whoever leaves presents under the tree at Hogwarts - it's such a Marauder-y thing to do!

Your characterisation is wonderful, and you convey the easy camaraderie of their friendship so well. The juxtaposition of bouncy, caffeine-high Sirius with sleepy Remus is adorable. I like the understated way they're not quite there yet, although they're both well aware they want to be. And the brief flash of snogging melted my brain!

You write teenage-boy-banter brilliantly, and you obviously included as many of my favourite things as possible - I really appreciate your attention to detail. ♥ You had me laughing from the start, too:

Sirius sits in wait for the moment that eye closes—and when it does, he leans over to give Remus a sharp poke in the side.

And the part about 'oh' business is priceless, as is Sirius calling Remus a 'sour old tart'! :D

There are so many lovely images throughout, I'd have to quote the whole thing back to you because it's impossible to choose a favourite. The final line is fantastic in so many ways, too!

Thank you so much!!!
Eeeee, thank you! I'm so glad you like it! When I saw your prompt, this was immediately what I thought of, and it was way too funny a mental image to pass up!
“Moony,” Sirius says at length. “I reckon we ought to sit down and have a talk. ‘Spect it’s been a long time coming, and it should’ve come sooner. Now, I don’t want you to be alarmed, but, being fifteen years old, you really ought to know that—”

Love this! I do so love seeing them being 'boys'! The twitching, awkward 'do we, don't we' feeling between Remus and Sirius was beautifully done. :)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it! I have such a weakness for boys being boys...
Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! :D
utterly wonderful fic. There are so many high points in this, i don't know where to begin. The dialogue was snappy and pun-tastic. I loved the little flashbacks to previous failed christmases, and the utter boyishness of the whole thing.

a great christmas story, and something I know i'll be rereading a lot :)
Thank you so much! I'm so glad you enjoyed it - enough so that you'd read it again, too! Wow! ♥
This was fantastic! The humor was wonderfully funny, and I love that they have a tradition of staying up to try and catch 'Father Christmas'. :D I really love the dynamic between them all here. <3
Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! :D
Oh, so clever and funny - I just adore the boys here! :D :D :D
Thank you!
This is wonderful. Clever and witty and wonderful. My cheeks hurts I'm smiling so much.
Aw, thank you! ♥
Oh, this is just adorable ♥♥♥ I love this little tradition of theirs, and how they are so boyish with each other, and the style in which you wrote this! The piece flows very naturally and you pack a lot of emotions and wit into such simple, elegant sentences. It's something I wish so much I could do ♥

What a lovely, heartwarming story!
Thank you so much! ♥ I'm really glad you enjoyed it! (And that it flows. I was worried about that!)
I don't even know how to convey how much I adore this fic! I'm a big fan of all of the Marauders and one of the reasons why is that I believe they were busy being boys and pranksters and that they weren't sexually active very young. Pre-slash gives me the warm fuzzies and this is excellent! Sweet, funny, well written and well characterized. But this slays me:

Remus feels a flush prickling his neck, too, remembers his heart thudding wildly. Remembers Sirius breaking it off to stare soberly at him for a moment before passing out across his lap. They’ve never talked about that Christmas, though it’s not as if it’s some sort of rule set in stone. The funny thing is that he’s not sure whether the memory wants to make him bury his head in shame, or grin from ear to ear until someone becomes disturbed and forces him to look at pictures of dead kittens to make him stop. That’s probably what it would take, he thinks. Dead kittens. Or a naked Filch. There’s this feeling he gets when he looks at Sirius, sometimes, that he’s afraid he’ll never be able to squash—that he’s afraid (probably) he doesn’t want to.

Amongst other parts, like the poking, hyper Padfoot and sleepy Moony, all four fifteen year olds waiting to see who delivers their gifts, caught by Evans wrestling a house elf, the laugh at the end.....
It's a good thing that I'm bookmarking this!
Wow, thank you so much! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! :D
I love the Marauders and their "missions", even when it involves sitting around. There is so much to love here and this fic charmed me boys being boys, witty banter (and witty! Peter \o/) and reminiscing about past Christmases. Very lovely ♥
Thank you so much! :D
I love this! Witty, subtle and adorable, and the ending is just perfect. Awwww.
*saves*
Thank you!
Oh my god - they are such dorks! Hee! Oh, Sirius, wrestling with a house-elf? *snickers* This was a really fun read! Thank you!
I'm so glad you enjoyed it! :D
ahaha i love this! XD they are such idiotic boys, and i love them that way. this was witty and so much fun to read! great job :D
Thank you! :D
Oh, this is adorable! I loved this: The funny thing is that he’s not sure whether the memory wants to make him bury his head in shame, or grin from ear to ear until someone becomes disturbed and forces him to look at pictures of dead kittens to make him stop. That’s probably what it would take, he thinks. Dead kittens. Or a naked Filch. There’s this feeling he gets when he looks at Sirius, sometimes, that he’s afraid he’ll never be able to squash—that he’s afraid (probably) he doesn’t want to.
Your Marauders are fun and fabulous! And that last line is wonderful!
Thank you so much! :D