Hermione’s head was pounding. She could barely remember what had happened the night before and to be perfectly honest didn’t think she wanted to. She had a horrible feeling that she had said, or done, some things which she would rather forget. Groaning she rolled over and tugged the thick, warm duvet over her head. The morning light was too bright for her delicate eyes and the smallest of sounds, she knew, would feel as if a herd of elephants were playing a brass band and stomping through her brain. She heard a knock on the door.

“Ugh!” she groaned to herself before weakly calling out, “Come in.”

The heavy door opened to reveal tiny little Peep carrying a large tray, laden with breakfast things. The sight of all the food made Hermione want to throw up. Resisting the urge to run to the bathroom, she gingerly sat up and accepted the tray. Having been thanked by a fragile Hermione, Peep left the room. Hermione heard the elf’s tiny pattering of feet going down the grand staircase. Taking a deep breath Hermione reached for the café tier of freshly made strong, black coffee. ‘Oh thank God!’ she thought to herself. Although, frankly, it wasn’t coffee that she needed. It was some of her hangover cure. She had never felt worse in her entire life! She didn’t know how much she had drunk the previous evening, she couldn’t remember after the third bottle of wine in the restaurant. She had a vague recollection of visiting a very dark, very red club, but after that….gone! Hermione decided she couldn’t stomach any breakfast, so placed the carefully prepared tray on her bedside table. Sipping her coffee she slid out of bed and padded across to the window by the dressing table. She sat on its ledge and thought of home. It was nearly Christmas now, only a week to go. She thought of 12 Grimmauld place, decked out in its full glory, a large tree placed at the foot of the stairwell, covered in tinsel and singing baubles. She had to laugh; Ginny certainly had a penchant for all things tacky! She wondered what the tree at home would look like, whether or not Ron had remembered to get the new fairy from on top of the wardrobe. She doubted it very much. Ron probably didn’t even realise it was there. It then became very obvious to her, even in her fragile state of being. She wasn’t going to be home for Christmas. Hell, at the rate they were going she wouldn’t even be home in time for Easter. And she missed them all. Oh! How she missed them, but every day that feeling that some part of her had been torn out when they parted was becoming less and less. Maybe she was just getting used to it, used to them not being around. Maybe she was just becoming more accustomed to Malfoy constantly making snide remarks, although she remembered dimly that that had not happened so much last night. Or maybe she was just…no. She wouldn’t let herself think that. If she thought that, there was no going back.

* * * * * * * * * *

Ron waved his wand and the golden tinsel wound itself around the tree. It felt odd with no Hermione telling him how to do it, where to put things and what colours to use. He was allowed to do it his way, and yet he wasn’t really enjoying it. He sighed deeply and, putting the last bauble in place (not singing ones like Ginny favoured however), he reached for the beautifully wrapped present and placed it, ceremoniously under the green tree.

“Merry Christmas, Hermione, darling.” He said softly to himself.

* * * * * * * * * *

“Ginny!” Mrs. Weasley yelled up the higgledy piggledy stairs.

“Yes Mum?” Ginny called back.

“Your brothers are here!”

“Coming!” She leapt off of the small single bed that she had slept in since she was 8 years old and ran down the steps. At the bottom she saw a mass of red haired men and their respective partners. She launched herself at the closest one.

“Bill!” she exclaimed, throwing her arms around his neck. She hadn’t seen him in so long! And Fleur look just about ready to pop! “It’s so good to see you!”

“You too little sis!” Bill looked around. “Hey, where’s Harry?!”

Ginny pulled away. “He’s not here.”

She gave Bill a look that said ‘Don’t ask.’ Nodding wisely, Bill murmured something in Fleur’s ear. She too nodded and gave Ginny a sympathetic look. Ginny looked at the floor. This was exactly what she hadn’t wanted to happen. She didn’t need her brothers’ sympathy. It was her choice, her decision. She was a grown woman for crying out loud.

Settling herself in one of the many assorted armchairs she reached out to her adorable niece, little Victoire.

“Ginny!” Victoire ran at her and jumped right into her lap, giving her an enormous hug.

“Hello you!” Ginny cooed into her ear. “How are you sweetie?!”

“I’m fine thank you, Auntie Ginny! But Maman isn’t. She is soooo tired! She is having a baby you know?!”

“Really? I hadn’t noticed!” Ginny laughed before mouthing ‘So grown up!’ to Fleur over the top of her head. Fleur nodded and laughed. Ginny loved her family. Even Fleur, to whom she had a great aversion when she first got married to Bill, but over time she realised that there was nothing more important than being together and being safe. The wars had taught her that much at least.

It wasn’t soon before the broke out the wizard chess, which always gave them hours of fun and laughter. Ginny managed to beat George twice but fell, defeated to both Bill and Charlie, who had come back from Romania for the festive period. It was always the same. It ended up with her two eldest brothers battling it out for Wizard Chess Champion, and then, once a result had been gained, her mother offered round the first glass of family mulled wine. Sipping her warm, wintery drink, Ginny’s thoughts strayed to Grimmauld place and to Harry. She doubted very much that the place was decorated and wondered what he was going to do on the actual day. She supposed that Kreacher would try and cook a beautiful dinner for him and that, without thinking much about Kreachers feeling, he would claim he hadn’t got the time. ‘I expect he’ll spend most of the day at work or in his study.’ She though bitterly. She pitied that poor elf for having to put up with him. What upset her was that he is a brave, good man, who has suffered so much yet he still manages to be as bad, if not worse at time, as bloody Draco Malfoy; golden boy of the dark side. He’d hate that idea…if only he realised it.

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