Christmas and Yule had come, as often seems the case in the course of a year, and the manor house was once again full to bursting.
The Malfoys were in their usual chambers, as Narcissa generally remained with us for most of the year, and my godson was forever coming and going about his business of rebuilding his family legacy. Draco would be sitting very near Ginevra Malfoy right about this time, as they sipped cups of warm punch and spoke in lovers' tones. They had only been married since the high summer and were just as besotted with each other as ever, and although I might tease my godson, I couldn't fault his devotion to his new bride.
I could hear Luna's high pitched laugh from the drawing room and knew from experience that she would refuse a bed, claiming she would head over the hill to her home, only to be found curled up in some windowsill or other in the morning.
The Weasley clan had come this year, all except Ronald who remained somewhere on the continent getting up to mischief. The twins had been warned that any pranks would be met by my direct wrath—I still shudder to remember The Great Wassail Contamination of last Christmas that had us all dancing until past midnight on the Eve of Christmas.
Hermione's Aunt and Uncle Granger had been invited but declined. However, they sent the young cousins with the Weasleys, much to universal delight.
Minerva had Tatiana on her lap, discussing some point of transfiguration with the eight year old in cheerful tones. Tisamenus was bound to be somewhere with Fredrick and George learning some new mischief.
Colonel Lupin would arrive later with Lieutenant Colonel Potter and perhaps his mother, Lady Potter, if they could manage to convince her that Hermione's invitation was sincerely and kindly meant. I could not blame her for her reluctance, but as it happened every year, surely some time soon she would see that Hermione bore her no ill will, and if my wife, ever forgiving, had nothing against her, I could claim no offence myself. Perhaps this would be the year when Lily would final accept Remus's annual proposal of marriage and set the past behind us all.
There would be others, too, who would come and go over the course of the holiday—old school friends, academic acquaintances from the town academies, our neighbors, and some of the peerage would flit in and out of our warm and hospitable home.
"Dearest? Why are you out here? The games are about to begin."
I turned away from the hall window overlooking the snowy gardens and towards the warm voice of my wife, who was smiling at me from the doorway of the parlor.
"I was just thinking," I murmured.
Hermione crossed the hall and tucked herself under my arm. "Good thoughts?"
"Only the very best, my love."
Her wide smile and soft kiss were my reward for all my reflections.
"I love you."
Edited for punctuation, grammar, spelling, tense, & capitalization on January 10th, 2016 [courtesy of renaid, who has treated these tales with more love and tenderness than I could have asked for & now shares this triumphant close with me].
When I started The Farce in February of 2013 my goals were very modest. I hadn't written much since 2011, and I hadn't written regularly (besides journaling) since well before that. In April of the same year the response to The Farce and the limitations of the word-count format that I had chosen inspired me to start a Companion piece, The Dream. I wrote this narrative in a different style and from a different perspective, and (hopefully) expanded my regency world a bit.
Both works grew rather out of proportion: The Farce doubled in size and complexity about the time I managed to snag a magnificent, Regency literate, professional beta reader who has stayed stalwartly by my side for the last three years through many projects, excuses and delays. Renaid has been a firm rock throughout this entire saga, and without her, these stories would not be complete. A great debt is owed here.
These stories are also indebted to many, many people who came along side me and offered encouragement, correction, and praise; people who wept when I wept and laughed when I laughed, and who held on when posting got slower and slower.
A warm thank you to my faithful reviewers who have been with me for so long, many from nearly the beginning.
A special thank you to those who spoke up to encourage me or correct me on some historical or magical detail; there were many of you.
A deep thank you to those who had lovely, kind things to say to me about how much they enjoyed the story.
And of course, thank you to everyone who has read it, whether or not you reviewed.
These stories have been a constant in my life for nearly three years now—they have been with me through three moves, three jobs, some significant personal losses, and some serious successes. I count these works as a personal triumph and am so thrilled to have shared them with you. It is with a joyful heart that I bitter-sweetly mark them as complete.
Very affectionately yours,