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liseuse in rs_small_gifts

Fic: Of Tables, Trees, and Hog's Heads for lollyphants

Title: Of Tables, Trees, and Hog's Heads.
Author: liseuse.
Recipient: lollyphants.
Warnings: None.
Rating: R, but for the swearing. It always gets me!
Word Count: 2, 750 (ish).
Summary: It turns out that Christmas is tricky to host.
Author's notes: All my thanks go to my amazing beta rose71. All remaining mistakes, obviously, belong to me.



It was not, Remus thought, that he begrudged anyone their Christmas traditions. It was just, he said to the carrots and potato that he was viciously mashing, that he had never thought they would turn out to be so much hard work. After years where Christmas was spent in the cosy comfort of Hogwarts, or at the Potter’s, this business of hosting it seemed too complex to bear. Especially, Remus pointed out to the stray piece of carrot on the cupboard door, when all the people who should be helping are somewhere in Latvia doing God only knows what, and not traipsing up and down Oxford Street looking for really strange items that they had all demanded were necessary.

--


"The problem, and I know this sounds insufferable," Remus said, taking another drag of the joint that Marlene had handed him when he'd walked in the door, "is that I don't know how to balance everything. I mean, take this business of setting places for the dead. It means that Sirius wants three extra places setting at the table, and James wants two. Our dining table isn't that big! We don't even have a dining table for fuck’s sake. We've got a magically enhanced card table and when it's made big you can't move in the living room. No one is going to be able to get anywhere near the bloody tree to decorate it.”

Marlene got up to pour them both a glass of brandy. “You seem to be awfully irate about a tree. I’m not dismissing your manly pain, but come on, Remus. It’s just a sodding tree.”

Remus took the glass gratefully. “I know. I sound insufferable. Sensibly they are all gone, being very important and I am underemployed by my old Headmaster. I offered to do the preparations for Christmas. And then they gave me lists.” Remus shrugged and finished his brandy. “The tree thing is just irking me because I’m trying to balance about five different traditions. Lil wants us all to decorate the tree on Christmas Eve, because that’s her family tradition. And Pete thinks that the tree should be decorated slowly over the twelve days before Christmas because that's how his family all did it.”

Marlene nodded. “I see.” Hauling herself off the sofa again she refilled their glasses. “I take it James and Sirius are all in favour of the twelve days of tree decorating malarkey? I know that’s how Dorcas and her family do it. I just thought they were crazy though.”

“Perhaps it’s a particularly Pureblood form of crazy? One which means we'll be entertaining for the whole twelve days before Christmas. And when I say 'we', I mean me. Sirius thinks entertaining is putting on the Heartbreakers, taking his clothes off and getting drunk. Stop laughing."

"I'm sorry, Remus," Marlene managed through her giggles, sounding Remus thought, not sorry in the least. "Perhaps Sirius could do a strip tease on the card table. I know that Dorcas would love it. Who knows, get her plied with enough elf wine and she might join in."

"She can dance around the hog's head." Remus said gloomily. "James and Sirius want a hog's head cooked in mustard for dinner. Apparently it's the only Christmas dinner worth anything in the upper echelons of Pureblood society, and all those years they gorged themselves on beef and pork and lamb and any other dead animal you can think of, were just aberrations and they only ate because they were hungry. Peter wants figgy pudding, which Lil hates, and," Remus paused to gulp down some brandy, "the worst part? It's all up to me to organise, and buy, and cook. Because I'm the one at home. I think I might just have a nervous breakdown or invent a highly inconvenient, yet terribly necessary, trip to Caracas and leave them all to it."

"Or, and I hate to sound like McGonagall, you could just tell them you're overwhelmed and that you can't balance all of this." Marlene looked at Remus pointedly, and summoned the bottle of brandy from the sideboard. "Don't you want to insist on any family traditions? I think you're entitled."

"The only family tradition the Lupins have is getting really drunk, someone saying something uncalled for, and then everyone sitting around pretending they're having fun." Remus smiled. "It's looking preferable. As is Caracas.”

--


“ … deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la la la, ‘tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la la la …”

“Sirius!” Remus yelled, slamming the mixing bowl he was holding down on the side. “If you do not stop humming that fucking carol right fucking now I will not be responsible for how many bones of yours I break. With a breadstick.”

“Remus, Remus, Remus.” Sirius came into the kitchen, shaking his head disapprovingly. “That’s no way to behave around Christmas. I never knew you were such a curmudgeon. Here I am slaving away over table decorations, and fixing that chair you broke, and all you care about is the singing. Fine, fine singing I should say. Sinistra used to say I had the voice of a castrated angel.”

“I am not a curmudgeon, and get your finger out of the cake mix.” Remus rapped Sirius on the knuckles with the wooden spoon. “A castrated angel? Really? Can you castrate angels?”

“I never asked.” Sirius said, as he hopped up on the counter and pushed the fruit bowl into the sink. “She had that glint in her eyes.”

“Ah,” Remus cleared a space on the table and put the cake mix down. “She terrified me when she looked like that. As if she was about to turn me into something slimy and horrible.” He turned and summoned his cigarettes. “Why did she ever hear you singing?”

Sirius leaned forward and stole one out of the pack. “Thanks, Moonshine. It was third year. You were annoyed with me because I fed your favourite socks to the Giant Squid. So I was singing outside the window of the room you were doing detention in.”

“I remember that detention. I got it because Pete broke the Antikythera, and then blamed it on me. Sneaky little bastard!” Remus laughed and threw his cigarette butt into the sink. “I never heard you singing, though.”

“You’ve just set fire to a banana.” Sirius snickered. “Oh, that poor unloved banana. How hard done by it must feel.”

“It is a truly dreadful fate. We’ll bury it and then set it a place at the table.” Remus prodded at the cake mix. “You know, I don’t think this looks right. It’s all stodgy.”

Sirius stuck his finger in and scooped some up. “’S good. A little sticky.” When he’d swallowed it all, he ran his tongue around his teeth. “It does have an alarming habit of clinging to the back of the teeth, though.”

“Here, have some.” Remus thrust the bowl at Sirius. “You can use it to glue the star to the top of the tree.”

“You are a marvel!” Sirius exclaimed. “I was wondering how we were going to get that to stay up there. I think it’s scared of the ceiling.”

“If I had my head that close to our ceiling, I’d be scared of it. I dread to think what’s living up there.” Remus shuddered.

“I vote we never find out.” Sirius nodded. “And back to the fixing of the chair I go. Oh, the memories I am erasing with every flick of my wand.”

Remus stared at him. “Yes. But that is, I feel, preferable to someone sitting on it and being surrounded by pictures of how, exactly, it broke.”

“But it was fun!” Sirius said with a dreamy look in his eyes. “I want people to have fun at Christmas!”

“I do too.” Remus reassured him. “But I do not want them having fun with images of our sex life. The idea of any one of them tossing off to that disturbs me so much I think I want to rinse my brain with bleach. So go, fix the chair and sing a different song whilst you do.”

“Fine.” Sirius said, smirking, and wandered back into the living room. Then he popped his head back round the doorjamb. “When Christmas is over, we can break the chair again, right?”

“Absolutely.” Remus promised. “Christmas joy for all!”

“ … Christmas time is here by golly, disapproval would be folly, deck the halls with chunks of holly, fill the cup and don’t say when …”

“I am going to murder him.” Remus said, very calmly to the cake mix and sank down into a kitchen chair. “And then, I am going to move to Caracas.”

“What?” Sirius called from the living room.

“I said,” Remus yelled, “I am going to murder you. And then move to Caracas! Sing something that is entirely unrelated to decking the fucking halls.”

“ … in 1977 you’re on the never never, you think it can’t go on forever, but the papers say it’s better, I don’t care ‘cause I’m not all there …”

--


“Circe’s bells.” Andromeda stood in the doorway and blinked in amazement. “Did Christmas throw up in here?”

“Don’t be rude. We’ve talked about that.” Ted shrugged apologetically and shouldered Andromeda into the hallway. “Sorry,” he said to Remus, “she’s not usually this bad.”

“Oi, shut up.” Andromeda laughed and kicked Ted on the shin. “You were thinking it.”

“I didn’t say it, though, did I?” Ted managed as he staggered into the banister. “Though, now the subject has been broached. Did Christmas throw up in here?”

“No.” Remus raised his eyebrows. “Sirius threw it everywhere. We are overcome and overdone with Christmas. Like the hog’s head. I think the only way we’ll survive is to get well and truly fucked up.”

“Hoorah! Hoorah! Ply me with the Christmas spirits, boys!” Andromeda said gaily and flung her coat on the banister.

--


“OH BRING ME SOME FIGGY PUDDING, BRING ME SOME FIGGY PUDDING, AND BRING IT RIGHT HERE.” Sirius, James and Peter punctuated this desire by banging their spoons on the table, which creaked alarmingly.

“I honestly don’t know how you can.” Lily said, slurring slightly. “You’ve just eaten nearly the whole of a poor hog’s head, the entire county’s supply of sprouts and about three fields worth of cabbage. There can be no room in your stomach for any more food.”

Remus laughed. “If I have learned one thing about Sirius it is that there is always more room in his stomach for pudding.”

“He’s got hollow legs.” Andromeda said, raising an eyebrow. “It’s got to be the only explanation for why he never puts on any weight.”

Remus matched her eyebrow raising, and pushed his chair back from the table. “Oh, I don’t know. I keep him busy.” With that he stood up and weaved his way into the kitchen. “Right,” he yelled, “can everyone do some shoving of plates to one side? I’ve got a very big pudding in my hands.”

“Okay!” Everyone chorused, and then looked at each other.

“Where, exactly,” Lily asked, “are we supposed to clear the plates to?” She cast a glance at the table, which was groaning, slightly, under the weight of everything on it, and turning a suspicious baize colour in one corner.

“Umm.” Sirius laughed. “I don’t really know.” Getting out of his chair carefully, so as not to push over the tree, he carefully summoned some of the plates so they were floating in front of him, and sent them into the kitchen. “Right. That’s some of them gone. Pete, is there any room on the floor by you, for the rest of them?”

Pete looked at Sirius like he’d grown a third head, and Andromeda collapsed into a fit of giggles. “Sirius, if I go back any further I’ll be sitting in next door’s lav.”

“Bugger.” Sirius frowned. “Right, everyone shove in to the table a bit more. If I squeeze I can get through. I think.” He sucked his stomach in, and edged along the table, just avoiding catching a decoration and sending the tree into the fire. He backed into the kitchen and summoned the rest of the plates. “Mind your heads!”

--


“I just don’t see,” Lily said as she extinguished the last of the flames, “why you had to have the fireflies on the tree.”

“Remus likes fireflies.” Sirius said. “He thinks they’re warm and cosy and make everything seem brighter.”

“They do. No one is going to argue with that, although, judging by the look on Remus’s face, it’s you who likes them.” Andromeda said as she blew a few sparks out. “But you have to control them. Then you get a nice glow, and a festive atmosphere. You didn’t control then, and now you have a very scorched dining table.”

Remus stopped laughing long enough to look up. “Actually we’ve got a very distressed card table. I’m not sure it’s ever going to be the same again.”

Andromeda looked at Remus quizzically and then lifted the edge of the very singed tablecloth. “Oh, I see it now. Good piece of magic, though. Up until the fire caused it so much worry it started to revert to baize.”

“Shit!” Remus exclaimed. “We need to get it clear then. It’s about a quarter of the size when it’s not magically enhanced.”

By dint of causing all the plates and glasses to hover in the air Pete managed to get the table clear just before it shrunk down with an excruciating groan and turned back into a card table. Pete lowered the plates down so that people could grab hold of them and then burst into laughter.

“What’s so funny mate?” Ted asked as he grabbed for a glass that was headed for disaster.

Pete managed to stop laughing for just long enough to gesture around the room. It seemed about nine times bigger now the table was gone, and they were all sat on chairs that felt very far apart from each other.

--


“Right, everyone,” Lily said as she tried to get up from the chair. “I think I need…”

“Wine! More wine!” Andromeda exclaimed, interrupting Lily and leaping up from her chair. “We definitely need more wine. I see at least three, well, maybe three, there could be more, or less. I’m not sure. Anyway I see some amount of empty glasses. Which means we need more wine!”

“That wasn’t what I was going to say.” Lily said under her breath. “But the plan does have merits.”

“There is a flaw in your plan my darling Andromededededa.” Ted shook his head as if that would lift the alcoholic fug. “We have, and this is sad to say, no more wine.”

“No more wine. Oh no.” Pete said miserably. “But what will we do with no more wine. There has to be more wine!”

“I know where we can get more wine.” Sirius’ eyes glinted, slightly dangerously. “Dumbles. Old Dumblydore. He’s always got lots of wine. I bet we could snag some from his cache.”

“Yes,” Remus said, draining the last of his glass. “It’s always a good idea to steal wine, when incredibly drunk, from the secret store of your old headmaster. Who is a fucking fantastic wizard. I can’t see one single thing wrong with this plan.”

“Because it’s genius!” Sirius clapped his hands and pushed his chair back from the table. “I always knew you thought I was a genius, Moony.”

“That is one word for it.” Remus snickered. “But my glass does seem to have no wine in it. This is wrong. There should be more wine. Bring me wine!”

--


“Thank you, everyone, for attending. I hope that you all had a lovely Christmas and that the New Year starts promisingly.” Dumbledore smiled his way around the room. “I shall see you all soon. Oh, young misters Lupin and Black, could I possibly have a word?”

Remus kicked Sirius under the table and scribbled something on a piece of paper.

“This is all your fault. Not only have I still got a stinking hangover, somehow I have, as always, been implicated in your harebrained plan. Fucker.” Sirius read under his breath. “Oh, but Moonshine, it was such fun!”

“Fun.” Remus muttered grimly as he gathered his cloak, stood up and made his way towards Dumbledore. “Caracas would have been fun.”

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Comments

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Haha, this was so great! You described a crazy Christmas perfectly, and I was giggling all the way through - what an excellent gift!
Thank you! I am so glad that this made you giggle.
Oh, wow. Thank you so much for writing this! It's everything I wanted and more.
“Did Christmas throw up in here?”, words cannot say I much I loved that line. Words cannot say how much I loved this fic.
Once again, thank you.

Excellent! I am so so happy that you enjoyed this and that it was a good gift for you.

I really am so so glad that you liked reading this.

ROTFL - Andromedededededa ... awesome. I loved pretty near everything about this. Hilarious, snarky, sexy, and adorable. Well done!
Aww, thank you! I do love drunk!Ted, it must be admitted.
Aaaaa! *runs in circles* This was so awesome and just totally made my morning. They got busted by Dumbledore :) Oh, I love it. The chair, the poor abused card table, the damn hog head (what the hell, who eats that?) and Caracas - so brilliant!

Righ. Please excuse the excess of exclamation marks and general lack of coherent thought. I can't even tell you how much I loved this. And I am totally keeping the Caracas quote for my own.

Apart from the fact that it made me laugh very hard, it was really great how everybody's Christmas traditions clashed. Lupins' holiday traditions are my favorite; I don't know, probably because Remus jokes about it, so it's obviously not horrible, and it seems to be just a regular not-so-perfect Christmas that lots of people have, and it's just a part of life, and they can still be happy. Yay!
I love the excess of exclamation marks! I am so glad that this fic inspired them!

The clashing of holiday traditions is always fascinating to me - if only because my family's tend to diverge from everyone else's and it leads to confusion and ire and boggled looks.

(The Lupin family Christmas may have been taken straight from my own experience. I confess!)
heeee, this is brilliant! &hearts :D oh, Remus.
Thank you! I'm really glad that you enjoyed it!
Heehee, this is hilarious! I really enjoyed it. :D
Thank you! I'm really happy that you found it funny and enjoyable.
OMG! This made me laugh and totally made my day. Hurray for humor and a snarky, put-out Remus.

The opening paragraph was nothing short of brilliant I loved the way that Remus addressed his bitchiness to animate objects. Frankly, I don't blame him at all for being in a snit, but it was funny.


Lily and Andromeda (and Ted, of course), were entirely made of win. In fact, the entire, drunken party was fantastic. I love a witty Peter and you really did him justice. The disappearing table and lack of room for plates was damned clever, too. I think I've been to the Muggle version of that part several times.

But Dumbles at the end? Genius!

Great job!
Thank you, so much. I am really glad that you enjoyed it.

I have a great love for Andromeda and Ted, and it was really fun to be able to give them a place in this fic. And Peter being funny and snide is always a good thing I feel. I read him as humourless a lot of the time and it makes me sad.

Thank you, once more!
omg this is adorable and brilliantly funny! i loved the additional non-MWPP+Lily characters you brought in. and oh Remus. ♥
Thank you! I'm really happy that you enjoyed this and found it funny.

I really like bringing non MWPP characters into my fic if I can, and I always think that small gifts is the perfect occasion.
Hahaha! What a lovely fun Christmas! I love first Christmases and the boys being domestic ... this was just so charming and so brilliantly done.
Thank you! I am really pleased that you enjoyed this.
LOL! What a crazy Christmas! Lots of giggles!
It wouldn't be a Marauders Christmas without a lot of silliness! Thank you for reading!
*giggles*

Oh that was fun and crazy and more than a little cracky <3
What is a Marauders Christmas for, if not a little bit of crack!
This was utterly quirky in that special Marauder way that always makes me grin. Very well-written, and I love the clash of personalities at Christmas. Poor Remus, it's just something he'd do, running around trying to make everyone else happy while complaining all the while. I love the use of all the characters - especially Marline and Dorcas, who are oft-neglected.

In closing, I love this line of Remus' (his wry snark is so sexy):


“Yes,” Remus said, draining the last of his glass. “It’s always a good idea to steal wine, when incredibly drunk, from the secret store of your old headmaster. Who is a fucking fantastic wizard. I can’t see one single thing wrong with this plan.”
Oh, thank you. I'm really glad that you enjoyed this. One of the things I really like about writing Remus/Sirius is involving all the other people we know they went to school with. They're so fun to play about with.
LOL, this was cute. I like the manic energy of it.
Thank you!
Sweetie, you know how much I like this fic, but it was such fun to reread it here. The best kind of ensemble piece, where everyone gets to shine... and R/S still have their own special moments of banter, sexiness, and domestic annoyance.

As always, I appreciate how you combine magic, humor, and realistic everyday details. Even in this madcap fic, we get such a sense of real people living real lives together. Bravo!
Aww thank you darling! It would have been nowhere near this if it hadn't been for you. So hurrah to you!
Oh wow, this is awesome! Poor, poor Remus, balancing five Christmas traditions and wanting to run away to Caracas! *cracks up* This is beautiful! Remus's snarkiness and the coziness of their gathering, and them getting so very drunk!

The final Dumbledore bit was the crowning moment. CROWNING MOMENT, I say :D Much love for this fic, very much enjoyed! ♥
Thank you! I'm really glad that you enjoyed this. And Christmas is all about the getting drunk and doing daft things. Umm, in our house anyway. Ahem.

Poor Dumbledore. He's so badly treated!
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