A/N: This is a collaboration between myself and Gilly. Special thanks to our good friend pili204 for her encouragement and wonderful pre-beta work, her valuable suggestions helped so much. To our wonderful beta rubraaura, for her amazing beta work; she helped so much in making this story better.
Winter 2008- Christmas Eve in Ron and Hermione´s house:
The day began cold and rainy, with thick raindrops beating against the window panes of the family sized house located high on one of the hills outside Ottery St. Catchpole. A wave of smoke spiraled out of one of the house's chimneys into the stormy skies above. The house had an ample veranda on the first floor with flower filled vases lining its walls - their colors, surprisingly vibrant for this time of year, seemingly melting into one another.
The property had a large backyard dominated by six strange objects. Anyone non-magical looking at the house would think they were six large dead trees, but they were in fact Quidditch poles. Other than that it was a normal garden with young trees and shrubs, a small seesaw, a child's swing, some very new garden furniture, and three banks which completed the new magical residence of Ron, Hermione, and Matthew Weasley.
Earlier that afternoon, a small scruffy bird could be seen flying around erratically, it was of course Pig, who had finally found the way back to his new home. He had started to beat against the living room window trying to deliver a message for the new owners. Hermione came to the window, pulling down the sleeves of her orange woolen sweater to cover her arms from the cold wind that would follow the owl into the house.
She took her wand from the back pocket of her blue jeans, a habit that although she knew was wrong she couldn't break, to stop the charm that kept the window closed so little Matthew couldn't open it himself. As Pig flew in, Hermione shivered from the blast of cold air, a blast that also made some locks of her bushy chestnut hair fly free of the rubber band that held it back.
"Oh, Pig, I'm sorry. If I knew that the weather was going to be so bad, I wouldn't have asked you to deliver a letter to The BurrowIt wasn't urgent at all, and I think Ron and I can already guess the answer."
The owl landed on Hermione hand, shaking its feathers to get rid of the water from the rain.
Hermione untied the letter from Pig´s leg. It was the answer given by Mrs. Weasley concerning the possibility of Bill, Charlie, their wives and children spending Christmas day with them in their new home. This would be the first Christmas Ron, Hermione, and Matthew would spend in the new house which they had lovingly decided to call 'The Den'. They had decided to buy a bigger house with a backyard so Matthew could play more comfortably and so Hermione could have her own library. Ron also thought that a backyard was perfect to one day teach Matthew to play Quidditch. They had moved in at the end of the summer, and at last, Hermione felt they were ready to entertain the family.
Mrs. Weasley had been very happy with their choice of a home because they now lived closer to The Burrow than when they had lived in a small flat in Hogsmeade.
As she read, however, disappointment filled her heart. Bill would be spending Christmas day with Fleur´s family in France. It was the first opportunity for the DeLacours to meet their newest member, a four-month old baby girl named Laurie. Charlie was also unable to come due his work in Romania, because of the nature of his work he could not leave his dragons at the moment. The Grangers too were not going to be there this year, they had moved to Switzerland some years ago. The only thing that lifted the disappointment was the promise that next year they would all love to share Christmas with them.
Seeing his wife's troubled expression, Ron, who was sitting in his 'strategy chair' next to the elaborate chess table he insisted on having, pulled Hermione onto his lap. Hermione sighed and snuggled into Ron, putting her arms around his waist.
"Sorry, love," he said, trying to alleviate her disappointment.
Hermione responded by snuggling even closer to husband and sighing again.
"Everyone else is coming though; we'll still have a full house."
As the wind howled outside, the family remained comfortable in their snug living room. Pig flew happily around Matthew, fluttering and twittering more like a robin than a nocturnal owl. Matthew was trying to play with Crookshanks. The old cat, however, was reaching the end of his tolerance for the young Weasley's game.
The warm friendly flames in fireplace licked the walls of the hearth, dancing and swirling around, throwing colored reflections into the Christmas baubles on the tree and onto picture frames Hermione had placed around the fireside, giving the illusion that the pictures and reflections were dancing in time to the hypnotic crackle of the fire.
The majority of the pictures were of Matthew, their only child. The rest were of cherished memories, moments in Hermione and Ron's life together, happy times, important times. The first one was taken after they started to date, another one of their wedding day, Harry's wedding day, and of course one on the day they received their 'Order of Merlin' awards for services to the Wizarding world, a proud moment for all of them.
Ron started to free his wife's hair from the rubber band that tied it together. He ran his fingers through her silky locks, pushing it to one side so he could kiss the nape of her neck, a spot that always evoked a response. As if by magic, the touch of his lips relaxed her body, sending a warm shiver down Hermione's spine, as it did every time Ron softly kissed her neck like that. In return, she played with the buttons of his white shirt pushing a finger or two under the soft white cotton, and raking a fingernail gently across his skin.
"We have work to do, Ron. I have to make the desserts for tomorrow, and we still have dinner guests, remember?" she whispered.
Ron stopped kissing her and grinned. "I know, love. I can help you later in the kitchen, if you want."
"Mmm-hmm," she breathed against his shoulder.
"I know you are a bit upset because you would like to have everyone together, so you need to be spoiled by me. Just a few more kisses-"
"Oh, 'Shanks, come here!"
But Ron didn't finish his sentence because a repetitive sound that seemed like a kind of whistle breached in the air.
Hermione and Ron stood up quickly and looked instinctively for their son.
"Matthew, you can't tie things to Crookshanks´s tail, sweetie! Merlin, how did he tie a Snitch in that Christmas ribbon? Ron!!" she said warningly. "You are terrible, really!" she said, looking at her laughing husband shaking her head, her hands firmly on her hips.
She tried to give Ron an angry look but couldn't. It was too funny to watch Crookshanks running scared from the noise the two Snitches tied to his tail were making. Pig, too, was flying around Christmas tree very agitated from the noise.
Ron shrugged his shoulders innocently, pretending to be oblivious to what was happening, but at the same time he winked at his three-year-old son Matthew, who was looking at his mother with puppy eyes
Hermione was always tempted to kiss the cheeks of her son when he looked at her like that, but he also needed to have some discipline. He was so adorable and so like Ron. But he would turn out spoiled if she and Ron would let him do everything he wanted.
Ron was now trying to catch Crookshanks who had started running in circles around the Christmas tree, which was beautifully decorated in Gryffindor colors, while trying to remove the ribbon off his tail. When the cat was free from the ribbon, he ran to hide under the coffee table.
Ron got closer to his wife, taking the golden snitch off of the ribbon with his wand.
"Christmas is also a magical time, and I was just showing Matt what we can do with a bit of magic for the Christmas tree. And since he loves everything about Quidditch and his favorite ball is the Snitch, I made one for him. Besides, you know how he loves to tease Crookshanks; I'm always trying to stop him because it's dangerous. Right, Matt?"
Ron ruffled Matthew's hair. The little boy was feeling ashamed because he had been caught misbehaving. He was looking down at the floor hiding from his parent's gaze, and nervously rolling the hem of his green sweater between his little fingers. A little Christmas bell was hanging out of the left pocket of his dark blue cotton pants.
Hermione got closer to her little son and kissed his cheek. Smoothing down his hair, she said, "Sweetie, you can hurt 'Shanks if you keep tying things to his tail, and he can be very angry with you because of that. Promise me you won't tie anything to his tail again."
Matthew looked at his dad for some support. Ron nodded to him, trying to keep a serious face, while he put back his wand inside his black jeans pocket. That promise would be difficult for Matthew to keep. He had Ron's blue eyes and red hair, Hermione's smile and cleverness, but he had a temper very like his uncles Fred and George. Mrs. Weasley had said to Hermione many times how the twins had acted out, so like Matthew was doing at this age.
"Pwomise, mummy. Sowy. I like the wibbon with the Snitch. Mummy, let the snitch stay, pease?"
Hermione smiled softly and hugged her son. He put his arms around his mother's neck, and kissed her cheek. Who could resist a little Ron Weasley?
Just like his daddy. Ron is twenty-eight and still so much a big kid. Who else in this house would tie Snitches to a Christmas ribbon just to see his son have fun? Just my Ron. He is crazy about his son, and that is so sweet to see every day of my life.
"Okay, the Snitch stays, but on the Christmas tree."
"Ya, love you, Mummy!"
Hermione watched Matthew move away from her and get closer to Ron. He had that mischievous look he usually had when he got a big idea. Oh no, what's he thinking of now?
"Daddy, do you think Pig likes the Cwismas twee?"
Ron went down to his knees so he could be at the same level as his son. Arching an eyebrow, he said, "Yeah, I think he likes it. "
Matthew smiled and taking his dad's hand he asked, "Can we make a little twee house for Pig… in the Cwrismas twee?"
Ron stared at Hermione and they both burst out laughing.
"We will see that later, Matt. Now finish putting away those little Christmas balls in this box as they don't fit in tree, while Daddy helps Mummy put the others boxes away before we get dinner, okay?"
Matthew sat on floor and nodded at Ron. Before starting his task, he softly caressed Crookshank's head.
"Sorry, 'Shanks. I promise I won't hurt you again."
The old cat looked at Matthew, and once again laid his head on his front paws. He was too used to dealing with male Weasleys' to really be angry at any of them.
"Ron stop moving, unless you want to make it yourself."
"You are tickling me, woman!"
"Ron, how can I dress you in a sweater without pushing it to your waist? By the way, you asked that I dress you in it, remember?"
"This is the first sweater you've knitted for me so you have to dress me, and undress me later too," he said, pulling her close to him.
"Ron… Matt is here," she scolded.
"I know, love. The sweater is great, and I am glad you picked blue… No more maroon."
"Your mother is a very good knitting teacher, but she only had maroon at The Burrow, so I went to the shop and saw this… It reminded me of your eyes."
Ron grinned and kissed her lightly on the nose "And it reminds me how you always make wonderful things for me and Matt. I really like this sweater, love. It's great. You are the best knitter I know, just as you are in everything you do. If anything needs dedication and hard work, you excel at it."
Happiness spread through Hermione's body; it felt very good having Ron praise her. Even though she knew that he thought his mother was a better knitter, it didn't matter.
"But not elf hats," she chuckled, reminding him that not all her ventures were successful. A rush of fun at thinking how Ron would comment on one of their infamous rows during their time at Hogwarts filled her.
Ron snorted. "Yeah, I'm glad you can finally admit that, because the last time you were so angry with me for saying so. But they really did look like bladders-"
Hermione rolled her eyes and couldn't avoid twitching her lips to restrain a smile with his honesty. She touched Ron's sweater neckband to gave it a final touch up. Suddenly, he looked at her with a smirk, changing the subject. "This sweater doesn't count as my Christmas present; you gave it to me unwrapped. And you said my present would be something I would love and it would be a surprise. I have seen you knitting this sweater for weeks, so I know you have something else planned for my Christmas present, don't you?"
Hermione only smiled, and continued with her adjustments to his sweater.
The next morning, Ron, Hermione, and Matthew were enjoying their time opening presents.
Ron sat with sleepy eyes while Hermione snuggled in next to him, both wearing their pajamas, and watching a very excited Matthew on floor opening his Christmas gifts enthusiastically. He ripped off the colored wrapping paper of each of the gifts, throwing it all over the floor. Hermione cringed inwardly as each gift opened had a Quidditch theme. As much as she knew that Quidditch would be in his Weasley blood, she had hoped that it would be a few years before she lost her son to the rings in the garden. Scanning the gifts she was hard pressed to see anything educational, although she knew that Ron would disagree, saying that Quidditch was very educational.
The twins had given Matthew a miniature broom, a gift that made Ron very happy and Hermione a little worried. Harry and Ginny has bought Matthew a set of children's Quidditch balls all charmed to move a little slower than the real thing. Charlie had sent two gifts; a dragon teddy and yet another broom. Finally she saw a gift that had nothing to do with Quidditch, but very much to do with being a Weasley… A blue knitted jumper with a maroon M in the middle from Molly. The toys and gifts pilled up as the young Weasley continued to rip the paper and discover more surprises; a colorful plant from Uncle Neville, a magical book from Bill and Fleur: Quidditch through the Ages - Read Along With Ludo, and a fluffy Bludger from Lavender and Seamus.
"Any gifts left for me to open?" Ron asked, hoping for a clue as to what his present was.
"Ron, if you are going to ask me again what your Christmas gift is, I won't tell you at all. Let me remind you that I told you I can't give you any clues, but you will love it. I promise, love."
Ron snuggled close to Hermione putting his arms around her waist, and whispering, "No, I gave up trying to know that because you will tell me, and will give it to me right now!"
Hermione stared at the intense blue eyes of her husband when he raised his head from her chest.
When he looks at me like that, I can't hide anything from him. Be brave like a Gryffindor for a little longer, just a few hours left, resist for now…
She put her arms around in his neck and said, "And who said I'm giving you the gift right now?"
Ron looked half disappointed, but he didn't lose his grin. "Don't you dare not give me my Christmas gift today!"
Hermione kissed him, her lips lingering on his a little longer than necessary, lifting her hand to softly smooth his fringe, a spot she always loved to touched every time she could.
"Course I wouldn't dare. It's just that I will give it to you when we are alone. Later, after your family leaves, after our Christmas dinner."
Ron arched an eyebrow and asked, "Why can't they see it?"
How do I make him drop the subject? Why is it so difficult keep a secret from a Weasley?
"Don't worry, they can see it. I just want to give it to you alone. You should have patience; patience is a virtue, my love. By the way, where is that special present for Matthew you bought last week and hid from me?"
Ron dropped his arms from her slowly. "It's the orange package in front of the Christmas tree." There was a nervous hint of excitement in his voice.
Hermione went to the place Ron had pointed at. Is it me or he is very anxious?
Ron sat once more on the floor to help his son open more of his presents but she couldn't help feeling watched by him.
When Hermione opened the bag and saw what was inside a sudden surge of emotion swept over her, she was sure she would cry tears of happiness. Ron had bought a complete Chudley Cannons Quidditch kit for Matthew. She looked at the little clothes feeling a rush of pride for her husband.
Oh this is so cute! Matthew will love it. And when I give Ron my gift… He will feel as happy as I'm feeling right at this moment.
Ron stood, looked intensely at Hermione, and asked, "Er…. Do you like it? Do you think it will fit him? The store has other sizes."
Hermione was beaming, and wearing the little gloves on her thumbs. "Oh Ron, it is lovely. He'll love it! "
She leaned forward and captured Ron lips briefly, but long enough for him to know and feel that it was a perfect gift. Ron kissed her back and then chuckled.
"Wow, Hermione, if you want, I can buy one for you--I think you would be so sexy wearing the shirt…."
Hermione pushed her fists against his chest playfully. "Yeah, I bet I would. Just wearing the shirt and let me guess… nothing else?"
Ron had a mischievous look. "Mione, we aren't alone now, don't tease."
Hermione winked at Ron, turning to dress Matthew in his new Quidditch gear. Matthew looked happily at the gloves he was wearing and ran to his daddy, jumping into his arms.
"Ya! Love it, Daddy. Want to play? Where is your broom?"
Ron and Hermione looked at each other with a meaningful look; there was so much enthusiasm in their little boy. It was a joy to watch him.
Hermione looked at Ron in bewilderment at the Apparation sounds that were heard outside. It was much too early for it to be Ginny and Harry, but to their surprise it was them, and everyone else. The families were ready for the Weasley Christmas dinner.
Hermione rushed to the already prepared kitchen and busied herself with the turkey. She didn't want to look unorganized and their premature arrival was not something she had planned for.
Being Hermione, everything had been pre-planned. There was a set time for the vegetables, a time for the gravy, a time for the warming of the plates. The timing was crucial and all in place, but the early appearance of the family put to rest those plans and Hermione was now flustered. Ron entered the kitchen where Hermione stood starting to prepare Mrs. Weasley´s roast turkey recipe for lunch.
"Love, can you greet them, please? I'll be out in a few minutes, just finishing some things here."
As Ron left the kitchen, the house began to fill with the wonderful mix of aromas that filtered through the door. The air was filled with the warm and sweet smell of cinnamon, chocolate and the spices of the roast turkey recipe of Mrs.Weasley's that Hermione was using for dinner.
"Are you ready for when I open that door and all the chaos that'll come in?"
Hermione stopped cutting the potatoes and took away a Chocolate Frog that Matthew was taking from the kitchen table stealthily. "I'm always ready to have a lovely time with your family. I love the noise and the sweet confusion of seeing them all them together. I'm glad this year we can have everyone over, in our new bigger home."
Matthew didn't seem upset at having taken away his favourite sweet and quickly moved away from his mum to get closer to his dad. "Daddy, maybe Lily and Jane are coming! Come on!"
Ron took his son in his arms "I'm so pleased we are having the Christmas lunch here, love. And I can't wait to try that delicious turkey."
Hermione looked a bit surprised. "Ron I made this recipe last week…a trial run…for the cooking times. You already know how good it is, you said you loved it."
Ron chuckled "Yeah, I'm married to a woman who has to research even cooking times. How can I not love food that's made with so much dedication and perfection?"
Hermione pushed Ron playfully out the kitchen. "The door, Ron."
Ginny Potter was the first person walk into the house, after Ron opened the door, with an armload of presents.
She kissed her brother on the cheek and passed a lot of bags to his arms. "Where is my lovely nephew? Is Hermione in the kitchen?"
Matthew ran to his aunt and threw his arms around her legs enthusiastically.
Harry looked at Ron and laughed, moving out of the way for more entering family members. "Hey, mate, how are you? Need an extra couple of hands with those?"
Ron didn't have time to answer Harry's question because he saw himself surrounded by two little girls who hugged and kissed him. The bags dropped to the floor as he scooped the two of them up into his arms.
"Hello, Jane, Lily! Ouch, my neck," Ron said to his nieces.
"Hello everyone," Hermione said serenely, trying her best to look unfazed by their early arrival. "Oh Molly, I made lots of sweets, you didn't need to bring more. Thank you."
Mrs. Weasley gave the sweets box to her. "I know, I know, but they are Matthew's favorite chocolate cakes, I couldn't resist seeing him eat a piece."
Mr. Weasley entered The Den with Fred, his wife Angelina, George, and Alicia behind him.
"Hey Ron, what is that thing on the grass in backyard?" Mr. Weasley asked casually, but obviously excited about seeing a Muggle tool.
Hermione exchanged a look with Ron, trying not to chuckle.
I knew Arthur would be fascinated with our lawnmower. Ron will have a lot of questions to answer about that.
Ron took his dad over to the large window and explained what it was.
With Ron engaged in conversation, Fred got closer to Hermione, whispering and smirking. "I've been wondering, Hermione, since our last visit, why d'you buy a place with two floors and so many bedrooms? Wouldn't be because you and Ronniekins want to beat the Weasley record of eight kids?"
Hermione rolled her eyes and said, "You're so observant Fred. I'm glad you think our home is a nice size. Maybe I should comment on how you and Angelina should think of buying one just like it for your record."
Fred's smirk disappeared, but his wife was laughing. "Hermione, I love it when you leave my husband speechless, really. Yeah, maybe we should move too. But for now two rooms are enough." she said, rubbing her belly.
Hermione noticed that Angelina's tummy was getting bigger each week, and wondered if there were possibly two in there and not the one they have told the family about. Hermione smiled at her sister-in-law and said, "Oh I had to learn my way. When Ron and I started dating, Fred and George always loved to make the most interesting comments about our relationship."
The two women made their way to the kitchen, joined soon by Alicia, who smiled at them. She was the quietest of the new Weasley women and Hermione found it an endearing quality. George had mellowed much more than Fred and it sure had a lot to do with Alicia. On joining them she turned and took a large box from her bag. "I didn't know if I should bring anything so I made an apple pie. I hope Matt likes it as much as Ginny's girls do, they're crazy for it."
Hermione took the box from Alicia. "Thanks, you are very kind. Look, why don't you all make yourselves comfortable in the living room while I finish preparing lunch?"
Mrs. Weasley entered the kitchen with her daughter and shook her head. "No, no we will help you, right Angie, Ginny?"
A little while later Matthew entered the steaming kitchen, and walked directly to his grandmother. "Granny, look at me, I'm wearing your jumper."
Molly hoisted her grandson up to her lap. "Oh, you are so gorgeous, sweetie. The blue suits you so well." She managed to kiss his head, just before he wriggled back down off her knee. He then approached his cousins who were eyeing the apple pie Ginny was cutting to pieces to put on the table. She gently but firmly told them all they had to wait for the pie because it would spoil their appetite for lunch.
"The blue suits you well, too, Hermione," Molly said.
Hermione nodded to her mother-in-law, and moved to sit with her at the kitchen table.
"Thank you, Molly. When you gave me my first Weasley sweater, a blue one, it was one of the best gifts I ever had in my life… Especially because the sweater came during such a hard time in our lives."
The comment hit a nerve with Molly who suddenly glazed over with a sad, thoughtful expression. Hermione immediately regretted mentioning that particular time, but always found it difficult to avoid talking about the war as it such an important time in her and Ron's lives. But the mention of it brought back painful memories for Molly and the rest of the family as they had lost beloved relatives during that last battle against Voldemort, Percy being the most painful of their losses.
Alicia broke the awkward silence asking Hermione quietly, "Does Mrs. Weasley give a Weasley sweater to everyone in the family?"
Angelina and Ginny exchanged funny looks. Alicia hadn't been dating George for very long and obviously hadn't received a Weasley sweater yet.
Mrs. Weasley smiled at Hermione, and then she turned to Alicia. "Yes, Alicia, I do. Every Weasley gets a sweater made by myself, and sometimes I also knit for those whom I suspect will become a real Weasley one day."
The final comment made Hermione blush; she had received one before becoming a real Weasley, as Molly had put it.
Mrs. Weasley continued with the preparation of the cider and carried on with her explanation. "Harry was an exception, of course, he got his first sweater very early on because he was Ron's best friend, and his parents were no longer with us and I always saw him like a son. But I think Hermione can tell you how she finally got her first sweater better than I could. Why don't I finish up cooking the turkey while you tell them the story, Hermione?"
Hermione sighed, "Yes, it's one of my most cherished memories. I have that sweater in my wardrobe, it's well worn and a bit tattered, but I can't stay away from it…"
Winter 1997- Christmas Eve at Hermione's Parents' House
It was a cold and rainy morning but Hermione woke earlier than usual. She would have liked to be able to sleep for longer, but the pain she felt against her ribs and left arm made the time spent in bed a torment.
The relief everybody felt about Voldemort´s death and about having his cronies arrested and locked in Azkaban was an amazing sensation. But the euphoria of the win was tinged with the pain of the many losses. So many people had died, and many others had suffered life-changing injuries.
The Weasley family had suffered, mostly with injures, but especially with one death, Percy. Bill and Ron had injuries forcing them into staying at St. Mungo's for over a week. Harry too had spent as much time as Hermione had in hospital, he had remained unconscious for some time. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley took charge of Harry's recovery once he had been discharged home to The Burrow.
Hermione's loved ones had thankfully survived, virtually unscathed and untouched by the war, but she had suffered some bad injuries during the last battle. She had had to spend a whole month in St. Mungo's and had just returned home at the beginning of December. Ron visited Hermione everyday, both at St Mungo's and at home, doing everything for her that she couldn't do for herself. He had been so attentive, so loving; she couldn't believe how lucky she was to have him.
Hermione was interrupted from her thoughts with a tip-tap on her bedroom window. It was Pig, Ron's owl. Opening the window, Pig flew in and landed on her knee, cooing and chirping happily. Hermione took hold of Pig's leg, and untied a little parchment. She then sat carefully on her bed and started reading it.
Good morning Mione,
How are you feeling today?
I'm going to visit you this afternoon, as always, but this time I'm not coming alone. My mum insists on visiting you today because she wants to talk to your mum about you having lunch here with us tomorrow.
By the way, I'm bringing your present so you can use it tomorrow.
Can't wait to see you and kiss you.
Hermione thoughts drifted to Ron's kisses and she felt herself blush. Her Ron had to be the best kisser of the Wizarding World. She didn't have any doubt about that; he was so sweet and passionate, gentle and loving. She could not have imagined how great it could be to be his girlfriend. His family was always amazing with her. She had even learned to deal with the teasing of his siblings about their relationship.
Coming to her senses, Hermione stood up and went out of the bedroom looking for her mum. She had to tell her that Mrs. Weasley was coming that afternoon along with Ron.
"Mrs. Granger these cookies are delicious. I'll have to have the recipe, the boys will love them."
"Of course, and please, call me Helen."
Hermione and Ron were drinking their tea quietly listening to their respective mothers chat about recipes and Christmas preparations. Ron was slowly moving closer to Hermione, his hand moving stealthily around her hips to her waist. Hermione kept whispering for Ron to stop, but to no avail. Hermione intertwined her fingers with Ron's, and whispered in his ear, "Mum always likes show her artwork to guests. When they go out to the library, you can kiss me."
Ron grinned excitedly at her and squeezed her hand.
"Hermione, I'm so glad you are doing much better these days. I am sure your mum would agree that Ron has a lot to do with this," Molly said smiling. Mrs. Granger nodded, and smiled in agreement. "I know both of you would like to spend some time together this Christmas, so I would like to invite you to have Christmas lunch with us tomorrow."
Hermione looked at her mum, her eyes filled with hope. Mrs. Granger nodded softly. "I think your dad will agree with me that an afternoon out of the house would make you feel better, especially if you're close to Ron."
Hermione blushed, and Ron smiled awkwardly at Mrs. Granger.
Mrs. Weasley opened a bag that she had kept in her lap, and handed Hermione a colorfully wrapped package. "Hermione, this is my Christmas gift to you. I'm giving it to you now so you can wear it tomorrow… if you like."
Hermione took the package feeling a rush of excitement. Is this what I think it is? After all these years?
She opened the package with trembling fingers and gasped. It was a blue sweater, and without a doubt it was knitted by Mrs. Weasley. It had an H in the front and a little owl next to the letter. Hermione was so happy. Ron looked at her and grinned. He seemed as excited as she was.
Hermione stood and hugged Mrs. Weasley. They were both crying and grinning. Watching them was a very confused Mrs. Granger, to whom the meaning of Weasley Jumper was lost.
Mrs. Weasley softly cleaned Hermione´s tears with her thumb and said, "I'm sure you have wondered why hadn't I made one for you, especially as I have made Harry seven of them."
Hermione smiled awkwardly and shook her head. "No, Mrs. Weasley, you don't have to explain anything, really."
Mrs. Weasley looked at Mrs. Granger, exchanging a wise look and turned back to Hermione. "There are two reasons I never gave you a sweater," she started. "One reason was because I do not give them to every girl my boys date. I am sure you realize how many girls have come through our doors, what with six boys, especially Bill and Charlie. I couldn't possibly knit that many jumpers, so I wait. I wait until that special girl comes through our door, and I can see that it's meant to be."
Hermione couldn't help but smile at the compliment. She felt an enormous relief and happiness to know that Mrs. Weasley saw a future for her and Ron.
"The other reason is… I never could see you as a daughter in the way I've always seen Harry as a son. Your parents are alive and healthy, thank Merlin. You have your own family, something Harry never had," she paused, obviously looking for the right words. "Hermione, I have always known… hoped… always seen you as… well… you have been more than my son's best friend, your relationship has always been special. Even when you and he were… oblivious to it, I could see the underlying affection between the two of you. You reminded me so much of Arthur and myself. I had always hoped that it would happen… and it finally has. I only hope my explanation makes sense to you."
Hermione took hold of Mrs. Weasley hands and smiled. "It makes perfect sense. Thank you for everything. And thank you for the lovely gift."
Mrs. Weasley kissed Hermione´s cheek, "You are the gift, to my son, and to everyone who has had the pleasure of meeting you. I'm glad to have you in my family, sweetie."
Ron approached Hermione and put his arm around her shoulders. It was the first time since the last battle that she felt relaxed.
The older women went to the kitchen with the dishes and leftover cookies.
Ron held Hermione softly, kissing her hair. "My mum is the best. She kept this all a secret… about the sweater and stuff… all this time. I'm so glad she gave you one."
Hermione kissed him lightly on his cheek and said, "Your mum is very wise. How does she know so much? How does she know about my love for owls, about us, about everything?"
Ron chuckled. "Maybe she's a Legilimens?"
"Ron!" she gasped in mock horror. "That's your mother you're talking about."
Ron laughed, and started caressing her cheek with his thumb. "So… we are alone now… that kiss you promised?"
Hermione grabbed his hand, smiling. "Outside, they'll be back in soon. My mum has more art in here. That kiss will cost you though," she teased. "The Christmas gift you told me about in your letter?"
Ron blushed. "I forgot it… left it on my bed at home, I'm so sorry."
Hermione smirked. "That's okay, you can kiss me tomorrow, then."
Ron looked panicked. "You wouldn't."
Winter 2008 – The Den's Kitchen
"So did you kiss him or play hard to get?" asked Ginny curiously
Hermione said in matter of fact, "I played hard to get of course, after all, he did forget my gift. But it didn't last long… the hard-to-get thing… because your brother's kisses are something I couldn't resist for too long."
Ginny cringed. Angelina laughed and smiled knowingly, Alicia blushed, then they all laughed. Their laughter was cut short by the beeping of the kitchen timer announcing the turkey was ready.
The women set to work on the table and the food. Alicia caught Hermione's eye and asked shyly. "Hermione, I'm curious about one thing."
Hermione looked inquisitively at her. "Ask whatever you want. Don't be shy with me, we are friends… almost family, I'm sure."
"What did Ron give you that Christmas?"
Hermione raised her right hand up to Alicia's eyes level. A silver, delicate bracelet adorned with a very little round pendant hung from her wrist. "It's my favorite bracelet; I have never stopped wearing it since that day. See, it has an R in one side and an H on the other."
Alicia's eyes widened, "Hermione it's beautiful. You are a very lucky woman."
Hermione winked at her. "We are all lucky. Every woman that has a Weasley man in her life. Come on… let's call in the family, I'm very curious to know what you all think of my turkey."
And I can't wait for tonight, to give my Christmas gift to my very special Weasley man.