The wind picked up Hermione’s hair as she appeared on the boardwalk of the beach. Although it wasn’t raining, the winter chill in the air had kept people away. All except one who sat on a rock, staring out at the iron grey waves. Hermione ran over calling his name. At first it was carried away in the gale but as she got nearer, he turned where he sat and saw her sprinting to join him. Finally she reached him and sat on the rock, a little way away from him.
“Fred I’m so sorry! What could I do?” She pleaded, with streaming eyes.
“Exactly. There was nothing you could do. And more to the point, why should you have to... to apologise to me! He’s your fiancé Hermione! I have no hold over you, I deserved that, I needed it. I now see what I have done to my brother. Well, no more- I’m done. Marry him, It’s like you said- You are meant to be with Ron, it’s always been Ron!”
He looked peaceful, as if it all now made sense to him.
“You know that’s not true! I thought that once, and I do love him. But not the way I love you Fred you can’t make...” She began.
“Look Hermione, this is really rather simple. You love Ron, he loves you, and therefore you should marry him. I don’t love you Hermione, I want you. That’s different; I just wanted you because you belonged to Ron.”
He stared out to sea; his face was complacent as if he were discussing the weather.
Hermione’s heart felt as if he had plunged his fist through her ribs, torn it out and smashed it against the surrounding rocks.
“You don’t expect me to believe that do you? I remember what you said to me that day at the shop Fred. I remember it all. You said you loved me! That you wouldn’t hurt me, that I meant something to you!”
Her ears were filled with the rushing sounds of the waves crashing and the whistling of the wind.
He looked at her as if she were stupid.
“I thought better of you Hermione. I thought you were smarter. They were just words to get my way and they worked. Now if you don’t mind I have somewhere to be.”
With that final blow he stood up and disappeared in front of her with a barely audible crack.
Unable to move Hermione clung to the rock, breathing raggedly. She couldn’t believe she had let this happen. She had been so happy with
Ron, totally unaware that anything better existed. Then Fred forced it upon her and as easily as he’d given it he had taken it away leaving her with a feeling of loss, not relief that she could be with Ron once again.
She felt empty. She couldn’t even turn to herself for consolation as she loathed herself for what she had done. Hours passed and she didn’t move. The cold was bitter and the rain began to fall but she was so numb she barely noticed. All she wanted to do was sleep and never wake up...
Hermione opened her eyes. She was in bed and a bright light was shining into her eyes. She tried to blink but someone was holding her eye open. Her eyes glanced from right to left. She saw Ron, looking pale and dishevelled next to a concerned Mrs. Weasley. The whole family were there, and then it suddenly hit her she was in hospital. The doctor stepped back.
“How are you feeling Miss. Granger?”
She couldn’t speak, she just nodded. Concerned if she opened her mouth she may begin to cry again, and she refused not with both Fred and Ron here.
“Right, well if you need anything call for a nurse won’t you? I will leave you with your family.”
With that he stepped out of the cramped room.
Mrs. Weasley began to fuss with her pillows and poured her a glass of water.
“What on earth were you thinking dear? This is hardly beach weather, don’t you think? You could’ve died if someone hadn’t seen you!”
Hermione looked at Ron. He looked so hurt that she had left his side as soon as she could to go to such an obscure location. He looked confused too, as if he couldn’t quite fathom why she had gone there.
He loosely held her hand. Fred was in the farthest corner of the room staring in to space with a hard expression on his face. Mrs. Weasley, feeling the tension in the room turned to her family.
“Come on everyone let’s give Hermione and Ron some time alone, it’s been quite a stressful day.”
And bustled them all out of the room, Fred being the first to head for the door.
Ron looked down into his lap.
“Hermione, do you really want to marry me?”
She nodded, feeling the lump in her throat grow. Fred was right it was the sensible option, but maybe the best option was to get away from the whole family- after all she didn’t really want to marry Ron and she never wanted to see Fred again.
“Well the thing is Hermione... I don’t think you do. I’d rather you told me now than wait until it’s too late. If you won’t say it I will. But I have to know this, is there anyone else?”
Hermione said nothing but continued to stare at the ceiling. With that, he stood up and left her to be alone.
Over the next few days she refused any guests and said not one word to anyone. Eventually the inevitable happened though, and she was deemed fit enough to leave the hospital and rest at home.
She entered the hall, the house was silent. Ron clearly hadn’t been living here while she’d been gone. She picked up the post; leafing through the envelopes she separated the ones for Ron. When she opened one of hers it was from Ron. He had written that he was staying with Fred and George currently and that he wanted to see her and could she bring some more of his clothes.
The idea of going to Fred and George’s flat made her feel sick. She packed up some of Ron’s things; she also placed her engagement ring in an envelope and placed it on top of the box along with his post.
She stood outside the door, took a deep breath and knocked. It was Ron who answered.
“Oh, hello. How have you been? I would have tried to visit but mum said you wouldn’t see anyone...”
“It’s fine Ron you don’t have to make excuses. Here are your things, is that all?”
She turned, ready to leave.
“No! Look, don’t go. We have to talk Hermione; you clearly weren’t up to it in the hospital, but maybe now... We could sort some things out.”
“What are you saying? That we can forget what you said? It’s too soon.”
She began walking down the stairs. Someone was following her, quickening their pace. She turned to see George running down after her.
“Look Hermione, I know about you and my brother and you have to just stop it. It’s not fair, you must see that!”
“Ron and I will...”
“I don’t mean Ron! You know that Hermione. I know about Fred! Sort it out before anyone gets any more hurt than they already are. If you have no intention of getting back with Ron then don’t lead him on!” He frowned at her.
They both looked up. Fred was standing at the top of the stairs staring down at them like an Adonis with a furious glint in his eye. George looked at Hermione once more and trudged up the stairs. He stopped briefly and turned his head to look at his twin as he passed him. Hermione stood statuesque at the bottom as if she were a rabbit caught in headlights. Fred gave her a pitying glance and went inside.