Written for: lls_mutant
Prompt: Something with midnight mass and religious Sirius.
Summary: They sit together, still and warm and silent, as midnight draws near on Christmas Eve.
Notes: This isn't quite a remix, but owes a fair bit to lls_mutant' wonderful Though I Speak With the Tongues of Men and Angels. With many thanks to sambethe for spotting my typos and suchlike.
"Well, I think they're all asleep now. Or doing a good imitation when I walk past, anyway, and that's good enough for me tonight."
Sirius heard Molly yawn just before he walked in, three mugs of tea hovering in front of him. "Oh, thank you, Sirius," Molly said with a grateful sigh, taking one.
"Not at all. Now, why don't you head on up, I'm sure you need plenty of sleep for tomorrow."
She frowned. "Are you sure? There must still be things to do."
"And Remus and I have got it all under control."
She yawned again, rubbing the back of her neck. "That's very good of you. Well, if you're certain…"
"Good night, Molly," said Sirius.
She smiled at them both. "See you in the morning."
"And Merry Christmas," Remus added.
With another tired smile, Molly headed upstairs, and Remus shook his head. "How she does it, I really don't know."
Sirius laughed. "Woman's some kind of elemental force, that's my theory. Think I'm in her good books at the moment, though!"
"I'm very proud."
Sirius moved over to the window, taking a peep out of the curtains. The stars were clear tonight, less masked by the London fog, and the moon a small sliver just at the edge of his vision.
Remus stood at his shoulder, body warm at his side. "Christmas Eve," he said softly.
"Mmm," Sirius quietly agreed. He didn't voice it, but he couldn't help but think there was something a little miraculous about the holiday this year. To be here, surrounded by a family so full of life, to have a chance to mean something to Harry, and to have Remus back again…
"Knut for your thoughts?" Remus murmured, and Sirius laughed.
"Nothing very interesting, I'm afraid."
"Our tea'll get cold," Remus pointed out.
Sirius pulled the curtains shut again, and they walked over to the table, sitting at one end, for the moment in companionable silence. Wrapping his hands around his mug, he was content to let his thoughts wander, just to feel the moment settling into his memories.
He looked across, smiling at Remus' similarly thoughtful face. Once, that expression had driven him mad with curiosity, but now he felt content to let Remus' thoughts be his own.
So he turned to look around him, still delighted at the way this once gloomy kitchen had been transformed, injected with the first true festive spirit he'd seen in Grimmauld Place.
Christmas had always been - well, what you'd expect from any good Christian pure-blood family. Tasteful and expensive decorations that somehow failed to bring any cheer at all, and always an undoubtedly magnificent dinner, but one that would have tasted better were it not for the awkward and too-polite conversation that flowed relentlessly between distant cousins with clear distaste for each other. The riotous merriment Sirius was so looking forward to tomorrow would have been perceived as so unseemly, not in the right and proper spirit of the holiday at all.
Somewhere in the depths of the house, a great booming clock began to chime midnight, and Sirius broke from his reverie, gaze returning to Remus.
"Did you ever go to midnight mass?" he asked.
Remus looked startled by the question for a moment. "Once or twice," he replied. "Usually my mum went by herself."
"We went every year," Sirius reminisced. "I never much liked going to services with the family, but that one, for some reason…" he trailed off and shook his head. "Look at me being nostalgic!" He laughed. "Bet mother's rolling in her grave."
But Remus' expression was soft, and then Sirius felt a hand placed on his own.
"Tell you what," Remus said, "once all this over, we'll go. Reckon that's one religious tradition I could put up with."
Sirius nodded. "All right." Then he sprang up, struck by an idea. He went over to the cupboards.
"What are you doing?" Remus asked.
"Wait just a second," Sirius answered, searching quickly. "Ah, there we go."
He hurried back to the table, holding a box of candles. A sudden remembrance from a long time ago came to him - Mr. Saul, the curate of his old church, who he'd spent many childhood hours with, puzzling over the mysteries of faith. He'd talked to Sirius on a couple of occasions about what a church really was - not bricks and glass and stone, he'd said, but simply anywhere and everywhere it's needed.
So Sirius took a few candles and placed them on the table, before dimming the lights and lighting the candles with a few wand flicks. The whole world seemed to fall away, then, as the steady flames illuminated nothing but their two faces. Remus looked younger by candlelight, the lines and shape of his face softening, and eyes for Sirius alone. Taking Remus' hands between his own, Sirius' eyes fell shut for a moment, heart filling with a gratitude that didn't need words.
He slowly pulled away, turning to the radio beside him. "What do you reckon, has it got a sense of occasion?" he asked, smiling.
After a momentary hiss, music began to play from the wireless. A choral concert, with a gently piping organ that seemed to emanate in the wood of the table, notes thrumming against Sirius' fingertips.
What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb.
If I were a wise man, I would do my part.
What can I give him? Give my heart.
Female voices soared with the ending refrain, and something caught in Sirius' throat. They sat together, still and warm and silent, listening to the carols.
By the time the choir had begun their ending hymn, Sirius found the words rising unbidden in his own chest; low, halting notes that gradually began to remember themselves.
"Oh, tidings of comfort and joy," he murmured. Remus' hands gently fell on his shoulders, and the radio fell quiet beside them.