Let Go

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Story Notes:
The papers arrive at her office in the middle of the morning. The left corner of the envelope is bent, and her name is typed neatly in the middle of a white label. Hermione doesn’t bother to read the papers, not when she has an important meeting and work to do. Instead, she puts the envelope in her bag and does her best to forget about it for now so she can focus.

When she gets to the small flat that she has been trying to make home for the last five months, she takes off her shoes by the door and puts her bag on the sofa. It lands against a pillow and falls open slightly, revealing the bent corner. She notices it and sighs, running a hand over her face and through her hair before she walks into the tiny kitchen. There isn’t much in the kitchen. Since she moved in, she spends most her time at work and, when she’s home, she doesn’t really feel like eating. Fortunately, there’s a bottle of wine that Ginny bought her as a housewarming slash ‘you’ll make it through this because you’re strong’ gift.

She doesn’t have a wineglass so she gets down her coffee mug and fills it with wine. She starts to walk back to the sitting room before she stops and picks up the entire bottle to take with her. She isn’t much of a drinker, just occasionally with dinner or during a party, but she needs the distraction from reality tonight. Once she sits down, she takes a healthy drink of her wine and finally opens the envelope.

The legalese is difficult to read while she’s doing her best not to cry, but it doesn’t really matter what all the words mean because it all boils down to four words: your divorce is final. She trails her fingertip over his name, wondering again why things didn’t work out and trying to figure out how it all went so wrong after four good years and two not so great years.

There are a lot of reasons it came to this, she knows, and neither of them is really to blame, but she can’t help feeling like the failure of their marriage is her fault. She works too much, is too devoted to all her causes, and he wants a family, is tired of waiting for her to focus on them. Their attempts at compromise failed because the give and take could never get balanced in a way that made them happy. And, honestly, they’ve both changed over the years and become different people than they were when they first married. In fact, she remembers looking at him shortly before he brought up the subject of divorce and trying to figure out how a great friend had become almost a stranger.

The worst part of everything is that she still loves him. She knows, deep down, that she can make it on her own and have a happy and full life without needing to be involved in a relationship, but it's hard to let go and move on when she also knows that she'll always love him. She finds it difficult to sleep alone, even after five months, because the bed feels empty without him sprawled across it or snuggled against her. She hates being in this awful flat with the unfamiliar rooms that don’t feel like home. There are times since their separation that she finds herself wishing that she could change and be the woman he needs and wants in his life, but she just can’t. She isn’t ready for a family, not for another few years, and her work is extremely important to her. She can’t become someone she isn’t anymore than he can change who he is, not even for love.

She summons a box of tissues when she realizes that she’s crying, and wipes the soft material across her eyes and cheeks before she blows her nose. This is the first time she’s let herself cry in months. There were some nights, especially after she moved from their house into this flat, that she’d cry herself to sleep because crying in the dark was something she didn’t really have to acknowledge. Now, though, seeing their names on these papers and knowing that it’s final, that she’s failed at marriage and lost the man she’s loved for years, she can’t stop the tears.

After she pours another mug of wine, she looks at her hand and stares at her ring. It’s nothing fancy, just two small diamonds around a pretty sapphire that he noticed her staring at the most when they went shopping for rings so many years ago. Despite the separation and impending divorce, she still wears her ring. Maybe it’s been with the false hope that he’d stop the proceedings and decide they can have another chance to make things work. Now that the papers are here and it’s really over, the jewels seem to taunt her with the fairytale happiness she expected when she was younger that has proven to not be in her future.

There’s nothing to be done now except move on and keep living. It hurts and it will take time, but it’s all she can do. Right now, she thinks that she’ll never do this again because she’s not good at falling in love and being married. She can’t even fathom the idea of being with anyone but him, feels as if she’s betraying him even considering such an idea, and cries more when she realizes that he’s going to move on, maybe already has, and that he’ll have a family one day while she has her little flat and work to keep her life filled.

Hermione slides the ring off her finger and looks at it as she holds it in her palm. To be such a simple thing, the ring stands for so much: happy years, laughter, sex, love, friendship, arguments, tears, silence, hurt, and drifting apart. She curls her fingers around it, feeling the jeweled setting scrape her skin, and holds it tightly. Finally, she leans forward and sets the ring on top of the divorce paperwork on the table. It’s time to let go.