It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Wesley straightened his tie once more before summoning the courage to ring the bell.
“Shall I tell him you’re washing your hair? Goodness knows you’ve spent enough time charming out the charred bits.” He heard a playful voice from the other side of the door.
“Dad!” The yell sounded like it came from the second floor.
The door opened and a middle-aged man poked his head out. “Whatever you’re selling, we don’t want any, and you should really have a talk with your employer. Sending you out to peddle your wares on a holiday is quite unconscionable. Merry Christmas!” The door slammed.
“Dad! I can’t believe you just…” Thump, thump, thump, thump… crash!
The door opened again. “Hello?” Wesley finally spoke. He glanced down to see ‘Dora crumpled into a heap at the base of the stairs.
“You must be Wesley; come in. Please excuse the mess.” Mrs. Tonks offered, glancing casually at Nymphadora and then to her husband as she said ‘mess’.
“Don’t look at me! I put all of my stuff away.” Tonks got back on her feet.
“Thank you.” Wesley tentatively stepped inside, handing Mrs. Tonks the bouquet his mother had insisted he bring with him.
“Tropical orchids, how … seasonal.” Mrs. Tonks smiled politely while holding the flowers like she would hold a stick of dynamite.
“They’re from my mother’s hothouse.” Wesley blushed.
“Ah.” Mrs. Tonks nodded. “Your mother has a hothouse. How nice. Dora, dear, can you help me put this in a vase?”
“That’s not really a two person job, and I was thinking I should…”
“Dora, dear, go help your mother.” Her father shot Wesley a speculative glare before smiling indulgently at his daughter.
“Right. Um, Wesley, this is my Dad. Dad, this is Wesley. Please don’t embarrass me. Please?” Her father arched a brow. “Um, I’ll be in the kitchen. Call me if you need any help?” She offered Wesley as she trailed off after her mother.
“Well, Wesley,” Mr. Tonks rested a hand on Wesley’s shoulder, and the boy got the feeling he was about to be led to his doom. “Why don’t we take a seat and you can tell me all about yourself. So are you in Hufflepuff with Dora?”
“Ravenclaw, actually.” Wesley sunk into the fluffy sofa.
“Well, at least it’s not Slytherin.” Mr. Tonks sat down on the chair directly across from him.
“I heard that!” came Mrs. Tonks’ voice from the kitchen.
“I meant Gryffindor!” Mr. Tonks called back to his wife while winking at Wesley. “So Ravenclaw, eh? I guess that means you’re a bit of a bookworm?”
“Well, I try to apply myself in all my classes, if that’s what you mean.”
“Mind you, I’m not one to make sweeping generalizations, but every Ravenclaw I’ve meet has been a bit too bookish for my taste.”
“Bookish?” Wesley nervously adjusted his glasses.
“You know what I mean. Always reading, never doing. Bookish.”
“Ahem.” Wesley coughed. That did describe him a bit, but he had always seen that as a good thing. “Well, sir,” Wesley tried to push himself up off the sofa cushion to look more respectable, but found himself sinking more into the pillows. “I gather it’s important to have a balance of reading and doing.”
“Couldn’t agree with you more.” Mr. Tonks smiled. “Can I get you a drink or something?”
This was a trick question, Wesley knew it. He had seen his father use this trick of sizing up other men based on their drink order. The question was what would be an acceptable answer? Refusing any drink would be seen as rude while asking for anything like soda or, god forbid, wine, might be seen as wanton behavior. “A glass of water would be nice.”
“Water, eh?” Mr. Tonks chuckled. “Well, it’s not the most imaginative thing, but I suppose it will work.” Mr. Tonks fumbled in his festive red robe sleeves for a minute then scratched his head. “Darling, have you seen my wand?”
“Try the sofa cushions.” Mrs. Tonks yelled back from the kitchen.
“Oh, right, right.” Mr. Tonks stood up and put his hands on either side of Wesley’s legs and started rummaging around the edges of the cushion Wesley sat on. “It’s amazing we don’t lose more things in this sofa. I swear, it would eat a man alive if we didn’t keep it properly fed.”
“Fed?” Wesley froze. As if having his girlfriend’s father hover so close to him wasn’t bad enough, now he’d have to worry about cannibalistic couches.
“Mainly pocket change, if you catch my drift.” Mr. Tonks winked at him again. “Ah, here we go.” A thin light-colored wand was extracted from the sofa cushions. “Now, where was I? Oh yes, drinks! I was about to show you my new toy.”
“Are you deaf, boy, or do you just feel inclined to repeat the last word of everything I say?” Mr. Tonks teased.
“Dad!” The voice came from the kitchen area, where evidently Tonks was being recruited to set the table.
“Watch this.” Mr. Tonks aimed his wand at what appeared to be a pile of rubbish. In fact the entire living-room had a cluttered appearance that reminded Wesley of some of the antique stores his father had dragged him through during his “pre-watcher training”. With a quick flick of the wrist and muttered “Refresco preparans”, the pile of knickknacks shuddered and an antique-looking globe rolled towards them. “One water, and one eggnog on the rocks.” Mr. Tonks clearly pronounced.
The globe shuddered, glowed, then snapped open at the equator. “Here you are.” Mr. Tonks reached in and pulled out a glass of water. “Isn’t that just the neatest trick you’ve seen? Dora got that for me for Christmas.”
“How thoughtful of her.” Wesley had seen globe liquor cabinets before, and wasn’t terribly impressed with its ability to roll, but felt he should say something.
“Yes, that’s our ‘Dora.” Mr. Tonks beamed. “Of course a girl that thoughtful deserves an equally thoughtful fellow.” The jolly smile became slightly more menacing.
“Dinner’s ready!” Tonks called from the dining room, followed by a CRASH!
“Um, never mind.”
“Well, sir, I think…”
“Dora!” Came the gasp from the kitchen.
“I said I’m sorry. Besides, it’s not like anyone eats the jellied cranberry sauce anyway. It just sits on the table and jiggles.”
“On that encouraging note, how about we check up on the womenfolk?” Mr. Tonks led Wesley down the hallway to the dining room.
“Oh, there you are, I was just about to call you for supper.” Mrs. Tonks straightened the serving dishes on the table.
“Great minds think alike, and so do we, dear.” Mr. Tonks gave Mrs. Tonks a peck on the cheek before taking his place at the head of the table. Once again, Wesley found himself across the table from his girlfriend, only this time they were separated by a roasted turkey rather than a silver candelabrum.
Dinner sped by in a happy blur, and by the time dessert was served, Wesley was ready to admit that he might have been wrong not to spend both holidays with the Tonks family. That all changed when the doorbell rang. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were expecting guests. I should probably be heading home.” Wesley apologized and began to stand up.
“Nonsense. They aren’t really guests, they’re family.” Tonks reached across the table as if she wanted to yank Wesley back into his chair.
“That should be Mr. Tonks’ brother with his family. They come over every year.” Mrs. Tonks tried to fill in as Mr. Tonks went to open the door. “We should probably go meet them halfway.”
“Yeah, Uncle Joseph and Aunt Mary aren’t that bad. Cousin Fred is okay, too.” Nymphadora allowed as she stood up. “But stay away from the twins.”
“Kelly and Shelly, or as I like to call them, Flopsy and Mopsy.” Nymphadora ignored the disparaging look from her mother. “It was easier to refer to lil’ Cousin Fred as Cotton-tail when he was short. He’s now got a foot on me, the lil’ bugger.” Nymphadora smiled. Wesley stared on in confusion. “You know, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail? Peter Rabbit? Hello, Muggle Studies 101?”
“Oh right, the garden gnomes cleverly mistaken by muggles to be anthropomorphic animals.” Wesley nodded.
Before Nymphadora could speak, the dining room was besieged by Tonks of all shapes and sizes, including the three teenagers. Wesley could hear himself being introduced to the newcomers, but was so overwhelmed by the noise that he couldn’t get a word in edgewise.
“He’s cute!” Kelly or Shelly said.
“Yes, and he’s rich and smart.” Nymphadora added. “What’s more, he’s mine. Go find your own.”
Wesley could have sworn he heard his girlfriend growl. The pinch he felt on his rear definitely did not come from his girlfriend. “So, do you have a brother?”
“Ah, um, no, not really no, more of an only child.” He backed nervously towards Nymphadora.
“Nymphie’s got herself a stutterer too. That should be fun for the caroling.”
“Caroling?” Wesley turned to his girlfriend in blind terror.
“It’s tradition.” She shrugged. “Now, where did you put your coat?”
“Trust me, caroling is a sport best done outside.” Nymphadora handed him his jacket then slipped hers on.
“That may be the case, but why?”
“Is Wesley not in the holiday spirit?” Aunt Mary asked in a saccharine sweet tone. “I have just the thing.”
“If I were you, I’d run.” Nymphadora muttered.
“What? I can’t hear you. It’s too loud.” Wesley tried to speak over the boisterous conversation the Tonks males were having about hockey sticks and the twins “warming-up” their vocal cords.
“I said, run.” Tonks repeated a bit louder.
“Run? Run where? What am I doing that for?”
“Here you go! Now is that just the thing!” Aunt Mary had produced a headband with felt antler horns and jingle bells. She slipped it on Wesley’s head. “Alright we’re ready to go!”
Hearing his cue, Mr. Tonks opened the front door and ushered them all out the front door with a rousing chorus of Jingle Bells. “Wait, I’m supposed to go outside in this?” Wesley hoped his girlfriend would take the hint and take off the antlers for him.
“It’s tradition.” Tonks shrugged forlornly.
“I thought you liked breaking traditions.” Wes tried bargaining.
“Yeah, but not the Christmas kind. Those are sorta sacred.” She pushed him out the door just as they hit the last “One horse open sleigh!”
The group wandered over to their neighbor’s house, lil’ Fred running up to hit the doorbell. “Okay everyone- It came upon a midnight clear!” Mr. Tonks called out and hummed a random tone. As soon as the neighbor opened the door, the group broke into song… all the group, that is, except Wesley.
“Why aren’t you singing?” Flopsy, or was it Kelly, looped her arm around Wes’ shoulder.
“I’m afraid I don’t know the words to these folksongs.” Wesley blushed.
“I can teach you,” she scooted a bit closer, “just put your lips together and…”
While clumsy in most aspects of her life, it was a little known fact that Nymphadora Tonks has a wicked right hook. As one twin fell down, the other jumped on Nymphadora’s back causing all three to fall into a scrum match, and above the hubbub of shouts and yells from pulled hair, one could hear sung in a pleasant tenor “Peace on Earth, Good will to Men!”