Chapter 2 – Wake and Break my Heart
I wanna sleep next to you
But that’s all I wanna do right now
So come over now and talk me down
Talk Me Down, Troye Sivan
Ron had barely slept an hour, and when he did wake up, he was too painfully numb and sad for even his ritual wake and bake. He felt like one of the ghosts that traipsed around the castle. His feet were heavy as he trudged around his room, threw on his uniform, and headed down to the Great Hall for breakfast.
The guys were all chattering busily around him, talking about what antics they got up to on their first night back, but all Ron could do was sit silently and push his oatmeal around with his spoon. He couldn’t even eat – that’s how he knew it was bad. Not even the fluffy croissants or perfectly crisp bacon called to him. All he could do was replay last night’s events over.
Cassiah had said that Draco wasn’t taking advantage of her. That was a good thing, obviously, but it also meant that Cassie wanted to be there in that room alone with Draco, on his bed, with him touching her face... his Cassie wanted all of that.
In the back of his head, he knew that he had broken up with her and she had every right to do whatever she wanted now that she was single, but it felt like such a betrayal for her to move on so soon. And with Malfoy of all people. That stung a bit extra.
And on top of the hurt he felt over Cassiah already moving on from him after a whole, magical year together, he felt stupid. He’d embarrassed himself by accusing Malfoy of hurting Cassiah and made a total arse of himself. He’d looked jealous and obsessive. Merlin, why couldn’t he and Harry have just stayed in and messed around with the rest of the guys.
Ron’s first class of the year was Potions, which he already had the pleasure of knowing was a class he shared with Cassiah, because as of a week ago they were in a relationship and had excitedly shared their schedules with each other. Merlin, he should have thought this through – he and Cassie had purposefully planned to have two classes together, and now they were going to be awkward and miserable.
When he entered the classroom, he realized he didn’t know anyone else in the class, except for Neville. Ron had planned to sit with Cassiah and work together for the whole semester, but obviously he had to make new plans. He plopped down in a seat next to Neville, who raised an eyebrow at him, glancing between him and Cassiah curiously. Ron did not feel like having this conversation this morning.
“What?” he grumbled, smoothing his hands over his threadbare sweater, “Just wanted to sit with you. You’re good at Potions, right?”
“Decent, I guess...” Neville answered, not wanting to dig any further on a Monday morning.
Ron was just getting out his textbook, wrinkling his nose at it (he hated Potions), as she walked into the room. Her dark brown hair was hanging just below her shoulders as she’d just cut it before they broke up, and her eyes were lined with smoky, black liner. She was a vision. Not too perfectly put-together – that was never her vibe – but looking way too effortlessly beautiful for this early in the morning. He almost forgot for a second that she wasn’t his anymore and felt his heart swell with relief at the sight of her.
That is, until she completely avoided looking at him altogether and took her seat at a table with Malfoy, Blaise, and Crabbe. Of course she was sitting with Malfoy, her new boyfriend, Ron thought bitterly as his mood soured once again. He never thought she would be the kind of girl to put such little value in relationships. But she was a Slytherin, after all. These were her true colors.
Across the room, Cassiah and the Slytherin guys were busying themselves with brewing their potions. She was dutifully avoiding looking to the back of the room where she knew Ron would be sitting, and instead pouring all her attention into the guys. She’d honestly expected him to break by now, to admit that he had messed up and wanted to fix things, but clearly, he felt good about his decision. He wasn’t changing his mind, so she needed to show him that she was fine without him. Plus, it was like Pansy had said, she was Cassiah fucking Black and he was Ron Weasley. Surely, there were more impressive guys out there.
But the thing was, she didn’t care about any of that. She just wanted him. She wanted Ron Weasley and his goofy disposition and his giant heart. Or at least she thought he had a big heart. Now she wasn’t so sure.
Draco had been treating her so gently since their run-in in the bathroom last night, and although normally she would be annoyed about being babied by anyone like this, she appreciated knowing that someone was watching out for her. He studied her carefully as she stirred the cauldron, and spoke out loud to the group, hoping that not only his friends, but the rest of the class would hear,
“Can we all just agree with Cassiah is way out of Weasley’s league anyways? For Merlin’s sake, she’s the daughter of Sirius Black and he’s what? A human hand-me-down.”
Normally, Cassiah would fume at Draco for insulting Ron like that, but she couldn’t help but feel a bit vindicated, especially when she saw Ron’s fists clench and his jaw set as all eyes fell on him. She was honestly surprised he wasn’t firing back. Maybe he was actually ashamed of what he did and would stay silent. He should be.
Crabbe sneered from across the table, and Cassiah averted her eyes. She always hated the guy.
“I mean,” he started, giving Cassiah a once-over, “I kind of thought that she and Weasley were good together. He’s a traitor, and she’s not a real Black. Not really. Anyone can be the product of a one-night stand a lack of contraceptive potion. How can we even really know it was him?”
Everyone in the room fell completely silent. Cassiah’s heart dropped down to her knees and her jaw dropped open. Sure, Crabbe was an arsehole, but what kind of sick pleasure would he get out of hitting her when she was down like this?
Draco glared daggers at Crabbe from across the table, “Why the bloody hell would you say that Crabbe? Who do you think you are?”
Crabbe smirked, but shied away a bit at Draco’s dominance, “S’just the truth.”
The conversation dropped there, but it was too late. Crabbe had already humiliated her in front of everyone. Sure, everyone knew her lineage, but usually being Sirius’s daughter was like a badge of honor. For him to fling it around like an insult... She felt tears brew in her eyes, threatening to escape at any moment.
Sirius Black was her father. She was sure of that. Just like she was sure that if he knew about her, he’d love her.
But he didn’t. Sirius and her mother had spent one marvelous weekend together seventeen years ago. Her mother had ended up pregnant with Cassiah, and months later, before Cassiah’s mother could ever track him down, Sirius ended up in Azkaban. He never knew about his only daughter. But he was still her dad, and she was still a Black. For Crabbe to try to strip that from her, such a crucial part of her identity... Even if she’d never known Sirius, she had his name, and more importantly, his talent and his drive.
She couldn’t hold it back anymore, and she stormed out of the room in a hot anger. No one was going to get to see her cry – not Crabbe, not her classmates, and especially not Ron. She was fine.
Ron’s entire body roared with red hot anger when he heard what Crabbe had said about Cassiah and her lineage. Everyone knew that she was Sirius’s daughter, but for him to joke about that and slander her in front of the class? It was horrible. All he wanted was to burst out of his seat and smash the boy’s over-sized head into the wall. But he couldn’t. These weren’t his battles to fight anymore, and he doubted Cassiah would want him to get involved. Surely Draco could take care of her.
But his heart still broke for Cassiah. Even though she’d never met him, Ron knew how much her dad meant to her, and how much she loved him and everything he stood for.
He hadn’t intended on getting involved – he really hadn’t – but the moment he saw Cassiah storm out, her face set with a quiet rage he knew she was using to mask her hurt, he couldn’t stop himself. As the class was dismissed, he rose from his seat and called out across the room,
“I’d watch what your back, Crabbe.”
Crabbe turned towards him slowly, smoothing over his green robes calmly, “What did you say to me? I know you didn’t just threaten me.”
Ron’s jaw twitched in anger as he neared the other boy, towering over him, “I said I’d watch your back.”
“And why’s that?” Crabbe raised his eyebrow cruelly, “S’not like she’s your girlfriend anymore.”
He couldn’t take it anymore. Ron grabbed a fistful of Crabbe’s collared shirt and jerked him forward harshly, “Now listen here-”
“Gentlemen,” Draco interrupted, placing a hand on both of the boys’ shoulders, “Let’s keep things civil here.” Ron felt Malfoy’s hand removing his grasp from Crabbe’s uniform, and he took a deep breath.
Ron stuttered, “Civil? You wanna talk civil, Malfoy? How about the fact that you made her cry last night, in your room? Do you like making girls cry?”
Draco furrowed his brow and looked Ron up and down with distaste, “You really are daft as daft as they say, aren’t you? I wasn’t the reason Cassiah was crying last night. She was crying over you.”
It was the worst day of her life, and it had started out so well. She’d just come back from shopping for new robes and other clothes with her mom and was excited to show Ron a few of the more unique pieces she’d got when they met up in Diagon Alley. When she saw him, she immediately quickened her pace, flinging herself into his arms and wrapping him in a hug. She didn’t even notice that he hadn’t even taken a step forward, let alone rushed to see her.
His hug felt stiff, but he was probably just caught off-guard and uncomfortable with showing PDA in public. He was always weird about that sort of thing.
“Hey handsome. I missed you this week,” she smiled softly, running a pedicured hand through the soft, red hair at the base of his neck.
Ron smiled tightly, “Missed you, too.” He shuffled his feet against the uneven cobblestones of the alley, “Can we walk somewhere? I just want to talk really quick.”
Cassiah frowned for a moment, “Uhh, sure. Not sure why we can’t talk here, but whatever you want, I guess.” She glanced over at him, but he wouldn’t meet her eyes. “Is everything okay?”
“Yeah. Yes, of course,” he nodded quickly, taking her hand and leading her down a side street where no one else was around. It was a beautiful day out, and even in this side street, she could still hear the chatter of wizards shopping and street musicians playing in the distance.
“I don’t know how to say this,” Ron admitted softly, finally looking into her eyes, his own blue-green ones shaking.
Cassiah’s heart sank. This wasn’t happening. It truly wasn’t. It couldn’t be. Not her and Ron. They weren’t like other couples. They were the real deal.
He took a shaky breath and let it out, unable to break eye contact with her because he knew it would be the last time that she ever looked at him like that. He finally spoke, “I don’t think we should be together anymore.”
“I don’t think it’s good for either of us anymore.”
Cassiah’s heart started beating so fast that she was sure she would throw up, “What do you even mean? Sure, it’s been hard being separated during the summer but, but- I-”
“Cassie, please don’t make this any harder. I don’t even know if this is the right thing to do but it’s our final year and I want to do right by both of us,” Ron’s voice sounded so small, like he could barely find the breath behind his words.
He reached out for her hand, but she snatched it away, “But there’s nothing wrong. And if there is, surely we can fix it if it wasn’t important enough to bring up until now. Can we please talk about this?” When Ron said nothing, the tears finally began to leak out, and she couldn’t help but yell, “Please, Ron, please!” Her voice broke.
“We can talk but I don’t think that it will fix things,” he said in an eerily calm voice.
Cassiah couldn’t stand and listen to it anymore. Not when her whole world was shattering around her. Not when she was being completely blind-sided by the one person she trusted more than anyone in the world. Her person.
“Then I don’t see the point and sitting here and hashing out the details if you’ve already set your mind to it,” she said, trying to sound composed but failing as she continued crying, and crying turned into sobbing.
Ron nodded, feeling completely numb in shock to what he’d just done, “Okay.”
Cassiah snapped, “Okay? That’s all you have to say to me is ‘okay?!’ Are you fucking kidding me, Ron?” She turned on her heel and started to march away.
“Stop yelling! Don’t storm out, Cassie-”
“Why would I not storm out when you just shattered by heart!” she screamed, not caring who heard the scene he had created as she raced out of the side street, crying harder than she ever had before. She couldn’t breathe, she thought she was going to faint–
“Cass, what happened?” Hermione grabbed the sleeve of Cassiah’s robe and pulled her into a hug, “Why are you crying?”
Cassiah blinked hard, having just relived her break up with Ron for the fifth time that day. He truly did not care about her anymore. When Crabbe had started bullying her like that, she thought for sure that even though they were broken up, Ron would have defended her because she thought he was a good guy. She was wrong.
“Crabbe said some absolutely horrible comment about me not being Sirius’s legitimate daughter in front of the whole class, and Ron was there and he didn’t say a word. He just watched the whole thing happen. ’Mione, he really doesn’t care about me anymore at all. I don’t understand how he can just turn his feelings off like that,” Cassiah mused, buried her face into the shorter girl’s shoulder so that no one passing by them could see her tears.
Hermione frowned, “That is so messed up, Cass. I’m so sorry. I truly do not know what is going on with that boy. This is all just so unlike him. He worshipped the ground you walked on and now he’s pretending like he didn’t know you.”
“I know,” Cassiah sniffled.
After she caught her breath and her crying subsided, Cassiah pulled away from Hermione and forced a small smile over her lips. “Would you help me clean up a little? I don’t wanna walk all around the castle looking like a raccoon,” she laughed, swiping fruitlessly as the black eyeliner smudged all under her eyes. She probably shouldn’t be bothering with make up if she was going to keep crying it off, but she also wasn’t going to sacrifice her appearance, especially not in front of Ron.
Ron was alone. After a whole day of being constantly surrounded by people, he was finally alone. Thank Merlin. He wasn’t sure how much longer he would’ve been able to hold it together in front of his friends and classmates, and he didn’t feel like having this breakdown publicly. All the other guys had gone to play some Quidditch outside after class, and Ron took the opportunity to retire to the dormitories alone.
The moment the door shut behind him, he raced forward to his bed and curled up with his pillow hugged to his chest, not even bothering to get under the covers. He knew he’d end up thrashing around and throwing them off, anyways.
He couldn’t breathe. He wanted to cry but the tears just wouldn’t come, and instead this feeling was building in his chest, tighter and tighter until he was afraid that he might actually burst. Was he having a heart attack?
He could not get the image of Cassiah’s broken face out of his mind, the scene replaying over and over throughout the day. Each time he felt more useless than the last. She was humiliated and hurting so badly, and he could do nothing but sit and watch. There was nothing he wanted in that moment that to grab her and whisk her away from that classroom, somewhere safe. He knew how sensitive she was, as much as she pretended not to be. All day, he was aching to hold her head to his chest and reassure her that everything was okay. That was his job for the last year, and it meant more to him than anything.
But he couldn’t take care of another human being right now. The anxiety of not knowing what he was doing with his future after Hogwarts and the realization that this school wasn’t his forever was too much. He was angry at the world, and scared, and he did not want to stay with Cassiah if that meant taking any of that out on her. He could barely even take care of himself. And if he couldn’t be all the way there for her in the way that she needed – the way he always had been – then he couldn’t be there at all. Leaving would hurt her less than him telling her that she – on top of everything else in his life – was too much for him to handle. Not when he’d always reassured her that she was never too much. He wouldn’t take that affirmation away from her.
So he had to keep his distance. As much as he wanted to run to her, so that they could lean on each other, the only way forward was apart. His mother had said that maybe in the future when they’d both grown a bit on their own, they could come back together, but he knew better. He knew that guy only gets one chance with a girl like that. And he was too proud to crawl back with his tail between his legs. How could he have the audacity to tell her he was hurting when he had hurt her so badly?
Hermione had tidied up Cassiah’s face and makeup fairly quickly and even managed to tame her brown hair that had become messy from running her hands through it into a fairly decent ponytail. It certainly wasn’t Cassiah’s best look, but she was definitely more presentable for the rest of her classes than she had been previously.
She and Ginny had planned to meet up after Divination, Cassiah’s personal favorite class, and study outside on the lawn together. They found a quiet spot in the middle of the green, which was bustling with activity in the beautiful early September weather, and settled down in the grass. They got to chatting about Ginny and Harry’s budding romance, and while it stung a bit to hear about how well other people’s relationships were going, Cassiah was relieved. She was afraid that Ginny would want to talk about Cassiah’s breakup with her brother, and Cassiah desperately did not want to have that awkward conversation. According to Ginny, things were getting pretty serious between her and Harry, and she was grinning ear to ear and blushing pink as she chattered about it.
She remembered when she and Ron were just starting out, and she was so excited, but also nervous about the idea of dating her friend, and having it not work out and losing him as a consequence. He’d assured her that would never happen, but here they were, with that promise broken. That was the worst part – losing Ron as one of her oldest friends.
As Ginny was gushing about her most recent date to visit London with Harry, a shadow cast over the two girls, and Cassiah looked up, squinting in the sun to see who it is. The silhouette crouched down and sat beside her, and she could see that it was Ernie Macmillian. She knew him from quick informational meetings they’d had as new prefects, but she had no idea why he’d plopped down next to her on the grass.
“Hey,” he said, brushing his sandy blonde bangs out of his face.
“Hey Ernie,” Cassiah chirped in reply, giving Ginny a quick puzzled glance before turning her attention back to the boy, “What’s happening?”
He smiled softly, clearly a little nervous, before sighing and mumbling under his breath a quiet here goes nothing that Cassiah could barely here, and finally said, “I don’t really know where to start with this, but it was really nice meeting you at the prefect meetings lately, and I’ve honestly always thought you were quite pretty.”
Cassiah smirked, “Just quite?” she laughed nervously, “I’m just kidding. Thank you, that’s really sweet.”
Although she was acting cool and collected, Cassiah was internally panicking. She and Ron had broken up not even a full two weeks ago. There was no way she should be flirting with Ernie Macmillian on the lawn right now.
But here she was.
“I... I was wondering if you’d like to hang out sometime,” he pushed his hair out of his eyes again, “Uh, alone. Not at a meeting. Like, a date... What I’m trying to say is, will you on a date with me?”
And Cassiah was just mad enough at Ron for ignoring her earlier that despite her heart screaming that she wasn’t ready, she smiled back at Ernie.