Chapter 6 – Awkward Situations
I hope I cross your mind when you’re too high and wide awake
I hope you wonder if I’m happy, if I’m still the same
And when you turn over, see her there
I hope you think of me and how you wish it would’ve ended differently
i don’t miss u, Caro
“Blimey, Neville, stop staring. She’s gonna think you’re a complete creep.”
Neville blushed, immediately snapping back to looking at Ron and shielding his face in embarrassment. “M’not staring,” he insisted, “She just happened to catch my eye, is all.”
Ron snorted, leaning back in his chair and giving the boy a knowing look, “She must happen to catch your eye a lot, then, Longbottom.”
The ‘she’ in question, Luna Lovegood, paid the boys no mind. She was completely entranced by the book she was reading, blocking out the chaos occurring around her as students filed into the classroom. Her wavy blonde hair was falling in a curtain around her face, protecting her from the outside world.
Neville sighed, knowing that trying to play it off was useless. He was a horrible liar. “Just please don’t mention it to anyone. I’m never gonna get up the courage to take to her and its... embarrassing,” he admitted, his cheeks turning pink.
Ron nodded and clapped a hand against Neville’s back, “I wouldn’t dream of it, mate.” Especially, he thought, since Neville had generously failed to mention the way that he spent all of their class together stealing glances at Cassiah from across the room.
Speaking of which, where was she? The lecture was about to start, and being a prefect and all, she usually made it a point to not be late. It was usually more like Ron to be late than Cassiah – she was kind of the brains of the operation – but this semester he had made it his goal to focus more on his schoolwork and hopefully get his grades up before graduation.
Almost as if on cue, Cassiah burst into the room in a flurry of flying robes and unorganized stacks of paper and books. She looked flustered, her hair pulled into a disgrace of a bun on the top of her head and her robes flailing behind her. Ron still thought she looked beautiful, although it did remind him of the time she got too fucked up at a party last year and thought she was going to throw up. Ron had pulled her hair back into the world’s worst bun – not dissimilar to this one – just in case, but she’d ended up sipping water and pulling it together. She always did.
Cassiah’s normal seat with the Slytherins was taken. Frankly, Ron was surprised that the guys hadn’t saved her seat, but then again, she was late, and it was Malfoy and Crabbe he was talking about. Cassiah’s gaze travelled over the room searching for an empty seat close to the front when Ron was hit with a horrifying realization. This was a pretty big class, and he and Neville were pretty much the only people in it without a whole friend group. So, not only were there no seats in the front of the classroom, but there were no empty seats anywhere. Except, that is, at his and Neville’s table.
"Bloody hell,” he cursed under his breath and at that exact moment he watched Cassiah realize what was about to have to happen. Neville looked vaguely nauseous.
And then she was walking towards them.
Cassiah forced her lips up into a tiny, awkward smile, and Ron ducked his head, not wanting to look. He couldn’t look. She stood in front of the table for a moment, commenting simply, “I guess I’ll be sitting here, then. Hello, Neville.”
Neville let out a shaky, “Hi, Cassiah. How are you?”
“I’m good, thank you,” she replied. She looked like she was choking for a second before finally adding, “Hi Ron.”
Ron was forced to look up from his textbook that he was suddenly very interested in, “Hi, Cassie,” he said quickly. He could’ve sworn he saw a dash of pain rush over her face at the use of his old nickname, but he’d never called her anything else. He must’ve been wrong though, because she dropped her books down at the table and took her seat without another word. It felt as though every eye in the room was watching them.
Cassiah must have noticed this, too, because she craned her neck to look over her shoulder and say aloud to the class, “Alright, everyone. The show’s over.” A few people chuckled nervously in response, and Ron started to, as well–
And that was when he saw it. With her neck exposed at this angle and her hair up in a bun, it was on full display for him to see. He shook his head quickly and squinted, not wanting to believe it. There was no way that this was real. His stomach dropped down to his feet and his throat swole up.
There it was on Cassiah’s beautiful, tanned neck. A massive, purplish bruise that he instantly recognized as a love bite. Now he was going to throw up.
She turned back towards the table and they locked eyes for a moment. For a moment, blue met hazel and the whole world stopped.
But Ron felt his eyes beginning to shine with tears he wasn’t willing to let her see, and just as quickly as the moment had begun, it ended as he turned away and began stuffing his books into his bag. She’d totally seen him staring and now he looked pathetic.
“Ron, what are you doing?” Neville asked, concerned and completely oblivious to what had just happened. He had been fortunate enough to not be at the right angle to see the absolute monstrosity on Cassiah’s neck. Whatever guy had left it there must have had some sort of vampire fetish.
Ron fumbled over his words as he practically jumped up out of his seat and slung his back haphazardly over his shoulder, “I don’t feel well all of a sudden. I reckon it’s a stomach bug. I’ve got to go see Madam Pomfrey.”
So much for prioritizing his schoolwork, he thought bitterly. Three weeks into school and he was already ditching class over a girl. He left the room in such a hurry that he didn’t hear or see a single thing anyone might’ve said to him. His blood was pumping in his ears so loudly that he couldn’t hear anything over the ringing.
At least he wasn’t fully lying about the stomach bug thing, because he did puke in the bathroom once he made it safely out of the classroom. It didn’t make him feel any less heartbroken, though.
“So Cassiah is definitely seeing someone new,” Ron confessed to Harry at dinner later that day.
Harry furrowed his brow, giving Ron a strange look. “Yeah... I already knew that, mate. She went on that date with Ernie Macmillan,” he said calmly. Ron shook his head before staring at his feet, willing himself to get his emotions under control. Harry saw through him and prodded, “Judging by the reaction, I’m guessing there’s something you’re not telling me?”
Ron swallowed and looked back up, but still refused to make eye contact with Harry. He couldn’t bring himself to do it for some reason. He nodded, “Yeah. A massive hickey on her neck this morning in Potions. I had the pleasure of a front row seat because she was late and had to sit with me and Neville.”
“Shit,” Harry said plainly, “That’s why you’ve been off tonight. You’ve barely even touched your dinner.”
Ron pursed his lips together, staring down at his still-full plate of roast beef – his favorite. But he still felt sick from the morning’s events and he couldn’t bring himself to eat it. He poked lamely at it with his fork.
He knew he should eat – he had Quidditch practice tonight and he needed his strength. Plus, he should be ravenous after heaving up breakfast and not eating all day, but he felt nothing.
“I don’t know who it even could be,” he stated instead of answering Harry’s comment, “I mean, Macmillan just doesn’t seem like the type to be so aggressive on the first date, but who else could it be? I hadn’t heard of her seeing anyone else.”
Harry considered. “Yeah... But, and please don’t take this the wrong way. But you don’t really run in the same circles anymore, so I don’t know how you would hear, anyways.”
“Thank you so much for pointing that out, mate,” murmured Ron, and cursing under his breath, ”Bloody hell, what am I becoming?"
The sat in silence for a few minutes, Ron picking at his food like a bird. He listened quietly at the other boys talked and laughed boisterously amongst themselves. He was honestly a bit dazed out, staring at the reflection of the candles in his glass, when he heard Seamus call out his name,
“Ron. Black is walking over here, just warning you, buddy.”
And for the second time today, Ron looked over to see Cassiah approaching him. This time, she looked even more nervous that the last. What could she possibly want? he thought, feeling his jaw set tight. Whatever she needed, she could ask her new boyfriend.
“Um... hello,” he stuttered when she stopped in front of him, all plans of acting cool and detaching flying out the window the second he was in her presence.
“Hi,” she said back, smiling softly and then letting her gaze flutter nervously to all the other Gryffindor guys. Ron realized, watching her, that this was the first time she’d seen any of his friends since the breakup. They used to be her friends, too.
Bloody hell, she was speaking again. “Ron, I heard you say you were sick earlier when you left class. I know we’re not really... talking right now,” she paused, pursing her lips together as if working up the courage to speak, “But I know your grades are really important to you this year and I just wanted to offer you my notes. I take pretty good ones, if you remember,” she offered, laughing awkwardly at the end. She was smiling, but something about her energy was making Ron feel nervous in return.
“O-Oh,” he stammered, mentally smacking himself for acting like a bloody idiot, “Thank you, Cassie. That would be great, actually.” He paused for a moment, and then plastered a smile onto his face so he didn’t look as rude as he felt.
She nodded for a second, almost as if she was expecting him to say no, and then thrust forward a handful of papers to him. He took them from her, studying them for a moment. Same magnificent penmanship and color-coordinated note-taking system. So part of her was still his same Cassie, despite the blemish defiling her beautiful neck.
“Thank you so much,” he said, smiling up at her, “I’ll get them back to you as soon as I’m through with them.”
“Aright,” she stated.
“Aright,” he reassured.
She bit her lip before finally saying, “Take care, Ron.”
“Take care, Cassie,” he replied before she turned on her heal and walked away.
When he turned back to his friends at the table, none of them were breathing. They were probably too scared.
“What?” he remarked, “Just cause we broke up we can’t be friendly?”
Harry raised his eyebrows at him and answered, “We never said that. I just didn’t think that you wanted to be friends with her, especially after the hickey situation earlier today.”
Ron sighed. Harry was partially right. It really hurt him to know that Cassiah was moving on, but perhaps she was the wrong person to be angry with. Their interaction had left him feeling a lot better about things. He was the one who’d pushed her away and forced to be open to other options. At least she’d picked someone as benign and neutral as Ernie to move on with. Perhaps the only person he should really harbor any bad feelings towards is himself.
“Well,” he considered, “It seems like she’s trying to be friendly, and maybe if she’s trying, I should try to get over my feelings to be friends, too. It’s better than being enemies.”
And he meant it. If he could get over his feelings for her and the hurt he felt when he thought of her, it would be better to be friends with Cassie than not have her in his life at all. So that’s what he would do.
He dug into his dinner, suddenly having his appetite back and ready for Quidditch practice.