Title: Starting The Healing Process
Pairing: Hermione Granger and Harry Potter
Rating: Gen - G
Prompt: Harry and Hermione's first Christmas after Deathly Hallows.
Word Count: 883
Beta: exartemarte
Warnings: None.
Summary: Harry and Hermione's first Christmas after Deathly Hallows.
A/N: Originally written as a 2010 Christmas gift for katmarajade but I'm a horrible person and absolutely forgot about the ones I had left until she started writing her own for her f-list this year. *huuuuuge facepalm* I will get all of those finished. They will be Christmas gifts as intended... just not for that same year... hahah

Starting The Healing Process

Without looking back, trying to ignore the guilt that had been haunting her since last night when she'd decided what she was going to do, Hermione slipped out of Ron's room. She didn't want to leave Ron alone on this particular morning, but she hoped he wouldn't notice her absence and she would have returned to his arms by the time he woke up. Avoiding the Burrow's creaking steps was the next tricky part of her plan. She took one deep breath and felt the cold December air fill her lungs and tingle in her nostrils, before attempting to walk down the stairs without waking anyone up. When she made it successfully to the living room, she saw a mane of messy, black hair staring at the small fireplace.

"Harry," she whispered, pulling at the ends of the thick old Weasley sweater she'd borrowed from her boyfriend - her boyfriend... after six months her stomach still flipped at the mere thought of acknowledging Ron that way other than in her most private dreams.

He turned and smiled at her, nodding toward the back door in a silent question. Yes, she was ready to go. Pulling on her snow boots and heavy coat, Hermione followed Harry out through the door.

Harry hissed as the icy weather hit him. "It's freezing!"

"What did you expect? It's Christmas!" she answered dismissively, trying to ignore her own skin shivering at the sudden drop in temperature.

Chuckling, he offered her his arm and Apparated them both once she had a firm grip. A second later, Hermione stood in one of the places that figured in her worst nightmares. Memories of the past year were still too fresh to be pushed to the backs of their minds, and while everyone had reason to shed a tear at night before going to sleep, it was up to them to do start the healing process on their own.

"Ready?" Hermione asked, her voice cracking despite her efforts.

"I don't think I'll ever be ready, Hermione," said Harry thoughtfully, his eyes fixed on the entrance of the little cemetery in Godric's Hollow. "But I need to do this," he finished, now looking at her.

She smiled a reassuring smile. "Then we'll do it together."

Holding onto each other tightly, they walked through the snow and searched in silence for Lily and James Potter's graves once again. Although this time it didn't take them as long as last year.

Harry let go of her to kneel in front of the stones and start brushing the snow off them. Hermione shivered and couldn't help but look around them frantically, expecting the fake Bathilda Bagshot to appear any minute now.

"It won't be like the last time. We are safe now," Harry muttered to her in spite of seeming to be immersed in his task.

She took a deep breath. "I know. At least in the back of my mind, I know it. And yet, I still have this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach."

He looked up at her and hesitatingly pointed at his parents' stones. "Would you...?"

"Of course!" Her wand was out in an instant, swirling in soft curls three times and transforming a couple of dead leaves on the ground into a small bunch of red flowers.

They watched the flowers against the engraved names. Hermione joined Harry, kneeling on the snow, noting it wasn't cold at all.

"Bill taught me that spell last week," Harry explained.

"Must be useful for children."

"It is. It let Teddy play for a bit with the snow before Mrs. Tonks freaked out."

"She just wants to protect him..." Her explanation left hanging in the air a whole lot more than had been said. There were so many losses that they had to deal with on a daily basis.

"Yeah. But maybe next year she'll let him play for a bit longer with the new Weasley addition."

Hermione smiled. Her grandmother used to say that God takes as much as he gives and Bill and Fleur's coming baby was a proof of that.

"Ron is scared he'll drop the baby." Hermione confessed the secret revealed to her just the night before.

Harry chuckled. "If Bill doesn't drop him first. I never thought a father would read more baby books than a mother."

"You never know with men. But what makes you think it's going to be a boy?"

"The baby is a Weasley, Hermione," he said matter-of-factly.

"The baby is also part Veela, Harry." As a response, Harry just stuck his tongue out. "Oh, that's mature."

Harry sighed, caressing the flowers softly. "Thank you for coming with me, Hermione."

She smiled at him. "Thank you for letting me join you." She linked their arms again. "We all need to start the healing process at our own pace, but I think it's easier with company. Besides -"

"They don't understand."

"—they don't understand," they said in unison.

Although everybody had suffered during the War, last Christmas had been hell for the two of them and it was difficult dealing with the determination of the Weasleys, who had set their minds to be "extra-jolly" this year and ignore the hole in their hearts left by Fred's death.

"Merry Christmas, Hermione."

"Merry Christmas, Harry."

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