A New Grace

I'll See You Around

They see each other at funerals mainly that first couple of weeks – and there are far too many of them.

Susan's is the worst, and Hannah finds herself on her own afterwards in the garden behind the Bones' little house. She has said all the right things to Susan's parents, about what a good friend Susan was, about how she helped people so much that last year when they were frightened and hurting, about how she died so bravely. It is all true, but it is not enough, not nearly enough, and Hannah knows it. Suddenly, she doesn't want anything except to be at home in her own bed with her battered teddy bear and a good sleeping potion and a bit of space to stop thinking in.

There is a footstep behind her and she groans inwardly. She doesn't want to talk right now.

But the voice when it comes is quiet and familiar and oddly comforting. Neville. Somehow, all through this dreadful year, he has managed to make things seem better than they really are.

"Are you okay?" he asks quietly, and she shakes her head without speaking because – even in front of Neville, who would probably not mind too much, and who would understand because Susan was his comrade too – she does not want to start crying again.

He comes and puts a tentative hand on her arm, and without thinking she turns and buries her face in his shoulder. He pats her back awkwardly as she cries, but does not say anything, which Hannah finds helps somehow. So many people have tried to put things right this week by words, and it never works.

Finally she manages to stop crying, and she scrubs at her eyes with her hands and looks at him helplessly. "Will you take me home?" she asks, and he says, "Yes, of course, if you want me to," as if her asking is the most natural thing in the world.

He takes her arm and Side-Alongs her to the garden behind her house. She sees her father's anxious face in the kitchen window as he hears the crack of their Apparition.

She turns to Neville with a watery smile and says, "Thanks." It is all she can manage, but he doesn't seem to mind.

"Any time," he says, giving her a quick hug and a peck on the cheek. "I'll see you around, Hannah."

He is gone before she can say goodbye.