Hermione was utterly confused. Twenty four hours ago she had been sure that she would come home, throw herself into Oliver's arms and all her dreams would come true. Instead she was once again looking out at the ocean as it rushed upon the shore. The day was much calmer than it had been on the previous occasion she had been there. There was no wind teasing her hair, no waves bullying the sand, just a gentle swell rhythmically sweeping across the beach, leaving it glistening in the afternoon sun.
Hermione thought things between her and Ron would be over for good, but now she wasn't so sure. Talking with him had brought back so many memories which had previously been hidden under the growing resentment. It's so easy to let the few bad points far outweigh the multitude of happiness that they had shared. Did she really just want to throw everything away? They had gone through a rough patch but it didn't mean that things couldn't improve now that they had finally talked to each other and understood how it all fell apart in the first place. She had never stopped loving Ron. It would be so easy to go back to him, to pick up everything again with a clearer understanding of what they both were after. She could be happy with him, couldn't she?
Hermione kicked the sand in frustration spraying grains up into the air. She let a pained shriek escape her lips and she fell to her knees into the sand letting the tears come. She couldn't stop them from falling any more than she could stop the memory of the one and only kiss she'd shared with Oliver. She did love Ron but Oliver just wouldn't leave her mind. She felt so hurt seeing him with someone else, in fact she was more than hurt, she was devastated. Hermione had not been prepared for the deep sorrow that had settled upon her, a feeling of total heartbreak.
Maybe she should have just stayed with Ryan rather than coming back to find the guy she wanted with another girl. She could always apparate back, pretend that she had decided to stay. But that would be the easy choice and would not do anything to heal her bleeding heart.
Picking up a handful of sand, Hermione let the grains fall gradually through her fingers. Flicking her legs from underneath her, she sat cross legged and picked up another handful, repeating the gesture all over again. She continued to watch the sand fall, making a mound form in front of her as she contemplated what to do.
As much as she wanted to be with Oliver, it seemed that he didn't want to be with her. Hermione could wait around hoping that he would come back to her, but there was no guarantee that anything would ever eventuate. Putting her life on hold for a possibility that may never happen was not the way Hermione wanted to live. It seemed that the best course of action was just to forget Oliver, pretend he never existed and bury all the pain. He wasn't worthy of making her feel like this. They hadn't even been together.
Then there was Ron, her best friend since first year, boyfriend since sixth. There was still a spark between them and Hermione was optimistic that things would be better. On reflection, maybe things hadn't been that bad. She had just been afraid of settling down as she wondered what else was out there. But now she had seen the world and all the places that Ron hadn't been interested in. She had let her hair down a little, dated another guy for a short time and had her heart ripped out by someone else. How she felt now was far worse than she had ever felt while she was with Ron.
Of course, she could always just be single and forget about both of them. Hermione flattened the mound of sand in front of her and created a smooth surface where she drew a love heart. A life with Ron had always been her teenage dream, in some ways it was still her dream, but would she truly be happy by his side from now and for always?
Her aching heart told her no. Tracing her finger through the sand once more, Hermione wrote the initials H.G above the heart. He may have been with someone else, but Hermione had seen the look in Oliver's eyes in that moment of discovery. It told her that there was still something there. He hadn't forgotten their kiss either.
Hermione stared at the heart in front of her contemplating what to do. Go back to someone she had loved once but was now more of a best friend than a lover, or chance life for a love that may never be. Go back to what was comfortable or risk it all on one special kiss. Slowly Hermione began to trace another two initials below the heart in the sand, her mind finally made up.
* * *
Hermione apparated straight to Ron's apartment, her old apartment. They place she used to call home. She wanted to walk up but some unknown force was stopping her. Instead Hermione turned around and headed towards the park. It was bustling with people enjoying the sunny weather. Hermione dawdled along with her hands in her pockets, scuffing her feet with every step. She saw the fountain where Ron had proposed, quickly turning away as the painful memories came back. She wasn't proud of that moment, although she probably would make the same mistakes if the day played itself again.
Continuing on, Hermione came to the spot where Oliver had come into her life. She stopped and glanced over the field. There were people playing soccer but Oliver wasn't there and Hermione found herself disappointed. Still she stood there watching them, longing for him, just wishing that things had been different. But wishing was useless.
Pulling herself together, Hermione tore her eyes away from the field and started to purposefully walk back to Ron's apartment. She had made her decision, she was not going to allow herself to be swept again in the turbulent waters of in indecision and doubt and whimsical dreaming of what couldn't be. It was time to drown all those feelings that had surfaced the day Ron proposed. No magical force was going to come and give her a sign of who to choose. The decision was Hermione's alone. Then she heard her name.
Running across the grass towards her was the answer to all her indecision, heartache and confusion. Hermione was swept up into his arms and spun around several times before he softly put her down. She looked up into his eyes that were dancing with a fiery passion that she had seen once before.
“One kiss was enough to tell me that I love you Hermione,” Oliver puffed, “I've been waiting for you, just hoping that when you returned you'd come back to me.”
Hermione pulled away. “But who was the girl I saw you with?” she asked pointedly. She was afraid to believe the words that she had just heard, afraid to let her heart be shattered even more.
“She's my cousin,” Oliver explained in a rush. “We had a really late night and both fell asleep on the sofa. Who did you think she was? Wait, you didn't?”
Hermione nodded sheepishly feeling totally stupid at the conclusion she had jumped to.
“And that's why you ran away?”
Hermione nodded again.
“You thought she was my girlfriend.”
Oliver broke into a smile as Hermione continued to nod. “Hermione, I've waited for you, hoping that one day you'd just turn up at my door. And then you did and you ran away. I was so confused.”
“I'm sorry,” Hermione apologised, “but my mind just naturally went to the worst. I came back wanting to be with you, and then I saw you with someone else and I was devastated.”
“There's only you Hermione,” Oliver assured her, “I don't want there to be anyone else.”
Hermione felt a wave a fresh tears starting to form. She threw Herself into Oliver's arms and let them come. It was Oliver's initials she had written in the sand by the love heart, even though she had lost all hope that it would ever be. But holding on to a love that would never be was better than going back to a love that she had already walked away from. The reasons she broke it off ran far deeper than getting a gold wedding ring and nothing could erase their history and the memories. Ron and her could try and fix things all they liked but fundamentally they would always be the same people and the same issues would come back and make them unhappy. Relationships were not necessarily easy, but they were definitely not hard either.
“How did you find me?' Hermione asked, letting Oliver go once more. He took her hand and together they sat down on the park bench, Oliver slipping his arm around her shoulders. Hermione didn't complain as he pulled her close.
“I went to the all the places where we've been, the coffee shop, the book shop, Diagon alley, I even went to Harry's but they didn't know you'd come home. And then I came here and I've been walking around for ages, hoping that I would spot you. I just hoped I hadn't screwed everything up. It was just one kiss Hermione, but it was enough to tell me that you were the one.”
Hermione sat up and looked into Oliver's brown eyes that matched her own. It hardly felt real to be sitting with him now, to be living her visions that had played out in her day dreams. But here she was, in Oliver's arms, a love which had been sealed with just one kiss. Gently Oliver pulled her closer and their lips met for only the second time, but there was no doubt that it was love. It was all there, within his kiss.
A/N: Thanks everyone for reading and to everyone who has left a review. They have been greatly appreciated
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