A Promising Christmas

Hey guys and dolls, hope you like this mushy, cutesy R/H fanfic.  Special thanks to Lizzie D, without whose help I would never be posting fanfictions!  Enjoy…

            Hermione leaned on the doorframe of the Burrow's front door.  It was Christmas brake of her seventh year at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry—and what a magical seven years it had been.  [Pun intended.]  From solving the mystery of the Philosopher's Stone to mixing dangerous potions in an out-of-order girls' toilet to helping clear an innocent man's name, normal fun things, like Yule Balls, seemed far less exciting, but enchanting none the less.

            She watched as Bill's and Percy's children built a snowman with help from all of their uncles.  Percy was working on the head-- he was always one for precision.  Bill and Charlie were working on the base while Ron and the three kids made the middle.

            She saw the small children's smiles and was immensely jealous of Penelope and Regina.  She knew she was getting ahead of herself in wishing for a family; having not even graduated let alone gotten a job.  And she was by no means ready to marry Ron…

            She sighed and searched the gray skies again for a sign of Harry.  Everyone had been invited to spend their last winter holiday with the Weasley's.  Molly and Arthur weren't sure what they were getting themselves into, Hermione mused.  Between Bill, Regina and their two children; Charlie and his girlfriend Betty-Ann; Percy, Penelope and their little girl; Fred, George and their fiancés Angelina and Katie; she, Ron and Harry, and finally Ginny, the Burrow was bursting at the seams.  She had watched Percy and Mr. Weasley magic the kitchen to make it roomier and add on a bedroom or two.  The ghoul in the attic was forever complaining about the racket downstairs.

            "Butterbeer?" Ginny asked, nudging Hermione's shoulder.

            "Thanks, Ginny."

            Ginny looked up at the sky as Hermione had done moments before, sipping her drink.  "You suppose Harry won't come in such weather?" she asked sheepishly.

            "Foul weather stop the famous Harry Potter?  Never.  Besides, Harry would never dream of missing a chance to spend time here."

            "He's coming on his Firebolt, right?"

            Hermione clucked her tongue.  "Yes.  Risking getting into so much unnecessary trouble with the ministry because he didn't want to take a train.  What a prat."  She just couldn't help herself.  She giggled.

            Ginny joined in.  "That snowman is looking rather sad.  How come they're doing it like Muggles?"

            "Eddie, Adelia, and Brianna aren't old enough to use magic.  And Ron isn't allowed to do magic outside of school.  Besides, Bill bet Charlie two galleons that it'd turn out poorly."  Hermione sipped some butterbeer and felt the chill of the December afternoon melt away.

***

            "That was a fantastic dinner, Mrs. Weasley," Harry said.  He had arrived a few hours ago by broomstick from his aunt and uncle's house, draped in his invisibility cloak so Muggles wouldn't see him.

            "Thank you, Harry dear.  Arthur darling, would you help me with the dishes?  It's such a big job with so many people, and it's unfair to ask the kids to do it the Muggle way."

            "Of course, Molly.  But your forgetting that our five oldest sons can use magic at home now, so they should have the pleasure."  Arthur winked at her.

            "But they have company!"

            "It's all right mother.  We'll take care of it," Percy said.

            It only took the boys a few minutes to get the dishes cleaned and put away, considering they had five wands between them, and then everyone wandered into the living room to talk about old times.

            "You remember the look on Snape's face when Fudge revoked his Order of Merlin?"  Harry asked chuckling.

            "Yeah, poor bloke.  George and I weren't ever able to pull a decent prank on the fellow.  Too ruddy serious if you ask me," Fred said, taking Angelina's hand.  George nodded.

            "Oh, be nice you guys.  Even the most evil teachers deserve some happiness.  I for one was happy for him when he married that Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher two years ago," Angelina said.

            "Whatever you say, darling." Fred smiled and kissed her cheek.

            George groaned.  "Fred, I think you're losing your touch.  You need to fight to maintain your dominant role in your relationship."

            "Be quiet George," Katie said.

            "Yes dear."

            They chatted for hours, recounting tales of how funny the twins looked when they turned themselves into old men to get across the age line to enter their names in the Goblet of Fire, and how Ron had let Harry practice stunning charms on him, and when Hagrid thought he could raise a baby dragon in his wooden house.

            Hermione sat at the foot of the armchair Ron was perched in and for once, just sat quietly and listened.  Then she heard Ron telling a story about her.

            "And I was trapped in that bloody Devil's Snare about to be smothered to death, and Hermione remembers that Devil's Snare doesn't like the damp or dark.  Harry suggested that she light a fire, but this one just stands there wringing her hands and says, 'A fire, but there's no wood!'  And I said something like, 'Are you a witch or not?'"  He laughed and the rest joined in.

            "Now wait just a minute mister.  If I hadn't been paying attention in Herbology, you wouldn't be sitting here talking to us.  Seems you should be thanking me, not making light of the situation."  Hermione patted his foot.

            "Well, let me amend my story then.  It is all thanks to Hermione that there are still seven Weasley children."  He grinned and kissed her forehead.

            "Dear God, all of the men in this family have become--" Fred started.

            "Wusses," George finished.

            "Don't forget about the time Harry saved my life in first year," Ginny piped up.

            "So it seems Hermione and I have done our fair share of Weasley saving," Harry said.

            "But let's not forget that Harry and Ron saved my life, along with all the other students who'd been turned to stone.  And Harry saved Ron's life during the second task.  Viktor Krum saved mine."  Hermione glanced up at Ron.  Because of the amount of attention he gave Hermione in their fourth year, Ron had never cared for him much.

            Ron scowled.  "I remember.  Bloke turned himself halfway into a shark.  Looked ridiculous."

            The conversation turned to other things; how often Fred and George got into trouble, Bill's accomplishments as Head Boy as well as Percy's, Charlie and Harry's success as Gryffindor seekers, and the things that they had all done to receive detentions.

            "It didn't get her detention, but do you remember that time that Hermione slapped Malfoy?"  Harry asked, already doubling over with laughter.

            "Yes.  I've never seen anything funnier," Ron gasped between giggles.

            "Proudest moment of my life.  I think it was better than being named Head Girl."  Hermione rolled her eyes, but smiled.

            "Ron, remember the time you drove Dad's flying Ford Anglia to school?" Fred asked.

            "It was when Fred and I realized we had made good role models for you," George added.

            Mrs. Weasley walked into the room wearing a nightgown and curlers in her trademark red hair.  "I think this has gone on long enough.  Even though these things happened years ago, I don't need to be enlightened on how many times my children have had close shaves with death.  Its almost two-thirty and my grandchildren will be up bright and early wanting to play with their aunts and uncles.  I realize you are all grown up, but I'm still your mother and I'm telling you its time for bed."

            "Well, if you insist Mum." Fred stood with his arm around Angelina.

            "All right, I have a list of everyone's roomies.  Ginny and Hermione in Ginny's room; Bill and Regina in Bill and Charlie's old room; Ron and Harry in Ron's room; Katie, Angelina and Betty-Anne in the new room I zapped in; and Fred, George, and Charlie in Fred and George's old room," Mr. Weasley said, joining his wife in the doorway.

            "How come you, er, what possessed you to put certain people in some rooms without…uh, other certain people?" Charlie ventured, trying to sound innocent, but everyone knew what he was asking.

            "Because mum and dad think the best of us," Fred said smirking.

            "Or the worst," George added.

            "C'mon Ron, help us out here," Charlie whispered.  Ron's ears turned red as he quickly glanced at Hermione, but he didn't say anything.

            "Just go to bed boys.  It's rude to speak in such a manner in front of the ladies," Molly said.  Then, as if her boys were still children, she hustled them upstairs.

***

            Hermione ventured downstairs around four-thirty, only to find no one about.  Perfect, she thought, just what I wanted.  A glass of water from the kitchen and a little time alone to think.

            Lately her parents had been pressing her about what she was going to do with her life once she left Hogwarts.  She had toyed with the idea of becoming a teacher, but decided that wasn't a job she wanted.  She had also thought about going into the Ministry, but she saw how much Percy and Mr. Weasley were away from home and decided she wanted something less…stressful.  It was quite a revelation for Hermione Granger; wanting a job that didn't rely on her twenty-four seven.  She had always assumed her career would be her life.  But the past few years had taught her that some things were more important.  Life was what you made it; an empty book until you filled up the pages.  And there was so much she wanted to write.  She recalled something she had said years ago, probably in her first year.  "I'm going to bed before you come up with another clever idea to get us killed, or worse, expelled."  She chuckled softly and jumped when someone put a hand on her shoulder.  She turned quickly to see who it was.

            "Hello, Ron."

            "What are you doing up?  Can't sleep over Ginny's snoring?"  He poured himself a glass of water and sat down at the table opposite her.

            "Ginny doesn't snore.  I just…couldn't sleep."

            "Me neither."  Ron fidgeted in his chair and peered intently at his glass of water.  They sat in silence for awhile, and then Ron put a hand over Hermione's and she looked up.  He looks as though he's just made a decision, she thought.

            Ron cleared his throat.  "Can I ask you something?"

            "You just did."  Hermione smiled.

            Ron grinned.  "Haha, Miss Know-It-All.  It's just…well, I thought…Here, open this."  Ron pulled a long velvet box from his bathrobe pocket.

            Hermione looked puzzled.  "Christmas isn't for another two days."

            "I know.  Just open it."

            Hermione ran her fingers over the soft black velvet and slowly lifted the lid.  Inside was a gold chain with an emerald ring on it.  She gasped.

            "Ron, I don't think--"

            Ron cut her off.  "Shh."  He pressed a finger to her lips.  "Just listen for a minute.  It's not an engagement ring, it's a promise ring.  Since we're graduating in a few months, I didn't want you to go off to Bulgaria or someplace--"

            "Oh, Ron, we've been through that."

            "I know.  Just an example.  Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I'm not, you know, going anywhere and that I'm, well, er…"

            "In it for the long haul?"  The corners of her mouth twitched.  Ron's ears had gone completely red and he was talking to the table.

            "Jeez, I had the whole speech planned.  Even tried it out on Harry.  Sounded right good, too.  But you make me really, er, uneasy Hermione."  Ron looked up at her to see that she was suppressing giggles.

            "You're so poetic, Ron."

            "Sorry.  If you think the whole things a big joke and our relationship means that little to you, then I'll leave so you can laugh at me in peace!"  Ron stood, but Hermione reached out and put a hand behind his neck.  She pulled his close and kissed him firmly.

            "I love you, Ron."  Hermione was surprised at herself.  She knew she cared deeply for him and had been going over those feelings, but apparently her heart had made a decision without informing her brain.

            Ron looked taken aback.  "I do too."

            "You love yourself?"  She was slightly disappointed that the first time that she said those words, he hadn't said the "L" word back.

            "I mean, I love you," Ron amended and he pulled her around the table and into his lap, and kissed her gently.

            "Ahem."

            Hermione jumped.  Harry and Ginny were standing in the doorway.

            "Hi.  Um, we were just, er…" Hermione began.

            "Getting a glass of water," Ron finished.

            "Oh, I can see that."  Ginny spotted the ring and chain on the table.  "Oh Hermione, has my brother finally popped the question?"

            Harry glanced at Ron.  "Uh, Ginny, it seems we intruded on a, er, private moment.  We'll see you in the morning."

            "Don't be silly Harry.  Ron didn't propose.  He just…"

            "It's a promise ring.  I already told him, remember Hermione?"  Ron's ears had gone red again.

            "And nobody told me?  My brother gives a ring to my best friend and tells my boyfriend, and neither one tells me?  Well, that's just fine."  Ginny pretended to look cross, and failed.  "Oh let me see it Hermione!  An emerald, oh its just stunning!"

            While Hermione and Ginny ogled over the ring, Ron took Harry aside.

            "What were you doing down here with my sister?"  It had taken Ron a long time to get used to the idea of his best friend and little sister going out, but he was still overprotective.

            "We met on the stairs.  You weren't exactly quiet when you got up."

            "Oh, sorry mate.  Are you…okay with all this?"  Ron looked as uncomfortable as Harry felt.  He was happy for his best friends when they realized they liked each other, but he didn't like it when he interrupted private moments.

            "Yeah, I think its great.  You did leave out that horrible poem, right?"