Hermione would never forget the day Harry stood ashen-faced on her doorstep. Despite having fought and won a war, her husband Ron had died on a battlefield of sorts. His career as an Auror had proved to be fatal. Her three year old daughter, Rose, came running towards her, Harry's eyes flooding with tears while Hermione picked her absentmindedly up in her arms.
"Uncle Harry… Uncle Harry," she tried for attention, but Harry was telling the tale of Ron's demise. Stammering he related how he and Ron had outnumbered the group of criminals and how he had worried about hearing the dreaded Avada Kadavra that never came…
"But what… what.. did kill him?" Hermione asked, tears streaming over her cheeks as well.
"It's still a very powerful spell… I'd never heard of it…" Harry began. "Ron stumbled on his knees and it seemed as if his blood became black… poisoned somehow…. His veins became visible and he went so… so pale. When it reached his heart… that was it."
Hermione gasped. "I have… I've read about that spell somewhere… when we were searching for the horcruxes and I was reading up on Dark Magic. It has been outlawed for centuries! And… and it is nearly as fatal as…"
"Because it is so quick… It happened so fast, Hermione, there was nothing I could do… One minute he was there, by my side, and the next…" His voice faltered and Harry clasped his hands over his face, heaving with grief.
For Hermione, the news hadn't entirely sunk in yet. Her child had fallen silent in her arms, realizing her mum and uncle were not available right not now, no matter how hard she tried. Hermione tried to remember the spell and everything about it… It was fatal, although there had been a difficult counter spell and even a bezoar could provide useful as an antidote. But with the speed of the poison and fighting in the heath of battle… it would have been almost impossible to reverse.
"And to think that they escaped…" Harry moaned. "I let them go…. Only having eyes for Ron, willing him to come back to me…"
"You were outnumbered…" she soothed him. "Otherwise they would have killed you to…"
"An ancient spell, you said… Outlawed for centuries…." Harry suddenly looked up to her. "I wonder what it is were dealing with here…. Hopefully this isn't a return of… a similar kind of…"
"I couldn't tell you..." she replied. Tears streaming once more. "It could be a simple as someone reading and practicing the spell, or secretly having been taught by an elder family member…. Or as complicated as a group wishing to restore old orders and ways…."
He looked her in the eyes. "Hermione… I am so so sorry…" he whispered, burdened with guilt. They fell into each others arms, Rose stuck in the middle giggling at being squeezed in between the both of them….
How do you tell a three year old her daddy will never return? He has gone away? But whereto…? He will never come back? Daddy is on a journey but we cannot follow him?
Hermione had found it very hard, seeking solace in her job at the Ministry of Magic, where she was working on better laws for house-elf and centaur rights, while she felt guilty at her daughter spending so much time with alternately her parents or Ron's. The Weasly's had had a lot more experience of dealing with such questions, as they were also helping in raising Teddy. The grief was still too raw to help her little girl come to terms with it as well. But as time progressed, it turned out to be easier for the child than it was for her. Rose was forgetting Ron….
As hurtful and painful as it was, Hermione wondered if it was for the best… At least she got to be happy that way, not having been smashed into a thousand pieces like herself. The first year had been the worst; the pity from everyone, the sympathy from those who were close…. Sometimes it helped and sometimes it made her want to scream and disappear of the face of the earth. Her face had appeared in the papers… her child's face too… headlines such as "Poor Fatherless Child: Will Child Rearing Break Her Mother?" with a picture of her at her most tired and worn out… It was horrible, not to mention despicable.
The second year had been slightly better, only slightly, but she felt more normal again. Like she would survive, like happiness would return again one day. Harry was still her best friend, but funnily enough she had become really good friends with George as well. He missed Ron almost as much as she did and they could discuss the loss of both brothers very well together. Sometimes it felt as if he truly understood, having lost his soul mate, his twin.
His family secretly hoped for something more to develop out of it, but they both knew that wasn't the case… they were not a match for each other in that way… It was their grief that bound them so close together, nothing else.
Hermione had found a new hobby in helping him develop some of his toys, making them even better and slightly more sophisticated. Of course, she still frowned upon items designed to disturb lessons and wished he had more educational items in his shop.
"I'm not the school supply store," had been his reply to that, giving her a wink and a voiced stuffed animal, her favorite bird, a seagull, for Rose.