A/N: why yes...yes I did name their child Tom after Tom Riddle lol I couldn't help myself!


FORTY

Friday, 24 December 2021; one years old

Adjusting to her new role as a stay at home mom was both the most frustrating and the most rewarding thing Hermione had ever done. James was there with her until the first Monday of May, having wiped out three-quarters of his sick time. She was grateful that she wasn't doing this alone. She wasn't sure she would have been able to do that. She was convinced she would have had another breakdown if that were the case.

It took some time to settle in and find a routine that worked for everyone; especially after James went back to work and she had to adjust the routine all over again. She had thought, given the months she had spent avoiding the thought of her child, that she would have been terrible at it, but that was far from true. In fact, it turned out she was one of those mothers that almost never put him down. The first three months had been that way and it was something she was working on in her therapy sessions. She worked extra hard to ensure that she didn't go from one extreme to another.

A lot of her worry stemmed from the fact that he was considered a high-risk premature birth. Since there had been struggles in the beginning, the doctors had warned her and James that Tom's development would most likely be delayed. That he wouldn't hit the milestones at the times listed in the books she had read. All the while, they made sure to get her to understand that that was okay; so long as he was making progress, the timeline didn't matter.

And as time went on, there were scares, but for the most part, Tom was perfectly healthy. So far, every single one of his checkups put him right in the average zone. Considering everything he'd been through during the first three months of his life, Hermione would take average any day. But as his first birthday approached, he started getting stronger and surprising even his doctors.

At nine months, he started rolling onto his stomach; only two months later than the average child. And a month later, he had already taken his first steps. His motor skills were on the weaker side and he had started physical therapy shortly before Halloween, but he was getting stronger every day. Soon he would be able to walk without support of any kind and Hermione feared the day he would figure it out and never stop moving.

Thanksgiving found the new family enjoying a quiet dinner in. Ginny and Harry went to the Burrow to be with her family. Having only just started talking to Ron again, Hermione declined the invitation. It was that night, after polishing off the last of the mini pies Hermione had successfully made, Tom had said his first word. It wasn't Mommy or Daddy like Hermione and James had been trying endlessly to get him to say; it was Harry.

They had video called him right away to let him hear it and Hermione couldn't stop laughing as she saw him pumping his fist in the air repeatedly. He had been sour over learning that Sirius was not only the godfather, but shared a middle name with Tom, but that Hermione had asked Ginny to be godmother the day they'd named him. Something she had asked of Hermione in return when their daughter Lily Elizabeth Potter arrived in early September, later that year.

"Oh, stop pouting, Harry!" Ginny said. "You're his big brother. That is going to be the hardest undertaking if he's anything like you were growing up."

"Hey!" came a duo of both Harry and Hermione, earning a laugh from Sirius, James, and Ginny.

Needless to say, he was quite smug when he learned his name was his little brother's first word.

It was after Thanksgiving that Hermione started to feel the depression settle back in. Despite that her parents had always spent the holidays elsewhere, even when she was younger, it was the first one where she didn't have the option to see them at all. But her loved ones were determined to make sure this one was nothing like the previous one.

Especially James.

True to his word, James had gone all out when Christmas rolled around. No corner of the house was without decorations; inside or out. In fact, they were the most elaborately decorated house in the entire neighborhood. Even Harry had remarked on the fact that he had never seen the house look the way it did when it was finished. There was even so many decorations that they had started to put things up the day after Halloween.

On the twentieth, James took her and Tom to the cemetery. It was the first time she had been there since the funeral. She was surprised at how little tears she shed that day, most of which were bittersweet as she introduced them to their grandson. By the time she got home, the sadness still lingered, but it wasn't pressing down on her like it had been. And the next day, to celebrate Tom's first birthday, everyone gathered around to watch Tom make a right mess of a small cake and turn himself green with the frosting.

A few days later, everyone returned for Christmas Eve. She had even invited Ron and Hannah as a show of good faith for their friendship. He had been going out of his way to prove how sorry he was and let her know that he messed up. As part of her healing process, she forgave him. The last thing she wanted was to lose more people while they were mad at one another. The same went for Remus and Tonks as James forgave him the moment he came to apologize.

Even Sirius had brought someone with him, making it one of the best holidays to date. Her name was Marlene McKinnon and it was Hermione that had introduced the pair. She was a volunteer in one of Hermione's group therapy sessions and the more she went, the more they hit it off as friends. Her parents had also died in an accident when she was younger, but being that Marlene was closer to Sirius' age, she'd had time to heal and helped Hermione more than anyone else. It hadn't been long before she introduced her to Sirius and the pair had hit it off almost immediately. It was the first real relationship Sirius ever had and everyone knew it was the only would he would ever need.

The house wasn't used to having that many people in it at one time and while she was happy to have her loved ones around, she was more than happy to see them all go. Harry, Ginny, and Lily had been the last to leave and once their car was out of sight down the road, Hermione sighed into the silence.

"I'll be up in a minute," James said, kissing her cheek before heading into the kitchen.

"I can-"

"I'm just putting the food away. We can clean up tomorrow," he interrupted.

She sighed again, but nodded before climbing up the steps. Even though she had just been in Tom's room helping Harry get Lily out of the crib to go home, she went back in anyway. He was still passed out, snuggled up to the stuffed lion Harry had got him for his birthday. Keeping her touch light, she reached out and tugged his blanket up a bit more. Afterwards, she brushed the tufts of hair away from his face. The jury was still out on whether or not it would be curls or unruly. Though, it was starting to look like the latter.

Hermione remained there, staring down at her son while the little tree on the nightstand by the chair spun round and around. James had even decorated the bedrooms; theirs and Tom's anyway. Tom always did better with some sort of soft light and since putting the tree in his room, he had never slept better. And Hermione loved the way the lights would dance across the walls and over Tom's skin.

Just as she enjoyed seeing the lights would shimmer in James' eyes when he came for her. She wasn't sure she was going to let him take down the lights once the holiday was over. The jury was still out on that too.

Her lips curved upwards as a pair of arms wrapped around her from behind; a chin resting on her shoulder. She settled back into his embrace and hummed in approval when he turned and placed a brief kiss to the side of her throat.

"There was a time when I wasn't sure I'd get a moment like this," he murmured.

She nodded and folded her arms over his, squeezing tight. "Me neither," she whispered, letting her head drop back on his shoulder.

"But now that it's here, it's missing something."

"Like what?"

He pulled one of his arms from her waist for a moment and when it returned, she stilled as he held up his hand, displaying a ring between his thumb and forefinger. Tears misted her eyes as a gasp left her lips. It was a slim silver band that was crusted with crushed diamonds; each one of them catching the multicolored lights and sparkling in a way that stole her breath.

"James…"

"I wanted to do this earlier with everyone here, but I didn't want to overwhelm you."

A small laugh escaped her throat. "Thank you."

"I know we haven't been together long and that none of this was what either of us expected our lives to be like, but I wouldn't trade what we have for anything, Hermione. I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you."

"Yes," she answered, though he hadn't exactly phrased it as a question. "I want that too, James. More than anything."

She held out her hand then and watched through blurred vision as he slipped the ring onto the correct finger. The moment it was placed, she turned to face him and slung her arms around his neck. His lips found hers and she was glad that he didn't waste any time in reaching down to hoist her up. Her legs locked around his waist as he carried her from Tom's room to theirs.

After a gentle tap of the door with his foot, sealing them in, James set her down on her feet. As they began to undress each other, her lips slid from his in order to nibble her way across his jaw and then latch to the spot behind his ear that made him groan her name in the most sinful of ways. She only pulled away from his skin for the few seconds it took to remove both their shirts. She smirked against him once she dove back in, kissing her way along the curve of his shoulder, making him shiver. All the while they continued to undress one another.

When they had stepped out of the last of their clothes, he placed his hands on her hips and guided her to the bed. She laid down, reaching for him immediately once she had settled and watched as he crawled his way over her. She brought her knees up, creating a valley for him to nestle into as he braced himself on his forearms on either side of her head. Her nails raked up and down his back as he claimed her lips once more.

As she curled one hand around his shoulder, she let the other drift down and slip between their bodies. He groaned into her mouth as she wrapped her fingers around his length and began to pump at a leisurely pace. Knowing she was more than ready for him; her eyes not the only thing that had wept earlier, she ran him through her slit, lined him up at her entrance, and lifted her hips so he could slide inside of her.

They swallowed each other's groans of satisfaction and her body bowed up, pressing flat against his as he took his time in stretching her out and filling her completely. He enjoyed the way her inner walls adjusted for him and clutched, drawing him in almost as much as she loved to feel every ridge of him. She took control by moving her hips at a slow pace, determined to feel every inch of him with every push and every pull.

When she tossed her head back, she turned it to the side, allowing him to bury his face into the crook of her neck. His breath warmed her skin with each shallow pant and soft grunt between gentle presses of his lips. When her hand slid out from between them, she moved it back over the bare flesh of his rear and squeezed, anchoring herself to him to widen her hips and draw him in deeper.

She could feel her release building. Every time she lifted her hips to take all of him again after dropping them to where only his head was notched inside of her. With every nip of his teeth, flicker of his tongue, or suction of his lips against the column of her throat, her legs began to shake. And when she wasn't able to maintain the control, he took over by leaning on one side while stretching his arm down her side and hooking itself under her knee. When he pushed it towards her chest, giving him leverage, he picked up the pace.

James, always being able to tell when she was close, lifted his head. Long gone were the days where he had to ask for what he wanted. She knew that he wanted to see her come; to keep their gazes locked so he could see her soul when she shattered for him. She brought both hands up, one cupping his neck, the other finding the back of his head. And she wanted it too; finding nothing more satisfying when the lights in the room brought out every color lurking in the hazel of his eyes as he came with her.

Panting hard from exertion, he collapsed on top of her, their bodies still joined together. She welcomed the weight of him pressing down on her as she let her hands roam over whatever part of his body she could touch. "I love you," she whispered over and over again, matching the same mantra that fell from his lips as he continued to place languid kisses to her skin.

They continued to whisper the declaration through the night and when she woke up on Christmas morning, she told him she didn't want to wait. That they had both already been married and she didn't want to make a large deal of it. That he was her forever; a sentiment he returned in kind.

They spent the holiday planning the details amongst themselves and the next day went out to get what they needed. The only other person they involved was Sirius who got himself ordained on the internet. Once that was done, they waited until Harry, Ginny, and Lily came over for New Year's Eve. Instead of watching the ball drop on television, they gathered round to watch James and Hermione exchange vows in front of not one, but two Christmas trees in the living room.

As not only the people in their living room cheered them on for their first kiss, the sound of those in Time's Square did as well. They smiled into the kiss and when she dropped her head to his chest, Tom playing with her hair in her arms between their embrace, she couldn't think of anything more perfect.

The way her life had turned out had been the furthest thing from what she planned. But with James at her side, she knew there was nothing they couldn't handle together, even the unexpected.


A/N: GAH! I can't believe this is the end! I had a blast writing this and I'm so glad that you all loved it as well.

Feel free to join my FB Group: madrose_writing to see when I'll have more Jamione (or any of my other bajilion HP ships) coming out!

Until next time... XoXo