Chapter 5 – Say What You Mean
You say I’m changing
Sorry I didn’t know I had to stay the same
Can we talk about this later?
Your voice is driving me, driving me insane
Be Nice to Me, The Front Bottoms
Due to all the chaos of the week before, Cassiah was really hoping for an extraordinarily ordinary Monday. After helping a distressed first-year girl in the common rooms who could not figure out how to tie her tie, Cassiah left the Slytherin dormitories and headed to her first class of the day. Thankfully, the class was entirely uneventful. She sat in her usual seat with the Slytherin boys and stole the occasional glance at Ron, who was seated where he always was – in the back of the class with Neville.
It was when she was on her way to her second lecture that things took a turn for the worse – a really sharp turn.
Cassiah smiled as she saw Hermione ahead of her in the hallway and quickened her pace to a jog to catch up. “Mione, hey! Wait up!” she called, grabbing gently on the shorter girl’s arm.
They pulled over to the side of the hallway and Hermione gave Cassiah a tiny smile, “Hey.”
Immediately, Cassiah sensed that something was off. Ever since she’d been blindsided by Ron, her intuition had been heightened, almost like her instincts were trying to protect her from getting ambushed like that again. She frowned, concerned, “Is everything okay? I haven’t seen you in almost a week.” Until this moment, Cassiah hadn’t thought twice about not seeing Hermione. They were both very busy and in different houses, so it wasn’t crazy to think that their schedules would conflict.
Hermione glanced around, not liking that there were so many people in the hallway, but sighed and spoke her mind anyways, “Not really. Ginny told me about what happened. I really don’t like the way you lashed out at her. It’s really not okay.”
Cassiah’s jaw gaped open and she stuttered, “Are you kidding me? Hermione, first of all, she was totally in the wrong for spilling to the boys about my date, but second of all, it wasn’t that big of a deal.”
The curly-haired girl’s eyes hardened, “It was a really big deal to her when she was crying about it, Cassiah.”
Cassiah flinched when Hermione used her full name. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d called her that – it was probably over a year ago. Something about it felt very final – very permanent.
Hermione continued, “Ginny meant no harm. She was so traumatized from people so senselessly attacked. I told her that’s what we can expect from a girl who spends all her time being buddy-buddy with Draco Malfoy of all people.”
Cassiah’s breathing stopped for a second. What was happening? The girls had been so loyal to her through her whole recent break up, and now they were ganging up on her. The fight with Ginny was two-sided, and Cassiah refused to take the blame for the whole thing. It takes two to tango, and Ginny definitely was dancing.
And to attack her friendship with Draco?
“Draco’s been a much better friend to me these past several days than you have, actually. If you guys had been there for me since we got back to school, maybe I wouldn’t have to lean on him so much. But you weren’t, so I have. And he’s been a great friend.”
Hermione scoffed, “That’s rich, Cass. His parents are Death Eaters. He’s Draco Malfoy for crying out loud. Don’t act like he’s suddenly a good person.”
Cassiah had had enough. She wrinkled her nose, giving Hermione a once-over, and shook her head, “You Gryffindors are all the same. But you’re wrong. You’re wrong about all of it, but especially about him. ‘Draco Malfoy’ has one of the biggest hearts you’ll ever come across if you ever took to the time to actually get to know him. But you guys refuse to see it. And it’s a damn shame, because you’re missing out on a truly amazing friend.” Cassiah stared at Hermione for a second, her disposition having changed from angry to simply remorseful. Her voice quieted as she added, “I thought you of all people could understand not wanting to be judged based on other people’s perception. But until you learn that I don’t really want to be around you right now.”
Hermione scowled and walked away. As Cassiah turned to do the same, she almost crashed into tell-tale platinum hair and green robes.
Draco was wearing the softest smile she had ever seen from him, and his eyes were wonderstruck.
“Thank you,” he said earnestly, reaching out to hold on to her shoulder, “No one has ever done something like that for me before.” He was a man of few words, but based on just those words alone, Cassiah knew how much this meant to him. It saddened her that just the bare minimum of loyalty made such a large impression on him.
“Draco, of course,” she replied, staring up at him with earnest, “That’s what family’s for, right?” She gave him a wink.
He chuckled lightly, clearly a bit embarrassed at being so vulnerable, “Yeah. You’re finally acting like a true Slytherin after all these years.”
Cassiah laughed back with him and raised an eyebrow, “Well, I don’t have much choice other than House loyalty now. I think I just broke up with the last of my other friends for you, Malfoy.”
Draco smirked, “Fuck Gryffindor, anyway, right? Who needs ’em.”
Cassiah couldn’t help but think of Ron and the other Weasleys, but she kept up the joke, knowing that Draco meant no harm,
Ron and Hagrid had developed a sort of tradition last year after Fred and George had graduated of getting absolutely stoned down at the hut about once a week. For the sake of Hagrid’s job, no one else knew about it, besides Harry of course, but it had turned into a sort of refuge for Ron from the rest of the world. It was so peaceful down there, and Hagrid felt like family to him when he was away from the Burrow. Plus, with the twins gone, the half-giant was the only person at Hogwarts who could actually hang with him.
They had completely hot-boxed the hut and the air was thick with smoke when Ron spoke. “I bloody miss her.” Hagrid said nothing. He was a good person to talk to about these things because he knew when to be silent so that Ron could really get to the bottom of his thoughts. The red head sighed, “I was so happy. I don’t know why I couldn’t just let us stay happy. And now I’m left carrying a torch for her and she ends up not missing me at all. I never thought that any of this would happen.”
It was silent for a minute, the fire crackling in the background, before Ron continued. “She seems different,” he said, staring at the fire, “Does she seem different to you? You know, in class.”
Hagrid didn’t have to ask who Ron was talking about. “You talk first, then I’ll answer. Different how?” he asked. He knew he was the only person, except Harry sometimes, the boy felt comfortable talking to about his relationship. Ron just knew that Hagrid wouldn’t tease him like the guys his age for being a pussy.
Ron sighed, running a hand through his red hair, “I can’t put a finger on it. I obviously don’t spend time with her. But just when I see her around she seems... like she’s not fully there? Almost cold, but not cruel. Like she can’t be bothered.”
The older man nodded, “Perhaps she’s got something pretty heavy weighing on her mind. Something more important than dining hall banter or Care of Magical Creatures class.”
Ron sat up straighter at the mention of Hagrid’s class, “Ha. So you did notice it.”
“I’m staying uninvolved.”
“Uh huh,” Ron laughed lightly, “But you couldn’t possibly mean that you think she’s acting this way because of me?” When Hagrid did nothing but raise hie eyebrows, Ron shook his head and explained, “There’s no way. I wish. But bloody hell, she’s going on dates with other guys. I’m the last thing on her mind.”
Hagrid shifted in his seat, the old wood creaking under his size, “I can’t make you see it from the outside, Ronald.” Ron furrowed his brow, not understand the nuance of Hagrid’s words. Why couldn’t he just say what he meant?
“What do you mean?” he asked, but Hagrid was rising from his seat and gesturing to the back door.
“It’s getting late, young lad. Better get back to the castle before someone notices you’re gone, yeah?” Hagrid said, showing him out the door. Ron clearly was not getting answers out of him tonight.
So he headed out the door and back to the castle to grind through his Dark Arts paper. His stomach growled. Perhaps he’d stop for a second dinner, first.
Back in the Slytherin common room, Cassiah was seated on the couches with almost all her friends: Draco, Blaise, Pansy, Daphne, and even Goyle was there, although he was mostly silent. Draco was proudly recounting the events of how Cassiah had stood up to Hermione – cautiously leaving out the part about how she defended him, as he wasn’t ready to be that vulnerable with the others – and everyone was more than happy to hear that she’d severed her ties with the Gryffindors. As they pointed out, now there was nothing holding her back from her loyalty to her own House. Cassiah supposed that was a positive outlook, but she couldn’t help but feel a bit sad. Sure, Hermione and Ginny had been bloody awful friends as of late, but she had some amazing times blurring the lines between rival houses with the Gryffindors.
She and Fred and George had been fast friends after she and Ron had started dating. Something about their energy was infectious and they brought out an unbridled, uninhibited side in her that she never knew she had before. Ron had loved how close she was with his family, especially his favorite brothers.
The music was blasting in the Gryffindor common room and almost the entire 5th through 7th year were packed in the room. There were even a few Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws. However, Cassiah was the only Slytherin, but she didn’t mind a bit. She never let someone’s house determine her relationship with them.
“Black!” George had called to her, and Cassiah, in her tipsy state, shrieked with laughter at how the twins had seemingly materialized at her side.
“Shot?” Fred asked, already knowing the answer as he held out a cup for her. She grabbed it eagerly and smiled up at them where they towered over her. She was tall herself, but not compared to the twins.
“Ready George. Ready Cassie?”
She giggled at being let in on their joke, “Ready Fred.” They tossed back their shots and Cassie cheered, throwing her hands up in the air and letting the music take over her body.
The twins were always the life of the party, and Cassiah couldn’t help but get swept up in their energy. She cheered as the song changed and it was one of her favorites.
“I dare you to get up on the table,” Fred yelled to her over the music, and she scoffed, “No way!”
“Cassie, it’s your song!” George pressed, and she grabbed the bottle from him, taking a long swig. She wiped her sleeve over her mouth and smirked at the two of them.
“I’m only going up there if you guys are my back up dancers.”
“Oh, it is so on,” they said in unison. Cassiah was hoisted up onto the table and the twins followed. The room erupted into cheers, enjoying their drunken rendition of the song, complete with ridiculous dance moves. She could barely control her laughing at their antics. She was so crossed, and life was so, so good.
When the song ended, Ron appeared at the foot of the table below her. He held out her hand for her, looking up at her with his bright eyes twinkling. She took his hand and let him lift her off the table, spinning her around. She threw her head back and her arms out, laughing wildly.
“My girl’s quite the performer,” Ron whispered in her ear as he finally let her feet meet the ground.
Her heart fluttered at being called ‘his girl.’ He knew how she loved when he talked that way.
“Allow me to give you an encore performance, then,” she said, biting her lip mischievously. She turned so that her back was to his chest and grabbed his hands, wrapping them around her waist. Ron sucked in a breath at the feeling of Cassiah’s backside against his crotch as she started moving her hips to the music. Merlin, she had a gift for getting down on the dance floor and it drove him mad.
He pressed a sloppy kiss to her neck, sucking lightly before murmuring gruffly in her ear, “Bloody hell, Cassie. I love it when you dance on me.”
She giggled, grabbing his hands and running them up and down her sides before spinning herself out. She dragged him behind her as she headed to the couch, “Come sit. I need to catch my breath from all that dancing.”
Ron plopped down on the couch and inhaled sharply when Cassiah took a seat on his lap.
“I love you,” she said sweetly, looking back over her shoulder to press a kiss to his lips.
He smiled too, “I love you, too, honey,” but frowned slightly when she pulled away from the kiss. It wasn’t enough. After watching her dancing so confidently, and then teasing him all sexy on the dance floor, he was getting worked up. He was desperate for some more snogging than that, but she didn’t pick up on it.
She shifted in his lap as she bounced along to the song. Every movement was torture for Ron, who was trying to play it cool in a crowded room. Eventually he couldn’t take it anymore.
He grabbed her hips roughly, holding her down in place. “Cassie,” he whispered in her ear. She shot him a look that said she knew exactly what she was doing, and she was doing it on purpose.
He tightened his grip on her and thrust up his hips up roughly. “Don’t start what you can’t finish, Cassiah,” he growled. The hair on the back of her neck stood up at his tone and she melted a bit.
“Who said I wasn’t going to finish?” she replied, raising an eyebrow suggestively.
With that, Ron lifted her off his lap. The ease with which he did it made her feel hot all over. He grabbed her hand and dragged her toward the stairs to the dormitories. She knew she was about to get what she’d been asking for all night.
She caught Fred’s eye on her way out the door, who gave her a juvenile, over-dramatic wink. She flipped him off playfully right before they disappeared up the stairs.
Life was good.
Her other friends had left the common room following the discussion about her disaffiliation with Gryffindor, and only she and Draco were left studying alone.
Cassiah couldn’t help but notice that as the group was all laughing and joking together, Draco’s eyes were trained on one person in particular, but she wasn’t going to mention it. She knew Draco well enough to know that he’d mention it when he was willing to talk about it.
She sighed. Thinking about that party had really messed with her head. She missed the way her life had been. Things had been so perfect with Ron. She was truly becoming a part of the family, and then one day it was all gone. It was so cruel. Before this, she had never thought of wanting to hurt another person or seek revenge, but she felt different lately. She wished that he could understand the way that felt, but she couldn’t imagine a way she could ever hurt him the way he had her.
“I want to make him jealous,” she stated out of the blue.
Draco looked up from his parchment and placed his quill down on the table, “I’ve been waiting for this. Good thing you have the perfect way to do that. Why don’t you ask Ernie out on another date? A more public one, of course.”
Cassiah paused for a moment, considering, before shaking her head. “No. I don’t want to use him as a pawn. Even though I didn’t feel anything with him, he’s still a really nice guy and it’s not fair to play with his emotions.”
The blonde boy grinned, “You’re too good, Cass. But I know what you mean.” She smiled back at him across the table.
They both turned back to their quiet studying, the only noise being the sound of quills on parchment. Several minutes passed before Draco spoke again,
“You know, uh. I could do it.”
“Do what?” Cassiah asked absently, copying down a charm onto her paper.
“Make Ron jealous,” he said matter-of-factly and Cassiah coughed loudly.
“What?” she spluttered, her face reddening. Draco had always been just her friend.
Draco chuckled from across the table, “Calm down, Cass. Not like that. I’ve got my eye on someone else, anyways.”
Cassiah was more than relieved, and also excited that he was finally admitting his feeling, “Merlin, I knew it! I saw the way you were looking at Pansy like a little puppy. Why don’t you just ask her out.”
He rolled his eyes, “Draco Malfoy does not simply ask a girl out. Especially when I’m not sure if she’s into me. And especially not when we used to do it on the downlow. It would be humiliating to say the least.”
Cassiah stared at him across the table. “Well, maybe Draco Malfoy should grow a pair,” she lectured him. “But seeing as your idea might be mutually beneficial... What are you proposing, exactly?”
He sighed, “Just some mind games. Little things that they’re sure to notice. Like you can carry my hanker-chief around for class or something.”
Cassiah shook her head. That wouldn’t be enough to make Ron jealous because there was no way he’d notice. He wasn’t that observant. If she was going to make him jealous... “That’s not big enough,” she conceded, “It has to be at least a bit more scandalous. Something to get people talking.”
They both sat for a minute, considering, before she suddenly rose from her seat and crossed to sit beside him. “Draco?” she said coyly, “Have you smelled my new perfume yet?”
He looked bewildered, but responded honestly, “No? Cass, what–”
“Would you like to?” she asked, pulling her hair away to expose her neck. There was an evil glint in her eye that Draco had never seen before. He leaned over, letting his nose graze the skin against the nape of her neck and he inhaled her scent lightly,
“It’s lovely,” he commented. She let her hand trace over her own sensitive skin, and she inhaled sharply when she felt Draco’s breath still on her skin.
“It would be shame if Ron somehow got the impression that there had been another man in my bed. They’ve already noticed that you and I are spending a lot of time together. He doesn’t have to know the truth,” she whispered, “I wonder how we might trick him into believing such a wild story...”
Draco suddenly knew what she was alluding to, and he had to admit it was genius. He let his lips ghost over her skin before sucking lightly at the nape of her neck. She shivered. Even though things with Draco were strictly platonic, there was still a pair of lips attached to her neck.
He pulled away, revealing a red mark that would surely form into a dark love bite.
“You’re a bloody genius,” he laughed, returned to his seat.
“I know,” Cassiah replied smartly, her eyes smiling. She glanced at Draco, smirking knowingly when she noticed the slightest bulge in his pants.
He blushed slightly and stammered, “God, Cass, it’s not like that. It’s just a physical reaction.”
She snorted, and punched him in the shoulder, “I know, Malfoy. I tend to have that effect on people.”
“I hate you,” he shot back, but the belly laugh he let out a moment later said differently.