Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for mature content.
“I love you”
Nothing like those three words to strike a girl speechless.
Ruby’s world was spinning. She might scream, or throw up, or pass out, or maybe some mixture of the three. What she ended up doing was sputtering out a similar admission of love and throwing her arms around Remus, the one who had swept her into such a spell only moments before.
She wasn’t sure if she meant what she said at the time, but many months later she would have convinced herself that it was true. She loved Remus. Remus loved her. What a blissful life to live.
It was during these months of flirtatious looks across crowded rooms and little games of footsie under tables, that Ruby would find herself away from her beloved for and evening at the bar with her friends.
“-so then, I was like,” Sophie was saying between sips of a bright red liquid that was too pink to be wine and probably contained enough alcohol to put their little lightweight friend, Nina, into a coma, “shut your face, ‘cause I Don't Wanna Talk To You right...now.” she hiccuped and took another sip of her drink, “Right, ‘cause he’s such a jerk, you know? Nin-Nina, you know that, right? He’s a jerk.”
Nina, the self-appointed designated driver just nodded in vague amusement and concern. The silence lasted just a beat too long for Ruby who, in her muddled state, thought of this as the prime time to declare her love for Remus.
“He’s just the greatest guys,” she was saying to her group, who had taken on a new member in the form of an awkward designated driver boy whose name she couldn’t remember but whom she now thought of as one of her new closest friends, “he makes me breakfast, like, all the time, like, every morning. Every morning, guys!”
The new boy, nicknamed “glasses friend” by the thoroughly drunk Ruby, cut in then with a piece of advice she would never forget, “It sounds to me,” he said, hardly audible over the ruckus of the bar, “like you love him a lot, but you don’t really like him.”
Ruby narrowed her eyes and pointed a manicured fingernail at him, “You, are really smart.”
Sophie re-joined the conversation, “Yeah yeah yeah, you love him, so so much, but do you like him. Like you love to go on dates and kiss and stuff with Re...Remush, but do you want to… go watch movies with him? Or play chess? You love chess!”
That conversation ended rather quickly, but it stuck in Ruby’s head even as she bumbled around the kitchen the next morning downing some meds and the glass of water that went with them. Somewhere in her search through the one-bedroom’s single walk-in closet that she shared with Remus, she knocked over the basket of his underwear that had been sitting rather comfortably on the top shelf before her rummaging hands had decided to mess it up. Out spilled his underwear, but also something else. Something navy blue and about the size of a gold ball. Something that sank her stomach into her feet.
She knew she shouldn’t, but she picked it up. What a beautiful little box it was, all soft edges and sparkling silk. Against her own better judgment, she opened it up. The ring. Oh, the ring. Every little girl is told to dream up what their wedding day will look like, detail for detail. Ruby was the ultimate girly girl. She had picked out so many different options for what this ring would look like when it was finally presented to her, and this one exceeded all expectations.
For some reason, she had never imagined that her engagement ring would be anything but clear, sparkling diamond set in either silver or gold. Before her, set in shining white gold, violet crystals of some kind were arranged around that dimond she had always imagined. It was like something out of a fairy tale. A fairy tale she had just spoiled for herself. She knew the little mermaid would get her legs, and now she felt overwhelmingly guilty.
She put everything back the way she found it and plopped down on the couch. Why had she opened that box? Why couldn’t she have just put it back where she found it? Her eyes landed on the small pile of unopened boxes that had been shoved in the corner. Their labels faced outward in black sharpie, distorted slightly by the partially crunched nature of the boxes they adorned. “Book’s & Ruby’s stuff”, “Games”, “Roller blades & winter gear” they said.
“You love chess,” Sophie had said the night before. Ruby doubted she even remembered that.
Her mind went back to all the dates, the flirting, the kissing, the...other stuff. All those things that she had really truly enjoyed in that way that proved she loved him. But those boxes over there, unopened and shoved in the corner, proved that she didn’t really like him. How could she like someone she didn’t want to play a game with? How could she like someone she didn’t want to go rollerblading with, or just hang out with, reading a book or just chatting about nothing.
There was so much romance, so many kisses and flirty little touches, but all of it meant nothing if they never spent any time off of cloud nine. What would happen when that rosy lense through which they viewed each other broke?
The sound of Remus’s key in the lock broke her from her thoughts. In the boxer shorts and and overly large t shirt she had fallen asleep in and failed to change out of, she went to meet him at the door.
When the slat of wood swung open on its hinges, Remus was revealed behind it. As always, he was ruggedly handsome, in a neat kind of way. Like a roman warrior who had been transported to the future to become a banker. His mouth was set in a smirk when he saw her standing there with her bed head and her pajamas, “Hello princess,” he teased.
She grunted and fixed her eyes on the bag hanging from his arm, “What’d you get?” she asked, attempting to shove the image of that ring out of her head.
His eye glinted mischievously, “You’ll see.”
Ruby only half heard him over the gut-twisting sound of her own thoughts.
“Um, Remus,” she said, regretting her words even as she said them, “can we talk?”
His smirk vanished, “Uh, yeah sure.”
They came inside. As remus set his mystery bag on the counter, Ruby went to sit down on the couch, her head screaming at her to stop this. Don’t have this conversation. Live on in this bliss.
But when he joined her, his face an unmasked mix of concern and something unreadable to Ruby, the din quieted to a hush. All that mattered now was them, here, and now.
“Remus,” said Ruby with this new peace of mind, “I love you, but I don’t think I like you.”
The following conversation was nothing less than impossible. The last words Ruby would hear out of Remus’s mouth before he got in his car, never to return to her again were the same ones that sent her heart racing so long ago, “I love you.”