Alone in the council chambers of the newly formed provisional government, Hermione waved her wand over the computer and watched her mental notes flow across the screen. As recording secretary it was her duty to take the minutes and produce paper copies, and she did, though not in the traditional manner.
As a witch from both worlds, she chose to incorporate Muggle technology with magic, doing away with the ancient manual and possibly hand-cranked typewriters, but not going so far as to type on the computer herself, instead, using a spell. It pacified both sides.
It was still hard for her to believe that in the war with Voldemort the wizarding world--at least in England--had lost its secrets. Before, only the highest officials in the muggle government had known of the other world, but when Voldemort made his war public, everything came out, and now both sides were struggling to reconcile new relationships with the other.
There would always be intransigent wizards who looked down upon Muggles, and muggles who saw wizards as dangerous freaks, but the new government was working to pacify those elements.
They had some surprising help.
Hermione sensed his presence behind her before he cleared his throat, and she smiled and rose from her seat, turning off the computer. Picking up her cloak and handbag, she pushed her chair neatly up to the table and turned to see her lover standing just inside the big double doors. He looked uncomfortable, and she knew he'd waited until everyone else had left before coming to find her.
But, he'd made the effort to come for her to walk her home, and that was giant leaps from when the council had first formed and he'd told her in no uncertain terms that she wasn't to be a part of it.
Since she knew his anger came from fear--the new government received at least one bomb threat a week--she'd smiled and tolerated his outburst and asked him to become involved, too.
He'd declined, but not for the reasons he once might have.
She knew he felt unwelcome. The war's winning side was still wary of his turn-around. The losers...Well, to them he was the new Benedict Arnold.
Smiling, Hermione walked over to Draco and rose on her toes to kiss him lightly. "Thank you for coming to fetch me."
"If I hadn't you'd have stayed here all night," Draco replied. The sarcasm and snippiness in his voice were familiar to her and since she knew them to be a defense mechanism, she ignored the tone, and took his arm, leading him from the room.
"And miss decorating our first Christmas tree?"
"Speaking of, your mother sent over a box of ornaments. Something called Hallmark consisting of some stick figure blonde in a princess dress and a bikini and I think some kind of naughty uniform."
Hermione grinned. "My Barbie ornament collection. She was a flight attendant one year."
"I see. Well, they're certainly different from elegant glass balls and baubles," Draco replied faintly.
"We can have some of those as well," she said, worried that he was thinking about all he'd lost when the Manor had burned around his father.
As they stepped out into the cold air, Draco shook his head and forced a smile to his face. "No, we'll start new traditions. Those trees were always so perfect. Too perfect and bland. There's nothing perfect or bland about you, Granger."
Laughing, she smacked him in the shoulder, then slipped her arm tighter through his and walked with him to the nearest subway entrance.
After a quick ride of three stops, one change, and four stops, they quickly walked the two blocks to their flat. The temperature was dropping rapidly and a quick spell told them that it was going to snow soon.
Four days before Christmas and snow was coming. It reminded both of more innocent days at school where the snow was always deep. In London it would be slushy and then very dirty, but falling tonight there would be beauty.
The flat they shared was small and on the second floor, but with the Malfoy fortune seized by the government and no one as yet willing to hire Draco, they were living off of her income. Hermione knew Draco was unhappy about that, but she hoped her Christmas present to him would cheer him up, although she had to present it just right so he didn't think it was charity.
It was true that Professor Snape, when approached, had been disturbed that he hadn't thought of it first, so that was the angle she'd go with on Christmas Day when she told Draco about his new job as their old professor's first apprentice in his new apothecary. For months former students had been jockeying for the position, but Hermione could finally admit that Draco was the best at potions.
Even better than her.
Turning on the light in the sitting room she saw that the tree was up in a corner, and pleasure flooded her. Christmas was her favorite time of the year, although she'd rarely taken the time to appreciate it as a teenager. She was doing her best to savor every second of the season with Draco.
"I mulled some wine before I left to fetch you. Should only take a second to heat up," he said as he walked into the tiny kitchen.
"I'll start untangling the lights." Hermione dropped to her knees, then tugged off her sensible shoes and tossed them beneath the sofa. Reaching into a box, she pulled out a lump of lights and grinned. Her father never had learned to put these away correctly to prevent tangles.
"You could use a spell, you know."
Draco folded to a seated position next to her and set the mugs down on the small hearth. As he flipped on the switch for the gas heater, he magicked over a box of ornaments.
"It's more fun this way."
"If you say so."
"Really, it is."
Smirking as she began to tug on a big twist, he sipped his wine and watched her in delight.
Much later, the couple stood arms around the other in front of the tree. It leaned a bit and there were more lights at the bottom than at the top, but Hermione thought it was the most beautiful tree in the world, but it wasn't just hers. Nervously she nibbled on her lower lip and glanced up at Draco.
He was smiling, and she relaxed against him.
"I have to admit, it has a lot of charm, but it's missing one ornament." With a wave of his wand, Draco summoned a small box and held it out to Hermione.
"A present already?"
"Just a little something."
She untied the ribbon and lifted the lid off the box and then gasped softly. Nestled in cotton rested a small, glass angel carrying a banner with the words 'Our First Home' on it. "Oh, Draco, it's..." Tears flooded her eyes and she sniffled.
"I hope that means you like it."
"Silly!" Smiling through her tears, she lifted the ornament from the box and carefully placed it on the three. "Perfect."
Draco stepped up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. "Yeah." As he placed a soft kiss on her neck, snow began to fall outside, glinting through the window beside the tree. "Love you, Hermione."
"I love you, too," she whispered before turning in his arms and drawing his head down for a loving kiss.
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