-1A/N: Alright everyone. This is the end of the end. At long last, I have finally written the epilogue !! I really am thankful for all the wonderful reviews I've received from my stories.
I'm especially thankful for the great reviewers who have been with me since the beginning and have yet to stop reviewing. It's really motivating!
So, now, with a fond farewell, I say goodbye to this story and introduce the final segment of "Redheaded Christmas."
Hermione stepped out of the bathroom, towel wrapped tight around her, and clicked off the light before padding quietly down the hall. The wall clock chimed softly, alerting her of the time and letting her know that she had a good hour or so before Caroline and Madeline were sure to wake up, eager to see what Father Christmas had brought this year.
Slowly edging the door to the master bedroom open with her foot, Hermione watched the beam of light fall across the large, king-sized bed. She paused for a moment quietly watching her husband of eight years sleeping soundly under the covers, his red hair contrasting sharply from the navy blue sheets. It was insane just how much she loved this man. Married only two years out of Hogwarts and becoming a mother of twins at only twenty-two, her friends had declared Hermione officially out of her mind. They claimed that she had yet to meet enough men to know who was the best, nor had she experienced enough life to know what love was. They had called her insane. And they were right.
Hermione's final year of Hogwarts brought the biggest wizarding war history had yet to record. Only three days following her first Valentine's day with Ron as a couple, she found herself dumped into the lowest circle of Hell. The two years that followed had the four friends searching the globe for the last remains of the Dark Lord's soul, until, piece by piece, Lord Voldemort was at long last made mortal, and destroyed.
Seven days later Ron and Hermione were married.
The year that came next was Hell's return. Hermione, Ron, Harry, and Ginny all suffered post-war horrors. Nights brought horrific nightmares that left Ron and Hermione clinging to each other for comfort. Harry suffered the most by far. Each day Harry found another wave of popularity crashing over his head, slowly diminishing any chance for Harry to truly ever recover from the mental wounds of the battlefield. After only a week or two of facing press and fans, Harry James Potter disappeared from the public eye, taking refuge in the only safe place he knew of. Godric's Hollow.
For the next three months, Harry stayed within the safety of the charmed walls. He refused point blank to ever exit and allowed communication only through owls. His fireplaces remained closed off and ignored anyone and everyone who came to call at the door. Everyone but one, that is. Thank God for the birth of Ginny Weasley.
For every day that Harry Potter held himself away in his own, synthetic world, Ginny was there at least three times or more. For her, it was like clockwork: wake up, shower and dress, see Harry, come home for food, see Harry, come home fore more food, and right back to Harry. Often arriving past midnight, Ginny constantly found herself at the mercy of her mother, who would rage at her poor daughter for hours about properly taking care of herself. Ginny would shrug it off more often then not, telling Mrs. Weasley in a strained tone that the only way for Ginny herself to keep living was knowing that Harry was still living, still breathing, even if she had to check four times a day.
It was a long process of lengthy letters and oral messages through Ginny, but after the three months of hiding from society, Harry Potter stepped out of Grimwald place and into life once more, Ginny by his side.
Hermione pulled her thoughts back to the present as she focused once more on her lover. Smiling widely, Hermione tiptoed silently to her vanity table and quietly lowered herself to the chair. She then proceeded to reach for her hairbrush, attacking her angry mass of curls that she had yet learned to master. Glancing down at the corner of her mirror, Hermione felt the tiny flutter in her stomach as her eyes landed on her sleeping Ron. She hoped that sensation she received whenever she saw her redhead would never leave.
Brushing a damp curl out of her line of vision, Hermione reached to her side and opened a drawer of her vanity table to return the brush to it's rightful place. As she slowly pushed the drawer back shut, Hermione paused. A small smile tugged at her lips as a memory trickles into place. Glancing swiftly once more at her sleeping husband, Hermione grasped the handle of the drawer once more and pulls it open to it's full length. Reaching to the back past hair ties, large clips, tubes of lipstick and other necessities, she lets her smile grow as her fingertips barely grazed something soft and fuzzy. Wrapping her fingers around the familiar fluff, Hermione pulled her most sacred possession out for the depths of the drawer.
Holding her hand up to the sliver of light that streaked across the room, a small, worn teddy bear came into the light, it's dark blue eyes sparkling brightly. Hermione let out a happy sigh and scratched it softly between it's two tiny ears before pecking the small bear on it's button nose.
Looking over the small bears ears, her eyes were drawn back once more to the mid-night blue duvet and the figure half wrapped in it. Like a magnet, Hermione was pulled to the side of the bed were her husband was still enjoying the brief nightly escape from reality. Like a teenage girl, Hermione pushed the stuffed animal to her mouth and giggled furiously, as if she was back in her sixth year with Ginny once more and both had sneaked up to the boys platform into the dorm and were planning to scare them awake, instead of simply standing next to your life partner, intent on nothing more but to wake him gently, like a loving wife.
In a single motion, Hermione bent forward over her Ron, causing her dripping curls to splay across Ron's exposed chest, and vigorously shook her head from side to side, spraying her sleeping lover in a cold shower of water.
"AHH!" Ron shot up in the bed, bringing a navy pillow with him as protection against the freezing water. Hermione burst into peels of laughter.
"Hermione," Ron groaned, collapsing flat on his back once more and giving her a look that suggested that he was sixteen and pouting instead of an adult, "it's four in the morning." Still giggling, Hermione crawled over him, kneeling next to his side on her own side of the bed.
"Actually," Hermione began, letting her hair curtain her face as she leaned over him, "It's six, love. Good morning to you too." Ron only rolled his eyes at Hermione's antics before reaching up with one hand to finger his wife's curls. Hermione continued to lean until her lips found his, giving him a lingering kiss as a slight apology for the rude wake-up call.
Pulling back, Ron traced his thumb over his wife's profile, bumping over her lips and chin, following smoothly down the columns of her neck. He paused when his fingers met the fuzzy brown bear clutched to Hermione's chest. "What's this?" Ron asked, bringing her hand up to his eye level, "You still have this?" He asked curiously, taking the toy from her hand.
"Yes," Hermione pouted in mock defense. Flopping ungracefully next to Ron, Hermione nestled her head on his shoulder, wrapping her arm around his bare torso. "Why wouldn't I keep it?"
Ron shrugged, "I don't know. I just never thought you to be the pack-rat type, you know, keeping it this long."
Falling into a silence, Hermione let her mind wander. Memories of her final Christmas at Hogwarts flooded her mind. She remembered the nerves that racked her stomach at first seeing Ron outside the Room of Requirements. She smiled at the memory of their first actual mind-blowing kiss, immediately becoming addicted to the high his close presence gave her.
The memory she loved the most, though, was their getaway. Just like the lovesick teenagers they were, Ron and Hermione naively run away from the castle, stopping only once for a brief detour to the kitchens gathering a supply of Christmas treats prepared only too eagerly by Dobby. And then, they were off.
Unable to wipe the smile off her face, Hermione let Ron lead her out to the grounds, laughing as the snow swirled around her. As joy continued to bubble up, Hermione pranced around in the newly fallen white powder, grinning like a Cheshire cat as Ron chased her and shrieking with delight as he picked her up, twirling her in the frosty air before collapsing next to her in the snow. Unable to resist, Hermione rolled on top of him, kissing face, pink from the chilly air, listening in awed silence as he whispered everything and nothing into her untamed hair.
As the cold began to really set in, the shivering couple slowly rose from the ground, soaked through and not caring at all. Sighing to herself as the magic of the moment wore away, Hermione began what was to be a long trek up back to the castle. Caching her by the wrist, Ron spun Hermione back to him for a knee-melting kiss before holding her to his chest. Speaking in a low voice, Ron buried his face in her hair once more, "I have a better idea."
Gathering the momentarily forgotten snacks, Hermione let Ron lead her across the lawn and towards a rather aggravated looking tree. Within moments, Ron had successfully stunned the tree and led the curious Hermione down the tunnel to the Shrieking Shack.
Together, both teens began rearranging the living room to accommodate human life, cleaning up the two inches of dust from every surface and brining a roaring fire to life in fireplace, the entire time keeping within arms length of one another. Curling up close to the fire in order to dry out, Ron and Hermione slowly consumed the sugary food they had scavenged for earlier. Hermione neither thought nor cared about the fact that she had most likely sent Ginny into hysterics by not returning or that her clothes would most likely be horrific the next morning from sleeping in them. Right now, she had Ron. She finally had her Ron. That was all that mattered.
"Do you know why I like this bear so much?" Hermione whispered, breaking the silence that had fallen as she slipped into her memories.
Rolling over so that his upper body thoroughly covered hers, Ron spoke into her hair, interlocking his fingers with hers as he nuzzled her neck, "Why is that?"
"It looks like us," Hermione stated simply. For a moment Ron went quiet.
Pulling back only enough to examine her face, Ron gave her a blank stare, "You lost me, love."
Hermione sighed, "Look," she said, bringing the bear between the two inch gap between her face and Ron's, causing Ron to pull back further, "See?" His eyes are just like yours. And he has brown fur," she emphasized the point by rubbing the small bear against her husband's nose and cheek, "Just like me."
"Hmmm," Ron gave this point some thought as Hermione cleared the bear from his vision, "I suppose your right, as always," he grinned, resuming his motion of placing soft kisses along her neck and shoulder before retracing the path back up to her ear. "So…" he spoke quietly as he peppered kisses along the shell of her ear, "what time is it?"
"I'd say," Hermione tried to focus, finding difficulty as Ron continued his gentle attack, "about 6:30 or so… why?" Hermione breathed out, trying not to laugh as Ron ran his tongue along a particularly sensitive spot just below her ear lobe.
"Just trying to find out how much time we have before the twins wake up," Ron spoke in a low, husky voice, "maybe enough time for-"
"Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" an excited shriek pierced the air.
Ron groaned and buried his face into Hermione's shoulder in defeat, "Can't a bloke catch a break every now and then?" he murmured in annoyance.
Rubbing his back sympathetically, Hermione kissed his red hair and whispered to her dejected husband, "I thing they found the presents, love."
"How is it possible that they're up this early?" Ron muffled his question into the pillow by Hermione's head, "Caroline alone was up past midnight waiting for reindeer."
Unable not to smile at Ron's childish pouting, Hermione began to move out from under Ron's body and rise from the bedspread. A hand shot out and snatched her by the wrist, stopping her ascent. "Get back here!" came Ron's deep voice. Hermione let out a girlish squeal as Ron hauled her back onto the duvet, wrapping both arms around her until waist, thoroughly trapping her.
Letting her laughter settle down with his own, Ron pressed his forehead to his wife's placing a small, chaste kiss to her lips. After a few seconds of perfect silence, Ron whispered, "Happy Christmas, 'Mione."
"Happy Christmas, Ron."