Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author.
Many thanks to VIVAvivacious for her help as my beta and all of her input into improving this story.
Christmas was consistent. Every year, everyone in the old Order was expected to turn up at either Grimmauld Place or the Burrow for the annual celebratory Christmas party. It became somewhat of a tradition ever since the fall of the Dark Lord almost seven years before. The house would be decorated and alive with trees, tinsel, baubles and the ever-present mistletoe.
Another tradition, though this one was not so pleasant, was the continued absence of two particular members. Although they had received an invitation to the party every year, neither ever appeared.
Usually a short, polite note stating their work was currently too much to allow a break was accompanied by various presents. Ron was always sorely disappointed Hermione never went to the parties, save for the first year. He supposed it had something to do with Harry's death. She hadn't quite been the same since that happened.
Ron and the rest of her friends weren't actually sure what happened to her after she finished her graduate studies in Italy, but they sure didn't know where she lived. Occasionally they would receive a letter giving very few details, and then there was the odd visit every now and then. Ron knew for a fact she had only seen his two girls, Harriet and Lesley, three times in the last two years.
Staring out the window, Ronald sighed. Snape didn't seem to show up to the Order parties either. He didn't mind so much about that, but he often wondered, exactly what he did, being all alone like that. Surely the Order would be better company than his books? At least they would talk and respond.
'Ronnie love, are you going to come show Remus those notes now? He's been asking after them,' Luna, his sprite of a wife, said from beside him.
Ron turned up to look into pretty green eyes framed by silky-straight blonde hair. He smiled softly at her. She had been there for him after the war when he had been mourning the loss of Harry. He hadn't realized before then what a kind, supportive woman she was and had been glad to know her better. Right then, he loved her more than anything edible in the world – and rest assured, he loved his food.
'I'll be there in just a moment, I just needed some fresh air for a bit,' he answered dutifully, hugging his wife before releasing her and giving her a proprietary pat on the bottom to get her moving back into the other room.
'Are you going to be alright?' she asked warily.
'I'm fine, Luna love,' he replied, giving her a wide smile as she pottered back towards the dining room.
Shaking all thoughts of their missing friends from his head, Ron stood and took a deep, steadying breath. He would just have to try again the next year. Better still, Christmas day was still three days away. He would surely be able to convince Hermione to take a day off work to join them then. Perhaps he would invite Snape also, but he somehow knew that no matter the reason, he would reject it.
Walking back to the rest of the party, Ron groaned in frustration. If only they would just turn up. He really did miss Hermione, and he didn't want to leave anyone out; even the snarky Potions Master was included in that sentiment.
'Ron, your girls are becoming quite the attractive young ladies,' said Remus Lupin as he approached the gentlemen's table.
Ron grinned sheepishly. 'With Luna for a wife, it would be hard to imagine not having children as beautiful as their mother,' he said sweetly, earning himself a kiss on the cheek from his wife as she walked by him on her way to talk with Minerva.
The rest of the party was generally pleasant even without Hermione there to spout tales of what she had accomplished. Ron knew that it saddened Luna also that she wasn't there.
He looked over to the corner where his younger sister sat chatting with Tonks and Septima Vector, looking a little lost and forlorn despite her smile. Ron knew his sister well enough to know whether the smile reached her eyes or not. She too had been affected by the loss of Harry, but at least she didn't shut herself away. Ginny had always been a bright, outspoken girl and teenager. But passionate as she was, when she lost Harry, her eyes lost that spark about them that had always been there until the final battle. Ron understood how she felt, though. If it hadn't been for Luna, he would have sunken even further than the cool, levelheaded Hermione. Ginny, like him, just needed to find a little love.
'That's a lovely wife you have there, Ronald,' Charlie Weasley said with a broad Weasley grin as he walked past his brother on the way to the other side of the room. 'I wish that I could be as lucky.'
'Who knows, maybe Bill will know if Fleur has and older sister or cousin?' Ron suggested jokingly with a smirk.
'Ah, if only there was such a lady,' Charlie replied wistfully before he walked off to join Bill, his wife and Tonks, who had drifted over to that conversation.
Remus watched him move across the room with vague interest before returning his attention back to Ginny and Septima. He watched as Septima drank from her glass of wine, smiling at Ginny over its rim. She took another sip, licking the excess wine from her lower lip in a way that sent his arousal into overdrive. He shifted uncomfortably and sighed. Septima had once been his colleague and had always been quite attractive. Perhaps it was time for him to move on also. She was only a few years younger than him, and he could certainly get used to waking up to her face.
Ron looked back at Ginny. She was laughing about something Septima had said. Remus was sitting with him, staring intently at Septima. As she took a drink from her glass, he noticed Remus stiffen and shift in his seat. He smiled to himself; this was an interesting development.
Ginny happened to look up at that moment and caught Ron's eye. He angled his head at Remus, and from there she followed his line of sight to the woman across from her. He was entranced, or so it seemed. She grinned and winked at Ron before bending her attention to Septima.
'What if I told you that another one of the Order members was interested in getting to know you better?' Ginny asked her companion.
'I would say you were daft," Septima answered. She looked around the room. 'I know most of the Order members quite well already, so there would be no need.'
'Remus has been staring at you for the better part of the evening, Septima. Don't try to deny that's not something,' Ginny whispered through a giggle. 'He's really a nice bloke. I think you two would be right for each other.'
Septima looked over at Ron and Remus, who appeared to be deep in discussion. Remus noticed her looking at them and quickly averted his eyes, staring intently at Ron as he spoke. Septima smiled contemplatively. 'I never really thought about a possible relationship with anyone, to be quite frank, but I wouldn't be opposed if Remus asked,' she said softly.
'I see,' Ginny said, her eyes sparkling.
'But don't go telling him any of this,' the older woman warned.
Ginny just shrugged and flashed a smile at her before nodding at Ron discreetly. She would never get sick of pairing up good matches within her group of friends, and she adored to see just how much people loved one another, even if she did envy it a little herself.
Ron saw Ginny give the okay and immediately began plotting just how he would get Remus to ask Vector out. It might take a little encouragement and perhaps a little bit of whiskey, knowing what a modest and shy person Remus was, but he would have them set up on a date by the end of the night.
"I saw you talking to Septima earlier," Ron said to Remus, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively.
'Wait to play it subtle, Ron,' Remus said, chuckling.
'Hey, it can't hurt a guy to give it a try, can it?' he asked with a sheepish grin. "But in all seriousness, mate, she's been looking at you all night, and I can tell she's interested in more than your friendship."
"I suppose you're right," Remus sighed. "But, I am getting a little old for the whole courting deal," he said, glancing at Septima.
"No one is ever too old," Ron said, looking pointedly at Minerva McGonagall staring coquettishly at Albus Dumbledore. Ron and Remus ended up in a fit of laughter, drawing the attention of everyone in the room.
The Christmas party was generally high-spirited for the rest of the night before the guests began to slowly ebb away back to their own lives. It would be New Years Eve before they had another gathering like this one, and it was only one week until Christmas. Ron left Grimmauld Place with his glowing wife on his arm, and Remus Lupin left the house with the guarantee of a date with Septima Vector the very next evening.
A/N – This story has been newly beta'd and altered from the original. Please leave a review and let me know what you think.