The night before she was to leave for the Burrow, she lay in bed, avoiding sleep. The nightmares still came every night. She hated that time of night, knowing what was about to happen, but being powerless to stop it. She had tried a Dreamless Sleep potion over the summer, but it had made her violently ill so she still hadn’t gotten any sleep. That had been the last time she attempted to avoid them. She again thought of her father and his Muggle television programs. Resistance is futile.
Sir, are you still awake?
Yes, Miss Granger, though you should be sleeping. You leave early tomorrow.
I know. I was just wondering, do you think I’ll still be able to hear you that far away?
One cannot be certain, but I would wager so.
Good. After a moment, she added, Who else will I complain to when George spikes the tea with his newest invention, as he’s done every year since I’ve known him?
And how else will I curse you for leaving me in Minerva’s red and green clutches for two days while you frolic with the Weasley brood? It was as close as they were going to get to saying that they would miss each other and would be disappointed if the connection didn’t hold. For Hermione, it was close enough.
Don’t sound so put out, sir. You’ll be fine. He grunted in response. And don’t forget, come Christmas evening, you’ll be frolicking with the Weasleys too.
I had almost managed to block it from my memory. I can assure you that an Order Christmas party does not appeal to me. However, according to Minerva, even Merlin himself cannot keep me from it.
Oh you poor put upon man, she said, shocked by her own cheek.
Miss Granger, I’d rather spend a week with Luna Lovegood chasing Nargles than an evening in a house full of Weasleys, veelas and whatever other riff-raff they have invited to this so-called party.
Sir, that was borderline whinge but I thank you for cheering my evening.
I suppose you are welcome.
Good night, Miss Granger.
Even though she knew it wouldn’t last, she fell asleep smiling.
She woke up early the next morning, performed her glamour charms and shrank the small bag she’d packed so it would fit in her pocket. She’d only be at the Burrow until the next night so she brought very little. Pajamas, clothes for the day and an outfit for the party was all she needed. She threw in her book just in case, though she doubted she’d have time for reading. She met the Headmistress in her office at precisely 8 a.m. to portkey out and would then Apparate back with her after the party the next evening.
The portkey took her to the garden behind the house. She was pleased to see Harry and Ron sitting outside, sleepily awaiting her arrival. She crossed the yard and kissed each of them on the cheek before entering the house. Molly was already bustling about the kitchen. Falling into an old rhythm, she helped make tea and breakfast while the boys told her what they’d been doing for the past week.
The house was oddly quiet, even for that hour of the morning. Ginny and Claire were still upstairs sleeping. George had gone with Arthur to the Ministry for some last minute emergency. The rest weren’t due to arrive until a little later that morning. This left the trio time to just sit together at the old kitchen table, chatting as they had done on countless mornings.
Soon the girls were up and the rest of the Weasleys began arriving. The Burrow was once again filled with laughter and shouting, greetings and hugs. Charlie had come from Romania bearing dragon stories, scars and another tattoo. Arthur and George returned with Percy in tow shortly after. Finally, the front door flew open and a small child burst into the room.
“An-mi!!” he screamed as he searched out and then flung himself on Hermione. It had only been two months since she’d seen him but Teddy had almost doubled in size. Instead of a nine-month-old baby, she was holding a boy the size of a two-year-old.
The next few hours flew by, lost in a sea of stories and jokes. She didn’t have a quiet moment until after lunch when she took Teddy upstairs for his nap. She had a slight moment of apprehension as she lay down with him, but the nightmares had thus far only come at night, so she cuddled him to her.
In all of the frenzy, she had forgotten to check in with Professor Snape. She immediately felt guilty. Sir?
Yes, Miss Granger?
Everyone arrived at the same time and it’s been absolute pandemonium until now.
I have been otherwise detained as well. I should have been the one concerned about George Weasley ruining my day.
Uh-oh. What happened? She was completely content at that moment, holding Teddy, making small talk with Severus, her family bustling around downstairs.
Someone used one of his concoctions to spike the pumpkin juice. I spent all morning brewing antidotes to turn students back into humans.
What were they before?
Reindeer, he said flatly.
Ahh. How festive. Sir, why don’t you take a headache potion and have a cup of tea or something?
Why? His voice was almost suspicious.
I can hear it in your voice. You’re probably in your office right now, pacing and pinching the bridge of your nose. Did you even eat lunch today?
Though it disturbs me that you can read me so well, I can assure you that I have somehow managed to live my forty years without you mothering me. Be that as it may...perhaps I should have late lunch.
See that wasn’t so hard was it?
What are you doing? You sound as though falling asleep.
I’m lying down with Teddy for his nap. She pushed an image of the boy sleeping in her arms. He's grown so much.
Indeed, Miss Granger, he said quietly. Enjoy your lie down.
Take the potion, sir, she said sleepily. She smiled when he only growled.
Christmas morning brought mountains of presents to the Burrow and its many occupants. Hermione sat in a sea of wrapping paper and watched the others tear into their gifts. She had gotten Ron a very ornate Wizarding chess set that he’d thanked and hugged her for repeatedly. For Harry, she’d gotten a book on defense spells, new trainers and an arm sheath for his wand. Though she’d already given Ginny her real gift, she also gave her a framed picture from the Yule Ball of her in her blue dress and Harry looking at her in love and lust. She spoiled Teddy, as usual, with many toys and a child-sized Gryffindor scarf.
She’d forgotten about her own gifts until Molly put another box on her pile. She sat back in her chair, trying to remain inconspicuous. She hated opening presents in front of people. When no one seemed to be looking, she began unwrapping. The box was, of course, her annual Weasley Christmas jumper. This year, however, she’d surprised Molly by knitting one for her as well. Molly had been such a mother to her over the years, especially the past summer, and Hermoine wanted to give her something that showed how much she had taught her. Molly had cried and squeezed her tightly when she opened it. She opened the next box from Ron. It was a box of Muggle pens, pencils and notebooks. He’d said it was because she used too many bottles of ink and rolls of parchment from all the note taking that she did. Harry and Ginny had gone in together, though it was obvious that Ginny had been the one to pick out and wrap it. From the tissue-lined box, she pulled out a dark cashmere jumper that was lovely and soft. She had originally thought it was black but after looking at it in the light, it was actually the darkest of iridescent greens. Though Ginny's face was turned away, she had the distinct feeling that the girl was laughing at her.
She was surprised to see she had one more small box. Recognizing the spidery handwriting, she immediately shoved it in the box with her pens. He’d actually gotten her a gift. She was infinitely glad that she’d given him one as well. She had argued with herself endlessly over what to get him. Finally, she had decided to give him a silver pocket watch that had belonged to her grandfather.
After what seemed like an appropriate amount of time, she took her gifts upstairs under the guise of getting dressed. She went into Ron’s room, closed the door and locked it. He’d moved in with Harry for the night she was there so she had a room to herself. He’d even casted silencing spells so that if she was sleeping no one would disturb her and if the nightmares came, she wouldn’t wake anyone else. She had been touched at his thoughtfulness. Sitting on the bed, she pulled out the package and read the note first.
I am not good with gifts. It was my mother’s. You will likely have more use for it than I.
She was already crying before she’d even opened the box. She gasped when she pulled out an antique silver hair comb. It was beautiful. The stones, which appeared to be black diamonds, glittered in the light.
Miss Granger, his voice startled her distracted mind. I cannot possibly...
Oh! Professor, I just opened your gift, she interrupted. It’s beautiful. Thank you, sir.
I clearly have no use for it. Be that as it may, I cannot possibly accept such an expensive-
Sir, she interrupted again, I didn’t actually buy your gift either. It was my grandfather’s. A happy coincidence that his initials were also SS.
Thank you, Miss Granger, he said softly after a few seconds.