Pairing: Harry x Hermione
Completed: 12/22/06 (2:18PM)
Posted: 12/25/06 (1:43PM)
Title: White Christmas
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter related-ness belongs to JK and the song belongs to…I dunno, Bing Crosby?
A/N: Fluff. Yay for Christmas fluff.
The front door slammed shut and Hermione jumped to catch the various knick knacks that were nearly dislodged from their shelves. You couldn't shut a single door in the cottage without feeling the entire foundation tremble beneath you. One of the more magical knick knacks chittered and nibbled at her thumb before it was returned to its place above the desk.
Hastily tidying up the desk, she wiped her ink-stained fingers on the hem of her apron and sped down the steep wooden stairs of the attic, nearly tripping over the last rung. She hurried into the kitchen and found Harry still standing in the entryway, a sack of groceries in one arm and a bundle of kindling in the other.
"You're back!" Hermione welcomed, taking the groceries from him.
"It's horrific out there!" exclaimed Harry. His cheeks were flushed and red beneath his glasses and his wild hair had been blown into even greater disarray by the wind. "Absolutely freezing."
Hermione's face was incredulous. "You walked all the way to the village in only your jumper?!"
"It seemed a lot closer when the sun was out," he defended, depositing the pile of wood next to the door. "And it's not like there's even snow to make up for it. It's just cold."
Hermione smiled to herself, one arm fishing around in the paper sack. "There's still hope for a white Christmas."
"Never," Harry said miserably. "Just slush. For ever and ever. Mountains of it."
The pair had become well acquainted with the abundance of slush that tended to muck up the streets of London in the winter during their short stay there after graduation. In the cold and crowded districts, any snow that managed to make it through the jam-packed skyline was inevitably turned to sleet and rain. The half-melted mush pilled up in gutters and against storefronts, great piles of it appearing underfoot where you least expected it to be.
When they'd moved to the cottage outside of Godric's Hollow just last spring, Hermione had hoped for the cozy snow-covered Christmases of her childhood. Luck, however, seemed to be against her. Even with acres of open field and hill for it to land upon, the snow still insisted on degrading into terribly unappealing slush.
Harry's trousers were soaked up to the knee from wading through it and, paired with his sour expression, he presented a very downtrodden sight. Too be honest, Hermione didn't look exactly collected herself, as Harry readily reminded her when he exclaimed "What the devil have you been doing while I've been gone?"
Hermione shrugged hopelessly, not even bothering to look down at herself. She simply was not cut out for being the domestic housewife; though, out of some inane desire to overcome her matronly handicap, she continued to try. She'd whipped up a batch of cookies just after Harry had left for the village – a feat that was readily accomplished, as she'd always had an eye for potions work. It was simply a bit messier and the humidity of the oven made her hair frizz even more.
What annoyed Hermione about baking, was that, unlike potions, even if you set the timer for the exact number of minutes given, you weren't guaranteed perfect cookies. Such inconsistency was entirely unacceptable, and no matter how hard she tried or how vigilantly she watched, her cookies always came out underdone or well done. More often than not, Harry persuaded her to just leave the batter be and they ate dough instead of cookies.
This time, after several unsuccessful trays, she'd reasoned that a watched cookie never bakes and brought the small timer up to the attic, where she'd resumed the ever daunting task of penning out Christmas cards to their friends and, in her case, families. When she smelled smoke ten minutes later, she discovered that an unwatched oven tends to start on fire. She'd put it out of course and cleaned up the resulting mess, and had only just resumed her letter-writing when Harry had returned.
She'd worn the apron to shield against the inevitable spray of flour, but it hadn't protected her much, her lumpy gray sweater covered in a fine misting of white. The only thing it had really served as was a rag for her inky hands. Consequently, the poor apron now sported several becoming streaks of green and black ink along the hemline. Her leggings had white fingerprints on the front from when she'd scratched her knee, and the sides were still a little damp where she'd wiped her freshly washed hands, forgetting that was one of the apron's functions. All in all, she probably looked a sight worse than him – a sight made all the more ridiculous by the fact that she was wearing Harry's thick woolen socks to insulate her feet from the freezing wood floor; not that he'd notice.
"And why are you wearing my socks?"
Hermione toes curled involuntarily and she made a face. "Firstly, it was you who left me unsupervised in a ridiculously flammable house, and secondly – are you aware of how absolutely freezing cold it is?"
Harry grinned. "Absolutely," he affirmed, and snaked a hand mischievously around her waist.
Hermione yelped as he pulled her close and planted a big wet kiss on her cheek. She laughed and the pair stumbled around the small kitchen in each other's embrace, scattering flour and slush across the wood. Harry kissed her laughing lips, and she pushed him away good-naturedly.
"You're making a mess of our kitchen," she chastised, but without malice.
"Then let us leave the kitchen!" suggested Harry, grinning madly. He scooped her up into his arms and amidst much giggling and semi-painful attempts to maneuver through the small doorway leading into the living room, Hermione was dropped rather gracelessly onto the couch.
Harry tried to climb up after her, face buried in the curve of her neck, peppering her skin with kisses, but Hermione, laughing hard enough now to come up short on breath, pushed and kicked 'til he was forced to unlatch himself or suffer a broken limb. Hermione leaned over the couch, holding her bushy hair out of her eyes, and laughed at him sprawled out on the floor where her attacks had pushed him.
"No wet trousers on the couch," she wheezed out, by way of explanation.
Quick to recover, Harry's hands went immediately to his fly, hastening to undo the fastenings with an impish grin. Hermione roared with laughter, a well-aimed throw pillow hitting Harry squarely in the face.
"Go and change," she ordered. She pointed her finger authoritatively in the direction of the bedroom, going so far as to shake it when he didn't make to leave right away. When he finally did get to his feet, she called out after him; "And bring down the Christmas cards too!"
As soon as he left – grumbling the whole way – Hermione jumped off the couch and bustled back into the kitchen, untying her apron as she went. She crumpled up the stained cloth and threw it carelessly onto the counter, then resumed her earlier rummaging. From the bottom of the grocery sack, she pulled a bag of chocolates and her eyes lit up euphorically. Tucking the candy under her arm, she procured a bottle of wine from the pantry cellar and, along with two thin-stemmed wine glasses, returned to the living room.
She lit the large fireplace with a flick of her wand, and the piled logs immediately blazed up like they'd been burning for hours. Rolling a chocolate around in her mouth, Hermione curled back up on the couch to wait for Harry's return.
He didn't take long; returning before she'd finished her second chocolate. He'd changed into an old pair of khakis and slipped on some woolen socks of his own, and when he walked into the room, it was with a bundle of half-finished Christmas cards in his hands.
Harry stopped just inside the doorway when he noticed the blazing fire. The questioning look he gave Hermione was paired with a growing grin. "Why...hello."
"I started a fire," Hermione smirked.
Harry waved his bundle a little. "I brought the cards."
Hermione looked positively devilish raising the dewy bottle of wine over the edge of the couch. "I've got wine..."
Waggling his eyebrows in response to her tone, Harry vaulted the couch and slid down next to her, readily depositing the stack of cards onto the coffeetable. Hermione indulged his enthusiasm with a lingering kiss, before nudging him onto more pressing matters.
"The cards," she murmured, snuggling up against him – as much as for her distraction as for his.
Harry teased her knotted curls with his fingers and made a big show of smacking his lips. "I see you found the chocolates I bought you."
Hermione smiled into his shoulder. "Perhaps," she answered noncommittally.
"I was saving those for tomorrow."
One thing Harry could say about Hermione with some pride, was that marriage had brought out a sensuality in her that neither of them had known existed. She was positively mischievous at times; not that she'd ever admit it. No, our dear Hermione Granger was nothing but collected and level-headed at all times.
Except that when they were alone, Hermione had a special little smile that was only for him; one that promised him her love forever. Sure, he had a tendency to over-romanticize things, but he knew without a doubt what her secret smile meant, even if she didn't. It was the same look she was giving him now.
He kissed her, drinking up the lingering hint of chocolate that permeated Hermione's own unique taste; something like clouds and red wine. Her surprise melted into pleasure and he swallowed every sigh, every moan. He lowered her down, her back sinking into the plush cushions and her hair splayed around her head like a coffee-stained halo. And when they parted for air, his hands were in her hair, on her face – keeping the connection between them alive.
Her small lips were swollen and parted for breath; the orange glow from the fireplace bronzed her skin and sparked her chocolate eyes. Harry twined her curls between his fingers and lifted the strands to the light, her eyes watching him silently. Like a match being struck, the glow sparked a shower of glitter across her hair, each hue of color shining out like a Christmas tree. He kissed the tangled curls reverently and Hermione smiled; a slow, poignant smile.
She reached up and tucked back his wild hair, caressing the spot just behind his ear before her hand slid to cradle his jaw. No words were needed – words hadn't brought them to where they were now; not in a hundred years would Harry Potter and Hermione Granger have sat down together – in the Gryffindr common room, in the kitchens – and discussed what this feeling was between them. A look, a simple gesture – those were the things that had brought them together (in addition to some unnecessary help from their friends).
But really, they'd always been together, hadn't they?
"Enough with the mushy stuff," Hermione declared, a sharp pinch of his cheek startling him out of his thoughts. He looked down at her in surprise; Hermione grinned back. "You can't distract me that easily."
"Wha?" He babbled, rather eloquently as Hermione sat up, forcing him backwards.
"Cards first," she said. "Mush after."
To punctuate her point she dropped half the Christmas cards into his lap and handed him a quill. Harry pouted and grudgingly flipped open the first card – the name scrawled inside one he didn't even recognize.
"You like the mush," he muttered under his breath, smiling when Hermione elbowed him sharply in the side.
Who cared if it snowed or not, or if it was ridiculously cold out? Harry had everything he needed for Christmas right here.
He had her.