After Minerva had composed herself, she gave a gift to her husband, who opened it impatiently. After a few seconds, he held up some purple pyjamas with small phoenixes on them and a new blue robe with little stars and moons. 'Exactly the sort he would love to wear,' thought Hermione
"Minerva, my sweetheart, these are lovely, and I am sure I will look splendid! You always know what makes me happy. Thank you my love." He reached over and kissed his wife gently on the nose.
"Now ladies, I think it is my turn to give presents." He took two small packages from under the tree and handed them to Hermione and his wife, who started to unwrap them. Minerva was the first to recover from what she saw, while young Hermione still started in bewilderment at the necklace with the beautiful phoenix pendant. She took a look at her mentor's present and it turned out to be the same, only the stone in Minerva's phoenix that marked the eye was green and hers was red.
"Albus, this is gorgeous! It is magical isn't it?" Minerva had no idea what kind of magic, but it felt very strong.
"Yes it is magical. This jewellery runs back in my family farther than six hundred years," he said as he showed them a matching ring that he put on his finger. "Every new family gets them as soon as the first child comes into the family. As we don't have children on our own, I figured this would be the right time to give it to you. I hope you don't mind, Hermione."
"Of course I don't mind. I feel so very honored. Thank you so much for giving it to me! May I ask what it does?"
"It inhabits the most powerful protection charm you can imagine and every piece carries the feelings of the other pieces. It is most important that both of you wear them at all times. Don't worry, only the three of us can see them. No other person."
"What does 'every piece carries the feelings of the other pieces' mean Albus?"
"Put the necklace on and I will show you. You too Hermione." He helped them to close the clasp and waited until he had their full attention, then kissed the top of his ring.
Minerva's eyes widened in surprise when she felt a little warm impulse coming from her pendant. Hermione stared at the old man when a little "oh" escaped her mouth. Neither of the women had ever heard of a charm like that before.
"It means we will know what the other person feels."
"Whatever it is? How do we know which feeling comes from which person?" Hermione questioned.
At that moment Hermione reminded Minerva very much of their first meeting when the older witch visited Hermione and her parents to tell them about Hogwarts.
Albus smiled, amused. "Yes, we will know what the other person feels. I am afraid I don't know what we will feel in detail, but I know we will feel strong emotions like happiness, sadness, anger and fear. I suspect after a while of practice we will be able to sense more subtle feelings as well, but I am not sure. It is phoenix charm after all. It will surprise us. We'll learn in time. As for the different persons, Minerva, could you please kiss your phoenix?"
Minerva did as she was told and saw her student's eyes widen. "What happened, Hermione?"
Instead of answering the young woman placed a small kiss on her pendant and Minerva understood. "It is a different impulse. Albus, I don't know what to say. This is amazing." Then she turned to the young woman sitting beside her and took her hand in hers. "I understand that this is very private, Hermione. Albus and I will have a huge insight into your feelings as you will have the same insight into our feelings. Are you sure you are ready for that?"
The young witch looked thoughtfully for a moment and then gazed into the older woman's eyes. "I am ready for it. This Christmas changed a lot and I don't think I can go back to just being your student. I know I have to act as such when we are back at Hogwarts, but I think this is a wonderful opportunity to be close to you two, even when I can't be as close as I want to. Are you ready for it?"
"I think I am, Hermione. I know I can't go back to just being your professor." It seemed Minerva was partly surprised by her own answer. She never formed bonds like this with a student, but seemingly Hermione Granger was no longer only a student. She was part of the family now.
And Hermione had been right. This Christmas had changed many things in her life, even though nobody else noticed. From now on she spent her holidays with Albus and Minerva in their house. In her free time during school she was usually found reading a book in Minerva's private quarters while the older woman corrected poorly written essays or played chess with Albus. She was there for Minerva when she felt the older witch had a bad day and she was there for Albus when she felt his sadness, often after she felt Minerva's anger before. And every night she felt two little warm impulses over her heart where her phoenix pendant rested, knowing she was loved.
I finally made it!! It's about time for a Christmas story, now that it is July… Thank you to all of you who reviewed the story and supported me! And as usual a very special thanks to my beta. I love you, girly!!