Lagoona brushed off the floor where she intended to sit, coughing as the dry dust particles flew into the air. She silently asked herself if this was worth sneaking around Mr. Hack for.
As she sat down in front of the giant window, her eyes fell on Gil on the grass below, and she buried her face in her hands.
The belltower wasn't the perfect place for moping, but it was the only place Lagoona was sure she wouldn't be found in such a state.
It had been a week since things ended with Gil, and she hadn't talked with any of her friends about it, always brushing off the subject.
She didn't want to worry them, but she also didn't really know how to articulate her thoughts. Lagoona was so used to being a shoulder to cry on for everyone else that sharing her own feelings became a challenge.
It was taking a toll on her.
She didn't know how to feel about Gil. So far, what she felt could only be described as a lack of feeling, and the thought scared her. It made her feel heartless.
The exact scene of their breakup had played in her head about a hundred times that week. Gil made some comment about his parents and their intolerance. Lagoona didn't respond. Gil shoved his hands in the pockets the same way he did when he felt uneasy about something he did or didn't do, which, in this case, might have been staying quiet about Lagoona around his parents in the interest of keeping the peace. Lagoona said two words: "We're over."
The next day at lunch, Gil looked at Lagoona with expectant eyes, waiting for her to come back so they could have their exchange where they made up and got back together. Lagoona passed him and sat with Cleo and Deuce. She didn't look back at him (Cleo did that plenty enough for her; the princess had an evil eye like no other when she suspected someone hurt her friends).
Lagoona replayed the scenes on purpose, trying to make herself feel something other than guilt, but it didn't work. It never worked.
She lifted her face from her hands, and didn't see Gil anywhere in the courtyard anymore. She sighed in relief, and stared in silence for a few minutes more.
That is, until she heard another monster enter the tower.
Lagoona turned around, and saw Rochelle emerging from the wooden hatch. She stared with gaping eyes until the gargoyle noticed her.
Rochelle startled a bit, and then lifted her chin in an authoritative manner. "Lagoona?"
"Yeah." She chuckled nervously. "What are you doing up here?"
"I climb up here often. Gargoyles love towers, you know. They are peaceful."
"Oh, yeah. I guess I'm up here for the same reason. I needed some peace."
Rochelle nodded thoughtfully, and Lagoona sensed the other ghoul knew it was about the breakup.
Thankfully, she didn't bring it up. She simply approached the sea monster and sat beside her. "Then I suppose today, I will have a tower buddy."
Lagoona exhaled slowly, and they fell into a comfortable silence.
Her thoughts came back to her, almost as if she were alone again. She kept repeating Gil's face in her mind, trying to make herself feel something that wasn't shame, but she couldn't. She couldn't.
Lagoona reminded herself she wasn't alone by looking over at Rochelle. Her eyes were flitting back and forth from student to student down in the courtyard, and her mouth was hanging slightly open. It was like she forgot she wasn't alone, too.
Words caught in Lagoona's throat, and she tried to hold them back, but a question spilled out before she could stop it.
"How did you know you loved Garrott?"
Rochelle's stare remained unchanged, apparently not caught off-guard by the question. Her voice was as smooth as it was a few minutes ago. "When you are in love, you can just feel it. When we were together, I would have done anything for him, and I know he would have done the same for me."
"Why did you decide to break up?" Lagoona's big eyes cast downward. "Sorry. If that was weird... yeah, it was weird. Sorry."
"Non, it is alright." She looked at her, and her expression was softer now. "After the years apart, we had grown. We are too alike, I think, but we also had nothing to talk about."
Lagoona decided not to push further. "I see."
"Do you think this is what happened with you and Gil?"
There it was. More words spilled out before Lagoona knew what she was doing. "I don't know. I don't know what to feel."
Rochelle's fingers clacked against the stone floor. "Do you think it is better that you are not with him now?"
Lagoona sighed and laughed weakly. "Definitely."
"But you miss him."
"See, I can't tell if I do or not. Sometimes I do, thinking about the times we laughed together, but then I think about... well, everything else."
"You miss being his friend?"
"I..." Lagoona paused, staring at the courtyard below them. Everyone seemed so small from up here, even Marisol. Why was she talking about this with Rochelle? She was cool, but she barely knew her. "I guess that's how I'd word it."
Rochelle nodded and looked in the same direction Lagoona was looking. "It is a sad thing, losing a friend."
"I didn't lose a friend, though! I broke up with my boyfriend! And I can't tell why I don't feel free, or heartbroken, or anything a ghoul is supposed to feel after a breakup. I don't wanna go back to him, but I... I don't know."
The gargoyle's eyes were sadder than they usually were. "It must be a strange feeling, one I have never experienced before. And I am sorry you are going through it."
"It's alright." She sighed. "I'll get over it. It just makes me wonder if I ever even liked him in the first place."
Rochelle blinked. "Did you?"
"I think so? I thought he was bonkers cute when he first started coming here." Lagoona laughed and shook her head. "Saying it out loud sounds stupid."
"Not stupid. Did you ever think about a future with him? Having children, owning a home?"
Lagoona blinked, and her lips parted in contemplation. "No. It never even occurred to me. Everything was about the present."
Rochelle nodded slowly. "Forgive me for my bluntness, but that does not sound like it was a good sign."
"I guess not."
The two stayed quiet for a moment longer, watching their friends cross the courtyard on their ways home. Lagoona felt tears pricking at her eyes, but they never left, even though she would have let them come. They didn't flow around Rochelle as easily as the words seemed to.
Rochelle broke the silence. "Garrott is not the only one I have ever loved."
Lagoona looked at the gargoyle, but her gaze didn't leave the window. Rochelle looked intensely focused, the same way she looked when she was on hall monitor duty. Lagoona had never seen another expression like it before; it was like the sense of responsibility on her shoulders could only be supported by undivided attention and complete stillness.
Rochelle continued, "The first was a friend I had early in high school back in Scaris. Her name was Allette. We were inseperable, and she made my heart feel light, like it was fluttering. I have lost contact with her now, but, like I did with Garrott, we simply drifted apart."
"I'm sorry about that."
"Non, it is alright. We were never partners; I hadn't realized I was bisexual at that point in my life. I do not mention Allette for no reason, Lagoona."
Lagoona tensed up, and she felt herself immediately on the defense. "Are you suggesting I might like girls?"
Rochelle put a gentle hand up. "I make no assumptions, I simply bring up the idea. It is only because your thoughts remind me of a friend of mine who discovered she is not attracted to men."
"I had that whole thing with Gil, though."
"I don't want to tell you what you felt, but it sounds to me like you possibly did not feel the same way about him as he felt about you. These kinds of relationships are not as uncommon as you would think, unfortunately."
Lagoona inhaled, about to defend Gil, but stopped the familiar reflex and seriously considered Rochelle's words. Her brain was a whirlwind of emotions.
It wasn't as if the monster world had much animosity towards gay people the way normies did (monsters were too busy fueling racial rivalries, which was its own problem). It was just that Lagoona had never even considered the possibility for herself. She had grown up hearing about her future husband, her parents telling her to bring a sensible boy to the house, talking with her ocean friends about the complications with having a non-aquatic boyfriend.
She never thought a future with a husband, much less with Gil. She didn't think much about the future at all; every time someone asked, she felt dread forming in her gut, and changed the subject.
Maybe Rochelle had a point. Just maybe.
Lagoona pulled her knees up under her chin. "I don't know if I like girls. I've never even thought about it."
Rochelle put a stone hand on Lagoona's shoulder and gave her a curt nod. "I just thought I would present the option; I didn't mean to come across like you should come to a conclusion today."
"No, no, you're fine. You've given me a lot to think about, Rochelle. Thanks"
They smiled warmly at each other, Rochelle's eyes sympathetic and Lagoona's sad. "It will be alright, mon amie. You will feel better about Gil soon. Surround yourself with loved ones and heal."
"I will. I'm gonna try and ask for help more when I need it. But for now, I'm gonna go swimming, I think. It'll clear my head. You wanna come with and fang out some more?"
"I will not be able to join you in the water, but I would be happy to watch."
The girls stood up and wordlessly left the belltower, the warmth of their new bond radiating between them. The air was heavy, but it wasn't only with guilt and uncertainty; open doors and fresh starts were looming there, too.