Chapter 9 – Sight for Sore Eyes
We’re lying on the moon
It’s a perfect afternoon
Your shadow follows me all day
Making sure that I’m okay and we’re a million miles away
The Moon Song, beabadoobee
Ron had actually had a really good time at the party, despite the fact that he remembered only about 30 minutes of it and had spent the entire next morning yacking into a bucket instead of getting breakfast with everyone else in the dining hall. At least Harry had brought him back a croissant as an offering... but he’d thrown that up, too. Bloody firewhiskey.
All of that had been worsened by the fact that all he wished was for was his Cassie to be there to take care of him, and that she was with someone new and it fucking hurt. After that morning, the nausea faded, but the aching feeling in his chest persisted for the coming weeks.
It only worsened when he was sitting in Potions class a few weeks after his fight with Cassiah and, just before class was dismissed, his graded exam landed on his desk in front of his upside down. He hadn’t expected to get an A – the panicky, humiliating feeling he’d had in his chest while taking it had been enough of an indication – but he’d had hope that he’d done alright. Ron had always struggled in school, but this year, he’d made a promise to himself for things to be different. He didn’t need to check the grade to know what the result would be – he already knew.
He took a deep breath and flipped the paper over, trying to be subtle about it so that Neville wouldn’t look over and see.
F as in failure. And it was all his own stubborn fault for refusing Cassiah’s notes. Sure, they’d just been an empty gesture probably to assuage her guilt over dating Draco, but they would’ve made all the difference and Ron knew it. He always self-sabotaged like this because he was too damn proud... It must’ve been the Gryffindor in him.
He felt the tears prickling in the corners of his eyes and he willed them away – not in public, he told himself. He let his eyes flash to Cassiah, who was quietly smiling down at her paper. She never wanted to let on just how easy school was for her – she was always downplaying her talents or successes to make other people feel better, including Ron – but Ron knew. He was reminded of how he’d been able to be vulnerable with his emotions with her. She was so unashamed about expressing everything she was feeling, which could sometimes get to be rather annoying for Ron, but that was one of the many amazing things about her. When Ron was with Cassie, there was nothing embarrassing about feeling all his feelings as they came. Now he didn’t have that outlet anymore, and he could feel it taking a toll.
Meanwhile, Draco was sitting with a smug look on his face, showing off his graded test to anyone who would look at it. Stupid bloody prefect, Ron thought, his blood boiling and his freckled ears turning red. Draco had always had everything – wealth, smarts, you name it – except for the most valuable thing: a person like Cassie. And now he had her, too. Ron couldn’t help but think that Draco could never fully understand just how lucky he was. He had best treat her like the blessing she was. Merlin knows Ron hadn’t, and now he regretted it so deeply.
He thought back to the day he’d let Cassie go. That hadn’t been the first time he’d seen her cry because like he said, Cassiah was truly a serial crier, but it had been the first time that he’d been the reason for her tears. However, while it had crushed him to know that he’d made a girl he loved so deeply feel so horrible, he’d been a bit numb to at the time just based off of the fact that there was so much adrenaline pumping through his body and he was trying not to throw up or cry or faint.
Ron had intrusive thoughts about that day ever since, but he’d always pushed them away. It was too difficult to relive it all, and he knew that if he let himself, he’d be crushed with regret. He couldn’t do that, because all he would want to do would be to crawl back to her, but that was the one thing he could never do.
But lately, he’d found himself wanting to revisit those feelings... Not that he’d ever admit it out loud.
He’d seen Cassiah cry once since that day, and it had been when he’d discovered her in Draco’s room. Had that night, just a week after the breakup, been the beginning of her relationship with Draco? He felt sick at the thought.
Cassiah had told him that night that he’d given up the right to be concerned about her, but even though Ron was as angry with her and he’d ever been, he couldn’t stop himself from caring about her, even if he had to do it from a distance for both of their sakes. Seeing Cassiah cry that night had broken his heart because not only had Ron made her cry, but more selfishly, it had implied the possibility that perhaps Cassiah cared enough about another guy to cry over someone else.
For the first time, Ron let himself try to look at that night from a different perspective. Maybe Draco hadn’t been forcing himself on Cassiah. Perhaps he had actually been comforting her when she was...
The classroom was clearing out Ron could feel himself being overtaken by impulse, which in all honesty was usually the driving factor in most of his actions. He grabbed his failed test in his fist, crumpled it into a ball, and shoved it into his pocket before taking off in pursuit of a certain blonde Slytherin. He was sure that this was the first time he was going to purposefully interact with Malfoy but hey – it was a different world than it had been before.
“Malfoy, wait up!” he called, approaching the blonde boy but not daring to reach out and touch him. That somehow felt like crossing a forbidden line.
Draco slowed to a stop, murmuring something to Crabbe and Blaise before sending his friends on their way and carefully turning around. “Weasley. What gives me the pleasure?” Draco smirked, raising an eyebrow and crossing his arms over his chest, “Oh! Or have you come to accuse me again?” His tone was playful, but his words were harsh.
Ron sighed, biting the inside of his cheek awkwardly. “About that. I really hate that I have to say this, but maybe I was... wrong. I don’t know what on Earth has possessed Cassie that she would be shagging you, but, nevertheless, I uh–” he shuffled uncomfortably between his two feet, “I kind of wanted to ask you something.”
“Well, go ahead and ask then. I haven’t got time for your mindless rambling,” Draco mocked. Merlin, what did Cassiah see in him?
“Okay. I have to say, I bloody hate that you two are... whatever you two are doing. But I’ll feel a lot better if I get this off my chest–”
“Spit it out, Weasley.”
Ron stuttered nervously before continuing, “Do you care about her? You won’t hurt her?”
Draco finally uncrossed his arms, suddenly less hostile as his face softened. “Of course. What kind of question is that?” he replied as if it were the most obvious thing in the world and he hadn’t spent the last seven years torturing Ron and his friends, “Although I have to add that my relationship with Cassiah is different than you seem to think.”
Ron frowned. What was that supposed to mean? He couldn’t help but wonder if Draco meant that it was more than a rebound – that there were real feelings involved – but he couldn’t let his mind go there at the moment. He composed himself and asked his real question:
“So, considering you care about her, I can guess that you didn’t intentionally make Cassiah cry that night.” Ron felt a hot shame rising in his chest as he came to the realization that his worst fears were true. But he still had to ask, “You said it was me who made her cry that night. But that doesn’t make any sense, because she’s moved on with you. Why would she be crying over me if she doesn’t even care about me anymore?”
Draco’s face shifted into a complex expression that Ron couldn’t read. His eyes flicked away for a moment before sighing and looking Ron dead in the eyes and saying, “It really isn’t my job to mediate between the two of you, and quite frankly, I’m not overly concerned with helping you.” Ron nodded and turned to leave but Draco quickly grabbed him by the sleeve and added, “But you and I both know that people don’t stop caring about each other altogether overnight. Sometimes, people never stop caring about each other, in some capacity or another.”
Ron stood there staring, flabbergasted. He had not expected Malfoy to be so insightful. This was truly a side of the blonde boy he had never seen before in all their years of hating each other. Ron wasn’t sure what to make of any of it, so he just reached out awkwardly and grabbed Draco’s hand to shake it and gave a short, “Thanks, Malfoy. Seriously.”
As he turned to walk away, his mind began spinning and going through an uncountable number of emotions.
Cassiah still cared about him. But then why would she do something as cruel as she had on the night of the Quidditch match? Then again, Ron cared about Cassiah as well, but had hurt her pretty badly, too – hurt her enough to make her cry again. How many times had he made her cry without his knowledge? Probably at least as many times as he’d secretly cried over her when he was alone, and he hated himself for that responsibility. He couldn’t take any of it back, but he could be better going forward.
If they both cared about each other so much, then why were they putting on an act of disinterest. That would only hurt themselves, and each other.
He had to find Cassiah.
Cassiah was tucked into her favorite, quiet corner of the library, hidden from the rest of the world by an enormous stack of books. The large majority of the books she’d pulled from the shelves were about Divination – which she’d always had a fascination with from the day she met Professor Trelawney. Something about the warm feeling she got in her chest in that classroom stuck with her, along with careful, mindful practices she learned there. Many people were skeptical of the practice of Divination, but Cassiah had always been a stellar, devoted student in the class.
However, she wasn’t reading the Divination texts she’d found at that moment. Instead, her nose was buried in a piece of classic fiction she had brought from home. It felt amazing to get lost in another fantastical world for a while. She’d always loved to read as a child, but as she’d grown older, she’d grown out of the habit. After her breakup, though, she’d been devastated and had turned to fiction for comfort for the first time in so long. When she was reading one of her stories, her mind couldn’t focus on what Ron might be thinking, or if Hermione and Ginny were hanging out and talking about her.
Truth be told, she thought a lot more about Ron than she did about her friends because he had become her best friend above anyone else.
She was so entranced in her fictional world that she didn’t hear anyone coming, and she certainly couldn’t see anyone over the tower of textbooks she had around her. That was on purpose. None of the people she actually wanted to see – Draco, Blaise, Pansy, the whole lot – would be in the library and she didn’t particularly wish to talk to anybody else.
A gruff voice startled her out of her trance, and she gasped, dropping her book and cursing, ”Bloody fuck–"
Her words got caught in her throat the second she looked up and saw red.
Red hair, to be exact. Her jaw slacked with realization as she stared up at freckled cheeks and blue-green eyes.
Ron chuckled nervously, looking a little too much like he might throw up for Cassiah’s usual liking, and ran a hand through his hair nervously. “Still got that mouth on you, I see,” he offered, a sheepish half-smile forcing its way onto his face.
“I–” Cassiah stuttered, completely and utterly shell-shocked. Out of all the students at Hogwarts, Ron was the last one she expected to come find her in the library. She’d completely given up on ever speaking to him again, if she was being honest. She shook her head, “What are you doing here?”
She could practically hear Ron’s heart beating out of his chest, but it gave her comfort to know that he was just as terrified as she was. He should be terrified – he’d broken her heart like she never even knew was possible.
Ron was speaking quietly with nerves, the same way he had when he’d first told her he wanted to be with her. “I knew I’d find you here,” he said, sounding rather out of breath and now that Cassiah was looking closer, rather red in the face, “Well, I actually ran over practically the entire grounds before realizing that I knew exactly where to find you.”
From Ron’s breathless tone and rosy complexion, Cassiah was inclined to believe that he quite literally meant the entire grounds.
“Ron,” Cassiah said just as quietly, not fully trusting her voice to not show her nerves or emotions, “Why were you looking for me? We haven’t really been speaking at all ever since the breakup.” Saying the words break up out loud to Ron made Cassiah choke on a lump in her throat she wasn’t even aware was forming until that moment. She ducked her head, silently cursing herself for tearing up. He hadn’t even said anything bad yet, but just looking at his face in person made her heart hurt. She had once loved this man so much, and now he hated her so terribly.
“Yeah, I- I know,” Ron huffed, “Do you mind if I sit?”
His mannerisms were reminding Cassiah of when he had broken up with her. His breathing was ragged with fear and his voice was so low and soft and unsure.
“No, of course,” Cassiah replied, stumbling to clumsily push some books aside to make space for him at the table. When Ron took his seat beside her – but not too close, she noted – the tower of books was now concealing both of them from anyone else’s view. They had complete privacy. It was like they were alone, for the first time in months.
“I’m sorry that I made you cry,” Ron blurted, “The night that I walked in on you and Draco, and any other time really. I’m really sorry.”
Now Cassiah was truly shocked. She thought he’d come here bearing bad news. “It’s okay, Ron, really.”
“No, it’s not,” Ron said definitively, “I always told you when we were together that it wasn’t okay for people to hurt you, and it’s still not okay now. And-and that includes me. I don’t want to hurt you, Cassie.”
At that, she let a tear slip out, and she looked over at him through glassy hazel eyes as she desperately tried to keep the waterworks in. “Well then I guess I owe you an apology, too,” she said, just barely above a whisper because that was all she could manage at the moment, “For what happened at your Quidditch game. I– I know that was a really, really big day for you and I hadn’t considered how much my actions would really hurt you.”
Cassiah took a deep, shaky breath, staring directly into his eyes. She felt the prickling sensation in her nose and her eyes, and she decided to let her quiet tears fall. “Even if we’re not together, I can never be mad at you. I still care about you so much and I hate that I did something that made you think otherwise.”
She could’ve sworn she saw Ron’s eyes shining, but he ducked his head just quickly enough for her to not see. “I care about you too, Cassie,” he said, reaching out to grab her hand.
Instinctually, she started to pull her hand back. She hated being touched when she was upset. But she knew that this was his love language, and it would only make things worse if she rejected him, so she forced herself to stay in his grasp. It felt so wrong, after everything that had happened between them.
“So what do we do?” Ron asked. Cassiah felt a glimmer of hope in her chest, but then she remembered something Ron had said to her many moons ago.
“When couples break up, I don’t think they should get back together. Unless it’s been years and they both have fundamentally changed, they need to remember why they broke up in the first place.”
Cassiah had thought it was bullshit at the time but had never thought it was be relevant to her and Ron, because she thought they would be together forever.
She shoved that glimmer of hope down into a dark, faraway place – as far away as the kingdoms in her stories.
“We were always friends. We... We said we’d always be friends. And I really miss being your friend,” she conceded, deciding that settling for friendship was better than not having Ron in her life at all, even if she would always ache for more.
If she hadn’t been staring at her won fidgeting hands, she would’ve seen how Ron’s face fell for just a second before he plastered a soft smile back onto his face.
“Then let’s be friends,” he concluded, smiling at Cassiah wistfully, “How hard can that be?”
Cassiah giggled quietly at that. She finally felt brave enough to look up at him. “Okay. So, when do we start? Being friends, doing friend stuff,” she joked, biting her lip playfully.
“I mean, Seamus and I were gonna get high and spy on Neville’s date with Luna if you wanna come?” he offered.
Cassiah gasped and punched Ron lightly in the arm, “Merlin, I am so out of the loop. Neville and Luna are finally together?”
“Yup,” Ron smiled. He and Cassiah had been shipping Neville and Luna for years. “This is their second date. He’s taking her into Hogsmeade for dinner. If we hurry back to my dorm, you can take a few hits before Seamus gets there,” he tempted her, “I know you don’t like to smoke in front of other people.” The wink he sends her is telling of their years of friendship and she can’t help but smile brightly back at him.
“Hey! I’m not like that anymore,” she defended, crossing her arms across her chest in mock-offense, “But I will take you up on the offer.”
"Yes,” Ron did a little fist pump, “I really thought you were gonna say no. It’s fun when you smoke.”
Cassiah smiled shyly, not quite sure what to make of how natural everything felt between them. She knew there was still so much hurt buried on both sides, but she supposed it was easier to pretend that none of it had ever happened. Maybe some things didn’t need to be talked about; maybe it was better that way.
They hurried back to Ron’s dorm, finding that they had, in fact, beat Seamus there.
Ron made quick work of rooting through the drawers under his bed, poking his head up and holding up a bag of rolling papers and a pipe. “Blunt or bowl? Lady’s choice,” he questioned, raising his eyebrows at Cassiah with the goofiest look on his face.
Cassiah smiled shyly, biting her lip, before finally answering timidly, “Bowl.” She never really smoked blunts. Well, she didn’t smoke much at all, actually, but she felt more comfortable this way.
“Alright,” Ron replied, pulling out his grinder and setting about his business. Cassiah watched him working with such expertise. As good as it was to be hanging out with Ron, it was nice to not have to talk for a moment and just wrap her mind around what was happening. She sat on the bed next to him, letting her feet dangle just above the floor and kicking them softly back and forth.
“Okay, c’mere,” Ron said.
“I can light it myself,” Cassiah challenged him, raising an eyebrow. She knew he’d be surprised to hear her say that.
“Ooh, big girl,” he joked back. He motioned for her to closer anyways, “For old time’s sake.”
Cassiah huffed, “Okay, fine,” but secretly she was relieved.
Ron held the pipe up to her lips and he smiled down at her. “Ready?” he asked, and she nodded. He used to wand to cast a charm and suddenly there was a flame.
Cassiah was looking up at him through those thick, long eyelashes, and her hair was tucked so cutely behind her ears. She looked so beautiful that Ron could feel his heart melting as he stood there. What a blessing it was to be this close to her again, studying her beauty from just inches away. She was the prettiest creature he’d ever seen, and he’d almost forgotten all of the little details that made her so special. But sitting there, watching her, it was almost like things had never changed between them.
“I’m excited,” Ron said with a goofy, toothy grin.
“Merlin, don’t make it into a big deal, Ron,” Cassiah shot back, blushing madly with embarrassment.
“My little Cassie’s first time smoking,” he mocked, pinching her cheeks. She swatted him away, but her laugh let him know she wasn’t too pissed off.
“I would’ve done it before, I just,” she bit her lip, “I don’t know, I want it to be just me and you. It’s embarrassing, I don’t want Fred and George or the guys here to make fun of me.”
Ron knew she hated people seeing her do things she wasn’t good at. “I won’t make fun of you, ” he reassured, and she raised an eyebrow. “Promise,” he said, offering her a pinky.
She scooched closer to him and let him light the bowl for her, his wand radiating heat from the flame that made her want to shy away. She breathed in the smoke and then released it in his face.
She paused, and after a few moments declared, “I don’t feel anything.”
“Baby, you’ve gotta inhale it.”
“That’s what I did!” she insisted.
“No, honey,” Ron explained, like try to hold it in your lungs for a second, don’t just keep it in your mouth.” He studied Cassiah carefully, seeing how her ears were pink with embarrassment, “You wanna try again?”
Cassiah nodded wordlessly, so Ron repeated his actions. She inhaled a decent-sized hit, and Ron smiled down at her,
“Atta girl,” he said proudly, “Took it like a champ.”
Cassiah smiled at him as she exhaled and coughed loudly.
She’d taken one or two more hits, and then Ron had finished off the bowl himself. Sitting on the bed next to him, Cassiah just looked for beautiful. She always looked so beautiful. He couldn’t resist and leaned over to kiss her hungrily, and she giggled as the kiss made her head spin.
“Do you feel good?” he asked after a few minutes of heated kissing.
She nodded shyly and responded a quiet, “Yes. Very good,” a continued kissing him. And if that wasn’t some of the best sex of Ron’s life, he’d be damned.
The sound of Cassiah coughing barely audibly shook Ron out of his stupor. He handed him a glass of water he had sitting by his bed.
His friend, Cassiah.
He never thought he’d be calling her that again. It was a bit of a disappointment. He’d thought for sure for a moment that she was going to ask to start things over, but he loved her so much that he couldn’t turn down an offer to have her in his life. At least if they were friends he couldn’t keep hurting her.