A Pumpkin Carol

Author: Debbie
Rating: G
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended
Summary: Hermione thinks on Christmases past, present and future. H/Hr fluff.
Author's Note: Written for the Pumpkin Christmas community on LJ. Many thanks to Liss for beta-reading.

Your first Christmas together well, you weren't really together at all, were you? Not even in the literal sense; you went home to your parents and he stayed behind with his red-headed 'brothers', sneaking around the castle after curfew and discovering odd mirrors, screaming books, and somehow miraculously staying out of serious trouble.

Your second Christmas - you were at least in the same location, even though you were both far too young to think about 'togetherness' in any other way. You went to Christmas dinner and then took the Polyjuice Potion together and that was the last you saw of him until after he and Ron were back in their rightful shapes again. And you were a cat. Not your happiest holiday memory, no.

Third year brought a lot of strife. You know now that even you have limits, but back when you were fourteen you were sure you could do absolutely everything if you just worked a little harder, had a few extra hours each day. To think of your best friend being stalked by an escaped madman just pushed you to the breaking point, so it's only understandable that an anonymous parcel made you even edgier. The look on Harry's face when Professor McGonagall marched away with his best Christmas gift - it just about killed you. Especially since you knew how a broken Nimbus 2000 had broken him in a way, too. But it would have killed you more to see him killed by a jinxed broom, and so you swallowed your own pain, and told yourself it was all for the best. Even if Harry hated you.

Wasn't it?

Fourth year. Christmas itself wasn't so fabulous (Yule Ball, anyone?) but this year this is when things began to change for you. With Ron off nursing his own insecurities, you and Harry were finally alone together for the first time. Toast by the lake, conversations about Sirius, encouraging remarks before the First Task - you shared them all, just you and he. Memories that belonged to the two of you, and no one else. And you began to realize for the first time how being with Harry was not only comfortable, as old friendship can be, but inviting, as well. That something lurked beneath you, that perhaps your heart had room for more than books. You tried to stuff that thought aside once Ron joined you again, so as not to risk re-upsetting the balance of Three. And Viktor's attentions were flattering. But you didn't forget what it was like, just the two of you.

There always seemed to be loads of people around in fifth year. First the Order, then the DA, plus Christmas at Grimmauld Place with Sirius and the Weasleys. Without that time together alone, you each let yourself be distracted by other would-be partners, Cho and Ron. And anyway, weren't you supposed to try being with different people, to make sure you recognized the Right Person when you found them? So Harry kissed Cho and you well, you fought with Ron and tried not to think about Harry and Cho too much, even trying to help him understand her better, because wasn't that what friends did? Still, despite the hoards of surrounding people at Grimmauld Place and the complications of Other People, you had a rather nice Christmas - more chaotic than being alone, but less than it might have been had you been able to stay at Hogwarts. You missed your parents, but somehow giving up their ski trip didn't sting so much with Harry by your side at the dinner table.

Sixth year - you'd tried so hard not to upset the balance of Three, and yet there was Ron, glued at the lips to Lavender Brown at every opportunity, reminding you that maybe you and Harry could have been the same if you'd had the courage - where was your Gryffindor courage, anyway? - to say something. Do something. But you waited too long and then Harry was distracted by Ginny Weasley, so you said nothing and, instead, went to that disastrous party with Cormac McLaggen because actually, you no longer remember why. Perhaps to prove to someone - possibly yourself - that you were attractive. You spent the Christmas holidays at home with your parents, feeling more confused than ever. You knew Harry had feelings for you - you'd felt that connection. What happened?

There wasn't any seventh year, not really, and having Ron gone - really gone, and not just sulking in the dormitories - was tough on both of you. But you remembered again the magic - so to speak - that swirled around you once you were alone. Both sad and troubled at first because, relationship issues aside, the three of you were, are - and always will be - so complete together. But you and Harry click on a different level entirely, and once some of the pain began to ebb, you found yourself taking his hand, or curling next to him in the firelight, and feeling more at peace than you can remember in a long time. You don't like to think about what nearly happened at Bathilda Bagshot's house that Christmas, but the hour before that, when you were walking through the town together - you don't forget that. You don't forget kissing him at midnight on New Year's - just for tradition - and then wishing it would go on forever. You don't forget the new pain you felt when Ron came back, making you whole and tearing you - and Harry - apart again, all at the same time.

And now the years have passed, and you and Harry - and Ron - have finally figured out where each of you stands. As much as you love Ron, Harry is the one who has captured you and fulfilled you in ways no one else ever came close to managing. And Ron admits he'd rather fight with you as a friend than as a lover; instead, he found that once Lavender Brown grew up a bit more, she was really quite a good match for him after all.

Christmastime will always be special for you and Harry now. It's not the day of your engagement - Harry proposed instead on Sept 1, the day you met - but it's when your wedding anniversary falls. You chose to get married on Boxing Day three years ago, after agreeing that you might as well make good use of the fact that all the important family members were already gathered together. There was no better present than seeing Harry waiting for you as you walked down the aisle.

But it will be special for another reason too, for you, and Harry and whomever decides to join you. You rub your rounded belly as you watch Harry levitate the star into place atop the Christmas tree, and wonder what new surprises your holidays will bring from now on. Next year, a chubby fist to rip apart paper, in a few more years, a shriek as a toy broom is unwrapped. And for you and Harry? It doesn't matter, really. As long as you and Harry have each other, you know everything will turn out all right.


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