Chapter 7 – Who Loves You Better Than I Do?
I kinda like it when you hurt me
I start believing all your stories
But I’d rather hear you lie than hear you say goodbye to me
If You’re Gonna Lie, Fletcher
Ron was feeling so much better the last few days than he had in weeks. After deciding to let things go and try to be friendly with Cassie, it felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He was actually paying attention in his classes, spending time with all the guys, and most importantly, really putting in 110% at Quidditch practice. He was channeling all of his energy into Quidditch and he was actually seeing the payoff. He was always good, but now he was great – maybe even great enough to beat Slytherin.
He’d just finished yet another late-night workout with the Quidditch team and was honestly feeling beyond amazing. Now all he needed was to get a little high before bed and he would be on top of the world. And maybe a shower, he realized as he peeled off his sweaty workout shirt that was plastered to his skin. He pushed his red hair back from where it was stuck to his forehead and wrinkled his nose. Definitely a shower.
He stopped by Harry’s locker on his way out and leaned up against the wall. “We’re totally gonna destroy those pureblood pussies on tomorrow,” Ron said, grinning ear to ear.
Harry couldn’t help but smile sheepishly back at him. As co-captains, Harry knew he and Ron really shouldn’t be bad-mouthing the Slytherin team in front of the younger students like that, but he couldn’t help it. They hated Malfoy and his friends, and the Gryffindor team was at the best he’d ever seen it in all his years of playing. Ron was probably right. Money and bloodline couldn’t buy talent.
“It’s going to be brilliant,” Harry responded, his eyes twinkling behind his glasses.
Ron slung his bag over his shoulder – to the dismay of anyone who sat next to him after practice, he used the same one for school and Quidditch. It was practically bursting at the seams and all of his papers were sticking out the top, threatening to spill over onto the floor. One set of papers in particular was on display.
“Have you gone over her notes yet?” Harry asked.
Ron looked at him incredulously, “Uh... no. Why?” He didn’t understand Harry’s interest in his study habits. He had been busy the last few days, between practice and distracting himself with the guys. So what if he hadn’t looked at Cassie’s notes?
“Just wondering,” Harry responded, plucking them out of the top of Ron’s back and glancing over them quickly, “Merlin. You weren’t kidding when you said she was thorough. These are awesome.”
“Yeah it almost turns me on how neat and organized they are,” Ron said back sarcastically, grabbing the notes out of Harry’s hand. “It’s just not a tonight issue. I’m having way too good of a day to end it off with studying Potions.”
What he really meant was that he was having way too good of a day to end it by staring at something that was given to him by Cassiah. He felt like he was moving towards being in a better place with her, but that didn’t mean that he wanted to have to think about her. When they were together, he’d always loved how she put so much effort into her notes, and thought it was really cute and really impressive. Staring at her handwriting for an hour to copy them down was surely going to make him feel sad, so he’d been avoiding it all week.
Ron stuffed the papers back into his bag, hoping that Harry didn’t notice how, for once in his life, he took extra care not to wrinkle them.
Back at the Slytherin dormitories, Draco and Cassiah were hidden away in his room, plotting.
She’d told Draco about how Ron had reacted to seeing his love bite on her neck, and how she’d offered him notes from the class. Draco, of course, did not approve of the second part, but Cassiah didn’t care. She was trying to make Ron jealous, not make him hate her.
Draco had gone on for several minutes about the interactions he’d had with Pansy in Dark Arts. Cassiah had never heard Draco gush about a girl before, and while he certainly wasn’t gushing about Pansy, she figured that that was the closest thing she’d ever hear from him. The way he talked about what he and Pansy discussed while they worked together in class, and the way he described how beautiful she looked on Wednesday morning in particular... It was so out of character from the Malfoy that she knew, but so endearing.
“I can tell she still thinks of me as a friend, though,” Draco huffed, “She still just looks at me like I’m... boring or something.”
Cassiah couldn’t imagine anyone thinking of Draco as boring, but she didn’t tell him that because his head was already big enough that he could barely fit through the doorways. And if he won the match against Gryffindor tomorrow, it was only going to get worse.
Instead, she offered a plan. “Maybe then we need to do something a little bit more straight forward to make both her and Ron jealous. The hickey was a stroke of evil genius, if I do say so myself, but it wasn’t obvious enough who the hickey was from,” she explained.
“You’re onto something there,” Draco agreed, “It may have helped you, but that didn’t affect Pansy at all since it didn’t explicitly involve me. We need to do something way more obvious this time.”
They both sat on the bed for a few minutes, considering. There was a comfortable silence between the two of them that might’ve made someone else feel awkward, but they were okay with not talking sometimes.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Draco sprang up from his seat muttering, “I’ve got it,” and heading over to his dresser. He rifled through what might as well have been hundreds of fine cotton blend shirts and elegant wool sweaters before producing one in particular. From where Cassiah was sitting, she couldn’t tell it apart from the others. It was a rich, emerald green sweater that she could already tell would be too big on her.
When Draco handed it to her and she got a closer look, however, her lips spread into a mischievous smile. There on the top right was the Malfoy family crest, embroidered with the utmost precision she knew few could afford. She couldn’t be surprised if the seamstress had used real silver.
“Wear this to class tomorrow morning,” he explained. Cassiah didn’t have to ask for any more details. She knew that the second she walked into a classroom wearing this particular sweater – which would be more like a dress on her smaller frame – everyone would know. There would be no question as to who allegedly left that mark on her. There would be no question as to whom she was newly seeing. It was bloody brilliant.
“One more thing,” Draco smirked, “Were you planning on going to the Quidditch match tomorrow, Miss Black?”
Cassiah grinned wickedly, her hazel eyes sparkling with understanding, “Oh, I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I’m your biggest fan.”
Ron was late to class the next morning due to one final Quidditch practice that ended up running very late because well, Ron had been in charge of keeping time. He was so late, in fact, that class was about halfway over by the time he snuck into the back of the class. Normally, he would’ve gotten crucified by a teacher for coming in late, but on game days, the professors often cut the Quidditch team some slack.
He eased into his seat next to Neville as slowly and quietly as possible so as not to attract any extra attention. Luckily, no one had seemed to notice when he entered the room. That was one of the perks of always hiding out in the back of the class.
He and Neville both were a bit frazzled that morning, apparently, because they brewed their potion wrong two times before finally getting it right. Ron could tell that Neville was flustered over Luna because his face was that very specific shade of pink and he kept glancing over the watch the blonde girl, who had effortlessly brewed her potion perfectly the first time.
“Why don’t you go talk to her after class?” Ron whispered, stirring the cauldron as he spoke, “Ask her to go watch the match with you. Everyone is going.”
Neville shook his head, “She’s not even in Gryffindor, Ron. She’d probably prefer to go if Ravenclaw was playing.”
Ron chuckled back, “All the more reason to bring her. Convert her into a Gryffindor fan!” Neville had to laugh along with him. Ron really hoped that Neville would get the courage up to ask her. He deserved it, and Luna would be the perfect match for him.
It turns out that when you miss half of class, the time passes fairly quickly. Class was over before Ron knew it, and he sat back in his seat, hoping to hype Neville up a bit about asking Luna out before collecting all his books.
He surveyed the room, trying to see where the blonde girl might have gone when something caught his eye – Cassiah rising out of his seat and heading towards the exit, which was in his direction at the back of the classroom. What was she wearing? Her sweater went almost halfway down her thighs–
What was that on the right pocket? No... It couldn’t be.
He could’ve sworn he saw the Malfoy family crest branded across her chest, but no – he must’ve been seeing things. He really only got a moment’s glance at her before she’d turned, and he’d only been able to see her back. It was probably just the regular old Slytherin crest. And as for the size of the sweater, it was probably the latest trend. Cassie had always been quite stylish.
Ron had been so dazed by his own thoughts that he didn’t notice Neville getting up from his seat and marching nervously but pointedly across the classroom. He did notice however when Neville stopped right in front of Luna. He couldn’t hear what they were saying, but hey – they were talking. That was a step in the right direction.
Luna was laughing and smiling, too, so that meant that Neville hadn’t totally shat the bed.
She leaned up on her tip toes and pressed a tiny kiss to Neville’s cheek before prancing away. Ron broke into a dumbfounded grin and Neville stood there in a daze, his face turning the darkest shade of red.
“Bloody hell, Neville!” Ron exclaimed, hurtling himself over desks and across the classroom, “You bloody did it!” He slapped a hand across Neville’s back, and the other boy finally broke into a bashful smile,
“Yeah, I guess I did.”
“So, you guys are coming to the match tonight?”
Neville shook his head sheepishly, “No, sorry. We’re actually getting dinner in Hogsmeade.”
Ron couldn’t even be upset that Neville wouldn’t be there for this important game. He’d scored a pretty romantic date with a girl he’d been pining over for so long. What a lad.
Cassiah would be lying if she said she wasn’t nervous for the big match. Although, she’d also be lying if she said there wasn’t a pretty big weight lifted off her shoulders. Usually at the Slytherin-Gryffindor match she felt uncomfortable and torn between sides. This year, however, she could feel comfortable fully supporting her own house instead of trying to blend in with the Gryffindors and wearing one of Ron’s tee shirts without the Slytherins seeing.
She’d curled her hair for the occasion – something she most rarely did – and put on one of her favorite Slytherin shirts. She painted her face with green war paint and dawned one of the signature house scarves. On her way out the door, she grabbed her secret weapon – the tool she would use to send a glaring message to Ron and Pansy that she was with Draco. She kept it rolled up tight next to her hip and she walked to the game with Pansy and Daphne.
“Who do you think is going to win today?” Daphne asked as they took their seats in the stands. Cassiah had made sure they were positioned perfectly for all the players to see them. It would drive Ron crazy just seeing her in the Slytherin section, let alone what else was about to transpire. Cassiah remembered when she used to sit next to Hermione and wave a giant cardboard cut-out of Ron’s head. She pursed her lips as she tried to control her emotions.
The girls fell into a conversation about the teams’ statistics and players, and how those would contribute to the outcome of today’s match. Based on previous years and the roster, Slytherin was the favorite to win, but with Harry and Draco as Seekers, Blaise as Chaser, and Ron as Keeper, it was close enough to be a toss-up in Cassiah’s opinion. All the guys in her year were fierce competitors. And they used to all be her best friends.
As both the teams entered onto the field, the crowd erupted into a sea of cheers. It was nearly deafening, but that was part of the fun of it.
It was, as Cassiah predicted, a contentious match and all the players were performing brilliantly. No one, however, was playing as well as Ron. He hadn’t let more than one goal be scored in almost the entire match, much to Blaise’s obvious frustration. Ron was a whole different player than he was last year – faster, bigger, stronger.
Draco and Harry had been nowhere in sight for the majority of the match, presumably on some sort of high-speed chase for the Snitch, when all of a sudden, Cassiah saw a flash of green appearing over the stands. Draco flew by the stands on the other side of the arena fast enough to create wind, and Harry was right on his heals. This was Cassiah’s moment.
As Draco rounded the corner and started heading her way, she reached behind her and grabbed for the piece of cardboard she and Draco had crafted last night. Just as Draco was going by, she unveiled the sign and thrust it up into the air – I’m With Malfoy.
“Gooo Malfoy!” she shrieked at the top of her lungs, jumping up and down and creating the biggest scene possible. She saw Pansy stiffen beside her as she read the sign.
But she wasn’t watching Malfoy. She was watching Weasley – Ron Weasley, to be exact.
She saw the moment that Ron noticed her sign. His face went completely still, his entire body rigid and he just stared, locking eyes with Cassiah from dozens of yards away. For a moment, they both stood there, staring.
Until a bludger came flying towards Ron’s head and he reacted quickly, snapping out of his daze. The bludger came into harsh contact with his arm and he stumbled back, but he was wearing enough padding that although it hurt like a bitch, it didn’t hurt him enough to take him out. His embarrassment at everyone seeing him caught off guard like that was obvious to everyone watching, his fair skin the perfect canvas for his bright red blush.
After that, Ron didn’t even look in her direction for the remainder of the game. Harry caught the Snitch and Ron immediately landed and stormed off of the field, not even bothering to celebrate the huge win – and his first win as captain – with his teammates. Cassiah knew her plan had worked. But at what cost? Ron didn’t seem just jealous. He seemed furious with her like she’d never seen before. Never with her.
She abandoned her sign without a care and raced out of the stands.
Ron slammed his locker shut as hard as his could and then smashed his fist into it, the metal groaning and denting under his force. ”Fuck,” he shouted, slamming it again when it popped back open.
He’d ripped all of his padding off on his way back from the field, leaving a trail of it all the way back to the locker room. He tore his jersey off, which was slicked to his body with sweat, and threw it onto the ground, kicking at it half-heartedly. This was his big win and she’d been selfish enough to take that joy away from him.
Cassiah was with bloody Draco Malfoy. Of all people, she’d decided to be with the one person that would hurt him the most. It was Malfoy’s sweater she was wearing this morning, and it was Malfoy who left that mark on her–
“Ron?” he heard a quiet voice sound from the doorway – an all too familiar voice. He turned towards her instinctively, and instantly regretted it. Just looking at her made him feel sick and hurt and angry all over.
“What do you want, Black,” he growled as Cassiah slowly approached him.
She didn’t speak again until she was right in front of him, so close that he could reach out at touch her. But he wouldn’t. He never would again.
“I know you’re upset,” she reasoned, reaching out to grab his hand but he snatched it away, “I just wanted to congratulate you. You were amazing out there–”
“That’s it?” he snapped, “That’s all you’ve got to say to me, Cassie?”
The old nickname hurt when it was paired with that venomous tone.
“Ron, I’m so sorry,” she said, her voice cracking. She felt like crying knowing that she hurt him so badly. It was never meant to hurt him like this. All she ever wanted to was to make him jealous and make him regret his choice... make him see that she had other options. She never wanted to make him hate her, and she knew that she had.
“If you were sorry you wouldn’t have done it,” he said through gritted teeth, turning away from her to leave.
Cassiah wasn’t going to let him, “That’s not fair!” She knew she shouldn’t be raising her voice because it would only make things worse, but she couldn’t help herself in the moment, “You’re the one who completely abandoned me! You ruined my life Ron!”
“I’m not the one who’s fucking Draco Malfoy!” he roared. Cassiah grabbed his arm to try to stop him from leaving and he reacted faster than she could blink, twisting so that now he was holding her arm and he flipped them, pushing her up against the cool metal of the lockers. His chest was rising and falling rapidly with his breath and his heartbeat, his arms caging her in. She knew that if she wanted to leave, he’d let her. Sure, Ron was angry, but she was safe.
Pinned against the wall, Cassiah took a moment to just breathe. She didn’t know what to say in a situation that was so confusingly familiar and unfamiliar at the same time, Ron’s bulging biceps straining at her eye level and sweat dripping ever-so slightly down his toned chest. He’d gotten broader. Her heart beat wildly in her chest. Ron glanced from her eyes to her lips, reminded of how good she used to feel.
The way he was staring at her with such intensity, it almost felt like he was going to kiss her.
“Ron,” she croaked, “I’m sorry. It’s not what you thi-”
At that moment, the entirety of the rest of the guys from team burst into the locker room, singing and chanting in celebration. Ron quickly snapped away from Cassiah, but they’d all seen enough to have fallen completely silent.
Ron grabbed his bag and hastily rifled through it before snatching a handful of papers out of it. He stuffed them into Cassiah’s shocked hands and snarled at her, “I don’t need your notes, Cassie, just like I don’t need your friendship.” It sounded like the dirtiest word in the world coming out of his freckled mouth. “Just– leave me the hell alone.”
And with that, he was gone, and Cassiah was left alone in the boys’ locker room with almost the entire Gryffindor team staring at her. Now they all got to see her cry.