The smooth metal was warm, heated by her touch as she toyed it between her fingers. It was an endless circle, broken only by the square cut solitaire diamond that perched elegantly upon it. It was simple and beautiful. But unfortunately it was gold, and not white gold but plain as the sun, yellow gold. She hated gold and Ron knew it. If nothing else confirmed her resolution that the relationship was over, it was the gold engagement ring sitting between her fingers.
Hermione had, after months of indecision, finally come to resolution that her relationship with Ron had to end. He hadn’t done anything to lose her love, he had always been there for her and encouraged her and he was always her best friend. But that was all he was to her now, her best friend, not her lover, her boyfriend or soul mate, just her best friend. The fire, the attraction, it had all been lost to the vagrancies of time. The past had consumed all the feelings that she had every held for Ron, and she couldn’t fight the current that was pulling her away from him and towards someone else.
The wind whipped off the shore, drying the single tear track that had been left on her check. Hermione looked out at the stormy sea, its angry waves battering the sand, the little grains not standing a chance against the waters fury. And those grains that believed themselves safe from the waves were instead accosted by the winds whose strong gust picked them up without mercy, making them dance unwillingly across the beach before carelessly dropping them in some foreign land.
The wild and unforgiving battle that nature waged upon itself held a calming effect on Hermione as she sat upon the grassy banks, watching the elements fight against themselves in their constant never ending battle. It helped to put Hermione’s own internal battle into perspective. However bad things seemed to be, it didn’t compare to the violence of Mother Nature. It helped her to settle her raging emotions that were tumbling around inside of her, fighting each other to be heard against the angry tempest of indecision and doubt.
Hermione didn't know why she had given in to Ron who had insisted she keep the ring and think about his proposal. She should have just given the ring straight back to him rather than take it and pretend there was any chance that she would say yes. The moment she had said I can’t, their relationship was effectively over. That little two word phrase had brought question to their whole relationship, destroyed the love they had shared and broke the trust that existed. You couldn’t repair those things, she had broken his heart already, and even if she now turned around and said yes, he would never love her the same again.
A sob caught in Hermione's throat as she cast her eyes once more upon the ring that she twisted around in her fingers. Curiously, or maybe stupidly, she slipped it onto her ring finger of her left hand and held it up in front of her, like any recently engaged person would do to admire the ring, given to them by the man of their dreams. It should have brought a smile to her face, but all Hermione felt were the floodgates of her eyes unleashing the tears that tumbled down her cheeks.
It was all wrong, from the gold to the giant protruding rock, to the sizing, to the boy that had given it to her. Sadly, Hermione slid the ring from her finger and closed her palm around it, not wanting to see it and all it represented. Instead, she gazed out towards the turbulent grey clouds and the churning ocean, wondering how things had reached this point. Why was she sitting out on a deserted beach during a spring storm, alone and crying when she should have been tucked away in a warm house with her new fiancé? She had always thought it would be her and Ron forever, but somewhere along the pathway of life, she had taken a different track.
Hermione came to her feet and placed the ring back inside its box and slopped it into her jacket pocket and zipped it up securely. Mindlessly, she made her way onto the beach as the wind whipped her hair around her face. She loved the wind in her hair. After years of a frizzy mess and usually always having it tied up, the novelty of being able to wear her now manageable sleek locks down never lost its appeal. The sand stretched ahead of her as she started her slow walk towards the headland that was being pounded by countless waves in a chaotic yet never ending rhythm.
Six years had passed since the Battle of Hogwarts. It seemed so long ago now. Most people think of their school years as the happiest time of their life and wish they could relive them, Hermione was glad that they were now condemned to only memories. She had been happy with Ron then. They had been through so much together and understood each others pain and grief. It had helped them both to heal from the wounds created by the lose of the ones they loved and the dreadful events that they had survived.
Hermione's path had taken her towards magical law, and Ron's to helping his brother in their famous joke shop. As they grew up, their paths which should had intertwined, instead seemed to diverge and now it seemed they had ended up on opposite sides of the river mouth, so close that they could see each other, but yet they would need to back track so far to be together again. It felt like they had nothing in common any more and the only thing holding them together was their history. So often it felt like there was nothing to talk about or any mutual interests. Ron loved quidditch and that was about it. If he wasn't playing social quidditch somewhere, he would be with George working on new potions or items for the Joke Shop. They hardly seemed to talk about anything any more other than what to have for dinner and when they'd both get home. He tuned out every time she talked about her work, he had no interest in anything muggle nor did he want to try out new things.
Their relationship was stuck but life around them kept on going. The gap between them grew and as Hermione became more immersed in her work and life away from Ron, the attraction she had once felt for him dissipated. She was working late one night on something that wasn't even urgent, not really feeling like going home. And why? Why didn’t she want to go home to her boyfriend of nearly six years? It was then that Hermione felt the hard truth hit her, the truth she had been denying for so long finally bubble to the surface and spill from her eyes. She wasn't in love with Ron any more. She loved him, but she wasn't in love with him. It was a subtle difference but one that meant the world of difference.
Hermione vowed to try and make things better between them, to at least try and bring back the spark that once ignited them. She couldn't just throw away nearly six years of a life with Ron without trying to get them back on track. She would talk to him, things would improve they had to.
It was on this night that Hermione ran into someone she hadn't seen in years. It was a chance meeting of no coincidence, but it set in motion the events that led her to this point, walking down a deserted beach with wild waves wrecking havoc on the shore and an engagement ring sitting in her pocket.
A/N: I've basically finished this story so updates will be pretty regular. It's 8 chapters in all. Thanks for reading and please let me know if you have any feedback; I'd greatly appreciate it.