She knew what she had to do. From the moment she had seen them kissing the night before, the moment she'd felt her stomach plummet to the ground, her heart about to follow. She had to end it, there was no way she could trust him anymore, even though a few days ago she would have gladly told anyone that she trusted him with her life.
She lowered her head for a moment and tried to collect her thoughts. As she raised her head she noticed Ron drawing nearer from across the unsurprisingly busy common room; everyone was packing and preparing to go home for the summer.
She and her friends were getting ready to leave the place they called home for the past seven years; they were graduating. Hermione felt a pit forming in her stomach as if she had already left Hogwarts. It was their last day; all that was left to occupy their remaining hours at school was spending time out on the grounds with everyone, the end of term feast, and the party in the common room. Then they'd be gone, gone for good.
She could feel the pit in her stomach growing as she thought about leaving but it was nothing compared to the hole forming in her heart, the hole she knew would be there right after she said those dreadful words to Ron.
He was very near now and she took a very deep breath to steady herself. There he was, Ronald Weasley, so funny and so smart yet sometimes clueless, and just so...himself.
"Morning Hermione. Merlin I'm bloody starved. Ready?" he asked her.
He then grabbed her hand and took a few steps toward the common room exit, stopping promptly when Hermione did not make an effort to follow. He turned around and raised his eyebrows in confusion.
"Oh. Duh, sorry." He walked back over to her and planted a sloppy but passionate kiss on her lips and Hermione nearly forgot the anger that was welled up inside her. Nearly. When she didn't kiss him back he took a step away from her and once again furrowed his brow in thought.
"Ok, well how about this: I love you, let's go," he blushed when he realized what he'd said.
Hermione was startled, her mouth hung open slightly at his words. He may have been joking but it was the first time he'd said those, now quite trivial, words to her. She shut her mouth quickly and as the initial shock wore off she felt herself fill with renewed anger.
"You call love snogging Lavender Brown, your ex-girlfriend?" she said shrilly.
It was Ron's turn to lose his thoughts and he felt his eyes begin to prickle, which annoyed him.
"I saw you Ron," she shouted, not really meaning to; she had limited control over her actions at this point.
"Er...Hermione, come on, you know it didn't mean anything," he finished halfheartedly, knowing he'd just made things twenty times worse. Not only did he snog another girl, but also now it looked as though he had for no reason, for just a bit of fun.
"Ah well that explains it. So you just thought you'd get in a nice make out session on the side while I'm at Head girl duties did you?"
Her eyes began to water and she scolded herself for appearing weak. She had promised herself to act unperturbed and to break it off with Ron as if it hadn't mattered that he had not taken their relationship seriously and had dishonored her. As if it hadn't mattered that he'd taken her feelings and cast them aside as if they were some gross sweets he hadn't liked enough to keep and savor.
"Mione, it wasn't like that," he said in a weak and pleading voice she wasn't very accustomed to.
"Yes, I'm sure Ronald," she said bitterly, the tears now streaming down her face.
She was crying and she knew that made her appear weak, and she didn't want him to see her as weak. So she said the words she never wanted to utter, the ridiculous and stupid words she hated to hear come from her mouth.
"This isn't working for me anymore Ronald. I'm afraid we're done."
The silence ensuing her statement rung obnoxiously in both of their ears as they both wished they could start the morning over afresh.
She waited for a few seconds for him to object, but when he didn't she let out one last loud sob and hurried up to her dorm in a flash of bushy brown hair.
"What the hell were you thinking?" Harry bellowed at him loudly.
Ron had sought out Harry immediately after the shock of Hermione breaking it off with him had subsided a bit. He had dragged him away from Ginny to go outside; repeating over and over that he needed to talk to someone.
Harry probably wouldn't have followed him, he wanted to spend time with Ginny on the last day of school, but he caught the desperate look and pale features on his best friends face and followed Ron, though not without some annoyed grumbling.
Meanwhile, Ron had just told Harry what he'd done, not without difficulty.
Ron hung his head before replying "I don't know, it was just getting so serious between us Harry...I was freaked out and did something really stupid."
"You're bloody right it was stupid! You're just lucky she managed to remain calm when she saw Lavender, otherwise you would probably be up in the hospital wing right now."
"Not helping," Ron muttered through clenched teeth and he felt that he might be sick, he was finally coming to terms with the fact that Hermione had just dumped him.
Harry's demeanor softened a bit but he was still shooting an unpleasant glare at Ron. Harry had the strongest urge to hurt Ron, to bypass his wand and just punch him as hard as he could in the stomach...but the look on Ron's face helped him remain composed. He knew Ron was in pain, and even though he deserved it, Ron was his best mate.
"What do you mean it was getting too serious between you and Hermione? Come on mate, it's not like she's asked you to marry her or anything."
Ron turned red at this and Harry continued in a high pitched voice, "WHAT? She asked you to marry her?"
"Merlin no, you know Hermione's not like that...but er..." he was cut off by Harry quite abruptly.
"YOU ASKED HER TO MARRY YOU?"
"Almost!" Ron's face turned an even a deeper shade of red and he looked like he was about to be sick. "It really freaked me out Harry, I can't think straight when I'm around her sometimes. We are about to graduate and Hermione is going to be busy with healer training and me with Auror training, and I nearly asked her. I'm not ready for that kind of stuff...and shit, I just thought that if I snogged someone else then maybe it would take away some of the intensity and seriousness of my relationship with Hermione." Ron pulled something shiny out of his pants pocket and held it tightly in his hand.
"That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard, including the time…" Harry stopped suddenly and looked at Ron's hand. "You even bought her a ring?"
Ron's face reddened, "It's real cheap…I saw it in Hogsmeade, and it kind of went with the outfit she was wearing that day. I was going to ask her last night…"
Harry just stood gaping at him and slowly extended his hand out. Ron dropped the ring in his palm and Harry examined it closely.
"She would've liked it mate," he said trying to keep his best friend's hope from crashing.
"I've got to get her back," he sounded desperate and Harry nearly felt bad for him.
"Just write her a letter or talk to her at the end of term party tonight." Harry said it as if it was going to be easy, but Ron knew it wouldn't be.
When he had kissed Lavender he should have realized that it could cause something deeper to happen to his and Hermione's relationship ...something permanent.
"But if I find out that you screw everything up more, Merlin help me Ron, I will pummel you."
Harry had meant it to be funny, he hated seeing his best friend so distressed, and he knew that if Ron didn't work everything out with Hermione, Ron would act this depressed every day to follow.
Harry didn't need that, especially since he was going to be with Ron about six days a week at Auror training. Ron didn't take it as a joke though and merely shook his head and told him to go find Ginny and that he had some serious writing to do.
Once Ron had made his way up to his dormitory he pulled out a piece of parchment and an old quill he had borrowed from Hermione just two days ago and sighed.
He began writing in his untidy yet legible scrawl, just writing "Hermione" at first and then pausing. He felt like such a huge prat, chasing after a girl, but this wasn't just any girl. His eyes became blurry and he realized that this was his last chance. He shook his head before touching his quill to the rough piece of parchment once more.
'I hope you read this. I guess I'll just skip to the reason why I did the stupid thing I did, and hope that you can understand it, if only a bit. The feelings between us were becoming much deeper, I was getting scared. I well... you know snogged Lavender to try and tone down those feelings. It didn't work and I realized that I'd have to accept that things were becoming stronger between us, and I can accept it all now. I can accept it because I realize that I, well you know, this may sound a bit dodgy; but I love you.'
He was a bit surprised at how the words had flowed from his mind, through his arm, and onto the parchment so effortlessly. Yet the effortlessness made him all the more confident. He signed his name at the end of the note and folded the parchment hastily before sticking it in his jeans pocket for later.
He laid back on his bed and before he knew it he was fast asleep. He woke up when he heard a loud bang and immediately recognized the sound to be one of his twin brother's firework products; meaning the end of term party had begun in the common room.
He jumped out of his four poster; it was the time. Time...it was so important.
He rushed in front of the mirror and tried to flatten his hair and rub out the wrinkles in his jumper. It was a lost cause so he shrugged and bolted down the dormitory stairs unceremoniously.
Once he'd reached the bottom of the stairs he realized that the party was at its height, nicked Butterbeer and sweets were scattered around the room and it was pact. Fireworks were going off in every corner at the same time Seamus and Dean were singing the Hogwarts school song while adding in a few of their own versus which would for sure have given them a ticket straight to detention if they weren't graduating and if there were teachers around.
Ron looked around and noticed that none of the girls were giving him dirty looks, not even Ginny, so obviously neither Harry nor Hermione had mentioned anything to anyone.
Ron looked around desperately for Hermione and finally spotted her talking to Harry, they each sported a Butterbeer in their clutches. She was wearing a black skirt and a white jumper, looking beautiful, and when he noticed the S.P.E.W. badge on her chest he almost laughed at her last minute attempt to spread the word of House elf cruelty.
He wanted to march up to her and hand her the letter but he was too overwhelmed with nervousness and the image of her just that morning crying, to actually do so. He grabbed the note out of his pocket and then his wand and levitated it across the room toward Hermione, all the while praying she'd read it.
He saw Hermione look up in fright at the sudden parchment hitting her in the arm. She stopped talking to Harry and looked at Ron with an unreadable expression on her face. It was as though everyone around them froze as they stared into each other's eyes for what seemed like hours.
But then the moment was gone as she tore her eyes from Ron's and the bustle of the room returned. She took the parchment out of the space beside her and looked at it with longing, wanting to read it with every fiber of her heart.
But instead she took one more look at Ron before unrolling the parchment and tearing it into twenty different lonely pieces with five quick rips.
Ron's face fell a bit more with each rip she made.
She ripped the note scornfully and Harry looked startled by her sudden gesture. He threw Ron a nervous glance and shrugged his shoulders sympathetically. Harry didn't understand that this was it; it was Hermione saying no forever.
Hermione walked toward the trash bin located near her and dumped the pieces of parchment and the pieces of Ron's heart into the trash which devoured it and seemingly burped with satisfaction.
Ron had been lying in his bed for hours, the room full of his friend's snores. He couldn't sleep.
Finally when he couldn't take the snores any longer he walked downstairs intending to sit by the fire and think for a bit. As he was walking down the stairs he heard a frustrated sigh followed by a sniffle and immediately recognized the form of Hermione kneeling on the ground by a trash bin.
He furrowed his brow in confusion but as he walked closer he saw the shreds of paper on the ground and Hermione jabbing the paper roughly with the tip of her wand, her hair falling into her face haphazardly.
He thought he heard her muttering "reparo" and finally understood what was going on then. The sight of Hermione acting so distraught and out of control startled and scared him in that moment in a way not even Voldemort could have done. His legs were as stiff as a board. The thought that his actions could prove to have so much impact on her was scary and he wanted nothing more than to go back upstairs and to leave her alone.
He wanted to go back upstairs and to fall asleep and wake up and find it had all been a dream. But just as the sight of her acting out of control made his legs go stiff, the sight of tears spilling from her eyes soon had his legs moving again toward her, his slippers hitting the ground softly with each step he took.
It wasn't until Ron was a few steps away that Hermione looked up, she seemed startled at first and then angry as she tried to sweep up the bits of parchment quickly, desperately. He heard her mumble something about accidentally throwing away a spare piece of parchment.
It struck him odd that she would even try to hide the truth from him because she'd made it clear that she didn't care what he thought when she'd ripped up his letter.
He suddenly found the need to touch her and before he could stop himself he placed his hand gently on her shoulder. He placed it there not in a confident and loving way such as when they were dating, but in a seemingly comforting and tentative way.
Hermione stopped picking up the very small shreds of parchment for a minute, her head facing straight ahead, and closed her eyes. She imagined that in fact this was any other day and he was still her boyfriend.
It was weird how life around them seemed to slow down again in that moment, there wasn't much going on, but Ron could have sworn that the clock's hands had slowed and the fire's flicker had paused.
But as he took his hand off of her shoulder the moment was gone in a flash and he thought he had imagined the delayed effects of the fire. It was gone like their relationship before they even got to experience the best parts of it.
It was then that Hermione looked up into Ron's eyes and he saw her red eyes and white face. It was then that Hermione noticed his empty and tired eyes staring back at her timidly and pleadingly. He opened his mouth to speak but shut it again swiftly.
"I-I guess you know what I was looking for in the trash." he nodded but said nothing more.
"Please tell me what it said," she pleaded, and he was once again struck by how uncomfortable her vulnerability made him feel. "Tell me what the letter said."
"It's not all that important," but he knew it was the most important thing in the world right then, what he'd written in that letter. She looked confused and he almost broke.
"Why not?" It was the easy question, the one he knew she'd ask.
"Maybe I'm just not the right one for you," and in that moment he did believe what he was saying as the words spilled out of his mouth. The image of her crouched over on the ground so distraught, because of him, was still fresh in his mind.
"You don't really believe that," she said in a voice that sounded more scared than confident, which was not what she had been aiming for.
He didn't respond but walked over to the common room couch and lowered himself down onto the soft material instead; his ankles becoming exposed as his pajama pants pulled up a bit. Hermione sat down next to him, and they both stared into the fire in those strange few minutes.
To anyone else the two of them sitting there may have been the image of two friends enjoying the warmth of the fire when they couldn't sleep, or maybe even a couple who were so in love that they couldn't sleep so they sat by each other wasting away the hours in which they could be snuggled in bed (much preferring the presence of each other instead).
But really they were neither, they weren't friends nor boyfriend and girlfriend, they were just Ron and Hermione closing off a friendship that could've lasted a lifetime. They were two people officially ending a partnership that could've turned into a deeper love and respect that most can't even fathom.
So when Hermione stood up off that couch, she wasn't just leaving Ron for one night. When she got up of that couch (gravity and maybe something else trying to pull her back down) she was leaving Ron and his love forever.
As she walked toward the girl's dormitory stairs there was no turning back. She looked at Ronald Weasley one last time as they once were, and as his eyes met her's she thought of something that had been wanting to pop out of her mouth for months...
'I love you so much' she thought. She thought those exact words, not knowing that he was thinking the very same thing, and wishing that he could just say it aloud, if only once more.
A/N: A few of you might recognize this story…I posted it once before but I was essentially unhappy with it so I took it down and have been editing it for...maybe 5 months? haha. So by a week or so ago I was relatively happy with the content but the formatting was horrible and luckily WeasleyGirl-ca helped me with that; check out her stories by the way- they are all amazing. So thank you for reading and I'm so glad I finally got this story right, I'm quite happy with it now.
Disclaimer: HP belongs to JKR, I just get to write about it.