Disclaimer: It all belongs to JK
Hermione sat in front of the Christmas tree and smiled
nervously at her second family. She had known it would be a subdued holiday,
but the extent of everyone’s discontent was only just sinking in.
She looked across to where Percy was helping his father into
the armchair by the fire. Mr Weasley was even more listless than usual this
“Are you warm enough, Father? Charlie, pass the throw rug
from the couch, please.”
Charlie carried over the patchwork throw and helped Percy
tuck it in around their father’s lap. Mr Weasley sat there and endured their
fussing without really reacting to any of it. He accepted a goblet of mulled
wine from Bill but didn’t bother to taste it. He just sat, staring at one of
the homemade ornaments hanging from the tree and holding the warmed drink.
Bill moved over to where Fleur was sitting and handed a
second goblet to his shivering wife. Hermione’s memory turned to Mrs Weasley
bustling around on Christmas morning, handing out mug after mug of hot
chocolate and warmed butterbeer.
It was far from the first time that she’d been struck by
just how cruel fate had been. After all the Order’s careful planning and
guarding of secret missions, it had never occurred to them that Mrs Weasley
would be unsafe picking up a few groceries. The attack on muggle London’s shopping district had been small by recent standards, but overly effective.
With Dumbledore’s death they had taken the head of the Order, but with Molly’s
they had taken the heart.
The Weasleys had crumpled with the blow and rendered the
Order all but idle. Hermione and Harry had insisted on putting the horcrux
hunt on hold to accompany Ron home and allow him all the time he needed to
mourn with his family. Percy had also come home, though his return was too
late to be of any comfort to his mother.
Hermione was pulled from her thoughts as the twins trudged
into the room, half-asleep and obviously still suffering from colds that ought
to have cleared up weeks ago. Fred, especially, seemed to be reveling in the
abuse of his immune system as he sat down on the cold floor just inches from
the rug. George followed his twin and winced as he came into contact with the
floorboards. They rarely ever talked to anyone but each other anymore and had
ceased their games and banter altogether.
A movement in the corner of the room caught Hermione's eye
and she noticed that Ginny was sitting in contemplative, quiet conversation
with Harry and glancing at the twins every few moments. Clearly, Hermione
wasn't the only one worried about them, but at the same time the scene before
her only gave her another thing to worry about.
Ron sat at the other end of the couch where Hermione was
seated, one lanky leg tucked up under his chin. His body language showed that,
even when sitting in a room full of family and friends, he was still completely
isolated from them, alone in the crowd. He was watching his sister and his
best friend, but cut off from their interactions. Hermione felt the urge to
wrap him up in her arms and let him know that she was there, but by the same
token she knew it wouldn't help. Instead she reached across and took hold of
his hand. He gave her a small smile for her efforts, but it was obvious that
it wasn't any real comfort to him.
He knew she was there and he knew that she didn't really
know what he was feeling or how it truly affected him. She did what she could
to offer comfort, yet she couldn't really fill the hole in his heart. She had
done her best – holding him whenever she felt he would accept
the contact, listening to his memories as he relived the years in his mind,
letting him know that he wasn’t alone – but she couldn’t help but feel unequal
to the task.
Much as she had loved Ron’s mother and as
much as Mrs Weasley had made her feel a part of the family, Hermione knew that
she was an outsider in all of this. She would never fully comprehend the
extent of the pain that each of them felt. She was as far from
understanding this as she was from understanding the losses Harry had suffered
through the years. But, as difficult as it was, she was charging herself
with the task of helping them move on. There was a war out there,
and they needed to fight. Mrs Weasley wouldn’t want them to grieve
forever; she'd want them to get on with things, to lead happy, productive
Hermione sighed as she looked around the room. No one
seemed to have any enthusiasm for the presents under the tree. Waking up
early to open gifts had been almost a burden this year and what Hermione was
about to do would either help lift spirits or make it all a thousand times
worse. She took a deep breath, preparing mentally, and stood up.
Ten sets of eyes locked on her.
“Um, I — I just wanted to say that this is a wonderful
family. And even though I’m not a real Weasley I still feel like I belong
here.” She paused and looked over at Mr Weasley, not sure what she was
expecting to see. Perhaps some sign that he wanted her to continue, which was
silly really, but it would have been comforting nonetheless. He stared blankly
at her nose, waiting for her get on with things. “Well, what I’m trying to say
is that I would never want to upset any of you but I think I might be about
Several of them looked worried at that statement and
Hermione noticed Harry and Charlie both finger their wands, waiting for her to
reveal some form of attack. Hermione knew not to take it personally.
They didn’t actually expect her to turn on the family. It was more that they
were taking the sensible precautions for possible polyjuice or Imperius infiltration. In truth it was
reassuring to know that they were still aware of the risks. She did her best
to ignore them, swiped the tears from her eyes and continued.
“A few weeks ago I overheard George and Ginny talking about
how unnatural it was to have a Christmas tree without their mother’s
traditional gifts under it and I started to think how horrible it was that
those – well that they had literally stolen the warmth from this
family. And, well, I thought that since Mrs Weasley wouldn’t want any of
you to go without, that I would make them on her behalf. You don’t have
to accept them if you don’t want them. I don’t want to upset
anyone. I just thought you deserved your jumpers.”
She silently summoned the pile of gifts from behind the
couch and nervously looked up to survey the reactions of those around
her. Everyone was either wiping away tears or on the verge of needing to
do so. Hermione was mortified. She had known this was a bad
idea. Why on earth did I think I had the right? This is their mother’s
legacy, Hermione silently berated herself. How am I ever going to
be able to apologise properly?
“I should like mine.”
Hermione snapped out of her thoughts and looked over at Mr
“Very much,” he added, smiling even as his tears made him
choke on the words.
She sorted through the pile and handed him his
present. The room seemed to be holding a collective breath, but Hermione
“They’re not the same,” she warned as he began to unwrap
it. “I couldn’t find the right colour wool and the patterns are a little
different. I didn’t have enough time to find the right ones.”
“Probably for the best,” Mr Weasley answered as he pulled
the midnight-purple wool from its packaging. He held it up to admire the
crimson ‘A’ on the right breast before pulling it on over his pyjamas.
He pulled Hermione into a tight hug, his tears soaking into her dressing gown.
Well, at least one person doesn’t hate me, she
“Who’s next?” George asked as he craned his neck, trying to
read the name tag at the top of the present pile. Hermione smiled
slightly, trying to hold back more tears and act as though this wasn’t the
first thing George had said to her in a month as she picked up the next two.
“Um, Percy and Fred,” she read out. Somehow they had
all decided to follow their father’s lead and accept their jumpers. With
every one that she handed out she got a hug in return until she got down to the
He hugged her, but he also kissed her cheek and told her she
was the best sister he could ever have wished for, before taking his jumper
back to his spot on the floor to unwrap. After thinking that she might
have been done with the crying, Hermione was horrified to have to mop up a
fresh wave of tears before picking up the next present.
Ginny gave her a bear hug and repeated Harry’s words.
Hermione was a blubbering mess by the time she picked up the last gift and held
He managed a watery “Thanks” as he took the present from
her, but then he dropped it on the coffee table unopened. She worried
that she truly had upset him and she couldn’t see his expression through her
Ron stood in front of her, used the sleeve of his pyjamas to wipe her cheeks, and waited for her to blink her
tears out of the way. When she could see straight, he looked her in the
eye and thanked her again. Hermione smiled, knowing that the second thank
you wasn’t so much for the jumper as it was for what she was trying to do for
“You’re welcome,” she muttered.
He nodded once then, quite surprisingly, kissed the tip of
her nose and hugged her gently. That one gentle hug spoke more to her
than any of the other clutching embraces she had received.
“Wo-ho! Did you see that?” Fred cheered.
“Kissed her-” said George.
“In front of everyone.”
“And without a single word about her sisterly-ness.”
“We might have to question his intentions.”
“Good Point! Wouldn’t do –”
“to have our Hermione – ”
Hermione flushed bright red, but Ron just ignored them and
pulled on his new (blue) jumper. The vaguely amused, content look on his
face was what made her realise: the twins were playing. And if the twins
were playing then the jumpers had really worked. So instead of letting her
embarrassment get to her, Hermione decided to be impulsive. George
actually chuckled when she poked her tongue out at them. A moment later they
both returned the gesture in perfect unison.
She wouldn’t kid herself into thinking that everything was
better now. But the twins were playing and that was a step in the right