It still didn't come natural to Hermione to hug her former professor and headmistress, but she did it all the same. First a tentative hand on the boney back, and when the older woman didn't flinch away from the touch, she pulled her in and held her for a moment. "Welcome to the family, Minerva. The children picked wisely."
"Mummy!" An impatient shout from the kitchen put a sudden end to their moment and alerted them to the fact that the kids were currently alone. Rose was to be trusted, but Hugo…
"Coming, sweetheart," Hermione replied and smiled at her mentor. "Are you sure you want to put up with that in your free time?"
Hermione witnessed a slow realization take place in her mentor that seemed to surprise the older woman as well. "Yes. Yes, I am quite sure." Minerva smiled happily at her former pupil, then turned to join Hugo and Rose in the kitchen.
"Mummy, can we go to church tonight?" Rose carefully set the glass she had been holding back onto the table and looked expectantly first at her mother, and seeing the look on her face, to Grami.
Hermione had hoped against hope that Rose wouldn't ask that question. She loved the midnight mass as well, but with Hugo still being so young, it was difficult to attend. "I don't know, love. I think it is a little too late for Hugo."
"But you promised last year," Rose reminded her mother, disappointment evident in her voice.
There were very few things Hermione hated, but breaking promises was certainly one of them. Little Hugo didn't help either with his enthusiastic, "I want to go, too!" He clearly hadn't a clue where he wanted to go, but he was pretty sure he didn't want to miss out on something.
Hermione sighed, remembering last Christmas. Rose had wanted to hear the choir, but Hugo was already asleep, so she had promised Rose to go this year. "Darling, I don't even know if a choir sings in the church here tonight."
"I still want to go. I like singing and you promised." There was an adorable pout on her face, and Minerva had a hard time trying not to laugh. It would be hard for her to ever say no to Rose when she looked like that.
Hermione tiredly rubbed her eyes. How could she teach their children to stay true to their words when she couldn't keep promises as simple as going to church on Christmas? "Yes, I did."
"Grami coming, too!" Hugo exclaimed, and Rose nodded enthusiastically. It hadn't even occurred to her that Grami could stay at home.
A tender smile graced the old woman's lips when she answered, "Of course, I'll go with you." She hadn't been to midnight mass for a very long time. It had been since Albus' and her very first Christmas here. Despite the memories she was sure she'd enjoy it. It always had this special atmosphere with all the candles and Christmas carols.
"Yeah!" Hugo threw both arms in the air, celebrating his victory. Hermione smiled amused and shook her head. Hugo was without a doubt Ronald's son.
Rose stared at the remaining potatoes on her plate in defeat. "Mummy, I can't eat anymore."
"Thank you very much, Hermione," Minerva said, and with a content sigh, settled back against the back of her chair. "It was delicious, and I am truly impressed with your cooking skills."
"Yeah, Mum, it was yummy," little Hugo agreed before moving on to more pressing matters. "Can we go play in the snow now?"
Rose nodded enthusiastically. "I want to make a snowman."
Now that was a wish Hermione could grant her children without having to think about it. "Of course you can. Go and put on your coats." She could barely finish her sentence before the kids ran to get their coats. What felt like only seconds later two young heads appeared in the kitchen door.
"Are you coming?" Rose was scandalized that the adults still hadn't moved.
"Of course, darling. Why don't you help Hugo with his jacket and put on your gloves? We will be there momentarily." Rose nodded and ran to the front door to do what Grami had told her, leaving the adults behind. "Go on, Hermione. I will take care of the dishes before I join you."
"I can help you with the…"
"No, no," Minerva interrupted. "You've done so much already, and it only takes a few simple spells." Hearing two pairs of little feet running towards the kitchen, she laughed and knowingly looked at Hermione. "Go on now, I'll be there in a few moments."
Minerva watched her former charge and smiled to herself seeing that Hermione looked slightly guilty to leave without cleaning up, despite having done all the cooking. She raised the glass of Bordeaux to her lips, savoring the rich taste. For years she had kept this bottle for a special occasion, and today, she had felt like opening it to share it with her unexpected guest. Not for the first time she wondered how different her day would have turned out if Hermione and her adorable children hadn't turned up and so bravely knocked on her door. It was still a mystery to her why the young woman had thought of her old professor, but she had learned during her long life that sometimes it was wiser not to question too much.
It was the joyful laughter echoing from the garden that brought her out of her musings. She muttered a few spells to bring the kitchen back into its normal shining state and slowly stood up. She placed her hands flat on the table for support until her hip was able to take her full weight. To her upmost annoyance, she would need her walking stick today, especially with all the snow and ice on the roads. Wordlessly she summoned the dreaded walking aid, and much too slow for her liking, limped to the door and put on the warmest jacket she had brought with her.
It was still snowing a bit, but the icy wind had stopped, making the walk around the house much more bearable for Minerva. She smiled when she discovered that Hermione had thoughtfully cleared a path to the garden. Everything was covered with a thick blanket of snow, making the world look clean and innocent.
Rounding the house, Minerva was greeted by the sight of Rose and Hugo trying to place a ball of snow on another, bigger one. She muttered a little spell, lifting the ball just a tiny bit so that the children wouldn't notice. It felt much more satisfying to have accomplished things on your own. The children's happy and proud faces proved that she had been successful in trying to help unnoticed, but of course, Hermione could not be fooled so easily.
The young woman turned around, winking at her and alerting the children to Minerva's presence.
"Grami!" Hugo shouted happily, seemingly not caring that he had snow everywhere. He looked so cute with his red bobble hat.
"You've done a wonderful job there with your snowman," Minerva praised and smiled when Rose ran towards her and took her hand.
"It still needs a hat and a face," the girl explained. " Can you make one?"
Minerva marveled at the girl's patience with her as they slowly walked to join the others. The icy path and throbbing pain in her joints prevented her usual brisk walk, but Rose didn't seem to mind. On the contrary, she seemed genuinely happy to see her, despite the short stretch of time having passed since they had all but run from the house. "Hmm, I think I could help you with that."
"Hugo, Grami said she'll help with the face and the hat!" The little boy beamed with joy.
Taking her clue, Minerva raised her wand and summoned a black hat, a carrot and some old chestnuts. "Here you go, my darlings," she said, handing the hat and carrot to Rose and the chestnuts to Hugo and watching them run to finish their work.
The elder woman stepped forwards to be closer to Hermione. She didn't see the small patch of ice on which she put her walking stick and which almost sent her flying, if Hermione hadn't been so quick to catch her.
"Wow, steady there." Hermione's arm was still wrapped around her friend's waist with no intention to let go. "Are you all right?"
"Yes, yes. Thanks to your quick reflexes." Minerva's tone was absolutely convincing, but her posture was not.
The muscles under Hermione's arm were still tense and her friend's breathing somewhat uneven as she leaned against her, putting a little weight off her hips. "Does you hip hurt?"
"When does is not?" Minerva surprised herself with the frustrated statement. It wasn't like her to complain, but there was a limit to everything, and Minerva knew that Hermione wouldn't give her a lecture about working too much or not resting enough.
Understanding didn't mean the young woman wasn't concerned, though. "I thought the treatment you had received in St. Mungo's after the war had been successful. Is there anything to help with the pain?"
Minerva sighed and unsuccessfully tried to put more weight on her hip before she resumed leaning against Hermione. "It had been successful, but I'm not as young as I was. There are bound to be some aches and pains from old injuries at my age, and I fear my hip is only the first of quite a few discomforts to come. Warmth usually helps, though."
For a moment, Hermione tightened her hold around her friend, meaning to comfort. "Is that why you don't spend Christmas at Hogwarts this year? I must admit I was surprised to hear it from Neville."
Minerva's huff brought a smile to Hermione's face. Some things would never change. "Yes, well, it wasn't entirely my decision. My hip had been bothering me a lot as of late, and the Healers advised warmth and rest. Filius and Poppy had that wonderful idea that I should spend Christmas away from the castle."
Hermione could vividly imagine the discussions and felt almost sorry for her former professors. It was concerning that Minerva had backed off in the end and followed her colleagues' wishes. To Hermione, it was a sign just how much the pain had bothered her friend. "Remind me to thank them when I see them next. I am entirely grateful that things worked out as they did…" Hermione nodded her head into the direction of her children, who were just finishing giving their snowman a face "… and those two seem more than happy for the chance to get to know you."
Minerva was touched by her former charge's words. "You are too kind, Hermione," she said softly and watched Rose helping Hugo to put the hat on the white snow ball. "They are wonderful children." She raised her wand and suddenly the snowman came to life and started throwing snowballs at the squealing children. It was one of the funny spells her mother had used when she was a child to entertain her children. The old woman smiled when she remembered how much fun it had been to play with her two brothers. That was so long ago it felt like a different life. Shaking off the memories, she lifted her wand to join in the fight. At her age she must be excused for using magic.
"Help! Mummy! Grami!" Hermione laughed and formed a snowball to aid her children. Who would have thought that the stern headmistress would start a snowball fight?
"Who would like hot chocolate?" Minerva asked as a matter of form. The kids were already lining up, each with a cup ready to be filled while Hermione was starting the fire in the living room.
"Yes!" Hugo shouted enthusiastically and held his cup up. He was sure there hadn't been a better day in his life so far.
"Here, child, but be careful – it is hot," Minerva warned and filled some of the hot liquid into Rose's cup as well. She watched the children balance their cups in their hands while walking back into the living room and enjoyed the warm feeling settling in her heart. It was such a trivial situation, but so new and uncommon for Minerva. She felt like a real grandmother and thoroughly enjoyed it. With a smile on her face she joined her newly found family in the living room. The children were already sitting on the sofa, waiting for her to claim her usual spot between them. Hermione once again claimed the armchair and sipped her chocolate. The children had been right. Minerva's hot chocolate was indeed much better than any other she had ever tried.
"Mummy, can you read a story?" It was an unusual request from the gentle girl as she usually liked reading on her own better than sharing a story with her brother. Of course, there was the daily bedtime story, but apart from that, Rose never asked for a story. Today she obviously didn't want to waste time reading when she had the chance to be with the elder witch beside her.
"Well, I don't see why not, but we didn't bring a book." As soon as the words had left her mouth she thought how ridiculous it was to say that in a room full of books, but there was the possibility that Minerva didn't own a children's book.
Seeing the sad look on Hugo's face, Minerva reached out to stroke his hair. "I think I can help with that." She quietly summoned an old book and handed it to Hermione. The young woman eyed Minerva with curiosity, wondering where the children's book came from given she had never had children herself. Had it been hers once upon a time? Flipping the cover of the book in her lap, she quietly eyed the first page, adorned with an image of a four-leaf-clover. "Scottish fairy tales," Hermione started reading.
"Wait, mummy," Rose stopped her mother. "We have to get comfortable first."
"Ah, of course, darling." Hermione smiled at Minerva's expression when both of the children started getting comfortable in the way they always did at home when they came for an evening cuddle. Rose helpfully took her brother's cup from him and placed both cups on the table, while Minerva sat somewhat stiffly, waiting for the things to come. Hugo started curling up and placed his small head on Minerva's lap as if he had done that a thousand times before. Rose, always mindful of her companion's needs, got up and pushed the footstool in front of the armchair not occupied by her mother to the sofa to ensure her Grami would be comfortable as well.
Minerva looked touched by the girl's thoughtfulness and carefully put her feet up. She quite unsuccessfully tried to look as if the movement didn't cause pain. Rose couldn't be fooled, though, and silently asked her mother for help. They had always had this special ability to communicate through their eyes, something that Hugo had never managed or bothered trying. Taking her cue, Hermione winked at her daughter and stood to leave the room, ignoring Minerva's questioning look.
Rose used the time to get comfortable and cuddled up against her Grami.
"Careful, darling." The old woman winced slightly and pulled Rose into a slightly different position, sighing when the pain lessened. "Now that's better."
Hermione came back with a hot water bottle and a very thick and comfortable looking green blanket. "Here you go," she said as she handed the hot water bottle to Minerva, and received a surprised "Thank you," in return. Rose moved a little to allow the elder woman to place the additional heat where it was needed most, then resumed her earlier position. With practiced ease, Hermione tugged the occupants of the large sofa in and went back to her armchair and enjoyed the look on Minerva's face. It was quite endearing to see the older woman so nonplussed.
"We are ready now," Hugo exclaimed and snuggled deeper into the warmth.
Hermione allowed herself a gentle smile at the scene in front of her. Minerva had tenderly started stroking the children's hair and faces, both of them looking absolutely content and happy with the loving treatment, and Minerva, who had lazily settled against the back of the sofa, had a glow about her that Hermione had never seen before. She looked incredibly blissful.
"Once upon a time…"
Hermione noticed the look of utter disgust on Minerva's face as she reached for her walking stick. It was half past ten now and time to leave for church. To Hermione's surprise, the children had somehow managed to stay awake and were now fully dressed and ready to go. Hugo had already claimed his Grami's hand.
"You don't need that," Hermione addressed the elder woman and offered her arm. "I've got you."
Minerva didn't look very pleased, but decided that she'd rather accept Hermione's help than taking the stick. Her face fell, though, when she saw the sad look in little Rose's eyes.
"I want to walk with Grami, too," she whispered miserably.
Hermione saw the pained look on Minerva's face and bent down and whispered something in her daughter's ear that seemed to make all the difference. She knew Minerva would love to offer Rose a hand as well, but she needed the support only an adult could offer with the roads covered with snow.
Obediently, Rose took her mother's hand as they slowly walked through the crisp night air. The night was clear and the stars seemed to shine brighter tonight, illuminating the snow around them. It looked truly magical.
Soon they reached the old country church and stepped through the entrance to find seats in the middle of the nave. Hermione helped Minerva sitting down and enjoyed her children's wide eyes as they took in their surroundings.
It was a charming little church, built in a time when people didn't have enough money to decorate every corner with paintings and statues. It was honest and in its own way much more religious than all the grandiose cathedrals, built by people who wanted to be recognized with their work, rather than praise the god it was built for.
Tonight the candles in the huge chandeliers were lit, giving that kind of soft, festive light no light bulb could provide. It was still a few minutes before mass would start, and people kept coming in from the cold.
"Mummy," Rose whispered, instinctively knowing to respect the quietness of the room.
"Can we go and light a candle over there?" She pointed to the right end corner to a candleholder Hermione hadn't recognized before.
"Of course we can," Hermione agreed and looked at Hugo, who sat on the other side of Minerva. The old woman had her arm securely wrapped around him as he leaned into her side. He didn't seem overly interested in coming along, so Hermione smiled at the older woman and took her daughter's hand. They quietly made their way to the box of candles and Hermione put a little money found in the depths of her coat in the box provided to pay for the candle and gave one to Rose. The small girl held the wick patiently against a flame and carefully set it into one of the empty spaces.
"That one is for Grami," Rose whispered, "because she was so sad when we arrived."
Hermione reached out and tenderly tugged a strand of soft brown hair behind her girl's ear. "That is very sweet of you, my darling."
Rose looked very thoughtful for a moment. "Mummy?"
"Yes?" Hermione followed her daughter's look, seeing Minerva and Hugo.
"Can Grami come and celebrate Christmas with us?" she asked, still watching the older woman.
Hermione smiled at her little girl. "You would like that, wouldn't you?" It was amazing how quickly her children had bonded with her former professor.
"Yes, very much." Rose turned to look at her mother. "She has to celebrate with us. We are her family now. Do you think dad and grandma would be okay with it?"
Hermione took her time to think about the question. Rose was right, of course. Minerva shouldn't have to spend Christmas on her own, and the usual big Christmas party would do her good. In fact, Hermione was sure that the family would be overjoyed to see the headmistress. Molly had often invited Minerva, but the headmistress didn't have much time and declined more often than she attended.
"I think they would enjoy having Grami over for Christmas." Hermione thought about how much she had missed having her mentor in her life and wasn't ready to part with Minerva just yet. She would love having the elder woman around. It would be the perfect opportunity to pamper the proud witch in a discreet way.
"Can you ask her then?" Rose tugged a little at her mother's hand.
Hermione raised an eyebrow. "Why don't you ask her yourself?"
"Because I am a child, and she will think you don't want her. She will say yes when you ask her," Rose explained patiently.
"Do you think so?" Hermione asked and slowly started leading her daughter back to their seats.
The young girl nodded. "Yes. Will you ask, please?"
Hermione bent down and placed a small kiss on the girl's forehead. "I will ask her on our way back," she promised as they moved to sit beside Minerva again, right when the choir started singing. Rose was sitting between her mother and Minerva, singing along with her angelic soprano voice. Her face was glowing with happiness.
Minerva tightened her hold around Hugo when she noticed that he had fallen asleep against her. To her, the midnight mass was the perfect ending to a wonderful day. Rose had a beautiful singing voice, a trait she had obviously inherited from her mother. It came as a surprise to Minerva how wonderful Hermione sang, but when the girl had been at Hogwarts there hadn't been much reason to sing.
For a few moments there was a peaceful silence in the room after the last note had died away, before people started standing up and leaving the church. A soft touch on Minerva's shoulder caused her to look at Hermione, who gently smiled at her. "Are you all right?"
"Yes, I am. Little Hugo has fallen asleep." She winked at Rose and tenderly stroked the girl's hair.
"I thought he might. We better let him sleep, and I'll pick him up and carry him." Hermione stood, walking to the other side of the row. She whispered a feather light spell and carefully gathered her son into her arms. He stirred a little, but soon settled back into his mother's warmth.
Rose watched concerned how Minerva's knuckles turned white when she grabbed the row in front of them for support as she stiffly stood up. She didn't know what to do. She would have liked to comfort her Grami, but she didn't know what to say. Instead she put her small, warm hand on top of Minerva's and waited patiently until the old witch seemed less tense.
Having worked through the pain of having sat in the same position for too long, Minerva turned her hand and bent down a little to kiss the young hand that lay in hers now. Rose was such a sweet and thoughtful girl that Minerva felt a pang of regret. She should have stayed in contact with Hermione. She should have been there to watch Rose taking her first steps, to celebrate her birthdays and soothe her through the first jealousy after Hugo's birth. Well, it wasn't too late to start taking part in the children's and Hermione's life.
Looking into questioning brown eyes Minerva cupped Rose's cheek for a moment before pulling the girl close to her. "I'm fine, darling," she whispered.
Rose pulled back a little to look at Minerva. "You can lean on me if you like. I'm stronger than I look, you know?"
"Oh my darling, that is so sweet of you." Feeling tears gathering in her eyes, Minerva tenderly stroked the girl's cheek with the back of her fingers. She was deeply touched and had no intention to belittle the girl's offer. "I would be grateful if you could give me your hand so that I won't slip."
Rose promptly slipped her small hand in Minerva's again and gave it a little squeeze. "I'll take care of you," she announced. "Does your hip always hurt so much?"
"No, love. It doesn't hurt as much when it is warm and when I have enough time to put my feet up every now and again," she explained.
"Then I will help you so that it doesn't hurt so much," Rose announced so determined that Minerva had to laugh, because the little girl looked so much like her mother. Smiling, she squeezed Rose's hand and slowly lead her towards her mother and brother.
Hermione shifted Hugo in her arms, and the little boy put his arms around his mother's neck. Having found a comfortable position, she offered her right arm to Minerva, who gracefully accepted the help. Rose had taken her right hand, and they slowly walked back to the elder woman's house, holding onto one another.
They walked in companionable silence until Hermione decided to voice her thoughts. "We'd like you to spend Christmas with us," she said to Minerva. She saw that her mentor was about to protest and shook her head. "No, listen. The party will be at our house, and I can assure you that everybody would be thrilled to have you. You don't have to worry about presents, because there will be no gifts between adults, and your presence will be the most precious gift for the kids. We have breakfast, the children get their gifts, and the whole clan will arrive around noon. It will be a typical family Christmas party with too much food, dancing, singing and laughter. You'll enjoy it, and it will do you good. We have a nice guest room and if it gets too much for you, you can always escape into the private of your room. It would mean a lot to me and the children," Hermione finished her speech and watched her mentor closely for a reaction.
"Oh Hermione, I don't know. I don't think that…" Minerva really didn't want to intrude a family affair, as tempting as the offer to spend more time with Hermione and her wonderful children was.
"Please Grami," Rose interrupted and looked up with her big trusting eyes. "Please."
"Come on, Minerva," Hermione encouraged.
The proud witch still didn't look convinced. "Oh well, I…"
Rose let go of Minerva's hand and carefully wrapped her arms around her waist. "Please say yes. Pleeeeease," Rose pleaded and looked at her with the most adorable pout – that was Minerva's downfall.
"Yes." She bent down and hugged the girl tightly. "Yes, of course, my little darling," she said and kissed the girl's soft cheek, then turned to Hermione. "If you are sure."
"I am absolutely certain." The smile on her face showed the truth of her statement.
"I'm glad you didn't look at me like that when you were at Hogwarts. How do you ever say no to her?" Minerva asked, but didn't really expect an answer.
Rose let go of Minerva's hand and ran around the old woman to whisper into her mother's ear. "Mummy, can I stay with Grami tonight and come home with her tomorrow morning?"
Hermione giggled and whispered back. "I don't know, love. That is a question you'll have to ask her."
The little girl nodded her understanding and moved back to take Minerva's hand. Although Minerva was quite curious what Rose had asked her mother, she didn't ask. She had the feeling she'd know soon enough. They were almost back at the house when Rose looked up at her. "Grami?"
Rose was a little nervous, but gathered all of her courage and shyly asked, "Can I stay with you tonight?"
Minerva was surprised at the request, but couldn't think of a reason to say no. "Well, if your mum is all right with that, you can stay tonight."
"That's fine with me as long as you'll be there for breakfast at nine."
While Hermione was naturally an observant mother, who wouldn't just leave her children so easily behind with anyone, this wasn't just anyone. Most of all, it felt right. There were no worries about what she'd wear, where she'd be sleeping… She fully trusted Minerva and her little girl to come up with something. They seemed to have a very unique understanding.
Minerva smiled when Rose's face lit up with joy although it was quite beyond her why staying with an old woman would cause so much happiness for a little girl. She unlocked the door and let her guests in.
"I'll be on my way now as long as Hugo is asleep," Hermione said when she entered the house.
"Of course. The fireplace in the living room is connected to the Floo network." She took Rose's jacket and hung both hers and the little girl's clothing up, then lead the way into the living room.
"Thank you," Hermione said heartfelt and looked at her daughter. "Be good, princess, and I'll see you in the morning."
"I am always good," Rose reminded her mother and rolled her eyes.
"Sleep well, my darling." She carefully bent her knees so that she could press a kiss on her daughter's cheek without waking her son up and whispered something into Rose's ear, so softly that Minerva couldn't understand what she had said. The little girl nodded happily and walked out of the room.
Minerva didn't have much time to think about what was going on, because Hermione wrapped her free arm around her and drew her into a one sided hug. "Good night, Grami," she whispered and gently kissed the elder woman's cheek. "Thank you for letting us in. It means the world to me that we finally have contact again. I couldn't wish for a better Christmas."
Minerva felt a lump in her throat form. If Hermione only knew how much it meant to her that she had knocked on her door after all this time. "I thank you, Hermione. I can't even… I…"
Hermione saw the emotions in the elder woman's face and tightened her hold around her, knowing how much the proud woman still struggled with voicing her feelings. "I know, love. You don't need to say anything."
Minerva reached out to cup Hermione's cheek and leaned in and tenderly kissed the young woman's forehead. "Thank you, my darling. Thank you so very much."
Hermione returned the kiss and allowed Minerva to stroke Hugo's soft hair. "You are more than welcome," she said and stepped into the fire, a pinch of Floo powder having ignited green flames seconds prior. "Sleep well."
Minerva allowed herself a moment to stare into the flames as they slowly changed back to their normal color when she remembered that she wasn't alone tonight. She walked to the kitchen, only to find it deserted. "Rose?"
"In here." Rose called from what Minerva was sure to be her bathroom. The old witch smiled at how naturally Rose behaved in her home. She slowly made her way towards the bathroom and knocked politely.
"Come in," Rose called and opened the door. She had just finished washing her face and hands.
"I see you've already started preparing for bed. Well done, darling," Minerva praised.
"Yes, but I don't have a toothbrush or pajamas." She looked down at herself, obviously pondering if she could sleep in some of the clothes she was wearing.
"Ah, that is no problem," Minerva said and winked at her young guest. With a flick of her wand a lilac toothbrush appeared on top of equally lilac pajamas in her arms, hoping that Rose like most little girls liked the colour.
The sparkling eyes told Minerva that she had been right. "Wow Grami! Thank you!"
Minerva laughed at the girl's enthusiasm. "You are very welcome, love. You can keep them, of course, if you like."
Rose looked thoughtful for a moment and asked hopefully, "Maybe you can keep them here for all the times I visit you?"
Truly realizing something takes many stages. First you are doubtful, then hopeful until you really believe in the end. To Minerva, Rose's innocent suggestion took her to another level of truly believing that today's events weren't just a dream. She had a very real and adorable girl in her bathroom who wanted to spend the night with her and seemed to be sure that there would be more of those sleepovers. Not to mention that Hermione along with cute little Hugo were waiting for her tomorrow to spend Christmas with them.
"Grami?" Rose was a little worried when she didn't get an answer.
The question brought Minerva back to the present. "I'm so sorry, darling." She reached out and took Rose's face between her hands and placed a tender kiss upon her forehead. "I think that is a wonderful idea." She opened a cupboard low enough for Rose to reach and took out what seemed to be different creams, only to put them into another cupboard. "If you plan on staying overnight more often, you need a little space in the bathroom. You can just put your toothbrush in here when you are finished."
"Cool," the small girl said, astonished by the fact that her Grami would give her her own little cupboard. "Thank you so much."
"You are welcome, my darling. Now, if you don't need anything else, I'll be in the bedroom."
"No, I don't need anything."
It didn't take long for Rose to enter the bedroom in her new pajamas. There hadn't seemed to be a doubt about her crawling in Minerva's bed to sleep. Why would there? She had specifically asked to spend more time with her Grami. She looked absolutely adorable when she yawned and tiredly rubbed her eyes. "I'm ready now," she exclaimed and went straight to the big bed.
"It seems my little princess is tired." Minerva shook her head in amusement. "I'll be in the bathroom now."
Minerva heard a mumble that with a little imagination could have been an "Ok."
When she re-entered the bedroom, she found Rose in the same position when she had left. For a moment she thought the little girl had fallen asleep, but when she slowly lowered herself onto the bed, tired brown eyes blinked open. "It is all right, darling. You can sleep now," Minerva reassured and got under the covers. She stopped in her movements when she felt something unusually warm on her mattress and pulled out a pleasantly warm grain pillow.
"Mummy said you would like that for your hip," Rose mumbled. It was obvious that speaking was becoming a little difficult for the exhausted girl.
Minerva smiled gently, feeling truly loved by Hermione's and Rose's thoughtfulness. "Your mummy was right," she said softly and got comfortable under the warm blanket, putting the pillow where its additional warmth was needed. It only took seconds until she felt Rose moving closer to her.
"Sleep well, Grami," Rose whispered as the elder woman reached around her and drew her closer into her. Feeling secure and loved, the little girl snuggled a little closer. "I love you."
Minerva felt tears gather in her eyes as her heart swelled with love and gratefulness. "And I love you. Now sleep well, my darling, and Merry Christmas," she whispered, but little Rose was already dreaming of tomorrow. She was certain that it would be the best Christmas she ever had. One of many Christmases to come.
~ The end ~
One story finished, three more to go... Both myself and my wonderful beta have been very busy, but I hope there will be more updates soon.
I hope you've enjoyed this story! I am always grateful for reviews. ;)