Disclaimer: All publicly recognisable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. In other words, I don’t own J.K.R.’s characters. Please don’t sue me; I’m not worth it anyway. Once I’m done, I’ll buy them Christmas dinner, several good bottles of wine and put them back where I found them.
A/N. This story is set some time after DH. Snape is not dead. It is another outing into my Tylwyth Teg setting for our favorite pair. Warning, there is so much fluff ahead it should carry an NC-17 warning. My excuse is that it is Christmas.
This is dedicated to my beta mtnwmgirl. Thank you.
Hermione pressed her hands against the icy windowpane. The freezing dusk sucked the warmth from her fingers as she wiped the glass free of the tendrils of frost that were starting to trail, fern-like in their beauty, across the window. She watched as the last glimmer of watery, winter light dimmed and vanished. The evening swiftly darkened and night enveloped the castle. Now, she could see only the darker outline of the mountains and the blues and purples of the night-time snow scape.
She strained her eyes trying to catch a glimpse of a familiar, dark figure against the snow. Nothing. She glanced at the heavy snow cloud laden sky then blinked as a large, white blob hit the window. It was starting to snow again. She watched the snow fall for a while. She was entranced by the snow flakes motion as they danced and whirled away, in an intricate wind blown ballet, into the darkness.
Then, a familiar sharp jab in her abdomen brought her back to reality. She ran a hand over her bump and patted it. ‘You just have some patience, young lady. You’ll get to see everything this wonderful life has to offer soon enough.’
Turning away from the window, she surveyed her handiwork. The room was bathed in a flickering, golden glow from the fire. She smiled to herself. It was perfect. The garlands of holly and ivy traced around the walls. The red berries and poinsettia blooms provided a cheerful red counterpoint to the lush greenery. The air was redolent with the scent of fresh pine and the tree stood in one corner of the room, as yet bare of decoration. She would wait until he got home then they could decorate it together or rather she would decorate the tree and Severus would surreptitiously watch from the sofa.
He would make a show of reading some or other book. Eventually, he would make some observation, to the effect, that a certain bauble would look more aesthetically pleasing in a different location. After about five such observations, he would move to stand beside her, his eyes narrowed. She would stand on tiptoe to reach a high branch. Then, he would slide his arm around her and offer to place the decoration for her. Next he would observe that, as she was in fact a witch, she should consider some basic revision of levitation charms. She would retaliate by saying that unless trees were decorated by hand they were not decorated properly. He would sigh dramatically and, with a flourish, place the bauble for her. Then he would casually, far too casually, suggest that as she could not reach he would be willing to decorate the higher branches. She would smile, thank him, and never reveal she knew just how much he secretly enjoyed this ritual. She would just hand him a box of star fire baubles, his secret favourite, and start softly humming 'Adeste Fidelis' to herself.
She smiled in anticipation and settled down to wait. Obviously he had found something in Diagon Alley that had captured his attention. She wondered what it could be. Earlier in the day, just after they had parted, he had looked to be heading towards Flourish and Blotts. If that was the case, she reasoned, she could be in for a long wait.
Hermione lazily waved her hand. Suitably festive music, psychotically cheerful Severus would have said, filled the air. Once again, she looked around remembering their first Christmas together. She also remembered his less than pleased reaction when he had come home to ‘a nightmare of garish adornment that would have acted as an emetic to the Spirit of Christmas itself,’ as he had said. Then he had vanished the decorations.
His harsh words had stung. She had labored for hours to make their first Christmas together special for both of them. She had retorted hotly ‘that if he wanted to be a miserable bastard at Christmas then he could, but that he would be doing it alone.’ They had argued, and she had left for her parents, slamming the door behind her.
Some four hours later and over her father’s shoulder, who had bravely and some would say foolishly blocked the door, Severus had shocked her by apologising. They had ended up staying the night at her parents. Severus and her father had talked into the small hours of the morning, lingering over several generous glasses of her father’s Ardbeg. When he had, at last, come to bed he had spooned against her. Then he had whispered his silky, rich apology into her ear again, his breath scented with the rich, peaty aroma of the whisky. He had also whispered that she was the world itself to him. His loquacious tongue was, no doubt, lubricated by her father’s excellent whisky and good advice. Then he had softly kissed her neck and, with him holding her possessively, they had drifted off to sleep.
The next day they had returned to his quarters in the afternoon. Her mother had even extracted a promise that they would both come to Christmas dinner. Hermione had put Severus’ acquiescence down to a splendid hangover. Severus had hung back as she entered his rooms. She had taken one look around and run back to the door to hug him fiercely.
‘Will it suffice?’ He had asked.
She glanced again at the decorations he had festooned his quarters with. ‘ Yes, Severus. It will, as you put it, suffice,’ she had answered in kind. Then she had completely undone the effect by shedding a couple of tears, so touched was she by his gesture.
He had huffed past her muttering something about, ‘irrational, over-emotional females.’ But then he had gestured to her to join him on the sofa, enfolded her in his arms, and had gently wiped her tears away with his thumb.
Now some years later the wheel of their lives had turned and they were expecting a child. The only thing that was missing, she mused, was the presence of her old familiar Crookshanks. He had died some six months before and she still missed him. His favourite, stolen according to Severus, cushion still sat on the chair by the fire. Shaking off her sombre mood, she picked up a book, rested it on her bump, and started to read.
Severus’ rich, soft voice woke her from the sleep she had fallen into. She opened her eyes and there was her husband. He was still bundled up against the cold. Snow clung to his cloak twinkling, like stars in the firelight, as it began to melt.
‘You're home,’ she said sleepily.
‘A truly astounding observation, Hermione. I think, perhaps, the child may have addled your wits.’
‘Or the strain of living with you is starting to tell.’
‘Impossible.I see you have not yet finished with the festive nonsense.’
‘Well, I will just sit and read whilst you vandalise the tree,’ he said, removing his cloak.
‘I thought you might,’ she replied innocently.
Just as Severus was starting to make his aesthetically pleasing suggestions, regarding the tree, there was a sharp tapping noise from the window. He crossed to the casement and pushed the window open. A blast of icy air and the sharp, clean smell of snow intruded into the cosy room. The accumulated snow sloughed off the sill and tumbled into the night. Outside, a large owl perched on the sill, hooted indignantly, and waited. Severus took the package and tossed a few owl treats onto the sill for the bird.
He turned back towards Hermione and crossed to where she stood by the tree. ‘This is for you,’ he said simply.
‘Well, why don’t you just put it under the tree with the others?’
He smirked. ‘I could, but I am certain you will need to open it very soon.’
Intrigued, Hermione took the package ‘Oh, it’s warm,’ she exclaimed, and set about pulling the bow open. She was just about to open the lid when it moved by itself. A paw shot out and batted her hand playfully; then the lid fell off. A small half Kneazel, with misleadingly innocent blue eyes, stared wide-eyed at her. Hermione’s lips formed a silent ‘Oh,’ of surprise.
‘Severus, it’s the one from the shop.’
‘Your powers of observation really are astounding this evening,’ he remarked dryly, contemplating her with dark eyes.
‘The one I was looking at.’
He nodded and raised an eyebrow that suggested she was fast becoming a master of stating the bloody obvious.
‘But I saw him being sold. It wasn’t to you.’
‘Once again you are obviously correct. However the new owner had no experience with half Kneazels. I felt it was my duty to explain that, whilst the creature may appear to be innocence itself, they have a tendency towards destruction second only to a Blast Ended Skrewt on a high fibre diet. He was relieved at his lucky escape. So once again I find our quarters invaded by the furry demon that is a half Kneazel.’ He sighed heavily and did his best to look suitably martyred.
He would never tell her that the new owner had, in fact, been a breeder who knew his Kneazels backwards, forwards and probably in Sanskrit. Nor would he tell her of the six hours he had spent tracking said breeder down nor, of the further hour of intense negotiations that followed. The entire duration of which Severus spent valiantly ignoring his ardent desire to hex the cretin. In addition, he would absolutely never tell her just how much said breeder thought suitable compensation for his loss of future earnings was. No, he didn’t care about any of it because the smile on his wife’s face was all in the world to him, and right now that smile was incandescent and happy and directed at him
‘Thank you love. Merry Christmas,’ she said joyfully, kissing him. Then she turned around and put the little vandal on the floor. It batted at her foot, for good measure, then made a bee line for the cushion by the fire where it curled up and watched them through wide blue eyes. After a little while it started to shred the cushion’s fringe, just for fun.
‘Hmm, as presumptuous but, if it is possible, more destructive than its predecessor, I see,’ Severus remarked, ‘though, I suppose it may prove to be a tolerable festive season this year.’
Just then their child added its own comment to the proceedings by kicking Hermione’s bladder. ‘Ow,’ she said rubbing her abdomen.
‘Is she moving much?’ Severus asked, his eyes glittering in the firelight.
‘Like a convention of Seekers chasing a snitch.’
He smiled his special, only for her, slow smile and carefully wrapped his arms around her. His fingers revelled in the feel of life that moved within her. A life of their creation and of their loving. Their daughter; their world.
He kissed the top of her head. ‘Upon further reflection, I think this Christmas will prove to be more than tolerable, perhaps even adequate, perhaps even enjoyable,’ he finished.
Knowing this was as close as Severus was likely to ever come to saying ‘Merry Christmas,’ Hermione smiled. Then she turned in his arms to kiss him quite thoroughly.
Outside, the snow fell thick and fast, its blanket of white made the world seem made anew. Inside all was warmth and love and contentment.