I Knew You - Ron Weasley

Chapter 10 – Cleaning Up Bottles with You

But I knew you, dancing in your Levi’s
Drunk under a streetlight
I knew you, hand under my sweatshirt
Baby, kiss it better

cardigan, Taylor Swift
_____________________________

Ron and Cassiah’s first attempt to hang out as friends went swimmingly, thanks partially to the presence of Seamus, who filled in any awkward silences with his running commentary and diffused any tension without even knowing.

From what the trio of giggling idiots observed from their hiding place under the window, Neville’s date with Luna had also gone really well. Cassiah thought it was adorable how he seemed to have a confidence around Luna that she had never seen him have with anyone else. Of course, he was still sweet and shy and bashful, but he was also entirely himself and comfortable.

When she got home from her friend-date with Ron and Seamus that night, Draco and Pansy were both in the common room. Part of her wanted to leave them alone, knowing that Draco really wanted to progress things between them towards more than just friendship, but the day had been way too eventful for her to just go to bed without talking or analyzing it with her friends. Having Ron come up to her in the library and asking her to hang out was the last thing she had expected, and she was sure her friends would feel the same.

“Hey guys,” she called out, announcing her presence so that the two had a chance to move a bit farther away on the couch. Draco had a smug look on his face that mirrored Pansy’s. The two of them really were two sides of the same coin.

“Hey Cass,” Pansy grinned, patting the newly formed space between her and Draco on the couch, “Come sit!”

Cassiah smiled back smally and plopped down between her two friends. She sighed really heavily and buried her face in her hands, shaking her head exasperatedly. “Oh my god,” she muttered to herself before finally resurfacing and facing her friends, “You’re never going to believe what happened today.”

“Something with Weasley?” Draco asked cautiously.

Cassiah frowned at him, slightly pissed that some of the shock of the story was gone now, “How did you know that?” She shook her head again, clearing her thoughts, “Anyway, though. Yeah. He came up to me in the library and apologized for everything, and then I apologized, and then he said he still cares about me!”

Draco’s jaw dropped, and he laughed in amusement, “Merlin, that is not what I thought you were going to say. So, are you two back together or–”

Cassiah shrunk back in her seat a bit, feeling small, and Draco stopped talking.

“Oh, I’m sor-”

“It’s okay,” Cassiah rushed a little bit too much to reassure him, “We decided we are going to try to be friends, and so I just got back from spending the whole afternoon with him and Seamus.”

She told them all the details of their day of hanging out but left out the way she still felt her heart melt when he looked her in the eye, or the way it made her feel slightly sick to her stomach when he no longer instinctually wrapped his arm around her or jokingly grabbed at her butt – all of the little things that had made them Ron-and-Cassie that no longer were. Now they were just Ron, and Cassie – two separate entities. She would give anything to go back to the way things were.

Pansy seemed to be really happy for Cassiah, her eyes gleaming as she listened to the stories about the trip to Hogsmeade and Neville and Luna’s date, but there was a look in Draco’s eyes that made Cassiah feel uneasy. She couldn’t bring herself to meet the weight of his gaze.

“Pansy,” he said once the girls had finished their gushing. The short-haired girl was seemingly unaware of the growing tension in the room, or the way Cassiah’s demeanor had been shifting Draco had continued to say nothing. He put a gentle hand on Pansy’s shoulder and looked at her with that commanding Malfoy look in his eye, ” Would you give me and Cassiah a moment?”

Pansy frowned and scoffed at him, “Yeah, right. Very funny, Malfoy.”

“Pansy, please give us a moment alone.”

“And why should I do that?”

Draco stared at her, their eyes locked in a battle for power until after what seemed like forever, Pansy finally diverted her gaze. “Okay, fine,” she huffed, grabbing her bag and heading out of the room, calling a goodbye to Cassiah over her shoulder. “I’m really happy for you Cass,” she smiled softly.

Now it was Draco and Cassiah’s turn to sit in silence until Pansy’s footsteps faded away.

Cassiah couldn’t stand the tension anymore, and she frowned at him. “What is the matter, Draco?”

He heaved a sigh and ran a hand through his cropped platinum hair. “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way,” he explained cautiously, “But do you... Are you sure you can handle this?”

“Handle what?” Cassiah questioned, but she already knew the answer, and Draco knew it too.

“C’mon, Cass.”

She let out a shaky breath. Truth be told, she hadn’t had time to stop and fully consider what being friends with Ron would mean for her. Sure, she had felt relieved just being in his presence again and had felt some heartache at the way things had changed, but she hadn’t really taken a moment to process what this would be like long term. It was actually a very Ron-like approach to the situation – usually she was the one who sat back and pondered every possible consequence of her actions. This time, however, she was so desperate to have him in her life again, that she hadn’t considered what “friends” really implied.

Draco’s voice broke her out of her reverie: “I mean, if you think that you and Ron can go back to being friends the way you were before, that’s great. But I know you, Cass, and I know just how serious things were between the two of you. Can you really just forget it all?”

“Maybe I don’t want to forget!” Cassiah fired back a bit too loudly, her heart beating out of her chest. Draco flinched.

He spoke carefully into the silence, her voice seeming to echo through the common room. “You don’t mean...”

Cassiah ducked her head in shame. She hadn’t realized it until now, but maybe she’d suggested being friends to Ron because in her mind, it was the first step on the path to winning him back. It was easier to make him realize how perfect they were for each other if they were friends than if they weren’t speaking at all. If they were friends, he couldn’t forget. And she couldn’t stand the idea of him forgetting how things were being the two of them. Merlin knows she can’t.

“N-No,” she stuttered, embarrassed at being exposed for her true intentions, “I care about Ron and what’s best for him. If this is all he can handle between the two of us for now, then that’s what I’ll do.”

“Uh huh. What’s best for Ron...” Draco replied. It was the simplest response, and yet his tone implied that there was a lot more that he wasn’t saying. Cassiah knew Draco well enough to know that he wouldn’t tell her even if she asked, but she still couldn’t help but wonder...

___________

The week flew by quickly for Ron. It was crazy how much just having Cassiah back in his life had brightened his mood and lifted a weight off his shoulders. He had hated feeling like strangers. Now he could say hello to her in the dining hall, or chat with her before their classes together began. She even joined him and Dean and Neville for dinner one night. It felt good having the Slytherin girl at the Gryffindor table with him again – just like old times.

On Wednesday, he’d received an Owl from Fred and George telling him – not asking – that they were coming to visit him for the weekend and that he’d better be ready to show them a good time as his guests. He’d immediately been ecstatic; He and his brothers had always done everything together at Hogwarts and being here without them the past few months just hadn’t felt the same. He knew that he would have to throw an absolute rager if he was going to even come close to the parties that they used to throw in their time at the school.

He and Harry decided that they’d throw the party in the Room of Requirement on Saturday night after the Quidditch match against Ravenclaw, fully anticipating having a win to celebrate. Ravenclaw house, they said, could still come despite their impending loss. In fact, anyone was invited who wanted to come – even Slytherins, though they doubted they would. Ron wanted this to be the biggest party of the year to impress the twins, and he knew Harry felt the same way, as he’d always looked up to them, too.

Friday night, Ron came up to the Slytherin tables at dinner and personally invited Cassiah and her friends to the table. That was pretty big of him, he thought, considering the bad blood between him and Malfoy and his friends, but it was for Cassiah’s sake. He knew she’d feel uncomfortable if he excluded her friends right in their faces, and he really wanted her to come. This was going to be the first party they went to post-breakup as friends. He even invited her to the pregame in his and Harry’s dorm (he didn’t invite Malfoy or anyone else to that, though).

As he headed back to the dorms, he couldn’t help but wonder what kind of drunk Cassie he’d see the next night. It really was entirely unpredictable. Sometimes the alcohol wouldn’t hit her no matter how much she drank, and she’d be practically sober the entire night. She’d drink him under the table and laugh at him as he did his haphazard cartwheels around the room and told all his friends how much he loved them after a few drinks. Those used to be the nights when they were unstoppable pong partners, and they’d come back to his dorm and eat junk food naked in bed and have dreamy drunk sex before passing out.

Other times, seemingly at random, she’d get knocked on her ass, absolutely obliterated. Those were the nights when she’d dance and scream songs at the top of her lungs and grind up against him so shamelessly while other people watched jealously. She was crazy and while sometimes she was difficult to control, Ron loved her for it. They would be the fun couple, spinning around and around in the Gryffindor common room under the colored lights, exchanging sloppy kisses and falling all over each other. On those nights, Cassiah would suddenly be best friends with every single person in the room, playing pong with a random seventh year guy or chatting with some girl she’d never seen before in her life, and Ron loved to watch her sparkle. There was something so magical about her when she wasn’t worried about what people were thinking for once. He had always wished she could be like that all the time.

He’d escort her back to her room and she’d be practically dancing down the hallway, a solo cup full of liquor she stole hidden underneath her jacket. A goofy grin spread across his face as he remembered one specific night from the beginning of sixth year when she’d pulled her drink and chugged it right in front of prefects that were patrolling the hallway. She was bloody crazy when she was drunk sometimes, so different now that they were older now than the quiet girl he’d met first year. She was his crazy.

If he remembered correctly, he’d yacked in the Slytherin girl’s bathroom that night and she’d drunkenly nursed him back to health even though she was deathly afraid of vomit.

He wondered what tomorrow night would hold.

As he approached his dorm he shared with the other seventh year guys, he heard lively chatter that wasn’t typical of this time of the day. It was seemingly chaotic. What the bloody hell was going on in there?

When Ron entered the room, his question was immediately answered.

“Ronald!” Fred and George both crowed, extended their arms in a warm welcome.

Ron picked up the pace, rushing across the room to greet his brothers.

“Hey!” he answered, smiling widely but slightly exasperated, “What’s all the excitement about?”

“Besides our very presence?” Fred joked, raising an eyebrow.

“We were giving the boys a sample of our new line,” answered George, gesturing to the boxes littering all the surfaces in the room. “Now, if everyone could give us a moment with the baby brother, we’d appreciate it.”

Ron blushed crimson and swatted his brother in the arm for referring to him as a baby, but couldn’t help but smile anyways, especially as he noticed his favorite mischievous look in the twins’ eyes.

Fred smirked at him. “We were about to go see Hagrid and pick up some stuff, if you care to join?” he offered, wiggling his eyebrows.

“You know I’m in, Freddie,” Ron answered immediately, “Let’s get away from all these bumbling idiots, yeah?” He grinned. It felt good to have more of his family around. Sure, Ginny was here, and they got up to plenty of their own misadventures, but he always felt a vague sense of duty to protect her and be a good role model for her. That certainly had never been the dynamic with the twins. They were never interested in being a role model for Ron; they were interested in corrupting him, and he was definitely interested in being corrupted.

The three Weasley boys departed from the dorm and began the long trek down to Hagrid’s hut. They chatted quietly for a while about the shop and their parents, and more than once ended up pushing and shoving each other playfully into the dirt.

“Why are you still buying from Hagrid?” questioned Ron as they approached the hut, “Surely you two would know a plug that’s a bit easier to access.”

“His stuff hits different, Ron, and you know it,” George explained, “And for cheap, too, cause he knows he’s selling to broke students.”

Just then, the front door burst open and Hagrid appeared with open arms, “Fred! George! My boys! Get in here!”

All three red-headed boys shuffled into the little hut, where they were greeted by warm air and the comforting smell of fire. It was a bit of a tight fit with the three Weasleys and Hagrid all in the hut, considering that Ron was almost as tall and broad as his brothers now, but they made it work for old time’s sake. As they gathered around the tiny table, George produced a wad of cash from his pocket and handed it to Hagrid in exchange for his goods, tucked carefully into a pretty sizable leather pouch.

“That’s a lot of weed,” Ron commented jealously.

“Not just weed,” Fred replied with a mischievous glint in his eye that Ron knew too well. He grabbed the bag from George and reached inside, producing a baggie full of mushrooms, and other drugs Ron couldn’t be bothered to name.

“I hate shrooms,” he said in response, wrinkling his nose at the memory of the first time he’d tried it. He hadn’t had a bad trip or anything. It just was overwhelming for him.

“So you’re not tripping with us when you come visit home soon?”

Ron scoffed, “Yeah, right. I never said that. Just don’t tell Harry, you know how he gets."

The twins and Hagrid chuckled quietly at Ron’s willpower (or lack thereof), before Hagrid sat up a bit in his chair to ask the twins about how things were going for them after finishing up their time at Hogwarts.

“Things are getting more serious with me and Angie,” confessed George, looking a bit bashful.

“He’s being modest,” Fred interrupted, “She sleeps over just about every night at the point. Even brings him coffee at the shop when we’re working weekends. It’d be sweet if it wasn’t so downright obnoxious.”

“You’re just mad she switched twins.”

“For the last time, I never had feelings for her, you git!” Fred replied back, smacking George on the back of the head playfully.

Ron watched in bewilderment before gesturing for Hagrid to pass the joint and taking a long pull.

“So how are you doing, Ronnie?” George asked Ron, who looked at him, puzzled.

“You know, with single life,” Fred supplied.

Ron was so flustered by the question that he coughed, spewing out smoke like a chimney. His brothers were always the only people who would ask him the questions he didn’t want to answer, but somehow he hadn’t been expecting it. He was honestly a bit annoyed at first. Why did they have to go and ruin a perfectly good time by talking about Cassie? He felt good about where and Cassiah were in their relationship now, with being friends, but he knew that his brothers wouldn’t like it. He knew they’d have an opinion about it, and he wasn’t super interested in hearing it.

“Still single,” Ron huffed, diverting his eyes to the floor and hoping that he’d be able to successfully avoid the topic altogether. He felt Hagrid eyes watching him, but he knew the giant wouldn’t say anything.

The twins, however, would say something.

“And that makes you feel?” George pushed, half-joking, but also clearly interested in hearing a real answer.

“I feel bloody brilliant,” Ron replied matter-of-factly, “Cassie and I are friends, just like before, so there’s not really anything to be concerned about.”

Fred and George, for once, were dead silent. Ron watched warily and his brothers turned to look at each other, and he couldn’t read the silent conversation that was happening between them. From the incredulous looks on their faces, however, he knew that he’d definitely set himself up for a lecture.

“I’m sorry, we must have misheard you. Because it sounded like you said that you and Cassie are ‘friends like before,’” George said.

“And that simply cannot be the case because you’re not a bloody idiot,” Fred finished.

Ron felt his jaw clench and his blood pressure rise. He was sure that if there’d been better lighting, everyone in the room would have seen his ears turn red because he could almost feel steam coming out of them. It was just so bloody frustrating for everyone to always have an opinion on his relationship, whether it be his friends in the past thinking he and Cassie should be together, or his brothers thinking they shouldn’t be friends now. He had so many other people’s opinions about their relationship flooding his brain that he felt like he was drowning in them. It was maddening to the point that he didn’t even know what his own opinion was anymore. All he knew was that being friends with Cassiah made him feel good, and not being friends with her made him feel bad.

He had to get his anger under control. He hated this hot, bubbling feeling he got in his chest sometimes. It was hard to remind himself that people were all just trying to look out for his best interests when they inserted their opinions, but it was hard.

Deep breath.

“I’m not a bloody idiot. We were friends before, and we– we talked about it and this is what works for us. I mean, you guys are friends with her. You know how good of a friend she is,” Ron rushed to explain, and then waited expectantly for the group’s response. He couldn’t help but let out a little snort when he remembered Hagrid’s presence here. All the giant wanted to do was get super high and talk about magical creatures and debate the existence of basic human concepts, and now he here the poor lad was at this impromptu family therapy session. One more angsty red head in the room and it would be Sunday dinner at the Weasley’s house instead of a smoke circle.

Fred was nodding and Ron was suddenly aware that his brother was talking, “Yeah, I get that. I do love Cassie. We all do.”

“We miss her, even,” added George.

“Well, good thing you’ll be seeing her tomorrow night at Ron and Harry’s party,” Hagrid said out of nowhere.

All three boys turned to look at him in surprise.

“How do you know about the party?” Ron asked incredulously. He hadn’t been down to see Hagrid in a good two weeks and hadn’t mentioned the party or even the twins coming to him. Based on the twins’ reaction, they hadn’t told him either.

Hagrid smiled knowingly to himself, rocking back in his chair, “You think you’re the only one who comes down here to vent about their bullshit? Who do you think Harry babbles to about how in love with your sister he is? Because we all know he’s smart enough not to tell you.”

___________

It was a weird feeling to be getting ready for a Gryffindor party without Hermione and Ginny. That’s the way things had been for the past year – the three of them getting ready before meeting up with the boys. As if that wasn’t unsettling enough, now Cassiah was getting ready to show up to this pregame alone – none of her Slytherin friends would be there until another two hours later. Suddenly, she was feeling a nervousness she hadn’t felt in a long while. What if she felt out of place at the party? What if things were weird with her and the Gryffindors? With her and Ron?

Ron seemed so... comfortable; confident. He never stuttered asking her to hang out, and he talked to her like being her friend was the most natural feeling in the world. For him, it seemed like nothing had changed at all, like they’d never dated, and they’d always just been good friends. She knew she was doing a solid job of acting and matching his nonchalance about the situation, but inside, she still felt uneasy. She wasn’t sure what was okay to say or do around him anymore. On the contrary, he seemed to know exactly how to act. It wasn’t fair how he could just not overthink things, and she’d be stuck reliving their interactions when she lay in bed at night. Thank God they were getting drunk tonight. Maybe she’d be able to shut her brain off and feel normal around him for once.

And if she spent a little extra time on her hair and makeup for Ron’s sake... No one could prove that. So what if she knew that straight hair and a smokey eye was his favorite on her, or a certain pair of tight, black jeans got his mind going in certain ways? That if she wore a lowcut top he’d spend the whole night pointedly staring at absolutely anything else? None of that was her problem.

She did feel a little bit better knowing that Ginny and Hermione weren’t going to be at the pregame. She had been nervous that they would be, especially considering that Ginny was Harry’s girlfriend, but it turns out they wouldn’t be getting to the party until late because they had a club meeting.

Cassiah also felt better knowing that she wouldn’t be forced into any awkward conversations with them once they did arrive. She’d told Ron that while she didn’t have any bad feelings towards the girls, she also wasn’t really interested in rekindling their friendship at the moment and wanted to keep her friendship with him separate. He understood. He always did.

She must’ve stood outside the door to the boys’ dormitory for a good three minutes before finally getting up the nerve to push it open. She was immediately met with a draft of cold air – the boys must’ve cracked open a window to smoke – and the smell of muggle-beer and Firewhiskey.

“Cassiah!” Dean called to her, “Fred and George are here, come say hey!” He grabbed her by the arm and ushered her in. Immediately, she felt herself relax a bit. If things were this comfortable with Dean, that was a good start. Although she was nervous to see her ex’s brothers for the first time, they had been her friends, too, so...

“Cassiah Black!” Fred broke into a huge grin at the sight of her and pulled her into a huge hug. She squeezed him back tight, taking in the smell of intoxication already lingering on his clothes.

He passed her off to George, who offered her an equally enthusiastic hug and burying her into his shoulder before releasing her. When she looked up from George’s warm embrace, her world seemed to slow to a stop. Standing there, waiting for his turn to greet her, was Ron. He was wearing one of her favorite t-shirts of his, from some old muggle band that his father had shown him – the Who. It clung to his arms and his body just right in a way that made Cassiah want to reach out and squeeze... The way that his eyes met hers for a moment made time move slow.

And then the moment was over.

“Hey Cassiah,” he smiled, holding out a solo cup in greeting. He’d made her a drink. It wasn’t lost on her, however, how he called by her real name and not his old nickname for her.

“Thanks, Ronald,” she said, trying to act like her heart was beating out of her chest. She lifted the cup up to her nose and examined the contents. “Bloody hell,” she scoffed when she got a whiff of it, “What did you put in this?”

“Everything,” Ron smirked at her, reaching out to clink his cup against hers in a cheers, “Just how you like it.”

Cassiah giggled softly at that, feeling a blush rise to her cheeks at how well he still knew her. “I’m a grown woman now, Ron. I don’t mix my liquors anymore,” she chided. She swirled the contents of her cup, and then stared at his, which was definitively less full than hers. “Merlin, who am I kidding?” she shook her head, exasperated, “Down the hatch. Match me?”

“Always.”

With that, Cassiah wrinkled her nose and brought her cup up to her lips. She took huge gulps, not even tasting Ron’s horribly awesome concoction but feeling it burn all the way down but fell short of finishing her drink by just a few sips. When she took her cup away from her lips, Ron did the same, and then leaned over to examine her work.

“Pussy,” he teased, showing off his empty cup.

“You know bloody well I’m bad at chugging things,” Cassiah replied, pouting slightly, “Plus, you had a head start, cheater.” She glanced around the room, watching all the boys and the few girls who were invited interact with each other. She was painfully aware that she was the most sober person there, and that simply wouldn’t do. Especially not when everyone else was busy and it was just her and Ron, alone in a crowded room. She didn’t trust herself to act socially normal. She got awkward sometimes and Ron was always so cool, so casual.

“Looks like I’ve got some catching up to do,” she joked, “Take a shot with me, and then we can play some games or something. Oh! Can we play Kings?”

“Yes to shots – plural – and yes to Kings,” Fred interrupted, inserting himself into the conversation.

After convincing Cassiah to do a few more rounds of shots than originally intended, everyone gathered in a small circle on the floor with a can of muggle-beer and a deck of cards in the middle.

“It’s easy,” Seamus was explaining to a sixth-year girl Cassiah had never seen before, “Each card is a different rule, like 6 means girls drink, 5 is guys, and so on. Once we do the action the card says, you put the card under the tab of the can. If it pops, you chug.”

Cassiah purposefully positioned herself in between a big, broad wall of Weasley twins so that she wouldn’t have to sit next to Ron. She was so happy to be hanging out with him but sitting this close, she knew her skin would be on fire. She wouldn’t be able to resist reaching out and touching him.

Sitting next to the twins probably wasn’t her wisest choice because that gave them a bit too much power in their personal mission to get her a drunk as possible (They had kept cheering, “Black out at the pregame!“) but she wasn’t mad about it. Although admittedly, she’d nearly drowned when she’d had to follow George in a waterfall.

The first time the can popped, it was Harry who’d had to drink it, and he hadn’t complained. Then, they restarted the game. Ron was the first person to pull a card.

“Eight,” he stated, staring at the card, “Merlin, I can’t remember all these bloody rules. What’s eight mean?”

“Eight, pick a date. Your date has to drink whenever you do, and vice versa,” Fred readily supplied.

Harry looked at Ron expectantly and asked, “So, who’s it gonna be, Ronnie?,” making it very obvious to everyone in the room he wanted Ron to choose him as his partner.

Ron glanced around the circle once and then peered over to where Cassiah was tucked between his brothers, hidden from view.

“Cassie,” he declared, smiling warmly at her and raising his glass in salute.

Cassiah smiled back and took her obligatory sip of her drink, but in reality, her throat was closing up. Ron had picked her as his date. Obviously, not a real date, but there had to be some significance there. He could’ve picked anyone in the room, and he’d actively picked her, and so confidently... And he’d called her Cassie. She thought her stomach was going to explode from all the butterflies.

She’d assumed that Ron being so casual about their friendship was a sign that this was what he really wanted out of their relationship, but maybe he was acting, too, just like she was. Maybe he secretly wanted more.

Either way, as partners – or dates – she and Ron successfully managed to get decently drunk before it was time to head down to the Room of Requirement for the party – drunk enough to the point that as they were trying to fill up cups with water at the pong table, they were dropping empty cups to go clattering loudly all over the floor and wheezing laughing so hard that they had to lean on the table for support. Everything just felt so right, being like this with him.

People showed up right on time and in huge amounts. Apparently, none of them had ever heard of being fashionably late, Cassiah noted. She knew, however, that the Slytherins would show up at least 40 minutes after everyone else.

Cassiah, Dean, Neville, and Ron had been sitting on a couch while Ron showed off how he could burp the alphabet when the doors opened and in walked Ginny, Hermione, and Cho.

Ron looked nervously between the group of girls and Cassiah, and she knew that terrified look in his eyes all too well. The last thing she wanted was to make him feel like he had to choose. She gave him a knowing, soft look that immediately set him at ease.

“If you lads will excuse me, I’ve got some business to attend to, people to entertain,” Ron said as he rose to his feet, albeit a bit clumsily, and swaggered across the room. Cassiah didn’t want to watch, feeling a weird sinking feeling in her stomach at the sight of her old friends, but she also didn’t want to look away. She couldn’t help but laugh at how Ron immediately fell into big-brother mode and was apparently teasing Ginny by purposefully messing up her hair.

Cassiah had always loved seeing how Ron was with his family. It let her get a little sneak peek into how he would be with their own family one day. Would’ve been, she corrected herself.

But there was no sense in dwelling on such things. Her relationship with Ron was looking promising after the way he’d been acting at the pregame, so she might as well just let loose and have fun with her friends for the night. For once, maybe she could stop worrying about it.

She busied herself with a game of beer pong with George as her partner, and they won. they actually ended up winning the whole tournament. She and George were doing a clumsy, probably-embarrassing victory dance when she felt a tap on her shoulder.

She turned around and broke into a huge smile when she saw platinum hair. “Draco! You came!” she shrieked, flinging herself into her arms.

“Cass! You’re so drunk!” he mimicked in reply, giving her a playful pat on the back, but his pupils were so blown out he couldn’t really judge her for being a little messy at the moment.

“Are the others here?” Cassiah asked, rising onto her tiptoes as if that would possibly help her see her friends over the massive crowd.

Draco nodded, gesturing absently behind him, “They’re somewhere around, if you wanna grab a drink and try to find them.”

“Yes! Of course I do, I have sooo much to tell you,” Cassiah giggled in response, grabbing onto the sleeve of Draco’s button-down and leading him towards the bar.

Once they got their drinks, Cassiah momentarily abandoned the idea of finding the other Slytherins and forced Draco onto the makeshift dance floor with her, determined to make the boy dance. He didn’t dance like Ron, who would be acting like an idiot and shaking his ass, but danced in a very Draco way, stiffly shifting back and forth as he sipped his drink. He and Cassiah were quite the contrasting pair.

“Don’t you think the strobe lights make you feel drunker?” Cassiah absorbed, moving her hips to the music and feeling it take over her body.

“Definitely. I have to admit those Gryffindor pansies through a pretty decent party,” Draco replied. “So what did you have to tell me?” he asked curiously, sipping on his drink.

Stacy’s Mom started playing out of the speaker and Cassiah knew immediately that Fred had gotten control of the music.

“Things are definitely improving between me and Ron!” Cassiah gushed, feeling more confident than she has since the breakup.

When Draco looked skeptical, she explained, “Seriously, Malfoy. You should’ve seen the way he was acting towards me at the pregame. I think he wants to be more than friends, too. He- He was so attentive and making sure to include me. And he kept looking at me with this look in his eye, like I was the only girl in the room, and I–”

“Cass, please–”

“He picked me as his partner in our game and I can’t help but think, you know, that has to have some significan–”

“Cassiah, turn around.”

Not thinking anything of it, and not picking up on the serious tone of Draco’s voice in her drunken state, she immediately turned on her heels and glanced around the room. She didn’t see it at first. That is, until she did.

There was Ron, leaning up against the bar, talking to a pretty blonde girl who was perched on a stool. The girl was very clearly enjoying his company, laughing cutely at one of his signature jokes. Ron had such a magnetic personality, Cassiah couldn’t blame her. And Ron? He had that flirty grin on his face, and he looked... happy. So happy.

Cassiah felt bile rise in her mouth and blood rush to her cheeks. “I– never mind,” she stuttered, immediately looking away to turn back to Draco.

“Cass, I’m sorry,” Draco soothed, reaching out to grab her arm, “It might not even mean anything. I mean, they’re just talking. I shouldn’t have said anything. N-Now you’re gonna overthink everything. Merlin, it’s probably nothing.”

Cassiah had never heard Draco say so many words. He was totally rambling and definitely drunk. But that didn’t change the sinking feeling of dread she felt in her chest. She’d made the whole thing up in her head. All Ron wanted was to be friends, and she had to be mature and accept that. At least it was an open bar.

___________

The room was spinning in the most magnificent way. Ron truly was on the perfect level, especially after shotgunning muggle-beers with Harry and hearing everyone cheer. Everyone seemed to be having an amazing time at the party, although it was clearing out now. Neville and Luna had left about half an hour ago, and Dean had been with some Hufflepuff girl last time he checked.

He thought he’d also seen the interesting combination of Draco, Cassiah, Fred, and George on top of a table dancing to Hotel Room Service. It was a funny sight to see Draco dance so uninhibitedly but he kind of liked it. His favorite, however, was watching Cassiah go off, knowing it was her favorite song. She was singing every word at the top of her lungs, alternating jumping up and down and then dropping it to the floor. He gulped at the sight of her arse in those tight, black jeans. He couldn’t look at that. But when he trained his eyes upwards, all he could focus on was her deep cleavage in that top. Bloody hell, it was so not okay for him to look at her like this. But the way she moved... Why was she so sexy when she was like this?

But that had been about twenty minutes ago, and he didn’t know where any of them were anymore. The night was winding down, and he felt instinctively drawn to her. It felt natural to find her at the end of a party and clumsily clean up empty cups and talk about the events, like old times. He wasn’t sure what that implied about what the “new times” were, but he didn’t care. He was living in the moment, and he wanted to do what he wanted to do.

He made his rounds around the party but found no Cassiah. He did find Draco and Pansy – a rude way to find out that they were back together, but whatever – and finally Fred and George in the center of a small mosh pit.

“Hey guys, have you seen Cassiah?” he asked, not thinking anything of it.

“Nah,” Fred answered honestly, “What’s it to you, though, Ronnie? She’s not your girlfriend.”

Ron knew his brother didn’t mean it in a rude way, but it still pissed him off enough to walk away without saying another word. He didn’t want to ruin this amazing night by fighting with Fred.

And then he saw her, sitting on top of a pool table and playing absently with a pool cue. That was also when he saw him. He was standing in between Cassiah’s legs and talking closely with her, tucking a strand of her messed-up hair behind her ear.

He didn’t know who he was, but Ron’s chest instantly flared with white-hot jealousy. But as he watched the interaction further, that jealousy turned into something else – anger. He had a bad feeling.

“Hey, Cassie,” he said as he approached, gently placing a hand on Cassiah’s shoulder. She looked at him with an almost annoyed look in her eye, but he ignored it. “How are you doing?”

“Who the hell are you?” the boy asked, his tone harsh.

“I’m Ron Weasley, and this is my party,” Ron fired back, glaring at the other boy. Ron towered over him.

“I’m good, Ronald,” Cassiah answered, and Ron would’ve almost believed her if it weren’t for the slight slur in her words or the way she swayed slightly in her seat.

“She said she’s good, mate,” the guy reiterated with a stupid smirk on his face, “Nothing to worry about.”

“I’ll decide when there’s something to worry about,” Ron growled through gritted teeth, “Do you really think she looks sober enough to make this decision?”

“Merlin, chill out–”

“I will not chill out,” Ron cut him off harshly, “Please. Just walk away while you still have the physical ability to do so.” And he meant it. He felt that familiar, almost uncontrollable anger bubbling in his chest. As he felt the other boy leaving, he took a deep breath, grounding himself. When he looked up at Cassiah, her hazel eyes were hardened.

“What was that for, Weasley?” she spat, pushing his hand off of her arm from where he hadn’t even noticed it still had been.

“Cassie, I was just looking out for you–”

“Stop calling me that!” she yelled, her voice shrill, and Ron recoiled in alarm, completely not expecting that reaction. “You have no right to look out for me anymore,” she said, and even though her voice was calm, this new tone was even worse, Ron decided.

“I’m sorry,” Ron huffed, trying desperately to get her to look into his eyes, but failing, “I just didn’t want him to take advantage of you.”

“Maybe I wanted to hook up with someone else,” Cassiah shot back, and even she must’ve realized that she was being a little mean because her eyes softened. “I-I’m sorry. You’re right. I’m too drunk,” she stammered, embarrassed.

Ron decided to ignore the stabbing pain he felt in his chest when she said she wanted to hook up with someone else. That was a later problem. He pushed the feeling down.

He suddenly felt very small, like a little boy, and he knew his voice sounded like it, too, as he said, “Y-you’re obviously allowed to hook up with whoever you want. I just wanted to make sure you weren’t too drunk to be doing that.”

“You’re right,” Cassiah shook her head, burying her face in her hands in embarrassment, “God, this is humiliating. Can we please pretend that this never happened?”

I mean, we’re already pretending that a lot of things didn’t happen, so what’s one more? Ron thought. Out loud, he chuckled quietly and said, “Of course. Now let’s get you home.”

Cassiah would just barely remember the walk home, but she did remember the way they’d stumbled through the hallways, laughing and making fun of each other and holding hands, and the way Ron kept a careful eye on her to make sure she was okay. Because if he couldn’t be hers, he still cared.

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