Chapter 12 : Christmas Emotions
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“Merry Christmas” Mrs Granger said to Harry and Hermione as they came inside, damp from lying in the snow. After removing their snow covered clothing, Hermione gave her parents a big hug and Harry went to look under the tree to find many more presents than the night before and sure enough, gifts from his friends were there as well.
That morning, Harry watched on in amazement at how the Grangers worked together. They all seemed to know exactly what to do when it came to preparing the Christmas meal. With the table set, the desserts made, the vegetables peeled and chopped, the turkey stuffed, the Grangers and Harry sat around the tree to open their presents.
Harry received a book about historical dark wizards and their downfall from Ginny, no doubt to help him for his auror training. From Ron, he received a pair of quidditch goggles. The note attached read 'Hi Harry, I hope you are having a great Christmas. This is the latest in quidditch goggles. They are anti fog, repel rain and they tint in the sun. They also have an inbuilt lamp and compass for long distance and night travel'. Mrs Weasley sent the usual woven jumper with the large letter H on the front and a selection of home made cookies. Hagrid had sent a variety of sweets, that thankfully Harry thought, were not homemade.
Much to his surprise, as well as the array of gifts upstairs, the Grangers had also bought him a set of potion bottles and cases for storing ingredients. Each container had an engraved label that changed automatically when a different ingredient was added.
“We talked to Hermione” Mrs Granger explained, “and she said you were becoming a bit of a whiz at potions.”
“Thank you”, Harry managed to say, slightly embarrassed at the generosity the Grangers displayed. It made him glad that he had bought them a gift yesterday on their way back from the skating rink. Hermione had suggested solar lights and a garden ornament and now, after seeing what the Grangers had bought him, it seemed woefully inadequate. The Grangers though had appeared to love them. But with his embarrassment also came elation at the compliment that Hermione had given him about his potion making skills. She was right though, his potion ability had skyrocketed now that Snape was not longer breathing down his neck, but also because Harry felt like he owed Snape something for protecting him for so long, even it it was just passing potions.
Hermione received clothes and money from her parents who told her to buy herself something nice in Diagon Alley. Ginny gave her a quill and ink set which seemed to contain every colour imaginable, and Ron, a book on the early history and ancient legends on the wizarding world. Wrapping paper was strewn across the floor and the mountain of presents under the tree was severely diminished. But both Harry and Hermione knew there was one present for each of them to give.
“Yours is upstairs, I'll just go get it” Hermione said standing up.
“Yeah, same here”, Harry said, following her.
“We'll just be in the kitchen doing the ...er...the ...er the silverware shinning” Mrs Granger stammered, practically pulling her husband out of his chair.
“Silverware shining” he said, incredulously, looking at the sparkling cutlery laid out on the table. “Is that the best you can come up with?”
Mrs Granger just shrugged her shoulders.
Upstairs, Hermione was sliding Harry's gift out from under her bed. She had thought long and hard about what to give him, her feelings for him meant that not just any gift would suffice and Hermione wanted it to be something personal, just for him. In all those horrible weeks, when Hermione's mind was trying to avoid thoughts of Ron, one of the things she thought about was what to get Harry for Christmas. Finally it had hit her and she had ordered the gift and sent it to her parents so as not to draw suspicion at school. Now, on the brink of giving it to Harry, butterflies flew rapidly around her stomach, 'Oh I hope he likes it' she though to herself walking to her bedroom door.
Harry went to his room and opened the top drawer, where underneath the few clothes that he had brought was a small wrapped present for Hermione It had taken him months of indecision before he finally decided on what to give her, the only one who had been by his side the entire time and who had captured his heart. This gift was more than just a present, it was a reflection on Harry's true feelings. Harry closed his drawer and walked out of his bedroom, meeting Hermione as she left hers.
“Um”, Harry stammered, looking down at the gift in his hands “this is for you”.
Hermione took the gift that Harry presented to her and likewise gave him his with a smile that warmed Harry's heart. The thought of her parents seeing her and Harry exchange gifts was not very appealing to Hermione, so she sat down in the hallway and Harry followed suit. Curled up against one wall, and Harry leaning against the other, Hermione carefully started to remove the tape holding the edges of the wrapping paper together.
Harry was a little more eager with his gift. It was a large, flat box and once the wrapping paper was off, it revealed no secrets. Hermione stopped unwrapping her gift and looked at Harry, her eyes urged him forward and Harry lifted the lid. Inside was a set of folded quidditch robes, but these were not just ordinary robes. They were black, with emerald green lining and trim around the edges. Harry pulled them out and held them up to the light, marveling at the light weight nature of the fabric. Harry was completely encapsulated by the robes and gazed at them speechless. He turned them around to look at the back and saw for the first time the touch that Hermione had added.
Emblazoned across the back was 'Harry Potter, Legend'. Harry turned the robes around and began to fold them up, running his hands over the fabric. The robes were stunning but more important that that, they had come from Hermione. Still in awe, Harry placed the robes back in the box and noticed a sparkle on the collar. Looking closer he noticed that written in tiny letters around the collar in silver thread was a message. Harry, you have taught me more about life than anybody else. For all you have done and for all you will do, you are my inspiration. Love Hermione
Harry looked up at Hermione who had paused mid present opening, an uncertain look in her eyes. Harry had not said a word and she was worried that he didn't like them.
“Thank you Hermione” Harry finally managed to say, his breath returning to him at last, “they are brilliant.” Hermione smiled, her heart soaring as she saw the happiness in Harry's eyes. “Do your really think I'm a legend?” He asked.
“Oh Harry, of course you are” Hermione replied smiling “people are going to be telling your story for centuries, it will be every child's favourite bedtime story, and I am so happy that I am apart of it. I really mean it Harry, you have taught me more about courage, determination...life...than anyone else and I will always be in your debt.”
“Thanks Hermione” Harry said shyly, “now go on, open yours.”
Hermione turned back to the small square present in her hands and removed the wrapping paper to reveal a crimson red box. Hermione took a small breath, knowing that Harry's eyes were firmly fixed on her, and took off the lid. Hermione gasp as she saw what was inside. Contained within the box was a silver pendant on a black cord. But it was what the pendant was that took Hermione's breath away. A phoenix with wings outstretched gazed up at her, a large red gem was positioned on its breast and seemed to be glowing slightly from within. The wings were framed with a sequence of smaller red gems and everything was set in sparkling silver. Carefully, Hermione removed the phoenix from its protective box and held it in the light, the crystals sending slivers of refracted light around the hallway. Turning it over she saw a message engraved across the wing span. HJG. You were always by my side, and I'll never forget. HJP.
Hermione was completely speechless and looked up into Harry's smiling face. All the questions she wanted to ask were clearly written in her eyes and Harry answered them all without Hermione needing to utter a word.
“I found the large gem in a rock one night when when we were in the forest, it was just lying on the ground near the campsite. I knew I wanted to give the gem to you so I went to a jeweler. At first I thought the rock just held the one large gem, but then when the jeweler opened the rock up, all the smaller gems were encased inside, so we used all of them and designed it for you. The phoenix has a sort of shield charm on it. It will help deflect any dark spells coming your way. So even if I'm not there with you, a part of me is.
Her questions, answered, Hermione tried to speak, but no words would come. Instead she threw herself at Harry and wrapped her arms around him. Tears sprang to her eyes and she did nothing to hold them back. The phoenix was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen and it had been specially made for her. She knew she would treasure it forever, not just because of its beauty, but because it had come from Harry's heart.
Minutes passed with the two teenagers locked in their embrace. Mrs Granger had come up the stairs to see where they were and had seen them holding each other tightly. She smiled to herself and quietly left, neither Harry or Hermione sensing her presence. Eventually they parted and Hermione looked at Harry, tears staining her face. Harry looked back at her uncertainly when he realised she was crying.
Composing herself, Hermione managed to get out the words that she had been trying to say for the last five minutes.
“Thank you Harry, it's beautiful.” Hermione said sincerely, the necklace still in her hands.
“You like it then?” Harry asked.
“Like it,” Hermione said smiling, slipping the necklace over her head, “Harry, I absolutely love it!”
The rest of the day passed by with laughter and lots of good food. The spread that Mrs Granger had put on was remarkable and put everything that the Dursley's did to shame. Hermione's relatives came around mid afternoon and another snow ball fight was held with Hermione's younger cousins. For Harry, this had been a magical Christmas and one he didn't think he would ever forget. He may have only been in the Granger's household for a few days, but it felt like home. The day turned into night and Hermione's relatives departed, and it wasn't long before Hermione and Harry headed up to their beds.
“Night mum, night dad” Hermione said mid yawn as she got up off the sofa and gave each of her parents a hug. “Thanks for the wonderful Christmas.”
“Yeah” Harry agreed, “It was amazing.”
“Night kids” Mr and Mrs Granger said in unison as Harry and Hermione departed the living room.
“Well, good night Harry” Hermione said nervously, standing out side of her bedroom door.
“Good night Hermione, sleep well.” Harry replied, taking Hermione up into a friendly hug.
Hermione relaxed into Harry's arms but all too soon, he was pulling away. With one last smile, Harry disappeared into his bedroom. Sighing to herself, Hermione opened her door.
Hermione was just about to get into bed when she spied the spine of her photo album sitting on her book shelf. Abandoning sleep, Hermione went over and picked it up and sat on the end of her bed, the album containing pictures of all her friends open on her lap. She didn't know why she suddenly had the desire to look through her photos, but now she wished she hadn't. On the front page was a picture of her Harry and Ron from first year and once again, tears sprang to her eyes. On ever subsequent page, smiling and waving images of Fred, George, Ginny, Tonks, Lupin and many others brought memories flooding back to surface, of all that had happened, and of all they had lost. Sobbing to herself softly, she turned the next page to see a picture of her and Ron together and a tear slid down her cheek and landed on the photo. Hermione was about to wipe it off when her attention was diverted by the opening door.
Harry entered her room and sat beside her on the bed, wrapping an arm around her. Hermione immediately sunk into his embrace and rested her head on his shoulder, the photo album still open to the photo of Ron and Hermione in happier times. Harry had been returning from the bathroom when he had heard sobbing emanating from Hermione's room. Worried, he had opened the door to see what was wrong.
“I'm sorry Harry. For some silly reason I decided to look at my photos and as soon as I did I started to cry as I once again remembered everyone we've lost and who can't celebrate Christmas with us. And then there's Ron who of course can't celebrate Christmas with us because he's off with that girl...I mean, Sam” Hermione said, correcting herself. “I'm ok, Harry, I just had a small relapse in emotions.”
“I understand, I've thought about them all as well today. It is Christmas, the time you are meant to be with family and friends, and being the first Christmas without some of them is hard.” Harry turned the page of Hermione's album to reveal a photo of Ginny and himself. A pang of sadness and even a little guilt passed through him as he saw the photo that had been taken of them in his 6th year, just after he and Ginny had gotten together.
Hermione noticed Harry's subtle change in demure and as he tried to turn the page, she put a hand on his to stop him. Hermione turned around to face Harry, his hand slipping off her shoulders.
“Are you and Ginny okay?” she asked. She had heard a little from Ginny about why they had broken up but all she had really gotten from Harry was that he didn't like her that way any more. Hermione knew there was way more to it, and just like she had needed to talk about Ron, Harry needed to talk about Ginny.
“We're okay” Harry assured Hermione, “It just seeing us together in happier times brings back painful memories.
“Why exactly did you break up with her?” Hermione asked.
“At first it was to keep her safe because I didn't want Voldemort to go after her to get to me. I had every intention of getting back together with her once Voldemort was dead, but when he was finally destroyed I couldn't bring myself to do it. So much had happened in one year, and after all the emotional turmoil, I needed some time for myself. Finally for the first time in my life I didn't have Voldemort trying to kill me and I could truly envisage a future for myself. And this will sound terrible, but when ever I thought of the future, I never saw Ginny with me, in fact,” Harry added, “I saw you.” Harry stopped himself and looked at Hermione who smiled back at him warmly, but remained silent. 'I cannot believe I just said that out loud' Harry thought, mentally kicking himself before continuing.
“I guess Ginny reminded me too much of a time I wanted to move on from. The Harry that she had loved was no longer there, and in many ways I felt guilty for dragging her and her family into the war. Times have changed and I've changed. I feel guilty for not getting back together with her, but If I did, it wouldn't be for the right reasons and it's not what I wanted. I had to follow my heart and while I love her and care for her, it's not in the way she deserves.”
Hermione watched as Harry continued to flick through the album while the happy faces of those that had died stared back at him. “I hate that these people died for me” Harry said sadly, his eyes brimming with tears.
Hermione put a comforting hand on his shoulder and Harry looked up at her. “There is nothing you could have said or done that would have changed their minds. They loved you Harry and they believed in the cause they were fighting for. They all wanted to fight to end the injustices that were plaguing our world, and they were willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice it if meant insuring our freedom. You can not blame yourself for their deaths, and they would not want you to be sad. They would want you to embrace the future that was once so uncertain and make every day count.”
Harry could see the truth in every word that Hermione spoke. Harry may have been the reason that Voldemort had returned, but he was also the reason he had disappeared in the first place and ultimately the reason that he could finally be destroyed. The war against Voldemort had raged for years, and Harry was but the catalyst who brought about its final conclusion.
“You're right Hermione..they didn't die because of me, they died to regain our freedom from a loveless snake who was afraid of death.” Harry stated plainly, his sadness melting away as Hermione began to chuckle. “I haven't really talked about things too much” Harry continued seriously, “especially about Ginny. Thanks for being here for me.”
“Anytime, Harry, anytime” Hermione said.
“Well goodnight Hermione” Harry said sweetly, bending forward to kiss Hermione on the cheek. The warmth of his soft lips made Hermione feel weak and her heart started to beat at a rapid pace.
“Night” Hermione managed to whisper as Harry stood up and left. Once her bedroom door had closed behind him, Hermione fell back onto her bed, a stupid grin of pure joy written right over her face and the words 'I saw you', floating through her mind.
A/N I hope you're enjoying where this story is going. Please let me know what you think. I love the feedback.
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