Hermione sat on the edge of the tattered sofa, her head falling forward into her hands as she sighed softly. It was Christmas Eve and the War was finally over. Harry had defeated Voldemort in battle only a few hours ago. She was so tired she could barely hold herself up, and her face was stained with tears that had fallen silently as she had moved amongst the casualties of the battle. She wanted nothing more than to curl up into a small ball and cry until there were no tears left and then sleep for a few weeks.
The last four years had worn them all down. She was twenty years old but looked much older. Haggard and exhausted, her body too thin and her eyes too old. Innocence lost many years ago, a strength discovered that she didn't even know she possessed, her eyes closing as she simply breathed without the threat of Voldemort lurking in the corner of her mind for the first time in nearly a decade.
The sound of the door opening drew her attention. Looking up, her hand found her wand unconsciously, ready to fight. She relaxed when she saw the tired face of her lover, her eyes quickly moving over him. He was favoring his left leg and holding his right arm, obviously hit by a curse but he was alive. She stood and crossed the room quickly, her arms going around his waist, her face buried in his chest. For the first time since the battle began, she finally felt safe.
"I couldn't find you," she mumbled against the fabric of his robe, holding tight for fear of letting him go. "Remus said you survived but I couldn't find you!"
"I'm here now," he said softly, his arms tightening their embrace. "I was hit with several Crucio but I'm okay. Were you hit?"
"A few minor curses, but nothing serious. We lost so many people these last few years. We were both lucky," Hermione said softly. Pulling back, she looked into his eyes, her hand pushing a lock of red hair away from his forehead. "I love you, Ron."
"Not as much as I love you," he challenged with a hint of a boyish grin. Lowering his head, his lips gently brushed against hers.
When the kiss ended, Hermione asked, "Did you see Harry? He was worried about you, too."
"Saw him on my way to find you. He was going to St. Mungos for treatment and asked if we'd meet him there," Ron told her. "He didn't look that bad considering."
"Can we," Hermione hesitated, torn between doing her duty as a best friend and wanting to spend time with her fiance and simply rest, "can we stay here for a bit before going?"
"Of course," Ron declared before placing another soft kiss on her lips. He moved to the sofa, sitting down and pulling her onto his lap. His hand rested on her hip, his other brushing through her curly hair as he held her, thanking God that he hadn't lost her during the War. She put her hand on his, his eyes looking at the ring he had placed there several months after their graduation from Hogwarts. Neither of them had wanted to get married until after the War, wanting something to look forward to during the darkest of days. With Voldemort's defeat today, they could finally start thinking about a future together.
Ron squeezed her hand, his fingers entwining with hers. She lifted her head, looking up at him with love in her eyes, her lips curving into the closest thing he'd seen to a smile since the War had escalated these last few weeks. He raised their clasped hands, brushing his lips against the back of her hand before whispering, "Happy Christmas, Hermione."