Chapter One: Back to The Burrow
The sunlight streamed through the blackthorn's branches and fell upon the withered leaves covering Ronald's grave, still frozen from winter's harshness.
Hermione brushed the decayed foliage gently from her husband's mound, her tears pouring down her cheeks, but she would give no sound to her grief. She forbade herself.
And so the teardrops fell, one by one, absorbed slowly by the thawing earth's pores.
Upon receiving news of Ron's death - no, murder - for she would never, ever, accept it as anything else - the mere thought of the phrase 'in the line of duty' was still a fresh desecration to her - she had mourned three days uncontrollably like a wild beast.
Ginny had watched over little Rose and Hugo along with her own children, while Harry had wrestled and held Hermione, on and off, in between her thrashing and screaming, her beating his chest as if he were the Auror department incarnate, the sole cause and agent of Ron's death, and if she just beat hard enough, Ron would come back to life.
Like a Time-Turner, she had thought she could go back in time and make everything all right again. She always could. She always had taken care of others, always had been able to right a wrong.
But I wasn't there for you, Ronald, I wasn't there...
No one had been there at the showdown between Auror Weasley and the Death Eater, previously on the run, but then cornered, duelling to the death, Rodolphus Lestrange. The notorious Lestrange's last act of murder, before being forever erased as a threat to society by Longbottom's avenged Killing Curse on the loathsome fugitive, was cast and carried out in a blink of an eye on the young father of two.
That ill-fated Auror mission had been last early autumn, even though it seemed to Hermione as if it were just yesterday as she knelt and swept around the thawing grave, plucking randomly here and there at withered weeds and dried twigs.
Now, with the first whispers of springtime approaching, Hermione knelt beside her husband's tomb and concentrated on sharing with him the most recent family news.
"Ronald, we're going home," whispered Hermione, tucking an uncontrollable, frizzy lock behind her ear.
"Little Rose and Hugo and I, we're going back to The Burrow."
Attempting to control her quivering lips and cracking voice, she forced herself to continue and determinedly repeated, "We're going back home..."
Her frame shook, and Hermione could do naught but give over to the wave of pain and loss, rearing up with a vengeance.
So, she sat on the cold ground, blotched with sparse dead grass and pebbled mud, and wept aloud as if she had just thrown the first fist of dirt on his bare casket.