This particular day, she was so completely absorbed in staring at the old photo that she didn’t hear Ron Apparate into the hallway, finally home from a long day at work. She didn’t hear him call her name several times in confusion, nor did she hear when he stepped into the living room and quickly made his way over to the sofa. The first time she noticed his presence was when he sat down beside her gently and wrapped a comforting arm around her shoulders.
“Are you all right?” he asked softly.
Hermione nodded her head in response, but even as she did so, more tears fell from her eyes. She tried to hold it together, to keep her tears silent instead of starting to sob again, but it was no use.
“Hey,” Ron said immediately, leaning over and wiping the tears off his wife’s cheek. When he’d caught every last one of them he wrapped his other arm around Hermione and pulled her into a tight hug. In response, she leaned her head against his shoulder and cried for several moments.
When it seemed as though her tears were beginning to subside, Ron decided to chance asking a question, hoping it wouldn’t hurt or upset her even further. “What happened?” he asked, still holding her close.
“Luna came in to visit me at the office today,” she began, half-speaking, half-sobbing. “She was telling me all about the lovely vacation she and Rolf have just had with their sons. And I’m happy for her, but hearing about her vacation made me think of all the vacations my parents and I took, and of course that got me thinking about my Dad, and… well, you know what happened then. I had to leave work early because I was so upset. I stopped by your Mum’s to pick up Rosie and Hugo, but when she saw how upset I was, your Mum insisted that she keep the kids for a while longer, so I could have some alone time. ”
“Well, you know Mum,” Ron replied jokingly. “She’s always looking for an excuse to keep her grandchildren even longer.” He hoped this statement would at least get a smile out of his wife, and it worked.
“That’s true,” Hermione agreed with a laugh. She raised her head up off of Ron’s shoulders and leaned back out of his embrace, before using the tips of her fingers to wipe away the fresh tears that had fallen.
A moment of silence passed between the couple as Hermione tried to regain her composure, and Ron desperately wished he knew how to ease his wife’s pain. He rattled his brain for several moments, trying to find just the right thing to say, but just as he was about to open his mouth to speak, Hermione continued.
“You know, I remember a place my Dad took me one year,” she said. “My Mum was ill – it was just me and him. Phelps National Park. It was really a lovely place, and we had such a wonderful time. We fished and hiked… even though my Mum wasn’t there, that was my favorite vacation.”
Ron noticed that as she spoke, she had a glossy, nostalgic look in her eyes, and she stared off into the space of their living room, as though she were visualizing the park. He wasn’t sure if it was that look on her face or just a whim, but something caused an idea to come to him suddenly and he decided to just run with it. If Hermione missed her Dad and this place made her think of her Dad, perhaps visiting it would make her feel better.
“Why don’t we go there?” he asked.
“Wh- What?” Hermione asked, befuddled.
“Yeah,” Ron answered. “Why don’t you take me there? You, me, and the kids; we’ll take a trip this weekend.”
Hermione’s eyes widened. She was flustered and surprised at this sudden, spontaneous idea, but the thought of going back to a special place her father had taken her suddenly made her feel less sad. Still though, her more dominant logical side wasn’t sure. “I- I don’t know, Ron,” she said slowly. “There’s a lot of work I need to do around the house, and it takes a lot of time to plan a trip like that…”
“I’ll help you!” Ron interrupted, taking her by the hands. “I’ll help you clean the house before we go, and I’ll help you plan the trip; I’ll do it all. Just please, let me do this for you.”
Hermione’s mouth opened and closed several times, but no words came out. When she hadn’t managed to form a sentence a few moments later, Ron spoke again. “’Mione,” he said, “just say yes.”
Hermione smiled from ear to ear. “Okay then, yes,” she replied. She then leaned forward and hugged Ron tightly, with the photo of her and her father still clutched in her right hand.
The following Saturday morning, the Weasley household was bustling with activity. Ron was busy putting four brand-new fishing poles into the trunk of the family car, and Hermione was rushing around after Rose and Hugo, trying to ensure that they were ready for the journey ahead.
When it seemed as though everything and everyone was ready to go, Hermione quickly walked through the house one last time, making sure that everything was in order. When she passed Ron, Rose and Hugo in the kitchen, she asked her husband to go ahead and put the children in their car seats while she locked up.
As Hermione stepped out through the front door and prepared to lock it, she realized that she didn’t have her keys, her wand, or the map and directions they would need to help them reach their destination. Feeling flustered, she rushed back inside and into the kitchen, where she realized she’d left all of those things sitting on the counter. When she reached the counter, however, she found only her wand. She pocketed it quickly before rushing towards the front door again.
“Ron!” she called out to her husband, who was still busy trying to get Rose to sit in her car seat properly. When he didn’t answer, she yelled a little louder. “RON!”
“Just a minute, ‘Mione. I’m a little busy!” he replied.
“Where are the keys and the map?” she called in response.
“The map’s in the front seat, and the keys are in my pocket,” Ron answered. When his wife heard this, she marched over to stand next to her husband and waited for him to finish securing Rose into her safety seat. As soon as Ron leaned out of the car and stood up, Hermione outstretched her hand.
“What?” Ron asked.
“Give me the keys,” Hermione said flatly.
“But I thought I’d drive!” Ron responded defensively.
“You don’t have your driver’s license!” Hermione exclaimed.
“Oh come on, ‘Mione. If I can drive a flying car, driving this will be a piece of cake,” Ron answered.
“Piece of cake or not, it’s against Muggle Law!” Hermione replied. “Besides, I need the keys to lock the front door anyway.”
At this, Ron let out a loud huff and dug the keys out of his left pocket, before placing them in his wife’s palm. As Hermione made her way to the front door of their home and locked it, Ron took his place in the passenger’s seat.
“I don’t see why we have to travel the ‘Muggle’ way anyhow,” Ron sulked as Hermione entered the car. “Wouldn’t it be much faster if we Apparated or used the Floo Network?”
“You’re only saying that because you’re upset that you can’t drive,” Hermione answered with a chuckle. “But no, we can’t Floo or Apparate there… it’s a Muggle park. And besides, when I went there with my Dad, we rode in a car. It’ll be more like old times this way.”
An hour and a half later, Hermione was frustrated beyond belief, and she was beginning to wonder if they’d ever reach Phelps National Park. The family had clearly spent too much time cooped up in the small vehicle; Rose was kicking the back of Ron’s seat, causing her father to scold her loudly, and the racket was disturbing little Hugo, who was crying non-stop. In the midst of all this, Hermione was stopped at an intersection, and she had no idea which way to go because Ron was too busy scolding Rose to read her the next step of the directions.
“If you all don’t get quiet right now, I’m going to turn this car around and we’ll head straight home!” Hermione said sternly, finally having had enough. Immediately all the other noise in the car, except for Hugo’s crying, ceased.
Now having some peace and quiet to help her concentrate, Hermione was able to get the situation under control. “Rose,” she began, “If you don’t stop kicking Daddy’s seat and be a good little girl until we get there, you won’t be allowed to go and see Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry tomorrow. And that means you won’t get to play with Al. Do you understand?”
Seeming to fear this punishment, Rose nodded her head silently. Then she sat up in her seat a little straighter and folded her hands across her lap.
“Good girl,” Hermione said with a smile. “Now, Ronald, would you please tell me the next step on the directions?” she asked.
“Oh, yeah,” Ron replied. He looked down at the paper in his hands for a moment before saying, “It’s this road here, to the right”.
“Thank you,” Hermione replied. “Now could you please tend to Hugo?”
“Yeah, sure,” Ron answered. He opened his mouth as though he was going to say something else, but Hermione gave him a look not to test, and he quickly changed his mind.
Thirty minutes later, the much quieter, calmer Weasleys pulled into the parking lot next to a sign marked Phelps National Park. Hermione was surprised to find that there were no other cars in the parking lot, especially with it being a Saturday, but she didn’t think much else of it until the four of them had scrambled out of the car and were standing in the Park’s Office.
“Is there a fee to enter the park?” she asked the grey-haired man seated at the desk. “We’re interested in fishing and hiking.”
“No Ma’am, there’s no fee, but I’m afraid you won’t be able to do any fishing or hiking today.”
Hermione’s heart sank. “Why not?” she asked with furrowed eyebrows.
“It’s all this rain lately,” the man replied. “It’s raised the water in the lake by quite a bit… you can’t even get to the boat ramp; can just barely make it to the pier. But you can’t fish off of that either, ‘cause the water’s so choppy today. And all the hiking trails are flooded in at least one spot.”
Ron, seeming to sense his wife’s disappointment at this news, decided to intervene. “Well if that’s the case, why isn’t there a sign out front that says Closed?”
“Because we’re not closed,” the man answered. “We’ve still got some dry camp sites… can I interest you all in one of those?”
“No, no thank you,” Hermione answered quickly before turning and walking out of the door.
Ron hurried after his wife, with Hugo in his arms and Rose following closely behind him. “’Mione? ‘Mione!” he called.
Instead of answering or even turning to face him, Hermione kept walking until she reached the car. But rather than open the door, she folded her arms across the hood and laid her head in them, heartbroken and frustrated. Though she fought them, tears slowly made their way to the corners of her eyes once again.
When Ron reached her, he wrapped his Hugo-free arm around her waist and kissed her head. “It’s all right, love,” he whispered softly.
“No it’s not!” Hermione sobbed. “I just wanted to come here to remember my Dad! I drove us all the way out here, and for nothing… we’ve wasted an entire day!”
“No, no we haven’t,” Ron replied. “You’re right; we came out here to remember your Dad… we don’t have to be able to fish or hike to do that. Just the fact that we came here, to somewhere your Dad took you when you were younger, that’s enough.”
Hermione stopped crying and looked up at Ron. “Really?” she asked. “You mean you’re not upset that we can’t go fishing or hiking? You’re not mad that we drove two hours to come to a park that’s closed?”
“No,” Ron answered. “We can always come back another day to do those things. Today was just for you; you miss your Dad terribly, and this was a special place for the two of you. Even if we can’t fish, maybe we can just sit on the pier and watch the water. And you can tell me and Hugo and Rosie about all the things you did with your Dad when you were here.”
Hermione’s lower lip quivered. Even if he could be annoying at times, Ron was so sweet and considerate… she knew she was a lucky woman. “You’re right,” she said a moment later.
With that, she leaned up off of the car and took Ron’s hand. Together with their children, the two of them made their way down the dirt path that led to the pier. As they sat near the water’s edge, Hermione told Ron and Rose, and even little Hugo, how she and her father had caught tons of fish there when she was younger, and how they had hiked nearly every trail at the park.
All in all, it wasn’t a wasted day, after all. The family had a great time and spent quite a while seated on that pier, laughing and talking. Truthfully, they were all quite sad when their hunger got the better of them and they had to leave.
As they made their way to the car, Hermione thanked Ron for his thoughtfulness and for convincing her to come on this trip.
“You’re welcome, love,” he said with a smile. He paused for a moment before continuing. “By the way, ‘Mione,” he said, “I know it was really frustrating for you driving all the way down here. I could drive back, if you like.”
“Nice try Ronald, but not a chance,” she answered with a smile.