5 YEARS LATER
She rubbed the last of the suncream into her dimpled thighs and made sure her bikini top was tied well before getting up to adjust the towel on her seat. She felt a warm palm cup her bum before traveling up to pull her close, making her yelp as she came in contact with cold, wet swimming trunks.
Bill just chuckled and chased her around the seat until she gave in and let herself be enveloped in his arms. "Got you," he proclaimed his victory and swooped down to catch a kiss.
"Salazar, save me. Bloody Gryffindors, you'll give me a cavity," Draco drawled from his place under the large sun umbrella, his blond brow rising above the aviator sunglasses he was sporting.
"Oh please, you're so whipped," Bill snorted just as Ginny arrived from the pool as well, wringing her long hair out and pinning it up in a bun.
"Of course he is. Handcuffed too," she flipped back at her eldest brother cheekily and sat down between Draco's legs, passing him the lotion which he began working into her sun-kissed back.
"I really did not need to hear that," Harry cringed as he kicked off his flip flops and set his towel down, having just arrived by the pool to join them.
"Hey, where'd you leave Char?" Hermione asked, squirming away from Bill's tickling fingers to grab her purse.
"He's coming down in a minute, had a call from the reserve," Harry explained and took off his shirt, folding it neatly at the edge of his seat.
"Okay, next round of drinks on me, who wants what?" Hermione asked and took down their orders, roping her best friend into helping her carry them back.
As they walked towards the bar that was stationed between the four local villas, she noticed the happy glow Harry was emanating. He looked healthy, happy and in love, and finally living the life he never thought he would have.
"So, when are you going to join the married club?" Hermione asked, teasingly at first but she knew Harry always wanted to have a family and he has been with Charlie for nearly six years now.
Harry fidgeted with his pocket and looked over the cocktail menu, trying to unsuccessfully escape the question. But he could feel Hermione regarding him and knew she would figure it out eventually. "When he says yes," he murmured, knowing she wouldn't let it slide.
"So you did manage to pick a ring when you went to Goldstein's?" she asked nonchalantly, placing their order in mostly coherent Spanish.
Harry looked at her startled. "How could you possibly know about that?" he asked astonished.
Hermione chuckled. "Honestly? Pure coincidence. I was picking up some potion ingredients and saw you entering. I know you don't wear jewellery so I guessed you were looking for a special ring," she offered an encouraging smile.
Harry nodded. "I mean we've been together for a while, it's not like it's a big deal," he tried to play it off but she could tell it meant a lot to him.
"As if Charlie would say no to you," she hugged him around the shoulders and kissed his cheek. "If your heart says he's the one then you better let him know so."
Harry nodded, still a bit worried. "I was going to do it here, while we were on holiday. It's not tacky, is it?" he asked.
Hermione chuckled. "I'm sure someone will think so, but does it matter? I think it's wonderful, and I'm sure Charlie would agree. So what's it going to be?" she asked as they collected the drinks.
"I guess I'll be proposing tonight," he smiled, feeling a bit more resolute now.
They brought the drinks over to their small group and Hermione readily accepted Bill's hand, leading her to the decent-sized private pool attached to their villa. The water was beautiful, cooling off her warm skin from where she's been reading in the sun and soaking up some much needed vitamin D. It's been a busy spring and they finally all managed to pull their schedules together with a bit of Ginny's determination and Draco's luxurious tastes. They agreed to all chip in and go for a couples' holiday to have some fun in the sun and share a good laugh as a group.
Ginny chose the country and Draco took care of the rest, arguing that if he let one of them arrange the holiday, they would be 'slumming it' for two weeks. Hermione merely rolled her eyes at the time but she had to admit that their private Tenerife retreat was stunning. The villa had one suite on the grand floor and two on the first floor, and a large balcony that oversaw the sea. Naturally Gin and Draco took the largest suite and Hermione was impartial so they ended up on the ground floor. The perk of that was they could sneak out to the pool at night, and have already taken advantage of it a couple of times and utilised the small jacuzzi attached to the pool.
"Happy, Mrs. Weasley?" Bill asked as he pulled her up into his arms and slowly turned on the spot just making waves and letting her enjoy the weightless sensation of floating.
"How could I not be, husband?" she asked in turn and leaned in for a quick kiss. She still couldn't get enough of his kisses after half a decade.
The past few years have been crazy, busy, hilarious, and heart-breaking all the same. Hermione's shop picked up a lot and she decided it may be wise to distance herself from the day-to-day runnings of it. She trained Grace to take over as a manager, hired an accountant, and just checked in every week to see how the business was doing. Bill's and Harry's business was prospering as well, especially following the media reporting on their case at the Romanian dragon reserve. For a couple of years Hermione and Bill spent time between their respective apartments, with floo travel making it easy to spend time together.
Sadly, happiness sometimes tended to precede a great sadness and theirs came in the passing of Molly and Arthur. The newly rebuilt Burrow was supposed to be safe with all the additional charms, but a hurricane that hit the British isles three years ago caused structural damage. The roof caved in and killed the couple in their own bed, in their sleep. Their end was painless but the pain of their unexpected passing tore at their children. Bill and Charlie had both been absolutely inconsolable, and their partners made sure to keep them going and helped organise all the formalities to lay the couple to their rest.
No one could really face returning to the Burrow after the funeral so they agreed to let Bill as the eldest execute the wills and sell the property the family owned. The process was exhausting and while he dealt with the bank and real estate agents, Hermione stood beside him and helped him stay focused on getting through it, so they could properly grieve without the burden of bureaucracy. If was during this time that Bill asked her if she would marry him, and after making sure it wasn't a proposal born out of grief, she agreed. Once their hearts began healing, they found a lovely three-bedroom home in the Welsh valleys and moved in within the year.
Bill had no intentions of waiting to claim Hermione as his wife and mate, and their ceremony took place on a warm August afternoon nearly two years ago, their second anniversary approaching fast now. The most incredible magic happened when they were finally bonded, their magical cores reaching out for each other and a brilliant golden aura surrounding them as their souls joined. They didn't believe in soulmates but it would appear that their beings were not unknown to each other. And it did all click then for Hermione. Her dreams were not dreams at all, they were memories of past lives with this man, this soul, that belonged with hers. They managed to find a way to each other in the past and so they did in this life time. Why she remembered these snippets of her previous life, she did not know. What she did know was that she always woke up with a loving smile on her lips after remembering their bond from centuries past.
Both of them knew they belonged together, and their bond was harmonious and loving in almost every way. They had their bad days when they didn't communicate well or just wanted their own space. Every couple does and they were no exception. But the peace that settled over their beings when they were in each other's close presence was undeniable. So they took every day as it came and enjoyed the moments surrounded by their friends and family.
Charlie decided to stay closer to his family as well and was transferred to the Welsh dragon reserve to help manage its expansion. Harry agreed to move the headquarters of their company as well and so they set up anew in Wales, not far from Bill and Hermione. Living so close was of a great comfort to the two brothers and to the best friends that had spent the past few years unable to see much of each other.
At the same time a very surprising invitation landed in their mailbox, for an engagement party of one Draco Malfoy and Ginevra Weasley. This took them all by surprise, as it appeared Bill and Hermione were not the only ones grabbing life by the horns and going for it. The couple has been dating for a while, the last Malfoy Lord snatching the editor in chief up at one of the Ministry functions. They were both passionate and busy, often squabbled but quickly made up, and most of all were each other's equal in so many ways that it could only work out for the best anyway. Unlike Hermione and Bill though they took a while and only married half a year ago during a lovely Yule wedding attended by their nearest and dearest.
Bill nuzzled her cheek and took in her scent, sniffing her pulse curiously. The chlorine was really throwing him off but she smelt…different. "Are you using a new sun cream?" he asked curiously.
Hermione bit down on a smile and shook her head. "No, why?" she asked curiously.
"You smell different, but it just might be the chlorine," he mused a bit sadly, preferring the clean scent of her skin.
"Probably. Don't worry, I'll wash it all off before dinner," she promised as she slipped from his arms and stretched out in a swim.
Hermione was hoping that the change in her scent would take longer to take effect but it seemed Bill was able to sense the changes to her body already and she was only 7 weeks along. At least she had enough time until dinner to think of a creative way to tell the daddy-to-be the news.
She didn't know what life would bring. For now, all was well.
AN: And that's a wrap! Thank you all so much for showing this story your love. Next week, the beginning of a new story yet again! This year is proving fruitful and the muse keeps biting so I shall let her do with me as she will.
Until we meet again,