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I always said that I would make mistakes.
I’m only human, and that’s my saving grace.

“I’m er… I’m Ron,” he answered, extending his hand awkwardly.

“Bernice,” she replied.

“I’m Violet. Are you a relative?” asked another.

“No,” he said shortly. “No, I’m er… I’m here with the Grangers’ er… daughter.”

“Hermione?” the third cried, clutching her heart. “Oh, how is the poor dear doing? When I heard the couple had both died within a week of each other due to illness… why… my heart just broke for the poor girl. Didn’t it, Ernest?” she shrieked, looking over her shoulder and calling her husband across the street. “Ernest? Ernest Pringle!!!”


“Well, didn’t it?”

“Didn’t what?” he called back.

“Didn’t my heart break for the poor Hermione?"

“No, I don’t have steak for your knee!”

“Oh, bother,” his wife sighed in frustration, turning around and suddenly putting on a sympathetic expression.

Ron turned to see Hermione coming back, a new load of boxes in her arms. He hurried to help her, saying loudly, “Let me take this, Hermione… Bernice and Violet and er… Mrs. Pringle came to see you.”

“Why… Oh, my!” she cried, feigning surprise and tipping the boxes into his waiting arms.

“Oh dear, we’re all so terribly sorry. Come, come, give old Greta a kiss,” Mrs. Pringle cooed sweetly, stretching out her arms.

Ron looked over to see Hermione give the woman a hug and a kiss on the cheek, spotting tears forming in her chocolate brown eyes. He doubled his speed and opened the back door of the car before carrying over the next load of boxes. He continued to pack away the Grangers’ things, keeping track of how the conversation was going. As soon as the women had gone past the words of sympathy and comfort and were drifting towards the more dangerous sounding “where, when, and whys”, Ron had the car filled up.

“Hermione?” he asked tentatively. “I’ve got everything. Do you want to lock up?”

“Oh, there’s no need for that,” Greta Pringle waved it away. “Just give me your keys and everything will be all set.”

Ron looked at Hermione in alarm, and Hermione gave a reassuring laugh.

“Her daughter and fiancé are buying the house, Ronald,” she said, patting him on the arm on one hand while wiping her eyes discreetly with the other. “It was a plan my parents made with her long ago… after I graduated er… school, and was off on my own.”

“Of course we assumed the trade-off would be made during much happier circumstances,” Greta Pringle mused with a little sigh. “But I suppose it can be a new beginning… Tell me,” she said, brightening a little, “Where will you be living now, darling?”

“Oh… well… er, actually, I’m going to be living with Ron and his family.”

“You are?” cried Bernice, clasping her hands and looking at Ron with a newfound adoration. “You’re to be married then?”

“And so young, too,” Violet added, but with a more critical tone.

“Oh no,” Hermione shook her head quickly, before catching herself and adding, “I mean… we will… that’s the plan, anyways,” she paused, smiling up at Ron. “But I’m hoping to get our own place and settling a little more before we do.”

Ron frowned, suddenly realizing that her logic did actually make sense, and wondering why she couldn’t have given him a simple answer like that the day before.

“Well I really hope that everything works out for you two,” Mrs. Pringle beamed, clasping Hermione’s hands tightly. “Your parents were such good people, sweetheart… It’s a pity they weren’t here to see you engaged.”

“They’re here,” Ron said quickly, slipping an arm around Hermione’s waist. “And they’re watching over us right now.”

“My, you are a sweet one,” Bernice laughed, putting a frail hand on his shoulder. “Take care of our Hermione, Ron. We may not have seen her that much, but she was constantly in our hearts.”

As they drove towards the cemetery in silence, Ron glanced carefully over at Hermione. She was leaning back in her seat with her eyes closed, but he could see tears slipping out from beneath her lashes.

“Do the er… directions say anything else?” he asked quietly, clearing his throat nervously.

“No…” she replied slowly. “It’s just on the left… It says the entrance should be marked with a wrought iron gate.”

“All right… Just like Hogwarts,” he smiled, tapping on the brake pedal as the car in front of them turned right. After a while, he looked back at Hermione and cleared his throat again. “Hermione… Is… Is everything all right? I mean, of course everything isn’t all right but other than… that… I know something else is bothering you.”

She let his words hang in the air for a few moments, and then sat up straighter, letting out a sigh. “The women were so much nicer than I anticipated, Ron… I had this horrible idea of coming back to this neighborhood I had estranged myself from, and being deluged with questions and demands… and instead… I find myself feeling like a terrible person for not even remembering Mrs. Pringle’s name…”

“Hermione, you’ve been gone for seven years-”

“That shouldn’t matter,” she cut him off sharply. “She made me chocolate chip cookies for even longer… And Bernice Dixon… she knit me this ghastly sweater the Christmas I was eight years old, and I hated it, but Mother made me wear it just to please her. She was so happy I wore it; it was all she talked about to her kids when they called on her later that night. And Violet… Violet Fairfax, I remember now,” Hermione continued, starting to giggle. “She snuck me extra Halloween candy, because she felt sorry that I had dentists for parents.”

Ron laughed along with her, glad that the tension had eased up a little.

“Oh, this must be it, Ron!” she cried as they came into view of a stately, wrought iron gate that had been pulled wide open.

He turned into the driveway and through the opening, thrown by the peaceful beauty of the cemetery.

“Where do we go now?” he asked, waiting for her to check the note the funeral director had given her.

“Er… it’s straight down until you reach a fork with a little pond to the right… Take the left and we should see the newer section.”

Ron followed her instructions, slowing down once they reached a small lawn that wasn’t as populated with tombstones as the other plots of grass.

“It must be this one,” Hermione said, putting down her things and nervously checking her reflection in the mirror.

Ron watched as she ran her fingers through her curly hair, getting rather anxious himself. The longer she took getting ready, the more he felt like he should be doing something productive as well. Finally, she put her hand on the handle and opened the door, and he got out after her.

Setting his nerves for the task before him, he walked around the car and fell into step next to Hermione. They walked slowly in silence across the grass and through the gravestones, and when she showed signs of becoming hesitant, he put a helping hand on the small of her back.

They fell to scanning the tombstones for their names, and it struck Ron once again how quiet and serene everything felt. A warm breeze blew as they walked up and down the rows, searching half-heartedly for the name.

And then, all at once and much too soon, they came upon it. There, etched in beautiful writing and cementing the fact forever in their hearts, was the name Granger, and below it, her parents’ names. For the first time, the dull ache he felt in his heart for Hermione became a real pang of emotion. Seeing the tombstone for the first time, and the way Hermione stared at it with that odd, closed expression, Ron felt very helpless. They stood that way for a long time, and then, after checking to make sure that there was not another living soul in sight, Ron pulled out his wand and conjuring a handful of white roses.

She took the roses with a weak smile, her eyes welling up with tears. As the tears overflowed, she stepped forward and knelt at the front of the stone, putting the flowers inside a bronze vase she had conjured herself and drove into the ground beside her mother’s name. She did not get up, but remained kneeling before the tombstone, crying with her face hidden in her hands.

Resisting the urge to comfort her as she rocked back and forth in anguish, Ron walked up to the gravestone on her father’s side, taking a steadying breath. Feeling it was better to make the request silently, he thought it out in his mind, closing his eyes and willing his future father-in-law to give his blessings from above.

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