She has already bought her dress.
That's the thought which keeps rising up in her mind while she nods through the Principle's talk, "We need to have a private chat in my office, Diana," through all the trite, condescending phrases. "Inappropriate", "Wouldn't be fair", "Unsuitable", "Disruptive".
She nods, and even smiles politely, because there's no way in hell that she's going to cry.
"I'm sure you understand," he says, finally. And what she understands is that her beautiful green dress won't be worn after all and that she is apparently now something others have to be protected from (and she saw the petition, after all). As an afterthought he adds, "You can't expect special treatment, you know."
"Sir," she says, and thinks, special. And she nods, because although she's been brought up as a diplomat's daughter knowing how to fight for herself, this is different. This is the weight of a world she's barely entered yet crushing down on her and she's so small, in the end. This is a binary where punishment and special treatment are the only two responses to her existence.
It would be special treatment to allow her to go to Prom with everyone else, even unescorted and alone. She's unsuitable.
She doesn't tell her father (she would have to start at the very beginning and, no). She would have told Charlie, but he's dead (and she could have been dead too by now, aren't there so many more important things to be upset and angry about than the loss of one evening?). She wants to tell Becca but she's gone, abruptly taken up-State by her parents (and don't you dare contact our daughter again).
Becca, with her blonde braid and brown eyes and low, sweet laugh, and fear of Hell.
News spreads fast. By the next day the whole school is aware, even those who didn't know her name or face before, and she's the target of sidelong glances and hasty steps back.
"I'm not contagious," she snaps, eventually, but no one laughs.
Not that it's everyone, of course. She's only been here a short while but she has friends — only not Becca, not anymore — and they stick by her but don't speak out in her defence (she can't really blame them). She gets what she thinks are sympathetic looks from a couple of the teachers and an awkward speech about how God loves her anyway from a girl in the year below whom she barely recognises. And David in her form, who's usually painfully shy, finds her when she's alone by her locker and tells her earnestly that she could go as his date, if that might make a difference. "I mean, I'm not asking you to date me. Really, really not. But we could pretend…"
The realisation startles her, although at the same time she isn't terribly surprised. "You too?"
He smiles nervously, clearly afraid to incriminate himself further. "You're so brave," he says.
It doesn't feel like she's being brave. Brave would be having outed herself, it would be fighting against this — this unfairness, rather than allowing herself to be overruled.
Her dress is green satin and she resists putting it on, even just to see what might have been.
On the night when David's going to Prom alone and Becca's desperately trying to renounce her soul, Diana reads. She finds her old books, her favourites from childhood (when everything was simpler, and happier, and possibly a lie) and takes them under her duvet. There are princes and princesses, and knights who slay monsters and fight against evil which is huge and frightening and obvious and doesn't look like her at all. And there's a hard, painful knot inside her, and maybe fighting was what she was born to do, after all.
The next day she returns the dress to the store. "Has it been worn?" the saleswoman asks.
"No," Diana says, and doesn't cry.