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Peace at Last

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December 24th

Hermione thought that it should be snowing. But it wasn’t. It looked like London’s chances of a white Christmas were pretty slim, mainly due to the nearly constant rain that had been falling for the last two weeks. The only thing that had changed with the weather was the freezing rain that had come down on the 20th of December that had caused the entire city to come to a screeching halt.

Not that Hermione cared about the weather at all. The only thing she really noticed about it was that the gloominess fit her mood perfectly. She was depressed and she had been for three years. Three long and torturous years he’d been gone, and she was sick of it. She was just tired of waiting, tired of missing him constantly. She was just tired.

After Voldemort had regained his body after the Triwizard Tournament, Harry had changed. He no longer allowed himself to slack off or be lazy when it came to his studies. In fact, he became somewhat militant on training and learning as much as he could. Hermione learned later that Professor Dumbledore had granted Harry access to a time turner which allowed him to fit in many years of training into just a few months. During their fifth year, Harry had become a stranger. He didn’t really hang out with Hermione or Ron any longer, but instead spent all of his time somewhere at Hogwarts learning new magic.

It had taken an intervention to get him to come back to her. Hermione had finally caught him out one day and stunned him. She tied his skinny arse to a chair and had sat on his lap. She’d then ennervated him and explained several facts of life to her very best friend. One of those facts being that she was desperately in love with him and that she was not going watch while he ran himself into an early death.

Harry had broken her heart. He had simply explained that he couldn’t be with her and that she should let him go. So, she’d slapped him and left him tied to the chair as she walked out of the room. She didn’t look back.

She only made it a few steps before she heard him sobbing. The noble idiot had lied to her. So, she had run back into the empty classroom, retaken her seat on his lap and kissed him for all she was worth. He resisted. For a moment.

After that, they were together. Harry was much more open with her and let her in on what he was doing, but he wouldn’t let her train with him. He and the Headmaster had apparently worked out a plan and she wasn’t going to be allowed to be a part of it, no matter how much she wanted to be.

Hermione remembered the rest of her fifth and sixth years fondly. Harry made sure to spend some time with her every day and they were so happy. Harry still spent an inordinate amount of time training, but Hermione couldn’t talk him out of whatever scheme he and Professor Dumbledore had baked up.

At the end of their sixth year, the war had heated up and Harry had dropped a bomb on her. He was leaving. He and Dumbledore were going on a quest to get rid of Voldemort and his forces. Hermione had begged him not to go, but Harry had explained that they had a plan and that if he didn’t go Voldemort would win. She’d fought him, saying she didn’t care, that she only wanted him. Truth be told, Hermione could admit, that she had said some awful things to Harry that night. All he had done was to hug her and say the words she had waited years to hear.

“I love you, Hermione.”

Then Harry had let her go and walked away. She had attended her seventh year during the oddest year at Hogwarts ever. Deaths were being reported daily on both sides, and the castle came under threat several times by Death Eaters. All students were given mandatory defense training courses that were meant to help if the Castle’s wards were ever breached.

Hermione herself had lived the entire year in a sea of anger, frustration, and regret. Her Harry had gone to war and she hadn’t even told him she loved him before he left.

About six weeks into their first term of Seventh Year, Hermione received her first coded letter from Harry. The marauder's passphrase had been very useful to them and Hermione was grateful that she could, at last, have some correspondence with Harry, even if she couldn’t write back.

This state of affairs had been going on for three years now. Hermione had graduated with honors and had taken up a Healing apprenticeship at St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, hoping that she could help with the war even in a small way.

She’d moved into a small flat in Diagon Alley and had spent the two years after graduation living for the letters Harry would send her every few weeks. The contents of those letters usually only consisted of inanities and small talk. Harry never divulged anything that he and Dumbledore were doing, which just caused her frustration to grow. She missed him, and she wanted him to come home.

Hermione sighed as she looked upon her naked form in the mirror. A little black dress hung on the corner of her vanity waiting for her to slip into it. Hermione gazed on her face. She even looked tired. No amount of cosmetic charms could hide the weariness in her eyes, and she wasn’t going to glamour them just to hide the fact that she often felt dead inside.

She grabbed the dress reluctantly and slipped it over her head, arranging it so that it fell into the proper places on her body. Hermione did not want to get dressed up and attend the Weasley’s Christmas party, but she knew she didn’t have much of a choice. She’d stayed close with the Weasleys after graduation. She’d been there for them when Bill and Charlie had been ambushed and killed. The loss of the two eldest Weasley children had hit the entire family hard, and Mrs. Weasley had become even more protective of the rest of her brood, which had somehow come to include Hermione. So, Hermione knew she couldn’t get out of going to the family’s Christmas celebrations, even if she knew that there wouldn’t be much in the way of celebrating.

An hour later after finishing getting ready, Hermione apparated to the Burrow and knocked on the door.

“Hermione, dear! Happy Christmas,” Mrs. Weasley greeted, opening the door wide. “Come in, come in. Everyone else is already here.”

“Happy Christmas, Mrs. Weasley,” Hermione said, giving the Weasley matron a good hug.

“Oh, dear, how many times have I told you to call me Molly?”

Hermione just smiled and pulled away from their hug.

“Never mind, never mind. Go on into the living room, everyone will be thrilled to see you.” Hermione smiled again and did as she was told.

The remaining Weasleys were all in attendance and greeted Hermione fairly enthusiastically. There was a dampener on everyone's spirits, and it was noticeable. They were happy to be there and to see her, but the specter of Bill and Charlie’s death hung over the entire family.

Ron greeted her with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. “Hermione, love, how are you?”

“Hey, Ron.”

Ron pulled back and grinned at her. “Pansy’s been asking for you. She’s been hoping you’d come over and have dinner with us.”

“I’d love that. And where is your lovely other half?”

“Oh, she popped off to the loo, she’ll be back. The baby’s been driving her nuts.”

Hermione laughed. “Around this time during pregnancy, babies have a tendency of doing that.”

“Look at you, going all healer on us.”’

“Well I am fully qualified now, you know?”

Hermione stepped away from Ron, her eyes settled on Draco Malfoy. She had to stifle a groan. Despite knowing for sure that he was on their side in the war, she still felt uncomfortable around him. Ginny was attached to his side and was smiling at him with a slightly goofy expression. Hermione shuddered at the thought of what the ferret must have done to the youngest Weasley to get her to look like that. Then she wished vehemently that she had someone – Harry – that would make her look like that.

“Ginny, how are you,” Hermione said taking a seat across from the young redhead.

“I’m good, Hermione.”

Hermione nodded at Draco and then struck up a conversation with Ginny, though it was hard at times to keep Ginny’s attention. Ginny seemed to always be paying some attention to Draco, which made conversation hard.

Because of that, Hermione floated around the group and tried to catch up with her adopted family. The only person missing was Fleur who had spent her time in France since Bill’s death. Hermione hadn’t been close with the French veela, but she knew that Fleur had sought shelter and comfort with her family after her husband had died.

After an hour of mingling, Mrs. Weasley called everyone to the dinner table and they all settled down to a nice meal. It was quieter than usual, especially after Mr. Weasley had asked for moments of silence for Bill and Charley, both of whom had an empty chair set up at the table in their honor.

They were just settling into dessert when a sound of apparition was heard out in the front garden.

“I wonder who that might be,” Mrs. Weasley asked, getting up from the table and heading towards the door. “We’re not expecting anyone else.”

Molly opened the door and looked out. Then she gave a loud shriek and hurtled through the door. The rest of the family and Hermione scooted out of their chairs and hurried towards the door, each of them wondering what could have drawn such a reaction from the Weasley matron.

Hermione passed through the door right after Mr. Weasley, her wand in hand. She didn’t really know what to expect, but she was sure that if Death Eaters were attacking they’d know it already. Mrs. Weasley wasn’t likely to fling herself towards Death Eaters without letting others know. The woman was way too protective and sensible to do that.

What Hermione didn’t expect to see was the older woman practically crushing a raven-haired, green-eyed young man to her chest sobbing into his shoulder.

“Harry?” Hermione whispered.