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Blossoms

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“I don’t know anyone here. Why would I want to go to a stupid party with strangers?” Noora shouted to her roommate from across the living room with a stomp to annunciate her point. It probably had weakened her argument making her seem like a child having a temper tantrum. She didn't really care.

“Can’t you have fun, Noora?” Her roommate Eskild was trying to convince her to go to a revue party the school was holding, “You’re a first year. This party may set your social status for the rest of your schooling. You need friends Noora.” It stung a bit, and he was being so very annoying, but Noora knew he was right.

“Fine, but I have nothing to wear.”

“Oh yes you do missy,” Eskild said with a devious smile and an eyebrow waggle that would have scared Noora on anyone else’s face, “I’ll show you.” He ran off into her room.

Noora was scared to imagine what he must be doing in there. Eskild and her had only been living together for a few weeks and he was already driving her crazy. The late night hookups were loud, but she could deal with it. His incessant need to criticize her every move and whatever clothing she wore was beyond annoying, but she had heard most of that before.

Now he was forcing her to go to a party for people four years younger than him. How he even found out about her school’s social life was beyond her knowledge. He seemed to be all knowing. It was a bit creepy, but that was Eskild for you. He could come off as kind of creepy or odd, but she knew he cared for her.

The two of them had been friends since they were young. He’d been with her through everything. When she had left her parents in Mjølden to go to Madrid when she was only fifteen Eskild had supported her. He was the cool older brother she’d never had. He lived in the big city and wasn’t afraid of anything. When she was younger she had viewed him as a god. And now she was cleaning up after his messy sexcapades, her view had certainly changed. Eskild ran back into the living room with two outfits for Noora to wear to the party she didn’t want to attend. A dress he had chosen must have been from when she was about ten. His choices were certainly her clothes, but not anything she would wear to a simple party.She plumped herself down on the couch already feeling a bit defeated by her roommate.

“OK,” Eskild began explaining his choices excitedly with his trademark smile, “What we have here is a white blouse with beautiful faux pearls along the collar. I believe this is what you would call elegante back in Madrid?” Noora rolled her eyes. “Then I decided on a more conservative look with some black skinny jeans that look like you have never worn them.”

Eskild showed her the next outfit. It was a tight white dress with a beautiful cinch and little gems along the top. It was a reminder of another time and one she didn’t wish to remember. Oslo was supposed to be a new start. Why did she even still have that stupid tiny dress? It was useless to her now that she was back in Norway. 

“Noora, isn’t this so perfect for your first real night out in Oslo. You’ll look so fucking hot.”

She was annoyed and a bit uncomfortable if she was being honest, “Eskild this is my outfit and my night out. I should get to choose not you. I’ll just wear something normal, that I want to wear.” By the end of her rant, Noora had stood up and was almost face to face with Eskild despite him being more than a foot taller than her. She was really upset with him.

“Yeah, but Noora, none of your picks would be good enough. Don’t you want to bring home some cute special someone.” There was that smile again. And there was Noora rolling her eyes again.

“I’ll go Eskild but I’m not fucking wearing that shit. I think I’ll just wear a collared shirt or something. And I don’t want to bring home anyone. I’m going to this party to make friends, not hook up.”

“Okay Noora.” Eskild remarked exaggerating every syllable dramatically as she walked away from him.

Noora went into her room. Eskild had made an absolute mess of it. Dresses were covering her bed. Skirts were scattered across the floor. Her closet was a disaster. She wanted to scream at him, but she had a revue party to get dressed for.


 

Noora was in a large room absolutely crowded with people, but she still felt just as bored as she had at home with Eskild and his annoying fashion advice. His advice actually had helped. She had ended up choosing a simple and kind of modest outfit. Her top was a white collared shirt it was a bit see through, but she hoped nobody noticed. Underneath she had a red skirt with black tights.

She thought she looked pretty good, but going out was pointless if she was just going to be by herself. This was so fucking hopeless. She took her bag out of her purse and began to request an Uber to go home when she heard something that practically stung her ears.

“That slutty dress and all that makeup don't cover up that you’re a giant lesbo.” A female voice said like ice somewhere near her.

Her ears had perked up upon hearing it but she was searching the bar trying to see who said it. A redhead in front of her turned and appeared upset as another girl ran off with some of her friends laughing in a way that gave her goosebumps. It must have been them, she knew it in her gut. She wanted to shout at her, but then she heard whimpering coming from a girl near her. A need to comfort her arose inside her.

“You know, according to some studies people who make fun of others sexuality have 90% chance of getting chlamydia.” Noora said before she had even fully seen the girl’s face.

“Really?” She looked up and Noora recognized her as a classmate from her Spanish class, but she couldn’t put her name to her face. Her face still was looking stunning despite the lack of light and tears Noora thought to herself as she looked closer at her face.

“No, probably not.” Noora smiled, hoping to comfort the girl who luckily smiled back, “But wouldn’t it be great if it was true?”

“Yeah, I’m Eva by the way. And I think we have geometry together?”

“Noora. We actually have Spanish together.”

“Oh” Eva’s already flustered face began to blush.

The girl was looking embarrassed as if she should have known better than to speak to anyone. Noora mentally slapped herself for making the poor girl feel worse than she had before. Why must she embarrass the pretty girl? Eva had walked off to the bathroom to clean up her make up. And now Noora was alone again at a party.

She took her drink off the counter and began sipping it slowly as she leaned on the bar counter. She looked off into the crowd longing for some company. Her Uber was looking more and more appealing to her as she saw only unfamiliar, drunk, and intimidating faces in the bar.

She gave herself five more minutes, but then five minutes passed and she still hadn’t seen anyone to strike up a conversation with anywhere. Just some douchey guys and some girls who looked like they would slap her for no reason. She grabbed her jacket and purse from some hook at the door and walked out to an Uber she had requested before she had grabbed her things. Eskild was wrong, the night had been no fun at all.


 

Fall break was boring when you had no friends Noora realized. Netflix, Eskild, and her other roommate Linn had been her only company that week. She had heard some of her classmates had gone to their cabins in the mountains or to Germany. Noora had decided to save money and not travel. Besides, she wouldn’t have had anyone to go to a vacation spot with even if she could afford it.

Feeling bored of her tenth episode of Gilmore Girls of the day she went on to Facebook hoping to curb her boredom for a bit. When it loaded there was a little red notification. Someone had requested to be her friend. It was that girl, Eva. Eva Mohn. She instantly smiled and accepted it. How exciting, a new friend she thought happily. A friend who she hadn’t stopped thinking of all week. A friend who had made her heart beat a little faster just seeing her picture. A friend who she’d see on Monday in Spanish class hopefully. A friend who she definitely wanted to be more than her friend.

Chapter Text

Noora had barely moved over the past day from her bed. She had been watching Netflix with Facebook open in another tab hoping Eva would make the next move, she didn’t want to seem desperate. It had been a day since Noora had accepted the friend request. She was beginning to think she should have messaged first. This was so hard she thought to herself, she just wanted to be less lonely. Couldn’t she just jump to the telling her everything and laughing and hanging out like Eskild did with everyone.

Noora knew she was more confident than she had been when she was younger, but she still got skittish talking to girls. It wasn’t that she had a crush on Eva. Although she had liked other girls this was different, she had needed a friend and Eva was there. Nothing more, to it. She didn’t want anything special besides a friend to help her be a little less lost in a new school in a new city.

There was a loud ding from her computer, Noora jumped up slightly, startled. It had interrupted her viewing of Gilmore Girls which always put her in a spaced out daze. Her first thought was to check her other tab. Maybe it was Eva?

Noora clicked to look. It was nothing. She had just been tagged in some school photos by her old classmates from Madrid. She scrolled through smiling and missing them. Oslo felt so lonely without anyone to truly talk to. There were Eskild and Linn, but they weren’t the same. There was another noise. This time she almost screamed with delight. It was a message from someone. She clicked her message button to see if it was actually Eva. It was her! Noora’s smile widened, but then she opened it and became confused.

Eva: H

“Huh,” She said out loud without even realizing it. A message she had been waiting all day for and it was just a single letter. Fy faen, maybe she was another oddball like the rest of the revue folks. Then another ding came from the laptop.

Eva: Hei is what I meant. I would have typed hei, but then I hit the send button and it just became h

Noora took in a sigh of relief. Maybe this girl was fine after all? But what should she reply with? She began to bite her nails, a bad habit that came out when she was nervous.

“Eskild! I need your advice.” Noora shouted into the air not sure what to expect from it.

Soon she heard the rustling of slippered feet as Eskild, presumably, ran to her aid. Without knocking he entered her room and began rambling on all the things she could possibly need help with, “Do you need dance lessons again? I promise this time I’ll be more patient. Or is it a matter of the heart? A boy? I know I shouldn’t assume, but…” He continued rambling.

“Eskild, stop talking for one second, please.” Noora tried to keep calm but he still was rambling almost uncontrollably. Eskild jumped down next to her on the bed and grabbed her laptop. He started scrolling through Eva’s profile and Noora could feel her stomach drop. Her neck was getting hot. What was he doing?

“Let me see here. Now, who is this? Eva Kviig Mohn,” He annunciated each letter causing Noora to cringe, “Hmmm, she looks quite fun. A bit of a partier, but maybe that will be good for you,” He then looked deep in thought, “But why would you need help talking to a girl? Do you not know how to make friends?”

“Eskild, I just wanted your opinion on what I should reply to her with. I need new friends now that I’m back in Oslo for good. I'm a little rusty with making new ones” She said hoping he couldn’t see her nerves.

“Well,” Eskild looked up at the ceiling in an attempt to look thoughtful while still keeping his dramatic persona intact, “She seems to be kind of nervous or something from the last message. So, just send a thumbs up or something.”

Noora nodded. She found the emoji and hit send. Almost as soon as she sends it she sees a read notification. She smiled to herself and Eskild did too as he patted her back then skipped away.

When he left the room she took a sigh of relief. He hadn’t suspected anything. He didn’t know she liked girls and she wanted to keep it that way, for now at least. It was stupid, she knew that. Obviously, a gay man wouldn’t care if his roommate liked girls, but she just didn’t want him trying to mentor her in being gay. He would do something invasive and bizarre when he eventually found out. Already Eskild always got in her business, this would make it far worse. Or at least that was her worry. Anyways her sexuality was nobody’s business but her own.

A lot had happened when she lived in Madrid. She had drunk a lot and it made a person she didn’t like. But one night she had had an evening that had maybe made her other bad decisions worth it. Clara had made the bad worth it. It had been late and she’d been alone with her on a couch somewhere. It was grimy and dark, but it seemed like the most beautiful place because she was with her. She remembered how beautiful her dark eyes had looked. And how her black hair had looked so sexy. The night had been a special kind of magic.

The two of them had ended up making out. Their clothes had stayed on and they were both pretty drunk, but it still felt perfect. There were a few more nights like that where they were drunk. The two of them had hooked up a lot and considered putting a label on it, but by the time Noora was sure she wanted to be open about the two of them Clara had moved onto bigger and brighter things. She had accused Noora of being non-committal and just a straight girl looking for a hookup. That hadn’t been it at all.

Clara had been the first girl Noora had ever been with seriously. Noora had always thought her thinking girls were pretty was just the feminist in her. Never had she thought it was because she liked them, like really liked them. Like really liked them. Now that she was back in Norway she had meant to tell Eskild so they could go to clubs together since she was finally over Clara. But she had forgotten how nosy he was. How he wanted to know everything and didn’t know when to stop with questions.

When he asked if she had had all the boys chasing her in Madrid she shuddered. She didn’t want him to know about her nights alone with Clara. She didn’t like talking about those things with anyone. It was too personal. Especially with Eskild, that would be too weird. He was like her big brother, not her sex guru. Not that he knew that.

Chapter Text

When Eva walked into the Spanish class she looked alone. She also looked disappointed to see that a boy had joined Noora at her desk. She had been looking around the room for a friendly face to sit next to and her eyes had settled on Noora. It seemed she had failed to find another person to join when she sat down all alone. When Noora saw Eva sit down, she felt an urge to get up and then join her. An urge to help another lonely girl. They both needed a friend in that moment. If they even were friends.

“Hei, or should I say h?” Noora said with a smile while she sat herself down next to Eva.

Eva smiled as well and laughed a bit at the joke. Noora thought she looked beautiful when she smiled. Her entire face had lit up when she had joined her at the desk in the front of the class. Maybe Noora hadn’t been reading into the Facebook messages after all. Maybe Eva liked her too. It didn’t seem possible. But maybe.

Then class began. The teacher was talking about some assignment they had had over break. Noora was trying her hardest to concentrate on the teacher with beautiful Eva Mohn sitting right next to her. A glance wouldn’t hurt, would it? She looked over to see Eva looking horrified at the news that they had had homework.

“Fuck, did we have homework?” Noora nodded sympathetically as Eva freaked out beside her, “I had a million other things, I fucking forgot. Fuck.”

Unfortunately, the teacher decided right then to call on Eva, “Eva, what is Pablo’s dream that he tells Marianela?” The teacher asked in Spanish. Eva was looking even more confused. Noora knew she had to help her. It was the right thing to do for her new friend. After all the teacher had used the wrong verb for her question. She had her perfect opportunity to show off her skills to the teacher.

Noora shyly lifted her hand, “Um, he wishes to be able to see, and no longer be blind. He wants to marry Marianela. And you wouldn’t say estar you should have used ser.” She said all in perfect Spanish.

“I’m sorry, you’re right Noora that would have been the correct verb, and that is the answer, but can we have Eva answer next time?” Noora nodded.

Eva looked even more confused after having just witnessed Noora’s perfect Spanish with a flawless accent and not a single gendering mistake or conjugation error. Eva was gaping at her. She looked like she was trying to catch flies. It was an advanced Spanish class. Noora was more confused that she seemed to be the only one who actually knew the language.

The teacher was distracted lecturing a student who had yet to buy the book they were reading in class. Now was her perfect chance to start a conversation with Eva. And she knew what to talk about.

“I lived in Madrid last year,” She said in a way hoping to clear up who she was, “That’s why I have no friends here in Norway. What’s your excuse?” She joked, hoping to come off as flirty, not rude. To her relief, Eva smiled, “Strong body odor.”

“Really?” Noora said through her own laughter.

“Nei, as you saw I’ve had some rough shit to deal with that doesn’t really attract friends. Last year a lot happened, but it’s still hard. People don’t want friends with baggage” Her beautiful face hardened and it seemed to be hiding something darker. It must have been rough for her if she had had a whole year of what Noora had witnessed at the party. Her guilt for what had happened to her made Noora’s heart ache. She shouldn’t feel bad for having had her experiences and having been bullied.

“Well, lucky for you I love friends with baggage. They’re more interesting.”

“You think so?” Eva’s face softened slightly and she was smiling a bit.

“Totally. Baggage carries stuff. Emotional baggage carries stories and cool friends. And you a cool friend. Anyone would be lucky to have you as their friend. You’re funny, smart, tough, and hot.” Noora quickly realized what she said.

She felt embarrassed. It was out there now. But Eva was smiling now. Maybe it would be ok. The teacher began talking again. Something about how she wanted her students to have more responsibility for their actions. Eva was rolling her eyes at what the teacher said. Noora tried not giggling with her. Their teacher was then going on explaining the chapter they had read. Eva was confused still and Noora was bored. She just watched Eva watch the teacher.

There were only three minutes left in class so the teacher let them begin their assignment. Noora wondered how the hour had gone by so fast, and when she’d see Eva again. She couldn’t wait until their next class. They had only looked at one another while the teacher was talking. Tapping her nails on the desk as if to start a conversation Noora stared off into space.

The silence between them broke when Eva cleared her throat, “So, how long do you think it will take for me to catch on the readings in the book? I have only read, like five pages.” Noora really felt like she could still sense awkwardness at that moment.

“Well, we’re only on like chapter eight. And the chapters are super short. You could probably catch up during lunch. I’ll help you with it. When do you have free?”

“I usually eat at noon. Is that okay?

Noora smiled flirtily at Eva, “I guess I’ll be seeing you at lunch,” Then the bell rang, the class was over.

Eva grabbed her things then quickly left to go to her next class. Noora was left alone. Wondering whether or not she’d actually get to see the other girl again that day.

Chapter Text

Noora was waiting anxiously for Eva to join her in the cafeteria. She had raced from her last class to her locker to the cafeteria in record time. The table had to be perfect. It all needed to be perfect. Not in the crowded loud areas or too close to the register and its foot traffic or the trash cans. She wanted Eva to see how much she cared for her.

While she waited somehow her fingertips had made their way into her mouth and she had begun to chew on her nails. An old habit she always seemed to resort to when she was nervous. Eva hadn’t arrived yet and it had felt like forever that she had been waiting there. She looked at the clock. It was only 12:08, she was overthinking this, it was just a study session. She would be fine.

But, all Noora wanted in that moment was to see Eva’s face. That perfect smile that lit up her face made her smile too. Fuck, she was already so needy with a girl she barely knew. She had known she was falling for Eva, fast, but she didn’t even know if she was her friend. Her not showing up for their meeting yet wasn’t a good sign and they hardly even knew each other. She tried not to worry. There were a million things Eva could be doing at that moment. She could be buying lunch somewhere outside of school or she could be talking with her teacher. Or she could be avoiding Noora because she didn’t like her.

Her anxiety was getting the best of her. Noora continued to bite her nails and worry about Eva’s absence. It didn’t seem to be easing her at all so she began pushing at her cuticles with her nails. Then she took some relaxing breaths and grabbed her laptop from her bag. She pulled up her paper she had for Norwegian class. It was about what she thought her strengths were and her mind was blank. She had no idea what to write for it. She just stared at the screen hoping her fingers would figure something out themselves.

There was a tapping at Noora’s table,“Hello? Is anyone in there?” It was Eva and her smile. Noora’s face brightened up when she saw her, “Sorry, I know I’m late, I was talking with my friend Jonas.”

“Wait, I thought you had no friends too?” Noora joked.

“Well, Jonas is less of my friend and more of an ex-boyfriend who I still hang out with sometimes.” Noora raised an eyebrow questioningly, “I guess that’s a friend isn’t it.” Eva said after an awkward pause.

“Nevermind that, let’s get down to business. Get out Spanish, I can help with that.” Eva groaned in response and Noora tried to stifle a giggle. Eva glared back at her, “Ok sorry, I guess Spanish is a touchy subject for you. You can start reading and if you have any questions you can ask me, ok?”

Eva seemed to like the idea as she took out her book that they had been reading in class. She opened up to a bookmarked page and begun to read while looking incredibly bored. She read for a bit as Noora tried to work on her Norwegian assignment, but she kept looking over at Eva and imagining what it would be like to kiss and touch her. She looked so soft, she wanted to touch and kiss every bit of her. Her hair looked magical and she wanted to run her fingers through it.

She wanted to talk with her, not just sit there and watch her read, bored. The way Eva was reading the book was beginning to bug her. She looked so uninterested, unlike herself who loved learning new languages. Unlike her, Eva seemed to be reading like it was a telephone book, not a novel.

She spoke up,“Ok stop what you’re doing right now,” She reached across the table and shook Eva’s arm and Eva herself from boredom, “You need to be engaged with the book. Or else you won’t take any of it in. First, we need to get you a pen,” Noora looked through her bag and found a blue ballpoint pen, “Here, take mine. If you don’t understand something write a question mark and look it up later on WordReference or Google Translate. If you think you understand something to write your rough interpretation. What is most important is you power through and keep reading it even when confused.”

Eva looked surprised Noora was so willing to help her. Then when she took the pen from Noora’s extended arm the small touch between them sent a shiver down Noora’s spine. It felt so nice. Her heart was fluttering now looking at her. She wanted to touch her again.

But they had to concentrate on Spanish. At least, for now, they had to concentrate on it. In that moment she was just trying to help Eva with her school work.

“So, I don’t understand, who is this guy and who is his son?” Eva asked when they began reading the book together, “Can you tell me what this means?” Asked Eva.

“Um, so, his son is blind and he doesn’t want him to be blind intellectually either,” She couldn’t concentrate on what she was saying with Eva staring at her helplessly, “And he’s really wealthy but he doesn’t believe wealth matters if his son is blind. His son’s friend is the girl from earlier” She explained to Eva.

“Ok, now I get it.” Eva seemed relieved.

“Really?”

“No,” Eva laughed.

“Do you want me to read it to you in Norsk? It’ll be easier than reading it in Spanish.”

“Sure, but we’ll need somewhere quieter. I can’t really concentrate in here. It’s too loud in here.”

Eva wanted them to be alone. She did realize she could just want the quiet, but what if she didn’t just want the quiet. It was a loud cafeteria, but it hadn’t been a problem when they had been talking. She wasn’t going to argue with being alone with a pretty girl.

Eva took her hand in hers, “I’ll show you the perfect place we can go. It will be just us,” Eva had led Noora down a stairwell and out a door. They were in the school yard. It was a cool day out, especially warm for October.

“Let’s go work on that bench.” Eva pointed to a simple bench near the fence outside the school, “Nobody else is out here, it will be quiet, I think. I mean I hope, I really need to raise my grade.”

“I think it’s a perfect spot.”

Eva smiled, “Ok, let’s get down to business.” Noora laughed in agreement at Eva’s attempt to mock her, she had no need to worry about Eva liking her.


 

“‘No, you don’t understand. You’re confused.’ ‘Yes I do, she can’t be as pretty as you are.’” Noora read aloud from the novel to an attentive Eva who was sitting right next to her. Her head was leaning on Noora’s shoulder. It was probably just because it was cold out she reminded herself when she had first laid it there. But it wasn’t cold. Her head was there because she wanted it to be there. She wanted her head to be right on her shoulder.

The two of them had read almost four chapters together. Their lunch hour would be over any second now. Noora didn’t want to leave. Eva was hanging onto every word she was saying. It was almost magical the way she had been looking at her for the past almost forty-five minutes. She wanted just the two of them on that bench, reading.

Noora finished the reading and Eva got up in order to pack her things. She was getting ready to leave due to their impending next class. Noora knew she needed to see Eva again soon and this was her chance, “This was nice. Are you busy tomorrow?” Noora inquired nervously.

“Tomorrow? Yeah, I’m free. I’ll meet you over there after my last class. It ends at like 15:00 unless my teacher is being an ass,” Eva pointed to a building exit, “Thanks for helping me Noora.” Eva put her bag around her shoulders and waited for Noora to leave. Noora had expected her to just leave when they were finished, but there she stood to wait for her to grab her things. It was kind of awkward. It was also really sweet.

Then, just as Noora had put her bag on her shoulders and began to walk beside Eva she turned to her. For the second time that period Noora’s heart was fluttering uncontrollably. Eva took a step toward Noora. They were really close. Noora wasn’t sure what to do, so she took a step forwards as she looked at the ground, feeling nervous. Noora looked up and then Eva tilted her head to the right. She was looking right at Noora’s lips. They were so close to one another. If only she just took another step forward they could be touching. Eva reached her hand out.

As she did she took another small step forward and brushed Noora’s hair out of her face, “You’re fucking beautiful,” Eva said with the perfect amount of sexy and adorableness in her voice.

Their tilted heads were so close to each other now. This couldn’t be real, Noora almost said aloud. She wanted to say it aloud, ask Eva if her blue eyes were really looking right at her mouth, yearning for a touch from her. Wanting to kiss her. Being so close to that inevitable kiss was almost painful. If she took another step and they would be kissing. So she took the step. And then they were.

Noora’s fingers were intertwined with Eva’s auburn hair. Eva’s hands were holding Noora’s cheeks like she was her whole world. In that moment it seemed like that could be true. Just the two of them standing next to that bench. Standing in the school yard the bell moments away from beginning to ring. For now all that mattered to Noora was kissing Eva and running one hand through her hair and the other on her back. Holding her body closer to her, a want to be close overwhelming her mind as she and Eva kissed, again and again.

Eva pulled back after a long kiss. Noora was scared, did she do something wrong? Almost instantly her fingers went from Eva’s body to her own mouth. Her awkward biting would ruin the moment, but she was so scared of what would happen next. The bell rang. Oh, she thought to herself embarrassed of her own nerves.

“Guess, I’ll be going,” Eva pointed out the obvious, “See you tomorrow?” She asked, obviously unsure of what to do. Wiping her mouth off with her sleeve, Eva cleaned off the marks Noora’s lipstick had left. Then she turned and walked away toward an entrance into the herds of people inside, and Noora was walking right alongside her

Chapter Text

Noora wanted to hold her hand, but just as she grabbed the other girl’s hand she pushed the door open into the crowded hallway. They walked side by side and Noora thought how nobody would have been able to guess the two of them had just been kissing. It just looked like two girls walking next to each other, not even talking, in a crowded hallway.

Noora didn’t dare speak to Eva in the hall, she didn’t know what to say to her and she didn’t want to make her upset. What do you say to someone after you kiss them, but then had to leave to go to class? She figured she should just walk beside her, but her next class room was in the opposite direction Eva seemed to be going in. Missing class to ditch with a pretty girl would be uncomfortably hard for her to explain to the headmaster. It would also be worth it.

Eva must have noticed the worry beginning to show on her face, “Hey, what’s wrong?” Eva broke their silence with the question as they walked further and further away from Noora’s next class.

“It’s nothing, really. But I was wondering, what are we doing?”

Eva looked nervous at the question, “I don’t think we need a label on us or anything, I’m not sure. Whatever you want I guess, we can just have fun.” Noora quickly realized that Eva had completely misunderstood her question as an invitation to be her girlfriend.

“No, like where are we going right now? My next class starts in like a minute on the other side of the building, but I’d be fine with ditching and then hanging out with you.”

Eva looked a little embarrassed, she had realized her mistake, “Oh shit. Yeah, go to class because I’m not in the mood for ditching today. I’ll see you tomorrow?” Noora nodded back at Eva and smiled. Then she awkwardly turned around and raced for her next class. She was praying that she wouldn’t get marked as late.

Luckily she arrived for her Norwegian class just in the nick of time. Only a second later the bell blared and her teacher walked in glaring at her with a disapproving look on his face. Which was probably because Noora was still shimmying to her spot. He was one of those teachers that had specifically said on the first day of class he wanted students in their seats exactly when the bell rang.

He was still staring at her as she sat down, “Miss Sӕtre,” He said sternly with his harsh glare, “You know how I feel about tardiness in my class.” Noora could feel every student in the room’s eyes on her. Two students behind her even giggled like toddlers. She would have turned and told them off, but she didn’t want the teacher calling her out again in front of everyone.

Class continued as normal as her teacher went on and on about the cultural importance of the book they were reading in class. The students behind her from before began to groan loudly and exaggeratedly.

“Jonas, Isak, calm down. The world doesn’t revolve around you. This class certainly doesn’t either so I would like you to keep quiet.”

Noora rolled her eyes at her teacher’s dramatics. She thought about what he said for a second, had he said Jonas? Like Eva’s ex-boyfriend Jonas? There were probably forty kids at Nissen named Jonas. It was a pretty common name, but it was going to bug her if she didn’t turn to look at him at all. Maybe she would recognize him from Eva’s Facebook. Probably not, he was an ex after all and a lot of people deleted all evidence of exes on social media. She realized she couldn’t recall the faces of the two boys behind her. It was going to annoy her if she didn’t at least take a glance behind her to get a look at their faces.

Very casually she turned her head to look at them behind her almost as if she was trying to look at the clock. There were two boys at the desk, they seemed familiar. The boy on the right was a small, pale, and blonde boy who was looking contently at the boy beside him who had bushy eyebrows and a full head of dark brown curls. He had a sense of cockiness oozing out of him like he knew that girls must think he was hot. She thought she had seen him when she had been on Facebook. One of them must be Eva’s ex, Jonas. Both the blonde and the one with the eyebrows looked familiar. It was like when she recognized an actor in a movie but couldn’t remember why. She quickly stopped her staring before they could notice it.

It didn’t make sense why she wanted to know which one he was, maybe because if she knew that she’d know just a tiny bit more about Eva. They had kissed, but she still felt like she hardly knew her. She wanted to know everything about her; her favorite color and her usual coffee order.

Her teacher stopped his ramblings to direct the class, “Ok, class, you get to work with the table behind you and to form groups of four or three to discuss the book. I want you to use this discussion for future in class essays.”

She smiled to herself and then readjusted her seat so she could face the boys behind her. The two boys were talking about going to a skatepark after school.

She interrupted them, “You know Eva Kviig Mohn, right?” Noora asked as casually as she possibly could when asking about someone’s ex.

The curly haired boy raised an eyebrow, probably a bit startled to have been interrupted by her, “Yeah, we used to date,” So he was Jonas. That must mean the boy next to him was Isak. He was smiling but was also obviously uncomfortable with the direction in which the conversation was going. He wasn’t making any eye contact with Noora either, he must be shy. Unlike Isak, Jonas was not looking too dazed by her question, “Why?” He asked Noora in return.

She felt awkward realizing how odd it was to ask, but she should at least answer them with something, “Oh nothing, it’s just that I just thought I recognized you from her Facebook page.” Noora answered Jonas with a half truth, “We have Spanish together,” At least that was 100% true.

The boys glanced at one another and Jonas not so subtly rolled his eyes as if to silently agree she was a weirdo-stalker girl. They continued with their conversation about the skate park pretending she wasn’t there. The moment where she was involved in the conversation had passed them. She tried to tell herself it was fine that she wouldn’t learn any more about the mysterious Eva Mohn. Jonas just didn’t want to talk about his ex. It still seemed odd most people would have had more to say about a girl they had dated and had even talked to that day.

Noora decided to join their conversation, “So, you guys skate, that’s pretty cool.” She tried to not show how she’d literally rather be talking about anything else, and she hoped she wasn’t coming off like she was an unhip mom trying to fit in with the kids. She was simply being polite.

Jonas spoke, it seemed like he did most of the talking between the two boys, “I do, but Isak doesn’t. He usually just watches me.” Isak looked embarrassed by that statement, “Even if you don’t skate it’s a pretty cool park. There’s a bunch of murals and some cool people there.”

He went on talking about the park and she was fairly interested and engaged with the conversation. The art sounded really interesting. She liked the idea of a totally free place to hang out. It seemed like Jonas did too. He was a lot smarter than she thought a skater boy type would be in a conversation. They talked for a while about the art of the park.

“I love street art.” She said, “I used to live in Madrid and it’s huge there. I loved it.”

“There’s a bunch of cool pieces on Jens Bjelkes. We should check it out sometime.” Jonas seemed so excited as he spoke about the art. She quickly realized what he was doing. Jonas was trying to ask her out. The guy whose ex she had just kissed. She was probably just overthinking things. Noora wanted to tell Jonas how she thought that sounded cool and she would love to hang out, but then her nerves got the best of her. She began overthinking again. Anxiety was gripping her by the waist and squeezing her until it hurt her, she didn’t know what to say.

“I don’t really want to go on a date sorry. I’m not looking for that right now.” This wasn’t true, but she was just looking for it with Eva. And I’m gay, she wanted to add but stopped herself.

Jonas looked crushed, “Oh, sorry. Or we could just hang out, not a date. I’m not really looking for a relationship right now either so it’s totally cool.” He was trying to save himself in the conversation and Isak was visibly cringing at his failing attempt to fix it.

Noora wanted to save herself from the conversation and leave. She glanced over at the clock and took a sigh of relief when she the class was nearly over. Only a minute left in the class, thankfully. She grabbed her bag and began shuffling things around to appear occupied to the boys who were now talking about something else.

As she left she overheard Isak and Jonas talking behind her, “I shouldn’t have tried flirting with another one of Eva Mohn’s friends. I should have learned after Ingrid. Fuck, Isak this fucking sucks. I thought last year’s shit was behind me.”

Isak was appearing to comfort his friend. She watched the two boys walk away and turn to go in another direction. Noora walked to her locker to get her books for her next class. She was left wondering what did Eva did to Jonas. What really happened last year? That girl was a mystery.

Chapter Text

Noora scrolled through Eva’s Facebook for probably the umpteenth time. There was a pot of pasta on the stove boiling and she occasionally was stirring but was more focused on her phone screen. The page was mostly pictures of Eva with Jonas and Isak. Some of the older ones were with a beautiful girl with light brown hair and sharp eyes. After probably her twentieth time looking at a picture of the girl, enamored, she realized the girl was tagged.

Her name was Ingrid. This time she was going to guess it wasn’t a coincidence. Who Jonas had been talking about in Norwegian class earlier that day had to be the same girl she saw now on Eva’s Facebook page. Checking out her profile was useless. Ingrid had the entire page on privacy settings.

“Oh shit,” Her pasta had begun to boil over as she had been staring at her phone, “Shit, shit, shit.” She grabbed the top off the pot nearly burning herself, throwing it to the ground creating a loud bang that rang throughout the room and the rest of the kollektiv.

Her roommates were then startled too by the noise. Linn peeked out from her doorway looking confused. She had a duvet swaddling her like she was a burrito filling, typical Linn attire.

She stepped into the kitchen still swaddled, “Are you okay, Noora? Did you get burned?” Linn spoke in her soft voice despite the contradicting worry on her face.

“I’m ok Linn,” Noora smiled at her, “Just got a little scared by the pot boiling over.” Linn nodded understanding, and went back to her room to go back to sleep presumably.

Noora wondered if Linn would be wanting some of the food. Linn was known to forget to eat so she had a duty to make sure she was fed. The pasta luckily wasn’t burnt. She turned off the stove and went to find the colander when her phone buzzed across the room. She grabbed it from beside the stove. It was a Facebook message, from Eva. They were communicating on facebook messenger for now. She should have asked for her number at lunch.

She wanted to open the message, but it was probably just going to disappoint her. At that moment her priority was her pasta because if she read that message and it was anything like what was running through her head it would be too real.

She hadn’t had anything since Clara, and that had ended so badly. Before that, she had dated an older guy, but it had been awful. When it happened she was only thirteen, and it was her first relationship. The way it had ended was what made Clara so special. Clara cared for her no matter what and made her feel safe. Maybe it wouldn’t be so scary with Eva either.

She went back to looking for the colander instead of staring at the notification on her phone not opening them. It wasn’t in any of the cabinets. Her roommates might know where it was, despite her being the one who cooked of the three of them. Linn barely left her room so she wouldn’t know. Eskild might be using it to clean his beads or something weird.

She knocked on his door, “Eskild,” She knew he was there because the music that was playing from inside, “Eskild, do you know where the colander is? I can’t find it.” She continued knocking, but he didn’t respond, “Eskild! I know you’re in there!”

He was probably just studying and listening to music while he worked. She decided it was worth opening the door and asking him to his face. It seemed safe to do for now.

The door opened to exactly the opposite of what she envisioned, “Ack!” She screamed, shocked, and she then slammed the door shut, “Sorry, sorry, sorry!” She yelled through the door holding her face in her hands, horrified.

The music had been playing to cover up the noise of what was going on inside. Some guy was standing beside her roommate’s bed and Eskild was blowing him. Great, now that image was burned into her head forever.

Eskild peeked his head out the door appearing casual, but also really amused by her reaction, “Geez Noora why are you so terrified of sex?” Noora rolled her eyes, she wasn’t terrified of sex she just didn’t expect to see her roommate having it on a Monday night to The Lion King soundtrack, “What’s up? Why did you feel the need to interrupt us?” He eyed at her in a way that seemed a bit dramatic for the situation.

“Well first off. I did not know there was going to be an ‘us’ that I was interrupting. Second I was looking for the colander. You wouldn’t know where it is would you?” Eskild looked confused, “It’s a strainer.” She clarified.

“Oh that thing yeah I put it on top of the fridge.”

“Why would you do that? I’m the only one who cooks and I can’t reach it there.” Noora was irritated at Eskild’s insistence on being an ass.

Eskild just smirked and closed the door going back to his own activities. Noora groaned to herself, annoyed as hell. It was lucky that she had bought a step stool when she moved into the flat because now she had to use it to reach the top of the fridge so she could finish making her meal.

She finally had drained the pasta and then added some sauce. It was done. Linn would probably be hungry and Noora knew she had to duty as her roommate to get her to eat something healthy. Just as she stood up to get Linn out of her bedroom to eat her phone buzzed. It was another Facebook message and just like before it was from Eva. This time she decided she’d woman up and just read the messages.

She swiped left on her phone and clicked in her passcode, it was loading, and that was nerve-racking to her worried mind. Would Eva tell her that kiss that meant so much to her was just a joke?

Eva: Was there any homework for Spanish today?

Then another message that she had sent just now,

Eva: lol I just saw that there’s a quiz tomorrow. FML.

Noora took a breath that she’d been holding in since she opened up her phone. They had class together and it seemed Noora was the only person Eva knew, it was just that simple. But then she thought of that kiss and how good it felt. There was definitely something more to the two of them.

Her fingers began typing a reply to Eva’s messages before her brain had caught up with what she was doing.

Noora: There’s also homework besides the quiz. If you need any help on it just text me. My number is 1-669-221-6251

There, she said it. She had given Eva her number. A few moments later an unknown number texted her. She knew it must be from Eva and she smiled to herself when she read it.

Eva: Hey, it’s Eva. Were you serious about hanging out together tomorrow? I’m still down if you are.

Noora was so giddy as she ate the rest of her pasta she forgot to ask Linn if she wanted any of it. A girl she liked had kissed her today and she wanted to hang out again. Oslo was looking better to her every second.

Chapter Text

“Linn? I’m leaving for class, but there’s some food in the fridge if you want some.” Noora shouted to her roommate as she quickly gathered her things for school in her daily morning rush.

Noora had gone to sleep after she ate and had forgotten to tell Linn there was food for her to eat. She hoped Linn had eaten something, but she didn’t have time to worry about her. Lipstick had to be applied, and then she had to find her textbooks and her bookbag. Then there was her bus to catch and a class to go to and then a girl to kiss afterward, well maybe she would kiss her afterward. Who knew?

Noora smiled at the memory of how she and Eva had so boldly kissed the day before in the courtyard. The smile stayed as she raced down her building’s stairs to the bus stop. It even stayed as a grumpy short woman in a black hijab pushed her from her standing spot to get a seat on the bus. Be kind always, she thought as her smile stayed with her, even though some fellow passengers grabbed their bags a little tighter as she passed them. Everyone is going through something you know nothing about, even this gothy girl on the bus.

Noora stared out the window feeling gay as the bus took her across Oslo towards Nissen School. It wasn’t particularly scenic but it also wasn’t too long and she enjoyed getting to see the city every morning.

The girl pushed her again to get off the bus. It seemed the mysterious looking girl needed to get into Nissen as soon as possible. On the contrary, Noora practically danced into the courtyard joyfully knowing she’d see Eva any second. Students were racing in the yard talking and laughing, then Noora was hit with the loneliness of where she was right then. Eva was just one person, but maybe that was enough for her. Maybe it wasn’t enough.

“Hey, chica, Noora heard a familiar voice from behind her.

“Hey, maybe you aren’t so bad at Spanish after all!” Noora replied to a delightful Eva.

“That was Spanish? I thought I was speaking in Arabic!” Eva joked back with her and it felt flirtatious.

“Oh, well I guess you should just drop out of Nissen then. I read people with low GPAs in high school are more likely to become millionaires.”

“Really!” Eva looked genuinely interested, “That sounds perfect. I’ll just drop out then I wait for the millions to roll into my bank account.”

“I’m not sure that’s how it works.” Noora continued joking as the two of them laughed and walked into school side by side.

It would be seemingly platonic to an outside viewer, but every time Noora’s shoulder brushed Eva’s she felt the butterflies in her stomach flutter even more. She blinked trying to keep herself in the moment, she was still just in a hallway at school, not in a cheesy romance novel where people suddenly made out in front of everyone in the most inconvenient places. Hartvig Nissen School would be one of those inconvenient places.

“I’m pretty sure it is, Noora.” Eva said with her adorable smile shining on her face, “I think I’ll just drop out my first semester of my first year and then become the next Mark Zuckerberg. Anyways, I gotta run. I have biology upstairs.”

“See you later?”

“Yeah,” Eva smirked.

Noora walked off to the side of the hall after Eva had left her behind on the second floor for her class. She took out her phone and mindlessly scrolled for a minute as the people continued to run through the halls the fear of fucking up their 10% in their eyes as they sped to their classes. It made her laugh to see them as scared as they were over such a tiny thing, but she wasn’t one to judge since she was acting like she was 12 years old again.

She and Eva weren’t anything. Labels had been mentioned yesterday then swept under the rug. It hadn’t even been 24 hours since they had kissed and Noora was almost imagining their wedding plans already. It felt fast but also not fast enough for her. She would see Eva after school. They could talk more than, or maybe they could make out for an hour or so somewhere. That’d be really great too.


 

Noora wandered the building until she found herself in the library. It was a perfect place for her to work on her Norweigan paper with no distractions. The place was only filled with fellow hardworking students at this time of year. She sat herself down in the center of the library and worked on the paper.

“Mind if I sit here?” She looked up to see the small girl who had pushed her on the bus that morning pulling out a seat at her table.

After smiling and nodding her O.K. she continued typing on her laptop as the girl got herself settled next to her. She began writing out words from a German textbook in a black notebook that said, “Black is my happy color.” Noora wanted to be friendly. After all, the girl was right next to her, and she only had three friends in Oslo if she counted her roommates.

“I saw you on the bus this morning. What was the rush?” Noora joked hoping to strike up a friendly conversation with the stranger next to her.

The other girl rolled her eyes in response, “Is school not a good enough reason to move quickly? I have German first period and I really need to do well in it if I hope to take over the world someday.”

Noora nodded quickly not sure if she should laugh at the other girl’s comments. It had to be a joke, right, or was she just crazy? Fy faen, she thought to herself, it was obviously a joke.

“Haha, yeah.” She laughed awkwardly hoping to not show it through her forced smile, “Girls run the world, right?”

The girl smiled quickly with her dark black lips, looking like she was hating this conversation more and more as the seconds passed, “Totally.”

“I’m Noora by the way.”

“I’m Sana. This is great, now I’m going to have to go back to my German homework.” Sana went back to concentrating on her work.

Noora tried doing her school work, but just like she had done for the past week she ended up on Eva’s facebook page again. She had practically memorized the feed but was still looking through it like she hadn’t seen it ever before. It was unlikely she had missed even a tiny detail. But then she saw something weird when she looked a little closer at the picture of Eva and Ingrid. In it the two girls were at a party and looked a bit tipsy, Ingrid had some seriously smudged lipstick. Which wasn’t odd for a usual house party with hookups galore, but the caption read, “Just me and my girls tonight ;)." Noora gasped with realization, Sana threw her a confused look, but they then both went back to their respective activities.

Had Ingrid and Eva dated? Was that what Jonas and Isak had been talking about yesterday? Had Eva cheated on Ingrid? Noora scrolled through Eva’s picture from the same time to see if she was on the right track. There were plenty of photos of Eva and Ingrid, but none looked as flirty as the one from the party. It could have just been a joke. Especially since there just a week before that picture, there were countless pictures of Eva and Jonas snuggled up on a dirty couch kissing posted as well.

What happened last year with the Grefsen kids? Eva, Jonas, Ingrid, and even the shy Isak kid seemed to have a lot of drama going on from last year. For the first time all year, Noora was glad she wasn’t from Oslo.

Noora tried to focus on her classes the rest of the day, but the fear that the girl she was falling for was a cheater lurked in the back of her mind. It was an innocent photo. Doesn’t mean anything. Her attempts to comfort herself only raised her anxiety levels.


 

It was Noora’s lunch period. Eva had told her during Spanish class that she really needed to talk with someone so she couldn’t meet up with her. Noora had wanted to stay with her, but she had a schoolwork to focus on, and she needed no distractions from it. Her usual diligence towards schoolwork was thrown out the window when she thought or was with Eva. It was disappointing to be alone. Eating and studying alone was preferable if she was at least getting something done, but she still felt totally alone.

She saw two girls sitting together laughing at their own table. She thought she had seen them at the revue party where she had seen Eva. One of the girls, a pale blonde, looked really familiar. She thought she had seen her in the bathroom crying. She thought that maybe other girl had been with her as well. The other girl was a chubby brunette wearing a bright pink bomber jacket.

Noora took a deep breath and walked up to the pair, “Cool jacket!” She said a bit too perky.

“Thanks,” She smiled back at Noora but went back to her conversation.

Noora cursed her awkwardness. She was usually quite confident, but looking at Eva’s page earlier had fed her nerves and now she was feeling like she couldn’t talk to anyone.

Once the bell rang she felt relieved, only to remember she had to sit next to Jonas for the next hour. This day was never going to end. She raced to her classroom, hoping that if she got to class early enough Jonas and Isak wouldn't notice her. Surprisingly the pothead skater dudes were actually quite punctual and were already in their seats talking when she arrived a few minutes early.

As she sat down she heard them giggling behind her. The two boys whispered behind her like Noora was the hottest scuttlebutt of Oslo. Her curiosity outweighed her anxiety. She had to know what was going on, and why her existence seemed funny to the two boys.

She felt her confidence grow a bit, “Hey, what are you two laughing about?” Noora asked knowing exactly what they were fucking laughing about.

Jonas rolled his eyes, and Isak blushed. Not the reaction she had hoped for. Noora always tried for a tone that made grown men scared and teenage boys shit themselves.

“A meme,” Jonas said.

Jonas showed his phone screen to Noora. It was a picture of Khloe and Kim Kardashian with the caption, “Throwback to when Kim looked like Jafar from Aladdin.”

Now it was Noora’s turn to roll her eyes at the slightly sexist meme. She had no need to worry about any boy or their dumb opinions. They were harmless.

“Also how you totally rejected Jonas's ass yesterday,” Isak said then gave Jonas a high five only a bro could give.

“Oh yeah sorry, I’m just really busy, and I can’t hang out anytime soon. My roommates are like never home so I have a bunch to do at my flat. ” Noora tried to defend herself, hopelessly.

“Don’t worry I’m used to it,” Jonas said with an adorable smile that Isak seemed to love a little too much.

Isak whispered something to Jonas who laughed heartily at whatever the blond had said to him. This felt more awkward than her hour alone in the cafeteria. The class started and she didn’t talk to them for the rest of the period. She liked it better that way.

Class ended with nothing else notable happening. Her last class was canceled because the teacher had a last minute meeting. This only gave Noora more time to worry about things she didn’t understand fully. She didn’t go to the library, already knowing she wouldn’t get work done before she met up with Eva later. Instead, she wandered the campus. It was a little brisk, but still, sunny October day and she wanted to soak in the sun before she said goodbye to it over the next few months.

While wandering the campus aimlessly she thought she saw a familiar backpack alongside a familiar head of red hair. She squinted, it was Eva. In her worried state, she had forgotten to ask Eva if she was free this period. It was so obvious now that she saw her standing there that she needed to talk. If she was to find anything out about last year she had to be direct.

Noora snuck up to Eva. She was standing next to a poster that read, “Have you got a drug problem?” Noora giggled at the ridiculous assumption that the average teen was snorting pounds of cocaine a week.

“H, as in ‘Have you got a drug problem?’” Noora read as she bumped into Eva side, “Or H as in, how do you feel about going on a date with me on Friday?”

Eva giggled at Noora’s assertive flirting, “H as in hell yeah, Noora.”

She grabbed Noora by the waist and held her just a bit closer to her. Noora suddenly couldn’t remember why she ever would have been upset with the girl as she leaned into the kiss. Surrendering herself to Eva’s kisses came easy.  The warmth made Noora want to kiss her deeper and feel all of her. Eva held her for a moment longer. The kiss ended but they still stood, next to a poster with cocaine, holding the other, their cheeks touching as they remained completely still.

“Hey, Eva! How do you feel about- Oh God oh my God I’m so sorry, Eva. Oh my god, fuck.” They broke their embrace to see who was so shocked to see two girls kissing.

It was that pale blonde Noora had seen in the cafeteria earlier. She was with the brunette from earlier, and… Sana? Eva’s face gave her no explanation for what was going on at the moment.

“Well, Eva you didn’t tell me that you wanted your friend to be in the bus group with us too. I guess the more the merrier,” She reached her hand out to Noora’s, “I’m Vilde Hellerud and this is Chris Berg,” She said pointing to the other girl.

“I’m Noora.”

“Who am I? Chopped Liver?” Sana asked the blonde with her arms crossed looking pissed as hell.

“Um, well you see Chris also didn’t tell me she was bringing her friend,” Vilde explained, nervously.

Sana rolled her eyes, “Sure, blondie.”

“How do you even know Chris?”

“Ramadan at the mosque.” Sana snarked to a very shocked Vilde.

“She’s kidding, um we know each other from German class.” Chris looked trapped.

“So we’re settled then, Eva will host at her house on Friday and all four of us will be there.” Vilde seemed very sure of herself for someone planning a russ bus in her first year.

“Wait, what? You didn’t think to ask me if I’m even free on Friday let alone if I can host.” Eva seemed exacerbated and Noora didn’t blame her considering how aggressive Vilde was being at the moment.

“And if you’re grouping me in with that four I’m out. I’m only doing this if you let Sana join,” Noora saw Sana give her a small smile as she defended her, “Otherwise, I’m out.”

Vilde was perplexed, “Can Muslims even participate in russ?”

“No, we get stoned to death if we do.” Sana deadpanned.

“Really?”

“No, you idiot.”

Vilde looked uncomfortable, Sana looked proud, Chris looked confused, and Eva was smiling. Nowhere in her mind was the question she had come over to ask. Now she was in a russ bus with three girls she had just met. What had Eva gotten Noora into?

Chapter Text

It was Friday and Noora and Eva had been hanging out in Eva’s room all afternoon. They had met up after her last class and had decided to chill before the meeting. Music was playing on Eva’s laptop and they were trying to avoid talking about anything too real while they tried to predict what Vilde, Chris, and Sana were expecting from the meeting.

“Are you sure they will even come over? It didn’t seem that concrete of a plan. I think I misunderstood what they said” Eva worried aloud as she paced in her basement room.

“Calm down Eva. You and Sana facebook messaged one another. This isn't an evil ruse.” Noora tried to calm down the other girl as they got ready before their new friends came over for the russ meeting.

“But what if they’re trying to trick me?”

“If they are I’ll beat them up for you. Now stop worrying about it so I can kiss you, you idiot”

Noora then leaned into Eva’s smile and with her arms wrapped around her shoulders she pulled her in for a kiss. Noora could feel Eva’s giggles within the kiss, and she closed her eyes as she leaned into the kiss more letting herself be fully consumed by its comfort. Eva’s hands held her and pulled them closer as she grabbed her ass playfully.

Her worries about Eva’s past had haunted her thoughts all week. Now they were gone, if only for a single moment. She breathed in feeling like they were both at ease in the other girl’s arms.

“When did they say they were coming over?” Eva asked Noora as they let go of their intimate embrace and Eva sat down on her bed, where Noora joined her.

“Uh,” Noora mumbled as she grabbed her phone from her back pocket where Eva’s hand had just been, “Sana had texted me she wanted to come over to plan at seventeen, but Vilde wanted to come by at nineteen because she needed to get ready for some reason. It’s almost eighteen now, so I think they’ll be coming by any second now.” Noora had realized within the past few days no matter the country or the language group chats didn’t end up working very well for planning anything.

“That doesn’t sound right.”

“Yeah, why would Vilde want to get ready? We’re just hanging out. It’s chill.” Noora said despite having spent nearly an hour picking the perfect outfit to wear while she hung out with Eva. The result had been a blue vertically striped blouse and some plain black leggings, “How about I call Sana and then you call Vilde? Just, so we can be sure of what is going on.”

Eva laughed, “What would I do without you?” She said as she grabbed Noora by the waist and then kissed her cheek.

“Die probably.” Noora deadpanned while she leaned into Eva’s kisses, smiling.

Eva was running her fingers through Noora’s short hair. Not even kissing. The two just sat on the bed staring into the other’s eyes. Noora looked deeper into Eva’s eyes. They were a beautiful deep swirl of caramel. Or maybe like the color of a sweet chocolate. Anything that had to do with candy that was as sweet as she was sounded right to describe the eyes she was looking into.

“I don’t know about that,” Eva smirked, “But I would be a bit more stressed. I think you calm me down. You make me feel at home” Eva smiled.

They just sat there still, on the end of the bed, for a few more moments. Then, Noora, knowing she wanted more pulled Eva in a swift movement down. The pair was now laying down on the bed facing the other, breaking the silence with nervous laughter from the implications that the situation was creating between them.

Noora was unsure what she should do now. The knowledge of the three girls coming by within the hour was creating even more anxiety. The stillness was unbearable. Why was kissing so complicated?

Eva broke the air and slowly reached to touch Noora’s hair and brush it out of her eyes. Her hand moved down Noora’s face and held it like she was the most precious thing in the world. The softness felt so good to Noora who was staring into Eva’s eyes like they were the prettiest thing ever to exist. In that moment both may have been true because in that moment it was just them.

Eva tilted her head, and Noora took the cue. Their heads awkwardly inched toward each other until their lips locked. Even though they had kissed only minutes before Noora thought it felt even more amazing. It felt more desperate as Eva went from holding Noora’s face in her palm to tracing her waistband with her fingertips. Noora closed her eyes, almost too overwhelmed by the kiss as it deepened and got more intense.

Eva’s hands inched around her waist. Her own ran through the other’s hair. Total serenity as they kissed and explored the other with an equal passion that made all love songs feel ashamed for their lack of emotion. Eva began to pull down Noora’s leggings wanting more, so Noora got it over with and pulled them further until she was just in her underwear and they continued kissing completely forgetting about the calls that they wanted to make.

Taking lead Noora pulled herself on top of Eva and straddled her with her bare legs. Noora stretched her back out as she stayed straddling Eva, who was trying to readjust but instead was just holding Noora’s butt. Perhaps too late, Noora worried she may be pushing Eva too far. Eva calmed her fear by sitting up to kiss and allowing her to wrap her legs around her waist.

Then the moment broke as Eva’s phone rang. Noora, startled, fell of the Eva, and then the bed. Eva grabbed the phone and spoke to whoever it was, while Noora put her pants back on.

After speaking for a bit Eva turned the phone away from her mouth, “It’s Vilde. She says she and Chris have been at my door ringing it for hours.” Eva rolled her eyes and then walked upstairs to greet Vilde and Chris.

Noora laughed to herself at the strangeness of putting her pants back on after somewhat secretly hooking up with a girl and then hanging out with two other girls to plan for a russ that wouldn’t happen for another two years.


 

“I brought cupcakes for everyone!” Vilde said in her trademark perky voice as she ran into the room following Eva down the stairs.

“I brought myself, which is better than cupcakes,” An even more excited Chris said, following Vilde with a bottle of beer in her hand. She then plopped herself down on the end of the green couch.

Noora sat down next to Chris on the couch, “Hey you two. Do you know if Sana is still coming? Eva said she had messaged her, but we’re still not sure.” She worried the girl was being left out and she didn’t want to participate in any of that bull shit.

“Didn’t I tell you? Oh shit,” Chris shouted, appearing shocked, “Sana told me she had a thing at her mosque tonight, but she’s still coming. It’s like 18:15 now, and she said she’ll get here at like 18:45 or something so it won’t be too long.”

“She really should be more committed to this if she’s going to be taking it as seriously as we are taking it,” Vilde mumbled to Chris, but still loud enough for Noora to hear.

Noora cleared her throat, “Oh, well that’s fine, we can wait a few more minutes for her to come over. I think she’ll be a great part of russ, right?”

“Sure,” Vilde chimed in, then mumbled, “Half an hour isn’t ‘a few minutes’ though.”

Noora continued, ignoring Vilde’s comment, “The more the merrier. Four isn’t nearly enough for a real russ, five is the golden number.”

“Those cupcakes look so good Vilde,” Eva said, sensing the obvious tension, “And we could watch some TV or something to kill time while we wait for Sana.”

Noora loved how Eva always knew what to do. She always seemed anxious about what to do, but she was just so damn perfect to Noora. Even now, in a dark basement bedroom with two other girls talking, Noora couldn’t help looking at her. Apparently, Eva couldn’t help herself either and she snuggled herself up next to Noora on the couch despite there being another empty chair available.

Eva leaned forward in order to see, “Hey do you got any beer still Chris?” Eva eyed the other girl’s drink.

“Of course I do,” Chris opened her fluorescent windbreak to show a stash of three beers, “I wasn’t sure if you said your parents were home so I snuck ‘em in.”

“Nice,” Eva replied grabbing two of the beers from her hands, “Yeah my mom’s on a business trip. My parents are divorced and my dad still lives in Bergen. So… no parents here.”

Chris glanced over at Vilde as if to signal something unknown to the rest of the group. Vilde’s face showed signs of recognition and she also didn’t look happy at the attention Chris was giving her. She then quickly tried to change the subject back to russ.

“So. Um, I think the most pressing issue we have right now is fundraising for our bus, so all the amenities will come into this later. If we save up a little I think we’ll definitely be able to get a van by next year, but I want us to aim higher. If we want to win any awards we must get a bus, I think. Buses are better because they’re bigger and bigger is better as they say.” Vilde laughed awkwardly but continued to ramble.

Her anxiety was causing her to fidget and shift her position, still standing in front of the couch. Noora was praying for her speech to be over as it was making her anxious just watching.

“What is she talking about? We don’t even have a name, why would we want a bus?” Eva whispered into Noora’s ear, causing her to get goosebumps from the intimacy.

While Eva and Noora were totally lost on what Vilde was talking about Chris seemed very intrigued. She was nodding intently at every point Vilde seemed to be making in her speech. Noora didn’t know whether to watch Vilde and try to understand what she was saying or if she should just give up and watch Chris’s contagious excitement with her clapping and gigantic smiles.

Vilde continued on, not noticing how two-thirds of the room was lost, “So I think Sana could be helpful since we need more people, but also I don’t because if we really want a sponsor it might not be okay because she is Muslim and they have rules.”

Noora wanted to say what Vilde was saying was offensive, but it seemed like she was just too stupid to know what she was saying was wrong. It was still important for her to educate. Vilde shouldn’t keep walking around with her racist misconceptions.

“Nei Vilde. I don’t think you can decide what Sana will or won’t do in russ. She chose to do it with us, and she can choose what she does and does not want to do.”

“Uh, you guys.” Chris quietly spoke up but was ignored by the rising tension in the room.

“Well, Noora Muslims can’t do stuff or else it breaks their laws.”

“Sana can decide. We should wait for her to make a decision before we bar her simply because of her religion.” She wished Vilde could  understand this was fucked up, “That’s discrimination.”

“Guys,” Chris spoke up a little louder this time but was still ignored even as she slipped out of the room.

“But she can’t drink alcohol, so why would she want to do russ?” Vilde spat back.

I don’t drink alcohol Vilde. Are you going to not let me join our bus? Or just the brown people who are sober?” Noora retorted angrily.

“You know what I mean. She’s probably going to judge us for drinking and hooking up. Even though russ is all about unity and friendship.”

“It’s just about celebrating the end of your education, Vilde ,” Noora shouted even louder.

A door slammed “Um, you guys,” Chris said in her usual loud voice.

“What!” Both Vilde and Noora screamed as they turned to see Chris standing at the bedroom door, with Sana by her side, “Oh.”

Then Sana gave a little wave, "Halla," she didn't look as uncomfortable as Noora thought someone walking into a room that was arguing about them would look.


 

Vilde caught Sana up on what she had explained to the rest of the girls in the meeting earlier. Noora and Eva finally listened and realized she was talking about selling toilet paper to raise money for the bus. Noora also found out Vilde had gotten kicked off another bus already. Chris had been with her the entire time and Eva met her at the same party she had first spoken to her. That had been the night she had gotten kicked off the other bus.

It all seemed very dramatic and Noora wasn’t sure if she still wanted to be involved. This russ meeting was making her realize how she indecisive. She was usually quite confident, but so much was going on in the moment.

“We all need to work together to earn the rest of the 50 thousand kroner for the rest of the account.” Vilde thoughtfully explained.

“I think you are wasting time selling the toilet paper,” Sana said very matter of factly.

“It’s important to have money.”

“It’s also important to not be a bus full of losers.”

Vilde gasped, “I’m not a loser.”

Chris and Sana laughed at Vilde, “You have kicked off another bus.” Sana said, clearly not giving a fuck.

Vilde mumbled to herself, “Well not exactly. Anyways, you’re on our bus. Are you a loser too?”

“Ja, obviously.” Sana said with a roll of her eyes, “Look at me. I’m a Muslim girl in a godless country. I’m the biggest loser of them all.”

The girls were silent. Sana seemed to be taking the reins of the group and there was nothing Vilde or any of them could do about it. Vilde had been knocked down by the new head bitch. She was power hungry, bossy, and confident. Noora loved it.

“But if even you are a loser what do you expect us to do?” Vilde said, “We can’t magically become cool.”

“But you see that’s where you’re wrong. Does anyone know any 97’s?” Sana looked around the room at blank stares, “Never mind this will be harder than I thought. You need to get 97’s and hook up with them and then we can go to their parties and get what we really need.”

“Boys?” A confused Chris asked.

Sana laughed, “Nei. Cred. We need to be cool and whether that’s becoming the cool gay girl who hooks up with much cooler straights girls or the straight girl who hooks up with secretly gay guys, I couldn't care less.”

“But we’re all straight, so that doesn’t matter,” Vilde said with the naiveness of a baby.

Sana laughed again,“Obviously not, those two haven’t been able to keep their hands off each other this whole time, and your little girlfriend isn't great at hiding it either.”

Vilde looked uncomfortable at the accusation, “Chris isn’t my girlfriend.” She said shakily.

“Oh well, anyways you two,” She pointed at Noora and Eva, beside her, “Whatever is happening here needs to end.”

Noora was shocked, “I’m not just going to break up with Eva because of a stupid russ.” She exclaimed defensively.

“Well, you two are the prettiest ones here so...”

“I’m not selling my body for cred,” Noora said, still flabbergasted.

“Why? This is your culture. Stuff like this happens every day in Norway. If you’re going to live in this country you might as well play along with the rules.”

“You speak really maturely,” Chris said, looking stunned while nibbling on one of the cupcakes Vilde brought.

“Takk,” Sana said, grateful to have an adoring audience.

“Why do we have to do this? What are you bring to the table?” Vilde asked.

“I brought you this perfect plan. Without me, you would have been a disaster. My work here has already exceeded all of yours. I’ve organized this entire group.” Sana responded coolly.

“I’m not breaking up with her, Sana,” Eva said. Noora realized that if the possibility of a break up was on the table then they were an official couple. Her heart leaped at the idea of being Eva’s girlfriend.

“Fine, but it’s our loss.” There was an awkward moment as the room was silent besides the sound of Chris’s chewing and Noora and Eva glanced at the other in the silence, unsure of what just happened, “Well, I think that went well.” Sana said with a bright smile.

Chapter Text

Noora stared at the blank ceiling begging for sleep to come as she laid in her bed. She didn’t know why she was so anxious. It all seemed good, but maybe Noora and Eva could possibly be too good. She now worried that this perfect little moment they had created could tumble down any second. They had seemed too easy.

Growing up with shrinks for parents she had always been told relationships take work, but she had just fallen into Eva. One kiss at lunch on Monday, a few quick makeout sessions in between, and then by Friday Eva was telling people they were in a relationship. Now it was Saturday and she thought she was falling in love.

What kind of relationship they had wasn’t quite clear to Noora. Less than a week seemed too early to name it. Daydreaming about Eva and herself had begun to eclipse her worries about what the whispers she heard when she was with Eva and what would happen when Eskild found out about them. Jonas and Isak’s giggles about her new friend hadn’t stopped either.


 

On Wednesday she heard Jonas saying something about how Eva wouldn’t stop calling him, but he stopped talking when he noticed her. Something weird was going on between the two of them. Noora would have pried more if she hadn’t just spent her lunch hour making out with Eva in a maintenance closet. She didn’t want to ruin her good mood.

The week had continued like that. Jonas and Isak would be talking about something and stopped when she turned around or came in the room. It felt like a taunt. They knew more about Eva than she did and they just wanted to tantalize her, only letting her hear little bits of the other girl’s life. Or maybe they weren’t being cruel? Noora couldn’t decide and the impossibility of knowing was too much.

The ceiling-staring wasn’t doing much to bore her to sleep, but the tears welling in her eyes made her want to fall asleep until it was all okay. It wasn’t okay that she was scared to tell her roommates that she was with someone new. It wasn’t okay that she felt uncomfortable in class because of two annoying boys. It wasn’t okay she felt like she didn’t really know the girl laying next to her in bed. It wasn’t okay.

At just that moment Eva rolled over and nuzzled her head into Noora who gladly accepted and wrapped her arms around her. Having her in her arms just felt right. Her head was rested in the nook of her armpit and Noora didn’t even have to move her head to smell Eva’s hair. Nobody could hurt her, or judge her as they laid on her bed peacefully with Noora running her hands through Eva’s hair.

Eskild didn’t even suspect anything and he always thought stuff was more than it seemed. The day before he had even given her a saucy eyebrow raise after she had come home from Eva’s around midnight. He hadn’t seen her all day, but that didn’t mean she was having sex. She had just been hanging out with Eva and the other girls in their new russ group.

The night before she had left Eva’s around eleven along with Chris and Vilde. Sana had gone home a bit earlier saying she had family stuff. The three of them had tried to get home with the complicated bus system and a tipsy Vilde. Chris had also drank a bit, but, as Noora learned, she could actually handle her alcohol. Noora admired how Chris took care of her fumbling drunk friend. The pair had gotten off together and gone up to Vilde’s apartment so that Chris could make sure her friend was safe. She would like to think she’d do the same, but it was still comforting to know the world was kind.

The other girls were really nice. Sana was so smart, her morals seemed a little shaky, but her ability to know exactly what she wanted was admirable. Vilde irritated her whenever she talked about Sana. It all probably came from a place of fear of the unknown and how having a muslim girl in the group would change their perception. Some girls really don’t care what other people think of them, Vilde wasn’t one of them. Chris definitely was.

When Noora woke up on Saturday she had begun to plan a way to calmly tell Eskild about her new relationship. He wasn’t around the flat, and once he got back Eva had already texted her asking if she was busy. She didn’t have enough space in her brain to worry about both, so she just ran out without an explanation for Eskild. It was better that way.

Noora and Eva had then spent the day wandering around Oslo. Just hanging out, and goofing around. It was amazing. They skated at the Spikersuppa rink and then gotten a bite at a nearby Kaffebrenneriet. Eva had teased her for acting like a total tourist in the park, as if she also wasn’t a native Oslovian, just because she took pictures. It was a long day with short kisses and no worries about russ or labels or exes.

Eva had gotten tired and the two of them had decided it was best if Eva spent the night at Noora’s place instead of going all the way back to her empty house. Eskild didn’t even blink at Eva wearing Noora’s shirt as a nightgown when he saw her in the kitchen. He always assumed girls were different and did weird things like that. In reality, they were just gay, and when you’re gay you wear another girl’s t-shirt. The two of them were cute like that.

Noora had been worried Eva would want to do more than just kiss. She was even about to offer the couch when the other girl got under her covers. Noora had stood in the doorway, totally unsure of what to do in this situation.

Luckily Eva, sitting up in the bed, actually spoke up, “It won’t be weird I promise. Just get in your bed.” She had laughed like this was the most normal thing in the world.

“Only if you don’t peek when I change into my pajamas.” Noora had said with a fake laugh trying to hide her nervousness.

Eva had simply smirked, “I can’t promise anything,” until she noticed how worried Noora actually was, “but I’ll try.”

Eva had gone on her phone as Noora quickly changed out of her jeans and into some sweatpants. It would still be awkward if Eva was just wearing the shirt she’d given her and they were in bed together. Hopefully, she understood nothing more was happening tonight. Was it weird to be nervous to change in front of a girl who had grabbed her nearly naked ass?

Noora had never really understood what a normal relationship would look like for her. When she was little her parents had two different beds and it took her until a sleepover in third grade to find out that was weird. Maybe her and Eva together, like this, awkwardly was her little tiny bit of normal.

“Now get in here!” Eva had nearly shouted to the other girl.

Noora groaned, as she pulled the duvet to get in the bed, but gave into Eva as they began to kiss under the covers. She ran her hands through Eva’s hair, and Eva held Noora’s face in her hands as she kissed her back.

“Fuck. You’re so beautiful,” Eva said in her soft, sleepy voice that Noora adored.

The way Eva told her she was beautiful felt like she was being crowned as queen of Norway. It made anything a man had ever told her sound like absolute trash because that’s what those words had been to her.

Eva’s sleepiness had gotten harder to hide and she drifted off and to Noora’s delight, she still was cuddling her as she slept. She still got to hold her close to herself. Noora was afraid to move as the other girl laid asleep in her arms.

Now, she was here, laying with Eva and staring above hoping she could fall asleep too, but she just couldn’t, too much was on her mind. She felt tense with anxiety and needed to breathe. Being in this bed staring at the wall wouldn’t help her sleep it would just cause her to stress. Trying not to wake Eva she slowly got out of bed to get a glass of water. She moved the other girl’s head off her hoping she wouldn’t wake her and then tiptoed out of her room.

She must not have been quite enough because Eva woke up, “Where are you going, babe?” Eva said a little less groggy then Noora expected, “If you’re trying to ditch me you’re doing it wrong. This is your apartment.”

“No, I’m just getting some water. Go back to sleep. It’s fine.” Noora said more to herself than Eva.

“Are you leaving me to sleep on the couch? Eskild won’t think we’re together if we sleep in the same bed. It will be ok.”

The comment took the air out of Noora’s lungs, “That’s not it I swear. I don’t think Eskild will care we’re in the same bed anyway.”

“Exactly, so then why do you care what he thinks of us dating?”

That question had been stuck in the air between them since Eva had met Eskild. Before they went up into her apartment Noora had told Eva that her roommates didn’t know she liked girls and to keep things Disney between them. Eva had understood until she met Eskild. She had given Noora some seriously confused looks once she saw the obviously gay roommate who couldn’t know Noora was also gay.

“It’s complicated, Eva,” Noora said praying they would have the conversation end now.

“I’ve got all night, baby.” Eva said only somewhat sarcastically, “Come over and tell it to me.”

Noora obliged and got back into the bed, “It’s just that I’ve known him forever. We basically grew up together. Since both of us don’t have any siblings and I don’t talk to my parents, he’s all I’ve got.”

Eva interrupted her, “Wait a sec, why don’t you talk to your parents?”

“You only get one part of my tragic backstory at a time.” Noora half-joked, hiding her feelings, “But yeah, he’s basically my big brother. Before I left for Madrid he was always there for me over text and I saw him every long weekend. He was always so open and proud of being gay. He teased me about boys he thought I liked, and when I had my first boyfriend he gave me tips about everything.

“It’s felt weird since I got back from Spain. Not just because we live together now, but also because I feel like my sexuality is too big of a secret to tell him, but also too big not to tell him.” Noora held back tears as she continued, feeling more exposed as each second passed. “The more time passes the more awkward I feel like it will be when I finally tell him. What if he’s mad I didn’t tell him sooner?” Noora looked over to Eva for guidance with tears blurring her vision.

“I know I just met him but he doesn’t seem like someone who gets mad easily. Unless you said Britney Spears wasn’t good or something like that.” Eva joked, causing Noora to giggle through the tears flowing down her face.

“I guess but it just seems that once I do, something will change and I can never get back what I have now. I don’t want to lose what I have with him over something stupid I did.”

Eva was silent. Noora wasn’t sure if she had scared her off with her vulnerability or if she was just thinking. A lot was being said between the two of them and it was quite late.

Eva yawned, “You should just do what you want, Noora.” She leaned over and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek, “It’s late though. You should get to sleep.”

Noora got herself settled into the bed again. Feeling less anxious about her relationships she was able to drift off to sleep easier. This time both girls were holding one another, and both were asleep.


 

Noora woke up the next morning to an empty bed and no messages on her phone. Eva must be a lighter sleeper than Noora if her movements had woken Eva up but not the other way around. Even though Eva wasn’t there Noora was not worried. After their talk last night Noora was sure Eva was just in the bathroom and had gotten up a little earlier than she did. It was around noon, and maybe Eva liked getting up earlier. If she’d left she would have texted her.

She began to worry a bit when she saw that the bathroom was unoccupied. The kitchen wasn’t any help either because she just saw Eskild making some eggs for Linn, by himself. Where was Eva?

“Hey Eskild,” Noora said nonchalantly as she sauntered into the kitchen, “Have you seen my friend Eva anywhere?”

“Eva?” Eskild looked confused.

“Yeah, Eva the girl that was here last night. Have you seen her? Did she leave?” Noora was getting worried.

“Oh that Eva.” Eskild said obnoxiously as if there was some other friend named Eva that Noora had in Oslo, “Well, I saw her leave around ten. She was pretty loud I don’t know how you didn’t hear her.”

Noora was confused. After last night’s chat, she really thought she had figured Eva out. There was something about her she just couldn’t grasp. Something she was hiding. Eva seemed upset that Noora would leave the bed for a second, but now she was gone and hadn’t even left a note.

Noora felt a buzz in her hand. She’d forgotten she was holding her phone still. The screen had a new message from Eva.

Eva: Sorry I left so soon. My mom called because she got home and wanted to know where I was.

Noora smiled at her phone. She had nothing to worry about. She and Eva were fine.

Noora: No problem. Will I see you tomorrow?

Eskild looked over at Noora on her phone, “Who is he?”

“Huh?”

“Who’s the guy that’s warmed Miss Noora Sætre’s heart?”

Noora ignored Eskild and returned to her phone to see what Eva had replied.

Eva: Duh! XOXO

Noora smiled again even brighter. It was all okay. Nothing to worry about.

But why did she leave so soon?

Chapter Text

Noora spent the rest of Sunday cooking with Linn, joking with Eskild, and working on homework. It all felt so great. The day before had been amazing, but she felt uneasy around Eva. It wasn’t Eva’s fault, it was her own. The thought of having to tell everyone the truth ate at her insides.

She didn’t really know why she was so anxious about being out. Nobody in Oslo knew her as anything orientation-wise. She had no long history with anyone except Eskild, and he was also gay. Was she afraid for Eva? That had to be it. It was the only thing that made sense. It was the fear she chose to have for the rest of the day. That was her better reality that didn’t make her question what she thought of herself or her relationship with Eva.

This way was easier. This way she didn’t have to think about her problems. Eva didn’t text her for the rest of Sunday night. Noora didn’t worry, everyone needed space sometimes. That must be why Eva was being weird.

Tomorrow she could talk with Eva. Then she would feel better. Eva was nice like that. Noora took a deep breath when she went to bed that night, with still no reply from Eva, and tried to be calm. Monday would be fine, or at least it would be better.

On Monday morning Noora saw Sana on the bus. They had seen each other a few times the week before and probably before that too, but this time Noora had a name to put to the face. This time Noora knew Sana to be an intense Russ organizer who wanted Noora to dump Eva to gain cred.

As soon as Sana made eye contact Noora felt stuck. Shit, she thought. She teetered over to where Sana was sitting on the bus and held onto a nearby pole. Sana stayed silent, choosing to ignore her. She tried to get her attention with a wave while her other hand hung on for dear life to the pole.

“Hey, Sana!” Noora said a little too cheery for a Monday morning and the grumpy goth girl, the other girl smiled but kept quiet.

Noora looked a little closer and then nearly fell into Sana as the bus made its next turn. It was then that she saw Sana had earbuds in, but her hijab was covering them. She had broken the universal rule of not talking to someone with earbuds in simply because they had been covered up by her jacket and hijab. A conversation could wait, she didn’t want to be rude to the girl.

The bus made its stop at Nissen. Sana got out before Noora could stop her to talk. Noora walked towards the school alone she had gotten to school quite early but didn’t want to go inside yet. She decided to wait out on a bench in the schoolyard. In that moment while feeling alone she was really wondering where Eva would be, so she took out her phone. Noora opened up messenger and texted Eva. It felt needy, but Eva was her girlfriend, kinda, probably, maybe.

She wasn’t sure. Kissing and going skating on weekends should be an automatic pass into girlfriend territory. The conversation would be so awkward. Noora hated awkward.

She was still going to text Eva though. On her phone she began to type out “Babe,” then she stopped. They weren’t there yet, and it was too corny. “Eva I miss you” seemed way too fucking formal. She wasn’t her boss, Noora had seen her boobs. Her mind was still racing when she heard someone behind her bounce her out of her trance.

“Hei baby,” Noora heard a deep female voice behind her say, “I missed you”

Noora turned around and after a quick glance around herself, she gave Eva a quick peck on her lips. She wanted to kiss her forever, but, not yet.

“Baby?” Noora wrinkled her nose in fake disgust at the adorable pet name that made Eva even more irresistible.

“What? It’s fucking cute, Noora. And just because you said that I’m never gonna stop saying it, baby.” Eva said then gave Noora an even quicker kiss than their previous one.

“Noo!” Noora protested with a smile on her face.

Eva took out her phone and looked at the screen for a second only to put it immediately back. The worries of yesterday began to resurface in Noora’s head only to be pushed back down again by Eva’s smile.

“Yes!” Eva laughed as she pulled Noora in for a teasing kiss causing Noora to forget any terrible thing she had suspected of Eva.

Noora pulled out of the kiss when she felt someone nudge her in the rib. It was Vilde and she looked mortified at having to witness two girls kissing. She was going to have to get over that.

“Hey, Noora and Eva, funny bumping into you!” Vilde said despite obviously having bumped into Noora on purpose.

“Hi Vilde,” Noora said, trying to be polite, “and Chris.” Noora saw the other girl was on Vilde’s other side, quietly eating ice cream despite it being mid-October.

“What’s up Vilde?” Eva asked, still with a bit of a dazed post-kiss look on her face.

“I wanted to talk to you about Sana.”

“What about her?” Noora asked despite knowing exactly what Vilde was referring to.

“Well, she actually said it herself. If we want to be a cool russ we need cred, and I don’t think a Muslim gives us much cred. Don’t you think?”

She wasn’t sure how to respond. Noora was trying to get the other girls’ attention to gauge what was happening, but Chris was still too focused on her ice cream spoon to notice anyone else and Eva was staring at her shoes. Noora was praying for a miracle and that Chris would speak up considering she was actually closer with Sana and Vilde. That didn’t seem to be happening, so she spoke up.

“I think it actually gives us a lot of cred Vilde. Having a Muslim girl in our russ means that we are accepting of all people. Our russ represents acceptance and diversity. That’s pretty cool, right?”

“Oh,” Vilde said, now looking at her  feet.

“I agree with Noora,” Eva said smiling wide, “Russ is about having fun and Sana is pretty fun.”

“I think she’s pretty rude,” Vilde said, somewhat under her breath.

Chris finally spoke up, “Sana is the best, we gotta have her on our bus. Also, a bus with only four is too small. Five is better.”

Vilde looked defeated. Noora would have pitied her if she hadn’t just proposed barring a girl from Russ because of her religion.

“So it’s settled then? Sana is on the bus.” Noora said, pretty proud of herself.

The girls all nodded in agreement and then the school bell rang as if it was agreeing with her as well. Noora grabbed for Eva’s hand beside her and walked toward the school building leaving Vilde and Chris behind.

“That was so fucking badass,” Eva said in awe, “Like I bet Beyoncé would use you talking at one of her concerts or something.”

Noora laughed, “I don’t think it’s badass it’s just the right thing to do.”

“Even if Sana wants me to dump you?” Eva said laughing.

“Yeah maybe not,” Noora laughed, “I think she might relax once she finds out how chill we are.”

“I hope so, I don’t want to dump my badass girlfriend already,” Eva said as she gave Noora a kiss on the cheek and walked into her first period.

Noora stopped in her tracks. Eva just called her her girlfriend. She knew she should go to class but she felt like a cartoon character with heart eyes blocking her vision. She was someone’s girlfriend, no not just someone she thought, she was a beautiful girl’s girlfriend. The thought made her almost want to cry but she had a class to get to and couldn’t be late.