TITLE: Mother's Day



SUMMARY: Ron tells his daughter a story. Warning: character death.

DISCLAIMER: I no own. You no sue.

A/N: I wrote this one a while back and actually forgot about it. It's sad, I think, and I'm sorry for the angst. I don't know why, but I like this one.

"Daddy? Are you busy?" Ron Weasley set down the book he was reading and looked down at his five year old daughter. Caitlin was standing by the end of the couch, a clearly bored expression on her cherubic face.

"Never too busy for you, sweetheart. What's up?" Ron smiled as the little girl crawled onto the couch beside him, snuggling into his side.

"Tell me a story. Please."

"Alright. Once upon a time, there was a little princess..." Ron trailed off as the shaking of his daughter's head sent her chocolate curls bouncing around her face.

"Not a make believe one, Daddy. Tell me a real one. Tell me about Mommy."

Ron paused a moment, his eyes closing. Even now, five years after his wife's death, the pain was still strong, still holding his heart in a chokehold. She had been...everything. His heart, his soul, his life...lost in childbirth, of all things. Ron had been given a beautiful, perfect child, but had lost the love of his life. Hermione...I still miss you, darling. He wasn't sure if he could provide Caitlin with the information she wanted. Would his emotions hold up? He needed to be strong for Caitlin, but was it possible? A tentative touch on his arm brought him back to the present.

"Daddy? Are you okay?"

Ron nodded, blinking back tears. "I'm okay, honey. It's just that I miss Mommy very much, and it still hurts that she's not here. But I think that talking about her might help. What do you want to know?"

Caitlin considered for a moment. "What was she like?"

Ron smiled slightly. To describe Hermione Granger...a monumental task. "Well, honey, your mother was very special. She was funny, and smart, and beautiful. She was the most loving and caring person I've ever known. No one ever touched my heart the way your mother did. I was never closer to anyone in my life." As Ron continued mindless descriptions of Hermione, his thoughts drifted to a happier time in his life...almost six years earlier. He could almost hear her now...

{Ron, I've got the most incredible news. You won't believe it! Oh, sweetheart, we're having a baby!} I was so happy. To think, a baby...a child, created out of the love we share. We created life. What an amazing, awe-inspiring feeling.

And later, as her pregnancy progressed...

{...and none of my clothes fit, and I'm so fat I waddle, and I can't even shave my legs anymore! I feel so ugly and clumsy and huge. I'm HUGE, Ron!} And I reassured her that she was beautiful, the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen. And we went shopping for more lovely maternity clothes, and three women we ran into commented on how Hermione glowed and told her that pregnancy truly agreed with her. She felt beautiful after that, and she never complained again.

And then, of course, there was the day Caitlin Elisabeth Weasley came into the world.

"Ron, I'm not going to sugarcoat it." Dr. Cho Chang stood before me, wringing her hands--much the way I was used to seeing her do when we were in school It scared me that she was worried. "She's having a tough time, Ron. This is a big baby, and Hermione is a tiny lady. We're doing the best we can to make her comfortable. I'm going back in--I'll let you know if anything changes." I looked around the waiting room, seeking comfort of my own. My eyes lit on each face in turn--Hermione's mother and father, my own parents, my five brothers and their wives and children, my sister and Harry...they all looked worried, frightened. I walked over to the empty chair beside Charlie, and was none too surprised to feel his arm drop around my shoulders. Next thing I knew, I was surrounded by loving family, determined to keep me from worrying about my wife. After a while, I was beginning to feel better, when a tall man in scrubs approached.

"Ron Weasley?"

This could not be good news. I could tell from his face. I stood, fearful. "Yes. Is something wrong? Is it the baby?"

The doctor shook his head. "No, sir, the baby is fine. It's about your wife, sir. We did everything we could, but she just slipped away. There was just too much blood loss. We couldn't save her. I…I'm so sorry." With a contrite expression frozen on his face, he turned and walked away, leaving me feeling as though I had been knocked breathless. Hermione...dead? Gone? My beautiful, beloved wife, who was the center of my whole life, was gone. Time, unmeasured, passed, and then I saw Cho, sobbing, walk out of the delivery room. She was covered in blood. Hermione's blood. She walked up to me and handed me an envelope. Unable to speak through her tears, she simply squeezed my hand and collapsed into a chair amid the mourning behind me. Hands shaking, I opened the envelope and pulled out a letter. I recognized Hermione's writing immediately, and began to read.

'My darling Ron,

I know you think I worry too much, but if you are reading this, then it only means that I had good reason to worry this time. I cannot begin to explain how I thought this might happen--call it intuition. For quite some time, I've felt as though something weren't quite right. These thoughts all seemed to center around one idea--that I would not survive the birth of our child.

If you are reading this, I was right.

My love, I am so sorry I've left you. I wish there was some way to explain why, but I only know that this is in the grand scheme. Be comforted in that.

I have a strong suspicion that our child will survive; in fact, will thrive, despite my own passing. If the child is a girl, give some thought to naming her Caitlin Elisabeth. If it is a boy, I'd love it if he were named after you.

My beloved, I know you are hurting and angry, but know that when the time is right, we will be reunited and will live eternally together.

I love you, forever.'

The world has stopped turning. I stand beside the bed my wife died in, staring down at the cinnamon eyes that would never again flash me looks of amusement, aggravation, adoration. The lips that I would never again kiss, would never again see curved into a smile, would never again produce the words 'I love you'. A nurse approaches and hands me a bundle. I look down and see the tiny face of my newborn daughter, who I have decided will in fact be named Caitlin Elisabeth. She opens her eyes and regards me with her mother's clear, unwavering gaze, brown eyes bright against pale skin. The dusting of hair crowning her head is a light chestnut, and it strikes me--she looks just like her mother. And suddenly, I realize that I am completely and totally on my own. How ever will I raise this child alone? Tears of pain, loss and fear course down my cheeks. How will I go on? What in the world was the next step?

"Daddy? Are you asleep?" Caitlin tugs on her father's sleeve, and he opens his eyes to gaze into hers.

"No, Caitlin. I was just thinking."

The little girl crawls into her father's lap, laying her head against his chest, much like her mother used to do. " 'Bout what?"

"About how much you look like your mother, and about how much I love her--and you."

A few minutes of silence pass. Then, Ron speaks. "Caitlin, let's go for a ride, okay, baby?" Moments later, father and daughter are out the door.

The cemetery is quiet, the sun shining warmly on the headstones that mark the resting places of the dead. At a small plot near a beautiful old oak tree, Ron and Caitlin stop. After looking down for a moment, Caitlin steps forward and place the bouquet of flowers on the headstone. She bends and kisses the stone on her mother's name. This is routine for Caitlin-- visiting her mother's grave. Ron drops a single red rose by Caitlin's bouquet and kneels to examine the headstone.

Hermione Elizabeth Granger Weasley. Beloved daughter, wife, mother and friend.

Beloved. She certainly was. Ron kisses his fingertips and places them on the name.

"Happy Mother's Day, my love. I miss you."

Time passes, and after a softly whispered prayer, Ron wraps his fingers around Caitlin's and leads her out of the cemetery. The breeze blows softly, sweeping over them both like a loved one's kiss. They stop and look skyward. After a moment, Ron smiles.

"I love you too, sweetheart."

Together, Ron and Caitlin walk out of the graveyard.