A soft 'pop' sounded around the property as Hermione Apparated herself and Ben to the edge of the Burrow's wards. She took a long moment to stare at the house, the lights lit up, giving everything a warm and inviting glow. She could see people moving in the kitchen and hear voices and laughter drifting out the open windows.
"Are we just going to look?" Ben asked.
"Are you sure you're up for another round of being surrounded by people?" she returned his question with one of her own. They had spent the first few hours since coming through the arch dealing with the Ministry, Hermione having to prove who she was, and Ben having to register himself for lack of anyone having a better idea what to do with a man who had seemingly appeared out of nowhere. They were finally allowed to leave after speaking at length with Kingsley Shacklebolt, now Minister of Magic, who had agreed to keep her return a secret until she had been able to tell her friends. He also told her Harry had temporarily moved into the Burrow after the war, wanting to surround himself with his surrogate family in their shared grief.
"I think I will survive. I daresay they may not even notice me," he replied.
"Okay," she smiled, starting towards the house, her stomach starting to flutter.
"You're nervous," he commented.
"I don't know how they are going to take seeing me," she admitted. "What if they're mad."
He stopped, spinning her towards him wrapping an arm around her and looking intensely into her eyes. "Nobody is going to be mad at you," he assured her. "They will be relieved and, most likely, deliriously happy." He reached up to run a hand through her hair, pushing it away from her face. "This is a happy moment, don't let your fears take any of that away."
She nodded, a smile spreading across her lips before she reached up to wrap her arms around his neck and draw him down to her so she could press her lips to his. He drew her into him, holding her body against his and savoring the kiss.
"Thank you," she whispered against his lips. "I..."
"Hermione!" Several voices shouted in unison, and she turned to see that the Weasleys must have seen her through the window and were now pouring out of the house, Harry and Ron leading the pack. She let Ben go and rushed forward to meet them and they crashed into each other in a tangle of arms and happy sobs. For over a minute none of them were able to speak, though Ginny and George joined in the hug while Molly, Arthur, Bill, Fleur, and Percy stood not too far away, Molly's hand over her mouth as tears streamed down her cheeks.
"Where were you?" Harry finally managed to ask.
"What the hell happened?" Ron demanded at the same time.
"It is a very long story," she replied. "It's so good to be home, I missed you all so much."
"You were dead," Ginny whispered. "I saw you hit with the killing curse."
"But we couldn't find your body," Ron added.
"I know," she nodded. "But you're not one of a kind anymore, Harry. I survived it, too."
"How?" Harry asked in disbelief as Molly started forward to give Hermione a hug.
"I'm not entirely sure, but my best guess?" she looked behind her, holding her hand out towards Ben. "Ben saved me."
Ben walked forward, taking Hermione's outstretched hand as Molly looked him over, a warm smile across her face.
"It is good to meet you," Molly wrapped him in a hug, and Hermione covered her mouth to hide her chuckle as Ben awkwardly patted Molly's back.
"How did you save her, mate?" Ron asked as he stepped forward to shake Ben's hand.
"As I said, it's a very long story that's going to take several strong cups of tea to get through," Hermione replied for him.
"I'll put the kettle on," Molly smiled, and she started to herd everyone but Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ben back into the house. Harry and Ron stepped forward, each taking one of Hermione's hands, and for a long moment they stood together, unsure of what to say.
"I have something for you," Hermione said suddenly, producing Sirius' letter and holding it out to Harry.
"Sirius is alive?" Harry asked, wide-eyed.
"Yes, and he's very sorry he's not coming back but, in his words, he 'can't abandon the pup'."
"What?" Harry and Ron shouted in unison.
"I'll let him tell you," she nodded towards the letter.
Harry turned it over, then put it in his pocket. "I think I can only take one story at a time," he muttered. "So, um, the two of you..." he raised an eyebrow as he looked between Hermione and Ben.
"Yes," she smiled, reaching back to take Ben's hand and drawing him forward.
"And... he saved you?"
"She saved me as well," Ben squeezed her hand.
"I'm sorry," she suddenly looked guilty and looked towards Ron.
"Don't be," Ron shook his head. "What happened during the battle... we never really got to figure things out. As long as you're happy, and he treats you well, that's all I wanted for you, Hermione."
"Thank you," she smiled, but her face fell as she looked at Harry, who was eyeing Ben apprehensively.
"You can feel him, can't you?" she asked softly.
"I wasn't sure, but... yes," Harry replied cautiously.
"You know I'm going to tell you both everything, right?"
Harry and Ron nodded in unison.
"So, I'll let you know first," she swallowed hard and squeezed Ben's hand.
"She is trying to find the right words to tell you about my former life as Kylo Ren," Ben announced for them.
"Kylo Ren?" Harry repeated, sounding confused.
"For a very long time I aligned with the Dark Side," he admitted. "Hermione decided her mission was to turn me away from that, and she is quite stubborn when she puts her mind to something."
"He's not fully turned away yet, but he's much better than he was. Give us a little break on that, we did just get out of a war," Hermione added.
"Another one?" Ron asked.
"Again, very long story. I promise you'll get it all, even if it takes a while."
Harry stepped forward again to wrap his arms around her. "I'm so happy you're back," he murmured into her hair, and a moment later Ron joined them.
"You smell like Molly's cooking," Hermione sighed a minute later.
"You know there's a ton of it in there, right?" Ron beamed. "And that she's probably already piled two plates with as much as they'd take. You're in for a treat, mate," he turned to Ben. "My mum is an amazing cook."
Hermione let off a soft groan and looked longingly towards the house.
"Time to face the family," Harry said, turning her towards the door and giving her a gentle push forward. "Coming, mate?" he turned to ask Ben.
Ben nodded and started to follow them towards the house. He wasn't sure what was to come, or how much Hermione would be willing to tell the group, but for the first time in a long time he felt true hope for the future. Before they reached the house he reached out to take Hermione's hand, and she gave his hand a reassuring squeeze as he could feel her happiness, and he knew that no matter what was coming he'd be able to face it with her.
Ben couldn't help but smile as he watched Hermione let off a laugh, her hand covering her mouth as she bent forward, other hand touching Harry's arm as her friend turned a brilliant shade of scarlet at whatever George had just said.
"I heard congratulations are in order," Bill Weasley said, taking a seat next to him. "Mum can't stop gushing about how nice your new house is."
"Hermione did seem to make her happy when she asked her for help setting up the garden," Ben replied.
"Well, mum considers her somewhat of a daughter, so it makes her happy when Hermione treats her like a mom."
"Hermione is quite lucky to have such a family," he finally tore his eyes away from Hermione and looked at Bill, and he gave an inadvertent chuckle. "Nice haircut," he smirked.
Bill sighed and ran his hand through his newly shortened hair. "I hate it, but if I wanted the promotion at the bank I thought it best to look professional. Does it really look that bad?"
"No, but it does remind me of someone."
"From before?" he raised an eyebrow.
"He was the man who once led the coup against me."
"Wonderful," Bill grumbled. "Glad to know my doppelganger is a massive prat."
Ben let off a chuckle and looked back at Hermione, who noticed his gaze and shot him a smile.
"So..." Bill started, "in the spirit of today, have you ever thought of making it official? It's been three years since you guys appeared or, rather, re-appeared in Hermione's case, and you have bought a house together."
Ben looked around the room, at the fancy outfits, the remnants of the elegant dinner, and the people dancing and talking, everyone with smiles on their faces, and he had to stop himself from admitting that he had done little else that day but imagine it was Hermione in the white dress saying vows to him rather than in her black dress standing just behind her best friend as he spoke the words to his bride. "I do think it's about time," he replied.
"Just warn me before you ask. I don't know if I can take mum's excitement over another wedding just yet, I might need to take a vacation until she calms down," he chuckled. A new song came on and Bill immediately stood, "Excuse me, I'm going to go find my wife. This is her favorite song and I'd hate for her to miss it."
Ben nodded as Bill walked off, then stood himself. He crossed over to Hermione, Harry, and George as Hermione let off another burst of laughter and Harry turned even redder.
"Do you mind if I steal her for a while?" he asked.
"Like I'm going to be able to stop her, mate," Harry replied.
Ben held his hand out to Hermione, who smiled as she took it. He led her onto the dance floor, wrapping an arm around her as he started to lead her along with the music.
"It's been a beautiful evening, hasn't it?" she looked up at him.
"It has," he nodded. "Though, when it is ours I think I would prefer fewer people."
Her step faltered a moment, and she raised an eyebrow. "When it is ours?" she asked softly.
"I know a ring is generally a formality here, and I haven't had the chance..."
"I don't care," she interrupted. "When is good enough."
He drew her up to him to press his lips to hers, and she enthusiastically pushed herself into him, deepening the kiss without a care as to anyone around who may see. He let her carry on a bit, but pulled away when he thought they might be crossing the line into 'vulgar', or at least when his thoughts were.
"Fewer people is acceptable," she said. "But I don't want a tent. We're going to rent a hall."
"Have I just created a monster?" he muttered.
"After everything you've been through? A wedding will be nothing. And we will make it small. Close family and friends only."
She noticed his face fell and he looked slightly away, and she realized that by 'close family and friends' she meant her family and friends.
"Or we could elope. Go somewhere and get it done just you and me."
"No," he looked at her, running a hand up her neck to cup her face. "You deserve the big celebration."
She reached up to kiss him again, then rested her head on his shoulder. "I love you," she said softly.
"And I love you," he replied.
The doors to the command center slid open, but Leia paid them no mind. She practically lived in the room, and people were always coming and going. The big war had been over for a while, but there were still pockets loyal to the First Order scattered throughout the galaxy, and she had spent the last few years taking care of problems as they arose. But she was getting older, and those close to her noticed she was starting to groom those like Poe, Rey, Finn, and Sirius to take over for her when she stepped down, which would be sooner rather than later.
"General Organa?" Sirius' voice brought her out of her thoughts. He was standing near her, clutching a red book to his chest. "Ma'am. Something came through the arch a while ago. I think you'll want to see it."
She wordlessly held out a hand, and he gently handed her the book. She opened the front cover, and immediately smiled. There was a picture of Ben, arms lovingly wrapped around Hermione, who was wearing a white gown and looked radiant. As she watched Hermione turned to Ben, who gave her a kiss before turning back to smile at the camera.
"This is a wedding portrait?" she looked up at Sirius.
"Yes, ma'am," he nodded. "There's quite a few pictures of their wedding in there."
She flipped through the pages slowly, taking in the happiness on her son's face as she saw pictures of them throughout the day, her heart swelling as she saw a few seconds of his life with each turn of the page. There were other pictures as well, pictures of a house, of them spending time with their friends, and of trips they went on together. When she got to the final page the picture was much different, still and grainy. Underneath it Hermione wrote 'It's a boy.'.
"She's pregnant," she let off a sound that was half laugh, half sob.
"It sure looks that way," Sirius nodded.
She ran her fingers over the picture, then looked up at him. "Is that archway still active?" she asked.
"Last I checked," he beamed.
"That's good," she smiled, closing the book and holding it to her chest, debating her next move.