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James wrapped his arm around my waist and tucked me in against him, slowly turning us around on the spot. I rested one hand on his shoulder and the other on his hip. I thought it would feel strange to dance with him, now that he only had one arm to hold me with, but maybe physical contact will never feel strange with James.

He leaned forward and rested his forehead against mine.

“You look beautiful today,” he whispered.

I didn’t know what to say.

“I wasn’t sure how I’d feel, seeing you at a wedding,” he continued. “But I’m glad you’re here.”

I held onto him more tightly.

“I kept the ring, you know?” He straightened his face so he could look into my eyes. “The one I tried to give you.”

“We were kids. It wouldn’t have been right for us,” I told him.

“Maybe. I mean, yeah. I offered it then because you were seventeen and pregnant and scared. But I always thought one day I’d give it to you again. Properly.”

I chewed my lip. “You never did, though.”

He drew me still closer. “I wanted to. I was trying to pick up the courage. And then you left.”

“I don’t know how to say sorry enough.”

He shook his head. “I don’t think you can say sorry enough. But let’s just move on. We can be better from now on, so that we move past it.”

I looked over his shoulder and smiled. I could see Cadence on the other side of the dancefloor, holding hands with Teddy and Victoire’s young son. Both children were leaning back and spinning around as fast as they could. Cadence was wearing a pink dress but had black Quidditch boots on underneath it.

James saw me smiling and turned his head to follow my gaze. The expression his face melted into reminded me of everything I’d ever loved about him.

“She’s extraordinary,” I murmured.

“I know,” he agreed. “And she’s ours.”

“Yours,” I said.

He frowned and stopped turning.

“Maybe she could be ours again. We could make it work.” His voice was a harsh whisper, and I could see how hard it was for him to say this.

I let go of him and bit my lip harder.

“I don’t think so, James,” I muttered.

James’s eyes widened but he didn’t speak. Instead, he pulled me back towards him, lowering his face to mine.

When his lips were millimetres from my own, I pulled away.

“Don’t do this,” he pleaded. “I want you so much. Let me kiss you. It’ll remind you of everything.”

I shook my head. “I don't need reminding. We’ve never found this bit difficult, have we? The dancing and the kissing and the...well, everything that comes after. That’s never been hard.”

I reached out and held his hand, both of us now standing still in the middle of the dancefloor.

“I love how I feel with you, James,” I confessed. “When we’re in bed together, or holding onto each other, I never want to let go. But...that’s not the same as being good together.”

I nodded over to Ollie and Al, who were now giggling together next to their wedding cake. Ollie had taken the icing figurine of Al off the top of the cake and was licking its head, laughing and darting out of Al’s way whenever he tried to take it away. After a moment, she bit the whole head off and then squealed as Al pulled her into his arms and peppered her face with kisses.

“We don’t have what they have,” I said sadly.

“So?” James sounded broken. “We don’t need to be the same as them.”

“Maybe not. Maybe we don’t need to be the same. But look at them! They bring out the best in each other. They make each other happy and kind. We don’t do that!”

“You make me happy!” He insisted, but his voice was flat and I could tell that my words were starting to get through.

“Do I?” I frowned at him. “Do I really? When’s the last time I made you happy?”

He opened his mouth but I kept talking.

“And I mean really, genuinely happy. Because of me. Not because of something that happened while I was there, or because you were drunk and felt like we were in a good place. When have you been honest to god happy because of me?”

James looked a little bit lost and shook his head.

“Exactly,” I said bitterly. “I’m not what you need, James. I wish I was. But you need somebody who’s kind and adores you and will value and respect you, even through the rubbish bits. You need someone who will sit down and talk to you about their feelings and your feelings and who’s invested enough in the relationship to work at it instead of running away any time they have doubts. Hell, maybe you’ve already found them.”

I watched Jason, who had now found his way over to where Cadence had been dancing with Victoire’s son. While I watched, he scooped the little girl up into his arms, making her scream with laughter, and spun her around in a wide circle that came dangerously close to a tray of champagne flutes floating past them.

I looked back at James and realised he too was watching Jason.

“Think about it,” I suggested. “You two are very lucky to have each other. And Cadence.”

James looked a little bit dazed, but not entirely shocked. I wondered how many times this line of thought had occurred to him in the past. By the look on his face, this wasn’t the first time he had considered it.

“I love you, James,” I told him. “Always will. But I think this needs to be the end for us.”

He put his arm back around me and pulled me into him. I bent my head and kissed the curve where his neck met his collarbone. He raised his arm and stroked back my hair, tangling his hand up in the curls and holding me in place for a moment before releasing me.

I tilted my head and kissed his lips, holding the kiss for a few seconds. When I pulled away, his eyes were still closed and he didn’t open them as I turned around and walked away.

I made my way through the dancers and towards the wedding cake, where Ollie and Al were now clinging to each other in some vague semblance of a slow dance. Al saw me coming and released Ollie, nodding in my direction.

She rushed over to me and linked her arm through mine.

“I’m so happy you’re here today,” she told me earnestly. “It feels right, you know? I think today wouldn’t quite have made sense without you here. I know my sixteen year old self would never have forgiven me.”

I smiled. “It’s a beautiful wedding, Ollie. Thank you for having me.”

She frowned and took a step away from me, looking me up and down like she could read my soul.

“You’re not staying, are you?” She said.

I shook my head. “I don’t think I can.”

I waited for her to get angry or upset, but she didn’t. She just nodded slowly and reached out to take my hands.

“Thank you for being here,” she said. “I know it hasn’t been easy for you, but you’ve really made a difference. And, well, I don’t know if he realises it yet, but I think you’ve really helped James in his recovery. A few weeks ago I didn’t think he’d ever manage to be here today.”

“I wish I could make it all better,” I said, trying not to let my voice crack. “I’m sorry for running away again.”

She shrugged. “It’s not running away if you’ve said a proper goodbye. And it’s not really goodbye, is it? Not this time?”

“Of course not,” I told her. “You couldn’t get rid of me this time even if you tried.”

She laughed and flung her arms around me. She smelt like honeysuckle and I breathed her in. It had been hard saying goodbye to James, but Ollie was my real love. I almost didn’t want to let her go.

“Be happy, Cass,” she instructed. “And write to me.”

“Always,” I told her.

She kissed my cheek and then she let me go.

I gave myself one last chance to look back around the tent, looking first at Cadence, who was now dancing with James. She held his one hand in both of hers and he swung her forwards and backwards. I waited for him to notice me watching, but his eyes were firmly fixed on her, filled with a kind of adoration that I’d never seen in his face when he looked at me.

Jason stood nearby, holding a drink and chatting to Louis, but his eyes kept flickering back to James and Cadence. I wasn’t sure what would happen next for them, if anything at all, but I felt certain that it was right to give them this chance to see what they really meant to each other.

Louis drained the rest of his champagne and then took Jason’s glass out of his hand and finished his too. Jason laughed and smacked the side of his head. Louis stuck his tongue out and then got distracted by a beautiful brunette walking past. Jason pushed him over to her and within seconds Louis had her deep in conversation.

Lucy was sitting in her chair at the edge of the marquee with Victoire’s younger child perched on her knee. She was reading the little girl and picture book and looked completely content. Every so often, I noticed Louis turn away from his conversation to look over at his cousin and check if she needed anything. Every time they made eye contact, Lucy looked bemused and shook her head, gesturing for Louis to get back to his flirtation.

A little way away from Lucy, Rose and Scorpius were dancing together. Rose had daisies threaded through her hair and kept trying to tuck them behind Scorpius’s ear. He was laughing and half heartedly trying to remove them, but obviously didn’t want to lift his hands from her waist for long enough to properly knock them to the floor. They looked relaxed and happy and in love.

Ollie was no longer looking at me. Instead, she had found her way back into Al’s arms and was swaying on the spot with him while he murmured something in her ear.

I allowed myself a final glance back at Cadence, trying to imprint her image into my mind so that I’d always remember her in this moment, and then I turned around and left the marquee.

They were all going to be okay. And so was I.

A/N: And that's it! I know it's not the ending some of you were hoping for, but the more I thought about it the more I couldn't see Cassie's story ending any other way. I keep considering an epilogue to show where she's going and what's next for her (and have drafted a few letters for her to leave for various characters), but I think at this moment she's not actually sure what she's doing. She's found some kind of closure and has helped her friends as much as she can, and she was never going to be happy sticking around.

If you want to read more in this universe, Cassie's story started in 'Complicated', and Lily and Lucy feature heavily in my WIP 'Long Live the Queen'.

I hope you can forgive me if this isn't what you wanted for Cassie! Let me know what you think is coming next for them all xx

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