AN: Happy belated Christmas everyone! And to all those not celebrating Christmas…I hope that your holiday season was lovely as well! Read and Enjoy!

The Last Ornament

It was Christmas morning. Hermione Snape stretched her wand arm high as she levitated the final ornament on the tree. She smiled as she remembered how Severus had stubbornly refused to use magic to bring this particular ten foot behemoth of a Christmas tree into their quarters at Hogwarts. Hermione had learned long ago never to argue with Severus once he'd gotten an idea in his head, and though he was a powerful wizard, there were just some things that he preferred doing the muggle way.

"It's our first Christmas together, and the first time I feel that this overblown holiday is worth celebrating. So we're going to do it right," he'd grumbled as Hermione watched him struggling to drag the tree through the doorway. She'd simply stood back and smiled.

"There," he'd said. She'd come up behind him and slipped her arms around his waist, resting her curly head on against the muscle of his upper arm. "I suppose I'll need to place the presents under the tree sometime tomorrow."

"Yes," Hermione had agreed. I have a few to place there as well." She'd smiled a secret smile, and kept her thoughts to herself.

Now it was Christmas morning, and Severus was still abed. She'd gotten up early to place this ornament, the last ornament on their Christmas tree. It had been necessary to withhold this particular ornament for one simple reason: it was a surprise for Severus, and she'd wanted to keep it a secret until this morning. The sound of her husbands shuffling feet in the hallway signaled that Severus was awake and on his way into the living room. She wrapped her soft, forest green robe tighter around her body and magically stoked the fire burning merrily in the grate.

Then he came into view, and she smiled widely at the sight of her forty-five year old husband, black hair tangled from sleep, eyes bright with the merriment usually experienced by those much younger than himself as he gazed upon the abundance of gifts under the tree. She went to him then, and kissed him gently on the triangular bridge of his romanesque nose. "Good morning Severus. Happy Christmas."

He looked down at her, his eyes warm and dark and deep and smiled the slow smile that let her know just how deeply and completely he loved her. It was a smile just for her, and that was something she treasured. "Happy Christmas, Hermione," he breathed as he leaned down to kiss her more thoroughly. They broke apart and he gazed at her for a moment, smoothing her wild hair with his large, calloused hand, and Hermione reached up and soothed the gentle wrinkle between his dark brows.

"What is it love?"

"It's just…I'm so happy. I never thought I could be this happy, Hermione. My whole life…is happy now. I'm alive. I'm free. And I have you," he said softly as he led her to the tree and sat with her before the mountain of wrapped boxes. "I can't imagine wanting anything more than that. I've wanted this," he emphasized his point by taking her hands in his and squeezing them gently, "all of this for what seems like forever. Thank you, Hermione."

"Oh Severus," she said, her voice almost breaking with the emotion she felt for her husband, "you deserve all of this and more. In fact, why don't you open one of your gifts," she suggested. She reached under the tree and pulled out a small, narrow box. "It's from me and from someone else."

Severus' eyebrow rose up on his forehead as he took the box from her. "It's not from the Weasley's is it?" Hermione laughed softly.

"No. It's not from Ron. Or Fred, or George. Nothing's going to explode in your face or turn your hair pink, I promise. Just open it, love. You'll see." He smiled at her gently and slid the gold ribbon off of the box and opened it. Inside lay a folded piece of parchment, rolled up very small. Deftly taking it out of the box with a curious look on his face, he unrolled it and read the words:

The last ornament on the tree…a promise for the future. Happy Christmas my darling…love Hermione

His brows furrowed, he looked from the paper to Hermione. She simple smiled and pointed to the top of the tree. Severus rose to his feet and peered at the new ornament. "Hermione…what…are you…." All at once Severus fell to his knees in front of Hermione who was smiling widely and nodding her head.

"Yes," she said softly as he reverently placed his hands over her stomach. "Yes."

Severus grasped Hermione and pulled her into him, her head resting against his chest, cradled in his arms. "Thank you," he murmured, his voice hoarse with emotion. "Thank you. I love you."

"I love you too. Happy Christmas darling," she whispered as his lips drew near to hers.

"The happiest…so happy…"

"So happy…." she repeated.

On the floor, quite forgotten for the moment, lay a small ornament. It was a pair of blue knitten baby booties.

FIN

The happiest of Christmases to you all! Hope you enjoyed.

SS