When Hermione got to the kitchen the next morning, she was surprised to see Harry cooking bacon and eggs. “Sit down you; it will be ready in a minute.” Ginny brought her a cup of coffee.
“I normally have tea in the morning, but never mind.” Ginny giggled, waved her wand. Hermione took a sip of her tea.
“Anything particular planned for today. We need to be back by four.” said Harry, shovelling bacon onto the plates. “You should get yourself a house-elf Hermione.” He saw her frown, and then remembered S. P. E. W. “Oops, sorry.” She relaxed.
“When we finish here, I thought we might take a walk. After last night I think we could all use some fresh air.”
“Sounds good to me,” said Ginny, “I feel a little fuzzy this morning.”
They strolled in the sunshine, chatting idly. When they reached the church Hermione turned into the small cemetery. The others followed her to a corner where stood three white military headstones. The centre one was engraved with Robbie’s regimental crest, his rank and name. Ginny looked around the tree shaded area was cool and pleasant. “Here he is.” said Hermione.
“It’s nice that he’s so close Hermione, you must spend a lot of time here.”
“Actually I don’t. I don’t need to come here to remember Robbie. I do that every day no matter where I am. There’s one girl I know who goes to her husband’s grave three times a week. Same days, same time, three times a week. She never misses. I couldn’t do that. Sometimes I go two months without coming here, even though it’s only a ten minute walk. As it’s a small cemetery, Alfie looks after it himself. He won’t take payment so I help out with anything I can. I’ve done a lot of grief counselling for him.” They walked into the town, and stopped for coffee. As they drank their coffee, Hermione pointed at Ginny, “You are sitting where I was when Robbie started talking to me that day fifteen years ago. This is where it all started.” Harry asked the question he and Ginny had talked about.
“Are you happy, Hermione?” She thought for a while,
“I suppose that depends on how you define ‘happy’. I consider myself fortunate in most respects. All in all I’ve got a good life, a good career and a daughter of whom I am inordinately proud. I’m proud of the work I put in to get here. If Robbie was still here it would be perfect. In that case, yes, I would be very happy. Let’s just say I am content. Yes, that’s the word Harry, content, very content. Apart from losing Robbie, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
“I’m very glad to hear that. We won’t have to worry about you anymore, now that we know what you’re doing. Another question, Robbie asked if she could come to visit us in the holidays, she wants to know more about her mother you see, and apparently trying to get it from you is like pulling teeth. I told her to clear it with you and she’d be welcome. I also told her that we would not tell her anything that you didn’t want us to. So can she come and what do you want us to keep quiet about?”
“Of course she can visit you, but as to the subject matter I’ll leave that to your discretion. Just don’t embarrass me too much. Promise me one thing though.”
“Anything Hermione, you know that.”
“Promise you won’t try to influence the decision she will have to make in a couple of years. If you can’t promise that, I won’t let her come.”
“It would never have occurred to me to do that, so yes, I promise we won’t.”
Back at the house Harry and Ginny spent an hour getting ready to depart. She signed Robbie’s poster simply To Robbie, with love, Aunty Ginevra. Hermione wrote similar dedications in two copies of her book, and gave another copy for Hogwarts. At half past three they were all in the kitchen. “Harry, Ginny, I’ve had the best weekend for a long, long time. I think I needed it more than I knew. I’ve spoken of things that used to hurt me to think about and I think it’s done me good. So thanks for coming. Can I ask you one last favour?”
“Of course you can.” said Ginny. Hermione produced an envelope.
“Would you give this to Ron? It’s just some things I feel I ought to say to him.” Harry took the letter,
“No problem at all. Well, we’d better be off. Hermione, we’ve had a great weekend. Please don’t let it be another fifteen years. I mean, I’ll be an old man, we’ll have three more kids…”
“In your dreams Potter. You can have the next one if you want to, but leave me out of it.” said Ginny sternly. “You got the ‘old man’ bit correct. He is right though Hermione, not another fifteen years please. I told you fifteen years ago our door was always open for you. It still is.”
“Thank you Ginny. I’ll see you King’s Cross at the start of each term, for the next couple of years at least. After that, I don’t know. It all depends on what Robbie does I suppose. Thank you again for coming, I’ve really enjoyed it. Do you mind if I kiss your husband?”
“If you are still his sister then okay. Come here first.” Ginny’s voice choked as she embraced her friend. “Goodbye Hermione, I love you.” Hermione responded in kind and turned to Harry. Her voice was quiet, almost a whisper and starting to break,
“Harry… my little brother… what can I say, this is so hard.”
“You’ve been through a lot harder than this, Hermione, and come up smiling. I love you lots big sister, you take care of yourself and we’ll see you at Kings Cross. Can I have that kiss now?” They held each other tightly, neither wanting to be the one to let go. Harry knew he had to, kissed her once more and went to stand beside Ginny. He said simply, but emotionally and echoed by Ginny, “Bye Hermione, love you.” Then they vanished.
Sixty years later.
Hermione put down the book she had been reading and settled herself back on her pillows. Then turned her head and looked at the photo on her bedside table. “Goodnight my love, see you tomorrow.” Her eyes closed and she drifted slowly towards sleep thinking, as she always did, of Robbie. She didn’t know how long she slept, but her eyes opened slowly as she heard a voice call softly,
“Hermione” she looked around the room and there at the end of her bed was a figure. Jeans and T-shirt. Exactly as she had last seen him. Looking at her with those eyes, oh those eyes.
“Robbie?” The figure came around the bed and sat beside her. “Is it really you, am I dreaming? Are you really here?”
“I’ve always been here Hermione; I can tell you what you’ve been doing for every second of every minute of every day for the last seventy five years.” He took her hand and although she had no sensation of touch from his hand, she felt the kiss as he lifted her hand to his lips.
“But why now, why not show yourself to me before?”
“It’s time my love. Time for you to come with me.” She felt herself rising and together they stood by the bed. She looked down at the figure still lying there. The old lady with her eyes closed and a beautiful smile on her face.
Dr. Hermione Jean MacDonald MA. PhD. Lady MacDonald of Ottery St. Catchpole. Order of Merlin. Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother, historian, author of five books, TV presenter. She had been an adviser on education to two governments; and when she talked, they listened. A seat on the crossbenches of the House of Lords had followed.
She was beautiful when she smiled.
“Robbie am I…” She realised that she could now feel his touch.
“You are exactly as you were when we said goodbye, Hermione.” He said smilingly. Eighteen year old Hermione smiled back at him.
“I never stopped loving you, Robbie.”
“I know. We had a wonderful child Hermione. You should be very proud of what you achieved with Roberta. I’m so proud of the pair of you. I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there for you. Now that’s all in the past. I love you very much Hermione, we’ll never be parted again. So come on, let’s go.”
“Where are we go…?”
“Don’t be afraid my love. I’m here, I have always been here, I will always be here. Right beside you. Don’t be afraid, you’ll like it.” His strong arms encircled her and held her close as a brilliant white light enveloped them. She smiled into his eyes, those eyes. God, how she had missed those eyes.
She was beautiful when she smiled.
People cry at funerals.
People cry at funerals. It may not be written down anywhere but it’s a universal law. Besides her family, a large congregation of Britain’s top academics had assembled at the graveside for the funeral of Hermione MacDonald. Outside of her daughter and son-in-law, none of them knew Hermione’s biggest secret. She was, or had been, the brightest witch of her age. None of Roberta’s three children had any magical ability. At the back of the congregation a group of eight people, all nonagenarians, stayed a little apart from all the others. The service completed, the people began to disperse until one woman remained. This woman approached one of the eight.
“Hello, Uncle Harry, Aunty Gin. It’s good to see you again. Thank you so much for coming.” Harry smiled at Roberta MacDonald.
“Hello Robbie, Good to see you too. I’m just sorry it’s under these circumstances.”
“We all are, Robbie.” Said Ginny. “I don’t believe you know these people, allow me to…” Robbie looked up and down the line.
“Actually Aunty Gin. I think I do. Let’s see if I can identify them.” She shook hands with the next in line, a tall well built man with red hair, streaked with silver. “Obviously a Weasley. You are Aunty Ginny’s brother, Ron, aren’t you? I’m slightly surprised to see you after…”
“I’ve been over that for many, many years Robbie; it worked out well for both of us, apart from the loss of your father, of course. I’m not holding any grudges or anything like that. I loved your mother but it wasn’t meant to be. This is…” Taking the woman’s hand Robbie said,
“Katie um… Bell, as was. Ron’s wife. Mother of Hugo and Rose. Good to meet you, Katie.”
“You too, Robbie.” Replied Katie. Robbie looked at Ginny,
“So far, so good.” She smiled. Like her mother Robbie was beautiful when she smiled. The next person was a tall grey-haired man with a weather-beaten appearance. Taking his hand, she felt the roughened skin and callouses, “How do you do, Neville Longbottom, nice to meet you, again. I haven’t seen you since I left Hogwarts. I don’t know how, but you managed to make Herbology interesting.”
“Hello, Roberta. I’m sorry we get to meet again like this. Hermione was a very special person in our lives. We all missed her when she decided to leave us.”
“Thank you Neville. I appreciate that. Now then…” this to the grey-haired, dark skinned woman who was standing next to Neville. “You must be either Parvati or Padma, yes?”
“Parvati Longbottom, Robbie. Your mother was a very special friend to me and my sister at Hogwarts.”
“Thank you, Parvati. I didn’t know you and Neville had married.” Robbie looked at the next man. He was short, plump and balding.
“Hi Seamus, with that accent you couldn’t be anyone else. Pleased to meet you.” She was puzzled by the last woman, “Hmm, red hair, but not I think, a Weasley because Aunty Ginny was the only girl. Susan? Yes, Susan Bones.”
“Finnegan now Robbie, your Mum was a great source of comfort when my mother was killed. That’s why I’m here today.”
Robbie addressed the group. “I must thank you all for coming today. Mum would have been so pleased. I feel as though I’ve known all of you all my life. Mum loved you all; she talked of you all the time. She wouldn’t want you to be sad, she’ll be so happy being with Dad again. Will you be coming to the house? We’re having a small reception.”
Harry spoke for them all, “If you’ll excuse us, we won’t, Robbie. We just want to have a few private moments with Hermione and then we’ll go.”
“Okay. I’ll come and see you soon, I promise.” She reached into her handbag and took out Hermione’s wand. Mum wanted you to have this. It’s the one she got in Ollivanders all those years ago. I know you’ll treasure it. It couldn’t be in better hands. Thanks again for being here, I appreciate it. Goodbye for now.” She kissed Harry and Ginny and walked slowly away.
The group walked slowly to the now deserted graveside. Ginny’s composure deserted her and she broke down in tears. She buried her head in Harry’s chest, not wanting to look into the hole in the ground at the coffin containing the mortal remains of her best friend. “Ginny love, there’s something I have to do. Stand with Ron for a minute.”
Harry went to the end of the grave, his own composure weakening rapidly. On his right was the mound of earth, ready for the final act. “I love you, Hermione.” He murmured, “Since you first repaired my glasses on the train. God give you peace, my love. Goodbye.” Using his wand he produced a wreath of brightly coloured flowers, from a pocket came a white card about six inches square. He placed it on the wreath and switched to Hermione’s wand. It was to perform its last act of magic. Pointing it at the card he muttered ‘Revelio’. A series of ancient runes appeared on the card. Harry had done the research and translated for the others. There was not a dry eye amongst them. He choked out the words,
You had the courage to fight. Against the odds.
You had the courage to win. Against the odds.
You had the courage to love. Against the odds.
You had the courage to live. Against the odds.
You gave freely of yourself to any and all.
The love you gave was returned in equal measure.
You will be remembered with love and honour always.
You were so beautiful when you smiled.
Farewell dear soul, until we meet again.’
Nearby and unseen, Hermione smiled at her friends.
She was beautiful when she smiled.
Author. That’s it, dear readers. The tale is done. If you have stuck with it all the way, thank you. Please leave a review, they do help.
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