Chapter 1 : The Winner Takes It All
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Disclaimer. Everything you recognise is from JKR. The song “The Winner Takes it All” is by ABBA.
I don't wanna talk
About the things we've gone through
Though it's hurting me
Now it's history
I've played all my cards
And that's what you've done too
Nothing more to say
No more ace to play
The winner takes it all
The loser standing small
Beside the victory
That's her destiny
“Hermione wait!” Ron yelled to the diminishing figure of Hermione as he ran down the narrow winding path of the cliff towards the beach.
Hermione heard the frantic calls of Ron and wanted so much to just continue walking away from him. She had come to the Spanish Coast to witness Harry and Ginny's wedding, not to have a confrontation with her ex boyfriend. Unsure of what to do, Hermione stayed where she was, gazing over the sparkling ocean and letting the wind whip her soft curls around her face.
“Hermione, I'm sorry,” Ron panted as he caught up with her. “I know...”
Hermione turned around to look at Ron and held her hand up to stop him from continuing. “I don't want to talk any more Ron about what we've been through,” Hermione began. “It is still so painful seeing you after you left me for her. But it's history now and I can't change the past. I did all I could, I remained true to who I was throughout our whole relationship, I gave you all I had, it just wasn't enough. You didn't love me like I loved you, and there is nothing I can do about that now. There is nothing more that I can say, I have nothing left to give. You have made your choice.”
“I'm...” Ron interjected but Hermione turned her back on him and started to trace patterns in the sand with her toes.
“She's the winner,” Hermione conceded sadly. “She got you, while I am left with nothing but the dream of what might have been. She can have her victory though. Your actions proved that you were not as devoted to me as I thought. It is not my destiny to be with you so I will walk away hoping that somewhere around the next headland, my future is waiting. I just haven't met him yet.”
“I'm sorry it didn't turn out how you wanted it to,” Ron apologised, not knowing what else to say. He had broken up with her because he realised he didn't love her like he should. At least that was what he thought. He had never cheated on Hermione exactly but he had come extremely close and he felt just as bad as if he had cheated on her. Another girl had flirted with him, teased him and somehow managed to invoke feelings in him that he had never had for Hermione. It was this that made him break up with her and it was only afterwards that he worked out that what he had been feeling was lust, not love at all. It turned out that she was not all that Hermione had been and given a chance he would undo what he had done, but he could not back track now after he had broken Hermione's heart. She deserved better than him, better than someone who would throw everything away for the temptation of something that appeared to be so much sweeter. He did love his new girl, she was definitely beautiful, kind and intelligent, but she did not compare to Hermione.
I was in your arms
Thinking I belonged there
I figured it made sense
Building me a fence
Building me a home
Thinking I'd be strong there
But I was a fool
Playing by the rules
The gods may throw a dice
Their minds as cold as ice
And someone way down here
Loses someone dear
The winner takes it all
The loser has to fall
It's simple and it's plain
Why should I complain.
Hermione felt the warm sting of tears forming in her eyes. Getting over Ron had been so much harder than she thought it would be. Their relationship ended amicably enough. He had been honest with her about his feelings and while Hermione had initially been angry with him, that feeling soon subsided and was replaced with hurt and grief. She still loved him so much, and seeing him with someone else was so hard, especially at a wedding. Hermione started to walk across the coarse sand towards the gently rolling surf, knowing that Ron would follow.
“Every time you held me in your arms, I thought I belonged there. With every passing day, every moment we shared I started to build our life together. I envisaged out wedding, where we would go on our honeymoon. I saw our house with a large backyard and a white picket fence. I built our home, our life and then it was taken away.”
Ron remained silent behind her as Hermione reached the sea and let the cool waters wash the sand from her feet. The gentle breeze played with her teal sun dress that rippled around her knees. “I thought I was safe, in the little world that we had created and that I had foolishly embellished. But instead of dreaming of a life I didn't have, I should have been fighting to keep the one I did have. I was stupid not to realise that you wanted so much more than plain old me. I was used to being second best; why should it be any different with you?”
With slow steps, Hermione started to wander again with no specific destination in mind. She let the water rush over her feet as she walked along the interface where the sea met the sand. With every step, she sank into the constantly moving grains made buoyant by the motion of the waves, leaving behind a trail of footsteps for the briefest of moments before they were destroyed by the sea.
Hermione sighed as she thought about all that had befallen her. “Sometimes it seems that someone else is throwing the dice that is my life and they do not fall the way I want them to. And while that someone plays this game without thought of the hurt they are causing, I am the one who loses someone I care about. I am once again the person who ends up with nothing while someone else takes it all. Maybe I shouldn't complain, maybe I should just suck up all the pain and continue on with my life, but just for once, I want to be the winner.”
But tell me does she kiss
Like I used to kiss you?
Does it feel the same
When she calls your name?
Somewhere deep inside
You must know I miss you
But what can I say
Rules must be obeyed
The judges will decide
The likes of me abide
Spectators of the show
Always staying low
The game is on again
A lover or a friend
A big thing or a small
The winner takes it all
Hermione walked into slightly deeper water and then kicked at the surf in frustration, creating her own wave that battled with the incoming tide. She turned to face Ron, sorrow written in her eyes.
“But tell me Ron, does she kiss you like I kissed you? Does she hold you in her arms and comfort you like I did? When you hear her calling you, does it make you feel the same as when I used to say your name? Somewhere deep down you know that I miss you and that I still love you, I'm sure of it. And I know that you haven't forgotten what it was like when we were together either.” Hermione caught herself before she could go much further. Feeling all of her built up emotions about to spill out of her, she ran further into the surf. The cool water splashed above her knees and began to calm her aching heart. Why was Ron suddenly getting to her, after all these months, why was it only now that she realised how much she missed him and how much she had lost? But he had moved on, and she had to accept that.
Hermione scooped the water though her hands and threw it into the air, the water droplets cascading back down into the sea like rain. “I'm sorry Ron, I shouldn't be saying this. You are happy with the decision you made. There are rules in this world that need to be obeyed and I am not going to do anything to mess up your relationship.” She ran her hands through her hair and continued, “we are not the judges of this world, we are only the spectators. You made your choice and the future will dictate if there is anything that you must be held accountable for. You broke my heart which to me is unforgivable, but it may not be a crime. So I will stay low and out of your life, I will never be your lover again, sometimes I don't even know if I can be your friend. I want so much more than that and sometimes it seems easier to say good bye completely than to be second best. She has won and I know my place and it is no longer at your side.”
Ron was standing still on the shore. He was remaining tight lipped but Hermione could see the confusion in his eyes. He still felt something for her, she knew it. It was written in his eyes that were not looking at her but instead at his toes that were playing with a small fragment of shell in the sand beneath his feet. It was in the way he was shuffling his weight, the way his hands were twisting with the corner of his shirt. She knew Ron enough to know when something was playing on his mind.
I don't wanna talk
If it makes you feel sad
And I understand
You've come to shake my hand
If it makes you feel bad
Seeing me so tense
But you see
The winner takes it all
The winner takes it all
“Look Ron,” Hermione said, walking out of the water to where Ron was uncomfortably standing on the beach. “I don't want to talk about this any more. I can see that it is making you feel sad. You have a new girl in your life and you are happy and I understand. You only followed me down here to make sure that I am doing okay, and I think that I am. So let's shake hands and go our separate ways. There will be someone out there for me and I'm sure he'll turn up when I least expect it.
Ron took his eyes away from the sands and looked out into the distant horizon where the sky and sea turned into one. Hermione felt like she was invisible but she knew that he was listening to every word that she was saying. His eyes were becoming watery and he was struggling to hold back tears.
“I'm sorry if it makes you feel bad to see me this way, feeling so down with no self confidence and doubting whether I will ever find someone who could make me feel like you made me feel.” Hermione said sadly, but then another though hit her. One she had never thought of before and a smile began to form on her lips. “But you know what, maybe I have been looking at this the wrong way. I am the real winner here. While you are off with your new girl friend, I am free to find someone who is so much better than you, someone who wont leave me for a whisper of something better. And until I do, I am going to be young and free and enjoy my life without the constant fear that your affections for me are wavering.”
“I'm sorry Hermione,” Ron apologised. Her words were so true, every one of them. “You deserve better than me and when you find him, I hope he is everything you imagine, because you deserve the best. Only a fool will not see how magnificent you are, and I was most definitely a fool. I love my new girl, I really do, but I don't think I will ever love her like I loved you.”
“I know” Hermione said with a smile, feeling happiness rush over her. There was no reason any more to mourn the loss of Ron from her life. Why should she continue pining for someone who left her for someone else? Feeling the urge for a swim, Hermione ran back into the ocean giggling and leaping over the crests of the waves. When the water was too deep to run through, she gracefully dived under the water, slicing it with her hands which she then parted to bring her to the surface. She looked back at the beach to see Ron walking away with his head hung low. While she missed him and would always love him, she couldn't live wondering what could have been. There were knew opportunities awaiting her, and the rest of her life was only just beginning.