Disclaimer: Mine! All mine! Mwahahahaha!
A/N: Dedicated to all of those lovely people who reviewed "The Perfect Gift" - I wouldn't have written the sequel without your encouragement! Special thanks to Seren, who gave me this challenge AND a deadline, or else I probably would never have gotten this done in such good time. ;)
There was no denying it any longer. Ronald Weasley was, quite possibly, in the biggest pickle he'd ever been in, and he'd been in quite a few. Christmas was one week away and he still had no idea what he was going to get Hermione.
He'd really messed it up for himself last year. Why on Earth had he proposed on Christmas? There was no possible way he could outdo that gift! And now that he and Hermione had been married for three months, he was sure that she would expect something amazing. After all, it was their first Christmas as husband and wife – she would undoubtedly murder him if he failed to make this Christmas memorable for her.
Of course, his predicament was made even worse by the fact that he really couldn't afford to buy her anything nice this year. The payments for her engagement ring had put a serious dent in his already small bank account that had never quite bounced back, not to mention the tiny cottage they had bought right after the wedding. Even with both of them working, things were tight at the moment. He didn't want to admit it to Hermione, but Ron often lay awake at night, wondering if they would make it.
Which is why he was here today, begging his mother for advice.
"I don't know why you can't just tell Hermione that you can't afford a nice gift, Ronald," his mother frowned as she put away the last of the dishes. "She'll understand."
Ron sighed. "I know she would, Mum, but she doesn't know quite how bad things are, and I don't want her to worry."
Molly smiled as she sat down across from him. "You have to tell her sometime."
"I will," Ron insisted, "but I want her to enjoy the holiday. Is that bad?"
"No, dear, it's not bad. But, you'll have to find a good gift if you don't want her to know about your finances just yet."
"That's what I was afraid of." He sighed again and put his head in his hands. He had a very small measure of knowledge when it came to women, and he was convinced that it got smaller ever day. How in the world was he going to come up with something good enough for Hermione?
"Why don't you make her something?" his mother suggested.
Ron choked on his tea. "Make her something? Are you mad?"
"What's wrong? Surely you could make her something easily enough."
"Come on, Mum. Don't you remember the time I tried to make you a birdhouse? It was completely unrecognizable!"
"Ronald, you were five years old," Molly laughed. "Surely your handiwork has improved since then."
"Don't bet on that."
"Alright, then. What are your other options?"
She had him there. Great. This certainly will be memorable... I wonder how often couples get divorced on their first Christmas together. "Fine, I'll make her something. But if it turns out to be a disaster, I'm blaming it on you."
Molly laughed again. "Don't worry, dear. Hermione will love anything you give her, as long as it's from the heart."
After much deliberation, Ron had decided to build Hermione a bookshelf. After all, she had entirely too many books for her own good, and there was a serious lack of storage space in their house. And really, how hard could it be to nail some pieces of wood together and slap a coat of paint on the finished product?
Harder than he thought, apparently.
He'd been hammering away in the backyard for hours, and he wasn't making any real progress. His "shelf" looked more like a deformed dollhouse, and he couldn't figure out why. He was obviously doing something wrong...
Hermione would be returning from her shopping trip with Ginny any minute now, and Ron was feeling the pressure. Maybe he should just scrap this project and think of something easier. Obviously woodwork wasn't his specialty.
With a heavy heart, he tore apart the little work that he had done thus far and tossed the boards into a pile on the grass. Pocketing his hammer and bag of nails, he trudged into the house and wearily sat down at the kitchen table. He had just kicked off his shoes when he heard the familiar pop of his wife apparating.
"Oh, Ron! You're home!" Hermione grinned and came over to kiss him on the cheek. "You're all dirty and sweaty. Have you been working outside?"
"Er... yeah. Yeah, I was, er..." Come on, man! Think of something! "I was over at the Burrow, helping Dad in his workshop."
She smiled. "That was nice of you. Has he bewitched anything odd lately?"
Ron grinned, glad he could at least tell her the truth about that. "He found a new toy – something called a cellotone, or something."
Hermione laughed. "A cell phone? That will keep him occupied for a while."
Ron breathed a sigh of relief as Hermione went upstairs with her shopping bags. He hated lying to her. There had to be something he could make her for Christmas to get him out of this mess. It would have to be something that wouldn't require as much muscle as a bookshelf, and preferably something that needed a bit less brain power as well.
What were his choices? He had four days left and no reasonable plan in his head. The bookshelf was the best of his ideas, and that obviously wasn't saying much. He supposed he could make her favorite meal as a surprise, but he'd probably end up poisoning the both of them in the process, and that certainly wouldn't make for a happy Christmas.
He could definitely rule out jewelry. He couldn't buy anything, and the last time he'd tried to make a piece of jewelry was when he was six and he'd given his mum a macaroni necklace. He had a sneaking suspicion that Hermione wouldn't get as much joy out of that as his mum had.
Hermione reentered the kitchen. "Ron, I left something in one of Ginny's bags. I'm going to hop over to the Burrow and get it. I'll be right back."
Ron nodded in agreement and his wife disappeared with a pop. With a sigh, he headed upstairs and opened the door to their bedroom. Pulling off his sweaty shirt, he searched through the wardrobe for a clean one, thoughts of the upcoming holiday still swirling around his mind. How was he ever going to find something to give her?
He was very close to giving up altogether and just leaving the country when his hand brushed across something familiar in the bottom of the wardrobe. He reached down and picked up the small, leather-bound book, turning it over in his hands as a goofy smile spread over his face.
Ron woke up to the scent of lilacs. He looked over and saw his wife lying next to him, her hair spread out all over his pillow and hers. Her shampoo. He grinned to himself. He loved waking up to the smell of her hair. Merlin, he loved waking up to her.
She stirred, her brown eyes finally opening and settling on him. "Happy Christmas," she whispered sleepily.
"Happy Christmas." He shifted his weight so he could lie on his side and look at her. "Our first Christmas."
She smiled. "It is. Are you glad?"
"Of course I'm glad. Why wouldn't I be?"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "I don't know. I know things have been tough on you lately, what with our finances and all, and..."
He squinted at her. "You know?"
She nodded. "I know you haven't been sleeping, either, and I know you're nervous about being able to provide for us. But I don't want you to worry. We'll make it through."
Ron laughed. "How do you always know these things?"
"I know everything," she teased, wrapping her arms around his waist, "and don't you forget it."
"If you know everything, then tell me what I got you for Christmas."
Her eyes widened, as did her smile. "That's something I don't know, but I'm ready to find out." She bounced slightly on the mattress in her excitement. "Will you go get it? I can't wait until later to open it."
Her excitement was contagious. With a grin, Ron rolled over and pulled open the drawer on the nightstand. "It's not much, but..."
Hermione continued to bounce up and down, and Ron laughed again. "You can't have it until you sit still," he teased, turning to face her again.
She bit her lip and sat cross-legged on the bed, waiting for him to give her the small wrapped package. Ron felt a bit nervous about the gift, but he knew that she would like it – she had to like it.
Hermione gently tore open the wrapping paper and revealed the well-worn volume. She gave him a curious look. "What's this?"
He grinned. "Open it."
She turned back the cover and let out a small gasp as she realized what it was. "Ron... it's your... and... oh..." Her words trailed off as she became absorbed in the pages. Pages that he had written.
When he had first entered Hogwarts, his mother had given him that journal as a way to keep his memories fresh. "Write about the things that are important to you, Ronald," she had instructed him. "Write from your heart."
And so he had. His writing was sloppy, his entries sporadic, but as the years had progressed, so had his heart. Eventually, every sentence – every word – was about Hermione. She had consumed his heart, and he had poured it out onto the pages. Now he was giving it back to her.
It seemed like hours before she was done reading, but when she finished, there were tears in her eyes. "Thank you," she whispered.
He smiled. "You're welcome." He could see that she was about to start really crying, and even though he was used to it, he wanted to head it off at the pass. "What about my gift?" he joked, trying to lighten the mood.
Hermione wiped her tears on the sleeve of her nightdress and gave him that gorgeous smile of hers. "I'm afraid you can't have your gift just yet."
Ron laughed. "Oh, don't make me wait until after breakfast!"
Her eyes sparkled. "A little bit longer than that."
"How much longer?"
"Oh, about seven or eight months longer."
Ron crinkled up his nose in thought. "Seven or eight mon... but... wha..." Oh, holy night. "Hermione, are you telling me... are you... I mean, are we..."
Hermione grinned and took his hand. "We're going to have a baby, Ron."
He suddenly lost all capability for intelligent speech. "A... a... a baby? Us? We're having a... a... a baby?"
She just laughed. "Yes, Ron, a baby! We're having a baby."
He fell back on the pillows, stunned. "I can't believe it. I just can't believe it."
She curled up next to him and laid her head on his chest. "Are you happy?"
"Merlin, yes!" he exclaimed with a laugh. "How long have you known about this?"
"Only about two weeks, but I wanted to wait until today to tell you." She smiled. "Happy Christmas, Ron."
"Happy Christmas, Hermione," he replied as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and held her close to him. This had to be the best Christmas ever.
There was no way he'd be able to top it next year.
A/N: Yay for R/Hr fluffiness! Wheeee! Please drop me a little line by pushing that shiny review button! You know you want to!