“Could I see your right hand?” She held it out to him, and he gently traced over the scar across her palm. “Remember the night when I asked you to marry me and we–we declared our undying love for each other over blood? We both slit our palms, and put them together. My blood, your blood, remember?”
She nodded, holding back tears. He held out his right hand, palm up, for her to see.
There was the scar. “You and I both know that no one else knows about these scars. Is this proof enough for you?”
She stared at him in shock. And then promptly fainted into his arms.
Harry deftly caught her. Tonya came running out of the kitchen, ladle in hand.
“What’d you do to her?” she demanded. “If you hurt her, I swear I’ll….” She trailed off, waving the ladle threateningly.
Harry gently laid Hermione down on the couch, before turning to Tonya. “I didn’t hurt her, I merely shocked her.”
“Well, that’s just as bad as hurting her! You made her faint!” Tonya screeched, waving the ladle some more.
“Well, wouldn’t you faint if your thought to be dead fiancé suddenly appeared in your living room?” Harry returned.
“Well, yes, but that’s not the point.”
“Then what is the point?”
“Oh, forget it,” Tonya muttered, going back into the kitchen.
Harry sat down on the floor next to couch, looking at Hermione all the while. “Oh, darling,” he murmured, “how could I have ever left you?”
“You know, that’s a good question,” said Tonya, who had come back into the living room.
Harry stood up. “And why, pray tell, must you listen to my conversations?” he snapped. This caused Tonya to throw her ladle at him. It hit him in the chest. “OW!”
“Well, you deserved it. One, for leaving your wife-to-be, two, for pretending you were dead, three, for making the poor dear faint, and four, snapping at me.”
Hermione stirred. Harry and Tonya were quiet. They looked at her. Her eyes fluttered open.
“Harry?” she asked softly. Harry rushed to her side and knelt, so that he was face to face with her. “Hi.”
“Why’d you leave me?”
“Voldemort was getting closer. I didn’t want him to hurt you.” Harry kissed her cheek. “My boss…. Well, she thought that it would be better for you if I were dead. She planned it all out. I wanted to tell you so much that it was hard to keep it a secret.”
“Oh, Harry…. Where’d you go?”
“I had to leave in the dead of night. A fake me battled Lucius Malfoy and died. When I left, I went to the last place anyone would look.”
“But…. Harry, that’s where your parents died!”
“Exactly. No one would look there because that’s the last place they’d think I would go to. I changed my name and my appearance, and I kept close surveillance on you. I also corresponded with my boss, asking her every letter if I could come back to you. God, Hermi,” he whispered, using his nickname for her, “I missed you so much, it was sometimes too hard for me to keep on living without you by my side.”
There was a large sniffle behind them. Harry and Hermione looked up. Tonya stood there, her eyes shining.
“I’m sorry,” muttered Tonya, wiping her eyes. “That was just the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard. Excuse me.” She rushed off into the kitchen, where she could be heard blowing her nose. Harry grinned and continued. However, tears had sprung into Hermione’s eyes, too.
“Oh, Harry!” she cried, and hugged him tightly, letting the tears flow free. He hugged her back.
“Shh, it’s all right,” he whispered. She nodded against his chest and pulled away.
“She finally allowed me to come back to you. She notified Percy to notify you, and I sent him my watch and my note to prove to you that it was really me. Apparently, the watch did not work.”
Hermione smiled ruefully. “Nope, it didn’t.”
Harry smiled back and took her left hand in his. Gingerly, he looked at it. “You’re not wearing it,” he murmured.
“I wore it for about a year before I took it off, because I figured you were never coming back to me,” she replied softly.
“Do you still have it?” She nodded and rose.
He followed her into her bedroom, where she went to one of the cedar dressers and rummaged through the top drawer. She pulled out a small, navy blue box. “Here it is.” He took it and opened it. There the ring lay, with a diamond in the center, and two sapphires on each side.
“Oh, wow,” Hermione breathed. “I’d forgotten how beautiful it was.”
“It looked even more beautiful on your finger,” replied Harry quietly.
Hermione sighed. “I know.”
“Hermione, I want to make this work, you and me. But I don’t know if you’re up to it. It might take a lot of work.” His eyes searched hers intently.
“If it means being together again, then I’m ready to take up the challenge,” she said quietly, smiling.
“I love you,” whispered Harry, pulling her into a tight embrace.
“I love you, too,” Hermione replied against his chest.
He pulled away, gently lifting her chin. Cinnamon eyes met emerald, and then closed as the two young people shared their first kiss in four years.
“Ahem.” Harry and Hermione broke apart, somewhat startled. Tonya stood in the doorway, looking down at the floor. “Have you stopped?” she asked, not looking up.
“Yes,” replied Hermione with a grin.
“Okay,” replied Tonya, looking up at last. “I—well, you know… didn’t want to intrude, but dinner’s ready.”
“All right,” said Hermione.
“So, did y’all have a nice snog?” Tonya added, very cheerfully.
“That, mon amie, is not of your business,” replied Hermione, walking out of the room.
As they walked into the kitchen, Harry glanced around. “Hermi, what’s with all this tinsel?”
“Ask Tonya. It was her idea.”
“I like tinsel,” Tonya said, serving him.
“Welcome to the insanity of Hermione’s friend,” she added.
Harry chuckled and took a bite, before immediately spitting it back out.
“What in the world is this?”
“It was supposed to be beef stew, but I think Tonya botched it up.”
Harry and Hermione laughed.
“I’m sorry Tonya, but you know it’s true,” replied Hermione with a grin.
“Oh, fine. I suck at cooking, all right?”
“Say, why don’t we go out somewhere, my treat?” asked Harry.
“No, no, I’ll just whip up a batch of spaghetti,” said Hermione, getting up.
“No, we’re going out. I don’t want to make you work any more than you have.” Harry stood up, too.
“It’s fine, Harry! Spaghetti is easy to make, and it won’t take more than fifteen minutes.” Hermione was reaching into the cupboard. Harry caught her hand. She looked at him.
“We’re going out to eat, and I’m paying,” he said quietly, his face serious.
She sighed. “All right. But where can we go?”
“How about that little place that we used to go to all the time?”
“Harry, Tonya’s a Muggle,” Hermione whispered.
Tonya had no idea what Hermione had just said about her, but she sure wasn’t going to let it slip.
“What did you call me?” she asked, her hands on her hips.
“I said you’re trouble… it’s a seafood place; you don’t like seafood,” Hermione replied hastily.
“No, Harry! That’s so….”
“Cheap? Junky? Utterly disgusting?” Harry was grinning.
Hermione smiled and kissed his cheek. “All three. Let’s go to… Greenleaf Palace!”
Harry looked at her, his smile lighting up his face. “An absolutely splendid idea! Come, my darling, and don your finest apparel. I shall don mine, and we will send your lovely Tonya to acquire hers!”
“Meet us here at six, all right?” Hermione asked her friend.
“Of course, and I shall have decked the halls, ye bonny lass!” With that cheerful statement that made absolutely no sense at all, she left.
Hermione smiled up at her long lost lover. “That made absolutely no sense.”
He grinned. “I know.”
“And why did you get that pompous air on?”
He shrugged. “’Cause I felt like it, I guess.”
“I love you.” They kissed again.
“Perhaps we can make this work,” he murmured when they had finished.
“Yes, perhaps we can,” she replied softly, looking lovingly into his eyes.