19 September

Hermione tugged her favorite dark green robes straight, frowning slightly as she sat up atop the blankets on hers and Ron's bed. None of her robes seemed to fit her properly anymore, even after almost two months of recuperation. No matter, she thought. It was really just nice that she was no longer required to remain in bed; her daily walks (usually just from her bed to an armchair, though she had made it out to the garden once or twice) were like little beacons that signaled her returning independence. She leaned over and reached for her glasses on the bedside table, feeling a sudden pain in her middle.

She sighed and leaned back against her pillows, gently pressing a hand to her stomach. She stared at the ceiling for a moment, waiting for the pain to subside. When it had, she began to drum her fingers impatiently against the mattress.

"Ron," she called sweetly. "Are you ready?"

"All right, all right," Ron said, coming out of the bathroom. Hermione smiled at him. He held up a bottle of the pain potion Terry had provided for her. "Just take this and we can go."

"I'm fine, Ron, really," Hermione told him, sitting up and moving her legs over the edge of the bed. At the sudden movement, however, she felt another stabbing pain, turned very white, and closed her eyes.

"Okay, just take a deep breath," said Ron, coming to sit next to her. He gently placed a hand on her back, reaching with the other for the water glass on her bedside table. He added several drops of the violet potion to the water and handed it to Hermione, who drank it gratefully. After a few moments of calm breathing, she opened her eyes again and smiled at him.

Ron rubbed her back gently. "Better?"

"Can we go?" asked Hermione excitedly.

He chuckled. "I don't know what you're talking about, we're not going anywhere," he answered, helping her stand. Hermione took a moment to steady herself and then leaned on Ron to get downstairs to the living room.

"Where are Minerva and—Hugo and Rose?" Hermione asked, looking around in confusion.

"They went ahead," Ron said. "Don't worry."

Hermione smiled a bit, smoothing her robes again. "Do I look all right?" She pressed her hands to her cheeks. "I feel so silly, but I don't want to look like I'm at death's door or anything."

"Hermione," Ron said, with a knowing smile. "Come on. You know they're just going to be happy to see you." She bit her lip. "And you look beautiful." Hermione smiled and allowed him to lead her into the fireplace.

"Incendio," he said, flicking his wand, and the flames roared to life. Just as he grabbed a handful of Floo powder, she kissed his cheek. Ron smiled. "What was that for?" he asked.

"Everything," Hermione told him. "I love you."

Ron stared at her for a moment. "I love you, too," he said. "Happy birthday." He flung the Floo powder onto the fire, which turned emerald green. They stepped into the flames together and Hermione wrapped her arms tightly around him.

"The Burrow!" Ron called. When they finally stopped spinning, Hermione felt very dizzy and clung to Ron for a moment with her eyes shut so that she would not fall over. When she opened them again, Ron was grinning at her.

She smiled back, following his gaze out of the fireplace.

"Happy birthday!" Molly cried, beaming. Arthur stood with his arm around her, his grin infectious. Behind them were all of Hermione's brothers- and sisters-in-law, who echoed Molly's cheer.

Hermione smiled widely at all of them, stepping forward to hug Molly. Everyone gathered round, giving her warm embraces and birthday wishes. In the midst of this, however, Hermione became aware that Rose and Hugo were nowhere to be found, nor were their cousins. Even Teddy and Victoire were missing. She looked over her shoulder, frowning at Ron, but before she could ask, she was overwhelmed with attention.

"Happy birthday, Hermione," Bill said, giving her a kiss.

"Bon anniversaire, ma petite," said Fleur, embracing her tightly.

George and Ginny gave Hermione hugs, and then Molly was at her side, supporting her. Hermione glanced around, wondering where Ron had suddenly disappeared to, but then she was distracted by more hugs from Percy, Audrey, and Angelina.

Finally, she kissed Charlie's cheek and began to feel the need to sit down. Molly guided Hermione to her own rocker by the sofa, where she sank down gratefully as Molly tucked a pillow behind her back.

"Where are the kids?" Hermione tried to ask, but everyone was talking loudly over her, and didn't seem to hear.

"No, Hermione, not there," Angelina called from the doorway that led to the kitchen. Ginny hurried over to where she sat and nodded urgently. "Come sit outside!"

Hermione frowned, but allowed Ginny to help her get up.

"Are we eating outdoors?" she asked Molly, who beamed.

"It's so warm, and there are so many of us, we thought it might be nice," she said as they all made their way outside.

"Oh, you didn't need to set up a table and everything," Hermione said to Arthur, laughing. "I would've been happy in the—oh! Ginny? What's going on?" Ginny had covered Hermione's eyes with her hands, and she felt Harry supporting her out the back door.

Her cheeks flushed. "What have you all done?" she asked, squeezing Harry's arm.

"Surprise," Ginny said in her ear, lifting her hands away.

In the garden was an enormous pavilion filled with twinkling lights, and underneath it stood no fewer than ninety people. Hermione blinked. She saw Minerva, standing with Hannah and Neville. There were Parvati and Roger, Dean and Lavender, Kingsley and Hestia. It looked as though all of Dumbledore's Army, their children, and every remaining member of the Order of the Phoenix had arrived.

"What?" Hermione gasped, tears springing to her eyes as she placed a hand on her chest. She leaned against Harry, afraid she might faint, and he hugged her gently. Ron was disentangling himself from the huge crowd. He strode towards her, with Rose and Hugo behind him. Hermione's chin shook, and she began to laugh and cry all at the same time.

"What—what did you—how—?" she stammered.

Ron took her arms and pulled her close. "I couldn't keep them away if I tried," he said softly. "Everyone wanted to be here." Hermione, tears pouring down her face, threw her arms around him, and all the guests cheered. She looked back at them, her smile luminous.

"I want to see you all," Hermione told them, wiping her tears away, "but I think I need to sit down." There was a round of gentle laughter.

"And we planned for that," Ron said. He took her through the crowd of guests, his smile widening as Hermione held one hand over her mouth, beaming irrepressibly. Hestia touched her arm affectionately, and Terry nodded at her as he stood arm-in-arm with his wife.

As they entered, Hermione saw that the pavilion was filled with tables and chairs, enough for everyone to sit and have dinner. In the very middle sat a large, squashy white armchair that greatly resembled a throne, which Ron led Hermione to. She laughed and buried her head in his shoulder. He helped her sit down as everyone started to gather near Hermione, between tables, and near the open sides all around the pavilion.

Ginny produced a handkerchief, which Hermione accepted gratefully and wiped away her tears. Then she looked around at all her friends and family.

"What are you all doing here?" she asked incredulously.

"She still doesn't like us!" George said from then entrance of the pavilion, throwing his hands up. Everyone laughed.

"An' Hemynee!" squealed a little voice. Hermione looked around and saw Remus, Teddy and Victoire's three-year-old son, wriggling free of his father's grasp and hurrying towards her. Ron caught him en route and laid him gently in Hermione's lap, where the little boy snuggled happily against her.

"Hi, sweetheart," Hermione said, giving him a kiss. "How are you, hm?"

"Good," Remus said, grinning widely. "Are you suh-pised?" he asked.

"I'm very surprised!" Hermione assured him. Remus cuddled even closer. Ron saw Hermione wince, and quickly scooped him up, much to the boy's delight.

"Er, can I have everyone's attention, please?"

Hermione looked over to where Harry stood, not far from her. He held a glass of champagne. Molly, Lucy, Albus, Hugo, and Alice (who was much less bashful around Ron and Hermione now that she and Hugo were happily dating) were all handing the flutes out among the guests while Scorpius, Fred, Roxanne, James and Rose followed, pouring champagne.

"So, surprise, Hermione," Harry said. Everyone laughed. Hermione slipped her hand into Ron's as he sat down on the arm of her seat. Harry faced the guests. "You're all here because you're people who are incredibly important to Hermione, and because she's important to you. I can honestly say that I know of several people here tonight, myself included, who wouldn't be alive without her. And I don't just mean my niece and nephew." Harry lifted his glass in her direction, meeting her eyes, and the guests copied him. Hermione felt fresh tears forming, and Ron squeezed her shoulder.

"Hermione is one of the best, truest friends I've ever known," Harry continued. "Not only is she singularly talented and impossibly intelligent, she's kind, a wonderful mother to Rose and Hugo, and a brilliant wife to Ron. Hermione, you've given everyone here so much, tonight we want to give a little bit back to you. We're privileged to be your friends and family, and I'm pretty sure I speak for everyone here when I say: don't ever scare us like that again." Everyone laughed, and Hermione wiped her eyes with Ginny's handkerchief again. Harry raised his glass and faced her, smiling. "Happy birthday, Hermione. We love you."

Hermione looked around at all the people she loved, who were raising their own glasses and drinking to her name, still crying. She leaned on Ron and got to her feet, taking his champagne glass from him and lifting it.

"I love you all, too," Hermione said. "More than anything in the world. And I hope I'll always be here with you, because you're the most wonderful people I've ever known. Thank you for everything you've done for me for all these years."

There was a rumbling swell of applause. Hermione blinked back tears, unable to stop smiling. She returned Ron's champagne glass and sank down into her seat again, taking tight hold of his hand.

"Oh, goodness—here, just get me up—thank you, Ron."

"Watch your step."

Hermione's eyes fluttered a little…she knew those voices. Then she felt a hand on her shoulder.

"Hermione, dear, I'm leaving," said Minerva's voice from a million miles away.

Hermione started awake. She was in Arthur's armchair in the sitting room. "Oh…I'll write to you," she promised. "I'll try to visit for your birthday."

"You'll get well first," Minerva said firmly, embracing her. "I'll manage well enough on my own if I know you're taking care of yourself." Hermione nodded. "Good. I'll just say my goodbyes to your parents, Ron." And she was gone.

Hermione sighed, wincing a bit, and folded her hands over her stomach.

"Time to call it a night, you reckon?" Ron asked. He was watching her closely from where he sat on the hearth before her chair.

"Has everyone gone?" she mumbled, her heavy eyelids sliding shut again.

"Everyone," Ron promised. "Mum and Dad are tidying up in the kitchen. It's just us."

"I didn't get to dance with you," Hermione murmured. After dinner had been served, an enormous silver dance floor had taken the place of the tables and chairs, and music had filled the tent. Hermione, however, had had to stay seated.

Now, Ron laughed as he stood. "You're not really in fit dancing shape," he reminded her, and she shrugged, sitting up.

"All right," she said, opening her eyes at last. "Let's go home." Ron helped her stand and led her to the fireplace.

"Mum? Dad, we're leaving," he called.

Molly and Arthur came into the living room. "Good night, you two," said Arthur, embracing Hermione and kissing the top of her head.

"Thank you for everything," Hermione said. She hugged Molly. "I love you both."

"Oh, we love you too, dear," said Molly, sounding a little choked. She patted Hermione's cheek. "Get some rest, all right?"

Hermione nodded, and she and Ron stepped into the fireplace. In a whoosh, they arrived safely back in their own living room.

"Oh," she said suddenly, holding a hand to her forehead.

"Hermione?" Ron asked. "What's wrong?"

"Dizzy," she mumbled, closing her eyes.

"D'you need to sit down?"

She felt Ron guiding her to a chair.

"No, no," she said, still not opening her eyes. "Fresh air…let's go out in the garden…I need air…"

"All right," said Ron worriedly. Keeping a tight hold on her, he led the way out into their small garden, where there was a stone bench beneath a tree.

"Perfect," Hermione sighed as they sat down. She leaned her head against his shoulder and took a deep breath, opening her eyes at last.

"You all right?" Ron asked, concerned. She nodded, taking his hand.

"Look at the moon," she said softly. "It's beautiful."

Ron laughed. "Are you going Trelawney on me?"

Hermione grinned. "I'm not mad yet," she said.

"Not yet," Ron agreed, squeezing her hand. "Happy birthday, Hermione." He was fumbling in his pocket. "Close your eyes," he told her. She did, and felt Ron pull her right arm forward, pushing back her sleeve. She heard a tiny snap and felt something close around her wrist. "Okay, look."

Hermione opened her eyes. On her wrist was a silver bangle with a small sapphire set into its clasp. There was engraving in miniscule script beneath the gem.



She frowned. "The thirtieth of March?" she asked, confused for a moment. Then it hit her. She looked up at Ron, a lump filling her throat. "The day my bill passed."

Ron nodded, taking her hands. "Except for…for when you had Rosie and Hugo, Hermione…I don't think I've ever been so proud of you."

Hermione's tears spilled over, and she pulled Ron into a tight hug, burying her face in his shoulder. Still sniffing, she sat up again. "I didn't get to dance with you," she said. Ron frowned. Bracing herself just for a moment on his shoulder, Hermione got determinedly to her feet and walked a few paces away. She turned and held out one hand, beaming at him.

Ron grinned and stood. He took her in his arms and swayed gently back and forth on the spot, and Hermione clasped her hands around his neck. They rotated slowly, staring into each other's eyes, for a full minute before they finally slowed to a stop.

"You didn't feel faint, did you?" Ron asked quietly.

"No," Hermione admitted. She kissed him softly.

He grinned. "You know, you're all right, even if you are too old for me."

"And vastly more mature," she told him seriously.

"Vastly," Ron mumbled, as Hermione stifled him with another, much more impassioned kiss.

Thanks for coming along for the ride, everybody. :) Love you.

You know me, I can't resist this kind of fluff.