Title: A Marry-Me Christmas
Moment in Time: A few years after Hogwarts
Author: Beah Blue
Rating, Warnings, Spoilers: PG-13, MPreg warning, No spoilers
Note: Answer to the 12-08-03 Drabble Challenge of the SiriusXJames group.
James set the last dish on the drying rack and sighed heavily, wishing there was something else he could do to stall for time. Sirius was in the main room, wrestling with the Christmas tree and probably getting impatient while he waited for James to join him.
As if he'd heard James's thoughts, Sirius yelled, "James! Are you done yet? Don't tell me you're doing the dishes by hand!"
James sighed again, but forced his voice to be light. "I'll be right there!"
Sirius looked up as James came in. "I would have helped, you know. I don't see why you had to do the dishes right after dinner. It's the holidays. You can relax a few days out of the year, can't you?"
James refused to be baited. Any other time, he would have pointed out that had it been up to Sirius, the dishes would never be done and their small flat would fill to the ceiling with rubbish and dirty laundry. Instead, he pretended to be interested in the tree. "Any luck putting it together?"
Sirius scowled at the branch in his hands. "No. Tell me again why we bought a fake tree?"
"Because a real tree would shed needles all over the floor."
Sirius's scowl deepened. "That's not a very good reason. We have a broom, don't we?"
"It seemed like a good idea at the time," James said defensively. "If you want a real tree, we can get one tomorrow. It's not too late."
Sirius shook his head. He fit the branch into its slot and picked up the next one. "No, I've got it."
James let out a slow, tense breath.
No matter what he did, Sirius seemed determined to pick a fight. Dinner had been just plain awful. Nothing James said or did had been right. Sirius had even refused to try the pudding James had spent an hour preparing especially for the occasion.
And yet, Sirius didn't seem angry with him. They'd had more than enough fights; James knew what Sirius looked and sounded like when he was angry. This was something else.
Something was bothering Sirius, and for the first time in their relationship, Sirius didn't want to tell him what it was.
James had the idea that anything Sirius couldn't tell him had to be something terrible. Sirius told him everything, from the abuse he'd suffered at his parents's hands to the ugly, vengeful fantasies he still harboured against Snape. There was nothing they didn't tell each other.
He studied Sirius's face as Sirius put the finishing touches on the tree.
Sirius didn't look any different, except for the crease between his eyebrows that seemed to have taken up permanent residence lately.
Sirius startled, dropping the tinsel he'd been examining and looking up with a decidedly guilty expression. "What?"
"Never mind," James said, shaking his head.
"Don't stare at me like that," Sirius said peevishly. "Do I have to do everything myself?"
James pursed his lips and forced down the spurt of anger that welled up in his chest. He wasn't going to fight, no matter how determined Sirius seemed to provoke him. "What would you like me to do?"
"You can hang up those garlands."
James found the box containing their meager Christmas ornaments and began untangling the two strands of glass beads.
"I'm sorry I was short with you."
James looked up. "It's all right."
"No. It's not."
James put down the garlands and stared intently at Sirius. "Sirius, is there something you want to tell me?"
Sirius ducked his head, evading James's eyes. "No!"
"Well, if there is anything, you know you can tell me."
Sirius's face was hidden by his long hair, and James couldn't tell if his words made any impression. Reluctantly, he returned to the job at hand.
"It's just that..."
"Yes?" James said eagerly.
Too eagerly, maybe. Sirius shook his head and disappeared behind his curtain of hair again.
They worked in silence. James hung the garlands on the tree, and he could feel Sirius watching him and wished Sirius would just come out and say whatever was on his mind, because the waiting maddening.
"It's just that we... well, we don't have a lot of money. And... we've only been living together a few months..."
James turned around slowly, lowering the hand that had been reaching to hang a gold bauble on a high branch.
Sirius squirmed under his gaze.
"You aren't sorry we got this flat, are you?" James asked cautiously. "I know it isn't the best. No one starts out in a mansion, Sirius. Except maybe the Malfoys. I'm sure we'll find another place once we've saved a little money."
Sirius looked like he was about to choke.
"Sirius? What is the matter, Sirius?"
Sirius looked up, looking like an animal caught in the headlights of the Knight Bus. "I lost my job."
James blinked involuntarily. "You what?"
"Lost my job because I'm pregnant."
James felt the room lurching under his feet, but caught himself, forcing a deep breath of air into his lungs. "What?"
Sirius hunched his shoulders and lowered his head.
James felt frozen. The wire hanger of the bauble digging into his fingers was the only sensation that registered.
The silence dragged uncomfortably, while James struggled to regain some semblance of rational thought.
Sirius was... pregnant?
"You can start yelling now."
Sirius's voice pulled James roughly out of his stupor. "What? No! Why would I yell at you?"
Sirius looked up, hopeful yet incredulous.
"Why would you ever think that?" Now that he could think again, James had to struggle with an inexplicable anger. How could Sirius think...!
"It's just that... Frank had to marry Alice when she got knocked-up."
"We are not Frank and Alice, Sirius! Is that what this is about? You think I'll marry you because you're pregnant?"
Sirius started to answer, then looked slightly hurt. "You mean you won't?"
"Well of course I will! But I would have married you any time, if I'd thought that was something you wanted. You're the one always making fun of everyone who got married straight out of Hogwarts."
"And you always agreed with me."
James shook his head. "It never seemed important enough to pick a fight over. Married or not, we're together. I don't need a ring to tell me you're mine."
Again, Sirius looked both relieved and hurt.
"But I'll get one first thing tomorrow," James hastened to add, "if you want."
"What do you want?"
James crossed the room and kneeled in front of Sirius. "You. I want you. Do you want me to ask you now, or when I get a ring?"
"I don't need a ring," Sirius said, his voice thick.
"Right, then," James said, reaching for Sirius's hand and drawing a deep breath.