LbN: Written for WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot. Happy Christmas, Suzanne!
The Visit: A Christmas Tale
Remus looked up from his paperwork just in time to see Tonks go careening past his doorway. She'd tried to slide into his office, tripped, and landed just beyond the door. "Careful, Nymphadora!" he said, running to help her up.
"We need to talk, Remus," she said, leading the way back into his office.
"What's wrong?" Remus asked, stopping in his tracks. If she was ignoring the use of her first name, it had to be bad.
"This," she said, holding up a letter, "was waiting on my desk when I got here."
Remus took the letter and read:
I hope you're doing well. Your father and I have finally finished the house. Building took longer than we expected, but we love it! It's smaller, but we needed to downsize. Hopefully we'll be able to have you over in the new year.
We're actually traveling this Christmas season, to give the decorators some uninterrupted time to work. We'll be stopping by for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. We do so miss you and Teddy. See you soon!
Remus stood blinking at the paper for a moment. When he finally looked up, Tonks was biting a nail and her hair was rapidly changing colors. "Your…your parents are coming."
"In two days."
She nodded again. "And I know it says Christmas Eve, but really we should expect them that morning."
Scanning the letter again, Remus decided to ignore the fact that Andromeda and Ted apparently only missed Tonks and Teddy…. "What now? The house looks like a swarm of Nifflers hit it. I don't think we've even bought groceries."
"Yeah, I was putting it off until Teddy got home."
"I think we should divide and conquer then. I'll go buy groceries if you go finish shopping for presents."
"Wizard shoppers! Be advised that the stores will close in exactly thirty minutes. Please complete your transactions, and have a merry Christmas!"
Tonks smirked. That was a polite way of saying, "Get your crap and get out…." Four shopping bags later, she was wandering the aisles, trying to figure out what to give her parents. It wasn't that they had everything, necessarily. They just weren't very gracious gift receivers.
"May I be of assistance?" one of the clerks asked.
"I need something for a 59 year old witch and 60 year old wizard who are picky."
"Follow me," the clerk said cheerfully. He led her to the kitchen section and pointed to a silver tea set. "This is one of our biggest sellers this year. Mandolin's Tea Calendar. It'll brew you a different type of tea every morning. If you're a family that drinks tea with every meal, the tea stays the same for one day. It works quite well. My daughter has one, and she swears by it."
"I'll take it," Tonks said, nodding. Last minute gifts were not her specialty, but this seemed like it would prompt very little complaining.
Normally, Remus loved doing things in the Muggle world. It was fun to leave potions and owls and broomsticks behind for a while, and just live. Normally, he liked the challenge of adapting for an afternoon—trying to resist the urge to do things by magic.
This afternoon was not one of those times. The grocery store was packed with people. He'd opted for the local Sainsbury out of fear that Greengrass Grocers would be full of unhappy Wizards. Unhappy Muggles wasn't much better. He quickly scanned the aisles for the things he needed, muttering apologies when he bumped someone. Finally, when his cart was full and almost overflowing, he raced to the only open cash register. Of course, that one was the only register that didn't have Teddy's favorite chocolate bar. "Eurgh!" he grumbled.
"Forget something, sir?" the boy at the register said.
"I was hoping you'd have Aero bars."
"Regular or mint?"
"Oi, Candace? Toss me a few mint Aeros, would you?"
The girl named Candace literally tossed them, over her shoulder, and kept ringing up the woman at her station.
Ten minutes later, when everything was purchased and bagged, Remus was struggling down the alley to the Apparation point. The one good thing about the busy holiday period, was that everyone was so focused on what they were doing, that no one felt like helping. That would've been hard to explain…letting someone carry your bags, and then disappearing from sight. When he was reasonably sure that he was out of sight of the street, he vanished the bags and Disapparated.
"No, Remus," Tonks said, trying not to smile.
"I could go back for something else!"
"You were just complaining about the first store you visited."
"But…this is important! I would gladly brave the store…"
"No, Remus. We're giving the tea set to my parents." Tonks finally let out the laughter she'd been holding back when Remus started to pout. "If you want one that badly, I'll order you one."
Pacified, Remus smiled and waved his wand. The ingredients in the cabinet rearranged themselves, allowing him to store the new items. "What's the plan for tomorrow?"
"I'll pick Teddy up, and then…." Tonks trailed off, sighing at the state of their house. "Then we clean."
"How does it get like this," Remus asked, following his wife's eyes toward the living room.
"Was that rhetorical, or did you really want an answer?"
"I'm really not sure…." The house was, that week, a wreck. Normally they did better than this, but long hours led to exhaustion, which led to bad habits. That was the way it was, though. The house was kept in a state ranging from controlled chaos to verging-on-disaster. Merlin only knew what Teddy's room looked like…. "Well, we can deal with it tomorrow. Come on, I'll help with dinner."