Whenever Poppy had a hard time doing something, from homework to friendship bracelets for Ruby -- total waste of time, in retrospect -- to yoga positions, her mom used to say the best art was born out of instinct and creativity and being clear without being seen.
Poppy hadn't thought much of it when she was young -- her mom liked to read, a lot, and sometimes she quoted things from poetry, which was, like, totally confusing. Poetry was hard enough to get when you had a whole poem for context -- applying random lines to life was near impossible. And Poppy had a feeling her mom made a lot of those lines up, and who knew what she must have been thinking when she came up with them.
Besides, art wasn't that hard -- if Poppy tried hard enough, she could approach everything creative the way she approached fashion. So, all in all, her mom's advice was comforting, but totally not helpful.
It's only years and years later that Poppy begins to make sense of it.
Her first epiphany -- she numbers them all afterwards, because it seems like epiphanies are something you should keep track of, and Kate's obsession with making everything into a list is rubbing off on her -- happens while she's waiting outside the headmistress's office after a game.
"Mrs. Kingsley is going to murder you," Drippy says cheerily, because she's not the one who took a lacrosse stick to the other team's goalkeeper's knee. And anyway, it was an accident. Poppy didn't actually mean to hit her. She definitely didn't mean to fracture her... whatever bone it was the stick had accidentally touched.
"You should get extra credit for it," Josie says. "I thought it was a very creative way to get back at them for what they said to Kate. Seemed almost artsy in its simplicity."
"It was an accident," Poppy lies.
Kate shakes her head and says, "Since when is it artsy to injure someone?"
"Well," Kiki says, shrugging pensively, "there's an art to everything."
Later, Kate sits down next to her and says, "She didn't deserve that."
Kate thinks she's not lying, but she is. Poppy can tell.
Okay, see, Kate has a girlfriend. Sort of. Poppy isn't entirely sure what they are, except that they pet each other a lot and Kate gets dragged into someone's lap in public and sometimes she disappears and makes it back to the dorm less than two minutes before curfew, which is pretty much the definition of reckless if you're Kate, looking all glowy and stuff. Sometimes she's so out of it she laughs at things Drippy says that are actually serious, which makes Poppy feel so much less alone, and also it's pretty freaking adorable.
And Poppy thinks anybody who sees Kate getting a good luck kiss before a game and resorts to using ugly synonyms of the word 'lesbian' as insults deserves a lacrosse stick shoved up her ass, so, hello, fracturing her knee was way more forgiving than several other things Poppy could have done unrepentantly.
Like, fine, whatever, maybe the damage wasn't entirely legal, but the name-calling was way out of line, and Poppy could tell Kate was appalled and hurt back then, and can tell Kate's touched by Poppy's behavior, even if she feels guilty about it.
But, Poppy reasons, sometimes you just have to bide your time and be really, really obvious, like, so obvious that not even Kate's ridiculous habit of putting herself down can deny that you care.
That's the second one.
The third one chooses the worst timing ever.
"Holy shit," she says out loud.
And then Kate bursts in, crying.
It's the worst timing ever because you don't realize you may possibly be in love with one of your best friends right as she's getting dumped by her girlfriend. You just don't. Poppy's sure there are laws in the universe making sure it doesn't happen, because it can cause things such as not having time to process it before you have an armful of beautiful, amazing girl breathing irregularly into your neck in an attempt to stop sobbing.
"You seem pleased," Kate says when she manages to regain some composure and sit up. She looks so wary Poppy can't help but scrunch her face up in guilt.
"I'm not," she says, biting her lip. "I'm really sorry. But, you know, it's her loss. She totally didn't deserve you."
"Right," Kate says with a dry laugh, shaking her head. The remnants of that sad smile fade so fast it makes Poppy feel terrible, and then she feels terrible about monopolizing feeling terrible when Kate has a lot more reasons to be the most terrible-feeling person in the room.
It's just she wants Kate to stop looking sad so badly. She doesn't know how to put a smile back on her face, but she can't stand to see her like that.
So she closes her eyes and kisses her.
Kate goes still for a moment, just long enough for Poppy to notice and worry she's screwed up, but then Kate tilts her head and dives in and her lips are kind of swollen and it's perfect and Poppy maybe makes a humming sound into it, it feels so nice.
"What is this?" Kate asks carefully.
Poppy shrugs. "I don't know," she says. "A kiss? A tearful kiss."
"Tearful kiss," Kate echoes, voice soft. "How sexy."
"Whatever," Poppy says, smiling against Kate's mouth. "Didn't Harry Potter have one of those? This moment is totally a pop culture reference."
"That didn't really work out for him," Kate says, but doesn't push Poppy away, which is, in retrospect, a sign that she's not in her right mind to make this kind of decisions, and Poppy should be the voice of reason for once.
"It'll work out for us," Poppy says, and Kate has to frown at her before Poppy realizes using the word 'us' is kind of weird when you just kissed someone out of the blue for the first time.
But she likes Kate. It's exhilarating. There's this person who makes Poppy happy in a way that nobody else does, and she wants to make her happy back, or at least less sad, and she needs to do it now. She can't wait until Kate's made a pro-con list or Poppy's therapist calls her back.
Poppy's just not wired to be the voice of reason, that's all, and anyway, reason? Totally overrated.
Art is definitely the way to go.