67. Awkward & Uncomfortable
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content warning: mention of memory problems / amnesia

The bell rang as I was putting the last couple books away, but I didn't rush. It took me another minute or two to finish up, then I made my way towards the office by the front.

"Ms. Sutton? That's all the books back where they belong. Is there anything else you'd like me to do?" I asked.

She gave me a friendly smile, "No thank you Cassandra, that's perfect. The bell just rang a few minutes ago, you're not late for your next class are you?"

I shook my head, "No ma'am. This is my lunch period now."

She gave me a knowing look as she realized that meant I skipped the class before lunch, "As much as I appreciate you spending time helping me again, you shouldn't keep cutting classes. Sooner or later you're going to get us both in trouble."

"Sorry ma'am," I grimaced. "It was just gym, and Mr. Sanderson should be used to me skipping his classes by now."

That didn't make her feel any better, but she didn't give me a hard time about it. Instead she urged, "Go and have lunch Cassandra. Thanks again for all your help this morning."

I suppressed a sigh but didn't try and argue. I grabbed my backpack, and I already had my big dark blue hoodie on. The halls were mostly empty as I walked from the library to the cafeteria. The lunch room was busy, almost everyone was already there eating with their friends.

My little sister was sitting with Cerys and Melanie again, which made me happy. Nina was shy and quiet like me, but she got on well with the ex-witch and the werewolf. And Cerys seemed to be doing better too, like over the last week or two I'd noticed she wasn't so depressed anymore. She wasn't the brash bold Touhou witch she used to be, but I got the feeling she was kind of finding herself as Cerys now. Like instead of hiding herself behind a character she was cosplaying.

Then I spotted Kaylee and Paige eating together a few tables away, but I didn't want to intrude on them either. Things felt awkward between me and Kaylee since I got some more memories back. Like I remembered we'd broken up after a couple arguments and stuff, and I wasn't sure how to fix that. Plus I got the feeling she was kind of awkward around me too, probably because of all the weird stuff I had going on. So basically I was back to wanting to talk to her or hang out with her, but feeling too shy and awkward to try.

I also saw Kenzie and Kirstie sitting together at a table in the far corner, but I knew neither of them wanted me around. I couldn't remember what I'd done to make the bunnygirl and her catgirl sister mad at me, but I knew it had to be something to do with Socha. If it was like some of the other things I did under her influence though, then I was probably happier not remembering it.

Thinking of things I'd rather not remember led to a little shudder as my mind drifted back to the sorts of clothes I'd found in my closet and dresser. I nearly died of embarrassment when I realized what I'd been wearing out in public, and even to school.

That was sort of the theme of the past two and a half weeks though, remembering stuff and trying to figure out what happened or what I'd done. Me and Nina and our parents were all off for the rest of that last week in September, then my sister and I came back to school on the fourth of October. Nina kind of fit back in ok, she'd only missed a few days after all. But for me it felt like I'd missed the whole first month of grade twelve.

That wasn't just because of my messed-up memory either, as near as I could tell I hadn't bothered with any homework or assignments and wasn't paying attention in class either. I'd show up and look busy so the teachers didn't give me a hard time, but if I'd kept that up I would have failed all my exams and everything.

As it was I was scrambling to catch up and get extensions on the overdue assignments and everything. Luckily mom got me a doctor's note that explained I had some kind of ongoing problem after the incident last June, so the teachers were willing to give me the benefit of the doubt as long as I put the effort in now that I was feeling better.

Now it was Thursday, nearly the middle of October, and I was almost through my second week back to school. It was a short week though, since we had Monday off for thanksgiving. That was the first family holiday we'd had with Nina and it should have been a lot more fun, but instead it was kind of quiet and subdued. It was nice though, and she definitely appreciated being part of our family just like we were happy to have her with us.

Unfortunately, despite having a little sister and great parents and still being friends with the folks in Club Luna, I still felt kind of awkward and isolated. And I was sure everyone else thought I was weird. Actually I knew they did, considering I'd been standing just inside the lunchroom doors for the last couple minutes just staring into space thinking about stuff.

I blushed as I hurried towards an empty seat off to one side of the cafeteria, but before I got there I heard Kaylee call my name. When I turned I saw she was waving me to come over and join her and Paige, so I nodded and headed back over to them.

"You missed gym class again today huh?" Paige asked as I pulled out the chair next to her. "Too bad Cass, you were doing pretty well for the first few weeks."

That made me cringe into my big hoodie as I mumbled, "That wasn't really me."

Kaylee frowned at Paige then gave me a sympathetic look and asked, "How have you been doing lately? We haven't really had a chance to talk much, since you've been busy getting caught up and everything."

"I'm ok I guess?" I shrugged as I pulled my sandwich and a bottle of water out of my backpack. "A lot of work though trying to get caught up like you said."

The two of them exchanged a brief glance, then Paige commented quietly "I'm sure she wasn't just asking how you're doing with school stuff Cass. You know we're your friends right, we worry about you. And we know you've been through a lot. If there's anything you need or anything we can do for you, just ask ok? Or if you just want to talk, I'm sure all of us will be there for you."

"Thanks Paige," I replied quietly. "I appreciate it. I guess I just need some more time to get over all that stuff? And um, maybe get some confidence back."

Kaylee asked just as quietly, "Are you still having trouble remembering things?"

She must have seen me hesitate or cringe or something, since she quickly added "Never mind. Sorry Cass, I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."

I just nodded quietly, then finally had a bite of my sandwich. The three of us were quiet for a bit after that, and I was able to get about halfway through my lunch before we were suddenly joined by a few more people.

"So we were wondering about the next club meeting," Melanie said, as she and Cerys and Nina all pulled up chairs and sat down with us. The wolfgirl continued, "Full moon's next Wednesday morning, but I was wondering if we can have the meeting a bit early? I'm thinking either tomorrow night or Saturday night?"

She added, "I can host again, my dad's working both nights while me and Cerys are off both nights. The two of us are going to be busy most evenings next week though, so an early meeting would be best for us."

"I can get more burgers and sausages from my uncle," Cerys added. "So we can do another BBQ along with the meeting?"

Melanie continued, "Or if y'all are sick of burgs by now, maybe we can get something else? Both Cerys and me get a discount at the grocery store, and we're both working tonight. So let us know what you like."

"I don't mind burgers or sausages," Paige replied. "And if we're picking between Friday and Saturday then tomorrow works best for both me and Brooke. We already have plans for Saturday night."

Kaylee shrugged, "Tomorrow night's fine with me. Are we heading over to your place right after school?"

Melanie nodded, "Yeah that works. Me and Cerys will grab some snacks and drinks at work tonight, so we're all set for tomorrow."

Our club leader looked at me and Nina and asked, "Are you both ok with doing the meeting tomorrow night at Melanie's place? I'll text Brooke and Melody, but I'm pretty sure Brooke will be available."

My little sister nodded, but I hesitated.

I asked, "Are you all sure I should still be there? You know I can't really participate any more right? I'm supposed to stay away from any magical stuff."

"Of course you should be there!" Cerys responded. "You're part of the club!"

Melanie agreed, "Cerys will be there and she's retired, so I don't see any reason why you shouldn't come too."

"Anyways you can still see magic right?" the wolfgirl added in a much quieter voice. "And even if you can't do the witchy stuff, what about the stuff you can do? You're part demon, so you've got all that going for you."

I ended up blushing and cringing into my hoodie again at that point. I still had a lot of really mixed feelings about the whole demonic thing.

That had been kind of a big shock when I remembered those details. Like I had about four or five days of believing me and Nina were just a couple normal girls, before re-discovering that my shy quiet adorable little sister was actually a fifteen hundred year old demon. And my body was basically custom made to be part demon and part goddess.

When those memories surfaced they brought along a bunch of knowledge of demonic magic, but that was another thing I tried not to think about. I knew it was one of the things me and Kaylee argued over, one of the reasons we weren't together anymore.

"Sorry Cass," Melanie's apology brought me back out of my thoughts. She'd obviously seen my reaction and realized I was uncomfortable. "I didn't mean to bother you with that stuff. But you're definitely welcome and I think you should be there. Same with Nina. You two are our friends, as well as club members."

"It's fine," I mumbled, then drank some of my water.

That was yet another thing I felt self-conscious about, how I was constantly over-reacting to stuff my friends said. Then they'd apologize and feel bad about it, and I was positive they were already getting tired of me being so sensitive about so many things.

"Hey does anyone know what happened to all the candles we used to have in May's classroom?" Paige asked, changing the subject. "I know at one point we had a big bag of those things."

Cerys replied, "I took them home for the summer but um... I don't know what happened to them."

"That's ok," our club leader replied. "I'll see if I can buy us another bag of them. I think we should start doing circles again when we have our club meetings."

Melanie asked, "How come? I thought the circles were just because we were meeting in a semi-public place? And nobody's going to walk in on us if we're in my basement."

"The circle wasn't just to keep the public out," Kaylee explained. "It also protected us from supernatural prying or threats."

Paige agreed, "In the past we didn't bother with it over the summer because the meetings were more informal, and I didn't really think about it when we started meeting at your place or Cass and Nina's house? But considering that's probably the kind of venue we're going to have from now on I think we should get back into the habit of doing a proper circle again, regardless of the location."

"As long as you don't mind having a bunch of candles set up in your basement?" she added as she looked to the werewolf.

"Nah I don't care about that," Melanie shrugged. "I don't know how we're going to make it a circle though, since all the furniture is in a corner? It'll be shaped more like a pie slice, quarter circle. Unless you want me to move all the furniture around?"

Our leader smiled, "We'll figure something out. And I'll pick up a few dozen candles tonight."

"Good thing you're still practicing your spells," Cerys teased her girlfriend. "You'll get plenty of experience if you're lighting two dozen candles every club meeting."

The wolfgirl rolled her eyes, "It's not that hard, as long as y'all don't expect me to light the lot of them at once."

"Sorry if this is still a sensitive topic Cerys, but you're still avoiding magic?" Kaylee asked.

The young blonde grimaced, then suggested "How about we save that till tomorrow night? I'll give everyone an update on what's going on with me at the meeting. And uh, sorry to put you on the spot too Cass but I'm sure everyone's going to want to know how you're doing as well? So maybe the two of us can do that as part of the official agenda stuff."

I cringed again but I knew she was right, folks were definitely going to ask. I ended up mumbling, "It's ok Cerys. And yeah that makes sense."

Paige gave both of us an apologetic look, "I was going to ask at the meeting anyways, but thanks you two for saying it's ok."

I just nodded quietly, then finished the last of my water. The six of us talked a bit more, or at least my friends all talked more while I mostly just stayed quiet and listened. Then when lunch was almost over we all got up and headed away to our various classes.

One thing I was glad hadn't changed was I still sat in the back corner near the door in all my classes. And since I switched back to wearing my big hoodie and trying to blend into the background just about everyone had stopped staring at me. Teachers mostly stopped calling on me in class too, which was nice.

There was only one person who still stared at me sometimes, but that was more glaring than staring. Kenzie was in a couple of my classes, and sure enough I noticed her giving me dark looks once or twice after lunch in our Creative Writing class. I thought about trying to apologize to her, but I worried that without knowing what I was apologizing for I might just end up making things worse. And I didn't want to tell her I'd forgotten whatever it was I did wrong, for a dozen awkward reasons.

So I mostly just kept quiet and tried to focus on the schoolwork and lessons and stuff. Then at the end of the day I met up with my little sister and the two of us walked home together. Kaylee usually walked with us, but I still felt too awkward and uncomfortable to talk with her about stuff.

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